drone certificationAP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

September 18, 2021by helo-10
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Police say they’re ready for rally supporting Jan. 6 rioters

WASHINGTON (AP) — The fence around the Capitol is back up. The D.C. police department is at the ready, and U.S. Capitol Police have requested assistance from nearby law enforcement agencies including the U.S. National Guard.

The Capitol police are taking no chances as they prepare for Saturday’s rally at the U.S. Capitol in support of rioters imprisoned after the violent Jan. 6 insurrection. They’re working to avoid a repeat of the pre-inauguration attack.

Persistent attempts to rewrite the narrative of the violence and panic of the day, and the increasing volatility behind the lie that the 2020 election was stolen have made it impossible to predict what may happen this weekend. After all, law enforcement was only expecting a free speech protest the day Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said at a news conference Friday it was difficult to say whether threats of violence for the Saturday event are credible, but “chatter” online and elsewhere has been similar to intelligence that was missed in January.

A permit for the protest allows 700 people. Manger said he believes the most likely possibility for for violence Saturday will involve clashes between the protesters and counter-protesters who are expected to show up. Police are also preparing for the possibility that some demonstrators may arrive with weapons.

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One stunning afternoon: Setbacks imperil Biden’s reset

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was an hour President Joe Biden would no doubt like to forget.

On Friday, the Pentagon acknowledged that a drone strike in Afghanistan killed 10 civilians, including seven children, not terrorists. A panel advising the Food and Drug Administration voted to not recommend COVID booster shots for all Americans over 16, dashing an administration hope. And France announced it was recalling its ambassador to the U.S. out of anger for being cut out of a secret nuclear submarine deal Biden had struck with the United Kingdom and Australia.

The punishing headlines, all within an hour, underscored the perils for any president from the uncontrollable events that can define a term in office.

They came as Biden has seen public approval numbers trend downward as the COVID-19 crisis has deepened and Americans cast blamed for the flawed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The administration had hoped to roll out tougher vaccine guidelines, a new international alliance to thwart China and a recommitment to what Biden has done best: drawing on his years on Capitol Hill and knowledge of the legislative process to cajole fellow Democrats to pass the two far-reaching spending bills that make up the heart of his agenda.

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Democrats tackling flash points of taxes, health, climate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Revamp the tax code and important federal health care and environment programs. Spend $3.5 trillion over 10 years, but maybe a lot less. Ensure that no more than three Democrats in all of Congress vote “no” because Republicans will be unanimously opposed.

Try to finish within the next couple of weeks. And oh yes: Failure means President Joe Biden’s own party will have repudiated him on the cornerstone of his domestic agenda.

That’s what congressional Democrats face as they try writing a final version of a massive bill bolstering the social safety net and strengthening efforts to tame climate change. Here’s a guide to pivotal differences they must resolve:

PRICE TAG

After weeks of negotiations, the White House and top Democrats compromised on a $3.5 trillion, 10-year cost for the bill. That’s a huge sum, though a fraction of the $61 trillion the government is already slated to spend over that period.

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Prosecutor: Jurors conclude Durst heir ‘killed them all’

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Robert Durst’s long, bizarre and deadly run from the law ended when a Los Angeles County jury convicted him in the murder of his best friend more than 20 years ago.

The 78-year-old New York real estate heir, who was long suspected but never charged in the disappearance of his wife in New York in 1982 and acquitted of murder in the 2001 killing of a neighbor in Texas, was found guilty Friday of the first-degree murder of Susan Berman.

“Bob Durst has been around a lot of years, and he’s been able to commit a lot of horrific crimes,” Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said outside the Inglewood Courthouse. “Considering what he’s done, he got a lot more of a life than he was entitled to.”

Durst, who is sick and frail and sat throughout the trial in a wheelchair, was not present when the verdict was read. He was in isolation at a jail because he was exposed to someone with coronavirus, an odd twist on the jury’s final day.

The global pandemic significantly altered the course of the trial, suspending it in March 2020 after only two days of testimony. After a 14-month break, possibly the longest in the U.S. legal system, the case resumed in May for four more months of testimony.

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Aluminum wrap used to protect homes in California wildfires

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Martin Diky said he panicked as a huge wildfire started racing down a slope toward his wooden house near Lake Tahoe.

The contractor had enough time to do some quick research and decided to wrap his mountain home with an aluminum protective covering. The material that can withstand intensive heat for short periods resembles tin foil from the kitchen drawer but is modeled after the tent-like shelters that wildland firefighters use as a last resort to protect themselves when trapped by flames.

Diky, who lives most of the time in the San Francisco Bay Area, bought $6,000 worth of wrapping from Firezat Inc. in San Diego, enough to cover his 1,400-square-foot (130-square-meter) second home on the edge of the small California community of Meyers.

“It’s pretty expensive, and you’d feel stupid if they stopped the fire before it got close,” he said. “But I’m really glad we did it. It was pretty nerve-wracking when the flames came down the slope.”

