AP News in Brief 02-26-18

Students return to Florida school where 17 were killed

PARKLAND, Fla. — Students at a Florida high school where 17 of their classmates and staff members were killed returned Sunday to gather their belongings thrown down in panic during the school shooting nearly two weeks ago.


Thousands of students joined their parents in walking past the three-story building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where the Feb. 14 massacre took place. It is now cordoned off by a chain link fence that was covered with banners from other schools showing their support.

“Just seeing the building was scary,” freshman Francesca Lozano said as she exited the school with her mom. Still, she was happy to see her friends. “That made it a lot better.”

Seventeen people dressed in white costumes as angels stood by a makeshift memorial outside the school before moving near the entrance. Organizer Terry Decarlo said the costumes are sent to mass shootings and disasters so the survivors “know angels are looking over them and protecting them.” Many of Sunday’s angels were survivors of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando where 49 people died, Decarlo said.

The school reopens Wednesday and administrators said families would get phone calls about details later. Sunday was a day to ease into the return.

Trump to attend Rev. Billy Graham’s funeral on Friday

WASHINGTON — The White House says President Donald Trump will attend Friday’s funeral for the Rev. Billy Graham.

The evangelist and spiritual adviser to numerous presidents died last week at his North Carolina home. Graham was 99.

Before the funeral, Graham will be afforded the rare tribute of lying in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday and Thursday.

He is to be buried Friday on the grounds of his namesake library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Trump said last week that Graham was a “great man” who had a “great family” and was “for us” — meaning Trump’s campaign — from the beginning.

Congress has ideas on gun violence, but no consensus

WASHINGTON — After a 10-day break, members of Congress are returning to work under hefty pressure to respond to the outcry over gun violence. But no plan appears ready to take off despite a long list of proposals, including many from President Donald Trump.

Republican leaders have kept quiet for days as Trump tossed out ideas, including raising the minimum age to purchase assault-style weapons and arming teachers, though on Saturday the president tweeted that the latter was “Up to states.”

Their silence has left little indication whether they are ready to rally their ranks behind any one of the president’s ideas, dust off another proposal or do nothing. The most likely legislative option is bolstering the federal background check system for gun purchases, but it’s bogged down after being linked with a less popular measure to expand gun rights.

The halting start reflects firm GOP opposition to any bill that would curb access to guns and risk antagonizing gun advocates in their party. Before the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, Republicans had no intention of reviving the polarizing and politically risky gun debate during an already difficult election year that could endanger their congressional majority.

“There’s no magic bill that’s going to stop the next thing from happening when so many laws are already on the books that weren’t being enforced, that were broken,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the third-ranking House GOP leader, when asked about solutions. “The breakdowns that happen, this is what drives people nuts,” said Scalise, who suffered life-threatening injuries when a gunman opened fire on lawmakers’ baseball team practice last year.

5 dead after tornado, flooding from central US storms

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The death toll rose to at least five on Sunday after severe thunderstorms swept through the central U.S., spawning a tornado that flattened homes, gale force winds and widespread flooding from the Upper Midwest to Appalachia.

The system that stretched from Texas to the Canadian Maritime provinces had prompted several emergency declarations even before the dangerous storms arrived.

In southwestern Michigan, the body of a 48-year-old man was found floating in floodwaters Sunday in Kalamazoo, city Public Safety Lt. David Thomas said. Police were withholding the release of his name until notifying relatives.

Thomas said the death didn’t appear suspicious but the cause wasn’t known. An autopsy was planned as early as Monday. Kalamazoo has hard hit by flooding from last week’s heavy rains and melting snow.

In Kentucky, authorities said three people died. Two bodies were recovered from submerged vehicles in separate incidents Saturday.

Trump to discuss Florida school shooting with governors

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school is the top issue he wants to discuss with the nation’s governors.

Under pressure to act to stem gun violence on school grounds, Trump planned to solicit input from the state chief executives during meetings Monday at the White House. The governors are in Washington for their annual winter meeting.

But socializing was the focus Sunday night as Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted the governors for an annual black-tie ball.

In brief remarks before dinner beneath dimmed lights in the State Dining Room, Trump said the governors are “very, very special people.”

“The job you do is really incredible. It’s not easy, but we’re very proud of you and we’re very proud to have you here,” he said as tall candles flickered and bouquets of hydrangeas adorned an assortment of round and oblong dinner tables.

