AP News in Brief at 11:09 p.m. EDT - InfoNews

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AP News in Brief at 11:09 p.m. EDT

May 14, 2019 - 8:09 PM

Alabama Senate passes near-total ban on abortion

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's Senate passed a near-total ban on abortion Tuesday, sending what would be the nation's most stringent abortion law to the state's Republican governor.

The Republican-dominated Senate voted 25-6 for the bill that would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the abortion provider. The only exception would be when the woman's health is at serious risk.

Senators rejected an attempt to add an exception for rape and incest. The amendment was voted down 21-11, with four Republicans joining Democrats in the seeking the amendment.

"You don't care anything about babies having babies in this state, being raped and incest," Democratic Sen. Bobby Singleton said after the amendment's defeat. "You just aborted the state of Alabama with your rhetoric with this bill."

Rep. Terri Collins, the bill's sponsor, said she expects Gov. Kay Ivey to sign the bill into law. Ivey has not publicly commented on what she'll do.

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Global worries flare over whether US sliding toward Iran war

WASHINGTON (AP) — International worries that the Trump administration is sliding toward war with Iran flared into the open Tuesday amid skepticism about its claims that the Islamic Republic poses a growing threat to the U.S. and its allies in the Persian Gulf and beyond .

The U.S. military rebutted doubts expressed by a British general about such a threat. President Donald Trump denied a report that the administration has updated plans to send more than 100,000 troops to counter Iran if necessary. But Trump then stirred the controversy further by saying: "Would I do that? Absolutely."

The general's remarks exposed international skepticism over the American military build-up in the Middle East, a legacy of the 2003 invasion of Iraq that was predicated on false intelligence. U.S. officials have not publicly provided any evidence to back up claims of an increased Iranian threat amid other signs of allied unease.

As tensions in the region started to surge, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said his nation was worried about the risk of accidental conflict "with an escalation that is unintended really on either side." Then on Tuesday, Spain temporarily pulled one of its frigates from the U.S.-led combat fleet heading toward the Strait of Hormuz. That was followed by the unusual public challenge to the Trump administration by the general.

"No, there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria," said Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a senior officer in the U.S.-backed coalition fighting the Islamic State group. Ghika, speaking in a video conference from coalition headquarters in Baghdad, told reporters at the Pentagon that the coalition monitors the presence of Iranian-backed forces "along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in."

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Analysis: Persian Gulf tensions, unclear threats raise risks

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Murky claims of sabotage to oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. A drone attack on a pipeline in Saudi Arabia. A U.S. aircraft carrier strike group steaming toward an unspecified threat.

The events roiling the Persian Gulf in recent days have the potential to affect everything from the price of a gallon of gas to the fate of nations.

And for those feeling confused by it all, don't worry: Everyone else seems to be puzzled too, only raising the possibility of a miscalculation.

Just as what sparked the rapid series of market-moving events remains unclear; so does the reason for the White House deploying warships and B-52 bombers to the region.

Days later, Iran marked the anniversary of President Donald Trump withdrawing the U.S. from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers by announcing it also would begin backing away from the accord. It set a 60-day deadline for Europe to offer it a better deal before it would begin enriching uranium to higher levels that the West fears could allow it to obtain atomic bombs.

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Trump's defence of tariffs based on dubious claims

WASHINGTON (AP) — He's been contradicted by one of his top advisers, dinged in regular fact checks and called out by top economists. Still, President Donald Trump has held firm to dubious declarations about trade policy, raising questions among experts and even his allies about whether he either can't — or won't — grasp the fundamentals of the issue.

This week, as he escalates a trade war with China, Trump has misstated how the tariffs are paid, who pays them and the significance and size of the trade deficit. His assertions came even as others in the White House worry about whether Trump's zeal for tariffs could have a political price.

The president's frequent claims provide a window into his long-held beliefs on trade and the difficulty of changing his economic worldview. They also signal that Trump may not back off the hawkish approach easily and is almost certain to continue to misrepresent the likely impact.

Trump's views on tariffs depart from conventional economics in at least three ways: He has repeatedly claimed that the Chinese — not Americans — are paying the 25% tariff he has imposed on $250 billion of Chinese imports. He has described the trade deficits that the United States runs with other individual countries as total economic losses. And he argues that the U.S. trade deficit with all other countries combined is a result of bad trade policy.

On all three questions, trade experts fundamentally disagree.

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Border wall to go up in national monument, wildlife refuge

PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. government plans on replacing barriers through 100 miles (161 kilometres) of the southern border in California and Arizona, including through a national monument and a wildlife refuge, according to documents and environmental advocates.

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday again waived environmental and dozens of other laws to build more barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Funding will come from the Defence Department following the emergency declaration that President Donald Trump signed this year after Congress refused to approve the amount of border wall funding he requested.

Barriers will go up at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a vast park named after the unique cactus breed that decorates it, and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which is largely a designed wilderness home to 275 wildlife species. The government will also build new roads and lighting in those areas in Arizona.

Environmental advocates who have sued to stop the construction of the wall say this latest plan will be detrimental to the wildlife and habitat in those areas.

