Protesters chant as Trump visits Dayton, El Paso

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Aiming to play the traditional role of healer during national tragedy, President Donald Trump paid visits Wednesday to two cities reeling from mass shootings that left 31 dead and dozens more wounded. But his divisive words preceded him, large protests greeted him and biting political attacks soon followed.

The president and first lady Melania Trump flew to El Paso late in the day after visiting the Dayton hospital where many of the victims of Sunday's attack in that city were treated. The president was kept out of view of the reporters traveling with him, but White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the couple met with hospital staff and first responders and spent time with wounded survivors and their families.

Trump told them he was "with them," she said. "Everybody received him very warmly. Everybody was very, very excited to see him."

But outside Miami Valley Hospital, at least 200 protesters gathered, blaming Trump's incendiary rhetoric for inflaming political and racial tensions in the country and demanding action on gun control . Some said Trump was not welcome in their city. There were Trump supporters, as well.

Emotions are still raw in the aftermath of the early Sunday morning shooting rampage that left 10 dead, including the gunman, in the city's popular Oregon entertainment district. Critics contend Trump's own words have contributed to a combustible climate that has spawned violence in cities including El Paso, where another shooter killed 22 people over the weekend.

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Trump words linked to more hate crime? Some experts think so

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — President Donald Trump has often railed about an "invasion of illegals" at the southern border, words echoed in a screed the El Paso shooting suspect apparently posted that called the attack that killed 22 people at a Walmart his response to a "Hispanic invasion of Texas."

Some extremism experts believe that may not be an accident. They say historical data suggests a link between heated rhetoric from top political leaders and ensuing reports of hate crimes, only adding to the fears of those who could be targeted.

"We can't say that Trump is at fault because these mass killings have existed for a long time," said Carlos Tarin, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in El Paso for three decades, but the recent rancor over immigration "has woken up that feeling that had been sleeping."

The rampage in Texas has brought new attention to the dangers of immigration-motivated hate crimes and violence in a country with 58 million Latinos amid daily political rhetoric from the White House, conservative politicians and the dark corners of the internet about migrants coming across the border.

Overall, statistics released by the FBI late last year showed hate crimes in the United States rose 17% in 2017 compared to the previous year, the third straight annual increase. There were 7,175 hate crime incidents in 2017, and of the crimes motivated by hatred over race or ethnicity, nearly half involved African-Americans and 11% were anti-Hispanic.

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Dad's dying breath came in son's arms after Ohio shooting

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Dion Green was ready for some fun with his family after he spent the last few months repairing his home that was ravaged by one of the tornadoes that devastated the Dayton, Ohio region.

He said the weekend was supposed to be their time to relax, "enjoy and take a breath." It was his brother-in-law's birthday, so Green planned a night out for him, his sister and his fiancé for on Saturday. And he really wanted to spend time with his father, Derrick Fudge.

Green, 37, said he called his father and asked if he wanted to join, adding "he's not going to tell me 'No.'"

Within hours, his father would be in his arms, his eyes looking into his son's as he took his final breath.

Fudge, 57, was the oldest of the nine people killed in volleys of gunfire from Connor Betts, the 24-year-old whose shooting rampage with an assault-style rifle just after 1 a.m. Sunday in the city's Oregon entertainment district also injured at least 37 other people. Four remained hospitalized Wednesday.

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Largest US immigration raids in a decade net 680 arrests

MORTON, Miss. (AP) — U.S. immigration officials raided numerous Mississippi food processing plants Wednesday, arresting 680 mostly Latino workers in what marked the largest workplace sting in at least a decade.

The raids, planned months ago, happened just hours before President Donald Trump was scheduled to visit El Paso, Texas, the majority-Latino city where a man linked to an online screed about a "Hispanic invasion" was charged in a shooting that left 22 people dead in the border city.

Workers filled three buses — two for men and one for women — at a Koch Foods Inc. plant in tiny Morton, 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Jackson. They were taken to a military hangar to be processed for immigration violations. About 70 family, friends and residents waved goodbye and shouted, "Let them go! Let them go!" Later, two more buses arrived.

A tearful 13-year-old boy whose parents are from Guatemala waved goodbye to his mother, a Koch worker, as he stood beside his father. Some employees tried to flee on foot but were captured in the parking lot.

Workers who were confirmed to have legal status were allowed to leave the plant after having their trunks searched.

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Trade war escalation comes at inopportune moment for economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The escalation of the U.S.-China trade fight comes at a particularly inopportune moment for the global economy, threatening to turn a period of slower growth into recession.

In the past week, President Donald Trump has said he will impose new taxes on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese imports. Beijing responded by halting purchases of U.S. farm goods and allowing the value of its currency, the yuan, to fall to an 11-year low. Trump, in turn, labeled China a currency manipulator, a step that has little immediate effect but could lead to future tariff hikes.

The rapid-fire sequence of events "shatters confidence, trust and expectations," said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Loyola Marymount University in California. World stock markets tumbled Monday — the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 767 points or 2.9% — before rebounding Tuesday. The Dow recovered from a steep fall Wednesday morning and was down 68 points in afternoon trading.

The prospects for a trade deal, which appeared bright as recently as mid-May, have dimmed to near-invisibility.

