Sanders wins 2 states; Clinton retains big delegate lead
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders scored a duo of wins in Western caucus contests Saturday, giving a powerful psychological boost to his supporters but doing little to move him closer to securing the Democratic nomination.
While results in Washington and Alaska barely dented Hillary Clinton’s significant delegate lead, Sanders’ wins underscored her persistent vulnerabilities within her own party, particularly with young voters and liberal activists who have been inspired by her rival’s unapologetically liberal message. The two Democrats were also competing in Hawaii.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Sanders cast his performance as part of a Western comeback, saying he expects to close the delegate gap with Clinton as the contest moves to the more liberal northeastern states, including her home state of New York. He also said his campaign is increasing its outreach to superdelegates, the party insiders who can pick either candidate, and are overwhelmingly with Clinton.
“The Deep South is a very conservative part of the country,” he said. “Now that we’re heading into a progressive part of the country, we expect to do much better.”
He added: “There is a path to victory.” With Clinton far in front, however, it is a difficult path.
Belgium charges 3 more attacks suspects with terror offenses
BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgian prosecutors announced Saturday they have charged three men with terror offenses over the suicide attacks on the Brussels airport and subway, as organizers cancelled a solidarity rally at the government’s request because police are too strapped to cope.
At a news conference in Brussels, officials confirmed that 24 of the 31 people killed in the attacks Tuesday had been identified, and a doctor who had served in Afghanistan said he and his colleagues have been shocked by the extreme burns suffered by some of the 270 people wounded.
Federal prosecutors said a man identified as Faycal C., who was arrested Thursday, has been charged with “involvement in a terrorist group, terrorist murder and attempted terrorist murder.”
Belgian media say he is Faycal Cheffou, the man in the light vest and hat pictured on security video with two men who blew themselves up at the airport. Cheffou is described as a local activist known to police for trying to rally asylum-seekers and homeless people to radical Islam.
Prosecutors would not confirm the Belgian media reports. A police raid was conducted at his home but no arms or explosives were found, they said.
Heavy Russian airstrikes as Syrian army fights IS in Palmyra
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces backed by heavy Russian airstrikes have seized three neighborhoods inside Palmyra, a town with famed Roman-era ruins that fell to the Islamic State group last May, state media reported Saturday.
Russian jets carried out 40 air sorties near Palmyra in the past day, hitting 158 targets and killing over 100 militants, Russia’s defense ministry said.
Syrian troops and allied militiamen have taken up positions in the three neighborhoods that are part of the modern town, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.
Palmyra, affectionately known as the “bride of the desert,” used to attract tens of thousands of tourists every year. IS drove out government forces in a matter of days and later demolished some of the best-known monuments in the UNESCO world heritage site. The extremists believe ancient ruins promote idolatry.
The militants also demolished the town’s infamous Tadmur prison, where thousands of Syrian government opponents were reported to have been tortured.
Rising GOP star in West Virginia fight for coal against EPA
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Patrick Morrisey, the West Virginia attorney general taking on President Obama’s clean power plan, is no stranger to the hot seat: He parlayed a love of tennis as a young adult into becoming a line judge at the U.S. Open and other tournaments, regularly standing up to second-guessing by irate players and fans.
Fast forward to 2016. The 48-year-old transplanted New Jersey native is challenging the Obama administration’s calls, joined by several mostly Republican states in suing to try to overturn federal greenhouse gas rules. He says taking the heat on the courts taught him to stay cool in court years later.
“You learn how to handle pressure when you have a crowd of people screaming at you for one of your calls,” Morrisey told The Associated Press. ” … Of course, I’d not like to repeat being booed out of the stadium. But that could be good practice for politics.”
Elected in 2012, West Virginia’s first GOP attorney general in eight decades has made fighting “federal overreach” his mantra. He’s leading a coalition of attorneys general that won a U.S. Supreme Court stay last month against Obama’s clean power plan.
That plan against climate change focuses particularly on cutting pollutants from coal-fired power plants. Welcomed by many, it’s blasted by critics as a possible knockout blow to the coal industry.
Cambodia’s zeal for rubber drives ethnic group from land
BOUSRA, Cambodia (AP) — For generations, the indigenous Bunong were famous as the great elephant keepers and masters of the forests in eastern Cambodia. They called the fertile, rolling hills of their ancestral homeland “meh ne,” or mother — a source of food, livelihoods and self-identity.
From its rich red soil, they harvested rice, pumpkins and bananas. From the towering forests, they gathered honey, resin and medicinal plants. Under the leafy canopies, they buried their dead and worshipped spirits they believed lived in the rocks and trees.
All that changed in 2008, when without warning, bulldozers started razing their fields and forests to make way for rubber plantations the government had granted to a European-Cambodian joint venture that will likely feed China’s burgeoning car market.
The long-term land leases, called economic land concessions, were meant to promote development in the poor, rural province of Mondulkiri, but for the roughly 800 Bunong families displaced from their ancestral land, the projects brought mostly hardship and loss.
It’s a pattern that has been repeated across the country. The Cambodian human rights group LICADHO estimates that more than 200 concessions and other state-linked land deals have harmed half a million people. The U.N. has called land conflicts, including those created by the long-term leases, the country’s No. 1 human rights problem.
