For democracy, it's a time of swimming against the tide
The old Nicaraguan revolutionary, with his receding hairline and the goatee that he had finally let turn grey, spoke calmly into the camera as police swarmed toward his house, hidden behind a high wall in a leafy Managua neighborhood. Surveillance drones, he said, were watching overhead.
Decades earlier, Hugo Torres had been a revered guerrilla in the fight against right-wing dictator Anastasio Somoza. In 1974, he'd taken a group of top officials hostage, then traded them for the release of imprisoned comrades. Among those prisoners was Daniel Ortega, a Marxist bank robber who would become Nicaragua's elected president and later its authoritarian ruler.
And on this hot Sunday in mid-June, amid a weekslong clampdown to obliterate nearly every hint of opposition, Ortega had his old savior arrested.
"History is on our side," Torres said in the video, which was quickly uploaded onto social media. "The end of the dictatorship is close."
But history -- at least recent history -- is not on Torres' side. In the last few months, the growing ranks of dictators have flexed their muscles, and freedom has been in retreat.
Condo collapse victim fought at failed Bay of Pigs invasion
Sixty years before Juan Mora's Florida condo building came crashing down, killing him and at least 89 others, he was among hundreds of Cuban exiles who signed up for a covert, CIA-funded operation to overthrow Fidel Castro's Soviet-backed dictatorship.
Mora's dream of restoring democracy in his homeland took him from military training at a Guatemalan jungle camp to the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, where he was captured and then crammed into a decrepit, rat-filled Cuban prison for 20 months, friends once imprisoned with him told The Associated Press.
Authorities on Wednesday identified the remains of 80-year-old Juan A. Mora, also known as Juanito, recovered from the rubble of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside. Others killed included his wife, Ana, and their adult son, Juan Mora Jr., who worked in Chicago and had been staying with his parents when their 12-story building suddenly pancaked on June 24.
Mora Sr. was a much-liked figure in the Miami area Cuban-American community, once active in the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association and the Bay of Pigs Museum it houses, museum board member Humberto Lopez said Friday. Mora was "always trying to help," organizing events, writing editorials about the invasion and emailing with other members of the veterans group, Lopez recalled.
Lopez said he and the loquacious Mora were close for the past decade, and described his wife as "charismatic."
Trump lawyers might be penalized over Michigan election case
DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge is considering whether to order financial penalties or other sanctions against some of former President Donald Trump's lawyers who signed onto a lawsuit last year challenging Michigan's election results.
The lawsuit alleging widespread fraud was voluntarily dropped after a judge in December found nothing but "speculation and conjecture" that votes for Trump somehow were destroyed or switched to votes for Joe Biden, who won Michigan by 2.8 percentage points.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the city of Detroit now want the plaintiffs and a raft of attorneys, including Trump allies Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood, to face the consequences of pursuing what they call frivolous claims.
"It was never about winning on the merits of the claims, but rather (the) purpose was to undermine the integrity of the election results and the people's trust in the electoral process and in government," the attorney general's office said in a court filing.
U.S. District Judge Linda Parker in Detroit is holding a hearing by video conference Monday.
California and other parts of the West broil and burn
Firefighters working in searing heat struggled to contain the largest wildfire in California this year while state power operators urged people to conserve energy after a huge wildfire in neighboring Oregon disrupted the flow of electricity from three major transmission lines.
A large swath of the West baked during the weekend in triple-digit temperatures that were expected to continue into the start of the work week. The California Independent System Operator that manages the state's power grid issued a five-hour "flex alert" starting at 4 p.m. Monday and asked consumers to "conserve as much electricity as possible" to avoid any outages.
California and other parts of the West are sinking deeper into drought and that has sent fire danger sky high in many areas. In Arizona, a small plane crashed Saturday during a survey of a wildfire in rural Mohave County, killing both crew members.
The Beech C-90 aircraft was helping perform reconnaissance over the lightning-caused Cedar Basin Fire, near the tiny community of Wikieup northwest of Phoenix.
Officials on Sunday identified the victims as Air Tactical Group Supervisor Jeff Piechura, 62, a retired Tucson-area fire chief who was working for the Coronado National Forest, and Matthew Miller, 48, a pilot with Falcon Executive Aviation contracted by the U.S. Forest Service. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
Italy wins Euro 2020, beats England in penalty shootout
LONDON (AP) — Italian soccer's redemption story is complete. England's painful half-century wait for a major title goes on.
And it just had to be because of a penalty shootout.
Italy won the European Championship for the second time by beating England 3-2 on penalties on Sunday. The match finished 1-1 after extra time at Wembley Stadium, which was filled mostly with English fans hoping to celebrate the team's first international trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
"It's coming to Rome. It's coming to Rome," Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci shouted into a TV camera amid the celebrations, mocking the famous lyric "it's coming home" from the England team's anthem.
