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    The Latest on Ethiopian Plane Crash (all times local): 4:05 p.m. The Transportation Department says it's creating a special panel of experts to review Federal Aviation Administration procedures for approving new planes including the Boeing jet involved in two deadly crashes. The department said Monday the committee will be led by retired Air Force Gen. Darren McDew and Lee Moak, former president of the Air Line Pilots Association. Other members haven't been named yet. Boeing and the FAA are already the subject of investigations by the Justice Department, the Transportation Department's inspector general, and congressional committees. The FAA certified the Boeing 737 Max jet in 2017 and let it keep flying after a deadly crash in October in Indonesia that investigators believe may be related to a new flight-control system that pushed the plane's nose down repeatedly. A second crash occurred this month in Ethiopia, leading regulators around the world to ground all Max jets. Preliminary satellite data indicates that both doomed planes made erratic climbs and descents before crashing shortly after takeoff. It's likely to be months before investigators in Indonesia and Ethiopia issue conclusions on what caused the accidents.
  • The Latest on Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to France (all times local): 8:30 p.m. French President Emmanuel Macron says China's signature in Paris of a deal to buy 300 planes from Airbus is an 'excellent signal' showing the strength and reliability of the relations between the two countries. In a joint statement with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Elysee presidential palace, Macron said the discussions aimed at seeking a 'strong Euro-Chinese partnership, based on clear, strict and ambitious rules.' He added that France and China share views on the importance of the fight against climate change. Macron also said he raised 'concerns' about the respect of fundamental human rights in China during 'frank exchanges.' Xi praised 'friendly and fruitful discussions' with Macron. He said China 'attaches great importance' to its relations with Europe. ___ 7:25 p.m. China has signed a deal to buy 300 aircraft from European plane maker Airbus during Chinese leader's Xi Jinping state visit to France. A statement by the French Presidency says China Aviation Supplies Holding Company ordered 290 Airbus A320 and 10 Airbus A350. Further details and financial sums were not specified. The global deal is estimated to be worth around $34 billion at list prices, although buyers often secure discounts. Fifteen business deals on energy, the food industry, transport and other sectors were signed in the presence of Xi and French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday at the presidential palace in Paris, in addition to other bilateral agreements. ___ 12:30 p.m. Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a state visit in France where he is expected to sign a series of bilateral and economic deals on energy, the food industry, transport and other sectors. Xi will be welcomed Monday by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris, before a meeting and a state dinner at the Elysee presidential palace. The Chinese leader, who previously visited Italy and Monaco, arrived in France on Sunday evening where he had a private dinner with Macron in the resort town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, on the French Riviera. He will also meet in Paris on Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Europe wants to increase trade with China but on European terms, especially amid U.S.-China trade tensions.
  • Michael Avenatti, the attorney best known for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump, was arrested Monday on charges he tried to extort millions of dollars from Nike and embezzled a client's money to pay his own expenses. Avenatti, 48, was charged with extortion and bank and wire fraud in separate cases in New York and California. He was arrested in New York. The U.S. attorney in New York, Geoffrey S. Berman, said Avenatti engaged in 'a shakedown.' 'When lawyers use their law licenses as weapons, as a guise to extort payments for themselves, they are no longer acting as attorneys. They are acting as criminals,' Berman said. The allegations 'paint an ugly picture of lawless conduct and greed,' said Nick Hanna, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles. Avenatti describes himself on Twitter as an attorney and advocate, but the accusations describe 'a corrupt lawyer who instead fights for his own selfish interests.' Prosecutors in New York said their investigation began only last week and was complete in days. The New York case accuses Avenatti of threatening to use his ability to get publicity to harm Nike. In the California case, he allegedly misused a client's money to pay his debts and those of his coffee business and law firm. Federal prosecutors said he also defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans. Avenatti allegedly threatened to hold a news conference last week on the eve of Nike's quarterly earnings call and the start of the NCAA tournament to announce allegations of misconduct by Nike employees. The attorney and a co-conspirator demanded to be paid $15 million to $25 million and an additional $1.5 million for an Avenatti client to remain silent, the complaint said. Shortly before the charges came to light, Avenatti tweeted that he planned to hold another news conference regarding Nike on Tuesday morning. Less than 45 minutes later, prosecutors announced the extortion case. Nike officials told investigators that Avenatti claimed to know of rules violations by an amateur basketball team sponsored by Nike. Executives immediately reported the threats to federal authorities. The company 'firmly believes in ethical and fair play, both in business and sports, and will continue to assist the prosecutors,' Nike said in a statement. The co-conspirator, who was not identified, is also an attorney licensed to practice in California who represents celebrities and public figures, court papers said. The Avenatti client is a coach of an amateur athletic union men's basketball program in California, according to the papers. The AAU program coached by the client was sponsored by Nike for $72,000 annually, the complaint said. Avenatti was in custody and did not respond to an email requesting comment or phone calls and text messages from The Associated Press. He rose to national prominence by representing Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in a lawsuit to break a confidentiality agreement to speak about her alleged affair with Trump. He also made headlines in recent weeks for representing two women who accused R&B star R. Kelly of sexual abuse, and he briefly explored the idea of a presidential bid last year. Daniels said she was 'saddened but not shocked' by the arrest. She issued a statement Monday on Twitter saying she fired Avenatti a month ago after 'discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly.' She said she would not elaborate.
