CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defended his record and called protests against him the work of fascists Wednesday, a day after an attack on his campaign caravan underlined Brazil’s deep divisions ahead of heated elections.
His left-leaning Workers’ Party said gunshots hit two buses in the caravan Tuesday. No one was hurt and da Silva was not on either bus. Police are investigating.
The incident comes at a moment of intense division in Brazil after a tumultuous few years that have seen the impeachment and removal from office of one president and the implication of dozens of politicians, including da Silva, in a mammoth corruption scandal.
Protests have repeatedly rocked Brazil, and current President Michel Temer warned Wednesday that the violence against da Silva’s caravan threatened to destabilize Latin America’s largest country. But divisiveness looks likely to increase as Brazil prepares to elect a new president in October.
Despite a conviction on corruption charges that could see him barred from running, da Silva is the front runner in that race. Yet he is no longer the universally beloved figure he once was after two terms as president. Demonstrations have dogged his 10-day campaign tour through southern Brazil, which tends to be wealthier and more conservative than his political heartland in the northeast.
At a rally in the southern city of Curitiba on Wednesday night, da Silva described the protesters who sometimes threw rocks and eggs at the caravan and into crowds.
“I don’t know who they were and I don’t care,” he told a crowd of a few thousand people. “I just know they were not democrats. They are more like fascists and Nazis; they are more for anything else than for democracy.”
Several other speakers criticized the rise of “fascists,” referring to a growing tide of conservatism in Latin America’s largest country, especially the popularity of far-right Congressman Jair Bolsonaro, who held a rival rally in Curitiba on Wednesday.
Long considered on the fringe, Bolsonaro has been drawing big crowds with his promises of law and order in uncertain times. He is polling second behind da Silva in an election that has been blown wide open by the widespread disgust of many Brazilians feel for their leaders in the wake of the “Car Wash” corruption investigation.
The investigation is, in many ways, at the heart of Brazil’s tumult.
Prosecutors have alleged that Brazil’s government has effectively been run like a cartel for years, with politicians doling out favors, state contracts and plum positions in exchange for bribes and campaign contributions. The probe initially focused on da Silva’s Workers’ Party, but it has implicated other parties, including Temer’s. Temer himself has been accused of corruption, but Congress twice voted to spare him a trial while he remains in office and he denies the charges.
While many have cheered the investigation as heroic for its unflinching pursuit of those in the upper echelons of Brazilian politics, some, especially on the left, think it has unfairly targeted the Workers’ Party for political reasons.
Da Silva himself has said the charges against him are invented and meant to keep him from regaining the presidency.
“They know that I know how to fix the country because when I took over Brazil … this country was in a worse state” than it is now, he told the crowd in Curitiba. Da Silva presided over an economic boom fed by high prices for its commodities, but the economy has slumped since then.
He said his enemies were telling a slew of lies about him and even took aim at a new Netflix series about the Car Wash probe that has come under fire in recent days for taking liberties with some of its depictions, including of da Silva himself. Da Silva said he would sue the company.
In another sign of Brazil’s volatility, Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin, who is the rapporteur in charge of the Car Wash investigation, said in an interview with GloboNews this week that members of his family have received threats. The Supreme Court said Fachin’s security detail has been increased and he is allowed to direct his bodyguards to accompany relatives.
Associated Press writer Sarah DiLorenzo reported this story from Sao Paulo and AP video journalist Mario Lobao reported from Curitiba. AP video journalist Diarlei Rodrigues in Curitiba contributed to this report.
PHOENIX (AP) — Federal agents acting on a tip went to a Phoenix house where they found and detained 34 immigrants believed to have entered the United States, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Wednesday.
The 34 immigrants taken into custody included 27 Guatemalans, five Mexicans and 2 Hondurans, according to a statement from the agency.
News video showed a group of people in handcuffs sitting in a driveway outside the home.
“We responded to a tip that basically informed us there was a local residence that contained a large group of suspected undocumented immigrants,” said Lauren Mack, an agency spokeswoman. “They dismantled a drop house.”
Human traffickers typically use drop houses to temporarily house immigrants who have been smuggled into the country while “waiting for transportation to another or a pickup or payment made to a smuggler,” Mack said.
