Nation and world news briefs

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Florida’s schools shouldn’t shut down because of COVID-19 infections, Gov. DeSantis says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Closing schools for months at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic was a mistake that won’t be repeated, and only students who develop symptoms should be isolated, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday.

During a visit to a charter school in Jacksonville, the governor said over 60% of the state’s 2.8 million students in pre-K to 12th grade are getting in-person instruction, and it’s an increasingly popular option because infection risks are low.

“Going forward, whatever the future may hold, school closures should be off the table,” DeSantis said. “They don’t do anything to mitigate COVID, but they do cause catastrophic damage to the physical, mental and social well being of our youth. Let’s not repeat any mistakes of the past.”

The governor said that after two months of most schools in the state being open, there have not been major outbreaks or causes of concern about the virus spreading among students.

“It’s obviously even more clear now that schools are not drivers of spreading coronavirus, and schools need to be open,” he said. “It is a bad public health policy to have schools closed.”

When asked about schools that have had cases of infected students, DeSantis said it doesn’t make sense to force their classmates to quarantine for two weeks unless they are having virus symptoms.

“You should not be quarantining healthy students,” he said, adding that schools shouldn’t “throw in the towel” and close because of a few sick kids.

—Sun Sentinel


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman faces US lawsuit for Khashoggi killing

The fiancee of murdered Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi and a Washington-based organization accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of ordering the killing in a lawsuit filed in a U.S. court on Tuesday.

Prince Mohammed and more than 20 other Saudis are named in the complaint, filed in District of Columbia federal court, lawyer Keith Harper, a partner at Jenner & Block, said in a virtual news conference Tuesday. The suit was brought on behalf of Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, and Democracy for the Arab World Now, an advocacy organization founded by Khashoggi before his death.

Damages should be determined at trial, Harper said.

The Saudi government’s Center for International Communication didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018, sparking an international outcry and straining Saudi Arabia’s close relationship with the U.S.

At the time of his death, Khashoggi was a U.S. resident, living in self-imposed exile during a period of increasing constraints on freedom of expression in his home country. Prince Mohammed has denied any involvement in the killing, while accepting “full responsibility” for it as the country’s de facto leader.

Cengiz and DAWN are suing under the Torture Victim Protection Act and the Alien Tort Statute, which give the U.S. court system jurisdiction over lawsuits alleging certain types of offenses in other countries.

The plaintiffs claim that Prince Mohammed and the other defendants were troubled when they learned of Khashoggi’s plans to establish DAWN and hatched a plan to lure him to Turkey to silence him. Legal co-counsel Keith Gill said one of their main goals is to use the discovery process to obtain documents and information from both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. government that could shed more light on the murder.

—Bloomberg News


Spencer Davis, ’60s British bandleader, has died

Spencer Davis, the veteran British rocker whose 1960s beat band featuring a teenaged Steve Winwood spawned the transatlantic megahit “Gimme Some Lovin’,” has died.

The guitarist passed away Monday at age 81 while being treated in a hospital for pneumonia, his agent told the BBC.

Davis co-founded The Spencer Davis Group in 1963 with a 14-year-old Winwood and older sibling Muff Winwood after seeing the brothers perform at a Birmingham pub.

They had their first No. 1 single with “Keep on Running” in 1965 and released the blues rock classic “I’m a Man” before Winwood left the group in 1967 to form Traffic.

The Spencer Davis Group’s smash hits featured Winwood on vocals, but the band was named after Davis because he was the one who “enjoyed doing interviews,” Muff Winwood told Mojo in 1997.

“If we called it the Spencer Davis Group, the rest of us could stay in bed and let him do them,” Muff reportedly said.

Davis continued performing after both Winwood brothers departed, reforming the Spencer Davis Group in the 1970s and touring as recently as 2017.

He also worked as an A&R executive at Island Records in the mid-1970s, promoting the likes of Bob Marley, Robert Palmer and Steve Winwood in his solo career.

“He was a very good friend,” Bob Birk, who worked with Davis for more than 30 years, told the BBC.

—New York Daily News


Dozens of stolen Trump campaign signs lead to charges in North Carolina, cops say

A traffic stop in North Carolina led to dozens of stolen campaign signs for President Donald Trump, officials say.

A car was pulled over for speeding when state troopers spotted several political signs, the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office said Monday in a news release. In all, 66 signs in support of Trump were found, according to deputies.

Investigators discovered they were taken from around Haw Branch Road, where at least two residents reported missing signs, officials say. The area is roughly 40 miles northwest of the Camp Lejeune U.S. Marine Corps Base in Eastern North Carolina.

Now, two 18-year-olds face charges in connection with the case.

Trinity Rose-Graham and Sasha Stukov-Taylor were each charged with misdemeanor stealing and removing political signs and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to the sheriff’s office. They are set to appear in court next month, state records show.

“Three juveniles were released to family members with pending juvenile petitions,” the sheriff’s office said.

It isn’t the first time campaign signs reportedly have vanished in North Carolina.

Last week, police said a 40-foot-wide Trump banner was stolen from the side of a trailer in Boone. Near Asheville and Raleigh, residents reported signs in support of the president and his opponent, Joe Biden, disappeared or were vandalized, McClatchy News reported.

—The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)