Obama honors Italy’s leader at ‘bittersweet’ state dinner
WASHINGTON (AP) — “Bittersweet” was the word of the night, the one used most often to describe President Barack Obama’s final state dinner.
“We saved the best for last,” Obama said Tuesday as he welcomed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini, to the White House.
He wasn’t joking.
The final gala meant everything was big or bigger, from the personality of the guest chef (Mario Batali) who collaborated on the menu to the size of the white tent (huge) on the South Lawn where the soiree was held to the guest list (nearly 400 people).
Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., said it’s “a little sad” that it’s Obama’s last state dinner. But to make the occasion even more memorable, he said: “For tonight only, I pronounce my name ‘Canoli,’ not ‘Connolly.”
Class-action lawsuit seeks sweeping help for Flint students
DETROIT (AP) — Several families filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday against the state of Michigan and the Flint school district, saying more needs to be done to help students whose academic performance and behavior have worsened because of the city’s lead-tainted water.
The school system was already struggling before Flint’s water supply was contaminated by lead over an 18-month period. The city switched to a new water source, the Flint River, in 2014, but the corrosive water wasn’t properly treated, causing lead from old pipes and fixtures to flow through taps.
The 15 families say the state Education Department, the Flint district and a countywide district already are not complying with laws intended to help disabled students, and that the lead crisis is only compounding the problem.
“The extensive lead poisoning in Flint has combined with the lack of essential special education resources in the Flint schools to create a tragic crisis,” attorney Gregory Little said.
There is no dispute that lead affects the brain and nervous system, especially in children. No safe lead level in kids has been identified by experts.
Cheer up, Americans, say Canadians _ you’re great
NEW YORK (AP) — America’s neighbors to the north — so often the butt of their jokes — are taking to social media to try to keep spirits up in the U.S. during this divisive election season.
Using the hashtag #tellamericaitsgreat, Canadians have swamped Twitter with compliments about American music, culture, technology and even tailgating. The outpouring of love triggered a reply — #TellCanadaThanks.
It’s all an effort started by the Toronto-based ad agency The Garden Collective, which chose its hashtag as a play on Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America great again.” The firm’s video launching the social media push has gotten over 752,000 YouTube views and the hashtag has been trending on Twitter for several days. Many Canadians have made their own mini-videos, too.
Dic Dickerson, managing director of the firm, called it a pet project they devised for no other reason than to just spread love. “We put it out there and I don’t think any of us expected to get as much traction as it did but we’re really, really excited by all the positivity,” he said. “A lot of people are talking, which is exactly what we wanted.”
The agency was found about 18 months ago and usually focuses its attention on businesses. Dickerson said they’d never done anything like this.
Blue Jays stave off ALCS elimination, beat Indians 5-1
TORONTO (AP) — Just in time, Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays broke out the bats to save their season.
Now they have a chance to really make things interesting in this AL Championship Series.
Donaldson backed up his fiery pep talk to teammates before the game, hitting a home run and turning in a timely diving stop Tuesday to help the Blue Jays avert a sweep with a 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians.
The Indians still lead the matchup 3-1, but with a couple of big hits and a strong outing by Aaron Sanchez, Toronto handed them their first loss of this postseason.
“I’m not going to give too much away of what I had to say, but just more so getting everybody’s attention and focus and understanding,” Donaldson said. “I mean, everybody knew coming into today how important today was. But at the same time I just wanted to kind of reiterate that and let the boys know that I was coming to play today.”
Rolling Stone defamation trial over rape article begins
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The woman who claimed she was gang raped in a now-discredited story in Rolling Stone magazine said the University of Virginia dean who counseled her after she came forward about her alleged assault “did everything right,” an attorney said Tuesday.
The attorney’s comment came during the opening of a $7.85 million defamation trial against the magazine over its November 2014 story “A Rape on Campus.” It was the first time that any portion of the deposition from the woman identified in the article only as “Jackie” has been publicly revealed.
University administrator Nicole Eramo claims the article cast her as the “chief villain” who sought to protect the school by discouraging Jackie from reporting her alleged assault to police.
Eramo’s attorney said Jackie’s remarks contradict the magazine’s portrayal of the dean as indifferent. Attorney Tom Clare read part of Jackie’s deposition aloud in court.
“I never felt like she suppressed my sexual assault,” Jackie said in the deposition. “I personally thought that she did everything right.”
