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AP News in Brief at 9:04 p.m. EDT

April 07, 2018 - 6:04 PM

Canada mourns: 15 die when truck, hockey team bus collide

NIPAWIN, Saskatchewan (AP) — A semi-trailer slammed into a bus carrying a youth hockey team in western Canada, killing 15 people and injuring 14 in a catastrophic collision that a doctor compared to an airstrike and left the vehicles obliterated in the snow. The crash sent shockwaves through the team's small hometown and a country united by the national sport.

Canadians were moved to tears on Saturday as they learned of the identities of the deceased on the bus that was driving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team to a crucial playoff game Friday against the Nipawin Hawks.

"An entire country is in shock and mourning," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. "This is every parent's worst nightmare. No one should ever have to see their child leave to play the sport they love and never come back."

The bus had 29 passengers, including the driver, when it crashed at about 5 p.m. on Highway 35, police said. Among the dead are Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan, team captain Logan Schatz and radio announcer Tyler Bieber. Authorities earlier said three were in critical condition but later provided an update to say that 15 have now died.

Canadian police said the truck driver was initially detained but has since been released and provided with mental health assistance. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said it's too early to state a cause for the crash.

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2020 census test has critics counting concerns, not people

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The success of the 2020 census, which will be the first to include an online survey, could hinge on a single "dress rehearsal" underway right now in Rhode Island — and so far, many locals aren't impressed.

Providence County, the state's most populous, is the only place where the Census Bureau is running a full test, after plans to test two other sites this year were cancelled because of a lack of funding from Congress. A planned question about citizenship that has states suing the federal government isn't on the test.

Several elected officials and leaders of advocacy and community groups this week held an "emergency press conference" to raise concerns, which include a shortage of publicity around the test and its limited language outreach in an immigrant-heavy county, with large communities from countries including the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Portugal and Cape Verde.

"If we don't get it right here, then the country's not going to get it right," Democratic Lt. Gov. Dan McKee warned.

The concerns in Rhode Island are the latest evidence of mounting apprehension over the 2020 census. Seventeen states and six cities, including Rhode Island and its largest city, Providence, sued the federal government on Tuesday to block a question the administration of Republican President Donald Trump announced last month it would ask about citizenship.

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1 killed in fire at Trump Tower in New York

NEW YORK (AP) — Fire officials say a man has been killed in in a raging apartment fire at Trump Tower in New York City.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro says a 50th-floor apartment at the midtown tower was "virtually entirely on fire" when firefighters arrived after 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Fire officials say a man who was in the apartment was taken to a hospital and later died. Four firefighters suffered minor injuries.

President Donald Trump tweeted earlier that the fire was "Very confined (well built building)."

Trump's business is based at Trump Tower and his residence is there, but he has spent little time in New York since taking office.

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Security for EPA chief comes at a steep cost to taxpayers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt's concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes.

Altogether, the agency spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full-time detail that is more than three times the size of his predecessor's part-time security contingent.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox cited "unprecedented" threats against Pruitt and his family as justification for extraordinary security expenses such as first-class airfare to keep him separate from most passengers — a perk generally not available to federal employees.

But Pruitt apparently did not consider that upgrade vital to his safety when taxpayers weren't footing the bill for his ticket. An EPA official with direct knowledge of Pruitt's security spending said the EPA chief flew coach on personal trips back to his home state of Oklahoma.

The EPA official spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

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Germany seeks motive after van crashes into crowd, killing 2

MUENSTER, Germany (AP) — A van crashed into people drinking outside a popular bar Saturday in the German city of Muenster, killing two people and injuring 20 others before the driver of the vehicle shot and killed himself inside it, police said.

A top German security official said there was no indication of an Islamic extremist motive but officials were investigating all possibilities in the deadly crash that took place at 3:27 p.m. on a warm spring day.

Witnesses said people ran away screaming from the city square after the crash. Police quickly set up a large cordoned-off area for their investigation and ambulances rushed to the site.

Six of the 20 injured were in severe condition, according to police spokesman Andreas Bode.

Herbert Reul, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, where Muenster is located, said the driver of the grey van was a German citizen. He stressed that the investigation was at an early stage but said "at the moment, nothing speaks for there being any Islamist background."

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Brazil's da Silva in police custody after tense showdown

SAO BERNARDO DO CAMPO, Brazil (AP) — Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was taken into police custody Saturday after a tense showdown with his own supporters, the capstone of an intense three days that underscored raw emotions over the incarceration of a once wildly popular leader who has been engulfed by corruption allegations.

