AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT
Trump ‘strongly looking’ at releasing migrants in Dem cities
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday he is strongly considering releasing “Illegal Immigrants” into Democratic strongholds to punish congressional foes for inaction on the border— just hours after White House and Homeland Security officials insisted the idea had been rejected as fast as it had been proposed.
“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” Trump tweeted. He added that, “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!”
The reversal, which appeared to catch officials at the Department of Homeland Security off guard, came as critics were blasting Trump for the supposedly-rejected idea, accusing him of turning migrants into pawns to go after his political opponents. It comes as Trump has grown increasingly exasperated by a surge of Central American migrant families crossing the southern border and is looking for new ways to pressure congressional Democrats to change laws that he insists are making the problem worse.
Indeed, last week Trump urged his soon-to-be acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to seal the southern border and told McAleenan he would pardon him if he were to find himself in trouble for blocking legal asylum-seekers, according to two people familiar with the conversation who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a private exchange.
It was not clear whether the president was joking, and a Homeland Security spokesman said in a statement: “At no time has the president indicated, asked, directed or pressured the acting secretary to do anything illegal. ” The reported conversation came during the president’s trip last week to Calexico, California, a day after he announced he was delaying his threat to close the border because Mexico appeared to be stepping up its enforcement efforts.
Charging Assange reflects dramatic shift in US approach
WASHINGTON (AP) — The decision to seek the extradition of Julian Assange marked a dramatic new approach to the founder of WikiLeaks by the U.S. government, a shift that was signalled in the early days of the Trump administration.
President Barack Obama’s Justice Department had extensive internal debates about whether to charge Assange amid concerns the case might not hold up in court and would be viewed as an attack on journalism by an administration already taking heat for leak prosecutions.
But senior Trump administration officials seemed to make it clear early on that they held a different view, dialing up the rhetoric on the anti-secrecy organization shortly after it made damaging disclosures about the CIA’s cyberespionage tools.
“WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service,” former CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in April 2017 in his first public speech as head of the agency.
“Assange and his ilk,” Pompeo said, seek “personal self-aggrandizement through the destruction of Western values.”
Child attack suspect had previous Mall of America arrests
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A 5-year-old boy plummeted three floors Friday after being pushed or thrown from a balcony at the Mall of America, according to witnesses, and a 24-year-old man with a history of causing disturbances at the mall was in custody.
Bloomington Police Chief Jeffrey Potts said police don’t think there is any relationship between the man and the family of the child, who suffered life-threatening injuries. He was being treated at a hospital, but no details on his condition were immediately available.
Witnesses told police that the child may have been pushed or thrown from the mall’s third level to the first floor, Potts said. He said the suspect immediately took off running but was quickly found and arrested at the mall.
A witness said a woman screamed that her child was thrown from the balcony.
Brian Johnson told WCCO-TV the woman was screaming, “Everybody pray, everybody pray. Oh my God, my baby, someone threw him over the edge.”
Test taker pleads guilty in college admissions bribery scam
BOSTON (AP) — A former Florida prep school administrator pleaded guilty Friday to taking college entrance exams for students in exchange for cash to help wealthy parents get their kids into elite universities.
Mark Riddell admitted to secretly taking the ACT and SAT in place of students, or correcting their answers, as part of a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme, which has ensnared celebrities, business executives and athletic coaches at sought-after schools such as Stanford and Yale.
Riddell, who has been co-operating with authorities since February in the hopes of getting a lesser sentence, pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges.
The 36-year-old, wearing a dark suit and glasses, looked straight ahead and showed no emotion as assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen explained that prosecutors will seek a sentence at the low end of the guidelines, which call for 33 to 41 months in prison. Riddell’s lawyer declined comment and Riddell left the courthouse without answering questions from reporters.
He said in a statement last month that he is “profoundly sorry” and takes full responsibility for his actions.
Syria’s Assad: Last man standing amid new Arab uprisings
BEIRUT (AP) — It’s Arab Spring, season II, and he’s one of the few holdovers. The last man standing among a crop of Arab autocrats, after a new wave of protests forced the removal of the Algerian and Sudanese leaders from the posts they held for decades.
Syria’s President Bashar Assad has survived an uprising, a years-long ruinous war and an Islamic “caliphate” established over parts of his broken country. As the Syrian conflict enters its ninth year, the 53-year-old leader appears more secure and confident than at any time since the revolt against his rule began in 2011.
But the war for Syria is not over yet, and the path ahead is strewn with difficulties.
The back-to-back ouster of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika after two decades of rule and Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir after three, has been dubbed a “second Arab Spring,” after the 2011 wave of protests that shook the Middle East and deposed longtime dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
Social media has been filled with pictures of leaders at past Arab summits, noting almost all of them were now deposed except for Assad. Some pointed out ironically that al-Bashir’s last trip outside of Sudan in December was to Damascus, where he met with the Syrian leader.
FCC to hold big 5G auction, spend $20B for rural internet
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government will hold a massive auction later this year to bolster 5G service , the next generation of mobile networks. President Donald Trump showcased the announcement Friday, declaring that the race to stand up these faster, more powerful networks is a competition “America must win.”
