Friday, September 20, 2019 11:04 pm
AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT
The Associated Press
Trump, in call, urged Ukraine to investigate Biden's son
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump urged the new leader of Ukraine this summer to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a person familiar with the matter said Friday. Democrats condemned what they saw as a clear effort to damage a political rival, now at the heart of an explosive whistleblower complaint against Trump.
It was the latest revelation in an escalating controversy that has created a showdown between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration, which has refused to turn over the formal complaint by a national security official or even describe its contents.
Trump defended himself Friday against the intelligence official's complaint, angrily declaring it came from a "partisan whistleblower," though he also said he didn't know who had made it. The complaint was based on a series of events, one of which was a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to a two people familiar with the matter. The people were not authorized to discuss the issue by name and were granted anonymity.
Trump, in that call, urged Zelenskiy to probe the activities of potential Democratic rival Biden's son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company, according to one of the people, who was briefed on the call. Trump did not raise the issue of U.S. aid to Ukraine, indicating there was not an explicit quid pro quo, according to the person.
Biden reacted strongly late Friday, saying that if the reports are true, "then there is truly no bottom to President Trump's willingness to abuse his power and abase our country." He said Trump should release the transcript of his July phone conversation with Zelenskiy "so that the American people can judge for themselves."
US to send troops to Saudi Arabia, hold off on striking Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon on Friday announced it will deploy additional U.S. troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as President Donald Trump has at least for now put off any immediate military strike on Iran in response to the attack on the Saudi oil industry.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Pentagon reporters this is a first step to beef up security and he would not rule out additional moves down the road. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more details about the deployment will be determined in the coming days, but it would not involve thousands of U.S. troops.
Other officials said the U.S. deployment would likely be in the hundreds and the defensive equipment heading to the Middle East would probably include Patriot missile batteries and possibly enhanced radars.
The announcement reflected Trump's comments earlier in the day when he told reporters that showing restraint "shows far more strength" than launching military strikes and he wanted to avoid an all-out war with Iran.
Instead, he laid out new sanctions on the Iranian central bank and said the easiest thing to do would be to launch military strikes.
Bus with Chinese-speaking tourists crashes in Utah; 4 dead
PANGUITCH, Utah (AP) — A tour bus crashed on a highway running through the red-rock landscape of southern Utah on Friday, killing four people from China and injuring dozens more.
The bus from of Southern California rolled onto a guard rail, crushing its roof and ramming the rail's vertical posts into the cab, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street said.
Five passengers remained in critical condition Friday night, and the death toll could rise, he said.
All 31 people on board were hurt. Twelve to 15 on board were considered to be in critical condition shortly after the crash, but several of them have since improved, Street said. Not everyone was wearing a seatbelt, as is common in tour buses, he said.
The crash happened near a highway rest stop a few miles from southern Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park, an otherworldly landscape of narrow red-rock spires.
Revelers reach gates of Area 51 then peacefully rejoin party
HIKO, Nev. (AP) — Thousands of curious Earthlings from around the globe traveled to festivals, and several hundred made forays toward the secret Area 51 military base in the Nevada desert on Friday, drawn by an internet buzz and a social media craze sparked by a summertime Facebook post inviting people to "Storm Area 51."
"They can't stop all of us," the post joked. "Lets see them aliens."
In the end — at the appointed hour of 3 a.m. Sept. 20 — about 75 to 100 people braved chilly darkness and a bumpy, dusty 8-mile (13-kilometer) drive to the Rachel gate of the legendary former top-secret U.S. Air Force base. Another 40 traveled about 20 miles (32 kilometers) a more rugged washboard-dirt road to a different gate.
The sheriff in neighboring Nye County reported that about 40 people gathered overnight at a conspicuously green "Area 51 Alien Center" in Amargosa Valley about 3 a.m. and approached a base gate before leaving after "heated warnings" from officers.
No one found UFOs or space aliens, Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said.
'I want a future': Global youth protests urge climate action
NEW YORK (AP) — Young people afraid for their futures protested around the globe Friday to implore leaders to tackle climate change, turning out by the hundreds of thousands to insist that the warming world can't wait any longer.
Marches, rallies and demonstrations were held from Canberra to Kabul and Cape Town to New York. More than 100,000 turned out in Berlin.
Days before a U.N. climate summit of world leaders, the "Global Climate Strike" events were as small as two dozen activists in Seoul using LED flashlights to send Morse code messages and as large as mass demonstrations in Australia that organizers estimated were the country's largest since the Iraq War began in 2003.
"You are leading the way in the urgent race against the climate crisis," U.N. Secretary General António Guterres wrote in a message to the young protesters on Twitter. "You are on the right side of history. Keep pushing us to do the right thing."
In New York, where public schools excused students with parental permission, tens of thousands of mostly young people marched through lower Manhattan, briefly shutting down some streets.
Women leave Montana town over border agency lawsuit backlash
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A woman who is suing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection after an agent questioned her and a friend for speaking Spanish in a convenience store said Friday the backlash to their lawsuit has forced them to move away from their small Montana city.
Ana Suda and her family have been harassed by neighbors, strangers and even schoolchildren in the city of Havre ever since a video of a border agent questioning her and Martha "Mimi" Hernandez was uploaded to YouTube, Suda said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. One version of the video has been viewed more than 123,000 times since February.
Suda and her two children have been living with relatives in El Paso, Texas, for the past 1 ˝ months while her husband — a Customs and Border Protection employee himself — is seeking a job transfer to join them.
"I can't take it anymore," Suda said. "Our lives are not the same, it's not the same anymore. These guys destroyed everything we have."
Hernandez has been living in Great Falls but still commutes to her job in Havre, said their attorney, Alex Rate of the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana.
History buff finds ships that sank in 1878 in Lake Michigan
DETROIT (AP) — A diver and maritime history buff has found two schooners that collided and sank into the cold depths of northern Lake Michigan more than 140 years ago.
Bernie Hellstrom, of Boyne City, Michigan, said he was looking for shipwrecks about 10 years ago when a depth sounder on his boat noted a large obstruction about 200 feet (60 meters) down on the lake bottom near Beaver Island.
"I've made hundreds of trips to Beaver Island and every trip I go out the sounder is on," he told The Associated Press on Friday. "But if you happen to see something that's not normal, you go back. A lot are nothing but fish schools. This was 400 feet of boat. There's nothing out there that big that's missing."
He returned to the area in June with a custom-made camera system and discovered the Peshtigo and St. Andrews about 10 feet (3 meters) apart with their masts atop one another. The hull of one of the ships has a huge gash.
It had been believed the ships sank in 1878 farther to the east in the Straits of Mackinac in Lake Huron. But only one ship could be found and that was thought to be the St. Andrews.
AP Source: Altered doping data could restart Russian scandal
The Russian anti-doping agency could face suspension again based on information indicating data from the Moscow drug-testing lab had been manipulated before being delivered to the World Anti-Doping Agency earlier this year, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press.
WADA reinstated Russia's anti-doping agency (RUSADA) after gaining access to long-sought-after data that was to be used to confirm doping positives stemming from the country's plans to cheat so athletes could win medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and other events.
Handing over the data was among the critical requirements for the reinstatement, and WADA extended a Dec. 31, 2018 deadline by more than two weeks, then deemed its negotiations a success when it received the data.
But eight months later, and with the Tokyo Olympics less than a year away, there is a report indicating the data might have been manipulated before it was handed over, according the person familiar with the report, who spoke to AP but requested anonymity because the report had not been made public.
WADA's compliance review committee is expected to present the information to the agency's executive committee, which meets Monday in Tokyo. Track and field's governing body, the IAAF, and the organization that handles its doping cases, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), are also expected to review the information while in Doha, Qatar, next week for track world championships.
Hurricane Lorena threatens Mexico's resort-studded Baja
CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Residents and tourists hunkered down in homes, shelters and hotels as Hurricane Lorena menaced Mexico's resort-studded Baja California Peninsula on Friday, threatening damaging winds, flash floods and life-imperiling surf.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center reported that the storm's eye was near the southern end of the Baja California Peninsula in the evening, and said Lorena's future track was "highly uncertain."
Earlier police and soldiers went through low-lying, low-income neighborhoods, urging people to evacuate. Locals who have been through past hurricanes took no chances, pulling boats from the water and boarding up windows and doors.
"If we don't get the yacht out, the waves can damage it," said Juan Hernández, who rents his craft to foreign visitors. It's "a preventative measure for when a cyclone threatens."
Authorities in Los Cabos said 787 people had taken refuge at 18 storm shelters.
American, Australian luminaries gather at White House dinner
WASHINGTON (AP) — A glittering crowd of American and Australian luminaries gathered under the stars in the White House Rose Garden on Friday, resolutely "celebrating" even as serious matters of national security and presidential politics combined to cast a cloud over President Donald Trump.
Not long before the president and first lady Melania Trump stepped out of the White House front door and welcomed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife, Jenny, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the deployment of additional U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf region in response to a recent attack on the Saudi oil industry. At the same time, a controversy intensified over a conversation Trump had with Ukraine's new president.
Some guests attending just the second state dinner of the Trump administration sought to keep the conversation on the lighter side.
"I'm looking forward to celebrating tonight," Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina said when he was asked about the day's breaking news.
"Ha ha ha," came the response from Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who tipped his head back and laughed when he was asked about the bewildering answers he gave about Trump's conversation with the Ukrainian leader during a nationally televised interview Thursday. A person familiar with the matter said the Republican president urged his East European counterpart during a summertime telephone conversation to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, who is among the leading Democrats vying for the chance to deny Trump reelection in November 2020.