How a warrant for Putin puts new spin on Xi visit to Russia
WASHINGTON (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week highlighted China’s aspirations for a greater role on the world stage. But they also revealed the perils of global diplomacy: Hours after Friday’s announcement of the trip, an international arrest warrant was issued for Putin on war crimes charges, taking at least some wind out of the sails of China’s big reveal.
The flurry of developments — which followed China’s brokering of an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic relations and its release of what it calls a “peace plan” for Ukraine — came as the Biden administration watches warily Beijing’s moves to assert itself more forcefully in international affairs.
US President Joe Biden said Friday he believes the decision by the International Criminal Court in The Hague to charge Putin was “justified.” Speaking to reporters as he left the White House for his Delaware home, he said Putin “clearly committed war crimes.”
While the US does not recognize the court, Biden said it “makes a very strong point” to call out the Russian leader for his actions in ordering the invasion of Ukraine.
Other US officials privately expressed satisfaction that an international body had agreed with Washington’s assessment that Russia has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
Officials are preparing security in case of Trump indictment
NEW YORK (AP) — Law enforcement officials in New York are making security preparations for the possibility that former President Donald Trump could be indicted in the coming weeks and appear in a Manhattan courtroom in an investigation examining hush money paid to women who alleged sexual encounters with him, four law enforcement officials said Friday.
There has been no public announcement of any time frame for the grand jury’s secret work, including any potential vote on whether to indict the ex-president.
The law enforcement officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said authorities are just preparing in case of an indictment. They described the conversations as preliminary and are considering security, planning and the practicalities of a potential court appearance by a former president.
Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, told The Associated Press that if Trump is indicated, “we will follow the normal procedures.”
The Manhattan district attorney’s office had no comment. A message was left for court administrators.
Fairleigh Dickinson stuns No. 1 seed Purdue in March Madness
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Fairleigh Dickinson brought down a giant.
Pulling off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, the undersized, underdog Knights stunned top-seeded Purdue 63-58 on Friday night, becoming the second No. 16 seed to win a game in March Madness.
The shortest of the 363 Division I teams in the country, the Knights (21-15) showed no fear in swarming 7-foot-4 All-America center Zach Edey from the start and simply outplayed the Big Ten champion Boilermakers (29-6 ).
“If we played them 100 times, they’d probably beat us 99 times,” FDU coach Tobin Anderson said. “Play them 100 times, we have one win. But tonight’s the one we had to be unique, we had to be unorthodox. We had to make it tough on them, just be different.”
Sean Moore scored 19 points to lead FDU and a relentless defensive charge — the Knights pressed most of the game — by a team that now has everyone’s attention.
Wyoming governor signs measure prohibiting abortion pills
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill Friday night prohibiting abortion pills in the state and also allowed a separate measure restricting abortion to become law without his signature.
In a statement, Gordon expressed concern that the latter law, dubbed the Life is a Human Right Act would result in a lawsuit that will “delay any resolution to the constitutionality of the abortion ban in Wyoming.”
He noted that earlier in the day, plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit filed a challenge to the new law in the event he did not issue a veto.
“I believe this question needs to be decided as soon as possible so that the issue of abortion in Wyoming can be finally resolved, and that is best done with a vote of the people,” Gordon, a Republican, said in a statement.
The Wyoming governor’s decision on abortion pills comes after they took center stage this week in Texas, where a federal judge raised questions about a Christian group’s effort to overturn the decades-old US approval of a leading abortion drug, mifepristone.
Judge orders more Trump lawyer testimony in Mar-a-Lago probe
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors investigating the potential mishandling of classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate will be able to again question a Trump lawyer before a grand jury, a judge has ruled in a sealed order.
The order will require M. Evan Corcoran to answer additional questions as prosecutors pursue their investigation into classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago as well as potential efforts to obstruct that probe. The order was described Friday by a person familiar with it, who was not authorized to discuss a sealed proceeding and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
The precise scope of the order, which is expected to be appealed, was not immediately clear. Neither Corcoran nor his lawyer de él returned messages seeking comment, and a spokesman for special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the investigation, also did not respond to an email about the order.
A Trump spokesman said the Trump team would “fight the Department of Justice on this front and all others that jeopardize fundamental American rights and values.”
Corcoran had already appeared weeks ago before the federal grand jury in Washington investigating the Mar-a-Lago matter, but he had invoked attorney-client privilege in declining to answer certain questions. That privilege protects lawyers from being forced to share with prosecutors details of the conversations they have with clients.
