Clinton vs Sanders in Nevada: Urban vs rural
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Seeking an edge, Hillary Clinton courted voters throughout Las Vegas’ sprawling population centers on Friday while rival Bernie Sanders barnstormed across northern Nevada in search of delegates in the state’s high-stakes Democratic presidential caucuses.
The divergent scenes offered evidence of the two paths Clinton and Sanders are following as they furiously stump for every vote before Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. Clinton is hoping minorities and unions in Nevada’s population center give her the edge over Sanders, while the Vermont democratic socialist aims to drive up turnout in the state’s more lightly-populated northern region to claim victory.
Sanders’ strategy is driven in part because Nevada Democrats allocate delegates to caucus winners based on congressional districts, giving greater weight to sparsely populated areas like Elko, where he campaigned Friday. Obama lost the popular vote to Clinton in the 2008 contest here but the quirky nature of the caucus enabled him to emerge with one more delegate than Clinton.
“Her base is in Clark County,” said Andres Ramirez, a Democratic strategist in Las Vegas who backs Clinton. “I think he realizes he can’t break into her support more in Clark County and he’s going to the rurals.”
Neither candidate is pursuing a single-track strategy. Clinton canceled a trip to Florida on Monday to campaign in Elko and Reno and her campaign has devoted significant resources building a field operation even in the most remote reaches of the states. Sanders has especially focused on wooing Las Vegas’ minority population, especially young people, both to win votes and to counter the Clinton critique that he only appeals to white voters.
AP-NORC Poll: Income gap, Wall Street rules big for Dems
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Most Democrats consider income inequality a very important issue and half of them think tougher regulations of the financial markets imposed after the 2008 financial crisis did not go far enough, according to a poll released as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders enter a crucial stretch for the party’s nomination.
The poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research suggested support within the party for Sanders’ fiery calls to increase regulations on Wall Street banks and address wide gaps between the nation’s wealthy and poor. Most Democrats — and Republicans — support increasing the federal minimum wage, although they favor more incremental steps backed by Clinton, the poll found.
Clinton and Sanders are vying for support in Nevada, which was among the hardest-hit states during the economic downturn and holds its Democratic caucuses Saturday. The Clinton-Sanders contest, and Republican caucuses in the state three days later, could offer a snapshot of how the presidential field is being judged against the backdrop of more economic anxiety.
The poll found that reducing income inequality, a message championed by Sanders, resonates deeply with Democrats. More than three-quarters of them in the poll say reducing the gap between rich and poor is very or extremely important for the next president to address. And 8 in 10 Democrats, but just 3 in 10 Republicans, say the government has some responsibility to reduce those income differences.
Democrats were even more likely to say that reducing poverty is very important for the next president (86 percent) than that reducing the gap between rich and poor is that important (77 percent). Among all Americans, 72 percent say cutting poverty is very important, while 57 percent say reducing the gap between rich and poor is.
Republicans face off in S. Carolina; Dems battle in Nevada
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — After a week of bitter attacks, Republicans face off Saturday in South Carolina’s presidential primary, a contest that could determine Donald Trump’s strength as a front-runner and help clarify whether a more mainstream politician will ever emerge to challenge him.
Democrats are holding a caucus Saturday in Nevada, the first test for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a more racially diverse state. While Clinton’s campaign once saw the Western battleground as an opportunity to start pulling away from Sanders, her team is nervously anticipating a close contest with the Vermont senator.
“We are here to win,” Sanders declared Friday during a rally in sparsely populated Elko, Nevada.
For both parties, the 2016 election has revealed deep voter frustration with Washington and the influence of big money in the American political system. The public mood has upended the usual political order, leaving more traditional candidates scrambling to find their footing.
No candidate has shaken the political establishment more than Trump. He spent the week threatening one rival with a lawsuit, accusing former President George W. Bush of lying, and even tangling with Pope Francis on immigration — yet South Carolina is still seen as his state to lose in Saturday’s voting.
Scalia funeral Mass being held at largest US Catholic church
WASHINGTON (AP) — A funeral Mass for Justice Antonin Scalia is scheduled to be celebrated at the nation’s largest Roman Catholic church, a place where popes have prayed and millions of pilgrims and tourists have visited.
The Mass on Saturday morning at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception caps two days of official mourning for Scalia, who spent nearly three decades on the high court and was one of the country’s most influential conservatives.
The basilica can hold at least 3,500 people, and those seats are expected to be filled with family, friends and dignitaries. Members of the public also can attend without an invitation, but they should get there early to pass through security, basilica spokeswoman Jacquelyn Hayes said.
All the current Supreme Court justices are expected to attend. Burial plans have not been announced.
More than 3,000 people — from President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to former law clerks, locals and tourists — paid tribute to Scalia at the Supreme Court on Friday, where his flag-draped casket was set atop a funeral bier first used after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
Republican 2016 hopefuls get emotional on eve of SC primary
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — The Republican campaign for South Carolina turned deeply personal on the eve of Saturday’s high-stakes presidential primary, as New York businessman Donald Trump eyed a delegate sweep and his Republican rivals jockeyed for a southern surprise.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the son of a pastor, evoked “the body of Christ” in his closing message while fending off allegations of “dirty tricks” in a state where most Republicans identify as evangelical Christians. At the same time, Trump allies took subtle shots at Pope Francis for questioning the Republican front-runner’s devotion to Christian principles. Ohio Gov. John Kasich continued hugging supporters, while Jeb Bush turned to his mother to help revive his underdog campaign.
Friday marked an emotionally charged day in the Republican presidential contest amid a growing sense of urgency. South Carolina offers the six candidates still in the race a trove of 50 delegates — and perhaps more importantly, momentum to help survive into the next phase of the campaign: March 1’s Super Tuesday.
On the other side of the country, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders competed for votes ahead of Saturday’s Democratic caucuses in Nevada.
“Guess what? There’s a caucus here in Nevada! We are here to win,” Sanders said at a rally in sparsely populated Elko.
AP PHOTOS: A selection of pictures from the past week
Highlights from the weekly AP photo report, a gallery featuring a mix of front-page photography, the odd image you might have missed and lasting moments our editors think you should see.
This week’s gallery features North Koreans celebrating a revered national holiday, protests over Turkey’s security actions against Kurdish rebels and mists rising from Lake Ontario on an extremely cold day in Toronto.
Last of ‘Angola Three’ inmates released, thanks supporters
ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. (AP) — The last inmate of a group known as the “Angola Three” pleaded no contest Friday to manslaughter in the 1972 death of a prison guard and was released after more than four decades in prison, raising a clenched fist as he walked free.
Albert Woodfox and two other men became known as the “Angola Three” for their decades-long stays in isolation at the Louisiana Penitentiary at Angola and other prisons. Their cases drew condemnation from human rights groups and focused attention on the use of solitary confinement in American prisons.
Officials said they were kept in solitary because their Black Panther Party activism would otherwise rile up inmates at the maximum-security prison farm in Angola.
Woodfox consistently maintained his innocence in the killing of guard Brent Miller. He was being held at the West Feliciana Parish Detention Center in St. Francisville, about 30 miles north of Baton Rouge. He was awaiting a third trial in Miller’s death after earlier convictions were thrown out by federal courts for reasons including racial bias in selecting a grand jury foreman.
Woodfox, who turned 69 on the same day he was released, spoke to reporters and supporters briefly outside the jail before driving off with his brother. Speaking of his future plans, he said he wanted to visit his mother’s gravesite. She died while he was in prison, and Woodfox said he was not allowed to go to the funeral.
Syria denounces ‘outrageous’ Turkish artillery shelling
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria’s government says Turkish artillery shelling inside Syria is an “outrageous violation” of international law.
In a statement published by the state-run SANA news agency Saturday, it accused Turkey of committing “crimes” against the Syrians by firing artillery shells at areas in the northern province of Aleppo.
It added that a number of civilians were injured by the artillery fire that targeted Tel Rifaat, Malikiyeh and other towns.
Turkey has in the past week kept up a cross-border artillery shelling campaign against U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia positions in Syria. It has also threatened ground action, saying it was exercising its right to self-defense and responding to fire from Syrian soil.
The main Kurdish group in Syria has denied firing at Turkey from Syria.
China’s top securities regulator steps down amid turmoil
BEIJING (AP) — China’s top securities regulator will step down following months of turmoil in Chinese stock markets that have battered faith in Beijing’s economic management.
The departure of Xiao Gang, a legal expert with decades of experience in the finance industry, may help assuage public anger at the dramatic boom and bust, but doesn’t address the market’s underlying problems.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday that Xiao would be replaced by Liu Shiyu, chairman of the Agricultural Bank of China and a former deputy governor of China’s central bank.
“Xiao Gang is worth no pity but he is destined to be a tragic figure, caught between pro-government and pro-market factions and left to take care of a mess from an unhealthy system,” Beijing-based veteran financial commentator Shi Shusi said. “His departure will not bring a clean era for China’s capital, but at most a belated consolation for investors who have been hurt.”
The capital market is where China’s rivaling political forces have come into most intense clashes, Shi said. The unusual intervention by the Ministry of Public Security and investigations against securities firms following market meltdowns are proof that covert political forces within the Chinese government had made waves, Shi said.
Serbia: 2 hostages believed killed in US airstrikes in Libya
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Two Serbian embassy staffers who had been held hostage in Libya since November are believed to have been killed in Friday’s U.S. airstrikes on an Islamic State camp in western Libya, Serbia’s foreign minister said Saturday.
Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic identified the two as Sladjana Stankovic, a communications officer, and Jovica Stepic, a driver. They were snatched in November after their diplomatic convoy, including the ambassador, came under fire near the coastal Libyan city of Sabratha.
Speaking at a news conference in Belgrade, Dacic said information about the deaths was given to Serbia by foreign officials but had not yet been confirmed by the Libyan government.
“We got the information, including photos, which clearly show that this is most probably true,” Dacic said.
