Obama uses Hiroshima visit as opportunity to urge no nukes
HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) — With an unflinching look back at a painful history, President Barack Obama stood on the hallowed ground of Hiroshima on Friday and declared it a fitting place to summon people everywhere to embrace the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.
As the first American president to visit the city where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb, Obama came to acknowledge — but not apologize for — an act many Americans see as a justified end to a brutal war that Japan started with a sneak attack at Pearl Harbor.
Some 140,000 people died after a U.S. warplane targeted wartime Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and 70,000 more perished in Nagasaki, where a second bomb was dropped three days later. Japan soon surrendered.
“Their souls speak to us,” Obama said of the dead. “They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and who we might become.”
With a lofty speech and a warm embrace for an elderly survivor, Obama renewed the call for a nuclear-free future that he had first laid out in a 2009 speech in Prague.
Holiday air travelers get a break from long security lines
ATLANTA (AP) — Travelers who were dreading long airport security lines ahead of the Memorial Day weekend instead reported moving quickly through checkpoints Friday after authorities opened extra screening lanes and used bomb-sniffing dogs to give some passengers a break from removing their shoes.
“Wow. I mean, wow,” said Mike Saresky, who flew into Chicago from Philadelphia, where he breezed through airport security in 12 minutes and got to leave his shoes on. “I thought it was going to be a lot worse.”
The extra dogs were concentrated at the nation’s largest airports, but they were not used for all screenings, meaning that many travelers still had to observe the usual procedures.
But as the busy summer travel season kicked off, the federal Transportation Security Administration tried to offer travelers some relief after weeks of slow-moving lines blamed on an increase in the number of air travelers and a shortage of TSA security officers.
A TSA spokesman said the extra dogs would remain well beyond the holiday.
Trump tells California ‘there is no drought’
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told California voters Friday that he can solve their water crisis, declaring, “There is no drought.”
Speaking at a rally in Fresno, Calif., Trump accused state officials of denying water to Central Valley farmers so they can send it out to sea “to protect a certain kind of three-inch fish.”
“We’re going to solve your water problem. You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea,” Trump said at a rally that drew thousands.
California is, in fact, in midst of a drought. Last year marked the state’s driest four-year period in its history, with record low rainfall and snow.
The comments came a day after Trump outlined an energy policy plan that relies heavily on expanding U.S. fossil fuel exploration and reducing environmental regulations.
Never mind Trump, GOP uniting under banner: ‘Never Hillary’
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s best ally in winning over skeptical Republicans is turning out to be Hillary Clinton.
Having overcome a multimillion-dollar “Never Trump” campaign aimed at blocking him from the Republican nomination, he’s now benefiting from a wave of GOP donors, party leaders, voters and conservative groups that are uniting under a new banner: “Never Hillary.”
“Nothing unites Republicans better than a Clinton,” says Scott Reed, a political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who has advised previous GOP campaigns. While Reed says there remain “many unknowns” about Trump, he adds that “the knowns about Hillary are very powerful motivators to Republicans.”
Thanks to Republicans’ deep disdain for the likely Democratic nominee, Trump is piling up those kinds of lukewarm GOP endorsements.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who called Trump a dangerous “con artist” during his own failed presidential campaign, now says he’s willing to get involved in the general election to stop Clinton.
In Iraq’s battle for Fallujah, residents gird for long fight
BAGHDAD (AP) — Five days into an Iraqi military operation to push Islamic State fighters out of Fallujah, residents still inside the city are preparing for a long battle, with some saying they fear being trapped between two forces they don’t fully trust.
More than 50,000 people remain in the center of the Sunni majority city, which has been under control of the extremist group for more than two years. Those who want to leave describe deteriorating humanitarian conditions, but they also say they are wary of the Iraqi government forces who have pledged to liberate them.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the offensive late Sunday night. Backed by airstrikes from a U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi forces are tightening their grip around Fallujah and dislodging IS militants from key areas.
“The airstrikes are almost constant,” one man told The Associated Press by phone from inside the city Thursday. The resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concerns for his safety, said that after living for weeks on rice, canned food and processed cheese, those stocks were beginning to run low.
While many in Fallujah welcomed the takeover of the city by the Sunni-led Islamic State group as an alternative to what they considered their marginalization at the hands of Iraq’s leaders, humanitarian conditions in the city have deteriorated under the extremists.
Feds expect more Atlantic tropical storms than last 3 years
MIAMI (AP) — U.S. government forecasters expect a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season, after three relatively slow years. But they also say climate conditions that influence storm development are making it difficult to predict how many hurricanes and tropical storms will arise over the next six months.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s outlook Friday called for a near-normal season with 10 to 16 named storms, with four to eight hurricanes and one to four “major” ones with winds reaching 111 mph and up.
