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AP Top News at 11:23 a.m. EDT

Police: Austin bomber's motive still unknown, despite video
PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (AP) - A 25-minute cellphone video left behind by the bomber whose deadly explosives terrorized Austin for weeks details the differences among the weapons he built and amounts to a confession, police said. But his motive remains a mystery. Mark Anthony Conditt, an unemployed college dropout who bought bomb-making materials at Home Depot, recorded the video hours before he died after detonating one of his own devices as SWAT teams closed in. It seemed to indicate the 23-year-old knew he was about to be caught, said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley. "It is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his own life," Manley said of the recording, which authorities declined to release amid the ongoing investigation.

AP Exclusive: Toy co. CEO leads effort to salvage Toys R Us
NEW YORK (AP) - Toy company executive Isaac Larian and other investors have pledged a total of $200 million and hope to raise four times that amount in crowdfunding in a bid to save potentially more than half of the 735 Toys R Us stores that will go dark in bankruptcy proceedings. The unsolicited bid faces a number of hurdles like finding other deep-pocketed investors, as well as getting a bankruptcy judge to approve such an unusual plan. It is the first known plan to keep the Toys R Us brand alive. The long-shot bid would be a huge benefit to Larian.

Hurricane Harvey's toxic impact deeper than public told
HOUSTON (AP) - A toxic onslaught from the nation's petrochemical hub was largely overshadowed by the record-shattering deluge of Hurricane Harvey as residents and first responders struggled to save lives and property. More than a half-year after floodwaters swamped America's fourth-largest city, the extent of this environmental assault is beginning to surface, while questions about the long-term consequences for human health remain unanswered. County, state and federal records pieced together by The Associated Press and The Houston Chronicle reveal a far more widespread toxic impact than authorities publicly reported after the storm slammed into the Texas coast in late August and then stalled over the Houston area.

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Troopers to patrol at Florida school where massacre happened
PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) - Already heightened security was being bolstered Thursday at the Florida high school that became the scene of a massacre last month, with Gov. Rick Scott ordering eight highway patrol troopers to help secure the grounds. The move came after the shooting suspect's brother was arrested on campus, two students were caught carrying knives and another made online threats. Also, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students will be given clear backpacks they'll be required to use when they return from spring break on April 2. Broward County school district Superintendent Robert Runcie told parents in a two-page letter that metal detectors also may be installed soon, and he outlined other security upgrades including student ID badges and a district-wide effort to require all school visitors to enter through a single door.

Experts: Uber SUV's autonomous system should have seen woman
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Two experts say video of a deadly crash involving a self-driving Uber vehicle shows the sport utility vehicle's laser and radar sensors should have spotted a pedestrian, and computers should have braked to avoid the crash. Authorities investigating the crash in a Phoenix suburb released the video of Uber's Volvo striking a woman as she walked from a darkened area onto a street. Experts who viewed the video told The Associated Press that the SUV's sensors should have seen the woman pushing a bicycle and braked before the impact. Also, Uber's human backup driver appears on the video to be looking down before crash and appears startled about the time of the impact.

Can Zuckerberg's media blitz take the pressure off Facebook?
NEW YORK (AP) - In the wake of a privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg embarked on a rare media mini-blitz in an attempt to take some of the public and political pressure off the social network. But it's far from clear whether he's won over U.S. and European authorities, much less the broader public whose status updates provide Facebook with an endless stream of data it uses to sell targeted ads. On Wednesday, the generally reclusive Zuckerberg sat for an interview on CNN and gave another to the publication Wired, addressing reports that Cambridge Analytica purloined the data of more than 50 million Facebook users in order to sway elections.

Trump to punish China on trade as US companies fear backlash
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump was ready to hit China with billions of dollars in trade sanctions Thursday for stealing American technology and pressuring U.S. companies to hand it over. Farmers, electronics retailers and other U.S. businesses braced for a backlash as the Chinese government vowed to take "all necessary measures" to defend itself in an emerging economic showdown. The expected penalties include restrictions on Chinese investment and tariffs on as much as $60 billion worth of Chinese products. Financial markets edged downward ahead of the announcement. Dozens of industry groups sent a letter last weekend to Trump warning that "the imposition of sweeping tariffs would trigger a chain reaction of negative consequences for the U.S.

Alabama to execute convicted bomber nearly 30 years later
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Judge Robert S. Vance was at his kitchen table on Dec. 16, 1989, when he opened a package that had been mailed to his home. The bomb hidden inside exploded with brutal force, killing Vance instantly and severely injuring his wife. Two days later, a similar device killed an attorney in Georgia. Two other mail bombs were later intercepted and defused, one at a federal courthouse in Atlanta and the other at an NAACP office in Jacksonville, Florida. The bombings created a wave of terror across the South. Now, nearly 30 years later, Alabama is preparing to execute the man convicted in Vance's killing, Walter Leroy Moody Jr.

Septuagenarian smackdown? Trump, Biden trade fighting words
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are in a rhetorical smackdown over who could clean the other's clock in a brawl. Trump, reacting to comments Biden made about him earlier in the week at an anti-sexual assault rally, tweeted Thursday: "Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn't know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don't threaten people Joe!" At the University of Miami on Tuesday, Biden cited lewd comments the Republican president made in a 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape about grabbing women without their permission.

Nor'easter rolls into New England as millions begin cleanup
NEW YORK (AP) - The latest nor'easter lost some punch as it rolled into New England on Thursday, as millions of people elsewhere in the Northeast dug out from the storm that dumped more than a foot of snow in some places, knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers and had many wishing for more spring-like weather. "We're supposed to be getting ready for Easter, not a nor'easter," said 46-year-old Raeme Dempsey, as her 6-year-old daughter, Jadalynn, pulled her toward a Philadelphia park so they could see the trees blanketed in freshly fallen snow. Long Island took a hard hit, with Bay Shore and Patchogue leading the way with 19 inches of snow.