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

Current Conditions

Partly Cloudy
-3.6°C

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

February 06, 2019 - 8:04 PM

Political crisis engulfs Virginia's top 3 elected officials

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The political crisis in Virginia spun out of control Wednesday when the state's attorney general confessed to putting on blackface in the 1980s and a woman went public with detailed allegations of sexual assault against the lieutenant governor.

With Gov. Ralph Northam's career already hanging by a thread over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, the day's developments threatened to take down all three of Virginia's top elected officials, all of them Democrats.

The twin blows began with Attorney General Mark Herring issuing a statement acknowledging he wore brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a rapper during a party when he was a 19-year-old student at the University of Virginia.

Herring — who had previously called on Northam to resign and was planning to run for governor himself in 2021 — apologized for his "callous" behaviour and said that the days ahead "will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve."

The 57-year-old Herring came clean after rumours about the existence of a blackface photo of him began circulating at the Capitol, though he made no mention of a picture Wednesday.

___

Woman accuses elected Virginia official of sexual assault

WASHINGTON (AP) — A California woman went public with her sexual assault accusation against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax on Wednesday, saying in a statement that she suppressed the memory for years but came forward in part because of the possibility that the Democrat could succeed a scandal-mired governor .

Vanessa Tyson, a 42-year-old political science professor who studies the intersection of politics and the #MeToo movement, said Fairfax held her head down and forced her to perform oral sex on him in his hotel room at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004.

"I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual," Tyson said in a three-page statement issued by her attorney . "To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave any form of consent. Quite the opposite."

The accusation comes amid calls from top Democrats for the resignation of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam over a racist photo that appeared on his 1984 medical school yearbook page. Fairfax, who would be in line to become governor if Northam resigned, said Wednesday that his sexual encounter with Tyson was consensual and questioned why she waited so long to come forward.

At the time of the 2004 convention, Fairfax, now 39, was a law student serving as an aide to then-Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards.

___

Trump predicts all IS territory will be cleared next week

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump predicted Wednesday that the Islamic State group will have lost by next week all the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria. He said the U.S. will not relent in fighting remnants of the extremist organization despite his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria over the objections of some of his most senior national security advisers.

The president told representatives of a 79-member, U.S.-led coalition fighting IS that the militants held a tiny percentage of the vast territory they claimed as their "caliphate."

"It should be formally announced sometime, probably next week, that we will have 100 per cent of the caliphate," Trump said.

U.S. officials have said in recent weeks that IS has lost 99.5 per cent of its territory and is holding on to fewer than 5 square kilometres in Syria, or less than 2 square miles, in the villages of the Middle Euphrates River Valley, where the bulk of the fighters are concentrated.

But there are fears the impending U.S. pullout will imperil those gains. Trump told coalition members meeting at the State Department that while "remnants" of the group were still dangerous, he was determined to bring U.S. troops home. He called on coalition members to step up and do their "fair share" in the fight against terrorism.

___

San Francisco gas explosion shoots fire that burns buildings

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A gas explosion in a San Francisco neighbourhood shot flames into the air for hours Wednesday and burned five buildings, sending panicked residents and workers fleeing into the streets.

It took utility crews more than two hours to put out the fire after private construction workers cut a natural gas line, igniting the towering flames, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said. Authorities initially said five workers were missing, but the entire construction crew was found safe, and no other injuries were reported.

Officials evacuated several nearby buildings, including a medical clinic and apartment buildings, Hayes-White said. Vehicles on a busy street got rerouted as authorities cordoned off the bustling retail and residential neighbourhood.

The fire damaged a building housing Hong Kong Lounge II, a popular dim sum restaurant frequented by tourists and students at the University of San Francisco that made many "best of" lists.

Caroline Gasparini, 24, who lives catty-corner from where the fire ignited, said she and her housemate were in their living room when the windows started rattling. She looked up to see flames reflected in the glass.

___

Unbowed by Trump, Democrats charge ahead with investigations

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump warned Congress that investigations and legislation don't mix. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi said such threats have no place in the House, as unbowed Democrats charged ahead Wednesday with plans to probe Trump's tax returns, business and ties to Russia.

The chairman of the intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, announced a broad new investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump's foreign financial interests. Other committees' actions are well underway.

The day after the president essentially laid out the ultimatum to Congress during his State of the Union address, Democrats appeared even more resolved to conduct oversight of his administration and legislate on their priorities.

"The president should not bring threats to the floor of the House," Pelosi told reporters, rebuking Trump for saying during his address that the "ridiculous partisan investigations" must end because they could harm the economy.

Pelosi said Congress has a responsibility to provide oversight, under the Constitution's system of checks and balances, and would be "delinquent" if it failed to do so.

___

Images suggest Iran launched satellite despite US criticism

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran appears to have attempted a second satellite launch despite U.S. criticism that its space program helps it develop ballistic missiles, satellite images released Thursday suggest. Iran has not acknowledged conducting such a launch.

