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    A German court on Wednesday sentenced a Swedish man to life in prison for fatally shooting a woman in Frankfurt 26 years ago. Prosecutors had reopened the case as part of a nationwide review of suspected far-right killings. A Frankfurt regional court said it found John Ausonius guilty of murdering restaurant employee Blanka Zmigrod in 1992. Ausonius allegedly believed the victim, who was Jewish, had stolen his electronic diary. German prosecutors reopened the case in 2014 amid concern that authorities hadn't pursued suspected far-right killings vigorously enough in the past. Ausonius became known as 'Laserman' for the gunsight he used in a series of shootings of immigrants in Sweden during the 1990s, in which one person was killed and several others were injured. Sweden, where Ausonius was serving a life sentence, agreed to extradite him to Germany in 2016. Frankfurt court spokesman Werner Groeschel said that if the verdict isn't overturned by a higher court, prosecutors will decide whether to allow the 64-year-old to serve his sentence in Sweden.
  • The Latest on the deadly Florida school shooting (all times local): 11:30 a.m. A number of students at a Florida high school walked out of their classrooms to remember the 17 students killed last week at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The students at Western High School in Davie, Florida, were also protesting gun violence during the walkout Wednesday morning. Students carried large signs, each listing the name of a school where a shooting has taken place, along with the date of the shooting and the number of dead. Others carried signs with #NeverAgain. Students at schools across Broward and Miami-Dade counties in South Florida planned short walkouts Wednesday, the one week anniversary of the deadly shooting. Kirsten Anderson, a sophomore at Western High, told NBC6 that students will be signing a large banner, which will be taken to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High to offer support to students and teachers. ___ 10:45 a.m. Democratic Sen. Lauren Book of Broward County helped organize the busloads of students who came to the Florida Capitol to push for gun legislation after last week's deadly shooting at a high school. Book says she spent the night with the students in Tallahassee's civic center. She said many of the students were up until 5 a.m., getting only an hour or two of sleep before walking to the Capitol. She says they 'were working and writing and talking about the things that are important to them.' Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have been calling for gun safety legislation since a shooting rampage at the school killed 17 people. ___ 10:25 a.m. Students from the Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people were killed in a shooting rampage split into several groups to meet with lawmakers and other state leaders in the state's capital. One group met with Attorney General Pam Bondi behind closed doors to talk about mental health issues and later joined other students in a question and answer session with Senate President Joe Negron and Senators Rob Bradley and Bill Galvano. Some tearfully asked why civilians should be allowed to have weapons like the AR-15 used in the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Negron didn't directly answer the question, saying, 'That's an issue that we're reviewing.' The students burst into applause when Galvano said he supports raising the age to purchase assault-style weapons from 18 to 21. ___ 9:45 a.m. Students from the Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people were killed in a shooting rampage got little sleep as they prepared for a day of meeting with Florida's legislative leaders in Tallahassee. The contingent of about 100 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students traveled to the state capitol by bus from South Florida, arriving Tuesday night at Leon County High School, where they were greeting by fellow students. They spent the night at the Leon County Civic Center. Democratic State Sen. Lauren Book, who paid for the bus trip, traveled with the students and stayed with them at the civic center. She said they were up until almost 5 a.m. preparing for remarks they want to make during the meetings with lawmakers as they push to ban the assault-style rifle used to kill 17 people at the high school in suburban Fort Lauderdale. On Wednesday morning, they made the short walk to the capitol to meet with leaders, including Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The group will return home later Wednesday. ___ 6:55 a.m. The day before 17 people were gunned down at a Florida school, a co-worker says the suspect made plans to go with him to a shooting range. Brian Halem tells the Miami Herald he asked 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz for his phone number last Tuesday so they could coordinate a weekend trip to Gun World of South Florida. 'Save it as, 'Crazy Nick,'' Cruz told his new friend. Halem, a 19-year-old college freshman, worked with Cruz at the Dollar Tree in Parkland and says they bonded over enthusiasm for firearms. He describes Cruz — now charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder — as a 'walking dictionary' who 'knew guns inside and out.' In hindsight, Halem says conversations about tactics like wearing a gas mask during a firefight might have been a red flag. But Halem says he was shocked by the shootings. ___ 1:15 a.m. Students who survived the Florida school shooting are preparing to flood the Capitol pushing to ban the assault-style rifle used to kill 17 people, vowing to make changes in the November election if they can't persuade lawmakers to change laws before their legislative session ends. About 100 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students arrived at a Tallahassee high school to extended applause late Tuesday after a nearly eight-hour trip. Despite their enthusiasm and determination, the students and their supporters aren't likely to get what they really want: a ban on AR-15s and similar semi-automatic rifles. Republican lawmakers are talking more seriously about some restrictions, but not a total ban. Some restrictions could include raising the minimum age to purchase the weapon to 21 and creating a waiting period. ___ Follow the AP's complete coverage of the Florida school shooting here: https://apnews.com/tag/Floridaschoolshooting .
