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US-Backed Forces Take IS Capital…Senate Approves Budget Plan…Kelly Defends Trump’s Call to Widow

BEIRUT (AP) – A U.S.-backed Syrian force has declared victory over the Islamic State group in its former “capital” of Raqqa, declaring the city free of any extremist presence. At a press conference held inside the city Friday, the Kurdish-led force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces formally handed over administration of the city in northern Syria to a council made up of local officials and tribal leaders.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Republicans must shift their focus to enacting President Donald Trump’s sweeping tax plan, a far heavier lift than the $4 trillion budget plan they’ve muscled through the Senate to lay the groundwork for the first tax overhaul in three decades. The Senate on Thursday narrowly approved the budget plan, methodically working through a pack of amendments and rebuffing Democrats’ successive attempts to reshape the blueprint and derail the tax cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) – White House chief of staff John Kelly is defending Donald Trump against a congresswoman’s accusations that the president was insensitive to a grieving military family. Kelly started his remarks Thursday by describing the reverent handling of America’s war dead and recalling the 2010 death of his own son in Afghanistan. He lamented what he said was lost respect for military service, women, authority and more. And he personally absolved Trump of blame.

ALTUN KUPRI, Iraq (AP) – Iraqi and Kurdish forces are exchanging fire at the border between federal and Kurdish lands, days after Kurds withdrew from disputed territories across northern Iraq. Iraqi artillery forces are shelling Kurdish military positions north and south of the town of Altun Kupri.

NEW DELHI (AP) – Environmental pollutants are killing at least 9 million people and costing the world $4.6 trillion a year. That global death toll is higher than the number of people killed from war, smoking, hunger or natural disasters. But even that estimate from a new study is conservative, and researchers say it will undoubtedly rise as more research is done on the topic. Still, they say pollution receives scant attention from global policy makers.

Another Victim of Cuba Sonic Attacks…Maryland Office Shooter Captured…Catalonian Independence Leaders Jailed

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Chris Allen’s sudden loss of feeling in his limbs on a private visit to Cuba three years ago puts him on of a growing list of Americans asking themselves if they, too, were victims of the mysterious attacks in Havana. There is no proof that Allen’s symptoms are connected to the 22 “medically confirmed” cases the U.S. government speaks about. But fear alone that the inexplicable attacks could spread to tourists is already further straining U.S.-Cuban ties.

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump’s political brawl over his role as consoler-in-chief is a remarkable contrast with his Memorial Day tribute to U.S. personnel lost to war. Trump this week drew the death of White House chief of staff John Kelly’s son into a political attack on President Barack Obama, infuriating some in the military community. On Memorial Day, Trump quietly visited the grave of Robert Kelly, a Marine killed in Afghanistan.

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – A multistate manhunt that kept the Mid-Atlantic region on alert for more than 10 hours ended when officers on foot chased down a man they say shot six people, killing three, in two separate shootings. Police in Maryland and Delaware say 37-year-old Radee Prince shot five co-workers Wednesday at a granite company in Maryland, then drove to Wilmington, Delaware, and shot an acquaintance. Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy says police and federal agents arrested Prince in Wilmington.

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Civil society groups in Catalonia are calling for new protests over the jailing of their pro-independence leaders by Spanish authorities. Spain’s National Court ordered the leaders of Assemblea Nacional Catalana and Omnium Cultural, the grassroots organizations behind the separatist bid, to be held for allegedly orchestrating protests in mid-September that hindered a judicial investigation into preparations for the banned Oct. 1 referendum.

BEIRUT (AP) – The Middle East may have turned a page with the defeat of the Islamic State group in its self-declared capital of Raqqa, but the future is looking even more tangled, and potentially as violent. The downfall of a common enemy could open up cracks in temporary alliances created to fight the extremist group, and rivalries for influence are now likely to take central stage.