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

June 17, 2020 - 8:05 PM

Bolton says Trump asked China to help him get reelected

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump “pleaded” with China’s Xi Jinping during a 2019 summit to help his reelection prospects, according to a scathing new book by former Trump adviser John Bolton that accuses the president of being driven by political calculations when making national security decisions.

The White House worked furiously to block the book, asking a federal court for an emergency temporary restraining order Wednesday against its release.

Bolton's allegations that Trump solicited Chinese help for his reelection effort carried echoes of Trump’s attempt to get political help from Ukraine, which led to his impeachment.

“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” Bolton wrote.

The 577-page book paints an unvarnished portrait of Trump and his administration, amounting to the most vivid, first-person account yet of how Trump conducts himself in office. Several other former officials have written books, but most have been flattering about the president. Other former officials have indicated they were saving their accounts of their time working for Trump until after he left office in order to speak more candidly. The Associated Press obtained a copy of Bolton’s book in advance of its release next week.

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Officer charged with murder for shooting Rayshard Brooks

ATLANTA (AP) — Prosecutors brought murder charges Wednesday against the white Atlanta police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in the back, saying that Brooks was not a deadly threat and that the officer kicked the wounded black man and offered no medical treatment for over two minutes as he lay dying on the ground.

Brooks, 27, was holding a stun gun he had snatched from officers, and he fired it at them during the clash, but he was running away at the time and was 18 feet, 3 inches from Officer Garrett Rolfe when Rolfe started shooting, District Attorney Paul Howard said in announcing the charges. Stun guns have a range of around 15 feet.

“I got him!” the prosecutor quoted Rolfe as saying.

The felony murder charge against Rolfe, 27, carries life in prison or the death penalty, if prosecutors decide to seek it. He was also charged with 10 other offences punishable by decades behind bars.

The decision to prosecute came less than five days after the killing outside a Wendy’s restaurant rocked a city — and a nation — already roiled by the death of George Floyd under a police officer's knee in Minneapolis late last month.

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US virus outbreaks stir clash over masks, personal freedom

PHOENIX (AP) — When the coronavirus flared in China's capital this week, Beijing cancelled flights, suspended reopenings and described the situation as “extremely grave.” But with cases rising in some U.S. states, local officials have balked at even requiring people to wear masks.

In the United States, which has the most confirmed cases and deaths in the world, authorities wrestled Wednesday with balancing demands for constitutional rights and personal freedom with warnings from health officials that being lax will have deadly consequences.

China responded to a new outbreak in Beijing by scrapping more than 60% of its flights to the capital, cancelling classes and strengthening requirements for social distancing. It was a sharp retreat for the nation that declared victory over COVID-19 in March.

“This has truly rung an alarm bell for us,” Party Secretary Cai Qi told a meeting of Beijing’s Communist Party Standing Committee.

China's actions follow about 137 new cases, a fraction of the number some U.S. states see each day. In Arizona, more than 1,100 people visited emergency rooms on Tuesday alone with positive or suspected cases. Alabama also is running out of hospital space, stirring impassioned debate over a mask requirement. Other states that haven't mandated face coverings, like Texas and Florida, are seeing infections soar.

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AP-NORC poll: Sweeping change in US views of police violence

DETROIT (AP) — A dramatic shift has taken place in the nation’s opinions on policing and race, as a new poll finds that more Americans today than five years ago believe police brutality is a very serious problem that too often goes undisciplined and unequally targets black Americans.

The new findings from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research suggest the death of George Floyd and the weeks of nationwide and global protests that followed have changed perceptions in ways that previous incidents of police brutality did not.

About half of American adults now say police violence against the public is a “very” or “extremely” serious problem, up from about a third as recently as September last year. Only about 3 in 10 said the same in July 2015, just a few months after Freddie Gray, a black man, died in police custody in Baltimore.

In the latest poll, roughly 3 in 10 said police violence is a moderately serious problem. Those who say it is not a serious problem has declined from a third in 2015 to about 2 in 10 today.

Floyd, a black man, died in late May after a police officer in Minneapolis pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Experts say the dramatic change in opinion about police violence that has followed is an indication the country is grappling with how to confront centuries of structural racism and inequity.

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Charleston officials to remove statue of slavery advocate

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Despite a South Carolina law protecting monuments, officials in the historic city of Charleston announced Wednesday that they plan to remove a statue of slavery advocate John C. Calhoun from a downtown square.

Mayor John Tecklenburg announced he will send a resolution to the City Council to remove the statue at a news conference on the fifth anniversary of the slaying of eight black church members and their pastor in Dylann Roof’s racist attack at a downtown Charleston church. The move comes as monuments to Confederates and other historical figures who repressed or oppressed other people are being removed across the country.

“What a beautiful show of support from our City Council,” Tecklenburg said, adding that he was happy to see so many come together in the effort “not to erase our long and often tragic history but to begin to write a new and more equitable future.” The mayor anticipated the statue will go to a local museum or educational institution.

