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MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Writer and former Nicaraguan Vice President Sergio Ramírez announced Friday he will go live in Spain, after the government of President Daniel Ortega tried to arrest him and banned his latest book.

The 79-year-old writer served as vice president during Ortega’s first government from 1985 to 1990. But in the mid-1990s he distanced himself from Ortega, along with other intellectuals and former guerrillas.

Ramírez retired from politics in 1996, but continues to be an important voice in the country. In September, Ortega’s government issued an arrest warrant for him for “acts that foment and incite hatred and violence.”

Ramírez had initially said he intended to live in neighboring Costa Rica.

Ramírez said the government has seized copies of his latest novel, “Tongolele no sabía bailar,” and banned the book.

In June, Ramiréz said in an interview there was “zero possibility” of holding free elections in Nicaragua Nov. 7 and that opposition forces who participate would only be “legitimizing” Ortega’s re-election.

He said the 75-year-old Ortega had imposed a system of “terror” that prevents people from freely taking to the streets and that he will not tolerate any opposition electoral campaign.

“A lot of people are leaving the country in a massive way, like hasn’t happened since 2018 and there is a lot of fear among people,” Ramírez said. “Nobody knows if they’re going to be the next one (detained by police), nobody knows whose house is going to be raided.”

On Thursday, Nicaragua’s national police arrested two leaders of the country’s top private business association, just one day after a regional body called for the immediate release of political prisoners.

A police statement said Michael Healy Lacayo and Álvaro Vargas, president and vice president, respectively, of the Private Business Superior Council, face charges including money laundering, acts that diminish the country’s independence and inciting foreign interference among others.

The charges are similar to those lodged against more than three dozen people, including political and student leaders and seven potential challengers to Ortega in the Nov. 7 election. Those arrests began in May and all remain in detention.

The latest arrests came after a resounding vote Wednesday by the Organization of American States Permanent Council that called for the release of political prisoners in Nicaragua and expressed serious concern about the upcoming elections. Ortega appeared to double down on his strategy of leaving no other influential power standing.

Ortega has been ruling without interruption since 2007, after first coming to power following the ouster of dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979.

Ortega has maintained that mass protests against his government in 2018 were an attempted coup with foreign backing. At least 328 people were killed when the government cracked down on those protests.


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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A judge on Friday halted Wisconsin's fall wolf season two weeks before hunters were set to take to the woods, siding with wildlife advocacy groups who argued that holding the hunt would be unconstitutional.

Dane County Circuit Judge Jacob Frost issued a temporary injunction halting the season, which was set to begin Nov. 6. The order comes as part of a lawsuit that a coalition of wildlife advocacy groups filed in August seeking to stop the hunt and invalidate a state law authorizing annual seasons.

Among other things, the coalition argued that the season is illegal because the Department of Natural Resources hasn't updated its regulations setting up season parameters and has been relying on an emergency rule put in place shortly after then-Gov. Scott Walker signed a law in 2012 authorizing annual seasons.

Frost said the law creating the wolf season is constitutional on its face, but that the DNR failed to create permanent regulations enacting it. The law gives the DNR great leeway in setting kill limits, hunting zone hours and the number of licenses making it all the more important that the department following the regulatory process to ensure it doesn't violate the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, Frost said.

“I’m not overruling the wolf hunt law. In fact, I’m saying it has to be enforced as it was written and intended,” Frost said. “The DNR is currently not following the law or following the constitution. Its decisions are built on a faulty basis, meaning they can't stand, either.”

Hunters, farmers and conservationists have been sparring for years over how to handle wolves in Wisconsin. Farmers insist that the animals are destroying their crops and that killing them is the only way to control them. Conservationists and wildlife advocates insist the wolf population is too fragile to support hunting and that the animals are too beautiful to destroy.

The state held fall wolf seasons in 2012, 2013 and 2014 before a federal judge placed the animal back on the endangered species list.

The Trump administration removed them from the list last year and the decision became final in January, triggering a hunting season in Wisconsin..

The DNR was preparing to launch a November season, but Kansas-based hunting group Hunter Nation won a court-order forcing the agency to hold a season in February. The group argued that the Biden administration could restore federal protections for wolves at any moment, robbing hunters of the chance to kill the animals.

The DNR scrambled to put together a season, setting the kill limit at 119 wolves. Hunters quickly blew past the limit, killing 218 wolves in just four days. The latest DNR estimates put the wolf population in Wisconsin at about 1,000.

Conservationists decried the season as a massacre. They urged the DNR policy board to cancel the fall season to protect what's left of the population. Conservatives on the board brushed those concerns aside, though. During a meeting in August, they authorized the fall hunting season and set the kill limit at 300 wolves, prompting the lawsuit from the wildlife advocacy groups as well as a federal lawsuit from a half-dozen Chippewa tribes. The Chippewa consider the wolf sacred.

Earlier this month, the DNR, which is controlled by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, took the unprecedented step of unilaterally reducing the kill limit to 130 wolves, openly defying the board.

The Chippewa have claimed 56 of those animals per treaty rights that allow them to claim 50% of quotas in northern Wisconsin’s ceded territory — land the tribes gave the government in the 1800s. The Chippewa consider the wolf sacred and refuse to hunt it, which means that if the season happens the working quota for state-licensed hunters will be 74 wolves.


Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter: https://twitter.com/trichmond1

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — A former pastor accused of sexually assaulting two women inside a suburban St. Louis Catholic supply store, then killing a third when she refused his sexual demands pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree murder and other charges.

Thomas Bruce's plea came days before jury selection was to begin in a trial scheduled to start Nov. 1 for the attacks in Ballwin, Missouri, on Nov. 19, 2018. He was sentenced to a mandatory sentence of life without parole, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

At Friday's hearing, Bruce appeared to be practicing reading from a piece of paper he had in his hand. But after the victims read their impact statements, Bruce told the judge he had nothing to say and started to weep, KSDK-TV reported.

Bruce, now 56, was on the run for two days before his arrest, prompting some schools, churches and businesses to close.

He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, eight counts of armed criminal action, two counts of first-degree sodomy, three counts of first-degree kidnapping, burglary and attempted first-degree sodomy.

Authorities said that Bruce, armed with a handgun, forced the three women into a back room of the store, told them to strip, exposed himself and ordered them to “perform deviant sexual acts on him,” detectives wrote in a criminal complaint.

Two of the women complied but 53-year-old Jamie Schmidt of House Springs refused, so he shot her in the head, prosecutors said. He ordered the other women to continue performing the sexual acts on him, then fled, apparently able to blend in on a busy street in broad daylight.

The two women assaulted in the store read victim impact statements Friday describing what they went through that day and in the years that have followed.

Schmidt’s husband and family members also described the pain her death has caused them.

“In a way my kids lost two parents that day. I haven’t been same since,” Schmidt’s husband said.

After the hearing, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell praised the two women for facing Bruce to read their statements.

"The courage that they showed, the strength, I don't know if I would have been able to do that under those set of circumstances," Bell said. "It's a blessing that they are still here, obviously, because it could have gone differently."

The prosecutor at the time of the crime, Bob McCulloch, said he did not believe the store was targeted because of its religious affiliation but simply that Bruce “saw an opportunity — three women in the store alone.”

St. Louis County’s police chief at the time, Jon Belmar, said the crime “shocked the senses.”

The Missouri secretary of state’s office identified Bruce as the operator of a nonprofit church formed in 2003 that was dissolved in 2007. Pastor David Fitzgerald at Calvary Chapel in Maryland Heights told The Post-Dispatch that Bruce was a pastor at Calvary Chapel of Cape Girardeau, in southeast Missouri, during that time.

Bruce also was a Navy veteran, according to his LinkedIn page.

Schmidt, of House Springs, was a married mother of three who worked as a secretarial assistant at a community college. She was active at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in High Ridge and friends have said she may have been at the store to buy supplies to make rosaries for parishioners.

As part of the plea, prosecutors in Jefferson County agreed to drop separate charges of kidnapping, sexual abuse, burglary and harassment for an attack on a then-77-year-old woman just weeks before the Catholic Supply attack.

The woman was attacked at her home near Hillsboro, another eastern Missouri town not far from where Bruce lived in Imperial. She later recognized Bruce from his photo after the Catholic store attack, which led to charges in January 2019.

