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Human Welfare

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Parades, picnics and lessons in history were offered Saturday to commemorate Juneteenth in the U.S., a day that carried even more significance after Congress and President Joe Biden created a federal holiday to observe the end of slavery.

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Barbara and Christine Colucci long to remove their masks and kiss their 102-year-old mother, who has dementia and is in a nursing home in Rochester, New York. They would love to have more than two people in her room at a time so that relatives can be there too.

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DENVER (AP) — U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra visited a mobile vaccine clinic near Denver on Friday to promote COVID-19 shots among underserved communities of color that have some of the nation's lowest vaccination rates.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Eleven U.S. mayors — from Los Angeles to tiny Tullahassee, Oklahoma — have pledged to pay reparations for slavery to a small group of Black residents in their cities, saying their aim is to set an example for the federal government on how a nationwide program could work.

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors asked a judge Friday to limit what jurors can hear of the psychological history of victims in a forced labor case, saying they were manipulated by a man who posed as a mental health expert and was sometimes there before or after many of them attempted suicide.

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Some Nebraska lawmakers on Friday called for changes in how the state picks contractors, after a child welfare service that succeeded in winning a contract with an unusually low bid failed to deliver and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

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As the nation this week made Juneteenth a federal holiday, honoring the end of the enslavement of Black people, lawmakers are reviving calls to end a loophole in the Constitution that allowed another form of slavery — forced labor for those convicted of some crimes — to thrive.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia's road to legalizing simple possession of marijuana has had some twists and turns, so it's not surprising that advocacy groups have been flooded with calls from people trying to understand exactly what will be allowed under state law as of July 1.

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VATHY, Greece (AP) — Around dawn one recent spring day, an inflatable dinghy carrying nearly three dozen people reached the Greek island of Samos from the nearby Turkish coast. Within 24 hours, refugee rights groups say, the same group was seen drifting in a life raft back to Turkey.

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency says war, violence, persecution and human rights violations caused nearly 3 million people to flee their homes last year, even though the COVID-19 crisis restricted movement worldwide as countries shut borders and ordered lockdowns.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — In another victory for religious groups at the Supreme Court, the justices on Thursday unanimously sided with a Catholic foster care agency that says its religious views prevent it from working with same-sex couples. The court said the city of Philadelphia wrongly limited its relationship with the group as a result of the agency's policy.

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Justice Samuel Alito called it a “wisp” of a decision — a Supreme Court ruling Thursday that favored Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia but was far from the constitutional gale wind that would have reshaped how courts interpret religious liberty under the First Amendment.

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