Briefs: Donald Trump praises 'great patriots' as critics say he is inflaming the violence

FILE - In this June 30, 2018, file photo, Joey Gibson, left, leader of Patriot Prayer, participates in the group's rally in Portland, Ore. The man who was fatally shot in Portland on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, as supporters of President Donald Trump skirmished with Black Lives Matter protesters was a supporter of a right-wing group called Patriot Prayer and a good friend of its founder, Gibson. (Mark Graves/The Oregonian via AP, File)

Associated Press

Stories for Monday August 31

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Democrats accused President Donald Trump of trying to inflame racial tensions and incite violence to benefit his campaign after he praised supporters who clashed with protesters during a deadly night in Portland, Oregon. and announced he will travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin, amid anger over the shooting of another Black man by police.

Trump unleashed a flurry of tweets and retweets the day after a man identified as a supporter of a right-wing group was shot and killed in Portland. The city has been the site of months of daily protests, and a large caravan of Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters clashed Saturday night. Trump praised the caravan participants as "GREAT PATRIOTS!" and retweeted what appeared to be the dead man's name along with a message to "Rest in peace."

Trump also retweeted those who blamed the city's Democratic mayor for the death.

"The people of Portland, like all other cities & parts of our great Country, want Law & Order," Trump wrote Sunday. "The Radical Left Democrat Mayors, like the dummy running Portland, or the guy right now in his basement unwilling to lead or even speak out against crime, will never be able to do it!" 

Trump has throughout the summer cast American cities as under siege by violence and lawlessness, despite the fact that most of the demonstrations against racial injustice have been largely peaceful. With about nine weeks until Election Day, some of his advisers see an aggressive "law and order" message as the best way for the president to turn voters against his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, and regain the support of suburban voters, particularly women, who have abandoned him. But Democrats accuse Trump of rooting for unrest and trying to stoke further violence for political gain instead of seeking to ratchet down tensions.

State police returning to Portland following deadly shooting

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon State Police will return to Portland to help local authorities after the fatal shooting of a man following clashes between President Donald Trump supporters and counter-protesters that led to an argument between the president and the city's mayor over who was to blame for the violence.

Protesters were back on the streets for a demonstration Sunday night outside a public safety building. Police declared an unlawful assembly and detained several people after saying protesters were seen throwing projectiles.

After Trump called Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, a "fool" and faulted him for allowing mayhem to proliferate in the liberal city, the visibly angry mayor lashed out at the president during a Sunday news conference, addressing him in the first person through the TV cameras.

"That's classic Trump. Mr. President, how can you think that a comment like that, if you're watching this, is in any way helpful? It's an aggressive stance, it is not collaborative. I certainly reached out, I believe in a collaborative manner, by saying earlier that you need to do your part and I need to do my part and then we both need to be held accountable," Wheeler said. 

"Let's work together...Why don't we try that for a change?"

In China's Xinjiang, forced medication accompanies lockdown

BEIJING (AP) — When police arrested the middle-aged Uighur woman at the height of China's coronavirus outbreak, she was crammed into a cell with dozens of other women in a detention center.

There, she said, she was forced to drink a medicine that made her feel weak and nauseous, guards watching as she gulped. She and the others also had to strip naked once a week and cover their faces as guards hosed them and their cells down with disinfectant "like firemen," she said.

"It was scalding," recounted the woman by phone from Xinjiang, declining to be named out of fear of retribution. "My hands were ruined, my skin was peeling." 

The government in China's far northwest Xinjiang region is resorting to draconian measures to combat the coronavirus, including physically locking residents in homes, imposing quarantines of more than 40 days and arresting those who do not comply. Furthermore, in what experts call a breach of medical ethics, some residents are being coerced into swallowing traditional Chinese medicine, according to government notices, social media posts and interviews with three people in quarantine in Xinjiang. There is a lack of rigorous clinical data showing traditional Chinese medicine works against the virus, and one of the herbal remedies used in Xinjiang, Qingfei Paidu, includes ingredients banned in Germany, Switzerland, the U.S. and other countries for high levels of toxins and carcinogens. 

The latest grueling lockdown, now in its 45th day, comes in response to 826 cases reported in Xinjiang since mid-July, China's largest caseload since the initial outbreak. But the Xinjiang lockdown is especially striking because of its severity, and because there hasn't been a single new case of local transmission in over a week.

Israeli, US delegations depart to UAE in 1st direct flight

ABOARD EL AL FLIGHT TO THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) — A Star of David-adorned El Al plane took off Monday from Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport, carrying a high-ranking American and Israeli delegation to Abu Dhabi in the first-ever direct commercial passenger flight to the United Arab Emirates.

The Israeli flag carrier's flight marks the implementation of the historic U.S.-brokered deal to normalize relations between the two nations and solidifies the long-clandestine ties between them that have evolved over years of shared enmity toward Iran. 

With the U.S. as matchmaker, Israel and the UAE agreed earlier this month to work toward normalization, which would make the UAE the third Arab nation to have full relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan. But unlike those two nations, Israel has never fought a war against the UAE and hopes to have much-warmer relations.

The American delegation includes President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as national security adviser Robert O'Brien, Mideast envoy Avi Berkowitz and envoy for Iran Brian Hook. Israel will be represented by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and the director generals of several ministries, who will meet with their Emirati counterparts.

"While this is a historic flight, we hope that this will start an even more historic journey for the Middle East and beyond," Kushner told reporters before boarding the plane.

Turning 100: Lebanon, a nation branded by upheaval, crises

BEIRUT (AP) — It was a century ago on Sept. 1, 1920, that a French general, Henri Gouraud, stood on the porch of a Beirut palace surrounded by local politicians and religious leaders and declared the State of Greater Lebanon — the precursor of the modern state of Lebanon.

