Nation and world news briefs

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Unanimous vote to remove Confederate monument in SC town

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Confederate monument in South Carolina could be taken down after the Orangeburg City Council voted unanimously to remove the statue.

At a special meeting Tuesday, the city council returned from executive session and announced the result of the vote in the meeting that was streamed live.

But the monument won’t be pulled down overnight. City Council’s vote must be approved by South Carolina lawmakers at the State House as the statue is protected by the Heritage Act.

The Heritage Act, passed in 2000, requires a two-thirds majority vote by both chambers for any change to historical structures, parks, roads, or bridges that were named or dedicated for any historic figure or event. That threshold is difficult to meet.

“It is very important that we follow the process,” before removing historical monuments, Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said during the special meeting. “We have no option but to follow the laws and the established protocol to move the statue. … We will follow the letter of the law and see what happens. In the City of Orangeburg we follow the law.”

The monument that was erected in 1893 by the Orangeburg Confederate Monument Association, and is a 33-foot granite statue, which is topped with a bronze replica of Capt. John D. Palmer of the Hampton Legion, the Times & Democrat reported.

The monument is in Memorial Plaza in downtown Orangeburg.

Along with the vote, the City Council passed a resolution saying it is committed to eliminating racism.

“The City of Orangeburg recognizes that the legacy of slavery, institutional segregation and ongoing systemic racism directly deepens racial division, and the City of Orangeburg is committed to the elimination of racial division and the promotion of racial equity and justice and desires to express this commitment through this resolution,” the council said, according to the Times & Democrat.

In addition to the resolution, City Council again voted unanimously to rename John C. Calhoun Drive in downtown Orangeburg. The Heritage Act also protects the street from being immediately renamed.

Calhoun was a former U.S. vice president and senator who was a slave owner in South Carolina.

—The State (Columbia, S.C.)


Unidentified remains found in same area as body of Fort Hood soldier

AUSTIN, Texas — Investigators are working to determine whether unidentified remains discovered near a field in Killeen, where a Fort Hood soldier was found dead earlier this month, are human.

Participants in a vigil for Pvt. Gregory Morales on Saturday found the remains in the same area where his body was spotted, according to Killeen police on Tuesday.

The remains as of Tuesday had not been linked to another missing Fort Hood soldier, Pfc. Vanessa Guillen.

Morales and Guillen, who were each stationed at Fort Hood before they disappeared, are both suspected to be the victims of foul play, according to authorities. Morales was last seen alive in August 2019, and Guillen was last heard from two months ago.

Investigators, however, have said they so far do not believe the two cases are connected.

Guillen, 20, was last seen in the middle of a workday on April 22 in the parking lot of the Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters at Fort Hood.

The soldier’s identification card, wallet and the keys to her car and base apartment were later found in the armory room where she had been earlier in the day, Army officials have said.

Guillen’s family, who are from Houston, have blamed the soldier’s supervisors for her disappearance, saying she was being sexually harassed by at least one of them.

Authorities on June 19 found human remains in a field outside of Fort Hood. However, investigators determined that those remains belonged to Morales.

—Austin American-Statesman


FBI warns consumers about fraudulent COVID-19 antibody tests

The FBI is cautioning consumers about fraudulent COVID-19 antibody tests.

Scammers are marketing the fake or unapproved tests to capitalize on public fears, make a quick buck or even just collect sensitive personal data such as Social Security numbers and Medicare information, the FBI said in the new warning.

Federal officials are urging people to be wary of “claims of FDA approval” that can’t be verified and testing offers that come in the form of unsolicited telephone calls, social media ads or emails.

Consumers should check the website for an updated list of approved antibody tests and testing companies before agreeing to undergo serology screening, officials said.

People also should check with a primary care physician before undergoing such tests and only share personal or health information with known and trusted medical professionals, they said.

—New York Daily News


72-year-old repeatedly gored by bison in Yellowstone National Park while trying to snap photo

A 72-year-old California woman intent on getting the perfect photo inside Yellowstone National Park was gored by a bison after she repeatedly approached the giant animal, officials said.

The unidentified woman “sustained multiple goring wounds” and was treated by Yellowstone rangers before being flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center for further care.

In a statement released by the National Park Service on Monday, officials said the 72-year-old came within 10 feet of the bison several times on Thursday. She was near her site at the Bridge Bay Campground in northwest Wyoming during the incident, which occurred just more than a month after the park reopened to guests amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The series of events that led to the goring suggest the bison was threatened by being repeatedly approached to within 10 feet,” Yellowstone’s senior bison biologist Chris Geremia said in the release.

“Bison are wild animals that respond to threats by displaying aggressive behaviors like pawing the ground, snorting, bobbing their head, bellowing, and raising their tail. If that doesn’t make the threat (in this instance it was a person) move away, a threatened bison may charge.”

According to park rules, visitors should maintain at least 25 feet of distance between themselves and any large animals — like bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes — and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

—New York Daily News