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

March 21, 2017 - 5:50 am


High court nominee to face daylong questioning in Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch faces hours of questioning from senators on Day Two of his confirmation hearing.

Frustrated Democrats are determined to press him on everything from abortion and guns to his independence from President Donald Trump.

Republicans are unanimously supporting Gorsuch, and certain to give him what cover they can as he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Gorsuch himself sought to emphasize his strong belief in the separation of powers in his opening statement Monday, pledging to be independent or "hang up the robe."

The first day of the hearing was given over to opening statements, with questions saved for Tuesday, and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley warned senators that the session could last 10 hours or more.


FBI probing Trump-Russia links, wiretap claims bogus

WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director James Comey is saying publicly for the first time that the FBI has been investigating whether Donald Trump's associates coordinated with Russian officials in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election.

Comey appeared Monday before the House intelligence committee in a bruising five-hour session.

Comey also said he has no information that former President Barack Obama wire-tapped Trump Tower phones during the presidential campaign.


Fox pulls Napolitano from air after Trump report

NEW YORK (AP) — A Fox News Channel legal analyst cited by President Donald Trump and his spokesman for claiming that British intelligence helped former President Barack Obama spy on Trump won't be in front of Fox cameras in the near future.

A person with knowledge of the situation says Andrew Napolitano has been sidelined by Fox.

He said on air last week on "Fox & Friends" that he had three intelligence sources who said Obama went "outside the chain of command" to snoop on Trump.

The allegation was knocked down Monday by FBI Director James Comey during testimony to lawmakers. Comey also dismissed Trump's claim his phones at Trump Tower were wiretapped.


GOP leaders propose health bill changes to help older people

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top House Republicans hunting votes for their health care overhaul are proposing amendments aimed at providing more help for older people, curbing Medicaid and accelerating the repeal of some tax increases.

The bill would let people deduct more medical costs from taxes. It would repeal many tax increases boosted by President Barack Obama's 2010 statute this year instead of 2018.

Older and disabled Medicaid recipients would get more generous benefits. But states could impose work requirements on the program.

The bill would let the Senate approve tax credits more generous to people age 50 to 64. Congressional analysts say the current GOP legislation would hit many with big cost increases.

GOP leaders released the changes late Monday, three days ahead of a planned House vote on the bill.


Trump urges support for health care plan so he can move on

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — President Donald Trump says, "We want a very big tax cut, but cannot do that until we keep our promise to repeal and replace the disaster known as 'Obamacare.'"

That's what Trump told supporters Monday night at a rally in Louisville, Kentucky.

Meanwhile, top House Republicans have unveiled proposed changes to their health care plan in an effort to win over more GOP.


Trump rips NFL QB Kaepernick during speech in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) — President Donald Trump has taken a swipe at controversial NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick at a campaign-style rally in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kaepernick, who played for the San Francisco 49ers but now is a free agent, hasn't yet been signed to another team.

Trump told the crowd he read an article reporting that NFL owners don't want to pick Kaepernick up "because they don't want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump."

"Do you believe that?" he asked the enthusiastic crowd.

Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem at the start of NFL games last season to protest police treatment of minorities.

Trump says of the people of Kentucky, "They like it when people actually stand for the American flag."


Ban aimed at electronics in cabins of some US-bound flights

WASHINGTON (AP) —Travelers on nonstop flights originating in eight countries won't be allowed to put many of their electronics in their carry-on luggage if they're headed to the U.S. The ban is temporary, and the U.S. government isn't saying why it's being imposed.

The ban applies to electronics such as laptops, iPads and cameras, and some of the nonstop flights affected serve the international cities of Cairo; Casablanca, Morocco; Istanbul and Amman, Jordan.


Police officer testifies as prosecution witness

MARKSVILLE, La. (AP) — A police officer who brandished his gun at the scene of a 6-year-old boy's fatal shooting in Louisiana says he didn't join two other officers in shooting at a car carrying the boy because he didn't fear for his life.

