Trump shakes up staff, intent on finishing race on own terms
NEW YORK (AP) — Frustrated with his troubled candidacy, Donald Trump is hinging his presidential hopes on a risky bet: that the fiery populism and freewheeling style that won him the Republican nomination give him a better shot at the White House than uniting his party and rallying moderate voters.
Trump underscored that conviction Wednesday with a staff overhaul at his campaign’s highest levels, the second shake-up in the past two months. The Republican nominee tapped Stephen Bannon — a combative conservative media executive with no presidential campaign experience — to serve as CEO of his White House bid.
Pollster Kellyanne Conway, who has known Trump for years and gained his trust during her brief tenure working for the businessman, will serve as campaign manager.
The moves are aimed in part at marginalizing campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a longtime Republican operative who pushed Trump to moderate his tone and improve relations with skeptical Republican officials. In breaking with that approach, Trump appears set on finishing the race on his own terms— win or lose.
Manafort’s past work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party has also become a potential liability for Trump. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Manafort helped the party secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to a pair of prominent Washington lobbying firms.
Wildfire burns with ferocity never seen by fire crews
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire with a ferocity never seen before by veteran California firefighters raced up and down canyons, instantly engulfing homes and forcing thousands of people to flee, some running for their lives just ahead of the flames.
By Wednesday, a day after it ignited in brush left bone dry by years of drought, the blaze had raged across 40 square miles, though by the end of the day the first foothold was gained and more than 1,500 firefighters had the blaze 4 percent contained.
Authorities could not immediately say how many homes had been destroyed, but they warned that the number will be large.
“There will be a lot of families that come home to nothing,” San Bernardino County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said after flying over a fire scene he described as “devastating.”
“It hit hard. It hit fast. It hit with an intensity that we hadn’t seen before,” he said.
10 Things to Know for Thursday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:
1. TRUMP PLACING RISKY BET IN QUEST FOR WHITE HOUSE
He’s doubling down on the proposition that his brand of fiery populism gives him a better shot at the presidency than uniting his party and rallying moderate voters.
2. ‘IT HIT HARD. IT HIT FAST’
A ferocious wildfire in Southern California races up and down canyon hillsides, instantly engulfing homes and forcing thousands of people to flee.
2 Lochte teammates in robbery probe pulled off plane
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Two Olympic swimmers were taken off their flight from Brazil to the U.S. on Wednesday by local authorities amid an investigation into a reported robbery targeting Ryan Lochte and his teammates.
U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky confirmed Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were detained but had no other details.
Representatives from the U.S. consulate arrived at the airport shortly after the swimmers were held.
The action comes amid increasing tension between Brazilian authorities and the American swimmers over their account of the robbery.
Lochte said he was with Conger, Bentz and Jimmy Feigen when they were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi by men with a police badge as they returned to the athletes village from a party, several hours after the last Olympic swimming events were held Sunday.
Column: Losing gracefully still an Olympic sport
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — In a world in turmoil, one thing never changes: the Olympic sport of losing gracefully.
With a crisp, assured landing of his final somersault off the parallel bars, Oleg Verniaiev bumped Danell Leyva out of the gold-medal spot. Did the American curse? Turn his back? Roll his eyes in disgust? No. He firmly shook the Ukrainian’s chalk-covered hand, flashed a broad smile and embraced him.
“He didn’t take anything away from me,” Leyva said. “He deserved that medal more than anything.”
With a hand on her shoulder and the words “Get up, get up, we have to finish this,” Abbey D’Agostino persuaded Nikki Hamblin not to quit when they tripped over each other and hit the deck hard in qualifying of the women’s 5,000-meters. An American and a New Zealander, perfect strangers, turning personal disaster into a triumph of Olympic goodwill.
“Isn’t that just so amazing?” Hamblin said. “I’m never going to forget that moment. When someone asks me what happened in Rio in 20 years’ time, that’s my story.”
Track: A challenge for Bolt, gold for Jamaica, sweep for US
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — It’s no easy thing to push Usain Bolt, even in an Olympic warm-up race.
Might be even tougher upstaging him.
But that happened on a wild Wednesday night in track. It began with the Jamaican star smiling, then wagging his finger at a brash up-and-comer in the 200-meter semifinals. It kept going with another Jamaican, Elaine Thompson, completing the first 100-200 women’s double since 1988. And it closed with an American sweep of the hurdles to put the cherry on top of a seven-medal day for the United States on the track.
Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin finished 1-2-3 in the 100-meter hurdles to give the United States its first sweep in the event and only its seventh in the history of Olympic track.
It was a not-all-unexpected result, though this might be an eye-opener: Both 2008 champion Dawn Harper-Nelson and the current world-record holder, Keni Harrison, were back home watching on TV after failing to crack the top three at the Olympic trials.
Rights group: More than 17,000 killed in Syrian state jails
BEIRUT (AP) — The young Syrian activist was beaten, prevented from going to the toilet and saw her cellmates taken for rounds of whipping when she was held for more than a month in several government detention facilities.
Still, Lama is considered lucky, as more than 17,000 detainees have died in the government’s custody over the past five years as a result of torture, diseases and other causes, according to a report released Thursday by the London-based Amnesty International.
The report, titled “‘It breaks the human,” includes interviews with 65 torture survivors who described abuse and inhuman conditions in security branches operated by Syrian intelligence agencies and in Saidnaya Military Prison, near Damascus.
It said common methods of torture included forcibly contorting the victim’s body into a tire and flogging on the soles of the feet. The authorities also used electric shocks, rape and sexual violence, the pulling out of fingernails or toenails, scalding with hot water and cigarette burns.
“The catalogue of horror stories featured in this report depicts in gruesome detail the dreadful abuse detainees routinely suffer from the moment of their arrest, through their interrogation and detention behind the closed doors,” said Philip Luther, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program.
Driven out: Housing crisis looms in flood-stricken Louisiana
DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (AP) — With an estimated 40,000 homes damaged by deadly flooding, Louisiana could be looking at its biggest housing crunch since the miserable, bumbling aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a decade ago.
People whose homes were swamped by some of the heaviest rains Louisiana has ever seen are staying in shelters, bunking with friends or relatives, or sleeping in trailers on their front lawns. Others unable or unwilling to leave their homes are living amid mud and the ever-present risk of mold in the steamy August heat.
Many victims will need an extended place to stay while they rebuild. Countless others didn’t have flood insurance and may not have the means to repair their homes. They may have to find new places altogether.
“I got nowhere else to go,” said Thomas Lee, 56, who ekes out a living as a drywall hanger — a skill that will come in handy. His sodden furniture is piled at the curb and the drywall in his rented house is puckering, but Thomas still plans to keep living there, sleeping on an air mattress.
Exactly how many will need temporary housing is unclear, but state officials are urging landlords to allow short-term leases and encouraging people to rent out any empty space.
‘Auction’ of NSA tools sends security companies scrambling
PARIS (AP) — The leak of what purports to be a National Security Agency hacking tool kit has set the information security world atwitter — and sent major companies rushing to update their defenses.
Experts across the world are still examining what amount to electronic lock picks. Here’s what they’ve found so far.
WHAT’S IN THE RELEASE?
The tool kit consists of a suite of malicious software intended to tamper with firewalls, the electronic defenses protecting computer networks. The rogue programs appear to date back to 2013 and have whimsical names like EXTRABACON or POLARSNEEZE. Three of them — JETPLOW, FEEDTROUGH and BANANAGLEE — have previously appeared in an NSA compendium of top secret cyber surveillance tools .
The auctioneers claim the tools were stolen from the Equation Group, the name given to a powerful collective of hackers exposed by antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab in 2015. Others have linked the Equation Group to the NSA’s hacking arm, although such claims are extraordinarily hard to settle with any certainty.
S. Korean military pass for Olympic medalists called unfair
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — South Korea’s chance at an Olympic soccer medal gone, forward Son Heung-min dropped to his knees, put his forehead on the grass and wept.
Anguish over the end of a chance at Olympic glory? Without doubt.
But with the loss to Honduras, Son and his teammates had also missed out on what has been a powerful added incentive since the days when South Korea was a military dictatorship: Men who step onto the medal podium are exempted from the approximately two years of military service that nearly all young, able bodied South Korean men, from pop stars to lawmakers’ sons, have to perform in the face of North Korean threats of war.
“I couldn’t stop crying because I was so sorry for letting my teammates down,” said Son, 24, who plays with the English Premier League club Tottenham and who acknowledged ahead of the game that a military exemption was on his mind. “I couldn’t even look at their faces.”
Since the early 1970s, South Korean officials have linked the exemptions to medals, an attempt originally by military strongmen to associate Olympic achievement with national pride and regime loyalty. But there are now growing calls to scrap what had once been regarded as a deserved perk for heroic athletic accomplishment.
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