The 34 migrants were detained for administrative immigration violations and processed for removal from the United States, Mack said.
There was no information immediately available on how long the immigrants had been in the home, Mack said.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The NFL’s new rule outlawing a player from lowering his head to initially make any sort of hit with his helmet likely will be included in replay reviews for officials.
That has not been decided yet, but Commissioner Roger Goodell and competition committee chairman Rich McKay made it clear Wednesday that video reviews probably will be part of the process.
“If we’re able to have replay confirm one of these fouls and also confirms a player be ejected,” Goodell said as the league meetings concluded, “I think there is more confidence among the coaches it will be called accurately.”
After noting the unanimous approval of the new rule among coaches, Goodell said on-field officials felt the same way.
“We think that is appropriate to do and it would be the first time we use replay for safety or in respect to any kind of foul,” Goodell added.
Late Tuesday, the owners rewrote the rule on using the helmet, making it a 15-yard penalty for any player to lower his head to initiate any hit with the helmet. McKay called it “a significant change,” noting that it was a “technique too dangerous for the player doing it and the player being hit.”
While the offender could be disqualified, owners did not call for an automatic ejection on such a play — at least not yet. In college football, when a player is penalized for targeting and a replay review affirms it, he is ejected.
Including replay will be discussed and very possibly implemented at the NFL’s May meetings in Atlanta, where another full agenda will include discussions of changes to the league’s national anthem policy; the potential sale of the Carolina Panthers; and awarding the 2019 and 2020 drafts to two of the five finalist cities.
Before then, Goodell stressed that the workings of the new helmet use rule will be made clear to the players, and there will be further discussions on the standards to go from disqualifying a player to fines and possibly suspensions.
“Our intent is to go to each team with tape and all the analysis work done (by the football operations, technology and medical staffs) and be able to present it to them,” Goodell said, adding it will be “all hands on deck” in the educational process.
“We can take the head out, and we do want to make sure certain techniques are not used in our game. I am confident in the next few months (players) will understand it.”
Like the coaches, the owners were emphatically behind the change.
“We’ve done so much research and investigation on what creates the real concussive plays in the NFL,” Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said, “and it became obvious that so many of the plays are through the lowering of the helmet and using the helmet as a weapon. I thought this (rule) was very important.”
Asked about the Rooney Rule and criticism of the Raiders in how they hired Jon Gruden as coach, Goodell said the league will look at it “and see if we can improve it, absolutely.” Oakland was found to have not violated the rule that requires minority candidates to be interviewed for head coaching and executive positions.
—Goodell said any findings in the investigation of the behavior of Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson will be made public once the probe is concluded. There is no timetable for that.
Richardson has been accused of workplace misconduct and in December said he was selling the team.
The league hopes a buyer can be found in the next few weeks, vetted and then presented for approval at the May meetings.
—While there were discussions in Orlando about the NFL’s national anthem policy, Goodell said the focus was more on implementing social justice platforms in tandem with the players. Potential changes to that policy could come in May.
—Owners passed two more rules changes.
Most noteworthy, the league eliminated the requirement that a team that scores a winning touchdown at the end of regulation kick the extra point or go for a 2-point conversion.
In a January playoff game that Minnesota memorably won on a final pass play, New Orleans players were required to return to the field after leaving for a meaningless extra point. The Vikings took a knee.
Of course, bettors and fantasy players could have a stake in the PAT, but neither participating team did, particularly now that points scored or points differential is so low in any tiebreaking procedures.
The owners also approved closing an overtime loophole that could have been embarrassing had it ever occurred.
Now, if the team that gets the ball first scores a field goal, then the opponent loses possession by an interception or fumble on its first series, the down will be permitted to run to its conclusion, including awarding points scored by either team during the down.
Previously, the turnover ended the game regardless — even though the team getting the takeaway conceivably could itself turn over the ball on that play and see it returned for a score by the opponent.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP—NFL
BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summit with China’s Xi Jinping (all times local):
U.S. President Donald Trump says there’s “a good chance” that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will “do what is right for his people and for humanity” and make moves toward peace.
In a pair of tweets early Wednesday, Trump said Chinese President Xi Jinping told him a meeting Xi had with Kim this week “went very well.”
