AP News in Brief at 9:04 p.m. EST




Police: Shooting of Southwest Airlines employee was planned

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A gunman lay in wait outside Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport on Tuesday before shooting and killing a Southwest Airlines employee in a premeditated attack that occurred while hundreds of people waited for flights nearby, police said.

Michael Winchester, 52, was shot while walking between a crowded terminal and the airport employee parking area. The unidentified suspect was later found dead in a pickup truck in public parking garage overlooking the scene. Police said the suspect appeared to die of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Paco Balderrama said the shooter apparently knew the victim's schedule and routine.

"This individual went there and waited for the employee to either be coming or going to take this opportunity," Balderrama said. He wouldn't say conclusively that it was a "sniper-type" attack.

The 1 p.m. shooting set off a scramble at the airport, with police immediately closing the sprawling complex and asking passengers inside to seek cover.

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Mayor in West Virginia resigns after racist Obama post

CLAY, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia mayor resigned Tuesday following a backlash after she posted a response to a racist comment about first lady Michelle Obama on Facebook.

The Clay Town Council accepted Mayor Beverly Whaling's resignation in a meeting late Tuesday afternoon and said it would act quickly to name a replacement for the remaining three years of her term.

The resignation came after another woman whose racist post Whaling responded to was placed on leave as director of the Clay County Development Corp.

Council member Jason Hubbard issued a brief statement condemning the "horrible and indecent" post and said racism and intolerance "isn't what this community is about." He apologized on behalf of the town to Michelle Obama and anyone who was offended.

"This community is a helpful, hopeful, empathetic and God-loving community," Hubbard said. "Please don't judge the entire community for one or two individual acts."

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Amid signs of transition trouble, Trump huddles with Pence

NEW YORK (AP) — Hidden from the public in his Manhattan high-rise, Donald Trump huddled Tuesday with Vice President-elect Mike Pence as he tried to fill out key posts in his Cabinet. But the transition team appeared to be straining under the enormous challenge of setting up a new administration.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers, a respected Republican voice on national security issues, announced he was quitting the transition effort. And an apparent clerical oversight effectively halted the Trump team's ability to coordinate with President Barack Obama's White House.

With Trump out of sight for several days, his allies engaged in an unusual round of public speculation about his potential appointments — including their own futures — as the president-elect and his aides weighed the nation's top national security posts.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani seemed to be angling for secretary of state. But Trump's transition team was reviewing Giuliani's paid consulting work for foreign governments, which could delay a nomination or bump Giuliani to a different position, according to a person briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly about it.

Giuliani founded his own firm, Giuliani Partners, in 2001, and helped businesses on behalf of foreign governments, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. He also advised TransCanada, which sought to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and helped the maker of the painkiller drug OxyContin settle a dispute with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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5 Utah students stabbed in boy's locker room; teen detained

OREM, Utah (AP) — As a group of boys at a Utah high school changed Tuesday morning into gym clothes for physical education class, a straight-A student pulled out a knife in the locker room and stabbed five of his classmates, sending the injured running for their lives and covered in blood, police said.

The 16-year-old suspect with no record of disciplinary trouble also stabbed himself in the neck and was cornered by school workers until a police officer assigned to Mountain View High School got to the locker room and subdued him with a Taser shot.

The five victims are all expected to survive, hospital officials said Tuesday afternoon. The two most seriously injured were in critical but stable condition, according to Utah Valley Hospital.

The suspect was treated and released following the attack that spread fear and panic among students who described a gruesome scene immediately after the stabbings.

Orem police posted a letter online they said was from the parents of the teen, apologizing. They said none of the victims had done anything to hurt their son and said the stabbings were not racially or ethnically motivated.

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Russia announces major operation in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — Russian missiles pounded opposition targets in Syria on Tuesday, the start of a much-anticipated offensive, while activists reported the resumption of bombing in rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo for the first time in nearly a month, apparently by Syrian government warplanes.

The Russian blitz began hours after President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump discussed Syria in a phone call and agreed on the need to combine efforts in the fight against what the Kremlin called their No. 1 enemy — "international terrorism and extremism."

Russia said its offensive, using long-range missiles and its carrier-borne jets in combat for the first time on opposition areas in Syria, focused on rebel-held northern Idlib province and parts of the central province of Homs. It didn't mention the besieged eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo.

The new offensive was a sharp snub to the Obama administration and its policy toward Syria, and augurs a major escalation in the coming days that would put tens of thousands of civilians in serious danger.

Months of negotiations between Moscow and the Obama administration have failed to cement a long-term cease-fire in Aleppo, which has become the focus of the war between President Bashar Assad and rebels fighting to topple him, some of whom receive U.S. aid. Al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate is fighting alongside the rebels, but the Islamic State group has no presence in Aleppo.

