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    New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday he will sign legislation allowing terminally ill patients to seek life-ending medication. New Jersey will join six other states and the District of Columbia that have similar laws once the bill is signed. 'Allowing terminally ill and dying residents the dignity to make end-of-life decisions according to their own consciences is the right thing to do. I look forward to signing this legislation into law,' Murphy, a Democrat, said in a statement after the Democrat-led Assembly and Senate passed the measure in close votes. Lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully since at least 2012 to advance the legislation. The bill got some attention in New Jersey in 2014 around the time that 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, who was terminally ill with brain cancer, was in the national spotlight. Maynard drew news coverage after publicizing that she and her husband, Dan Diaz, moved to Portland, Oregon, from Northern California so she could use the Oregon law to end her life on her own terms. Under the bill, adult New Jersey residents with a prognosis of six months or less to live could request the life-ending medication. The legislation includes several measures that legislators called 'safeguards.' They include requiring patients to make two requests, along with a chance to rescind the request. Supporters say the new law would let qualified patients decide to end their own lives in a dignified manner. 'There is no good reason for them to be forced to prolong their pain and suffering or to prolong the grief of their loved ones if they make that choice,' Democratic state Sen. Nicholas Scutari said in a statement. Opponents argue the bill will hurt the most vulnerable in society and that the state should instead work to improve its health care system. 'New Jersey ought to be investing in better care and support at the end of life, not enshrining this dangerous public policy into law,' Matt Valliere, executive director of Patients Rights Action Fund, said in a statement. Murphy didn't specify when he will sign the bill. The measure passed the Assembly 41-33, with 4 abstentions. It cleared the Senate 21-16. California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and D.C. all have similar legislation.
  • The Latest on the arrest of attorney Michael Avenatti (all times local): 3:10 p.m. CNN has cut ties with Mark Geragos just hours after the celebrity attorney was named as a co-conspirator in a case accusing lawyer Michael Avenatti of trying to extort Nike. A CNN representative confirmed Monday that Geragos is no longer a contributor to the network but didn't specify why. His name is no longer listed on CNN's website as a legal analyst. Geragos appeared on CNN this month to discuss the case against his client Jussie Smollett, an actor accused of fabricating a racist, anti-gay attack in Chicago. A person familiar with details of the Avenatti investigation tells The Associated Press that a co-conspirator was Geragos. The Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer didn't respond to messages seeking comment. Prosecutors say Avenatti and an unnamed attorney tried to shake down Nike for as much as $25 million by threatening the company with bad publicity. — Associated Press reporter Christopher Weber in Los Angeles and Larry Neumeister in New York ___ 1:50 p.m. A person familiar with details of the Michael Avenatti extortion investigation tells The Associated Press that celebrity attorney Mark Geragos is a co-conspirator in the case. Prosecutors say in court papers that an unnamed attorney joined Avenatti in demanding that Nike pay millions of dollars, or risk being embarrassed by a scandal involving its sponsorship of an amateur basketball team. They described the attorney as a co-conspirator but didn't charge him with a crime. The person knowledgeable about the case tells the AP that co-conspirator was Geragos, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not made public by prosecutors. Geragos's clients have included Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Scott Peterson and most recently Jussie Smollett. Geragos didn't respond to messages seeking comment. — Associated Press reporter Larry Neumeister in New York ___ 1:12 p.m. Nike says it has been cooperating with the federal government's ongoing investigation of college basketball for more than a year. The company issued a statement Monday saying it 'will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant to a government investigation.' The statement followed the arrest of celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti on federal extortion charges. Federal prosecutors say Avenatti threatened to hold a news conference to announce damaging allegations against Nike if the company didn't pay him more than $20 million. Nike officials told investigators Avenatti claimed to know of rules violations by an amateur basketball team sponsored by the company. Nike said it 'believes in