Jefferson County Prosecutor Trisha Stefanski said in a news release Friday the woman agreed to dropping the charges and is ready to move on from the attack. Stefanski said her office and the victim agreed that that having a mandatory life sentence without parole is “a satisfactory resolution.”


Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Alec Baldwin said Friday that his killing of a cinematographer with a prop gun on a movie set was a “tragic accident” as authorities investigated the shooting, which also wounded the director.

Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer on the Western “Rust,” and director Joel Souza were shot Thursday in the desert on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

A spokesperson for Baldwin said a prop gun with blanks misfired. A spokesman for the Santa Fe County sheriff said detectives were investigating what type of projectile was discharged and how. No immediate charges were filed.

Baldwin was performing at the time of the shooting, the sheriff's office said. It was unclear how many rounds were fired, and little was known about the weapon.

“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation,” Baldwin wrote on Twitter. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”

Sheriff's spokesman Juan Rios said detectives were at the set Friday morning gathering evidence and information. Baldwin is permitted to travel, he said.

“He’s a free man,” Rios said.

Images of the 63-year-old actor — known for his roles in “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” — showed him distraught outside the sheriff’s office on Thursday.

Guns used in making movies are sometimes real weapons that can fire either bullets or blanks, which are gunpowder charges that produce a flash and a bang but no deadly projectile. However, even blanks can eject hot gases and paper or plastic wadding from the barrel that can be lethal at close range. That proved to be the case in the death of an actor in 1984.

In another on-set accident in 1993, the actor Brandon Lee was killed after a bullet was left in a prop gun, and similar shootings have occurred involving stage weapons that were loaded with live rounds.

Gun-safety protocol on sets in the United States has improved since then, said Steven Hall, a veteran director of photography in Britain. But he said one of the riskiest positions to be in is behind the camera because that person is in the line of fire in scenes where an actor appears to point a gun at the audience.

Hutchins, 42, was airlifted to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Souza, 48, who was wounded in the collarbone area, was taken by ambulance to a medical center.

Sheriff’s deputies responded about 2 p.m. to the movie set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch after 911 calls described a person being shot there, Rios said. The ranch has been used in dozens of films, including the recent Tom Hanks Western “News of the World.”

“This investigation remains open and active,” Rios said in a statement.

One of Hutchins’ final social media posts was a photo of the “Rust” actors standing together in solidarity with crew members. She belonged to the IATSE union that represents crew members. The union is to vote soon on a new contract with producers after threatening to strike in recent weeks over issues including long hours and on-set safety.

Hutchins, a 2015 graduate of the American Film Institute, worked as director of photography on the 2020 action film “Archenemy” starring Joe Manganiello. She was named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer in 2019.

“I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set,” said “Archenemy” director Adam Egypt Mortimer on Twitter. “She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.”

Manganiello called Hutchins “an incredible talent” and “a great person” on his Instagram account. He said he was lucky to have worked with her.

Hutchins had Ukrainian citizenship, according to Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko. The country's consulate in San Francisco was working with U.S. law enforcement officials.

Baldwin teamed up as a producer with Souza on the 2019 film “Crown Vic,” which starred Thomas Jane as a veteran Los Angeles police officer on a manhunt for two bank robbers. Souza's first credited film, 2010’s “Hanna’s Gold,” was a treasure hunt adventure featuring Luke Perry.

After the shooting, production was halted on “Rust.” The movie is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother following the death of their parents in 1880s Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database website. The teen goes on the run with his long-estranged grandfather (played by Baldwin) after the boy is sentenced to hang for the accidental killing of a local rancher.

Lee, son of martial arts star Bruce Lee, died in 1993 after being hit by a .44-caliber slug while filming a death scene for the movie “The Crow.” The gun was supposed to have fired a blank, but an autopsy turned up a bullet lodged near his spine.

A Twitter account run by Lee's sister Shannon said: “Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust.’ No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”

In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum died after shooting himself in the head with a prop gun blank while pretending to play Russian roulette with a .44 Magnum on the set of the television series “Cover Up.”

Such shootings have also happened during historical reenactments. In 2015, an actor staging a historical gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona, was shot and wounded with a live round during a show that was supposed to use blanks.

In Hill City, South Dakota, a tourist town that recreates an Old West experience, three spectators were wounded in 2011 when a re-enactor fired real bullets instead of blanks.


Berry reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writers Jake Coyle and Jocelyn Noveck in New York, Lizzie Knight in London, Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Ryan Pearson in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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SUPERIOR, Neb. (AP) — An employee who returned fire after a gunman killed two people at a Nebraska grain elevator likely prevented more deaths, a Nebraska State Patrol official said Friday.

The employee, who was not named, retrieved a weapon and shot Max Hoskinson, 61, after Hoskinson began shooting at the Agrex Elevator in Superior, Nebraska, on Thursday. Hoskinson, of Superior, was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Authorities said Hoskinson had been fired earlier Thursday and returned that afternoon with a gun and began shooting in an office area.

The victims were identified as Sandra Nelson, 60, of Formoso, Kansas, and 53-year-old Darin Koepke, of Hadar, Nebraska. The third person shot by Hoskinson was treated at a hospital and released.

Patrol Sgt. Jeff Roby said during the news conference that authorities do not anticipate filing any charges against the employee who shot Hoskinson.

“In fact, it's likely that the employee's actions may have prevented much further loss of life in this tragedy,” Roby said.

Roby said he could not comment on whether Hoskinson targeted the victims, who were all Agrex employees. He said several other Agrex employees were on site when the shooting occurred.

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Wall Street capped a choppy day of trading Friday with an uneven finish for the major stock indexes, as losses for several large technology companies weighed on the market.

The S&P 500 was little changed a day after it set an all-time high, but the 0.1% slip ended its seven-day winning streak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average notched a 0.2% gain, good enough to eclipse the blue-chip index's previous record high set on Aug. 16. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 0.8%.

Some 65% of stocks in the S&P 500 closed higher, led mainly by financial and health care companies, but losses in communication and technology companies, which have an outsized weight on the benchmark index, held the S&P 500 down.

Despite the downbeat finish to the week, the three major indexes posted their third weekly gain in a row. Investors have been reviewing corporate earnings over the last two weeks and the mostly solid results have helped stocks generally grind higher.

Remarks Friday by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell appeared to put traders in a selling mood. Powell said that the supply chain issues that have caused disruptions across the U.S. economy since this summer have gotten worse and will likely keep inflation elevated well into next year.

“This idea that inflation is transitory seems to be going out the window as you see inflation expectations start to rise,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at All Star Charts.

The S&P 500 slipped 4.88 points to 4,544.90. The Dow gained 73.94 points to 35,677.02. The Nasdaq slid 125.50 points, or 0.8%, to 15,090.20.

Small company stocks also lost ground. The Russell 2000 index fell 4.92 points, or 0.2%, to 2,291.27.

Bond yields edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.64% from 1.67%.

With corporate earnings reporting season in full swing, investors have been looking for clues as to how companies are navigating supply chain problems and rising costs for materials, transportation and other goods and services. Many companies have warned that the supply chain issues and overall higher costs will hurt operations.

Wall Street is monitoring what the Fed will do to tackle inflation. The central bank is widely expected to announce next month plans to begin reducing monthly bond purchases that the Fed began in the early days of the pandemic in a bid to lower longer-term interest rates and encourage borrowing and spending.

Powell said Friday that the Fed is not yet prepared to lift its benchmark interest rate from its current level near zero, though he suggested that the economy may be ready for a rate hike next year.

“If the Fed is going have to be more aggressive with raising rates or more aggressive with moving toward tapering to raising rates, then what's the impact, not on individual companies, but on whole sectors and the economy overall?” asked Delwiche.

Technology and communication companies, which tend to be among the most expensive stocks and have benefited from low interest rates, weighed most on the market Friday. Chipmaker Intel slumped 11.7% for the biggest decline in the index after reporting disappointing revenue.

Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, plunged 26.6% after reporting weak revenue and disclosing that its ad sales are being hurt by a privacy crackdown that rolled out on Apple’s iPhones earlier this year. The news weighed down several other social media companies. Facebook fell 5.1% and Twitter fell 4.8%. Google's parent, Alphabet, fell 3%.

