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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

September 03, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Biden, in Kenosha, says U.S. confronting 'original sin'

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Joe Biden told residents of Kenosha, Wisconsin, that recent turmoil following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, could help Americans confront centuries of systemic racism, drawing a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump amid a reckoning that has galvanized the nation.

“We’re finally now getting to the point where we’re going to be addressing the original sin of this country, 400 years old … slavery and all the vestiges of it,” Biden said at Grace Lutheran Church, where he met with community leaders after a private session with Blake and his family.

The visit marked the former vice-president's first trip to the battleground state of Wisconsin as the Democratic presidential nominee and was a vivid illustration of the contrast he offers to Trump.

While Biden spent more than an hour with the Blake family, Trump didn't mention Blake during his own trip to Kenosha on Tuesday. Where Biden traced problems in the criminal justice system back to slavery, Trump refused to acknowledge systemic racism and offered his unvarnished support to law enforcement, blaming the recent violence on “domestic terror.”

“I can’t say if tomorrow God made me president, I can’t guarantee you everything gets solved in four years,” Biden said. But “it would be a whole lot better, we’d get a whole lot further down the road” if Trump isn’t re-elected.


Mayor suspends officers involved in man's suffocation death

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Seven police officers involved in the suffocation death of Daniel Prude last spring in Rochester, New York, were suspended Thursday by the city's mayor, who said she was misled for months about the circumstances of the fatal encounter.

Prude, 41, who was Black, died when he was taken off life support March 30. That was seven days after officers who encountered him running naked through the street put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced the suspensions at a news conference amid criticism that the city kept quiet about Prude's death for months.

Prude “was failed by the police department, our mental health care system, our society, and he was failed by me,” Warren said.

The mayor said she only became aware that Prude's death involved the use of force on Aug. 4, and that Police Chief La’Ron Singletary initially portrayed it as a drug overdose, which is “entirely different” than what she witnessed in body camera video. The mayor said she told the chief she was “deeply, personally and professionally disappointed” in his failure to accurately inform her what happened to Prude.


White House faces skepticism over prospects for a vaccine

Could the U.S. really see a coronavirus vaccine before Election Day?

A letter from federal health officials instructing states to be ready to begin distributing a vaccine by Nov. 1 — two days before the election — has been met, not with exhilaration, but with suspicion among some public health experts, who wonder whether the Trump administration is hyping the possibility or intends to rush approval for political gain.

The skepticism comes amid growing questions about the scientific credibility of the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and their vulnerability to political pressure from President Donald Trump.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious-disease expert and a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, told CNN on Thursday that it is unlikely but “not impossible” that a vaccine could win approval in October, instead of November or December, as many experts believe.

“And I would assume, and I’m pretty sure, it’s going to be the case that a vaccine would not be approved for the American public unless it was indeed both safe and effective," he said.


Asian shares follow Wall Street lower as investors pull back

Asian markets skidded Friday after Wall Street had its worst day since June, as investors’ exuberance faltered after a spate of record highs.

Shares fell across the region Friday, with Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 shedding 1.1%.

There was little going on regionally to alter the market's trajectory after the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 gave up 3.5%, its biggest loss in three months, and the Nasdaq fell 5% as high-flying technology companies took a tumble after months of spectacular gains.

There seemed to be no explicit catalyst for the sell-off, with economic data coming in roughly where the market had expected and no companies issuing foreboding warnings. But the market felt due for a breather, analysts said.

There is still plenty of money sloshing through financial systems with the Federal Reserve and many other central banks unleashing massive amounts of cash through bond purchases, while keeping interest rates ultra low.


Boseman honoured as hometown hero in native South Carolina

ANDERSON, S.C. (AP) — Chadwick Boseman was remembered as a hometown hero who brought a sense of pride to his native Anderson, South Carolina.

The city paid tribute to Boseman in a public memorial on Thursday evening. The actor, who became widely popular through “Black Panther,” was honoured after he shockingly died last week at the age of 43 following a private four-year battle with colon cancer.

A viewing of “Black Panther” was held at an outdoor amphitheatre where people practiced social distancing. Most attendees wore masks, while others — mostly kids — dressed up in Black Panther costumes.

Some artwork of Boseman was displayed onstage during the tribute.

“He is the epitome of black excellence,” said Deanna Brown-Thomas, the daughter of legendary singer James Brown and president of her father’s family foundation. She remembered when Boseman visited her family in Augusta, Georgia, before the actor portrayed her father in the 2014 film “Get on Up.”


Trump suggests polling place double-check for mail-in voters

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday that people who vote early by mail should show up at their local polling places on Election Day and vote again if their ballots haven’t been counted, a suggestion that experts said would lead to chaos, long lines and more work for election officials during a public health crisis.

In a series of tweets, Trump encouraged voters to go to their polling site to “see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted). If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly.”

But information on whether a ballot has been counted is typically not available right away. In several states, absentee ballots aren't even counted until after polls close. What can be checked is whether an absentee ballot has been received, and in some cases, whether it has passed a security review and will be submitted for counting.

Election officials warned that a flood of voters showing up on Nov. 3 to check the status of their ballots would mean even more disruption during the coronavirus outbreak and lengthy waits. Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, said it also could undermine public health efforts.

The board “strongly discourages” people from following the president's guidance, Brinson Bell said in a statement. “That is not necessary, and it would lead to longer lines and the possibility of spreading COVID-19."


Report: Trump disparaged US war dead as 'losers,' 'suckers'

DELRAY BEACH, FLa. (AP) — A new report details multiple instances of President Donald Trump making disparaging remarks about members of the U.S. military who have been captured or killed, including referring to the American war dead at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France in 2018 as “losers” and “suckers.”

Trump said Thursday that the story is “totally false.”

The allegations were first reported in The Atlantic. A senior Defence Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump's comments confirmed some of the remarks to The Associated Press, including the 2018 cemetery comments.

The defence officials said Trump made the comments as he begged off visiting the cemetery outside Paris during a meeting following his presidential daily briefing on the morning of Nov. 10, 2018.

Staffers from the National Security Council and the Secret Service told Trump that rainy weather made helicopter travel to the cemetery risky, but they could drive there. Trump responded by saying he didn't want to visit the cemetery because it was “filled with losers,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss it publicly.


Democrats request Hatch Act probe of Republican convention

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are seeking an investigation into what they call repeated violations of the federal Hatch Act by members of the Trump administration during last month's Republican National Convention.

The 1939 law is intended to limit political activity by federal employees in their official capacity, although it does not apply to the president and vice-president.

Throughout the convention, administration officials "repeatedly used their official positions and the White House itself to bolster President (Donald) Trump’s re-election campaign,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the independent Office of Special Counsel. “We are alarmed that President Trump and some senior administration officials are actively undermining compliance with — and respect for — the law.”

Trump gave his acceptance speech for the GOP presidential nomination at the White House, and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf appeared in a video of a naturalization ceremony on White House grounds led by Trump. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also spoke to the convention through a video link while in Israel on official travel, and numerous officials used the White House for convention speaking engagements.

"We are particularly concerned with the consequences of White House actions on career employees who may have felt pressured to help organize and put on these events, potentially subjecting them to legal jeopardy,'' the Democrats wrote Wednesday. "Career employees have faced severe consequences for behaviour far less egregious than what the country witnessed last week.''


A new $300 federal jobless benefit? Not likely for some

JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Down to a weekly unemployment check of $96, Fakisha Fenderson brushed aside her doctor's advice last month and began looking for a job.

In mid-May, Fenderson's employer, a door manufacturer, sent her home after a co-worker tested positive for the coronavirus. But the 22-year-old, who is six months pregnant and has asthma, felt desperate for work after a $600-a-week federal jobless benefit expired at the end of July.

Even worse, she doesn't qualify for a smaller $300-a-week check the Trump administration is now offering. That program, announced Aug. 8, requires the jobless get at least $100 in state benefits to qualify.

“It would have been such a huge help,” said Fenderson, who has a 1-year old son and lives in Laurel, Mississippi. “It’s kind of crazy, and it doesn’t make sense."

The administration rolled out the new $300-a-week benefit, using money from a $44 billion disaster relief fund, after Congress and the White House failed to agree to extend the $600 payment. It was initially announced as $400, but that included an additional $100 from state funds that almost no states are providing.


Britney Spears shows love for #FreeBritney in court filing

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears is welcoming public scrutiny of the court conservatorship that has controlled her life and money for 12 years as she seeks to push her father out of power, according to a Thursday court filing.

Spears filed an objection unprecedented in the 12 years of the conservatorship to a motion from her father, James Spears, to seal a recent filing in the case, forcefully arguing that the public ought to know what is happening to her and tacitly voicing her support for the #FreeBritney movement among fans that her father has shown scorn for.

“Britney's conservatorship has attracted an unprecedented level of scrutiny from mainstream media and social media alike," the filing says. "Far from being a conspiracy theory or a ‘joke’ as James reportedly told the media, in large part this scrutiny is a reasonable and even predictable result of James’ aggressive use of the sealing procedure over the years to minimize the amount of meaningful information made available to the public.”

“The world is watching,” the filing later says.

James Spears and the conservatorship's attorneys who work for him have constantly sought to have courtrooms closed and filings sealed in the case. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny has routinely approved the moves.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
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