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TNS International Budget for Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Tribune News Service logoTribune News Service 5/17/2022

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 warns Finland and Sweden over NATO as strikes pummel east Ukraine

UKRAINE:LA — LVIV, Ukraine — Russia on Monday warned Finland and Sweden that plans to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization were a "grave mistake," as Moscow's forces stepped up attacks in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, said the two Nordic nations, which over the weekend announced their intention to apply for NATO membership, were embarking on a misguided path "with far-reaching consequences," according to Russian news reports.

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Buffalo gunman was just getting started and planned racist attacks in other parts of city, police say

BUFFALO-SHOOTING-1ST-LEDE:NY — NEW YORK — The rampaging teen behind a hate-mongering massacre at a Buffalo supermarket was just getting started, and had plans to take his anti-Black attack to other parts of the city, authorities said Monday.

Payton Gendron, 18, allegedly shot 13 people at the Tops Friendly Market on Saturday afternoon, killing 10 of them.

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Laguna Woods shooting was a hate crime targeting Taiwanese, sheriff alleges

CALIF-SHOOTING-2ND-LEDE:LA — LOS ANGELES — The suspect in the Laguna Woods church shooting Sunday appeared to be motivated by political hatred directed at the Taiwanese community, Orange County Sheriff’s officials said Monday.

While investigators provided few details, they said their investigation suggests the deadly attack was a politically motivated hate incident.

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US reaches 1 million COVID deaths — and the virus isn’t done with us

CORONAVIRUS-US-DEATHS:LA — David Dowdy hunches in front of his laptop at his kitchen table as he watches COVID-19 data trickle in. One death. Then another. And another. And another.

That’s a typical day for the Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist, his screen propped up on board game boxes and magazines, the clock progressing through another 12-hour day.

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CORONAVIRUS

With COVID cases rising, how close is California to new mask rules, restrictions?

CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-RISINGCASES:LA — SAN FRANCISCO — With coronavirus cases continuing to rise in some parts of California, the big question is when some local governments may decide a wave is big enough to intervene with new rules.

The numbers suggest such action is still some ways away, because infection and hospitalization rates are still far from what officials consider the danger zone. While coronavirus-positive hospitalization rates in some parts of California are starting to rise, overall rates remain relatively low.

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LA coronavirus hospitalizations start rising again; officials urge mask-wearing

CORONAVIRUS-LOSANGELES:LA — LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County's coronavirus-positive hospitalizations are rising again, causing health officials to urge residents to put masks back on if they have stopped doing so.

L.A. County already requires mask-wearing on public transit and at its airports, and Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer urged residents Monday to wear masks inside schools, stores and workplaces.

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1 in 9 COVID hospital patients die or get readmitted within 30 days, study finds

CORONAVIRUS-HOSPITAL-READMISSIONS:CH — One in 9 hospitalized COVID-19 patients die or get readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being sent home, a new study has found.

Deaths were observed more often in men, older individuals, those with comorbidities and people who had a history of prior hospital stays, according to the peer-reviewed research published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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Sniffer dogs can 'detect airport passengers infected with COVID-19'

CORONAVIRUS-DOGS:DPA — LONDON — Trained sniffer dogs can accurately identify airport passengers infected with coronavirus, new research suggests.

Scientists say this method of detection is likely to be especially valuable, not only in the early stages of a pandemic when other resources might not yet be available, but also to help contain an ongoing pandemic.

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WORLD NEWS

Boris Johnson pledges ‘legislative solution’ to amend Brexit deal

BRITAIN-BREXIT:BLO — LONDON — The United Kingdom will lay out its plan to amend its post-Brexit trade deal Tuesday in a direct challenge to the European Union, which is insisting that Prime Minister Boris Johnson must honor the agreement he signed.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will make a statement in the House of Commons, setting out her plan to introduce laws that would override parts of the Northern Ireland protocol if negotiations fail to make headway after months of stalemate with the EU. Johnson said late Monday that he’s prepared to unilaterally amend the agreement over Northern Ireland, though would prefer a negotiated solution.

