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Nation and World briefs for July 15

Former US President Jimmy Carter out of hospital

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was back at a Habitat for Humanity worksite Friday, a day after he was hospitalized for dehydration while working with the organization to build homes for needy families in Canada.

A smiling Carter showed up in blue jeans and a work shirt to the site in the St. James neighborhood of Winnipeg, where hundreds of Habitat for Humanity volunteers joined the former president and his wife, Rosalynn, to build 25 homes.

Carter, 92, was discharged earlier in the morning from St. Boniface General Hospital where he was treated “as a precaution” for dehydration, Carter spokeswoman Deanna Congileo said.

“He and Mrs. Carter extend their appreciation for the many well-wishes he received worldwide,” Congileo said.

Carter attended a “devotional” service and then left to spend the day resting. He and his wife were expected at a closing ceremony later at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

Liberation from militants leaves devastation in Mosul

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — There was a smell of death in Mosul’s Old City when Ayman Hashem came back this week to see what happened to his home. His neighborhood was unrecognizable.

“All that’s left is rubble and the bodies of families trapped underneath,” the 23-year-old said. He flipped through photos on his phone, showing picture after picture of wreckage. His own house was “cut in half,” he said. He had to cover his nose with his tee-shirt because of the smell of buried, rotting bodies.

Iraq’s U.S.-backed forces wrested Mosul from the Islamic State group at the cost of enormous destruction. The nearly 9-month fight culminated with a crescendo of devastation — the blasting of the historic Old City to root out the deeply dug-in militants.

Nearly a third of the Old City — more than 5,000 buildings — was damaged or destroyed in the final three weeks of bombardment up to July 8, according to a survey by U.N. Habitat using satellite imagery. Across the city, 10,000 buildings were damaged over the course of the war, the large majority in western Mosul, the scene of the most intense artillery, airstrikes and fighting during the past five months. The survey only covers damage visible in satellite photos, meaning the real number is likely higher.

The population, once numbering 3 million, is battered and exhausted, with hundreds of thousands displaced. Without a swift campaign to rebuild Mosul, aid and rights groups warn the current humanitarian crisis will balloon and resentment will likely give way to extremism, undermining the victory.

Russian-American lobbyist joined Trump’s son’s meeting, too

WASHINGTON (AP) — A prominent Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet military officer attended a meeting with President Donald Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign chairman last year, the lobbyist said Friday, adding a new wrinkle to the Trump team’s evolving explanations about the June 2016 session.

Rinat Akhmetshin confirmed his involvement to The Associated Press in an interview. He had not been previously identified as a participant in the meeting at Trump Tower in New York, which was billed as part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican’s White House campaign.

The meeting has heightened questions about whether Trump’s associates coordinated with Russia to meddle in the presidential election — to help him and thwart Hillary Clinton — and whether they’ve been forthcoming about their foreign contacts. Federal and congressional investigators are probing possible connections between the campaign and Moscow.

Akhmetshin has been reported to have ties to Russian intelligence, a characterization he dismisses as a “smear campaign.” He’s a well-known Washington presence, lobbying for Russian interests trying to undermine the allegations of a lawyer who died in a Russian prison and is the namesake of a U.S. sanctions law.

Akhmetshin told the AP he served in the Soviet military in a unit that was part of counterintelligence but he was never formally trained as a spy.

Trump, administration press Republicans to back health bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and other administration officials lobbied Republicans Friday from both sides of the Atlantic to keep the Senate GOP’s reworked health care bill from crashing, with the president saying wavering senators “must come through.”

But the measure, culminating the GOP’s seven years of pledging to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, encountered turbulence from two influential Republican governors and the nation’s largest doctors’ group. That complicated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s task of preventing even a single additional GOP senator from rejecting the legislation, which would kill it.

“After all of these years of suffering thru ObamaCare, Republican Senators must come through as they have promised!” the president tweeted before departing Paris, where he attended Bastille Day ceremonies.

McConnell, R-Ky., refashioned the legislation to attract GOP votes, two weeks after retreating on an initial version that would have died for lack of Republican support. The new package added language letting insurers sell discount-priced policies with minimal coverage aimed at winning over conservatives, and revised funding formulas that would mean federal money for states including Louisiana and Alaska — home to four GOP senators.

Fifty of the 52 Republican senators must back the bill in an initial vote McConnell plans for next week or, facing solid Democratic opposition, it will lose. GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Kentucky’s Rand Paul have said they’ll vote “no,” leaving McConnell no wiggle room.

Senator selling stock after AP ties company to Mexican labor

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana senator and longtime critic of outsourcing jobs to foreign countries announced Friday that he’s selling his stock in his family’s arts and crafts company after The Associated Press reported it manufactures some products in Mexico.

Democrat Joe Donnelly said he hasn’t had an active role in the company for 20 years but was taking the action to avoid allowing the issue to become “a distraction from our work to end outsourcing and keep American jobs here instead of shipping them to other countries.” His campaign said he made the statement to reporters at an Indiana Black Expo luncheon.

The AP reported Thursday that Donnelly made at least $15,001 in dividends last year on as much as $50,000 of stock in Stewart Superior Corp., which used Mexican workers to produce dye for ink pads.

Donnelly, considered one of the nation’s most vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election next year, was highly critical of Carrier Corp., an air conditioner and furnace maker. He accused it of exploiting $3-an-hour workers when its parent company announced plans last year to cut some 2,000 jobs at two Indiana factories by moving production to Mexico.

The senator praised then President-elect Donald Trump in November for reaching a deal that saved 800 of the jobs at an Indianapolis factory.

Papers reveal pot dealer’s grisly confession in 4 slayings

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A marijuana dealer gave police a grisly account of killing four men on his family’s farm, saying he crushed one of them with a backhoe after shooting him and tried to set three of the bodies on fire in a metal bin with the help of his cousin, according to court papers filed Friday.

Cosmo DiNardo, who graduated from a Catholic prep school two years ago, said he killed a former schoolmate when he arrived with $800 to buy $8,000 worth of pot. DiNardo, who’s charged along with his cousin, said he shot another man in the back as he tried to run away.

DiNardo, 20, pinned one of the deaths on his cousin, who was charged Friday, although the cousin told police that DiNardo shot all four of the victims.

The only motive disclosed by investigators was that DiNardo said he wanted to set the victims up when they went to the farm to buy marijuana. One man vanished July 5, and the others vanished two days later.

Three of the slain men were buried at the farm, in Solebury, in an oil tank that had been converted into a cooker. The FBI found them Wednesday after four days of methodical hand-digging and sifting in a spot on the 90-acre farm that dogs had sniffed out.

 

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