Mexico City chief attacked
MEXICO CITY — A high-sided construction truck and a white SUV pulled into the path of Mexico City’s police chief just as dawn was breaking Friday on the capital’s most iconic boulevard and assailants opened fire with .50-caliber sniper rifles and grenades on his armored vehicle. The cinematic ambush involving at least a dozen gunmen left chief Omar Garcia Harfuch wounded with three bullet impacts and shrapnel. Two members of his security detail were killed, as was a woman who happened to be driving by. The high-powered armament and brazenness of the attack suggested the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and hours after the attack, Garcia blamed them via Twitter from the hospital. Jalisco is the same gang that U.S. prosecutors said tried to buy belt-fed M-60 machine guns in the United States and that once brought down a Mexican military helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade. In October, cartel gunmen ambushed and killed 14 state police officers in Michoacan. But such a high-profile attack in Mexico’s capital is a blow to a federal government struggling to respond to record levels of violence across the country. The gang has established a nearly national presence, from the white-sand beaches of Cancun to Mexico City and the country’s most important ports, as well as key border cities traditionally controlled by other cartels. Friday’s attack came two weeks after rumors swirled for a day that Jalisco’s leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, better known as “El Mencho,” had been captured or killed — though officials later denied that. Oseguera is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted fugitive, with a $10 million price on his head. In March, U.S. authorities arrested hundreds of Jalisco operatives in raids across the country. They said the gang controls between one-third and two-thirds of the U.S. drug market.
American to book full flights
DALLAS — American Airlines will start booking flights to full capacity next week, ending any effort to promote social distancing on its planes while the United States sets records for new reported cases of the coronavirus. American’s move matches the policy of United Airlines but contrasts sharply with rivals that limit bookings to create space between passengers to minimize the risk of contagion. The pilots’ union at American said it hopes that the airline reconsiders and instead decides to add more flights using idle planes and crews. American said Friday that it will continue to notify customers if their flight is likely to be full, and let them change flights at no extra cost. The airline said it will also let passengers change seats on the plane if there is room and if they stay in the same cabin. Since April, American has limited bookings to about 85% of a plane’s capacity by leaving about half the middle seats open. However, the airline will start selling every seat it can beginning next Wednesday. Delta says it is capping seats at about 60% of capacity and Southwest at about 67%, both through Sept. 30. JetBlue says it will leave middle seats empty through July 31 unless the person is traveling with a passenger in an adjoining seat.
States retreat as virus cases rise
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas and Florida reversed course and clamped down on bars again Friday in the nation’s biggest retreat yet as the number of confirmed coronavirus infections per day in the U.S. surged to an all-time high of 40,000. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all bars closed, while Florida banned alcohol at all such establishments. The two states joined the small but growing list of those that are either backtracking or putting any further reopenings of their economies on hold because of a comeback by the virus, mostly in the South and West. Health experts have said a disturbingly large number of cases are being seen among young people who are going out again, often without wearing masks or observing other social-distancing rules. Texas reported more than 17,000 new cases in the past three days, with a record high of nearly 6,000 on Thursday. In Florida, under GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, the agency that regulates bars acted after the daily number of new cases neared 9,000, almost doubling the record set just two days earlier. Colleen Corbett, a bartender at two places in Tampa, said that she was disappointed and worried about being unemployed again but that the restrictions are the right move. “It was like they forgot there was a pandemic or just stopped caring.”
Consumer spending up 8.2%
WASHINGTON — American consumers increased their spending by a record 8.2% in May, partly erasing huge plunges the previous two months, against the backdrop of an economy that’s likely shrinking by its steepest pace on record this quarter. Last month’s rebound in consumer spending followed record spending drops of 6.6% in March and 12.6% in April, when the viral pandemic shuttered businesses, forced millions of layoffs and sent the economy into a recession. Since then, many businesses have reopened, drawing consumers back into shops and restaurants and restoring some lost jobs. Friday’s Commerce Department report showed that Americans stepped up their spending in May despite a 4.2% decline in personal income, which had soared by 10.8% the previous month. Income had jumped in April on the strength of billions of dollars in support through government payments in the form of unemployment aid as well as one-time $1,200 stimulus checks. In May, those stimulus checks were no longer counted as income for most people.
