AP News in Brief at 8:58 p.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on June 7, 2014 at 7:08 AM

Updated Saturday, Jun 7 at 9:04 PM

Petro Poroshenko takes oath of office as Ukrainian president, offers amnesty to armed groups

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country's east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn't negotiate with those he called "gangsters and killers" and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Petro Poroshenko's inaugural address after taking the oath of office in parliament gave little sign of a quick resolution to the conflict in the east, which Ukrainian officials say has left more than 200 people dead.

He also firmly insisted that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in March, "was, is and will be Ukrainian." He gave no indication of how Ukraine could regain control of Crimea, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has said was allotted to Ukraine unjustly under Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Hours after the speech, Putin ordered security tightened along Russia's border with Ukraine to prevent illegal crossings, Russian news agencies said. Ukraine claims that many of the insurgents in the east have come from Russia; Poroshenko on Saturday said he would offer a corridor for safe passage of "Russian militants" out of the country.

Rebel leaders in the east dismissed Poroshenko's speech.

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Comedian Tracy Morgan critically injured in fatal crash; truck driver charged

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured Saturday after a tractor-trailer rammed into his chauffeured limousine bus, setting off a chain-reaction crash that left a fellow comedian dead and two others seriously hurt, authorities said.

A truck driver from Georgia was charged with death by auto in the crash that killed a man described as a mentor to the former "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock" cast member as the group traveled home from a standup comedy show in Delaware, officials said.

James McNair, 62, of Peekskill, New York, who performed as Jimmy Mack, died after the Mercedes limo bus carrying seven people overturned on the New Jersey Turnpike near Cranbury Township at about 1 a.m., state police Sgt. 1st Class Greg Williams said.

Morgan, 45, and Jeffrey Millea, 36, of Shelton, Connecticut, were flown from the accident scene to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, where they were in critical condition, hospital spokesman Peter Haigney said.

Morgan remained in the intensive care unit at the hospital Saturday night and spokesman Lewis Kay said that his family was with him and he was "receiving excellent care."

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Tonalist ends California Chrome's Triple Crown quest at Belmont

NEW YORK (AP) — California Chrome failed in his bid to win the first Triple Crown in 36 years on Saturday, losing the Belmont Stakes to 9-1 long shot Tonalist.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner finished in a dead-heat for fourth with Wicked Strong. California Chrome's loss extended the longest drought without a Triple Crown champion.

Three tough races in five weeks proved too demanding for California Chrome, who was sent off as the heavy 4-5 favorite by tens of thousands packed into Belmont Park on an 80-degree day, hoping to see history. Affirmed remains the most recent Triple Crown winner in 1978.

The raucous crowd was silenced when it became obvious that California Chrome lacked his usual punch in the stretch.

Jockey Victor Espinoza realized long before then that his chestnut colt wasn't up to the grueling 1 ½-mile trip around the track's sweeping turns.

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Hundreds of gay couples rush to marry in Wisconsin, mindful that ban could be reinstated

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Dozens of gay couples married Saturday at courthouses in Milwaukee and Madison, taking advantage of what most believed would be a small window in which to get hitched before a judge's decision overturning the state's same-sex marriage ban was put on hold.

The decision was announced Friday afternoon just as the party was getting started at PrideFest, an annual gay celebration that draws thousands of people to Milwaukee's festival grounds on Lake Michigan.

Many couples who married Saturday said the judge's decision had caught them by surprise, and they hadn't wanted to break Friday night plans. Others needed time to assemble the documents required for a marriage license. Couples began lining up outside the Milwaukee County courthouse at 6 a.m., three hours before it opened.

Craig Cook and Marshall Draper arrived about 8:30 a.m. and found nearly two dozen couples in line ahead of them. Cook, 43, said he and others had hoped U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb would make a decision in time for PrideFest. He and Draper attended the festival Friday night and planned to return Saturday after being married by a Unitarian minister outside the courthouse.

"Had this been legal, we probably would have done this 20 years ago," Cook said. He said he and Draper likely will have a reception in a few weeks, but "this was as formal a wedding as I've ever wanted."

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Police release 911 calls from Seattle campus shooting: "Someone was hit directly."

SEATTLE (AP) — One student talks to 911 operators while a classmate attempts to tend to his bleeding neck and chest. Two other callers after witnessing the shooting at a small Seattle university calmly describe their location, the shooter and the chilling scene.

"He walked up behind this guy," the caller said, adding moments later: "There were two people standing there. And this guy walked up behind one of them, lifted his rifle and shot directly."

A day after a lone gunman armed with a shotgun opened fire at Seattle Pacific University, Seattle police released three 911 calls recorded shortly after the shooting. The calls reflect a mix of shock, calmness and swift action by students, witnesses and faculty.

The 911 calls show "the remarkable calm and resourcefulness of students, faculty, and other witnesses," police wrote.

Police said the shooter, who killed a 19-year-old freshman student and wounded two other young people, had 50 additional shotgun shells and a hunting knife. He said after his arrest that he wanted to kill as many people as possible before taking his own life, Seattle police wrote in a statement filed in court Friday.

