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

March 03, 2018 - 8:04 PM

Police: Gun in student's shooting of parents belonged to dad

A 19-year-old student charged with fatally shooting his parents at a Central Michigan University dormitory had been acting so strangely the day before the killings that campus police talked to his mother and then took him to a hospital for suspected drug abuse, authorities said Saturday.

University police Chief Bill Yeagley told reporters that James Eric Davis Jr.'s parents had just picked him up from that hospital and brought him to his dorm to pack up for spring break when Friday's shooting happened. He said the gun used in the shooting belonged to Davis' father, James Davis Sr., a part-time police officer in the Chicago suburb of Bellwood.

Yeagley would not say whether the father had brought the gun to the university's campus in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, when picking up his son, but he noted that Davis Jr. can be seen on video in the dorm's parking lot with the gun before he entered the residence hall where his parents were shot around 8:30 a.m.

"We can make a lot of assumptions, but I'm not going to make those assumptions. But I can tell you for sure that the gun came from outside, in the parking lot, with (Davis Jr.) through the building," Yeagley said.

Davis Jr. has been charged with two counts of murder and a weapons charge in the shootings, university spokeswoman Heather Smith said Saturday.


Global school security measures vary, but no arming teachers

The United States is in the midst of a national debate over school security after the mass shooting at a Florida school.

To President Donald Trump and some gun supporters, the solution is to put more guns in the hands of trained school staff — including teachers — to "play defence" against a rampaging gunman.

The rest of the world has different strategies to deal with violence around schools. But the U.S. appears to be the only place in the world where some want to arm teachers to the degree the president wants.

Rather, emergency drills, armed guards patrolling school campuses and intruder drills seem to be more of the norm.

Here is a look at school security measures at some countries around the world.


Power outages, flooding linger following powerful nor'easter

BOSTON (AP) — Tens of thousands of utility workers in the Northeast raced to restore power to more than 1.5 million homes and businesses just days after a powerful nor'easter caused flooding and wind damage from Virginia to Maine.

As conditions slowly improved on Saturday, the cleanup of snapped trees, damaged structures and mountains of debris began. Flood waters had receded in most areas, but Friday's storm had taken huge chunks out of the coastline in Massachusetts and other states. Meanwhile, forecasters were watching another potential weather system that could bring rain, or even more snow, to the region later in the week.

"We've been here a long time and we've never seen it as bad as this," said Alex Barmashi, who lives in the hard-hit village of Sagamore Beach in Massachusetts.

Up the coast in Scituate, Becky Smith watched as ocean waters started to fill up a nearby marina's parking lot from her vantage point at the Barker Tavern, a restaurant overlooking the harbour.

"It looks like a war zone," she said Saturday, describing the scene in the coastal town near Boston where powerful waves dumped sand and rubble on roads and winds uprooted massive trees. "It's a lot of debris, big rocks and pieces of wood littering the streets."


China sets stage for Xi's historic grab to rule indefinitely

BEIJING (AP) — President Xi Jinping is poised to make a historic power grab as China's legislators gather from Monday to approve changes that will let him rule indefinitely and undo decades of efforts to prevent a return to crushing dictatorship.

This year's gathering of the ceremonial National People's Congress has been overshadowed by Xi's surprise move — announced just a week ago — to end constitutional two-term limits on the presidency. The changes would allow Xi, already China's most powerful leader in decades, to extend his rule over the world's second largest economy possibly for life.

"This is a critical moment in China's history," said Cheng Li, an expert on elite China politics at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The move is widely seen as the culmination of the 64-year-old Xi's efforts since being appointed leader of the ruling Communist Party in 2012 to concentrate power in his own hands and defy norms of collective leadership established over the past two decades. Xi has appointed himself to head bodies that oversee national security, finance, economic reform and other major initiatives, effectively sidelining the party's No. 2 figure, Premier Li Keqiang.

Once passed, the constitutional amendment would upend a system enacted by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 to prevent a return to the bloody excesses of a lifelong dictatorship typified by Mao Zedong's chaotic 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.


Vulnerable lawmakers answer a noisy gun debate with silence

NEW YORK (AP) — They crowded around the White House conference table this past week, lawmakers from California, Connecticut, Texas and Florida, eager to share their state's painful experience with gun violence.

One key state was not represented. No one from Nevada, home to the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history just five months ago, attended the televised discussion with the president.

But in the politics of gun control, even those who say the least have considerable sway. Despite a clamour for action in the wake of the Florida school shooting, a powerful group of vulnerable lawmakers — both Republicans and Democrats — have pointedly avoided the national conversation about guns.

They often choose strategic silence rather than get crosswise with the National Rifle Association's die-hard supporters on the right or the growing movement of passionate gun control advocates on the left.

The office of Nevada's senior senator, Republican Dean Heller, would not say why did he did not attend the White House meeting. Heller, who is facing a tough re-election fight, has avoided the spotlight in the subsequent days as well, declining to address specifics about his positions on gun legislation.


West Virginia teachers: No raise? No school; strike goes on

Unions representing West Virginia teachers and service personnel say they will stay out on strike after the state Senate voted to cut the 5 per cent pay raise they had negotiated with Gov. Jim Justice.

In a joint statement Saturday, the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, West Virginia Education Association and the School Service Personnel Association said Senate President Mitch Carmichael and his leadership team had left them with no choice after they voted to reduce the raise to 4 per cent.