Chibok leader: 100-plus girls unwilling to leave Boko Haram
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s government is negotiating the release of another 83 of the Chibok schoolgirls taken in a mass abduction two-and-a-half years ago, but more than 100 others appear unwilling to leave their Boko Haram Islamic extremist captors, a community leader said Tuesday.
The unwilling girls may have been radicalized by Boko Haram or are ashamed to return home because they were forced to marry extremists and have babies, chairman Pogu Bitrus of the Chibok Development Association told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Bitrus said the 21 Chibok girls freed last week in the first negotiated release between Nigeria’s government and Boko Haram should be educated abroad, because they will probably face stigma in Nigeria.
The girls and their parents were reunited Sunday and are expected to meet with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday or Wednesday, Bitrus said. Buhari flew to Germany on an official visit the day of the girls’ release.
Buhari said Monday that his government is prepared to talk with Boko Haram as long as the extremists agree to involve organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross, which was an intermediary in last week’s release.
Russia, Syria halt Aleppo airstrikes ahead of 8-hour lull
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian and Syrian warplanes halted their airstrikes on Syria’s besieged city of Aleppo on Tuesday in preparation for a temporary pause in the military push that Moscow has announced for later in the week, the Russian defense minister said.
According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the halt in the strikes should help pave way for militants to leave the eastern rebel-held parts of the contested city.
Both Russian and Syrian air raids on the northern city of Aleppo were suspended at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Shoigu said. He described the suspension as a precursor for the opening of humanitarian corridors.
Moscow on Monday announced a “humanitarian pause” between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday to allow civilians and militants safe passage out of the city.
At that time, Russian and Syrian militaries will halt any offensive actions. Syrian rebels, including al-Qaida militants, as well as the wounded and the sick will be allowed to leave to the neighboring rebel-held province of Idlib.
‘Stop whining,’ Obama tells Trump, chiding for fraud talk
WASHINGTON (AP) — “Stop whining,” President Barack Obama rebuked Donald Trump on Tuesday, speaking out as seldom before on next month’s election and chiding the Republican for sowing suspicion about the integrity of America’s presidential vote.
Obama also accused Trump of cozying up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin to a degree “unprecedented in American politics.”
The president said Trump’s intensifying pre-emptive warnings about voter fraud are unheard of in modern politics. The rhetoric is not based on any evidence, Obama said, but is simply aimed at discrediting the outcome before the first votes are counted.
“You start whining before the game is even over?” Obama said at a Rose Garden news conference. “If whenever things are going badly for you and you lose you start blaming somebody else — then you don’t have what it takes to be in this job.”
Campaigning in Colorado, the GOP candidate repeated his assertions about “corrupt” elections but did not respond directly to the president. Trump vowed to “drain the swamp” in Washington, and for the first time promised to push for a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.
Sexual consent, debated across US, key to Derrick Rose case
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Months before Derrick Rose took the stand to defend himself in a lawsuit claiming he and two friends raped an ex-girlfriend while she was intoxicated, the NBA star was asked if he understood the word “consent.”
“No. But can you tell me?” he asked at a deposition in June.
Rose came to court last week with a much better grasp of the word that is central to the $21 million civil case, though his interpretation of the concept could prove costly.
No one disputes the New York Knicks player and his friends had sex with the woman in her apartment Aug. 27, 2013. The question is whether she gave her consent — as the men claim — or whether she was too incapacitated to do so — as she insists.
There is no commonly accepted definition for consent, which is at the heart of a “patchwork quilt” of evolving laws on rape and sexual assault that in some cases require an affirmative agreement before sex, attorney Rebecca O’Connor said.
Ecuador: We have ‘temporarily restricted’ Assange’s internet
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador’s government acknowledged on Tuesday that it cut off WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s internet access at its embassy in London after the whistleblowing site published a trove of damaging emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The foreign ministry said that while it stands by its 2012 decision to grant Assange asylum based on legitimate concerns he faces political persecution, it respects other nations’ sovereignty and doesn’t interfere or support any candidate in foreign elections.
“The decision to make this information public is the exclusive responsibility of the WikiLeaks organization,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The recognition of the action comes less than 24 hours after WikiLeaks tweeted that Ecuador had cut off Assange’s access to the internet on Saturday after the publication of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs.
In follow-up messages posted Tuesday, the group claimed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had personally intervened to ask Ecuador to stop Assange from publishing documents about Clinton. Citing “multiple US sources,” WikiLeaks said the request was made on the sidelines of a visit by Kerry and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa last month to Colombia to show their support for a peace deal with leftist rebels.