Gunman dead, 2 officers hurt in Arkansas shooting

FORREST CITY, Ark. (AP) — Two police officers were wounded and a gunman was killed Monday morning in an exchange of gunfire at a Walmart store in Forrest City in eastern Arkansas, authorities said.

Forrest City Police Chief Deon Lee said one of the officers was taken to a hospital about 45 miles to the east in Memphis where he was in surgery, and the initial prognosis is “he’s going to be OK.”

The officers responded to the Walmart after someone called police to report a man who was making threats and was “kind of talking out of his head” Lee said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Lee identified the injured officers as Lt. Eric Varner and Detective Eugene Watlington. Both are assigned to the criminal investigation department and neither was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, Lee said.

The mayor heaped praise on the officers.

“Due to their heroism and quick response, no civilians were injured,” Forrest City Mayor Cedric Williams said.

Walmart spokesman Scott Pope said the company was helping with the police investigation but declined further comment. Walmart is based in Bentonville, Arkansas. T he Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division was investigating the shooting. Buttigieg, Sanders campaigns request Iowa recanvass

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders’ and Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaigns filed requests Monday for a partial recanvass of the results of Iowa’s Democratic caucuses.

The Sanders campaign cited “mathematical errors and inconsistencies” in more than two dozen locations that it says would change the results if amended. And the Buttigieg campaign requested the party check the results in 66 precincts.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said Monday that the party is reviewing the requests and will respond with next steps within the next 48 hours.

On Sunday, the state party released updated caucus results that gave the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor a lead over Sanders of two state delegate equivalents out of 2,152 counted, or 0.09 percentage points.

Iowa awards 41 national delegates in its caucuses. As it stands, Buttigieg has 13 and Sanders has 12. Trailing behind are Elizabeth Warren with eight, Joe Biden with six and Amy Klobuchar with one.

The 41st and final delegate from Iowa will go to the overall winner. While the state party said Sunday that it belongs to Buttigieg, the caucus won’t formally come to an end until the campaigns’ requested recanvass — and any potential recount to follow — is complete.

The Sanders campaign has outlined 25 precincts and three satellite caucuses where it believes correcting faulty math could swing the delegate allocation in Sanders’ favor and deliver him, not Buttigieg, that final delegate. Buttigieg’s campaign, in response to Sanders’ move, submitted a recanvass request for dozens more precincts that they say would net them an even bigger advantage and keep the remaining delegate in Buttigieg’s hands.

Ban on treatments for transgender kids fails in South Dakota

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Legislation aimed at stopping South Dakota physicians from providing puberty blockers and gender confirmation surgery to transgender children under 16 failed to get enough support Monday in a Senate committee.

A Republican-dominated Senate committee voted 5-2 to kill the proposal, likely ensuring the issue won’t be considered by the Legislature again this year.

Proponents already had amended the bill to get rid of criminal charges for doctors who provide gender confirmation treatments, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery. But it would have allowed children to sue if they later regretted the treatments.

Conservative lawmakers in nearly a dozen other states, including South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky and New Hampshire, are pushing similar proposals. The measure had gained the most traction in South Dakota, where the House recently passed it.

But some Republican senators and GOP Gov. Kristi Noem had expressed concerns and questioned whether the Legislature should be delving into the issue.

LGBT advocates and Democrats argued that the proposal would have stopped children with gender dysphoria from receiving medically necessary health care that improves their mental health. They demonstrated outside the Capitol before Monday’s Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting.

Quinncy Parke, a 17-year-old transgender teenager, testified before the committee and had one word to describe the feeling of seeing the bill die: “ecstatic.”

“It’s gone,” Parke said. “I don’t have to worry about it until next year.”

Proponents of the bill maintained that the treatments are harmful.

Rep. Fred Deutsch, a Florence Republican who introduced the bill, said the testimony and debate had raised awareness about the potential side effects and highlighted the doubts of some doctors about the long-term mental health benefits of such treatments.

Parke said that Deutsch crafted the bill to “fuel confusion” about gender confirmation treatments.

Oscars viewership plunges to record low with 2020 awards

NEW YORK (AP) — Without a host or a great deal of pizzazz, ABC’s telecast of the Academy Awards reached its smallest audience ever of 23.6 million viewers.

The Nielsen company said Sunday night’s audience was down 20 percent from a year ago. The previous low-water mark for the Oscars was the 26.5 million people who watched in 2018.

The Academy Awards honored “Parasite” as best picture. While that made history as the first-ever foreign language film to win the top award, it was clearly not an audience-grabber. The Oscars were held sooner in the year than usual, and that may have prevented the show from building buzz.

“It was too predictable, too white and too boring,” said Tom O’Neil, founder of Goldderby.com, a website devoted to awards show news.

The actors who took the four biggest prizes — Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern — had also swept previous awards, so there were few surprises and few indelible moments, he said on Monday.

“The only suspense of the evening was for best picture, and the average viewer hadn’t seen ‘Parasite’ or ‘1917,’ so they weren’t emotionally invested,” O’Neil said.

For the second straight year, the Oscars went hostless, opening with a rousing production number from Janelle Monae and a crisp comic monologue with Steve Martin and Chris Rock. But a handful of critics felt the lack of host was a handicap this year.