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The Latest: Lawyer says White House stopped Yates testimony

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:56:53 UT

A lawyer for former deputy attorney general Sally Yates says in letters last week that the Trump administration had moved to squelch her testimony in a hearing about Russian meddling in the presidential election. In the letters, attorney David O'Neil said he understood the Justice Department was invoking "further constraints" on testimony she could provide at a House intelligence committee hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday. The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee is asking whether an open congressional hearing on the Russia probe was canceled because the White House did not want former acting Attorney General Sally Yates to testify and assert executive privilege. House Speaker Paul Ryan is expressing confidence in the chairman of the House intelligence committee, saying he should continue to lead the panel's probe into Russian contacts with President Donald Trump's associates. The chairman of the House intelligence committee investigating Russian activities during the presidential election says he's not going to step down. Nunes has acknowledged reviewing information on the White House grounds a day before he told reporters that Trump and his associates may have been caught up in "incidental" federal monitoring of foreign targets. A Republican senator says the House intelligence chairman has "put his objectivity in question" when it comes to investigating Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election. Cheney's accusation Tuesday came at a time when both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees are investigating possible Russian interference in the election that brought President Donald Trump to power. The Kremlin says a meeting between President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and representatives from a Russian state-owned bank was a routine encounter. Kushner has agreed to speak to the U.S. Senate intelligence committee, which



NFL owners approve Raiders' move to Las Vegas, so what now?

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:52:09 UT

PHOENIX (AP) — Sometime in the not distant future, they will become the Las Vegas Raiders. [...] likely in 2020, Mark Davis' team belongs to Oakland. NFL owners approved the Raiders' move to Las Vegas 31-1 at the league meetings Monday. Davis insisted the club his father, Hall of Fame owner Al Davis, built into a champion — in Oakland and Los Angeles — should still be considered a part of the Bay Area community. Even during all the losing between their last Super Bowl appearance, for the 2002 season, and their next winning record, which came last year, the Black Hole gang has been dedicated. Mayor Libby Schaaf has accused Davis and the league of not "manning up," and other legislators have mentioned finding ways to void the two years of stadium options the Raiders have negotiated. The existing size of Las Vegas, the diversification and the growth that it has undergone over the last 20 years, combine to make it a mid-sized market today, said league executive Eric Grubman, the NFL's point man on stadium projects, but one that is exhibiting significantly above average growth.



Ryan says House to revisit health care, offers no details

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:48:44 UT

The doomed GOP bill would have eliminated former President Barack Obama's mandate for people to carry insurance or face fines and would have shrunk a Medicaid expansion. Republican lawmakers, conservatives and moderates alike, emerged from Tuesday's meeting saying there was a consensus to address the issue again, preferably soon. Brooks is in in the conservative House Freedom Caucus, most of whom opposed the failed GOP bill, which was pivotal in the collapse of the party's top priority so far this year. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, an author of the failed legislation, told reporters that Republicans "are turning the page and moving on toward tax reform." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democrats will address Obama's overhaul only when Republicans drop their repeal effort. Obama's overhaul has provided insurance to 20 million additional people and forced insurers to provide better coverage to many more, but it's also left some markets with soaring premiums and fewer insurers. [...] Republicans must overcome internal differences on that issue too, including whether to impose taxes on imports to encourage manufacturers to produce products domestically and whether the measure should drive up deficits.



Trump puts anti-global warming projects on chopping block

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:45:17 UT

The regulation, which was the former president's signature effort to curb carbon emissions, has been the subject of long-running legal challenges by Republican-led states and those who profit from burning oil, coal and gas. The president's promises to boost coal jobs run counter to market forces, such as U.S. utilities converting coal-fired power plants to cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas. The overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed studies and climate scientists agree the planet is warming, mostly due to man-made sources, including carbon dioxide, methane, halocarbons and nitrogen oxide. The Obama administration, some Democratic-led states and environmental groups countered that it would spur thousands of clean-energy jobs and help the U.S. meet ambitious goals to reduce carbon pollution set by the international agreement signed in Paris. While Republicans have blamed Obama-era environmental regulations for the loss of coal jobs, federal data shows that U.S. mines have been shedding jobs for decades under presidents from both parties as a result of increasing automation and competition from natural gas, which has become more abundant through hydraulic fracturing. According to an Energy Department analysis released in January, coal mining now accounts for fewer than 75,000 U.S. jobs.



Selling water: Coke, Pepsi look to make water rain money

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:41:05 UT

[...] running their first Super Bowl ads were Fiji and Bai Brands, which sell "enhanced waters" made with fruit juice and stevia sweetener. Michael Simon, Bai's chief marketing officer, says its drinks "give people that healthy profile they're looking for, but now they no longer have to sacrifice on taste with the neutrality of water." Bottled water has been gaining ground for years, and overtook soda as the No. 1 drink in the U.S. by sales volume last year, industry tracker Beverage Marketing Corp. said. Companies aren't as interested in the big, economy packs of plain bottled water that have been fueling the growth, says Ali Dibaj, a Bernstein analyst who covers the industry, since those are less profitable than sodas and are a "horrible business to be in." To help address people's concerns about the environment as well as paying for a variation of what they could get from the faucet, companies like Nestle have been "light weighting" the packaging to use less plastic and keep prices down. Beverage Digest, another industry tracker, counts flavored sparkling varieties in its water category, as well as Sparkling Ice, which is made with artificial sweeteners.



Nunes won't leave Russia probe; Ryan says no need to

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:16:42 UT

Nunes acknowledged Monday that he reviewed intelligence reports at the White House complex and met a secret source behind his statement that communications involving associates of President Donald Trump were caught up in "incidental" surveillance. After reviewing the information last week, Nunes called a news conference to announce that U.S. spy agencies may have inadvertently captured Trump and his associates in the routine targeting of foreigners' communications. The Senate intelligence committee is also conducting an investigation into Russia's interference in the election and possible ties with the Trump campaign. Vnesheconombank, or VEB, said in Monday's statement carried by state RIA Novosti news agency that it met with Kushner last year as part of 'road show' discussions with representatives of leading financial institutions in Europe, Asia and the United States. "Trump Russia story is a hoax," he tweeted. Besides the two congressional committees, the FBI is also investigating connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Nunes argues he had to review classified, executive branch documents from a secure facility at the White House because the reports had not been provided to Congress and could not be transported to the secure facilities used by the House intelligence committee.



Homeless veterans: Trump's budget could hurt efforts

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:46:53 UT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The push to end homelessness among veterans would suffer without the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which is up for elimination under President Donald Trump's proposed budget, nonprofits and local officials say. The council coordinates the efforts of 19 federal agencies that play a role in preventing and ending homelessness among all Americans. [...] the strides made with veterans — for whom homelessness has been effectively ended in three states and dozens of communities amid a concerted effort — make the proposed cuts particularly upsetting to advocates. Adding to the ire and confusion, the budget proposal also says the Trump administration will support Department of Veterans Affairs programs for homeless and at-risk veterans and their families, but doesn't elaborate. The council ensures agencies aren't duplicating spending and efforts, or spending money at cross-purposes, and it serves as a clear way into the federal process for communities tackling the issue, said Jake Maguire, spokesman for the nonprofit Community Solutions, which does similar work to tackle homelessness.



White House plan to help pay for border wall is a long shot

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:28:39 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is calling for immediate budget cuts of $18 billion from programs like medical research, infrastructure and community development grants to help pay for the border wall that President Donald Trump repeatedly promised would be financed by Mexico. "There is no path to put a supplemental (wall) as currently described on that package," said Blunt, a member of the Senate GOP leadership team and is major player on health and human services accounts. GOP leaders are eager to avoid a politically damaging shutdown, especially in the wake of last week's embarrassing failure to pass the Trump-pushed bill to "repeal and replace" former President Barack Obama's landmark health care law and Trump's decision to abandon the effort. Pitfalls and land mines lay ahead in the talks, and the situation is especially fragile because of divisions among GOP ranks and uncertainty over who's playing the lead role at the White House on the particulars of budget work.



Petition would seek reduced sentence for Pamela Smart

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:26:04 UT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Advocates for Pamela Smart, who's serving a life sentence for plotting with her teenage lover to kill her husband, say they are planning to file a petition seeking a reduced sentence. Dr. Eleanor Pam, a legal advocate for Smart, tells WMUR-TV (http://bit.ly/2nctxWE ) the new petition could reach the desk of Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu in a few months. The trial was a media circus and one of the first high-profile cases about a sexual affair between a school staff member and student.



Amnesty: US-led coalition not protecting Mosul civilians

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:18:13 UT

BAGHDAD (AP) — A recent spike in civilian casualties in Mosul suggests the U.S.-led coalition is not taking adequate precautions as it helps Iraqi forces battle the Islamic State group, Amnesty International said Tuesday. The rights group's allegations came after the U.S. military acknowledged carrying out a March 17 airstrike in an area of western Mosul where residents say an explosion killed more than 100 civilians. Initial results from an investigation launched by the Iraqi Defense Ministry showed that the airstrike hit an explosive-laden tanker truck which was heading toward the advancing troops, according to Brig. Civilians, humanitarian groups and monitoring officials have repeatedly warned of the possibility of increased civilian casualties in western Mosul due to the higher density of the population there and the increased reliance on airstrikes and artillery. Amnesty International's report quoted survivors and eyewitnesses of airstrikes that have killed civilians as saying that "they did not try to flee as the battle got underway because they received repeated instructions from the Iraqi authorities to remain in their homes."