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Iowa Headlines

Judge dies at courthouse in Waterloo

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa judge has died while at the courthouse where he served for more than two decades.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that paramedics were called Tuesday evening to the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo, where District Associate Judge Jeffrey Harris was found unresponsive in his office.
Capt. Mark Herbst of the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office said an autopsy is planned but the death appeared to be from a medical condition. Foul play is not suspected.
Harris graduated from the University of Iowa School of Law in 1977. He was appointed to the bench in 1997.

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Iowa Headlines

Parents whose baby died settle with South Dakota hospital

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The parents of an infant who died at a Sioux Falls hospital have agreed to settle their malpractice lawsuit against the health care provider.
The terms of the mediated settlement between Avera McKennan Hospital and the baby’s parents, Khayyam and Tejumade Gordon, were not disclosed, the Argus Leader reported.
The boy, identified in court records as K.G., was born on Jan. 1, 2018, at Avera Holy Family Hospital in Estherville, Iowa, and was released two days later. Tejumade Gordon brought the boy to the emergency room 11 days later because of swelling in his left groin area, according to the lawsuit.
An ultrasound showed a hernia, and Tejumade Gordon was instructed to call her baby’s primary care physician the next day to discuss surgery. But his symptoms got worse, so Gordon returned to the ER with him later that night. He was again released.
The mother returned to the emergency room the next morning because her son had stopped eating, had been vomiting, was lethargic and had a temperature of 102 degrees, according to the complaint. An X-ray showed that he had multiple loops in his small intestine.
The infant was flown to Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls and placed in the pediatric intensive care unit. Another X-ray revealed a blockage in his bowel.
The baby had two surgeries in two days, but his condition continued to worsen and sepsis developed. Brain scans showed he was suffering seizures. The Gordons put him on a do-not-resuscitate order on the advice of his medical providers, and he died at less than 3 weeks old.

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Iowa Headlines

Iowa unemployment rate up slightly to 3.9% in May

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s unemployment rate bumped up to 3.9% in May even as more Iowans worked at jobs, a state agency reported Wednesday.
Iowa Workforce Development said the rate was up slightly from the 3.8% unemployment rate in April.
The total number of Iowa residents working rose to 1.58 million in May and the state’s labor force participation rate increased to 66.4%. The number of unemployed residents also increased by an estimated 1,300 people.
Iowa was tied with Wisconsin for the nation’s 10th lowest unemployment rate.
The U.S. unemployment rate for May was 5.8%.

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Iowa Headlines

Iowa man charged with making pipe bomb found by young girl

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa man has been charged with making and placing a pipe bomb that was recently found by a young girl in a Des Moines suburb, but investigators do not believe he’s linked to a bomb that was left at a nearby polling place in March.
Agents looking into the explosive devices discovered in Ankeny, a fast-growing city of about 70,000, have found no connection between the two, said John Ham, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“At this point, there is nothing to indicate that the two are related,” Ham said.
On Friday, ATF agents arrested 46-year-old husband and father Chad Allen Williams after searching his home in the neighboring suburb of Johnston. Around a workbench in his garage, they found materials used to construct the bomb found in the middle of an Ankeny residential road June 9, including fireworks, a spool of fuse, a bottle of vehicle lubricant, zip ties, screws, nuts and metal wall anchors, according to charging documents.
Williams told investigators in an interview that he made the bomb by filling the vehicle additive bottle with BBs and metal items and taping it to two firework shells, according to an affidavit signed by an ATF special agent. He said he hid the bomb in a cardboard box to conceal the device, lit the fuse and dropped it in the middle of Waywin Drive in Ankeny in the dark late June 8 or early June 9, according to the affidavit.
Williams said he did not see or hear the device explode, and assumed he ran it over with the back wheels of his vehicle.
The next morning, an 8-year-old girl playing outside her home discovered the device and her mother called police. Agents with the Iowa Fire Marshal’s Office disarmed the explosive without setting it off.
Williams has been charged with making and possessing an unregistered explosive device and ordered jailed in Polk County pending a detention hearing next week. A judge ruled Tuesday that Williams qualified for a lawyer at public expense, even though records show he and his wife recently moved into a new home they purchased in April for $403,000. Federal public defender Joe Herrold, who is representing Williams, didn’t immediately return a message.
Residents within one block of where the device was found had reported hearing loud explosions on April 2, May 12 and June 7. The Ankeny Police Department said in a press release the investigation of Williams involved “the placement of several explosive devices” on Waywin Drive, but the criminal complaint against Williams does not make mention of any prior incidents or explain any potential motive.
Ankeny Police Chief Darius Potts said the other explosions were still under investigation.
Investigators are also still looking into who is responsible for the six- to eight-inch pipe bomb found March 2 outside an Ankeny polling place, about two miles away from where the bomb was found June 9.
A couple walking their dog found the device in grass outside the Lakeside Center, a city banquet hall that was serving as a polling place for a special election related to school funding. The discovery led to the temporary evacuation of the polling place, which reopened a few hours later. It remains unclear how long the device had been at the center and whether its placement was related to the election.
The state fire marshal’s office also disarmed that bomb, and said later that it could have caused major damage had it detonated. Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald has described that device as a metal piece with two end caps.

