Briefs: First Lady makes the case for re-election

First lady Melania Trump speaks to the 2020 Republican National Convention from the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Associated Press

Republican convention bits, Kenosha's Jacob Blake is paralyzed, Oklahoma congressional race, temperature checks in Greece and New Zealand shooter won't testify

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — First lady Melania Trump portrayed her husband as an authentic, uncompromising leader in a Rose Garden address as President Donald Trump turned to family, farmers and the trappings of the presidency to boost his reelection chances on the second night of the scaled-down Republican National Convention.

Mrs. Trump offered a polished portrait of Trump's presidency Tuesday night that was often at odds with the crises, division and unforgiving actions of his administration.

But it was part of a broader effort to show a more forgiving side of a combative president who will soon face the voters. Beyond the first lady's remarks, Trump pardoned a reformed felon and oversaw a naturalization ceremony for several immigrants in the midst of the program, though he frequently states his vigorous opposition to more immigration, legal as well as illegal.

"In my husband, you have a president who will not stop fighting for you and your families," said Mrs. Trump, an immigrant herself. "He will not give up."

WHAT TO WATCH: Pence, Conway and protest pushback at RNC

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the marquee speech Wednesday night at the Republican convention, making the case for another four years for President Donald Trump and laying the foundation for his own potential White House run in 2024.

Pence, whose future political aspirations could hinge on November, has campaigned aggressively for the president. He's likely to continue making a forceful case in his address while touching on cultural divides that been peppered throughout the convention's program.

What to watch Wednesday night:

PENCE

Pence is delivering the evening's keynote from Baltimore's Fort McHenry, where Americans defended Baltimore Harbor from the British in the War of 1812 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner." Pence, who is expected to speak to a crowd at the national monument, is likely to pay tribute to American symbols like the national anthem and draw a contrast with social justice demonstrators. Pence has helped steer the White House response to the coronavirus, leading a task force and frequently working with the nation's governors. The GOP convention has mentioned the virus far less than Democrats did last week, but Pence could throw it back into focus if he speaks about the work he's led. 

Lawyer says Blake paralyzed, protests erupt for 3rd night

KENOSHA, Wis. — Jacob Blake, the Black man shot multiple times by police in Wisconsin, is paralyzed, and it would "take a miracle" for him to walk again, his family's attorney said Tuesday, while calling for the officer who opened fire to be arrested and others involved to lose their jobs.

The shooting of Blake on Sunday in Kenosha — apparently in the back while three of his children looked on — was captured on cellphone video and ignited new protests over racial injustice in several cities, coming just three months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police touched off a wider reckoning on race.

Some demonstrations devolved into unrest, including for a third night in Kenosha, where multiple gunshots could be heard in social media posts from at least one neighborhood where residents and people carrying long guns and other weapons remained in the streets hours after they city's 8 p.m. curfew. Kenosha Police were investigating after videos appeared to show at least two people with gunshot wounds, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Earlier Tuesday, Blake's father spoke alongside other family members and lawyers, telling reporters that police shot his son "seven times, seven times, like he didn't matter."

"But my son matters. He's a human being and he matters," said Blake's father, who is also named Jacob Blake.

COVID-19 lockdowns blocked flu in some places but fall looms

JOHANNESBURG — Winter is ending in the Southern Hemisphere and country after country -- South Africa, Australia, Argentina -- had a surprise: Their steps against COVID-19 also apparently blocked the flu. 

But there's no guarantee the Northern Hemisphere will avoid twin epidemics as its own flu season looms while the coronavirus still rages.

"This could be one of the worst seasons we've had from a public health perspective with COVID and flu coming together. But it also could be one of the best flu seasons we've had," Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Associated Press.

U.S. health officials are pushing Americans to get vaccinated against the flu in record numbers this fall, so hospitals aren't overwhelmed with a dueling "twindemic." 

It's also becoming clear that wearing masks, avoiding crowds and keeping your distance are protections that are "not specific for COVID. They're going to work for any respiratory virus," Redfield said. 

