Monday, May 3, 2021

Wake-Up Call: Smuggling Boat Capsizes Off San Diego

San Diego Union-Tribune photo 5/3/21

A boat that's suspected of being involved in a human smuggling operation capsized off the coast of San Diego and broke apart in rough conditions yesterday morning, killing at least three people and injuring 27. Officials said the 40-foot cabin cruiser was overcrowded, and Jeff Stephenson, a U.S. Border Patrol supervising agent, said, "Every indication from our perspective was this was a smuggling vessel. We haven’t confirmed their nationality." The captain survived and was among those hospitalized.

➤U.S. DENIES PRISONER RELEASE DEAL WITH IRAN: The U.S. yesterday (May 2nd) immediately denied an Iranian state TV report that Washington and Tehran had reached a prisoner release deal, but AP cited a source as saying the two countries are in active talks over prisoners. The Iranian report had said there'd been a deal reached for Iran to release U.S. and British prisoners in exchange for billions of dollars. President Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, was among those denying the report, saying on CBS' Face the Nation, "that report is untrue." Referring to the four known Americans being held by Iran, Klain added, "We’re working very hard to get them released. We raise this with Iran and our interlocutors all the time, but so far there’s no agreement." AP notes that although prisoner exchanges between the U.S. and Iran aren't uncommon, any movement between the two countries is particularly sensitive now as Biden's administration is looking to restart nuclear talks.

➤U.S. TO BEGIN TALKS WITH WTO ON ISSUES KEEPING COVID VACCINES FROM MORE GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION: The U.S. trade representative will begin talks with the World Trade Organization on overcoming intellectual property issues that have been keeping Covid-19 vaccines from being distributed more widely around the world, with White House chief of staff Ron Klain and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan saying yesterday there'll be more information in the coming days. Sullivan said on ABC's This Week that the administration believes pharmaceutical companies, quote, "should be supplying at scale and at cost to the entire world so that there is no barrier to everyone getting vaccinated." The White House has been facing pressure from other nations and from some U.S. lawmakers to waive patent rules so poorer countries can begin to make generic versions of the vaccines.

➤NORTH KOREA WARNS U.S. OF 'VERY GRAVE SITUATION' AFTER BIDEN SPOKE OF 'THREATS' FROM NORTH: North Korea warned Sunday that the U.S. will face a, quote, "very grave situation" after President Biden said in his address to a joint session of Congress last week that that North Korea's nuclear program, as well as Iran's, are "serious threats" to U.S. and world security. Biden said he'll work with U.S. allies to address the the issue through diplomacy and deterrence. North Korea charged that Biden, quote, "made a big blunder" with his comments. A senior North Korean Foreign Ministry official said, "Now that the keynote of the U.S. new DPRK policy has become clear, we will be compelled to press for corresponding measures, and with time the U.S. will find itself in a very grave situation." No steps were specified that the North would take. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said yesterday on ABC's This Week that U.S. policy toward North Korea is, quote, "not aimed at hostility, it’s aimed at solutions," with "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" as the ultimate goal.

➤FUNERAL TODAY FOR ANDREW BROWN JR., SHOT BY NORTH CAROLINA DEPUTIES: The funeral will be held today (May 3rd) for Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by deputies in North Carolina on April 21st as they were serving drug-related search and arrest warrants at his house in Elizabeth City. Reverend Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy at the invitation-only church service, after public viewings were held yesterday. Brown's death led to days of protests in Elizabeth City. His family has said an independent autopsy they commissioned found Brown was shot five times, including once in the back of the head.

➤POLL..AMERICANS MORE OPTIMISTIC: After a historically difficult pandemic year, Americans are feeling good about the future, with a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finding that nearly two-thirds -- 64 percent -- are optimistic about the direction of the country. The last time Americans had near that amount of optimism, according to ABC News/Washington Post polls, was in December 2006, when 61 percent were optimistic about the country's direction. The positive feeling in the country, however, doesn't mean that most think we've gotten more unified, with only 23 percent thinking the nation has become more united since President Biden took office, with an even greater 28 percent believing it's become more divided. Just under half, 48 percent, don't see a difference.

➤STUDY..WORKING FROM HOME COULD LEAD TO DISCRIMINATION AND STAFF MISSING OUT ON PROMOTION: Working form home could be bad for your career, finds a new study. A team of U.K.-based business psychologists at OE Cam say people who work from home are missing out on opportunities given to the colleagues in the office, and are less likely to be given a promotion. The study findings also suggest that those who work remotely will be put at a disadvantage because they are left “unnoticed, without a voice or the ability to contribute or progress.” They say those who see their boss day-to-day in the office have “present privilege” or, are more likely to be involved in spontaneous discussions in the office and have better access to the boss—meaning they are “more front of mind for that promotion.” OE Cam’s manager partner Martyn Sakol says businesses must be mindful to prevent those who work from home “losing their voice, their ability to contribute effectively to the business and their chance of promotion, firms must take active steps.”

