News

AP News in Brief at 11:03 p.m. EDT

12-15 minutes


‘A blaring siren’ for Democrats after ruling halts DACA

Immigrants and advocates are urging Democrats and President Joe Biden to quickly act on legislation to protect young immigrants after a federal judge in Texas on Friday ruled illegal an Obama-era program that prevents the deportation of thousands of them brought into the U.S. as children.

Plaintiffs have vowed to appeal the decision by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program illegal, barring the government from approving any new applications, but leaving the program intact for existing recipients.

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Calling the ruling a “blaring siren” for Democrats, United We Dream Executive Director Greisa Martinez Rosas said they would be solely to blame if legislative reform doesn’t happen.

“Until the president and Democrats in Congress deliver on citizenship, the lives of millions will remain on the line,” Martinez Rosas said.

Hanen ruled in favor of Texas and eight other conservative states that sued to halt DACA, which provides limited protections to about 650,000 people.

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AP: Few AZ voter fraud cases, discrediting Trump’s claims

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona county election officials have identified fewer than 200 cases of potential voter fraud out of more than 3 million ballots cast in last year’s presidential election, further discrediting former President Donald Trump’s claims of a stolen election as his allies continue a disputed ballot review in the state’s most populous county.

An Associated Press investigation found 182 cases where problems were clear enough that officials referred them to investigators for further review. So far, only four cases have led to charges, including those identified in a separate state investigation. No one has been convicted. No person’s vote was counted twice.

While it’s possible more cases could emerge, the numbers illustrate the implausibility of Trump’s claims that fraud and irregularities in Arizona cost him the state’s electorate votes. In final, certified and audited results, Biden won 10,400 more votes than Trump out of 3.4 million cast.

AP’s findings align with previous studies showing voter fraud is rare. Numerous safeguards are built into the system to not only prevent fraud from happening but to detect it when it does.

“The fact of the matter is that election officials across the state are highly invested in helping to ensure the integrity of our elections and the public’s confidence in them,” said Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat. “And part of that entails taking potential voter fraud seriously.”

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Rescuers race to prevent more deaths from European floods

BERLIN (AP) — In one flooded German town, the ground collapsed under family homes. In another, floodwaters swept through an assisted living center, killing 12.

Rescue workers across Germany and Belgium rushed Friday to prevent more deaths from some of the Continent’s worst flooding in years as the number of dead surpassed 125 and the search went on for hundreds of missing people.

Fueled by days of heavy rain, the floodwaters also left thousands of Germans homeless after their dwellings were destroyed or deemed to be at risk, and elected officials began to worry about the lingering economic effects from lost homes and businesses.

Elsewhere in Europe, dikes on swollen rivers were at risk of collapsing, and crews raced to reinforce flood barriers.

Sixty-three people perished in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, including 12 residents of an assisted living facility for disabled people in the town of Sinzig who were surprised by a sudden rush of water from the nearby Ahr River, authorities said.

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‘Pandemic of the unvaccinated’ burdens busy US hospitals

The COVID-19 comeback across the U.S. is putting pressure on hospitals at a time when some of them are busy just trying to catch up on surgeries and other procedures that were put on hold during the pandemic.

With the highly contagious delta variant spreading rapidly, cases in the U.S. are up around 70% over the last week, hospital admissions have climbed about 36% and deaths rose by 26%, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

Some hospitals are reporting record or near-record patient volumes. But even for those that aren’t, this round of the pandemic is proving tougher in some ways, hospital and health officials said. Staff members are worn out, and finding traveling nurses to boost their ranks can be tough.

“I really think of it as a war and how long can you stay on the front line,” said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “And how many times do you want to go back for another tour of duty. Eventually you just don’t want to do it.”

Also, many hospitals were busy even before the surge began, dealing with a backlog of cancer screenings, operations and other procedures that were put off during the winter surge to free up space and staff members, according to health care leaders.

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Iowa duo deny any involvement in Mollie Tibbetts’ death

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Two childhood friends named by defense lawyers as alternate suspects in the killing of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts said Friday they had nothing to do with the crime.

Lawyers for Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man convicted of killing Tibbetts, named Gavin Jones and Dalton Hansen as perhaps responsible for Tibbetts’ 2018 stabbing death in court filings this week.

They made that assertion after inmate Arne Maki came forward in May to say Jones told him that Jones and Hansen killed Tibbetts after she was kidnapped and briefly held at a home used for sex trafficking. Jones’ ex-girlfriend came forward independently the same day to say that Jones, 21, also told her that he killed Tibbetts.

A prosecutor said in court Thursday that there’s “zero” evidence to substantiate Jones’ alleged confessions and that there should be no doubt Bahena Rivera killed Tibbetts.

Reached by phone separately Friday by The Associated Press, Jones and Hansen said they had no involvement in Tibbetts’ disappearance from her hometown of Brooklyn, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Iowa City, or her violent death. They said they hadn’t spoken with investigators but were eager to do so in order to clear their names.

