AP Top News at 7:57 p.m. EST

AP Top News at 7:57 p.m. EST

Updated: 6 days, 12 hours, 33 minutes, 44 seconds ago

The AP Interview: Pope says homosexuality not a crime

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality as “unjust,” saying God loves all his children just as they are and called on Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome LGBTQ people into the church. “Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” Francis said during an exclusive interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. Francis acknowledged that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalize homosexuality or discriminate against LGBTQ people, and he himself referred to the issue in terms of “sin.” But he attributed such attitudes to cultural backgrounds, and said bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone.

Donald Trump is reinstated to Facebook after 2-year ban

Facebook parent Meta is reinstating former President Donald Trump 's personal account, ending a two-year suspension it imposed in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection. The company said in a blog post Wednesday it is adding “new guardrails” to ensure there are no “repeat offenders” who violate its rules, even if they are political candidates or world leaders. “The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box,” wrote Nick Clegg, Meta’s vice president of global affairs. Clegg added that when there is a “clear risk” to real-world harm, Meta will intervene.

EXPLAINER: Why the US flipped on sending tanks to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — For months, U.S. officials balked at sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, insisting they were too complicated and too hard to maintain and repair. On Wednesday, that abruptly changed. Ukraine's desperate pleas for tanks were answered with a sweeping, trans-Atlantic yes. The dramatic reversal was the culmination of intense international pressure and diplomatic arm-twisting that played out over the last week. And it resulted in in a quick succession of announcements: The U.S. said it will send 31 of the 70-ton Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, and Germany announced it will send 14 Leopard 2 tanks and allow other countries to do the same.

Lawyer: Admins were warned 3 times the day boy shot teacher

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — Concerned staff warned administrators at a Virginia elementary school three times that a 6-year-old boy had a gun and was threatening other students in the hours before he shot and wounded a teacher, but the administration “was paralyzed by apathy” and didn't call police, remove the boy from class or lock down the school, the wounded teacher's lawyer said Wednesday. Later in the day, the school board voted to relieve district superintendent George Parker III of his duties effective Feb. 1 as part of a separation agreement and severance package. Diane Toscano, an attorney for Abigail Zwerner, said during a news conference that she has notified the school board in Newport News that the 25-year-old teacher at Richneck Elementary School plans to sue the school district over the Jan.

Afghan soldier seeking US asylum freed from immigration hold

HOUSTON (AP) — An Afghan soldier seeking U.S. asylum who was arrested while trying to cross the Mexico border has been freed and reunited with his brother after spending months in immigration detention, his attorney said Wednesday. Abdul Wasi Safi’s release from custody in a detention center in Eden, Texas, came after a judge dropped an immigration charge against him at the request of federal prosecutors. Wasi Safi, an intelligence officer for the Afghan National Security Forces, fled Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. forces in August 2021, fearing reprisals from the Taliban because he had provided U.S. forces with information on terrorists.

Suspect in Half Moon Bay farm killings faces 7 murder counts

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — A farmworker accused of killing seven people in back-to-back shootings at two Northern California mushroom farms was charged Wednesday with seven counts of murder and one of attempted murder. Chunli Zhao, 66, was set to make his first court appearance Wednesday but it was postponed until Feb. 16, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. His two attorneys did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment. Wagstaffe, speaking outside the courthouse, declined to share any additional details on Zhao's motive in the killing of his current and former coworkers, saying he wanted to keep the details out of the public eye to ensure a fair trial.

Spain: 1 dead in church machete attacks, terror link probed

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — A machete-wielding man killed a sexton and injured a priest in attacks at two churches in the city of Algeciras on Wednesday before being arrested, Spain’s interior ministry said, in what authorities are investigating as a possible act of terrorism. The suspect was arrested in the southern city and is in the custody of Spain’s National Police. The ministry did not identify him. The attack started around 7 p.m. when the armed man went into the San Isidro church and assaulted a priest, who was seriously injured, the ministry said. The assailant then went to a second church, the Nuestra Señora de La Palma — a five-minute walk away — where he entered and continued his rampage, assaulting the sexton.

AmazonSmile's end is alarming, say nonprofits that benefited

Amazon's surprise decision to shut down its AmazonSmile donation program has left thousands of its nonprofit beneficiaries disappointed and concerned about finding ways to replace the funding. The e-commerce giant had launched AmazonSmile in 2013, contributing 0.5% of every purchase made by participating customers to the charity of their choosing. As of 2022, the company said it has donated $449 million to various charities. Before it ends the program next month, Amazon says, it will provide a final donation to each of the 1 million-plus nonprofits that used AmazonSmile, equivalent to 25% of what the charity received from the program in 2022.

Tax season already? Some tips for avoiding stress and scams

NEW YORK (AP) — For many people filing U.S. tax returns — especially those doing it for their first time — it can be a daunting task that's often left to the last minute. But if you want to avoid the stress of the looming deadline, start getting organized as soon as possible. Whether you do your taxes yourself, go to a tax clinic or hire a professional, navigating the tax system can be complicated and stressful. Courtney Alev, a consumer financial advocate for Credit Karma, recommends you go easy on yourself. “Take a breath. Take some time, set out an hour, or go through it over the weekend.

Review: Even J.Lo can't save this 'Shotgun Wedding'

Spoiler alert: J.Lo looks fantastic in a wedding dress. You surely knew that, given not only the plethora of wedding-themed movies Jennifer Lopez has made over the years, from “The Wedding Planner” to “Monster-in-Law” to the recent “Marry Me,” but also her own offscreen life, of course. And now comes “Shotgun Wedding,” where the ageless pop star and rom-com queen dons a pouffy white concoction that gradually sheds layers of tulle to become increasingly sexy as Lopez fights off not only cringey wedding guests but machine-gun toting pirates. She switches at one point to combat boots — plucked from a dead guy!

hit counter