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

November 08, 2017 - 8:04 PM

Pomp and pageantry for Trump in Beijing before tough talks

BEIJING (AP) — China rolled out the red carpet for President Donald Trump on Thursday, treating him to an elaborate welcome ceremony on the plaza outside the Great Hall of the People before the leaders turned to their private talks.

Trump looked on approvingly as a Chinese honour guard played the national anthems of both countries, cannons boomed and soldiers marched. He clapped and smiled as children waving U.S. and Chinese flags and flowers screamed and jumped wildly.

But thorny issues await Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping behind closed doors, including potential tensions over trade and China's willingness to put the squeeze on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

Before arriving, Trump delivered a stern message to Beijing, using an address to the National Assembly in South Korea to call on nations to confront the North.

"All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea," Trump said. "You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept."

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Authorities review video of small-town Texas church attack

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (AP) — Authorities have reviewed video from inside the small-town Texas church where a gunman killed more than two dozen people, including footage that shows the assailant shooting victims in the head during Sunday services, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

The official's account of the video is consistent with statements made by survivors of the attack. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The same U.S. official confirmed that the attacker's cellphone was an iPhone and that the FBI had not yet asked Apple for help obtaining data from the device.

The church regularly recorded its services, and the footage investigators have seen shows several minutes of the attack because there was "no one to turn it off," according to a law enforcement official who has seen the video. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity because that person was not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation.

The law enforcement official was among those who went inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs after the attack and said several of the pews were overturned, although it was unclear if that was from the attack or from rescue efforts. Bullets had splintered the walls and pews, leaving shards of wood all over the floors.

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10 Things to Know for Thursday

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

1. WHAT'S INSPIRING DEMOCRATS ACROSS US

The party faithful say their victories in Virginia and New Jersey — their first of the young Trump era — mark the beginning of an anti-Trump wave that could re-shape the balance of power in Congress in 2018.

2. BEHIND SCENES, A SEARCH FOR COMMON GROUND

Trump's two-day visit to China opens with diplomatic niceties, but thorny issues including trade and North Korea await behind closed doors.

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Democrats get boost from election wins around the country

NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats woke up to a big dose of good news Wednesday as they dissected election results from around the country. One year after the surprise election of President Donald Trump, there were plenty of encouraging signs for Democrats trying to travel the road to recovery. Some key election takeaways:

TRUMP RESISTANCE IS REAL

After a series of losses in red-state special elections, Democrats finally had the night they needed to prove the much-discussed "Trump resistance" movement can be an electoral force. They notched a showy win in the Virginia governor's race, where Ralph Northam won by nearly nine points. The New Jersey governor's race was a Democratic blowout. Maine voters approved a Medicaid expansion that was seen as a referendum on former President Barack Obama's health care law. And Manchester, New Hampshire, elected its first Democratic mayor in a decade. Activists emboldened by Trump's victory have long claimed they had the power to change elections. They finally proved it at the ballot box.

TRUMPISM WITHOUT TRUMP DIDN'T PAN OUT

Just before Election Day, former Trump strategist and Breitbart boss Steve Bannon credited Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie of Virginia with rallying behind the president's agenda, saying a perceived boost in the polls was an indication that "Trumpism without Trump can show the way forward." But the opposite may be true. Gillespie may not have fully embraced the president, but he did his part to court Trump voters — including embracing the president's rhetoric on Confederate monuments and kneeling by NFL players during the national anthem. He even received an Election Day boost from Trump himself in the form of robocalls that declared Gillespie "tough on crime and on the border." But it was all for naught, as the lobbyist and former official in President George W. Bush's administration was trounced by Northam.

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Christopher Plummer to replace Kevin Spacey in Getty film

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a wholly unprecedented move, Kevin Spacey is being cut from Ridley Scott's finished film "All the Money in the World" and replaced by Christopher Plummer just over one month before it's supposed to hit theatres.

People close to the production who were not authorized to speak publicly said Wednesday that Plummer is commencing reshoots immediately in the role of J. Paul Getty. All of Spacey's scenes will be reshot, the people told The Associated Press. Co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams are expected to participate.

Scott, who is known to be an efficient director, is intending to keep the film's Dec. 22 release date.

The director's publicist Simon Halls confirmed the switch late Wednesday.

The film was originally set to have its world premiere at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles on Nov. 16 but was pulled earlier this week amid the sexual harassment reports surrounding Spacey, who has also been fired from "House of Cards" and dropped by his talent agency and publicist.

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Trump isolationism allows China to fill Southeast Asia void

BEIJING (AP) — When Chinese leader Xi Jinping said last month that "no country can afford to retreat into self-isolation," he might as well have been talking about Donald Trump as the U.S. president makes his first official visit to Southeast Asia.

