In Brief: Nation & World: 11-1-16

Trump is still Trump as foes plunge into final campaign week

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Trump is still Trump as foes plunge into final campaign week

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Donald Trump plunged into his final-week sprint to Election Day Monday decidedly on his terms: unleashing a harsh new attack against Democrat Hillary Clinton in Michigan, a state that hasn’t favored a Republican for president in nearly three decades.

His message was welcomed by supporters, but his location frustrated anxious Republicans who fear their nominee is riding his unorthodox political playbook too long — even as Clinton’s developing email problems offer new political opportunity.

“Her election would mire our government and our country in a constitutional crisis that we cannot afford,” Trump declared in Grand Rapids, pointing to the FBI’s renewed examination of Clinton’s email practices as evidence the former secretary of state might face a criminal trial as president.

National polls show a tightening race. But with more than 23 million ballots already cast through early voting, it’s unclear whether Trump has the time or capacity to dramatically improve his standing over the next week in states like Michigan, where few political professionals in either party expect a Republican victory on Nov. 8.

Clinton focused Monday on battleground Ohio, a state Trump’s team concedes he must win.

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FBI review involves thousands of newly discovered emails

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI will have to sort through thousands of newly discovered emails in its renewed examination of the practices of Hillary Clinton and her aides, a U.S. official said Monday, raising questions about whether any findings might be released before Election Day.

The Justice Department, moving to address concerns over the timing of the revelation of the emails and a potential post-election spillover, said Monday it would “dedicate all necessary resources” to concluding the review promptly.

The timing matters because Donald Trump has been assailing Clinton ever more vigorously since FBI Director James Comey revealed the existence of the emails in a remarkable and ambiguous letter to Congress last Friday. He said agents would take steps to review the messages, which were found on a computer seized during an unrelated investigation involving the estranged husband of a Clinton aide.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former New York congressman, is being investigated in connection with online communications with a teenage girl. He was separated this year from Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s closest advisers.

At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest said he would neither defend nor criticize the timing of Comey’s disclosure. But he also said President Barack Obama does not believe Comey was trying to influence the election, or strategizing to benefit one candidate or party.

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Fierce gun battle in Oklahoma ends with fugitive dead

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A fierce gun battle with Oklahoma troopers left a homicide suspect dead and ended a weeklong manhunt for the man suspected in a string of violent crimes across the state, including the killing of two relatives and the shooting of three law enforcement officers.

After a tip from a farmer led authorities on Sunday to a camp site near Hammon in far western Oklahoma, the manhunt intensified for Michael Dale Vance Jr., who had posted two Facebook Live videos on Oct. 24 documenting his run from police, said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Paul Timmons.

Several troopers were chasing Vance, who was driving a stolen flatbed pickup truck, when the vehicle went off the road near Leedey, 130 miles northwest of Oklahoma City and 45 miles north of where he was last seen a week earlier.

“He exited the vehicle and engaged our troopers in a pretty fierce gun battle,” Timmons said. “It’s probably safe to say he (Vance) was hit more than once.”

Vance was pronounced dead at the scene, and authorities plan to release dashboard-camera video of the shooting during a press conference on Tuesday, Timmons said.

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Clinton challenges FBI, declaring, ‘There’s no case here’

KENT, Ohio (AP) — Hillary Clinton forcefully challenged the FBI’s new email inquiry Monday, declaring during a campaign rally in battleground Ohio, “There’s no case here.”

It’s not clear whether the emails are pertinent to the FBI’s dormant investigation into whether classified information passed through Clinton’s homebrew email server. But Clinton’s comments Monday were her most pointed yet on the subject, and they underscored her campaign’s decision to fight back aggressively against the FBI’s review.

Clinton accused the FBI of having jumped into the election “with no evidence of any wrongdoing with just days to go.” She said that if the bureau wants to look at the emails from her longtime aide Huma Abedin, “by all means, they should look at them.”

But she insisted the FBI would reach the same conclusion it did earlier this year when it declined to prosecute Clinton and her advisers for their handling of classified information.

“They said it wasn’t even a close call,” she said. “I think most people have decided a long time ago what they think about all of this.”

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Iraqi special forces poised on eastern edge of Mosul

BAZWAYA, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi special forces stood poised to enter Mosul in an offensive to drive out Islamic State militants after sweeping into the last village on the city’s eastern edge Monday while fending off suicide car bombs without losing a soldier.

Armored vehicles, including Abrams tanks, drew fire from mortars and small arms as they moved on the village of Bazwaya in an assault that began at dawn, while artillery and airstrikes hit IS positions.

By evening, the fighting had stopped and units took up positions less than a mile from Mosul’s eastern border and about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the center, two weeks into the offensive to retake Iraq’s second-largest city.

“We will enter the city of Mosul soon and liberate it from Daesh,” said Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of Iraq’s special forces, using an Arabic acronym for the extremists. He added that more than 20 militants had been killed while his forces suffered only one light injury from a fall.

Three suicide car bombers had tried to stop the advance before the army took control of Bazwaya, but the troops destroyed them, he said. The army said another unit, its 9th Division, had moved toward Mosul and was about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from its eastern outskirts, the neighborhood of Gogjali.

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Hezbollah ally elected as Lebanon’s new head of state

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s parliament elected former army commander Michel Aoun as president on Monday, filling a post that had been vacant for more than two years and injecting hope that the country’s long-running political paralysis would come to an end.

