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    The Turkish currency has stabilized near record lows as investors look to a speech by the finance chief later in the day. Turkey has been hit by a currency crisis that was triggered by concerns over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's economic policies and a trade and diplomatic dispute with the United States, a NATO ally. The lira was around 6.55 per dollar Tuesday, up 6 percent from the previous day, when the central bank freed up cash for banks. It remains not far from the record low of 7.23 per dollar hit Sunday. The currency has nosedived over the past week, accelerating a months-long decline that has seen it drop 45 percent this year. The state-run Anadolu Agency said the finance chief would address hundreds of foreign investors later Tuesday.
  • China appealed to Washington on Tuesday not to misuse security concerns to hamper business activity after President Donald Trump signed a law that expands the jurisdiction of an investment review panel. The law signed Monday by Trump expands the authority of a government security panel to scrutinize foreign investments. It was prompted by complaints Chinese companies were taking advantage of gaps in U.S. law and improperly obtaining technology and possibly sensitive information. 'The United States should treat Chinese investors objectively and fairly and avoid making a national security review an obstacle to Chinese-U.S. enterprises' investment cooperation,' said a Commerce Ministry statement. Other governments including Germany and Britain also are uneasy about rising Chinese investment, the communist Beijing government's behind-the-scenes role and acquisitions of technology that might have military uses or is seen as an important economic asset. The U.S. security panel, known as CFIUS, reviews foreign acquisitions of American assets for possible security threats. Critics say legislation governing its powers, last updated a decade ago, was antiquated and failed to take into account tactics used by some Chinese companies. The legislation signed by Trump expands CFIUS jurisdiction to cover entities that might own a minority stake in a company that makes a purchase. It also gives CFIUS authority to prevent loss of sensitive personal information. The legislation also gives CFIUS authority to initiate its own investigations instead of waiting for a buyer to seek approval. Lawmakers who proposed the legislation last year expressed concern that Chinese companies were using joint ventures with foreign companies or minority stakes in ventures to gain access to sensitive technology. Last month, a proposed Chinese purchase of a German power company was blocked when a state-owned utility bought the company instead. German news reports said Berlin also planned to block a Chinese acquisition of an engineering company but authorities said later that bid was withdrawn. Also last month, Britain's government announced a proposal to expand its powers to block foreign acquisitions that pose security concerns. It would apply to deals in which a foreign buyer acquires as little as 25 percent of a company. Germany and other governments also complain their companies are barred from buying most Chinese assets at a time when China's companies are in the midst of a multibillion-dollar global acquisition spree.
  • Asian stock markets were mixed Tuesday after Wall Street declined and Turkey's currency crisis fed fears about emerging markets. KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5 percent to 2,772.83 while Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 2.3 percent to 22,356.08. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.1 percent to 27,615.97 and Seoul's Kospi added 0.6 percent to 2,261.80. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.7 percent to 6,296.10. Benchmarks in New Zealand and Taiwan gained while Singapore declined. WALL STREET: A stronger dollar hurt exporters, whose goods will get more expensive abroad. Most retailers were down, but Amazon advanced 0.5 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.4 percent to 2,821.93. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.5 percent, to 25,187.70. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.2 percent to 7,819.71. TURKISH TURMOIL: Turkey's central bank announced measures to help its banks, but the country's lira and stock market slid further. The lira has tumbled as investors question whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government can cope with problems including a diplomatic spat with Washington that has resulted in higher U.S. tariffs. Erdogan has ruled out an interest rate hike, which can slow economic growth, but analysts say one is urgently needed to stabilize the currency. CONTAGION FEARS: Emerging markets are falling out of favor due to problems in Turkey and Argentina. Investors worry Turkey's turmoil could affect the global banking system and economy. The Argentine peso sank to an all-time low amid investor caution and a corruption scandal involving former government officials. Also, rising U.S. interest rates are drawing money out of emerging markets in search of higher returns. ANALYST'S TAKE: Asian markets were 'relatively more resilient ' to Turkey jitters than South Africa and Latin America were, said Philip Wee and Radikha Rao of DBS Group in a report. But they said the U.S. tariff hike on Turkish steel at a time of 'considerable stress' tells emerging markets not to expect Washington's help to 'calm their markets.' ''Expect more stress if the Fed continues to look past the emerging market turmoil (like it did in May) and keeps to gradual rate hike path,' they said. CHINA COOLING: Growth in factory output, consumer spending and retail sales in July were weaker than expected, adding to signs of an economic slowdown. Factory output rose 6 percent over a year earlier, in line with the previous month but below forecasts. Retail sales gained 8.8 percent, down from June's 9 percent. Investment in factories and other fixed assets grew 5.5 percent in the first seven months of the year, down from 5.7 percent in the year to June. Forecasters have expected economic growth to decline since regulators tightened lending controls last year to rein in surging debt. ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 26 cents to $67.48 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed at $67.20 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 22 cents to $72.83 per barrel in London. It closed the previous session at $72.61. CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 110.93 yen from Monday's 110.73 yen. The euro rose to $1.1420 from $1.1411.
