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AP News in Brief at 6:04 a.m. EDT

Ukrainians make desperate escape from floods after dam collapse as shelling echoes overhead KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — As shelling from Russia’s war on Ukraine echoed overhead, dozens of evacuees on an island in the Dnieper River scurried onto the tops

Ukrainians make desperate escape from floods after dam collapse as shelling echoes overhead

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — As shelling from Russia’s war on Ukraine echoed overhead, dozens of evacuees on an island in the Dnieper River scurried onto the tops of military trucks or into rafts to flee rising floodwaters caused by a dam breach upstream.

The unnerving bark of dogs left behind further soured the mood of those ferried to safety. A woman in one raft clutched the head of her despondent daughter. A stalled military truck stuck in swelling waters raised the panic level as Red Cross teams tried to manage an orderly evacuation.

Nobody knew just how high the waters rushing through a gaping hole in the Kakhovka dam would rise, or whether people or pets would escape alive.

The scrambled evacuation by boat and military truck from an island neighborhood off the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson downstream on Tuesday testified to the latest human chaos caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities accused Russian forces of purposely destroying the dam. Russian authorities blamed recent Ukrainian military strikes.


White woman who fatally shot Black neighbor is arrested in Florida

OCALA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida woman accused of fatally shooting her neighbor last week in the violent culmination of what the sheriff described as a 2 1/2-year feud was arrested Tuesday, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.

Susan Louise Lorincz, 58, who is white, was arrested on charges of manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault in the death of Ajike Owens, a Black mother of four, Sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement.

Authorities came under pressure Tuesday to arrest and charge the white woman who fired through her front her door and killed a Black neighbor in a case that has put Florida’s divisive stand your ground law back into the spotlight.

Woods said that this was not a stand your ground case but “simply a killing.”

When interviewed, Lorincz claimed that she acted in self-defense and that Owens had been trying to break down her door prior to her discharging her firearm. Lorincz also claimed that Owens had come after her in the past and had previously attacked her. Through their investigation – including obtaining the statements of eyewitnesses – detectives were able to establish that Lorincz’s actions were not justifiable under Florida law, a statement from the sheriff's office said.


Pope Francis to undergo intestinal surgery under general anesthesia

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis went to the hospital Wednesday to undergo abdominal surgery to treat an intestinal blockage, two years after he had 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his colon removed because of a narrowing of the large intestine.

The Vatican said Francis, 86, would be put under general anesthesia for the procedure Wednesday afternoon and would be hospitalized at Rome's Gemelli hospital for several days.

Francis' Fiat 500 car pulled out of the Vatican shortly after 11 a.m. with an escort, and arrived at the Gemelli some 20 minutes later.

The pope is undergoing what the Vatican said was a “laparotomy and abdominal wall plastic surgery with prosthesis” to treat a “recurrent, painful and worsening” constriction of the intestine.

A laparotomy is open abdominal surgery. It can help a surgeon both diagnose and treat issues. The statement said Francis was suffering from a blocked laparocele, which is a hernia that formed over a previous scar.


Why is it so smoky outside? Canada wildfires lead to air-quality alerts in northeastern US

Intense Canadian wildfires are blanketing the northeastern U.S. in a dystopian haze, turning the air acrid, the sky yellowish gray and prompting warnings for vulnerable populations to stay inside.

The effects of hundreds of wildfires burning across the western provinces to Quebec could be felt as far away as New York City and New England, blotting out skylines and irritating throats.

U.S. authorities issued air quality alerts. Hazy conditions and smoke from the wildfires were reported across the Great Lakes region from Cleveland to Buffalo.

A smoky haze that hung over New York City much of the day Tuesday thickened in the late afternoon, obscuring views of New Jersey across the Hudson River and making the setting sun look like a reddish orb. In the Philadelphia area, dusk brought more of a lavender haze.

Sal and Lilly Murphy, of Brooklyn, likened the burning scent to a campfire. They said they could even smell the smoke indoors, in a Manhattan restaurant, then walked outside and saw a sky that looked like it was about to storm — but was rainless. Lilly wore a mask for protection.


House conservatives block GOP bills, voice frustration in response to last week's debt ceiling vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — House conservatives staged a mini-revolt Tuesday in retaliation for Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s leadership on last week’s vote to raise the debt ceiling, the right wing banding together to block progress on a mixture of bills and vent their frustration.

Led by outspoken members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of 11 Republicans broke with their party on an otherwise routine procedural vote that threw the day’s schedule — and the rest of the week — into disarray. It’s the first such procedural rule vote to fail in nearly two decades.

The group is among some of the same conservative Republicans who tried to stop the debt ceiling bill from advancing last week and who then threatened to try to oust McCarthy after passage of the debt ceiling package that President Joe Biden signed into law. Short of taking that step, they have demanded a meeting with McCarthy, leaving it unclear how the standoff will be resolved.

“We’re frustrated with the way this place is operating,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., one of the more outspoken members of the group. “We’re not going to live in the era of the imperial speaker anymore.”

