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

April 05, 2019 - 8:04 PM

'Our country is full': Trump says migrants straining system

CALEXICO, Calif. (AP) — Declaring "our country is full," President Donald Trump on Friday insisted the U.S. immigration system was overburdened and illegal crossings must be stopped as he inspected a refurbished section of fencing at the Mexican border.

Trump, making a renewed push for border security as a central campaign issue for his 2020 re-election, participated in a briefing on immigration and border security in Calexico before viewing a 2-mile (3.2-kilometre) see-through steel-slat barrier that was a long-planned replacement for an older barrier — and not new wall.

"There is indeed an emergency on our southern border," Trump said at the briefing, adding that there has been a sharp uptick in illegal crossings. "It's a colossal surge and it's overwhelming our immigration system, and we can't let that happen. ... We can't take you anymore. We can't take you. Our country is full."

As Air Force One touched down in the state, California and 19 other states that are suing Trump over his emergency declaration to build a border wall requested a court order to stop money from being diverted to fund the project. But Trump, who ratcheted up his hard-line immigration rhetoric in recent weeks, declared that his move, which included vetoing a congressional vote, was necessary.

Also on Friday, House Democrats filed a lawsuit preventing Trump from spending more money than Congress has approved to erect barriers along the southwestern border. Congress approved just under $1.4 billion for work on border barricades. Trump has asserted he can use his powers as chief executive to transfer an additional $6.7 billion to wall construction.

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AP FACT CHECK: Trump's Mexico mirage

WASHINGTON (AP) — Giving himself credit for tough diplomacy, President Donald Trump is describing a burst of activity by Mexican authorities to keep Central American migrants from getting to the U.S. border.

That's an apparent mirage as Trump retreats from his latest threat to seal off the U.S. from Mexico.

Trump was wrong when he said last week that Mexico was doing "NOTHING" about migrants coming north. It markedly tightened migration controls during the Obama administration and detained over 30,000 foreigners in the first three months of this year.

And it's not evident now that Mexico has suddenly cracked down as a result of his threat, "apprehending everybody" and making "absolutely terrific progress" in just a matter of days, as Trump put it Friday. Mexico's apprehensions of foreigners have not surged.

During his visit to the border in Southern California on Friday, Trump denounced a landmark immigration case he blamed on "Judge Flores, whoever you may be." The case in question was named for Jenny Flores, a migrant teenager from El Salvador in the 1980s, not a judge.

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Boeing cutting production rate of troubled 737 Max jet

Boeing will cut production of its troubled 737 Max airliner this month, underscoring the growing financial risk it faces the longer that its bestselling plane remains grounded after two deadly crashes.

The company said Friday that starting in mid-April it will cut production of the plane to 42 from 52 planes per month so it can focus its attention on fixing the flight-control software that has been implicated in the crashes.

The move was not a complete surprise. Boeing had already suspended deliveries of the Max last month after regulators around the world grounded the jet.

Preliminary reports into accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia found that faulty sensor readings erroneously triggered an anti-stall system that pushed the plane's nose down. Pilots of each plane struggled in vain to regain control over the automated system.

In all, 346 people died in the crashes. Boeing faces a growing number of lawsuits filed by families of the victims.

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Job gain points to a US economy slowing but hardly stalling

WASHINGTON (AP) — A month ago, many economists fretted that the 10-year U.S. expansion looked wobbly. But after the government reported Friday that hiring rebounded in March, the economy suddenly looks sturdy again.

Growth has weakened since last year to something closer to the modest pace that has prevailed for most of the nearly decade-long expansion. The jolt from the Trump administration's 2017 tax cuts and greater government spending last year has faded. And the global economy has swiveled from a driver of the U.S. economy to a headwind.

Yet last month's solid job gain of 196,000 may also help undercut any lingering fears that a recession might arrive over the next year or so. The economy's slow but steady pace of growth is likely to keep inflation low and perhaps sustain the expansion, which is set to become the longest on record in July.

By historical measures, the expansion has fallen short of the sometimes-explosive growth that businesses and workers enjoyed in the past but that often led to financial bubbles or economic excesses — and eventually a recession.

"Lacklustre means that you're not overheating," Josh Wright, chief economist at recruiting software maker iCIMS, said of the current expansion. "It's more stable, and we'll have fewer imbalances. It looks like we'll be able to prolong this recovery even further."

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Trump sidelines immigration nominee for 'tougher direction'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The notice to Congress from the White House was met with confusion: Why would President Donald Trump withdraw his nominee to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement?

