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  • A state fair, where one person was killed and seven others were injured when an 'aggressive thrill' ride broke apart, will be open Thursday, officials said, but the rides won't be running until they all are determined to be safe. Dramatic video captured by a bystander Wednesday evening at the Ohio State Fair shows the Fire Ball ride swinging back and forth like a pendulum and spinning in the air when it crashes into something and part of the ride flies off. Screams are heard as passengers are thrown to the ground. 'The fair is about the best things in life, and tonight with this accident it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy,' said Republican Gov. John Kasich. Officials said the man who was killed was one of several people who were thrown to the ground when the ride malfunctioned. They have not released his name. Three of the injured remained in critical condition late Wednesday. Officials did not know what caused the ride to break apart, saying the investigation was ongoing. 'Of course we want to get to the bottom of this,' Kasich said, noting that there could be things to be learned that could help other fairs and amusement parks. 'Make no mistake about it, it's a very, very sad night for all of us.' A company providing rides at the fair this year described the Fire Ball as an 'aggressive thrill' ride. On its website, Amusements of America said that since its debut in 2002, the Fire Ball, which was manufactured by KMG, had become 'one of the most popular thrill rides on the AOA Midway.' The company's description of the ride said it swings riders 40 feet (12 meters) above the midway, while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute. Amusements of America did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. Ride inspectors did not notice anything out of the ordinary when they conducted their inspections and cleared the Fire Ball for passengers, said Director of Agriculture David Daniels. All of the rides at the fair are checked several times when they are being set up to ensure they are set up the way the manufacturer intended, he said. 'We started out today with 11 rides that did not open because the inspection work was not done on them,' said Daniels. Four rides will not be operating because they do not meet the mechanical test, he said. Officials said none of the rides would be open until they are all fully inspected. 'Our hearts are heavy for the families of those involved in last night's tragic accident,' the fair said early Thursday morning in a statement posted on its Twitter page. 'We have shut down all rides until the state has inspected each and every ride again and deemed them to be safe.' The Ohio State Fair, which is one of the largest state fairs in the U.S., runs through Aug. 6.
  • Ellen DeGeneres certainly doesn’t agree with President Donald Trump’s latest announcement about banning transgender individuals from joining the military. >> Trump: Transgender people won't be allowed in the military Following the news of the ban, the TV host shared a message with fans on Twitter to express her disagreement. >> These 18 countries allow transgender people in their militaries “We should be grateful to the people who wish to serve, not turn our backs on them. Banning transgender people is hurtful, baseless and wrong,” DeGeneres wrote. >> See the tweet here DeGeneres previously expressed her dismay when she used humor to address Trump’s refugee ban. In January, DeGeneres used her film “Finding Dory” to explain why she disagreed with the ban. >> 69 years ago, Truman ordered 'right and just' desegregation of US armed forces “I don’t get political, but I will say that I am against [the ban],” she said. “I am not going to talk about the travel ban. I am just going to talk about the very non-political, People’s Choice Award-winning film ‘Finding Dory.’” >> Report: Transgender health care would cost fraction of what military spends on Viagra, similar drugs “Dory arrives in America with her friends, Marlon and Nemo, and she arrives at the Marine Life Institute behind a large wall. And they all have to get over the wall. And you won’t believe it, but that wall has almost no effect in keeping them out,” she said. “The other animals help Dory. Animals that don’t even need her. Animals that have nothing in common with her. They help her even though they are completely different colors, because that’s what you do when you see someone in need. You help them.” >> What is the difference between transgender and transsexual? In November, when Trump was first elected president, DeGeneres shared an inspiring message with her viewers to help bring give hope to Americans who were despondent about the poll results. >> Read more trending news “You may have heard that there was a presidential election on Tuesday. The big winner was alcohol,” she said at the time. “Obviously, a lot of people were disappointed with the results. My job is to be hopeful and make everybody feel good, so I am going to keep doing that as long as I can.” >> Texas mayor: Transgender and kicked out of military? Join our police force She added: 'If you are feeling a little anxious or scared, I am here to tell you that things can turn out OK.
  • Five years ago, Gov. Sam Brownback made Kansas an economic laboratory for the nation by aggressively cutting taxes. He's expected to leave office with his Kansas reputation in tatters and his home state an example of trickle-down economics that didn't work. The White House on Wednesday announced that President Donald Trump plans to nominate Brownback to serve as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. If confirmed by the Senate, he'll run the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom. Kansas officials expect Brownback to step down as governor when he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, but his office wouldn't discuss his plans Wednesday evening. Brownback's fellow Republicans called the job a good fit for him, and some conservative religious groups had pushed for the appointment. 'Sam has always been called to fight for those of all faiths, and I am glad he has been given an opportunity to answer this call,' said Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, a fellow Republican. Brownback's departure would automatically elevate fellow conservative Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer to governor. Brownback, 60, served in the U.S. Senate before his election as governor in 2010 and was an early advocate of U.S. action to stop genocide in Sudan's Darfur region, and visited Congo and Rwanda to decry humanitarian crises and call for better coordination in foreign aid programs. In a tweet Brownback called religious freedom 'the first freedom' and said he was honored 'to serve such an important cause.' But Tom Witt, executive director of the LGBT-rights group Equality Kansas, decried Brownback's nomination because of his conservative views on issues such as same-sex marriage. 'He has caused enough damage here in Kansas,' Witt said in a statement. 'We do not wish him upon the world.' Brownback also would leave a Kansas legacy of far tougher restrictions on abortion and fewer limits on gun owners than when he won the first of his two terms in 2010. He rejected expanding the Medicaid health program for the poor in line with former President Barack Obama's signature health care law even as several other Republican governors went ahead. But Brownback will be most remembered for championing cuts in Kansas personal income taxes starting in 2012. The state was supposed to get a 'shot of adrenaline to the heart' of its economy. He described it as a state-level experiment that would demonstrate the benefits of tax-cutting theory that dates back to Ronald Reagan's administration, with Kansas even hiring Reagan economist Arthur Laffer to provide advice and promote the results. Cutting taxes — in particular for business owners — would spur hiring, creating wealth that would trickle down to everyone. It's still GOP orthodoxy, and Trump has set similar tax cutting goals. But in Kansas, the cuts failed to deliver the economic growth the governor had promised, and persistent and sometimes severe budget problems followed. 'His policies have bankrupted our state and led to destroying nearly every agency of state government as well as his own political career,' said Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat and a vocal critic. With the state's economy struggling, Brownback won re-election with less than 50 percent of the vote in 2014 by suggesting the state could have it all. Kansas could keep his core income tax cuts without sacrificing spending on schools or social services. Instead, the state muddled along with temporary budget patches, raiding highway funds, shorting public pensions and then boosting sales and cigarette taxes. Fellow Republicans across the nation watched the Kansas experiment closely and were not impressed. GOP lawmakers in Missouri enacted tax cuts but went slower and tied them to growth in tax revenues. In South Carolina, an unsuccessful pitch for tax cuts prompted then-Gov. Nikki Haley to say, 'We are not doing what Kansas did.' Trump carried Kansas easily in 2016, but voters turned on Brownback and his allies, ousting two dozen of his conservative allies from the Legislature and giving Democrats and GOP moderates more power. The Kansas Legislature repudiated Brownback's program in June, rolling back most of those past tax cuts, raising rates and ending an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners to raise $1.2 billion over two years. Brownback vetoed their bill, and they overrode his action. Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kelly Arnold said Brownback will be remembered as a governor who advanced conservative ideas. As for his tax cuts, Arnold said, 'I guess we'll never really know what the long-term impact' would have been. The reversal of Brownback's tax cuts was a far cry from the promise of his first term. He won the governor's office in 2010 as a U.S. senator on a wave of voter frustration in ruby red Kansas with Obama and other Democrats in Washington, aided by the rise of the tea party movement. Brownback won 63 percent of the vote and Republicans swept all statewide and congressional races on the ballot. Brownback grew up on a family farm in eastern Kansas, trained as lawyer and was the state's agriculture secretary from 1986 to 1993, taking a year off to serve as a White House fellow. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1994, part of the so-called Republican revolution that gave the GOP control of both the House and the Senate for the first time in 40 years. Two years later, he won election to the Senate, capturing the seat held by Bob Dole, who'd resigned to run for president. Brownback won a full six-year term in 1998 and another in 2004. Brownback has long been a favorite of Christian conservatives for his strong stances as a U.S. senator against abortion and same-sex marriage. He also gained some attention as a vocal critic of the entertainment industry. He started running in 2007 for the Republican presidential nomination but dropped out before primaries and caucuses began in 2008. Brownback converted to Catholicism in 2002 after having been a Methodist, and his religious devotion and commitment to helping the poor in other nations has led him in the past to break the mold of classic conservatives. ___ Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna .
  • The probe at home into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election continues to be a thorn in his side, bedeviling Trump's apparent desire to have warm relations with Russia's Vladimir Putin, and the initial 'bromance' with China's Xi Jinping also buckled under geopolitical and economic disagreements. But there are others who have been lavished with the president's favor. Who is in the friend camp is clear from the president's foreign travels, actions and statements. To varying degrees, his support has emboldened favored countries to carry out contentious regional or domestic policies. Some traditional U.S foes, though, could find themselves in a more precarious position than they did under President Barack Obama, who generally avoided direct confrontation and even pursued diplomatic openings with Iran and Cuba. Below, AP journalists assess the friend-or-foe dynamic as seen from key nations: ___ SAUDI ARABIA In Trump Saudi Arabia trusts. The ultraconservative Sunni kingdom played host to Trump's first overseas trip when it brought him and officials from other Muslim nations for an anti-terrorism conference in May. Their embrace comes as no surprise as Trump long criticized the Iran nuclear deal, part of the reason for cold relations between the kingdom and President Barack Obama. Trump also has been willing to overlook human rights concerns in his embrace of Mideast leaders, including Saudi King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Trump sent U.S. special operations forces into Yemen to back the Saudi-led campaign in a January raid that killed some 30 people, including women, children and a Navy SEAL. Trump also has written tweets against Qatar and openly criticized the U.S. ally, host of a major American military base, amid a Saudi-led effort to isolate the country. That's even as members of his administration try to mediate an end to the rift. King Salman's 31-year-old son, the recently appointed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was one of the first foreign officials to rush to America to see Trump. He has met several times with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. Now next in line to the throne, the crown prince likely hopes to trade on those ties in further cementing his interests in weaning the oil-rich kingdom from its crude-dependent economy as global energy prices remain low. -Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates ___ ISRAEL To Trump, Israel definitely falls into the most-trusted-friend category. From early in his campaign, Trump cast himself as an unconditional supporter of Israel who would have a far warmer relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than Obama did. After repeated clashes with Obama, Israel's nationalist right had high expectations for Trump. His ambassador to Israel is David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer who has raised millions of dollars for the Beit El settlement. That community north of Jerusalem is in the heart of the occupied territory Palestinians want for an independent state. A foundation run by the family of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner — the president's czar for Middle East peace efforts — also supported Beit El. Tax records show Trump himself donated money to a Jewish seminary in the settlement through his foundation. Trump indicated his affinity by including Israel in his first overseas trip as president, where he was fawned over by his hosts. He speaks warmly about Netanyahu and has reportedly sided with him in spats with the Palestinians. He also encouraged Israelis by taking a tough stand on Iran. At the same time, Trump has not made good on his campaign promise to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem and has spoken of pushing for the 'ultimate deal,' raising fears in Israel that it could be pressured into making unwanted concessions. Meanwhile, the Palestinians have made efforts to get in Trump's good graces, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas traveling to Washington to meet him and praise his leadership. But a new wave of violence over a disputed Jerusalem shrine, sacred to Muslims and Jews, is Trump's first experience of the decades-long conflict's realities. How his administration navigates it will be telling. -Aron Heller in Jerusalem ___ POLAND Trump lavished praise on Poland during a visit this month, hailing its struggles for freedom against past oppression and depicting the country — which strongly opposes taking any Muslim refugees — as a defender of Western civilization. He made no mention of rule of law or human rights, even though the country's populist ruling party has spent the past 20 months consolidating power in ways that have weakened checks and balances. Within days of the visit, the Law and Justice party moved to pass legislation aimed at giving the government vast new powers over the courts. One bill called for the immediate dismissal of all Supreme Court judges, giving the justice minister power to replace them. Among other things, the change would have given the ruling party direct control over confirming election results, one of the Supreme Court's functions. This week the country's president responded to days of mass nationwide protests by vetoing two of three bills on the judiciary, including the one on the Supreme Court. However, he left in place a third bill that gives the justice minister the power to name the heads of all the country's lower courts, which critics also see as unconstitutional. 'Trump's silence about the Polish government's problems with democracy and the rule of law encouraged Warsaw to pursue further measures, effectively ending judicial independence and separation of powers soon after the presidential visit,' said Marcin Zaborowski, a political analyst affiliated with Visegrad Insight, a journal about politics in Central Europe. -Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland ___ IRAN Trump hasn't yet torn up the Iran nuclear deal, which took the U.S. and other world powers years to negotiate and ended with Tehran accepting curbs on its contested nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Whether that remains the case is an open question. Days into the Trump presidency, then-national security adviser Michael Flynn warned Iran that it was being put 'on notice' following a ballistic missile test. That hasn't stopped Iran from continuing to develop its weapons programs. In the past six months, it has unveiled new arms, staged military drills and launched a sea-deployed ballistic missile with a reported 300-kilometer (185-mile) range. Last month, an Iranian patrol boat shined a laser at a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter flying over the Strait of Hormuz — an incident deemed dangerous by the U.S. military. Trump considered declaring Iran in breach of the nuclear deal this month but ultimately confirmed it was in compliance. He'll have to revisit the issue in three months. The administration has slapped Iran with new sanctions, however, including 18 this month targeting Iranian individuals and groups for aiding its non-nuclear weapons programs. And it recently came out with a new warning, saying Tehran faces 'new and serious consequences' unless it frees all U.S. citizens held there. They include Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang, whose arrest nearly a year ago only came to light this month when he was sentenced to 10 years behind bars. - Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates ___ THE KOREAS There's not a lot of room for doubt on this one. North Korea is not only an enemy of the United States — a 'sworn enemy' as the North Koreans put it — but the two are technically still at war, since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in what was supposed to be a temporary armistice. Pyongyang made no secret of its anger at Washington's policy under Obama of keeping up sanctions and other pressure and refusing contacts. But in Trump's first six months, it seems to take even more umbrage at him — though his policy so far has been enunciated mostly just in chastising tweets. The North is testing Trump in dramatic ways — most recently with its July 4 test of its first intercontinental ballistic missile. Kim Jong Un's bold rush toward nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the U.S. is in part intended to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul — and Trump isn't helping to counter that very well. Instead, he has stepped on Seoul's toes by accusing it of not carrying enough of its own defense burden, and by hurriedly installing a controversial anti-missile system in South Korea before conservatives there lost the presidency in elections this spring. The system is partially deployed, but a full rollout has been delayed under liberal President Moon Jae-in for a environmental review. For South Korea, one of Washington's most loyal allies, knowing where the U.S. president stands is absolutely key to its national security policy. But right now, Kim Jong Un might well be the easier of the two men for Seoul to predict. -Eric Talmadge, Pyongyang ___ VENEZUELA Things haven't been good between the U.S. and Venezuela since then-President Hugo Chavez called then-President George W. Bush 'the devil' in a 2006 speech at the U.N. Obama avoided confrontation with Venezuela, instead encouraging dialogue between the government and opposition. Trump is threatening to launch 'strong and swift economic actions' if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro moves ahead with the rewriting of the constitution, which Maduro's opponents fear would pave the way for a single-party, authoritarian state. Those actions could include devastating sanctions on Venezuela's oil exports, or simply lengthening a list of top officials who can't do business with the United States. Maduro and his top aides insist they will go ahead with the election Sunday of a special assembly charged with the constitutional rewrite, a move that will reveal how tough Trump is willing to get. The Trump administration has already imposed sanctions against Maduro's vice president and eight Supreme Court justices, with no measurable impact on the Venezuelan government's behavior. On Wednesday it targeted another 13 current or former top officials in Maduro's government. The United States remains the primary source of hard currency keeping the Venezuelan government afloat, since Venezuela sends about half its total exports to the U.S. Restricting Venezuelan oil imports would undermine Maduro's government but would also increase hardship in the country and give Maduro an easier scapegoat for an already spiraling economic collapse. Trump's continued use of sanctions against individuals may be a sign that Washington will stop short of a full-on economic confrontation, though Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested more penalties could come if Maduro's government fails to change course. -Michael Weissenstein in Caracas, Venezuela
  • Boston's about to bust a rhyme. Dozens of prominent poets, including a former U.S. poet laureate, will commandeer the courtyard of the Boston Public Library on Thursday to read aloud from the city's first anthology of poetry. Organizers have dubbed the collection 'City of Notions,' a reference to a nickname that Boston earned in the early 19th century for being a font of innovation and ideas. Boston poet laureate Danielle Legros Georges, who edited the collection, sees it as 'a meeting place, a poetic 'city square' for a wide variety of voices.' Among the nearly 60 contributors is Robert Pinsky, a former U.S. poet laureate who now teaches English and creative writing at Boston University. The poems in 'City of Notions' range from sonnets to haiku and free verse. All touch on aspects of life in Boston, including the Boston Marathon — a beloved rite of spring — and the city's much-reviled public transit system. Pinsky's poem, 'The Day Dreamers,' begins: 'All day all over the city every person Wanders a different city, sealed intact And haunted as the abandoned subway stations Under the city. Where is my alley doorway?' Award-winning playwright and poet Nick Flynn contributed 'Marathon,' a poignant poem he wrote in response to the 2013 marathon bombing that killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 others. In part, it reads: 'It's too soon to say we were lucky It's too soon to say anything, Until the cloud is pulled back from the sky, Until the ringing is pulled back from the bells.' Georges said she sought out poems that depict Boston in a completely unvarnished light, 'including those that address head-on such issues as race, social tensions, and cultural and class differences and positions.' Those included 'Boston Year,' a stark composition by poet and essayist Elizabeth Alexander, who is black. It begins: 'My first week in Cambridge a car full of white boys tried to run me off the road, and spit through the window, open to ask directions.' Mayor Marty Walsh said the poems give voice to a wide range of Bostonians 'as they share their truths, their hurts, their hopes and their dreams.' ___ Follow Bill Kole on Twitter at https://twitter.com/billkole. His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/William%20J.%20Kole.
  • A jury is set to hear closing arguments at the securities fraud trial of former biotech CEO and social media provocateur Martin Shkreli (SHKREL'-ee). The arguments are scheduled for Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn, with deliberations expected to begin as early as Friday. Prosecutors say Shkreli is a con man who repeatedly lied to rich investors in two hedge funds he ran into the ground. The defense says he's a misunderstood 'genius' who ended up making money for his alleged victims. Before his 2015 arrest, Shkreli was best known for jacking up the cost of a life-saving drug and trolling his critics on the internet, earning the nickname 'Pharma Bro.' In a recent Facebook post, the 34-year-old defendant called the case 'bogus.