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

May 29, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Protests explode in US after cop charged with killing Floyd

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck as he begged for air was arrested Friday and charged with murder, as authorities imposed overnight curfews to try to stem violent protests over police killings of African Americans that have spread from Minneapolis to cities across the country.

Protesters smashed windows at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, torched a police car and struck officers with bottles. Large demonstrations in New York, Houston, Washington, D.C., and other cities ranged from people peacefully blocking roads to clashing with police.

In Minneapolis, thousands of protesters marched through downtown as an 8 p.m. curfew ticked past and encircled a police precinct station. “Prosecute the police!” some chanted, and “Say his name: George Floyd!” There was no violence, but some protesters sprayed graffiti on buildings. Elsewhere in the city, officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to drive back crowds of protesters.

It wasn’t clear if — or how — authorities would enforce the curfew amid sharp questions about how city and state leaders have handled the crisis. The curfew came a night after protesters burned a police precinct station.

Protests roiled the country the same day Officer Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He also was accused of ignoring another officer who expressed concerns about Floyd as he lay handcuffed on the ground, pleading that he could not breathe as Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes. Floyd, who was black, had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a store.

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Protests, some violent, spread in wake of George Floyd death

ATLANTA (AP) — Demonstrators marched, stopped traffic and in some cases lashed out violently at police as protests erupted Friday in dozens of U.S. cities following the killing of George Floyd after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck while taking him into custody in Minnesota. In Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and beyond, thousands of protesters carried signs that said: “He said I can’t breathe. Justice for George.” They chanted ”“No justice, no peace” and “Say his name. George Floyd.”

After hours of peaceful protest in downtown Atlanta, some demonstrators suddenly turned violent, smashing police cars, setting one on fire, spray-painting the iconic logo sign at CNN headquarters, and breaking into a restaurant. The crowd pelted officers with bottles, chanting “Quit your jobs.” People watched the scene from rooftops, some laughing as skirmishes broke out. Demonstrators ignored police demands to disperse. Some protesters moved to the city’s major interstate thoroughfare to try to block traffic.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms passionately addressed the protesters at a news conference: “This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.”

“You are disgracing our city,” she told protesters. “You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country. We are better than this. We are better than this as a city. We are better than this as a country. Go home, go home.”

Bottoms was flanked by rappers T.I. and Killer Mike, as well as King’s daughter, Bernice King.

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Analysis: Trump fuels new tensions in moment of crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) — Over 48 hours in America, the official death toll from the coronavirus pandemic topped 100,000, the number of people who filed for unemployment during the crisis soared past 40 million, and the streets of a major city erupted in flames after a handcuffed black man was killed by a white police officer.

It’s the kind of frenetic, fractured moment when national leaders are looked to for solutions and solace. President Donald Trump instead threw a rhetorical match into the tinderbox. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he declared ominously in a late-night tweet.

Trump’s words were so jarring that Twitter attached a warning to his post — as well as to an identical message from an official White House account — saying that the president of the United States was “glorifying violence.” It’s the first time the social media giant has taken such a step with any world leader, prompting new claims of bias from Trump and some of his conservative allies.

The episode encapsulated Trump’s approach to the presidency and to this time of national crisis, which has upended nearly every aspect of American life and put his November reelection prospects at risk. He’s latched on to personal grievances and cast himself as a victim, while making only occasional references to the staggering loss of life across the country. He’s willingly stoked partisan divisions over public health, and now racial divisions in the face of a death, rather than seeking opportunities to pull the nation together.

To Trump’s detractors, none of that should come as a surprise at this late stage in his term, which has been defined by such responses at volatile moments.

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Trump takes aim at WHO as US economic outlook worsens

WASHINGTON (AP) — With new U.S. economic numbers highlighting the rough road ahead for a hoped-for rebound, President Donald Trump on Friday took aim at the World Health Organization and China, blaming both for their roles in the pandemic's devastation.

Trump announced that the United States will end its support for WHO, charging it didn't respond adequately to the health crisis because of China's “total control” over the global organization. Trump said Chinese officials “ignored” their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured the agency to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered.

Earlier Friday, U.S. Commerce Department statistics showed a record-shattering 13.6% drop in spending in April, a day after a federal jobs report showed another 2 million-plus Americans went out of work last week. The depth of the spending drop is particularly damaging because consumer spending is the primary driver of the economy.

The bad economic news was echoed in Europe, where an extensive social welfare net was showing signs of fraying, as protests erupted for a second day in Spain against layoffs by French carmaker Renault and Italy’s chief central banker warned that “uncertainty is rife.”

Some U.S. states were going ahead with steps to reopen businesses and leisure activities needed to spur spending and restore jobs, but there were also reminders of the risks of moving too quickly.

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Trump strikes China over virus, Hong Kong and student visas

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Friday that he would withdraw funding from the World Health Organization, end Hong Kong’s special trade status and suspend visas of Chinese graduate students suspected of conducting research on behalf of their government, escalating tensions with China that have surged during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump has been expressing anger at the World Health Organization for weeks over what he has portrayed as an inadequate response to the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in China’s Wuhan province late last year.

The president said in a White House announcement that Chinese officials “ignored” their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured the organization to mislead the public about an outbreak that has now killed more than 100,000 Americans.

“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” the president said. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating the relationship.”

