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    A U.S. Air Force pilot died Tuesday when an F-16 crashed during a training mission Tuesday night at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, officials said. Update 8:50 a.m. EDT July 2: Officials identified the U.S. Air Force pilot who died Tuesday in a crash during a routine training mission at Shaw Air Force Base as 1st Lt. David Schmitz of the 77th Fighter Squadron. “Last night we lost one of our very best, Lt. David Schmitz,” said Col. Larry Sullivan, commander of 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base. “He died conducting a training sortie here in South Carolina as his squadron, the 77th Gamblers, is preparing to deploy overseas for combat operations.” Sullivan said Schmitz, who earned his pilot’s license at 17, “loved a lot of things.” “He loved his family, his country and he loved to fly,” Sullivan said. “He enlisted in the United States Air Force and served with distinction as a load master the C-17s supporting some of our nation’s most sensitive missions. And he never gave up on his lifelong goal of flying for the United States Air Force as a pilot.” Sullivan said Schmitz was commissioned through officer training school, where he graduated at the top of his class. “Our condolences go out to the Schmitz family, to the Gamblers and to all of team Shaw,” Sullivan said. Update 4:12 a.m. EDT July 1: The pilot of the F-16CM Fighting Falcon that crashed has died, base officials said. The name of the pilot is being withheld until next of kin are notified. “Out of respect and consideration for the family, we ask for your patience and to avoid speculation until we release more information,” officials said. Original report: The cause of the crash and status of the pilot are unknown, WLTX reported.  The F-16CM Fighting Falcon with a single pilot on board was on a routine training mission when it crashed around 11:30 p.m., WLTX reported.  Check back for more on this developing story.
  • A military pilot has died in the crash of a fighter jet during a training mission at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. 20th Fighter Wing Commander Larry Sullivan confirmed the pilot's death early Wednesday morning. The crash happened on the military base around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, news outlets reported. Base officials said the pilot was performing a routine training mission in a F-16CM Fighting Falcon when the jet crashed. The pilot was the only person on board. The cause of the crash is under investigation. The name of the pilot wasn't immediately released.
  • SpaceX launched the military’s newest, most accurate GPS satellite Tuesday after a two-month delay due to the pandemic. A Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, carrying the GPS satellite to orbit. The brand new first-stage booster landed on an ocean platform several minutes later, to be recycled for future use. The launch originally was scheduled for April, but the newly organized U.S. Space Force delayed it to keep staff healthy and safe during the coronavirus outbreak. This is the third in the most advanced line of GPS satellites, and joins a constellation of 31 GPS spacecraft in orbit, according to the Space Force. The launch was dedicated to Col. Thomas Falzarano, commander of the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado who died in May at age 47. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. liftoff.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That's what the Intel brings. This entry brings to DawgNation.com some interesting Intel regarding Jamaree Salyer and the gains he's made getting ready for the 2020 season. The coronavirus has meant a disruption to most of us. Time lost. Efficiencies that were taken for granted in our careers. The new normal has been an adjustment. Not an improvement. That's not the case with Georgia junior offensive tackle Jamaree Salyer. Salyer has used the global pandemic as a means for change. He played last fall at 335 pounds, but Salyer now hovers around the 310-312 mark. He's noticeably quicker and more agile. Kevin Johnson, his offensive line coach at Pace Academy, has been with him throughout this transformation. 'The biggest thing now is his core,' Johnson said. @jamareesalyer69 weight check in before he start training with his team. @joshhswan did a outstanding job getting him ready for the next chapter in his life. @KirbySmartUGA #FamilyFirst #BIGDAWGSCLUB pic.twitter.com/WxA2cshEuG BIG DAWGS CLUB, LLC (@CoachKev79) June 9, 2020 When he played last fall, Salyer made his blocks but was on the ground far too much. He was picking his body up off of piles on the ground. The NFL scouts were not going to be a big fan of that. 'When I got that information, then we just transferred that information into the weight room,' Johnson said. Salyer has changed his game considerably. He is seen as the summer favorite to claim the left tackle spot for this year's Georgia team.His game was more aircraft carrier a year ago. He was seen as the backup right tackle and a key reserve for the guard spots, too. The 2020 model Salyer now moves more like a battleship. Or a destroyer. That's what former Georgia All-American Andrew Thomas has seen during their daily workouts over the last four months. He thinks Salyer can now play left tackle at Georgia. 'I think he already had all the intangibles to play the position well and take advantage of an opportunity there,' Thomas said. 'But him now being in the best shape of his life is now going to only make that transition easier for him. I'm proud of the work he's put in. I'm excited to see the work he is going to do.' The former Pace Academy standout has always had good technique. There was a time during an Atlanta Opening regional in the winter of 2017 when nobody wanted to line up against former 5-star Brenton Cox. There were no tackles jumping in to take those reps. Salyer was already an Opening alumnus from the year before and a 5-star in the same class. So the coaches asked him to step in and see what he can do. The elite guard prospect stepped in and won at least one of the reps and stalemated another. He more than held his own in that battle back then even tough he was playing out of position. DawgNation should see more of that in 2020. 'He's always been strong and always had good technique,' Thomas said. 