Liberal Los Angeles could take right turn in mayor's race

Los Angeles is a heavily Democratic city, but voters this year could take a turn to the political right. A leading candidate for mayor is Rick Caruso, a billionaire former longtime Republican who sits on the Reagan Presidential Foundation board. He's promising to expand – not defund – police. He's in a tight race with Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, a favorite of the party's progressive wing. Twelve names are on the ballot for the June 7 primary, though several candidates have dropped out. Bass and Caruso, who is now a Democrat, could end up in a November runoff that would present a stark choice.

On remote US territories, abortion hurdles mount without Roe

Women from the remote U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands will likely have to travel farther than other Americans to terminate a pregnancy if the Supreme Court overturns a precedent that established a national right to abortion in the United States. Hawaii is the closest U.S. state where abortion is legal under local law. It’s already difficult to get an abortion in Guam, a small, heavily Catholic U.S. territory south of Japan. The last physician who performed surgical abortions there retired in 2018. Two Guam-licensed physicians who live in Hawaii see patients virtually and mail them pills for a medication abortion.

Senators talk expanded gun background checks, red flag laws

A bipartisan group of senators is considering how Congress should respond to the horrific shooting of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. They are restarting gun control talks that have broken down many times before. The Democrats and Republicans say they hope to find consensus on legislation that could help reduce the number of mass shootings in the United States. Senators have narrowed the discussion to a few ideas, many of them based on legislation they have been working on for years, such as expanded background checks or red flag laws that keep guns away from people who could do harm.

Baby formula shortage highlights racial disparities

A massive safety recall and supply disruptions have swept many leading formula brands off store shelves. Many parents are having problems finding formula, but some experts point out systemic inequities contribute to lower rates of breastfeeding among Black and Hispanic women, making their babies more dependent on formula. The majority of formula in the U.S. is bought by low-income families. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20% of Black women and 23% of Hispanic women exclusively breastfeed through six months compared to 29% of white women. The overall rate stands at 26%.

Senate GOP blocks domestic terrorism bill, gun policy debate

A bipartisan group of senators is trying to find a compromise on gun legislation. That's after Democrats’ first attempt at responding to the back-to-back mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, failed Thursday in the Senate. Republicans blocked debate on a domestic terrorism bill that would have opened debate on hate crimes and gun policy. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will give negotiations about two weeks while Congress is in recess. The bipartisan group of senators met after the vote and focused on background checks for guns purchased online or at gun shows, red-flag laws designed to keep guns away from those who could harm themselves or others and school security measures.

Ex-rebel frontrunner in Colombian vote, could shake US ties

Colombians will pick from six candidates in a presidential ballot being held Sunday amid a generalized feeling the country is heading in the wrong direction. The latest opinion polls suggest that front-running leftist Gustavo Petro could get 40% of the votes, with a 15-point lead over his closest rival. But the senator needs 50% to avoid a run-off election in June against the second place finisher. His main rival through most of the campaign has been Federico Gutierrez, a former mayor of Medellin who is backed by most of Colombia’s traditional parties and is running on a pro-business, economic growth platform.

China and Russia veto new UN sanctions on North Korea

China and Russia have vetoed a U.N. resolution sponsored by the United States that would have imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea for its spate of intercontinental ballistic missile launches that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons. The vote in the 15-member Security Council on Thursday was 13-2 and marked a first serious division among the five veto-wielding permanent members of the U.N.’s most powerful body on a North Korea sanctions resolution. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield appealed for unity before the vote, calling North Korea’s six ICBM tests this year “a threat to the entire international community.”

Live updates | Mayor: Some 1,500 killed in Sievierodonetsk

The mayor of Sievierodonetsk says the Ukrainian city is holding out, although a Russian reconnaissance and sabotage group went into a city hotel. Sievierodonetsk is the center of fierce fighting in the east. Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk says at least 1,500 people have been killed in Sievierodonetsk and about 12,000 to 13,000 remain in the city, where he says 60% of residential buildings have been destroyed. Sievierodonetsk is the only part of the Luhansk region in the Donbas under Ukrainian government control. Russian forces have been trying to cut it off from the rest of Ukrainian-controlled territory. Stryuk says the main road between the neighboring town of Lysychansk and Bakhmut to the southwest remains open, but travel is dangerous.

