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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

16 killed in shooting rampage, deadliest in Canadian history

TORONTO – A gunman disguised as a police officer shot people in their homes and set fires in a rampage across the Canadian province of Nova Scotia that killed 16 people, the deadliest such attack in the country´s history. Officials said Sunday the suspected shooter was also dead.

A police officer was among those killed. Several bodies were found inside and outside one home in the small, rural town of Portapique, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Halifax – what police called the first scene. Bodies were also found at other locations. The assault began late Saturday, and authorities believe the shooter may have targeted his first victims but then began attacking randomly.

Overnight, police began advising residents of the town – already on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic – to lock their doors and stay in their basements. Several homes in the area were set on fire as well.

Police identified the man believed to be the shooter as Gabriel Wortman, 51, who was thought to live part-time in Portapique. Authorities said he wore a police uniform at one point and made his car look like a Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruiser.

Police first announced that they had arrested Wortman at a gas station in Enfield, outside Halifax, but later said he had died. It was not clear how, and they did not explain further.


`Cartels are scrambling´: Virus snarls global drug trade

NEW YORK – Coronavirus is dealing a gut punch to the illegal drug trade, paralyzing economies, closing borders and severing supply chains in China that traffickers rely on for the chemicals to make such profitable drugs as methamphetamine and fentanyl.

One of the main suppliers that shut down is in Wuhan, the epicenter of the global outbreak.

Associated Press interviews with nearly two dozen law enforcement officials and trafficking experts found Mexican and Colombian cartels are still plying their trade as evidenced by recent drug seizures but the lockdowns that have turned cities into ghost towns are disrupting everything from production to transport to sales.

Along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border through which the vast majority of illegal drugs cross, the normally bustling vehicle traffic that smugglers use for cover has slowed to a trickle. Bars, nightclubs and motels across the country that are ordinarily fertile marketplaces for drug dealers have shuttered. And prices for drugs in short supply have soared to gouging levels.

“They are facing a supply problem and a demand problem,” said Alejandro Hope, a security analyst and former official with CISEN, the Mexican intelligence agency. “Once you get them to the market, who are you going to sell to?”


Lockdown politics increasingly pit economic, health concerns

WASHINGTON – The global health crisis is taking a nasty political turn with tensions worsening between governments locked down to keep the coronavirus at bay and people yearning to restart stalled economies and forestall fears of a depression.

Protesters worrying about their livelihoods and bucking infringements on their freedom have taken to the streets in some places. A few countries are acting to ease restrictions, but most of the world remains unified in insisting it’s much too early to take more aggressive steps.

In the United States, there is clear evidence of the mounting pressure. The Trump administration says parts of the nation are ready to begin a gradual return to normalcy. Yet some state leaders say their response to the pandemic is hindered by a woefully inadequate federal response.

After insisting the country´s virus testing system was without fault, President Donald Trump announced Sunday evening that he would be using the Defense Production Act to compel increased manufacturing of testing swabs – one of several products governors have been begging the president to help them acquire. White House officials will also be holding a call Monday with the nation´s governors to help walk them through where to find supplies, he said.

Trump also remained defensive, however, vowing that there were enough swabs to go around. “Swabs are easy,” the president said, bringing one to his news briefing and waving it in front of reporters.


What you need to know today about the virus pandemic

The global lockdown put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus is hurting the illegal drug trade.

Pressure continues to grow on governments to loosen restrictions ease the economic pain of lockdowns. In Germany, breweries are threatened with permanent closure. In the U.S., the coronavirus is accelerating the decline in the coal industry.

Still, there were occasional signs of hope: South Korea reported just eight more cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, the first time a daily increase has dropped to single digits in about two months. And in New York, the daily toll of coronavirus deaths has hit its lowest point in more than two weeks.

Here are some of The Associated Press’ top stories Sunday on the coronavirus pandemic. Follow for updates through the day and for stories explaining some of its complexities.



AP FACT CHECK: Trump falsely blames governors for virus test

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is wrongly casting blame on governors and the Obama administration for shortages in coronavirus testing and declaring victory over what he calls relatively low death rates in the U.S. That’s too soon to tell.

A look at his claims over the weekend, also covering the economy:


TRUMP, on governors urging wider availability of virus tests: “They don´t want to use all of the capacity that we´ve created. We have tremendous capacity. …They know that. The governors know that. The Democrat governors know that; they´re the ones that are complaining.” – news briefing Saturday.

THE FACTS: Trump’s assertion that governors are not using already available testing capacity is contradicted by one of his top health advisers. He´s also wrong that Democrats are the only ones expressing concerns about the adequacy of COVID-19 testing; several Republican governors also point to problems.


‘A stroke of luck’ to be on global cruise during pandemic

BARCELONA, Spain – For Spanish traveler Carlos Payá, being on an around-the-globe luxury cruise while the rest of world scurried into their homes for fear of the COVID-19 pandemic was beyond surreal. It was “a stroke of good luck.”

