AP News in Brief at 12:02 a.m. EDT
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AP News in Brief at 12:02 a.m. EDT

Ardern vows to deny accused mosque gunman notoriety he seeks

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s prime minister declared Tuesday she would do everything in her power to deny the accused mosque gunman a platform for elevating his white supremacist views, after the man dismissed his lawyer and opted to represent himself at his trial in the killings of 50 people.

“I agree that it is absolutely something that we need to acknowledge, and do what we can to prevent the notoriety that this individual seeks,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters. “He obviously had a range of reasons for committing this atrocious terrorist attack. Lifting his profile was one of them. And that’s something that we can absolutely deny him.”

She demurred about whether she wanted the trial to occur behind closed doors, saying that was not her decision to make.

“One thing I can assure you — you won’t hear me speak his name,” she said.

Later, in a passionate speech to Parliament, she urged the public to follow her lead and to avoid giving the gunman the fame he so obviously craves.

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Over 1,000 feared dead after cyclone slams into Mozambique

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — More than 1,000 people were feared dead in Mozambique four days after a cyclone slammed into the country, submerging entire villages and leaving bodies floating in the floodwaters, the nation’s president said.

“It is a real disaster of great proportions,” President Filipe Nyusi said.

Cyclone Idai could prove to be the deadliest storm in generations to hit the impoverished southeast African country of 30 million people.

It struck Beira, an Indian Ocean port city of a half-million people, late Thursday and then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi with strong winds and heavy rain. But it took days for the scope of the disaster to come into focus in Mozambique, which has a poor communication and transportation network and a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy.

Speaking on state Radio Mozambique, Nyusi said that while the official death toll stood at 84, “It appears that we can register more than 1,000 deaths.”

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Homes flood as Missouri River overtops, breaches levees

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hundreds of homes flooded in several Midwestern states after rivers breached at least a dozen levees following heavy rain and snowmelt in the region, authorities said Monday while warning that the flooding was expected to linger.

About 200 miles of levees were compromised — either breached or overtopped — in four states, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said. Even in places where the water level peaked in those states — Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas — the current was fast and the water so high that damage continued to pile up. The flooding was blamed for at least three deaths.

“The levees are busted and we aren’t even into the wet season when the rivers run high,” said Tom Bullock, the emergency management director for Missouri’s Holt County.

He said many homes in a mostly rural area of Holt County were inundated with 6 to 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 metres) of water from the swollen Missouri River. He noted that local farmers are only a month away from planting corn and soybeans.

“The water isn’t going to be gone, and the levees aren’t going to be fixed this year,” said Bullock, whose own home was now on an island surrounded by floodwater.

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Suspect in mob boss hit flashes pro-Trump slogans on hand

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — The man charged with killing the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family wrote pro-Donald Trump slogans on his hand and flashed them to journalists before a court hearing Monday.

Anthony Comello, 24, was arrested Saturday in New Jersey in the death of Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali last week in front of his Staten Island home.

While waiting for a court hearing to begin in Toms River, New Jersey, in which he agreed to be extradited to New York, Comello held up his left hand.

On it were scrawled pro-Trump slogans including “MAGA Forever,” an abbreviation of Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” It also read “United We Stand MAGA” and “Patriots In Charge.” In the centre of his palm he had drawn a large circle. It was not immediately clear why he had done so.

Comello’s lawyer, Brian Neary, would not discuss the writing on his client’s hand, nor would he say whether Comello maintains his innocence. Asked by reporters after the hearing what was on Comello’s hand, Neary replied, “Handcuffs.”

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Gunman kills 3 on Dutch tram; mayor fears terrorism

UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — A gunman killed three people and wounded five during a mid-morning tram ride Monday in the Dutch city of Utrecht, raising the spectre of another extremist attack only days after the murderous rampage in New Zealand.

Authorities seized a Turkish-born suspect after a manhunt that convulsed the historic city of nearly 350,000 people for most of the day.

As night set in, three victims lay in critical condition, and the motive for the bloodshed remained under investigation. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said authorities were trying to determine whether the attack had “terror motives.”

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said the suspect, identified as Gokmen Tanis, 37, was known to justice authorities and had a criminal record, but would not elaborate. Police said they also detained another man on suspicion of involvement but released no details.

The shooting came three days after 50 people were killed when an immigrant-hating white supremacist opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers. There was no immediate indication of any link between the two events.

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Lyft opens its IPO road show, to offer more than 30M shares

NEW YORK (AP) — Lyft officially kicked off the road show for its initial public offering, saying Monday it plans to put more than 30 million shares up for sale with an anticipated price of between $62 and $68 per share.

