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  • Photos: A visual look at the 2024 Republican National Convention
    on July 17, 2024 at 11:18 pm

    MILWAUKEE (AP) — Thousands of Republican delegates officially made Donald Trump their party’s presidential nominee just days after he survived an assassination attempt. The shooting hung over the 2024 Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where prominent GOP officials and everyday citizens from around the country spoke to the party faithful. They made their case for Trump to return to the White House and savaged Democratic President Joe Biden with blistering attacks on his record and his mental acuity. Appearing in public for the first time since a bullet grazed his ear, Trump entered the Fiserv Forum with a white bandage prominently affixed to his ear, a visual reminder of the potential tragedy he narrowly escaped. He also made his first appearance with his chosen running mate, Ohio Sen. JD Vance. For Trump, a former reality television star highly attuned to his public image and the visuals he projects, the convention provided a chance to choreograph an entertaining spectacle for his loyal supporters and the voters he’s trying to court. All as supporters in cowboy hats, “make American great again” caps, Trump masks and American flag regalia cheered him on. Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • JD Vance will get his political introduction at the RNC as Trump’s running mate
    on July 17, 2024 at 11:18 pm

    MILWAUKEE (AP) — Introducing himself to the nation after Donald Trump picked him as his running mate, JD Vance is planning to use his Wednesday night address at the Republican National Convention to share the story of his hardscrabble upbringing and make the case that the GOP ticket best understands the challenges facing many Americans. The 39-year-old Ohio senator is a relative political unknown. In his first primetime speech since becoming the nominee for vice president, Vance is expected to recount growing up poor in Kentucky and Ohio, his mother addicted to drugs and his father absent, and how he later went on to the highest levels of U.S. politics. Vance, who rapidly morphed in recent years from a severe critic of the former president to an aggressive defender, is positioned to become a potential leader of the former president’s political movement, which has reshaped the Republican Party and broken longtime political norms. The first millennial to join the top of a major party ticket, he enters the race when questions about the age of the men at the top — 78-year-old Trump and 81-year-old Biden — have been high on the list of voters’ concerns. Speaking at a fundraiser earlier Wednesday in Milwaukee, Vance also said he will drive home the call for the former president to be reelected. “The guy who actually connects with working people in this country is not Fake Scranton Joe, it’s Real President Donald Trump,” Vance said, referencing President Joe Biden. Along with his relative youth, he is new to some of the hallmarks of Republican presidential politics: This year’s gathering is the first RNC that Vance has attended, according to a Trump campaign official who was not authorized to speak publicly. He joins the ticket as Republican leaders have called for unity after Trump survived an assassination attempt at a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday. Yet as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pointed out while addressing Iowa Republicans on Wednesday, Trump choosing Vance was a move toward further transforming the party rather than picking someone conventional to “consolidate” Republicans. “He had time to think it through, and his answer is, ‘No, people aren’t for me so I can compromise. People are for me so we can get things done,” Gingrich said, “and I need somebody who believes in what we’re doing. And I’m not going to reach out to someone who isn’t us.’” Vance is an Ivy League graduate and a businessman, but his memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” explores his blue-collar roots. It made him a national name when it was published in 2016. The book is now seen as a window into some of the cultural forces that propelled Trump to the White House that year. Still, most Americans — and Republicans — don’t know much about Vance. According to a new poll from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which was conducted before Trump selected the freshman senator as his vice presidential choice, 6 in 10 Americans don’t know enough about him to form an opinion. About 2 in 10 U.S. adults have a favorable view of him, and 22% view him negatively. Among Republicans, 61% don’t know enough to have an opinion of Vance. About one-quarter have a positive view of him, and roughly 1 in 10 have a negative view. His wife, Usha Chilukuri Vance, will speak Wednesday night, too, according to a person familiar with the program. Beyond Vance’s primetime speech, the Republican Party focused Wednesday on a theme of American global strength. Speakers were to include family members of service members killed during the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and of someone taken hostage during the Oct. 7 attack in Israel, the person said. Republicans contend that the country has become a “global laughingstock” under Biden’s watch and were expected to hit on their theme to “Make America Strong Once Again.” That’s expected to include Trump’s “America First” foreign policy that redefined relationships with some allies and adversaries. Democrats have sharply criticized Trump — and Vance — for their positions, including their questioning U.S. support for Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s invasion. In a video released Wednesday by Biden’s reelection campaign, Vice President Kamala Harris dismissed Vance as someone Trump “knew would be a rubber stamp for his extreme agenda.” “Make no mistake: JD Vance will be loyal only to Trump, not to our country,” Harris says in a video. Vance has become one of Trump’s most aggressive defenders as the former president has sought the office a third time, sparring with journalists, campaigning on his behalf and appearing with the candidate at his trial in New York. ___ This story has been updated to correct the dates of scheduled speeches from Thursday to Wednesday. ___ Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri, Michelle L. Price and Bill Barrow in Milwaukee, and Will Weissert and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • Trump says Taiwan should pay more for defense and dodges questions if he would defend the island
    on July 17, 2024 at 11:18 pm

