AP News in Brief 02-17-19

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers her speech during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Merkel defends Iran deal, multilateralism but Pence resists

MUNICH — German Chancellor Angela Merkel drew lengthy applause Saturday for her spirited defense of a multilateral approach to global affairs and support for Europe’s decision to stand by a nuclear deal with Iran.

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was not among the impressed, however, and he doubled down on American criticism of Europe.

Merkel’s comments at the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of world leaders and top global defense and foreign policy officials, followed days of acrimony between the U.S. and Europe over Iran.

Merkel told the group — which included the largest U.S. delegation ever with dozens of members of Congress, Ivanka Trump, Pence and others — that she shared American concerns about many Iranian efforts to increase its power in the region.

But while she said the split with the U.S. over Iran’s nuclear agreement “depresses me very much,” she defended it as an important channel to Tehran, stressing the need for international diplomacy.

Police: Aurora attacker used gun he shouldn’t have owned

AURORA, Ill. — The man who opened fire and killed five co-workers at a suburban Chicago manufacturing plant took a gun he wasn’t allowed to have to a job he must have known he was about to lose.

Right after learning Friday that he was being fired from his job of 15 years at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Gary Martin pulled out a gun and began shooting, killing the three people in the room with him and two others just outside and wounding a sixth employee before officers began arriving, drawing his attention their way, police said Saturday at a news conference in the city of about 200,000 people roughly 40 miles west of Chicago.

Martin shot and wounded five of the first officers to get to the scene, including one who didn’t even make inside the sprawling warehouse. After that flurry of shots and with officers from throughout the region streaming in to help, he ran off and hid in the back of the building, where officers found him about an hour later and killed him during an exchange of gunfire, police said.

“He was probably waiting for us to get to him there,” Aurora police Lt. Rick Robertson said. “It was just a very short gunfight and it was over, so he was basically in the back waiting for us and fired upon us and our officers fired.”

Like in many of the country’s mass shootings, Friday’s attack was carried out by a man with a violent criminal history who was armed with a gun he wasn’t allowed to have.

Potential privacy lapse found in Americans’ 2010 census data

WASHINGTON — An internal team at the Census Bureau found that basic personal information collected from more than 100 million Americans during the 2010 head count could be reconstructed from obscured data, but with lots of mistakes, a top agency official disclosed Saturday.

The age, gender, location, race and ethnicity for 138 million people were potentially vulnerable. So far, however, only internal hacking teams have discovered such details at possible risk, and no outside groups are known to have grabbed data intended to remain private for 72 years, chief scientist John Abowd told a scientific conference.

The Census Bureau is now scrapping its old data shielding technique for a state-of-the-art method that Abowd claimed is far better than Google’s or Apple’s.

Some former agency chiefs fear the potential privacy problem will add to the worries that people will avoid answering or lie on the once-every-10-year survey because of the Trump administration’s attempt to add a much-debated citizenship question.

The Supreme Court on Friday announced that it would rule on that proposed question, which has been criticized for being political and not properly tested in the field. The census count is hugely important, helping with the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives and distribution of billions of dollars in federal money.

Vatican defrocks former US cardinal McCarrick for sex abuse

VATICAN CITY — Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been found guilty by the Vatican of sex abuse and defrocked, as calls rose Saturday for Pope Francis to reveal what he knew about the once-powerful American prelate’s apparently decades-long predatory sexual behavior.

The announcement Saturday, delivered in uncharacteristically blunt language for the Vatican, meant that the 88-year-old McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., becomes the highest-ranking churchman and the first cardinal to be punished by dismissal from the clerical state, or laicization.

He was notified Friday of the decision, which was upheld upon his appeal and approved by Pope Francis.

The pontiff next week leads a summit of bishops from around the world who have been summoned to Rome help him grapple with the entrenched problems of clerical sex abuse and the systematic cover-ups by the Catholic church’s hierarchy.

From wire sources

Decades of revelations about priests who have sexually preyed on minors and their bosses who shuffled abusive clergy from parish to parish instead of removing them from access to children have shaken the faith of many Catholics. They also threaten the moral authority of Francis and even the survival of his papacy.

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Storm-lashed South Carolina reassesses global warming’s role

COLUMBIA, S.C. — When he took the job 15 years ago, Horry County Emergency Manager Randy Webster figured his biggest disasters would be wind and surge rolling over his county’s beaches, South Carolina’s top tourist destination.

Instead, his worries have shifted inland, where rivers overflowing their banks have caused two massive floods in three years.

“We’re getting into this sort of unknown territory,” Webster said. “We typically in emergency management have some point of reference to work with. Two floods like this — it’s unheard of.”

Scientists say the Earth’s warming climate means more heavy rainfall over short periods of time, and that translates to larger, more ferocious storms on the scale of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey in Texas or 2018’s Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas. Florence dumped six months’ worth of rain on the Carolinas in the course of just a few days.

The growing realization that such events are going to become more common as the result of global warming is forcing Webster and other state officials to revisit how they prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

Tear gas, hate speech marks 14th yellow vest protest

PARIS — Police fired tear gas and brought in water cannons and a horse brigade to disperse several thousand yellow vest protesters Saturday massed near a Paris landmark at the end of a march through the French capital, the 14th straight weekend of demonstrations.

Anti-Semitic remarks hurled by a few at a noted philosopher on the protesters’ route were the bitter finale to a day of tension.

Acrid clouds of tear gas filled the esplanade of Les Invalides monument, obscuring the gold dome that crowns the monument housing Napoleon’s tomb.

Tension also marked demonstrations in other cities.

In Rouen, in Normandy, a car blocked by demonstrators pushed through the crowd, slightly injuring four people, the all-news channel BFMTV reported. Police used tear gas and water cannon in Bordeaux, a stronghold of the yellow vest movement, and other cities on the 14th straight Saturday of protests. Another demonstration in the capital was planned for Sunday to mark three months since the movement held its first nationwide protests Nov. 17.

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Nadav Lapid’s ‘Synonyms’ wins top prize at Berlin Film Fest

BERLIN — Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s “Synonyms,” a movie about a young Israeli man who uproots himself to France and is determined to put his homeland behind him, won the Berlin International Film Festival’s top Golden Bear award on Saturday.

A jury headed by French actress Juliette Binoche chose the movie from a field of 16 competing at the first of the year’s major European film festivals. Set in Paris, it stars Tom Mercier in the role of Yoav, who refuses to speak Hebrew and is accompanied by an ever-present French dictionary as he tries to put down roots and create a new identity for himself.

Lapid said as he accepted the award that some in Israel might be “scandalized” by the movie “but for me, the film is also a big celebration — a celebration, I hope, also of cinema.”

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“I hope that people will understand that fury and rage and hostility and hate … are only the twin brothers and sisters of strong attachment and powerful emotions,” he said.

The festival’s best actor and best actress awards went to Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei, respectively, for their roles as a couple who lose their son in director Wang Xiaoshuai’s “So Long, My Son.” The three-hour Chinese family saga spans three decades of history from the 1980s to the present, portraying a society in constant change.

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