Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment at 7:20 p.m. EDT

April 01, 2017 - 7:27 pm

COLOMBIA-DEADLY RIVER OVERFLOW

Colombia: 154 dead after rivers overflow, toppling homes

MOCOA, Colombia (AP) — An avalanche of water from three overflowing rivers swept through a small city in Colombia while people slept, destroying homes and killing at least 154 unsuspecting residents in their sleep, authorities say. The incident triggered by intense rains happened around midnight in Mocoa, a city of about 40,000 tucked between mountains near Colombia's southern border with Ecuador.

TRUMP FIGHTS BACK

White House launches counteroffensive amid investigations

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is on the defensive, throwing counter punches to deflect attention from three investigations into the Kremlin's interference in last year's election and possible Russian ties to President Donald Trump or his associates.

The White House says the real story is not about Russia, but about how Obama administration officials allegedly leaked and mishandled classified material about Americans. Reaching back to campaign mode, Trump aides also contend that Hillary Clinton had more extensive ties to Moscow than Trump.

The White House has not pointed to any hard evidence to support its allegations. It's instead relied on media reports from some of the same publications Trump derides as "fake news." The truth is buried somewhere in classified material that is illegal to disclose.

PENTAGON AT WAR

Under Trump, Pentagon seizing more control over warfighting

WASHINGTON (AP) — Week by week, country by country, the Pentagon is quietly seizing more control over warfighting decisions. It is sending hundreds of more troops to war with little public debate and seeking greater authority to battle extremists across the Middle East and Africa.

This week it was Somalia, where President Donald Trump gave the U.S. military more authority to conduct offensive airstrikes on al-Qaida-linked militants. Next week it could be Yemen, where military leaders want to provide more help for the United Arab Emirates' battle against Iranian-backed rebels.

The changes in President Donald Trump's first two months in office underscore his willingness to let the Pentagon manage its own day-to-day combat. But delegating more authority to the Pentagon comes with its own military and political risks.

SENATE-SUPREME COURT

Supreme Court showdown looms with far-reaching consequences

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is headed for a tense showdown over President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee that could have far-reaching consequences for Congress, the high court and the nation.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republicans are determined to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch within the week. But to do so, they will likely have to override Democratic objections and unilaterally change Senate rules so that Gorsuch can be confirmed with a simple majority in the 100-seat chamber, instead of the 60-voter threshold.

Though it may seem arcane, the approach is known in Congress as the "nuclear option" because it strikes at the heart of the Senate's traditions of bipartisanship and collegiality.

It would allow all future Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed without regard to the objections of the minority party.

OVERPASS COLLAPSE-FIRE-THE LATEST

The Latest: 3 arrested in Atlanta fire and overpass collapse

ATLANTA (AP) — The man suspected of starting a raging fire that collapsed a portion of Interstate 85 a few miles north of downtown Atlanta has been charged with arson.

The Fulton County Sheriff's Office says bond was set at $200,000 for 39-year-old Basil Eleby during a hearing Saturday.

He faces charges of first-degree arson and first-degree criminal damage to property. The arson charge is new. Eleby's next court appearance is set for April 14.

Deputy Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence said Eleby was arrested Friday along with Sophia Bruner and Barry Thomas. Bruner and Thomas were charged with criminal trespass.

Eleby has a lengthy criminal history with past charges that include possession and sale of cocaine, criminal trespass and simple battery.

The fire on Thursday evening crippled a major traffic artery in a city already known for dreadful rush-hour congestion.

AP-BKC-FINAL-FOUR-THE-LATEST

The Latest: Berry will play for North Carolina

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — North Carolina will have starting point guard Joel Berry II for Saturday's semifinal against Oregon.

Berry was included on the pregame list of starters. There had been some question about his status this week due to a pair of sprained ankles suffered during the NCAA Tournament, the second coming during the Elite Eight win against Kentucky. The junior had sounded confident about his chances in pregame interviews and pronounced himself "85 percent" on Friday.

The question now is whether — or how much — the injuries affect his play against the Ducks.

APRIL FOOLS STORM-THE LATEST

The Latest: April Fools storm dumps up to 18 inches of snow

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The April Fools' Day snowstorm that hit parts of northern New England is winding down, but it's not keeping everyone from enjoying the joke.

Erik Lustgarten and Tracy Neff were in Portland, Maine, reveling in the snow Saturday during their weekend away from home in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Lustgarten said New England residents have to stay on their toes, given the region's weather. Neff said the snow was "fabulous."

By late afternoon, up to 18 inches of snow had fallen in some locations.

Utility crews across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine continued to work on restoring power to thousands of customers.

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OBIT-YEVGENY YEVTUSHENKO

Acclaimed Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko dies in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Acclaimed Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, whose work focused on war atrocities and denounced anti-Semitism and tyrannical dictators, has died. He was 84, according to several Russian news outlets.

Roger Blais, the provost at the University of Tulsa, where Yevtushenko was a longtime faculty member, says he was told by Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa that Yevtushenko died Saturday morning. A spokeswoman for the eastern Oklahoma hospital confirmed his death.

Yevtushenko gained notoriety in the former Soviet Union in his 20s with anti-Josef Stalin poetry. He gained international acclaim in 1961 with the poem, "Babi Yar," an elegy to the nearly 34,000 Jews who were massacred by the Nazis in 1942 and buried in a ravine near Kiev, Ukraine.

He first came to the University of Tulsa to teach in 1992 at the invitation of then-university President Robert Donaldson, who specialized in Soviet policy during his years at Harvard.

SWEDEN-NOBEL-DYLAN

Dylan finally gets his hands on his Nobel Literature prize

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Bob Dylan finally has his hands on his Nobel Literature diploma and medal.

A member of the Swedish Academy said the 75-year-old American singer/songwriter, who gave a concert in Stockholm on Saturday night, received his award during a small afternoon gathering at a nearby hotel with just academy members and a member of Dylan's staff.

Klas Ostergren of the Swedish Academy told The Associated Press "it went very well indeed" and that Dylan was "a very nice, kind man."

Other members of the academy told Swedish media that Dylan seemed pleased by the award.

Dylan himself did not mention anything about receiving the Nobel at his concert later that night.

FOX NEWS-O'REILLY-HARASSMENT

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly says he is vulnerable to lawsuits

NEW YORK (AP) — In response to a New York Times report, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly says in a statement posted to his website that he is "vulnerable to lawsuits" because of his high-profile job.

The newspaper reported Saturday on payouts made to settle accusations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior. The Times reported that O'Reilly or Fox News Channel's owner, 21st Century Fox, have paid $13 million to five women over these complaints.

21st Century Fox did not reply to questions about the allegations but said in a statement Saturday that it had looked into "these matters" in the past few months and discussed them with O'Reilly. The company said O'Reilly "resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility" although he denied their merits.

Former Fox head Roger Ailes left last summer amid sexual harassment charges.

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