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

March 07, 2019 - 8:04 PM

Ex-Trump campaign boss Manafort sentenced to 47 months

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced Thursday to nearly four years in prison for tax and bank fraud related to his work advising Ukrainian politicians, much less than what was called for under sentencing guidelines.

Manafort, sitting in a wheelchair as he deals with complications from gout, had no visible reaction as he heard the 47-month sentence. While that was the longest sentence to date to come from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, it could have been much worse for Manafort. Sentencing guidelines called for a 20-year-term, effectively a lifetime sentence for the 69-year-old.

Manafort has been jailed since June, so he will receive credit for the nine months he has already served. He still faces the possibility of additional time from his sentencing in a separate case in the District of Columbia, where he pleaded guilty to charges related to illegal lobbying.

Before Judge T.S. Ellis III imposed the sentence, Manafort told him that "saying I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement." But he offered no explicit apology, something Ellis noted before issuing his sentence.

Manafort steered Donald Trump's election efforts during crucial months of the 2016 campaign as Russia sought to meddle in the election through hacking of Democratic email accounts. He was among the first Trump associates charged in the Mueller investigation and has been a high-profile defendant.

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House broadly condemns hate after anti-Semitism dispute

WASHINGTON (AP) — Divided in debate but mostly united in a final vote, the House passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other bigotry Thursday, with Democrats trying to push past a dispute that has overwhelmed their agenda and exposed fault lines that could shadow them through next year's elections.

The one-sided 407-23 vote belied the emotional infighting over how to respond to freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar's recent comments suggesting House supporters of Israel have dual allegiances. For days, Democrats wrestled with whether or how to punish the lawmaker, arguing over whether Omar, one of two Muslim women in Congress, should be singled out, what other types of bias should be decried in the text and whether the party would tolerate dissenting views on Israel.

Republicans generally joined in the favourable vote, though nearly two-dozen opposed the measure, one calling it a "sham."

Generational as well as ideological, the argument was fueled in part by young, liberal lawmakers — and voters — who have become a face of the newly empowered Democratic majority in the House. These lawmakers are critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, rejecting the conservative leader's approach to Palestinians and other issues.

They split sharply from Democratic leaders who seemed caught off guard by the support for Omar and unprepared for the debate. But the leaders regrouped.

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Scientists discover different kind of killer whale off Chile

WASHINGTON (AP) — For decades, there were tales from fishermen and tourists, even lots of photos, of a mysterious killer whale that just didn't look like all the others, but scientists had never seen one.

Now they have.

An international team of researchers says they found a couple dozen of these distinctly different orcas roaming in the oceans off southern Chile in January. Scientists are waiting for DNA tests from a tissue sample but think it may be a distinct species.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration felt confident enough to trumpet the discovery of the long rumoured killer whale on Thursday. Some outside experts were more cautious, acknowledging the whales are different, but saying they'd wait for the test results to answer the species question.

"This is the most different looking killer whale I've ever seen," said Robert Pitman, a NOAA marine ecologist in San Diego. He was part of the team that spotted the orcas off Cape Horn at the tip of South America.

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Cohen's lawyer says Trump advisers were 'dangling' pardons

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's advisers dangled the possibility of a pardon for his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen last year, Cohen's attorney said Thursday, as congressional investigators zero in on the president's pardon power.

The issue of pardons has emerged as a key line of inquiry as Democrats launch a series of sweeping investigations into Trump's political and personal dealings.

Lanny Davis, Cohen's lawyer, said in a written statement Thursday that his client was "open to the ongoing 'dangling' of a possible pardon by Trump representatives privately and in the media" in the months after the FBI raided Cohen's home, office and hotel room in April 2018.

Davis, who was not Cohen's lawyer at the time, said Cohen "directed his attorney" to explore a possible pardon with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others on Trump's legal team. The statement appears to contradict Cohen's sworn testimony last week at a House Oversight Committee hearing that he had never asked for, and would not accept, a pardon from Trump.

Davis' comment raises questions about whether Cohen — who is slated to begin a three-year prison sentence in May for crimes including lying to Congress — lied to Congress again last week.

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After making millions, R. Kelly could be left with nothing

CHICAGO (AP) — R. Kelly grew up in a public housing project in one of Chicago's toughest South Side neighbourhoods and built a worldwide musical brand that earned tens of millions of dollars over a nearly 30-year career.

But tax and legal issues — including recently filed charges that he sexually abused three girls and a woman — could leave the Grammy winner who has written songs for some of music's top stars with next to nothing.

In an emotional interview that aired this week, Kelly told "CBS This Morning" that people stole money from his bank accounts. He offered no details.

His defence attorney said last month that the performer's finances were "a mess" after Kelly was unable to post $100,000 in bail after his arrest on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse.

