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    Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross watched the women they won Olympic gold with step forward one by one over the last 18 months to detail their abuse at the hands of disgraced former USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar. The more their Olympic teammates talked, the more Kocian and Ross began to examine their own interactions with Nassar. Over time they realized their experience mirrored those of hundreds of other women who were abused by Nassar under the guise of treatment. They realized they hadn't been spared but instead were victims, too. It took months for them to process and even longer to go public. Yet they're doing it now — months after Nassar was sentenced to an effective life sentence after being convicted of federal child pornography and state sexual abuse charges — to both help themselves heal and to send a message to victims of sexual abuse everywhere that there is no timetable on coming to grips with the trauma and it's never too late to speak up and say 'hey, me too.' 'Everyone copes in their own way,' said Ross, a member of the 'Fierce Five' that stormed to gold at the 2012 Olympics. 'It doesn't matter how old you are and what happens to you. I've come to the point in my life this is something I want to share my story and move on,' Ross told The Associated Press. Ross and Kocian, a member of the 'Final Five' that won team gold at the 2016 Olympics, have retired from elite gymnastics and now compete collegiately as teammates at UCLA. They both say they were in denial about their abuse. The turning point came in January as they watched nearly 200 women come forward to read victim impact statements to Nassar. The group included Jordyn Wieber, who competed alongside Ross at the 2012 London games and now serves as an assistant coach with the Bruins. Until she stood in front of Nassar, Wieber had never spoken publicly about her abuse. Ross and Kocian both leaned on her before deciding to join the army of survivors. 'Just seeing the process through her view had helped me find my voice and be confident in myself and realize I was a victim,' Ross said. 'But we don't want to be viewed as victims. This is something we have to grow through. Now we're just trying to find our voice and help.' All five members of the 2012 Olympic team — Ross, Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney — have revealed they were abused by Nassar. Kocian is the fourth member of the 2016 Olympic team to come forward, joining Raisman, Douglas and Simone Biles. Ross and Kocian have both filed civil lawsuits against Michigan State — where Nassar worked for decades — and plan to do the same against the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics. They place part of the blame for their abuse on what they described as a toxic culture around the USA Gymnastics elite program that allowed Nassar's treatment to run unchecked. Ross described getting a 'pit' in her stomach every time she visited the Karolyi Ranch near Houston that served as the longtime training home for the senior national team. Kocian felt she and her teammates were 'voiceless' thanks in part to the tone set by former national team coordinator Martha Karolyi. Karolyi retired in 2016. 'You live under a fear of not being able to speak up because this was our only avenue to accomplish our dreams and make the Olympic team,' Kocian told the AP. Both women, now 21, stepped away from elite competition following the 2016 Olympics. While there has been significant change within USA Gymnastics over the last two years, including a new president and board of directors, they'd like to see more. 'There are still people at the top that I feel have overseen this issue for a long time and I think that needs to be changed as well as the whole culture around everything,' Kocian said. 'I don't think enough has been changed from the coaching standpoint. There are still coaches under that abusive style of coaching whether it's verbal abuse, that's what enables all of this.' USA Gymnastics said in a statement it is 'heartbroken' that Ross and Kocian are among Nassar's victims, adding 'their powerful voices and stories will continue to be a basis for our future decisions.' Kocian or Ross, who helped UCLA to an NCAA title last spring, have no plans to return to elite competition. Kocian described a lack of empathy from USA Gymnastics throughout her career as part of the problem. 'Possibly if maybe more people had reached out to my parents to see if I was OK when so many people knew about this and they went through whole Olympic Games knowing and not doing anything,' Kocian said. 'Even to this day have heard nothing support wise from them. I think my decision might have been different (otherwise).' ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and http://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • The new leader of Amnesty International says many world leaders, especially President Donald Trump, are rolling back gains made in respecting human rights. Kumi Naidoo describes the Trump administration's separation of families at U.S. borders as 'one of the worst atrocities' the world has seen in a long time. The South African-born former anti-apartheid activist began a four-year term at the helm of the London-based rights group on Wednesday. He says the challenges to human rights in the world today mean that his organization must show 'maximum courage.' He singles out the governments of Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Yemen and the Philippines as ones he says are failing to respect human rights.
  • Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has died after a prolonged illness. He was 93. Vajpayee was a Hindu nationalist who in 1998 ordered nuclear weapons tests that stoked fears of atomic war with rival Pakistan. But he later launched a groundbreaking peace process with Islamabad. That was not the only way in which Vajpayee seemed a political contradiction. He was a moderate leader of an often-strident Hindu nationalist movement, and a lifelong poet who revered nature but who oversaw India's growth into a swaggering regional economic power. Vajpayee's supporters saw him as a skilled politician. Critics accused him and his party of stoking public fears of India's large Muslim minority. Both sides agreed he was that most rare thing in Indian politics: a man untainted by corruption scandals.
