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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Last Updated Aug 13, 2017 at 8:20 pm PST

Crash suspect’s ex-teacher says he idolized Hitler, Nazism

FLORENCE, Ky. (AP) — The young man accused of plowing a car into a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist rally was fascinated with Nazism, idolized Adolf Hitler, and had been singled out by school officials in the 9th grade for his “deeply held, radical” convictions on race, a former high school teacher said Sunday.

James Alex Fields Jr. also confided that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was younger and had been prescribed an anti-psychotic medication, Derek Weimer said in an interview with The Associated Press.

In high school, Fields was an “average” student, but with a keen interest in military history, Hitler, and Nazi Germany, said Weimer, who said he was Fields’ social studies teacher at Randall K. Cooper high school in Union, Kentucky, in Fields’ junior and senior years.

“Once you talked to James for a while, you would start to see that sympathy towards Nazism, that idolization of Hitler, that belief in white supremacy,” Weimer said. “It would start to creep out.”

Police charged Fields with second-degree murder and other counts for allegedly driving his silver Dodge Challenger through a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, killing a 32-year-old woman and wounding at least 19 other people. A Virginia State Police helicopter deployed in a large-scale police response to the violence then crashed into the woods outside of town and both troopers on board died.

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Experts: Violence the result of political pressure cooker

The videos that rolled across the television screen were startling: Americans beating each other with clubs and sticks on the streets of a quiet college town. White supremacists with torches; anti-fascists pushing back. An improvised flame thrower fashioned from an aerosol can. Bottles of frozen water hurled like bricks at one another’s skulls.

Kevin Boyle, an American history professor at Northwestern University, watched it unfold, the feeling in his gut both horror and a sense that the racial tension bubbling for years had finally, almost inevitably, begun boiling over.

“Given our political moment, I’m not surprised that we’ve come to this point,” he said. “I’m terribly depressed we’ve come to this point but I’m not surprised. It didn’t come out of nowhere.”

Historians and political scientists have been warning that American politics had become a pressure cooker, full of racial tension building once again to the point of a deadly clash, like the one in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday that claimed three lives.

White supremacy has always lurked in America’s shadow, said Boyle, whose teaching focuses on the history of racial violence and civil rights. Then, he believes, President Donald Trump was elected and emboldened their hate.

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10 Things to Know for Monday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:

1. TEACHER: MAN ARRESTED FOR RAMMING PROTESTERS IDOLIZED NAZIS

James Alex Fields Jr., accused of running over counter protesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., had an “idolization of Hitler,” says his high school teacher Derek Weimer.

2. ‘IT DIDN’T COME OUT OF NOWHERE’

American history professor Kevin Boyle and other experts suggest the election of President Trump has emboldened white supremacists.

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Analysis: Why won’t Donald Trump condemn white nationalism?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Why doesn’t President Donald Trump just unequivocally condemn white supremacists?

It’s a jarring question to ask about an American president. But it’s also one made unavoidable by Trump’s delayed, blame-both-sides response to the violence that erupted Saturday when neo-Nazis, skinheads and members of the Ku Klux Klan protested in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump has faced such a moment before — one that would have certainly drawn swift, almost predictable condemnations from his recent predecessors, regardless of party. As a candidate and now as president, when racial tensions flared or fringe groups rallied around his message, Trump has shown uncharacteristic caution and a reluctance to distance himself from the hate.

At times, his approach has seemingly inflamed racial tensions in a deeply divided country while emboldening groups long in the shadows.

On Saturday, as Trump read slowly through a statement about the clashes that left dozens injured and one woman dead, he condemned hatred, bigotry and violence “on many sides.” The president was silent when journalists asked whether he rejected the support of nationalist groups.

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In Colombia, Pence tries to strike balance on Venezuela

CARTAGENA, Colombia (AP) — Demonstrating the delicate balancing act that has come to define his vice presidency, Mike Pence tried to strike a balance Sunday in Colombia between Latin American opposition to possible U.S. military intervention in neighbouring Venezuela, and President Donald Trump’s surprising refusal to rule out that option.

Speaking during a joint news conference with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos shortly after his arrival in Latin America, Pence also declined to rule out possible military action against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, whose efforts to consolidate power in the country have drawn alarm. Still, Pence stressed the U.S. would much prefer what he called a “peaceable” solution to the growing political and humanitarian crisis.

“President Trump is a leader who says what he means and means what he says,” Pence said. “But the president sent me here to continue to marshal the unprecedented support of countries across Latin America to achieve by peaceable means the restoration of democracy in Venezuela, and we believe it is achievable by those means.”

Trump’s startling comments Friday sparked backlash across the region, including from Venezuela’s chief opposition coalition and the Colombian government.

