Turkey’s President Formally Makes Hagia Sophia a Mosque

The president of Turkey on Friday formally converted Istanbul’s sixth-century Hagia Sophia back into a mosque and declared it open for Muslim worship, hours after a high court annulled a 1934 decision that had made the religious landmark a museum.

The decision sparked deep dismay among Orthodox Christians. Originally a cathedral, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque after Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottoman Empire but had been a museum for the last 86 years, drawing millions of tourists annually.

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Homeland Security Gets New Role Under Trump Monument Order

Protesters who have clashed with authorities in the Pacific Northwest are not just confronting local police. Some are also facing off against federal officers whose presence reflects President Donald Trump’s decision to make cracking down on “violent mayhem” a federal priority.

The Department of Homeland Security has deployed officers in tactical gear from around the country, and from more than a half-dozen federal law enforcement agencies and departments, to Portland, Oregon, as part of a surge aimed at what a senior official said were people taking advantage of demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd to engage in violence and vandalism.

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Judge Blocks Removal of More Confederate Statues in Richmond

A judge issued an injunction Thursday barring the city of Richmond from removing any more Confederate monuments, a process that began last week after Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the statues cleared away amid weeks of protests over police brutality and racism.

Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley Cavedo issued the decision after a hearing in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by an unnamed plaintiff, local media outlets reported. The lawsuit asked for an emergency injunction to halt the removal of the statues and alleged that Stoney violated state law by ordering their immediate removal.

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Trump Commutes Longtime Friend Roger Stone’s Prison Sentence

President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime political confidant Roger Stone on Friday, just days before he was set to report to prison. Democrats denounced the move as just another in a series of unprecedented interventions by the president in the nation’s justice system.

Stone had been sentenced in February to three years and four months in prison for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. He was set to report to prison by Tuesday.

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The Supreme Court Keeps Trump Taxes Private for Now

Rejecting President Donald Trump’s complaints that he’s being harassed, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of a New York prosecutor’s demands for the billionaire president’s tax records. But in good political news for Trump, his taxes and other financial records almost certainly will be kept out of the public eye at least until after the November election.

In a separate case, the justices kept a hold on banking and other documents about Trump, family members and his businesses that Congress has been seeking for more than a year. The court said that while Congress has significant power to demand the president’s personal information, it is not limitless.

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US Sanctions Chinese Officials Over Repression of Minorities

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on three senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party, including a member of the ruling Politburo, for alleged human rights abuses targeting ethnic and religious minorities that China has detained in the western part of the country.

The decision to bar these senior officials from entering the U.S. is the latest of a series of actions the Trump administration has taken against China as relations deteriorate over the coronavirus pandemic, human rights, Hong Kong and trade. Just a day earlier, the administration had announced visa bans against officials deemed responsible for barring foreigners’ access to Tibet. Thursday’s step, however, hits a more senior level of leadership and is likely to draw a harsh response from Beijing.

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Missing Seoul Mayor’s Body Found After Massive Search

The missing mayor of South Korea’s capital, reportedly embroiled in sexual harassment allegations, was found dead early Friday, more than half a day after giving his daughter a will-like message and then leaving home, police said.

Police said they located Park Won-soon’s body near a traditional restaurant in wooded hills in northern Seoul, more than seven hours after they launched a massive search for him.

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In a 7-2 Decision, Supreme Court Says Congress Can’t Get Trump Records – For Now

The Supreme Court on Thursday kept a hold on President Donald Trump’s financial records that Congress has been seeking for more than a year. The ruling returns the case to lower courts, with no clear prospect for when the case might ultimately be resolved.

The 7-2 outcome is at least a short-term victory for Trump, who has strenuously sought to keep his financial records private.

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Harvard, MIT Sue to Block ICE Rule on International Students

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday challenging the Trump administration’s decision to bar international students from staying in the U.S. if they take classes entirely online this fall.

The lawsuit, filed in Boston’s federal court, seeks to prevent federal immigration authorities from enforcing the rule. The universities contend that the directive violates the Administrative Procedures Act because officials failed to offer a reasonable basis justifying the policy and because the public was not given notice to comment on it.

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Exhausted Cities Face Another Challenge: A Surge in Violence

Still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and street protests over the police killing of George Floyd, exhausted cities around the nation are facing yet another challenge: a surge in shootings that has left dozens dead, including young children.

The spike defies easy explanation, experts say, pointing to the toxic mix of issues facing America in 2020: an unemployment rate not seen in a generation, a pandemic that has killed more than 130,000 people, stay-at-home orders, rising anger over police brutality, intense stress, even the weather.

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United Will Warn 36,000 Workers They Could be Laid Off

United Airlines is warning 36,000 employees – nearly half its U.S. staff – they could be furloughed in October, the clearest signal yet of how deeply the virus pandemic is hurting the airline industry.

The outlook for a recovery in air travel has dimmed in just the past two weeks, as infection rates rise in much of the U.S. and some states impose new quarantine requirements on travelers.

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Protective Gear for Medical Workers Begins to Run Low Again

The personal protective gear that was in dangerously short supply during the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is running low again as the virus resumes its rapid spread and the number of hospitalized patients climbs.

A national nursing union is concerned that gear has to be reused. A doctors association warns that physicians’ offices are closed because they cannot get masks and other supplies. And Democratic members of Congress are pushing the Trump administration to devise a national strategy to acquire and distribute gear in anticipation of the crisis worsening into the fall.

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Brazil’s President Bolsonaro Tests Positive for COVID-19

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said Tuesday he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the coronavirus’s severity while deaths mounted rapidly inside the country.

The 65-year-old populist who has been known to mingle in crowds without covering his face confirmed the results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters huddled close in front of him in the capital, Brasilia. He said he is taking hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that has not been proven effective against COVID-19.

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Richmond Removes Statue of Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart

Work crews on Tuesday took down a monument to Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, the third major statue to be cleared away in less than a week as the Confederacy’s former capital rushes to remove symbols of oppression in response to protests against police brutality and racism.

As a crowd cheered, crews strapped the huge bronze equestrian statue in harnesses and used a crane to lift it from its granite base to be trucked away. Some in the crowd chanted “Black Lives Matter” after the statue was removed. One person sang, “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye.”

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Abolitionist, Advisor to President Abraham Lincoln – Frederick Douglass Statue Vandalized in New York Park

Police in Rochester were trying to determine Monday who ripped a statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass from its base on the anniversary of one of his most famous speeches, delivered in the upstate New York city in 1852.

The statue of Douglass was taken on Sunday from Maplewood Park, a site along the Underground Railroad where Douglass and Harriet Tubman helped shuttle slaves to freedom. The statue was found at the brink of the Genesee River gorge about 50 feet from its pedestal, police said. There was damage to the base and a finger.

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Gov. DeWine’s Company, Which Owns a Minor Baseball Team in North Carolina, Gets Loan from Federal Virus Aid Program

A company partly owned by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is among those that received loans from a $600 billion-plus coronavirus aid program.

The data released Monday shows DeWine Seeds-Silver Dollar Baseball received a loan under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program for a range of $150,000 to $350,000.

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Wall Street Rises Again, Joins Worldwide Upswell for Markets

New York Stock Exchange

Wall Street joined a worldwide upswell by markets on Monday, as stocks push higher on hopes that the economy can continue its dramatic turnaround despite all the challenges ahead.

The S&P 500 was 1.59% higher in afternoon trading, following up on similar gains in Europe and Asia. The headliner was China’s market, which leaped 5.7% for its biggest gain since 2015, when it was in the midst of a bubble bursting. Treasury yields also climbed in a signal of rising optimism after reports detailed improvements in the U.S. and European economies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 459 points, or 1.78%, at 26,287. The biggest companies once again led the way, and strength for Apple, Amazon and other tech-oriented titans helped push the Nasdaq composite up 2.21% toward another record.

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Officer Shot and Killed, Suspect Found Dead in Ohio

Toledo Officer Anthony Dia was shot in the chest just after midnight in the parking lot of a Home Depot, and later pronounced dead at a hospital, Police Chief George Kral said at a news conference.

Witnesses told police the man shot the officer with a handgun and then went into a wooded area. At some point, officers heard a single gunshot coming from the woods, Kral said. The gunman, only described as a 57-year-old white male, was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound to the head around 3:15 a.m.

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Bellagio Error May Be Biggest Sportsbook Loss for Las Vegas

The nearly quarter-million dollars in winning wagers reportedly placed at MGM Resorts last Sunday might be the largest sportsbook loss in Las Vegas history on bets made after an event has started.

Seven longtime Las Vegas bookmakers can’t recall a larger loss, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. But each oddsmaker has taken hits on past posts and said it’s a fairly common occurrence at books.

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Despite Supreme Court Win, Energy Companies Cancel $8 Billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The developers of the long-delayed, $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline announced the cancellation of the multi-state natural gas project Sunday, citing uncertainties about costs, permitting and litigation.

Despite a victory last month at the United States Supreme Court over a critical permit, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy said in a news release that “recent developments have created an unacceptable layer of uncertainty and anticipated delays” for the 600-mile project designed to cross West Virginia and Virginia into North Carolina.

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Activist Leaves Hong Kong After New Law to Advocate Abroad

Prominent Hong Kong democracy activist Nathan Law has left the city for an undisclosed location after testifying in a U.S. congressional hearing about a tough new security law imposed by mainland China on the semi-autonomous territory.

Law, who declined to disclose his whereabouts for safety, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday that he left because Hong Kong needs an advocate for democracy who can work internationally.

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Ohio School District Dropping Redskins Name for Sports Teams

An Ohio school district has decided that its high school sports teams should no longer be known as the Redskins.

The Forest Hills Board of Education voted 4-1 on Thursday to “retire” the name and mascot at Anderson High School. A new name has not been chosen, and officials plan to soon announce a timeline and process for how a new name and mascot will be selected.

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Iran Declines to Disclose Cause of Mysterious Nuke Site Fire

An online video and messages purportedly claiming responsibility for a fire that analysts say damaged a centrifuge assembly plant at Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear site deepened the mystery Friday around the incident — even as Tehran insisted it knew the cause but would not make it public due to “security reasons.”

The multiple, different claims by a self-described group called the “Cheetahs of the Homeland” included language used by several exiled Iranian opposition organizations. They also focused almost entirely on Iran’s nuclear program, viewed by Israel as a danger to its very existence.

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PG&E Exits Bankruptcy, Pays $5 Billion into Wildfire Fund

Pacific Gas & Electric has emerged from a contentious bankruptcy saga that began after its long-neglected electrical grid ignited wildfires in California that killed more than 100 people.

The nation’s largest utility announced Wednesday it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and paid $5.4 billion in initial funds and 22.19% of its stock into a trust for victims of wildfires caused by its outdated equipment.

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AP Source: NFL to Play Black Anthem Before National Anthem

“Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” will be performed live or played before “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to each NFL game during Week 1 and the league is considering putting names of victims of police brutality on helmet decals or jersey patches, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press.

The person said the league is working collaboratively with players to recognize victims of systemic racism throughout the season in a variety of ways. The person spoke to the AP on Thursday on condition of anonymity because discussions between the league and the NFL Players Association are ongoing.

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As Americans Gather at Rushmore to Hear Trump, Protesters Set Roadblocks

President Donald Trump planned a fiery Mount Rushmore speech Friday night including denunciations of protesters he says are trying to “tear down” the nation’s history. He’s adding the condemnation of those who pull down statues to a big fireworks show and his more traditional July Fourth praise of America’s past and values.

