National News, Photos and Videos

The Associated Press
AP Top News at 11:24 a.m. EST

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.


US, Mexico at odds over deportation 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 that the U.S. had hoped would project a strong future for relations between neighbors. There is no shortage of tension points as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly meet Thursday with top Mexican officials. After all, it's Kelly who's tasked with executing Trump's plan to target millions for possible deportation, and Tillerson who must explain it to the rest of the world. As the pair arrived in Mexico City, the two countries seemed much farther apart than their close geographical proximity would suggest.


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.


AP Analysis: Why Venezuelans have lost hope life will change
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.


Governor: Dakota Access protesters can leave without arrest
CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) - A few dozen people still occupying a sprawling encampment on federal land to protest construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline will have another chance to leave peacefully Thursday, North Dakota's governor said, after public officials pleaded with the self-named "water protectors" to leave so the site can be cleared. Most of the protesters marched out of the area ahead of the 2 p.m. Wednesday deadline imposed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Authorities arrested 10 people who defied the order in a final show of dissent. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said law enforcement officers remained outside the camp.


With electricity out, new EPA chief reached out to lobbyist
WASHINGTON (AP) - When a summer thunderstorm knocked out power to Scott Pruitt's home three years ago, the then-attorney general of Oklahoma reached out to a lobbyist for American Electric Power. Pruitt's executive assistant emailed Howard "Bud" Ground, saying "General Pruitt" wanted to know when his lights would be back on. The utility lobbyist asked for Pruitt's address and a work crew soon arrived at the Republican official's sprawling, 5,500-square-foot Tulsa home. The 2013 email exchange is one of dozens reviewed by The Associated Press that underscore the cozy ties between the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency and those that profit from burning fossil fuels.


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 forego an engine firing that would have shortened the orbit. Officials say the maneuver poses too much risk. NASA says the quality of science won't be affected. But it will take more time to gather the data, given Juno's longer loops. The mission will have to be extended at tens of millions of extra dollars if scientists are to collect everything under the original plan.


Conservative activist O'Keefe posts tapes targeting CNN
NEW YORK (AP) - Conservative activist James O'Keefe has released what he says are 119 hours of raw audio secretly recorded inside CNN's Atlanta headquarters in 2009. The audio was recorded by what O'Keefe's website, Project Veritas, describes as an anonymous source identified only as "Miss X." O'Keefe says the tapes show that CNN did not include a particular poll in its reporting; however, it is common for news organizations to be discerning about which polls they choose to report on. CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, O'Keefe announced his plans to release the recordings.


Alan Colmes, liberal voice on Fox, dead at 66
NEW YORK (AP) - Alan Colmes, the radio and television host and commentator best known as the amiable liberal foil to the hard-right Sean Hannity on the Fox News Channel, has died. Fox spokeswoman Dana Klinghoffer confirmed his death Thursday. Fox also aired a tribute to Colmes, narrated by Hannity, and a statement from his family saying that he died Thursday morning after "a brief illness." Colmes was 66 and is survived by his wife, Jocelyn Elise Crowley, the sister of longtime Fox contributor Monica Crowley. In a statement issued through Fox, Hannity called Colmes "one of life's most decent, kind and wonderful people."