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

August 19, 2020 - 8:04 PM

Democrats pound their message: To oust Trump, you must vote

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Former President Barack Obama warned Wednesday night that American democracy may not survive if President Donald Trump is reelected, a damning assessment of his successor intended to jolt Democrats into rallying around Joe Biden and doing whatever it takes to vote.

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t,” Obama charged, speaking from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, a backdrop chosen to reinforce what the former president sees as the dire stakes of the moment.

“I have sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president,” Obama continued, describing Biden as his brother. “I never expected that my successor would embrace my vision or continue my policies. I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously.”

Obama's remarks were striking for their bluntness, especially from a figure who has spoken fondly of the tradition of presidents refraining from publicly criticizing their successors. But he reflected the Democrats’ view that the nation is facing an existential crisis as it confronts health and economic turmoil and a reckoning on racial justice. The party’s 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton, echoed those warnings earlier in the evening.

Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, was capping the third night of the convention in a symbolic hand-off from Obama, the nation’s first Black president, to the first Black woman on a major party ticket.


Democratic convention takeaways: Make history, pound Trump

There has been one persistent theme in the Democratic National Convention so far: to portray President Donald Trump in highly personal ways as one unsuited for the White House both in skills and temperament. And no one, not even former President Barack Obama, has been holding back.

Here are some key takeaways from the third night of the convention.


Former President Barack Obama came to power on the airy notions of “hope and change.” He governed with a largely calm and cerebral air, and continued that in his post-White House years.

On Wednesday, Obama dispensed with decorum and folkways and delivered a direct hit on Trump.


The Latest: Harris introduced as vice-presidential nominee

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some of the most influential women in Kamala Harris’ life are introducing her as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee.

They are Harris’ younger sister, Maya Harris; her niece, Meena Harris; and her step-daughter, Ella Emhoff. Maya Harris has long been one of Harris’ closest political advisers.

Emhoff is the daughter of Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, and affectionately calls Harris “Momala.”

At Wednesday's Democratic National Convention, Meena Harris called her aunt a role model who taught her she could do anything she wanted, and a role model to so many women and girls of colour around the world. Maya Harris says she’ll have Harris’ back the way Harris had hers as children growing up.



California wildfires chase people from homes into smoky air

VACAVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Crews worked in blistering heat Wednesday to beat back wildfires that ignited across Northern California, sending thousands of people from their homes into smoky air, briefly halting traffic on an interstate and killing a pilot on a firefighting mission.

Hundreds of fires were burning across California, including 23 major fires or groups of fires that Gov. Gavin Newsom blamed on "this extraordinary weather that we’re experiencing and all of these lightning strikes.” He said the state has recorded nearly 11,000 lightning strikes in 72 hours and knows of 367 fires.

Ash and smoke filled the air in San Francisco, which is surrounded by wildfires burning to the north, east and south. The LNU Lightning fire is made up of several fires in five counties north of San Francisco, including in Vacaville, a city of about 100,000 people between San Francisco and Sacramento.

The fire had consumed 72 square miles (186 square kilometres). It jumped Interstate 80 Wednesday afternoon, briefly blocking traffic in both directions.

Police and firefighters went door-to-door before dawn in a frantic scramble to warn residents to evacuate as flames encroached on Vacaville. At least 50 structures were destroyed, including some homes, and 50 were damaged.


Cuomo brushes back AP report of care home death undercount

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded Wednesday to an Associated Press report that his state’s coronavirus death toll in nursing homes could be a significant undercount, saying it makes sense to include only those residents who died on the home’s property.

Unlike the federal government and every other state with major outbreaks, only New York explicitly says that it counts just residents who died on nursing home property and not those who were transported to hospitals and died there.

“If you die in the nursing home, it’s a nursing home death. If you die in the hospital, it’s called a hospital death,” the Democratic governor said during an interview on Albany public radio station WAMC. “It doesn’t say where were you before.”

Cuomo said if New York were to count a death as a nursing home death and a hospital death, that could lead to a “double count.”

“And If I’m a nursing home operator, I say: ‘Don’t say that person died in my nursing home, because they didn’t,’” Cuomo said. ”‘They died in the hospital. And if the hospital did a better job, they wouldn’t have died. So why do I get the blame for the death when it didn’t happen in my nursing home?’ So it depends on how you want to argue it.”


