AP News in Brief 01-10-19

  • Roy Snipes, pastor of the La Lomita Chapel, shows Associated Press journalists the land on either side of the Rio Grande at the US-Mexico border in Mission, Texas. (AP Photo/John L. Mone)

Texas landowners dig in to fight Trump’s border wall

HIDALGO, Texas — As President Donald Trump travels to the border in Texas to make the case for his $5.7 billion wall, landowner Eloisa Cavazos says she knows firsthand how the project will play out if the White House gets its way.

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The federal government has started surveying land along the border in Texas and announced plans to start construction next month. Rather than surrender their land, some property owners are digging in, vowing to reject buyout offers and preparing to fight the administration in court.

“You could give me a trillion dollars and I wouldn’t take it,” said Cavazos, whose land sits along the Rio Grande, the river separating the U.S. and Mexico in Texas. “It’s not about money.”

Trump is scheduled to visit the border Thursday in McAllen, a city of 143,000 on the river.

Congress in March funded 33 miles of walls and fencing in Texas. The government has laid out plans that would cut across private land in the Rio Grande Valley. Those in the way include landowners who have lived in the valley for generations, environmental groups and a 19th century chapel.

Trump stalks out of shutdown talks with Dems, says ‘bye-bye’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump walked out of his negotiating meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday — “I said bye-bye,” he tweeted— as efforts to end the 19-day partial government shutdown fell into deeper disarray over his demand for billions of dollars to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a negotiating session that was over almost as soon as it began, Democrats went to the White House asking Trump to reopen the government. Trump renewed his call for money for his signature campaign promise and was rebuffed. Republicans and Democrats had differing accounts of the brief exchange, but the result was clear: The partial shutdown continued with no end in sight.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers will miss paychecks on Friday; a little more than half of them are still working without pay. Other key federal services are suspended, including some food inspections. And as some lawmakers expressed discomfort with the growing toll of the standoff, it was clear Wednesday that the wall was at the center.

Trump revived his threat to attempt to override Congress by declaring a national emergency to unleash Defense Department funding for the wall. He’s due to visit the border Thursday to highlight what he declared in an Oval Office speech Tuesday night as a “crisis.” Democrats say Trump is manufacturing the emergency to justify a political ploy.

That debate set the tone for Wednesday’s sit-down at the White House.

North Korean leader reportedly committed to second summit with Trump

BEIJING — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly told the leader of his only major ally, China, that he is committed to setting up a second summit with President Donald Trump to “achieve results” on the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula.

The comments, contained in reports Thursday from Chinese and North Korean state media, came after Kim left Beijing on his special armored train for Pyongyang after a two-day visit to the Chinese capital.

Kim’s trip to China — his fourth in the past 10 months — is believed to be an effort to coordinate with Beijing ahead of a possible second summit with Trump. It comes after U.S. and North Korean officials are thought to have met in Vietnam to discuss the site of the summit.

Kim met with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his trip, Chinese and North Korea state media reported Thursday. It wasn’t clear from the reports if Kim was in back in the North, but his train presumably would arrive sometime Thursday.

Xi was quoted as saying that China supports the U.S.-North Korea summits and hopes the two sides “will meet each other halfway.” The North said in its report that Xi accepted an invitation to visit North Korea, although details of when he might come were not given.

Rosenstein, a frequent Trump target, will leave Justice Dept

WASHINGTON — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the most visible Justice Department protector of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and a frequent target of President Donald Trump’s wrath, is expected to leave his position soon after Trump’s nominee for attorney general is confirmed.

The departure creates uncertainty about the oversight of Mueller’s team as it enters what may be its final months of work. But the attorney general nominee, William Barr, moved quickly Wednesday to quell concerns that his arrival could endanger the probe, telling lawmakers during Capitol Hill visits ahead of his confirmation hearing that he has a high opinion of Mueller.

“He had absolutely no indication he was going to tell Bob Mueller what to do or how to do it,” said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will question Barr next Tuesday.

If confirmed by the Republican-led Senate, Barr could be in place at the Justice Department by February. Rosenstein is expected to leave his position soon after that, though he is not being forced out, said a person familiar with the plans who was not authorized to discuss them on the record and spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.

Elderly and conservatives shared more Facebook fakery in 2016

WASHINGTON — Sharing false information on Facebook is old.

People over 65 and ultra conservatives shared about seven times more fake information masquerading as news on the social media site than younger adults, moderates and super liberals during the 2016 election season, a new study finds.

The first major study to look at who is sharing links from debunked sites finds that not many people are doing it. On average only 8.5 percent of those studied — about 1 person out of 12 — shared false information during the 2016 campaign, according to the study in Wednesday’s journal Science Advances. But those doing it tend to be older and more conservative.

“For something to be viral you’ve got to know who shares it,” said study co-author Jonathan Nagler, a politics professor and co-director of the Social Media and Political Participation Lab at New York University. “Wow, old people are much more likely than young people to do this.”

From wire sources

Facebook and other social media companies were caught off guard in 2016 when Russian agents exploited their platforms to meddle with the U.S. presidential election by spreading fake news, impersonating Americans and running targeted advertisements to try to sway votes. Since then, the companies have thrown millions of dollars and thousands of people into fighting false information.

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Au pairs win $65.5 million settlement in Denver lawsuit

DENVER — Young people from around the world who provided low-cost child care for American families will share in a proposed $65.5 million settlement of a lawsuit brought by a dozen former au pairs against the companies that bring the workers to the United States.

Nearly 100,000 au pairs, mostly women, who worked in American homes over the past decade will be entitled to payment under the proposed settlement filed in Denver federal court Wednesday, a month before the case brought by a dozen former au pairs from Colombia, Australia, Germany, South Africa and Mexico was set to go to trial.

They claimed 15 companies authorized to bring au pairs to the United States colluded to keep their wages low, ignoring overtime and state minimum wage laws and treating the federal minimum wage for au pairs as a maximum amount they can earn. In some cases, the lawsuit said, families pushed the limits of their duties, requiring au pairs to do things like feed backyard chickens, help families move and do gardening, and not allowing them to eat with the family.

“This settlement, the hard-fought victory of our clients who fought for years on behalf of about 100,000 fellow au pairs, will be perhaps the largest settlement ever on behalf of minimum wage workers and will finally give au pairs the opportunity to seek higher wages and better working conditions,” said David Seligman, director of Denver-based Towards Justice, which filed the lawsuit in 2014. It was later litigated by New York-based firm Boies Schiller Flexner.

Under the settlement, which still must be approved by a judge, the companies agreed to make sure au pairs are informed about their legal rights in the future, but they denied any wrongdoing.

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Comatose woman who had baby is hospitalized, police say

PHOENIX — An Arizona woman in a vegetative state who had a baby after she was sexually assaulted at a long-term care facility is recovering at a hospital along with her child, authorities said Wednesday as they ramped up the search for a suspect in a case that’s made shockwaves.

Commenting for the first time on the investigation since the Dec. 29 birth came to light, Phoenix police said they have not ruled out anyone and are still gathering DNA from all the facility’s male employees.

“She was not in a position to give consent to any of this,” police spokesman Tommy Thompson said. “So if anyone can understand that, this was a helpless victim who was sexually assaulted.”

He didn’t release the conditions of the woman and her child, who will be taken in by his mother’s family.

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The case has drawn outcry from the governor to the San Carlos Apache tribe in southeastern Arizona, of which the 29-year-old victim is an enrolled member, and put the spotlight on the safety of group homes and facilities that care for those who are incapacitated or severely disabled.

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