Just hours earlier, da Silva told thousands of supporters that he would turn himself in to police, but also maintained his innocence and argued his corruption conviction was simply a way for enemies to make sure he doesn't run — and possibly win — re-election in October.

When he first tried to leave the metal workers union headquarters where he was holed up to turn himself in, however, dozens of supporters blocked a gate where a car carrying da Silva was trying to exit.

"Surround, surround (the building) and don't let them arrest him," chanted supporters. After a few minutes of tense words between guards and supporters, the former president got out of the car and entered the headquarters.

Police vehicles surrounded the union that was the birthplace of da Silva's rise to power, raising the fears of clashes. Da Silva emerged a second time shortly after nightfall, this time surrounded by bodyguards who pushed back scores of supporters who tried to stop his advance.

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White House sends mixed signals on trade fight; markets dive

WASHINGTON (AP) — The trade clash between President Donald Trump and China's government is escalating, with Beijing pledging to "counterattack with great strength" if Trump follows through on threats to impose tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods.

Trump made his out-of-the-blue move when China threatened to retaliate for the first round of tariffs planned by the United States. But for someone who has long fashioned himself as a master negotiator, Trump left it unclear whether he was bluffing or willing to risk a long trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies, with steep consequences for consumers, businesses and an already shaken stock market.

"They aren't going to bully him into backing down," said Stephen Moore, a former Trump campaign adviser who is now a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He said the Chinese "are going to have to make concessions — period."

The White House sent mixed signals on Friday as financial markets slid from investor concern about a significant trade fight.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC he was "cautiously optimistic" that the U.S. and China could reach an agreement before any tariffs go into place. But, he added, "there is the potential of a trade war."

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Democrats even in GOP country shift toward gun restrictions

OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) — Just 18 months after declaring his opposition to banning assault weapons, Nebraska Democrat Brad Ashford has changed his mind.

The former one-term congressman, now trying to win back an Omaha-area seat he lost in 2016, used to consider it futile to push for a ban while Republicans held power on Capitol Hill. But the student activism that has followed the rampage at a school in Parkland, Florida, has changed his thinking in a way that other high-profile shootings, including two in his hometown since 2007, had not.

Ashford's conversion mirrors the one underway in his party. Not long ago, a moderate record on guns would have been considered a plus for a Democratic candidate in the GOP-leaning suburbs and conservative outskirts of Nebraska's largest city. Today, even with Ashford's reversal, it's a vulnerability that his opponent in the May 15 Democratic primary has been quick to exploit.

That contest, along with races in Virginia, rural Pennsylvania and other places where gun control has been taboo, shows how far the Democratic Party has travelled on this issue. The November elections will test whether Democrats will make room for candidates who don't back all gun control measures.

"He should have been stronger on this," said Kara Eastman, the 46-year-old political newcomer running against Ashford for the nomination in the 2nd Congressional District. "We need leaders who are going to stand up and fight for the kids."

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For-profit colleges struggle despite assist from DeVos

WASHINGTON (AP) — The for-profit college industry is struggling under the weight of declining enrolment, stiff competition from traditional universities and an image battered by past misdeeds, even as the Trump administration tries to offer a helping hand.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has hired several industry insiders and frozen Obama-era regulations that would have increased protections for students. She has reduced loan forgiveness relief for some former students defrauded by their schools, meaning that the for-profit industry could be on the hook for less. And she is considering reinstating an ousted oversight agency for many for-profit colleges.

"There is a serious attempt by this department to find that appropriate fair balance for both students and schools," Steve Gunderson, president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the industry lobbying group, said in an interview.

But Timothy Lutts, president of the Cabot Wealth Network in Salem, Massachusetts, sees an industry in decline. An improving economy has led to lagging enrolment as adult students return to the workplace instead of seeking a degree to burnish their resumes, he said. For-profit colleges now also compete with non-profit schools that offer online degree programs without the stigma that still haunts money-making schools.

"It was a great sector a decade ago," Lutts said. "For for-profit schools, the tide is still going out."

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Reed builds 3-shot lead over McIlroy at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy meet again, this time for a green jacket instead of a gold Ryder Cup trophy.

Reed seized control of the Masters on a wet Saturday at Augusta National with a pair of eagles on the back nine and a 5-under 67 that gave him a three-shot lead. McIlroy, who chipped in for eagle on the front nine to briefly tie for the lead, made an 18-foot birdie on the final hole for a 65 to nudge a little closer.

This is not match play as it was for their singles match in Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.

It sure feels like it.

And it sounded about as loud, too, especially with players taking advantage of greens slightly softened by the rain.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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