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National

    Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand is calling President Donald Trump a 'coward' who 'punches down' and says that he is 'tearing apart the moral fabric of our country.' Gillibrand is set to say even more about Trump on Sunday as she stands in front of one of his signature New York properties. In what her campaign is calling Gillibrand's first major speech as a presidential candidate, the New York senator says in prepared remarks that the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Manhattan is 'a shrine to greed, division and vanity.' The Associated Press obtained the prepared remarks. Gillibrand is trying to position herself in the crowded field of Democrats seeking the party's nomination. While some hopefuls have shied away from mentioning Trump, Gillibrand has not hesitated to do so. 'He demonizes the vulnerable and he punches down. He puts his name in bold on every building,' Gillibrand says in the prepared remarks. 'He does all of this because he wants you to believe he is strong. He is not. Our president is a coward.' Gillibrand's speech comes as the nation awaits the key findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, which has loomed over Trump's presidency. Attorney General William Barr is preparing to release the investigation's 'principal findings' to Congress on Sunday. Gillibrand has said that Mueller's report should be made public quickly and that, regardless of what the report says, it's clear that Trump has undermined American democracy. The speech in front of the Trump International Hotel & Tower appears to be a re-launch of Gillibrand's campaign. She announced last January that she was exploring a run, then spent months traveling the country campaigning and raising money. In her remarks for Sunday, Gillibrand praises the bravery of high school students organizing to end gun violence, young people brought to the country illegally as children who are fighting for 'their right to call this country home,' and 'of course, the formerly well-behaved women who organized, ran for office, voted and won in 2018.' 'That is brave,' she says. Gillibrand also talks about her own courage, which she says is evidenced by her ability to win a House seat in a district seen as a Republican stronghold, by fighting for funds to cover the cost of medical care for rescue workers and survivors of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, and by fighting on behalf of survivors of sexual assault and harassment at the Pentagon, in Congress and on college campuses.
  • A University of Georgia fraternity has been suspended after a video appearing to show some of its members using a racial slur and mocking slavery went viral on social media. (Content warning: The video is attached to the tweet below and includes the racial slur.) The video appears to show one student playfully hitting another with a belt while telling him to “Pick my cotton” and using a racial slur. Further details behind the content of the video have not been reported at this time.  >> Read more trending news In a letter to the student body, UGA’s Student Government Association said Friday evening it was aware of the video being circulated online and that the school’s fraternity chapter has been suspended amid an investigation into the students involved. “The executive officers of the Student Government Association are aware of a video circulating on social media that depicts individuals identified as members of a UGA Greek organization using racist language and engaging in behaviors that mock the suffering of enslaved peoples,” the letter reads. “We have been notified that the chapter is currently suspended, and we can confirm that there is an investigation underway regarding the students involved in the video.” Several Twitter users and media outlets identified the students in the video as members of UGA’s Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. In a statement sent to AJC.com Saturday evening, a spokesman for the fraternity’s national chapter said the organization is “disgusted, appalled and angered” by the four students’ remarks and the students have been expelled from the fraternity. “TKE will not tolerate any actions such as these that would be defined as racist, discriminatory and/or offensive,” the statement reads. “After being alerted to the incident yesterday, Tau Kappa Epsilon professional staff and members of the Xi-Lambda chapter at University of Georgia immediately began a thorough investigation into the actions of these four men.” According to the statement, members determined the video was not recorded during a fraternity function or on chapter premises. “These four individuals acted outside the expectations of our membership and their chapter and therefore were removed from both,” the statement reads. “Temporary suspension is a standard procedure so we can conduct our investigation,” the national chapter said in its statement. The university also released a statement about the incident: “The University of Georgia condemns racism in the strongest terms. Racism has no place on our campus. We will continue our efforts to promote a welcoming and supportive learning environment for our students, faculty and staff.  “The fraternity has been suspended by its national organization.  “Whenever we receive complaints of racist or discriminatory conduct, we refer such matters to our Equal Opportunity Office in accordance with applicable laws and policies.”
