Trump tweets, hits links before high-stakes Putin meeting
TURNBERRY, Scotland (AP) — Two days before a high-stakes summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump played golf and tweeted Saturday from one of his namesake resorts, blaming his predecessor for Russian election meddling and lashing out at the free press from foreign soil.
Aides had said Trump would spend the weekend preparing to meet Putin on Monday in Helsinki, but the tweets showed other topics were on his mind.
"I have arrived in Scotland and will be at Trump Turnberry for two days of meetings, calls and hopefully, some golf - my primary form of exercise!" he tweeted early Saturday, referencing his seaside golf resort. "The weather is beautiful, and this place is incredible! Tomorrow I go to Helsinki for a Monday meeting with Vladimir Putin."
Trump was later seen playing the Turnberry links, several holes of which are visible from a nearby beach, where dozens of people staged a protest picnic Saturday. He was videotaped waving at protesters as they shouted "No Trump, No KKK, No Racist USA!" before resuming his game. He was also seen posing for photos.
A line of police, some on horseback, stood between the course and protesters. Snipers perched atop a nearby tower overlooking the vast property.
Israel exchanges intense fire with Hamas militants in Gaza
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military carried out its largest airstrike campaign in Gaza since the 2014 war Saturday as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel throughout the day, threatening to trigger an all-out war after weeks of growing tensions along the volatile border.
Two Palestinian teenagers were killed in an airstrike in Gaza City, while three Israelis were wounded from a rocket that landed on a residential home.
Israel said it was focused on hitting militant targets and was warning Gaza civilians to keep their distance from certain sites. But even before the report of casualties the intense tit-for-tat airstrikes and rocket barrages still marked a significant flare-up after a long period of a generally low-level, simmering conflict.
"The Israeli army delivered its most painful strike against Hamas since the 2014 war and we will increase the strength of our attacks as much as necessary," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Late Saturday, Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza announced that they had agreed to a cease-fire brokered by Egypt, but sirens warning of incoming rockets still wailed in southern Israel early Sunday and it was unclear if the cease-fire was holding.
US judge criticizes plan to reunify families split at border
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge, responding to a plan to reunify children separated at the border, said he was having second thoughts about his belief that the Trump administration was acting in good faith to comply with his orders.
The Justice Department on Friday filed a plan to reunify more than 2,500 children age 5 and older by a court-imposed deadline of July 26 using "truncated" procedures to verify parentage and perform background checks, which exclude DNA testing and other steps it took to reunify children under 5.
The administration said the abbreviated vetting puts children at significant safety risk but is needed to meet the deadline.
Chris Meekins, deputy assistant Health and Human Services secretary for preparedness and response, filed a declaration that he is fully committed to meeting the deadline. However, he does not believe "the placing of children into such situations is consistent with the mission of HHS or my core values."
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw took umbrage at Meekins' statement, disputing the official's interpretation of his orders and saying that safe reunification could and will occur by July 26.
Trump's remarks about changing European culture draw ire
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's lament this week that immigration is "changing the culture" of Europe echoed rising anti-immigrant feelings on both sides of the Atlantic, where Europe and the United States are going through a demographic transformation that makes some of the white majority uncomfortable.
Historians and advocates immediately denounced Trump's comments, saying such talk would encourage white nationalists.
"The way he put this argument about changing our culture ... about Europe becoming less nice than it is, in other words, these people are here and they are making the culture crappy and making the place lesser, that's straight out of the white supremacist/white nationalist playbook," said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project.
Trump, in an interview with the British newspaper The Sun, blamed immigration for a changing culture in Europe: "I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad. I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn't exist ten or 15 years ago."
Trump, the grandson of a German immigrant and the son of a Scottish immigrant to the United States, repeated his contention at a news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May:
US official: Russia using social media to divide Americans
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The U.S. homeland security secretary said on Saturday there are no signs that Russia is targeting this year's midterm elections with the same "scale or scope" it targeted the 2016 presidential election.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen spoke at a convention of state secretaries of state, an event that's usually a low-key affair highlighting voter registration, balloting devices and election security issues that don't get much public attention. But coming amid fresh allegations into Russia's attempts to sway the 2016 election, the sessions on election security have a higher level of urgency and interest.
Nielsen said her agency will help state and local election officials prepare their systems for cyberattacks from Russia or elsewhere. She said U.S. intelligence officials are seeing "persistent Russian efforts using social media, sympathetic spokespeople and other fronts to sow discord and divisiveness amongst the American people, though not necessarily focused on specific politicians or political campaigns."
