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AP News Summary at 8:06 a.m. EDT

May 18, 2023

A judge has ruled Texas’ abortion ban is too restrictive for women with pregnancy complications

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas judge says the state’s abortion ban has proven too restrictive for women with pregnancy complications and must allow exceptions without the risk of doctors facing criminal charges. The ruling Friday is the first to undercut Texas’ abortion ban since it took effect last year. However, the state attorney general’s office said the injunction was immediately blocked by an appeal it filed to the Texas Supreme Court. Even so, the decision delivers a major victory to abortion rights supporters who see the case as a potential blueprint to weaken restrictions that Republicans have rushed to implement elsewhere in the U.S.

Justice Department faces biggest test in its history with election conspiracy case against Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is facing the biggest test in its history in the prosecution of former President Donald Trump. It is navigating unprecedented conditions in American democracy while trying to fight back against relentless attacks on its own credibility and that of the U.S. election system. The success or failure of the case has the potential to shape the credibility of the Justice Department. Try as Attorney General Merrick Garland might, there is no escaping the politics of the moment when the Justice Department of a president who is running for reelection is indicting his chief political rival, the front-runner for the Republican nomination.

Russia’s war with Ukraine has generated its own fog, and mis- and disinformation are everywhere

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — On the battlefields of Ukraine, the fog of war plagues soldiers. A related issue afflicts those who are far from the fighting but avid to learn developments in the vast war. Disinformation, misinformation and absent information all cloud civilians’ understanding. Officials from each side denounce devious plots being prepared by the enemy, which never materialize. They claim victories that can’t be confirmed and stay quiet about defeats. None of this is unique to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. But Europe’s largest land war in decades is taking place in a superheated information space. Modern communications technology tends to multiply the confusion because deceptions and falsehoods reach audiences instantly.

Trump and allies boost calls for Justice Dept. takeover in new attack on democratic institutions

This week’s charges against former President Donald Trump for trying to remain in power despite losing the 2020 election have highlighted a new worry about American democracy — increasing calls by Trump and his allies for more control of federal prosecutions. Several legal experts are calling it perhaps the most troubling threat to the country’s democratic institutions should Trump, or another Republican, win the White House next year. Trump and other conservatives have argued that such a takeover is overdue, especially because they see the prosecutions against him as the 2024 presidential campaign is heating up as nakedly political.

Vermont’s flood-wracked capital city ponders a rebuild with one eye on climate change

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A beloved bookstore in Vermont’s small capital city moved across the street to a new spot farther from the Winooski River after an ice jam sent river water into the store in 1992. But the move to higher ground wasn’t enough to save it from the latest flooding from torrential rains in July seen by some as the state’s worst natural disaster since a 1927 flood that killed dozens of people and caused widespread destruction. Now the mostly gutted shops and restaurants in downtown Montpelier are considering where and how to rebuild in an era when extreme weather is occurring more often. Vermont’s flooding was just one of several major flood events around the globe this summer that scientists have said are becoming more likely due to climate change.

Artificial intelligence is gaining state lawmakers’ attention, and they have a lot of questions

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — State legislatures across the country are rushing to get a handle on fast-evolving artificial intelligence. Many are focusing first on their own state governments before imposing restrictions on the private sector. Legislators are seeking ways to protect constituents from discrimination and other harms while not hindering cutting-edge advancements in medicine, science, business, education and more. Connecticut plans to inventory all of its government systems using AI and regularly check to see if they’re discriminatory. Legislatures in Texas, North Dakota, West Virginia and Puerto Rico have created advisory bodies to study and monitor AI systems their agencies are using.

Prosecutors ask judge to issue protective order after Trump post appearing to promise revenge

The Justice Department has asked a federal judge overseeing the criminal case against former President Donald Trump in Washington to step in after he released a post online that appeared to promise revenge on anyone who goes after him. Prosecutors asked U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan on Friday to issue a protective order in the case a day after Trump pleaded not guilty to charges of trying to overturn his 2020 election loss and block the peaceful transition of power. Prosecutors pointed specifically to a post on Trump’s Truth Social platform from earlier Friday in which Trump wrote, in all capital letters, “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!”

Pakistani police arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan after court conviction

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani police have arrested former Prime Minister Khan at his home in the eastern city of Lahore. It’s the second time the popular opposition leader has been detained this year. His Saturday arrest followed a court convicting him earlier that day in an asset concealment case, handing down a three-year prison sentence. It’s a fresh blow to Khan’s bid to return to power since his ouster in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022. Under Pakistani law, people with a criminal conviction cannot run for public office. His political party says it will challenge the verdict in a superior court, which could suspend the ruling.

Niger’s junta isn’t backing down, and a regional force prepares to intervene. Here’s what to expect

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Regional mediation efforts to reverse the coup in Niger collapsed as soon as they started. Tensions are escalating as Sunday’s deadline nears for possible military intervention by other West African countries. This would be the first time in years that the regional bloc known as ECOWAS would try to forcefully put down a coup. There are fears that any fighting in the event of a military intervention will not be limited to Niger’s capital. And with neighboring Nigeria leading the intervention, that could distract its overstretched military from the difficult fight against armed groups at home.

Pope visits Portuguese shrine known for apocalyptic prophesy linked to Russia as war rages on

FATIMA, Portugal (AP) — The Vatican is explaining why Francis again ditched his speech during a visit to the Portuguese shrine at Fatima. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis “always addresses firstly the people he meets, as a shepherd, and speaks accordingly.” The 86-year-old Francis often deviates from his prepared remarks, even more when speaking in his native Spanish. Bruni denied the changes had any other serious reason, including with his eyesight. Francis had travelled to Fatima but didn’t even recite a prayer that had been prepared for the occasion. Instead, he offered a meditation on the welcoming embrace of the Virgin Mary, to whom the shrine is dedicated. Fatima is known for apocalyptic prophecies of hell, peace and Soviet communism that have found new relevance with Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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