Banks and other financial companies made solid gains. American Express jumped 5.4% after reporting solid third-quarter financial results. The company noted an increase in consumer spending and travel. Bank of America rose 1.6%.

Solid earnings helped several other companies gain ground. Hot Wheels and Barbie maker Mattel rose 0.6% after reporting solid financial results.

The company planning to make President Donald Trump’s new media venture a publicly traded company soared for a second straight day. Digital World Acquisition nearly tripled in the first minute of trading, then wound up with ending the day at $94.20, up 107%. It traded as high as $175.

The stock more than quadrupled the day before, surging to $45.50 from $9.96, after the company said it would merge with Trump Media & Technology Group, which aims to challenge Facebook, Twitter and even Disney’s streaming video service. Experts are split on the company’s prospects, but some investors are betting on it to be popular.

That’s despite the deal’s announcement being unusual in how few details it offered for investors.

European markets ended mostly higher. Markets in Asia closed mixed. State media in China said China Evergrande Group made an overdue bond payment on Friday. The property developer’s struggle to reduce its 2 trillion yuan ($310 billion) of debt to comply with tighter official curbs on borrowing has prompted fears a default might trigger a financial crisis.

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CLARE, Mich. (AP) — A woman was charged Friday with killing her father, sister and two handymen in mid-Michigan, two days after bodies were found in a rural county.

Judy Boyer had a journal with names of other people whom she wanted to kill, Clare County Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis told a judge.

“Clearly, the public is still at danger should she be released on bond," said Ambrozaitis, who didn't disclose a motive for the four deaths.

Bond was set at $1 million. A not-guilty plea was entered on Boyer's behalf after she didn't respond when Judge Joshua Farrell asked if she understood the murder charges, MLive.com reported.

Her lawyers said she understood her rights.

The victims were Henry Boyer, 85, daughter Patricia Boyer, 61, Zachary Salminen, 36, and Wade Bacon, 39. All were shot Wednesday at the Boyer home in Grant Township.

Bacon and Salminen were there to work on the roof, the prosecutor said.

Bacon was “helping an elderly man with household fixes before winter settled in,” sister Wrae Bacon said on a GoFundMe page. He ”died doing what he always did: helping others."

Judy Boyer, 54, lived across the street. A nephew was charged with being an accessory after the shootings.

Clare is about 160 miles (257 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.

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Lyft received an increasing number of reports of sexual assault in recent years, including more than 1,800 in 2019, according to a safety report from the ride-hailing company.

More than half of the assaults in 2019 were “non-consensual touching of a sexual body part” and another 156 involved non-consensual sexual penetration, according to the report.

The report also listed 10 fatal assaults from 2017 through 2019, including four in 2019.

Lyft released the figures nearly two years after larger rival Uber put out a similar report that showed more than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported on rides within the U.S. in 2018. Lyft pledged in 2019 to put out its own report.

The ride-hailing companies have come under increasing scrutiny over safety issues, especially sexual assaults.

The Lyft report was praised by the group that operates the national sexual-assault hotline for victims.

“We’re pleased to see Lyft sharing safety information with the public and encourage other companies and organizations to do the same," said Erinn Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. “No industry is immune to sexual violence, and this pervasive problem cannot be addressed without shining a light into dark corners and asking how to do better.”

Lyft Inc. said the number of sexual-assault reports collected on its app rose from 1,096 in 2017 to 1,255 in 2018 and 1,807 in 2019 as its business grew.

The company said that from 2017 to 2019, more than 99% of rides occurred without any reported safety-related incident.

A Lyft official said in a blog post Thursday that the rate of sexual assaults as a percentage of rides decreased by 19% over the three-year period covered in the report.

“While safety incidents on our platform are incredibly rare, we realize that even one is too many,” Jennifer Brandenburger, the company’s head of policy development and research, said in the blog.

Lyft said it generally does not tell police about safety incidents unless it is served with a subpoena, a policy it said protects personal information about riders and drivers. Lyft said the decision to report an event to law enforcement “is a deeply personal one."

The company said it investigates safety incidents through “correspondence with drivers and riders,” police reports and other information.

“Generally speaking, individuals who are accused of committing the types of incidents detailed in this report will be permanently removed from the Lyft community, preventing them from riding or driving in the future,” it said.

The San Francisco-based company says it screens all drivers with initial and annual background checks and monitors criminal and driving records.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is allowing the Texas law that bans most abortions to remain in place, but has agreed to hear arguments in the case in early November.

The justices said Friday they will decide whether the Justice Department and abortion providers can sue in federal court over a law that Justice Sonia Sotomayor said was “enacted in open disregard of the constitutional rights of women seeking abortion care in Texas.”

Answering that question will help determine whether the law should be blocked while legal challenges continue. The court is moving at an unusually fast pace that suggests it plans to make a decision quickly. Arguments are set for Nov. 1.

The court’s action leaves in place for the time being a law that clinics say has led to an 80% reduction in abortions in the nation’s second-largest state.

The justices said in their order that they were deferring action on a request from the Justice Department to put the law on hold. Sotomayor wrote that she would have blocked the law now.

“The promise of future adjudication offers cold comfort, however, for Texas women seeking abortion care, who are entitled to relief now,” Sotomayor wrote.

Sotomayor was the only justice to make her views clear, but it seems there were not five votes on the nine-member court to immediately block the law Friday. It takes just four justices to decide to hear a case.

The court first declined to block the law in September, in response to an emergency filing by the abortion providers. The vote was 5-4 vote, with the three appointees of former President Donald Trump joining two other conservatives in the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts joined Sotomayor and the other two liberal justices in voting to keep the law on hold while the legal fight goes on in lower courts.

Now, though, the justices, in a rare move, have decided to weigh in before lower courts definitively decide the issues.

Kimberlyn Schwartz, a spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, said she was happy the law remains in effect. “This is a great development for the Pro-Life movement because the law will continue to save an estimated 100 babies per day, and because the justices will actually discuss whether these lawsuits are valid in the first place," Schwartz said in a statement.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, the chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, said Friday's order means patients will continue to be denied care at the four Whole Woman's Health clinics in Texas, on top of the hundreds who already have been turned away.

“The legal limbo is excruciating for both patients and our clinic staff," Miller said in a statement.

The law has been in effect since September, aside from a district court-ordered pause that lasted just 48 hours, and bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant.

That's well before the Supreme Court's major abortion decisions allow states to prohibit abortion, although the court has agreed to hear an appeal from Mississippi asking it to overrule those decisions, in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

But the Texas law was written to evade early federal court review by putting enforcement of it into the hands of private citizens, rather than state officials.

The focus of the high court arguments will not be on the abortion ban, but whether the Justice Department and the providers can sue and obtain a court order that effectively prevents the law from being enforced, the Supreme Court said in its brief order.

If the law stays in effect, “no decision of this Court is safe. States need not comply with, or even challenge, precedents with which they disagree. They may simply outlaw the exercise of whatever rights they disfavor,” the Biden administration wrote in a brief filed earlier in the day.

Other state-enforced bans on abortion before the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks, have been blocked by courts because they conflict with Supreme Court precedents.

“Texas should not obtain a different result simply by pairing its unconstitutional law with an unprecedented enforcement scheme designed to evade the traditional mechanisms for judicial review," the administration wrote.

A day earlier, the state urged the court to leave the law in place, saying the federal government lacked the authority to file its lawsuit challenging the Texas ban.

The Justice Department filed suit over the law after the Supreme Court rejected the earlier effort by abortion providers to put the measure on hold temporarily.

In early October, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled for the administration, putting the law on hold and allowing abortions to resume.

Two days later, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the law back into effect.

The court already is hearing arguments on Dec. 1 in the Mississippi case in which that state is calling for the court to overrule the Roe and Casey decisions.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A woman known for 37 years only as Horseshoe Harriet, one of dozen or so victims of a notorious Alaska serial killer, has been identified through genetic genealogy and a DNA match, authorities said Friday.

The victim was identified Friday as Robin Pelkey, who was 19 and living on the streets of Anchorage when she was killed by Robert Hansen in the early 1980s, the Alaska Bureau of Investigation’s Cold Case Investigation Unit said Friday.

