Remnants of pipeline protest camp go up in flames CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) - Some of the last remnants of the Dakota Access pipeline protest camp went up in flames Wednesday as opponents of the project set fire to makeshift wooden housing as part of a leaving ceremony ahead of a government deadline to get off the federal land. The camp has been home to demonstrators for six months as they tried to thwart construction of the pipeline. Many of the protesters planned to go peacefully, but authorities were prepared to arrest others who said they would defy the deadline in a final show of dissent. About 150 people marched arm-in-arm out of the camp, singing and playing drums as they walked down a highway.
Trump administration to lift transgender bathroom guidance WASHINGTON (AP) - The Trump administration will revoke federal guidelines that tell public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity, the White House said Wednesday. The decision would be a reversal of an Obama-era directive advising public schools to grant bathroom access to students in line with their expressed gender identity and not necessarily the gender on their birth certificate. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Wednesday that the previous administration's guidelines were confusing and hard to implement and that new directives would be issued later in the day. A government official with direct knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press that the Obama-era guidance would be rescinded, though anti-bullying safeguards would not be affected.
What happens if Trump pulls transgender bathroom guidance? WASHINGTON (AP) - The Trump administration plans to lift an Obama-era directive that told public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity. That Obama guidance will be rescinded, though anti-bullying safeguards will not be affected by the change, a government official with knowledge of the Trump administration's plans told The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the plans and did so on condition of anonymity. Although the Obama directive carried no force of law, transgender rights advocates say it was necessary to protect students from discrimination. Opponents argued it was an example of federal overreach.
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Immigrants change up their routines, brace for arrest In Orange County, California, dozens of immigrants have signed powers of attorney authorizing relatives and friends to pick up their children from school and access their bank accounts to pay their bills in the event they are arrested by immigration agents. In Philadelphia, immigrants are carrying around wallet-size "Know Your Rights" guides in Spanish and English that explain what to do if they're rounded up. And in New York, 23-year-old Zuleima Dominguez and other members of her Mexican family are careful about answering the door, and get worried and start making phone calls when someone doesn't come home on time. Around the country, President Donald Trump's efforts to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S.
7 Earth-size worlds found orbiting star; could hold life CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - For the first time, astronomers have discovered seven Earth-size planets orbiting a single nearby star - and these new worlds could hold life. This cluster of planets is less than 40 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, according to NASA and the Belgian-led research team who announced the discovery Wednesday. The planets circle tightly around a dim dwarf star called Trappist-1, barely the size of Jupiter. Three are in the so-called habitable zone, the area around a star where water and, possibly life, might exist. The others are right on the doorstep. Scientists said they need to study the atmospheres before determining whether these rocky, terrestrial planets could support some sort of life.
Want to run for French president? Join the crowd PARIS (AP) - More and more people want to join France's unpredictable presidential race - hopefuls who might never win but could garner enough votes to tilt the outcome. Starting Saturday, would-be candidates have until March 17 to gather the signatures of 500 mayors (from the more than 35,000 mayors across France) to qualify for France's two-round presidential election April 23 and May 7. With two months before voting begins, here's a look at who wants to run and why: FRANCE'S RISING RIGHT With Europe's migrant influx and fears of Islamic extremism on many voters' minds, polls show high support for the tough-on-security platform of conservative former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and the nationalist campaign of far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Republicans who won after rowdy town halls now avoiding them DENVER (AP) - Republicans who benefited from rowdy town halls six years ago and harnessed a wave of discontent with Democrats to win seats in Congress are learning a hard lesson this week as they return home: The left is happy to return the favor. Across the U.S., Democrats and their allies are spending this short congressional recess protesting elected Republican politicians who are avoiding the events that often turn into shouting matches. Just like the tea party sympathizers who vented against Democrats and President Barack Obama, the new left and left-leaning protesters are taking out their ire on Republicans and their links to President Donald Trump.
Mass slaughter in Brazil prison exposes gang war over drugs MANAUS, Brazil (AP) - Shortly after midnight on New Year's Eve, hundreds of inmates watched from a Manaus prison yard as the sky lit up with fireworks, paid for by the gangs that dominate the jail system. The revelry continued well into the next day, and inmates celebrated with their wives and girlfriends. But then the guards noticed something strange: The prisoners were asking their guests to go. "That is all for today, leave now," guards heard prisoners say. The last family member left at 4:09 p.m. on New Year's Day. What happened next would go beyond any worst-case scenario imagined by guards or authorities, unleashing a brutality that would lay bare a failed prison system and a gruesome battle between gangs for influence in Latin America's largest nation.
College Board to boost SAT security to combat cheating PITTSBURGH (AP) - The firm that owns the SAT college entrance exam is boosting security worldwide following test-stealing and other cheating in recent years. The College Board said it's reducing the number of international testing dates from six per year to four for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. It says the move will reduce opportunities for test content to be stolen. The New York-based college entrance exam provider announced Wednesday that it is taking steps to prevent past cheaters from retaking tests. In addition, it says it will alert law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad of companies and people it suspects of illegally obtaining test content.
Oscars look to 'La La Land,' host Kimmel for ratings boost LOS ANGELES (AP) - If the Oscars had doubled down on nominating films with actors named Ryan, the ceremony's chances for a ratings bounce might be as likely as host Jimmy Kimmel's Trump jokes. Saluting a blockbuster like Ryan Reynolds' "Deadpool" is the surest way to lure viewers. But there's optimism afoot that the Ryan Gosling-Emma Stone charmer "La La Land," combined with pop-star performances and Kimmel's agile wit, will make Sunday's ceremony on ABC (8 p.m. EST) a winner. "The fact that 'La La Land' is a musical, it's a feel-good movie, it's a romantic movie, it does bode well for the ratings this year," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst with media research firm comScore.