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Queen Elizabeth II mourned by Britain and world at funeral
LONDON (AP) — Britain and the world said farewell to Queen Elizabeth II with pomp and pageantry. Crowds massed in the streets of London and at Windsor Castle to honor a monarch whose 70-year reign defined an era. The first state funeral since Winston Churchill’s drew world leaders and other royalty. Before the service, a bell tolled 96 times for each year of Elizabeth’s life. Royal Navy sailors pulled a gun carriage carrying her flag-draped coffin to Westminster Abbey before pallbearers bore it inside. Atop the coffin sat a handwritten note from King Charles III. After a committal service at a chapel in Windsor Castle, the coffin was lowered into the royal vault.
US contractor freed by Taliban in swap for drug trafficker
WASHINGTON (AP) — An American contractor held hostage in Afghanistan for more than two years by the Taliban has been released. The White House and family members said Monday his release came in an exchange for a convicted Taliban drug lord jailed in the United States. Mark Frerichs, a Navy veteran who spent more than a decade in Afghanistan as a civilian contractor, was abducted in January 2020 and is believed to have been held since then by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network. Negotiations for his release centered on a deal that also included the release of Bashir Noorzai, a notorious drug lord and member of the Taliban.
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Ukraine warns of ‘nuclear terrorism’ after strike near plant
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A Russian missile strike close to a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine didn’t damage the three reactor’s but hit other other equipment in the same industrial complex. Ukrainian authorities denounced Monday’s attack as an act of “nuclear terrorism.” Video showed large fireballs erupting in the dark. Ukraine’s nuclear operator said the missile struck within 300 meters (328 yards) of reactors at the Pivdennoukrainsk plant, also known as the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant. The strike followed warnings from Russian President Vladimir Putin of possible stepped-up attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure after his forces suffered humiliating battlefield setbacks. It also renewed fears of a possible radioactive disaster in the near seven-month war.
Fiona slams Dominican Republic after pounding Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hurricane Fiona is roaring over the Dominican Republic, a day after knocking out power to all of Puerto Rico and causing damage the governor described as “catastrophic.” Many people were also left without water service. The blow from Fiona was made more devastating because Puerto Rico has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the power grid in 2017. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island still have blue tarps for a roof. The wind and water from Fiona stripped the pavement from roads, tore off roofs and sent torrents pouring into homes. The storm also took out a bridge and flooded two airports.
GOP’s election-year standing with independents at risk
COLUMBUS, Wis. (AP) — Some independent voters who began 2022 looking to Republicans for answers have drifted back to moving toward Democrats. This comes as the GOP’s indictment of President Joe Biden’s and majority Democrats’ handling of the economy has run into mixed Republican messaging. Interviews with independent voters in a competitive county in swing-voting Wisconsin reveal how the June U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe. v. Wade and former President Donald Trump’s protests over the 2020 election and the federal investigation of records recovered at his Florida home are disrupting Republican leadership’s hope of making November a straight-up referendum on Democratic control in Washington.
At UN, leaders confront COVID’s impact on global education
School disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic have set back children around the globe, from the United States to sub-Saharan Africa. At a summit Monday, world leaders are expected to make commitments to prioritize their school systems, many of which saw their budgets slashed when the pandemic hit. The percentage of 10-year-old children in poor and middle-income countries who cannot read a simple story increased to an estimated 70% –- up 13 percentage points — since before the pandemic shuttered classrooms. That’s according to a report from the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF.
Locked Up: The prison labor that built business empires
In a joint investigation, reporters from the Associated Press and Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting spent months unearthing the history of convict leasing that built business empires. They focused on Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad, which ran a stockade and coal mine, and the company that later bought it, U.S. Steel. The team found someone living today whose ancestor was imprisoned in the Lone Rock stockade nearly 140 years ago. They also interviewed the descendant of a man who got rich from his role in pioneering Tennessee’s convict leasing system. The reporters also heard from U.S. Steel. For the first time, it said it was willing to discuss its past with members of the affected community.
How to get a student loan refund if you paid during pandemic
NEW YORK (AP) — When President Joe Biden announced a plan to forgive student loan debt, many borrowers who kept making payments during the pandemic wondered if they’d made the right choice. Borrowers who paid down their debt during a pandemic freeze that started in March 2020 can in fact get a refund — and then apply for forgiveness. But the process for doing that hasn’t always been clear. The Department of Education says borrowers who hold eligible federal student loans and have made voluntary payments since March 13, 2020, can get a refund.
‘Out of control’ STD situation prompts call for changes
NEW YORK (AP) — Sharply rising cases of some sexually transmitted diseases are prompting U.S. health officials to call for new prevention and treatment efforts. Infections rates for some STDs, including gonorrhea and syphilis, have been rising for years. But recently released statistics show that that last year the rate of infectious syphilis cases reached its highest since 1991 and the total number of cases rose 26% to hit its highest since 1948. Experts are calling for reducing stigma, broadening screening and treatment services, and supporting the development and accessibility of at-home testing
Rapper Mystikal pleads not guilty to rape, drug charges
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Grammy-nominated rapper Mystikal has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of raping and choking a woman at his Louisiana home and of possessing several drugs. Attorney Joel Pearce says the 51-year-old performer whose given name is Michael Tyler is innocent of all charges. Tyler entered the pleas on Monday in Ascension Parish court in Gonzales. Pearce says he has not been able to get copies of the two indictments, but they were read in court. Pearce says the next hearing is on Oct. 17, and prosecutors said they plan to bring up Tyler’s 2003 guilty plea to sexual battery as evidence of prior crimes.
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