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MLK service calls for nonviolence

People visit the eternal flame at the tomb of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, to celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

ATLANTA — Speakers at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration in Atlanta called Monday for a renewed dedication to nonviolence following a turbulent year in which a deadly pandemic, protests over systemic racism and a divisive election capped by an attack on the U.S. Capitol strained Americans’ capacity for civility. “This King holiday has not only come at a time of great peril and physical violence, it has also come during a time of violence in our speech — what we say and how we say it,” said the Rev. Bernice King, the slain civil rights leader’s daughter. “It is frankly out of control and we are causing too much harm to one another.” The coronavirus pandemic forced the annual King Day service at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church online during the 35th celebration of his birthday as a national holiday. His family was among a sparse group wearing masks and sitting far apart amid mostly empty pews as others delivered remarks remotely. Bernice King said the toll of the pandemic, lingering outrage over killings of unarmed Black people and the deadly siege in Washington by supporters of President Donald Trump all underscore an urgent need to pursue what her father called “the beloved community” — a world in which conflict is solved nonviolently and compassion dictates policy. She quoted her father’s words from more than 50 years ago: “There is such a thing as being too late.” “We still have a choice today — nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation,” Bernice King said, again reciting the words of her father. “This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos and community.” U.S. Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock, Ebenezer’s pastor, appealed for unity following his election in a runoff election Jan. 5. “Let us stand together, let us work together,” Warnock said, calling the COVID-19 pandemic a reminder that all people are “tied together, as Dr. King said, in a single garment of destiny. Because we’re dealing with a deadly airborne disease, my neighbor coughs and I’m imperiled by the cough of my neighbor. That doesn’t make my neighbor my enemy. That means that our destiny is tied together.”

Navalny jailed for 30 days

MOSCOW — A Russian judge on Monday ordered opposition leader Alexei Navalny jailed for 30 days, after the leading Kremlin critic returned to Russia from Germany where he was recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he blames on President Vladimir Putin’s government. The ruling followed a hastily set up court hearing at a police precinct where Navalny was being held since his arrest at a Moscow airport on Sunday evening, which sparked sharp reactions both at home and around the world. A crowd of Navalny supporters outside the precinct shouted “Shame!” as the judge announced the ruling and Navalny’s allies immediately called for protests. His arrest had already prompted a wave of criticism from U.S. and European officials, adding to existing tensions between Russia and the West. His top strategist, Leonid Volkov, announced preparations for “large rallies” on Saturday “all across the country.” “Don’t be afraid, take to the streets,” Navalny said in a video statement released after the ruling was announced. “Don’t come out for me, come out for yourselves and your future.” At least 13 protesters were detained Monday outside the police precinct where the court hearing was held, and at least 55 demonstrators were rounded up by police in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, according to activists. The 44-year-old Navalny, Putin’s most well-known critic, campaigned to challenge him in the 2018 presidential election but was barred from running. He has issued scores of damning reports over the years about corruption in Russia under Putin’s regime. After recuperating for months in Berlin after his Aug. 20 poisoning, he returned to Russia on Sunday evening despite the warrant for his arrest.

Revenge of the conquistadores

MEXICO CITY — New research suggests Spanish conquistadores butchered at least a dozen women and their children in an Aztec-allied town where the inhabitants sacrificed and ate a detachment of Spaniards they had captured months earlier. The National Institute of Anthropology and History published findings Monday from years of excavation work at the town of Tecoaque, which means “the place where they ate them” in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. Residents of Tecoaque, also known as Zultepec, captured a convoy of about 15 male Spaniards, 50 women and 10 children, 45 foot soldiers who included Cubans of African and Indigenous descent, and about 350 allies from Indigenous groups in 1520. All were apparently sacrificed over the space of months. When he heard about it, conquistador Hernan Cortes ordered Gonzalo de Sandoval to destroy the town in revenge in early 1521. Archeologist Enrique Martinez Vargas said excavations suggest the inhabitants of Tecoaque knew a reprisal attack was coming and tossed the bones of the Spaniards — some of which had been carved into trophies — and other evidence into shallow wells. The townspeople also tried to erect some primitive defensive works along the main thoroughfare of the town, none of which worked when De Sandoval and his punitive expedition rode in. “Some of the warriors who had stayed in the town managed to flee, but women and children remained, and they were the main victims,” the institute said in a statement. “This we have been able to demonstrate over a 120-meter stretch of the main thoroughfare, where the skeletons of a dozen women were found who appeared to be ‘protecting’ the bones of ten children between the ages of five and six.” “The placement of the burials suggest these people were fleeing, were massacred and buried hurriedly,” the institute said. “Women and children who were sheltering inside rooms were mutilated, as evidenced by the discovery of hacked bones on the floors. The temples were burned and the statues were decapitated.”

