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Durst jurors to get refresher in deaths tied to millionaire

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Jurors in the murder trial of Robert Durst are getting a refresher in the deaths that have dogged the multimillionaire. A new round of opening statements is scheduled Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court after an unprecedented 14-month recess in the case because of the coronavirus pandemic. The judge dismissed one juror after trying to determine if they could be fair and questioning them about health concerns or hardships that would prevent them from serving another four to five months. Durst has pleaded not guilty in the killing of his best friend in 2000. His lawyers have said he plans to testify in his defense.

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Judge to hear evidence on actor Danny Masterson rape charges

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors are set to begin presenting evidence to a judge as they attempt to show “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson should stand trial in the rapes of three women. The 45-year-old Masterson has pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles court. He’s been free on bail since his June arrest. At the hearing scheduled to begin Tuesday, prosecutors say they will present evidence that he raped one woman in 2001 and two others in 2003. Masterson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau has said he’s absolutely not guilty and he’s going to prove it. Masterson could get 45 years in prison if convicted.

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Announcement expected in probe of Black man shot by deputies

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ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) — The district attorney who will decide whether to file criminal charges in the fatal shooting of a Black man by North Carolina deputies is set to discuss the findings of the state’s investigation. District Attorney Andrew Womble scheduled a Tuesday morning news conference to talk about the State Bureau of Investigation’s probe into Andrew Brown Jr.’s death. Womble didn’t respond to an email Monday asking if he would announce a decision about filing criminal charges against the deputies. Womble has resisted calls from the state’s Democratic governor and Brown’s family to let an independent prosecutor take over. Under state law, Womble would have to agree to step aside. 

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The Latest: India reports record for single-day virus deaths

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NEW DELHI — India’s total virus cases since the pandemic began swept past 25 million as the country registered more than 260,000 new cases and a record 4,329 fatalities in the last 24 hours.

The numbers reported Tuesday follow a trend of falling cases after infections dipped below 300,000 for the first time in weeks a day earlier.

Active cases in the country also decreased by more than 165,000 on Tuesday — the biggest dip in weeks. But deaths have continued to rise and hospitals are still swamped by patients.

India has recorded nearly 280,000 virus deaths since the pandemic began. Both the number of deaths and total reported cases are thought to be vast undercounts.

The government on Monday announced that 17 new labs will help track variants, boosting India’s genome sequencing abilities as concern grows over a potentially worrisome variant first detected here. The variant may spread more easily but the country has lagged behind in doing the testing needed to track it and understand it better.

The variant first identified in India has prompted global concern — most notably in Britain, where it has more than doubled in a week, defying a sharp nationwide downward trend in infections.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

Joy in UK as pubs, restaurants and museums reopen but new variant sparks worry

— Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine candidate triggered strong immune responses; production to begin soon

— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

HARTFORD, Conn. — As some states set plans to a pandemic $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit as a way to encourage people to find work, Connecticut is offering a much different incentive — a $1,000 signing bonus for taking a job.

Starting May 24, up to 10,000 people in Connecticut considered to have been unemployed for the “long-term” will be able to sign up for the program with the state Department of Labor. Ultimately, they would be paid the bonus after spending eight weeks in their new full-time job.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday that the state will also retain the $300 benefit before some people are still afraid to work because of the coronavirus.

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WASHINGTON — The Biden Administration is putting a fresh wave of funding toward its stated goal of making a serious dent in homelessness across the country.

Despite a wave of public support and a nationwide eviction moratorium, Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge said as many of 580,000 people experienced homelessness in the middle of the pandemic.

Fudge, who heads the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Monday that an extra $5 billion would be allocated toward keeping families off the streets. That’s in addition to the $5 billion in funds for preventing homelessness previously announced as part of the American Rescue Plan.

The aid will come in the form of 17,000 emergency housing vouchers that will be distributed to housing authorities across the country. Fudge said the vouchers were expected to help provide shelter for up to 130,000 people and called the new money, “an important milestone in our effort to end homelessness in the United States.”

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland-based molecular diagnostics firm Genomtec says it has registered for use in European Union a pioneer, high-reliability COVID-19 test from saliva.

