GOP badly split as Trump, Clinton seek Super Tuesday wins
VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP) — On the eve of Super Tuesday’s crucial primaries, a sharp new divide erupted between Republicans who pledge to fall in line behind Donald Trump if he wins their party’s nomination and others who insist they can never back the bombastic billionaire.
The fissure could have major implications beyond the primaries, exposing the looming challenges in uniting the party after the election, no matter who wins.
Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, a rising star among conservatives, became the first current senator to publicly raise the prospect of backing a third party option if Trump clinches the nomination. In a letter posted on Facebook late Sunday, Sasse urged Republicans to consider whether a party led by Trump would still represent their interests.
“If our party is no longer working for the things we believe in — like defending the sanctity of life, stopping Obamacare, protecting the Second Amendment, etc. — then people of good conscience should stop supporting that party until it is reformed,” he wrote.
The Associated Press asked Republican senators and governors across the country if they would support Trump if he secured the nomination. Just under half of those who responded would not commit to backing him, foreshadowing a potentially extraordinary break this fall.
Australian cardinal says he has deceived by bishop in 1970s
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — One of Pope Francis’ top advisers told an Australian inquiry into child sex abuse on Tuesday that an Australian bishop had deceived him about the reason a pedophile priest was repeatedly transferred from parish to parish.
Australian Cardinal George Pell was a priest in the town of Ballarat in 1970s who advised Bishop Ronald Mulkearns about the placement of priests within the diocese.
Pell, now the pope’s top financial adviser, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that while Mulkearns and another priest at the regular committee meetings, Monsignor Leo Fiscalini, both knew about serious sexual assault allegations against notorious pedophile Gerald Ridsdale, neither mentioned them.
“It probably would be possible to imagine a greater deception, but it’s a gross deception,” Pell told the Sydney inquiry via videolink from a Rome hotel.
It was the second day of evidence for the 74-year-old cleric, who because of ill health could not travel to Australia to give evidence in person at the inquiry into decades of child abuse.
10 Things to Know for Tuesday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:
1. GOP DIVIDES DEEPEN ON EVE OF SUPER TUESDAY
The fault lines widen between Republican leaders who support front-runner Donald Trump and those who reject him, sending tremors through the party.
2. WHAT JUDGE RULES ABOUT APPLE IPHONE ENCRYPTION
The U.S. Justice Dept. cannot force Apple to give the FBI access to locked iPhone data, a judge rules in a N.Y. drug case that could affect the San Bernardino terrorism investigation.
CAN THEY DO THAT? Trump favors torture that’s illegal
WASHINGTON (AP) — Tough talk about torture is a guaranteed applause line for Donald Trump on the GOP presidential stump.
Trump has repeatedly advocated waterboarding, an enhanced interrogation technique that simulates the feeling of drowning.
“In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians. … I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” he said to applause in a recent debate, without ever specifying what “a lot worse” would entail.
“I don’t think we go far enough,” he said, drawing loud clapping at a rally last week in Las Vegas.
“We don’t go far enough,” he repeated, prompting now-thundering applause and chants of “USA! USA!”
Sanders keeps his Judaism in the background, irking US Jews
NEW YORK (AP) — As Bernie Sanders headed toward victory in New Hampshire, pundits noted the barrier he was about to break: Sanders would become the first Jewish candidate to win a major party presidential primary.
But since that Feb. 9 win, instead of the burst of communal pride that often accompanies such milestones, the response from American Jews has been muted. One reason: The Vermont senator, the candidate who has come closer than any other Jew to being a Democratic or Republican presidential nominee, has mostly avoided discussing his Judaism.
Sanders has baffled Jews by refusing to name the Israeli kibbutz where he briefly volunteered in the 1960s, sending reporters scrambling to solve the mystery. When they found the kibbutz, he wouldn’t comment.
In New Hampshire after his breakout win, he described himself as “the son of a Polish immigrant,” not a Jewish one. At a Democratic debate, he spoke of the historic nature of “somebody with my background” seeking the presidency, but didn’t use the word “Jewish.” A recent headline in the liberal Jewish Daily Forward newspaper read, “We Need To Out Bernie Sanders as a Jew — For His Own Good.”
Rabbi James Glazier of Temple Sinai n South Burlington, Vermont, said Sanders’ comments were being discussed by rabbis in the liberal Reform movement. “What did he leave out there? He didn’t say ‘Jewish Polish’ immigrant. Reform rabbis have picked up on this big time.”
