AP News in Brief 05-15-18

  • FILE- This 1981 file photo shows actress Margot Kidder. Kidder, who starred as Lois Lane in the “Superman” film franchise of the late 1970s and early 1980s, has died. Franzen-Davis Funeral Home in Livingston, Montana posted a notice on its website saying Kidder died Sunday, May 13, 2918, at her home there. She was 69. (AP Photo, File)

At least 55 dead in Gaza protests

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — In a jarring contrast, Israeli forces shot and killed at least 55 Palestinians and wounded more than 1,200 during mass protests Monday along the Gaza border, while just a few miles away Israel and the U.S. held a festive inauguration ceremony for the new American Embassy in contested Jerusalem.

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It was by far the deadliest day of cross-border violence since a devastating 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, and further dimmed the already bleak prospects for President Donald Trump’s hoped-for peace plan.

Throughout the day, Gaza protesters set tires ablaze, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air, and hurled firebombs and stones toward Israeli troops across the border. The Israeli military, which has come under international criticism for using excessive force against unarmed protesters, said Hamas tried to carry out bombing and shooting attacks under the cover of the protests and released video of protesters ripping away parts of the barbed-wire border fence.

Monday’s protests culminated more than a month of weekly demonstrations aimed at breaking a crippling Israeli-Egyptian border blockade. But the U.S. Embassy move, bitterly opposed by the Palestinians, added further fuel.

Sex-related charge dropped against Missouri governor

ST. LOUIS — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens declared victory Monday as prosecutors abruptly dropped a felony invasion-of-privacy charge alleging he had taken a revealing photo of a woman with whom he has acknowledged having an affair.

The St. Louis circuit attorney’s office said it still plans to pursue the case, either through a special prosecutor or an appointed assistant. But Greitens’ attorneys said the case was crumbling under a lack of evidence and doubted any charge would ever be refiled.

The first-term Republican governor still faces plenty of other problems. Missouri’s Republican legislative leaders renewed calls for Greitens to resign and confirmed they still will convene Friday in a monthlong special session to consider whether to impeach Greitens in an attempt to remove him from office.

Greitens also remains charged with a second felony in St. Louis for allegedly disclosing a donor list from a St. Louis-based veterans’ charity he founded for use in his political campaign. No trial date has been set for that case.

Greitens, who has long denied any criminal wrongdoing, walked out of the courthouse Monday with at least a momentary vindication.

“Today the prosecutor has dropped the false charges against me. This is a great victory and it has been a long time coming,” Greitens told reporters outside the St. Louis circuit courthouse. “This experience has been humbling and I have emerged from it a changed man.”

Long odds for peace as Trump roils Mideast with embassy move

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s prospects for brokering the Mideast peace “deal of the century” plunged ever deeper Monday as the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem opened amid bloodshed in Gaza. The day fueled global concern that U.S. policies are tipping the broader Middle East into deeper, intractable conflict.

At the same time, Trump is winning international support for his efforts to strike a deal with nuclear-armed North Korea. But his contentious decisions in the Middle East are roiling a region where U.S. administrations have traditionally sought perhaps their biggest diplomatic prize: an elusive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

The embassy move, which Trump hailed a “great day” for Israel even as dozens of Palestinians were killed in Gaza, damaged Washington’s stature as a mediator between those parties. And it’s but the latest in a series of U.S. decisions that may have set off a domino effect of unpredictable consequences.

“Traditionally we’ve tried to play a role of fireman in the Middle East. Now we’re playing the role of arsonist,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department and Pentagon official who runs the Mideast program at the Center for a New American Security.

Trump’s withdrawal last week from the Iran nuclear deal, against the protestations of European allies, appears to have emboldened both Israel and Iran to move more forcefully toward full-on confrontation. In Syria, Trump’s eagerness to pull out U.S. troops as soon as the Islamic State group is defeated has forced a reckoning by Iran’s enemies about the possibility that Tehran will fill the void.

Margot Kidder, Lois Lane in the ‘Superman’ franchise, dies

LOS ANGELES — Margot Kidder, the Canadian actress who starred as a salty and cynical Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in the “Superman” film franchise of the 1970s and 1980s, has died. She was 69.

Kidder’s manager Camilla Fluxman Pines said she died peacefully in her sleep on Sunday. Police in Livingston, Montana, said in a statement that officers were called to Kidder’s home, where they found her dead. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause, but no foul play is suspected.

“Superman,” directed by Richard Donner and released in 1978, was a superhero blockbuster two decades before comic book movies became the norm at the top of the box office. Makers of today’s Marvel and D.C. films cite “Superman” as an essential inspiration.

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Kidder, as ace reporter Lane, was a salty, sexually savvy adult who played off of the boyish, farm-raised charm of Reeve’s Clark Kent, though her dogged journalism constantly got her into dangerous scrapes that required old-fashioned rescues.

Kidder had many of the movies’ most memorable lines, including “You’ve got me?! Who’s got you?!” when she first encountered the costumed hero as she and a helicopter plunged from the top of a Metropolis building.