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Explosions and fires have ripped through an ammunition depot in Russia-annexed Crimea in the second suspected Ukrainian attack on the peninsula in just over a week. The blasts forced the evacuation of more than 3,000 people. Russia is blaming the explosions on an “act of sabotage” without naming the perpetrators. Ukraine stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility. Last week's explosions destroyed nine Russian planes at another Crimean air base. Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has used it to launch attacks against the country in the war that began nearly six months ago. If Ukrainian forces were, in fact, behind the explosions, they would represent a significant escalation in the war.

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A lawyer says a French backpacker who had gone missing in Egypt a year ago has safely returned home to Paris. It’s not clear what happened over the past year to Yann Bourdon, whose family had speculated that he might have been detained by Egyptian security services. The graduate student at the Sorbonne, who vanished while on a year-long backpacking journey, declined to discuss his disappearance with the media and share details of his return to France. Sarah Sakouti, a legal counsel for the Geneva-based Committee for Justice that had pressed the Egyptian and French authorities to investigate the 27-year-old’s disappearance, said Bourdon flew from Cairo to Paris on Aug. 10.

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A Chinese navy vessel has arrived at a Beijing-built port in southern Sri Lanka after its port call was earlier delayed due to apparent security concerns raised by India. The Yuan Wang 5 sailed into the Hambantota port on Tuesday. Sri Lanka described the vessel as a “scientific research ship,” but there are fears in India that it could be used to surveil the region, with multiple media reports calling it a “dual-use spy ship.” For more than a decade, Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean along one of the busiest shipping routes has seen India and China vie for influence. Hambantota port was handed back to Beijing after it failed to generate enough revenue to pay back a Chinese construction loan.

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Germany’s main industry lobby group has warned that factories may have to throttle production or halt it completely because plunging water levels on the Rhine are making it harder to transport cargo on the river. Water levels on the Rhine at Emmerich near the Dutch border hit a record low Tuesday morning. It highlights the extreme lack of water caused by months of drought affecting much of Europe. The deputy head of the business lobby group BDI said that “the ongoing drought and the low water levels threaten the supply security of industry.” He warned that energy supplies could also be further strained as ships carrying coal and gasoline along the Rhine are affected.

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The United States and South Korea will begin their biggest combined military training in years next week in the face of an increasingly aggressive North Korea. The North has been ramping up weapons tests and threats of nuclear conflict with Seoul and Washington. South Korea’s military says the drills underscore Washington and Seoul’s commitment to restore large-scale training. The two countries canceled some of their regular drills and downsized others to computer simulations in recent years to create space for diplomacy with North Korea and because of COVID-19 concerns. The drills will almost surely draw an angry reaction from North Korea, which describes all allied training as invasion rehearsals.

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President Joe Biden is preparing to sign Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill. It's the “final piece” of the president's pared-down domestic agenda as he aims to boost his party’s standing with voters ahead of midterm elections. The legislation includes the biggest federal investment ever to fight climate change — some $375 billion over a decade. It also caps prescription drug costs at $2,000 out-of-pocket annually for Medicare recipients, and helps an estimated 13 million Americans pay for health care insurance by extending subsidies provided during the coronavirus pandemic. The measure is paid for in part by new taxes on large companies.

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China has announced more military drills around Taiwan as the self-governing island’s president met with another U.S. congressional delegation. The announcement threatened to renew tensions days after a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angered China. Pelosi was the highest-level member of the U.S. government to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and her trip prompted nearly two weeks of threatening military exercises by China. Beijing claims Taiwan as its own. In those drills, it fired missiles over the island and sent warplanes and navy ships across the Taiwan Strait's midline. American and Taiwanese officials have accused China of using Pelosi’s visit as a pretext for intimidating moves. China's defense ministry gave no details about the new drills.

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Oregon’s chief justice has fired all the members of the Public Defense Services Commission, frustrated that hundreds of defendants charged with crimes and who cannot afford an attorney have been unable to find public defenders to represent them. The unprecedented action comes as Oregon’s unique public defender system has come under such strain that it is at the breaking point. Criminal defendants in Oregon who have gone without legal representation due to a shortage of public defenders filed a lawsuit in May that alleges the state is violating their constitutional right to legal counsel and a speedy trial.

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Tracks used by the nation’s deadliest railroad will see added fencing to keep pedestrians away and safety improvements at crossings under a $25 million federal grant. Brightline and government officials announced the grant on Monday as the privately owned passenger line continues to be plagued by deaths along its tracks between Miami and West Palm Beach. Trains have killed three in the past two weeks, and 68 since the service began its first runs five years ago. It has the worst fatality rate among the nation’s more than 800 railroads, an ongoing Associated Press analysis of Federal Railroad Administration data shows.

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Japan has reported its economy grew at an annual rate of 2.2% in the last quarter as consumer spending rebounded with an easing of pandemic precautions. The of a nation’s products and services, expanded 0.5% from January-March, during which the economy had stayed flat, according to preliminary government estimates released Monday. Economists had forecast 0.6% on-quarter growth. The annual numbers show how the economy would have grown if the quarterly rate were to continue for a year. Private consumption jumped at an annual rate of 4.6%.

The impacts of climate change have been felt throughout the Northeastern U.S. with rising sea levels, heavy precipitation and storm surges causing flooding and coastal erosion. This summer has brought another extreme: a severe drought that has made lawns crispy and has farmers begging for steady rain. The heavy, short rainfall brought by the occasional thunderstorm tends to run off, not soak into the ground. Water supplies are low or dry. Many communities are restricting nonessential outdoor water use. Fire departments are combatting more brush fires and crops are growing poorly. Farmers in the region say this summer's harsh weather has made their jobs more challenging.

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In 2017, New Zealand passed a groundbreaking law granting personhood status to the Whanganui River. The law declares that the river is a living whole, from the mountains to the sea, incorporating all its physical and metaphysical elements. Five years after the law was passed, The Associated Press followed the 290-kilometer (180-mile) river upstream to find out what its status means to those whose lives are entwined with its waters. For many, its enhanced standing has come to reflect a wider rebirth of Māori culture and a chance to reverse generations of discrimination against Māori and degradation of the river.

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In 2017, New Zealand passed a groundbreaking law granting personhood status to the Whanganui River. The law declares that the river is a living whole, from the mountains to the sea, incorporating all its physical and metaphysical elements. Five years after the law was passed, The Associated Press followed the 290-kilometer (180-mile) river upstream to find out what its status means to those whose lives are entwined with its waters. For many, its enhanced standing has come to reflect a wider rebirth of Māori culture and a chance to reverse generations of discrimination against Māori and degradation of the river.

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A delegation of American lawmakers has arrived in Taiwan just 12 days after a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that angered China. China responded to Pelosi's Aug. 2 visit by sending missiles, warships and warplanes into the seas and air around Taiwan. The American Institute in Taiwan said the five-member delegation led by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts is in Taiwan on Sunday and Monday as part of a visit to Asia. They will meet senior leaders including President Tsai Ing-wen to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, trade, investment and other issues. China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory and objects to it having any official contact with foreign governments.

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An audit about what caused gridlock along Interstate 95 in Virginia during a January snowstorm says state government failed to carry out numerous lessons gleaned from a previous weather event. Friday's report from Virginia's Office of the Inspector General was critical of how the state transportation, police and emergency management agencies performed. The severe snowstorm led to logjams along a 40-mile (65-kilometer) stretch not far from the nation’s capital and to some motorists being stuck in vehicles overnight. The report says the mess could have been avoided if officials had taken preventive measures recommended after a 2018 snowstorm that blocked traffic on I-81 in southwest Virginia.

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Federal regulators who want to enforce new vessel speed rules to help protect rare whales can expect some pushback from ship operators. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the new proposed rules last month. They are designed to protect the last remaining North Atlantic right whales. The rules would expand seasonal slow zones off the East Coast, and require more vessels to comply. The agency is holding a series of informational meetings on the new rules, including one scheduled for Aug. 16. Some shipping and maritime groups said they are concerned that the rules could make their jobs more difficult or less safe.

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Shipping companies are preparing to halt the transport of goods on the Rhine as water levels in Germany’s biggest river near a critically low point. An ongoing drought affecting much of Europe has lowered the Rhine and prevented large ships with heavy loads from passing key waypoints. At one bottleneck on the Middle Rhine, an official gauge measured the water level at 37 centimeters (14.6 inches) on Saturday afternoon. While the depth of the shipping lane in Kaub was still about 150 centimeters (59 inches), experts say a reading below below 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) at the gauge mark is considered unpassable even for light or specially adapted cargo ships.

