Heart reaction probed as possible rare vaccine link in teens

Health authorities are trying to determine whether heart inflammation that can occur along with many types of infections could also be a rare side effect in teens and young adults after the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

An article on seven U.S. teen boys in several states, published online Friday in Pediatrics, is among the latest reports of heart inflammation discovered after COVID-19 vaccination, though a link to the vaccine has not been proven.

The boys, aged 14 to 19, received Pfizer shots in April or May and developed chest pain within a few days. Heart imaging tests showed a type of heart muscle inflammation called myocarditis.

None were critically ill. All were healthy enough to be sent home after two to six days in the hospital and are doing ''doing pretty well,'' said Dr. Preeti Jaggi, an Emory University infectious disease specialist who co-authored the report.

She said more follow-up is needed to determine how the seven fare but that it's likely the heart changes were temporary.

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US taps groups to pick asylum-seekers to allow into country

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Biden administration has quietly tasked six humanitarian groups with recommending which migrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. instead of being rapidly expelled from the country under federal pandemic-related powers that block people from seeking asylum.

The groups will determine who is most vulnerable in Mexico, and their criteria has not been made public. It comes as large numbers of people are crossing the southern border and as the government faces intensifying pressure to lift the public health powers instituted by former President Donald Trump and kept in place by President Joe Biden during the coronavirus pandemic.

Several members of the consortium spoke to The Associated Press about the criteria and provided details of the system that have not been previously reported. The government is aiming to admit to the country up to 250 asylum-seekers a day who are referred by the groups and is agreeing to that system only until July 31. By then, the consortium hopes the Biden administration will have lifted the public health rules, though the government has not committed to that.

So far, a total of nearly 800 asylum-seekers have been let in since May 3, and members of the consortium say there is already more demand than they can meet. 

The groups have not been publicly identified except for the International Rescue Committee, a global relief organization. The others are London-based Save the Children; two U.S.-based organizations, HIAS and Kids in Need of Defense; and two Mexico-based organizations, Asylum Access and the Institute for Women in Migration, according to two people with direct knowledge who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not intended for public release.

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Hong Kong vigil organizer arrested on Tiananmen anniversary

HONG KONG (AP) — Police arrested an organizer of Hong Kong's annual candlelight vigil remembering the deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown and warned people not to attend the banned event Friday as authorities mute China's last pro-democracy voices. 

In past years, tens of thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong's Victoria Park to honor those who died when China's military put down student-led pro-democracy protests on June 4, 1989. Hundreds, if not thousands were killed. 

China's ruling Communist Party has never allowed public events marking the military's attack on protesters and citizens, and security was increased in the Beijing square Friday morning, with police checking pedestrians' IDs and tour buses shuttling Chinese tourists as on any other day.

Authorities have squelched all discussion of the events on the mainland, where the few remaining activists and victims' advocates are put under increased police monitoring and taken away on involuntary "vacations" around the anniversary.

Chinese officials claim that the country's rapid economic development in the years since what they call the "political turmoil" of 1989 proves that decisions made at the time had been correct. 

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Jerusalem evictions that fueled Gaza war could still happen

JERUSALEM (AP) — A long-running campaign by Jewish settlers to evict dozens of Palestinian families in east Jerusalem is still underway, even after it fueled weeks of unrest and helped ignite an 11-day Gaza war.

An intervention by Israel's attorney general at the height of the unrest has put the most imminent evictions on hold. But rights groups say evictions could still proceed in the coming months as international attention wanes, potentially igniting another round of bloodshed.

The settlers have been waging a decades-long campaign to evict the families from densely populated Palestinian neighborhoods in the so-called Holy Basin just outside the walls of the Old City, in one of the most sensitive parts of east Jerusalem.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. Israel views the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The settlers are using a 1970 law that allows Jews to reclaim properties lost during the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation, a right denied to Palestinians who lost property in the same conflict, including Palestinian citizens of Israel.

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After 2-year battle, House panel to interview Trump counsel

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Judiciary Committee is poised to question former White House counsel Don McGahn behind closed doors on Friday, two years after House Democrats originally sought his testimony as part of investigations into former President Donald Trump. 

The long-awaited interview is the result of an agreement reached last month in federal court. House Democrats — then investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct the Justice Department's probes into his presidential campaign's ties to Russia — originally sued after McGahn defied an April 2019 subpoena on Trump's orders.

That month, the Justice Department released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the matter. In the report, Mueller pointedly did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice but also did not recommend prosecuting him, citing Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president. Mueller's report quoted extensively from interviews with McGahn, who described the Republican president's efforts to stifle the investigation.

While the Judiciary panel eventually won its fight for McGahn's testimony, the court agreement almost guarantees its members won't learn anything new. The two sides agreed that McGahn will be questioned only about information attributed to him in publicly available portions of Mueller's report.

Still, House Democrats kept the case going, even past Trump's presidency, and are moving forward with the interview to make an example of the former White House counsel. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the agreement for McGahn's testimony is a good-faith compromise that "satisfies our subpoena, protects the Committee's constitutional duty to conduct oversight in the future, and safeguards sensitive executive branch prerogatives."

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Lost limbs, rising anger as town is caught up in Tigray war

HAWZEN, Ethiopia (AP) — Shops remained shuttered, some government workers hadn't been paid and the town's main hospital was utterly laid to waste. But the Tigrayan fighters still claimed victory, swaggering through the streets of Hawzen with their guns.

It wouldn't last long. 

Hawzen, a rural town in the ethnic Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, is a microcosm of the challenge facing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — and a warning that the war here is unlikely to end anytime soon. When The Associated Press arrived in May, Tigrayan fighters had recently retaken Hawzen from Ethiopian government troops, laying claim once again to land that has switched control multiple times since the war began in November. 

To the Ethiopian government, the fighters are terrorists who have defied the authority of Abiy in the federal capital, Addis Ababa. But almost everyone the AP spoke with in Hawzen supported them and the Tigray People's Liberation Front, or TPLF, the party of the region's ousted and now-fugitive leaders. 

"The people elected us, so we are not terrorists," said fighter Nurhussein Abdulmajid, standing confidently in the middle of the road with a gun on his shoulder, as a crowd listened. "He (Abiy)'s the one who is the terrorist. A terrorist is someone who massacres people."

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Protests as Austria grapples with violence against women

VIENNA (AP) — The 35-year-old woman was working at a tobacco shop in Vienna when authorities say her ex-boyfriend doused her in gasoline and set her ablaze in March. In April, another woman the same age was found shot to death in her home in the Austrian capital, also reportedly by her ex-partner. 

They were the sixth and ninth women to be killed in Austria this year, and five more have followed in the weeks since. That has brought this year's total so far to 14 slain women, making the Alpine nation one of the few European Union countries where the number of women killed is higher than the number of men.

The recent high-profile cases have led to widespread protests, demands for government intervention and condemnations from Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and President Alexander van der Bellen.

"Too little is being done to protect women from violence," van der Bellen said recently after meeting with representatives of women's shelters and violence prevention organizations.

Experts say a variety of factors have caused the long-standing problem. Those include a view of women as subservient by some in Austria's conservative Catholic — and more recently Muslim — populations. They also blame the normalization of sexist language by the far-right Freedom Party, which is now in opposition but has been part of two national coalition governments in Austria. 

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Jobs data to show whether worker shortages still slow hiring

WASHINGTON (AP) — With U.S. businesses scrambling to fill millions of jobs as the economy reopens much faster than many had expected, Friday's jobs report for May will help show whether their efforts are succeeding. 

The fading of the pandemic has released substantial pent-up demand among consumers to eat out, travel, shop, attend public events and visit with friends and relatives. But it has also produced a disconnect between companies and the unemployed. Businesses are rushing to add workers immediately. Yet many of the unemployed are either seeking better jobs than they had before the pandemic, still lack affordable child care, worry about contracting COVID-19 or have decided to retire early.

That disconnect resulted in a sharp slowdown in hiring in April, when employers added far fewer jobs than economists had forecast and many fewer than had been hired in March. 

Analysts have predicted an improvement for May, with 650,000 jobs added, compared with April's surprisingly tepid gain of 266,000. The unemployment rate is projected to fall from 6.1 percent to 5.9 percent, according to data provider FactSet. If the forecasts for May are accurate, that would still be a slower hiring pace than the 1 million jobs a month that many economists had envisioned in early spring. The economy still has 8.2 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic struck. 

Either way, the economy is recovering at a healthy pace, and companies are still seeking workers: Job postings in late May were nearly 26 percent above pre-pandemic levels, according to the employment website Indeed. Government data shows that posted jobs have reached their highest level on record dating back to 2000. 

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Oregon fall firestorms cautionary tale in worsening drought

OTIS, Ore. (AP) — Wildfire smoke was thick when Tye and Melynda Small went to bed on Labor Day, but they weren't too concerned. After all, they live in a part of Oregon where ferns grow from tree trunks and rainfall averages more than six feet (1.8 meters) a year.

But just after midnight, a neighbor awakened them as towering flames, pushed by gusting winds, bore down. The Smalls and their four children fled, leaving behind 26 pet chickens, two goldfish and a duck named Gerard as wind whipped the blaze into a fiery tornado and trees exploded around them. 

When it was over, they were left homeless by a peril they had never imagined. Only two houses on their street in Otis survived a fire they expected to be tamped out long before it reached their door less than six miles (9.6 kilometers) from the Pacific.

"Nobody ever thought that on the Oregon coast we would have a fire like this. Here ... it rains. It rains three-quarters of the year," Melynda Small said. "It was one of the scariest things I've ever gone through." 

The fire that leveled the rural community of 3,500 people was part of an Oregon wildfire season last fall that destroyed more than 4,000 homes, killed nine people and raged through 1.1 million acres. Almost all the damage occurred over a hellish 72 hours that stretched firefighters to their breaking point. 

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Reports: Facebook to end rule exemptions for politicians

Facebook plans to end a contentious policy championed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg that exempted politicians from certain moderation rules on its site, according to several news reports.

The company's rationale for that policy held that the speech of political leaders is inherently newsworthy and in the public interest even if it is offensive, bullying or otherwise controversial. The social media giant is currently mulling over what to do with the account of former President Donald Trump, which it "indefinitely" suspended Jan. 6, leaving it in Facebook limbo with its owners unable to post.

The change in policy was first reported by the tech site The Verge and later confirmed by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Facebook has had a general "newsworthiness exemption" since 2016. But it garnered attention in 2019 when Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs and communications, announced that speech from politicians will be treated as "newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard."

The newsworthiness exemption, he explained in a blog post at the time, meant that if "someone makes a statement or shares a post which breaks our community standards we will still allow it on our platform if we believe the public interest in seeing it outweighs the risk of harm." 

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