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    Kathy Gannon has reported on Afghanistan for the AP for the past 35 years, during an extraordinary series of events and regime changes that have rocked the world. Through it all, the kindness and resilience of ordinary Afghans has shone through for her – which is also what has made it so painful for her, she says, to watch the slow erosion of their hope. Gannon says she has always been amazed at how Afghans stubbornly hung on to hope against all odds, greeting each of several new regimes with optimism. But by 2018, a Gallup poll showed that the fraction of people in Afghanistan with hope in the future was the lowest ever recorded anywhere. It didn’t have to be this way, Gannon says.

      China’s top diplomat has arrived on his first visit to Myanmar since the military seized power last year to attend a regional meeting. The government says it's a recognition of its legitimacy while opponents protested it as a violation of peace efforts. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will join counterparts from Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in a meeting of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation group in the central city of Bagan. The grouping is a Chinese-led initiative that includes the countries of the Mekong Delta, a potential source of regional tensions due to an increasing number of hydroelectric projects that are altering the flow and raising concerns of ecological damage. China has built 10 dams along the upper stretch of the Mekong.

        California voters will weigh in on seven ballot measures this fall. It's the fewest number to appear on a statewide general election ballot since 2014. Thursday was the deadline to qualify measures for the November ballot. One question was placed on the ballot by the state Legislature and six are initiatives that gathered enough verified signatures to go before voters. Voters will be asked to weigh in on issues including whether to enshrine the right to an abortion in the California Constitution, whether to expand sports betting and whether to set aside public school funding for arts and music.

          Tropical Storm Colin has brought rain and winds to parts of North and South Carolina, though the storm has weakened and conditions are expected to improve by Monday's July Fourth celebrations. Separately, the center of Tropical Storm Bonnie rolled into the Pacific on Saturday after a rapid march across Central America, where it caused flooding, downed trees and forced thousands of people to evacuate in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Forecasters say Bonnie is likely to become a hurricane by Monday off the southern coast of Mexico, but it is unlikely to make a direct hit on land.

            North Korea has slammed the U.S., South Korea and Japan for pushing to boost their trilateral military cooperation targeting the North, warning that the move is prompting urgent calls for the country to reinforce its military capability. Sunday’s statement comes as North Korea’s neighbors say the country is ready for its first nuclear test in five years as part of its provocative run of weapons tests this year. The Foreign Ministry statement took issue with a recent trilateral meeting among the U.S., South Korean and Japanese leaders, during which they underscored the need to strengthen their cooperation to deal with North Korean nuclear threats.

            A person used a flamethrower to set fire to a Pan-African flag flying on a pole outside the headquarters of a Black international socialist group based in Florida. Security video released by the Uhuru Movement shows the driver of a white sedan pulling up outside the group’s St. Petersburg headquarters on Saturday morning. The driver pulls a flame thrower from the trunk and shoots a tower of fire at the flag flying 30 feet above the ground. The group says the driver stopped when a worker inside the building yelled at him. The video shows the person putting the flamethrower back in the trunk and then driving away. Police are investigating.

            The marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court has asked Maryland and Virginia officials to enforce laws she says prohibit picketing outside the homes of the justices who live in the two states. Marshal Gail Curley took up the issue Friday with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and two local elected officials. A Hogan spokesman said Saturday that the Republican governor had directed state police to “further review enforcement options that respect the First Amendment and the Constitution.” But he also noted that the constitutionality of the Maryland statute Curley cited has been questioned by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

            Attorneys for multiple women suing Deshaun Watson over sexual misconduct are seeking the documents from the NFL’s investigation into the former Houston Texans quarterback. According to the motion filed Friday by the women’s attorneys, the legal team seeks any and all reports and files from the NFL’s investigation into Watson. That includes recorded interviews, witness statements and communications. Watson, who was later traded to the Cleveland Browns, has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name. He is facing discipline from the NFL over the allegations. In June, Watson settled 20 of 24 lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct.

            A 3-year-old boy has died after falling from a 29th floor balcony of a New York City apartment building in Harlem. A police spokesperson said responding officers found the injured toddler on Saturday morning lying on a 3rd floor scaffolding. The boy was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. A police spokesperson said police believe the child exited through a window, but exactly how that occurred is under investigation. Police are speaking with two individuals who were in the apartment at the time of the child's fall. The case remains under investigation.

            Clinics are shutting down abortion services in Texas after the Supreme Court in the nation's second-largest state blocked an order that briefly allowed the procedure to resume in some cases. It's the latest development in legal scrambles taking place across the country following the reversal of reversal of Roe v. Wade. The Friday night ruling stopped a three-day-old order allowing abortions to resume up to six weeks into pregnancy. On Saturday, the American Civil Liberties Union said it doubted that any abortions were now being provided in the state. One provider, Whole Woman’s Health, says the ruling forced it to stop offering the procedure in its four Texas clinics.

