AP News Summary at 8:25 a.m. EDT

Ukraine defiant as key port Mariupol teeters on brink

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The battered port city of Mariupol appears on the brink of falling to Russian forces after seven weeks under siege. Capturing the city would give Moscow a crucial success in Ukraine following a botched attempt to storm the capital and the loss of the Russian navy’s Black Sea flagship. The Russian military estimated that about 2,500 Ukrainian fighters holding out at a hulking steel plant provided the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson said those who refuse to surrender by a Sunday deadline “will be destroyed.” Seizing Mariupol would free up Russian forces for an offensive in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has focused after the failiure to take Kyiv.

For many, Easter Sunday marks a return to in-person worship

BOSTON (AP) — For many Christians, this weekend marks the first time in three years they will gather in person to celebrate Easter Sunday, a welcome chance to share one of the faith’s holiest days side-by-side with fellow parishioners. In the United States, the pandemic stuck in March, 2020, forcing many churches to resort to online or televised Masses weeks ahead of Easter. In Boston, Catholic churches are among houses of worship opening their doors with few COVID-19 restrictions for Easter services. On Saturday evening, hundreds of people in Minnesota gathered in the grand Cathedral of St. Paul to observe an Easter Vigil service.

Police arrest suspect in South Carolina mall shooting

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Authorities say they have arrested a suspect in connection with a shooting at a busy shopping mall in South Carolina’s capital on Saturday that left 14 people injured. Columbia Police Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook says 22-year-old Jewayne M. Price is in police custody and is expected to be charged with unlawful carrying of a pistol. Price was one of three people initially detained by law enforcement as a person of interest. It is not immediately known if he has an attorney who could speak on his behalf. Holbrook says no fatalities have been reported but that 14 people were injured. Police say nine of the 14 people were shot and the other five people suffered injuries while attempting to flee.

Wisconsin Democrats aim to beat Sen. Ron Johnson, but how?

CAMBRIDGE, Wis. (AP) — A crowded field of Democrats is trying to figure out a winning strategy to unseat Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin in November. It’s one of a handful of competitive Senate races this election year and could help decide Senate control. Johnson was elected as a fiscal conservative, but in the past two years he has staked out some anti-science positions in the pandemic. And he’s embraced conspiracy theories surrounding Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat. Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor, Mandela Barnes, leads the Democratic field in early polls, money and endorsements. Top rivals include Alex Lasry, an executive with the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, and Sarah Godlewski, the state treasurer. There’s optimism among Democrats that Johnson is more vulnerable now than ever.

‘Magic mushrooms’ for therapy? Vets help sway conservatives

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The medicinal use of hallucinogenic mushrooms is making inroads in U.S. states as military veterans advocate for the therapeutic value of psychedelic drugs, including in conservative states like Utah, Texas and Oklahoma. At least four states have approved studying their medicinal properties in the last two years and several U.S. cities have also decriminalized so-called magic mushrooms. Oregon is the first, and so far only, state to legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin, the psychedelic active ingredient found in certain mushrooms. But studying them has gotten approval not only in blue states like Hawaii, Connecticut and Maryland but also GOP-led Utah, Texas, and Oklahoma, where the state House passed a bill this year. 

DA: 3 of 6 dead in Sacramento shootout were in gang dispute

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Newly filed court documents in a deadly downtown Sacramento shooting reveal that three of the six who died were involved in the gang dispute that led to the massive shootout. At least one of them fired a weapon while another boasted before the killing about shooting rival members. The information was contained in documents filed Friday by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office. Court documents say suspect Smiley Martin and Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi posted on social media earlier in the day that they wanted to shoot rival gang members. The Sacramento Bee was first to report on the filings. The April 3 shootout wounded a dozen others. 

Tax Day laggards: Consider filing for extension if in a rush

WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of Americans wait until the last minute to file their taxes, and this year is no exception. Monday is Tax Day — the federal deadline for individual tax filing and payments. The IRS will receive tens of millions of last-minute filings electronically and through paper forms. Nina Tross at the National Society of Tax Professionals says if people haven’t filed their taxes by now, “they’re better off filing an extension.” But she says many people don’t realize that filing an extension “has zero effect,” so long as people are paid up on their income taxes by Tax Day. She adds that people are “better off extending than amending.”

US Army using lessons from Ukraine war to aid own training

FORT IRWIN, Calif. (AP) — U.S. Army trainers are using lessons learned from the Russian war against Ukraine as they prepare soldiers for future fights against a major adversary such as Russia or China. The role-players in this month’s exercise at a training center in California’s Mojave Desert speak Russian and the enemy force is using a steady stream of social media posts to make false accusations against the American brigade preparing to attack. In the coming weeks, the planned training scenario for the next brigade coming in will focus on how to battle an enemy willing to destroy a city with rocket and missile fire in order to conquer it. 

Unrest sparked by far-right demos continues in Sweden

HELSINKI (AP) — Unrest has broken out in southern Sweden despite police moving a rally by an anti-Islam far-right group, which was planning to burn a Quran among other things, to a new location as a preventive measure. Scuffles and unrest were reported in the southern town of Landskrona after a demonstration scheduled there by the Danish right-wing party Stram Kurs party was moved to the nearby city of Malmo. Up to 100 mostly young people threw stones, set cars, tires and dustbins on fire, and put up a barrier fence that obstructed traffic, Swedish police said. The situation had calmed down in Landskrona by late Saturday but remains tense.

Crews fight New Mexico fires as some evacuations lift

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — Authorities have lifted some evacuation orders for a southern New Mexico mountain community hit by wildfire. Firefighters are working Saturday to contain a wind-driven blaze that killed two people and destroyed over 200 homes. A Village of Ruidoso spokesperson said about 60% of the estimated 4,500 people who were told to evacuate since the fire started Tuesday were allowed to return home late Friday. Evacuation estimates were previously reported to be around 5,000 people. Specific numbers weren’t immediately available. Fire incident commander Dave Bales said crews on Saturday worked to put out hot spots and clear lines along the fire’s perimeter to keep the fire from spreading. 

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