Trump heads for golf club holiday as summer storms loom
NEW YORK (AP) — Now is the summer (vacation) of the president’s discontent.
As Donald Trump prepares to leave on Friday for his annual August holiday at his lush New Jersey golf club, he’s confronting a storm of crises, at home and abroad, that could set the course for his upcoming re-election bid.
With his poll numbers stalled and his ability to rally the country questioned, he’s being tested by an escalating trade war with China that may slow the economy, rising tensions with both Iran and North Korea and, in the aftermath of the mass shootings last weekend, pressure to act on guns and face accusations of his own role in fostering an environment of hate.
The dark clouds are converging as the Republican president’s bid for a second term takes on new urgency. Trump exudes confidence but as the two dozen Democrats eager to take his job sharpen their attacks, the White House — or, for the next 10 days, the clubhouse in Bedminster, New Jersey — will have to mount a multifront effort rooted in maintaining his base rather than trying to expand it.
“There are often presidents facing reelection who face an onslaught,” said Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian at Rice University. “Those are the times when you need to heal the nation’s wounds or make your case for a real change. But Trump long ago decided that he was going to try to be a president who divided and conquered to intimidate friend and foe alike.”
Biden centers campaign where he started: Trump’s character
BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Joe Biden’s campaign is not anchored in a big policy idea like Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All. He is not proposing transformative change like Elizabeth Warren. Instead, Biden’s call to voters is a more visceral one, casting the 2020 race as a test of the country’s character.
The recent back-to-back mass killings in Texas and Ohio have, for now, allowed Biden to re-center his campaign on those ideas. After spending the past three months largely on defense over a long policy record that draws fire from Democratic Party’s most progressive corners, Biden reasserted himself this week with a blistering takedown of President Donald Trump’s racist language and the ways in which some of the president’s anti-immigrant outbursts could have inspired one of the shootings.
“I will not let this man be re-elected president of the United States of America,” Biden said this week in Iowa, where he weaved between hushed disappointment and incredulous fury over a president who offers “no moral leadership.”
Biden has hardly been alone among Democratic presidential candidates in assailing Trump after the latest killings. The accused shooter in El Paso has been linked to a racist screed that echoed many of the president’s own tirades about an immigrant “invasion,” prompting at least two of Biden’s rivals to brand Trump a “white supremacist.”
Yet only Biden has made questions of character — that of Trump and the nation — the centerpiece of his White House bid. He says it was Trump’s equivocating response to the 2017 racial clash in Charlottesville, Virginia, that prompted him to run and he has repeatedly declared the election a battle “for the soul of the nation.”
Curfew to be eased in Kashmir’s main city for Friday prayers
NEW DELHI (AP) — A strict curfew keeping residents of Indian-controlled Kashmir in their homes for a fifth day was being eased for Friday prayers, the police chief said.
The mostly-Muslim region has been under an unprecedented security lockdown and near-total communications blackout to prevent unrest as India’s Hindu nationalist-led government announced it was revoking Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrading its statehood.
“People will be allowed to go to the area-specific mosques for the prayers in most parts of the Srinagar city,” the region’s police chief, Dilbagh Singh, told The Associated Press.
The relaxing of the curfew in Kashmir’s main city was temporary but a precise timeframe wasn’t given. Friday prayers start at 12:37 p.m. in Srinagar and last for about 20 minutes.
The Press Trust of India news agency said authorities will allow people to offer prayers in small local mosques, but there will be no Friday congregation at the historic Jama Masjid where thousands of Muslim pray every week.
10 Things to Know for Today
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
1. STORMS BREW AHEAD OF TRUMP’S GOLF HOLIDAY
With his poll numbers stalled and his ability to rally the country questioned, the president is being tested by an escalating trade war with China, rising tensions with both Iran and North Korea and, in the aftermath of the latest mass shootings, pressure to act on guns and face accusations of his own role in fostering an environment of hate.
2. EMBATTLED HEAD OF NRA PUSHES BACK ON GUN CONTROL-MEASURES
Wayne LaPierre has been engulfed in turmoil and legal issues as he orchestrates the group’s latest effort to push back against gun-control measures.
Scandal-ridden NRA head LaPierre digs in against gun control
In the aftermath of the back-to-back shooting massacres in Texas and Ohio, the debate over gun control has returned to the National Rifle Association and its immense power to stymie any significant legislation on the issue.
The man largely responsible for the NRA’s uncompromising stance is its decades-long CEO, Wayne LaPierre, who has been engulfed in turmoil and legal issues as he orchestrates the group’s latest effort to push back against gun control measures.
Law enforcement authorities are investigating the NRA’s finances, and the gun group has ousted top officials and traded lawsuits with the longtime marketing firm credited with helping to shape LaPierre’s and the NRA’s image.
