11 hurt in mass shooting in Savannah, Georgia

SAVANNAH, Ga. — An argument between two women led to a gunfight that left 11 people hurt in a busy tourist area of Savannah, Georgia, late Saturday, one of five weekend shootings in the city, two of which were fatal, authorities said. Two people were injured in separate shootings Friday. Two more shootings Saturday resulted in two deaths. Then came the gunfire just before midnight Saturday near Savannah’s Ellis Square. The shooting broke out as two women argued in an area business, according to Police Chief Lenny Gunther, who didn’t name the establishment. “One shot rang out. That triggered other individuals to shoot,” he said. “We had multiple individuals discharge their weapons to shoot at each other, which resulted in multiple people getting shot.” Ten of the 11 injured were hit by gunfire. Authorities did not say what caused the 11th injury. Victims were treated at the scene and “several” were taken to a hospital, police said. None of the injuries appeared life threatening. Mayor Van Johnson said a proliferation of guns was a factor in the shootings and that reasonable gun control laws are needed. He also stressed the need for gun owners to keep their weapons from being stolen and for people carrying guns to know how and when to use them. “We have to insist on smart gun laws,” Johnson said at a Sunday news conference. “And then, on the other end, we have to insist that people act responsibly with those weapons.” The mass shooting happened a week ahead of the tourist-heavy Memorial Day weekend. Gunther sought to assure people that police staffing will be sufficient to keep the public safe. Ellis Square is in Savannah’s historic district, an area popular among tourists and locals. It was developed in 2010 and is known for a large fountain and a life-sized statue of songwriter Johnny Mercer. The first two of Savannah’s weekend shootings happened Friday. Each of those resulted in a non-life-threatening injury and an arrest. On Saturday, police answering a call about a home invasion found a dead juvenile at the home. Initial reports are that shots were fired after a resident confronted an armed intruder. Still another shooting was reported at a Savannah intersection Saturday night that left one man dead and a juvenile injured. …

Blue Origin flies thrill seekers to space, including oldest astronaut 

Washington — After a nearly two year hiatus, Blue Origin flew adventurers to space on Sunday including a former Air Force pilot who was denied the chance to be the United States’ first Black astronaut decades ago.    It was the first crewed launch for the enterprise owned and founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos since a rocket mishap in 2022 left rival Virgin Galactic as the sole operator in the fledgling suborbital tourism market.    Six people including the sculptor Ed Dwight, who was on track to become NASA’s first ever astronaut of color in the 1960s before being controversially spurned, launched around 09:36 am local time (1436 GMT) from the Launch Site One base in west Texas, a live feed showed.    Dwight — at 90 years, 8 months and 10 days — became the oldest person to ever go to space.    “This is a life-changing experience, everybody needs to do this,” he exclaimed after the flight.    Dwight added: “I thought I didn’t really need this in my life,” reflecting on his omission from the astronaut corps, which was his first experience with failure as a young man. “But I lied,” he said with a hearty laugh.    Mission NS-25 is the seventh human flight for Blue Origin, which sees short jaunts on the New Shepard suborbital vehicle as a stepping stone to greater ambitions, including the development of a full-fledged heavy rocket and lunar lander.    To date, the company has flown 31 people aboard New Shepard — a small, fully reusable rocket system named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space.  The program encountered a setback when a New Shepard rocket caught fire shortly after launch on September 12, 2022, even though the uncrewed capsule ejected safely.    A federal investigation revealed an overheating engine nozzle was at fault. Blue Origin took corrective steps and carried out a successful uncrewed launch in December 2023, paving the way for Sunday’s mission.    After liftoff, the sleek and roomy capsule separated from the booster, which produces zero carbon emissions. The rocket performed a precision vertical landing.    As the spaceship soared beyond the Karman Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space 100 kilometers above sea level, passengers had the chance to marvel at the Earth’s curvature and unbuckle their seatbelts to float — or somersault — during a few minutes of weightlessness.    The capsule then reentered the atmosphere, deploying … “Blue Origin flies thrill seekers to space, including oldest astronaut “

Diddy admits beating ex-girlfriend Cassie, says he’s sorry, calls his actions ‘inexcusable’  

