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

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

December 05, 2017 - 8:04 PM

Trump forges ahead on Jerusalem-as-capital despite warnings

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests.

Trump will instruct the State Department to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, U.S. officials said Tuesday. It remains unclear, however, when he might take that physical step, which is required by U.S. law but has been waived on national security grounds for more than two decades.

The officials said numerous logistical and security details, as well as site determination and construction, will need to be finalized first. Because of those issues, the embassy is not likely to move for at least 3 or 4 years, presuming there is no future change in U.S. policy.

To that end, the officials said Trump will sign a waiver delaying the embassy move, which is required by U.S. law every six months. He will continue to sign the waiver until preparations for the embassy move are complete.

The officials said recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital will be an acknowledgement of "historical and current reality" rather than a political statement and said the city's physical and political borders will not be compromised. They noted that almost all of Israel's government agencies and parliament are in Jerusalem, rather than Tel Aviv, where the U.S. and other countries maintain embassies.

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California communities under siege from wind-driven fires

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — Wind-driven fires tore through California communities Tuesday for the second time in two months, leaving hundreds of homes feared lost and uprooting tens of thousands of people.

The most damaging fire was in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, where 150 structures were confirmed destroyed. But a fire official said he suspected "hundreds more" would be lost when flames died down enough to make a thorough assessment.

In the San Gabriel Mountains foothills of Los Angeles about 45 miles (72 kilometres) away from the city, 30 structures burned. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the gusty winds expected to last most of the week had created a dangerous situation and he urged 150,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders to leave their homes before it's too late.

"We have lost structures, we have not lost lives," he said. "Do not wait. Leave your homes."

The fires in Ventura County lit up hillsides and spread rapidly Monday evening from rural rolling hills to dense subdivisions. Residents, already warned of extreme fire danger, were sent automated phone alerts and evacuations appeared to proceed smoothly.

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10 Things to Know for Wednesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

1. TRUMP POISED TO UPEND DECADES OF US POLICY

The president is forging ahead with plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition.

2. MEDIA EXEC HIT WITH MISCONDUCT CLAIMS

Former employees who worked with Dylan Howard tell the AP that the top editor for the National Enquirer and other major gossip publications engaged in sexual misconduct in the newsroom.

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Thumbs-up from athletes for IOC decision on Russia

PARIS (AP) — Athletes who lost medals because of Russia's doping program at the Sochi Olympics gave a broad thumbs-up to the International Olympic Committee's decision Tuesday to let Russians compete at the upcoming Pyeongchang Games — but not under their own flag.

The consensus among athletes was that the IOC struck a good balance between punishing the nation but not Russian athletes who may not have been part of the vast doping scheme.

"It sounds like a really good compromise to me," said Stuart Benson, who raced on the British four-man bobsled team that placed fifth in Sochi, but which now hopes for the bronze medal after two Russian sleds were disqualified. When those DQs were announced in November, Benson celebrated with a macaroni cheese dinner.

"It's a punishment for the state, the country, and they are obviously trying not to punish the athletes who haven't done anything wrong," he said in a phone interview moments after the IOC announced that Russian athletes who pass a series of drug tests can apply to compete as neutral athletes. If Russians win, the Russian flag won't fly and the anthem won't be played.

He said he expects the screening process will weed out any cheats.

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President: French rock icon Johnny Hallyday dies at 74

PARIS (AP) — Johnny Hallyday, France's biggest rock star for decades and an icon who packed sports stadiums and all but lit up the Eiffel Tower with his pumping pelvis and high-voltage tunes, has died. He was 74.

President Emmanuel Macron's office announced his death in a statement early Wednesday, saying "he brought a part of America into our national pantheon."

Macron's office said the president spoke with Hallyday's family after the news. Hallyday had long suffered from lung cancer and had repeated health scares recently that dominated national news.

Hallyday's glitzy stage aura was clearly fashioned around stars like Elvis Presley and his musical inspiration came from the likes of Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. Yet his stardom largely ended at the French-speaking world.

Macron said "we all have something of Johnny Hallyday in us." Celine Dion was among stars sharing condolences.

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Hundreds of thousands of poor people detained in hospitals

BENI, Congo (AP) — Faida Mwenge's baby boy is nearly 3 months old but she and her son are still not allowed to leave the hospital — not until their bill is paid. The 20-year-old in eastern Congo has been detained since giving birth via an emergency cesarean section and owes hospital authorities $190 before she and little Jospin will be released.

Mwenge is one of hundreds of thousands of people estimated to be illegally detained every year by hospitals in poor countries worldwide, according to a new study attempting to quantify the problem, which experts describe as a major violation of human rights. The Associated Press found about a dozen other people detained at the same hospital because they are unable to settle their bills.

In the report released by British think-tank Chatham House on Wednesday, experts reviewed nine studies on the issue and combed through media articles documenting cases of patients detained in 14 countries from Latin America to sub-Saharan Africa. The researchers found more than 950 cases between 2003 and 2017, including a report of about 400 patients held in a single hospital in Kenya in 2009.

