Thursday, August 27
UPDATE: Stocks finish sharply higher
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are closing sharply higher after China's main stock index logged its biggest gain in eight weeks. A report also showed that the U.S. economy expanded at a much faster pace than previously estimated.
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 369.26 points, or 2. 3 percent, to 16,654.77 on Thursday. That took the two-day gain for the index to almost 1,000 points.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 47.15 points, or 2.4 percent, to 1,987.66. The Nasdaq composite gained 115.17 points, or 2.5 percent, to 4,812.71.
Energy stocks surged as the price of oil jumped 10 percent.
Bond prices were little changed from Wednesday, keeping the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note at 2.18 percent.
Obama visits New Orleans, says city 'moving forward'
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — President Barack Obama has been walking through the streets of New Orleans, on a visit marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
His first stop was Treme (treh-MAY'), one of the oldest black neighborhoods in America. It received significant flooding during Katrina. A cheering crowd welcomed him to an area where homes that were inundated by the storm have been rebuilt.
Obama is offering New Orleans as an example of what can happen when people rally to build a better future after facing an extraordinary challenge.
Obama is also visiting a newly-opened community center in the Lower 9th Ward, one of the hardest-hit areas of the city. It's still struggling to recover.
In prepared remarks, he says the community center "stands as a symbol of the extraordinary resilience of this city and its people."
Katrina caused major damage to the Gulf Coast from Texas to central Florida, and powered a storm surge that breached the levees that were meant to protect New Orleans from flooding. Nearly 2,000 people died, most in New Orleans.
ON-AIR SHOOTING: SURVIVOR
UPDATE: Survivor undergoes surgery
MONETA, Va. (AP) — The woman who survived an on-air attack on a television reporter and cameraman has been undergoing surgery to further repair damage from a gunshot wound to the back.
The Rev. Troy Keaton said Vicki Gardner's husband and daughter were with her, and another daughter was flying in from Portland, Oregon. Keaton is chairman of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, where Gardner works.
Gardner was listed in good condition at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. She was wounded in an attack that killed Alison Parker and Adam Ward.
Gardner was the chamber's first paid staff member when she took the job 13 years ago; now she oversees five other paid staffers.
UPDATE: Station talks of killer's firing
ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — The disgruntled former reporter who killed a WDBJ-TV cameraman and another reporter had no confrontations with his ex-colleagues when he saw them around town in the 2 1/2 years after he was fired from the station.
Station General Manager Jeffrey Marks said at a news conference Thursday that employees reported seeing Vester Flanagan after he was fired in early 2013, but they were only sightings.
He says the station is still at a loss to figure out what happened to Flanagan after he was fired.
Marks spoke as dozens of station employees stood behind him, some of them holding hands. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot to death by Flanagan on Wednesday morning.
ON AIR SHOOTING-RESTAURANT
NEW: Restaurant received rambling letters from gunman
ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — The disgruntled former reporter who killed two of his ex-colleagues wrote angry, rambling letters to a downtown Roanoke restaurant months before the attack.
Heather Fay, general manager at a Jack Brown's beer and burger restaurant, said she received a 15 to 20 page letter from Vester Flanagan three or four months ago.
In the letter, Flanagan criticized the restaurant staff for using the phrase "have a nice day" to departing customers instead of "thank you."
Fay says she noted Flanagan's name and a general description of his letter in her manager's notebook.
Walker: Clinton wrong on gun control after TV shooting
GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker says the proper response to the on-air shootings in Virginia is "more sophisticated and challenging" than the gun control measures Hillary Rodham Clinton has proposed.
Clinton said Wednesday outside of Des Moines that if guns weren't so readily available, perhaps carnage like the killings of WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward by a disgruntled former employee could be prevented.
Walker calls that a political reaction. The Wisconsin governor says the proper response is to increase mental health treatment.
Walker has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association.
GOP 2016-TRUMP AND CRUZ
NEW: Trump, Cruz to hold joint event to blast Iran deal
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are planning to appear together at an upcoming Capitol Hill rally against the proposed nuclear deal with Iran.
Trump announced the event during an appearance Thursday in South Carolina, saying it would be "in the next few weeks."
Cruz aides confirmed Trump's statement. They say that the Texas senator invited Trump to join him at an event sponsored by Tea Party Patriots, the Center for Security Policy and the Zionist Organization of America.
Congress is expected to begin debate on the accord when lawmakers return from recess Sept. 8
Trump, who leads most polls of GOP primary voters, called Cruz a "nice guy."
Cruz has declined to criticize the front-runner for his controversial comments on immigration or any other topic.
Clerk will turn to Supreme Court
MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky clerk who's embroiled in a legal fight over the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples says she will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.
Citing her Christian faith and constitutional right to religious freedom, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has steadfastly refused to issue marriage licenses — even though the Supreme Court two months ago legalized gay marriage throughout the country.
Davis, who refused to grant a marriage license to a gay couple today, said she asked the court to extend the delay of a federal judge's ruling that orders her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The judge delayed the order until Aug. 31 or until a federal appeals court rules to the contrary. Yesterday, a federal appeals court upheld the lower court's ruling.
But Mat Staver, founder of the Florida-based Liberty Counsel that represents Davis, said he believes the judge's order is still delayed until Aug. 31.
PREP SCHOOL-RAPE TRIAL
Jurors begin deliberating prep school rape case
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Jurors have begun deliberating whether a graduate of an elite New Hampshire prep school raped a freshman as part of a tradition of sexual conquest called Senior Salute.
The jury got the case Thursday afternoon after closing arguments and instructions from the judge.
Nineteen-year-old Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, faces six sexual assault charges, three of them felonies. Prosecutors say he raped a 15-year-old freshman in a dark, deserted building on May 30, 2014, two days before he graduated last year from St. Paul's School in Concord.
Labrie contends the two had consensual sexual contact but not intercourse. The girl testified that she "froze" as the events of that night went way beyond what she had envisoned.
Two alternates in the trial were chosen Thursday, leaving a jury of nine.
NEW: US strikes southern Afghan district seized by Taliban
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. forces have launched airstrikes on a district in southern Afghanistan seized by the Taliban the day before.
Afghan army Brig. Gen. Mohammad Rasool Zaizai says NATO and Afghan warplanes struck the army and police headquarters in the Musa Qala district in Helmand province Thursday, likely killing fighters and civilians.
He says it is not possible to confirm casualty figures because insurgents control the area.
Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, says "U.S. Forces conducted airstrikes in Musa Qala today against individuals threatening coalition and Afghan forces," without providing further details.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef says 30 civilians and 10 fighters were killed, but the Taliban often provide unreliable figures. Taliban insurgents overran Musa Qala on Wednesday after a weeklong assault on Afghan security forces.
Governor travels to fire lines to thank firefighters
CHELAN, Wash. (AP) — The governor of Washington state is describing the massive fires burning in the state as a "slow-motion disaster."
Gov. Jay Inslee spoke before heading out to meet firefighters who he said are exhausted but are committed to stopping the blazes.
The fires have burned more than 1,100 square miles -- an area nearly twice the size of Rhode Island. Dense smoke has grounded the helicopters and planes that had been helping fire crews in the region. It's also been causing respiratory problems for people who live far from the fire lines.
Major General Bret Daugherty, who commands the Washington National Guard, is travelling with Inslee. He said as of this week there were about 1,000 guard troops helping firefighting efforts, including 200 people on the fire lines. Daugherty says authorities hope better weather will aid efforts.
Four dead in storm
ROSEAU, Dominica (AP) — A police official in Dominica says at least four people have died in severe flooding and mudslides caused by Tropical Storm Erika on the eastern Caribbean island.
Superintendent Daniel Carbon tells The Associated Press that three of the deaths occurred during a mudslide in the southeast of the island. Authorities recovered the bodies of an elderly blind man and two children from the home.
Forecasters say nearly nine inches of rain fell on the mountainous island late yesterday, followed by another six inches early today.
The storm is expected to move near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today, and be near the Dominican Republic tomorrow as it heads toward South Florida early next week. It's not expected to gain strength in the next two days.
The storm's top sustained winds are clocked at 50 miles an hour.
Puerto Rico's governor says the storm could bring some badly-needed rain -- but that heavy downpours could lead to flash floods. He's activated the National Guard as a precaution.
NATIONAL ZOO PANDA
Remaining panda cub healthy at National Zoo after twin dies
WASHINGTON (AP) — Animal keepers say the National Zoo's remaining newborn panda cub is healthy and was active and nursing through the night after the cub's smaller twin died.
The zoo said Thursday that panda mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) is showing proper maternal care. She's been having short sleep cycles and adjusting the tiny cub in her arms for better positioning and grooming.
Panda keepers say the staff heard strong vocalizations from the cub overnight and observed it a couple of times. The cub is growing more hair. Keepers say it looks healthy with a plump tail.
The smaller of the twin cubs died Wednesday after animal keepers retrieved it from Mei Xiang in the morning. The zoo said the exact cause of death has not been determined.
Trump: 'I swear' my hair is not a toupee
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says his trademark hairdo is for real.
He told 1,800 people in South Carolina Thursday: "It's my hair ... I swear."
The billionaire developer waved a copy of The New York Times shortly after taking the stage, saying the newspaper accused him of wearing a toupee.
Then he called a woman onstage from a front table and instructed her to tug on his hair.
As she pulled, he asked her to confirm that it's real. She said, "I do believe it is," to laughter and applause, and Trump tossed his copy of the Times into the crowd.
Trump leads most polls of GOP primary voters.
NEW: Ex-NBA star Darryl Dawkins, aka 'Chocolate Thunder' has died
UNDATED (AP) — Darryl Dawkins, whose backboard-shattering dunks earned him the moniker "Chocolate Thunder" and helped pave the way for breakaway rims, has died. He was 58.
The Lehigh County, Pennsylvania coroner's office said Dawkins died Thursday morning at a hospital. No cause of death was immediately announced and an autopsy was scheduled for Friday.
Dawkins spent parts of 14 seasons in the NBA with Philadelphia, New Jersey, Utah and Detroit. He averaged 12 points and 6.1 rebounds in 726 career regular-season games.
He was selected No. 5 in the 1975 NBA draft by the 76ers.