Briefs: Fires raise fight over climate change before Donald Trump's visit

Organisation for Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD) photo

Associated Press

News headlines for September 14, 2020

The Associated Press

BEAVERCREEK, Ore. — With crews battling wildfires that have killed at least 35 people, destroyed neighborhoods and enveloped the West Coast in smoke, another fight has emerged: leaders in the Democratic-led states and President Donald Trump have clashed over the role of climate change ahead of his visit Monday to California.

California, Oregon and Washington state have seen historic wildfires that have burned faster and farther than ever before. Numerous studies in recent years have linked bigger wildfires in the U.S. to global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas. 

The Democratic governors say the fires are a consequence of climate change, while the Trump administration has blamed poor forest management for the flames that have raced through the region and made the air in places like Portland, Oregon, Seattle and San Francisco some of the worst in the world. 

Trump is headed to McClellan Park, a former air base just outside Sacramento, California, White House spokesman Judd Deere said. California Gov. Gavin Newsom's office said he would be meeting with Trump. 

The governors have been blunt: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday called climate change "a blowtorch over our states in the West."

The Latest: Major economies shrink amid COVID-19 pandemic

PARIS — A global development agency said the world's 20 major industrialized nations have seen their economies shrink in an unprecedented manner between April and June amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Monday that the gross domestic product dropped by a record 6.9% in the second quarter of this year in the G-20 area.

This organization noted that is "significantly larger" than the 1.6% fall recorded in the first quarter of 2009 at the height of the financial crisis.

Between April and June this year, the GDP most dramatically fell by 25.2 in India, by 20.4 percent in the UK and by 17.1 percent in Mexico. It plunged by 9.1 percent in the United States.

The OECD said that China was the only G-20 country recording growth (11.5 percent) in that period. The organization said that reflects "the earlier onset of the pandemic in this country and subsequent recovery."

Biden faces worries that Latino support slipping in Florida

MIAMI  — Sen. Kamala Harris' motorcade raced past Colombian neighborhoods and made a quick stop for takeout in Doral — or "Doral-zuela" as it's known locally because of its large Venezuelan population — before speeding through the Cuban stronghold of Hialeah.

But during her first trip to Florida as Joe Biden's running mate last week, Harris did little to court this region's booming — and politically influential — Latino population. She instead focused on African American leaders waiting at a historically Black university in Miami Gardens. 

"You truly are the future of our country," Harris said into a megaphone after the motorcade pulled up to Florida Memorial University, where a marching band serenaded her ahead of an hourlong discussion with local Black leaders. "You are the ones who are going to inspire us and fight for the ideals of our country."

In America's leading presidential battleground, there's mounting anxiety among Democrats that the Biden campaign's standing among Latinos is slipping, potentially giving President Donald Trump an opening in his reelection bid. That's fueling an urgent effort by Biden, Harris and their allies to shore up older voters, suburbanites and African Americans to make up for potential shortcomings elsewhere.

New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg committed over the weekend to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help the Democratic ticket. Biden is scheduled to make his first visit to the state as the Democratic nominee on Tuesday, where he will hold a roundtable with veterans in Tampa before attending a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee.

Trump's Mideast deals tout 'peace' where there was never war

JERUSALEM (AP) — For the first time in more than a quarter-century, a U.S. president will host a signing ceremony between Israelis and Arabs at the White House, billing it as an "historic breakthrough" in a region long known for its stubborn conflicts.

But while the optics of Tuesday's event will evoke the groundbreaking agreements that ended decades of war between Israel and neighboring Egypt and Jordan, and that launched the peace process with the Palestinians, the reality is quite different.

The United Arab Emirates will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, a fellow U.S. ally it has never gone to war with, formalizing ties that go back several years. The agreement cements an informal alliance against Iran and could pave the way for the UAE to acquire advanced U.S. weapons, while leaving the far more contentious Israeli-Palestinian conflict as intractable as ever.

That hasn't stopped President Donald Trump from referring to the UAE deal, which was announced last month, as heralding a "previously unthinkable regional transformation."

A similar agreement announced Friday with Bahrain, which welcomed a visiting Israeli Cabinet minister as early as 1994, also formalizes longstanding ties.

Gulf Coast residents brace for possible new hurricane

WAVELAND, Miss. — Storm-weary Gulf Coast residents prepared for a new weather onslaught Monday as Tropical Storm Sally churned northward.

Jeffrey Gagnard of Chalmette, Louisiana, was spending Sunday in Mississippi helping his parents prepare their home for Sally — and making sure they safely evacuated ahead of the storm.