Reports: Michigan reaches $600M deal in Flint water crisis

Michigan has reached a $600 million agreement to compensate Flint residents whose health was damaged by lead-tainted drinking water after the city heeded state regulators’ advice not to treat it properly, multiple news outlets reported Wednesday.

Details will be released later this week, according to reports by The Detroit News, MLive.com and WXYZ-TV.

The offices of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have been negotiating for more than 18 months with attorneys for thousands of Flint residents who have filed lawsuits against the state.

Ryan Jarvi, a spokesman for Nessel, declined to confirm the reports of a deal Wednesday night.

“We and the other parties are bound by a federal court order to maintain the confidentiality of detailed settlement and mediation communications until we reach a certain point,” Jarvi said. “We have not yet reached the point where we can discuss a potential settlement.”


Trump: US demands restoration of UN sanctions against Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States will demand Thursday that all United Nations sanctions be reimposed against Iran, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday, a move that follows America's embarrassing failure to extend an arms embargo against Tehran.

The administration’s insistence on snapping back international sanctions against Iran sets the stage for a contentious dispute. It's possible that the U.S. call will be ignored by other U.N. members — an outcome that could call into question the U.N. Security Council’s ability to enforce its own legally binding decisions.

“Two years ago I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, which was a product of the Obama-Biden foreign policy failure — a failure like few people have seen in terms of the amount of money we paid for absolutely nothing and a short-term deal," Trump said.

He pledged that under his administration, Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.

“If and when I win the election, within the first month, Iran will come to us and they are going to be asking for a deal so quickly because they are doing very poorly," he said, adding that sanctions have crippled Iran's economy and limited the amount of money it can use to support militant groups.


NKorea to unveil new economic plans in January party meeting

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea will hold a rare ruling party congress in January where leader Kim Jong Un will announce a new five-year plan to develop the country’s dismal economy ravaged by U.S.-led sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, state media said Thursday.

The plans were confirmed Wednesday during a plenary meeting of the Workers’ Party’s decision-making Central Committee where Kim acknowledged economic shortcomings caused by “unexpected and inevitable challenges in various aspects and the situation in the region surrounding the Korean Peninsula.”

The report by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency didn’t directly mention nuclear diplomacy with the United States, which has stalled over disagreements in exchanging sanctions relief and denuclearization steps.

The Workers’ Party last convened for a full congress in 2016, which was its first in 36 years, where Kim announced his initial five-year national development plan, which included goals for improving power supply and increasing agricultural and manufacturing production.

Entering the plan’s final year, Kim during the Central Committee’s last plenary meeting in December declared a “frontal breakthrough” against sanctions while urging his nation to stay resilient in the struggle for economic self-reliance.


Trump praises QAnon conspiracists, appreciates support

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised the supporters of QAnon, a convoluted, pro-Trump conspiracy theory, and suggested he appreciates their support of his candidacy.

Speaking during a press conference at the White House, Trump courted the support of those who put stock in the conspiracy theory, saying, “I heard that these are people that love our country." It was Trump's first public comment on the subject and continued a pattern of president appearing unwilling to resoundingly condemn extremists who support his candidacy.

QAnon has ricocheted around the darker corners of the internet since late 2017, but has been creeping into mainstream politics more and more. The baseless theory centres on an alleged anonymous, high-ranking government official known as “Q” who shares information about an anti-Trump “deep state” often tied to satanism and child sex trafficking.

Trump insisted he hadn't heard much about the movement, “other than I understand they like me very much” and "it is gaining in popularity.”

Trump has retweeted QAnon-promoting accounts, and shirts and hats with QAnon symbols and slogans are not uncommon at his rallies.


Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman uses anti-gay slur on air

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman used an anti-gay slur on air during Cincinnati's game Wednesday night and later left the broadcast after apologizing.

Brennaman used the slur moments after the Fox Sports Ohio feed returned from a commercial break before the top of the seventh inning in the first game of a doubleheader at Kansas City. Brennaman did not seem to realize he was already on air.

The 56-year-old Brennaman remained on air in the second game until the top of the fifth inning, when he spoke directly to the camera before handing off play-by-play duties.

“I made a comment earlier tonight that I guess went out over the air that I am deeply ashamed of,” he said. “If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say from the bottom of my heart, I am very, very sorry.”

After pausing to announce a home run by Cincinnati's Nick Castellanos, Brennaman added: “I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again” and apologized to the Reds, Fox Sports and his coworkers.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
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