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Debate begins for who’s first in line for COVID-19 vaccine

Who gets to be first in line for a COVID-19 vaccine? U.S. health authorities hope by late next month to have some draft guidance on how to ration initial doses, but it’s a vexing decision.

“Not everybody’s going to like the answer,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, recently told one of the advisory groups the government asked to help decide. “There will be many people who feel that they should have been at the top of the list.”

Traditionally, first in line for a scarce vaccine are health workers and the people most vulnerable to the targeted infection.

But Collins tossed new ideas into the mix: Consider geography and give priority to people where an outbreak is hitting hardest.

And don’t forget volunteers in the final stage of vaccine testing who get dummy shots, the comparison group needed to tell if the real shots truly work.

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As school begins amid virus, parents see few good options

WOODSTOCK, Ga. (AP) — John Barrett plans to keep his daughter home from elementary school this year in suburban Atlanta, but he wishes she were going. Molly Ball is sending her teenage sons to school in the same district on Monday, but not without feelings of regret.

As the academic year begins in many places across the country this week, parents are faced with the difficult choice of whether to send their children to school or keep them home for remote learning because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many are unhappy with either option.

“I definitely think it’s healthy for a child to go back to school,” said Ball, who feels her sons, William and Henry, both at River Ridge High School in Georgia’s Cherokee County district, suffered through enough instability in the spring. “At the same time, I wish they weren’t going back to school right now. It’s very scary.”

Offering parents choices eases some of the problems facing schools. If some students stay home, that creates more space in buildings and on buses.

But the number of families with a choice has dwindled as the virus’s spread has prompted school districts to scrap in-person classes — at least to start the academic year — in cities including Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, as well as parts of the South and Midwest where school is starting this week.

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Microsoft confirms talks seeking to buy US arm of TikTok

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft confirmed Sunday it is in talks with Chinese company ByteDance to acquire the U.S. arm of its popular video app TikTok and has discussed with President Donald Trump his concerns about security and censorship surrounding such an acquisition.

In a statement, Microsoft said Microsoft and ByteDance have provided notice of their intent to explore a deal resulting in Microsoft owning and operating the TikTok service in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The company said it expects those talks to conclude by Sept. 15.

Trump said on Friday that he would soon ban TikTok in the United States. Trump and CEO Satya Nadella have spoken, the company said, and Microsoft was prepared to continue exploring the purchase of TikTok’s U.S. operations after their conversation.

“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns. It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury,” the Microsoft statement said.

The White House did not immediately comment on the Microsoft statement.

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SpaceX capsule and NASA crew make 1st splashdown in 45 years

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Two NASA astronauts returned to Earth on Sunday in a dramatic, retro-style splashdown, their capsule parachuting into the Gulf of Mexico to close out an unprecedented test flight by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.

It was the first splashdown by U.S. astronauts in 45 years, with the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to carry people to and from orbit. The return clears the way for another SpaceX crew launch as early as next month and possible tourist flights next year.

Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken arrived back on Earth in their SpaceX Dragon capsule named Endeavour, less than a day after departing the International Space Station and two months after blasting off from Florida. The capsule parachuted into the calm gulf waters about 40 miles off the coast of Pensacola, hundreds of miles from Tropical Storm Isaias pounding Florida’s Atlantic coast.

“Welcome back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,” said Mission Control from SpaceX headquarters.

“It’s a little bit overwhelming to see everybody here considering the things that have gone on the last few months since we’ve been off planet,” Hurley said after arriving back home in Houston Sunday evening where they were greeted by a small masked-gathering of family and officials, including Musk.

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Isaias strengthens slightly as it crawls up Florida coast

VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Bands of heavy rain from Isaias lashed Florida’s east coast Sunday, with the tropical storm strengthening slightly and forecast to be near hurricane strength by the time it reaches the Carolinas.

Officials dealing with surging cases of the coronavirus in Florida kept a close watch on the storm that was weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm Saturday afternoon, but still brought heavy rain and flooding to Florida’s Atlantic coast.

The National Hurricane Center advised at 11 p.m. EDT Sunday that the storm was centered about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral, Florida, and about 365 miles (585 kilometers) south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

It strengthened slightly earlier in the evening with maximum sustained winds just under a Category 1 hurricane, taking a north-northwest path, according to the center.

“Don’t be fooled by the downgrade,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned at a news conference after the storm — pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs — spent hours roughing up the Bahamas.

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Protests in the long term: How is a lasting legacy cemented?

NEW YORK (AP) — What sort of staying power does it take for a protest movement to be judged a success?