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North Dakota

Man thrown from stolen vehicle after fleeing from police

FORT RICE, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Highway Patrol said a man suffered serious injuries after attempting to flee from police in a stolen vehicle.
According to the patrol, the 37-year-old Cannon Ball man was driving a Buick LeSabre on Highway 1806 near Fort Rice at a high speed late Tuesday afternoon.
A Bureau of Indian Affairs officer attempted to stop the vehicle for speeding, but the man refused to pull over and a pursuit began.
The Highway Patrol said the stolen car entered a ditch during the chase and the man was thrown from the vehicle. He suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to a hospital.
The Highway Patrol is investigating.

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North Dakota

Failed candidate for governor leads effort to recall Burgum

BISMARCK (AP) — A frequent North Dakota political candidate is leading an effort to recall Republican Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford.
Michael Coachman, who last year received just 10% of the vote in the GOP primary for governor, is alleging “contempt of the voters” and negligence by Burgum.
Secretary of State Al Jaeger on Wednesday announced he approved for circulation a petition for the recall effort.
Burgum’s spokesman, Mike Nowatzki, said the governor’s second-term victory last year “speaks for itself.”
To hold a recall election, supporters of the idea need to collect more than 89,000 signatures, which is 25% of those who voted in the last general election.
Coachman is a retired U.S. Air Force veteran who lives in Larimore. He was previously an unsuccessful candidate for secretary of state in 2018 and for lieutenant governor in 2012 and 2016.

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Florida Sports

Top prospect Wander Franco homers in MLB debut for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Wander Franco, a 20-year-old infielder considered the best prospect in the minor leagues, homered for the Tampa Bay Rays in his major league debut, connecting for a three-run drive against Boston on Tuesday night.
Called up from Triple-A earlier in the day, Franco’s first big league hit was a home run to left field against Eduardo Rodriguez in the fifth inning that tied the game at 5.
The rookie raised his right arm as he neared the plate and lifted both arms while crossing the plate to a roaring crowd at Tropicana Field.
Franco drew a nice ovation when he went on the field to run pregame, and got a partial standing ovation when the Rays’ lineup was announced over the public-address system.
Franco batted second and played third base. The salute grew to full standing ovation with fans in the left-field stands chanting “Wander Franco” as he walked to the plate to bat in the first.
After Franco walked on a 3-2 pitch the first time up, he hit a long fly to center in the third.
“It’s still hard to believe,” Franco said through an interpreter before the game. “I feel ready. I’ve waited a long time for this moment. I feel really good about it.”
Franco hit .315 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 39 games this season at Triple-A Durham.
“I want to give 100 percent of what I’ve got and just continue with the work I’ve been doing in hopes that it turns me into a superstar,” Franco said.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said Franco will also get playing at time at shortstop and second base.
“I think he’s kind of shown everybody he’s ready,” Cash said. “Conquered every level. In fairness, forced our hand.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora compared the anticipation in the baseball world of Franco’s debut to that of Toronto star Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
“He can do a lot of stuff in the field,” said Cora, who saw Franco play during spring training. “Very physical for his age. He’s very strong. The future is bright for this kid.”
Franco is wearing No. 5 out of respect for longtime star Albert Pujols, a fellow countryman from the Dominican Republic.
Pujols, now slugging for the Dodgers, made his major league debut one month and one day after Franco’s birth. Franco is the first major leaguer born in 2001.
Franco was 5 for 17 with a long home run in seven spring training games for Tampa Bay this year.
To make room on the active roster, right-hander Drew Rasmussen was optioned to Durham on Monday. A spot on the 40-man was cleared with infielder-outfielder Wyatt Mathisen being designated for assignment Tuesday.
Tampa Bay had lost six straight entering Tuesday, dropping a half-game back of the first-place Red Sox in the AL East.
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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