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Biden grappling with ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two weeks after celebrating America’s near “independence” from the coronavirus, President Joe Biden is confronting the worrying reality of rising cases and deaths — and the limitations of his ability to combat the persistent vaccine hesitance responsible for the summer backslide.

Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people. While the rates are still sharply down from their January highs, officials are concerned by the reversing trendlines and what they consider needless illness and death. And cases are expected to continue to rise in coming weeks.

While the national emergency may have faded, officials say the outbreak is now a more localized crisis in communities where not enough people have rolled up their sleeves.

“Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated,” Biden said Friday, echoing comments made earlier in the day by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rising numbers are being driven by large pockets of infection among the more than 90 million eligible Americans who have yet to get shots. Just four states with low vaccination rates made up 40% of new cases last week, and nearly half of them came from Florida alone.

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Biz Markie, known for classic rap song ‘Just a Friend,’ dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Biz Markie, a hip-hop staple known for his beatboxing prowess, turntable mastery and the 1989 classic “Just a Friend,” has died. He was 57.

Markie’s representative, Jenni Izumi, said the rapper-DJ died peacefully Friday evening with his wife by his side. The cause of death has not been released.

“We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time,” Izumi said in a statement. “Biz created a legacy of artistry that will forever be celebrated by his industry peers and his beloved fans whose lives he was able to touch through music, spanning over 35 years. He leaves behind a wife, many family members and close friends who will miss his vibrant personality, constant jokes and frequent banter.”

Markie, who birth name was Marcel Theo Hall, became known within the rap genre realm as the self-proclaimed “Clown Prince of Hip-Hop” for lighthearted lyrics and a humorous nature. He made music with the Beastie Boys, opened for Chris Rock’s comedy tour and was a sought-after DJ for countless star-studded events.

The New York-native’s music career began in 1985 as a beat boxer of the Juice Crew, a rap collective he helped Big Daddy Kane join. Three years later, he released his debut album “Goin’ Off,” which featured underground hits “Vapors” and “Pickin’ Boogers.”

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Biden to meet with Iraqi prime minister at White House

President Joe Biden will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi later this month in Washington, the White House said Friday.

The meeting set for July 26 comes at a pivotal point in the U.S.-Iraq relationship, and amid growing concerns about more frequent attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.

There have been at least eight drone attacks targeting the U.S. presence since Biden took office in January, as well as 17 rocket attacks.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “also looks forward to strengthening bilateral cooperation with Iraq on political, economic and security issues to include joint efforts to ensure the enduring defeat” of the Islamic State militant group.

The attacks on U.S. forces have been blamed on the Iranian-backed militias that make up the bulk of Iraq’s state-supported Popular Mobilization Forces.

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Chaos reigned in wake of Haitian president’s assassination

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The attackers raided the private compound of Haiti’s president before dawn, yelling “DEA operation!” and wielding high-caliber weapons. They tied up a maid and houseboy and ransacked Jovenel Moïse’s office and bedroom.

When it was over, Moïse lay sprawled on his bedroom floor. He had been shot in the forehead, chest, hip and stomach, and his left eye was gouged.

By the time the sun rose, the suspects had scattered by car and foot, leaving this country of more than 11 million in shock. People tuned into radio stations, some still in disbelief until gruesome photos began to circulate on social media.

“I’m not saying he was a good person, but he didn’t deserve death,” said a woman named Sandra, who lived across the street from the president’s mansion. She and her son and husband squeezed into a shower in the back of their home when they heard gunshots echoing through the Pelerin neighborhood.

Sandra, who declined to give her last name for fear of being killed, thought it was Haitian gang members who had been threatening to take over the area until she heard someone yell in English: “Go! Go! Go!”

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Pope reverses Benedict, reimposes restrictions on Latin Mass

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis cracked down Friday on the spread of the old Latin Mass, reversing one of Pope Benedict XVI’s signature decisions in a major challenge to traditionalist Catholics who immediately decried it as an attack on them and the ancient liturgy.

Francis reimposed restrictions on celebrating the Latin Mass that Benedict relaxed in 2007, and went further to limit its use. The pontiff said he was taking action because Benedict’s reform had become a source of division in the church and been exploited by Catholics opposed to the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings that modernized the church and its liturgy.

Critics said they had never before witnessed a pope so thoroughly reversing his predecessor. That the reversal concerned something so fundamental as the liturgy, while Benedict is still alive and living in the Vatican as a retired pope, only amplified the extraordinary nature of Francis’ move, which will surely result in more right-wing hostility directed at him.

Francis, 84, issued a new law requiring individual bishops to approve celebrations of the old Mass, also called the Tridentine Mass, and requiring newly ordained priests to receive explicit permission to celebrate it from their bishops, in consultation with the Vatican.

Under the new law, bishops must also determine if the current groups of faithful attached to the old Mass accept Vatican II, which allowed for Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular rather than Latin. These groups cannot use regular churches; instead, bishops must find alternate locations for them without creating new parishes.

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