GM picked as bargaining target
DETROIT — The United Auto Workers union has picked General Motors as the target company for this year’s contract talks with Detroit’s three automakers. The move announced Tuesday means that GM will be the focus of bargaining, and any deal with the company will set the pattern for Ford and Fiat Chrysler. It also means that if the union decides to go on strike, it will be against GM. Contracts between the union representing about 152,000 workers and GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler expire at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14. Earlier Tuesday the union announced that over 96% of its members voted to authorize strikes against the companies. The strike authorization vote is a normal part of the bargaining process, and it doesn’t mean that there will be a work stoppage. But tensions are high in contract talks this year because the automakers are making billions in profits and workers want a bigger slice. The companies, though, want to get closer to parity with foreign automakers with U.S. factories that are mainly in the South. In a statement, the union said 96.4% of workers at General Motors voted to authorize a strike, while it was 95.98% at Ford and 96% at Fiat Chrysler. Picking GM as the target is no surprise because it’s the most profitable of the three companies, and it also has announced plans to shutter four factories in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. The union has pledged to fight the closures at two Detroit-area factories, in Lordstown, Ohio, and near Baltimore. Production already has stopped in Lordstown, Baltimore and one of the Detroit-area factories. “We are focused. We are prepared and we are all ready to stand up for our members, our communities and our manufacturing future,” union President Gary Jones said in a statement Tuesday. GM said it looks forward to “constructive discussions” with the union to build a strong future for employees and its business.
UK’s Johnson suffers defeat
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a major defeat in Parliament on Tuesday night as rebellious lawmakers voted to seize control of the Brexit agenda. The prime minister immediately said he would call for a new general election. The 328 to 301 vote cleared the way for Johnson’s opponents to introduce a bill Wednesday that would prevent Britain from leaving the European Union without a deal Oct. 31. The cross-party rebels are determined to prevent a “no-deal” Brexit because of fears it would gravely damage the economy, and the vote came hours after Johnson suffered key defections from his party, losing a working majority in Parliament. On a day of high drama and acerbic debate in the House of Commons, lawmakers returned from their summer recess to confront Johnson over his insistence that the U.K. leave the European Union on Oct. 31, even without a withdrawal agreement to cushion the economic blow. Many shouted, “Resign!” A new general election would take Britain’s future directly to the people for a third general election in four years.
Walmart won’t sell some ammo
NEW YORK — Walmart says it will discontinue the sale of handgun and short-barrel rifle ammunition and also publicly request that customers refrain from openly carrying firearms in stores even where state laws allow it. The announcement comes just days after a mass shooting claimed seven lives in Odessa, Texas and follows two other back-to-back shootings last month, one of them at a Walmart store. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based discounter said Tuesday it will stop selling handgun ammunition as well as short-barrel rifle ammunition, such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber used in military style weapons, after it runs out of its current inventory. It will also discontinue handgun sales in Alaska. Walmart stopped selling handguns in the mid-1990s, with the exception of Alaska. The latest move marks its complete exit from that business and allows it to focus on hunting rifles and related ammunition only. “In a complex situation lacking a simple solution, we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again,” according to a memo by Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon circulated to employees Tuesday afternoon. “The status quo is unacceptable.”
‘Total devastation’ in Bahamas
FREEPORT, Bahamas — Relief officials reported scenes of utter ruin Tuesday in parts of the Bahamas and rushed to deal with an unfolding humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm on record ever to hit the islands. At least five deaths were reported, with the full scope of the disaster still unknown. The storm’s punishing winds and muddy brown floodwaters destroyed or severely damaged thousands of homes, crippled hospitals and trapped people in attics. “It’s total devastation. It’s decimated. Apocalyptic. It looks like a bomb went off,” said Lia Head-Rigby, who helps run a local hurricane relief organization and flew over the Bahamas’ hard-hit Abaco Island. “It’s not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again.” She said her representative on Abaco told her that “there’s a lot more dead” and that the bodies were being gathered. Emergency authorities, meanwhile, struggled to reach victims amid conditions too dangerous even for rescue workers, and urged people to hang on.
Atmosphere gridlock stalls Dorian
Hurricane Dorian is finally moving. But for a day-and-half it just sat on and pounded Grand Bahama Island because nothing high up in the atmosphere was making it budge. That meteorological gridlock, which slows or stalls storms, is happening more often in a warming world, studies show. Before Dorian picked up speed Tuesday morning, the upper atmosphere had been too calm. While this had been horrible for the Bahamas, where the storm’s onslaught had been relentless, meteorologists said it may have helped spare Florida a bit. Usually the upper atmosphere’s winds push and pull Atlantic hurricanes north or west or at least somewhere. They are so powerful that they dictate where these big storms go. But the steering currents at an altitude of 18,000 feet had just ground to a halt. They were not moving, so neither was Dorian.