But the 81-year-old retired general who presided over the final bloody chapters of the Lebanese civil war and is a strong Hezbollah ally has an unenviable task ahead — forming a government out of the country’s unruly political factions and dealing with an array of problems that includes what to do with more than 1 million Syrian refugees who have fled the war in neighboring Syria.

Aoun, a Maronite Christian, enjoys a wide base of support among Lebanon’s educated Christians, but is a deeply divisive figure for his role in the 1975-90 civil war and for his shifting alliances, especially with Hezbollah, the country’s most powerful military and political force. His election was seen by many as a clear victory for the pro-Iranian axis in the Middle East, giving a boost to Hezbollah and the Shiite Lebanese group’s ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Aoun secured a simple majority of votes in parliament after a tension-filled, chaotic session that saw several rounds of voting because extra ballots appeared in the ballot box each time. In the end, the transparent box was placed in the middle of Parliament, where lawmakers cast their votes in front of two witnesses who watched to make sure no extra ballots were put in.

“We haven’t voted in a long time. We’re learning again,” Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri joked of the nearly two-hour process.

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Pope on Reformation: Forgive ‘errors’ of past, forge unity

LUND, Sweden (AP) — Pope Francis urged Catholics and Lutherans on Monday to forgive the “errors” of the past and forge a future together, including sharing the Eucharist, as he marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation by traveling to secular Sweden with a message of Christian unity.

Francis and the leaders of the Lutheran World Federation presided over an ecumenical prayer service in the Lund cathedral, the first time a pope has commemorated the anniversary of Martin Luther’s revolt with such a symbolically powerful gesture.

Francis quoted Luther and praised him for having restored the centrality of Scripture to the church.

“The spiritual experience of Martin Luther challenges us to remember that apart from God, we can do nothing,” Francis said.

Francis and the Lutheran federation president, Bishop Munib Younan, drew sustained applause at the end of the service when they signed a joint declaration pledging to improve relations through dialogue, while working together to heal conflicts, welcome refugees and care for the planet. The goal of the theological dialogue, the statement said, was to bring Catholics and Lutherans together at the Eucharistic table.

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Nun recounts roar of earth during morning prayers

TREVI, Italy (AP) — Sister Caterina was praying with the eight nuns of her Benedictine order in the central Italian town of Norcia when the earth began to roar.

The abbey and the ground beneath the nuns’ feet shook and they were thrown around. The ceiling cracked and crumbled. A cupboard crashed to the ground.

Stepping to the door, Sister Caterina caught a glimpse of how the Sunday-morning earthquake was being experienced in the town below.

“Smoke, and people’s cries of fear. If I close my eyes, I cannot help but relive it,” she recalled.

But once the 72-year-old nun saw that her fellow sisters were unharmed and the abbey’s prayer room was still standing, she turned to her safe haven — her faith — and led the nuns back to prayer, asking that God might “at least save some lives.”

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Cosby wants other accusers to take competency, memory tests

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby’s lawyers accused prosecutors Monday of trying to use the “tainted, unreliable memories of women, now in their senior years” to build their sexual assault case against him and will seek competency hearings on any accusers allowed to testify.

Prosecutors hope to have 13 of about 60 known accusers testify to show a pattern of “prior bad acts” when Cosby, now 79 and blind, goes on trial next summer on charges of drugging and molesting a former Temple University employee in 2004. Courts can allow the testimony if it shows a very specific “signature” crime pattern.

On the eve of a key pretrial hearing Tuesday, Cosby’s lawyers said the women’s memories have been marred by time, media coverage of the case and their friendship with one another. After a memory expert reviewed the women’s statements for the defense, the lawyers dismiss the other accounts as “stories of that night spent partying with a famous celebrity.”

The two sides will face off in court for two days to determine what evidence can be used at the entertainer’s scheduled felony trial in June.

“Because Mr. Cosby was never charged, let alone convicted, the jury could be tempted to convict him in this case simply to punish him for the other incidents which are now nothing more than vague recollections,” defense lawyers Brian McMonagle and Angela Agrusa wrote in their filing Monday.

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Officer who fatally shot black man fired over separate case

MILWAUKEE (AP) — An officer whose fatal shooting of a black man sparked violence in Milwaukee lost his job Monday, after he had been charged with sexual assault in an unrelated case.

Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown was terminated as a result of the department’s internal investigation into the sexual assault charges, according to a statement from Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn. Heaggan-Brown was ordered last week to stand trial on the charges in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

Heaggan-Brown fatally shot 23-year-old Sylville Smith last August on Milwaukee’s north side, which sparked a weekend of violence in the Sherman Park neighborhood not far from where Smith was killed.

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The 24-year-old officer is accused of sexually assaulting two men and soliciting sex from two others. One of the men told police he watched news coverage of the August violence while at a bar with Heaggan-Brown a day after the officer fatally shot Smith. The man also alleged Heaggan-Brown bragged about being able to do whatever he wanted without repercussions.

Flynn said Heaggan-Brown was fired because he was found to be in violation of the department’s code of conduct, which in part said “whether on or off duty, department members shall not behave in such a way that a reasonable person would expect that discredit could be brought upon the department, or that it would create the appearance of impropriety or corruptive behavior.”

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