Sparked by pandemic fallout, homeschooling surges across US

(AP) – Some U.S. parents say they’re planning to continue to homeschool their children, even as schools resume in-person classes.

Danielle King of Randolph, Vermont, says requiring homeschooling for her 7-year-old daughter was a “silver lining” in the pandemic.

Some families who spoke with The Associated Press have children with special educational needs.

Others seek a faith-based curriculum or say their local schools are flawed.

The common denominator: They tried homeschooling on what they thought was a temporary basis, and found it beneficial to their children.

The U.S. Census Bureau has confirmed the surge.

It says the rate of households homeschooling their children rose to 11% by September 2020, doubling from 5.4% six months earlier.

VA requires COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday became the first major federal agency to require health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccines.

The decision comes as the aggressive delta variant spreads and some communities report troubling increases in hospitalizations among unvaccinated people.

The VA’s move came on a day when nearly 60 leading medical and health care organizations issued a call for health care facilities to require their workers to get vaccinated.

At the VA, vaccines will be now mandatory for specified health care personnel — including physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, and others who work in departmental facilities or provide direct care to veterans.

Search for bodies concludes at Florida condo collapse site

MIAMI (AP) — Firefighters have officially ended their search for bodies in the debris of the collapsed Surfside condo building.

The decision concludes a month of painstaking work removing layers of dangerous debris that were once piled several stories high.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s urban search-and-rescue team pulled away from the disaster site Friday in a convoy of fire trucks and other vehicles, slowly driving to their headquarters for the announcement.

The June 24 collapse at the oceanside tower killed 97 people, with at least one missing person yet to be identified.

The site has been mostly swept flat and the rubble moved to a Miami warehouse.

Cleveland’s baseball team goes from Indians to Guardians

CLEVELAND (AP) — Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will be called Guardians.

The ballclub announced the name change on Twitter, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names considered racist.

The choice of Guardians will undoubtedly be criticized by many of the club’s die-hard fans.

Cleveland’s new name was inspired by two large landmark stone edifices near the downtown ballpark — referred to as traffic guardians — on the Hope Memorial Bridge over the Cuyahoga River.

In 2018, the Indians stopped wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps.

However, the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature that was protested for decades by Native American groups.

The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200 just over a month ago.

But the process quickly accelerated.

‘The greatest honor’: Osaka lights Olympic cauldron

TOKYO (AP) — What a moment for Naomi Osaka. For the new Japan.

For racial injustice. For female athletes. For tennis.

The four-time Grand Slam winner has lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

Osaka was born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother.

She moved to the U.S. when she was 3.

She is the world’s highest-earning female athlete and has been outspoken about racial injustice.

She writes on Instagram that lighting the cauldron is “undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life.”

Amazon’s mission: Getting a ‘key’ to your apartment building

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is pushing landlords around the country to give its drivers the ability to unlock apartment building front doors whenever they need to leave packages in the lobby instead of the street.

The service, called Amazon Key for Business, allows delivery workers to make their rounds faster since they don’t have to ring doorbells. And fewer stolen packages could give Amazon an edge over other online retailers.

But there could be drawbacks.

The device is connected to the internet, which could make it vulnerable to hackers.

And tenants may not know that Amazon drivers have access to their building’s front doors.

Vaccinations rise in some states with soaring infections

(AP) – Vaccinations are beginning to rise in some states where COVID-19 cases are soaring.

That’s according to White House officials who briefed reporters on Thursday.

They say hospitals are running out of space because of the rapidly spreading delta variant. White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients says several states with the highest proportions of new infections have seen residents get vaccinated at higher rates than the nation as a whole.

Officials cited Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Nevada as examples.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky is the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She says the variant is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses known to researchers.

Weinstein pleads not guilty to sexual assaults in California

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles courtroom to four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault counts.

Sheriff’s deputies brought the 69-year-old convicted rapist into court Wednesday in a wheelchair.

He was wearing a brown jail jumpsuit and face mask.

Attorney Mark Werksman entered the plea for the disgraced movie mogul a day after Weinstein was extradited to California from New York, where he was serving a 23-year prison term.

He now awaits a second trial on a second coast, and the possibility of another lengthy sentence.

Weinstein’s charges involve five women and span from 2004 to 2013.

The 11 counts together could bring a sentence of 140 years.

COVID-19 cases in US triple over 2 weeks amid misinformation

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — COVID-19 cases have tripled in the U.S. over two weeks amid an onslaught of vaccine misinformation.

The spike in infections is straining hospitals, frustrating doctors and pushing clergy into the fray.

Across the U.S., the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, up from less than 13,700 on July 6.

Health officials blame the delta variant and flattening vaccination rates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 56.2% of Americans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.

And while reports of athletes, lawmakers and others occasionally getting the coronavirus despite vaccination may sound alarming, top health experts point to overwhelming evidence that the shots dramatically reduce severe disease and death.

The best indicator: In the U.S., hospitalizations and deaths are nearly all among the unvaccinated, and data from Britain and Israel agree protection remains strong against the worst cases.

No vaccine is perfect but what scientists call “breakthrough” infections in the fully vaccinated are a small fraction of coronavirus cases.

That’s even in the face of the highly contagious delta variant that is burning through unvaccinated communities.

Trump inaugural committee head accused of being UAE agent

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The chair of former President Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee was arrested Tuesday in California on charges alleging that he and others conspired to influence Trump’s foreign policy positions to benefit the United Arab Emirates.

Prosecutors say the crimes struck at the “heart of our democracy.”

Tom Barrack was among three men charged in New York federal court with trying to influence foreign policy while Trump was running in 2016 and later while president.

The 74-year-old Barrack of Santa Monica, California was arrested in Southern California.

A spokesperson for Barrack said he would plead not guilty.