2 US men, ex-Colombia soldiers held in Haiti assassination
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Seventeen suspects have been detained so far in the stunning assassination of Haiti's president, and Haitian authorities say two are believed to hold dual U.S.-Haitian citizenship and Colombia's government says at least six are former members of its army.
Léon Charles, chief of Haiti's National Police, said Thursday night that 15 of the detainees were from Colombia.
The police chief said eight more suspects were being sought and three others had been killed by police. Charles had earlier said seven were killed.
"We are going to bring them to justice," the police chief said, the 17 handcuffed suspects sitting on the floor during a news conference on developments following the brazen killing of President Jovenel Moïse at his home before dawn Wednesday.
Colombia's government said it had been asked about six of the suspects in Haiti, including two of those killed, and had determined they were retired members of its army. It didn't release their identities.
Tropical storm sparks tornado warnings in trek up East Coast
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Severe weather from Tropical Storm Elsa spurred tornado warnings in Delaware and New Jersey early Friday as the system moved over the mid-Atlantic states and into the northeastern United States.
Overnight in coastal New Jersey, a 78 mph (126 kph) wind gust was recorded in Ludlam Bay, and a 71 mph (114 kph) gust was recorded in Beach Haven — both appeared to be "associated with nearby tornadoes," the National Hurricane Center said in a 5 a.m. update.
Elsa had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (80 kph), forecasters said. It was located 5 miles (8 kilometers) east of Atlantic City, New Jersey, and 175 miles (280 kilometers) southwest of Montauk Point, New York.
The system was already blamed for one death in Florida on Wednesday. And Elsa previously sparked a damaging tornado in Georgia.
A tropical storm warning Friday morning stretched along parts of the East Coast from New Jersey to Massachusetts. Forecasters said Elsa was moving northeast at 31 mph (50 kph).
QAnon has receded from social media -- but it's just hiding
On the face of it, you might think that the QAnon conspiracy has largely disappeared from big social media sites. But that's not quite the case.
True, you're much less likely to find popular QAnon catchphrases like "great awakening," "the storm" or "trust the plan" on Facebook these days. Facebook and Twitter have removed tens of thousands of accounts dedicated to the baseless conspiracy theory, which depicts former President Donald Trump as a hero fighting a secret battle against a sect of devil-worshipping pedophiles who dominate Hollywood, big business, the media and government.
Gone are the huge "Stop the Steal" groups that spread falsehoods about the 2020 U.S. presidential elections. Trump is gone as well, banned from Twitter permanently and suspended from posting on Facebook until 2023.
But QAnon is far from winding down. Federal intelligence officials recently warned that its adherents could commit more violence, like the deadly Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. At least one open supporter of QAnon has been elected to Congress. In the four years since someone calling themselves "Q" started posting enigmatic messages on fringe internet discussions boards, QAnon has grown up.
That's partly because QAnon now encompasses a variety of conspiracy theories, from evangelical or religious angles to alleged pedophilia in Hollywood and the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, said Jared Holt, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council's DFRLab who focuses on domestic extremism. "Q-specific stuff is sort of dwindling," he said. But the worldviews and conspiracy theories that QAnon absorbed are still with us.
Pfizer to seek OK for 3rd vaccine dose; shots still protect
Pfizer is about to seek U.S. authorization for a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, saying Thursday that another shot within 12 months could dramatically boost immunity and maybe help ward off the latest worrisome coronavirus mutant.
Research from multiple countries shows the Pfizer shot and other widely used COVID-19 vaccines offer strong protection against the highly contagious delta variant, which is spreading rapidly around the world and now accounts for most new U.S. infections.
Two doses of most vaccines are critical to develop high levels of virus-fighting antibodies against all versions of the coronavirus, not just the delta variant -- and most of the world still is desperate to get those initial protective doses as the pandemic continues to rage.
But antibodies naturally wane over time, so studies also are underway to tell if and when boosters might be needed.
On Thursday, Pfizer's Dr. Mikael Dolsten told The Associated Press that early data from the company's booster study suggests people's antibody levels jump five- to 10-fold after a third dose, compared to their second dose months earlier.
Drone attacks by Iraqi militias reflect Iran's waning hold
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iran's expeditionary Quds Force commander brought one main directive for Iraqi militia faction leaders long beholden to Tehran, when he gathered with them in Baghdad last month: Maintain calm, until after nuclear talks between Iran and the United States.
But he was met with defiance. One of the six faction leaders spoke up in their meeting: They could not stay quiet while the death of his predecessor Qassim Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a U.S. drone strike went unavenged.
Militia attacks have only been increasing against the U.S. in military bases in both Iraq and Syria. Three missile attacks in the last week alone resulted in minor injuries, stoking fears of escalation.
The details from Esmail Ghaani's visit, confirmed to The Associated Press by three Shiite political officials and two senior militia officials, demonstrate how Iranian-aligned Iraqi militia groups are asserting a degree of independence, sometimes even flouting orders from Tehran. Iran now relies on Lebanon's Hezbollah for support in reining them in, and there is potential that Iran's new president could play a role in doing the same.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meetings.
DeSantis parts with Trump in response to Surfside tragedy
SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — When the coronavirus ravaged Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis defiantly bucked mask mandates. He later cracked down on protesters advocating racial justice, blasted President Joe Biden on immigration, jumped into the fight over transgender athletes and signed sweeping legislation to toughen voting rules.
But after a deadly building collapse, the Republican governor is largely hitting pause on the culture wars.
In the two weeks since a 12-story condo tower in this coastal community suddenly crumbled, killing at least 64 people, DeSantis has stood somberly with local officials, including Democrats, as they assessed the damage. He nodded in agreement when Biden visited and hailed their joint appearance as a sign that those with opposing political views can work together in a crisis. And he even skipped a rally in Sarasota headlined by former President Donald Trump, whose early endorsement was crucial in helping DeSantis win the governor's race in 2018.
Since that victory, DeSantis has often taken his cues from Trump. But as he prepares for a reelection bid next year that could propel him into a presidential campaign, the tragedy in Surfside is exposing voters to a different side of the governor. He's still the conservative populist who rarely parts with Trump. But unlike the former president, DeSantis is showing that he can tone down some of his most extreme partisan rhetoric during a disaster.
"The governor has been decisive. He's been constant. He's been collaborative," Miami-Dade County Mayor Danielle Levine Cava, a Democrat who has sparred with DeSantis in the past, said in an interview. "Hats off to the governor for how he has supported us in this crisis."
African American spelling bee champ makes history with flair
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Zaila Avant-garde understood the significance of what she was doing as she stood on the Scripps National Spelling Bee stage, peppering pronouncer Jacques Bailly with questions about Greek and Latin roots.
Zaila knew she would be the first African American winner of the bee. She knew Black kids around the country were watching Thursday night's ESPN2 telecast, waiting to be inspired and hoping to follow in the footsteps of someone who looked like them. She even thought of MacNolia Cox, who in 1936 became the first Black finalist at the bee and wasn't allowed to stay in the same hotel as the rest of the spellers.
But she never let the moment become too big for her, and when she heard what turned out to be her winning word — "Murraya," a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees — she beamed with confidence. It was over.
Declared the champion, Zaila jumped and twirled with joy, only flinching in surprise when confetti was shot onto the stage.
"I was pretty relaxed on the subject of Murraya and pretty much any other word I got," Zaila said.
Q&A with Georgia Gov. Kemp: Voters 'know what the truth is'
ATLANTA (AP) — Four years can be a lifetime in politics. Especially in Georgia.
Brian Kemp won the 2018 Republican primary for Georgia governor propelled by grassroots conservatives and a late endorsement from then-President Donald Trump. Kemp went on to defeat Democrat Stacey Abrams in the general election.
Now, Democrats are riding high on President Joe Biden's win in the state. Trump and his ardent supporters are fuming with Kemp for certifying Biden's victory. And Republicans are reeling from losing two Senate seats.
Still, Kemp is readying to go for it again — he may even get a rematch against Abrams. Ahead of his Saturday reelection campaign launch, The Associated Press talked to Kemp about the race ahead, Abrams, Trump and the new Georgia political landscape. The interview has been condensed for length and clarity.
Diverse England team wins fans in nation eager for good news
LONDON (AP) — Hannah Kumari has been an English soccer fan since childhood, but she never wanted to fly an England flag. Until now.
Kumari is one of millions of fans ecstatic that England's men's team has reached the final of a major tournament for the first time since it won the World Cup in 1966. But like many British people of color, she's had an ambivalent relationship with symbols of Englishness.
Yet embracing them has come more easily thanks to the young, multi-ethnic squad that is on the cusp of triumph in the European Championships. After beating Denmark 2-1 in a semifinal on Wednesday that was watched by half the country's population, England faces Italy in the final at London's Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
"When I woke up this morning I thought, 'I'm going to buy a St. George's flag to hang out the window for Sunday,'" Kumari, who was born and raised in England to an Indian mother and Scottish father, said the day after the Denmark game.
"I've never owned an England shirt," the actor-writer said.
AP PHOTOS: With 4 million COVID dead, many kids left behind
Some won't ever remember the parents they lost because they were too young when COVID-19 struck. Others are trying to keep the memory alive by doing the things they used to do together: making pancakes or playing guitar. Others still are clutching onto what remains, a pillow or a photo, as they adapt to lives with aunts, uncles and siblings stepping in to fill the void.
The 4 million people who have died so far in the coronavirus pandemic left behind parents, friends and spouses — but also young children who are navigating life now as orphans or with just one parent, who is also mourning the loss.
It's a trauma that is playing out in big cities and small villages across the globe, from Assam state in northeast India to New Jersey and points in between.
And even as vaccination rates tick up, the losses and generational impact show no sign of easing in many places where the virus and its variants continue to kill. As the official COVID-19 death toll reached its latest grim milestone this week, South Korea reported its biggest single-day jump in infections and Indonesia counted its deadliest day of the pandemic so far.
Victoria Elizabeth Soto didn't notice the milestone. She was born three months ago after her mother, Elisabeth Soto, checked into the hospital in Lomas de Zamora, Argentina, eight months pregnant and suffering symptoms of COVID-19.