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

Associated Press • AP • Updated: May 16, 2018 at 8:04 pm • Published: May 15, 2018

Liberal tilt in some primaries a sign of Democratic fervor

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Primary election season is still young, but the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is already celebrating.

Democratic voters have chosen decidedly liberal candidates in several closely watched congressional primary elections, a sign that the left is driving much of Democrats' enthusiasm and may be winning the tug of war with moderates over the direction of the party.

Primary voters' embrace of liberal candidates in Nebraska and Pennsylvania on Tuesday underscored the trend and demonstrated the risks.

In Omaha, Democrat Kara Eastman edged out moderate Brad Ashford by casting herself as a progressive in Nebraska's lone urban district, supporting single-payer, government-run health insurance and a ban on assault weapons.

But some Democrats argue candidates like Eastman are pulling the party too far to the left for a district that, except for Ashford's lone term two years ago, has been held for more than 20 years by Republicans in the heart of a conservative state. Eastman, whose victory surprised top Democratic leaders, argues otherwise.

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Unapologetic Trump Jr.: Not troubled that I met with Russian

WASHINGTON (AP) — Questioned intently by a Senate committee, President Donald Trump's son struck a firmly unapologetic tone, deflected many queries and said he didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in hopes of election-season dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to transcripts released Wednesday.

Asked if he was troubled by the idea that the meeting in June 2016 was part of a Russian government effort to help his father in the presidential race, Donald Trump Jr. said he didn't give it much thought.

"I don't know that it alarmed me, but I like I said, I don't know and I don't know that I was all that focused on it at the time," Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in the closed-door interview last year.

The committee released more than 1,800 pages of transcripts of interviews with Trump Jr. and others who attended the New York meeting at which they expected to receive compromising information about Trump's Democratic opponent. The panel also released more than 700 pages of exhibits including numerous emails, heavily redacted phone logs and court depositions.

The Trump Tower meeting is a key point of interest in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible election collusion between Trump aides and the Kremlin.

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Trump disclosure of Cohen payment raises new legal questions

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump revealed in his financial disclosure Wednesday that he reimbursed personal attorney Michael Cohen as much as $250,000 for unspecified "expenses," with no mention of a $130,000 payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about a sexual tryst she said they had.

The head of the nation's ethics office questioned why Trump didn't include this in his previous year's sworn disclosure and passed along his concerns to federal prosecutors.

"I am providing both reports to you because you may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing," David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Apol wrote that he considers Trump's payment to Cohen to be a repayment on a loan and that it was required to be included in Trump's June 2017 disclosure. Ethics experts says that if that payment was knowingly and willfully left out, Trump could be in violation of federal ethics laws.

"This is a big deal and unprecedented. No president has been previously subject to any referral by (Office of Government Ethics) to DOJ as a result of having failed to report an item on their public financial disclosure report," said Virginia Canter, a former ethics official in the Clinton and Obama White Houses who is now with the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

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10 Things to Know for Thursday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:

1. WHAT TRUMP'S FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE REVEALS

The documents show the president reimbursed attorney Michal Cohen as much as $250,000 — with no mention of a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

2. WHY NKOREA THREATENS TO SCRAP US SUMMIT

Pyongyang says it has no interest in a "one-sided" affair meant to pressure the North to abandon its nuclear weapons.

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AP analysis shows how Bill Gates influences education policy

SEATTLE (AP) — Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates saw an opportunity with a new federal education law that has widespread repercussions for American classrooms.

His nonprofit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given about $44 million to outside groups over the past two years to help shape new state education plans required under the 2015 law, according to an Associated Press analysis of its grants. The spending paid for research aligned with Gates' interests, led to friendly media coverage and had a role in helping write one state's new education system framework.

The grants illustrate how strategic and immersive the Microsoft founder can be in pursuit of his education reform agenda, quietly wielding national influence over how schools operate. Gates' carefully curated web of influence is often invisible but allows his foundation to drive the conversation in support of its vision on how to reshape America's struggling school systems.

Critics call it meddling by a foundation with vast wealth and resources. The Gates Foundation says it's simply helping states navigate a "tectonic" shift in responsibility for education — from the federal government to more local control.

"For 50 states with varying sets of capacities and capabilities and readiness, it was both an opportunity and also a concern that states and partners in those states needed support," said Allan Golston, president of the Gates Foundation's U.S. work.

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Shorter drug treatment OK for many breast cancer patients

Many women with a common and aggressive form of breast cancer that is treated with Herceptin can get by with six months of the drug instead of the usual 12, greatly reducing the risk of heart damage it sometimes can cause, a study suggests.

It's good news, but it comes nearly two decades after the drug first went on the market and many patients have suffered that side effect.

The study was done in the United Kingdom and funded by UK government grants. Results were released Wednesday by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and will be presented at the group's meeting next month.

