Politics

Russia fires missiles across Ukraine, cements gains in east

Russian forces are seeking to swallow up the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the eastern Luhansk region while pressing their momentum following the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the charred ruins of Sievierodonetsk. The military said Moscow-backed separatists were now in full control of the chemical plant that was the last Ukrainian holdout in the city. Russia also launched dozens of missiles Saturday on several areas across the country far from the heart of the eastern battles. Ukraine's air command says some of the missiles were fired from Russian long-range Tu-22 bombers deployed to Belarus for the first time. Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that Moscow plans to supply Belarus with the Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile system.

Wisconsin's Evers looks for boost from anger over abortion

Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers hopes to translate anger over the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade into votes this fall as he vows to fight a 173-year-old state abortion ban in any way he can. Evers won election in the battleground state four years ago by just over 1 percentage point. He told The Associated Press ahead of his appearance Saturday at the Wisconsin Democratic Party convention that abortion will energize key independent voters to support him and other Democrats. Wisconsin’s governor’s race is expected to be one of the hardest fought in the country this year.

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.

'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.

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.

Senate OKs landmark gun violence bill, House passage is next

The Senate has approved a bipartisan gun violence bill. The vote late Thursday clears the way for expected House passage Friday of what will be Congress’ most far-reaching response in decades to the nation’s run of brutal mass shootings. Republicans have long derailed Democratic efforts to curb firearms. But after last month's mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, Democrats and some Republicans decided that congressional inaction was untenable. It took nearly a month of closed-door talks but a group of senators from both parties emerged with a compromise embodying incremental but impactful movement.

Hearing: Trump told Justice Dept. to call election 'corrupt'

Former top Justice Department officials have testified to the Jan. 6 committee that President Donald Trump hounded the department to pursue his false election fraud claims. They say he contacted the agency’s leader “virtually every day” and strove in vain to enlist the government’s top law enforcement officials in his desperate bid to stay in power. The House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol also revealed Thursday that several Republican loyalists in Congress who trumpeted the president’s claims later sought pardons from the White House after the effort failed.