Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment

March 12, 2017 - 7:36 am

SEVERE WEATHER

Storm to hit Northeast; blizzard watch for NYC, Boston

NEW YORK (AP) — Winter isn't finished with the Northeast yet. A powerful storm with high winds and up to a foot of snow is expected to hit the region next week.

The National Weather Service said Saturday there's a blizzard watch for coastal regions including New York City and Boston for Monday night into Tuesday. There's also a winter storm watch for an area that includes much of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, upstate New York and New England.

The severe weather comes after the region saw temperatures hit the 60s last week.

The blizzard watch for the New York metro area includes the city plus Long Island, coastal Connecticut and southern Westchester County.

A blizzard watch is in effect for southern Rhode Island and coastal Massachusetts from Boston to Plymouth.

DUBAI-TRUMP-EARNEST

AP Interview: Former Obama spokesman talks Trump, Russia

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A former White House spokesman during the Obama administration says he believes there's more that will come to light regarding ties between Russia and aides to President Donald Trump.

Josh Earnest, speaking to The Associated Press, pointed to political consultant Roger Stone's communication with an individual involved in hacking Democratic National Committee emails.

Earnest said that it's "undeniable that there's a lot of really good unanswered questions about why senior Trump officials are, at best, not being forthcoming about their interactions with Russians."

Asked about Trump's claim, made without evidence on Twitter, that Obama ordered a wiretap on him, Earnest said: "The bigger the scandal, the more outrageous the tweet."

Earnest was in Dubai on Sunday to attend the Public Diplomacy & Government Communication Forum.

TRUMP-WIRETAP

House panel wants any evidence Trump's phones were tapped

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House intelligence committee has asked the executive branch for any evidence that would support President Donald Trump's claim that his phones were tapped at Trump Tower during last year's election.

A senior congressional aide says that the committee has asked that the information be provided by Monday.

The aide says the request comes in a letter sent by the committee chairman, Devin Nunes of California, and the panel's ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff of California. Other lawmakers have made similar requests.

The aide isn't authorized to discuss the request by name and requested anonymity.

Trump has said his predecessor, Barack Obama, had the phones tapped. Trump has not provided evidence to support his claim and has asked Congress to investigate.

CHINA-POLITICS-ISLAM

NEW: Chinese Communist Party officials harden rhetoric on Islam

BEIJING (AP) — China's ruling Communist Party is hardening its rhetoric about Islam, with top officials making repeated warnings this past week about the specter of global religious extremism seeping into the country.

Shaerheti Ahan, a top political and legal affairs party official in Xinjiang (shihn-jahng), became the latest official from a predominantly Muslim region to warn political leaders gathered in Beijing about China becoming destabilized by the "international anti-terror situation."

Over the past year, President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) has directed the party to "Sinicize" the country's ethnic and religious minorities, while regional leaders in Xinjiang, home to the Uighur (WEE-gur) ethnic minority, have ramped up policing amid an uptick in violence.

The government's hardening rhetoric has coincided with new security measures that activists say exacerbate a cycle of repression, radicalization and violence.

GERMANY-AIRPORT STRIKE

NEW: Union announcing strikes at Berlin airports for Monday

BERLIN (AP) — A union representing airport ground staff has called on its members to go on strike again at Berlin's two airports and is warning the walkouts might lead to delays and flight cancelations.

The ver.di union says the strikes would begin Monday at 4 a.m. (0300 GMT) and end Tuesday at 5 a.m. (0400 GMT) at the German capital's Tegel and Schoenefeld airports.

The union represents some 2,000 members at the airports. It said Sunday they are demanding higher wages and better working conditions.

Airport employees went on strike Friday to push for their demands, which caused the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

BRITAIN-BREXIT

NEW: UK minister tells lawmakers not to delay Brexit

LONDON (AP) — Britain's top minister for leaving the European Union says lawmakers should let Prime Minister Theresa May "get on with the job" of quitting the bloc, and the main opposition Brexit spokesman says he expects the divorce papers to be filed this week.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said Sunday that lawmakers should pass a bill authorizing exit talks on Monday without amendments so the government can enter EU negotiations "with no strings attached."

Prime Minister Theresa May says she will invoke Article 50 of the EU's key treaty, the trigger for two years of exit negotiations, by March 31.