Los Angeles — Sean “Diddy” Combs admitted that he beat his ex-girlfriend Cassie in a hotel hallway in 2016 after CNN released video of the attack, saying in a video apology he was “truly sorry” and his actions were “inexcusable.”  “I take full responsibility for my actions in that video. I was disgusted then when I did it. I’m disgusted now,” the music mogul said in a video statement posted Sunday to Instagram and Facebook.  The video aired by CNN Friday shows Combs, wearing only a white towel, punching and kicking Cassie, an R&B singer who was his protege and longtime girlfriend at the time. The footage also shows Combs shoving and dragging Cassie, and throwing a vase in her direction.  Cassie, whose legal name is Cassandra Ventura, sued Combs in November over what she said was years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. The suit was settled the next day, but spurred intense scrutiny of Combs, with several more lawsuits filed in the following months, along with a federal criminal sex-trafficking investigation that led authorities to raid Combs’ mansions in Los Angeles and Miami.  He denied the allegations in the lawsuits, but neither he nor his representatives had responded to the newly emerged video until Sunday.  “It’s so difficult to reflect on the darkest times in your life, but sometimes you got to do that,” Diddy says on the video. He adds, “I was disgusted then when I did it. I’m disgusted now. I went and I sought out professional help. I got into going to therapy, going to rehab. I had to ask God for his mercy and grace. I’m so sorry. But I’m committed to be a better man each and every day. I’m not asking for forgiveness. I’m truly sorry.”  Combs is looking somber and wearing a T-shirt in the selfie-style apology video, and appears to be on a patio.  The security camera video, dated March 5, 2016, closely resembles the description of an incident at an InterContinental Hotel in the Century City area of Los Angeles described in Ventura’ lawsuit.  The suit alleges that Combs paid the hotel $50,000 for the security video immediately after the incident. Neither he or his representatives have addressed that specific allegation. CNN did not say how it obtained the footage.  …

Biden risks Gaza protests at Martin Luther King Jr.’s college

ATLANTA — U.S. President Joe Biden speaks Sunday at the former university of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr, in a bid to woo Black voters that risks being overshadowed by protests against Israel’s war in Gaza. Biden’s graduation speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, will be his most direct engagement with students since demonstrations over the conflict roiled campuses across the United States. Students at Morehouse, a historically Black college, have called on the school’s administration to cancel the speech over Biden’s support for Israel, which has caused strong opposition in a U.S. presidential election year. “I think it will be a moving commencement address. I think it will meet the moment,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a briefing Friday. Asked about reports that the college principal would shut down the ceremony if there was major disruption, Jean-Pierre said: “He will respect the peaceful protesters. It is up to Morehouse on how to manage that and move forward.” A senior White House official recently met students and faculty members at Morehouse to discuss objections to Biden delivering the address, NBC News reported. While Biden’s choice of Martin Luther King Jr’s alma mater emphasizes the heroism of the civil rights hero, protesters have pointed out that King was also an anti-war activist who opposed the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Biden initially stayed silent on the Gaza protests but later said that “order must prevail” after police broke up several university protest encampments around the U.S. Biden poll worries Biden’s problems with voters over Gaza mirrors wider issues he has with Black and younger voters, two groups that helped him beat Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 election. He will need to keep those strands in his coalition to have a hope of preventing Trump from making a sensational comeback to the White House despite a chaotic first term and multiple criminal indictments. The Morehouse College visit caps days of events in which Biden is reaching out to Black voters, all staged around the 70th anniversary of a 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended racial school segregation. A New York Times/Siena poll last week showed that in addition to trailing Trump in several key battleground states, Biden is also losing ground with African Americans. Trump is winning more than 20% of Black voters in the poll — which would be the highest level of … “Biden risks Gaza protests at Martin Luther King Jr.’s college”

