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

At least 6 dead, 2 missing after floods in Texas, Kansas

HOUSTON (AP) — Authorities in central Texas found two more bodies along flooded streams Sunday, bringing the death toll from flooding the state to six.

It’s unclear whether a body found in Travis County near Austin is one of the two people still missing in Texas. An 11-year-old boy is still missing in central Kansas, too.

The latest flooding victim identified by authorities was a woman who died when the car she was riding in was swept from the street by the flooded Cypress Creek about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Kendall County sheriff’s Cpl. Reid Daly said.

The car, with three occupants, was in Comfort, about 45 miles north of San Antonio. The driver made it to shore, and a female passenger was rescued from a tree. But Daly said 23-year-old Florida Molima was missing until her body was found around 11 a.m. Sunday about 8 miles downstream. She becomes the sixth flood-related death in Texas this Memorial Day weekend.

In Bandera, about 45 miles northwest of San Antonio, an estimated 10 inches of rain overnight led to the rescues of nine people. The rain caused widespread damage, including the collapse of the roof of the Bandera Bulletin, the weekly newspaper, KSAT-TV in San Antonio reported. Photos from the area showed campers and trailers stacked against each other, but no injuries were reported.


Trump’s movement campaign likely to turn on the margins

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Donald Trump calls his presidential campaign a mass movement, but he must show he can coax enough support from voters who twice delivered the White House to Barack Obama.

The billionaire businessman depended almost exclusively on conservative and GOP-leaning whites — a majority of them men — to secure the Republican nomination. Now he must look ahead to a wider, more diverse voting population in his likely general election matchup with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

His ability to seize on marginal shifts in the electorate may determine whether he can pull off a victory once unthinkable. Trump’s task is critical to flipping back into the GOP column some of the most contested states that Obama won twice.

This challenge is perhaps best evident in Florida, a culturally, racially and ideologically varied state where Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney four years ago by fewer than 75,000 votes out of more than 8.4 million cast.

That means small shifts anywhere in the electorate could make a difference — from turnout changes among white small-town and rural Republicans or urban, nonwhite Democrats to partisans, embittered by contentious nominating bouts, choosing third-party candidates or declining to vote at all; and if Trump can’t close the gaps in Florida, he has little shot of winning key Rust Belt and Great Lakes states where Obama’s advantages were greater.


More than 700 feared dead in recent Mediterranean crossings

POZZALLO, Sicily (AP) — Survivor accounts have pushed to more than 700 the number of migrants feared dead in Mediterranean Sea shipwrecks over three days in the past week, even as rescue ships saved thousands of others in daring operations.

The shipwrecks appear to account for the largest loss of life reported in the Mediterranean since April 2015, when a single ship sank with an estimated 800 people trapped inside. Humanitarian organizations say that many migrant boats sink without a trace, with the dead never found, and their fates only recounted by family members who report their failure to arrive in Europe.

“It really looks like that in the last period the situation is really worsening in the last week, if the news is confirmed,” said Giovanna Di Benedetto, a Save the Children spokeswoman in Italy.

Warmer waters and calmer weather of late have only increased the migrants’ attempts to reach Europe.

The largest number of missing and presumed dead was aboard a wooden fishing boat being towed by another smugglers’ boat from the Libyan port of Sabratha that sank Thursday. Estimates by police and humanitarian organizations, based on survivor accounts, range from around 400 to about 550 missing in that sinking alone.


Storm safe rooms as a wedding gift? Sure, in Tornado Alley

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Never mind toasters, blenders and slow cookers. Joplin, Missouri, tornado survivors Kayla and Ricky Smith had a more practical request for a wedding gift — shelter from the next big storm.

The Smiths were on the leading edge of an odd trend in Tornado Alley: Engaged couples using bridal registries or word of mouth to request donations so they can purchase safe rooms, which are strong, pre-fabricated shelters typically installed in houses or garages.

Several tornadoes have ravaged the Midwest and South in recent years. A month before the May 22, 2011, tornado in Joplin, which killed 161 people and destroyed 7,000 homes, hundreds died in a series of deadly tornadoes in the South. And a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013 killed 24.

The devastation raised awareness about the need for safety in homes that don’t have basements. Safe room sales skyrocketed, aided in part by the availability of Federal Emergency Management Agency grant and rebate programs that help pay for them in some states.

The pre-fabricated rooms feature thick steel walls and doors that can withstand winds up to 250 mph. They are windowless with no light fixtures or electricity. Most are small and built in a garage or closet. Safe rooms typically cost $3,000 to $7,000, depending on the size. A few are buried in the yard like shelters of years past.


German, French leaders mark 100 years since Battle of Verdun

VERDUN, France (AP) — In solemn ceremonies Sunday in the forests of eastern France, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel marked 100 years since the Battle of Verdun, determined to show that, despite the bloodbath of World War I, their countries’ improbable friendship is now a source of hope for today’s fractured Europe.

The 10-month battle at Verdun — the longest in World War I — killed 163,000 French and 143,000 German soldiers and wounded hundreds of thousands of others.

Between February and December 1916, an estimated 60 million shells were fired in the battle. One out of four didn’t explode. The front line villages destroyed in the fighting were never rebuilt. The battlefield zone still holds millions of unexploded shells, making the area so dangerous that housing and farming are still forbidden.