  • The Latest on Apple's streaming TV event (all times local): 2 p.m. Apple is playing catch-up with Amazon and Netflix with its new streaming video offering. Some analysts say it's not clear yet whether Apple will be able to get ahead. Colin Gillis of Chatham Road Partners says Apple's TV Plus service is 'not going to be a Netflix killer.' He noted that Apple lacks 'polished offerings' in cloud services, voice search and artificial intelligence, and video streaming won't save the company if the iPhone market declines. Paul Verna of eMarketer, meanwhile, says Apple left many details out of the initial announcement, making it hard to compare with rivals. While Apple brought on some big names for original content, Martin Garner of CCS Insights says so far the service lacks 'the full range and diversity of content available through Netflix, Amazon and others.' That will limit its appeal. Apple says its new subscription TV service will be available this fall. The company isn't saying yet how much the service will cost or when exactly it will launch. ___ 12:15 p.m. Apple has saved its biggest star for last. Oprah Winfrey took the stage to give a few details on her plans for Apple's newly unveiled streaming service. Winfrey says she has two documentaries in the works for Apple TV Plus and is planning 'the most stimulating book club on the planet.' The TV personality says that will include streamed conversations with authors. Winfrey received a standing ovation during her appearance at Apple's announcement event Monday in Cupertino, California. She told the audience, 'There has never been a moment quite like this one. We have this unique opportunity to rise to our best selves in how we use, and choose to use, both our technology and our humanity.' Winfrey followed a lineup of Hollywood stars that will be a part of Apple TV Plus, including Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston and J.J. Abrams. She said, 'I'm joining forces with Apple. They're in a billion pockets, y'all.' ___ 11:50 a.m. Apple says its new subscription TV service will be available this fall. But the company isn't saying yet how much the service will cost or when exactly it will launch. Apple announced the service, Apple TV Plus, at an event Monday in Cupertino, California, where it also showed off upcoming subscriptions for games and news. The streaming service will be free of ads and will be available across Apple devices, some smart TVs and the Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV streaming devices. That's unusual, as Apple has historically limited its availability on streaming devices to its own Apple TV. Apple brought out several celebrities during its announcement, including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Steven Spielberg. They are all involved in making exclusive shows for the new service. The new service will put Apple in direct competition with big streaming services including Netflix and Amazon Video. ___ 11:35 a.m. A stream of celebrities including Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston and 'Aquaman' star Jason Momoa are announcing new TV shows exclusive to Apple's new streaming TV service. Aniston will star with Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell in a show called 'Morning Show.' Spielberg will direct a sci-fi show called 'Amazing Stories,' inspired by stories his dad used to read as a kid. Momoa will star in a show called 'Sea' taking place in a world devastated by a virus that wiped out most of the population, leaving survivors blind. Big Bird of 'Sesame Street' also showed up to promote a new show for preschoolers. Apple's long-awaited video streaming service will be called Apple TV Plus and include original programming that CEO Tim Cook says will show 'great storytelling.' The service will compete with Netflix and Amazon Video. ___ 11:15 a.m. Apple's long-awaited video streaming service will be called Apple TV Plus and include original programming that CEO Tim Cook says will show 'great storytelling.' The service will compete with Netflix and Amazon Video. Apple is unveiling it at an event Monday at its Cupertino, California headquarters. Streaming video services have skyrocketed in popularity in the past several years. Research firm eMarketer expects 205 million people in the U.S. will watch streaming video this year. Apple is a late entrant to the streaming market, where Netflix has been dominant for more than a decade. ___ 10:55 a.m. Apple says it will launch a subscription service for games this year. Apple Arcade subscribers will get to play more than 100 games, curated by Apple. The games will be exclusive to Apple's service. Games can be downloaded and played offline — on the Apple-made iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. Notably, Apple says all games in this service will allow unlimited play and will have no in-app purchases, which are common on mobile games. Though many mobile games are given out for free, players can rack up hundreds of dollars for optional extras such as virtual weapons. Apple says the Arcade subscription will be available this fall. The company did not say how much it will cost. The Arcade subscription is part of a series of announcements Apple is making in Cupertino on Monday to emphasize paid services