U.S.’s John Kerry in China for talks ahead of climate summit

BEIJING (AP) — U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is in talks in China on Thursday ahead of President Joe Biden’s climate summit of world leaders.

China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment said the discussions in Shanghai running through Saturday aim to boost cooperation on climate change and exchange views on the U.N. Climate Change Conference known as COP 26 to be held in Scotland in November.

A brief statement from the ministry said Kerry would be meeting with China’s top climate negotiator, fellow veteran diplomat Xie Zhenhua. The U.S. and China are the world’s biggest carbon emitters and both have set targets to become carbon neutral in coming decades, although China's stated date of 2060 has been described as not ambitious enough.

Analysis: Biden takes a risk pulling troops from Afghanistan

BRUSSELS (AP) — At its start, America’s war in Afghanistan was about retribution for 9/11. Then it was about shoring up a weak government and its weak army so that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida could never again threaten the United States.

Now it's about over. With bin Laden long since dead and the United States not suffering another major attack, President Joe Biden is promising to end America’s longest war and move on to what he believes are bigger, more consequential challenges posed by a resurgent Russia and a rising China.

Even so, by withdrawing the remaining few thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Biden is taking a calculated risk that extremists in Afghanistan can be countered by U.S. and partner forces elsewhere in the region — and that he won’t become the president who underestimated the resilience and reach of extremists who still aim to attack the United States.

Mom suspected in children’s deaths pleads in carjacking case

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A California woman suspected of killing her three children pleaded not guilty Wednesday to carjacking during an alleged escape.

Liliana Carrillo, 30, entered pleas in a Kern County courtroom to four felony counts of carjacking, attempted carjacking and auto theft. Her bail was set at $2 million.

Carrillo's three children were found dead Saturday by their maternal grandmother in her apartment in the Reseda neighborhood of Los Angeles. She was arrested later that day in Tulare County, nearly 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of the scene.

Body found in Mississippi River is missing LSU student Kori Gauthier, officials say

Kori Gauthier, a Louisiana State University freshman reported missing one week ago, was found dead.

LSU officials confirmed Wednesday night that a body recently found in the Mississippi rRiver is Gauthier.

“Since Kori was first reported missing, the LSU Police Department, Baton Rouge Police Department and other law enforcement agencies and volunteers have taken exhaustive measures to locate her and, in the process, to determine what led to her disappearance,” LSU Chief of Police Bart Thompson said in a statement. “This is a difficult conclusion for all of us, but we hope this will bring closure for the Gauthier family.”

St Vincent volcano: UN warns humanitarian crisis will last months

The humanitarian crisis caused by volcanic eruptions on the Caribbean island of St Vincent will last for months, a UN official has warned.

Didier Trebucq said nearby islands including Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda could also be badly affected.

He said the UN was setting up an international funding appeal.

US Navy decommissions massive ship destroyed by fire

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The U.S. Navy on Wednesday decommissioned the USS Bonhomme Richard docked off San Diego nine months after flames engulfed it in one of the worst U.S. warship fires outside of combat in recent memory.

The ceremony at Naval Base San Diego was not open to the public, with the Navy citing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

The amphibious assault ship is expected to be towed to a ship yard in Texas for dismantling.

Hawley, Marshall two of six senators who oppose bill to curb anti-Asian hate crimes

Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall and Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley were two of only six lawmakers to vote Wednesday evening against advancing legislation intended to curb hate crimes against Asian Americans.

The Senate voted 92 to 6 to advance the measure from Hawaii Democratic Sen. Maize Hirono, which orders the Department of Justice to “facilitate the expedited review of COVID–19 hate crimes” following a recent string of high-profile attacks against Asian Americans.

The bill also includes a provision instructing the attorney general and secretary of Health and Humans Services to issue guidance “describing best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic.”

No apology owed for pepper-spraying Black and Latino Army officer in Virginia, police chief says

PETERSBURG, Va. — While he said he felt bad for how the events of a traffic-stop late last year unfolded, the police chief of the town where a Black and Latino military officer from Petersburg, Virginia, was accosted by two of his officers said Wednesday that he does not think the soldier is in need of an official apology.

In response, Army Lt. Caron Nazario's legal team said Windsor Police Department Chief Rodney D. Riddle “continues a false narrative” of the case and blaming their client for initiating it. They said the video of the stop “shows otherwise” that their client was nothing but compliant.

“I'm gonna own what we did,” Riddle said about the stop during a news conference Wednesday in the Isle of Wight County, Virginia, community where Nazario was stopped last December while on his way home. “My guys missed opportunities to verbally de-escalate that thing and change that outcome.”

When asked by a reporter if Nazario was owed an apology for that, Riddle replied: “I don't believe that,” adding he wished the driver “would have complied a whole lot earlier.”

Video of the traffic stop at a BP gas station in Windsor, Virginia — about 50 miles southeast of Petersburg — shows officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, with guns drawn, ordering Nazario out of his vehicle after he was stopped for allegedly not having a rear license tag. Nazario was returning to Petersburg following an assignment.

Gutierrez, the closest to Nazario in the video, repeatedly tells Nazario to get out while Nazario repeatedly asks why he was stopped.

Army Lt. Caron Nazario case: NAACP calls to end qualified immunity in Virginia after police officer pepper-sprayed Black and Latino Army officer

Opinion: Caron Nazario case shows hate is an American disease, not just a white one

At one point, Gutierrez reaches for his taser and threatens Nazario with “riding the lightning,” an idiom for tasering. He later sprays Nazario in the face with oleoresin capsicum, commonly called pepper spray.

Story continues

Texas truck driver indicted in deaths of 8 migrants in crash

DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — A Texas man who drove a pickup truck involved in a deadly head-on crash, killing eight migrants he was carrying, was indicted Wednesday on federal charges.

A federal grand jury in Del Rio, a Texas border city near where the March 15 crash occurred, indicted Sebastian Tovar, 24, of Austin, on a charge of transporting migrants illegally resulting in death. He also faces single counts of transporting migrants illegally and conspiracy to transport migrants illegally, both resulting in serious injury. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in federal prison.

Raymond Meza Jr. of Del Rio, Tovar's attorney, declined comment on the indictment.

Mexico moves to require biometric data from cellphone users

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Activists and opposition figures cried foul Wednesday after Mexico’s Senate passed legislation to require cellphone companies to gather customers’ identification and biometric data, like fingerprints or eye scans.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party supported the bill, saying it is needed to fight crimes like extortion and kidnapping that frequently involve the use of cellphones.

The legislation, which was already passed by the Chamber of Deputies, would give cell companies two years to collect the data and make it available to the government.

Officer in Black man’s killing: from leader to defendant

In a matter of days, the white police officer who fatally shot a Black man in a Minneapolis suburb went from being a respected professional who trained less experienced colleagues and led the department's union, to a criminal defendant held up by community activists as a symbol of police aggression toward Black people.

Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright in the chest during a Sunday traffic stop while she was training other officers. She offered her resignation Tuesday as outrage grew over Wright's death and Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott moved to fire her. The 26-year veteran was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree manslaughter.

Potter said in a resignation letter that she had “loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community,” but felt resigning was “in the best interest of the community, the department and my fellow officers.”

Senate Republicans overhaul election reform bill, fixing some things, raising new issues

Florida senators on Wednesday substantially scaled back a potential crackdown on voting by mail, including eliminating a proposed ban on drop boxes, but added requirements that could create headaches for elections supervisors and millions of voters.

Instead of banning drop boxes and requiring IDs when dropping off ballots, senators instead proposed nearly two dozen smaller changes to how mail ballots would be requested, examined and reported.

Under Senate Bill 90, Floridians would have to produce more information — a driver’s license number, state-issued ID number or, if the voter doesn’t have those, the last four digits of their Social Security number — when registering to vote or requesting a vote-by-mail ballot.

Idaho House approves bill to ban city mask mandates; Senate waits for budget bills

Idaho House members on Wednesday approved a bill that would prohibit local governments from imposing mask mandates as a health precaution, despite concerns over the measure’s legality.

The bill would prohibit government entities or any public official from requiring face masks, shields or coverings. No one could be denied work, services or entry into a building because they are not wearing a mask. Hospitals and health care facilities are exempt from the bill, but courts are not.

The bill would also aim to end “any” disaster emergency or public health order if any city or county violates the mask-mandate prohibition. Despite concerns that the bill won’t stand legal muster, House members approved it in a 46-23 vote. Republicans hold a 58-12 advantage in the House, so a few joined Democrats in opposition.

Too early to tell if conservative’s victory in Ecuador is a defeat for populism in Latin America | Opinion

Guillermo Lasso’s upset victory in Ecuador’s April 11 presidential election may not mark the start of an ideological shift to the right in Latin America, but it’s surely a setback for populist and leftist governments in the region.

Few believed that the conservative banker would win. He was 20 percentage points behind in the polls six weeks before his victory. Worse, he was running on a pro-business, anti-populist platform in a country devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet Lasso re-packaged his campaign in the second round — shedding his conservative image by appealing to younger voters, gays and minorities — and won a comfortable 52 percent of the vote. His rival, leftist economist Andres Arauz, a 36-year-old protegé of former populist president Rafael Correa, got 47 percent.

Lawsuit describes night of fear for Wall of Moms protester

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A lawyer who formed part of a “Wall of Moms” confronting militarized U.S. agents is suing federal authorities, claiming excessive force was used against her and she was arrested without probable cause.

In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Portland, Oregon, Jennifer Kristiansen also accused an unnamed federal agent of groping her breast and buttocks as he trapped her against a wall, leading her to fear she would be raped.

Named as defendants are Gabriel Russell, regional director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service, supervisors and 29 ground-level agents who are not named because they wore no name tags.