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The sprawling economic package passed by the U.S. Senate this week has a certain West Virginia flavor. There’s the focus on energy, including billions of dollars in incentives for clean energy but also renewed support for traditional fuel sources such as coal and natural gas. Those provisions were added as the price Democrats had to pay to win West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s all-important support. And the package includes big boosts for national parks, low-income people needing health care and coal miners with black lung disease, which are all measures likely to impact Manchin’s constituents back home. Manchin is a conservative Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He was a key vote needed to pass the package and send it to the House.

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Las Vegas Raiders rookie running back Zamir White has been fighting since before he was born. Affectionately known as Zeus, the 225-pound power back weighed 1 pound when his mother was six months pregnant when doctors wanted to terminate the pregnancy. White was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate and was given two weeks to live. He tore his right ACL as a senior in high school and then his left ACL after arriving in Georgia, all within a year. He's now in a competition for a final spot on the Raiders' opening day roster after being drafted with the 122nd pick. White opened the preseason with 52 yards on 11 carries and 23 yards from three receptions in a 27-11 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Hall of Fame Game.

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The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is returning ancient sculptures and other works of art that were illegally exported from Italy. The museum announced Thursday that next month it will ship back a nearly life-size group of statues known as “Orpheus and the Sirens.” Four other pieces will follow at a later date, including a giant marble head, an incense burner, an ancient mold for making pendants and a 19th century painting. The museum says all are believed to have been illegally excavated or removed from Italy.

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New Zealand has welcomed the first cruise ship to return since the coronavirus pandemic began, signaling a long-sought return to normalcy for the nation’s tourism industry. New Zealand closed its borders in early 2020 as it sought at first to eliminate COVID-19 entirely and then later to control its spread. Although the country reopened its borders to most tourists arriving by plane in May, it wasn’t until two weeks ago that it lifted all remaining restrictions, including those on maritime arrivals. Many in the cruise industry question why it took so long.

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The Alabama Department of Archives and History is beginning the process of returning the remains of Native Americans and funerary objects to tribes. The department also announced it had removed the funerary objects from the public displays where the artifacts had sat for years to be viewed by school groups and other visitors. The 1990 federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act requires federally funded institutions, such as universities, to return Native American remains and cultural items to lineal descendants, Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations.

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Ukraine says that nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in a deadly string of explosions at an air base in Crimea that appeared to be the result of a Ukrainian attack. That would represent a significant escalation in the war. Russia denied any aircraft were damaged in Tuesday’s blasts — or that any attack took place. Ukrainian officials have stopped short of claiming responsibility for the explosions at the Saki air base. Satellite photos taken Wednesday showed damaged warplanes. In Ukraine’s east, where fighting has raged for eight years, a Russian attack on Bakhmut in the Donetsk region killed seven, wounded six and damaged stores, homes and apartment buildings, setting off fires

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President Joe Biden has arrived in South Carolina to begin what's expected to be at least a seven-day vacation with members of his family. The Bidens will be in Kiawah Island, noted for its private beach and golf resort, through Tuesday, according to Federal Aviation Administration advisories. The White House did not respond to requests to provide details on Biden’s vacation schedule, activities or when he planned to return to Washington. While Biden is in South Carolina, the House is set to vote to approve a bill full of his priorities, including the most substantial investment in history to fight climate change, some $369 billion over the decade.

Air travelers are finally getting a break on fares. The government said Wednesday that the average airfare dropped nearly 8% in July compared with June, to $311. The bad news is, that's still almost 28% higher than last July. Airlines pushed fares up for most of this year because demand was high and there are fewer flights, meaning fewer seats to sell. The airlines also blame high jet fuel prices. Fares peaked in May, when sales for summer vacations were in full swing. Travel-data researcher Hopper expects domestic U.S. fares to average $286 in August and remain at or below $300 until October, when many people book Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.

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A Sesame Street-themed park has announced the implementation of diversity and inclusion training for its employees. The announcement Tuesday follows a $25 million class-action lawsuit alleging multiple incidents of discrimination after outcry sparked from a viral video of a costumed character snubbing two 6-year-old Black girls during a parade at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania. The park, which is operated by SeaWorld Parks, says in the statement that all employees will be mandated to participate in training created to address bias, promote inclusion and prevent discrimination by the end of September. An attorney says the family of one of the 6-year-olds is expected to meet with the SeaWorld CEO on Thursday.

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Native Americans in Massachusetts are calling for a boycott of a popular living history museum featuring Colonial reenactors portraying life in Plymouth, the famous English settlement founded by the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower. Members of the state’s Wampanoag community say Plimoth Patuxet Museums doesn’t provide a “bi-cultural” experience telling both the European and Indigenous stories equally as it purports to do. They say the Native American side of the outdoor museum remains small, needs repairs and is staffed by few Native workers. A museum spokesman said the organization is planning several changes to the site but declined to elaborate.

A Black family says racism prompted a suburban Kansas City water park to cancel a private pool party for their son's birthday. Chris Evans, of Lee's Summit, says he signed a contract to have the party with about 250 guests for his 17-year-old son's birthday on Saturday at the Summit Waves park in Lee's Summit. But an official with the park told the family when they arrived that the party was canceled. The city's Parks and Recreation Department, which operates the water park, said Tuesday that officials had apologized to the family over miscommunications. It said the party was canceled solely out of concern for safety because of the potential size of the party.

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Estonia and Finland want European countries to stop issuing tourist visas to Russians amid the war in Ukraine. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said Tuesday that “visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right.” Her Finnish counterpart, Sanna Marin, says Russians traveling in Europe is "not right.” Estonia and Finland both border Russia and are members of the European Union, which banned air travel from Russia after it invaded Ukraine. But Russians can still travel by land to both countries and then take flights elsewhere in Europe. Finnish broadcaster YLE reports that Russian companies have started offering car trips to airports in Finland, which have direct connections to several Europe destinations.

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Chinese authorities have closed Tibet's famed Potala Palace after a minor outbreak of COVID-19 in the Himalayan region. The response underscores China's continued adherence to its hard-line “zero-COVID” policy, mandating lockdowns, quarantines and travel restrictions, even while most other countries have reopened. A notice on the palace's social media site said the palace that was the traditional home of Tibet's Buddhist leaders would be closed from Tuesday, with a reopening date to be announced later. Tibet's economy is heavily dependent on tourism and the Potala is a key draw. China announced over 800 new cases of domestic transmission, 22 of them in Tibet. More than 80,000 travelers remain stranded on the southern resort island of Hainan but a first planeload left Tuesday.

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Motown legends Smokey Robinson, Otis Williams and Martha Reeves were among those who celebrated the completion of the first two phases of the Motown Museum's expansion. The event took place Monday night in front of the famed “Hitsville, U.S.A.” building in Detroit. They celebrated the grand opening of Hitsville NEXT, an educational programming and creative hub, and the newly established Rocket Plaza that will serve as a community gathering place for museum visitors. Motown founder Berry Gordy's late sister, Esther Gordy Edwards, founded the museum in the former Hitsville headquarters in 1985. The museum on Sunday will welcome back visitors for tours following pandemic- and construction-related closures.

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The capital of China’s Hainan province has locked down its residents for 13 hours as a COVID-19 outbreak grows on the tropical island during the summer school holidays. More than 470 new cases were recorded in the province on Sunday. The temporary lockdown of Haikou city from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. follows an ongoing and indefinite lockdown of the beach resort of Sanya since Saturday. Some 80,000 tourists have reportedly been stranded in Sanya. Tourists wanting to leave must test negative five times over seven days. China has stuck to a “zero-COVID” approach despite the economic and social costs.

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Ending his most recent COVID-19 isolation, President Joe Biden has left the White House for the first time since becoming infected last month. He's settling in for a reunion with first lady Jill Biden in their home state of Delaware. The president tested negative Saturday and Sunday, according to his doctor, clearing the way for him to emerge from an isolation that lasted longer than expected because of a rebound case of the virus. “I’m feeling good,” Biden said before boarding Marine One outside the White House for the flight to Delaware. The Bidens are expected to spend the day in Rehoboth Beach. During his isolation in the White House residence, the first lady remained in Delaware.

