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AP Top News at 11:43 p.m. EDT

July 2, 2020 GMT

Cases spike in Sunbelt, other states back off on reopening

PHOENIX (AP) — California closed bars, theaters and indoor restaurant dining all over again across most of the state Wednesday, and Arizona’s outbreak grew more severe by nearly every measure as the surging coronavirus crisis across the South and West sent a shudder through the country. The run-up in confirmed cases has been blamed in part on what’s been called “knucklehead behavior” by Americans not wearing masks or obeying social-distancing rules as economies reopened from coast to coast over the past two months. “The bottom line is the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,” California Gov.

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Analysis: Trump fights to keep a job Dems say he isn’t doing

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is asking Americans to let him keep his job. His critics are questioning how much of that job he’s actually doing. The questions have gotten louder in recent days following revelations that Trump didn’t read at least two written intelligence briefings about Russia paying bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans in Afghanistan. He also appeared to either downplay or miss repeated warnings about the coronavirus that were included in intelligence briefing s, and he has been reluctant to amplify some of his own government’s recommendations for reducing transmission, including wearing masks. “He is not doing his job,” said Michael Hayden, the former director of both the CIA and National Security Agency.

GOP candidate is latest linked to QAnon conspiracy theory

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DENVER (AP) — When Lauren Boebert was asked in May about QAnon, she didn’t shy away from the far-right conspiracy theory, which advances unproven allegations about a so-called deep state plot against President Donald Trump that involves satanism and child sex trafficking. “Everything that I’ve heard of Q, I hope that this is real because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values,” she said. At the time, Boebert was on the political fringe, running a campaign largely focused on her gun-themed restaurant and resistance to coronavirus lockdowns. She is now on a path to becoming a member of Congress after upsetting five-term Rep.

A pinch where it hurts: Can Facebook weather the ad boycott?

On Wednesday, more than 500 companies officially kicked off an advertising boycott intended to pressure Facebook into taking a stronger stand against hate speech. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with its organizers early next week. But whether Zuckerberg agrees to further tighten the social network’s carefully crafted rules probably boils down to a more fundamental question: Does Facebook need big brand advertisers more than the brands need Facebook? In a broad sense, the current boycott, which will last at least a month, is like nothing Facebook has experienced before. Following weeks of protests against police violence and racial injustice, major brands have for the first time joined together to protest still-prevalent hate speech on Facebook’s platforms by taking aim at the social network’s $70 billion in annual ad revenue.

Appeals court lifts restraint against Trump book publisher

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York appeals court cleared the way Wednesday for a publisher to distribute a tell-all book by President Donald Trump’s niece over the objections of the president’s brother. The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division said it was lifting a temporary restraint that a judge put on Simon & Schuster a day earlier that sought to block distribution of “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” Although the book was scheduled to be published on July 28, Simon & Schuster said thousands of copies of the 75,000-copy first run of the book had already been sent to bookstores and others.

Video: Florida police laugh about shooting rubber bullets

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida police officers can be heard laughing and celebrating after shooting protesters with rubber bullets during a May protest against police brutality, according to newly released body camera footage. In response to a story by the Miami Herald, Fort Lauderdale police posted a video on its official YouTube channel Wednesday taken from the body camera of Detective Zachary Baro, who was leading the department’s SWAT team unit on May 31. It was less than a week after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, which sparked protests through the U.S. At one point in the video, Baro can be heard saying, “Beat it” and using a profanity, after officers shot less lethal projectiles.

Stonewall Jackson removed from Richmond’s Monument Avenue

24 shot to death in attack on drug rehab center in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Gunmen burst into an unregistered drug rehabilitation center in central Mexico and opened fire Wednesday, killing 24 people and wounding seven, authorities said. Police in the north-central state of Guanajuato said the attack occurred in the city of Irapuato. Three of the seven wounded were reported in serious condition. Apparently the attackers shot everyone at the rehab center. State police said nobody was abducted. Photos purporting to show the scene suggest those at the center were lying down when they were sprayed with bullets. Guanajuato is the scene of a bloody turf battle between the Jalisco cartel and a local gang, and the state has become the most violent in Mexico.

Trump says he looks like Lone Ranger in a mask and likes it

WASHINGTON (AP) — After long resisting wearing a mask in public, President Donald Trump said Wednesday he thinks it makes him look like the Lone Ranger — and he likes it. “I’m all for masks. I think masks are good,” Trump told Fox Business in an interview. “People have seen me wearing one.” Trump’s comments came a day after Republican lawmakers suggested that he wear a mask in public to set a good example for Americans. “If I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely,” Trump said in the interview. Trump has long resisted being photographed in a mask.

MLB players begin reporting for tests as first workouts near

Yoán Moncada has spent the past couple of months working out in what he called a “controlled and limited environment” in Florida, where the White Sox slugger could continue to get at-bats while protecting himself from the coronavirus. That’s a good description of the environment that greeted him upon his return to Chicago. Players began reporting to their teams and home ballparks Wednesday in the most significant step yet as Major League Baseball presses ahead with its plan for a 60-game sprint of a season. Most players underwent a battery of health checks, not only for COVID-19 but also for any other lingering ailments from spring training, ahead of planned workouts beginning Friday and Saturday.