"I mean, after Katrina, anything around here and anything on the water, you're going to take serious," he said, as he loaded the back of his SUV with cases of bottled water in a grocery store parking lot in Waveland, Mississippi. "You can't take anything lightly."

Gagnard said he planned to head back across the state line to prepare his own home for winds and rain Sally was expected to bring to the New Orleans area.

Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sally is expected to become a hurricane on Monday and reach shore by early Tuesday, bringing dangerous weather conditions, including risk of flooding, to a region stretching from the western Florida Panhandle to southeast Louisiana.

TikTok owner picks Oracle over Microsoft as US tech partner

The owner of TikTok has chosen Oracle over Microsoft as the American tech partner that could help keep the popular video-sharing app running in the U.S., according to a person familiar with the deal who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.

President Donald Trump's administration has threatened to ban TikTok by Sept. 20 and ordered owner ByteDance to sell its U.S. business, claiming national security risks due to its Chinese ownership. The government worries about user data being funneled to Chinese authorities. TikTok denies it is a national security risk and is suing to stop the administration from enacting the threatened ban.

TikTok and the White House declined to comment Sunday. Oracle didn't return a request for comment but has previously declined comment.

Walmart, which had planned to partner with Microsoft on the acquisition, said Sunday it "continues to have an interest in a TikTok investment" and is talking about it with ByteDance and other parties.

Much remains unclear about the proposed deal with Oracle, including whether it will only cover TikTok's U.S. business, and, if so, how it will be split from the rest of TikTok's social media platform, which is popular worldwide. ByteDance also owns a similar video app, Douyin, for the Chinese market.

First US spring flight to Antarctica aims to keep out virus

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The first U.S. flight into Antarctica following months of winter darkness arrived Monday with crews taking extra precautions to keep out the coronavirus.

Antarctica is the only continent without the virus, and there is a global effort to make sure incoming scientists and workers don't bring it with them.

The U.S. Air Force flight left Monday from the gateway city of Christchurch carrying 106 passengers and crew, said Tony German, the U.S. Antarctic program's representative in New Zealand. 

He said the new arrivals will start getting ready for the summer and swap out with skeleton crews who have spent the Southern Hemisphere winter in Antarctica.

The flight was delayed for three weeks by big storms, resulting in an extended six-week quarantine for those aboard.

Suga wins party vote, all but assuring election as Japan PM

TOKYO — Yoshihide Suga was elected as the new head of Japan's ruling party on Monday, all but assuring that he will become the country's new prime minister when a parliamentary election is held later in the week.

Despite his low-key image, Suga, 71, has been a key figure in outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration, serving as the government's top spokesperson in his role as chief Cabinet secretary.

Suga's victory in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party vote virtually guarantees his election in a parliamentary vote Wednesday because of the majority held by the LDP's ruling coalition. 

Suga, the son of a strawberry grower in northern Japan's Akita prefecture, said he had come a long way. "I will devote all of myself to work for the nation and the people," he said in his victory speech.

He has said that his top priorities will be fighting the coronavirus and turning around a Japanese economy battered by the pandemic. He gained the support of party heavyweights and their wing members early in the campaign on expectations that he would continue Abe's policies. 

Ex-sailor's film shows Mayflower II's colorful 1957 voyage

LONDON (AP) — The sea voyage that changed Peter Padfield's life more than six decades ago started with an act of chance. In 1956, Padfield was third officer aboard a British cruise liner in Sri Lanka when he stumbled across a magazine in a ship wardrobe.

A story inside introduced Padfield to a new sailing ship dubbed the Mayflower II, a replica of the square-rigged English merchant vessel that carried a group of dissatisfied Protestants across the Atlantic Ocean in 1620. The reproduction soon would make the same trip the Pilgrims did when they sailed west to start a colony. 

Padfield, then a sailor for shipping company P&O in his 20s, already had a obsession with square-riggers, the ships with great, billowing sails popularized in pirate stories. He immediately wrote to the Mayflower II's captain to plead for a place on board in the spring when the ship embarked toward its planned home at a Plymouth, Massachusetts, museum. 

To Padfield's surprise, the captain, Alan Villiers, wrote back and asked the young sailor to come to Oxford for an interview.

"He said he wasn't going to have any people with double-barreled (hyphenated) surnames, he wasn't going to have any sea-lawyers, and he wasn't going to have any women," Padfield, now 88, told The Associated Press from his home in Suffolk, eastern England. "I didn't come into any of those categories, so he adopted me."

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