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TNS International Budget for Saturday, May 21, 2022

Tribune News Service logoTribune News Service 5/21/2022

Updated at 0300 UTC (11 p.m. U.S. ET)

Additional news stories appear on MCT-NEWS-BJT and MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.

TOP STORIES

Russia declares final victory at steel plant in Mariupol and fights for more territory in eastern Ukraine

UKRAINE-3RD-LEDE:LA — KYIV, Ukraine — With full control of the steel plant that transfixed the world for month and a tightened grip on Ukraine’s southern coast, Russia redoubled its assault Friday on the eastern industrial heartland known as the Donbas.

In the vicinity of Severodonetsk — the region’s easternmost city still in Ukrainian hands — at least a dozen people were killed and scores of homes destroyed, the regional governor, Serhiy Haidai, reported on social media.

1486 words by Patrick J. McDonnell, Henry Chu and Jenny Jarvie, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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Biden hails US-South Korea alliance on tour of Samsung plant

BIDEN-SKOREA:BLO — President Joe Biden called the U.S-South Korea alliance “a lynchpin of peace, stability, and prosperity” during a visit Friday to a Samsung Electronics Co. semiconductor complex as he seeks to bolster supply chains that reduce reliance on China.

“I’ve just seen how this plant makes the most advanced semiconductor chips in the world,” Biden said following a tour of the facility, his first stop after landing outside Seoul to start a five-day visit to South Korea and Japan.

807 words by Sohee Kim, Jennifer Jacobs, Jeong-Ho Lee, Bloomberg News. MOVED

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Federal judge extends block on Biden administration’s plans to lift Title 42 border restrictions

IMMIGRATION-ASYLUM-1ST-LEDE:LA — WASHINGTON — A Louisiana judge has extended his temporary block of the Biden administration’s plan to lift pandemic-related border restrictions on Monday.

In a ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Lafayette wrote that lawyers for 24 plaintiff states had established that a “significant threat of injury” would arise if Title 42, a 1944 federal public health statute implemented by the Trump administration at the start of the pandemic, were to be lifted. He cited federal government figures predicting as large as a threefold increase in daily border crossings.

1581 words by Andrea Castillo, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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CORONAVIRUS

Residents of 22 Michigan counties should wear masks inside, CDC advises

CORONAVIRUS-MICH:DTN — DETROIT — The residents of 22 Michigan counties should wear masks while inside, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises, up from 16 counties a week prior.

That includes Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties for the second week in a row, new data shows, as well as several new counties in the Upper Peninsula that previously were at lower levels. In total, more than 52% of Michiganians are advised to wear masks indoors.

1364 words by Hayley Harding, The Detroit News. MOVED

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Florida records nearly 100,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last 2 weeks

CORONAVIRUS-FLA:OS — Florida's positivity rate for COVID-19 tests has climbed to double-digits statewide over the past two weeks, while recorded deaths were up 17% and hospitalizations have also been climbing.

There were 99,630 new coronavirus cases recorded over the last two weeks among Florida residents, bringing the cumulative total to 6,058,248. With 270 more fatalities on record, 74,330 Florida residents have died.

346 words by Caroline Catherman, Orlando Sentinel. MOVED

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WORLD NEWS

Analysis: New approach, same problem: How to deal with Kim Jong Un

US-NKOREA-ANALYSIS:LA — WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump's relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un featured the former reality-star president at his most theatric: threats of "fire and fury," followed by splashy meetings, a trip to the demilitarized border with South Korea and exchanges of "love letters" with the authoritarian ruler.

Trump's efforts failed to slow North Korea's development of new nuclear weapons and missiles. Since taking office, President Joe Biden has taken a lower-key approach in the hopes of convincing Kim to take a serious stab at diplomacy. That strategy that has not yet born fruit, and U.S. officials are bracing for a possible nuclear test or missile test by Pyongyang while Biden is in South Korea or Japan. Just days before Biden arrived in Seoul, North Korea launched three short-range ballistic missiles into the sea.

902 words by Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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‘Breaking point’: Soaring inflation drives cuts to hunger-relief programs

INFLATION-WORLDHUNGER:BLO — A dearth of funding coupled with a surge in inflation is forcing hunger-relief programs across the globe to cut back on services just as the world’s poorest need it most, creating a situation that will erode human welfare and possibly plant the seeds of political instability.

Stresses on international food aid are happening both at the government level and for organizations including the World Food Programme, the group that just two year ago won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its hunger-fighting efforts. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further strained the global food market, which was already reeling from the pandemic and climate change. Wheat futures, for example, have surged more than 50% this year, making the grain less affordable for use in staples like bread.

941 words by Mike Dorning, Bloomberg News. MOVED

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Russia labels Kremlin critics Kasparov, Khodorkovsky 'foreign agents'

RUSSIA-CRITICS:DPA — MOSCOW — Russia has labeled Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov "foreign agents," a designation Moscow has previously applied to individuals and organizations who oppose the government.

The two were added to a list maintained by the Justice Ministry, TASS state news agency reported on Friday evening, claiming both were involved in political activities and were receiving funding from Kiev and Washington.

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As more doctors are kidnapped in Haiti, more hospitals protest by refusing new patients

HAITI-HOSPITALS:MI — The kidnapping-for-ransom of two more doctors in Haiti, where a pediatrician on Friday marked her 16th day in captivity, is prompting hospitals and physicians in the capital to close their doors and turn away new patients in protest.

