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AP News in Brief at 6:04 p.m. EDT

| June 11, 2020 3:27 PM

Dow sinks 1,800 as virus cases rise, deflating optimism

Stocks fell sharply Thursday on Wall Street as coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased again, deflating recent optimism for a quick economic recovery and raising more doubts about how long the market’s scorching comeback can last.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 1,800 points and the S&P 500 dropped 5.9%, its worst day since mid-March, when stocks went through repeated harrowing falls as the virus lockdowns began.

Many market watchers have been saying that the comeback in the market since late March was overdone and did not reflect the dire state of an economy in its worst crisis in decades. The S&P 500 rallied 44.5% between late March and Monday, erasing most of its losses tied to the pandemic.

The selling comes as coronavirus cases rise in the U.S., with some of the increase likely tied to the reopening of businesses and the lifting of stay-at-home orders. Cases are climbing in nearly half the states, according to an Associated Press analysis, a worrying trend that could intensify as people return to work and venture out during the summer.

“Not surprisingly, a lack of preventative behavior has led to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases around the country, and the stock market is having another gut check,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.

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Historical figures under attack after George Floyd's death

The rapidly unfolding movement to pull down Confederate monuments around the U.S. in the wake of George Floyd’s death has extended to statues of slave traders, imperialists, conquerors and explorers around the world, including Christopher Columbus, Cecil Rhodes and Belgium’s King Leopold II.

Protests and, in some cases, acts of vandalism have taken place in such cities as Boston; New York; Paris; Brussels; and Oxford, England, in an intense re-examination of racial injustices over the centuries. Scholars are divided over whether the campaign amounts to erasing history or updating it.

At the University of Oxford, protesters have stepped up their longtime push to remove a statue of Rhodes, the Victorian imperialist who served as prime minister of the Cape Colony in southern Africa. He made a fortune from gold and diamonds on the backs of miners who labored in brutal conditions.

Oxford’s vice chancellor Louise Richardson, in an interview with the BBC, balked at the idea.

“We need to confront our past,” she said. “My own view on this is that hiding our history is not the route to enlightenment.”

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Alarming rise in virus cases as states roll back lockdowns

NEW YORK (AP) — States are rolling back lockdowns, but the coronavirus isn't done with the U.S.

Cases are rising in nearly half the states, according to an Associated Press analysis, a worrying trend that could intensify as people return to work and venture out during the summer.

In Arizona, hospitals have been told to prepare for the worst. Texas has more hospitalized COVID-19 patients than at any time before. And the governor of North Carolina said recent jumps caused him to rethink plans to reopen schools or businesses.

There is no single reason for the surges. In some cases, more testing has revealed more cases. In others, local outbreaks are big enough to push statewide tallies higher. But experts think at least some are due to lifting stay-at-home orders, school and business closures, and other restrictions put in place during the spring to stem the virus's spread.

The increase in infections pulled stocks down sharply Thursday on Wall Street, dragging the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than 1,800 points lower and giving the S&P 500 its worst day in nearly three months. The infections deflated recent optimism that the economy could recover quickly from its worst crisis in decades.

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Black Lives Matter goes mainstream after Floyd's death

For much of its seven-year existence, the Black Lives Matter movement has been seen by many Americans as a divisive, even radical force. Its very name enraged its foes, who countered with the slogans “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter."

Times have changed — dramatically so — as evidenced during the wave of protests sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. Black Lives Matter has gone mainstream — and black activists are carefully assessing how they should respond.

A few examples of the changed landscape:

Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican stalwart, joined a Black Lives Matter march. Some NASCAR drivers, whose fan base includes legions of conservative whites, embraced the phrase. So did NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and executives of all 30 major league teams. The mayor of Washington ordered the words painted in large letters on a street near the White House. Now, Black Lives Matter Plaza turns up in driving directions from Google Maps.

Like many black activists, Sakira Cook is pleased by such developments but also cautious. She and others worry that businesses and politicians will hijack the slogan without any real commitment to doing the hard work needed to fight racism.

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Milley says he was wrong to accompany Trump on church walk

WASHINGTON (AP) — Army Gen. Mark Milley, the nation's top military officer, said Thursday he was wrong to accompany President Donald Trump on a walk through Lafayette Square that ended in a photo op at a church. He said his presence in uniform amid protests over racial injustice “created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

“I should not have been there,” the Joint Chiefs chairman said in remarks to a National Defense University commencement ceremony.

Milley’s statement risked the wrath of a president sensitive to anything hinting of criticism of events he has staged. Pentagon leaders’ relations with the White House already were extraordinarily tense after a disagreement last week over Trump’s threat to use federal troops to quell civil unrest triggered by George Floyd’s death in police custody.

Trump's June 1 walk through the park to pose with a Bible at a church came after authorities used pepper spray and flash bangs to clear the park and streets of largely peaceful protesters demonstrating in the aftermath of Floyd's death. Milley’s comments Thursday were his first public statements about the walk with Trump, which the White House has hailed as a presidential “leadership moment” akin to Winston Churchill inspecting damage from German bombs in London during World War II.

