Authorities say a wildfire in a central Texas state park is no longer growing and no injuries were reported after the blaze burned 1.2 square miles in the city of Bastrop. Texas A&M Forest Service spokesperson Kari Hines said Wednesday that no homes have been reported destroyed, some families have returned to their homes and warmer conditions with lower winds and higher humidity will help firefighters on Wednesday. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Director Carter Smith says the cause of the fire has not been determined, but embers from a prescribed burn at Bastrop State Park is suspected.
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Three former Minneapolis officers headed to a federal trial on civil rights charges this week in the death of George Floyd aren’t as familiar to most people as Derek Chauvin, a fellow officer who was convicted of murder last spring. Thomas Lane and J. Kueng were the first officers to respond to a report that Floyd had tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill, and they helped Chauvin restrain Floyd. Lane and Kueng were rookies just a few days into their jobs as full-fledged officers. Tou Thao was the second-most senior officer on the scene after Chauvin. He held back a group of bystanders shouting at the officers to get off Floyd.
The French Senate has voted in favor of banning the wearing of headscarves in sports competitions after arguing that neutrality is a requirement on the field of play. The French upper legislative house voted in favor of amending a proposed law on stipulating that the wearing “of conspicuous religious symbols is prohibited” to take part in events and competitions organized by sports federations. It is unclear whether the ban would be implemented for the 2024 Paris Olympics. A commission composed of members from the Senate and the lower house is now expected to gather to find a compromise on the text before it is published.
A high-profile killing at New York City’s busiest subway station has injected fresh unease into the perception of whether the subway system is safe. Mayor Eric Adams made a point of taking the subway to City Hall on his first day to work on Jan. 1. He had announced plans to boost the presence of police officers in the subway and reach out to homeless people in stations and trains. He said it's part of a mission to combat “actual crime” and “the perception of crime.” But the former police captain admitted Tuesday that even he didn’t feel entirely safe on the subway.
The Biden administration has chosen Los Angeles to host a summit of leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean that is a key part of its outreach to a region increasingly being courted by U.S. adversaries such as Russia and China. It’s the first time the U.S. is hosting the Summit of the Americas since President Bill Clinton in 1994 regional leaders in Miami to push for a free trade agreement stretching from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. The gathering will take place in early June and will focus on defending democracy and human rights in the western hemisphere as well as addressing irregular migration, climate change and efforts to ensure equitable growth as the region emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.
A coalition of media groups says restrictions on access to the federal civil rights trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death amount to an unconstitutional closing of the courtroom. Citing the risks of the pandemic, Judge Paul Magnuson has restricted the number of people who may be in his courtroom for the proceedings against Tou Thao, J. Kueng and Thomas Lane. They're charged with depriving Floyd of his rights while acting under government authority. Jury selection begins Thursday. Magnuson has also restricted how much can be seen on a closed-circuit feed of the proceedings, which will be relayed to overflow rooms where only a limited number of journalists and members of the public can watch.
Three police officers have been charged with manslaughter and reckless endangerment after firing their weapons in the direction of a crowd of people exiting a high school football game outside of Philadelphia, injuring three people and killing an 8-year-old girl. A grand jury recommended the charges against the three Sharon Hill Police officers, Devon Smith, Sean Dolan and Brian Devaney, in the August 27 shooting that killed Fanta Bility. Murder charges previously filed against two Black teenagers for firing gunshots that prompted the officers to shoot were also dropped Tuesday, according to a news release from the Delaware County District Attorney’s office.
A bill pushed by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel “discomfort” when they teach students or train employees about discrimination in the nation’s past received its first approval. It takes aim at critical race theory though it doesn't mention it explicitly. Florida's Senate Education Committee approved the bill on party lines Tuesday, with Republicans in favor and Democrats against. Democrats argued the bill isn’t needed. DeSantis called critical race theory “crap" last month and said he would seek legislation that would let parents sue schools and employees sue employers if they were subject to its teachings.
Two men who say they were sexually assaulted by a former sports doctor at the University of Michigan are hoping that a change in leadership with the weekend firing of President Mark Schlissel will allow the school be more accountable toward abuse victims. Keith Moree and Robert Stone told reporters Tuesday that the Ann Arbor school is ripe for a culture change as its board conducts a search to permanently replace Schlissel who was removed due to an alleged “inappropriate relationship with a university employee.” They say Schlissel’s abrupt firing and the revelations and litigation over decades of sexual abuse by Dr. Robert Anderson have tarnished Michigan’s reputation.
A Michigan professor who was suspended after making a provocative video for his students is threatening to file a lawsuit if Ferris State University doesn’t lift the sanction. An attorney for Barry Mehler warned the school in a letter Tuesday. Matthew Hoffer says the history teacher is protected by the First Amendment and a contract between Ferris State and its faculty. Mehler’s 14-minute video at the start of a new term was peppered with profanities and unusual remarks about grades, plagiarism and classroom attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ferris State President David Eisler says he was “shocked and appalled.” Mehler has been placed on leave.