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May 9, 2021

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AP Top News at 6:51 p.m. EDT

Updated Tuesday, May 4, 2021 | 3:52 p.m.

Biden aims to vaccinate 70% of American adults by July 4

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday set a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one shot to 70% of adult Americans by July Fourth as he tackles the vexing problem of winning over the “doubters” and those unmotivated to get inoculated. Demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states leaving more than half their available doses unordered. Aiming to make it easier to get shots, Biden called for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and he will direct many pharmacies to do likewise. His administration for the first time also is moving to shift doses from states with weaker demand to areas with stronger interest in the shots.

'Horrible' weeks ahead as India's virus catastrophe worsens

NEW DELHI (AP) — COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis and a top expert warning that the coming weeks in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people will be “horrible.” India's official count of coronavirus cases surpassed 20 million Tuesday, nearly doubling in the past three months, while deaths officially have passed 220,000. Staggering as those numbers are, the true figures are believed to be far higher, the undercount an apparent reflection of the troubles in the health care system. The country has witnessed scenes of people dying outside overwhelmed hospitals and funeral pyres lighting up the night sky.

Overpass collapse on Mexico City metro kills at least 24

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The death toll from the collapse of an overpass on the Mexico City metro rose to 24 Tuesday as crews untangled train carriages from the steel and concrete wreckage that fell onto a roadway. Monday night's accident was one of the deadliest in the history of the subway, and questions quickly arose about the structural integrity of the mass transit system, among the world's busiest. Another 27 people remained hospitalized of the more than 70 injured when the support beams collapsed about 10:30 p.m. as a train passed along the elevated section, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said. On Tuesday, a crane carefully lowered a train car containing four bodies to the ground.

Netanyahu misses deadline, political future in question

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday failed to meet a midnight deadline to put together a new governing coalition, raising the possibility that his Likud party could be pushed into the opposition for the first time in 12 years. The deadline closed a four-week window granted to Netanyahu by Israel's figurehead president. The matter now bounces back to President Reuven Rivlin, who announced just after midnight that he would contact on Wednesday the 13 parties with seats in parliament to discuss “the continuation of the process of forming a government.” Rivlin is expected in the coming days to give one of Netanyahu’s opponents a chance to form an alternative coalition government.

US report: Taliban will likely curtail Afghan women's rights

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence agencies are warning that any gains in women's rights in Afghanistan made in the last two decades will be at risk after U.S. troops withdraw later this year. An unclassified report released Tuesday by the Director of National Intelligence says the Taliban remain “broadly consistent in its restrictive approach to women's rights and would roll back much of the past two decades' progress if the group regained national power.” It's the latest U.S. warning of the consequences of the Afghan withdrawal now underway, two decades after an American-led coalition toppled the Taliban. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday that there would possibly be “some really dramatic, bad possible outcomes” for Afghan forces left on their own to counter the Taliban, but also noted, “We frankly don't know yet.” And CIA Director William Burns told Congress in April that the American ability “to collect and act on threats will diminish.” President Joe Biden has set a September deadline for U.S.

Madrid's champion of soft virus restrictions wins election

MADRID (AP) — Madrid’s conservative leader, a champion of relaxed measures against the coronavirus and a scourge of the left-wing central government’s handling of the pandemic, scored a solid win in a regional election Tuesday. Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who had campaigned under the slogan of “Freedom,” was backed by 44% of voters, up from 22% in the last election two years ago, with 99% of the ballot counted. Three rival left-wing parties together had 41%. The biggest blow was to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialists and the national leader's coalition's junior partner, the anti-austerity United We Can whose leader, Pablo Iglesias, announced an end to a political career that in many ways shaped Spain's politics for much of the past decade.

Facebook board's Trump decision could have wider impacts

Since the day after the deadly Jan. 6 riots on the U.S. Capitol, former President Donald Trump's social media accounts have been silent — muzzled for inciting violence using the platforms as online megaphones. On Wednesday, his fate on Facebook, the biggest social platform around, will be decided. The company's quasi-independent Oversight Board will announce its ruling around 9 a.m. ET. If it rules in Trump's favor, Facebook has seven days to reinstate the account. If the board upholds Facebook's decision, Trump will remain “indefinitely” suspended. Politicians, free speech experts and activists around the world are watching the decision closely. It has implications not only for Trump but for tech companies, world leaders and people across the political spectrum — many of whom have wildly conflicting views of the proper role for technology companies when it comes to regulating online speech and protecting people from abuse and misinformation.

America's new normal: A degree hotter than two decades ago

America’s new normal temperature is a degree hotter than it was just two decades ago. Scientists have long talked about climate change — hotter temperatures, changes in rain and snowfall and more extreme weather — being the “new normal.” Data released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put hard figures on the cliche. The new United States normal is not just hotter, but wetter in the eastern and central parts of the nation and considerably drier in the West than just a decade earlier. Meteorologists calculate climate normals based on 30 years of data to limit the random swings of daily weather.

Bill and Melinda Gates divorce could shake up philanthropy

As much as Bill and Melinda Gates might want to keep their pending divorce private, the split between the billionaire co-founders of the world’s largest private foundation is sure to have very public consequences, with the breakup having already sent a wave of anxious uncertainty through the worlds of philanthropy and community health. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an endowment of nearly $50 billion, donates about $5 billion annually to causes around the world. Last year, it donated $1 billion to combat COVID-19 through the administering of vaccines. In a statement after the Gateses’ announced their divorce on Twitter, the foundation said the two would remain co-chairs and trustees and that no changes in the organization were planned.

Campaign stunt, ads bring California recall into new phase

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's recall election now features “the beast" and a “compassionate disruptor." That's how John Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, Republicans running for California governor, pitched themselves to voters Tuesday in new campaign ads, taking different tones in their bids to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. Cox, a 65-year-old businessman who lost in a landslide to Newsom in 2018, released a video calling himself “the beast" to the photogenic Newsom's “beauty." He also resorted to name-calling reminiscent of former President Donald Trump, repeatedly labeling Newsom a “pretty boy" who lacks governing chops. Launching a bus tour in Sacramento with a live Kodiak bear named Tag ambling behind him in the hot sun, Cox promised to bring “beastly" changes to state government.