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Showing posts from August 24, 2020

Biden says more money, planning needed to reopen U.S. schools

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- Democrat Joe Biden on Friday hammered President Donald Trump’s approach to reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting billions more in funding may be needed to educate children safely. A five-part plan released by Biden’s campaign argued that children can only return to the classroom after summer recess once more measures are taken to stop the novel coronavirus and prepare schools for the risks. That could include as much as $34 billion more in federal aid than even Biden’s Democratic Party has already proposed to help school districts make modifications for social distancing, protective equipment, sanitation and upgrading internet broadband, Biden’s campaign said. “The challenge facing our schools is unprecedented,” the campaign wrote. “President Trump has made it much worse.” Trump campaign spokesman Ken Farnaso said Biden is “beholden” to teachers’ unions. “Democrats, led by Joe Biden, have done nothing but fearmonger and call for schools and offices to continu

Trump expected to exclude undocumented migrants from U.S. census

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WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump is expected to soon issue an executive order that would ban undocumented immigrants from being included in the 2020 census count of every person living in the United States, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, had no details of the order. The exact timing of the order was unclear. It was not expected to be issued on Friday, the source said. The government’s census count helps in determining where taxpayer money is spent for building public facilities like schools, hospitals and fire departments, as well as calculating states’ apportionment in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Trump administration has long sought to use the census as a vehicle to identify, and possibly limit the political power of, undocumented immigrants. In 2018, the administration said it would ask respondents to the 2020 census whether they were citizens, a move ultimately nixed by the U.S. Supreme Court. At the

Biden facing pressure within party as running mate search enters final phase

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- Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is facing pressure from contending groups inside his party as he prepares to interview a shortlist of women for the most important hire of his political career: his running mate. Biden, who committed to choosing a woman for the job he held for eight years under President Barack Obama, said this week he expected the background vetting process to conclude around July 24. He would then interview each finalist before making a decision, expected by early August. The selection of the vice presidential candidate has taken on outsize importance this year, reflecting the desperation to defeat Republican President Donald Trump among Democrats, who have agonized over which candidate would give Biden the biggest boost in the Nov. 3 election. Biden leads in national and battleground-state opinion polls as voters fault Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the subsequent economic recession and race relations. Adding to the weight of Biden’

Factbox: Who is speaking at the Democratic National Convention - and why

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- This week’s Democratic National Convention will feature a lineup of heavyweight politicians, rising stars and everyday Americans making the case for why Joe Biden should be elected U.S. president on Nov. 3. Here is a look at the speakers who will be featured during four nights of virtual programming kicking off on Monday. The first night of programming represents an effort to show the country’s full ideological spectrum uniting behind Biden. Senator Bernie Sanders, a liberal who fought the centrist Biden for the Democratic nomination, and two-time Republican former presidential candidate John Kasich will tell voters why they both support Biden over Republican President Donald Trump. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a leading progressive who vexes conservatives and represents a younger generation of voters often at odds with Biden’s positions, will speak at the convention on Tuesday. In addition to Sanders, the convention is expected to feature several more of Bid

U.S. COVID-19 deaths rise; cases drop for fourth week in a row

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- The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 rose 2% to about 7,400 people last week, while new cases declined for a fourth week in a row, according to a Reuters tally of state and county reports. The country posted 360,000 new COVID-19 cases for the week ended Aug. 16, down from a weekly peak of over 468,000 cases in mid-July. The United States has the worst outbreak in the world in terms of total cases and deaths, accounting for a quarter of the global total of 21 million cases. Louisiana led last week’s decline with cases falling 44%, followed by Arkansas down 41% and South Carolina down 30%. Cases in California rose 32%, partly due to a backlog of tests caused by technical problems that the state says it has now cleared. (Open tmsnrt.rs/2WTOZDR in an external browser for a Reuters interactive) In South Dakota, new cases increased for the fourth straight week. More than 100,000 motorcycle enthusiasts traveled from all over the country for an annual rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, which bega

