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

November 09, 2017 - 8:04 PM

Family: Woman died shielding grandson during church massacre

DALLAS (AP) — Sunday school teacher Peggy Warden threw herself in front of her grandson when a gunman opened fire onto the congregation at First Baptist Church, getting fatally shot as she protected the 18-year-old, relatives said. The teen then shielded a child hiding under a pew.

Warden, 56, was one of more than two dozen people killed in Sunday's shooting at the Sutherland Springs church. Her grandson Zach Poston was one of about 20 other people injured and described what happened from the San Antonio hospital where he was still recovering Thursday, said Warden's brother Jimmy Stevens.

"Basically, Peggy stood up and just shielded over him while the shooter was shooting. And when she got hit in the back he said he turned — because he heard her — and when he turned to see if she was OK, she passed away immediately," Stevens said.

Poston already had been hit in his arms, legs and side, Stevens said, when he saw a small child trying to get out from underneath a pew. So Poston shoved the child back under, Stevens said, and was shot again in the leg.

"So he took what Peggy gave him and he passed it on to help someone else," Stevens told The Associated Press on Thursday. He said it's his understanding that the child survived.

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Trump thinks US, China could jointly solve world's problems

BEIJING (AP) — President Donald Trump set aside his blistering rhetoric in favour of friendly overtures to China on Thursday, trying to flatter his hosts into establishing a more balanced trade relationship and doing more to blunt North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Winding down his two days in Beijing, Trump suggested that if the U.S. and China jointly took on the world's problems, "I believe we can solve almost all of them, and probably all of them."

In the name of furthering that relationship, Trump largely shelved his campaign complaints about China, at least in public. He focused on exhorting Beijing to help with North Korea, an effort expected again to take centre stage at an international summit in Vietnam on Friday.

The Chinese rolled out a lavish welcome for the American president. Trump returned the kindness, heaping praise on China's Xi Jinping and predicting the two powers would work around entrenched differences. On Twitter later, Trump called his meetings with Xi "very productive on both trade and the subject of North Korea."

On trade, Trump criticized the "very one-sided and unfair" relationship between the U.S. and China. But unlike his approach during the campaign, when he castigated China for what he contended were inappropriate trade practices, Trump said Thursday that he didn't blame the Chinese for having taken advantage of the U.S. in the past.

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GOP leaders bolt from Senate candidate Moore after sex claim

WASHINGTON (AP) — A month before Alabama's special election, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore abruptly faced lurid allegations Thursday of sexual misconduct with minors decades ago — and an immediate backlash from party leaders who demanded he get out of the race if the accusations prove true.

The instant fallout followed a Washington Post report in which an Alabama woman said Moore, then a 32-year-old assistant district attorney, had sexual contact with her when she was 14. Three other women interviewed by the Post said Moore, now 70, approached them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s. All four women spoke on the record to the Post.

The Moore campaign denied the report as "the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation."

Defiant as ever, Moore himself issued a fundraising appeal asking for emergency donations in a "spiritual battle."

"I believe you and I have a duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil waging an all-out war on our conservative values," he wrote. "I will NEVER GIVE UP the fight!"

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Senate GOP tax bill would delay biz cut, undo deductions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans revealed the details of their sweeping tax legislation Thursday, including a one-year delay in plans for a major corporate tax cut despite strident opposition from the White House and others in their own party. Their bill would leave the prized mortgage interest deduction untouched for homeowners in a concession to the powerful real estate lobby but would ignore a House compromise on the hot-button issue of state and local tax deductions.

On the other side of the Capitol, the House Ways and Means Committee approved its own version of the legislation on a party-line 24-16 vote, amid intense political pressure on the GOP to push forward on the first major rewrite of the U.S. tax code in three decades. It's President Donald Trump's top priority and a goal many Republicans believe has grown even more urgent in the wake of election losses on Tuesday that displayed an energized Democratic electorate.

Yet as the Senate Finance Committee unveiled its bill, a few stark differences emerged with the version approved by the House tax-writing committee, underscoring the challenges ahead in getting both chambers to agree on the complex and far-reaching legislation that would affect nearly every American.

The Senate measure fails to repeal the estate tax, though it doubles the size of estates exempted from the tax. It makes couples earning up to $1 million eligible for a $1,650 per-child tax credit. It creates a new 38.5 per cent tax bracket for couples earning more than $1 million and individuals making more than $500,000 per year. And it takes a different approach to cutting taxes for businesses not organized as corporations that is less generous but applies to more businesses.

Democrats are strongly opposed to the GOP rewrite, so the Republicans must find agreement among themselves to have any hope of passage.

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10 Things to Know for Friday

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

1. BOMBSHELL CLAIM UPENDS SENATE CAMPAIGN

GOP leaders bolt from candidate Roy Moore after the former Alabama judge is accused of having sexual contact decades ago with a girl of 14.

2. GOP LAWMAKERS GO SLOW ON TAX CUT

Senate Republicans reveal the details of their sweeping tax legislation, including a one-year delay in plans for a major corporate tax cut.

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Scores more Saudis detained in $100 billion corruption sweep

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Dozens more people have been taken into custody by Saudi authorities, the kingdom said Thursday, bringing to 201 the number detained in a sweep that investigators say has uncovered at least $100 billion in corruption.

Saudi critics and experts have called the unprecedented purge of top princes and businessmen a bold and risky move by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aimed at consolidating power as he keeps an eye on the throne, sidelining potential rivals and dismantling alliances built with other branches of the royal family.

