Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment:

March 02, 2017 - 4:52 pm


UPDATE: Sessions recuses himself from Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will recuse himself from a federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 White House election.

Sessions faced mounting pressure from both Democrats and Republicans to step aside after revelations that he had twice talked with Moscow's U.S. envoy during the presidential campaign. Sessions' conversations with the ambassador seem to contradict his sworn statements to Congress during his confirmation hearings.

Sessions says he should not be involved in investigating a presidential campaign he had a role in. He made the comment at a Thursday news. The move came after revelations that Sessions twice spoke to the Russia's mbassador to the U.S. during the presidential campaign.

Sessions rejected any suggestion that he tried to mislead anyone about his contacts with the Russian, saying, "That is not my intent. That is not correct."

But he says he "should have slowed down and said 'but I did meet with one Russian official a couple of times.' "

Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente (bihn-taye will handle any matters related to investigation.


Trump 'wasn't aware' of Sessions' Russian talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he "wasn't aware" that his attorney general —former Sen. Jeff Sessions — had contact with the Russian ambassador during last year's White House campaign.

Trump made the comment in Newport News, Virginia, before giving a speech aboard the USS Gerald Ford.

Sessions spoke twice with Russia's ambassador to the United States during the campaign. Those conversations appear to contradict Sessions' testimony to Congress during his confirmation hearings.

Democrats are demanding that Sessions resign over the contact, while Democratic leaders and some Republicans say Sessions should step aside from a federal investigation into Russian interference in the election.


Nunes has no evidence of improper Russia links

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says he still doesn't have any evidence that people associated with Donald Trump's presidential campaign had improper contacts with Russian officials.

Rep. Devin Nunes (NOO'-nehs) made the comment to reporters after committee members heard from FBI Director James Comey (KOH'-mee).

Nunes says the only contact he's aware of involves Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and the Russian ambassador to the United States.

The top Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff, says the FBI director hasn't provided a full counterintelligence briefing to committee members.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also met with the Russian ambassador during the campaign — when Sessions was a senator and an adviser to the Trump campaign.

The Justice Department says there was nothing improper about the meetings.


Cabinet progress; Rick Perry confirmed at Energy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has confirmed former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to serve as energy secretary under President Donald Trump.

The vote was 62-37 on Thursday.

Perry — who once pledged to eliminate the department — has repeatedly promised be an advocate for the agency and to protect the nation's nuclear stockpile. Perry also has said he'd rely on federal scientists, including those who work on climate change.

Perry has said he'll work to develop American energy in all forms — from oil, gas and nuclear power to renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

Democrats say they accept Perry's disavowal of his 2011 pledge to abolish the Energy Department. But they're worried he may not stand up to GOP proposals to slash the department's budget.


Lawyers say Kansas must hike school aid by $800M

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Attorneys for four Kansas school districts that are suing the state to increase school funding say the state Supreme Court's new ruling will require a funding boost of at least $800 million per year.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state isn't spending enough money on its schools to provide a suitable education to every child, which the state constitution requires. The justices did not set a specific figure for how much more the state must spend a year.

Attorneys Alan Rupe and John Robb say the ruling suggests that the increase must be sizeable because it affirmed a lower court panel's findings that spending was inadequate.

Rupe and Robb represent the Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, districts. They used the state in 2010.


Apple, IBM, Microsoft back transgender teen at Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) — Apple, IBM and Microsoft are among 53 companies urging the Supreme Court to rule that a transgender teenager has the right to use the boys' bathroom at his Virginia high school.

The businesses signed onto a brief filed Thursday in high school senior Gavin Grimm's lawsuit against the Gloucester (GLAH'-stur) County school board.

Grimm says he wants to use the bathroom that matches his chosen gender. He is challenging the board's policy that prohibits him from using the boys' bathroom.

Airbnb, eBay, PayPal, Tumblr and Williams-Sonoma also are part of the brief that argues that "transgender individuals deserve the same treatment and protections" as everyone else.

The case is scheduled to be argued on March 28, but the school board is seeking a delay.


Official: Space heater led to fatal Oregon fire

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The fire chief in a rural Oregon town says a house fire that killed four children and critically burned three other people was caused by a portable space heater.

Riddle Fire Protection District Chief Rich Holloway said Thursday on the fire district's Facebook page that the fire was caused by combustible materials placed too close to the heater.

The authenticity of the post was confirmed by City Manager Kathy Wilson.

Holloway says a component of the family's fireplace that circulated heated air back into the house had malfunctioned several days before.

The family bought the space heater to stay warm until they could get the fireplace repaired.

Four children ages 4 to 13 died in the blaze.

Thirty-nine-year-old James Keith Howell, 38-year-old Tabitha Annette Howell and 13-year-old Andrew Hall-Young are in critical condition at a Portland hospital.


Fat finger: Typo caused Amazon's big cloud-computing outage

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon says an incorrectly typed command during a routine debugging of its billing system caused the five-hour outage of some Amazon Web Services servers on Tuesday.

