Trump's Year 3 aims for dramatic sequels to rival originals
WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Donald Trump prepares to meet North Korea's Kim Jong Un for a second time, he's out to replicate the suspenseful buildup, make-or-break stakes and far-flung rendezvous of their first encounter. The reality star American president will soon learn if the sequel, on this matter and many others, can compete with the original.
In his third year in office, Trump is starting to air some reruns.
Trump is headed into fresh negotiations with North Korea, is still pushing for his long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall and is considering a new round of tax cuts. The focus on his greatest hits in part reflects Trump's desire to fulfill campaign promises and energize voters for his 2020 re-election campaign. But it's not without risks.
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"The danger is the public starts recognizing this is Groundhog Day," said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. "You keep thinking there is a win and there is no win. It's not clear Trump is scoring durable history points."
With his reality TV background and instinctive sense of how to control a news cycle, Trump has long micromanaged the staging of his image, eager to project power and drama.
Virginia lieutenant governor wants accusations investigated
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia's embattled lieutenant governor on Saturday called for authorities, including the FBI, to investigate sexual assault allegations made against him while defying widespread calls for his resignation with a plea for "space in this moment for due process."
Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax issued a statement repeating his strong denials that he had ever sexually assaulted anyone and made clear he does not intend to immediately resign, despite having lost almost his entire base of support.
Meanwhile, Gov. Ralph Northam pledged to work at healing the state's racial divide and made his first official appearance a week after a racist photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page surfaced and he acknowledged wearing blackface in the 1980s. Northam has also defied calls from practically his entire party to step down.
Saturday capped an astonishing week in Virginia politics that saw all three of the state's top elected officials embroiled in potentially career-ending scandals, and the state Democratic Party on the verge of collapse.
Two women have accused Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault. After the second allegation was made Friday, Fairfax — the second African-American to ever win statewide office— was barraged with demands to step down from top Democrats, including a number of presidential hopefuls and most of Virginia's congressional delegation.
Black Virginia voters feel betrayed, left in no-win scenario
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Eva Siakam's choice to campaign for Ralph Northam in 2017 was a simple one: He was a Democrat and endorsed by Barack Obama, America's first black president.
But sitting in a stylist's chair at Supreme Hair Styling Boutique in Richmond on Friday, she shook her head in disgust when asked about revelations that Northam wore blackface 35 years ago.
"I really believed in him," said Siakam, a 28-year-old student. "To find out that he dressed up in blackface is disappointing. He's shown his disdain for black people."
Black voters who factored prominently in the 2017 election that helped Northam become Virginia governor are feeling betrayed over the scandals that have engulfed the state over the past week, leaving them with a less-than-ideal set of choices at the top of the Democratic Party: a governor and attorney general who wore blackface and a lieutenant governor who stands accused by two women of sexual assault. The next person in line for governor is a conservative Republican.
Many are struggling to come to grips with a list of nagging questions: Do they forgive the Democrats, keep Republicans out of power and demand the governor get serious about racism? Should Northam step down and hand the office to African-American Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who faces sexual assault allegations? Or should all three of them walk away and let principle prevail, even if the other party takes charge?
Warren makes presidential bid official with call for change
LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren made her bid for the presidency official on Saturday in this working-class city, grounding her 2020 campaign in a populist call to fight economic inequality and build "an America that works for everyone."
Warren delivered a sharp call for change at her presidential kickoff, decrying a "middle-class squeeze" that has left Americans crunched with "too little accountability for the rich, too little opportunity for everyone else." She and her backers hope that message can distinguish her in a crowded Democratic field and help her move past the controversy surrounding her past claims to Native American heritage.
Weaving specific policy prescriptions into her remarks, from Medicare for All to the elimination of Washington "lobbying as we know it," Warren avoided taking direct jabs at President Donald Trump. She aimed for a broader institutional shift instead, urging supporters to choose "a government that makes different choices, choices that reflect our values."
Trump "is not the cause of what's broken," Warren told an elated crowd without using the president's name. "He's just the latest - and most extreme - symptom of what's gone wrong in America."
In a tweet, Trump referenced the controversy over her Native American identity, once again using the insulting nickname he's given her.
Snowstorm buries Pacific Northwest, with more on the way
SEATTLE (AP) — Residents of the Pacific Northwest took to neighborhood hills with skis, sleds or even just laundry baskets Saturday to celebrate an unusual dump of snow in a region more accustomed to winter rain.
Some areas received more than a foot of snow, and meteorologists say more is on the way early next week. Hundreds of flights were canceled in Seattle and Portland, and heavy snow drifts closed major highways in eastern Washington. Around 50,000 people lost power.
Residents cleared out grocery store shelves and left work early Friday afternoon as the storm arrived. More than a foot of snow (30.5 cm) was recorded by Saturday morning in some areas, including on the Olympic Peninsula, in the nation's latest bout of winter weather.
In Tacoma, hundreds of people turned out for a snowball fight in a park after someone who lives nearby suggested it on Facebook. They took cover behind picnic tables and used sleds as shields.