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump demanded the self-governed island of Taiwan pay for U.S. protection, dodged the question of whether he would defend the island from Beijing’s military action and accused the island of taking the computer chip industry away from the United States. “Taiwan should pay us for defense,” the Republican presidential candidate said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “You know, we’re no different than an insurance company.” Trump’s remarks, made public Tuesday, add uncertainty to Trump’s approach to Taiwan at a time his running mate, JD Vance, has called China the “biggest threat” to the United States. President Joe Biden has said he would send troops to defend the island. In Taiwan, Premier Cho Jung-tai responded that Taiwan is “willing to take on more responsibility” and would defend itself. In a statement, Taiwan’s de-facto embassy in Washington said it is in the interest of the U.S. and the international community to preserve peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait because it is an indispensable part of global prosperity. “As the threat of military coercion increases, Taiwan is doing its part by actively strengthening deterrence capabilities with the support of the United States under the Taiwan Relations Act,“ the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office said. As the rivalry between Washington and Beijing heats up, Taiwan — an island that broke away from mainland China in 1949 following a civil war — has become one of the thorniest issues in U.S.-China relations. Beijing claims sovereignty over the island and vows to take it by force if necessary to achieve unification. Washington insists any differences be resolved peacefully and U.S. law obligates it to supply Taiwan with hardware and technology for self-defense. In the past several years, ties between Washington and Taipei have grown stronger, as Beijing ratchets up military and diplomatic pressure on the island. Last month, the Biden administration approved a $360 million weapons sale to Taiwan, sending the island hundreds of armed drones, missile equipment and related support material. Taiwan pays for the military equipment. Citing the arms sale and other unspecified U.S. moves to undermine Beijing’s interests and trust between the two countries, China’s foreign ministry announced Wednesday it was canceling talks with the U.S. on arms control and nonproliferation. “The responsibility full lies with the U.S.,” said Lin Jian, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry. In the interview, Trump said he didn’t feel “so secure” over the Taiwan Strait, where Beijing has “been very aggressive and got ships all over the place.” He suggested that China could easily take over the island but has not done so because of Taiwan’s prized semiconductor industry, which make the computer chips that power everything from smartphones to cars and satellites. “That’s the apple of President Xi’s eye,” Trump said, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping. He suggested that Taiwan has a stranglehold on the computer chip industry over the U.S. and because of that, it has the means to pay. “I mean, how stupid are we? They took all of our chip business. They’re immensely wealthy,” Trump said. Rep. Michael McCaul, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Taiwan “a perfect example of what we want all our allies to do,” as demanded by Trump. “They have consistently been one of the biggest buyers of U.S. weapons for its defense,” said McCaul, a Republican, who travelled to Taiwan last month to affirm the U.S. support for the island. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat, accused the former president of betraying Taiwan. “Former President Trump’s threat to abandon our nation’s longstanding, bipartisan commitments to Taiwan would mean betraying one of the world’s most vibrant democracies to the Chinese Communist Party,” said Krishnamoorthi, ranking member of the House Select Committee on China. “Failing to provide for Taiwan’s defense would not only be potentially illegal under the Taiwan Relations Act, it would be a betrayal of American values and our democratic institutions,” he added. Trump “did not say the U.S. won’t defend Taiwan,” said Miles Yu, who previously served in the Trump administration and is director of the China Center at the Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank. The former president said Taiwan should share more of the costs for such a collective defense, which is “far less of a problem” for Taiwan than for other U.S. allies in the region, he said. “The defense of Taiwan is enshrined in the Taiwan Relations Act,” Yu said. “The joint defense of Taiwan is a national consensus. To change that will be extremely difficult.” But, compared to Biden, Trump would place “utmost importance” on building credible deterrence over Taiwan, Yu said, adding Trump has said he would “bomb” Beijing if it should invade Taiwan. Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • Delay of Texas death row inmate’s execution has not been the norm for Supreme Court, experts say
    on July 17, 2024 at 11:18 pm

