A rebuke for the president ... from Republicans
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump repeatedly tests the Republican Party's limits on issues including race, trade and immigration. Now he has struck a boundary.
GOP officials from New Hampshire to Mississippi to Iowa quickly pushed back against Trump's suggestion on Thursday that it might be necessary to delay the November election — which he cannot do without congressional approval — because of the unfounded threat of voter fraud. They reassured voters that the election would proceed on the constitutionally mandated day as it has for more than two centuries.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley was especially blunt: "All I can say is, it doesn't matter what one individual in this country says. We still are a country based on the rule of law, and we want to follow the law."
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu vowed his state would hold its November elections as scheduled: "End of story." Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who leads the House Republican Conference, said, "The resistance to this idea among Republicans is overwhelming."
The top Republicans in the House and Senate, who have spent the past four years championing Trump in Congress, also distanced themselves from the notion of a delayed election.
Fauci to tell House panel 'unclear' how long pandemic lasts
WASHINGTON (AP) — There's no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top government health experts will tell Congress on Friday.
"While it remains unclear how long the pandemic will last, COVID-19 activity will likely continue for some time," Fauci, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Dr. Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir say in prepared testimony for a special House panel investigating the pandemic.
At a time when early progress seems to have been lost and uncertainty clouds the nation's path forward, Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, is calling on lawmakers — and all other Americans — to go back to public health basics such as social distancing and wearing masks.
The panel, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, is divided about how to reopen schools and businesses, mirroring divisions among Americans.
A rebound of cases across the South and the West has dashed hopes for a quick return to normal life. Problems with the availability and timeliness of testing continue to be reported. And the race for a vaccine, though progressing rapidly, has yet to deliver a breakthrough.
Vietnam reports 1st coronavirus death in renewed outbreak
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnamese state media reported on Friday the country's first ever death of a person with the coronavirus as it struggles with a renewed outbreak after 99 days without any cases.
The Thanh Nien newspaper said a 70-year-old man died after contracting the disease while being treated for a kidney illness at a hospital in Da Nang where more than 90 cases have been reported over the past week.
The Health Ministry has not confirmed the death.
Dr. Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the country's Administration of Medical Examination and Treatment, said there are at least six other elderly patients with COVID-19 currently in critical condition. All have other underlying illnesses, he said.
Vietnam had been seen as a global success story in combating the coronavirus with zero deaths and no cases of local transmission for 99 days. But a week ago an outbreak began at the Da Nang hospital. It has grown to 93 confirmed cases in six parts of the country, including three of the largest cities, and forced authorities to reimpose restrictions.
Asia-Pacific tourism makes patchy restart, and some missteps
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Tourism operators across Asia and the Pacific are making furtive and faltering advances, as well as some spectacular missteps, after travel was largely halted by the coronavirus pandemic that continues ebbing and mostly surging around the globe.
The Indonesian resort island of Bali tentatively opened to domestic visitors on Friday while struggling tourism businesses in Queensland, known as Australia's Sunshine State, will soon lose visitors from the nation's biggest city, Sydney.
With international travel heavily restricted, progress in reviving tourism has been at best anemic and usually perilous.
The perils became evident in Vietnam's popular beach destination of Da Nang, where an outbreak that began with one person last week has swelled to nearly 100 cases. Da Nang's beaches, which host some 50,000 tourists daily during the high season, were emptied when the city was locked down Tuesday.
Queensland state, which is believed to be free of community transmission of the virus, has been allowing in all interstate travelers except those from coronavirus hot spot Victoria state.
Oregon police try to tamp down nightly Portland protests
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon police took over protecting a federal courthouse in Portland that's been a target of violent protests as local authorities try to tamp down demonstrations that have wracked the city every night for more than two months following the killing of George Floyd.
Having state and local officers step up their presence was part of a deal between the Democratic governor and the Trump administration that aimed to draw down the number of U.S. agents on hand during the unrest.
Portland police cleared out a park Thursday morning across from the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse that demonstrators have used as a staging ground but reopened the park shortly before dark.
By 10:30 p.m., hundreds of people had gathered and were listening to speeches in front of the Justice Center, a building that is one block over from the courthouse and houses city and county law enforcement offices. There was no sign of state troopers or local police and the crowd remained peaceful.
Under the deal announced by Gov. Kate Brown, federal agents sent by President Donald Trump were to begin a phased withdrawal, with Oregon State Police taking over outside the building. But federal officials insist agents wouldn't leave the city completely but be on standby in case they're needed.
Bahamas braces as newly formed Hurricane Isaias bears down
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — New Hurricane Isaias kept on a path early Friday expected to take it to the U.S. East Coast by the weekend as it approached the Bahamas, parts of which are still recovering from the devastation of last year's Hurricane Dorian.