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Opposition gains threaten Hezbollah majority in Lebanon's parliament

LEBANON-ELECTION:DPA — BEIRUT — Lebanese opposition groups and critics of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah scored unexpected gains in the country's parliamentary elections on Sunday, leading some allies of the armed group to lose seats in parliament.

According to preliminary results cited by Lebanese media, Hezbollah lost major allies in Mount Lebanon, as well as south, north and east Lebanon, to members of opposition groups, suggesting that the movement could lose its majority in the 128-member parliament. The opposition managed to snatch around 10 seats.

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12 days after one of their doctors was abducted, these Haiti hospitals are still closed

HAITI-HOSPITALS:MI — Two hospitals in Haiti’s capital that specialize in the care of childhood cancer, COVID-19 and women with high-risk pregnancies remain closed more than a week after they suspended operations to demand the release of one of their doctors, who has been kidnapped, and to protest the violence that’s paralyzing medical care in the country.

753 words by Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald. MOVED

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UNITED STATES

Senate advances $40 billion Ukraine aid bill with wide support

UKRAINE-USAID:BLO — WASHINGTON — The Senate overwhelmingly voted to move toward passage of $40 billion in aid to Ukraine, underscoring the broad Republican and Democratic support for the country as it defends itself against Russia’s invasion.

Monday’s 81-11 procedural vote sets up Senate passage of the legislation as soon as Wednesday if all lawmakers consent to waive rules on debate. That would send it to President Joe Biden for his signature if no changes are made.

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A new generation of white supremacist killer: shedding blood with internet winks, memes and livestreams

BUFFALO-SHOOTING-GUNMAN:LA — ATLANTA — Bored during the early days of the pandemic, Payton Gendron logged on to the 4chan message board website to browse ironic memes and infographics that spread the idea that the white race is going extinct.

He was soon lurking in the web’s even more sinister fringes, scrolling through extremist and neo-Nazi sites that peddled conspiracy theories and anti-Black racism. It wasn’t until he spotted a GIF of a man shooting a shotgun through a dark hallway, and then tracked down a livestream of the 2019 killing of 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand, that Gendron found his calling: as a virulently racist, copycat mass shooter with a craving for notoriety.

2209 words by Jenny Jarvie and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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Black residents want Biden to call out racism and white supremacy in Buffalo visit

BUFFALO-SHOOTING-BIDEN:LA — BUFFALO, N.Y. — The White House said President Joe Biden would travel to Buffalo on Tuesday to grieve with victims and their family members after what police described as a racially motivated mass shooting on Saturday that left 10 people dead.

But members of that tightknit community say they want more from the president than his condolences.

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Buffalo pizza shop closes after mass-shooting threat

BUFFALO-SHOOTING-THREAT:NY — A Buffalo pizza shop closed Sunday after a customer allegedly made a mass-shooting threat to employees.

Joseph S. Chowaniec, 52, was arrested after allegedly calling Bocce Pizza and threatening to “shoot up Bocce’s like the Tops on Jefferson” while complaining about a pizza he had ordered, Buffalo Police said.

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Doctor killed in Laguna Woods shooting was trying to disarm suspect, save others

CALIF-SHOOTING-VICTIM:LA — LOS ANGELES — The churchgoer killed when a gunman opened fire at a Laguna Woods church Sunday was a sports medicine doctor and master of martial arts who was slain while trying to stop the shooting, authorities said Monday.

Orange County sheriff’s officials said that when the suspect began shooting, Dr. John Cheng put himself in the line of fire and tried to prevent others from being shot.

563 words by Hannah Fry, Jeong Park and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times. MOVED

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Church where shooting took place was home away from home for Taiwanese immigrants

CALIF-SHOOTING-CHURCH:LA — LOS ANGELES — The Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church has never had a home.

