Briefs: Juror says prosecutors never gave an option for charges in Breonna Taylor's death

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron addresses the media following the return of a grand jury investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor, in Frankfort, Ky., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. A judge has cleared the way for grand jurors to speak about the proceedings in the case against the police officers who shot Breonna Taylor. An anonymous grand juror who sat on the panel last month had sued to speak publicly. None of the officers were charged directly in Taylor’s death, but one officer was charged with endangering Taylor’s neighbors. Cameron, whose office led the investigation, had opposed letting grand jurors speak about the proceedings. He has said he did not introduce any homicide charges against the two officers who shot Taylor, because they were justified in returning fire after Taylor's boyfriend shot at them. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Associated Press

Donald Trump on campaign trail; Joe Biden considers what kind of cabinet he'd appoint

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — A grand juror who won a court fight to speak publicly about the Breonna Taylor investigation took issue Tuesday with statements by Kentucky's attorney general and said the jury was not given the option to consider charges connected to Taylor's shooting death by police. 

The anonymous grand juror had filed suit to speak publicly after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced last month that no officers would be directly charged in the March shooting death of Taylor during a narcotics raid. The grand jury charged one officer with endangering her neighbors.

In a written statement after winning a judge's permission to break silence in the case, the grand juror, who was not identified, said that only wanton endangerment charges were offered to them to consider against one officer. The grand jury asked questions about bringing other charges against the officers, "and the grand jury was told there would be none because the prosecutors didn't feel they could make them stick," the grand juror said.

Cameron had opposed in court allowing grand jurors to speak about the proceedings. He said Tuesday that he would not appeal the judge's ruling. Grand juries are typically secret meetings, though earlier this month the audio recordings of the proceedings in the Taylor case were released publicly.

Cameron announced the results of the grand jury investigation in a widely viewed news conference on Sept. 23. At that announcement, he said prosecutors "walked the grand jury through every homicide offense."

He also said "the grand jury agreed" that the officers who shot Taylor were justified in returning fire after they were shot at by Kenneth Walker, Taylor's boyfriend. Walker's lone gunshot struck one of the officers in the leg.

The anonymous grand juror challenged Cameron's comments, saying the panel "didn't agree that certain actions were justified," and grand jurors "did not have homicide charges explained to them."

The grand juror had no further plans to speak about the proceedings beyond Tuesday's statement, Glowgower said.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor's family, said Cameron "took the decision out of the grand jury's hands" and said the grand juror's statement was "confirmation of Cameron's dereliction of duties." 

Cameron has acknowledged his prosecutors did not introduce any homicide charges against two officers who shot Taylor, and said it was because they were justified in returning fire after Walker shot at them. 

Cameron said Tuesday that it was his decision "to ask for an indictment that could be proven under Kentucky law."

"Indictments obtained in the absence of sufficient proof under the law do not stand up and are not fundamentally fair to any one," Cameron said in a statement released Tuesday night.

In the ruling allowing the grand jurors to speak, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Annie O'Connell wrote that it "is a rare and extraordinary example of a case where, at the time this motion is made, the historical reasons for preserving grand jury secrecy are null."

Taylor, a Black emergency medical technician, was shot multiple times after Walker fired once at white officers executing a narcotics warrant. Walker said he didn't know it was police and thought it was an intruder. The warrant was approved as part of a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found at her home.

The case has fueled nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Trump tends to his electoral map, Biden prepping for debate

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is hopping from one must-win stop on the electoral map to the next in the leadup to a final presidential debate that may be his last, best chance to alter the trajectory of the 2020 campaign. 

Democrat Joe Biden has been taking the opposite approach, holing up for debate prep in advance of Thursday's faceoff in Nashville. Trump, trailing in polls in most battleground states, stopped in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and was bound for North Carolina on Wednesday as he delivers what his campaign sees as his closing message.

"This is an election between a Trump super recovery and a Biden depression," the president said in Erie, Pennsylvania. "You will have a depression the likes of which you have never seen." He added: "If you want depression, doom and despair, vote for Sleepy Joe. And boredom." 