The statement said all public schools in West Virginia would be closed again Monday "and remain closed until the Senate honours the agreement that was made."

The Republican-controlled Senate voted Saturday evening to approve the lower pay raise, bucking teachers, Republican Gov. Jim Justice and the Republican-controlled House, which approved the 5 per cent raise on Wednesday. The two bills will now have to be reconciled. It was unclear how soon that process would begin.

The Senate's vote came as the teachers' strike rolled into its second weekend. Republican Sen. Greg Boso of Nicholas introduced the amendment to lower the raise, which the full Senate adopted by a vote of 19-15.


Florida lawmakers debate school-safety bill in rare session

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Senate agreed to advance a bill that would increase school safety and restrict gun purchases during a rare Saturday session that often turned into a debate on gun control and arming teachers in the aftermath of last month's Parkland school shootings.

The Senate spent nearly eight hours debating dozens of amendments to the 100-page bill before finally approving the legislation for a final vote on Monday. Democratic proposals to ban assault rifles and large-capacity magazines were rejected, as was a Democratic proposal to strip language from the bill that would create a program to arm teachers who have gone through law-enforcement training if school districts choose to take part in the so-called marshal plan.

The Senate began the session at 10 a.m. and was originally supposed to wrap up discussion by 1 p.m. But senators extended the session and didn't wrap up until after 6 p.m.

It was clear that senators were divided on the bill, and not just on party lines. While crafted by Republicans, some GOP senators still opposed it because they don't agree with raising the minimum age to guy a rifle from 18 to 21 or requiring a waiting period to buy the weapons.

Democrats believe the legislation doesn't go far enough in some ways and too far in others. And while some oppose the bill, others believe it's at least a first step toward gun safety.


Official Washington, press trade humorous jabs at Gridiron

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long the subject of barbed tweets from President Donald Trump, members of the Washington press corps sharpened their wits for musical and rhetorical takedowns of the president, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and others Saturday night at the annual dinner of the Gridiron Club and Foundation.

Trump accepted an invitation to the 133rd anniversary dinner, his first given that he declined to attend last year. The event traces its history to 1885, the year President Grover Cleveland refused to attend. Every president since has come to at least one Gridiron.

"Rest assured, Mr. President, this crowd is way bigger than Cleveland's," Club President David Lightman, congressional editor for McClatchy News, told the white-tie audience at the Renaissance Washington Hotel, according to prepared remarks released ahead of the event.

Cleveland skipped the dinner because "he thought our columns were filled with 'mean and cowardly lies,'" Lightman said. "He did, however, have a soft spot for 'Fox & Friends.'"

Rebuttals were scheduled from one Republican, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and one Democrat, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.


Kansas voting rights trial has national implications

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A conservative Republican who has supported President Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claim that millions of illegal votes cost Trump the popular vote in 2016 will have to prove Kansas has a problem with voter fraud if he's to win a legal challenge to voter registration requirements he's championed.

The case headed to trial starting Tuesday has national implications for voting rights as Republicans pursue laws they say are aimed at preventing voter fraud but that critics contend disenfranchise minorities and college students who tend to vote Democratic and who may not have such documentation readily available. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is running for governor and was part of Trump's now-disbanded commission on voter fraud , has long championed such laws and is defending a Kansas requirement that people present documentary proof of citizenship — such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or a passport — when they register to vote.

"Kansas is the site of the major showdown on this issue, and Kris Kobach has been such a prominent advocate for concerns about noncitizens voting and other fraudulent behaviour. He essentially led the Trump commission on vote fraud and integrity and he has been a lightning rod — which makes him a hero to people on his side of the argument in trying to tighten up voting laws, but makes him kind of a mischief-maker and a distraction for people who are on the other side," said Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Courts have temporarily blocked Kobach from fully enforcing the Kansas law, with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver calling it "a mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right."

The trial before U.S District Judge Julie Robinson in Kansas City, Kansas, centres on the National Voter Registration Act, commonly known as the Motor Voter Law, which allows people to register to vote when applying for a driver's license. Robinson will decide whether Kobach has legal authority to demand such citizenship paperwork, and a key consideration will be whether Kansas has a significant problem with noncitizens registering to vote.


Trump's tariff talk provokes rarely seen urgency among GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in Congress have learned to ignore President Donald Trump's policy whims, knowing whatever he says one day on guns, immigration or other complicated issues could very well change by the next.

But Trump's decision to seek steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has provoked rarely seen urgency among Republicans, now scrambling to convince the president that he would spark a trade war that could stall the economy's recent gains if he doesn't reverse course.

The issue pits Trump's populist promises to his voters against the party's free trade orthodoxy and the interests of business leaders. Unlike recent immigration and gun policy changes that require legislation, Trump can alter trade policy by executive action. That intensifies the pressure on Republican lawmakers to change his mind before he gives his final approval for the penalties as early as this coming week.

Trump on Saturday showed no sign of backing away, threatening on Twitter to impose a tax on cars made in Europe if the European Union responds to the tariffs by taxing American goods. He also railed about "very stupid" trade deals by earlier administrations and said other countries "laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!"

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called Trump after the president's surprise announcement, and continues to hope the White House will reconsider the decision. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and others have offered the president their own private counsel. Some are appealing to his desire for a robust stock market and warning that the trade penalties could unravel some of the gains they attribute to the tax bill he signed last year.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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