It started in 1994 in borrowed space in another church in its namesake city. It eventually moved to another borrowed space in a Tustin church before settling at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods in 2012.

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Jury selection in trial of confessed Parkland school shooter enters second phase

PARKLAND:FL — FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Jury selection in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting case entered the second of three phases Monday, with lawyers looking to weed out those whose views on the death penalty are too inflexible to be part of a fair trial.

Confessed gunman Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of first-degree murder, so the jury is being asked only to decide his punishment. A jury’s unanimous vote is required to sentence Cruz to death; otherwise he will be sentenced to life in prison.

403 words by Rafael Olmeda, South Florida Sun-Sentinel. MOVED

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Critic of Oxford School officials found not guilty of phoning in 'threat'

MICH-SCHOOLSHOOTING-THREAT:DTN — ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. — A Temperance man was found not guilty Monday of using a phone to threaten an Oxford Community Schools official, using as a defense his anger over how the district had "failed students" in how it handled an accused mass shooter at the high school.

Craig James Macrina, 55, was charged in December for alleged malicious use of a communications device to leave messages for then-Oxford Community Schools Superintendent Tim Throne. The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

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Biden orders US troops back to Somalia

USSOMALIA:CON — WASHINGTON — The U.S. will reestablish a permanent troop presence in Somalia to counter the al-Shabab terrorist group, reversing a decision by former President Donald Trump to withdraw the roughly 750 special operations troops who were previously stationed there.

President Joe Biden approved a plan, presented to him by Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, that will draw on troops already stationed in neighboring countries to bolster U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Somalia, according to a senior administration official.

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Abbott enters into agreement with FDA, outlining terms for resuming infant formula production at Michigan site

BABY-FORMULA-FDA:TB — CHICAGO — Abbott Laboratories and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have come to an agreement on the steps the company needs to take before it can restart production of infant formula at a Michigan facility, Abbott said Monday.

Abbott has entered into a consent decree with the FDA, which must still be approved in court, the company said in a news release. The exact terms of the agreement were not immediately clear Monday afternoon.

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Reversing Trump measures, US will expand flights to Cuba and resume family reunifications

USCUBA-FAMILY-REUNIFICATION:MI — The Biden administration is restoring flights to Cuban cities other than Havana and reestablishing a family reunification program suspended for years, following recommendations of a long-anticipated review of U.S. policy toward Cuba, senior administration officials told McClatchy and the Miami Herald on Monday.


Video: EU targets Russian oil, banks as Moscow's ally Belarus stages army drills (Reuters)

The administration will also allow group travel for educational or professional exchanges and lift caps on money sent to families on the island.

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In a first, US government greenlights American investment in private business in Cuba

USCUBA-INVESTMENT:MI — MIAMI — In what appears to be a first in more than six decades, the U.S. has authorized an American company to finance and invest in a private business in Cuba, an unprecedented move that could open the gate to American investment to help Cubans on the island gain economic independence from the state.

The U.S. embargo on Cuba, in place since 1960, prohibits most financial transactions involving Cuban nationals or entities, unless they fall under an exception or are authorized by a license. The people behind the recent initiative believe this is the first time the U.S. government authorizes direct financing and investment in a Cuban private enterprise.

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Search for survivors suspended in Haitian migrant boat capsize near Puerto Rico that left 11 dead

MIGRANTS-CAPSIZED-BOAT:MI — After days searching more than 6,600 square miles of ocean, the U.S. Coast Guard stopped looking for possible survivors Sunday night after an overloaded boat carrying Haitian migrants overturned near Puerto Rico’s western coast last week.

“After the rescue that was carried out on the first day, none of the searches gave a sign of survival. There comes a time when evaluating all the information available, searches, unfortunately, have to be suspended,” U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Ricardo Castrodad told the Miami Herald.