Mirror is newest space junk
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A spacewalking astronaut added to the millions of pieces of junk orbiting the Earth on Friday, losing a small mirror on his sleeve as soon as he emerged from the International Space Station for battery work. Commander Chris Cassidy said the mirror quickly floated away. The lost item posed no risk to either the spacewalk or the station, according to NASA. While millions of pieces of space debris orbit Earth, more than 20,000 items including old rocket parts and busted satellites are big enough to be tracked in order to safeguard the space station and working satellites. Spacewalking astronauts wear a wrist mirror on each sleeve to get better views while working. The mirror is just 5-by-3 inches and together with its band has a mass of barely one-tenth of a pound. The mirror came loose in darkness. Cassidy inspected his spacesuit sleeve later in sunlight but didn’t see any clues that might explain how the mirror came off. The rest of the six-hour spacewalk went swimmingly. Cassidy and Bob Behnken hustled through the first of four planned spacewalks to replace the last bunch of old station batteries. They removed five old batteries and installed two new ones — which checked out fine — getting a jump on their next spacewalk on Wednesday. They have four more to plug in before the job is complete. Once all the new batteries are installed in the coming weeks, the orbiting lab should be good for the rest of its life, according to NASA. The big, boxy batteries — more powerful and efficient than the old nickel-hydrogen batteries coming out — keep the station humming when it’s on the night side of Earth.
Tip leads to caged toddler
PARIS, Tenn. — Three people are facing a multitude of charges after police found a caged toddler in a filthy Tennessee mobile home that also contained dogs, rodents and snakes. Authorities went to the home Thursday after receiving an anonymous tip about possible animal cruelty, Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew. They found not only the child and animals, but guns and drugs, Belew told news outlets. The 18-month-old boy was found in a 4-by-4 dog kennel in the living room, which also had eight snakes, including a 10-foot boa constrictor, and buckets filled with hundreds of mice, Belew said. The home had 15 to 20 dogs running loose inside, feces on the floor and thousands of cockroaches and maggots, he said. Outside the home, the sheriff said officials seized dozens of animals on the property including 86 chickens and roosters, 56 dogs, 10 rabbits, four parakeets and three cats. The also found 127 marijuana plants and 17 guns, Belew said Heather Scarbrough, 42, T.J. Brown, 46, and Charles Brown, 82, have been charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated cruelty to animals and manufacturing marijuana and other counts.
Stabbings not seen as terrorism
LONDON — A male suspect stabbed and wounded a police officer before he was shot dead in Glasgow on Friday. Authorities are not treating the incident that left five other men wounded as terrorism, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. The suspect died at a Glasgow hotel that appeared to be largely housing asylum-seekers and refugees. The 42-year-old police officer stabbed during the incident at the Park Inn Hotel on Friday was in a critical but stable condition. Five men between the ages of 17 and 53 also were hospitalized. Sturgeon said, “It’s been a dreadful afternoon for the city of Glasgow.” Steve Johnson, assistant chief constable at Police Scotland, said officers were on the scene within two minutes of reports of an incident at 12:50 p.m., and that armed police arrived shortly afterwards. “The incident was quickly contained,” he said.
Tanker decaying off Yemen coast
CAIRO — The United Nations said an abandoned oil tanker moored off the coast of Yemen loaded with more than 1 million barrels of crude oil is at risk of rupture or exploding, causing massive environmental damage to Red Sea marine life, desalination factories and international shipping routes. Meanwhile, Houthi rebels who control the area where the ship is moored have denied U.N. inspectors access to the vessel. Internal documents obtained by The Associated Press shows that seawater has entered the engine compartment of the tanker, which hasn’t been maintained for over five years, causing damage to the pipelines and increasing the risk of sinking. Rust has covered parts of the tanker and the inert gas that prevents the tanks from gathering inflammable gases, has leaked out. Experts say maintenance is no longer possible because the damage to the ship is irreversible. For years, the U.N. has been trying to send inspectors to assess the damage aboard the vessel known as the FSO Safer and look for ways to secure the tanker by unloading the oil and pulling the ship to safety. But one European diplomat, a Yemeni government official and the tanker’s company owner said that Houthi rebels have resisted. The diplomat said the rebels are treating the vessel as a “deterrent like having a nuclear weapon.” All three individuals spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the subject with a reporter. Money is also an issue, the diplomat said, adding that the Houthis initially were demanding millions of dollars in return for the oil stored in the tanker. The U.N. is trying to reach an arrangement where money could be used to pay workers and employees at Yemen’s Red Sea ports, the diplomat added. Some experts, however, criticize both the Houthis and the U.N. for failing to fully understand the magnitude of the crisis with the abandoned ship. Ian Ralby, founder of I.R. Consilium, who specializes in maritime and resource security, said U.N.’s efforts to send a team to assess the ship is “futile.” What the vessel needs is a salvage team, he said.
