American, Southwest add to US airline industry's 2Q losses

In this Wednesday photo, Southwest airlines employee Oscar Gonzalez, right, assists a passenger at the ticket counter at Love Field in Dallas. In a report, Thursday the government is recommending that travelers wear face coverings during air travel and says airlines should consider limiting capacity on planes to promote social distancing. But it stopped short of making new requirements.

STATE

DALLAS (AP) — Two major airlines reported huge second-quarter losses Thursday, and their leaders warned that the new surge in U.S. coronavirus cases has stalled the recovery in air travel and added to their industry’s disarray.

American Airlines posted a loss of more than $2 billion, and Southwest Airlines lost $915 million. That pushed the combined second-quarter loss of the nation’s four biggest airlines to more than $10 billion.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said he was encouraged by a pickup in leisure travel during May and June after the dark days of March and April. Southwest added flights for July and August.

Then in the last few weeks a surge in U.S. COVID-19 cases caused bookings to fall, Kelly said. Southwest rewrote its August schedule, dropping some flights.

BEIJING (AP) — China said Thursday that “malicious slander” is behind an order by the U.S. government to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, maintaining that its officials never operated outside ordinary diplomatic rules.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the move against the consulate, the first one China opened in the U.S. after the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1979, goes against the basic norms of international relations.

“This is breaking down the bridge of friendship between the Chinese and American people,” Wang told reporters

He dismissed U.S. allegations of intellectual property theft, calling them “completely malicious slander.”

HOUSTON (AP) — A court-appointed monitor for immigrant youth called on the U.S. government to stop detaining children as young as 1 in hotels before expelling them to their home countries, saying the practice could lead to emotional and physical harm.

In a report filed late Wednesday, Andrea Ordin also said there appeared to be a “lack of formal oversight” over the contractors hired by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain children at Hampton Inn & Suites hotels in three cities.

“Isolating a child alone in a hotel room for 10-14 days can have a more harmful emotional impact than that seen in adults,” she wrote. She also noted there was no apparent lower age limit for children held at hotels and that ICE had not issued “consistent or formal care requirements” for young children’s hygiene, nutrition, or well-being.

The Trump administration is detaining and expelling children instead of turning them over to government shelters under an emergency declaration citing the coronavirus. The administration argues it must shut down the U.S.-Mexico border to asylum seekers due to the virus, but advocates allege the virus is being used as an excuse to circumvent federal anti-trafficking law and court-ordered standards for the treatment of children under what’s known as the Flores settlement.

NATION

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a sanction against Infowars host Alex Jones over an angry outburst on his web show against an attorney for relatives of some of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, who are suing him for defamation.

The court issued a 7-0 decision rejecting Jones’ claims that his comments aimed at attorney Christopher Mattei were protected by free speech rights, and upholding a lower court’s ruling that Jones violated numerous orders to turn over documents to the families’ lawyers.

The lower court judge barred Jones from filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, as a penalty for his actions.

The families of eight victims of the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and an FBI agent who responded to the massacre are suing Jones, Infowars and others for promoting a theory that the shooting was a hoax. A 20-year-old gunman killed 20 first-graders, six educators and himself at the school, after having killed his mother at their Newtown home.

CHICAGO (AP) — A collection of Chicago activist groups want a judge to block federal agents sent to the city to combat crime from interfering in or policing protests, arguing in a lawsuit filed Thursday that the surge ordered by President Donald Trump will inhibit residents’ ability to hold demonstrations.

The suit names Attorney General William Barr along with the heads of other federal agencies whose agents are part of the surge plan announced at the White House on Wednesday. The announcement did little to calm some Chicago residents’ fear that the agents’ presence will lead to the violent clashes between demonstrators and federal agents seen in Portland.

Aislinn Pulley, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Chicago, said the federal strategy uses crime as an excuse to “stifle righteous rage and anger at the continued killing of Black people by police.”

“We will not be threatened,” Pulley said at a news conference announcing the suit. “We will not be coerced into suppressing our rage.”

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Recent damage that prompted the temporary shutdown of an Enbridge oil pipeline in a channel linking two of the Great Lakes may have been done by vessels working for the company, according to an in-house report provided Thursday to The Associated Press.

Enbridge this week submitted to government agencies the results of its investigation into “disturbances” that were discovered during inspections of dual pipelines that run across Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac. The two pipelines are part of Line 5, which carries oil and liquids used in propane between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.

The Canadian company said it had narrowed down a list of vessels known to have been operating in the area that might have dragged a mooring cable across the pipelines, bending a support structure and scraping protective outer coating.

Four of the five likeliest suspects were Enbridge contractors doing maintenance or geotechnical work related to the company’s plan to build a tunnel for a replacement pipeline beneath the straits, the report said.

WORLD

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivia’s highest electoral authority on Thursday delayed presidential elections by more than a month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal moved the election date from Sep. 6 to Oct. 18, the third time the vote has been delayed.

The president of the tribunal, Salvador Romero, told reporters that Bolivian and international experts had advised the body that the uncontrolled spread of the novel coronavirus in the country made holding the election in September unfeasible.

The party of former President Evo Morales, who was ousted last year and replaced by an interim president, objected to delaying the vote and insisted that Bolivia’s Legislative Assembly must approve any change in the date.