US: North Korean missile explodes on launch
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A North Korean missile exploded during launch Sunday from the country’s east coast, U.S. and South Korean officials said, a high-profile failure that comes as a powerful U.S. aircraft carrier approaches the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.
It wasn’t immediately clear what kind of missile was fired from the city of Sinpo, but the failure will sting in Pyongyang because it comes a day after one of the biggest North Korean propaganda events of the year— celebrations of the 105th birthday of late North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather.
Washington and Seoul will try hard to figure out what exactly North Korea fired. This matters because while North Korea regularly launches short-range missiles, it is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target U.S. troops in Asia and, eventually, the U.S. mainland.
The ultimate goal is to have a full array of nuclear-tipped missiles in response to what Pyongyang says is hostility by Washington and Seoul meant to topple its government. North Korea is thought to have a small arsenal of atomic bombs and an impressive array of short- and medium-range missiles. Many outside analysts believe that North Korea has not yet mastered the technology to build warheads small enough to place on long-range missiles, though some civilian experts say North Korea can already build nuclear-tipped shorter range missiles that have South Korea and Japan within its striking range.
The U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement that Sunday’s missile exploded on launch. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it was analyzing exactly how the North Korean launch failed. Neither military knew what kind of missile was fired.
Tax Day demonstrators in US take on Trump, his supporters
CHICAGO (AP) — Thousands of chanting, sign-carrying protesters took to the streets in cities across the nation Saturday, demanding that President Donald Trump release his tax returns, so Americans can scrutinize his business ties and potential conflicts of interest.
Violent clashes were the exception during the largely peaceful demonstrations, but in Berkeley, California, police arrested 13 people and confiscated knives and makeshift weapons after fistfights broke out between factions that support and oppose Trump.
Trump was the first major-party nominee in more than 40 years not to release his tax returns, saying it was because he was under audit. He later said that voters don’t care.
But 71-year-old Ilene Singh said he’s wrong. She rode a bus from New Jersey to New York City with her friend Geraldine Markowitz, 83, to take part in protests. “We’re here to say we care,” said Singh.
Pushing her walker, Karin Arlin, 85, a Holocaust survivor who came to the U.S. from Germany when she was 9, said she’s also worried about the direction of the country.
World power whiplash: Trump reverses views on Russia, China
WASHINGTON (AP) — Once soft on Russia and hard on China, President Donald Trump rapidly reversed course in the last weeks, concluding there’s more business to be done with Beijing than with Moscow.
Trump’s evolving views on those two world powers have brought the U.S. back into alignment with former President Barack Obama’s pattern of “great power” politics. Though Russia critics welcomed Trump’s newly hardened tone, there’s less enthusiasm from America’s allies in Asia, who fear the U.S. could overlook China’s more aggressive posture toward its neighbors.
It may be that Trump, the businessman-turned-world leader, is discovering China’s transactional approach to foreign relations is better suited to achieving his own goals. Chinese leaders have sought a U.S. relationship based on the two powers respecting each other’s spheres of influence and not intervening in one another’s internal affairs.
Such a balance-of-powers approach had been Russia’s traditional stance. Moscow still wants Washington out of its backyard, but Russia’s alleged campaigns to influence the U.S. presidential election and upcoming votes in the heart of Western Europe have made it harder for American officials to take the offer seriously. Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and Trump’s newfound commitment to militarily countering any chemical weapons attacks also is proving hard to square.
Also, Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s shared tendency toward nationalist, “don’t-mess-with-us” rhetoric may be putting the pair on a collision course.
Over 100 killed during Syria’s troubled population transfer
BEIRUT (AP) — A stalled population transfer resumed Saturday after a deadly explosion killed at least 100, including children, government supporters and opposition fighters, at an evacuation point — adding new urgency to the widely criticized operation.
The blast ripped through a bus depot in the al-Rashideen area where thousands of government loyalists evacuated the day before waited restlessly for hours, as opposition fighters guarded the area while negotiators bickered over the completion of the transfer deal. Only meters away, hundreds of evacuees from pro-rebels areas also loitered in a walled-off parking lot, guarded by government troops.
Footage from the scene showed bodies, including those of fighters, lying alongside buses, some of which were charred and others gutted from the blast. Personal belongings could be seen dangling out of the windows. Fires raged from a number of vehicles as rescuers struggled to put them out.
The scenes were the last in the unyielding bloodshed Syrians are living through. Earlier this month, at least 89 people were killed in a chemical attack as children foaming at the mouth and adults gasping for last breath were also caught on camera.
The bloody mayhem that followed the Saturday attack only deepened the resentment of the transfer criticized as population engineering. It also reflected the chaos surrounding negotiations between the warring parties. The United Nations did not oversee the transfer deal of the villages of Foua and Kfraya, besieged by the rebels, and Madaya and Zabadani, encircled by the government.
AP Interview: Iran’s Ahmadinejad sees no threat from US
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday he does not view recent U.S. missile strikes on ally Syria as a message for Iran, which he called a “powerful country” that the U.S. cannot harm.
The controversial former president made the remarks to The Associated Press on Saturday in his office in northern Tehran, three days after he stunned Iranians by registering to run for president again.