With no survivors left to remember, Sunday’s commemorations were focused on educating youth about the horrors and consequences of the war.

The main ceremony took place at a mass grave where, in 1984, then-French President Francois Mitterrand took then-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s hand in a breakthrough moment of friendship and trust by longtime enemy nations.


Students seeking sugar daddies for tuition, rent

Candice Kashani graduated from law school debt-free this spring, thanks to a modern twist on an age-old arrangement.

During her first year, she faced tuition and expenses that ran nearly $50,000, even after a scholarship. So she decided to check out a dating website that connected women looking for financial help with men willing to provide it, in exchange for companionship and sex — a “sugar daddy” relationship as they are known.

Now, almost three years and several sugar daddies later, Kashani is set to graduate from Villanova University free and clear, while some of her peers are burdened with six-digit debts.

As the cost of tuition and rent rises, so does the apparent popularity of such sites among students. But are they really providing financial relief, or signing women up for something more exploitative and dangerous than debt?

Kashani believes such sites are a “great resource” for young women, but others say these arrangements smack of prostitution and take advantage of women in a vulnerable situation.


A veteran’s race against time to return WWI Purple Hearts

ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) — A group that seeks to reunite lost Purple Hearts with service members or their descendants is embarking on an ambitious project: to return 100 such medals or certificates earned in World War I before the 100th anniversary next April of the United States’ entry into the conflict.

Zachariah Fike, of the Vermont-based Purple Hearts Reunited, began the project after noticing he had in his collection of memorabilia a total of exactly 100 Purple Hearts or equivalent lithographs awarded for injuries or deaths from the Great War.

“You’re honoring fallen heroes,” said Fike, a Vermont National Guard captain wounded in Afghanistan in 2010. “These are our forefathers; these are the guys that have shed their blood or sacrificed their lives for us. Any opportunity to bring light to that is always a good thing.”

The lithographs, known as a Lady Columbia Wound Certificate and showing a toga-wearing woman knighting an infantry soldier on bended knee, were what World War I military members wounded or killed while serving were awarded before the Purple Heart came into being in 1932. World War I service members who already had a lithograph became eligible for a Purple Heart at that time.

The Purple Hearts and the certificates include the name of the service member to whom they were awarded. Fike is working with researchers to try to find the descendants of the service members.


‘Mommy loves you!’: Boy rescued after gorilla is shot at zoo

CINCINNATI (AP) — Panicked zoo visitors watched helplessly and shouted, “Stay calm!” while one woman yelled, “Mommy loves you!” as a 400-pound-plus gorilla loomed over a 4-year-old boy who had fallen into a shallow moat at the Cincinnati Zoo.

The boy sat still in the water, looking up at the gorilla as the animal touched the child’s hand and back. At one point, it looked as though the gorilla helped the youngster stand up.

Two witnesses said they thought the gorilla was trying to protect the boy at first before getting spooked by the screams of onlookers. The animal then picked the child up out of the moat and dragged him to another spot inside the exhibit, zoo officials said.

Fearing for the boy’s life, the zoo’s dangerous-animal response team shot and killed the 17-year-old ape, named Harambe.

The child, whose name was not released, was released from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center on Saturday night, hours after the fall.


Hardly a dog’s life for Obama’s pets Bo and Sunny

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s hardly a dog’s life of just eating and sleeping for President Barack Obama’s pets, Bo and Sunny.

The pair of Portuguese water dogs — Bo with his distinctive white chest and front paws, and the all-black Sunny — are canine ambassadors for the White House, very popular and so in demand that they have schedules, like the president.

“Everybody wants to see them and take pictures,” Michelle Obama said. “I get a memo at the beginning of the month with a request for their schedules, and I have to approve their appearances.”

The dogs have entertained crowds at the annual Easter Egg Roll and Bo has been at Mrs. Obama’s side when she welcomes tourists on the anniversary of the president’s inauguration. The dogs also have cheered wounded service members, as well as the hospitalized children the first lady visits each year just before Christmas. In a sign of just how recognized Bo and Sunny are, authorities in January arrested a North Dakota man who they say came to Washington to kidnap one of the pets.

Bo, now 7, joined the Obama family in April 2009. He was a gift from the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., a key supporter of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign who became close to the family. Bo helped Obama keep a promise to daughters Malia and Sasha that they could get a dog after the election.


Alexander Rossi pulls off stunning upset in 100th Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new era for the Indianapolis 500 arrived in the form of a most unfamiliar driver.

An American, no less.

Alexander Rossi outlasted his faster rivals — and his fuel tank — for a stunning victory Sunday in the historic 100th running of “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing.” The unlikely win allowed the long-suffering Andretti family to celebrate in the biggest race of their storied careers and it left the top drivers in the field fuming over Rossi’s good fortune.

Rossi was a 66-to-1 long shot and certainly not the driver anyone would have picked to win. But the 24-year-old Californian used fuel strategy to outsmart a handful of drivers who had the most dominant cars in the race.

Rossi stretched his final tank of gas 90 miles to cycle into the lead as others had to duck into the pits for a splash of fuel in the waning laps. He was sputtering on the final lap, working his clutch and getting screamed at by team co-owner Bryan Herta to conserve fuel, and he ultimately ran out of gas after taking the checkered flag.

comments powered by Disqus