The AP Interview: Pope says homosexuality not a crime
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality as “unjust,” saying God loves all his children just as they are. He called on those Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome LGBTQ people into the church. Speaking in an exclusive interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Francis acknowledged Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalize homosexuality or discriminate against the LGBTQ community. He attributed their attitudes to cultural influences and said they need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone. Francis’ comments are the first uttered by a pope about such laws. But they are consistent with his overall approach to the LGBTQ community.
Pope discusses his health, his critics and future of papacy
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis says he hasn’t even considered issuing norms to regulate future papal resignations. In his first interview since the death of retired Pope Benedict XVI, Francis tells The Associated Press he plans to continue for as long as he can as bishop of Rome, despite a wave of criticism from some top-ranking cardinals and bishops. In the interview Tuesday, Francis addressed his health, his critics and the next phase of his pontificate, which marks its 10th anniversary in March without Benedict’s shadow. The 86-year-old Francis says he is in good health but reveals that diverticulosis, or bulges in his intestinal wall, had returned. Francis had 33 centimeters of his large intestine removed in 2021.
After US offer, Germany unleashes Leopard tanks for Ukraine
BERLIN (AP) — The German government has confirmed it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks and approve requests by other countries to do the same. The government said Wednesday that it would initially provide Ukraine with one company of Leopard 2 A6 tanks, which comprises 14 vehicles. It says the goal is for Germany and its allies to provide Ukraine with a total of two battalions, or 88 tanks. The long-awaited decision came after U.S. officials said the United States had agreed to send M1 Abrams tanks to help Ukraine’s troops push back Russian forces in the country’s east. Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Germany is “acting in close coordination” with its international allies.
Lawyer: Admins were warned 3 times the day boy shot teacher
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — An attorney says a Virginia teacher who was shot by a 6-year-old student during class will sue the school district. Diane Toscano, a lawyer for the 25-year-old teacher, Abigail Zwerner, said Wednesday that on the day of the shooting, concerned teachers and employees warned administrators three times that the boy had a gun on him and was threatening other students, “but the administration could not be bothered.” The boy shot Zwerner on Jan. 6 as she taught class at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News. Toscano also said Zwerner is suing the district. Superintendent George Parker III has said no weapon was found when a tip prompted a search of the boy's backpack earlier that day.
'Happening way too often': Report delves into mass attacks
WASHINGTON (AP) — A new report on mass attacks calls for communities to intervene early when they see warning signs of violence. The report released Wednesday also encourages businesses to consider workplace violence prevention plans and highlights the connection between domestic violence, misogyny and mass attacks. The report comes from the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center. The center's report analyzed 173 mass attacks carried out over a five-year period from January 2016 to December 2020 in public or semi-public places such as businesses, schools or churches. The U.S. is experiencing a particularly deadly start to the new year with 39 people dead in six mass killings.
Leaders are meant to keep state secrets. Just not at home.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The discovery of classified documents at the home of former Vice President Mike Pence is scrambling the blame game in Washington. Now, lawmakers from both parties seem united in frustration with the string of mishaps in the handling of the U.S. government's secrets. First former President Donald Trump was found in possession of classified documents that should have been turned over to the government when he left office. Then it was revealed that President Joe Biden also held some papers that should not have made it to his quarters. So did Pence, it turns out. Many Republicans and Democrats agree the classification system is broken.
Central American gangs raising fears in southern Mexico
TAPACHULA, Mexico (AP) — Street gangs from Central America are expanding their organized crime activities in southern Mexico. A key profit center is terror-based extortion on public transportation drivers. The rival Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs have long maintained a presence along Mexico's border with Guatemala. But Mexican authorities say their number has increased amid a crackdown in El Salvador that has pushed gang members across the region's borders. Three drivers of passenger vans or taxis have been shot to death so far. They represent essential transportation in largely rural Chiapas state, and now they're living in fear for their livelihood and lives.
Hurts, Jefferson, Mahomes among AP NFL MVP finalists
Jalen Hurts, Justin Jefferson and Patrick Mahomes are finalists for The Associated Press 2022 NFL Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards. The winners will be announced at NFL Honors on Feb. 9. A nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league completed voting before the start of the playoffs. Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Bengals QB Joe Burrow also are finalists for MVP. San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones and Dallas Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons are the finalists for AP Defensive Player of the Year.
Microsoft reports outage for Teams, Outlook, other services
LONDON (AP) — Microsoft says it’s seeing some improvements to its online services including the Teams messaging platform and Outlook email system after users around the world reported outages. In a status update, the tech company reported “service degradation” for a number of its Microsoft 365 services. Thousands of users reported problems early Wednesday with Teams, Outlook, the Azure cloud computing service and XBox Live online gaming service on the Downdetector website, which tracks outage reports. By later in the morning, it showed the number of reports had dropped considerably. The company tweeted that a network change suspected to be causing the problem has been rolled back and that some customers are reporting improvements.
EXPLAINER: Novak Djokovic's successful return to Australia
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic is playing about as well as can be at the Australian Open. He is into the semifinals after taking his past 11 sets and dropping a total of 27 games in that span. His winning streak at Melbourne Park heading into Friday's matchup against 25-year-old American Tommy Paul is 26 matches. That ties Andre Agassi for the longest unbeaten run by a man in the tournament since 1968. There was a pause during Djokovic’s streak though. He did not play in last year’s Australian Open. Djokovic is seeking 10th championship in Australia and 22nd Grand Slam title overall. The other men's semifinal is Stefanos Tsitsipas against Karen Khachanov.