Social Democrats beat Merkel's bloc in German elections
BERLIN (AP) — The center-left Social Democrats have won the biggest share of the vote in Germany’s national election, beating outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc in a closely fought race.
Election officials said early Monday that a count of all 299 constituencies showed the Social Democrats won 25.9% of the vote, ahead of 24.1% for the Union bloc.
The environmentalist Greens came third with 14.8% followed by the pro-business Free Democrats with 11.5%. The two parties have already signaled that they are willing to discuss forging a three-way alliance with either of their two bigger rivals to form a government.
The far-right Alternative for Germany came fourth in Sunday’s vote with 10.3%, while the Left party took 4.9%.
For the first time since 1949, the Danish minority party SSW was set to win a seat in parliament, officials said.
Investigators probe deadly Amtrak derailment in Montana
JOPLIN, Mont. (AP) — A team of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board was at the site of an Amtrak derailment in north-central Montana that killed three people and left seven hospitalized Sunday, officials said.
The westbound Empire Builder was en route from Chicago to Seattle when it left the tracks about 4 p.m. Saturday near Joplin, a town of about 200.
Trevor Fossen was first on the scene. The Joplin resident was on a dirt road nearing the tracks Saturday when he saw “a wall of dust" about 300 feet high.
"I started looking at that, wondering what it was and then I saw the train had tipped over and derailed,” said Fossen, who called 911 and started trying to get people out. He called his brother to bring ladders for people who couldn't get down after exiting through the windows of cars resting on their sides.
The train was carrying about 141 passengers and 16 crew members and had two locomotives and 10 cars, eight of which derailed, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said.
Haitians returning to a homeland that's far from welcoming
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Deported from the United States, Pierre Charles landed a week ago in Port-au-Prince, a capital more dangerous and dystopian than the one he’d left four years before. Unable to reach his family, he left the airport alone, on foot.
Charles was unsure how to make his way to the Carrefour neighborhood through a city shrouded in smoke and dust, often tolling with gunfire from gangs and police. On the airport road, the 39-year-old laborer tried unsuccessfully to flag down packed buses. He asked motorcycle drivers to take him but was told again and again that the trip was too risky.
Finally, someone agreed to take him as far as a bus stop.
“I know there are barricades and shootings,” Charles said as he took off into the unknown, “but I have nowhere else to go.”
'Moulin Rouge! The Musical' sashays home with 10 Tony Awards
NEW YORK (AP) — “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive 2001 movie, won the best new musical crown at the Tony Awards on a Sunday night when Broadway looked back to honor shows shuttered by COVID-19, mourn its fallen and also look forward to welcoming audiences again.
The show about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub, updated with tunes like “Single Ladies” and “Firework” alongside the big hit “Lady Marmalade,” won 10 Tonys. The record is 12, won by “The Producers.”
Producer Carmen Pavlovic said after what Broadway has been through the last 18 months it felt strange to be considered the best. She dedicated the award to every show that closed, opened, nearly opened or was fortunate to be reborn.
“The Inheritance” by Matthew Lopez was named the best new play, and Charles Fuller’s “A Soldier’s Play” won best play revival.
Lopez's two-part, seven-hour epic uses “Howards End” as a starting point for a play that looks at gay life in the early 21st century. It also yielded wins for Andrew Burnap as best actor in a play, Stephen Daldry as best director, and Lois Smith as best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play.
Pelosi vows to pass $1T bill, move ahead on larger measure
WASHINGTON (AP) — With President Joe Biden’s broad domestic agenda at risk of collapse, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday vowed that Democrats will pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill this week and push ahead on the bigger $3.5 trillion social safety net and climate change bill while acknowledging the total amount will drop.
Biden spoke with lawmakers over the weekend on the path forward, according to a White House official who requested anonymity to discuss the private conversations. Extensive work was being done behind the scenes to shore up support.
When asked Sunday if Pelosi had the votes to pass the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, Biden told reporters at the White House, “It’s going to take the better part of this week.”
Pelosi had originally pledged to House moderates a vote on the infrastructure legislation by Monday, but she said Sunday in a letter to colleagues that vote will now be Thursday. With Democratic divisions, the extra time allowed space for negotiations on the broader bill, so both bills could advance. The $1 trillion infrastructure plan passed the Senate last month.
“Let me just say that we’re going to pass the bill this week,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said earlier Sunday on ABC's “This Week.” She added: “I’m never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn’t have the votes. You cannot choose the date. You have to go when you have the votes in a reasonable time, and we will.”
US has enough COVID-19 vaccines for boosters, kids' shots
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — With more than 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines available, U.S. health authorities said they're confident there will be enough for both qualified older Americans seeking booster shots and the young children for whom initial vaccines are expected to be approved in the not-too-distant future.
