AP News in Brief 02-06-19

  • In this image provided on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 by the Brigade de Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris (Paris Fire Brigade) a fire rages through the top floors of an apartment building in Paris, France. The Paris fire service says seven people have been killed and at least 28 injured in a fire in a residential building. (Benoit Moser/BSPP via AP)

Virginia’s highest office frozen as Northam weighs next move

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s office put much of the business of governing on hold Tuesday as the Democrat privately weighed whether he can stay in the job despite the uproar over a racist photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

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While Northam himself gave no public indication of which way he was leaning, a close friend, Republican state Sen. Richard Stuart, said he is convinced the governor won’t resign. He said Northam told him he felt a responsibility to stay in office and make amends.

Northam was conferring with top advisers about whether he can govern effectively in light of the turmoil over the photo, which depicts someone in blackface standing next to another person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. The picture, which surfaced Friday, set off a barrage of calls from his own party for his resignation.

In the meantime, negotiations between the governor’s office and the Republicans who run the legislature were suspended on what was otherwise one of the busiest days on the legislative calendar. Northam wasn’t making any of the public appearances he does almost every weekday. The regular economic development announcement emails have stopped.

Pope publicly acknowledges clergy sexual abuse of nuns

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — Pope Francis on Tuesday publicly acknowledged the scandal of priests and bishops sexually abusing nuns and vowed to do more to fight the problem, the latest sign that there is no end in sight to the Catholic Church’s abuse crisis — and that it now has a reckoning from the #MeToo movement.

Francis admitted to the problem for the first time in public during a news conference while returning to Rome from the United Arab Emirates. The acknowledgment comes just two weeks before he hosts an unprecedented gathering of bishops to craft a global response to the scandal of priestly predators who target children and the superiors who covered up the crimes.

Francis was asked about priests who target adult women — the religious sisters who are the backbone of the Catholic Church’s education, health care and social service ministries around the globe — and whether the Holy See might consider a similar universal approach to combat that issue.

“It’s not that everyone does this, but there have been priests and bishops who have,” Francis told reporters. “And I think that it’s continuing because it’s not like once you realize it that it stops. It continues. And for some time we’ve been working on it.”

“Should we do something more? Yes. Is there the will? Yes. But it’s a path that we have already begun,” Francis said.

Apartment inferno kills 10; deadliest Paris fire since ‘05

PARIS — Paris’ deadliest fire in over a decade killed at least 10 people Tuesday as flames engulfed a nine-story apartment building, sending residents to the roof and clambering across balconies to escape.

A 40-year-old woman who lived in the building, said to have a history of psychiatric problems, was arrested nearby and held on suspicion of having set the fire not long before. French police opened a criminal investigation for voluntary arson resulting in death.

Multiple neighbors said they heard the suspect and her neighbor, an off-duty firefighter, arguing over the woman’s music before the fire broke out.

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Police responding to the dispute stopped by the woman’s apartment. The firefighter and his girlfriend told officers they were leaving to sleep elsewhere in peace and thought the neighbor had lost her mind and one day there would be an accident because of her, according to a police report seen by The Associated Press.

By wire sources