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

March 24, 2017 - 1:54 am


UPDATE: Trump threatens to walk away from health care

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is threatening to leave "Obamacare" in place and move on to other issues if a House vote on a Republican replacement health care plan fails on Friday.

The outcome of the planned vote is impossible to predict.

Even after a long day of talks Thursday, both conservative and moderate lawmakers claimed the bill lacked the votes.


NEW: Maryland high school thrust into immigration debate

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — A Maryland high school has been thrust into the national immigration debate after a 14-year-old student said she was raped in a school bathroom by two classmates. One is an 18-year-old from Guatemala who came to the U.S. illegally.

Protesters on both sides of the debate converged on a nearby elementary school Thursday during a visit by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

And the White House has weighed in on the incident, saying the president has made a crackdown on illegal immigration a priority "because of tragedies like this."


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."


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.


UN report: Sanctions disrupt humanitarian aid to North Korea

TOKYO (AP) — International sanctions on North Korea are taking a serious toll on humanitarian aid activities, according to a United Nations-led report.

The report issued this week by the U.N.'s senior resident official in Pyongyang said sanctions are inadvertently hindering legitimate operations on the ground and have indirectly contributed to a "radical decline" in donations it said are badly needed by millions of North Korean women and children.

It said "chronic food insecurity, early childhood malnutrition and nutrition insecurity" continue to be widespread in the North, which it noted ranked 98th out of 118 countries in the 2016 Global Hunger Index.

More than 10 million people — or about 41 percent of the North Korean population — are undernourished, it said.


Former Manafort deputy, inauguration official leaves group

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former Trump campaign official is leaving an outside group set up to promote President Donald Trump's policies.

In a tweet, the America First Policies group says Rick Gates is "on to more ventures" but doesn't explain the reason for his departure.

Gates was a deputy to Paul Manafort, one of the Trump campaign associates whose ties to Russia are being scrutinized. The Associated Press reported that Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago.

Gates helped run the inauguration and has been seen inside the White House on a number of occasions.

The outside group is organized as a nonprofit, meaning it does not have to disclose its donors. Its leaders say they have primarily been working on fundraising.


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.


Crews set to load ferry onto transport ship

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean salvage crews have raised a sunken, 6,800-ton ferry high enough out of the water so they can load it onto a transport vessel that will carry it to a port.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said Friday that the upper side of the Sewol, which had been lifted from the seafloor where it was lying sideways, was now 13 meters (42 feet) above the water's surface.

Workers will now attempt to load the ferry onto a semi-submersible transport vessel.

They aim to finish that by late Friday as currents are forecast to strengthen on Saturday.


Investigator who leaked chokehold officer's records resigns

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York police watchdog group investigator who leaked disciplinary records on the officer involved in the police chokehold death of Eric Garner has resigned.

Civilian Complaint Review Board secretary Jerika Richardson says the agency swiftly identified the source of the leak. The investigator resigned Thursday when faced with termination over the leaking of Officer Daniel Pantaleo's records to Thinkprogress.org.

The investigator worked for the agency for less than a year and wasn't publicly identified.

The agency investigates claims of police misconduct and offers disciplinary suggestions to the police department.

The leaked records showed Pantaleo had eight misconduct cases, four substantiated. His union applauds the resignation.

Garner was an unarmed black man. His 2014 death at the hands of a white policeman sparked protests.

A medical examiner cited a chokehold in Garner's death. The officer denied using a chokehold.


Deliberations to resume in Penn State ex-president's trial

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Jurors in former Penn State president Graham Spanier's child endangerment case are preparing to resume their discussions after failing to reach a verdict over six hours.

The panel of seven women and five men are scheduled to restart their closed-door talks Friday morning at a courthouse in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Spanier is accused of conspiracy and two counts of endangerment for his handling of complaints about former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky more than 15 years ago.

The 68-year-old Spanier was forced out as university president in 2011, shortly after Sandusky was charged with sexual abuse of children.

Spanier's defense rested Thursday without putting on any evidence. Two of his former top lieutenants within the university administration took plea deals to a misdemeanor last week and testified for the prosecution.

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