Upstart party turns cannabis into key Israeli election issue

By ARON HELLER Associated Press
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Cinderella story of Israel’s current election campaign is a fringe party led by an ultranationalist libertarian with a criminal record who vows to legalize marijuana, and seems to diverge dramatically from the long list of quirky candidates of the past who have drawn attention to their improbable runs for parliament.
For starters, Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party has a real shot of getting elected next month and could even emerge as a kingmaker in a tightly contested race for prime minister. But his seemingly liberal civic platform, which has generated a strong hipster following, could be masking a far more polarizing agenda.
Feiglin, who got pushed out of the ruling Likud party four years ago for his extreme right-wing positions, has taken the campaign by storm, putting cannabis high on the national agenda and forcing the front-runners to take a stand on the issue. He’s also one of the few party leaders to refrain from endorsing either Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or his top challenger, retired military chief Benny Gantz.
“We are in nobody’s pocket,” Feiglin told Israel’s Army Radio recently. “Legalization is the condition for us joining any government.”
The message seems to be catching on, ironically, in the first election in 20 years that the single-issue Green Leaf party has refrained from running. In response to what has been dubbed the “Feiglin effect,” Netanyahu this week boasted about increasing the availability of medical cannabis and approving its export, making Israel just the third nation in the world to do so. He also promised to “examine” the issue of legalization for recreational use.
Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay said he was in favor of legalizing, calling cannabis less dangerous than alcohol. In a radio interview, he then disclosed he had smoked it himself in the past. And the dovish Meretz party, seeking to reclaim what would seem to be its natural electorate, issued a reminder that it was the first party in parliament to promote the issue while others were now merely catching up.
But Feiglin, an observant, Jewish West Bank settler who doesn’t smoke marijuana himself, has been the one cashing in, finding an unlikely audience among urban youngsters drawn to his message of personal freedom and domestic policies, which, besides legalization, include an anti-labor union platform that promotes school vouchers, animal rights and free market economics.
With his skullcap, trim beard and small round-frame glasses, the 56-year-old Feiglin hardly cuts the image of an iconoclast. But he’s become an internet sensation with viral animated online hipster memes portraying him as a cool gangster with sunglasses and a joint hanging from his lips.
It’s a stunning makeover for a man who first made his name in Israel for orchestrating raucous protests against the Oslo Peace accords in the early 1990s. A recent cartoon in the Maariv daily poked fun at the irony of his drawing liberal supporters. Cast as the pied piper, Feiglin is shown leading a slew of smiling, glassy-eyed voters following the trail of smoke from a joint he is holding in the air.
“Feiglin is a revelation to young, secular supporters of the center-left,” explained commentator Yaron Dekel in the YNet news site. “He emphasizes that he is primarily liberal when it comes to the issue of religion and state, and a staunch supporter of the legalization of marijuana, but is hiding an extremely hawkish platform in every other arena.”
The political manifesto of Feiglin’s Zehut — Hebrew for identity — party includes canceling signed agreements with the Palestinians, making Israeli Arab citizens pass a loyalty test and offering financial incentives to them to emigrate elsewhere if they refuse to accept Jewish sovereignty over the land.
He’s also spoken out against women, gays and reform Jews. In 1995, shortly before Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, his Zo Artzeinu (This is our Land) movement blocked dozens of major intersections that wreaked havoc throughout the country. The Supreme Court later sentenced him to six months in prison for sedition against the state, which was later commuted to community service.
Feiglin, who refused an Associated Press interview, has downplayed his past as an ultranationalist activist and insists he is currently focused on civic issues alone. In reinventing himself, he has managed to create the latest iteration of a regular Israeli election ritual of obscure and offbeat lists offering an entertaining diversion to those voters despairing over Israel’s weighty issues.
Previous parties have included a faction calling for the establishment of a national casino and a group led by a fishmonger and puppeteer that tried to abolish bank fees. An offshoot of Green Leaf aligned with elderly Holocaust survivors to make a run in 2009 and four years later its castaways ran as the Israeli Pirate Party, offering a platform promoting a variety of personal freedoms, including the right to sail the high seas.
Should Zehut manage to cross the electoral threshold, it would join the likes of the Israeli Pensioners Party that managed to win seven seats in the 2006 election and joined Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Cabinet. Seen largely as the recipient of protest votes against the system, the group of retirees led by an octogenarian former spymaster disappeared in the next election.
Feiglin’s Zehut party, however, could prove to have a greater impact if it eventually has a say in who forms the next government. Columnist Shmuel Rosner called its emergence a “deliberate, cunning distraction” that reflects the dire state of discourse and overall disgust with mainstream politics.
“It is the proof — and not the first — of the difficulty the public has in addressing complex issues that require expertise and in-depth study,” he wrote Thursday in Maariv. “Everyone has despaired and only wants to be given something to dull their senses. It could be that the marijuana in the campaign is simply medical cannabis to relieve pain.”
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Follow Heller at www.twitter.com/aronhellerap

