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China hails Xi and Biden talks, after year of growing strain

BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday hailed a virtual meeting between President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden, saying they had a candid and constructive exchange that sent a strong signal to the world.

The positive description of the meeting came in sharp contrast to heated exchanges between the two nations earlier this year. The talks appeared to mark what both sides hoped would be a turnaround in relations, though major differences remain.

"If China-U.S. relations cannot return to the past, they should face the future," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.

The video conference between the two leaders and their senior aides lasted more than three hours and was their first formal meeting since Biden took office in January.

Facing domestic pressures at home, both Biden and Xi seemed determined to lower the temperature in what for both sides is their most significant — and frequently turbulent — relationship on the global stage.


Jury to begin deliberations at Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Jurors will begin deliberations Tuesday at Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial after two weeks of testimony in which prosecutors and defense attorneys painted starkly different pictures of his actions the night he shot three men on the streets of Kenosha.

Prosecutors claimed in closing arguments Monday that Rittenhouse was a "wannabe soldier" who provoked bloodshed by bringing a semi-automatic rifle to a protest and menacing others, then walking off like a "hero in a Western" after killing two men and wounding a third.

But Rittenhouse's lawyer countered that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense after being ambushed by a "crazy person" who he feared would wrest away his gun and use it to kill him.

Jurors listened to a full day of arguments before being told to return Tuesday morning for the start of deliberations in the case that has stirred fierce debate in the U.S. over guns, vigilantism and law and order.

Eighteen jurors have been hearing the case; the 12 who will decide Rittenhouse's fate and the six who will be designated alternates will be determined by a drawing from a raffle drum.


EXPLAINER: Which side did better in Rittenhouse closings?

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — A defense lawyer angrily accused the prosecution at Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial of lying. The lead prosecutor struck a measured tone, even as he raised the accused's rifle at one point and sighted at a courtroom wall.

How the indignation and theatrics during Monday's closing arguments played with jurors won't be clear until 12 of them return with verdicts in a case that underscores American divisions on issues of guns, protests and policing.

Here's a look at how some five hours of closings went and which side may have made the stronger argument to jurors: 


Most agreed going into the trial that prosecutors would have the tougher case to make given Rittenhouse's claim under state law that he shot three men, killing two, in self-defense. That challenge remained in closings, where prosecutors had to account for two weeks of evidence that largely showed Rittenhouse as the one being chased when he opened fire.


Biden to push infrastructure deal at 'red list' bridge in NH

WASHINGTON (AP) — The last time Joe Biden was in New Hampshire, he was a no-show at his own, sad party. 

Trounced in the state's 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Biden hopped a flight to next-up South Carolina before the polls had even closed on his fifth-place finish. On Tuesday, he returns to New Hampshire as president, eager to talk up his new $1 trillion infrastructure deal and what all that money can do for Americans.

Biden is down in the polls and hopes to use the successful deal to shift the political winds in his direction with new momentum for his broader $1.85 trillion social spending package before Congress.

The president signed the infrastructure bill into law on Monday at a splashy bipartisan ceremony for hundreds on the White House South Lawn, where lawmakers and union workers cheered and clapped.

"America is moving again and your life is going to change for the better," Biden promised Americans. 


US journalist jailed in Myanmar for months heads home

NEW YORK (AP) — American journalist Danny Fenster, who was freed after nearly six months in jail in military-ruled Myanmar, was expected to arrive in the United States on Tuesday.

Fenster, who was sentenced last week to 11 years of hard labor, was handed over Monday to former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson, who helped negotiate the release. He is one of more than 100 journalists, media officials or publishers who have been detained since the military ousted the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in February.

"I'm feeling all right physically," a bearded Fenster, in baggy drawstring pants and a knit hat, told journalists after landing in Doha, Qatar, which he passed through on his way home. "It's just the same privations and things that come with any form of incarceration. ... The longer it drags on, the more worried you are that it's just never going to end."

While jailed, Fenster told his lawyer that he believed he had COVID-19, though prison authorities denied that.

Fenster, the managing editor of online magazine Frontier Myanmar, was convicted Friday of spreading false or inflammatory information, contacting illegal organizations and violating visa regulations. Days before his conviction, he learned he had been charged with additional violations that put him at risk of a life sentence.


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Polish forces use water cannon on migrants who threw stones

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish border forces on Wednesday said they were attacked with stones by migrants at the border with Belarus and responded with a water cannon.

The Border Guard agency posted video on Twitter showing the water cannon being directed across the border at a group of migrants in a makeshift camp.

Poland's Defense Ministry said its soldiers and other border forces were attacked with stones and other objects.

