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

March 17, 2017 - 8:02 pm

TRUMP-MERKEL

Trump says allies 'must pay what they owe'

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he has "strong support" for NATO but that allies "must pay what they owe."

Trump, making his first appearance with Merkel, opened their White House news conference Friday by saying that "many nations owe vast sums of money" and that situation is "very unfair to the United States."

Trump said these nations need "to pay their fair share" in order to receive the promise of defense from the rest of the alliance.

The president has long complained that the U.S. shoulders too much of the burden of the cost of the alliance, which now comprises 28 nation.

Merkel said she was encouraged that Trump supports NATO, stressed its vital role and pledged that Germany will increase its own payments.

CONGRESS-HEALTH OVERHAUL

Trump optimistic on new health law

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he expects the House Republican health plan will be passed "substantially pretty quickly."

Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday, Trump calls it a "great plan" and says it is "getting more and more popular with the Republican base, the conservative base and with people generally."

Trump repeated his claim that so-called Obamacare is "a disaster." He said that in the end of the process it will be a great plan.

Several Republicans have said they can't support the law as it stands and are demanding changes.

TRUMP-WIRETAP

Trump stands by his claim Obama tapped his phones

LONDON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday stood by his unproven claim that his predecessor wiretapped his phones, suggesting he was the victim of the same sort of surveillance the Obama administration was once alleged to have used to monitor German Chancellor Angela Merkel's calls.

"At least we have something in common, perhaps," Trump said during a joint news conference with Merkel.

Merkel, who was making her first visit to the White House since Trump took office, did not weigh in on the 2013 incident, which angered many in Germany.

Trump's allegations against President Barack Obama have sparked a reactions ranging from bafflement to anger in Washington, with both Democrats and Republican lawmakers saying they have no evidence to support his claim. But the White House's refusal to back down has created more problems for the new administration.

CONGRESS-RUSSIA

Senate intelligence committee schedules hearing on Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate intelligence committee says it will hold a hearing at the end of the month on its investigation into Russian activities during last year's presidential election.

The open hearing on March 30 will focus on ways that Russia works to influence campaigns and public opinion.

A first panel of witnesses will examine the history of Russian influence campaigns and a second panel will address how Russia uses cyber operations to support the activities.

Former intelligence officials and others from business and academia are scheduled to testify.

The committee earlier held an open hearing in January on the Russian activities in the 2016 election.

TRUMP TRAVEL BAN-LAWSUITS

UPDATE: Seattle judge puts off ruling on travel ban

SEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge in Seattle says he won't rule on a request from an immigrant rights group to block President Donald Trump's revised travel ban because two other judges have already halted it.

Judge James Robart said the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project could ask him to reconsider "should circumstances change."

The immigrant rights group had said the new version of the ban discriminates against Muslims.

On Wednesday a federal judge in Hawaii blocked the federal government from enforcing its ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries and its suspension of the nation's refugee program. A Maryland judge only blocked the six-nation travel ban.

Last month, Robart granted a request by the state of Washington to halt the initial travel ban ordered by Trump.

FORMER CONGRESSMAN CHARGED

Former Texas congressman accused of taking charity's money

HOUSTON (AP) — Former Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, who invited rocker Ted Nugent to President Barack Obama's 2013 State of the Union address, is accused of spending money meant for charity on himself and contributions to his campaign.

Stockman, a Republican who served two stints in the U.S. House, is charged with conspiracy to make conduit contributions and false statements. He was released from custody after a hearing Friday pending his trial.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Stockman on Friday blamed his arrest on a "deep state" shadow government — a theory that has taken hold among some conservatives that there is a shadowy network of powerful entrenched federal and military interests working to undermine President Donald Trump.

Authorities allege that shortly after starting his second House term in 2013, Stockman solicited $350,000 from a wealthy businessman to go to a Nevada-based charity and then put the money into an account Stockman had opened.

OFFICERS SHOT-DETROIT

Man charged in 2 Detroit cop shootings; suspect in cop death

DETROIT (AP) — A man was charged with attempted murder Friday in the shooting of two Detroit police officers and also named as the "prime suspect" in the slaying of a college officer who was gunned down while on patrol in November.