Washington names former player Wright as NFL's first Black team president

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- The Washington Football Team on Monday named former NFL running back Jason Wright as its president, making him the first Black person to be hired for such a role in National Football League history. Wright, who following his retirement in 2011 earned his MBA from the University of Chicago, will be responsible for leading the team’s business divisions, including operations, finance, sales and marketing. The 38-year-old former player joins a Washington team that last month said it will retire its Redskins name and logo which had been used since 1933 but had long been criticized as racist by Native American rights groups. “This team, at this time, is an ideal opportunity for me,” Wright said in a news release. “The transformation of the Washington Football Team is happening across all aspects of the organization – from football to operations to branding to culture – and will make us a truly modern and aspirational franchise. “We want to set new standards for the NFL.” Wright, who previ

Hispanics, non-white workers highly affected by U.S. COVID-19 outbreaks, says CDC

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- Outbreaks of the new coronavirus in U.S. workplaces have disproportionately hit Hispanic and non-white communities, according to an analysis of data from Utah by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the report, workers from those communities accounted for 73% of workplace-associated COVID-19 cases between March 6 and June 5, even though only 24% of Utah’s workforce in all affected sectors identified as Hispanic, Latino or a race other than non-Hispanic whites. Workplace-associated outbreaks of the new coronavirus accounted for 76% of all outbreaks in Utah, and nearly half of those occurred in the manufacturing, construction and wholesale trade sectors. This disparity in the number of cases could be the result of an over-representation of non-white and Hispanic workers in occupations that are considered “front-line,” for whom the risk of COVID-19 infections is higher, the researchers said. In addition, those workers have less-flexible work hours and fewer r

'Definitely awkward': University freshmen get online welcome

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LOS ANGELES - Sarah Showich, an 18-year-old theater major, was looking forward to joining tens of thousands of other students on Monday for a first day of classes on the campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Instead, she is starting classes online from her home in Beverly Hills, Michigan, on the outskirts of Detroit. Instead of getting to know a roommate, she is sharing space with her younger brother and her parents, who are also studying or working from home. Instead of making friends with classmates in person, she is meeting them via Zoom. “It’s definitely awkward,” said Showich by telephone. “I’m not going to lie, like making friends online is very awkward because it’s so hard to get past the small talk virtually.” Welcome Week, held last week, in normal years has a carnival-like atmosphere. Hundreds of events are engineered to get students past the small talk. This year, all the receptions, movie nights, trivia meet-ups, concerts and the pomp and circums

As U.S. homebuilder confidence matches record high, mortgage delinquencies rise

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- U.S. home builder confidence rose for a third straight month in August to match its highest level ever as record-low interest rates spur buyer traffic, data released on Monday showed in the latest indication the housing market is a rare bright spot in the economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, however, a growing number of home owners are falling behind on their mortgages with tens of millions still out of work and growing signs that the labor market recovery is softening. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose 6 points to 78, matching a series record set in 1998. The median expectation among 30 economists in a Reuters poll was for a rise to 73 from July’s reading of 72. NAHB’s measures of both current and future home sales improved. “Housing has clearly been a bright spot during the pandemic and the sharp rebound in builder confidence over the summer has led NAHB to upgrade its forecast for single-family st

Germany says Merkel did not speak to Belarus leader

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MINSK - The German government said on Monday Chancellor Angela Merkel had not spoken by telephone with Alexander Lukashenko since an Aug. 9 presidential election in Belarus, after Lukashenko said Merkel had called on Sunday asking to talk. The Belarusian leader faces the biggest challenge to his 26-year rule amid protests and strikes against his declaration that he won the election. “Yesterday Merkel called, ‘I want to talk,’” Interfax news agency quoted Lukashenko as saying on Monday. A spokesman for the German government said the two leaders had not spoken to each other. “Such a conversation between Merkel and Lukashenko has not taken place since the elections,” the spokesman told Reuters. Lukashenko faces the threat of European Union sanctions after a crackdown on protests following what demonstrators say was his rigged re-election victory last week. He denies losing, citing official results that gave him just over 80% of the vote.

German government denies Merkel-Lukashenko conversation took place

BERLIN - A spokesman for the German government denied that any phone call had taken place between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko since the August 9 election, contradicting what Lukashenko had earlier said.

