After Taiwan, Pelosi in S. Korea to meet political leaders

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is meeting top South Korean political leaders in Seoul after she concluded her high-profile visit to Taiwan by renewing Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to defending democracy on the self-governing island despite vehement protests from China. Pelosi and other members of Congress flew to South Korea on Wednesday evening as part of their Asian tour. On Thursday, Pelosi met South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo and other senior members of Parliament for talks on regional security and economic cooperation. She also plans to visit an inter-Korean border area that is jointly controlled by the American-led U.N. Command and North Korea.

US says Russia aims to fabricate evidence in prison deaths

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials believe Russia is working to fabricate evidence concerning last week’s deadly strike on a facility housing prisoners of war in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine. U.S. intelligence officials have determined that Russia is looking to plant false evidence to make it appear that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the July 29 attack on Olenivka Prison that left 53 dead and wounded dozens more, a U.S. official familiar with the intelligence finding told The Associated Press. Russia has claimed that Ukraine’s military used U.S.-supplied rocket launchers to strike the prison in Olenivka, a settlement controlled by the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic. The Ukrainian military denied making any rocket or artillery strikes in Olenivka.

Abortion vote in Kansas sparks new hope for Dems in midterms

NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats are celebrating a stunning victory for abortion rights in Republican stronghold Kansas as proof that the issue could turn back a Republican wave this fall. Republicans — and some Democrats — suggest that may not be so easy. But Kansas’ overwhelming vote against a measure that would have allowed Republican state lawmakers to ban abortion gave Democrats nationwide a badly needed dose of optimism. From Arizona to Georgia to Pennsylvania, Democrats have struggled under the weight of President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings and deepening concerns about the economy. Biden, speaking at a White House event on abortion, declared: “This fight is not over. And we saw that last night in Kansas."

US-China ties on a precipice after Pelosi visit to Taiwan

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S.-China relations are teetering on a precipice after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Pelosi was greeted by a rapturous welcome in Taipei and applauded with strong bipartisan support in Washington despite White House misgivings. But her trip has enraged Beijing and will complicate already strained ties even after her departure. Already, China is preparing a show of force in the Taiwan Strait to make clear that its claims are non-negotiable on the island it regards as a renegade province. And, as the U.S. presses ahead with shows of support for Taiwan, including military sales and diplomatic lobbying, the escalating tensions have raised the risks of military confrontation, intentional or not.

Alex Jones concedes Sandy Hook attack was '100% real'

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones says he now understands he was irresponsible to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax, and he now believes it was “100% real.” The jury in Austin, Texas, began deliberating Wednesday how much the conspiracy theorist and Infowars host owes the parents of one of the children who were killed in the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut. Testimony wrapped up with Jones telling the jurors that any compensation above $2 million would sink his Texas-based company. Jones also acknowledged that he was wrong to push false claims that the massacre didn’t happen. The parents suing Jones testified Tuesday that an apology wouldn't suffice and that Jones must be held accountable. They are seeking at least $150 million.

Election skeptics rise in GOP races to run state elections

PHOENIX (AP) — The Trump-endorsed Arizona lawmaker who won the GOP nomination for secretary of state is the latest candidate to advance to the November ballot for a post overseeing state elections while denying the results of the last one. The early success of such candidates is raising concerns about what happens if those who lack faith in elections are put in charge of running them. Election experts say candidates who dispute the results of a valid election pose a danger of interfering in future elections. They warn it could trigger chaos if they refuse to accept results they don’t like.

Senate backs Finland, Sweden for NATO 95-1, rebuking Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Senators delivered an overwhelming bipartisan vote ratifying NATO membership for Finland and Sweden. Lawmakers call Wednesday's 95-1 vote to expand the Western defensive bloc a “slam-dunk” for U.S. national security and a day of reckoning for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. President Joe Biden has sought quick entry for the two previously non-militarily aligned northern European countries to the Western military alliance. Senators invited the ambassadors of Finland and Sweden to the chamber for Wednesday's debate and vote. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who visited Kyiv and the region earlier this year, urged a unanimous show of approval.

NFL appeals 6-game suspension for Browns' Deshaun Watson

A person familiar with the filing told The Associated Press that the NFL is seeking an indefinite suspension of at least one year plus a fine in appealing a disciplinary officer’s decision to suspend Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter isn’t public. The NFL’s appeal gives Commissioner Roger Goodell or someone he designates authority to impose a stiffer penalty. League spokesman Brian McCarthy said it’s still to be determined whether Goodell or someone else will hear the appeal.

EPA announces flights to look for methane in Permian Basin

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency says it will conduct helicopter overflights to look for methane “super emitters” in the nation’s largest oil and gas producing region. EPA’s Region 6 headquarters in Dallas, Texas, issued a news release about a new enforcement effort in the Permian Basin on Monday, saying the flights would occur over the next two weeks. The announcement came four days after The Associated Press published an investigation that showed 533 oil and gas facilities in the region are emitting excessive amounts of methane and named the companies most responsible. Colorless and odorless, methane is a potent greenhouse gas that traps 83 times more heat in the atmosphere over a 20 year period than an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.

Los Angeles mourning death of Dodgers' Vin Scully

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Flowers, candles and handwritten messages lie beneath a sign welcoming fans to Dodger Stadium at the main entrance on Vin Scully Avenue. Fans of all ages made their way to the ballpark and other points around Los Angeles to mourn the Hall of Fame broadcaster who died Tuesday night at age 94. Flowers and mementos decorated Scully's star on the Walk of Fame. Moments of silence were held around the major leagues. The self-effacing Scully would have appreciated the tributes but would have likely found them to be “a little bit embarrassing.” That's how he described the hoopla surrounding his retirement in 2016.

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