Bernard Mevs, a facility that specializes in trauma and critical care, and the Hospital of the State University of Haiti, the country’s key public health care facility, both confirmed Friday that they are not admitting any new patients at the moment.

811 words by Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald. MOVED

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Up to 40 hurt, major damage as tornado rips through western Germany

GERMANY-TORNADO:DPA — COLOGNE, Germany — Dozens of people were injured as powerful storms tore through western Germany on Friday evening, causing extensive damage and bringing transport to a halt.

Between 30 and 40 people were injured, at least 10 of them seriously, as a tornado hit Paderborn in North Rhine Westphalia, officials said.

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As Mexico hits grim milestone, families of the 'disappeared' seek to be heard

MEXICO-DISAPPEARED:LA — MEXICO CITY — Families took to WhatsApp to quietly spread word about the demonstration they were planning.

They met on a recent Sunday in Mexico City, gathering at a roundabout on Paseo de la Reforma, the capital's signature boulevard.

A tree that had stood in the traffic circle, the Glorieta de la Palma, for a century had recently been removed. Soon the soil was studded with dozens of portraits.

They were faces of some of Mexico's "disappeared," people who walked out of their houses or offices one day to go about their lives and were never seen again.

912 words by Leila Miller, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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UNITED STATES

Analysis: Two vices Washington just can’t kick: Trump’s sway and reconciliation dreams

PRIMARIES-RECONCILIATION-ANALYSIS:CON — WASHINGTON — Vices and habits, in life and politics, can be tough to give up. This week offered examples aplenty.

Republicans just cannot kick their Donald Trump habit — nor will he let them. And Democrats just cannot quit the idea of an amorphous reconciliation package, perhaps their final shot at winning back voters who blame them for the economic malaise.

1483 words by John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call. MOVED

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Trump’s handwritten notes to flip election cited by his lawyer

CAPITOL-RIOT-TRUMP-NOTES:BLO — Former President Donald Trump’s suggestions on how to flip the outcome of the 2020 election were jotted in handwritten notes to the law professor who was advising him on the effort, according to a court filing.

John Eastman, the former dean of Chapman University law school, said two handwritten notes from the former president contained “information that he thought might be useful for the anticipated litigation,” according to the filing in federal court in Santa Ana, California.

358 words by Joel Rosenblatt, Bloomberg News. MOVED

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Summit of the Americas invites are out, but no final decision on excluding Cuba, White House says

SUMMIT-AMERICAS-1ST-LEDE:MI — In a signal that it might backtrack on statements about excluding authoritarian governments from the upcoming Summit of the Americas, the Biden administration is considering inviting a representative of the Cuban government after Mexico and other countries threatened to boycott the gathering of leaders around the hemisphere.

The Associated Press reported the plan would entail inviting an official from Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs but not the minister himself, Bruno Rodriguez, a frequent critic of the United States.

1042 words by Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald. MOVED

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There’s another high-profile vote count in Pa., but Republicans aren’t objecting this time

PASENATE-GOP-TALLY:PH — PHILADELPHIA — Another nationally watched campaign is coming down to a painstaking vote count in Pennsylvania.

But this time, there are some key differences.

1662 words by Jonathan Tamari and Jonathan Lai, The Philadelphia Inquirer. MOVED

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Caruso takes slim lead in LA mayor poll by rival’s supporters

LAMAYOR-POLL:BLO — Billionaire Rick Caruso has taken a narrow lead in the primary election for Los Angeles mayor, according to a poll commissioned by a group supporting his closest rival, Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass.

A survey released by the Communities United for Bass for LA Mayor 2022 on Friday showed 37% of likely voters backing Caruso and 35% favoring Bass, among a field of about a dozen candidates.

229 words by Sarah McGregor, Bloomberg News. MOVED

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Ex-NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announces run for Congress

NYHOUSE-DEBLASIO-1ST-LEDE:NY — NEW YORK — Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that he’s running for Congress after months of speculation over where he’d next set his political sights.

The ex-mayor made his campaign for New York’s 10th Congressional District official in a surprise appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, citing “polls” as the justification for throwing his hat in the ring.

633 words by Chris Sommerfeldt, New York Daily News. MOVED

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Hillary Clinton approved Trump-Russia leak to media, her campaign manager says

TRUMP-CLINTON-RUSSIA-LEAK:BLO — Hillary Clinton personally signed off on a plan in 2016 to quietly pitch to the media the now-discredited theory that computer servers at former President Donald Trump’s company had a secret communications link with a Russian bank, her former campaign manager told a jury.

Robby Mook, a witness in the trial of a former Clinton campaign lawyer charged with lying to the FBI, on Friday testified that he and others at the campaign “weren’t totally confident” in the veracity of the server data, but they sent it to reporters anyway a few months before the election.

601 words by Erik Larson, Bloomberg News. MOVED

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Georgia primaries will define a messy November election

GA-PRIMARY:AT — ATLANTA — A test of Donald Trump's influence in the most politically divided state in the nation. A marquee race for Georgia's top job that could set up a rematch between two archrivals. A chance for Democrats to prove the energy behind their 2020 success was no anomaly.

Georgia's swing-state status will be on full display during Tuesday's primary, when voters will decide party nominees for statewide, congressional and legislative offices that will define the November election and help set the national political agenda.

1194 words by Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. MOVED

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Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas urged Arizona lawmakers to push pro-Trump slate of electors

ARIZ-ELECTION-GINNITHOMAS:NY — Virginia “Ginni” Thomas reportedly personally urged Arizona lawmakers to push a rogue pro-Trump slate of electors after President Joe Biden won the state in the 2020 election.

The controversial wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sent emails urging the lawmakers to pick a “clean slate” of electors even though Biden was declared the winner by authorities, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

311 words by Dave Goldiner, New York Daily News. MOVED

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Senate Democrats record big April fundraising haul

SENATE-FUNDRAISING:CON — WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats’ campaign arm plans to report on Friday that it hauled in $8.2 million in April, slightly more than its GOP counterpart, as both parties gear up for potential record-shattering expenditures in this year’s midterm elections.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also will report holding $45.9 million cash on hand in its monthly disclosure to the Federal Election Commission, the group shared first with CQ Roll Call. The National Republican Senatorial Committee previously said that it would report holding $45.1 million, after raising $8.1 million in April, according to a news release. The NRSC’s FEC filing indeed reflected that amount of cash on hand.

525 words by Kate Ackley, CQ-Roll Call. MOVED

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John Fetterman 'feeling good' as he continues to recover, raises $1.6M within 24 hours of primary victory

PASENATE-FETTERMAN:PG — Two days after he became the Democrats' standard-bearer in one of the country's most important U.S. Senate races, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was continuing to rest in a Lancaster hospital, recovering from a stroke he had late last week.

Campaign spokesman Joe Calvello told the Post-Gazette on Thursday that Fetterman is "feeling good today, he is up and walking around and talking to hospital staff and doctors about his recovery plans and his campaign staff about his massive primary win."

469 words by Julian Routh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. MOVED

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John Fetterman’s nomination was a rejection of Conor Lamb’s electability claims

PASENATE-FETTERMAN-LAMB:PH — PITTSBURGH — As Conor Lamb greeted voters outside of an elementary school polling place, Johanna Stankorb put on her “I voted sticker” and shuffled out of his way.

“I voted for Fetterman,” she whispered to a reporter. “Not that I don’t think this kid has fight,” the 54-year-old nurse continued, “I just think right now we need someone who is gonna call it as he sees it ... and if somebody can beat the Republicans, it’s gonna be [Fetterman].”

1303 words by Julia Terruso, The Philadelphia Inquirer. MOVED

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Which GOP faction won the Idaho primary? Establishment, far-right candidates trade losses

IDAHO-PRIMARY:ID — BOISE, Idaho — Traditional Idaho Republicans won most top races in Tuesday’s GOP primary, while the far-right-wing of the party gained ground in other areas, especially the Senate, setting up new power structures that may reshape the Republican Party.

This week’s election was widely considered a referendum on the direction of the Idaho GOP. Years-long debates over COVID-19 public health measures, election security and the state’s role in challenging the federal government culminated in a tumultuous primary in which the term “RINO” (Republican in name only) was bandied about often.

1236 words by Ryan Suppe and Kevin Fixler, Idaho Statesman. MOVED

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Democrats feel burned by Kansas Supreme Court after years of GOP anger. Will they retaliate?

KAN-DEMOCRATS:KC — After the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a Republican-drawn congressional map that divides racially diverse Wyandotte County, Kansas State Board of Education member Melanie Haas took to Twitter to express her anger.

The court, wrote the Democrat who represents part of Johnson and Wyandotte counties, had “chosen to endorse racist and classist discrimination, along with gaslighting voters.”

1222 words by Jonathan Shorman, The Kansas City Star. MOVED

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Michigan elections chief Jocelyn Benson says Trump suggested she be tried for treason

MICH-ELECTIONS-BENSON-TRUMP:DTN — DETROIT — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told NBC News that former President Donald Trump allegedly said she should be tried for treason and "potentially executed" following the November 2020 election based on a source she wouldn't reveal.

The first-term Democratic secretary of state made the unproven claim to the network and said Trump made the statement during a White House meeting and that someone familiar with the meeting had told her about the comments.

618 words by Kayla Ruble, The Detroit News. MOVED

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Michigan lawmaker entangled in voting tabulator probe

MICH-VOTING-PROBE-RENDON:DTN — LANSING, Mich. — Michigan state Rep. Daire Rendon, a Republican who has previously claimed to have evidence of election fraud from information technology "experts," has quietly become entangled in a probe into unauthorized access to voting tabulators.

The Michigan State Police and Attorney General Dana Nessel's office have been investigating voting machine access in multiple counties in the battleground state for months. Their work started in Roscommon County, a northern Michigan area represented by Rendon, a Republican from Lake City.

932 words by Craig Mauger and Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News. MOVED

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NC’s top Democrats and Republicans rebuke the party dissenters who crossed them

NC-PRIMARIES-DISSENTERS:RA — North Carolina’s top politicians on both sides of the aisle sent their party’s dissenters a message in Tuesday night’s primary election results to fall back in line.

Three of the state’s highest-ranking Republicans made it clear that U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn had fallen from their favor. They threw their support, instead, behind state Sen. Chuck Edwards, who beat Cawthorn in unofficial results by more than 1,300 votes.

