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AP News in Brief 11-19-17

Updated: 
November 19, 2017 - 12:05am

Zimbabweans say Mugabe must quit now, but more talks planned

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Giddy with joy and finally free to speak out, vast throngs of demonstrators turned Zimbabwe’s capital into a carnival ground on Saturday in a peaceful outpouring of disdain for President Robert Mugabe and calls for him to quit immediately. Still clinging to his now-powerless post, the longtime leader was scheduled on Sunday to discuss his expected exit with the military command that put him under house arrest.

People in Harare clambered onto tanks and other military vehicles moving slowly through the crowds, danced around soldiers walking in city streets and surged in the thousands toward the building where Mugabe held official functions, a symbol of the rule of the 93-year-old man who took power after independence from white minority rule in 1980. There, in a situation that could have become tense, the protesters instead showed deference to the small number of soldiers blocking their way and eventually dispersed.

It was a historic day when the old Zimbabwe, a once-promising African nation with a disintegrating economy and a mood of fear about the consequences of challenging Mugabe, became something new, with a population united, at least temporarily, in its fervor for change and a joyful openness that would have seemed fanciful even a few days ago.

The euphoria, however, will eventually subside, and much depends on the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to get Mugabe to officially resign, jumpstart a new leadership that could seek to be inclusive and reduce perceptions that the military staged a coup against Mugabe. The president was to meet military commanders on Sunday in a second round of talks, state broadcaster ZBC reported.

“The common enemy is Robert Mugabe. That’s for starters,” said 37-year-old Talent Mudzamiri, an opposition supporter who was born soon after Zimbabwe’s independence.

Anti-gay supporters rally for Moore, worrying LGBT community

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A smiling Roy Moore stood shoulder to shoulder with his fiercest religious allies.

Flanked by a huge sign for Moore’s Senate campaign, one supporter railed against the “LGBT mafia” and “homosexualist gay terrorism.” Another warned that “homosexual sodomy” destroys those who participate in it and the nations that allow it. And still another described same-sex marriage as “a mirage” because “it’s phony and fake.”

Thursday’s news conference was designed to send a powerful message to the political world that religious conservatives across America remain committed to Moore, a Christian conservative and former judge whose Alabama Senate campaign has been rocked by mounting allegations of sexual misconduct. The event also revealed an aggressive strain of homophobia rarely seen in mainstream politics — in recent years, at least.

In the days since, religious liberals have stepped forward to express their opposition to Moore. More than 50 Alabama pastors signed a letter saying Moore has demonstrated “extremist values” incompatible with traditional Christianity and is unfit to serve in the Senate. And an anti-Moore rally at a Birmingham church on Saturday drew more than 100 people, some of whom carried signs decrying his opposition to gay rights.

But in a Senate campaign suddenly hyper-focused on Moore’s relationships with teenage girls decades ago, Moore’s hardline stance on gay rights and other LGBT issues has become little more than an afterthought for many voters as Election Day approaches.

Palestinians vow to suspend talks if US closes PLO mission

WASHINGTON — The Palestinians threatened on Saturday to suspend all communication with the United States if the Trump administration follows through with plans to close their diplomatic office in Washington. The potential rupture in relations threatens to undermine President Donald Trump’s bid for Mideast peace — a mission he has handed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the U.S. decision was “very unfortunate and unacceptable,” and accused Washington of bowing to pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “at a time when we are trying to cooperate to achieve the ultimate deal.”

In a video statement on social media, Erekat said: “We will put on hold all our communications with this American administration.”

From wire sources

There was no immediate reaction from the Trump administration. Netanyahu’s office said the closure was “a matter of U.S. law.”

U.S. officials had insisted before Erekat’s statement that the move wasn’t aimed at increasing leverage over the Palestinians, but merely the unavoidable consequence of U.S. law.

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Deduction targeted by GOP used by tax filers in most states

ATLANTA (AP) — A popular deduction targeted in the GOP’s overhaul of the tax code is used by more than a quarter of all filers in a majority of states, including many led by Republicans where some residents eventually could see their federal tax bills rise.

The exact effect in every state isn’t known, in part because of differences in the Senate and House versions of the bill. But the change to the deduction for state and local taxes could alter the bottom lines for millions of taxpayers who itemize.

Residents in high-tax, Democratic-led states appear to be the hardest hit. But some filers also could be left paying more in traditional Republican states, such as Georgia and Utah where about a third of taxpayers claim the deduction.

“It’s a bad deal for middle class families and for most Georgians,” said Georgia state Rep. Bob Trammell, leader of the House Democrats.

He said Republicans are eliminating the state and local deduction to help pay for tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy.

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AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dead at 64

NEW YORK (AP) — Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist and guiding force behind the bawdy hard rock band AC/DC who helped create such head-banging anthems as “Highway to Hell,” ”Hells Bells” and “Back in Black,” has died. He was 64.

AC/DC announced the death Saturday on their official Facebook page and website. A representative for the band confirmed that the posts were true. The posts did not say when or where Young died, but said the performer had been suffering from dementia. He was diagnosed in 2014.

“It is with deepest sorrow that we inform you of the death of Malcolm Young, beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother. Malcolm had been suffering from Dementia for several years and passed away peacefully with his family by his bedside,” one of the posts read.

The family put out a statement posted on the band’s website calling Young a “visionary who inspired many.”

While Young’s younger brother, Angus, the group’s school-uniform-wearing lead guitarist, was the public face of the band, Malcolm Young was its key writer and leader, the member the rest of the band watched for onstage changes and cutoffs.

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Why few women of color in wave of accusers? ‘Stakes higher’

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — In the weeks since dozens of women have accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of rape or sexual harassment, unleashing an avalanche of similar charges against other prominent men across American life, women and men of color have been largely absent from the national furor.

The stories of abuse have roiled the entertainment industry, politics, tech and more, raising the possibility that this could be a watershed moment to end tolerance of such behavior. But some observers fear minority women may miss the moment, as they often are more reticent to speak up about sexual harassment.

“The stakes are higher in a lot of instances for us than they are for a lot of other women,” said Tarana Burke, a black activist who founded the #MeToo movement on Twitter in 2006 to raise awareness around sexual violence. “That creates a dynamic where you have women of color who have to think a little bit differently about what it means for them to come forward in cases of sexual harassment.”

A few high-profile minority actresses have come forward. New York authorities are investigating claims from actress Paz de la Huerta that Weinstein raped her twice in 2010; he has denied charges of non-consensual sex with any woman.

When Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o wrote in a New York Times op-ed last month that she had an unsettling encounter with the producer in 2011 at his home, Weinstein quickly denied doing anything inappropriate with Nyong’o, after days of silence following similar accusations by famous white accusers.

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US general says nuclear launch order can be refused

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) — The top officer at U.S. Strategic Command said Saturday an order from President Donald Trump or any of his successors to launch nuclear weapons can be refused if that order is determined to be illegal.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of Strategic Command, told a panel at the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday that he and Trump have had conversations about such a scenario and that he would tell Trump he couldn’t carry out an illegal strike.

“If it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen. I’m going to say, ‘Mr President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’” Hyten said.

“And we’ll come up with options with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works.”

In the event that Trump decided to launch a nuclear attack, Hyten would provide him with strike options that are legal.

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FBI report on black ‘extremists’ raises new monitoring fears

WASHINGTON (AP) — An FBI report on the rise of black “extremists” is stirring fears of a return to practices used during the civil rights movement, when the bureau spied on activist groups without evidence they had broken any laws.

The FBI said it doesn’t target specific groups, and the report is one of many its intelligence analysts produce to make law enforcement aware of what they see as emerging trends. A similar bulletin on white supremacists, for example, came out about the same time.

The 12-page report, issued in August, says “black identity extremists” are increasingly targeting law enforcement after police killings of black men, especially since the shooting of Michael Brown roiled Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. The report describes cases in which “extremists” had “acted in retaliation for perceived past police brutality incidents.” It warned that such violence was likely to continue.

Black leaders and activists were outraged after Foreign Policy revealed the existence of the report last month. The Congressional Black Caucus, in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, said the report “conflates black political activists with dangerous domestic terrorist organizations” and would further erode the frayed relationship between police and minority communities.

“I have never met a black extremist. I don’t know what the FBI is talking about,” said Chris Phillips, a filmmaker in Ferguson.

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Winners and losers under the Senate tax overhaul proposal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The ultra-wealthy, especially those with dynastic businesses — like President Donald Trump and his family — do very well under a major Republican tax bill moving in the Senate, as they do under legislation passed this week by the House.

Want to toast the anticipated tax win with champagne or a beer — or maybe you’re feeling Shakespearean and prefer to quaff mead from a pewter mug? That would cheer producers of beer, wine, liquor — and mead, the ancient beverage fermented from honey. Tax rates on their sales would be reduced under the Senate bill.

On the other hand, people living in high-tax states, who deduct their local property, income and sales taxes from what they owe Uncle Sam, could lose out from the complete or partial repeal of the deductions. And an estimated 13 million Americans could lose health insurance coverage over 10 years under the Senate bill.

Some winners and losers:

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