Dutch police hunt suspect after shooting on tram kills 1

By ALEKSANDAR FURTULA and MIKE CORDER Associated Press
UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch police were hunting down a suspect after a shooting Monday on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht that left a dead body on the ground and multiple people injured, according to police.
Authorities immediately raised the terror alert for the area to the maximum level and said they are considering the possibility of a “terrorist motive” in the attack. Dutch military police went on extra alert at Dutch airports and at key buildings in the country as the Utrecht manhunt took place.
Police, including heavily armed officers, flooded the area after the shooting Monday morning on a tram at a busy traffic intersection in a residential neighborhood. They later erected a white tent over an area where a body appeared to be lying next to the tram.
Utrecht police said trauma helicopters were sent to the scene and appealed to the public to stay away.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the situation “very worrying” and the country’s counterterror coordinator said in a tweet that a crisis team was meeting to discuss the situation.
Police spokesman Bernhard Jens said no one had been detained yet in the shooting, and one possible “explanation is that the person fled by car.” He did not rule out the possibility that more than one shooter was involved in the attack.
“We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible,” Jens said.
The Netherlands’ anti-terror coordinator raised the threat alert to its highest level around Utrecht. Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said the “threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province.”
“The culprit is still on the run. A terror motive cannot be excluded,” he said in a Twitter message.
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Corder reported from The Hague. Geir Moulson in Berlin and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed.

Putin visits Crimea to mark 5th anniversary of annexation

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin is marking the fifth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine by visiting the Black Sea peninsula.
Putin on Monday attended the launch of new power plants in Crimea, part of Moscow’s efforts to upgrade the region’s infrastructure. Ukraine has cut off energy supplies to the peninsula and blocked shipments of Crimea-bound cargo via its territory after Moscow annexed the region in 2014.
Russia’s modernization effort has included the construction of a 19-kilometer (11.8-mile) bridge across the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov that opened last year. The $3.6-billion project helped facilitate links with Crimea, which previously depended on a ferry crossing that was often interrupted by gales.
Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014 following a hastily called referendum, a move that drew U.S. and EU sanctions.

