. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sheriff: 3 dead in gun store shooting in New Orleans suburb

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — A person went into a gun store and shooting range in a New Orleans suburb and fatally shot two people Saturday, causing customers and staff to open fire on the shooter, said a sheriff. The shooter also died.

The shooting happened at the Jefferson Gun Outlet in the suburb of Metairie around 2:50 p.m., according to a release from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said the shooter initially hit two people inside, and then several other people — whether employees or store customers — opened fire on the shooter, both inside and outside of the building. Outside the building a man could be seen behind the yellow police tape yelling “Where is my son?”

Guns and ammunition are sold in the front of the outlet that faces a main thoroughfare through Jefferson Parish. Customers who want to frequent the gun range generally go around to the side entrance of the building. Staff who work there often wear a sidearm.

Lopinto said two other people were also hit by gunfire and were hospitalized in stable condition. He said there were multiple shooters in all and investigators had just begun trying to piece together what had happened.

___

Frozen pipes, electric woes remain as cold snap eases grip

DALLAS (AP) — Warmer temperatures spread across the southern United States on Saturday, bringing relief to a winter-weary region that faces a challenging clean-up and expensive repairs from days of extreme cold and widespread power outages.

In hard-hit Texas, where millions were warned to boil tap water before drinking it, the warm-up was expected to last for several days. The thaw produced burst pipes throughout the region, adding to the list of woes from severe conditions that were blamed for more than 70 deaths.

By Saturday afternoon, the sun had come out in Dallas and temperatures were nearing the 50s. People emerged to walk and jog in residential neighborhoods after days indoors. Many roads had dried out, and patches of snow were melting. Snowmen slumped.

Linda Nguyen woke up in a Dallas hotel room Saturday morning with an assurance she hadn’t had in nearly a week: She and her cat had somewhere to sleep with power and water.

Electricity had been restored to her apartment on Wednesday. But when Nguyen arrived home from work the next evening, she found a soaked carpet. A pipe had burst in her bedroom.

___

Debris falls from plane during emergency landing near Denver

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (AP) — Debris from a United Airlines plane fell onto Denver suburbs during an emergency landing Saturday after one of its engines suffered a catastrophic failure and rained pieces of the engine casing on a neighborhood where it narrowly missed a home.

The plane landed safely, and nobody aboard or on the ground was reported hurt, authorities said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the Boeing 777-200 returned to the Denver International Airport after experiencing a right-engine failure shortly after takeoff. Flight 328 was flying from Denver to Honolulu when the incident occurred, the agency said.

United said in a separate statement that there were 231 passengers and 10 crew on board. All passengers were to be rebooked on a new flight to Hawaii, the airline said.

The Broomfield Police Department posted photos on Twitter showing large, circular pieces of debris leaning against a house in the suburb about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Denver. Police are asking that anyone injured come forward.

___

What’s safe after COVID-19 vaccination? Don’t shed masks yet

You’re fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — now what? Don’t expect to shed your mask and get back to normal activities right away.

That’s going to be a disappointment, if not a shock, to many people.

In Miami, 81-year-old Noemi Caraballo got her second dose on Tuesday and is looking forward to seeing friends, resuming fitness classes and running errands after nearly a year of being extremely cautious, even ordering groceries online.

“Her line is, ‘I’m tired of talking to the cats and the parrots,’” said her daughter Susan Caraballo. “She wants to do things and talk to people.”

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t yet changed its guidelines: At least for now, people should follow the same rules as everybody else about wearing a mask, keeping a 6-foot distance and avoiding crowds — even after they’ve gotten their second vaccine dose.

___

Biden’s 1st month was about erasing the mark of ‘former guy’

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Joe Biden walked into the Oval Office for the first time as president a month ago, his pens were ready. Already.

Lining a fine wooden box, they bore the presidential seal and an imprint of his signature, a micro-mission accomplished in advance of his swearing-in.

Four years ago, pens were just one more little drama in Donald Trump’s White House. The gold-plated signature pens he favored had to be placed on rush order in his opening days. Over time, he came to favor Sharpies over the government-issued pens.

On matters far more profound than a pen, Biden is out to demonstrate that the days of a seat-of-the-pants presidency are over.

He wants to show that the inflationary cycle of outrage can be contained. That things can get done by the book. That the new guy can erase the legacy of the “former guy,” as Biden has called Trump.

