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AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

Dorian becomes a Category 4 monster powering toward Florida

MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Dorian powered toward Florida with increasing fury Friday, becoming an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm but leaving forecasters uncertain whether it would make a direct hit on the state’s east coast or inflict a glancing blow.

The storm’s winds rose to 130 mph (215 kph) and then, hours later, to a howling 140 mph (225 kph) as Dorian gained strength while crossing warm Atlantic waters. The hurricane could wallop the state with even higher winds and torrential rains late Monday or early Tuesday, with millions of people in the crosshairs, along with Walt Disney World and President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Though Dorian is growing in intensity, some of the more reliable computer models predicted a late turn northward that would have Dorian hug the coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

“There is hope,” Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said.

The faint hope came on a day in which Dorian seemed to get scarier with each forecast update, growing from a dangerous Category 3 hurricane to an even more menacing Category 4 storm. And there were fears it could prove to be the most powerful hurricane to hit Florida’s east coast in nearly 30 years.

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TVs to shoes: This time consumers face pain of Trump tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, until now mainly an abstraction for American consumers, is about to hit home.

Beginning Sunday, the U.S. government will begin collecting 15% tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese imports — items ranging from smartwatches and TVs to shoes, diapers, sporting goods and meat and dairy products. For the first time since Trump launched his trade war, American households face price increases because many U.S. companies say they’ll be forced to pass on to customers the higher prices they’ll pay on Chinese imports.

For more than a year, the world’s two largest economies have been locked in a high-stakes duel marked by Trump’s escalating import taxes on Chinese goods and Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs.

The two sides have held periodic talks that seem to have met little progress despite glimmers of potential breakthroughs. All the while, they’ve imposed tariffs on billions of each other’s products in a rift over what analysts say is Beijing’s predatory tactics in its drive to become the supreme high-tech superpower.

American consumers have so far been spared the worst of it: The Trump administration had left most everyday household items off its tariff list (valued at $250 billion in Chinese products so far) and instead targeted industrial goods.

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Nancy who? GOP targets House Dem ‘squad’ in campaign attacks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Move over, Nancy Pelosi. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the “squad” of freshmen women of colour are emerging as new stars of Republican attacks against Democrats running for Congress.

The tone is being set from the top as President Donald Trump bashes the four squad members with a strategy Republicans are quick to mimic, modeled on his own rise to the White House. Trump set a new standard in 2016, making some Republicans uneasy, by taunting rivals and branding them with exaggerated nicknames intended to make them unelectable.

The GOP is embracing the tactic for 2020.

A first test will be a Sept. 10 special election in North Carolina, the state where Trump sparked the “send her back!” rally chant. The Trump-endorsed Republican, Dan Bishop, is portraying Marine veteran Dan McCready and other Democrats as “crazies,” ”clowns” and “socialist.”

“These crazy liberal clowns … They’re not funny,” Bishop says in one ad that features images of McCready, Pelosi and squad members to a soundtrack of circus music. “They’re downright scary.”

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Utah man found guilty of running massive opioid ring

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man was convicted Friday of running a multimillion-dollar opioid ring that sent hundreds of thousands of potentially deadly pills across the country in a scheme that authorities said helped fuel the nation’s opioid epidemic.

A jury reached the verdict after deliberating about eight hours in the case against Aaron Shamo. The conviction for running a criminal enterprise carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

“He’s 29 and his life is over,” defence attorney Greg Skordas said.

Shamo’s reaction was stoic, the lawyer said. “I don’t know if any of this has come to him yet.”

Prosecutors said Shamo was the kingpin of the ring that peddled fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl — a drug that authorities say can be deadly with just a few flakes — to thousands of people.

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Valerie Harper, TV’s sassy, lovable Rhoda, dies at 80

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Valerie Harper, who scored guffaws, stole hearts and busted TV taboos as the brash, self-deprecating Rhoda Morgenstern on back-to-back hit sitcoms in the 1970s, has died.

Longtime family friend Dan Watt confirmed Harper died Friday, adding the family wasn’t immediately releasing any further details. She had been battling cancer for years, and her husband said recently he had been advised to put her in hospice care.

Harper was a breakout star on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” then the lead of her own series, “Rhoda.” She was 80.

She won three consecutive Emmys (1971-73) as supporting actress on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and another for outstanding lead actress for “Rhoda,” which ran from 1974-78. Beyond awards, she was immortalized — and typecast — for playing one of television’s most beloved characters, a best friend the equal of Ethel Mertz and Ed Norton in TV’s sidekick pantheon.