  • Kroger will begin testing grocery deliveries using driverless cars outside of Phoenix. The biggest U.S. grocery chain said the project will begin Thursday in Scottsdale at a Fry's supermarket, which is owned by Kroger. Shoppers can order groceries online or via a mobile app for same-day or next-day delivery to their home. A fleet of driverless Toyota Prius cars will be used for the deliveries. Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati, is partnering with Nuro, a Silicon Valley startup founded by two engineers who worked on autonomous vehicles at Google. That Google project is called Waymo, which started its own pilot program last month at Walmart stores in Phoenix. Waymo is also testing self-driving cars as a way to help commuters get to their closest public transit stop in Phoenix.
  • The Polish president has vetoed a law on elections to the European Union Parliament that would have benefited large political parties and made it harder for small parties to reach a threshold to get seats. Andrzej Duda said Thursday in announcing the veto that that the legislation would have left 'a large number of citizens' without any representation in the European parliament and led to a decline in interest and turnout in European elections. Under current law, parties much reach a 5 percent threshold to win seats. Duda said the proposed legislation would have raised that to 16.5 percent, allowing the country's two biggest parties to win representation and excluding all others. He said he was sending the legislation back to parliament for more work.
  • Malaysia's new government on Thursday repealed a widely criticized law prohibiting 'fake news,' in a move hailed as a landmark moment for human rights by a group of Southeast Asian lawmakers. The bill was rushed through Parliament in April under former Prime Minister Najib Razak despite concerns that it would be used to silence dissent ahead of a May 9 general election. It carried a penalty of up to six years in jail and a fine of 500,000 ringgit ($128,000). Najib's long-ruling coalition was ousted in the polls, ushering in the country's first transition of power since independence from Britain in 1957. After an intense six-hour debate in Parliament and protest by lawmakers in Najib's party, the law was repealed Thursday with a simple voice vote. The group ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights hailed the move, saying the law shouldn't have been approved in the first place because it was clearly designed to silence criticism of the government and quell public debate. 'It not only shows that the (new) government is serious about its promises to strip controversial laws from the legal books, it also sends a signal to the wider region that positive human rights change is within reach,' its board member, Filipino lawmaker Teddy Baguilat, said in a statement. He urged Malaysia to follow up and repeal all other repressive laws, including the Sedition Act. 'This must also be a wake-up call for other ASEAN governments to follow suit and ensure their legal codes are not used to restrict human rights,' he added.
  • Brussels is highlighting its sun-splashed summer with a Mexican-themed carpet of over half a million flowers on its historic Grand-Place. The UNESCO World Heritage site on Thursday opened up the cobblestones of its market square for a giant display of flowers depicting scenes and symbols from Guanajuato, a Mexican region with an exceptionally rich culture and flower tradition. The city lays down such a flower carpet every two years but the extreme heat of this summer posed special challenges. Brussels Culture alderwoman Karine Lalieux says that beyond the traditional use of Belgian begonias, dahlias also were used 'as this year was very, very hot.' The carpet, measuring 75 by 24 meters (246 by 79 feet), will be on view until Sunday.