  • A federal advisory panel is recommending a new vaccine against hepatitis B. The vaccine called Heplisav-B (HEHP'-lih-sav BEE') was licensed in November and is the first new hepatitis B vaccine in 25 years. Hepatitis B vaccines have been in childhood shots for decades. The new vaccine is for adults. The hepatitis B virus can damage the liver and is spread through contact with blood or other bodily fluids. Cases have been rising, a trend linked to the heroin and opioid epidemic. Meanwhile, researchers found older vaccines falter in diabetics and older adults. The new vaccine uses an additive that boosts the body's immune response. It is two shots given over one month. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices endorsed the vaccine Wednesday in Atlanta. The government usually adopts its recommendations.
  • A European space probe has swung into position around Mars in preparation to analyze its atmosphere for possible signs of life. The European Space Agency said Wednesday its Trace Gas Orbiter successfully performed a delicate maneuver known as aerobraking that involved dipping into the red planet's upper atmosphere to slow the probe. The agency says the orbiter will start looking for trace gases such as methane, which can result from biological or geological activity, in April. It will also search for ice that could help future Mars landings. A NASA-made radio on board will also help relay signals from U.S. rovers on the surface back to Earth. Europe plans to land its own rover on Mars in 2021. A European test lander crashed on the surface of Mars in 2016.
  • Many students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School have turned into outspoken gun control advocates. Some of them say their stance on gun rights has changed. Others believed if they stayed silent, nothing would change. About 100 of them traveled to the state capital to talk to Florida lawmakers on Wednesday about tougher gun restrictions. During their 400-mile trip to Tallahassee, they spoke with The Associated Press. Here are some of their stories: TRUMP SUPPORTER RECONSIDERS HIS STANCE Kyle Kashuv, a 16-year-old junior, said he supported President Donald Trump in the last election and considers himself a Republican. But he said the shooting made him reconsider his position on guns, saying there needs to be stronger background checks to make sure mentally unstable people like Nikolas Cruz can't purchase weapons. 'Previously I believed that everyone under the Constitution should be allowed to have guns, but I now realize that not everyone should have guns and we should have way stricter background checks and mental evaluations. ... We need to a middle ground and have some reform,' he said. Unlike many other students, however, he still disagrees with a ban on AR-15s or any other weapon. 'What is the difference between an AR-15 and any other semi-automatic rifle? Just because it is the most popular doesn't mean it is the most lethal,' he said. 'Every single weapon is terrible when it is in the hands of someone who is mentally unstable. Guns have great usages for self-defense, so we don't have to totally rely on the government.' ___ 'IF LAWMAKERS WANT TO STAY ... THEY SHOULD HEAR US OUT' Sarah Chadwick can't vote because she is only 16 years old. But she traveled to Florida's Capitol because she wants to change the minds of Republicans who support the NRA. 'Maybe if they see the victims themselves, something will spark a change in their mind,' she said. She wants stricter gun laws, including better background and mental health checks. 'I feel like we are the voice of the upcoming generation,' she said. 'If lawmakers want to stay where they are, they should hear us out and make a change.' ___ #NEVERAGAIN Bailey Feuerman said she rode the bus to Tallahassee because she never wants to see another tragedy like the one that happened at her high school. 'I hope to accomplish getting the lawmakers to understand what we're going through, so that they can put in place stricter gun laws ... so that we don't ever have to go through this again.' ___ 'THEY SCREWED WITH THE WRONG COMMUNITY' Jordan Faber wants to make the lawmakers really think about what happened, and get them to understand that if nothing changes, there will be another mass school shooting. 'There is no way this can happen again. They screwed with the wrong community. This is a smart, intelligent, beautiful community,' he said. ___ BE LOUD, BE PROUD Rebecca Schneid said if the students would have stayed in Parkland, no one would ever hear them. 'We have to go to them and show them how loud our voices can get. Because if we don't, how are they ever going to listen to us?' she said. ___ Follow the AP's complete coverage of the Florida school shooting here: https://apnews.com/tag/Floridaschoolshooting ___ This story has corrected the spelling of Schneid's last name.
