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

April 13, 2018 - 8:04 PM

Trump: US, allies strike Syria to stop chemical weapons

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States, France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again, President Donald Trump announced Friday. Explosions lit up the skies over Damascus, the Syrian capital, as Trump spoke from the White House.

Syrian television reported that Syria's air defences, which are substantial, responded to the attack. After the attack ceased and the early morning skies went dark once more, vehicles with loudspeakers roamed the streets of Damascus blaring nationalist songs.

Trump said the U.S. is prepared to sustain pressure on Assad until he ends what the president called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons. It was not immediately clear whether Trump meant the allied military operation would extend beyond an initial nighttime round of missile strikes.

"The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead," Trump said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said in London that the West had tried "every possible" diplomatic means to stop Assad from using chemical weapons. "But our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted" by Syria and Russia, she said.

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Explosions rock Syrian capital as Trump announces strikes

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Loud explosions rocked Syria's capital and filled the sky with heavy smoke early Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons. Syrian air defences responded to the joint strikes by the United States, France and Britain.

Associated Press reporters saw smoke rising from east Damascus and the lit-up sky turning orange for the blasts. A huge fire could be seen from a distance to the east. Syrian television said the attacks targeted a scientific research centre in Barzeh, near Damascus, and an army depot near Homs.

Syrian media reported that air defences had hit 13 incoming rockets south of Damascus.

After the attack ceased and the early morning skies went dark once more, vehicles with loudspeakers roamed the streets of Damascus blaring nationalist songs.

"Good souls will not be humiliated," Syria's presidency tweeted after airstrikes began.

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FBI probes Trump lawyer Cohen's personal 'business dealings'

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors revealed on Friday that their probe of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, involved suspected fraud and the attorney's personal business dealings and was going on long enough that investigators had already covertly obtained his emails.

The details in court papers came as lawyers for Cohen and Trump sought to block the Department of Justice from examining records and electronic devices, including two cellphones, seized by the FBI on Monday from Cohen's residences, office and safety deposit box.

The raids enraged Trump, who called them an "attack on the country." Trump, a Republican, sent his own lawyer to a hastily arranged hearing before a federal judge in Manhattan to argue that some of the records and communications seized were confidential attorney-client communications and off-limits to investigators.

Prosecutors blacked out sections of their legal memo in which they described what laws they believe Cohen has broken, but the document provided new clues about an investigation the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan had previously declined to confirm existed.

"Although Cohen is an attorney, he also has several other business interests and sources of income. The searches are the result of a months-long investigation into Cohen, and seek evidence of crimes, many of which have nothing to do with his work as an attorney, but rather relate to Cohen's own business dealings," said the filing, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay.

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Chief Cosby accuser says she was too weak to 'fight him off'

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bill Cosby's chief accuser took the witness stand for the second time to tell a story of molestation and broken trust, describing for jurors how the comedian knocked her out with three blue pills and then sexually assaulted her at his home.

"I was weak. I was limp, and I just could not fight him off," said Andrea Constand, who found herself in the same cavernous courtroom on Friday less than a year after a jury was unable to reach a verdict on charges against Cosby.

Her harrowing account of the events in 2004 was consistent with the one she gave at last year's trial in suburban Philadelphia, and jurors watched intently and scribbled notes as she told how Cosby, the good-guy celebrity she viewed as a mentor and friend, had betrayed her.

"Ms. Constand, why are you here?" prosecutor Kristen Feden asked.

"For justice," Constand said.

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Trump cries "slime ball" after former FBI director slams him

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump laced into James Comey as an "untruthful slime ball" on Friday as the White House and the national Republican Party mounted a withering counterattack against the former FBI director and his stinging new memoir.

Comey is embarking on a publicity rollout of his book, "A Higher Loyalty," which offers his version of the highly controversial events surrounding his firing by Trump and the Russia and Hillary Clinton email investigations. In the book, Comey compares Trump to a mob boss demanding loyalty, suggests he's unfit to lead and mocks the president's appearance.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders stood at the White House podium Friday and called Comey "a liar and a leaker" whose loyalty is "only to himself," adding that Comey will "be forever known as a disgraced partisan hack."