US official, Saudi crown prince meet to discuss ‘semifinal’ security deal

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser met early Sunday with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss what the kingdom described as the “semifinal” version of a wide-ranging security agreement between the countries. The announcement by the state-run Saudi Press Agency comes as the strategic deal had been upended after Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and saw 250 others taken hostage back to the Gaza Strip. In the time since, a punishing Israeli airstrike campaign and ground offensive there has killed over 35,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. The war has endangered the security deal that had included Saudi Arabia diplomatically recognizing Israel for the first time since its founding in 1948. Saudi state media released no images of Jake Sullivan and Prince Mohammed meeting in Dhahran, a city in the kingdom’s far east that’s home to its state-run oil giant, the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. known as Saudi Aramco. “The semifinal version of the draft strategic agreements between the kingdom and the United States of America, which are almost being finalized — and what is being worked on between the two sides in the Palestinian issue to find a credible path — were discussed,” the statement released after the talks said. That included “a two-state solution that meets the aspirations and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” and “the situation in Gaza and the need to stop the war there and facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid,” the statement added. Saudi Arabia has long called for an independent Palestinian state to be created along Israel’s 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital. However, that likely may be untenable for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government hinges on support from hardliners who oppose a two-state solution and support Israeli settlements on lands Palestinians want for that state. The White House had acknowledged Sullivan’s trip and that he would later head on to Israel, where he’s scheduled meet Netanyahu on Sunday. However, there was no immediate statement from the U.S. on the discussions, other than to say they would be “including the war in Gaza and ongoing efforts to achieve a lasting peace and security in the region.” Saudi Arabia has long relied — like other Gulf Arab nations — on the U.S. to be the security guarantor for the wider Middle East as … “US official, Saudi crown prince meet to discuss ‘semifinal’ security deal”

Illness took away her voice. AI created a replica she carries in her phone

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND — The voice Alexis “Lexi” Bogan had before last summer was exuberant. She loved to belt out Taylor Swift and Zach Bryan ballads in the car. She laughed all the time — even while corralling misbehaving preschoolers or debating politics with friends over a backyard fire pit. In high school, she was a soprano in the chorus. Then that voice was gone. Doctors in August removed a life-threatening tumor lodged near the back of her brain. When the breathing tube came out a month later, Bogan had trouble swallowing and strained to say “Hi” to her parents. Months of rehabilitation aided her recovery, but her speech is still impaired. Friends, strangers and her own family members struggle to understand what she is trying to tell them. In April, the 21-year-old got her old voice back. Not the real one, but a voice clone generated by artificial intelligence that she can summon from a phone app. Trained on a 15-second time capsule of her teenage voice — sourced from a cooking demonstration video she recorded for a high school project — her synthetic but remarkably real-sounding AI voice can now say almost anything she wants. She types a few words or sentences into her phone and the app instantly reads it aloud. “Hi, can I please get a grande iced brown sugar oat milk shaken espresso,” said Bogan’s AI voice as she held the phone out her car’s window at a Starbucks drive-thru. Experts have warned that rapidly improving AI voice-cloning technology can amplify phone scams, disrupt democratic elections and violate the dignity of people — living or dead — who never consented to having their voice recreated to say things they never spoke. It’s been used to produce deepfake robocalls to New Hampshire voters mimicking President Joe Biden. In Maryland, authorities recently charged a high school athletic director with using AI to generate a fake audio clip of the school’s principal making racist remarks. But Bogan and a team of doctors at Rhode Island’s Lifespan hospital group believe they’ve found a use that justifies the risks. Bogan is one of the first people — the only one with her condition — who have been able to recreate a lost voice with OpenAI’s new Voice Engine. Some other AI providers, such as the startup ElevenLabs, have tested similar technology for people with speech impediments and loss — including a … “Illness took away her voice. AI created a replica she carries in her phone”