Raymond Durham's arrest Wednesday night apparently was the big break in the investigation of Sgt. Collin Rose's death. Detroit Chief James Craig said DNA evidence links him to the fatal shooting of the Wayne State University officer.

Separately, Durham, 60, is charged with shooting two officers who stopped him while he was on foot earlier this week. The prosecutor's office said he pulled a gun from his waistband and fired.

FLINT WATER

EPA awards $100 million for Flint water infrastructure work

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $100 million to help fund infrastructure upgrades in Flint amid the city's crisis with lead-tainted water.

The grant announced Friday was promised to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality by Congress in December.

It aims to help Flint accelerate and expand its work to replace lead water service lines and fund other critical water infrastructure improvements.

The city switched to untreated Flint River water in 2014, resulting in lead being leached from pipes into the water supply. Flint returned to Detroit's water system in 2015, but residents still must use filters or bottled water while authorities make the system safe.

Mayor Karen Weaver said in a statement that the much-needed money will help Flint reach a goal of replacing 6,000 pipes this year.

REPORTER-SEIZURES-TWITTER

Man charged with seizure-causing tweet to Newsweek reporter

DALLAS (AP) — A Maryland man has been arrested on a federal cyberstalking charge of sending a Dallas-based magazine reporter an image on Twitter intended to trigger an epileptic seizure.

Federal officials say twenty-nine-year-old John Rayne Rivello, of Salisbury was arrested in Maryland on Friday on a criminal complaint filed in Dallas.

The complaint was filed in December by Kurt Eichenwald, a Newsweek reporter who has epilepsy and was sent a strobe image to his Twitter account on Dec. 15 intended to trigger a seizure. Included with the image was the message: "You deserve a seizure for your posts."

The image was apparently sent in response to Eichenwald's outspoken criticism of then-President-elect Donald Trump.

Eichenwald thanked federal and Dallas law enforcement for the break in the case.

NORTH CAROLINA-GOVERNOR

NC judges: Some GOP laws against governor unconstitutional

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina judicial panel says some laws enacted by Republican legislators to undercut the new Democratic governor's powers are unconstitutional.

But the three-judge panel also ruled Friday that one law subjecting Gov. Roy Cooper's Cabinet secretaries to confirmation by the Senate was justified.

Cooper's attorneys said in court this month that the laws enacted two weeks before he took office should be invalidated because they skew the balance of powers among government branches and made it harder for Cooper to carry out his gubernatorial duties in the state Constitution.

The judges agreed with Cooper on throwing out laws that shifted his powers in carrying out elections to the legislature and that gave civil service protections to hundreds of former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's political appointees.

NUCLEAR FILMS-DECLASSIFIED

Vintage US nuclear test films declassified and publicized

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — From the deserts of southern New Mexico and Nevada to islands in the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. government conducted dozens of nuclear weapons tests from the 1940s until the early 1960s.

Some of the blasts sent incredible mushroom clouds into the sky and massive fireballs across the landscape.

A team from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has now published more than five dozen vintage films salvaged from high-security vaults across the U.S. where they sat idle for decades.

Lab physicist Greg Spriggs says the films were in danger of decomposing and being lost to history.

Spriggs and his team have located about 6,500 films.

Only a fraction have been analyzed and declassified.

Spriggs says scientists are learning new information about the detonations as they review the original films.

US-WAGE BOYCOTT

USA Hockey says it'll talk to players' lawyers about dispute

USA Hockey says it is contacting representatives of the women's team that threatened to boycott the upcoming world championships over a wage dispute.

Executive director Dave Ogrean says the organization remains committed to having the players selected for the tournament play in it when it begins March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan. The United States is the defending champion and has won six of the past eight International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship gold medals.

Players announced Wednesday they wouldn't play in the world championships unless significant progress was made toward a labor deal. As of 6 p.m. Friday, a half-hour after USA Hockey's update, players lawyer John Langel said he had not yet been contacted.

Players let a Thursday deadline to commit to playing pass without changing their minds.

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