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Update August 2017


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Update August 10 , 2017

China reports no major collapses following powerful quake

Paramilitary policemen carry boxes of supplies past a section of road blocked by a landslide after an earthquake in Jiuzhaigou county in southwestern China's Sichuan province, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. (Chinatopix via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese monitors say they've detected multiple landslides but no major building collapses following a powerful earthquake in the country's mountainous southwest that killed at least 19 people.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth under the Chinese Academy of Sciences drew the conclusion from satellite imagery collected after the magnitude 6.5 quake struck Tuesday night.

Another 247 people were injured, 40 seriously, by the temblor, which China's earthquake monitoring agency measured at magnitude 7.0.

At least five of those killed were tourists and thousands of visitors had been evacuated by Thursday amid continuing aftershocks.

Most of the deaths and injuries were recorded in Zhangzha township, near the famed Jiuzhaigou national park that is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site.


Key facts about Guam, the center of US-North Korea tension

In this May 15, 2017, file photo, tourists walk through a shopping district in Tamuning, Guam. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — The North Korean army's announcement that it is examining operational plans for attacking Guam after rising tensions with President Donald Trump has brought more global attention to the tiny U.S. territory in the Pacific than it has had in decades. Here is a rundown on the island and it strategic importance.

GEOGRAPHIC BASICS

The strip of land in the western Pacific Ocean is roughly the size of Chicago, and just 4 miles (6 km) wide at its narrowest point. It is about 2,200 miles (3,500 km) southeast of North Korea, much closer than it is to any of the United States. Hawaii is about 4,000 miles (6,500 km) to the east. Its proximity to China, Japan, the Philippines and the Korean Peninsula has long made the island an essential possession of the U.S. military.

U.S. RELATIONSHIP

Guam was claimed by Spain in 1565 and became a U.S. territory in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. Japan seized it for about 2ฝ years during World War II. In 1950, an act of Congress made it an unincorporated organized territory of the United States. It has limited self-government, with a popularly elected governor, small legislature, and non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. Residents do not pay U.S. income taxes or vote in the general election for U.S. president. Its natives are U.S. citizens by birth.

MILITARY HISTORY

The U.S. keeps a Naval base and Coast Guard station in the south, and an Air Force base in the north that saw heavy use during the Vietnam War. While already taking up 30 percent of the island, the American military has been seeking to increase its presence by relocating to Guam thousands of Marines who are currently based in Okinawa, Japan. Protecting the island is the U.S. Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which is used to shoot down ballistic missiles. Last month, the U.S. twice flew a pair of supersonic bombers that took off from Guam over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force after two North Korean tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles. While there has been some resistance and displeasure from the people of Guam over the U.S. military's presence, it is also essential to the island's economy, second only to tourism in importance.

PEOPLE AND GOVERNMENT

The island was first populated about 4,000 years ago by the ancestors of the Chamorros, still the island's largest ethnic group. Now, about 160,000 people live on Guam. Its capital city is Hagatna and its largest city is Dededo. Its chief languages are English and Chamorro. It has seen various popular movements pushing for greater self-government or even U.S. statehood, most notably a significant but failed effort in the 1980s to make it a commonwealth on par with Puerto Rico.


Ricky Martin defends Versace murder drama as truthful

 

Ricky Martin, left, a cast member in the FX series "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story," answers a reporter's question as fellow cast members Darren Criss, center, and Edgar Martinez look on during the 2017 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at 20th Century Fox Studios on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ricky Martin says he reassured Gianni Versace's longtime partner that their relationship is treated respectfully in a TV drama about Versace's 1997 murder.

The pop star plays Antonio D'Amico in FX's "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story," debuting in January.

Martin spoke by phone to D'Amico after he had publicly criticized the unfinished series for what he called inaccuracies.

Executive producer Ryan Murphy said D'Amico may have been judging the drama based on a paparazzi photo taken during filming outside Versace's Miami Beach mansion, where the famed designer was killed.

Martin said Wednesday he told D'Amico that he will make people fall in love with his relationship with Versace.

Edgar Ramirez plays Versace, with Darren Criss as serial killer Andrew Cunanan, who shot himself after Versace's murder.


It's Not Delivery. It's DiGiorno Pizza spilled on interstate

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas highway officials shut down westbound lanes of a cross-country interstate for four hours so crews could pick up pizza.

An 18-wheeler containing DiGiorno and Tombstone frozen pizzas scraped a bridge support and sliced open its trailer Wednesday, spilling them across Interstate 30 in front of the Arkansas Department of Transportation office. Agency spokesman Danny Straessle said the bridge had only cosmetic damage.

I-30 was closed for a time in both directions while crews picked up the DiGiorno and Tombstone brand pies. The highway, which goes around the south side of Little Rock, is part a major link that connects Dallas and points west to Memphis, Tennessee, and points north and east.

There was no word on who missed out on pizza deliveries because of the accident.


Today in History Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Aug. 10, the 222nd day of 2017. There are 143 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 10, 1977, postal employee David Berkowitz was arrested in Yonkers, New York, accused of being "Son of Sam," the gunman who killed six people and wounded seven others in the New York City area. (Berkowitz is serving six consecutive 25-years-to-life sentences.)

On this date:

In 1680, Pueblo Indians launched a successful revolt against Spanish colonists in present-day New Mexico.

In 1792, during the French Revolution, mobs in Paris attacked the Tuileries (TWEE'-luh-reez) Palace, where King Louis XVI resided. (The king was later arrested, put on trial for treason, and executed.)

In 1821, Missouri became the 24th state.

In 1846, President James K. Polk signed a measure establishing the Smithsonian Institution.

In 1874, Herbert Clark Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, was born in West Branch, Iowa.

In 1921, Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken with polio at his summer home on the Canadian island of Campobello.

In 1949, the National Military Establishment was renamed the Department of Defense.

In 1962, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum was dedicated in West Branch, Iowa, on the 88th birthday of the former president, who attended the ceremony along with former President Harry S. Truman. Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man made his debut in issue 15 of "Amazing Fantasy" (cover price: 12 cents).

In 1969, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were murdered in their Los Angeles home by members of Charles Manson's cult, one day after actress Sharon Tate and four other people were slain.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a measure providing $20,000 payments to still-living Japanese-Americans who were interned by their government during World War II.

In 1991, nine Buddhists were found slain at their temple outside Phoenix, Arizona. (Two teen-agers were later arrested; one was sentenced to life in prison, while the other received 281 years.)

In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was sworn in as the second female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ten years ago: Three men being lowered into a southern Indiana coal mine were killed when a nylon sling attached to the bucket the men were riding in got caught, causing the bucket to tip and sending them plummeting more than 500 feet to their deaths.

Five years ago: A man in an Afghan army uniform shot and killed three American service members in southern Afghanistan; the Taliban claimed the shooter joined the insurgency after the attack. At the London Olympics, the United States won the women's 4x100-meter track relay in a world-record time of 40.82 seconds to give the Americans their first victory in the event since 1996.

One year ago: During a raucous campaign rally outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Republican Donald Trump accused President Barack Obama of being the "founder" of the Islamic State group. (Trump later said he was "being sarcastic" before adding, "but not that sarcastic, to be honest with you.") Lonnie Franklin Jr., the Los Angeles serial killer known as the "Grim Sleeper," was sentenced to death for the murders of nine women and a teenage girl. At the Rio Olympics, Katie Ledecky turned in another overpowering performance to carry the United States to victory in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. John Saunders, the versatile sportscaster who hosted ESPN's "The Sports Reporters" for 15 years, died in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, at age 61.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Rhonda Fleming is 94. Singer Ronnie Spector is 74. Actor James Reynolds is 71. Rock singer-musician Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) is 70. Country musician Gene Johnson (Diamond Rio) is 68. Singer Patti Austin is 67. Actor Daniel Hugh Kelly is 65. Folk singer-songwriter Sam Baker is 63. Actress Rosanna Arquette is 58. Actor Antonio Banderas is 57. Rock musician Jon Farriss (INXS) is 56. Singer Julia Fordham is 55. Journalist-blogger Andrew Sullivan is 54. Actor Chris Caldovino is 54. Singer Neneh Cherry is 53. Singer Aaron Hall is 53. Boxer Riddick Bowe is 50. Actor Sean Blakemore is 50. Rhythm-and-blues singer Lorraine Pearson (Five Star) is 50. Singer-producer Michael Bivins is 49. Actor-writer Justin Theroux is 46. Actress Angie Harmon is 45. Country singer Jennifer Hanson is 44. Actor-turned-lawyer Craig Kirkwood is 43. Actress JoAnna Garcia Swisher is 38. Singer Cary Ann Hearst (Shovels & Rope) is 38. Rhythm-and-blues singer Nikki Bratcher (Divine) is 37. Actor Aaron Staton is 37.

Actor Ryan Eggold is 33. Actor Charley Koontz is 30. Actor Lucas Till is 27. Reality TV star Kylie Jenner is 20.
Thought for Today: "There is no adequate defense, except stupidity, against the impact of a new idea." — Percy Williams Bridgeman, American scientist (1882-1961).


Update August 9 , 2017

Strong quake strikes southwest China, 13 dead, 175 injured

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, rescuers work at a tourist site in Zhangzha in Jiuzhaigou county in southwestern China's Sichuan province, Wednesday, Aug. 9.(Zheng Lei/Xinhua via AP)

By Gillian Wong, Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) — A strong earthquake shook a mountainous region in southwestern China near a famous national park, killing 13 people, injuring 175 others and knocking out power and phone networks.

At least five of the dead were tourists, China's official Xinhua News Agency said. At least 28 people had serious injuries, according to the Aba prefecture government in Sichuan province.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for rapid efforts to respond to the quake and rescue the injured. Authorities sent medical teams, rescuers and other resources.

The quake around 9:20 p.m. Tuesday struck a region bordered by the provinces of Sichuan and Gansu. The area is on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and home to many Tibetan and other ethnic minority villages. It's also near Jiuzhaigou, or Jiuzhai Valley, a national park known for spectacular waterfalls and karst formations.

The U.S. Geological Survey said it was magnitude-6.5 and just 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) deep, while the China Earthquake Networks Center measured the earthquake at magnitude-7.0 and said it struck at a depth of 20 kilometers (12 miles). Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones.

A man surnamed Song who answered the phone at a local emergency office in Aba prefecture, where the Jiuzhaigou national park is located, said the nearby town of Zhangzha reported the deaths and injuries. Song did not say where the five tourists who died were from.

The epicenter was about 39 kilometers (24 miles) from the county of Jiuzhaigou, which has a population of around 80,000, and was 285 kilometers (177 miles) from Chengdu, the densely populated capital of Sichuan province, according to the Chinese quake center.

Xinhua said strong tremors could be felt in Chengdu. The Sichuan provincial government's news website said that after the quake struck, a number of train services to Chengdu and other cities were suspended.

Jiuzhaigou county had a massive power outage following the quake, Song said. Local officials were being sent to the town of Zhangzha, which was closest to the quake's epicenter.

"The tremors were very strong," said a woman in Jiuzhaigou town who gave only her surname, Wang, and said she worked for a travel company. She said the damage in the town center seemed minimal other than the suspension of electricity.
"People from other regions are a pretty frightened," Wang said.

Xinhua said more than 30,000 tourists at Jiuzhaigou were relocated to safety with help from tourist buses and private vehicles.

Yu Qian, a local taxation bureau official, told Xinhua that she felt strong shaking that sent her and her two children rushing from their home on the fifth floor. Yu said the quake cut off power in her neighborhood and disrupted telephone service.

"I was getting into a car at the time of the quake, and it felt like a heavy-duty truck roaring past," said Liu Yanrong, a local township official, told Xinhua.

Xinhua cited a worker at the Jiuzhaigou park named Sangey as saying that some houses in the tourist site collapsed or cracked following the quake and that authorities were organizing evacuations of residents.

Images on Chinese social media sites showed rocks scattered on roads and people running out of bars and cafes in Jiuzhaigou town onto the street.

A report on the news site's official microblog also cited Zhao Wei, the party secretary of the Communist Youth League's Jiuzhaigou division, as saying some telephone communications networks were down, making it difficult to determine the scale of the damage.

On Wednesday morning, another strong earthquake struck in far northwestern China, some 2,200 kilometers (1,360 miles) away. It was measured at magnitude 6.3 by USGS and 6.6 by China's agency and was in a sparsely populated area of the Xinjiang region near the Kazakhstan border. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Earthquakes are common in China's west, although the low population density there often means casualties are low. China's deadliest earthquake this century, a magnitude-7.9 temblor, struck Sichuan province in May 2008, killing nearly 90,000 people.

Associated Press writer Louise Watt and researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report.


Trump, North Korea trade escalating threats of fire

 

President Donald Trump talks about North Korea during a briefing on the opioid crisis, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Foster Klug, Mathew Pennington, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea and the United States traded escalating threats, with President Donald Trump warning it would be met "with fire and fury like the world has never seen" and Pyongyang claiming Wednesday it was examining its plans for attacking Guam.

The comments follow reports that North Korea has mastered a crucial technology needed to strike the United States with a nuclear missile.

Despite regular North Korean threats against Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers) from the Korean Peninsula, it is extremely unlikely that Pyongyang would risk the assured annihilation of its revered leadership with a pre-emptive attack on U.S. citizens.

Still, the competing threats and Trump's use of North Korea-style rhetoric — Pyongyang has long vowed to reduce Seoul to a "sea of fire" — raise the already high animosity and heightens worries that a miscalculation might spark conflict between the nuclear-armed nations.

The North Korean army said in a statement distributed by the state-run news agency that it is studying a plan to create an "enveloping fire" in areas around Guam with medium- to long-range ballistic missiles. The statement described Andersen Air Force Base on Guam as a "beachhead" for a potential U.S. invasion of North Korea it needed to neutralize. It was unlikely the North's threat was a direct response to Trump's comments to the camera at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Trump spoke hours after reports were published that indicate North Korea can now wed nuclear warheads with its missiles, including its longest-range missiles that may be able to hit the American mainland. The North has strived for decades to have the ability to strike the U.S. and its Asian allies, and the pace of its breakthroughs is having far-reaching consequences for stability in the Pacific and beyond.

The nuclear advances were detailed in an official Japanese assessment Tuesday and a later Washington Post story that cited U.S. intelligence officials and a confidential Defense Intelligence Agency report. The U.S. now assesses the North Korean arsenal at up to 60 nuclear weapons, more than double most assessments by independent experts, according to the Post's reporting.

"North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States," said a stern-looking Trump, seated with his arms crossed and with his wife beside him. "They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."

"He has been very threatening beyond a normal state. And as I said they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before."

The remarks appeared scripted, with Trump glancing at a paper in front of him. They evoked President Harry Truman's announcement of the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, in which he warned of "a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth."

But it wasn't clear what Trump, who is prone to hyperbole and bombast in far less grave situations, meant by the threat. White House officials did not elaborate.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement afterward saying, "We need to be firm and deliberate with North Korea, but reckless rhetoric is not a strategy to keep America safe."

The Trump administration considers North Korea to be America's greatest national security threat and tensions have steadily escalated this year.

Pyongyang responded angrily to the U.N. Security Council's adoption this weekend of new, tougher sanctions spearheaded by Washington. The sanctions followed intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month, the second of which was estimating as having a range that could reach more of the U.S. mainland. The newly revealed U.S. intelligence assessment indicates those missiles can carry nuclear warheads.

Denouncing the U.N. sanctions through state media, the North warned: "We will make the U.S. pay by a thousand-fold for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country."

For North Korea, having a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike America would be the ultimate guarantee against U.S. invasion.

It is an ambition decades in the making. North Korea began producing fissile material for bombs in the early 1990s and conducted its first nuclear test explosion in 2006. Four subsequent nuclear tests, the latest a year ago, have accelerated progress on miniaturizing a device — something North Korea already claimed it could do. Over that span, multiple U.S. presidents have tried and failed to coax or pressure Pyongyang into abandoning its nuclear ambitions.

The secrecy of the North's nuclear program and the underground nature of its test explosions make it very difficult to properly assess its claims. But the new assessments from Japan and the U.S. suggest that doubts over the North's abilities are receding.

In an annual report, Japan's Defense Ministry on Tuesday concluded that "it is possible that North Korea has achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has developed nuclear warheads." Japan, a key U.S. ally, is a potential, front-line target of North Korean aggression.

The Post story, citing unnamed U.S. intelligence officials, went further. It said the Defense Intelligence Agency analysis, completed last month, assessed North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, including by intercontinental missiles.

Officials at the agency wouldn't comment Tuesday. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence also wouldn't discuss the report.

It's unclear how North Korea's new capabilities will immediately affect how the U.S. approaches the country's regular missile launches and occasional nuclear tests. The U.S. military has never attempted to shoot a North Korean missile out of the sky, deeming all previous tests to pose no threat to the United States. The U.S. could weigh military action if the threat perception changes.

The calculation of North Korea's nuclear arsenal at 60 bombs exceeds other assessments, which range from around one dozen to about 30 weapons. The assessments are typically an estimate of the amount of plutonium and enriched uranium North Korea has in its inventory rather than how much of that material has been weaponized. It's unclear how many, if any, miniaturized warheads North Korea has built.

Last month's ICBM tests highlighted the growing threat. Both missiles were fired at highly lofted angles and landed at sea near Japan, but analysts said the weapons could reach Alaska, Los Angeles or Chicago if fired at a normal, flattened trajectory.

North Korea threatened to hit Guam with its Hwasong-12 missiles, which it says can carry a heavy nuclear warhead and before the two ICBM launches had demonstrated the longest potential range of the missiles test-fired by the North.

Not all technical hurdles have been overcome, however. North Korea is still believed to lack expertise to ensure a missile could re-enter the Earth's atmosphere without the warhead burning up. And it's still working on striking targets with accuracy.

Pennington reported from Washington. Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, Deb Riechmann in Washington and Catherine Lucey in New Jersey contributed to this report.


DJ in groping case says he may have touched Swift's ribs

 

In this Feb. 28, 2016 file photo, singer Taylor Swift attends the Vanity Fair Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

By JAMES ANDERSON and TATIANA FLOWERS, Associated Press

DENVER (AP) — A former radio disc jockey accused of groping Taylor Swift before a concert testified Tuesday that he may have touched the pop superstar's ribs with a closed hand as he tried to jump into a photo with her but insisted he did not touch her backside as she claims.

David Mueller told jurors at the civil trial on dueling lawsuits filed by Mueller and Swift that he and the singer-songwriter were trying to reach around one another and "our hands touched and our arms touched" during a photo opportunity he estimated lasted no more than 40 seconds.

Under questioning by his attorney, Mueller said he may have touched Swift's "rib cage, or rib, or ribs."

The 2013 photo of Swift, Mueller and Mueller's girlfriend taken at the pre-concert event in Denver is a key piece of evidence in Mueller's suit claiming he was fired after being falsely accused by Swift. He is seeking at least $3 million.

The photo shows Mueller with his hand behind Swift, just below her waist. Both are smiling.

Her lawyers have called the photo "damning" proof that Mueller groped her.

