Briefs: President Trump takes law and order message to Kenosha, adds to racial tension

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2020, file photo, Jacob Blake's sister Letetra Widman, center, and uncle Justin Blake, left, march at a rally for Jacob Blake Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. Authorities have been reluctant to release even the most basic information about the incident or details about the white officer who shot Blake seven times in the back. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

Associated Press

After shootings Kenosha is a microcosm of US strife

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Claiming the mantle of the "law and order" candidate, President Donald Trump is offering himself as the leader best positioned to keep Americans safe, a day after Democratic rival Joe Biden assailed him over the deadly protests that have sprung up on his watch.

Trump is diving head-first into the latest eruption in the nation's reckoning over racial injustice with a trip Tuesday — over the objections of local leaders — to Kenosha, Wisconsin, which has been riven by protests since the Aug. 23 shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back by police. Trump has defended a teenage supporter accused of fatally shooting two men in Kenosha last week and accused the former vice president of siding with "anarchists" and "rioters." 

Wisconsin's Democratic governor, Tony Evers, who deployed the National Guard to quell demonstrations in response to the Blake shooting, pleaded with Trump to stay away for fear of straining tensions further. The White House said the president was expected to meet with law enforcement and tour "property affected by recent riots."

"I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together," Evers wrote in a letter to Trump.

Trump insisted his appearance could "increase enthusiasm" in Wisconsin, perhaps the most hotly contested battleground state in the presidential race, as the White House said he "wants to visit hurting Americans." He was expected to take credit for calling in the National Guard — an act taken by Evers — and for surging federal law enforcement to the city to restore the peace. The White House said Trump was not going to meet with Blake's family.

2 shootings, 2 days: In Kenosha, a microcosm of US strife

A Black man, accosted by police on a domestic dispute call, is left with bullet wounds in his back that will likely keep him from ever walking again. A white 17-year-old, rifle in hand, strolls past authorities untouched amid cries that he just gunned down three people protesting the Black man's shooting.

Two moments of bloodshed, two days and 2 miles apart in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And in those two moments, this mid-sized Midwestern city seemed a stark microcosm of a nation wracked by discord over racial inequity, policing and the meaning of public safety.

The chain of events that began Aug. 23 with Jacob Blake's shooting has become a disputed X-ray of a divided society — a black-and-white picture where some see racial injustice that proves the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement, while others see rioting that spurred a teenager to try to defend a community against chaos. 

But to many in Kenosha — taking stock of a convulsive week ahead of President Donald Trump's planned visit Tuesday — it's not as simple as that. 

As people here navigate barricaded streets, boarded-up windows and their own place along some of the deepest fault lines cleaving the U.S., there are many more than two perspectives on what happened, what it means and the way forward. 

Absent details, police shooting narratives seek to distract

A familiar narrative emerged in the days that followed Jacob Blake's shooting by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, one seen many times after a Black man or woman is killed or grievously wounded by police: That somehow Blake's actions or his past can explain why an officer fired seven bullets into his back.

Despite shocking bystander video and impassioned pleas from community and family members, authorities have offered few details about the shooting or the white officer who carried it out, instead highlighting scant information about Blake without elaborating or explaining its relevance to the shooting.

So, the sexual assault charge levied against Blake in July in connection with domestic abuse allegations quickly became part of the story, though authorities have refused to discuss its bearing on the police use of force on Aug. 23.

"This is what they do. They are trying to distract us from what we saw on the video," said Blake family attorney Ben Crump, who has represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and dozens of other victims of police brutality and vigilante violence.

"They are trying to leave him with any kind of criminal history (so) it's OK not to care about his life," said Crump, who called it a "playbook" for when police maim or kill Black people.

Trump, friends mourn right-wing activist killed in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. — A supporter of a right-wing group who was shot dead on a Portland, Oregon, street was mourned by both friends and President Donald Trump as a victim of mob violence while an online fundraising effort raised tens of thousands of dollars in his memory.

Just hours before he was shot in the chest Saturday night, 39-year-old Aaron "Jay" Danielson and a friend were seen heading downtown to protect a flag-waving caravan of Trump supporters. They wore hats with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a group that has clashed with left-wing protesters in Portland for years, and appeared armed with knives and paintball guns.

"Paint is a defensive mechanism. Paint is not bullets," Trump said during his White House briefing Monday, adding that someone connected with violent protests "shot a young gentleman and killed him. Not with paint but with a bullet."

In cellphone video of the shooting, both Danielson and his assailant were seen on a darkened street. At least three shots rang out in a smoky haze, followed by images of Danielson crumpled on the ground as the friend, Chandler Pappas, slaps him in the face and rolls him over, yelling "Jay! Jay!"

"He was a good man and he was just killed senselessly for no reason other than he believed something different than they do," Pappas told supporters during a rally Sunday. "He was Christian. He was conservative."

Belarus poll workers describe fraud in Aug. 9 election

MINSK, Belarus — Even before the Aug. 9 presidential election in Belarus ended, a poll worker in Minsk said she was asked to sign a document summing up its result, with the vote totals left blank.

Another worker who pointed out violations during the vote-counting was fired on the spot.

In the small city of Vitebsk, a poll worker signed a document with falsified results in favor of President Alexander Lukashenko and later was wracked with guilt for betraying the trust of the voters.

In the three weeks since the election that kept Lukashenko in power with a landslide win, hundreds of thousands of people have protested what they say was a rigged outcome. Demonstrations and strikes in the country have been met by a police crackdown including mass detentions, beatings and criminal charges against organizers.

The Associated Press interviewed election workers who said they saw ballot fraud or were pressured to falsify results in favor of Lukashenko. In addition, other evidence has been posted online showing falsifications and other irregularities.