ethical and fair play, both in business and sports, and will continue to assist the prosecutors.' Avenatti also is charged in Los Angeles with bank and wire fraud. He's accused of embezzling a client's money to pay his own expenses. ___ 12:25 p.m. Federal prosecutors in New York say their investigation of the firebrand attorney Michael Avenatti began only last week and was complete in days. At a news conference Monday in Manhattan, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said the apparel giant Nike contacted his office March 19 and claimed that Avenatti was trying to extort the company. Nike officials told investigators Avenatti claimed to know of rules violations by an amateur basketball team sponsored by Nike. They said he threatened to make the wrongdoing public unless the company paid him tens of millions of dollars. Berman says investigators recorded subsequent discussions between Nike and Avenatti, then arrested him Monday on extortion conspiracy charges. Avenatti was in custody Monday and not responding to phone calls or texts. Nike Inc. did not respond to a request for comment. ___ 12:15 p.m. A federal prosecutor says there's no political connection to wire and bank fraud charges filed against lawyer Michael Avenatti, who's a vocal critic of President Donald Trump. U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna in Los Angeles says the charges announced Monday began with Internal Revenue Service tax collection efforts and came to prosecutors in an ordinary way. The case alleges in part that Avenatti collected a $1.6 million settlement for a client and used it for his own interests. Hanna says the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with the weekend release of a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Trump's campaign. Hanna says he had no idea when the Mueller report would be presented. Avenatti is best known for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against Trump and also is charged with extortion in New York. ___ 11:55 a.m. Porn star Stormy Daniels says she's 'saddened but not shocked' over the arrest of her former attorney, Michael Avenatti.   Daniels 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 wouldn't elaborate.  Avenatti is best known for representing Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump and has been charged with extortion in New York and bank and wire fraud in California.   Avenatti represented Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in a lawsuit to break a confidentiality agreement to speak about her alleged affair with Trump.   An email to Avenatti's office and phone and text messages sent to his phone seeking comment haven't been immediately returned. ___ 11:40 a.m. U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna in Los Angeles says lawyer Michael Avenatti could face up to 50 years in prison if convicted on wire and bank fraud charges. The critic of President Donald Trump and private attorney who formerly represented porn star Stormy Daniels was arrested Monday in New York on federal charges there and in California. Hanna says the case filed in Los Angeles on Friday and unsealed Monday paints 'an ugly picture of lawless conduct and greed.' Hanna says the case had nothing to do with politics and the facts speak for themselves. He says the Mueller report had nothing to with the timing of the announcement. The case alleges in part that Avenatti collected a $1.6 million settlement for a client and used it for his own interests. ___ 10:25 a.m. U.S. prosecutors have charged Trump critic and attorney Michael Avenatti with extortion and bank and wire fraud. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles said Avenatti was arrested Monday in New York. Spokesman Ciaran McEvoy says the lawyer best known for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump faces federal charges in New York and California. In New York, he was accused of threatening to use his ability to get publicity to harm Nike. Prosecutors say he demanded that the apparel company give him $10 million. Prosecutors in California planned to release more details at a news conference later Monday. Avenatti represented Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in a lawsuit to break a confidentiality agreement to speak about her alleged affair with Trump.
  • Gun rights groups are asking the Supreme Court to stop the Trump administration from beginning to enforce its ban on bump stock devices, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns. The groups asked the court Monday to get involved in the issue and keep the government from beginning to enforce the ban for now. The ban set to go into effect Tuesday has put the Trump administration in the unusual position of arguing against gun rights groups. It's unclear how quickly the court will act. President Donald Trump said last year that the government would move to ban bump stocks. The action followed a 2017 shooting in Las Vegas in which a gunman attached bump stocks to assault-style rifles he used to shoot concertgoers. Fifty-eight people were killed.