Isaias had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph) Friday morning and was centered about 15 miles (25 kilometers) south-southwest of Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was moving northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).
It was forecast pass over the southeastern Bahamas early Friday, be near the central Bahamas late Friday and move near or over the northwestern Bahamas and near South Florida on Saturday.
On Thursday while still a tropical storm, Isaias knocked out power, toppled trees and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where at least 35 people were rescued from floodwaters and one person remained missing. Hundreds of thousands of people in Puerto Rico were left without power and water.
A hurricane warning was in effect for the northwestern Bahamas, including Andros Island, New Providence, Eleuthera, Abaco Islands, Berry Islands, Grand Bahama and Bimini.
Virus testing turnaround times reveal wide disparity
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Cameron Settles was swabbed for COVID-19 in mid-June at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando and it took him eight days to get the results.
"They originally told him that it would be five days," said Jenna Settles, his wife. "Then when he went to log in, it said six days, then seven days. He eventually had to call and wait on hold for three or four hours to get his result."
He was positive, and so his wife went to the convention center for her own test. It took four days to receive her results, and they were negative. The entire process, the couple said, was frustrating.
As coronavirus cases surge in hard-hit Florida, so do the turnaround times for test results.
The reasons are many: Often it has to do with lab staffing, backlog, or equipment shortages. Some tests are done in house, while others are sent to overloaded labs out of state. Health experts say test results that come back after two or three days are nearly worthless, because by then the window for tracing the person's contacts to prevent additional infections has essentially closed.
Final days of hajj and Eid festival impacted by coronavirus
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Small groups of pilgrims performed one of the final rites of the Islamic hajj on Friday as Muslims worldwide marked the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday amid a global pandemic that has impacted nearly every aspect of this year's pilgrimage and celebrations.
The last days of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia coincide with the four-day Eid al-Adha, or "Feast of Sacrifice," in which Muslims slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor.
The pandemic has pushed millions of people around the world closer to the brink of poverty, making it harder for many to fulfill the religious tradition of purchasing livestock.
In Somalia, the price of meat has slightly increased. Abdishakur Dahir, a civil servant in Mogadishu, said that for the first time he won't be able to afford goat for Eid because of the impact of the virus on work.
"I could hardly buy food for my family," Dahir said. "We are just surviving for now. Life is getting tougher by the day."
Some educators of color resist push for police-free schools
DENVER (AP) — School districts nationwide are working to remove police officers from campuses, but some Black and Indigenous educational leaders are resisting the push prompted by the national reckoning over racial injustice and police brutality.
Some say the system is hamstrung by a complicated mix of police response policies and a lack of support for alternative programs, which plays a role in students of color being disproportionately punished and arrested — the so-called school-to-prison pipeline. Some support individual officers skilled at working with students. Others say they need to learn more as activists urge change.
Cities from Portland, Oregon, to Denver to Madison, Wisconsin, have taken steps to remove police from schools following George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police. But some school leaders like Stacy Parrish, principal of Northeast Early College in Denver, said school resource officers are being unfairly blamed for students of color ending up in the criminal justice system.
Parrish, a member of the Klamath Tribes, said she supports the movement to combat overpolicing but believes it's irresponsible to eliminate school resource officers and replace them with counselors and social workers without changing the overall approach to discipline.
"Generalizations and romanticizations aren't getting us anywhere when our democracy needs our public schools more than ever," Parrish said.
Highways raise alarm in Cairo's historic City of the Dead
CAIRO (AP) — For centuries, sultans and princes, saints and scholars, elites and commoners have been buried in two sprawling cemeteries in Egypt's capital, creating a unique historic city of the dead. Now in its campaign to reshape Cairo, the government is driving highways through the cemeteries, raising alarm from preservationists.
In the Northern Cemetery last week, bulldozers demolished walls of graves, widening a road for a new expressway. The graves are from the early 20th Century, including elaborate mausoleums of well-known writers and politicians. The ornate, 500-year-old domed tomb of a sultan towers in the construction's path and, though untouched, will likely be surrounded on either side by the multi-lane highway.
In the older Southern Cemetery, several hundred graves have been wiped away and a giant flyover bridge swiftly built. In its shadow sits the mosque-shrine of one of Egypt's earliest prominent Islamic clerics, Imam Leith, from the 700s.
As bulldozers worked, families rushed to move the bodies of their loved ones. Others faced losing their homes: though known as the City of the Dead, the cemeteries are also vibrant communities, with people living in the walled yards that surround each gravesite.
Cairo's governorate and the Supreme Council of Antiquities underlined that no registered monuments were harmed in the construction.