AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Trump agrees to FBI probe of Kavanaugh, bows to Flake, Dems

WASHINGTON (AP) — Reversing course, President Donald Trump bowed to Democrats’ demands Friday for a deeper FBI investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after Republican Sen. Jeff Flake balked at voting for confirmation without it — a sudden turn that left Senate approval newly uncertain amid allegations of sexual assault.

Kavanaugh’s nomination had appeared back on track earlier Friday when he cleared a key hurdle at the Senate Judiciary Committee. But that advance came with an asterisk. Flake indicated he would take the next steps — leading to full Senate approval — only after the further background probe, and there were suggestions that other moderate Republicans might join his revolt.

The abrupt developments gave senators, the White House and millions of Americans following the drama at home hardly a chance to catch their breath after Thursday’s emotional Senate hearing featuring Kavanaugh angrily defending himself and accuser Christine Blasey Ford determinedly insisting he assaulted her when they were teens.

Emotions were still running high Friday, and protesters confronted senators in the halls.

“The country is being ripped apart here,” said Flake.


After Kavanaugh-Ford hearing, does MeToo face a backlash?

NEW YORK (AP) — Some skeptics of #MeToo activism are hoping Brett Kavanaugh’s angry, tearful denial of sexual assault allegations might help fuel a backlash against the year-old movement. But advocates for victimized women say it’s now too powerful to be derailed.

The mixed reactions followed Thursday’s vehement assertion by Kavanaugh and his Republican allies that he was the victim of a “political hit job” by Democrats. They suggested that Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, was being exploited for partisan purposes.

In a Philadelphia Inquirer column on Friday titled “Kavanaugh creates #MeToo moment for accused men,” conservative writer Christine Flowers expressed empathy for the embattled federal judge, who is President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.

“Through those real tears, the rage came through like a laser and a sword,” Flowers wrote. “And for a moment, I felt as if, finally, one man had found the courage to say my life matters.”

As for Ford, Flowers wrote: “I think she allowed herself to be used as a valuable tool in the unleashed fury of the #MeToo movement.”


Facebook says 50M user accounts affected by security breach

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook reported a major security breach in which 50 million user accounts were accessed by unknown attackers.

The attackers gained the ability to “seize control” of those accounts, Facebook said, by stealing digital keys the company uses to keep people logged in. Facebook has logged out owners of the 50 million affected accounts — plus another 40 million who were vulnerable to the attack. Users don’t need to change their Facebook passwords, it said.

Facebook said it doesn’t know who was behind the attacks or where they’re based. In a call with reporters on Friday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that attackers would have had the ability to view private messages or post on someone’s account, but there’s no sign that they did.

“We do not yet know if any of the accounts were actually misused,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook shares fell $4.38, or 2.6 percent, to close at $164.46 on Friday.


At UN, Russia says meddling claims baseless, slams the US

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister trashed accusations of Russian meddling abroad as “baseless” and used the podium at the U.N.’s biggest event to tear into U.S. policies in Iran, Syria and Venezuela. He later declared that U.S.-Russian relations “are bad and probably at their all-time low.”

In a rapid-fire, unforgiving speech Friday, Sergey Lavrov pounded away at “self-serving” unilateral moves by U.S. President Donald Trump and assailed crippling Western sanctions against Russia as “political blackmail.”

Lavrov deflected accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a nerve agent attack in Britain and other meddling abroad — despite mounting evidence of a broad, coordinated influence campaign.

He criticized “baseless accusations of interference in the internal affairs of certain countries” and turned it around against the West, accusing unnamed forces of “overt endeavors to undermine democratically elected governments,” in an apparent reference to U.S. and EU support for Russia’s neighbors and the Syrian opposition.

He expanded on that at a news conference later, giving examples of U.S. interference that included the U.S. envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volcker, promoting efforts to replace the 2015 agreement reached by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany to end the violence in eastern Ukraine.


Indonesian quake and tsunami devastates coast, many victims

PALU, Indonesia (AP) — The powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit Indonesia’s central Sulawesi province has claimed many victims, a disaster official said Saturday, as rescuers raced to reach the region and an AP reporter saw numerous bodies in a hard-hit city.

Disaster officials haven’t released an official death toll but reports from three hospitals seen Saturday by The Associated Press listed 18 dead.

Dawn revealed a devastated coastline in central Sulawesi where the 3-meter high (10 foot) tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake Friday smashed into two cities and several settlements.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a television interview there are “many victims.”

In Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province, a large bridge spanning a coastal river had collapsed and the city was strewn with debris.


Tesla faces a reckoning with CEO Elon Musk’s job in jeopardy

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The very attributes that have fueled a mania around Elon Musk — his vision, brash personality and willingness to take risks — could prove to be his downfall.

The Tesla CEO who made his fortune and his renegade-genius reputation by bursting through the barriers of conventional thinking faces a humiliating comedown as government regulators try to oust him from the company in a lawsuit accusing him of duping the electric car maker’s stockholders.

But extracting Musk from the company he has become synonymous with could devastate Tesla.

Musk’s fans maintain that Tesla would be insane to get rid of him, arguing it would go down as a huge mistake similar to the one Apple made in 1985 when it ousted its own visionary founder, Steve Jobs, only to bring him back with the company on the brink of bankruptcy 12 years later.