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US Tries to Seize Iranian Gas Heading Toward Venezuela

U.S. federal prosecutors are seeking to seize four tankers sailing toward Venezuela with gasoline supplied by Iran, the latest attempt to disrupt ever-closer trade ties between the two heavily sanctioned anti-American allies.

The civil-forfeiture complaint filed late Wednesday in the District of Columbia federal court alleges that the sale was arranged by a businessman, Mahmoud Madanipour, with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.

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FBI Arrests Epstein Pal, Accused of Enabling Abuse of Girls

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested Thursday on charges she helped lure at least three girls — one as young as 14 — to be sexually abused by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of victimizing dozens of girls and women over many years.

According to the indictment, Maxwell, who lived for years with Epstein and was his frequent companion on trips around the world, facilitated his crimes and on some occasions joined him in sexually abusing the girls.

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Stocks Rise on Jobs Data, S&P 500 Ends Week with Solid Gain

Stocks are closing higher Thursday after a report showed the U.S. job market continues to climb out of the crater created by the coronavirus pandemic in the spring. The S&P 500 rose 0.45% and finished the holiday-shortened week with a gain of 4%. Stocks also rose across Europe and Asia, while oil prices strengthened on hopes that a recovering economy will mean more demand. Worries about the virus are still weighing on investors, however. Florida reported another sharp increase in confirmed cases, helping to cut the S&P 500′s earlier gains by more than half. The bond market was also showing continued caution.

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Insurer Centene Plans 3,200 Jobs at New N.C. Regional Hub

Government health insurance provider Centene Corp. said on Wednesday it will build an East Coast campus in Charlotte, North Carolina, developing a $1 billion construction project that’s expected to create more than 3,200 new jobs by 2032.

Gov. Roy Cooper described the expansion as the state’s largest single jobs announcement by number in nearly two decades.

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Seattle Police Dismantle ‘Occupied’ Zone, Arrest More Than 30

Seattle police turned out in force early Wednesday at the city’s “occupied” protest zone, tore down demonstrators’ encampments and used bicycles to herd the protesters after the mayor ordered the area cleared following two fatal shootings in less than two weeks.

Television images showed police, many in riot gear, confronting dozens of protesters at the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone that was set up near downtown following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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Stonewall Jackson Removed from Richmond’s Monument Avenue

Work crews wielding a giant crane, harnesses and power tools wrested an imposing statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson from its concrete pedestal along Richmond, Virginia’s famed Monument Avenue on Wednesday, just hours after the mayor ordered the removal of all Confederate statues from city land.

Mayor Levar Stoney’s decree came weeks after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the removal of the most prominent and imposing statue along the avenue: that of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which sits on state land. The removal of the Lee statue has been stalled pending the resolution of several lawsuits.

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Background Checks, a Metric for Gun Sales, Hit All-Time High

Historic numbers of background checks to purchase or possess a firearm were done in June, a trend in a year marked by uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic, a subsequent economic recession, protests over racial injustice and calls to reduce police funding.

FBI numbers released Wednesday show that 3.9 million background checks were conducted last month, the most since the system was created in November 1998 to ensure felons and other prohibited people could not buy or possess a firearm. The previous monthly record came in March, when 3.7 million checks were done. Each week in June is now in the top 10 weeks for background checks.

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Gun-Toting Restaurateur Upsets 5-Term Colorado Congressman

A pistol-packing restaurant owner who has expressed support for a far-right conspiracy theory has upset five-term U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado’s primary elections.

Tipton became the fourth House member to lose renomination bids this year. Republican Reps. Steve King of Iowa and Denver Riggleman of Virginia, and Democrat Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, have already been ousted by challengers.

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Citing Racial Bias, San Francisco Will End Mug Shots Release

San Francisco police will stop releasing the mug shots of people who have been arrested unless they pose a threat to the public, as part of an effort to stop perpetuating racial stereotypes, the city’s police chief announced Wednesday.

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said the policy, which goes into effect immediately, means the department will no longer release booking photos of suspects to the media or allow officers to post them online.