“We cannot allow any other country to outcompete the United States in this powerful industry of the future,” Trump said at the White House. “We are leading by so much in so many different industries of that type, and we just can’t let that happen.”
Trump also announced a $20 billion plan to expand broadband access to rural areas currently without it, a decadelong extension of an existing program.
5G will mean faster wireless speeds and has implications for technologies like self-driving cars and augmented reality. Trump said it will transform the way people work, learn, communicate and travel, making farms more productive, manufacturers more competitive and health care better and more accessible. But experts say it’s hard to know now how much life will actually change because of the much-hyped network upgrade.
It will take years to roll out, and the highest data speeds and capacities may not reach rural areas at all.
How not to break the bank on streaming services
NEW YORK (AP) — With more TV streaming services than ever before, from newcomers like Disney Plus to stalwarts like Netflix, consumers may feel the ideal viewing experience is finally at hand.
Americans have, on average, three streaming video subscription services, according to a recent study of digital media trends by Deloitte. While some have dropped cable and its average bill of around $100 a month altogether, about 43% have both pay TV and streaming subscriptions.
Yet patching together a variety of services to get just what one wants isn’t always seamless. Families and individuals can still find themselves with service that doesn’t perfectly suit their viewing habits. And those monthly subscriptions can add up fast.
“It doesn’t make sense to pay for a bunch of content you have no interest in watching,” said Bruce McClary, vice-president of marketing for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “Finding a service that lets you scale your channel lineup based on your interests can also help you avoid paying for things you don’t need.”
A little research on which services are best for you can help save big bucks.
Ace Swedish coder held by Ecuador was defender of Assange
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — An ace Swedish programmer who was an early, ardent supporter of Wikileaks has been arrested in Ecuador in an alleged plot to blackmail the country’s president over his abandonment of Julian Assange.
But friends of Ola Bini say the soft-spoken encryption expert is being unfairly targeted for his activism on behalf of digital privacy.
Bini, 36, was arrested Thursday at the airport in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito as he prepared to board a flight to Japan. The arrest came just hours after Assange was evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Bini was carrying at least 30 electronic storage devices.
His lawyers said they have not been notified whether he’s been charged. Authorities said the plot hatched with two unidentified Russian hackers living in Ecuador involved threatening to release compromising documents about President Lenin Moreno as he toughened his stance against the Wikileaks founder.
“It’s up to the justice system to determine if he committed a crime,” Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said Friday. “But we can’t allow Ecuador to become a centre for piracy and spying. That period in our history is over.”
Shock at arrest of deputy’s son in black church fires
OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) — Authorities said he had no known criminal record. A friend described him as an introverted animal lover who showed no animosity toward any race, and a talented, if frustrated heavy metal guitar player and singer. A fellow musician called him “a really sweet guy.”
But Holden Matthews, the white, 21-year-old son of a Louisiana sheriff’s deputy, was behind bars Thursday, accused of torching three century-old African American churches during a 10-day period in and around Opelousas. The city of 16,000 people was set on edge by blazes, which evoked memories of terrorist acts during the civil rights movement.
A fragment of a charred gasoline can, surveillance video that captured what appeared to be his parents’ truck in key locations, debit card records and cellphone tracking techniques led authorities to arrest Matthews on Wednesday evening. But though the arrest affidavit showed how they linked Matthews to the crime, federal, state and local authorities who gathered for a Thursday news conference at the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office weren’t ready to discuss motive.
Eric Rommal, the agent in charge of the New Orleans FBI office, said investigators were still looking into whether the fires were “bias motivated.”
Matthews, who is scheduled for a Monday morning bond hearing, had a defender in Nygyl Bryyn Blackwolf, listed as Nygyl Bryyn among Matthews’ Facebook friends. Blackwolf identified himself as a south Louisiana native, musician, entrepreneur and owner of the independent record label Power Back Productions. In a telephone interview from Los Angeles on Thursday, he described Matthews as a talented, sometimes frustrated musician — upset in recent months after he was told he needed to improve the quality of his recordings — but not a racist or violent person.
Picture was clear, but black hole’s name a little fuzzy
WASHINGTON (AP) — The newly pictured supermassive black hole is a beast with no name, at least not an official one. And what happens next could be cosmically confusing.
The team of astronomers who created the image of the black hole called it M87(asterisk). (The asterisk is silent.) A language professor has given it a name from a Hawaiian chant — Powehi — meaning “the adorned fathomless dark creation.” And the international group in charge of handing out astronomical names? It has never named a black hole.
The black hole in question is about 53 million light years away in the centre of a galaxy called Messier 87, or M87 for short. On Wednesday, scientists revealed a picture they took of it using eight radio telescopes, the first time humans had actually seen one of the dense celestial objects that suck up everything around them, even light.
The International Astronomical Union usually takes care of names, but only for stuff inside our solar system and stars outside it. It doesn’t have a committee set up to handle other objects, like black holes, galaxies or nebulas.
The last time there was a similar situation, poor Pluto somehow got demoted to a dwarf planet, leading to public outcry, said Williams College astronomer Jay Pasachoff, a star-naming committee member.
The Associated Press
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