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

In a win for the world, ‘Parasite’ takes best picture Oscar

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Subtitle this: “Parasite” is the first non-English language film to win best picture in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards.

Bong Joon Ho’s masterfully devious class satire took Hollywood’s top prize at the Oscars on Sunday night, along with awards for best director, best international film and best screenplay. In a year dominated by period epics — “1917,” “Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood,” “The Irishman” — the film academy instead went overseas, to South Korea, to reward a contemporary and unsettling portrait of social inequality in “Parasite.”

True to its name, “Parasite” simply got under the skin of Oscar voters, attaching itself to the American awards season and, ultimately, to history. The win was a watershed moment for the Academy Awards, which has long been content to relegate international films to their own category.

Multiple standing ovations greeted Bong’s several wins. “I am ready to drink tonight,” Bong said, prompting roars from the crowd. Unexpectedly called up again for best director, Bong saluted his fellow nominees, particularly Martin Scorsese, and concluded: “Now I’m ready to drink until tomorrow.”

The win for “Parasite” — which had echoes of the surprise victory of “Moonlight” over “La La Land” three years ago — came in year in which many criticized the lack of diversity in the nominees and the absence of female filmmakers. But the triumph for “Parasite” enabled Hollywood to flip the script, and signal a different kind of progress.

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Mainland China virus cases rise again after earlier decline

BEIJING (AP) — Mainland China reported another rise in cases of the new virus Monday after a sharp decline the previous day, while the number of deaths grew by 97 to 908, with at least two more outside the country.

China’s health ministry said another 3,062 cases had been reported over the previous 24 hours, raising the Chinese mainland’s total to 40,171. Monday’s rise was a turnaround from a significant reduction in new cases reported Sunday, less than 2,700, that briefly prompted optimism prevention methods such as a strict quarantines may be working.

“Dramatic reductions” in the pace of the disease’s spread should begin this month if containment works, Dr. Ian Lipkin, director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, said in an online news conference on Sunday. He assisted the World Health Organization and Chinese authorities during the outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Warmer weather will reduce the new virus’s ability to spread and bring people out of enclosed spaces where it is transmitted more easily, Lipkin said. However, he said, if new cases spike as people return to work after the Lunar New Year holiday, which was extended to try to reduce the spread of the virus, then “we’ll know we’re in trouble.”

Deaths from the new virus have passed the 774 people believed to have died of SARS, and the number of cases vastly exceeds the 8,098 identified in that 2002-03 outbreak. SARS and the new virus both are part of the coronavirus family, which includes the common cold but also viruses that come from animals and have caused serious illness.

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Buttigieg on defence as rivals aim to blunt his momentum

DOVER, N.H. (AP) — Pete Buttigieg spent Sunday on defence as his Democratic presidential rivals attacked him on everything from his struggle to connect with black voters to accepting campaign contributions from large donors in an effort to blunt any momentum heading into Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who essentially tied with Buttigieg in last week’s Iowa caucuses, blasted the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, for taking contributions from the very wealthy, suggesting Buttigieg won’t stand up to “Wall Street tycoons” or “the corporate elite.” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren voiced similar criticism, telling ABC’s “This Week” that “the coalition of billionaires is not exactly what’s going to carry us over the top.” Former Vice-President Joe Biden told the same program that Buttigieg hasn’t been able to “unify the black community.”

The volley of criticism was fresh evidence that Buttigieg, who was virtually unknown in national politics a year ago, has become an early front-runner in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. The developments usher in a new phase of the campaign that will test how Buttigieg responds to the pressure, especially as the contest moves to more racially diverse states where he has struggled to gain traction.

Buttigieg hit back at Biden, who on Saturday lamented comparisons between the former mayor and former President Barack Obama.

“Oh, come on, man,” Biden told reporters. “This guy’s not a Barack Obama.”

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Sanders to seek partial recanvass of Iowa caucus results

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign plans to ask for a “partial recanvass” of the results of last week’s Iowa caucuses.

A campaign aide confirmed the plans Sunday night, ahead of a Monday deadline for candidates to ask the Iowa Democratic Party to recanvass the results. A recanvass is not a recount, but a check of the vote count against paper records to ensure the counts were reported accurately.

The state party released updated results on Sunday showing Pete Buttigieg leading Sanders by two state delegate equivalents out of 2,152 counted.

The Associated Press remains unable to declare a winner because it believes the results may not be fully accurate and are still subject to potential revision.

Both Buttigieg and Sanders have claimed victory in the caucuses — Buttigieg, because he holds a razor-thin lead in the delegate count; Sanders, because he has received the most total support overall. But the chaos and inconsistencies in the reporting of the results have raised widespread doubts and prompted sharp criticism of the process by candidates and party leaders, and the field has largely shifted its focus to the next primary state, New Hampshire.

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Families of Thai shooting victims wait for answers, bodies

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand (AP) — Sirirat Nualraksa blinked back tears as the ambulances delivered gurneys bearing cloth-shrouded bodies to the morgue of a public hospital after a vengeful Thai soldier killed 29 people and wounded dozens of others in a shopping mall rampage.

Sirirat lost her sister, brother-in-law and young nephew in the attack. She was among dozens of victims’ relatives sitting in plastic chairs and on concrete benches outside the morgue Sunday, waiting to fill out paperwork to lay claim to their loved ones and receive compensation from the Thai government’s criminal victims’ fund.