For England, it was utter dejection again — they know the feeling so well when it comes to penalties — after Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy's imposing goalkeeper, dived to his left and saved the decisive spot kick by 19-year-old Londoner Bukayo Saka, one of the youngest players in England's squad.
Gangs complicate Haiti effort to recover from assassination
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Gangs in Haiti have long been financed by powerful politicians and their allies — and many Haitians fear those backers may be losing control of the increasingly powerful armed groups who have driven thousands of people from their homes as they battle over territory, kill civilians and raid warehouses of food.
The escalation in gang violence threatens to complicate — and be aggravated by — political efforts to recover from last week's brazen slaying of President Jovenel Moïse. Haiti's government is in disarray; no parliament, no president, a dispute over who is prime minister, a weak police force. But the gangs seem more organized and powerful than ever.
While the violence has been centered in the capital of Port-au-Prince, it has affected life across Haiti, paralyzing the fragile economy, shuttering schools, overwhelming police and disrupting efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The country is transformed into a vast desert where wild animals engulf us," said the Haitian Conference of the Religious in a recent statement decrying the spike in violent crime. "We are refugees and exiles in our own country."
Gangs recently have stolen tens of thousands of bags of sugar, rice and flour as well as ransacking and burning homes in the capital. That has driven thousands of people to seek shelter at churches, outdoor fields and a large gymnasium, where the government and international donors struggle to feed them and find long-term housing.
Billionaire Richard Branson reaches space in his own ship
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) — Swashbuckling billionaire Richard Branson hurtled into space aboard his own winged rocket ship Sunday, bringing astro-tourism a step closer to reality and beating out his exceedingly richer rival Jeff Bezos.
The nearly 71-year-old Branson and five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space-tourism company reached an altitude of 53.5 miles (86 kilometers) over the New Mexico desert — enough to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and witness the curvature of the Earth — and then glided back home to a runway landing.
"The whole thing, it was just magical," a jubilant Branson said on his return aboard the gleaming white space plane, named Unity.
The brief, up-and-down flight — the space plane's portion took only about 15 minutes, or about as long as Alan Shepard's first U.S. spaceflight in 1961 — was a splashy and unabashedly commercial plug for Virgin Galactic, which plans to start taking paying customers on joyrides next year.
Branson became the first person to blast off in his own spaceship, beating Bezos, the richest person on the planet, by nine days. He also became the second septuagenarian to go into space. Astronaut John Glenn flew on the shuttle at age 77 in 1998.
Listen up: Biden speaks volumes in a whisper to make a point
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden was at a public transit station in Wisconsin, talking about repairing roads and bridges, when he shifted gears and began defending his plan to send money to parents for each minor child, payments some critics call a "giveaway."
Biden folded his arms, rested on the lectern, leaned into the mic and lowered his voice.
"Hey, guys, I think it's time to give ordinary people a tax break," he said, almost whispering as he addressed his critics. "The wealthy are doing fine."
It was the latest instance of Biden speaking volumes by whispering.
The White House and communications experts say Biden's whispering is just this veteran politician's old-school way of trying to make a connection while emphasizing a point.
Pfizer to discuss COVID-19 vaccine booster with US officials
WASHINGTON (AP) — Pfizer says it plans to meet with top U.S. health officials Monday to discuss the drugmaker's request for federal authorization of a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine as President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser acknowledged that "it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely" that booster shots will be needed.
The company said it was scheduled to have the meeting with the Food and Drug Administration and other officials Monday, days after Pfizer asserted that booster shots would be needed within 12 months.
Pfizer's Dr. Mikael Dolsten told The Associated Press last week 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 — evidence it believes supports the need for a booster.
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci didn't rule out the possibility but said it was too soon for the government to recommend another shot. He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA did the right thing last week by pushing back against Pfizer's assertion with their statement that they did not view booster shots as necessary "at this time."
Fauci said clinical studies and laboratory data have yet to fully bear out the need for a booster to the current two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson regimen.
Search in Florida collapse to take weeks; deaths reach 90
SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities searching for victims of a deadly collapse in Florida said Sunday they hope to conclude their painstaking work in the coming weeks as a team of first responders from Israel departed the site.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said 90 deaths have now been confirmed in last month's collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside, up from 86 a day before. Among them are 71 bodies that have been identified, and their families have been notified, she said. Some 31 people remain listed as missing.
The Miami-Dade Police Department said three young children were among those recently identified.
Crews continued to search the remaining pile of rubble, peeling layer after layer of debris in search of bodies. The unrelenting search has resulted in the recovery of over 14 million pounds (about 6.4 million kilograms) of concrete and debris, Levine Cava said.
Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said it was uncertain when recovery operations would be completed because it remains hard to know when the final body would be found.