  • Yosemite National Park's reopening can't come soon enough for Douglas Shaw. The 20-day closure during peak tourist season at one of the busiest parks in the U.S. cost Shaw $200,000 in lost revenue at his 120-person hotel just outside Yosemite. Most of the park is set to reopen Tuesday. The nearly three-week closure was the result of a massive wildfire that has burned 150 square miles (389 sq. kilometers) and killed two firefighters since it started July 13. During that time, Shaw wiped out his savings account, had to lay off eight of 43 employees, and he's considering early retirement to avoid a possible future with similar devastating wildfires in the area. 'If I hadn't had savings, which is depleted, I'd be scrambling for money or I wouldn't have a business,' Shaw said Monday. 'It's a huge setback.' Shaw is among hundreds of business owners in small communities surrounding Yosemite who depend on tourist dollars. Tens of thousands of visitors from across the globe canceled trips to the region because of the park's closure, which began July 25. The Ferguson Fire is one of several devastating blazes that have cropped up in recent weeks and have killed at least a dozen people, the latest a firefighter from Utah who died Monday while battling a blaze north of San Francisco. In Yosemite, the Ferguson Fire peaked during the busiest month for tourism. The park draws more than 600,000 during a typical August, according to the National Park Service. Visitor bureaus in the area and the park are roughly estimating $50 million in combined tourism dollar losses, said Steve Montalto, creative director at Visit Yosemite Madera County. 'From an economic standpoint, it's majorly significant to the region,' said Montalto, who visited one of the most popular attractions at the park, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, when it reopened Monday ahead of the Tuesday's larger opening. 'It's like a big breath of fresh air to be able to get in there and explore these places again,' Montalto said. While hotel owners and other business are relieved about the opening, they say it will likely be weeks before their bookings return to normal levels. Shaw said his hotel probably won't be more than 45 percent booked this week, when normally it's sold out well in advance. There were just 10 people staying there on Monday night, he said. 'Once the closure hit that three-week mark there's a full panic across the board for visitors, whether they're from Beijing or Paris or San Francisco,' he said. Tom Lambert, who rents out an apartment within the park, said he and his wife have lost about $20,000 in income because of the closure. And because the apartment is located along the one entrance to Yosemite Valley that will remain closed for at least a week, he said his next booking isn't until Aug. 31. 'And now people are starting to cancel into September and we have October people asking about canceling,' the 55-year-old Lambert said. 'It's still rough. The summer is pretty much lost.' The park and visitor bureaus are trying to get the word out internationally that the park is back open. They've begun posting pictures of themselves and visitors at attractions along with red paddleboards that say #YosemiteNOW, and they're encouraging visitors to do the same. As for the park itself, the dent in visitor fees will impact park improvements, such as fixing roads and updating facilities, said park Ranger Scott Gediman. Because those projects are planned years in advance, Gediman said all improvements for this year will be covered but that projects in the following years will be impacted, though he said it was too soon to know which ones. In Montana, a wildfire destroyed structures and forced evacuations Monday from the busiest area of Glacier National Park. Park officials said structures on the north end of Lake McDonald were lost, but they did not provide details. Although the fire near Yosemite was 86 percent contained on Monday, visitors likely will notice some smoke and may even see flames on their way in, Gediman said. 'People won't have the crystal clear blue skies they're used to,' he said. But the smoke 'is the best I've seen it in several weeks,' and the fire impacts minimal, he added. Although Yosemite Valley reopens Tuesday, a major road from the south, Highway 41, and a popular park attraction known as Glacier Point will remain closed for likely at least another week for fire operations, Gediman said. But as Gediman walked around the park on Monday ahead of the reopening, he said there was a newfound sense of anticipation among workers who were tidying up campsites and readying entrance stations. 'We are very excited to get the park reopened,' he said. 'It seems like a long time and it's certainly been very quiet.' When Shaw heard Friday that most of the park would be reopening Tuesday, he said he felt pure joy. 'It's a beautiful thing,' he said. 'You realize that roads are actually paved with money.' ___ Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP
  • The German economy accelerated in the second quarter despite the U.S. move to impose new tariffs on Europe, official data showed Tuesday, performing slightly better than economists had expected. Germany's economy, Europe's biggest, grew by 0.5 percent compared with the previous three-month period. That is up from 0.4 percent in the first quarter — a figure that was revised upward Tuesday from the initial reading of 0.3 percent given in May. Economists had forecast a 0.4 percent increase this time. Its performance in the April-June period was helped by higher private and government spending and by increased investment in equipment and construction, the Federal Statistical Office said. Rising exports were outpaced by increasing imports. The figure underlined the German economy's continuing robust performance, with business confidence high and unemployment low despite some disappointing data on factory orders this year and concern about global trade tensions. It has now grown for 34 of the past 37 quarters, said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING in Frankfurt, but he cautioned that 'the challenges facing the German economy will increase rather than decrease.' Those include the specter of a possible escalation of trade tensions, despite a recent deal to defuse a U.S.-European Union dispute, geopolitical risks such as that posed by events in Turkey and a shortfall in investment and structural reforms at home, he said. In year-on-year terms, the economy expanded by 2.3 percent in the second quarter.