“I would like to thank all of the troopers, investigators, and analysts that have diligently worked on this case over the last 37 years. Without their hard work and tenacity, the identity of Ms. Pelkey may have never been known,” Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell said in a statement.

Hansen, who owned a bakery, gained the nickname “Butcher Baker” for abducting and hunting down women — many of them sex workers — in the wilderness just north of Anchorage through the early 1980s, when the state’s largest city was booming because of construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline.

The 2013 movie “Frozen Ground,” starring Nicolas Cage and John Cusack, chronicled the troopers' investigation and capture of Hansen.

Hansen was convicted in the deaths of four women but confessed to killing several more, troopers said. At one point, he flew with investigators over an area north of Anchorage, where he pointed out where 17 of his victims were buried.

In 1984, Alaska State Troopers returned to those areas, where the remains of eight women were discovered. In total, 12 bodies have been found, and 11 of those have been identified, trooper spokesperson Austin McDaniel said.

The only person not yet identified is known only as Eklutna Annie, who is believed to have been Hansen’s first victim, McDaniel said. Her body was found near Eklutna Lake just north of Anchorage.

Genetic genealogy efforts are underway in hopes of also identifying her, Randy McPherron, an Alaska State Troopers cold case investigator, told The Associated Press.

"We really got our fingers crossed that we may know, find out who Eklutna Annie is,” he said, adding the timeframe could take up to a year.

Among the skeletal remains found in 1984, Pelsky was discovered lying on the ground near Horseshoe Lake, near the Little Susitna River just a few miles northwest of Anchorage, troopers said.

There was no ID on the body that became known as Horseshoe Harriet. Hansen told investigators she was a sex worker he abducted from downtown Anchorage sometime in the winter of 1983. He told investigators he flew her to the lake in his small airplane, murdered her and discarded the body. He didn’t know her name or much else about her.

An autopsy confirmed the body was that of a white woman between the ages of 17 and 23. There were no missing persons reports that matched, and she was buried in the Anchorage municipal cemetery as an unknown.

The case was reopened in 2014, the same year Hansen died in prison at the age of 75.

The body was exhumed, and samples were sent to create a DNA profile, which was added to the FBI’s national missing person database. It didn’t provide an identification.

In September 2020, investigators made another attempt to identify the remains using genetic genealogy.

A bone sample was sent to a private lab and additional DNA was extracted and sent for Whole Genome Sequencing, troopers said. This data was then sent to another lab, where a DNA profile was generated and uploaded into a public access genealogy database in April.

Troopers said several close matches were found and used to create a family tree for the victim. Research indicated that the victim might be a woman named Robin Pelkey, who was born in Colorado in 1963, troopers said.

Troopers traced her to living in Anchorage in the early 1980s, but no record indicated she was alive after 1984.

Eventually close relatives were located in Arkansas and Alaska. Family members told troopers that Pelkey lived in Anchorage in the late 1970s, but moved to Arkansas as a teenager before returning to Alaska in 1981 to live with her father and stepmother.

Troopers said she wound up living on the streets of Anchorage but had vanished by late 1982 or early 1983.

Relatives told troopers they didn’t know for certain why Pelkey’s parents, who are now deceased, didn’t report her missing.

A DNA match with a close relative in Arkansas confirmed Pelkey’s identity and the family was notified in September. Through the troopers, family members said they did not want to be contacted by the media.

“Obviously, I’m very happy to have finally figured out who she is and give her family some closure,” McPherron said. “Genetic genealogy has been quite a great leap forward in solving unsolved homicides but in also identifying people, so this is very satisfying to see it finally come together like this.”

Troopers have purchased a new grave marker for Pelkey, McDaniel said.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Commuters in the Washington area will face longer waits for Metro trains through at least the end of the month and probably longer, as more than half the fleet of train cars will remain out of service over safety issues.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld told reporters Friday there was no timeline for the return of the transit authority's 7000-series train cars, which were abruptly pulled from service this week after a derailing revealed a chronic problem with the wheels and axles. The 748 cars are the newest and comprise more than 60% of the fleet.

The derailing is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, and Wiedefeld said he couldn't comment on it while the investigation was ongoing.

In the meantime, Wiedefeld said Metro engineers were working to bring older retired cars back into service. But he said the older cars were undergoing rigorous inspections and he didn't expect them back in service until early November. Until then, riders can expect longer delays between trains across the system, whose six lines crisscross the city and stretch deep into the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

The transit authority currently has 268 rail cars in service. There are 180 cars from the older 6000-series trains that may be brought back if they pass inspections. Currently only 22 of them are available for service.

The suspension of the bulk of Washington's Metro fleet was prompted when a train car slipped off the tracks on the Metro’s Blue Line near Arlington National Cemetery on Oct. 12. The car had apparently derailed once and then re-connected with the rails by itself, before derailing a second time. Some passengers were trapped in a tunnel in a dark train car and had to be evacuated on foot.

After the derailing, the NTSB revealed that the Kawasaki-made 7000-series trains had been suffering an escalating series of incidents due to a design flaw that caused the wheels to spread too wide on the axles, allowing the carriage to slip off the tracks. The issue had been apparent to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which oversees the regional D.C. transport system, since 2017, but neither NTSB nor the WMATA board had been informed, said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy.

The system experienced 18 separate incidents with the wheels in 2021 alone, Homendy said, and inspections revealed similar problems with an additional 21 rail cars.

Wiedefeld said his agency was now working to “inspect every wheel” on the 7000-series cars, proceeding in consultation with both Kawasaki and the NTSB. He acknowledged that WMATA could be blamed for failing to address the issue or inform NTSB or its own board of the problem.

“I understand that erodes some confidence," Wiedefeld said. “We're not hiding anything. We want to be as transparent as possible.”

Paul Smedberg, the Metro board chair, told reporters the board would “reserve judgment” on whether Wiedefeld should have brought the issue to their attention earlier.

“We're behind the entire team looking to get service back safely,” he said. “We've got to make sure we get this right.”

In an apparently unrelated incident, train service was suspended Friday afternoon on the Green and Yellow lines downtown and passengers were evacuated from a disabled train over a suspected braking problem. There were no reported injuries.

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BAZOULÉ, Burkina Faso (RNS) — The small live chicken, offered as a lure to get the crocodile to come out of the lake, barely convinced the massive male reptile to the water’s edge. The croc, himself the lure for the sprinkling of visitors who had come 20 miles from the capital, Ouagadougou, to pose with the beings held sacred by locals, seemed disinterested in tourists and chicken alike.

“We used to have large groups coming and students. That has slowed a lot in the last couple of years,” said Pierre Kaboré, president of the Association for Tourism and Development of Bazoulé and the head of a local association of 15 crocodile caretakers.

A recent visit confirmed that there were more crocodiles lounging on the shore of the holy lake than cars in the parking lot. With an uprising in Burkina Faso’s north and the travel disruptions of COVID-19, the number of tourists has slowed in this village of some 2,000 people and 100 or more fully adult crocodiles, with another 100 still maturing.


This content is written and produced by Religion News Service and distributed by The Associated Press. RNS and AP partner on some religion news content. RNS is solely responsible for this story.


The local cult of the crocodile dates to sometime in the 1500s, when, during a period of severe drought, locals believe, a crocodile appeared and led local women to a source of fresh water. A thanksgiving was held by the grateful villagers and the reptiles have been revered ever since.

Since the early 1960s, the crocodiles of the lake have again provided for the people of the area, as the crocodiles of Bazoulé have become one of the country’s premier tourist attractions.

It is common to find crocodiles in the compounds of local families in the dry season, which runs from November to April. At other times crocodiles wander into the village seeking safe places to lay their eggs, and the locals protect the nests from predators.

West African crocodiles are generally less aggressive than their counterparts on the Nile, and the villagers and tourists pet them and large cattle from the village drink from the lake without fear.

Most of the crocodiles subsist on fish, birds and other small game, but a handful are selectively groomed to chase chickens for tourists. The locals collect the teeth of the crocodiles, who shed them often, to make into amulets, earrings and other jewelry.

“The local boys swim in the lake despite the crocodiles, and I did it too,” said Kaboré. “We know not to swim, though, too soon after the babies hatch — the mothers are very protective.”

