Trump isolation growing as business panels dismantled

NEW YORK (AP) — With corporate chieftains fleeing, President Donald Trump abruptly dismantled two of his White House business councils Wednesday —an attempt to manage his increasing isolation and the continued fallout from his combative comments on racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump announced the action via tweet, although only after one of the panels had already agreed to disband earlier in the day. A growing number of business leaders on the councils had openly criticized his remarks laying blame for the violence at a white supremacists rally on "both sides."

"Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!" Trump tweeted from New York.

The decision came as the White House tried to manage the repercussions from Trump's defiant remarks a day earlier. Presidential advisers hunkered down, offering no public defense while privately expressing frustration with his comments.

Some Republicans and scores of Democrats denounced Trump's statements as putting white supremacists on equal moral footing with counter-protesters in Charlottesville and called for an apology. Most of those Republicans, including congressional leaders, did not specifically criticize the president.

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Charlottesville victim's mother urges 'righteous action'

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The mother of the young woman mowed down while protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville urged mourners at a memorial service Wednesday to "make my child's death worthwhile" by confronting injustice the way she did.

"They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her," said Susan Bro, receiving a standing ovation from the hundreds who packed a downtown theater to remember 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Heyer's death Saturday — and President Donald Trump's insistence that "both sides" bear responsibility for the violence — continued to reverberate across the country, triggering fury among many Americans and soul-searching about the state of race relations in the U.S. The uproar has accelerated efforts in many cities to remove symbols of the Confederacy.

Heyer was eulogized as a woman with a powerful sense of fairness. The mourners, many of them wearing purple, her favorite color, applauded as her mother urged them to channel their anger not into violence but into "righteous action."

State troopers were stationed on the surrounding streets, but the white nationalists who had vowed to show up were nowhere to be seen among the residents, clergy and tourists outside the Paramount Theater, just blocks from where Heyer died.

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10 Things to Know for Thursday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:

1. WHAT CHARLOTTESVILLE MOTHER SAID ABOUT FALLEN DAUGHTER

The mother of the young woman mowed down while protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, urges mourners to "make my daughter's death worthwhile" by confronting injustice the way she did.

2. WHERE FOUR CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS WERE QUIETLY REMOVED

Baltimore dismantles four Confederacy-related monuments, as similar ones around the U.S. are vandalized or set for removal.

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SKorea looks to jumpstart diplomacy in NKorea standoff

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — In an effort to jumpstart diplomacy, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday he would consider sending a special envoy to North Korea for talks if the North stops its missile and nuclear tests.

He also declared, amid fears in South Korea that threats from President Donald Trump to unleash "fire and fury" on Pyongyang could lead to real fighting, that there would be no second war on the Korean Peninsula.

"The people worked together to rebuild the country from the Korean War, and we cannot lose everything again because of a war," Moon said in a nationally televised news conference. "I can confidently say there will not be a war again on the Korean Peninsula."

Moon's comments follow a spike in animosity generated by North Korea's warning that it might send missiles into waters near the U.S. territory of Guam, and Trump's warlike language. Both Koreas and the United States have signaled in recent days, however, a willingness to avert a deepening crisis, with each suggesting a path toward negotiations.

Trump tweeted early Wednesday that Kim had "made a very wise and well reasoned decision," amid indications North Korea was still reviewing its plans on launching multiple missiles toward Guam.

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Ousted chief justice makes runoff in Alabama Senate race

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Ousted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is trying to play usurper to deep-pocketed Republican forces after making a runoff with incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in the state's Senate primary.

Getting to the runoff is a sweet win for Moore, who was twice stripped of his chief justice duties — for refusing to remove a biblical monument he installed in a state judiciary building and for resisting federal gay marriage rulings.

And Moore is relishing his opportunity to repudiate what he calls "silk-stocking Washington elitists" as he heads into another clash between the GOP establishment and the party's conservative populist wing.

"They've got a clear choice in this coming election, somebody who represents Alabama values or somebody who represents Washington values. If they want to move this country forward and stop the stagnation in the U.S. Senate, they'll vote for me," Moore told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Strange's campaign got the endorsement of President Donald Trump and benefited from millions of dollars in advertising by a super political action committee tied to McConnell. But he trailed Moore, who rode his horse to his local polling station on Tuesday, by about 6 percentage points, or about 25,000 votes in the low-turnout special election for the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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Charlottesville violence revives painful past for minorities

Bernard Lafayette fought to end segregation during the civil rights movement. But after watching events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend and hearing President Donald Trump blame both sides for the deadly violence, he realized that changing laws did not change enough hearts and minds.

"It was below the surface," said Lafayette, the 77-year-old chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "It was always there. It never left. People are coming out again and expressing their racist feelings."

Minorities who came to the United States in search of a better life or who fought for equality were dispirited to see their fellow citizens fighting to preserve the legacy of the Confederacy and displaying Nazi symbols. And they said Trump's response to the deadly violence only fanned racial flames.

Trump's initial statements on Saturday blamed violence on "many sides." Two days later, he condemned white supremacists. On Tuesday, he lashed out at the counter-protesters who had been in Charlottesville. He also questioned whether removing public tributes to Confederate figures would result in similar treatment for statues of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson — both slave owners.

On the day of the Virginia rally, Lafayette was in Lowndes County, Alabama, marking the anniversary of the death of Jonathan Daniels, a white civil rights volunteer who gave his life to save 17-year-old black girl Ruby Sales. Lafayette, who worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was stunned to see young whites marching with torches and swastikas in 2017.

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Donald Trump's die-hard supporters show no signs of straying

NEW YORK (AP) — They wash their hands of neo-Nazis and wag their fingers at leftists. They denounce a press corps they see as biased and controversies they view as manufactured. But in the frenzied blame game over the deadly violence at a rally of white supremacists, Donald Trump's loyal base is happy to absolve the president himself.

Even as Trump's zig-zag response to the weekend bloodshed in Charlottesville, Virginia, has brought criticism from some Republican lawmakers, many men and women who helped put him in office remain unmoved by the latest uproar.

"He has done nothing to turn me away from him," said Patricia Aleeyah Robinson, of Toledo, Ohio.

Robinson is black and her support of Trump has put her at odds with many in her life, costing her friendships and straining family relationships.

But the 63-year-old retired truck driver sees the controversy over Trump's response to Charlottesville as being driven by those seeking to disrupt his agenda and push backers like her away. She said she knows he pays no deference to racists and feels he is the only president who has ever spoken directly to blacks. She admires his refusal to sugarcoat his beliefs.

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Federal court: Arkansas can block Planned Parenthood money

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal appeals court panel ruled Wednesday that Arkansas can block Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, two years after the state ended its contract with the group over videos secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group.

In a 2-1 ruling, an 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel vacated preliminary injunctions a federal judge issued preventing the state from suspending any Medicaid payments for services rendered to patients from Planned Parenthood. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson ended the state's Medicaid contract with the organization in 2015.

The court ruled the unnamed patients suing the state did not have the right to challenge the defunding decision. The panel did not directly address Arkansas' reason for terminating the contract.

The decision could potentially lead to a showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court over efforts by Arkansas and several other states to defund Planned Parenthood that have been blocked by other courts. In a dissenting opinion to Wednesday's ruling, Judge Michael Melloy noted that several other federal courts have ruled the opposite way on defunding and said the patients have a right to challenge the end of Planned Parenthood's contract.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker initially ordered the state to continue the payments to three patients who had sued over the move and later expanded that order to anyone who seeks or wants to obtain services from the organization's health centers in Arkansas.

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Virginia clashes bring attention to anti-fascist movement

SEATTLE (AP) — The deadly white nationalist demonstration in Virginia has brought new attention to an anti-fascist movement whose black-clad, bandanna-wearing members have been a regular presence at protests around the country in the last year.

Members of the "antifa" movement were among those protesting the Charlottesville rally last weekend. During a combative news conference Tuesday, President Donald Trump did not mention antifa by name but said there was blame "on both sides" for the violence. He said the counter-demonstrators charged at white nationalists with clubs and suggested they also had a hand in escalating the violence.

"You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now," Trump said.

Here are some facts about the antifa movement and those who protested the rally:

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Business execs shunned Trump panels before he disbanded them

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump had pushed many of America's top corporate leaders to the breaking point with his inability to decisively condemn white supremacists — so they huddled on an 11:30 a.m. conference call Wednesday.

The frustrated members of the White House policy forum — which included executives from General Electric, Wal-Mart, General Motors, Boeing, IBM and JPMorgan Chase — chose to dissolve their advisory panel. The White House was then phoned and Trump agreed that it was the right course of action, according to four people familiar with the talks who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.

It was a shocking setback for Trump. The president had reveled in his ability to draw billionaires and corporate titans into the Oval Office, where he touted deals to invest in factories and add factory jobs. But by equating the white supremacists whose actions led to deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia to a group of counter-protesters, Trump had already inflicted damage on his manufacturing jobs council — which had seven departures by Wednesday morning.

So after learning about this latest loss of confidence by his former strategic and policy forum, Trump tried to put a more favorable spin on the defections.

He fired off a tweet Wednesday saying that he chose to disband his strategy forum and manufacturing jobs panel, "rather than putting pressure" on CEOs to stay. "Thank you all!" the president wrote.

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