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

AP-NORC Poll: Voters feel disconnected, helpless in 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans and Democrats feel a massive disconnect with their political parties and helpless about the presidential election.

That’s according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which helps explain the rise of outsider candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and suggests challenges ahead for fractured parties that must come together to win this fall.

“It feels like the state of politics is generally broken,” said Joe Denother, a 37-year-old Oregon voter who typically favors Republicans.

The divisive primary season has fueled an overall sense of pessimism about the political process that underscores a widening chasm between political parties and the voters they claim to represent. Just 12 percent of Republicans think the GOP is very responsive to ordinary voters, while 25 percent of Democrats say the same of their party.

Among all Americans, the AP-NORC poll found that just 8 percent consider the Republican Party to be very or extremely responsive to what ordinary voters think. An additional 29 percent consider the GOP moderately responsive and 62 percent say it’s only slightly or not at all responsive.


Iraqi forces push into Fallujah as IS bombings kill 24

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi forces started pushing into the city of Fallujah on Monday as a wave of bombings claimed by the Islamic State group in Baghdad and near the Iraqi capital killed at least 24 people.

The advance is part of an offensive to rout militants from Fallujah and recapture the city west of Baghdad, which has been held by the Islamic State for over two years. The offensive on Fallujah, backed by paramilitary troops and aerial support from the U.S.-led coalition, was first launched about a week ago.

The battle for the strategic city is likely to be a protracted one, with Iraqi forces advancing slowly to minimize civilian casualties. Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to be still inside the city, trapped by the fighting.

Meanwhile, the bombings by the Islamic State, which has been behind several recent deadly attacks in Baghdad and beyond, are seen as an attempt by the militants to distract the security forces’ attention from the front lines.

The deadliest of Monday’s attacks took place in the northern, Shiite-dominated Shaab neighborhood of Baghdad where a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a checkpoint next to a commercial area, killing eight civilians and three soldiers. The explosion also wounded up to 14 people, a police officer said.


Obama marks Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — President Barack Obama challenged Americans on Memorial Day to fill the silence from those who died serving their country with love and support for families of the fallen, “not just with words but with our actions.”

Obama laid a wreath Monday at the Tomb of the Unknowns to honor the nation’s war dead. Under mostly sunny skies at Arlington National Cemetery, he bowed his head for a moment, then placed his right hand over his heart as taps was played. Obama in his address commemorated the more than 1 million people in U.S. history who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Obama said the markers at Arlington belong mostly to young Americans, those who never lived to be honored as veterans for their service.

The Americans who rest here, and their families — the best of us, those from whom we asked everything — ask of us today only one thing in return: that we remember them,” Obama said.

In his remarks, Obama called for Americans to honor the families who lost loved ones and the battle buddies left behind. He said it’s important to ensure veterans get access to good health care and jobs. “We have to do better,” he said. “We have to be there not only when we need them, but when they need us.”


Physicist Stephen Hawking baffled by Donald Trump’s rise

LONDON (AP) — Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking may have a good grasp of the workings of the universe, but he says he can’t understand Donald Trump’s popularity.

Hawking tells ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” show Tuesday that he has no explanation for the success of the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee.

“He is a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator,” Hawking says in prerecorded comments to be broadcast when the show airs at 6 a.m. London time (0500 GMT, 1 a.m. EDT) Tuesday.

Hawking , who speaks through a computer system operated with his cheek, also made a plea for British voters to choose to remain in the European Union in the June 23 referendum.

He said it is important not only for economic and security research but also to further scientific research.


Cincinnati Zoo director defends killing gorilla to save boy

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Zoo’s director on Monday defended the decision to kill a gorilla to protect a 4-year-old boy who entered its exhibit, noting it’s easy to second-guess after the child was recovered safely.

The male western lowland gorilla named Harambe was killed Saturday by a special zoo response team that feared for the boy’s safety. Video taken by zoo visitors showed the gorilla at times appeared to be protective of the boy but also dragged him through the shallow moat.

Director Thane Maynard said the gorilla was agitated and disoriented by the commotion during the 10 minutes after the boy fell. He said the gorilla could crush a coconut in one hand and there was no doubt that the boy’s life was in danger.

