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Nation and World briefs for April 19

Trump targets visa program he says hurts American workers

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Turning back to the economic populism that helped drive his election campaign, President Donald Trump signed an order Tuesday he said should help American workers whose jobs are threatened by skilled immigrants.

At the headquarters of hand and power tool manufacturer Snap-on Inc., Trump signed an order aimed at curbing what his administration says are hiring abuses in a visa program used by U.S. technology companies. Dubbed “Buy American and Hire American,” the directive follows a series of recent Trump reversals on economic policies.

“We are going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first, Trump declared, standing in front of an American flag fashioned out of wrenches.

Much like some prior orders, however, Trump’s executive action Tuesday essentially looks for detailed reports rather than making decisive changes. In this case, the reports are about granting visas for highly skilled foreign workers and ensuring that government purchasing programs buy American made goods as required by law.

Trump chose to sign the directive at Snap-on Inc., based in Wisconsin, a state he narrowly carried in November on the strength of support from white, working-class voters. Trump currently has only a 41 percent approval rating in the state.

UK leader seeks snap June 8 election to bolster Brexit hand

LONDON (AP) — Delivering the latest jolt in Britain’s year of political shocks, Prime Minister Theresa May called Tuesday for a snap June 8 general election, seeking to strengthen her hand in European Union exit talks and tighten her grip on a fractious Conservative Party.

With the Labour opposition weakened, May’s gamble will probably pay off with an enhanced Conservative majority in Parliament — but it’s unlikely to unite a country deeply split over the decision to quit the EU.

May returned from an Easter break in the Welsh mountains to announce that she would make a televised statement on an undisclosed subject early Tuesday outside 10 Downing St. Speculation swirled and the pound plunged against the dollar amid uncertainty about whether she planned to resign, call an election or even declare war.

Since taking office after her predecessor David Cameron resigned in the wake of Britain’s June 23 vote to leave the EU, May had repeatedly ruled out going to the polls before the next scheduled election in 2020. But on Tuesday, she said she had “reluctantly” changed her mind because political divisions “risk our ability to make a success of Brexit.”

“We need a general election and we need one now,” May said. “Because we have, at this moment, a one-off chance to get this done, while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.”

Facebook killer takes his own life as police close in

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — The man who randomly gunned down a Cleveland retiree and posted video of the crime on Facebook killed himself Tuesday during a police chase in Pennsylvania that began when a McDonald’s drive-thru attendant recognized him.

It marked a violent end to the nearly 48-hour multistate manhunt for Steve Stephens, whose case brought another round of criticism down on Facebook over how responsibly it polices objectionable material posted by users.

Acting on a tip from the McDonald’s, state troopers spotted Stephens leaving the restaurant in Erie and went after him, bumping his car to try to get it to stop, authorities said. He shot himself in the head after the car spun and came to a stop, police said.

“This started with one tragedy and ended with another person taking their own life,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams. “We would have liked to have brought Steve in peacefully and really talked to him about why this happened.”

Stephens, a 37-year-old job counselor who worked with young people, was wanted on murder charges in the killing of Robert Godwin Sr., 74, a former foundry worker and father of 10 who was picking up aluminum cans on Sunday when he was shot.

United CEO says no one will be fired for dragging incident

(AP) The CEO of United Airlines says no one will be fired over the dragging of a man off a plane — including himself.

CEO Oscar Munoz said Tuesday that he takes full responsibility “for making this right,” and he promised more details later this month after United finishes a review of its policies on overbooked flights.

Company executives said it’s too soon to know if the incident is hurting ticket sales.

United has been pummeled on social media — #BoycottUnited is a popular hashtag — and late-night television. Through Tuesday, its shares have fallen 4.4 percent since Flight 3411, wiping out nearly $1 billion in market value, although some other airline stocks also declined in the same period.

After the market closed Monday, United reported a $96 million first-quarter profit, down 69 percent from a year earlier largely because of higher costs for fuel, labor and maintenance. The revenue picture was looking better — evidence was growing that after two years of falling average fares, United will be able to push prices higher this year.

John Glenn honored with launch of space station supply ship

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — John Glenn’s trailblazing legacy took flight Tuesday as a cargo ship bearing his name rocketed toward the International Space Station.

An Atlas rocket provided the late morning lift to orbit, just as it did for Glenn 55 years ago.

The commercial cargo ship, dubbed the S.S. John Glenn, holds nearly 7,700 pounds (3,500 kilograms) of food, equipment and research for the space station. It’s due there Saturday, two days after the arrival of two fresh astronauts.

NASA’s shipper, Orbital ATK, asked Glenn’s widow, Annie, for permission to use his name for the spacecraft, following his December death.

Glenn, an original Mercury 7 astronaut, became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. He launched again in 1998 aboard shuttle Discovery at age 77, the oldest person ever in space. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery two weeks ago.

Man gets 25 years in 1979 case of missing boy Etan Patz

NEW YORK (AP) — Almost four decades after first-grader Etan Patz set out for school and ended up at the heart of one of America’s most influential missing-child cases, a former store clerk convicted of killing him was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.

In a few angry words, Etan’s father condemned the convicted man.

“Pedro Hernandez, after all these years, we finally know what dark secret you had locked in your heart,” Stan Patz said. “I will never forgive you. The god you pray to will never forgive you. You are the monster in your nightmares.”

His wife, Julie Patz, wiped tears from her eyes as she witnessed the culmination of a long quest to hold someone accountable for their son’s disappearance. The case affected police practices, parenting and the nation’s consciousness of missing children.

Hernandez, 56, didn’t look at the Patzes, speak or react as he got the maximum allowable sentence: 25 years to life in prison, meaning he won’t be eligible for parole until he has served the quarter-century.

Trump, Republicans face test in Georgia congressional race

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (AP) — Republicans are pushing to prevent a major upset in a conservative Georgia congressional district where Democrats stoked by opposition to President Donald Trump have rallied behind a candidate who has raised a shocking amount of money for a special election.

Tuesday’s primary lumps all 18 candidates —Republicans, Democrats and independents — on one ballot in a race that is testing both parties’ strategies for the 2018 midterm elections with Trump in the White House. Democrats are expected to have a better shot at snagging the typically Republican seat than they did in last week’s closer-than-expected GOP victory in a Kansas special House election.

Trump did not perform as well as other Republicans in the suburban Atlanta district, an affluent, well-educated swath filled with the kind of voters Democrats need if they hope to reclaim a House majority next year.

Republicans essentially concede that Democrat Jon Ossoff, a former congressional staffer, will lead Tuesday’s voting. That leaves 11 Republican candidates hoping the 30-year-old investigative filmmaker fails to reach a majority. If he doesn’t, Ossoff and the top GOP vote-getter would meet in a June 20 runoff.

Five Democrats will appear on the ballot, but Ossoff is the GOP’s greatest threat. He raised more than $8.3 million, most from outside the district. Two independent candidates also are running. The winner will succeed Tom Price, who resigned to become Trump’s health secretary.

 

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