Biden signs debt ceiling bill that pulls US back from brink of unprecedented default
WASHINGTON (AP) – With just two days to spare, President Joe Biden signed legislation on Saturday that lifts the nation´s debt ceiling, averting an unprecedented default on the federal government´s debt.
It was a decidedly low-key denouement to a monthslong drama that unnerved financial markets at home and abroad and caused anxious retirees and social service organizations to make contingency plans in case the country was unable to pay all its bills.
Instead of holding a public ceremony with lawmakers from both parties – showcasing the bipartisanship that Biden had cited in an Oval Office address on Friday evening – the president signed the legislation in private in a reflection of the tight deadline facing the nation’s leaders.
The Treasury Department had warned that the country would start running short of cash on Monday, which would have sent shockwaves through the U.S.and global economies.
The White House released a picture of the president signing the legislation at the Resolute Desk. In a brief statement, Biden thanked Democratic and Republican congressional leaders for their partnership, a cordial message that contrasted with the rancor that initially characterized the debt debate.
India train crash kills over 280, injures 900 in one of nation’s worst rail disasters
BALASORE, India (AP) – Rescuers found no more survivors in the overturned and mangled wreckage of two passenger trains that derailed in eastern India, killing more than 280 people and injuring hundreds in one of the country’s deadliest rail crashes in decades, officials said Saturday.
Chaotic scenes erupted on Friday night as rescuers climbed atop the wrecked trains to break open doors and windows using cutting torches.
The death toll rose steadily throughout the night.Scores of bodies, covered by white sheets, lay on the ground near the tracks while locals and rescuers raced to free the hundreds of people trapped in the rail cars under the twisted metal and broken glass. Army soldiers and air force helicopters joined the effort in Odisha state.
An Associated Press photographer saw bodies still entangled in a badly mangled coach, as rescuers struggled to retrieve them working under the oppressive heat with temperatures reaching up to 35 degree Celsius (96 degrees Fahrenheit).
“By 10 p.m. (on Friday) we were able to rescue the survivors. After that it was about picking up dead bodies,” Sudhanshu Sarangi, director of Odisha state’s fire and emergency department, told The Associated Press.”This is very, very tragic. I have never seen anything like this in my career.”
Inside Russia’s penal colonies: A look at life for political prisoners caught in Putin’s crackdowns
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) – When Alexei Navalny turns 47 on Sunday, he’ll wake up in a bare concrete cell with hardly any natural light.
He won’t be able to see or talk to any of his loved ones.Phone calls and visits are banned for meu those in “punishment isolation” cells, a 2-by-3-meter (6 1/2-by-10-foot) space. Guards usually blast patriotic songs and speeches by President Vladimir Putin at him.
“Guess who is the champion of listening to Putin´s speeches? Who listens to them for hours and falls asleep to them?” Navalny said recently in a typically sardonic social media post via his attorneys from Penal Colony No.6 in the Vladimir region east of Moscow.
He is serving a nine-year term due to end in 2030 on charges widely seen as trumped up, and is facing another trial on new charges that could keep him locked up for another two decades.Rallies have been called for Sunday in Russia to support him.
Navalny has become Russia´s most famous political prisoner – and not just because of his prominence as Putin’s fiercest political foe, his poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin, and his being the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary.
Trump-appointed judge rejects Tennessee’s anti-drag law as too broad, too vague
NASHVILLE, Tenn.(AP) – Tennessee´s first-in-the-nation law designed to place strict limits on drag shows is unconstitutional, a federal judge says.
The law is both “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad” and encouraged “discriminatory enforcement,” according to the ruling late Friday by U.S.District Judge Thomas Parker, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump.
“There is no question that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. But there is a difference between material that is `obscene´ in the vernacular, and material that is `obscene´ under the law,” Parker said.
“Simply put, no majority of the Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit – but not obscene – speech receives less protection than political, artistic, or scientific speech,” he said.
The law would have banned adult cabaret performances from public property or anywhere minors might be present.Performers who broke the law risked being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony for a repeat offense.
Utah district bans Bible in elementary and middle schools ‘due to vulgarity or violence’
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – The Good Book is being treated like a bad book in Utah after a parent frustrated by efforts to ban materials from schools convinced a suburban district that some Bible verses were too vulgar or violent for younger children.
And the Book of Mormon could be next.
The 72,000-student Davis School District north of Salt Lake City removed the Bible from its elementary and middle schools while keeping it in high schools after a committee reviewed the scripture in response to a parental complaint.The district has removed other titles, including Sherman Alexie´s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” and John Green´s “Looking for Alaska,” following a 2022 state law requiring districts to include parents in decisions over what constitutes “sensitive material.”
Representatives for the church declined to comment on the challenge.Members of the faith also read the Bible.
As anti-gay sentiment grows, more LGBTQ+ people seek to flee Uganda
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Pretty Peter flicked through frantic messages from friends at home in Uganda.
The transgender woman is relatively safe in neighboring Kenya.Her friends feel threatened by the latest anti-gay legislation in Uganda prescribing the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.”
