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

August 28, 2020 - 8:04 PM

'Black Panther' star Chadwick Boseman dies of cancer at 43

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actor Chadwick Boseman, who played Black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding fame as the regal Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic universe, died Friday of cancer, his representative said. He was 43.

Boseman died at his home in the Los Angeles area with his wife and family by his side, his publicist Nicki Fioravante told The Associated Press.

Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, his family said in a statement.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” his family said. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more - all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honour of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther."

Boseman had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis.

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At D.C. march, families decry 'two systems of justice'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. famously laid out a vision for harmony between white and Black people 57 years ago, his son issued a sobering reminder about the persistence of police brutality and racist violence targeting Black Americans.

“We must never forget the American nightmare of racist violence exemplified when Emmett Till was murdered on this day in 1955, and the criminal justice system failed to convict his killers,” said Martin Luther King III, speaking to thousands that gathered Friday to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

“Sixty-five years later (after Till’s murder), we still struggle for justice — demilitarizing the police, dismantling mass incarceration, and declaring as determinately as we can that Black lives matter,” King said.

Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many felt compelled to join civil rights advocates in Washington to highlight a scourge of police and vigilante violence that gave way to what many feel is an overdue reckoning on racial injustice. Some stood in sweltering temperatures in lines that stretched for several blocks, as organizers took temperatures as part of coronavirus protocols. Organizers reminded attendees to practice social distancing and wear masks throughout the program, although distancing was hardly maintained as the gathering grew in size.

They gathered following another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man — this time, 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead. As peaceful protests turned to arson and theft, naysayers of the Black Lives Matter movement issued calls for “law and order.”

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Health agencies' credibility at risk after week of blunders

WASHINGTON (AP) — The credibility of two of the nation’s leading public health agencies was under fire this week after controversial decisions that outside experts said smacked of political pressure from President Donald Trump as he attempts to move past the devastating toll of the coronavirus ahead of the November election.

The head of the Food and Drug Administration grossly misstated, then corrected, claims about the lifesaving power of a plasma therapy for COVID-19 authorized by his agency. Then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly updated its guidelines to suggest fewer Americans need to get tested for coronavirus, sparking outrage from scientists.

Trump's own factual misstatements about COVID-19 are well documented, but the back-to-back messaging blunders by public health officials could create new damage, eroding public trust in front-line agencies. That's already raising concerns about whether the administration will be forthcoming with critical details about upcoming vaccines needed to defeat the pandemic.

"I do worry about the credibility of the FDA and CDC, especially at a time when the capacity of the federal government to advance public health should be a priority for all policymakers,” said Daniel Levinson, former longtime inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees both the FDA and the CDC.

On Friday, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn removed a conservative public relations official involved in the botched plasma announcement from her role heading the agency's press office, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

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Laura victims may go weeks without power; US deaths reach 14

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — The Louisiana coastline devastated by Hurricane Laura began a long and gloomy recovery Friday as hundreds of thousands of people still without water and power confronted the possibility that basic services may not return for weeks or even longer. The number of dead climbed to at least 14.

A day after the Category 4 storm hit, more bodies emerged in the aftermath in Louisiana and neighbouring Texas. The deaths included five people killed by fallen trees and one person who drowned in a boat. Eight people died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to unsafe operation of generators, including three inside a Texas pool hall, where authorities say the owner had let seven Vietnamese shrimp boat labourers and homeless men take shelter. The other four were in critical condition.

The lack of essential resources was grim for the many evacuated residents eager to return.

Chad Peterson planned to board up a window and head to Florida. “There’s no power. There’s no water. There’s no utilities,” he said.

Thousands of people who heeded dire warnings and fled the Gulf Coast returned to homes without roofs, roads littered with debris and the likelihood of a harsh recovery that could take months.

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Biden, Harris prepare to travel more as campaign heats up

WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice-president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

“He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.

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Trump, at NH rally, sows fears about 'thugs,' 'anarchists'

LONDONDERRY, N.H. (AP) — Fresh off accepting the Republican Party’s nomination, President Donald Trump said Friday he was the only thing standing between “democracy and the mob,” as he lashed out at protesters who accosted his supporters as they left the White House the night before.

