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

June 21, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Trump rally highlights vulnerabilities heading into election

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump's return to the campaign trail was designed to show strength and enthusiasm heading into the critical final months before an election that will decide whether he remains in the White House.

Instead, his weekend rally in Oklahoma highlighted growing vulnerabilities and crystallized a divisive reelection message that largely ignores broad swaths of voters — independents, suburban women and people of colour — who could play a crucial role in choosing Trump or Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

The lower-than-expected turnout at the comeback rally, in particular, left Trump fuming.

“There’s really only one strategy left for him, and that is to propel that rage and anger and try to split the society and see if he can have a tribal leadership win here,” former Trump adviser-turned-critic Anthony Scaramucci said on CNN's “Reliable Sources.”

The president did not offer even a token reference to national unity in remarks that spanned more than an hour and 40 minutes at his self-described campaign relaunch as the nation grappled with surging coronavirus infections, the worst unemployment since the Great Depression and sweeping civil unrest.

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Because of the virus, dads mark Father's Day from a distance

CHICAGO (AP) — Wake Sharp got to see his family on Father’s Day -- see them, not hug them, not kiss them, not even shake hands.

Because of the terrible toll taken by the coronavirus on older people in nursing homes and other institutions, the 93-year-old Navy veteran and his loved ones had to stay on opposite sides of a plexiglass barrier and talk by phone at the assisted-living home outside San Francisco where he is a resident.

“It’s better than nothing!” he said. “I really enjoy it.”

Dads at nursing homes across the country marked Father’s Day at a forced distance from their families Sunday. Some families relied on video calls; others used social media to send their wishes.

The virus has made in-person visits with elderly and high-risk family members difficult and sometimes impossible in recent months, though parts of the country have begun loosening up. Maryland and Illinois were among states that allowed outdoor visits at nursing homes with masks and six feet of distance.

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2nd wave of virus cases? Experts say we're still in the 1st

What's all this talk about a “second wave” of U.S. coronavirus cases?

In The Wall Street Journal last week, Vice-President Mike Pence wrote in a piece headlined “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave'" that the nation is winning the fight against the virus.

Many public health experts, however, suggest it's no time to celebrate. About 120,000 Americans have died from the new virus and daily counts of new cases in the U.S. are the highest they've been in more than a month, driven by alarming recent increases in the South and West.

But there is at least one point of agreement: “Second wave” is probably the wrong term to describe what's happening.

“When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave?" said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. “We’re in the first wave. Let’s get out of the first wave before you have a second wave.”

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George Soros conspiracy theories surge as protests sweep US

They say he hires protesters and rents buses to transport them. Some say he has people stash piles of bricks to be hurled into glass storefronts or at police.

George Soros, the billionaire investor and philanthropist who has long been a target of conspiracy theories, is now being falsely accused of orchestrating and funding the protests over police killings of Black people that have roiled the United States. Amplified by a growing number of people on the far right, including some Republican leaders, online posts about Soros have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

They have been accompanied by online ads bought by conservative groups that call on authorities to “investigate George Soros for funding domestic terrorism and his decades-long corruption.”

Soros, 89, has donated billions of dollars of his personal wealth to liberal and anti-authoritarian causes around the world, making him a favoured target among many on the right. The Hungarian-American, who is Jewish, has also been the subject of anti-Semitic attacks and conspiracy theories for decades.

Such hoaxes can now travel farther and faster with social media.

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Did TikTok teens, K-Pop fans punk Trump's comeback rally?

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Did teens, TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music troll the president of the United States?

For more than a week before Donald Trump’s first campaign rally in three months on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, these tech-savvy groups opposing the president mobilized to reserve tickets for an event they had no intention of attending. While it’s unlikely they were responsible for the low turnout, their antics may have inflated the campaign’s expectations for attendance numbers that led to Saturday's disappointing show.

“My 16 year old daughter and her friends in Park City Utah have hundreds of tickets. You have been rolled by America’s teens," veteran Republican campaign strategist Steve Schmidt tweeted on Saturday. The tweet garnered more than 100,000 likes and many responses from people who say they or their kids did the same.