'I'm not a saint': Lukashenko offers to hand over power after referendum

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MINSK - Alexander Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus, said on Monday he would be ready to hold new elections and hand over power after a constitutional referendum, an attempt to pacify mass protests and strikes that pose the biggest challenge yet to his rule. He made the offer, which he insisted would not be delivered on while he was under pressure from protesters, after exiled opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said she was willing to lead the country. In a sign of his growing vulnerability, Lukashenko faced heckling and chants of “step down” during a speech to workers at one of the large state-run factories that are the pride of his Soviet-style economic model and core support base. He faces the threat of European Union sanctions after a bloody crackdown on protests following what demonstrators say was his rigged re-election victory last week. He cites official results that gave him just over 80% of the vote. Officials in Washington and the EU want Russia not to meddle i

U.S. states seek $2.2 trillion from OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma: filings

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NEW YORK - U.S. states claimed they are owed $2.2 trillion to address harm from OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP’s alleged role in America’s opioid epidemic, accusing the drugmaker in new filings of pushing prescription painkillers on doctors and patients while playing down the risks of abuse and overdose. In filings made as part of Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings that were disclosed on Monday, the states said Purdue, backed by the wealthy Sackler family, contributed to a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of roughly 450,000 people since 1999 and caused strains on healthcare and criminal justice systems. The filings cited more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S. tied directly to prescription opioids between 1999 and 2016. In large states such as California and New York, claims alone totaled more than $192 billion and $165 billion, respectively. Forty-nine U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and various territories are making the claims. Oklahoma settled litigation with Purdue last

U.S. congressional Democrats, White House to meet on coronavirus aid

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WASHINGTON - Advisers to President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats were set to discuss the next steps in responding to the coronavirus crisis on Tuesday, with congressional Republicans saying they were working on a $1 trillion relief bill. In a meeting on Monday at the White House, Republican lawmakers and administration officials said they were making progress toward fresh legislation aimed at cushioning the heavy economic toll of the pandemic. “Senate Republicans will put forward our proposal soon, I hope our Democratic colleagues will be ready to work together,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who hopes to unveil the proposal this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will host a meeting on Tuesday to discuss coronavirus relief with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, a source familiar with the matter said. Administration officials also met with Republican senators at the Capitol on

Biden's presidential campaign spent $36.9 million in June

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WASHINGTON/NEW YORK - Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign spent $36.9 million in June, ending the month with $108.9 million in cash, according to a disclosure filed on Monday with the Federal Election Commission.

Former Trump lawyer Cohen seeks release from jail, calling it 'retaliation'

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- Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, asked a federal court on Monday to release him from prison, saying he was put back behind bars in retaliation for stating his plan to publish a book about the president. Cohen was released from a federal prison in May due to concerns over exposure to the novel coronavirus. He had completed about a year of a three-year sentence for his role in hush money payments to two women, as well as for financial crimes and lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. But he was imprisoned again this month, which was a violation of his First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution, his attorneys said in a petition filed in Manhattan federal court against U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the director of the Bureau of Prisons and the warden at the federal prison in Otisville, New York. (bit.ly/3hdfmxc) “He is being held in retaliation for his protected speech, including drafting a book manuscript that is critic

U.S. West power prices at record high as California eyes more outages

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- Electric prices in the U.S. West soared to record highs as California consumers prepared for more outages on Monday after the grid operator ordered utilities to cut power over the weekend to reduce system strain during a brutal heat wave. PG&E Corp said more rotating outages were likely to occur in response to the California ISO’s ‘flex alert’ urging consumers to keep conserving electricity through at least Wednesday when the weather is expected to start to cool. The California ISO, which operates the grid for much of the state, told utilities late Friday to start rotating outages that left more than 400,000 homes and businesses sweltering for about an hour each as air conditioning demand outstripped available generation resources. The last time the ISO asked utilities to impose rotating outages was in 2001 when several energy companies were accused of manipulating the power market to cause prices to spike and electric supplies to run artificially short. Rotating outages this w

House Speaker Pelosi expects Republican support for U.S. Postal Service bill

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WASHINGTON - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday she expects to receive Republican support for a Democratic bill the House will consider this weekend to aid the Postal Service amid concerns over its ability to handle a flood of mail-in ballots in the Nov. 3 election. “We expect to receive bipartisan support on our legislation, send it to the Senate and see if they reject the will of the people,” Pelosi told MSNBC in an interview.

