Italy returns stolen Banksy
ROME — Italy on Tuesday returned to France a stolen artwork by British artist Banksy that was painted as a tribute to the victims of the 2015 Paris attacks at the Bataclan music hall. The chief prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Michele Renzo, told the French ambassador that it was significant that the handover was occurring on Bastille Day, given the need to continue fighting for all freedoms. “This door brings our minds back to the memory of the tragic and distressing event, and tells us that for liberty, for our individual liberties, we will always have to fight,” Renzo said at a ceremony in the French Embassy, where the artwork was being displayed for the holiday. French officials last year had announced the theft of the piece, a black image appearing to depict a person mourning that was painted on one of the Bataclan’s emergency exit doors. Ninety people were killed at the Bataclan on Nov. 13, 2015, when Islamic extremists invaded the music hall, one of several targets that night in which a total of 130 people died. Italian authorities had announced last month that they had discovered the painted door in an attic in a country home in Abruzzo.
Florida tops virus death mark
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida — Florida surpassed its daily record for coronavirus deaths Tuesday and Britain and France announced a requirement for people to wear masks in public indoor spaces, amid rising global worries about a resurgence of the pandemic. Florida reported 132 additional deaths, topping the previous record for the state set just last week. The figure likely includes deaths from the past weekend that had not been previously reported. The new deaths raised the state’s seven-day average to 81 per day, more than double the figure of two weeks ago and now the second-highest in the United States behind Texas. Doctors have predicted a surge in deaths as Florida’s daily reported cases have gone from about 2,000 a day a month ago to a daily average of about 11,000, including a record 15,000 on Sunday. The state recorded 9,194 new cases Tuesday. Marlyn Hoilette, a nurse who spent four months working in the COVID-19 unit of her Florida hospital until testing positive recently, said hospitals are so desperate for staff to return to work they are not following guidelines that call for two negative tests first. “Nurses are getting sick, nursing assistants are getting sick and my biggest fear is that it seems we want to return folks to work even without a negative test,” said Hoilette, who works at Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee. Florida. “It’s just a matter of time before you wipe the other staff out if you’re contagious, so that is a big problem.” Word of the rising toll in Florida came as Arizona tallied 4,273 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Ole Miss removes statue
JACKSON, Miss. — A Confederate monument that’s long been a divisive symbol at the University of Mississippi was removed Tuesday from a prominent spot on the Oxford campus, just two weeks after Mississippi surrendered the last state flag in the U.S. with the Confederate battle emblem. The marble statue of a saluting Confederate soldier will be taken to a Civil War cemetery in a secluded area of campus. Students and faculty have pushed the university for years to move the statue, but they say their work is being undermined by administrators’ plan to beautify the cemetery. A draft plan by the university indicates that the burial ground eventually will feature a lighted pathway to the statue and that headstones might be added to Confederate soldiers’ graves that have been unmarked for decades. “Moving the monument should be a clear stand against racism, not another embarrassing attempt to placate those who wish to maintain the university’s connection to Confederate symbols,” faculty members from the university’s history department wrote in a joint statement last month. University Chancellor Glenn Boyce said the new site is not intended to glorify the soldiers. “It’s not going to create a shrine to the Confederacy,” Boyce told The Associated Press last month at the state Capitol. “People will have to judge that when they see the end product.” The University of Mississippi was founded in 1848, and the statue of the soldier was put up in 1906 — one of many Confederate monuments erected across the South more than a century ago.