'He understands the game really well. I think just being more nimble and understanding how to control his body a little better is going to take him to the next level.' A key series of events that have transformed Jamaree Salyer The former 5-star offensive guard prospect started in The Sugar Bowl last January. The Bulldogs had a slew of turnover on their offensive line for the Baylor game. Salyer received a healthy share of playing time. The 335-pound rising junior who started that game at right tackle was in store for a breakout 2020 season. But that young man is gone. He might have been plenty good. Good enough to even catch some NFL Draft eyes after this fall. That would have been his third season at UGA. That Salyer has been transformed by another cog in a series of events. His longtime friend and Pace Academy and Georgia Bulldog teammate Andrew Thomas was set to be a first-round draft pick earlier this year. He was just that. Thomas was the No. 4 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft. It made him the highest-drafted offensive lineman in the history of the Georgia football program. But the pandemic also offered Sayler all the time in the world to chisel out a new body for the gobs of playing time he is expected to earn this fall. He had online classes and didn't have to confine himself to the campus setting during the quarantine. Thomas and his career flight offered the opportunity to ratchet up this moment even further. He trained to prep for the NFL Combine at Exos, a top-flight group human performance group headquartered in Arizona, and then returned to Georgia. When he did, Thomas had daily workouts in the Atlanta area with his trainer Josh Swann. That was more top-of-the-line training. Salyer got the chance to join his buddy for those workouts. They trained together under the watchful eyes of Swann's expertise. It can be stated it was just like Salyer was working to get ready for a rookie season in the NFL, too. Not his junior year in the SEC. 'He was with me until they started back working out at Georgia,' Thomas said. 'He was with me working out training and doing the workouts and the New York Giants workouts that I got from the strength staff up there. He'll be ready.' When it comes time for Salyer to train for his own NFL Draft day either one year or two years into his future, it will be like second nature. He'd been training like he was priming to go high in the draft since the late winter and early spring of 2020. There was no workout period to fit into a busy school day. The workouts could dominate the day. What would Thomas have said if somebody told him last fall that Salyer was going to weight right around 310 pounds heading into the summer of 2020? 'I would have bet you $500 that he wasn't going to be that low,' Thomas said. He's a different player now. 'He's a lot more nimble now than just power,' Thomas said. 'He's a lot more explosive power.' Andrew Thomas on Jamaree Salyer: What he looks like now Thomas was asked to break down the biggest changes he has seen from Salyer up to this point. 'Jamaree is pretty athletic,' Thomas said. 'People don't know that but he is pretty athletic. With him losing that weight I think people are going to see that on the field a lot more. The other thing for him now is really flexibility. Everyone knows he is a big strong guy but he is getting a lot better at bending. That is what will make him a better pass protector.' Salyer was bench pressing 450-plus pounds before this spring, but he's gotten stronger there as well. Kirby Smart even pointed out on Twitter recently that he sees abs in his future. There was a drill he did on Instagram where Salyer made a series of quick-twitch leaps up and around a high hurdle. Thomas made those jumps the way a first-round tackle would, but Salyer was able to complete his circuit, too. 'Jamaree has come a long way,' Thomas said. 'Knowing Jamaree from back in the day and I was surprised when I saw him do that. From training together over years and years, he's always been a very strong guy. A brute strength guy but when you talk about being fluid, that wasn't necessarily his strength. He's now definitely come a long way in that.' Salyer was given the idea to transform his body from Smart and New Georgia offensive line coach Matt Luke to play tackle for the 2020 season. It goes without saying that nobody expected him to execute that plan to the degree that he has. 'We just had to transform his body and his mindset,' Pace Academy offensive line coach Kevin Johnson said. 'It goes with being disciplined at the table, working countlessly with the long hours and the small stuff like flexibility. So we implemented flexibility drills and exercises three days a week into his workouts.' The starting point was right at 335 pounds. That was when Thomas came back from the NFL Combine in February in Indianapolis. 'The light went off in is own head from there,' Johnsons said. 'Jamaree started practicing more and doing more and more things on his own from there for himself to get better, lose the weight and really get in shape.' There were a couple of times that Salyer had to excuse himself from the gym in that process. It was all part of the work he was putting in. 'He had to go outside,' Johnson said. 'That was good, though. It just showed how hard he was willing to work. He saw where he was and now where he is I am so proud of the kid.' Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com 'Before the Hedges' program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download. Jamaree Salyer: The changes he made to drop to 310 pounds Johnson said Salyer told him that his regimen of the last three months has left him prepared for summer workouts back in Athens. 'If most of your weight is in your stomach then your stomach weight pulls on your back and your back and that weights is what pull you down to the ground,' Johnson said. 