Mueller's lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, showed jurors the photograph during his opening remarks. Two jurors stared at the photo on their computer monitors while a few others kept glancing at it as McFarland spoke.

"If you look at that photograph, his hand is not underneath Miss Swift's skirt, and her skirt is not rumpled in any fashion," McFarland said, noting that no one on Swift's concert team saw anything amiss.

Mueller also testified that one of his station bosses, Hershel Coomer, told him that he had met Swift earlier before the show and that "he told me that he had his hands on her butt."

Mueller said, "I thought he was just telling me one of his stories."

Under cross-examination, Mueller couldn't explain why he didn't tell a boss investigating the incident about the exchange with Coomer.

Swift has said she is positive it was Mueller who groped her.

Swift has countersued Mueller, claiming sexual assault. She is seeking a symbolic $1, saying she wants to serve as an example to other women who have been assaulted.

Proceedings ended for the day Tuesday and were set to resume Wednesday.

In his opening statement, Douglas Baldridge, an attorney for Swift, told jurors that his superstar client is "absolutely certain" she was sexually assaulted and will prove it in court.

Baldridge also asked what possible reason Swift would have to make up an allegation.

"That's the one and only story we have to tell you — that Mr. Mueller grabbed her rear end," he said.

Mueller's attorney told jurors that inappropriate touching is wrong, but falsely accusing someone of the offense is equally unacceptable.

Mueller, wearing a smoke gray jacket and a white shirt, sat in court with his back to Swift and her mother, Andrea Swift.

Taylor Swift had her hair in a bun and wore a conservative black dress with tights. She is expected to testify later in the trial.

Mueller testified that he wants to clear his name and recover earnings he lost after being fired. He said he hasn't been able to get a job in radio since the incident.

"It's a humiliating experience to be accused of something that despicable," he testified.

Baldridge repeatedly interrupted Mueller during an aggressive cross-examination and noted that Mueller has said he lost an audio recording of a meeting he had with his bosses before they fired him.

"We'll never know what's on it, will we?" Baldridge asked.

"No, we won't," Mueller responded. "They're gone."

Baldridge repeatedly asked Mueller if he could grasp "any reason, incentive or motive for Miss Swift" to make up the allegation or be involved in 2 years of litigation.

"I cannot," Mueller replied.

Baldridge did get Mueller to concede that various supervisors with KYGO and its parent firm had discussed the possibility of letting him go even before the encounter with Swift.

Associated Press writer P. Solomon Banda contributed to this report.


Glen Campbell, 'Rhinestone Cowboy' singer, dies at age 81

In this July 27, 2011 photo, musician Glen Campbell poses for a portrait in Malibu, California.(AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

By Kristein M. Hall, Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Glen Campbell, the affable superstar singer of "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Wichita Lineman" whose appeal spanned country, pop, television and movies, died Tuesday, his family said. He was 81.

Campbell's family said the singer died Tuesday morning in Nashville and publicist Sandy Brokaw confirmed the news. No cause was immediately given. Campbell announced in June 2011 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and that it was in its early stages at that time.

"Glen is one of the greatest voices there ever was in the business and he was one of the greatest musicians," said Dolly Parton in a video statement. "He was a wonderful session musician as well. A lot of people don't realize that. But he could play anything and he could play it really well."

Tributes poured in on social media. "Thank you Glen Campbell for sharing your talent with us for so many years May you rest in peace my friend You will never be forgotten," wrote Charlie Daniels. One of Campbell's daughters, Ashley, said she was heartbroken. "I owe him everything I am, and everything I ever will be. He will be remembered so well and with so much love," she wrote on Twitter.

"You were a shining light in so many ways," Brad Paisley tweeted.

In the late 1960s and well into the '70s, the Arkansas native was seemingly everywhere with his boyish face, wavy hair and friendly tenor. He won five Grammys, sold more than 45 million records, had 12 gold albums and 75 chart hits, including No. 1 songs with "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Southern Nights."

His performance of the title song from the 1969 film "True Grit," in which he played a Texas Ranger alongside Oscar winner John Wayne, received an Academy Award nomination. He twice won album of the year awards from the Academy of Country Music and was voted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Seven years later, he received a Grammy for lifetime achievement.

His last record was "Adios," released in June, featured songs that Campbell loved to sing but never recorded, including tunes made famous by Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt and Johnny Cash. Ashley Campbell, also a musician, made a quest appearance and said making the album was "therapeutic."

Campbell was among a wave of country crossover stars that included Johnny Cash, Roy Clark and Kenny Rogers, and like many of his contemporaries, he enjoyed success on television. Campbell had a weekly audience of some 50 million people for the "Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour," on CBS from 1969 to 1972. He gained new fans decades later when the show, featuring his cheerful greeting "Hi I'm Glen Campbell," was rerun on cable channel CMT.

"I did what my Dad told me to do — 'Be nice, son, and don't cuss. And be nice to people.' And that's the way I handled myself, and people were very, very nice to me," Campbell told The Telegraph in 2011.

He released more than 70 of his own albums, and in the 1990s recorded a series of gospel CDs. A 2011 farewell album, "Ghost On the Canvas," included contributions from Jacob Dylan, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins.

The documentary "Glen Campbell ... I'll Be Me" came out in 2014. The film about Campbell's 2011-12 farewell tour offers a poignant look at his decline from Alzheimer's while showcasing his virtuoso guitar chops that somehow continued to shine as his mind unraveled. The song "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" won a Grammy for best country song in 2015 and was nominated for an Oscar for best original song.

Campbell's musical career dated back to the early years of rock 'n roll. He toured with the Champs of "Tequila" fame when the group included two singers who formed the popular '70s duo Seals & Crofts. He was part of the house band for the ABC TV show "Shindig!" and a member of Phil Spector's "Wrecking Crew" studio band that played on hits by the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers and the Crystals. He played guitar on Frank Sinatra's "Strangers In the Night," the Monkees' "I'm a Believer" and Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas."

"We'd get the rock 'n' roll guys and play all that, then we'd get Sinatra and Dean Martin," Campbell told The Associated Press in 2011. "That was a kick. I really enjoyed that. I didn't want to go nowhere. I was making more money than I ever made just doing studio work."

A sharecropper's son who was one of 12 children, he was born outside of Delight, Arkansas, and grew up revering country music stars such as Hank Williams.

"I'm not a country singer per se," Campbell once said. "I'm a country boy who sings."

He was just 4 when he learned to play guitar. As a teenager, anxious to escape a life of farm work and unpaid bills, he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to join his uncle's band and appear on his uncle's radio show. By his early 20s, he had formed his own group, the Western Wranglers, and moved to Los Angeles. He opened for the Doors and sang and played bass with the Beach Boys as a replacement for Brian Wilson, who in the mid-'60s had retired from touring to concentrate on studio work. In 1966, Campbell played on the Beach Boys' classic "Pet Sounds" album.

"I didn't go to Nashville because Nashville at that time seemed one-dimensional to me," Campbell told the AP. "I'm a jazzer. I just love to get the guitar and play the hell out of it if I can."

By the late '60s, he was a performer on his own, an appearance on Joey Bishop's show leading to his TV breakthrough. Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers saw the program and asked Campbell if he'd like to host a summertime series, "The Summer Brothers Smothers Show." Campbell shied from the Smothers Brothers' political humor, but still accepted the offer. He was out of the country when the first episode aired.

"The whole lid just blew off," Campbell told the AP. "I had never had anything like that happen to me. I got more phone calls. It was awesome. For the first couple of days I was like how do they know me? I didn't realize the power of television."

His guests included country acts, but also the Monkees, Lucille Ball, Cream, Neil Diamond and Ella Fitzgerald.

He was married four times and had eight children. As he would confide in painful detail, Campbell suffered for his fame and made others suffer as well. He drank heavily, used drugs and indulged in a turbulent relationship with country singer Tanya Tucker in the early 1980s.

He is survived by his wife, Kim; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; and his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane and Dillon. He had 10 grandchildren.

In late 2003, he was arrested near his home in Phoenix after causing a minor traffic accident. He later pleaded guilty to "extreme" DUI and leaving the scene of an accident and served a 10-day sentence.

Among Campbell's own hits, "Rhinestone Cowboy" stood out and became his personal anthem. Written and recorded by Larry Weiss in 1974, "Rhinestone Cowboy" received little attention until Campbell heard it on the radio and quickly related to the story of a veteran performer who triumphs over despair and hardship. Campbell's version was a chart topper in 1975.

"I thought it was my autobiography set to song," he wrote 20 years later, in his autobiography, titled "Rhinestone Cowboy."


Today in History - Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, Aug. 9, the 221st day of 2017. There are 144 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 9, 1945, three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, a U.S. B-29 Superfortress code-named Bockscar dropped a nuclear device ("Fat Man") over Nagasaki, killing an estimated 74,000 people.

On this date:

In 1854, Henry David Thoreau's "Walden," which described Thoreau's experiences while living near Walden Pond in Massachusetts, was first published.

In 1902, Edward VII was crowned king of Britain following the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.

In 1936, Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal at the Berlin Olympics as the United States took first place in the 400-meter relay.

In 1942, British authorities in India arrested nationalist Mohandas K. Gandhi; he was released in 1944.

In 1967, Ethel Le Neve, the mistress of notorious convicted wife killer Hawley Harvey Crippen, died in Croydon, England, at age 84.

In 1969, actress Sharon Tate and four other people were found brutally slain at Tate's Los Angeles home; cult leader Charles Manson and a group of his followers were later convicted of the crime.

In 1974, Vice President Gerald R. Ford became the nation's 38th chief executive as President Richard Nixon's resignation took effect.

In 1982, a federal judge in Washington ordered John W. Hinckley Jr., who'd been acquitted of shooting President Ronald Reagan and three others by reason of insanity, committed to a mental hospital.

In 1992, closing ceremonies were held for the Barcelona Summer Olympics, with the Unified Team of former Soviet republics winning 112 medals, the United States 108.

In 1997, Haitian immigrant Abner Louima was brutalized in a Brooklyn, New York, stationhouse by Officer Justin Volpe, who raped him with a broken broomstick. (Volpe was later sentenced to 30 years in prison.) An Amtrak train with more than 300 people aboard derailed on a bridge near Kingman, Arizona; 183 people were injured.

In 2002, Oscar-winning actor and National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston, 78, revealed that doctors had told him he had symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease (Heston died in April 2008). Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants hit his 600th homer, becoming the fourth major leaguer to reach the mark (the Pittsburgh Pirates won the game, 4-3.)

In 2014, Michael Brown Jr., an unarmed 18-year-old black man, was shot to death by a police officer following an altercation in Ferguson, Missouri; Brown's death led to sometimes-violent protests in Ferguson and other U.S. cities.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush held a news conference in which he publicly prodded Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, his embattled war-on-terror partner, to hold free presidential elections, share intelligence and take "swift action" against terrorist leaders pinpointed in his country. China banned exports by two toy manufacturers whose products were subject to major recalls in the United States. David Beckham made his long-awaited Major League Soccer debut, entering in the 72nd minute of the Los Angeles Galaxy's 1-0 loss to D.C. United.

Five years ago: The United States began a landmark project to clean up dioxin left from Agent Orange at the site of a former U.S. air base in Danang in central Vietnam, 50 years after the defoliant was first sprayed by American planes on Vietnam's jungles to destroy enemy cover. At the London Games, Usain Bolt won the 200 meters in 19.32 seconds, making him the only man with two Olympic titles in that event. The U.S. women's soccer team won the gold medal, avenging one of its most painful defeats with a 2-1 victory over Japan. Actor Al Freeman Jr., 81, died in Washington, D.C. Mel Stuart, 83, an award-winning film documentarian who also directed "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," died in Los Angeles.

One year ago: Gunfire broke out during a demonstration in Ferguson, Missouri, on the second anniversary of Michael Brown's death, disrupting what had been a peaceful gathering but apparently wounding no one. House Speaker Paul Ryan defeated Paul Nehlen, a longshot Republican challenger praised by Donald Trump, in a Wisconsin congressional primary. At the Rio Games, Michael Phelps earned the 20th and 21st Olympic gold medals of his career as he won the 200-meter butterfly and anchored the United States to victory in the 4x200 freestyle relay. Katie Ledecky earned her second gold in Rio by winning the 200-meter freestyle. The U.S. women's gymnastics team won gold for a second consecutive Olympics.

Today's Birthdays: Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Cousy is 89. Actress Cynthia Harris is 83. Tennis Hall of Famer Rod Laver is 79. Jazz musician Jack DeJohnette is 75. Comedian-director David Steinberg is 75. Actor Sam Elliott is 73. Singer Barbara Mason is 70. Former MLB All-Star pitcher Bill Campbell is 69. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL player John Cappelletti is 65. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL player Doug Williams is 62. Actress Melanie Griffith is 60. Actress Amanda Bearse is 59. Rapper Kurtis Blow is 58. Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull is 53. TV host Hoda Kotb (HOH'-duh KAHT'-bee) is 53. Actor Pat Petersen is 51. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders is 50. Actress Gillian Anderson is 49. Actor Eric Bana is 49. Producer-director McG (aka Joseph McGinty Nichol) is 49. NHL player-turned-assistant coach Rod Brind'Amour is 47. TV anchor Chris Cuomo is 47. Actor Thomas Lennon is 47. Rock musician Arion Salazar is 47. Rapper Mack 10 is 46.

Actress Nikki Schieler Ziering is 46. Latin rock singer Juanes is 45. Actress Liz Vassey is 45. Actor Kevin McKidd is 44. Actress Rhona Mitra (ROH'-nuh MEE'-truh) is 42. Actor Texas Battle is 41. Actress Jessica Capshaw is 41. Actress Ashley Johnson is 34. Actress Anna Kendrick is 32.

Thought for Today: "The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything." — Edward John Phelps, American lawyer and diplomat (1822-1900).


Update August 8 , 2017

Philippine president on human rights: "Don't go there"

U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson, left, poses with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during the former's courtesy call at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

By Josh Lederman, Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte met Monday with America's top diplomat, where he voiced solidarity with the U.S. amid global concerns over North Korea's nuclear program and angrily dismissed media questions about human rights abuses by his government.

Duterte and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met in Manila at a regional Asia gathering. It was the highest-level interaction to date between a member of President Donald Trump's administration and Duterte, accused by human rights groups of flagrant abuses in his bloody war against illegal drugs.

If the two leaders discussed those or other U.S. concerns about Duterte's government, they didn't do so in public. Instead, the two focused on the alliance between the two countries and on the North Korea issue as reporters were allowed in briefly for the start of their meeting.

Entering an ornate, wood-paneled hall in the Philippine leader's palace, Tillerson was introduced to members of Duterte's Cabinet, shaking hands with each. Duterte welcomed the American and said he said he knew the U.S. was concerned about Pyongyang's missile program.

"You come at a time when I think the world is not so good, especially in the Korean Peninsula," Duterte said.
Earlier, as they shook hands, the two ignored a shouted question about whether they'd discuss human rights. And at a news conference after their meeting, Duterte bristled but didn't answer directly when asked whether human rights had come up.

"Human rights, son of a bitch," Duterte said, arguing he shouldn't be questioned about alleged violations given the challenges he's facing. "Policemen and soldiers have died on me. The war now in Marawi, what caused it but drugs? So human rights, don't go there."

But ahead of the meeting, Duterte's presidential spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said the topic would indeed come up, along with other pressing matters such as global terrorism threats, economic cooperation and security in Marawi, the city that has been under siege by pro-Islamic State group militants for more than two months.

"We also welcome the opportunity to address concerns such as human rights if and when raised," Abella said in a statement. "We have always included this issue in our discussions and engagements with foreign governments, particularly Western democracies."

The U.S., too, said ahead of the meeting that human rights would be among the topics on the agenda.

Human rights groups have questioned the Trump administration's willingness to engage with Duterte. But Tillerson argued there's no contradiction presented by the U.S. decision to help his country fight the militants, whose insurgency in the Philippines has stoked global fears about the Islamic State group exporting violence into Southeast Asia and beyond.

Nearly 700 people have died in the intense fighting, including 528 militants and 122 soldiers and policemen, since hundreds of black flag waving gunmen stormed into buildings and homes in the business district and outlying communities of mosque-studded Marawi, a center of Islamic faith in the southern third of the predominantly Roman Catholic nation.

"I see no conflict — no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of the human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counter narcotics activities," Tillerson told reporters before the meeting. He added that it appeared the Philippines was "beginning to get that situation under control."
To that end, Tillerson said the U.S. has been providing the Philippines with surveillance capabilities, training, information and aircraft to help it fight the militants. He said the equipment includes a few Cessna aircraft and a few drones.

"The real challenge is going to come with once they have the fighting brought to an end how to deal with the conditions on the ground to ensure it does not re-emerge."

Associated Press writer Jim Gomez contributed to this report.


Australian official says gay marriage could be law this year

From left, marriage equality advocates Alex Greenwich, Anna Brown and Teirnan Brady address the media at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/ Rod McGuirk)

By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's Parliament could legalize gay marriage this year if the government was allowed to poll the public on their opinions, a senior minister said on Tuesday.

The conservative Liberal Party-led coalition was narrowly re-elected in July 2016 with a promise to let voters decide whether Australia should recognize same-sex marriage through a popular vote. But the Senate in November blocked the so-called plebiscite, which would have cost 160 million Australian dollars ($127 million) and promoted a divisive public debate.

The Liberal Party held a crisis meeting late Monday to resolve in-fighting and rejected a push to allow lawmakers to decide the issue now.

The party decided to ask the Senate this week to reconsider allowing the plebiscite, which the government now estimates would cost AU$170 million. Voting on the plebiscite would be compulsory and failure to vote would be punishable by a fine.

The result would not be legally binding and some lawmakers have already declared it would not sway their vote on gay marriage legislation.

If the Senate again blocks the plebiscite, the party proposes a voluntary postal plebiscite in which voters mail in their opinions instead of using ballot boxes as a cheaper option that would not need the Senate to approve the expense. Responses would be voluntary and therefore less indicative of public opinion.

Opponents argue that the postal plebiscite would also need Senate approval and have threatened a court challenge if it proceeds.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, the government's deputy Senate leader and an opponent of same-sex marriage, said on Tuesday some type of plebiscite was essential if Parliament was to decide the marriage equality question. Parliament would only get to decide the issue if the plebiscite found most Australians supported gay marriage.

"The truth is that there is a diversity of strongly and sincerely held views on both sides of the argument in our community and that is reflected in our party room," Cormann told reporters.

"The government has a timetable that would facilitate resolution of this issue by the end of the year, but ultimately there are some factors that are outside of the government's control," he added, referring to the hostile Senate.

Sen. Nick Xenophon, whose minor party opposed the plebiscite in the November vote, said gay marriage would become an election issue if the plebiscite was blocked by the Senate or courts.

"This is something that ought not to be put to a plebiscite, this is something that parliamentarians are paid for to decide and our position hasn't changed," Xenophon told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Anti-gay marriage advocates support the plebiscite, despite opinion polls showing that most Australians agree with marriage equality. Gay-rights advocates are concerned that referendums rarely change the status quo in Australia.