Trump said that according to Xi, the North Korean leader “looks forward” to meeting the American president. The White House has said Trump plans to meet Kim by May amid nuclear tensions between the two nations.
Trump said that meanwhile “and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!”
North Korea’s state TV has aired a 40-minute report on leader Kim Jong Un’s Beijing summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping without any video of their meetings.
Footage released earlier Wednesday by China Central Television showed Kim appearing reserved and collected as he sat at a long table holding talks with Xi. The imagery was a stark contrast to the loose and jovial manner Kim seemed to have in his own state media’s coverage of his meeting with South Korean envoys in Pyongyang earlier this month.
Two North Korean TV anchors alternated reading text reports about the meeting that was published hours earlier by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. KCNA released still photos of the Beijing meetings.
North Korean media also did not report Kim’s comments in Chinese media about his supposed dedication to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and willingness to open talks with the United States.
With smiles and firm handshakes, North Korea and China are using a surprise summit this week to show that despite recent tensions, Pyongyang still has a powerful backer and Beijing will not be sidelined in discussions about the fate of its unpredictable neighbor.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s secretive talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing appear aimed at improving both countries’ positions ahead of Kim’s anticipated meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Donald Trump in the coming weeks.
Although China sought to keep Kim’s visit secret, and Wednesday described it as “unofficial,” it accorded him full honors due to a head of state, including a formal welcoming ceremony and troop review at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.
Japan’s prime minister has reiterated that any talks with North Korea must end its nuclear weapons program, following an unexpected meeting this week between the leaders of North Korea and China.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary committee Wednesday that Japan has great interest in what happened and hopes to receive an explanation from China.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Chinese President Xi Jinping on a visit to Beijing that caught most of the world by surprise.
Abe said that “what’s important is not dialogue for dialogue’s sake, but to achieve nuclear and missile dismantling in a completely verifiable and irreversible way.”
He added that sanctions on North Korea must be maintained until it takes concrete actions toward that end.
The White House says the Chinese government contacted them Tuesday to tell U.S. officials about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s visit to China.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the briefing included a “personal message from President Xi to President Trump,” which was conveyed to the president. She did not say what that message entails.
She’s stressing the U.S. has been in close contact with South Korea and Japan and sees the development “as further evidence that our campaign of maximum pressure is creating the appropriate atmosphere for dialogue with North Korea.”
Trump earlier this month agreed to direct talks with Kim. Officials have yet to set a date.
China’s official news agency is citing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as saying that Pyongyang is “determined” to improve ties with South Korea and “willing” to hold a summit with the U.S.
Xinhua News Agency said Kim told Chinese President Xi Jinping that North Korea is working to ease tensions and propose peace talks. The report Wednesday followed Kim’s brief visit to Beijing this week.
Without directly quoting him, Xinhua cited Kim as saying that North Korea is “determined” to improve ties with Seoul and hold a summit between the heads of the two sides.
Xinhua described Kim as saying that North Korea is willing to hold a summit with the United States.
South Korea and Chinese media have confirmed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has visited China.
It was Kim’s first known visit to a foreign country since he took power after his father’s death in late 2011.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday that Kim made an unofficial visit to China and met with President Xi Jinping at the Chinese leader’s request.
The short trip saw a North Korean train enter China on Monday but was otherwise cloaked in secrecy.
The train looked like one used by Kim’s father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
BEIJING (AP) — With smiles and firm handshakes, North Korea and China used a surprise summit this week to show that despite recent tensions, Pyongyang still has a powerful backer and Beijing will not be sidelined in discussions about the fate of its unpredictable neighbor.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s secretive talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing — which were not confirmed until after his return home — appear aimed at improving both countries’ positions ahead of Kim’s anticipated meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump in the coming weeks.
A key objective for Beijing is to reassert its relevance to the talks, from which it has been excluded. China has appeared increasingly shut out as its relations with the North deteriorated and Pyongyang reached out to Seoul and Washington.
“Kim Jong Un’s visit shows that China is not marginalized, but playing a leading role. This saves China a lot of face,” said Pang Zhongying, a North Korea expert at Renmin University in Beijing.
