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Nation and World briefs for September 20

White man arrested in slayings of 2 black men in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A 23-year-old white man was arrested Tuesday and accused of cold-bloodedly killing two black men and shooting up a black family’s home in a string of attacks last week that police say may have been racially motivated.

A law enforcement official said authorities found a handwritten copy of an Adolf Hitler speech at Kenneth James Gleason’s home, and investigators said surveillance footage and DNA on a shell casing link him to the crimes.

Authorities said he would be charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of a homeless man and a dishwasher who was walking to work. In each case, the killer opened fire from his car, then walked up to the victim as he lay on the ground and fired again repeatedly, police said.

“I feel confident that this killer would have killed again,” interim Police Chief Jonny Dunnam said.

Gleason’s attorney, J. Christopher Alexander, said his client “vehemently denies guilt, and we look forward to complete vindication.”

One last last chance: GOP strains for Obamacare repeal votes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Time growing short, President Donald Trump and Republican Senate leaders dove into a frantic hunt for votes Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace “Obamacare.” The pressure was intense, the outcome uncertain in a Capitol newly engulfed in drama over health care.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose failure to pass an Obamacare repeal bill in July opened a bitter public rift with Trump, pressed hard for the newly revived effort, which had been left for dead as recently as a week or two ago. But in a sign he remained short of votes, McConnell refused to commit to bringing the legislation to the floor.

As in July, much of the focus was on Arizona Sen. John McCain. Would he step back in line with fellow Republicans now that there was a bill co-written by Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, his best friend in the Senate? McCain wasn’t saying. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another crucial vote, wasn’t talking either.

Republicans must act by Sept. 30 in the Senate, or face the prospect of a Democratic filibuster. That blocking action is currently staved off by budget rules that will expire at the end of the fiscal year. The new legislation, by Graham and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, would undo the central pillars of former President Barack Obama’s health care law, and replace them with block grants to the states so they could make their own health care coverage rules.

“Governors and state legislators of both parties would have both the opportunity and the responsibility to help make quality and affordable health care available to their citizens in a way that works for their own particular states,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “It’s an intriguing idea and one that has a great deal of support.”

Rohingya Muslims are being wiped off Myanmar’s map

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — For generations, Rohingya Muslims have called Myanmar home. Now, in what appears to be a systematic purge, the minority ethnic group is being wiped off the map.

After a series of attacks by Muslim militants last month, security forces and allied mobs retaliated by burning down thousands of Rohingya homes in the predominantly Buddhist nation.

More than 500,000 people — roughly half their population — have fled to neighboring Bangladesh in the past year, most of them in the last three weeks.

And they are still leaving, piling into wooden boats that take them to sprawling, monsoon-drenched refugee camps in Bangladesh.

In a speech Tuesday, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi did not address a U.N. statement that the army has engaged in a “textbook case” of ethnic cleansing. Instead, she told concerned diplomats that while many villages were destroyed, more than half were still intact.

Senate panel invites Trump lawyer to testify in public

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate intelligence committee is asking President Donald Trump’s lawyer to return to Capitol Hill for a public hearing next month after abruptly canceling a closed-door staff interview Tuesday morning.

Committee leaders said they called off the interview after Michael Cohen sent a public opening statement to the media just as the meeting was about to start. Senate intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, issued a sharp statement saying the panel had asked Cohen to “refrain from public comment” and that they would request he return — this time for a public hearing.

“We declined to move forward with today’s interview and will reschedule Mr. Cohen’s appearance before the committee in open session at a date in the near future,” Burr and Warner said in the statement. “The committee expects witnesses in this investigation to work in good faith with the Senate.”

Later in the day, the committee scheduled the public hearing for Oct. 25. Asked if he would subpoena Cohen to compel his appearance, Burr said “I don’t think we’ll need to.”

The Senate intelligence committee is one of several congressional panels investigating Russia’s interference in the presidential race and potential ties to the Trump campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators are conducting their own criminal investigation.

 

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