His surprise candidacy must still be approved by authorities but has already upended a race that was widely expected to be won by incumbent moderate Hassan Rouhani.
Ahmadinejad dismissed suggestions that the U.S. strike on Syria might also be a warning for his country.
“I do not think it has a message for Iran. Iran is a powerful country and people like Mr. Trump or the United States administration cannot hurt Iran,” he said.
Judge halts Arkansas plan to execute 8 inmates in 11 days
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge dealt a serious blow Saturday to Arkansas’ unprecedented plan to execute eight inmates in an 11-day period, saying the men have the right to challenge a drug protocol that could expose them to “severe pain.”
The state appealed U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker’s order hours later, hoping to follow through with its planned executions, with the first scheduled for Monday. Arkansas’ supply of one of its three lethal injection drugs, midazolam, expires April 30 and Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he wants to use the drugs before they spoil.
Manufacturers object to states using their drugs in executions, and the Arkansas Department of Corrections said in previous court filings that it doesn’t have a way of obtaining more of the sedative midazolam. A drug supplier, meanwhile, asked a state judge to lift a temporary restraining order preventing Arkansas from using a paralyzing drug, vecuronium bromide, and sought to drop its lawsuit claiming Arkansas obtained the drug under false pretenses.
Another federal judge and the state Supreme Court had already granted stays to two of the eight inmates, reducing the number of planned executions to six within an 11-day period. If Arkansas had proceeded with its original plan to execute eight inmates in double executions on four days, it would have been the most people put to death by a state in that timeframe since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorized the death penalty in 1976. Only Texas has executed six inmates in less time.
Hutchinson said he would meet with the state’s lawyers and its prison officials on Monday to discuss Arkansas’ next moves as it attempts to conduct executions for the first time since 2005.
Italy’s Emma Morano, the world’s oldest person, dies at 117
ROME (AP) — Emma Morano, at 117 the world’s oldest person who is also believed to have been the last surviving person born in the 1800s, died Saturday at her home in northern Italy, her physician said.
Dr. Carlo Bava told The Associated Press by phone that Morano’s caretaker had called him to say she had stopped breathing in the afternoon while sitting in an armchair at her home in Verbania, a town on Italy’s Lake Maggiore.
Bava said he had last seen his patient on Friday when “she thanked me and held my hand,” as she did every time he called on her. While Morano had been increasingly spending more time sleeping and less time speaking in recent weeks, she had still eaten her daily raw egg and biscuits that day, he said.
A woman in Jamaica, Violet Brown, who was born in that Caribbean island on March 10, 1900, is now considered the oldest known person in the world, according to a list kept by the Gerontology Research Group. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness tweeted his congratulations to her.
Morano’s doctor, who lives a few blocks away from his patient, had been her physician for nearly a quarter of a century.
Clifton James, sheriff in 2 James Bond films, dies at 96
Clifton James, best known for his indelible portrayal of a southern sheriff in two James Bond films but who was most proud of his work on the stage, has died. He was 96.
His daughter, Lynn James, said he died Saturday at another daughter’s home in Gladstone, Oregon, due to complications from diabetes.
“He was the most outgoing person, beloved by everybody,” Lynn James said. “I don’t think the man had an enemy. We were incredibly blessed to have had him in our lives.”
James often played a convincing southerner but loved working on the stage in New York during the prime of his career.
One of his first significant roles playing a southerner was as a cigar-chomping, prison floor-walker in the 1967 classic “Cool Hand Luke.”
5 things to know about April the giraffe and her calf
HARPURSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — April the giraffe gave birth to a male calf Saturday at Animal Adventure park, a privately owned zoo in New York, as fans watched the livestream.
Five things to know about April and her newborn.
More than 1.2 million viewers watched the birth in real time thanks to Animal Adventure’s livestream. The zoo began streaming from April’s enclosure in February. People around the world have been tuning in daily. Animal Adventure’s owner, Jordan Patch, has described the global attention as “overwhelming” for him and his four-member staff, who also care for 200 other animals.
Running pioneers Switzer, Gibb took own paths to change
BOSTON (AP) — One is a neuroscientist-turned-sculptor, the other an activist and organizer. Taking different paths to the same goal, Bobbi Gibb and Kathrine Switzer outran Boston Marathon tradition and trampled the notion that women were too frail for a 26.2-mile race.
“When you’re trying to overcome a prejudice and do something you’re not allowed to do, how do you do it?” Gibb said this week as she prepared to serve as grand marshal for the 121st edition of the race, which Switzer will run again on the 50th anniversary of her landmark entry.
“I was hacking through the jungle. There was no path at all,” said Gibb, who actually hid in the bushes before becoming the first woman to run Boston, a year before Switzer strutted up to the starting line as the first official female entrant. “But I think we need all kinds of people. She’s an extrovert, I’m an introvert. Everybody has a gift to give.”
The Boston Marathon traces its origin to an ancient Greek battle and has a rich history of its own, filled with war heroes and Medford milkmen who persevered through oppressive heat, blinding rain and the occasional fox terrier that strayed onto the course.
But the story of the race’s distaff division didn’t begin until 1966, when it was still a fringe footrace of amateurs running only for an olive wreath and a bowl of beef stew.