“We stand by our decision,” he said Monday, reiterating that using a tranquilizer on the 420-pound gorilla could have further threatened the boy because it wouldn’t have taken effect immediately.

Maynard said an investigation indicates the boy climbed over a 3-foot-tall railing, then walked through an area of bushes about 4 feet deep before plunging some 15 feet into the moat. The boy was treated at a hospital and released that same day.


South Korea says North Korea missile launch likely failed

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that North Korea attempted to launch an unidentified missile at about 5:20 a.m. local time but that it is presumed to have failed.

The JCS says it is further analyzing the situation, and gave no other immediate details.

The apparent launch failure comes amid tensions over recent nuclear and missile progress that has outsiders worried North Korea is closing in on its goal of a nuclear missile that can hit mainland America.

South Korea has also rejected recent North Korea overtures to talk, part of what some analysts see as an attempt to start dialogue meant to win the impoverished country aid.


Residents brace for more flooding as Texas river crests

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Residents of some rural southeast Texas counties braced for more flooding on Monday along a river that is expected to crest at a record level just two years after it had run dry in places because of drought.

National Weather Service meteorologists predicted that the Brazos river would crest at 53.5 feet by midday Tuesday in Fort Bend County, three feet above the previous record and topping a 1994 flood that caused extensive damage.

During four days of torrential rain, six people have died in floods along the Brazos, which runs from New Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico. A Brazos River Authority map shows all 11 of the reservoirs fed by the Brazos at 95 to 100 percent capacity.

A man whose body was recovered late Sunday from a retention pond in the Austin area near the Circuit of the Americas auto racing track appeared to be one of two people reported missing earlier, said Travis County sheriff’s spokeswoman Lisa Block.

There have been reports of others missing in Travis County, and crews will resume searching Tuesday, but Block said there’s no confirmation yet of additional missing people.


Chad’s ex-dictator convicted, sentenced to life for abuses

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Former Chad dictator Hissene Habre was found guilty Monday of crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and sex crimes during his rule and he was sentenced to life in prison, ending a trial more than 15 years in the making.

Victims, former prisoners and their relatives broke out into whoops of joy, hugs and tears in the courtroom when ruling was announced by the three-judge panel in the special court in Senegal.

A defiant Habre raised his fist and shouted to his supporters: “Long live independent Africa! Down with France-Africa!”

His wife wept and his backers called him a defender of Africa as the 73-year-old Habre was escorted from court.

He was convicted of being responsible for thousands of deaths and torture in prisons while in power from 1982 to 1990. A 1992 Chadian Truth Commission accused Habre’s government of systematic torture, saying 40,000 people died during his rule. It placed particular blame on his police force.


Mexican soccer player Alan Pulido overpowered kidnappers

CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico (AP) — About 24 hours after he was kidnapped, Mexican soccer star Alan Pulido found himself alone with one of his captors and saw his chance. He wrestled away the man’s pistol and his cellphone and dialed Mexico’s emergency number.

Within minutes, he was free.

An official summary report of three calls to an emergency operator obtained by The Associated Press shows the 25-year-old forward for Olympiakos in the Greek league threatened and beat his captor while on the phone, demanding to be told where they were.

The dramatic account of derring-do shows that Pulido — listed at 5-foot-9 (176 centimeters) and about 150 pounds (68 kilograms) — was the main actor in his own liberation, a contrast with initial official accounts of a rescue by police.

On a first call, with the kidnapper overpowered, Pulido peered out of a window and described the white two-story house with two cars, grey and red, parked in front.


Tropical Depression Bonnie dissipates after heavy rains

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Tropical Depression Bonnie and its heavy rains dissipated over South Carolina on Monday, as a wet Memorial Day holiday weekend comes to an end in the area.

The depression fell apart early in the day about 45 miles north of Charleston, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm was expected to continue as an area of low pressure, moving northeast into North Carolina and sporadically spreading heavy rain, especially during the daylight hours, forecasters said.

The main concern throughout the holiday weekend has been heavy rains and strong surf more than wind.

Bonnie dropped about 8 inches of rain in southern South Carolina on Sunday, closing the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 about 20 miles north of the Georgia state line for about 16 hours. The highway finally reopened around 1 a.m. Monday, and troopers reported the 10-mile backups caused by the detour had been cleared.

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