Herceptin transformed care of a dreaded disease when it was approved in 1998 for women with advanced breast cancers whose growth is aided by a faulty HER2 gene, as 15 percent to 20 percent of cases are. It was later approved for treatment of those cancers in earlier stages, too, based on studies that had tested it in patients for 12 months. That guess, that the drug should be taken for a year, became the standard of care.

But the drug can hurt the heart's ability to pump. That often eases if treatment is stopped but the damage can be permanent and lead to heart failure.

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Senate backs effort to restore 'net neutrality' rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats, joined by three Republicans, pushed through a measure Wednesday intended to revive Obama-era internet rules that ensured equal treatment for all web traffic, though opposition in the House and the White House seems insurmountable.

Republicans on the short end of the 52-47 vote described the effort to reinstate "net neutrality" rules as "political theater" because the GOP-controlled House is not expected to take up the issue and the Senate's margin could not overcome a presidential veto.

Democrats, however, were undeterred, saying their push would energize young voters who are tech savvy and value unfettered access to the internet. "This is a defining vote. The most important vote we're going to have in this generation on the internet," said Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who sponsored the measure.

At issue are rules that the Federal Communications Commission repealed in December that prevented providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from interfering with internet traffic and favoring their own sites and apps. Critics, including the Trump administration, said overregulation was stifling innovation, and they backed the FCC's move, which is still set to take effect next month.

Markey said net neutrality has worked for the smallest voices and the largest, but he said internet service providers are trying to change the rules to benefit their interests.

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'Thank the Party!' China tries to brainwash Muslims in camps

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) — Hour upon hour, day upon day, Omir Bekali and other detainees in far western China's new indoctrination camps had to disavow their Islamic beliefs, criticize themselves and their loved ones and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party.

When Bekali, a Kazakh Muslim, refused to follow orders each day, he was forced to stand at a wall for five hours at a time. A week later, he was sent to solitary confinement, where he was deprived of food for 24 hours. After 20 days in the heavily guarded camp, he wanted to kill himself.

"The psychological pressure is enormous, when you have to criticize yourself, denounce your thinking — your own ethnic group," said Bekali, who broke down in tears as he described the camp. "I still think about it every night, until the sun rises. I can't sleep. The thoughts are with me all the time."

Since last spring, Chinese authorities in the heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang have ensnared tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of Muslim Chinese — and even foreign citizens — in mass internment camps. This detention campaign has swept across Xinjiang, a territory half the area of India, leading to what a U.S. commission on China last month said is "the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today."

Chinese officials have largely avoided comment on the camps, but some are quoted in state media as saying that ideological changes are needed to fight separatism and Islamic extremism. Radical Muslim Uighurs have killed hundreds in recent years, and China considers the region a threat to peace in a country where the majority is Han Chinese.

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DA: Children in California home were strangled, waterboarded

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (AP) — Prosecutors allege in court documents filed Wednesday that the 10 children rescued from a Northern California home were punched, kicked, strangled, shot with a BB gun and subjected to waterboarding by their father and their mother did nothing to stop it.

The details of the alleged abuse were included in a motion to increase the bail of Ina Rogers, 31, who was charged with nine counts of felony child abuse Wednesday in Solano Superior Court. Rogers did not enter a plea, but has previously denied allegations her children were harmed. She also faces 1 count of child neglect involving all 10 children.

"On a continuous basis the children were getting punched, strangled, bitten, shot with weapons such as crossbows and bb guns, hit with weapons such as sticks and bats, subjected to 'waterboarding' and having scalding water poured on them," Solano County Deputy District Attorney Veronica Juarez wrote in the bail request.

Since announcing Monday that they had removed the children from the home where they say torture was carried out "for sadistic purposes," prosecutors have refused to discuss further details of the allegations against Rogers and her husband Jonathan Allen, 29. He has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of felony child abuse and seven counts of felony torture. He is being held on $5.2 million bail.

Records show the 10 children removed from the house March 31 are 6 months to 12 years old, but the documents do not specify which child suffered which injuries.

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Michigan State agrees to pay $500M to settle Nassar claims

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to settle claims from more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar in the worst sex-abuse case in sports history, officials announced Wednesday.

The deal surpasses the $100 million-plus paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse, though the Nassar agreement involves far more victims.

Michigan State was accused of ignoring or dismissing complaints about Nassar, some as far back as the 1990s. The school had insisted that no one covered up assaults, although Nassar's boss was later charged with failing to properly supervise him and committing his own sexual misconduct.

"We are truly sorry to all the survivors and their families for what they have been through, and we admire the courage it has taken to tell their stories," said Brian Breslin, chairman of Michigan State's governing board. "We recognize the need for change on our campus and in our community around sexual assault awareness and prevention."

It is not clear how much each victim will receive, although the money will not be divided equally. It is also unclear where the money will come from. University spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said school leaders will now work on a way to pay the bill.

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