US and World News

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Scientists have found a dead Asian giant hornet north of Seattle, the first so-called murder hornet discovered in the country this year. State and federal investigators said Wednesday that it's the first confirmed report from Snohomish County and appears to be unrelated to the 2019 and 2020 findings of the hornets near the U.S.-Canadian border. A resident found the dead hornet and reported it. Scientists believe it's an old hornet from a previous season that wasn’t discovered until now. The large invasive insects pose a threat to honeybees that are relied on to pollinate crops. While not particularly aggressive toward humans, their sting is extremely painful and repeated stings, though rare, can kill. Read more

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Until a year ago, Portland, Oregon, was best known nationally for its ambrosial food scene, craft breweries and “Portlandia” hipsters. Now, monthslong protests following the killing of George Floyd, a surge in deadly gun violence and an increasingly visible homeless population have some questioning whether Oregon’s largest city can recover. City officials insist Portland is resilient as they launch a revitalization plan. It includes citywide cleanups of protest damage, encampment removals, increased homeless services and police reform. They're hoping to improve Portland's reputation and bring visitors back to its downtown. Read more

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U.S. stocks fell and bond yields rose on Wednesday after Federal Reserve officials signaled they may start easing off the acclerator on their massive support for markets earlier than previously thought. The S&P 500 was 0.3% lower in afternoon trading after a highly anticipated set of projections by Fed policymakers showed some see short-term rates rising half a percentage point by late 2023. The Fed’s chair also said it has begun talking about the possibility of pulling back on its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases meant to keep longer-term rates low.   Read more

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Two studies released Wednesday found that the nation’s housing availability and affordability crisis is expected to worsen significantly following the pandemic. The reports comes as the Census Bureau’s biweekly Household Pulse Survey found more than 4 million people are at risk of eviction or foreclosure in the next two months. The studies found the housing crisis is likely widening the housing gap between Black, Latino and white households, as well as putting homeownership out of the reach of lower class Americans. Both reports, one by Harvard University and another by the National Association of Realtors, call for government action through traditional measures like down payment assistance. Read more

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Phoenix guard Chris Paul has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and it is unclear whether he’ll be available for the start of the Western Conference finals next week. The Suns are not certain exactly how long Paul will have to be away from the team. The team says they'll update Paul's status on Saturday. That's one day before the earliest possible start of the Western Conference finals. Read more

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As case numbers decline and states reopen, the potential final stage in the U.S. campaign to vanquish COVID-19 is turning into a slog, with a worrisome variant gaining a bigger foothold and lotteries and other prizes failing to persuade many Americans to get vaccinated. State health officials say the slowdown in vaccinations was not unexpected but still concerning, particularly as the highly transmissible and potentially more severe delta variant of coronavirus spreads through the U.S. Read more

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Spacesuit problems have prevented astronauts from completing the installation of powerful, new solar panels outside the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough encountered a pair of spacesuit issues midway through Wednesday's seven-hour spacewalk. The interruption put Kimbrough and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet an hour behind. Then they had trouble trying to unfold the solar panel booms. The astronauts are supposed to venture back out Sunday. But it's not clear whether they'll wrap up work on the first solar panel or get started on a second one. NASA wants to reenergize the aging space station as demand to visit grows. Read more

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President Joe Biden has marked his first presidential summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin by giving his counterpart a pair of custom aviator glasses. Biden is so known for wearing aviator shades that he's sometimes parodied over them. Biden notably kept wearing his aviators while meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on Sunday. The aviators given to Putin are a brand manufactured in Massachusetts and designed for fighter pilots. Biden also gave Putin a crystal sculpture of an American bison made by a New York-based glass company. The Kremlin has not said whether and how Putin may have reciprocated. Read more

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Israeli airstrikes hit militant sites in the Gaza Strip, and Palestinians responded by sending a series of fire-carrying balloons back across the border for a second straight day. Wednesday's moves pose further tests of a fragile cease-fire that ended last month’s war between Israel and Hamas. The latest round of violence was prompted by a parade of Israeli ultranationalists through contested east Jerusalem on Tuesday. Palestinians saw the march as a provocation and sent balloons into southern Israel, causing several blazes in parched farmland. Israel then carried out the airstrikes, the first such raids since a May 21 cease-fire ended 11 days of fighting. More balloons followed.  Read more

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MIAMI — Royal Caribbean International is postponing for nearly a month one of the highly anticipated first sailings from the U.S. since the pandemic began because eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19, the company’s CEO said. Read more