Lyle Shelton, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, said his advocacy group had collected 55,000 signatures on a petition demanding a plebiscite.

Sheldon handed the petition to Sen. Cory Bernardi, leader of the minor Australian Conservatives party, to present to the Senate. Bernardi has said he would vote against gay marriage regardless of what the plebiscite found.

Sheldon was concerned that renegade Liberal Sen. Dean Smith had proposed a bill this week that allowed people who did not identify as either a man or woman to marry.

Sheldon said that furthered a gay agenda "queer theory" that gender was fluid. Marriage equality would also cast doubt on whether religious schools could teach children that marriage was exclusively between a man and a woman, Sheldon said.

"This is not just about loving couples, if that was all that it was about, well, probably none of us would have too much concern," Sheldon said.


UN chief supports UN commission on Syria despite resignation

In this Wednesday, March 1, 2017 file photo, Carla del Ponte, Member of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, attends a press conference, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP, File)

By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres supports the work of the U.N.'s independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria in gathering evidence of alleged crimes against civilians during the 6ฝ-year civil war and regrets the resignation of Carla del Ponte, the U.N. said Monday.

Del Ponte announced she was resigning from the commission in frustration at the Security Council's inaction to hold criminals accountable in war-battered Syria where she said "everyone is bad." In comments published Sunday by the Swiss magazine Blick, she criticized President Bashar Assad's government, his opponents and the international community.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the secretary-general considers accountability "critical" and "supports the continued work of the commission as an important and integral part of the accountability process."

As for del Ponte, he said Guterres "is grateful for her service and her contribution to the important work of the commission, also as a tireless advocate for the cause of accountability throughout her career."

Del Ponte, who gained fame as the prosecutor for the international tribunals that investigated atrocities in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, has repeatedly decried the Security Council's refusal to appoint a similar court for the Syrian conflict.

Permanent members Russia, a key backer of Assad's government, and ally China vetoed a U.N. resolution in May 2014 to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, the world's permanent war crimes tribunal.

"Believe me, the terrible crimes committed in Syria I neither saw in Rwanda nor ex-Yugoslavia," del Ponte told Blick. "We thought the international community had learned from Rwanda. But no, it learned nothing."

"I give up. The states in the Security Council don't want justice," Del Ponte said. "I can't any longer be part of this commission which simply doesn't do anything."

The commission was set up in August 2011 by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to investigate crimes in Syria, no matter who committed them. Since then, it has compiled thousands of interviews and keeps a list of suspected war criminals under lock and key at the offices of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

Del Pointe, who was appointed to the commission in September 2012, said she will take part in the commission's September meeting, her last.

The commission issued a statement saying it was aware since mid-June of del Ponte's plans to leave and insisted that its work "must continue" to help bring perpetrators in Syria to justice.

Del Ponte's resignation shrinks the commission to two members — chair Paulo Sergio Pinheiro and Karen AbuZayd.

Dujarric said "the commission will continue its work" and questions about a replacement for del Ponte should go to the Human Rights Council and the remaining commission members.

He stressed that accountability takes time.

"Information needs to be gathered in a way that will stand up wherever and whatever circumstances people will have to face justice," Dujarric said. "It's something we can understand is deeply frustrating to the victims first and foremost."

With Security Council action blocked, the U.N. General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, voted last December to establish an investigative body that will assist in documenting and prosecuting the most serious violations of international law in Syria, including possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Dujarric noted that the new head of this body, French judge Catherine Marchi-Uhel, who was the ombudsperson considering appeals by individuals and entities subject to U.N. sanctions for links to al-Qaida and the Islamic State extremist group, starts work on Tuesday.

"It is no secret to anyone that the deadlock in the Security Council, I think, has been a source of frustration not only for the secretary-general but for others inside the U.N.," Dujarric said. "There's no getting around the Security Council, and I think we have repeatedly called for greater unity of purpose from Security Council members on the issue of Syria."


Hackers demand millions in ransom for stolen HBO data

This image released by HBO shows Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in an episode of "Game of Thrones," which aired Sunday, Aug. 6.(Macall B. Polay/HBO via AP)

By Tali Arbel, Frank Bajak, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Hackers using the name "Mr. Smith" posted a fresh cache of stolen HBO files online Monday, and demanded that HBO pay a ransom of several million dollars to prevent further such releases.

The data dump included what appear to be scripts from five "Game of Thrones" episodes, including one upcoming episode, and a month's worth of email from the account of Leslie Cohen, HBO's vice president for film programming.

There were also internal documents, including a report of legal claims against the network and job offer letters to top executives.

HBO, which previously acknowledged the theft of "proprietary information," said it's continuing to investigate and is working with police and cybersecurity experts. The network said Monday that it still doesn't believe that its email system as a whole has been compromised.

This is the second data dump from the purported hacker. So far the HBO leaks have been limited, falling well short of the chaos inflicted on Sony in 2014. In that attack, hackers unearthed thousands of embarrassing emails and released personal information, including salaries and social security numbers, of nearly 50,000 current and former Sony employees.

Those behind the HBO hack claim to have more data, including scripts, upcoming episodes of HBO shows and movies, and information damaging to HBO.

In a video directed to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, "Mr. Smith" used white text on a black background to threaten further disclosures if HBO doesn't pay up. To stop the leaks, the purported hackers demanded "our 6 month salary in bitcoin," which they implied is at least $6 million.


Today in History - Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017

 The Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, Aug. 8, the 220th day of 2017. There are 145 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 8, 1974, President Richard Nixon, facing damaging new revelations in the Watergate scandal, announced he would resign the following day.

On this date:

In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte set sail for St. Helena to spend the remainder of his days in exile.

In 1911, President William Howard Taft signed a measure raising the number of U.S. representatives from 391 to 433, effective with the next Congress, with a proviso to add two more when New Mexico and Arizona became states.

In 1937, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan completed its occupation of Beijing.

In 1942, during World War II, six Nazi saboteurs who were captured after landing in the U.S. were executed in Washington, D.C.; two others who cooperated with authorities were spared.

In 1945, President Harry S. Truman signed the U.S. instrument of ratification for the United Nations Charter. The Soviet Union declared war against Japan during World War II.

In 1953, the United States and South Korea initialed a mutual security pact.

In 1963, Britain's "Great Train Robbery" took place as thieves made off with 2.6 million pounds in banknotes.

In 1968, the Republican national convention in Miami Beach nominated Richard Nixon for president on the first ballot.

In 1973, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew branded as "damned lies" reports he had taken kickbacks from government contracts in Maryland, and vowed not to resign — which he ended up doing.

In 1992, AIDS activist Alison Gertz died in Westhampton Beach, Long Island, New York, at age 26.

In 1994, Israel and Jordan opened the first road link between the two once-warring countries.

In 2009, Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in as the U.S. Supreme Court's first Hispanic and third female justice.

Ten years ago: Space shuttle Endeavour roared into orbit with teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan on board. Screenwriter-director Mel Shavelson died in Studio City, California, at age 90.

Five years ago: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi fired his intelligence chief for failing to act on an Israeli warning of an imminent attack days before militants stormed a border post in the Sinai Peninsula and killed 16 soldiers. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States became the first three-time gold medalists in Olympic beach volleyball history, beating Jennifer Kessy and April Ross 21-16, 21-16 in the all-American final.

One year ago: A fire and power outage at a Delta Air Lines data center in Atlanta resulted in the cancellation of 2,300 flights over a four-day period. Japan's 82-year-old emperor, Akihito, expressed concern about fulfilling his duties in a public address that was remarkable for its rarity and its suggestion that he would like to abdicate. At the Rio Olympics, Ryan Murphy gave the Americans their sixth straight gold medal in the men's 100-meter backstroke, winning with a time of 51.97 seconds; Lilly King of the United States has won gold in the women's 100-meter breaststroke in 1 minute, 4.93 seconds.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Richard Anderson is 91. Actress Nita Talbot is 87. Singer Mel Tillis is 85. Actor Dustin Hoffman is 80. Actress Connie Stevens is 79. Country singer Phil Balsley (The Statler Brothers) is 78. Actor Larry Wilcox is 70. Actor Keith Carradine is 68. Movie director Martin Brest is 66. Radio-TV personality Robin Quivers is 65. Percussionist Anton Fig is 64. Actor Donny Most is 64. Rock musician Dennis Drew (10,000 Maniacs) is 60. TV personality Deborah Norville is 59. Actor-singer Harry Crosby is 59. Rock musician The Edge (U2) is 56. Rock musician Rikki Rockett (Poison) is 56. Rapper Kool Moe Dee is 55. Rock musician Ralph Rieckermann is 55. Middle distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton is 49. Rock singer Scott Stapp is 44. Country singer Mark Wills is 44. Actor Kohl Sudduth is 43. Rock musician Tom Linton (Jimmy Eat World) is 42. Singer JC Chasez ('N Sync) is 41. Actress Tawny Cypress is 41. Rhythm-and-blues singer Drew Lachey (lah-SHAY') (98 Degrees) is 41. Rhythm-and-blues singer Marsha Ambrosius is 40. Actress Lindsay Sloane is 40. Actress Countess Vaughn is 39. Actor Michael Urie is 37. Tennis player Roger Federer is 36. Actress Meagan Good is 36. Actress Jackie Cruz (TV: "Orange is the New Black") is 33. Britain's Princess Beatrice of York is 29. Actor Ken Baumann is 28. Pop singer Shawn Mendes is 19. Actress Bebe Wood (TV: "The Real O'Neals") is 16.

Thought for Today: "The time to relax is when you don't have time for it." — Sydney J. Harris, American journalist (1917-1986).


Update August 7 , 2017

Eiffel Tower suspect says he was in touch with IS member

In this Friday, June 10, 2016 file photo, French riot police officers patrol under the Eiffel Tower, in Paris. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, File)

By Angela Charlton, Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — A young French man who recently was discharged from a psychiatric hospital is under investigation for an attempted terrorist attack after he brandished a knife and tried to breach security at the Eiffel Tower, authorities said Sunday.

No one was hurt in the incident late Saturday, though the tower was briefly evacuated, according to a statement from the company that manages the monument. The tower reopened as usual Sunday morning.

It is the latest of several attempted attacks on security forces guarding prominent sites in France as part of heightened protective measures prompted by deadly attacks since 2015. Monuments in the French capital are occasionally evacuated for security reasons as part of those measures.

In Saturday's incident, the suspect tried to force his way into the secure zone beneath the tower, held out a knife and said "Allahu akbar," the Arabic phrase for "God is great," an official close to the investigation said. He quickly was surrounded by security forces and surrendered, the official said. A Paris police official said no shots were fired. Both officials weren't authorized to be publicly named.

The suspect later told police that he had wanted to attack a soldier and had been in touch with a member of the Islamic State group who encouraged him to do so, according to the official close to the investigation.

The official said the claim prompted investigators to upgrade the seriousness of the alleged offense, which originally they classified as a common crime by someone with a history of psychiatric problems. As a result, the probe has been handed to counterterrorism prosecutors.

The man is now under investigation for involvement in a terrorist enterprise and an attempted terrorism-related attack on security forces.

The suspect was born in Mauritania in 1998, but has French citizenship, the official said. His name wasn't released.

The Eiffel Tower was lit up on Saturday night in the colors of the Paris-Saint Germain soccer club and with lights welcoming star Brazilian striker Neymar to the team.
 


Fire strikes another tower in the Dubai Marina

Emirati authorities close down the road in front of the Tiger Tower after a fire broke out on the building's 53rd floor in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017.(AP Photo/Basel Radwan)

By Adam Schreck, Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A fire broke out Sunday at another high-rise tower in the Dubai Marina, just days after a blaze struck one of the world's tallest residential towers in the same neighborhood.

Authorities quickly extinguished Sunday's fire at the Tiger Tower and said it injured no one. But it rattled nerves after Friday's fast-burning inferno at the Torch Tower, which is across the street.

The fire Sunday began on clothes left on a balcony on the tower's 53rd floor, said Capt. Amer Abdulwahab al-Qahtani of the Dubai Civil Defense. He said investigators believe either an improperly disposed cigarette or combustion caused by the late morning heat, which was a sunny 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit), ignited the blaze.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, al-Qahtani said. The Dubai Media Office, a government agency, said the "minor fire" caused no injuries.

Early on Friday, an intense fire raged in the 86-story Torch Tower nearby. It was the second time in 2 ฝ years that the more than 1,100-foot-tall (335 meters) tower has been ravaged by fire. The Torch, located in Dubai's popular waterfront Marina district, also caught fire in February 2015. There were no major casualties reported in either blaze.

The Abu Dhabi-based state-linked daily The National reported Sunday that residents of the Torch tower were informed in June that authorities had approved repairs to damage caused by the first fire, and that the building's insurer was processing the claim.

No work appears to have been done so far to replace any of the building's exterior cladding. The tower's developer and management company have not responded to queries into whether the siding was replaced.

Dubai passed new fire safety rules earlier this year requiring buildings with quick-burning side paneling to replace it with more fire-resistant cladding. Authorities have previously acknowledged that at least 30,000 buildings across the UAE have cladding or paneling that safety experts have said accelerates the rapid spread of fires.

Associated Press writer Malak Harb contributed to this report.


Rolling Stones guitarist feared the worst with cancer call

 

In this file photo dated Friday March 25, 2016, Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood performs during a Rolling Stones concert in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Enric Marti, FILE)

LONDON (AP) — Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood has revealed that he feared the worst after being diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year.

The 70-year-old guitarist says he thought it might be "time to say goodbye," after a doctor performing routine tests offered the news that he "had this supernova burning away on my left lung." The musician says he just told the doctor to get it out of him.

Wood told The Mail on Sunday that he had decided not to have chemotherapy if results turned out to be bad. He says he decided, "I wasn't going to lose my hair. This hair wasn't going anywhere."

He thanked doctors in May for treating a small lesion in his lung and will undergo checks every three months.


'Dark Tower' tops slow weekend, 'Detroit' disappoints

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Idris Elba, left, and Matthew McConaughey in the Columbia Pictures film, "The Dark Tower." (Ilze Kitshoff/Columbia Pictures/Sony via AP)

By JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — After a decade of development and several postponements, the long-awaited Stephen King adaptation "The Dark Tower" debuted with an estimated $19.5 million in North American ticket sales, narrowly edging out the two-week leader "Dunkirk."

The modest result for "The Dark Tower," starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, was in line with expectations heading into the weekend but well shy of initial hopes for a possible franchise-starter.

J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard are among the directors who previously tried to tackle King's magnum opus, a seven-book series that melds sci-fi with horror and other genres.

But the long battle to make "The Dark Tower" ended with poor reviews and few fireworks. Still, the movie was made for a relatively modest amount: about $60 million, or half of what many other summer movies cost. Sony Pictures also split costs with Media Rights Capital.

"It was always an ambitions and bold undertaking but it was made at the right price," said Adrian Smith, president of domestic distribution for Sony Pictures.

By comparison, the recent flop "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," which opened with $17 million, cost at least $180 million to make.

Christopher Nolan's World War II epic "Dunkirk" slid to second with $17.6 million in its third week. It's now made $133.6 million domestically. Other holdovers — "The Emoji Movie" ($12.4 million in its second week) and "Girls Trip" ($11.4 million in its third week) followed.

Another long-delayed film also made its debut. The Halle Berry thriller "Kidnap" opened with $10.2 million. The film, styled after the Liam Neeson "Taken" series," was released by the new distributor Aviron Pictures after it bought the North American rights from Relativity. Before entering bankruptcy, Relativity had scheduled the film's release for 2015.

But "Kidnap" still outperformed the week's other new wide release, the far more anticipated "Detroit." The Kathryn Bigelow-directed docudrama is also the first release for an upstart distributor.

The first film distributed by Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures, "Detroit" debuted with a disappointing $7.3 million after a limited release last week. As a producer, Ellison, the Oracle heiress, has been behind some of the most acclaimed films in recent years, including "Foxcatcher" and "American Hustle."

"Detroit," the third collaboration between Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal ("The Hurt Locker," ''Zero Dark Thirty"), reimagines the terror-filled events around the Algiers Motel incident during the 1967 Detroit riots.

"We wish more people had showed up this weekend but we are really, really proud of the movie," said Erik Lomis, Annapurna's distribution chief. "The movie got an A-minus CinemaScore and the reviews have been spectacular."

Though hard-hitting, auteur-driven films are typically fall material, Annapurna timed the release of "Detroit" to the 50th anniversary of the riots. Lomis said the intention was to bring the film to as broad an audience as possible.
"We believe that smart audiences actually want and will see great movies all year round," he said.

In limited release, Taylor Sheridan's Indian reservation thriller "Wind River," starring Jeremy Renner, debuted with a strong per-screen average of $13,053 in four theaters. The Weinstein Co. release was written and directed by Sheridan, the screenwriter behind the Oscar-nominated "Hell or High Water."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "The Dark Tower," $19.5 million ($8 million international).
2. "Dunkirk," $17.6 million ($25 million international).
3. "The Emoji Movie," $12.4 million ($12 million international).
4. "Girls Trip," $11.4 million ($1.7 million international).
5. "Kidnap," $10.2 million.
6. "Spider-Man: Homecoming," $8.8 million ($9.6 million international).
7. "Atomic Blonde," $8.2 million ($5 million international).
8. "Detroit," $7.3 million.
9. "War for the Planet of the Apes," $6 million ($31.5 million international).
10. "Despicable Me 3," $5.3 million ($21.2 million international).
___
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:
1. "Wolf Warrior 2," $163 million.
2. "Once Upon a Time," $38 million.
3. "War for the Planet of the Apes," $31.5 million.
4. "A Taxi Driver," $25.2 million.
5. "Dunkirk," $25 million.
6. "Despicable Me 3," $21.2 million.
7. "The Emoji Movie," $12 million.
8. "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," $11 million.
9. "Spider-Man: Homecoming," $9.6 million.
10. "Cars 3," $9.6 million.
___
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP


Today in History - Monday, Aug. 7, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Monday, Aug. 7, the 219th day of 2017. There are 146 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 7, 1942, U.S. and other allied forces landed at Guadalcanal, marking the start of the first major allied offensive in the Pacific during World War II. (Japanese forces abandoned the island the following February.)

On this date:

In 1782, Gen. George Washington created the Order of the Purple Heart, a decoration to recognize merit in enlisted men and noncommissioned officers.

In 1789, the U.S. Department of War was established by Congress.

In 1882, the famous feud between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky erupted into full-scale violence.

In 1927, the already opened Peace Bridge connecting Buffalo, New York, and Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, was officially dedicated.

In 1947, the balsa wood raft Kon-Tiki, which carried a six-man crew 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean, crashed into a reef in a Polynesian archipelago; all six crew members reached land safely.

In 1957, Oliver Hardy (the heavier half of the Laurel and Hardy comedy team) died in North Hollywood, California, at age 65.

In 1959, the United States launched the Explorer 6 satellite, which sent back images of Earth.

In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, giving President Lyndon B. Johnson broad powers in dealing with reported North Vietnamese attacks on U.S. forces.

