AP news in brief coffee

Christchurch gun shop sold rifles online to accused shooter

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — A Christchurch gun shop on Monday acknowledged selling guns online to the 28-year-old white supremacist accused of killing 50 people in mosque shootings that have upturned New Zealand's reputation as among the world's most tolerant and safe nations.

At a news conference, Gun City owner David Tipple said the store sold four guns and ammunition to Brenton Harrison Tarrant through a "police-verified online mail order process." The store "detected nothing extraordinary," about the buyer, he said.

Separately, New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern said gun law reforms would be announced within 10 days and an inquiry conducted into intelligence and security services who failed to detect the risk from the attacker or his plans. There have been concerns intelligence agencies have been overly focused on the Muslim community in detecting and preventing security risks.

The police commissioner Mike Bush said police are certain Tarrant was the only gunman but aren't ruling out that he had support.

"I would like to state that we believe absolutely there was only one attacker responsible for this," he told a news conference. "That doesn't mean there weren't possibly other people in support and that continues to form a very, very important part of our investigation."

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Stories of the victims of the New Zealand mosque attack

Fifty people were killed in a terror attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday. Some information on the victims who were lost:

HUSNA AHMED

Farid Ahmed refuses to turn his back on his adopted home, despite losing his 45-year-old wife, Husna Ahmed, in the Al Noor mosque attack. They had split up to go to the bathroom when it happened.

The gunman livestreamed the massacre on the internet, and Ahmed later saw a video of his wife being shot. A police officer confirmed she died.

Despite the horror, Ahmed — originally from Bangladesh — still considers New Zealand a great country.

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Warren embraces underdog role as she faces 2020 challenges

BOSTON (AP) — Elizabeth Warren has spent much of the last decade as a leader of the Democratic Party's liberal wing.

But three and a half months into her presidential campaign, the Massachusetts senator is facing tough questions about fundraising and electability, along with lingering skepticism about her past claim to Native American identity. The longtime liberal superstar is embracing an uncomfortable role in the crowded 2020 contest: the underdog.

"This is the race I want to run," Warren insisted in an interview with The Associated Press.

With the 69-year-old Democrat in the middle of the pack in early polling, her Boston-based senior advisers are implementing an aggressive — if risky — strategy that calls on Warren to forgo traditional high-dollar fundraising events and devote the saved time to interactions with rank-and-file voters. Advisers say she'll also focus on seizing opportunities to stake bold new policy positions in real time, as she did recently by calling for the breakup of big technology companies like Amazon, which allow her to shape the debate and showcase her policy bona fides.

Her success or failure will help determine the direction of the Democratic Party in 2020 and, more specifically, whether Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders can maintain his early place at the head of the presidential primary pack. While Warren has sometimes sought to distinguish herself from Sanders, describing herself as a capitalist while Sanders runs as a democratic socialist, the New England senators appeal to the same progressive, populist wing of their party that is an increasingly dominant force in the age of President Donald Trump.

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R. Kelly case spotlights abuse of girls in the era of #MeToo

NEW YORK (AP) — The girls, a dozen of them 15 to 18 years old, file into a conference room in a downtown Brooklyn office building, taking seats in chairs carefully arranged in a circle. On the floor in front of them is a makeshift altar of comforting objects: A string of Christmas lights, plastic toys and dolls, oils and crystals, a glitter-filled wand.

They arrive at the end of a school day in their usual hoodies and jeans, their smiles and easy banter masking the painful experiences that bring them together: This group is called "Sisters in Strength," and its members are survivors of sexual violence, or their allies and supporters.

There's a high school senior who describes being raped at 14, by a family friend she considered a big brother. She endured years of anger and isolation before seeking help. Writing poems is part of her healing process. Soon after the assault, she scrawled in a notebook: "Did you not hear my screams? The screams I vocalized at the top of my lungs, burying my voice ten feet under."

Another young woman, now 18, seeks peace through daily meditation. She too was assaulted by someone she knew, just days after her 18th birthday, but says she never reported it because she feared she wouldn't be believed. "Most people will say, 'What were you wearing or what were you doing? Why were you out so late?' And all those things," says this survivor. She found refuge in two trusted teachers, who sent her to "Sisters in Strength," run by a nonprofit called Girls for Gender Equity.

"I'm still in my way of healing," she says, "and I think it's better for me to focus on myself and move on."

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Flash floods, earthquake in Indonesia kill over 80

JAYAPURA, Indonesia (AP) — The number of people killed after torrential downpours triggered flash floods and mudslides that tore through mountainside villages in Indonesia's easternmost province has climbed to 79, with dozens of others missing, officials said Monday.

On Sunday, the disaster-prone country was hit by an earthquake, triggering a landslide that hit a popular waterfall on the tourist island of Lombok, killing at least three people and damaging hundreds of homes.

The worst-hit area from the flooding was Sentani subdistrict, where tons of mud, rocks and trees from a landslide on a mountain early Sunday rolled down to a river that burst its banks, sweeping away residents, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference in the capital, Jakarta.

Floodwaters and landslides destroyed roads and bridges in several areas of Papua province's Jayapura district following days of torrential rains, hampering rescue efforts, Nugroho said.

"The combination of natural factors and human activities has caused this fatal disaster," he said.

