Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment

March 04, 2017 - 12:15 pm

TRUMP-WIRETAP

Trump claims Obama had his phones wiretapped; no proof cited

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of having Trump Tower telephone lines "wire tapped" during last year's election, but Trump didn't offer any evidence or say what prompted the allegation.

Trump, whose administration has been under siege over campaign contacts with Russian officials, said in a series of early morning tweets that he "just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!'

Trump said the wiretapping occurred in October. Trump ran the presidential transition largely out of Trump Tower in New York, where he also maintains a residence.

It was not clear what prompted Trump's new charge. The president often tweets about reports he reads on blogs and conservative-leaning websites.

In recent days, the Breitbart News website has published reports citing other anonymously sourced or unconfirmed reports about Obama administration attempts to investigate Trump campaign ties to Moscow. The Associated Press has not confirmed those reports.

The White House did not immediately reply to inquiries about what led to the president's tweets. A spokesman for Obama did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

MARCH 4 TRUMP

NEW: Supporters gather for 'March 4 Trump' rallies around US

NEW YORK (AP) — Supporters of President Donald Trump plan to convene at Trump Tower, the Washington Monument and scores of other places around the country in marches to show their pride in his presidency.

Saturday's "March 4 Trump" demonstrations are also intended to show unity in the face of what organizers call "a seditious fringe" aiming to sabotage his vision for the country.

Trump supporters have held rallies in recent weeks to counter demonstrations against him, including women's marches the day after his inauguration and protests over his since-blocked executive order halting acceptance of refugees and temporarily barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the U.S.

There were pro-Trump demonstrations in Monday in cities ranging from Denver to Atlanta. Trump himself also held a campaign rally in Florida Feb. 18.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

Amid firestorm, Trump appears to waver on Russia deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing a new wave of questions about his ties to Russia, President Donald Trump is telling advisers and allies that he may shelve — at least temporarily — his plan to pursue a deal with Moscow on the Islamic State group and other national security matters.

That's according to administration officials and Western diplomats.

In conversations with diplomats and other officials, Trump and his aides have ascribed the new thinking to Moscow's recent provocations. But the reconsideration of a central tenet of his foreign policy underscores the growing political risks in forging closer relations with Russia.

Trump's new skepticism about brokering a deal with Moscow suggests the rising influence of a new crop of advisers who have taken a tougher stance on Russia.

PENCE-EMAIL

NEW: Emails from VP Pence's time as governor delivered in Indiana

(Information in the following story is from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys for Vice President Mike Pence have turned over 13 boxes of emails from his time as Indiana governor.

The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/2m4OK6j ) says the emails were delivered Thursday to be archived for public review as required under Indiana law. Stephanie Wilson, a spokeswoman for Gov. Eric Holcomb, says the contents haven't been fully reviewed but it's possible the state might already have the same emails.

Pence spokesman Marc Lotter says the emails are from government accounts as well as Pence's private email account used for government business. That account was disclosed Thursday.

Lotter says Pence's attorneys tried to deliver boxes of emails on Jan. 9, his last day as governor. But Lotter says there was a "lack of clarity" in state government about what to do with them.

SOMALIA-DROUGHT

Somalia: 110 dead from hunger in past 48 hours in drought

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — — Somalia's prime minister said Saturday that 110 people have died from hunger in the past 48 hours in a single region — the first death toll announced in a severe drought threatening millions of people across the country.

Somalia's government declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. The United Nations estimates that 5 million people in this Horn of Africa nation need aid, amid warnings of a full-blown famine.

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire spoke during a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee. The death toll he announced is from the Bay region in the southwest part of the country alone.

Somalia was one of four regions singled out by the U.N. secretary-general last month in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine, along with northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. All are connected by a thread of violent conflict, the U.N. chief said.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator, Stephen O'Brien, is expected to visit Somalia in the next few days.

SOUTH SUDAN-FAMINE

NEW: Famine-hit South Sudan sharply raises foreigners' work fees

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — South Sudan has sharply increased the cost required for foreigners to work in the country — from roughly $100 to up to $10,000 — just days after famine was declared there.

The Ministry of Labor raised work permit fees to anywhere from $10,000 to $1,000 depending on skill level, according to a memorandum dated Thursday.

Minister of Information Michael Makuei tells The Associated Press that the fee hikes apply only to foreigners and are aimed at increasing government revenue.

South Sudan's government and the United Nations late last month declared a famine in two counties, saying about 100,000 people are at risk.

The U.N. secretary-general and others have accused South Sudan's government of restricting humanitarian access in a country that has been devastated by three years of civil war.

DALLAS-CONDO FIRE

Authorities: Fire in Dallas condo complex, 1 slightly hurt

DALLAS (AP) — Authorities say more than 100 firefighters battled a late-night fire in a four-story condominium building in Dallas.

Officials say one person suffered minor injuries in the fire at the 60-unit complex.

The blaze was under control and mostly extinguished by Saturday morning. Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans says crews remained at the scene to monitor hot spots.

Evans says residents calmly exited just before 11:30 p.m. Friday because of smoke, shortly before flames erupted.

Evans says one person was taken to a hospital because of medical issues exacerbated by fire and smoke but was expected to be OK.

Evans had no immediate cause of the fire. American Red Cross officials say they were assisting about 100 displaced residents.

BRACERO HISTORIC SITE

Texas town looks to tell story of Mexican guest workers

DALLAS (AP) — A Texas border town is working to restore what is believed to be the only remaining site that once helped process the millions of Mexicans who came to the U.S. as temporary guest workers under a program that started during World War II.

The crumbling white adobe buildings at Rio Vista Farm in Socorro were the arrival point for "braceros" — Spanish for laborers. The braceros came to the U.S. to work on farms and railroads as part of a program in the middle part of the 20th century.

Local officials and preservationists hope to turn Rio Vista Farm into a site that will tell the story of the workers and a largely forgotten program that lasted for about 20 years.

HURRICANE HUNTER PLANES

NEW: New 'hurricane hunter' base on schedule for storm season

(Information in the following story is from: The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.), http://www.theledger.com)

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Officials say they're on schedule to open the new home base for the U.S. government's "hurricane hunter" aircraft before the Atlantic hurricane season begins.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's planes are specially equipped to collect forecasting data as they fly in and around tropical storms and hurricanes. The agency's aircraft are scheduled move May 1 to Lakeland Linder Regional Airport from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

Airport Manager Gene Conrad told The Ledger (http://bit.ly/2m68TZG ) that up to 80 workers are on site daily rebuilding a hanger to accommodate the large aircraft.

The project also includes a science lab, an operational hub and a maintenance shop. Airport Business Manager John Von Preysing said NOAA's move brings 110 "highly technical" jobs to the city.

Hurricane season starts June 1.

IDITAROD

NEW: Fan-friendly event kicks off Iditarod race across Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The sound of howling dogs is filling downtown Anchorage as the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race gets underway Saturday.

About 2,000 dogs belonging to the teams of 72 mushers are waiting their turns to hit the trail for this year's running of the world's most famous sled dog race.

The ceremonial start is a fan-friendly event designed to show off mushing to fans in Alaska's largest city. It will see mushers leave every two minutes in a staggered start along Fourth Avenue. The mushers will run their teams for 11 miles, on city streets and trails lined with fans.

The race turns more serious Monday when the competitive portion of the Iditarod starts in Fairbanks. The winner is expected in Nome about eight days later.

PEANUT BUTTER SUBSTITUTE-RECALL

Peanut butter substitute recalled after E. coli outbreak

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A peanut butter substitute sold by an Illinois company is being recalled because 12 cases of E. coli have been linked to the product.

Glenview-based I.M. Health SoyNut Butter Co . is voluntarily recalling its SoyNut Butter products.

E. coli cases in Arizona, California, Maryland, New Jersey and Oregon have been linked to the nut-free product

Illinois public health Director Dr. Nirav Shah says some E. coli infections are mild but others may be life-threatening. Young children are particularly vulnerable.

Health officials recommend people not eat any variety or size of I.M. Healthy-brand SoyNut Butter products or granola coated with the company's SoyNut Butter.

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