Brother’s teasing proved prophetic before NZ mosque shooting

By KRISTEN GELINEAU Associated Press
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — She wonders now if that moment was a prophecy, if her brother somehow knew it was the last time they’d see each other. Or maybe he was just teasing her, like he always did. But whatever the whole thing meant, Aya Al-Umari likes to believe it was her brother’s way of saying goodbye.
It was Thursday, the evening before a white supremacist stormed into the mosque where Hussein Al-Umari was praying, killing the 35-year-old in New Zealand’s deadliest mass shooting in modern history. Hussein had joined his sister Aya and their parents for dinner. And he was fixated on Aya’s new shirt.
It was just a simple cream-colored T-shirt. But on the front were three words: “See You Bye.”
Every time she passed him, he’d chirp: “Hey, that’s a nice top!”
Was he serious, or just making fun of her? She couldn’t tell. After the fifth comment, she started ignoring him. Like most big brothers, he could be a real pest.
He’d always delighted in teasing her. One time when they were visiting Malaysia as kids, he’d given her some candy that he assured her was smooth and sweet. When she put it in her mouth, she quickly realized he’d tricked her. It was popping candy, which instantly began to fizz and spark on her tongue. She shrieked. He laughed.
When Hussein left her house on Thursday night, she was busy. She didn’t get the chance to hug him goodbye, or say the words out loud.
The next day was a nightmare. Hussein, who worked in the tourism industry, was between jobs, which left him free to attend Friday prayers at Al Noor mosque. He died there, one of 50 people whose lives were cut short in a barrage of racist violence that day.
On Friday night, Aya returned home and saw the shirt lying on a chair. She looked at the words, “See You Bye.” She thought of Hussein. Maybe he’d had a premonition.
She alternates between laughter and tears when she thinks of him now. The two of them moved from Abu Dhabi to Christchurch in 1997, and had settled comfortably into their new lives in the peaceful green country. Hussein, an exercise enthusiast, loved taking long walks, sometimes several times a day. He also loved to travel, most recently to the seaside South Island city of Nelson. He’d created a video blog of his adventures; Aya had been impressed by how polished the video was.
When she remembers Hussein, she pictures him with his arms wide open, ready to wrap her in an embrace. He’d always been a hugger. Even after a long day, when she just wanted to go to bed, he insisted on giving her a squeeze first.
On Monday, she was left wondering where Hussein was. Like most families who lost loved ones in the attacks, she was still waiting for her brother’s body to be released. The wait has been made more painful by the fact that Islamic law calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours.
“It’s very unsettling not knowing what’s going on. If you just let me know — is he still in the mosque? Is he in a fridge? Where is he?” she said. “I understand the police need to do their job because it’s a crime scene, but you need to communicate with the families.”
For now, she comforts herself with memories of Hussein the way he was in life: arms wide open, wrapping her in a hug. Teasing her about a T-shirt that she clings to as a symbol of their final farewell.

