Briefs: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris launch campaign in a largely empty gym

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., arrive to speak at a news conference at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Associated Press

Radical or moderate? Donald Trump paints Democratic ticket as both

Biden, Harris lash Trump at debut of historic VP choice

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris pushed past their one-time political rivalry Wednesday to deliver an aggressive attack on the character and performance of President Donald Trump in their historic first appearance as running mates.

The physical debut of the Democratic ticket was without parallel in recent political annals. The coronavirus prevented Biden and Harris from appearing before the large, adoring crowd that typically greets a presidential nominee and his or her running mate. Instead, they spoke in a mostly empty high school gym where reporters nearly outnumbered campaign aides and the candidates' family members. 

While the pandemic made a traditional campaign rollout impossible, it gave Biden and Harris a setting to emphasize their criticism of Trump as unable to contend with the most severe public health crisis in a century. Harris was particularly sharp in her condemnation of the administration.

"The case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut," Harris said. "This virus has impacted almost every country. But there's a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation. It's because of Trump's failure to take it seriously from the start."

She added: "This is what happens when we elect a guy who just isn't up for the job."

Radical or moderate? Trump paints Democratic ticket as both

WASHINGTON (AP) — An overzealous prosecutor trying to hide her crime-fighting past — who is also weak on crime. The most radical pick for vice president ever — but too moderate to energize progressive Democrats.

President Donald Trump's campaign is struggling to define California Sen. Kamala Harris, the newly announced running mate for Democratic rival Joe Biden. 

And without a clear message, Trump has reverted to his usual playbook, resorting to sexist and racist attacks. He has repeatedly called Harris "nasty" and has leaned into appeals that appear stuck in a fictionalized version of the 1950s.

"The 'suburban housewife' will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge!" he tweeted Wednesday, incorrectly spelling the name of the Democratic senator and former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who is also Black.

Like Biden, Harris has staked out relatively moderate stances over the course of her career on issues such as health care and law enforcement. That's complicating the Trump campaign's crude efforts to depict the Democratic ticket as out of step with the country. 

Companies test antibody drugs to treat, prevent COVID-19

With a coronavirus vaccine still months off, companies are rushing to test what may be the next best thing: drugs that deliver antibodies to fight the virus right away, without having to train the immune system to make them.

Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs; they attach to a virus and help it be eliminated. Vaccines work by tricking the body into thinking there's an infection so it makes antibodies and remembers how to do that if the real bug turns up.

But it can take a month or two after vaccination or infection for the most effective antibodies to form. The experimental drugs shortcut that process by giving concentrated versions of specific ones that worked best against the coronavirus in lab and animal tests. 

"A vaccine takes time to work, to force the development of antibodies. But when you give an antibody, you get immediate protection," said University of North Carolina virologist Dr. Myron Cohen. "If we can generate them in large concentrations, in big vats in an antibody factory ... we can kind of bypass the immune system."

These drugs, given through an IV, are believed to last for a month or more. They could give quick, temporary immunity to people at high risk of infection, such as health workers and housemates of someone with COVID-19. If they proved effective and if a vaccine doesn't materialize or protect as hoped, the drugs might eventually be considered for wider use, perhaps for teachers or other groups.

Business lobby raises concerns over Trump payroll tax break

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation's leading business group on Wednesday raised serious concerns about President Donald Trump's move to defer Social Security payroll taxes for American workers, warning that the plan for a shot of economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic could prove unworkable.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a White House ally in battles to cut federal regulations and taxes, said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that Trump's directive is "surrounded by uncertainty as to its application and implementation" and "only exacerbates the challenges" for companies trying to quickly put his action in place.

There was no immediate reaction from the administration.

Trump on Saturday directed the Treasury Department to temporarily defer the 6.2 percent Social Security tax on wages paid by employees, beginning Sept. 1 and lasting through the end of the year. 

A deferral leaves workers still on the hook for the money later on. But Trump said his ultimate goal is to make the tax break permanent, which would require congressional approval. That appears unlikely for now: Democrats have blasted Trump's plan as an attempt to undermine Social Security's finances and Republicans seem to have little enthusiasm for the idea.

QAnon-supporting candidate unrepentant despite GOP criticism

ATLANTA (AP) — Political newcomer Marjorie Taylor Greene was mocked as a supporter of QAnon conspiracies and denounced for videos deemed racist even by fellow Republicans who withdrew endorsements and declared her unfit for Congress.

The businesswoman from northern Georgia had a blunt message for her critics as she coasted to victory in a Republican primary runoff election that should put her on an easy path to winning an open U.S. House seat: "I will not apologize." 

"If Republicans want to win in 2020, they need to listen the message that I'm speaking," Greene told cheering supporters in a victory speech that railed against "spineless Republicans" and "anti-American leftists." Targeting Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she said: "We're going to kick that b - - - - out of Congress.".

