Briefs: Joe Biden vows to be an 'ally of light'

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Associated Press

Democratic nominee spoke to a largely empty arena near his Delaware home

The Associated Press

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joe Biden accepted the Democratic presidential nomination with a vow to be a unifying "ally of the light" who would move an America in crisis past the chaos of President Donald Trump's tenure.

In his strongest remarks of the campaign, Biden spoke Thursday night both of returning the United States to its traditional leadership role in the world and of the deeply personal challenges that shaped his life. Virtually every sentence of his 22-minute speech was designed to present a sharp, yet hopeful, contrast with the Republican incumbent.

"Here and now I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. l'll be an ally of the light, not the darkness," Biden said. "Make no mistake, united we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America."

For the 77-year-old Biden, the final night of the Democratic National Convention was bittersweet. He accepted a nomination that had eluded him for over three decades because of personal tragedy, political stumbles and rivals who proved more dynamic.

But the coronavirus denied him the typical celebration, complete with the customary balloon drop that both parties often use to fete their new nominees. Instead, Biden spoke to a largely empty arena near his Delaware home.

Analysis: Drive to beat Trump unites Democrats behind Biden

Nearly everything in American life has changed in the 16 months between the launch of Joe Biden's White House campaign and his address Thursday night as the Democratic presidential nominee. A pandemic has killed more than 170,000 Americans and remade work and school. A soaring economy is now sagging.

Yet Biden's bet on the 2020 race has remained unchanged — a belief that the nation is less partisan and more open to compromise than it often appears on social media or cable television panels. That voters are seeking decency over ideology, a reset over a revolution. That after four years of President Donald Trump's administration, what mattered most to Democrats was winning. 

Many questioned Biden's premise during the primary, viewing the 77-year-old career politician as a candidate as out of step — in age, race and ideology — with a diverse party increasingly tilting to the left and seeking generational change. Some still worry that Biden won't draw out enough young and liberal voters this fall. 

But Biden's nominating convention this week was filled with evidence validating his approach: that fierce opposition to Trump can unite a wide swath of the American electorate around an imperfect, yet personally respected and empathetic, candidate. 

Indeed, the four nights of virtual programming prominently featured both Republicans, including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and some of the most liberal members of Congress, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, vouching for Biden's character and experience. Speakers heralded Biden's ability to work across the partisan divide, while gauzy videos touted progressive policies for tackling climate change, gun violence and immigration.

In moving speech, boy says Biden helped him overcome stutter

Even in a week filled with emotional endorsements of Joe Biden, Brayden Harrington's stands out.

The 13-year-old boy sat in his home, speaking to a cellphone camera and reading, carefully, from a piece of paper. He looked up and told the world how the former vice president, by speaking about his own experience, had helped him overcome a difficult challenge. 

"We stutter," Brayden said in a video that aired Thursday, shortly before Biden accepted his party's presidential nomination on the final night of the Democratic National Convention. The Concord, New Hampshire, teen got stuck briefly on the "s" sound and bravely worked his way through the word. His face showed strain but also determination to force out the sound.

"It's really amazing to hear that someone became vice president" despite stuttering, Brayden said. "He told me about a book of poems by Yeats that he would read out loud to practice."

Biden has spoken frequently about how overcoming a stutter was one of the hardest things he's done in life. Brayden and Biden met at a February CNN town hall in Concord, where Biden spoke about overcoming a severe childhood stutter. He's talked frequently publicly through the years about the anger and frustration of being mocked by classmates and a nun in Catholic school — and how that motivated him to work to overcome it.

Saved by suburbs: Food trucks hit by virus find new foodies

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — On a warm summer night, two food trucks pulled onto a tree-lined street in a hilltop neighborhood outside Seattle. The smell of grilled meat filled the air, and neighbors slurped on boba tea drinks. Toddlers, teens, their parents and dogs sat in the grass, chatting behind masks, laughing and mimicking imaginary hugs to stay socially distant while they waited for their food orders.

Long seen as an urban treasure, food trucks are now being saved by the suburbs during the coronavirus pandemic. No longer able to depend on bustling city centers, these small businesses on wheels are venturing out to where people are working and spending most of their time — home. 

As food trucks hunt for customers that used to flock to them, they're finding a captive audience thrilled to skip cooking dinner, sample new kinds of cuisines and mingle with neighbors on what feels like a night out while safely staying close to home.

"This is festival season, fun season. All the stuff we typically do as humans, we can't do anymore," said Matt Geller, president of the National Food Truck Association. "Walking out to a food truck is a taste of normalcy, and it feels really good."

YS Street Food Group owner Yuli Shen discovered the hilltop Seattle-area neighborhood through Facebook, and she and a friend who runs the Dreamy Drinks boba tea truck went out together recently and served customers for three hours.