Sowing fear about the implications of a Joe Biden victory to battleground state voters, Trump held a rally in New Hampshire on Friday evening. Looking to close his Democratic rival’s lead with just over two months until Election Day, Trump was launching an aggressive travel schedule — and continuing to flout coronavirus guidelines.

Trump opened his rally with a rant against demonstrators who confronted those leaving his convention speech on the South Lawn. Some guests at the political event, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, needed to be escorted by police officers to safety upon leaving the White House grounds.

“They walked out to a bunch of thugs,” Trump said, criticizing District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser for not doing more to protect his supporters. “Unhinged, manic rage. You ought to see last night in Washington, it was a disgrace.”

It marked his latest attempt to frame the general election as a dire choice between two futures for the nation — a theme he was expected to amplify on the campaign trail.

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Health experts decry Trump's shunning of virus rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — Public health experts expressed concern Friday about President Donald Trump's largely mask-free, socially un-distanced Republican convention event on the White House lawn, saying some of his 1,500 guests may have inadvertently brought and spread the coronavirus to others.

“There almost certainly were individuals there who were infected with COVID-19 but don't know it,” said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University..

“I worry about these individuals infecting one another and most certainly going back to their home,” said Wen, who previously served as Baltimore’s health commissioner.

Trump delivered his speech accepting the GOP presidential nomination at the Thursday night event, which continued a pattern of flouting coronavirus safety guidelines.

Few in the audience wore masks when virtually all leading public health professionals, including the administration's, say face coverings play a big part in slowing virus transmission.

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Teen accused of killing 2 thrust into debate over protests

ANTIOCH, Ill. (AP) — A white 17-year-old who says he went to protests in Wisconsin to protect businesses and people has become a flashpoint in a debate over anti-racism demonstrations that have gripped many American cities and the vigilantism that has sometimes met them.

On Tuesday, Kyle Rittenhouse grabbed an AR-15 style rifle and joined several other armed people in the streets of Kenosha, where businesses had been vandalized and buildings burned following a police shooting that left Jacob Blake, a Black man, paralyzed. By the end of the night, prosecutors say, Rittenhouse had killed two people and severely wounded a third.

At a hearing Friday, a judge postponed a decision on whether Rittenhouse, who is in custody in Illinois, should be returned to Wisconsin to face charges, including first-degree intentional homicide that could land him in prison for the rest of his life.

To some, Rittenhouse is a domestic terrorist whose very presence with a rifle incited the protesters. But to others — who have become frustrated with demonstrations and unrest across the country — he’s seen as a hero who took up arms to protect people who were left unprotected.

“Kyle is an innocent boy who justifiably exercised his fundamental right of self-defence. In doing so, he likely saved his own life and possibly the lives of others,” said Lin Wood, a prominent Atlanta attorney who is now part of a team representing Rittenhouse.

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Weather slows California wildfires; thousands allowed home

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California wildfires were slowly being corralled Friday as cooler, humid weather and reinforcements aided firefighters and tens of thousands of people were allowed back home after days of death and destruction.

In the past two days, evacuation orders were lifted for at least 50,000 people in the San Francisco Bay Area and wine country, officials with the state fire agency, Cal Fire, said.

In heavily damaged areas, crews were working to restore electricity and water so more people could return to their homes.

Around the state, hundreds of wildfires — coming months earlier in the season than expected — have killed at least seven people, burned more than 2,000 square miles (5,200 square kilometres) and pushed firefighter resources to the breaking point. Two are among the largest wildfires in recent state history.

In central California, a blaze burning in Sequoia National Forest in Tulare County prompted officials to order people living in several small communities to immediately evacuate Friday. Two fires in the area merged earlier this week and have scorched 37 square miles (96 square kilometres). They were burning with no containment.

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Bragging rights to Biden over Trump in television ratings

NEW YORK (AP) — In the competition for attention at their makeshift conventions, Democrat Joe Biden can claim bragging rights over President Donald Trump.

But it was close. The Nielsen company says that 23.8 million viewers watched the final hour of Thursday's Republican convention on television, when Trump gave his acceptance speech before an audience gathered outdoors on the White House grounds.

A week earlier, Nielsen said 24.6 million people were watching Biden accept the Democratic nomination for president.

More people likely watched via video streams, but there was no reliable third-party measurement of those users.

Viewership was down sharply for the four-night party programs, staged largely as television productions because of the coronavirus pandemic, compared to the more traditional conventions that nominated Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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