Wrong number? Trump’s TV telephone interviews in spotlight
NEW YORK (AP) — In television news, a telephone interview is typically frowned upon. Donald Trump’s fondness for them is changing habits and causing consternation in newsrooms, while challenging political traditions.
Two organizations are circulating petitions to encourage Sunday morning political shows to hang up on Trump. Some prominent holdouts, like Fox’s Chris Wallace, refuse to do on-air phoners. Others argue that a phone interview is better than no interview at all.
Except in news emergencies, producers usually avoid phoners because television is a visual medium — a face-to-face discussion between a newsmaker and questioner is preferable to a picture of an anchor listening to a disembodied voice.
It’s easy to see why Trump likes them. There’s no travel or TV makeup involved; if he wishes to, Trump can talk to Matt Lauer without changing out of his pajamas. They often put an interviewer at a disadvantage, since it’s harder to interrupt or ask follow-up questions, and impossible to tell if a subject is being coached.
Face-to-face interviews let viewers see a candidate physically react to a tough question and think on his feet, said Chris Licht, executive producer of “CBS This Morning.” Sometimes that’s as important as what is being said.
Easter delivery: Cargo ship arrives at space station
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The six astronauts at the International Space Station got an early Easter treat this weekend with the arrival of a supply ship full of fresh food and experiments.
Instead of the usual bunny, Saturday’s delivery came via a swan — Orbital ATK’s Cygnus capsule, named after the swan constellation. The cargo carrier rocketed away from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday night.
NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra used the station’s big robot arm to grab the capsule, as the two craft soared 250 miles above the Indian Ocean. “Excellent work, gentlemen,” Mission Control radioed. Four hours later, the capsule was bolted firmly to the complex.
It’s the first of three shipments coming up in quick succession. A Russian cargo ship will lift off Thursday, followed by a SpaceX supply run on April 8. NASA has turned to private industry to keep the space station stocked.
The newly arrived Cygnus holds nearly 8,000 pounds of groceries, equipment and research. Among the newfangled science: robotic grippers modeled after geckos’ feet and the ingredients for a large-scale, controlled fire. A commercial-quality 3-D printer is packed inside as well; anyone will be able to order prints, for a price, from the Made In Space company. Virginia-based Orbital ATK hints Easter eggs may also be on board.
After bleak week, Pope Francis offers Easter message
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis concluded a bleak week in Europe with a message of hope during an Easter Vigil service Saturday, saying darkness and fear must not prevail and “imprison” the world with pessimism.
Francis’ call to hope on the eve of the most joyful celebration in the Christian calendar contrasted sharply with his sharp condemnation in recent days of the attacks in Belgium and elsewhere by Islamic extremists.
Francis entered the silent and darkened basilica with just a single candle guiding him at the start of the vigil. As he reached the altar, the basilica’s floodlights flipped on in a symbolic show of light after the darkness of Good Friday, which recalls Jesus’ death.
In his homily, Francis said the hope that Easter brings is a lesson for the Christian faithful to cast aside the pessimism that can “imprison” people inside of themselves.
“We see and will continue to see problems both inside and out. They will always be there,” he said. But he insisted: “Let us not allow darkness and fear to distract us and control our hearts.”
The Latest: Debatable call goes Nova’s way; Wildcats lead
The Latest on the NCAA Tournament regional finals between Oregon and Oklahoma in Anaheim, California, and Kansas and Villanova in Louisville, Kentucky (all times Eastern).
A little officiating controversy at the end of a classic game. Kansas’ Devonte Graham was called for his fifth foul with about 30 seconds left when he dove for what seemed to be a loose ball and undercut a Villanova player.
It was a debatable call.
Another foul put Villanova at the line and it was Wildcats by four when Frank Mason made a 3 for Kansas to make it 58-57 with 27 seconds left.
AP Exclusive: Rules bent to complete drug testing in Kenya
ELDORET, Kenya (AP) — From the moment the needle leaves the arm of an elite athlete in Kenya, the clock is ticking. The 3 milliliters, less than a teaspoon, of freshly collected rich, red blood offer potentially valuable intelligence about the extent of the doping crisis eating at the East African nation’s hard-earned reputation as a powerhouse of distance running. But the sample must be delivered to a laboratory quickly, within 36 hours, for testing.
And that is a major problem, because Kenya has no capable lab of its own. The nearest one is thousands of kilometers (miles) away.
Sometimes, rules are bent to get the job done.
The blood tube, sealed and signed for, is packed with others into a cool box to keep them refrigerated on their odyssey. The courier clambers into his battered but sturdy car. To make the flight out of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport later that day, he must speed down 340 kilometers (210 miles) of heart-in-the-mouth highway — from Eldoret in the Kenyan highlands, across the Great Rift Valley, and up the other side to the capital.
He will cruise past the crushed wreck of the Mercedes that former marathon world record holder Paul Tergat plowed into an oncoming truck in 2010, miraculously escaping severe injury, and the forest memorial near the Equator to more than 100 people who burned to death when a gasoline tanker overturned in 2009, spewing fuel that exploded when someone lit a cigarette. If alert and lucky, he’ll avoid the suicidal farm animals and marauding baboons that stray without warning onto the weather- and truck-beaten road, not rip tires in one of the jagged potholes, and not bust shock absorbers on the large, aggressive speedbumps.