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

At Capitol, Bush saluted as ‘gentle soul,’ ‘great man’

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s capital embraced George H.W. Bush in death Monday with solemn ceremony and high tributes to his service and decency, as the remains of the 41st president took their place in the Capitol rotunda for three days of mourning and praise by the political elite and everyday citizens alike.

With Bush’s casket atop the Lincoln Catafalque, first used for Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 funeral, dignitaries came forward to honor the Texan whose efforts for his country extended three quarters of a century from World War II through his final years as an advocate for volunteerism and relief for people displaced by natural disaster.

President from 1989 to 1993, Bush died Friday at age 94.

In an invocation opening Monday evening’s ceremony, the U.S. House chaplain, the Rev. Patrick J Conroy, praised Bush’s commitment to public service, from Navy pilot to congressman, U.N. ambassador, envoy to China and then CIA director before being elected vice president and then president.

“Here lies a great man,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, the House speaker, and “a gentle soul. … His legacy is grace perfected.”

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Trump praises witness who refuses to testify against him

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump praised a key witness in the Russia investigation Monday for having the “guts” not to testify against him, and said his former lawyer — who cut a deal with prosecutors — should head straight to prison.

In a pair of politically charged tweets, Trump made clear that he is closely watching those who turn on him in the special counsel’s probe, which has ensnared some of the president’s closest advisers. So far, five people in Trump’s orbit have pleaded guilty to federal charges.

The tweets add to mounting questions about whether Trump is taking steps to improperly influence witnesses in an investigation that has enraged him and shadowed his administration. Some legal experts, though, say they may not amount to witness tampering if Trump didn’t directly tell others what to say or not say.

Trump already has come under scrutiny from critics who fear he may use his executive power to protect himself as well as friends and supporters. Last week, Trump told the New York Post that a pardon for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was not off the table.

Prosecutors say Manafort torpedoed his plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller by repeatedly lying to them, although Manafort denies that he lied.

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NASA spacecraft arrives at ancient asteroid, its 1st visitor

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — After a two-year chase, a NASA spacecraft arrived Monday at the ancient asteroid Bennu, its first visitor in billions of years.

The robotic explorer Osiris-Rex pulled within 12 miles (19 kilometers) of the diamond-shaped space rock. It will get even closer in the days ahead and go into orbit around Bennu on Dec. 31. No spacecraft has ever orbited such a small cosmic body.

It is the first U.S. attempt to gather asteroid samples for return to Earth, something only Japan has accomplished so far.

Flight controllers applauded and exchanged high-fives once confirmation came through that Osiris-Rex made it to Bennu — exactly one week after NASA landed a spacecraft on Mars.

“Relieved, proud, and anxious to start exploring!” tweeted lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. “To Bennu and back!”

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Wisconsin GOP uses rare session to weaken incoming governor

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Still stinging from an election loss, Wisconsin Republicans on Monday tried to push through measures that would weaken the incoming Democratic administration and allow outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker to make one last major mark on the state’s political landscape after his re-election defeat in November.

The measures, part of a rare lame-duck session, would change the 2020 presidential primary date at a cost of millions of dollars to benefit a conservative state Supreme Court justice. They would also diminish the governor’s ability to adopt rules that enact state laws and shield the state jobs agency from his control.

Angry opponents filled the hallways of the Wisconsin Capitol, and the hearing room, banging on doors and chanting “Respect our votes!” and “Shame!”

Republicans forged ahead despite threats of lawsuits, claims by Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and others that they were trying to invalidate the election results and howls of protest from hundreds of people who showed up for a public hearing.

The lame-duck maneuvering in Wisconsin is similar to action taken by Republicans in North Carolina two years ago and is being discussed in Michigan before a Democratic governor takes over there.

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Lawyers for Trump seek to punish porn star in court fines

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lawyers for President Donald Trump asked a court Monday for nearly $800,000 in lawyers’ fees and penalties from porn actress Stormy Daniels for a failed defamation lawsuit against him.

Attorney Charles Harder defended ringing up a nearly $390,000 legal bill for the president and asked for an equal amount in sanctions as a deterrent against a “repeat filer of frivolous defamation cases.”

Judge S. James Otero didn’t immediately rule. He noted that fees by Harder’s firm — as high as $840 an hour — were reasonable but the 580 hours spent on the case appeared to be excessive and might be trimmed in his eventual award. He didn’t indicate how he felt about the requested penalties, but had questioned whether attorneys’ fees alone would serve as a deterrent.

Harder had not put a dollar figure on sanctions he was seeking before the hearing and Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti objected vehemently, calling it “absurd and outrageous.”

“You can’t just pick a number out of thin air in an effort to put my client under Donald Trump’s thumb and intimidate her,” Avenatti said.

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Violent protests in France reveal a hard-to-heal fracture

PARIS (AP) — A grassroots protest movement in France has ballooned and radicalized, unleashing anger that devastated the heart of Paris in weekend riots and revealed a fracture in the country between the haves and have-nots.

Tough talk by unpopular President Emmanuel Macron, who has been roundly blamed for the chaos, isn’t likely to mend the growing sense of social injustice.

Discontent about the rising cost of living among the “little people,” as many protesters call themselves, had been growing, along with a sense of marginalization. The approach of Macron’s fuel tax increases in January, meant to wean the French off fossil fuels, has caused things to snap.

The weekend violence in Paris, in which more than 130 people were injured and over 400 were arrested, was the worst in the country in decades, officials have said.

The protesters say they want to level a playing field that they believe is tipped in favor of the elite and well-off city dwellers.

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APNewsBreak: Settlement reached in infamous “Norfolk 4” case

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The city of Norfolk has agreed to pay $4.9 million to four former sailors who were wrongly convicted of a woman’s rape and murder based on intimidating police interrogations. A copy of the settlement agreement for the “Norfolk Four” was obtained by The Associated Press.

The state also has agreed to pay $3.5 million.

The payments close out a decades-long case that drew widespread attention as the men’s innocence claims were backed by dozens of former FBI agents, ex-prosecutors and crime novelist John Grisham.

“These guys can now put all this behind them and try to recoup their lives,” said Tony Troy, a lawyer who represented one of the sailors.

The men — Eric Wilson, Danial Williams, Joseph Dick and Derek Tice — were pardoned by then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe last year of the 1997 rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko.

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Not just a fashion statement: Bush’s socks spoke volumes

HOUSTON (AP) — President George H.W. Bush said a lot with socks.

A visit from friend and fellow former president, Bill Clinton, inspired him to wear a pair emblazoned with Clinton’s face. He wore Houston Texans’ socks when meeting with the head coach. At the funeral for his wife, Barbara Bush, he wore socks featuring books as a tribute to her work promoting literacy.

Bush, who was a naval aviator in World War II, will be buried this week wearing socks featuring jets flying in formation — a tribute, his spokesman says, to the former president’s lifetime of service. The mayor of Houston urged people attending a City Hall tribute to Bush on Monday evening to wear colorful socks in memory of the former president, who died Friday at age 94 .

Michael Meaux, who worked in the U.S. State Department under Bush’s son, former President George W. Bush, sported a pair of hot-pink socks as he waited for Monday evening’s tribute to begin.

“I’ve had them for a while, but I’ve never worn them before,” Meaux said, laughing.

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Mexico’s ‘common man’ president pledges end to secrecy

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s newly inaugurated president kicked off his first Monday in office with something not seen in recent history — a news conference and a pledge to hold one every working day of his six-year term to keep the people informed.

Two days after taking the oath as the first leftist president in decades of technocrats, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador made good on his promise to govern as a common man and end decades of secrecy, heavy security and luxury enjoyed by past presidents. His workday began at 7 a.m. with a gathering of more than 100 reporters, photographers and TV cameramen all trained on the new leader, his gray hair slightly ruffled as he answered questions.

“Isn’t that a change that I am here, informing you?” Lopez Obrador asked. While past presidents have rarely held news conferences, Lopez Obrador promised to do so on a near-daily basis, much as he did when he was mayor of Mexico City from 2000-2005.

“He didn’t hit the ground running, he hit the ground flying,” said Federico Estevez, a political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, who was impressed by the president’s ability to improvise and speak for hours on end without using a teleprompter.

Estevez compared Lopez Obrador’s start to the early days of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, minus the fireside chats. “It’s very similar. And (Lopez Obrador) is going to build his party into a generational force, and the opposition is going to remain a minority for God knows how long.”

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World Series champ Red Sox accept invitation to White House

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox have accepted an invitation to the White House to celebrate their World Series championship.

“We’ve accepted and we’re going to see if there’s a date that works,” team President Sam Kennedy said Monday night before the premiere of the ballclub’s 2018 highlight video.

Once a standard, non-partisan perk of winning it all, the traditional champions’ visit to Washington has become more politicized. Some teams have declined invitations from President Donald Trump; in other cases, individual players stayed home.

Kennedy says it’s up to players to decide whether they want to attend.

“Like in the past, it’s an invitation. It’s not a mandatory, command performance,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for these guys to get the recognition they deserve for a world championship.”

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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