Pyeongchang’s final race delivers a lasting image

NEW YORK — Highlights from media coverage of the Pyeongchang Olympics:

FINAL RACE: Marit Bjoergen striding across the finish line in the 30-kilometer cross-country ski race holding a Norwegian flag, with no competitor near her, may be a defining image coming in Pyeongchang’s final competition. After all, Norway dominated the games. Besides Bjoergen’s easy win, the race’s key moment came when Austria’s Teresa Stadlober took a wrong turn on the course, knocking her from silver medal contention to a ninth place finish. NBC’s Chad Salmela noted her confusion about the same time Stadlober realized she’d done something wrong, no mean feat since he was broadcasting the race from Connecticut off television monitors. Disappointing that NBC didn’t revisit the story to find out what happened from Stadlober’s point of view, or even to point out where she finished.

QUOTE: “I might need a bobsledder to give me a piggyback ride.” — U.S. cross-country skier Jessica Diggins, chosen as the American team flag bearer in the closing ceremony, despite racing in the arduous 30-kilometer race.

RATINGS: NBC isn’t immediately releasing viewership estimates from the last two nights of competition. Overnight estimates from the nation’s largest markets indicate they will be the two least-watched Olympic nights. NBC’s ratings were down from four years ago in Sochi but, at least at the beginning, held up better than even network executives expected. NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus put a number to that on Sunday: He said the network was able to sell an additional $20 million worth of commercial time because it initially beat the ratings guarantees that it gave to advertisers. That freed up ad time that the network initially held back as a hedge against not making those guarantees.

1968: Sublime line delivered by narrator Serena Williams in “1968,” the ambitious documentary aired Sunday about how world events affected that year’s Olympics in Mexico City. John Carlos, the American athlete who, with Tommie Smith, delivered a clenched-fist salute from the winner’s podium to call attention to treatment of blacks, visited a museum display about it in Washington, D.C. “It’s a short list of living people who can visit a statue of themselves,” Williams said.

Oodles of oohs and ughs in the Pyeongchang Games

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Wind, snow, ice or shine, the Winter Games had its share of golden moments that will forever be etched in Olympic lore.

The American men’s so-called Miracurl on Ice. Alina Zagitova. Ester Ledecka. Chloe Kim. The U.S. women’s hockey team.

There were also several not-so-spectacular performances in South Korea — and will be equally as memorable.

Russian doping. Jocelyne Larocque. Shani Davis. The U.S. men’s Alpine team.

Here’s a look at the oohs and ughs of the Pyeongchang Games:

4 critically injured by explosion and fire in UK’s Leicester

LONDON — Four people were hospitalized in critical condition following an explosion that left a building in the English city of Leicester in flames Sunday, local emergency agencies said.

Leicestershire Police initially asked the public to stay away from the road where the explosion happened just after 7 p.m. while first responders tended to what was described as a “major incident.”

The department said on its website about three hours later there was no indication the emergency was terrorist-related. It asked the news media and everyone else not to speculate about the cause.

“The cause of the explosion will be the subject of a joint investigation by the police and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service,” the police department said.

The incident on a crowded street that leads into Leicester’s city center was being treated as a search-and-rescue operation, the Fire and Rescue Service said. Six fire engines and a hazardous material response team were deployed.

California Democratic Party won’t endorse Dianne Feinstein

SAN DIEGO — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein failed to win the official endorsement of the California Democratic Party as she seeks her fifth term, another sign that the party is divided over how best to battle Republicans in Washington.

Democratic activists were more eager to back her primary challenger, state Senate leader Kevin de Leon, who is touting himself as a fresh face with stronger progressive credentials, particularly on immigration.

However, he too failed to earn the 60 percent support needed to win the endorsement Saturday at Democrats’ annual convention. That means neither candidate will get the party’s seal of approval or extra campaign cash leading into the June primary.


With Democrats still licking their wounds from the 2016 election, some of the party’s biggest stars, including U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, urged unity ahead of the midterm elections. They reminded more than 3,000 activists gathered this weekend that President Donald Trump is their common enemy.

Though party activists rebuked Feinstein, she has millions of dollars to run a successful campaign and polling has shown she enjoys wide support among Democratic voters and independents, a critical piece of the electorate in a race without any well-known Republicans.