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    Obesity in the U.S. military surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent research shows that nearly 10,000 active duty Army soldiers became newly obese between February 2019 and June 2021, after restricted duty and limited exercise led to higher body mass scores. Increases were also seen in the U.S. Navy and the Marines, renewing concerns about the fitness of America’s fighting forces. The solutions are the same as for civilians, experts say: Recognize obesity is a chronic disease and provide targeted treatments that include diet and exercise and new medications.

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    American basketball star Brittney Griner and her wife say they are concerned over the detainment in Russia of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. The Griners say in a statement posted Saturday night on Instagram that "we must do everything in our power to bring him and all Americans home.” Russian security officials took the 31-year-old Gershkovich into custody on Thursday and accused the American of spying. The newspaper denies the charge and demands his release. Griner was held in Russia for most of last year after being arrested at an airport near Moscow on drug possession charges. She returned to the U.S. after a prisoner exchange in December.

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    President Joe Biden has all but announced he's running for reelection, but there are some key unanswered questions about the campaign. Who will lead it? Where will it be based? When will he finally make it official? Aides are mindful that Donald Trump has just been indicted for his role in the payment of hush money to a porn actor. and they say Biden will look to time his announcement to a point when he won’t share the political spotlight with the man he beat in the 2020 election. Biden’s inner political circle is ready to begin executing on the campaign’s strategy from Day One and sees no drawbacks to the president taking his time.

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    A developer has dropped plans to purchase a 100-acre property from the local school system in a historically Black town in Florida following public outcry that the deal threatened the cultural heritage of the community made famous by Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston. Derek Bruce said Friday in a letter to Orange County Public Schools in Orlando that he had terminated the deal to purchase the land where a former school for Black students stood in the town of Eatonville. The school system said in a statement that it wouldn’t consider any further bids for the land.

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    The United States is Earth's punching bag for nasty weather. The nation's weather chief and other experts say the U.S. gets hit by stronger, costlier, more varied and frequent extreme weather than anywhere on Earth. Those include tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, blizzards and the like. The reason is geography. Two oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, mountains, the jet stream and jutting peninsulas all combine to brew up severe storms. But nasty weather by itself isn't a disaster. What makes nature's bad hand a disaster is humans. It's where people build, what they build and how.

    Storms that dropped possibly dozens of tornadoes killed at least 26 people in small towns and big cities across the South and Midwest. The storms tore a path through the Arkansas capital and collapsed the roof of a packed concert venue in Illinois. People throughout the region were stunned with the scope of the damage. Confirmed or suspected tornadoes in at least eight states destroyed homes and businesses, splintered trees and lay waste to neighborhoods across a broad swath of the country. The dead included nine in one Tennessee county, four in the small town of Wynne, Arkansas, four in Illinois and three in nearby Sullivan, Indiana. Other deaths were reported elsewhere in Tennessee and in Alabama and Mississippi, along with one near Little Rock, Arkansas.

    Purdue's Zach Edey was a near-unanimous choice as The Associated Press men’s college basketball player of the year. Edey received all but one vote from a 58-person media panel, with Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis receiving the other. The 7-foot-4 Canadian was sixth nationally in scoring at 22.3 points per game and second in rebounding at 12.8.

    Caitlin Clark had another sensational game with 41 points to help Iowa spoil South Carolina’s perfect season with a 77-73 victory in the Final Four. The spectacular junior guard set a record for the highest-scoring semifinal game and became the first women’s player to post back-to-back 40-point games in the NCAA Tournament. She now has the Hawkeyes in a spot they’ve never been in before — one victory away from a national championship. They’ll have to beat another SEC team to do that as Iowa will face LSU in the title game on Sunday afternoon after the Tigers beat Virginia Tech in the other national semifinal. The loss ended a tremendous season for the defending champion Gamecocks. They finished 36-1.

    A monster storm system has torn through the South and Midwest, spawning deadly weather including tornadoes that shredded homes and shopping centers in Arkansas, collapsed a theater roof during a heavy metal concert in Illinois and made a fatal sweep into rural Indiana. At least one person was killed and more than two dozen were hurt, some critically, in the Little Rock area during Friday’s storm. The town of Wynne in northeastern Arkansas also was devastated and officials reported two dead there, along with destroyed homes and people trapped in the debris. Authorities say a theater roof collapsed during a tornado in Belvidere, Illinois, killing one person and injuring 28. The emergency management director of Sullivan County, Indiana, says the storm has caused three fatalities there.

    Under intense scrutiny from Washington that could lead to a potential ban on TikTok, the top attorney for the social media platform and its Chinese parent company ByteDance defended TikTok’s plan to safeguard U.S. user data from China and said it will continue to develop its new app called Lemon8. The comments come as TikTok is under intense scrutiny over concerns it could hand user data to the Chinese government or push pro-Beijing propaganda and misinformation on its behalf. To assuage concerns from U.S. officials, TikTok has been emphasizing a proposal to store all U.S. user data on servers owned and maintained by the software giant Oracle. TikTok maintains it has never been requested to turn over any kind of data and won’t do so if asked.

    In 1977, Associated Press reporter James W. Mangan had an exclusive interview with a South Texas election judge who detailed certifying false votes for Lyndon B. Johnson nearly three decades earlier. Johnson had won by an 87-vote margin in the 1948 Democratic primary runoff. Mangan's story made headlines across the country. The audio recordings from his interviews for the story were posted Thursday on the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum’s archival website. Mangan's family found the labeled cassette tapes at his San Antonio home after his death in 2015. They donated the tapes last summer to the library on the University at Texas at Austin campus.

    Police say the body of a 2-year-old Florida boy who had been the subject of a frantic search after his mother was slain has been found in a lake in the jaws of an alligator. St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway also said Friday the boy’s father, 21-year-old Thomas Mosley, will be charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the killing of the mother, 20-year-old Pashun Jeffery, and their young son Taylen Mosley. Searchers, including dive teams and officers using drones, had been intensely looking for the boy since his mother’s body was discovered Wednesday in their apartment. The alligator with the boy's body was some miles away. The father does not yet have a lawyer to speak on his behalf.

    The military says the service members who died in a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter crash ranged in age from 23 to 36 and were from seven states. A military news release Friday says the service members came from Florida, Texas, Missouri, California, North Carolina, Alabama and New Jersey. Two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed near Fort Campbell on Wednesday night during a medical evacuation training exercise, killing all nine soldiers aboard the two aircrafts. The crash occurred in Trigg County, Kentucky, about 30 miles northwest of the Army post that is home to the 101st Airborne Division.

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