R. Kelly case spotlights abuse of girls in the era of #MeToo

BY MARYCLAIRE DALE and JOCELYN NOVECK Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The girls, a dozen of them 15 to 18 years old, file into a conference room in a downtown Brooklyn office building, taking seats in chairs carefully arranged in a circle. On the floor in front of them is a makeshift altar of comforting objects: A string of Christmas lights, plastic toys and dolls, oils and crystals, a glitter-filled wand.
They arrive at the end of a school day in their usual hoodies and jeans, their smiles and easy banter masking the painful experiences that bring them together: This group is called “Sisters in Strength,” and its members are survivors of sexual violence, or their allies and supporters.
There’s a high school senior who describes being raped at 14, by a family friend she considered a big brother. She endured years of anger and isolation before seeking help. Writing poems is part of her healing process. Soon after the assault, she scrawled in a notebook: “Did you not hear my screams? The screams I vocalized at the top of my lungs, burying my voice ten feet under.”
Another young woman, now 18, seeks peace through daily meditation. She too was assaulted by someone she knew, just days after her 18th birthday, but says she never reported it because she feared she wouldn’t be believed. “Most people will say, ‘What were you wearing or what were you doing? Why were you out so late?’ And all those things,” says this survivor. She found refuge in two trusted teachers, who sent her to “Sisters in Strength,” run by a nonprofit called Girls for Gender Equity.
“I’m still in my way of healing,” she says, “and I think it’s better for me to focus on myself and move on.”
The arrest of R&B singer R. Kelly on charges of sexually abusing girls as young as 13 has focused the lens of the #MeToo movement on underage victims like these, especially girls of color. The charges, which Kelly denies, follow a string of sexual misconduct accusations against Hollywood power brokers, media titans and Donald Trump during his run for president. But in those instances, as with the Harvey Weinstein scandal that launched the #MeToo era in October 2017, the accusers have been older, mostly white women.
“What happened with the media explosion of ‘MeToo’ is that it left out (a) population of people,” says Michelle Grier, director of social work at Girls for Gender Equity, where Tarana Burke, who originated the phrase “me too” with her own work more than a decade ago, is a senior director. Part of the group’s work, says Grier, is to empower girls to recognize: “Oh, this movement is about ME, too.”
Various studies have found that 7 in 10 girls endure some form of sexual harassment by age 18, and 1 in 4 will be sexually abused. Experts believe the rates are higher for girls of color. One government survey found that some 43 percent of rapes and attempted rapes against women happened before they’d turned 18. That means that for millions of women in the U.S., their first sexual victimization occurs when they are 17 or younger, sometimes even younger than 10.
Groups like Girls for Gender Equity and Girls Inc., a nonprofit with 81 chapters in 30 states, are working to help young women discuss sexual harassment, dating violence and other types of abuse. Girls Inc. last year launched a #GirlsToo campaign to ensure that the voices of young survivors become part of the narrative on sexual misconduct.
“With young people it’s extra challenging, either because of who may be abusing them or the power differential,” says Lara Kaufmann, public policy director of Girls Inc. Often, they fear being punished by their parents if the abuse involves a boyfriend, ostracized if it is perpetrated by a relative, or stigmatized by peers if it occurs at school. Even more than older women, experts say, girls tend to fear they won’t be believed.
In Memphis, Tennessee, 16-year-old Maya Morris says an alleged sexual assault outside her school last month has sparked intense debate among her classmates. The parties involved were students at White Station High School, and some say the alleged victim broke a rule to leave school grounds at dismissal.
“People are saying that because she was at school after-hours … it was her own fault,” says Morris, a member of Girls Inc.’s national teen advisory council. School officials declined to say if the case was referred to police, and Memphis police did not return messages.
Such victim-blaming is not uncommon and adds to children’s innate belief that they are at fault when things go wrong, Kaufmann says.
“Unfortunately, some schools are punishing girls who come forward, particularly girls of color,” she says. “They report a sexual assault at school, and rather than figure out who’s responsible, they will be punished for engaging in sexual activity on school grounds.”
Burke, the #MeToo founder, says black girls are especially susceptible to being blamed because society “hypersexualizes” them, and thus they’re seen as more mature than they actually are and more responsible for what happens to them. “So the blame gets shifted,” she says, “like … ‘This happened to you because you haven’t figured out how to take care of yourself. And so this was your fault.'”
The National Women’s Law Center represents three girls who have sued their school districts over their handling of complaints they were sexually harassed at school or sexually assaulted by fellow students. The group says too many victims are being forced to transfer while the offenders remain at school.
“Girls … fear that reporting will make things worse instead of better,” says Emily Martin, the organization’s policy director. “And there are really rational reasons to think that might be the case. Schools don’t have the best track record at responding appropriately.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed new Title IX rules that would limit when schools can intervene, especially if the abuse happens off-campus or online. The public has filed more than 100,000 comments in response. Critics include the School Superintendents Association, which says the changes would undermine the ability of its 13,000 superintendents “to ensure each and every child in our school has a safe and healthy learning environment.”
