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Even as rural Texas lags in vaccinations, COVID-19 is diminished statewide

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas COVID-19 hospitalizations are at their lowest point in more than a year as the state surpasses more than half of eligible residents vaccinated against the coronavirus, a promising sign that comes months after Gov. Greg Abbott lifted his statewide mask order and moved to open businesses at 100% capacity.

Abbott has touted...Read more

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Gender-neutral restrooms give students options, make some feel more comfortable, supporters say

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Alex Maruskin didn’t feel comfortable using the men’s or women’s restroom at Hastings Middle School in Upper Arlington.

The 14-year-old would often use the women’s restroom or the restroom in the nurse’s office, but that raised some eyebrows.

“I always got weird looks in the (women’s) bathroom because I’m ...Read more

Yuri Gripas/Pool/AFP/AFP/TNS

Top Trump lawyers find Washington's revolving door turns slowly

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WASHINGTON — Ken Cuccinelli, who did the No. 2 job at the Homeland Security Department under President Donald Trump, was looking at a corporate opportunity after he left the administration when the work was suddenly pulled.

“They just decided they didn’t want Trump people,” said Cuccinelli, who declined to name the company. “It was ...Read more

Lars Hagberg/AFP/AFP/TNS

Trudeau resists business pressure to open US border for summer

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Nonessential travel between the U.S. and Canada will be banned for another month despite mounting pressure from businesses to ease COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Justin Trudeau’s border chief announced an extension of the current border rules until at least July 21 in a tweet Friday morning. The world’s longest undefended border has been ...Read more

Christina House/Los Angeles Times/TNS

New emergency system aims to help make LA beaches accessible to deaf visitors

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LOS ANGELES — Randy Dean's passion project started three years ago out of a beat-up plastic suitcase.

A strobe light screwed into a case, a 6-volt battery, a switch and Dean's desire to help the deaf and hard of hearing evolved into the Beach Emergency Evacuation Lights System.

On Friday, the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and ...Read more

Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News/TNS

Texas Gov. Abbott vetoes part of the state budget that funds lawmakers' pay

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AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed the part of the state budget bill that would fund the Texas Legislature Friday.

The action came after Abbott threatened to do so at the end of May after the legislative session ended abruptly when members of the Texas House Democrats left the chamber, causing bills to expire.

Abbott wrote in a tweet on...Read more

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Getty Images North America/TNS

Alaska agency proposes spending $1.5 million on plans to search for oil in Arctic refuge, even after Biden administration suspended leases

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Alaska agency that acquired federal leases to support oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain is proposing to spend up to $1.5 million to develop a multi-year seismic plan there.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority plans to consider the proposal on Wednesday. The Biden ...Read more

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Atlanta backs out of hosting Nobel Peace summit

ATLANTA — Dreams of Atlanta hosting the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in 2023 have been deferred.

Citing financial pressures brought on by the pandemic, the national racial and political unrest that made its way down to Atlanta and the withdrawal of major backers, including Rotary ...Read more

Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press/TNS

Delta variant cases soar in UK with more people hospitalized

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Cases of the highly transmissible delta COVID-19 variant almost doubled in a week across the U.K., with more people admitted to hospital.

The number of laboratory-confirmed and probable delta cases rose to 75,953 from 33,630 since the previous week, Public Health England said Friday. About 99% of sequenced and genotyped cases across the U.K. ...Read more

T.J. Kirkpatrick/CNP via ZUMA Wire/TNS

Biden's rejection of tax plan casts doubt on infrastructure deal

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WASHINGTON — The White House reiterated President Joe Biden’s opposition to indexing the gasoline tax to inflation to help pay for an infrastructure plan, raising new questions about the viability of a bipartisan compromise emerging in the Senate.

“After the extraordinarily hard times that ordinary Americans endured in 2020 — job losses...Read more

Kent Nishimura/TNS

In court, BLM says LAPD 'failed completely' to punish officers in protest abuses

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LOS ANGELES — Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and other protesters claimed in federal court Friday that the Los Angeles Police Department has "failed completely" to hold officers accountable for excessive force and other abuses during 2020's mass demonstrations.

Attorneys for the protesters made the claim in an amended complaint filed in their...Read more

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images North America/TNS

Racial, political tensions cited as Atlanta backs out of hosting Nobel Peace summit

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ATLANTA — Dreams of Atlanta hosting the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in 2023 have been deferred.

Citing financial pressures brought on by the pandemic, the national racial and political unrest that made its way down to Atlanta and the withdrawal of major backers, including Rotary International, organizers of the event have backed out...Read more

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/TNS

Biden says he doubts US bishops will deny him communion

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said he doesn’t believe U.S. Catholic bishops will adopt a policy denying him communion.

“That’s a private matter and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Biden told reporters Friday at the White House.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted Friday at their annual spring meeting to create...Read more

MATIAS J. OCNER/TNS

Orlando Sentinel to oppose ex-lawmaker's request to shield evidence in 'ghost' candidate case

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ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Sentinel filed a motion in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on Friday opposing an effort by former state legislator Frank Artiles to shield evidence in a criminal case against him alleging he paid another man to run as an independent candidate in a South Florida state Senate election.

It’s one of three key Senate races ...Read more

Tom Fox/TNS

Four huge power-plant upsets pushed Texas to brink of blackouts

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The nearly simultaneous shutdown of four gigantic power plants in Texas — capable of powering almost 1 million homes — drove the region to the brink of yet another energy crisis this week as temperatures soared, according to data analyzed by Bloomberg.

All told, generators across the second-largest U.S. state were either down for repairs or...Read more

Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images North America/TNS

Fauci wants COVID-19 'crushed' before return to research: 'It ain't over till it's over'

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WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci is waiting for COVID-19 to be “essentially crushed” before returning to his longtime work studying infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, he said in an interview with McClatchy on Friday.

“It ain’t over till it’s over,” Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said. �...Read more

Paras Griffin/Getty Images North America/TNS

Juneteenth is in its 156th year. Many Americans are just beginning to celebrate it

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Growing up in Philadelphia, Toyah Whitehead remembers the day in late June each year that brought crowds of Black residents to the streets and parks in celebration. There were block parties, cookouts, street performers, book sales and pan-African flags — three big horizontal stripes of red, black and green — but she never paid all that much ...Read more

GREG NASH/AFP/TNS

Fauci talks Gen Z mental health, COVID-19 vaccines at Penn Medicine event

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PHILADELPHIA — Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, spoke Friday at a Penn Medicine event about the effects — both physical and emotional — of COVID-19 on young people and adolescents, highlighting the importance of getting vaccinated.

“America is extraordinarily fortunate to be emerging from the very ...Read more

Virginie Kippelen/AFP/AFP/TNS

Georgia releases list of 102,000 voter registrations to be canceled

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ATLANTA — Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Friday made public the names of nearly 102,000 people who are at risk of having their Georgia voter registrations canceled, a warning before they lose their ability to vote next month.

The mass cancellations, called voter “purges” by their critics, target registered voters who moved or ...Read more

Lloyd Fox/TNS

16-year-old carjacking suspect struck by Baltimore police officer in car during foot chase

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BALTIMORE — A 16-year-old carjacking suspect was struck by a Baltimore police car this week during a foot chase, according to police video and a department statement.

Police said they were called just after 7 p.m. Monday to the 1800 block of Druid Hill Avenue in the Druid Heights neighborhood for an armed carjacking.

Police have not ...Read more