Hurricane Dorian gains fury but could end up sparing Florida
MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Dorian powered toward Florida with increasing fury Friday — but also indications that it might just skirt the U.S. coastline and spare it from the devastating direct hit that forecasters have been fearing for days.
Forecasters warned that no one is out of danger and Dorian can still wallop the state with "extremely dangerous" 140 mph (225 kph) winds and torrential rains late Monday or early Tuesday, with millions of people in the crosshairs along with Walt Disney World and President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.
But some of the more reliable computer models predicted a turn northward that would have Dorian hug the coast, delivering a glancing blow, the National Hurricane Center said.
"We could still be talking about a notable loss but nothing remotely close to if we had a direct hit," said meteorologist Steve Bowen, global head of catastrophe insights for the reinsurance firm Aon.
The faint, encouraging signs came at the end of a day in which Dorian seemed to get scarier with each forecast update. It strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane in the afternoon, and there were fears it could prove to the most powerful hurricane to hit Florida's east coast in nearly 30 years.
TVs to shoes: This time consumers face pain of Trump tariffs
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's trade war with China, until now mainly an abstraction for American consumers, is about to hit home.
Beginning Sunday, the U.S. government will begin collecting 15% tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese imports — items ranging from smartwatches and TVs to shoes, diapers, sporting goods and meat and dairy products. For the first time since Trump launched his trade war, American households face price increases because many U.S. companies say they'll be forced to pass on to customers the higher prices they'll pay on Chinese imports.
For more than a year, the world's two largest economies have been locked in a high-stakes duel marked by Trump's escalating import taxes on Chinese goods and Beijing's retaliatory tariffs.
The two sides have held periodic talks that seem to have met little progress despite glimmers of potential breakthroughs. All the while, they've imposed tariffs on billions of each other's products in a rift over what analysts say is Beijing's predatory tactics in its drive to become the supreme high-tech superpower.
American consumers have so far been spared the worst of it: The Trump administration had left most everyday household items off its tariff list (valued at $250 billion in Chinese products so far) and instead targeted industrial goods.
Nancy who? GOP targets House Dem 'squad' in campaign attacks
WASHINGTON (AP) — Move over, Nancy Pelosi. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the "squad" of freshmen women of color are emerging as new stars of Republican attacks against Democrats running for Congress.
The tone is being set from the top as President Donald Trump bashes the four squad members with a strategy Republicans are quick to mimic, modeled on his own rise to the White House. Trump set a new standard in 2016 — making some Republicans uneasy — by taunting rivals and branding them with exaggerated nicknames intended to make them unelectable.
The GOP is embracing the tactic for 2020.
A first test will be a Sept. 10 special election in North Carolina, where Trump sparked the "send her back!" rally chant. The Trump-endorsed Republican, Dan Bishop, is portraying Marine veteran Dan McCready and other Democrats as "crazies," ''clowns" and "socialist."
"These crazy liberal clowns ... They're not funny," Bishop says in one ad that features images of McCready, Pelosi and squad members to a soundtrack of circus music. "They're downright scary."
Some states, towns skeptical over proposed opioid settlement
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An offer from OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family to settle some 2,000 lawsuits over their contribution to the national opioid crisis is receiving growing pushback from state and local officials who say the proposed deal doesn't include enough money or accountability.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong on Friday called for the company, which is headquartered in the state, to be forced out of the opioid business altogether.
"At a minimum, Connecticut demands that Purdue be broken up and shut down, and that its assets be liquidated," Tong said in a statement.
He said he wants the controlling Sackler family to pay billions of dollars "they siphoned out of Purdue," with the money going toward addiction research and treatment.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said she wants any settlement to include more money than the $10 billion to $12 billion offered by Purdue and the $3 billion offered from the Sacklers, an amount that represents just a portion of the family's fortune. Much of their money which appears to be overseas.
Appeals court reinstates lawsuit in SC church shooting case
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A lawsuit over a faulty background check that allowed Dylann Roof to buy the gun he used to kill nine people in a racist attack at a South Carolina church was reinstated Friday by a federal appeals court.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling from a lower court judge who threw out the claims., brought by relatives of people killed in the 2015 massacre at Charleston's AME Emanuel Church, and by survivors.
The lower court judge found that the government was immune from liability. The appeals court disagreed.
The FBI has acknowledged that Roof's drug possession arrest weeks before the shooting should have prevented him from buying a gun.
Roof has been sentenced to death for the slayings.
DNC chairman effectively kills plans for virtual caucuses
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democrats' plans for virtual presidential caucuses in Iowa and Nevada are effectively dead as the national party chairman said Friday the results would be vulnerable to hacking and abuse.
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, declared his opposition to plans for telephone voting submitted by the key early voting states of Iowa and Nevada, envisioned as part of the national party's efforts to increase participation in the 2020 nominating fight.
"We concur with the advice of the DNC's security experts that there is no tele-caucus system available that meets our standard of security and liability," Perez said in a statement joined by the co-chairs of the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee.
The Iowa and Nevada parties had planned to allow some voters to cast caucus votes over the telephone in February 2020 instead of showing up at traditional caucus meetings.
The powerful rules committee, which must approve all states' primary and caucus plans, still must meet in the coming weeks to make the final decision, but Friday's statement makes clear that will be a formality. The decision removes a potential cause of a flawed count on caucus night that could undermine the integrity of a process that has been criticized even in its traditional form.
Twitter CEO Dorsey's account sent racist tweets after hack
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's account has gotten hacked, and whoever broke in sent racist and vulgar tweets to his 4.2 million followers.
Some of the tweets were up for about 30 minutes before Twitter took them down.
The tweets included messages such as "Hitler is innocent" and, using a vulgarity, asked "bald skeleton head tramp," apparently referring to Dorsey, to unsuspend certain accounts.
Twitter says it's investigating. The company suspended accounts that the hacker or hackers retweeted while they had control of Dorsey's account. Twitter also suspended the account that appeared to be responsible for the hack. Based on some of the tweets sent from Dorsey's account, a group called Chuckle Squad was likely responsible.
The incident comes as Twitter and Dorsey have promised to improve the "health" and civility of discourse on the social media service, cracking down on hate speech and abuse. Long criticized for allowing bad behavior to run rampant, Twitter has been trying to rein in the worst offenders, banning accounts that violate its terms and making others less visible.
AI-powered cameras become new tool against mass shootings
Paul Hildreth peered at a display of dozens of images from security cameras surveying his Atlanta school district and settled on one showing a woman in a bright yellow shirt walking a hallway.
A mouse click instructed the artificial intelligence-equipped system to find other images of the woman, and it immediately stitched them into a video narrative of where she was currently, where she had been and where she was going.
There was no threat, but Hildreth's demonstration showed what's possible with AI-powered cameras. If a gunman were in one of his schools, the cameras could quickly identify the shooter's location and movements, allowing police to end the threat as soon as possible, said Hildreth, emergency operations coordinator for the Fulton County School District.
AI is transforming surveillance cameras from passive sentries into active observers that can identify people, suspicious behavior and guns, amassing large amounts of data that help them learn over time to recognize mannerisms, gait and dress. If the cameras have a previously captured image of someone who is banned from a building, the system can immediately alert officials if the person returns.
At a time when the threat of a mass shooting is ever-present, schools are among the most enthusiastic adopters of the technology, known as real-time video analytics or intelligent video, even as civil liberties groups warn about a threat to privacy. Police, retailers, stadiums and Fortune 500 companies are also using intelligent video.
Feds: Man plotted NYC knife attack in name of Islamic State
NEW YORK (AP) — A 19-year-old New York City man accused of plotting a knife attack on behalf of the Islamic State group told undercover agents he wanted to record the bloodshed on video in hopes of inspiring others to commit attacks, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Awais Chudhary was arrested Thursday as he tried to pick up a tactical knife, mask and cellphone rigging that he had ordered online as his plot escalated quickly from the planning states to the verge of being carried out, prosecutors said.
The arrest "almost certainly saved lives," Police Commissioner James O'Neill said.
Chudhary, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan and living in Queens, was arraigned Friday and order jailed without bail on federal charges of attempting to provide material support to the terrorist organization. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
A message seeking comment was left with a public defender appointed to represent Chudhary, who is due back in court Sept. 13.
Federer ends slow starts, rolls into fourth round at US Open
NEW YORK (AP) — Roger Federer didn't change much, outside of where his team was sitting.
He certainly wasn't going to overreact to a couple of poor starts after all these years and do anything different with his tennis.
Federer rolled into the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Dan Evans of Britain on Friday, looking more like the guy who has won five U.S. Open championships than the one who had dropped the opening set in his first two matches.
"At the end of the day, I think what matters the most for me is that I am in the third round, after all, after those two sort of slow starts," Federer said. "Give myself another opportunity to do better, and I did."
Much, much better.