Loughlin, Giannulli to be sentenced in college bribery plot

BOSTON — More than a year after "Full House" star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were charged with paying half a million dollars in bribes to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California, the famous couple appears headed for prison.

Loughlin and Giannulli will be sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty to participating in the college admissions cheating scheme that has laid bare the lengths to which some wealthy parents will go to get their kids into elite universities. 

Loughlin's plea deal with prosecutors calls for her to spend two months behind bars, while Giannulli's calls for him to serve five months. They will be sentenced in separate hearings held via video conference because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The judge said at their plea hearings that he would decide whether to accept their unusual deals with prosecutors after reviewing the presentencing report, a document that contains background on defendants and helps guide sentencing decisions. Unlike most plea agreements, in which the judge remains free to decide the defendant's sentence, Loughlin and Giannulli's proposed prison terms are binding if the judge accepts the deals. 

They are among nearly 30 prominent parents who have admitted to charges in the scheme, which involved hefty bribes to get undeserving kids into college with rigged test scores or fake athletic credentials, authorities said. Ten parents are still fighting the charges. 

Former sailor details misconduct by SEALs pulled from Iraq

SAN DIEGO — U.S. Navy intelligence specialist Colleen Grace was asleep on a remote air base in Iraq in 2019 when she was woken up by knocking on the door next to her room, and then a voice she recognized.

The voice belonged to a Navy corpsman she knew. He was upset and speaking loudly to the Army colonel who lived next door. Grace heard the corpsman say that a sailor who attended a Fourth of July barbecue had just been raped by a member of the Navy SEAL platoon on the base. The corpsman asked the colonel what to do because the victim was afraid that if she reported the incident, retribution would follow. 

"And that's real," Grace heard Hospitalman First Class Gustavo Llerenes tell Col. Thomas Collins, a physician's assistant with the Florida National Guard. "It's a good ol' boy's network." 

She said she heard Collins urge Llerenes to keep his voice down, saying the walls between the rooms were thin.

Grace, who could no longer hear the conversation between medical professionals, looked down at her phone to check the time. Just then Grace noticed a missed text from a friend asking her to come over. "Urgent," the message read.

Russian doctors say Navalny wasn't poisoned, refuse transfer

MOSCOW — Russian doctors treating opposition leader Alexei Navalny don't believe he was poisoned and refused to transfer him to a German hospital on Friday. 

Navalny, a 44-year-old politician who is one of President Vladimir Putin's fiercest critics, was admitted to an intensive care unit in a coma at a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk on Thursday, following what his supporters are calling a suspected poisoning that they believe was engineered by the Kremlin.

But Russian doctors treating opposition politician Alexei Navalny say they haven't found any indication that the Kremlin critic was poisoned. 

Omsk hospital deputy chief doctor, Anatoly Kalinichenko, said that no traces of poison were found in Navalny's body. Navalny spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, posted a video on Twitter of Kalinichenko speaking.

"Poisoning as a diagnosis remains on the back burner, but we don't believe that the patient suffered from poisoning," Kalinichenko told reporters Friday.

With Bannon arrest, 'Sovereign District' sends another salvo

NEW YORK  — If the recent firing of the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan was intended to quell criminal investigations into President Donald Trump's close associates, as some have accused, federal prosecutors in New York appear to have missed the memo.

Thursday's arrest of Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, served as a stark reminder that no one who has been within the president's inner circle is automatically immune from federal scrutiny. 

Bannon, 66, and three others are charged with defrauding online donors in the name of helping build the president's cherished southern border wall. Bannon pleaded not guilty at a hearing Thursday in Manhattan.

The indictment came just two months after the abrupt dismissal of Geoffrey S. Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who had overseen several investigations with tentacles into Trump's orbit — including one involving the business dealings of Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney.

The same office prosecuted former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen for campaign finance crimes, as well as two Giuliani associates tied to the investigation that led to Trump's impeachment investigation in December. Giuliani himself has not been charged with any crime.

Golden State Killer set for multiple life prison sentences

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A former police officer once sworn to protect the public faces multiple consecutive life prison sentences Friday after he was ultimately unmasked as the mysterious Golden State Killer who eluded his fellow investigators for four decades. 

Joseph James DeAngelo, 74, will die in prison after he pleaded guilty in June to 13 murders and 13 rape-related charges stemming from crimes in the 1970s and 1980s under a plea deal that spares him the death penalty. He also publicly admitted to dozens more sexual assaults for which the statute of limitations had expired.

Prosecutors called his more than decade-long spate of crimes "simply staggering," encompassing 87 victims at 53 separate crime scenes spanning 11 California counties. 

The case set several hallmarks.

To finally identify and arrest him in 2018, investigators pioneered a new method of DNA tracing that involves building a family tree from publicly accessible genealogy websites to narrow the list of suspects. 

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