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

March 14, 2017 - 5:49 am


New York could get 20 inches of snow

NEW YORK (AP) — A powerful nor'easter has started lashing the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, prompting flight cancellations, school closures and warnings from city and state officials to stay off the roads.

The National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings for parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

New York City could get as much as 20 inches of snow.


State police: More than 30 cars involved in Chicago pileup

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois State Police say snowy weather conditions caused two crashes on a Chicago expressway that involved a total of 34 cars.

A State Police spokesman says seven people sustained minor injuries in last night's pileup on the Kennedy Expressway. Both wrecks occurred in the express lanes of the highway on the city's North Side.

Police say both crashes happened in the same area and the express lanes were closed for hours. Local lanes of the expressway remained open.

Additional details were not immediately available. Illinois State Police is investigating.

The National Weather Service issued a lake-effect snow warning for Chicago that expires this afternoon.


Critics of GOP health bill get ammunition from budget score

WASHINGTON (AP) —Critics of GOP health care legislation have gotten fresh ammunition from a report that says the bill would increase the ranks of the uninsured by 14 million people next year alone, and 24 million over a decade.

The findings from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office could make prospects for the legislation backed by President Donald Trump even tougher, with a few House and Senate conservatives already in open revolt and moderate Republicans queasy about big cuts to the Medicaid safety net for the poor.

But the bill's supporters at the White House and Capitol Hill show no sign of retreat. Instead, they are attacking the parts of the CBO report they didn't like while touting the more favorable findings, including smaller deficits from their bill and lower premiums over time.


House committee wants more time in wiretap allegations

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has failed to meet a Monday deadline to provide any evidence to support President Donald Trump's accusation that phones at Trump Tower were ordered tapped by former President Barack Obama.

The Justice Department said Monday that it needs more time to respond to the request by the House Intelligence Committee.

A spokesman for chairman Devin Nunes (NOO'-nehs) of California says the information is needed before March 20 when it holds its first public hearing on its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.


Fed expected to raise interest rates

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve seems all but sure to raise interest rates Wednesday, and it'll be the third time in 15 months.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen and several other Fed officials separately suggested earlier this month that the economy was sturdy enough to withstand a modest raising of loan rates.

And after Friday's robust February jobs report of an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, the likelihood has increased.


City says drugmaker knowingly let pills flood black market

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — The city of Everett, Washington, is suing drug maker Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin.

Everett officials accuse the drugmaker of knowingly allowing pills to be funneled into the black market and the city and doing nothing to stop it.

Everett is asking for damages caused to the community.


Board to Puerto Rico: Cut pension system, impose furloughs

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A federal control board says Puerto Rico's government needs to cut its public pension system by 10 percent, furlough tens of thousands of its workers and eliminate Christmas bonuses if it cannot generate other types of savings.

The U.S. territory has been in a nearly decade-long recession, and a seven-member board was created by Congress last year to oversee Puerto Rico's finances.


Jurors questioned for trial of deputy in boy's shooting

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A state prosecutor is asking prospective jurors if they can set aside any potential biases if picked for the murder trial of a deputy in the fatal shooting of a 6 year-old boy.

One of the questions Assistant Attorney General John Sinquefield has asked potential jurors is whether or not race could influence their decisions. The accused deputy, Derrick Stafford, is black, while the boy and his father are white.

Lawyers for Stafford and another black law enforcement officer awaiting a separate trial in the shootings have accused prosecutors of a rush to judgment. Jonathan Goins, Stafford's attorney, said he thinks that would not have happened if the officers had been white.


Pirates hijack freighter off Somalia's coast, officials say

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somali officials say pirates have hijacked a ship off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation.

One official in the semiautonomous state of Puntland says the incident occurred on Monday. The official says over two dozen men boarded the merchant ship off Somalia's northern coast.

Another official in Puntland says the ship is a Sri Lankan-flagged freighter and is now being moved toward the coast.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

A spokeswoman for the European Union Naval Force operation off Somalia, Flt. Lt. Louise Tagg, confirms that an incident involving an oil tanker has occurred off the coast of Somalia and an investigation is underway.

Piracy has lessened off Somalia's coast in recent years.


NEW: Groups urge Thai action against torture, disappearances

Rights groups are urging Thailand's government to enact legislation banning torture and forced disappearances as its human rights record comes under United Nations review.

Today's review in Geneva by the U.N. Human Rights Committee comes shortly after Thailand's legislature ratified a U.N. treaty against forced disappearances. But groups such as Human Rights Watch say Thailand needs domestic laws explicitly prohibiting torture and forced disappearances to effectively comply with the treaty.

The U.N. says 82 people have disappeared in Thailand since 1980 under suspicious circumstances.

Last month, Thailand's legislature failed to pass a bill against torture and enforced disappearances, saying it needed more study. The U.N. expressed concern over the matter, which is to be discussed at Tuesday's review.

The U.N. will issue recommendations to Thailand at the end of March.


Court filing: Cellphone records tracked accused killer of 3

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A court filing alleges that a man accused of killing three women was tracked via his cellphone to locations near where at least two of the women's bodies were found.

The assertions were contained in an affidavit filed in January by an Essex County prosecutor's office detective, seeking a court order to force Khalil Wheeler-Weaver to provide a DNA sample.

The 20-year-old Orange resident was indicted last month for the three murders and the attempted murder, kidnapping and sexual assault of a fourth woman last fall.

Through his attorney, he pleaded not guilty in a brief court appearance on Monday. He's being held on $5 million bail.


Lawyer: No late appeals likely for Texas inmate set to die

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The attorney for a Fort Worth man set to die for killing a father and his infant son in 1987 says no last-day appeals are likely to try to stop the punishment.

Texas prison officials are to give 61-year-old James Bigby a lethal injection this evening for fatally shooting 26-year-old Michael Trekell and suffocating Trekell's 4-month-old son Jayson on Christmas Eve 1987 at their Arlington home.

Evidence showed he also killed two other men, believing they along with Trekell were conspiring against him in a workers' compensation case he filed against a former employer. He wasn't tried for those men's killings.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 refused to review Bigby's case, upholding lower-court appeal rejections.

He'd be the fourth inmate executed this year in Texas and sixth nationally.


'Beauty and the Beast' shelved in Malaysia despite approval

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Walt Disney has shelved the release of its new movie "Beauty and the Beast" in Malaysia, even though film censors say it has been approved with a minor cut involving a "gay moment."

The country's two main cinema chains say the movie, due for screening Thursday, has been postponed indefinitely. No reason was given.

Film Censorship Board chairman Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid says he doesn't know why the film was postponed as it has been approved by the board after a minor gay scene was axed. He said Tuesday that scenes promoting homosexuality were forbidden and that the film was given a P13 rating, which requires parental guidance for children under 13 years of age.

Disney officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.


Alleged jewel thief arrested after missing court hearing

ATLANTA (AP) — A noted jewel thief who discussed her six-decade criminal career in a documentary has been arrested after authorities said she failed to appear in court.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Office says 86-year-old Doris Marie Payne Monday was arrested at her Atlanta home. She was taken to the DeKalb County Jail.

It was not immediately clear whether she has an attorney who could speak for her.

Payne was sought after missing an arraignment March 6 in an alleged 2016 jewelry theft at Perimeter Mall, about 13 miles north of downtown Atlanta.

A judge deemed her too ill to stand trial Feb. 21 in the 2015 theft of a pair of designer earrings from a Saks Fifth Avenue.

Payne, her family and friends discuss her life in the 2013 documentary "The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne."


Stradivarius heard for first time since 1980 theft

NEW YORK (AP) — The three daughters of renowned violinist Roman Totenberg have heard the sound of their late father's Stradivarius for the first time nearly four decades after it was stolen.

The prized 18th century instrument came back to life on Monday at a private Manhattan concert, tucked under the chin of Totenberg student Mira (MEE'-rah) Wang.

The violin disappeared in 1980 after a Totenberg performance in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The thief was an aspiring violinist who kept the Stradivarius hidden, patching some spots with glue. After his death, his ex-wife alerted authorities.

The instrument was returned to the family in 2015 by Preet Bharara (buh-RAH'-ruh), then the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

Wang immigrated from China to study with the Polish-born Totenberg, who died in 2012 at age 101.


Goodyear retires blimps but keeps familiar form in flight

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Goodyear is letting the helium out of the last of its fabled fleet of blimps.

But shed no tears, blimp fans, you'll still see a familiar form floating over your favorite sports events long after the California-based "Spirit of Innovation" goes flat today.

Its replacement, "Wingfoot Two," will look about the same when it arrives at Goodyear's California airship base in Carson later this year.

But it will be a semi-rigid dirigible. It joins two similar aircraft replacing aging Goodyear blimps in Florida and Ohio.

The new airships, which don't go flat when deflated, are faster, quieter, larger and more maneuverable.

And Goodyear says they'll still be called blimps. That's because, well, blimp just sounds better.

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