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

March 15, 2017 - 11:48 pm


Government calls ruling flawed, vows court fight

UNDATED (AP) — The Justice Department calls a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii that halts President Donald Trump's revised travel ban "flawed in reasoning and in scope."

The agency said in a statement Wednesday that the executive order falls within Trump's power to protect national security and that the department will keep defending it in court.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson questioned whether the administration was motivated by national security concerns. He issued the decision Wednesday, just hours before the ban was supposed to take effect.

Watson also said Hawaii would suffer financially if the ban blocked the flow of students and tourists to the state, concluding that Hawaii was likely to succeed on a claim that the executive order violates First Amendment protections against religious discrimination.


Trump blasts ruling that put travel ban on hold

UNDATED (AP) — President Donald Trump is blasting a court for halting what he's calling a "watered-down version" of his travel ban.

Trump told supporters Wednesday at a campaign-style rally in Nashville, Tennessee, that he learned that a district judge in Hawaii had halted his order, which temporarily suspends the U.S. refugee program and bars the entry of people from certain Muslim-majority countries.

Trump says the ruling is "unprecedented judicial overreach" and "makes us look weak."

He says he's going to fight the decision and take it all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. And he says, "We're going to win."

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson cited "questionable evidence supporting the government's national security motivation."

Watson issued his 43-page ruling less than two hours after hearing arguments on Hawaii's request to block the ban that was to have gone into effect Thursday.


Judge: Trump has power to ban foreign travelers

UNDATED (AP) — A federal appeals court judge says President Donald Trump has the authority to block foreign travelers and courts must defer to the president's judgment in decisions about who should be allowed in the United States.

Judge Jay Bybee of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in court documents filed Wednesday that his appeals court colleagues were wrong when they refused to immediately reinstate Trump's original travel ban.

The Trump administration later revised the ban. A federal judge in Hawaii blocked that version on Wednesday. Bybee is a nominee of President George W. Bush.

Bybee says judges cannot investigate the president's motive for the ban as along as he provides a bona fide and legitimate reason for it. Bybee says the president had done that.


Trump touts GOP health care plan at Tenn. Rally

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is touting the embattled House Republican health care plan, telling his supporters that "the House legislation does so much for you."

But he's making clear that he's open to debate and negotiation.

Trump tells supporters at a campaign-style rally in Nashville, Tennessee, that "we're going to all get together, we're going to get something done."

The plan has been criticized by some conservatives as "Obamacare lite" and by others because of projections that millions would lose coverage.


Trump's first budget boosts military, cuts domestic programs

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has finalized his first budget for the federal government, a blueprint that would make deep cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency and other domestic programs while significantly increasing spending on the military.

The budget is to be submitted to Congress on Thursday. It is widely expected to cause political pain for Republicans and Democrats, who will have the final say on spending in the arduous budget process.

Trump has promised a spending plan that fulfills his campaign promises to boost national security, from spending more on defense to building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Though he repeatedly promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill.

Trump is a climate change skeptic, and EPA programs are certain to take a hit.


Trump stands by wiretapping tweet

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is standing by his tweet that the Obama administration wiretapped him last year.

Speaking on Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight," Trump says "wiretap covers a lot of different things."

Trump also says in the interview that he expects "some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next 2 weeks."

Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Intelligence Committee say they have seen no evidence supporting Trump's claim that the Obama administration wiretapped him.


Russian FSB officers, hackers charged in Yahoo breach

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is bringing its first hacking charges against Russian government officials.

Two Russian intelligence agents and two hackers are charged in a breach of Yahoo that affected at least a half billion user accounts.

One of the hackers is in custody in Canada. The other is on the list of the FBI's most wanted cyber criminals. But it's not clear if he or the two others who've been charged -- identified as officers of the Russian FSB -- will ever set foot in a U.S. courtroom, since there's no extradition treaty with Russia.

Officials say the hack targeted the email accounts of Russian and U.S. officials, Russian journalists, employees of financial services and other businesses.

The charges arise from a compromise of Yahoo user accounts that began at least as early as 2014. Though the Justice Department has previously charged Russian hackers with cybercrime — as well as hackers sponsored by the Chinese and Iranian governments — this is the first criminal case brought against Russian government officials.


Alito: US's dedication to religious liberty being tested

MADISON, N.J. (AP) — A Supreme Court justice says the U.S. is entering a period when its commitment to religious liberty is being tested.