The ministry also said that Belarusian forces tried to destroy fencing along the countries' common border.

Meanwhile, parliament is expected Tuesday to take up a legislative proposal that would regulate the ability of citizens to move in the area of the border with Belarus after a state of emergency ends at this end of this month.


Despite mistrust, Afghan Shiites seek Taliban protection

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Outside a Shiite shrine in Kabul, four armed Taliban fighters stood guard on a recent Friday as worshippers filed in for weekly prayers. Alongside them was a guard from Afghanistan's mainly Shiite Hazara minority, an automatic rifle slung over his shoulder. 

It was a sign of the strange, new relationship brought by the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. The Taliban, Sunni hard-liners who for decades targeted the Hazaras as heretics, are now their only protection against a more brutal enemy: the Islamic State group.

Sohrab, the Hazara guard standing watch over the Abul Fazl al-Abbas Shrine, told The Associated Press that he gets along fine with the Taliban guards. "They even pray in the mosque sometimes," he said, giving only his first name for security reasons.

Not everyone feels so comfortable. 

Syed Aqil, a young Hazara visiting the ornate shrine along with his wife and 8-month-old daughter, was disturbed that many of the Taliban still wear their traditional garb — the look of a jihadi insurgent — rather than a police uniform.


'We don't deserve this': Inflation hits Turkish people hard

ISTANBUL (AP) — Market-stand owner Kadriye Dogru makes do with stale, sesame-covered bagels, known as simit, for lunch these days. The widowed mother of two says she goes without lunch so she can put food on the table for her family later in the day.

The money that the 59-year-old earns by selling sweatpants and other garments at Istanbul's Ortakcilar market no longer lasts, and she is struggling to buy food, let alone anything else. 

"I had never experienced such a deplorable life. I go to sleep, I wake up and the prices have gone up. I bought a 5-litre can of (cooking) oil, it was 40 lira. I went back, it was 80 lira," she said. "We don't deserve this as a nation."

Many people in Turkey are facing increased hardship as prices of food and other goods have soared. While rising consumer prices are affecting countries worldwide as they bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic, economists say Turkey's eye-popping inflation has been exacerbated by economic mismanagement, concerns over the country's financial reserves and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's push to cut interest rates. 

He claims lower borrowing costs will boost growth, though economists say just the opposite is the way to tame soaring prices. The Turkish lira has been tumbling to record lows against the U.S. dollar as the country's central bank has slashed interest rates, fueling concerns about its independence.


2 explosions rock Uganda's capital, Kampala, injuring 24

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Two loud explosions rocked Uganda's capital, Kampala, early Tuesday, sparking chaos and confusion as people fled what is widely believed to be coordinated attacks. 

One blast was near a police station and another on a street near the parliamentary building, said witnesses. The explosion near parliament appeared to hit a building housing an insurance company and the subsequent fire engulfed cars parked outside. Some lawmakers were seen evacuating the precincts of the parliamentary building nearby, according to national broadcaster UBC. 

At least 24 people have been hospitalized with injuries sustained in the blasts, Emmanuel Ainebyoona, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said in a Twitter post. Four of them are critically injured, he said. 

An eyewitness video posted online showed a plume of white smoke rising from the blast scene near the police station. 

Police did not immediately comment, and it was not clear if the explosions were bomb attacks.


Inmate who was key to juvenile life debate is up for parole

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In recent years, hundreds of people once destined to spend the rest of their lives in prison after being convicted of crimes as juveniles have gone free after Supreme Court decisions ruling that young people are capable of change and should be given a second chance.

But so far the man whose case has been central to this change — 75-year-old Henry Montgomery — is still behind bars nearly six decades after his 1963 arrest. That may change Wednesday when a Louisiana parole board votes for the third time whether to grant Montgomery parole.

"The state has gotten about fifty-eight years of Henry Montgomery's life. He doesn't have much left. What's the value in making him spend a couple more years there? I, for one, cannot see it," said Andrew Hundley who runs the Louisiana Parole Project that will provide a home and support for Montgomery should he be released.

Montgomery was arrested after fatally shooting Charles Hurt, an East Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy, who caught him skipping school. Montgomery was 17 at the time. He was initially sentenced to death but the state's Supreme Court threw out his conviction in 1966, saying he didn't get a fair trial. The case was retried, Montgomery convicted again but this time sentenced to life in prison.

When Montgomery went to prison, and for decades afterward, the "lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key" attitude dominated law enforcement and society — especially in Louisiana where the incarceration rate has consistently been the highest in the country. Juvenile offenders, often portrayed as irredeemable "super-predators," were no exception.

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