  • A Georgia man was fatally shot after debating the 21-foot rule, a self-defense tactic, investigators said. >> Read more trending news  Richard Splichal, 34, and Spencer Warren, 29, were debating how close Splichal could get to Warren before Warren could fire his gun under conditions of the Tueller Drill, which says it takes 1.5 seconds for an attacker to cover 21 feet, the same amount of time it takes to draw and fire a weapon. When Splichal came toward Warren, Warren fired his .357 revolver twice, striking Splichal once in the chest, WFXG reported. Warren was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, WFXG reported.
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller delivered the results of an investigation into possible collusion in the 2016 presidential election to Attorney General William Barr on Friday, ending a two-year saga that, at times, pitted the president against his own Justice Department. >> Jamie Dupree: Waiting on the details of the Mueller report Update 9 p.m. EDT March 23:  Attorney General William Barr scoured special counsel Robert Mueller’s confidential report on the Russia investigation with his advisers Saturday, deciding how much Congress and the American public will get to see about the two-year probe into President Donald Trump and Moscow’s efforts to elect him, according to The Associated Press. Barr was on pace to release his first summary of Mueller’s findings on Sunday, people familiar with the process said. Update 1:50 p.m. EDT March 23: Congress will not receive a summary of Mueller’s finding’s Saturday, multiple media outlets have reported. The Washington Post cited a “senior Justice Department official” for this information, while Politico tweeted that “two sources familiar with the discussion” confirmed the news. President Trump flew Friday to his Mar-a-Lago resort with senior White House officials and lawyers, The Washington Post reported. Original report: The delivery of the report to Barr officially concludes the probe that has cast a shadow over the Trump administration from its earliest days. >> Read more trending news  Trump, who flew to Florida on Friday, has not yet commented on the report. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said the White House would not be seeing the report -- at least not for now. Barr, in a one-page letter, told Congressional leaders he would be able to advise them of the “principal conclusions” of the report as soon as this weekend. In the letter, Barr confirmed that there was no requests made by Mueller to take a specific action – such as subpoenaing a witness – that was not granted by the DOJ. “There were no such instances during the Special Counsel’s investigation.' >>Mueller’s report: Read the letter William Barr sent to members of Congress It is up to Barr how much of the report Congress or the public will be able to see. Trump has said he would not care if the report was released to the public. According to an anonymous DOJ source, there will be no further indictments born out of the investigation, meaning Mueller’s work is done. >> MORE: Who has Robert Mueller already indicted in his investigation? Since the investigation began in May of 2017, Mueller’s team of prosecutors has indicted or accepted plea deals from 35 people. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, issued a joint statement, saying “it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress. . . . The American people have a right to the truth.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Authorities say several crashes involving about 50 vehicles on Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles have sent 12 people to the hospital. The Grapevine section of the interstate was closed as emergency crews responded to the accidents Saturday afternoon. The California Highway Patrol's traffic incident website said the accidents occurred amid thick fog. Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Ron Haralson said a dozen people were transported to the hospital. One was in critical condition, four others sustained minor injuries and seven more had minor injuries. The injured included a 21-month-old child and a horse in trailer that was rear-ended. The Grapevine carries traffic over mountains between greater Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. The wrecks caused traffic on northbound and southbound lanes to back up for miles.