Pro-Palestinian protesters rally in Washington to mark painful past, present

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of protesters rallied within sight of the U.S. Capitol, chanting pro-Palestinian slogans and voicing criticism of the Israeli and American governments as they marked a painful present — the war in Gaza — and past — the exodus of about 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from what is now Israel when the state was created in 1948.  About 400 demonstrators braved steady rains to rally on the National Mall on the 76th anniversary of what is called the Nakba, the Arabic word for catastrophe. In January, thousands of pro-Palestinian activists had gathered in the nation’s capital in one of the larger protests in recent memory.  There were calls in support of Palestinian rights and an immediate end to Israeli military operations in Gaza. “No peace on stolen land” and “End the killings, stop the crime/Israel out of Palestine,” echoed through the crowd.  Protesters also focused their anger on President Joe Biden, whom they accuse of feigning concern over the death toll in Gaza.  “Biden Biden, you will see/genocide’s your legacy,” they said. The Democratic president was in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday.  Reem Lababdi, a George Washington University sophomore who said she was pepper-sprayed by police last week when they broke up an on-campus protest encampment, acknowledged that the rain seemed to hold down the numbers.  “I’m proud of every single person who turned out in this weather to speak their minds and send their message,” she said.  This year’s commemoration was fueled by anger over the ongoing siege of Gaza. The latest Israel-Hamas war began when Hamas and other militants stormed into southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking an additional 250 hostage. Palestinian militants still hold about 100 captives, and Israel’s military has killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.  Speaker Osama Abuirshad, executive director of American Muslims for Palestine, gestured at the Capitol building dome behind him.  “This Congress does not speak for us. This Congress does not represent the will of the people,” he said. “We’re paying for the bombs. We’re paying for the F-16s and F-35s. And then we do the poor Palestinians a favor and send some food.”  Speakers also expressed anger over the violent crackdown on multiple pro-Palestinian protest camps at universities across the country. In recent weeks, long-term encampments have been broken … “Pro-Palestinian protesters rally in Washington to mark painful past, present”

Heat poses new risk for thousands without power after deadly Texas storm

houston, texas — As the Houston, Texas, area works to clean up and restore power to hundreds of thousands after deadly storms left at least seven people dead, it will do so amid a smog warning and scorching temperatures that could pose health risks. National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Chenard said Saturday that highs of around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 Celsius) were expected through the start of the coming week, with heat indexes likely approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) by midweek. “We expect the impact of the heat to gradually increase … we will start to see that heat risk increase Tuesday into Wednesday through Friday,” Chenard said. The heat index is what the temperature feels like to the human body when humidity is combined with the air temperature, according to the weather service. “Don’t overdo yourself during the cleanup process,” the weather service’s Houston office said in a post on the social platform X. In addition to the heat, the Houston area could face poor air quality during the weekend. Heavy rainfall was possible in eastern Louisiana and central Alabama on Saturday, and parts of Louisiana were also at risk of flooding. The Houston Health Department said it would distribute 400 free portable air conditioners to area seniors, people with disabilities, and caregivers of disabled children to contend with the heat. Five cooling centers also were opened — four in Houston and one in Kingwood. Hundreds of thousands without power The widespread destruction of Thursday’s storms brought much of Houston to a standstill. Thunderstorms and hurricane-force winds tore through the city — decimating the facade of one brick building and leaving trees, debris and shattered glass on the streets. A tornado also touched down near the northwest Houston suburb of Cypress. More than a half-million homes and businesses in Texas remained without electricity by midday Saturday, according to PowerOutage.us. Another 21,000 customers were also without power in Louisiana, where strong winds and a suspected tornado hit. CenterPoint Energy, which has deployed 1,000 employees to the area and is requesting 5,000 more, said power restoration could take several days or longer in some areas, and that customers need to ensure their homes can safely be reconnected. “In addition to damaging CenterPoint Energy’s electric infrastructure and equipment, severe weather may have caused damage to customer-owned equipment” such as the weatherhead, which is where power enters the home, the company said. Customers … “Heat poses new risk for thousands without power after deadly Texas storm”

Yemen’s Houthi rebels reportedly fire missile, hitting tanker in Red Sea

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Yemen’s Houthi rebels hit an oil tanker in the Red Sea with a ballistic missile early Saturday, damaging the Panama-flagged, Greek-owned vessel in their latest assault over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, officials said. Although the Houthis did not immediately claim the assault, it comes as they claimed to have shot down a U.S. military MQ-9 Reaper drone over Yemen and have launched other attacks on shipping, disrupting trade on a key maritime route leading to the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea. The attack around 1 a.m. struck the oil tanker Wind, which recently docked in Russia and was bound for China, the U.S. military’s Central Command said. China and Russia maintain ties over military equipment and oil to Iran, the Houthis’ main benefactor. The missile strike “caused flooding which resulted in the of loss propulsion and steering,” Central Command said on the social platform X. “The crew of M/T Wind was able to restore propulsion and steering, and no casualties were reported. M/T Wind resumed its course under its own power.” The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center and the private security firm Ambrey similarly acknowledged the attack earlier Saturday. Ambrey said it caused a fire aboard the Wind. It can take the Houthis hours — or even days — to claim their attacks. The Houthis have launched attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, demanding Israel ends the war in Gaza. The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration. Houthi attacks have dropped in recent weeks as the rebels have been targeted by a U.S.-led airstrike campaign in Yemen. Even so, shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden still remains low because of the threat. The Houthis claimed that they shot down the Reaper on Thursday with a surface-to-air missile. They described the drone as “carrying out hostile actions” in Yemen’s Marib province, which remains held by allies of Yemen’s exiled, internationally recognized government. Since the Houthis seized the country’s north and its capital, Sanaa, in 2014, the U.S. military has previously lost at least five drones to the rebels. Reapers, which cost around $30 million apiece, can fly at altitudes up to 50,000 feet and have an endurance of up to 24 hours before needing to … “Yemen’s Houthi rebels reportedly fire missile, hitting tanker in Red Sea”

Bird flu found in western China as US combats cattle outbreak

BEIJING — Cases of bird flu have been confirmed among wild fowl in western China, the agriculture ministry said Saturday, as concerns grow over a U.S. outbreak infecting cattle.  Two counties in Qinghai province confirmed 275 cases of H5 influenza among dead Pallas’s gull and other wild birds, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a notice on its website.  The ministry received a report on the cases from the China Animal Disease Control Center, and the national Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory confirmed the finding, the notice said.  The H5N1 outbreak among dairy cattle in at least nine U.S. states since late March has raised questions over whether it could spread to humans. No such cases have been reported.  The U.S. announced on May 11 that it would spend close to $200 million to fight the outbreak.  News of the China bird flu cases came as the nation’s anti-graft watchdog announced a corruption probe of the agriculture minister Saturday.  Tang Renjian, 61, is under investigation for “serious violations of discipline and law” by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and National Supervisory Commission, CCDI said on its website.  The term is CCDI’s typical euphemism for corruption.  The notice gave no further details.  …

US ambassador to Japan visits southern islands, focus of China tension

TOKYO — The U.S. ambassador to Japan stressed Friday the importance of increased deterrence and his country’s commitment to its key ally as he visited two southwestern Japanese islands at the forefront of Tokyo’s tension with Beijing. Rahm Emanuel visited Yonaguni, Japan’s westernmost island just east of Taiwan, a self-governed island also claimed by China. He later visited another Japanese island, Ishigaki, home to Japan Coast Guard patrol boats defending the disputed East China Sea islands and Japanese fishermen from armed Chinese coast guard ships that routinely enter Japanese waters. Japan has been making a southwest shift of its defense posture and is further accelerating its military buildup under a 2022 security strategy that focuses on counterstrike capability with long-range cruise missiles. Emanuel was the first U.S. ambassador to visit Yonaguni. Escorted by Mayor Kenichi Itokazu, he looked toward Taiwan, only 110 kilometers (68 miles) away. He met with Japanese Self Defense Force servicemembers at a local base installed in 2016 and where a missile defense system is planned. The ambassador said the main purpose of his visit was to show U.S. support for the local fishing community. He also met with a local fisherman who was among those affected by China’s increasingly assertive actions in the regional seas. China fired five missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in 2022 after the visit to Taiwan of then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Emanuel said the fisherman told him he could not sell his fish for about a week after the Chinese action. “If they don’t have deterrence, that’s going to be worse,” Emanuel told The Associated Press from Ishigaki, the second island he visited Friday. “If you have a very robust deterrence, it ensures that there is peace, ensures that there is security, ensures economic prosperity. Without that, it’s more likely to be a green light to those that want to use economic coercion and confrontation as their only means of expression.” Emanuel said Yonaguni fishers still catch fish for a living, supporting the local economy and helping reinforce Japanese territorial rights. “That’s what a real win looks like — economic security,” he said on social platform X. In Ishigaki, Japan’s coast guard protects fishing boats in the disputed waters around the Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea that Tokyo calls Senkaku. Beijing also claims the islands and calls them Diaoyu, and its coast guard ships often face off with their … “US ambassador to Japan visits southern islands, focus of China tension”

Teen who died after eating spicy chip had heart defect, autopsy says

Boston, Massachusetts — A Massachusetts teen who participated in a spicy tortilla chip challenge on social media died from eating a large quantity of chile pepper extract and also had a congenital heart defect, according to autopsy results obtained by The Associated Press.  Harris Wolobah, a 10th-grader from the city of Worcester, died on September 1, 2023, after eating the Paqui chip as part of the manufacturer’s “One Chip Challenge.”  “We were and remain deeply saddened by the death of Harris Wolobah and extend our condolences to his family and friends,” Paqui, a Texas-based subsidiary of the Hershey Co., said in a statement Thursday. A phone number listed for Harris’ family was disconnected. The Associated Press left messages seeking comment with friends of the family.  Harris died of cardiopulmonary arrest “in the setting of recent ingestion of food substance with high capsaicin concentration,” according to the autopsy from the Chief Office of the Medical Examiner. Capsaicin is the component that gives chile peppers their heat.  The autopsy also said that Harris had cardiomegaly, meaning an enlarged heart, and a congenital defect described as “myocardial bridging of the left anterior descending coronary artery.”  A myocardial bridge occurs when a segment of a major artery of the heart runs within the heart muscle instead of on its surface, according to Dr. James Udelson, chief of cardiology at Tufts Medical Center.  “It is possible that with significant stimulation of the heart, the muscle beyond the bridge suddenly had abnormal blood flow (‘ischemia’) and could have been a cause of a severe arrhythmia,” Udelson told the AP in an email. “There have been reports of acute toxicity with capsaicin causing ischemia of the heart muscle.”  Large doses of capsaicin can increase how the heart squeezes, putting extra pressure on the artery, noted Dr. Syed Haider, a cardiologist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.  But while the autopsy results suggest that a heart defect probably made Harris more vulnerable to the negative effects of the chile pepper extract, people without underlying risk factors can also experience serious heart problems from ingesting large amounts of capsaicin, Haider said.  Udelson and Haider both spoke in general terms; neither was involved in Harris’ case.  The cause of Harris’ death was determined on February 27, and a death certificate was released to the Worcester city clerk’s office on March 5, according to Elaine Driscoll, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Executive Office … “Teen who died after eating spicy chip had heart defect, autopsy says”

70 years after landmark court ruling, US schools still segregated

WASHINGTON — Seventy years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled separating children in schools by race was unconstitutional. On paper, that decision — the fabled Brown v. Board of Education, taught in most every American classroom — still stands. But for decades, American schools have been re-segregating. The country is more diverse than it ever has been, with students more exposed to classmates from different backgrounds. Still, around 4 out of 10 Black and Hispanic students attend schools where almost every one of their classmates is another student of color. The intense segregation by race is linked to socioeconomic conditions: Schools where students of color compose more than 90% of the student body are five times more likely to be located in low-income areas. That in turn has resounding academic consequences: Students who attend high-poverty schools, regardless of their family’s finances, have worse educational outcomes. Efforts to slow or reverse the increasing separation of American schools have stalled. Court cases slowly have chipped away at the dream outlined in the case of Brown v. Board, leaving fewer and fewer tools in the hands of districts to integrate schools by the early 2000s. The arc of the moral universe, in this case, does not seem to be bending toward justice. “School integration exists as little more than an idea in America right now, a little more than a memory,” said Derek Black, a law professor at the University of Southern California. “It’s actually an idea that a pretty good majority of Americans think is a good idea. But that’s all.” More than just diverse schools The dream of Brown was never as simple as diversity. It was about equality, and the opportunity that came with it. From the beginning, funding and integration have been inseparable. “Whiter schools and districts have more resources, and that is wrong,” said Ary Amerikaner, a former Obama administration official and the founder of Brown’s Promise. “But it is a reality. And that undermines opportunity for students of color, and it undermines our future democracy.” We remember Brown v. Board as the end of segregated schools in the United States. But stating values does not, alone, change reality. Though the case was decided in 1954, it was followed by more than a decade of delay and avoidance before school districts began to meaningfully allow Black students to enter white schools. It took further court rulings, monitoring … “70 years after landmark court ruling, US schools still segregated”