'That was the key here for Jamaree.' Check out these workout videos. @jamareesalyer69 Developing the Blueprint for you. God Plan 315 pounds right nowwwww @KirbySmartUGA pic.twitter.com/jfnkpBlbQr BIG DAWGS CLUB, LLC (@CoachKev79) May 13, 2020 WHO'S NEXT? We got the Blueprint pic.twitter.com/Ev34A458WV BIG DAWGS CLUB, LLC (@CoachKev79) April 30, 2020 @KirbySmartUGA @UGAAthletics @DASHGwinnett @joshhswan @jamareesalyer69 @allforgod_55 @deon_jackson4 #Peacefulprotest pic.twitter.com/JFKeaLBDbs BIG DAWGS CLUB, LLC (@CoachKev79) May 31, 2020 @jamareesalyer69 @GeorgiaFootball @KirbySmartUGA Great Day @DASHGwinnett with @joshhswan. Big man thinking about going out of retirement next year to play @UGABasketball pic.twitter.com/xG0C7jNuGm BIG DAWGS CLUB, LLC (@CoachKev79) May 23, 2020 Salyer now has a totally different body than the player who was once the highest-rated offensive guard prospect in approximately a generation.When Salyer was at the U.S. Army All-American Game in January of 2018, he weighed in at 366 pounds. He doesn't even look like the same athlete anymore. He looks like a 310-pound athlete. Fluid now means something more here than a road grader going to the water bucket to get a drink. 'It is not even his lifts anymore,' Thomas said. 'It is just running and jumping and his explosive movements. Things like that. You can even see it in his offensive line drills with unlocking his hips and stuff. He used to have tighter hips, but you see him doing certain drills and his kick slide now being fluid. It just shows you how he's made improvements.' This all just didn't take place thanks to some high-intensity workouts and constant next-level training of two to three hours every day. His diet has changed. Salyer eliminated the starches and sugars from his weekly nutrition plan. He will still eat the chicken wings he loves. Or a steak when he goes out. But he's removed the break and some of the heavier pasta options. It is just more sensible eating and portion control. 'That just takes discipline and means he is committed to it,' Thomas said. The path to playing time wasn't as fast for Salyer on the Georgia line as it was Thomas. That's partly due to the fact that Georgia didn't have players like Thomas and fellow first-rounder Isaiah Wilson on the line when he enrolled at Georgia. Cade Mays was also there ahead of Salyer as he enrolled six months earlier than Salyer in the same signing class. Salyer was rated higher than all of those guys when he came out. But had to wait for his turn as a fixture starter at UGA. 'The biggest thing is he's kept his mind right,' Thomas said. 'Jamaree was a very highly-recruited guy. Very talented. But he didn't get a chance to play as early as he was expecting but he hasn't changed. He has a positive mindset. He didn't complain. All he did was continue to work and I'm proud of him.' 'A lot of people wouldn't be able to do that. They would get down and quit, but he knew that if he continued to work then he would get his time. His opportunity is coming soon.' What's the long-term position future for Jamaree Salyer? That question above is a good question. The 2020 model Salyer would've been a good utility hybrid guard-tackle for even the stacked Georgia offensive lines of the last two seasons. He can lock down a tackle spot for the Bulldog line this fall. But what about three or four years down the road? That's where he height and length come into play. He's still just over the 6-foot-4 mark in height. That's at least an inch below the prototype for NFL offensive tackles. 'I think in the NFL long-term Jamaree is probably going to play guard,' Thomas said. 'Just because of the way he is built. That's what his athleticism and size and strength are best for. But he does possess things that allow him to play out there at tackle or to play center like he did a couple of times for us last year. I think he can play any position on the line, but I feel like his home will be guard.' Sayer and Thomas have now also been working each week with all-time great Atlanta Falcon Kynan Forney, too. Forney is now a successful trainer in the Atlanta area. 'The biggest thing for me training at EXOS and for the combine is just paying attention to your body,' Thomas said. 'A lot of times in college we would just go to workouts and go do whatever afterward. Not eating the right stuff. Or not getting good sleep. But when you are a professional you pay attention to all of that. Your body is your investment. We do all types of recovery and all types of stretching. Chiropractors.' 'All of those things you could now take advantage of to make you a better athlete. It will be crazy to see how I would have played in college after training like that to get ready.' Thomas said he gave Salyer a few tips for this fall. He's expected to become a leader in the offensive line room for new offensive line coach Matt Luke's first full season at UGA. 'I told him to just trust your technique,' Thomas said. 'You get into big moments and your mind gets going and your adrenaline starts pumping. A lot of guys lose sight of what they are always taught. A key thing for me is regardless of who you are facing or what the situation is if you just revert back to what you have been practicing and training to do, then nine times out of 10 you are going to see good success with that approach.' Thomas had a few highlight clips at UGA where he was rolling some 20 yards downfield to make blocks. Or to keep climbing up past the second level. He predicts that Salyer will generate those plays of his own now, too. 'You are definitely going to see some pancakes,' Thomas said. 'I don't know how many of those are going to be that far down the field but you are definitely going to see some pancakes for sure.' DAWGNATION RECRUITING (the recent reads on DawgNation.com) Before the Hedges: Sudden change for Georgia football and its 2021 recruiting board Xavier Worthy: Can the speed demon WR be the next link in the California-UGA pipeline? Elite OLB Dallas Turner announces finalists and rapidly-approaching decision day Checking in on the four biggest Georgia football recruiting storylines at this time Why Malcolm 'The Jet' Johnson Jr. and his 10.38 speed is giving UGA a good look Georgia RB commit Lovasea' Carroll shuts down all talk of a Florida flip Tony Grimes: The nation's No. 1 CB prospect rapidly moves up his decision date 5-star ATH James Williams changes things up a bit with his new top 2 WATCH: The Chaz Chambliss edit that caught everyone's attention this week Tony Grimes: It appears a decision has been made on his potential reclassification Derrick LeBlanc: Georgia extends 'dream school' offer to a sophomore with elite size HEDGES: Who's the best QB on the board in the class of 2022? MJ Morris: New Georgia coordinator Todd Monken has made him a priority WATCH: Georgia commit Chaz Chambliss shows he has a bright future at OLB The post Andrew Thomas on Jamaree Salyer: You are definitely going to see some pancakes' in 2020 appeared first on DawgNation.