Iranian hard-liners losers in parliament, clerical body
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian voters dealt hard-liners a serious blow in elections for parliament and an influential clerical body, favoring reformists and relative moderates who support last year’s nuclear deal in the country’s first elections since the landmark agreement, results released Monday showed.
Reformists, who favor expanded social freedoms and engagement with the West, won at least 85 seats, according to final results released by the Interior Ministry and broadcast on state TV. Moderate conservatives — who split with the hard-line camp and support the nuclear deal — won 73, giving the two blocs together a majority over hard-liners in the 290-seat assembly.
The vote isn’t expected to herald large-scale change in Iranian policies, but may make it easier for President Hassan Rouhani to deliver in areas such as promoting social freedoms and reforming the economy.
Hard-liners won just 68 seats, down from 112 in the current parliament. Five seats will go to religious minorities, and the remaining 59 will be decided in a runoff, likely to be held in April.
While none of the country’s three main political camps will dominate the next parliament, reformists and moderate conservatives are expected to work together — at least on economic issues.
AP Explains: Iranian clerics tasked with picking top leader
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian moderates have won a majority in the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body that is tasked with choosing the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, and which was previously dominated by hard-liners.
The 88-member body is elected every eight years, and may choose the successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been Iran’s top decision-maker since the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, died in 1989. Khamenei is 76 years old and underwent prostate surgery in 2014, raising concerns about his health.
The newly elected body could therefore play a major role in shaping the future of Iran, which is deeply divided between hard-liners who are hostile to the West and relative moderates who want to expand freedoms and improve relations with the international community.
The Associated Press explains the Assembly of Experts, the latest election, and what it means for Iran’s future.
WHAT IS THE ASSEMBLY OF EXPERTS?
North Korea puts tearful detained American before cameras
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea presented a detained American student before the media on Monday in Pyongyang, where he tearfully apologized for attempting to steal a political banner — at the behest, he said, of a member of a church back home who wanted it as a “trophy” — from a staff-only section of the hotel where he had been staying.
North Korea announced in late January it had arrested Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student. It said that after entering the country as a tourist he committed an anti-state crime with “the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation.”
No details of what kind of charges or punishment Warmbier faces were immediately released.
According to Warmbier’s statement Monday, he wanted the banner with a political slogan on it as a trophy for the church member, who was the mother of a friend.
In previous cases, people who have been detained in North Korea and made a public confession often recant those statements after their release.
Justice Thomas asks questions in court, 1st time in 10 years
WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Clarence Thomas broke 10 years of courtroom silence Monday and posed questions during a Supreme Court oral argument, provoking gasps from the audience.
And it wasn’t just one question; it was a string of them in an exchange that lasted several minutes.
It was only the second week the court has heard arguments since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Thomas’ friend and fellow conservative, whom he’d sat next to for seven years. Scalia was famous for aggressive and sometimes combative questions from the bench. His chair is now draped in black in observance of his Feb. 13 death.
Thomas’ gravelly voice unexpectedly filled the courtroom and enlivened an otherwise sleepy argument about gun rights. He peppered Justice Department lawyer Ilana Eisenstein, who was trying to wind up her argument, with 10 or so questions that seemed to be a vigorous defense of the constitutional right to own a gun.
“Ms. Eisenstein, one question,” Thomas said. “This is a misdemeanor violation. It suspends a constitutional right. Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?”
A ‘hero’ cop gets lost in Peru’s narco war
TALAVERA, Peru (AP) — Johnny Vega rarely carried his 9-mm pistol when he wasn’t on duty. He wishes he had that day.
The narcotics cop was chatting with a friend on a park bench, the Andean sun burning the dawn’s chill off this highlands town nearly 10,000 feet (2,900 meters) above sea level.
On that morning of Aug. 20, 2014, Vega had dropped his son Juan at nursery school and then walked to Talavera’s main square. He noticed a tall young man strolling by and wondered if he knew him.
Vega was a rarity in this nation where cops, courts and congress are badly compromised by corruption . An earnest provincial narcotics officer, he had made a career of actually doing what he was trained for: locking up criminals. Defying death threats from narcos, he led a hand-picked team of trusted officers who consistently scored trafficker arrests and record drug seizures even as Peru became the world’s No. 1 cocaine producer. In a country where police are as likely to take bribes as to make arrests, Vega was a hero. Three times, he had been named police officer of the year.
Vega was deep in conversation when the young man walked by again, stopped and leveled a silencer-equipped Bersa at the cop’s head.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU