Activists: Belarus sprinter plans to seek asylum in Poland

TOKYO (AP) — A Belarusian Olympic sprinter plans to seek asylum in Poland after alleging that officials tried to force her home, where she feared for her safety, an activist group said Monday.

Athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is applying for a visa at the Polish embassy in Tokyo, according to Vadim Krivosheyev, of the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation. He told The Associated Press that the group has bought her a plane ticket to Warsaw for Aug. 4.

The current standoff apparently began after Tsimanouskaya criticized how officials were managing her team. Tsimanouskaya, who was due to run in the Olympic 200-meter heats Monday, said on her Instagram account that she was put in the 4x400 relay even though she has never raced the event.

Tsimanouskaya said in a filmed message distributed on social media that she was pressured by Belarus team officials and asked the International Olympic Committee for help.

"I was put under pressure and they are trying to forcibly take me out of the country without my consent," the 24-year-old runner said.

___

American star Simone Biles to return for balance beam finals

TOKYO (AP) — Simone Biles is back.

The 2016 Olympic gymnastics champion will return to competition in the balance beam final on Tuesday, a little over a week after stepping away from the meet to focus on her mental health.

"We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow — Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can't wait to watch you both!" USA Gymnastics said in a statement.

File-This July 27, 2021, file photo shows Simone Biles, of the United States, waiting to perform on the vault during the artistic gymnastics women's final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. Biles’ sponsors including Athleta and Visa are lauding her decision to put her mental health first and withdraw from the gymnastics team competition during the Olympics. It’s the latest example of sponsors praising athletes who are increasingly open about mental health issues. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

The 24-year-old Biles won bronze on beam in Rio de Janeiro five years ago and qualified for the eight-woman final at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre on the first weekend of the Games.

She removed herself from the team final on July 27 after a shaky performance on vault during the first rotation. She watched from the sidelines as her three American teammates completed the meet without her; the U.S. took silver behind the team known as the Russian Olympic Committee.

___

It's in - and big: Senators produce $1T infrastructure bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — After much delay, senators unveiled a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, wrapping up days of painstaking work on the inches-thick bill and launching what is certain to be a lengthy debate over President Joe Biden's big priority.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act clocked in at some 2,700 pages, and senators could begin amending it soon. Despite the hurry-up-and-wait during a rare weekend session, emotions bubbled over once the bill was produced Sunday night. The final product was not intended to stray from the broad outline senators had negotiated for weeks with the White House. 

"We haven't done a large, bipartisan bill of this nature in a long time," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. He said a final vote could be held "in a matter of days." 

A key part of Biden's agenda, the bipartisan bill is the first phase of the president's infrastructure plan. It calls for $550 billion in new spending over five years above projected federal levels, what could be one of the more substantial expenditures on the nation's roads, bridges, waterworks, broadband and the electric grid in years.

Senators and staff labored behind the scenes for days to write the massive bill. It was supposed to be ready Friday, but by Sunday even more glitches were caught and changes made. To prod the work, Schumer kept senators in session over the weekend, encouraging the authors to finish up work.

___

Evictions expected to spike as federal moratorium ends

BOSTON (AP) — Evictions, which have mostly been on pause during the pandemic, are expected to ramp up on Monday after the expiration of a federal moratorium as housing courts take up more cases and tenants are locked out of their homes.

Housing advocates fear the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium could result in millions of people being evicted in the coming weeks. But most expect an uptick in filings in the coming days rather than a wave of evictions.

The Biden administration announced Thursday it will allow a nationwide ban to expire. It argued that its hands are tied after the U.S. Supreme Court signaled the moratorium would only be extended until the end of the month.

House lawmakers on Friday attempted but, ultimately failed, to pass a bill to extend the moratorium even for a few months. Some Democratic lawmakers had wanted it extended until the end of the year.

"Struggling renters are now facing a health crisis and an eviction crisis," said Alicia Mazzara, a senior research analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

___

Refugees pushed to back of the line amid vaccine shortages

NEW DELHI (AP) — Salimullah, a Rohingya refugee, has been living in the Indian capital of New Delhi since 2013 when he fled violence in Myanmar. Stateless, and now homeless after a fire razed his camp, the 35-year-old lives in a tent with as many as 10 other people at a time. 

Before the pandemic, he ran a small business selling groceries from a shack. But that was closed during India's harsh, months-long lockdown, and his savings are gone. He and his family have been surviving on donated food, but he has to return to work soon, despite the risk of getting COVID-19 and infecting others.

Although some refugees in India have begun getting vaccines, no one in his camp has received shots. Just over 7 percent of India's population is fully vaccinated and vaccine shortages have plagued the nation of almost 1.4 billion.

