Nation and world news briefs

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After Sturgis superspreader, Missouri hosts thousands at Lake of the Ozarks bike rally

The rumbling can be heard from miles away. Thousands of motorcycles have converged around the Lake of the Ozarks, where local officials are bracing for more than 100,000 visitors for the 14th annual Bikefest Lake of the Ozarks.

The event is one of the last and largest of the season in the lake area. Lake Ozark Mayor Gerry Murawski said in years past they’d see about 100,000 bikers spread over the entire lake area over five days of events, scenic rides and concerts.

Hundreds of bikes were parked in the center turn lane of the town’s main drag. Only a handful of the tourists that crammed into town were spotted wearing masks. There are no limits on mass gatherings in this part of the state. And though larger cities like Kansas City and St. Louis have mandatory mask orders, few places around the lake are requiring face coverings.

The mayor said he hopes everyone wears masks when appropriate, but he realizes that’s not likely to happen.

“Bikers don’t wear masks,” he said. “It’s just that’s the way they are.”

The festival follows South Dakota’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. With nearly a half million visitors, the 80th annual gathering was deemed a coronavirus “superspreader.” One study estimated the rally added more than 250,000 virus cases across the United States.

— The Kansas City Star

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Andrew Freund Sr. pleads guilty to charges in son AJ’s death, gets 30 years in prison

CHICAGO — The father of 5-year-old AJ Freund on Friday pleaded guilty to charges in connection to the Crystal Lake boy’s death and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Andrew Freund Sr. of Crystal Lake., whose son’s body was found in a shallow grave in April 2019, pleaded guilty to aggravated battery of a child, involuntary manslaughter and concealment of a homicidal death.

He was sentenced to 11 years for aggravated battery of a child, 14 years for involuntary manslaughter and five years for concealment of a homicide.

Judge Robert Wilbrandt said the charges will be served consecutively, “for the protection of the public.”

As part of a plea agreement, Freund must also cooperate in an investigation into the Department of Children and Family Services. Two agency workers face charges in connection to AJ’s death.

Freund must serve at least a minimum of 18 years in prison, 30 years if the sentences handed down Friday are served in full. If he is eventually released from prison, Freund would be required to spend time under supervised release and would be listed on the state’s registry for violent offenders against youths.

Under the plea deal, Freund will get credit for time already served since he was taken into custody on April 26, 2019.

— Chicago Tribune

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Queen Elizabeth II annuls Harvey Weinstein’s royal title

Queen Elizabeth II has stripped disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of royal honors that he was awarded almost two decades ago.

Weinstein was made Honorary Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2004.

“(The title) shall be cancelled and annulled,” the Friday order from the Queen read. “His name shall be erased from the Register of the said Order.”

The title was rescinded by a royal Forfeiture Committee. The honor can be revoked once a recipient is convicted of a crime and sentenced to more than three months in prison, officials said.

Being stripped of an honorary title is the latest blow against Weinstein, who is facing 23 years in prison after being convicted of criminal sex act and rape earlier this year.

Six women testified against Weinstein at his trial in Manhattan, where he was accused of raping and sexually abusing young actresses and models. His victims included Emmy-nominated actress Annabella Sciorra, “Project Runway” production assistant Mimi Haley and actress Jessica Mann.

The Queen bestowed the honorary title on Weinstein and his brother Bob while they ran their movie production company Miramax. The honor is given to those who have made a “distinguished, innovative contribution to any area.”

In 1998, six years before the Weinstein brothers received the honor, Miramax produced “Shakespeare in Love,” which won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Judi Dench, who played Queen Elizabeth I.

— New York Daily News

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Minneapolis to name stretch of Chicago Avenue for George Floyd

MINNEAPOLIS — A stretch of Chicago Avenue that includes the place where George Floyd cried out for his life will soon be named in his honor.

While the street will still be called Chicago Avenue, the city of Minneapolis will refer to the blocks between 37th and 39th streets as George Perry Floyd Jr. Place.

A sign to be installed at the intersection of 38th and Chicago will mark the commemorative designation.

The City Council approved the naming Friday morning, and Mayor Jacob Frey’s office said he will likely sign off on it as well.

Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, who represents the area, thanked her colleagues for working to recognize “this tragic event that has really impacted our entire world.”

Floyd was 46 when he died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. The intersection of 38th and Chicago quickly became a gathering place for people who wanted to pay their respects to Floyd and protest police brutality and racism.

While the commemorative naming passed smoothly through City Council, larger questions about what to do with the intersection are still looming over the city.

Months after Floyd’s death, the intersection remains barricaded and now holds a memorial. A group of demonstrators has occupied the area, saying they will not leave until the city meets their demands, including funding for anti-racism training and a temporary property tax freeze for people within that zone.

The city had announced plans to reopen 38th Street this summer but backed off, avoiding a confrontation.

— Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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