on its devices. Google announced its own video game streaming service last week. That service focuses more on traditional video games, though it will also allow games to be played on phones and tablets ___ 10:50 a.m. Apple is launching its own credit card, called Apple Card, that can be used anywhere Apple Pay is accepted. Apple says the card will make it easier to see what merchants charged you. It uses Apple Maps to show users where they spend their money. This is in contrast to the sometimes-confusing alphabet soup people can see on their credit card statements. Apple unveiled the card at an event Monday at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. The company is emphasizing privacy and says it won't know what you bought or where. The card will live in the wallet section of the iPhone, though customers will also get a physical card made of titanium. It will include a rewards program of 2 percent back on all transactions. Apple says the card has no late fees, annual fees or fees for going over the credit limit. It's a Mastercard issued by Goldman Sachs. ___ 10:40 a.m. Apple says its new subscription News Plus service will not track what you read. Apple says the article recommendations will be made on your device, not Apple's servers, and advertisers won't be able to track you. That sets it apart from other places people read news, such as Facebook and Google. Facebook, for instance, might target ads based on your past reading of specific publications or topics, such as gun control or the environment. Apple announced the new $10 monthly subscription at an event in Cupertino, California, on Monday. ___ 10:25 a.m. Apple will debut a subscription news app that lets users read articles from hundreds of magazines, including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and Cosmopolitan. The new service will be called Apple News Plus and will cost $10 per month. It will also have articles from some newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times. The company is announcing the service at Monday's event at its Cupertino, California, headquarters. The new subscription is a way for Apple to bring in revenue from selling digital subscriptions as sales of the iPhone decline. Apple says 5 billion articles are read on its current Apple News app each month. The news industry has struggled for years as advertising dollars shift to social media and other digital media. But some publishers are wary to participate in Apple's news service because the company is reportedly taking 50 percent of subscription revenue. ___ midnight Apple is expected to announce Monday that it's launching a video service that could compete with Netflix, Amazon and cable TV itself. It's a long-awaited attempt from the iPhone maker, several years after Netflix turned 'binge watching' into a worldwide phenomenon. The new video service is expected to have original TV and movies that reportedly cost Apple more than $1 billion — far less than Netflix and HBO spend every year. Also expected is a news subscription service. The iPhone has long been Apple's marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline. The company is pushing digital subscriptions as it searches for new profit growth.
  • The relationship between Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, which has set the global standard in aviation safety for decades, will come under unprecedented scrutiny this week after two deadly airline crashes. Both accidents involved a Boeing jet green-lighted by the U.S. regulator, which relied heavily on safety assessments made by Boeing employees. In a startling break from the past, other nations and airlines grounded the Boeing 737 Max en masse after the second fatal crash this month while the same model of plane continued to carry tens of thousands of passengers a day in the United States. This week, Congress joins the investigation into Boeing and the FAA. On Wednesday, the Senate aviation subcommittee will examine how the FAA oversees safety in the commercial aviation industry. The acting FAA chief is scheduled to testify. So is the Transportation Department's inspector general, who is conducting a separate probe of the FAA's decision to approve the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, the type of plane that crashed in Indonesia in October, and then in Ethiopia two weeks ago. The U.S. House plans to hold its own hearings and The Associated Press has reported that the Justice Department is also investigating. At the very least, it looks like Boeing and the FAA are going to be under more intense scrutiny for some time. Here are some questions that lawmakers are almost certain to ask: CAN FAA EFFECTIVELY REGULATE BOEING? For decades, the FAA has relied heavily on safety certifications performed by employees of aircraft manufacturers, whose work is overseen by the FAA. The FAA defends this delegation of work, saying it improves safety by involving more skilled professionals into the review of what companies do. Agency officials stress that the last fatal crash of a U.S. airliner took place a decade ago. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called the FAA arrangement with manufacturers 'safety on the cheap,' and said he wants to know more about the role that Boeing employees played in the FAA's decision to certify the Max. SHOULD FAA'S BUDGET BE INCREASED? The agency concedes that it doesn't have resources to keep pace with growth in the aviation industry. Outside experts say the FAA is overmatched — it can't pay enough to attract and keep people with the technical expertise to regulate such a complex industry. 'It's a money thing, and they don't have the money to do all the kinds of oversight,' said Todd Curtis, a former Boeing Co. safety engineer and creator of airsafe.com, a website that focuses on airline safety. WHAT DID THE FAA KNOW ABOUT THE FLIGHT SYSTEM? With the Max, Boeing created an automated flight-control system that has never been used before; it can direct the nose of the plane down if sensor readings indicate the plane may be about to stall, or lose aerodynamic lift from the wings. The interaction between pilots and that automated system is now at the center of the investigation into both crashes. According to published reports, high-ranking FAA officials were unaware of a Boeing's stall-protection system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. Lawmakers are likely to ask who within FAA knew about the software and whether they failed to grasp its significance. WHY DID THE FAA ACT IN GROUNDING THE PLANE? Flight safety regulators worldwide have followed the lead of the FAA for decades, but not this time. China, whose airlines have more Max jets than any other country, grounded the plane one day after the crash in Ethiopia. Others including the European Union and Canada followed quickly, citing a need for caution. That left the U.S. standing alone in allowing passengers to keep flying on the Max. President Donald Trump announced the grounding of the Boeing plane on the afternoon of March 13, three days after the crash in Ethiopia. The FAA said the planes were being parked because of 'newly refined satellite data' and evidence collected at the crash site. Satellite information showed the planes that crashed had similar flight paths — erratic rates of alternately climbing and descending almost immediately after takeoff. Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell said the agency grounded the plane as soon as it had data to support the decision. Lawmakers will want to know whether the FAA's delay exposed tens of thousands of passengers to unnecessary risk. IS PILOT TRAINING GOOD ENOUGH, ESPECIALLY AT FOREIGN AIRLINES? New airline pilots can fly sooner overseas than their American counterparts. After a 2009 crash that killed 50 people near Buffalo, New York, Congress raised the minimum experience for starting airline pilots from 250 flight hours, to 1,500 hours in many cases, and 1,000 hours for graduates of an accredited aviation school. U.S. airlines once got most of their pilots from the military. Brent Bowen, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said most now get a college degree and flight training from an aviation school, then work another couple years as a flight instructor before joining an airline. Other countries follow training standards updated in 2006 by the United Nations' aviation organization, which require far less flying time and emphasize simulator training and being part of a flight crew. 'Most of the world's airlines are using training academies where they can hire people off the street without any higher education, give them 250 hours of flight training in small aircraft, and in as little as 12 to 14 months they put them in the (co-pilot's) seat of a full-size airliner,' Bowen said.
  • The Latest on fire damage at a petrochemical storage facility that led to a partial closure of the Houston Ship Channel (all times local): 11:30 a.m. A U.S. Coast Guard official says it could be several more days before a section of the Houston Ship Channel closed amid cleanup efforts after a fire at a petrochemical storage facility is reopened. Coast Guard Capt. Kevin Oditt said Monday that officials let one ship pass through the affected area Sunday. Oditt said that ship didn't interfere with the cleanup and didn't get contaminated. Oditt says additional test runs with four more ships and barges were set to be done on Monday. Crews are cleaning up after products from storage tanks at the facility leaked into the ship channel following the March 17 fire. The tanks contained components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner. Intercontinental Terminals Company says it continues emptying the damaged tanks. ___ 9:30 a.m. Students are returning to school in an area southeast of Houston after a fire at a petrochemical storage facility prompted several days of canceled classes. Students were back in class Monday in Deer Park, Galena Park and other communities near the International Terminals Company in Deer Park. Classes were canceled because of concerns over air quality near the facility, which caught fire on March 17 and burned for several days. The fire destroyed or damaged storage tanks that contained components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner. Elevated levels of benzene were detected in the air Thursday, prompting officials to order people to remain indoors. The fire also led to the closure of part of the Houston Ship Channel. The U.S. Coast Guard says it hopes to have the channel reopened Monday.