In a summary posted online, the Seattle company says a command meant to remove a small number of servers for one of its S3 subsystems was entered incorrectly and a larger set of servers was removed. A full restart was required, which took longer than expected due to how fast Amazon Web Services has grown over the past few years.

Amazon says it is making changes to its system to make sure incorrect commands won't trigger an outage of its web services in the future.

Amazon is the world's largest provider of cloud services, which entails hosting companies' computing functions on remote servers.


Oscar flub accountants get security protection guards

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A spokeswoman for the PwC auditing firm says the company has hired protection for the two accountants responsible for the best-picture flub at the Oscars.

Carey Bodenheimer said Thursday that PwC is providing security to Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz.

They are the accountants who were dismissed by the film academy Wednesday for mishandling the winners' envelopes at Sunday's 89th Academy Awards.

Bodenheimer said PwC hired security for the two partners after their home addresses and photos of their family members were published in the media.

PwC has taken responsibility for the unprecedented error that led to "La La Land" mistakenly announced as the winner of best picture when "Moonlight" actually won.

The company says Cullinan and Ruiz made "a series of mistakes" and failed to follow established backstage protocols.


NEW: Former US missionary in Haiti accused of child sexual abuse

MIAMI (AP) — U.S. authorities have charged an Arkansas man with sexually abusing children while working as a missionary in Haiti.

Daniel Pye became well-known among missionaries in Haiti as he helped coordinate relief efforts in Jacmel after the January 2010 earthquake. He was jailed for about five months in Haiti in 2011 amid a dispute with members of his U.S.-based mission over property belonging to their home for children.

Following a two-year investigation, prosecutors in Miami have charged Pye with four counts of traveling from South Florida to Haiti to engage in sexual conduct with children

A judge in Arkansas set bond at $5,000, but prosecutors filed a motion Thursday to reverse the decision. He remains in custody.


Iowa lawmaker says business degree was Sizzler certificate

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa state lawmaker says he didn't mean to mislead anyone by claiming he had a business degree from a company that had actually awarded him a certificate for participating in a training program when he worked at Sizzler.

State Sen. Mark Chelgren's biography on an Iowa Senate Republican website had noted he had a business management degree from Forbco Management school. The information was removed Wednesday after NBC News reported Forbco Management is a California company that operated a Sizzler franchise.

Iowa Senate Republicans spokesman Ed Failor confirmed Thursday that Chelgren's biography was updated after the NBC report. He said Chelgren doesn't have a college degree, but Chelgren later said he earned an associate's degree from a community college.


Story of 2 boys, 1 white and 1 black, teaches racial harmony

UNDATED (AP) — Sometimes life's lessons come from those with the least experience.

The story of two 5-year-old boys from Kentucky, one white and one black, is teaching people about racial harmony. The story exploded online when the mother of Jax, the white boy, posted on Facebook about how her son wanted to get his haircut like his black buddy, Reddy, so they could trick their teacher. The boys believe if they have the same haircut, their teacher won't be able to tell them apart.

WAVE-TV followed Jax to his haircut, and he and Reddy giggle and goof around as Jax gets his hair shaved off.

In the video, Reddy sums it all up: "Jax's me ... and I'm Jax."

Jax's mother says she is glad people can "see what little kids see."


UPDATGE: US stocks pull back from record highs

NEW YORK (AP) — Banks and other financial companies led stocks lower on Wall Street a day after indexes soared to their latest record highs.

Citizens Financial slumped 3.9 percent Thursday.

Banks had soared a day earlier as investors hoped that higher interest rates would help them earn more from lending.

Energy companies fell along with the price of crude oil. Devon Energy lost 2.6 percent.

Shake Shack fell 2.6 percent after its sales missed estimates.

Snap, which runs the Snapchat messaging app, soared 44 percent in its stock market debut.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 112 points, or 0.5 percent, to 21,002.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 14 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,381. The Nasdaq composite fell 42 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,861.


NEW: Subway: Tests show only "trace" soy in chicken

Subway says lab tests it commissioned show its chicken had only trace amounts of soy.

That comes after a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. show reported that tests showed only about half the DNA from Subway chicken samples was from chicken. The rest was mostly from soy.

After calling the report "false and misleading," Subway followed up by saying it sent chicken samples to two labs and the results from both found soy protein to be less than 1 percent. The sandwich chain said it used samples from the supplier that provides products to all its Canadian locations. The company said it uses a different supplier in the U.S., but that the recipe for the product is similar. It says soy is an ingredient it uses in the marinade and seasoning for its chicken.

The CBC has stood by its report, saying Wednesday it tested multiple Subway chicken samples from various locations in southern Ontario. It noted that DNA tests don't reveal the exact amount of chicken in a product, but are a good indicator of its proportion of animal DNA.

The CBC didn't immediately respond to Subway's tests.

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