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

March 22, 2017 - 12:46 am


UPDATE: Seoul believes N Korea's latest missile test ends in failure

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea's latest missile launch Wednesday appears to have ended in a failure. That's what South Korean defense officials say, three days after the North claimed a major breakthrough in its rocket development program.

The reported launch failure comes as the North is angrily reacting to ongoing annual U.S.-South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal. Earlier this month, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles that landed in waters off Japan, triggering strong protests from Seoul and Tokyo.

Seoul's Defense Ministry says that on Wednesday morning, the North fired a missile from the eastern coastal town of Wonsan but the launch was believed to have ended in a failure.

The ministry says it's analyzing what type of missile was launched.


Gorsuch faces hours of questioning from senators

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch says "there is a lot" he regrets about the confirmation process, including putting his family through it.

President Donald Trump's pick appeared to grow somewhat testy after more than four hours of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asked about a 2010 Supreme Court decision allowed for more money in politics. Gorsuch refused to offer an opinion on the case. But he replied: "There's a lot about the confirmation process today that I regret. A lot. A lot."

Gorsuch said the late Justice Byron White, a fellow Coloradan who was confirmed in 1962, had a hearing that lasted 90 minutes and smoked through it. Gorsuch also referred to "putting my family through this."


GOP senator rejects revised health care bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas has become the latest Republican senator to go on record against the GOP health care bill that is nearing a vote in the House.

In a statement Tuesday, Cotton said he cannot support the legislation even after the latest changes by House leaders. And Cotton added he doesn't think it can pass the Senate. He urged the House to slow down and continue to refine the legislation.

Cotton said the changes to the House Republicans' American Health Care Act "do little to address the core problem of Obamacare: rising premiums and deductibles, which are making insurance unaffordable for too many Arkansans."

Republicans can only afford to lose two of their own party members in the Senate, in which they hold a 52-seat majority.


Trump makes final push for health care bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is making his final pitch for the GOP health care bill at a House Republican fundraiser.

Trump says Thursday's vote is "crucial" for the Republican Party.

He's putting his full weight behind the plan, saying the bill "ends the Obamacare nightmare" and returns health care decisions back to the states and American people.

He says, "These are the conservative solutions we campaigned on and these are the conservative solutions the American people asked us as a group to deliver."

Trump adds, "it's time to get busy, get to work and to get the job done."

Trump is speaking at the National Republican Congressional Committee's March Dinner at the National Building Museum.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said the event raised a record-breaking $30.1 million for the group


New security measures could cause travelers to reroute trips

DALLAS (AP) — A new U.S. security measure banning many electronic devices on flights from 10 mostly Muslim countries is leading travelers to reconsider their plans to fly through some airports in the Middle East.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that passengers on U.S.-bound flights at 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa will have to check electronics bigger than a cellphone. Laptops, tablets, cameras and other gadgets will have to be placed in checked baggage.

The order is a concern for business travelers, journalists and other professionals who work on the devices and use them to store sensitive information.

Paula Berger, an energy-company manager, and a co-worker have tickets to fly from Houston through Dubai to India, where her company has an office. The new rules would require Berger to surrender the laptop she carries and put it in checked baggage on the return trip next month. She is worried the device could be stolen. She says she hasn't yet found a way to re-route the trip without it costing thousands of dollars more.


Muslim advocacy group seeks broader travel-ban injunction

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A judge is weighing a request from a Muslim civil rights group for an even broader injunction against President Donald Trump's proposed travel ban than what is already in place.

Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland have issued orders that already block the vast majority of Trump's revised ban, which would restrict immigration from refugees and from six majority-Muslim countries.

At a hearing Tuesday in Alexandria, lawyers for the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked a judge to issue an injunction blocking the entire executive order. Lawyer Gadeir (geh-DEER') Abbas said a section of the order affecting how waivers are granted for visa applicants remains in force.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler said the remaining provisions of the travel ban have no practical effect on how the government issues visas.


Trump to travel to Brussels for NATO meeting in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has announced what is expected to be President Donald Trump's first foreign trip.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer says the president will travel to Brussels, Belgium, on May 25 for a meeting with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization heads of state.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the meeting earlier Tuesday.

Spicer says the president is looking forward to meeting with his NATO counterparts "to reaffirm our strong commitment to NATO, and to discuss issues critical to the alliance, especially allied responsibility-sharing and NATO's role in the fight against terrorism."

Stoltenberg is set to visit the White House on April 12.

Trump accused NATO of being "obsolete" during the campaign and criticized Brussels, equating it to "like living in a hellhole right now."


Earthquake rocks Indonesia's tourist Bali island

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An earthquake has hit Indonesia's resort island of Bali, causing some panic among resident, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The United States Geological Survey says the magnitude 5.5 earthquake that struck at 7:10 a.m. Wednesday (23:10 GMT Tuesday) was centered 2 kilometers (1,4 miles) northeast of Banjar Pasekan, a town on the southeastern part Bali, at a depth of 118 kilometers (74 miles).

Witnesses said many residents and tourists ran out of their homes and hotels toward higher ground, but the situation returned to normal after they received text messages saying the quake had no potential to trigger a tsunami.

Indonesia is prone to the seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire.


NEW: Vietnam sentences 9 men to death for drug trafficking

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnamese state media say a court has sentenced nine men to death for trafficking more than 1,000 pounds of heroin.

The Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that the court in Hoa Binh province also sentenced nine others to life imprisonment and four others from 17 to 20 years in jail at the end of the 23-day trial on Tuesday.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that the ring was convicted of trafficking 495 kilograms (1,089 pounds) of heroin from Laos through Vietnam for sale in China from 2012 until the ring was broken up in 2015.

The newspaper says the ring made illegal profits of $672,000.

Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws, where trafficking 100 grams of heroin is punishable by death.


NEW: 1 student dead, 20 injured in stampede at Chinese school

BEIJING (AP) — A local government in central China says one student has died and 20 others were injured following a stampede during a morning bathroom break at an elementary school.

The Puyang county government in Henan province says Thursday's incident is under investigation.

Overcrowding and poor building design and construction have been blamed for past crushing deaths and injuries at Chinese schools. Other safety problems have included the use of running tracks made from scrap that sickened students with their noxious fumes.

China deadliest stampede incident in recent years came during new year festivities on Jan. 1, 2015, when 36 people died in a crush along Shanghai's riverfront esplanade.


NEW: Survey: US high schools seen as easier by exchange students

WASHINGTON (AP) — Easier classes, less homework and lots of sports — this is how American high schools are viewed by students from other countries studying in the U.S.

Foreign exchange students continue to view the American high school experience as much less stimulating. That's according to a study published Wednesday. This reaction comes after a push in recent years to make the U.S. education system more competitive and effective.

Tom Loveless, a fellow with the Brown Center on Education Policy with the Brookings Institution, had findings in his study that appear to corroborate international student assessment tests in which American schools trail behind many developed countries.

But some experts had questions about the study's methodology.


NEW: For juveniles sentenced to Shakespeare, the world's a stage

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Some juvenile offenders in Massachusetts are offered a choice straight out of "Hamlet": to act or not to act.

Shakespeare & Company, a theater company in Lenox, works with the courts to get youngsters who run afoul of the law sentenced to perform works of Shakespeare on stage as an alternative to community service or juvenile detention.

For the last 17 years, Shakespeare in the Courts has been used to sentence youths accused of a variety of lower-level crimes, including larceny, vandalism and assault and battery.

The probation officers, teachers and others who work in the program hope it will help the teens fulfill a commitment and foster a sense of pride.

Eight teens will perform scenes and monologues from various Shakespeare plays on March 22.

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