“People who create disruptive companies tend to be somewhat abnormal, and that is what leads to these Herculean accomplishments,” said Keith Rabois, a venture capitalist who used to work with Musk during one of his early incarnations at PayPal. “They are all a little bit off central casting in their own way, but that sort of is what lets them walk through these walls or over these walls when most people are terrified.”


North Korea learns to embrace its inner consumer

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — In an instructional television program about table tennis on the state-run sports channel, every ball, paddle and shirt bear the logo of “Naegohyang,” one of North Korea’s most recognizable brands. A documentary about the Pyongyang Maternity Hospital ends with new mothers being handed smartly packaged disposable diapers — with the local brand featured prominently.

Has North Korea discovered the art of product placement?

Subtle shifts like the quiet insertion of what looks a lot like advertising onto the North Korean airwaves exemplify how in the era of leader Kim Jong Un the North is learning to embrace its inner consumer. Officials won’t come right out and say so, but the rise of a consumer culture is a major feature of Kim’s plans to strengthen the economy and lift the people’s standard of living.

Entertaining and innovative aren’t words often used to describe North Korean TV, which has just one channel available everyday throughout the country and just a few more a few days a week in the capital. Programming is relentlessly ideological and always on-message.

But examples like the Naegohyang-laden table tennis program suggest at least some officials within the regime have been given a green light to push the envelope.


California divorce courts go to dogs as pets gain status

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California courts could be going to the dogs — and maybe cats, too — under a new law granting judges authority to settle disagreements over who keeps the family pet in divorce cases the same way they handle child-custody disputes.

Until now, Fido and Kitty have been considered family property, a status giving them little more standing in a divorce than a family’s big-screen TV.

Under a bill signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown, pets will still be considered community property but a judge deciding who gets to keep them will have the discretion of weighing such factors as who feeds them, who takes them to the vet and on walks, and who protects them.

“I think it’s a good idea. I personally have a little rescue bichon poodle named Rodney King Stone. He’s like a family member,” said family law attorney Megan Green of Los Angeles, who has seen her share of divorce cases where couples battled relentlessly over the pet.

In one case, a woman said the dog was a gift from her husband, but the husband maintained he was the one who took care of it. They finally worked out an agreement just ahead of trial.


Marty Balin, founder of Jefferson Airplane, dies at 76

NEW YORK (AP) — Marty Balin, a patron of the 1960s “San Francisco Sound” both as founder and lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane and co-owner of the club where the Airplane and other Bay Area bands performed, has died. He was 76.

Balin died Thursday in Tampa, Florida, on the way to the hospital, spokesman Ryan Romenesko said. The cause of death was not immediately available.

The dark-eyed, baby-faced Balin was an ex-folk musician who formed the Airplane in 1965 and within two years was at the heart of a nationwide wave that briefly rivaled the Beatles’ influence and even helped inspire the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” album. The Airplane was the breakout act among such San Francisco-based artists as the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, many of whom played early shows at the Matrix, a ballroom Balin helped run and for which the Airplane served as house band.

The San Francisco Sound was a psychedelic blend of blues, folk, rock and jazz, and the musical expression of the emerging hippie lifestyle. Balin himself was known for his yearning tenor on the ballads “Today” and “It’s No Secret,” and on the political anthem “Volunteers.” In the mid-1970s, when the Airplane regrouped as the more mainstream Jefferson Starship, Balin sang lead on such hits as “Miracles” (which he co-wrote), “With Your Love” and “Count On Me.” He later had solo success with “Hearts” and “Atlanta Lady.”

The Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, but Balin would long have mixed feelings. Pride in the band’s achievements was shadowed by its eventual breakup and by Balin’s acknowledged jealousy of Grace Slick, the other lead vocalist. Slick joined the group in the fall of 1966, soon before the Airplane recorded its landmark second album, “Surrealistic Pillow.” One of rock’s most charismatic singers and performers, she displaced Balin as the perceived leader, on stage and on the Airplane’s best known songs, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.”


NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue headlines of the week. None of these stories is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out. Here are the real facts:


NOT REAL: Prosecutor at Kavanaugh hearing got Catholic priest “off the hook”

THE FACTS: The Arizona prosecutor Senate Republicans handpicked to question Christine Blasey Ford Thursday about her sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh did not help exonerate a Catholic priest facing sex crimes charges, as one group falsely claimed on social media this week. The false claim about Rachel Mitchell was made by The Other 98%, a liberal activist group, on Facebook. The group posted a photo of Mitchell, along with text that wrongly asserted her experience in sex-crime cases was “Getting a Catholic Priest accused of six counts of sexual molestation of a minor off the hook.” Mitchell works as a sex-crimes prosecutor for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix. More than 15 years ago, she prosecuted the case of Paul LeBrun, a Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing boys from 1986 to 1991. Mitchell worked on the 2003 case, which resulted in LeBrun being sentenced to 111 years in prison. The photo, which was shared more than 30,000 times, included the Other98’s logo. The group did not return an email from The Associated Press. Cindi Nannetti, who supervised Mitchell before she became the chief of Maricopa County’s Special Victims Division, told the AP the claim “totally false.”

NOT REAL: Democratic donor awarded grant to woman accusing Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault

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