  • Donald Trump's inaugural committee pushed back hard last summer on questions about whether the unprecedented $107 million budget for the event was fraught with cost overruns and misspending. A top inauguration official assured The Associated Press that spending had been restrained and monitored. In court last week, that same official — Rick Gates — acknowledged that he personally may have pocketed some of the inaugural committee's money. Gates, the government's star witness in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's financial fraud trial, admitted to Manafort's lawyers that he 'possibly' wrongfully submitted personal expenses to the inaugural committee for reimbursement. Though only a footnote to Gates' disclosure of tax fraud, extramarital affairs and embezzlement from Manafort, the admission raised new questions about how well the inaugural committee tracked its own spending and why Gates was chosen for a top inauguration job in the first place. It's not clear how much money Gates may have pocketed or whether his testimony will prompt the committee to review spending, especially given Gates acknowledged stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort through fake expenses. Publicists for Tom Barrack, a real estate magnate who hired Gates after the inauguration, declined to address those issues publicly when contacted by the AP. They offered written answers to questions on the condition that those answers not be cited in the story, but the AP declined. Gates did not respond to text messages from the AP and his voicemail was full. Both before and after revelations of busted budgets at Trump's inaugural committee, Barrack and committee spokespeople downplayed Gates' role. But Gates oversaw the day-to-day planning of the event as a top lieutenant of Barrack, according to four inauguration staffers and vendors. All requested anonymity on the grounds that discussing inaugural committee affairs would hurt their careers in Republican politics or event planning. 'If there was an issue, it went to Gates,' said one person who worked on the inauguration with him. According to a committee source and a vendor who had access to the inaugural committee's early planning documents, the committee's initial plans were modeled on President Barack Obama's 2013 inauguration — an event that cost just over $40 million. How the Trump inaugural committee's costs rose to $100 million — despite throwing fewer events than Obama's team, and hosting them in largely the same venues — is difficult to explain, even taking into account the $700,000 organizers spent on entertainment and the $1 million lawn coverings that Trump later blamed for making his crowd look small. Greg Jenkins, who helped organize President George W. Bush's first inauguration and ran the second, shared some of his 2005 costs with the AP last year. A major concert on the National Mall was budgeted for $2 million, and the president's 'military salute' ran $2.5 million. Then there were nine separate inaugural balls — at a total cost of $7.7 million — and three candlelight dinners at $1.5 million each. The cost of the events, in total: $16.7 million. Trump's inauguration, meanwhile, threw just three balls, and its welcome concert alone cost $25 million, the AP reported last fall. In the statement released last summer, Gates relayed Barrack's confidence in the inauguration finances process and called the $107 million budget 'a tribute to the generosity of the American people.' Beyond the money spent on the inauguration, the statement said that 'millions of dollars of reserve funds will be allocated to various charities, institutions and foundations in an amount that surely will exceed any previous inauguration.' Some of his former campaign colleagues expressed surprise to the AP when he was selected for a top inauguration job given questions about his past work with Manafort — and existing accusations inside the Trump campaign that Gates tried to misspend campaign funds. In November of 2017, two campaign sources told the AP that Gates had unsuccessfully attempted to transfer $5 million to a TV advertising vendor for commercials that the campaign had never approved. The incident, which occurred in the spring of 2016, was later featured in former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's score-settling memoir of the campaign, 'Let Trump be Trump.' Separately, White House general counsel Don McGahn, who was Trump's campaign counsel, also pressed Gates to explain how the campaign spent $730,000 on an obscure and recently created direct mail firm, Left Hand Enterprises. Much of that money, records obtained by the AP show, was used to send campaign mailers to voters in safe Republican states — after Trump had already clinched his primary victory. McGahn told the AP in October 2016 that he had no reason to doubt the money had been spent on mailers. He did not respond to emails requesting comment last week.
  • Republicans who once criticized President Donald Trump are now fighting each other for his support. Minnesota faces a #metoo moment. And Democrats weigh whether to send the 'Iron Stache' to Congress. What to watch as voters in four states — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont and Connecticut — head to the polls Tuesday: WHO LOVES TRUMP THE MOST? In both Minnesota and Wisconsin, GOP candidates are battling to cast themselves as the strongest Trump supporter. GOP primaries in those states will test — yet again — the president's pull within his own party. Both states are upper-Midwestern battlegrounds that Republicans believe will be key to Trump's re-election chances. In the Minnesota governor's race, the two Republican candidates — former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson — have spent much of their time on the campaign trail fighting over who previously insulted the president the least. Both men criticized Trump during the 2016 campaign, with Johnson calling the president a 'jackass' and Pawlenty pulling his support after the 'Access Hollywood tape' of Trump bragging he could grope women because he was famous. He said then that Trump was 'unhinged and unfit for office.' Now, they both say they voted for Trump in the end and would welcome the president's support. Trump has not endorsed either candidate, which is notable in a primary season in which the president hasn't been shy about making his preferred candidate known. In Wisconsin's Republican Senate race, the state party is backing state Sen. Leah Vukmir, an ally of Gov. Scott Walker. But her critique of Trump as 'offensive to everyone' during the 2016 primaries has provided an opening for Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson, a former Democrat who spoke on behalf of Vice President Al Gore at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. Their GOP primary race is rated a toss-up. The candidates are running for the chance to challenge Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin. ___ #METOO MINNESOTA Rep. Keith Ellison is fending off allegations of domestic violence, with former girlfriend Karen Monahan accusing the Democratic congressman and candidate for Minnesota attorney general of emotional and physical