Justice Samuel Alito made his remarks Wednesday night at a speech sponsored by a Catholic organization in New Jersey.

Alito quoted his own dissent in the Supreme Court's landmark same-sex marriage case, and cited reactions to other cases he says show a hostility toward those with "traditional moral beliefs."

He also discussed the hostility faced by Catholics in the U.S. over the centuries, and of his own joy at witnessing John F. Kennedy's election in 1960.

Alito served as U.S. Attorney in New Jersey and was based in Newark while a member of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. He has been a Supreme Court justice since 2006.


Trump reviewing fuel efficiency rule for new cars, trucks

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — President Donald Trump says his administration will restart a review of federal requirements governing the fuel efficiency of new cars and trucks.

The announcement was supposed to come in a speech Trump is giving in Michigan. But he revealed the plan a bit early during a meeting before the speech with auto company executives and workers.

Trump tells the group meeting with him in Ypsilanti that he's in Michigan to "make right" on what they were promised. Then he announced the review.

Trump is also predicting that the U.S. will make thousands and thousands of additional cars.

The review Trump is restarting was halted by his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, before Obama left office earlier this year.


Trump admin halts Obama-era rule on fracking on public land

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration says it is rolling back an Obama administration rule requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.

The administration said in court papers filed Wednesday that it is withdrawing from a lawsuit challenging the Obama-era rule and will begin a new rule-making process later this year.

The Interior Department issued the rule in March 2015, the first major federal regulation of fracking, the controversial drilling technique that has sparked an ongoing boom in natural gas production but raised widespread concerns about possible groundwater contamination and even earthquakes.

The rule has been on hold since last year after a judge Wyoming ruled that federal regulators lack authority to set rules for fracking.


Former LA County sheriff guilty of obstructing FBI probe

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has been convicted of obstructing an FBI corruption investigation into his jails and lying to federal authorities.

A jury reached the verdicts Wednesday on charges that Baca conspired with underlings to hinder a probe into jail guards taking bribes and beating inmates and lied about his role in the conspiracy.

He could face 20 years in prison.

The 74-year-old, who's in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, headed the nation's largest sheriff's department for 15 years before resigning in 2014 as the scandal grew.

Prosecutors said the corruption went from deputies all the way to the top. Baca's lawyers said he gave no instructions to obstruct the FBI.

It was Baca's second obstruction trial after another jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of acquittal.


NEW: Demolition resumes on California's crumbling Big Sur bridge

BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — Demolition work has resumed on a crumbling bridge along the California coast that has stranded residents in the popular Big Sur area and closed part of iconic Highway 1.

Department of Transportation spokesman Jim Shivers says crews are using a wrecking ball to bring down Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge. He says they may need to continue their work Thursday.

A giant crane dropped a 6,000-pound wrecking ball on the span for about three hours Monday, but it only gently tapped the unstable bridge.

Heavy rain damaged the bridge beyond repair, stranding more than 400 residents on one side. Helicopters are bringing in food, and people can use a footpath to cross the divide.

Caltrans said it will take at least nine months to rebuild the bridge.


UPDATE: UN leader: Peace in Syria 'cannot wait'

BEIRUT (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says peace in Syria is "a moral and political imperative" that "cannot wait" as the country's civil war starts its seventh year.

In a statement on the war's anniversary Wednesday, Guterres called for the parties to "make the most of" a cease-fire that began Dec. 30 and to ensure humanitarian aid can reach needy Syrians. The U.N. has expressed concern about cease-fire violations and criticized the blocking of humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands in need.

Guterres also urged those with influence over the government and opposition groups to work together to end the conflict.

Russia, Turkey and Iran are guarantors of the cease-fire and have sponsored peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana. Meanwhile, the Syrian government and opposition are set to meet later this month in a new round of U.N.-led peace talks in Geneva.


NEW: Canadian Prime Minister, Ivanka Trump see Broadway musical

NEW YORK (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — along with first daughter Ivanka Trump — have welcomed a new musical that celebrates Canadian compassion following 9/11.

Trudeau and Trump and some 120 ambassadors from around the world attended the show "Come From Away" on Wednesday night at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, in one of the cities where the bulk of the 3,000 people killed in the attacks died.

The musical is set in the small Newfoundland town of Gander, which opened its arms and homes to some 7,000 airline passengers diverted there when the U.S. government shut down its airspace.

In remarks before the show, Trudeau said: "The world gets to see what it is to lean on each other and be there for each other through the darkest times."

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