Milley said his presence and the photographs compromised his commitment to a military divorced from politics.

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Biden gets more aggressive as 2020 campaign heats back up

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joe Biden is adopting an increasingly aggressive stance as he looks to break out of a monthslong campaign freeze imposed by the coronavirus outbreak.

Over the course of 24 hours, the presumptive Democratic nominee stepped up his rhetoric against President Donald Trump, warning he could try to steal the election. His campaign organized a petition pressing Facebook to boost its efforts to prevent the spread of misinformation. And he released a plan to restart an economy crippled by the coronavirus in a way that he says won't make Americans choose between their health and livelihoods.

The quick succession of developments was a signal of Biden's growing desire to become more assertive on multiple fronts. He's betting that he can build momentum by offering a contrast to Trump's leadership as the country is gripped by the pandemic, economic turmoil and unrest stemming from racial injustice and police brutality.

“Trump has basically had a one-point plan: Open businesses,” Biden said Thursday at an economic roundtable in Philadelphia, where he announced a plan to reopen the economy. “It does nothing to keep workers safe, to keep businesses able to stay open, and secondly it does very little to increase consumer confidence.”

If elected, Biden promised, among other things, to guarantee testing and protective equipment for people called back to work while prohibiting discrimination against elderly Americans and anyone else who is at high risk of contracting the virus. He also wants to use federal funds to ensure paid leave for anyone who falls ill or cares for those who do.

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Trump fumes as protesters stake out festive zone in Seattle

SEATTLE (AP) — Following days of violent confrontations with protesters, police in Seattle have largely withdrawn from a neighborhood where protesters have created a festival-like scene that has President Donald Trump fuming.

Trump taunted Gov. Jay Inslee and Mayor Jenny Durkan about the situation on Twitter and said the city had been taken over by “anarchists."

“Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will,” Trump tweeted.

The “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” sprung up after police on Monday removed barricades near the East Precinct and basically abandoned the structure after officers used tear gas, pepper spray and flash bangs over the weekend to disperse demonstrators they said were assaulting them with projectiles.

The president has sparred before with Inslee and Durkan — both liberal Democrats. Inslee previously sought his party's presidential nomination.

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Final tests of some COVID-19 vaccines to start next month

The first experimental COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. is on track to begin a huge study next month to prove if it really can fend off the coronavirus, while hard-hit Brazil is testing a different shot from China.

Where to do crucial, late-stage testing and how many volunteers are needed to roll up their sleeves are big worries for health officials as the virus spread starts tapering off in parts of the world.

Moderna Inc. said Thursday the vaccine it is developing with the National Institutes of Health will be tested in 30,000 people in the U.S. Some will get the real shot and some a dummy shot, as scientists carefully compare which group winds up with the most infections.

With far fewer COVID-19 cases in China, Sinovac Biotech turned to Brazil, the epicenter of Latin America's outbreak, for at least part of its final testing. The government of São Paulo announced Thursday that Sinovac will ship enough of its experimental vaccine to test in 9,000 Brazilians starting next month.

If it works, “with this vaccine we will be able to immunize millions of Brazilians,” said São Paulo´s Gov. Joao Doria.

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Amid pandemic, scores of US Catholic schools face closure

Catholic schools have faced tough times for years, but the pace of closures is accelerating dramatically amid economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, sparking heartbreak and anger in scores of affected communities.

“It’s not a pretty picture right now,” said Sister Dale McDonald, public policy director of the National Catholic Educational Association, which says about 100 schools have announced in recent weeks that they won’t reopen this fall. McDonald fears that number could more than double in the coming months.

Most of the closures are occurring at the elementary level, but also on the list are a number of venerable and beloved high schools including some that produced some famous alumni.

The Institute of Notre Dame, a girls’ school in Baltimore founded in 1847, is due to close on June 30, to the dismay of alumnae like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Immaculate Conception Cathedral School of Memphis, Tennessee, another girls’ institution, is also shutting down after 98 years; it’s where Priscilla Beaulieu finished her senior year while dating husband-to-be Elvis Presley.

Closures in New Jersey include Hammonton's St. Joseph High School, which has won more than 20 state football championships, and Cristo Rey high school in Newark, which was highly praised for its work helping students from low-income families go to college. Founded in 2007, Cristo Rey says every one of its graduates from the last 10 years had been accepted at colleges.

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Kelly Clarkson seeks divorce from husband of nearly 7 years

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kelly Clarkson has filed for divorce from her husband of nearly seven years, Brandon Blackstock.

The singer, talk show host and judge on “The Voice” filed court papers to end the marriage under her married name Kelly Blackstock on June 4 in Los Angeles.

The 38-year-old Clarkson and the 43-year-old Blackstock have a 5-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son.

Clarkson cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split and requested that she not be required to pay Blackstock spousal support.

The filing asks that the singer's legal last name be restored to Clarkson and it indicates that the couple had a prenuptial agreement.