AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT - 660 NEWS
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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Last Updated Jul 22, 2018 at 9:20 pm MDT

After a week of walkbacks, Trump returns to Russia doubting

WASHINGTON (AP) — Capping a week of drama, back tracking, a double negative and blistering statements from allies about his attitude toward Russian election interference, President Donald Trump on Sunday was back to referring to “a big hoax.”

Trump spent days trying to reassure the country that he accepts that the longtime foe interfered in the 2016 election after his public undermining of U.S. intelligence agencies in Helsinki while standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Trump cast doubt once again in a Sunday tweet, diminishing at least the significance, if not the existence, of the interference and the U.S. investigation into Russia’s actions.

“So President Obama knew about Russia before the Election,” Trump tweeted. “Why didn’t he do something about it? Why didn’t he tell our campaign? Because it is all a big hoax, that’s why, and he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win!!!”

It was not immediately clear whether Trump was suggesting that the entire notion of Russian interference — U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously concur it took place and Trump reluctantly accepted their assessment amid the firestorm — was fraudulent, or just the investigation of potential collusion by Trump associates with Russian agents.

Either way, it appeared to keep alive a controversy that had separated Trump from aides and longtime political supporters and brought some of the most striking rebukes of his tenure in the Oval Office.

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Boat accident survivors join hundreds at Branson memorial

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — The 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank in a Missouri lake were remembered Sunday during a service attended by hundreds of people in the tourism community of Branson.

A church bell at Williams Chapel at College of the Ozarks chimed 17 times for those who died Thursday at Table Rock Lake.

More than a dozen survivors of the tragedy, along with their family and friends, filled the front pews of the church to organ music. Although a patrolman guarded their privacy, he allowed one attendee, Carmen Lawson, to deliver pink and red roses after the service to a family that lost nine loved ones.

“It was such a tragedy,” said Lawson, 61, of Branson, who delivered the flowers. “I feel for the family.”

Branson Mayor Karen Best recalled the desperate family members who turned to City Hall for information about their loved ones.

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Hero grandma, couple on 45th anniversary among boat victims

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — The 17 people killed when a tourist boat capsized in a Missouri lake included nine members of one family, a couple celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary and a grandmother who family members say saved her granddaughter’s life. A memorial service was scheduled for Sunday afternoon for those who died when the vessel, known as a duck boat, sank Thursday evening.

A look at the dead:

WILLIAM ASHER, 69, MISSOURI

ROSEMARIE HAMANN, 68, MISSOURI

Friends say Rosemarie Hamann and William Asher were a fun-loving couple who loved music and dancing. They lived in the St. Louis suburb of Affton.

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Gunman in Trader Joe’s standoff was feuding with grandmother

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A feud between a man and his grandmother over his girlfriend staying at the grandmother’s home exploded into violence that ultimately led to him taking dozens of people hostage inside a Los Angeles supermarket, a relative said Sunday.

Investigators believe Gene Evin Atkins, 28, shot his grandmother several times and wounded his girlfriend at their South Los Angeles home on Saturday afternoon before he led police on a chase, while exchanging gunfire with officers, crashed into a pole outside the Trader Joe’s in the city’s Silver Lake section and ran inside.

Atkins was booked Sunday on suspicion of murder after an employee was killed as he ran into the supermarket, police said.

His cousin, Charlene Egland, told The Associated Press that he had been arguing with his grandmother — who had raised him since he was 7 years old — “on and off for about two or three weeks” over his girlfriend staying at the elderly woman’s home.

“She didn’t want the girl over there anymore,” Egland said.

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Judge, calm in court, takes hard line on splitting families

SAN DIEGO (AP) — U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw appeared conflicted in early May on whether to stop families from being separated at the border. He challenged the Trump administration to explain how families were getting a fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution, but also expressed reluctance to get too deeply involved with immigration enforcement.

“There are so many (enforcement) decisions that have to be made, and each one is individual,” he said in his calm, almost monotone voice. “How can the court issue such a blanket, overarching order telling the attorney general, either release or detain (families) together?”

Sabraw showed how more than seven weeks later in a blistering opinion faulting the administration and its “zero tolerance” policy for a “crisis” of its own making. He went well beyond the American Civil Liberties Union’s initial request to halt family separation — which President Donald Trump effectively did on his own amid a backlash — by imposing a deadline of this Thursday to reunify more than 2,500 children with their families.

Unyielding insistence on meeting his deadline, displayed in a string of hearings he ordered for updates, has made the San Diego jurist a central figure in a drama that has captivated international audiences with emotional accounts of toddlers and teens being torn from their parents.

Circumstances changed dramatically after the ACLU sued the government in March on behalf of a Congolese woman and a Brazilian woman who were split from their children. Three days after the May hearing, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the zero tolerance policy on illegal entry was in full effect, leading to the separation of more than 2,300 children in five weeks.

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Ailing auto CEO Marchionne had multiple roles, no script

MILAN (AP) — Sergio Marchionne’s achievements as one of the automotive world’s most charismatic chief executives include the bold trans-Atlantic merger of Italian carmaker Fiat and U.S. No. 3 Chrysler after he restored both to health.

But Marchionne told analysts during a big presentation last month that his true legacy at Fiat Chrysler Automotive would be the culture of a corporation where “mediocrity is never, ever worth the trip.”

The Italian-Canadian always insisted a replacement would come from the ranks of his hand-picked and tested team, managers who met his exacting standards. Asked if he planned to leave a script behind when he stepped down next year as planned, Marchionne said that wouldn’t be necessary.

“There is no script or instructions. Instructions are institutional and temporary,” he said. “FCA is a culture of leaders.”

Marchionne, 66, was hastily replaced as CEO of Fiat Chrysler on Saturday after the company announced that his health had taken a turn for the worse following shoulder surgery last month in Zurich, Switzerland. Details of the complications and his condition were not disclosed, but the company said they prevented him from returning to work.

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Mexican president-elect vows improvements to deter migration

MEXICO CITY (AP) — President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Sunday released a seven-page letter he sent to U.S. President Donald Trump detailing how he plans to improve Mexico’s economy and security when he takes office in December so that Mexicans do not feel the need to migrate.

“There will be many changes,” he promised in the letter. “And in this new atmosphere of progress with well-being, I’m sure we can reach agreements to confront together the migration phenomenon as well as the problem of border insecurity.”

Lopez Obrador also suggested the two countries draft a development plan backed by public funds and invite Central American countries to join, with the aim of making it “economically unnecessary” for Central Americans to migrate.

Marcelo Ebrard, who is slated to become Mexico’s foreign minister, read the letter aloud to reporters gathered at Lopez Obrador’s political party headquarters. Ebrard said Trump had received the letter.

The incoming Mexican president plans to cut government salaries, perks and jobs. Savings from those cuts, he says, will be directed toward social programs and infrastructure. He also plans to reduce taxes for the private sector in the hopes of spurring investment and job creation.

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Suicide bombing in Kabul kills 14, Afghanistan’s VP unharmed

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber carried out an attack near the Kabul airport Sunday, killing 14 people and narrowly missing Afghanistan’s vice-president, who was returning home after living in Turkey for over a year, security officials said.

The blast occurred near Kabul International Airport shortly after the convoy of the controversial vice-president had just left the airport, Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.

Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former Uzbek warlord, and his entourage were unharmed, said Danish.

Danish said that 14 people, including both civilians and military forces, were killed in the attack and 50 others wounded.

The Islamic States group’s local affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack on its Amaaq News Agency website, claiming it had killed and wounded over 115 people.

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Uber suspends driver who live-streamed St. Louis passengers

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Ride-sharing company Uber has suspended a driver who recorded hundreds of St. Louis-area riders without their permission and streamed the live video online.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported 32-year-old Jason Gargac, of Florissant, Missouri, has given about 700 rides in the area since March. Almost all have been streamed to his channel on the live video website Twitch, where he goes by the username “JustSmurf.”

Gargac said he is just trying to “capture the natural interactions between myself and the passengers.”

But some riders said they felt their privacy had been violated. Of about a dozen the newspaper interviewed, all said they didn’t know they were livestreamed and wouldn’t have consented.

After the story’s publication, Uber said it was suspending his use of the app due to “troubling behaviour.”

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Molinari survives wild day to win British Open

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (AP) — Francesco Molinari didn’t get the loudest cheers for the best golf at British Open.

He was overlooked for so much of Sunday playing alongside Tiger Woods, who caused pure pandemonium at Carnoustie by taking the lead in the final round of a major for the first time in nine years.

Molinari settled for the best cheer of them all.

The last one.

Amid so much chaos — seven players atop the leaderboard, six of them still tied on the back nine — Molinari played a steady hand by going the entire weekend without a bogey and finishing with a 5-foot birdie putt that secured his place in history as Italy’s first major champion.