Bice wins GOP runoff for CD5, will face Horn in November

OKLAHOMA CITY — State Sen. Stephanie Bice won the Republican nomination on Tuesday for the 5th District congressional seat in Oklahoma City, setting up a showdown with first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn for a seat Republicans desperately want to win back in November.

Bice, 46, defeated Oklahoma City businesswoman Terry Neese, 72, in the primary runoff to advance to the general election. Horn, 44, is the lone Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, and Republicans have made winning back the seat a top priority.

Bice, who raised about $1.4 million, trailed Neese by more than 10 percentage points in a nine-candidate June primary, but managed to close the gap in the last two months.

But Horn also has proven to be an effective fundraiser, amassing more than $3.6 million, and she faced only token opposition in the June primary. While Bice and Neese spent much of the summer battling each other, Horn has run ads touting her ability to work with Republicans and occasionally break with party leadership.

'Our hands are tied': Local aid workers exposed in pandemic

JOHANNESBURG — The coronavirus is exposing an uncomfortable inequality in the billion-dollar system that delivers life-saving aid for countries in crisis: Most money that flows from the U.S. and other donors goes to international aid groups instead of local ones. Now local aid workers are exposed on the pandemic's front lines with painfully few means to help the vulnerable communities they know so well.

Often lacking protective equipment, the groups are carrying a bigger burden than ever as COVID-19 adds to the already vast challenges of conflict, drought and hunger in places like Afghanistan and Somalia. 

At times, they tell communities they have nothing to give.

"Our hands are tied," a South Sudanese aid leader, Gloriah Soma, told an online event last month. She described foreign aid workers being evacuated early in the pandemic or working from home as many feared infection. 

"Is this a humanitarian response?" she asked, saying she hopes the crisis will spark more help "at this critical moment." Her country can hardly bear another disaster: A five-year civil war killed nearly 400,000 people, and hunger stalks half the population.

Greece battles coronavirus resurgence after early success

PIRAEUS, Greece — Workers in bright yellow vests stand on the dock in Greece's main port of Piraeus, greeting hundreds of masked ferry passengers with fliers and the occasional temperature check.

"Would you like a coronavirus test? Yes, it's free. Right over there, in the white structure, you'll see the signs," they tell disembarking passengers. 

Free on-the-spot tests for travelers returning from Greek islands where outbreaks have occurred is the latest in an arsenal of measures authorities are using to tackle a resurgence of COVID-19 in a country that has so far managed to dodge the worst of the pandemic. 

New localized restrictions, including a midnight curfew for bars, restaurants and cafes and a ban on large gatherings have been imposed, mainly in popular tourist destinations such as the Aegean Sea island of Mykonos, 

Maria Skopeliti, whose husband and son work on Mykonos, was one of a handful of people opting for the voluntary coronavirus test in Piraeus on a recent morning. She estimated that more than two-thirds of people in Mykonos had been ignoring personal protective measures.

New Zealand mosque shooter won't speak at court sentencing

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — On a day when the poetic words of love from a daughter to her murdered father brought many people to tears in a New Zealand courtroom, the white supremacist who killed him and 50 other worshippers at two mosques said he wouldn't speak before he is sentenced.

Gunman Brenton Harrison Tarrant had earlier pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism for the March 2019 attacks. After earlier firing his lawyers and deciding to defend himself, he could have spoken on the final day of his sentencing hearing, scheduled for Thursday.

But the 29-year-old Australian told the judge Wednesday he didn't plan to say anything and instead a standby lawyer would make a short statement on his behalf. 

Over the first three days of the hearing, 90 survivors and family members told the judge about the pain and aftermath of the attacks. Many said Justice Cameron Mander should hand down the maximum available sentence — life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The hearing has provided some degree of catharsis. Some chose to yell at the gunman and give him the finger. Others called him a monster, a coward, a rat. Some sung verses from the Quran or addressed him in Arabic. A few spoke softly to Tarrant, saying they forgave him.

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