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17-year-old charged as adult, held on $250,000 bond in fatal shooting of fellow teen in Millennium Park

CHICAGO-SHOOTING:TB — CHICAGO — A 17-year-old boy who fatally shot a 16-year-old during a chaotic evening in Millennium Park opened fire near The Bean after the younger boy jumped on his back and punched him in the head, Cook County prosecutors said in court Monday.

As Marion Richardson was being arrested, he told police, “You guys ain’t gonna do nothing anyways, a hundred (expletive) walking toward me, what am I supposed to do? You all just sitting there, bro,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said in court.

874 words by Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune. MOVED

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Garcetti's nomination remains stalled in Senate

USINDIA-GARCETTI:LA — WASHINGTON — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's nomination to be ambassador to India is dangling by a thread in the Senate, with several Democrats continuing to express hesitation over the nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer's office issued an informal "temperature check" to Democratic senators on May 6 to see where lawmakers stood on the nomination coming to the floor for a vote. Several of them indicated concerns, according to Democratic aides.

623 words by Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Timeshttps://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-05-16/garcettis-nomination-remains-stalled-in-senate. MOVED

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Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary will wrap up a chaotic campaign and chart both parties’ paths forward

PA-PRIMARY:PH — SCRANTON, Pa. — Pennsylvania voters go to the polls Tuesday after a dramatic and unpredictable primary delivered one more day of twists and questions, with one front-runner hospitalized, a surging candidate facing new questions, and a cliff-hanger finish looming in the Republican Senate race.

Much of Monday — like the rest of the final week of the campaign — centered on the surprising rise of GOP Senate candidate Kathy Barnette, who faced new questions about participating in the march that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, her Islamophobic tweets, and a suggestion that if she loses, she won’t support either of her top Republican rivals, Mehmet Oz and David McCormick.

1558 words by Jonathan Tamari, Juliana Feliciano Reyes and Sean Collins Walsh, The Philadelphia Inquirer. MOVED

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Karine Jean-Pierre steps into the bright White House spotlight

WHITEHOUSE-PRESSSECRETARY:LA — WASHINGTON — As a young staffer working in the Obama White House, Karine Jean-Pierre was surprised the first time she struck up a conversation with then-Vice President Joe Biden.

It was 2009, and Biden had chosen the seat next to her on a flight back from politicking in New Jersey. The vice president regaled Jean-Pierre with tales of his progressive work with women and the LGBTQ+ community, according to her 2019 memoir. They hit it off, and soon, Jean-Pierre was working so regularly with Biden that the Secret Service gave her an official pin allowing her special access to the vice president.

More than a decade later, Jean-Pierre this week is taking on a much higher-profile role that will put her in even closer and more regular proximity to Biden — as his official spokesperson, a high-pressure job with little room for error.

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US Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, suffers what he calls ‘minor stroke’

MDSENATE-VANHOLLEN-STROKE:BZ — U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, is recovering from a “minor stroke,” he said in a statement late Sunday night.

The senator said he was admitted to the George Washington University Hospital after experiencing lightheadedness and acute neck pain while giving a speech in Western Maryland.

316 words by Christina Tkacik, The Baltimore Sun. MOVED

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Florida will likely take over Disney World’s Reedy Creek, DeSantis says

FLA-DISNEY-DISTRICT:OS — SANFORD, Fla. — The state will likely assume control of Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, rather than local governments absorbing it, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday.

DeSantis said he is working on a proposal that likely will be considered by the Legislature after the November elections.

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How some students are protesting law dubbed ‘don’t say gay’ as graduation nears

FLA-SCHOOLS-LGBTQ-PROTESTS:FL — FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Some high school seniors are looking to leave their last mark as they go off to live new lives as college students or go out into the workforce.

For some, that means speaking out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, known among critics as don’t say gay, and speaking up in favor of LGBTQ+ rights.

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‘Wow, you’re a white guy.’ Lyft driver boots couple over racist remarks, PA video shows

PA-LYFT-RACIST-COMMENTS:CH — A Lyft driver in Pennsylvania said he refused to drive a “racist” bar-owner and her boyfriend — and now a video showing the interaction has amassed millions of views.