But the president's pitch that he should lead the rebuilding of an economy ravaged by the pandemic has been overshadowed by a series of fights. In the last two days he has attacked the nation's leading infectious disease expert and a venerable TV newsmagazine while suggesting that the country was tired of talking about a virus that has killed more than 220,000 Americans.

Before leaving the White House for Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Trump taped part of an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" that apparently ended acrimoniously. On Twitter, the president declared his interview with Lesley Stahl to be "FAKE and BIASED," and he threatened to release a White House edit of it before its Sunday airtime. 

'So much work to do': How Biden is planning for transition

WASHINGTON — If Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump next month, he'll quickly face a new challenge: standing up a new administration to lead a divided nation through a series of historic crises.

After making Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic a centerpiece of his campaign, Biden will have to show that his team can better handle the public health calamity. He will also have to contend with what Democrats say is the damage the Trump administration has done to the bureaucratic machinery in Washington, as well as low morale throughout the civil service.

And he'll face pressure from liberals to deliver early wins with personnel and Cabinet picks to ensure their buy-in for his big policy fights to come.

With the election less than two weeks away, Biden and his aides are most focused on maintaining his advantage in polls against Trump. But some Democrats are beginning to prepare for the challenges that may swiftly unfold once the campaign is over.

"This will be one of the most important, most difficult and yes most costly transitions in modern American history," Chris Korge, the Democratic National Committee's finance chair, warned donors in a recent letter obtained by The Associated Press. "There is so much work to do."

Barrett was trustee at private school with anti-gay policies

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett served for nearly three years on the board of private Christian schools that effectively barred admission to children of same-sex parents and made it plain that openly gay and lesbian teachers weren't welcome in the classroom. 

The policies that discriminated against LGBTQ people and their children were in place for years at Trinity Schools Inc., both before Barrett joined the board in 2015 and during the time she served. 

The three schools, in Indiana, Minnesota and Virginia, are affiliated with People of Praise, an insular community rooted in its own interpretation of the Bible, of which Barrett and her husband have been longtime members. At least three of the couple's seven children have attended the Trinity School at Greenlawn, in South Bend, Indiana. 

The AP spoke with more than two dozen people who attended or worked at Trinity Schools, or former members of People of Praise. They said the community's teachings have been consistent for decades: Homosexuality is an abomination against God, sex should occur only within marriage and marriage should only be between a man and a woman. 

Interviewees told the AP that Trinity's leadership communicated anti-LGBTQ policies and positions in meetings, one-on-one conversations, enrollment agreements, employment agreements, handbooks and written policies — including those in place when Barrett was an active member of the board.

U.S. antitrust case against Google mirrors Microsoft battle

WASHINGTON  — The Trump administration's legal assault on Google actually feels like a blast from the past.

The U.S. Justice Department filed an equally high-profile case against a technology giant in 1998, accusing it of leveraging a monopoly position to lock customers into its products so they wouldn't be tempted by potentially superior options from smaller rivals.

That game-changing case, of course, targeted Microsoft and its personal computer software empire -- right around the same time that two ambitious entrepreneurs, both strident Microsoft critics, were starting up their own company with a funny name: Google.

Now things have come full circle with a lawsuit that deliberately echoes the U.S.-Microsoft showdown that unfolded under the administrations of President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.

"Back then, Google claimed Microsoft's practices were anticompetitive, and yet, now, Google deploys the same playbook to sustain its own monopolies," the Justice Department wrote in its lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Washington, D.C., federal court. 

New York Times: Tax records show Trump tried to land China projects

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company, The New York Times reported Tuesday. 

China is one of only three foreign nations — the others are Britain and Ireland — where Trump maintains a bank account, according to a Times analysis of the president's tax records. The foreign accounts do not show up on Trump's public financial disclosures, where he must list personal assets, because they are held under corporate names. 

The Chinese account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, which the tax records show paid $188,561 in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015.

In response to questions from The Times, Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, said the company had "opened an account with a Chinese bank having offices in the United States in order to pay the local taxes" associated with efforts to do business there. He said the company had opened the account after establishing an office in China "to explore the potential for hotel deals in Asia."

"No deals, transactions or other business activities ever materialized and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive," Garten said. "Though the bank account remains open, it has never been used for any other purpose."

