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

March 23, 2017 - 4:43 pm


House GOP leaders postpone health care vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republican leaders have postponed a vote on their health care bill in a setback for President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan.

Prospects for the Republicans' showcase health care bill had looked grimmer by the minute Thursday despite Trump's personal lobbying of conservatives. That still left the legislation short of the votes needed for passage.

A senior Republican official said the vote would be delayed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal discussions.

House Republicans plan to meet behind closed doors Thursday night to consider their next steps.

Republicans were intent on voting to dismantle Obamacare on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of former President Barack Obama signing the bill into law.


Thousands gather for vigil in London

LONDON (AP) — Several thousand people have gathered in London's Trafalgar Square for a candlelit vigil to honor the victims and their families and to show London's unity in the face of militant attacks.

Dignitaries, police and clergy, including Buddhist monks in brown robes, gathered on the steps leading to the National Gallery. There was a strong sense of solidarity and camaraderie, with Muslims mingling with Jews and people stopping to thank the police for their work. After speeches and a minute's silence — the crowd was so quiet that Big Ben could be heard chiming in the distance — the home secretary, mayor and acting police commissioner lit the three oversize candles to applause from the crowd

Sughra Ahmed, a Muslim woman who traveled from northwest England for the vigil, said she'd been reduced to tears on the square by a woman who went out of her way to embrace her.

"Britain is one," she said. "An attack on one is an attack on us all."


Eight arrests follow attack

LONDON (AP) — British police say eight people have been arrested on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts in connection to the Westminster attack.

The arrests had been reported earlier but police did not specify the reason for the arrests until Thursday evening.

Seven were arrested overnight. Police say they included a woman arrested in east London; a man and a woman arrested in Birmingham; and a woman and three men arrested at a different location in Birmingham.

In addition, a man was arrested Thursday morning at a third address in Birmingham.

None have been charged and they have not been identified. Their ages range from 21 to 58.

The Met Police also say there were searches in Brighton and southeast London that have been concluded. Searches ongoing at addresses in Birmingham, east London and in Wales.


State Department tells embassies to ramp up visa screening

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department has ordered American embassies and consulates around the world to draw up criteria for certain "population sets" that should get extra scrutiny before getting U.S. travel visas.

The guidance was sent to help U.S. officials fulfill President Donald Trump's calls for enhanced vetting of visa applications.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the March 17 cable. It doesn't elaborate on what it means by "population sets."

The cable also tells U.S. overseas posts to review the social media accounts of visa applicants suspected of terrorist ties or who have ever been in Islamic State group-controlled areas.

The department declined to comment on the cable Thursday. It said it is working to put in place the enhanced vetting Trump has instructed officials to establish.


NEW: Republicans demand tougher stance on Chinese human rights

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Republican lawmakers say the Trump administration must criticize China's human rights record.

The call comes after the U.S. wouldn't join other countries in criticizing China for alleged torture of lawyers.

Sen. Marco Rubio says the abstention sent a "disturbing message to democracy advocates." He says the U.S. must highlight "brutal repression against Chinese human rights lawyers and activists."

Britain, Germany, Canada and eight others signed a letter raising the concerns and urging China to investigate claims that lawyer Xie Yang and others were tortured.

Some activists saw the U.S. abstention as evidence the Trump administration is de-emphasizing human rights promotion.

Rep. Chris Smith, a longtime critic of Beijing, says he expects President Donald Trump to raise China's "abysmal record" with President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago next month.


White House says Schumer stance is 'disappointing'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says it's "truly disappointing" that Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has announced that he intends to oppose Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Spokesman Sean Spicer says the announcement breaks with the tradition of how the Senate has handled Supreme Court confirmation votes in modern times.

He says it also represents the type of partisanship the public is tired of.

Spicer says Senate Republicans did not filibuster, or try to block, a confirmation vote on Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, the two justices that former President Barack Obama nominated to the nation's highest court.

Spicer says the American people voted for a "fair up or down vote" on Gorsuch. He's calling on Schumer to abandon his plans.


Feds: Trump DC hotel not in violation of government lease

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal agency overseeing Donald Trump's lease for a luxury hotel in Washington has ruled his election as president doesn't violate the terms of his agreement barring government officials from profiting from the property.

In a letter to the Trump Organization on Thursday, the General Services Administration says it has determined that the president's business is in "full compliance."

The lease for the Trump International Hotel expressly forbids any federal official from participating in the project, a $200 million renovation of a former Post Office building a few blocks from the White House. Numerous ethics experts have questioned whether Trump violated the terms of his lease the moment he took the oath of office.

Trump says he has transferred control of his business empire to his adult children.


Justice investigating California GOP congressman

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is investigating California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter for possible campaign violations.

The House Ethics panel has been investigating allegations that Hunter improperly used campaign funds to pay for tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses, such as trips to Hawaii and Italy and tuition for Hunter's school-age children.

The panel said in a statement Thursday that it is delaying the inquiry at the request of the Justice Department.

Hunter won a fifth term last year representing the San Diego area.