But the crocodile cult goes beyond the commercial advantages: Their potentially valuable crocodile skin is not harvested for leather and the carcasses are buried intact in a small, unmarked cemetery in a quiet grove dedicated to crocodiles that is barred to tourists. Dead crocodiles receive burial services similar to those of humans in the village and are often buried in coffins.

At the center of the faith practice of the people of Bazoulé are the large male crocodiles known as the “old man of the lake.” The current holder of this esteemed position is believed to be 110 years old and thus has lived through the entire arc of Burkina Faso’s modern history: From the brutal colonial war raged by France to control “Upper Volta” during World War I to the rise and assassination in 1987 of rebel leader Thomas Sankara, who gave the country its name, which combines several Indigenous languages.

The previous old man of the lake, who died more than a decade ago, had lived even longer. “He was about 136, which is quite old for a male, but some females here potentially live up to 150 years,” said Kaboré.

In an annual ceremony known as Koom Lakre, offerings are made to the old man of the lake by a village elder. While chickens are sufficient for the entertainment of visitors, the old man is propitiated with sheep, goats and occasionally small donkeys.

Crocodiles’ cries heard by villagers are treated as omens that are interpreted by elders. Yet, there are increasingly fewer ears to hear those cries.

“We used to have over 100 people on the weekends coming here to see the crocodiles. Now it’s just a few cars a day,” said Alfred Kaboré, another crocodile caretaker. A small compound with a café and benches shaped like crocodiles sits empty.

Locals once keen on the tourist trade have refocused on the vegetable gardening for which the village is also known.

“There will always be a connection between us and the crocodiles. Even if someone leaves the village or shows interest in another religion, they still venerate the crocodiles as (a) god. Respect — this is the animist way,” said Alfred Kabore.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A woman who reported seeing a man later identified as South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh bloodied on a roadside after a shooting told an emergency dispatcher she didn’t stop because it “looks like a setup,” according to 911 calls released Friday.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division made public the emergency calls from the aftermath of the Sept. 4 shooting in which a bullet grazed Murdaugh's head.

Authorities have since charged Murdaugh with insurance fraud, saying he tried to have himself killed that day so his only surviving son could collect $10 million in a life insurance payout. The attorney is also facing charges he stole $3.4 million in insurance money meant for the sons of his housekeeper, who died in 2018 a few weeks after falling at the family’s home, investigators said.

On the 911 call from a man and a woman, the female passerby tells the dispatcher that she saw a man covered in blood, waving his hands on the side of the road. The man accompanying her observes that the man's SUV had the trunk open and the caution lights on.

“He looks fine, but it kind of looks like a setup,” the woman says. “So we didn’t stop.”

“Oh, I don’t blame you,” the dispatcher responds.

The calls released Friday also include two made by Murdaugh himself near the scene of the rural road in Hampton County where Murdaugh had stopped on Sept. 4.

State police have opened at least six investigations into the 53-year-old heir to a legal empire in Hampton County, South Carolina and his family since he found his wife and other son shot dead outside their Colleton County home in June. Among the investigations is a probe of millions of dollars allegedly missing from the huge law firm founded a century ago by his great-grandfather.

During Murdaugh's first emergency call, which is about four minutes long, he informs a dispatcher that he had stopped after getting a flat tire: “Somebody stopped to help me, and when I turned my back they tried to shoot me,” Murdaugh says.

Murdaugh proceeds to say he is “bleeding pretty bad” from somewhere on his head, describing the shooter as a “white fella" who is “a fair amount younger than” him with “really, really short hair.”

In a second call lasting more than seven minutes, Murdaugh says he has secured a ride to the hospital from someone at the scene, and later says he is hanging up because he has encountered the ambulance sent for him by a dispatcher.

Days later, state agents proceeded to arrest Curtis Edward Smith, 61, accusing the former Murdaugh client of assisting him in the insurance scheme.

Smith has denied shooting Murdaugh, telling The Associated Press that Murdaugh asked to meet with him, but didn’t give a reason. When they got to the lonely road, Murdaugh asked Smith to shoot him. Smith refused, they wrestled over the gun and it fired once.

Smith told the AP he wasn’t sure if Murdaugh was hit. But in October TV interviews, he said he was certain Murdaugh was not struck by the bullet.

Smith took the gun and got rid of it. He has not been clear about where he ditched it or why he didn’t give it to police.

“With a friend like that, who needs enemies,” Smith told the AP.

Murdaugh's lawyers have said he bought drugs from Smith. They gave media outlets medical records they said show he was shot. They mention “gunshot” several times and said he had blood all over his shirt when he arrived by helicopter to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia.

Notes from doctors indicate they saw a bullet wound, Murdaugh had bleeding on his brain and part of his skull was fractured, according to the records.

Murdaugh is currently detained at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia after a state judge denied bond Tuesday, saying the attorney's considerable financial resources and mental instability appear for now to make it too risky for him to await trial outside of jail.

He had previously spent six weeks at drug rehab centers in Georgia and Florida, his attorneys said, battling an opioid addiction.


Associated Press writer Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A congressional ethics watchdog has concluded there is “substantial reason to believe” that the wife of Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly used nonpublic information gained through her husband's position in Congress to earn thousands of dollars through a well-timed stock purchase, a likely violation of federal law and House rules.

A report from the Office of Congressional Ethics released late Thursday detailed the April 2020 purchase of stock in an Ohio steelmaker. The company had threatened to shut down a plant in Kelly's district unless the Trump administration took action that would help make it more competitive — steps the administration took after Kelly, a Republican, and others intervened.

The ethics office has recommended that subpoenas be issued for Kelly, his wife, Victoria, a senior staffer and former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross because they declined to be interviewed or participate in the investigation.

“Victoria Kelly made an uncharacteristic stock purchase ... on April 29, 2020 and profited from this purchase. The purchase occurred just after her husband, in the course of his official job duties, learned confidential information about the company,” the report states.

Though the ethics office investigates complaints, only the House Ethics Committee has the power to punish a lawmaker for wrongdoing. The committee said in a statement that it would review the report and investigate further.

Kelly is just the latest in a collection of lawmakers from both parties to draw scrutiny for conspicuous stock trading in recent years. This underscores the shortcomings of a law known as the Stock Act, which was enacted in 2012 following a congressional trading scandal but has yet to produce a conviction.

Legal experts say such insider trading cases are exceptionally difficult to prosecute because they hinge on definitely proving whether someone acted on nonpublic information. Neither Kelly nor his wife has been criminally charged.

Kelly spokesman Matt Knoedler said in a statement Friday that the congressman has always been “open and transparent” about his finances. That includes filing regular disclosures, which led to news stories about his wife’s stock purchase. The statement did not directly address the purchase but called Kelly a “vocal leader” in efforts to save the plant.

The ethics report details a timeline of events beginning in early 2020, when Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. threatened to shut down a plant in Kelly's northwest Pennsylvania district. The factory employed 1,400 making a specialty steel used in power grid transformers. The company argued that foreign producers were exploiting a loophole in federal trade law that gave them an unfair competitive advantage and requested new tariff enforcement.

Kelly and other members of Pennsylvania's and Ohio's congressional delegations quickly lobbied the Trump administration. The ethics report details an aggressive push by Kelly, who worked closely with the company while pressing administration officials, including Mark Meadows, who was Trump's chief of staff at the time.

Though the administration initially rebuffed their efforts, it eventually acquiesced, culminating with a phone call from Ross to Cleveland-Cliff's CEO on April 28, 2020, informing him that the agency would soon make an announcement.

Word of the development spread quickly through Kelly's office, and the following day — several days before the announcement was made public — Victoria Kelly purchased between $15,001 and $50,000 worth of stock in the company, the report states.

She purchased the stock at roughly $4.70 a share and later sold it when the price hit $18.11 a share, the report states.

Kelly's office defended the purchase after it drew media scrutiny in September 2020, calling it a "small investment to show her support for the workers and management of this 100-year old bedrock of their hometown, where they both are life-long residents."

But investigators found “no public announcement by the Kellys about this purchase that would have elicited or demonstrated support for the plant employees.”