"They are all moving in the wrong directions," Sohn said. "I don't think the Chinese are looking for a trade deal during the current term of President Trump. They have decided he is too unpredictable to negotiate with."

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US stocks erase most of an early loss as volatility surges

Stocks overcame a big loss on Wall Street Wednesday, though the market's recovery left plenty of signs of worry among investors that the fallout from the trade war between the U.S. and China will spread.

A late-afternoon rally lifted most of the major stock indexes out of the red, reversing most of the early slide that briefly pulled the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 580 points. Technology and consumer staples stocks powered much of the gains, offsetting losses in banks, energy companies and other sectors.

Even so, the moves in the bond and commodities markets signaled that investors are nervous that the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China may derail the global economy.

Bond yields sank around the world, something that happens when investors see a weaker economy and low inflation on the way. The price of oil tanked and the price of gold shot up to its highest level in six years as traders sought safe-haven holdings.

"You did see buyers come back to the market, which is a good sign for the market in the near term," said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist with CFRA Research. "Investors need to buckle in for some volatility here in the next couple of months."

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In his own words: Ex-Cardinal's letters to abuse victims

VATICAN CITY (AP) — At first glance, the handwritten postcards and letters look innocuous, even warm, sometimes signed off by "Uncle T." or "Your uncle, Father Ted."

But taken in context, the correspondence penned by disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to the young men he is accused of sexually abusing or harassing is a window into the way a predator grooms his prey, according to two abuse prevention experts who reviewed it for The Associated Press.

Full of flattery, familiarity and boasts about his own power, the letters provide visceral evidence of how a globe-trotting bishop made young, vulnerable men feel special — and then allegedly took advantage of them.

The AP is exclusively publishing correspondence McCarrick wrote to three men ahead of the promised release of the Vatican's own report into who knew what and when about his efforts to bed would-be priests. Access to an archbishop for young men seeking to become priests "is a key piece of the grooming process here," said one of the experts, Monica Applewhite.

Pope Francis defrocked McCarrick, 89, in February after a church investigation determined he sexually abused minors as well as adult seminarians. The case has created a credibility crisis for the Catholic hierarchy , since McCarrick's misconduct was reported to some U.S. and Vatican higher-ups, but he nevertheless remained an influential cardinal until his downfall last year.

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Puerto Ricans get their 3rd governor in 6 days

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez became Puerto Rico's new governor Wednesday, just the second woman to hold the office, after weeks of political turmoil and hours after the island's Supreme Court declared Pedro Pierluisi's swearing-in a week ago unconstitutional.

Accompanied by her husband, Judge Jorge Díaz, and her daughter, Vázquez took the oath of office in the early evening at the Supreme Court before leaving without making any public comment.

"Puerto Rico needs assurance and stability," she said earlier in a statement. "Our actions will be aimed toward that end and it will always come first."

The high court's unanimous decision, which could not be appealed, settled the dispute over who will lead the U.S. territory after its political establishment was knocked off balance by big street protests spawned by anger over corruption, mismanagement of funds and a leaked obscenity-laced chat that forced the previous governor and several top aides to resign.

But it was also expected to unleash a new wave of demonstrations because many Puerto Ricans have said they don't want Vázquez as governor.

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Is pot safe when pregnant? Study seeks answer, draws critics

CHICAGO (AP) — Pregnancy started out rough for Leslie Siu. Morning sickness and migraines had her reeling and barely able to function at a demanding New York marketing job, so like rising numbers of U.S. mothers-to-be, she turned to marijuana.

"l was finally able to get out from under my work desk," said Siu, who later started her own pot company and says her daughter, now 4, is thriving.

There's no proof that cannabis can relieve morning sickness, and mainstream medicine advises against use in pregnancy because of studies suggesting it might cause premature birth, low birthweight and infant brain deficits. But the National Institute on Drug Abuse is pressing for more solid evidence. Many of those studies were in animals or complicated by marijuana users' other habits and lifestyles.

"I don't want us to cry wolf," said Dr. Nora Volkow, the agency's director. "We have to do these studies in a way that can identify risks."

With nearly $200,000 from her agency, University of Washington scientists in Seattle are seeking clearer answers in a new study investigating potential effects on infants' brains. The agency is supporting three similar studies in other states.

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Oprah Winfrey praises her late friend and idol Toni Morrison

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Oprah Winfrey praised her late friend and idol, Toni Morrison, hailing the best-selling author's "confidence and self-assuredness and nobility."

Winfrey and Morrison knew each other for more than 20 years, dating back to when Winfrey was so determined to learn the author's unlisted phone number that she called the local fire department. Winfrey said that when she started her book club in 1996, she was thinking of Morrison.

Winfrey recalled that when Morrison made her first appearance on "The Oprah Show," she talked about raising her boys as a single mother and left many in the audience moved.

Winfrey said Morrison recalled that her boys used to complain that she would fuss at them when they entered her room, asking them to button their shirts or comb their hair. "What I realize is that what every child really wants to know is do your eyes light up when I enter the room?" Morrison said then.

Winfrey said Morrison's lesson that day was larger than about children. It was about husbands, wives, lovers and anybody we care about.