The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — In the year since the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant crashed into a hillside on a foggy morning, killing all nine aboard, there's been plenty of finger-pointing over the cause of the tragedy.
Bryant's widow blamed the pilot. She and families of other victims also faulted the companies that owned and operated the helicopter. The brother of the pilot didn't blame Bryant but said he knew the risks of flying. The helicopter companies said the weather was an act of God and blamed air traffic controllers.
On Tuesday, federal safety officials are expected to announce the long-awaited probable cause of the crash that unleashed worldwide grief for the retired basketball star, launched several lawsuits and prompted state and federal legislation.
"I think the whole world is watching because it's Kobe," said Ed Coleman, an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor and safety science expert.
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and six other passengers were flying from Orange County to a youth basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy in Ventura County on Jan. 26, 2020, when the helicopter encountered thick fog in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles.
Police in Myanmar crack down on crowds defying protest ban
YANGON, Myanmar — Police cracked down on demonstrators opposing Myanmar's military takeover, firing warning shots and shooting water cannons to disperse crowds that took to the streets again Tuesday in defiance of rules making protests illegal.
Water cannons were used in Mandalay, Myanmar's second-biggest city, where witnesses said at least two warning shots were fired to try to break up the crowd. Reports on social media said police arrested more than two dozen people there. They also used water cannons in the capital, Natpyitaw, for a second day and fired shots into the air.
Police were widely reported to have also shot rubber bullets at the crowd in Naypyitaw, wounding several people. Photos on social media showed an alleged shooter -- an officer with a short-barreled gun -- and several injured people. Unconfirmed rumors circulated widely of shootings with live rounds and deaths among the protesters, with the potential of sparking violent retaliation against the authorities, an outcome proponents of the country's civil disobedience movement have warned against.
The protesters are demanding that power be restored to the deposed civilian government and are seeking freedom for the nation's elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other ruling party members detained since the military took over and blocked the new session of Parliament from convening on Feb. 1.
The growing defiance is striking in a country where past demonstrations have been met with deadly force and are a reminder of previous movements in the Southeast Asian country's long and bloody struggle for democracy. The military used deadly force to quash a massive 1988 uprising against military dictatorship and a 2007 revolt led by Buddhist monks.
Vaccinating Florida's seniors at Miami's largest hospital
MIAMI — The tiny glass vaccine vials are delivered to Miami's largest hospital and immediately whisked to a secret location, where they are placed inside a padlocked freezer with a digital thermometer that reads minus 76 degrees Celsius (minus 105 F). An armed guard watches outside the door.
The pharmacy staff at Jackson Health System often gets short notice on how many doses are coming — sometimes as little as 24 hours. As soon as the doses arrive, the pressure builds to administer them quickly, but the timing is complicated. The staff can thaw out only as much COVID-19 vaccine as the hospital can administer that same day.
The Associated Press was given exclusive access to a recent day of vaccinations at the system's main hospital, offering a glance inside the hour-to-hour efforts that fuel the largest inoculation campaign in U.S. history. It is an anxious undertaking for both vaccine providers and Americans seeking the shots, and everyone has to watch the clock.
Appointments must be handled carefully — without overbooking but also with confidence that those who are booked will show up — to ensure that the fewest possible doses go to waste. Once mixed, the vaccine is good for only six hours.
"We don't book any appointments until we know we've got the supply," said David Zambrana, vice president of hospital operations. "We're constantly checking the supply. You can feel the anxiety these folks have. We've heard people say, 'You've saved my life'. They are coming with so much hope."
Iran starts limited COVID vaccinations with Russian shots
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Tuesday launched a coronavirus inoculation campaign among healthcare professionals with recently delivered Russian Sputnik V vaccines as the country struggles to stem the worst outbreak of the pandemic in the Middle East with its death toll nearing 59,000.
At a ceremony marking the start of the campaign, Parsa Namaki, son of Health Minister Saeed Namaki, received his first dose. The minister said the vaccination would be simultaneously carried out in more than 600 medical centers across the country.
In the coming weeks, Iran plans to extend the vaccination to elderly people and those suffering from chronic diseases, the minister added. "We have to vaccinate vulnerable groups."
COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has so far claimed the lives of more that 300 healthcare professionals in Iran.
Last Thursday, Iran received its first batch of foreign-made coronavirus vaccines from Russia. Iran has so far reported some 1.48 million confirmed cases of the virus. Iranian media have reported that a total of 2 million Russian vaccines will arrive in Iran in February and March.
Himalayan glacier disaster highlights climate change risks
NEW DELHI — When Ravi Chopra saw the devastating deluge of water and debris crash downstream from a Himalayan glacier on Sunday, his first thought was that this was exactly the scenario that his team had warned the Indian government of in 2014.
At least 31 people have died, 165 people are missing many more are feared to have died. The deluge first smashed into a small dam, gathering more energy as it grew heavier from the debris it collected along the way. Then, it smashed into a larger, under-construction dam and gathered even more energy.
Chopra and other experts had been tasked by India's Supreme Court to study the impact of receding glaciers on dams. They had warned that warming temperatures due to climate change was melting the Himalayan glaciers and facilitated avalanches and landslides, and that constructing dams in this fragile ecosystem was dangerous.
"They were clearly warned, and yet they went ahead," said Chopra, director of the non-profit People's Science Institute.
Scientists had first suspected that a glacial lake had burst, but after examining satellite images now believe that a landslide and avalanche were the more likely cause of the disaster. What isn't clear still is whether the landslide induced an avalanche of ice and debris, or whether falling ice resulted in the landslide, said Mohammad Farooq Azam, who studies glaciers at the Indian Institute of Technology at Indore.
Mary Wilson, longest-reigning original Supreme, dies at 76
LAS VEGAS — Mary Wilson, the longest-reigning original Supreme, has died at 76 years old.
Wilson died Monday night at her home in Las Vegas and the cause was not immediately clear, said publicist Jay Schwartz.
Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard made up the first successful configuration of The Supremes. Ballard was replaced by Cindy Birdsong in 1967, and Wilson stayed with the group until it was officially disbanded by Motown in 1977.
The group's first No. 1, million-selling song, "Where Did Our Love Go," was released June 17, 1964. Touring at the time, Wilson said there was a moment when she realized they had a hit song.
"I remember that instead of going home on the bus, we flew," she told The Associated Press in 2014. "That was our first plane ride. We flew home. We had really hit big."
Arab spacecraft closes in on Mars on historic flight
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates was set to swing into orbit around Mars in the Arab world's first interplanetary mission Tuesday, the first of three robotic explorers arriving at the red planet over the next week and a half.
The orbiter, called Amal, Arabic for Hope, traveled 300 million miles in nearly seven months to get to Mars with the goal of mapping its atmosphere throughout each season.
A combination orbiter and lander from China is close behind, scheduled to reach the planet on Wednesday. It will circle Mars until the rover separates and attempts to land on the surface in May to look for signs of ancient life.
A rover from the U.S. named Perseverance is set to join the crowd next week, aiming for a landing Feb. 18. It will be the first leg in a decade-long U.S.-European project to bring Mars rocks back to Earth to be examined for evidence the planet once harbored microscopic life.
About 60% of all Mars missions have ended in failure, crashing, burning up or otherwise falling short in a testament to the complexity of interplanetary travel and the difficulty of making a descent through Mars' thin atmosphere.