NEW DELHI (AP) — India's crematoriums and burial grounds are being overwhelmed by the devastating new surge of infections tearing through the populous country with terrifying speed, depleting the supply of life-saving oxygen to critical levels and leaving patients to die while waiting in line to see doctors.
For the fourth straight day, India on Sunday set a global daily record for new infections, spurred by an insidious, new variant that emerged here, undermining the government's premature claims of victory over the pandemic.
The 349,691 confirmed cases over the past day brought India's total to more than 16.9 million, behind only the United States. The Health Ministry reported another 2,767 deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing India's COVID-19 fatalities to 192,311.
Experts say that toll could be a huge undercount, as suspected cases are not included, and many deaths from the infection are being attributed to underlying conditions.
The crisis unfolding in India is most visceral in its graveyards and crematoriums, and in heartbreaking images of gasping patients dying on their way to hospitals due to lack of oxygen.
An Oscars unlike any other to get underway Sunday
An Oscars unlike any before will get underway Sunday night, with history on the line in major categories and a telecast retooled for the pandemic.
The 93rd Academy Awards will begin at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC. There will be no host, no audience, nor face masks for nominees attending the ceremony at Los Angeles' Union Station — this year's hub for a show usually broadcast from the Dolby Theatre. In contrast with the largely virtual Golden Globes, Zoom boxes have been closed out — though numerous international hubs and satellite feeds will connect nominees unable to travel.
Show producers are hoping to return some of the traditional glamor to the Oscars, even in a pandemic year. The red carpet is back, though not the throngs; only a handful of media outlets will be allowed on site. (E! red carpet coverage starts at 3 p.m.) Casual wear is a no-no. The pre-show on ABC begins at 6:30 p.m. EDT and will include pre-taped performances of the five Oscar-nominated songs. The ceremony is available to stream on Hulu Live TV, YouTubeTV, AT&T TV, FuboTV and on ABC.com with provider authentication.
Pulling the musical interludes (though not the in memoriam segment) from the three-hour broadcast — and drastically cutting down the time it will take winners to reach the podium — will free up a lot of time in the ceremony. And producers, led by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, are promising a reinvented telecast.
The Oscars will look more like a movie, Soderbergh has said. The show will be shot in 24 frames-per-second (as opposed to 30), appear more widescreen and the presenters — including Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Harrison Ford, Rita Moreno and Zendaya — are considered "cast members." The telecast's first 90 seconds, Soderbergh has claimed, will "announce our intention immediately."
35 years on, Chernobyl warns and inspires
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The vast and empty Chernobyl Exclusion Zone around the site of the world's worst nuclear accident is a baleful monument to human mistakes. Yet 35 years after a power plant reactor exploded, Ukrainians also look to it for inspiration, solace and income.
Reactor No. 4 at the power plant 110 kilometers (65 miles) north of the capital Kyiv exploded and caught fire deep in the night on April 26, 1986, shattering the building and spewing radioactive material high into the sky.
Soviet authorities made the catastrophe even worse by failing to tell the public what had happened — although the nearby plant workers' town of Pripyat was evacuated the next day, the 2 million residents of Kyiv weren't informed despite the fallout danger. The world learned of the disaster only after heightened radiation was detected in Sweden.
Eventually, more than 100,000 people were evacuated from the vicinity and a 2,600-square-kilometer (1,000-square-mile) exclusion zone was established where the only activity was workers disposing of waste and tending to a hastily built sarcophagus covering the reactor.
Radiation continued to leak from the reactor building until 2019, when the entire building was covered by an enormous arch-shaped shelter. As robots inside the shelter began dismantling the reactor, officials felt new optimism about the zone.
The big Pentagon internet mystery now partially solved
BOSTON (AP) — A very strange thing happened on the internet the day President Joe Biden was sworn in. A shadowy company residing at a shared workspace above a Florida bank announced to the world's computer networks that it was now managing a colossal, previously idle chunk of the internet owned by the U.S. Department of Defense.
That real estate has since more than quadrupled to 175 million addresses — about 1/25th the size of the current internet.
"It is massive. That is the biggest thing in the history of the internet," said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Kentik, a network operating company. It's also more than twice the size of the internet space actually used by the Pentagon.
After weeks of wonder by the networking community, the Pentagon has now provided a very terse explanation for what it's doing. But it has not answered many basic questions, beginning with why it chose to entrust management of the address space to a company that seems not to have existed until September.
The military hopes to "assess, evaluate and prevent unauthorized use of DoD IP address space," said a statement issued Friday by Brett Goldstein, chief of the Pentagon's Defense Digital Service, which is running the project. It also hopes to "identify potential vulnerabilities" as part of efforts to defend against cyber-intrusions by global adversaries, who are consistently infiltrating U.S. networks, sometimes operating from unused internet address blocks.
DMX immortalized by family and close friends at memorial
NEW YORK (AP) — DMX's legacy was immortalized as a man beloved by his family, honored for his strong faith and respected as one of hip-hop's greatest icons at his memorial service Saturday, with several heartfelt speeches from those who knew the rapper best.
The speakers included friends Swizz Beatz and Nas, as well as his daughter, who rapped in honor of her father.
