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Lee National

Authors, journalists and filmmakers take what may seem mundane or complicated and bring it to life through engaging storytelling. Each year, I highlight interviews that stuck with me throughout the year.

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An upbeat President Joe Biden says a deal to resolve the government’s debt ceiling crisis seems “very close." He spoke late Friday, shortly after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen pushed the deadline for a potentially catastrophic default back to June 5. That announcement seemed likely to drag negotiations between the White House and Republicans into another frustrating week. House Republicans led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy spent the day negotiating by phone and computers with the White House. One Republican negotiator, Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, called Biden’s comments “a hopeful sign” but also cautioned that there’s still “sticky points” impeding a final agreement.

Brooks Koepka has returned from winning the PGA Championship just five days ago. It was a rusty return at LIV Golf DC. Harold Varner III leads the way with a 64. He leads by two over James Piot. Koepka had a flat round of two birdies, two bogeys and the rest pars. That gives him a 72 and an eight-shot deficit with two days remaining. Varner made two eagles at Trump National. The tie for third at 68 includes Cameron Smith and Andy Ogletree. Ogletree is a LIV sub. He's filling in this week for Paul Casey.

PGA Tour rookie Harry Hall from England still has the solo lead after 36 holes at Colonial. Hall followed his opening eight-under 62 with a 66 on Friday that included four consecutive birdies midway through the round. He is at 12-under 128. That is three strokes better than Harris English, who had a hole-in-one at the par-3 eighth hole in his 66. Scottie Scheffler, the world's No. 1 player and Colonial runner-up last year, had his second consecutive round of 67 and is tied for seventh at 6 under. Jordan Spieth shot 72 both days to miss the cut.

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has called on his supporters to protest when the GOP-led state House of Representatives takes up impeachment proceedings against him on Saturday. During a news conference Friday, the three-term Republican invited "fellow citizens and friends to peacefully come let their voices be heard at the Capitol tomorrow.” The request echoes former President Donald Trump’s call for people to protest his electoral defeat on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob violently stormed the U.S. Capitol. Paxton decried the impeachment proceeding as an effort to disenfranchise the voters who returned him to office in November. The state House will consider on Saturday whether to impeach Paxton on 20 articles, including bribery, unfitness for office and abuse of public trust.

Clint Castleberry had one glorious season at Georgia Tech. He was a whirlwind on both sides of the line, seeming to turn up everywhere. And then, he was gone. All that potential, snuffed out by the horrors of war. On this Memorial Day weekend, the largely forgotten exploits of Castleberry are a somber, painful reminder of what might've been if not for war. He finished third in the Heisman balloting as a freshman in 1942. Then he headed off to World War II, where he died while piloting a B-26 off the coast of Africa. He was just 21.

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Even when the NFL institutes a rule designed to reduce concussions, it can't shake the perception that it doesn't care what players and coaches think. The league took a step toward eliminating kickoffs this week by enhancing the touchback rule for a one-year trial with a priority on player safety. The receiving team will now get the ball at its own 25 with a fair catch of a kickoff anywhere behind that yard line. Some of the league's most prominent coaches criticized the decision.

Southeastern Conference leaders will continue debating what to do with their football schedule when they meet in the Florida Panhandle next week. The options: Play eight conference games with one annual rival or go to nine with three. Whether ESPN is willing to pay for extra conference games will factor into the decision, but how much? There is still no hard deadline to make a call on a format that goes into effect next year. Commissioner Greg Sankey told AP there is no guarantee a vote will even be taken next week.

Katherine Legge remembers her days as a youngster driving go-karts and how at times she was ruthlessly bullied by the boys. Or the trouble she had growing up in racing and in securing sponsorship and support. There are many reasons why Legge is the only female driver starting in this year's Indianapolis 500. The women's movement that once promised to bring many more into racing appears to have stalled. There have still been just nine women to start the race in more than 100 years.

Fernando Alonso fancies his chances of a victory in Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix. The Spanish driver last won a Formula One race 10 years ago but he has four third-place finishes in five races with Aston Martin this season. The two-time F1 champion says "I will attack more than any other weekend." Defending champion Max Verstappen leads the championship for Red Bull but Alonso's form is capturing the imagination.

Two-time champion Takuma Sato led a strong showing from the Chip Ganassi Racing quartet in final practice for the Indianapolis 500 on Friday. He turned a fast lap of 227.855 mph early in the session, while teammate Scott Dixon was right behind with pole sitter Alex Palou third on the speed chart. Marcus Ericsson, the defending race winner, wasn't far behind for the Ganassi stable, which has dueled with Arrow McLaren for speed the past two weeks. Katherine Legge and Graham Rahal had one last test after she was involved in a practice crash Monday and he replaced Stefan Wilson, who was injured in the same wreck.

All of those questions about who would step to the fore once Serena Williams walked away from the tennis tour seem to be getting answered with three names: Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina. As the start of the French Open approaches on Sunday, defending champion Swiatek is ranked No. 1, Sabalenka is No. 2 and Rybakina is No. 4. More to the point, perhaps, with a major trophy up for grabs on the red clay of Roland Garros: This group divvied up the past four Grand Slam titles, the prizes that help define greatness in their sport.

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Stewart Cink is contending in his PGA Tour Champions debut with consecutive rounds of 4-under 68 in the Senior PGA Championship. Cink trails leader Padraig Harrington by four shots halfway through the Senior PGA.

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Authorities say Russia’s southern Belgorod region that borders Ukraine came under attack from Ukrainian artillery fire, hours after two drones struck a Russian city in a region next to the Crimea Peninsula. The Kremlin’s forces meanwhile struck a clinic in Dnipro on Friday, killing two and wounding another 23, including two children. Ukrainian officials also said a Russian missile hit a dam in the Karlivka district of Donetsk province in eastern Ukraine. That placed nearby settlements under threat of severe flooding. Russia's Belgorod region was earlier this week the target of one of the most serious cross-border attacks from Ukraine since the war began 15 months ago.

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