  • Norwegian officials have opened an investigation into why a cruise ship carrying more than 1,370 people set sail along the country's often wild western coast despite storm warnings, forcing a major evacuation by helicopter. One person is in critical but stable condition in an intensive care ward, hospital officials said, adding that eight others were still hospitalized after the weekend ordeal. The Viking Sky had left the northern city of Tromsoe and was headed for Stavanger in southern Norway when it had engine problems and issued a mayday call on Saturday afternoon. The ship anchored in heavy seas to avoid being dashed on the rocks in an area known for shipwrecks. Norwegian authorities then launched a daring rescue operation despite the high winds, eventually winching 479 passengers off the ship by helicopter in an operation that went on for hours Saturday night and into Sunday morning. Dag S. Liseth of Norway's Accident Investigations Board said 'the high risk which the ship, its passengers and crew were exposed to made us decide to investigate the incident.' After about half of the ship's passengers were taken off, the captain made the decision mid-day Sunday to halt the evacuation. About 900 people were still on board when the ship limped into the port city of Molde on its own engines. Viking Ocean Cruises said Monday it had begun 'an internal investigation .... to establish a complete and thorough understanding of what happened,' and welcome the official investigations which they 'will fully support.' In the same statement, Viking Ocean Cruises chairman Torstein Hagen also said he 'would like to personally apologize for what our guests experienced.' Liseth said investigators were heading to Molde on Monday and declined to speculate why the Viking Sky captain had decided to sail to Stavanger in the first place despite the weather warning. He couldn't immediately say how long the cruise ship would remain in Molde. Yngve Skovly, of the police force in Moere and Romsdal district, where Molde sits, said there is no suspicion of a criminal offense but police have opened an investigation to find out why the ship had engine problems. That probe would be part of the one by the Accident Investigations Board. The Viking Sky is a relatively new ship, delivered in 2017 to operator Viking Ocean Cruises. The ship was on a 12-day cruise along Norway's coast before its scheduled arrival Tuesday in the British port of Tilbury, on the River Thames. The passengers were mostly an English-speaking mix of American, British, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian citizens. All the cruise ship passengers were expected to be flown out of Norway by Monday evening, police said. Viking Sky's next trip, to Scandinavia and Germany, which was to leave on Wednesday, has been canceled but its owner said no other trip cancellations for the ship were foreseen yet. ___ This story has been corrected to use the spelling of Tromsoe, per AP style.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that he hoped a 73-year-old yellow vest protester who suffered a head injury after being charged by police in Nice gains 'wisdom' over the incident. The Nice prosecutor said he had opened an investigation to uncover how anti-globalization activist Genevieve Legay was injured, and who, if anyone, was responsible. However, prosecutor Jean-Michel Pretre noted that the Saturday demonstration was 'at once illicit and forbidden' and participants had been summoned to leave before the police charge. An Associated Press reporter saw Legay, who was waving a rainbow flag marked 'Peace' and holding a yellow vest, fall to the pavement, blood spilling from her head. The prosecutor told a news conference that Legay 'was pushed' from behind and fell to the ground, fracturing her head, which hit a metal pole. She received a 3 centimeter gash, but was talking, coherent and remained hospitalized for surveillance. He said at least three other people, including a protester and a cameraman, were behind Legay when she fell, not just police. In an interview published in the Nice Matin newspaper on Monday, Macron suggested Legay didn't behave 'responsibly,' saying that 'fragile' people shouldn't attend 'places that are defined as prohibited.' 'I wish her a speedy recovery, and perhaps a form of wisdom,' he added. French authorities banned protests in several areas Saturday to cut short violence during the 19th straight week of protests by the yellow vest movement — after rioting and destruction the previous week. Nice was under extra security because the city was preparing for the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Legay's daughter, Delphine, filed a complaint, along with Attac, the group that Legay belongs to, which said Monday its complaint was for 'voluntary violence' on a vulnerable person by a person holding 'public authority.' At least 2,000 people have been injured in protest violence since the yellow vest movement began in November, and 11 people have been killed in protest-related road incidents.