Trump Clears Way for Local Police to Obtain Military Gear SADIE GURMAN

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, is applauded at the Fraternal Order of Police convention Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Sessions said President Donald Trump will revive a program that provides local police departments with surplus military equipment such as high-caliber weapons and grenade launchers. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Local police departments will soon have access to grenade launchers, high-caliber weapons and other surplus U.S. military gear after President Donald Trump signed an order Monday reviving a Pentagon program that civil rights groups say inflames tensions between officers and their communities.

President Barack Obama had sharply curtailed the program in 2015 amid an outcry over the heavily-armed police response to protesters after several police killings of black men in Ferguson, Missouri and other cities. The Trump administration maintains the program is needed to protect public safety and support state and local police.

Restoring the program will “ensure that you can get the lifesaving gear that you need to do your job,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a cheering crowd at a national convention of the Fraternal Order of Police in Nashville, Tennessee. The group, America’s largest organization of rank-and-file officers, endorsed Trump for president after he promised to revamp the program.

Sessions said restrictions imposed by Obama went too far. “We will not put superficial concerns above public safety,” he said.

In issuing the order, Trump is fulfilling a campaign pledge made as he depicted crime as rampant and police forces undercut by unfair criticism, with Obama failing to support them sufficiently. Trump, feeling increasingly under attack in recent weeks, has been doubling down on appeals to core supporters. Last week, he pardoned the controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been found guilty of defying a judge’s order to stop racially profiling Latinos.

Sessions has been steadily restoring tough-on-crime policies while reshaping the way his Justice Department enforces civil rights law, particularly in the areas of policing, in ways that have made advocates nervous.

Civil liberties groups and some lawmakers assailed Trump’s order as a sign of the militarization of local police, arguing that the equipment encourages and escalates violent confrontations with officers.

“Tensions between law enforcement and communities remain high, yet the president and the attorney general are giving the police military-grade weaponry instead of practical, effective ways to protect and serve everyone,” said Kanya Bennett, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky called the plan a dangerous expansion of government power that would “subsidize militarization.” Another Republican, Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, said the program “incentivizes the militarization of local police departments, as they are encouraged to grab more equipment than they need.”

But in Newberry County, South Carolina, Sheriff Lee Foster said his department wouldn’t be able to afford equipment like night-vision goggles or ballistic helmets on its own. His deputies wouldn’t need body armor or riot shields daily, he said, but the items could save their lives in a rapidly unfolding situation.

“I don’t know of any police officer that would roam around with a Kevlar helmet on his head during routine situations,” Foster said. “The right to have access to this stuff doesn’t mean you’ve militarized your agency.”

Congress authorized the program in 1990, allowing police to receive surplus equipment to help fight drugs, which then gave way to the fight against terrorism. Agencies requested and received everything from camouflage uniforms and bullet-proof vests to firearms, bayonets and drones. More than $5 billion in surplus equipment has been given to agencies.

Obama put limits on the program in 2015, partly triggered by public outrage over the use of military gear during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Police responded in riot gear and deployed tear gas, dogs and armored vehicles. At times, they also pointed assault rifles at protesters. The Justice Department under then-Attorney General Eric Holder blamed the militarized response for exacerbating tensions with the community.

Obama’s order prohibited the government from providing grenade launchers, bayonets, tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, and firearms and ammunition of .50-caliber or greater to police.

That frustrated some law enforcement groups who see the gear as needed to protect officers responding to active shooter calls and terrorist attacks. An armored vehicle played a key role in the police response to the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

The Defense Logistics Agency, which manages the program, recalled at least 138 grenade launchers, more than 1,623 bayonets and 126 tracked vehicles — those that run on continuous, tank-like tracks instead of wheels. The agency declined to comment Monday, saying it had not yet received information on the order.

The new order largely lets local agencies set their own controls and rules governing use of the equipment.

Several states have enacted laws restricting police departments from obtaining surplus military equipment. Those state laws will remain in place even as Trump loosens federal rules.

The plan to restore access to military equipment comes after Sessions has said he intends to pull back on court-enforceable plans to resolve allegations of pervasive civil rights violations. Sessions they can malign entire agencies and make officers less aggressive on the street.

He has also revived a widely criticized form of asset forfeiture that lets local police seize cash and property with federal help.

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Associated Press writers Erik Schelzig in Nashville, Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina and David Lieb in Jefferson City, Missouri contributed to this report.

Aston Martin trying to mitigate Brexit risk with U.S. sales drive

LONDON — Aston Martin is trying to boost its market share in the United States and Japan to mitigate against any risks from Brexit which could add costs and delays to sales to the European Union, CEO Andy Palmer said.

