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AP News in Brief at 6:04 a.m. EDT

"Phil Ball" (2020-07-27)


Trump says virus in US will get worse before it gets better

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump warned on Tuesday that the "nasty horrible´" coronavirus will get worse in the U.S.
before it gets better, but he also tried to paint a rosy picture of efforts to conquer the disease that has claimed more than 140,000 American lives in just five months.

He also professed a newfound respect for the protective face masks he has seldom worn. He pulled one from his pocket in the White House briefing room but didn't put it on.

After a three-month hiatus from his freewheeling daily virus briefings, Trump returned to the podium, keeping the stage to himself without the public health experts who were staples of his previous events but keeping close to scripted remarks prepared by aides.

Besides declaring support for masks as a way to fight the pandemic, he admonished young people against crowding bars and spreading the disease.

It all marked a delayed recognition by Trump that the economic reopening he's been championing since April - and, more importantly, his reelection - were imperiled by spiking cases nationwide.


Silent spread of virus keeps scientists grasping for clues

One of the great mysteries of the coronavirus is how quickly it rocketed around the world.

It first flared in central China and, within three months, was on every continent but Antarctica, shutting down daily life for millions.

Behind the rapid spread was something that initially caught scientists off guard, baffled health authorities and undermined early containment efforts - the virus could be spread by seemingly healthy people.

As workers return to offices, children prepare to return to schools and those desperate for normalcy again visit malls and restaurants, the emerging science points to a menacing reality: If people who appear healthy can transmit the illness, it may be impossible to contain.

"It can be a killer and then 40 percent of people don´t even know they have it," said Dr.

Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute. "We have to get out of the denial mode, because it´s real."

Researchers have exposed the frightening likelihood of silent spread of the virus by asymptomatic and presymptomatic carriers. But how major a role seemingly healthy people play in swelling the ranks of those infected remains unanswered - and at the top of the scientific agenda.


China says US orders it to close its consulate in Houston


said Wednesday that it has ordered China to close its consulate in Houston "to protect American intellectual property and American´s private information."

China condemned the move, which comes at a time of rising tensions between the world´s two largest economies.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin called it "an outrageous and unjustified move that will sabotage relations between the two countries."

He warned of firm countermeasures if the U.S. does not reverse its decision, which he said the consulate was informed of on Tuesday.

"The unilateral closure of China´s consulate general in Houston within a short period of time is an unprecedented escalation of its recent actions against China," Wang said at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Besides its embassy in Beijing, the U.S.

has five consulates in mainland China, according to its website. They are in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Shenyang.


'Very frightening': Opposition grows to US agents in cities

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Trump administration is facing growing pushback - in the courts and on the streets - to sending federal agents to Portland, Oregon, where protests have spiraled into violence, and vowing to do the same in other Democratic-led cities.

Far from tamping down the unrest that followed George Floyd´s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, the presence of federal agents on the streets of progressive Portland - and particularly allegations they have whisked people away in unmarked cars without probable cause - has energized two months of nightly protests that had begun to devolve into smaller, chaotic crowds.

President Donald Trump's administration also faces multiple lawsuits questioning its authority to use broad policing powers in cities.

One filed Tuesday says federal agents are violating protesters' 10th Amendment rights by engaging in police activities designated to local and state governments. The legal action was filed by the Portland-based Western States Center, which helps organize and promote the rights of communities of color and low-income people.

Oregon´s attorney general sued last week, asking a judge to block federal agents´ actions.

The state argued that masked agents have arrested people on the street, far from the U.S. courthouse that's become a target of vandalism, with no probable cause.

"It is time for the Trump troops to go home and focus their attention on other activities," Democratic Gov.
Kate Brown said on MSNBC.


Cops: 14 injured after shooting outside Chicago funeral home

CHICAGO (AP) - Fourteen people were injured, one person was being questioned and multiple suspects were being sought after gunfire erupted outside a funeral home on Chicago´s South Side where at least one squad car was present, police officials said Tuesday.

First Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter said mourners outside a funeral home in the Gresham neighborhood were fired upon from a passing vehicle.

Carter said several targets of the shooting returned fire. The vehicle later crashed and the occupants fled in several directions. Carter said all the victims were adults.

A person of interest was being questioned Tuesday night but no arrests had been made, said police spokesman Hector Alfaro.

The victims were taken by the Chicago Fire Department to nearby hospitals in serious condition, said spokesman Larry Langford.

They include at least four women between the ages of 25 and 38, one of whom was shot in the chest, police said. Other victims include a 40-year-old man who was shot in the chest, arm and forearm, and two men, 32 and 22, who were shot in a hand, police said.

Police said the shooting happened at or near the site of a funeral or post-funeral event for a man fatally shot last week in the Englewood neighborhood.