Yeezy brand coming to Gap
NEW YORK — Kanye West is bringing his Yeezy brand to Gap. The rap superstar will design adult and kids’ clothing that will be sold at Gap’s stores next year. Yeezy is best known for pricey sneakers that sell out online quickly. But Yeezy footwear, made with sneaker company Adidas, won’t be sold at Gap stores. San Francisco-based Gap Inc., whose sales are dwindling, hopes the deal will keep it relevant with shoppers. For Yeezy, being in more than 1,100 stores worldwide could get the brand in front of more people. On Friday, West tweeted a photo of what the collaboration might look like: bright colored hoodies, jackets and T-shirts. Shares of the retailer soared nearly 30%. West has a history with Gap. He worked at one of its stores in Chicago as a teenager and always wanted to be creative director of the brand.
Tensions rise at virus hotspot
MONDRAGONE, Italy — The governor of a southern Italian region insisted on Friday that Bulgarian farm workers who live in an apartment complex with dozens of COVID-19 cases must stay inside for 15 days, not even emerging for food. Wearing a mask to discourage virus spread, Campania Gov. Vincenzo De Luca told reporters that the national civil protection agency should deliver groceries to the estimated 700 occupants of the apartments in Mondragone, a seaside town about 50 kilometers (32 miles) northwest of Naples. The complex must be kept in “rigorous isolation,” De Luca said. That means that for 15 days, “nobody leaves and nobody enters” the apartments, where some 50 cases have been confirmed. The south has been spared the high numbers of coronavirus cases that have ravaged northern Italy. Known for his particularly hard line on anti-contagion measures throughout the nationwide coronavirus outbreak this year, De Luca has vowed to lock down all of Mondragone, population 30,000, if the number of cases at the hotspot reach 100. “Have I been clear? I’m used to speaking clearly,” De Luca told RAI state TV.
10 years on child sex charges
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A Lebanese American businessman who was a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and who helped broker the release of American hostages was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison sentence on child sex charges. George Nader pleaded guilty in January to bringing a 14-year-old boy from the Czech Republic to the U.S. 20 years ago to engage in sexual activity. He also acknowledged possessing child pornography. Nader’s name appears more than 100 times in the Mueller report. It details Nader’s efforts to serve as liaison between Russians and members of President Donald Trump’s transition team.
Lighter fluid victim speaks
MADISON, Wis. — A biracial Wisconsin woman who says a group of white men set her on fire while she was driving wants her attackers to know they hurt her but hopes they will improve themselves. Althea Bernstein told ABC’s “Good Morning America” for a Friday segment that she hasn’t slept and doesn’t have an appetite. But she called the attack in the state’s capital city of Madison a “learning opportunity” for her attackers. “I’m very, very hopeful that these men sort of see all the response and that they know that they hurt me and this something that’s going to affect me for a while,” she said. “And I really hope that they choose to improve themselves.” According to a police report, Bernstein, an 18-year-old studying to become an paramedic, was attacked while driving in downtown Madison early Wednesday morning. A crowd of 200 to 300 protesters had pulled down two statues outside the state Capitol building and attacked state Sen. Tim Carpenter on the Capitol lawn. Someone also threw a fire bomb into a city-county building, starting a fire. Bernstein told the news website Madison365.com that she didn’t participate in the protests and was driving to her brother’s home. She said she had her window down while stopped at a red light and heard someone shout a racial slur at her. She said four white men appeared — two dressed in black and two in Hawaiian shirts — and sprayed her with lighter fluid. One allegedly tossed a flaming lighter at her, setting her neck and face on fire. She said she “blasted” through the red light, patted the fire out and continued on to her brother’s. She later visited an emergency room, where she said health care workers had to scrub her skin off. She said she will eventually need plastic surgery.