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

April 03, 2019 - 8:04 PM

Mar-a-Lago arrest spotlights security risks at Trump estate

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — As palm trees swayed in the ocean breeze, Yujing Zhang approached Secret Service agents in the Mar-a-Lago parking lot.

She said she was going to the swimming pool at the Palm Beach presidential estate and presented agents with two Chinese passports in her name. That raised suspicions with her screeners, but a call to the front desk at Mar-a-Lago revealed a club member with a similar last name and with that, and a possible language barrier, reception waved her through.

Not long after, Zhang was arrested carrying four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive and a thumb drive containing computer malware in an incident that is shining a spotlight on the unique difficulty of fortifying the oceanside Florida estate of President Donald Trump — who was staying at the club that weekend but golfing elsewhere at the time.

Zhang's arrest has revived concerns about security — particularly cyber security — at a presidential refuge that mixes social functions, world diplomacy and extraordinary access to the president. Hundreds of members frequent Mar-a-Lago and the president's other private clubs, which function as working resorts even when Trump himself visits, creating a series of challenges that test the Secret Service.

Federal officials were looking into whether Zhang was part of a larger effort to gain access to the president and do potential harm, and were combing through her devices and treating the case as a "credible threat," according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to speak about the ongoing probe and discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.

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House chairman asks IRS for 6 years of Trump's tax returns

WASHINGTON (AP) — A House committee chairman on Wednesday formally asked the IRS to provide six years of President Donald Trump's personal tax returns and the returns for some of his businesses as Democrats try to shed light on his complex financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest.

The request by Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal, who heads the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, is the first such demand for a sitting president's tax information in 45 years. The move is likely to set off a huge legal battle between Democrats controlling the House and the Trump administration.

Neal made the request in a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, asking for Trump's personal and business returns for 2013 through 2018. He asked for the documents in seven days, setting an April 10 deadline.

Trump told reporters Wednesday he "would not be inclined" to provide his tax returns to the committee.

Three of the eight Trump businesses in Neal's request are also among the 14 Trump legal entities that were subpoenaed by the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C., in a lawsuit now in a federal appeals court. That suit alleges that Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting profits through foreign and domestic officials who stay at his Washington hotel.

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LGBT progress seen in Lightfoot's win, rise of 'Mayor Pete'

NEW YORK (AP) — "Mayor Pete," as he's known to his growing fan base, is running a surprisingly strong and well-funded campaign for president. Lori Lightfoot has just won a landslide victory to become Chicago's mayor.

Together, the ascendance of Lightfoot and Pete Buttigieg — the two-term mayor of South Bend, Indiana — highlights the remarkable progress made recently by gay and lesbian politicians, to the point where their sexual orientation is either an asset or a nonissue. Both Lightfoot and Buttigieg have talked comfortably about LGBT issues and their own same-sex marriages.

"The real news is not that openly gay candidates are successful, but that being openly gay has become irrelevant," said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton White House adviser on gay issues.

"Here are two people with fresh ideas and a new vision for the future," Socarides said. "Voters don't care about their sexual orientation. That's a sea change."

It was only in 1998 that Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin became the first openly gay person to gain a seat in the House of Representatives. There are now eight LGBT members of the House, and two in the Senate — Baldwin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema, whose bisexuality never became an issue in her closely contested election campaign last year.

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14-year-old says he is Illinois boy who went missing in 2011

In 2011, 6-year-old Timmothy Pitzen's mother picked him up at school in Illinois, took him to the zoo and a water park, and then killed herself at a hotel, leaving a note in which she said her son was fine but that no one would ever find him.

On Wednesday, a 14-year-old boy came forward to tell authorities he is Timmothy.

The boy claimed he escaped from two kidnappers in the Cincinnati area and then fled across a bridge into Kentucky.

Authorities from Timmothy's hometown of Aurora, Illinois, are now checking out his story.

"We've probably had thousands of tips of him popping up in different areas," Aurora police Sgt. Bill Rowley said. "We have no idea what we're driving down there for. It could be Pitzen. It could be a hoax."

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'He hugs everybody': Women divided over defence of Biden

NEW YORK (AP) — It's simply a "human touch." He's a "warm, affectionate person." ''He hugs everybody."

In the days since allegations surfaced of uninvited touching on the part of Joe Biden, several women in politics and beyond have been coming to his defence, vouching for his character and saying it was merely his old-fashioned tactile style at issue — nothing intentional, and certainly nothing sexual.

But the nature of the defence, coming frequently but not exclusively from older women, as well as Biden's own assertion that he never felt he was acting inappropriately, raises some uncomfortable questions. Chief among them: If Biden really had no idea what he was doing, is he simply too out of step to be his party's standard-bearer in the #MeToo era?

"There's a bit of 'not getting it' when it comes to the gender story here," said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics. "To me, there's been a patronizing quality to this, an alpha male asserting himself physically, that I think is problematic for him."

