New blow to GOP health bill: Nevada GOP Sen. Heller opposes WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada said Friday he opposes the GOP bill that would scuttle much of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, complicating the task party leaders face in guiding the banner legislation through the Senate. Heller, who faces a difficult re-election fight next year, said he would vote against the bill in its current form but did not rule out supporting a revamped version. Facing unanimous Democratic opposition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., must get yes votes from 50 of the 52 GOP senators to avoid a defeat that would be a major embarrassment to President Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
Trump signs law to make VA more accountable for vets' care WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Friday that will make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees, part of a push to overhaul an agency that is struggling to serve millions of military vets. "Our veterans have fulfilled their duty to our nation and now we must fulfill our duty to them," Trump said during a White House ceremony. "To every veteran who is here with us today, I just want to say two very simple words: Thank you." Trump repeatedly promised during the election campaign to dismiss VA workers "who let our veterans down," and he cast Friday's bill signing as fulfillment of that promise.
APNewsBreak: Military heads want transgender enlistment hold WASHINGTON (AP) - Military chiefs will seek a six-month delay before letting transgender people enlist in their services, officials said Friday. After meetings this week, the service leaders hammered out an agreement that rejected Army and Air Force requests for a two-year wait and reflected broader concerns that a longer delay would trigger criticism on Capitol Hill, officials familiar with the talks told The Associated Press. The new request for a delay will go to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for a final decision, said the officials, who weren't authorized to discuss the internal deliberations publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
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Senators ask military to review AP report on Yemen torture WASHINGTON (AP) - Two senior U.S. senators are asking Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to investigate reports that U.S. military interrogators worked with forces from the United Arab Emirates accused of torturing detainees in Yemen. Sen. John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the ranking Democrat, Jack Reed, called the reports "deeply disturbing." The reports were revealed in an investigation by The Associated Press published Thursday. That same day, McCain and Reed wrote a letter to the defense secretary asking him to conduct an immediate review of the reported abuse and what U.S. forces knew. "Even the suggestion that the United States tolerates torture by our foreign partners compromises our national security mission by undermining the moral principles that distinguishes us from our enemies- our belief that all people possess basic human rights," the senators wrote Mattis.
Pence visits Focus on Family amid change for religious right COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - Vice President Mike Pence's visit Friday to Colorado to celebrate the anniversary of Focus on the Family comes at a time of change for the religious right during the age of President Donald Trump. Focus on the Family was once well-known for its involvement in politics. But under new leadership, it has dialed that back in an effort by younger evangelicals to withdraw from partisan culture wars. At the same time, many older evangelicals have stayed the course, helping Trump become president and the religious right gain political power. Trump's win breathed new life into the older-school political approach that Focus on the Family once embodied.
Depp's 'assassin' comments the latest in celebrity anger NEW YORK (AP) - Johnny Depp apologized Friday for joking about assassinating Donald Trump during an appearance at a large festival in Britain, the latest example of artists using violent imagery when dealing with the president. "When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?" Depp asked the crowd at Glastonbury Festival, in reference to the death of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in 1865. The 54-year-old "Pirates of the Caribbean" star then added: "I want to qualify, I am not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it has been awhile and maybe it is time." Depp said in a statement Friday that he did not intend any malice and was trying to be amusing.
Military jet practicing for Ohio air show in accident DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Authorities say a military jet apparently practicing for an Ohio air show has been involved in an accident. Sgt. Penelope Reed of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in Dayton says a report was received around 12:30 p.m. Friday of a jet off the end of a runway and on its top at the Dayton International Airport. She says Wright-Patterson Air Force Base dispatched a crash team and heavy rescue crew. No injuries were immediately reported as emergency responders worked to extricate the aircraft's two occupants. Reed says there was no immediate report of any injuries. A statement Friday from the U.S.
Qatar weighs demands to end crisis amid threat of long siege DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - With just days to decide, Qatar on Friday weighed an onerous list of demands by its neighbors as a way out of a regional crisis, and a top Emirati official warned the tiny country to brace for a long-term economic squeeze unless it is willing to acquiesce. Qatar did not immediately respond after receiving a clear set of demands for the first time, but the ultimatum was quickly rejected by its ally, Turkey, and blasted as an assault on free speech by Al-Jazeera, the Qatari broadcaster that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others are demanding to be shut down.
A 2nd mistrial: Jury deadlocks in Ohio cop's murder retrial CINCINNATI (AP) - A second mistrial was declared Friday in the case of a white University of Cincinnati officer who killed an unarmed black motorist during a traffic stop. It's the latest racially charged police shooting case to show the reluctance of U.S. jurors to convict officers. Hamilton County Judge Leslie Ghiz declared a mistrial after more than 30 hours of jury deliberations over five days. The jurors had said earlier Friday that they were unable to reach a verdict in Officer Ray Tensing's trial, but Ghiz had sent them back to try again on the counts of murder and voluntary manslaughter.
London council evacuates residents amid fire safety concerns LONDON (AP) - A local London council has decided to evacuate some 800 households in apartment buildings it owns because of safety concerns following the devastating fire that killed 79 people in a west London high-rise. The move comes amid escalating concerns among residents of thousands of tower blocks around Britain. The Camden Council is the first to take such a dramatic step in light of June 14 fire at Grenfell Tower. Council leader Georgia Gould says the borough took the unusual step after the London Fire Brigade and council experts had conducted a joint inspection of the properties. "Camden Council is absolutely determined to ensure that our residents are safe and we have promised them that we will work with them, continue to act swiftly and be open and transparent," Gould said in a statement.