The lack of cash forced Kelly to spend a weekend in a Chicago jail, until a 47-year-old suburban business owner put up the money. She identified herself on the bond slip as "a friend" of Kelly's.

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Suspect in death of Illinois deputy arrested after standoff

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A man suspected of fatally shooting a sheriff's deputy and wounding a woman at an Illinois hotel was taken into custody Thursday after an hourslong standoff that began when he crashed his vehicle along an interstate highway, authorities said.

Floyd E. Brown, 39, was arrested hours after the crash in central Illinois, State Trooper Sean Ramsey said. Officers employed flash grenades to disable Brown after trying for hours to negotiate with him to surrender, police said.

Brown, of Springfield, was taken to a hospital to be treated for several injuries. It wasn't immediately known what caused the injuries, Ramsey said.

Brown is accused of fatally shooting 35-year-old Deputy Jacob Keltner, a 12 1/2-year veteran of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office in northern Illinois. Keltner was pronounced dead at a hospital several hours after he was shot, spokesman David Dezane said.

Police said a 25-year-old woman described as an acquaintance of Brown suffered injuries that weren't life-threatening after being hit with one of Brown's rounds. She was treated at a hospital and released.

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Run, bull, run. Longest bull market looks to keep going

Wall Street has rewarded its most patient investors handsomely over the past 10 years. Is there more to come?

The S&P 500, the U.S. market's benchmark index, has gained about 309 per cent since bottoming out at 676.53 points in March 2009 during the Great Recession, according to FactSet. The index is now 5.4 per cent below its recent peak of 2,930.75 set on Sept. 20.

This bull market's lifespan, the longest on record, speaks to financial markets' resiliency in the face of a variety of shocks, including a brutal fourth quarter of 2018.

Whether the bull keeps running hinges on whether companies can continue raking in profits, a key driver of the stock market, and whether the U.S. economy can avoid sliding into a recession. Bull markets tend to wither when fear of a recession kicks in.

"As long as corporate profits are growing, that's usually the oxygen for further gains in the stock market," said David Lefkowitz, senior Americas equity strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management.

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Mystery good Samaritan enables man's $273M lottery win

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — An unemployed New Jersey man who won last Friday's $273 million Mega Millions jackpot said he wants to reward the mystery person who returned the tickets to a store where he'd left them a day earlier.

Mike Weirsky said at a news conference with lottery officials Thursday that he bought the tickets last Thursday at a Quick Check store in Phillipsburg, near the Pennsylvania border, and forgot them there because he was more focused on his cellphone.

Someone found them and gave them to the store to hold. When Weirsky returned on Friday, he verified the tickets were his and store employees returned them.

Lottery officials said Thursday that if the person who found the tickets had held onto them and signed them, they could have claimed the jackpot.

"I'm looking for the guy that handed them in, I want to thank him," Weirsky said. "I'm going to give him something, but I'm going to keep that private."

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Mets great Tom Seaver diagnosed with dementia at 74

NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, the star of the Miracle Mets 1969 World Series championship team, has been diagnosed with dementia at age 74.

His family made the announcement Thursday through the Hall and said Seaver has retired from public life. He will continue to work at Seaver Vineyards, founded by the retired player and wife Nancy in 2002 on 116 acres at Diamond Mountain in the Calistoga region of California.

Seaver was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 1991, and it reoccurred in 2012 and led to Bell's Palsy and memory loss, the New York Daily News reported in 2013.

"He will always be the heart and soul of the Mets, the standard which all Mets aspire to, this breaks my heart," tweeted former Mets catcher Mike Piazza, a fellow Hall of Famer. "Do not feel worthy to be mentioned in the same breath."

Seaver has limited his public appearances in recent years. He did not attend the Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner in January where members of the 1969 team were honoured on the 50th anniversary of what still ranks among baseball's most unexpected champions.

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Fired Florida officer guilty of slaying black motorist

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A fired Florida police officer was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted murder Thursday for fatally shooting a stranded black motorist, becoming the first officer in the state to be convicted of an on-duty shooting in 30 years.

Nouman Raja, 41, faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years at sentencing April 26, and could spend his life in prison for the death of Corey Jones, 31.

The four-man, two-woman jury deliberated for four hours. Raja didn't react as the verdict was read. About 25 relatives and supporters of Jones looked on, some weeping. One said "the sweetest sound was the click of those handcuffs" after Raja was led away.

They held a prayer circle outside the courtroom, shouting praise for the verdict as many sobbed. A housing inspector and part-time drummer, Jones came from a family of Christian ministers and was scheduled to perform at church the morning he died.

"Corey has been here - his soul is not here but he is definitely here in our hearts," said C.J. Jones, the victim's brother and a former Cleveland Brown football player. "He walked us through this."

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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