Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 a.m. EDT

April 14, 2017 - 5:30 am


Arkansas death penalty foes hope for big Good Friday rally

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Outrage is spreading on social media over Arkansas' unprecedented plan to put seven inmates to death before the end of the month. But protests have been more muted within the conservative Southern state where capital punishment is still favored by a majority of residents.

A few dozen people regularly have kept vigil outside Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson's mansion for weeks, holding signs that say "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and "End the Death Penalty." The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty hopes to draw hundreds of participants to a Good Friday rally at the state Capitol to protest the executions scheduled to start Monday — three nights of double executions, followed by a single one. A judge last week halted a planned eighth execution.


Lawyer: Dragged passenger 'poster child' for airline abuses

CHICAGO (AP) — A lawyer for a man who suffered a concussion and lost two teeth when he was dragged off a United Express flight hopes the 69-year-old becomes "a poster child" for the mistreatment passengers suffer at the hands of the airline industry.

Attorney Thomas Demetrio indicated Thursday Dr. David Dao will sue United and the city of Chicago, which employs the officers who pulled Dao off Sunday's Louisville-bound flight.

In widely shared cellphone video, Dao is dragged down the aisle on his back, his face bloody.

Demetrio said the video showed an extraordinary instance of something that happens too routinely: Airlines overbooking flights then bumping paying customers.

He says it exposed a culture in which airlines have "bullied" passengers.

United has apologized and says it won't happen again.


Pence to open Asian trip amid tensions with North Korea

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence is opening his trip to the Asia-Pacific region amid increasing tensions in North Korea over the regime's nuclear and missile programs.

Pence is set to arrive Sunday in South Korea as President Donald Trump vows that Kim Jong Un's government is a "problem" that will be "taken care of."

The vice president's 10-day trip comes as North Korea celebrates the 105th anniversary of the birth of national founder Kim Il Sung, which falls on Saturday. It's North Korea's most important holiday and a large-scale military parade is expected.

Tensions have been on the rise along the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks over concerns about North Korean aggression.


Rescuers pluck passengers from stuck roller coaster

BALTIMORE (AP) — An amusement park roller coaster featuring a "cobra roll," ''sidewinder loop," and "countless swift reversals" stalled Thursday evening outside of Washington, D.C., leaving 24 riders stuck 100 feet (30 meters) up in the air.

Prince George's County Fire/EMS spokesman Mark Brady said on his Twitter account that the riders came to a standstill about 5:30 p.m. at Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland.

The Berwyn Heights volunteer fire department said in a tweet that the cars of Joker's Jinx were 100 feet (30 meters) off the ground. Helicopter video from WJLA-TV showed six cars.

TV video showed firefighters in a rescue bucket talking with the passengers, none of whom appeared to be in distress, Brady said.

Brady said all 24 of the riders were safely brought to the ground by 9:20 p.m.


Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck file divorce petitions

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck are formally ending their marriage with divorce petitions that seek joint custody of their three children.

The actors both filed petitions in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The filings were made without attorneys and are virtually identical. Neither lists a date of separation.

The couple announced they were separating in June 2015 after 10 years of marriage.

At the time, they said they were committed to co-parenting their three children, who range from 5 to 11, and would not comment further on their breakup.

Affleck announced last month that he had recently completed treatment for alcohol addiction.

The actors met while making 2003's "Daredevil," in which they both played superheroes.

The filing was first reported by celebrity website TMZ.


The Latest: Russia: Syria probe must involve many nations

BEIRUT (AP) — A senior Russian diplomat says Moscow believes that an international probe into last week's chemical attack in Syria should include experts from Brazil, India, Iran and other nations.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov insisted Friday that inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons should visit both the Syrian air base, which the U.S. said had served as a platform for the attack, and the area of the attack as soon as possible.

The U.S. has blamed the Syrian government for launching the attack that killed more than 80, while Russia has claimed that toxic agents were released from a rebel chemical arsenal hit by Syrian warplanes.

Russia vetoed a Western draft U.N. resolution Wednesday saying it failed to mention the need to inspect the area of the attack.


Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney dies at 84

Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, one of the NFL's most influential and popular executives, has died. He was 84.

Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said Rooney died Thursday. No further details were immediately available.

Rooney took over operation of the team in the 1960s from his father, Art, who founded the franchise. From there, Dan Rooney oversaw NFL championships for a team that had never even played in an NFL title game.

He was a powerful force within the league. He helped develop the Rooney Rule under which NFL teams are required to interview minority candidates for coaching and front-office positions. He was a key figure in labor negotiations and league expansion.

He made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000 and also served as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2009-2012.


For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


Insurers say Trump must do more to stabilize 'Obamacare'

WASHINGTON (AP) — "Obamacare" is proving more of a challenge than the Trump administration bargained for.

With the "repeal and replace" effort at an impasse on Capitol Hill, the administration on Thursday released fixes to stabilize the Affordable Care Act's shaky insurance markets for next year. But the insurance industry quickly said the changes don't go far enough.

While calling the administration action a step in the right direction, the industry is looking for a guarantee that the government will also keep paying billions in "cost-sharing" subsidies that help consumers with high deductibles. President Donald Trump says he hasn't made up his mind on that.

Although Republicans contend that the Affordable Care Act is beyond repair, the administration is trying to keep the existing system going temporarily as it pursues a total remake.


The Latest: S. Korea condemns comments by North's official

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — South Korea's Foreign Ministry has criticized comments by North Korea's vice foreign minister, who told The Associated Press that the North is capable of conducting another nuclear test at anytime and ready to "go to war" if the U.S. provokes it.

The ministry said Friday that Han Song Ryol's remarks reveal the "true colors of North Korea's government that is bellicose and a breaker of regulations."

It says North Korea will face strong punishment it will find hard to withstand if it makes a significant provocation, such as another nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

The ministry says South Korea is in close discussions with others including China, North Korea's only major ally, on ways to respond should the North take such actions.


US says countries must punish UN troops for sexual abuse

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley is urging all countries that send troops to U.N. peacekeeping mission to hold soldiers accountable for sexual abuse and exploitation, an appeal that came after she cited an Associated Press investigation into a child sex ring in Haiti involving Sri Lankan peacekeepers.

Haley also warned that "countries that refuse to hold their soldiers accountable must recognize that this either stops or their troops will go home and their financial compensation will end."

Former U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon recommended that U.N. peacekeepers accused of sexual abuse and exploitation be court martialed in countries where the alleged incidents took place. He said the U.N. would withhold payments to peacekeepers facing credible allegations.

Haley spoke after the U.N. voted to end the peacekeeping mission in Haiti in mid-October.

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