"This is a perfect morning to bundle up and play in the snow, but stay off the roads if possible," Gov. Jay Inslee wrote on Twitter.
Pelosi shows pragmatic streak in pursuit of border deal
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans have vilified Nancy Pelosi for years as a San Francisco liberal and now they're trying to portray her as a captive of resurgent left-wingers in her Democratic Party.
But in her early moves so far as House speaker, Pelosi is displaying her pragmatic streak. She's set to endorse a split-the-differences deal on government funding that appears on track to give President Donald Trump at least some barriers on the border, after she had said Trump's border wall idea was "immoral" and promised he wouldn't get a penny for it.
And as the Democratic Party's progressive wing pursues dreams such as "Medicare for all" and a "Green New Deal," Pelosi is keeping her distance.
"We are results-oriented, values-based, and for the boldest common denominator," Pelosi said in a brief interview on Friday. "Everybody has a path to make their case, to see what the options are. I'm wedded to the Affordable Care Act because I think it's a path to health care for all Americans."
Pelosi presides over a 235-member Democratic caucus that surged into power in last November's midterm election, fueled by voters' anger against Trump. The new majority includes young, high-profile and defiantly liberal lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who's a darling among Democratic activists and a social media phenomenon.
Ted Bundy's murderous charm still polarizes, 40 years later
CINCINNATI (AP) — She kept her eyes on the dapper, wavy-haired man who smiled, winked and exuded self-confidence as the courtroom proceedings moved along.
"I don't know what it is he has, but he's fascinating," the teenage spectator explained to me at the time. "He's impressive. He just has a kind of magnetism."
It was that beguiling magnetism that investigators said helped make the object of her interest — Ted Bundy — one of the nation's most prolific serial killers, with at least 30 women and girls' deaths linked to him across multiple states in the late 1970s.
I reported the teenager's comments for The Associated Press' coverage of Bundy's 1979 murder trial in Miami, the first of two murder trials he would have in Florida. She was just one example of a regular courtroom backdrop of spellbound female spectators who were "attractive, young and single," as I wrote at the time, just like the women Bundy was on trial for bludgeoning and sexually assaulting.
"I haven't lost any sleep about the verdict," a relaxed, self-assured Bundy told me in a jail-cell interview a few days after the jury swiftly convicted him of murdering two Florida State University sorority sisters and assaulting three other young women in Tallahassee.
Gun-seizure laws grow in popularity since Parkland shooting
In the year since the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school, more and more states have passed laws making it easier to take guns away from people who may be suicidal or bent on violence against others, and courts are issuing an unprecedented number of seizure orders across the country.
Supporters say these "red flag" laws are among the most promising tools to reduce the nearly 40,000 suicides and homicides by firearm each year in the U.S. Gun advocates, though, say such measures undermine their constitutional rights and can result in people being stripped of their weapons on false or vindictive accusations.
Nine states have passed laws over the past year allowing police or household members to seek court orders requiring people deemed threatening to temporarily surrender their guns, bringing the total to 14. Several more are likely to follow in the months ahead.
More than 1,700 orders allowing guns to be seized for weeks, months or up to a year were issued in 2018 by the courts after they determined the individuals were a threat to themselves or others, according to data from several states obtained by The Associated Press. The actual number is probably much higher since the data was incomplete and didn't include California.
The laws gained momentum after it was learned that the young man accused in the Florida attack, Nikolas Cruz, was widely known to be mentally troubled yet had access to weapons, including the assault-style rifle used to kill 17 students and staff members last Valentine's Day at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Questions, criticism of Brazil soccer club where 10 killed
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Under mounting criticism Saturday, Brazilian soccer club Flamengo defended its management of the training ground where a fire killed 10 of its academy players — all between 14 and 16 years old — at a dormitory that had been registered with the city as a parking lot.
Rio de Janeiro's city hall said in a statement that Flamengo was fined 31 times because of infractions at the Ninho do Urubu training ground, which had to be temporarily closed in October 2017. The club did not pay 21 of those fines.
City hall also said the sleeping quarters where Flamengo's players died was irregularly licensed as a parking lot.
"The lodging area hit by the fire is not included in the last project approved by our licensing," it said. "There are no registers of new licensing requests for that area as a sleeping quarter."
Three teenagers injured in the fire were still in the hospital, including one in serious condition.
Win it for Vivi! Whiskey the whippet revs up for Westminster
NEW YORK (AP) — Sleek and aerodynamic, Whiskey the whippet is dashing through the dog show world.
He's among the fastest breed of pooches on the planet, and his rise has been rapid: Coming off big wins televised on Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Day, he'll now try for dogdom's Triple Crown starting Monday at the Westminster Kennel Club.
"He does his best at these high-profile rings," owner-breeder-handler Justin Smithey said. "He knows how to turn it off, lay down and wait till it's his turn. And then he just goes."
So let's make this fawn-and-white whippet the favorite to get picked Tuesday night and succeed Flynn the bichon frise as America's top dog.
There are more than 2,800 entries, including popular Biggie the pug, a Lhasa apso from Hawaii who surfs with his owner and the nation's No. 1-ranked qualifier last year, Grant the black cocker spaniel.