Marksville Police Lt. Kenneth Parnell was a witness for the prosecution Monday at the murder trial of Derrick Stafford, one of two deputy city marshals charged in the November 2015 shooting death of Jeremy Mardis.

Parnell's body camera captured the shooting and its bloody aftermath. Parnell acknowledged telling investigators he pulled his gun out of concern for "officer safety." Stafford's attorneys claim he acted in self-defense when he shot at the car driven by Mardis' father, Christopher Few, after a 2 mile chase.

Trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday.


Deadline set in case of Ohio mother accused of killing sons

BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio (AP) — Attorneys in the case of an Ohio woman accused of suffocating her three young sons out of jealousy at the attention her husband gave them have been given a deadline for filing any additional motions.

A judge set a May 15 deadline Monday in the case of Brittany Pilkington. Attorneys for the 25-year-old Bellefontaine (behl-FOWN'-tihn) woman said they need more time to prepare for trial. No trial date has been set.

Pilkington has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder charges. Authorities allege she killed her toddler son and two infants over a 13-month period in 2014 and 2015 and confessed to all three murders in a recorded police interview.

Pilkington's attorneys have tried unsuccessfully to get that video thrown out.

Bellefontaine is about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Columbus.


Former aides set to testify against Penn State ex-president

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Prosecutors preparing to lay out their case against Penn State's former president say two of his ex-top lieutenants are among those who could take the stand.

Opening statements are scheduled to get underway Tuesday in the long-delayed criminal trial in which Graham Spanier (SPAN'-yur) faces charges of child endangerment and conspiracy. The two sides will make their openings after four alternates are chosen for the jury.

Spanier is accused of mishandling child sex abuse complaints about retired assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Spanier denies any wrongdoing.

On Monday, seven women and five men were chosen for the main jury panel.

The attorney general's office's witness list includes two former Penn State officials who took plea deals last week.


US surgeon pleads guilty after New Zealand crash kills 2

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A 63-year-old Wisconsin heart surgeon who was on vacation in New Zealand with his wife has pleaded guilty to careless driving charges after police say he caused an accident while attempting a U-turn on a coastal highway last month, killing two people and injuring four others.

Kenneth Wolnak faces a maximum of three months in jail on each of the six charges after pleading guilty at the Nelson District Court on Tuesday. Wolnak's lawyer Tony Bamford says he doesn't expect Wolnak to serve jail time but rather to potentially meet with the victims or their families as part of a restorative justice procedure.

Bamford says Wolnak is trying to come to terms with what he's done after spending his career saving lives.

Wolnak works at Mercyhealth in Janesville, Wisconsin.


Martin McGuinness, Irish rebel turned politician, dies at 66

LONDON (AP) — Martin McGuinness, the Irish Republican Army warlord who led his underground, paramilitary movement toward reconciliation with Britain, and was Northern Ireland's deputy first minister for a decade in a power-sharing government, has died, his Sinn Fein party announced Tuesday on Twitter. He was 66.

The party said he died after a short illness.

McGuinness recently stepped down as deputy first minister of the Northern Ireland regional government, formed after the IRA ended its violent campaign.


Tennessee teacher had been reported kissing missing student

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A lawyer for the family of a missing Tennessee high school student says a teacher now accused of kidnapping her had been investigated by the school system after another student reported seeing the teacher kiss the girl.

Yet according to attorney Jason Whatley and school records, teacher Tad Cummins was allowed to continue working at Tennessee's Culleoka Unit School for two weeks.

Authorities say student Elizabeth Thomas was last seen on March 13 and is believed to be with the 50-year-old teacher.

Attorney Jason Whatley said school officials never told the girl's father that the teacher was reportedly seen kissing his 15-year-old daughter. Whatley said the father didn't find out until a week later, from law enforcement authorities.

Maury County school officials didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

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