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller had two key questions before him: Did the Trump campaign collude with the Russian government during the 2016 election, and did President Donald Trump commit obstruction of justice? On the collusion question, Mueller provided an unambiguous 'no.' But on obstruction, he punted. It's a decision that's puzzled some former Justice Department officials who say prosecutors at Mueller's level typically make their own charging recommendations rather than leave them to higher-ups. By not acting, Mueller left the politically charged obstruction question in the hands of a Trump appointee, Attorney General William Barr, who even before he took office expressed skepticism about whether the president's action constituted a crime. On Sunday, Barr said there was insufficient evidence Trump obstructed justice by trying to interfere with Mueller's probe. Barr's decision to exonerate Trump on the obstruction issue — when Mueller pointedly didn't — is being cited by Democrats as they press for the release of Mueller's entire report. It is likely to revive scrutiny of the attorney general's own views on obstruction and presidential power, which he shared with the White House before his nomination in December. 'I find this to be very unusual that there was this question left open and presented by the special counsel,' said Tim Purdon, the former United States attorney for North Dakota during the Obama administration. 'As U.S. attorney, usually you have the last say. You're the decider, you decide what to do.' 'But of course,' Purdon added, 'these are unusual circumstances.' Among those unusual circumstances: Justice Department legal opinions say sitting presidents cannot be indicted. Barr said he and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, did not consider that fact in concluding that Trump didn't obstruct justice, but it's not clear whether Mueller had. Obstruction of justice also requires proof of criminal intent, which may have been hard for prosecutors to establish without an in-person interview with Trump. Washington defense lawyer Jacob Frenkel said the evidence 'was sufficiently ambiguous on the issue of criminal intent.' Combining that with the department's policy against prosecuting a sitting president, Frenkel noted that a more definitive finding 'may satisfy political pundits and the public but may not serve a true Department of Justice interest' in determining whether or not to pursue charges. Mueller's team told Barr and Rosenstein about three weeks ago that it would not reach a conclusion on obstruction, according to a Justice Department official who said the decision was unexpected. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity Monday to discuss private conversations, would not say whether Mueller had asked or invited Barr to substitute his own judgment. Rosenstein had been heavily involved in the investigation since appointing Mueller as special counsel in May 2017. Barr's decision to weigh in on the obstruction issue is noteworthy because of an unsolicited memo he sent in June to the Justice Department and shared with White House lawyers, making known his views on obstruction and presidential power. He criticized the theory of obstruction that Mueller appeared to be pursuing as 'fatally misconceived,' including scrutiny of the president's firing of former FBI director James Comey. Barr argued that if Mueller concluded actions the president is generally legally permitted to do could constitute obstruction because of a subjective determination that they were done with corrupt intent, the decision could be disastrous for the presidency and the Justice Department. Barr defended the memo during his confirmation hearing in January, saying it was narrowly focused on a single theory of obstruction that media reports suggested Mueller might be considering. Responding to lawmakers' questions, Barr said he believed a president can commit obstruction by destroying evidence or tampering with witnesses. The obstruction question had long been central to Mueller's investigation. Prosecutors examined a series of actions by the president, including his firing of Comey and his drafting of an incomplete explanation about his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer, to determine whether Trump had tried to hamper the inquiry. Barr's four-page summary to Congress on Sunday did not explain why Mueller failed to reach a conclusion on obstruction. Mueller was not involved in drafting the document. The summary did say the special counsel's report 'sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the special counsel views as 'difficult issues of law and facts' concerning whether the president's actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction.' Mueller said in his report that he had not concluded whether the president had committed a crime, according to Barr's summary. Robert Clark Corrente, a former U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island, said he was taken aback by the reference to 'both sides of the question,' which he said called to mind former Comey's assertion that Hillary Clinton should not be prosecuted for mishandling classified email despite being 'extremely careless.' 'If you're a prosecutor of any stripe, federal or state, it's your burden to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt,' Corrente said. 'It really doesn't matter that there's evidence on both sides.' Mueller's insinuation that there were actions that troubled his team left Democrats asking whether Trump's behavior had been effectively whitewashed. 'Congress must now determine the risks to national security, whether there was misconduct or abuse of power, whether existing laws are sufficient to deter and punish election interference, and what next steps are appropriate,' Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Senate Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, wrote on Monday to Barr. 'A four-page summary of special counsel Mueller's extensive investigation and report, with no underlying evidence or findings, is not adequate to accomplish our constitutional, legislative and oversight responsibilities.
