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Manchin’s opposition clouds future of Dems’ elections bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — A key Democratic senator says he will not vote for the largest overhaul of U.S. election law in at least a generation, leaving no plausible path forward for legislation that his party and the White House have portrayed as crucial for protecting access to the ballot.

“Voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen,” Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia wrote in a home-state newspaper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

He wrote that failure to bring together both parties on voting legislation would “risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials.”

The bill would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system. Among dozens of other provisions, it would require states to offer 15 days of early voting and allow no-excuse absentee balloting.

Democrats have pushed the legislation as the antidote to a wave of restrictive state voting laws sweeping the country, many inspired by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of fraud in his 2020 election loss. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has pledged to bring the election bill to a vote the week of June 21, testing where senators stand. But without Manchin’s support, the bill has no chance of advancing. Republicans are united against it.

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States rebound from bleak forecasts to pass record budgets

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Just a year ago, the financial future looked bleak for state governments as governors and lawmakers scrambled to cut spending amid the coronavirus recession that was projected to pummel revenue.

They laid off state workers, threatened big cuts to schools and warned about canceling or scaling back building projects, among other steps.

Today, many of those same states are flush with cash, and lawmakers are passing budgets with record spending. Money is pouring into schools, social programs and infrastructure. At the same time, many states are socking away billions of dollars in savings.

“It’s definitely safe to say that states are in a much better fiscal situation than they anticipated,” said Erica MacKellar, a fiscal analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Spending plans for the budget year that begins July 1 are up 10% or more in states spanning from Florida and Maryland to Colorado, Utah and Washington.

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Meghan and Harry welcome second child, Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana

Prince Harry and Meghan may have stepped away from their royal duties — but family appeared to be top of mind in naming their second child, Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, who was born Friday in California.

The name pays tribute to both Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, whose family nickname is Lilibet, and his late mother, Princess Diana.

“Thank you for your continued kindness and support during this very special time for our family,” Harry and Meghan, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, wrote in a statement that accompanied the birth announcement Sunday.

The baby is “more than we could have ever imagined, and we remain grateful for the love and prayers we’ve felt from across the globe,” they continued.

The baby girl was born at 11:40 a.m. at the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, California, and weighed in at 7 lbs, 11 oz, a spokesperson for the couple said. The child is eighth in line to the British throne.

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Normandy commemorates D-Day with small crowds, but big heart

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France (AP) — When the sun rises over Omaha Beach, revealing vast stretches of wet sand extending toward distant cliffs, one starts to grasp the immensity of the task faced by Allied soldiers on June 6, 1944, landing on the Nazi-occupied Normandy shore.

The 77th anniversary of D-Day was marked Sunday with several events to commemorate the decisive assault that led to the liberation of France and Western Europe from Nazi control, and honor those who fell.

“These are the men who enabled liberty to regain a foothold on the European continent, and who in the days and weeks that followed lifted the shackles of tyranny, hedgerow by Normandy hedgerow, mile by bloody mile,” Britain’s ambassador to France, Lord Edward Llewellyn, said at the inauguration of a new British monument to D-Day’s heroes.

On D-Day, more than 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, carried by 7,000 boats. This year on June 6, the beaches stood vast and nearly empty as the sun emerged, exactly 77 years since the dawn invasion.

For the second year in a row, anniversary commemorations are marked by virus travel restrictions that prevented veterans or families of fallen soldiers from the U.S., Britain, Canada and other Allied countries from making the trip to France. Only a few officials were allowed exceptions.

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Harris targets corruption, immigration on Latin America trip

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — With Kamala Harris visiting Guatemala and Mexico on her first foreign trip as vice president, the Biden administration is expected to announce new measures to fight smuggling and trafficking, and hopes to announce additional anti-corruption efforts as well, a senior administration official said Sunday.

Harris has been tasked by President Joe Biden with addressing the root causes of the spike in migration to the U.S.-Mexico border. Corruption, which the administration sees as directly related to the increased migration, is expected to be a central focus of her meetings with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday and Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday.

The official, who briefed reporters traveling with Harris on Sunday, spoke on condition of anonymity to preview announcements before they have been made public. No further details were provided.

The trip got off to a rocky start when Harris’ plane returned to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland about 30 minutes after takeoff because of what her spokesperson said was a problem with the landing gear. She departed on another plane about an hour and a half later.

Harris is seeking to secure commitments from Guatemala and Mexico for greater cooperation on border security and economic investment, but corruption in the region — a far more intractable challenge — will complicate her efforts.

