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Backchannel with 'Dracula' helped free Utah man in Venezuela
(Holt family photo via AP)
By JOSHUA GOODMAN and MATTHEW LEE
From Associated Press
May 26, 2018 7:39 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — A secret backchannel led by a veteran Republican Senate staffer and a flamboyant Venezuelan official nicknamed "Dracula" broke through hostile relations between the two governments to secure the release of American prisoner Joshua Holt, who traveled to the South American country for love and ended up in jail, without a trial, for two years.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Saturday for the second time in a month, exchanging a huge bear hug and broad smiles in a surprise summit at a border village to discuss Kim's potential meeting with President Donald Trump and ways to follow through on the peace initiatives of the rivals' earlier summit.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the release of a Utah man, Joshua Holt, who has been held in Venezuela (all times local): 8:10 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joshua Holt, who traveled to Venezuela from Utah in 2016 to marry a Spanish-speaking Mormon woman but soon found himself jailed and later branded the CIA's top spy in Latin America, was set free by the anti-American Maduro government on Saturday in what his family called "this miracle."

MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on Subtropical Storm Alberto (all times local): 6:10 p.m. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has declared a state of emergency for several counties ahead of Subtropical Storm Alberto.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Florida, Alabama and Mississippi launched emergency preparations Saturday ahead of the arrival of Subtropical Storm Alberto, a slow-moving system expected to cause wet misery across the eastern U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the Supreme Court's highly anticipated decision in the case of a Colorado baker who would not create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

DUBLIN (AP) — In the end, it wasn't even close. Irish voters — young and old, male and female, farming types and city-bred folk — endorsed expunging an abortion ban from their largely Catholic country's constitution by a two-to-one margin, referendum results compiled Saturday showed.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Illegal border crossings, as President Donald Trump measures them, have gone up since he took office, even as he speaks to audiences about a drop of more than 40 percent.

EDMOND, Oklahoma (AP) — Vicki Toombs was watching the returns on election night 2016 when her phone buzzed — a text from her 22-year-old son Beau in Chicago.

SALALAH, Oman (AP) — A cyclone more powerful than any previously recorded in southern Oman slammed into the Gulf country and neighboring Yemen on Saturday, deluging a major city with nearly three years' worth of rainfall in single day.

PHOENIX (AP) — Until recently, Lilly Mucarsel has spoken Spanish just about everywhere since arriving in the United States from Ecuador three decades ago: at the library, the movies, the grocery store.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Tesla that crashed while in Autopilot mode in Utah this month accelerated in the seconds before it smashed into a stopped firetruck, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and North Korea (all times local): 10:30 a.m. The White House says a team is still heading to Singapore this weekend to work on logistics for a possible summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Harvey Weinstein's arrest in New York Friday is a landmark moment in the #MeToo movement. Yet as authorities work through dozens of cases against famous figures in entertainment and other industries brought on by the Weinstein-inspired wave that began in October, legal hurdles may make such prosecutions the exception.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Newly released emails show senior Environmental Protection Agency officials working closely with a conservative group that dismisses climate change to rally like-minded people for public hearings on science and global warming, counter negative news coverage and promote Administrator Scott Pruitt's stewardship of the agency.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Even if conciliatory rhetoric revives U.S.-North Korea summit plans, President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un must overcome a gaping disconnect over what a deal on the North's nuclear weapons would look like.

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Wailing women, long speeches, livestock slaughtered for a feast. For many in Africa, funerals are multi-day gatherings and deeply traditional, with elaborate burial rites to emphasize the belief that the dead are not really dead.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A driver rammed into three women walking on a sidewalk Friday in downtown Portland, critically injuring one of them, before speeding away and getting arrested within hours of the crash, authorities said.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Dry pine needles and dead wood snapped under fire prevention officer Matt Engbring's boots as he hiked a half-mile into the woods in search of a makeshift campsite that had served as one man's home until this week when the area was closed because of the escalating threat of massive wildfires.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's legal team wants a briefing on the classified information shared with lawmakers about the origins of the FBI investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has long made immigration a top priority. He has spent recent weeks publicly hammering Congress to crack down on "legal loopholes" he says allow criminals to enter the country illegally.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior Environmental Protection Agency officials have been working closely with a conservative group that dismisses climate change to rally like-minded people for public hearings on science and global warming.

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James chose Boston as the place he'll play next. Game 7 is on. And any talk about James' future is on hold.

BEIJING (AP) — President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal from his planned summit with North Korea raises the stakes for China to show that it can steer the North toward easing tensions over its nuclear program.