James Bode, a ride-share driver for Lyft, had just arrived to pick up a woman named “Jackie” on the evening of May 13 when something she said made him do a double take.

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‘Unsettling’ Fort Bragg recruitment video ignites debate over its mysterious intent

FORTBRAGG-VIDEO:CH — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s a stretch to link the U.S. Army to witchery, but that’s happening in response to an eerie recruitment video shared on YouTube by Fort Bragg’s 4th Psychological Operations Group-Airborne.

Titled “Ghosts in the Machine,” the video feels like a movie trailer and comes with no explanation other than: “All the world’s a stage. Join us.”

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Surfside commission votes to approve $2 million settlement in Champlain Towers collapse

FLA-CONDO-COLLAPSE-SETTLEMENT:MI — MIAMI — Surfside commissioners voted Monday to approve a $2 million insurance settlement in the class-action lawsuit related to the Champlain Towers South condo collapse.

It was part of the nearly $1 billion tentative settlement that parties ranging from the security company contracted at the Champlain Towers to the developers of a Miami Beach condo building next door agreed to pay the survivors and families of victims.

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‘Justice can’t wait’: Activists, faith leaders renew demands for DOJ investigation into KCKPD

KC-POLICE-PROBE:KC — A coalition of faith leaders and community activists on Monday renewed their call for federal investigators to examine the practices of the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department.

Members of MORE2, the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, gathered outside the Robert J. Dole Federal Courthouse and said they plan to file an addendum to a request made about 90 days ago seeking the U.S. Department of Justice to review the police department’s patterns and practices.

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Climate change is heating up Florida. That could bring more wildfires, new report warns

ENV-CLIMATE-FLA-WILDFIRES:MI — MIAMI — When Hurricane Michael tore through North Florida in 2018 as a Category 5 storm, it left more than 3 million acres of felled trees in its wake.

Those largely untouched trees were the perfect fuel for three simultaneous wildfires that raged through the region in March. The Chipola Complex fires turned the skies smoky and blood red, destroyed two homes, prompted the evacuation of a thousand more and consumed more than 30,000 acres of forest before firefighters got it under control.

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California properties at risk of wildfire expected to see sixfold increase in 30 years

CALIF-WILDFIRES-RISK:LA — LOS ANGELES — The number of California properties facing severe wildfire risk will grow sixfold over the next 30 years when considering only the impact of climate change, according to projections released Monday by a nonprofit research group.

Just over 100,000 properties in the state currently have a 1% or greater annual chance of being affected by wildfire. The number is expected to reach about 600,000 by 2052, according to the data from First Street Foundation.

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BUSINESS

China’s economic activity collapses under Xi’s COVID Zero policy

CORONAVIRUS-CHINA-ECONOMY:BLO — China’s economy is paying the price for the nation’s COVID Zero policy, with industrial output and consumer spending sliding to the worst levels since the pandemic began and analysts warning of no quick recovery.

Industrial output unexpectedly fell 2.9% in April from a year ago, while retail sales contracted 11.1% in the period, weaker than a projected 6.6% drop. The unemployment rate climbed to 6.1% and the youth jobless rate hit a record. Investors responded by selling everything from Chinese shares to US index futures and oil.

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Starbucks offers to reimburse employees for abortion travel

SCOTUS-ABORTION-STARBUCKS:BLO — Starbucks Corp. is expanding its U.S. health care benefits to cover travel for abortion and gender-affirming procedures.

Employees and their dependents who don’t have access to those procedures within 100 miles of their home can be reimbursed for eligible travel expenses, Starbucks said Monday in a blog post.

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ENTERTAINMENT

Amber Heard’s credibility challenged by Depp lawyer during cross

DEPP-HEARD-TRIAL:LA — After testifying Monday afternoon that her Washington Post op-ed was about herself, not Johnny Depp, Amber Heard faced pointed cross-examination from Depp attorney Camille Vasquez that was aimed at shaking Heard’s credibility in the eyes of the jury.