34 presumed dead in boat fire
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — No one likely escaped the flames that tore through a boat packed with scuba divers, with all 34 people sleeping below deck presumed dead during a Labor Day weekend expedition off the Southern California coast, authorities said Tuesday as they called off the search for survivors. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said no one has been found alive after the fire engulfed the dive boat early Monday. Flames blocked an escape hatch and a stairwell leading to the sleeping area crowded with passengers on a recreational scuba diving trip. Only five crew members sleeping on the top deck were able to escape by jumping into the water and steering a small boat to safety. The fire that engulfed the Conception is believed to have killed all 33 passengers and one crew member who was below deck, the sheriff said. Investigators have not yet determined how the fire erupted. Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig told reporters that the victims’ relatives “will rely on us to do everything in our power to find out happened aboard that vessel in the last moments of these family members’ lives. That’s our commitment.”
Purchased rifle at private sale
ODESSA, Texas — The gunman in a West Texas rampage that left seven dead obtained his AR-style rifle through a private sale, allowing him to evade a federal background check that previously blocked him from getting a gun, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation. Officers killed 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator on Saturday outside a busy Odessa movie theater after a spate of violence that spanned 10 miles, injuring around two dozen people in addition to the dead. Authorities said Ator “was on a long spiral of going down” and had been fired from his oil services job the morning of the shooting, and that he called 911 both before and after the rampage began. Ator had previously failed a federal background check for a firearm, said John Wester, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Wester did not say when Ator failed the background check or why.
To try universal basic income
STOCKTON, Calif. — Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang wants to give cash to every American each month. Susie Garza has never heard of Yang. But since February, she’s been getting $500 a month from a nonprofit in Stockton, California, as part of an experiment that offers something unusual in presidential politics: a trial run of a campaign promise, highlighting the benefits and challenges in real time. Garza can spend the money however she wants. She uses $150 of it to pay for her cellphone and another $100 or so to pay off her dog’s veterinarian bills. She spends the rest on her two grandsons now that she can afford to buy them birthday presents online and let them get the big bag of chips at the 7-Eleven. “I’ve never been able to do that. I thought it was just the coolest thing,” said Garza, who is unemployed and previously was addicted to drugs, though she said she has been sober for 18 years following a stint in prison. “I like it because I feel more independent, like I’m in charge. I really have something that’s my own.” Garza is part of an experiment testing the impact of “universal basic income,” an old idea getting new life thanks to the 2020 presidential race, although Stockton’s project is an independent one and has no connection to any presidential race.
Won $500K, now alleged burglars
BAY CITY, Mich. — A couple who won $500,000 on a state lottery scratch-off ticket in 2016 has been charged in a string of burglaries. Mitchell Arnswald, 29, and Stephanie Harvell, 28, were arrested last week following a burglary in Merritt Township, about 110 miles northwest of Detroit. Bay County Sheriff Troy Cunningham says the couple is suspected in burglaries in five counties spanning two months. Harvell said in a 2016 Michigan Lottery news release that she and her husband were living paycheck to paycheck before she bought the winning $5 “Hot Ticket” from a Bay City gas station.
Shattering Taliban attack in Kabul
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban on Tuesday defended their suicide bombing against an international compound in the Afghan capital that killed at least 16 people and wounded 119, almost all local civilians, just hours after a U.S. envoy said he and the militant group had reached a deal “in principle” to end America’s longest war. Angry Kabul residents whose homes were shredded in the explosion climbed over the buckled blast wall and set part of the compound, a frequent Taliban target, on fire. Thick smoke rose from the Green Village, home to several foreign organizations and guesthouses, whose location has become a peril to nearby local residents as well. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis condemned the attack, “which, unfortunately, ended the life of a Romanian citizen and seriously wounded another one. I reiterate our profound commitment to combating terrorism at the international level.” “People were screaming and saying, ‘My children are trapped in the rubble,'” one witness, Faiz Ahmad, said. A large crater was left in the street from a tractor packed with explosives. Five attackers were killed in the Monday night attack and some 400 foreigners rescued, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said. The Taliban continue to kill Afghan civilians in attacks they say are meant for foreign “invaders” or the Afghan government, apparently sacrificing the support of the people they might wish to rule, even as the U.S. envoy says the deal with the insurgents only needs the approval of President Donald Trump to become a reality. The accord would include a troop withdrawal that the Taliban already portray as their victory.
Former Navy SEAL enters Yale
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Former Navy SEAL James Hatch says heading to class as a freshman at Yale University is just about as nerve-wracking as preparing for the uncertainty of combat. At 52 years old, Hatch does not fit the profile of the traditional Yale freshman. “My experience in academia is somewhat limited, at best,” he said. “But I want to learn, and I feel this can make me a better person. I also feel my life experience, maybe with my maturity — which my wife would say is laughable — I think I can help some of the young people out.” Hatch’s journey to the Ivy League has been serpentine. He joined the military out of high school, became a SEAL and spent just short of 26 years in the Navy, fighting in Afghanistan and other hot spots.