___

Suspected hypothermia deaths in homes mount in Texas

DALLAS (AP) — With the snow and ice clearing in Texas after days of unusually cold temperatures, bodies are being found of people who likely froze to death as they struggled to stay warm after electricity was cut to millions of homes

Of the around 70 deaths attributed to the snow, ice and frigid temperatures nationwide, more than a dozen were people who perished in homes that had lost their heat, and most of those were in Texas. They include an 11-year-old boy who died in his bed in Conroe, near Houston, and two older men found dead in their homes in the small West Texas town of Buffalo Gap in Taylor County.

Taylor County Sheriff Ricky Bishop said his office received many calls in recent days asking for checks on friends or family members who may be suffering due to the power outages.

“I can think of probably one point in one hour we probably got 10 of those calls,” said Bishop, adding that some of the county’s roads were covered in 4 foot (120 centimeter) deep snow drifts.

Hypothermia can set in if the body loses heat faster than it can produce it and if it falls below about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees.

___

Biden declares major disaster in Texas as federal aid flows

WASHINGTON (AP) — Add Mother Nature to the pile of crises on President Joe Biden’s plate.

A month into the job and focused on the coronavirus, Biden is seeing his disaster management skills tested after winter storms plunged Texas, Oklahoma and neighboring states into an unusual deep freeze that left millions shivering in homes that lost heat and power, and in many homes, water.

At least 69 deaths across the U.S. have been blamed on the blast of unseasonable weather.

The White House announced on Saturday that the president had declared a major disaster in Texas, and he has asked federal agencies to identify additional resources to address the suffering.

Biden came into office Jan. 20 promising to tackle a series of brewing crises, starting with the coronavirus pandemic and its ripple effects on the economy. He tacked on systemic racism and climate change as top priorities. And now he’s contending with storms that have not only imperiled Americans but also delayed the shipment and administration of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines.

___

Spain: Peaceful protests for jailed rapper see more clashes

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) —

A fifth night of peaceful protests to denounce the imprisonment of a Spanish rap artist once more devolved into clashes between police and the members of fringe groups who set up street barricades and smashed storefront windows Saturday night in downtown Barcelona.

Small groups made up mostly of young people began their nightly cat-and-mouse game with officers an hour after several thousand protesters gathered in the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, which also was where the worst violence took place during earlier demonstrations this week over rapper Pablo Hasél’s detention.

Police were also pelted by rocks after a march in the Catalan town of Lleida, where Hasél spent 24 hours barricaded a university building before police took him away to serve a 9-month prison sentence for insulting the Spanish monarchy and praising terrorist violence in his music.

Catalonia’s regional police force said there also was defiance in the city of Tarragona, where groups threw glass bottles at police lines and smashed store windows.

___

Two Democratic governors see stars dimmed by virus woes

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, two Democratic governors on opposite ends of the country were hailed as heroes for their leadership in a crisis. Now they’re leaders on the ropes.

Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gavin Newsom of California are embroiled in distinct political woes. For Cuomo, it’s a federal investigation into whether his administration sought to hide the true toll of the pandemic. For Newsom, it’s fending off a recall effort fueled by opposition to his lockdowns — and his own personal missteps.

But for both men the bottom line is clear: If you’re not careful, the same crisis that can raise your stock can just as easily bring you down.

“We’ve had too many mission accomplished moments,” said Rebecca Katz, a New York City-based Democratic strategist who ran a primary challenge against Cuomo in 2018, in a reference to former President George W. Bush’s premature boast days after the conquest of Iraq.

The COVID-19 virus has been an especially painful illustration of that point. The virus is now stretching into its second year, a timeline few could have comprehended when schools and workplaces were first shuttered last March and governors who control lockdowns played newly prominent roles in Americans’ lives.

___

Pandemic makes prostitution taboo in Nevada’s legal brothels

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Before the coronavirus pandemic, tourist-dependent Nevada had a notorious attraction: It was the only place in America where someone could legally pay for sex.

These days, even in the state known for sin, the business is taboo.

Legal brothels have been shuttered for nearly a year, leaving sex workers to offer less-lucrative alternatives like online dates or nonsexual escort services. Those in the industry say many of the licensed prostitutes, who work as independent contractors, have struggled to qualify for unemployment benefits since closures began last March and some have opted to take their work into the shadows, offering sex illegally.

While the business of legal bordellos may seem incompatible with social distancing, sex workers and brothel owners say that’s not the case. Like other close-contact industries such as massage therapy and dental services, they contend brothels should be allowed to reopen with protective measures.

“We could easily do work at arm’s length, just the same as they do within the massage parlors, which are open in the state of Nevada,” sex worker Alice Little said. “You can go to a dentist and have him put his hands in your mouth. You can go to a tattoo parlor and get your face tattooed right now. You can get piercings put in your face. You’re certainly not masked for any of those things.”