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


Candidates sprint to NH finish, but brace for long campaign

SALEM, N.H. (AP) — Eyeing their first wins in a capricious campaign, Republican Donald Trump lashed out at his opponents Monday while Democrat Bernie Sanders sought to play it safe on the eve of the nation’s initial primary. GOP contenders vying for second and third saw fresh hopes for survival after New Hampshire as both parties settled in for a drawn-out slog to the nomination.

As snowfall brought yet more uncertainty to the race’s final hours, Hillary Clinton tried to move past talk of a shakeup in her campaign and controversy over comments by supporters that women should feel obliged to vote for her. Barnstorming New Hampshire with her husband and daughter, she worked to flip Sanders’ favored critique against her by claiming that he, too, had taken big bucks from Wall Street — if only indirectly.

But it was Trump, the billionaire businessman, who launched the harshest attacks — not against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who had bested him in Iowa, but against Jeb Bush. The former Florida governor is one of three Republicans hoping Marco Rubio’s recent stumbles have opened a fresh path for one of them to emerge as the more mainstream alternative to Trump and Cruz.

“Jeb is having some kind of a breakdown, I think,” Trump told CNN, calling Bush, the son and brother of presidents, a spoiled child and an embarrassment to his family. “I think it’s a very sad situation that’s taking place.”

The enmity was mutual. Vying for votes in Nashua, Bush described his opponent variably as a loser, a liar, a whiner and the worst choice for president. He blasted what he said was Trump’s proclivity for “insulting women, castigating Hispanics, ridiculing the disabled and calling American POWs losers.”

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For the Clintons, New Hampshire is the state of 2nd chances

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — It’s their Everest. Their firewall. Their lifeboat in a frozen Atlantic.

They are the Clintons. It is New Hampshire. And here we all are again.

For nearly 25 years, New Hampshire has been the backdrop for some of the most memorable Clinton comebacks, pleas, denials, hustle, glory and drama. Now those ghosts of primaries past are trailing Hillary Clinton as she tries — perhaps, one last time — to pull off another one for the history books.

Trailing by double digits, according to some polls, the Clinton campaign is finding it can’t escape the expectations and the limits of that “special bond” between the Clintons and voters of New Hampshire on the cusp of Tuesday’s primary.

“It still exists,” said Dayton Duncan, a New Hampshire-based historian and Clinton supporter. “But time passes.”

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Saudi offer to send troops to Syria comes with uncertainty

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s offer to send troops to fight Islamic State in Syria is as much about the kingdom’s growing determination to flex its military might as it is about answering U.S. calls for more help from its allies in the Middle East.

A Saudi deployment runs the potentially explosive risk of confrontation between one of the Arab world’s most powerful militaries and forces keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power. That’s if the Saudi proposal even gets translated into action.

Just putting the offer on the table gives the Saudis an opportunity to show leadership in addressing U.S. concerns that its regional allies aren’t doing enough to fight IS. It also puts pressure on Washington to do more as Defense Secretary Ash Carter and allied defense ministers gather in Brussels this week for talks on confronting the extremists.

Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri, the Saudi military spokesman, made clear the kingdom’s offer is contingent on the support of the U.S.-led coalition battling the militant group in Iraq and Syria. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which also has offered to deploy ground forces, are part of the coalition but have eased up on their contributions to the air campaign after earlier, high-profile sorties over Syria.

In Washington, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir implied Monday that his country’s willingness to send special forces to Syria was contingent on the U.S. leading the ground effort.

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Chicago teen’s death shines light on police code of silence

CHICAGO (AP) — For more than a year after an officer shot and killed a black teen named Laquan McDonald, the Chicago Police Department had video footage that raised serious doubts about whether other officers at the scene tried in their reports to cover up what prosecutors now contend was murder.

Not until 15 months later was one of those officers and a detective who concluded the shooting was justified put on desk duty. At least eight other officers failed to recount the same scene that unfolded on the video. All of them remain on the street, according to the department.

The lack of swift action illustrates the difficulty of confronting the “code of silence” that has long been associated with police in Chicago and elsewhere. The obstacles include disciplinary practices that prevent the police chief himself from firing problem officers and a labor contract that prevents officers from being held accountable if a video surfaces that contradicts their testimony.

“If they are not going to analyze officers’ reports and compare them to objective evidence like the video, why would the officers ever stop lying?” asked Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law professor who helped force the city to release the video.

Of the eight officers, six said they did not see who fired, and three depicted McDonald as more threatening than he appeared. One claimed the teen tried to get up with a knife still in his hand. The footage clearly showed him falling down and lying motionless on the pavement.

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Beyonce’s Super Bowl show bringing both praise and criticism

A day after the Super Bowl, people are still parsing over each frame from Beyonce’s halftime performance, trying to glean the messages, both subtle and overt, that made for a stunning display of unapologetic blackness and political activism during one of the most-watched events of the year.

The halftime show — seen by an estimated 112 million people — is drawing praise from her fans and consternation from critics.

While Beyonce hasn’t commented on the specifics of the show, and her rep declined comment, the imagery speaks for itself. Beyonce’s dancers donned berets, sported Afros and wore all black, similar to the style of the Black Panther party, founded 50 years ago by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in the Bay area — the location of this year’s Super Bowl. At one point during their routine, the dancers formed an “X” on the field, which some people are taking as a tribute to slain black activist Malcolm X.

