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


Strong quake hits Taiwan, killing 3; 221 rescued from rubble

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Rescuers in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan pulled out 221 people and three dead from a residential high-rise complex that collapsed when a shallow 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck before dawn Saturday, leaving still others trapped inside.

Firefighters and soldiers scrambled with ladders, cranes and other equipment to the building that folded like an accordion in a pile of rubble and twisted metal and extracted dazed survivors.

The emergency response center told The Associated Press that three people were killed, including a 10-day-old infant, a 55-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man. Taiwan’s official news agency said the infant and the man were pulled out of a 17-story Wei Guan residential building and that both were later declared dead. The agency said 256 people were believed to have been living in 92 households.

Dozens more people have been rescued or safely evacuated from a market and a seven-floor building that was badly damaged, the Central News Agency reported.

A bank building also careened, but no injuries were reported, it said.

___

Republicans circle Rubio as stakes grow in New Hampshire

LONDONBERRY, N.H. (AP) — On the rise in a tightening race, Marco Rubio shouldered intensifying attacks Friday from moderate-leaning Republicans who fear a strong Rubio showing in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary could spell the end for their frazzled presidential campaigns.

Jeb Bush and Chris Christie both accused Rubio of a lackluster set of accomplishments. Bush, campaigning with his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, summed up the Florida senator’s achievements in one word: “Nothing.”

On the Democratic side, the gloves were off in a campaign that had shown more signs of comity than rancor — until now. A day after jousting in a feisty debate, Hillary Clinton struggled to defend herself against Bernie Sanders’ insinuations that she’s beholden to Wall Street, while Sanders faced fresh doubts about his experience on foreign policy.

As candidates crisscrossed the state, a burst of soggy snow became the latest obstacle to winning support among undecided voters. The winter surprise sidelined Donald Trump and Sanders, who canceled afternoon events as campaigns sent plucky volunteers trudging through the slush to knock on doors.

Blizzard notwithstanding, the all-out push for votes illustrated the growing stakes for Tuesday’s vote. New polls showed Rubio on the rise both in New Hampshire and nationally, raising his hopes that a second-place finish Tuesday will spur Republican Party leaders to unite behind him in a bid to defeat the two polarizing front-runners: Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

___

Cruz’s 2016 strategy focuses on turning out white voters

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — Ted Cruz has mapped out a path to the White House that all but ignores the explosion of minority voters in America.

The Texas senator’s general election strategy depends almost wholly upon maximizing turnout among millions of conservative white voters — mostly evangelical Christians and the white working class — who didn’t participate in the last presidential contest.

At the same time, Cruz’s team is banking on a sharp decline in black and Hispanic support for the 2016 Democratic nominee, whoever it is, returning to voter trends before Barack Obama shook up the electorate as the nation’s first black president and won an overwhelming share of support from non-white voters.

It is a strategy that defies the conventional wisdom in the GOP that says the party can win the White House again only if it appeals to political moderates and non-white voters who are becoming a greater share of the voting-age population as each day passes.

“I’m an outlier,” said longtime Cruz aide Jason Johnson, the chief architect of the Cruz playbook, which he concedes is not in line with modern-day Republican thinking.

___

In Brazil, pregnant women urged to be cautious with a kiss

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — In a sign of mounting global concern over the Zika virus, health officials on Friday warned pregnant women to think twice about the lips they kiss and called on men to use condoms with pregnant partners if they have visited countries where the virus is present.

U.N. officials also called on many Catholic-majority countries in Latin America to loosen their abortion laws to allow women to terminate pregnancies if they fear the fetus may be at risk for a rare birth defect that causes brain damage and an abnormally small head, which may be linked to the virus.

The flurry of recommendations began in Brazil, where a top health official warned pregnant women to be cautious with their kisses.

Paulo Gadelha, president of the Fiocruz research institute, told a news conference that scientists have found live virus in saliva and urine samples, and the possibility it could be spread by the two body fluids requires further study.

He said that calls for pregnant women to take special precautions, and suggested they avoid kissing people other than a regular partner or sharing cutlery, glasses and plates with people who have symptoms of the virus.

___

Thousands more Syrians rush toward Turkey to flee fighting

BEIRUT (AP) — Thousands of Syrians rushed toward the Turkish border Friday, fleeing a fierce government offensive and intense Russian airstrikes near Syria’s largest city of Aleppo.

Turkey, an ally of the Syrian opposition, promised humanitarian help for the displaced civilians, including food and shelter, but it did not say whether it would let them cross into the country, already burdened with hundreds of thousands of refugees.

“The attacks and bombings by the Russian planes and the Syrian regime have left our brothers with nowhere else to go,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu said in a televised speech.

The U.N. estimated that nearly 40,000 newly displaced people have massed in recent days in several border areas of northern Syria, including about 20,000 near the Bab al-Salam border crossing. Turkish authorities increased security at the crossing and the pro-government A Haber news channel said all police and military leaves were canceled.

The international aid group Mercy Corps said that among those fleeing toward Turkey were residents of rebel-held areas of Aleppo who feared they would soon be besieged by government forces, while others were running from troops advancing in rural areas.