  • For a long time, few people in the small Belgian town of Halle paid much attention to the monuments. They were just fixtures in a local park, tributes to great men of the past. But these are very different times, and yesterday’s heroes can be today’s racist villains. And so it was that three weeks ago, a bust of Leopold II, the Belgian king who has been held responsible for the deaths of millions of Congolese, was spattered in red paint, labeled “Murderer,” and later knocked off its pedestal. Nearby, a pale sandstone statue formally known as the “Monument to the Colonial Pioneers” has stood for 93 years. It depicts a naked Congolese boy offering a bowl of fruit in gratitude to Lt. Gen. Baron Alphonse Jacques de Dixmude, a Belgian soldier accused of atrocities in Africa. These monuments, and others across Europe, are coming under scrutiny as never before, no longer a collective blind spot on the moral conscience of the public. Protests sweeping the world that followed the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed last month by Minneapolis police, are focusing attention on Europe’s colonial past and racism of the present. Eric Baranyanka, a 60-year-old musician who came to Halle as a refugee from Belgium's African colony of Burundi when was 3, said he has always found the statue of Jacques “humiliating.” “I had this pride being who I was. It was in complete contradiction with that statue,” he said. But Halle Mayor Marc Snoeck appears to be more representative of his citizenry. He said he “never really noticed” the monuments until an anti-colonial group raised awareness of them a dozen years ago in the town of 40,000 people about 15 kilometers (10 miles) south of Brussels. “I’m part of an older generation and I heard precious little during my studies about colonialism, the Congo Free State and the Belgian Congo,” said the 66-year-old Snoeck, noting he was taught about how Europeans brought civilization, not exploitation and death, to the heart of Africa. Statues of Leopold, who reigned from 1865 to 1909, have been defaced in a half-dozen cities, including Antwerp, where one was burned and had to be removed for repairs. It's unclear if it will ever come back. But Leopold is hardly the only focus. Snoeck found it remarkable that protesters have not targeted the statue of Jacques, which he called “possibly even worse.” The mayor said the statue is known locally as “The White Negro,” because of the hue of the sandstone depicting the Congolese youth offering the fruit to the colonial-era Belgian who condoned or was responsible for murders, rapes and maiming workers in the Congo Free State. Baranyanka was lovingly raised by a white foster family in Halle and said he never experienced prejudice until after he had been in Belgium for about a decade. His 98-year-old foster mother Emma Monsaert recalls others in town asking her if she was really going to take in a Black youth in the 1960s: “I said, ‘Why not, it is a child after all.’” But at school, Baranyanka found out how others felt about race. One teacher poured salt on his head, he recalled, saying it would make it whiter. When he wanted a part in a school play of the 17th century fairy tale “Puss in Boots,” he was denied a role, with a teacher telling him: “Mr. Baranyanka, in those days there were no Blacks in Europe.” He counts himself lucky to have had a close circle of friends that survives to this day. As a teenager, he often talked to them about the monuments, his African roots and Leopold’s legacy. “They understood, and they were grateful I explained it,” he said. On Tuesday, Congo celebrates 60 years of independence from Belgium. The city of Ghent will remove a statue of Leopold to mark the anniversary and perhaps take a healing step forward. Eunice Yahuma, a local leader of a group called Belgian Youth Against Racism and the youth division of the Christian Democrats, knows about Belgium’s troubled history. “Many people don’t know the story, because it is not being told. Somehow they know, ‘Let’s not discuss this, because it is grim history,’” said Yahuma, who has Congolese roots. “It is only now that we have this debate that people start looking into this.” The spirit of the times is different, she said. 'Black people used to be less vocal. They felt the pain, but they didn’t discuss it. Now, youth is very outspoken and we give our opinion,” Yahuma added. History teachers like 24-year-old Andries Devogel are trying to infuse their lessons with the context of colonialism. “Within the next decade, they will be expecting us to stress the impact of colonialism on current-day society, that colonialism and racism are inextricably linked,” Devogel said. “Is contemporary racism not the consequence of a colonial vision? How can you exploit a people if you are not convinced of their second-class status?” The colonial era brought riches to Belgium, and the city of Halle benefited, building a rail yard that brought jobs. Native son Franz Colruyt started a business that grew into the supermarket giant Colruyt Group with 30,000 employees — one of them Baranyanka's foster father. Halle has escaped the violence seen in other cities from the protests, and officials would rather focus attention on its Gothic church, the Basilica of St. Martin, as well as its famous fields of bluebells and Geuze beer. Baranyanka, who will soon stage a musical show of his life called “De Zwette,“ — ”The Black One,” returned recently to the park and the monuments. Despite the hostility and humiliation he felt as a youngster, he didn’t consider their destruction as the way to go. “Vandalism produces nothing, perhaps only the opposite effect. And you see that suddenly such racism surges again,” he said. “It breeds polarization again. This thing of ‘us against them.’” Devogel, the teacher, says it is the task of education “to let kids get in touch with history.” 'Otherwise, it will remain a copper bust without meaning,” he said of the Leopold II monument. “And you will never realize why, for all these people, it is so deeply insulting.”
