AP News in Brief 04-01-18

  • Men carry boxes and packs out from the U.S. consulate as a Russian police officer guards the entrance, in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday. (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP Photo)

Teens begin Mississippi-to-Memphis march in honor of King

DUNDEE, Miss. — Wearing aqua-colored T-shirts and hydration backpacks, a group of teenagers on Saturday launched a 50-mile walk from northern Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee, a tribute to slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

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Escorted by police cars, support vans and a portable restroom, six middle school, high school and college students, along with two adult mentors, began their march in rural Dundee. Their journey along Highway 61 will take them past Mississippi Delta fields and farms, then the casinos of Tunica, before they meet friends and family on the Tennessee-Mississippi line Tuesday.

The decision to walk 50 miles was deliberate; the distance represents one mile for each year since King was gunned down while standing on the balcony of the old Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. The teens, who are from Pearl and Richland, will discuss issues related to race and civil rights as they make the slow trek to Memphis.

Spy case: Russia, US envoys leave Washington, St. Petersburg

MOSCOW — Russian diplomats and their families climbed aboard buses and left their embassy in Washington on Saturday while across the Atlantic, American envoys took down the flag from outside the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg, loaded up boxes, closed the office down and headed home.

The moves were the latest in a spy poisoning case that has escalated East-West tensions, with both sides expelling more than 150 of each other’s diplomats from two dozen countries.

Britain has insisted that the Russian government was behind the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter March 4 in the English city of Salisbury, a charge the Russians vehemently deny.

The Tass news agency says all of the 60 Russian diplomats ordered out of the United States were heading for a homebound flight on Saturday night.

Rally seeks justice for black man shot by police in backyard

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The family of Stephon Clark joined hundreds at a rally Saturday, urging California’s capital city not to let his memory or calls for police reform fade nearly two weeks after the 22-year-old unarmed black man was killed by Sacramento officers.

Clark’s fiance, Salena Manni, stood on stage with his two young sons, grandmother and uncle for the gathering organized by Sacramento native and former NBA player Matt Barnes, who pledged to create a scholarship fund for the children of black men killed by police.

“All he wanted to do was go see his sons again, and unfortunately he can’t,” Curtis Gordon, Clark’s uncle, said. “So remember that — while we mourn, while we shout, while we cry — because it ain’t just our pain, it’s their pain.”

From wire sources

Barnes amplified calls for charges against the two officers who are on administrative leave.

“It’s more than color — it comes down to right and wrong,” he said. “You’re trying to tell me I can kill someone and get a paid vacation?”

Pope in Easter Vigil baptizes Nigerian migrant-hero

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Saturday urged Catholics to not remain paralyzed in the face of the injustices around them as he baptized eight adults, including a Nigerian beggar who became a hero in Italy for having disarmed a thief with his bare hands.

In an Easter Vigil homily, Francis challenged Catholics to not remain silent, as Jesus’ disciples were after his crucifixion. Rather, he urged Catholics to “break out” of their routines and let God in.

It wasn’t clear if he had a particular reference in mind, but John Ogah certainly didn’t stand by speechless as he witnessed a supermarket robbery on Sept. 26.

According to Italian news reports, Ogah had been begging for spare change outside the Carrefour market in Rome’s Centocelle neighborhood when a masked thief, armed with a meat cleaver, tried to make off with 400 euros ($493) he had stolen from the cashiers.

Security cameras captured Ogah’s courageous next steps: With nothing more than his bare hands, he confronted the thief, wrested the cleaver away and held him by the collar until police arrived, after the man fell from his attempted getaway motorcycle.

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Hundreds line Cambridge streets to honor Stephen Hawking

LONDON — The life of renowned physicist and author Stephen Hawking was celebrated Saturday in English city of Cambridge, with hundreds of well-wishers lining the streets for a glimpse of the hearse carrying his remains to a private funeral.

There was a spontaneous burst of applause outside St. Mary the Great church when the hearse arrived. The bells of the church tolled 76 times, one for each year of Hawking’s remarkable life.

Hawking was remembered as a brave man who triumphed over motor neuron disease by continuing his research into space and time even after paralysis set in and his muscles faded.

Some 500 invited guests attended the funeral for Hawking, who died on March 14.

Actor Eddie Redmayne, who portrayed the scientist in the 2014 biographical film “The Theory of Everything,” gave a reading from Ecclesiastes during the service. There was also a reading by Astronomer Royal Martin Reese and eulogies by one of Hawking’s children and a former student.

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Officials: 2 dead in homebuilt plane crash in California

SANTA PAULA, Calif. — Officials say two people have been killed after a homebuilt airplane crashed into a shed outside the Southern California city of Santa Paula.

Ventura County fire Capt. Stan Ziegler says the two-seat aircraft went down Saturday afternoon. It was a clear and sunny day.

He says the two people were pronounced dead when firefighters got to the scene less than a mile from Santa Paula Airport.

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Santa Paula is roughly 65 miles (105 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says the plane was a homebuilt Vans RV-6A that caught fire after it went down.