The next meeting of the Charleston City Council is scheduled for Tuesday.

Dozens of protesters linked arms around the monument Wednesday evening and shouted, “Take it down!” Video posted on Twitter also showed signs and spray-painting on the monument. Police said they were making arrests for vandalism and would provide details later.

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Bolton: Trump said Xi was right to detain ethnic minorities

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump told China's Xi Jinping that he was right to build detention camps to house hundreds of thousands of ethnic minorities, former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton alleged in a new book that could make the president’s tough-on-China mantra a hard sell.

At a summit in Japan in 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi gave Trump an explanation for the Chinese camps for Uighurs, who are ethnically and culturally distinct from the country’s majority Han population and are suspected of harbouring separatist tendencies, Bolton wrote.

“According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do,” the book said.

That would be a stunning statement coming from the president of the United States, where the First Amendment protects the right to religious beliefs and practices and prevents the government from creating or favouring a religion. It could drive a wedge between Trump and his Republican China hawks on Capitol Hill.

It also could take some punch out of the Trump campaign’s efforts to portray former Vice-President Joe Biden as soft on China. The Trump campaign released an online video last month that included clips of Biden previously describing that country as “not bad folks” and saying economic growth there was in the U.S. interest.

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Probe: Kobe Bryant pilot may have become disoriented in fog

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The pilot of the helicopter that crashed in thick fog, killing Kobe Bryant and seven other passengers, reported the aircraft was ascending when it actually was heading for the ground, federal investigators said in documents released Wednesday.

Ara Zobayan radioed to air traffic controllers that he was climbing to 4,000 feet (1,220 metres) to get above clouds on Jan. 26 when, in fact, the chopper was plunging toward a hillside where it crashed northwest of Los Angeles, killing all nine people aboard.

The report by the National Transportation Safety Board said Zobayan may have “misperceived” the angles at which he was descending and banking, which can happen when a pilot becomes disoriented in low visibility.

“Calculated apparent angles at this time show that the pilot could have misperceived both pitch and roll angles,” one report stated. "During the final descent the pilot, responding to (air traffic control), stated that they were ‘climbing to four thousand.’”

John Cox, an aviation safety consultant, said the helicopter’s erratic flight path — the aircraft slowed, climbed, then banked to one side while sinking rapidly — are telltale signs of a pilot becoming disoriented in conditions that make it hard to see terrain or the horizon.

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`That 70s Show' actor Danny Masterson charged in 3 rapes

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson was charged with the rapes of three women in the early 2000s, Los Angeles prosecutors said Wednesday, the culmination of a three-year investigation that resulted in a rare arrest of a famous Hollywood figure in the #MeToo era.

The three counts of rape by force or fear against Masterson were filed Tuesday, and an arrest warrant isssued. Masterson, 44, was arrested late Wednesday morning, jail records showed. He was released a few hours later after posting bond and is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 18.

Masterson's attorney Tom Mesereau said his client is innocent, and "we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify.”

Prosecutors allege that Masterson raped a 23-year-old woman sometime in 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April of 2003, and a 23-year-old woman he had invited to his Hollywood Hills home between October and December of 2003.

If convicted, he could face up to 45 years in prison.

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Biden calls on Trump to 'wake up' to havoc caused by virus

DARBY, Pa. (AP) — Joe Biden unleashed a stinging critique Wednesday of President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus, calling on Trump to "wake up” to the havoc caused by the pandemic and do more to prevent further harm.

“Donald Trump wants to style himself as a wartime president," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said at a recreation centre in the Philadelphia suburbs. "Unlike any other wartime leader, he takes no responsibility, he exercises no leadership. Now he has just flat surrendered the fight.”

Biden has steadily stepped up his attacks on Trump's leadership in recent weeks. But his remarks Wednesday were especially sharp, trying to counter the populism Trump hopes to ride to reelection with stern warnings about how dangerous such an approach would be.

At times pounding his lectern for emphasis, Biden said the Republican president wants to declare the pandemic over even as the outbreak continues to kill Americans and disrupt the economy.

“We may lose some of the progress we’ve begun to make, all because he’s lost interest,” Biden said.

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Voices of protest, crying for change, ring across US, beyond

They are nurses and doctors, artists, students, construction workers, government employees; black, brown and white; young and old.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in big cities and tiny towns in every U.S. state - and even around the world - to protest the killing of George Floyd, who died after a police officer pressed his knee into his neck as he pleaded for air.

They say they are protesting police brutality, but also the systematic racism non-white Americans have experienced since the country’s birth. Many say they marched so that one day, when their children asked what they did at this historic moment, they will be able to say they stood up for justice despite all risks.

Most say they do not support the violence, fires and burglaries that consumed some of the demonstrations, but some understand it: these are desperate acts by desperate people who have been screaming for change for generations into a world unwilling to hear them.

Yet suddenly, for a moment at least, everyone seems to be paying attention.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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