The sweep comes at a time of increased tensions between Saudi Arabia and its main regional rival, Iran, over the ongoing conflict and suffering in Yemen and a newly erupting political crisis in Lebanon.

Saudi Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb said 208 people had been called in for questioning, and that seven were released without charge, leaving 201 in custody.

The new figure is far larger than what was previously reported by the government, reflecting a continuing series of arrests throughout the week. The stunning purge began overnight Saturday, initially catching 11 princes and 38 officials, military officers and business leaders. They are being held at five-star hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh.

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Syria deal in the works ahead of likely Trump-Putin meeting

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Russia are nearing an agreement on Syria for how they hope to resolve the Arab country's civil war once the Islamic State group is defeated, officials said Thursday.

If clinched, the deal could be announced by President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin after a meeting in Vietnam on Friday, four U.S. officials said. The United States has been reluctant to hold a formal meeting between the leaders unless they have a substantive agreement to announce.

The potential understanding comes as an array of forces are near a final defeat of IS, the extremist group that once controlled vast stretches of both Iraq and Syria. Fighting the group is no longer top priority, shifting the focus back to Syria's intractable conflict between President Bashar Assad's government and rebels — and to concerns that foreign powers such as Iran will now dominate the country's future.

The U.S.-Russian agreement being discussed would focus on three elements, officials said: "deconfliction" between the U.S. and Russian militaries, reducing violence in the civil war and reinvigorating U.N.-led peace talks. The officials weren't authorized to discuss the deliberations and requested anonymity.

The U.S. and Russian militaries have maintained a "deconfliction" hotline for years to avoid unintended collisions and even potential confrontations as they each operate in Syria's crowded skies. A heavy air campaign by Russia has been credited with shoring up the position of Assad, a close ally of Moscow.

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Report: 5 women accuse Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct

NEW YORK (AP) — Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of sexual misconduct toward several women, including masturbating in front of them to their horror and embarrassment, according to a report in The New York Times.

Comedians Dana Min Goodman, Abby Schachner, Julia Wolov, Rebecca Corry allege the Emmy-winning star of FX's "Louie" either pleasured himself in front of them, asked to do it or did so over the phone. A fifth woman detailed her allegations against C.K. to the paper but was not identified.

A lawyer for C.K. did not immediately respond to comment from The Associated Press, but a representative for the comedian said Thursday that C.K. would issue a written statement in the coming days.

Another publicist told the Times the comedian would not respond to their reporting. Schachner, who said she heard C.K. masturbating on the phone in 2003, declined comment to The AP and representatives for the other three named women did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Corry alleges the comedian, while she was working on TV pilot in 2005, asked "if we could go to my dressing room so he could masturbate in front of me." She declined "and he told me he had issues." The show's executive producers, Courteney Cox and David Arquette confirmed Corry's account to the Times. Cindy Guagenti, Arquette's representative, told The AP her client had nothing more to add.

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How 1-year Trump rally stacks up against other presidents

Donald Trump warned that the stock market was a "big, fat, ugly bubble" just weeks before he was elected. A year later, Wall Street remains on a milestone-shattering run that the president has been eager to tout and tweet about.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index, the broadest measure of the stock market, has notched 61 record highs and climbed about 21.3 per cent in the year since Trump was elected.

That exceeds the S&P 500's gain in the first-term election anniversaries of all but two presidents since World War II: George H.W. Bush (22.9 per cent) and John F. Kennedy (27 per cent), according to CFRA Research.

It also outpaces the market's performance in the same postelection period of several other modern-era White House occupants, including Ronald Reagan (-3.3 per cent), Bill Clinton (10.3 per cent), George W. Bush (-22.1 per cent) and Barack Obama (4.1 per cent). But it trails the S&P 500's gain in the first year after the second-term elections of Clinton (31.7 per cent) and Obama (23.4 per cent).

The billionaire's surprise electoral victory initially set off a steep sell-off in Asian markets. But by the end of the day on Nov. 9, 2016, global markets had steadied and the S&P 500 index closed sharply higher. The market's rally continued for several weeks, driving the major U.S. stock indexes to record highs. This year, stocks have gradually moved higher, clocking new milestones for the indexes along the way.

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Fox's Smith avoids story covered heavily by colleagues

NEW YORK (AP) — While Fox News Channel has spent hours talking about Hillary Clinton and an Obama-era uranium deal in recent weeks, its news anchor Shepard Smith avoided the story entirely.

Fresh evidence that Smith is an island unto himself at the news network came in research released Thursday by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America. During the three weeks starting Oct. 17, Fox News spent just under 12 hours talking about the Uranium One deal, with 29 per cent of that time on opinion host Sean Hannity's prime-time show.

In recent weeks, the issue has been at the centre of the nation's partisan divide. Hannity calls it "the real Russian conspiracy," while Democrats suggest the story is used to distract from news about Robert Mueller's investigation into President Donald Trump and ties to Russia. Conservatives contend that "mainstream" news outlets are obsessed with Mueller's investigation.

Republicans have called for a probe into the 2010 purchase of American uranium mines by a Russian-backed company, noting some of the company's investors had donated money to Clinton. The state department, then led by Clinton, was one of nine U.S. agencies with oversight of the deal, although she has said she wasn't involved. Trump has said the company's sale is a scandal on par with Watergate.

Trump's favourite morning show, "Fox & Friends," spent an hour and nine minutes talking about the deal, second only to Hannity on Fox, Media Matters said.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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