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

March 16, 2017 - 12:00 pm

CONGRESS-HEALTH OVERHAUL

UPDATE: 'No palace intrigue,' Ryan says of health bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump is deeply involved in efforts to scrap Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act and helping GOP leaders persuade reluctant lawmakers.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Ryan insisted that he and the White House are working together on the issue, dismissing reports that the two are at odds.

"No palace intrigue," Ryan said.

The Wisconsin Republican said the goal is to get a bill that can pass and the president is "making it easier and better for us" to pass their health care bill.

Republicans have been scrambling to salvage their bill after Congress' analysts said some 24 million would be shoved off insurance in the next decade under the GOP bill.

The House Budget Committee has voted to advance the Republican health care bill. Three conservative GOP lawmakers joined all the Democrats on the panel in voting against the measure.

TRUMP-BUDGET

UPDATE: Pelosi: Budget conflicts with national values

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she doesn't see how President Donald Trump's recommended budget for the fiscal year can survive the light of day.

Pelosi says the budget represents a philosophical distrust of the role of the federal government in any way meeting the needs of Americans.

Pelosi says the budget should be a statement of national values. She says the strength of America doesn't just depend on a strong military, but on well-educated children, life-saving medical research and a healthy environment.

Trump unveiled a $1.15 trillion budget on Thursday, a far-reaching overhaul of federal government spending that slashes many domestic programs. The budget recommends a $54 billion increase in defense spending, but Pelosi says the future demands the government also invest in the well-being of children and working families.

TRUMP-PENTAGON

NEW: White House picks Boeing executive as Pentagon's No. 2

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump intends to nominate a Boeing executive to serve as deputy secretary of defense.

The Trump administration has struggled to fill top Pentagon positions, with two of its four previous selections having withdrawn.

A White House announcement Thursday says Trump plans to nominate Patrick M. Shanahan to be the No. 2 official at the Pentagon. If confirmed by the Senate, he would succeed Robert Work, an Obama administration holdover.

The White House also announced plans to nominate a budget chief, deputy budget chief, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, a deputy to the Pentagon's policy chief, and director of an office charged with providing independent analysis of military programs.

TRAVEL BAN-LAWSUITS

Judge says Trump's statements 'highly relevant'

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — The federal judge in Maryland who on Thursday blocked President Donald Trump's revised travel ban that targets six predominantly Muslim countries called Trump's own statements about his intentions to impose the restrictions "highly relevant."

U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang noted Trump's second executive order does include changes from the first order, such as the removal of a preference for religious minorities in the refugee process. Chuang said the purpose of the second order "remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban."

Chuang, who was appointed by then-President Barack Obama, granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the travel ban nationwide pending further orders. He declined to issue an injunction blocking the entire executive order.

Government lawyers argued that the second ban was substantially revised from an earlier version signed in January that was later blocked by a federal judge in Washington state.

IRAQ

Iraq, US offer differing accounts of progress in Mosul

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi and U.S. commanders are offering conflicting accounts of progress in western Mosul, where U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have been battling the Islamic State group for nearly a month as they try to retake the remainder of the city.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, the American commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq, says the troops have recaptured "a little over a third" of neighborhoods west of the Tigris River, while Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, an Iraqi military spokesman, says they have retaken up to 60 percent, with fighting still underway. Iraq declared eastern Mosul "fully liberated" in January.

Iraqi officials have overstated gains in the past, declaring areas liberated from IS militants only to see the resumption of fighting or militant attacks. The extremists have targeted eastern Mosul with bombings and other attacks on several occasions in recent weeks.

Front-line commanders say progress has been slow over the past week, with troops advancing just a few hundred yards in the face of IS car bomb attacks.

AFGHANISTAN

NEW: Afghan officials: Islamic State kills 3 Shiite elders

KABUL Afghanistan. (AP) — Afghan officials say Islamic State militants killed three Shiite elders as they were returning home from a graduation ceremony at a local religious school.

Zabiullah Amani, spokesman for the governor of the northern Sari Pul province, said Thursday that the three men were killed the day before in the Sayad district.

Asadullah Kuram, a member of the provincial council, says a local Islamic State affiliate claimed the attack.

The Sunni extremist group views Shiites as apostates and has claimed previous attacks targeting the religious minority. The upstart IS affiliate has clashed with the much larger Taliban movement, which has been at war with the U.S.-backed Afghan government for more than 15 years.