First federal execution in 17 years
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The federal government on Tuesday carried out its first execution in almost two decades, killing by lethal injection a man convicted of murdering an Arkansas family in a 1990s plot to build a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest. The execution of Daniel Lewis Lee came over the objection of the victims’ relatives and following days of legal delays, reviving the debate over capital punishment during a time of widespread social unrest. And the Trump administration’s determination to proceed with executions added a new chapter to the national conversation about criminal justice reform in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election. Just before he died at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, Lee, professed his innocence. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’m not a murderer.” said Lee, 47, of Yukon, Oklahoma. “You’re killing an innocent man.” The government is scheduled to execute two more men this week, including Wesley Ira Purkey on Wednesday for the killing of a Kansas City teenager in 1998. But legal experts say the 68-year-old Purkey, who suffers from dementia, has a greater chance of avoiding that fate because of his mental state. The vitims’ relatives noted Lee’s co-defendant and the reputed ringleader, Chevie Kehoe, received a life sentence. Kehoe, of Colville, Washington, recruited Lee in 1995 to join his white supremacist organization, known as the Aryan Peoples’ Republic. Two years later, they were arrested for the killings of gun dealer William Mueller, his wife, Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell, in Tilly, Arkansas, about 75 miles northwest of Little Rock. At a 1999 trial, prosecutors said Kehoe and Lee stole guns and $50,000 in cash from the Muellers as part of their plan to establish a whites-only nation.
Judge rejects Weinstein deal
NEW YORK — A $19 million settlement between Harvey Weinstein and some of his accusers and the state of New York was rejected Tuesday by a judge. U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein in Manhattan said Weinstein’s accusers in the proposed class-action settlement were too varied to be grouped together. Three lawyers for several women who had opposed the deal praised what they described as Hellerstein’s swift rejection of a one-sided proposal. “We have been saying for over a year and a half that the settlement terms and conditions were unfair and should never be imposed on sexual assault survivors,” the lawyers wrote in a statement released by one of the attorneys, Douglas Wigdor. “On behalf of our clients, we look forward to pursuing justice against Harvey Weinstein and his many enablers.” A spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James, who announced the tentative agreement on June 30, said her office was reviewing the decision and determining its next steps. The deal to settle lawsuits brought by the New York attorney general’s office and Elizabeth Fegan, a Chicago lawyer, on behalf of multiple women aimed to provide between $7,500 and $750,000 to some women who accused Weinstein of sexually abusing them.
UK backtracks on Huawei role
LONDON — Britain on Tuesday backtracked on plans to give Chinese telecommunications company Huawei a role in the U.K.’s new high-speed mobile phone network amid security concerns fueled by rising tensions between Beijing and Western powers. Britain said it decided to prohibit Huawei from working on the so-called 5G system after U.S. sanctions made it impossible to ensure the security of equipment made by the Chinese company. The U.S. had also threatened to sever an intelligence-sharing arrangement with Britain because of concerns that Huawei’s involvement could allow the Chinese government to infiltrate U.K. networks. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Parliament the decision would delay the rollout of 5G technology and increase costs by up to 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion), but that it had to be done. “This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one,” he said.
Biden unveils $2T climate plan
WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden released a $2 trillion plan Tuesday aimed at combating climate change and spurring economic growth in part by overhauling America’s energy industry, with a proposal to achieve entirely carbon pollution-free power by 2035. Biden pledges to spend $2 trillion over four years to promote his energy proposals, a significant acceleration of the $1.7 trillion over 10 years he proposed spending in his climate plan during the primary. The proposal doesn’t include specifics on how it would be paid for. Senior campaign officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss strategy said it would require a mix of tax increases on corporations and the wealthy and deficit spending aimed at stimulating the economy. Biden made no mention of banning dirtier-burning coal or prohibiting fracking, a method of extracting oil and gas that triggered a natural gas boom in the United States over the last decade. The issue is politically sensitive in some key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, and Biden limited his opposition to new fracking permits during the primary. Biden’s new plan instead describes easing out burning oil, gas and coal through more efficient vehicles, public transport, buildings and power plants. And instead of a ban on climate-damaging fossil fuels, he talks about carbon capture technologies to catch coal and petroleum pollution from power plant smokestacks. Biden also embraces nuclear power, unlike some of his Democratic primary opponents. He calls for pumping up research on still-developing power technologies like hydrogen power and grid-size storage to stash power from solar and wind, overcoming a key drawback of those carbon-free energy sources now.