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Tony Boselli looked out at all the teal-colored jerseys in the crowd and screamed: “Duuuuval!” Finally, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The first pick in Jaguars history, Boselli was among eight members of the Class of 2022 enshrined Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The Jaguars played the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL preseason opener Thursday night, so No. 71 Boselli jerseys filled the seats. A five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro left tackle, Boselli saw his career cut short by injuries. But his dominant performance earned him a gold jacket. He shouted the Jacksonville fans’ rallying cry, the name of their county, during his speech.

Native American artists, political leaders and storytellers are the final arbiters of taste and style for a traveling exhibition of pottery from the Pueblo Indian region of the Southwestern U.S. They've plucked their favorite pieces from institutional collections in New Mexico and New York that didn’t always defer to Indigenous perspectives. The outcome includes musings about the history and mysteries of pueblo pottery traditions that were refined over centuries. The exhibit builds on efforts to give greater voice to Indigenous people and acknowledge sensitivities about ancestral art and artifacts. Showings will stretch from Santa Fe to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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A 15-year-old boy made his way through the The Pro Football Hall of Fame museum, checking out the memorabilia and bronze busts before stopping to take a picture of Jen Welter’s blue-and-pink jersey to send to his younger sister. Welter became the first woman to coach an NFL game in 2015 when she joined the Arizona Cardinals as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason. The shirt, pants and sneakers she wore on the sideline in all four exhibition games are on display at a new exhibit in the Pro Football Today area of the museum.  The “Women’s Impact on Football” exhibit debuted ahead of this week’s enshrinement festivities.

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Worshippers, tourists and visitors around the world are increasingly joining virtual reality spiritual trips to some of Earth’s most sacred sites. Without ever leaving home, you can gaze at the majesty of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Or join thousands of pilgrims in Mecca as they pray and circle the cube-shaped Kaaba building at Islam’s most sacred site. Or tour the holy city of Jerusalem, to the murmur of Jewish prayers at the Western Wall and the “amens” of worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Such VR pilgrimages and religious explorations are among the many evolving spaces in the immersive virtual world known as the metaverse.

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Police in Minnesota confirm three gunshots were fired at the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis, but say no one appears to have been hurt. Bloomington police say they are searching for two people. Video posted to social media showed what appeared to be a man shouting as he walked near the complex’s Nike store, with three apparent gunshots. A mall spokesman says the mall will reopen Friday with more mall security and police on site. The mall, which opened in 1992, is the largest in the U.S. and is a tourist destination and community gathering spot.

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Cliff Branch was the epitome of what Al Davis coveted in a receiver during his decades running the Raiders. Branch arrived in Oakland with the game-breaking speed needed to fuel the Raiders' vertical offense and as soon as he learned to harness that speed and develop reliable hands, there was no stopping him. Branch became one of the best deep threats of his era with some of his biggest performances coming on the game’s biggest stages to earn a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

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The first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a Black Sea wartime deal has passed inspection in Istanbul and is heading on to Lebanon. Ukraine says 17 other vessels at its ports are loaded with grain and waiting permission to leave. There was no word yet, however, on when they could depart. Authorities said a joint civilian inspection team spent three hours Wednesday checking the cargo and crew on the ship Razoni. The wartime deal aimed to ease food security around the globe by creating a safe corridor across the Black Sea.

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Five high school students have received a prize that will enable them to share their passion for poetry in their communities and beyond, while receiving a $5,000 cash award. Students from New York City to Santa Fe, New Mexico, have been named National Student Poets, an honor presented by the National Student Poets Program. They will serve 1-year terms as “poetry ambassadors,” giving talks and presiding over workshops and other programs. The poets are 10th and 11th graders chosen from five regions out of a pool of some 22,000 applicants around the U.S.

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On a summer Saturday morning, three men raised a party tent on the terrace of the 1,600-year-old church of Osios David. They hoped it would shelter those attending the church’s festival from the heat that already shrouded the view of Mount Olympus across the gulf. That’s Thessaloniki in a snapshot. It's a seaside trove of early Christian art, with echoes of the sacred all around the city. There's the mythical mountain home of the ancient Greek gods and the contemporary Orthodox Christian monasticism of Mount Athos. Greece’s second-largest city also preserves traces of its Muslim and Jewish past. It's a perfect spot to explore religious history.

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