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping was greeted with full honors Monday during a state visit to France where he attended the signings of multibillion-dollar deals, including a major sale of 300 aircraft from European plane maker Airbus to China. The French presidency said the China Aviation Supplies Holding Company has ordered 290 Airbus A320 and 10 Airbus A350 planes. The amount of the deal was not specified. The global amount of the sale is estimated to 30 billion euros ($34 billion) at list prices, although buyers often secure discounts. 'We are honored to support the growth of China's civil aviation with our leading aircraft families,' said Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft. 'Our expanding footprint in China demonstrates our lasting confidence in the Chinese market and our long-term commitment to China and our partners.' Other major business deals on renewable energy and the food industry were signed Monday in the presence of Xi at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris, in addition to bilateral agreements. Both countries agreed on a protocol allowing the French exports of chicken meat to China. The country last year opened its market to French beef products following French President Emmanuel Macron's state visit in the country in January 2018. French energy company EDF and the China Energy Investment Corporation signed a deal worth 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to develop an offshore wind farm in Chinese waters. Earlier in the day, Macron welcomed Xi and his wife, Peng Liuan, at the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris. The French National Guard played the country's anthems. Both leaders laid a wreath at the Unknown Soldier from World War I whose tomb is under the monument. They then headed to the Elysee presidential palace for a meeting and a ceremony for the signing of agreements. Later, the Chinese president was to be honored with a state dinner at the Elysee, with guests including French actor Alain Delon, Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse and French-Chinese painter Yan Pei-Ming and Chinese actress Gong Li. Xi and Macron also confirmed the opening of a branch for the Paris modern art museum, the Pompidou Center, in Shanghai this fall. France also seeks China's cooperation on climate diplomacy in the face of U.S. President Donald Trump's skepticism about climate change. The Chinese leader, who previously visited Italy and Monaco to sign deals, arrived in France on Sunday evening where he had a private dinner with Macron in the resort town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French Riviera. Xi will also meet in Paris on Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Europe wants to increase its trade with China but on European terms, especially amid U.S.-China trade tensions.
  • The former president of Spain's Catalonia region, Carles Puigdemont, has returned to a German prison where he spent nearly two weeks last year to drop off a donation of books. Puigdemont's visit to the prison in Neumuenster on Monday came a year after he was arrested in Germany's far north as he tried to drive from Finland to his base in Belgium. An attempt to extradite him to Spain, which he fled in 2017 after his regional government held an unauthorized referendum on independence from Spain, later collapsed. German news agency dpa reported that Puigdemont brought a donation of 100 books by Catalan authors translated into German, saying he wanted to express gratitude for his treatment in prison. Puigdemont is seeking a seat in the European Parliament in May elections.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A widely shared Facebook post shows a lone prayer closet remaining on the site of a home where an EF4 tornado ripped through in Alabama. Earlier in March, a tornado carved a path across Lee County, Alabama destroying homes and ripping up trees.  Only a few buildings and homes were able to make it, including a local grandmother’s prayer closet. According to 11 Alive, Chaplain Jason Smith was out with Billy Graham’s Rapid Response Team and noticed the prayer closet.   In his Facebook post, he reports the entire family who lived there survived. “Listen to me please,” he wrote in the post.  “I just left a family who survived the tornado in this house and the only left standing is this closet.  It’s the grandmother’s prayer closet, and the whole family survived.  Are you kiddin me!!! My God is awesome!!! Shout somebody! --Jason--” As of this article, the two-week old post has been shared over 96 thousand times and garnered more than 62 thousand likes.