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Carl Reiner, Beloved Creator of ‘Dick Van Dyke Show,’ Dies

Carl Reiner, the ingenious and versatile writer, actor and director who broke through as a “second banana” to Sid Caesar and rose to comedy’s front ranks as creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and straight man to Mel Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man,” has died. He was 98.

Reiner’s assistant Judy Nagy said he died Monday night of natural causes at his home in Beverly Hills, California.

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Hong Kong Security Law Takes Aim at Protester Actions

China on Tuesday approved a contentious national security law for Hong Kong that takes direct aim at some of the actions of anti-government protesters last year, in a move many see as Beijing’s boldest yet to erase the legal firewall between the semi-autonomous territory and the mainland’s authoritarian Communist Party system.

Details of the law remained under wraps until 11 p.m. (1500 GMT, 11:00 a.m. EDT), when it was published and took effect immediately.

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McGrath Wins Kentucky Dem Primary; McConnell Showdown Awaits

Former Marine pilot Amy McGrath overcame a bumpier-than-expected Kentucky primary to win the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination Tuesday, fending off progressive Charles Booker to set up a bruising, big-spending showdown with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Voting ended June 23, but it took a week until McGrath could be declared the winner due to the race’s tight margins and a deluge of mail-in ballots. The outcome seemed a certainty early in the campaign but became tenuous as Booker’s profile surged as the Black state lawmaker highlighted protests against the deaths of African Americans in encounters with police.

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Kentucky Democrats Still Looking for the Winner in Last Week’s Primary

One of Kentucky’s most unpredictable political races in years is headed toward the wire Tuesday, but it’s taking a full week after the June 23 primary to sort out a possible photo finish in the Democratic U.S. Senate contest.

Absentee ballots that stacked up amid the coronavirus pandemic have delayed the vote count in the neck-and-neck race between progressive candidate Charles Booker and establishment-backed Amy McGrath. Both are vying for the chance to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who coasted to victory in the GOP primary in his bid for a seventh term.

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Former Cincinnati Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard Pleads Guilty in Vote-Sale Case

A former Cincinnati city councilwoman accused of accepting $15,000 as part of a scheme to trade votes for money has pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge.

Tamaya Dennard entered the plea in federal court to a count of honest services wire fraud, meaning defrauding citizens and the council of their right to honest services. No sentencing date was set immediately. 

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California’s Alleged Golden State Killer Set to Plead Guilty

Forty years after a sadistic suburban rapist terrorized California in what investigators later realized were a series of linked assaults and slayings, a 74-year-old former police officer is expected to plead guilty Monday to being the elusive Golden State Killer.

The deal will spare Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. any chance of the death penalty for 13 murders and 13 kidnapping-related charges spanning six counties. In partial return, survivors of the assaults that spanned the 1970s and 1980s expect him to admit to up to 62 rapes that he could not be criminally charged with because too much time has passed.

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Two Dead, Four Wounded After Shooting at California WalMart Distribution Center

A man drove into a Northern California distribution center and started shooting at people Saturday afternoon, killing an employee and wounding four others before he was killed by police, authorities said.

The shooting by a 31-year-old man with a semi-automatic rifle started about 3:30 p.m. at the Walmart distribution center south of Red Bluff, a city of about 14,000 people about 131 miles (210 kilometers) north of Sacramento, California.

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Mississippi Set to Remove Confederate Emblem from its Flag

Mississippi is on the verge of changing its state flag to erase a Confederate battle emblem that in recent years has become broadly condemned as virulently racist.

The flag’s supporters resisted efforts to change it for decades, but rapid developments in recent weeks have changed dynamics on this issue in the tradition-bound state.

As protests against racial injustice recently spread across the U.S., including Mississippi, leaders from business, religion, education and sports have spoken forcefully against the state flag. They have urged legislators to ditch the 126-year-old banner for one that better reflects the diversity of a state with a 38% Black population.

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