Girls Inc. helps young people push school officials to do more to teach sex education and address sexual harassment and abuse. The group also has online resources about how to report abuse or help friends who come forward.
In Memphis, Morris recently participated in a Girls Inc. workshop, the first in a series across the U.S., where girls gathered to discuss healthy relationships and dating violence. Confronting a friend one-on-one about abuse might bring an end to the friendship, she says, “because they’re convinced that this is what love looks like.”
“Talking about it in a teen talk situation is a lot different,” says Morris, who does see a domino effect of #MeToo and hopes girls will speak more freely with their parents and at school.
White Station Vice Principal Carrye Holland sees a need for more honest talk about the situations teens face, be it the pressure to have sex, mistaken assumptions about which kids at school “want” sex, or fears of being ostracized if they report wrongdoing.
“They’re concerned about living in a world where they have to explain why they may not want to be intimate, to apologize for maybe not wanting to do things they’re expected to do,” Holland says. “How do you change that climate?”
Her district, like many around the country, teaches basic sex ed but lacks a forum for free-ranging discussion about consent, dating violence and other topics. Still, she thinks adults can do more to help girls — and boys — “see themselves in a respectful light … teaching things that you think maybe shouldn’t have to be taught.”
Unlike colleges and universities, U.S. elementary and secondary schools are not subject to national requirements for tracking student sexual assaults. But a 2017 Associated Press investigation uncovered about 17,000 official reports of student sex assault over the period from fall 2011 to spring 2015.
Federal data that is available shows that most sex assaults involving teens occur at someone’s home. About a quarter of the time, girls are abused by family members. Nearly 30 percent of the time, the abuser is a current or former dating partner. Ten percent of the time, the perpetrator is a stranger, and in other instances, an acquaintance. Nearly 5 percent are authority figures.
Boys also face such violence; studies have found that 1 in 6 are sexually abused before they reach 18, although experts believe the figure could be far higher. Boys often stay silent about abuse given the cultural bravado about men and sex and fears that being identified as a victim will make them appear weak. Two men who now say they were sexually abused throughout their childhoods by Michael Jackson denied it until their 30s. The late superstar was acquitted of molestation charges in 2005 and always maintained his innocence.
Psychologist Julia Curcio Alexander, who works with victims and offenders in Philadelphia, says it can be “extraordinarily distressing” for young victims to come forward — and that hasn’t changed in this era of #MeToo. Abusers often have tremendous power over their victims, be it financial or emotional. If the offender is a parent, the other parent often supports a spouse over a child, she says, and if it’s a relative, the child has to worry about the family coming apart over the disclosure.
“Perhaps there’s more support for adults who are disclosing now,” Curcio Alexander says. “Will the child going to school … be in a (better) position to disclose? That remains to be seen.”
For the two young women in Brooklyn, disclosing — even to family — was a fraught process. For one of them, it was much easier to tell her friends than her parents. The other was able to confide in her parents but shut down around friends.
Both young women struggled, at times, with the temptation to blame themselves.
“The hardest thing for me to believe was that I didn’t do this to myself,” says the 18-year-old who meditates to help heal. “But I didn’t plan or go out of my way to make this happen to me. There’s bad people in the world, and you can’t really protect yourself, especially if they’re close to you.”
She declines to describe the details of her assault.
For the young poet, her assault at the hands of a trusted family friend came as a total shock. Along with a girlfriend, she had brought the man a birthday gift. When the girlfriend left, she says, the assault happened. After telling her parents, she retreated into a period of anger and depression.
After a second assault a year later, she says, she kept quiet, consumed with guilt at finding herself in a home where she went willingly.
“I just shoved it to the back of my mind,” she says of those memories. “And so when I finally took it out, it felt like I was just telling another story, because I felt like I buried it so deep that I wasn’t feeling the emotions a survivor would usually feel. It felt like I was just telling another story.”
The twice-weekly sessions at Sisters in Strength have helped. She’s focused on excelling at her studies and plans to attend college.
Each group meeting begins with a check-in: One by one, the girls report how they’re doing, what they’re thinking about, what they need to keep healing. This might involve discussing the trauma they endured, but often not. The seven-month curriculum includes education on everything from issues of gender bias and racism to how to have a healthy relationship and methods of recovering, both emotionally and physically.
One big takeaway: These girls want to be called survivors, not victims.
“At first you feel like a victim,” says one of the young women, “because you’re in the mentality of this HAPPENED to me. But then you transition and you’re healing … and then you become a survivor, because you don’t let the thoughts you had control you or consume you.”
It’s a very conscious word choice in the group sessions, because the word “victim,” says Grier, “doesn’t express the fact that you’re still in the world, and there’s so much more to experience.”
“This is one part of the narrative, but this is not the end,” she says. “They are powerful, because they have survived something. They are powerful because they exist, and because they matter to us.”
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Dale reported from Philadelphia, and Noveck from New York. Both write about gender issues and #MeToo for The Associated Press. Follow them at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale and https://twitter.com/JocelynNoveckAP

