AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT News Staff

Martial law imposed in parts of Myanmar city as deaths rise

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar’s ruling junta has declared martial law in parts of the country’s largest city as security forces killed more protesters in an increasingly lethal crackdown on resistance to last month’s military coup.

At least 38 people were killed Sunday and dozens were injured in one of the deadliest days of the crackdown, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an independent group tracking the toll of the violence.

Most of those killed — 34 — were in Yangon, where two townships, Hlaing Thar Yar and neighbouring Shwepyitha were being placed under martial law.

Video from Hlaing Thar Yar township showed people running away after gunfire was heard. Those fleeing carried one injured person and tried to revive two others, one who seemed to be dead or dying, the footage from independent Democratic Voice of Burma showed.

Hlaing Thar Yar was the location of 22 civilian deaths Sunday, according to the aid group, which said more than a dozen civilians were wounded and described a large number of junta forces engaged in the township.

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Survivors struggle as scientists race to solve COVID mystery

There was no reason to celebrate on Rachel Van Lear’s anniversary. The same day a global pandemic was declared, she developed symptoms of COVID-19. A year later, she’s still waiting for them to disappear. And for experts to come up with some answers.

The Texas woman is one of thousands of self-described long-haulers, patients with symptoms that linger or develop out of the blue months after they first became infected with coronavirus. Hers first arrived March 11, 2020.

The condition affects an uncertain number of survivors in a baffling variety of ways.

“We’re faced with a mystery,” said Dr. Francis Collins, chief of the National Institutes of Health.

Is it a condition unique to COVID-19, or just a variation of the syndrome that can occur after other infections? How many people are affected, and how long does it last? Is it a new form of chronic fatigue syndrome — a condition with similar symptoms?

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Who run the Grammys? Women. Beyoncé, Swift make history.

NEW YORK (AP) — Beyoncé and Taylor Swift had a historic night at the Grammys, where the top four awards were won by female acts.

Swift became the first female performer to win album of the year three times and Beyoncé, with her 28th win, became the most decorated woman in Grammy history. She also ties Quincy Jones for second place among all Grammy winners.

H.E.R. won song of the year and Billie Eilish picked up record of the year, telling the audience that best new artist winner Megan Thee Stallion deserved the honour.

Though women have won all top four awards in the past – including Eilish’s sweep last year – it marked the first time four separate and solo women won the top four honours.

“We just want to thank the fans,” said Swift, who won the top prize with “folklore” and previously won album of the year with her albums “Fearless” and “1989.”

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Pelosi pledges swift work on major infrastructure package

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday pledged swift work by Congress on a job and infrastructure package that will be “fiscally sound,” but said she isn’t sure whether the next major item on President Joe Biden’s agenda will attract Republican backing.

Fresh off a major legislative victory on the $1.9 trillion virus relief package that passed on near-party lines, Democrats face long and tough battles ahead in winning GOP endorsement of the administration’s plans.

Road- and bridge-building legislation has a long history of support from both parties as lawmakers aim to deliver on projects back home. But Republicans disagree with Biden’s focus on the environment and the possibility of financing any program with debt after the government borrowed heavily to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Building roads and bridges and water supply systems and the rest has always been bipartisan, always been bipartisan, except when they oppose it with a Democratic president, as they did under President Obama, and we had to shrink the package,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.

“But, nonetheless, hopefully, we will have bipartisanship,” she said.

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Record-setting Saints QB Brees announces retirement at 42

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Drew Brees era with the New Orleans Saints — marked by a Super Bowl celebration, raucous record-setting nights in the rebuilt Superdome and the undersized quarterback’s outsized role in a historic city’s rebirth — has ended.

Brees, the NFL’s leader in career completions and yards passing, has decided to retire after 20 NFL seasons, including his last 15 with New Orleans.

“Til the very end I exhausted myself to give everything to the Saints organization, my team and the great city of New Orleans,” Brees said in social media post on Sunday, 15 years to the day after he signed with the Saints.

“We shared some amazing moments together, many of which are emblazoned in our hearts and minds and will forever be a part of us,” Brees continued. “I am only retiring from football. I am not retiring from New Orleans. This is not goodbye.”

The post also included a short video in which his four young children — the three boys wearing No. 9 Saints jerseys — exclaimed, “Our dad is finally going to retire so he can spend more time with us!”

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Fauci: Trump should urge his followers to get vaccinated

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday he wishes former President Donald Trump would use his popularity among Republicans to persuade more of his followers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a round of interviews on the morning news shows, the government’s top infectious disease expert lamented polling showing that Trump supporters are more likely to refuse to get vaccinated, saying politics needs to be separated from “commonsense, no-brainer” public health measures.