  • Massachusetts transportation officials are under fire for authorizing a no-bid contract for a tiny, $100,000 bathroom inside a state office building. WCVB-TV reports that the 115-square-foot bathroom and adjoining kitchenette was installed last year at the State Transportation Building inside the new state Transportation Department and MBTA board room. The project was fast-tracked and not put out to bid, which is usually done for state projects to make contractors compete for the work and keep costs down. Greg Sullivan, a former state inspector general who's now research director at the Pioneer Institute, called the cost 'outrageous.' The bathroom is about 40 steps from a spacious public bathroom on the same floor. A spokesman for the Transportation Department says board members are sometimes followed to that bathroom by reporters during public meetings.
  • Witnesses told investigators that a garbage truck struck by a train carrying Republican congressmen through rural Virginia entered the railroad crossing after the safety gates had come down, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report released Wednesday. The report on the Jan. 31 crash said the probable cause of the accident has not yet been determined. But it offered some new details about the crash, which killed a trash collector and injured several other people, including another trash collector and the truck's driver. The Amtrak train was carrying dozens of Republican lawmakers to an annual strategy retreat in West Virginia. The NTSB report said data taken from a track image camera on the train showed that as the highway-railroad grade crossing came into view, the gates were down and the trash truck was on the crossing. Preliminary information from the train's onboard recorder indicates that the train was traveling about 61 mph (98 kph) when the engineer applied emergency braking. The train struck the left rear of the truck, causing the truck to rotate counterclockwise and then collide with a railroad signal bungalow next to the tracks. The speed limit at the crossing is 60 miles per hour. The two trash collectors were ejected from the truck, the report said. One of them, 28-year-old Christopher Foley, was killed, while the other passenger remains hospitalized. The truck's driver, Dana Naylor Jr., received minor injuries. The men are employees of Time Disposal LLC, which is based in Ruckersville, Virginia. The front axle of the lead locomotive on the train derailed, but the locomotive remained upright. Three Amtrak crew members and three train passengers received minor injuries. Investigator from the NTSB, Albemarle County Police Department and the FBI documented the crash scene and the physical characteristics of the crossing, the train, and the refuse truck. The track and operational characteristics of the crossing signals were also examined, the report said. Naylor has declined repeated requests to discuss on how the crash happened. Several people who live near the railroad crossing told The Associated Press that the safety gates, which are designed to come down to warn drivers of approaching trains, were known to frequently malfunction, sometimes staying down for extended periods of time even when no trains were coming. The NTSB report said investigators 'continue to examine issues related to the highway-railroad grade crossing.' The report said investigators are also coordinating additional passenger and witness interviews and are continuing to gather information related to rail operations, motor carrier operations, and driver and train crew experience. A spokesman for the NTSB said that as of Tuesday, investigators had not yet interviewed Naylor. 'All aspects of the crash remain under investigation while the NTSB determines the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes,' the report states. ___ Follow Denise Lavoie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/deniselavoie_ap
  • New Jersey's new Democratic governor signed legislation Wednesday setting aside about $7.5 million for family-planning and women's health, reversing course on former Republican Gov. Chris Christie's handling of the issue. It's the first bill that Gov. Phil Murphy has signed into law since succeeding Christie, who vetoed the spending throughout his two terms. 'Today we are saying in a clear voice that New Jersey will once again stand for the right things,' Murphy said. 'New Jersey will once again stand up for women's health.' Murphy signed the legislation alongside legislative and Planned Parenthood leaders, including Cecile Richards, the outgoing president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She said Murphy's signature represents the start of a 'new era.' Christie opposed the legislation, saying that it circumvented the regular budget process. The funding for providers like Planned Parenthood is a small fraction of the state's nearly $35 billion budget. Democrats who control the Legislature said funding is needed for preventive care, including breast and cervical cancer screenings and praised the bill's passage. Murphy said six family planning centers closed over the years since the funding dried up. Republicans questioned the expenditure because Planned Parenthood also makes political expenditures through its political action group. The legislation bars funding from being used for abortions. Planned Parenthood offers a range of health services at clinics nationwide, including birth control, cancer screenings and tests for sexually transmitted diseases. It is also a leading provider of abortions, a role that means it is in regular conflict with conservatives. That was on display Wednesday, with Murphy pointing out that his victory showed that 'elections have consequences.' Richards, who has said she's stepping down but remaining through the midterms, said the group will 'play offense' on the question of getting funding for family planning. The eight-year wait to restore the funding was a pointed theme. Murphy thanked a host of lawmakers for passing the legislation and focused at one point on sponsor Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who introduced the bill each year of Christie's term. 