___

Manhattan crane topples into street killing 1, injuring 3

NEW YORK (AP) — A huge construction crane being lowered to safety in a snow squall plummeted onto a Lower Manhattan street Friday, killing a Wall Street worker and leaving three people hurt by debris that scattered as the rig’s lengthy boom fell, officials said.

The mobile crane’s boom landed across an intersection, smashed several car roofs and stretched much of a block after the accident around 8:25 a.m. at a historic building about 10 blocks north of the World Trade Center.

Robert Harold heard a crashing sound as the rig fell right outside his office window at the Legal Aid Society.

“You could feel the vibration in the building,” said Harold, who recounted seeing onlookers trying to rescue someone trapped in a parked car and seeing a person lying motionless on the street. After the collapse, the crane’s big cab lay upside-down in the snow with its tank-like tracks pointed at the sky.

The collapse killed David Wichs, a mathematical whiz who worked at a computerized trading firm, his family said. Born in Prague, he had immigrated to the United States as a teenager and graduated from Harvard University, said his sister-in-law, Lisa Guttman.

___

Couple wanted in crime spree led police on chase; 1 killed

MILTON, Fla. (AP) — A weeklong search for a Missouri couple wanted in a series of robberies and abductions across the South ended with one suspect dead and the other wounded Friday, after authorities say they chased the pair across the highway and through a rural neighborhood and exchanged gunfire with them in Florida’s Panhandle.

Blake Fitzgerald died and Brittany Nicole Harper was at a hospital under armed guard with a wounded leg, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said at a news conference. She faces charges including home invasion, robbery, false imprisonment and grand theft auto, but no court appearances are scheduled, Morgan said.

The sheriff said the chase began shortly after reports of an armed robbery at a Famous Footwear store in Pensacola at 7:56 p.m. Thursday. Witness said the man held a gun on the clerk while the woman shopped, according to Morgan.

Authorities began chasing the couple, following them to nearby Pensacola Beach, before zigging and zagging though Pensacola and even going onto Interstate 10 a couple of times, Morgan said. At one point, authorities lost sight of the pair for a couple of hours, Morgan said. During that time, they held a Pensacola family hostage and eventually fled in the family’s red pickup truck, he said.

It was 12:16 a.m. Friday when the vehicle was spotted on I-10, Morgan said. Deputies followed the truck as it exited and went down a rural road.

___

Twitter moves to actively seek out terrorist supporters

WASHINGTON (AP) — Twitter is now using spam-fighting technology to seek out accounts that might be promoting terrorist activity and is examining other accounts related to those flagged for possible removal, the company announced Friday.

The announcement demonstrated efforts by Twitter to automatically identify tweets supporting terrorism, reflecting increased pressure placed by the U.S. government for social media companies to respond to abuse more proactively. Child pornography has previously been the only abuse that was automatically flagged for human review on social media, using a different kind of technology that sources a database of known images.

Twitter also said Friday it has suspended more than 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts, mainly related to Islamic State militants, in the last eight months. Social media has increasingly become a tool for recruitment and radicalization that’s used by the Islamic State group and its supporters, who by some reports have sent tens of thousands of tweets per day.

Tech companies are dedicating increasingly more resources to tracking reports of violent threats. Twitter said Friday that it has increased the size of its team reviewing reports to reduce their response time “significantly.” The San Francisco-based company also changed its policy in April, adding language to make clear that “threatening or promoting terrorism” specifically counted as abusive behavior and violated its terms of use.

The White House on Friday said Twitter’s announcement was “very much welcome.”

___

Speeches that earned Clinton millions remain a mystery

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Hillary Clinton told voters in the latest Democratic debate there’s “hardly anything you don’t know about me.”

Just minutes later, she got tangled in a question about a part of her resume that is an enduring mystery.

In the 18 months before launching her second presidential bid, Clinton gave nearly 100 paid speeches at banks, trade associations, charitable groups and private corporations. The appearances netted her $21.7 million — and voters very little information about what she was telling top corporations as she prepared for her 2016 campaign.

What she said — or didn’t say — to Wall Street banks in particular has become a significant problem for her presidential campaign, as she tries to counter the unexpected rise of Democratic rival Bernie Sanders. He’s put her in awkward position of squaring her financial windfall with a frustrated electorate.

Asked in the debate — and not for the first time — about releasing transcripts of those speeches, she said: “I will look into it. I don’t know the status, but I will certainly look into it.” She added, “My view on this is, look at my record.”

___

Thomas’ mom to watch from the stands, not the cell this time

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Demaryius Thomas’s mother will watch the Super Bowl from the stands at Levi’s Stadium, decked out in an officially licensed orange No. 88 jersey.

The last time the Denver Broncos played in the Super Bowl, Katina Smith and her mother wore jerseys that they had crafted from strips of tape as they watched the game on their prison TV

Smith was released five years early from that minimum-security prison in Florida last summer as part of President Barack Obama’s push to reduce the prison population of non-violent drug offenders.

She’d been serving a 20-year sentence after refusing to testify against her mother, Minnie Pearl Thomas, who is serving life.

The first thing Smith asked Thomas for when she got out was a Sony Walkman.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU