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AP News in Brief at 11:09 p.m. EDT

August 30, 2020 - 8:09 PM

'Fanning the flames': Dems accuse Trump of stoking violence

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats on Sunday accused President Donald Trump of trying to inflame racial tensions and incite violence to benefit his campaign as he praised supporters who clashed with protesters in Portland, Oregon, where one man died overnight, and announced he will travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin, amid anger over the shooting of another Black man by police.

Trump unleashed a flurry of tweets and retweets the day after a man identified as a supporter of a right-wing group was shot and killed in Portland, where a large caravan of Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters clashed in the city's streets. Trump praised the caravan participants as “GREAT PATRIOTS!” and retweeted what appeared to be the dead man's name along with a message to “Rest in peace.”

Trump also retweeted those who blamed the city’s Democratic mayor for the death.

“The people of Portland, like all other cities & parts of our great Country, want Law & Order," Trump later tweeted. "The Radical Left Democrat Mayors, like the dummy running Portland, or the guy right now in his basement unwilling to lead or even speak out against crime, will never be able to do it!”

Trump has throughout the summer cast American cities as under siege by violence and lawlessness, despite the fact that most of the demonstrations against racial injustice have been largely peaceful. With about nine weeks until Election Day, some of his advisers see an aggressive “law and order” message as the best way for the president to turn voters against his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, and regain the support of suburban voters, particularly women, who have abandoned him. But Democrats accuse Trump of rooting for unrest and trying to stoke further violence for political gain instead of seeking to ratchet down tensions.

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Trump, Portland mayor blame each other after deadly shooting

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The mayor of Portland, Oregon, and President Donald Trump engaged in a real-time argument Sunday as the president sent a flurry of critical tweets about Ted Wheeler as the mayor was holding a press conference about the fatal shooting of a right-wing supporter in his city the night before.

After Trump called Wheeler, a Democrat, a “fool” and blamed him for allowing violence to proliferate in the liberal city, the visibly angry mayor lashed out at the president, addressing him in the first person through the TV cameras.

“That’s classic Trump. Mr. President, how can you think that a comment like that, if you’re watching this, is in any way helpful? It’s an aggressive stance, it is not collaborative. I certainly reached out, I believe in a collaborative manner, by saying earlier that you need to do your part and I need to do my part and then we both need to be held accountable,” Wheeler said.

"Let’s work together. Wouldn’t that be a message? Donald Trump and Ted Wheeler working together to help move this country forward. Why don’t we try that for a change?”

The testy news conference followed a chaotic and volatile 24 hours in Portland that began when a caravan of about 600 vehicles packed with Trump supporters drove through Portland and was met with counterprotesters. Skirmishes broke out between the groups and, about 15 minutes after the caravan left the city, a supporter of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer was fatally shot.

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Postal chief DeJoy has long leveraged connections, dollars

WASHINGTON (AP) — During its search for a new postmaster general, the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors was presented with 53 candidates screened by an outside company. Not on the list: Louis DeJoy, who ultimately got the job.

Instead, in what Democrats call a breach of protocol and blatant cronyism, DeJoy's name was added as a contender by the board member leading the search, John Barger. He was acting on behalf of the board's chairman, Robert “Mike” Duncan, a former Republican National Committee chairman who knew DeJoy and his wife through work on a White House advisory group. DeJoy, Barger and Duncan were prominent donors to President Donald Trump and other Republicans.

How exactly DeJoy was hired is among the questions Congress is trying to unravel as lawmakers scrutinize a series of operational changes at the Postal Service that have resulted in widespread mail delays and fears that the agency will not be able to handle an expected surge in mail-in ballots this fall as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats say they also want to learn more about the role of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who met with Duncan and other Republicans on the agency's board while the selection of the new postmaster general was underway.

The Trump administration denies any impropriety in the selection of DeJoy, a former supply chain CEO who is the first postmaster general in nearly two decades not to be a career postal employee. Mnuchin has said he had no involvement, though his heightened interest in the Postal Service has raised questions given Trump's focus on mail-in voting.

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Coronavirus worries force election officials to get creative

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The coronavirus has upended everyday life in ways big and small. What happens when those disruptions overlap with voting? Thousands of state and local election officials across the U.S are sharing ideas and making accommodations to try to ensure that voters and polling places are safe amid an unprecedented pandemic.

Some are finding ways to expand access to voter registration and ballot request forms. Others are testing new products, installing special equipment or scouting outdoor voting locations.

Here are virus-related obstacles voters could face during this unprecedented presidential election year along with some of the solutions being tried:

CLOSURES AND CURTAILED HOURS

What if you need a voter registration form or absentee ballot application and all the normal go-to places are closed or open by appointment only? It's a problem nationwide.

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Lady Gaga dominates at MTV VMAs, The Weeknd wins top award

NEW YORK (AP) — Lady Gaga cleaned house at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, while The Weeknd took home the top prize — and both pop stars sent important messages to viewers about the current state of the world: “Wear a mask" and “Justice for Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor."

Gaga won five honours Sunday, most of them for her No. 1 hit with Ariana Grande, “Rain on Me," which the pop stars performed live for the first time.

