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

March 06, 2017 - 6:49 pm


NEW: House GOP releases bill replacing Obama health care overhaul

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans have released their long-awaited bill dismantling much of former President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The measure would roll back the government's health care role and is expected to result in fewer people having insurance coverage.

House committees planned votes on the legislation Wednesday. That will launch perhaps the year's defining battle in Congress, and GOP success is by no means assured because of internal divisions.

The plan would repeal the law's fines on people who don't purchase health insurance. Instead of the statute's income-based premium subsidies, people would get tax credits based on age. The subsidies would phase out for higher-earning people.

Obama's expansion of Medicaid to more lower-income people would continue until 2020. The bill would eventually change how the federal government helps finance that program.


Experts say there's still room for challenges to revised ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — Legal experts say the revised travel ban that was issued today by the Trump administration addresses some of the constitutional issues raised by a federal appeals court about the initial ban. But they say there is still room for additional legal challenges.

Law professor Stephen Vladeck of the University of Texas says removing language that would give priority to religious minorities helps address concerns that the initial ban was discriminatory. But he says its continued focus on Muslim-majority countries leaves the appearance that the order is a "Muslim ban."

Trump administration officials say that even with the changes in the travel ban, the goal hasn't changed: keeping would-be terrorists out of the United States while the government reviews the vetting system for refugees and visa applicants from certain parts of the world.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson describes the revised order as "a vital measure for strengthening our national security."

The White House dropped Iraq from the list of targeted countries following pressure from the Pentagon and State Department, which noted Iraq's role in fighting the Islamic State group.


NEW: DHS chief: Agency may separate parents, children at border

WASHINGTON (AP) — Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says his agency is considering separating children and parents caught crossing the Mexican border illegally.

Kelly says such a move would be part of a broader effort to stop families from making the dangerous trek across Mexico to the United States border. He confirmed that he's considering the action during an interview with CNN Monday.

Tens of thousands of parents and children mostly fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have been caught crossing the border illegally in recent years. Generally, the families are detained for a few days or weeks before being released to wait for an immigration judge to decide their fate.

It can take years for a case to be completed in federal immigration court.


Poll: Small majority in US see risk in admitting refugees

WASHINGTON (AP) — A small majority of Americans see refugees as a risk apart from other legal immigrants.

A new poll shows two-thirds of Americans say the benefit of admitting legal immigrants outweighs the risk. But when it comes to refugees — those fleeing persecution — a bare majority says the risks are great enough to limit their entry into the United States.

The distinction could be one of perception at a time of religious and politically inspired violence. President Donald Trump has long linked immigration limits with a safer country. Trump on Monday halted for 90 days entry to the U.S. for people from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya Somalia and Yemen — except for those holding valid visas.

The poll was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.


As president, Trump seeks answers on his own wiretap mystery

WASHINGTON (AP) — If Donald Trump wants to know whether he was the subject of any surveillance by the U.S. government, he may be uniquely positioned to get an answer.

A series of weekend tweets by the president focused public attention on an intelligence collection process long shrouded in secrecy. He accused former President Barack Obama of ordering wiretaps on his phones, but offered no proof to back the claim, and the White House then called on Congress to investigate the allegations.

But former government lawyers say Trump doesn't need Congress to answer this question.


Attorney general clarifies testimony on Russian contacts

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions has clarified his confirmation hearing testimony to acknowledge having spoken twice last year with the Russian ambassador.

The filing Monday amends testimony Sessions gave in January when he said he did not have communications with the Russians.

Sessions last week acknowledged that he had spoken with the ambassador once at the Republican National Convention last July and again at a meeting in his Senate office in September.

He agreed to recuse himself from any investigations involving the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the presidential election.

Sessions maintains in Monday's filing that he had answered the question honestly. He says he didn't mention communication with the ambassador because the question had not asked about it.


US calls NKorea missiles 'very serious threat'

WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House spokesman says the United States "stands with our allies" after North Korea fired four banned ballistic missiles.

Sean Spicer said Monday that the launches "are consistent with North Korea's long history of provocative behavior." He also called them a "very serious threat."

Spicer said the administration "is taking steps to enhance our ability to defend against North Korea's ballistic missiles, such as through the deployment" of the U.S. missile defense system known as THAAD.

Officials say the North Korean missiles were fired early Monday with three landing in waters that Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone.


Lawyer says transgender teens are left in limbo

WASHINGTON (AP) — Now that the Supreme Court has decided not to rule on which bathroom a transgender Virginia teen can use at school, a lawyer for the teen says other transgender youth will have to wait another year or two for the issue to be resolved.

The justices opted not to decide whether federal anti-discrimination law gives high school senior Gavin Grimm the right to use the boys' bathroom in his Virginia school.

The case had been scheduled for argument later this month. Instead, a lower court in Virginia will now have to evaluate the federal Title 9 law, and the extent to which it applies to transgender students.


American Indians protesting Trump, pipeline with march

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — American Indians from around the country are gathering in Washington for four days of protest against the Trump administration and the Dakota Access pipeline that will culminate with a Friday march on the White House.

Starting Tuesday, tribal members and supporters plan to camp each day on the National Mall, with teepees, a ceremonial fire, cultural workshops and speakers.

On Friday, a 2-mile march is planned to the White House, where a rally is scheduled.

Sioux tribes oppose the $3.8 billion pipeline to move North Dakota oil to Illinois. Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners expects to have oil flowing this month, after getting the green light for final construction from the Trump administration last month. Sioux tribes are fighting the project in court.


Carson compares immigration to America to slavery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is comparing slavery to immigration in the United States, a view that one slavery expert calls "inappropriate and wildly inaccurate."

Carson was talking about the work ethic of immigrants who came through Ellis Island during his first speech to the department on Monday. He said, "There were other immigrants who came here on the bottom of slave ships."

A HUD spokesman declined to comment when asked about Carson's statement.

Rana Hogarth is a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She says slaves, unlike immigrants, were "a group of people making this journey against their will."

Hogarth is calling on Carson to correct his statement.


Confederate-themed Mississippi flag heading back to court

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A long-running feud over the Confederate battle emblem on the Mississippi flag is moving onto a new legal battlefield.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday over reviving a 2016 lawsuit filed by an African-American attorney, Carlos Moore. He contends the flag is "state-sanctioned hate speech."

The flag has been used since 1894, causing division for generations. Opponents say it's a reminder of slavery and segregation, while supporters say it represents history and heritage.

A federal district judge dismissed Moore's suit in September. He said Moore lacked legal standing to sue because he failed to show the emblem caused an identifiable legal injury.

Moore wants the appeals court to order the district judge to hold a full trial on his arguments.


NEW: 5-year-old wins Oklahoma spelling bee, heading for nationals

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A 5-year-old girl is bound for the Scripps National Spelling Bee after becoming the youngest winner of a regional competition in Oklahoma.

Edith Fuller won the Tulsa-area contest by correctly spelling jnana (juh-nah-nuh). Merriam-Webster defines the word as meaning knowledge acquired through meditation in the Hindu tradition.

The Tulsa World reports (http://bit.ly/2mcFYmD ) Edith beat out more than 50 other elementary and middle school students Saturday. Edith is home-schooled and represented the TBC Home Education Fellowship in the bee.

Edith's mother Annie Fuller tells the newspaper she's glad her daughter held her own. The girl says she feels thankful.

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