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Trump’s grievances cloud Republican agenda heading into 2022

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Republicans are fighting to seize control of Congress. Just don’t ask what they’d do if they win.

Look no further for evidence of the GOP’s muddled governing agenda than battleground North Carolina, where party leaders packed into a convention hall Saturday night to cheer former President Donald Trump. Even with a high-stakes U.S. Senate election looming, the Republicans there were united not by any consistent set of conservative policies or principles, but by Trump’s groundless grievances about the 2020 election and his attacks against critics in both parties.

The lack of a forward-looking agenda stands in stark contrast to successful midterm elections of past years, particularly 1994 and 2010, when Republicans swept into power after staking clear positions on health care, federal spending and crime, among other issues. Without such a strategy heading into 2022, Republicans on the ballot risk allowing themselves to be wholly defined by Trump, who lost his last election when he drew 7 million fewer votes nationally than Democrat Joe Biden and who has seen his popularity slide further, even among some Republicans, since leaving office in January.

“I’m unaware of a GOP agenda. I would love to see one,” said Texas-based conservative activist and former tea party leader Mark Meckler.

“Nobody knows what they’re about,” he said of today’s Republicans. “They do this at their own peril.”

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Officials: 2 trains collide in southern Pakistan, killing 25

MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) — Two express trains collided in southern Pakistan early Monday and at least 25 passengers were killed, police and rescue officials said.

The Millat Express derailed and the Sir Syed Express train hit it soon afterward, said Usman Abdullah, a police officer in Ghotki district in Sindh province, where the collision occurred.

He said villagers, rescuers, and police were transporting the dead and injured passengers to nearby hospitals.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the derailment and the subsequent collision.

Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where successive governments have paid little attention to improving the poorly maintained signal system and aging tracks.

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High court asked to review men-only draft registration law

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether it’s sex discrimination for the government to require only men to register for the draft when they turn 18.

The question of whether it’s unconstitutional to require men but not women to register could be viewed as one with little practical impact. The last time there was a draft was during the Vietnam War, and the military has been all-volunteer since. But the registration requirement is one of the few remaining places where federal law treats men and women differently, and women’s groups are among those arguing that allowing it to stand is harmful.

The justices could say as soon as Monday whether they will hear a case involving the Military Selective Service Act, which requires men to register for the draft.

Ria Tabacco Mar, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, who is urging the court to take up the issue, says requiring men to register imposes a “serious burden on men that’s not being imposed on women.”

Men who do not register can lose eligibility for student loans and civil service jobs, and failing to register is also a felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison. But Tabacco Mar says the male-only requirement does more than that.

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Last of Soviet soldiers who liberated Auschwitz dies at 98

BERLIN (AP) — David Dushman, the last surviving Soviet soldier involved in the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, has died. He was 98.

The Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria said Sunday that Dushman had died at a Munich hospital on Saturday.

“Every witness to history who passes on is a loss, but saying farewell to David Dushman is particularly painful,” said Charlotte Knobloch, a former head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews. “Dushman was right on the front lines when the National Socialists’ machinery of murder was destroyed.”

As a young Red Army soldier, Dushman flattened the forbidding electric fence around the notorious Nazi death camp with his T-34 tank on Jan. 27, 1945.

He admitted that he and his comrades didn’t immediately realize the full magnitude of what had happened in Auschwitz.

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Clarence Williams III, ‘The Mod Squad’s’ Linc, dies at 81

Clarence Williams III, who played the cool undercover cop Linc Hayes on the counterculture series “The Mod Squad” and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain,” has died. He was 81.

Williams died Friday at his home in Los Angeles after a battle with colon cancer, his manager Allan Mindel said Sunday. Tributes came quickly on social media from both those who worked with Williams and those who admired him for his trailblazing roles and impactful performances.

“Tales from the Hood” director Rusty Cundieff tweeted that his sadness over Williams’ passing, “cannot be overstated. His artistry and sheer coolness was extraordinary. I will forever be in his debt for his brilliant performance in Tales From the Hood. Loved working with him! Blessed travels good sir!”

Lenny Kravitz wrote on Twitter, “When I was a kid growing up in NYC Clarence Williams III was a face on TV that I identified with and that inspired me. From the Mod Squad, to Purple Rain and Sugar Hill, he always performed with dynamic energy. Rest in power, king.”

Director Peyton Reed tweeted that he worked with Williams on the TV movie “The Love Bug” in 1995.