Rescuers stay hopeful about finding more survivors in rubble

SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — Rescue workers digging feverishly for a fifth day Monday stressed that they could still find survivors in the rubble of a collapsed Florida condo building, a hope family members clung to even though no one has been pulled out alive since the first day the structure fell.

The death toll rose by just four people Sunday, to a total of nine confirmed dead. But more than 150 people are still missing in Surfside.

Families of the missing rode buses to a site nearby from which they could watch teams at work Sunday: firefighters, sniffer dogs and search experts employing radar and sonar devices.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said at a Sunday evening news conference that she had met with some of the rescue workers and was able to "hear the hope that they have."

"We obviously have some realism that we're dealing with. But ... as long as the experts that we trust are telling me they have hope to find people who might have been able to survive, then we have to make sure that we hold on to that hope," she said.

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US airstrikes target Iran-backed militias in Syria, Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military, under the direction of President Joe Biden, has conducted airstrikes against what it said were "facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups" near the border between Iraq and Syria.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the militias were using the facilities to launch unmanned aerial vehicle attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq.

Kirby said the U.S. military targeted three operational and weapons storage facilities Sunday — two in Syria and one in Iraq.

He described the airstrikes as "defensive," saying they were launched in response to the attacks by militias.

"The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation — but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message," Kirby said.

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Uprooted again: Venezuela migrants cross US border in droves

DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — Marianela Rojas huddles in prayer with her fellow migrants, a tearful respite after trudging across a slow-flowing stretch of the Rio Grande and nearly collapsing onto someone's backyard lawn, where, seconds before, she stepped on American soil for the first time.

"I won't say it again," interrupts a U.S. Border Patrol agent, giving orders in Spanish for Rojas and a dozen others to get into an idling detention van. "Only passports and money in your hands. Everything else — earrings, chains, rings, watches — in your backpacks. Hats and shoelaces too."

It's a frequent scene across the U.S.-Mexico border at a time of swelling migration. But these aren't farmers and low-wage workers from Mexico or Central America, who make up the bulk of those crossing. They're bankers, doctors and engineers from Venezuela, and they're arriving in record numbers as they flee turmoil in the country with the world's largest oil reserves and pandemic-induced pain across South America.

Two days after Rojas crossed, she left detention and rushed to catch a bus out of the Texas town of Del Rio. Between phone calls to loved ones who didn't know where she was, the 54-year-old recounted fleeing hardship in Venezuela a few years ago, leaving a paid-off home and once-solid career as an elementary school teacher for a fresh start in Ecuador.

But when the little work she found cleaning houses dried up, she decided to uproot again — this time without her children.

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UN rights chief: Reparations needed for people facing racism

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. human rights chief, in a landmark report launched after the killing of George Floyd in the United States, is urging countries worldwide to do more to help end discrimination, violence and systemic racism against people of African descent and "make amends" to them — including through reparations. 

The report from Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, offers a sweeping look at the roots of centuries of mistreatment faced by Africans and people of African descent, notably from the transatlantic slave trade. It seeks a "transformative" approach to address its continued impact today. 

The report, a year in the making, hopes to build on momentum around the recent, intensified scrutiny worldwide about the blight of racism and its impact on people of African descent as epitomized by the high-profile killings of unarmed Black people in the United States and elsewhere.

"There is today a momentous opportunity to achieve a turning point for racial equality and justice," the report said.

The report aims to speed up action by countries to end racial injustice; end impunity for rights violations by police; ensure that people of African descent and those who speak out against racism are heard; and face up to past wrongs through accountability and redress.

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Senators to watch as Dems debate changing filibuster rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — Looming over Senate Democrats this year is a decision that could fundamentally change Congress: whether to change or eliminate the rules of the filibuster to enact President Joe Biden's agenda. 

Liberal advocates have pushed hard for the change, urging the Senate to modify or eliminate rules that now require a vote by 60 of the 100 senators to advance most bills. Many Democrats are on board, arguing that Republicans are determined to block almost every one of their priorities in the 50-50 Senate even though Democrats hold Congress and the presidency. But others in the party are wary, fearing it will end bipartisanship in the Senate.

Yet most of the skeptical Democratic senators say they are ultimately open to some changes to the rules if Republicans won't negotiate on their major policy goals, particularly legislation — filibustered by Republicans just last week — that would overhaul elections and make it easier to vote. 

