AP News in Brief 09-13-18

  • Fred Guttenberg, left, the father of Jamie Guttenberg who was killed in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., attempts to shake hands with Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh while he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill Tuesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Kavanaugh: I didn’t recognize Parkland dad seeking handshake

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he would have shaken the hand of a school shooting victim’s father during a break in last week’s Senate hearing had he recognized him before being whisked away by security detail.

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Kavanaugh’s explanation for the encounter with Fred Guttenberg— captured in an Associated Press photo that went viral on social media — was among a 263-page response to written questions from senators on a range of issues including abortion, executive power and his personal finances.

Kavanaugh wrote that he assumed the man who approached him “and touched my arm” during a break at the Senate Judiciary Committee proceedings had been one of the many protesters in the hearing room. Guttenberg’s 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was among 17 people killed on Feb. 14 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

“It had been a chaotic morning,” Kavanaugh wrote. “I unfortunately did not realize that the man was the father of a shooting victim from Parkland, Florida. Mr. Guttenberg has suffered an incalculable loss. If I had known who he was, I would have shaken his hand, talked to him, and expressed my sympathy. And I would have listened to him.”

Kavanaugh’s security detail ushered him out in a “split second,” according to the judge’s response to a written question from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. It was among 1,287 questions from senators, almost all from Democrats.

Video shows Weinstein’s hands-on encounter with rape accuser

NEW YORK — A video of Harvey Weinstein aired on television Wednesday showing him boldly propositioning a woman who later accused him of rape and repeatedly touching her and stroking her arm and back during what was supposed to have been a business meeting.

Melissa Thompson, who sued Weinstein in June, said she made the recording, shown by Sky News, while demonstrating video technology for the movie mogul-turned-#MeToo villain at his New York City office in 2011.

Weinstein is seen on the video rejecting a handshake from Thompson and then hugging her instead and rubbing her back.

He then caresses her shoulder as they sit side-by-side in front of her laptop computer.

At one point he tells her: “Let me have a little part of you. Can you give it to me?”

Russia: Pussy Riot activist treated for possible poisoning

MOSCOW — Russian news reports say a member of Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot has been hospitalized in grave condition for what could be a possible poisoning.

Ekho Moskvy radio and online news portal Meduza reported Wednesday that Pyotr Verzilov has been in emergency care since late Tuesday. They quoted a fellow Pussy Riot member, Veronika Nikulshina, as saying Verzilov’s symptoms included losing his eyesight and ability to speak.

Nikulshina said Verzilov was being treated in the toxicology unit of a Moscow hospital, indicating a suspected poisoning.

Verzilov, Nikulshina and two other activists served 15-day jail sentences for disrupting July’s World Cup final.

They ran onto the field wearing police uniforms, briefly interrupting the match between France and Croatia. Pussy Riot said they were protesting excessive police powers in Russia.

From wire sources

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US ‘likely’ has taken over as the world’s top oil producer

The United States may have reclaimed the title of the world’s biggest oil producer sooner than expected.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that, based on preliminary estimates, America “likely surpassed” Russia in June and August after jumping over Saudi Arabia earlier this year.

If those estimates are right, it would mark the first time since 1973 that the U.S. has led the world in output, according to government figures.

The energy information administration and the International Energy Agency, a global group of oil-consuming nations, had predicted that the U.S. would eventually pass Russia and Saudi Arabia but possibly not until 2019.

U.S. production jumped in recent years because of techniques including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which is the use of chemicals, sand, water and high pressure to crack rock formations deep below ground, releasing more oil and natural gas.

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Francis calls clergy abuse summit as issue imperils papacy

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis summoned the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences Wednesday to a summit on preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children, responding to the greatest crisis of his papacy with the realization that Vatican inaction on the growing global scandal now threatens his legacy.

Francis’ key cardinal advisers announced plans for the summit early next year the day before the pope meets with U.S. church leaders embroiled in their own credibility crisis from the latest accusations in the Catholic Church’s decades-long sex abuse scandal.

