Spain presses manhunt for ringleader in dual attacks

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spanish authorities pressed their search Saturday for the supposed ringleader of an Islamic extremist cell that carried out vehicle attacks in Barcelona and a seaside resort, as they looked into links among the Moroccan cell members.

Early in the morning, police searched two buses in northwest Catalonia in the hunt for any remaining members of the cell. Nothing was found in the searches in Girona and Garrigas, police tweeted.

Police also announced a series of controlled explosions Saturday in the town of Alcanar, south of Barcelona, where the carnage was planned in a rental house destroyed a day before the attacks by an apparently accidental blast. Authorities had initially written off the Wednesday night incident as a household gas accident, but took another look on Friday and returned on Saturday.

Police believe the Wednesday night blast, which killed at least one person and injured one of the people currently in custody, actually prevented a far deadlier attack using explosives, forcing the extremists to use more "rudimentary" vehicles instead.

In a tweet Saturday, Catalan police urged Alcanar residents not to be alarmed by the controlled explosions.

___

Trump struggles with presidential duties as uniter-in-chief

WASHINGTON (AP) — For Susan Bro, mother of the woman killed at a rally organized by white supremacists, the president of the United States can offer no healing words.

She says the White House repeatedly tried to reach out to her on Wednesday, the day of Heather Heyer's funeral. But she's since watched President Donald Trump lay blame for the Charlottesville violence on "both sides."

"You can't wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying 'I'm sorry,'" she said in a television interview on Friday.

In moments like this, of national crisis or tragedy, presidents typically shed their political skin, at least briefly. They use the broad appeal of the presidency to unite and soothe, urging citizens to remember their humanity, their common bonds as Americans.

George W. Bush famously climbed atop a pile of rubble in New York City to speak through a bullhorn after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Barack Obama sang "Amazing Grace" during the eulogy for a black pastor killed in a racially motivated shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

___

Trump dumps Bannon, who returns to conservative website

WASHINGTON (AP) — Steve Bannon, the blunt-spoken and divisive strategist who rose from Donald Trump's conservative campaign to a top White House post, was pushed out by the president Friday, capping a turbulent seven months marked by the departure of much of Trump's original senior staff.

A favorite in the farther-right portions of the Republican Party, Bannon had pressed Trump to follow through on some of his most contentious campaign promises, including his travel ban for some foreigners and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement. He returned as executive chairman to Breitbart News, which he led before joining Trump's campaign, and presided at its Friday evening editorial meeting, the news site announced.

Trump now has forced out his hard-line national security adviser, his chief of staff, his press secretary (whose last day will be Aug. 31) and two communications directors — in addition to the FBI director he inherited from President Barack Obama.

Bannon's departure is especially significant since he was viewed by many as Trump's connection to his base of most-committed voters and the protector of the disruptive, conservative agenda that propelled the celebrity businessman to the White House.

"It's a tough pill to swallow if Steve is gone because you have a Republican West Wing that's filled with generals and Democrats," former campaign strategist Sam Nunberg said shortly before the news of Bannon's departure broke. "It would feel like the twilight zone."

___

1 police officer killed, 3 injured in 2 shootings in Florida

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — One police officer was killed and three wounded in nighttime shootings in two Florida cities where the officers were responding to suspected drug activity and reports of a suicide attempt, police said Saturday.

One officer was killed and another gravely injured late Friday night in Kissimmee in central Florida just south of the theme park hub of Orlando. The other two officers were injured a couple of hours later in Jacksonville, one of them shot in both hands and the other in the stomach. Three of four suspects in the Kissimmee shooting were arrested, and the shooter in Jacksonville was shot and killed when police returned fire.

In Kissimmee, officers Sam Howard and Matthew Baxter were checking suspects in an area of the city for drug activity when they were shot, Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O'Dell said at a news conference. They did not have an opportunity to return fire.

"They were surprised," O'Dell said. When asked whether they were ambushed, he said, "It's too early to tell, but it's leading that way."

Baxter, a three-year veteran of the department, died later in a hospital and Howard, a 10-year veteran, was in serious condition, O'Dell said. Both had families, he said.

___

A look at US-S. Korea war games and how North might respond

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — America's annual joint military exercises with South Korea always frustrate North Korea. The war games set to begin Monday may hold more potential to provoke than ever, given President Donald Trump's "fire and fury" threats and Pyongyang's as-yet-unpursued plan to launch missiles close to Guam.

Will the allies keep it low-key, or focus on projecting strength? An examination of this year's drills and how the North might respond to them:

___

THE WAR GAMES

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, which will run through Aug. 31, will be the first large-scale military exercise between the allies since North Korea successfully flight-tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July and threatened to bracket Guam with intermediate range ballistic missile fire earlier this month.

___

Northwestern prof, Oxford staffer extradited to Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) — Two employees of elite universities charged in the fatal stabbing of a 26-year-old hair stylist were returned to Chicago early Saturday to face charges of first-degree murder in the brutal killing.

Chicago police escorted fired Northwestern University professor Wyndham Lathem, 43, and Oxford University financial officer Andrew Warren, 56, from Northern California, where they surrendered peacefully on Aug. 4 after an eight-day, nationwide manhunt.

The men are accused of killing Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau, a Michigan native who had been living in Chicago, last month in Lathem's high-rise Chicago condo. They may appear in court in Chicago as early as Saturday.

Chicago police have said Cornell-Duranleau suffered more than 40 stab wounds, including "mutilations," to his upper body. Authorities say the attack was so violent the blade of the knife they believe was used was broken.

They found Cornell-Duranleau's body July 27 after the building's front desk received an anonymous call that a crime had occurred on the 10th floor. He had been dead more than 12 hours. By then, authorities say Lathem and Warren had fled the city.

___

Icahn steps down as unofficial Trump adviser

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has lost another informal adviser from the business world: billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who gave the White House guidance on its deregulation efforts.

Icahn said in a letter to Trump released Friday that he is stepping down to prevent "partisan bickering" about his unofficial role that Democrats suggested could benefit him financially. Trump lost a pair of business advisory councils on Wednesday over his inability to condemn the role white supremacists played in violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

But Icahn — who made his name and fortune as a corporate raider in the 1980s — indicated that his resignation was due to criticism regarding the appearance of possible ethical conflicts.

"I never had access to nonpublic information or profited from my position, nor do I believe that my role presented conflicts of interest," Icahn wrote.

He added that, out of an abundance of caution, he had limited his input to broad matters of policy about the oil-refining industry. Icahn controls a sizable stake in refiner CVR Energy. As an unofficial adviser, Icahn wasn't required to submit financial records to the Office of Government Ethics to address any conflicts of interest.

___

Cities seek creative ways to prevent car or van attacks

PARIS (AP) — From Barcelona to Times Square and beyond, extremists have used vehicles as deadly weapons with alarming frequency in recent years, whether to promote jihad, get attention or express despair.

In response, ugly concrete blocks as well as more aesthetic deterrents are sprouting up in front of landmarks and ordinary public places around the world. Security experts say such barriers would have minimized the fatal damage wreaked on Spain this week — yet warn that as long as motor vehicles exist, some risks will always remain.

While cars and trucks have been used for scattered violence for generations, the last 13 months have seen nearly a dozen vehicle-ramming attacks in Europe and the U.S., as well as car bombings in the Mideast and beyond. Here are some ways cities and governments are countering the threat:

THE BASIC BOLLARD — AND HOW TO IMPROVE IT

Whether a post dug into a sidewalk or an unwieldy hunk of concrete, bollards are the most common anti-car shield. Impact engineers study the ideal height and shape of such barriers to resist damage from various vehicles. Intelligence agencies are increasingly working with manufacturers on optimal bollard design.

___

Dashcam video shows white cop punching black man during stop

CLEVELAND (AP) — A dashcam video of a traffic stop that led to a white police officer with a history of disciplinary issues repeatedly punching a black man and hitting his head on pavement appears to show a different sequence of events than police had originally described.

The initial statement from police in the Cleveland suburb of Euclid said Richard Hubbard III, who was pulled over on suspicion of having a suspended driver's license, had refused Officer Michael Amiott's orders to "face away" after getting out of his car Aug. 12 and then began resisting. But the video obtained this week in a public records request appears to show Amiott not giving Hubbard a chance to comply, Hubbard's attorney said Friday.

"Your own two eyes and common sense can lead to only one reasonable conclusion as to the propriety of the level of force used for a basic traffic stop and whether or not my client had a chance to comply," attorney Christopher McNeal said.

The dashcam video shows Amiott opening the car door and Hubbard getting out. Within a second of Amiott ordering him to "face away," the video shows the officer grabbing Hubbard's arms and wrestling him to the ground in the middle of a street as Hubbard's girlfriend jumps out of the car and rushes over.

The video shows Amiott bashing Hubbard's head against the pavement several times and then punching him in the head more than a dozen times as Hubbard tries to defend himself.

___

Trump won places drowning in despair. Can he save them?

ABERDEEN, Wash. (AP) — One-hundred-fifty baskets of pink petunias hang from the light posts all over this city, watered regularly by residents trying to make their community feel alive again. A local artist spends his afternoons high in a bucket truck, painting a block-long mural of a little girl blowing bubbles, each circle the scene of an imagined, hopeful future.

But in the present, vacant buildings dominate blocks. A van, stuffed so full of blankets and boxes they are spilling from the windows, pulls to the curb outside Stacie Blodgett's antiques shop.

"Look inside of it," she says. "I bet you he's living in it."

Around the corner, a crowded tent city of the desperate and addicted has taken over the riverbank, makeshift memorials to too many dead too young jutting up intermittently from the mud.

America, when viewed through the bars on Blodgett's windows, looks a lot less great than it used to be. So she answered Donald Trump's call to the country's forgotten corners. Thousands of her neighbors did, too, and her county, once among the most reliably Democratic in the nation, swung Republican in a presidential election for the first time in 90 years.

0