The test, Genomtec SARS-CoV-2 EvaGreen Direct-RT-LAMP CE-IVD Kit spares those tested the discomfort of having swabs pushed up their noses and down their throats. Instead, they only need to produce a sample of saliva in a small test tube, Genomtec, a Polish-British firm, said Monday.

The result is obtained within one hour, because the technology does not require special preparatory procedures on the sample. Its reliability is pegged at over 92%, according to the Genomtec. The test detects various mutations of the coronavirus, said the company that is listed on the Warsaw’s Stock Exchange NewConnect market.,

Genomtec said the test has been registered and approved for use in the European Union by Poland’s Office of Medicinal Products, Medical Devices and Biocidal Products. First tests on the general public using the kit will be done still this month in Wroclaw, southwestern Poland, where Genomtec is based.

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PRAGUE — The Czech government has announced a new wave of easing coronavirus restrictions amid falling numbers of infected people.

Starting May 24, all hotels are allowed to return to business. The guests will need to present a negative coronavirus test or be vaccinated or recover from COVID-19. If they want to stay longer than seven days, an additional test will be required.

At the same time, all elementary schools and high schools will fully reopen. Schoolchildren and students will be tested once a week.

The same applies for universities where, however, the spring term in many cases ends next week.

It will be also possible for up to 1,000 people to attend outdoor cultural events, while up to 500 are allowed at such events indoor.

Monday’s announcement comes on the day when Czech bars and restaurants are reopening for outdoor dining.

The number of people infected per 100,000 inhabitants in last seven days has dropped to 71 in the Czech Republic.

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BERLIN — Germany’s health minister says the country will open up coronavirus vaccinations to everyone starting on June 7. Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters on Monday that the current system of prioritization in which the most vulnerable groups are to be vaccinated first will no longer be valid then.

The minister said, “this does not mean that everyone will get an appointment within days, but … everyone who wants to get vaccinated will get an offer.”

Spahn said that the vaccination campaign has picked up speed in recent weeks and that by the end of May about 40 percent of all people in Germany will have received at least one shot. He said 70 percent of those above the age of 60 have received one shot, about one-quarter of them are fully vaccinated. All in all, 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been given and around nine million people are fully vaccinated, in this country of 83 million.

After months of lockdown, the infection rate has been dropping in Germany and some states are slowly starting to open up outdoor dining and various shopping possibilities.

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NEW YORK — Vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks or social distance in New York starting Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

The governor said the state is adopting the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last week.

“Let’s get back to life,” Cuomo said. “If you are vaccinated, you are safe, no masks, no social distancing.”

Cuomo urged people who are unvaccinated and immunocompromised to continue to wear a mask and social distance.

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BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Department of Health on Monday issued new guidance on coronavirus masks.

State health officer Nizar Wehbi says the department is aligning with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities without wearing a mask indoors and outdoors.

The risk of being infected or spreading COVID-19 once fully vaccinated is very low, and therefore wearing a mask if you are fully vaccinated is no longer a recommendation, the health department said in a statement.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

A recommendation remains that everyone wears masks when they are in a health care setting, when they are traveling on public transportation, including airplanes, and when they are in a business or employer that requires masks, health officials said.

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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Vermont is preparing to hold its first jury trials since the coronavirus pandemic hit last year.

Jury draws were planned Monday for a number of cases in Windham County criminal court. Among them are cases involving drug crimes. According to court documents, social distancing and masking will be part of the proceedings.

Vermont Chief Superior Judge Brian Grearson told the Brattleboro Reformer that the judiciary picked cases that were not very complicated, meaning they did not involve a large number of witnesses and could be tried within a couple of days because of the virus-related protocols.

An upgrade to the building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system for proper airflow could lead to fluctuating temperatures, according to a court flyer sent to jurors.

The trial arrangements were planned in consultation with an infectious disease expert to comply with virus guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Vermont Health Department, the newspaper reported.

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GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization is calling on some of the world’s top COVID-19 vaccine makers to do more to get doses to needy people around the world, especially in the developing world — and more quickly.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appealed in particular to U.S.-based Moderna to accelerate its planned timetable for doses of its vaccine to be available to the U.N.-backed COVAX program, which aims to get vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.

“Moderna has signed a deal for 500 million doses with COVAX, but the majority has been promised only for 2021,” Tedros said Monday. “We need Moderna to bring hundreds of millions of this forward into 2021 due to the acute moment of this pandemic.”