  • Walmart raised its financial outlook for the year after beating Wall Street's expectations for its fiscal second quarter and seeing the strongest growth in more than a decade in sales at established stores. Its shares surged 10 percent before the opening bell Thursday. The report is strong evidence that Walmart's efforts to improve the experience shoppers have at its stores and expand its online services, particularly in grocery, are helping bring people to its websites and stores. Like many other retailers, Walmart is also benefiting from a stronger job market and rising confidence. Revenue at stores open at least a year rose 4.5 percent at Walmart's U.S. division, topping analysts' expectations for a 2.4 percent increase. The measure is a strong indicator of a retailer's health. The figure was helped by a more than 2 percent increase in customer traffic and in transactions. Online sales soared 40 percent, up from a 33 percent increase the previous quarter. With shoppers feeling confident, the National Retail Federation trade group raised its annual sales forecast this week, citing the results of tax cuts and an improving job market. But it warned that trade wars between China and the U.S. could dampen consumer confidence in the second half of the year, the busiest time for retail. Since buying Jet.com for more than $3 billion two years ago, Walmart has been bolstering its online business by acquiring brands like Bonobos and ModCloth. It's also working to speed up delivery to compete better with Amazon, and is expanding same-day grocery delivery. Walmart is also revamping its website with a focus on fashion and home furnishings and to highlight what services are available, like the ability to order groceries online and pick them up. It has also teamed up with Lord & Taylor to offer the department store dedicated space on its site. Internationally, Walmart has been refocusing on areas with big growth potential like India and China. In May, it acquired a controlling stake in Flipkart, India's largest online retailer, for $16 billion in its biggest acquisition yet. And it is selling its British unit, Asda, which has been struggling with intense competition from German no-frills discounters Aldi and Lidl. For the quarter, Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart had a loss of $861 million, or 29 cents per share, because of some sizeable investments. It was also hurt by its investment in online retailer JD.com. Adjusted for those one-time costs, it earned $1.29 per share, easily topping Wall Street projections of $1.21 per share, according to Zacks Investment Research. Revenue came to $128.03 billion, also beating projections. Walmart now projects earnings for the current fiscal year of $4.90 to $5.05 per share, excluding charges related to Flipkart. Analysts expected $4.78 per share, according to FactSet. Walmart shares rose $9.51 to $99.75 in pre-market trading. _____ Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on WMT at https://www.zacks.com/ap/WMT
  • Reese Witherspoon, Mahershala Ali and Keith Urban are among the stars joining the sixth Stand Up To Cancer telethon. Jennifer Garner, Trevor Noah, Marlee Matlin, Matthew McConaughey and organization co-founder Katie Couric also will take part in the Sept. 7 fundraiser. Stand Up To Cancer said Thursday that this year's live, hour-long telecast commemorates 10 years of raising awareness and more than $480 million to fund innovative research. Bradley Cooper is returning as co-executive producer of the event, which will be carried commercial-free by major broadcast networks and cable channels in the U.S. and Canada and on streaming platforms. In a statement, Cooper noted that his family has been touched by cancer and called it a privilege to be back with the telethon. His father, Charles J. Cooper, had lung cancer and died in 2011. The telecast 'showcases the significant progress being made in the fight against cancer, instilling hope in those facing the disease,' Bradley Cooper said. Others participating in the Stand Up to Cancer broadcast include Kathy Bates, Tony Hale, Marg Helgenberger, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, Maria Menounos, Jillian Michaels, Dak Prescott, Italia Ricci, Rob Riggle, Karla Souza and David Spade. Stand Up To Cancer, a division of the philanthropic Entertainment Industry Foundation, was established in 2008 by media and entertainment leaders to accelerate research and get new therapies to patients quickly. Among other achievements, it's funded research that has contributed to federal approval of five new cancer treatments, including for breast, ovarian, pancreatic and some difficult-to-treat leukemias, the group said. ___ Online: http://www.StandUpToCancer.org
  • As Italy comes to terms with the disaster of this week's bridge collapse, the government is accusing the highway operator for focusing too much on its financial interests, putting a spotlight on the country's management of vital infrastructure. The Italian government lashed out Thursday at Atlantia, the holding company of the Benetton fashion family that owns highway operator Autostrade per l'Italia. Atlantia has lost a quarter of its market value in the first trading since the government said it would take steps to revoke the concession to run half of the nation's toll highways following the deadly bridge collapse in Genoa. Atlantia's share price slid to 17.57 euros from 23.54 euros in early trading, burning 5 billion euros ($5.69 billion) in market value. Autostrade is by far the biggest of the two dozen concessions that manage the nation's 6,003 kilometers (3,730 miles) of highway and more than 1,034 kilometers of bridges and viaducts traversing mountainous regions and 865 kilometers of tunnels. It makes money by charging tolls. It controls 3,020 kilometers of highway, including the bridge, which was scheduled for a major retrofit. The business daily il Sole 24 Ore said the 20-million-euro project aimed to reinforce two vertical pillars, including one that collapsed on Tuesday. Before markets opened, Atlantia put out a statement underlining conditions for revoking the concession, including penalties and a clear finding of fault against it. The company noted that the cause of the crash still was not known. Deputy premier Luigi Di Maio, head of the 5-Star Movement party, told reporters in Genoa that the statement was 'shameful.' 'They could have at least spared a word for the victims on this day, instead of thinking yet again of profits, yet again of the market numbers,' he said. He repeated Premier Giuseppe Conte's pledge not to wait for the judicial system to assign blame for the collapse, a process that can take years to reach a verdict, saying that there were clear areas of lack of compliance. Prosecutors were investigating both maintenance issues and design flaws, and have not identified any targets.