Freezing temps cripple Europe

WARSAW, Poland — Extreme cold has hit large parts of Europe, with freezing temperatures cracking railroad tracks in Poland, snow blanketing the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul and smog spiking as more coal was being burned to generate heat. In Switzerland, a skier who had been buried by an avalanche over the weekend died in a hospital of his injuries, authorities said Monday. The country had issued avalanche warnings several days earlier after heavy snowfall. Officials said the skier and his two companions were buried by an avalanche while skiing off marked trails in the Gstaad area on Sunday. One man freed himself from the snow and then extricated one of the others, but the third man could only be found by rescue crews, who arrived later. Temperatures dropped to minus 28 degrees Celsius (minus 18 Fahrenheit) in some Polish areas overnight, the coldest night in 11 years. Many trains were delayed on Monday after tracks at two Warsaw railway stations cracked. Hand-in-hand with the cold came a spike in smog in Warsaw and other parts of Poland, as the cold prompted an increase in burning coal for heat. Air pollution levels were so high in Warsaw that city officials urged people to remain indoors. Just across Poland’s southwestern border, the Czech Republic experienced the coldest night this year with temperatures dropping below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit) in many places. The lowest temperature — minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 16 Fahrenheit) — was recorded Monday in Orlicke Zahori, a mountainous village 100 miles east of Prague near the Polish border.

Census director to resign

Facing criticism over efforts to produce citizenship data to comply with an order from President Donald Trump, U.S. Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham said Monday that he planned to resign with the change in presidential administrations. Dillingham said in a statement that he would resign on Wednesday, the day Trump leaves the White House and President-elect Joseph Biden takes office. Dillingham’s term was supposed to be finished at the end of the year. The Census Bureau director’s departure comes as the statistical agency is crunching the numbers for the 2020 census, which will be used to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, as well as the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year. In his statement, Dillingham said he had been considering retiring earlier, but he had been persuaded at the time to stick around. “But I must do now what I think is best,” said Dillingham, 68. “Let me make it clear that under other circumstances I would be honored to serve President-Elect Biden just as I served the past five presidents.”

Accused to taking Pelosi’s laptop

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Federal authorities are looking for a woman whose former romantic partner says she took a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. The FBI said in an arrest warrant Sunday, however, that Riley June Williams hasn’t been charged with theft but only with illegally entering the Capitol and with disorderly conduct. FBI officials said a caller claiming to be an ex of Williams said friends of hers showed him a video of her taking a laptop computer or hard drive from Pelosi’s office. The caller alleged that she intended to send the device to a friend in Russia who planned to sell it to that country’s foreign intelligence service, but that plan fell through and she either has the device or destroyed it. The FBI says the matter remains under investigation. Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed Jan. 8 that a laptop was taken from a conference room but said “it was a laptop that was only used for presentations.” Williams’ mother, who lives with her in Harrisburg, told ITV reporters that her daughter had taken a sudden interest in President Donald Trump’s politics and “far-right message boards.” Her father, who lives in Camp Hill, told local law enforcement that he and his daughter went to Washington on the day of the protest but didn’t stay together, meeting up later to return to Harrisburg, the FBI said. FBI officials said they believe Williams “has fled.” Her mother told local law enforcement that she packed a bag and left, saying she would be gone for a couple of weeks. She also changed her phone number and deleted a number of social media accounts.

