AP News in Brief at 6:04 pm EDT

Florida works to avoid ‘catastrophic’ pond collapse PALMETTO, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Sunday that crews are working to prevent the collapse of a large wastewater pond in the Tampa Bay area while evacuating the area to avoid a “catastrophic flood.”

Manatee County officials said earlier Sunday that the latest models showed that a breach at the old phosphate plant reservoir had the potential to gush out 340 million gallons of water in a matter of minutes, risking a 20-foot-high (about 6.1-meter-high) wall of water. Throughout the day the volume had decreased to below 300 million. “What we are looking at now is trying to prevent and respond to, if need be, a real catastrophic flood situation,” DeSantis said at a press conference after flying over the old Piney Point phosphate mine.

Authorities have closed off portions of the U.S. Highway 41 and ordered evacuations of 316 homes. Some families were placed in local hotels.

A local jail 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) away from the 77-acre pond is not being evacuated, but officials are moving people and staff to the second story and putting sandbags on the ground floor. Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said the models show the area could be covered with between one foot (30 centimeters) to 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water, and the second floor is 10 feet above ground.


With new aid, schools seek solutions to problems new and old With a massive infusion of federal aid coming their way, schools across the U.S. are weighing how to use the windfall to ease the harm of the pandemic — and to tackle problems that existed long before the coronavirus.

The assistance that was approved last month totals £123 billion — a staggering sum that will offer some districts several times the amount of federal education funding they receive in a single year. The aid will help schools reopen and expand summer programs to help students catch up on learning. It also offers a chance to pursue programs that have long been seen as too expensive, such as intensive tutoring, mental health services and major curriculum upgrades.

“This feels like a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us to be able to make critical investments,” said Nathan Kuder, chief financial officer of Boston Public Schools, which is expecting £275 million. But the spending decisions carry high stakes. If important needs are overlooked — or if the money does not bring tangible improvements — schools could face blowback from their communities and from politicians who influence their funding.

At the same time, schools must be wary of dreaming too big and taking on long-term costs they cannot sustain. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the assistance allows schools to “hit the reset button” and confront challenges that have long plagued the nation’s education system. He said schools can train teachers in social and emotional learning and work to close persistent racial disparities in education.


Hymns through masks: Christians mark another pandemic Easter

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Christianity’s most joyous feast day was celebrated worldwide with the faithful spaced apart in pews and singing choruses of “Hallelujah” through face coverings on a second Easter Sunday marked by pandemic precautions. From vast Roman Catholic cathedrals to Protestant churches, worshippers followed regulations on the coronavirus. In some European countries, citizens lined up on Easter for their turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

In the Lombardy region of Italy, where the pandemic first erupted in the West, a hospital gave a traditional dove-shaped Easter cake symbolizing peace to each person waiting to get vaccinated. Many who came were in their 80s. A soccer team in Lyon, France, opened its stadium as a vaccination center for the long holiday weekend.

Some 9,000 people were expected to receive their shots there over three days as the French government tries to speed up vaccinations amid a fresh outbreak of infections. In the Holy Land, travel restrictions and quarantine regulations prevented foreign pilgrims from flocking to religious sites in Jerusalem during Holy Week, which culminates in Easter celebrations. Pope Francis lamented that the pandemic has prevented some churchgoers from attending services.


Europe ramps up vaccinations as virus haunts Easter holidays

PARIS (AP) — The French city of Lyon’s main stadium opened as a mass vaccination center during Easter weekend, and thousands spent the holiday lining up for injections at hippodromes, velodromes or other sites as France tried to speed up shots amid a new rush of coronavirus cases. But as Europe celebrated its second Easter in a row under the cloud of the pandemic, some cities put vaccinations on hold over during the long holiday weekend — defying French President Emmanuel Macron’s insistence that “there are no weekends or days off during vaccination.” Medical workers need “a little rest at last,” said an official with the French city of Strasbourg, which shut down vaccination facilities from Good Friday through Easter Monday, a public holiday.

To ensure that residents still had access to potentially life-saving vaccines, Strasbourg expanded vaccination hours and administered all of its weekly supply of doses between last Monday and Thursday, the official said. Spain, Italy and Germany faced a similar holiday vaccination challenge. Spaniards lined up for shots on Easter Sunday in Barcelona and other points around the country, but Madrid halted vaccinations at local health centers to give staff a break.

The Spanish capital continued to give shots at a soccer stadium and a new hospital built to help handle pandemic cases.


EXPLAINER: Legion of Chauvin prosecutors, each with own role Viewers watching the trial of a former Minneapolis officer charged with murder in George Floyd ‘s death may be struck by the array of prosecutors taking turns presenting their case. The choice of who does what is no accident.

While Derek Chauvin ‘s attorney, Eric Nelson, works alone, the prosecution is being handled by two assistant attorneys general, Matthew Frank and Erin Eldridge, and two outside lawyers, Jerry Blackwell and Steve Schleicher. Ten more are working behind the scenes, many for free. Experts agree the roles played by prosecutors are based on the skill sets each brings, but appearances matter, too.

WHY DID BLACKWELL GIVE THE OPENING STATEMENT? The undercurrent of racial tension — a white police officer accused of killing a Black man — can’t be ignored. Blackwell is a prominent Black civil rights attorney and one of the founders of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers.

Last year, he won a posthumous pardon for a Black man wrongly convicted of rape before the infamous Duluth lynchings of 1920.