“North Korea once again is taking advantage of China,” Pang said. “It plays the China card, showing South Korea and the U.S.: China is still my ally.”
Official reports from both countries on Wednesday depicted in effusive terms warm ties between the leaders in an effort to downplay recent tensions over Kim’s development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
In the reports, “Kim reaffirms the traditional friendship between the two countries as if nothing had ever happened, when the relationship had plummeted to unprecedented lows,” said Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Ties in recent months have frayed as China supported tougher U.N. sanctions on North Korea and suspended coal and iron ore imports. Pyongyang last year seemingly sought to humiliate Beijing by timing some of its missile tests for major global summits in China.
Kim made the visit to China at Xi’s invitation, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said, in his first trip to a foreign country since he took power in 2011. Xinhua said the trip ran from Sunday to Wednesday but appeared to include travel time from Pyongyang on the special armored train that Kim traveled on, which secretly arrived in Beijing on Monday and left Tuesday afternoon.
Rumors of Kim’s presence began circulating on Monday night, with the spotting of his special train, Chinese security teams and official delegations at the border city of Dandong and various points in Beijing.
Although China sought to keep Kim’s visit secret, and described it Wednesday as “unofficial,” it accorded him full honors due to a head of state, including a formal welcoming ceremony and troop review at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.
Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, also hosted a banquet for Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and they watched an art performance together, Xinhua said.
“We speak highly of this visit,” Xi told Kim, according to Xinhua.
For China, the visit also projects to its public that Xi is firmly in charge of steering Beijing’s relations with North Korea in a way that favors China’s interests.
“Here is Xi Jinping saying, ‘Don’t worry, everything is going to be great,'” Glaser said.
Trump tweeted Wednesday that he had received a message from Xi saying that his meeting with Kim “went very well” and that Kim “looks forward to his meeting with me.”
“For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility,” he tweeted. “Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!”
Ahead of the planned meeting, however, satellite images of North Korea’s main nuclear site indicated it has begun preliminary testing of an experimental light water reactor and possibly brought another reactor online. Both could be used to produce the fissile materials needed for nuclear bombs.
According to Jane’s Intelligence Review, the experimental reactor could become operational with “little warning later in 2018 or in 2019.”
In a separate report on 38 North, a website that specializes in North Korea news and analysis, experts said images of the other reactor suggest it was brought into operation very recently. That would mean “North Korea has resumed production of plutonium presumably for its nuclear weapons program,” it said.
Analysts say Kim would have felt a need to consult with China ahead of summits with Moon and Trump. His famously reclusive father, Kim Jong Il, made his first visit to China as North Korean leader in May 2000, reportedly to consult with the Chinese leadership ahead of his summit with South Korea’s then-leader, Kim Dae-jung.
China would not want Kim Jong Un’s first foreign meeting to be with someone other than Xi.
“This is China asserting its regional hegemony and influence, saying, ‘Hey, you talk to me first,'” said Michael Kovrig, senior adviser for Northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group.
In video aired by China’s state broadcaster China Central Television, Kim appeared reserved and collected as he sat at a long table across from Xi. Kim wore horn-rimmed glasses and was shown jotting down notes and speaking in a calm manner. In contrast, while meeting with South Korean envoys earlier this month, Kim was shown by his state media frequently smiling, bursting into laughter, proposing toasts and waving at departing limousines.
Kim was described by Xinhua as saying that his country wants “reconciliation and cooperation” with South Korea, with which it is technically still at war. He also said North Korea is willing to hold a summit with the United States, according to Xinhua.
North Korean state media, however, didn’t carry Kim’s comment about his plans to talk with the United States. The North has yet to officially confirm its interest in a summit between Kim and Trump.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency published Kim’s personal letter to Xi, dated Wednesday, in which he said he was satisfied that the leaders confirmed their “unified opinions” on mutual issues.
Kim also called for more meetings with Xi and other Chinese officials and asked Xi to visit North Korea at a time convenient for him, to which Xi “gladly accepted,” KCNA said.
“For the North Koreans, it is in their best interests to enter any meetings with Moon or Trump having shored up and repaired to a certain extent their relations with Beijing,” said Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing.