    HOUSTON (AP) — Texas inmate Ruben Gutierrez had spent some of the hours leading up to his scheduled execution Tuesday evening talking with his wife and attorney before being eventually transferred to a holding cell at the state prison in Huntsville to await his lethal injection. But about 20 minutes before he was to be taken into the nearby death chamber, the prison warden told Gutierrez the U.S. Supreme Court had granted him an execution stay. Gutierrez prayed with a prison chaplain and said, “God is great! I wasn’t expecting this.” Gutierrez’s wife and lawyer were overjoyed over the high court’s decision while family members of the 85-year-old South Texas woman he was convicted of fatally stabbing decades ago said they were devasted by the delay. Gutierrez had received a similar last-minute stay in 2020. The granting of 11th-hour reprieves for death row inmates has been rare from the Supreme Court, with a majority of justices expressing skepticism and even hostility to such requests, according to experts. Here are some things to know about Gutierrez’s case and the Supreme Court’s history with last-minute requests to stay executions: Gutierrez was sent to death row after being convicted of capital murder for the 1998 killing of Escolastica Harrison at her home in Brownsville in Texas’ southern tip. Prosecutors said the killing of the mobile home park manager and retired teacher was part of an attempt to steal more than $600,000 she had hidden in her home because of her mistrust of banks. Gutierrez has sought DNA testing for more than a decade that he claims would help prove he had no role in her death. His attorneys have said there’s no physical or forensic evidence connecting him to the killing. Two others also were charged in the case. Prosecutors have said the request for DNA testing is a delay tactic and Gutierrez was convicted on various pieces of evidence, including a confession in which he admitted to planning the robbery. Gutierrez was convicted under Texas’ law of parties, which says a person can be held liable for the actions of others if they assist or encourage the commission of a crime. “The fact that the court stepped in and stopped this execution will give us the opportunity to try to convince other actors in the state to allow us to do the testing that we’ve been asking for forever,” said Shawn Nolan, one of Gutierrez’s attorneys. Nolan said such execution delays by the Supreme Court are rare. Robin M. Maher, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said Wednesday that out of 26 requests to stay executions that were submitted last year to the Supreme Court, only one was granted. A 2023 analysis by Bloomberg Law found that of the 270 emergency stays filed by death row inmates in the U.S. between 2013 and 2023, only 11, or 4%, were granted by the high court, she said. In a 2019 ruling by the Supreme Court denying Missouri inmate Russell Bucklew’s request to stop his execution, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “Last-minute stays should be the extreme exception, not the norm.” Maher said Gorsuch’s statement has been used by state prosecutors in pro-death penalty states to push back against efforts to give inmates and their lawyers more time in their cases. “I think the majority at the Supreme Court views requests for stays of execution with deep suspicion and even hostility,” said Maher, whose Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit takes no position on capital punishment but has criticized the way states carry out executions. Nolan said being minutes from execution on two different occasions within the last four years has taken a psychological toll on Gutierrez, who had spent part of Tuesday meeting with his family for what he thought was the final time. “We all think about our own end of life in very difficult ways, or psychological, emotional ways. That’s certainly how Ruben has tried to deal with this,” Nolan said. Maher said what Gutierrez has now twice experienced in being minutes away from death is a form of torture. Harrison’s family, along with Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz, expressed frustration with the delay. “It’s just devastating news, you know? It’s already been over two and a half decades waiting for this to happen,” Alex Hernandez, Harrison’s nephew, told KRGV. Maher said she understands the frustration of the victim’s family but the delay is necessary to hopefully allow for the DNA testing so “that no one is executed that doesn’t deserve that sentence.” Nolan said if the Supreme Court decides to accept Gutierrez’s case, it will be argued before the justices. If the high court declines it, the stay will be vacated and prosecutors could ask the trial judge in the case for a new execution date. By Texas law, a new date would have to be set three months out from when a judge would enter a new order. ___ Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70 Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • Stegosaurus fossil fetches nearly $45M, setting record for dinosaur auctions
    on July 17, 2024 at 11:18 pm

    NEW YORK (AP) — The nearly complete fossilized remains of a stegosaurus fetched $44.6 million at auction Wednesday, Sotheby’s said. The buyer’s name was not disclosed. The fossil, dubbed “Apex,” is considered to be among the most complete ever found, according to the auction house. The price blew past a pre-sale estimate of $4 million to $6 million and past a prior auction record for dinosaur fossils — $31.8 million for the remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex nicknamed Stan, sold in 2020. Apex “has now taken its place in history, some 150 million years since it roamed the planet,” said Cassandra Hatton, who heads Sotheby’s science-related business. Dinosaur fossil sales stir some frustration among academic paleontologists who feel the specimens belong in museums or research centers that can’t afford huge auction prices. Sotheby’s said the anonymous buyer is American and intends to look into loaning Apex to an institution in the U.S. The purchaser beat out six other bidders. The stegosaurus was one of the world’s most distinctive dinosaurs, featuring pointy plates on its back. Hatton has called Apex “a coloring book dinosaur,” for its well-preserved features. Eleven feet (3.3 meters) tall and 27 feet (8.2 meters) nose to tail, Apex was a big stegosaurus that lived long enough to show signs of arthritis, Sotheby’s said. A commercial paleontologist named Jason Cooper discovered the fossil in 2022 on his property near, perhaps unsurprisingly, the town of Dinosaur, Colorado. The tiny community is near Dinosaur National Monument and the Utah border. Brought to you by www.srnnews.com