1616 words by Danielle Battaglia and Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan, The News & Observer. MOVED

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Inside the final hours of Madison Cawthorn’s reelection campaign

NCCONGRESS-CAWTHORN-FINALHOURS:RA — HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. — Election night at Madison Cawthorn’s campaign headquarters started with the vibe of a warm, summertime neighborhood get-together. Supporters were greeted with food trucks, coolers of drinks, and corn hole boards for the kids.

But there was something much more serious at stake: Would the first-term congressman win the Republican primary for a shot at a second term? Would his short time in elected office succumb to the myriad of controversies, or would the support of former President Trump carry him to the general election?

676 words by Avi Bajpai, The News & Observer. MOVED

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South Florida DEA agents charged in scheme to peddle info about drug investigations

FLA-DEA-CORRUPTION:MI — MIAMI — A current Drug Enforcement Administration agent and a retired agent — both of whom had worked in the agency’s Miami field office for years — surrendered Friday on corruption charges involving the payment of thousands of dollars in bribes for confidential investigative information about drug-trafficking suspects.

The two defendants were charged by federal prosecutors in New York because of conflict of interest issues in South Florida.

992 words by Jay Weaver, Miami Herald. MOVED

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot calls mass shooting a ‘horrible tragedy,’ blames guns being carried by young people

CHICAGO-VIOLENCE-2ND-LEDE:TB — CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday blamed too many guns on city streets and parents not keeping track of their children for a week of violence in Chicago that culminated Thursday night with a mass shooting outside a McDonald’s restaurant and CTA station on the Near North Side.

Teens and young people have fought “since the beginning of time,” Lightfoot said at an unrelated news conference, but “the difference now is too many of them have guns and this is exactly what we saw last night.”


Video: Missiles strike Kyiv on day of U.N. chief's visit (The Washington Post)

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1562 words by Paige Fry, Gregory Pratt, Armando L. Sanchez and Rosemary Sobol, Chicago Tribune. MOVED

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Chicago cop who shot 13-year-old carjacking suspect who was running away is relieved of police powers, officials say

CHICAGO-POLICE-TEENSHOT:TB — CHICAGO — The officer who fired a service weapon, wounding a 13-year-old boy who was running away on the West Side Wednesday night, has been relieved of police powers.

“He’s still an active member of the Chicago Police Department,” said Don Terry, police spokesman. “He’s not going to be patrolling the streets and he won’t be able to arrest people.”

320 words by Rosemary Sobol, Chicago Tribune. MOVED

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Pentagon’s spokesman Kirby is moving to a White House position

WHITEHOUSE-AIDE-KIRBY:BLO — WASHINGTON — Pentagon press secretary John Kirby will move to the White House to take a senior communications role with a foreign policy focus.

The decision to shift Kirby to the White House comes after the departure last week of press secretary Jen Psaki, who was replaced by her deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre. Unlike Psaki — who served as the State Department spokeswoman in President Barack Obama’s administration — Jean-Pierre doesn’t have a foreign policy background as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to dominate headlines and news briefings.

304 words by Justin Sink and Peter Martin, Bloomberg News. MOVED

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LAPD SWAT officer caught saying ‘happy hunting’ on bodycam before fatal police shooting

LAPD-BODYCAM-REMARK:LA — LOS ANGELES — As members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s SWAT team prepared to confront an armed suspect who had holed up in a downtown apartment building earlier this month, one of the highly trained officers offered a comment to the others.

“Happy hunting,” he said.

The suspect was subsequently killed by gunfire from two other SWAT officers. Their supervisors later discovered the remark while reviewing video of the incident from cameras worn by officers at the scene.

700 words by Kevin Rector and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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Elon Musk slams sexual harassment allegations as ‘utterly untrue’

MUSK-HARASSMENT:NY — Elon Musk doubled down on his innocence in a flurry of tweets early Friday amid allegations that he sexually harassed a SpaceX flight attendant in 2016.

The world’s richest man took to Twitter shortly after midnight to blast the claims, outlined in a Business Insider article published on Thursday, as “utterly untrue.” According to the report, based on documents and a series of interviews, SpaceX shelled out $250,000, which included a nondisclosure agreement, after its founder was accused of exposing himself and propositioning an employee for sex.

446 words by Jessica Schladebeck, New York Daily News. MOVED

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Elon Musk slams sexual harassment allegations as ‘utterly untrue’

MUSK-HARASSMENT:NY — Elon Musk doubled down on his innocence in a flurry of tweets early Friday amid allegations that he sexually harassed a SpaceX flight attendant in 2016.

The world’s richest man took to Twitter shortly after midnight to blast the claims, outlined in a Business Insider article published on Thursday, as “utterly untrue.” According to the report, based on documents and a series of interviews, SpaceX shelled out $250,000, which included a nondisclosure agreement, after its founder was accused of exposing himself and propositioning an employee for sex.

446 words by Jessica Schladebeck, New York Daily News. MOVED

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Oxford High seniors celebrate bittersweet graduation: 'We have held each other up'

MICH-SCHOOLSHOOTING-GRADUATION:DTN — CLARKSTON, Mich. — In the months after the Oxford High shooting, supporters often returned to an inspirational mantra: "Oxford strong."

They touted the resiliency of the students, staff and families proudly called members of the Oxford Wildcat family.

