AP News in Brief at 6:04 p.m. EDT

Sanders goes on offensive defending credibility after report

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tried to do damage control on her credibility Friday, insisting that she hadn't intentionally misled the American public about FBI Director James Comey's firing despite telling the special counsel that her claim that "countless" agents had lost confidence in him was not founded on anything.

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Sanders, who told special counsel Robert Mueller that her comment during a White House press briefing in May 2017 had been a "slip of the tongue" made in the "heat of the moment," claimed in a series of television interviews that the sentiment behind her words — that many rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey and contacted the White House to say so — remained true.

"If you look at what I said, I said the 'slip of the tongue' was in using the word 'countless,' but there were a number of FBI, both former and current, that agreed with the president's decision, and they've continued to speak out and say that and send notice to the White House of that agreement with the president's decision," she said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"I said that it was in the heat of the moment, meaning it wasn't a scripted thing," she added on "CBS This Morning." ''But the big takeaway here is that the sentiment is 100% accurate."

Sanders is among scores of current and former White House officials who were interviewed by Mueller's team during the nearly two-year investigation that examined whether Trump's campaign co-ordinated with Russia during the 2016 election and whether the president tried to interfere with the inquiry.

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Fake news? Mueller isn't buying it

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump and his team love to deride unfavourable stories as "fake news," but it's clear from Robert Mueller's report that the special counsel isn't buying it.

While there are a few exceptions, Mueller's investigation repeatedly supports news reporting that was done on the Russia probe over the last two years and details several instances where the president and his team sought to mislead the public.

"The media looks a lot stronger today than it did before the release of this report," Kyle Pope, editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, said Friday.

Trump's supporters believe that Mueller's determination that there was not enough evidence to show that the president or his team worked with the Russians to influence the 2016 election delegitimizes the attention given to the story.

Fox News Channel's Laura Ingraham message to the news media: "You owe us an apology."

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Parents who starved and shackled children sentenced to life

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — The eldest son and daughter of a couple who starved and shackled 12 of their children spoke publicly forthe first time Friday, alternately condemning and forgiving their parents before a judge sentenced the pair to up to life in prison.

Since being freed from their prison-like home more than a year ago, the two adult children of David and Louise Turpin described how they had gained control of lives and, despite receiving little education at home, were now enrolled in college and learning simple things, including how to ride a bike, swim and prepare a meal. They are still thin from years of malnutrition.

"I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up," said the oldest son, now 27. "Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that have happened, such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten. But that is the past and this is now. I love my parents and have forgiven them for a lot of the things that they did to us."

The hearing put an end to a shocking case that had gone unnoticed until a 17-year-old girl escaped from the home in January 2018 and called 911. Investigators discovered a house of horrors hidden behind a veneer of suburban normalcy.

The children — ages 2 to 29 — had been chained to beds, forced to live in squalor, fed only once a day, allowed to shower only once a year and deprived of toys and games. They slept during the day and were active a few hours at night.

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Hurricane Michael gets an upgrade to rare Category 5 status

MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Michael, which devastated a swath of the Florida Panhandle last fall, has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm, only the fourth to make recorded landfall in the United States and the first since 1992.

The announcement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday came as no surprise to those still struggling to recover from the storm's destruction.

"My thought is simply that most of us thought we were dealing with a (Category) 5 anyway," said Al Cathey, mayor of Mexico Beach, which bore the brunt of the storm when it hit.

National Hurricane Center scientists conducted a detailed post-storm analysis for Hurricane Michael, which made landfall near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base on Oct. 10, 2018. They've determined that its estimated intensity at landfall was 160 mph (257 kph), a 5 mph (8 kph) increase over the operational estimate used last fall, NOAA said in a news release. That puts Michael just barely over the 157 mph (252 kph) threshold for a category 5 hurricane.

Just 36 hours before hitting Florida's coast, Michael was making its way through the Gulf of Mexico as a 90 mph (145 kph) Category 1 storm.

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Family detention space goes unused as Trump warns of crisis

HOUSTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has warned that Central American families are staging an "invasion" at the U.S.-Mexico border. He has threatened to take migrants to Democratic strongholds to punish political opponents. And his administration regularly complains about having to "catch and release" migrants.

At the same time, his administration has stopped using one of three family detention centres to hold parents and children and left almost 2,000 beds unused at the other two. It says it does not have the resources to transport migrants to the centres.

Immigrant advocates accuse the administration of closing off family detention to further the perception of a crisis.