That would raise more than $2 billion for the San Francisco ride-hailing company, pegging its market value at $20 billion to $25 billion, even though it hasn’t been able to turn a profit yet.

It’s the first time that Lyft has revealed how much money it hopes to raise in the IPO, and how much it believes it’s worth. Those financial targets could still change as Lyft’s investment bankers gauge demand for the company’s stock leading up to the IPO pricing, which is expected to happen next week.

Lyft and Uber have raced to be first with an IPO, and Lyft’s rival is expected to offer shares in the coming weeks.

Uber is hoping its larger ride-hailing service will justify a market value as high as $120 billion after its IPO is completed later this spring, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Truck-driving preacher charged with killing Alabama teens

OZARK, Ala. (AP) — A truck-driving preacher charged with killing two Alabama teenagers found shot to death in a car trunk nearly 20 years ago was tied to the slayings through a DNA match uncovered with genetic genealogy testing, authorities said Monday.

The analysis linked evidence that sat for years in a police freezer to Coley McCraney, 45, of Dothan, Alabama, police said.

McCraney was taken into custody Friday and booked Saturday on rape and capital murder charges, according to officials and jail records. He now faces a potential death penalty in the 1999 killings of Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley, both 17.

Hawlett’s mother, Carol Roberts, said she went numb when she heard of McCraney’s arrest. She said that as the years ticked by, she began to doubt if the case would ever be solved.

“God gave her to me. He didn’t have the right to do that. I just want to know why,” said Roberts, who wore a button featuring her daughter’s photo at the news conference announcing the arrest.

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Warner Bros.’ chief Tsujihara steps down following scandal

NEW YORK (AP) — Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara, one of the highest ranking Hollywood executives to be felled by sexual misconduct allegations, stepped down from the studio Monday following claims that he promised roles to an actress with whom he was having an affair.

WarnerMedia chief executive John Stankey announced Tsujihara’s exit as chairman and chief executive of Warner Bros., saying his departure was in the studio’s “best interest.”

“Kevin has contributed greatly to the studio’s success over the past 25 years and for that we thank him,” said Stankey. “Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the company’s leadership expectations and could impact the company’s ability to execute going forward.”

Earlier this month, WarnerMedia launched an investigation after a March 6 Hollywood Reporter story detailed text messages between Tsujihara and British actress Charlotte Kirk going back to 2013. The messages suggested a quid pro quo sexual relationship between the aspiring actress and the studio head in which he made promises that he’d introduce her to influential executives and she’d be considered for roles in movies and television.

In a memo to Warner Bros. staff on Monday, Tsujihara said he was departing “after lengthy introspection, and discussions with John Stankey over the past week.”

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Poll: Losing Amazon second HQ deal was bad for New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Most voters in New York think it was bad for the state when Amazon dropped plans to put a second headquarters in Queens and many think U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bears blame for the deal falling through, according to a new poll released Monday.

The Siena College poll of registered voters in New York state found that 67 per cent of those surveyed said the internet retailer’s decision last month was detrimental to New York. Sixty-one per cent support the state and city again offering Amazon up to $3 billion in incentives to create 25,000 jobs if the internet giant reconsiders.

“While some may have celebrated Amazon’s announcement to pull the plug, the vast majority of New Yorkers of every stripe thought it was bad for the Empire State,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg. “Clearly, jobs outweigh the cost of government incentives in the minds of most voters.”

The company scrapped plans to redevelop a Long Island City neighbourhood for one of its second HQs after the deal met mounting opposition from local elected officials who mostly objected to the incentives package going to a company owned by the world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos.

Among those leading the charge against Amazon was Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens. When asked if several key players in the Amazon situation were a hero, villain or role player, 38 per cent of poll responders said Ocasio-Cortez was a villain, compared to 12 per cent who call her a hero and 24 per cent who considered her a role player.

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Opening day intrigue: Ichiro keeps ’em guessing about future

TOKYO (AP) — This is the Ichiro effect.

Richard Snitzer had never been to Japan. What finally drove the Japanese-American to travel here from his home in Hayward, California, was Ichiro Suzuki; not family ties, not pure wanderlust, but a chance to see a player he called “simply the best.”

And get this. He’s not even a Mariners fan, which he’s advertised by wearing his A’s jersey around the Tokyo Dome.

He’ll be there Wednesday when Major League Baseball opens the 2019 season with Seattle facing Oakland to start a two-game series. The 45-year-old Ichiro is expected to play in both. What happens next? Ichiro isn’t saying.

One thing is sure. It will be great theatre.

The Associated Press

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