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

June 06, 2020 - 8:05 PM

Protesters flood streets in huge, peaceful push for change

WASHINGTON (AP) — Massive demonstrations against racism and police brutality filled some of the nation’s most famous cityscapes Saturday, with tens of thousands of people marching peacefully in scenes that were more often festive than tense.

Wearing masks and urging police reform, protesters gathered in dozens of places from coast to coast, while mourners in North Carolina waited for hours to glimpse the golden coffin carrying the body of native son George Floyd, a black man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police has galvanized the expanding movement.

Collectively, it was perhaps the largest one-day mobilization since Floyd died 12 days ago and came as many cities began lifting curfews that authorities imposed following initial spasms of arson, assaults and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. Authorities have softened restrictions as the number of arrests plummeted.

Demonstrations also reached four other continents, ending in clashes in two European cities.

The largest U.S. demonstration appeared to be in Washington, where streams of protesters flooded streets that were closed to traffic. On a hot, humid day, protesters gathered at the Capitol, on the National Mall and in neighbourhoods. Some turned intersections into dance floors. Tents offered snacks and water. On one block, the chime of an ice cream truck competed with the rumble of a helicopter overhead.

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As Trump blames antifa, protest records show scant evidence

WASHINGTON (AP) — Scott Nichols, a balloon artist, was riding home on his scooter from the protests engulfing Minneapolis last weekend when he was struck by a rubber bullet fired from a cluster of police officers in riot gear.

“I just pulled over and put my hands up, because I didn’t want to get killed,” said Nichols, 40. “Anybody that knows me knows I wasn’t out there to cause problems.”

Nichols, who before the coronavirus pandemic made his living performing at children’s birthday parties under the stage name “Amazing Scott,” spent two days in jail before being released, facing criminal charges of riot and curfew violation.

President Donald Trump has characterized those clashing with law enforcement after George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer as organized, radical-left thugs engaging in domestic terrorism, an assertion repeated by Attorney General William Barr. Some Democrats, including Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, initially tried to blame out-of-state far-right infiltrators for the unrest before walking back those statements.

There is scant evidence either is true.

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Anatomy of a political comeback: How Biden earned nomination

BALTIMORE (AP) — It seemed easy to write off Joe Biden.

The former vice-president came across as easily blindsided at debates. The crowds at his presidential campaign speeches were far from stadium size. Other Democratic candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg each had moments of radiating a kinetic energy, while Biden appeared to be conserving his resources.

But Biden had name recognition.

He is able to connect on an emotional level with people who have experienced personal loss, as he has. And as Barack Obama’s wingman for eight years, Biden was a reminder to many Democrats of what a president should be.

The opening contests in the 2020 nominating race in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada were humbling losses for Biden. Then came a commanding victory in South Carolina with help from African American voters. Rivals departed the race, and within days his coalition expanded to make him a lock for the nomination that was officially secured Friday night.

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Analysis: White House, Pentagon tensions near breaking point

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tensions between the White House and Pentagon have stretched to near a breaking point over President Donald Trump's threat to use military force against street protests triggered by George Floyd's death.

Friction in this relationship, historically, is not unusual. But in recent days, and for the second time in Trump's term, it has raised a prospect of high-level resignations and the risk of lasting damage to the military's reputation.

Calm may return, both in the crisis over Floyd's death and in Pentagon leaders' angst over Trump's threats to use federal troops to put down protesters. But it could leave a residue of resentment and unease about this president's approach to the military, whose leaders welcome his push for bigger budgets but chafe at being seen as political tools.

The nub of the problem is that Trump sees no constraint on his authority to use what he calls the “unlimited power” of the military even against U.S. citizens if he believes it necessary. Military leaders generally take a far different view. They believe that active-duty troops, trained to hunt and kill an enemy, should be used to enforce the law only in the most extreme emergency, such as an attempted actual rebellion. That limit exists, they argue, to keep the public’s trust.

Defence Secretary Mark Esper, a West Point graduate who served 10 years on active duty, argued against bringing federal troops into Washington. In a contentious Oval Office meeting with Trump and others on Monday, the president demanded 10,000 federal troops be sent to the capital city, according to a senior defence official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

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AP PHOTOS: Massive protests punctuate a week in the streets

They held up signs and their fists and the memory of George Floyd.

Tens of thousands of protesters marched worldwide in what could be the biggest one-day mobilization against racial injustice since a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes. Even after a week of the most significant protests the U.S. has seen in a generation, Saturday’s crowds stood out.

Protesters held signs with slogans saying “Black Lives Matter" and “No Justice No Peace" during marches that were peaceful, sometimes even festive, after previous days had devolved in chaos. Police sometimes joined protesters, kneeling in a show of solidarity.

