Google says it won't build AI tools for oil and gas drillers

In this April 21, 2020 photo, a pumpjack is pictured as the sun sets in Oklahoma City. Google says it won’t build custom artificial intelligence tools for speeding up oil and gas extraction, taking an environmental stance that distinguishes it from cloud computing rivals Microsoft and Amazon. The announcement followed a Greenpeace report on Tuesday, May 19, that documents how the three tech giants are using AI and computing power to help oil companies.

STATE

AP-Google says it will no longer build custom artificial intelligence tools for speeding up oil and gas extraction, separating itself from cloud computing rivals Microsoft and Amazon.

A statement from the company Tuesday followed a Greenpeace report that documents how the three tech giants are using AI and computing power to help oil companies find and access oil and gas deposits in the U.S. and around the world.

The environmentalist group says Amazon, Microsoft and Google have been undermining their own climate change pledges by partnering with major oil companies including Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil that have looked for new technology to get more oil and gas out of the ground.

But the group applauded Google on Tuesday for taking a step away from those deals.

NEW YORK (AP) — Pier 1, the seller of wicker chairs and scented candles, said it will go out of business and permanently close all 540 of its stores.

The Fort Worth- based company said Tuesday that it was unable to find a buyer for its business after filing for bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

It will start going-out-of-business sales as soon as it can reopen stores that have been temporarily shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pier 1 traces to a single store in 1962 that sold beanbag chairs and love beads to hippies in San Mateo, California. It expanded to offer just about anything for the home, from lounge chairs to curtains, and it later adopted the logo: “From Hippie to Hip.” At its height, Pier 1 had more than 1,200 stores.

HOUSTON (AP) — A Catholic church in Houston has closed its doors after five of its leaders tested positive for COVID-19, including two priests who had helped celebrate public masses which had resumed earlier this month.

The closure and positive tests come after a priest from Holy Ghost parish, 79-year-old Donnell Kirchner, died last week. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, but health officials are determining whether he might have contracted the virus before he died May 13.

Kirchner went to an urgent care clinic and later to a hospital emergency room. But after being released, he went back to the home he shared with members of his religious order, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said Monday in a statement.

Masses at the church had resumed May 2 as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen the state in phases from coronavirus restrictions. Sunday masses had never exceeded 179 people, or about 20% of the church’s seating capacity, the diocese said.

NATION

O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The pause in U.S. executions during the coronavirus pandemic likely will end Tuesday with the scheduled lethal injection of a Missouri inmate for slaying an elderly woman nearly three decades ago.

Walter Barton, 64, would be the first person executed in the U.S. since Nathaniel Woods was put to death in Alabama on March 5. Soon after that, efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus shut down the U.S. economy and led to strict limits on social distancing, including inside prisons. Three states have put aside executions over the past 2½ months.

Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Monday that he had not heard anything to make him reconsider the execution, which he said would “move forward as scheduled.” A federal appeals court on Sunday overturned a 30-day stay of execution granted by a judge two days earlier. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon denied Barton’s attorney’s request for a stay of execution.

Gladys Kuehler operated a mobile home park in the town of Ozark, Missouri, near Springfield. In October 1991 she was found dead in her bedroom. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted and stabbed more than 50 times.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s chief of human exploration has resigned just days before the first astronaut launch in nearly a decade from Kennedy Space Center. The space agency notified employees of the news Tuesday.

Douglas Loverro, whose resignation took effect Monday, joined NASA last October. He is a former Defense Department and National Reconnaissance Office manager, specializing in space security matters for three decades.

NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs would only say Loverro decided to resign and, beyond that, the agency cannot discuss personnel issues.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A 74-year-old South Korean man died of apparent suicide at a U.S. immigration detention center after advocates said they unsuccessfully sought his release, citing a high risk of his being infected with the coronavirus.

Choung Woong Ahn was found unresponsive in his cell Sunday at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center in Bakersfield, California, and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.

The preliminary cause of death was self-strangulation, but the agency said the case remains under investigation.

Ahn, who had been held at Mesa Verde since Feb. 21, had diabetes, hypertension and heart-related issues, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which identified him as Choung Won Ahn. ICE rejected pleas from a coalition of attorneys to release him on bond.

WORLD

HAVANA (AP) — The recent seizure by Cuban police of hundreds of sacks of onions was a big news item on state television, a warning to suspected hoarders and speculators who seek to benefit from harsher economic conditions during the pandemic.

The broadcast was also highly unusual because government-controlled media in Cuba rarely report on police raids and other operations. Instead, in the last two weeks, state media have embarked on a campaign to show that there is zero tolerance for anyone attempting to cash in on the fallout from the spread of the new coronavirus.

The publicity campaign has also drawn criticism that suspects are not given due process, and highlighted problems with Cuba’s state production of essential goods and mixed messaging on private enterprise. It comes as the pandemic imposes even more distress and hardship on Cubans who were already used to shortages and long lines in their efforts to find basic necessities.

The onions were confiscated in Mayabeque province, and police said they acted against the suspected hoarders following tip-offs from residents.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A registry of death certificates in Mexico City suggests there were 4,577 cases where doctors mentioned coronavirus or COVID-19 as a possible or probable cause of death, more than three times the official death toll in the city.

The federal government acknowledges only 1,332 confirmed deaths in Mexico City since the pandemic began, less than a third as many as the investigation revealed.

The anti-corruption group Mexicans Against Corruption said in a report Monday that it got access to a database of death certificates issued in Mexico City between March 18 and May 12. It showed that in explanatory notes attached to 4,577 death certificates, doctors included the words “SARS,” “COV2,” “COV,” “Covid 19,” or “new coronavirus.”

The virus’ technical name is SARS-CoV-2. The notes the group counted included terms like “suspected,” “probable”, or “possible” role of the virus in the deaths. In 3,209 of the certificates, it was listed as a suspected contributing factor along with other causes of death, like pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ failure.