  • Holding a copy of the New York Times to the camera on Monday, a giddy Steve Doocy of Fox News Channel said the headline about special counsel Robert Mueller's findings in the Russia investigation 'probably killed whoever had to type this.' Motivated by the typical soul-searching that can accompany the climax of a major story, or simple revenge, the performance of news professionals quickly became an issue following Mueller's conclusion that he could find no evidence of a conspiracy by President Donald Trump and his campaign team to work with the Russians to influence the 2016 election. At issue: did some news organizations spend too much time or leap to premature conclusions about Trump's potential involvement? 'It is the worst journalistic debacle of my lifetime and I've been in this business about 50 years,' said Fox analyst and former Washington bureau chief Brit Hume. 'I've never seen anything quite this bad last this long.' The National Review criticized CNN and MSNBC for routinely taking stories about the investigation from the Times and Washington Post and blowing them up into major stories. The Review said it would be nice if some people involved in the coverage admitted they were wrong, but isn't expecting it. Trump retweeted a 'Fox & Friends' segment on Monday titled 'Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald J. Trump.' Even some liberals, like journalist Glenn Greenwald, offered criticism. Money earned by MSNBC hosts 'won't erase the role they played in going on the air every day and manipulating people's fears and disseminating a false conspiracy theory that rewarded them greatly.' Reporter Matt Taibbi, who also suggested several reporters and commentators connected too many dots that didn't add up, wrote that nothing Trump is accused of going forward will be believed by a large segment of the population. 'Imagine how tone-deaf you'd have to be not to realize it makes you look bad, when news does not match audience expectations,' he wrote. Representatives for CNN and MSNBC declined comment Monday on their coverage. Defenders cautioned against lumping a diverse media ecosystem all together. If there's a multi-million dollar investigation into whether a president colluded with a foreign power to influence a national election, is that a story that journalists are supposed to ignore? Americans would have been far worse off if reporters had not dug into connections between Russians and Trump's associates, including his sons, wrote Margaret Sullivan, media columnist for the Washington Post. The reporting has not been invalidated by Mueller's findings, she wrote. Sullivan is worried that a backlash will cause some news organizations to take the edge off their coverage of the president. They shouldn't back down, but at the same time should also spend more time on subjects like health care and the economy that Americans care about, she wrote. It makes no sense to expect the media to not have been aggressive, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, communications professor and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. 'They were covering a process, and the process was providing regular news, including indictments,' she said. The issue was also clearly on the president's mind, given how many times he tweeted 'no collusion' and sent his lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, on media interviews to talk about. Each reporter and news organization should take the time to examine coverage, said Tom Bettag, a longtime 'Nightline' executive producer and now a professor of journalism at the University of Maryland. At the same time, he doesn't think the press needs to apologize and any individual mistakes couldn't compare to a system-wide failure in the run-up to the Iraq War. For the most part, reporters did not know what Mueller was going to come up with and that was reflected in the coverage, Bettag said. Jamieson, author of 'Cyber Wars: How Russian Trolls and Hackers Helped Elect a President,' faults the media for failing to pay enough attention to what Russia actually did in 2016 and pushing politicians to make sure it doesn't happen again. 'I don't know what the press is going to do when it is confronted with hacking again,' she said.
  • Apple trotted out few details on its long-awaiting streaming service on Monday, but it didn't skimp on high-wattage celebrity. Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Aniston were part of a parade of A-listers who took the stage at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, where the main attractions are usually the company's latest high-tech gadgets. This time, though, it was the likes of Big Bird and Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa, who took the spotlight at Apple's latest live-streamed product launch. 'I'm joining forces with Apple,' declared Winfrey. 