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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

April 05, 2018 - 8:04 PM

Poisoned daughter better as UK-Russia dispute at UN worsens

LONDON (AP) — The daughter of a former Russian spy poisoned by a nerve agent said Thursday in her first public comment that she's recovering even as the international furor over the attack intensified, with Russia warning Britain it is "playing with fire."

At the United Nations, Russia claimed that intelligence services of other countries were probably behind the attack. But Britain's U.N. Ambassador Karen Piece shot back that Russia has come up with 24 theories on who bears responsibility for the poisoning, but the United Kingdom has only one — that it's highly likely Russia was responsible.

Yulia Skripal, 33, said in a statement released by British police that her "strength is growing daily" and she expressed gratitude to those who came to her aid when she and her father, Sergei, were found unconscious on a bench a month ago.

"I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you'll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence," she said.

The hospital in the English city of Salisbury confirmed that Yulia's health has improved, while her 66-year-old father, Sergei Skripal, remains in critical condition.

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Trump proposes $100 billion in new tariffs on Chinese goods

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump instructed the U.S. trade representative to consider slapping an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods on Thursday in a dramatic escalation of the trade dispute between the two countries.

Trump's surprise move came a day after Beijing announced plans to tax $50 billion in American products, including soybeans and small aircraft, in response to a U.S. move this week to slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports.

And it intensified what was already shaping up to be the biggest trade battle since World War II. Global financial markets had fallen sharply as the world's two biggest economies squared off over Beijing's aggressive trade tactics. But they had calmed down Wednesday and Thursday on hopes the U.S. and China would find a diplomatic solution.

Instead, the White House announced after the markets closed Thursday that Trump had instructed the Office of the United States Trade Representative to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate and, if so, to identify which products they should apply to. He's also instructed his secretary of agriculture "to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests."

"China's illicit trade practices — ignored for years by Washington — have destroyed thousands of American factories and millions of American jobs," Trump said in a statement announcing the decision.

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Going off script, Trump bashes immigration at tax cut event

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) — Tossing his "boring" prepared remarks into the air, President Donald Trump on Thursday unleashed a fierce denunciation of the nation's immigration policies, calling for tougher border security while repeating his unsubstantiated claim that "millions" of people voted illegally in California.

Trump was in West Virginia to showcase the benefits of Republican tax cuts, but he took a big and meandering detour to talk about his tough immigration and trade plans. He linked immigration with the rise of violent gangs like MS-13 and suggested anew that there had been widespread fraud in the 2016 election.

"In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that," Trump said. "They always like to say, 'Oh, that's a conspiracy theory.' Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people. And it's very hard because the state guards their records. They don't want us" to see them.

While there have been isolated cases of voter fraud in the U.S., past studies have found it to be exceptionally rare.

Trump initially claimed last year that widespread voting fraud had occurred in what appeared to be a means of explaining away his popular-vote defeat. Earlier this year the White House disbanded a controversial voter fraud commission amid infighting and lawsuits as state officials refused to co-operate.

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10 Things to Know for Friday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:

1. TRUMP GIVES SOME DETAILS ON BORDER DEPLOYMENTS

He says up to 4,000 National Guard troops would be sent to the border with Mexico, but hasn't said whether they will be armed or which states would send them.

2. TRUMP GOES OFF SCRIPT IN WEST VIRGINIA

He was expected to talk about tax cuts, but instead revived disproven claims about voter fraud and linked immigration to an increase in violence and rapes.

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Trump: 2,000-4,000 troops needed for Mexico border security

PHOENIX (AP) — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he wants to send between 2,000 and 4,000 National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border to help federal officials fight illegal immigration and drug trafficking, but it wasn't clear who would be called up or if they would even be allowed to carry guns.

Trump's comments to reporters on Air Force One were his first estimate on guard levels he believes are needed for border protection. It is lower than the 6,400 National Guard members that former President George Bush sent to the border between 2006 and 2008.

Trump said his administration is looking into the cost of sending the troops to the border and added "we'll probably keep them or a large portion of them until the wall is built."

Earlier Thursday, Ronald Vitiello, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's acting deputy commissioner, cautioned against a rushed deployment.

"We are going to do it as quickly as we can do it safely," Vitiello told Fox News Channel.

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Arrest warrant issued for former Brazilian president 'Lula'

SAO PAULO (AP) — A Brazilian judge issued an arrest warrant on Thursday for former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, dealing a major blow to the once wildly popular leader who was trying to mount a political comeback ahead of October's elections.

