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US testing new fire retardant, critics push other methods

U.S. officials are testing a new wildfire retardant after two decades of buying millions of gallons annually from one supplier, but watchdogs say the expensive strategy is overly fixated on aerial attacks at the expense of hiring more fire-line digging ground crews. The Forest Service says tests started last summer are continuing this summer with a magnesium-chloride-based retardant from Fortress. Fortress contends its retardants are effective and better for the environment than products offered by Perimeter Solutions. That company says its ammonium-phosphate-based retardants are superior. The Forest Service used more than 50 million gallons of retardant for the first time in 2020 as increasingly destructive wildfires plague the West.

National and World News

High court marshal seeks enforcement of anti-picketing laws

The marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court has asked Maryland and Virginia officials to enforce laws she says prohibit picketing outside the homes of the justices who live in the two states. Marshal Gail Curley took up the issue Friday with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and two local elected officials. A Hogan spokesman said Saturday that the Republican governor had directed state police to “further review enforcement options that respect the First Amendment and the Constitution.” But he also noted that the constitutionality of the Maryland statute Curley cited has been questioned by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

Tropical Storm Colin threatens a wet weekend for Carolinas

Tropical Storm Colin is bringing the threat of rain and high winds for a day or two during the holiday weekend to both North and South Carolina. Conditions are expected to improve by Monday's July Fourth celebrations. Separately, the center of Tropical Storm Bonnie rolled into the Pacific on Saturday after a rapid march across Central America, where it caused flooding, downed trees and forced thousands of people to evacuate in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Forecasters say Bonnie is likely to become a hurricane this week off the southern coast of Mexico, but is unlikely to make a direct hit on land.

Attorneys seek Deshaun Watson NFL investigation documents

Attorneys for multiple women suing Deshaun Watson over sexual misconduct are seeking the documents from the NFL’s investigation into the former Houston Texans quarterback. According to the motion filed Friday by the women’s attorneys, the legal team seeks any and all reports and files from the NFL’s investigation into Watson. That includes recorded interviews, witness statements and communications. Watson, who was later traded to the Cleveland Browns, has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name. He is facing discipline from the NFL over the allegations. In June, Watson settled 20 of 24 lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct.

Texas clinics halt abortions after state high court ruling

Clinics are shutting down abortion services in Texas after the Supreme Court in the nation's second-largest state blocked an order that briefly allowed the procedure to resume in some cases. It's the latest development in legal scrambles taking place across the country following the reversal of reversal of Roe v. Wade. The Friday night ruling stopped a three-day-old order allowing abortions to resume up to six weeks into pregnancy. On Saturday, the American Civil Liberties Union said it doubted that any abortions were now being provided in the state. One provider, Whole Woman’s Health, says the ruling forced it to stop offering the procedure in its four Texas clinics.

Man found at Taylor Swift properties faces stalking charges

A 35-year-old New York man is facing trespassing and stalking charges after authorities said he entered two New York City residences linked to the famed singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. Police say the suspect entered a Tribeca residential building linked to Swift on March 26. Authorities say he fled on foot when security told him to leave. On June 12, police say the same man entered another residential building on the same street linked to Swift and “made threats through the intercom toward a 32-year-old female." He was arrested Friday. The 32-year-old Swift has had prior issues with alleged stalkers. In 2018, police said a man broke into her Tribeca townhouse and took a nap.

Russians press assault on eastern Ukrainian city

Russian forces are pounding the city of Lysychansk and its surroundings in an all-out attempt to seize the last stronghold of resistance in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province. The regional governor said Saturday that Russians "opened fire from all available kinds of weapons” in the last day.  A presidential adviser said its fate will be decided within the next two days. Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend the city and to keep it from falling to Russia, as neighboring Sievierodonetsk did a week ago. Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk are the two provinces that make up the Donbas region, where Russia has focused its offensive since the spring.

Flamethrower used to torch Pan-African flag flying on pole

A person used a flamethrower set fire to a Pan-African flag flying on a pole outside the headquarters of a Black international socialist group based in Florida. Security video released by the Uhuru Movement shows the driver of a white sedan pulling up outside the group’s St. Petersburg headquarters on Saturday morning. The driver pulls a flame thrower from the trunk and shoots a tower of fire at the flag flying 30 feet above the ground. The group says the driver stopped when a worker inside the building yelled at him. The video shows the person putting the flamethrower back in the trunk and then driving away. Police are investigating.

Uvalde schools' police chief resigns from City Council

The Uvalde school district’s police chief has stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn in following allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Chief Pete Arredondo told the Uvalde Leader-News Friday that his resignation is “the best decision for Uvalde.” He was elected to the District 3 council position on May 7 and sworn in on May 31. The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety told a Senate hearing last month that Arredondo made “terrible decisions” as the massacre unfolded on May 24 , and that the police response was an “abject failure.”