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State Supreme Court to Whitmer: Clarify need for a speedy review of Michigan abortion law

MICH-ABORTION:DTN — LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Supreme Court has asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to provide more information on why the justices should bypass a lower court and immediately consider her arguments challenging the constitutionality of the state's dormant abortion law.

The justices sent a series of five largely procedural questions in a Friday order to determine if Whitmer's arguments are ripe for consideration by the court.

497 words by Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News. MOVED

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Crumbleys want some evidence barred from Oxford shooting trial

MICH-SCHOOLSHOOTING-PARENTS:DTN — PONTIAC, Mich. — The pending trial for parents of the accused Oxford High shooter is five months away but their attorneys are compiling lists of objectionable evidence they want excluded from the trial they say will taint jurors' views and violate their clients' constitutional rights.

In the filing, it was revealed that accused shooter Ethan Crumbley wrote in his journal that he hoped the Nov. 30 shooting would lead to President Joe Biden's impeachment.

925 words by Mike Martindale, The Detroit News. MOVED

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Michigan teacher placed on leave after assignment placing Obama alongside primates

MICH-TEACHER-OFFENSIVE-LESSON:DTN — DETROIT — An Oakland County teacher has been placed on administrative leave after she assigned classwork that depicted former President Barack Obama alongside primates.

The picture assignment asked "Which of the following are primates?" and showed the head shot of Obama, America's first Black president, among several animals.

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Jury finds film Academy member guilty of child molestation

ACADEMY-MEMBER-TRIAL:LA — LOS ANGELES — A nine-person jury on Friday found Hollywood architect and film Academy member Jeffrey Cooper guilty of 3 counts of child molestation.

The 2-week criminal trial began May 9 at the Los Angeles Superior Court in Van Nuys, four years after Cooper was arrested and a grand jury indicted him on eight counts involving two victims. Cooper, a resident of Calabasas, pleaded not guilty.

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Dog goes home after saving California woman from mountain lion attack

CALIF-MOUNTAINLION-ATTACK:SA — REDDING, Calif. — Eva didn’t look too bad, considering three days earlier she nearly died in the jaws of a mountain lion.

The 2½-year-old Belgian Malinois on Thursday night walked out of the VCA Asher Animal Hospital in Redding with her owner, Erin Wilson, at her side.

1155 words by Ryan Sabalow and Xavier Mascarenas, The Sacramento Bee. MOVED

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Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge was severely decaying before collapse, 2021 report indicates

PITTSBURGH-BRIDGE:PG — PITTSBURGH — Rust corrosion so bad that there were holes in the steel support legs. A bridge deck so compromised by chlorides from winter salt that the concrete underside was decaying and water was seeping through to the steel below. Steel cross-beams “severed” from their connection to the support legs that hold up the bridge.

This was the grim condition of Fern Hollow Bridge in early October 2021, as documented by inspectors who were the last ones to review the bridge’s problems less than four months before it suddenly collapsed on Jan. 28, according to a copy of a partially redacted inspection report provided this week to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in response to a Right to Know request.

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Man sentenced to 24 years for setting Big Sur wildfire that killed 12 endangered condors

CALIF-BIGSUR-FIRE:LA — LOS ANGELES — A man who was convicted of setting a wildfire in Big Sur that burned 125,000 acres, seriously injured a firefighter and killed 12 endangered California condors was sentenced this week to 24 years in state prison.

Ivan Gomez, 31, who was sentenced Wednesday, was found guilty last month of setting the 2020 Dolan fire, cultivating marijuana in the Los Padres National Forest and 12 counts of animal cruelty tied to the condor deaths, according to the Monterey County district attorney's office.

327 words by Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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Secret retreats and a powerful ‘cabal’: Corruption probe reveals who really runs Anaheim

CALIF-ANAHEIM-CORRUPTION:LA — ANAHEIM, Calif. — A year and a half ago, two power brokers in Anaheim discussed a critical question on the phone: Who should they invite to a secretive gathering of Anaheim business leaders, consultants and politicians?

It would be a “retreat” at a local hotel, and one of them described their small group as a “cabal.” Attendance would be limited to people they could trust or, as they put it, “family members only.”

What the men didn’t know was that the FBI was listening.

The recorded conversations filed in court this week have thrust the city — best known as home to Disneyland Resort, Major League Baseball’s Angels and the National Hockey League’s Ducks — into the middle of a burgeoning public corruption scandal.

1595 words by Nathan Fenno, Adam Elmahrek and Gabriel San Román, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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Marijuana labeling system 'not an effective or safe way' to detail what’s inside the products, study finds

MARIJUANA-LABELING:DP — Marijuana product labels fail to capture “the chemical reality” of what people smoke, a University of Colorado study has concluded after analyzing 90,000 samples offered for sale in six states.

The widely used labeling system purported to predict effects of different “strains” — “indica” (relaxed high), “sativa” (energetic high), and “hybrid” — obscures the diversity of chemicals cannabis consumers inhale, according to the study, which was published Thursday in the online science journal PLOS One.

561 words by Bruce Finley, The Denver Post. MOVED

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Miami bars Haiti’s ex-president ‘Sweet Micky’ from performing at music festival

MIAMI-HAITIAN-MUSICIAN:MI — MIAMI — Miami police will not allow former Haitian President Michel Martelly, known as “Sweet Micky” on stage, to perform at a music festival in Little Haiti on Saturday, citing safety concerns amid pressure from community members who say the controversial politician and singer shouldn’t be welcome in the city.

