AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT


Clinton wins historic nomination, says glass ceiling cracked

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — On a night awash in history, Hillary Clinton triumphantly became the first woman to lead a major American political party toward the White House, breaking through a barrier that painfully eluded her eight years ago.

She put an electrifying cap on the Democratic convention’s second night, appearing by video from New York and declaring to cheering delegates, “We just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet.”

Minutes earlier, former President Bill Clinton took on the role of devoted political spouse, declaring his wife an impassioned “change-maker” as he served as character witness. He traced their more than 40-year political and personal partnership in deep detail.

“She has been around a long time,” he acknowledged. Casting her experience as an attribute, he added, “She’s been worth every single year she’s put into making people’s lives better.”

For a man more accustomed to delivering policy-packed stem-winders, Clinton’s heartfelt address underscored the historic night for Democrats, and the nation. If she wins in November, the Clintons would also be the first married couple to each serve as president.

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Sanders loyalists bash Clinton nomination, clash with police

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bernie Sanders loyalists protested inside and outside the Democratic National Convention site and clashed with police on Tuesday after Hillary Clinton won the party’s presidential nomination.

Despite Sanders’ calls for them to support Clinton, thousands of activists have taken to the streets during the convention this week to voice support for the liberal Vermont U.S. senator and his progressive agenda.

Moments after Clinton became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major U.S. political party, a large group of Sanders delegates and supporters exited the Philadelphia convention site to hold a sit-in inside a media tent. Some had their mouths taped shut. A few spontaneously sang the chorus of the folk song “This Land is Your Land,” and a banner read “we the people.” They said they were holding a peaceful protest to complain about being shut out by the Democratic Party.

“This was not a convention. This was a four-day Hillary party. And we weren’t welcome,” said Liz Maratea, a New Jersey delegate at the media tent protest. “We were treated like lepers.”

In the streets outside, Sanders supporters who had spent the day protesting began facing off with police. Protesters began scaling 8-foot walls blocking off the secure zone around the arena parking lot, and several were detained. An officer sprayed one of the protesters.

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Clinton, Dems put gun control at center of convention stage

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — With mothers of police violence victims on the stage and anti-gun protesters in the streets, Hillary Clinton and Democrats are giving gun control and efforts to curb police violence a starring role at their summer convention.

A group of women who have lost children to gun violence or after contact with police took the stage to applause and chants of “black lives matter” on Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention. Known as the Mothers of the Movement, the group includes Sybrina Fulton, whose 17-year-old son Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012.

“Hillary Clinton has the compassion and understanding to support grieving mothers,” Fulton said. “She has the courage to lead the fight for common sense gun legislation.”

Also taking the stage Tuesday were former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Pittsburgh Chief of Police Cameron McLay, who said it is possible “to respect and support our police while at the same time pushing for these important criminal justice reforms.”

Clinton has made gun safety one of the foundations of her presidential campaign, vowing to overcome the legendary resistance of gun-rights advocates and their GOP allies to push for expanded criminal background checks and a renewal of a ban on assault weapons.

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Japan police send suspect in stabbing spree to prosecutors

SAGAMIHARA, Japan (AP) — The suspect in a mass stabbing attack that left 19 people dead at a facility for the mentally disabled in Japan was being transferred Wednesday from a local police station to the prosecutor’s office in Yokohama.

His head and shoulders covered with a blue jacket, 26-year-old Satoshi Uematsu was led out of a police station in Sagamihara city and into the back of an unmarked white van with emergency lights on top. Photographers and video journalists swarmed the van as it pulled away.

Uematsu had been held at the police station all day and overnight after turning himself in about two hours after Tuesday’s pre-dawn attack. He had earlier delivered a letter to Parliament outlining the bloody plan and saying all disabled people should be put to death.

Kanagawa prefectural authorities said Uematsu had left dead or injured nearly a third of the almost 150 patients at the facility in a matter of 40 minutes. It is Japan’s deadliest mass killing in decades. The fire department said 25 were wounded, 20 of them seriously.

Security camera footage played on TV news programs showed a man driving up in a black car and carrying several knives to the Tsukui Yamayuri-en facility in Sagamihara, 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Tokyo. The man broke in by shattering a window at 2:10 a.m., according to a prefectural health official, and then set about slashing the patients’ throats.

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IS group claims attack that killed 85-year-old French priest

SAINT-ETIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France (AP) — The Islamic State group crossed a new threshold Tuesday in its war against the West, as two of its followers targeted a church in Normandy, slitting the throat of an elderly priest celebrating Mass and using hostages as human shields before being shot by police.

It was the extremist group’s first attack against a church in the West, and fulfills longstanding threats against “crusaders” in what the militants paint as a centuries-old battle for power. One of the attackers had tried twice to leave for Syria; the second was not identified.

“To attack a church, to kill a priest, is to profane the republic,” French President Francois Hollande told the nation after speaking with Pope Francis, who condemned the killing in the strongest terms.

The Rev. Jacques Hamel was celebrating Mass for three nuns and two parishioners on a quiet summer morning in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray when the attackers burst in and forced the 85-year-old priest to his knees before slicing his throat, according to authorities and a nun who escaped.

The nun described seeing the attackers film themselves and give a sermon in Arabic around the altar before she fled. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the other hostages were used as human shields to block police from entering. One 86-year-old parishioner was wounded.

