Biden to lay out vax donations, urge world leaders to join
MAWGAN PORTH, England (AP) — One year ago, the U.S. was the deadliest hotspot of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the cancellation of the Group of Seven summit it was due to host. Now, the U.S. is emerging as a model for how to successfully emerge from more than 15 months of global crisis.
For President Joe Biden, who is meeting with leaders of the wealthy G-7 democracies on his first overseas trip since taking office, it's a personal vindication of his pledge to turn around the U.S. virus, but also a call to action to enlist other countries in the global fight.
In a speech on the eve of the summit, Biden on Thursday will unveil plans for the U.S. to donate 500 million vaccine doses around the globe over the next year, on top of 80 million he has already pledged by the end of the month. U.S. officials say Biden will also include a direct request to his fellow G-7 leaders to do the same.
"We have to end COVID-19, not just at home — which we're doing — but everywhere," Biden told American servicemembers Wednesday on the first stop of his three-country, eight-day trip, adding that the effort "requires coordinated, multilateral action."
"There's no wall high enough to keep us safe from this pandemic or the next biological threat we face — and there will be others," he added.
Biden, Johnson to stress close ties, manage differences
PLYMOUTH, England (AP) — Their nations may have a famed "special relationship," but President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet for the first time Thursday against a backdrop of differences both political and personal.
Biden hopes to use his first overseas trip as president to reassure European allies that the United States had shed the transactional tendencies of Donald Trump's term and is a reliable partner again. But tensions may simmer beneath the surface of Biden's meeting with Johnson.
The president staunchly opposed the Brexit movement, the British exodus from the European Union that Johnson championed, and has expressed great concern with the future of Northern Ireland. And Biden once called the British leader a "physical and emotional clone" of Trump.
The British government has worked hard to overcome that impression, stressing Johnson's common ground with Biden on issues such as climate change and his support for international institutions. But Johnson, the host for the Group of Seven summit that will follow his sit-down with Biden, has been frustrated by the lack of a new trade deal with the United States.
The two men had planned to visit the spectacular island of St. Michael's Mount but that had to be scrapped because of the weather. But when they do meet, they were expected to announce the creation of a U.S.-U.K. task force that will move toward resuming travel between the two nations, according to a White House official. Most travel has been banned between the two nations since March 2020.
Allies hope to bond, look beyond virus at G-7 summit in UK
LONDON (AP) — There will be roundtable meetings, one-on-one chats and a group photo against a picturesque backdrop. When leaders of some of the world's richest nations meet Friday at the English seaside for a three-day Group of Seven summit, much of the choreography will be familiar.
But the world has changed dramatically.
Since the G-7 last met two years ago, the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 3.7 million people and decimated economies with lockdowns and layoffs. A planned G-7 meeting in the United States last year was postponed, then canceled.
So when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwest England, pandemic recovery — "building back better," in a phrase both Biden and Johnson like — will top the agenda.
Johnson said the meeting would help move on from "a miserable period of competition and squabbling" that marked the early response to the pandemic.
Asia welcomes US vaccine donations amid cold storage worries
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Health officials and experts in Asia have welcomed U.S. plans to share 500 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine with the developing world, but some say it would take more than donations alone to address huge vaccination gaps that threaten to prolong the pandemic.
President Joe Biden was set to make the announcement Thursday in a speech before the start of the Group of Seven summit in Britain. Two hundred million doses — enough to fully protect 100 million people — will be provided this year, with the balance donated in the first half of 2022, according to the White House.
Jaehun Jung, a professor of preventive medicine at South Korea's Gachon University College of Medicine, said the U.S. donations may prove to be a "huge turning point" in the global fight against COVID-19, but also lamented that the help didn't come earlier.
He said the extremely cold storage temperatures required for Pfizer shots would also present challenges for countries with poor health systems and infrastructure and called on U.S. officials and the drugmaker to help those nations overcome these challenges. Partially because of these concerns, many of the vaccines currently being used in the developing world are shots that have simpler storage requirements, such as AstraZeneca's.
As richer countries have rushed to vaccinate wide swath of their populations, inequities in vaccine supplies around the world have become more pronounced — with some poorer nations yet to administer a single dose. At the same time, there's increasing concern over newer virus variants emerging from areas with consistently high COVID-19 circulation.
AP: Louisiana police unit probed over Black driver arrests
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The same Louisiana State Police unit whose troopers stunned, punched and dragged Ronald Greene on video during a deadly 2019 arrest is now under internal investigation by a secret panel over whether its officers are systematically targeting Black motorists for abuse.
The panel, whose existence was confirmed to The Associated Press by four people familiar with it, was set up in response to Greene's death as well as three other violent stops of Black men: one who was punched, stunned and hoisted to his feet by his hair braids in a body-camera video obtained by the AP, another who was beaten after he was handcuffed, and yet another who was slammed 18 times with a flashlight.
"Every time I told him to stop he'd hit me again," said Aaron Bowman, whose flashlight pummeling left him with three broken ribs, a broken jaw, a broken wrist and a gash to his head that required six staples to close. "I don't want to see this happen to nobody — not to my worst enemy."
The panel began working a few weeks ago to review thousands of body-camera videos over the past two years involving as many as a dozen white troopers, at least four of whom were involved in Greene's arrest.
The review is focused on Louisiana State Police Troop F, a 66-officer unit that patrols a sprawling territory in the northeastern part of the state and has become notorious in recent years for alleged acts of brutality that have resulted in felony charges against some of its troopers.