Factbox: What are the U.S. Postal Service changes that have stirred controversy?

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- A U.S. Postal Service internal watchdog is looking into service disruptions that have slowed mail delivery ahead of a presidential election that could see up to half of U.S. voters casting ballots by mail. The new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, has ordered changes in mail delivery policies since taking the reins at the agency in June, which has fueled concerns over the Postal Service’s ability to handle the ballots. Here is a summary of the changes: * Starting in July, delivery drivers have had to leave at scheduled times even if their trucks are not fully loaded with mail, according to internal Postal Service documents and officers at postal unions. Previously, trucks often waited for mail sorting facilities to finish processing and loading the day’s mail before carting it to branches for delivery by letter carriers. * The Postal Service has ordered restrictions on overtime hours for clerks and carriers, part of a bid to cut costs at the financially-troubled service, which repor

U.S. military reviewing report of drone sighting near Air Force One

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Air Force said on Monday it was reviewing a report that a drone flew near President Donald Trump’s airplane on Sunday as it descended near Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. A reporter tweeted he saw an object that looked like a drone and said the modified Boeing 757 flew “right over a small object, remarkably close to the president’s plane” as Trump returned to Washington from New Jersey. The 89th Airlift Wing said on Monday it “is aware of the report. The matter is under review.” The Air Force noted the plane landed safely without incident just before 6 p.m. on Sunday. Any plane the president is flying on is designated as Air Force One.

On eve of Hariri verdict, Lebanese grapple with new ordeal

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BEIRUT - More than 15 years since Lebanon’s Rafik al-Hariri was killed by a massive bomb blast in Beirut, the verdict of a U.N.-backed tribunal into his assassination is due on Tuesday as the country reels from the aftermath of an even bigger explosion. The Aug. 4 port blast, which killed 178 people, has overshadowed the long-awaited verdict. It was the biggest explosion in Lebanon’s history and more powerful than the bomb that killed Hariri and 21 others on Beirut’s seafront corniche in 2005. Hariri, a Sunni billionaire seen as a threat to Iranian and Syrian influence in Lebanon, had close ties with the United States, Western and Sunni Gulf Arab allies opposed to Iran’s expanding role in Lebanon and the region. Four members of the Iran-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah have been on trial in absentia over the killing of Saudi-backed Hariri, Lebanon’s main Sunni Muslim leader. Hezbollah denies any role in the killing, which set the stage for years of confrontation, culminating in a brief

Two charged with 2002 New York murder 'in cold blood' of rapper Jam Master Jay

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- Rapper Jam Master Jay, one of the founder members of Run-DMC, was murdered in 2002 “in cold blood” as part of a dispute over a drugs deal, U.S. prosecutors said on Monday. They announced that two men had been charged with his murder, bringing to a close the attempt to solve one of the biggest unsolved killings in the world of rap. Jam Master Jay, 37, whose real name was Jason Mizell, was shot inside a recording studio in the New York City borough of Queens. “This is a case about a murder that for nearly two decades had gone unanswered, and so today we begin to answer that question of who killed Jason Mizell, and why,” Seth DuCharme, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, told a news conference. One of the accused men, Karl Jordan Jr., pleaded not guilty to murder and eight drug-related charges through his lawyer when he was arraigned on Monday. DuCharme said the other man, Ronald Washington, would be arraigned later this week. If convicted they would face

Canada refuses to release emails with U.S. over Huawei exec's arrest

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VANCOUVER - Canada has released as much information as it legally can about the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, the government’s lawyers said on Monday, as she sought more confidential documents relating to her 2018 detention. Meng, 48, was arrested in December 2018 at Vancouver International Airport on a U.S. warrant charging her with bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran. She has said she is innocent, and is fighting extradition to the United States while under house arrest in Vancouver. On the first day of hearings expected to last up to three days, Meng’s lawyer said a “flurry of emails” between Canadian and American officials around the time of Meng’s arrest should not all be covered by privilege, as Canadian prosecutors have argued. Meng’s lawyers have pushed for the release of more documents to support their assertion that Canadian and American authorities committed abuses of process while questioning Meng befor