Iraqi lawmakers pass bill criminalizing any ties with Israel

Iraqi lawmakers have passed a bill criminalizing any normalization of ties and any relations, including business ties, with Israel. The law was approved on Thursday, with 275 lawmakers voting in favor of it in the 329-seat assembly. Violating the law would be punishable with the death sentence or life imprisonment. An influential Shiite cleric called for Iraqis to take to the streets to celebrate the bill and hundreds later gathered in central Baghdad, chanting anti-Israel slogans. It's unclear how the law will be implemented as Iraq and Israel have no diplomatic relations.

US general: No need to add ground forces in Sweden, Finland

The U.S. general nominated to take over European Command tells senators that Sweden and Finland’s push to join NATO won’t require putting more U.S. ground forces into either country. But Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli says military exercises and occasional American troop rotations will probably increase. Cavoli currently serves as head of U.S. Army Europe and Africa. He says the increased military focus will probably continue to be on eastern Europe — where nations are more worried about potential Russian aggression and any spillover of the war on Ukraine.

Native students exercise right to wear regalia at graduation

Native American students in southern Utah donned beaded caps and eagle feathers at high school graduations this week, months after the state passed a law enshrining their right to wear tribal regalia at the ceremonies. Utah is among a growing list of states where lawmakers have responded to reports of Native American students being barred from wearing beaded caps or eagle feathers at graduation by passing laws to stop school districts from banning them. Native American students, advocates and attorneys argue the right to wear regalia to celebrate milestones is an important cultural and spiritual practice for many tribes throughout the United States.

Heller attacks Lombardo in Nevada's GOP race for governor

A former U.S. senator is making a late bid to derail the Nevada Republican whom Donald Trump has endorsed for governor. Dean Heller attacked front-runner Joe Lombardo’s stands on key conservative issues during a debate Wednesday night. He also characterized Lombardo, who heads the Las Vegas police department, as “best friends” with Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. Lombardo urged Heller and other primary candidates to follow the former president’s lead and embrace his nomination in the June 14 primary. With early voting beginning Saturday, Lombardo says he leads in the polls, has raised the most money and has Trump's blessing. He said, “For all practical purposes, this primary is over."

Buffalo is latest mass shooting by gunman wearing body armor

When a shooter attacked a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, on May 14, its security guard tried to stop him. At least one of the guard's shots hit the gunman, but it didn’t stop the deadly rampage because the gunman was wearing body armor. The racist massacre that killed 10 Black people is the latest mass shooting in which the gunman apparently came prepared for anyone trying to stop him with a gun. A database maintained by The Violence Project shows at least 21 mass shooters over the last four decades have worn body armor, most of those within the last decade.

Senate confirms Steven Cliff to lead highway safety agency

The Senate has confirmed former California pollution regulator Steven Cliff to run the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. President Joe Biden’s pick to run the agency was confirmed Thursday by consent without objections or a formal roll call vote. Cliff takes over the road safety agency at a critical time, a week after it estimated that nearly 43,000 people were killed on U.S. roads last year, the highest number in 16 years. He told the Senate Commerce Committee in December that he would work to adopt regulations such as those urging seat belt use, and would implement mandates under the new infrastructure law to reduce drunken driving.

Russia slams sanctions, seeks to blame West for food crisis

Russia is pressing the West to lift sanctions over the war in Ukraine, seeking to shift the blame for a growing food crisis. That crisis is worsened by Kyiv’s inability to ship millions of tons of grain and other agricultural products because of the conflict. According to the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Italy's prime minister that Russia would help with grain exports if sanctions are lifted. Britain accused Moscow of trying to hold the world ransom and insisted there would be no sanctions relief. Meanwhile, Russia made incremental advances as fighting continued in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. Separately, two Russian soldiers pleaded guilty to shelling civilian infrastructure during the war, which is now in its fourth month.

Florida Gov. DeSantis signs property insurance legislation

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into a law sweeping property insurance legislation that creates a $2 billion reinsurance fund and rewrites rules on coverage denials and attorney fees in a move to stabilize rising costs and insurer losses. DeSantis announced the bill signings in a statement Thursday that called the package “the most significant reforms to Florida’s homeowners insurance market in a generation.” The signings mark an end to a special legislative session on insurance where lawmakers in the GOP-controlled statehouse approved the broad measures in three days, with little public input or expert analysis.

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