Tuesday morning news – March 2, 2021

First J&J vaccine doses roll out » A truck carrying the first shipment of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine rolled away from a distribution center in Kentucky on Monday. 

AUDIO: [Sound of shipping]

Employees cheered as the UPS truck drove off. 

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zeints said 4 million doses are shipping right now…

ZIENTS: The supply will be limited for the next couple of weeks. The company then expects to deliver approximately 16 million additional doses by the end of March. 

The CDC said Monday that it does not recommend any of the three vaccines now in use in the United States over another. 

Studies showed the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be 85 percent effective against serious illness. And the company’s CEO Alex Gorsky said more importantly… 

GORSKY: It kept all the patients out of the hospital and from dying, even against these new and really challenging variants. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is warning that those variants could wipe out the country’s progress against the virus if we let our guard down. She urged states and the public not to prematurely relax safety measures. 

NY attorney general to control sexual harassment inquiry of Gov. Cuomo » New York’s attorney general will oversee in investigation into sexual harassment claims against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Two women who worked for the Democratic governor have accused him of harassment. And Cuomo this week acknowledged that his behavior toward the women may have been inappropriate. But he said his accusers misinterpreted his actions as unwanted flirtation.

He added—quote—“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended.” 

He said he will cooperate with a sexual harassment investigation controlled by state Attorney General Letitia James. 

James, also a Democrat, is expected to deputize an outside law firm for a—quote—”a rigorous and independent investigation.”

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

White House: U.S. remains open to new talks with Iran » The White House says President Biden remains ready to negotiate with Iran. That after Iranian leaders rejected an offer from the European Union to host a new round of nuclear talks. 

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday…

PSAKI: We were disappointed in Iran’s response. We remain ready to re-engage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with JCPOA commitments. 

Iran began restricting international inspections last week, but under a last-minute deal with the United Nation’s atomic watchdog, inspectors retained some access. 

Rafael Grossi is director-general of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency—the IAEA. He said access is severely limited. 

GROSSI: To give you an example, if I wanted to go to a place where I want to go and it’s not part of the declared sites and I have a doubt about—I cannot. So it’s a huge loss. 

He said inspectors might keep track of the quantity of enriched uranium in Iran, but they can’t do much more than that. Grossi said IAEA inspections should not be used as a bargaining chip. 

Iran has maintained that the United States must drop economic sanctions before it will agree to new nuclear talks. 

Texas AG suing electric provider » Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday he’s suing an electric provider for passing along massive bills to its customers during last month’s storm. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Texas electricity provider Griddy charges $10 a month to give customers a way to pay wholesale prices instead of a fixed rate. 

But during last month’s historic winter freeze, wholesale electricity prices skyrocketed. And many Griddy customers stood stunned next to their mailboxes when their power bills arrived. 

State Attorney General Ken Paxton said “Griddy misled Texans and signed them up for services which, in a time of crisis” cost individual Texans thousands of dollars. 

The lawsuit seeks refunds for customers. 

Meanwhile the organization that oversees the state’s power grid, known as ERCOT, just shifted about 10,000 Griddy customers to other utilities.

Griddy said in a statement that ERCOT—quote—“took our members and have effectively shut down” the company. 

Griddy insists it has been transparent “at every step.”

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown. 

Myanmar army announces more charges against Aung San Suu Kyi » Police in Myanmar’s biggest city fired tear gas at defiant protesters who poured  into the streets again on Monday. 

AUDIO: [Protests]

Demonstrators in Yangon continued to protest last month’s coup, despite reports that security forces had killed at least 18 people a day earlier.

And the army has leveled several new charges against the country’s top political leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. She’s been under house arrest since the Feb. 1st coup. The military originally held her on charges of illegally importing walkie talkies. 

The army is now accusing her of inciting unrest. That charge carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison. She also faces a secondary charge related to the walkie talkies. 

The United States and most of the Western world have called on the military to release Suu Kyi and other political captives.

(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, Pool) An employee with the McKesson Corporation packs a box of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine into a cooler for shipping from their facility in Shepherdsville, Ky., Monday, March 1, 2021. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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