'They're in a billion pockets, y'all.' Apple chief executive Tim Cook gave what he called 'a sneak peek' of the tech giant's plans to transform television viewing and jump — some analysts say belatedly — into the streaming business Netflix has pioneered. The service, dubbed Apple TV Plus, will debut in the fall in more than 100 countries and feature ad-free original series and films. Cook and Apple declined to say how much the nascent streaming service will cost. It was unveiled as an extension of Apple's redesigned TV app, which will bundle third-party services like HBO, CBS and Showtime, along with a user's cable subscription and some streaming services like Hulu. Netflix has said it won't partake. Much of both Hollywood and Silicon Valley had eagerly awaited details on Apple's much-ballyhooed foray into original programming, something the company had been quietly prepping for the last few years — and laying aside at least $1 billion to do so. But it's not the only company readying a rival to Netflix, which spent $12 billion on content last year. The Walt Disney Co. and AT&T's WarnerMedia are both set to unveil their own platforms later this year. Standing out from the pack will be a challenge for each. Disney's streaming service, named Disney-Plus, even bears a plus-symbol just like Apple's service. 'It's not just another streaming service,' said Zack Van Amburg, who along with Jamie Erlicht was hired away from Sony TV to head Apple's video programming. Cook didn't map out how extensive Apple's streaming library will be; it has about two dozen series and a handful of movies in the pipeline. But he promised big ambitions. 'We partnered with the most thoughtful, accomplished and award-winning group of creative visionaries who have ever come together in one place, to create a new service unlike anything that's been done before,' he said. But what the presentation lacked in particulars it sought to make up for with star power and sizzle-reel teases of its upcoming slate. Some of the highlights: — Oprah: Winfrey said she has two documentaries in the works for Apple TV Plus (one on mental health, one on the toll of sexual harassment in the workplace) and is planning 'the most stimulating book club on the planet.' The TV personality, whose book club choices have made dozens of works into instant best-sellers, said the Apple broadcast will include streamed conversations with authors. Winfrey already has her OWN network and 'O'' magazine where she still makes book picks, most recently Michelle Obama's 'Becoming.' ''I am proud to be a part of this platform where I can connect with people around the world to create positive change,' said Winfrey. — 'Amazing Stories': Executive produced by Steve Spielberg, 'Amazing Stories' is a science-fiction anthology series the filmmaker is reviving. It first ran for two seasons from 1985-1987 on NBC. 'We want to transport the audience with every single episode,' said Spielberg. — 'The Morning Show': Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell star in this series about the behind-the-scenes drama at a TV morning show. Witherspoon said it will 'pull back the curtain on men and women in the high-stakes battle of morning television.' It is, notably, Aniston's first time back in television since 'Friends.' ''And I'm really excited about it,' she said. — 'Little America': Kumail Nanjiani unveiled this anthology series based on true-life tales of immigrants or children of immigrants from across the country. 'This is no such thing as the other,' said the comedian-actor-writer. 'There is only us.' — 'See': This post-apocalyptic series stars Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard takes places centuries after a cataclysmic event where all of humanity has lost its sight. Other shows in development include the thriller 'Defending Jacob,' in which Chris Evans plays a father whose 14-year-old son is accused of murder; an untitled drama from M. Night Shyamalan; a series from 'La La Land' director Damien Chazelle; a show about computer coding for preschoolers called 'Helpsters,' with Big Bird; a drama series about youth basketball produced by Kevin Durant; 'Dickinson,' starring Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson; and 'Little Voice,' a show about a young musician produced by J. J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles, who performed the theme song Monday. Apple's nascent movie aims were harder to discern Monday. It previously entered into a partnership with A24, the indie label behind films like 'Moonlight' and 'Lady Bird.' Their first film together is to be 'On the Rocks,' Sofia Coppola's reunion with 'Lost in Translation' star Bill Murray. He plays a larger-than-life father reconnecting with his daughter, played by Rashida Jones. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
  • A widespread new power outage spread across Venezuela on Monday, knocking offline much of the country's communications and stirring fears of a repeat of the chaos almost two weeks ago during the nation's largest-ever blackout. The outage began shortly after 1 p.m. (1700 GMT) and appeared to have affected as many as 16 of Venezuela's 23 states, according to reports on social media. Like the previous outage, officials blamed opponents who with the support of the U.S. had carried out sabotage on the Guri dam — source of the bulk of Venezuela's electricity. They said the 'attack' had already been controlled, with service restored in much of the country already and remaining areas expected to come online in the coming hours. 