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Obama: World leaders must heed people's economic fears

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Drawing a broad lesson from the election of Donald Trump, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that world leaders need to pay attention to people's very real fears of economic dislocation and inequality in the midst of globalization.

"The more aggressively and effectively we deal with those issues, the less those fears may channel themselves into counterproductive approaches that can pit people against each other," Obama said as he opened the last foreign tour of his presidency.

Obama, in a joint news conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, said that both Trump's election and the British vote to leave the European Union reflected the need to deal with "people's fears that their children won't do as well as they have."

"Sometimes people just feel as if we want to try something and see if we can shake things up," Obama said.

The president seemed skeptical that "the new prescriptions being offered" would satisfy the frustrations and anger evident in election. And he played a bit of defense, saying that his agenda over past eight years had dealt with economic issues head on and "the country's indisputably better off."

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Facebook's fake news problem: What's its responsibility?

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is under fire for failing to rein in fake and biased news stories that some believe may have swayed the presidential election. Its predicament stems from this basic conundrum: It exercises great control over the news its users see, but it declines to assume the editorial responsibility that traditional publishers do.

On Monday, Facebook took a minor step to address the issue, clarifying its advertising policy to emphasize that it won't display ads on sites that run information that is "illegal, misleading or deceptive, which includes fake news." The company said it was merely making explicit a policy that was already implied.

Its move followed a similar step by Google earlier on Monday, after the search giant acknowledged that it had let a false article about the election results slip into its list of recommended news stories.

In the case of both companies, the aim is to discourage fake-news sites by depriving them of revenue.

Facebook is also said to be facing brewing internal turmoil over its influence and what it can and should do about it.

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US warship diverts to help New Zealand quake evacuation

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The first U.S. warship to visit New Zealand in more than 30 years was traveling toward a small coastal town on Wednesday to help in the evacuation of hundreds of stranded tourists and residents.

The USS Sampson had been due in Auckland but changed course to help those stuck in Kaikoura after a powerful earthquake on Monday cut off train and vehicle access to the town. The magnitude 7.8 quake left two people dead, triggered a small tsunami, and brought down rocks and mud that swept across highways.

New Zealand's military has been using large helicopters to evacuate about 200 people so far as part of a major rescue operation in Kaikoura. They've also been bringing in supplies of water, food and fuel.

The American destroyer has two helicopters which it has offered to deploy. U.S. officials said they were not yet sure when the ship would arrive.

Home to about 2,000 residents, Kaikoura is a popular destination for travelers taking part in whale-watching expeditions or wanting a stopover with mountain views. But the quake knocked out water supplies and sewer systems and left people with no easy way out.

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AP EXPLAINS: Election brings white nationalism to forefront

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Donald Trump's choice of far-right publishing executive Steve Bannon as a top White House adviser is bringing new scrutiny to a troubling, decades-old ideology: white nationalism.

The movement generally advocates formation of a nation set aside for whites. Some adherents openly supported Trump for president, and white nationalists have praised Trump's appointment of Bannon as a senior adviser. Bannon previously headed the Breitbart website that appealed to the so-called "alt-right" — a movement often associated with far right efforts to preserve "white identity," oppose multiculturalism and defend "Western values."

White nationalists often support the idea that white people are under attack in the U.S., and need protection from the growth of minority and immigrant groups. Adherents sometimes use the hashtag #whitegenocide on social media to promote their belief that the future of the white race is in peril. They see diversity as a threat to fight, not a goal to embrace.

Here are some questions and answers about white nationalism in the United States:

HOW DID THIS GET STARTED?

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House GOP nominates Ryan as speaker, with Trump's support

WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Paul Ryan unanimously won his GOP colleagues' votes on Tuesday for another term at the helm of the House. He told fellow Republicans he had President-elect Donald Trump's support, and heralded "the dawn of a new, unified Republican government."

"It feels really good to say that actually," Ryan told reporters. "This will be a government focused on turning President-elect Trump's victory into real progress for the American people."

While victory was the GOP unifier, Democrats were verging on disarray. House Democrats abruptly announced Tuesday that they were delaying their own leadership elections set for Thursday until Nov. 30 to give lawmakers more time to process disastrous election results.

It's not clear whether the election delay might morph into a real challenge to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She has led House Democrats for more than 12 years and has consolidated support with strong fundraising and an ability to deliver votes, but there's long been grumbling from Democrats who say new leadership is needed at the top.

As for Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican still has to win a floor vote for speaker in January, when all members of the House will cast ballots, including Democrats.
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