Trump has been on both sides of the states' rights argument

WASHINGTON (AP) - When it comes to states' rights, President Donald Trump is all over the map.

To battle the coronavirus, he has told states they are largely on their own. But when it comes to stamping out protests in cities led by Democrats, Trump is sending in federal troops and agents - even when local leaders are begging him to butt out.

It is a driven-by-expedience approach that has been a hallmark of his stormy presidency, one that has little to do with ideology and more to do with Trump´s reelection efforts.

"After seeing Trump in the White House for three-and-a-half years, anyone expecting to find classical ideological consistency is bound to be mistaken," said Andrew J.

Polsky, a professor of political science at Hunter College. "All of this," he said, "is done for partisan political purposes with an eye toward the election."

For months now as he has tried to skirt responsibility for the nation's flawed response to the coronavirus, Trump has put the onus on states, first to acquire supplies like protective gear and testing agents and then to scale testing and contact tracing.


Elizabeth Warren's new role: Key Joe Biden policy adviser

WASHINGTON (AP) - Joe Biden accused Elizabeth Warren last year of holding an "angry, unyielding viewpoint." She embraced that label and slammed Biden as "naive" for thinking he could work with Republicans as president.

She warned Democrats against picking a "Washington insider" and pointedly refused to endorse Biden until weeks after exiting the race.

Now, those bitter primary clashes are a distant memory.

Warren, a Massachusetts senator and leading progressive, has become an unlikely confidant and adviser to Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
They talk every 10 days or so, according to aides to both politicians who spoke on condition of anonymity to freely describe their relationship. Those forums have provided opportunities for Warren to make a case on top policy issues to Biden, who ran a more centrist primary campaign.

He adopted Warren-endorsed plans on personal bankruptcy, expanding Social Security benefits and canceling student-loan debt for millions of Americans.

She also helped devise important portions of his post-pandemic economic recovery proposals.

Warren, meanwhile, is lending Biden her progressive credentials and frequently hosts campaign events for him, including one recent fundraiser that brought in $6 million. Only former President Barack Obama secured a greater haul.


Powerful 7.8 quake hits Alaska isles; tsunami threat over

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A powerful 7.8 earthquake struck the Alaska Peninsula late Tuesday, triggering a tsunami warning that sent residents fleeing to higher ground before it was called off without any damaging waves.

According to the U.S.

Geological Survey, the 7.8 magnitude quake struck Tuesday at 10:12 p.m. local time. The quake was centered in waters 65 miles (105 kilometers) south-southeast of Perryville, Alaska at a depth of 17 miles (28 km), deeper than an earlier estimate.

The quake triggered tsunami warning for a South Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands that was called off early Wednesday about two hours after the quake.

Tsunami warning sirens could be heard blaring in videos posted on social media as residents heeded warnings to evacuate.

On Kodiak Island, the local high school opened its doors for evacuees, as did the local Catholic school, the Anchorage Daily New s reported.


Crisis hits Lebanon's hospitals, among the best in Mideast

BEIRUT (AP) - Lebanon's hospitals, long considered among the best in the Middle East, are cracking under the country's financial crisis, struggling to pay staff, keep equipment running or even stay open amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

Private hospitals, the engine of the health system, warn they may have to shut down. Chronically underfunded public hospitals, which have led the fight against the virus, fear they will be overrun.

Across the country, hospitals and doctors are reporting shortages in vital medical supplies such as anesthesia drugs and sutures.

With power cuts that run through most of the day, they pour money into fuel for generators, and many are turning away non-critical cases to conserve resources.

"The situation is really catastrophic, and we expect a total collapse if the government doesn´t come up with a rescue plan," said Selim Abi Saleh, the head of the Physicians Union in northern Lebanon, one of the country´s poorest and most populated regions.

One of the country´s oldest and bilgi sitesi most prestigious university hospitals, the American University Medical Center, laid off hundreds of its staff last week citing the "disastrous" state of the economy and causing uproar and concern.


MLB players taking visible stance on social justice

PHOENIX (AP) - Major League Baseball hasn't always been at the forefront of the social justice movement in recent years, with leagues like the NBA and NFL usually taking center stage.

But in the aftermath of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis - and because of the quirks of a coronavirus-altered sports schedule - baseball is in the position of having the American sports world largely to itself for the next week.

Even before Thursday's opening day, players and coaches in the sport are taking a more active approach to supporting racial justice.

Among the examples: San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler and several players kneeling during the national anthem before an exhibition game and several Dodgers - including NL MVP Cody Bellinger and three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw - speaking out about racial injustice in a video message.

"I wanted to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with our clear systemic racism in our country and I wanted them (players) to know that they got to make their own decisions and we would respect and support those decisions," Kapler said after Monday's game.

"I wanted them to feel safe in speaking up."