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

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

March 31, 2019 - 8:04 PM

Vietnam woman pleads guilty to lesser charge in Kim killing

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia (AP) — A Vietnamese woman who is the only suspect in custody for the killing of the North Korean leader's brother pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in a Malaysian court Monday and her lawyer asked for leniency.

Doan Thi Huong nodded as a translator read the new charge to her. She had faced a murder charge, which carried the death penalty if she was convicted. The new charge of voluntarily causing injury with a dangerous weapon, by using VX nerve agent, carries a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in jail.

Her lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told the court that her guilty plea showed Huong "has taken responsibility" for her actions. In asking for a lenient sentence, he also told the court that her move saved judicial time.

Hisyam urged the judge to take into account Huong's honesty, her acceptance of responsibility and the acquittal of her co-defedant.

"She is neither a criminal nor has the propensity to commit a crime," Hisyam said.

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LA Mayor: Rapper Nipsey Hussle shot and killed at 33

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Grammy-nominated and widely respected West Coast rapper Nipsey Hussle was killed outside his Los Angeles clothing store, Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted Sunday.

Police confirmed three men were shot Sunday and one of them killed outside Marathon Clothing, the store Hussle owns. All three men were taken to hospitals, where one of them was declared dead.

Police didn't say that 33-year-old Hussle was the person who died. Representatives for the rapper didn't immediately respond to emails seeking confirmation.

Police said the other two men were in stable condition. The gunman fled, and no arrests have been made.

Garcetti tweeted, "Our hearts are with the loved ones of Nipsey Hussle."

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Biden faces new scrutiny from Dems over behaviour with women

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Vice-President Joe Biden on Sunday defended his interactions with women, saying he doesn't believe he's ever acted inappropriately. But a Nevada politician's assertion that Biden's kiss on the back of her head made her feel uncomfortable prompted some Democrats to question whether the 76-year-old is too out of step with his own party to run a successful 2020 presidential campaign.

The episode, recounted by Democrat Lucy Flores, highlighted an aspect of Biden's persona that has been publicly known for years: the affectionate whispers, hugs and shoulder squeezes he has long doled out to women, often on camera and at high-profile public events. In a moment of national reckoning over sexual harassment and the treatment of women by powerful men, some Democrats said Biden's actions have taken on a new light.

"It looks different in 2019," said Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist. Cardona said that while Biden's behaviour is not automatically disqualifying for the presidency, "it all depends on how he continues to respond to this. He has to acknowledge that his behaviour made some women uncomfortable."

In a statement on Sunday, Biden said it was never his intention to make women feel discomfort and if he did so, "I will listen respectfully."

Several women who worked for Biden stepped forward over the weekend to vouch for his character. And Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defence Secretary Ash Carter, disputed characterizations of her interactions with Biden during her husband's swearing-in ceremony. Pictures of the then-vice-president whispering in Carter's ear and placing his hands on her shoulders ricocheted across the internet at the time.

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Chief: Ride-share mistake led to death of SC college student

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The man accused of killing a woman who got into his car thinking it was her Uber ride had activated the child locks in his backseat so the doors could only be opened from the outside, police in South Carolina say.

Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook also said investigators found the victim's blood in Nathaniel David Rowland's vehicle. Rowland, 24, was arrested and charged in the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student from Robbinsville, New Jersey.

Investigators would not say what they think Rowland did to Josephson from the time she got into his black Chevrolet Impala in Columbia's Five Points entertainment district around 1:30 a.m. Friday until her body was dumped in woods off a dirt road in Clarendon County about 65 miles (105 kilometres) away.

Josephson had numerous wounds to her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot, according to arrest warrants released Sunday by the State Law Enforcement Division. The documents didn't say what was used to attack her.

Josephson's blood was found in the trunk and inside Rowland's car along with her cellphone, bleach, window cleaner and cleaning wipes, Holbrook said.

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Trump's battle with 'Obamacare' moves to the courts

WASHINGTON (AP) — After losing in Congress, President Donald Trump is counting on the courts to kill off "Obamacare." But some cases are going against him, and time is not on his side as he tries to score a big win for his re-election campaign.

Two federal judges in Washington, D.C., this past week blocked parts of Trump's health care agenda: work requirements for some low-income people on Medicaid, and new small business health plans that don't have to provide full benefits required by the Affordable Care Act.

But in the biggest case, a federal judge in Texas ruled last December that the ACA is unconstitutional and should be struck down in its entirety. That ruling is now on appeal. At the urging of the White House, the Justice Department said this past week it will support the Texas judge's position and argue that all of "Obamacare" must go.

A problem for Trump is that the litigation could take months to resolve — or longer — and there's no guarantee he'll get the outcomes he wants before the 2020 election.