"The disease doesn't discriminate. If we get infected, locals will also," Salimullah said. 

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

___

Death toll jumps to more than 300 in recent China flooding

BEIJING (AP) — More than 300 people died in recent flooding in central China, authorities said Monday, three times the previously announced toll.

The Henan provincial government said 302 people died and 50 remain missing. The vast majority of the victims were in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, where 292 died and 47 are missing. Ten others died in three other cities, officials said at a news conference.

Record rainfall inundated Zhengzhou on July 20, turning streets into rushing rivers and flooding at least part of a subway line. Video posted online showed vehicles being washed away and desperate people trapped in subway cars as the waters rose. Fourteen people died in the subway flooding.

The previous death toll, announced Friday, was 99.

Authorities said 189 people were killed by floods and mudslides, 54 in house collapses and 39 in underground areas such as basements and garages and including those on subway Line 5. Six died in a roadway tunnel from which more than 200 vehicles were removed after it was drained, according to Chinese media reports.

___

A year ago: Death and birth at hospital hit by Beirut blast

BEIRUT (AP) — Emmanuelle Khnaisser had been in labor all day, and now it was in the last stages. Her baby — her first — was crowning.

Five floors below, Jessica Bezdjian was just coming in through the entrance of Beirut's St. George Hospital. She was an hour early for her 12-hour shift as a nurse in the psychiatric ward.

Everything exploded. 

In every room on every floor in a single instant, windows burst. Doors flew off their hinges, ceilings collapsed, and equipment toppled. A wave of dust and pulverized glass surged through the wards and halls. In the darkness and chaos came the screams of bloodied patients, doctors and nurses.

One of Lebanon's most prestigious and oldest medical centers, St. George stands overlooking the Mediterranean coast about 900 meters (yards) from Beirut's port. On that day a year ago, hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate improperly stored at a port warehouse blew up in one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history.

___

Beijing Games: Sports coverage fine, other things maybe not

TOKYO (AP) — The IOC says the Olympics are only about the sports; no politics allowed. This will be the mantra, as it always is, when the Beijing Winter Games open in six months.

Covering ski races or figure-skating finals should be painless; just stay in the sports bubble and out of trouble. But reporters from other countries who puncture the PR skin to explore other aspects of life in China — as they have in Japan during the Tokyo Olympics — could draw more than criticism. 

They could face harassment and threats if portrayals are deemed by the government — and the increasingly nationalist public — to be giving a negative view of China.

"China demands complete adherence to its position on a number of issues," Oriana Skylar Mastro, who researches China security issues at Stanford University, told The Associated Press.

"It demands this from governments, but also corporations, media, and individuals," she said in an email. "So, do I think China is going to go after anyone, including sports reporters during the Olympics, that deviate from the 'acceptable' script? Yes, I absolutely do."

___

At an extraordinary Olympics, acts of kindness abound

TOKYO (AP) — A surfer jumping in to translate for the rival who'd just beaten him. High-jumping friends agreeing to share a gold medal rather than move to a tiebreaker. Two runners falling in a tangle of legs, then helping each other to the finish line.

In an extraordinary Olympic Games where mental health has been front and center, acts of kindness are everywhere. The world's most competitive athletes have been captured showing gentleness and warmth to one another — celebrating, pep-talking, wiping away one another's tears of disappointment.

Kanoa Igarashi of Japan was disappointed when he lost to Brazilian Italo Ferreira in their sport's Olympic debut.

Not only did he blow his shot at gold on the beach he grew up surfing, he was also being taunted online by racist Brazilian trolls.

The Japanese-American surfer could have stewed in silence, but he instead deployed his knowledge of Portuguese, helping to translate a press conference question for Ferreira on the world stage.

___

Families urge using new DNA tech to ID Pearl Harbor unknowns

HONOLULU (AP) — William Edward Mann enlisted in the Navy after graduating from high school in rural Washington state. A guitar player, he picked up the ukulele while stationed in Hawaii.

He's been presumed dead since Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor and set off a massive explosion that sank his battleship, the USS Arizona, launching the U.S. into World War II.

Now, his niece is among some families of crew members who are demanding the U.S. military take advantage of advances in DNA technology to identify 85 sailors and Marines from the Arizona who were buried as unknowns. They say the military has disinterred and identified remains from other Pearl Harbor battleships and should do the same for their loved ones.

"These men matter and they served. They gave their lives for our country. And they deserve the same honor and respect as any other service member past, present and future," Teri Mann Whyatt said.

The Arizona suffered more loss of life than any other ship at Pearl Harbor, with 1,177 dead. More than 900 went down with the ship and have remained entombed there ever since.

AP Logo little