But the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic loomed, with many protesters wearing masks to try to prevent the spread of the respiratory virus.

The showing on the streets came the same day Floyd was honoured at a memorial in his home state of North Carolina, where people lined up for hours to see his gold casket.

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Coronavirus disrupts global fight to save endangered species

WASHINGTON (AP) — Biologist Carlos Ruiz has spent a quarter-century working to save golden lion tamarins, the charismatic long-maned monkeys native to Brazil’s Atlantic Forest.

Thanks to painstaking reforestation efforts, the population of these endangered monkeys was steadily growing until an outbreak of yellow fever hit Brazil in 2018, wiping out a third of the tamarins. Undeterred, Ruiz’s team devised an ambitious new experiment: This spring, they would start vaccinating many of the remaining wild monkeys.

Enter the coronavirus, which is now hampering critical work to protect threatened species and habitats worldwide.

First, members of Ruiz’s team exposed to the virus had to be quarantined. Then the government closed national parks and protected areas to both the public and researchers in mid-April, effectively barring scientists from the reserves where tamarins live.

“We are worried about missing the window of opportunity to save the species,” said Ruiz, the president of the non-profit Golden Lion Tamarin Association. “We hope that we ... can still do our work before a second wave of yellow fever hits.”

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Zuckerberg-funded scientists: Rein in hate on Facebook

BOSTON (AP) — Dozens of scientists doing research funded by Mark Zuckerberg say Facebook should not be letting President Donald Trump use the social media platform to “spread both misinformation and incendiary statements.”

The researchers, including 60 professors at leading U.S. research institutions, wrote the Facebook CEO on Saturday asking Zuckerberg to “consider stricter policies on misinformation and incendiary language that harms people," especially during the current turmoil over racial injustice.

The letter calls the spread of “deliberate misinformation and divisive language” contrary to the researchers’ goals of using technology to prevent and eradicate disease, improve childhood education and reform the criminal justice system.

Their mission "is antithetical to some of the stances that Facebook has been taking, so we’re encouraging them to be more on the side of truth and on the right side of history as we’ve said in the letter,” said Debora Marks of Harvard Medical School, one of three professors who organized it.

The others are Martin Kampmann of the University of California-San Francisco and Jason Shepherd of the University of Utah. All have grants from a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative program working to prevent, cure and treat neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

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Prosecutor: 2 Buffalo police charged with assault in shoving

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Two Buffalo police officers were charged with assault Saturday, prosecutors said, after a video showed them shoving a 75-year-old protester in recent demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.

Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski, who surrendered Saturday morning, pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault. They were released without bail.

McCabe, 32, and Torgalski, 39, “crossed a line” when they shoved the man down hard enough for him to fall backward and hit his head on the sidewalk, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said at a news conference, calling the victim "a harmless 75-year-old man.”

The officers had been suspended without pay Friday after a TV crew captured the confrontation the night before. If convicted of the felony assault charge, they face up to seven years in prison.

McCabe's lawyer, Tom Burton, said after the arraignment that prosecutors didn't have any grounds to bring felony charges. He said his client is a decorated military veteran with a clean record as a police officer.

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Virus exposes sharp economic divide: College vs. non-college

BALTIMORE (AP) — For an American workforce under continuing threat from the coronavirus, the best protection might just be a college degree.

Friday's jobs report for May delivered a major pleasant surprise, with lower unemployment and 2.5 million added jobs, instead of the darkening picture that had been widely expected.

Yet the damage inflicted on the job market since February has highlighted a widening line of inequality based on education. In a nation in which a majority of workers lack a degree, college graduates are far more likely to be inoculated from the pain.

In May, the overall unemployment rate was 13.3%, down from 14.7% in April. For workers with only a high school diploma, the jobless rate was 15.3%. For college graduates, it was just 7.4%.

Fewer than half of high school graduates are now working. Two-thirds of college graduates are.

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Fox News: Black deaths, stock market graphic was insensitive

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fox News apologized Saturday for how it displayed a chart correlating the stock market's performance with the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd, Martin Luther King Jr. and Michael Brown.

The graphic that aired Friday to illustrate market reactions to historic periods of civil unrest "should have never aired on television without full context. We apologize for the insensitivity of the image and take this issue seriously,” the cable channel said in a statement.

The chart included on “Special Report with Bret Baier” illustrated gains made by the S&P 500 index after King’s assassination in 1968; the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014, and the May 25 death of Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. It also measured the financial yardstick against the 1991 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers in the beating of Rodney King.

It was shown as part of a segment with Fox News and Fox Business reporter Susan Li focusing on the market rally that followed an unexpectedly lower number of jobless claims.

Other business publications and TV channels in recent days have compared the market’s performance to current and historic social upheaval, but with significant background and explanation.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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