Canada wants pipeline plea

TORONTO — Top officials in Canada want a chance to make the case for a long disputed oil pipeline to be built amid reports President-elect Joe Biden will cancel Keystone XL. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Monday he will seek legal damages if reports are true that Biden plans to scrap the pipeline on his first day upon taking office. Biden’s plan is outlined in transition documents seen by Canadian media outlets. “We hope President-elect Biden will show respect for Canada and will sit down and at the very least talk to us,” Kenney said. Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said Monday the transition team had no comment on the pipeline. A person familiar with the pipeline matter said Monday that the document cited by Canadian news media was a draft slide that was a few weeks old. Despite the timing suggested in the draft slide, everything on it “may not happen on day one,” the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record on the matter. The 1,700-mile pipeline would carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. First proposed in 2008, the pipeline has become emblematic of the tensions between economic development and curbing the fossil fuel emissions that are causing climate change. The Obama administration rejected it, but President Donald Trump revived it and has been a strong supporter. Construction already started.

Police records wiped out

LONDON — Britain’s policing minister said Monday that “human error” led to hundreds of thousands of DNA records and other data on criminal suspects being erased from the national police computer. Kit Malthouse told lawmakers in the House of Commons that the mishap occurred during a “regular housekeeping process” on the computer, which holds 13 million records. He said some 400,000 records were wiped, including 213,000 offense records and 170,000 arrest records. “Clearly this situation is very serious,” Malthouse said, adding that “we will know the full extent of the impact of this issue over the next few days.” Labour lawmaker Yvette Cooper said it was “very hard to understand how 400,000 records could be deleted from such a crucial system without there being a proper back-up system in place.” Malthouse said officials were trying to recover the data but he could not guarantee that no criminal investigations would be harmed by the error. He said the government was working “to make sure that any operational impact is obviated or mitigated.”

Protest blimp enters museum

LONDON — The Trump Baby Blimp will live on long after its namesake has left the White House. The Museum of London said Monday that it had added the giant balloon, which depicts Donald Trump as a screaming orange baby, to its collection as an illustration of the protests that greeted the U.S. president when he visited the city in 2018. “By collecting the baby blimp, we can mark the wave of feeling that washed over the city that day and capture a particular moment of resistance,” Sharon Ament, the museum’s director, said in a statement. The blimp will become part of the museum’s protest collection, which includes artifacts from the women’s suffrage movement, peace activists who opposed the war in Iraq during the early 2000s, and more recent protests against public spending cuts. The Trump Baby Blimp was designed by a group of friends who met in a London pub to discuss how they could speak out against Trump’s policies. What they came up with was a giant balloon that caricatured Trump as a screaming, diapered baby clutching a smart phone and topped by a quiff of yellow hair. The blimp flew outside the Houses of Parliament on July 13, 2018, when thousands of demonstrators crammed the streets of central London to protest Trump’s visit to the capital.

Hawley book has new publisher

NEW YORK — Sen. Josh Hawley has found a new publisher after his book was dropped by Simon & Schuster in the wake of the siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. The conversative publisher Regnery announced Monday that Hawley’s “The Tyranny of Big Tech” will come out this spring. “Regnery is proud to stand in the breach with him. And the warning in his book about censorship obviously couldn’t be more urgent,” Regnery President and Publisher Thomas Spence said in a statement. Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, has been widely condemned for his encouragement of the Jan. 6 protestl.

Biden, Harris mark MLK day

PHILADELPHIA — Two days from the inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris pitched in on Martin Luther King Jr. Day service projects as a militarized and jittery Washington prepared for a swearing-in that will play out under extraordinary security. Biden and his wife, Jill, joined an assembly line in the parking lot of Philabundance, an organization that distributes food to people in need, and helped fill about 150 boxes with fresh fruit and non-perishables. The Bidens were joined in their service project by their daughter, Ashley Biden, their granddaughter Finnegan Biden, and Peter Neal, who is dating another Biden granddaughter. Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, took part in a National Day of Service event, filling bags with produce and dry goods at Martha’s Table, a food bank in Southeast Washington. Harris was also set to resign her Senate seat on Monday. She offered thanks to her California constituents in a farewell video posted on social media “for the honor of representing the place of my birth, as a proud daughter of California.”

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