“Wear a mask. It’s a sign of respect," Gaga said during one of her several appearances onstage as she accepted awards like artist and song of the year.

With an electronic mask, Gaga performed a medley of her songs, including “Stupid Love," “Chromatica II” and “911.” She and Grande were joined by a number of background dancers all wearing masks.

The Weeknd, the first performer of the night, paid tribute to Blake and Taylor — two Black people who were shot by police officers — after winning video of the year and best R&B for “Blinding Lights."

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Chadwick Boseman's death leaves saddening mark on rough 2020

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant. Rep. John Lewis. And now, Chadwick Boseman.

So far, 2020 has been marred with bad news and tragedy with the deaths of several popular Black icons including Bryant, Lewis and recently Boseman, who died Friday. All three were viewed as leaders in their respective fields of sports, politics and film — places where people, particularly in the Black community, have often looked for inspiration during a year of racial tension and protests against the police brutality of unarmed Black people.

But for many, the loss of another major figure such as Boseman is taking a toll. The actor, who starred in the blockbuster superhero Marvel film “Black Panther,” shockingly died at the age of 43 in his home in Los Angeles after he privately battled colon cancer for four years.

“These are pillars in our community,” Rev. Al Sharpton said. “In times of instability, you depend on pillars. It’s bad enough when there’s a storm outside and you hear the lightning and thunder. It gets worse when the pillars that you’re building and standing on (are) shaking. It’s like they’re chipping away at our foundation. The very building is shaking down, because the things that undergird and protect us from the storms are being removed.”

Sharpton called Boseman an important pillar that humanized several Black historical trailblazers in his roles — including colour-line breaking baseball star Jackie Robinson, legendary singer James Brown and the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Boseman's family said he endured “countless surgeries and chemotherapy” while portraying King T’Challa of Wakanda in the Oscar-nominated “Black Panther,” a film that proved a person of colour could lead in a successful superhero film.

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'Tragedy': St. Louis officer dies after being shot by gunman

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis police officer who was shot in the head while responding to a shooting on the city’s south side died Sunday, authorities said.

Officer Tamarris L. Bohannon, 29, had been with the department for 3 1/2 years.

A second officer who was shot in the leg was treated and released after the shooting around 6 p.m. in the South Grand neighbourhood near Tower Grove Park, St. Louis Police Department spokeswoman Officer Michelle Woodling said.

Woodling said the second officer is 30 and has been on the force about six months. The 43-year-old suspect was taken into custody Sunday morning, Woodling said.

Mayor Lyda Krewson said in a statement Sunday night that she was “heartbroken” at Bohannon’s death. “I’ve had the privilege of spending some time with his family under these extraordinarily challenging circumstances. They’re wonderful people and immensely proud of the way he selflessly served and protected our community with distinction and honour for more than three years.”

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Huge protest on Belarus leader's birthday demands he resign

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied Sunday in the Belarusian capital of Minsk to begin the fourth week of daily protests demanding that the country's authoritarian president resign.

The protests began after an Aug. 9 presidential election that protesters say was rigged but that election officials say gave President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in office.

Protesters initially tried to gather at Independence Square in Minsk, but barriers and riot police blocked it off. They then streamed down one of the capital’s main avenues, past hulking olive-green prisoner transport vehicles. Police detained some marchers and forced them into the transports.

Police said 125 people were arrested, but Ales Bilyatsky of the Viasna human rights organization said more than 200 were detained.

The marchers, chanting “Freedom!” and “Resign!” eventually reached the outskirts of the presidential palace, which was blocked off by shield-bearing riot police. There were no official figures on the crowd size, but some opposition sources claimed it exceeded 100,000.

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Wildfires again threaten business in California wine country

HEALDSBURG, Calif. (AP) — With an early harvest already underway, a wildfire a few miles west of John Bucher's ranch added new urgency to getting his pinot noir grapes off the vine. If flames didn't do any damage to the delicate fruit, ash and smoke certainly could.

Bucher hired an extra crew, and they finished the task before dawn Wednesday in the quaint wine country destination of Healdsburg, remarkably early in the year for a grape that is often not harvested until the end of September.

“It was just a race to get it done,” Bucher said, his voice hoarse after three days of almost no sleep and working in occasionally smoky conditions.

Fire has been cruel to Northern California wine country lately.

Three of the past four years, major wildfires have burned in Napa and Sonoma counties, charring vineyards, burning down a historic winery and sending plumes of smoke above the neatly tended rows of vines rolling across scenic hills.

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United says it will drop widely scorned ticket-change fees

United Airlines says it listened to customers and is dropping an unpopular $200 fee for most people who change a ticket for travel within the United States.

“When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of fees is often the top request,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a video posted Sunday.

United's move will put pressure on American Airlines and Delta Air Lines to drop their change fees, also $200 on domestic travel. Delta and American said they are waiving change fees for travel affected by the virus through the year's end. Southwest Airlines does not charge change fees, a policy which its CEO says has helped it gain more business.

United said that it eliminated change fees for people who buy a standard or premium economy ticket for U.S. travel.

United also said that it will extend a broad waiver of change fees — including for international travel — through Dec. 31. Customers who pay the lowest fares, called “basic economy,” can also change tickets free because of the extended waiver announced Sunday.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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