This year, without a centralized team of senior leaders, perhaps the largest protest movement in U.S. history has been unfolding nationwide since the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. By some calculations, more than 15 million Americans have taken part — decrying racial injustice, reinforcing the message of Black Lives Matter.

There’s no way to know now what the movement’s legacy will be — whether it will wither or compel major breakthroughs in curbing racism and inequality. But at this moment, other major protest movements of the past — both in the United States and elsewhere — can offer clues about what endures or what, at least, leaves a tangible legacy.

“It’s important to see the changes over time and not be discouraged,” says Beth Robinson, a history professor at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

By some measures, it took the women’s suffrage movement in the United States more than 70 years before it won voting rights for American women. In the late 1980s, HIV/AIDS activists motivated by anger and fear made huge advances in just a few years thanks to a confrontational protest campaign.

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Clock is ticking on Trump comeback as early voting nears

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s getting late early.

President Donald Trump is privately reassuring Republicans anxious about his deficits to Democrat Joe Biden, noting there are three months until Election Day and reminding them of the late-breaking events that propelled his 2016 comeback.

But four years later, the dynamics are very different.

Aides are increasingly worried that the 2020 campaign may already be defined as a referendum on Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and will feature a historic shift to remote and early vote options. The president’s campaign is scrambling for a reset, pausing advertisements while struggling to find both a cohesive message and a way to safely put the president on the road in front of voters.

Trump added to the tumult by publicly wondering if the election should be delayed while making the unfounded claim that the tilt toward mail-in balloting would lead to widespread voter fraud. That suggestion drew a rare rebuke from Republicans, many of whom quietly warned the White House that it could be interpreted as an admission that the president was losing and could hurt their chances of retaining the Senate.

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Ginsburg waited 4 months to say her cancer had returned

WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is perhaps the most forthcoming member of the Supreme Court when it comes to telling the public about her many health issues. But she waited more than four months to reveal that her cancer had returned and that she was undergoing chemotherapy.

One big difference from her past battles with cancer is that Ginsburg and the rest of the court have been out of the public eye since early March because of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s when they decided to close the building except for official business, then later postponed arguments and agreed to meet by telephone.

In some ways, the court was more accessible to the public than ever with its decision to provide live audio of telephone arguments in May. But the inability to see the justices and, after arguments concluded on May 13, hear them, made what went on in the late spring and early summer even harder to read than usual.

In an institution that zealously guards the justices’ privacy, only a justice can decide when an injury or illness should be made public. And because life tenure comes with the job, it’s also up to them alone to decide when to retire.

Ginsburg, who was in and out of the hospital last week, said she intends to remain on the court, a decision that likely was influenced by the conservative nominee President Donald Trump would put up to replace her if she were to retire.

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Marines halt search for 8 missing troops, all presumed dead

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Eight troops missing after their landing craft sank off the Southern California coast during a training exercise are presumed dead, the Marine Corps announced Sunday.

The Marines said they had called off the search that started late Thursday afternoon when the amphibious assault vehicle sank with 15 Marines and one Navy sailor aboard. Eight Marines were rescued, but one later died and two are in critical condition.

The 26-ton, tank-like craft took on water and quickly sank in hundreds of feet of water — too deep for divers — making it difficult to reach.

“It is with as heavy heart that I decided to conclude the search and rescue effort,” said Col. Christopher Bronzi, commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

All of the Marines aboard were attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at nearby Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. They ranged in age from 19 to early 30s and all were wearing combat gear, including body armor and flotation vests, according to Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

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Orphaned toddler grows up in shadow of massacre, coronavirus

An infant boy who survived a shooting last year that left his parents and 21 others dead now likes to thumb through picture books and dance to a Batman jingle with his grandmother, according to an uncle who helps care for the 1-year-old.

It will be years before Paul Anchondo learns what happened to his parents in an event that many El Paso residents still struggle to comprehend, Tito Anchondo said. Anchondo’s brother Andre and sister-in-law Jordan died in the shooting at a Walmart store.

“We’ve been putting collections together of my brother’s photos, his accomplishments, basically trying to get as much information that we can and save it for” the boy, Tito Anchondo said. “When he does get to that age, we can tell him, ‘You know what, like, this is what happened to your dad. … Something horrible happened to your mom and dad. But, you know, we’re still here.'”

Authorities say Jordan Anchondo shielded the baby from gunfire, while her husband shielded them both. Paul suffered broken fingers and became the focus of public adulation as a seemingly miraculous survivor of the horror.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited Paul in the hospital. His first birthday, during the coronavirus pandemic, was attended by a drive-by caravan of cars and motorcycles.