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

March 17, 2017 - 11:56 am


Trump says he's '100 percent' behind health bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he wants people to know he's "100 percent behind" the House Republican health care bill.

Trump is meeting with Republican lawmakers at the White House Friday morning. Trump says the attendees were "mostly no's, yesterday" and now they're all yes's."

Trump says the press is misrepresenting the legislation. He also says some changes have been made to the bill.

Lawmakers at the meeting include Rep. Gary Palmer, a Republican from Alabama, who voted against the plan in a House budget committee vote.

One lawmaker said the changes include "work requirements and block grants."

Trump calls the House legislation "a great plan" and says there will be "bidding by insurance companies like you've never seen before."


UPDATE: Trump welcomes German chancellor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House.

Merkel arrived Friday morning for a series of meetings with Trump. The itinerary includes discussions on strengthening NATO, fighting the Islamic State group and resolving Ukraine's conflict.

Trump spent much of 2016 bashing the chancellor, accusing her of "ruining" Germany for allowing an influx of refugees from Syria.

Merkel was originally supposed to visit the White House Tuesday. That meeting was delayed due to snow.


UK: Trump spying claim 'ridiculous;' US govt won't repeat it

LONDON (AP) — A spokesman for Britain's prime minister says the White House has promised that it won't repeat a claim that U.K. spies snooped on U.S. President Donald Trump.

Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman, James Slack, says the British government has made it clear to the U.S. that the "ridiculous" claims should be ignored. He said Friday that Washington has assured Britain they will not be repeated.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Thursday cited Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano, who suggested that the British electronic surveillance agency GCHQ had helped then-President Barack Obama spy on Trump before last year's presidential election.

GCHQ took the unusual step of releasing a statement calling the claims "nonsense."

It said "they are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored."


UPDATE: Man claims innocence in ambulance driver's death

NEW YORK (AP) — A man accused of fatally running over a New York City emergency medical technician with her ambulance says he's innocent.

Jose Gonzalez was walked between a throng of angry EMTs early Friday as he was led from a police precinct to criminal court to face charges of murder and operating a vehicle high on drugs. The 25-year-old told reporters he did nothing wrong.

Police say Gonzalez was riding on the back bumper of the ambulance Thursday evening. Police say he jumped into the ambulance and sped off when the EMTs got out, plowing over 44-year-old Yadira Arroyo. They say he also attacked her partner.

Police say he slammed into some parked cars before hitting a snowbank. Video posted on Twitter captured the gruesome scene and showed the partner weeping over her fallen colleague.


NEW: Dallas officials say abandoned calls a source of 911 woes

DALLAS (AP) — The city of Dallas has backed away from its claim that a T-Mobile "ghost calling" glitch flooded the city's 911 call center and resulted in hundreds of calls being placed on hold.

Authorities initially believed that T-Mobile phones were somehow inundating 911 with ghost calls, which are automatically generated by a phone, unbeknownst to its owner.

But officials said Thursday that it was actually abandoned 911 calls that were a source of the problem.

Callers would hang up after dialing 911 and dispatchers were then obligated to return the call to determine if there was an emergency. But that created a long backlog of calls.

Additional dispatchers will be added until changes can be implemented, including technological upgrades.

Officials have been criticized for delayed emergency responses that may have contributed to the deaths of two people.


US factory production rose for 6th straight time in February

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factories cranked out more autos, steel and computers in February, the sixth straight monthly increase in manufacturing output.

The Federal Reserve says factory production rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent last month from January. That followed another 0.5 percent gain the previous month.

Mining output rose 2.7 percent in February, spurred partly by more oil and gas drilling. Utility production plunged 5.7 percent as unseasonably warm weather reduced the need for heating. Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, was unchanged in February.

Factories are benefiting from greater consumer and business optimism since the elections. Companies are spending more on big-ticket items such as industrial machinery, and Americans are buying cars at near-record levels. Overseas growth has spurred more exports.


Syrian activists say airstrike on mosque kills at least 35

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian first responders and activists say an airstrike on a mosque in a rebel-held area has killed at least 35 people.

The Syrian Civil Defense, volunteer paramedics known as the White Helmets, says first responders are racing to the scene after Thursday's airstrike in the Jeenah area, near the rebel-held province of Idlib.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 42 people were killed, mainly civilians.

Jeeneh is in the western Aleppo countryside, which along with Idlib is home to hundreds of thousands of Syrians displaced by fighting in other areas.

Russian and Syrian aircraft are known to operate in the opposition-held region.


Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, Caribbean poet, dies at 87

CASTRIES, St. Lucia (AP) — The family of Nobel laureate Derek Walcott says he has died at his home in St. Lucia. He was 87.

Walcott was a prolific and versatile poet whose dazzling, painterly work captured the essence of his native Caribbean and earned him a reputation as one of the greatest writers of the second half of the 20th century.

Walcott was long the most prominent citizen of the eastern Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia and the region's most eminent poet.


Boot, wheelbarrow, thimble ousted from Monopoly board game

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Monopoly is making changes: The boot has been booted, the wheelbarrow has been wheeled out, and the thimble got the thumbs down in the latest version of the board game.

In their place this fall will be a Tyrannosaurus rex, a penguin and a rubber ducky.

Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Hasbro says more than 4.3 million voters from 146 countries weighed in on which tokens they wanted to see in future versions of the property-acquisition board game, which is based on the real-life streets of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

There were 64 contenders, including a winking emoji, a hashtag, a clunky '80s-style cellphone and a pair of bunny slippers.


NEW: New York City is awash in green and Irish pride

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City is awash in green and Irish pride as throngs celebrate at the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

The marchers Friday came from all walks of life — military members, teachers and students, police and firefighters, politicians, plumbers and steamfitters.

Heavily armed officers kept a no-nonsense eye on security around the parade route as a pipe band played "God Bless America."

The New York National Guard's "Fighting 69th" brought its mascots — Irish wolfhounds.

St. Patrick's Cathedral displayed both the American and Irish flags. A special Mass was held there before the parade stepped off.

The route also passed Trump Tower, the home of President Donald Trump and his family.

There was barely a trace of the city's Tuesday snowstorm.

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