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With ceremonies over, King Charles III faces biggest task

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With ceremonies over, King Charles III faces biggest task

LONDON (AP) — The cannons have sounded, the bells have rung and the mourners have paid their respects.

Now King Charles III faces the task of preserving a 1,000-year-old monarchy that his mother nurtured for seven decades but that faces an uncertain future. The challenge is immense.

Personal affection for the queen meant that the monarchy’s role in British society was rarely debated in recent years. But now that she’s gone, the royal family faces questions about whether it is still relevant in a modern, multicultural nation that looks very different than it did when Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952.

Amid a global re-examination of the history of colonialism and slavery that has seen protesters tear down or deface statues in British cities and universities like Oxford and Cambridge change their course offerings, an institution that was once the symbol of the British Empire is likely to face renewed scrutiny.

Charles will try to “maintain continuity” while also signaling that the royals are prepared to change, said Anna Whitelock, a professor of history of modern monarchy at City University London. But he faces a raft of questions.

“What place does a monarchy have in a multi-faith, multi-ethnic society?” Whitelock asked. “And is it the right rallying point for the nation? And should it be the monarch representing the U.K. abroad? What does it say about us? Is it a bastion of tradition that people should applaud? Or is it actually a check on progress that actually doesn’t represent the inclusive, diverse society that people would hope that Britain would now become?”

And there is another, more personal, question lurking in the background: Is a 73-year-old white man the best person to confront those issues?

Charles waited longer than any other heir to take the throne and in many ways embodies the modernization of the monarchy. He was the first monarch not educated at home, the first to earn a university degree and the first to grow up in the ever-intensifying glare of the media as deference to royalty faded.

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He has been lauded as an early advocate of the environmental movement and won praise for working to improve the lives of young people in underprivileged communities.

But he also has a reputation, perhaps undeserved, as a somewhat stuffy older man who is more at home on the polo field or one of his country estates than the soccer-mad cities of modern Britain.

Charles also alienated many people with his messy divorce from the much-loved Princess Diana, and by straining the rules that bar royals from intervening in public affairs, wading into debates on issues such as environmental protection and architectural preservation.

As the U.K. mourned his mother, it quickly became clear that Charles was ready to be a more personal monarch. He has made a point of wading into the crowds of well wishers, stopping to shake hands and exchange a few words, more like a U.S. presidential candidate appealing for votes than a king who inherited the crown from a line of ancestors stretching back to 1066.

One woman even kissed him — a level of familiarity no one would have dared with Elizabeth.

At Monday’s state funeral for the late queen, Bertram Leon embodied the challenges facing Charles.

A proud Briton whose roots stretch back to the Windrush generation of immigrants who came to the U.K. from the Caribbean after World War II, Leon was at Westminster Abbey to represent the St. Lucian community in honoring the queen. Now he expects Charles to take the monarchy in a new direction.

“The king is actually going to change, perhaps modernize the monarchy in the image that he thinks in the current day,” Leon said, his British Empire Medal pinned to his chest. “We can’t live back in the 1920s, ’30s or ’50s, when Elizabeth took over. We are now in the 21st century, and I think things are going to be regarded and looked at a bit different.”

In addition to being king of the United Kingdom, Charles is head of state for 14 “realms” that retained the monarch as their sovereign after gaining independence from the former British Empire. It is in these far-flung nations, which stretch from Australia and New Zealand to the Caribbean that Charles may face his first challenges.

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The pressures were clear earlier this year when Prince William and his wife, Kate, faced calls for a royal apology and reparations for slavery during a trip to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas to celebrate the queen’s 70 years on the throne.

During that visit, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the royals that his country was “moving on,” a few months after Barbados severed its ties with the monarchy.

The royals have also faced criticism from within after Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, gave up royal duties and moved to California. In a widely publicized interview with U.S. television host Oprah Winfrey earlier this year, the couple alleged that palace had been insensitive toward Meghan, who is bi-racial, and that a member of the royal family had asked about the color of their first child’s skin before he was born.

Charles sought to address the tensions at home and abroad in his first address as king.

“Wherever you may live in the United Kingdom, or in the realms and territories across the world, and whatever may be your background or beliefs, I shall endeavor to serve you with loyalty, respect and love, as I have throughout my life,” he said.

Charles also confronted concerns about how he would conduct himself as king.

The laws and traditions that govern Britain’s constitutional monarchy dictate that the sovereign must stay out of partisan politics, but Charles has spent much of his adult life speaking out on issues that are important to him, particularly the environment.

His words have caused friction with politicians and business leaders who accused the then-Prince of Wales of meddling in issues on which he should have remained silent.

The question is whether Charles will follow his mother’s example and muffle his personal opinions now that he is king, or use his new platform to reach a broader audience.

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“My life will, of course, change as I take up my new responsibilities,” Charles said. “It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply. But I know this important work will go on in the trusted hands of others.”

The king has been clear that he intends to slim down the monarchy, limiting the number of working royals and reducing the expense of supporting them.

But for 10 days, Britain spared no expense as it honored Elizabeth, who became a comforting symbol of stability over the tumultuous years of her long reign.

All the spectacle that has become synonymous with the royals was on display as uniformed members of the royal family walked solemnly behind a gun carriage carrying the queen’s coffin away from Buckingham Palace, cannons and church bells sounded in lament and world leaders filled Westminster Abbey for her funeral.

But it was pageantry with a purpose, celebrating the queen’s life while also reminding the public of the monarchy’s role in public life and linking the people to the royal family in their time of shared grief.

“People often criticize the British monarchy or even laugh at it as pomp and circumstance and emptiness,” said historian Robert Lacey, author of “Majesty: Elizabeth II and the House of Windsor.”

“Well, an occasion like this shows it’s not emptiness, that the pomp and circumstance stands for something.”

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

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Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

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Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
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Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

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A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

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“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

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Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

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Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

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The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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