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‘A constant in my life’: World mourns Queen Elizabeth II

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‘A constant in my life’: World mourns Queen Elizabeth II

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II was much more than Britain’s monarch. She was sovereign to another 14 nations and a rare figure on the world stage who was almost universally admired. Her reach cut through hemispheres, generations, social divisions and politics.

The widespread tributes that followed her death Thursday came not only from United States President Joe Biden but also from Russian President Vladimir Putin. They came from other monarchs, leaders, rock stars and thousands of admirers.

Elizabeth was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, serving 70 years. She had been on the throne since 1952, when the nation was still rebuilding from the destruction of World War II. She became a global icon of calmness and fortitude through decades of political upheaval and social change.

During her reign, Elizabeth met more than a dozen American presidents. President Joe Biden said he was informed of her death by senior advisers during a meeting in the Oval Office.

She was a “stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States,” he and first lady Jill Biden said in a statement, saying she ”defined an era.”

The Bidens later went to the British Embassy to offer condolences. “We mourn for all of you. She was a great lady,” Biden could be heard telling embassy staff.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, sent a telegram to King Charles III, Elizabeth’s son who automatically became Britain’s new monarch.

“For many decades, Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed the love and respect of her subjects, as well as authority on the world stage. I wish you courage and perseverance in the face of this heavy, irreparable loss,” Putin wrote.

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Elizabeth was mourned across Europe. In France, Britain’s historic rival and contemporary ally, officials ordered flags at the presidential palace and public buildings be lowered to half-staff on Friday.

President Emmanuel Macron hailed her “immutable moral authority” and her intimate knowledge of French.

He said no other foreign sovereign had visited the presidential palace more often than Elizabeth, who knew all eight presidents of contemporary France.

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“The woman who stood alongside the giants of the 20th century on the path of history has left to join them,” Macron said in a statement.

Mourners also gathered at the British Embassy in Paris.

“She’s been a constant in my life,” said 70-year-old Robert Miller, a London resident in Paris for a conference.

“Whilst I know she was very old, she was still doing her work until yesterday,” he said. “Like anybody’s mother, you know, even if you think things are going well, at some point the end of an era comes, and you’re very sad. “

Even in places where the relationship with British monarchy is complicated, the tributes flowed. In India, once a British colony, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Elizabeth “a stalwart of our times.”

“She personified dignity and decency in public life,” Modi tweeted.

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The queen’s death came as a growing number of British territories in the Caribbean are seeking to replace the monarch with their own heads of state amid demands that Britain apologize for its colonial-era abuses and award its former colonies slavery reparations.

Still, Caribbean leaders from Jamaica to Bermuda and beyond mourned her death.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that for many years she visited the island every decade.

“Undoubtedly, she formed a special bond with the people of Jamaica,” he said. “We are saddened that we will not see her light again, but we will remember her historic reign.”

Bermuda Premier David Burt noted that her reign “has spanned decades of such immense change for the United Kingdom and the world.”

It was not only Britain that lost its queen. Elizabeth was also sovereign to 14 other countries including Jamaica, Canada, Australia, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was awoken a little before 5 a.m. by a police officer shining a torch into her bedroom to tell her the news.

Ardern said the queen was an extraordinary woman who she’d remember for her laughter. Like many other people, she was feeling not only deep sadness but also deep gratitude.

“Here is a woman who gave her life, utterly, to the service of others. And regardless of what anyone thinks of the role of monarchies around the world, there is undeniably, I think here, a display of someone who gave everything on behalf of her people,” Ardern said.

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In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was having trouble believing he’d had his last sit-down chat with Elizabeth: “I will so miss those chats,” he said.

Elizabeth had visited Canada some 22 times as monarch.

“For most Canadians, we have known no other sovereign,” Trudeau said. He said she was a “constant presence in our lives — and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history.”

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who led a failed campaign to have an Australian president replace the British monarch as Australia’s head of state, came close to tears in paying tribute to Elizabeth.

“It’s the end of an era and let’s hope that the future, after the queen’s passing, is one where we will have leadership as dedicated and selfless as she has shown,” Turnbull told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Elizabeth’s death held people’s attention in China, where it was a top trending topic on social media.

“I feel quite sad,” said Bao Huifang, a lawyer in Beijing. “She played a very important role in stabilizing Britain and the world.”

Cao Xiufeng, a 76-year-old Beijing retiree, said she admired Elizabeth “very much.”

“Her style of dressing and her temperament were simply extraordinary,” Cao said.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping sent his condolences, noting Elizabeth was the first British monarch to visit China.

Elizabeth’s death comes amid increasingly tense relations between Britain and China. Xi said he was willing to work with King Charles III on promoting “healthy and stable” bilateral ties.

Elizabeth was mourned across the 54-nation Commonwealth, a group built around Britain and its former colonies.

In Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recalled Elizabeth’s visits to his country and praised “the friendliness, elegance, style and sheer joy she brought to the performance of her duties.”

“We shall miss her inspiring presence, her calm, her steadiness, and, above all, her great love and belief in the higher purpose of the Commonwealth of Nations, and in its capacity to be a force for good in our world,” he said in a statement.

At the United Nations, the Security Council stood in silent tribute at the start of a meeting on Ukraine. France’s U.N. Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere, the council president, sent condolences on behalf of its 15 members.

Elizabeth presided “over a period of historic changes both for her country and the world,” he said. “Her life was devoted to the service of her country.”

Royalty across Europe also mourned Elizabeth’s death.

Her life “set an example for all of us and will remain as a solid and valuable legacy for future generations,” Spanish King Felipe VI said in a telegram to King Charles III.

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“We will miss Her dearly,” he wrote, speaking for himself and his wife.

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden called her “a constant presence, not only in British society but internationally.”

In Norway, King Harald said that for “nearly a century, Her Majesty devoted her life to the service of the Commonwealth, following the British people through good days and bad, in times of happiness and sorrow.”

The king and crown prince of Saudi Arabia also offered their condolences. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the queen was “an example of wisdom, love and peace.”

In the U.S., tributes came not only from the Bidens but also every living former president.

Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, said she made “the role of Queen her own — with a reign defined by grace, elegance, and a tireless work ethic.” George W. Bush called her “a woman of great intellect, charm, and wit,” and Jimmy Carter said Elizabeth’s “dignity, graciousness and sense of duty” were inspiring.

Rock star Elton John paid tribute at his Toronto concert, saying he was inspired by her and is sad she is gone. “She led the country through some of our greatest and darkest moments with grace and decency and genuine caring,” John said.

Praise even came from the fictional Paddington Bear, the beloved British children’s book character. The bear shared tea with the queen in a video shown in June during her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

“Thank you Ma’am, for everything,” said a statement on the Paddington Bear Twitter feed.

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

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Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

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Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
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Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

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A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

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“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

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Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

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Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

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The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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