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A St. Paul man has been charged with intentional second-degree murder for allegedly driving into a group of protesters in Minneapolis. Prosecutors say 35-year-old Nicholas Kraus was drunk Sunday night when he tried to “jump” a car that was being used as a barricade by protesters in the city's Uptown neighborhood. Thirty-one-year-old Deona Knajdek was killed. Kraus will make his first court appearance Friday. It's not clear if he has an attorney who can comment on the case. The demonstrators were protesting the June 3 killing of Winston Boogie Smith Jr. The 32-year-old Black man was fatally shot by federal task force members during an arrest on a weapons violation.  Read more

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The U.S. government has put an end to two Trump administration policies that made it harder for Central American migrants fleeing violence to qualify for asylum. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday that immigration judges should no longer follow the rules that made it difficult for immigrants who faced domestic or gang violence to win asylum. He said President Joe Biden ordered his office and the Department of Homeland Security to draft rules addressing complex issues in immigration law about groups of people who should qualify for humanitarian protection. The move could make it easier for Central American immigrants to win their cases in immigration court. Read more

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The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it may act sooner than previously planned to start dialing back the low-interest rate policies that have helped fuel a swift rebound from the pandemic recession but have also coincided with rising inflation. The Fed’s policymakers forecast that they would raise their benchmark short-term rate, which influences many consumer and business loans, twice by late 2023. They had previously estimated that no rate hike would occur before 2024. In a statement after its latest policy meeting, the Fed also said it expects the pandemic to have a diminishing effect on the economy as vaccinations increase, thereby allowing for more growth.  Read more

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General Motors will raise spending on electric and autonomous vehicles and add two U.S. battery factories as it gambles that consumers will eagerly switch from gasoline to the new technology. The announcements came as crosstown rival Ford said its entire Lincoln luxury brand lineup would be electric or gas-electric hybrid by 2030, including four fully electric vehicles. For months, the automakers have been one-upping each other with electric vehicle announcements, which have fueled stock price increases for both companies. GM wouldn’t disclose locations for the plants. But Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson said they would be similar to those under construction in Ohio and Tennessee. Those factories each will employ more than 1,000 workers and cost about $2.3 billion. Read more

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The ESPYS are returning to New York next month and actor Anthony Mackie will host the show that honors the year’s top athletes and moments. The show will air July 10 live on ABC from The Rooftop at Pier 17 at the Seaport. Last year’s show was virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic. It previously was held in Los Angeles for 18 years. The show’s first seven editions were held in New York, either at Madison Square Garden or Radio City Music Hall. Read more

The U.S. Education Department on Wednesday expanded its interpretation of federal sex protections to include transgender and gay students. The move reverses Trump-era policy and stands against proposals in many states to bar transgender girls from school sports. In a policy directive, the department said discrimination based on a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity will be treated as a violation of federal sex discrimination law. The decision is based on last year’s Supreme Court ruling protecting gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said  students “have the same rights and deserve the same protections” as workers. Read more

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Geneva can breathe a sigh of relief after hosting a U.S.-Russia summit. President Joe Biden is aboard Air Force One and is on his way back to Washington after Wednesday’s meeting at an 18th century lakeside villa. Russian President Vladimir Putin had already departed for Moscow aboard his plane by the time Air Force One took off. Both leaders flew out of Switzerland after holding solo news conferences after meeting for more than three hours. Security was tight and access extremely limited to areas around the summit site. Read more

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Britain’s government says it will require COVID-19 vaccinations for  nursing home workers in England, arguing that the need to protect vulnerable residents outweighed employees' right to choose whether to get the jab. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the new rules, as well as plans for a public consultation on extending the vaccine requirement to National Health Service workers. He described the vaccination mandate Wednesday as a sensible step to save lives. Unions have objected to mandatory vaccinations, in part because it treats those workers differently than the general population.  Read more

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A preliminary report by experts into the collapse of a Mexico City elevated subway line that killed 26 people placed much of the blame on poor welds that joined steel support beams to a concrete layer supporting the track bed. The city government hired Norwegian certification firm DNV-GL to study the possible causes of the May 3 accident, in which a single span of the elevated line buckled to the ground, dragging down two subway cars.  The construction defects threaten the reputation of Mexico's top diplomat, who was mayor at the time, and the country's richest man, who helped build it. Read more

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Delegates at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting have decided to consider an investigation of the denomination's handling of sexual abuse cases. More than two-thirds of them voted Wednesday to debate a proposal to investigate leaders' handling of sex abuse claims. The convention’s business committee had planned to refer the proposal to its Executive Committee, the same entity alleged to have failed in its response to abuse cases. More than 15,000 voting delegates are attending the two-day meeting in Nashville, the highest number in decades.  Read more