Lance Reddick, ‘The Wire’ and ‘John Wick’ star, dies at 60
NEW YORK (AP) — Lance Reddick, a character actor who specialized in intense, icy and possibly sinister authority figures on TV and film, including “The Wire,” “Fringe” and the “John Wick” franchise, has died. He was 60.
Reddick died “suddenly” Friday morning, his publicist Mia Hansen said in a statement, attributing his death to natural causes. No further details were provided.
Wendell Pierce, Reddick’s co-star on “The Wire” paid tribute on Twitter. “A man of great strength and grace,” he wrote. “As talented a musician as he was an actor. The epitome of class.” “John Wick — Chapter Four” director Chad Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves said they dedicated the upcoming film to Reddick and were “deeply saddened and heartbroken at the loss.”
Reddick was often put in a suit or a crisp uniform during his career, playing tall, taciturn and elegant men of distinction. He was best known for his role de él as straight-laced Lt. Cedric Daniels on the hit HBO series “The Wire,” where his character de él was agonizingly trapped in the messy politics of the Baltimore police department.
“The Wire” creator David Simon praised Reddick on Twitter: “Consummate professional, devoted collaborator, lovely and gentle man, loyal friend. Could go on, but no, I can’t go on. This is gutting. And way, way, way too soon.”
New COVID origins data point to raccoon dogs in China market
BEIJING (AP) — Genetic material collected at a Chinese market near where the first human cases of COVID-19 were identified show raccoon dog DNA coming with the virus, adding evidence to the theory that the virus originated from animals, not from a lab, international experts say.
“These data do not provide a definitive answer to how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important to moving us closer to that answer,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.
How the coronavirus emerged remains unclear. Many scientists believe it most likely jumped from animals to people, as many other viruses have in the past, at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. But Wuhan is home to several labs involved in collecting and studying coronaviruses, fueling theories scientists say are plausible that the virus may have leaked from one.
The new findings do not settle the question, and they have not been formally reviewed by other experts or published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Tedros criticized China for not sharing the genetic information earlier, telling a press briefing that “this data could have and should have been shared three years ago.”
Mother: Irvo Otieno was ‘brilliant and creative and bright’
Irvo Otieno had realized his passion: making hip-hop. He could write a song in less than five minutes. And he was streaming his music by him under the moniker “Young Vo,” while working toward starting his own record label.
“He had found his thing — you know that feeling when you find your thing?” his mother Caroline Ouko told reporters Thursday. “He would go in his room and shut the door. And he had it—he was brilliant and creative and bright.”
But, the mother added, “All I’m left with is his voice.”
Ouko remembered her son’s life at an hourlong news conference that focused primarily on his death March 6 at a state mental hospital in Virginia.
Ouko had just viewed video of Otieno’s final minutes as he was being admitted to Central State Hospital south of Richmond, during which she and her attorneys say sheriff’s deputies smothered him, pressing him down until his body was “clearly lifeless.” His arms and legs of him were bound, they said, but he posed no threat to the deputies and hospital employees who’ve since been charged with second-degree murder.
Former Air Force officer gets prison term for Capitol attack
WASHINGTON (AP) — A retired Air Force officer who stormed the US Capitol dressed in combat gear and carried zip-tie handcuffs into the Senate gallery was sentenced on Friday to two years in prison.
Larry Brock, 55, of Grapevine, Texas, joined other rioters on the Senate floor only minutes after then-Vice President Mike Pence, senators and their staff evacuated the chamber to escape the mob attacking the building on Jan. 6, 2021.
US District Judge John Bates also sentenced Brock to two years of supervised release after his prison term and ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service. Brock, who declined to speak in court before the judge imposed his sentence, remains free until he must report to prison at a date to be determined.
Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
Bates convicted Brock in November after a trial without a jury. Brock waived his right to a jury trial.
Lack of hugs caused US fentanyl crisis, Mexico’s leader says
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president said Friday that US families were to blame for the fentanyl overdose crisis because they don’t hug their kids enough.
The comment by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador caps a week of provocative statements from him about the crisis caused by the fentanyl, a synthetic opioid trafficked by Mexican cartels that has been blamed for about 70,000 overdose deaths per year in the United States.
López Obrador said family values have broken down in the United States, because parents don’t let their children live at home long enough. He has also denied that Mexico produces fentanyl.
On Friday, the Mexican president told a morning news briefing that the problem was caused by “a lack of hugs, of embraces.”
“There is a lot of disintegration of families, there is a lot of individualism, there is a lack of love, of brotherhood, of hugs and embraces,” López Obrador said of the US crisis. “That is why they (US officials) should be dedicating funds to address the causes.”