LaPierre’s seven-figure salary, penchant for luxury clothing shopping sprees and reports that he sought to have the NRA buy him a $6 million mansion at an exclusive golf community have drawn considerable scrutiny amid allegations of rampant misspending.
Ardent gun rights supporters have turned on LaPierre in recent months, taking to Twitter and Facebook with the hashtags #changethenra and #savethe2a. Some are calling for his resignation and questioning how he can turn the tide against the push for more robust gun control measures after the Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, rampages, given all the scandals.
Immigration raids to have long-term effects on poultry towns
MORTON, Miss. (AP) — Effects of the largest immigration raid in at least a decade are likely to ripple for years through six Mississippi small towns that host poultry plants.
A store owner who caters to Latino poultry plant workers fears he will have to close. A school superintendent is trying to rebuild trust with the Spanish-speaking community. And the CEO of a local bank says the effects are likely to touch every business in her town.
More than 100 civil rights activists, union organizers and clergy members in Mississippi denounced the raid, but the state’s Republican Gov. Phil Bryant commended federal immigration authorities for the arrests, tweeting that anyone in the country illegally has to “bear the responsibility of that federal violation.”
Officials said 680 people were initially detained during Wednesday’s operation. U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement sent more than 300 of those people home by dawn Thursday, with notices to appear before immigration judges, said ICE spokesman Bryan Cox.
In the coming months, as those people await hearings, they’re unlikely to be able to work, and local churches are gathering food and money to provide aid.
Q&A: The hajj pilgrimage and its significance in Islam
Over 2 million Muslims from around the world are beginning the five-day hajj pilgrimage on Friday. They will circle Islam’s most sacred site, the cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca, and take part in a series of rituals intended to bring about greater humility and unity among Muslims.
The hajj this year comes at a time of heightened sectarian and political tensions in the Persian Gulf and as Muslim minorities in China, Myanmar, India, New Zealand and other countries face increased threats, even attacks.
Here’s a look at the pilgrimage and what it means for Muslims:
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE HAJJ?
McConnell wants to consider gun background checks in fall
WASHINGTON (AP) — Shifting the gun violence debate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he now wants to consider background checks and other bills, setting up a potentially pivotal moment when lawmakers return in the fall.
The Republican leader won’t be calling senators back to work early, as some are demanding. But he told a Kentucky radio station that President Donald Trump called him Thursday morning and they talked about several ideas. The president, he said, is “anxious to get an outcome and so am I.”
Stakes are high for all sides, but particularly for Trump and his party. Republicans have long opposed expanding background checks — a bill passed by the Democratic-led House is stalled in the Senate — but they face enormous pressure to do something after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, that killed 31 people. McConnell, who is facing protests outside his Louisville home, can shift attention back to Democrats by showing a willingness to engage ahead of the 2020 election.
“What we can’t do is fail to pass something,” McConnell said. “What I want to see here is an outcome.”
McConnell said he and Trump discussed various ideas on the call, including background checks and the so-called “red flag” laws that allow authorities to seize firearms from someone deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Huawei unveils phone system that could replace Android
BEIJING (AP) — Huawei on Friday unveiled a smartphone operating system that it said can replace Google’s Android, adding to the Chinese tech giant’s efforts to insulate itself against U.S. sanctions.
The announcement of HarmonyOS highlights the growing ability of Huawei, the No. 2 global smartphone brand and biggest maker of network gear for phone carriers, to create technology and reduce its reliance on American vendors.
U.S. curbs imposed in May threatened Huawei’s smartphone sales by limiting access to Android and blocking Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., from supporting music and other services based on the system.
Huawei Technologies Ltd. wants to keep using Android, Richard Yu, CEO of its consumer device unit, said at a conference for software developers in the southern city of Dongguan.
“However, if we cannot use it in the future we can immediately switch to HarmonyOS,” Yu said. He said that could be done in as little as two days if needed.
New Zealand police arrest 2 British men in huge meth bust
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand police said Friday they had arrested two British men after finding a huge stash of methamphetamine in an Auckland apartment that would have been worth tens of millions of dollars if sold on the street.
Police said they’ve been targeting a foreign criminal organization working in New Zealand as part of what they’re calling Operation Essex. They say the bust was one of the largest of its type in New Zealand.
Police said they searched the apartment last week and found plastic storage containers inside cardboard packing boxes that were filled with more than 200 kilograms (441 pounds) of meth with a street value of 144 million New Zealand dollars ($93 million).
In part due to New Zealand’s isolated location, drugs like methamphetamine tend to bring a higher price here than in many other parts of the world.
Detective Inspector Paul Newman told reporters they arrested a 60-year-old man at the apartment and a 49-year-old man at Auckland Airport. Both men remain in jail and have been charged with possessing methamphetamine with intent to supply.