The two biggest Democratic obstacles to filibuster changes, for now, are Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Both have reiterated their opposition in recent weeks. A simple majority can change the Senate's rules, but getting all 50 Democrats to agree could prove difficult.

Changes won't come easily, and it could be months or more before Democrats decide what to do. 

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Australia battles several clusters in new pandemic phase

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia was battling to contain several COVID-19 clusters around the country on Monday in what some experts have described as the nation's most dangerous stage of the pandemic since the earliest days.

Sydney in the east and Darwin in the north were locked down on Monday. Perth in the west made masks compulsory for three days and warned a lockdown could follow after a resident tested positive after visiting Sydney more than a week ago.

Brisbane and Canberra have or will soon make wearing masks compulsory. South Australia state announced new statewide restrictions from Tuesday. 

Australia has been relatively successful in containing clusters throughout the pandemic, registering fewer than 31,000 cases since the pandemic began. But the new clusters have highlighted the nation's slow vaccine rollout with only 5% of the population fully vaccinated.

Most of the new cases stem from a Sydney limousine driver who tested positive on June 16 to the delta variant, which is thought to be more contagious. He was not vaccinated, reportedly did not wear a mask and is suspected to have been infected while transporting a foreign air crew from Sydney Airport.

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EXPLAINER: Why are Palestinians protesting against Abbas?

JERUSALEM (AP) — Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets in recent days to protest against President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, whose security forces and supporters have violently dispersed them.

The demonstrations were sparked by the death of an outspoken critic of the PA in security forces' custody last week, but the grievances run much deeper. Abbas' popularity plunged after he called off the first elections in 15 years in April and was sidelined by the Gaza war in May. The PA has long been seen as rife with corruption and intolerant of dissent.

The Palestinian Authority is one of the last manifestations of the peace process, which has been dormant for more than a decade, and is seen by Israel, the United States and the European Union as a key partner in promoting stability.

Here's a look at the PA and the protests against it.

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AP PHOTOS: Hong Kong family leaves a changing city for UK

HONG KONG (AP) — After two years of turmoil and change, Hong Kong was not the same for Mike Hui. One month ago, the 36-year-old photographer pulled up roots and moved with his wife and young daughter to the U.K. to try starting anew.

"I felt that I couldn't stay anymore, and that I couldn't let my next generation grow up in a society like this," he said.

His departure came after anti-government protests divided the city in 2019 and a subsequent crackdown that has rounded up democracy activists and stifled dissent.

Until early April, Hui was a photojournalist for the Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper that shut down last week following the arrest of five top editors and executives and the freezing of its assets under a national security law that China's ruling Communist Party imposed on Hong Kong as part of the crackdown.

He called the closing of the paper, where he worked for seven years, heart-aching.

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Unprecedented: Northwest heat wave builds, records fall

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Intense. Prolonged. Record-breaking. Unprecedented. Abnormal. Dangerous.

That's how the National Weather Service described the historic heat wave hitting the Pacific Northwest, pushing daytime temperatures into the triple digits, disrupting Olympic qualifying events and breaking all-time high temperature records in places unaccustomed to such extreme heat.

Portland, Oregon, reached 112 degrees Fahrenheit (44.4 Celsius) Sunday, breaking the all-time temperature record of 108 F (42.2C), which was set just a day earlier.

In Eugene, Oregon, the U.S. track and field trials were halted Sunday afternoon and fans were asked to evacuate the stadium due to extreme heat. The National Weather Service said it hit 110 F (43.3 C) in Eugene, breaking the all-time record of 108 F (42.2 C).

Oregon's Capital city, Salem, also recorded the highest temperature in its history on Sunday: 112 F (44.4 C), breaking the old mark by 4 degrees.

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Offices after COVID: Wider hallways, fewer desks

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The coronavirus already changed the way we work. Now it's changing the physical space, too.

Many companies are making adjustments to their offices to help employees feel safer as they return to in-person work, like improving air circulation systems or moving desks further apart. Others are ditching desks and building more conference rooms to accommodate employees who still work remotely but come in for meetings.

Architects and designers say this is a time of experimentation and reflection for employers. Steelcase, an office furniture company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says its research indicates half of global companies plan major redesigns to their office space this year.

"This year caused you to think, maybe even more fundamentally than you ever have before, 'Hey, why do we go to an office?'" said Natalie Engels, a San Jose, California-based design principal at Gensler, an architecture firm.

Not every company is making changes, and Engels stresses that they don't have to. She tells clients to remember what worked well — and what didn't — before the pandemic.

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