NATO, EU condemn Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO and the European Union are condemning Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula five years after Moscow declared the region Russian territory.
NATO allies said in a statement Monday that “we strongly condemn this act, which we do not and will not recognize.”
They also criticized Russia’s military buildup in Crimea and alleged rights abuses including “arbitrary detentions, arrest, and torture” against members of the Crimean Tartar community.
EU foreign ministers are marking the fifth anniversary of the annexation.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said: “We stand in full solidarity with Ukraine, supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
NATO and the EU also called for the release of Ukrainian sailors detained by the Russian navy and coast guard in waters off Ukraine in November.

FC Cincinnati wins for 1st time in MLS, beating Timbers

CINCINNATI (AP) — Allan Cruz and Mathieu Deplagne scored two minutes apart in the second half and expansion FC Cincinnati won for the first time in MLS, topping the 10-man Portland Timbers 3-0 on Sunday in its home debut.
Kendall Waston scored FC Cincy’s first home goal in the MLS in the 15th minute by heading home Leonardo Bertone’s free kick in front of a sold-out crowd of 32,250 at Nippert Stadium, including MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
Cruz scored on a back-heel shot in the 61st, settling a deflected shot and rolling it inside the far post. Two minutes later, Deplagne finished off a busy sequence in the box with a redirection.
MLS expansion teams are 9-6-2 in their opening home matches.
FC Cincy goalkeeper Spencer Richey denied a point-blank shot by Dairon Asprilla at the back post on a corner kick. Portland defender Larrys Mabiala received yellow cards in first-half stoppage time and the 70th for the Timbers (0-2-1).
Cincinnati striker Fanendo Adi, who spent four-plus years in a star role with Portland before being traded in July, shared greetings with his old teammates in the lineup line before the game.
FC Cincy (1-1-1) got its first point last week, rallying for a 1-1 draw against defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta United.

Cincinnati defeats Houston 69-57 for AAC title

By CLAY BAILEY Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — With conference player of the year Jarron Cumberland running the show, No. 24 Cincinnati pulled away to win its second American Athletic Conference Tournament.
Cumberland had 33 points and eight rebounds as No. 24 Cincinnati won its second straight AAC tournament title, defeating No. 11 Houston 69-57 on Sunday.
“Jarron was off the charts,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said, later adding: “Jarron is superhuman.”
Cane Broome finished with 15 points and Tre Scott added 12 for Cincinnati (28-6), who had lost to Houston twice during the regular season, including 85-69 March 10 at Cincinnati. This time was different as the Bearcats shut down Houston’s offense.
“We’ve had three terrific games with Cincinnati, at our place, at their place and (Sunday),” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Obviously, that’s a difficult team to beat three times, especially over the course of five or six weeks.
“Watching how they played today, you can see how well we played the other two times when we beat them.”
In the second half, Houston shot a mere 27.8 percent, including making 3 of 18 from 3-point range. That provided Cincinnati, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, the opportunity to build a double-digit lead – a margin that reached 15 three times in the final seven minutes.
Sampson said he could tell Cronin had the Bearcats “really ready to play. You could tell they had a little bit of an ax to grind.”
Cronin had noted after Cincinnati’s semifinal win over Wichita State that the Bearcats rarely lose to a team three times in a season — another point of motivation for his team, along with holding the tournament trophy.
After Sunday’s victory, the Cincinnati coach said the championship win gives his team a hint of the things necessary if they are to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, and with an emphasis on the thin margin between winning and losing.
“You’ve got to be hard to beat,” Cronin said. “You can’t (miss) layups. You’ve got to block out. You can’t make dumb fouls and you try to maximize your potential on offense.”
Armoni Brooks led Houston (31-3) with 17 points and Corey Davis added 12 for the Cougars, who were the tournament’s top seed.
While the Bearcat defense stifled Houston shooting in the second half, Cincinnati put the ball in the hands of Cumberland, voted the tournament’s most valuable player, and he responded with 20 second-half points. Cumberland made 7 of 14 shots after halftime and also was 6 of 9 from the free throw line.
“Cumberland hit some tough shots,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “He hit some really, really tough shots.”
Houston got in trouble early in the second half when two quick fouls sent forward Breaon Brady to the bench with four fouls. About the same time, Fabian White went to the bench holding his right wrist.
At that point, the Bearcats were taking the lead to 15 points and really weren’t threatened the rest of the way.
“We would have liked to have won,” Sampson said, later adding: “I’m not going to spend two minutes thinking about this game. I’m just excited about what’s coming up.”
BIG PICTURE
Cincinnati: Cumberland, who was limited to only 11 points in a semifinal win over Wichita State, had surpassed that at halftime with 13 but was still struggling from the field. After halftime, he took over the game as the Bearcats extended the lead.
Houston: The Cougars suffered through 35 percent shooting in the first half. Brooks made five of the nine Houston field goals in the half. But things got worse after halftime as Houston had trouble converting shots and could never really cut into the Cincinnati lead. Injuries and foul trouble only made things worse
UP NEXT
Cincinnati: The Bearcats are a seventh seed in the South Region and play Iowa, the region’s No. 10 seed on Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
Houston: Earned a third seed in the Midwest Region and will play Friday against No. 14 seed Georgia State.
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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Trump to GM: Reopen Ohio plant, close one in Mexico or China