Fauci said it would be a “game changer” for the country’s vaccine efforts if the former president used his “incredible influence” among Republicans.

“If he came out and said, ‘Go and get vaccinated. It’s really important for your health, the health of your family and the health of the country,’ it seems absolutely inevitable that the vast majority of people who are his close followers would listen to him,” Fauci told “Fox News Sunday.”

There was no immediate comment from the former president’s office Sunday.

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Reports: Cuomo vaccine czar’s loyalty calls raise concerns

NEW YORK (AP) — A longtime adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo leading the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been calling county executives to gauge their loyalty to the Democratic governor amid a sexual harassment investigation, according to reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times.

One Democratic county executive, who was not named by the newspapers, was so disturbed by the call from vaccine “czar” Larry Schwartz that the executive filed notice of an impending ethics complaint with the public integrity unit of the state attorney general’s office on Friday, the newspapers reported.

The executive feared the county’s vaccine supply could suffer if the executive did not indicate support for Cuomo, the Post reported.

Schwartz served as secretary to the governor from 2011 until 2015 and has advised Cuomo off and on since then. He returned last spring to assist the administration with the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Schwartz, who is working in a volunteer capacity to run New York’s vaccine distribution, acknowledged making the calls to county executives, but told the Post he did not discuss vaccines in the conversations.

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Pandemic redefines ‘public’ access to government meetings

It wasn’t long ago when a “public meeting” of the city council or state legislature meant the general public could show up to watch and, quite often, speak about proposals and perceived problems.

The coronavirus pandemic has put an end to that in many places, perhaps permanently altering the way the American public interacts with government.

A year after COVID-19 triggered government shutdowns and crowd limitations, more public bodies than ever are livestreaming their meetings for anyone to watch from a computer, television or smartphone. But in some cases, it’s become harder for people to actually talk with their elected officials.

An Associated Press survey of state legislatures found that most no longer allow people inside their chambers to observe, and some still do not allow people to testify remotely at committee hearings where legislation is shaped. At some city council meetings convened remotely, the only avenue for public input is a written comment.

“In a way, this is kind of helping move us toward a country where citizens can be more involved in their government through Zoom, and that’s a good thing,” said David Cuillier, an associate journalism professor at the University of Arizona who is president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition.

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Doja Cat, Cynthia Erivo led the fashion march at the Grammys

NEW YORK (AP) — Doja Cat went for neon feathers and a moto-inspired look zipped allll the way down and Cynthia Erivo stunned in a sparkling silver gown with gold accents by Louis Vuitton at the Grammys as music’s big night Sunday offered a luxe fashion moment for the stars.

Dressed in Roberto Cavalli, Doja’s revealing look included cat-claw zips on each arm and a feathered skirt.

“I want to be the cat lady, so let me be that,” she said.

Erivo’s gown included a low cutout at the front with a gold bib effect at the top and a gold belt, while DaBaby brightened up a drastically pared-down red carpet in a bright mustard and green floral suit from Dolce & Gabbana. Erivo didn’t hit the carpet, but she made a statement nevertheless. Her gown was adorned with more than 60,000 glass beads, crystals and sequins. She topped off the look with jewels from Tiffany & Co.

Dua Lipa also sparkled, in a pink sequin Versace gown with a butterfly motif. The body-skimming gown included cutouts at the hips and a sexy high slit.

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Life on the bubble: Brackets set for return of March Madness

The biggest unknown leading into a March Madness bracket reveal more than a year in the making had nothing to do with bubble teams or top seeds. Instead, it was the not-so-simple matter of which programs would be healthy enough to play.

Kansas and Virginia, two programs hit with COVID-19 breakouts over the past week, made it into the bracket released Sunday by the NCAA selection committee. It was a signal that both teams believe they’ll have enough healthy players to be ready for their tip-offs next weekend.

That there was any doubt about the Jayhawks and defending champion Cavaliers securing spots in the 68-team field was the most jarring reminder that the 2021 tournament itself will look and feel much different than any that’s come before.

“The one thing I’ve found out through this, probably as much as anybody, is expect the unexpected,” said Kansas coach Bill Self.

A year after the tournament was cancelled as the COVID-19 virus was mushrooming into a worldwide pandemic, all 68 teams will gather in Indiana for all 67 games beginning Thursday and ending April 3 and 5 with the Final Four. But all it takes is a single COVID outbreak to upend the finely calibrated beauty of that plan. Multiple outbreaks could crater the entire endeavour.

The Associated Press

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