In 1974, French stuntman Philippe Petit (fee-LEEP' peh-TEET') repeatedly walked a tightrope strung between the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center.

In 1989, a plane carrying U.S. Rep. Mickey Leland, D-Texas, and 14 others disappeared over Ethiopia. (The wreckage of the plane was found six days later; there were no survivors.)

In 1998, terrorist bombs at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

In 2010, Elena Kagan was sworn in as the 112th justice and fourth woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ten years ago: San Francisco's Barry Bonds hit home run No. 756 to break Hank Aaron's storied record with one out in the fifth inning of a game against the Washington Nationals, who ended up winning, 8-6.

Five years ago: Jared Lee Loughner agreed to spend the rest of his life in prison, accepting that he went on a deadly shooting rampage at an Arizona political gathering in 2011 and sparing the victims a lengthy, possibly traumatic death-penalty trial. Syrian President Bashar Assad made his first appearance on state TV in nearly three weeks. Aly Raisman became the first U.S. woman to win Olympic gold on floor, and picked up a bronze on balance beam on the final day of the gymnastics competition at the London Games. Movie critic Judith Crist, 90, died in New York.

One year ago: An accident on a 17-story waterslide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas, claimed the life of a 10-year-old boy. Jim Furyk became the first golfer to shoot a 58 in PGA Tour history during the Travelers Championship in Connecticut with a 12-under 58 in the final round. (Furyk finished tied for fifth at 11 under, three strokes behind winner Russell Knox.) Ichiro Suzuki tripled off the wall for his 3,000th hit in the major leagues, becoming the 30th player to reach the milestone as the Miami Marlins beat the Colorado Rockies 10-7. At the Rio Games, British swimmer Adam Peaty cruised to victory in the 100-meter breaststroke with a world record time of 57.13 seconds. Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom also turned in a world-record performance in the 100 butterfly, touching in 55.48. Katie Ledecky of the U.S. crushed her own world record in the 400 freestyle with a time of 3:56.46.

Today's Birthdays: Magician, author and lecturer James Randi is 89. Former MLB pitcher Don Larsen is 88. Actress Verna Bloom is 79. Humorist Garrison Keillor is 75. Singer B.J. Thomas is 75. Singer Lana Cantrell is 74. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is 73. Actor John Glover is 73. Actor David Rasche is 73. Former diplomat, talk show host and activist Alan Keyes is 67. Country singer Rodney Crowell is 67. Actress Caroline Aaron is 65. Comedian Alexei Sayle is 65. Actor Wayne Knight is 62. Rock singer Bruce Dickinson is 59. Marathon runner Alberto Salazar is 59. Actor David Duchovny is 57. Country musician Michael Mahler (Wild Horses) is 56. Actress Delane Matthews is 56. Actor Harold Perrineau is 54. Jazz musician Marcus Roberts is 54. Country singer Raul Malo is 52. Actor David Mann is 51. Actress Charlotte Lewis is 50. Actress Sydney Penny is 46. Actor Michael Shannon is 43. Actress Charlize Theron (shahr-LEES' THAYR'-ehn) is 42. Rock musician Barry Kerch (Shinedown) is 41. Actor Eric Johnson is 38.

Actor Randy Wayne is 36. Actor-writer Brit Marling is 35. Actor Liam James is 21.

Thought for Today: "Happiness, it seems to me, consists of two things: first, in being where you belong, and second — and best — in comfortably going through everyday life, that is, having had a good night's sleep and not being hurt by new shoes." — Theodor Fontane, German author (1819-1898).


Update August 5 - 6 , 2017

Today in History - Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, Aug. 6, the 218th day of 2017. There are 147 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 6, 1945, during World War II, the U.S. B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb code-named "Little Boy" on Hiroshima, Japan, resulting in an estimated 140,000 deaths. (Three days later, the United States exploded a nuclear device over Nagasaki; five days after that, Imperial Japan surrendered.)

On this date:

In 1813, during the Venezuelan War of Independence, forces led by Simon Bolivar recaptured Caracas.

In 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war against Russia and Serbia declared war against Germany.

In 1917, actor Robert Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In 1926, Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel, arriving in Kingsdown, England, from France in 14 1/2 hours. Warner Bros. premiered its Vitaphone sound-on-disc movie system in New York with a showing of "Don Juan" featuring synchronized music and sound effects.

In 1930, New York State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Force Crater went missing after leaving a Manhattan restaurant; his disappearance remains a mystery.

In 1942, Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands became the first reigning queen to address a joint session of Congress, telling lawmakers that despite Nazi occupation, her people's motto remained, "No surrender."

In 1956, the DuMont television network went off the air after a decade of operations.

In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov became the second man to orbit Earth as he flew aboard Vostok 2; his call sign, "Eagle," prompted his famous declaration: "I am Eagle!"

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.

In 1978, Pope Paul VI died at Castel Gandolfo at age 80.

In 1986, William J. Schroeder (SHRAY'-dur) died at at Humana Hospital-Audubon in Louisville, Kentucky, after living 620 days with the Jarvik 7 artificial heart.

In 1997, Korean Air Flight 801 crashed into a hillside a short distance from Guam International Airport, killing 228 of the 254 aboard the Boeing 747.

Ten years ago: The Crandall Canyon Mine in central Utah collapsed, trapping six coal miners. (All six miners died, along with three would-be rescuers.) President George W. Bush wrapped up two days of talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai (HAH'-mihd KAHR'-zeye) at Camp David. Baron Elie Robert de Rothschild, who helped France's Rothschild winemaking and banking dynasty recover from the ravages of World War II, died near Scharnitz, Austria, at age 90.

Five years ago: Syria's prime minister, Riad Hijab, defected two months after being forced into the position by President Bashar Assad. Marvin Hamlisch, 68, who composed or arranged the scores for dozens of movies including "The Sting" and the Broadway smash "A Chorus Line," died in Los Angeles. Art critic and historian Robert Hughes, 74, died in New York.

One year ago: The White House released a version of President Barack Obama's 3-year-old guidance on the use of lethal force against terrorists overseas, laying out what it said were safeguards to minimize civilian deaths and errant strikes while preserving the capability to take quick action with drone attacks and other means. A fire swept through a birthday party at a bar in the French city of Rouen, killing 14 people. At the Rio Olympics, Hungary's Katinka Hosszu stormed to a world-record victory in the women's 400 individual medley on the first evening of the swimming competition, finishing in a time of 4:26.36. Virginia Thrasher of the United States won the first gold medal of the Games in the women's 10-meter air rifle. Brett Favre, Tony Dungy (DUHN'-jee) and Marvin Harrison were among an eight-member class inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Clarinetist Pete Fountain, a Dixieland jazz virtuoso, died in New Orleans at age 86.

Today's Birthdays: Children's performer Ella Jenkins is 93. Actor-director Peter Bonerz is 79. Actress Louise Sorel is 77. Actor Michael Anderson Jr. is 74. Actor Ray Buktenica is 74. Actor Dorian Harewood is 67. Actress Catherine Hicks is 66. Rock singer Pat MacDonald (Timbuk 3) is 65. Country musician Mark DuFresne (Confederate Railroad) is 64. Actress Stepfanie Kramer is 61. Actress Faith Prince is 60. Rhythm-and-blues singer Randy DeBarge is 59. Actor Leland Orser is 57. Actress Michelle Yeoh (yoh) is 55. Country singers Patsy and Peggy Lynn are 53. Basketball Hall of Famer David Robinson is 52. Actor Jeremy Ratchford is 52. Actor Benito Martinez is 49. Country singer Lisa Stewart is 49. Movie writer-director M. Night Shyamalan (SHAH'-mah-lahn) is 47. Actress Merrin Dungey is 46. Singer Geri Halliwell Horner is 45. Actor Jason O'Mara is 45. Singer-actor David Campbell is 44. Actress Vera Farmiga is 44. Actress Ever (cq) Carradine is 43. Actress Soleil (soh-LAY') Moon Frye is 41. Actress Melissa George is 41. Rock singer Travis McCoy (Gym Class Heroes) is 36. Actor Leslie Odom Jr. is 36. Actress Romola Garai is 35. Rock musician Eric Roberts (Gym Class Heroes) is 33.

Thought for Today: "No man ever got very high by pulling other people down. The intelligent merchant does not knock his competitors. The sensible worker does not work those who work with him. Don't knock your friends. Don't knock your enemies. Don't knock yourself." — Alfred, Lord Tennyson, British poet (1809-1892).

 


Huff, puff, pass? AG's pot fury not echoed by task force

Attorney General Jeff Sessions attends a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (AP Andrew Harnik)

By Sadie Gurman, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP)
— The betting was that law-and-order Attorney General Jeff Sessions would come out against the legalized marijuana industry with guns blazing. But the task force Sessions assembled to find the best legal strategy is giving him no ammunition, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, a group of prosecutors and federal law enforcement officials, has come up with no new policy recommendations to advance the attorney general's aggressively anti-marijuana views. The group's report largely reiterates the current Justice Department policy on marijuana.

It encourages officials to keep studying whether to change or rescind the Obama administration's more hands-off approach to enforcement — a stance that has allowed the nation's experiment with legal pot to flourish. The report was not slated to be released publicly, but portions were obtained by the AP.

Sessions, who has assailed marijuana as comparable to heroin and blamed it for spikes in violence, has been promising to reconsider existing pot policy since he took office six months ago. His statements have sparked both support and worry across the political spectrum as a growing number of states have worked to legalize the drug.

Threats of a federal crackdown have united liberals, who object to the human costs of a war on pot, and some conservatives, who see it as a states' rights issue. Some advocates and members of Congress had feared the task force's recommendations would give Sessions the green light to begin dismantling what has become a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar pot industry that helps fund schools, educational programs and law enforcement.

But the tepid nature of the recommendations signals just how difficult it would be to change course on pot.

Some in law enforcement support a tougher approach, but a bipartisan group of senators in March urged Sessions to uphold existing marijuana policy. Others in Congress are seeking ways to protect and promote pot businesses.

The vague recommendations may be intentional, reflecting an understanding that shutting down the entire industry is neither palatable nor possible, said John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies marijuana law and was interviewed by members of the task force.

"If they come out with a more progressive, liberal policy, the attorney general is just going to reject it. They need to convince the attorney general that the recommendations are the best they can do without embarrassing the entire department by implementing a policy that fails," he said.

The task force suggestions are not final, and Sessions is in no way bound by them. The government still has plenty of ways it can punish weed-tolerant states, including raiding pot businesses and suing states where the drug is legal, a rare but quick path to compliance. The only one who could override a drastic move by Sessions is President Donald Trump, whose personal views on marijuana remain mostly unknown.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Rather than urging federal agents to shut down dispensaries and make mass arrests, the task force puts forth a more familiar approach.

Its report says officials should continue to oppose rules that block the Justice Department from interfering with medical marijuana programs in states where it is allowed. Sessions wrote to members of Congress in May asking them — unsuccessfully so far — to undo those protections. The Obama administration also unsuccessfully opposed those rules.
The report suggests teaming the Justice Department with Treasury officials to offer guidance to financial institutions, telling them to implement robust anti-money laundering programs and report suspicious transactions involving businesses in states where pot is legal. That is already required by federal law.

And it tells officials to develop "centralized guidance, tools and data related to marijuana enforcement," two years after the Government Accountability Office told the Justice Department it needs to better document how it's tracking the effect of marijuana legalization in the states.

Most critically, and without offering direction, it says officials "should evaluate whether to maintain, revise or rescind" a set of Obama-era memos that allowed states to legalize marijuana on the condition that officials act to keep it from migrating to places where it is still outlawed and out of the hands of criminal cartels and children. Any changes to the policy could impact the way pot-legal states operate.

The recommendations are not surprising because "there's as much evidence that Sessions intends to maintain the system and help improve upon it as there is that he intends to roll it back," said Mason Tvert, who ran Colorado's legalization campaign. He pointed to Sessions' comment during his Senate confirmation hearing that while he opposed legalization, he understood the scarcity of federal resources and "echoed" the position of his Democratic predecessors.

But in July, he sent letters to Colorado and Washington that stirred concern, asking how they would address reports they were not adequately regulating the drug.

It remains unclear how much weight Sessions might give the recommendations. He said he has been relying on them to enact policy in other areas. Apart from pot, the task force is studying a list of criminal justice issues. The overall report's executive summary says its work continues and its recommendations "do not comprehensively address every effort that the Department is planning or currently undertaking to reduce violent crime."


China sentences ex-provincial leader to life for corruption

Wang Min, the former Communist Party leader of Liaoning Province, appears in court in Luoyang in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese court sentenced the ex-Communist Party chief of a rust-belt province that had been hit by massive electoral fraud to life imprisonment for accepting bribes worth more than $22 million.

A court in the central city of Luoyang on Friday handed down the sentence to Wang Min, the former party leader of Liaoning province, after convicting him of bribery, corruption and negligence of duty, the official People's Daily newspaper said.

Wang was accused of accepted money and valuables worth more than 146 million yuan ($22 million) and abusing his power when he served as a senior official in Jilin and Liaoning provinces between 2004 and 2016, state media reported.
He was also found guilty of negligence that was "responsible for serious election fraud including vote buying."

Allegations of electoral fraud led to the removal of many of the Liaoning legislature's nearly 600 members in September last year. The legislature nominally oversees the province, though all key decisions are made by the ruling Communist Party.

President Xi Jinping has made fighting corruption a hallmark of his administration in an effort to bolster his legitimacy. In 2016 alone, prosecutions were reportedly launched against 48 officials at the provincial level and above.

In June, the former head of China's statistics bureau was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of taking bribes equivalent to more than $22 million over more than two decades.


Diplomat: $1 billion in NKorea exports would be banned by UN

In this July 28, 2017, file photo shows what was said to be the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea.(Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A proposed new U.N. sanctions resolution would significantly increase economic pressure on North Korea to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs by banning mineral and seafood exports worth over $1 billion — a third of its total exports last year, a Security Council diplomat said Friday.

The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, would also ban countries from giving any additional permits to North Korean laborers — another source of money for Kim Jong Un's regime. And it would prohibit all new joint ventures with North Korean companies, and ban new foreign investment in existing joint ventures.

Egypt, which holds the Security Council presidency, said a vote on the draft resolution has been scheduled at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday.

The proposed new sanctions follow North Korea's first successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States on July 3 and July 27. The Security Council has already imposed six rounds of sanctions that have failed to halt North Korea's drive to improve its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capabilities.

The draft resolution condemns the launches "in the strongest terms" and reiterates previous calls for North Korea to suspend all ballistic missile launches and abandon its nuclear weapons and nuclear program "in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner."

The United States spent weeks following the initial ICBM launch negotiating the text with China, North Korea's neighbor and ally.

The diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, called it the "most impactful and expansive set of sanctions to date" and said the resolution is expected to be approved unanimously.

Agreement on the draft to be put to a vote followed U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's comments Wednesday reassuring North Korea that Washington isn't seeking regime change or an accelerated reunification of the Korean Peninsula — comments welcomed by China's foreign minister.

Tillerson also said the U.S. wants to talk eventually with North Korea, but doesn't think discussions would be productive if the North comes with the intention of maintaining its nuclear weapons. North Korea has repeatedly said it will never give up its nuclear arsenal, which it sees as a guarantee of its security.

The draft resolution reiterates language in previous Security Council resolutions supporting a return to six-party talks with the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, expressing the Security Council's commitment "to a peaceful, diplomatic, and political solution to the situation," and reiterating the importance of maintaining peace and stability in northeast Asia.

It also expresses regret at North Korea's "massive diversion of its scarce resources toward its development of nuclear weapons and a number of expensive ballistic missile programs" noting U.N. findings that well over half the population lacks sufficient food and medical care and a quarter of the population suffers from chronic malnutrition.

While the draft resolution would impose biting economic sanctions, the U.S. didn't get everything it wanted.

In early July, U..S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the Security Council that if it was united, the international community could cut off major sources of hard currency to North Korea, restrict oil to its military and weapons programs, increase air and maritime restrictions, and hold senior officials accountable.

Oil was not included in the draft resolution and neither are new air restrictions.

But the draft resolution would ban all exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood.

According to the diplomat, coal has been North Korea's largest export, earning $1.2 billion last year which was then restricted by the Security Council to a maximum $400 million. This year, Pyongyang was estimated to earn $251 million from iron and iron ore exports, $113 million from lead and lead ore exports, and $295 million from seafood exports, the diplomat said.

That total's over $1 billion. It's unclear exactly how much money North Korea earns from sending workers overseas but in 2015 the U.N. special investigator on human rights in North Korea, Marzuki Darusman, estimated it was earning between $1.2 billion and $2.3 billion annually.

Under the draft, countries would be unable to hire any new North Korean workers.

The proposed resolution would also add nine North Koreans, mainly officials or representatives of companies and banks, to the U.N. sanctions blacklist, banning their travel and freezing their assets. It would also impose an asset freeze on two companies and two banks.

The diplomat called the Foreign Trade Bank "a very critical clearing house for foreign exchange." The Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies, which was also added to the list, is described in the draft resolution as engaged in exporting workers for construction, including of monuments, in Africa and Southeast Asia.

The draft resolution asks the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea to ban the import of many more so-called "dual-use items" that have commercial use but can also be used in conventional weapons or biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

It would also give a green light for the committee to designate specific vessels that are breaking sanctions from entering ports all over the world, and to work with INTERPOL to enforce travel bans on North Koreans on the sanctions blacklist.


Hit song 'Despacito' becomes most viewed video on YouTube

In this April 27, 2017 file photo, singers Luis Fonsi, left and Daddy Yankee perform during the Latin Billboard Awards in Coral Gables, Fla. On Friday, Aug. 4, 2017.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

By Mesfin Fekadu, AP Music Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — The music video for the No. 1 hit song "Despacito" has a new record — it's become the most popular clip on YouTube of all-time with more than three billion views.

YouTube announced Friday that Luis Fonsi's ubiquitous song with Daddy Yankee has surpassed previous record holder "See You Again," the song by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth from the "Furious 7" soundtrack.

"Despacito" became an international smash hit this year, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The record-breaking video does not include the popular remix with Justin Bieber; that version has been viewed more than 464 million times.

"Despacito" is on track to become the first video to reach three billion views on YouTube. The video is also the most "liked" video on YouTube.


Today in History - Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Saturday, Aug. 5, the 217th day of 2017. There are 148 days left in the year.

Today's Highlights in History:

On August 5, 1957, the teenage dance show "American Bandstand," hosted by Dick Clark, made its network debut on ABC-TV. The British cartoon character Andy Capp, created by Reginald Smythe, first appeared in the Daily Mirror.

On this date:

In 1864, during the Civil War, Union Adm. David G. Farragut led his fleet to victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama.

In 1884, the cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty's pedestal was laid on Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor.

In 1924, the comic strip "Little Orphan Annie" by Harold Gray made its debut.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the National Labor Board, which was later replaced with the National Labor Relations Board.

In 1936, Jesse Owens of the United States won the 200-meter dash at the Berlin Olympics, collecting the third of his four gold medals.