➤A MAJOR CHLORINE SHORTAGE IS SET TO SPOIL SUMMERTIME FUN IN THE SWIMMING POOL: If you have a pool you may want to go get some chlorine now—the worst chlorine shortage the country has ever seen is on its way this summer. Some pool servicing companies say they’ve already started stockpiling chlorine tablets, and pool industry insiders in multiple states say the chlorine supply is already in tight supply, particularly in Florida, Michigan, Nevada, and Texas, and pool owners are largely unaware of the problem. A combination of several factors has led to the scarcity, including an unprecedented surge in demand last year, and a chemical plant fire, which destroyed some manufacturing capacity. Allan Curtis owns a pool maintenance business called Ask the Pool Guy and services 1,000 customers near Howell, Michigan. Curtis says, “[I expect pool owners] will have to go from [chlorine] tablets, to powdered chlorine, from powdered chlorine to liquid chlorine, from liquid chlorine to nonchlorinated shocks and things. And I do believe that all of those are going to literally run out.” Pool experts say you say if you visit a public pool make sure the water looks clean and clear before getting in, contact your local pool professionals to discuss chlorine alternatives, and make sure you shower before you swim and do not let pets in the pool as they bring more debris and oils into the water, which will increase how much chlorine you need.

➤JENNER SAYS OPPOSED TO TRANSGENDER GIRLS COMPETING IN GIRLS' SCHOOL SPORTS: California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner, herself a former Olympic champion, said Saturday (May 1st) that she's opposed to transgender girls competing in girls' school sports, telling TMZ that it's a, quote, "question of fairness." She added, "We have to protect girls' sports in our schools." Jenner, who won the gold medal for the U.S. in the 1976 decathlon four decades before her transition, was asked about the issue by TMZ in parking lot. Jenner is running as a Republican in the recall election of Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. While she voted for Donald Trump in 2016, Jenner was later critical of some actions of his administration that she said discriminated against transgender people.

➤WIDOW OF CONGRESSMAN WHO DIED OF COVID IN RUNOFF FOR HIS SEAT: The widow of Republican Rep. Ron Wright of Texas, who died of Covid-19, is in a two-person runoff for his U.S. House seat. Republican Susan Wright will be facing off against another Republican, state lawmaker Jake Ellzey in a special election. Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez didn't make the runoff, behind Ellzey by just 354 votes. The runoff date hasn't yet been set. Wright's husband died in February at age 67.

➤SOUTH DAKOTA TOURIST ATTRACTIONS GETTING MORE VISITORS BECAUSE OF 'NOMADLAND': Some tourist sites in South Dakota are getting more visitors because they appeared the film Nomadland, which just won the best picture Oscar, as well as best director and best actress for Frances McDormand. Among the sites seeing a uptick in tourists according to the Rapid City Journal, are Reptile Gardens animal park and Wall Drug Store, a cowboy-themed roadside attraction. Badlands National Park is also featured in the movie.

⚽MANCHESTER UNITED FANS STORM STADIUM IN PROTEST AGAINST U.S. OWNERS: Fans of Britain's Manchester United soccer team stormed their stadium yesterday in protest of the team's American owners, forcing the postponement of the scheduled Premier League game against Liverpool. 

The fans were demanding that the Glazer family -- who also own the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- sell the team, angry after Manchester United was part of an attempt to launch a breakaway European Super League that was widely condemned and quickly collapsed. But there had been anger against the Glazers starting with their 2005 leveraged takeover of Manchester United that loaded the team with debt that it hadn't had before.

🥊PUERTO RICAN BOXER VERDEJO TURNS HIMSELF IN AFTER PREGNANT LOVER FOUND DEAD: Puerto Rican boxer Felix Verdejo turned himself in to federal agents last night, hours after a body found in a lagoon near Puerto Rico's capital on Saturday was identified as that of his pregnant lover, Keishla Rodriguez. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the 27-year-old Verdejo, who is married and has a young daughter, is being charged with kidnapping and carjacking resulting in death and with intentionally killing an unborn child. An FBI criminal complaint alleges that Verdejo punched Rodriguez, who was also 27, in the face and injected her with an unidentified substance, then bound her arms and feet and tied her to a heavy block before throwing her off a bridge Thursday morning. He then allegedly shot at her body from the bridge. Verdejo represented Puerto Rico at the 2012 Olympics and became a pro boxer that same year.

🏌BURNS WINS FIRST PGA TITLE AT INNISBROOK: Sam Burns won his first PGA Tour title yesterday with a win in the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Golf Club in Florida. The 24-year-old shot a 17-under 267 for a three-stroke victory over fellow American Keegan Bradley in second place. With the win, Burns moves up in the world rankings to Number 44, and is assured a spot in the U.S. Open.

⚾OAKLAND PITCHER LUZARDO BREAKS FINGER PLAYING VIDEO GAME: Oakland A's pitcher Jesus Luzardo is out indefinitely after breaking the pinkie finger on his pitching hand when he accidentally banged his hand on the table while playing a video game on Saturday. The left-hander was put on the 10-day injured list Sunday after an X-ray showed he had a hairline fracture.

🏀CELTICS' FOURNIER SAYS COVID LEFT HIM WITH CONCUSSION-LIKE SYMPTOMS: The Boston Celtics' Evan Fournier said last night that his bout with Covid-19 last month left him with long-term effects that feel like concussion symptoms. He told reporters, "[I] feel like I have a concussion. Right now, it's actually doing a little bit better. But at first, the bright lights were bothering my eyes, my vision was blurry and everything was going too fast for me." Fournier said he's been working with a doctor, saying, "My depth perception is really bad right now, but I saw a specialist and she gave me some exercises, and hopefully, I can get better."

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