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

July 04, 2020 - 8:05 PM

For nation's birthday, Trump stokes the divisions within it

WASHINGTON (AP) — On a day meant for unity and celebration, President Donald Trump vowed to “safeguard our values” from enemies within — leftists, looters, agitators, he said — in a Fourth of July speech packed with all the grievances and combativeness of his political rallies.

Trump watched paratroopers float to the ground in a tribute to America, greeted his audience of front-line medical workers and others central in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and opened up on those who “slander” him and disrespect the country's past.

“We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” he said. "We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children.

"And we will defend, protect and preserve (the) American way of life, which began in 1492 when Columbus discovered America.”

He did not mention the dead from the pandemic. Nearly 130,000 are known to have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.

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The Latest: S Korea has 60-plus new virus cases for 3rd day

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has recorded 60-plus COVID-19 cases for a third consecutive day, a continuation of a virus spread beyond the greater Seoul area.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday it has confirmed 61 additional cases, bringing the national total to 13,091. It says the death toll remained at 283.

The agency says 43 of the newly reported cases were locally infected patients. All but two of those cases were either from the Seoul metropolitan area or two central cities, Gwangju and Daejeon. The remaining 18 cases were linked to international arrivals.

South Korea has been grappling with an uptick in new infections since it eased social distancing rules in early May. South Korea recorded 63 new cases on both Saturday and Friday.

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US holiday weekend adds to virus worries as case counts grow

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Florida and Texas reported record daily increases in confirmed coronavirus cases Saturday, the latest sign that the virus is surging in many parts of the United States, casting a pall over Fourth of July celebrations.

Officials and health authorities warned people to take precautions or simply stay home on Independence Day, as confirmed cases are climbing in dozens of states. The U.S. reported more than 50,000 confirmed cases on Saturday for the third day in a row, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. has more than 2.8 million confirmed cases — about a quarter of the 11 million worldwide infections, according to the tally, which is widely thought to understate the true toll, partially because of asymptomatic cases and limited testing. More than 525,000 people have died around the globe.

While the rise in cases in the U.S. partly reflects expanded testing, experts say there is evidence that the virus is also spreading more as states reopen their economies.

Deaths have begun to rise in some states that have seen a surge in cases — including Texas, Arizona and Florida — and the coming weeks will be telling. Still, some experts have expressed doubt that deaths will ever return to the peak of around 2,200 deaths per day, hit in mid-April, because of advances in treatment and because more young adults who are less vulnerable to serious complications are among those diagnosed recently.

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Amid furor over monuments, Trump seeks `garden' of US heroes

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has a vision for his second term, if he wins one, of establishing a “National Garden of American Heroes” that will pay tribute to some of the most prominent figures in U.S. history, a collection of “the greatest Americans to ever live.”

His idea, conveyed in a speech Friday night at Mount Rushmore and expanded on in an executive order, comes as elected officials and institutions are reckoning with whether it is appropriate to continue to honour people, including past presidents, who benefited from slavery or espoused racist views, with monuments or buildings and streets named after them.

The group of 30-plus features Founding Fathers and presidents, civil rights pioneers and aviation innovators, explorers and generals.

Absent from Trump’s initial list are any Native American, Hispanic or Asian-American individuals. The White House and Interior Department declined to comment on how the list was assembled.

Trump on Saturday spoke glowingly about his selections as an “incredible group,” but also noted they “are just a few of the people” he is considering and “are subject to change.”

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Columbus statue toppled by Baltimore protesters

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore protesters pulled down a statue of Christopher Columbus and threw it into the city's Inner Harbor on Saturday night.

Demonstrators used ropes to topple the monument near the Little Italy neighbourhood, news outlets reported.

Protesters mobilized by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police have called for the removal of statues of Columbus, Confederate figures and others. They say the Italian explorer is responsible for the genocide and exploitation of native peoples in the Americas.

According to The Baltimore Sun, the statue was owned by the city and dedicated in 1984 by former Mayor William Donald Schaefer and President Ronald Reagan.

Statues of Columbus have also been toppled or vandalized in cities such as Miami; Richmond, Virginia; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Boston, where one was decapitated.

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As monuments fall, Confederate carving has size on its side

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (AP) — Some statues of figures from America's slave-owning past have been yanked down by protesters, others dismantled by order of governors or city leaders. But the largest Confederate monument ever crafted — colossal figures carved into the solid rock of a Georgia mountainside — may outlast them all.

Stone Mountain's supersized sculpture depicting Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson mounted on horseback has special protection enshrined in Georgia law.

