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

Trump’s GOP rivals attack his ‘flexibility’ on policies

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — With an eye on the general election — and suddenly “flexible” on immigration — Donald Trump has backed off from some of the hardline rhetoric that has fueled his presidential campaign, at least for the moment.

“Believe it or not, I’m a unifier,” Trump offered during a raucous rally Friday in suburban Detroit. “We are going to unify our country.”

Republican adversary Ted Cruz wasn’t having it. “Donald is telling us he will betray us on everything he’s campaigned on,” he said as he campaigned in Maine, one of five states voting in weekend primaries and caucuses.

Trump’s apparent outbreak of moderation on several fronts, including the most inflammatory one, immigration, comes after a dominant Super Tuesday performance that extended his reach for the Republican nomination and as GOP establishment figures stepped up to assail him.

In the rollicking Republican debate Thursday night, Trump retreated from a position paper on his website, saying he had swung in favor of more temporary H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers. His stance against that had been one of the few specific policies he had laid out.


Think Trump was crude? The Founding Fathers were just as bad

NEW YORK (AP) — You could say politics has reached a new low with the “small hands” remarks from the Republican debate.

But the exchange over the size of Donald Trump’s, um, hands is merely the most recent vulgarity in American politics. The history of crude remarks goes back to the Founding Fathers.

In the 18th century, John Adams called Alexander Hamilton a “bastard brat” and wrote that Hamilton had “a superabundance of secretions which he could not find whores enough to draw off,” according to historian Ron Chernow.

One difference between then and now: “These were words written or spoken in private, not in public,” said Chernow, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Alexander Hamilton helped inspire the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton.” (Chernow says the comments were quoted in letters that survived the centuries.)

In the 1880s, rumors of Grover Cleveland’s out-of-wedlock child led to a song from his Republican opponents: “Ma, ma, where’s my pa?” When Cleveland won the presidency, the response came: “Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!”


China cuts its economic growth target to 6.5-7 percent

BEIJING (AP) — China’s leadership cut this year’s growth target for its slowing economy to 6.5-7 percent and promised Saturday to allow private companies into its petroleum and telecoms markets as part of sweeping reforms aimed boosting productivity and incomes.

The growth target, down from last year’s “about 7 percent” and less than half of 2007’s peak of 14.2 percent, was included in a work report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang to China’s national legislature that starts a 12-day session in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Saturday.

China’s economy has cooled steadily as the ruling Communist Party tries to replace a worn-out model based on trade and investment with self-sustaining growth driven by domestic consumption. Growth declined last year to a 25-year low of 6.9 percent and is forecast to drift lower this year.

Plans call for transforming China into a middle-income economy with self-sustaining growth driven by consumer spending instead of investment, trade and heavy industry. That requires the ruling party to cut back the dominance of state industry that reform advocates complain is a drag on the economy and to give entrepreneurs a bigger role.

Li, the top economic official, promised to open state-dominated industries including telecoms, petroleum and public utilities, though he failed to say whether foreign companies might be allowed in or how large an ownership stake private competitors might be allowed. He said private companies in those fields would receive the same treatment as state-owned enterprises in project approval, finance and tax policy.


Discovery of knife is latest twist in O.J. Simpson case

LOS ANGELES (AP) — More than 20 years after O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife and a friend were stabbed to death, police revealed Friday they are examining a knife that was reportedly found at the home where the former football star was living at the time.

The announcement marked yet another twist in a case that’s had more unexpected turns than television’s best crime shows. The knife was believed to have been recovered by a construction worker tearing down the house. The worker then gave it to an off-duty police officer who was working as a security guard at a filming location, police said.

It was unclear when the knife was found and how long it was held by the officer, who is now retired. The knife was being analyzed by a Los Angeles Police Department crime lab for DNA or other material that could possibly link it to the killings.

Capt. Andy Neiman stressed that the authenticity of the story was not confirmed and that investigators were looking into whether “this whole story is possibly bogus from the get-go.”

“It’s unusual how this all of a sudden becomes a huge story during this time,” Neiman added, referring to the popular “People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” anthology that is airing on the FX television channel.


Turkish-Russian tensions not felt in village near border

AL-ISSAWIYAH, Syria (AP) — In this Syrian mountain village perched above the Mediterranean, residents say they have enjoyed a measure of peace, even though they live near a border that has seen escalating tensions in recent months between Turkey and Russia.

The villagers, most of whom are members of Syria’s Turkmen ethnic minority, have formed their own militia, but they rely heavily on the Syrian army, said Al-Issawiyah’s mayor, Mustafa Yussef Kafe.

On Friday, hundreds of them lined up to receive a truckload of food, water and other humanitarian aid sent by Moscow, a longtime ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The delivery was part of a cease-fire that began last weekend in the 5-year-old civil war between Assad and the rebels trying to oust him from power.

“We live in peace here, and we are very grateful to Russia for the help it is offering,” the mayor told international reporters on a trip to the village organized by Russia’s foreign and defense ministries.