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More evacuations in Midwest as floodwaters head downstream

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Residents in parts of southwestern Iowa were forced out of their homes Sunday as a torrent of Missouri River water flowed over and through levees, putting them in a situation similar to hundreds of people in neighboring Nebraska who have been displaced by the late-winter flood.

Heavy rainfall and snowmelt have led to dangerously high water in creeks and rivers across several Midwestern states, with the Missouri River hitting record-high levels in many areas. At least two deaths were blamed on flooding, and two other men have been missing for days.

While river depths were starting to level off in parts of Nebraska on Sunday, the water is so high in many places that serious flooding is expected to remain for several days. And downstream communities in Kansas and Missouri were bracing for likely flooding.

In Iowa, the Missouri River reached 30.2 feet (9.2 meters) Sunday in Fremont County in the state's far southwestern corner, 2 feet (0.6 meter) above the record set in 2011. People in the towns of Bartlett and Thurman were being evacuated as levees were breached and overtopped.

County Emergency Management Director Mike Crecelius said it wasn't just the amount of the water, it was the swiftness of the current that created a danger.

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Kansas hopes to resurrect proof-of-citizenship voting law

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal appeals court will hear arguments Monday over the constitutionality of a struck-down Kansas statute that had required people to provide documents proving their U.S. citizenship before they could register to vote.

In a case with national implications for voting rights, Kansas faces an uphill battle to resurrect the law once championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach , who led President Donald Trump's now-defunct voter fraud commission.

A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked Kobach in 2016 from fully enforcing the law, calling it "a mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right." The issue is back before the appellate court after U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson struck it down last year and made permanent the earlier injunction.

"Kansas was the tip of the spear of an effort to make it harder for people to register under the guise of protecting elections from a nonexistent epidemic of noncitizen voting. Those efforts haven't stopped as this case illustrates, and I think this case will be closely watched," said Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project.

The legal fight has drawn national attention as Republicans pursue voter ID laws they say are aimed at people who are unlawfully in the country. Critics contend such efforts amount to voter suppression that target Democratic-leaning minorities and college students who may not have such documentation.

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Be Kind, Please Rewind: Oregon Blockbuster is last on Earth

BEND, Ore. (AP) — There are challenges that come with running the last Blockbuster Video on the planet.

The computer system must be rebooted using floppy disks that only the general manager — a solid member of Gen X — knows how to use. The dot-matrix printer broke, so employees write out membership cards by hand. And the store's business transactions are backed up on a reel-to-reel tape that can't be replaced because Radio Shack went out of business.

Yet none of that has kept this humble franchise in an Oregon strip mall from thriving as the advent of on-demand movie streaming laid waste all around it. When a Blockbuster in Australia shuts its doors for the last time on March 31, the Bend store will be the only one left on Earth.

"It's pure stubbornness, for one. We didn't want to give in," said general manager Sandi Harding, who has worked at the franchise for 15 years and receives a lot of the credit for keeping it alive well past its expiration date. "We did everything we could to cut costs and keep ourselves relevant."

The store was once one of five Blockbusters owned by the same couple, Ken and Debbie Tisher, in three central Oregon towns. But by last year, the Bend franchise was the last local Blockbuster standing.

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Stopping Zion is the key to outdueling Duke in March Madness

It's going to take more than a busted sneaker to stop Zion Williamson.

The way he's going, he might not be done until he's cutting down nets at the Final Four.

Impressed by how Duke is playing with college basketball's best player in the lineup, the NCAA selection committee made the Blue Devils the overall top seed for March Madness, perfectly in step with the oddsmakers, who had already established Duke as the 9-4 favorite to take it all.

The other 67 teams in the NCAA Tournament now have three weeks to figure out how to slow the 6-foot-7, 285-pound freshman who, many times this season, has appeared unstoppable.

"I think there's a verve when he's in there," Duke associate head coach John Scheyer said. "I think it's both ends. He's a guy who eliminates easy baskets and he can get you some easy baskets."

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Outside political groups not always what they appear

WASHINGTON (AP) — As ominous music plays in the background, the narrator of a radio ad echoes objections from drugmakers by warning that a Trump administration proposal to apply international pricing to certain Medicare drugs would be a nightmare for seniors.

The one-minute spot is the handiwork of the Alliance for Patient Access, a nonprofit group that gives off a consumer-friendly vibe yet is bankrolled by the powerful pharmaceutical industry. It's also closely aligned with a Washington lobbying and public relations firm, Woodberry Associates, whose president, Brian Kennedy, is the nonprofit's executive director.

As Congress and the Trump administration aim to lower prescription drug costs, outside groups like the Alliance for Patient Access are seeking to sway the outcome. But not all of these organizations are clear about who they actually represent. Their names can obscure the source of the message and they're cagey about where they get their funding.

Yet even a small degree of separation can be valuable for pharmaceutical companies at a time when the industry faces stiff political headwinds. Drug prices may provide a rare bipartisan issue on which Congress and the White House could collaborate on legislation ahead of the 2020 elections. In a prelude of sorts, the Senate Finance Committee last month grilled drug company executives over the cost of their products.

Anger is bubbling up from their constituents. A February poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found nearly one in four Americans taking prescription drugs have difficultly affording their medications. Although majorities of the public trust pharmaceutical companies to develop new and effective drugs, only 25 percent trust them to price their products fairly — down from 41 percent in 2008.

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