Even if its demolition were sanctioned, the monument's sheer size poses serious challenges. The carving measures 190 feet (58 metres) across and 90 feet (27 metres) tall. An old photo shows a worker on scaffolding just below Lee's chin barely reaching his nose.

Numerous Confederate statues and monuments to American slave owners have come down across the South amid recent protests against racial injustice. Stone Mountain hasn't escaped notice.

After organizing a protest where thousands marched in neighbouring Atlanta, 19-year-old Zoe Bambara held a demonstration June 4 with a much smaller group — her permit allowed no more than 25 — inside the state park where the sculpture has drawn millions of tourists for decades.

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Kansas newspaper's post equates mask mandate with Holocaust

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A weekly Kansas newspaper whose publisher is a county Republican Party chairman posted a cartoon on its Facebook page likening the Democratic governor's order requiring people to wear masks in public to the roundup and murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.

The cartoon on the Anderson County Review's Facebook page depicts Gov. Laura Kelly wearing a mask with a Jewish Star of David on it, next to a drawing of people being loaded onto train cars. Its caption is, “Lockdown Laura says: Put on your mask ... and step onto the cattle car.”

The newspaper posted the cartoon on Friday, the day that Kelly's mask order aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus took effect. It's drawn several hundred comments, many of them strongly critical. Dane Hicks, the paper’s owner and publisher, said in an email to The Associated Press that he plans to publish the cartoon in the newspaper’s next edition Tuesday.

Kelly, who is Catholic, issued a statement saying, “Mr. Hicks’ decision to publish anti-Semitic imagery is deeply offensive and he should remove it immediately.”

But Hicks said in an email that political cartoons are “gross over-caricatures designed to provoke debate” and “fodder for the marketplace of ideas.”

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Man in famous 9-11 photo dies from COVID-19 in Florida

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A man photographed fleeing smoke and debris as the south tower of the World Trade Center crumbled just a block away on Sept. 11, 2001, has died from coronavirus, his family said.

The Palm Beach Post reported that Stephen Cooper, an electrical engineer from New York who lived part-time in the Delray Beach, Florida area, died March 28 at Delray Medical Center due to COVID-19. He was 78.

The photo, captured by an Associated Press photographer, was published in newspapers and magazines around the world and is featured at the 9-11 Memorial Museum in New York.

“He didn’t even know the photograph was taken,” said Janet Rashes, Cooper’s partner for 33 years. “All of a sudden, he’s looking in Time magazine one day and he sees himself and says, ‘Oh my God. That’s me.’ He was amazed. Couldn’t believe it.”

Rashes said Cooper was delivering documents near the World Trade Center, unaware of exactly what had happened that morning, when he heard a police officer yell, “You have to run.”

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'People aren’t stupid': Pence's virus spin tests credibility

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice-President Mike Pence has long played the straight man to Donald Trump, translating the president's bombast into more measured, calming language.

His job has become even more difficult. As coronavirus cases spike across large parts of the country despite months of lockdown, Pence has spent the past week trying to convince the American public that things are going very well, even though they're not.

“Make no mistake about it, what you see today is that America is going back to work and the American people are finding a way every day to put this coronavirus farther in the past," he told CNBC the same day the country reported more than 55,000 new virus cases, a daily record.

For public health experts, the optimism has been unmoored from reality.

“It’s almost laughable because it doesn’t pass any test of credibility when we’re seeing spikes in cases, spikes in hospitalizations," said Larry Gostin, who specializes in public health at Georgetown University Law School. “The American people aren’t stupid. They can see spin when there is spin."

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Police: 2 women hit by car on Seattle highway amid protest

SEATTLE (AP) — A 27-year-old man drove a car onto a closed freeway in Seattle early Saturday and barrelled through a panicked crowd of protesters, critically injuring two women, officials said.

Dawit Kelete of Seattle drove the car around vehicles that were blocking Interstate 5 and sped into the crowd about 1:40 a.m., according to a police report released by the Washington State Patrol. Video taken at the scene by protesters showed people shouting “Car! Car!” before fleeing the roadway.

Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle, was in critical condition while Diaz Love, 32, of Portland, Oregon, was upgraded to serious condition in the intensive care unit, Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.

Love was filming the protest in a nearly two-hour-long Facebook livestream captioned “Black Femme March takes I-5” when the video ended abruptly; with about 15 seconds left, shouts of “Car!” can be heard as the camera starts to shake before screeching tires and the sound of impact are heard.

A graphic video posted on social media showed the white Jaguar racing toward a group of protesters who are standing behind several parked cars, set up for protection. The car swerves around the other vehicles and slams into the two women, sending them flying into the air.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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