“The only one who thought it was about Johnny is Johnny,” Heard said toward the end of her direct testimony, talking about the opinion piece that sparked Depp’s $50-million defamation suit and Heard’s $100-million defamation countersuit.

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‘Rust’ producers plan to complete the movie after sheriff’s investigation concludes

MOVIE-RUST-FILMING:LA — LOS ANGELES — Several months after Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins while on the set of “Rust,” one of the film’s producers says he and others plan to forge ahead.

Rust Movie Productions is still being investigated by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office after the company was accused of cutting corners and flouting safety guidelines that led to the fatal misfiring of the gun on Oct. 21, 2021. Once the investigation concludes, however, co-producer Anjul Nigam believes the team will pick up where they left off with the film.

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OP-ED

Commentary: Draft opinion striking down Roe brings ‘fire to this fight once again’

SCOTUS-ABORTION-COMMENTARY:BZ — The now infamous Supreme Court draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, repealing Roe v. Wade, is not just a shameful ransacking of a 50-year-old precedent, it is an epic assault on the fundamental right of women to participate as equals in American society.

Roe is not just about the medical procedure of abortion and protecting women’s health and lives, it is also about women’s autonomy, dignity and status as citizens. A woman’s choice whether or not to bear a child lies at the very core of her being, and when politicians seize control of that choice, she is relegated to second class citizenship and deemed incapable of making her own life decisions.

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Commentary: COVID-19 cases among TSA officers shows effects of end to federal mask mandate

CORONAVIRUS-TSA-COMMENTARY:TB — On April 18, a federal court judge ended the federal transportation face mask mandate, deeming it an overstep of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authority. Almost immediately, airlines responded by making face masks on flights optional. The White House continues to urge travelers on all modes of transportation (air, rail and public transit) to continue to wear face masks to reduce virus transmission, particularly for those most vulnerable to developing a serious case of COVID-19.

At the national level, the seven-day moving average of new confirmed cases has increased by over 200% since it hit a low of just under 25,000 on March 29. With more people using at-home tests, the actual number of new infections is likely significantly higher.

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Commentary: Outdoor cats are more dangerous than you think

CATS-COMMENTARY:TB — Many news stories stress that our ecosystems are under assault by Burmese pythons and Asian carp. This leads people to conclude that it is the less charismatic fauna such as reptiles and fish that are the most threatening of invasive species.

Proposed amendments to the Lacey Act that the U.S. House passed Feb. 4 seem to perpetuate this narrative, with a proposed ban on all exotic animal species moving across state lines. But one animal that the International Union for Conservation of Nature considers among the world’s worst invasive species is also one of America’s most popular pets: Felis catus, the domestic cat.

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Commentary: We’re losing the fight against superbugs, but there’s still hope

SUPERBUGS-COMMENTARY:LA — As parents, we inherently want to protect our children. We tell them stories with happy endings and reassure them that there aren’t monsters hiding under the bed.

But there’s an enemy living among us that poses a fatal threat to kids and adults alike — and we’re simply not doing enough to stop it.

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Trudy Rubin: Save Odesa to save the world from hunger and high food prices

RUBIN-COLUMN:PH — When Russia sent hypersonic missiles into a shopping center in Ukraine’s elegant port city of Odesa on Monday, it was literally attacking the world.

Ukraine is known as the “breadbasket of Europe” and a global grain exporter. Eighty percent of its wheat used to ship from Odesa until Russia began blockading this major Black Sea port and targeting its civilians. Russia’s assault is the cause of soaring wheat prices that threaten starvation for many of the world’s poorest people, especially in the Middle East and Africa.

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Doyle McManus: Ron DeSantis is setting the agenda for the GOP, and Democrats should worry

MCMANUS-COLUMN:LA — The most intriguing politician in the Republican Party is an uncharismatic governor who's trying to make the GOP's culture war appealing to suburban mothers.

