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

October 03, 2017 - 8:05 PM

Vegas gunman transferred $100K, set up cameras at hotel room

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Las Vegas gunman transferred $100,000 overseas in the days before the attack and planned the massacre so meticulously that he even set up cameras inside the peephole of his high-rise hotel room and on a service cart outside his door, apparently to spot anyone coming for him, authorities said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, investigators are taking a harder look at the shooter's girlfriend and what she might have known about the attack at a country music festival, with the sheriff naming her a "person of interest" and saying the FBI is bringing her back to the U.S. on Wednesday for questioning.

Authorities are trying to determine why Stephen Paddock killed 59 people in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

They have been speaking with girlfriend Marilou Danley, 62, who was out the country at the time of the shooting and in the Philippines on Tuesday, and "we anticipate some information from her shortly," Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said.

Lombardo said he is "absolutely" confident authorities will find out what set off Paddock, a 64-year-old high-stakes gambler and retired accountant who killed himself before police stormed his 32nd-floor room.

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Trump sees 'miracle' Puerto Rico survival, ignores critics

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Touring a small slice of Hurricane Maria's devastation, President Donald Trump congratulated Puerto Rico on Tuesday for escaping the higher death toll of "a real catastrophe like Katrina" and heaped praise on the relief efforts of his administration without mentioning the sharp criticism the federal response has drawn.

"Really nothing short of a miracle," he said of the recovery, an assessment at odds with the despair of many still struggling to find water and food outside the capital city in wide swaths of an island where only 5 per cent of electricity customers have power back. The governor of Puerto Rico said late Tuesday that the official death toll has been increased to 34 from 16.

In the heart of San Juan, in fact, a few miles from the air base where Trump gave his thumbs-up report on progress, people stacked sewage-fouled clothes and mattresses outside houses and businesses lacking electricity nearly two weeks after the storm. "Nobody's come," said Ray Negron, 38, collecting debris in the Playita neighbourhood.

Trump pledged an all-out effort to help the island while adding, somewhat lightly: "Now I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack because we've spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico. And that's fine. We've saved a lot of lives."

Known deaths from Maria in the U.S. territory stand at 34. But local officials caution that any accounting of death and destruction is far from complete as people suffer secondary effects from thirst, hunger and extreme heat without air conditioning. As for Katrina, as many as 1,800 people died in 2005 when levees protecting New Orleans broke, a toll in lives and property that took years to understand.

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10 Things to Know for Wednesday

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

1. WHAT TRUMP SAID IN PUERTO RICO

The president congratulated hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico for escaping the higher death toll of "a real catastrophe like Katrina" but added "you've thrown our budget a little out of whack."

2. WHAT LAS VEGAS GUNMAN HAD HIDDEN IN HOTEL FOOD CART

Authorities say shooter Stephen Paddock put a camera in a food service cart outside his hotel room to see if anyone was coming to take him into custody.

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Iran deal's future may hinge on face-saving fix for Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — The future of the Iran nuclear deal may hinge on a face-saving fix for President Donald Trump so he doesn't have to recertify the Islamic republic's compliance every 90 days, according to U.S. officials.

Several officials familiar with internal discussions say the periodic reviews mandated by Congress have become such a source of embarrassment for Trump that his national security aides are seeking ways for him to stop signing off on the seven-nation accord without scuttling it entirely.

The president has called the agreement one of America's "worst and most one-sided transactions" ever. Officials say what Trump hates most, however, is a provision in a 2015 U.S. law — known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act — that requires him to tell Congress every three months if Iran is meeting promises to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for broad international relief from oil, trade and financial sanctions.

Because the U.N. nuclear watchdog has found Iran in compliance, it's difficult for the U.S. administration to say otherwise.

But Trump has said repeatedly that he doesn't want to certify Iranian compliance again after having done so twice already, declaring last month he even had made his mind up about what he'll do next. "Decertification" could lead Congress to reintroduce economic sanctions on Iran that were suspended under the deal. If that happens, Iran has threatened to walk away from the arrangement and restart activities that could take it closer to nuclear weapons.

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Puerto Rico raises hurricane's official death count to 34

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The official death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has increased to 34 from 16, the U.S. territory's governor said Tuesday.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello also said he believes the hurricane that struck on Sept. 20 with winds over 150 mph caused $90 billion in damage across the Caribbean island.

The governor made the announcement at a news conference following U.S. President Donald Trump's short visit to the U.S. territory to assess the storm's impact.

During his stop, Trump congratulated Puerto Ricans for avoiding a high death toll of "a real catastrophe like Katrina." As many as 1,800 people died in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina breached levees protecting New Orleans.

The governor said the death toll in Puerto Rico included 19 people who died as a direct result of the storm and 15 whose deaths were caused indirectly by the storm, local media reported.