Reading from prepared notes, she declared, "This is nothing more than a poorly executed PR stunt by Comey to desperately rehabilitate his tattered reputation and enrich his own bank account by peddling a book that belongs on the bargain bin of the fiction section."

Anticipating broad media attention for Comey as his book tour gets underway, Sanders scolded reporters in advance for preparing to "cover it endlessly, all day today, all day tomorrow, and my guess is every day next week with very little time given to the issues that people care about."

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Black teen who wanted directions shot at by white man

DETROIT (AP) — A black 14-year-old boy who got lost in a Detroit suburban neighbourhood while trying to get to school was shot at by a white homeowner after knocking on a door to ask directions, prosecutors said Friday, citing home security video and the account of the boy.

Jeffery Zeigler, a retired Detroit firefighter, was arraigned Friday on charges including assault with intent to murder.

Oakland County sheriff's deputies were called to Zeigler's Rochester Hills' home about 8:20 a.m. Thursday after a woman told 911 that her husband had chased a black male who tried to break in. Deputies learned that a shot had been fired and found Brennan Walker — unharmed — down the street.

Walker's statement to police differed from that given by Zeigler, according to assistant prosecutor Kelly Collins.

"We do have the benefit of home security video," Collins told the court Friday. He said Zeigler's account was not borne out by the video.

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Trump vows to back law to protect marijuana industry

DENVER (AP) — President Donald Trump has promised to support legislation protecting the marijuana industry in states that have legalized the drug, a move that could lift a threat to the industry made by the U.S. attorney general just three months ago.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado said Friday that Trump made the pledge to him in a Wednesday night conversation.

It marked the latest flip by the president who pledged while he was campaigning to respect states that legalized marijuana but also criticized legalization and implied it should be stopped.

Gardner has been pushing to reverse a decision made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January that removed prohibitions that kept federal prosecutors from pursuing cases against people who were following pot laws in states such as Colorado that have legalized the drug.

Marijuana has been fully legalized in eight states, and 24 states allow some form of marijuana use.

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Video: Will Ferrell treated after rollover freeway crash

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (AP) — Video shows actor Will Ferrell was treated by paramedics after sustaining minor injuries from a rollover crash on a Los Angeles-area freeway.

The video by OnScene.TV showed the 50-year-old Ferrell sitting on the side of the highway talking to a firefighter shortly after the Thursday night crash. Another video by LA-OC.tv showed Ferrell talking on a cellphone as he sits on a stretcher and firefighters load him into an ambulance.

Ferrell is believed to have been in a limousine SUV with three other people when a 2007 Toyota veered into their lane on Interstate 5, according to a California Highway Patrol report.

The Toyota hit the rear right side of the SUV, causing it lose control, hit the centre divider and overturn.

Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Larry Kurtz said the three men in the SUV had minor injuries, while a 27-year-old woman had critical injuries. The driver of the Toyota was not hurt.

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10 things to know about the NBA playoffs

With the NBA playoffs starting Saturday, here are 10 things to know:

LEBRON'S STREAK

Pacers fans, avert your eyes.

LeBron James hasn't experienced losing a first-round game in nearly six years.

James' teams have won 21 consecutive opening-round contests, a streak that started in Game 5 of the Miami-New York series in 2012. Combining his Cleveland and Miami years, James' teams have won 46 of their last 51 first-round games.

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Trump pardons Scooter Libby, says he was 'treated unfairly'

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump issued a pardon Friday to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, suggesting the former top aide to Vice-President Dick Cheney had been "treated unfairly" by a special counsel. The pardon comes at a moment when the president faces an escalating special counsel investigation of his own.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted the pardon was not intended to send a message to the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, saying, "One thing has nothing to do with the other." But critics noted the timing, coming as Trump fumes over Robert Mueller's probe, which he has dubbed a "witch hunt."

Trump said in a statement that he didn't know Libby, "but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly."

Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, was convicted in 2007 of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice following the 2003 leak of the covert identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, though no one was ever charged for the leak. President George W. Bush later commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence but didn't issue a pardon despite intense pressure from Cheney.

In a statement, Libby thanked Trump, saying his family has "suffered under the weight of a terrible injustice." He said Trump "recognized this wrong and would not let it persist. For this honourable act, we shall forever be grateful."

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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