Thousands of U.K. train drivers have walked off the job in a 24-hour strike over jobs, pay and conditions, scuppering services across much of the country. The walkout is the latest in a spreading series of strikes by British workers seeking substantial raises to offset soaring prices for food and fuel. Weekend workers, soccer fans heading for games and families heading for the seaside are among those having to change their plans on Saturday. Railway staff held a series of one-day strikes in June and July and plan more walkouts next week. Postal workers, lawyers, British Telecom staff, dock workers and garbage collectors have all announced walkouts for later this month.

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Democrats have pushed their landmark climate and health care bill through Congress, handing an election-year victory to President Joe Biden. The House approved the bill over solid Republican opposition Friday, five days after the Senate did the same. The vote means a win for Biden that until late July seemed out of reach. The package is much smaller than Biden's original environment and social legislation that failed in Congress last year. But after long, bitter talks, Democrats agreed to a smaller but still substantive compromise. It includes Washington's biggest ever effort on climate change, pharmaceutical price curbs and tax boosts on big corporations, long-held party goals.

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With inflation raging near its highest level in four decades, the House gave final approval to President Joe Biden’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act. Its title raises a tantalizing question: Will the measure actually do what it says? Economic analyses suggest that the answer is likely no — not anytime soon, anyway. The legislation, which now heads to the White House for Biden's signature, won’t directly address some of the main drivers of surging prices — from gas and food to rents and restaurant meals. Still, over time, the bill could save money for some Americans by lessening the cost of certain prescription drugs for the elderly, extending health insurance subsidies and reducing energy prices.

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A Maine shipyard is preparing for a painstaking stem-to-stern restoration of a floating piece of presidential history. French & Webb was tapped for the restoration by the current owner of the Sequoia, a 1925 motor yacht that served eight presidents before being sold by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Todd French tells the Bangor Daily News that preparation has been going on behind the scenes. Physical work is expected to begin in the spring. The Sequoia went through a couple of owners before going up for sale following the stock market crash of 1929. President Herbert Hoover encouraged the Navy to buy the vessel, and began using it as a presidential yacht.

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A ship has docked in a Ukrainian Black Sea port to begin loading wheat for hungry people in Ethiopia. That would be the first food delivery to Africa under a U.N.-brokered plan to unblock grain trapped by Russia’s war on Ukraine and bring relief to some of the millions worldwide on the brink of starvation. For months, fighting and a Russian blockade meant grain produced in Ukraine, known as the world’s breadbasket, piled up in silos. In recent days, several ships carrying grain have left Ukrainian ports under the new deal — but those shipments were animal feed and went to previous buyers. The ship named Brave Commander will carry its wheat to Djibouti, where it will be unloaded and sent on to Ethiopia.

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The sprawling economic package passed by the U.S. Senate this week has a certain West Virginia flavor. There’s the focus on energy, including billions of dollars in incentives for clean energy but also renewed support for traditional fuel sources such as coal and natural gas. Those provisions were added as the price Democrats had to pay to win West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s all-important support. And the package includes big boosts for national parks, low-income people needing health care and coal miners with black lung disease, which are all measures likely to impact Manchin’s constituents back home. Manchin is a conservative Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He was a key vote needed to pass the package and send it to the House.

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Latvia and Estonia say they have left a Chinese-backed forum aimed at boosting relations with Eastern European countries. The move follows China's boosting of its relations with Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine is seen as a possible first step in a series of moves against countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. It also comes after Beijing launched economic and diplomatic retaliation against another Baltic state, Lithuania, after it expanded ties with the self-governing island democracy of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory and threatens to annex by force. China's increasingly assertive diplomacy and recent threatening military exercises near Taiwan have brought a sharp backlash from the U.S., the EU, Japan, Australia and others.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says the state will award another $240 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to expand high-speed internet access. That's on top of $408 million in grants that Georgia awarded to 49 providers in February to serve rural parts of the state. Counting previous federal aid, utilities and others will have gotten nearly $1 billion to bring high-speed connections to Georgians who lack them. February's grants were supposed to link up 132,000 of the remaining 482,000 Georgia homes and businesses without broadband. Applications for the new grants open Monday. Guidelines call for applicants to consider affordability as part of their plan.

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