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AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EST

Gunman kills 5 at Milwaukee brewery before taking own life

MILWAUKEE (AP) — An employee opened fire Wednesday at one of the nation’s largest breweries in Milwaukee, killing five fellow workers before taking his own life, police said.

The assailant who attacked the Molson Coors complex was identified as a 51-year-old Milwaukee man who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

“There were five individuals who went to work today, just like everybody goes to work, and they thought they were going to go to work, finish their day and return to their families. They didn’t — and tragically they never will,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Authorities offered no immediate motive for the attack and did not release details about the shooter or how the shooting unfolded.

None of the victims was identified. Police, who were still contacting relatives, said identities would not be released for at least 24 hours. No one was wounded beyond those who were killed, authorities said.

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Hardest-hit China, South Korea count 767 new virus cases

BEIJING (AP) — South Korea and China each reported hundreds more virus cases Thursday as the new illness persists in the worst-hit areas and spreads beyond borders.

South Korea reported 334 more cases, bringing its total to 1,595. Most of the new cases were in the country’s fourth-biggest city, Daegu, where the outbreak has hit hardest and the national government has mobilized public health tools to assist the region’s overwhelmed medical system.

But there are signs the virus is spreading further in South Korea with 55 cases reported so far in the capital, Seoul, and 58 in the second-largest city, Busan. The country also confirmed its 13th death Thursday, with most still in and near Daegu.

China reported 433 new cases along with 29 additional deaths. Thursday’s updates bring mainland China’s totals to 78,497 cases, and 2,744 deaths.

Of the new cases, 383 were in the epicenter of the city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December. Wuhan also accounted for 19 of the new deaths.

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Trump urges calm even as US reports worrisome new virus case

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that a widespread U.S. outbreak of the new respiratory virus sweeping the globe isn’t inevitable even as top health authorities at his side warned Americans that more infections are coming.

Shortly after Trump spoke, the government announced a worrisome development: Another person in the U.S. is infected — someone in California who doesn’t appear to have the usual risk factors of having travelled abroad or being exposed to another patient.

At a White House news conference, Trump sought to minimize fears as he insisted the U.S. is “very, very ready” for whatever the COVID-19 outbreak brings. Under fire about the government’s response, he put Vice-President Mike Pence in charge of co-ordinating the efforts.

“This will end,” Trump said of the outbreak. “You don’t want to see panic because there’s no reason to be panicked.”

But standing next to him, the very health officials Trump praised for fighting the new coronavirus stressed that schools, businesses and individuals need to get ready.

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Buttigieg aides say path beyond March 3 possible but tricky

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is bracing his supporters for a difficult stretch, with the sobering assertion that front-runner Bernie Sanders will likely emerge from next week’s Super Tuesday contests well ahead in the race for delegates.

The disclosure, made in a strategy memo sent to supporters, comes as the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor prepares for the uncertainty of Saturday’s South Carolina primary. After strong finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Buttigieg is working to beat expectations in South Carolina, where his pull among African American voters will be tested, while keeping up the fundraising stream that launched him into the top tier.

Despite the challenging stretch leading up to Super Tuesday, there remains a path to the nomination for Buttigieg, his campaign strategists say, though one marked by assumptions about the rest of the field and the candidate’s own performance over the next six critical days.

“The question is, Can he keep the balloon in the air?” said David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. “So, I think there’s a lot at stake here. This was always going to be the toughest part of the competition for him.”

Punctuating his challenge, Buttigieg cancelled a round of morning television appearances in South Carolina on Wednesday and scrubbed a day of Florida fundraising events from his schedule after falling ill with what aides described as flu-like symptoms, the result of a near-nonstop campaign schedule over the past two months.

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Court sides with Trump in ‘sanctuary cities’ grant fight

NEW YORK (AP) — The Trump administration can withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement grants to force states to co-operate with U.S. immigration enforcement, a federal appeals court in New York ruled Wednesday in a decision that conflicted with three other federal appeals courts.

The ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan overturned a lower court’s decision ordering the administration to release funding to New York City and seven states — New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Virginia and Rhode Island.

The states and city sued the U.S. government after the Justice Department announced in 2017 that it would withhold grant money from cities and states until they gave federal immigration authorities access to jails and provide advance notice when someone in the country illegally is about to be released.

Before the change, cities and states seeking grant money were required only to show they were not preventing local law enforcement from communicating with federal authorities about the immigration status of people who were detained.

At the time, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: “So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes.”

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Lawyers: New evidence backs Loughlin, Giannulli’s innocence

BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, said Wednesday that new evidence shows the couple is innocent of charges that they bribed their daughters’ way into the University of Southern California.

An attorney for the couple said in a legal filing that prosecutors provided the defence with notes written by the admitted ringleader of the college admissions cheating scheme that support the couple’s claim that they believed their payments were legitimate donations, not bribes.

“This belated discovery … is devastating to the government’s case and demonstrates that the government has been improperly withholding core exculpatory information, employing a ‘win at all costs’ effort rather than following their obligation to do justice,” attorney Sean Berkowtiz wrote.

