AP News in Brief 01-13-18

Trump’s immigration remarks lambasted from left and right

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday denied using certain “language” during a private meeting with lawmakers as fury spread over his comments about immigrants. But neither he nor the White House disputed the most controversial of his remarks: using the word “shithole” to describe Africa nations and saying he would prefer immigrants from countries like Norway instead.

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Trump’s comments came during an Oval Office meeting where he questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa as he rejected a bipartisan immigration deal, according to one participant and people briefed on the extraordinary Oval Office conversation.

“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” Trump insisted in a series of Friday morning tweets. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA.”

But Sen. Dick Durbin, the only Democrat in the room, disputed the president’s account.

“He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly,” Durbin said,

‘Mississippi Burning’ KKK leader Killen dies in prison at 92

JACKSON, Miss. — Edgar Ray Killen, a 1960s Ku Klux Klan leader who was convicted decades later in the “Mississippi Burning” slayings of three civil rights workers, has died in prison at the age of 92, the state’s corrections department announced Friday.

Killen was serving three consecutive 20-year terms for manslaughter when he died at 9 p.m. Thursday inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. An autopsy was pending, but no foul play was suspected, the statement said.

His conviction came 41 years to the day after James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, all in their 20s, were ambushed and killed by Klansmen.

The three Freedom Summer workers had been investigating the burning of a black church near Philadelphia, Mississippi. A deputy sheriff in Philadelphia had arrested them on a traffic charge, then released them after alerting a mob. Mississippi’s then-governor claimed their disappearance was a hoax, and segregationist Sen. Jim Eastland told President Lyndon Johnson it was a “publicity stunt” before their bodies were dug up.

The slayings shocked the nation, helped spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and were dramatized in the 1988 movie “Mississippi Burning.” The movie title came from the name of the FBI investigation.

Sex abuse, political turmoil overshadow pope in Chile, Peru

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ trip to Chile and Peru, originally aimed at highlighting the plight of indigenous peoples and the delicate Amazon ecosystem, is being overshadowed by the Catholic Church’s dismal record confronting priestly sex abuse in Chile and political turmoil in Peru.

On the eve of the trip, vandals attacked five churches with firebombs in the Chilean capital of Santiago and warned in a leaflet that “the next bombs will be in your cassock.” That was an unprecedented threat against the pope and a violent start to what were already expected to be the first-ever protests against Francis on a foreign trip.

The Vatican agreed to the Chile visit knowing that the local church had lost much of the moral authority it earned during the Pinochet dictatorship, when bishops spoke out against human rights abuses when other institutions were silenced. But now, the Catholic Church in Chile has been largely marginalized, criticized as out-of-touch with today’s secular youth and discredited by its botched handling of a notorious pedophile priest.

In Peru, Francis had hoped to highlight the need to protect the vast Amazon and its native peoples. But he now has to contend with a president who only narrowly escaped impeachment a few weeks ago, sparked massive protests by issuing a politically-charged pardon and is embroiled in a continentwide corruption scandal.

In a first, Saudi stadiums open to women to watch soccer

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi women were allowed into a sports stadium for the first time Friday to watch a soccer match between two local teams — though they were segregated in the stands from the male-only crowd with designated seating in the so-called “family section.”

The move was the first of Saudi Arabia’s social reforms planned for this year to ease restrictions on women, spearheaded by the kingdom’s 32-year-old crown prince. The kingdom has also announced that starting in June women will be allowed to drive, lifting the world’s only ban on female drivers.

More than just an incremental step toward greater rights, the presence of women in the sports stadium underscored a wider effort to integrate women in society and grant them more public visibility in a country where gender segregation is widely enforced and where most women cover their faces and hair with black veils and don loose-flowing black robes, known as abayas.

The first stadium to open its doors to women was in the Red Sea city of Jiddah. The stadium in the capital, Riyadh, will open to women on Saturday, followed by the western city of Dammam on Thursday.

At the Jiddah stadium Friday, young Saudi women wearing bright orange vests over their abayas were deployed to help with the female crowds. “Welcome to Saudi families,” read a sign in Arabic erected across the section of the stadium reserved for women.

Texas father charged with murder in death of Indian orphan

DALLAS — The father of a 3-year-old girl whose body was found in a culvert near their suburban Dallas home about a year after she was adopted from an Indian orphanage was indicted Friday on a capital murder charge.

Wesley Mathews, 37, was also charged in Dallas County with abandoning a child and tampering with evidence. Prosecutors said the capital murder charge, which could carry the death penalty, was filed after an autopsy determined the girl died from “homicidal violence.”

The child, Sherin Mathews, disappeared in early October, sparking a broad search involving numerous law enforcement agencies before her body was found later that month.

District Attorney Faith Johnson said evidence in the case was still unfolding Friday, but that there was no indication anyone else was involved in the death. Mathews had already been charged with felony injury to a child.

Mathews initially told police that his daughter disappeared after he punished her by sending her out in the night to stand by a tree near their home. He later told investigators the girl had developmental disabilities and was malnourished. He described a special diet regimen in which she had to eat whenever she was awake in order to gain weight.

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Trump gets 1st medical checkup since becoming president

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump received his first medical checkup as president at Walter Reed military hospital on Friday, undergoing a physical examination amid suggestions in a recent book and by his detractors that he’s mentally unfit.

Trump boarded Marine One at the medical facility in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington, Friday afternoon after about three hours at the hospital. Trump shook hands with his physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, and then waved before boarding his helicopter. Later in the day, the president was traveling to Florida for the weekend.

The fairly routine exam for previous presidents has taken on outsized importance in the age of Trump, given the tone of some of his tweets, comments attributed to some of his close advisers and Trump’s recent slurring of words on national TV.

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Some of the comments were published in a new book about Trump’s first year, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff, which White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has denounced as “complete fantasy” for portraying her 71-year-old boss as undisciplined and in over his head as president.

Trump himself has pushed back hard against any suggestion that he’s mentally unfit, declaring himself “a very stable genius.”