Changes from Visa mean Americans will carry fewer credit, debit cards

new york — Your wallet may soon be getting thinner. Visa on Wednesday announced major changes to how credit and debit cards will operate in the U.S. in the coming months and years. The new features could mean Americans will be carrying fewer physical cards in their wallets, and will make the 16-digit credit or debit card number printed on every card increasingly irrelevant. They will be some of the biggest changes to how payments operate in the U.S. since the U.S. rolled out chip-embedded cards several years ago. They also come as Americans have many more options to pay for purchases beyond “credit or debit,” including buy now, pay later companies, peer-to-peer payment options, paying directly with a bank, or digital payment systems such as Apple Pay. “I think (with these features) we’re getting past the point where consumers may never need to manually enter an account number ever again,” said Mark Nelsen, Visa’s global head of consumer payments. The biggest change coming for Americans will be the ability for banks to issue one physical payment card that will be connected to multiple bank accounts. That means no more carrying, for example, a Bank of America or Chase debit card as well as their respective credit cards in a physical wallet. Americans will be able to set criteria with their bank — such as having all purchases below $100 or with a certain merchant applied to the debit card, while other purchases go on the credit card. The feature, already being used in Asia, will be available this summer. Buy now, pay later company Affirm is the first of Visa’s customers to roll out the feature in the U.S. Fraud prompts changes Some of Visa’s new features are in response to online-payments fraud, which continues to increase as more countries adopt digital payments. The company based in San Francisco, California, estimates that payment fraud happens roughly seven times more often online than it does in person, and there are now billions of stolen credit and debit card numbers available to criminals. Other new elements are also in response to features that non-payments companies have rolled out in recent years. The Apple Card, which uses Mastercard as its payment network, does not come with a printed 16-digit account number and Apple Card users can request a fresh credit card number at any time without having to dispose of the physical card. … “Changes from Visa mean Americans will carry fewer credit, debit cards”

San Diego is latest hot spot for illegal border crossings, but routes change quickly

JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS, California — On many nights, hundreds of migrants squeeze through poles in a border wall or climb over on metal ladders. They gather in a buffer zone between two walls with views of the night lights of Tijuana, Mexico, waiting hours for Border Patrol agents while volunteers deliver hot coffee, instant ramen and bandages for busted knees and swollen ankles.  About an hour drive east, where the moon offers the only light, up to hundreds more navigate a boulder-strewn desert looking for always-shifting areas where migrants congregate. Groups of just a few to dozens walk dirt trails and paved roads searching for agents.  The scenes are a daily reminder that San Diego became the busiest corridor for illegal crossings in April, according to U.S. figures, the fifth region to hold that distinction in two years in a sign of how quickly migration routes are changing.  Routes were remarkably stable a short time ago. San Diego was the busiest Border Patrol sector for decades until more enforcement pushed migrants to the desert area near Tucson, Arizona, which became the top spot by 1998. The Rio Grande Valley in South Texas saw the most activity from 2013 to June 2022 as Central Americans became a greater presence.  Migrants were arrested nearly 128,900 times on the Mexican border in April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday, down 6.3% from March and barely half of a record-high 250,000 in December. While still historically high, April bucked a typical spring increase.  The drop is largely due to heightened Mexican enforcement, which includes blocking migrants from boarding freight trains, according to U.S. officials. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott touts his multibillion-dollar border crackdown, while others highlight violence in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas as a deterrent on the path to the Rio Grande Valley.  Mexico pledged it won’t allow more than 4,000 illegal crossings a day to the U.S., Alicia Bárcena, Mexico’s foreign relations secretary, told reporters Tuesday. The U.S. Border Patrol arrested more than 10,000 on some days in December.  Despite the overall decline, arrests in the San Diego sector reached 37,370 in April, up 10.6% from March to replace Tucson as the busiest of nine sectors bordering Mexico. Troy Miller, CBP’s acting commissioner, said more enforcement, including with other countries, led to overall declines from March, while acknowledging “continually shifting migration patterns.”  Many migrants say San Diego is the easiest and least … “San Diego is latest hot spot for illegal border crossings, but routes change quickly”