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is escalating his pressure on General Motors, as he calls for the company to reopen an Ohio manufacturing plant.
Trump tweeted Monday that GM should: “Close a plant in China or Mexico, where you invested so heavily pre-Trump,” and “Bring jobs home!”
Trump travels to politically important Ohio this week. Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that officials should start talks with the United Auto Workers immediately so that the Lordstown plant could be reopened or sold.
General Motors said in a statement Sunday that the future of plants scheduled to be closed “will be resolved between GM and the UAW.” The automaker said that they had “opportunities available for virtually all impacted employees.”

Trump calls GM’s CEO in push to reopen Ohio auto plant

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump stepped up his pressure on General Motors to reopen an Ohio manufacturing plant that recently closed and put 1,700 people out of work.
Trump’s arm-twisting came in a series of separate tweets on Saturday and Sunday . He capped his weekend rant against the GM with a tweet disclosing that he had vented his frustrations during a conversation with the company’s CEO, Mary Barra.
“I am not happy that it is closed when everything else in our Country is BOOMING,” Trump wrote. “I asked her to sell it or do something quickly. She blamed the UAW Union — I don’t care, I just want it open!”
The union is the United Automobile Workers, which represents the employees who lost their jobs in the Lordstown closure. Trump had previously told a UAW leader, David Green, to “get his act together and produce” for the Lordstown workers. Green didn’t respond to a request for comment Sunday.
General Motors said in a statement released Sunday evening that the future of plants scheduled to be closed “will be resolved between GM and the UAW.” The automaker also said that it has “opportunities available for virtually all impacted employees” at plants that are to be shuttered.
“We remain open to talking with all the affected stakeholders, but our main focus remains on our employees and offering them jobs in our plants where we have growth opportunities,” the company said.
Even as Trump said he talked to Barra, he was calling on GM to reopen its Lordstown plant or find another owner, while insisting that the Detroit automaker “must act quickly.”
He also blasted GM for letting down the U.S. and asserted “much better” automakers are coming to the country.
Trump praised Toyota for its investments in the U.S. in an apparent attempt to depict GM as being less committed to its home country than the Japan automaker.
The Lordstown closure has become a hot-button issue in an area of Ohio that is expected to be critical for Trump if he seeks re-election as promised in 2020.
Trump prevailed in Ohio in the 2016 election, a win that helped him win enough electoral votes to become president despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
That may be one reason why Trump joined a coalition of Ohio lawmakers in efforts to get the Lordstown plant running again. The tweets marked some of his most pointed criticism of GM so far.
Trump has skewered several other U.S. companies for not doing more to help their country’s economy, but his remarks so far have been more bark than bite.
For instance, he has publicly called upon Apple to shift most of its manufacturing from China to the U.S., but the Silicon Valley company continues to make its iPhones and most other products overseas.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, last week expressed doubts GM will reopen its Lordstown plant, but he said the automaker indicated it’s in talks with another company about using the site.
More than 16 million vehicles were made at the Lordstown plant during its 53-year history until GM closed it earlier this month as part of a massive reorganization. The company also intends to close four other North American plants by early next year.