'If there's a motto that we can ascribe to you I think it is this: If at first you don't succeed try, try, try and try, try, try and try and try again,' he said. Under the bill, public funds don't go directly to Planned Parenthood but instead go to the state Department of Health for Family Planning Services, which offers grants. Republican Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi said she would have voted for the bill but changed her mind and abstained after the state Planned Parenthood declined to 'open its books' so lawmakers could see how it spends its money. Murphy said on the day he took office that signing the legislation was a top priority, and Wednesday's bill signing was held at the ornate art deco War Memorial in Trenton, contrasting with the office-like media room in which Murphy has signed executive orders. He also signed a second measure aimed at providing Medicaid coverage for contraception to low-income residents. The governor also announced that he's loosening a state restriction by New Jersey's Medicaid provider on long-acting, reversible contraception, such as intrauterine devices. ___ Follow Catalini at https://twitter.com/mikecatalini
  • Two French soldiers died in Mali when their armored vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said a soldier and an officer were killed Wednesday morning in the attack. They were part of an operation to fight 'terrorism' in the West African country. No further details, including the location in Mali of the deadly incident, were available. France's 4,000-strong counterterrorism force in Mali, part of Operation Barkhane, is meant to fight extremist groups in the African region of the Sahel, which also includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger. Macron praised the 'courage' of the French soldiers and their determination to continue their mission, 'which allows to strike blows against the enemy.
  • Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature said Wednesday they will soon ask the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the imposition of new congressional district maps , two days after they were announced by the state's highest court. House Speaker Mike Turzai said that later Wednesday he and his Senate counterpart will request an emergency stay of what he called a 'completely partisan, ultimate gerrymander.' The challenge adds uncertainty as candidates are preparing to circulate nominating petitions to get their names on the May primary ballot. Turzai said a separate action in federal court in Harrisburg is also possible. The Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court in January threw out a 2011 congressional district map that had been drafted by Republicans, saying it violated the state constitution's guarantee of free and equal elections. It will be the third time in four months that Turzai and Scarnati have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put a halt to litigation over the 2011 map they took leading roles in producing. In November, Justice Samuel Alito turned down a request for a stay of a federal lawsuit, a case that Turzai and Scarnati won in January. On Feb. 5, Alito rejected a request from Turzai and Scarnati to halt a Jan. 22 order from the state Supreme Court that gave the Republican leaders two weeks to propose a map that would be supported by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, and until last week to suggest a new map to the court. With the new map expected to improve Democrats' chances at erasing the GOP's U.S. House majority, President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged Republicans to challenge the new map all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. 'Your Original was correct! Don't let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!' Trump tweeted. The five Democrats on the Supreme Court sided with Democratic voters who challenged the map, although one of them, Justice Max Baer, has pointedly opposed the compressed timetable. Republicans who controlled the Legislature and the governor's office after the 2010 census crafted the now-invalidated map to help elect Republicans. They succeeded in that aim: Republicans won 13 of 18 seats in three straight elections even though Pennsylvania's registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans. Independent analysts said the court-ordered map should improve Democratic prospects while still favoring Republicans as a whole. An analysis conducted through PlanScore.org concluded the court's redrawn map eliminates 'much of the partisan skew' favoring Republicans on the old GOP-drawn map, but not all of it. The Department of State has revised this year's election calendar — for congressional races only — to provide more time. Congressional candidates have from Feb. 27 to March 20 to collect and submit enough signatures to get on the ballot, and the new maps have candidates and would-be candidates scrambling to decide whether to jump in. Five incumbents are not seeking another term and a sixth has resigned, an unusually large number of openings. The new map is not in effect for the March 13 special congressional election in southwestern Pennsylvania, a vacancy created by the resignation of Republican Rep. Tim Murphy in October. Murphy, a vocal opponent of abortion, quit after his hometown newspaper reported he had suggested a mistress get an abortion when they thought she might be pregnant. The state Supreme Court's map puts both candidates in that race into districts with a Pittsburgh-area incumbent. That means Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone will likely be circulating petitions for the primary in one district at the same time they are running in the special election for Murphy's seat under the 2011 map.