Now, his trip inside the virus-free bubble that the Costa Deliziosa cruise ship became on its 15-week odyssey is coming to an end. The boat is steaming toward Barcelona, Spain, where it will make its first port-of-call on Monday after 35 days of continuous sailing with no human contact with the outside world.

“It was not surreal. It was incredible,” Payá told The Associated Press by text messages on Saturday evening. ¨We have family in our home countries. The news that was arriving from home was causing us all a lot of worry and grief. For us, it was a stroke of good luck to be where we were.”

The 58-year-old Payá, a sports writer travelling with his wife, said when news started to reach the boat of the rapid spread of the coronavirus in their native Spain, their first desire was to get home to their two grown children in their hometown of Valencia.

But with ports denying the boat entry, they have had to temper their concern with the amenities on board.


‘They’re killing us,’ Texas residents say of Trump rollbacks

HOUSTON – Danielle Nelson´s best monitor for the emissions billowing out of the oil refineries and chemical plants surrounding her home: The heaving chest of her 9-year-old asthmatic son.

On some nights, the boy’s chest shudders as he fights for breath in his sleep. Nelson suspects the towering plants and refineries are to blame, rising like a lit-up city at night around her squat brick apartment building in the rugged Texas Gulf Coast city of Port Arthur.

Ask Nelson what protection the federal government and plant operators provide her African American community, and her answer is blunt. “They´re basically killing us,” says the 37-year-old, who herself has been diagnosed with respiratory problems since moving to the community after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

“We don´t even know what we´re breathing,” she says.

The Texas Gulf Coast is the United States´ petrochemical corridor, with four of the country´s 10 biggest oil and gas refineries and thousands of chemical facilities.


Storms rake Deep South, 1 week after deadly tornado outbreak

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Severe thunderstorms pounded parts of the Deep South with hail, high winds and drenching rains on Sunday as forecasters warned residents to brace for possible overnight tornadoes and flooding across a region reeling from a deadly twister outbreak one week ago. .

Tornado watches ranged across parts of Louisiana and Mississippi into Alabama and Georgia on Sunday night. It was the second Sunday in a row that the South was hit with severe weather.

Flash flood warnings were in effect around the region, the National Weather Service said. Its Jacson, Mississippi, office, tweeted video of a roadway awash in rainwater in the city of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, saying some streets there were were inundated by heavy rains from a severe storm late Sunday.

The city of Hattiesburg’s online site tweeted for people to stay off several roads made impassible by the storms: “We´re already flooded out, and we have hours of rain ahead.”

The weather service’s Storm Prediction Center said it also received reports of telephone poles snapped by a potent storm along a highway near Marion, Mississippi.


North Korean defectors, experts question zero virus claim

SEOUL, South Korea – As a doctor in North Korea during the SARS outbreak and flu pandemic, Choi Jung Hun didn’t have much more than a thermometer to decide who should be quarantined.

Barely paid, with no test kits and working with antiquated equipment, if anything, he and his fellow doctors in the northeastern city of Chongjin were often unable to determine who had the disease, even after patients died, said Choi, who fled to South Korea in 2012.

Local health officials weren´t asked to confirm cases or submit them to the central government in Pyongyang, Choi said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Experts say North Korea’s reluctance to admit major outbreaks of disease, its wrecked medical infrastructure and its extreme sensitivity to any potential threat to Kim Jong Un´s authoritarian rule means that Pyongyang is likely handling the current coronavirus pandemic in the same manner.

This has led to widespread skepticism over the nation’s claim to have zero infections.


Sports leagues seek return to play but with no guarantees

With no games being played, recent sports headlines have centered around hopes and dreams – namely, the uncharted path leagues and teams must navigate to return to competition in the wake of the pandemic.

Virtually all leagues talk publicly about their desire to return before summer. But behind closed doors, they are hatching different potential plans: all 30 baseball teams playing in Arizona; home run contests to decide tie games; the Stanley Cup being hoisted in an empty arena that neither team calls home; end-of-season soccer standings decided by vote; college football games in spring.

Over the past week, The Associated Press spoke to more than two dozen policymakers, coaches and players across the globe to get their candid assessments of plans to return from the stoppages caused by the new coronavirus. The conclusion: While it´s critical to put optimistic restart scenarios in place, there is no certainty any of these plans will work without buy-in from politicians and an OK from players and medical experts. Underpinning it all would have to be a drastic ramp-up in testing, a vaccine or treatment breakthrough, or some other solution.

In short, the return of any sports, no matter how innovative the plan, will be risky and uncertain for the rest of this year and into 2021.

“It´s not about 22 players walking onto a pitch and throwing a ball out,” said FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani, whose concerns about restarting soccer mirror those of all sports worldwide.

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