In addition, Beyoncé and her dancers raised a fist to the sky, reminiscent of the black power salutes of the 1960-70s, made popular internationally by Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised their fists to the sky after winning gold and bronze at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

Several people applauded her embracing the history of black activism and of her own identity. Her new song “Formation,” which she sang during her performance, includes the lyrics “I like my baby hair, with baby hair and Afros. I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.”

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Obama asking Congress for emergency funding to combat Zika

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that spread it here and abroad, but says “there shouldn’t be a panic on this.”

The virus is spreading rapidly through Latin America. While most people experience either mild or no symptoms, Zika is suspected of causing a devastating birth defect — babies born with abnormally small heads — and pregnant Americans are urged to avoid travel to affected areas.

U.S. health officials say the money is critical for research into the birth defect known as microcephaly. They also want to speed development of a vaccine and better diagnostic tests, and expand mosquito control programs. Some of the money would also aid Zika-stricken countries and territories.

“What we now know is that there appears to be some significant risk for pregnant women and women who are thinking about having a baby,” Obama said in an interview aired Monday on “CBS This Morning.”

And while experts don’t expect large outbreaks in the continental U.S., the emergency funding also would help them prepare for any local transmission as spring and summer approach. The administration is seeking the Zika money separately from the regular budget for the next fiscal year, which Obama will submit to Congress on Tuesday.

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An icky new hero: Roach-like robots may help in disasters

WASHINGTON (AP) — When buildings collapse in future disasters, the hero helping rescue trapped people may be a robotic cockroach.

Repulsive as they may be, roaches have the remarkable ability to squish their bodies down to one quarter their normal size, yet still scamper at lightning speed. Also, they can withstand 900 times their body weight without being hurt. That’s equivalent to a 200-pound man who wouldn’t be crushed by 90 tons on his head.

The amazing cockroach inspired scientists to create a mini-robot that can mimic those feats of strength and agility.

The researchers hope swarms of future roach-like robots could be fitted with cameras, microphones and other sensors and then used in earthquakes and other disasters to help search for victims by squeezing through small cracks. The skittering robots could also let rescuers know if the rubble pile is stable.

Cockroaches “seem to be able to go anywhere,” said University of California at Berkeley biology professor Robert Full, co-author of a study about the prototype cockroach robot. “I think they’re really disgusting and really revolting, but they always tell us something new.”

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More than 30 injured in Connecticut casino bus crash

MADISON, Conn. (AP) — A charter bus driving through a snowstorm to a casino flipped onto its side Monday, injuring more than 30 people and closing the northbound side of Interstate 95 in Connecticut.

The bus, which was on its way from New York City to the Mohegan Sun casino, crashed around 12:30 p.m. in Madison, east of New Haven.

State police trooper Kelly Grant said there were about 70 people on the bus. Passengers were taken to several hospitals, with the most seriously injured going to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Mark D’Antonio, a Yale hospital spokesman, said they received eight patients, far fewer than the 30 they had originally been told to expect. One person suffered several broken bones and the others were less seriously injured with cuts and bruises, he said.

“They initially expected worse in the field and told us to prepare for the worst,” he said. “Once they got down to nuts and bolts and triaged everybody, they realized it was not as serious as they thought.”

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Germany, Turkey vow diplomatic effort to end Aleppo violence

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — As tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing violence massed at Turkey’s border, Turkish and German leaders pledged Monday to redouble diplomatic efforts to end the fighting around the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo and prevent more refugees making their way into Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after talks with Turkey’s prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, that she was “not just appalled but horrified” by the suffering caused by the bombing in Syria, primarily by Russia.

Merkel said Turkey and Germany would push at the United Nations for all sides to adhere to a U.N. resolution passed in December that calls for an immediate halt to attacks on civilians in Syria.

Merkel was in Ankara for talks on how to reduce the influx of migrants into Europe, mostly via a perilous boat crossing from Turkey to Greece. Turkey’s coast guard said Monday that another 27 migrants had died after their boat capsized in the Bay of Edremit while trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.

Her visit came after a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive around Aleppo sent up to 35,000 Syrians fleeing toward the border with Turkey in recent days.

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Super Bowl gets 111.9 million viewers, down from last year

NEW YORK (AP) — Setting television viewership records with the Super Bowl has become almost routine, but this year’s average of 111.9 million viewers for Denver’s victory over Carolina is down from the past two years.

That makes Sunday’s game the third most-watched event in U.S. television history, the Nielsen company said Monday. Last year’s down-to-the-wire contest between New England and Seattle keeps the record with 114.4 million viewers.

The Super Bowl had seemed to know no ceiling in popularity, setting viewership records in six of seven years until this one.

CBS, the nation’s most-watched network, had pushed the event hard the past few months, playing up the historical nature of the 50th Super Bowl game. But Denver’s 24-10 victory wasn’t a sizzler, with defenses dominating the marquee quarterback matchup between Peyton Manning and reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton.

Even more than television, social media reflected far less engagement in the game than there was last year, when the result was decided on a last-minute, goal-line interception.

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