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

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

August 14, 2019 - 8:04 PM

Gunman wounds at least 6 Philadelphia police; 2 others freed

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — At least one gunman opened fire on police Wednesday as they were serving a drug warrant in Philadelphia, wounding six officers and triggering a standoff that extended into the night, authorities said.

Two other officers were trapped inside the house for about five hours after the shooting broke out but were freed by a SWAT team well after darkness fell on the residential neighbourhood.

None of the officers' injuries was considered life-threatening and they were being treated at hospitals, Philadelphia police Sgt. Eric Gripp said.

The shooting began around 4:30 p.m. as officers went to a home in a north Philadelphia neighbourhood of brick and stone rowhomes to serve a narcotics warrant in an operation "that went awry almost immediately," Police Commissioner Richard Ross said.

"I was just coming off the train and I was walking upstairs and there were people running back downstairs who said that there was someone up there shooting cops," said Abdul Rahman Muhammad, 21, an off-duty medic. "There was just a lot of screaming and chaos."

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Dow slumps 800 points after bonds flash recession warning

The threat of a recession doesn't seem so remote anymore for investors in financial markets.

The yield on the closely watched 10-year Treasury fell so low Wednesday that, for the first time since 2007, it briefly crossed a threshold that has correctly predicted many past recessions. Weak economic data from Germany and China added to recent signals of a global slowdown.

That spooked investors, who responded by dumping stocks, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average into an 800-point skid, its biggest drop of the year. The S&P 500 index dropped nearly 3% as the market erased all of its gains from a rally the day before. Tech stocks and banks led the broad sell-off. Retailers came under especially heavy selling pressure after Macy's issued a dismal earnings report and cut its full-year forecast.

Investors have been plowing money into the safety of U.S. government bonds for months amid growing anxiety that weakness in the global economy could sap growth in the U.S. Uncertainty about the outcome of the U.S. trade war with China has spurred a return of volatility to the stock market in August — the Dow has dropped more than 5% and the S&P 500 is down more than 4%.

Economic data from two of the world's biggest economies added to investors' fears Wednesday. European markets fell after Germany's economy contracted 0.1% in the spring due to the global trade war and troubles in the auto industry. In China, the world's second-largest economy, growth in factory output, retail spending and investment weakened in July.

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AP Explains: Is the US economy nearing a recession?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Financial markets are flashing a key warning sign of a recession, and the global economy is weakening as the U.S.-China trade war intensifies.

All of which is heightening fear about the U.S. economy and about whether the 10-year expansion, the longest on record, is nearing an end.

On Wednesday, a rare realignment in interest rates intensified those worries: The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note briefly fell below the yield on the 2-year Treasury for the first time since 2007.

Normally, investors earn higher interest on longer-term bonds than on short-term ones. Put another way, the government will usually pay more to investors who are willing to lend their money for longer periods.

So when that equation reverses itself — when longer-term Treasurys pay less than shorter-term ones — economists call it an "inverted yield curve ." An inverted curve suggests that bond investors expect growth to slow so much that the Federal Reserve will soon feel compelled to slash short-term rates to try to support the economy.

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Biographer: Statue poem embraces migrants from 'all places'

Long before a Trump administration official suggested the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty welcomed only people from Europe, the words captured America's promise to newcomers at a time when the nation was also seeking to exclude many immigrants from landing on its shores.

A biographer of poet Emma Lazarus on Wednesday challenged the comment by the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, explaining that Lazarus' words were her way of urging Americans "to embrace the poor and destitute of all places and origins."

Lazarus wrote "The New Colossus" in 1883, one year after Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned labourers from China. The poem is best known for its line about welcoming "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

Beginning in the 1930s, supporters of immigration began using the poem to bolster their cause. Biographer Esther Schor said Lazarus was "deeply involved" in refugee causes.

Ken Cuccinelli suggested Tuesday in an interview with NPR that the line should be changed to "give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge."

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Rep. King suggests rapes, incest helped populate the world

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Rep. Steve King on Wednesday defended his call for a ban on all abortions by questioning whether there would be "any population of the world left" if not for births due to rape and incest.

Speaking before a conservative group in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale, the Iowa congressman reviewed legislation he has sought that would outlaw abortions without exceptions for rape and incest. King justified the lack of exceptions by questioning how many people would be alive if not for those conceived through rapes and incest.

"What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?" King asked, according to video of the event, which was covered by The Des Moines Register. "Considering all the wars and all the rape and pillage that's taken place ... I know I can't certify that I'm not a part of a product of that."

He added: "It's not the baby's fault for the sin of the father, or of the mother."

A King spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

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For inmates like Epstein, suicide watch is meant to be short

NEW YORK (AP) — Suicide is such a constant concern at federal jails that guards have ready access to "the stick," a wooden pole with a sharpened blade at the end that's used to cut down inmates if they try to hang themselves with bedsheets.

That's believed to be exactly how Jeffrey Epstein took his life Saturday at the Metropolitan Correctional Center's Special Housing Unit after a possible previous attempt, and less than two weeks after he had been taken off suicide watch, in which the lights are left on all night, inmates are not allowed bedsheets, and they are monitored round-the-clock by someone making notes every 15 minutes.

For all the talk from politicians and conspiracy theorists that Epstein should have remained under such scrutiny behind bars, prison experts say suicide watch is intended for only short periods because it puts too much stress on the staff and inmate alike.

"It's just not humane to keep them on those restrictions indefinitely," said Lindsay Hayes, a nationally recognized expert on inmate suicide prevention and a project director for the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives. "Many times, suicidal inmates will deny they're suicidal so they can get their clothes and privileges back."

The 66-year-old Epstein was awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls when he killed himself, taking his life amid a cascading series of breakdowns at the MCC's Special Housing Unit, a chronically overcrowded, understaffed lockup-within-a-lockup that has held some of the world's most notorious terrorists, drug lords, sex traffickers and swindlers. The SHU can hold several dozen inmates at once.

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Trump suggests trade deal can wait for Hong Kong resolution

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump suggested Wednesday that trade talks with China can wait until tensions in Hong Kong have eased, tweeting: "Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!"

Trump also praised Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling him a "great leader" and saying he could quickly resolve the unrest in Hong Kong if he wanted to. "I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?" Trump tweeted.

Trump has previously said little about the protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, except to make it clear he believes that Hong Kong and China need to "deal with that themselves." He has urged the two sides to exercise caution and voiced hopes that the situation will be resolved peacefully.

His more extensive comments Wednesday came as U.S. stock markets tumbled, in part because of uncertainty over Trump's trade standoff with Beijing. Investors have also been rattled about the widespread protests in Hong Kong. Flights resumed at Hong Kong's airport after two days of disruptions that descended into clashes with police.

While Trump has been reticent to take sides, some Republican and Democratic members of Congress have voiced their support for the protesters. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, issued a statement last week saying that "dreams of freedom, justice and democracy can never be extinguished by injustice and intimidation."

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Thousands attend El Paso memorial for shooting victims

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Leaders from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border gathered in El Paso Wednesday night to memorialize the 22 people killed this month when a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in the Texas border city.

Thousands of people streamed into the baseball stadium in downtown El Paso with a capacity of 10,000. With some sections blocked off it could hold 8,000 people Wednesday.

Nine circles and 22 stars formed by luminarias — traditional lanterns made from paper bags, sand, and LED lights — adorned the field in honour of the nine people killed in the Dayton, Ohio, mass shooting and the El Paso shooting victims.

The ceremony at Southwest University Park officially commemorated those killed in the largely Latino city by a gunman who police say confessed to driving from the Dallas area to target Mexicans. Most of the dead had Hispanic last names, and eight were Mexican nationals. Nearly two dozen others were injured.

Before the commemoration began Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that the state is adding manpower to gang investigations of white nationalist groups in the wake of the shooting. He also said Texas will create a new domestic terrorism unit to help "root out the extremist ideologies that fuel hatred and violence in our state."

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Jay-Z defends NFL deal with Roc Nation, talks Kaepernick

NEW YORK (AP) — A day after Jay-Z announced that his Roc Nation company was partnering with the NFL, the rap icon explained that he still supports protesting, kneeling and NFL player Colin Kaepernick, but he's also interested in working with the league to make substantial changes.

The Grammy winner and entrepreneur fielded questions Wednesday at his company's New York City headquarters alongside NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. When directly asked if he would kneel or stand, Jay-Z said: "I think we've moved past kneeling and I think it's time to go into actionable items."

He then added: "No, I don't want people to stop protesting at all. Kneeling — I know we're stuck on it because it's a real thing — but kneeling is a form of protest. I support protest across the board. We need to bring light to the issue. I think everyone knows what the issue is — we're done with that," he added. "We all know the issue now. OK, next. What are we moving (on to) next? ...And I'm not minimizing that part of it because that has to happen, that's a necessary part of the process. But now that we all know what's going on, what are we going to do? How are we going to stop it? Because the kneeling was not about a job, it was about injustice."

Jay-Z has been among the biggest supporters of Kaepernick, who sparked a fissure in the NFL when he decided to kneel when the national anthem was played before games to protest the killings of blacks by police officers. Some called him unpatriotic, and he has not played for the NFL since he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. Earlier this year, the NFL settled a lawsuit brought by Kaepernick and Eric Reid that alleged that owners colluded to keep them from playing in the league (Reid criticized Jay-Z's new deal with the league).

When asked why he didn't involve Kaepernick in the new Roc Nation-NFL deal, Jay-Z said: "You'd have to ask him. I'm not his boss. I can't just bring him into something. That's for him to say."

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Pure as snow? Scientists say air carrying plastics to Arctic

BERLIN (AP) — Scientists say they've found an abundance of tiny plastic particles in Arctic snow, indicating that so-called microplastics are being sucked into the atmosphere and carried long distances to some of the remotest corners of the planet.

The researchers examined snow collected from sites in the Arctic, northern Germany, the Bavarian and Swiss Alps and the North Sea island of Heligoland with a process specially designed to analyze their samples in a lab.

"While we did expect to find microplastics, the enormous concentrations surprised us," Melanie Bergmann, a researcher at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, said.

Their findings were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

Previous studies have found microplastics — which are created when man-made materials break apart and defined as pieces smaller than 5 millimeters — in the air of Paris, Tehran and Dongguan, China.

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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