AP News in Brief at 9:04 p.m. EDT - InfoNews

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AP News in Brief at 9:04 p.m. EDT

September 08, 2020 - 6:04 PM

Firefighters overtaken by flames in California mountains

SHAVER LAKE, Calif. (AP) — More than a dozen California firefighters trying to protect a fire station in rugged mountains were overrun by flames Tuesday, and several were hurt. Elsewhere, military helicopters rescued more than 150 people stranded in a burning forest.

Fourteen firefighters deployed emergency shelters as flames overtook them and destroyed the Nacimiento Station in the Los Padres National Forest on the state's central coast, the U.S. Forest Service said. They suffered from burns and smoke inhalation, and three were flown to a hospital in Fresno, where one was in critical condition.

The injuries came as wind-driven flames of more than two dozen major fires chewed through bone-dry California and forced new evacuations after a scorching Labor Day weekend that saw a dramatic airlift of more than 200 people.

Pilots wearing night-vision goggles to find a place to land before dawn pulled another 164 people from the Sierra National Forest and were working to rescue 17 others Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

“It’s where training meets the moment, but it always takes the courage, the conviction and the grit of real people doing real work,” said Newsom, who called the fires historic.

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Tech’s sudden sell-off continues; Nasdaq sinks 10% in 3 days

NEW YORK (AP) — Big technology stocks tumbled again on Tuesday, continuing the Icarus-like flight path for companies that just a week ago were the high-flyers carrying Wall Street to record heights.

The S&P 500 fell 95.12, or 2.8%, to 3,331.84 and clinched its first three-day losing streak in nearly three months. Big names that were the main reasons for the market’s rocket ride back from its pandemic-caused losses were among the heaviest weights. Apple sank 6.7%, Microsoft pulled 5.4% lower and tech stocks across the index were down 4.6%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 632.42 points, or 2.2%, to 27,500.89. The Nasdaq composite, which is packed with tech stocks, dropped 465.44, or 4.1%, to 10,847.69 and is down 10% since it set its latest record on Wednesday.

Tech stocks had been the darlings of Wall Street on expectations that they can continue to deliver strong profit growth almost regardless of the economy and global health. Tech stocks in the S&P 500 are still up nearly 23% for 2020 so far, and Amazon has rocketed 70.5%, even when unemployment remains high and much of the economy is limping ahead.

Analysts say a flurry of activity for stock options of Big Tech companies goosed the gains even further recently. With certain kinds of options, investors can make huge profits on a stock, without having to pay for its full share price, as long as the stock’s price keeps rising. If enough of these kinds of stock options are getting sold, it can create a buying frenzy for the stock that accelerates the gains even more.

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Rochester police leaders retire after suffocation death

Top police leaders in Rochester, New York, announced their retirements Tuesday amid nightly protests over the handling of the suffocation death of Daniel Prude, whose family filed a federal lawsuit alleging a coverup by law enforcement.

Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, Deputy Chief Joseph M. Morabito and two commanders retired, while two more deputy chiefs and a commander gave up top leadership positions and returned to lower ranks. The outgoing chief accused critics of trying to “destroy my character and integrity.”

Mayor Lovely Warren said during a video call with members of the City Council that she did not ask Singletary, 40, to resign, but that his abrupt decision to step down came after “new information that was brought to light today that I had not previously seen before." She did not elaborate.

While the “timing and tenor” of the retirements were difficult, Warren said later at a brief news conference, “I truly believe that we will get through this.”

The sudden announcements came more than five months after the death of Prude, a 41-year-old Black man who died several days after an encounter with police March 23 in New York's third-largest city. There have been nightly protests in the city since the video's release Wednesday.

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Trump, Biden and the road to 270 electoral votes

WAYZATA, Minn. (AP) — For such a volatile year, the White House race between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden has been remarkably consistent.

With Election Day just eight weeks away, Biden is maintaining the same comfortable lead in most national polls that he enjoyed through the summer. He also has an advantage, though narrower, in many of the battleground states that will decide the election. Trump remains in striking distance, banking on the intensity of his most loyal supporters and the hope that disillusioned Republicans ultimately swing his way.

Still, both parties are braced for the prospect of sudden changes ahead, particularly as Trump makes an aggressive pitch to white suburban voters focused on safety and fear of violent unrest. It’s unclear how well his rhetoric will resonate, but Democrats insist it can’t be ignored, especially in the upper Midwest.

That’s especially true in Minnesota, a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972. Democrats there say they’re increasingly concerned that the state is genuinely in play this year.

“Trump can win Minnesota,” said Rep. Dean Phillips, who in 2018 became the first Democrat to win his suburban Minneapolis district since 1960. “It’s real. It’s absolutely real.”

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine study paused after one illness

Late-stage studies of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate are on temporary hold while the company investigates whether a recipient’s “potentially unexplained” illness is a side effect of the shot.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, the company said its “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.”

AstraZeneca didn't reveal any information about the possible side effect except to call it “a potentially unexplained illness.” The health news site STAT first reported the pause in testing, saying the possible side effect occurred in the United Kingdom.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson confirmed the pause in vaccinations covers studies in the U.S. and other countries. Late last month, AstraZeneca began recruiting 30,000 people in the U.S. for its largest study of the vaccine. It also is testing the vaccine, developed by Oxford University, in thousands of people in Britain, and in smaller studies in Brazil and South Africa.

Two other vaccines are in huge, final-stage tests in the United States, one made by Moderna Inc. and the other by Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech. Those two vaccines work differently than AstraZeneca's, and the studies already have recruited about two-thirds of the needed volunteers.

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US asks to defend Trump in rape accuser's defamation lawsuit

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to take over President Donald Trump's defence in a defamation lawsuit from a writer who accused him of rape, and federal lawyers asked a court Tuesday to allow a move that could put the American people on the hook for any money she might be awarded.

After New York state courts turned down Trump's request to delay E. Jean Carroll's suit, Justice Department lawyers filed court papers Tuesday aiming to shift the case into federal court and to substitute the U.S. for Trump as the defendant. That means the federal government, rather than Trump himself, might have to pay damages if any are awarded.

The filing complicates, at least for the moment, Carroll's efforts to get a DNA sample from the president as potential evidence and to have him answer questions under oath.

Justice Department lawyers argue that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office” when he denied Carroll's allegations, made last year, that he raped her in a New York luxury department store in the mid-1990s. She says his comments — including that she was “totally lying” to sell a memoir — besmirched her character and harmed her career.

“Numerous courts have recognized that elected officials act within the scope of their office or employment when speaking with the press, including with respect to personal matters,” the DoJ attorneys wrote.

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Computer glitches disrupt classes as schools return online

HOUSTON (AP) — Students across the U.S. ran into computer glitches Tuesday as they began the school year with online instruction at home because of the coronavirus, adding to the list of problems that have thrust many a harried parent into the role of teacher’s aide and tech support person.

The online learning platform Blackboard, which provides technology for 70 of the nation’s 100 biggest districts and serves more than 20 million U.S. students from kindergarten through 12th grade, reported that websites for one of its learning products were failing to load or were loading slowly, and users were unable to register on the first day of school.

Blackboard, which hit four times its year-to-date user average by 8 a.m., wasn't the only tech company running into issues Tuesday. Websites that track internet outages like downdetector.com also recorded spikes in reported problems for services like Microsoft Teams and Google Drive, many spiking around 9 a.m. Three of Texas’ largest districts — Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth — were hit with technical problems, as were school systems in places such as Idaho and Kansas. A ransomware attack forced schools in Hartford, Connecticut, to postpone Tuesday's start of virtual and in-person classes.

A Blackboard spokesperson said the problems with the company's website content management system occurred because of a big morning surge in online traffic. D'Anthony White said the system was restored by about 1:15 p.m. and the company was working on refining its approach to prevent further problems. He apologized for the disruption.

“While we planned for a surge in traffic greater than a typical back-to-school period, the patterns of usage exceeded what we anticipated,” White wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

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Now that NFL supports Colin Kaepernick's fight, what's next?

Four years later, the NFL admitted it was wrong and said it now supports Colin Kaepernick in his fight against racial injustice, encouraging players to take a stand - or a knee - for the cause.

What happens next?

The league’s 101st season kicks off Thursday night, when the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans. NFL end zones will be inscribed this season with two slogans: “It Takes All Of Us” on one side, “End Racism” on the other.

As part of its social justice awareness initiatives, the NFL also will allow similar visuals on helmets and caps. Players will be permitted to wear decals on the back of helmets, or patches on team caps, displaying names or phrases to honour victims of racism and/or police brutality.

“The NFL stands with the Black community, the players, clubs and fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week. “Confronting recent systemic racism with tangible and productive steps is absolutely essential. We will not relent in our work.”

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South Lawn, Rose Garden under repair post-convention

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Rose Garden has been a muddy mess and the South Lawn marred by brown patches since President Donald Trump used them as backdrops for last month’s Republican National Convention.

Both are undergoing extensive re-sodding as crews work to repair the damage, which was clearly visible this week and last. The Rose Garden repairs come just weeks after the White House completed a major renovation of the garden intended, in part, to improve drainage issues.

“The sod is being replaced at no cost to taxpayers. Additionally, there has been other planned infrastructure work taking place on the south grounds,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. He added that the work is expected to be completed by early Wednesday or Thursday, barring more bad weather.

The president's reelection campaign is paying for the work.

The damage comes after Trump upended long-held norms separating campaigning and governance by using the White House grounds as the stage for a partisan political event.

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'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' will end in 2021

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Who do we keep up with now? After more than a decade, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” will be ending its run next year.

“It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye" to the reality show, Kim Kardashian West and other members of the extended Kardashian-Jenner family said in a statement Tuesday.

"We’ve decided as a family to end this very special journey,” said their social media statement, without further explanation about the move.

The series became a pop culture sensation and gave rise to a new kind of fame born of reality TV. It also was the launch pad for several family members' fashion and beauty business empires and led to Kardashian West's surprising reinvention as a social justice crusader and aspiring lawyer.

“We are beyond grateful to all of you who’ve watched us for all of these years —through the good times, the bad times, the happiness, the tears, and the many relationships and children," the family said.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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