Additionally, investigators noted the purchase was out of the norm with her stock-buying practices. Months before, Victoria Kelly liquidated all of her individual stocks and invested the money in bond and mutual fund holdings, which are often considered the best investments for members of Congress looking to avoid questions about stock-buying impropriety.

The Kellys are hardly alone in facing ethics scrutiny.

The Associated Press previously reported that Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey repeatedly failed to disclose trades worth as much as $1 million in medical and tech companies that had a stake in the coronavirus response. On Thursday, the House Ethics Committee revealed Malinowski had been fined for repeatedly failing to report his stock transactions to Congress, as required by law.

Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn also faces an ethics probe over whether taxpayer money allotted to his office was used to contract for services from businesses owned by his staff. And Republican Rep. Alex Mooney faces an investigation over whether he used campaign cash to make personal purchases.

But stock purchases, like those made by Victoria Kelly, have drawn the most attention in recent months.

Former Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, of Georgia, both lost their runoff bids for the Senate in January after their own stock trades became a major campaign issue. Both were investigated by the Justice Department and ultimately cleared.

Perdue had dumped between $1 million and $5 million worth of stock in a company where he was formerly a board member. After markets crashed, he bought it back and earned a windfall after its price skyrocketed.

Loeffler and her husband, the CEO and chairman of the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, dumped millions of dollars in stock following a briefing on the virus.

Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina drew perhaps the most scrutiny for his trades. He stepped aside as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee after the FBI obtained a search warrant to seize a cellphone.

Burr and his wife sold between $600,000 and $1.7 million in more than 30 transactions in late January and mid-February, just before the market began to dive and government health officials began to sound alarms about the virus. Burr was captured in a recording privately warning a group of influential constituents in early 2020 to prepare for economic devastation.

The Justice Department investigated Burr’s actions, but did not file charges and closed the case.

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A U.S. religious organization whose 17 members were kidnapped in Haiti asked supporters on Friday to pray and share stories with the victims' families of how their faith helped them through difficult times as efforts to recover them entered a sixth day.

Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries issued the statement a day after a video was released showing the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang threatening to kill those abducted if his demands are not met. Haitian officials have said the gang is seeking $1 million ransom per person, although they said it wasn't clear if that includes the five children in the group, the youngest being 8 months old.

“You may wonder why our workers chose to live in a difficult and dangerous context, despite the apparent risks,” the organization said. "Before leaving for Haiti, our workers who are now being held hostage expressed a desire to faithfully serve God in Haiti."

The FBI is helping Haitian authorities recover the 16 Americans and one Canadian. A local human rights group said their Haitian driver also was kidnapped.

“Pray that their commitment to God could become even stronger during this difficult experience," Christian Aid Ministries said.

At the White House on Friday, U.S. press secretary Jen Psaki sidestepped questions about whether the Biden administration would look to halt deportations of Haitians to their home country or consider adding a U.S. military presence on the ground in response to the missionaries' kidnappings.

“We are working around the clock to bring these people home," she said. "They are U.S. citizens, and there has been targeting over the course of the last few years of U.S. citizens in Haiti and other countries too...for kidnapping for ransom. That is one of the reasons that the State Department issued the warning they did in August about the risk of kidnapping for ransom.”

Psaki spoke a day after a couple hundred protestors shut down one neighborhood in Haiti's capital to decry the country's deepening insecurity and lack of fuel blamed on gangs, with some demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

The streets of Port-au-Prince were largely quiet and empty on Friday, although hundreds of supporters of Jimmy Cherizier, leader of “G9 Family and Allies,” a federation of nine gangs, marched through the seaside slum of Cité Soleil.

“We are not involved in kidnapping. We will never be involved in kidnapping,” Cherizier, known as Barbecue, claimed during a speech to supporters.

As they marched, the supporters sang and chanted that G9 is not involved in kidnappings. Some of them were carrying high caliber automatic weapons.

“This is the way they are running the country,” Cherizier, who is implicated in several massacres, said as he pointed to trash lining the streets with his assault weapon.

Amid the worsening insecurity, the office of Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced late Thursday that Léon Charles had resigned as head of Haiti's National Police and was replaced by Frantz Elbé. The newspaper Le Nouvelliste said Elbé was director of the police departments of the South East and Nippes and previously served as general security coordinator at the National Palace when Jocelerme Privert was provisional president.

“We would like for public peace to be restored, that we return to normal life and that we regain our way to democracy,” Henry said.

Weston Showalter, spokesman for the religious group, has said the families of those kidnapped are from Amish, Mennonite and other conservative Anabaptist communities in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Ontario, Canada. He read a letter from the families, who weren’t identified by name, in which they said, “God has given our loved ones the unique opportunity to live out our Lord’s command to love your enemies.”

The organization later issued a statement saying it would not comment on the video.

The gang leader’s death threat added to the already intense concern in and around Holmes County, Ohio, where Christian Aid Ministries is based and which has one of the nation’s largest concentrations of Amish, conservative Mennonite and related groups. Many members of those groups have supported the organization through donations or by volunteering at its warehouse.

UNICEF said Thursday that 71 women and 30 children have been kidnapped so far this year — surpassing the 59 women and 37 children abducted in all of last year. “They represent one third of the 455 kidnappings reported this year,” the agency said.


Associated Press writers Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aamer Madhani in Washington, D.C., Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio, Peter Smith in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A highly anticipated nonpartisan audit of the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin released Friday did not identify any widespread fraud in the battleground state, which a key Republican legislative leader said shows its elections are “safe and secure.”

The report from the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau did make dozens of recommendations on how the state might improve its elections. It also determined that dozens of voting machines it reviewed worked correctly. Some conservatives have called for reviews of all voting machines.

“Despite concerns with statewide elections procedures, this audit showed us that the election was largely safe and secure,” tweeted Republican state Sen. Robert Cowles, who co-chairs the Legislature's Audit Committee, which assigned the audit bureau to conduct the review. “It’s my hope that we can now look at election law changes & agency accountability measures in a bipartisan manner based on these nonpartisan recommendations.”

The audit didn't offer any evidence that the election won by President Joe Biden was “stolen” from Donald Trump, as Trump and some fellow conservatives have falsely claimed. Biden’s roughly 21,000-vote win over Trump in Wisconsin has withstood recounts and multiple court rulings.

Democrats hailed the audit as evidence that elections are safe, secure and accurate, but said they feared Republicans would cherry pick the findings to sow distrust.

The Audit Bureau report did identify inconsistent administration of election law based on surveys of ballots it reviewed across the state. It made 30 recommendations for the Wisconsin Elections Commission to consider and 18 possible legal changes for the Legislature to weigh.

Republican state Sen. Kathy Bernier, a former county elections clerk and current chair of Senate elections committee, said the audit “did not reveal any sizable or organized attempt at voter fraud.” But it did show “sloppy” and inconsistent election administration that must be addressed, she said.

Republican state Rep. Samantha Kerkman, the other Audit Committee co-chair, said the report will serve as a “blueprint” for the Legislature to address areas identified where current election law is not being followed.

“It is critically important that we restore trust in our elections process,” she said.

In an unusual move, state auditors did not give elections officials subject to the review a chance to respond and have their comments be a part of the report. The Audit Bureau said it didn’t solicit comment because so many people were involved with the audit, it would have compromised the confidentiality of its work.

Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commissions which oversees elections in the state, called the move a “missed opportunity” and that the agency was still reviewing the 168-page report to determine its response.

The report is one of two investigations in Wisconsin.

Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos ordered a second investigation after Trump criticized him for doing too little to scrutinize the election. That probe is being overseen by conservative former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman who said last year that he thinks the election was stolen.

Vos said the audit showed the need for more investigation into the election.

On Thursday, Democratic Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul asked a court to block a subpoena for Wolfe, the state’s top elections official, issued by Gableman. A judge set a Monday hearing on the request.

Gableman did not immediately respond to a message Friday seeking comment.

Wisconsin is one of several states pursuing investigations into the 2020 presidential election.

The audit said the elections commission should issue a rule, which would need legislative approval, saying whether local elections clerks can fill in missing information on absentee ballots or allow drop boxes.