As Trump steers his administration's focus inward, China has stepped into what many see as a U.S.-sized void left behind in the region, boosting co-operation on infrastructure, security and trade, flooding eager countries with tourists and offering itself up as a model for developing nations with sometimes dodgy rights records.

China's rise in influence, and the perceived decline of the United States by some in the region, is all the more extraordinary because Beijing has often been seen as an arrogant bully in Southeast Asia, where it is mired in disputes over competing claims in the South China Sea.

Throughout the region, countries have looked at Xi and Trump and found more stability and reassurance from the Chinese president, said Richard Heydarian, a Manila-based Asia specialist and author.

"America is clearly on a downward trajectory in terms of its influence in the region," Heydarian said. "Donald Trump comes in and he sounds even more protectionist than China. So you have a strange, in fact surreal, situation whereby China is now presenting itself as the guardian of the global economic order."

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Carnage at small-town Texas church claimed 8 children

LA VERNIA, Texas (AP) — By the time Paul Brunner rolled up in his ambulance to the worst mass shooting in Texas history, the First Baptist Church was a chaotic triage scene. Parents cried and kids screamed, and nearly all the victims appeared to have been hit more than once.

Two of the first four patients the burly volunteer medic loaded into ambulances were children.

"Our inclination is to protect children. The thing is, that wasn't his inclination," Brunner said, referring to the gunman. "He wasn't separating going, 'I'm not going to hurt the kids. I'm going to go after whatever adults wronged me.'"

When gunfire tore through the church in tiny Sutherland Springs, killing more than two dozen people, the bullets claimed eight children and teenagers who were sitting through Sunday services with their families. It was the largest number of children killed in a mass shooting since 20 died at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

Like that massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the fact that the assailant slaughtered defenceless children compounded the anguish. Nearby schools quickly added grief counsellors.

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US tightens travel rules to Cuba, blacklists many businesses

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans seeking to visit Cuba must navigate a complicated maze of travel, commerce and financial restrictions unveiled Wednesday by the Trump administration, part of a new policy to further isolate the island's communist government.

Now off-limits to U.S. citizens are dozens of Cuban hotels, shops, tour companies and other businesses included on a lengthy American blacklist of entities that have links to Cuba's military, intelligence or security services. And most Americans will once again be required to travel as part of heavily regulated, organized tour groups run by U.S. companies, rather than voyaging to Cuba on their own.

The stricter rules mark a return to the tougher U.S. stance toward Cuba that existed before former President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro restored diplomatic relations in 2015. They come as President Donald Trump tries to show he's taking action to prevent U.S. dollars from helping prop up the Cuban government.

"These measures confirm there is a serious reversal in bilateral relations which has occurred as a result of the decisions taken by the government of President Donald Trump," said Josefina Vidal, the top Cuban diplomat for North America.

Still, the policy is only a partial rollback of Obama's changes. Cruise ship visits and direct commercial flights between the countries will still be permitted. Embassies in Washington and Havana stay open.

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Glen Campbell, Troy Gentry honoured at CMA Awards

Glen Campbell, who died in August, was honoured at the Country Music Association Awards during a touching performance of "Wichita Lineman" by Little Big Town and Jimmy Webb, who wrote the song.

The Grammy-winning country foursome sang the tune, while Webb played piano, at the Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee.

Campbell also won an award: He posthumously won musical event of the year for "Funny How Time Slips Away" with Willie Nelson.

The CMA Awards, airing live on ABC, featured a number of emotional moments. Rascal Flatts and Dierks Bentley also paid homage to Troy Gentry, one-half of the popular country duo Montgomery Gentry, who died in a helicopter crash in September. Eddie Montgomery later joined in for the performance of "My Town," as some audience members sang along with tears in their eyes.

Filmmaker Tyler Perry also brought a serious vibe to the show, paying tribute to Charley Pride and said telling the audience now is the time we have to all "find some common ground" before presenting the album of the year award to Chris Stapleton.

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AP source: Jones threatens Goodell deal after Elliott ban

NEW YORK (AP) — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has threatened to sue the NFL over a proposed contract extension for Commissioner Roger Goodell, a dispute apparently sparked by star running back Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension over alleged domestic violence, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Jones told the six owners on the compensation committee he had hired high-profile attorney David Boies and was prepared to sue if the group voted to extend Goodell's deal, the person told the AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no one has been authorized to reveal details.

Jones also has expressed disapproval with the structure and compensation in the contract extension, another person familiar with the proposed lawsuit says. That person also spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reason.

The actions of Jones were first reported by The New York Times.

All 32 owners voted in May to extend Goodell's contract and authorized the compensation committee to work out the details. Goodell suspended Elliott in August after a yearlong NFL investigation. Prosecutors in Ohio declined to pursue the domestic violence case.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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