US Catholic bishops convene to confront sex-abuse crisis

BALTIMORE (AP) — The nation's Roman Catholic bishops convened a high-stakes meeting Tuesday under pressure to defuse the ever-widening child sexual abuse crisis that has weakened the church. The bishops "face the task of rooting the evil of sexual abuse from the church," Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in opening the four-day meeting.

The deliberations will be guided by a new law that Pope Francis issued May 9. It requires priests and nuns worldwide to report sexual abuse as well as cover-ups by their superiors to church authorities. It also calls for allegations against bishops to be reported to the Vatican and a supervisory bishop.

As bishops gather, prosecutors step up scrutiny of churchDETROIT (AP) — Hundreds of boxes. Millions of records. From Michigan to New Mexico, attorneys general are sifting through files on clergy sex abuse this month, seized through search warrants and subpoenas at dozens of archdioceses. They're looking to prosecute, and not just priests. If the boxes lining the hallways of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's offices contain enough evidence, she said, she is considering using state racketeering laws usually reserved for organized crime. Prosecutors in Michigan are even volunteering on weekends to get through all the material. For decades, leaders of the Roman Catholic Church were largely left to police their own.

Japan premier hopes to ease US-Iran tensions in Tehran visitDUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's trip to Tehran represents the highest-level effort yet to de-escalate tensions between the U.S. and Iran as the country appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers that America earlier abandoned. But while Abe's trip to Iran marks the first visit of a sitting Japanese premier in the 40 years since the Islamic Revolution, it remains unclear if he'll end up going home with any success. Iran is threatening to resume enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade level on July 7 if European allies fail to offer it new terms.

Feisty Virginia primaries closely watched for national trendRICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Voting in primary elections began Tuesday in Virginia, where off-year contests for all 140 seats in the state Legislature could serve as a political barometer for the coming presidential year. The state's 2017 elections were an early warning signal that a blue wave of opposition to President Donald Trump would wash over the 2018 U.S. midterms, and now political analysts are looking for clues about 2020. Normally sleepy affairs, the primaries are more dramatic this year as moderates in both parties take fire from their more extreme flanks. Virginia is the only state where the Legislature has a reasonable chance of flipping party control.

US submits extradition request for WikiLeaks founder AssangeWASHINGTON (AP) — The United States government has formally submitted an extradition request to the United Kingdom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange , a U.S. official said Tuesday. Assange faces an 18-count indictment that accuses him of soliciting and publishing classified information and of conspiring with former Army private Chelsea Manning to crack a Defense Department computer password. That indictment, which includes Espionage Act charges, was issued by the Justice Department last month and is pending in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. The extradition request had been expected ever since U.S. authorities first announced a criminal case against Assange. The 47-year-old Assange was evicted April 11 from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been holed up since 2012 after Ecuador granted him political asylum.

AP analysis: Pot for all can hurt medical marijuana industryPORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — When states legalize pot for all adults, long-standing medical marijuana programs take a big hit, in some cases losing more than half their registered patients in just a few years, according to a data analysis by The Associated Press.

Much of the decline comes from consumers who, ill or not, got medical cards in their states because it was the only way to buy marijuana legally and then discarded them when broader legalization arrived. But for people who truly rely on marijuana to control ailments such as nausea or cancer pain, the arrival of so-called recreational cannabis can mean fewer and more expensive options.

New Jersey mandates panic buttons for hotel room cleanersATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill Tuesday that he and others said is the nation's first requiring most hotels to provide their workers with wearable panic buttons they can press to summon help quickly in an emergency.

The Democratic governor and several nationwide unions said New Jersey is the first state to mandate the devices, although similar measures are under consideration in Illinois, Florida and Washington state. And some hotel chains including Marriot and Hilton have announced plans to provide the devices to their workers without being forced to by government.

"I am proud to sign panic button legislation to give hotel workers security and the ability to immediately call for help should they need it," Murphy said as he signed the bill, surrounded by one housekeeper from each of the nine Atlantic City casinos.

The law takes effect in January and applies to hotels with 100 or more rooms.

In 2018, a 51-year-old room cleaner at Bally's casino was pushed into a room by a man who then sexually assaulted her.

"The housekeepers were enraged after that," said Ben Albert, an official with Local 54 of the Unite-Here union.

Several housekeepers interviewed after the signing said they have had instances in which they felt unsafe on the job.

"If you think something is wrong, you can push this and help will come," said Daksha Parikh, a housekeeper at the Tropicana casino. "It's a layer of protection for us. Sometimes it's a long floor of rooms and you may be the only one working there."

"Sometimes they don't have any clothes on when you knock on the door and say, 'Housekeeping,' or they're playing dirty videos on their laptop," she said.