National

Biden's mission in Europe: Shore up alliance against Russia

President Joe Biden is aiming to sustain the global alliance punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine as he embarks on a five-day trip to Europe. His trip comes as the 4-month-old war shows no sign of abating and its aftershocks to global food and energy supplies are only deepening. Biden first joins a meeting of the Group of Seven leading economic powers in the Bavarian Alps of Germany before traveling to Madrid for a NATO summit. The global coalition bolstering Ukraine and punishing Russia for its aggression has showed signs of fraying amid skyrocketing inflation in food and energy prices caused by the conflict.

Police at Arizona Capitol fire tear gas, disperse protesters

Police fired tear gas to disperse abortion rights backers demonstrating  from outside the Arizona Capitol Friday night, forcing lawmakers to huddle briefly in a basement inside the building as they rushed to complete their 2022 session. Thousands of protesters had gathered earlier on the Capitol grounds in Phoenix, divided into groups both supporting and condemning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Tear gas forced senators to move their deliberations from the Senate chamber. Republican lawmakers approved a massive expansion of the private school voucher system and a major water proposal drew bipartisan support.

Police: 5-month-old girl in car fatally shot in Chicago

A 5-month-old girl has been shot to death while sitting in the rear of a car in Chicago. Chicago police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified the child as Cecilia Thomas. She was struck in the head when shots were fired from another vehicle. She later died at a hospital. Police said a 41-year-old man in another vehicle was in good condition at a hospital after suffering a gunshot wound near his eye. No arrests have been made. The baby is among the youngest victims of gun violence in Chicago. She would have turned 6-months-old in four days, according to Natalia Derevyanny, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Is abortion illegal in the U.S. now? Depends where you live

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. Friday's ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. In anticipation of the decision, several states led by Democrats have taken steps to protect abortion access. The decision also sets up the potential for legal fights between the states over whether providers and those who help women obtain abortions can be sued or prosecuted.

'Mitt Romney Republican' is now a potent GOP primary attack

Mitt Romney isn’t up for reelection this year, but his name is surfacing in Republican primaries throughout the nation. Candidates are using the label “Mitt Romney Republican” to frame opponents as insufficiently conservative and enemies of the Trump-era GOP. Candidates have employed the concept in attack ads and talking points in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Romney's home state Utah, Republican challengers taking on incumbent congressmen are using the attack, even though Romney won overwhelmingly only four years ago. The fact that Romney remains potent attack fodder reflects his singular position in politics and ongoing divisions within the Republican Party.

Pope hails families, blasts 'culture of waste' after Roe

Pope Francis is urging families to shun “selfish” decisions that are indifferent to life as he closed out a big Vatican family rally a day after the U.S. Supreme Court ended constitutional protections for abortion.Francis didn’t refer to the ruling or explicitly mention abortion in his homily Saturday. But he used the buzzwords he has throughout his papacy about the need to defend families and condemn the “culture of waste” that he believes is behind the societal acceptance of abortion.Francis has strongly upheld church teaching opposing abortion, equating it to “hiring a hitman to solve a problem.” At the same time, he has expressed sympathy for women who have had abortions and has made it easier for them to be absolved of the sin of abortion.

Supreme Court conservatives flex muscle in sweeping rulings

Sweeping Supreme Court rulings on guns and abortion this past week have sent an unmistakable message. And that message is that conservative justices hold the power and aren't afraid to use it to make transformative changes in the law. It was never clearer than when the court took away a woman’s right to abortion that had stood for nearly 50 years. The conservative majority said no more half measures when they overturned Roe v. Wade and allowed states to outlaw abortion. And the day before, they ruled for the first time that Americans the right to carry handguns in public for self-defense. The decisions are the latest and perhaps clearest manifestation of the court's control by an aggressive conservative majority.

Pfizer says tweaked COVID-19 shots boost omicron protection

Pfizer says tweaking its COVID-19 vaccine to better target the omicron variant is safe and boosts protection. Saturday's announcement comes just days before regulators debate whether to offer Americans updated booster shots this fall. The current COVID-19 vaccines still offer strong protection against hospitalization and death. But protection against infection has dropped markedly with the omicron variant, and now its even more transmissible relatives are spreading. Pfizer says either an omicron-targeted booster or a combination shot that mixes the original vaccine with omicron protection substantially increases protection. Rival Moderna hopes to offer a similar combination shot.

Abortion ruling thrusts companies into divisive arena

The Supreme Court’s decision to end the nation’s constitutional protections for abortion has catapulted businesses of all types into the most divisive corner of politics. A rash of iconic names including The Walt Disney Company, Facebook parent Meta, and Goldman Sachs announced they would pay for travel expenses for those who want the procedure but can't get it in the states they live in. Others including J.P. Morgan Chase, Starbucks and Yelp reiterated past pledges they would cover travel expenses. But of the dozens of big companies that The Associated Press reached out to, many like McDonald's, PepsiCo and Walmart remained silent, underscoring how divisive the issue is.