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Poet Maya Angelou's many gifts remembered by first lady, Oprah, Clinton at NC memorial service

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Maya Angelou liked to say that people will forget what you said or did in your life, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Former President Bill Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey said Saturday they were among the millions touched by Angelou's wisdom when they needed help to rise.

Family and friends, both famous and anonymous, gathered Saturday to remember one of the 20th century's most famous black writers. Amid tears, laughter, and gospel singing, they met at Wake Forest University, where she taught for 32 years though she never graduated from college. Dr. Angelou, as she liked to be addressed out of respect for all the honorary degrees she received, died May 28 at age 86.

Hers was a remarkable life, linking worlds of civil rights, poetry, acting and teaching — those present recalled at the 2-hour-long tribute.

"We could just all be up here talking about how Maya Angelou represented a big piece of American history. And triumphed over adversity. And proved how dumb racism is," Clinton said at the private memorial service. "But her great gift in her action-packed life was she was always paying attention. And from the time she starting writing her books and her poetry, what she was basically doing was calling our attention to the things she'd been paying attention to. And she did it with a clarity and power that will wash over people as long as there is a written and spoken language."

The words of the indomitable woman, who Clinton said seemed to pack five lifetimes into one, changed a little black girl on the south side of Chicago whose Malibu Barbie doll was the standard of female perfection.

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Governments in Africa, Mideast resorting to barrel bombs in efforts to gain battlefield ground

WASHINGTON (AP) — Governments in the Mideast and Africa, in desperate efforts to gain battlefield ground, are using barrel bombs against their enemies, launching the cheap, quickly manufactured weapons as a crude counter to roadside blasts and suicide explosions that insurgents have deployed for years.

New evidence of their use in Iraq, after being dropped on civilians in Syria and Sudan, has raised concerns that governments in unstable nations will embrace them.

Described as "flying IEDs," or improvised explosive devices, barrel bombs have the power to wipe out a row of buildings in a single blast. They can kill large numbers of people, including those not targeted.

"It's fair to say that a lot of governments are losing control of the counterinsurgency," said Michael Knights, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "They're also watching what they see in Syria, and they feel like their air power is what is making the difference."

"Barrel bomb" is a broad term for a large container packed with fuel, chemicals or explosives and often scraps of metal that, in recent years, have most often been dropped on targets from helicopters or planes overhead.

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Captured soldier's return sparks relief, resentment amid charges of desertion

Bowe Bergdahl stands, hands at his sides, his loose-fitting Pashtun smock and pants bright white against the rocky landscape. The hillsides are dotted with armed Afghans, rifles ready.

A Black Hawk appears in the clouds. After almost five years in captivity, the American soldier, head shaved, eyes blinking, is about to finally see freedom.

"We've been looking for you for a long time," a member of a special forces team shouts over the roar of the copter. Bergdahl breaks down.

It was supposed to be a moment for celebration, America's only military captive in the 13-year Afghan conflict free at last. And in his hometown in Idaho, where trees are bedecked with yellow ribbons and prayers never stopped, indeed it is.

But for the rest of the country, Bergdahl's capture and release have thrust him into a furious debate.

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Vodafone report highlights many governments' ease of spying on phone, email communications

NEW YORK (AP) — Telecommunications company Vodafone's report on government surveillance of its customers in 29 countries reveals more than first meets the eye — and is raising questions from Dublin to Delhi about how much spying on email and telephone chats happens in secret.

In Friday's report Vodafone said most countries required the company's knowledge and cooperation to hear phone calls or see emails, but at least six governments have given their security agencies the power of direct access.

Vodafone didn't identify the countries that have tapped into its network, but the report provided some clues. An 88-page appendix reveals that five countries — Albania, Egypt, Hungary, Ireland and Qatar — have provisions that allow authorities to demand unfettered access.

In vague language, the report also indicated similar powers could exist in India and the United Kingdom, too.

In too many cases, Vodafone said, governments kept both the company and wider society in the dark about what was happening, with laws explicitly forbidding government disclosure of any details of its electronic eavesdropping.

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California Chrome's stablemate starts day with win; Triple Crown jockeys sign autographs

NEW YORK (AP) — It was a great start to the day for Barn 26, the Belmont home for California Chrome.

Wabbajack, who was a few stalls down from the potential Triple Crown winner, won the opening race at Belmont on Saturday.

"It's all going to rub off on Chrome," said Matt Amodeo, a partner in Wabbajack. "Chrome's going to continue the good karma," he said.

The barn pairing actually started last summer when Ride on Curlin trainer Billy Gowan befriended Wabbajack trainer J.J. Toner while both were at Saratoga.

Amodeo, who is part of the Ninety North partnership, said that after Chrome's victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Alan Sherman asked Gowan where he was going to stay while he was in New York. Gowan didn't hesitate in telling him he was headed to Toner's barn and Sherman decided to have Chrome join them.

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