PHOENIX (AP) — The federal government is proceeding with plans for a border wall even as communities where construction is ongoing protest the presence of workers, according to court documents.
In the Yuma, Arizona, area, the government modified a contract on March 24 to add 1.5 miles of a 30-foot border wall with angled tops and an anti-climb plate to the cost of $55.8 million. That’s according to documents the Sierra Club obtained this week in one of two lawsuits challenging the use of defense department funds to build the wall.
The federal government is looking to award another $50 million contract next month to add fiber optic cables, lighting, closed circuit TV, a ground detection system and signage.
Still, lawmakers and advocates are calling for construction to be halted amid the coronavirus outbreak, saying the workers put small border communities with few health care resources at risk.
DENTON (AP) — A man sought as a suspect in the shooting of his girlfriend was shot dead Friday by deputies outside a North Texas travel center.
The incident happened around midday outside Buc-ee’s on Denton’s southeastern outskirts, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of Dallas.
Denton County sheriff’s deputies tracked 53-year-old Marlon Aaron Bonds to the travel center on Interstate 35E. Bonds was at his car’s trunk when the deputies boxed him in, a sheriff’s spokesman said. Bonds went to his car and pulled out a handgun, so the deputies opened fire fatally wounding him, the spokesman said.
No one else was wounded. Fort Worth police wanted Bonds for the non-life-threatening shooting of his girlfriend.
DALLAS (AP) — Federal prosecutors obtained a permanent injunction Friday against a Dallas-based wellness center that had been marketing a purported “ozone therapy” as a treatment for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay issued the order Friday against the Purity Health and Wellness Center and one of its principals, Jean Juanita Allen, after both agreed to the court order, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox’s office in Dallas.
In a statement, Cox called the treatment “fraudulent” and “bogus.”
Messages to Purity and Allen seeking comment were not immediately returned.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday that he won’t approve a $10 billion loan for the U.S. Postal Service unless the agency raises charges for Amazon and other big shippers to four to five times current rates.
“The Postal Service is a joke because they’re handing out packages for Amazon and other internet companies and every time they bring a package, they lose money on it,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
The president was responding to a question about reports his administration plans to force major changes in postal operations as the price for approving a $10 billion loan that was included in the government’s $2 trillion economic rescue package.
Under the rescue package legislation, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin must approve the loan before the Postal Service can receive the money. Officials at the Postal Service had no immediate reaction to Trump’s comments.
AVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Even as the confirmed U.S. death toll from the coronavirus soared past 50,000, Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska began loosening lockdown orders Friday on their pandemic-wounded businesses, despite warnings from health experts that the gradual steps toward normalcy might be happening too soon.
Republican governors in Georgia and Oklahoma allowed salons, spas and barbershops to reopen, while Alaska opened the way for restaurants to resume dine-in service and retail shops and other businesses to open their doors, all with limitations. Some Alaska municipalities chose to maintain stricter rules.
Though limited in scope, and subject to social-distancing restrictions, the reopenings marked a symbolic milestone in the debate raging in the United States — and the world — as to how quickly political leaders should lift economically damaging lockdown orders.
Similar scenarios have been playing out worldwide and will soon proliferate in the U.S. as other governors wrestle with conflicting priorities. Their economies have been battered by weeks of quarantine-fueled job losses and soaring unemployment claims, yet health officials warn that lifting stay-at-home orders now could spark a resurgence of COVID-19.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — State and local governments across the United States have obtained more than 30 million doses of a malaria drug touted by President Trump to treat patients with the coronavirus, despite warnings from doctors that more research is needed.
At least 22 states and Washington, D.C., secured shipments of the drug, hydroxychloroquine, according to information compiled from state and federal officials by The Associated Press. Sixteen of those states were won by Trump in 2016, although five of them, including North Carolina and Louisiana, are now led by Democratic governors.
Supporters say having a supply on hand makes sense in case the drug is shown to be effective against the pandemic that has devastated the global economy and killed nearly 200,000 people worldwide, and to ensure a steady supply for people who need it for other conditions like lupus.
But health experts worry that having the drug easily available at a time of heightened public fear could make it easier to misuse it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday warned doctors against prescribing the drug, hydroxychloroquine, for treating the coronavirus outside of hospitals or research settings because of reports of serious side effects, including dangerous irregular heart rhythms and death among patients.
PARIS (AP) — Amazon is keeping all of its French warehouses closed for the time being, after an appeals court upheld a ruling saying the company hadn’t done enough to protect workers from the coronavirus.
Unions in France and beyond welcomed Friday’s ruling by the appeals court in Versailles as a comeuppance for the online behemoth, and expressed hope that negotiations with Amazon management on new safety measures can start next week.
The standoff has drawn global attention, as worldwide demand for Amazon’s services soars because confined consumers can no longer shop in stores.
Amazon temporarily shut all its French distribution centers last week, after a lower court ordered it to stop selling non-essential goods while it works out new safety measures with staff. Amazon argued that it was too complicated to separate out its activities, and appealed.