  • Federal prosecutors in New York and California announced charges Monday in separate cases against attorney Michael Avenatti. >> Read more trending news Authorities in New York arrested Avenatti on Monday to face allegations out of the Southern District of New York that he attempted to extort Nike and charges of bank and wire fraud out of the Central District of California. >> Read the complaint against Avenatti filed in New York Update 3:20 p.m. EDT March 25: In a statement obtained by CNBC, a Nike spokesperson said the company “has been cooperating with the government’s investigation into NCAA basketball for over a year.” “When Nike became aware of this matter, Nike immediately reported it to federal prosecutors,” the statement said. “When Mr. Avenatti attempted to extort Nike over this matter, Nike with the assistance of outside counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner, aided the investigation.” Authorities said Avenatti and an unnamed co-conspirator attempted to extort Nike of more than $20 million by threatening “to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.” Citing a pair of unidentified sources, The Wall Street Journal reported the unnamed co-conspirator allegedly involved in the case was attorney Mark Geragos. Update 3:05 p.m. EDT March 25: Investigators with the IRS launched a probe into Aveantti more than a year ago, after an official noticed “irregularities” while attempting to collect payroll taxes from Avenatti, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Nick Hanna said. The bank and wire fraud “allegations ... paint an ugly picture of lawless conduct and greed,” Hanna said, calling Avenatti “a corrupt lawyer who ... fights for his own selfish interests by misappropriating close to $1 million that rightfully belonged to one of his clients.” Hanna said Avenatti negotiated a settlement for one of his clients in December 2017 as part of an intellectual property dispute. Under the settlement, Avenatti’s client was expected to get $1.6 million in January 2018. However, Hanna said Avenatti presented his client with a false settlement agreement that listed March 2018 at the date by which the payment was due. The payment was made to an account controlled by Avenatti on Jan. 5, 2018. “Mr. Avenatti then used his client’s money to pay expenses for his own coffee business, Global Baristas LLC which did business as Tully’s coffee as well as to pay his own expenses,” Hanna said. Avenatti was arrested Monday in New York to face federal charges on both the east and west coasts. Avenatti is facing a maximum of 50 years in prison if he’s convicted of the bank and wire fraud charges in California. Federal prosecutors in New York also charged Avenatti in a separate case in which he was accused of attempting to extort Nike. Update 2:20 p.m. EDT March 25: Authorities in California are providing more details Monday in the case against Avenatti. Update 2:15 p.m. EDT March 25: Avenatti’s former client, Stormy Daniels, said in a statement Monday that she was “saddened but not shocked by news reports that he has been criminally charged.” “I made the decision more than a month ago to terminate Michael’s services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly,” Daniels said. Avenatti represented Daniels in her court battle to throw out a non-disclosure agreement she had signed before the 2016 presidential election. The agreement barred her from talking about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump years before the election. Original report: Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York said Avenatti attempted “to extract more than $20 million in payments from a public traded company by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.” The company was identified in a criminal complaint as Nike. Earlier Monday, Avenatti had announced plans to hold a press conference Tuesday “to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike.” Authorities said in a complaint filled in court that Avenatti and another person threatened to release damaging information about Nike if the company “did not agree to make multi-million dollar payments” to Avenatti and an unnamed co-conspirator. Avenatti “threatened to hold a press conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the start of the annual (NCAA) tournament at which he would announce allegations of misconduct by employees of Nike,” prosecutors said.  “Avenatti stated that he would refrain from holding the press conference and harming Nike only if Nike made a payment of $1.5 million to a client of Avenatti’s in possession of information damaging to Nike... and agreed to ‘retain’ Avenatti and (the unnamed co-conspirator) to conduct an ‘internal investigation’ -- an investigation that Nike did not request.” Authorities said Avenatti told Nike’s attorneys in a phone call on Wednesday that, “I’ll go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap ... I’m not (expletive) around.” Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles announced Monday they were charging Avenatti with wire and bank fraud in a separate case. Authorities plan to detail charges against him at a news conference scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • An Italian couple is under investigation after authorities say they performed a home circumcision on their 5-month-old son, causing the boy’s death.  The boy, whose parents are of Ghanian origin, was in critical condition when he was taken Friday night to a hospital in Scandiano in the province of Reggio Emilia, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported. He died overnight. >> Read more trending news This weekend’s death is not the first of a child who underwent an illegal circumcision in Italy. The BBC reported that a 2-year-old boy bled to death in December after undergoing a failed circumcision at a migrant center in the Roman suburb of Monterotondo.  The boy’s twin brother underwent the same surgery but survived after a stint in the intensive care unit.  In the December case, a 66-year-old man was charged with murder in the toddler’s death, the BBC reported.  The 2-year-old and his brother were born in Italy, but their parents were from Nigeria, according to the BBC. The man charged with killing the boy is an American of Libyan heritage.  The BBC reported that circumcision is unavailable in public health institutions. Italy’s Roman Catholic majority does not practice circumcision, but many of the country’s Muslim immigrants do.  Private clinics will perform the procedure, but the surgery can be costly. There are people willing to circumcise children for a fraction of the cost, the news agency reported.  In the December case, the procedure was performed at a refugee center run by the Monterotondo council and nonprofit group Arci. Arci officials condemned the incident in a Facebook post, in which they said in 2018, there should be “no sorcerers and midwives.” “The Monterotondo tragedy leaves the whole of Arci, starting with our Arci workers in Rome, sorrowful and upset,” the post read, as translated from Italian. One commenter argued for a near-complete ban on circumcision.   “Circumcision should be considered a sexual mutilation, apart from the few cases in which it is appropriate for medical reasons, and therefore prohibited and punished if practiced,” the woman, Claudia Lanzi, wrote.  Another woman, Barbara Pilati, asked how it is mutilation if it causes no damage. “It is made to children who cannot express their opinion,” Lanzi responded.  ANSA reported that between 4,000 and 5,000 immigrant children undergo circumcisions in Italy each year. About 35 percent of those procedures are done illegally.  Yassine Lafram, who heads the Bologna area’s Islamic community, condemned the fatal procedure on the infant Monday. “We learn of the terrible news of the death of a 5-month-old baby following an illegal circumcision with dismay,” Lafram told ANSA. “It’s a death that could certainly have been avoided and pains us deeply.”
