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

Trump kicks off rally blitz with grievances, immigrant fears

ESTERO, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday kicked off his final campaign rally blitz before the midterm elections by accusing the media of sowing division and stoking fears about illegal immigration.

Trump’s rally in Estero, just outside Fort Myers, was the first of 11 events he will hold across eight battlefield states over the next six days as he tries to bolster Republican turnout and counter Democratic enthusiasm heading into Election Day, which will determine whether the GOP retains control of Congress.

The president continued the grievance airing that has long been a fixture of his rallies, seizing on news reports about protests during his Tuesday visit to Pittsburgh, where he paid his respects to the 11 people killed at a synagogue in the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.

He said any protests there were small and far away from him, and he called reporting to the contrary “fake and make-believe.”

A small group of protesters was within earshot of Trump outside the synagogue, and hundreds more were kept blocks away by police. Some community leaders had asked Trump not to make the trip.

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Trump says border troops could hit 15K, surprising Pentagon

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the number of military troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexican border could reach 15,000 — roughly double the number the Pentagon said it currently plans for a mission whose dimensions are shifting daily.

The Pentagon said “more than 7,000” troops were being sent to the Southwest border to support the Customs and Border Protection agents. Officials said that number could reach a maximum of about 8,000 under present plans.

The troop numbers have been changing at a dizzying pace, with Trump drawing a hard line on immigration in the lead-up to the midterm elections.

Just last week officials were indicating that about 800 to 1,000 might be sent. On Monday, officials announced that about 5,200 were being deployed. The next day, the Air Force general running the operation said more than the initially announced total were going, and he pointedly rejected a news report that it could reach 14,000, saying that was “not consistent with what’s actually being planned.”

Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the commander of U.S. Northern Command, told reporters the number would exceed the initial contingent of 5,200, but he offered no estimate of the eventual total.

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Synagogue rampage suspect indicted on 2nd day of funerals

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday, and members of a grief-stricken Jewish community endured another round of funerals for victims of the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history.

Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old truck driver who authorities say raged against Jews as he gunned down 11 and wounded six, was charged in a 44-count indictment with murder, hate crimes and other offenses that could bring the death penalty. The indictment, which was expected, was announced on the second day of a weeklong series of funerals for congregants who perished in the mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue.

“Today begins the process of seeking justice for the victims of these hateful acts, and healing for the victims’ families, the Jewish community, and our city,” U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said in a statement. “Our office will spare no resource, and will work with professionalism, integrity and diligence, in a way that honors the memories of the victims.”

One after another, services were held for three more victims of the rampage: Joyce Fienberg, 75; Melvin Wax, 87, and Irving Younger, 69.

“It can’t be fixed,” Robert Libman said at his sister’s funeral, clutching his chest as he described the pain of losing her. “My sister is dead. My sister was murdered. There was no one I know like her. Pure goodness. … She was the most tolerant and gentle person that I’ve ever known.”

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S. Korea’s Moon: N. Korean leader Kim to visit Seoul ‘soon’

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will “soon” visit Seoul as part of a flurry of high-profile diplomacy aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

During a speech before parliament, Moon said that a second North Korea-U.S. summit is “near at hand” and that Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit North Korea soon. Moon also said he expected Kim to visit Russia soon and that Kim may meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Moon has previously said that Kim told him he would visit Seoul within this year when the leaders met in Pyongyang in September. South Korea’s presidential office said later Thursday that it had nothing to add to Moon’s speech about Kim’s trip. His comments were in line with previous statements, the Blue House said. They suggest that Moon is determined to push ahead with diplomacy to resolve the nuclear issue.

“Now, based on firm trust among one another, South and North Korea and the United States will achieve complete denuclearization and lasting peace of the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said. “This is an opportunity that has come like a miracle. It’s something that we should never miss.”

The prospects for a second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump improved after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made his fourth visit to North Korea earlier this month. But no breakthrough has followed. U.S. officials have recently said a second Trump-Kim summit will likely happen early next year. Some experts have raised doubts over whether Kim’s Seoul trip would be realized by December.

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Democrat’s campaign boots undercover conservative volunteer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A woman working for a conservative group that creates undercover “sting” videos infiltrated the campaign of a Democratic former CIA agent who is running for Congress in Virginia, campaign officials said.

A campaign manager for Abigail Spanberger confronted the woman Wednesday and asked her to leave, a video released by the campaign shows.

Spanberger is in a competitive race against Republican Rep. Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

Spanberger spokesman Justin Jones told the Richmond Times-Dispatch the woman showed up at campaign headquarters a few weeks ago, said she was pregnant and wanted to volunteer. Staffers became suspicious after the woman began asking questions of junior-level staffers to try to get them to say things that weren’t true, Jones said.

A web search on a site which exposes people who work for Project Veritas helped campaign staff identify the woman who gave her name as “Monica Nelson” as Marisa Jorge of New York.

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Official: Mafia hit man suspected in Whitey Bulger’s slaying

BOSTON (AP) — A Mafia hit man who is said to hate “rats” is under suspicion in the slaying of former Boston crime boss and longtime FBI informant James “Whitey” Bulger, who was found dead hours after he was transferred to a West Virginia prison, an ex-investigator briefed on the case said Wednesday.

The former official said that Fotios “Freddy” Geas and at least one other inmate are believed to have been involved in Bulger’s killing. The longtime investigator was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Authorities have not disclosed the cause of death.

Among the many unanswered questions after Bulger was found dead on Tuesday: Why was he moved to the prison? And why was a frail 89-year-old like Bulger — a known “snitch” — placed in the general population instead of more protective housing?

Attorney Hank Brennan said Bulger had a hip injury and was in a wheelchair when he was attacked. Brennan represented Bulger during his 2013 trial.

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Supply shortages plague Canada’s new cannabis marketplace

TORONTO (AP) — The name of the store is High North, but it might as well be named High and Dry because for all but about four hours of the first two weeks since marijuana was legalized in Canada, there was no pot to sell.

Trevor Tobin, one of the owners of the Labrador City shop in Newfoundland and Labrador, said they went 10 straight days without supply.

“The producers keep saying there will be some bumps in the road, but right now it’s not a bump in the road. It’s a big pothole,” he said.

His mother, Brenda Tobin, is a part-owner and said that after she tells customers there’s nothing to buy, “a lot of them are saying, ‘Oh, well. I guess it’s back to the black market.'”

Legalization arrived Oct. 17, and Canada became the world’s largest national marketplace for so-called recreational marijuana. But for now, it’s a superlative in name only.

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Lawsuit alleges Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted girl, 16

NEW YORK (AP) — Harvey Weinstein was accused in a civil court filing Wednesday of forcing a 16-year-old Polish model to touch his penis, subjecting her to years of harassment and emotional abuse and blocking her from a successful acting career as payback for refusing his advances.

The accuser, identified as Jane Doe, alleges that Weinstein assaulted her at his New York City apartment in 2002, just days after they’d met at an event involving her modeling agency.

Doe alleges the movie mogul promised to take her to lunch to discuss her career, but instead took her to his empty SoHo apartment and “aggressively and threateningly” demanded sex.

Weinstein instructed Doe to take off her clothes and intimated that she’d never work as an actress unless she gave in to his demands, according to the filing, the latest revelation in a lawsuit alleging Weinstein’s movie studio board enabled his behavior.

“Terrified and struggling to hold back tears, Jane Doe said she would not and resisted his demands,” the filing states. “Jane Doe was a virgin, and had no intention or understanding when she agreed to a business lunch that she would be put in this alarming position.”

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More deaths seen for less invasive cervical cancer surgery

New evidence about a cancer operation in women finds a higher death rate for the less invasive version, challenging standard practice and the “less is more” approach to treating cervical cancer.

The unexpected findings are prompting changes at some hospitals that perform radical hysterectomies for early-stage disease.

The more rigorous of the two studies was conducted at more than 30 sites in a dozen countries. It found women who had the less invasive surgery were four times more likely to see their cancer return compared to women who had traditional surgery. Death from cervical cancer occurred in 14 of 319 patients who had minimally invasive surgery and 2 of 312 patients who had open surgery.

Results were published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Radical hysterectomy is standard treatment for women with early-stage cervical cancer. Rates are declining because of widespread screening. The number of operations has fallen, too, to several thousand a year in the United States. Some women with early-stage cervical cancer are choosing fertility-sparing techniques, treatments not included in the new research.

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Giants Hall of Famer Willie McCovey has died at age 80

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Willie McCovey, the sweet-swinging Hall of Famer nicknamed “Stretch” for his 6-foot-4 height and those long arms, died Wednesday. He was 80.

The San Francisco Giants announced McCovey’s death, saying the fearsome hitter passed “peacefully” on Wednesday afternoon “after losing his battle with ongoing health issues.”

A first baseman and left fielder, McCovey was a .270 career hitter with 521 home runs and 1,555 RBIs in 22 major league seasons, 19 of them with the Giants. He also played for the Athletics and Padres.

McCovey made his major league debut at age 21 on July 30, 1959, and played alongside the other Willie — Hall of Famer Willie Mays — into the 1972 season before Mays was traded to the New York Mets that May.

McCovey batted .354 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs on the way to winning the 1959 NL Rookie of the Year award. The six-time All-Star also won the 1969 NL MVP and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986 after his first time on the ballot.

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