The audit reviewed a sample of 14,710 absentee ballots that were cast in 29 municipalities across Wisconsin. It found that nearly 7%, or 1,022 ballots, had partial witness signatures; only 15 ballots did not have a witness address in its entirety; eight did not have a witness signature and three did not have a voter signature.

It also found that state law requires clerks to write their initials on absentee ballot certificates in certain situations, but fewer than 1% of the ballots reviewed were initialed.

The audit also found just 24 people who might have two active voter registrations and of those, only four who might have voted twice. The names of the four people, which weren't included in the audit summary, were referred to the elections commission, which could forward them to local prosecutors.

The findings back up the fact that few cases of election fraud have been charged in Wisconsin. Only four cases have been brought to date, including one involving a man accused of having voted twice. It wasn't immediately clear if that man's case was among the four discovered by the audit.

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It was the first time in decades that she’d seen his glow.

At the California foundry that fired a bust of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Percy Newton, his widow supervised as a bronze caster put finishing touches on what is to become the first permanent public art piece honoring the party in the city of its founding.

“It just glowed, like he did,” Fredrika Newton said. “His skin just glistened.”

The unveiling is scheduled for Sunday at Dr. Huey P. Newton Way and Mandela Parkway, near the spot where Newton was murdered in 1989. It comes as Panther alumni, descendants and others gathered to mark the 55th anniversary of a party that has long been both celebrated and vilified.

Newton remains a divisive figure. Many people still dismiss him as the leader of a band of beret-wearing, gun-toting hustlers -- and no doubt would deplore the prospect of an American city memorializing him with a statue. Others say his failings were a drag on the Black Power movement.

Still, many love him to this day, venerating him as a man who, with Bobby Seale, sought to unite all Black, impoverished and oppressed people against what they considered America’s racist, capitalistic and unjust interests. His influence on the Black Lives Matter movement is undeniable.

“Huey was maybe the only man I’ve ever known that was a truly free man,” said his older brother, Melvin Newton. “He was universal. He felt that no one could be on his back, if he stood up. And he always stood ram-rod straight.”

The youngest of seven children, Newton was born on Feb. 17, 1942, in Monroe, Louisiana.

His parents, Walter and Armelia Newton, moved the family to Oakland during a wave of the Great Migration, when the promise of work and less overt racial oppression lured thousands of African American families out of the Jim Crow South.

Newton struggled with his education, unable to read or write in high school even as he was arrested for petty crimes. It was only after graduation from high school that his real education began; a self-taught reader, he studied the works of W.E.B. DuBois, Frantz Fanon and James Baldwin.

By his late 30s, he had a doctorate in social philosophy from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and he was well on his way to global fame and notoriety.

After meeting at a community college in Oakland, Newton and Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in October 1966.

Newton, the minister for defense, and Seale, the chairman, were frustrated with the largely Southern civil rights movement spearheaded by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which they felt had failed to address the problems of Black people in the North and West.

Historian Robert W. Widell, Jr., who as a graduate student helped catalog Newton’s writings at Stanford University, said Newton was not a natural front man.

“My sense is that he sort of pushed himself out there to be this public, confrontational figure on the streets,” said Widell, now the history department chair at the University of Rhode Island.

“But I don’t know that that was his natural inclination, personality-wise. He was more of a theoretician. And I think he was pretty surprised at how rapidly (the Panthers) grew in exposure, whether it was fame or infamy.”

Newton and Seale wrote the party’s Ten Point Program, which laid out the party’s beliefs and its demands. The party’s Survival Programs were beloved in nearly 70 communities the U.S. and abroad where it had chapters. The Panthers were known, among other things, for free breakfast programs for schoolchildren and a pioneering sickle cell disease testing program.

Panthers’ antagonistic relationship with law enforcement has long cast a shadow over its legacy. In 1967, Newton was jailed for the shooting death of an Oakland police officer who had pulled him over. Although Newton was himself shot during the encounter and denied being responsible for the officer’s death, he was tried and convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1968.

While imprisoned, the “Free Huey” campaign helped make him a symbol of racial injustice in the American criminal legal system.

His conviction was overturned in 1970, and he emerged from prison to discover the party had grown well beyond Oakland. Its image largely centered on armed self-defense, including violent and lethal encounters between Panthers and police, both in Oakland and around the country.

“I think we also need to recognize the very real ways in which a lot of the violence that surrounded the Panthers was instigated and provoked by law enforcement themselves,” Widell said.

Newton sought to rehabilitate the Panthers’ image, urging members to focus on the popular Survival Programs. He advocated for the rights of the Black community to defend itself from police, but changed his view that party members should openly carry guns as a check on police brutality.

Peter Coyote, the American actor and founder of the Diggers, a San Francisco improv troupe that worked with Panthers early on, grew close to Newton. The actor said the two communicated by phone almost weekly while Newton was incarcerated.

“He was funny,” Coyote said, “and he was also deadly serious. He knew he was putting his life at risk and he was playing for keeps. And when you meet people like that, you don’t forget them.”

Although it had been in decline for several years, the Black Panther Party didn’t fold until 1982. That was after years of police surveillance, as well as dwindling national membership, infighting, allegations of embezzlement and scandals in which Newton was implicated and criminally charged.

Newton’s addictions to alcohol and drugs overtook him. On Aug. 22, 1989, he was murdered in Oakland, California, by a drug dealer. He was 47.

Newton’s bust, Fredrika Newton said, is meant to celebrate someone whose life and contributions to American history mean much more than his decline and demise.

“I would like for people to see him as a total human being,” said Newton, co-founder of the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation. “That he wasn’t just an iconic figure in a wicker chair. This was a man with vulnerabilities, with feelings, with insecurities, with frailties, just like anybody.”


Morrison, a native of Oakland, California, is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/aaronlmorrison.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer who was fatally shot with a prop gun by Alec Baldwin on a movie set, grew up on a Soviet military base and worked as an investigative reporter in Europe before studying film in Los Angeles and embarking on a promising movie-making career.

Hutchins, 42, was shot Thursday on the set of the Western “Rust.” A spokesperson for Baldwin said there was an accident involving a prop gun with blanks. Detectives were investigating.

On her Instagram page, Hutchins identified herself as a “restless dreamer” and “adrenaline junkie.” In recent days, she posted several images from the set of “Rust” on the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, including an early morning shot of a cloudy desert sky, a video of herself riding horseback during a day off and a photo of the crew gathered to express solidarity with union members. The members of the IATSE union were seeking a new contract and threatened to strike before a settlement was reached last weekend.

According to her website, she grew up on the Soviet base in the Arctic Circle and was “surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines.” She received a graduate degree in international journalism from Kyiv National University in Ukraine, worked on British documentary productions in Europe and graduated from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2015. She is survived by her husband, Matthew Hutchins, with whom she had a son.

“She had an interesting background, and I think that made for a unique perspective on the world,” said one of her AFI teachers, Bill Dill. “She brought a wealth of experience to the movie-making process.”

Her other credits include the crime drama “Blindfire” and the horror film “Darlin,” whose director, Pollyanna McIntosh, posted on Instagram that she was “the most talented, in the trenches, committed wonderful artist and team mate.”

Director Adam Egypt Mortimer, who worked with her on the 2020 thriller “Archenemy,” said she had a powerful sense of confidence and an inspiring sense of adventure. He remembered a day on the set when an actor had to leave and the rest of the crew had to work around him.

“Halyna was excited,” said Mortimer, who recalled her asking if they would shoot the scenes "European style,” meaning that they would improvise.

Cinematographer Andriy Semenyuk, a fellow Ukrainian who met Hutchins a few years ago through friends, remembered how she welcomed him and brought him to some of her assignments. He called her a mentor with a “magnetizing” personality who stood out for her willingness to help others.

“I think the big deal about her in general, beyond being extremely talented — which is a given — is just her generous and really open personality,” he said. “In the film industry, which is super competitive, it’s not enough to have talent. It’s good to have this human, appealing personality.”

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NEW YORK (AP) — A New York jury convicted a former associate of Rudy Giuliani on Friday of charges that he made illegal campaign contributions to influence U.S. politicians and advance his business interests.

The verdict was returned in Manhattan federal court, where Lev Parnas was on trial for more than two weeks as prosecutors accused him of using other people’s money to pose as a powerful political broker and cozy up to some of the nation’s star Republican political figures.

One part of the case alleged that Parnas and an associate made illegal donations through a corporate entity to Republican political committees in 2018, including a $325,000 donation to America First Action, a super PAC supporting former President Donald Trump.

Another part said he used the wealth of a Russian financier, Andrey Muraviev, to make donations to U.S. politicians, ostensibly in support of an effort to launch a legal, recreational marijuana business.

Parnas, 49, was convicted on all counts after about five hours of jury deliberations.

The Soviet-born Florida businessman had insisted through his lawyer that he never used the Russian’s money for political donations. He briefly closed his eyes and shook his head as the verdict was read.

Outside the courtroom after the verdict, Parnas said, “I’ve never hid from nobody. I’ve always stood to tell the truth.”

A co-defendant, Ukraine-born investor Andrey Kukushkin, was convicted of being part of the effort to use Muraviev’s money for political contributions. He had also denied any wrongdoing.

The case had drawn interest because of the deep involvement of Parnas and a former co-defendant, Igor Fruman, in Giuliani’s efforts to get Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden’s son during Biden’s campaign for president.

Giuliani's company and attorney didn't immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the verdict.

Giuliani remains under criminal investigation as authorities decide whether his interactions with Ukraine officials required him to register as a foreign agent, but he wasn’t alleged to have been involved in illegal campaign contributions and wasn’t part of the New York trial.

The case did, though, give an up-close look at how Parnas entered Republican circles in 2018 with a pattern of campaign donations big enough to get him meetings with the party’s stars.

“In order to gain influence with American politicians and candidates, they illegally funneled foreign money into the 2018 midterm elections with an eye toward making huge profits in the cannabis business," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement following the verdict. “Campaign finance laws are designed to protect the integrity of our free and fair elections – unencumbered by foreign interests or influence – and safeguarding those laws is essential to preserving the freedoms that Americans hold sacred.”

In addition to the $325,000 donation to America First Action, made through an energy company, prosecutors said Parnas and Fruman orchestrated donations to U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, of Texas, and to other committees supporting House Republicans.

Giuliani and Trump were sparsely mentioned during the trial, although a photograph featuring Parnas with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, was one of the first exhibits shown to jurors during closing arguments and a video of Giuliani with Parnas was among exhibits jurors could view during deliberations.

DeSantis was among those who received campaign contributions that prosecutors said were traced to $1 million that Parnas and Fruman received from Muraviev, who has been involved in several U.S. cannabis ventures.

About $100,000 of Muraviev’s money went toward campaign contributions in what Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagan Scotten called a conspiracy to secretly bring his “wealth and corruption into American politics” in violation of laws barring foreign donations to U.S. political candidates.

“The voters would never know whose money was pouring into our elections,” Scotten said.

Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, now a candidate for U.S. Senate, testified during the trial that a blustering Parnas suggested he could raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for him in 2018. He eventually came through only with a $10,000 check that Laxalt’s lawyers told him to reject.

Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, had called the allegations against his client “absurd.”

He insisted in his closing argument that Muraviev’s money went toward supporting legal marijuana businesses looking to expand.

Kukushkin’s lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, sought to portray his client as an unknowing dupe in the scheme, who was mocked behind his back by other participants as mentally challenged.

Following the verdict, prosecutors asked for immediate incarceration of Parnas and Kukushkin, citing a risk of flight, but the judge allowed them to remain free on bail while awaiting sentencing.

The charges against Parnas collectively carry the potential for decades behind bars, but any prison sentence would likely be measured in years, rather than decades.

Fruman pleaded guilty earlier this year to a single count of solicitation of a contribution by a foreign national. He awaits sentencing.

Another co-defendant, David Correia, also pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to a year in prison for crimes including defrauding investors in an insurance company that had paid Giuliani a $500,000 consulting fee.

Parnas awaits a second trial in connection with that scheme.

Giuliani has insisted that he knew nothing about potentially illegal campaign contributions by either Parnas or Fruman. The former mayor says everything he did in Ukraine was done on Trump’s behalf and there is no reason he would have had to register as a foreign agent.

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PARIS (AP) — France on Friday urged Iran to curb nuclear activities of “unprecedented gravity” as U.S. and European envoys met to discuss efforts aimed at reviving the troubled 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

U.S. envoy Robert Malley joined counterparts from France, Britain and Germany at the meetings in Paris, at what the French Foreign Ministry called a “critical time” in efforts to salvage the accord.

“It is urgent and crucial for Iran to end the activities of unprecedented gravity that it is conducting in violation of the (agreement) and to immediately resume full-fledged cooperation" with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said in an online briefing.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters the U.S. and its partners are “united in the belief that diplomacy continues to provide the most effective pathway to verifiably and permanently preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

“And,” he said, "we are united in the belief that negotiations should resume in Vienna as soon as possible and that they should resume precisely where they left off in June.”

The IAEA is charged with monitoring the 2015 accord, which was aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of crippling sanctions. The U.S. pulled out of the accord under Donald Trump and re-imposed sanctions.

Since then Iran has stepped up nuclear activity and is now in violation of several aspects of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.

Iran’s nuclear activity includes enriching uranium which Western nations fear could be used to build an atomic bomb. Tehran denies any such ambitions.

The U.S. and European partners are ready to return immediately to negotiations with Iran “in order to swiftly conclude an agreement on Iran’s return to its commitments and the United States’ return to the JCPOA," Legendre said.

Iran’s new hardline government led by President Ebrahim Raisi, which took power in August, has hinted it will return to the nuclear talks in Vienna but has balked at setting a date.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Peter Scolari, a versatile character actor whose television roles included a yuppie producer on “Newhart” and a closeted dad on “Girls” and who was on Broadway with longtime friend Tom Hanks in “Lucky Guy," has died. He was 66.

Scolari died Friday morning in New York after fighting cancer for two years, according to Ellen Lubin Sanitsky, his manager.

He first gained attention as the then-unknown Hanks’ co-star in the 1980-82 sitcom “Bosom Buddies,” in which their characters disguised themselves as women to live in affordable, females-only housing.

The two actors went on to work together in projects including Hanks’ 1996 movie directorial debut “That Thing You Do!” and in 2013's “Lucky Guy,” Nora Ephron's play about newspaper columnist Mike McAlary.

Scolari also performed on Broadway in “Wicked.” “Hairspray” and 2014's “Bronx Bombers,” in which he played baseball's Yogi Berra.

“We were friends and colleagues for over 40 years,” Newhart said in a statement to The Associated Press. He said the contributions of on-screen couple Scolari and Julia Duffy in “Newhart” were an “essential part” of the show's success.

“In life, he was a fantastic person, and it was a joy to work together. He will be sorely missed and his passing at 66 is much too early,” Newhart said.

Scolari's recent roles included Bishop Thomas Marx on the supernatural series “Evil." Series co-creator Robert King remembered him Tuesday as “just wonderful.”

He was “one of the funniest — sneakily funny — actors we’ve worked with. He always took a nothing scene and found different ways to twist it, and throw in odd pauses that made it jump,” King said on Twitter.

He received three Emmy nominations playing husband to Duffy's Stephanie and colleague to Newhart's inn owner and local TV host in the 1982-90 sitcom.

“No better partner,” Duffy posted on Twitter, along with a broken-heart emoji and a photo of a scene in which she and Scolari are dancing a tango.

In 2016, he won an Emmy Award for the role of Ted Horvath, father to Lena Dunham’s Hannah, in “Girls.” In the course of the dramedy created by Dunham, Ted comes out as gay and leaves his wife to find fulfillment.

In an Instagram post, Dunham said she "couldn't have been raised up by a better TV ‘papa.’ Thank you, Scolari, for every chat between set ups, every hug onscreen and off and every ‘Oh, Jeez.’ We will miss you so much.”

Harvey Fierstein, who starred in “Hairspray," tweeted there “wasn’t a sweeter man on the planet.”

Scolari's more than four-decade career included numerous guest roles on series including “ER,” “White Collar” and “Blue Bloods."

A New York native whose previous marriages ended in divorce, he's survived by his wife, actor Tracy Shayne, who played opposite him as Berra's wife in “Bronx Bombers." Other survivors include his children Nicholas, Joseph, Keaton, and Cali.

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