The spike in demand — expected following last week's federal recommendation on booster shots — would be the first significant jump in months. More than 70 million Americans remain unvaccinated despite the enticement of lottery prizes, free food or gifts and pleas from exhausted health care workers as the average number of deaths per day climbed to more than 1,900 in recent weeks.
Federal and state health authorities said current supply and steady production of more doses can easily accommodate those seeking boosters or initial vaccination, avoiding a repeat of the frustratingly slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across the country early this year.
“I hope that we have the level of interest in the booster ... that we need more vaccines,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday. “That's simply not where we are today. We have plenty of vaccines.”
Robust supply in the U.S enabled President Joe Biden this week to promise an additional 500 million of Pfizer's COVID-19 shots to share with the world, doubling the United States' global contribution. Aid groups and health organizations have pushed the U.S. and other countries to improve vaccine access in countries where even the most vulnerable people haven't had a shot.
Liz Cheney: `I was wrong' in opposing gay marriage in past
WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Liz Cheney says she was wrong to oppose gay marriage in the past, a stand that once split her family.
Cheney, R-Wyo., a fierce critic of fellow Republican Donald Trump, also tells CBS News' “60 Minutes” that she views her reelection campaign as the most important House race in the nation as forces aligned with the former president try to unseat her. She voted to impeach Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In the interview aired Sunday night, Cheney said she had little affection for President Joe Biden, who she believes has embraced harmful polices for the economy and national security with the Afghanistan withdrawal. “But the alternative cannot be a man who doesn’t believe in the rule of law, and who violated his oath of office,” Cheney said.
The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney was an ascendant Republican leader before the Jan. 6 riot, yet she is increasingly defined by her public opposition to Trump and his hold on the GOP. Cheney, 55, noted that she still talks with her father every night and that they share the same views on rejecting Trump.
Liz Cheney famously broke with her family in 2013 by opposing gay marriage ahead of a failed Senate bid. Her objections caused a rift with her sister, Mary, a married lesbian. Mary's spouse, Heather Poe, posted on Facebook that year that Cheney's position was offensive and that “I always thought freedom meant freedom for EVERYONE.”
Rolling Stones open American tour, pay tribute to drummer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Rolling Stones are touring again, this time without their heartbeat, or at least their backbeat.
The legendary rockers launched their pandemic-delayed “No Filter” tour Sunday at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis without their drummer of nearly six decades. It was clear from the outset just how much the band members — and the fans — missed Charlie Watts, who died last month at age 80. Except for a private show in Massachusetts last week, the St. Louis concert was their first since Watts' death.
The show opened with an empty stage and only a drumbeat, with photos of Watts flashing on the video board. After the second song, a rousing rendition of “It's Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It),” Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood came to the front of the stage. Jagger and Richards clasped hands as they thanked fans for the outpouring of support and love for Watts. Jagger acknowledged it was emotional seeing the photos of Watts.
“This is our first-ever tour we've ever done without him,” Jagger said. “We'll miss Charlie so much, on and off the stage.”
The band then dedicated “Tumbling Dice” to Watts.
So close! Iceland almost gets female-majority parliament
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Iceland briefly celebrated electing a female-majority parliament Sunday, before a recount produced a result just short of that landmark for gender parity in the North Atlantic island nation.
The initial vote count had female candidates winning 33 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, the Althing, in an election that saw centrist parties make the biggest gains.
Hours later, a recount in western Iceland changed the outcome, leaving female candidates with 30 seats, a tally previously reached at Iceland's second most recent election, in 2016. Still, at almost 48% of the total, that is the highest percentage for women lawmakers in Europe.
Only a handful of countries, none of them in Europe, have a majority of female lawmakers. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Rwanda leads the world with women making up 61% of its Chamber of Deputies, with Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico on or just over the 50% mark. Worldwide, the organization says just over a quarter of legislators are women.
“The female victory remains the big story of these elections,” politics professor Olafur Hardarson told broadcaster RUV after the recount.
Americans win Ryder Cup in a rout, send Europe a message
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — Steve Stricker hoisted the Ryder Cup, gold and glorious, for all to see. Then, he quickly huddled his young American team together to make sure all 12 players had their hands on it.
Nine of them had never touched the 17-inch trophy in a moment of celebration.
They don't expect it to be the last time, either.
More than just winning back the Ryder Cup on Sunday, the youngest U.S. team in history handed Europe its worst loss and delivered a strong message about how serious it is about changing the tone of these matches.
Daniel Berger won the final hole in the final match for the final point in a 19-9 victory, breaking by a half-point the record margin since Europe became part of the Ryder Cup in 1979.