WORLD NEWS IN BRIEF
Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine will remain in limbo a while longer after U.S. health advisers told the government Wednesday that they need more evidence to decide if a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot - and if so, how big the potential risk really is.
The reports are exceedingly rare - six cases out of more than 7 million U.S. inoculations with the one-dose vaccine. But the government recommended a pause in J&J vaccinations this week, not long after European regulators declared that such clots are a rare but possible risk with the AstraZeneca vaccine, a shot made in a similar way but not yet approved for use in the U.S.
At an emergency meeting, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrestled with the fact that the U.S. has enough vaccine alternatives to do without the J&J vaccine for a time, but other countries anxiously awaiting the one-and-done shot may not.
One committee member, Dr. Grace Lee, was among those who advocated tabling a vote. She echoed concerns about getting more data to better understand the size of the risk and whether it was greater for any particular group of people.
"I continue to feel like we're in a race against time and the variants, but we need to (move forward) in the safest possible way," said Lee, of Stanford University.
BROOKLYN CENTER, MINN.
Former Minnesota cop charged in shooting of Black motorist
A white former suburban Minneapolis police officer was charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter for killing 20-year-old Black motorist Daunte Wright in a shooting that ignited days of unrest and clashes between protesters and police.
The charge against former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter was filed three days after Wright was killed during a traffic stop and as the nearby murder trial progresses for the ex-officer charged with killing George Floyd last May.
The former Brooklyn Center police chief has said that Potter, a 26-year veteran and training officer, intended to use her Taser on Wright but fired her handgun instead. However, protesters and Wright's family members say there's no excuse for the shooting and that it shows how the justice system is tilted against Blacks, noting Wright was stopped for expired car registration and ended up dead.
"Certain occupations carry an immense responsibility and none more so than a sworn police officer," Imran Ali, Washington County assistant criminal division chief, said in a statement announcing the charge against Potter. "(Potter's) action caused the unlawful killing of Mr. Wright and she must be held accountable."
Ali said he and Washington County Attorney Pete Orput met with Wright's family and assured them that no resources would be spared in prosecuting the case.
Daunte Wright: Doting dad, ballplayer, slain by police
Daunte Wright became a father while he was still a teenager, and seemed to relish the role of a doting young dad, his family and friends said.
A family photo shows a beaming Wright holding his son, Daunte Jr., at his first birthday party. Another shows Wright, wearing a COVID-19 face mask and his son wearing a bib with the inscription, "ALWAYS HUNGRY."
Wright, 20, was fatally shot Sunday by a police officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. As protesters and civil rights advocates called for justice and police accountability over his death, his family asked people to also remember his life.
"He had a 2-year-old son that's not going to be able to play basketball with him. He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much," his mother, Katie Wright, said Tuesday on "Good Morning America."
His aunt, Naisha Wright, said he was "a lovable young man."
Biden to pull US troops from Afghanistan, end 'forever war'
President Joe Biden said Wednesday he will withdraw remaining U.S. troops from the "forever war" in Afghanistan, declaring that the Sept. 11 terror attacks of 20 years ago cannot justify American forces still dying in the nation's longest war.
His plan is to pull out all American forces- numbering 2,500 now - by this Sept. 11, the anniversary of the attacks, which were coordinated from Afghanistan. Soon after Biden made his announcement, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels said the alliance had agreed to withdraw its roughly 7,000 forces from Afghanistan, matching Biden's decision to begin a final pullout by May 1.
The U.S. cannot continue to pour resources into an intractable war and expect different results, Biden said.
The drawdown would begin rather than conclude by May 1, which has been the deadline for full withdrawal under a peace agreement the Trump administration reached with the Taliban last year.
"It is time to end America's longest war," Biden said, but he added that the U.S. will "not conduct a hasty rush to the exit."
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Iran's supreme leader: Vienna offers 'not worth looking at'
Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday dismissed initial offers at talks in Vienna to save Tehran's tattered nuclear deal as "not worth looking at," attempting to pressure world powers after an attack on the country's main nuclear enrichment site.
The comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, came after a day that saw Iran's president similarly ratchet up pressure over the accord. European powers meanwhile warned Tehran its actions were "particularly regrettable" and "dangerous."
The talks already have been thrown into disarray by a weekend attack on Iran's main Natanz nuclear enrichment site suspected to have been carried out by Israel. Tehran retaliated by announcing it would enrich uranium up to 60 percent - higher than it ever has before but still lower than weapons-grade levels of 90 percent.
"The offers they provide are usually arrogant and humiliating (and) are not worth looking at," the 81-year-old Khamenei said in an address marking the first day of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Iran.
He also criticized the U.S. and warned time could be running out.
- The Associated Press