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GOP governor's vaccination tour reveals depths of distrust
TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — Free lottery tickets for those who get vaccinated had few takers. Free hunting and fishing licenses didn't change many minds either. And this being red-state Arkansas, mandatory vaccinations are off the table.
So Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has hit the road, meeting face-to-face with residents to try to overcome vaccine hesitancy — in many cases, hostility — in Arkansas, which has the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. but is near the very bottom in dispensing shots.
He is meeting with residents like Harvey Woods, who was among five dozen people who gathered at a convention center ballroom in Texarkana on Thursday night. Most of the audience wasn't masked, and neither was Hutchinson, who has been vaccinated.
Woods, 67, introduced himself to Hutchinson as “anti-vax" and said that he thinks there are too many questions about the effects of the vaccine and that he doesn't believe the information from the federal government about them is reliable.
Hutchinson and his top health official tried to reassure Woods about the Food and Drug Administration's review process. But Hutchinson had a question for Woods.
Analysis: How Afghan war showed limits of US military power
WASHINGTON (AP) — It took only two months for U.S. invaders to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, a seemingly tidy success against a government that had given refuge to 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Twenty years later, the United States is withdrawing — visions of victory long vanished and an ascendant Taliban arguably within reach of restoring their rule.
Afghanistan proved to be a lesson in the limits of America's military power.
It demonstrated the seeming paradox that it is possible to win the battles and still lose the war. Or at least that a technologically superior force can kill more efficiently than its enemy yet fail to achieve a final result resembling victory.
It showed that in the 21st century, it takes more than a conquering army, even one as well armed as America's, to convert the overthrow of a government, even one as tenuous as the Taliban's, into a lasting success. It showed that it takes, at a minimum, an understanding of local politics, history and culture that the Americans were slow to acquire.
The United States underestimated how much its presence as an occupier fueled Taliban motivation to fight and limited the Kabul government's ability to unite. Although bin Laden eventually was killed and his al-Qaida network blunted as an international threat, Afghans are still caught in a cycle of violence and misrule with no end in sight.
California fire prompts evacuations; Oregon blaze balloons
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A rapidly growing wildfire south of Lake Tahoe jumped a highway, prompting more evacuation orders and the cancellation of an extreme bike ride through the Sierra Nevada on Saturday as critically dangerous wildfire weather loomed in the coming days.
The Tamarack Fire, which was sparked by lightning on July 4, exploded overnight and was over 32 square miles (82 square kilometers) as of Saturday evening, according to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The blaze was threatening Markleeville, a small town close to the California-Nevada state line. It has destroyed at least three structures, authorities said, and was burning toward the Alpine County Airport after jumping a highway.
A notice posted on the 103-mile (165-kilometer) Death Ride's website said several communities in the area had been evacuated and ordered all riders to clear the area. The fire left thousands of bikers and spectators stranded in the small town and racing to get out.
Kelli Pennington and her family were camping near the town Friday so her husband could participate in his ninth ride when they were told to leave. They had been watching smoke develop over the course of the day, but were caught off guard by the fire's quick spread.
“It happened so fast,” Pennington said. “We left our tents, hammock and some foods, but we got most of our things, shoved our two kids in the car and left."
Europe flood death toll tops 160, costly rebuilding ahead
BERLIN (AP) — Rescue workers labored to deal with damage laid bare by receding water Saturday as the death toll from disastrous flooding in Western Europe rose above 160 and thoughts turned to the lengthy job of rebuilding communities devastated in minutes.
The death toll in western Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate state, home to the badly hit Ahrweiler county, rose to 98. Another 43 people were confirmed dead in neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state. Belgium’s national crisis center said the country's confirmed death toll rose to 27.
Days of heavy rain turned normally minor rivers and streets into raging torrents this week and caused the disastrous flooding that swept away cars, engulfed homes and trapped residents.
Immediately after the floods hit on Wednesday and Thursday, German authorities listed large numbers of people as missing — something apparently caused in large part by confusion, multiple reporting and communications difficulties in the affected areas, some of which lacked electricity and telephone service.
By Saturday, authorities still feared finding more people dead, but said numbers unaccounted for had dropped constantly, without offering specific figures. In Belgium, 103 people were listed as missing Saturday, but the crisis center said lost or uncharged cellphones and people taken to hospitals without identification who hadn't had an opportunity to contact relatives were believed to be factors in the tally.
Padres-Nats game suspended after shooting outside DC stadium
WASHINGTON (AP) — The game between the San Diego Padres and Washington was suspended in the sixth inning Saturday night after police said there was a shooting outside Nationals Park.
Two people were shot, said Dustin Sternbeck, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesman. Investigators believe, based on preliminary information, that one of the victims was an employee at the stadium, he said.
Washington police later tweeted that "two additional victims associated with this incident walked into area hospitals for treatment of gunshot wounds.”
More than two dozen police cars, ambulances and fire engines were on the street outside the third base side of the stadium and a police helicopter hovered overhead.
The Padres had just taken the field for the bottom of the sixth when several loud pops were heard from the left field side of the ballpark.