233 more virus cases reported at ICE facility in Arizona

ELOY, Ariz. — Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reported 233 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 at one of its facilities in Arizona. 

The infections are at the La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, which has so far seen a total of 356 cases. No other facility reported even close to as many cases as La Palma did on Friday, with most detention centers seeing single-digit increases. 

It's unclear how many people are detained at La Palma, but overall there are more than 21,000 people being held in ICE custody on civil immigration violations nationwide. 

ICE spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe said in a statement that the agency recently expanded virus testing at La Palma, testing 1,000 detainees. Most were asymptomatic. 

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is firmly committed to the health, welfare and safety of detainees in our care, and this is one of the agency's highest priorities," Pitts O'Keefe wrote. 

The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, an advocacy group that provides legal services, said the high number of infections underscores the need to release immigrants from detention. 

The organization says its clients at La Palma report that large sections of the detention center are locked down and that they're being fed cold, boxed meals three times a day. 

Advocacy groups across the country have filed several lawsuits seeking to release vulnerable populations during the pandemic, and ICE has on some occasions released detainees who have health conditions that make them susceptible to getting seriously sick from the coronavirus. 

The agency reported 850 new positive cases nationwide on Friday for a total of 5,300 overall cases since the pandemic began. 

For most people, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a few weeks. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. 

Hong Kong begins mass-testing for virus amid public doubts

HONG KONG — Hong Kong tested thousands of people for coronavirus Tuesday at the start of a mass-testing effort that's become another political flash point in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Volunteers stood in lines at some of the more than 100 testing centers, though many residents are distrustful over the resources and staff being provided by China's central government and some have expressed fear DNA could be collected.

The Hong Kong government has dismissed such concerns, and leader Carrie Lam urged the public to see the program in a fair and objective light and appealed to critics to stop discouraging people from being tested since participation was crucial to the program's success.

Priscilla Pun, a sales manager, got tested to give herself peace of mind. "I don't see any reason not to do it, and this way I can let my family in Canada know that I am safe," said Pun, who was tested at a center in the eastern Quarry Bay neighborhood.

Others, like Giselle Ming, said that she decided to take part to support the Hong Kong government's initiative even though she was not worried that she might be a carrier of the coronavirus. "In this bad situation of the coronavirus, I hope I can do something to help the society," she said.

French leader marks Lebanon centennial ahead of gov't talks

BEIRUT (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron planted a cedar tree in a forest north of Beirut, marking Lebanon's centenary on Tuesday, ahead of talks with officials on ways to help extract the country from an unprecedented economic and financial crisis and the aftermath of a massive blast that left thousands dead or wounded.

Macron returned to Lebanon on Monday, his second visit since the devastating explosion last month ripped through Beirut — the most destructive single incident in Lebanon's history. This time his visit, packed with events and political talks aimed at charting a way out of the crisis, also comes as Lebanon celebrates its 100th anniversary.

The day before, Lebanon's Ambassador to Germany Mustapha Adib was appointed by the president to form a new government after winning the backing of major political parties and leaders in Lebanon. But the 48-year-old diplomat, little known to the public before he emerged abruptly as a consensus candidate, faces a mammoth task and has been rejected by activists and a public demanding that long-ruling politicians stand down.

France and the international community have said they will not provide financial assistance to Lebanon unless it implements reforms to fight widespread corruption and mismanagement that have brought the tiny nation to the brink of bankruptcy. Adib, a dual Lebanese-French citizen, promised to carry out the mission as he prepared to form a new Cabinet, saying he will work on reaching a bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund.

In another step by the outgoing government to show that Lebanon is moving ahead with reforms, outgoing Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni signed Tuesday three contracts related to a forensic audit of Lebanon's Central Bank accounts to determine how massive amounts of money were spent in the nation plagued by corruption.

75 years later, Japanese man recalls bitter internment in US

TOKYO  — When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, the first thing Hidekazu Tamura, a Japanese American living in California, thought was, "I'll be killed at the hands of my fellow Americans." It wouldn't be the last time he felt that way. 

At 99, amid commemorations of Wednesday's 75th anniversary of the formal Sept. 2, 1945, surrender ceremony that ended World War II, Tamura has vivid memories of his time locked up with thousands of other Japanese Americans in U.S. internment camps. Torn between two warring nationalities, the experience led him to refuse a loyalty pledge to the United States, renounce his American citizenship and return to Japan. 

"I have too many stories to tell," he chuckles in an interview with The Associated Press. 

Born in Los Angeles to Japanese farmers, his parents earned enough money to return to Japan in just a few years, buying a farm near Osaka. 

Against his family's wishes, Tamura moved back to the United States alone in 1938 when he was 17, after his dream of becoming an aircraft pilot was crushed when he failed an eye exam. The United States, he hoped, would provide him the same opportunities his parents received. 

Venice reclaims spotlight as 1st COVID-era film fest opens

ROME (AP) — Venice is reclaiming its place as a top cultural destination with the opening of the Venice Film Festival — the first major in-person cinema showcase of the coronavirus era after Cannes canceled and other international festivals opted to go mostly online this year.

But don't be fooled. The 77th edition of the world's oldest film festival will look nothing like its predecessors.

The public will be barred from the red carpet, Hollywood stars and films will be largely absent and face masks will be required indoors and out as the festival opens Wednesday. 

Those strict measures are evidence of the hard line Venice and the surrounding Veneto region took to contain the virus when it first emerged in the lagoon city in late February. Unlike neighboring Lombardy, which became the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe, Veneto largely kept the virus under control with early local lockdowns and broad testing once the virus was widespread. 

La Biennale chief Robert Cicutto said the decision to hold the festival at all was an important sign of rebirth for Venice and the film industry, and said the experience on the Lido will serve as a "laboratory" for future cultural gatherings.

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