Martelly, the president of Haiti from 2011 to 2016 and a popular musician, drew protesters at a 2018 show in Miami that, like the event this weekend, took place at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex in celebration of Haitian Flag Day.

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Iconic ‘Hope’ portrait of Obama sells at auction for $735,000

OBAMA-HOPE-PORTRAIT:TB — CHICAGO — The original Shepard Fairey “Hope” portrait of former President Barack Obama has sold in an auction for $735,000.

The iconic red and blue portrait was displayed in April as part of Expo Chicago by Heritage Auctions, which reported the sale Friday. It was created in 2008 by the Los Angeles-based street artist as a form of grassroots activism to support then-Sen. Obama’s first campaign. Fairey based the image on an Associated Press photograph by Mannie Garcia.

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San Francisco archbishop says Rep. Nancy Pelosi is not entitled to receive Communion

RELIG-CALIF-PELOSI-COMMUNION-2ND-LEDE:LA — Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone announced Friday that Rep. Nancy Pelosi will be barred from receiving Communion in response to her push to codify abortion rights, underscoring the nation’s widening divisions as the Supreme Court considers whether to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

His statement marks the latest clash between Cordileone and the House speaker over abortion rights, which Pelosi has championed.

1679 words by Christian Martinez, David Lauter and Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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Will heartbeat abortion ban take effect amid lawsuit? What the Idaho Supreme Court ruled

IDAHO-ABORTION:ID — BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court on Friday denied an Idaho attorney general request to vacate the stay on the state’s heartbeat abortion law, further delaying implementation of the new law.

The April 28 petition asked the court to reverse its decision to put the law on hold. The bill would ban most abortions and allow family members to sue abortion providers after electrical activity on an ultrasound can be detected, or after about six weeks of pregnancy.

305 words by Ryan Suppe, Idaho Statesman. MOVED

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Black motorists more likely to be pulled over by NYPD, new city data show

NYPD-BLACK-MOTORISTS:NY — NEW YORK — Black motorists are more likely to be pulled over by police than members of the city’s other racial groups, New York Police Department data released Friday show.

During the first three months of 2022, NYPD officers stopped 51,373 Black motorists — accounting for 29% of all the vehicle stops made in the five boroughs, the data shows.

377 words by Elizabeth Keogh, New York Daily News. MOVED

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Fraud suspect faked presidential pardon signed by Donald Trump, Florida officials say

FLA-FAKED-TRUMP-PARDON:MI — MIAMI — A creative Florida man is accused of fabricating his own pardon from former President Donald Trump — while he was under investigation for fraud, federal court documents report.

The ruse — which ultimately failed — is one in a series of frauds credited to Alexander Leszczynski of North Redington Beach in Pinellas County, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

350 words by Mark Price, Miami Herald. MOVED

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Boeing’s Starliner finally docks with International Space Station

SCI-NASA-STARLINER-1ST-LEDE:OS — ORLANDO, Fla. — Getting off the Earth is one thing, but inserting tab A into slot B in space is another.

Boeing solved that puzzle with its CST-100 Starliner capsule that launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Thursday, when it docked with the International Space Station on Friday night.

972 words by Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel. MOVED

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Colorado reports 13 cases of rare but serious mystery hepatitis in children

COLO-HEPATITIS-CHILDREN:DP — DENVER — Colorado has reported 13 cases of unexplained hepatitis in children since November, with about half appearing in the last two months.

Worldwide, about 450 children have been identified as having what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling acute hepatitis of unknown cause, and 11 have died. Five deaths and 180 possible cases in 36 states have been reported in the United States since October.

942 words by Meg Wingerter, The Denver Post. MOVED

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Wildlife officials truck Chinook salmon to cooler waters in emergency move to help them spawn

ENV-CALIF-SALMON:LA — In a stopgap measure to help struggling spring- and winter-run Chinook salmon spawn in the face of rising water temperatures and lower water levels due to climate change, state and federal wildlife officials in Northern California have begun trucking adult fish to cooler waters.

The spring- and winter-run salmon are genetically different, with the seasonal labels marking when adult fish travel from the Pacific Ocean back to the Sacramento River to spawn.

692 words by Christian Martinez, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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Monkeypox: Why LA is watching out for this rare but potentially serious illness

MONKEYPOX-LA:LA — LOS ANGELES — An increase in the number of cases of monkeypox, a rare but potentially serious viral illness, in Europe and a single case in Massachusetts is attracting increased attention from health officials.

While monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox, it has been nowhere nearly as contagious as its better-known cousin, nor is it anywhere nearly as contagious as the virus that causes COVID-19.

1539 words by Rong-Gong Lin II and Luke Money, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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BUSINESS

Baby formula shortage shows risk of US industry concentration

BABYFORMULA-INDUSTRY:BLO — Formula isn’t just for babies. April Crohare desperately needs it for her 14-year-old son, Charlie. Due to medical complications from a rare brain disorder called lissencephaly, his only source of nutrition comes from infant formula through a feeding tube.