At issue is not just a gas stove bill and others that are now stalled as the conservatives wage their protest, but the political standing of the House Republican majority. Is it just a one-day spat that allows members to make a point or a more lasting fracture?


2 dead in shooting after high school graduation ceremony in Virginia capital

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Seven people were shot, two fatally, when gunfire rang out Tuesday outside a downtown theater in Richmond, Virginia, where a high school graduation ceremony had just ended, causing hundreds of attendees to flee in panic, weep and clutch their children, authorities and witnesses said.

A 19-year-old suspect tried to escape on foot but was arrested and will be charged with two counts of second-degree murder, Interim Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards said during a nighttime news conference at which he confirmed the two fatalities.

Five others were wounded by the gunfire outside the state capital's city-owned Altria Theater, which is across the street from a large, grassy park and in the middle of the Virginia Commonwealth University campus. At least 12 others were injured or treated for anxiety due to the mayhem, according to police.

“As they heard the gunfire, it was obviously chaos," Edwards said. "We had hundreds of people in Monroe Park, so people scattered. It was very chaotic at the scene.”

Edwards said one of the people who was killed was an 18-year-old male student who had just graduated, while the other was a 36-year-old man who was there for the graduation. Their names were not released, but police believe the suspect, who was not immediately identified, knew at least one of the victims.


The pause on student loan payments is ending. Can borrowers find room in their budgets?

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a good month, Celina Chanthanouvong has about $200 left after rent, groceries and car insurance. That doesn’t factor in her student loans, which have been on hold since the start of the pandemic and are estimated to cost $300 a month. The pause in repayment has been a lifeline keeping the 25-year-old afloat.

“I don’t even know where I would begin to budget that money,” said Chanthanouvong, who works in marketing in San Francisco.

Now, after more than three years, the lifeline is being pulled away.

More than 40 million Americans will be on the hook for federal student loan payments starting in late August under the terms of a debt ceiling deal approved by Congress last week. The Biden administration has been targeting that timeline for months, but the deal ends any hope of a further extension of the pause, which has been prolonged while the Supreme Court decides the president’s debt cancellation.

Without cancellation, the Education Department predicts borrowers will fall behind on their loans at historic rates. Among the most vulnerable are those who finished college during the pandemic. Millions have never had to make a loan payment, and their bills will soon come amid soaring inflation and forecasts of economic recession.


Protesters brawl as Southern California school district decides whether to recognize Pride Month

GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) — Protesters briefly scuffled and punches flew Tuesday as a Southern California school district decided whether to recognize June as Pride month.

Several hundred people gathered in the parking lot of the Glendale Unified School District headquarters, split between those who support or oppose exposing youngsters to LGBTQ+ issues in schools.

Some opponents wore T-shirts emblazoned with: “Leave our kids alone.”

It was the same slogan used by some demonstrators last Friday outside Saticoy Elementary School in Los Angeles to protest a planned Pride assembly.

As in Glendale, police officers had to separate groups of protesters and counterprotesters who came to blows.


Oakland Athletics move to Las Vegas in flux as Nevada Legislature adjourns

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — High-profile proposals to help build a stadium for the Oakland Athletics and lure major film makers to Las Vegas through billions of dollars in tax credits are in flux after Nevada lawmakers adjourned their four-month legislative session early Tuesday.

Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo called a special legislative session Tuesday evening in the midst of disagreements between him and the Democratic-controlled Legislature over a major budget bill. The agenda did not include Oakland Athletics funding, but that could still technically be heard in another special legislative session.

Lawmakers failed to pass the budget bill that included over $1 billion to fund capital improvement projects that fund state public works and construction. The measure faltered in the Senate as they ran out of time for a second vote after party disagreements lasted Monday night until the midnight deadline.

Now, the prospects are murky for a bill that has revived the national debate over public funding for private sports stadiums. The measure could add professional baseball to Las Vegas’ growing sports scene, but economists have warned that such a project would bring minimal benefits for a hefty public price tag.

The bulk of the public funding for the $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium would have come from $380 million in public assistance, partly through $180 million in transferable tax credits, $120 million in county bonds that would help finance projects and a special tax district around the stadium. Backers have pledged that the district will generate enough money to pay off those bonds and interest.


In Kenya, lions are speared to death as human-wildlife conflict worsens amid drought

MBIRIKANI, Kenya (AP) — Parkeru Ntereka lost almost half of his goat herd to hungry lions that wandered into his pen located near Kenya’s iconic Amboseli national park.

The 56-year-old’s loss made headlines in the east African country as it led to the spearing to death of six lions in retaliation by the Maasai people, who have co-existed with wild animals for centuries.

The killings highlighted the growing human-wildlife conflict in parts of east Africa that conservationists say has been exacerbated by a yearslong drought.

At the same time, the predator population within the parks has increased. Hunger and thirst can send them into communities.

Ntereka said losing 12 goats is a huge loss for his large family.

The Associated Press