Hair weaves from Chinese prison camps seized

NEW YORK — Federal authorities in New York on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials told The Associated Press that 13 tons of hair products worth an estimated $800,000 were in the shipment.

This is the second time this year that CBP has slapped one of its rare detention orders on shipments of hair weaves from China, based on suspicions that people making them face human rights abuses. The orders are used to hold shipping containers at the U.S. ports of entry until the agency can investigate claims of wrongdoing.

Russian voters agree to let Putin seek 2 more terms

MOSCOW — Russian voters approved changes to the constitution that will allow President Vladimir Putin to potentially hold power until 2036, but the weeklong plebiscite that concluded Wednesday was tarnished by widespread reports of pressure on voters and other irregularities.

With three-fourths of all precincts counted, 77.6% voted for the constitutional amendments, according to election officials.

A massive propaganda campaign and the opposition’s failure to mount a coordinated challenge helped Putin get the result he wanted, but the plebiscite could end up eroding his position because of the unconventional methods used to boost participation and the dubious legal basis for the balloting.

Pfizer reports encouraging, early vaccine test results

The first of four experimental COVID-19 vaccines being tested by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech showed encouraging results in very early testing of 45 people, the companies said Wednesday.

Study volunteers given either a low or medium dose, in two shots about a month apart, had immune responses in the range expected to be protective, when compared to some COVID-19 survivors, according to the preliminary results.

Side effects were typical for vaccines, mostly pain at the injection site and fever. The report has been submitted for publication in a scientific journal but not yet reviewed.

Health experts slam U.S. deal for large supply of virus drug

LONDON — Public health experts on Wednesday criticized the U.S. for securing a large supply of the only drug licensed so far to treat COVID-19.

The U.S. government announced this week that it had an agreement with Gilead Sciences to make the bulk of their production of remdesivir available to Americans for the next three months. The Department of Health and Human Services said it had secured 500,000 treatments through September, which amounts to all but 10% of production in August and September.

Until now, Gilead had donated the drug. That ended Tuesday and Gilead this week set the price for new shipments. In 127 poor or middle-income countries, Gilead is allowing generic makers to supply the drug at much lower prices.

Weinstein reaches tentative $19M deal with accusers

NEW YORK — Harvey Weinstein and his former studio’s board have reached a nearly $19 million settlement with dozens of his sexual misconduct accusers, New York state’s attorney general and lawyers in a class-action lawsuit said Tuesday.

The agreement was announced by New York Attorney General Letitia James and Chicago attorney Elizabeth A. Fegan.

The deal, if approved by judges in federal courts, would permit accusers to claim from $7,500 to $750,000 from the $18.8 million settlement.

Richmond orders removal of rebel statues on city land

RICHMOND, Va. — The mayor of Richmond, Va., on Wednesday ordered the immediate removal of all Confederate statues on city land, saying he was using his emergency powers to speed up the healing process for the former capital of the Confederacy amid weeks of protests over police brutality and racial injustice. Within hours, a towering statue of a Confederate general was hoisted from its base.

The decision came weeks after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the removal of the most prominent and imposing Confederate statue along Richmond’s Monument Avenue, that of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which sits on state land. The removal of the Lee statue has been stalled pending the resolution of two lawsuits.

On city land along the avenue, work crews removed a statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson on Wednesday afternoon after spending several hours carefully attaching a harness to the massive figure and using power tools to remove the hooves of the statue’s carved horse from the base.

Man sues after spending childhood in prison

A Pennsylvania man is suing a handful of retired state police investigators and officials alleging malicious prosecution after he spent most of his childhood in prison for the shotgun killing of his father’s pregnant fiance before the state Supreme Court overturned his conviction.

Jordan Brown was 11 years old when he was arrested in the 2009 New Beaver, Penn., killing of 26-year-old Kenzie Houk and her unborn child. He was almost 21 when Pennsylvania’s highest court said prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to support a conviction.

But in the complaint filed in federal district court Wednesday, Brown and his attorneys say state police investigators manipulated interviews, evidence and procedures to push the narrative that Brown had killed his soon-to-be stepmom.

Man sentenced to life in 1980 killing of Colo. intern

A Florida man was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday for killing a college student from Massachusetts working as a Denver radio station intern 40 years ago, a cold case solved with the help of DNA profiles shared by relatives online.

James Curtis Clanton, a truck driver from Lake Butler, Fla., was arrested in December and pleaded guilty in February in the 1980 stabbing death of Helene Pruszynski, 21, a Wheaton College student from Hamilton, Mass.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Wilcox said Clanton was on parole for a rape in Arkansas when he killed Pruszynski.

— The Associated Press