The Crohares, who live in Maryland, had relied on Abbott Laboratories’ hypoallergenic brand EleCare to feed Charlie for almost half his life until the specialty formula was pulled off shelves in a February recall linked to bacterial contamination at Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan, facility. She’s been frantically searching for it — or another product her son can digest without getting sick — ever since.

1317 words by Madison Muller and Leah Nylen, Bloomberg News. MOVED

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ENTERTAINMENT

Don’t expect Alex Garland to explain what’s happening in ‘Men.’ But here are a few hints

MOVIE-MEN-EXPLAINER:LA — Like the previous films he’s directed — 2014’s “Ex Machina” and 2018’s “Annihilation” — Alex Garland’s new folk-horror film “Men” has a lot going on underneath the surface: themes of gender and toxic masculinity, ancient signs and symbols, literary references to everything from the Bible to Yeats.

But don’t expect Garland to unpack it all for you. The last thing he wants to do is mansplain “Men.”

1374 words by Josh Rottenberg, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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Broadway extends mask mandate through the end of June

STAGE-BROADWAY-CORONAVIRUS:NY — NEW YORK — Masking must go on.

Broadway’s theaters will continue to require that ticketholders wear masks at least through the end of June, the Broadway League said Friday.

611 words by Tim Balk, New York Daily News. MOVED

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R. Kelly’s sentencing in New York delayed ... again

RKELLY:TB — A federal judge in New York on Friday granted a two-week delay in sentencing for R. Kelly after his lawyer said experts she’d hired had been unable to get access to the singer in the federal lockup in Brooklyn.

U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly moved Kelly’s sentencing hearing from June 15 to June 29, writing in her order that it would be the last time she granted a change. The hearing had originally been set for May 4.

301 words by Jason Meisner and Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune. MOVED

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LA fire officials file building code complaint after fatal blaze at Hollywood recording studios

HOLLYWOOD-STUDIO-FIRE-1ST-LEDE:LA — LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles code enforcement authorities are investigating whether a Hollywood building where a fire broke out Thursday night, leaving one person dead and two injured, was approved for use as recording studios.

City Department of Building and Safety records show a complaint for “building or property converted to another use” was filed Friday and is pending scheduling.

1055 words by Nathan Solis and Gregory Yee, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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OP-ED

Commentary: In Somalia, business as usual is a bad idea for US interests

US-SOMALIA-COMMENTARY:TB — Somalia swore in a new president last weekend after nearly two years of delay as the incumbent clung to power. The next day, the administration of President Joe Biden said it would again deploy hundreds of troops in the country to help in the government’s counterterrorism campaign.

This suggested that the Biden administration values democratic progress and that the return of military assistance was offered as a reward. In fact, the decision had already been made. The announcement’s timing was for show. President Donald Trump’s troop withdrawal in early 2020 was as well, intended to satisfy a campaign promise to bring our troops home. Instead, they had merely moved to neighboring countries and continued to commute to Somalia for operations and training.

911 words by Elizabeth Shackelford, Chicago Tribune. MOVED

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Commentary: Religious and racial tolerance starts with all of us

TOLERANCE-COMMENTARY:BZ — I never knew minding my own business would cause such animosity from others.

It was the summer of 1996, and I stopped at a local rest area in South Carolina, while en route to Atlanta to watch the American basketball team compete in the Olympics. As I started to offer one of my daily Muslim ritual prayers on the grass, two glass bottles were thrown at my legs, with someone yelling, “Get the [expletive] out of here, you damn terrorist.” I had never been more scared and shocked in my life. As a sophomore in high school attending an all boys Christian school, I never felt threatened the way I did that day. Here I was, traveling 12 hours by car to cheer on an American sports team only to be asked to leave the very place I love.

795 words by Omer Awan, The Baltimore Sun. MOVED

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Commentary: Fight hate with speech, not with censorship

BUFFALO-SHOOTING-CENSORSHIP-COMMENTARY:TB — The man accused of killing 10 African Americans at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket was virulently antisemitic as well as a racist. Indeed, he blamed Jews for the so-called “great replacement” — a belief based on a racist conspiracy theory that nonwhite people are being used to replace white people.

“Jews are the biggest problem the Western world has ever had,” Payton Gendron wrote in an online manifesto posted before the attack. “They must be called out and killed.”

813 words by Jonathan Zimmerman, Chicago Tribune. MOVED

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Commentary: I was adopted, but I still wish my birth mother had been able to make decisions about her own body — whatever they would have been

SCOTUS-ABORTION-ADOPTED-COMMENTARY:BZ — I was born in July 1956 in Silver Spring, Maryland. When I was 6, my parents told me that I was adopted. There was a storybook about adoption gently explaining what it meant. I remember thinking, “but you’re my parents.”

My parents also said “don’t tell anyone.” They feared I would be stigmatized. Times were different then. It felt weird when people would say things like, “you look just like your mother.” Aside from being white, I didn’t look anything like either of my parents.

811 words by Melissa Falen, The Baltimore Sun. MOVED

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Commentary: Leave abortion law to the states? Just look at the Fugitive Slave Act to see how that will go

ABORTION-STATES-COMMENTARY:LA — Why not leave abortion to the states?

One of the most common arguments made by those who want to downplay the significance of Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s leaked draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is that it would not make abortion illegal. Rather, it would merely return the abortion debate to the legislative sphere, where it belongs. Individual states would pass their own abortion laws, as restrictive or nonrestrictive as their electorate wants them to be.