Stampede kills 11 Afghans seeking visas to leave country

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 11 women were trampled to death when a stampede broke out Wednesday among thousands of Afghans waiting in a soccer stadium to get visas to leave the country, officials said.

Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for the governor of the eastern Nangarhar province, said another 13 people, mostly women, were injured at the stadium, where they were trying to get visas to enter neighboring Pakistan. He said most of those who died were elderly people from across Afghanistan.

In a separate incident, at least 34 Afghan police were killed in an ambush by Taliban militants in northern Afghanistan, officials said.

It was the deadliest attack since the Taliban and the Afghan government began holding long-delayed peace talks last month, part of a process launched under a deal signed between the United States and the insurgents in February. The talks are seen as the country's best chance for peace after decades of war.

Rahim Danish, the director of the main hospital in the northern Takhar province, confirmed receiving 34 bodies and said another eight security forces were wounded.

Pope reverts to mask-less old ways at indoor audience

ROME — A day after donning a face mask for the first time during a liturgical service, Pope Francis was back to his mask-less old ways Wednesday despite surging coronavirus infections across Europe.

Francis shunned a face mask again during his Wednesday general audience in the Vatican auditorium, and didn't wear one when he greeted a half-dozen mask-less bishops at the end. He shook hands and leaned in to chat privately with each one. 

While the clerics wore masks while seated during the audience, all but one took his mask off to speak to the pope. Only one kept it on, and by the end of his tete-a-tete with Francis, had lowered it under his chin.

Vatican regulations now require facemasks to be worn indoors and out where distancing can't be "always guaranteed." The Vatican hasn't responded to questions about why the pope wasn't following either Vatican regulations or basic public health measures to prevent COVID-19. 

Francis explained to the audience why he didn't plunge into the crowd at the start of the audience as he usually would do. But he said his distance from them was for their own well-being, to prevent crowds from forming around him.

Worsening opioid crisis overshadowed in presidential race

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Like millions of Americans, Diane Urban watched the first presidential debate last month at home with her family. When it was over, she turned off the television and climbed into the bed her 25-year-old son Jordan used to sleep in.

It was where she found Jordan's lifeless body after he overdosed on the opioid fentanyl one morning in April 2019.

After watching President Donald Trump target the son of former Vice President Joe Biden for his history of substance abuse, Urban was reminded again of the shame her son lived with during his own battle with addiction.

"I just think that Trump doesn't understand addiction," said Urban, 53, a Republican from Delphos, Ohio, who voted for the president in 2016.

The exchange over Hunter Biden's struggle with addiction was brief, and neither candidate was asked a follow-up question about their plan to tackle the nation's drug addiction and overdose crisis.

From Detroit to Oakland, pandemic threatens urban renewal

DETROIT — Downtown Detroit was returning to its roots as a vibrant city center, motoring away from its past as the model of urban ruin.

Then the pandemic showed up, emptying once-bustling streets and forcing many office workers to flee to their suburban homes.

Anthony Frank, who manages Dessert Oasis and Coffee Roasters on Griswold Street, said everyone loves Detroit's comeback story, but a 20% drop in business has been difficult to handle.

"We definitely had to do a lot of soul searching just to try to make sure that we were able to keep this thing going," said Frank, who is hopeful that things will eventually pick up again.

From midtown Manhattan to San Francisco, just about any city built around clusters of office buildings that used to bring in thousands of workers every day is feeling some degree of angst. 

Kershaw, LA stars shine, Dodgers top Rays 8-3 in WS opener

ARLINGTON, Texas — Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts — the Los Angeles Dodgers stars all shined.

Nothing out of the ordinary there, even if the setting was surreal.

Baseball's best team during the pandemic-shortened season showed off its many talents in the first World Series game played at a neutral site, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 8-3 Tuesday night.

With the seats mostly empty, Kershaw dominated for six innings, Bellinger and Betts homered and the Dodgers chased a wild Tyler Glasnow in the fifth inning and coasted home in the opener.

A crowd limited by the coronavirus to 11,388 at Globe Life Field, the new $1.2 billion home of the Texas Rangers, marked the smallest for baseball's top event in 111 years.

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