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

August 25, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Day 2 at GOP convention: a first lady, a pardon, Pompeo

WASHINGTON (AP) — First lady Melania Trump cast her husband as the best hope for America’s future in a Rose Garden address Tuesday night as President Donald Trump relied on family, allies and the trappings of the presidency to boost his reelection chances on the second night of the scaled-down Republican National Convention.

The president pardoned a reformed felon, used the White House grounds to elevate his wife’s keynote address and oversaw a naturalization ceremony for several immigrants in the midst of the prime-time program. The welcoming tone was at odds with some of his own policies, which are aimed at reducing both legal and illegal immigration.

Mrs. Trump and two of his children led a diverse collection of Republicans — swing-state farmers, evangelical Christians and even a convicted bank robber — calling for Trump's reelection, although they focused more on his policies than any humanizing effort.

“I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you’re not alone,” Mrs. Trump said, referencing the pandemic raging across America. “Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic.”

The first-term president is labouring to improve his standing in a 2020 presidential race he is currently losing under the weight of the coronavirus and its related economic devastation. Most polls report that Democratic rival Joe Biden has a significant advantage in terms of raw support; the former vice-president also leads on character issues such as trustworthiness and likability.

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The Latest: Pompeo hails Trump's America First policy at RNC

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has plunged into the heart of the 2020 presidential race with a speech supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection at the Republican National Convention.

The speech was recorded in Jerusalem during an official visit to the Middle East and aired Tuesday at the RNC.

The address was roundly condemned by Democrats and others as an inappropriate breach of decades of diplomatic precedent and a possible violation of federal law prohibiting executive branch employees from overt political activism while on duty. Indeed, Pompeo himself had reminded State Department staffers of those restrictions only last month.

But while the venue and audience were extraordinary and perhaps problematic, the content of Pompeo’s roughly four-minute speech would not have been out of place in any number of his previous public appearances either at home or abroad.

Pompeo delivered standard recitations of GOP claims about the successes of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy against Russia, China and Iran. He said they made his family and all Americans safer. He spoke of the defeat of the Islamic State’s physical caliphate, Trump’s pro-Israel agenda and the president’s determined vigilance to guard against the “predatory aggression” of the Chinese Communist Party.

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Takeaways from GOP convention: Accentuate the positive

WASHINGTON (AP) — The second day of the Republican National Convention started with a decidedly different, more positive tone, with an emphasis on Americans who say have they benefited from President Donald Trump’s policies.

Here are some takeaways from the second night.

LEVERAGING THE WHITE HOUSE

Three ruffles and flourishes. The squeak of a Sharpie. The theatrically lit Rose Garden.

Trump sought to leverage the full weight of the presidency behind his reelection effort, as he blended official acts and campaigning during the Republican National Convention.

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AP FACT CHECK: GOP taps distortions to heap praise on Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — Crucial context was missing Tuesday when Republicans heaped praise on President Donald Trump for his judgment on world affairs and handling of the economy. Trump's economic adviser wholly distorted the conditions Trump inherited.

A look at rhetoric from the second night of the virtual Republican National Convention:

LARRY KUDLOW, Trump economic adviser: Trump was ”inheriting a stagnant economy on the front end of recession,” and under the president, “the economy was rebuilt in three years.”

THE FACTS: This is false. The economy was healthy when Trump arrived at the White House.

Even if the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis was agonizingly slow, Trump took office with unemployment at a low 4.7%, steady job growth and a falling federal budget deficit. The longest expansion in U.S. history began in the middle of 2009 and continued until the start of the year, spanning both the Barack Obama and Trump presidencies.

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Lawyer: Blake not likely to walk again after shot by police

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Jacob Blake, the Black man shot multiple times by police in Wisconsin, is paralyzed, and it would “take a miracle” for him to walk again, his family's attorney said Tuesday, while calling for the officer who opened fire to be arrested and others involved to lose their jobs.

The shooting of Blake on Sunday in Kenosha — apparently in the back while three of his children looked on — was captured on cellphone video and ignited new protests over racial injustice in several cities, some of which have devolved into unrest. It came just three months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police touched off a wider reckoning on race.

“They shot my son seven times, seven times, like he didn’t matter,” said Blake’s father, who is also named Jacob Blake and who spoke to reporters alongside other family members and lawyers. “But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters.”

The 29-year-old was in surgery, said attorney Ben Crump, adding that the bullets severed Blake’s spinal cord and shattered his vertebrae. Another attorney said there was also severe damage to organs.

“It’s going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr. to ever walk again,” Crump said.

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US crackdown on nonessential border travel causes long waits

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Trump administration crackdown on nonessential travel coming from Mexico amid the coronavirus pandemic has created massive bottlenecks at the border, with drivers reporting waits of up to 10 hours to get into the U.S.

An employee at a company that provides support for businesses with Mexican operations saw the huge lines Sunday night from his home in Tijuana, Mexico. A U.S. citizen, he lined up at midnight for his 8 a.m. shift Monday in San Diego and still arrived 90 minutes late.

“I hope that it’s just startup fits and starts and that it will be a little more streamlined down the road,” said Ross Baldwin, the man's boss and president of the TACNA Services Inc.

U.S. citizens and legal residents cannot be denied entry under a partial ban that the Trump administration introduced in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Going to work, school and medical appointments are deemed essential travel but going to shop, dine or socialize is not.

Andrea Casillas, who works at a Bed Bath & Beyond store in San Diego and lives in Tijuana because it's less expensive, waited for four hours Monday.

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California faces huge fires before usual peak of season

VACAVILLE, Calif. (AP) — California’s firefighting agency is in talks with the National Guard and California Conservation Corps about providing reinforcements as an already devastating wildfire season threatens to get even worse.

Lightning-sparked fires that have grown to some of the largest in state history have pushed firefighters to the breaking point as they also deal with complications from the coronavirus pandemic and depleted inmate crews.

“Historically it’s September and October when we experience our largest and our most damaging wildfires. So to be in the middle of August and already have the second- and the third-largest wildfires in our state’s history is very concerning to us,” Daniel Berlant, chief of wildfire planning and engineering at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Tuesday.

For now, cooler temperatures are helping firefighters begin to corral three huge clusters of fires ignited Aug. 15. The blazes have killed at least seven people, burned nearly 1,300 homes and other buildings, and prompted evacuation orders that still affect an estimated 170,000 people.

Firefighters in wine country north of San Francisco have cleared containment lines — used to prevent fires from spreading — around a quarter of the fires there that have scorched more than 550 square miles (1,424 square kilometres) and destroyed more than 930 buildings. It is now the second-largest blaze in California history.

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Poetic words bring tears in New Zealand mosque shooting case

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — The poetic words of love from a daughter to her murdered father brought many people to tears in a New Zealand courtroom Wednesday during the sentencing hearing for the white supremacist who killed 51 worshippers at two mosques.

Sara Qasem said she wonders if, in his last moments, her father was frightened or in pain, and wishes she could have been there to hold his hand. She told the gunman to remember her dad's name, Abdelfattah Qasem.

“All a daughter ever wants is her dad. I want to go on more road trips with him. I want to smell his garden-sourced cooking. His cologne," she said. “I want to hear him tell me more about the olive trees in Palestine. I want to hear his voice. My dad's voice. My baba's voice.”

Qasem spoke on the third day of a four-day sentencing hearing for Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who carried out the attacks during Friday prayers in March 2019. The 29-year-old Australian has pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder, and terrorism.

The hearing has given a chance for some of the survivors and family members to confront Tarrant. Many have asked the judge to impose the maximum possible sentence — life without the possibility of parole.

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Attorney: Woman was in body bag 2 hours before found alive

An attorney for the family of a young woman found breathing at a Detroit funeral home after being declared dead said Tuesday the 20-year-old was in a body bag for some two hours before it was opened and she was discovered to be alive, with her eyes open.

Geoffrey Fieger, who was hired by Timesha Beauchamp’s family, said she remains in critical condition at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit, where she is on a respirator and her heart is beating on its own.

“The doctors are unable to give a prognosis right now, and have indicated that it’s touch and go,” Fieger said during an online news conference.

Fieger said the family of the Southfield woman, who was born with cerebral palsy and has always needed constant medical care, are shaken by the blunder that led to her being incorrectly declared dead.

He read a statement from Timesha’s mother, Erica Lattimore, who said that, “On behalf of the family we are devastated by what has happened. We would like people to continue to pray for Timesha and keep her family in their prayers."

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Falwell says he's resigned from Liberty University

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Jerry Falwell Jr. announced his resignation Tuesday as the head of Liberty University after a provocative photo and revelations of his wife's extramarital affair roiled the evangelical school founded by his father.

Falwell’s exit marks a precipitous fall from power for one of the country’s most visible conservative Christian leaders and ardent supporters of President Donald Trump. He confirmed his decision to resign in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press.

According to the school, he initially offered to resign Monday, hours after a news outlet published an interview with a man who said that he had a yearslong sexual relationship with Becki Falwell and that Jerry Falwell participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur. Falwell, who denied any participation, later reversed course on his resignation and began telling news outlets he had no intention of leaving. Then he changed direction again.

“That’s the only reason I resigned: because I don’t want something my wife did to harm the school I’ve spent my whole life building," he said in a phone interview. "I never broke a single rule that applies to staff members at Liberty, which I was. So I want everybody to know that.”

The university confirmed in a statement that its board had accepted Falwell’s resignation as president, chancellor and board member. All were effective immediately, the statement said.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
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