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Royal Caribbean International is postponing for nearly a month one of the highly anticipated first sailings from the U.S. since the pandemic began because eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19. The company said all 1,400 employees aboard the Odyssey of the Seas were vaccinated on June 4, but two weeks had not passed for their bodies to build protection against the virus. The ship was sailing from Fort Lauderdale July 3, but has now been rescheduled for July 31. CEO Michael Bayley says six of the employees who tested positive are asymptomatic and two are mildly sick. They have quarantined all crew members and continue routine testing. Read more

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Dallas Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson, instrumental in the club’s acquisitions of Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic, is leaving the organization after 24 seasons. The Mavericks say they mutually agreed to part ways with Nelson. The son of former coach Don Nelson joined Dallas with his dad in 1998. Nowitzki came in a draft-day trade a few months later. The German led Dallas to the championship in 2011. The Mavericks haven't won a playoff series since then. Doncic came in another draft-day deal in 2018. Read more

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Wild-card entry Jack Draper pulled off another surprising win at The Queen’s Club grass-court tournament, topping Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 7-6 (5), 7-6 (0) in a second-round matchup. It was the second ATP Tour match win for Draper, who eliminated third-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner in two tiebreakers in the first round. In other second-round matches, Cameron Norrie defeated fifth-seeded Russian Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 6-2 to set up an all-British quarterfinal against Draper, fourth-seeded Alex de Minaur beat John Millman in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3 in an all-Australian matchup, and Marin Cilic of Croatia defeated eighth-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3, 7-6 (4). Read more

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A new report finds that Latinas have left the workforce at rates higher than any other demographic and also have had some of the highest unemployment rates throughout the pandemic. That could spell trouble not just for a post-pandemic economic recovery but for the long-term stability of the country as baby boomers continue to retire. Before the pandemic, Latinas were projected to join the U.S. workforce in higher numbers than anybody else between 2019 and 2029. Now, their economic gains and upward mobility are in jeopardy. The report is being released Wednesday by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, a Latino-focused think tank. It was provided first to The Associated Press. Read more

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The White House believes it has an ally in the bond markets to make the case that inflation isn’t an economic threat. Republican lawmakers have interpreted a jump in consumer and producer prices as a sign that inflation is spiking at levels that will hurt growth. But the financial markets appear to be backing President Joe Biden’s case that any price increases are the fleeting result of the United States restarting after the lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The White House points to two key market-based measures of inflation that show no cause for alarm in the medium to long term. Read more

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Disney is celebrating this year’s Juneteenth with a new EP about the Black experience featuring actor and activist Yara Shahidi, Chloe Bailey of Chloe x Halle and rapper YBN Cordae, who is donating his proceeds to students attending historically Black colleges and universities. “Music for the Movement Volume III – Liberated,” out on Friday, is the third volume in Disney’s four-part series of EPs honoring Black lives and social justice under a joint venture between Disney Music Group and The Undefeated, ESPN’s platform for exploring the intersections of race, sports and culture. Read more

A Utah state attorney angry about being awakened from a nap has apologized for sending an expletive-laden email to an LGBT politician campaigning to be the first Asian American elected to the Salt Lake City council. Assistant Utah Attorney General Steven Wuthrich told Darin Mano he hated him and his family and threatened to end his political career. Mano was appointed to his post and is now on the campaign trail. Mano is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a father of four. Wuthrich said Tuesday he regrets the ferocity and language of the email. The attorney general's office has said it's examining the situation.  Read more

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken a formal step toward sending a bill to President Joe Biden that designates the site of the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in American history as a national memorial. The measure creates the National Pulse Memorial at the site of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. That's where a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others five years ago. Congress finished the bill last week. Pelosi took the routine step of formally signing it at a ceremony where she said lawmakers must finally approve stronger background check requirements and other gun curbs.  Read more

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Scott Brooks won’t be back with the Washington Wizards next season after general manager Tommy Sheppard announced the coach’s contract would not be extended. Sheppard said the Wizards will begin their coaching search immediately. Washington made the playoffs in three of Brooks' five seasons. They haven't won a playoff round since his first Wizards season in 2016-17. The Wizards were eliminated in five games in the first round by Eastern Conference top-seeded Philadelphia. Washington was 183-207 overall with Brooks as coach and ranked last or second-last in team defense each of the past three years. Read more