On Facebook, she had talked with her sister, 33-year-old Papatchaya Nualraksa, as she hid with her husband and their 2-year-old in a supermarket storage room. Sirirat advised her sister to nurse her son so he wouldn’t make noise and risk revealing the family to the gunman, whose rounds of automatic fire echoed around the seven-story mall.

In a Facebook call, Papatchaya told her sister that she was scared.

“Gunshots could be heard endlessly and loudly. But there was no sign” of a rescue, Sirirat said. Still, “both of us thought that she would be able to get out.”

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Graham: DOJ has process to review Giuliani’s Ukraine info

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a close ally of President Donald Trump, said Sunday that the Justice Department has established a way to review information gathered in Ukraine by Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has targeted Democrat Joe Biden and his son.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Attorney General William Barr told him during a conversation Sunday that the department has “created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it’s verified.”

“Rudy Giuliani is a well-known man,” said Graham. “He’s a crime fighter. He’s loyal to the president. He’s a good lawyer.”

Giuliani is also under scrutiny by federal authorities. That means the Justice Department would be putting itself in the awkward position of appearing to work with someone it is actively investigating to gather potentially damaging information against one of the president’s political rivals.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec declined to comment when asked about Graham’s statements.

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Trump budget to face skepticism, overwhelming politics

WASHINGTON (AP) — Confronted with the threat of trillion-dollar-plus deficits for as far as the eye can see, President Donald Trump is offering a $4.8 trillion budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year that rehashes previously rejected spending cuts while leaving Social Security and Medicare benefits untouched.

Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget plan, to be released Monday, isn’t likely to generate a serious Washington dialogue about what to do, if anything this election year, about entrenched fiscal problems that have deficits surging despite a healthy economy.

The new budget, according to senior administration aides and a copy of summary tables, sees a $1.08 trillion b udget deficit for the ongoing budget year and a $966 billion deficit gap in the 2021 fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

The budget’s most significant policy prescriptions — an immediate 5% cut to non-defence agency budgets passed by Congress and $700 billion in cuts to Medicaid over a decade — are nonstarters on Capitol Hill. But the Trump budget is a blueprint written as if Trump could enact it without congressional approval. It relies on rosy economic projections and fanciful claims of future cuts to domestic programs to show that it is possible to bend the deficit curve in the right direction.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that “once again the president is showing just how little he values the good health, financial security and well-being of hard-working American families.”

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Scarlett Johansson among the bombshells on Oscars red carpet

NEW YORK (AP) — Scarlett Johansson showed up Sunday for her two-nomination night at the Oscars every bit the bombshell in a Champagne-colored Oscar de la Renta strapless gown embellished to the rafters, while fellow nominee Laura Dern brought her mom as she walked the red carpet in pale pink and black.

“Scarlett looked so outrageous in that dress. She was glowing,” said Andrea Lavinthal, style and beauty director for People. “She has looked outrageous all awards season. I think it’s love. I think love is her accessory.”

Johannsson walked the red carpet with boyfriend Colin Jost of “Saturday Night Live” fame.

Spike Lee paid tribute to Kobe Bryant in a Lakers-purple jacket with the basketball star’s 24 on its lapels, though a majority of men went for classic black tuxedos from a slew of top designers.

Dern told The Associated Press that her dress was Armani. The designer also dressed her for first Oscars back in the early ’90s, when she also attended with her mom, Diane Ladd. “It feels really special,” Dern said. “I’m very grateful to them.”

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Gunman ambushes NYC police twice in 12 hours, spawns outrage

NEW YORK (AP) — A gunman was arrested after he ambushed police officers in the Bronx twice in 12 hours, authorities said, wounding two in attacks that brought outrage from officials who blamed the violence on an atmosphere of anti-police rhetoric.

Robert Williams, 45, of the Bronx, was captured after he walked into a police station in the Bronx and started shooting shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday, police said. His shots struck a lieutenant in the arm and narrowly missed other police personnel before he ran out of bullets, lay down and tossed his pistol, officials said.

That attack came just hours after Williams approached a patrol van in the same part of the Bronx and fired at two officers inside, wounding one before escaping on foot, police said.

All of those shot are expected to recover, authorities said.

“It is only by the grace of God and the heroic actions of those inside the building that took him into custody that we are not talking about police officers murdered inside a New York City police precinct,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference.

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‘QAnon’ conspiracy theory creeps into mainstream politics

MILWAUKEE (AP) — President Donald Trump was more than halfway through his speech at a rally in Milwaukee when one of his hand gestures caught the eye of a supporter standing in the packed arena.

The 51-year-old woman believed the president had traced the shape of the letter “Q” with his fingers as a covert signal to followers of QAnon, a right-wing, pro-Trump conspiracy theory. She turned to the couple on her right and excitedly asked, “Did you see the ‘Q’?”

“He just did it?” asked Diane Jacobson, 63, of Racine, Wisconsin.

“Was that a ‘Q’?” added Jacobson’s husband, Randy, 64.

“I think it was,” replied their new friend, Chrisy. The Geneva, Illinois, resident declined to give her last name in part because she said she wanted to avoid negative “attention.”

The Associated Press

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