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‘End of the world’: Countdown to Beirut’s devastating blastBEIRUT (AP) — The 10 firefighters who received the call shortly before 6 p.m. — about a big fire at the nearby port of Beirut — could not know what awaited them. The brigade of nine men and one woman could not know about the stockpile of ammonium nitrate warehoused since 2013 along a busy motorway, in the heart of a densely populated residential area — a danger that had only grown with every passing year. They and nearly all the population of Beirut were simply unaware. They were not privy to the warnings authorities had received, again and again, and ignored: ammonium nitrate is highly explosive, used in fertilizer and sometimes to build bombs.

Trump’s vision of American greatness at center of convention

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans will aim to recast the story of Donald Trump’s presidency when they hold their national convention, featuring speakers drawn from everyday life as well as cable news and the White House while drawing a stark contrast with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Trump is looking to shift his campaign away from being a referendum on a presidency ravaged by a pandemic and economic collapse and toward a choice between vastly different visions of America’s future. Reshaping the national conversation around the race has taken on greater urgency for Trump, who trails in public and private surveys as the coronavirus continues to ravage the nation’s economy and his reelection chances.

House passes bill to reverse changes blamed for mail delays

WASHINGTON (AP) — With heated debate over mail delays, the House approved legislation in a rare Saturday session that would reverse recent changes in U.S. Postal Service operations and send $25 billion to shore up the agency ahead of the November election. Speaker Nancy Pelosi recalled lawmakers to Washington over objections from Republicans dismissing the action as a stunt. President Donald Trump urged a no vote, including in a Saturday tweet, railing against mail-in ballots expected to surge in the COVID-19 crisis. He has said he wants to block extra funds to the Postal Service. “Don’t pay any attention to what the president is saying, because it is all designed to suppress the vote,” Pelosi said at the Capitol.

Experts flag risks in India’s use of rapid tests for virus

NEW DELHI, India (AP) — In June, India began using cheaper, faster but less accurate tests to scale up testing for the coronavirus — a strategy that the United States is now considering. These rapid tests boosted India’s testing levels nearly five-fold within two months. But government numbers suggest some parts of the country might have become over reliant on the faster tests, which can miss infections. Experts warn that safely using them requires frequent retesting, something that isn’t always happening. Cases surged faster than labs could scale up testing once India’s harsh lockdown was relaxed. So far authorities have rationed the use of the more precise molecular tests that detect the genetic code of the virus.

Changing weather prompts more fire fears in California

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An unwelcome change in the weather, with higher winds, temperatures and lightning that threatens to spark new wildfires was coming Sunday to parched Northern California, where firefighters have for nearly a week battled three huge “complexes” of fires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced tens of thousands to flee. Firefighters made slow but hopeful progress in battling the blazes on Saturday, aided by good weather but hampered by smoky skies that grounded water-dropping aircraft for some of the day. Reinforcements arrived to bolster overwhelmed crews, and evacuation orders were lifted in some areas. But the changing weather brought fears of new fires overnight and warnings from state and local officials for residents in threatened areas to prepare to flee at any moment.

AP EXCLUSIVE: US faces back-to-school laptop shortage

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Schools across the United States are facing shortages and long delays, of up to several months, in getting this year’s most crucial back-to-school supplies: the laptops and other equipment needed for online learning, an Associated Press investigation has found. The world’s three biggest computer companies, Lenovo, HP and Dell, have told school districts they have a shortage of nearly 5 million laptops, in some cases exacerbated by Trump administration sanctions on Chinese suppliers, according to interviews with over two dozen U.S. schools, districts in 15 states, suppliers, computer companies and industry analysts. As the school year begins virtually in many places because of the coronavirus, educators nationwide worry that computer shortfalls will compound the inequities — and the headaches for students, families and teachers.

Iran retrieves data, cockpit talk from downed Ukraine plane

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has retrieved some data, including a portion of cockpit conversations, from the Ukrainian jetliner accidentally downed by the Revolutionary Guard forces in January, killing all 176 people on board, an Iranian official said Sunday. That’s according to a report on the website of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, which described the official’s remarks as part of the final report that Tehran plans to issue on the shootdown of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752. The development comes months after the Jan. 8 crash near Tehran. Iranian authorities had initially denied responsibility, only changing course days later, after Western nations presented extensive evidence that Iran had shot down the plane.

In recordings, Trump’s sister says he ‘has no principles’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s older sister, a former federal judge, is heard sharply criticizing her brother in a series of recordings released Saturday, at one point saying of the president, “He has no principles.” Maryanne Trump Barry was secretly recorded by her niece, Mary Trump, who recently released a book denouncing the president, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” Mary Trump said Saturday she made the recordings in 2018 and 2019. In one recording, Barry, 83, says she had heard a 2018 interview with her brother on Fox News in which he suggested that he would put her on the border to oversee cases of immigrant children separated from their parents.

Riot declared outside Portland public safety building

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Police forced protesters away from a law enforcement building in Oregon’s biggest city early Sunday, as efforts to stop the demonstrators from gathering at the building seemingly fell apart. The protesters apparently had plans Saturday night to march from a park to the Penumbra Kelly public safety building, news outlets reported. But, a standoff between marchers and officers took place on a bridge along the way — and the demonstrators retreated. Protesters appear to have returned to the park, and then taken cars to the building, according to a reporter for The Oregonian/Oregon Live. Police initially declared an unlawful assembly, saying items had been thrown at officers, green lasers had been pointed at them and paintball guns had been fired.

Protest erupts over fatal police shooting of Black man

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The mother of a man fatally shot by Louisiana police said her son was intelligent, shy and had sought therapy for social anxiety. Her lawyers said they plan to sue over the death of Trayford Pellerin, who police said had a knife and was trying to enter a convenience store. The shooting Friday night was captured on video, and the state ACLU condemned what it described as a “horrific and deadly incident of police violence against a Black person.” Both the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center quickly called for an investigation. Pellerin’s death prompted a crowd of protesters to gather Saturday and demonstrate against the latest fatal police shooting.




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