Outspoken and unrepentant, Greene is proving there's a place among Republicans even for candidates whose views many consider extreme. 

In one online video, Greene embraced QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory centered on the baseless belief that President Donald Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the "deep state" and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. In other videos, she said Black and Hispanic men are being held back by "gangs and dealing drugs," alleged an "Islamic invasion" of government offices and accused Jewish billionaire George Soros of collaborating with Nazis.

How can Wall Street be so healthy when Main Street isn't?

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market is not the economy. 

Rarely has that adage been as clear as it is now. An amazing, monthslong rally means the S&P 500 is roughly back to where it was before the coronavirus slammed the U.S, even though millions of workers are still getting unemployment benefits and businesses continue to shutter across the country. 

The S&P 500, which is the benchmark index for stock funds at the heart of many 401(k) accounts, ended Wednesday at 3,380.35 after briefly topping its closing record of 3,386.15 set on Feb. 19. It's erased nearly all of the 34 percent plunge from February into March in less time than it takes a baby to learn how to crawl. 

The U.S. and global economies have shown some improvements since the spring, when business lockdowns were widespread, but they are nowhere close to fully healed. The number of virus cases continues to rise across much of the United States, and federal and local politicians for the most part lack a strategy to contain it. Many industries, such as airlines, hotels and dining, could take years to recover from the damage. 

The Federal Reserve and the U.S. government get a lot of the credit for the rally after pouring trillions of dollars into the economy. Profits also remained incredibly resilient for the stock market's most influential companies, such as Apple and Amazon. Rising hopes for a potential vaccine to halt the pandemic, meanwhile, have encouraged investors to look past the current dreary statistics. 

75 years later, 1 million Japanese war dead still missing

TOKYO (AP) — Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, more than 1 million Japanese war dead are scattered throughout Asia, where the legacy of Japanese aggression still hampers recovery efforts. 

The missing Japanese make up about half of the 2.4 million soldiers who died overseas during Japan's military rampage across Asia in the early 20th century. 

They are on remote islands in the South Pacific. They are in northern China and Mongolia. They are in Russia. 

As the anniversary for the end of the Pacific War arrives Saturday, there is little hope these remains will ever be recovered, let alone identified and returned to grieving family members. 

Only about half a million are considered retrievable. The rest are lost in the sea or buried in areas that can't be reached because of fighting or security or political reasons, according to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, which is in charge of support measures for bereaved families. 

Rites of fall: Losing college football stings across America

Michigan's Big House will be sitting empty when the leaves start to change this fall.

Southern Cal's famed white horse, Traveler, won't be galloping triumphantly after a Trojans touchdown.

No one at Ole Miss knows for sure if partying fans will be belting out a well-lubricated "Hotty Toddy" in The Grove.

From Ann Arbor to Los Angeles to Oxford, that most American of pursuits — college football — has either given up hope of getting in a traditional season or is flinging what amounts to a Hail Mary pass in a desperate attempt to hang on in the age of Covid-19. 

Even if some schools manage to take the field in the next month or so, it will be a different looking game.

In a first, Airbnb takes action against guest for party

For the first time, Airbnb is taking legal action against a guest for violating its ban on unauthorized parties.

The San Francisco-based home sharing company said Wednesday it is initiating legal proceedings against a guest who held an unauthorized party at a home in Sacramento County, California, last weekend. Three people were shot and wounded at the party.

Airbnb wouldn't release the guest's name but said it has removed the guest from its platform. 

The company has been trying to clean up its image — promising to verify all of its listings, for example, and taking a harder line on parties — as it prepares for an initial public offering of its stock. The IPO, which was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, could still take place later this year.

Airbnb banned "open invite" parties at its rentals late last year after five people were shot and killed at an unauthorized party in Orinda, California. The company set up a rapid response team to deal with complaints from neighbors and started screening "high risk" bookings, such as reservations at a large home for one night.

Let it flow: Trump administration eases showerhead rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump Administration wants to change the definition of a showerhead to let more water flow, addressing a pet peeve of the president who complains he isn't getting wet enough.

Publicly talking about the need to keep his hair "perfect," President Donald Trump has made increasing water flow and dialing back long held appliance conservation standards — from light bulbs to toilets to dishwashers — a personal issue. 

But consumer and conservation groups said the Department of Energy's proposed loosening of a 28-year-old energy law that includes appliance standards is silly, unnecessary and wasteful, especially as the West bakes through a historic two-decade-long megadrought.

Since 1992, federal law has dictated that new showerheads shouldn't pour more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute (9.5 liters). As newer shower fixtures came out with multiple nozzles, the Obama administration defined the showerhead restrictions to apply to what comes out in total. So if there are four nozzles, no more than 2.5 gallons total should come out between all four.

The new proposal Wednesday would allow each nozzle to spray as much as 2.5 gallons, not just the overall showerhead.

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