AP News in Brief at 11:03 p.m. EDT

AP News in Brief at 11:03 p.m. EDT
Published July 22

Deal sealed on federal budget, ensuring no shutdown, default

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and congressional leaders announced Monday a critical debt and budget agreement that's an against-the-odds victory for Washington pragmatists seeking to avoid political and economic tumult over the possibility of a government shutdown or first-ever federal default.

The deal, announced by Trump on Twitter and in a statement by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, will restore the government's ability to borrow to pay its bills past next year's elections and build upon recent large budget gains for both the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

"I am pleased to announce that a deal has been struck," Trump tweeted, saying there will be no "poison pills" added to follow-up legislation. "This was a real compromise in order to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!"

The agreement is on a broad outline for $1.37 trillion in agency spending next year and slightly more in fiscal 2021. It would mean a win for lawmakers eager to return Washington to a more predictable path amid political turmoil and polarization, defense hawks determined to cement big military increases and Democrats seeking to protect domestic programs.

Nobody notched a big win, but both sides view it as better than a protracted battle this fall.

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Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans demand governor resign

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Waving flags, chanting and banging pots and pans, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans jammed a highway Monday to demand the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in a crisis triggered by a leak of offensive, obscenity-laden chat messages between him and his advisers.

The demonstration appeared to be the biggest protest on the island in nearly two decades.

"Finally, the government's mask has fallen," said Jannice Rivera, a 43-year-old mechanical engineer who lives in Houston but was born and raised in Puerto Rico and flew in to join the crowds.

The protest came 10 days after the leak of 889 pages of online chats in which Rosselló and some of his close aides insulted women and mocked constituents, including victims of Hurricane Maria.

The leak has intensified long-smoldering anger in the U.S. territory over persistent corruption and mismanagement by the island's two main political parties, a severe debt crisis, a sickly economy and a slow recovery from Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017.

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Venezuela capital in the dark again after massive blackout

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The lights went out across much of Venezuela Monday, reviving fears of the blackouts that plunged the country into chaos a few months ago as the government once again accused opponents of sabotaging the nation's hydroelectric power system.

The power in the capital went out after 4 p.m. (2000 GMT) and immediately backed up traffic as stop lights and the subway stopped working during rush hour.

"This is horrible, a disaster," Reni Blanco, a 48-year-old teacher, said as she joined a crush of people who flooded into the streets of the capital trying to make it home before nightfall.

Almost three hours into the blackout authorities broke their silence and blamed an "electromagnetic attack" on a series of dams located in southern Venezuela — the same culprit it attributed an almost week-long outage in March that left millions of Venezuelans without water or the ability to communicate with loved ones.

"Those who've systematically attacked the noble people of Venezuela in all kinds of ways will once again be confronted with the mettle and courage that we, the children of our liberator Simón Bolívar, have demonstrated in the face of difficulties," Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez said in a statement read on state TV.

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Protester voices: What Puerto Rico demonstrators are saying

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — José Troche, a 64-year-old doctor from Yauco, sat under the shade in a beach chair as he waited for the march to begin.

"This right now is a dream," he said as he gestured toward the massive crowd in Puerto Rico's capital. "The people are united."

Troche believes Puerto Rico is at a crossroads, and that the upheaval will force people to be more conscious about who they vote into office next year. He said the historic protests have changed the way people think about the island's political parties and their associations with them: "We have to kick out everyone who is a traitor to the people, regardless of their (political) color."

When he was younger, he imagined Puerto Rico would have a strong economy and be self-sufficient by this time, but he doesn't see that happening for at least another 40 years.

"They have misspent the money, and now we're paying for it," he said in reference to government officials. "We're indignant with the island's situation; so much corruption and lack of respect."

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Analysis: Hong Kong protests could push China to intervene

BEIJING (AP) — While China doesn't want to intervene in the summer-long protests that have shaken Hong Kong, that doesn't mean it won't.

The movement, now in its seventh week, has veered into more dangerous territory on two fronts.

Protesters, who had previously besieged the city's legislature and police headquarters, directed their ire at China itself on Sunday, defacing the central government's official emblem and pelting its building in Hong Kong with eggs. Needless to say, their actions were not well-received in Beijing.

In an escalation on the other side, a group armed with metal rods and wooden poles beat up anti-government protesters and others inside a subway station late Sunday night. The attack injured 45 people, including a man who remained in critical condition. Beijing supporters had tussled with protesters previously, but not on this scale.

Neither side wants China's People's Liberation Army to step in, but the growing chaos and what China will see as a direct challenge to its authority raise the risks. The thuggish attack on the protesters brought accusations of connivance between police and criminal gangs, though Hong Kong's police commissioner flatly denied it and it remained unclear who was behind it.

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Chris Kraft, 1st flight director for NASA, dies at 95

WASHINGTON (AP) — Behind America's late leap into orbit and triumphant small step on the moon was the agile mind and guts-of-steel of Chris Kraft, making split-second decisions that propelled the nation to once unimaginable heights.

Kraft, the creator and longtime leader of NASA's Mission Control, died Monday in Houston, just two days after the 50th anniversary of what was his and NASA's crowning achievement: Apollo 11's moon landing. He was 95.

Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr. never flew in space, but "held the success or failure of American human spaceflight in his hands," Neil Armstrong, the first man-on-the-moon, told The Associated Press in 2011.

Kraft founded Mission Control and created the job of flight director — later comparing it to an orchestra conductor — and established how flights would be run as the space race between the U.S. and Soviets heated up. The legendary engineer served as flight director for all of the one-man Mercury flights and seven of the two-man Gemini flights, helped design the Apollo missions that took 12 Americans to the moon from 1969 to 1972 and later served as director of the Johnson Space Center until 1982, overseeing the beginning of the era of the space shuttle.

Armstrong once called him "the man who was the 'Control' in Mission Control."

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Ready to fight, Trump says he'll watch 'a little' of Mueller

NEW YORK (AP) — He won't watch. Well, maybe just a little bit.

President Donald Trump on Monday feigned indifference to Robert Mueller's upcoming congressional testimony, an eyebrow-raising claim for a media-obsessed president who has been concerned for months about the potential impact of the former special counsel's appearance.

Much of Washington will stop in its tracks Wednesday as Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill for at least five hours, a nationally televised event that for many Americans will be their first detailed exposure to the former special counsel's findings on Russia's 2016 election interference.

The Justice Department on Monday told Mueller his testimony should not go beyond information that has already been released publicly.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office: "I'm not going to be watching — probably — maybe I'll see a little bit of it. I'm not going to be watching Mueller because you can't take all those bites out of the apple."

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Trump expands fast-track deportation authority across US

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Trump administration announced Monday that it will vastly extend the authority of immigration officers to deport migrants without allowing them to appear before judges, its second major policy shift on immigration in eight days.

Starting Tuesday, fast-track deportations can apply to anyone in the country illegally for less than two years. Previously, those deportations were largely limited to people arrested almost immediately after crossing the Mexican border.

Kevin McAleenan, the acting Homeland Security secretary, portrayed the nationwide extension of "expedited removal" authority as another Trump administration effort to address an "ongoing crisis on the southern border" by freeing up beds in detention facilities and reducing a backlog of more than 900,000 cases in immigration courts.

U.S. authorities do not have space to detain "the vast majority" of people arrested on the Mexican border, leading to the release of hundreds of thousands with notices to appear in court, McAleenan said in the policy directive to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register. He said Homeland Security officials with the new deportation power will deport migrants in the country illegally more quickly than the Justice Department's immigration courts, where cases can take years to resolve.

The agency "expects that the full use of expedited removal statutory authority will strengthen national security, diminish the number of illegal entries, and otherwise ensure the prompt removal of aliens apprehended in the United States," McAleenan said.

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Study: Millions should stop taking aspirin for heart health

WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of people who take aspirin to prevent a heart attack may need to rethink the pill-popping, Harvard researchers reported Monday.

A daily low-dose aspirin is recommended for people who have already had a heart attack or stroke and for those diagnosed with heart disease.

But for the otherwise healthy, that advice has been overturned. Guidelines released this year ruled out routine aspirin use for many older adults who don't already have heart disease — and said it's only for certain younger people under doctor's orders.

How many people need to get that message?

Some 29 million people 40 and older were taking an aspirin a day despite having no known heart disease in 2017, the latest data available, according to a new study from Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. About 6.6 million of them were doing so on their own — a doctor never recommended it.

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Angels' Skaggs remembered and praised at memorial service

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs has been remembered at a memorial service as a beloved son, husband, teammate and friend whose upbeat personality brought joy to everyone around him.

Skaggs' teammates and family gathered at a Catholic church in his native Santa Monica on Monday to remember Skaggs, who was found dead in his hotel room in Texas on July 1. He died just short of his 28th birthday.

Hundreds of attendees laughed and cried at the eulogies from 14 speakers, including Angels current pitcher Andrew Heaney. The final speaker was Carli Skaggs, the pitcher's wife.

The current Angels were joined by former team members including manager Mike Scioscia, Jered Weaver, Garrett Richards and David Freese.

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