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AP News in Brief 11-04-17

Updated: 
November 4, 2017 - 12:05am

House GOP revises tax bill, makes it less generous

WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Friday quietly made changes to their far-reaching tax overhaul: Now its tax cuts would be less generous for many Americans.

A day after the GOP unveiled its plan promising middle-class relief, the House’s top tax-writer, Rep. Kevin Brady, released a revised version of the bill that would impose a new, lower-inflation “chained CPI” adjustment for tax brackets immediately instead of in 2023. That means more income would be taxed at higher rates over time — and less generous tax cuts for individuals and families.

The change, posted on the website of the Ways and Means Committee, reduces the value of the tax cuts for ordinary Americans by $89 billion over 10 years compared with the legislation released with fanfare Thursday.

As wages rise, middle-class taxpayers would have more of their income taxed at the 25 percent rate instead of at 12 percent, for instance.

“The bill’s like a dead fish: The more it hangs out in the sunlight, the stinkier it gets,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer pronounced after word of Brady’s change. “The more people learn about this bill, the less they’re going to like it.”

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NYPD says it is building rape case against Harvey Weinstein

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City police said Friday that an actress’ rape allegations against Harvey Weinstein are credible, and if the movie mogul were in the state and the accusation more recent, they would move to arrest him immediately.

Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said investigators have interviewed actress Paz de la Huerta. She has publicly accused Weinstein of raping her twice in her apartment in 2010 and called police about it on Oct. 26.

Boyce said detectives found the “Boardwalk Empire” actress’ story believable and that two people corroborated portions of her account. They have subpoenaed people in the case.

“If this person was still in New York, and it was recent, we’d go right away and make the arrest. No doubt,” Boyce said of Weinstein. “But we’re talking about a 7-year-old case. And we have to move forward gathering evidence first.”

The factors that made her story credible included: “The ability to articulate each and every minute of the crime, where she was, where they met, where this happened and what he did,” he said.

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Bergdahl spared from prison; Trump calls sentence ‘disgrace’

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who walked away from his post in Afghanistan and triggered a search that left some of his comrades severely wounded, was spared a prison sentence by a military judge Friday in what President Donald Trump blasted as a “complete and total disgrace.”

The judge gave no explanation of how he arrived at his decision, but he reviewed evidence that included the five years Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban and the wounds suffered by troops who searched for him, including one who now uses a wheelchair and cannot speak.

The case was politically divisive. President Barack Obama traded Taliban prisoners to bring Bergdahl back, drawing sharp Republican criticism. As a presidential candidate, Trump called for the soldier to face stiff punishment. He could have received up to life in prison.

The judge also gave the 31-year-old a dishonorable discharge, reduced his rank from sergeant to private and ordered him to forfeit pay equal to $1,000 per month for 10 months.

In court, Bergdahl appeared tense, grimaced and clenched his jaw. His attorneys put their arms around him and one patted him on the back. One defense attorney cried after the sentence was announced.

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Sheriff: Las Vegas shooter had lost money, been depressed

The man who killed 58 people at a country music festival in Las Vegas last month had been depressed after losing a significant amount of money in the past two years and that may have been a “determining factor” in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, the city’s sheriff said.

Gunman Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old high-stakes gambler and real estate investor, had lost a “significant amount of wealth” since September 2015, which led to “bouts of depression,” Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said in an interview this week with Las Vegas news station KLAS-TV.

“This individual was status-driven, based on how he liked to be recognized in the casino environment and how he liked to be recognized by his friends and family,” Lombardo said. “So, obviously, that was starting to decline in the short period of time, and that may have had a determining effect on why he did what he did.”

Investigators still have not determined exactly what led Paddock to unleash a barrage of gunfire at concertgoers from his high-rise suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino on Oct. 1.

Paddock killed himself after the massacre that also wounded more than 500 people. Las Vegas police and the FBI have examined his politics, any possible radicalization and his social behavior but turned up little.

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Asians talk about expectations for Trump’s visit

President Donald Trump embarks on his first official visit to Asia, which begins Sunday in Japan. The 11-day trip will also take him to South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Here’s what people in those countries have to say about their expectations for the visit.

JAPAN

Yoh Kawakami, employee at an information management solution company:

“I do wonder whether things will be OK, like, what will the world turn into? I wonder about his (Trump’s) response to North Korea and other things. There are things that scare me. He is becoming friendly with Prime Minister Abe and I don’t know if that is right or not.”

“I do want him (Trump) to be more cool-headed. If he continues only provoking, the situation may actually become explosive.”

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Argentine survivors: Love will unite us with fallen friends

NEW YORK (AP) — Four Argentine survivors of a deadly terrorist attack in New York City this week said Friday they always will carry the pain of seeing five of their friends killed while on a trip they had long dreamed of that turned into a horrible nightmare.

Juan Pablo Trevisan, Ariel Benvenuto, Guillermo Banchini and Ivan Brajkovic gathered at the Argentine Consulate in New York. Banchini, speaking for the group in Spanish, read an emotional statement that brought tears to the eyes of consulate officials.

“Friendship has a profound significance for Argentinians,” Banchini said. “We were brought here because of a friendship that was born when we were young, and that always accompanied us. We will forever mourn our friends. Love brought us here, and love will continue to unite us”.

The four survivors belonged to a group of 10 who came to the city last week to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation. Five of them died after an Uzbek citizen steered a rented truck onto a bike path Tuesday and sped south toward the World Trade Center, striking cyclists and pedestrians, killing eight. He was shot by a police officer after crashing the truck into a school bus.

Sayfullo Saipov, 29, survived. He was arraigned Wednesday on terrorism charges.

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10-year-old immigrant with cerebral palsy released

HOUSTON (AP) — U.S. authorities on Friday released a 10-year-old immigrant girl with cerebral palsy who had been detained by border agents after surgery because she is in the U.S. without legal permission.

The ACLU and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said that Rosa Maria Hernandez was returned Friday afternoon to her family. Her parents brought her into the U.S. from Mexico in 2007, when she was a toddler, and they live in the Texas border city of Laredo.

A cousin who is an American citizen took Rosa Maria from Laredo to a children’s hospital in Corpus Christi on Oct. 24, where she was scheduled to have emergency gallbladder surgery. To get to Corpus Christi, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) away, she had to pass through an interior checkpoint in South Texas operated by the Border Patrol.

Border Patrol agents followed Rosa Maria and the cousin to the hospital, then took the girl into custody after the surgery and transported her to a facility in San Antonio for unaccompanied immigrant minors, under the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Border Patrol has said it had no choice but to detain Rosa Maria, arguing that she was considered an unaccompanied minor under federal law, the same as a child who crosses into the United States alone without legal permission.

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Territorial losses suffered by Islamic State in Syria, Iraq

BEIRUT (AP) — With new losses Friday, the Islamic State group has been driven from more than 96 percent of the large parts of Iraq and Syria it once held, crushing its goal of establishing a “caliphate” in the region.

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military announced the capture of the eastern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour, while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in retaking the town of Qaim on the border, the militants’ last significant urban area in Iraq.

The militants are left fighting for a final stretch inside Syria and desert regions along the Iraq-Syria border. Three years ago, they had defiantly erased that line, knocking down berms marking the frontier.

Since then, they have lost infrastructure, resources, supply routes, control over about 8 million people and — most importantly — administration of a contiguous territory. The extremist group may still prove to be a major challenge for months as it turns to a clandestine insurgency.

What the group lost in the last 11 months, and what is left:

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Inside story: How Russians hacked the Democrats’ emails

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was just before noon in Moscow on March 10, 2016, when the first volley of malicious messages hit the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The first 29 phishing emails were almost all misfires. Addressed to people who worked for Clinton during her first presidential run, the messages bounced back untouched.

Except one.

Within nine days, some of the campaign’s most consequential secrets would be in the hackers’ hands, part of a massive operation aimed at vacuuming up millions of messages from thousands of inboxes across the world.

An Associated Press investigation into the digital break-ins that disrupted the U.S. presidential contest has sketched out an anatomy of the hack that led to months of damaging disclosures about the Democratic Party’s nominee. It wasn’t just a few aides that the hackers went after; it was an all-out blitz across the Democratic Party. They tried to compromise Clinton’s inner circle and more than 130 party employees, supporters and contractors.

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Trump arrives in Hawaii on eve of first official Asia trip

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AP) — President Donald Trump stopped in Hawaii on Friday on the eve of his first official visit to Asia.

Trump arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after a daylong flight from Washington. He departs Saturday for Japan, the first stop on the five-nation, 11-day Asia journey.

Trump quickly donned a lei, or wreath of flowers, after getting off of Air Force One with first lady Melania Trump. He greeted a group of people that was assembled for his arrival, signing autographs and giving high-fives to kids.

But Trump wasn’t the only attraction to arrive at the base. A few in the crowd shouted for White House chief of staff John Kelly.

“We love you Gen. Kelly,” one person shouted at the retired four-star Marine general, who is among senior White House aides traveling with Trump.

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