Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment at 8:20 a.m. EDT

March 15, 2018 - 12:00 am

TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE

Nader, Mueller's latest cooperator, a convicted pedophile

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Lebanese-American businessman who is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's probe is a convicted pedophile and served time in a Czech Republic prison more than a decade ago.

George Nader was convicted by Prague's Municipal Court of sexually abusing minors and sentenced to a one-year prison term in 2003. A court official says the crimes occurred between 1999 and 2002.

Nader met with President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and strategist Steve Bannon at Trump Tower in December 2016.

Mueller's team has been examining that meeting — and another gathering involving Nader in the Seychelles a month later — as part of its investigation into possible Trump-related wrongdoing connected to Russia.

BC-SYRIA-THE LATEST

The Latest: Syrian TV shows hundreds leaving rebel enclave

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian state-run TV and pro-government stations are broadcasting footage of civilians streaming out of the besieged town of Hamouria in the opposition-held eastern Ghouta region, heading into government-held territory near the capital, Damascus.

The al-Ikhbariya TV and Lebanon's al-Mayadeen and al-Manar channels say the civilians are eastern Ghouta residents whom government forces have "liberated" from rebel rule.

The broadcasts appear to show hundreds of men, women, and children walking out of the town. Al-Mayadeen showed buses waiting to pick up civilians. Al-Ihkbariya says they will be taken to a center for identification and relief.

Men interviewed on camera praised the Syrian army and President Bashar Assad and said armed groups had humiliated them and held them against their will in eastern Ghouta.

The exodus is a major media victory for the Syrian government.

It appears to be the largest departure of civilianss from eastern Ghouta since the government launched a punishing assault on the rebel-held region more than three weeks ago. More than 1,200 civilians have been killed in government and Russian airstrikes and rocket fire.

STUDENT WALKOUTS-GUN VIOLENCE

Students around US stage huge walkout against gun violence

Tens of thousands of students have walked out of their classrooms to demand action on gun violence and school safety.

The demonstrations were some of the biggest by students in decades and extended from Maine to Hawaii as students joined the youth-led surge of activism set off by the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Students around the U.S. bowed their heads in honor of the dead. They also carried signs with messages like "Never again" and "Am I next?" And they railed against the National Rifle Association and the politicians who support it.

At some schools, hundreds of students poured out. At others, just one or two walked out in defiance of administrators.

TRUMP-TRUDEAU TRADE

Trump admits making up trade claim in Trudeau talk

(Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump freestyled with the facts when talking trade with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Republican described the discussion during a fundraising speech in St. Louis on Wednesday.

According to audio obtained by The Washington Post , Trump insisted that the United States runs a trade deficit with Canada.

Trump said Trudeau told him there was no trade deficit. Trump said he replied, "'Wrong, Justin, you do.' I didn't even know. ... I had no idea. I just said, 'You're wrong.'"

Trump claimed the figures don't include timber and energy.

However, the Office of the United States Trade Representative says the United States has a trade surplus with Canada.

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A PRISON KILLING

Prison death highlights challenges of assigning cellmates

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The recent death of an Idaho prison inmate highlights the difficulties faced by prison officials across the U.S. in determining inmate housing assignments.

Glenn Cox was serving time for drunken driving when he was found stabbed, beaten and strangled in his cell last year. His cellmate — a triple murderer — is the only suspect.

Idaho Corrections Director Henry Atencio says he understands why people might question whether a drunken driver should be cellmates with a triple murderer.

The decision was based on a complex number system Idaho and other states use to classify prisoners as minimum-, medium- or maximum-security risks. It scores them in categories such as the amount of time they've served and whether they've broken any prison rules.

Corrections officials say housing assignments are a constant juggling act due to an ever-changing population of inmates and prisons that are often filled to capacity.

SWEDEN-NORTH KOREA

North Korean foreign minister visits Sweden

STOCKHOLM (AP) — North Korea's foreign minister is visiting Sweden, a move that can be seen as a first step toward the Scandinavian country hosting a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry says Ri Yong Ho will meet his Swedish counterpart Margot Wallstrom during his rare trip abroad Thursday.

The ministry said talks "will focus on Sweden's consular responsibilities as a protecting power for the United States, Canada and Australia," but also will also address the security situation on the Korean Peninsula."

It added that a statement summarizing the talks will be made available Friday.

Sweden has had diplomatic relations with North Korea since 1973, and is now one of the few western countries to have an embassy in Pyongyang.

UNITED STATES-IRAN

Tillerson ouster may hasten demise of Iran nuclear deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Iran nuclear deal was in near terminal condition and on life support even before President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. His dismissal this week may hasten its demise.

As CIA chief and Iran hawk Mike Pompeo prepares to run the State Department, the Trump administration is weighing a speedier withdraw from the agreement than even the president has threatened. That's according to two U.S. officials and two outside advisers briefed on the matter.

While such a scenario is unlikely, the fact it is being floated as an option may give U.S. officials more leverage in negotiations with European signatories to salvage the accord by toughening it. Two such negotiating sessions have already been held and a third is set for Thursday in Berlin.

BRITAIN-SPY-THE LATEST

The Latest: Macron says France will act on spy poisoning

MOSCOW (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron says he will take measures in coming days in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

Macron, speaking during a visit to central France Thursday, said British intelligence services shared with French services information that confirms Russia's involvement.

He told reporters "everything seems to indicate Russia's responsibility."

He said he will discuss the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a planned meeting in Paris Friday.

Macron did not say if he would maintain a visit to Russia scheduled for May.

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