  • Choppy waves and strong gusts of wind from a bad storm Saturday forced the evacuation of 1,300 passengers from a Norwegian cruise ship under extreme circumstances. >> Read more trending news  Passengers, reportedly British and American tourists, were hoisted one by one from the Viking Sky cruise ship into five available helicopters as waves battered the vessel during the slow and dangerous rescue, The Associated Press reported. The storm’s strong wind, nearly 43 mph, and 26-foot waves made evacuation by lifeboat unsafe. About 180 passengers had been evacuated by 6 p.m. Officials said the evacuations would continue throughout the evening and into Sunday. The Viking Ocean Cruises ship, which was on a 12-day trip that started March 14, was experiencing engine problems, and the crew feared it would run aground. They were able to anchor the ship for the evacuations to take place. Late Saturday evening three of the ship’s four engines had been restarted. Later, a cargo ship with nine crew members was in distress and two of the helicopters were diverted to help. All crew of the Hagland Captain were rescued. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
  • Families of the Columbine High School shooting victims gathered at the school on Saturday to tell their stories nearly 20 years after the tragedy, and they spoke of forgiveness, inclusion and healing, and the balm that sometimes only silence can bring. It was on April 20, 1999, that two Columbine students gunned down 12 classmates and a teacher in the Denver suburb of Littleton. A dozen parents, siblings, former students and others who suffered through the ordeal met with reporters ahead of next month's anniversary. Here are some of their stories. ___ Darrell and Sandy Scott Darrell Scott was thinking about forgiveness Saturday. Darrell and Sandy Scott's daughter, Rachel, was killed at Columbine, and they founded a program called Rachel's Challenge in her honor. One principle the program teaches is forgiveness, a path the Scotts chose after Rachel was killed. 'It was a difficult choice, but it's enabled us to help students who are struggling with issues in their own life,' Darrell Scott said. Forgiveness frees you, Scott said. 'And if you don't forgive, you're going to be unforgiving and bitter and angry and seek revenge,' he said. ___ Craig Scott The Scotts' son, Craig, was also a student at Columbine and was at the school the day of the attack. He worries that school shootings have become 'a part of the American psyche.' 'The formula, unfortunately, is, you're bullied at school, so maybe you're going to do a school shooting,' said Scott, who has an organization called Value Up and speaks to students about valuing human life and not turning to violence. 'If you're bullied at school or harassed, that's wrong,' he said. 'But that's also temporary. ... When you choose to go and end somebody's life, that's permanent. That's a permanent judgment.' ___ Frank DeAngelis Frank DeAngelis, who was Columbine's principal at the time of the shooting, wondered aloud how the killers grew so hateful, and whether part of the answer was that they felt excluded. 'We talk about things to make schools safer,' he said, including security cameras and metal detectors. 'But the thing you can't underestimate is making everyone feel welcome, inclusiveness.' Schools are becoming more inclusive, he said, but now they have to fight cyberbullying. 'That's the thing that scares me,' DeAngelis said. 'Now, when someone posts something on this phone, it's there forever, and these kids feel their lives are destroyed forever.' ___ Missy Mendo and Heather Martin Missy Mendo and Heather Martin were Columbine students who escaped the attack physically unhurt, but the emotional trauma kept them away from the school for years. 'I struggled a lot after Columbine,' Martin said. She eventually ventured back to the school on the 10th anniversary of the shootings, in 2009, but Mendo had not returned before this year. Mendo and Martin helped found the Rebels Project — named for the Columbine High School mascot — to help other survivors of mass trauma. That work helped Mendo gather the courage to return Saturday. 'Helping others, knowing that you help them with steps that you had to help yourself through' allowed her to go back, she said. 'And knowing that when we were coming here today, we would be able to let other people know we were here if they needed us.' ___ Tom Mauser For Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was killed at Columbine, the 20th anniversary will be just another day, and a bad one. 'We live it every day,' he said. 'It's a remembrance that we have every day that we lost our son, just like anybody who has lost a child.' But he appreciates that other people want to honor the victims and ask how the survivors are faring. More meaningful than observing anniversaries would be to ask whether society will act to prevent school shootings, Mauser said. 'What resolve do we have to stop this from happening again?' he said. ___ Rick Townsend Rick Townsend, whose daughter Lauren was slain at Columbine, was thinking about kindness and recalling the outpouring of support that the families felt from people around the world. 'There was a time then when people were saying, 'You know, we really need to be nicer to each other. We need to support each other,' ' he said. 'I think that over time some of that's been lost, and I'm not sure why.' ___ Dawn Anna Dawn Anna, Lauren Townsend's mother, said she finds solace by helping others through tragedy. The most important thing, she said, is not to talk but simply be present. She learned that from a friend she described as a 'motor mouth' who came to her house after the Columbine shootings but — to her surprise and relief — said nothing. She only sat with her, occasionally getting up to get her a glass of water. 'Don't say anything, because there's not a single word you can say that's going to mean a thing,' Anna said. 'And then when they're ready, or if they ask a question, then you can start to talk.' ___ Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP.
  • Actress Alyssa Milano is going after Georgia again on Twitter, this time over the “heartbeat” abortion bill passed by the Georgia state Senate on Friday afternoon. >> Read more trending news “There are over 20 productions shooting in GA,” she wrote late Friday, “& the state just voted to strip women of their bodily autonomy. Hollywood! We should stop feeding GA economy.” Milano (“Charmed,” “Project Runway All Stars”) stars in Netflix’s dark pageant comedy “Insatiable,” which debuted last year. Season two is currently in production, and she was on the set Friday in Atlanta. She plays Coralee Huggens-Armstrong, the wife of lead Bob Armstrong, played by Dallas Roberts. She is under contract, and her ability to walk out without facing legal penalty is probably limited.  Last November, after Brian Kemp became governor, defeating Stacey Abrams, Milano also called for Hollywood to pull out of Georgia, calling it a “totally corrupt state” that “suppresses democracy.”  A couple of other actors such as Bradley Whitford and Ron Perlman joined in but her effort died on the Twitter vine.  The generous 30 percent tax credit for TV and film production companies has remained enticing. Currently, 38 movies and TV shows are listed on the Georgia film office site including season four of OWN’s “Greenleaf,” the latest season of “The Real World” on Facebook Watch, “Jumanji 2” starring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, and “Zombieland 2” with Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson.  Although many doctors and women’s rights groups are fighting the heartbeat bill, which would limit abortions once a doctor detects a heartbeat in a fetus (with some exceptions), the business community has largely stayed on the sidelines.  In comparison, in 2016, Hollywood production companies were vocally against a “religious liberty” bill, which Gov. Nathan Deal ultimately did not sign.  Similar heartbeat bills have been held up in other states after legal challenges. 
  • A Florida woman in her 70s was shot Saturday when she slapped a gun out of the hand of a man who had robbed her while she was feeding feral cats in her neighborhood. >> Read more trending news  The woman, who has not been identified, was feeding the cats around 6 a.m. when a man walked up to her with a gun and demanded money, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The woman gave the man the little bit of money she had with her and he left, investigators said. She then started following him down the street. When the man realized he was being followed, he turned around and pointed the gun at her, the Times reported. The victim slapped the gun from the man, causing it to fire. She was hit in the leg, and the man fled. The woman was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, the Tampa Bay Times reported.  Police are still searching for the suspect.
  • Barbra Streisand apologized Saturday for her remarks about Michael Jackson and two men who have accused him of sexual abuse, saying that she should have chosen her words more carefully and that she admires the accusers for 'speaking their truth.' Streisand had received bitter criticism online after she was quoted in The Times of London as saying that Jackson's accusers were 'thrilled to be there' during the alleged abuse, which 'didn't kill them.' After an initial statement Saturday to The Associated Press in which she sought to clarify her remarks, the superstar of song, stage and screen posted an apology online that went further. 'I am profoundly sorry for any pain or misunderstanding I caused by not choosing my words more carefully about Michael Jackson and his victims,' she wrote. 'I didn't mean to dismiss the trauma these boys experienced in any way,' she wrote. 'Like all survivors of sexual assault, they will have to carry this for the rest of their lives. I feel deep remorse and I hope that James and Wade know that I truly respect and admire them for speaking their truth.' The apology went far beyond the earlier statement to the AP, in which she elaborated on her published remarks, saying she felt 'nothing but sympathy' for the men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who accuse the late star of molesting them as children. She wrote in that earlier statement: 'To be crystal clear, there is no situation or circumstance where it is OK for the innocence of children to be taken advantage of by anyone.' The remarks in question came deep into a wide-ranging interview with The Times. Asked about Jackson, Streisand was quoted as saying she 'absolutely' believed Robson and Safechuck, who make their allegations in the recent HBO documentary 'Leaving Neverland.' Jackson's estate has condemned the HBO documentary. Jackson, who died in 2009, was found not guilty in 2005 of charges he molested a 13-year-old boy. Streisand was asked about the documentary, which she called 'too painful.' She then said that Jackson, when she met him, was 'very sweet, very childlike.' Asked how she reconciled that man with the one portrayed in the documentary, she replied: 'His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has. You can say 'molested,' but those children, as you heard say, they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them.' Among those firing back on social media was the director of 'Leaving Neverland,' Dan Reed, who wrote of that last quote: 'Did you really say that?!' Asked by The Times whether she was angry at Jackson, Streisand said: 'It's a combination of feelings. I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him. I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him.' Also attracting attention Saturday for remarks about Jackson was his close friend and mentor Diana Ross. 'This is what's on my heart this morning,' Ross wrote on Twitter. 'I believe and trust that Michael Jackson was and is A magnificent incredible force to me and to many others.