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AP Top News at 11:00 am EST – Las Vegas Sun

November 20, 2021
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Published Friday, Nov. 19, 2021 | 9 p.m.
Updated 7 hours, 15 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — The buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine has left U.S. officials perplexed, muddying the Biden administration’s response. Some Republican lawmakers have been pressing the U.S. to step up military support for Ukraine. But that risks turning what may be mere muscle-flexing by Russian President Vladimir Putin into a full-blown confrontation that only adds to the peril for Ukraine and could trigger an energy crisis in Europe. But a weak U.S. response carries its own risks. It could embolden Putin to take more aggressive steps against Ukraine as fears grow he could try to seize more of its territory.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Deep into the grueling negotiations over President Joe Biden’s big domestic policy package, when it seemed that bickering among Democrats would never stop, Speaker Nancy Pelosi let everyone in on a little secret. “This,” she confided quite publicly to reporters some time ago, “is the fun part.” The grind of legislating, treacherous for some, a sport for others, and often unsuccessful in the slow-moving Congress, is where Pelosi resides, exerting relentless drive to advance Biden’s roughly $2 trillion package Friday through the House, sending it now to the Senate. The House vote, with just one Democrat opposed, boosts momentum for Biden’s signature legislation after months of start-stop negotiations and provides a down payment on the party’s campaign promise to deliver competency in government and put it to work for Americans.
BRUSSELS (AP) — This was supposed to be the Christmas in Europe where family and friends could once again embrace holiday festivities and one another. Instead, the continent is the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic as cases soar to record levels in many countries. With infections spiking again despite nearly two years of restrictions, the health crisis increasingly is pitting citizen against citizen — the vaccinated against the unvaccinated. Governments desperate to shield overburdened healthcare systems are imposing rules that limit choices for the unvaccinated in the hope that doing so will drive up rates of vaccinations. Austria on Friday went a step further, making vaccinations mandatory as of Feb.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Police opened fire on protesters in rioting that erupted in downtown Rotterdam around a demonstration against COVID-19 restrictions late Friday night. The Dutch city’s mayor called it “an orgy of violence.” Police said that two rioters were hospitalized after being hit by bullets and investigations were underway to establish if they were shot by police. The condition of the injured rioters was not disclosed. Officers arrested 51 people, about half of them minors, police said Saturday afternoon. One police officer was hospitalized with a leg injury sustained in the rioting, another was treated by ambulance staff and “countless” others suffered minor injuries.
BEIJING (AP) — An employee of Chinese state TV has posted photos of missing tennis star Peng Shuai online in a new effort to dispel concern about her disappearance after she accused a senior leader of sexual assault. The photos appeared Friday on Twitter, which cannot be seen by most internet users in China. The state TV employee, Shen Shiwei, wrote they were on Peng’s account on the WeChat message service with the comment, “Happy Weekend.” The ruling Communist Party faces mounting appeals from tennis stars and the sport’s professional tour to prove Peng, a three-time Olympian and former No. 1-ranked women’s doubles player, is safe and let her speak freely.
Some of the world’s most famous tennis players, distraught by the disappearance of colleague Peng Shuai, are challenging China’s Communist Party to get answers. So far it’s a standoff with little visible impact as tennis players like Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic — joined by tennis governing bodies, human rights groups, retired players, and several athletes’ lobbies — try to turn their profiles into power. Peng disappeared after making allegations of sexual assault over two weeks ago against former vice premier Zhang Gaoli, who was a member of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee and a lieutenant of General Secretary Xi Jinping.
NEW YORK (AP) — David Cohen has been yearning for a return to the days when business boomed at his family’s souvenir shop in Times Square. While tourists have begun returning, foot traffic into Grand Slam souvenirs is still not what it was before the coronavirus pandemic, when hordes of global visitors crowded under the canopy of electric billboards just outside his door. But the return of foreign tourists to a place popularly called the crossroads of the world may help hasten recovery for businesses like his — many of them mom-and-pop shops — that collectively employ thousands of people and serve as one of New York City’s most important economic engines.
KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges Friday after testifying he acted in self-defense in the deadly Kenosha shootings that became a flashpoint in the debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice in the U.S. Rittenhouse, 18, began to choke up, fell forward toward the defense table and then hugged one of his attorneys as he heard a court clerk recite “not guilty” five times. A sheriff’s deputy whisked him out a back door. “He wants to get on with his life,” defense attorney Mark Richards said. “He has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu left office nearly four years ago, winning national accolades for removing landmark Confederate monuments after jump-starting the recovery from Hurricane Katrina’s catastrophic levee failures and flooding. Once considered a possible presidential contender, Landrieu is back in a big way. He was tapped this week by President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat, to coordinate more than $1 trillion in national infrastructure spending. His job, Biden said Thursday: “Making sure that everything gets out and it goes where it’s supposed to go.” “He’s the perfect person for this job,” said Walter Isaacson, the New Orleans-born historian, journalist and author who played a role in Katrina recovery efforts.
ZRENJANIN, Serbia (AP) — They are shivering in barracks without heat, going hungry and have no money. They say their passports have been taken by their Chinese employer and that they are now stuck in a grim plainland in Serbia with no help from local authorities. These are the Vietnamese workers who are helping build the first Chinese car tire factory in Europe. The Associated Press visited the construction site in northern Serbia where some 500 of the workers are living in harsh conditions as China’s Shandong Linglong Tire Co. sets up the huge facility. The project, which Serbian and Chinese officials tout as a display of the “strategic partnership” between the two countries, has already faced scrutiny from environmentalists over potentially dangerous pollution from tire production.
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