Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 p.m. EDT

July 03, 2018 - 12:00 am

TRUMP-AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

Trump to rescind Obama-era guidance on affirmative action

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is rescinding Obama-era guidance that encouraged schools to take a person's race into account to encourage diversity in admissions.

That's according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made.

A formal announcement was expected later Tuesday.

TRUMP-SUPREME COURT-THE LATEST

The Latest: Trump promises 'great' pick for Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is promising to select a "great" Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The president said Tuesday at a "Salute to Service" dinner in West Virginia that he "hit a home run" with Justice Neil Gorsuch, whom he picked for the nation's high court last year. Trump says, "We're going to hit a home run here."

Trump spoke to three potential Supreme Court nominees Tuesday before departing the White House.

On Monday, the president interviewed federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. That's according to a person with knowledge of the meetings who was not authorized to speak publicly about them.

— Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey contributed.

THAILAND-CAVE SEARCH

Soccer players speaking from Thai cave say they are healthy

MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) — The soccer teammates stranded more than a week in a partly flooded cave say they are healthy on a new Thai navy video.

The boys and their coach introduce themselves individually with the camera turning to show a Thai navy SEAL with them. They smile at times and interact with the SEAL who asks questions.

Some appeared to be wearing a change of clothes since they were found late Monday and most were wrapped in foil warming blankets.

The video lasting about a minute was recorded sometime Tuesday and was posted on the navy SEAL Facebook page Wednesday morning.

The group had entered the cave in northern Thailand on June 23 before flooding cut off the main entrance. Rescuers are studying how to extract them safely.

INDEPENDENCE DAY

Americans views mixed as nation's birthday nears

BOSTON (AP) — Americans are reflecting on what Independence Day means as the country prepares to celebrate its 242nd birthday.

In New York, Baudel Ivan Osorio Herrera is thankful he'll celebrate the holiday as an American citizen for the first time. The 32-year-old native of Mexico took his citizenship oath Tuesday at the city's iconic public library.

Vietnam War veteran Thomas Moe, in Lancaster, Ohio, says the July 4 holiday should be a day to appreciate how the nation's many differences "make us great."

In Alabaster, Alabama, retired truck driver Floyd Champion says he feels more patriotic than ever because he's a big fan of President Donald Trump. He said he'll spend the day selling produce from the back of his truck. In Champion's view, these are the best of times in America.

TRUMP-THE LATEST

The Latest: Trump celebrates service members ahead of July 4

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump celebrated active-duty service members and veterans during a military tribute on the eve of Independence Day.

The president spoke Tuesday during a "Salute to Service" charity dinner at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. He praised "Americans of every generation" who have served in the armed forces.

The event was held in conjunction with the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic, which has been rechristened as "A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier." The venerable resort is owned by the state's Republican governor, presidential ally Jim Justice.

Highlighting his efforts to boost spending for the military, Trump said, "As the golfers can tell you, the stronger we get, the less likely it is that we will have to use it."

WAREHOUSE PARTY FIRE-THE LATEST

The Latest: Men plead no contest in deadly California fire

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Two defendants have each pleaded no contest to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in a fire at an illegally converted California warehouse that occurred during an unpermitted concert.

Under the terms of the plea agreement Tuesday, Derick Almena could be sentenced to nine years in prison and Max Harris could receive a six-year sentence. A judge will sentence them at a later date.

Authorities say the 48-year-old Almena rented the warehouse and illegally converted it into an entertainment venue and residences before the December 2016 blaze.

The 28-year-old Harris helped Almena collect rent and schedule concerts

Prosecutors say the men turned the cluttered building into a "death trap" with few exits, rickety stairs and dark and dangerous passageways.

Both men are only expected to serve half their sentences. They have been in jail for a year.

NATO

NATO allies defend military spending amid Trump criticism

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO's European allies are pushing back against U.S. criticism that they are not spending enough on defense, as President Donald Trump ratchets up pressure ahead of a summit next week.

After Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, NATO allies agreed in 2014 to end defense budget cuts, to begin spending more as their economies grew and to move toward a goal of 2 percent of GDP within a decade.

In an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday, Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said that "Norway stands by its decision of the NATO Summit in 2014 and is following up on this."

Ahead of the July 11-12 summit, Trump sent letters to Norway and several other allies demanding that they recommit to military spending.

MALAYSIA-POLITICS-THE LATEST

The Latest: Ex-Malaysia leader pleads not guilty, seeks bail

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has pleaded not guilty to all 4 charges in the corruption case brought against him by state prosecutors.

"I claim trial" he said in a barely audible voice as he stood in the dock at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

His lawyers have applied for bail and the amount is still being argued in court. Prosecutors want 4 million ringgit (nearly $1 million) bail.

9.15 a.m.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been charged in a Malaysian lower court with three counts of criminal breach of trust stemming from the corruption scandal at a state investment fund.

Each of the three charges has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Whipping is also a penalty but Najib would be exempt because he is over 60 years old.

A judge said Najib is accused of abusing his power between December 2014 and March 2015 when about $10 million was transferred from a former unit of the 1MDB state fund to his bank account.

The case will be transferred to the High Court where Najib is expected to make his plea Wednesday. He has denied any wrongdoing.

OBIT-ALAN DIAZ

Alan Diaz, AP photographer behind Elian image, dies at 71

MIAMI (AP) — Retired Associated Press photojournalist Alan Diaz, whose photo of a terrified 6-year-old Cuban boy named Elian Gonzalez earned him the Pulitzer Prize, has died. He was 71.

Diaz's daughter, Aillette Rodriguez-Diaz, confirmed that he died Tuesday.

Diaz's iconic image shows an armed U.S. immigration agent confronting the boy in the Little Havana home where he lived with relatives after being found floating off the Florida coast.

Diaz had grown close to the boy's relatives and their neighbors. When the pre-dawn raid began in April 2000, a friend of the family ushered him inside to photograph it.

Diaz had been freelancing for AP when the saga began. AP hired him full-time two months after the raid, eventually sending him to cover sporting events, hurricanes and other assignments. He retired in December.

WESTERN WILDFIRES-THE LATEST

The Latest: California fire threatens 1,000 buildings

GUINDA, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters battling a Northern California wildfire that threatens nearly 1,000 homes and buildings say cooler weather may help efforts to corral the flames.

The temperature was around 90 in the area on Tuesday and the high is expected to drop by about 5 degrees Wednesday.

However, state fire officials say the erratic winds and tinder-dry brush and grass fueling the explosive spread of flames can still hamper containment.

No homes have burned but some areas have been under evacuation orders for days.

The fire is burning in three rural counties northwest of Sacramento and is only 15 percent contained. The County Fire has charred 113 square miles (294 square kilometers).

Firefighters have been using aircraft, bulldozers and backfires to curb the blaze.

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