Ron DeSantis, the 43-year-old governor of Florida, has been on a tear. Originally a tea party-style fiscal conservative, he's embraced a series of hard-edged positions that have boosted him into second place in early — OK, way-too-early — polls for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. (First place is still occupied by former President Donald Trump.)

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Ramesh Ponnuru: Republicans can extend their midterm inflation advantage

PONNURU-COLUMN:BLO — Inflation is likely to be the most powerful issue working for Republicans in this year’s congressional elections. Public concern over it has been rising fast. Republicans can plausibly blame the administration of President Joe Biden for making the problem worse by spending too much money on a pandemic stimulus program he pushed through Congress last year, and for not taking it seriously as it emerged.

But there isn’t much that Congress can do to affect the course of inflation in the short term. The Federal Reserve is in charge of monetary policy. Congress can (in principle!) pass legislation to make the economy more productive, but any changes would generally take awhile to have an effect.

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John M. Crisp: The inextricable link between abortion and religion

CRISP-COLUMN:MCT — There’s something admirable in the consistency of abortion’s most ardent opponents.

If a fertilized egg is a full-fledged human life, its destruction is indeed no different from the murder of a post-natal person. Thus, a proposed Louisiana law that classifies all abortions as homicide has a logical consistency difficult to gainsay.

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Editorial: Senator's goofy bill against Disney is just another daffy populist stunt

DISNEY-COPYRIGHT-EDITORIAL:SL — Once upon a time, it was the activist left that wanted to rip private property from private entities, and it was conservatives who sought to prevent such attacks on free enterprise. But that was when conservatives still believed in their own stated principles. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has once again demonstrated how much he doesn’t. His legislation attempting to retroactively strip Disney of its own copyrights as punishment for criticizing Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” law is not only legally and constitutionally ridiculous but should be philosophically repugnant to a party that once prided itself on standing against interference with free enterprise.

Hawley’s legislation would alter current U.S. patent law so that copyrights for intellectual material would last just 56 years from the time of their creation. Under current U.S. law, those patents are good for the lifetime of the creator of the property, plus 70 years after that person’s death. Not only would Hawley’s legislation dramatically reduce that standard, it would generally violate an international agreement, to which the U.S. is a signatory, that protects copyrights for the life of the creator plus 50 years.

493 words by St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. MOVED

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Editorial: Florida’s book rejection frenzy has right-wing kookiness written all over it

FLA-MATHBOOKS-EDITORIAL:MI — In the deepest corners of the right wing, the belief exists that teachers, textbook writers and publishing companies are conspiring to indoctrinate children. It starts with softening students up by talking about feelings. Then, their unsuspecting minds can be shaped to believe in climate change, COVID-19 vaccines, evolution and — worst of all — that racism exists.

Such kookiness has existed on the fringes of the Republican Party for a long time, and was, for the most part, shunned by mainstream conservatives. But in the Twilight Zone that Florida’s state government has become, this line of thinking is shaping education policy.

885 words by Miami Herald Editorial Board, Miami Herald. MOVED

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Editorial: New York must convene opioid settlement board as soon as possible

NY-OPIOIDS-EDITORIAL:NY — A silent killer stalks New York state, ruining lives, destroying families and terrorizing communities, to the tune of more than 13 deaths a day on average over 2021. Its name is opioid abuse, and its death toll is growing. A report this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said drug overdose deaths nationwide rose 15% last year to 107,000, the highest level on record.

We have a varied arsenal of tools to help combat this horror, from enforcement efforts like prescription monitoring and trafficking arrests to medically assisted treatment to harm reduction initiatives like overdose prevention centers, with constellations of local aid organizations and community groups striving to help pull people out of the throes of cyclical dependence and abuse.

367 words by Daily News Editorial Board, New York Daily News. MOVED

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