Reached by telephone Sunday, Schmidt called the rally an “unmitigated disaster” — days after Trump campaign chairman Brad Parscale tweeted that more than a million people requested tickets for the rally through Trump’s campaign website.

Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for Trump's Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, said the turnout was a sign of weakening voter support. “Donald Trump has abdicated leadership and it is no surprise that his supporters have responded by abandoning him,” he said.

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Pirated editions of John Bolton memoir have appeared online

NEW YORK (AP) — John Bolton's memoir officially comes out Tuesday after surviving a security review and a legal challenge from the Justice Department. But over the weekend, it was available in ways even his publisher is hoping to prevent.

A PDF of “The Room Where It Happened” has turned up on the internet, offering a free, pirated edition of the former national security adviser's scathing takedown of President Donald Trump, who has alleged that the book contains classified material that never should have been released.

“We are working assiduously to take down these clearly illegal instances of copyright infringement,” Simon & Schuster spokesperson Adam Rothberg said Sunday.

Piracy has long been a top concern among publishers, especially in the digital age, although the actual impact on sales is undetermined. “The Room Where It Happened” has been No. 1 for days on the Amazon.com bestseller list. The Associated Press was among several news outlets that obtained early copies of the book and reported on its contents.

On Saturday, a federal judge ruled that Simon & Schuster could publish the book despite the Trump administration's contention that it compromised national security. “The Room Where It Happened” was originally scheduled for March, but was delayed twice as the White House reviewed the manuscript.

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Injuries at protests draw scrutiny to use of police weaponry

NEW YORK (AP) — In law enforcement, they’re referred to as “nonlethal” tools for dealing with demonstrations that turn unruly: rubber bullets, pepper spray, batons, flash-bangs.

But the now-familiar scenes of U.S. police officers in riot gear clashing with protesters at Lafayette Park across from the White House and in other cities have police critics charging that the weaponry too often escalates tensions and hurts innocent people.

“When you see riot gear, it absolutely changes the mood,” said Ron Moten, a longtime community organizer in the nation's capital who was out demonstrating this weekend. He said it takes away any perception the officers could be empathetic.

“If I went up to speak with a police officer and I’m covered in armour and holding a shield and a stick, don’t you think they would regard me as a threat?”

“When we see riot gear, as black people it takes us back 400 years," he said.

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WHO reports largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization on Sunday reported the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases by its count, at more than 183,000 new cases in the latest 24 hours.

The UN health agency said Brazil led the way with 54,771 cases tallied and the U.S. next at 36,617. Over 15,400 came in in India.

Experts said rising case counts can reflect multiple factors including more widespread testing as well as broader infection.

Overall in the pandemic, WHO reported 8,708,008 cases — 183,020 in the last 24 hours — with 461,715 deaths worldwide, with a daily increase of 4,743.

More than two-thirds of those new deaths were reported in the Americas.

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8 young children drown in river in southwestern Chinese city

BEIJING (AP) — Eight children drowned in a river in southwestern China after one fell in and the others jumped in to help, state media said Monday.

The children, described as elementary-school age, had gone to play at a beach Sunday on the Fu River, according to state broadcaster CCTV. Their bodies were recovered by Monday morning.

They came from Mixin, a town near Sichuan province on the outskirts of the sprawling metropolis of Chongqing. No further details were immediately available.

Heavy rain had been forecast for the area, but it wasn’t clear if the weather was a factor.

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AP FACT CHECK: Trump blames protesters for low rally turnout

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump falsely said at his rally Saturday night that Democratic rival Joe Biden apologized for opposing his restrictions on travel from China early in the coronavirus pandemic. Scrambling to explain an unusually thin rally crowd, his campaign wrongly pinned blame on blockades by protesters for driving the masses away.

Trump spoke in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in an arena with thousands of empty seats, a striking disconnect from the million people he had said wanted to come. It was his first rally in months and played out as coronavirus infections have been rising in Tulsa and the state.

Trump's remarks followed days of self-congratulation as well as trashing of the Obama administration in which Biden served as vice-president. Many of the president’s statements — on the pandemic, public unrest over police brutality, his record on veterans and more — were inaccurate.

A sampling from his statements Saturday night and the past week:

RALLY

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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