SOUTH SUDAN-DEADLY AMBUSH

NEW: South Sudan ambush on humanitarian aid convoy kills 2

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The International Organization for Migration is condemning an attack on a humanitarian convoy in South Sudan that killed two people and injured three others.

Thursday's statement says the convoy was attacked Tuesday by "unknown armed gunmen" as it was returning from a field mission in Yirol East county.

The statement says IOM staff, health workers and civilians were the victims. Two people died of gunshot wounds, and an IOM health officer is in stable condition.

The ambush took place in a region of South Sudan suffering from a cholera outbreak.

Famine has been declared in two other counties of South Sudan, which has been devastated by three years of civil war.

The United Nations and aid groups have pleaded for more access amid numerous government restrictions.

FRANCE-SCHOOL SHOOTING

UPDATE: French leader: State of emergency should remain

PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande says a school shooting in southern France has no direct links to terrorism but insists that France should remain "vigilant" and stay under a state of emergency.

Hollande said a school principal and two others were shot in Thursday's attack in the town of Grasse, and investigators are trying to determine how the shooter entered the premises with weapons. A 17-year-old student has been arrested.

Christian Estrosi, president of the region that includes Grasse, says the school principal tried to intervene when the student was making threats "but unfortunately he didn't succeed."

After the school attack and a letter bomb explosion in Paris on Thursday, Hollande said the country's state of emergency is "justified." It was imposed after deadly Islamic extremist attacks in 2015 and has been extended through July.

POLICE SHOOTING-NORTH CHARLESTON

NEW: Officer's lawyers want to limit what prosecutors say to jury

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Attorneys want to limit what prosecutors can tell jurors in the federal civil rights trial of a white ex-South Carolina police officer who's accused in a black motorist's shooting death.

Court documents filed Wednesday show attorneys for Michael Slager want a judge to limit prosecutors' ability to bring up any anguish suffered by the family of Walter Scott or any references to Slager's mental state.

Attorneys for Slager and the government are scheduled to be in court Friday to hash out issues ahead of his May trial. Slager is accused of violating Scott's civil rights when he shot him to death as the motorist ran from a traffic stop in April 2015.

Slager is also charged with murder in state court. His first trial there ended in a hung jury.

OKLAHOMA SENATOR-INVESTIGATION

NEW: Oklahoma lawmaker facing child prostitution charge

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma prosecutors have filed child prostitution charges against a Republican state senator after police found him in a hotel room a 17-year-old boy.

Cleveland County prosecutors charged 35-year-old Ralph Shortey on Thursday with engaging in child prostitution, transporting a minor for prostitution and engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of church. An arrest warrant has been issued for him.

Moore police say that acting on a tip from the teen's father, they went to the Super 8 Hotel last week and smelled marijuana coming from a room. They found Shortey and the teen alone inside.

The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16.

Shortey has not replied to several phone messages seeking comment, and court records don't show if he has an attorney.

A conservative Republican from south Oklahoma City, Shortey was a county coordinator and early supporter of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

PERSONHOOD FOR CHIMPS

NEW: NY court asked to determine if chimp is legally a person

NEW YORK (AP) — Should a chimpanzee be treated as a person with legal rights?

That's what attorney Steven Wise will try to persuade a New York appeals court in Manhattan on Thursday. Wise, who represents the Florida-based Nonhuman Rights Project animal advocacy group, plans to argue that two chimps named Tommy and Kiko should be freed from cages to live in an outdoor sanctuary.

Kiko's keeper, Carmen Presti, says no way is he letting go of the deaf monkey he and his wife rescued 23 years ago from a life performing in fairs and movies. They say Kiko is a member of their family at a sanctuary in Niagara Falls.

The attorney wants the couple to give up the chimp — as a person with a right to freedom away from a cage.

SCI-SPACEX LAUNCH

NEW: SpaceX sends satellite into orbit after 2-day delay

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX has launched a communications satellite into orbit after a two-day delay.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an EchoStar satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 2 a.m. Thursday. The satellite was deployed into orbit high above Earth about 35 minutes later.

The launch was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was pushed back due to high winds in Florida.

This was the second SpaceX launch from the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. Last month's space station resupply launch was the first from the pad since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. The pad was used to send Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon in 1969.

AP Editorial Categories: 
Comments ()