Nation and World briefs for July 10

H. Ross Perot rose from poverty to self-made billionaire

DALLAS — H. Ross Perot rose from a childhood of Depression-era poverty to become a self-made billionaire who twice ran for president with a mixture of folksy sayings and simple solutions to America’s problems. His 19% of the vote in 1992 stands among the best showings by an independent candidate in the last century.

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Perot died of leukemia Tuesday at his home in Dallas surrounded by his family, family spokesman James Fuller said. He was 89.

As a boy in Texarkana, Texas, Perot delivered newspapers from the back of a pony. He earned his billions in a more modern way, however. After attending the U.S. Naval Academy and becoming a salesman for IBM, he set out on his own — creating and building Electronic Data Systems Corp., which helped other companies manage their computer networks.

The most famous event in his storied business career didn’t involve sales or earnings. In 1979, Perot financed a private commando raid to free two EDS employees who were being held in a prison in Iran. The tale was turned into a book and a movie.

“I always thought of him as stepping out of a Norman Rockwell painting and living the American dream,” said Tom Luce, who was a young lawyer when Perot hired him to handle his business and personal legal work. “A newspaper boy, a midshipman, shaking Dwight Eisenhower’s hand at his graduation, and he really built the computer-services industry at EDS.”

Trump defends Acosta but will look into Epstein plea deal

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would be looking “very closely” at Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s handling of a sex trafficking case involving now-jailed billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein. But he also seemed to stand by his Cabinet official, praising Acosta’s performance on the job and saying he felt “very badly” for him.

As for Epstein, Trump — who had once praised the financier as “a terrific guy” — distanced himself from the hedge-fund manager now charged with abusing minors, saying the two had had a falling-out 15 or so years ago. “I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you,” Trump said.

His comments came as a parade of Democratic presidential contenders and party leaders demanded that Acosta, a former federal prosecutor in south Florida, resign or be fired over his role in a secret 2008 plea deal that let Epstein avoid federal prosecution after allegations he molested teenage girls.

Epstein pleaded not guilty on Monday to new child sex-trafficking charges . Federal prosecutors in New York accuse him of abusing dozens of underage girls in the early 2000s, paying them hundreds of dollars in cash for massages and then molesting them at his homes in Florida and New York. He could face up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Trump repeatedly praised Acosta, calling him a “really great secretary of labor” and “very good” at his job. He suggested it’s not unusual to find past mistakes if you look hard enough.

“You know, if you go back and look at everybody else’s decisions, whether it’s a U.S. attorney, or an assistant U.S. attorney or a judge, if you go back 12 or 15 years ago or 20 years ago and look at their past decisions, I would think you would probably find that they would wish they’d maybe did it a different way,” said Trump.

UK envoy’s leaked views inspire more insults in Trump tweets

LONDON — U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out at Britain’s ambassador to the United States for a second day, describing him as “wacky” and a “pompous fool” after leaked documents revealed the envoy’s dim view of Trump’s administration.

Trump fired off a series of tweets about Ambassador Kim Darroch hours after British Prime Minister Theresa May gave the veteran diplomat her continued support.

“The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy,” Trump wrote in one tweet.

Darroch’s forthright, unfiltered views on the U.S. administration — meant for a limited audience and discreet review — appeared in leaked diplomatic documents that were published in Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper.

The disclosures have caused embarrassment and an awkward situation for two countries that often celebrate having a “special relationship.”

In his Twitter comments Tuesday, Trump combined criticism of Darroch with a broadside at May, chiding the British leader for failing to get her Brexit deal with the European Union through Parliament.

“I told @theresa_may how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done. A disaster!” Trump tweeted. “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.”

Darroch has served as Britain’s envoy in Washington since 2016. In one of his leaked memos, he said that to communicate effectively with Trump, “you need to make your points simple, even blunt.”

Biden earned more than $15 million after leaving White House

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, took in more than $15 million since leaving the Obama White House, according to documents released Tuesday, catapulting the Democratic presidential candidate into millionaire status and denting the working-class aura he’s developed over decades.