  • A Toronto police officer has been found guilty of assault in the beating of a young Black man who lost an eye when he was arrested in 2016. Prosecutors alleged Constable Michael Theriault, who was off duty at the time, and his brother Christian chased Dafonte Miller in the early hours of the morning, cornering the then 19-year-old between two homes in Whitby, Ontario, and beating him so badly with a pipe that his left eye burst. The Theriaults pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault and obstruction of justice in relation to the Dec. 28, 2016, incident and its aftermath. The judge convicted the officer and acquitted his brother. Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca delivered his verdict Friday. Michael Theriault will be sentenced at a later date and faces up to five years in jail. Miller thanked the community for support. “Now an officer has been held an accountable to some extent,” he said. “There's a lot of people in my position who don't get the same backing that I got.” Miller's lawyer, Julian Falconer, said Miller seemed to be as much on trial as the brothers. Falconer said it all started as a case with multiple charges including use of a weapon, drug possession and other charges against Miller. He said his client didn't deserve to have a steel pipe used against him or to lose his eye. “How did it happen that a person who suffers catastrophic injuries — his left eyeball on the hood of a car, parts of his eye actually leaking on to the hood of car — at the hands of two people who had no visible injuries whatsoever could up the subject of multiple criminal counts without any members of the Durham service questioning it?” Falconer said. Falconer called it a cover-up because the Durham police and Toronto police didn't contact internal affairs. He urged a federal inquiry into police beatings of Black and Indigenous Canadians. “This is not an isolated incident. This is not about one bad apple. This is happening across North America,” Falconer said. “It is a systemic chronic problem.” Defense lawyers argued the brothers caught Miller and his friends breaking into a vehicle and acted out of self-defense, alleging Miller was the one wielding a pipe. In reading his decision, Di Luca said he was mindful of the social context surrounding the case. The case, and others like it, “raise significant issues involving race and policing that should be further examined,” he said. But the judge said his task was not to conduct a public inquiry on race and policing or to deliver the verdict sought by the public, it was to determine the case based on the evidence. Miller, now 22, testified last fall and denied stealing from cars that night. He told the court he was out walking with two friends when the Theriaults started questioning them about why they were in the area. He said the brothers began chasing him when he and his friends walked away. Miller said he didn’t have a chance to fight back, and only recalled seeing Michael Theriault with the pipe. The case has spurred protests by members of Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism activists. 'As chief, I can’t deny that this matter will have an increase strain between police and the community, especially the Black community,” Toronto Police Chief Marc Saunders said. “Dafonte Miller received a life-altering injury. He lost his eye.” Saunders said he could not comment on whether the officer will keep his job as internal investigations will continue after the appeal process. Theriault has been on paid suspension.
  • SpaceX was planning to send another round of Starlink satellites to space from Cape Canaveral on Friday, but announced at 2 p.m. that the launch will be rescheduled. The launch was slated for 4:18 p.m. SpaceX has not announced a new launch date yet, but when the mission does launch it will take with it the third batch of Starlink satellites launched this month. The rocket will also carry two Earth observation microsatellites for Blacksky Global. “They get a cheap ride – much cheaper than buying the whole rocket,” said Dr. Ken Kremer with Space UpClose. “So that’s the advantage to these small companies as long as the rocket is going where they want their satellite to go.” The launch is part of a larger mission by SpaceX to provide high-speed internet access around the word. Once the SpaceX satellites launch, it will bring the total number in space to around 600. You'‘ll be able to watch the launch LIVE on WFTV here.
  • The U.S. Postal Service's famous motto — 'Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers” — is being tested like never before, by challenges that go well beyond the weather. The coronavirus has devastated its finances. The Trump administration may attach big strings to bailouts. The agency’s responsibilities, meanwhile, are mounting. A dramatic shift in many states to voting by mail is intended to protect voters from spreading the virus at polling places. But it’s also making more work for post offices and contributing to delays in determining election winners. Election results have been delayed this week in Kentucky and New York because both states were overwhelmed by huge increases in mail ballots. “What we don’t need is more chaos in the chaos,” said Wendy Fields, executive director of the voting rights advocacy group The Democracy Initiative. President Donald Trump opposes expanding voting by mail, asserting it will trigger fraud, even though there's no evidence that will happen. Trump and many of his administration's leading voices frequently vote absentee themselves. The president has also called the Postal Service “a joke” and says package shipping rates should be at least four times higher for heavy users such as Amazon. But shipping packages is a main revenue generator, and critics say Trump is merely looking to punish Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in retaliation for unflattering coverage in The Washington Post, which the billionaire owns. Trump has acknowledged larger political calculations are at work, tweeting that expanding vote by mail will “LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY.” His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has suggested that Trump's opposition to absentee voting and criticism of the Postal Service may help the incumbent “steal” the election. Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents 200,000-plus employees, said the administration is “shamefully trying to use the crisis to carry out an agenda' of privatization, which would ultimately 'break up the Postal Service and sell it.” Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat, said “our democracy depends on a reliable post office.” “Midelection year is not the time to see changes in the dependability of the Postal Service, especially during a year when our country is experiencing a pandemic and health crisis, which will dramatically increase the necessity of voting by mail,' he said. The Postal Service predates the United States. It was created by the Second Continental Congress in July 1775, and Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general. Unlike its private competitors, the Postal Service cannot refuse to make costly deliveries to especially hard-to-reach addresses. Still, much of its budgetary concerns stem from a 2006 law requiring the agency to fully fund retiree health benefits for the next 75 years. It normally operates without taxpayer funds. During the pandemic, however, it lost $4.5 billion in the 2020 budget year's second quarter. Congress approved a $10 billion line of credit for the agency as part of an economic rescue package in March. Since then, though, the Postal Service and the Treasury Department have had discussions about requirements to extend those loans. Neither side will say publicly what's being negotiated, but Trump has made his feelings clear. A 2018 Treasury task force also recommended the Postal Service increase package rates and cut labor costs. A second coronavirus aid package passed in May by the Democratic-controlled House includes $25 billion in direct aid for the Postal Service, but the GOP-majority Senate hasn't approved its own version. More than 3,420 of the Postal Service's 630,00-plus employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and some have died. While package deliveries have increased as Americans stay home, mail volumes plummeted — as much as 30%, according to the American Postal Workers Union. In April, then-Postmaster General Megan Brennan said the agency could be out of money by Sept. 30. Louis DeJoy, a North Carolina businessman and GOP fundraiser who's donated to Trump, recently succeeded Brennan. Postal Service spokesperson David Partenheimer said more recent trends “indicate that our 2020 financial performance will be better than our early scenarios predicted,' though he said much remains uncertain. 'Our current financial condition is not going to impact our ability to deliver election and political mail this year,” Partenheimer said. But Condos, who was president of the National Association of Secretaries of State from July 2018 to July 2019, fears keeping such a promise could force the Postal Service to cut back on routine services, which may see voting materials prioritized over regular mail. The pressure is also on because absentee ballots for overseas military members are sent 45 days before Election Day — or Sept. 18, which is less than three months away. “This whole idea that we have until November to decide, we really don’t,” Condos said. The Postal Service consistently ranks as the nation's favorite federal agency. Pew Research Center polling in March found that 91% of Americans said they had a favorable view of it. Congressional Democrats are clamoring to “save the post office,” and Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., are among those proposing boosting Postal Service profits by having it expand into banking services, which it provided for decades until the 1960s. Rural Republicans such as Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, have also called for defending the agency. Still, some conservatives say tying its funding to Election Day jitters is a partisan ploy. “It’s just casting seeds of doubt on the legitimacy of the outcome,” said Republican Tom Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor who heads VoteSafe, a bipartisan group working with state and local officials to expand and strengthen vote-by-mail options. 'It’s very sad, it’s very disappointing, it’s very troubling.” ___ Associated Press writer Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report. ___ This story has been corrected to show Condos is a past president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, not the current one, and that Alaska Rep. Young's first name is Don, not Dan.
