US, Mexico square off on immigration as top officials meet MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico's mounting unease and resentment over President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown are looming over a gathering of U.S. and Mexican leaders Thursday that the U.S. had hoped would project a strong future for relations between neighbors. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were meeting with their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City before they were supposed to sit down with Mexican President Pena Nieto. But a top Mexican official suggested the meeting with Pena Nieto, announced days in advance by the U.S., might not take place after all. "It all depends on the agreements that they arrive at," Mexico's Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said on a morning news show.
End of transgender bathroom rule gets conservative praise WASHINGTON (AP) - Conservatives are praising the Trump administration's rollback of public school bathroom requirements for transgender students, saying the move corrects a legal overreach by the Obama administration that is best left for states to decide. Transgender rights advocates, meanwhile, are vowing to overcome a major setback. "We're not discouraged. And we're going to keep fighting like we have been and keep fighting for the right thing," said Gavin Grimm, a transgender teen who sued his Virginia high school over its bathroom access policy and whose case is set to be heard by the Supreme Court next month. The Justice and Education departments said Wednesday that public schools no longer need to abide by the Obama-era directive instructing them to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender.
US-backed Iraqi forces enter Mosul airport, military base BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraqi forces backed by the U.S.-led international coalition fought their way Thursday into a sprawling military base outside of Mosul and onto the grounds of the city's airport, taking control of the runway amid fierce exchanges of fire with Islamic State group militants. The two-pronged advance is part of a major assault that started earlier this week to drive IS from the western half of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city Iraqi federal police units, backed by regular army forces, entered the airport Thursday morning, according to two police officials who said heavy clashes were underway hours later with IS militants hunkered down inside several airport buildings.
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AP Analysis: In Venezuela, short on food, short of hope CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela is so short on food that tens of thousands are going hungry or even starving. Its murder rate is among the highest in the world. Its economy is so crippled that the average shopper spends 35 hours a month waiting in line - three times more than in 2014. Yet even as the country becomes increasingly unlivable, the socialist government is more entrenched than it has been in years. A sense of hopelessness has settled over what was once among the richest nations in South America, a belief that nothing will really change. To understand why people have given up, look at Jhorman Valero and his family.
Police begin making arrests in pipeline protest camp CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) - Police in full riot gear began arresting Dakota Access pipeline opponents who remained in a protest camp in North Dakota on Thursday in defiance of orders to leave. Most protesters left peacefully Wednesday, when authorities closed the camp on Army Corps of Engineers land in advance of spring flooding, but some refused to go. Eighteen National Guardsmen and dozens of law officers entered the camp from two directions shortly before midday Thursday, along with several law enforcement and military vehicles. A helicopter and airplane flew overhead. Officers checked structures and began arresting people, putting them in vans to take to jail.
Mnuchin says goal is to pass tax reform by August WASHINGTON (AP) - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday the administration is committed to getting major tax reform legislation through Congress by August. He predicted that President Donald Trump's economic proposals will be able to boost growth significantly to annual rates above 3 percent. Mnuchin said that tax reform is the administration's top economic priority and the goal is to have a measure approved by the time Congress takes its August recess. "We are committed to pass tax reform," Mnuchin said in an interview on CNBC. "It's going to be focused on middle income tax cuts, simplification and making (the U.S.) business tax competitive with the rest of the world, which has been a big problem." He said implementation of Trump's economic program including tax cuts and deregulation would make growth in a range of 3 percent to 3.5 percent "very achievable." During the campaign, candidate Trump had set a goal of achieving growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, of 4 percent or better.
Professor has taken a selfie every day for the past 30 years BOSTON (AP) - Long before they were called selfies, Karl Baden snapped a simple black and white photo of himself. Then he repeated it every day for the next three decades. Baden's "Every Day" project officially turns 30 on Thursday and he says he has no intention of stopping. The stark contemplation on mortality and aging has prompted some to dub the Boston College professor the unwitting "father of the selfie." The 64-year-old Cambridge resident grumbles at comparisons to the pouty face, self-congratulatory portraits that now fill Instagram and Facebook. But he recognizes the ubiquity of the selfie has helped raise the profile of the project, which has been exhibited in art galleries in Boston, New York City and elsewhere over the years.
NASA's Jupiter-circling spacecraft stuck making long laps CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA's Jupiter-circling spacecraft is stuck making long laps around the gas giant because of sticky valves. It currently takes Juno 53 days to fly around the solar system's biggest planet. That's almost four times longer than the intended 14-day orbit. After repeated delays, NASA decided late last week to scrap an engine firing that would have shortened the orbit. Officials said the maneuver is too risky because of the valve problem. Only the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, Juno has been circling the planet since July. NASA said the quality of science won't be affected and stressed that stunning pictures of Jupiter will keep coming this way.
Conservative activist O'Keefe posts tapes targeting CNN NEW YORK (AP) - Conservative activist James O'Keefe on Thursday released what he said are 119 hours of raw audio secretly recorded inside CNN's Atlanta headquarters in 2009. The audio was recorded and provided to O'Keefe's website, Project Veritas, by a source he didn't identify. His organization promoted the tapes as exposing journalistic lapses at CNN. One excerpt reveals that CNN did not include a particular poll in its reporting eight years ago. However, it is common for news organizations to be discerning about which polls they choose to report on. "We don't know everything that's on the tapes. We've listened to a fraction of them," O'Keefe said during a phone interview Thursday, adding that the process of sifting through them continues.
Jimmy Kimmel talks about Trump and other pre-Oscars concerns LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jimmy Kimmel says he never really wanted to host the Academy Awards. "If anything, what I wanted is for people to publicly say that I should be the host and that it's an outrage that I am not the host, but then to not actually have to host it," the 49-year-old comedian told The Associated Press. "Because hosting turns out to be a lot of work, and as you know, people are very critical." Kimmel, who has twice hosted the Emmy Awards, will make his Oscars debut on Sunday. He talked with the AP about his preparations, his pre-show rituals and what role politics might play that night.