National And World News

R. Kelly's lawyer gets chance to question government witness

R. Kelly’s legal team is getting its chance Friday to question the government’s star witness at the R&B singer's federal trial in Chicago. The witness, who goes by the pseudonym Jane at the trial, testified Thursday that Kelly sexually abused her hundreds of times before she turned 18. The singer, who faces charges that include child pornography and enticement of minors, has denied any wrongdoing. Jane also told jurors it was her and Kelly in a videotape that was at the heart of his 2008 child pornography trial, at which he was acquitted. When a prosecutor asked Jane how old she was at the time the video was shot, she said quietly: “14.” Kelly would have been around 30 years old at the time.

North Dakota school board reinstates Pledge of Allegiance

The school board in North Dakota’s most populous city has reversed course on its decision to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at its monthly meetings. The group decided to reconsider at a special meeting Thursday following complaints from conservative lawmakers and widespread bashing from citizens. Seven of the nine members of the Fargo Board of Education, including four newcomers who took office in June, had voted last week to cancel a previous board edict to recite the pledge that passed a couple of months before the election. The new board said the oath did not align with the district’s diversity and inclusion code. All but one of the board members voted to reinstate the pledge, saying the controversy was a distraction to the district.

Anti-vax group in Europe thrives online, thwarts tech effort

An anti-vaccine group that has harassed doctors and public officials in Italy and France is still active on platforms like Facebook despite efforts to rein in their abuse and misinformation. The organization, known as V_V, bombards its victims with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of abusive posts. V_V has also put up bounties for anti-vaccine graffiti, and tried to disrupt vaccine clinics. Facebook took action against the network last year but V_V remains active on that platform and others, showing just how difficult it can be for tech companies to stop coordinated harassment or potentially dangerous claims about vaccines.

Backyard mosquito spraying booms, but may be too deadly

It's an increasingly familiar sight in U.S. cities and suburbs: workers in gloves and masks, spraying yards for mosquitoes. As climate change widens the insect's range and lengthens its prime season, more Americans are resorting to the booming industry of professional extermination. But the chemical bombardment worries scientists who fear over-use of pesticides is harming pollinators and worsening a growing threat to birds that eat insects. Federal officials report “dramatic” increases in illnesses spread by mosquitoes and other blood feeders, including Zika and West Nile viruses. At the same time, many beneficial insect species are threatened with extinction. Some experts say spraying should be a last resort, after removing breeding sites like standing water.

Anti-vax group in Europe thrives online, thwarts tech effort

An anti-vaccine group that has harassed doctors and public officials in Italy and France is still active on platforms like Facebook despite efforts to rein in their abuse and misinformation. The organization, known as V_V, bombards its victims with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of abusive posts. V_V has also put up bounties for anti-vaccine graffiti, and tried to disrupt vaccine clinics. Facebook took action against the network last year but V_V remains active on that platform and others, showing just how difficult it can be for tech companies to stop coordinated harassment or potentially dangerous claims about vaccines.

Asian markets mixed after Wall St gains on jobs data

Asian stock markets are mixed after Wall Street rose as investors analyzed conflicting economic signals ahead of a Federal Reserve conference next week. Shanghai and Seoul declined while Tokyo and Hong Kong advanced. Oil prices edged lower but stayed above $90 per barrel. Wall Street rose, rebounding from Wednesday’s tumble, after corporate results and fewer unemployment claims than expected suggested the U.S. economy has pockets of resiliency despite interest rate hikes. Investors worry the Fed and central banks in Europe and Asia might derail global economic growth as they hike rates to cool inflation that is running at multi-decade highs.

Crisis looms without big cuts to over-tapped Colorado River

Dire consequences could result if states, cities and farms across the American West cannot agree on how to cut the amount of water they draw from the Colorado River. Hydroelectric turbines may stop turning. Las Vegas and Phoenix may be forced to restrict water usage or growth. Farmers may have to stop planting some crops. Yet for years, seven states that depend on the river have allowed more water to be taken from it than nature can replenish. Despite widespread recognition of the crisis, the states missed a deadline this week to propose cuts. And the government stopped short of imposing cuts on its own.

Arizona judge to hear state request to enforce abortion ban

An Arizona judge is set to hear arguments on the state’s request to allow it to enforce a near-total ban on abortions under a law that has been blocked for nearly 50 years. Abortion-rights advocates are fighting the request from Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich. He wants prosecutors to be able to charge doctors who provide abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger. That law was first enacted decades before Arizona was granted statehood in 1912 and blocked following the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. The nation's high court overturned Roe in June and said women do not have a constitutional right to an abortion. A judge in Tucson will hear the Arizona case on Friday.