The North’s diplomatic outreach this year follows a tense 2017 when it conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date and tested three intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to target the U.S. mainland.
The developments are being interpreted as the North being desperate to break out of isolation and improve its economy after being squeezed by heavy sanctions. Analysts think Kim may have been seeking promises from Beijing that it wouldn’t hit the North too hard with sanctions if the talks with Washington and Seoul fall apart and the North starts testing nuclear weapons and missiles again.
“At least one of the things that Kim would want out of these meetings is a way forward to begin to ease those sanctions and support from China in that effort,” said Glaser, the Asia expert.
China remains North Korea’s only major ally and chief provider of energy, aid and trade that keep the country’s broken economy afloat.
In addition to the trip being his first abroad as leader, Kim’s talk with Xi was his first meeting with a foreign head of state. Kim’s father had visited China several times during his rule, lastly in May 2011, months before his death that December.
“It’s most proper that my first overseas trip would be the capital of the People’s Republic of China,” Kim Jong Un said, according to the North’s KCNA. “It’s also one of my noble duties to value the North Korea-China friendship as I do my own life.”
Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea. Associated Press writers Foster Klug in Seoul, and Christopher Bodeen and researcher Shanshan Wang in Beijing contributed to this report.
ATLANTA (AP) — Cameron Reddish has known since ninth grade, when Penn State offered him a full scholarship, that he was a special basketball talent.
Three years later, Reddish and some of the top prep players in the country will play in Wednesday night’s McDonald’s All-American game. Reddish and some of his Duke-bound teammates in the prestigious game are all aware of the scandal that’s rocked college basketball this season with the FBI investigating corruption that led to criminal charges against assistant coaches, agents, apparel company employees and others.
“It’s crazy, it’s dirty, it’s kind of messed up,” Reddish told The Associated Press. “That’s a lot of grown men trying to get one over on young kids, so it’s a really messed up business, but at the end of the day you have to stay trustworthy to who you know.”
Reddish, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Tre Jones are part of the Blue Devils’ recruiting class, considered the best in the nation.
They all say strong support systems have helped them steer clear of any unwanted contact.
Williamson, a South Carolina prep sensation with YouTube fan videos that have been viewed millions of times, understands how a teenager could get caught up in the whirlwind of attention. But Williamson said he never was tempted to meet with anyone who could possibly put his career in jeopardy.
He credits his stepfather, former Clemson player Lee Anderson, and his mother, Sharonda Sampson, with keeping unwelcome people from getting close.
“I don’t think it’s right because they’re high school kids,” Williamson told The AP. “Some high school kids haven’t seen a lot of money at once. They take the bait for it and the next thing you know, they find themselves in a situation where they can’t go to a dream school that they’ve dreamed of going to since they were a kid. They have to go overseas and probably won’t enjoy it as much as college.
“I think agents can wait until the kid says he’s declaring for the draft.”
Barrett, considered the nation’s top recruit, said he’s been fortunate to have enough support so that he can focus on school and basketball. His father, Rowan Barrett, is an executive vice president and former assistant general manager of Canada Basketball.
“I’ve kind of seen some of the stuff, but I haven’t paid too much attention,” R.J. Barrett said.
Rowan Barrett said there’s a reason for that.
“You always hear things and you’re mindful and all that, but I think for us and our family, our focus is on getting better,” Rowan Barrett said. “If you get better, all that stuff will be there later for you.”
Kansas signee Quentin Grimes said he supports an NCAA commission, led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, that was recently convened and will try to find ways to reform and modernize rules in college basketball.
But Grimes believes the best way to avoid unwanted contact is to rely on his gut instincts and discuss anything questionable with his parents and coaches.
“My mom is in finance and she knows not to have contact or take money from those people,” Grimes said. “She does a pretty good job of keeping those people away from me.”
Grimes said his mother Tonja did her due diligence with every school, trying to ensure he wouldn’t be affected by the federal probe once he got on campus.
“I think that’s a rumor for every school, but she asked every coach that was in my final four about the rumors,” Grimes said, “and every coach just straight up kept it real with her and said that doesn’t happen there and if it did that I should go somewhere else.”
More AP college basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org ; https://twitter.com/AP—Top25 and https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-special-events