  • Police opened an investigation Monday into a deadly officer-involved shooting in north Charlotte. >> Read more trending news Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney told WSOC-TV that officers responded just after 9 a.m. to the Burger King on Beatties Ford Road, near Interstate 85.  Dozens of police cruisers could be seen surrounding the fast-food restaurant, which was roped off with crime scene tape. Putney said officers responded to a call about an armed man at the business. The man gave employees an uneasy feeling, Putney said, so they called police. When officers arrived, they spotted the man outside the Burger King, according to Putney. Authorities said the man was still armed when officers arrived, and they repeatedly ordered him to drop the weapon. Putney said an officer felt there was a lethal threat and shot the man at least once. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His name has not been released. A witness told WSOC-TV the armed man had gotten into an argument with an employee inside the restaurant and that another man intervened and was assaulted by the suspect. Police have not confirmed that witness's account. Police said no officers were hurt. The shooting remains under investigation, and no other details have been released.
  • ORLANDO, Fla. - The trailer for the new movie, Lucy in the Sky,  portrays Natalie Portman as an astronaut struggling to readjust to life on Earth after seeing 'the whole universe.' The film is loosely based on real-life astronaut Lisa Nowak, who became embroiled in an affair with fellow astronaut Bill Oefelein. But when they broke up, and he began to date U.S. Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, Nowak became enraged. She made national headlines when she drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando and packed a trench coat, black wig, pepper spray, a BB gun, rope, trash bags and an 8-inch knife in an attempt to kidnap Shipman. Nowak was discharged from NASA and the Navy.

Washington Insider

  • A day after Congress was told the Mueller investigation had not found evidence of coordination or conspiracy involving Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 elections, a leading GOP Senator vowed to fully investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, arguing that President Donald Trump may have been the victim of overzealous investigators inside the Justice Department. 'The double standard here has been striking and quite frankly disappointing,' said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who told reporters at the Capitol on Monday morning that it's time to find out more about how the investigation began during the 2016 campaign, how it meshed with the probe into Hillary Clinton's emails, and whether there had been bias inside the Justice Department and FBI against President Trump. While Graham said he would conduct oversight via the Senate Judiciary Committee, the South Carolina Republican also said he wants a more formal review by the Justice Department, and U.S. Attorney General William Barr. 'What I want to do is see if he'll appoint a Special Counsel,' Graham said, as he argued that President Trump had been unfairly targeted. Graham said he would look at the role of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch - who tried to step back from the Clinton email investigation, which led to the broader involvement of former FBI Director James Comey. 'What was the conflict that made Loretta Lynch so unable to preside over the Clinton email investigation?' Graham asked. While Graham ticked off the boxes of a series of questions which have dominated conservative talk radio over the past two years, the ally of the President made clear he agreed with the Mueller report findings on one very key issue - that the Russians were responsible for the hacking of the Democratic Party in 2016. “It was the Russians - it wasn’t some 300 pound guy sitting on a bed somewhere,” Graham said, making reference to a quote by President Trump, who at times has rejected assertions that Russian Intelligence was responsible for the hacking of emails from Clinton campaign and DNC officials. Graham said he also wanted answers on how the Obama Administration handled the initial developments in the Russia investigation - which came during the 2016 campaign. 'Nobody went to President Trump to tell him, there may be some people in your orbit that are connected to the Russians and working with the Russians,' Graham said at a news conference. At the White House, President Trump kept his comments limited about the Mueller report, saying he would not oppose the release of the details of the report, if that’s what Attorney General Barr wants to do. Asked during an event in the Oval Office whether the Special Counsel had done his job honorably, Mr. Trump responded: 'Yes, he did.' “I wish it could have gone a lot sooner, a lot quicker,” the President added.