The U.S. is the largest source of financial support for the WHO, and its exit is expected to significantly weaken the organization. Trump said the U.S. would be “redirecting” the money to “other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” without providing specifics.

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Twitter and Trump: A feud years in the making finally erupts

On one side of this fraught moment: the president of the United States, facing multiple crises less than six months before the election. On the other: Twitter, the social media giant, which has grappled for years with how to handle its most prominent — and divisive — user. Caught in the middle: reality itself, and whose version gets heard over all the noise.

Twitter’s decision this week to stand up to President Donald Trump by attaching warnings to some of his many tweets has been years in the making, a culmination of American divisions playing out and being amplified across social media. It is fueled by some of the very elements that make modern American discourse so polarized, so fast-moving and — at the oddest of historical moments — so fragmented.

Twitter's assumption of a stronger referee role in its approach to Trump's tweets reflects a “pretty radical change,” said Josh Pasek, an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. “We really haven’t been at a place where social media companies were willing to take on this role.”

But it also heightens the dangers of polarization. “When you can’t agree on the state of the world, you open up opportunities for people to question the motives of others," Pasek said. He says that makes existing conflicts worse and de-legitimizes people with diverging views. “You make it easier to see those people who differ from you as less American."

For years, since long before he was president, Trump has used Twitter as a personal megaphone to build his personal brand, appeal to his supporters and attack his rivals of the moment. In the process, regardless of the facts at hand, he often creates his own version of reality — from birtherism to climate-change denial to exaggerations about voter fraud.

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AP PHOTOS: Street art offers beauty, a laugh, some hope

Scrawled or masterfully crafted on walls and roads are messages of hope and warning.

Street art is getting inspiration from the coronavirus pandemic gripping the globe, offering some comic relief, wit and beauty in a world where people are cut off from each other.

In some cases, the art urges people to follow safety advice. Celebrities and politicians are depicted wearing masks.

In Prague, people take photos with a graffiti image of John Lennon, whose nose and mouth are covered with a fabric mask that says, “All you need is love,” the title of the Beatles' 1967 song.

Coronavirus germs depicted as cartoon villains are spray-painted on streets and walls in India and Kenya to get people to take precautions to prevent the disease from spreading.

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Minneapolis protest misinformation stokes racial tensions

CHICAGO (AP) — The false social media posts started just hours after protesters first began chanting and carrying banners around the Minneapolis neighbourhood where George Floyd, an African American man, died handcuffed in police custody.

“The cop who killed George Floyd,” Facebook and Twitter users claimed, wrongly identifying a man pictured laughing alongside President Donald Trump at a rally as former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

More fake videos and photos followed as the demonstrations turned violent the next day. Some speculated, without evidence, that Floyd’s death was staged or that protesters had been paid to stir up trouble, in tweets collectively shared thousands of times. Others said a video showed a protester driving a car through a shopping complex in Minneapolis, when in fact the footage was taken during an incident at an Illinois mall last year.

Since a video of an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck first surfaced, internet troublemakers and even celebrities have posted misleading or unsubstantiated claims around his death and the ensuing protests. The social media inaccuracies have created confusion around the unfolding news, tearing at the already loosely woven seams of America’s racial tapestry.

“A good deal of this, if not all of this, is intentionally trying to stoke the racial flame that has been ablaze in the United States almost since slavery started 400-plus years ago,” said Lanier Holt, a communications professor at Ohio State University who studied in Minneapolis.

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Minnesota governor apologizes for arrest of CNN crew

NEW YORK (AP) — Following the arrest of a CNN crew on live television by police on Friday, an apologetic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz promised that journalists would not be interfered with in reporting on violent protests following the death of George Floyd.

CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and two colleagues were released within an hour after network chief executive Jeff Zucker called Walz to demand answers about why they were led away and held in a police van.

“We have got to ensure that there is a safe spot for journalism to tell this story,” Walz said.

Jimenez and colleagues Bill Kirkos and Leonel Mendez were doing a live shot for CNN's “New Day” shortly after 5 a.m. Central Time, describing a night of fire and anger in the wake of Floyd's death after a Minneapolis police office knelt on his neck. Fired officer Derek Chauvin was charged with murder in that case later Friday.

When first approached by officers, Jimenez, who is black, told them, “put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way.”

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Kylie Jenner, Forbes spar over story on billionaire status

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Forbes magazine, which once declared Kylie Jenner a billionaire on its cover, says she no longer deserves the title, but Jenner is pushing back.

Forbes said in a story posted Friday that an examination of financial filings after the reality star and beauty mogul sold a majority share in her cosmetics company revealed that Jenner's worth was inflated. Jenner sold 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics company to Coty in a deal valued at $1.2 billion early this year.

"Kylie’s business is significantly smaller, and less profitable, than the family has spent years leading the cosmetics industry and media outlets, including Forbes, to believe," the magazine said in the story. “Forbes now thinks that Kylie Jenner, even after pocketing an estimated $340 million after taxes from the sale, is not a billionaire.”

Jenner responded in a series of tweets, saying “what am i even waking up to. i thought this was a reputable site.. all i see are a number of inaccurate statements and unproven assumptions lol. i’ve never asked for any title or tried to lie my way there EVER. period.”

She later tweeted, “but okay, i am blessed beyond my years, i have a beautiful daughter, and a successful business and i’m doing perfectly fine. i can name a list of 100 things more important right now than fixating on how much money i have.”

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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