AP Exclusive: Drugs vanish at some VA hospitals WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal authorities are stepping up investigations at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals due to a sharp increase in opioid theft, missing prescriptions or unauthorized drug use by VA employees since 2009. That's according to government data obtained by The Associated Press. Doctors, nurses or pharmacy staff at federal hospitals siphoned away controlled substances for their own use or street sales, or drugs intended for patients disappeared. Aggravating the problem is that some VA hospitals have been lax in tracking drug supplies. Congressional auditors said spot checks found four VA hospitals skipped monthly inspections of drug stocks or missed other requirements.
Trump seeks national security adviser, health care strategy WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - President Donald Trump's holiday weekend featured a raucous campaign rally, a health care strategy session, interviews for a new national security adviser - and even a few holes of golf. Trump brought four contenders to his private club Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Sunday as he seeks a replacement for retired Gen. Michael Flynn, who was ousted last week. Trump says he wants to make a decision in the next few days. The president also drilled down on policy during his working weekend at Mar-a-Lago, attending a strategy session on how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, with top aides including newly-installed Health Secretary Tom Price and Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House budget office.
US Defense Secretary Mattis: No plan to seize Iraqi oil BAGHDAD (AP) - U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, shifting away from an idea proposed by President Donald Trump that has rattled Iraq's leaders. Mattis' arrived on an unannounced visit in Iraq as the battle to oust Islamic State militants from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria. Those efforts could be complicated by Trump's oil threat and his inclusion of Iraq in the administration's travel ban - twin blows that have roiled the nation and spurred local lawmakers to pressure Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to reduce cooperation with Washington.
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Iraqi troops push into IS-held southern outskirts of Mosul SOUTH OF MOSUL, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi Federal Police forces on Monday pushed into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a new push to drive Islamic State militants from the city's western half as the U.S. defense secretary started a visit to Iraq to discuss the fight against IS. Backed by aerial support from the U.S.-led international coalition, Iraqi police and regular army troops launched an offensive on Sunday to retake western Mosul from IS following a 100-day campaign that pushed the militants from the eastern half of the city. Iraqi helicopters were seen firing rockets at the village of Abu Saif early Monday morning, mainly at a hill that overlooks the city's airport and provides the militants with a natural defense line on the southern approaches to Mosul.
Trump's first month augurs stormy trans-Atlantic relations BRUSSELS (AP) - After President Donald Trump's raucous first month in office, Europeans have reacted with demonstrations, counter-barbs and sheer angst that a century of trans-Atlantic friendship may be sinking. "Too much as happened," European Union leader Donald Tusk said Monday, "for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be." The governments of some traditional allies have gone a step further, uniting with fundraising plans and a special conference to balance the new U.S. administration's reverse tack from Barack Obama's presidency on abortion policies. Beyond Trump's orders on immigration, few of the administration's policies have unsettled many European nations as much as his ban on funding for international groups that perform abortions or provide information about abortions to women in developing nations.
N. Korean envoy blasts Malaysians, calls for joint probe KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - North Korea's top envoy in Kuala Lumpur on Monday denounced Malaysia's investigation into the apparent killing of the exiled half brother of North Korea's ruler, calling it politically motivated and demanding a joint probe into the death. The comments from Ambassador Kang Chol came amid rising tensions between North Korea and Malaysia over the death, with Malaysia recalling its ambassador to Pyongyang over what it called "baseless" allegations. Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, died last week after apparently being poisoned in a Kuala Lumpur airport. Security camera footage obtained by Japanese television appeared to show a careful and deliberate attack in which a woman comes up from behind him and holds something over his mouth.
Famine declared in part of South Sudan by government and UN KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) - Famine has been declared in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. The official classification of famine highlights the human suffering caused by South Sudan's three-year civil war and even as it is declared President Salva Kiir's government is blocking food aid to some areas, according to U.N. officials. More than 100,000 people in two counties of Unity state are experiencing famine and there are fears that the famine will spread as an additional 1 million South Sudanese are on the brink of starvation, said the announcement.
AP source: Revised travel ban targets same countries WASHINGTON (AP) - A draft of President Donald Trump's revised immigration ban targets the same seven countries listed in his original executive order and exempts travelers who already have a visa to travel to the U.S., even if they haven't used it yet. A senior administration official said the order, which Trump revised after federal courts held up his original immigration and refugee ban, will target only those same seven Muslim-majority countries - Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya. The official said that green-card holders and dual citizens of the U.S. and any of those countries are exempt. The new draft also no longer directs authorities to single out - and reject - Syrian refugees when processing new visa applications.
Prosecutors say malnutrition killing inmates in Haiti jails PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Dozens of emaciated men with sunken cheeks and protruding ribs lie silently in an infirmary at Haiti's largest prison, most too weak to stand. The corpse of an inmate who died miserably of malnutrition is shrouded beneath a plastic tarp. Elsewhere, prisoners are crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in cellblocks so overcrowded they have to sleep in makeshift hammocks suspended from the ceiling or squeeze four to a bunk. New arrivals at Haiti's National Penitentiary jostle for space on filthy floors where inmates on lockdown 22 hours a day are forced to defecate into plastic bags in the absence of latrines.
New Zealand judge upholds Kim Dotcom extradition ruling WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - A New Zealand judge on Monday upheld an earlier court ruling that flamboyant internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and three of his colleagues can be extradited to the U.S. to face criminal charges. The decision comes five years after U.S. authorities shut down Dotcom's file-sharing website Megaupload and filed charges of conspiracy, racketeering and money laundering against the men. If found guilty, they could face decades in prison. Dotcom, who lives in New Zealand, has been fighting extradition in a case which has moved with glacial slowness at times. And Monday's decision won't be the last, with the case likely to be appealed up to New Zealand's Supreme Court, a process that could take another year or two.