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AP sources: Panel reaches deal with Trump Jr. for interview

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Intelligence Committee has struck a deal with Donald Trump Jr. to appear for a closed-door interview next month, pulling the two sides back, for now, from a confrontation over a subpoena as part of the panel's Russia investigation.

Under the terms of the deal, according to two people familiar with the agreement, Trump Jr. will talk to the committee in mid-June for up to four hours. The people spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday to discuss the confidential terms.

The deal comes after the panel subpoenaed President Donald Trump's eldest son to discuss answers he gave the panel's staff in a 2017 interview. Trump Jr. had backed out of interviews twice, prompting the subpoena, according to people familiar with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr's remarks to a GOP luncheon last week. Those people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Burr's remarks in the private senators' meeting.

The deadline for Trump Jr. to respond was Monday, according to one of the people familiar with the terms. His lawyers drafted a letter to the committee declining an appearance and the president's son expected to be held in contempt for declining to be interviewed.

But before the letter was sent, the committee reached out Monday evening and extended the deadline. The deal was then struck.

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Consumers could be collateral damage if US expands tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — For many Americans, President Donald Trump's trade war may soon get very real.

His administration is preparing to extend 25% tariffs to practically all Chinese imports not already hit with duties, including toys, sneakers, shirts, alarm clocks, toasters and coffeemakers. That's roughly $300 billion worth of products on top of the $250 billion targeted earlier.

"The administration's decision to announce a tax on every product coming from China puts America's entire economy at risk," the Retail Industry Leaders Association said in a statement. "Americans' entire shopping cart will get more expensive."

Trump's tariffs are meant to put pressure on China in trade negotiations. The two countries have held 11 rounds of talks over American allegations that China steals technology, forces foreign companies to hand over trade secrets and unfairly subsidizes its own companies in a push to challenge U.S. technological dominance.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Monday published a list of 3,805 products that could be hit for the first time with 25% tariffs. The list includes things like tuna, pacifiers, saw blades, flashlights, door chimes, billiard balls and golf carts. It excludes pharmaceuticals and rare-earth minerals used in electronics and batteries.

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San Francisco bans police use of face recognition technology

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco supervisors voted Tuesday to ban the use of facial recognition software by police and other city departments, becoming the first U.S. city to outlaw a rapidly developing technology that has alarmed privacy and civil liberties advocates.

The ban is part of broader legislation that requires city departments to establish use policies and obtain board approval for surveillance technology they want to purchase or are using at present. Several other local governments require departments to disclose and seek approval for surveillance technology.

"This is really about saying: 'We can have security without being a security state. We can have good policing without being a police state.' And part of that is building trust with the community based on good community information, not on Big Brother technology," said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who championed the legislation.

The ban applies to San Francisco police and other municipal departments. It does not affect use of the technology by the federal government at airports and ports, nor does it limit personal or business use.

The San Francisco board did not spend time Tuesday debating the outright ban on facial recognition technology, focusing instead on the possible burdens placed on police, the transit system and other city agencies that need to maintain public safety.

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Synagogue shooting suspect pleads not guilty to hate crimes

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The man suspected of killing a woman in a shooting at a Southern California synagogue pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges Tuesday.

John T. Earnest spoke twice during the brief hearing — to acknowledge his name and to say he agreed with his court-appointed attorney's decision against seeking bail.

Earnest, 19, is charged with bursting into the Chabad of Poway synagogue on April 27 and opening fire with an assault rifle, killing one and injuring three.

Peter Ko, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the judge that the government had not decided whether to seek the death penalty. He reaffirmed plans to try Earnest separately and simultaneously with a state charge of murder that is classified as a hate crime, which also exposes Earnest to a potential death sentence.

Earnest had a buzz haircut and didn't wear glasses, unlike his first appearance in state court two weeks ago, when he had a full head of hair. He looked blankly at Magistrate Judge Michael Berg as the judge explained the proceedings and followed along with his attorney, Kathryn Nester, as she flipped pages of the charging document that the judge read aloud. Earnest's wrists and ankles were shackled.

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Comedian Tim Conway of 'The Carol Burnett Show' dies at 85

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tim Conway, the impish second banana to Carol Burnett who won four Emmy Awards on her TV variety show, starred aboard "McHale's Navy" and later voiced the role of Barnacle Boy for "Spongebob Squarepants," has died. He was 85.

Conway died Tuesday morning in a Los Angeles care facility, according to Howard Bragman, who heads LaBrea Media. Conway's wife, Charlene Fusco, and a daughter, Jackie, were at his side. The cause was a disorder in which there is an excess of fluid on the brain, Bragman said.

Burnett said in a statement Tuesday that she was heartbroken. "He was one in a million, not only as a brilliant comedian but as a loving human being. I cherish the times we had together both on the screen and off. He'll be in my heart forever."

Tributes also came from across the comedy world, including from Conan O'Brien, who said "no one made me laugh harder than Tim Conway" and Kathy Griffin, who called him "a wildly talented, comedy giant." Al Roker tweeted out a link to Conway playing a hysterically incompetent dentist.

A native of Ohio, Conway credited his Midwestern roots for putting him on the right path to laughs, with his deadpan expression and innocent, simple-minded demeanour.

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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