"Was this a good week for the Trump administration? No," said economist Gail Wilensky, who headed up Medicare under former Republican President George H.W. Bush. "But this is the beginning of a series of judicial challenges."

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Ukraine comedian leads presidential election, runoff likely

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Early results in Ukraine's presidential election showed a comedian with no political experience with a sizable lead over 38 rivals but far from a first-round victory, while the incumbent president and a former prime minister were close contenders to advance to the runoff.

The strong showing of Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Sunday's voting appeared to reflect Ukrainians' desire for new blood in a political system awash in corruption and a new approach to trying to end the war with Russia-backed separatists in the country's east that has wracked the country for nearly five years.

With 20 per cent of the polling station protocols counted, Zelenskiy had 30 per cent, while incumbent President Petro Poroshenko was a distant second with about 17 per cent and Yulia Tymoshenko with 13, the elections commission said early Monday. The results were closely in line with a major exit poll.

The top two candidates advance to a runoff on April 21. Final results in Sunday's first round are expected to be announced later Monday.

The election was shadowed by allegations of widespread vote buying. Police said they had received more than 2,100 complaints of violations on voting day alone in addition to hundreds of earlier voting fraud claims, including bribery attempts and removing ballots from polling places.

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Michigan State coach Izzo joins Final Four first timers

Tom Izzo drew up the perfect play at the perfect moment, sending Michigan State past mighty Duke for a spot in the Final Four.

The trip is always emotional, but Izzo has done it before. This will be his eighth Final Four and a chance for a second national championship.

The other three Final Four coaches all will be the new kids at the dance.

Chris Beard's nomadic journey struck a vein of gold in his 12th coaching stop at Texas Tech, with a gritty pack of ball-hawking players grasping the program's first Final Four. Their opponent next Saturday in Minneapolis: Izzo's Spartans.

Virginia's Tony Bennett finally got over the hump in his 10th season with the Cavaliers, putting them in position for a different kind of history after last year's historic first-round flameout against No. 16 UMBC.

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One of Russia's richest women dies in plane crash in Germany

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — One of Russia's richest women, S7 Group co-owner Natalia Fileva, died Sunday in a plane crash in Germany, the airline operator said.

Fileva, 55, was aboard a single-engine, six-seat Epic LT aircraft that crashed and burned in a field as it approached the small airport at Egelsbach, a town in southwestern Germany, at about 3:30 p.m. (1330 GMT), the airline said in an email.

German police said there appeared to be three people aboard the plane, including the pilot of the flight, which originated in France. They said the two passengers were believed to be Russian citizens but that positive identification of the occupants would require further investigation.

German aviation authorities were probing the cause of the crash. Egelsbach is about 10 kilometres (six miles) south of Frankfurt.

The business publication Forbes.ru estimated Fileva's fortune at $600 million.

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Pope defends decision to keep French cardinal after coverup

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis defended his decision to reject French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin's resignation after he was convicted of covering up for a predator priest, saying Sunday the appeals process must run its course before a final decision is made.

Francis also explained why he rejected proposals by U.S. bishops to respond to the sex abuse scandal there, saying they neglected the spiritual dimension required for a true reform.

The pope referred to both cases during an in-flight news conference en route home Sunday from Morocco.

Francis' papacy has been thrown into turmoil by the eruption of the scandal on multiple continents and his own handling of cases at the Vatican. Currently, two of his cardinals — Barbarin and Australian Cardinal George Pell — have criminal abuse-related convictions hanging over them, though both are appealing.

Asked Sunday about Barbarin, Francis said the archbishop of Lyon was entitled to the presumption of innocence as long as the case remained open.

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Bait crisis could take the steam out of lobster this summer

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The boom times for the U.S. lobster industry are imperiled this year because of a shortage of a little fish that has been luring the crustaceans into traps for hundreds of years.

Members of the lobster business fear a looming bait crisis could disrupt the industry during a time when lobsters are as plentiful, valuable and in demand as ever. America's lobster catch has climbed this decade, especially in Maine, but the fishery is dependent on herring — a schooling fish other fishermen seek in the Atlantic Ocean.

Federal regulators are imposing a steep cut in the herring fishery this year, and some areas of the East Coast are already restricted to fishing, months before the lobster season gets rolling. East Coast herring fishermen brought more than 200 million pounds of the fish to docks as recently as 2014, but this year's catch will be limited to less than a fifth of that total.

The cut is leaving lobstermen, who have baited traps with herring for generations in Maine, scrambling for new bait sources and concerned about their ability to get lobster to customers who have come to expect easy availability in recent years.

"If you don't have bait, you're not going to fish. If the price of bait goes up, you're not going to fish," said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association. "We have to take the big picture, and make sure our communities continue to have viable fisheries."

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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