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Water cannon, tear gas used on vaccine protesters in Brussels

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Water cannon, tear gas used on vaccine protesters in Brussels

BRUSSELS  — Police fired water cannons and thick clouds of tear gas Sunday in Brussels to disperse people protesting COVID-19 vaccinations and government restrictions that aim to curb the fast-spreading omicron variant.

Police said the protest in the Belgian capital drew an estimated 50,000 people, some traveling from France, Germany and other countries to take part.

Protesters yelled “Liberty!” as they marched and some had violent confrontations with police. Video showed black-clad protesters attacking a building used by the European Union’s diplomatic service, hurling projectiles at its entrance and smashing windows.

A much smaller number of anti-vaccination demonstrators marched in Barcelona.

The protests followed demonstrations in other European capitals on Saturday against vaccine passports and other requirements that European governments have imposed as daily infections and hospitalizations have surged due to the omicron variant.

In Brussels, white-helmeted police riot officers repeatedly charged after protesters who ignored instructions to disperse. Police water cannon trucks fired powerful jets and snaking trails of gas filled the air.

A protest leader broadcasting over a loudspeaker yelled, “Come on people! Don’t let them take away your rights!” as police officers faced off against demonstrators who hurled projectiles and insults. “Go to hell!” shouted one protester wearing a fake knight’s helmet with a colorful quiff.

Brussels police said 70 people were detained and three officers and 12 demonstrators required hospital treatment.

Nearly 77% of Belgium’s population has been fully vaccinated, and 53% have had a booster dose, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Belgium has seen more than 28,700 virus deaths overall.

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Dylan Cease and the Chicago White Sox navigate traffic on the basepaths in a 3-0 win in Game 1 of a doubleheader

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Dylan Cease and the Chicago White Sox navigate traffic on the basepaths in a 3-0 win in Game 1 of a doubleheader

Dylan Cease had to deal with traffic in every inning of Tuesday’s start against the Kansas City Royals.

The Chicago White Sox right-hander made the big pitches each time.

Cease allowed seven hits and struck out nine in 5⅔ innings, leading the Sox to a 3-0 victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium.

“(The Royals) did a really good job of getting on,” Cease said. “There was a lot of traffic today, but fortunately I executed pitches with guys in scoring position pretty well and got some big strikeouts.”

Cease surrendered a season-high six runs in four innings in his last start Thursday against the New York Yankees. He bounced back, combining with four relievers for the shutout.

“He gave us all that he had,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “He got into the sixth with two outs and that’s outstanding.”

Cease faced challenges from the start, as Royals leadoff batter Whit Merrifield doubled in the first. He moved to third with one out, but Cease struck out Salvador Perez and Ryan O’Hearn to end the inning.

The Royals had runners on second and third with one out in the third. Cease again struck out Perez and O’Hearn.

“I have enough experience now to where I know when I’m doing too much and not enough,” Cease said. “It’s just staying the course and trusting it.”

The Royals came up empty again in the fourth when Hunter Dozier was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on a single. The play at the plate wasn’t close.

All three runs came in the fifth. Reese McGuire doubled and scored on AJ Pollock’s sacrifice fly to left. José Abreu made it 3-0 with a two-out, two-run double.

Abreu went 2-for-3 with a walk.

“Looking more like himself, isn’t he?” La Russa said.

Abreu fielded a grounder and beat O’Hearn to first for the third out of the fifth as the Royals stranded two more runners.

Cease exited after striking out MJ Melendez for the second out of the sixth on his 94th pitch.

“He worked hard,” La Russa said. “I didn’t want to push him there in the sixth. He gave us what he had. He worked out of some jams.”

Bennett Sousa struck out pinch hitter Michael A. Taylor with a runner on second to end the sixth.

Joe Kelly allowed a double and two walks to begin the seventh. Kelly bounced back, striking out pinch hitter Carlos Santana (Perez left with a left thumb sprain) and O’Hearn and getting Dozier to pop out to second.

“His command you can tell, he hasn’t been here,” La Russa said of Kelly, who was on the injured list April 4 to May 9 as he recovered from a right biceps nerve injury. “He’s got outstanding stuff. He’s a great competitor. He’s got great guts.

“You see that pitch he made on Santana and O’Hearn. … He’s tough as nails. When he had to, he made pitches. It’s the sign of a champion.”

The Royals went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and struck out 14 times.