Dabney Coleman, actor who specialized in curmudgeons, dies

new york — Dabney Coleman, the mustachioed character actor who specialized in smarmy villains such asd the chauvinist boss in “9 to 5” and the nasty TV director in “Tootsie,” has died. He was 92.  Coleman died Thursday at his home in Santa Monica, his daughter, Quincy Coleman, said in a statement to The Associated Press. She said he “took his last earthly breath peacefully and exquisitely.”  “The great Dabney Coleman literally created, or defined, really — in a uniquely singular way — an archetype as a character actor. He was so good at what he did it’s hard to imagine movies and television of the last 40 years without him,” Ben Stiller wrote on X.  Coleman’s delivery drew fans For two decades Coleman labored in movies and television shows as a talented but largely unnoticed performer. That changed in 1976 when he was cast as the incorrigibly corrupt mayor of the hamlet of Fernwood in “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” a satirical soap opera that was so over the top no network would touch it.  Producer Norman Lear finally managed to syndicate the show, which starred Louise Lasser in the title role. It quickly became a cult favorite. Coleman’s character, Mayor Merle Jeeter, was especially popular and his masterful, comic deadpan delivery did not go overlooked by film and network executives.  A six-footer with an ample black mustache, Coleman went on to make his mark in numerous popular films, including as a stressed out computer scientist in “War Games,” Tom Hanks’ father in “You’ve Got Mail,” and a firefighting official in “The Towering Inferno.”  He won a Golden Globe for “The Slap Maxwell Story” and an Emmy Award for best supporting actor in Peter Levin’s 1987 small screen legal drama “Sworn to Silence.” Some of his recent credits include “Ray Donovan” and a recurring role on “Boardwalk Empire,” for which he won two Screen Actors Guild Awards.  In the groundbreaking 1980 hit “9 to 5,” he was the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss who tormented his unappreciated female underlings — Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton — until they turned the tables on him.  Opposite Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie,” he was the obnoxious director of a daytime soap opera that Hoffman’s character joins by pretending to be a woman.   Coleman’s obnoxious characters didn’t translate quite as well on television, where he starred in a handful of network comedies. … “Dabney Coleman, actor who specialized in curmudgeons, dies”

Upside-down flag at justice’s home another blow for US Supreme Court under fire

WASHINGTON — An upside-down U.S. flag has long been a sign of dire distress and versatile symbol of protest. But in January 2021, when it flew over the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, it was largely seen in connection with a specific cause: the false claim by then-President Donald Trump’s supporters that the 2020 election had been marred by fraud. The revelation this week about the flag flying at Alito’s home was the latest blow to a Supreme Court already under fire as it considers unprecedented cases against Trump and some of those charged with rioting at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Alito has said the flag was briefly flown by his wife amid a dispute with neighbors and he had no part in it. But the incident reported by The New York Times adds to concerns about an institution that’s increasingly seen as partisan and lacking strict ethical guidelines. The high court is now facing questions about whether the spouses of two of its members question the legitimacy of the 2020 election, and if those justices should be hearing cases related to the January 6 riot and Trump’s role in it. Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, faced calls for recusal after reports that his wife, Virginia Thomas, was involved in efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win. “We’re talking about a fundamental bedrock American value about peaceful transfer of power, about elections,” said Tony Carrk, executive director of Accountable US, a progressive watchdog organization. “It’s just the integrity of the democratic process.” Several Democrats in Congress, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, called for Alito to recuse himself from Trump-related cases. Justices can and do voluntarily recuse themselves, but they make those calls and they aren’t subject to review. There was no indication Alito would do so. He did not respond to a request for comment sent through the court’s public information office. While the Supreme Court long went without its own specific code of ethics, an institutional reputation of staying above the political fray has long helped bolster its relatively high levels of public trust. But in the wake of the 2022 decision overturning a nationwide right to abortion — an opinion that was leaked before its release — public trust sank to its lowest level in 50 years. There’s also been sustained … “Upside-down flag at justice’s home another blow for US Supreme Court under fire”