In 1953, Operation Big Switch began as remaining prisoners taken during the Korean War were exchanged at Panmunjom.
In 1962, actress Marilyn Monroe, 36, was found dead in her Los Angeles home; her death was ruled a probable suicide from "acute barbiturate poisoning." South African anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was arrested; it was the beginning of 27 years of imprisonment.

In 1967, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn," the first Pink Floyd album, was released in the United Kingdom on the Columbia label.

In 1969, the U.S. space probe Mariner 7 flew by Mars, sending back photographs and scientific data.

In 1974, the White House released transcripts of subpoenaed tape recordings showing that President Richard Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, had discussed a plan in June 1972 to use the CIA to thwart the FBI's Watergate investigation; revelation of the tape sparked Nixon's resignation.

In 1986, it was revealed by Arts & Antiques magazine that artist Andrew Wyeth had, over a 15-year period, secretly created some 240 drawings and paintings of a woman named Helga Testorf, a neighbor in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

In 1991, Democratic congressional leaders formally launched an investigation into whether the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign had secretly conspired with Iran to delay release of American hostages until after the presidential election, thereby preventing an "October surprise" that supposedly would have benefited President Jimmy Carter. (A task force later concluded there was "no credible evidence" of such a deal.)

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai (HAH'-mihd KAHR'-zeye) began meeting at Camp David to discuss security issues in Afghanistan. Lorena Ochoa (lohr-AY'-nah oh-CHOH'-uh) won the Women's British Open — the first women's professional tournament played at venerable St. Andrews — for her first major title. Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger (zhahn mah-REE' loos-tih-ZHAY'), one of the most influential Roman Catholic figures in France, died in Paris at age 80. Comedian Stanley Myron Handelman died in Panorama City, California, at age 77.

Five years ago: A gunman opened fire, killing six people at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee before shooting himself dead during an exchange of fire with one of the first officers to respond. The robotic explorer Curiosity blazed through the pink skies of Mars, steering itself to a gentle landing inside a giant crater. Jamaica's Usain Bolt pulled away from the pack and crossed the finish line to claim consecutive gold medals in the marquee track and field event at the Summer Games in London. Britain's Andy Murray cruised past Roger Federer 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in the men's tennis singles final. Serena and Venus Williams won the women's doubles title, beating Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4. A visibly disappointed McKayla Maroney took silver in the women's vault; Sandra Izbasa of Romania won the gold.

One year ago: The opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics took place in Rio de Janeiro as Brazil laced its high-energy party with a sobering message of the dangers of global warming.

Today's Birthdays: Actor John Saxon is 81. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL player Roman Gabriel is 77. Country songwriter Bobby Braddock is 77. Actress Loni Anderson is 72. Actress Erika Slezak is 71. Rock singer Rick Derringer is 70. Actress Holly Palance is 67. Singer Samantha Sang is 64. Rock musician Eddie Ojeda (Twisted Sister) is 62. Actress-singer Maureen McCormick is 61. Rock musician Pat Smear is 58. Author David Baldacci is 57. Actress Tawney Kitaen is 56. Actress Janet McTeer is 56. Country musician Mark O'Connor is 56. Basketball Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing is 55. Actor Mark Strong is 54. Director-screenwriter James Gunn is 51. Actor Jonathan Silverman is 51. Country singer Terri Clark is 49. Retired MLB All-Star John Olerud is 49. Rock musician Eicca Toppinen (EYE'-kah TAH'-pihn-nehn) (Apocalyptica) is 42. Country musician Will Sellers (Old Dominion) is 39. Actor Jesse Williams is 37. Actor Brendon Ryan Barrett is 31. Actress Meegan Warner (TV: "TURN: Washington's Spies") is 26. Actor Albert Tsai is 13.

Thought for Today: "What worries you, masters you." — John Locke, English philosopher (1632-1704).


Update August 4, 2017

Trump says he hopes for 'honest' outcome of Russia probe

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign-style rally at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, W.Va., Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

By Darlebe Superville, Associated Press

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday he hopes for a "truly honest" outcome from the Russia investigation that has consumed the opening months of his presidency, and he challenged Democrats to either continue their "obsession with a hoax" or begin serving the interests of the American people.

At a boisterous campaign rally in Trump-friendly West Virginia, Trump slammed the investigation as a "fake story that is demeaning to all of us and most of all demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution." He commented hours after news broke that Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the investigation, had empaneled a grand jury in the case.

"I just hope the final determination is a truly honest one, which is what the millions of people who gave us our big win in November deserve and what all Americans who want a better future want and deserve," Trump told thousands of cheering, sign-waving supporters packed into an arena in Huntington.

Trump overwhelmingly won the state in the November election, partly due to his promises to revive a slumping coal industry.

The president, who remains agitated over the investigation into allegations of coordination between his campaign associates and Russian government officials, said Democrats have a decision to make.

"They can continue their obsession with the hoax or they can serve the interests of the American people," he said.

Trump maintains there were no ties between his campaign and Russia and says no wrongdoing was committed. His frustration over the investigation peaked in recent weeks as he began attacking Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation. Sessions, most recently a U.S. senator, was an early and ardent Trump supporter.

"Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign. We didn't win because of Russia. We won because of you," he told the cheering crowd in West Virginia.

Trump argued that Democrats are pushing the "totally made-up Russia story" because "they have no message, no agenda and no vision."

"The Russia story is a total fabrication. It's just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics," he said, referring to his victory over Hillary Clinton. "It just makes them feel better when they have nothing else to talk about."

His suggestion for Democrats: "Try winning at the voter booth. Not going to be easy, but that's the way you're supposed to do it."

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap


Toyota, Mazda plan EV partnership, possible US plant

In this May 13, 2015 file photo, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda, left, and Mazda Motor Corp. President Masamichi Kogai pose for photographers prior to a press conference in Tokyo.(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

By Tom Krisher, Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writers

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. are partnering in electric vehicles with a deal that may lead to setting up an assembly plant in the U.S.

The Japanese Nikkei business daily reported Friday the agreement will include working toward setting up a U.S. joint-venture plant and cooperation on electric vehicle technology.

Toyota said in a statement that it plans to propose to its board a partnership with Mazda. It gave no further details. Mazda declined comment.

A person briefed on the matter, who did not want to be identified because an official announcement hasn't been made, confirmed the partnership.

President Donald Trump has been urging Toyota and other Japanese automakers to invest and build more vehicles in the U.S.

Using the same plant to build vehicles can improve cost-efficiency.

EVs have become an increasingly competitive market segment because of concerns about global warming and the environment.

Japanese rival Nissan Motor Co., which is allied with Renault SA of France and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., is the global leader in electric vehicles.

In the past, Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid, Camry sedan and Lexus luxury models, was not overly bullish on electric vehicles, noting the limited cruise range of the technology. But recent breakthroughs in batteries allows for longer travel per charge.

The Nikkei reported that two Japanese automakers are negotiating an agreement in which Toyota will take about a 5 percent stake in Mazda.

Mazda, which makes the Miata roadster, would also take a stake in Toyota, according to the report.

In 2015, Toyota and Mazda agreed to find new areas where they can work together, but they had not announced specifics.

Toyota already provides hybrid technology to Mazda, which also makes compact cars for Toyota at its Mexico plant.

Mazda, based in Hiroshima, Japan, used to have a powerful partner in Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co., which bought 25 percent of Mazda in 1979, and raised it to 33.4 percent in 1996. But Ford began cutting ties in 2008, and has shed its stake in Mazda.

Toyota is vying for the spot of the world's No. 1 automaker in global vehicle sales against Nissan-Renault and Volkswagen AG of Germany, as the industry gradually consolidates.

A capital tie-up with Mazda would be the latest addition to Toyota's sprawling empire, which includes Japanese truck maker Hino Motors and minicar maker Daihatsu Motor Co. It is also the top shareholder in Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru cars.

Krisher reported from Detroit.

Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
Her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/yuri%20kageyama


Australia police: Men tried to get bomb on Sydney plane

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan, right, and New South Wales state Police Deputy Commissioner David Hudson discuss details of the charging of two men with terrorism offenses in Sydney, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

By Kristen Gelineau, Associated Press

SYDNEY (AP) — Two men facing terrorism charges in Australia were involved in an aborted attempt to place an improvised explosive device on an Etihad Airways flight out of Sydney last month in a plot directed by the Islamic State group, police said Friday.

One of the men, a 49-year-old from Sydney, brought the device to Sydney airport on July 15 in a piece of luggage that he had asked his brother to take with him on the flight — without telling the brother that the bag contained explosives, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan told reporters. But for reasons still unclear, the bag never got past the check-in counter. Instead, Phelan said, the man left the airport with the bag, and his brother continued onto the flight without it.

"This is one of the most sophisticated plots that has ever been attempted on Australian soil," Phelan said. "If it hadn't been for the great work of our intelligence agencies and law enforcement over a very quick period of time, then we could well have a catastrophic event in this country."

The details Phelan provided on Friday are the first that officials have released since four men were arrested in a series of raids in Sydney last weekend. Khaled Khayat, 49, and Mahmoud Khayat, 32, have been charged with two counts of planning a terrorist act. A third man remains in custody, while a fourth was released without charge. Khaled Khayat's brother has not been charged in connection with the plot, because police believe he had no idea the bag contained explosives, Phelan said.

Lawyer Michael Coroneos appeared on behalf of Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat at a brief court hearing on Friday, and the case was adjourned until Nov. 14. Police have not detailed the men's relationship.

"They're entitled to the presumption of innocence," Coroneos said outside court, declining to answer any other questions.

The components for the device, including what Phelan described as a "military-grade explosive," were sent by a senior Islamic State member to the men in Sydney via air cargo from Turkey. An Islamic State commander then instructed the two men who have been charged on how to assemble the device, which police have since recovered, Phelan said.

After the July 15 bid failed, the men changed tactics and were in the early stages of devising a chemical dispersion device, which they hoped could release highly toxic hydrogen sulfide, Phelan said. No specific targets had been chosen, though an Islamic State member overseas had given the men suggestions about where such devices could be placed, such as crowded areas or on public transport.

"Hydrogen sulfide is very difficult to make, so I want to make it quite clear that while it may be a hypothetical plot, we were a long way from having a functional device," Phelan said. "There were precursor chemicals that had been produced, but we were a long way from having a functioning (device)."

Police had no idea either of the plans were in the works until they received a tip through intelligence agencies on July 26, Phelan said. They arrested the men on July 29.

The allegation that the Islamic State was able to ship explosives to Australia undetected was troubling, Phelan acknowledged.

"All the security agencies and those responsible for security of cargo and so on have put in place extra measures since that time," Phelan said. "It is a concern that it got through, yes, it's hard to deny that."

Phelan said police still don't know precisely why the bag containing the explosives never made it past the check-in counter. Some theories are that it was too heavy, or that Khaled Khayat simply chickened out. After learning of the plot, Phelan said police made a similar mock IED and ran it through the airport's luggage system, and it was detected by security.

One of the men charged was put in touch with the Islamic State commander police believe directed the plot in April, Phelan said. He declined to release the Islamic State commander's name.
If convicted, the men could face a sentence of life in prison.


Vietnam regrets Germany's accusation it kidnapped exile

The undated image provided on Aug. 2, 2017 shows Trinh Xuan Thanh, a businessman and former functionary of Vietnam's Communist Party sitting on a park bench in Berlin, Germany. (dpa via AP)

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam said Thursday that it regretted comments by the German Foreign Ministry accusing Vietnamese intelligence services of kidnapping a former Vietnamese oil executive who's wanted back home on embezzlement charges.

German authorities believe Trinh Xuan Thanh was snatched in Berlin and gave the Vietnamese intelligence attache 48 hours on Wednesday to leave the country.

Thanh faces embezzlement charges, which carry the death penalty. He had sought asylum in Germany but his application had not been processed yet while Vietnamese authorities sought his extradition.

Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told reporters that the comments were "very regrettable" and that Thanh turned himself in to police in Vietnam on July 31.

"Vietnam always attaches importance to and wishes to develop strategic relations with Germany," she said, without elaborating.

Thanh, 51, disappeared in July last year after he was initially accused of mismanagement at a subsidiary of national oil and gas giant PetroVietnam, resulting in losses of some $150 million. Vietnamese police issued an arrest warrant in September. In March, police opened an investigation into embezzlement over his alleged involvement in a property development project.

Thanh was chairman of PetroVietnam Construction Joint Stock Corporation until 2013, when he was appointed to several senior government positions, including vice chairman of Hau Giang province in the southern Mekong Delta.

He was elected to the National Assembly in May 2016, but was dismissed from the Communist-dominated legislature before its first session the following month. He was also stripped of his Communist Party membership.

Vietnam's ambassador to Germany was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday and was told that Germany demanded that Thanh be returned so that the asylum and extradition proceedings could be conducted properly.


Today in History - Friday, Aug. 4, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Friday, Aug. 4, the 216th day of 2017. There are 149 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 4, 1892, businessman Andrew Borden and his wife, Abby, were axed to death in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie Borden, Andrew's daughter from a previous marriage, was accused of the killings, but acquitted at trial.

On this date:

In 1782, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart married Constanze Weber at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.

In 1790, the U.S. Coast Guard had its beginnings as President George Washington signed a measure authorizing a group of revenue cutters to enforce tariff and trade laws and prevent smuggling.
In 1792, English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was born at Field Place near Horsham, England.

In 1830, plans for the city of Chicago were laid out.

In 1914, Britain declared war on Germany for invading Belgium; the United States proclaimed its neutrality in the mushrooming world conflict.

In 1936, Jesse Owens of the U.S. won the second of his four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics as he prevailed in the long jump over German Luz Long, who was the first to congratulate him.

In 1942, the Irving Berlin musical "Holiday Inn," starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds, and featuring the song "White Christmas," premiered in New York.

In 1944, 15-year-old diarist Anne Frank was arrested with her sister, parents and four others by the Gestapo after hiding for two years inside a building in Amsterdam. (Anne and her sister, Margot, died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.)

In 1964, the bodies of missing civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney were found buried in an earthen dam in Mississippi.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed a measure establishing the Department of Energy.

In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission voted 4-0 to abolish the Fairness Doctrine, which required radio and television stations to present balanced coverage of controversial issues.

In 1991, the Greek luxury liner Oceanos sank in heavy seas off South Africa's southeast coast; the 402 passengers and 179 crew members all survived, largely through the efforts of ship's entertainers who oversaw rescue operations.
(Capt. Yiannis Avranas and other officers faced criticism for leaving the ship while some passengers were still on board.)

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush toured the site of a collapsed highway bridge in Minneapolis, pledging to cut red tape that could delay rebuilding. Three students, Iofemi Hightower, Terrance Aeriel and Dashon Harvey, were shot to death execution-style in a Newark, New Jersey, schoolyard. (Six people have since been sentenced to long prison terms.) NASA launched the Phoenix Mars Lander, a robotic dirt and ice digger, toward the red planet (it arrived in May 2008). Barry Bonds tied Hank Aaron's 755 career home runs as his San Francisco Giants lost 3-2 to the San Diego Padres. Alex Rodriguez became at age 32 the youngest player in major league history to date to hit 500 home runs with a first-inning homer in a 16-8 Yankees victory over Kansas City.

Five years ago: Michael Phelps won the 18th Olympic gold medal of his career as the United States won the medley relay at the London Games. The United States set a world record to win the women's medley relay. Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1 to join Steffi Graf as the only women to complete the Golden Slam — winning the Olympics and the four majors. Three British athletes won gold medals in Olympic Stadium: Jessica Ennis in heptathlon; Greg Rutherford in men's long jump; and Mo Farah in the men's 10,000 meters.

One year ago: Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, President Barack Obama vigorously denied that a $400 million cash payment to Iran was ransom to secure the release of four Americans jailed in Tehran. During a practice session on the eve of the Rio Olympics, South Korean gymnast Lee Eun-ju took a smiling selfie with North Korean gymnast Hong Un Jong in a warmly received scene captured by journalists.

Today's Birthdays: Actress-singer Tina Cole is 74. Actor-comedian Richard Belzer is 73. Football Hall of Famer John Riggins is 68. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is 62. Actor-screenwriter Billy Bob Thornton is 62. Actress Kym Karath (Film: "The Sound of Music") is 59. Hall of Fame track star Mary Decker Slaney is 59. Actress Lauren Tom is 58. Former President Barack Obama is 56. Producer Michael Gelman (TV: "Live with Kelly & Ryan") is 56. Retired MLB All-Star pitcher Roger Clemens is 55. Actress Crystal Chappell is 52. Author Dennis Lehane is 52. Rock musician Rob Cieka (Boo Radleys) is 49. Actor Daniel Dae Kim is 49. Actor Michael DeLuise is 48. Race car driver Jeff Gordon is 46. Rapper-actress Yo-Yo is 46. Country singer Jon Nicholson is 44. Rhythm-and-blues singer-actor Marques (MAR'-kus) Houston is 36. Actress Meghan Markle is 36. Actress Abigail Spencer is 36. Actress Greta Gerwig is 34. Country singer Crystal Bowersox (TV: "American Idol") is 32. Rock singer Tom Parker (The Wanted) is 29. Actors Dylan and Cole Sprouse are 25. Singer Jessica Sanchez (TV: "American Idol") is 22.

Thought for Today: "When you love someone, all your saved-up wishes start coming out." — Elizabeth Bowen, Irish author (1899-1973).


Update August 3, 2017

Pentagon: 2 US service members killed in Afghanistan blast

Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration in western Herat province of Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)

By Kathy Gannnon, Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bombing attack on a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday left two American service members dead, a Pentagon spokesman said, despite repeated refusals by the U.S. military in Afghanistan to say whether there were any deaths in the assault claimed by the Taliban.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis confirmed the casualties in the attack near Kandahar city. The Pentagon's decision to release the figures seemed to contradict orders issued two months ago by Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, barring information about U.S. combat deaths until days after the incident.

There was no information on the number of troops wounded.

U.S. military officials in Afghanistan refused to give any information about casualties, even after the Pentagon released the casualty figures.

Nicholson's orders stifling information from the U.S. military in Afghanistan was met with opposition from within the Pentagon, where officials reportedly tried to resolve the impasse. However, the decision by the Pentagon to release Wednesday's casualty figures would seem to indicate that the issue has gone unresolved two months into the order.

Nicholson said the reason for the delay was to allow time for notification of family. Yet it upends Pentagon practice since the Vietnam era, and gives the public less information and transparency into a war that has raged for 16 years, resulting in thousands of deaths and injuries.

The Taliban quickly took responsibility for the attack, and a spokesman for the insurgents said the bombing allegedly killed 15 soldiers but the Taliban routinely exaggerate their gains and casualty figures.

In their claim of responsibility, the Taliban also said the attack destroyed two armored tanks. The insurgents' spokesman for southern Afghanistan, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, said fighter Asadullah Kandahari was the "hero" who carried out the attack with a small pick-up truck packed with explosives.

Kandahar province was the Taliban spiritual heartland and the headquarters of their leadership during the five-year rule of the Taliban, which ended with the U.S. invasion in 2001.