  • Jason Ward fell in love with birds at age 14 when he spotted a peregrine falcon outside the homeless shelter where he was staying with his family. The now 33-year-old Atlanta bird lover parlayed that passion into a YouTube series last year. One of the guests on his first episode of “Birds of North America” was Christian Cooper, a Black bird watcher who was targeted in New York City’s Central Park by a white woman after he told her to leash her dog. A video capturing the encounter showed the woman, Amy Cooper (no relation), retaliate by calling the police and clearly referencing his race to raise the threat level. Ward, who is Black, said the video, even now, is “jarring” to watch. Butting heads with dog owners is common among birders but he'd never seen it take such a turn. “Especially knowing Christian and how confident he is, hearing his nervousness and trembling, it shed light on how dangerous that situation could have been,” Ward said. It didn't culminate in any arrests, and Amy Cooper later issued an apology. But it has brought attention to how the great outdoors can be far from great for Black people. Worries about discrimination, racial profiling and even subtle aggression keep some away. Furthermore, those fears can perpetuate the stereotype that hiking, camping and bird watching are “white” activities. Christian Cooper's encounter, which happened on May 25, the same day as George Floyd's death at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer, has been cited in nationwide protests against systemic racism and white privilege. For Black people, the incident was not surprising, said Carolyn Finney, author of “Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors.' “Systemic racism doesn’t stop at the park gates,” Finney said. “I’ve backpacked all over the world. ... There are places in this country I would never go on my own. It is my loss. I just don’t trust the public.” Birding can take participants to parks, woods and suburban streets. Depending on the setting, Ward said he adjusts his demeanor so he doesn't seem threatening. He makes sure his face isn't covered even if it's cold. He always has his binoculars in plain sight rather than pulling them out of his bag. “Just simple stuff like that I have to pay attention to that other people might say, 'What? Come on dude! They're just binoculars,'' Ward said. “If someone easily recognizes them as binoculars, it's still a case in which I have to prove that I'm actually looking for birds occasionally.” Mike Parr, president of the American Bird Conservancy, is white but his three sons are half-Black. His youngest, who is 12, has gotten into birding. Cooper's experience is now in the back of his mind. 'We personally haven’t come across anything like that, but as a parent, I am concerned about things that could happen to him. Birding isn’t all that well understood by people,' Parr said. Keith Russell, 63, an urban conservation program manager for the National Audubon Society's Philadelphia-based chapter, said as a Black person, he has his guard up if he's searching for birds with binoculars near homes. But he's never felt unsafe among fellow birders and hopes Cooper's close call doesn't scare off others. “I think it’s very very important to be clear for anyone who might not understand this and take a superficial view of this. ... It’s not dangerous to be a birder if you’re a person of color,' Russell said. But, he added: “There have been historical problems with access.” He thinks for some Black families, past discrimination and segregation at parks and other recreation sites may have set them on a path away from nature. That lack of connection to the outdoors then continues with the next generation. “It can take a while to make that internal culture go away. I think it’s definitely starting to,” Russell said. The misconception that most Black people aren't outdoorsy may get bolstered by history books. Finney, the author, said too often the history of U.S. conservation centers on white figures like naturalist John Muir. Meanwhile, less attention is paid to the hundreds of Black soldiers who protected national parks after the Civil War. The same goes for Hispanic communities. Many are unaware that Hispanics have connections with public lands going back generations, said Liz Archuleta, a county board supervisor in Flagstaff, Arizona, and co-founder of Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting and the Outdoors. “My mother tells stories about how at least twice a month on a Saturday, the entire Hispanic pioneer community of Flagstaff used to get together and go through the forest and have picnics,” Archuleta said. “It's foreign to me when people say we have to get Hispanics to enjoy the outdoors more.” The shift in support toward Black Lives Matter after Floyd's death has every corporation and nonprofit re-evaluating how they can elevate Black and brown voices. In the bird-watching world, there's already been an effort in recent years to do that. The National Audubon Society, which was established in 1905 to preserve birds and their habitat, has 1.8 million members. Approximately 198,000 identify as people of color.; only 45,000 identify as Black or African American. “Obviously, that’s not reflective of where the U.S. population is,” said Rebeccah Sanders, senior vice president of the organization's state programs. The group is trying to recruit more minorities. Staff training now includes ways to intervene if someone is mistreated because of race or another trait. In the last year, they have set up chapters at dozens of colleges, including historically Black ones. They also filled almost half of nearly 100 internships and fellowships with people of diverse backgrounds. “As our staff and our membership base become more representative, it changes who you are,” Sanders said. “Those perspectives make us ask different questions and change some of our decisions.” Environmental organizations are making universal statements that the outdoors belong to everyone but, Finney said, they have to address that it's simply not the same for Black communities. “The National Park Service and others want to engage diverse communities and often are bringing kids in,' Finney said. “How is some Black teenager going to feel about their ability to feel safe and welcome?” Since Christian Cooper's video, several Black professionals have reached out to Ward via social media to inquire about birding. “‘We're definitely getting feedback from a lot of people who are saying 'You know what? I definitely want to get a pair of binoculars now,'” Ward said. ''I thought this was boring and for people who didn't look like me.'' ___ Tang reported from Phoenix and is a member of The Associated Press Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ttangAP
  • Canada has approved the NHL’s return-to-play proposal that could lead to one or more cities north of the border serving as host sites for the league's 24-team playoff format. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced Friday that the nation’s top public health officer, and health officials in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario had signed off on the NHL plan. The decision followed discussions with government health officials, and comes as the league enters the advanced stages of selecting its hub cities — most likely two — from a list of seven in the U.S. and three in Canada, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email to The Associated Press. Daly didn’t rule out the possibility of two hubs being located in Canada from among Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton. The NHL, however, did encounter a setback in its bid to resume playing since the season was paused on March 12. The Tampa Bay Lightning closed their facilities indefinitely Thursday after three players and “additional staff members” tested positive for COVID-19. The team said the players were largely asymptomatic and were self-isolating. The move came as baseball's Philadelphia Phillies announced that some of their players and staff had tested positive in nearby Clearwater, Florida, and the Toronto Blue Jays had one player show symptoms consistent with the coronavirus in nearby Dunedin, Florida. The NHL announced late Friday that 11 of the 200 players tested since training facilities were allowed to open on June 8 have tested positive. They are self isolating. The league declined to say who. Two weeks ago, NHL players were allowed to return to their respective facilities for voluntary on- and off-ice workouts. Players were allowed to skate in groups of up to six a time. The NHL’s return-to-play plan approved by Canada required an exemption allowing players and team officials to cross the border. The border is currently closed to non-essential travel until at least July 21, and those entering Canada must self-isolate for 14 days. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said robust protocols such as group quarantining and testing will be in place. The decision on selecting hub cities — each would host 12 teams — could come as early as next week. “I want to emphasize that it will be very important for the NHL and the players to continue to work very closely with public health officers and to follow their instructions,' Freeland said. “This is essential not only for the players, which I know we all have affection for, but for the health and safety of Canadians.” The NHL is targeting July 10 to open training camps, with games being played without fans present starting in late July or early August. Though Las Vegas and Columbus, Ohio, are considered strong candidates to serve as hub cities, the focus on Canada comes at a time the United States is experiencing a spike in positive tests. Playing games in Canada could also be cost-effective, with the Canadian dollar worth about 73 cents versus its U.S. counterpart. Daly said it wasn't of “significant consideration” as to whether the hubs are located in separate or the same time zones. Toronto Mayor John Tory supported his city being selected, noting he considers it to be the “hockey capital of the world.” “It will be a morale boost for us,” Tory said. “It will be great for the psychology of the city.” ___ Gillies reported from Toronto, Wawrow from Buffalo, New York. AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno also contributed to this report. ___ For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

News

  • Two suburban Denver officers were fired Friday after they took a photograph showing a chokehold in front of the memorial for Elijah McClain, who died after a confrontation with officers from the Aurora Police Department, officials said. McClain, 23, was pronounced dead on Aug. 27, 2019 -- a few days after he went into cardiac arrest following a struggle with officers from the Aurora Police Department, KUSA reported. The third officer involved resigned on Thursday, the television station reported. Police said photos they were investigating showed officers reenacting a chokehold used on McClain before he died, The Associated Press reported. “I speak for all men and women of APD we are ashamed and sickened over what we have to share with you,” Interim APD Chief Vanessa Wilson said at a news conference. According to documents released by the Aurora Police Department (APD) on Friday, the photos were texted to Officer Jason Rosenblatt, who responded with “HaHa.” Rosenblatt is one of the three officers who responded the night of McClain’s death, and Williams said he has also been fired.  The officers depicted in the photos were identified by APD as Erica Marrero, Kyle Dittrich and Jaron Jones, who resigned from the department on Thursday. Check back for more on this developing story.
