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Trump Organization CFO expected in court after indictment

New York prosecutors are expected to announce the first criminal indictment Thursday in a two-year investigation into Donald Trump's business practices, accusing his namesake company and its longtime finance chief of tax crimes related to fringe benefits for employees.

The charges against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, remained sealed Wednesday night but were to be unveiled ahead of an afternoon arraignment at a state court in Manhattan, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The people were not authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation and did so on condition of anonymity.

There was no indication Trump himself would be charged at this stage of the investigation, jointly pursued by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats.

Trump did not respond to reporters' shouted questions about the New York case as he visited Texas on Wednesday, but earlier in the week, the Republican had blasted the New York prosecutors as "rude, nasty, and totally biased" and said his company's actions were "standard practice throughout the U.S. business community, and in no way a crime."

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Devastated condo community looks to Biden visit for comfort

SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — As the search for survivors of a Florida condo collapse enters its second week, rescue crews and relatives of those still missing are scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden Thursday, in a visit many are hoping will provide some measure of comfort to a devastated community.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden plan to thank first responders and search and rescue teams. They also plan to meet with the families of victims, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

The president's visit comes a week after Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium building in Surfside, suddenly came crashing down, leaving a pancaked rubble.

Search crews going through the ruins found the remains of six people Wednesday, bringing the number of confirmed dead to 18. The number of residents unaccounted for stands at 145.

Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said he hopes Biden's visit will be a morale booster for the entire community.

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Gluing back the bits in a post-COVID myriad of human divides

PARIS (AP) — The musical notes waft through the apartment window, from the fast-moving fingers of the accordion player serenading restaurant diners below. 

For years, the wandering minstrel has been part of the decor in Montmartre, the bohemian Paris neighborhood where Edith Piaf warbled and Pablo Picasso kept a pet mouse in the disheveled studio where he revolutionized art.

The accordionist vanished during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in France, as if swept away. For 15 months, not a peep was heard from the buttons and keys of his squeezebox. Then, in late May, he suddenly reappeared.

And the crazy thing: In a world where so very little is as it used to be, his repertoire is — note-for-note — exactly as it was.

"Incredible," says Nathalie Sartor, hanging out of her Montmartre apartment window on a June evening, humming along to his wheezy medley of tunes. "He has been playing under our window for 10 years, and in 10 years, his music hasn't changed one iota."

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Xi takes firm line as China Communist Party marks centenary

BEIJING (AP) — China will not allow itself to be bullied and anyone who tries will face "broken heads and bloodshed in front of the iron Great Wall of the 1.4 billion Chinese people," President Xi Jinping said at a mass gathering Thursday to mark the centenary of the ruling Communist Party. 

Wearing a grey buttoned-up suit of the type worn by Mao Zedong, Xi spoke from the balcony of Tiananmen Gate, emphasizing the party's role in bringing China to global prominence and saying it would never be divided from the people. 

Xi, who is head of the party and leader of the world's largest armed forces also said China had restored order in Hong Kong following antigovernment protests in the semi-autonomous city in 2019 and reiterated Beijing's determination to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control. 

He received the biggest applause, however, when he described the party as the force that had restored China's dignity and turned it into the world's second largest economy since taking power amid civil war in 1949. 

"The Chinese people are a people with a strong sense of pride and self-confidence," Xi said. "We have never bullied, oppressed or enslaved the people of another nation, not in the past, during the present or in the future." 

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Bill Cosby freed from prison, his sex conviction overturned

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pennsylvania's highest court threw out Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction and released him from prison Wednesday in a stunning reversal of fortune for the comedian once known as "America's Dad," ruling that the prosecutor who brought the case was bound by his predecessor's agreement not to charge Cosby.

Cosby, 83, flashed the V-for-victory sign to a helicopter overhead as he trudged into his suburban Philadelphia home after serving nearly three years of a three- to 10-year sentence for drugging and violating Temple University sports administrator Andrea Constand in 2004.

The former "Cosby Show" star — the first celebrity tried and convicted in the #MeToo era — had no comment as he arrived, and just smiled and nodded later at a news conference outside, where his lawyer Jennifer Bonjean said: "We are thrilled to have Mr. Cosby home."

"He served three years of an unjust sentence and he did it with dignity and principle," she added.

