Washington

Trump writes to Africans

President Donald Trump in a new letter to African leaders says he “deeply respects” the people of Africa and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will make an “extended visit” to the continent in March, his first in that role. The letter dated Thursday is addressed to African leaders as they gathered for an African Union summit over the weekend in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. U.S. diplomats have scrambled for days to address shock and condemnation after Trump reportedly referred to African nations as “s***hole” countries. Trump has said he didn’t use such language, while others present say he did. Trump’s letter, seen by the Associated Press and confirmed by two U.S. officials, says the U.S. “profoundly respects” the partnerships and values shared by the U.S. and Africans and that the president’s commitment to strong relationships with African nations is “firm.”

INDIAN WELLS, Calif.

Koch group to push tax plan

The political network backed by conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch plans to spend $20 million to promote the tax overhaul recently signed into law by President Donald Trump. The investment marks an early focus of the Koch brothers’ 2018 political strategy. It comes as the conservative billionaires work to expand their sweeping efforts to promote a “free society” in America. Charles Koch and his lieutenants previewed their strategy Saturday at a three-day private donor retreat at a luxury resort in the California desert.

JACKMAN, Maine

White separatist official fired

A rural Maine town hired a temporary manager after firing a man who espoused white separatist views. Officials in Jackman voted Wednesday to hire Mitchell Berkowitz. They fired Tom Kawczynski on Tuesday and agreed to pay him $30,000 for agreeing not to sue the town. Kawczynski has called for the preservation of white European heritage in northern New England.

BEAUMONT, Texas

Inmate breaks into prison

A Texas inmate who had escaped was arrested trying to break back in the prison with alcohol and food. Joshua Hansen, 25, of Dallas, was charged with escape and possession of marijuana, officials said. He was originally imprisoned on a narcotics conviction. Deputies spotted Hansen last week as he ran onto private land near the prison in Beaumont and grabbed a duffel bag containing three bottles of brandy, some whisky, tobacco and “a large amount of home-cooked food.” They arrested him as he ran back toward the prison.

Beacon Journal/Ohio.com wires