Ruptured pipeline in Egypt
CAIRO — A ruptured crude oil pipeline set off a monstrous blaze on a desert highway in Egypt on Tuesday, injuring at least 17 people. For hours firefighters battled to contain the towering pillars of fire, which burned dozens of cars. Video circulating on social media showed clouds of dense, black smoke billowing over the desert road that stretches from the capital, Cairo, to the city of Ismailia, on the Suez Canal. A torrent of crude oil leaked from the broken Shuqair-Mostorod pipeline into the thoroughfare, where a spark from the heavy traffic ignited the fire. Authorities managed to close the main valves and extinguish the fire.
Cuomo takes nursing home heat
NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing blistering criticism over an internal report that found a controversial state directive that sent thousands of recovering coronavirus patients into nursing homes was “not a significant factor” in some of the nation’s deadliest nursing home outbreaks. Scientists, health care professionals and elected officials assailed the report released last week for flawed methodology and selective stats that sidestepped the actual impact of the March 25 order, which by the state’s own count ushered more than 6,300 recovering virus patients into nursing homes at the height of the pandemic. And some accused the state of using the veneer of a scientific study to absolve the Democratic governor by reaching the same conclusion he had been floating for weeks — that unknowingly infected nursing home employees were the major drivers of the outbreaks. “I think they got a lot of political pushback and so their response was, ‘This isn’t a problem. Don’t worry about it,'” said Rupak Shivakoti, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Man killed after mask dispute
GRAND LEDGE, Mich. — A Michigan sheriff’s deputy on Tuesday fatally shot a man suspected of stabbing another man who had challenged him about not wearing a mask at a convenience store. The shooting occurred in Eaton County, southwest of Lansing, about 30 minutes after the stabbing at a Quality Dairy store, state police Lt. Brian Oleksyk said. A sheriff’s deputy spotted the man’s vehicle in a residential neighborhood and shot him when he got out of his car and tried to attack her, Oleksyk said. “Drop the weapon! Drop the weapon!” the officer, a 22-year veteran, demanded, according to surveillance video released by police. The man, Sean Ruis, was holding a screwdriver and knives, Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich said. “It’s very unfortunate she had to use her weapon, but she had to save her life,” Reich said. “She had to use deadly force. She did it properly.” Ruis, 43, of Grand Ledge, who worked at the Michigan Department of Transportation, died at a hospital. He was suspected of stabbing a 77-year-old man inside the store when he was confronted about not wearing a mask, Oleksyk said. The stabbing victim was in stable condition at a hospital. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered people to wear masks in stores to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Actor accused of abusing wife
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — “Empire” actor Bryshere Gray, 26, has been arrested in Arizona on accusations of abusing his wife, police said. The woman had visible injuries when she flagged someone down to ask for help near Gray’s home in the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear, saying her husband had assaulted her, police said. She told emergency responders that Gray had strangled her, and she was taken to a hospital, authorities said. Gray refused to leave his home when police arrived but was arrested after SWAT and crisis negotiators responded, police said. Gray, who played Hakeem Lyon on the Chicago-based TV show, was pulled over in Chicago in 2019 after authorities said a temporary license plate didn’t match the 2014 Rolls Royce he was driving. He was arrested on a misdemeanor registration charge and ticketed.
UK, France extend mask rules
LONDON — Britain and France moved Tuesday to make face coverings compulsory in more places as both countries try to get their economies going while at the same time seeking to prevent further coronavirus outbreaks. Following days of procrastination and mixed messages, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the wearing of face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England from July 24. On the other side of the English Channel, amid signs of a slight virus resurgence in France, President Emmanuel Macron said he also wants to require masks inside all indoor public spaces by Aug. 1.
NJ gambling revenue down 65.6%
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The final month of coronavirus-mandated closures for New Jersey’s casinos and racetracks was predictably bad. Figures released Tuesday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show the nine casinos and two horse tracks that offer sports betting won $97.5 million in June, a decline of 65.6% from a year earlier, and virtually the same percentage decline that they posted in May, when revenue was down 65.4% from a year earlier. With the casinos remaining shut since March 16, June’s winnings came online — nearly $85 million, up from $38 million a year earlier.