AP Top News at 11:40 p.m. EDT

March 14, 2018 - 12:00 am

Students around US stage huge walkout against gun violence

They bowed their heads in honor of the dead. They carried signs with messages like "Never again" and "Am I next?" They railed against the National Rifle Association and the politicians who support it. And over and over, they repeated the message: Enough is enough. In a wave of protests one historian called the largest of its kind in American history, tens of thousands of students walked out of their classrooms Wednesday to demand action on gun violence and school safety. The demonstrations extended from Maine to Hawaii as students joined the youth-led surge of activism set off by the Feb.

Democrat clings to lead in Pa. House race; GOP eyes recount

CANONSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republicans eyed a recount and a lawsuit over perceived irregularities in a closely watched U.S. House race in Pennsylvania where Democrat Conor Lamb clung to a slender lead Wednesday in the longtime GOP stronghold friendly to President Donald Trump. With the last batch of absentee ballots counted, Lamb, a 33-year-old former prosecutor and first-time candidate, saw his edge over Republican Rick Saccone shrink slightly, to 627 votes out of more than 224,000 cast, according to unofficial results. The four counties in the Pittsburgh-area district reported they had about 375 uncounted provisional, military and overseas ballots. They have seven days to count the provisional ballots, and the deadline to receive military and overseas ballots is next Tuesday.

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. 'ENOUGH IS ENOUGH' Tens of thousands of young people from Maine to Alaska walk out of school to demand action on gun violence in one of the biggest student protests since the Vietnam era. 2. REPUBLICANS HIT WITH REALITY CHECK The message from the Pennsylvania special congressional election to the GOP is simple: Almost no one is safe. 3. WHICH ACCOLADE ELUDED STEPHEN HAWKING The physicist, who died early Wednesday, had one of the most brilliant minds in science, but he never got a Nobel Prize because no one has yet proven his ideas.

Docs link Trump Org lawyer to effort to silence porn star

WASHINGTON (AP) — New documents show a second lawyer with ties to President Donald Trump was involved in legal efforts to keep adult film star Stormy Daniels from talking about her alleged affair with Trump. Attorney Jill A. Martin signed the documents, which were filed Feb. 22 as part of confidential arbitration proceedings. She's referenced in the filing as counsel for "EC LLC," though the address she lists is that of Trump's Los Angeles golf club. EC appears to be a reference to a company formed by Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to facilitate a $130,000 payment to silence Daniels in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Toys R Us is planning to liquidate its US operations

NEW YORK (AP) — Toys R Us is headed toward shuttering its U.S. operations, jeopardizing the jobs of some 30,000 employees while spelling the end for a chain known to generations of children and parents for its sprawling stores and Geoffrey the giraffe mascot. The closing of the company's 740 U.S. stores over the coming months will finalize the downfall of the chain that succumbed to heavy debt and relentless trends that undercut its business, from online shopping to mobile games. CEO David Brandon told employees Wednesday the company's plan is to liquidate all of its U.S. stores, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press.

As Mueller seeks interview, Trump left without easy options

WASHINGTON (AP) — The special counsel's office wants to talk to Donald Trump about the firings of James Comey and Michael Flynn, but as the president's lawyers negotiate the terms and scope of a possible interview, they're left with no easy options. Balking at an interview, even a narrowly tailored one focused on obstruction of justice questions, risks perpetuating the perception that Trump has something to hide. But agreeing to discuss those matters with Robert Mueller's team is risky for Trump, whose statements can be unpredictable and inconsistent. Weeks of dialogue between the sides have yet to resolve a question of extraordinary consequence: Will Trump, like many of his aides before him, get grilled by Mueller's prosecutors?

After UK slaps penalties on Russia, attention turns to Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — After the brazen poisoning of a former spy, British Prime Minister Theresa May quickly pinned the blame on Russia. So did U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in what ultimately became one of his last public statements before being fired. But at the White House, President Donald Trump's initial response was more circumspect, with his spokeswoman pointedly avoiding naming Russia as the likely perpetrator of the attack. Tougher rhetoric came only on Wednesday evening, when White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders put out a statement saying the U.S. "stands in solidarity with its closest ally" and shares Britain's assessment that "Russia is responsible for the reckless nerve agent attack."

Trump picks camera-proven Kudlow as top economic aide

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has chosen Larry Kudlow to be his top economic aide, elevating the influence of a longtime fixture on the CNBC business news network who previously served in the Reagan administration and has emerged as a leading evangelist for tax cuts and a smaller government. Kudlow told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has accepted the offer, saying the U.S. economy is poised to take off after Trump signed $1.5 trillion worth of tax cuts into law. "The economy is starting to roar and we're going to get more of that," he said. Kudlow will join an administration in the middle of a tumultuous remodeling as a wave of White House staffers and top officials have departed in recent weeks.

Yes, canned soup may be fueling North Korea's air force

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Is North Korea's air force selling canned soup and taxi rides to upgrade its runways and airstrips? Amid the toughest sanctions ever against the North and its nuclear weapons program, there are some compelling reasons to believe the answer may well be yes. The story of how — and why — offers some insight into how North Korea's economy functions under Kim Jong Un. There's a fine line between North Korea's military and its private sector. To augment the already huge share of the country's limited national resources earmarked for defense, North Korean military units control everything from restaurants to farms to the flagship airline.

Florida school shooting suspect remains silent in court

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — While students across the nation walked out of school to protest gun violence, the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 people and wounding more in the Florida school shooting sat in court silently, his head bowed. Nikolas Cruz, shackled and wearing a red jail jumpsuit, sat motionless in the jury box and said nothing during a brief hearing Wednesday. Because he refused to announce his plea, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf on each of the 34 counts he faces — mainly to keep the legal process moving. His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill, reiterated that Cruz would plead guilty if prosecutors waived the death penalty, which they refused to do.

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