AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

By The Associated Press

One of Silicon Valley’s top banks fails; assets are seized

NEW YORK (AP) — Regulators rushed Friday to seize the assets of one of Silicon Valley’s top banks, marking the largest failure of a U.S. financial institution since the height of the financial crisis almost 15 years ago.

Silicon Valley Bank, the nation’s 16th-largest bank, failed after depositors hurried to withdraw money this week amid anxiety over the bank’s health. It was the second biggest bank failure in U.S. history after the collapse of Washington Mutual in 2008.

The bank served mostly technology workers and venture capital-backed companies, including some of the industry’s best-known brands.

“This is an extinction-level event for startups,” said Garry Tan, CEO of Y Combinator, a startup incubator that launched Airbnb, DoorDash and Dropbox and has referred hundreds of entrepreneurs to the bank.

“I literally have been hearing from hundreds of our founders asking for help on how they can get through this. They are asking, ‘Do I have to furlough my workers?’”


Why would Russia use hypersonic missile to strike Ukraine?

The latest Russian missile barrage against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure has marked one of the largest such attacks in months.

On Thursday, Russia fired over 80 missiles in a massive effort to overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses and cripple the country’s energy system.

Russia has been regularly launching similar strikes since October in a bid to demoralize the population and force the Ukrainian government to bow to the Kremlin’s demands.

Thursday’s strikes differed from earlier attacks, though, by including a larger number of sophisticated hypersonic missiles that are the most advanced weapons in the Russian arsenal. But just like previous such barrages it has failed to cause lasting damage to the country’s energy network, with repair crews quickly restoring power supplies to most regions.

Here is a look at the latest Russian missile attack and the weapons involved.


3 women missing in Mexico after crossing from Texas on trip

PEÑITAS, Texas (AP) — Two sisters from Texas and a friend are missing in Mexico after they crossed the border last month to sell clothes at a flea market, U.S. authorities said Friday.

The abduction of four Americans in Mexico that was caught on video last week received an avalanche of attention and was resolved in a matter of days. But the fate of the three women, who haven’t been heard from in about two weeks, remains a mystery and has garnered relatively little publicity.

The FBI said Friday it is aware that two sisters from Peñitas, a small border city in Texas near McAllen, and their friend have gone missing. Peñitas Police Chief Roel Bermea said their families have been in touch with Mexican authorities, who are investigating their disappearance.

Beyond that, officials in the U.S. and Mexico haven’t said much about their pursuit of Maritza Trinidad Perez Rios, 47; Marina Perez Rios, 48; and their friend, Dora Alicia Cervantes Saenz, 53.

The episode stands in stark contrast to the government and media frenzy over the abduction of four Americans on a road trip to Mexico for plastic surgery. They were caught in a drug cartel shootout in the border city of Matamoros, and video showed them being hauled off in a pickup truck. The two survivors were found Tuesday in a wooden shack near the Gulf coast.


Oregon closer to magic mushroom therapy, but has setback

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon was taking a major step Friday in its pioneering of legalized psilocybin therapy with the graduation of the first students trained in accompanying patients tripping on psychedelic mushrooms, although a company’s bankruptcy has left another group on the same path adrift.

The graduation ceremony for 35 students was being held Friday evening by InnerTrek, a Portland firm, at a woodsy retreat center. About 70 more will graduate on Saturday and Sunday in ceremonies in which they will pledge to do no harm.

“Facilitator training is at the heart of the nation’s first statewide psilocybin therapy and wellness program and is core to the success of the Oregon model we’re pioneering here,” said Tom Eckert, program director at InnerTrek and architect of the 2020 ballot measure that legalized Oregon’s program.

The students must pass a final exam to receive InnerTrek certificates. They then take a test administered by the Oregon Health Authority to receive their facilitator licenses.

“The graduation of the first cohort of students from approved psilocybin facilitator training programs is a significant milestone for Oregon,” said Angie Allbee, manager of the state health authority’s psilocybin services section. “We congratulate Oregon’s future facilitators and the training programs they are graduating from on this incredible and historic moment in psilocybin history.”


China names Li Qiang premier nominally in charge of economy

BEIJING (AP) — China on Saturday named Li Qiang, a close confidant of top leader Xi Jinping, as the country’s next premier nominally in charge of the world’s second-largest economy now facing some of its worst prospects in years.

Li was nominated by Xi and appointed to the position at Saturday morning’s session of the National People’s Congress, China’s ceremonial parliament. That came a day after Xi, 69, secured a norms-breaking third five-year term as state leader, setting him up to possibly rule for life.

Li is best known for having enforced a brutal “zero-COVID” lockdown on Shanghai last spring as party boss of the Chinese financial hub, proving his loyalty to Xi in the face of complaints from residents over their lack of access to food, medical care and basic services.

Li, 63, came to know Xi during the future president’s term as head of Li’s native Zhejiang, a relatively wealthy southeastern province now known as a technology and manufacturing powerhouse.

Prior to the pandemic, Li built up a reputation in Shanghai and Zhejiang before that as friendly to private industry, even as Xi enforced tighter political controls and anti-COVID curbs, as well as more control over e-commerce and other tech companies.


DeSantis visits Iowa as interest in likely Trump rival rises

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Ahead of a widely expected presidential campaign, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced himself to eager audiences of Iowa Republicans on Friday with a message that leaned into the antagonism toward the left that has made him a popular figure among conservatives.

“We will never surrender to the woke mob,” DeSantis told an audience of more than 1,000 at the Rhythm City Casino Resort in the eastern Iowa city of Davenport, his first Iowa stop as he moves toward seeking the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. “Our state is where woke goes to die.”

With the Iowa caucuses less than a year away, Republicans in the state are taking a harder look at DeSantis, who is emerging as a leading rival to Donald Trump. The former president, who is mounting his third bid for the White House, will be in Davenport on Monday as early signs warn that some Republicans may be looking for someone else to lead the party into the future.

Trump mocked DeSantis’ trip on social media, asking “why would people show up?”

And White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took issue with the Florida governor’s threatening language that criticized young transgender people and their parents.


Ex-intern sues Idaho lawmakers for harassing her after rape

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A former Idaho legislative intern is suing a lawmaker who was convicted of raping her and one of his colleagues for publicly releasing the teen’s identity and launching a campaign of harassment against her.

The young woman, who uses the pseudonym “Jane Doe” in the federal lawsuit, was just 19 when she reported that then-Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger raped her at his apartment after the two had dinner at a Boise restaurant in March 2021. The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted.

In the lawsuit, Doe says von Ehlinger and then Rep. Priscilla Giddings, both Republicans, retaliated by publicly releasing her name, encouraging media outlets to publicize it, and lying about her. She is seeking unspecified monetary damages, according to her lawsuit.

“Because of the release of Ms. Doe’s identity, Ms. Doe has continually suffered public humiliation and harassment on social media and at public events,” Doe’s attorneys, Erika Birch and Guy Hallam, wrote in the lawsuit.

Giddings did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is not clear if von Ehlinger has an attorney to represent him in the lawsuit; his criminal public defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


The New York hush-money probe of Donald Trump explained

NEW YORK (AP) — In the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump’s lawyer tried to buy the silence of a porn actress who said she had a sexual encounter with the Republican during his days as a reality TV star.

More than six years later, New York prosecutors appear to be close to deciding whether Trump should face charges in connection with that payoff, in what could become the first criminal case ever brought against a former president.

Thursday’s news that the Manhattan district attorney invited Trump to testify before a grand jury next week suggested prosecutors were serious about bringing charges in a probe that looked like yesterday’s news just a few months ago.

Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, now a key prosecution witness, is scheduled to testify before the grand jury on Monday, according to two people familiar with the matter. The people were not authorized to speak publicly about grand jury proceedings and did so on condition of anonymity.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and that he had any extramarital affairs, and he blasted the probe in a Truth Social post as a “political Witch-Hunt, trying to take down the leading candidate, by far, in the Republican Party”


9th grader sues over Pledge of Allegiance confrontation

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The parents of a ninth grade South Carolina student who said she was accosted by a teacher for walking to class instead of stopping and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance are suing the teacher, principal, school district and state education officials.

Marissa Barnwell said she was walking quietly to class and decided not to stop for the pledge or a moment of silence that followed. A teacher yelled at her, confronted her and pushed her against a wall.

Barnwell was then sent to the principal’s office, which she said was humiliating because she feared she was in trouble. The principal sent her back to class, but Barnwell said he never let her know that the teacher was wrong and she was right.

“I was completely and utterly disrespected,” Barnwell, 15, said at a news conference Thursday, according to The State newspaper. “No one has apologized, no one has acknowledged my hurt. … The fact that the school is defending that kind of behavior is unimaginable.”

Barnwell’s parents are suing the River Bluff High School teacher, the principal, Lexington School District 1, and the South Carolina Education Department in federal court, saying they violated the girl’s civil rights and her First Amendment rights to both free speech or not to speak at all.


The view from above the Oscars: The slap, the snafu, Spike

LOS ANGELES (AP) — I was the man in the box at the Oscars for The Associated Press.

I would stand in an opera-style balcony near the stage at the Dolby Theatre that provides a great view of the show but an even better view of the audience. I’d peer down with binoculars to provide what journalists call “color,” sprinkled into our stories as we seek to give readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse.

Hours before the telecast, an academy official with a black-belt-level credential would take me on a labyrinthine walk down hallways, through black curtains and over velvet ropes, past the Foot Locker and Sephora that make parts of the complex indistinguishable from a suburban mall, and into the box that I shared with the show’s technical crew members.

This year, the ceremony’s logistical layout will force me to work outside the box: in the media room, with the rest of the Oscars press corps. The food will be better than the nothing I normally get, but I’ll miss the box — where else could I have seen the following moments?


The Associated Press

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