The filing came on the eve of a status hearing in the case scheduled for Thursday at Boston’s federal court in the sweeping college admissions bribery case. It was expected that the judge would set a trial date for the parents still fighting the charges at that hearing.

Now, the couple’s attorneys are asking the judge to postpone the setting of the trial date in light of the new evidence, saying “it is the only fair way to protect the defendants’ rights.”

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Trump campaign sues NY Times for defamation over Putin

NEW YORK (AP) — The campaign to reelect President Donald Trump sued The New York Times for defamation Wednesday, saying it was responsible for an essay by a former executive editor for the newspaper that claimed the campaign made a deal with Russian officials to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

In the lawsuit in state court in New York, Donald J. Trump for President Inc. said the newspaper knowingly published false and defamatory statements when the Op-Ed piece claimed the campaign had an “overarching deal” with “Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy” to defeat the Democratic candidate.

The lawsuit blamed the newspaper for the essay, saying the March 2019 article headlined “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo,” by Max Frankel, said the deal called for “the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy.”

Frankel was executive editor of the Times from 1986 to 1994.

The lawsuit said Times reporters had confirmed the falsity of the statements, but the newspaper published them anyway because of its “extreme bias against and animosity toward the Campaign, and The Times’ exuberance to improperly influence the presidential election in November 2020.”

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Pope observes usual Ash Wednesday customs in time of virus

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis celebrated the Ash Wednesday ritual that marks the opening of the Catholic Church’s Lenten season in traditional fashion while greeting the public in Rome as other Masses were cancelled in northern Italy over fears of the coronavirus outbreak.

Francis and a long line of priests, bishops and cardinals walked in a procession through Rome’s Aventine hill into the 5th-century Santa Sabina basilica for a late-afternoon Mass. Neither the priests nor the faithful wore face masks, but Rome has largely been spared the virus as Italy’s national case count grew to more than 440.

Other Catholic countries took Ash Wednesday precautions. In the Philippines — Asia’s only majority Roman Catholic country — priests sprinkled ashes on the heads of the faithful rather than making the mark of the cross on their foreheads to avoid physical contact.

“Wherever the ash is placed, on the forehead or on the head, the feeling is the same, it’s uplifting,” Editha Lorenzo, a 49-year-old mother of two wearing a face mask, told The Associated Press in Manila.

At the Vatican, Francis held his general audience as usual in St. Peter’s Square and offered prayers to people sickened by the virus and the medical personnel treating them. In the crowd of thousands, a handful had masks on their faces.

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Mom of missing kids waives extradition; bail stays at $5M

HONOLULU (AP) — Bail will remain at $5 million for a mother arrested in Hawaii over the disappearance of her two Idaho children, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Lori Vallow wore an orange jumpsuit in court on the Hawaiian island of Kauai for a hearing on her request to reduce bail. After the judge denied the request, her defence attorney, Craig De Costa, said she is waiving an extradition hearing, which had been scheduled for March 2.

She wants to expedite her return to Idaho, De Costa said. Kauai Prosecutor Justin Kollar said he will work with Idaho authorities on logistics for her departure. The judge set a March 4 status hearing to make sure she has been picked up.

Kauai police arrested Vallow last week on an Idaho warrant. She has been charged with two felony counts of child abandonment.

Seven-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan have not been seen since September. Their disappearance captured worldwide attention after authorities pleaded for help in finding them. Police in the city of Rexburg, Idaho, have said they “strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives are in danger.”

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Hockey coach moved from job to job, despite sex allegations

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Tony Kellin remembers an assistant hockey coach at the University of Minnesota approaching him in the locker room during the 1984-85 season and saying he knew a woman who would perform oral sex on Kellin, but only if Kellin would be blindfolded with his hands tied.

A junior defenceman at the time, Kellin said he told coach Thomas “Chico” Adrahtas: “That ain’t gonna happen.” Kellin came to believe Adrahtas was the one who would be performing the proposed sex act — and that some underclassmen were victims of his scheme. He said he reported his suspicions to the athletic director, and Adrahtas was soon gone.

But in 2012, Kellin learned Adrahtas was still coaching. A revered coach who took teams to championships, Adrahtas had bounced around several hockey programs in the Chicago area, landing at Robert Morris University in 2008. Despite a 2010 decision by the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois to suspend Adrahtas from its programs and a 2012 report to police by Kellin, Adrahtas did not leave Robert Morris until November 2018. For Kellin, Adrahtas’ ability to move easily from job to job after the accusations were reported raises questions.

“In my opinion, they dropped the ball,” Kellin told The Associated Press on Tuesday, a day after the University of Minnesota announced that it is investigating the allegations. “I’m disgusted that he was allowed to keep doing it. He’s a predator. He’s a creep.”

The allegations were first reported by The Athletic, which quoted several firsthand accounts by young men who said they were victimized. Adrahtas, 64, did not immediately respond to messages left by the AP at a cellphone number believed to be his. He denied to The Athletic that he had ever sexually abused anyone.

The Associated Press