Standing at Pence’s side in Cartagena after a joint meeting, Santos said he had repeatedly told Pence in no uncertain terms that the U.S. must not even consider military action in response to Venezuela’s crisis.

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US officials say confrontation with NKorea not imminent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior U.S. national security officials said Sunday that a military confrontation with North Korea’s is not imminent, but they cautioned that the possibility of war is greater than it was a decade ago.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, tried to provide assurances that a conflict is avoidable, while also supporting Trump’s tough talk. They said the United States and its allies no longer can afford to stand by as North Korea pushes ahead with the development of a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile.

“We’re not closer to war than a week ago but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago,” McMaster said, adding that the Trump administration is prepared to deal militarily with North Korea if necessary.

But he stressed that the U.S. is pursuing “a very determined diplomatic effort” led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that’s coupled with new financial sanctions to dissuade North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from further provocations.

“The U.S. military is locked and loaded every day,” McMaster said, repeating Trump’s threat.

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Will NKorea’s Kim pull the trigger? Possible signs to watch

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Tensions between the United States and North Korea tend to flare suddenly and fade almost as quickly — but the latest escalation won’t likely go away quite so easily.

Events closer to home, including deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia, could demand more of President Donald Trump’s attention in the days ahead and cut into the volume and frequency of his fiery North Korea rhetoric.

But North Korea has yet to back away from its biggest threat: a plan to lob missiles toward U.S. military bases on the island of Guam that Pyongyang says should be ready for leader Kim Jong Un to review anytime now.

Will it all stop there?

Or, despite the extremely high risks, will Kim really give the go order? And, regardless of what Kim does or doesn’t do, will the tough-talking Trump feel compelled to take matters into his own hands?

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North Korean tensions aren’t deterring tourists from Guam

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Tourists haven’t been deterred from visiting the tropical island of Guam even though the U.S. territory has been the target of threats from North Korea during a week of angry words exchanged by Pyongyang and Washington.

Chiho Tsuchiya of Japan heard the news, but she decided to come anyway with her husband and two children. “I feel Japan and Korea also can get danger from North Korea, so staying home is the same,” said the 40-year-old.

Won Hyung-jin, an official from Modetour, a large South Korean travel agency, said several customers called with concerns, but they weren’t worried enough to pay cancellation fees for their trips.

“It seems North Korea racks up tension once or twice every year, and travellers have become insensitive about it,” Won said. His company has sent about 5,000 travellers to Guam a month this year, mostly on package tours.

The U.S. territory has a population of 160,000, but it attracted 1.5 million visitors last year. One third of Guam’s jobs are in the tourism industry.

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Pratt drops in at Teen Choice Awards but Cyrus a no-show

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Teen Choice Awards, always a bubble of teenage celebration, took time out during Sunday night’s ceremony to consider the world its young audience will inherit.

Hashtags, surfboards and loud shrieks dominated the Teen Choice Awards, as usual, with YouTube star Jake Paul presiding over a show designed to be tweeted, Snapchatted and put on Instagram. But with the two-hour broadcast coming a day after the violence at a rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, some winners pleaded for teen viewers to do better than their elders.

“With all the injustice and the hatred and everything that’s happened not only in the world but in our country right now, I need for you young people, I need you guys to be educated. I need you to listen. I need you to pay attention,” said “Spider-Man: Homecoming” actress Zendaya, accepting an award for best summer movie actress.

“You are the future presidents, the future senators,” she added, clutching the show’s trademark surfboard award. “You guys are the ones who are going to make this world better.”

The music performance-stuffed show, broadcast live on Fox from Los Angeles, followed a three-hour “Teen Fest” concert in downtown Los Angeles that was streamed on YouTube.

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Justin Thomas rallies to win the PGA Championship

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Justin Thomas remembers hearing the roar before he ever saw the shot.

He had access to the clubhouse at Valhalla in 2000 as the 7-year-old son of a PGA professional, and the thunder from the gallery reached his ears before the TV showed Tiger Woods making the most important putt of his career at that PGA Championship.

Thomas was barely big enough to dream of playing against the best that day. Now his name is on the same Wanamaker Trophy.

Thomas closed with a 3-under 68 on Sunday at Quail Hollow to emerge from the shadow of Jordan Spieth, his longtime friend, and capture his first major that belonged as much to him as the two generations of PGA professionals that came before him.

“As a kid growing up, you want to win all the majors. You want to win any major,” Thomas said after his two-shot victory. “For me, the PGA definitely had a special place in my heart, and maybe a special drive. It’s just a great win for the family, and it’s a moment we’ll never forget — all of us.”