On Nov. 24, NATO-ally Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 that it said ignored repeated warnings and crossed into Turkish airspace from Syria for about 17 seconds. The two pilots of the Russian warplane ejected, but one was killed by Syrian rebel fire as he parachuted from his aircraft. One of two helicopters sent to the crash site to search for survivors was also hit by rebel fire, killing a serviceman.


US presses UN council to confront sex abuse by peacekeepers

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States is pressing the U.N. Security Council for the first time to confront the escalating problem of sexual abuse and exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers, which has undermined the organization’s credibility.

The United States is the biggest financial contributor to U.N. peacekeeping operations, and U.S. officials said Friday the Obama administration wants the council to send a strong signal that it will not tolerate sexual crimes by troops and police sent to protect vulnerable civilians, especially children.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said in a statement the U.S. has always urged the Secretary-General to take action on sexual abuse and would further press individual countries to take action when their personnel are involved.

“The United States has expanded our outreach to troop and police contributing countries to press for immediate and necessary actions to complement the UN’s efforts to bolster justice and accountability measures for perpetrators of (sexual exploitation and abuse),” the statement reads.

The council resolution drafted by the U.S. is a response to a new report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon detailing the 69 allegations in 2015 which for the first time named the countries of alleged perpetrators.


Police question Brazil’s ex-president in corruption probe

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian police hauled former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from his home and questioned him for about four hours Friday in a sprawling corruption case involving state-run oil company Petrobras that has already ensnared some of the country’s most-powerful lawmakers and businessmen.

The once-immensely popular president, who governed from 2003 to 2010 and remains a towering figure in Brazil, angrily denounced the morning raid as part of a campaign to sully his image, that of his party and that of his hand-picked successor, President Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff also expressed her “total inconformity” with the operation, which she called unnecessary, although she appeared to distance herself from her one-time mentor by only briefly mentioning Silva in an address Friday afternoon.

“I felt like a prisoner this morning,” said Silva, who has expressed interest in possibly running for president again. “I have gone through many things, and I am not one to hold a grudge, but I don’t think our country can continue this way.”

At a rally late Friday in Sao Paulo, an emotional Silva insisted on his innocence. “If they are a cent more honest than I, then I will leave politics,” he pledged, his eyes welling with tears.


Revamped satellite data shows no pause in global warming

WASHINGTON (AP) — Climate change doubters may have lost one of their key talking points: a particular satellite temperature dataset that had seemed to show no warming for the past 18 years.

The Remote Sensing System temperature data, promoted by many who reject mainstream climate science and especially most recently by Sen. Ted Cruz, now shows a slight warming of about 0.18 degrees Fahrenheit since 1998. Ground temperature measurements, which many scientists call more accurate, all show warming in the past 18 years.

“There are people that like to claim there was no warming; they really can’t claim that anymore,” said Carl Mears, the scientist who runs the Remote Sensing System temperature data tracking.

The change resulted from an adjustment Mears made to fix a nagging discrepancy in the data from 15 satellites.

The satellites are in a polar orbit, so they are supposed to go over the same place at about the same time as they circle from north to south pole. Some of the satellites drift a bit, which changes their afternoon and evening measurements ever so slightly. Some satellites had drift that made temperatures warmer, others cooler. Three satellites had thrusters and they stayed in the proper orbit so they provided guidance for adjustments.


SpaceX launches satellite, but fails to land rocket on barge

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX has another launch under its belt, but not another rocket landing.

The leftover first-stage booster hit the floating platform hard Friday, said SpaceX chief Elon Musk. The company never expected to nail this landing, he said, because of the faster speed of the booster that was required to deliver the satellite to an extra-high orbit.

SpaceX scored a rocket landing on the ground at Cape Canaveral in December, but has yet to nail a trickier barge landing at sea.

The good news, though, is that the unmanned Falcon 9 rocket successfully hoisted the broadcasting satellite for Luxembourg-based company SES.

It was the fifth launch attempt over the past 1½ weeks; Sunday’s try ended with an engine shutdown a split second before liftoff. Friday’s sunset launch provided a stunning treat along the coast.


Bud Collins, US voice of tennis in print and on TV, has died

Bud Collins, the tennis historian and American voice of the sport in print and on TV for decades, has died. He was 86.

His wife, Anita Ruthling Klaussen, said in a telephone interview that Collins died Friday at home in Brookline, Massachusetts, after suffering from Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1994, Collins was well-known for creative player nicknames and turns of phrase that were as colorful as his trademark bow ties and one-of-a-kind pants created from cloth he collected around the world.

Collins contributed to tennis’ popularity and paved the way for newspaper reporters moving into broadcasting, becoming a familiar face to U.S. television audiences waking up for “Breakfast at Wimbledon” on NBC. Collins spent 35 years on that network’s annual coverage from the All England Club and also worked as a tennis analyst for PBS, CBS, ESPN and Tennis Channel.

“A legend and a gentleman with a unique style, Bud’s analysis and on-court interviews were must-see TV for millions of American tennis fans,” NBC Sports said in a statement Friday.