In a statement, Constand and her lawyers called the ruling disappointing, and they, like many other advocates, expressed fear that it could discourage sexual assault victims from coming forward. "We urge all victims to have their voices heard," they added.

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Historic Northwest heat wave may have killed hundreds

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Hundreds of deaths in Canada, Oregon and Washington may have been caused by the historic heat wave that baked the Pacific Northwest and shattered all-time temperature records in usually temperate cities.

Oregon health officials said late Wednesday more than 60 deaths have been tied to the heat, with the state's largest county, Multnomah, blaming the weather for 45 deaths since the heat wave began Friday.

British Columbia's chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, said her office received reports of at least 486 "sudden and unexpected deaths" between Friday and 1 p.m. Wednesday. Normally, she said about 165 people would die in the province over a five-day period.

"While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather," LaPointe said in a statement.

Like Seattle, many homes in Vancouver, British Columbia, don't have air conditioning.

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Israel scrambles to curb jump in COVID infections

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israel, a world leader in coronavirus vaccinations, reported its highest daily infection rate in three months as it scrambles to contain the spread of the new delta variant.

Authorities are racing to vaccinate children and are considering tighter travel restrictions at the country's main airport.

The Health Ministry on Thursday reported 307 new cases on Wednesday, the highest in nearly three months and a rise from 293 newly-diagnosed cases a day earlier. The health ministry reportedly expects those numbers to jump in coming days, raising concerns that Israel is plunging back toward a crisis.

In recent months, Israel has reopened businesses, schools and event venues, lifting nearly all restrictions after it inoculated some 85% of the adult population. It's now seen as an early-warning system of sorts for other nations.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday announced a drive to inoculate thousands of children by mid-month. 

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Pandemic tourism: Thailand launches Phuket 'sandbox' plan

PHUKET, Thailand (AP) — Thailand embarked on an ambitious but risky plan Thursday that it hopes will breathe new life into a tourism industry devastated by the pandemic, opening the popular resort island of Phuket to fully vaccinated foreigners from lower-risk countries.

As the first flight arrived, airport fire trucks blasted their water canons to form an arch over the Etihad jet from Abu Dhabi as it taxied to its gate. 

Leaving the airport, Frenchman Bruno Souillard said he had been dreaming for a year of returning to Thailand and jumped at the opportunity.

"I am very, very happy," the 60-year-old tourist said.

The "Phuket sandbox" program comes as coronavirus infections are surging in Thailand, including a significant number of cases of the Delta variant, and many have questioned if it's too early to woo tourists back, and whether they'll come in significant numbers in any case due to the restrictions they'll still face. 

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Will one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine protect me?

LONDON (AP) — Will one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine protect me?

Yes, but not nearly as much as if you had both doses. Experts recommend getting fully vaccinated, especially with the emergence of worrisome coronavirus mutations such as the delta variant first identified in India.

The COVID-19 vaccines rolling out globally were developed to target the original version of the virus detected in late 2019. While they seem to work against newer versions, there's a concern the shots eventually might lose their effectiveness if variants evolve enough.

With the delta variant, a study by British researchers found people were well protected when they got both doses of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. But with only one dose, protection was significantly reduced.

To stem the spread of the delta variant in the United Kingdom, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently delayed the lifting of remaining restrictions to get more people the full two doses.

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Los Angeles considers stricter limits on homeless camping

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles city leaders are poised to pass sweeping restrictions Thursday on one of the nation's largest homeless populations, making it illegal to pitch tents on many sidewalks, beneath overpasses and near parks.

The measure before the City Council is billed as a humane approach to get people off streets and restore access to public spaces, and it wouldn't be enforced until someone has turned down an offer of shelter. It would severely limit the number of places where homeless encampments have been allowed to grow and become a common sight across the city. 

"There are right ways and wrong ways to disrupt the status quo and improve conditions on the street," Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, coauthor of the measure, said in a statement. "I am governed by a fundamental position: Before the unhoused are restricted from occupying public space, they should be ... offered a suitable alternative for housing."

Among other limits, the ordinance would ban sitting, lying, sleeping or storing personal property on sidewalks that block handicap access, near driveways and within 500 feet (152 meters) of schools, day care centers, libraries or parks. 

The measure, which was unexpectedly announced at Tuesday's meeting, would replace a more punitive anti-camping proposal. Police would only get involved if there's a crime, Ridley-Thomas said. 

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