1050 words by Ronald J. Granieri, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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Ramesh Ponnuru: Great replacement theory is a grand delusion

PONNURU-COLUMN:BLO — When a killer expounds on his derangements, it poses a special challenge. We have to take his words seriously without, at the same time, taking them seriously; to understand their import without paying them respect. In the case of the mass murderer of Buffalo, New York — I see no reason to use his name — applying that distinction requires thinking more clearly about the politics of immigration.

Since the massacre on Saturday, Americans have been talking, as the shooter probably wanted, about the “great replacement theory.” The 200-proof version of the theory, to which he reportedly subscribed, is that Jews are trying to destroy the old white majority of the country via immigration, and they are doing it to create a political order more to their liking. It is a vile and stupid stew of racism and antisemitism, as should be obvious to almost everyone.

858 words by Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg Opinion. MOVED

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Carl P. Leubsdorf: Trump still faces serious legal questions

LEUBSDORF-COLUMN:DA — Convening of a grand jury in Atlanta to examine allegations that Donald Trump pressured Georgia election officials to reverse the 2020 election outcome is a reminder the former president still faces serious legal questions.

But the most serious may revolve around the question of whether he broke any laws in encouraging his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, and try to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election

957 words by Carl P. Leubsdorf, The Dallas Morning News. MOVED

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Trump paid $110,000 fine to lift contempt-of-court finding

TRUMP-NY-PROBE:BLO — NEW YORK — Donald Trump paid a $110,000 fine to lift an order holding him in contempt of court for failing to adequately respond to a New York state subpoena for his records.

The former president paid the fine on Thursday, according to a spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating potentially fraudulent asset valuations at Trump’s sprawling real-estate company.

282 words by Erik Larson, Bloomberg News. MOVED

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Lynn Schmidt: True leaders practice the art of persuasion. Others tweet out trash talk

SCHMIDT-COLUMN:SL — There is something that has been sorely missing in the United States in the last decade — soaring rhetoric. We are lacking leaders who, like Abraham Lincoln, appeal to our better angels through their ability to craft rhetoric that resonates in people’s hearts and minds.

Rhetoric appeals to people’s emotions and logic to persuade, motivate, or inform. In the fourth century B.C., Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote “The Art of Rhetoric,” in which he defined rhetoric as the “ability to discover the available means of persuasion.”

839 words by Lynn Schmidt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. MOVED

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Editorial: North Korea looks dangerously vulnerable in the face of omicron

CORONAVIRUS-NKOREA-EDITORIAL:TB — The situation in North Korea long has been worrying to those concerned about potentially capricious military actions on the part of paranoid authoritarian regimes. But COVID-19 is presenting new concerns, both to the people of North Korea and the world beyond.

Last week, the isolated nation confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 omicron cases for the first time and state media featured a masked Kim Jong Un. Previously, North Korea said it had prevented any outbreak, although that has not been independently verified. But that position dissolved when a lockdown was called for Pyongyang, and potentially beyond, on May 11.

609 words by Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune. MOVED

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Editorial: Buffalo shooter acted alone, but was inspired by many

BUFFALO-SHOOTING-EDITORIAL:FL — There is no DNA for bigotry. Hatred is acquired after birth. So what explains mass murders like the one at a Buffalo supermarket, where 10 people were slain by a radicalized youth who drove 200 miles with a semi-automatic rifle to find a concentration of Black victims?

Racism is an entirely man-made virus. The lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II described it in the musical "South Pacific":

871 words by Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, South Florida Sun Sentinel. MOVED

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Editorial: Who are they? And what do they want?

UAPS-EDITORIAL:PG — They don’t try to communicate, and they don’t respond when we try to communicate with them. They speed away if we get too close. They move faster than anything known in this world and violate the laws of physics. At least 11 times, they’ve nearly collided with American military aircraft. And we have no idea what UFOs, now known as unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), are.

Representatives from the military recently told a subcommittee of the House Intelligence Committee that fast-moving objects are entering U.S. airspace and are regularly documented by experienced civilian and military pilots.

422 words by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. MOVED

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SPORTS

The USMNT casts a wide net to fill roster for the World Cup this fall in Qatar

SOC-US-MEN-ROSTER:LA — LOS ANGELES — With the World Cup opener less than six months away, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter continues to refine his roster, calling 27 players into training camp for the final series of home matches before the fall tournament in Qatar.

The U.S. will face World Cup qualifiers Morocco and Uruguay in friendlies in Cincinnati on June 1 and in Kansas City, Mo., four days later. The Americans will open defense of their CONCACAF Nations League title against Grenada on June 10 in Austin, Texas, before closing the June match window in El Salvador on June 14.

574 words by Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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Helene Elliott: Figure skating pair Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier share special bond, big plans

FIG-ELLIOTT-COLUMN:LA — LOS ANGELES — Alexa Knierim had skated with her husband Chris as a pair for so long that no other touch felt like his. Theirs was a marriage of love and figure skating, a union that brought them three U.S. pairs titles and a bronze medal in the team event at the 2018 Olympics.

When bouts with depression led Chris to retire from competition in 2020, they decided she should continue — which meant she’d have to allow someone else to lift and twist and toss her in the air. The thought made her hesitate.

1124 words by Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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