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National News

US jobless claims rise to 861,000 as layoffs stay high

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid rose last week to 861,000, evidence that layoffs remain painfully high despite a steady drop in the number of confirmed viral infections. Applications from laid-off workers rose 13,000 from the previous week, which was ...

SC governor signs abortion ban; Planned Parenthood sues

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's governor on Thursday signed a bill banning most abortions, one of his top priorities since he took office more than four years ago. Planned Parenthood immediately sued, effectively preventing the new law from taking effect. The "South Carolina Fetal ...

Widespread power outages, icy conditions hobble food supply

A series of winter storms and widespread power outages gripping Texas and other states not used to such extreme low temperatures are creating big challenges in the nation's food supply networks. Grocery chains like Walmart and Publix have been forced to close some stores either because of lack ...

Massive storms, outages force tough decisions amid pandemic

DALLAS (AP) — Ashley Archer, a pregnant, 33-year-old Texas financial adviser, and her husband have been cautious about the coronavirus. They work from home, go out mostly just to get groceries and wear masks whenever they are in public. But when a friend lost power amid the winter storms ...

Texas prices for lodging, necessities skyrocket amid storm

Hotel rooms for $1,000 a night. Gasoline prices spiking. Even bottled water prices doubling or tripling overnight. Officials in Texas say the winter storm that knocked out power and water to millions of residents is providing an opportunity for some unscrupulous merchants to take advantage of ...

NASA rover lands on Mars to look for signs of ancient life

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA rover streaked through the orange Martian sky and landed on the planet Thursday, accomplishing the riskiest step yet in an epic quest to bring back rocks that could answer whether life ever existed on Mars. Ground controllers at the space agency's Jet ...

‘Obviously a mistake’: Cruz returns from Cancun after uproar

DALLAS (AP) — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said his family vacation to Mexico was "obviously a mistake" as he returned stateside Thursday following an uproar over his disappearance during a deadly winter storm. The Republican senator said he began second-guessing the trip since the moment he first ...

Biden rolling out plan for $4 billion global vaccine effort

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden will use his first big presidential moment on the global stage at Friday's Group of Seven meeting of world leaders to announce that the U.S. will soon begin releasing $4 billion for an international effort to bolster the purchase and distribution of coronavirus ...

US life expectancy drops a year in pandemic, most since WWII

Life expectancy in the United States dropped a staggering one year during the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic caused its first wave of deaths, health officials are reporting. Minorities suffered the biggest impact, with Black Americans losing nearly three years and Hispanics, ...

Impeachment over, Congress shifts focus to security failures

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the still shaken and heavily guarded U.S. Capitol, thousands of National Guard troops still wander the halls. Glass windows remain broken. Doors swing without handles. And in the grand marble hallways, which amplified the shouts of insurrectionists just over a month ago, ...

Graceland plans in-person events during Elvis Week

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — On the 44th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, fans will get to celebrate the musician once again at the annual Elvis Week event in Memphis, Tennessee. Presley's Graceland is preparing to host visitors and offer in-person events for Elvis Week from Aug. 11 through ...

Biden describes life at the White House: ‘A gilded cage’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four weeks into his presidency, Joe Biden is still getting used to the trappings of the office. Biden offered a frank description of life at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. during his CNN town hall Tuesday night, referencing past presidents who have spoken of the White House as "a ...

Ex-FBI agent linked to Whitey Bulger to be freed from prison

BOSTON (AP) — A former FBI agent convicted of second-degree murder for leaking information to Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger that led to the shooting death of a gambling executive will be released from prison on medical grounds, officials ruled Wednesday. The Florida Commission on ...

California lawmakers propose ban on fracking by 2027

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — New legislation would ban all fracking in California by 2027, taking aim at the powerful oil and gas industry in the state already planning to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035. Progressive California has long been a leader in combating climate change, ...

Thousands of service members saying no to COVID-19 vaccine

WASHINGTON (AP) — By the thousands, U.S. service members are refusing or putting off the COVID-19 vaccine as frustrated commanders scramble to knock down internet rumors and find the right pitch that will persuade troops to get the shot. Some Army units are seeing as few as one-third agree ...

NASA rover attempting most difficult Martian touchdown yet

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Spacecraft aiming to land on Mars have skipped past the planet, burned up on entry, smashed into the surface, and made it down amid a fierce dust storm only to spit out a single fuzzy gray picture before dying. Almost 50 years after the first casualty at Mars, ...

EXPLAINER: How will we know we’ve reached herd immunity?

Health officials around the world are racing to vaccinate enough people to stop the spread of COVID-19, but what qualifies as "enough" is still an open question. The goal is to get to "herd immunity," which is when enough people have immunity, either from vaccination or a past infection, to ...

US govt seizes over 10M phony N95 masks in COVID-19 probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal agents have seized more than 10 million fake 3M brand N95 masks in recent weeks, the result of an ongoing investigation into counterfeits sold in at least five states to hospitals, medical facilities and government agencies. The most recent seizures occurred ...

Crippling weather hampers vaccine deliveries, distribution

The icy blast across much of the U.S. injected more confusion and frustration into the nation's COVID-19 vaccination drive Wednesday just when it was gathering speed, snarling vaccine deliveries and forcing the cancellation of countless shots around the country. Across a large swath of the ...

Promises on schools pose political problem for Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is in a political firestorm over how and when to get more schools open amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Republicans seizing on confusion surrounding Biden's goal to reopen a majority of schools within his first 100 days to paint the president as ...