AP News in Brief 09-22-19

  • This undated file photo released by the Long Beach, Calif., Police Department shows weapons and ammunition seized from a cook at a Los Angeles-area hotel who allegedly threatened a mass shooting. (Long Beach Police Department/via AP, File)

Democrats blast latest Trump crisis. But what will they do?

WASHINGTON — A whistleblower’s complaint over President Donald Trump’s interactions with a foreign leader is testing the political and practical power Democrats can use against a Republican in the White House who so brazenly ignores protocol and presidential norms.

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Democrats were unanimous in their condemnation of Trump for going to extraordinary lengths to tear down a chief political rival by asking the new leader of Ukraine to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden. But even as calls for impeachment amplified — Elizabeth Warren blasted Congress as “complicit” in Trump’s transgressions — there were no signs that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would move quickly to try to remove the president.

Allies of Biden, the early front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, seized on the developments to portray him as the candidate Trump least wants to face next fall.

But the controversy could just as easily revive interest in the business activities of Biden’s son, which would do little to further his campaign. Taken together, the developments bear a striking resemblance to the tumult of the 2016 campaign, in which Trump was accused of enlisting a foreign power to help him win an election.

The president on Saturday denied any wrongdoing, and his most vocal allies and critics were energized. Political operatives in both parties suggested that for many increasingly numb to a constant sense of crisis, the fresh explosion of political drama may not seem so alarming.

Colombia says Maduro’s “brutality” must end

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia’s president compared Nicolás Maduro to Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic as he goes on a diplomatic offensive to corral the Venezuelan socialist, warning that he would be making a “stupid” mistake if he were to attack his U.S.-backed neighbor.

Ivan Duque made the comments in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press before traveling to New York where he is expected to condemn Maduro before the United Nations General Assembly as an abusive autocrat. Duque believes Maduro is not only responsible for the country’s humanitarian catastrophe but is also now a threat to regional stability for his alleged harboring of Colombian rebels.

“The brutality of Nicolás Maduro is comparable to Slobodan Milosevic,” said Duque, who has called on the International Criminal Court to investigate Maduro for human rights abuses. “It must come to an end.”

While Duque refused to rule out a military strike against the Marxist rebels he claims are hiding out across the border, he said any aggression by Venezuela’s armed forces would immediately trigger a regional response that could include additional sanctions and diplomatic actions.

“If they consider doing something so stupid, they know what the consequences will be,” said Duque.

UAW strike puts Trump, GOP in political bind in key states

LANSING, Mich. — Democrats were quick to back working-class United Auto Workers in their strike against General Motors, delivering doughnuts and holding picket signs outside factories to show solidarity. It’s a union they long have aligned with politically.

There were no doughnuts from Republicans.

Led by President Donald Trump, GOP officials have largely avoided taking sides in the strike that threatens to upend the economy in Michigan, an election battleground, a year before the 2020 vote. Both here and nationally, most Republicans said little about the substance of the dispute beyond hope for a speedy resolution.

The muted response reflects the tricky politics of labor for Republicans.

Trump has made inroads with members of some unions, due partly to promises to get tough on trade and keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. The message pulled key voters away from their Democratic union bosses, who Trump argues are corrupt.

US police assess rise in threat tips after 3 mass killings

LOS ANGELES — It had all the makings of a massacre. Six guns, including a Colt AR-15 rifle. About 1,000 rounds of ammunition. A bulletproof vest. And an angry Southern California man who threated to kill his co-workers at a hotel and its guests.

But a concerned colleague intervened, alerting authorities who arrested 37-year-old Rodolfo Montoya, a cook at the Long Beach Marriott hotel, the next day and discovered the arsenal where he lived in a rundown motor home parked near industrial buildings.

In the weeks after three high-profile shootings in three states took the lives of more than two dozen people in one week in August, law enforcement authorities nationwide reported a spike in tips from concerned relatives, friends and co-workers about people who appear bent on carrying out the next mass shooting.

Some of those would-be shooters sent text messages to friends or posted on social media that they hoped to one-up previous mass shootings by killing more people.

The reasons for the increase in tips and heightened awareness of thwarted mass shootings vary, law enforcement officials said.

Trump heads to UN with long list of deals he’s yet to close

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, a self-described deal-maker, is saddled with a long list of unresolved foreign policy deals he has yet to close heading into his U.N. visit this coming week.

There are challenges with Iran, North Korea, the Afghan Taliban, Israel and the Palestinians — not to mention a number of trade pacts. Some are inching forward. Some have stalled.

Trump has said repeatedly that he is in “no rush” to wrap up the deals. But negotiations take time. He is nearly three years into his presidency and the 2020 election looms, which will crimp his ability to tend to unfinished foreign business.

“I don’t blame the president for having so many deals open,” said Nicholas Burns, a former undersecretary of state who has worked for Republican and Democratic presidents.

“But I do think you have to be tough-minded as citizens and grade him,” Burns said. “How’s he doing? Well, in my book, he doesn’t have a single major foreign policy achievement in more than 2½ years in office.”

From wire sources

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4 die after bus with Chinese tourists crashes in Utah

PANGUITCH, Utah — A tour bus carrying 30 Chinese tourists left Las Vegas in the morning and set off through the other worldly red-rock landscape of southern Utah toward Bryce National Park.

They were only a few miles away from the park when the long-awaited overseas vacation turned into a tragic nightmare.

The driver veered off the edge of the road. When he yanked the steering wheel to put the bus back onto the highway Friday morning, the momentum sent the bus rolling down into a guard rail, leaving carnage and debris in its wake on a two-lane highway, authorities said.

Four people were killed, and five others are in critical condition. The rest of the passengers survived, but every single person aboard suffered some kind of injury. Twelve remained hospitalized on Saturday.

As is common in tour buses, not everyone was wearing a seatbelt when the bus from a tour company based in Southern California rolled, crushing its roof and ramming the guard rail’s vertical posts into the cab, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street said.

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Sheriff: 2 dead, 8 wounded in South Carolina bar shooting

LANCASTER, S.C. — Two men were fatally shot early Saturday at a South Carolina sports bar and eight other people were wounded in the gunfire, authorities said. A suspect was being sought.

The shooting occurred in Lancaster, a community about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Charlotte, North Carolina. Coroner Karla Deese told news outlets that the dead have been identified as Henry Lee Colvin, 39, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Aaron Harris, 38, of Kershaw, South Carolina.

Authorities said four other people with injuries were airlifted to medical facilities for treatment after the shooting and that four others received treatment locally for non-critical injuries. An eleventh person had minor injuries while falling in an attempt to flee the scene, officials said.

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The shooting broke out at the Old Skool Sports Bar &Grill in Lancaster.

“I believe it was one person targeting another,” Sheriff Barry Faile said at a news conference Saturday. “Unfortunately, we had 10 victims that got shot.”

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