The WHO chief also said COVAX was working toward a deal with U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson that could get doses to the program by the second half of this year, “but this has not been finalized and we do not know when they will arrive.”

Tedros said “we appreciate the work of AstraZeneca” — the British-Swedish manufacturer that has been the main pillar so far of COVAX and the source of the vast majority of doses in the program that has now deployed some 65 million doses.

U.S.-based Pfizer, along with German partner BioNTech, has committed to 40 million doses this year to COVAX, “but the majority of this would be in the second half of 2021,” he said.

Tedros cited figures from UNICEF, which is helping the deployment, that COVAX is facing a “huge shortfall” of 190 million doses in its planned rollout because of tight supplies and a surge in cases.

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TORONTO — All adults in Canada’s most populous province will be eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine starting Tuesday.

The Ontario government says those turning 18 this year will be allowed to book shots. The provincial government had initially said it would lower the vaccine eligibility age to 30 this week.

The province will also now send shots to regions on a per-capita basis, after two weeks of sending half the vaccine supply to COVID-19 hot spots.

Canada expects to get 3.5 million Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week. More than 55% of the population in Ontario aged 18 and over have received at least one dose.

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EXPLAINER: Are Israel, Hamas committing war crimes in Gaza?

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel and the Hamas militant group already face allegations of possible war crimes in Gaza, a week into their fourth war. Israel says Hamas is using Palestinian civilians as human shields, while critics say Israel is using disproportionate force. The firing of hundreds of imprecise rockets into Israel by Hamas and other Palestinian groups is a fairly clear-cut violation of international law. But in Gaza the situation is far murkier because of the dense urban terrain. Experts say that in such circumstances it could prove difficult to identify clear violations by either side.

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Madrigal, Mendick homer as White Sox pound Twins 16-4

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nick Madrigal had three hits, including his first major league homer, and Danny Mendick launched his first career grand slam as the Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 16-4. Seven players had multiple hits for Chicago, which posted season highs in runs and hits, with 18. Dallas Keuchel was the beneficiary, pitching seven innings and allowing three runs on seven hits. J.A. Happ was roughed up again by the White Sox. Happ permitted six runs in 3 2/3 innings and has given up 15 runs to Chicago in his past two starts.

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Shark kills surfer off Australian east coast

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SYDNEY (AP) — A surfer has been killed by a shark off the Australian east coast. Police said the man had been surfing off Forster, north of Sydney, when he was attacked. Onlookers pulled the man from the water suffering critical injuries to his upper right thigh, and ambulance personnel said he couldn’t be resuscitated. Forster beaches have been closed. Authorities were working to identify the species of shark. Australia’s most recent fatal shark attack before Tuesday was off the northwest coast in November.

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South Carolina man indicted for role in US Capitol riot

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LITTLE RIVER, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina man accused of throwing objects at police officers, among other crimes, during the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has been indicted on multiple federal offenses. Federal court documents say 26-year-old Nicholas Languerand was arrested by the FBI in April at a home in Little River. A grand jury indicted him on seven counts. The charges include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon. Evidence alleges Languerand “threw a variety of objects,” including a traffic barrier, at officers on Jan. 6. He is being held in a Washington detention center. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney who can comment for him.

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ALDI will end mask rules for fully vaccinated customers

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(WEEK) – Starting Tuesday, ALDI will no longer require the use of face masks or coverings for customers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, unvaccinated customers will need to continue following all appropriate safety precautions, which include the use of face masks and social distancing.

The supermarket chain announced Monday that starting May 26, all ALDI employees who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear a face covering.

ALDI’s latest COVID-19 safety measures can be found on its website.

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US report: Allies of El Salvador’s president deemed corrupt

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MIAMI (AP) — Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s Cabinet chief and other allies have been included in a list of senior officials in Central America deemed corrupt by the U.S. State Department. The list sent Monday to members of the U.S. Congress is likely to heighten tensions with Bukele as he faces intense scrutiny from the Biden administration over the removal of several Supreme Court justices and El Salvador’s attorney general.  A copy of the report was provided to The Associated Press by a Democrat staffer on the condition of anonymity because it has not been made public. It was originally included as a classified annex of a report sent to Congress in April in response to an appropriations request last year. 

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