  • A recently released study by the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan suggests that the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine helps lower the death rate in hospitalized coronavirus patients. An analysis of 2,541 patients hospitalized with coronavirus between March 10 and May 2, 2020, found that 13% of those treated with hydroxychloroquine died as compared to 26% who died that did not receive the drug, according to The Detroit News. The mortality rate for hospitalized patients ranges from 10% to 30% globally, while the overall in-hospital mortality for the study was 18.1%. The study, which was conducted at six hospitals within The Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan, was published Thursday in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. “The findings have been highly analyzed and peer-reviewed,” said Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of Infectious Disease for Henry Ford Health System, who co-authored the study with Henry Ford epidemiologist Dr. Samia Arshad. “We attribute our findings that differ from other studies to early treatment, and part of a combination of interventions that were done in supportive care of patients, including careful cardiac monitoring. Our dosing also differed from other studies not showing a benefit of the drug. And other studies are either not peer reviewed, have limited numbers of patients, different patient populations or other differences from our patients. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration said the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are unlikely to be effective in treating the coronavirus. Citing reports of heart complications, the FDA said the drugs’ unproven benefits “do not outweigh the known and potential risks.” In a separate announcement, the FDA also warned doctors against prescribing the drugs in combination with remdesivir, the lone drug currently shown to help patients with COVID-19. The FDA said the anti-malaria drugs can reduce the effectiveness of remdesivir, which FDA cleared for emergency use in May. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are frequently prescribed for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and can cause heart rhythm problems, severely low blood pressure and muscle or nerve damage. The agency reported in June that it had received nearly 390 reports of complications with the drugs, including more than 100 involving serious heart problems. Read more about the study here and here. https://www.henryford.com/news/2020/07/hydro-treatment-study https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(20)30534-8/fulltext The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • There are new rules in place for the holiday weekend if you plan to rent an Airbnb. The company says guests under 25 years old with fewer than three positive reviews will not be able to book an entire home close to where they live Airbnb didn’t reveal how it defines what is “close.” Airbnb said it wants to weed out any potential problems, specifically unauthorized house parties and feels this is the best way to do so. The company says it’s a nationwide policy, but it is most relevant for a handful of cities. The company says its technologies would block that guest from booking. “No one policy is going to stop all unauthorized parties. We’re also conscious that just because you’re 25 or older doesn’t mean that every single person in that group is booking for the right reasons too,” spokesperson Ben Breit told WSB-TV. Guests under 25 with at least three positive Airbnb reviews and no negative reviews won’t be subject to the restrictions. Airbnb began stepping up efforts to ban “party houses” last November after five people were shot and killed during an unauthorized party at an Airbnb rental in Orinda, California. At the time, Airbnb set up a rapid response team to deal with complaints from neighbors and started screening “high risk” bookings, such as reservations at a large home for one night. In a message to hosts, the company said reducing unauthorized parties is even more of a priority right now as states try to avoid coronavirus outbreaks. “With public health mandates in place throughout the country, we’re taking actions to support safe and responsible travel in the United States,” the company said. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • Jillian Wuestenberg, 32, and Eric Wuestenberg, 42, were charged Thursday with felonious assault after pulling a gun out on a Black mother and her children when a confrontation escalated outside a Chipotle in Michigan. Each of them had a loaded firearm and concealed pistol licenses. Deputies seized the two handguns, Sheriff Mike Bouchard said. On Thursday, the couple was arraigned and were given a $50,000 personal bond.  “As part of the bond conditions, they must turn over all firearms, not engage in any assaultive behavior, and may not leave the state,” sheriff’s officials told The Detroit News. The Detroit News first reported on the three-minute video posted online that shows part of the interaction. Takelia Hill, who is Black, told the newspaper that it happened after the white woman bumped into Hill’s teenage daughter as they were entering the fast food restaurant. The video footage [WARNING: Contains graphic language] starts after that, in the parking lot. A woman since identified as Jillian Wuestenberg is heard arguing with Hill and her daughters. Wuestenberg climbs into the vehicle, rolls down the window and says, “White people aren’t racist,” and, “I care about you,” before the vehicle she was in starts to back away. Her husband, who had led his wife to the vehicle, turns to the camera and asks, “Who ... do you think you guys are?,” using an expletive. Then, as someone is standing behind the vehicle, Jillian Wuestenberg jumps out and points a handgun in the direction of a person who’s recording. She screams at people to get away from her and her vehicle. A woman shouts, “She’s got a gun on me!” and urges someone in the parking lot to call the police. Wuestenberg then lowers the gun, climbs into the passenger seat and the vehicle drives off. Cooper, the prosecutor, told The Associated Press that her office viewed the available video and looked at the facts before filing charges. “It is an unfortunate set of circumstances that tempers run high over, basically, not much of an incident,” she said of the initial alleged spark that caused the confrontation. Bouchard said people are “picking sides” and that threatening calls were made to the sheriff’s office dispatch center after the videos were posted online. “We don’t see sides. We see facts,” he said. “There’s a lot of tension in our society, a lot of tension among folks and people with each other. I would just say this, we are asking and expect our police — and rightfully so — to deescalate every situation they possibly can, and we should be doing that. But I would say that needs to happen with us individually in our own lives and situations, that we interact with each other and deescalate those moments.” The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • The United States Geological Survey reported that a 4.9 magnitude earthquake struck this morning near Puerto Rico around 9:55 a.m. EDT. The quake was felt across the U.S. territory and is the latest in a series of tremors that began in late December and have damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes. Ángel Vázquez, who oversees the emergency management agency in Ponce, said a house collapsed in the town of Lajas. The house was empty and slated for demolition, according to Kiara Hernández, spokeswoman for Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Security. Víctor Huérfano, director of Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, told The Associated Press that the tremor is an aftershock related to the 6.4-magnitude quake that struck in early January, killing at least one person and causing millions of dollars in damage. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • With The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race postponed this year, the Atlanta Police Department warned people against running or walking the course on the Fourth of July. APD noted in a tweet Friday that the course will not be closed to car traffic on Independence Day. With hashtags including #MyPersonalPeachtree and #APDCares, the police department said in the tweet that people should avoid running or walking the course on Saturday for safety reasons. >>Read MORE on AJC.com. [Summary]