Amid outcry, states push mental health training for police The officer who Cassandra Quinto-Collins says kneeled on her son’s neck for over four minutes assured her it was standard protocol for sedating a person experiencing a mental breakdown. “I was there watching it the whole time,” Quinto-Collins told The Associated Press. “I just trusted that they knew what they were doing.”

Angelo Quinto’s sister had called 911 for help calming him down during an episode of paranoia on Dec.

23. His family says Quinto didn’t resist the Antioch, California, officers — one who pushed his knee on the back of his neck, and another who restrained his legs — and the only noise he made was when he twice cried out, “Please don’t kill me.” The officers replied, “We’re not going to kill you,” the family said.

Police deny putting pressure on his neck. Three days later, the 30-year-old Navy veteran and Filipino immigrant died at a hospital. It is the latest stark example of the perils of policing people with mental health issues.

In response to several high-profile deaths of people with mental health issues in police custody, lawmakers in at least eight states are introducing legislation to change how law enforcement agencies respond to those in crisis.


Truck owner behind deadly Taiwan railway crash apologizes TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The owner of a construction truck that caused Taiwan’s worst rail accident in decades, killing 48 people, apologized in tears while being led away from his home by police on Sunday. The unmanned truck’s emergency brake was not properly engaged, according to the government’s disaster relief center.

An investigation is underway as to how exactly Lee Yi-Hsiang’s vehicle slid down onto the tracks Friday from a nearby construction site on the mountainous coast of eastern Hualien county. The truck was hit by a passenger train carrying 494 people, which derailed just before entering a tunnel, crushing many passengers inside the mangled train carriages. The death toll was revised down to 48 on Sunday, after rescuers initially said 51, then 50 people were killed.

The changes came after some body parts were found to belong to one individual, a spokesperson for the Central Emergency Operation Center said. At least 198 people were injured. “I have caused a serious accident on the Taiwan Railway Administrations’ Taroko train number 480 during this year’s Tomb Sweeping Holidays, causing deaths and injuries, to this I express my remorse and my sincerest apologies,” said Lee, who is also the construction site’s manager, his words muffled by a face mask and by emotion. “I will cooperate with the authorities’ investigation fully, and take responsibility.”

Prosecutors in Hualien county previously said they were seeking an arrest warrant for the truck’s owner, who was questioned along with several others.


Jordan’s king sends tough message on dissent in royal family JERUSALEM (AP) — Jordanian authorities said Sunday they foiled a “malicious plot” by a former crown prince to destabilize the kingdom with foreign support, contradicting the senior royal’s claims that he was being punished for speaking out against corruption and incompetence. Faced with rival narratives, the United States and Arab governments quickly sided with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, reflecting the country’s strategic importance in a turbulent region.

Domestically, Prince Hamzah’s unprecedented criticism of the ruling class — without naming the king — could lend support to growing complaints about poor governance and human rights abuses in Jordan. At the same time, the king’s tough reaction — placing his popular half-brother under house arrest and accusing him of serious crimes — illustrated the limits on public dissent he is willing to tolerate. “The kingdom’s stability and security transcend everything,” said Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, as he accused Hamzah and two senior Jordanian officials of conspiring with foreign elements to destabilize the kingdom. “The plot is totally contained.”


Myanmar anti-coup protesters launch ‘Easter egg strike’

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Anti-coup demonstrators in Myanmar, adept at finding themes to tie together protests nationwide, took to the streets holding painted eggs in a nod to the Easter holiday on Sunday. In the biggest city of Yangon, one group marched through the Insein district chanting and singing protest songs and cradling eggs bearing the slogan “Spring Revolution.” Many of the eggs also bore a drawing of the three-fingered salute, a symbol of resistance to the Feb.

1 coup. At dawn in Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, demonstrators gathered on motorbikes to shout protests against the power grab that overthrew the democratically elected government.

Myanmar’s military has violently cracked down on protesters and others in opposition, with the latest civilian death toll since the coup at 557, according to the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. More than 2,750 people have been detained or sentenced, the group said. On Sunday, security forces opened fire on a crowd of protesters in Pyinmana in central Myanmar, killing at least one person, local news outlet Khit Thit Media reported.


New to DC, Buttigieg looks to build bridges with Biden plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pete Buttigieg was a few weeks into his job as transportation secretary, buried in meetings and preparing for the launch of President Joe Biden’s £2.3 trillion public works plan, when evening arrived along with a time to try something new in Washington. Instead of climbing into the back seat of a black SUV like most Cabinet secretaries, he headed to a bike-share rack. Helmet on, and with a couple of Secret Service agents flanking him, he pedaled the mile-long trip to his home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

It wasn’t a one-time stunt. On Thursday, Buttigieg arrived at the White House for a Cabinet meeting on his two-wheeler. And that wasn’t his only “regular guy” moment.

Dog park devotees in the District of Columbia have also seen him there, chatting up anyone from children to members of Congress such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. Buttigieg first had his eye on the job of the man who is now his boss, Biden.

Buttigieg’s presidential campaign was surprisingly successful — he essentially tied for first with Vermont Sen.

Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses and finished a close second to him in the New Hampshire primary — and he made a strong impression as someone who represented the future of the Democratic Party.

Now the man known during his campaign as “Mayor Pete” — he was the mayor of South Bend, Indiana — faces the first test of that potential in his first job in Washington: leading a Cabinet department with a £75 billion annual budget and a mandate to help spur an infrastructure program that Biden has likened to the the building of the interstate highway system in the 1950s.

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