AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

 Rescuers search for people out of contact in Taiwan after strong earthquake HUALIEN, Taiwan (AP) — Rescuers searched for dozens of people out of contact Thursday a day after Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in a quarter century damaged buildings, caused multiple rockslides and killed nine people. In the eastern coastal city of Hualien near the epicenter, [[{“value”:”

Rescuers search for people out of contact in Taiwan after strong earthquake

HUALIEN, Taiwan (AP) — Rescuers searched for dozens of people out of contact Thursday a day after Taiwan’s strongest earthquake in a quarter century damaged buildings, caused multiple rockslides and killed nine people.

In the eastern coastal city of Hualien near the epicenter, workers used an excavator to put construction materials around the base of a damaged building to stabilize it and prevent a collapse. Mayor Hsu Chen-wei previously said 48 residential buildings were damaged. Some of the damaged buildings tilted at precarious angles with their ground floors crushed.

More than 1,000 people were injured in the quake that struck Wednesday morning. Of the nine dead, at least four were struck inside Taroko National Park, a tourist attraction famous for its scenes of canyons and cliffs in Hualien County, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the island’s capital Taipei.

Nearly 150 people were either still trapped or out of contact Thursday, the National Fire Agency said.

About two dozen tourists and some others were stranded in the park. The health and welfare ministry said 64 others were workers at a rock quarry. Six workers from another quarry were airlifted from the area where access was cut off because roads were damaged by falling rocks.

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Bodies of 6 foreign aid workers slain in Israeli strikes are transported out of Gaza

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — The bodies of six foreign aid workers killed in Israeli airstrikes began the journey back to their home countries Wednesday as more questions swirled over Israel’s explanation that a “misidentification” led to the attack on their convoy.

The deadly strikes renewed criticism of Israel’s conduct in the nearly 6-month-old war with Hamas and highlighted the risks that the military’s bombardment poses to aid workers as they try to deliver food to the besieged enclave. The U.N. says nearly a third of the Gaza population is on the brink of starvation.

The three British citizens, a Polish citizen, an Australian and a Canadian American dual citizen worked for World Central Kitchen, an international charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés. Their Palestinian driver was also killed, and his remains were handed over to his family for burial in Gaza.

The other bodies were driven into Egypt through the Rafah crossing, according to the Palestinian Crossings Authority, which oversees border crossings.

The seven were distributing food that had been brought into Gaza through a newly established maritime corridor when Israeli airstrikes targeted their three vehicles late Monday, killing everyone inside.

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US braces for retaliation after attack on Iran consulate — even as it says it wasn’t involved

WASHINGTON (AP) — Shortly after an airstrike widely attributed to Israel destroyed an Iranian consulate building in Syria, the United States had an urgent message for Iran: We had nothing to do with it.

But that may not be enough for the U.S. to avoid retaliation targeting its forces in the region. A top U.S. commander warned on Wednesday of danger to American troops.

And if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent broadening of targeted strikes on adversaries around the region to include Iranian security operatives and leaders deepens regional hostilities, analysts say, it’s not clear the United States can avoid being pulled into deeper regional conflict as well.

The Biden administration insists it had no advance knowledge of the airstrike Monday. But the United States is closely tied to Israel’s military regardless. The U.S. remains Israel’s indispensable ally and unstinting supplier of weapons, responsible for some 70% of Israeli weapon imports and an estimated 15% of Israel’s defense budget. That includes providing the kind of advanced aircraft and munitions that appear to have been employed in the attack.

Israel hasn’t acknowledged a role in the airstrike, but Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Tuesday that the U.S. has assessed Israel was responsible.

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Judge rejects Donald Trump’s request to delay hush-money trial until Supreme Court rules on immunity

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge on Wednesday rejected Donald Trump’s bid to delay his April 15 hush money criminal trial until the Supreme Court rules on presidential immunity claims he raised in another of his criminal cases — spurning another of the former president’s ploys to put off the historic trial. Several more are pending.

Manhattan Judge Juan M. Merchan declared the request untimely, ruling that Trump’s lawyers had “myriad opportunities” to raise the immunity issue before they finally did so last month, well after a deadline for pretrial motions had already passed.

The timing of the defense’s March 7 filing “raises real questions about the sincerity and actual purpose of the motion,” Merchan wrote in a six-page decision.

Lawyers for Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, had asked Merchan to adjourn the New York trial indefinitely until Trump’s immunity claim in his Washington, D.C., election interference case is resolved.

Trump contends he is immune from prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office. His lawyers have not raised that as a defense in the hush-money case, but they argued that some evidence — including Trump’s social media posts about former lawyer Michael Cohen — is from his time as president and should be excluded from the trial because of his immunity protections.

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Trump’s events aren’t drawing big protests this year. Instead, Biden is facing public ire

NEW YORK (AP) — When Donald Trump first ran for the White House eight years ago, protesters filled the streets.

His inflammatory rhetoric and often dehumanizing descriptions of immigrants spurred thousands to demonstrate outside his rallies. By this time in 2016, protesters regularly interrupted his speeches, sparking clashes and foreshadowing Trump’s habit of encouraging violence against those he casts as his enemies.

“Knock the crap out of them, would you?” Trump once said as he egged on the crowd to go after protestors on their own — even promising to pay their legal bills.

No longer.

As he runs again with an agenda that is arguably more extreme than his two previous campaigns, mass protests at Trump rallies and appearances are a thing of the past. When Trump returned to New York last week for a hearing in one of his criminal cases, just a smattering of detractors turned up outside the courthouse. During a Midwestern swing Tuesday, Trump was interrupted briefly by a protest in Green Bay, but otherwise encountered minimal opposition.

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Prosecutors recommend at least 10 years in prison for parents of Michigan school shooter

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — Prosecutors in Michigan are recommending at least 10 years in prison next week for two parents who are the first in the U.S. to be held criminally responsible for a school shooting.

Jennifer Crumbley showed a “chilling lack of remorse” for her role, and James Crumbley “failed to exercise even the smallest measure of ordinary care” that could have prevented the deaths of four students at Oxford High School in 2021, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.

The Crumbleys, the parents of shooter Ethan Crumbley, were convicted of involuntary manslaughter at separate trials earlier this year. They were not accused of knowing their son’s plan. But prosecutors said they failed to lock up a gun at home and ignored his mental health.

The maximum prison stay for the crime is 15 years. But the minimum sentence set by the judge on April 9 will be critical because the Crumbleys would be eligible for parole consideration after that time. They will get credit for about 2 1/2 years spent in the Oakland County jail since their arrest.

Messages seeking comment from defense lawyers were not immediately returned Wednesday.

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Family and friends recall dedication of World Central Kitchen aid workers killed in Gaza

Israeli airstrikes that killed seven aid workers in Gaza reverberated around the world, as friends and relatives mourned the losses of those who were delivering food to besieged Palestinians with the charity World Central Kitchen.

Killed were three British nationals, an Australian, a Polish national, an American-Canadian dual citizen and a Palestinian. Some had traveled the world, participating in aid efforts in the aftermath of wars, earthquakes and wildfires.

Here’s some information on those killed.

Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha, 25, had worked for World Central Kitchen as a driver and translator since the beginning of the year, relatives said.

His brothers described him as a dedicated young man eager to help fellow Palestinians.

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Palestinians want April vote on UN membership despite US saying peace with Israel must come first

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Palestinians want the Security Council to vote later this month on their revived request for full membership in the United Nations, despite the United States reiterating Wednesday that Israel and the Palestinians must first negotiate a peace agreement.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said 140 countries recognize the state of Palestine, and “we believe it is high time now for our state to become a full member at the United Nations.”

The Palestinians are making a fresh bid for U.N. membership as the war between Israel and Hamas that began Oct. 7 nears its sixth month, putting the unresolved decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the spotlight after years on the back burner.

During the Cold War between the former Soviet Union and the United States, Mansour said, countries were blocked from joining the U.N., but they all eventually became members, including North Korea. The U.S. doesn’t recognize North Korea but didn’t block its admission, he said, and asked why conditions should be placed on Palestinian membership.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered the Palestinian Authority’s application to become the 194th member of the United Nations to then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 23, 2011, before addressing world leaders at the General Assembly.

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In rare call, Russian defense minister warns French counterpart against sending troops to Ukraine

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s defense minister warned his French counterpart against deploying troops to Ukraine in a rare phone call Wednesday and noted that Moscow is ready to take part in talks to end the conflict.

Sergei Shoigu told French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu that if Paris follows up on its statements about the possibility of sending a French military contingent to Ukraine, “it will create problems for France itself,” according to a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry. It didn’t elaborate.

The conversation followed French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments in February, in which he said that the possibility of Western troops being sent to Ukraine could not be ruled out.

The call marked the first such contact between Russian and French defense ministers since October 2022.

Shoigu noted Moscow’s “readiness for dialogue on Ukraine,” emphasizing that a planned round of peace talks in Geneva would be “senseless” without Russia’s involvement. He added that possible future negotiations could be based on a draft document, which was discussed during Russia-Ukraine talks in Istanbul in March 2022.

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AP PHOTOS: 10 years after her killing, Anja Niedringhaus’ images speak for her

If she had lived, there would have been so many more photos.

Anja could have gone to Kabul for the chaotic U.S. withdrawal, and to war-shattered Ukraine after the Russian invasion. She would have been at the Olympics, and at center court at Wimbledon. She would have been at all the places where compassionate photographers with trained eyes make it their business to be.

But on April 4, 2014, outside a heavily guarded government compound in eastern Afghanistan, Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus was killed by an Afghan police officer as she sat in her car. She was 48 years old. Her colleague Kathy Gannon, who was sitting beside her, was badly wounded in the attack.

Anja had a convulsive laugh, a thick German accent and an irrepressible decency that elicited trust from the people on the other side of her lens. She trusted them back, making photographs that captured their struggle for humanity, even in some of the world’s most difficult places.

The three of us became friends in Sarajevo in the early 1990s, when ethnic fighting was savaging the former Yugoslavia and a generation of young photojournalists came into their own. Anja was at the European Pressphoto Agency. We were at the AP.

The Associated Press

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