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Kathy Gannon has reported on Afghanistan for the AP for the past 35 years, during an extraordinary series of events and regime changes that have rocked the world. Through it all, the kindness and resilience of ordinary Afghans have shone through for her – which is also what has made it so painful for her, she says, to watch the slow erosion of their hope. Gannon says she has always been amazed at how Afghans stubbornly hung on to hope against all odds, greeting each of several new regimes with optimism. But by 2018, a Gallup poll showed that the fraction of people in Afghanistan with hope in the future was the lowest ever recorded anywhere. It didn’t have to be this way, Gannon says.

AP

WNBA star Brittney Griner has gone on trial in a Russian court on charges of possessing cannabis oil. Griner was arrested in February at a Moscow airport while traveling to play for a Russian team. The Phoenix Mercury center and two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. The next session was set for July 7. A U.S. Embassy official who was in court said she spoke with Griner, who “is doing as well as can be expected in these difficult circumstances.” Her case comes at an extraordinarily low point in Moscow-Washington relations. Griner was arrested less than a week before Russia sent troops into Ukraine, which aggravated already high tensions.

AP
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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has received Communion during a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, despite her position in support of abortion rights. Pelosi attended the morning Mass on Wednesday marking the feasts of St. Peter and St. Paul. Two people who witnessed the moment said she received Communion along with the rest of the congregants. Pelosi also met with Pope Francis before Mass and received his blessing, according to one of the people. Pelosi’s home archbishop has said he will no longer allow her to receive the sacrament in his archdiocese because of her support for abortion rights.

AP
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The U.S. envoy to Israel has moved into a new rental property in Jerusalem. The new digs come after two years of house-hunting in the wake of then-President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to shift the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since then, the United States has been searching for a permanent residence in the Holy City. But in the tight real estate market, it has been difficult to find something suitable. That's just one of the ways that Trump’s Mideast legacy endures. The new ambassador, Tom Nides, quietly moved into the rental home last spring. Real estate agents estimate the value of the luxury property at about $23 million.

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WNBA star Brittney Griner tried to call her wife nearly a dozen times through the American embassy in Russia on the couple’s fourth anniversary Saturday, but they never connected since the phone line at the embassy was not staffed. That's according to Cherelle Griner, who tells the Associated Press that the couple has not spoken by phone in the four months since Griner’s arrest in Russia on drug-related charges. That was to have changed Saturday, when a long-awaited call was to have finally taken place. But the day came and went without any contact, leaving an anguished Cherelle Griner to wonder what went wrong.

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In this image from video, Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks to The Associated Press Monday, June 20, 2022. Brittney Griner tried to call her wife nearly a dozen times through the American embassy in Russia on the couple's fourth anniversary Saturday, but they never connected since the phone line at the embassy was not staffed, Cherelle Griner said Monday. (AP Photo)

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In this image from video, Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks to The Associated Press Monday, June 20, 2022. Brittney Griner tried to call her wife nearly a dozen times through the American embassy in Russia on the couple's fourth anniversary Saturday, but they never connected since the phone line at the embassy was not staffed, Cherelle Griner said Monday. (AP Photo)

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President Joe Biden will make his first trip to the Middle East next month with visits to Israel, the occupied West Bank and Saudi Arabia. The White House on Tuesday announced the outline of Biden's July 13-16 Middle East trip. The decision to pay a call on Saudi leaders comes after Biden as a Democratic presidential candidate branded the kingdom a “pariah” because of its human rights record and pledged to recalibrate the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Biden plans to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who U.S. intelligence officials determined ordered the 2018 killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudis say they look forward to welcoming Biden.