Long fond of describing himself as “Middle Class Joe” while he took in little more than his government salary, the former vice president stressed his working-class roots from the very beginning of his bid for his party’s 2020 presidential nomination. But federal tax returns and a financial disclosure show that since Biden left public office, his income has surged thanks to a lucrative book deal and constant publicity tours that brought in more than $4 million.

Biden’s disclosure showed that he also made at least $2.7 million in business income as part of his publicity tour and writing and took a $425,000 salary from CelticCapri Corp., the business entity the Bidens used for their post-White House work.

Since leaving the White House, Biden and his wife signed a multibook deal with Flatiron Books valued at $8 million, according to Publishers Weekly. Biden’s first book, an account of his son Beau’s death from cancer, briefly topped bestseller lists in 2017. He and his wife have also worked on two other book projects.

Biden earned $540,000 as a professor and namesake of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Jill Biden made at least $700,000 in her own speaking engagements, the disclosure shows.

GOP-led Virginia Legislature abruptly adjourns gun session

RICHMOND, Va. — Less than two hours after beginning a special session called in response to a mass shooting, Virginia lawmakers abruptly adjourned Tuesday and postponed any movement on gun laws until after the November election.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam summoned the Republican-led Legislature to the Capitol to address gun violence in the wake of the May 31 attack that killed a dozen people in Virginia Beach. He put forward a package of eight gun-control measures and called for “votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers” in reaction to the massacre.

But not a single vote was cast on the legislation. Republican leaders said the session was premature and politically motivated. They assigned the state’s bipartisan crime commission to study the Virginia Beach shooting and the governor’s proposed legislation.

In reply, angry Democrats said Republicans were beholden to the gun lobby and afraid of passing commonsense laws they know will save lives.

It was a familiar outcome in a stalled debate that plays out yearly in Virginia on an issue that has divided the nation for more than two decades.

Fresh from the lab: Startups make meat that avoids slaughter

EMERYVILLE, Calif. — Uma Valeti slices into a pan-fried chicken cutlet in the kitchen of his startup, Memphis Meats. He sniffs the tender morsel on his fork before taking a bite. He chews slowly, absorbing the taste.

“Our chicken is chicken … you’ve got to taste it to believe it,” Valeti says.

This is no ordinary piece of poultry. No chicken was raised or slaughtered to harvest the meat. It was produced in a laboratory by extracting cells from a chicken and feeding them in a nutrient broth until the cell culture grew into raw meat.

Memphis Meats, based in Emeryville, California, is one of a growing number of startups worldwide that are making cell-based or cultured meat. They want to offer an alternative to traditional meat production that they say is damaging the environment and causing unnecessary harm to animals, but they are far from becoming mainstream and face pushback from livestock producers.

“You are ultimately going to continue the choice of eating meat for many generations to come without putting undue stress on the planet,” said Valeti, a former cardiologist who co-founded Memphis Meats in 2015 after seeing the power of stem cells to treat disease.

Outrage about killing of black teen over rap music complaint

PHOENIX — Hundreds of people including a presidential candidate spoke out on Twitter this week after a 17-year-old black youth was killed at suburban convenience store, allegedly by a white man charged Tuesday with first-degree murder who has said he felt threatened by the boy’s rap music.

Family members have told local media that Elijah Al-Amin would have turned 18 in two weeks and was looking forward to his last year in high school.

Friends and family hugged Monday at the Islamic Community Center in Tempe, where prayers for the youth were held before burial in Maricopa County.

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A modest makeshift memorial outside the convenience store where Al-Amin was stabbed was still erected on Tuesday, with a pair of white porcelain angels, fresh flowers and burning calendars — including one dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Catholic patron saint of Mexico.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said it filed a direct complaint Tuesday charging Michael Adams, 27, in the Thursday morning killing. First-degree murder carries a sentence of life behind bars or death.

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