abuse. Monahan's son claimed to have seen a video of Ellison dragging his mother off a bed by her feet as he screamed profanities at her. Ellison has denied the allegation. Monahan has so far declined to provide any video or copies of text messages to The Associated Press. Still, the development complicates the crowded race for Minnesota attorney general. Ellison, one of the most liberal members of the House and the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, faces four opponents in the race. The allegations come in a state that's already been roiled by the #metoo movement: In January, Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat, resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. On Tuesday, Minnesotans will choose who will compete in a special election to finish out Franken's term, which ends in 2020. The race could end up being between two women, incumbent Democratic Sen. Tina Smith and Republican state Sen. Karin Housley. ___ RACE TO REPLACE RYAN Tuesday's Wisconsin contests will determine who gets to compete for House Speaker Paul Ryan's open seat. Ryan announced his retirement in April. On the Democratic side, the primary race between iron worker Randy Bryce — known as the 'Iron Stache' for his bushy mustache — and Janesville School Board Member Cathy Myers has grown increasingly nasty. National Democrats rallied to Bryce after his campaign ad went viral. He's been endorsed by independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Myers, who says she's tired of being asked to 'take a back seat to less-qualified men,' is backed by a number of local groups. Bryce's history of nine arrests, including for drunken driving, and being delinquent on child support to his ex-wife, could complicate his path to the seat. Myers also filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against him, claiming he used campaign dollars for personal expenses. In the Republican primary, Ryan has backed his former staffer Bryan Steil, a corporate lawyer and University of Wisconsin regent who's seen as the front-runner against four lesser-known challengers. The general election race is considered a toss-up. ___ RAINBOW WAVE In Vermont, Democratic candidate Christine Hallquist is vying to move one step closer to becoming the country's first transgender governor. The former chief executive of Vermont Electric Cooperative is part of a 'rainbow wave' that's swept the midterm elections, as a record number of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender candidates run for office this year. Hallquist has a shot at winning the primary; polling shows her with the highest name recognition in the field of four Democrats. The candidates include 14-year-old Ethan Sonneborn, who is taking advantage of an apparent oversight by the state founders more than 225 years ago of not having an age requirement for gubernatorial office. But she'll face a tough fight in November: Republican incumbent Phil Scott remains more popular with Democrats than members of his own party in the solidly liberal state. ___ CONNECTICUT SEES RED? In a year when the political momentum seems to favor Democrats, Republicans find themselves with a rare shot to pick up a seat in deep-blue Connecticut. Gov. Daniel Malloy's deep unpopularity, due in part to his economic policies, has opened up an opportunity for Republicans to retake the governor's mansion for the first time in eight years. Malloy isn't seeking a third term. Democrats seem likely to nominate Ned Lamont, a liberal Greenwich businessman known for beating then-Sen. Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic primary for Senate. He faces Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, who was convicted of extortion in 2003 and served seven years in prison. The Republican field features three businessmen vying against former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and longtime Danbury mayor Mark Boughton, who's been endorsed by the Republican Party. The big question for Republicans this fall is whether unhappiness with Malloy will overpower deep dislike for Trump among voters in the liberal state.
  • Democrats are fighting to beat back Republican gains across the Midwest as the 2018 primary season roars through Wisconsin and Minnesota, two states where President Donald Trump's appeal among working-class voters threaten to upend decadeslong political trends this fall and beyond. Tuesday's primary contests for governor, the U.S. Senate and the House will test the strength of Trump's fiery coalition against the energy of the Democratic resistance. At the same time, accusations of domestic violence involving the Democratic National Committee's second-in-command could undermine the blue wave in Minnesota, a state still healing from scandal. In all, four states will host primary elections Tuesday as the 2018 primary season nears its final chapter. All but 10 states will have picked their candidates for November's general election by the time all votes are counted in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Connecticut. While the full political battlefield isn't quite set, the stakes are clear: Democrats are working to topple Republican control of Congress and governors' offices across the nation. Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, who leads the Democratic Governors Association, predicted that Tuesday would offer fresh evidence of a blue wave that would sweep Democrats into power this November. 'Trump has managed to alienate every form of human life on the planet,' Inslee told The Associated Press when asked about his party's appeal among white working-class voters. 'They're tired of this chaos.' Democrats appear particularly motivated in Wisconsin, where eight candidates have lined up for the chance to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a two-term incumbent who has warned his party about the prospect of a blue wave. Walker's strong anti-union policies made him a Democratic villain long before Trump's rise. State schools chief Tony Evers, who has clashed with Walker at times, enters the primary as the best-known of the eight Democratic candidates. Once a target of Trump criticism, Walker gained the president's endorsement in a tweet Monday night, Trump calling him 'a tremendous Governor who has done incredible things for that Great State' on the eve of the primary. But Trump's persistent attacks on Wisconsin-based motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson put Republican candidates on their heels in recent days, Walker among them. Trump tweeted Sunday that it was 'great' that many Harley owners planned to boycott the Milwaukee company if manufacturing moves overseas, continuing a monthslong tariff dispute with the beloved American motorcycle manufacturer. Walker avoided addressing the boycott call directly in a written response. His Democratic opponents embraced the fight. 