            A 35-year-old New York man is facing trespassing and stalking charges after authorities said he entered two New York City residences linked to the famed singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. Police say the suspect entered a Tribeca residential building linked to Swift on March 26. Authorities say he fled on foot when security told him to leave. On June 12, police say the same man entered another residential building on the same street linked to Swift and “made threats through the intercom toward a 32-year-old female." He was arrested Friday. The 32-year-old Swift has had prior issues with alleged stalkers. In 2018, police said a man broke into her Tribeca townhouse and took a nap.

            Russian forces are pounding the city of Lysychansk and its surroundings in an all-out attempt to seize the last stronghold of resistance in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province. The regional governor said Saturday that Russians "opened fire from all available kinds of weapons” in the last day.  A presidential adviser said its fate will be decided within the next two days. Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend the city and to keep it from falling to Russia, as neighboring Sievierodonetsk did a week ago. Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk are the two provinces that make up the Donbas region, where Russia has focused its offensive since the spring.

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            Content by Brand Ave. Studios. The annual Amazon Prime Day is coming July 12 and 13, and per usual will offer discounts on many of your favorite things.

            Content by Brand Ave. Studios. The annual Amazon Prime Day is coming July 12 and 13, and per usual will offer discounts on many of your favorite things.

            The Uvalde school district’s police chief has stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn in following allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Chief Pete Arredondo told the Uvalde Leader-News Friday that his resignation is “the best decision for Uvalde.” He was elected to the District 3 council position on May 7 and sworn in on May 31. The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety told a Senate hearing last month that Arredondo made “terrible decisions” as the massacre unfolded on May 24 , and that the police response was an “abject failure.”

            The bodies of three young children and a woman believed to be their mother have been recovered from a Minnesota lake. Authorities say the deaths are being investigated as a triple murder-suicide. The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began. The woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake. One child's body was found in the lake Friday night, another shortly after midnight, and the bodies of the third child and the mother were found late Saturday morning. All of the children were under age 5.

            For the first time, a Black woman has been appointed as Connecticut’s chief public defender. TaShun Bowden-Lewis officially began her job on Friday in the Division of Public Defender Services. She tells The Hartford Courant that she hopes to provide minority clients with a greater sense of trust in the state’s criminal justice system. She says she wants clients and families to understand her office is “in the trenches with them.” Bowden-Lewis was appointed in late May by the Public Defender Services Commission. The division represents clients in more than 100,000 criminal, child protection, delinquency defense, and family support cases annually.

            Fearing Russia might cut off natural gas supplies, the head of Germany’s regulatory agency for energy is calling on residents to save energy and to prepare for winter, when use increases. Federal Network Agency President Klaus Mueller urged property owners to have their gas boilers and radiators checked and adjusted to maximize their efficiency. Mueller told the Funke Mediengruppe, a German newspaper and magazine publisher. on Saturday that residents need to use the 12 weeks before cold weather sets in to get ready. He says families should start talking now about “whether every room needs to be set at its usual temperature in the winter, or whether some rooms can be a little colder.”

            The Hard Rock casino has reached agreement with Atlantic City’s main casino workers union, removing the last threat of a strike during the busy holiday weekend. Local 54 of the Unite Here union said it reached a tentative agreement with Hard Rock, avoiding a strike that had been threatened for 12:01 a.m. Sunday. Combined with agreements reached Thursday with the Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s and the Tropicana, Hard Rock’s deal leaves only two smaller casinos, Resorts and the Golden Nugget, without a contract. But the union says it expects both of them to agree to one in the coming days.

            Google will automatically purge information about users who visit abortion clinics and other places that could trigger legal problems now that the U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door for states to ban the termination of pregnancies. The company behind the internet’s dominant internet search engine and Android phone software outlined the new privacy protections in a Friday blog post. Other places Google plans to erase from location histories include counseling centers and fertility centers. The move is made as Google and other Big Tech companies face escalating pressure to safeguard the sensitive personal information collected through their products.

            The Palestinian Authority says it has given the bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to American forensic experts. The move takes a step toward resolving a standoff with Israel over the investigation into her death. Abu Akleh, a veteran correspondent who was well known throughout the Arab world, was fatally shot while covering an Israeli military raid on May 11 in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinians, along with colleagues who were with her, say she was killed by Israeli fire. Israel says its troops were in a battle with Palestinian gunmen, and it's unclear who fired the fatal shot. It says the bullet must be inspected to understand what happened.

            Actress Lindsay Lohan is celebrating her 36th birthday on Saturday as a married woman. The ‘Freaky Friday’ star posted a picture on Instagram with financier Bader Shammas, saying that she was ‘stunned that you are my husband.’ The couple had announced their engagement last November. Lohan wrote that ‘every woman should feel like this everyday.’ No details about the wedding were available; People magazine and Entertainment Tonight confirmed that the two were now married. The former child star has dealt with sobriety issues over the years but has been back to work, filming a romantic comedy for Netflix due to be released later this year.

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