The flexible aluminum sheets that Diky affixed to his $700,000 home are not widely used because they are pricey and difficult to install, though they have saved some properties, including historic cabins managed by the U.S. government.

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France says Australia-US submarine deal ‘huge mistake’

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — France’s ambassador to Australia has described as a “huge mistake” Australia’s surprise cancellation of a major submarine contract in favor of a U.S. deal, as the diplomat prepared to leave the country in an unprecedented show of anger among the allies.

French envoy Jean-Pierre Thebault delivered his comments Saturday as he left his residence in the capital of Canberra.

“This has been a huge mistake, a very, very bad handling of the partnership,” Thebault said, explaining that the arms agreement between Paris and Canberra was supposed to be based “on trust, mutual understanding and sincerity.”

Paris recalled its ambassadors to Australia and the United States on Friday to protest a deal among the United States, Australia and Britain to supply Australia with a fleet of at least eight nuclear-power submarines.

The deal scraps a 90 billion Australian dollar ($66 billion) contract with French majority state-owned Naval Group, signed in 2016, to build 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.

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The Latest: India gives 25M vaccine doses on Modi’s birthday

NEW DELHI — India gave out 25 million doses during a special COVID-19 vaccination drive organized on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday.

The campaign took place Friday as Modi turned 71. The Health Ministry said Saturday the special drive had raised India’s overall vaccinations to more than 790 million.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya called the feat “ a golden chapter … written in the history of the country and the world.”

Only China has administered more. The Chinese government said this week it had given more than 2.16 billion shots and that 1 billion Chinese people were fully vaccinated.

India, a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, has given at least one dose to more than 62% of eligible adults and two doses to about 21%. Health ministry officials say they plan to administer over a billion shots by mid-October.

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Pentagon reverses itself, calls deadly Kabul strike an error

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has retreated from its defense of a drone strike that killed multiple civilians in Afghanistan last month, announcing that a review revealed that only civilians were killed in the attack, not an Islamic State extremist as first believed.

“The strike was a tragic mistake,” Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, told a Pentagon news conference Friday.

McKenzie apologized for the error and said the United States is considering making reparation payments to the family of the victims. He said the decision to strike a white Toyota Corolla sedan, after having tracked it for about eight hours, was made in an “earnest belief” — based on a standard of “reasonable certainty” — that it posed an imminent threat to American forces at Kabul airport. The car was believed to have been carrying explosives in its trunk, he said.

For days after the Aug. 29 strike, Pentagon officials asserted that it had been conducted correctly, despite 10 civilians being killed, including seven children. News organizations later raised doubts about that version of events, reporting that the driver of the targeted vehicle was a longtime employee at an American humanitarian organization and citing an absence of evidence to support the Pentagon’s assertion that the vehicle contained explosives.

The airstrike was the last of a U.S. war that ended as it had begun in 2001 — with the Taliban in power in Kabul. The speed with which the Taliban overran the country took the U.S. government by surprise and forced it to send several thousand troops to the Kabul airport for a hurried evacuation of Americans, Afghans and others. The evacuation, which began Aug. 14, unfolded under a near-constant threat of attack by the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate.

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Photos show North Korea expanding uranium enrichment plant

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Recent satellite images show North Korea is expanding a uranium enrichment plant at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex, a sign that it’s intent on boosting the production of bomb materials, experts say.

The assessment comes after North Korea recently raised tensions with its first missile tests in six months amid long-dormant nuclear disarmament negotiations with the United States.

“The expansion of the enrichment plant probably indicates that North Korea plans to increase its production of weapons-grade uranium at the Yongbyon site by as much as 25%,” Jeffrey Lewis and two other experts at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey said in a report.

The report said the photos taken by satellite imagery company Maxar showed construction in an area adjoining the uranium enrichment plant at Yongbyon.

It said a satellite image taken on Sept. 1 showed North Korea cleared trees and prepared the ground for construction, and that a construction excavator was also visible. The report said a second image taken on Sept. 14 showed a wall erected to enclose the area, work on a foundation and panels removed from the side of the enrichment building to provide access to the newly enclosed area.

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Official: US to expel Haitians from border, fly to Haiti

DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — The Biden administration plans the widescale expulsion of Haitian migrants from a small Texas border city by putting them on flights to Haiti starting Sunday, an official said Friday, representing a swift and dramatic response to thousands who suddenly crossed the border from Mexico and gathered under and around a bridge.

Details are yet to be finalized but will likely involve five to eight flights a day, according to the official with direct knowledge of the plans who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. San Antonio, the nearest major city, may be among the departure cities.

Another administration official speaking on condition of anonymity expected two flights a day at most and said all migrants would be tested for COVID-19.

U.S. authorities closed traffic to vehicles and pedestrians in both directions at the only border crossing in Del Rio, Texas, after chaos unfolded Friday and presented the administration with a new and immediate challenge as it tries to manage large numbers of asylum-seekers who have been reaching U.S. soil.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it was closing the border crossing with Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, “to respond to urgent safety and security needs.” Travelers were being directed to Eagle Pass, Texas, 57 miles (91 kilometers) away.



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