Images released by the Colorado-based company DigitalGlobe show a rocket at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran's Semnan province on Tuesday. Images from Wednesday show the rocket was gone with what appears to be burn marks on its launch pad.

Iranian state media did not immediately report on the rocket launch, though such delays have happened in previous launches.

Iran has said it would launch its Doosti, or "Friendship," satellite. A launch in January failed to put another satellite, Payam or "Message," into orbit.

The U.S. alleges such launches defy a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

___

Warren struggles to move past Native American heritage flap

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren is on the verge of launching a presidential campaign that should be all about her vision for the future. But first she has to explain her past.

For the second time in two weeks, the Massachusetts Democrat apologized Wednesday for claiming Native American identity on multiple occasions early in her career. The move followed a report that she listed her race as "American Indian" — in her own handwriting — on a 1986 registration card for the Texas state bar.

By providing fresh evidence that she had personally identified her race, the document resurrected the flap just as she's trying to gain momentum for her 2020 presidential bid, which she's expected to formally announce on Saturday. Warren didn't rule out the possibility of other documents in which she identified as a Native American.

In a Democratic primary already dominated by candidates expressing remorse for past actions, Warren's repentance stood out, both for the distraction the controversy has become for her candidacy and the complexity of her efforts to move beyond it. While her competitors are fine-tuning their messages and trying to demonstrate competence and polish, Warren has repeatedly opened herself up to criticism by relitigating the past.

"It's not exactly how you'd want to enter the arena" as a presidential candidate, said Paulette Jordan, a former Democratic state representative in Idaho and a member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe who became the party's gubernatorial nominee last year. Jordan warned that Warren's treatment of her heritage raises "a whole lot of questions and doubt" about her integrity: "If you cannot uphold that, then it makes things challenging."

___

San Francisco police release sketch of "Doodler' killer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — More than 40 years after a serial killer dubbed the "Doodler" terrorized San Francisco's gay community, police released a sketch Wednesday of what the man might look like today and announced a $100,000 reward for details leading to his capture.

Police believe the killer stabbed at least five men to death from early 1974 to late 1975.

He became known as the "Doodler" after a victim who survived an attack told police the man was doodling while they talked at a late-night diner and said he was a cartoonist.

At a news conference, police released a pair of images that showed a 1975 sketch of the man and an "age-progression" showing what he might look like now.

"In the 1970s, this was gripping the gay community and San Francisco," police Commander Greg McEachern told the news conference, saying authorities were releasing the new sketch in hopes of bringing justice to victims of the "horrendous homicides."

___

Army aims for more combat-ready troops with new fitness test

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — Army soldiers struggle to haul heavy sleds backward as fast as they can down a grassy field at Fort Bragg, filling the brisk North Carolina morning air with grunts of exertion and the shouts of instruction from their coaches.

Watching from the sidelines, Sgt. Maj. Harold Sampson shakes his head. As a military intelligence specialist he spends a lot of time behind a desk. Over his two decades in the Army, he could easily pound out the situps, pushups and 2-mile run that for years have made up the service's fitness test.

But change has come. The Army is developing a new, more grueling and complex fitness exam that adds dead lifts, power throws and other exercises designed to make soldiers more fit and ready for combat. "I am prepared to be utterly embarrassed," Sampson said on a recent morning, two days before he was to take the test.

Commanders have complained in recent years that the soldiers they get out of basic training aren't fit enough. Nearly half of the commanders surveyed last year said new troops coming into their units could not meet the physical demands of combat. Officials also say about 12 per cent of soldiers at any one time cannot deploy because of injuries.

In addition, there has long been a sense among many senior officials that the existing fitness test does not adequately measure the physical attributes needed for the battlefield, said Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

___

Reporter alleges Jill Abramson lifted material for her book

NEW YORK (AP) — Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson is facing allegations that she lifted material from other sources for her new book, "Merchants of Truth."

A Twitter thread posted Wednesday by Vice correspondent Michael Moynihan lists several examples of passages in "Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts" that closely resemble material in The New Yorker, Time Out and other publications. Released this week, "Merchants of Truth" is a critique of the news business focused on two long-running newspapers, the Times and the Washington Post, along with Vice and fellow digital company BuzzFeed.

Appearing Wednesday night on Fox News, Abramson disputed the allegations, saying: "All I can tell you is I certainly didn't plagiarize in my book and there's 70 pages of footnotes showing where I got the information." Writers are generally expected to credit their sources directly in the body of the text if the material is similar.

Abramson did not immediately return phone and email messages from The Associated Press seeking comment. A Simon & Schuster spokesman had no immediate comment.

Abramson wrote for the Times and the Wall Street Journal among others before becoming the Times' first female executive editor in 2011. She was fired three years later after frequently clashing with fellow staff members. She currently teaches creative writing at Harvard University.

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

  • Popular kamloops News
  • Comments
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile