Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment at 10:20 p.m. EDT

April 10, 2017 - 10:22 pm

TILLERSON-SYRIA

US seeks support on Syria, but big questions remain

LUCCA, Italy (AP) — The United States struggled Monday to explain a Syria strategy that has yet to clarify key questions: Whether President Bashar Assad must go, how displaced Syrians will be protected and when America will feel compelled to take action.

Successive attempts by top Trump administration officials to articulate the plan have only furthered the appearance of a policy still evolving, even after the U.S. broke with precedent last week by attacking Assad's forces. In the absence of answers, other countries seem to be moving ahead on their own terms.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, after a meeting in Italy with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, floated the possibility of new sanctions on both the Syrian and Russian militaries — a step the U.S. hadn't yet proposed publicly. In an unusual announcement for a foreign government to make, Johnson also said the U.S. could launch more cruise missiles into Syria like the ones President Donald Trump ordered to punish Assad for using chemical weapons.

The Trump administration is seeking support from abroad. But attempts by U.S. officials to articulate the plan have only furthered the appearance of a policy still evolving. That's even after the U.S. broke with precedent last week by attacking Assad's forces. In the absence of answers, other countries seem to be moving ahead on their own.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, after a meeting in Italy with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, floated the possibility of new sanctions on both the Syrian and Russian militaries.

UNITED STATES-SYRIA-MILITARY

Official: Russia knew in advance of Syrian chemical attack

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior U.S. official says the United States has concluded that Russia knew in advance of Syria's chemical weapons attack last week.

The official says a Russian-operated drone flew over a hospital in Syria as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment.

Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons.

Until Monday, U.S. officials had said they weren't sure if the drone was operated by Russia or Syria. The senior official said it still wasn't clear who was flying the jet that bombed the hospital.

The official said the presence of the drone couldn't have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment.

The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly on intelligence matters and demanded anonymity.

SCHOOL SHOOTING-SAN BERNARDINO-THE LATEST

The Latest: Girl recounts seeing friend, teacher get shot

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — A 9-year-old girl who was in the San Bernardino elementary school classroom where a gunman opened fire says the man "shot everywhere," hitting her friend and her teacher.

The girl, Marissa Perez, and her mother, Elizabeth Barajas, cried and hugged as they reunited several hours after Monday's shooting.

Marissa was one of 15 students in the special-education classroom at North Park Elementary School when Cedric Anderson killed the teacher, his wife. One student standing behind Karen Smith died and another was injured. Anderson then killed himself.

Marissa, who had a small amount of blood on her sweatshirt as she talked to The Associated Press, says she hid under the table as soon as she saw the gunman.

She says the man just walked in and started shooting. She pointed to her stomach when asked where her friend got shot.

SUPREME COURT-GORSUCH-THE LATEST

The Latest: With Gorsuch, high court takes conservative tilt

WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Neil Gorsuch is taking his place in history as the newest addition on the bench of the Supreme Court.

With the swearing-in of Gorsuch, the court returns to a narrow conservative majority and President Donald Trump scores a much-needed political victor.

The swearing-in ceremony Monday morning in the Rose Garden of the White House came nearly 14 months after the seat was left vacant with the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Justice Anthony Kennedy administered the oath to Gorsuch, his former law clerk. A smiling Trump stood behind his nominee.

The White House ceremony was the second of two oaths, the first conducted privately in the Justices' Conference Room by Chief Justice John Roberts.

UNITED-PASSENGER REMOVED-THE LATEST

The Latest: United CEO defends employees in plane incident

CHICAGO (AP) — The CEO of United Airlines' parent company is supporting the way his employees handled an incident with a passenger who did not want to go after being asked to leave a plane on Sunday night at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

In a letter to employees Monday evening, Oscar Munoz said he was "upset to see and hear about what happened." He added, however, that the man dragged off the plane had ignored requests by crew members to leave and became "disruptive and belligerent," making it necessary to call airport police.

"Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this," Munoz told employees. "While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right."

Munoz said that the airline might learn from the experience, and it was continuing to look into the incident.

ARKANSAS EXECUTIONS-THE LATEST

The Latest: Arkansas board rejects inmate's clemency bid

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Parole Board has recommended the governor move forward with plans to execute one of seven inmates facing lethal injection later this month.

The board on Monday voted 7-0 that the clemency request by Jack Harold Jones Jr. was without merit. The ultimate decision on whether to spare Jones' life rests with Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Jones is one of seven inmates scheduled to die this month. His execution is set for April 24.

Jones requested clemency, but declined to appear before the board for his hearing Friday. In a handwritten letter read by his attorney, Jones said he would decline clemency if granted by the governor.

Jones was convicted of killing bookkeeper Mary Phillips and trying to kill her daughter, Lacy, during a 1995 robbery at an accounting office.

CHARLESTON CHURCH SHOOTING-THE LATEST

The Latest: Charleston church killer gets life in state case

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof has been given nine life sentences for the 2015 massacre at Emanuel AME Church in exchange for his guilty plea in state court.

The plea entered Monday by the self-avowed white supremacist marks the end of his court cases and signals his departure for the federal prison system, where he'll await execution.

The deal with state prosecutors spared his victims and their families the burden of a second trial.

The 23-year-old Roof was sentenced to death earlier this year on 33 federal crimes. He was unapologetic during that trial as he listened to survivors and relatives describe the hail of bullets that began when parishioners closed their eyes to pray during a June 2015 Bible study at the historically black Emanuel AME Church.

ARKANSAS EXECUTIONS-JUDGE

Judge to consider Arkansas' plan to execute 7 in 11 days

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas is preparing to execute seven death row inmates in 11 days because it wants to carry out the sentences before its supply of an execution drug expires May 1.

Judge Kristine Baker, who was appointed to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas by President Barack Obama, will consider this week the legality of Arkansas' aggressive plan this week. Since joining the court in 2012, she has made key rulings on abortion and gay marriage, but she hasn't handled a death penalty case of this magnitude.

Baker must rule whether the state's plan to execute seven prisoners from April 17 through April 27 would violate their rights to meaningful counsel and access to the courts.

GUN SHOP-THEFT-WISCONSIN-THE LATEST

The Latest: Gun theft suspect with Trump manifesto at large

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) — Law enforcement officials searching for a Wisconsin man suspected of stealing a large number of firearms and threatening an attack are getting more help from federal investigators as they follow hundreds of leads in search of the man.

The Rock County Sheriff's Office said Monday "additional federal resources have been brought in" from around the country to search for Joseph Jakubowski but provided few details. Authorities suspect the 32-year-old of stealing handguns and rifles from a Janesville store April 4 and making threats to schools and public officials.

The sheriff's office says Jakubowski expressed anti-religious views in the 161-page manifesto that he apparently sent to the White House.

TOYOTA-KENTUCKY

Toyota announces $1.33 billion investment in Kentucky plant

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Toyota says it's investing $1.3 billion to retool its sprawling Georgetown, Kentucky, factory where its flagship Camry sedans are built.

The automaker said Monday that no new factory jobs are being added, but the investment will sustain the existing 8,200 jobs at Toyota's largest plant, where nearly one-fourth of all Toyota vehicles produced in North America are made.

Toyota says the upgrades amount to its biggest single investment ever at an existing plant in the United States.

The factory-wide upgrade in Kentucky comes as Toyota is preparing for production of the revamped 2018 Camry featuring a new exterior design, an upgraded interior and a new engine.

The Kentucky plant also assembles the Avalon and the Lexus ES 350.

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