Longtime border official Ron Vitiello appeared to be cruising toward confirmation. One Senate committee had endorsed his nomination and a second was likely to follow suit despite opposition from some Democrats and a union representing some agency officers.

No one in the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the immigration agency, had been notified about the intention to remove Vitiello from consideration, according to people familiar with the decision. Officials at Homeland Security and congressional aides thought it must have been a paperwork error made by the White House personnel office that would be resolved quickly.

Turns out, it wasn't a mistake. It was just another day in the Trump administration.

The president on Friday confirmed he had pulled the nomination, even as he called Vitiello a "good man."

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Jury rejects Harry Reid lawsuit against fitness band maker

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A jury in Las Vegas flatly rejected former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid's lawsuit against an exercise band maker he blamed for injuries — including blindness in one eye — he suffered when the stretchy device slipped from his grasp and he fell face-first a little more than four years ago.

After eight days of testimony, the eight-member civil trial jury deliberated about an hour before declaring that Reid never proved the first of 10 questions they were asked to decide: that the device Reid used that day was a TheraBand made by Ohio-based Hygenic Corp.

Jurors never saw the actual device because Reid's adult son, attorney Leif Reid, disposed of it soon after Harry Reid was injured.

Reid and his wife, Landra Gould, weren't in the courtroom when the verdict was read. The 79-year-old former Democratic Party leader used a wheelchair throughout the two-week trial, following treatment for pancreatic cancer and back surgery.

Their lawyer, James Wilkes II of Tampa, Florida, said he respected the Nevada jury's decision. "I may not agree with the outcome, but I agree with the way we got there," Wilkes said.

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Ex-convict charged with pretending to be long-missing boy

CINCINNATI (AP) — A 23-year-old ex-convict accused of pulling a cruel hoax by pretending to be a long-missing Illinois boy was charged Friday with making false statements to federal authorities.

The FBI said Brian Rini had made false claims twice before, portraying himself as a juvenile sex-trafficking victim.

The Medina, Ohio, man was jailed in Cincinnati on Thursday, a day after telling authorities he was 14-year-old Timmothy Pitzen, who disappeared in 2011 at age 6. The FBI declared Rini's story a hoax after performing a DNA test.

The charge should send a message about the damage such false claims can do, said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman.

"It's not OK to do it because of the harm that it causes, the pain, for the family of that missing child," Glassman said.

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7 who accused Cosby of sex abuse settle defamation suits

Seven women who said Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them decades ago and then labeled them liars by denying it have settled defamation lawsuits against the imprisoned actor.

Court documents filed Friday in Springfield, Massachusetts, show a settlement has been reached since Cosby went to prison last fall in a separate Pennsylvania sex assault case. Cosby, 81, is serving a three- to 10-year prison sentence.

Cosby's spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, said Cosby did not authorize the settlement reached between the women and American International Group Inc., and "vehemently denies the allegations."

"Mr. Cosby did not settle any cases with anyone. He is not paying anything to anyone, and he is still pursuing his counterclaims. AIG decided to settle these cases, without the knowledge, permission and/or consent of Mr. Cosby," Wyatt said in a statement.

Courts had ruled that AIG had to pay for Cosby to defend the defamation lawsuits as part of his coverage. Cosby had homeowners and other coverage through AIG.

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Fans mourn grunge rock icon Kurt Cobain 25 years after death

SEATTLE (AP) — On the 25th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death, dozens of people left flowers, candles and handwritten messages at a Seattle park near the house where the Nirvana frontman killed himself.

Cobain, whose band rose to global fame in the city's grunge rock music scene of the early 1990s, was 27 when he died April 5, 1994, in his home in a wealthy neighbourhood near Lake Washington.

Fans trekked Friday to nearby Viretta Park, leaving memorials on benches, where flowers mixed with handwritten phrases like "thank you for your art" and "find your place."

In an essay on the Crosscut news website, Cobain biographer Charles R. Cross wrote that few Seattle musicians "have been as tied to Seattle in the mind of the popular zeitgeist as Kurt Cobain."

Nirvana's breakthrough album, "Nevermind," was released in 1991. Featuring the hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the album went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts and has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide.

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Duke's Williamson wins AP men's college player of the year

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Just about everything Zion Williamson did at Duke created a highlight or headline in a spectacle of a season.

The soaring dunks.

The open-court moves more nimble than his 6-foot-7, 285-pound frame should allow.

Even the freak occurrence of one of his feet tearing through its shoe in a fall to the court.

Handling all that attention became maybe the biggest lesson for the freshman, who quickly became the face of college basketball and the game's biggest star in years — then fittingly finished as The Associated Press men's player of the year.

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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