War hero and presidential candidate John McCain has died
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. John McCain, who faced down his captors in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp with jut-jawed defiance and later turned his rebellious streak into a 35-year political career that took him to Congress and the Republican presidential nomination, died Saturday after battling brain cancer for more than a year. He was 81.
McCain, with his irascible grin and fighter-pilot moxie, was a fearless and outspoken voice on policy and politics to the end, unswerving in his defense of democratic values and unflinching in his criticism of his fellow Republican, President Donald Trump. He was elected to the Senate from Arizona six times but twice thwarted in seeking the presidency.
An upstart presidential bid in 2000 didn’t last long. Eight years later, he fought back from the brink of defeat to win the GOP nomination, only to be overpowered by Democrat Barack Obama. McCain chose a little-known Alaska governor as his running mate in that race, and turned Sarah Palin into a national political figure.
After losing to Obama in an electoral landslide, McCain returned to the Senate determined not to be defined by a failed presidential campaign in which his reputation as a maverick had faded. In the politics of the moment and in national political debate over the decades, McCain energetically advanced his ideas and punched back hard at critics — Trump not least among them.
The scion of a decorated military family, McCain embraced his role as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, pushing for aggressive U.S. military intervention overseas and eager to contribute to “defeating the forces of radical Islam that want to destroy America.”
Democrats OK limiting party leaders’ role in picking nominee
CHICAGO (AP) — After two years of sometimes ugly public fighting, Democratic Party leaders on Saturday voted to limit their own high-profile roles in choosing presidential nominees, giving even more weight to the outcome of state primaries and caucuses.
The debate over the influence of party insiders known as superdelegates was evidence of the fallout from the 2016 fight between eventual nominee Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. His supporters accused the national party of tipping the scales in Clinton’s favor.
The change, which affects the hundreds of Democratic National Committee members, elected officials and party elders who attend presidential conventions as automatic delegates, was seen as a victory for the party chairman, Tom Perez. It comes with the November election nearing, when GOP control of Congress is at stake, and a potentially bruising nominating battle shaping up for 2020, when President Donald Trump is up for re-election.
“We should never ever confuse unity and unanimity,” Perez said after the vote. “Today, demonstrated the values of the Democratic Party.”
Under the new rules for 2020, superdelegates still will be automatic delegates to the party’s convention. But they will not have a vote on the first presidential ballot if the convention remains contested, which is a distinct possibility given the number of Democrats considering running.
Pope in Ireland decries abuse cover-up, meets with victims
DUBLIN (AP) — Pope Francis faced a lukewarm reception and scattered protests Saturday on his trip to Ireland, with even his vow to rid the church of the “scourge” of sexual abuse and his outrage at those “repugnant crimes” dismissed as a disappointment by some of Ireland’s wounded victims.
But others who met with him in private left heartened that he would respond to their plight, including two of the thousands of children who were forcibly put up for adoption for the shame of having been born to unwed mothers. They said Francis described the corruption and cover-up in the church as “caca” — translated by the Vatican translator for the English speakers as “filth as one sees in the toilet.”
The abuse scandal — which has exploded anew in the U.S. but has convulsed Ireland since the 1990s with revelations of unfathomable violence and humiliation against women and children — took center stage on the first day of Francis’ two-day trip. The visit was originally intended to celebrate Catholic families.
Francis responded to the outcry by vowing to end sex abuse and cover-up during a speech to Irish government authorities at Dublin Castle.
“The failure of ecclesiastical authorities — bishops, religious superiors, priests and others — to adequately address these repugnant crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community,” he told them. “I myself share these sentiments.”
‘Way too short:’ A 93-year-old meets his N. Korean brother
DONGDUCHEON, South Korea (AP) — Ninety-three-year-old Ham Sung-chan’s eyes widen with excitement as he describes the shock and euphoria of reuniting with his baby brother, now 79, during three days of family reunions in North Korea.
But there’s a deep and bitter regret, too, and it stems from a simple bit of math: After nearly 70 years of a separation forced by a devastating 1950-53 war that killed and injured millions and cemented the division of the Korean Peninsula into North and South, Ham and his North Korean brother only got a total of 12 hours together.
Ham was one of the 197 South Koreans who visited North Korea’s scenic Diamond Mountain resort from last Monday to Wednesday for rare reunions with relatives in the North. The heart-wrenching images of elderly Koreans embracing each other for the last time continued in a second set of reunions involving around 300 South Koreans that took place from Friday to Sunday.
“There’s a large sense of dejection that has set in,” said Ham, who described the details of his trip in an Associated Press interview in his home in Dongducheon, north of Seoul. “The time we spent together was too short, way too short. It wasn’t a week; it wasn’t 10 days. Just after we met, we had to depart.”
Here’s how Ham described the brief but intense time he spent with his North Korean brother after so many decades apart:
‘Private’ mess: Musk’s credibility goes from bad to worse
DETROIT (AP) — First it was the shocking tweet that funding was secured and Tesla may go private, then a statement that the money wasn’t locked down after all. Two weeks later it’s never mind, the whole deal is off.
Welcome to the disarray of Elon Musk, the impulsive genius and architect of cutting-edge car, rocket and solar panel companies built nearly from scratch.
Chaos, though, comes with a price. Experts say it all could wind up with Tesla exposed to a fine for misleading investors. And even though Musk has almost legendary status, the episode could further erode his credibility with stakeholders who have endured multiple broken promises and years of losses as a public company.
“Prior to the go-private episode, his credibility was in question, although investors still had overall confidence in the guy,” Erik Gordon, a business and law professor at the University of Michigan, said Saturday. “This whole go-private episode has taken his credibility close to zero.”
The bizarre story began Aug. 7 when Musk, while driving to the airport, tweeted he was considering taking the company private and that funding had been secured for the deal. Investors would be paid $420 per share, a 23 percent premium over the Aug. 6 closing price. No other details were given, but Tesla’s stock shot up 11 percent that day. At $420, buying all Tesla shares would cost around $72 billion.
Money and loyalty: A look inside dramatic Trump-Cohen rift
NEW YORK (AP) — For Michael Cohen and Donald Trump, it’s always been about money and loyalty.
Those were guiding principles for Cohen when he served as more than just a lawyer for Trump during the developer’s rise from celebrity to president-elect. Cohen brokered deals for the Trump Organization, profited handsomely from a side venture into New York City’s real estate and taxi industries and worked to make unflattering stories about Trump disappear.
Money and loyalty also drove Cohen to make guilty pleas this past week in a spinoff from the swirling investigations battering the Trump White House.
Feeling abandoned by Trump and in dire financial straits, the man who once famously declared that he would “take a bullet” for Trump now is pledging loyalty to his own family and actively seeking to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The unraveling of their relationship was laid bare Tuesday when Cohen pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges and said in federal court that he broke campaign finance laws as part of a cover-up operation that Trump had directed.
7 arrested in protest over torn-down Confederate statue
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Seven people were arrested Saturday at a rally calling for a century-old Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina to be returned after it was yanked down five days ago.
About a dozen people carrying Confederate flags were met by dozens of protesters that don’t want the memorial known as “Silent Sam” to return to the campus in Chapel Hill.
Television footage and videos posted to social media showed several punches thrown and at least one man handcuffed after he tried to burn a Confederate flag taken from another man’s hands.
None of the seven people arrested was affiliated with the school, Chancellor Carol Folt said.
Three were charged with assault, two were charged with assault, destruction of property and inciting a riot; one was charged with destruction of property and one was charged with resisting an officer, the university said in a statement. Officials did not release their names or say if they were protesting for or against the statue.
As more immigrants wear monitors, effectiveness is disputed
EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Federal authorities’ shift away from separating immigrant families caught in the U.S. illegally now means that many parents and children are quickly released, only to be fitted with electronic monitoring devices — a practice which both the government and advocacy groups oppose for different reasons.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is issuing thousands of 5.5-ounce (155-gram) ankle monitors that immigrants call grilletes, or electronic shackles, spelling big profits for GEO Group, the country’s second largest private prison contractor.
Government officials say the devices are effective in getting people to show up to immigration court, but that they stop working once deportation proceedings begin. The reason, according to attorneys and people who wore the devices or helped monitor those wearing them: Some immigrants simply ditch them and disappear.
Immigrant advocates and legal experts argue, meanwhile, that the devices — which are commonly used for criminal parolees — are inappropriate and inhumane for people seeking U.S. asylum. The American Bar Association has called doing so “a form of restriction on liberty similar to detention, rather than a meaningful alternative to detention.”
Congress first established the program in 2002, though GPS monitors grew more common as deportations rose to record levels under President Barack Obama’s administration, averaging more than 385,000 annually from 2008-2012. Their use increased even more after 2014, when thousands of unaccompanied minors and families began traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border and asking for asylum, fleeing gang and drug smugglers or domestic violence in Central America.
Hawaii emerges from threat as storm veers away from islands
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii emerged Saturday from the threat of a potentially devastating hurricane after historic amounts of rain forced evacuations on some islands but damage appeared less than feared.
Tropical Storm Lane, once known as Hurricane Lane, began to break apart as it veered west into the open Pacific, leaving behind sighs of relief and plenty of cleanup, especially on the Big Island where rainfall totals approached 4 feet (1.2 meters).
No storm-related deaths have been reported, though Big Island authorities said they plucked families from floodwaters and landslides closed roads.
The National Weather Service canceled all storm warnings for the state, several hours after shopkeepers in Honolulu’s tourist-heavy areas already started taking down plywood meant to protect windows if the storm made it that far.
Preliminary figures from the weather service show that Lane dropped the fourth-highest amount of rain for a hurricane to hit the United States since 1950. Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas a year ago, topped the list.
Hold the Mayo! Florida town is changing its name temporarily
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Mayo, Florida is holding the mayo, at least for a few days.
The mayor of this tiny town of less than 1,500 residents, located where Florida’s Panhandle morphs into a peninsula, is announcing Saturday that the city is switching its name to “Miracle Whip.” But it’s a joke.
The name change started as a secret, tongue-in-cheek marketing proposal for the Kraft Heinz-owned mayonnaise-alternative. Videographers for Miracle Whip on Saturday wanted to capture the shock of residents when they hear that the name of their town is being changed to a corporate brand. Representatives of the condiment planned to spend the next few days filming their jocular efforts to get residents to remove mayonnaise from their homes.
The town’s elected officials say they will let residents in on the joke after a few days, but not before street signs and the name on the water tower have been switched out. The town located halfway between Tallahassee and Gainesville is getting between $15,000 and $25,000 for the name change, and the money will be used for city beautification measures.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Mayo’s mayor ran with the concept, insisting it would be a good idea to make the name change permanent.