AP News in Brief 06-09-19

Trump’s Mexico deal: a political win, even if it falls short

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s deal to avert his threatened tariffs on Mexico includes few new solutions to swiftly stem the surge of Central American migrants flowing over America’s southern border.

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But it delivers enough for Trump to claim a political win.

The decision — announced by tweet late Friday — ended a showdown that business leaders warned would have disastrous economic consequences for both the U.S. and one of its largest trading partners, driving up consumer prices and driving a wedge between the two allies. And it represented a win for members of Trump’s own party who had flooded the White House with pleading calls as well as aides who had been eager to convince the president to back down.

But ultimately, it gives Trump the ability to claim victory on a central campaign promise that has been largely unfulfilled as he prepares to formally launch his 2020 campaign.

“In the face of naysayers, President Trump yet again delivered a huge victory for the American people,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement, applauding the president for using “the threat of tariffs to bring Mexico to the table” and “showing that he is willing to use every tool in his toolbox to protect the American people.”

Sex abuse crisis tops agenda as Southern Baptists convene

The Southern Baptist Convention gathers for its annual national meeting Tuesday with one sobering topic — sex abuse by clergy and staff — overshadowing all others.

Inside the meeting hall in Birmingham, Alabama, delegates representing the nation’s largest Protestant denomination will likely vote on establishing criteria for expelling churches that mishandle or cover up abuse allegations. They also may vote to establish a new committee which would review how member churches handle claims of abuse.

Outside the convention center, abuse survivors and other activists plan a protest rally Tuesday evening, demanding that the SBC move faster to require sex-abuse training for all pastors, staff and volunteers, and to create a database of credibly accused abusers that could be shared among its more than 47,000 churches. They will also be urging the church, which espouses all-male leadership, to be more respectful of women’s roles — a volatile topic that’s sparked online debate over whether women should preach to men.

Sex abuse already was a high-profile issue at the 2018 national meeting in Dallas, following revelations about several sexual misconduct cases. Soon after his election as SBC president at that meeting, the Rev. J.D. Greear formed an advisory group to draft recommendations on how to confront the problem.

However, pressure on the church has intensified in recent months, due in part to newspaper articles asserting hundreds of Southern Baptist clergy and staff have been accused of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years, while leaving more than 700 victims with little in the way of justice or apologies.

California utility proactively cuts power because of weather

SAN FRANCISCO — Pacific Gas &Electric implemented a controversial practice of cutting power to selected portions of Northern California on Saturday to guard against wildfires as the weather turned very windy, dry and hot.

Electricity was turned off around 6 a.m. to 1,600 customers in parts Napa, Solano and Yolo counties. Just as that shutdown was called off, the utility warned 27,000 customers in Butte, Yuba, Nevada, El Dorado and Placer counties that their power would be cut from 9 p.m. through Sunday morning.

The end of the earlier shutdown was announced around 4 p.m., and the utility said power would be restored in those areas as soon as crews finished checking lines for any weather-related damage.

Conditions ripe for fire — winds, low humidity, dry vegetation and heat — were expected to last into Sunday. The National Weather Service office reported a 71 mph gust on one peak in the region.

Cambodian leader flips script on noodle ploy

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — The bitter decadeslong rivalry between Hun Sen, Cambodia’s strongman leader, and Sam Rainsy, his self-exiled chief political rival and critic, has sometimes played out in deadly violence. But on Sunday, soup rather than blood was likely to be spilled.

The two titans of Cambodian politics, who normally agree over nothing, made stunningly similar calls to their followers this past week. On Sunday, they said, all Cambodians should gather with their neighbors and sit down for a meal of num banh chok, a popular Cambodian rice noodle soup usually consumed at breakfast.

From his prime minister’s perch of unchallenged authority, Hun Sen promoted eating “the Khmer (Cambodian) noodles of unity and solidarity.” Sam Rainsy, co-founder of the country’s only credible but now disbanded political party, called for “eating Khmer noodles for the sake of friendship in the framework of the entire, giant Cambodian family.”

From wire sources

Both encouraged sharing with folks from the other side of the political fence.

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Panic at DC pride parade sends people running

WASHINGTON — A panic caused by a mistaken belief that a gun had been fired during a pride parade in Washington, D.C., sent people running through the streets of the nation’s capital on Saturday evening, city officials said. Police said some of the people who ran sustained minor injuries and seven were taken to hospitals.

“As the officers were going to the scene, there was a crowd of people going away from it and some of the individuals in the crowd said there was a man with a gun and that someone had fired a shot,” said Guillermo Rivera, a commander with the Metropolitan Police Department.

The man was taken into custody and is facing a gun possession charge, Rivera said.

City officials said no shots were fired.

“There is NO Active Shooter at Dupont Circle. There are injuries from people running from what they thought were gunshots. But there is NO ACTIVE SHOOTER at Dupont Circle,” Kevin Donahue, the deputy mayor for public safety, said in a tweet posted shortly after the incident.

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US-China trade war sparks worries about rare minerals

PHOENIX — Rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China have sparked worries about the 17 exotic-sounding rare earth minerals needed for high-tech products like robotics, drones and electric cars.

China recently raised tariffs to 25% on rare earth exports to the U.S. and has threatened to halt exports altogether after the Trump administration raised tariffs on Chinese products and blacklisted telecommunications giant Huawei.

With names like europium, scandium and ytterbium, the bulk of rare earth minerals are extracted from mines in China, where lower wages and lax environmental standards make production cheaper and easier.

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But trade experts say no one should panic over China’s threats to stop exporting the elements to the U.S.

There is a U.S. rare minerals mine in California. And Australia, Myanmar, Russia and India are also top producers of the somewhat obscure minerals. Vietnam and Brazil both have huge rare earth reserves.

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