American F-15E fighter-bombers struck an Islamic State training camp in rural Libya near the Tunisian border Friday, killing dozens, probably including an IS operative considered responsible for deadly attacks in Tunisia last year, U.S. and local officials have said.
Umberto Eco, author of ‘The Name of the Rose,’ dead at 84
ROME (AP) — Italian author Umberto Eco, who intrigued, puzzled and delighted readers worldwide with his best-selling historical novel “The Name of the Rose,” has died.
Spokeswoman Lori Glazer of Eco’s American publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, told The Associated Press that Eco died Friday at age 84. She could not immediately confirm the cause of death or where he died.
Author of a wide range of books, Eco was fascinated with the obscure and the mundane, and his books were both engaging narratives and philosophical and intellectual exercises. The bearded, heavy-set scholar, critic and novelist took on the esoteric theory of semiotics, the study of signs and symbols in language; on popular culture icons like James Bond; and on the technical languages of the Internet.
“The Name of the Rose” transformed him from academic to international celebrity, especially after the medieval thriller set in a monastery was made into a film starring Sean Connery in 1986. “The Name of the Rose” sold millions of copies, a feat for a narrative filled with partially translated Latin quotes and puzzling musings on the nature of symbols. But Eco talked about his inspiration with characteristic irony: “I began writing … prodded by a seminal idea: I felt like poisoning a monk.”
His second novel, the 1988 “Foucault’s Pendulum,” a byzantine tale of plotting publishers and secret sects also styled as a thriller, was successful, too —though it was so complicated that an annotated guide accompanied it to help the reader follow the plot.
US would let Apple keep software to help FBI hack iPhone
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration told a U.S. magistrate judge on Friday it would be willing to allow Apple Inc. to retain possession of and later destroy specialized software it has been ordered to design to help the FBI hack into an encrypted iPhone used by the gunman in December’s mass shootings in California.
The government made clear that it was open to less intrusive options in a new legal filing intended to blunt public criticism by Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, who said the software would be “too dangerous to create” because it would threaten the digital privacy of millions of iPhone customers worldwide.
“Apple may maintain custody of the software, destroy it after its purpose under the order has been served, refuse to disseminate it outside of Apple and make clear to the world that it does not apply to other devices or users without lawful court orders,” the Justice Department told Judge Sheri Pym. “No one outside Apple would have access to the software required by the order unless Apple itself chose to share it.”
Meanwhile, the legal fight continued to reverberate on the presidential campaign trail as Republican candidate Donald Trump called on Americans to boycott Apple until it complies with the court order.
Trump made the comment during a question-and-answer session in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, where he’s campaigning ahead of Saturday’s first-in-the-South Republican presidential primary. Trump says Cook wants to prove “how liberal he is” and told the crowd to “boycott Apple until such time as they give up that security.”
Pentagon says US bombed IS training camp in Libya
WASHINGTON (AP) — American F-15E fighter-bombers struck an Islamic State training camp in rural Libya near the Tunisian border Friday, killing dozens, probably including an IS operative considered responsible for deadly attacks in Tunisia last year, U.S. and local officials said. The strike did not appear to mark the beginning of a sustained U.S. campaign in Libya but a Pentagon spokesman said “it may not be the last.”
The spokesman, Peter Cook, said the U.S. is determined to stop the Islamic State from “gaining traction” in Libya. Cook said the training camp was “relatively new,” and that the U.S. has identified similar Islamic State training camps elsewhere in Libya, suggesting potential future strikes in defense of regional and U.S. national security interests.
In Libya, local officials estimated that Friday’s U.S. attack killed more than 40 people with more wounded, some critically. Up to 60 people were believed to be at the camp, said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence-related information.
Political chaos in Libya has allowed the Islamic State to expand across the northern coast of the oil-rich North African country, which is just across the Mediterranean from Italy and has also become a major conduit for African migrants heading to Europe. IS controls the central city of Sirte and a number of oil installations.
Adding to the concern in Washington and Europe is evidence that the number of Islamic State fighters in Libya is increasing — now believed to be about 5,000 — even as the group’s numbers in Syria and Iraq are shrinking.
Britain’s future, migrant split reveal growing EU divide
BRUSSELS (AP) — Britain is thinking of leaving. Greece feels isolated. Austria and Denmark are pushing controversial measures for coping with asylum-seekers despite what their neighbors think.
Tensions between European Union leaders at this week’s summit in Brussels have highlighted a gnawing lack of confidence that the bloc of 28 nations can provide timely answers to Europe’s challenges.
Rarely has the EU seemed as fragmented and impotent as on Friday, when leaders grappled with a possible British exit and tried to find a united response to the refugee emergency.
“The fact that every policy being discussed is strongly contested is fueling doubts as to whether the EU and its members will be able to match their rhetoric with concrete actions by cooperating more closely,” Janis Emmanouilidis at the European Policy Centre think-tank wrote in an analysis.
Still barely recovering from an economic crisis that rivalled the Great Depression, Europe is now struggling with its biggest refugee crisis in well over half a century.