Mon, 5 Dec 2016 16:24:29 UTOXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Far from the Las Vegas Strip, MGM Resorts International opens its $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor casino and resort just outside the nation's capital this week, advertising a gambling floor "bigger than the White House" and an art collection that includes a large welded collage by Bob Dylan. Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, describes the design as "intentionally monumental," meaning that the area's first casino-resort was designed to complement Washington's iconic landmarks. A plaza with a reflecting pool offers sweeping views of the water and the capital city's monuments across the way. MGM National Harbor's casino floor is about 125,000 square feet, with table games and more than 3,300 slot machines. There's also a spa, salon, outdoor pool and 50,000 square feet of meeting space. A 12-foot chocolate fountain is the centerpiece of a European-inspired pastry shop, called Bellagio after the MGM casino in Las Vegas. Bob Dylan's "Portal," a metal collage with an aquatic theme including a Maryland blue crab, arches over an entrance to the casino floor. State lawmakers reduced the state's high tax rate on those casinos in order to help make up for lost market share with the opening of MGM.
Mon, 5 Dec 2016 15:48:41 UTCHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the trial of a fired South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting of an unarmed black motorist (all times local): Jurors also asked whether the definition of self-defense for a police officer is different that for the average person. Deliberations have entered a fourth day in the case and the jury is considering whether to acquit Slager, find him guilty of murder or convict him of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott. The jury of 11 whites and one black has already discussed the case for 16 hours without reaching a verdict and late Friday appeared to be deadlock before the foreman said he thought they could reach a unanimous verdict. Michael Slager is charged in the shooting death last year of 50-year-old Walter Scott who was shot fleeing a traffic stop in North Charleston.
Mon, 5 Dec 2016 15:40:05 UT(AP) — Presidential candidate Jill Stein's fight to force ballot recounts in three states focuses Monday on Pennsylvania, where her Green Party is seeking an emergency federal court order for a statewide recount, and Michigan, where a federal judge has ordered a hand recount to begin by noon. Here's what's going on in each state and in Nevada, where a partial recount of the race was requested by independent presidential candidate Roque De La Fuente: Stein argued that a law is unconstitutional that requires a break of at least two business days after the Board of Canvassers' final action on a recount request. Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette, the Trump campaign and super PACs have filed separate lawsuits asking state courts to prevent the recount, arguing that Stein, as the fourth-place finisher, is not "aggrieved" because she has no chance of winning in a recount. The Green Party filed a federal lawsuit on Monday seeking a statewide recount — a move that came after the party on Saturday dropped a case set to be argued Monday in state courts. An updated count Friday by state election officials showed Trump's lead shrinking to 49,000 from 71,000 over Clinton, out of 6 million votes cast, as more counties finish counting overseas ballots and settled provisional ballot challenges.
Mon, 5 Dec 2016 15:36:00 UTWASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump, moving to complete formation of his Cabinet and decide other key posts, chose former campaign rival Ben Carson on Monday to be secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Trump's decision, announced by his transition office, comes as the real estate mogul continues a series of interviews, meetings with aides and other deliberations aimed at forming his administration. In his 1996 autobiography "Gifted Hands," Carson wrote of the humiliation he felt using food stamps from his mom to pay for bread and milk, and said how he began to excel at school only after receiving a free pair of glasses that allowed him to see the lessons written on chalk boards. With the help of financial aid and scholarships, Carson attended Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School before being the first African-American named as the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore. Carson's rise to political prominence began with a 2013 speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he gave a withering critique of the modern welfare state and the nation's overall direction while President Barack Obama was seated just feet away. Carson's business dealings also faced scrutiny, including his ties to a wealthy Pittsburgh dentist whom he helped avoid prison time for felony health care fraud.
Mon, 5 Dec 2016 15:33:47 UT(AP) — The death toll in the Oakland warehouse fire has grown to 36 and authorities say they expect the number to rise when they resume work later Monday following a temporary work stoppage. The fire erupted during a dance party late Friday night. [...] survivors and friends of those who perished have placed flowers on several small memorials. Bouquets of sunflowers, single white roses, lilies and carnations were stuck in chain-link fences, votive candles burned on sidewalks and post-it notes paid tribute to the missing and the dead in the most lethal building fire in the U.S. in more than a decade. Kai Thomas and a group of red-eyed classmates from an arts high school in San Francisco pressed against police tape Sunday near the street corner where the "Ghost Ship," a warehouse converted to artist studios and illegal living spaces, rapidly went up in flames, taking the life of a friend. The building had been carved into artist studios and visitors and former denizens said it was a cluttered death trap, piled with scrap wood, a mess of snaking electric cords and only two exits. Almena had leased the space from its owner and then rented five recreational vehicles and other nooks on the ground floor as living spaces, said Danielle Boudreaux, a former friend of Almena and Allison. Shelley Mack was drawn there by the promise of living among artists and paying a reasonable rent in an area where the tech boom has created a housing shortage and exorbitant leases.
