AP News in Brief 02-05-18

Democratic, GOP lawmakers: Memo doesn’t clear Trump

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was wrong to assert that a GOP-produced classified memo on FBI surveillance powers cleared him in the Russia investigation, Democratic and Republican lawmakers said Sunday. They expressed hope that special counsel Robert Mueller’s work would continue without interference.

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Democrats could seek a vote on publicly releasing their rebuttal memo when the GOP-led House Intelligence Committee meets late Monday afternoon. The committee rejected that move last week, with one Republican member saying revisions were needed so the memo would not endanger national security. The Senate’s Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, urged Trump to back the public release and said that refusing to do so would show the president’s intent to undermine the Russia investigation.

The committee’s top Democrat, California Rep. Adam Schiff, branded the GOP memo “a political hit job.” He questioned whether the chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., had coordinated with the White House in drafting the document seized on by the president to vent his grievances against the nation’s premier law enforcement agencies.

“The goal here is to undermine the FBI, discredit the FBI, discredit the Mueller investigation, do the president’s bidding,” Schiff said. “I think it’s very possible his staff worked with the White House.”

Nunes was asked during a Jan. 29 committee meeting whether he had coordinated the memo with the White House. “As far as I know, no,” he responded, then refused to answer when asked whether his staff members had communicated with the White House. He had previously apologized for sharing with the White House secret intelligence intercepts related to an investigation of Russian election interference before talking to committee members.

Hitler book, supremacist flag found in Italy suspect’s home

MILAN — A right-wing extremist suspected of shooting six Africans in central Italy was “lucid and determined, aware of what he had done” and exhibited no remorse, an Italian law enforcement official said Sunday.

Luca Traini, 28, remained jailed as police investigated him on multiple counts of attempted murder with the aggravating circumstance of “racial hatred” for the Saturday attacks in the Italian city of Macerata.

The five men and one woman wounded in the two-hour drive-by shooting spree are from Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and Mali, according to RAI state television.

Italian authorities said they seized Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” other publications linked to Nazism and a flag with a Celtic cross, a symbol commonly used by white supremacists, from Traini’s home Sunday.

The suspect was an unsuccessful candidate last year in a local election for the anti-migrant Northern League political party. Italy’s ANSA news agency quoted acquaintances saying he previously had ties with the neo-fascist Forza Nuova and CasaPound parties.

Yellen disappointed not to get a second term as Fed chair

WASHINGTON (AP) — Janet Yellen said she was disappointed that President Donald Trump didn’t offer her a second term as Federal Reserve chair, but supports her central bank successor, Jerome Powell, who takes over on Monday.

Powell, a Fed board member since 2012, is “thoughtful, balanced, dedicated to public service. I’ve found him to be a very thoughtful policymaker,” Yellen said in an interview with CBS’ “Sunday Morning.”

She also said the stock market — the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 25,520 Friday after a 665-point drop — was “high,” and that the financial system was in stronger shape to handle a sharp sell-off than it was during the 2008 financial crisis. She cited changes put in place since that time; Trump has been critical of that effort.

“”The financial system is much better capitalized. The banking system is more resilient,” Yellen said. “Our overall judgment is that, if there were to be a decline in asset valuations, it would not damage unduly the core of our financial system.”

Yellen, appointed by President Barack Obama, was the first woman to lead the Fed. Her four-year term ended Friday. She is joining the Brookings Institution think tank.

Outside Yemen’s rebel-held capital, stalemated war rages on

ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF SANAA, Yemen (AP) — In the rocky highlands outside of Yemen’s rebel-held capital, it quickly becomes clear how the Arab world’s poorest country remains mired in a stalemated civil war.

Soldiers and militiamen loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognized government describe having a tantalizing view on a clear day of Sanaa’s international airport from the moonscape mountains. The price is a steady barrage of incoming fire on the exposed hillside from Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, that makes any further advance treacherous, even with the aid of Saudi-led airstrikes.

The nearly three-year civil war, pitting the Saudi-led coalition against the rebels, has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced 2 million and helped spawn a devastating cholera epidemic — and yet the front lines have hardly moved.

“In mountainous areas like this it’s difficult. The American Army struggled with that in Afghanistan,” Yemeni Maj. Gen. Nasser Ali al-Daibany told Associated Press reporters who were granted access to the front lines on a tour organized by the Saudi-led coalition. “But for us this won’t slow us down … because our boys, our fighters, were trained in these mountains, so they are the sons of this area.”

The comparison to Afghanistan, where the U.S. war is now 16 years old, feels apt.

7 weeks later, ‘Jumanji’ is no. 1 at box office

NEW YORK (AP) — The heir to “Titanic” is … “Jumanji: Welcome the Jungle”?

For the first time since James Cameron’s 1998 disaster epic, a December release has topped the weekend box office in February. Seven weeks after first opening in theaters, Sony Pictures’ “Jumanji” again took the top spot at the North American box office with an estimated $11 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday.

On a sluggish Super Bowl weekend, that was good enough to surpass last week’s no. 1 film, “Maze Runner: The Death Cure.” The third installment in the YA trilogy slid 58 percent in its second week with $10.2 million in ticket sales. Though “The Death Cure” is behind the pace of the first two “Maze Runner” films, it’s made $142.9 million overseas, including an international-best $35.2 million this weekend.

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But it’s the fourth weekend out of seven in which the “Jumanji” reboot, starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, has led all films domestically. It has carved an unlikely path on route to its record-setting run. Met with little initial fanfare, “Jumanji” played second fiddle for its first two weeks of release to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

But riding good word of mouth and relatively little family-film competition, “Jumanji” has become one of Sony’s biggest hits ever, ranking behind only its “Spider-Man” films. It has now grossed $352.6 million in the U.S. and Canada.