Obamacare repeal vote put off in stinging setback for Trump WASHINGTON (AP) - After seven years of fervent promises to repeal and replace "Obamacare," President Donald Trump and GOP congressional leaders buckled at a moment of truth Thursday, putting off a planned showdown vote in a stinging setback for the young administration. The White House insisted the House vote would still happen - Friday morning instead - but with opposition flowing from both strongly conservative and moderate-leaning GOP lawmakers, that was far from assured. The delay was announced after Trump, who ran for president as a master deal-maker, failed to close the deal with a group of fellow Republicans in the first major legislative test of his presidency.
White House defends GOP lawmaker's decision to brief Trump WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House on Thursday defended the House intelligence committee chairman's extraordinary decision to openly discuss and brief President Donald Trump on typically secret intelligence intercepts, even as Rep. Devin Nunes privately apologized to his congressional colleagues. The decision to disclose the information before talking to committee members outraged Democrats and raised questions about the independence of the panel's probe of Russian interference in the election. "It was a judgment call on my part," Nunes told reporters shortly after the closed-door committee meeting. "Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong decision." Frustrated Democrats questioned whether Nunes, who served on Trump's transition team, was working in coordination with the White House, a charge the White House disputed.
AP sources: US to approve Keystone XL pipeline WASHINGTON (AP) - The Trump administration will approve the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, senior U.S. officials said, ending years of delay for a project that has served as a flashpoint in the national debate about climate change. The State Department will recommend the pipeline is in U.S. interests, clearing the way for the White House to grant a presidential permit to TransCanada to build the $8 billion pipeline, two officials said. It's a sharp reversal from the Obama administration, which rejected the pipeline after deeming it contrary to national interests. The officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity, said the State Department's recommendation and the White House's final approval would occur Friday.
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London defiant as IS claims attack by British ex-con, 52 LONDON (AP) - Authorities on Thursday identified a 52-year-old Briton as the man who mowed down pedestrians and stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament in London, saying he had a long criminal record and once was investigated for extremism - but was not currently on a terrorism watch list. As millions of Londoners returned to work a day after a rampage that killed four victims and injured at least 30, British Prime Minister Theresa May had a message for other attackers: "We are not afraid." "Today we meet as normal - as generations have done before us, and as future generations will continue to do," she said to lawmakers' cheers in the House of Commons.
Maryland high school thrust into immigration debate BETHESDA, Md. (AP) - A Maryland high school has been thrust into the national immigration debate after a 14-year-old student said she was raped in a bathroom there by two classmates, including one who authorities said came to the U.S. illegally from Central America. Protesters on both sides of the debate converged on a nearby elementary school Thursday during a visit by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. And the White House has weighed in, saying the president has made a crackdown on illegal immigration a priority "because of tragedies like this." The Montgomery County school system has been besieged by hundreds of racist and xenophobic calls.
Israel arrests hacker linked to threats on US Jewish centers JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli police on Thursday arrested a 19-year-old hacker who they said was the main suspect in a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States, appearing to crack a case that has sent a chill through the American Jewish community. The surprising arrest of the Jewish man, who holds dual Israeli and American citizenship, came after a trans-Atlantic investigation with the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies. U.S. Jewish groups welcomed the breakthrough in the case, which had raised concerns of rising anti-Semitism and drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump. Israeli police described the suspect as a hacker, but said his motives were still unclear.
Police: Random racist violence ends in death of black man NEW YORK (AP) - One was a neighborly black man who lived in a rooming house in New York's Garment District, liked to collect autographs outside Broadway's theaters, struck up a Twitter friendship with a Hollywood actress and took photos of himself with Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce. The other was a white Army veteran from outside Baltimore who was raised in what was described as a churchgoing and liberal family and served in Afghanistan. Late Monday night, officials say, their paths crossed tragically on the streets of New York in a cold-bloodedly random act of racist violence by the white man.
Airlift of forces in Syria shows growing US involvement WASHINGTON (AP) - The deepening U.S. military involvement against Islamic State militants in northern Syria indicates the Pentagon will likely send even more troops in coming weeks. Their mission won't be to fight on the front lines but to bolster Syrian Arab and Kurdish forces in a coming battle for the key city of Raqqa. On Wednesday, the Pentagon disclosed that Marine pilots airlifted scores of Syrian partner forces to the front lines, kicking off an offensive designed to capture a strategic crossroad along the Euphrates River. It was the first such U.S. assistance to the Arab and Kurdish fighters comprising the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Democrats threaten delay on Supreme Court nominee WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Democrats vowed Thursday to impede Judge Neil Gorsuch's path to the Supreme Court, setting up a political showdown with implications for future openings on the high court. Still irate that Republicans blocked President Barack Obama's nominee, Democrats consider Gorsuch a threat to a wide range of civil rights and think he was too evasive during 20 hours of questioning. Whatever the objections, Republicans who control the Senate are expected to ensure that President Donald Trump's pick reaches the bench, perhaps before the middle of April. The Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, was among five senators to declare their opposition to Gorsuch Thursday, even before the Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination had ended.
Utah governor says he will approve strictest DUI limit in US SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah's governor announced Thursday that he will sign legislation giving the predominantly Mormon state the strictest DUI threshold in the country, a change that restaurant groups and representatives of the ski and snowboard industry say will hurt tourism. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said he plans to approve the measure lowering the blood alcohol limit for most drivers to 0.05 percent from 0.08 percent and that it will save lives. Opponents had urged him to veto the bill , saying it would punish responsible drinkers and burnish Utah's reputation as a state that's unfriendly for those who drink alcohol.