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

August 15, 2019 - 8:05 PM

Israel bars US congresswomen - with a nudge from Trump

JERUSALEM (AP) — With a push from President Donald Trump, Israel on Thursday barred two Muslim-American congresswomen from entering the country for a visit, an extraordinary step bringing the longtime U.S. ally into Trump's domestic fight against political rivals at home.

The U.S. president is essentially relying on Israel to retaliate against two freshman lawmakers, Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who are both outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of Palestinians. They are also part of the "squad" of liberal newcomers -- all women of colour -- whom Trump has labeled the face of the Democratic Party as he runs for reelection.

It's a glaring departure from the tradition of American politicians leaving domestic disputes at the water's edge.

For Israel, the willingness to side so pointedly with Trump marks a deeper foray into America's bitterly polarized politics and risks its relationship with Congress. Blocking the visits of two lawmakers appears to be unprecedented.

Israel announced the ban shortly after Trump tweeted that "it would show great weakness" if the two were allowed to visit. Asked later if he had spoken to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he said, "I did talk to people over there," but he declined to say to whom.

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US stock indexes end mostly higher after volatile day

Investors rode out another turbulent day on Wall Street Thursday that kept stock indexes flipping between gains and losses until a late-day bounce gave the market a modest gain.

Worries about a possible recession collided with hopes that the strongest part of the U.S. economy — shoppers spending at stores and online — can keep going.

The major U.S. stock indexes spent much of the day reacting to big moves in U.S. government bond yields, which fell sharply in the early going, fluctuated for much of the day, and then recovered some of their decline by mid-afternoon.

U.S. government bonds have been among the loudest and earliest to cry out warnings about the economy. Stocks fell sharply on Wednesday after a fairly reliable warning signal of recession emerged from the bond market. Even after the slide in yields eased Thursday, the U.S. bond market continued to show concern as yields ended broadly lower.

Stocks in Asia and Europe paved the way for the volatile day on Wall Street early Thursday after China said it would take "necessary countermeasures" if President Donald Trump follows through on a threat to impose tariffs on more than $100 billion of Chinese goods on Sept. 1.

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Drugs, weapons convictions in Philly shooting suspect's past

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The criminal history of a man suspected of barricading himself inside a Philadelphia rowhome should have prevented him from legally owning the firepower he used Wednesday to wound six police officers in a standoff that carried deep into the night, authorities said.

Maurice Hill, who authorities say had at least a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun when he opened fire on officers serving a drug warrant, has on his record multiple arrests in Philadelphia and adjacent Delaware County between 2001 and 2012, according to online records.

He has convictions for an array of crimes that include assault, perjury, fleeing and eluding, escape and weapons offences.

Hill, 36, served two stints in state prisons — three, counting a return for a probation violation. He was also hit with a 55-month federal prison term over a pair of convictions for being a felon in possession of firearms.

Pennsylvania prison officials said Hill served about 2 1/2 years on drug dealing charges and was paroled in 2006, and then did more than a year for aggravated assault before being released in 2013.

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Trump ties US success to 2nd term: 'You have to vote for me'

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Thursday sought to reassure his supporters about the state of the U.S. economy despite the stock market volatility and told rallygoers in New Hampshire, a state that he hopes to capture in 2020, that their financial security depends on his reelection.

"Whether you love me or hate me you have to vote for me," Trump said.

Speaking to a boisterous crowd at Southern New Hampshire University, Trump dismissed the heightened fears about the U.S. economy and a 3% drop Wednesday in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was fueled by a slowing global economy and a development in the bond market that has predicted previous recessions. Avoiding an economic slump is critical to Trump's reelection hopes.

"The United States right now has the hottest economy anywhere in the world," Trump said.

Trump, who reached the White House by promising to bring about a historic economic boom, claimed, as he often does, that the markets would have crashed if he had lost his 2016 bid for the presidency. And he warned that if he is defeated in 2020, Americans' 401(k) retirement accounts will go "down the tubes."

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Earnhardt takes weekend off after plane crash near Bristol

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. will take the weekend off from broadcasting to be with his wife and daughter after the three were in a plane crash landing Thursday near Bristol Motor Speedway.

The 44-year-old television analyst and retired driver was taken to a hospital for evaluation after the crash in east Tennessee. Earnhardt was with wife Amy, 15-month-old daughter Isla, a dog and two pilots.

"We're incredibly grateful that Dale, his wife Amy, daughter Isla, and the two pilots are safe following today's accident," NBC Sports said in a statement. "After being discharged from the hospital, we communicated with Dale and his team, and we're all in agreement that he should take this weekend off to be with his family.

"We look forward to having him back in the booth next month at Darlington."

Federal Aviation Administration officials said a Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport at 3:40 p.m. Thursday. FAA officials said the preliminary indication is that two pilots and three passengers were aboard the jet.

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Gibraltar releases Iran supertanker that US sought to seize

MADRID (AP) — The British overseas territory of Gibraltar released a seized Iranian supertanker Thursday over last-minute objections from the U.S., potentially easing tensions between London and Tehran, which still holds a British-flagged vessel.

The release of the Grace 1 comes amid a growing confrontation between Iran and the West after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago.

In past weeks, the Persian Gulf region has seen six attacks on oil tankers that the U.S. has blamed on Iran and the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone by Iranian forces. Iran denied it was behind the tanker attacks, although it has seized other tankers.

Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the U.S. could still begin a new legal procedure for seizing the Grace 1, but that provisions under the European Union's sanctions regulations were ending Thursday after the Iranian government assured him in writing that the ship will not send its 2.1 million barrels of crude to a sanctioned entity in Syria.

Reacting to the developments, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the U.S. of trying to "steal our property on the high seas."

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Panel rules soap, sleep essential to migrant kids' safety

Immigrant children detained by the U.S. government should get edible food, clean water, soap and toothpaste under a longstanding agreement over detention conditions, a federal appeals panel ruled Thursday in dismissing a Trump administration bid to limit what must be provided.

A three-judge panel for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco tossed out the U.S. government's challenge to a lower court's findings that authorities had failed to provide safe and sanitary conditions for the children in line with a 1997 settlement agreement.

The government argued that authorities weren't required to provide specific accommodations, such as soap, under the settlement's requirement that facilities be "safe and sanitary" and asked the panel to weigh in. The appellate judges disagreed.

"Assuring that children eat enough edible food, drink clean water, are housed in hygienic facilities with sanitary bathrooms, have soap and toothpaste, and are not sleep-deprived are without doubt essential to the children's safety," the panel wrote.

The ruling followed a June hearing where a U.S. government lawyer said the agreement was vague and might not require that a toothbrush and soap be provided to children during brief stays in custody. Requiring these items, the government said, would be a change in the agreement.

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Coroner: Gunman had drugs in system during firefight

CINCINNATI (AP) — The gunman in Dayton who killed nine people had cocaine, an antidepressant and alcohol in his system during the mass shooting, and was cut down by a barrage of at least two dozen police bullets that penetrated gaps in his body armour, a coroner said Thursday.

Montgomery County coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger said authorities found a pipe device and a baggie of cocaine on 24-year-old Connor Betts. Harshbarger also reported in his preliminary autopsy findings that Betts had more than 50 entry and exit wounds.

"This incident involved an intense firefight that is rarely seen other than combat and an active-shooter incident," Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said. "The officers were confronted with a moving shooter wearing body armour, actively executing victims with an AR-15-type weapon and high-capacity magazines."

The coroner said police gunfire hit two people. One of them died, but Harshbarger said the gunman, not police, fired the lethal round.

Police investigators will review the medical records of the 17 who were wounded to determine if any of them were struck by the officers' bullets, Biehl said.

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AP sources: Trump has talked about buying Greenland for US

WASHINGTON (AP) — Aiming to put his mark on the world map, President Donald Trump has talked to aides and allies about buying Greenland for the U.S.

A Trump ally told The Associated Press on Thursday that the president had discussed the purchase but was not serious about it. And a Republican congressional aide said Trump brought up the notion of purchasing Greenland in conversations with lawmakers enough times to make them wonder, but they have not taken his comments seriously. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Still, it wouldn't be the first time an American leader tried to buy the world's largest island, an autonomous territory of Denmark.

In 1946, the U.S. proposed to pay Denmark $100 million to buy Greenland after flirting with the idea of swapping land in Alaska for strategic parts of the Arctic island.

Neither the White House nor Denmark immediately commented Thursday. Trump is set to visit Denmark next month.

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S. Korea says N. Korea has fired more projectiles into sea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's military said North Korea fired more projectiles into the sea Friday to extend a recent streak of weapons tests believed to be aimed at pressuring Washington and Seoul over slow nuclear diplomacy.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said projectiles were twice launched from an area on the North's eastern coast, but didn't immediately say what the weapons were, how many were launched or how far they flew.

It was North Korea's sixth round of weapons launches since late July when it began stepping up its weapons demonstrations while expressing frustration over stalemated nuclear negotiations with the United States and continuance of U.S.-South Korea joint military drills that the North sees as an invasion rehearsal.

South Korea's presidential office said national security adviser Chung Eui-yong was presiding over an emergency National Security Council meeting about the launches and President Moon Jae-in was being briefed on the developments. Japan's Defence Ministry said the North Korean projectiles did not reach the country's territorial waters or its exclusive economic zone. The White House said it was aware of reports of the launches and was consulting with Seoul and Tokyo.

The weapons the North tested in recent weeks included a new rocket artillery system and what security analysts say are two new short-range mobile ballistic missile systems that would potentially expand the North's ability to strike targets throughout South Korea, including U.S. bases there.

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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