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

March 29, 2019 - 8:04 PM

Trump threatens to shut Mexico border - 'not kidding around'

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Threatening drastic action against Mexico, President Donald Trump declared Friday he is likely to shut down America's southern border next week unless Mexican authorities immediately halt all illegal immigration. Such a severe move could hit the economies of both countries, but the president emphasized, "I am not kidding around."

"It could mean all trade" with Mexico, Trump said when questioned by reporters in Florida. "We will close it for a long time."

Trump has been promising for more than two years to build a long, impenetrable wall along the border to stop illegal immigration, though Congress has been reluctant to provide the money he needs. In the meantime, he has repeatedly threatened to close the border, but this time, with a new surge of migrants heading north , he gave a definite timetable.

A substantial closure could have an especially heavy impact on cross-border communities from San Diego to South Texas, as well as supermarkets that sell Mexican produce, factories that rely on imported parts, and other businesses across the U.S.

The U.S. and Mexico trade about $1.7 billion in goods daily, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said closing the border would be "an unmitigated economic debacle" that would threaten 5 million American jobs.

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UK faces new Brexit crisis after lawmakers reject May's deal

LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers on Friday rejected the government's Brexit deal for a third time, leaving the U.K. facing the stark prospect of a chaotic departure from the European Union in just two weeks, with political leaders in turmoil and the country ill-prepared for the shock.

It's either that, or a long delay to the country's exit from the EU. The alternatives are dwindling.

The House of Commons voted 344-286 against the withdrawal agreement struck between Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU, rebuffing her plea to "put aside self and party" and deliver the Brexit that Britons voted for.

Amid business warnings that a no-deal Brexit could mean crippling tariffs, border gridlock and shortages of goods, a visibly frustrated May said the vote had "grave" implications.

"The legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on 12 April — in just 14 days' time," she said. "This is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a deal, and yet the House has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal. And so we will have to agree an alternative way forward."

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Redacted Mueller report expected to be released by mid-April

WASHINGTON (AP) — A redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation will be sent to Congress by mid-April and will not be shared with the White House beforehand, Attorney General William Barr said Friday.

Barr's timeline, included in a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, sets up a possible showdown with House Democrats, who are insisting they see the full report next week.

In his letter, Barr said he shares a desire for Congress and the public to be able to read Mueller's findings, which are included in the nearly 400-page report the special counsel submitted last week.

Barr said President Donald Trump would have the right to assert executive privilege over parts of the report. But he noted that Trump "has stated publicly that he intends to defer to me and, accordingly, there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for a privilege review."

Mueller officially concluded his investigation when he submitted the report last Friday. Two days later, Barr sent a four-page letter to Congress that detailed Mueller's "principal conclusions."

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Financial pressure mounts to fix Boeing's troubled jetliner

Boeing is facing mounting pressure to roll out a software update on its bestselling plane in time for airlines to use the jets during the peak summer travel season.

Company engineers and test pilots are working to fix anti-stall technology on the Boeing 737 Max that is suspected to have played a role in two deadly crashes in the last six months.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that investigators have determined that the flight-control system on an Ethiopian Airlines jet automatically activated before the aircraft plunged into the ground on March 10.

The preliminary conclusion was based on information from the aircraft's data and voice recorders and indicates a link between that accident and an earlier Lion Air crash in Indonesia, the newspaper said. Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment on the report.

Also on Friday, The New York Times reported that the Ethiopian jet's data recorder yielded evidence that a sensor incorrectly triggered the anti-stall system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. Once activated, the MCAS forced the plane into a dive and ultimately a crash that killed everyone on board, the newspaper said.

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2 similar death row cases, 2 different Supreme Court rulings

WASHINGTON (AP) — Death row inmates Patrick Murphy and Domineque Ray each turned to courts recently with a similar plea: Halt my execution if the state won't let a spiritual adviser of my faith accompany me into the execution chamber.

Both cases wound up at the Supreme Court. And while the justices overrode a lower court and allowed Ray's execution to go forward in Alabama in February, they gave Murphy, a Texas inmate, a temporary reprieve Thursday night.

What the justices wrote suggests the opposite results came down to one thing: timing. Ray, a Muslim, didn't ask to be joined by his spiritual adviser soon enough, while Murphy, a Buddhist, did.

Spencer Hahn, one of Ray's attorneys, said in a telephone interview Friday that he hoped his client had helped bring attention to the fact some inmates are treated differently when it comes to religious advisers in the execution chamber.

"I'd like to think Mr. Ray's death was not in vain," he said.

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Oklahoma ex-senator David Boren accused of sexual misconduct

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A former University of Oklahoma student alleges he was touched and kissed inappropriately by former university President David Boren on several occasions almost a decade ago when the man worked as a teaching aide for the onetime governor and senator.