The researchers said based on that limited data, the rate of detentions reported and the size of the countries where such reports originated, it was likely that hundreds of thousands more people faced the same fate.

"It appears to be very systemic and a big problem in countries where the charging of user fees is rampant and unregulated," said Robert Yates of Chatham House, the study's lead author. "Even though all countries would say these practices are illegal, the law is not being enforced and health facilities are just breaking the law and essentially holding people hostage until their families pay their bills."

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AP Exclusive: Top gossip editor accused of sexual misconduct

NEW YORK (AP) — The top editor for the National Enquirer, Us Weekly and other major gossip publications openly described his sexual partners in the newsroom, discussed female employees' sex lives and forced women to watch or listen to pornographic material, former employees told The Associated Press.

The behaviour by Dylan Howard, currently the chief content officer of American Media Inc., occurred while he was running the company's Los Angeles office, according to men and women who worked there. Howard's self-proclaimed nickname was "Dildo," a phallus-shaped sex toy, the former employees said. His conduct led to an internal inquiry in 2012 by an outside consultant, and former employees said he stopped working out of the L.A. office after the inquiry.

Howard quit soon after the report was completed, but the company rehired him one year later with a promotion that landed him in the company's main office in New York. It was not clear whether Howard faced any discipline over the accusations. AP is not aware of any sexual harassment allegations involving Howard since he was rehired.

The AP spoke with 12 former employees who knew about the investigation into Howard's behaviour, though not all were aware of every detail. The outside investigator hired to examine complaints about Howard's behaviour also confirmed to AP that he completed a report.

In a brief phone interview with the AP, Howard characterized the ex-employees' claims as "baseless."

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Bannon savages GOP leaders in fight for Alabama Senate seat

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (AP) — Populist firebrand Steve Bannon savaged national Republican leaders Tuesday night in a fiery call to rally voters behind embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore as the battle for the GOP's soul spilled into a dirt-floor barn deep in rural Alabama.

Bannon, known best for his former role as President Donald Trump's chief strategist, called GOP leaders in Congress "cowards" and attacked the party's 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney as a draft dodger as he defended Moore, who is fighting several allegations of sexual misconduct and a Washington establishment that wants him to lose the Dec. 12 election.

"The days of taking it silently are over," Bannon declared at a rally that drew hundreds of Moore supporters to a local farm in the southwestern corner of the state.

"They want to destroy Judge Roy Moore. You know why? They want to take your voice away," Bannon said as Moore looked on. "If they can destroy Roy Moore, they can destroy you."

Even if he isn't well-known in this heavily Republican county, Bannon's appearance was a welcome development for Moore, who has been shunned by the Republican Party's biggest stars. Trump himself agreed to campaign later in the week in nearby Florida, but many national GOP leaders say the allegations against Moore are credible and he shouldn't serve in the Senate.

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AP FACT CHECK: Trump's aggressive immigration enforcement

SAN DIEGO (AP) — On immigration enforcement, the Trump administration is eager to show that it is getting the "bad dudes" out, the "really bad ones," as the president vowed to do.

So when immigration officials came forward Tuesday to produce statistics showing an aggressive arrest record, they were eager to demonstrate that they're giving priority to serious criminals, not just those whose only crime is being in the country illegally.

Although more criminals have been arrested, many more without such records are being picked up. What is apparent is that immigration arrests are up across the board and fewer people are trying to get into the country illegally.

Thomas Homan, deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, addressed the subject at a news conference.

HOMAN: "I've read a lot of stories and comments over the past several months falsely accusing ICE of conducting indiscriminate raids and sweeps, arresting people at churches, arresting people at hospitals. I've repeatedly said that is false. We conduct targeted enforcement operations. Every person we arrest we know exactly who we're going to arrest and where we're going to arrest them. ... For those who say ICE no longer prioritizes criminals, fact: We arrested more criminals this year than we did last year."

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Kennedy seems conflicted in Supreme Court wedding cake case

WASHINGTON (AP) — On a sharply divided Supreme Court, the justice in the middle seemed conflicted Tuesday in the court's high-stakes consideration of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012.

The court's fault lines were laid bare in a riveting argument that focused equally on baker Jack Phillips' right to refuse to put his artistic talents to use in support of something in which he disagrees and the Colorado couple's right to be treated like any other two people who wanted a cake to celebrate their marriage.

Both views were reflected in the questions and comments of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of all the court's major gay-rights decisions and a fierce defender of free speech. The outcome of the case seemed to rest with the 81-year-old justice, who often finds himself with the decisive vote in cases that otherwise divide the court's conservatives and liberals.

Phillips and the couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, were in the courtroom for arguments in the closely watched case that could affect other situations where there's a clash between social conservatives' claim of religious freedom and the LGBT community's fight to preserve hard-won rights.

President Donald Trump's administration is supporting Phillips in his argument that he can't be forced to create a cake that violates his religious beliefs. It appears to be the first time the federal government has asked the justices to carve out an exception from an anti-discrimination law.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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