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AP Top News at 11:27 p.m. EDT

August 8, 2020 GMT

Last-ditch virus aid talks collapse; no help for jobless now

WASHINGTON (AP) — A last-ditch effort by Democrats to revive Capitol Hill talks on vital COVID-19 rescue money collapsed in disappointment Friday, making it increasingly likely that Washington gridlock will mean more hardship for millions of people who are losing enhanced jobless benefits and further damage for an economy pummeled by the still-raging coronavirus. President Donald Trump said Friday night he was likely to issue more limited executive orders related to COVID, perhaps in the next day or so, if he can’t reach a broad agreement with Congress. The day’s negotiations at the Capitol added up to only “a disappointing meeting,” declared top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, saying the White House had rejected an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to curb Democratic demands by about $1 trillion.

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US intel: Russia acting against Biden; China opposes Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence officials believe that Russia is using a variety of measures to denigrate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ahead of the November election and that individuals linked to the Kremlin are boosting President Donald Trump’s reelection bid, the country’s counterintelligence chief said in the most specific warning to date about the threat of foreign interference. U.S. officials also believe China does not want Trump to win a second term and has accelerated its criticism of the White House, expanding its efforts to shape public policy in America and to pressure political figures seen as opposed to Beijing’s interests.

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US hiring slows amid signs of longer-lasting economic damage

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. hiring slowed in July as the coronavirus outbreak worsened, and the government’s jobs report offered signs Friday that the economic damage from the pandemic could last far longer than many observers originally envisioned. The United States added 1.8 million jobs in July, a pullback from the previous two months. At any other time, hiring at that level would be seen as a blowout gain. But after employers shed a staggering 22 million jobs in March and April, much larger increases are needed to heal the job market. The hiring of the past three months has recovered 42% of the jobs lost to the pandemic-induced recession, according to the Labor Department’s report.

Q&A: What’s up with Trump’s orders on TikTok and WeChat?

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump has ordered sweeping but vague ban on dealings with the Chinese owners of popular apps TikTok and WeChat, saying they are a threat to U.S. national security, foreign policy and the economy. But it’s far from clear what the administration intends to actually do when the bans take effect in 45 days, since the orders are currently blank checks waiting to be filled in. Uncertainty also surrounds what effect the orders will have on the apps’ users, whether the administration will face legal challenges over its authority to ban consumer apps, and what the companies — or China — will do next.

Officials long warned of explosive chemicals at Beirut port

BEIRUT (AP) — At least 10 times over the past six years, authorities from Lebanon’s customs, military, security agencies and judiciary raised alarm that a massive stockpile of explosive chemicals was being kept with almost no safeguard at the port in the heart of Beirut, newly surfaced documents show. Yet in a circle of negligence, nothing was done — and on Tuesday, the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate blew up, obliterating the city’s main commercial hub and spreading death and wreckage for miles around. President Michel Aoun, in office since 2016, said Friday that he was first told of the dangerous stockpile nearly three weeks ago and immediately ordered military and security agencies to do “what was needed.” But he suggested his responsibility ended there, saying he had no authority over the port and that previous governments had been told of its presence.

Mauritius declares emergency as stranded ship spills fuel

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius declared a “state of environmental emergency” late Friday after a Japanese-owned ship that ran aground offshore days ago began spilling tons of fuel. Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced the development as satellite images showed a dark slick spreading in the turquoise waters near environmental areas that the government called “very sensitive.” Mauritius has said the ship was carrying nearly 4,000 tons of fuel and cracks have appeared in its hull. Jugnauth earlier in the day said his government was appealing to France for help, saying the spill “represents a danger” for the country of some 1.3 million people that relies heavily on tourism and has been been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

AP sources: Whitmer met with Biden as he nears VP decision

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer traveled to Delaware last weekend to meet with Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s first known in-person session with a potential running mate as he nears a decision. Whitmer visited Biden Sunday, according to two high-ranking Michigan Democrats who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The first-term governor of the battleground state has long been on his short list of possible running mates. Flight records show a chartered plane left Lansing’s Capital Region International Airport for Delaware Coastal Airport at 5:33 p.m. and returned at 11:16 p.m.

Liberty U’s Falwell takes leave after social media uproar

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Jerry Falwell Jr. took an indefinite leave of absence Friday as the leader of Liberty University, one of the nation’s top evangelical Christian colleges, days after apologizing for a social media post that caused an uproar even among fellow conservatives. The private university in Lynchburg, Virginia, gave no reason for Falwell’s departure in a one-sentence announcement Friday afternoon. But it came after Falwell’s apology earlier this week for a since-deleted photo he posted online showing him with his pants unzipped, stomach exposed and his arm around a young woman in a similar pose. The statement said the executive committee of Liberty’s board of trustees, acting on behalf of the full board, met Friday and requested Falwell take leave as president and chancellor, “to which he has agreed, effective immediately.” A high-profile supporter of President Donald Trump, Falwell has served since 2007 as president of the university founded by his evangelist father, the late Rev.

US reports show racial disparities in kids with COVID-19

NEW YORK (AP) — Racial disparities in the U.S. coronavirus epidemic extend to children, according to two sobering government reports released Friday. One of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports looked at children with COVID-19 who needed hospitalization. Hispanic children were hospitalized at a rate eight times higher than white kids, and Black children were hospitalized at a rate five times higher, it found. The second report examined cases of a rare virus-associated syndrome in kids. It found that nearly three-quarters of the children with the syndrome were either Hispanic or Black, well above their representation in the general population.

Endangered Brazilian monkeys get a bridge to themselves

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The overpass juts from a forest over a four-lane highway in a rural area outside Rio de Janeiro. It’s meant for a very special sort of pedestrian: golden lion tamarins, small orange primates that for decades have been at risk of extinction. The little primate, whose name derives from the shock of orange fur that frames its face like a mane, has watched its habitat shrink over decades — even centuries -- of rampant deforestation. Animal traffickers have also targeted the brightly colored monkeys. Bowing to pressure from an environmental association — and following a court order — the highway’s administrator in late July finished construction of the overpass that’s aimed at helping conserve the species.