“The way that I was taught to look at it is what did they have to hit,” La Russa said. “We pitched Perez (1-for-3 with two strikeouts) like the Hall of Famer he is. There were very few mistakes in RBI situations.”

Before the first game, the Sox selected the contract of pitcher Davis Martin from Triple-A Charlotte, added reliever Kyle Crick from Charlotte as the 27th player for the doubleheader, placed starting pitcher Michael Kopech on the paternity list and transferred reliever Garrett Crochet (season-ending Tommy John surgery) to the 60-day IL.

Martin, 25, made his major-league debut as the Game 2 starter. He is 4-1 with a 2.50 ERA and 41 strikeouts in seven starts between Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham this year.

He allowed two runs or fewer in four of his five starts at Birmingham before being promoted to the Knights on May 5. He is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and eight strikeouts in two outings with Charlotte.

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More free at-home COVID tests are now available as virus cases spike across US

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More free at-home COVID tests are now available as virus cases spike across US

Every household in the country can now order a third round of free at-home COVID tests as the highly transmissible omicron subvariants fuel a spike in virus cases.

The Biden White House has announced that people can get an additional eight free rapid antigen tests — bringing the total number of free tests available to each household since the start of the program to 16 tests.

“Good news, folks: You can order another round of free COVID-19 tests shipped right to your door,” President Biden tweeted on Tuesday.

Virus cases have been quickly rising as the omicron subvariants BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 spread across the country.

“As the highly transmissible subvariants of omicron drive a rise in cases in parts of the country, free and accessible tests will help slow the spread of the virus,” the Biden White House said in a statement.

To date, the administration has distributed about 350 million free tests across the country, in U.S. territories and at overseas military bases, with most tests delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. The third round of tests were purchased by the federal government earlier this year with funding from the American Rescue Plan. The ability to send out future rounds of tests hinges on funding that’s not in place yet.

“Due to Congress’s failure to provide additional funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response, the Administration cannot continue making the types of federal investments needed to sustain domestic testing manufacturing capacity, and this may jeopardize the federal government’s ability to provide free tests moving forward,” the Biden White House said.

“Today’s announcement underscores the Administration’s commitment to doing everything in our power to ensure the American people have the lifesaving tools they need — so they are prepared for whatever comes,” the administration added. “Congress must step up and act as well.”

Each order now includes eight rapid antigen COVID tests. The order of eight tests will come in two separate packages, each with its own tracking number. Packages will ship for free.

To order a round of tests, visit COVIDTests.gov. People are able to quickly sign up in less than a minute by filling out their name and address.

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Review: ‘His Name is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice’

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Review: ‘His Name is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice’

Two Americas collided in the few minutes that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, after a shopkeeper complained that the 6-foot-6 Floyd had passed a counterfeit $20 bill at a store.

According to the new book “His Name is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice,” Chauvin, a white, 5-foot-9 police veteran, had become a “cowboy” on patrol, a practitioner of rough policing tactics. He had grown up a child of divorced parents but attended good schools and found his way to policing after taking related college courses.

Floyd’s childhood was starkly different.

Floyd was a cheerful child, saying he wanted to “be someone” — a Supreme Court justice, for example.

But just surviving the drug-infested, poverty-stricken, violence-prone neighborhood where he grew up was an accomplishment of note. With better schools and a more stable neighborhood, it’s easy to envision a different adult passage for Floyd, who failed to pass the exit exam for high school.

He had gone to Minneapolis on the recommendation of a Houston pastor who noted Minnesota’s better education, medical care and rehabilitation systems for people with criminal records.

And Floyd seemed to thrive, until he fell back into drug use.

Floyd’s record of drug abuse, robbery and other minor crimes, plus his intimidating size, were offered as justification for Chauvin’s tactics to subdue the much bigger man. But it’s easy to envision a different life for Floyd that did not include a knee to the neck had he not grown up in a neighborhood infested with crime, illicit drugs and poor schools.

The authors, Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa, say in the book’s introduction that they don’t want to absolve Floyd of responsibility for his actions but rather are striving to analyze the policies that affected Floyd’s life.

And they do a masterful, thorough and even-handed job of this.

Floyd supporters say justice was achieved in Chauvin’s conviction but whether the case led to a national examination of conscience is tougher to answer.

What does seem clear is that George Floyd’s name will be remembered as a prominent casualty of the racial and economic gulf in America.

He did as he said as a child “become someone,” although not in the way he had hoped but powerfully nonetheless, prompting Americans to think hard about race and policing in America.

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