Neither Lucy Flores, the former Nevada politician who described an uncomfortable kiss on the back of her head, nor the three other women who have come forward with their own stories have accused the former vice-president of sexual harassment. Rather, they've described behaviour that made them feel uncomfortable because it invaded their personal space, regardless of Biden's intentions.

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UK legislates to avert chaotic Brexit as May seeks new plan

LONDON (AP) — Britain's Brexit drama went into overtime Wednesday as Prime Minister Theresa May and the country's main opposition sought a compromise deal to prevent an abrupt British departure from the European Union at the end of next week.

In an about-face that left pro-Brexit members of May's Conservative Party howling with outrage, the prime minister sought to forge an agreement with left-wing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn after failing three times to win Parliament's backing for her Brexit deal.

May also said she would ask the EU for a further delay to Britain's departure date — postponed once already — to avert a chaotic and economically damaging no-deal Brexit on April 12. Skeptical lawmakers, reluctant to take her word for it, approved a hastily crafted law that compels May to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline if a no-deal departure is looming.

"The country needs a solution, the country deserves a solution, and that's what I'm working to find," May told lawmakers before meeting with Corbyn for about two hours.

Afterward, both the government and Labour called the meeting "constructive" and said their teams would hold more in-depth talks Thursday.

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As celebs hit court in bribe case, 1 parent to plead guilty

BOSTON (AP) — A packaged-food entrepreneur from California became the first of the 33 parents charged in the college bribery scandal to agree to plead guilty, disclosing the deal Wednesday as Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin appeared in court along with some of the other defendants.

Peter Jan Sartorio, 53, was accused of paying $15,000 in cash to have someone correct his daughter's answers on the ACT college entrance exam. The exact charges to which he planned to plead were not immediately clear.

The two actresses and Loughlin's fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, said little during the brief hearing in a packed Boston courtroom and were not asked to enter a plea. They remain free on bail. Several other parents were given similar hearings of a few minutes each.

The proceedings came three weeks after 50 people in all were charged with taking part in a scheme in which parents bribed coaches and helped rig test scores to get their children into some of the nation's most selective universities, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Southern California.

The case — the biggest college admissions scheme ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department — has roiled the world of higher education and amplified complaints the system is stacked in favour of the rich.

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Bernie Sanders to appear in Fox News town hall meeting

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel says that Sen. Bernie Sanders will appear on a televised town hall on April 15, making him the first Democratic candidate to venture onto Fox for this type of event in the current presidential cycle.

It's an important booking for Fox, after the Democratic National Committee announced last month that it would not hold any of its presidential debates on the network. The committee said it was concerned about whether Fox could hold a fair and neutral event.

Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will co-anchor the town hall, which will be held in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Scheduled for the day taxes are due, the forum will focus on the economy and jobs, Fox said on Wednesday.

It will air at 6:30 p.m. EDT. That avoids the prime-time hours where opinion shows hosted by Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham reign, and where Fox gets most of its viewers.

The Democratic National Committee says it stands by its decision not to put Democratic presidential hopefuls onstage together for a Fox event. But party leaders say that individual candidates are free to make their own decisions about media appearances. Fox, the network of choice for many fans of President Donald Trump, is routinely the most-watched cable network in the country.

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Nissan's Ghosn arrested again in financial misconduct case

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan's former Chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested Thursday morning for a fourth time by Tokyo prosecutors investigating him for alleged financial misconduct while leading the Japanese automaker.

Tokyo prosecutors said they will issue a statement soon but declined immediate comment. Japanese TV footage showed officials entering Ghosn's apartment in Tokyo, and a car later going to the prosecutors' office, barely a month after Ghosn was released on bail from the earlier arrests.

Ghosn's spokesman said the star auto executive had been arrested and issued a statement in which Ghosn strongly declared his innocence. The spokesman would not be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

"My arrest this morning is outrageous and arbitrary," Ghosn said in the statement. "It is part of another attempt by some individuals at Nissan to silence me by misleading the prosecutors. Why arrest me except to try to break me? I will not be broken. I am innocent of the groundless charges and accusations against me.".

Ghosn, 65, was first arrested in November on charges of under-reporting his compensation. He was rearrested twice in December, including on breach of trust charges. The multiple arrests prolong detentions without trial and are an oft-criticized prosecution tactic in Japan's criminal justice system.

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Britney Spears says she's taking a little 'me time'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears says she's decided to focus on self-care as she goes through a rough stretch.

Spears posted animageon Instagram Wednesday with the words, "Fall in love with taking care of yourself. Mind. Body. Spirit."

In the caption she wrote that everyone needs "a little 'me time,'" followed by a smile emoji.

Peoplemagazine reports citing an unnamed source that worries for her father and the need to help take care of him after a life-threatening colon rupture last year have continued to take a toll on the pop star.

In January, Spears announced that she was putting her planned Las Vegas residency — and the rest of her career — on hold for the sake of her father.

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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