Categories
International Headlines

UK won’t extend deadline for EU citizens to apply to stay

LONDON (AP) — The British government won’t extend the June 30 deadline for European Union citizens in the U.K. to apply for permanent residency or risk losing their right to live and work in the U.K.
Britain’s departure from the EU last year ended the automatic right of people from the bloc to settle in the U.K., and of Britons to live in the 27 EU nations. As part of the divorce, both sides agreed everyone would keep the residence rights they had before Brexit.
In Britain, that means citizens of the EU and several other European countries must apply online for confirmation of their “settled status” if they want to continue to work, study or receive social benefits.
The U.K. government says there have been 5.6 million applications since the program opened in March 2019, only a handful of which have been refused. That is far more than the government’s pre-Brexit estimate that about 3 million EU citizens lived in Britain. The number of EU residents in Britain who have not applied is unknown.
“I want to be clear — we will not be extending the deadline,” Immigration Minister Kevin Foster said Wednesday. “Put simply, extending the deadline is not a solution in itself to reaching those people who have not yet applied and we would just be in a position further down the line where we would be asked to extend again, creating even more uncertainty.”
The government says people who have applied by the end of June will be sent letters giving them 28 days to act. People will also be able to apply after the deadline if they had “reasonable grounds,” such as an illness that prevented them doing it sooner, Foster said.
EU citizens’ advocates worry that some people are still unaware they need to apply, while others are caught in a backlog of 400,000 applications that have yet to be processed.
They also want the British government to provide physical, rather than just digital, proof of residents’ status. Many fear a repeat of the traumatic experience of thousands of Caribbean immigrants who settled in the U.K. after World War II only to be denied jobs and medical care or even threatened with deportation decades later because they did not have paperwork to prove their right to live in Britain.
Alberto Costa, a lawmaker from Britain’s governing Conservative Party who has campaigned on behalf of EU citizens, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson had assured him that no eligible resident “will be denied their rights.”
“I will do everything in my power to ensure the government honors its promises to those citizens,” he said.
Other EU countries have made similar arrangements for the estimated 1 million U.K. citizens who reside there. In some, right to remain is being granted automatically while in others British citizens have to apply.
Free movement for people among EU member states is a core principle of the bloc, and Britain’s 2016 vote to leave was, in part, a reaction to high levels of immigration. More than 1 million EU citizens moved to the U.K after eight formerly communist eastern European countries joined the bloc in 2004.