'By attacking Wisconsin workers to cover for failed economic policy, President Trump took a page right out of Scott Walker's playbook,' said Mahlon Mitchell, one of the candidates and the head of the state firefighters union. Trump also stars, informally at least, in Wisconsin's Senate primaries as Republicans try to deny Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin a second term. The GOP primary features fervent Trump supporters: former Marine Kevin Nicholson, running as an outsider, and longtime state lawmaker Leah Vukmir, who is backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan. While neither candidate was an early Trump supporter, Vukmir has struggled to explain footage recently unearthed from 2016 in which she calls Trump 'offensive to everyone.' Tuesday's primaries serve as a test of Democratic enthusiasm in the upper Midwest, a region that has long been associated with liberal politics but has been trending red. Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1 percentage point in 2016, becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the state since 1984. It's much the same in Minnesota, where Trump lost by less than 3 percentage points in a state that hadn't backed a Republican presidential contender since 1972. Minnesota voters will pick candidates in competitive races for governor, the Senate and the House. But a down-ballot race for state attorney general may overshadow them all. Rep. Keith Ellison, the Democratic National Committee's deputy chairman, was expected to capture his party's nomination in the race to become the state's top law enforcement official. That was before Ellison's candidacy was rocked by allegations of domestic violence over the weekend amid a broader national outcry against sexual misconduct by powerful men in business, entertainment and politics. Ellison has denied an ex-girlfriend's allegations that he dragged her off a bed while screaming obscenities during a 2016 relationship she said was plagued by 'narcissistic abuse.' Allegations of misconduct are still fresh in Minnesota, where Democratic Sen. Al Franken resigned in December after multiple allegations of unwanted sexual touching. His replacement, Democratic Sen. Tina Smith, is on Tuesday's ballot as she seeks her first full term. She's facing Democrat Richard Painter, a former George W. Bush ethics lawyer. Former two-term Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty may be the biggest name on Minnesota's ballot, however. He's the leading Republican candidate in the high-profile race to replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. Having lost his own short-lived bid for president in 2012, Pawlenty spent much of the last six years serving as a top corporate lobbyist. Like Republican candidates elsewhere, Pawlenty has struggled to live down his blistering critique of Trump in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election. At the time, he called Trump 'unhinged and unfit for the presidency.' Pawlenty has since said he voted for Trump and supports his agenda. The Democratic field for governor features U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, state Rep. Erin Murphy and Attorney General Lori Swanson. Not to be forgotten: Deep-blue Vermont and Connecticut hold primary contests as well. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has not ruled out a second presidential run in 2020, is seeking his third term in the Senate. The 76-year-old democratic socialist is running for the Democratic nomination, but he is expected to turn it down and run as an independent. In Connecticut, five Republicans have lined up to replace the unpopular outgoing governor, Democrat Dan Malloy. The Democratic field features former gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, who served several years in prison for political corruption. ___ Peoples reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Kyle Potter in St. Paul, Minnesota, contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump on Monday dared New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to challenge him in 2020 — and warned the Democrat, 'Anybody that runs against Trump suffers.' Trump also said that Cuomo once called him and promised that he wouldn't run against him — a claim that Cuomo's office did not immediately dispute. The challenge came as Trump delivered remarks at a fundraising event for Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, who is running for re-election. The Utica visit marked Trump's first as president to an area he won in 2016. Trump, a New York native, spent much of the event attacking his home-state governor as well as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is also thought to have White House ambitions. Trump said that Cuomo, who is running for re-election against 'Sex and the City' star Cynthia Nixon, called him and told him, 'I'll never run for president against you.' 'But maybe he wants to,' Trump went on, adding: 'Oh, please do it. Please. Please. He did say that. Maybe he meant it. The one thing we know — and they do say — anybody that runs against Trump suffers. That's the way it should be.' Trump, who flirted with a gubernatorial run before setting his eyes on the White House, argued that New York could have the lowest taxes in the nation if Cuomo had allowed hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state and claimed Cuomo 'wants to take away your Second Amendment.' 'It's very sad to see what's happened with New York,' he said. 'This could have been Boomtown, U.S.A.' Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to the criticism, but Cuomo on Twitter defended his position on gun rights. 'Donald Trump & the NRA - bankrupt bedfellows: literally and morally,' he tweeted. 'Unlike Trump, I'm not afraid to take on the NRA.' His office released a lengthy statement ahead of Trump's arrival accusing Trump of having 'forgotten what made this country great.' 'Despite being a native New Yorker, since you took office, you have attacked our healthcare, passed a tax law that punished New York in order to fund corporate tax cuts, ripped immigrant New Yorkers from their families, launched an assault on our environment, and undermined the basic values on which this state and this nation were built,' he said. As for Gillibrand, Trump called her 'a puppet' of New York's other Democratic senator, Chuck Schumer. 'She's been up to my office looking for campaign contributions. And she's very aggressive on contributions, but she's not very aggressive on getting things done,' Trump said. Gillibrand responded by Twitter: 'The President refuses to acknowledge the work I've gotten done. Sound familiar, ladies?' Trump's fundraising events are usually closed to reporters, but this time White House staff allowed the small group of journalists traveling with the president inside, giving Trump a broader platform for his remarks. __ Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj
  • Prosecutors rested their tax evasion and bank fraud case in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, closing two weeks of testimony that depicted him as using millions of dollars hidden in offshore accounts to fund a luxurious lifestyle — and later obtaining millions more in bank loans under false pretenses. The trial of the longtime Washington operator turns Tuesday to Manafort's defense team, which has so far blamed any wrongdoing on Rick Gates, the former Manafort protege who testified he and his former boss committed crimes together for years. Defense attorneys have called Gates a liar, philanderer and embezzler as they've sought to undermine his testimony. Manafort's lawyers have not yet said whether they will call any witnesses or present other evidence in the case. They will have to disclose that information Tuesday as the case reaches its final stages. The trial is the first to emerge from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, but it does not relate to any allegations of Russian election interference or possible coordination with the Trump campaign. Neither Manafort nor Gates have been charged in connection with their Trump campaign work. Still, the proceedings have drawn President Donald Trump's attention — and tweets — as he works to undermine the standing of the Mueller investigation in the public square. Trump has distanced himself from Manafort, who led the campaign from May to August 2016 — with Gates at his side. Gates struck a plea deal with prosecutors and provided much of the drama of the trial so far. The government says Manafort hid at least $16 million in income from the IRS between 2010 and 2014 by disguising money he earned advising politicians in Ukraine as loans and hiding it in foreign banks. Then, after his money in Ukraine dried up, they allege he defrauded banks by lying about his income on loan applications and concealing other financial information, such as mortgages. Gates said he helped Manafort commit crimes in an effort to lower his tax bill and fund his lavish lifestyle. During testimony, Gates was forced to admit embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and conducting an extramarital affair. The prosecution has introduced a trove of documentary evidence as they've sought to prove Manafort committed 18 separate criminal counts. Along the way, they've not only faced an aggressive defense team but tongue-lashings from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who presides over the case. The admittedly impatient judge has pushed the government to speed up its case. Before the government rested its case Monday afternoon, the court heard testimony from a bank executive who said he found several red flags with Manafort's finances while he was being considered for more than $16 million in bank loans. James Brennan, a vice president at Federal Savings Bank, says Manafort failed to disclose mortgages on his loan application. He said he also found several 'inconsistencies' in the amount of income Manafort reported for his business. That information led senior executives to reject one of the loans. But Brennan said Federal Savings Bank chairman Stephen Calk overruled that decision. 'It closed because Mr. Calk wanted it to close,' Brennan said. Other witnesses have said Calk pushed the loans through because he wanted a post in the Trump administration. Emails admitted into evidence in the trial show that in the weeks after the 2016 election, Manafort lobbied Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to consider Calk for secretary of the Army, a position Calk had put at the top of his list in an earlier email to Manafort. Calk also listed seven other senior domestic appointments and 18 ambassadorships — ranked in order of preference — that he would accept. In the Nov. 30, 2016, email to Kushner, Manafort passed along Calk's resume along with two other names of people he said 'should be a part of the Trump administration.' 'The 3 individuals are people who I believe advance DT agenda. They will be totally reliable and responsive to the Trump White House,' Manafort wrote, providing brief biographies for Calk and the other two candidates. Manafort noted Calk's background was 'strong in defense issues, management and finance.' He also listed three 'alternative positions' in the Treasury and Commerce departments. Kushner responded, 'On it!' Calk ultimately did not get an administration post, though he did approve the loans for Manafort. Brennan said the Chicago-based bank lost at least $11.8 million because it had to write off the two loans, which he said were the two largest loans the bank had made at that time. The prosecution also recalled a Treasury Department agent — over the objections of Manafort's defense team — to testify that two of his companies hadn't filed any reports disclosing the foreign bank accounts as required by federal law. Senior special agent Paula Liss said the Treasury Department had no record of DMP International or Davis Manafort Partners filing such reports between 2011 and 2014. Liss' testimony came after Manafort's attorneys signaled they intend to argue that the offshore accounts that he used to pay for millions of dollars in personal expenses, such as fancy suits, landscaping, rugs and homes, were actually controlled by the company and not him personally. Late Monday, Manafort's team also made a motion to dismiss all the charges, saying the government hadn't met its burden of proof. Ellis took the motion under advisement. Ellis also closed the courtroom from the public while he heard arguments on a sealed motion filed by Manafort's team. Ellis said the proceedings and the motion will be kept secret until after the case concludes. The closed hearing came after the judge delayed Manafort's trial for hours last Friday without explanation. The judge left the courtroom that day toward the jury room, and later admonished jurors repeatedly to not discuss the case. ___ Online: Emails admitted into evidence Monday: http://apne.ws/gWcMTxH

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  • With less than three months until the mid-term elections for the U.S. House and Senate, four more states hold primaries today for the Congress, but the roster of races is unlikely to produce the news associated with last week’s tight race in a special U.S. House election in Ohio, which amplified questions about whether the GOP can maintain control of Capitol Hill after November. Primaries take place on Tuesday in four states: Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. No sitting incumbents in the Congress are on upset alert at this point – though there could always be some out-of-the-blue defeat that no one saw coming; but really, this is more about setting the roster for the final races in November. At this point in time, the Congressional change for November is 57 seats in the House, and 3 in the Senate. (Please note that various news organizations calculate these numbers differently.) As you can see from the data, the total change is already equal to that for the House in the 2016 election cycle, as a large amount of turnover continues in the Congress. Most people don’t realize that currently in the U.S. House, almost 200 of the 435 seats are held by lawmakers who were elected since 2012 – that number will grow substantially after the 2018 elections. In the Senate, fully half of Senators have less than eight years in office, just over one term. The primaries for 2018 are rapidly coming to an end – next Tuesday brings Alaska and Wyoming; Arizona and Florida vote on August 28. Then, after Labor Day, Massachusetts, Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island finish out the primaries for the 2018 mid-term elections for Congress. November is not that far away.
