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Homeland Security chief: No use of military for deportations
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Seeking to tamp down growing unease in Latin America, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly pledged Thursday that the United States won't enlist its military to enforce immigration laws and that there will be "no mass deportations." Only hours earlier, President Donald Trump suggested the opposite. He told CEOs at the White House the deportation push was a "military operation." Kelly, speaking in Mexico's capital, said all deportations will comply with human rights requirements and the U.S. legal system, including its multiple appeals for those facing deportation. He said the U.S. approach will involve "close coordination" with Mexico's government.


Malaysia says VX nerve agent used in killing of N.Korean
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - The banned chemical weapon VX nerve agent was used in the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean ruler's outcast half brother who was poisoned last week at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, police said Friday. The substance was detected on Kim's eyes and face, Malaysia's inspector general of police said in a written statement, citing a preliminary analysis from the country's Chemistry Department. The death of Kim Jong Nam, whose daylight assassination in a crowded airport terminal seems straight out of a spy novel, has unleashed a diplomatic crisis that escalates by the day.


Iraq retakes Mosul airport amid cautious advances against IS
SOUTH OF MOSUL, Iraq (AP) - Closely supported by the U.S.-led international coalition, Iraqi forces secured a series of cautious advances on Thursday, pushing into a sprawling military base outside of Mosul and onto the grounds of the city's airport, where they took control of the runway. The three-pronged attack began just after sunrise, with three convoys of Iraqi forces snaking north across Nineveh's hilly desert on Mosul's southern approach. Iraq's special forces joined federal police and rapid response units in the push - part of a major assault that started earlier this week to drive IS from the western half of Iraq's second-largest city.


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White House adviser asked FBI to dispute Russia reports
WASHINGTON (AP) - White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked a top FBI official to dispute media reports that President Donald Trump's campaign advisers were frequently in touch with Russian intelligence agents during the election, a White House official said late Thursday. The official said Priebus' request came after the FBI told the White House it believed a New York Times report last week describing those contacts was not accurate. As of Thursday, the FBI had not stated that position publicly and there was no indication it planned to. The New York Times reported that U.S. agencies had intercepted phone calls last year between Russian intelligence officials and members of Trump's 2016 campaign team.


Out of power, Democrats hope to harness Trump resistance
ATLANTA (AP) - Out of power and looking for a way forward, Democrats are hoping to harness the energy of an opposition movement that has flourished since President Donald Trump took office. The ideal for the party is to use a disparate network of liberal and progressive groups - like the Facebook sensation that led to worldwide women's marches the day after Trump's inauguration - to drive voters to the polls in gubernatorial and special House elections this year and congressional midterms next year. The enthusiastic throngs would then watch newly elected Democrats enact policies the movement wants. As Democrats gathered in this Southern city for their three-day annual meeting, political reality hit hard.


Conservatives urged not to 'squander' Trump presidency
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) - President Donald Trump's vice president and top aides delivered one overriding message Thursday to the thousands of conservative activists gathered for their annual conference outside of Washington: Don't blow it. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump's victory provided the nation with what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to install conservative solutions to the nation's problems. "This is the chance we've worked so hard, for so long, to see. This is the time to prove again that our answers are the right answers for America," Pence said. The vice president said the Trump administration would soon take aim at the sweeping health care law approved under former President Barack Obama, saying the nation's "Obamacare nightmare is about to end." He said Republicans would implement a new plan and would have "an orderly transition to a better health care system." Earlier, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus pleased for patience and unity, urging activists not to squander the Republican Party's control of both chambers of Congress and the White House.


Dakota Access oil pipeline camp cleared of protesters
CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) - Authorities on Thursday cleared a protest camp where opponents of the Dakota Access oil pipeline had gathered for the better part of a year, searching tents and huts and arresting dozens of holdouts who had defied a government order to leave. It took 3 hours for about 220 officers and 18 National Guardsmen to methodically search the protesters' temporary homes. Authorities said they arrested 46 people, including a group of military veterans who had to be carried out and a man who climbed atop a building and stayed there for more than an hour before surrendering.


Trio of military men gain growing influence with Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) - In a White House laden with competing power centers, a trio of military men has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford have quickly formed a stabilizing alliance in an administration whose earliest days have been marked by turmoil. At working dinners and meetings with President Donald Trump, the men - all retired or current generals -have sought to guide the new leader and foreign policy novice. And they have increasingly represented Trump around the world, seeking to allay concerns about the new president and his nascent foreign policy.


White House expects Justice crackdown on legalized marijuana
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department will step up enforcement of federal law against recreational marijuana, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday, offering the Trump administration's strongest indication to date of a looming crackdown on the drug, even as a solid majority of Americans believe it should be legal. "I do believe you'll see greater enforcement of it," Spicer said in response to a question during a news conference. But he offered no details about what such enforcement would entail. President Donald Trump does not oppose medical marijuana, he added, but "that's very different than recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice will be further looking into."


Bills targeting transgender bathroom access are floundering
Bills to curtail transgender people's access to public restrooms are pending in about a dozen states, but even in conservative bastions such as Texas and Arkansas they may be doomed by high-powered opposition. The bills have taken on a new significance this week following the decision by President Donald Trump's administration to revoke an Obama-era federal directive instructing public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender. Many conservative leaders hailed the assertions by top Trump appointees that the issue was best handled at the state and local level. Yet at the state level, bills that would limit transgender bathroom access are floundering even though nearly all have surfaced in Republican-controlled legislatures that share common ground politically with Trump.



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