'The damage that took 5 or 6 days to repair in the electrical system after the first attack carried out by the right-wing we recovered today in a few hours,' Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said in a televised address. But those reassurances, similar to ones last time around, did little to calm the anger of residents in Caracas who even as he was talking filled traffic-clogged streets as they walked their way home after subway service in the capital was suspended Like other small business owners, 27-year-old restaurant manager Lilian Hernandez was bracing for the worst even as service started flickering back on in parts of Caracas. 'We Venezuelans suffer all kinds of problems,' said Hernandez, who had just recently managed to restock food that spoiled during the previous outage. 'We need a real solution that doesn't obey to political interests.' Netblocks, a non-government group based in Europe that monitors internet censorship, said outage had knocked offline around 57 percent of Venezuela's telecommunications infrastructure. The Trump administration, which has made no secret of its desire to remove the embattled socialist, has denied any role in the outages. Electricity experts and opposition leader Juan Guaido faults years of government graft and incompetence. 'This outage is evidence that the dictator is incapable of resolving the crisis,' Guaido wrote on Twitter Monday. Meanwhile, as Venezuela's economic and political crisis deepens, many seem resigned to continuous disruptions in their daily routines. 'The important thing is for people not to get desperate,' said William Rodriguez, who sells books at a kiosk under a downtown highway overpass. Meanwhile, the U.S. government warned Russia that the reported dispatch of military personnel to Venezuela was increasing tensions there. U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday and said 'the United States and regional countries will not stand idly by' while Russia takes steps to support its ally, Maduro. Pompeo's call came after a Venezuelan official said Russian aircraft arrived in Caracas this weekend as part of ongoing military cooperation. Reports that two Russian air force planes arrived could not be independently confirmed. The U.S. and dozens of other countries support Guaido, who says Maduro's re-election last year was rigged. Maduro alleges the U.S. and Guaido are plotting a coup.
  • The government says 11.4 million people have signed up for coverage this year under former President Barack Obama's health law. That's just a slight dip from 2018. Despite the Trump administration's ongoing hostility to 'Obamacare,' a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released on Monday found remarkably steady enrollment— down only about 300,000 consumers. Still, the number of new customers fell by more than 500,000. That's a worrisome sign for backers of the Affordable Care Act. They say the Trump administration's cuts to the ad budget and repeal of a requirement that people get insured will gradually eat away at the program. The federal health insurance market, HealthCare.gov, has lost more than 1 million customers since President Donald Trump took office. State markets are holding their own.
  • The path to the Final Four will not be easy for Zion Williamson, Luke Maye, De'Andre Hunter and the other top-seeded stars in the NCAA Tournament. For the first time in a decade, the remaining tournament field entering the Sweet 16 looks a lot like the one set on Selection Sunday. The headlining teams are still around after avoiding upsets — some pretty serious scares, too. Hello, Duke! — during an opening weekend that went unusually according to plan. Fourteen of the top 16, including all of the No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds, reached the regional semifinals. The last time that happened was 2009. The Atlantic Coast, Southeastern and Big Ten conferences gobbled up 12 of the 16 slots, with the ACC having a national-best five teams — led by top seeds Duke, Virginia and North Carolina — followed by the SEC's four and the Big Ten's three. Here is a look at the updated paths in each region to reach the Final Four in Minneapolis: EAST Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, yet the Blue Devils are fortunate to still be alive after UCF had two shots for the win roll off the rim in the final seconds Sunday. 'We had a lot of foul trouble, and we are young, and we're not deep,' Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, 'but we're good.' And now the Blue Devils (31-5) face a regional bracket in Washington that still has the top four seeds. Duke faces No. 4 seed and fellow ACC member Virginia Tech (26-8), a rematch from one of Duke's losses during the nearly six full games that Williamson, the star freshman, was out with a knee injury. Yet the Hokies — in the tournament's second weekend for the second time in program history — will have point guard Justin Robinson, who missed 12 games with a foot injury and didn't play in that February win. Friday's other semifinal will be No. 2 seed Michigan State (30-6) against No. 3 seed LSU (28-6) — which is still without suspended coach Will Wade amid a federal investigation into corruption within the sport. WEST Gonzaga, too, sits atop a 1-2-3-4 bracket. The Zags (32-3) had little trouble reaching a national-best fifth straight Sweet 16. Now they find themselves in a familiar scenario: playing Florida State in the regional semifinals for the second straight year. The fourth-seeded Seminoles (29-7) won last year's meeting and have plenty of confidence after beating Virginia in the ACC Tournament semifinals. 'I thought they were really, really underseeded,' Gonzaga coach Mark Few said, adding: 'You have to beat really good teams to advance in this thing. So, we knew we were going to have to play somebody really good, and Florida State is no doubt that.' Thursday's other semifinal in Anaheim, California, could be a rugged fight between No. 2 seed Michigan (30-6) and No. 3 seed Texas Tech (28-6). They're the top two teams in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency ratings, with the Red Raiders first (85.3 points allowed per 100 possessions) followed by the Wolverines (85.8). SOUTH Virginia is finally free of its UMBC failure. The Cavaliers spent the year playing in the shadow of last year's first-round loss to UMBC, the only 16-vs-1 upset in tournament history. And they were confronted with it again when they trailed No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb by 14 in the first half of Friday's game. But Virginia found its steady, defensive-minded form after halftime , then beat Oklahoma to return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2016. 'You talk about trying to focus in and then getting down, it was real,' coach Tony Bennett said. 'So I think those guys will have that as something they can always draw upon to say we faced a giant and battled through it.' Now Virginia (31-3) faces No. 12 seed Oregon, the only double-digit seed left in a heavyweight field, in pursuit of its first Final Four trip under Bennett. Thursday's other semifinal in Louisville, Kentucky, has No. 2 seed Tennessee (31-5) meeting No. 3 seed Purdue (25-9) after eventful second-round games for both. The Vols survived in overtime against Iowa after blowing a 25-point lead to return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2014. As for the Boilermakers, Carsen Edwards had a career-best 42 points in a rout of 2018 champion Villanova. MIDWEST Top-seeded North Carolina (29-6) leads a bracket that nearly went chalk, with No. 5 seed Auburn joining Oregon as the only surviving teams from outside the top 16 seeds. Yet the biggest question surrounding Friday's games in Kansas City hovers around No. 2 seed Kentucky and PJ Washington. The Wildcats' leading scorer and rebounder missed the first two NCAA games while wearing a hard cast on his sprained left foot. 'I know this, he really wants to play,' Kentucky coach John Calipari said before a second-round win against Wofford. 'But I also want to feel comfortable that if he gets on the court that there's nothing he can do to himself, and the doctors have pretty much said that. So it's just, 'OK, when is it healed enough that he can go?'' The Wildcats (29-6) meet third-seeded Houston (33-3), which set a school record for wins when they beat Ohio State on Sunday. In the other semifinal, UNC looks to keep rolling when it faces the Tigers (28-9) — who peaked at No. 7 in the AP Top 25 in December, fell out of the poll, then had a late-season surge to win the SEC Tournament and blow out Kansas on Saturday. ___ More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/MarchMadness and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25 ___ Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
  • A Filipino woman who helped shelter former NSA contractor Edward Snowden when he fled to Hong Kong has been granted refugee status in Canada. Lawyer Robert Tibbo said that his client Vanessa Rodel and her daughter Keana would arrive in Canada on Monday. Tibbo represented Rodel as she sought asylum in Hong Kong in 2013 due to an alleged kidnap and rape by militants in her homeland. The attorney asked her to help Snowden hide out there after he leaked documents revealing extensive U.S. government surveillance. Tibbo said Hong Kong rejected Rodel's asylum request and since then officials there have grilled her over her contacts with Snowden, who now lives in exile in Russia. Tibbo and a nonprofit group called For the Refugees wants Canada to accept five others who helped Snowden. Snowden's lawyer decided to go public with the identities of the refugees after learning that movie director Oliver Stone had found out about them and would incorporate their role into his film on Snowden, which was released in 2016. The three families, who didn't realize they were harboring one of the world's most wanted figures at the time, said they feared being sent back. 'Since that became public they have been targeted by the Hong Kong government who called up all of their refugee claimants and denied them all on the same day after about a half hour,' For the Refugees spokesman Ethan Cox said. 'They have had their support payments cut off. They've only been able to survive off donations to our non-profit.' Tibbo said Snowden is 'extremely happy' that Rodel and her daughter will find safety and security in Canada. 'While we are very happy that Mr. Trudeau's government made the decision to grant Vanessa and her seven-year old daughter refugee status the fact that the Canadian government has left the other families behind is really unsettling,' Tibbo said. 'The Trudeau government should have just simply treated them as one group and brought them in all at one time.' Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she could not comment on privately sponsored refugee applications.