Mon, 5 Dec 2016 15:26:53 UTWork has stopped at the scene for now because one wall is leaning inward, posing a safety hazard for those who have been searching the structure. Authorities also believe they've located the section of the building where the fire started, but the cause remains unknown.
Mon, 5 Dec 2016 15:05:40 UTKHAZIR, Iraq (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency distributed aid on Monday to dozens of Iraqi families uprooted from their homes in and around the city of Mosul, warning that their needs will only increase as winter progresses and temperatures continue to fall below freezing. UNHCR aid workers handed out kerosene heaters, jerry cans, plastic sheets and hygiene kits to about 30 families. Unlike in some areas inside Mosul where chaos erupted when hundreds of civilians overwhelmed aid trucks, the people lined up to get the aid in a camp in the town of Khazir, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Mosul. The UNHCR's senior public information officer, Caroline Gluck, said the aid items are part of emergency assistance for families who've literally fled for their lives. While the area has largely been under Iraqi army control for nearly a month, electricity has not yet been restored and intermittent sniper fire and car bombs have prevented aid groups from delivering supplies to civilians trapped near the front lines. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are estimated to still be inside Mosul as the Iraqi government has encouraged residents to stay put to avoid massive humanitarian displacement. Fathiya Isamii said her family survived the intense clashes with IS when Iraqi forces retook the Intisar neighborhood only to have her son injured by a sniper round weeks after the area was declared liberated.
Mon, 5 Dec 2016 14:09:35 UTMonday's unexpected announcement came two days before the 75th anniversary of the attack and six months after Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the memorial in Hiroshima for victims of the U.S. atomic bombing of that city at the end of the same war. Abe, in a brief statement to reporters, said he would visit Hawaii on Dec. 26 and 27 to pray for the war dead at the naval base at Pearl Harbor and to hold a final summit meeting with Obama before the latter's presidency ends. More than 2,300 U.S. servicemen died in the aerial attack, which will be marked Wednesday by a remembrance ceremony and a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., when the Japanese planes hit their first target. [...] Koichi Nakano, a professor of international politics at Tokyo's Sophia University, said Abe's Pearl Harbor visit and his commitment to the Japan-U.S. alliance in the future are tantamount to "giving a blank check to Trump" despite the uncertainty over bilateral relations under his administration.
Mon, 5 Dec 2016 13:37:09 UTDylan, the winner of this year's Nobel Prize in literature, declined the invitation to the Dec. 10 prize ceremony and banquet, pleading other commitments.
Mon, 5 Dec 2016 13:30:25 UTA leading Chinese scholar says Beijing will take a wait-and-see approach, but one possible response is to punish Taiwan, perhaps by further reducing its scope for participation in international organizations. In his tweets, Trump accused China of currency manipulation and over-taxation of American imports — practices seen by some as exacerbating the U.S. trade deficit with China, which rose to $367 billion last year. During the election campaign, Trump proposed a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports, something experts say could spark a trade war. U.S. businesses that complain of facing unfair barriers in the Chinese market could benefit if Trump's tough talk persuades Beijing to avoid confrontation by making concessions. A significant rise in U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports, primarily inexpensive consumer goods, would also hurt lower-income Americans, the sort of people that voted for Trump in large numbers in the election. China is the hard-line communist regime's biggest source of trade, aid and diplomatic support, something the U.S. argues gives it unique leverage to press North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programs. A sharp downturn in the U.S.-China relationship could further reduce Beijing's willingness to pressure North Korea through the imposition of United Nations Security Council sanctions, which it has so far reluctantly supported. China is adamantly opposed to South Korea's deployment of a highly advanced U.S. anti-missile system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD. China has been making major strides in asserting its claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, its islands and reefs, challenging the U.S. Navy's insistence on free navigation in the disputed, strategically vital waterbody. While Trump has shown little interest in advocating civil liberties in China, past administrations have pushed the cases of imprisoned dissidents, called for respect for the rights