Frightened Ugandans are searching for a way to get out like Pretty Peter did. Some have stayed indoors since the law was signed on Monday, fearing that they´ll be targeted, she said.
“Right now, homophobes have received a validation from the government to attack people,” the 26-year-old said, standing in a room decorated with somber portraits from a global project called “Where Love is Illegal.”
“My friends have already seen a change of attitude among their neighbors and are working on obtaining papers and transport money to seek refuge in Kenya,” she said.
China defends buzzing American warship in Taiwan Strait, accuses US of provoking Beijing
SINGAPORE (AP) – China’s defense minister defended sailing a warship across the path of an American destroyer and Canadian frigate transiting the Taiwan Strait, telling a gathering of some of the world’s top defense officials in Singapore on Sunday that such so-called “freedom of navigation” patrols are a provocation to China.
In his first international public address since becoming defense minister in March, Gen. Li Shangfu told the Shangri-La Dialogue that China doesn’t have any problems with “innocent passage” but that “we must prevent attempts that try to use those freedom of navigation (patrols), that innocent passage, to exercise hegemony of navigation.”
U.S.Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the same forum Saturday that Washington would not “flinch in the face of bullying or coercion” from China and would continue regularly sailing through and flying over the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea to emphasize they are international waters, countering Beijing’s sweeping territorial claims.
That same day, as a U.S.
guided-missile destroyer and a Canadian frigate were intercepted by a Chinese warship as they transited the strait between the self-governed island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, and mainland China. The Chinese vessel overtook the American ship and then veered across its bow at a distance of 150 yards (about 140 meters) in an “unsafe manner,” according to the U.S.
Additionally, the U.S. has said a Chinese J-16 fighter jet late last month “performed an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” while intercepting a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, flying directly in front of the plane’s nose.
DeSantis signs Bible, Pence hops on motorcycle at ‘Roast and Ride’ event in Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Amid plates of sliced pork, statement-making leather ensembles and piles of political T-shirts, eight Republican presidential hopefuls descended on Iowa to pitch themselves to voters and, in Mike Pence’s case, hop on a motorcycle.
The former vice president and Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis were among the White House contenders appearing at a rally at the state fairgrounds near Des Moines hosted by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst. Her annual political event, the “Roast and Ride” – a combination barbecue-rally and motorcycle ride – kicks off a busy summer campaign season heading into the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses early next year.
Former President Donald Trump, the leading GOP presidential candidate, was notably absent after spending two days in the state this past week.He has largely avoided any events that have him sharing the stage with his 2024 rivals.
DeSantis, with his wife, Casey, and three young kids in tow, chatted with voters, gave out autographs and signed the Bible of a man who thanked DeSantis for “standing up to Disney.” DeSantis just wrapped up his first week as an official candidate with a blitz of c ampaign stops across three early-voting states.
Casey DeSantis wore a black leather jacket in 86-degree weather with the words “Where Woke Goes to Die” and an outline of Florida on the back.It brought to mind comparisons to first lady Melania Trump, who famously sent a back-of-the-jacket message of her own in 2018 with a green-hooded jacket that read ” I really don´t care do u ” as she departed the White House for a trip to visit migrant children in Texas.
North Korean leader’s sister vows 2nd attempt to launch spy satellite, slams UN meeting
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed again Sunday to push for a second attempt to launch a spy satellite as she lambasted a U.N.Security Council meeting over the North´s first, failed launch.
The North´s attempt to put its first military spy satellite into orbit last Wednesday failed as its rocket crashed off the Korean Peninsula´s western coast.An emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council was still convened at the request of the U.S., Japan and other countries to discuss the launch because it had violated council resolutions banning the North from performing any launch using ballistic technology.
On Sunday, Kim´s sister and senior ruling party official, Kim Yo Jong, called the U.N.council “a political appendage” of the United States, saying its recent meeting was convened following America’s “gangster-like request.”
She accused the U.N. council of being “discriminative and rude” because it only takes issue with the North´s satellite launches while thousands of satellites launched by other countries are already operating in space.She said her country´s attempt to acquire a spy satellite is a legitimate step to respond to military threats posed by the U.S. and its allies.
“(North Korea) will continue to take proactive measures to exercise all the lawful rights of a sovereign state, including the one to a military reconnaissance satellite launch,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement carried by state media.
Vegas Golden Knights come back to beat Florida Panthers in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Zach Whitecloud scored from long range with just over 13 minutes left, after Adin Hill made arguably the best save of the playoffs, and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Florida Panthers 5-2 Saturday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Whitecloud’s goal put Vegas ahead, a crucial penalty kill followed and captain Mark Stone scored an insurance goal that was reviewed for a high stick and confirmed.That combination, plus Hill’s 33 saves, gave Vegas the lead in the series after a feisty opener between Sun Belt teams who wasted little time getting acquainted with big hits during play and plenty of post-whistle pushing and shoving.
Original Knights players Jonathan Marchessault and Shea Theodore also scored on Florida’s two-time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky.
Game 2 is Monday in Las Vegas.
The Panthers ratcheted up the physical play late after falling behind by two.A handful of penalties resulting from a fracas with 4:24 remaining left the Florida bench well short.