World temperature record set in California's Death Valley

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FURNACE CREEK, Calif. - One of the hottest air temperatures recorded anywhere on the planet in at least a century, and possibly ever, was reached on Sunday afternoon at Death Valley in California’s Mojave Desert where it soared to 130 Fahrenheit (54.4 Celsius). An automated observation system run by the U.S. National Weather Service in the valley’s sparsely populated Furnace Creek reported the record at 3:41 p.m. at the crest of an extreme heat wave, a more frequent occurrence due to climate change. It was a dry heat: Humidity fell to 7%. But it felt “insanely hot” all the same, according to meteorologist Daniel Berc at the weather service’s Las Vegas bureau. A heat wave roasting much of the western United States would continue all week, he said on Monday. “It’s literally like being in an oven,” he said in a telephone interview. “Today is another day we could take another run at 130F.” Tourists on Monday took selfies by an outdoor thermometer at the Death Valley visitor center while

Trump's Postal Service chief to testify amid fears about U.S. election

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WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump’s postmaster general on Monday agreed to testify before Congress next week on cuts in service that lawmakers fear could hamper the Postal Service’s ability to handle a flood of mail-in ballots in November’s election. Louis DeJoy, a large donor and Trump ally who became the new postmaster general in June, agreed to testify next Monday before the Democratic-led House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating whether service changes adopted in recent weeks have slowed mail deliveries. Democrats, who control the House, are also weighing legislation on the issue, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying in an MSNBC interview on Monday that she expected some Republicans to support it. “We will have vote by mail. It will be successful. We will not depend on the president to anoint it,” she said. Democrats have raised concerns that, amid a coronavirus pandemic that is expected to result in about twice as many Americans voting by mail

U.S. tightening restrictions on Huawei access to technology, chips

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WASHINGTON - The Trump administration on Monday announced it will further tighten restrictions on Huawei Technologies Co, aimed at cracking down on its access to commercially available chips. The U.S. Commerce Department actions expand restrictions announced in May aimed at preventing the Chinese telecommunications giant from obtaining semiconductors without a special license - including chips made by foreign firms that have been developed or produced with U.S. software or technology. The administration also added 38 Huawei affiliates in 21 countries to the U.S. government’s economic blacklist, the sources said, raising the total to 152 affiliates since Huawei was first added in May 2019. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business the restrictions on Huawei-designed chips imposed in May “led them to do some evasive measures. They were going through third parties,” Ross said. “The new rule makes it clear that any use of American software or American fabrication equipment is banne

Biden accuses Trump of 'egregious tactics' in Portland protest crackdown

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WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden accused the Trump administration on Tuesday of “egregious tactics” in cracking down on protests in Portland, Oregon, saying the response by federal agents was stoking divisions in the country. Biden, who leads Republican President Donald Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, said in a statement that Homeland Security agents in Portland, some without any identifying markings, had been “brutally attacking peaceful protesters” and ranging far from federal property to detain people. “We have a president who is determined to sow chaos and division. To make matters worse instead of better,” Biden said, in his first public comments on the Portland unrest. Trump and Department of Homeland Security officials have defended the efforts of officers in Portland as the city has faced prolonged demonstrations against racial injustice, saying they were trying to protect federal property. Portland’s mayor has protested the federal

Trump's legal authority to deploy agents to U.S. cities may be limited, experts say

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- U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to send federal agents to major cities controlled by Democrats may be difficult to defend in court, some legal experts said. Armed with a new executive order aimed at protecting U.S. monuments, federal law enforcement started cracking down last week on demonstrations against police brutality and racism in Portland, Oregon. Some agents wore camouflage and used tear gas following more than 50 nights of protests over the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Trump said on Monday he might deploy agents to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland, California, cities controlled by “liberal Democrats.” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said they would sue here if Trump followed through, while predicting he would not. Legal experts said Trump can deploy federal agents to enforce federal laws, but lacks carte blanche. “The president is not the king,” said Kent Greenfield, a Boston C