She could do it this week, if Parliament backs the bill.

The Labour Party's Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, says Article 50 will most likely be triggered on Wednesday or Thursday.

SKOREA-POLITICS-THE LATEST

Ousted S.Korea leader leaves presidential palace

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye (goon-hay) has left the presidential palace in Seoul two days after the country's Constitutional Court removed her from office over a corruption scandal. An official from the Blue House said Sunday evening that Park left for her private house in southern Seoul, where hundreds of police officers, reporters and supporters were gathered in anticipation of her arrival.

Workers were earlier seen carrying a television, washing machine, bed and other household items into the house.

The Constitutional Court formally removed Park from office on Friday, upholding an impeachment motion filed by lawmakers amid suspicions that she colluded with a confidante to extort money and favors from companies.

South Korea must elect a new president by early May.

IRAN-TANK

Iran unveils domestically produced tank, production line

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's semi-official Fars news agency is reporting that the country has unveiled a domestically manufactured tank and has launched a mass-production line.

The Sunday report quotes Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan as saying: "The tank has the capability to fire missiles and precisely guide them."

Fars says the tank named "Karrar" is equipped with an electro-optical fire control system and laser range-finder and is capable of firing at both stable and mobile targets day or night.

Dehghan also says the tank can compete with the most advanced tanks in the world in the three main areas of "power, precision and mobility."

Iran has been producing its own weapons and military equipment, including missiles, fighter jets and submarines, for more than two decades.

ETHIOPIA-DEADLY LANDSLIDE

15 killed, dozens missing in Ethiopia garbage dump landslide

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Officials and residents say 15 people have been killed in a landslide at a massive garbage dump on the outskirts of Ethiopia's capital, and several dozen people are missing.

Addis Ababa Mayor Diriba Kuma says 15 bodies have been recovered since the landslide Saturday night at the Koshe Garbage Landfill.

The landslide has buried several makeshift homes and concrete buildings. The landfill has been a dumping ground for the capital's garbage for more than 50 years.

Resident Assefa Teklemahimanot tells The Associated Press that the resumption of garbage dumping at the site in recent months likely caused the landslide. The dumping had stopped in recent years but resumed after nearby farmers blocked dumping in their area.

Assefa says about 150 people were at the site when the landslide occurred.

MADAGASCAR-CYCLONE

Madagascar cyclone death toll reaches 50, authorities say

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Madagascar's government says the death toll from Cyclone Enawo has risen to at least 50, with 20 people missing.

The island nation's disaster management agency on Sunday said the cyclone that made landfall in the northeast on Tuesday also has driven 110,000 people from their homes. At least 183 people were injured.

Enawo brought heavy rains and winds in excess of 140 miles (225 kilometers) per hour — the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane.

Officials say the full extent of the damage is not yet known because of telecommunications breakdowns, making it hard to contact rural communities.

The cyclone also has damaged the economy. The Sava region in the northeast produces about half of the world's vanilla, and producers predict a very bad harvest.

PHILIPPINES-COMMUNIST REBELS

Philippines, communist rebels agree to resume talks, truce

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government and communist rebels say they have agreed to resume peace talks and restore separate cease-fires after an escalation of deadly clashes.

Presidential adviser Jesus Dureza said Sunday that government and rebel negotiators would resume talks early next month and discuss the terms of a broader cease-fire.

Norway, which has been brokering the negotiations, hosted two days of informal talks in the Netherlands that led to a decision to resume the talks.

The Philippines also has agreed to release a rebel consultant to the talks and reinstate immunities from arrest for other New People's Army guerrilla consultants.

The 48-year communist rebellion, one of Asia's longest, has left about 40,000 combatants and civilians dead and stunted economic development.

SPRING FORWARD

Dream on, but just make it somewhat snappier this weekend

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dream on. Just make it snappier this weekend.

In most of the United States, you're on the clock to lose an hour's sleep Saturday night. The trade-off: gaining more evening light in the months ahead, when the weather warms and you want to be outdoors.

Daylight saving time officially was re-emerging at 2 a.m. local time Sunday.

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.

Standard time returns Nov. 5.

Daylight saving time covers 238 days, or about 65 percent of the year, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is part of the Commerce Department.

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