The long-term season averages are 12 named storms, with six hurricanes and three major ones.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts June 1, but tropical weather got a head-start this year: Hurricane Alex made an unseasonable debut in January over the far eastern Atlantic.
On Friday, the National Hurricane Center said an area of low pressure between Bermuda and the Bahamas became a tropical depression. A tropical storm warning was issued for the South Carolina coast.
Migrant shipwreck survivor says he was under hull, pal died
SICULIANA, Sicily (AP) — A Sudanese man who survived the capsizing of a heavily overcrowded smugglers boat off Libya recounted Friday how the vessel tipped over when fellow migrants heard the voice of approaching rescuers and rushed above deck, leaving hundreds of people foundering in the Mediterranean.
When the boat overturned, Mohammed Ali found himself underneath the hull, but somehow emerged and knew he survived when he “saw the sun.” Because he doesn’t know how to swim, he couldn’t save a friend who perished in the sea, he added.
The 28-year-old was one of 562 migrants rescued Wednesday by the navy, which also recovered five bodies. He spoke to The Associated Press in Sicily outside a center where he and other migrants are sheltered while their identities are checked for their requests for asylum.
Ali said smugglers’ ignored warnings the boat was overcrowded.
“The smugglers assured us it will be a very safe trip,” said Ali. “The captain talked to him, ‘It’s too many people, stop bringing more people,” said Ali. “‘The ship won’t be safe.’ They didn’t listen to him.”
Now Gawker has its own billionaire backer, sort of
NEW YORK (AP) — The courtroom fight between former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and news-and-gossip site Gawker is becoming a battleground of sorts for Silicon Valley tycoons as well.
First Look Media, a news organization financed by Pierre Omidyar, philanthropist and the co-founder of eBay, says it is reaching out to other media outlets to file supportive briefs about Gawker. The briefs could be used for the site’s appeal of a $140 million invasion-of-privacy verdict Hogan won two months ago because Gawker posted a sex tape of him.
On Wednesday, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel revealed that he has been secretly bankrolling Hogan’s case against Gawker. There’s no indication that Omidyar might fund Gawker’s defense.
“The possibility that Gawker may have to post a bond for $50 million or more just to be able to pursue its right to appeal the jury’s verdict raises serious concerns about press freedom,” First Look wrote in a statement explaining its move.
Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, has been a frequent target of Gawker writers, who have written unflattering pieces about Thiel’s political beliefs and utopian goals . One 2007 post outed Thiel as gay. The same Gawker site, Valleywag, ran a number of stories skewering Facebook, which provided a big chunk of Thiel’s estimated $2.7 billion fortune.
Health experts urge WHO to consider moving Rio Olympics
LONDON (AP) — Health experts on Friday urged the World Health Organization to consider whether the Rio de Janeiro Olympics should be postponed or moved because of the Zika outbreak.
The 150 experts — including former White House science adviser Dr. Philip Rubin — issued an open letter to the U.N. health agency, calling for the games to be delayed or relocated “in the name of public health.”
The letter cited recent scientific evidence that the Zika virus causes severe birth defects, most notably babies born with abnormally small heads. In adults, it can cause neurological problems, including a rare syndrome that can be fatal or result in temporary paralysis. The authors also noted that despite increased efforts to wipe out the mosquitoes that spread Zika, infections in Rio have gone up rather than down.
Several public health academics have previously warned that having hundreds of thousands of people head to the Aug. 5-21 games in Brazil will inevitably lead to the births of more brain-damaged babies and speed up the virus’ global spread. Most people infected by Zika suffer only minor symptoms including fever, a rash and muscle or joint pain.
WHO declared the Zika epidemic to be a global emergency in February and in its latest assessment this week, said it “does not see an overall decline in the outbreak.”
Judge orders Johnny Depp to stay away from estranged wife
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge ordered Johnny Depp to stay away from estranged wife Amber Heard after she accused the Oscar-nominated actor of repeatedly hitting her during a recent fight and leaving her face bruised.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carl H. Moor also ruled that Depp shouldn’t try to contact Heard until a hearing is conducted on June 17.
Heard said in a sworn declaration that Depp threw her cellphone at her during a fight Saturday, striking her cheek and eye. She submitted a picture of her bruised face when she applied for a restraining order Friday. She also wrote that the actor pulled her hair, screamed at her and repeatedly hit her and violently grabbed her face.
She appeared at a Los Angeles court on Friday and had a bruise on her right cheek below the eye.
Los Angeles police responded to Depp and Heard’s residence on Saturday, but were asked by the person reporting domestic violence not to take a report and did not provide evidence. “Officers’ investigation determined that a crime did not occur,” Los Angeles police officer Aareon Jefferson said Friday.