The allegations by Jess Eddy, now 29, appear to be at the centre of an investigation being conducted for the university by Jones Day, one of the world's largest law firms, into whether Boren sexually harassed male subordinates. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has also opened an investigation.

Boren, now 77, has denied any inappropriate conduct in statements released by his attorneys, who have confirmed the Jones Day investigation. Boren was a Democratic governor in the 1970s before serving in the U.S. Senate for more than 15 years. He was OU president from 1994 until stepping down last year and has been married to his second wife for more than 40 years. He has denied requests to be interviewed, citing poor health.

Boren's attorney, Clark Brewster, said Eddy's newest account of his encounter with Boren, which he detailed in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, contradicts previous statements he gave to Jones Day investigators and to Brewster. In those earlier statements, he said he was not aware of any inappropriate behaviour.

Eddy's latest allegations were first reported Tuesday by the online news site NonDoc.

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Ocasio-Cortez can't run, but she's a big part of 2020 race

WASHINGTON (AP) — AOC could stand for "All Over the Campaign."

For better or worse, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, known ubiquitously by her initials, is a big part of the 2020 race for the White House more than five years before she's even old enough to run for the nation's highest office. Democrats want her endorsement. They're being asked to answer for her Green New Deal. And President Donald Trump's supporters are ready for her.

"AOC sucks!" they chanted in battleground Michigan as the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., riled up the crowd on Thursday. It wasn't the most descriptive Trump-era branding — think of the president's "Crooked Hillary" Clinton, coined to evoke trust issues about her during the 2016 campaign. But the episode left little doubt that this former bartender from the Bronx, a self-described Democratic socialist, is the new villain for Trump's base of supporters.

Just three months into her new life in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez, 29, is already a coveted influencer Democratic national politics. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called her "the future of our party." All six senators aiming to replace Trump co-sponsored the Green New Deal she has championed to rein in climate change. And though Ocasio-Cortez is a protégé of one such hopeful, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, she's taking meetings with others. This week, it was lunch with Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

"We had labneh," a creamy cheese made from yogurt, Ocasio-Cortez confirmed via Twitter.

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Snapshot of extinction: Fossils show day of killer asteroid

WASHINGTON (AP) — New research released Friday captures a fossilized snapshot of the day nearly 66 million years ago when an asteroid smacked Earth, fire rained from the sky and the ground shook far worse than any modern earthquake.

It was the day that nearly all life on Earth went extinct, including the dinosaurs.

The researchers say they found evidence in North Dakota of the asteroid hit in Mexico, including fish with hot glass in their gills from flaming debris that showered back down on Earth. They also reported the discovery of charred trees, evidence of an inland tsunami and melted amber.

Separately, University of Amsterdam's Jan Smit disclosed that he and his colleagues even found dinosaur footsteps from just before their demise.

Smit said the footprints — one from a plant-eating hadrosaur and the other of a meat eater, maybe a small Tyrannosaurus Rex — is "definite proof that the dinosaurs were alive and kicking at the time of impact ... They were running around, chasing each other" when they were swamped.

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Janet Jackson, Nicks, 5 Brit bands lead rock hall inductees

NEW YORK (AP) — Stevie Nicks became the first woman inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday — after 22 men — and in her acceptance speech, she urged her fellow female rockers to join her as she led a class of inductees that included Janet Jackson and a quintet of British bands.

Two of Radiohead's five members were on hand for their induction, and not everyone from Roxy Music was on hand. Def Leppard, the Cure and the Zombies were also ushered in.

Nicks had already been inducted as a member of Fleetwood Mac, but was honoured this time for her solo legacy. She told the audience at Brooklyn's Barclays Center that when she started her solo career, she wondered how her fellow and members would react. It obviously worked, and she said she hoped to be an influence.

"What I am doing is opening up the door for other women," she said.

During her four-song set, she brought onstage a cape she bought in 1983 to prove to her "very frugal" late mother that it was still in good shape, and worth its $3,000 price tag. Don Henley joined her to sing "Leather and Lace," while Harry Styles filled in for the late Tom Petty on "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around."

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TIPPING OFF: Zion back for Duke rematch with Virginia Tech

Zion Williamson is back for a rematch in the Sweet 16 against one of the four teams the Blue Devils lost to this year.

Duke gets Virginia Tech on Friday night in the NCAA Tournament, a team that beat the Blue Devils in February. That game was played without Duke's flying freshman, and R.J. Barrett played sick.

Virginia Tech has victories against Duke in each of the past three seasons, and won't be intimidated by the tournament's No. 1 overall seed.

"I don't think we're excited for the moment," Virginia Tech point guard Justin Robinson said. "I think it's just another game for us. And I think we're going to be ready for whatever is going to come for us to end the game."

The rematch in the East Region semifinals will certainly have a different feel.

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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