The warrant came several hours after the country's top body, the Supreme Federal Tribunal, voted 6-5 to deny a request by da Silva to stay out of prison while he appealed a corruption conviction that he contends was simply a way to keep him off the ballot.

Federal judge Sergio Moro gave Brazil's former president 24 hours to present himself to police in the southern city of Curitiba. In a statement, Moro said he was giving da Silva the opportunity to come in of his own accord because he had been president of the nation.

Last year, Moro convicted da Silva of trading favours with a construction company in exchange for the promise of a beachfront apartment. That conviction was upheld by an appeals court in January.

The speed with which Moro issued the warrant surprised many, as legal observers said there were technicalities from da Silva's upheld appeal that would not be sorted out until next week.

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Muslims: Settlement will prevent illegal NYPD surveillance

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department has agreed not to conduct surveillance based on religion or ethnicity and to listen to Muslims as it develops new training materials as part of a deal to settle claims it illegally spied on Muslims for years after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The agreement announced Thursday by the city and the Islamic community also calls for the city to pay $75,000 in damages and nearly $1 million in legal fees. It also ensures surveillance in New Jersey will follow rules defined in another landmark civil rights case.

"Today's settlement sends a message to all law enforcement: Simply being Muslim is not a basis for surveillance," said Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy and educational organization.

"We won this case, make no mistake about it. But as a member of the armed forces, I believe the United States won as well," said Farhaj Hassan, a U.S. Army reservist and the lead plaintiff in the 2012 lawsuit in federal court in Newark, New Jersey.

"No one likes to take on the cops. Cops are good," he said. "But in this case, when cops were acting bad, it had to be done."

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Trump, Kim summit may boost recovery of US Korea War remains

TOKYO (AP) — More than six decades after the troops died for their country, the repatriation of the remains of thousands of U.S. military personnel missing in action and presumed dead from the Korean War may finally get a boost now that President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are expected to hold the first-ever summit between their countries.

Nearly 7,800 U.S. troops remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. About 5,300 were lost in North Korea.

Efforts to recover and return the remains have been stalled for more than a decade because of the North's development of nuclear weapons and U.S. claims that the safety of recovery teams it sent during the administration of President George W. Bush was not sufficiently guaranteed.

There are indications, however, that Trump may raise the issue directly with Kim when they meet. There is also a chance Kim might return some remains even before the summit. The location and date of the summit have yet to be announced, though officials have suggested the meeting should take place by May.

"Hopefully, the North Koreans will turn over some remains as a goodwill gesture before the summit," said Bill Richardson, a former U.N. ambassador and New Mexico governor who secured the return of six sets of remains from North Korea in 2007. "This would help enormously to diffuse some tension."

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Studio Ghibli co-founder, director Isao Takahata dies at 82

TOKYO (AP) — Isao Takahata, co-founder of the prestigious Japanese animator Studio Ghibli that stuck to a hand-drawn "manga" look in the face of digital filmmaking, has died. He was 82.

Takahata, who directed "Grave of the Fireflies," a tragic tale about wartime childhood, died Thursday of lung cancer at a Tokyo hospital, according to a studio statement.

Takahata started Ghibli with Oscar-winning animator Hayao Miyazaki in 1985, hoping to create Japan's Disney.

His last film, "The Tale of The Princess Kaguya," based on a Japanese folktale, was nominated for a 2015 Oscar for best animation feature, although it did not win. He is also known for the 1970s Japanese TV series "Heidi, Girl of the Alps," based on the book by Swiss author Johanna Spyri.

Funeral services are planned for May 15.

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Spieth back in his comfort zone at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Tiger Woods attracted most of the attention. Jordan Spieth caused the most concern.

Opening day at the Masters had a wide-open feel until Spieth hit his stride Thursday afternoon. He saved three straight pars with that superb short game. He ran off three straight birdies to take the lead. And then he fired an 8-iron at the pin on the par-3 16th, letting the club twirl through his hands as he walked away, knowing only that it was another good one. It plopped down 5 feet away.

"You don't know where it's going to end up," he said, "but you know it's going to be in a good position."

Spieth took only 10 putts on the back nine. He made five straight birdies, a career best for him in the majors. Even a bogey on the final hole felt like a par the way he navigated out of the trees and limited the damage with a pitch that stopped inches from going in.

That gave him a 6-under 66 and a two-shot lead over Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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