AP News in Brief 12-01-19

China accuses UN rights chief of inflaming Hong Kong political unrest

HONG KONG — China accused the U.N. high commissioner for human rights of emboldening “radical violence” in Hong Kong by suggesting the city’s leader conduct an investigation into reports of excessive use of force by police.

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The U.N. commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, wrote in an opinion piece Saturday in the South China Morning Post that Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s government must prioritize “meaningful, inclusive” dialogue to resolve the crisis.

She urged Lam to hold an “independent and impartial judge-led investigation” into police conduct of protests. It has been one of key demands of pro-democracy demonstrations that have roiled the territory since June.

China’s U.N. mission in Geneva said that Bachelet’s article interferes in the internal affairs of China and exerts pressure on the city’s government and police, which “will only embolden the rioters to conduct more severe radical violence.”

It said Bachelet made “inappropriate comments” on the situation in Hong Kong and that the Chinese side had lodged a strong protest in response.

Biden launches Iowa trip with focus on Trump, rural America

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Joe Biden launched an eight-day bus tour of Iowa on Saturday projecting confidence, ignoring his many Democratic presidential competitors and pledging that he will unseat President Donald Trump in 2020.

The former vice president pledged first to win the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, despite recent polls suggesting his standing there has slipped in recent months.

“I promise you, I promise you,” Biden told a few hundred supporters outside his Council Bluff campaign office, “we’re going to win this race, and we’re going to beat Donald Trump, and we’re going to change America.”

Behind the optimism, Biden aides acknowledge he must sharpen his message and bolster his voter outreach operation ahead of the caucuses that start Democrats’ 2020 voting. But his advisers also insist he has wide support and remains well-positioned to recover any lost ground.

His chief argument — his perceived strength against Trump — was on clear display Saturday. Sidestepping his philosophical tussle with progressive Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders over the party’s direction, Biden struck a general-election posture. He added an emphasis on small town and rural America, an electoral swath where Democrats have struggled in recent elections but that could prove critical in both the nominating fight and November battlegrounds.

Powerful storm, heavy snow/wind push into Midwest

Wintry weather bedeviled Thanksgiving weekend travelers across the United States Saturday as a powerful and dangerous storm moved eastward, dumping heavy snow from parts of California to the northern Midwest and inundating other areas with rain.

Authorities found the bodies of two young children, including a 5-year-old boy, and a third child was missing in central Arizona after a vehicle was swept away while attempting to cross a runoff-swollen creek. A storm-related death also was reported in South Dakota.

From wire sources

The National Weather Service said the storm was expected to drop 6 to 12 inches (15-30 centimeters) of snow from the northern Plains states into Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

Blizzard conditions early Saturday were already buffeting the High Plains. The city of Duluth, Minnesota, issued a “no travel advisory” beginning at noon Saturday because of a major snow storm it termed “historic.”

Duluth officials asked the public to be patient as plows clear roadways and recommended that drivers stay off the roads to prevent accidents and let officers respond more quickly to emergencies.

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AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s Ukraine defense collides with facts

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s defense of his actions with Ukraine collides with the known facts and the testimony of witnesses on multiple fronts as the impeachment inquiry moves into a new phase this coming week.

In recent days, Trump has cried foul in ways angry and profane as Democrats set the stage for House Judiciary Committee hearings likely to produce articles of impeachment.

A review of rhetoric on this and other matters over the past week:

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TRUMP: “We had a great two weeks watching these crooked politicians not giving us due process, not giving us lawyers, not giving us the right to speak and destroying their witnesses. It fell apart. Those were their witnesses. We weren’t allowed any rights.” — Florida rally Tuesday.

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No. 16 Auburn upends No. 5 Alabama’s playoff hopes, 48-45

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Shaun Shivers scored on an 11-yard run with 8:08 left to put No. 16 Auburn ahead and another failed field goal by Alabama in the Iron Bowl wiped away the fifth-ranked Crimson Tide’s playoff hopes in a wild 48-45 victory for the Tigers on Saturday.

Auburn (9-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) survived a final, marathon Crimson Tide drive when Joseph Bulovas’ 30-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright with 2:00 left.

Auburn couldn’t get a first down on JaTarvious Whitlow’s three runs while Alabama (10-2, 6-2) burned its final two time outs. But the Tide was called for illegal substitution after the Tigers lined up for a punt, setting off a fist-pumping celebration for coach Gus Malzahn.

Auburn fans stormed the field to celebrate another Iron Bowl thriller, filling it from end zone to end zone as they did in the 2013 Kick-Six game, when the Tigers’ returned a missed Tide field goal for a game-winning touchdown.

The Tide had made the first five College Football Playoffs fields, but its case was damaged with a 46-41 loss to No. 1 LSU. The team’s in-state rival delivered the final blow.

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No. 2 Ohio State beats No. 10 Michigan 56-27 for record run

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Ohio State has turned what’s known as The Game into ITS Game, making one of the greatest rivalries in sports a one-sided series with little suspense.

Chasing a national championship, not simply beating the Wolverines, is how the Buckeyes measure a successful season.

And under first-year coach Ryan Day, they have put themselves in a position to potentially win it all for the second time since the 2014 season and third time this century.

J.K. Dobbins ran for four touchdowns and Justin Fields threw four TD passes, providing plenty of firepower for No. 2 Ohio State to rout No. 10 Michigan 56-27 Saturday for a school-record eighth straight win in the series.

“It feels great just to continue the legacy of this great Ohio State tradition,” defensive end Chase Young said. “We’re just going to try to keep it moving and keep it rolling next week.”

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1 year later, mystery surrounds China’s gene-edited babies

Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world by claiming he had helped make the first gene-edited babies. One year later, mystery surrounds his fate as well as theirs.

He has not been seen publicly since January, his work has not been published and nothing is known about the health of the babies.

“That’s the story — it’s all cloaked in secrecy, which is not productive for the advance of understanding,” said Stanford bioethicist Dr. William Hurlbut.

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He talked with Hurlbut many times before He revealed at a Hong Kong science conference that he had used a tool called CRISPR to alter a gene in embryos to try to help them resist infection with the AIDS virus. The work, which He discussed in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press, was denounced as medically unnecessary and unethical because of possible harm to other genes and because the DNA changes can pass to future generations.

Since then, many people have called for regulations or a moratorium on similar work, but committees have bogged down over who should set standards and how to enforce them.

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