  • When a 3-year-old boy from Clayton County, Georgia, died in a ritual in the northern New Mexico desert, the other children there were allegedly told he would come back to life as Jesus and tell them who to kill. >> Remains of child found at New Mexico compound identified as missing Georgia boy, grandfather says That’s among the jarring allegations leveled Monday by prosecutors, who are accusing the child’s father and four other adults of setting up a squalid isolated compound and plotting violence. Police raided the property in Taos County on Aug. 3 and say they have evidence the occupants were Muslim extremists training their children to become killers with high-powered weapons. >> Atlanta dad planned ‘exorcism’ on son before desert camp found, police say Authorities initially went to the compound looking for Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, who is accused of taking his son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, from the child’s mother in late November after claiming he was taking the boy to a Jonesboro-area park. A month earlier, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj made a trip to Saudi Arabia and came home wanting to stop his son’s medicine and perform rituals to rid him of “demonic spirits,” the father’s family told authorities. The child suffered from brain damage caused during birth, as well as seizures. >> On AJC.com: Death in the desert: What led to Atlanta dad’s mysterious journey? The father and son had apparently arrived at the compound in January, along with four adult relatives and 11 of their children. The adults are each charged with 11 counts of child cruelty (none relating to Abdul-Ghani) and were in court for a bond hearing, which was streamed online by Albuquerque news station KOB. Judge Sarah Backus said the testimony was troubling, but she wasn’t convinced the suspects were a danger to the community. She granted each $20,000 bond to be released from jail, with the conditions that they wear an ankle monitor until they get stable housing in the county and have only supervised visits with their children. One of the children told an FBI agent the boy would foam at the mouth during the rituals, which consisted of the father reading from the Quran and placing a hand on the boy’s head. The agent said the rituals began before the dad left Georgia and continued in New Mexico at the urging of another of the compound’s occupants, Jany Leveille. Leveille is the “Islamic wife” of Wahhaj and believed that she was originally supposed to be the toddler’s mother, according to FBI agent Travis Taylor. Taylor testified that Leveille believed Wahhaj’s legal wife in Georgia used “black magic” to steal the child from Leveille’s womb. During the final ritual on Abdul-Ghani, his heart stopped, the agent said. Leveille allegedly said she believed the child had already been dead and was only still animated because he was possessed by demons. After his death, the boy reportedly was washed, prayed over, wrapped in a sheet and placed in a tunnel near the camp. At least one child told authorities that the adults led them to believe Abdul-Ghani would come back as Jesus and instruct them on what “corrupt institutions they needed to get rid of,” authorities said. The institutions were expected to include teachers, law enforcement and the military. When police searched the site, they allegedly found a shooting range and a number of firearms, as well as a document with instructions about how to build an untraceable AR-15. Some guns were in the tunnel. Prosecutors said Siraj Ibn Wahhaj had also taken extensive firearms training in Georgia. While the group was at the compound, relatives and friends were trying to locate them, including Wahhaj’s father, the well-known New York City imam also named Siraj Wahhaj. The father has said something must have gone wrong mentally for the group to cut ties suddenly and travel west. In addition to his namesake, the group includes two of the imam’s daughters and his son-in-law. >> Read more trending news  Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s brother, Muhammad, received a letter from someone at the compound (authorities aren’t sure who wrote it) instructing him to bring all his money and weapons to the site, prosecutor Timothy Hasson said. The letter said not to tell his father. “Allah says he will protect you always,” the letter reportedly said in part, “so follow until he makes you a martyr.” That martyrdom, Hasson said, was supposed to come after Muhammad joined the group in New Mexico. Further details about the trip to Saudi Arabia weren’t revealed. Hasson conceded that countless Muslims make the hajj pilgrimage to the country, which could be a logical explanation for the trip. “The evidence as a whole says this family was on a mission, a dangerous one and a violent one,” the prosecutor said.
  • Update: 3:30 p.m. EDT Aug. 9: The grandfather of a missing Georgia boy confirmed that the remains of a child found at a remote desert compound in New Mexico are those of his grandson, according to WSB-TV. >> Read more trending news  The boy, Abdul-ghani Wahhaj of metro Atlanta, disappeared in December. His mother told authorities that the child’s father took the child because he wanted to perform an exorcism on the 3-year-old, who suffered from health problems. Investigators discovered the remains of a child at the compound in Taos County on Tuesday. Five adults, including the boy’s father,  Siraj Wahhaj, were already in custody on a number of charges related to the condition of 11 children found at the location and the filthy conditions where they were living. >> Related: Metro Atlanta man arrested at compound trained kids for school shooting Siraj Wahhaj is also accused of training the children at the compound for school shootings. He was armed with multiple firearms, including an assault rifle, when authorities raided the compound Friday, according to WSB. >>Related: Photos: 11children found starving, living in New Mexico compound, police say Update: 3:00 p.m. EDT Aug. 8:  The father of a missing Georgia boy,  who was arrested Friday at a compound in the New Mexico desert where 11 starving children were found, was at the compound to train the children on how to carry out school shootings, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Suspect Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was conducting weapons training, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which cited court documents filed on Wednesday. Prosecutors filed the documents related to a request that Wahhaj remain jailed without bail. He was arrested, along with four other adults found at the makeshift compound, last week after authorities discovered 11 malnourished and dirty children living there in squalor. >> Related: DA: Georgia man was training kids to do school shootings in desert The remains of a child were found on the grounds Tuesday, according to investigators, but there’s been no word, yet, on the identity of the child and whether it my be Wahhaj’s son, who disappeared from metro Atlanta last December. Update: 5:00 p.m. EDT Aug. 7: Investigators found the remains of a child on the grounds of a compound in New Mexico  where five adults were arrested and 11 children were discovered starving, according to WSB-TV.  The remains have not been positively identified, so it’s too early to tell they belong to a missing Georgia boy. Abdul-Ghani Wahajj, who would celebrated his 4th birthday Monday, disappeared in December. His mother told police the child’s father took the boy and had said he wanted to “exorcise” demons from the boy, who had a number of health problems. Siraj Wahhaj was one of two men arrested at the compound. (Original Story) Two Georgia men have been taken into custody after authorities in New Mexico served a search warrant on what they are calling a compound, where they said they found women and children malnourished and living in deplorable conditions. Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said the department swore out a search warrant on the makeshift compound in Amalia, New Mexico, on Thursday. Hogrefe said there was a reason to believe that Lucas Morten and others, including Siraj Wahhaj, 39, were living inside the compound. >> On WSBTV.com: Police searching for missing 3-year-old, father Siraj Wahhaj was wanted in connection with the abduction of 3-year-old AG Wahhaj. The warrant came after a two-month investigation with Clayton County, Georgia, investigators and the FBI. The sheriff said the FBI had recently given them information and surveillance video of the compound, but they didn’t feel there was enough cause to get a warrant for the property. “That all changed for me when a message was forwarded to us from a Georgia Detective that we reasonably believed came from someone at the compound – the message sent to a third party simply said in part ‘we are starving and need food and water,’” Hogrefe said in a news release. “I absolutely knew that we couldn’t wait on another agency to step up and we had to go check this out as soon as possible, so I began working on a search warrant right after I got that intercepted message – it had to be a search warrant and a tactical approach for our own safety because we had learned the occupants were most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief. We also knew from the layout of the compound they would have an advantage if we didn’t deploy tactfully and quickly.” >> Man accused of killing nurse used Tinder to find victims, may be serial killer, police say On Friday morning, eight members of the Sheriff’s Response Team and four state investigators executed a search warrant of the compound. The sheriff said the two men initially refused to follow directions. Hogrefe said Wahhaj was held up inside the compound and was heavily armed with an AR-15 rifle, five loaded 30-round magazines, four loaded pistols, including one in his pocket when he was taken down. Authorities also found more rounds of ammo inside the compound. Investigators said the compound consisted of a small travel trailer buried in the ground covered by plastic with no water, plumbing or electricity. >> Read more trending news  “The only food we saw were a few potatoes and a box of rice in the filthy trailer,” Hogrefe said. “But what was most surprising, and heartbreaking, was when the team located a total of five adults and 11 children, that looked like third-world country refugees, not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing.” Morten and Wahhaj were taken into custody. However, the missing child from Georgia was not located among the children. Morten was charged with harboring a fugitive and Wahhaj was booked on his no-bond warrant on a child abduction charge out of Georgia. Three women, believed to be children’s mothers, were detained for questioning and later released pending further investigation. The 11 children, ranging in ages from 1 to 15, were taken into protective custody. “We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had – it was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen,” Hogrefe said. None of the adults would give a statement to the whereabouts of 3-year-old AG Wahhaj, but it is believed he was at the compound a few weeks ago. His mother said AG Wahhaj suffers from seizures, developmental and cognitive delays and is unable to walk due to suffering a Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) at birth.  The investigation into locating him is being coordinated between Clayton County investigators and the FBI.
  • A Pennsylvania woman who police say is responsible for the death of a 23-month-old girl in Clairton turned herself in on Monday. >> Watch the news report here Deasha Ringgold is charged with homicide and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the death of Aubree Sherrell, Allegheny County police said Monday. >> More on WPXI.com: Woman accused of killing toddler taken into custody An unresponsive Sherrell was taken to a hospital on April 27 and later pronounced dead, police said. An investigation determined Aug. 10 that Sherrell’s death was a homicide, and a warrant was issued for Ringgold on Monday. Police said the girl died from strangulation and had bruises around her neck. Ringgold was dating Sherrell's father and was babysitting her the day she died, police said. Ringgold allegedly told police that she put the girl to bed in her apartment on Glenn Drive in Clairton and went to sleep herself. According to investigators, she told them she found Sherrell lying on her back and her lips were blue.  >> Read more trending news  Police said Ringgold told them she took Sherrell to the hospital right away, but cellphone records show that an hour before she did, she allegedly Googled the following: 'How to do CPR on a baby?'  'How to wake up a knocked out person' 'My friend got choked out, what do I do?'  The girl died in April, but Ringgold was charged after the autopsy and police investigation. According to the complaint, the baby's father was at work during the incident and has not been charged. 
  • An expecting mother said she feels humiliated after she was asked if she was trying to shoplift from a Staples store in North Carolina. >> UPDATE: Staples manager fired after accusing woman pregnant with twins of shoplifting Shirell Bates said she now regrets leaving her home on Friday for back-to-school shopping. >> Woman used identical twin's name during drug arrest, sister claims 'Being pregnant is already high-risk, and having to deal with that, just additional stress that I don't need,” Bates said. Bates said a police officer asked her if she was shoplifting while she was checking out of the Pineville store. >> More on WSOCTV.com: Manager at North Carolina Staples fired after accusing pregnant woman of shoplifting 'Mid-transaction, a police officer approached me and insisted he wanted to speak with me,” Bates said. “He asked what was under my shirt.” Bates is pregnant with twins. 'Initially, I thought he was joking, so my response was, 'Twins,’” Bates said. “I'm 34 weeks with twins. I'm having a boy and a girl.' Bates said the officer didn’t believe her the first time, and he asked her again. 'At that point, to avoid him asking me again, I actually lifted my shirt just a little bit, just to expose my belly, so he could see that I'm just a regular pregnant person buying school supplies,” Bates said. >> Read more trending news  Pineville police said a Staples manager approached the officer and asked him to speak with Bates because the manager believed Bates may have been “concealing merchandise.” 'When I confronted her about what happened, she admitted that, 'In the past, we've had a lot of people putting school supplies or merchandise in their clothes and hiding, so I asked the officer to reach out to you,’” Bates said. Staples issued the following statement: 'Yesterday at our Pineville location, while a customer was shopping, a manager mistakenly thought they were possibly shoplifting and asked a police officer that happened to be in the store to talk with the customer. 'After a quick conversation, the issue was resolved, the manager apologized to the customer and refunded their transaction due to the inconvenience. At Staples, we want all customers to feel welcome in our store, and work with our store associates to try and foster an inclusive culture. As an organization, we would like to apologize to the customer if that was not the case in this instance.' Bates said she plans on contacting Staples' corporate office on Monday and possibly seeking legal action. 'You pretty much jumped the gun without any type of evidence, except my stomach is large,” Bates said. “That’s not fair. No mom should have to go through that.

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