Ohio House speaker, 4 others charged in $60 million nuclear bailout bribery case

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- Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican, and four other men tied to state politics were arrested on Tuesday in a $60 million federal bribery case stemming from a bill passed last year to bail out the state’s nuclear power plants, a U.S. prosecutor said. Shares of FirstEnergy Corp ( FE.N ) fell 17% after U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers revealed what he called the largest bribery and money-laundering scheme in state history. He said the five men were charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. While DeVillers did not identify the company involved, Akron-based FirstEnergy operates the state’s two nuclear plants. The company, he said, gave $60 million to Generation Now, a political nonprofit operated by the five men, funds used for lobbying that secured passage of a controversial $1.5 billion bill that bailed out the plants, he said. “These allegations were bribery pure and simple,” DeVillers said. FirstEnergy said in a release it had rece

Rolling blackouts warning issued for 3 million California homes

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LOS ANGELES - The agency running California’s power grid warned that millions of homes could be hit by rolling blackouts imposed on Monday to manage overwhelming energy demands caused by an extreme heat wave baking the state for a fourth straight day. Officials for the California Independent System Operator estimated that peak electricity consumption on Monday would likely exceed available supply statewide by as much as 4,400 megawatts - roughly equivalent to the amount of power needed by 3.3 million homes. A lapse of that magnitude would mark the most severe shortfall to strike California’s grid since 2001, the last time utilities in the state essentially rationed energy in the form of rolling blackouts, said Ralph Cavanagh, energy co-director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. The controlled power disruptions, with alternating blocks of utility customers losing electricity for one or two hours at a time, are designed to prevent excess demand from trig

Explainer: How the coronavirus changed U.S. political conventions, perhaps forever

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WASHINGTON - The U.S. political convention, a presidential campaign ritual dating to the 1830s, is being reinvented on the fly after being short-circuited by the coronavirus pandemic - much like the campaign itself. Here is a look at how the Democratic and Republican conventions will be different this year - and maybe for campaigns to come. There will be no roaring crowds of delegates in a cavernous hall, no balloon drops or wall-to-wall parties. Both Democrats and Republicans will offer mostly virtual programs featuring speeches and events from around the country. Nevertheless, the Democratic National Convention this Monday through Thursday could give presumptive nominee Joe Biden his first big, attentive audience in months, said Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University. Though Biden leads Republican President Donald Trump in opinion polls, the Democratic former vice president has been largely kept off the campaign trail by the pandemic. Trump, meanwhile, has con

Trump rejects proposal to cut military healthcare by $2.2 billion

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- U.S. President Donald Trump said late on Monday he has rejected a Pentagon proposal to cut military healthcare by $2.2 billion. Politico reported politi.co/2E5GqQS on Sunday that Pentagon officials working on Defense Secretary Mark Esper's cost-cutting review of the U.S. Defense Department had proposed slashing military healthcare by $2.2 billion. "A proposal by Pentagon officials to slash Military Healthcare by $2.2 billion dollars has been firmly and totally rejected by me. We will do nothing to hurt our great Military professionals & heroes as long as I am your President," Trump said in a tweet bit.ly/2Czf2dk. The cut proposed to the military health system over the next five years came as part of an effort by Esper that started last year with the goal of eliminating inefficiencies within the Pentagon’s coffers, Politico reported. Politico also said, however, that senior defense officials had argued that such cuts would have hurt the healthcare of millions of

Factbox: 'We the People' - Array of voices at U.S. Democratic convention slam Trump, praise Biden

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- The Democratic Party presented a parade of passionate speakers on Monday making the case for electing Joe Biden president of the United States, the first day of a virtual convention to formally nominate him as the party’s nominee to face President Donald Trump in November. Quotes from the night are below. Former first lady Michelle Obama: “Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.” “So if you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.” Senator Bernie Sanders, who was Biden’s leading rival for the