Nation and world news briefs

©Tribune News Service

1 in 3 Americans would refuse COVID-19 vaccine, new Gallup poll finds

One in 3 Americans would refuse an FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine even if it were offered at no cost, a new Gallup poll released Friday found.

The results, based on survey conducted between July 20 and Aug. 2, found that 65% of respondents said they would accept the offer and get themselves vaccinated while 35% said they would not.

The new poll falls in line with previous Gallup findings suggesting political party preference plays a strong role in Americans’ views on COVID-19.

Eighty-one% of Democrats would be willing to get vaccinated immediately with a free, FDA-approved vaccine, the poll found, compared with 59% of independents and 47% of Republicans.

Middle-aged Americans seem to be the most wary.

Gallup’s pollsters found 70% of senior citizens and 76% of adults under the age of 30 said they’re willing to get an approved COVID-19 vaccination right away.

But only 64% of people between 30 and 50 years old and 59% of people between 50 and 64 years old said they would get the shot.

— New York Daily News


Despite crowd limits, NC says it’s willing to accommodate delegates to the GOP convention

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina’s state health director told Republican convention officials Friday that the state could “flexibly enforce” its crowd restrictions to accommodate several hundred delegates at the Charlotte event this month.

The decision all but clears the way for the GOP to have more than 300 delegates renominate President Donald Trump at the Charlotte Convention Center on Aug. 24.

“We understand that some events necessary to conduct official convention business may require measures that would not be allowed for a normal event,” health director Elizabeth Tilson wrote RNC officials. “Therefore, in the spirit of accommodating the unique interests and needs of the convention, we have expressed a willingness to flexibly enforce certain … public health measures.”

This week Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper extended Phase 2 restrictions until Sept. 11. They limit most indoor gatherings to 10 people.

Tilson was responding to the RNC’s 42-page plan detailing its protocols for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

It says face coverings will be “a condition of participation” and seating will be designed to accommodate a 6-foot distance between people. In addition to masking and social distancing, the plan calls for daily “symptom tracking” of delegates and other guests.

The convention will bring around 500 people in town, including 336 delegates. The delegates would renominate Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Charlotte. The rest of the four-day convention would take place elsewhere, including virtually.

— The Charlotte Observer


Amber Guyger’s lawyers seek to overturn her murder conviction for killing Botham Jean in his apartment

DALLAS — Amber Guyger’s defense team filed an appeal this week to overturn her 2019 murder conviction and instead convict her of criminally negligent homicide, citing insufficient evidence.

Guyger is currently serving a 10-year sentence in a Texas prison for shooting and killing 26-year-old Botham Jean on Sept. 6, 2018, in his apartment at the South Side Flats near Dallas Police Department headquarters.

At the time, Guyger was a Dallas police officer, but she was fired after the shooting.

She testified at her trial last year that she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own and shot him because she wrongly thought he was an intruder.

Guyger, who was off-duty but in her police uniform, said she feared for her life when she shot Jean with her service weapon. Jean, an accountant from St. Lucia, was eating ice cream on his couch when Guyger entered his apartment.

Guyger’s team argued in a brief filed Tuesday that while she did knowingly shoot with the intention of killing Jean, her belief that he was an intruder justified her use of deadly force.

— The Dallas Morning News


Michael Avenatti will get taxpayer-funded defense in Stormy Daniels case

NEW YORK — Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti can no longer afford his defense team in the criminal case accusing him of stealing a book advance from porn star Stormy Daniels when she was his client, a judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan granted his request for a taxpayer-financed public defender and ordered Avenatti to submit an affidavit to the court every four months outlining any changes to his financial condition, citing the lawyer’s claim that he may have access to additional assets in the future.

“If he comes into any of those funds or wins the lottery or anything of that sort, and is able to afford counsel, I’ll take an appropriate step at that point,” Furman said during a Friday teleconference that Avenatti attended from home confinement in Venice, California. Federal prosecutors didn’t challenge Avenatti’s request.

The judge said a trial set for October won’t start on time due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has already resulted in Avenatti’s release from prison to protect his health. Furman didn’t set a new trial date, adding that his calendar for next year “is a mess.”

Avenatti was convicted in February for trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike Inc. He faces a third criminal case, in California, where he’s accused of ripping off other clients.

— Bloomberg News


17 dead after plane breaks apart after landing in India

NEW DELHI — At least 17 people were killed when an Air India Express plane skidded off the runway and crashed at an airport amid heavy rains in India’s southern city of Kozhikode on Friday, officials said.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said the Boeing 737 plane with 190 people on board overshot the runway, which is situated on the top of a hill, and went about 33 feet (10 meters) down a slope before breaking up into two pieces.

“Rescue operations have been completed. Unfortunately 17 people have lost their lives. Almost all those on board have suffered minor and serious injuries and have been admitted to hospitals,” regional administrative chief K Gopalakrishnan told dpa by phone.

He said the death toll could rise as 30 to 40 among those injured were in critical condition.

Broadcaster NDTV reported that the pilot and co-pilot had been killed. Most of the casualties were seated in the front of the plane, it said.

There were 174 adult passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and four cabin crew members on board the aircraft, according to the ministry.

The accident took place amid heavy rainfall in the region.

— dpa