The Daily Progress

Charlottesville, Virginia
AP Top News at 3:47 a.m. EDT

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.

Police: Bomber's video amounts to confession, but no motive
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.

Austin bombing suspect's uncle says he was smart, kind
A 23-year-old suspected of planting deadly bombs that struck fear across Austin was described Wednesday by his uncle as a smart and kind "computer geek" and a friend said he was an assertive person who would end up being "kind of dominant and intimidating in conversation." Neither had any idea what might have motivated Mark Anthony Conditt, who authorities say died after detonating a bomb in his sport utility vehicle as officers moved in for an arrest near Austin. The attacks in the Texas capital and suburban San Antonio killed two people and wounded four others. "I mean this is coming from nowhere.

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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.

Budget bill in place, lawmakers hope to begin voting quickly
WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional leaders have finalized a sweeping $1.3 trillion budget bill that substantially boosts military and domestic spending but leaves behind young immigrant "Dreamers," deprives President Donald Trump some of his border wall money and takes only incremental steps to address gun violence. As negotiators stumbled toward an end-of-the-week deadline to fund the government or face a federal shutdown, House Speaker Paul Ryan dashed to the White House amid concerns Trump's support was wavering. Although some conservative Republicans balked at the size of the spending increases and the rush to pass the bill, the White House said the president backed the legislation.

AP Exclusive: Toy co. CEO leads effort to salvage Toys R Us
NEW YORK (AP) - Toy company executive Isaac Larian says he and other investors have pledged a total of $200 million in financing and hope to raise four times that amount in crowdfunding in order to bid for up to 400 of the Toys R Us stores being liquidated in bankruptcy. The unsolicited bid still faces many hurdles, including finding other deep-pocked investors and getting a bankruptcy judge to agree to it. But this is the first public plan to keep the cherished toy brand in existence in the United States. Such a long-shot move would also greatly benefit Larian's primary business.

MeToo takes off in South Korea, but justice harder to attain
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - The #MeToo movement has taken off with surprising rapidity in South Korea, toppling male celebrities and a prominent politician in a country where men have long brushed off sexual misconduct allegations and continued with their careers. How far will it go? South Korea largely remains a deeply conservative and patriarchal society rampant with sexism both casual and overt. It has the largest gender pay gap among developed countries and ranks 118th out of 144 nations in the World Economic Forum's global gender gap index, the lowest among the G-20 members. While human rights and other progressive movements have slowly picked up pace in recent years and peaceful protests in 2016-2017 ousted the president, it wasn't until women here started saying #MeToo that many realized women had been overlooked.

In Mideast, democracy struggles to strike root
Egyptians go to the polls next week in what is essentially a one-candidate election considered by critics to be a return of sorts to authoritarian rule, after a 2011 revolution that sparked loftier expectations for the region. But the bigger picture is that in the Middle East as a whole, democracy has largely failed to take hold. From Morocco in the west to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates in the east, monarchies have proven more stable than places that experimented with government of the people. Non-monarchies like Syria and Yemen, which before their wars did have functioning central governments, never made much of a pretense of democracy - not even in the half-hearted sense of communist East Germany calling itself a "Democratic Republic." And today many argue that with so little democratic tradition and so much illiteracy - in the case of Egypt, at least a quarter of the population - some places are just not ready.

NKorean sanctions evasions reveal Hong Kong's middleman role
HONG KONG (AP) - In the dead of night last month, two tanker ships pulled alongside each other in the East China Sea. One was a North Korean vessel, the other was the Belize-flagged Wan Heng 11. Lights on both ships were blazing, arousing a Japanese spy plane's suspicion they were carrying out a "ship-to-ship" transfer banned under United Nations sanctions imposed over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Records for the Wan Heng and a number of other ships identified in recent U.N. and U.S. sanctions blacklists and Japanese surveillance reports reveal ties to Hong Kong through front companies based here.

Trump targets China as US businesses await backlash
WASHINGTON (AP) - Farmers, electronics retailers and other U.S. businesses are bracing for a backlash as President Donald Trump targets China for stealing American technology or pressuring U.S. companies to hand it over. The administration is expected Thursday to slap trade sanctions on China, perhaps including restrictions on Chinese investment and tariffs on as much as $60 billion worth of Chinese products. 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. economy, provoking retaliation; stifling U.S. agriculture, goods, and services exports; and raising costs for businesses and consumers." The announcement will mark the end of a seven-month U.S.