USA: Stopgap bill to prevent shutdown held up over farm funding

WASHINGTON (AP) — Efforts to fashion a temporary spending bill needed to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month ran aground Friday amid a fight over farm bailout funding that’s a key priority of President Donald Trump and Capitol Hill Republicans.

A House Appropriations Committee spokesman said the measure, which aides had predicted would be released Friday evening, won’t be unveiled until next week. The measure needs to be passed by the end of the budget year on Sept. 30 to prevent a shutdown of nonessential government functions.

USA: McConnell vows quick vote on next justice; Biden says wait

WASHINGTON (AP) — The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just six weeks before the election cast an immediate spotlight on the crucial high court vacancy, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly vowing to bring to a vote whoever President Donald Trump nominates.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden vigorously disagreed, declaring that “voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice to consider.”

USA: CDC drops controversial testing advice that caused backlash

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials on Friday dropped a controversial piece of coronavirus guidance and said anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person should get tested.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention essentially returned to its previous testing guidance, getting rid of language posted last month that said people didn’t need to get tested if they didn’t feel sick. That change had set off a rash of criticism from health experts who couldn’t fathom why the nation’s top public health agency would say such a thing amid the pandemic.

US bans WeChat, TikTok from app stores, threatens shutdowns

(AP) --- The U.S. Commerce Department said Friday it will ban Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat from U.S. app stores on Sunday and will bar the apps from accessing essential internet services in the U.S. — a move that could effectively wreck the operation of both Chinese services for U.S. users.

TikTok won’t face the most drastic sanctions until after the Nov. 3 election, but WeChat users could feel the effects as early as Sunday.

USA: Homeland Security whistleblower not yet ready to testify

WASHINGTON (AP) — A whistleblower from the Department of Homeland Security who says he was pressured to suppress facts in intelligence reports says he won’t be able to testify before a House panel until the department gives him more access to “relevant information,” according to his lawyer.

Trump and Biden hit unlikely battleground state of Minnesota

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — A solidly blue state for the past half century, Minnesota became an unquestioned presidential battleground on Friday as President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden fought for working-class voters in dueling events that marked the beginning of early voting.

Biden would push for less US reliance on nukes for defense

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrat Joe Biden leaves little doubt that if elected he would try to scale back President Donald Trump’s buildup in nuclear weapons spending. And although the former vice president has not fully detailed his nuclear priorities, he says he would make the U.S. less reliant on the world’s deadliest weapons.

Trump shifts on Puerto Rico, releases aid as election nears

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced the release Friday of $13 billion in assistance to repair years-old hurricane damage in Puerto Rico and pledged to restore its economy, setting aside his past bitter treatment of the island and its leaders as he courts Puerto Rican voters in the U.S., particularly in the crucial swing state of Florida.

Guatemalan president tests positive for new coronavirus

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said Friday he has tested positive for the new coronavirus, but he told a local radio station he feels well.

However, in a televised address to the nation, Giammattei looked a bit out of breath.

“My symptoms are very mild. Up to now, I have body aches, it hurt more yesterday than today, like a bad cold,” the president said. “I don’t have a fever, I have a bit of a cough.”

“I am busy working from home,” he said.

Giammattei, 64, has multiple sclerosis and uses canes to walk.

USA: Homes destroyed after winds push California fire into desert

JUNIPER HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Homes were destroyed Friday by an unrelenting wildfire that reached a Mojave Desert community and was still growing on several fronts after burning for nearly two weeks in mountains northeast of Los Angeles.

Officials were investigating the death of a firefighter on the lines of another Southern California wildfire that erupted earlier this month from a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used by a couple to reveal their baby’s gender.

In-person early voting for U.S. president begins in state of Virginia

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- In-person early voting for the U.S. president kicked off Friday in the U.S. state of Virginia and will run through Oct. 31.

Residents have the option of either voting in-person or by mail before Election Day on Nov. 3.

For those who are not willing or unable to cast in-person ballots, absentee ballots will be sent to them upon request. Voters who opt for voting by mail will have to request a mail-in ballot by Oct. 23.

USA: Pelosi to church: ‘Follow science’ on COVID-19 restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back Friday against the Catholic archbishop of San Francisco’s criticism of COVID-related restrictions, saying he should “follow science” rather than advocate for fuller in-person gatherings for Mass and worship.

Asked about Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone’s recent op-ed protesting limits on larger public gatherings, Pelosi, a practicing Catholic, said he should not be putting people’s lives at risk.

“With all due respect to my archbishop, I think we should follow science on this,” Pelosi said.

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