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Once an obscure device, 'bump stocks' are in the spotlight

ATLANTA (AP) — The Las Vegas gunman possessed a little-known device called a "bump stock" that was not widely sold — until now.

Originally created with the idea of making it easier for people with disabilities to shoot a gun, the attachments allow a semi-automatic rifle to mimic a fully automatic weapon by unleashing an entire large magazine in seconds. Now the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history has drawn attention to the devices, which critics say flout federal restrictions on automatic guns.

The stocks have been around for less than a decade. The government gave its seal of approval to selling them in 2010 after concluding that they did not violate federal law.

The device basically replaces the gun's shoulder rest with a "support step" that covers the trigger opening. By holding the pistol grip with one hand and pushing forward on the barrel with the other, the shooter's finger comes in contact with the trigger. The recoil then causes the gun to buck back and forth, repeatedly "bumping" the trigger against the finger.

Technically, that means the finger is pulling the trigger for each round fired, keeping the weapon a legal semi-automatic. The rapid fire does not necessarily make the weapon any more lethal — much of that would be dependent on the type of ammunition used. But it does allow the person firing the weapon to get off more shots more quickly.

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Las Vegas victims: Man died protecting wife on anniversary

Through tearful stories of last moments together and in heart-wrenching tributes, relatives and friends are remembering the dozens of people killed in the shooting massacre on the Las Vegas strip.

A woman recalled how her husband shielded her from gunfire only to die himself on their anniversary. Siblings absorbed the news that their beloved big brother was gone. Co-workers gazed silently into flickering candles at a vigil for one victim, a former cheerleader who loved country music.

Relatives of another victim waited for hours before getting the worst news imaginable — that a mother of two who was initially listed as missing had died. A man who loved the outdoors was recalled for his smile — wide and freely given.

Here's a glimpse at some of the people who died after a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel onto a crowd of more than 22,000 at a country music festival in Las Vegas.

HUSBAND PROTECTED WIFE ON ANNIVERSARY

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APNewsBreak: White House to seek $29B disaster aid package

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is finalizing a $29 billion disaster aid package that combines $16 billion to shore up the government-backed flood insurance program with almost $13 billion in new relief for hurricane victims, according to a senior administration official and top congressional aides.

The huge request is expected to be officially sent to Congress on Wednesday, but its outlines were characterized by officials who demanded anonymity because the $29 billion measure is not yet public.

The request would address two pressing needs. The first is to pump money into the flood insurance program, which is rapidly running out of cash to pay an influx of claims from victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. At the same time, the Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to spend money for disaster relief operations at a high rate and requires more money.

The government-guaranteed flood insurance program is maxing out on a $30 billion line of credit from Treasury; the upcoming proposal would wipe $16 billion of that debt off the books to permit the program to pay claims from hurricane victims.

Almost $13 billion is being requested for FEMA, and federal firefighting accounts would receive $577 million as well to replenish them after a disastrous season of Western wildfires.

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US senator seeks cyber info from voting machine makers

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. senator wants to know how well the country's top six voting machine manufacturers protect themselves against cyberattacks, a move that comes just weeks after federal authorities notified 21 states that they had been targeted by Russian government hackers during the 2016 presidential election

In a letter Tuesday to the CEOs of top election technology firms, Sen. Ron Wyden writes that public faith in American election infrastructure is "more important than ever before."

"Ensuring that Americans can trust that election systems and infrastructure are secure is necessary to protecting confidence in our electoral process and democratic government," writes Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

An assessment by the Department of Homeland Security found that Russian hackers targeted state election systems. Some states have since disputed that claim.

A representative for Election System & Software said the company had not yet received Wyden's letter. Steven Sockwell, a spokesman for Austin, Texas-based Hart InterCivic, which has provided vote tabulation devices, software and other voting services in 18 states, said he wasn't aware of any cyberattacks on the company or its products.

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Twins, Yankees get wild during 45-minute first inning

NEW YORK (AP) — Talk about a wild start.

The Twins and Yankees took 45 minutes to play the first inning of Tuesday night's AL wild-card game, heading to the second tied at 3 in a frantic, seesaw start to this year's post-season.

Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario homered for Minnesota to help chase New York ace Luis Severino after just one out, but the Yankees got all those runs back on a three-run shot from Didi Gregorius in the bottom half.

The first inning included 81 pitches, seven full counts, two mound visits and a historic pitching change.

Severino matched the shortest start by a Yankees pitcher in post-season history — joining Art Ditmar (three earned runs) from Game 1 of the 1960 World Series and Bob Turley (four earned runs) in Game 2 of the 1958 World Series. It was also the shortest outing in a winner-take-all post-season game since Game 5 of an AL Division Series in 2000, when Oakland's Gil Heredia got only one out against the Yankees, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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