Kanye West and Busta Rhymes were among the big names who attended the two-hour ceremony at the Barclays Center in New York. The service at the Brooklyn arena was closed to the public and restricted to close friends and family because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a touching moment, DMX's 15 children gathered on stage to talk — and sometimes rap — about the star as a father who taught them such lessons as "always say thank you," "be kind to everyone" and that being afraid can sometimes show a person how to be brave.
"Our father is a king. Our father is an icon," eldest son Xavier Simmons said, adding that he was honored to be his son: "This man deepened my ability to love."
At least 6 killed in fiery van crash on Georgia interstate
SUWANEE, Ga. (AP) — At least six people died and several others were hurt in an interstate crash in Georgia that left a passenger van engulfed in flames and rolled on its side, police said.
Passersby stopped to pull people from the burning vehicle Saturday evening along I-85 near the I-985 split, Gwinnett County police Sgt. Michele Pihera said in a news release. The area is about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of downtown Atlanta.
Six people were pronounced dead at the scene and several others were taken to Atlanta-area hospitals for treatment. One bystander suffered a minor injury but declined to be transported, police said.
It was unclear how many people were inside the van but police believe all were adults. The news release said details about the people in the van would be announced in the coming days.
Investigators were working to determine the cause of the crash. Information at the scene led police to believe another vehicle may have been involved. Witnesses were asked to call the police department's accident investigation tip line with any information.
Democrat Troy Carter wins New Orleans-based US House seat
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Democrat Troy Carter won Saturday's special election for Louisiana's vacant U.S. House seat, defeating his state Senate colleague and ending an acrimonious, intraparty clash that divided politicians across New Orleans.
Carter easily defeated Karen Carter Peterson in the race for Louisiana's only Democrat-held seat in Congress, in a race seen as handing a victory to the more moderate side of the party after Peterson planted herself firmly in the progressive camp. Carter dismissed those comparisons, noting he also had progressive support.
The pair of state senators from New Orleans, who both made previous failed bids for the congressional seat, had only modest policy differences to distinguish them, and the race centered mainly on personality. Carter had the backing, however, of the seat's predecessor, Cedric Richmond.
The 2nd District seat — representing a majority-Black district centered in New Orleans and extending up the Mississippi River into Baton Rouge — was open because Richmond left the position shortly after he won last year's election to work as a special adviser to President Joe Biden.
"I will wake up every day with you on my mind, on my heart, and I will work for you tirelessly," Carter, a former New Orleans City Council member, pledged to his supporters.
Sheriff to seek release of body cam video of fatal shooting
A North Carolina sheriff whose deputies shot and killed a Black man while serving warrants said Saturday that he will ask a court to release body camera video as soon as he's confident it won't compromise an investigation into how the shooting happened.
The statement comes as the sheriff faces sharp criticism and calls for transparency.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II said in a recorded video statement that he would ask a local judge as early as Monday to allow the release of deputy body camera footage of Wednesday's shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. Wooten said that he would first check with the State Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the shooting, to make sure that releasing the video would not hamper their efforts.
"Only a judge can release the video. That's why I've asked the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to confirm for me that the releasing of the video will not undermine their investigation. Once I get that confirmation, our county will file a motion in court, hopefully Monday, to have the footage released," he said.
Asked for comment on Wooten's remarks, SBI spokeswoman Anjanette Grube referred back to a statement earlier in the week that said "it is not the SBI's decision as to when and how body camera video is released." The statement directed questions about the footage back to the sheriff and local prosecutor.
ASEAN leaders tell Myanmar coup general to end killings
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Southeast Asian leaders demanded an immediate end to killings and the release of political detainees in Myanmar in an emergency summit Saturday with its top general and coup leader who, according to Malaysia's prime minister, did not reject them outright.
The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations also told Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing during the two-hour talks in Jakarta that a dialogue between contending parties in Myanmar should immediately start, with the help of ASEAN envoys.
"The situation in Myanmar is unacceptable and should not continue. Violence must be stopped, democracy, stability and peace in Myanmar must be returned immediately," Indonesian President Joko Widodo said during the meeting. "The interests of the people of Myanmar must always be the priority."
Daily shootings by police and soldiers since the Feb. 1 coup have killed more than 700 mostly peaceful protesters and bystanders, according to several independent tallies.
The messages conveyed to Min Aung Hlaing were unusually blunt and could be seen as a breach of the conservative 10-nation bloc's bedrock principle forbidding member states from interfering in each other's affairs. But Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that policy should not lead to inaction if a domestic situation "jeopardizes the peace, security, and stability of ASEAN and the wider region" and there is international clamor for resolute action.
Iraq Interior Ministry: 82 killed in Baghdad hospital fire
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's Interior Ministry said Sunday that 82 people died and 110 were injured in a catastrophic fire that broke out in a Baghdad hospital.
Among the dead were at least 28 patients on ventilators battling severe symptoms of the coronavirus, tweeted Ali al-Bayati, a spokesman of the country's independent Human Rights Commission.
The commission is a semi-official body.
Negligence on the part of hospital authorities has been blamed for the fire, which initial reports suggest was caused when an oxygen cylinder exploded in an intensive care ward at he Ibn al-Khatib hospital.
The hospital cares for patients with severe symptoms of the coronavirus. The semi-official Independent High Commission for Human Rights reported that at least 28 of the dead were on ventilators.