Biden signs landmark gun measure, says 'lives will be saved'

President Joe Biden has signed the most sweeping gun violence bill in decades. The bipartisan compromise seemed unimaginable until a recent series of mass shootings, including the massacre of 19 students and two teachers at a Texas elementary school. The House gave final approval Friday, following Senate passage Thursday, and Biden acted just before leaving Washington for two world leader summits in Europe. The legislation will toughen background checks for the youngest gun buyers, keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders and help states put in place laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people adjudged to be dangerous. Most of its $13 billion cost will help bolster mental health programs and aid schools

Dems hope to harness outrage, sadness after abortion ruling

Democratic officials across the nation hope to harness their party's collective outrage and sadness to improve their political outlook this fall after the Supreme Court's stunning decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Abortion was an afterthought for much of the year for many voters. It was overshadowed by record gas prices, surging inflation and President Joe Biden’s low popularity. But on Friday, a Supreme Court majority of conservative justices ensured that abortion would be a central issue in U.S. politics for the foreseeable future. Polling shows that relatively few Americans wanted to see Roe overturned.

Army Guard troops risk dismissal as vaccine deadline looms

Up to 40,000 Army National Guard soldiers haven't yet gotten the mandated COVID-19 vaccine. That's about 13% of the force. And as the deadline for shots nears, at least 14,000 of them have flatly refused and could be forced out of the service. Guard soldiers have until this coming Thursday to get the vaccine. Data obtained by The Associated Press shows that between 20% to 30% of the Guard soldiers in six states aren't vaccinated and more than 10% in 43 other states still need shots. Guard leaders say states are doing all they can to encourage soldiers to get vaccinated by the time limit.

Democrats vow to help women who must travel for abortions

Democratic leaders across the nation are vowing to help women who travel to seek abortions. They also pledged Friday to shield patients and medical professionals from being pursued by authorities in states where the procedure becomes outlawed after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. On the West Coast, the Democratic governors of California, Washington and Oregon issued a joint “multi-state commitment,” saying they will work together to defend patients and care providers. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, also a Democrat, emphasized the importance of the November election. In that state, the GOP controls the Legislature but lacks veto-proof majorities to outlaw abortion.

Canisius recruit, Milwaukee native gets bail on gun charges; school drops him

A New York state supreme court judge has set bail at $100,000 for a Canisius College basketball recruit arrested for having two handguns, a shotgun and numerous high-capacity magazines outside the school’s indoor athletic complex. Shortly after Judge Debra Givens granted bail to Sarion McGee, Canisius athletic director Bill Maher told The Associated Press that McGee will not be admitted to the school. Maher cited the seriousness of the charges and noted that while McGee was recruited to play at Canisius, the admissions process was not complete. The judge questioned why the 23-year-old McGee didn't familiarize himself with New York state gun laws before moving from Wisconsin.

Congress alleges 'shadow' probe by Commanders owner Snyder

A U.S. House committee says Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder conducted a “shadow investigation” that sought to discredit former employees making accusations of workplace sexual harassment. The committee released a memo ahead of a hearing Wednesday. The Committee on Oversight and Reform is investigating the Commanders’ workplace culture following accusations of pervasive sexual harassment by team executives of women employees. Snyder declined to testify at the hearing, but the committee plans to issue a subpoena to compel a deposition. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told the committee that Snyder “has been held accountable."

Biden calls for 3-month suspension of gas and diesel taxes

President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months — an election-year move meant to ease financial pressures. But it's not clear Biden has the votes to suspend the taxes. Many lawmakers in his own party have expressed reservations. Biden says he knows the move wouldn't reduce “all the pain but it will be a big help.” If the gas tax savings were fully passed along to consumers, people would save roughly 3.6% at the pump. Prices average about $5 a gallon nationwide. Biden also wants states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief.

Biden says decision on gas tax holiday may come this week

President Joe Biden says he’s considering pressing for a holiday on the federal gasoline tax. That could possibly save U.S. consumers as much as 18.4 cents a gallon. Biden told reporters Monday that his decision could come by the end of the week. The administration is increasingly looking for ways to spare the public from higher prices at the pump, which began to climb last year and surged after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Gas prices nationwide are averaging just under $5 a gallon, according to AAA. Taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel help pay for highways.

New body armor rules in NY miss vest worn by Buffalo killer

A new law barring sales of bullet-resistant vests to most civilians in New York doesn't cover the type of armor worn by the gunman who killed 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket. That gap is raising questions about the law's effectiveness in deterring military-style assaults. Payton Gendron wore a steel-plated vest during the May 14 attack. The armor stopped a handgun round fired by a store security guard who tried to halt Gendron's rampage. The law hastily enacted by state lawmakers after the attack only restricts sales of “bullet-resistant soft body armor.” That has lawmakers talking about a possible fix.

Bill Cosby civil trial jury must start deliberations over

After two days of deliberations, jurors in a civil trial deciding on sexual abuse allegations against Bill Cosby will have to start from scratch on Monday. By the end of Friday, jurors had decided on nearly all questions put before them, including whether Cosby had sexually assaulted plaintiff Judy Huth at the Playboy Mansion in 1975 when she was 16. Los Angeles County Judge Craig Karlan, who had promised one juror she could depart after Friday, wanted to accept the partial verdict, but courthouse closure rules left him no choice but to close down. Jurors will begin again with an alternate.

Title IX's next battle: The rights of transgender athletes

The law known as Title IX has influenced athletics in the United States for 50 years. Many wonder if the law should be reshaped to ensure participation for transgender athletes in sports in much the same way the statute enshrined rights for women. Without federal legislation to set parameters, officials in at least 40 states have adopted their own rules and laws. There are big differences. Some rules bar transgender athletes from girls and women's sports. Others define someone's sex as the one they are assigned at birth. It underscores how difficult it will be to reach a national consensus.