As Iran prepares to vote, its battered economy a major worry
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Almost six years ago, Iranians poured into the streets to celebrate Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. They saw it as a chance for the Islamic Republic to re-enter the world economy and create opportunities like purchasing airplanes and selling its oil on the international market.
Today, that dream has faded into a daily grinding nightmare of high inflation, an ever-weakening national currency and high unemployment worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.
The West considers Iran's nuclear program and Mideast tensions as the most important issues facing Tehran, but those living in the Islamic Republic repeatedly point to the economy as the major issue facing it ahead of its June 18 presidential election.
Whoever takes the presidency after the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani will face the unenviable task of trying to reform Iran's largely state-controlled economy. Efforts to privatize it have seen corruption allegations swirl as many lose their life savings and nationwide protests rage.
"One day they said the nuclear deal was accepted, everyone was happy, the dollar rate went down over one day," said Mohammad Molaei, a 50-year-old commodities trader. "Then things start to happen. Missiles are fired. The nuclear deal is bust. One tears it apart, the other burns it. Only the people lose."
The new guy? Biden debuts at democracy's most exclusive club
WASHINGTON (AP) — Angela, Boris, Emmanuel, Justin, Mario, Yoshihide and a relative newcomer: Joe.
They're the board of global democracy's most exclusive club, and they're meeting this week after four years of U.S. disruption and a two-year coronavirus interruption.
Already on a first-name basis with relationships that range from just months to years, the leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies are gathering Friday amid hopes that the departure of their most unruly member and a new era of personal friendships enhanced by face-to-face discussions can restore a global anti-authoritarian consensus on climate, the coronavirus, China and Russia.
The G-7's return to polite quasi-normality comes as President Joe Biden seeks to restore steady U.S. leadership to the bloc, which had been hamstrung by his predecessor Donald Trump's often confrontational approach to longtime American allies. U.S. officials believe Biden's decadeslong experience in foreign policy combined with his personal skills and folksy demeanor will ease lingering resentments.
Trump had thrown a wrench into G-7 unity, demanding the absolute prioritization of U.S. interests, threatening decades-old security guarantees, insulting colleagues and loudly suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin be invited back into the group despite his refusal to meet demands for Moscow to stay out of Ukraine.
Europe tells tourists: Welcome back! Now work out the rules
PARIS (AP) — Europe is opening up to Americans and other visitors after more than a year of COVID-induced restrictions, in hope of luring back tourists — and their dollars — to the continent's trattorias, vistas and cultural treasures. But travelers will need patience to figure out who's allowed into which country, how and when.
As the European Union's doors reopen one by one to the outside world for the first time since March 2020, tourists will discover a patchwork of systems instead of a single border-free leisure zone, because national governments have resisted surrendering control over their frontiers amid the pandemic. And post-Brexit Britain is going its own way altogether.
Meanwhile, the welcoming mood isn't always mutual. U.S. borders, for example, remain largely closed to non-Americans.
Here's a look at current entry rules in some popular European tourist destinations. One caveat: While these are the regulations as written by governments, travelers may meet hiccups as airlines or railway officials try to make sense of them.
Legislators, students push for K-12 Asian American studies
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — When the Asian American Student Union at a Connecticut high school organized a Zoom call following the killing of six Asian women in Atlanta, senior Lily Feng thought maybe 10 or 15 classmates would attend. When she logged on, more than 50 people from her school were online. By the call's end, nearly 100 people had joined.
Seeing her peers at Farmington High School turn out for the conversation — one piece of a student-led effort to explore Asian American identity issues — made her realize how much they wanted to listen and learn about a topic that is often absent from the curriculum.
"Our Asian American and Pacific Islander community members, they want their voices to be heard," said Feng, co-president of the student group that also has brought in speakers, hosted panels and created lessons about Asian American history. "They are almost desperate to be speaking about it. This is so heavy, this is heartbreaking and it was a space for them to really voice that."
As students push for more inclusive curriculum, some lawmakers, educators and students themselves are working to address gaps in instruction and fight harmful stereotypes by pushing for more Asian American history to be included in K-12 lesson plans.
Illinois would become the first state to require public schools to teach Asian American studies if the governor signs a bill that cleared the state Legislature. Lawmakers have proposed similar mandates this year in Connecticut, New York and Wisconsin.
Scientists hail golden age to trace bird migration with tech
TAKOMA PARK, Md. (AP) — A plump robin wearing a tiny metal backpack with an antenna hops around a suburban yard in Takoma Park, then plucks a cicada from the ground for a snack.
Ecologist Emily Williams watches through binoculars from behind a bush. On this clear spring day, she's snooping on his dating life. "Now I'm watching to see whether he's found a mate," she said, scrutinizing his interactions with another robin in a nearby tree.
Once the bird moves on at season's end, she'll rely on the backpack to beam frequent location data to the Argos satellite, then back to Williams' laptop, to track it.
The goal is to unravel why some American robins migrate long distances, but others do not. With more precise information about nesting success and conditions in breeding and wintering grounds, "we should be able to tell the relative roles of genetics versus the environment in shaping why birds migrate," said Williams, who is based at Georgetown University.
Putting beacons on birds is not novel. But a new antenna on the International Space Station and receptors on the Argos satellite, plus the shrinking size of tracking chips and batteries, are allowing scientists to remotely monitor songbird movements in much greater detail than ever before.