The service members were part of an international force referred to as the Train, Advise and Assist Command south, a reference to their location in the country. Five other countries besides the United States are stationed in the south __ Australia, Germany, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania, said U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan Lt. Damien E. Horvath.

Ghulam Ali, who runs a mechanics shop near the attack site on the outskirts of the city of Kandahar, said the intensity of the blast knocked him out.

When he came to, he saw a military vehicle on fire on the road. He stepped out of his shop but a sudden burst of gunfire drove him back inside, he said. Then, helicopters arrived and he saw soldiers being taken away from the scene but could not determine the extent of their injuries.

The combined U.S. and NATO troop contingent currently in Afghanistan is about 13,500. The Trump administration is deciding whether to send about 4,000 or more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan in an attempt to stem Taliban gains.

Nicholson's orders to withhold information about troop casualties distance him from U.S. military commanders in all of the other combat regions of the world - including Iraq and Syria.

The attack in southern Kandahar came as thousands of demonstrators in the western city of Herat transported 31 bodies, the victims of a horrific suicide attack on a Shiite mosque a day earlier, to the residence of the provincial governor.

Protesters were outraged at the audacity of Tuesday evening's attack, barely 150 feet (50 meters) from a police station. The suicide bomber first sprayed gunfire at the private guards, who were protecting the mosque before running inside firing until his rifle jammed, said witnesses. He then detonated the explosives strapped to his body.
The Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan took responsibility for the attack saying they had deployed two suicide bombers. Witnesses reported a second explosion 10 minutes after the first bomber blew himself up.

When the carnage ended 32 people were dead and 66 injured, said the provincial governor's spokesman Jilani Farhad.
The IS said in a statement that the two men, whom it identified as Amir Qassim and Tayeb al-Kharasani, also used automatic rifles in the Shiite mosque before they detonated themselves.

The statement claimed that the attack killed nearly 50 and wounded more than 80.

The U.N. Security Council condemned "the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack" in Herat "in the strongest terms." In a statement late Wednesday, council members underlined the need "to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice."

The Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan on Monday had warned it would strike Shiites after taking credit for an attack on the Iraq Embassy in the heart of the Afghan capital Kabul. The Sunni militant group considers Shiite Muslims as apostates.

Tuesday's attack in Herat targeting Afghanistan's minority Shiites, just a day after the Kabul attack, has frightened Shiites and put further pressure on the Afghan government that is increasingly seen to be impotent to stop the violence.

Also on Wednesday the Taliban ambushed and killed Jaghatu District Gov. Manzur Hussain and a passenger in his car, Ghazni provincial police chief Mohammad Mustafa Mayar said.

The Taliban have stepped up their attacks in recent weeks hitting district headquarters, government officials and Afghan National Security Forces with increasing frequency.

Associated Press writers Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, Mir Wais Khan in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Bassem Mrouse in Beirut and Lolita Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.


Congress OKs big boost in GI Bill college aid for veterans

By Hope Yen, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP)
— Congress sent President Donald Trump legislation to provide the biggest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade.

The Senate cleared the bill by voice vote on Wednesday, passing the second piece of legislation aimed at addressing urgent problems at the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs in as many days. The House passed the bipartisan college aid legislation last week.

The measure is a broad effort to better prepare veterans for life after active-duty service amid a rapidly changing job market.

Building on major legislation passed in 2008 that guaranteed a full-ride scholarship to any in-state public university — or a similar cash amount for private college students — the bill removes a 15-year time limit to tap into GI benefits and increases money for thousands in the National Guard and Reserve.

Veterans would get additional payments if they complete science, technology and engineering courses. The bill also would restore benefits if a college closed in the middle of the semester, a protection added when thousands of veterans were hurt by the collapse of for-profit college giant ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges.

Purple Heart recipients, meanwhile, would be fully eligible for benefits, regardless of length of time in service.

"This bill invests in the proven success of our veterans," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. "When our veterans return home, they should have every opportunity available to them to pursue their desired profession and career."

The panel's top Democrat, Jon Tester of Montana, says the bill "also does right by Guardsmen and Reservists by getting them the education, housing and health care that they have earned. I look forward to working with President Trump to quickly sign our bill into law."

Tester is one of the more vulnerable Democrats up for re-election next year, seeking another term in a state Trump won last year.

The Senate on Tuesday backed a measure that authorizes $3.9 billion in emergency spending to avert imminent bankruptcy in the VA's Veterans Choice Program of private-sector care. About $1.8 million of that money would bolster core VA programs, including 28 leases for new VA medical facilities.

The education benefits would take effect for enlistees who begin using their GI Bill money next year.

For a student attending a private university, the additional benefits to members of the Guard and Reserve could mean $2,300 a year more in tuition than they are receiving now, plus a bigger housing allowance.

A wide range of veterans' groups had supported the expanded GI Bill benefits. The American Legion, the nation's largest veterans group, hailed the proposal as launching a "new era" for those who served in uniform.

According to Student Veterans of America, only about half of the 200,000 service members who leave the military each year go on to enroll in a college, while surveys indicate that veterans often outperform peers in the classroom.

Veterans of Foreign Wars estimates that hundreds of thousands of veterans stand to gain from the new benefits.

The expanded educational benefits would be paid for by bringing living stipend payments under the GI Bill down to a similar level as that received by an active-duty member, whose payments were reduced in 2014 by 1 percent a year for five years. Total government spending on the GI Bill is expected to be more than $100 billion over 10 years.

Follow Hope Yen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/hopeyen1


Trump blasts Russia sanctions bill _ but still signs it

In this July 31, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

By Vivian Salama, Richard Lardner, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dealt a striking congressional rebuke, Donald Trump grudgingly signed what he called a "seriously flawed" package of sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, bowing for the moment to resistance from both parties to his push for warmer ties with Moscow.

Trump signed the most significant piece of legislation of his presidency with no public event. And he coupled it with a written statement, resentful in tone, that accused Congress of overstepping its constitutional bounds, impeding his ability to negotiate with foreign countries and lacking any ability to strike deals.

"Congress could not even negotiate a health care bill after seven years of talking," he said scornfully of lawmakers' recent failure to repeal "Obamacare" as he and other Republicans have promised for years. "As president, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress."

Still, he said, "despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity."

It was powerful evidence of the roadblock Congress has erected to Trump's efforts to reset relations with Russia at a time when federal investigators are probing Moscow's interference in the U.S. presidential election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.

The legislation is aimed at penalizing Moscow for that interference and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad.

The law also imposes new financial sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

Trump said the law will "punish and deter bad behavior" by the governments of Iran and North Korea as well as enhance existing sanctions on Moscow. But he made no secret of his distaste for what the bill does to his ability to govern.

"The bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate," he said.

Last week, the House overwhelmingly backed the bill, 419-3, and the Senate rapidly followed, 98-2. Those margins guaranteed that Congress would be able to beat back any veto attempt.

Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 campaign with the intention of tipping the election in his favor.

He's blasted the federal investigation as a "witch hunt."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called the president's concerns over the bill misplaced.

"Vladimir Putin and his regime must pay a real price for attacking our democracy, violating human rights, occupying Crimea and destabilizing Ukraine," McCain said. "Going forward, I hope the president will be as vocal about Russia's aggressive behavior as he was about his concerns with this legislation."

Trump's talk of extending a hand of cooperation to Putin has been met by skeptical lawmakers looking to limit his leeway. The new measure targets Russia's energy sector as part of legislation that prevents Trump from easing sanctions on Moscow without congressional approval.

Russia wasn't pleased. Putin responded on Sunday by announcing the U.S. would have to cut 755 of its embassy and consular staff in Russia. And Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an emotional Facebook post Wednesday that "Trump's administration has demonstrated total impotence by surrendering its executive authority to Congress in the most humiliating way."

The congressional review section of the bill that Trump objects to was a key feature for many members of Congress.
Trump will be required to send a report explaining why he wants to suspend or terminate a particular set of the sanctions on Russia. Lawmakers would then have 30 days to decide whether to allow that.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed the president's sentiments that the measure poses more diplomatic hindrances than solutions.

"Neither the president nor I are very happy about that," Tillerson said Tuesday. "We were clear that we didn't think that was going to be helpful to our efforts, but that's the decision they made."

Sean Kane, a former official with the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, said the Obama administration had sought similar wiggle room when negotiating Iran sanctions with lawmakers.

"These issues have come up before where an administration wants flexibility in place in a deal that would potentially lift sanctions, and Congress wants to tie the administration's hands in some ways," said Kane, now at the law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed.

Trump said that Congress had "included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions."

Last winter, just before Trump was sworn in, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a bill designed to go beyond the punishments already levied against Russia by the Obama administration and to demonstrate to Trump that forcefully responding to Moscow's election interference wasn't a partisan issue.

Action on Russia sanctions didn't really pick up until late May, when Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, threw his support behind the effort. The bill underwent revisions to avoid inadvertently undercutting U.S. firms or interfering with how European allies acquire energy.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle celebrated the passage and signing.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the bill sends a "powerful message to our adversaries that they will be held accountable for their actions."

But the House's top Democrat said Trump's statement calling the bill "seriously flawed" raises questions about whether his administration will follow the law. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the Republican-led Congress must not allow the White House to "wriggle out of its duty to impose these sanctions for Russia's brazen assault on our democracy."
___
Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report from Washington.


Crowd-funded animated short about gay love goes viral

This image released by Ringling College of Art and Design shows a scene from the animated short, "In a Heartbeat," by filmmakers Beth David and Esteban Bravo. David and Bravo released the film online Monday where it quickly began trending on Twitter. (Ringling College of Art and Design via AP)

Joseph Longo, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An animated short film about an adolescent gay couple has gone viral, roughly 8 million views on YouTube in just two days.

"In a Heartbeat" follows an elementary school boy addressing his sexuality after falling in love with a male classmate. Filmmakers Beth David and Esteban Bravo released the film Monday online.
The short quickly began trending, gaining a particular following amongst LGBT advocates including singer Adam Lambert and actor Ashton Kutcher. The Human Rights Campaign posted the video on Twitter Tuesday afternoon and praised the film for its relatability.

Hayley Miller, the organization's senior digital media manager, said the film is a testament to saying, "Love is love."

"We've all had a crush or a broken heart," Miller wrote in an email. "Using no words, it validates this young boy's experience and the way all LGBTQ youth should be embraced."

The filmmakers launched a Kickstarter campaign in November 2016 to fund the project, reaching the initial goal of $3,000 in three hours. A total of $14,000 was raised.

"In a Heartbeat" is a semi-finalist for best animated domestic film at the 2017 Student Academy Awards. The filmmakers produced the short at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida as their senior thesis. They did not respond to online messages seeking an interview.

Paul Dergarabedian, comScore senior media analyst, said it's not surprising the film found success through the crowd-funding website. Calling the short a picture-perfect scenario, he said the most successful Kickstarter campaigns go viral.

"It shows the power of utilizing social media as a way to provide resources to realize people's creative vision," he said.

Research shows young LGBT characters and storylines are way underrepresented in both short and feature length films.
In 2016, only three out of 4,544 speaking characters in the top 100 grossing films were LGBT teenagers or younger, according to a report released Monday.

There was just one out of 4,370 in 2015, according to data compiled by the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Project administrator Marc Choueiti said younger LGBT characters are also rarely seen in short films.

In a separate study, the researchers evaluated films screening at Lunafest, a national short film festival. They found that between 2002 and 2015, 115 short films had four characters who identified themselves as LGBT teenagers.

Lead researcher Stacy L. Smith said shorts often showcase different worldviews than in top grossing full-length features.

Smith said "In A Heartbeat" is an outlier along with "The Imitation Game," ''Moonlight" and the Freeform show "The Fosters" in showcasing experiences of LGBT youth.

"People aren't seeing rich, complex and compelling LGBT youth," she said. "The short should be applauded for representing the world we live in."

Follow Joseph Longo on Twitter at https://twitter.com/josephlongo_


Today in History - Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Aug. 3, the 215th day of 2017. There are 150 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, on a voyage that took him to the present-day Americas.

On this date:

In 1807, former Vice President Aaron Burr went on trial before a federal court in Richmond, Virginia, charged with treason. (He was acquitted less than a month later.)

In 1916, Irish-born British diplomat Roger Casement, a strong advocate of independence for Ireland, was hanged for treason.

In 1921, baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis refused to reinstate the former Chicago White Sox players implicated in the "Black Sox" scandal, despite their acquittals in a jury trial.

In 1936, Jesse Owens of the United States won the first of his four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics as he took the 100-meter sprint.

In 1943, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. George S. Patton slapped a private at an army hospital in Sicily, accusing him of cowardice. (Patton was later ordered by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to apologize for this and a second, similar episode.)

In 1949, the National Basketball Association was formed as a merger of the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League.

In 1958, the nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus became the first vessel to cross the North Pole underwater.

In 1966, comedian Lenny Bruce, whose raunchy brand of satire and dark humor landed him in trouble with the law, was found dead in his Los Angeles home; he was 40.

In 1972, the U.S. Senate ratified the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union. (The U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the treaty in 2002.)

In 1981, U.S. air traffic controllers went on strike, despite a warning from President Ronald Reagan they would be fired, which they were.

In 1987, the Iran-Contra congressional hearings ended, with none of the 29 witnesses tying President Ronald Reagan directly to the diversion of arms-sales profits to Nicaraguan rebels.

In 1994, Arkansas carried out the nation's first triple execution in 32 years. Stephen G. Breyer was sworn in as the Supreme Court's newest justice in a private ceremony at Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist's Vermont summer home.

Ten years ago: Toyota said its April-June 2007 profit had jumped 32.3 percent to a then-record high for a quarter, lifted by strong overseas sales and a weaker yen. Iraqis welcomed home their soccer team, which had won the Asian Cup.

Five years ago: The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly denounced Syria's crackdown on dissent in a symbolic effort meant to push the deadlocked Security Council and the world at large into action on stopping the country's civil war. Michael Phelps rallied to win the 100-meter butterfly for his third gold of the London Games and No. 17 of his career. Missy Franklin set a world record in the 200 backstroke for the 17-year-old's third gold in London. Falling at speeds of up to 220 mph, 138 skydivers shattered the vertical skydiving world record as they flew heads-down in a massive snowflake formation in northern Illinois. (This record was in turn eclipsed in 2015 by 164 skydivers plunging over central Illinois.)

One year ago: President Barack Obama cut short the sentences of 214 federal inmates, including 67 life sentences, in what the White House called the largest batch of commutations on a single day in more than a century. An Emirates Boeing 777 crash-landed in Dubai and caught fire; all 300 people on board survived, but one firefighter was killed.

Today's Birthdays: Football Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy is 92. Singer Tony Bennett is 91. Actor Martin Sheen is 77. College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Lance Alworth is 77. Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart is 76. Singer Beverly Lee (The Shirelles) is 76. Rock musician B.B. Dickerson is 68. Movie director John Landis is 67. Actress JoMarie Payton is 67. Actor Jay North (TV: "Dennis the Menace") is 66. Hockey Hall-of-Famer Marcel Dionne is 66. Country musician Randy Scruggs is 64. Actor Philip Casnoff is 63. Actor John C. McGinley is 58. Rock singer-musician Lee Rocker (The Stray Cats) is 56. Actress Lisa Ann Walter is 56. Rock singer James Hetfield (Metallica) is 54. Rock singer-musician Ed Roland (Collective Soul) is 54. Actor Isaiah Washington is 54. Country musician Dean Sams (Lonestar) is 51. Rock musician Stephen Carpenter (Deftones) is 47. Hip-hop artist Spinderella (Salt-N-Pepa) is 46. Actress Brigid Brannagh is 45. Actor Michael Ealy is 44. Country musician Jimmy De Martini (Zac Brown Band) is 41. NFL quarterback Tom Brady is 40. Actress Evangeline (ee-VAN'-gel-een) Lilly is 38. Actress Mamie Gummer is 34. Olympic gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte is 33. Country singer Whitney Duncan is 33. Actor Jon Foster is 33. Actress Georgina Haig is 32. Singer Holly Arnstein (Dream) is 32. Actress Tanya Fischer is 32. Pop-rock musician Brent Kutzle (OneRepublic) is 32. Rapper D.R.A.M. is 29.

Thought for Today: "The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides." — Henri Frederic Amiel (ahn-REE' fred-deh-REEK' ah-mee-EL'), Swiss critic (1821-1881).


Update August 2, 2017

Man freed after airline plot arrest shocked to be questioned

In this Sunday, May 4, 2014 file photo, an Etihad Airways plane prepares to land in Abu Dhabi Airport, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A man arrested over the weekend in Sydney has been released without charge and was shocked to be questioned about a plot to bring down an airliner, his lawyer and police said Wednesday.

Four Lebanese-Australian men had been arrested late Saturday by police who also reportedly seized a meat grinder that investigators thought may be the basis of a bomb.

Abdul Merhi, 50, was released from police custody on Tuesday night, Australian Federal Police said. "This investigation remains ongoing and further information will be provided at an appropriate time," the police statement said.

Merhi's lawyer Moustafa Kheir said his client had endured intense questioning. "There's a lot of stress associated there, and not knowing, and he was shocked that he was being questioned," Kheir said.


The lawyer said Merhi's family was also in shock and his life had been "turned upside down" but he wanted to return to as normal a life as possible.

"It's just unfathomable that he would be associated with anything like this," Kheir added.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters he would not draw any conclusions beyond one man's release. "I know my circumspection is disappointing, but you can understand there are very big issues of public safety at stake here so you'll forgive me if I'm circumspect. More will be said, more will be revealed, at the appropriate time," he added.

A court has allowed police to hold the men for seven days without charge under counterterrorism laws designed to prevent an attack.

Australian officials will not comment on reports that the arrests followed a tip from U.S. or British intelligence agencies that had intercepted communications from Syria.

Australian authorities have said they thwarted a credible terrorist plot to down an airplane by smuggling a device onboard. They have provided few details, including the precise nature of the threat or any airlines involved.

The United Arab Emirates' national airline said it is working with Australian police in the ongoing investigation, suggesting one of its planes may have been targeted in the plot. Etihad Airways, the smallest of three long-haul Gulf carriers that fly to Australia, refused to confirm, however, if it had been a target.

"The Etihad Airways aviation security team is assisting the Australian Federal Police with its investigation and the matter is ongoing," it said. "Etihad is complying fully with the enhanced security measures at airports in Australia and monitoring the situation closely. Safety is the airline's number one priority."

Etihad operates direct flights to four Australian cities: Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. The airline has built strong ties to the country, buying a stake in alliance partner Virgin Australia, featuring Down Under stars including Nicole Kidman in advertising and sponsoring Melbourne's soccer team and its home stadium.

Australian media outlets have reported that the conspirators wanted to target a flight to the Middle East, possibly the Emirati city of Dubai, but they failed to get the device onboard, so they changed their focus to an Australian domestic airline.

Etihad's hub in Abu Dhabi is 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Dubai's main airport, the world's busiest for international flights.

Dubai-based Emirates, the largest Mideast carrier, said it was cooperating on the additional security procedures but did not say whether it is involved in the investigation.

Australia's Nine Network television reported on Tuesday that one of the suspects had tried to check in on an international flight, and that might have been a test run to see if they could get a meat grinder on board as carry-on luggage.

Officials have refused to comment on media reports that the plot was to conceal explosives or chemicals that would emit toxic gas inside a piece of kitchen equipment.

Associated Press writer Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.


Lawsuit: Fox coordinated with White House on false story

 

News headlines scroll above the Fox News studios in the News Corporation headquarters building in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

By David Bauder, Jill Colvin, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A lawsuit filed Tuesday lays out an explosive tale of Trump allies, the White House and Fox News Channel conspiring to push a false story about Democratic leaks and an unsolved killing in order to distract attention from the Russia investigation that has been swirling around the president.

The lawsuit was filed against Fox by an investigator who had been looking into the killing of Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staff member killed in 2016 in what police say was a botched robbery. The investigator alleges that Fox quoted him as saying things he never said and was willing to show President Donald Trump its story before it was posted online.

It's the second time in two days that Trump has been accused of being actively involved in pushing a public narrative to lower the heat of the Russia story. The Washington Post reported that the president had written a misleading statement for his son to give to The New York Times about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting last summer with a Russian who promised dirt on Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Rich's death has become fodder for conspiracy theorists, deeply angering the 27-year-old's family. In May, the story was thrust into the headlines again when Fox posted a story on its website in which investigator Rod Wheeler said there had been contact between Rich and WikiLeaks, the organization that posted a trove of DNC emails last year. The story was heavily promoted by Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has informally advised the president.

In the lawsuit, Wheeler now says that he never made that statement. He also contends he was told his false comments were put in the story because Trump wanted it that way.

Rich's family released a statement Tuesday night supporting the lawsuit. "While we can't speak to the evidence that you now have, we are hopeful that this brings an end to what has been the most emotionally difficult time in our lives and an end to conspiracy theories surrounding our beloved Seth," the family wrote.

Fox says it's "completely erroneous" to suggest it pushed the story to distract from the Russia investigation. Wheeler has made contradictory statements regarding the case and is simultaneously filing a racial discrimination lawsuit against the network, represented by a lawyer who has other lawsuits against Fox.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had no knowledge of the false story before it was posted and that it was "completely untrue" that the White House had any role in shaping it.

Wheeler, a Fox contributor on law enforcement issues, said he was brought into the Rich case by donor and Trump supporter Ed Butowsky. He says Butowsky, who has also made occasional guest appearances on Fox News, was intent on establishing a link between Rich and WikiLeaks.

Two days before the Fox article was published, Wheeler said he got a text message from Butowsky: "Not to add any more pressure but the president just read the article. He wants the article out immediately. It's now all up to you. But don't feel the pressure."

Butowsky said in a phone interview Tuesday he has never met Trump and his text message to Wheeler about the president reading the article was "tongue-in-cheek."

Fox removed the story from its website a week after it was published, saying "it was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all of our reporting." Hannity ultimately backed away, saying he was acting out of respect for Rich's family.

Wheeler also said that he and Butowsky had met with outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer and showed Spicer notes on Wheeler's investigation. Spicer asked to be kept informed, the lawsuit said.

Spicer plays down the importance of that meeting.

"Ed is a longtime supporter of the president's agenda who often appears in the media," Spicer said Tuesday. "He asked for a 10-minute meeting, with no specified topic, to catch up and said he would be bringing along a contributor to Fox News. As Ed himself has noted, he has never met the president and the White House had nothing to do with his story."

On the day the Fox story was posted, Spicer was asked about the report that Rich had emailed WikiLeaks. He said, "I'm not aware of that" and did not mention that he had met with Butowsky and Wheeler a month earlier.

One of Trump's attorneys, Jay Sekulow, also devoted attention to the Rich story during several Hannity appearances in May, before his hiring by Trump was announced.

"There's a lot more to this, I would suspect," Sekulow said on the May 18 show, which Hannity devoted almost entirely to a discussion about Rich. "You can't ignore the fact that it was a DNC staffer. You can't ignore the fact that there was nothing taken from the individual's body."

He said that while he hadn't seen "the files" on Rich, the incident "undercuts" the argument that Russians interfered in the election.

At the time, Trump was facing news stories about the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and possible ties between his campaign aides and Moscow. He continues to blast the inquiries as a "witch hunt" aimed at discrediting his election win and tries to focus attention on Clinton, who has largely faded from the headlines.

Jay Wallace, Fox News president, says, "The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman's story to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous." Malia Zimmerman was a Fox producer on the story.

"The retraction of this story is still being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Rod Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman," Wallace said.

In May, Wheeler told Fox's local affiliate in Washington that he "absolutely" had sources at the FBI saying that there was information that could link Rich to WikiLeaks. But the station noted that Wheeler subsequently said contradictory things to other news organizations, and the station could not contact him again.

Fox News Channel's prime-time opinion hosts, particularly Hannity, make no secret of their admiration for Trump. But any charges that the network worked with Trump on a false story could harm the reputations of the network's journalists.

Trump has fostered an unusually close relationship with Fox and many of its personalities, particularly Hannity.

Hannity gave Trump a frequent platform for non-challenging interviews during the campaign, along with advice on air and behind the scenes. The "Fox and Friends" morning show also is a Trump favorite.

Jill Colvin reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Donna Cassata in Washington and Shelley Acoca in New York contributed.


Islamic school seeks to steer sons of militants to new path

In this July 22, 2017, photo, former radical preacher Khairul Ghazali, top, teaches at Al Hidayah Islamic Boarding School in Sei Mencirim, North Sumatra, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

By Niniek Karmini, Associated Press

SEI MENCIRIM, Indonesia (AP) — The slim boys in Muslim caps and robes at the Al Hidayah Islamic boarding school are grinning bolts of energy who love football, need a little coaxing to do their math and Quran lessons assiduously and aspire to become policemen or respected preachers.

Their school, like many in rural Indonesia, started as a modest affair with a dusty yard, spartan sleeping quarters and an open-air classroom with a dirt floor and corrugated iron roofing. The boys, though, have been spoken to roughly by villagers, the school's banners and billboards trampled and burned, and its head teacher reported to police.

The 20 pupils are the sons of Islamic militants, reviled by most Indonesians for killings and other acts of violence that they justified with distorted interpretations of Islam. Nearly half of the boys' fathers were killed in police raids, and in some cases the children witnessed the deaths. Most of the other fathers are in prison for terrorism offenses.

Al Hidayah's founder, Khairul Ghazali, is a former radical preacher whose involvement in militancy stretches back decades. He was recruited at age 19 by Abdullah Sungkar, the now-deceased leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror group responsible for attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people.

Nowadays, the soft-spoken Ghazali, 52, professes to be a changed man who wants to atone by preventing his young charges, who were ostracized and taunted at mainstream schools, from becoming the next generation of Indonesian jihadists. His three sons attend the school.

A turning point, he said, came in 2010 when anti-terror police raided his home in North Sumatra and shot dead two other militants, wanted for killing police officers, in front of him, his wife and children. In prison, he dwelt on his decades of jihad and in the hours spent poring over the Quran found his past wanting. With the encouragement of prison officials, he wrote several books against radicalism, earning the enmity of other jihadists who denounced him as an infidel who deserves death.

"It's hurt our innocent children. It's hurt us," said Ghazali, who was released in 2015 after serving four years for offenses that included a major bank robbery to fund attacks. "Stigmatization, poverty and the fact that many innocent people were killed and the destruction we caused all accumulated into an inner torment."

Ghazali's school in North Sumatra is supported by counterterrorism officials but is only a small dent in a largely undiscussed problem. By his reckoning, there are at least 2,000 sons and daughters of killed and imprisoned militants at risk of becoming battle fodder for a new wave of jihadism.

Indonesia has had successes in rooting out violent militants but officials acknowledge risks remain. A 2015 Pew survey of Indonesians showed that 4 percent, or about 10 million people, had a favorable attitude toward the Islamic State group. A survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting in May this year showed 9 percent support Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, changing from a secular to an Islamic state. A few Islamic boarding schools churn out students susceptible to violent radicalization.

The IS group's declaration of a caliphate over swaths of territory it temporarily held in Iraq and Syria, and more recently the occupation of the southern Philippine city of Marawi by IS sympathizers, has provided a psychological boost to militant networks in Indonesia that had been atomized by a sustained crackdown. As the group's territory in the Middle East shrinks, officials fear Indonesians who fought there, or in Marawi, will return to Indonesia and provide leadership and skills that could help produce more lethal attacks.

Sitting in a classroom just after dawn with students whose ages range from 9 to 15, Ghazali tells them stories about the life of the Prophet Muhammad to show them, he said, that Islam is a religion of love and mercy, not an ideology to justify a war against police, currently the most frequent target of militant attacks in Indonesia.

Abdullah, 13, and his two younger brothers were sent by their mother to Ghazali's boarding school last year because of the hostility they faced at their regular school.

"I can't stand the taunts at school," he said, his lips trembling. "I dropped out when I was in the third grade and I had to move from place to place. I was insulted as a terrorist kid when my father was in prison. I was so sad."
Abdullah said his favorite activities at school are football and Arabic lessons. He aspires to become an Islamic teacher because "there are many people who claim to know Islam but actually they don't know what Islam is and how to practice it."

The initial hostility the school faced when it opened in 2015 has faded. Local police talked to villagers, raising awareness about its purpose. A stream of officials from the district and provincial governments and the military visited to show their support.

Villager Hendra Widiarto, who lives about 300 meters (yards) from the school, said lack of information about it and its makeshift appearance made locals suspicious, and they became confrontational when they learned about the backgrounds of Ghazali and the students.

Nowadays, Widiarto, a carpenter, helps Ghazali make cabinets and bookshelves for the school. Every Friday, people from surrounding villages and students from government schools come to Al Hidayah to pray.

"If ever possible, I want my own two children to learn morals and discipline at this school," he said.
At the request of the National Agency for Counter-Terrorism, the local government last year provided 30 hectares of land next to the school and agency's chief collected donations from companies and businessmen that allowed a substantial mosque and two sturdy classrooms, painted lime green, for up to 60 students to be built. The original open-air classroom now has a tiled floor and construction of better living quarters will start next month; Ghazali said that will allow the boarding school to also accept the daughters of militants and kids with ordinary backgrounds.

Another school that can cater to 100 students has been set up with the counterterrorism agency's assistance in Lamongan, the East Java hometown of three brothers who assembled a massive bomb used in the 2002 Bali attack.

"These children are victims of their parents' wrong ideology," said Suhardi Alius, chief of the counterterrorism agency, who wants schools for children of jihadists to be established in areas known as hotbeds of Islamic militancy such as Poso in Sulawesi and Bima in West Nusa Tenggara.

"If these children are not rescued they will follow what their parents did," Alius said, citing the example of the 19-year-old son of executed Bali bomber Imam Samudra who police say was killed in a battle in Syria in 2015.

Alius describes Ghazali as "totally changed" and taking the right course by drawing on his experience to prevent others from taking up violence.

"The state should support him because people become radical not within a day or two, but it takes a long process, so to deradicalize them we also need a long process," he said.

Six teachers from provincial schools are voluntarily helping Ghazali and his wife teach the standard national curriculum plus religious studies, Arabic and farming at Al Hidayah.

One of them, Muhammad Haris Iskandar, 51, a math teacher and vice director at a public school in Medan, Indonesia's third-largest city, said he left his formal job because of the rare challenge offered by Al Hidayah.

"This school is very special for me," he said.

He and the other volunteers are not only educators and motivators, but also healers and role models for children traumatized by their family's radicalism and society's reaction to it, Iskandar said.

The teachers also need to be combative and argue persuasively, he said, because the students sometimes doubt what they are taught about Islam when they compare it with what they absorbed from their parents.

For example, he said, they have questioned why non-Muslims should not be regarded as infidels who can be killed.
Dimas, 14, said he regrets the crimes of his father, who was arrested in 2014 for trafficking drugs to fund extremism and is serving a 10-year prison sentence.

"I study here because I want to repent as my father was a criminal," said the teen, who dreams about becoming a policeman and arresting drug traffickers.

"Many people say that my father likes to hit people and is a murderer," he said. "I don't understand why he should kill people."


Poles commemorate Warsaw Uprising on 73rd anniversary

People stand on the city's main intersection holding burning flares to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

By Vanessa Gera, Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Sirens wailed across Poland's capital on Tuesday as the country marked the 73rd anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, a doomed revolt against the occupying Germans during World War II.

Sirens sounded for about two minutes starting at 5 p.m., the hour the 1944 uprising began, bringing traffic mostly to a standstill while people stopped to pay respect to the Poles who fought and died.

President Andrzej Duda, veterans, scouts and others took part in ceremonies, as did several thousand far-right extremists who marched through Warsaw.

The German Embassy in Warsaw flew its flags — a German and a European Union flag — at half-staff to honor the victims.

The Warsaw Uprising broke out August 1, 1944, with the Polish underground taking up arms against the powerful Nazi forces, hoping to liberate the city before the arrival of the Soviet Red Army. They held out for 63 days before the Germans crushed the revolt.

It was the largest act of resistance in any nation under German occupation during the war. The heroism of insurgents who fought for national liberation remains a defining element in Polish national identity.

The Germans suppressed the rebellion brutally, destroying most of Warsaw and killing around 200,000 people, most of them civilians.

Soviet troops who had arrived on the outskirts of Warsaw in their westward push against Adolf Hitler's forces remained on the city's outskirts without helping the Poles who were supposed to be their allies. The Red Army's inaction was viewed as a deep betrayal.

U.S. President Donald Trump paid homage to the "desperate struggle to overthrow oppression" during a July 6 visit to Warsaw.

Trump recalled that the Soviets "watched as the Nazis ruthlessly destroyed the city, viciously murdering men, women and children."

The 1944 uprising by the Polish resistance came more than a year after Jews confined to the Warsaw Ghetto and about to be sent to death camps took up arms against the Nazis. That revolt also ended in tragedy for the Jews.


Today in History - Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, Aug. 2, the 214th day of 2017. There are 151 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 2, 1776, members of the Second Continental Congress began attaching their signatures to the Declaration of Independence.

On this date:

In 216 B.C., during the Second Punic War, Carthaginian forces led by Hannibal defeated the Roman army in the Battle of Cannae.

In 1876, frontiersman "Wild Bill" Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker at a saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, by Jack McCall, who was later hanged.

In 1892, movie producer Jack L. Warner was born in London, Ontario, Canada.

In 1923, the 29th president of the United States, Warren G. Harding, died in San Francisco; Vice President Calvin Coolidge became president.

In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge issued a written statement to reporters: "I do not choose to run for President in nineteen twenty-eight."

In 1939, Albert Einstein signed a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt urging creation of an atomic weapons research program. President Roosevelt signed the Hatch Act, which prohibited civil service employees from taking an active part in political campaigns.

In 1943, during World War II, U.S. Navy boat PT-109, commanded by Lt. (jg) John F. Kennedy, sank after being rammed in the middle of the night by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri off the Solomon Islands. Two crew members were killed.

In 1967, the crime drama "In the Heat of the Night," starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, premiered in New York.

In 1974, former White House counsel John W. Dean III was sentenced to one to four years in prison for obstruction of justice in the Watergate cover-up. (Dean ended up serving four months.)

In 1985, 137 people were killed when Delta Air Lines Flight 191, a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, crashed while attempting to land at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, seizing control of the oil-rich emirate. (The Iraqis were later driven out in Operation Desert Storm.)

In 1997, "Naked Lunch" author William S. Burroughs, the godfather of the "Beat generation," died in Lawrence, Kansas, at age 83.

Ten years ago: Mattel apologized to customers as it recalled nearly a million Chinese-made toys from its Fisher-Price division that were found to have excessive amounts of lead in their paint. A Marine Corps squad leader was convicted at Camp Pendleton, California, of murdering an unarmed Iraqi man during a frustrated search for an insurgent. (Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III was sentenced to 11 years in prison; he served more than half of his sentence before his conviction was overturned. Although convicted in a 2015 retrial, Hutchins received no additional prison time.) Two small Russian submarines completed a voyage below the North Pole where they planted the country's flag on the Arctic Ocean floor.

Five years ago: Kofi Annan resigned as peace envoy to Syria, blaming the Syrian government's intransigence, the growing militancy of Syrian rebels and a divided U.N. Security Council that he said failed to forcefully back his effort. Gabby Douglas became the third American in a row to win gymnastics' biggest prize when she claimed the all-around Olympic title; Michael Phelps added to his medal collection with his first individual gold medal of the London Games in the 200-meter individual medley.

One year ago: President Barack Obama castigated Donald Trump as "unfit" and "woefully unprepared" to serve in the White House, and challenged Republicans to withdraw their support for their party's nominee, declaring "there has to come a point at which you say 'enough.'"

President Obama welcomed Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (lee shyehn loong) to the White House to celebrate the 50th anniversary of U.S. diplomatic relations with the Southeast Asian city state. A bus plowed into a highway pole in California's heavily agricultural San Joaquin (san wah-KEEN') Valley, killing four passengers. Actor David Huddleston ("The Big Lebowski"), 85, died in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Nehemiah Persoff is 98. Former Sen. Paul Laxalt, R-Nev., is 95. Rock musician Garth Hudson (The Band) is 80. Singer Kathy Lennon (The Lennon Sisters) is 74. Actor Max Wright is 74. Actress Joanna Cassidy is 72. Actress Kathryn Harrold is 67. Actor Butch Patrick (TV: "The Munsters") is 64. Rock music producer/drummer Butch Vig (Garbage) is 62. Singer Mojo Nixon is 60. Actress Victoria Jackson is 58. Actress Apollonia is 58. Actress Cynthia Stevenson is 55. Actress Mary-Louise Parker is 53. Rock musician John Stanier is 49. Writer-actor-director Kevin Smith is 47. Actress Jacinda Barrett is 45. Actor Sam Worthington is 41. Figure skater Michael Weiss is 41. Actor Edward Furlong is 40. Rock musician Devon Glenn is 37. TV meteorologist Dylan Dreyer (TV: "Today") is 36. Singer Charli XCX is 25. Actress Hallie Eisenberg is 25.

Thought for Today: "The trouble with this country is that there are too many people going about saying, 'The trouble with this country is...'" — Sinclair Lewis, American author (1885-1951).


Update August 1, 2017

Kelly shows his clout: Scaramucci out as WH chief moves in

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly appears at event where President Donald Trump was to bestow the Medal of Honor to retired Army medic James McCloughan during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 31, 2017.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

By Jonathan Lemire,Catherine Lucey, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Firmly taking charge in an unruly White House, former Gen. John Kelly moved in Monday as President Donald Trump's new chief of staff and immediately made sure that Trump's profanity-spouting new communications director was shown the door, ignominiously ousted after less than two weeks on the job.

It was the latest head-snapping sequence of events at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but Trump dismissed any talk of disarray. He insisted in a morning tweet there was "No WH chaos," then followed up in the evening with a satisfied "great day at the White House."

Aiming to instill some discipline in the White House, Kelly showed Anthony Scaramucci the door just days after the new communications director had unleashed an expletive-laced tirade against senior staff members that included vulgar broadsides at then-chief of staff Reince Priebus. In short order, Priebus was pushed aside and replaced by Kelly, whose arrival led in turn to Scaramucci's departure.

The communication director's tenure was the stuff of Shakespearian drama — though brief enough to be just a morbid sonnet.

Scaramucci's exit underscored the challenges that Kelly, the former homeland security chief, faces in bringing order to a West Wing where a wide swath of aides have reported directly to the president, feeling free to walk into Trump's Oval Office or buttonhole him in the hallway to lobby for conflicting agendas. Backstabbing among aides has been rife, and rival camps have jockeyed for position.

And then there is president himself, who uses tweets at all hours to fling out new policy announcements, insult critics and even go after fellow Republicans who don't toe his line.

The ongoing investigation into Russia's meddling in the election is another source of unease. Monday night, The Washington Post reported that Trump himself had dictated the July 8 statement in which his son Donald Jr. described a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer.

The statement said Trump Jr. and other top figures in the Trump campaign "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children" with the lawyer. Emails released later by Trump Jr. showed that the meeting was suggested to the Trump campaign as a means to deliver damaging material about Trump's election opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said Monday night of the Post story, "Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate and not pertinent."

The Associated Press has reported previously that Trump approved of the statement, which was crafted on the flight back from the Group of 20 summit in Germany in early July.

On Kelly's first day, the White House put out word that the retired four-star general had free rein to tighten the chain of command.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Kelly "has the full authority to carry out business as he sees fit" and that all White House staffers will report to him, including powerful aides such as Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Kelly "will bring new structure, discipline and strength" to the White House, she said.

The chief of staff took his oath of office early Monday in an Oval Office ceremony thronged by senior staffers, including Scaramucci. But a short time later, Kelly told the communications director he was out, leading Scaramucci to offer his resignation instead, according to four White House staffers and outside advisers not authorized to speak publicly about personnel matters.

In the brief, cold words of the White House announcement, Scaramucci was leaving because he "felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team." The three-sentence release concluded, "We wish him all the best."

The statement revived the "clean slate" language that former White House press secretary Sean Spicer had used to describe his own reason for resigning on the day Trump brought Scaramucci aboard.

Scaramucci was escorted from the White House grounds, becoming yet another high-ranking official to leave an administration that is barely beyond the six-month mark. He was the third person to hold the communications director title in that time.

While in most administrations the chief of staff closely manages the president's time and others' access to the Oval Office, Priebus never was able to prevent Trump from continuing the same disorderly style he had created atop his business.

Scaramucci had been blocked from joining the administration during the transition by Priebus, only to eventually be hired by Trump a week-and-half ago. That decision, over the objections of Priebus and Bannon, led to the resignation of Spicer and fueled Scaramucci's profane vows of vengeance against White House staffers who had opposed him or leaked to the press.

Days of negative news coverage of Scaramucci's crass rant did not sit well with the president, though Trump himself is no stranger to using coarse language, including boasts of groping women in a 2005 Access Hollywood tape leaked last year.

"The president certainly felt that Anthony's comments were inappropriate for a person in his position," Sanders said when asked about the ouster.

Bannon also told allies that the communications director was a negative distraction. And though Bannon had clashed with Kelly over the implementation of Trump's first travel ban, he pledged to work closely with the new chief of staff.

Scaramucci's allies floated the idea of Scaramucci returning to his chief strategy officer post at the Export-Import Bank. Sanders said he "does not have a role at this time" with the Trump administration.

As the Scaramucci news spread, Kelly was in the East Room, smiling and taking pictures with guests who had gathered for a Medal of Honor presentation. A jovial Spicer also was in attendance, saying he was there to assist with the communications transition, though Sanders said she was not aware of any plans for him to resume his old job.

After swearing in Kelly, Trump convened his full Cabinet, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the target of recent public rebukes from the president. Sanders later brushed aside talk of yet another abrupt shuffle: the idea of Sessions leaving the Justice Department to replace Kelly at Homeland Security. The president has no such plans, she said.

Trump, for his part, ignored the turmoil and declared that his administration was humming along smoothly.
"Overall, I think we're doing incredibly well. The economy is doing incredibly well, and many other things."
___
Lemire reported from New York. Additional reporting by Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Josh Boak and Vivian Salama.
___
Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Lucey at http://twitter.com/@Catherine_Lucey


Don't try this: Thieves steal iPhones from moving truck

A Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 file photo of a customer setting up his new iPhone 7 Plus, right, as he switches from the iPhone 6 at the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL., during the release of the Apple iPhone 7. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch police arrested five Romanian men suspected of stealing iPhones worth 500,000 euros ($590,000) in a dangerous heist on a moving truck, a spokesman said Monday.

The five men, aged from 33 to 43, allegedly stole the iPhones in a late-night raid a week ago by driving a modified van so close to the delivery truck that one of the suspects was able to clamber across the van's hood and break into the truck while it drove along a Dutch road, police spokesman Ed Kraszewski. He said the suspect then passed boxes of iPhones back to the van through a hole cut in its roof.

Kraszewski said police have long been investigating thefts from trucks but remained skeptical that such a heist could succeed. Not anymore.

"The truck was taking its freight from A-to-B and did not stop. Even so, (the phones) were gone," he said. "So it must have happened that way. And now we finally have the evidence, with the van and the loot."

The men were arrested Saturday at a holiday park in the central Netherlands, where police also recovered iPhones and the van they believe was used in the theft. The suspects were to appear Tuesday before an investigating judge.

Such raids have been reported elsewhere in Europe, almost always targeting high-end smartphones, but there have been no arrests in the other cases, Kraszewski said.

Dutch police plan to send fingerprints of the suspects to European colleagues to check for matches in previous thefts.


Transgender US soldier felt 'fired' by Trump's tweet

 

In this July 29, 2017 photo transgender U.S. army captain Jennifer Sims stands on a balcony after an interview with The Associated Press in Beratzhausen near Regensburg, Germany. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

By Julie Watson, Christoph Noelting, Associated Press
BERATZHAUSEN, Germany (AP)
— The subject line read: "Announcing a personal change."

The U.S. Army soldier took a deep breath before hitting the button that sent the email to more than 200 fellow troops.

"All considered, I am, and have been, traversing what is essentially a personal matter, but is something I must address publicly," the email stated. "I am transgender."

The April 13 email officially ended the secret that burned inside Capt. Jennifer Sims, who was known as Jonathan Sims. But the feeling of relief swiftly turned to unease last week after President Donald Trump tweeted that transgender troops were no longer welcome.

"I read the tweet while I was at work and you know it was devastating because I still have work to do and here I am reading basically what sounds like the president of the United States — who is the commander in chief, he is the ultimate boss of the military — telling me and anybody else that is transgender that we are fired," Sims said.

Pentagon officials say the policy allowing transgender troops will remain unchanged without official White House guidance. But for Sims, the uncertainty has been upsetting.

"So in the initial moments after the tweet, I saw myself forced into the state that I was in before I started transitioning — a state of depression, exhaustion and inability to enjoy things," said Sims, 28, who spoke to The Associated Press on her own behalf and not on that of the Army.

The reversal of the Obama administration policy that allows transgender people to serve openly and receive military medical coverage for transitioning from one gender to another also could affect her physically.

Sims has been on hormone therapy by her military doctor since November. If she interrupts the treatment, her body will revert to being male.

"It would be very difficult to have to go through that," said Sims, who is based at Hohenfels, a U.S. Army garrison in the German state of Bavaria.

Growing up in Minnesota and Florida, Sims, a high school football player, never felt comfortable being male. The son and grandson of military veterans quietly came to terms with identifying as a woman a year after joining the Army R.O.T.C., but outwardly kept it a secret "because I wanted to continue serving," Sims said.

Sims stopped socializing, feeling drained over worries about being masculine enough, and instead focused on work, serving in Afghanistan, Indonesia and Germany. Her sister, Natasha Sims, 24, said she saw "emptiness" in her eyes.

After the Defense Department announced in 2015 that it was considering allowing transgender troops to serve openly, Sims told Natasha and their parents. When the policy became official in June 2016, Sims said "it was the best day of my life really."

Sims made an appointment with the behavioral health office, was given a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and started hormone therapy.

Five months later, she decided to shed her secret, first telling her closest colleagues, Capt. Brandon Shorter and another infantry officer.

They were at a loss for words.

After Shorter got home, he texted Sims about how that was brave.

"Infantry officers are best described as brutish. So Capt. Sims pulled me and another brute aside face to face. That took a lot of courage and that's the first thing that went through my mind, mixed in with surprise," Shorter said.
Sims then announced the "personal change" to more than 200 other troops.

It was not an emotional email. The seasoned military officer wrote how a lifetime of discomfort had peaked three years ago. Sims then outlined the steps she would take to fully transition to a woman.

"Officially in DEERS, my gender will remain male until my medical transition is complete, which means I will still comport to male standards and use male facilities," she wrote, referring to the acronym for the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, a kind of HR database for U.S. military personnel.

"While it is my preference for people to refer to me with female pronouns, if you are uncomfortable with this, there is no requirement to do so, I only respectfully request you refer to me by my proper name, Captain Sims," the email stated.

Sims wrote that she will be more productive not having to "live two personas."

Five soldiers sent emails back with words of encouragement. Most didn't respond. For a few days, there were murmurs of "hey did you see the email?" Some said they would not use the feminine pronoun until Sims' Army paperwork made it official.

The force had just undergone training explaining what was expected in regards to transgender soldiers.
Sims is the first transgender person Shorter has known.

The unit is basically full of "young men wanting to chew on nails and prove how tough they are," Shorter said. Only about eight women are among the 500 soldiers in the battalion.

Shorter had a lot of questions "being naturally curious and wanting to be a good friend because we didn't really have a personal relationship. He's, excuse me, she's — see I still slip up sometimes — a single captain. I'm married with two daughters. Our lives are different."

Shorter, 32, of Alanson, Michigan, describes himself as conservative. He said he struggles with his beliefs about what's appropriate. An assistant operations officer for the battalion, Shorter is concerned about how Sims cannot deploy while undergoing medical procedures.

But Shorter, speaking on his own behalf and not that of the Army, said he would be "incredibly disappointed" if Sims, the best signal officer he has seen, were kicked out.

After Trump's tweet, a few soldiers, including Shorter, asked Sims how she was doing. She didn't know what to say.

Her pills will run out in three months. Doctors recommend 12 months of hormone therapy before surgery. The cost of her surgery can run close to $50,000, which Sims was expecting the military would help cover.

"I had waited so long just to be able to tell the world this is who I am," Sims said.
_____
Watson reported from San Diego.


Hawaii allows first lab to begin testing medical marijuana

 

In this file Feb. 17, 2016, photo, plants grow at the home of Jeremy Nickle, owner of Hawaiian Holy Smokes, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

By Cathy Bussewitz, Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii approved its first laboratory to begin testing samples of medical marijuana 17 years after use of the drug was legalized in the state.

On Monday, the state Department of Health certified Honolulu-based lab Steep Hill Hawaii. That brings Hawaii closer to the long-awaited date when dispensaries can sell their products.

Hawaii was among the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 2000. But the state didn't legalize dispensaries until 2015, leaving about 17,000 patients to grow or obtain the drug on their own.

Then medical marijuana dispensaries began opening in Hawaii this summer, but they could not sell their products because the state had not certified any labs to conduct the required testing. So they conducted outreach instead.

"This is a big milestone, and it couldn't have come any sooner, because many people within the industry were getting frustrated and a little angry at the time it has taken to get to this point," said state Sen. Will Espero, a Democrat. "But now that we are here, hopefully the next phase in terms of sales will happen quickly and everything will go smoothly."

Once the lab receives samples, it will take about four days to test and return products to dispensaries for sale, said Dana Ciccone, owner of Steep Hill Hawaii.

Then the dispensary will undergo one final inspection by the Department of Health with the product present, department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said. That on-site inspection and accompanying paperwork could take 24 to 48 hours, she said.

Steep Hill worked tirelessly over the past year to receive certification so patients could finally access safe, legal cannabis, Ciccone said in an email. "Today is a big step in the right direction for Hawaii's Medical Cannabis industry," he said.

The product at Honolulu-based dispensary Aloha Green has been ready for months, and dispensary CEO James H.Q. Lee said he hopes to begin the lab testing process Tuesday.

"We've been waiting, so that's very good news. I think the patients will be happy," Lee said.

But Lee still has questions about what size sample to prepare, and he hasn't gotten a definitive answer from the Department of Health, he said.

Maui Grown Therapies also is ready to begin testing its product, said Teri Freitas Gorman, director of community relations and patient affairs at the dispensary.

"We've been waiting for this day for quite some time, and now that it's here it's very exciting news for us," she said. "Being on a neighbor island, there's a little bit of a logistical hurdle that we have to overcome, but we'll overcome it."


Today in History - Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, Aug. 1, the 213th day of 2017. There are 152 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 1, 1957, the United States and Canada announced they had agreed to create the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).

On this date:

In 1714, Britain's Queen Anne died at age 49; she was succeeded by George I.

In 1876, Colorado was admitted as the 38th state.

In 1907, the U.S. Army Signal Corps established an aeronautical division, the forerunner of the U.S. Air Force.

In 1913, the Joyce Kilmer poem "Trees" was first published in "Poetry: A Magazine of Verse."

In 1936, the Olympics opened in Berlin with a ceremony presided over by Adolf Hitler.

In 1944, an uprising broke out in Warsaw, Poland, against Nazi occupation; the revolt lasted two months before collapsing.

In 1947, Mickey Spillane's first novel, "I, the Jury," featuring the debut of private eye Mike Hammer, was published.

In 1966, Charles Joseph Whitman, 25, went on an armed rampage at the University of Texas in Austin that killed 14 people, most of whom were shot by Whitman while he was perched in the clock tower of the main campus building. (Whitman, who had also slain his wife and mother hours earlier, was finally gunned down by police.)

In 1975, a 35-nation summit in Finland concluded with the signing of a declaration known as the Helsinki Accords dealing with European security, human rights and East-West contacts.

In 1977, former U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, working as a traffic reporter for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, was killed with his cameraman, George Spears, when their helicopter ran out of fuel and crashed; Powers was 47.

In 1981, the rock music video channel MTV made its debut.

In 1994, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley confirmed they'd been secretly married 11 weeks earlier. (Presley filed for divorce from Jackson in Jan. 1996, citing irreconcilable differences.)

Ten years ago: The eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge, a major Minneapolis artery, collapsed into the Mississippi River during evening rush hour, killing 13 people.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama made his rival's personal millions a front-and-center issue in the race for the White House, telling a swing-state audience in Ohio that Mitt Romney "is asking you to pay more so that people like him can get a big tax cut." Four teams from China, South Korea and Indonesia were kicked out of the women's badminton doubles at the London Olympics for trying to lose on purpose in order to earn an easier matchup in the knockout round. Host country Britain picked up its first two gold medals as Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won the final of the women's pair at the rowing regatta and cyclist Bradley Wiggins took the time trial.

One year ago: The United States launched multiple airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Libya, opening a new front against the group at the request of the United Nations-backed Libyan government. President Barack Obama, speaking at the annual convention of the Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta, said the U.S. had made serious strides in improving services for military veterans, but that work remained to overcome shortcomings in the delivery of health care, housing and mental health services. Vice President Joe Biden officiated a gay wedding, a first for the early proponent of same-sex marriage as he presided over the union of Joe Mahshie and Brian Mosteller, both longtime White House aides, at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington.

Today's Birthdays: Singer Ramblin' Jack Elliott is 86. Former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., is 80. Actor Giancarlo Giannini is 75. Basketball Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams is 67. Blues singer-musician Robert Cray is 64. Singer Michael Penn is 59. Rock singer Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) is 58. Rock singer-musician Suzi Gardner (L7) is 57. Rapper Chuck D (Public Enemy) is 57. Actor Jesse Borrego is 55. Actor Demian Bichir is 54. Rapper Coolio is 54. Actor John Carroll Lynch is 54. Rock singer Adam Duritz (Counting Crows) is 53. Movie director Sam Mendes is 52. Country singer George Ducas is 51. Country musician Charlie Kelley is 49. Actress Jennifer Gareis is 47. Actor Charles Malik Whitfield is 45. Actress Tempestt Bledsoe is 44. Actor Jason Momoa is 38. Actress Honeysuckle Weeks is 38. Singer Ashley Parker Angel is 36. Actress Taylor Fry is 36. Actor Elijah Kelley is 31. Actor James Francis Kelly is 28. Actress Ella Wahlestedt is 19.

Thought for Today: "Pride, like humility, is destroyed by one's insistence that he possesses it." — Kenneth Bancroft Clark, American educator and psychologist (1914-2005).
 


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

China reports no major collapses following powerful quake

Key facts about Guam, the center of US-North Korea tension

Ricky Martin defends Versace murder drama as truthful

It's Not Delivery. It's DiGiorno Pizza spilled on interstate

Today in History Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017


Strong quake strikes southwest China, 13 dead, 175 injured

Trump, North Korea trade escalating threats of fire

DJ in groping case says he may have touched Swift's ribs

Glen Campbell, 'Rhinestone Cowboy' singer, dies at age 81

Today in History - Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017


Philippine president on human rights: "Don't go there"

Australian official says gay marriage could be law this year

UN chief supports UN commission on Syria despite resignation

Hackers demand millions in ransom for stolen HBO data

Today in History - Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017


Eiffel Tower suspect says he was in touch with IS member

Fire strikes another tower in the Dubai Marina

Rolling Stones guitarist feared the worst with cancer call

'Dark Tower' tops slow weekend, 'Detroit' disappoints

Today in History - Monday, Aug. 7, 2017


Today in History - Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017

Huff, puff, pass? AG's pot fury not echoed by task force

China sentences ex-provincial leader to life for corruption

Diplomat: $1 billion in NKorea exports would be banned by UN

Hit song 'Despacito' becomes most viewed video on YouTube

Today in History - Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017


Trump says he hopes for 'honest' outcome of Russia probe

Toyota, Mazda plan EV partnership, possible US plant

Australia police: Men tried to get bomb on Sydney plane

Vietnam regrets Germany's accusation it kidnapped exile

Today in History - Friday, Aug. 4, 2017


Pentagon: 2 US service members killed in Afghanistan blast

Congress OKs big boost in GI Bill college aid for veterans

Trump blasts Russia sanctions bill _ but still signs it

Crowd-funded animated short about gay love goes viral

Today in History - Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017


Man freed after airline plot arrest shocked to be questioned

Lawsuit: Fox coordinated with White House on false story

Islamic school seeks to steer sons of militants to new path

Poles commemorate Warsaw Uprising on 73rd anniversary

Today in History - Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017


Kelly shows his clout: Scaramucci out as WH chief moves in

Don't try this: Thieves steal iPhones from moving truck

Transgender US soldier felt 'fired' by Trump's tweet

Hawaii allows first lab to begin testing medical marijuana

Today in History - Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017

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