The current French president, Emmanuel Macron, is visiting Lebanon to mark the occasion, 100 years later. But the mood could not be more somber.

Lebanon has been hit by a series of catastrophes, including a financial crash. On Aug. 4, a massive explosion at Beirut's port killed at least 190 people and injured thousands — the culmination of decades of accumulated crises, endemic corruption and mismanagement by an entrenched ruling class.

Facing potential bankruptcy and total collapse, many Lebanese are marking the centennial with a feeling that their experiment as a nation has failed and questioning their willingness to stay in the crisis-riddled country.

"I am 53 years old and I don't feel I had one stable year in this country," said prominent Lebanese writer Alexandre Najjar. 

Uncertainty dominates presidential campaign's final stretch

NEW YORK (AP) — Within President Donald Trump's campaign, some privately feared the worst heading into the national conventions.

They worried a strong showing by Democrat Joe Biden, combined with an underwhelming performance by Trump, would lock in the certainty of a blowout loss that would essentially end the election by September.

But as the candidates move beyond trouble-free conventions and into the final phase of the 2020 election season, both sides acknowledge the contest is tightening. And after months of running an almost entirely virtual campaign because of the pandemic, Biden has decided to launch a new phase of in-person events to help blunt any Trump gains.

"This campaign has always known that it's going to be a close race, it's going to be a tough race," Biden's senior adviser Anita Dunn said, noting that no Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 has earned more than 52.9% of the vote.

She added: "It's a polarized nation and we expect this kind of tightening."

When Trump talks law and order, some Wisconsin voters listen

DE PERE, Wis. (AP) — Alexis Arnold says she's sympathetic toward protesters who have peacefully fought racial injustice this summer. But as some demonstrations spiral into violence, her anxiety is building.

"Why are we so broken right now?" the 44-year-old art gallery owner wondered.

The uncertainty is drawing her to whatever stability President Donald Trump can offer. He has spent weeks pushing questions of safety and security to the forefront of the presidential campaign. And there are signs some Wisconsin voters are listening, after protests have sometimes become violent in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a white police officer shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, seven times, paralyzing him. 

"The public just needs something to make them feel comfortable and safe again," said Arnold, who is white, has voted for Democrats in the past and is raising a biracial daughter. "I almost rather see Trump stay and try to resolve it rather than bring somebody in new."

That sentiment could prove decisive in Wisconsin, a state that put Trump in the White House in 2016 after he carried it by less than 1 percentage point. The president has already used dark and misleading warnings of destruction in American streets following violence in Portland, Oregon, and is now seizing on unrest in Kenosha, where he'll travel on Tuesday.

Patriot Prayer no stranger to protests in Northwest

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The man who was fatally shot in Portland, Oregon, as supporters of President Donald Trump skirmished with Black Lives Matter protesters was a supporter of a right-wing group called Patriot Prayer, which doesn't have a big national footprint but is well known in the Pacific Northwest. 

Patriot Prayer's founder, Joey Gibson, has held pro-Trump rallies repeatedly in Portland and other cities since 2016. The events have drawn counterprotesters from around the region and had heightened tensions in Portland long before Black Lives Matter demonstrators began nearly 100 days of nightly protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

The shooting victim was identified by Gibson as Aaron "Jay" Danielson of Portland. Photos taken of the body show he was wearing a Patriot Prayer hat. Police have released few details and pleaded with the public on Sunday to come forward with any information about the shooting.

Danielson also went by the name Jay Bishop, according to a statement on Patriot Prayer's Facebook page.

Gibson, a one-time Senate candidate, founded Patriot Prayer in 2016. In past interviews with The Associated Press, Gibson has said he and his group are not a hate group and simply want to exercise their freedom of speech without interference from left-wing groups or protesters.

In aftermath of Hurricane Laura, residents worry about help

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — In a matter of hours last week, Hurricane Laura tore through the tire shop Layla Winbush's family started just under a year ago, reducing most of it to rubble and scattering hundreds of tires across the lot. The storm also damaged her home, which now reeks of mold.

Federal and state officials are now on the ground to help residents with home repairs and hotel stays. But Winbush said she feels alone, particularly after seeing a video of President Donald Trump, who visited the area Saturday, joking with Gulf Coast officials that they could sell copies of his signature for $10,000.

"We can't depend on the president. We can't depend on nobody," she said. "We'll just take what we have and get it done."

As evacuated Lake Charles residents began returning home, many worried that they wouldn't have enough support from the both the federal and state governments as they face a rebuilding process certain to take several months, if not longer.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Sunday warned that residents were in for a long recovery.

Gaga's masks, Weeknd's advocacy and more top VMAs moments

The MTV Video Music Awards got a little creative trying to put on a somewhat live awards show from New York City in the middle of a pandemic. Sunday's show included performances with mask-wearing artists and fans and artists dancing in front the backdrop of the city's skyscrapers. But amid the celebration, the show also reflected the hardships of a tough year that has been marked by protests over systematic racism. Here are a few of the top moments from the show:

MASK UP

This year's most fashionable accessory is the face mask, but the queen of over-the-top red carpet looks took it to another level at the VMAs.

Lady Gaga appeared in many different outfits and corresponding masks during Sunday night's show while she dominated the night with a performance with Ariana Grande.

Gaga donned a pink mask that strapped around head, a mask with pointy tusks and even an electronic display on a mask while she sang "Rain on Me" with Grande, who also sported her own black mask. She held the award for artist of the year wearing a white tulle and organdy coat by Valentino and a matching silver mask.

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