The Karnes County Residential Center in Texas used to hold up to 800 parents and children at a time, who would usually be detained before an initial screening to judge whether they qualified for asylum.

But ICE last month started to release families until they were all gone from Karnes. Advocates who work there say ICE is now restricting legal access to the roughly 400 adult women being detained there.

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Anger followed Notre Dame grief for yellow vest protesters

PARIS (AP) — For many yellow vest protesters, the stinging sadness that came with the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral has quickly given way to boiling anger.

Some of the activists, whose violent protests against inequality have been shaking up France for months, said they cried in front of their TV sets as they watched the Gothic architectural masterpiece being consumed by flames Monday night.

Despite their struggles to make ends meet, some even made small donations for the restoration of the iconic building.

But they also felt unheard when French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation to speak about the fire, instead of laying out his response to the social crisis that has fueled their protests since last November.

And they felt even more outraged when, in just a few hours, billionaires pledged hundreds of millions of dollars (euros) to help restore the damaged cathedral while their demands remain unsatisfied in their longstanding fight with the French government.

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'Coffee club' loved early fellowship; then attacker hit

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — Camaraderie was so important for the "coffee club" at RJR Maintenance and Management that the four unofficial members often arrived at work early just to enjoy one another's company, mugs in hand, before other employees arrived and the workday began.

But that friendly calm was shattered around 7:30 a.m. on April 1, when a person armed with a gun and a knife entered the company's office building in Mandan, North Dakota, through the one unlocked door. Within 13 minutes, those four friends became the victims of a horrific deadly attack.

Jackie Fakler's memories of arriving at the building that morning are bleak. She had planned to drive to work with her husband, Robert — they co-owned the business — but a last-minute decision sent him on ahead.

"I knew Robert was in there. I wasn't sure what happened," Fakler said. "I knew they were doing CPR on him. I did not know about the other three victims at the time. And then it was panic, doing a head count with all the employees — who was there, and who wasn't."

Fakler said at first she thought her husband had suffered cardiac arrest.

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Northern Ireland police release video in hunt for killer

LONDON (AP) — Police in Northern Ireland searched for multiple suspects Friday after the fatal shooting of a journalist during rioting in Londonderry and sought help from the public to get "a killer off the streets" and into custody.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee was shot and killed, probably by a stray bullet, during overnight rioting in the city's Creggan neighbourhood. It said the New IRA dissident group was most likely responsible.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said a gunman fired a number of shots at police during the unrest that began Thursday evening.

"We believe this to be a terrorist act," he said.

Police on Friday night released closed-circuit TV footage showing the man suspected of firing the shots that killed McKee.

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Once-counterculture 420 marijuana holiday goes mainstream

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Potheads have for decades celebrated their love of marijuana on April 20, but the once counter-culture celebration that was all about getting stoned now is so mainstream Corporate America is starting to embrace it.

No, Hallmark doesn't yet have a card to mark "420." But many other businesses inside and outside the multibillion-dollar cannabis industry are using April 20, or 4/20, to roll out marketing and social media messaging aimed at connecting with consumers driving the booming market.

On Saturday, Lyft is offering a $4.20 credit on a single ride in Colorado and in select cities in the U.S. and Canada. Carl's Jr. is using a Denver restaurant to market a hamburger infused with CBD, a non-intoxicating molecule found in cannabis that many believe is beneficial to their health.

On 420 last year, Totino's, a maker of frozen pizza snacks, tweeted an image of a microwave and an oven with the message: "To be blunt, pizza rolls are better when baked."

"I think brands that associate themselves with cannabis kind of get that contact high. In other words, they're just considered to be cooler by association," said Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University. "As pot becomes more legal, more discussed, more interesting to people, more widely used, then 420 becomes more mainstream as well."

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Two-wave US flu season is now the longest in a decade

NEW YORK (AP) — Three months ago, this flu season was shaping up to be short and mild in the U.S. But a surprising second viral wave has made it the longest in 10 years.

This flu season has been officially going for 21 weeks, according to reports collected through last week and released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That makes it among the longest seen since the government started tracking flu season duration more than 20 years ago.

Some experts likened the unusual double waves to having two different flu seasons compressed, back-to-back, into one.

"I don't remember a season like this," said Dr. Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan researcher who had been studying respiratory illnesses for more than 50 years.

The previous longest recent flu season was 20 weeks, which occurred in 2014-2015.

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