Hunter's lawyers said Thursday he and his wife repaid the campaign about $60,000 and said Hunter intends to cooperate with the government investigation.


Jewish leaders welcome arrest of threat suspect

MIAMI (AP) — Jewish community leaders in Florida expressed relief that a suspect has been arrested in the wave of bomb threats against Jewish targets across the United States in recent weeks but said it was unclear whether he was the sole perpetrator.

Michael Balaban, president of the Jewish Federation of Broward County, and Scott Ehrlich, chief executive officer of the David Posnack Jewish Community Center, said in a joint statement they "are glad a suspect has been arrested."

Israeli police say they arrested a Jewish hacker with Israeli and American citizenship who they suspected was behind the threats.

But Balaban and Ehrlich said that "based on the limited information provided, we don't know whether this is the main perpetrator or a copycat. We are grateful to law enforcement for their efforts and at this time await further details."

The Posnack Center in Davie, Florida, which has about 500 students from kindergarten through high school, received threats on Feb. 27 and March 7, leading to evacuations. The suburban Fort Lauderdale school had armed guards at its entrances on Thursday.

The Anti-Defamation League says there have been more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and day schools in 37 states and two Canadian provinces since Jan. 9. The threats were accompanied by acts of vandalism on several Jewish cemeteries.


Lawyer: If facts true, white vet has 'issues'

NEW YORK (AP) — The lawyer for a white Army veteran accused of murder as a hate crime says if the facts of the case match the allegations, he will need to address "obvious psychological issues."

Twenty-eight-year-old James Harris Jackson was charged Thursday in Manhattan in the death of 66-year-old Timothy Caughman. Jackson is being held without bail and did not enter a plea.

Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi said it's possible the charges could be upgraded because the killing was an act "most likely of terrorism."

She says Jackson came to New York City bent on killing as many black men as possible, but he surrendered before killing anyone else.

Jackson's attorney Sam Talkin told reporters he needs to let the dust settle and investigate. Jackson said nothing in court.


Deliberations begin

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A jury has begun deliberations in the criminal trial of Penn State's former president.

Graham Spanier (SPAN'-yur) is accused of mishandling complaints that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was molesting boys.

He's charged with two felony counts of child endangerment and one felony count of conspiracy.

A prosecutor said Thursday during closing arguments that Spanier gambled with the welfare of children by not reporting a 2001 complaint against Sandusky to state child welfare authorities.

The defense said there was no evidence Spanier committed a crime.

Spanier was forced out as president in 2011, after Sandusky was arrested. He remains a tenured faculty member.

Sandusky is in prison on child molestation convictions.


Perry blasts election of 1st gay Texas A&M student president

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the first openly gay student body president at his alma mater, Texas A&M University, may have "stolen" the election.

The former Texas governor alleges that the possible advancement of ideals about diversity trumped electoral fairness on campus.

In a Houston Chronicle op-ed, Perry wrote that the election "at best made a mockery of due process and transparency" and at worst "allowed an election to be stolen outright."

A presidential cabinet member, especially one in charge of America's nuclear stockpiles, picking a fight with their university might seem unthinkable politically. But not to those who know Perry best.

He has long been passionate about A&M for decades and long been wary of what he calls political correctness run wild.


NEW: Police look for Tennessee teacher, missing teen in Texas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Police in Corpus Christi, Texas, are looking for a Tennessee school teacher and a student he's accused of kidnapping.

Senior Officer Travis Pace says authorities in Tennessee shared a tip with the Corpus Christi Police that a vehicle matching the description of teacher Tad Cummins' car was seen in the city's North Beach area.

Pace said police have not spotted the 50-year-old health sciences teacher or the missing teen, but officers are reviewing surveillance video from a convenience store.

School records show Cummins taught forensics to 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas, who was last seen on March 13.


Canada's largest school board stops booking new US travel

TORONTO (AP) — Canada's largest school board will no longer book any trips to the U.S. because of fears students might have trouble at the border due to travel restrictions enacted by President Donald Trump.

The Toronto District School Board cited the uncertainty of the new travel restrictions Wednesday. Director of Education John Malloy said students should not be placed into situations of potentially being turned away at the border. He says the board remains committed to fairness, equity, and inclusion. Trips already been approved will be allowed to proceed.

The board is one of the largest in North America with over 246,000 students and 584 schools.

Other Canadian school boards have canceled or are considering canceling trips to the U.S. The Girl Guides of Canada have cancelled all U.S. travel.


UPDATE: Delay on health vote sinks a stock rally

NEW YORK (AP) —An early rally evaporated on Wall Street and left indexes slightly lower after a vote on the Republican-backed health care bill was delayed.

Investors worry that the setback Thursday will mean a longer wait for business-friendly policies like tax cuts.

Health care and energy stocks fell. Centene fell 4 percent and Baker Hughes lost 2.3 percent.

Google's parent company, Alphabet, fell 1 percent after several major companies said they will stop advertising on YouTube because their ads were appearing alongside offensive videos.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,345.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 4 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 20,656. The Nasdaq composite slid 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,817.

Small-company stocks rose.

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