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International Headlines

Nine pardoned pro-independence Catalan leaders walk free

MADRID (AP) — Nine Catalan separatists pardoned by the Spanish government walked out of prison on Wednesday to the cheers of supporters, leaving behind their lengthy terms for organizing a bid four years ago to make Catalonia an independent republic.
Spain’s Cabinet pardoned them Tuesday in the hope of starting what Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called much-needed reconciliation in the country’s restive northeastern region, although fervent local support for the pardoned separatists indicated the issue won’t go away anytime soon.
Former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras, five fellow Cabinet members, the former regional parliament’s speaker and two pro-independence activists walked free shortly after noon. They had spent between three-and-a-half and four years behind bars.
Spain’s official gazette on Wednesday published the government decree pardoning them.
The freed separatists were met by dozens of cheering, clapping supporters and relatives who had gathered in the rain. The men, released in a group, held up a small banner that said, in English, “Freedom Catalonia,” as well as a Catalan flag. They addressed their supporters in the Catalan language.
“We are aware that today, with our release from prison, nothing has ended,” Junqueras told supporters in a defiant speech. “Prison does not scare us, it reinforces our ideas.”
The Catalan regional president, Pere Aragonès, and the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Laura Borràs, also went to the prison for the separatists’ release.
The pardon canceled the remainder of prison terms ranging from nine to 13 years over sedition and misuse of public funds linked to the 2017 banned referendum and a short-lived Catalonia independence declaration. But the separatists won’t be able to hold public office until the end of their sentences and they could go back to prison if they break Spanish law again, the decree said.
Despite polls showing that many people in Spain were against the pardons, Sánchez has defended them, arguing that they are popular in Catalonia and that freeing the separatists will be a fresh start for relations between central and regional authorities.
The prime minister’s office announced Wednesday that Sánchez and Aragonès will meet in Madrid on June 29, exactly one week after the pardons, in their first encounter since the latter became Catalonia’s regional chief earlier this year.
The political divisions were on full display Wednesday at the nation’s parliament. Conservative opposition leader Pablo Casado called for the prime minister’s resignation for issuing the pardons without consulting lawmakers.
“You are applauding an unfortunate day for Spain’s democratic history, you are throwing the fate of the country into the hands of the separatists,” Casado said, accusing Sánchez of lying because the Socialist leader had vowed not to make concessions to separatists when he came to power.
Sánchez responded saying the decision to issue pardons was “brave, restorative and in favor of coexistence.”
Catalan separatist legislators called for the government to take a step further and urged it to follow the “Scottish way” — in reference to Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum that was authorized by the British government. Voters in Scotland elected to remain in the U.K.

Categories
International Headlines

North Korea’s foreign minister says no interest in US talks

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s foreign minister on Wednesday said his country is not even considering a resumption of stalled nuclear talks with the United States, dismissing hopes expressed by U.S. and South Korean officials for a quick resumption of negotiations.
The statement by Ri Son Gwon came a day after the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a message saying that U.S. expectations of talks would “plunge them into a greater disappointment.”
Hope for a restart of the nuclear talks flared briefly after Kim Jong Un instructed officials at a political conference last week to prepare for both dialogue and confrontation — though more for confrontation — with the Biden administration. U.S. National Security adviser Jake Sullivan called Kim’s comments an “interesting signal.”
Ri praised the statement issued by Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, which he said brushed off the “hasty judgment, conjecture and expectation of the U.S.”
“We are not considering even the possibility of any contact with the U.S., let alone having it, which would get us nowhere, only taking up precious time,” Ri said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
Nuclear negotiations between Washington and Seoul have been stalled since the collapse of a meeting between Kim Jong Un and former President Donald Trump in 2019 because of a disagreement over an easing of U.S.-led economic sanctions in exchange for partial denuclearization by North Korea.
While U.S. and South Korean officials expressed optimism over Kim’s comment that he expects both dialogue and confrontation, some experts say North Korea has been communicating the same message for months — that it has no intention to return to talks unless the United States offers meaningful concessions, likely in the form of eased sanctions.
Sung Kim, President Joe Biden’s special representative for North Korea, said Washington was prepared to meet the North “anywhere, anytime without preconditions” as he visited Seoul for discussions with South Korean and Japanese officials over the nuclear standoff. But he stressed that the Biden administration would continue to pressure North Korea with sanctions over its nuclear and missile ambitions.
The trilateral talks followed a four-day North Korean ruling party meeting last week at which Kim Jong Un called for stronger efforts to improve the nation’s economy, battered by pandemic border closures and facing worsening food shortages.