The meeting, scheduled for Feb. 21-24, would assemble more than 100 churchmen to represent every bishops’ conference. Its convening signals awareness at the highest levels of the Catholic Church that clergy sex abuse is a global problem, not restricted to some parts of the world or a few Western countries.

Victims’ advocates immediately dismissed the event as belated damage control, an action publicized hastily as allegations regarding Francis’ record of handling abuse cases — and accumulated outrage among rank-and-file Catholic faithful over covered-up crimes — jeopardize his papacy.

“There’s absolutely no reason to think any good will come of such a meeting,” given the church’s decades of failure to reform, David Clohessy, former director of the victims’ advocacy group SNAP, said.

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‘60 Minutes’ chief Jeff Fager fired over policy violation

NEW YORK — CBS News on Wednesday fired “60 Minutes” top executive Jeff Fager, who has been under investigation following reports that he groped women at parties and tolerated an abusive workplace.

The network news president, David Rhodes, said Fager’s firing was “not directly related” to the allegations against him, but came because he violated company policy. A CBS News reporter working on a story about Fager revealed that he had sent her a text message urging her to “be careful.”

Fager is the third major figure at CBS to lose his job in the past year over misconduct allegations, following news anchor Charlie Rose last November and CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves on Sunday.

CBS News reporter Jericka Duncan said she received Fager’s message after she started to work on a story about him on Sunday, following the posting of a New Yorker story with fresh allegations that were denied by Fager.

“There are people who lost their jobs trying to harm me and if you pass on these damaging claims without your own reporting to back them up that will become a serious problem,” Fager wrote, according to Duncan.

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Got $1,100? Apple shows off its most expensive iPhone yet

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple unveiled three new iPhones on Wednesday, including its biggest and most expensive model yet, as the company seeks to widen the product’s appeal amid slowing sales.

CEO Tim Cook showed off the iPhone XS Max, which has a bigger screen than the one on last year’s dramatically designed model , the iPhone X. It’ll cost about $1,100, topping the iPhone X, which at $1,000 seemed jaw-dropping at the time. An updated iPhone X, now called the XS, stays at $1,000.

As with the iPhone X, both new phones have screens that run from edge to edge, an effort to maximize the display without making the phone too awkward to hold. The screen needs no backlight, so black would appear as truly black rather than simply dark. The Max model looks to be about the size of the iPhone 8 Plus, though the screen size is much larger.

The iPhone XS Max, which will be available on Sept. 21 — with orders open the week before — represents Apple’s attempt to feed consumers’ appetite for increasingly larger screens as they rely on smartphones to watch and record video and to take photos wherever they are.

By making more expensive iPhones, Apple has been able to boost its profits despite waning demand as people upgrade phones less frequently. IPhones fetched an average price of $724 during the April-June period, a nearly 20 percent increase from a year earlier.

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Osaka’s US Open win re-opens cultural discussion in Japan

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Naomi Osaka’s victory in the U.S. Open has added her to a growing list of athletes, Nobel Prize winners, and beauty pageant contestants who have raised the issue of what it means to be Japanese.

The daughter of a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka was born in Japan but raised in the United States. But she is being lauded in Japan as the first from the country to win a Grand Slam singles tennis title, which has upstaged most questions about her mixed background.

Some children from mixed race families in Japan often get bullied and demeaned, called “hafu” — from the English word “half” — and are chided that they aren’t fully Japanese.

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Japan has embraced Osaka, and she — despite barely speaking Japanese — talks fondly of her affection for her adopted country. But her victory also challenges public attitudes about identity in a homogeneous culture that is being pushed to change.

“It is hard to say for sure if the extremely narrow conception, unconsciously or consciously, held by many Japanese of being Japanese, is being loosened,” Naoko Hashimoto, who researches national identify at the University of Sussex in England, wrote in an email to Associated Press.