The conference of top state election officials she addressed was sandwiched between Friday's indictments of 12 Russian military intelligence officers alleged to have hacked into Democratic party and campaign accounts and Monday's long-awaited meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump has never condemned Russia over meddling in the 2016 election despite the findings of all top U.S. intelligence agencies, and the Kremlin has insisted it didn't meddle in the U.S. election. In the past, Trump has reiterated Putin's denials, but this week he said he would bring up the issue when they meet on Monday in Finland.
Did S. Korea army plot coup to keep ousted leader in power?
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A group of army generals rolling tanks and troops into Seoul to seize power. Paratroopers firing at large crowds calling for democracy. Tanks and armored vehicles stationed at universities to intimidate student protesters.
Such scenes of military intervention in South Korea have been nonexistent since the country achieved democracy in the late 1980s. But revelations this past week of a document showing the military drafted plans to mobilize troops to suppress protests last year have struck a nerve among people in one of Asia's most vibrant and wealthiest democracies. Some allege the plans even included a scenario for a coup.
The memories of brutal, military-backed dictatorships that imprisoned, tortured and executed dissidents remain vivid to many South Koreans. But most experts say the actual chances for another coup in South Korea are extremely low. A look at the explosive revelations and why a coup is nearly impossible to pull off today:
ERUPTION OF SCANDAL
Crowd gathers after man fatally shot by Chicago police
CHICAGO (AP) — A crowd gathered and a few protesters briefly scuffled with police Saturday evening after a Chicago police officer fatally shot a man on the city's South Side.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said officers on foot in the South Shore neighborhood tried to question a man "exhibiting characteristics of an armed person" when the confrontation developed.
Larry Merritt, a fire department spokesman, said the man was taken to Jackson Park Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
No police officers were injured, Guglielmi said. A weapon was recovered at the scene, he said, but did not say whether the man was armed when he was shot.
A brief scuffle broke out between chanting protesters and police officers holding batons. Video showed several police officers and protesters shoving each other. The Chicago Sun-Times said a few protesters were taken away by police.
Haiti's prime minister resigns amid fuel price hike fallout
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned Saturday amid calls for him to step down over his handling of a failed plan to raise fuel prices that set off a wave of deadly protests.
Lafontant told Haiti's Chamber of Deputies that he sent President Jovenel Moise his resignation letter. Moise confirmed via Twitter that he had accepted Lafontant's resignation along with those of other Cabinet members.
The prime minister's abrupt resignation came ahead of a vote on a motion of censure Lafontant, a first step toward asking that Moise name a new prime minister to form a Cabinet to handle the crisis. The prime minister is the second highest official in Haiti after the president.
Lafontant was to answer questions about the July 6-8 riots that followed the government's attempt to raise fuel prices by up to 51 percent as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund. At least seven people were killed and dozens of businesses were looted during the unrest.
Instead, Lafontant (LA-FAH-TON) used the opportunity to announce his resignation, while in various parts of Haiti's small protests were held demanding the head of state step down.
Firefighter killed in wildfire near Yosemite National Park
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A second-generation California firefighter who was using a bulldozer to prevent a wildfire from spreading was killed Saturday near Yosemite National Park, state fire officials said.
Heavy Fire Equipment Operator Braden Varney, 36, died in the morning hours, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
The blaze broke out Friday night in Mariposa County, near the west end of Yosemite National Park and Sierra National Forest. Fire officials said it had burned about 150 acres (61 hectares).
Varney worked through the night and was driving the bulldozer to cut a firebreak to keep the fire from extending into a nearby community, according to fire chief Nancy Koerperich.
Investigators were working to determine further circumstances surrounding Varney's death, but they believe he was working his way out of the fire area when he was killed, Koerperich said.
Charges undermine Assange denials about hacked email origins
WASHINGTON (AP) — At the beginning of 2017, one of Julian Assange's biggest media boosters traveled to the WikiLeaks founder's refuge inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London and asked him where he got the leaks that shook up the U.S. presidential election only months earlier.
Fox News host Sean Hannity pointed straight to the purloined emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman.
"Can you say to the American people, unequivocally, that you did not get this information about the DNC, John Podesta's emails, can you tell the American people 1,000 percent you did not get it from Russia or anybody associated with Russia?"
"Yes," Assange said. "We can say — we have said repeatedly — over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party."
The Justice Department's indictment Friday of 12 Russian military intelligence officers undermines those denials. And if the criminal charges are proved, it would show that WikiLeaks (referred to as "Organization 1" in the indictment) received the material from Guccifer 2.0, a persona directly controlled by Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, also known as GRU, and even gave the Russian hackers advice on how to disseminate it.