Fans had long feared the news of her passing. In 2013, she first revealed that she had been diagnosed with brain cancer and had been told by her doctors she had as little as three months to live. Some responded as if a family member were in peril.

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Some states, towns skeptical over proposed opioid settlement

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An offer from OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family to settle some 2,000 lawsuits over their contribution to the national opioid crisis is receiving growing pushback from state and local officials who say the proposed deal doesn’t include enough money or accountability.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong on Friday called for the company, which is headquartered in the state, to be forced out of the opioid business altogether.

“At a minimum, Connecticut demands that Purdue be broken up and shut down, and that its assets be liquidated,” Tong said in a statement.

He said he wants the controlling Sackler family to pay billions of dollars “they siphoned out of Purdue,” with the money going toward addiction research and treatment.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said she wants any settlement to include more money than the $10 billion to $12 billion offered by Purdue and the $3 billion offered from the Sacklers, an amount that represents just a portion of the family’s fortune. Much of their money appears to be overseas .

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Appeals court reinstates lawsuit in SC church shooting case

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A lawsuit over a faulty background check that allowed a South Carolina man to buy the gun he used to kill nine people in a racist attack at a Charleston church was reinstated Friday by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling from a lower court judge who threw out the claims brought by relatives of people killed by Dylann Roof in the 2015 massacre, and by survivors.

The lower court judge found the government immune from liability. The judge said the families’ claims did not fit into narrow exceptions to laws that shield government employees from liability while carrying out their official duties. But the appeals court panel disagreed.

The FBI has acknowledged that Roof’s drug possession arrest in Columbia, South Carolina, weeks before the shooting at AME Emanuel Church should have prevented him from buying a gun. Roof has been sentenced to death for the slayings.

The 4th Circuit panel found that an examiner who conducted the background check on Roof failed to follow a mandatory procedure when she did not contact the arresting agency.

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DNC chairman effectively kills plans for virtual caucuses

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democrats’ plans for virtual presidential caucuses in Iowa and Nevada are effectively dead as the national party chairman said Friday the results would be vulnerable to hacking and abuse.

Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, declared his opposition to plans for telephone voting submitted by the key early voting states of Iowa and Nevada, envisioned as part of the national party’s efforts to increase participation in the 2020 nominating fight.

“We concur with the advice of the DNC’s security experts that there is no tele-caucus system available that meets our standard of security and liability,” Perez said in a statement joined by the co-chairs of the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee.

The Iowa and Nevada parties had planned to allow some voters to cast caucus votes over the telephone in February 2020 instead of showing up at traditional caucus meetings.

The powerful rules committee, which must approve all states’ primary and caucus plans, still must meet in the coming weeks to make the final decision, but Friday’s statement makes clear that will be a formality. The decision removes a potential cause of a flawed count on caucus night that could undermine the integrity of a process that has been criticized even in its traditional form.

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RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan stable after prison stabbing

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sirhan Sirhan, imprisoned for more than 50 years for the 1968 assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was hospitalized Friday after being stabbed by a fellow inmate at a San Diego prison.

A statement from the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said the stabbing occurred Friday afternoon at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility near San Diego.

“Officers responded quickly, and found an inmate with stab wound injuries. He was transported to an outside hospital for medical care, and is currently in stable condition,” the statement said.

The statement did not name Sirhan, but a government source with direct knowledge confirmed to The Associated Press that he was the victim. The source spoke under condition of anonymity, citing prison privacy regulations.

The stabbing was first reported by TMZ.

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Federer bristles at idea he chose US Open time; Djokovic OK

NEW YORK (AP) — There was no slow start to this U.S. Open outing for Roger Federer, who bristled at the suggestion that he might have played a role in some favourable scheduling.

After dropping the opening set in each of his initial two matches for the first time in 19 appearances at Flushing Meadows, the No. 3-seeded Federer was back at his absolute best Friday in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Dan Evans, accumulating a 48-7 edge in winners as the opening act in the Arthur Ashe Stadium day session that began at noon.

Evans acknowledged 20-time major champion Federer’s superiority. How couldn’t he?

But the 58th-ranked player from Britain also thought the timing was “a bit disappointing,” because his rain-postponed second-round match was played Thursday, whereas Federer got to play Wednesday under the Ashe roof.

Being first up on Friday’s program meant Evans had to be back on court about 18 hours after he’d left the tournament grounds.

The Associated Press