AP FACT CHECK: Trump makes false claims about Arizona audit
PHOENIX (AP) — Former President Donald Trump issued three statements in two days falsely claiming that voting fraud and irregularities cost him Arizona's electoral votes.
Trump relied on comments made Thursday by contractors hired by state Senate Republicans to oversee a partisan review of the 2020 vote count in Maricopa County, which includes metro Phoenix.
The “forensic audit,” as Senate GOP leaders are calling their review, is overseen by Cyber Ninjas, a small computer security firm with no election experience before Trump began questioning the 2020 results. Its CEO, Doug Logan, spread false conspiracy theories about the election before he was hired to lead the Arizona review.
Logan and Ben Cotton, a digital forensics analyst working on the audit, described issues they say need further review. Trump has parroted them as evidence the election results are tainted.
County officials and elections experts say the claims are false and based on a misunderstanding of election materials, which they say creates an appearance of irregularities where none exists.
Dozens treated after chemical leak at Texas water park
A chemical leak at a Houston-area water park left dozens suffering from minor skin irritation and respiratory issues Saturday, authorities said.
Twenty-nine people were taken to local hospitals following the incident at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown in Spring, the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office tweeted. Thirty-nine others declined to be taken to a hospital after undergoing decontamination procedures.
KPRC-TV reports that some of those who became sick were children, including a 3-year-old who was hospitalized in stable condition.
The chemicals involved included hypochlorite solution and 35% sulfuric acid, officials said.
“The safety of our guests and team member is always our highest priority and the park was immediately cleared as we try to determine a cause,” Hurricane Harbor Splashtown spokesperson Rosie Shepard said in a statement, according to news outlets. "Out of an abundance of caution, the park has been closed for the day.”
France: Thousands protest against vaccination, COVID passes
PARIS (AP) — Over 100,000 people protested across France on Saturday against the government’s latest measures to push people to get vaccinated and curb rising infections by the delta variant of the coronavirus.
In Paris, separate protest marches by the far-right and the far-left wound through different parts of the city. Demonstrations were also held in Strasbourg in the east, Lille in the north, Montpellier in the south and elsewhere.
Thousands of people answered calls to take to the streets by Florian Philippot, a fringe far-right politician and former right hand of Marine Le Pen who announced earlier this month that he would run in the 2022 presidential election. Gathered a stone’s throw away from the Louvre Museum, protesters chanted “Macron, clear off!”, “Freedom," and banged metal spoons on saucepans.
While Philippot has organized small but regular protests against the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, Saturday's demonstration drew a larger and more diverse crowd of people broadly disaffected with politics: yellow vest activists angry over perceived economic injustice, far-right supporters, medical staff and royalists.
They denounced the government’s decision on Monday to make vaccines compulsory for all health care workers, and to require a “health pass” proving people are fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative or recovered from the virus in order to access restaurants and other public venues. President Emmanuel Macron’s government is presenting a draft law Monday to enshrine the measures.
Martine Moïse, wife of slain president, returns to Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Martine Moïse, the wife of Haiti’s assassinated president who was injured in the July 7 attack at their private home, returned to the Caribbean nation on Saturday following her release from a Miami hospital.
Her arrival was unannounced and surprised many in the country of more than 11 million people still reeling from the killing of Jovenel Moïse in a raid authorities say involved Haitians, Haitian-Americans and former Colombian soldiers.
Martine Moïse disembarked the flight at the Port-au-Prince airport wearing a black dress, a black bulletproof jacket, a black face mask, and her right arm in a black sling as she slowly walked down the steps of what appeared to be a private plan one by one. She was greeted by Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph and other officials.
Earlier this week, she tweeted from the Miami hospital that she could not believe her husband, Jovenel Moïse, was gone "without saying a last word,” she wrote. “This pain will never pass.”
On Friday, government officials had announced that Jovenel Moïse's funeral would be held on July 23 in the northern Haitian city of Cap-Haitien and that his wife is expected to attend.
'Titane' wins top Cannes honor, 2nd ever for female director
Julia Ducournau's “Titane,” a wild body-horror thriller featuring sex with a car and a surprisingly tender heart, won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, making Ducournau just the second female filmmaker to win the festival’s top honor in its 74 year history.
The win on Saturday was mistakenly announced by jury president Spike Lee at the top of the closing ceremony, broadcast in France on Canal+, unleashing a few moments of confusion. Ducournau, a French filmmaker, didn't come to the stage to accept the award until the formal announcement at the end of the ceremony. But the early hint didn't diminish from her emotional response.
“I’m sorry, I keep shaking my head,” said Ducournau, catching her breath. “Is this real? I don't know why I'm speaking English right now because I'm French. This evening has been so perfect because it was not perfect.”
After several false starts, Lee implored Sharon Stone to make the Palme d'Or announcement, explaining: “She's not going to mess it up.” The problems started earlier when Lee was asked to say which prize would be awarded first. Instead, he announced the evening's final prize, as fellow juror Mati Diop plunged her head into her hands and others rushed to stop him.
Lee, himself, spent several moments with his head in his hands before apologizing profusely for taking a lot of the suspense out of the evening.
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