Around 20 percent of the company’s top-end cars are currently exported to the U.S. whilst 15 percent are sold to the EU, with whom unfettered tariff-free trade is at risk depending on the outcome of Brexit talks.

Palmer said the automaker has invested resources into boosting demand in the world’s biggest economy since the June 23 Brexit vote last year.

“We decided to invest money in marketing in the U.S,” the CEO told Reuters on Friday. “We are trying to give a push in the U.S. to increase our market share there, increase our volumes there (and) therefore decrease our reliance on Europe,” Palmer said. “To some extent, that would be true also of Japan.”

The automaker, which posted record first-half pre-tax profit on Friday, will boost its global volumes by around a third to roughly 5,000 cars this year.

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Cadillac alters Super Cruise rollout, launches ad campaign

DETROIT — Cadillac has altered its launch strategy for the Super Cruise semiautonomous driving system scheduled to debut this fall on high-end trims of the 2018 Cadillac CT6.

The technology will launch in the coming months as standard on the top-end Cadillac CT6 Platinum, which has a starting price without the system of $85,290, including shipping. It will be optional on the Premium Luxury trim.

Super Cruise was initially supposed to be a $2,500 option on the two trims. However, a Cadillac spokesman on Monday told Automotive News that the company has changed those plans.

He said updated pricing for the Platinum trim and optional system for the Premium Luxury trim will be announced closer to the vehicles’ arrival in dealerships. They will be part of an interim model-year addition that Cadillac is calling “2018i.”

MTV awards

The General Motors luxury brand wants to position the long-awaited Super Cruise system as the leader in emerging semiautonomous driving.

Cadillac launched an advertising campaign for the system Sunday night during the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, calling Super Cruise “the world’s first true hands-free driving system for the freeway” — taking shots at systems on the market, including Tesla Inc.’s Autopilot.

The Cadillac system works similar to available systems in that it controls steering, braking and acceleration in certain situations. It allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and feet off the pedals while driving.

But Cadillac’s system has additional safety measures that monitor facial cues and pupils; if the system senses the driver is sleeping or not paying attention, it sends alerts, including audio warnings and a light bar on the steering wheel.

Super Cruise also uses precision lidar map data. If the driver does not take control of the vehicle after receiving alerts, the system will safely stop the vehicle.

“It’s been very carefully thought out from a safety standpoint,” GM product chief Mark Reuss told reporters in Detroit. “If you think about this from a pure safety standpoint, it’s really a driver load reduction.”

Reuss, GM executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain, said the system will eventually expand to other Cadillac vehicles and brands within GM.

“We will get to the point,” he said in response to a question about expanding the system. “Cadillac is going to lead the way on all this.”

Ads

Three new Cadillac ads aired Sunday night during the MTV awards broadcast, including two for Super Cruise and another heritage-inspired ad featuring Cadillac references in music. All three can be viewed on the brand’s YouTube channel.

The 30-second Super Cruise ads introduced “Let Go,” a tag line and social media hashtag for Super Cruise. It remains part of Cadillac’s larger “Dare Greatly” campaign that debuted in 2015.

One Super Cruise ad artistically discusses people “letting go” of fear, rules and the odds to “begin to dare.” The other shows a driver and passenger using sign language to have a conversation.

BMW adds sport model to i3 family

The 2018 BMW i3s will be on sale in U.S. dealerships by year end. It joins the base i3 that is freshened for the 2018 model year.

The i3s has more power than the base i3 and styling tweaks that differentiate it from the base model. Design changes include front and rear aprons with i3s-specific contours and special color accents in various spots across the vehicle. It has 20-inch wheels that are exclusive to the i3s and a sports suspension that includes a 0.4-inch drop in height.

The electric motor in the i3s puts out 184 hp and 199 pounds-feet of torque. Photo credit: BMW

The electric motor in the i3s puts out 184 hp and 199 pounds-feet of torque. That’s up from 170 hp and 184 pounds-feet in the base model. BMW says the enhanced drive system in the i3s translates to power and torque improvements of up to 40 percent over the base i3.

For 2018, the base i3 also gets a wider track and design changes to give it a sportier appearance. The i3 originally went on sale in 2014. BMW sold 7,625 i3s in the U.S. last year, down 31 percent from the nameplate’s 2015 peak.

Both the 2017 and 2018 models include an optional range-extending gasoline engine.

The 94Ah battery in the 2018 model is expected to be similar to the 2017 model, which has a stated range of 114 miles.

BMW says EPA ratings have not yet been released for the 2018 models and the company is unable to provide any information on battery range.

Automotive News has reported that a bigger battery with significantly longer range — close to 200 miles — will be available on the i3 by the end of the 2018.

Both 2018 BMW i3 models will be unveiled publicly in September at the Frankfurt auto show. Prices of the new models will be announced closer to their on-sale dates.