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California wildfire forces shutdown of famed Big Sur parks

BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — California’s signature parks along the Big Sur coastline that draw thousands of daily visitors were closed Tuesday as one of the state’s two major wildfires threatened the scenic region at the height of the summer tourism season.

To the south, firefighters made progress containing a huge blaze in mountains outside Los Angeles, allowing authorities to let most of 20,000 people evacuated over the weekend to return home. In Wyoming, a large backcountry wildfire in the Shoshone National Forest put about 290 homes and guest ranches at risk.

The Big Sur fire threatened a long stretch of pristine, forested mountains hugging the coast and sent smoke billowing over the famed Pacific Coast Highway, which remained open with few if any flames visible to motorists but a risk that the blaze could reach beloved campgrounds, lodges and redwoods near the shore.

“It is folly to predict where this fire will go,” said California state parks spokesman Dennis Weber.

The Los Angeles-area fire has destroyed 18 homes since it started and authorities over the weekend discovered a burned body in a car identified Tuesday as a man who refused to be evacuated.

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AP PHOTOS: Mexican farmers using fireflies to save forest

NANACAMILPA, Mexico (AP) — In the village of Nanacamilpa, tiny fireflies are helping save the towering pine and fir trees on the outskirts of the megalopolis of Mexico City.

Thousands of them light up a magical spectacle at dusk in the old-growth forests on reserves like the Piedra Canteada park, about 45 miles (75 kilometers) east of Mexico’s sprawling capital city.

Piedra Canteada in Tlaxcala state isn’t a government-run park, but a rural cooperative that has managed to emerge from poverty and dependence on logging with the help of the fireflies.

For years, economic forces, including low prices for farm produce, forced rural communities like Piedra Canteada to cut down trees and sell the logs. Then, in 1990, community leader Genaro Rueda Lopez got the idea that the forest could bring tourism revenue from campers.

Business was slow for years. Then in 2011, community members realized the millions of fireflies that appear between June and August could draw tourists from larger cities where few people have seen them in significant numbers. Indeed, around the world, deforestation and urban growth are threatening the over 2,000 species of fireflies with extinction.

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Tesla opens Gigafactory to expand battery production, sales

SPARKS, Nev. (AP) — It’s Tesla Motors’ biggest bet yet: a massive, $5 billion factory in the Nevada desert that could nearly double the world’s production of lithium-ion batteries.

Tesla officially opened its Gigafactory on Tuesday, a little more than two years after construction began. The factory is about 14 percent complete, but when it’s finished, it will be about 10 million square feet, or about the size of 262 NFL football fields. That will make it one of the largest buildings in the world.

The factory is key to the future of Palo Alto, California-based Tesla. The 13-year-old electric car company, which has never made a full-year profit, wants to transition from a niche maker of luxury vehicles to a full-line maker of affordable cars, pickups and even semi-trucks. It also runs Tesla Powerwall, a solar energy storage business for homes and businesses.

The company says making its own lithium-ion batteries at the scale the Gigafactory will allow will reduce its battery costs by more than a third by 2018. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the factory could easily employ 10,000 people in the next three to four years.

Most immediately, Tesla needs the batteries for its fourth car, the Model 3 sedan, which is scheduled to go on sale at the end of next year. At a starting price of around $35,000, the Model 3 will be Tesla’s least expensive vehicle, partly because of battery cost reductions. The batteries for Tesla’s current vehicles, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, are made in Japan.

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Coast Guard: 46 abandon ship in Alaska waters, await rescue

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Two Good Samaritan ships were helping rescue 46 crew members who abandoned a sinking fishing vessel in Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain, Coast Guard officials said Tuesday.

There were no reported injuries to the crew members, who had donned survival suits and then huddled in three large life rafts awaiting rescue after the 220-foot Alaska Juris started taking on water late Tuesday morning.

The plan was to have the 46 people transfer to the Good Samaritan ships, the Spar Canis and the Vienna Express, Petty Officer Lauren Steenson said.

The crew would be transported to a port, but she said it wasn’t immediately known where they would be taken.

The Coast Guard also diverted the cutter Midgett and dispatched two C-130 transport planes and two helicopters from Kodiak to the site of the sinking ship, located near Kiska Island, which is about 690 miles west of Dutch Harbor, one of the nation’s busiest fishing ports.

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Black-footed ferrets return to where they held out in wild

MEETEETSE, Wyo. (AP) — A nocturnal species of weasel with a robber-mask-like marking across its eyes has returned to the remote ranchlands of western Wyoming where the critter almost went extinct more than 30 years ago.

Wildlife officials on Tuesday released 35 black-footed ferrets on two ranches near Meeteetse, a tiny cattle ranching community 50 miles east of Yellowstone National Park. Black-footed ferrets, generally solitary animals, were let loose individually over a wide area.

Groups of ferret releasers fanned out over prairie dog colonies covering several thousand acres of the Lazy BV and Pitchfork ranches. Black-footed ferrets co-exist with prairie dogs, living in their burrows and preying on them.

In the weeks leading up to the release, biologists made extra sure the ferrets will have plenty of prairie dogs to eat by treating the local prairie dog population with insecticide and plague vaccine. Plague, which is spread by fleas, can kill off prairie dogs by the thousand.

Scientists recently found plague had killed some prairie dogs in the area but not nearly enough to interfere with the release. In fact, the pattern of prairie dogs killed by the disease suggests the plague vaccine works, said Zack Walker, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologist.

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