A look at North Carolina’s law on restrooms, discrimination
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s new law limiting discrimination claims was approved in a special legislative session and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory later the same day to prevent a Charlotte City Council anti-discrimination ordinance from taking effect this Friday.
The measure goes well beyond stopping transgender people from using bathrooms matching their new gender identities, which McCrory called a “radical breach of trust and security.” Here are more details about the law, which is now being challenged in federal court.
The law blocked a range of protections from taking effect in the state’s largest city. Charlotte’s ordinance would have covered gays and lesbians as well as bisexual and transgender people when they try to check into hotels, eat in restaurants or hail cabs; it also added marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the city’s list of protected characteristics in public accommodations and commercial businesses.
Trump stumbling in Wisconsin as forces coalesce against him
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Next Tuesday’s Wisconsin presidential primary is emerging as a crucial lifeline for Republicans desperate to stop Donald Trump’s march to their party’s nomination. One of his worst weeks of the 2016 campaign is colliding with a state already skeptical of his brash brand of politics.
A big loss for Trump in Wisconsin would greatly reduce his chances of securing the delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination before next July’s national convention. It could also offer new hope to rival Ted Cruz and outside groups that see Trump as a threat to the future of the Republican Party.
“I think the whole country is looking to Wisconsin right now to make a choice in this race, and I think the choice Wisconsin makes is going to have repercussions for a long time to come,” Cruz said Thursday in an interview with Milwaukee radio station WTMJ.
Trump’s view is rosier for his own campaign: “If we win Wisconsin, it’s pretty much over.”
But almost nothing has gone right for him since Wisconsin stepped into the primary spotlight.
Trump’s abortion flub shows risks of ‘winging it’ on policy
APPLETON, Wis. (AP) — It was a question sure to come up at some point in the Republican primary campaign.
“What should the law be on abortion?” asked MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to Donald Trump at a town hall event in Wisconsin.
“Should the woman be punished for having an abortion?” Matthews pressed. “This is not something you can dodge.”
Trump’s bungled response — an awkward, extended attempt to evade the question, followed by an answer that, yes, “there has to be some form of punishment” — prompted a backlash that managed to unite abortion rights activists and opponents. And it also brought an unprecedented reversal from the notoriously unapologetic candidate less than a week before Wisconsin’s important primary.
The episode demonstrated the extent to which Trump has glossed over the rigorous policy preparation that is fundamental to most presidential campaigns, underscoring the risks of the billionaire businessman’s winging-it approach as he inches closer to the Republican nomination.
Kasich pitches himself as a sturdy alternative to GOP rivals
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Often an afterthought in the chaotic GOP presidential contest, John Kasich is soldiering on with the belief that he can convince hundreds of delegates to swing his way at a contested summer convention by warning that the alternative could be detrimental to the party and the country.
Kasich’s fight to win the GOP nomination remains feasible only if Donald Trump enters the convention in Cleveland without the number of delegates required to secure the nomination outright. Even then, Kasich will need delegates friendly to his cause to set convention rules that allow him to compete. His team has brought on experienced delegate hunters and national strategists in recent weeks to help navigate the complicated math of state-by-state delegate rules to boost his chances at the convention.
It’s a tall task for a candidate who has won just one state and struggled to raise money, but Kasich is striking a defiant tone about his plans to stay in the race.
“People say, ‘Why does he stay in the race?’ What, am I, supposed to get out and leave it to these guys?” Kasich said Wednesday on ABC’s Good Morning America, referencing Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
To lead its delegate hunting efforts, Kasich’s campaign has tapped New Hampshire-based operative Michael Biundo, who ran Rick Santorum’s 2012 campaign and previously advised Rand Paul. Biundo has been working to build a 50-state delegate strategy aimed at convincing delegates — many of whom are longtime party leaders or elected officials — that Kasich is the most electable Republican. A slew of recent preference polls back up the argument that he’s far more likely to defeat Clinton than Trump or Cruz.
Obama, Xi vow to narrow differences, work closely on NKorea
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged Thursday to cooperate to confront the North Korean nuclear threat while working to narrow persistent differences over cybersecurity, human rights and maritime conflicts.
Obama, opening a global nuclear security summit near the White House, also joined leaders of Japan and South Korea in calling for further joint steps to deter North Korea. The display of diplomatic unity came as world leaders sought to ramp up pressure on the insular country’s government following worrisome nuclear provocations.
“President Xi and I are both committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Obama said as he and Xi sat down for a meeting on the sidelines of the summit. “We’re going to discuss how we can discourage actions like nuclear missile tests that escalate tensions and violate international obligations.”
The U.S. has long urged China, the North’s traditional ally, to take a more forceful role in pressing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. The Obama administration was encouraged by China’s role in passing new stringent U.N. sanctions punishing the North, and was urging Beijing to implement those sanctions dutifully.
Yet in a nod to deep tensions between the U.S. and China, Obama said he planned to raise thornier issues during their meeting as well — including the disputed South China Sea, where China is asserting territorial claims despite competing claims by its neighbors. Parroting careful diplomatic language long-preferred by Beijing, Obama said the U.S. welcomes China’s peaceful rise to prosperity.
Police: Suspect in bus station shooting dead; 3 others hurt
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A gunman shot a Virginia state trooper Thursday at a busy bus terminal in the capital city of Richmond before he was shot dead by two other troopers, police said. Two civilians were hurt, though it was not clear if they had been shot.
The trooper’s injuries were life-threatening, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller. The two civilians were expected to survive. Initially, State Police had said in a news release that two troopers were taken to a hospital, but Geller later told reporters that only one had been hurt.
Broadcast images showed numerous police cars and heavily armed officers at the scene.
Brendan Hamilton told The Richmond Times-Dispatch he was about to walk into the station when he heard two loud bangs, then saw flashes of light. He told the newspaper he then heard at least five more bangs. People then started to run out of the building, said Hamilton, 28, who was visiting from Baltimore.
Vincent Smith was working next door to the Greyhound station when he heard sirens and saw police cars buzzing by.
Violent times encourage a step to the right in some nations
BRUSSELS (AP) — The Brussels attacks have given a boost to the far right in Belgium and beyond, and their anti-Islam language is finding a special resonance after another bloodbath by Islamic State extremists.
Just as the Paris attacks that killed 130 people in November reinvigorated the right-wing National Front in regional elections, last week’s bombings in the Belgian capital have given radical-right leader Filip Dewinter’s Flemish Interest party fresh impetus to re-ignite his group’s flagging fortunes.
Even in the Netherlands, where one arrest was made linked to a possible future attack this week, fire-brand politician Geert Wilders is using the latest bombings to boost his popularity.
It’s the result of a potent mix of fear, foreign enemy and a failing security system that has been unable to stop one attack after another. “These events are fuel to the fire of every radical right-wing party in Europe,” said Professor Dave Sinardet of Brussels University.
Extremist groups have also used the attacks to boost their venomous brand.
AP PHOTOS: European navy ship rescues migrants off Libya
ABOARD A GERMAN NAVY VESSEL (AP) — The surge of migrants arriving in Greece on small boats from nearby Turkey made headlines last year, prompting countries to try to shut down that route into Europe. Now concerns are growing that people trying to reach Europe may return to the longer and more dangerous crossing from North Africa to Italy.
On Tuesday, a German naval vessel picked up more than 100 people crammed into an inflatable boat that had been launched from the shore of Libya nine hours earlier.
Completely overloaded and reeking of spilled gasoline, the dinghy was met by German sailors and Finnish special forces serving on the German combat support ship Frankfurt am Main. The vast ship is part of the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean, also known as Operation Sophia.
Once on board the migrants were registered, checked for weapons and given a medical examination. They were given food, water, a blanket, change of clothes and a blue German navy hat to help protect them from the Mediterranean sun.
Two hours after being picked up, the migrants — 78 men, 24 women and three children from Nigeria, Ghana and Mali — were transferred to the Italian navy frigate Grecale to be taken to Sicily.
After 7 hurt in Oklahoma tornado, stormy weather slams South
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Thunderstorms rumbled across parts of the South on Thursday, bringing the threat of possible tornadoes, a day after at least seven people were injured when severe storms spawned multiple tornado touchdowns in northeastern Oklahoma.
Hail and damaging winds were moving across the lower Mississippi River Valley, and the National Weather Service said the heavy rain may produce flash flooding in some areas.
The weather service’s Storm Prediction Center said the worst threat of tornadoes and large hail was in northern Mississippi and Alabama, along with parts of Tennessee and southern Kentucky. Forecasters say more than 8 million people will be at an “enhanced” risk of severe weather in parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.
The National Weather Service says it will investigate storm damage in Lamar County, Mississippi, that may have been caused by a tornado Thursday morning. Meteorologist Joanne Culin in Jackson said trees were down in two areas of Purvis and one crashed into a house. There were no reports of injuries.
Heavy rain in the Mississippi Delta caused some widespread flooding. Sunflower County Emergency Manager Ben Grant said about two dozen homes in Moorhead were evacuated.
Innovative Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid dies at 65
LONDON (AP) — Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, whose modernist, futuristic designs included the swooping aquatic center for the 2012 London Olympics, has died at age 65. She leaves a string of bold, often beautiful and sometimes controversial buildings around the world.
Hadid’s firm said she died Thursday in a Miami hospital. She had contracted bronchitis earlier this week and had a heart attack while being treated.
In London, where she lived and worked, Mayor Boris Johnson tweeted that “she was an inspiration and her legacy lives on in wonderful buildings” at the Olympic park and around the world.
Born and raised in Baghdad, Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before enrolling at the Architectural Association in London in 1972.
She worked for the groundbreaking Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas before setting up London-based Zaha Hadid Architects in 1979.
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