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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

Mueller: Ex-Trump campaign chair lied, broke plea agreement

WASHINGTON (AP) — The special counsel in the Russia investigation is accusing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of violating his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to federal investigators, an extraordinary allegation that could expose him to a lengthier prison sentence — and potentially more criminal charges.

The torpedoing of Manafort’s plea deal, disclosed in a court filing Monday, also results in special counsel Robert Mueller’s team losing a cooperating witness from the top of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign who was present for several key episodes under investigation. That includes a Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer he was told had derogatory information on Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The move signals a return to the acrimonious relationship Manafort has had with the special counsel’s office since his indictment last year. Before his plea agreement, Manafort aggressively challenged the special counsel’s legitimacy in court, went through a bitter trial and landed himself in jail after prosecutors discovered he had attempted to tamper with witnesses in his case.

In the latest filing, Mueller’s team said Manafort “committed federal crimes” by lying about “a variety of subject matters” even after he agreed to truthfully cooperate with the investigation. Prosecutors said they will detail the “nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies” in writing at a later date to the judge.

Through his attorneys, Manafort denied lying, saying he “believes he provided truthful information” during a series of sessions with Mueller’s investigators. He also disagreed that he breached his plea agreement. Still, both sides now agree they can’t resolve the conflict, and U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson should set a date to sentence him.

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GM to lay off up to 14K workers, close as many as 5 plants

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors will cut up to 14,000 workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure as it abandons many of its car models and restructures to focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles, the automaker announced Monday.

The reductions could amount to as much as 8 percent of GM’s global workforce of 180,000 employees.

The restructuring reflects changing North American auto markets as manufacturers continue to shift away from cars toward SUVs and trucks. In October, almost 65 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. were trucks or SUVs. That figure was about 50 percent cars just five years ago.

GM is shedding cars largely because it doesn’t make money on them, Citi analyst Itay Michaeli wrote in a note to investors.

“We estimate sedans operate at a significant loss, hence the need for classic restructuring,” he wrote.

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‘Flawless’: NASA craft lands on Mars after perilous journey

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA spacecraft designed to drill down into Mars’ interior landed on the planet Monday after a perilous, supersonic plunge through its red skies, setting off jubilation among scientists who had waited in white-knuckle suspense for confirmation to arrive across 100 million miles of space.

Flight controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, leaped out of their chairs, screaming, dancing and hugging, upon learning that InSight had arrived on Mars, the graveyard for a multitude of previous missions.

“Touchdown confirmed!” a flight controller called out just before 3 p.m. EST, instantly dispelling the anxiety that had gripped the control room as the spacecraft made its six-minute descent.

Because of the distance between Earth and Mars, it took eight minutes for confirmation to arrive, relayed by a pair of tiny satellites that had been trailing InSight throughout the six-month, 300-million-mile (482-million-kilometer) journey.

The two satellites not only transmitted the good news in almost real time, they also sent back InSight’s first snapshot of Mars just 4½ minutes after landing.

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Trump rallies for embattled US senator in Mississippi

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — President Donald Trump stumped in Mississippi on Monday for Republican Senate appointee Cindy Hyde-Smith who has found herself in a closer-than-expected runoff contest after comments she made about attending a public hanging drew condemnation.

While Trump rallied supporters, Hyde-Smith’s opponent, Democrat Mike Espy described his campaign as an effort to reach across the “chasm of racial division” during a speech at a predominantly African-American church.

Voters will decide the runoff election Tuesday.

“She votes for us and she votes for ‘Make America Great Again,'” Trump said at a rally in Tupelo, where he was accompanied by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Trump called Hyde-Smith “a truly incredible leader and tireless champion” for Mississippi.

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Q&A on scientist’s bombshell claim of gene-edited babies

Designer babies might be here sooner than anyone reckoned. A Chinese researcher who says he created gene-edited babies crossed what most scientists consider a forbidden line.

It’s not clear if the claim is true and if so, how the twin girls whose DNA reportedly was altered will fare as they grow.

There is wide scientific agreement that rewriting DNA before birth — to prevent an inherited disease or to give a baby some “designer” trait — isn’t yet safe to try outside laboratory experiments that do not lead to human births.

“Grossly premature and deeply unethical,” is how noted U.S. bioethicist Henry Greely of Stanford University characterized the claim.

The researcher, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, said he altered embryos when parents were undergoing fertility treatments to change a gene so that it might provide the resulting babies with a trait few people naturally have — protection against future infection with the AIDS virus.

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After dispute with Russia, Ukraine to impose martial law

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s parliament voted Monday to impose martial law in parts of the country to fight what its president called “growing aggression” from Moscow after a weekend naval confrontation off the disputed Crimean Peninsula in which Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels amid renewed tensions between the neighbors.

Western leaders and diplomats urged both sides to de-escalate the conflict, and the U.S. blamed Russia for what it called “unlawful conduct” over Sunday’s incident in the Black Sea.

Russia and Ukraine blamed each other in the dispute that further ratcheted up tensions ever since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and threw its weight behind separatists in eastern Ukraine with clandestine support, including troops and weapons.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked lawmakers in Kiev to institute martial law, something the country did not do even during the worst of the fighting in the east that killed about 10,000 people.

After a five-hour debate, parliament overwhelmingly approved his proposal, voting to impose martial law for 30 days starting Wednesday morning in 10 of Ukraine’s 27 regions — those bordering Russia, Belarus and Moldova’s pro-Moscow breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester. The locations chosen were ones that Poroshenko identified as potentially in the front line of any Russian attack. The capital of Kiev is not under martial law.

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Slick roads, blowing snow delay air, road travel in Midwest

CHICAGO (AP) — A wintry storm brought blizzard-like conditions to parts of the Midwest early Monday, grounding hundreds of flights and causing scores of accidents and at least one death on slick roads crowded with people returning to work after the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Chicago area was slammed with up to a foot (30 centimeters) of wet snow, and whiteout conditions stalled commuter traffic on the roads. The National Weather Service said 7.5 inches (19 centimeters) of snow fell at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and 4.9 inches (12.5 centimeters) fell at Midway International Airport.

The Chicago Department of Aviation says more than 1,200 flights were canceled at O’Hare between midnight and 3 p.m. Monday, after 700 flights at the airport were canceled Sunday. At Midway International Airport, where 123 flights were canceled on Sunday, another 71 flights had been canceled as of midnight.

One Chicago native trying to fly to Orlando, Florida, chided himself for not heeding the forecast, but maintained his sense of humor.

“I knew it was right around the corner, and behold I stayed that one extra day and paid the price. So I was able to spend the evening here at beautiful O’Hare and had plenty of company,” said Mark McCoy, referring to all the other travelers stranded at the travel hub.

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Trump strongly defends use of tear gas on caravan migrants

SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Donald Trump is strongly defending the U.S. use of tear gas at the Mexican border to repel a crowd of migrants that included angry rock-throwers but also barefoot, crying children.

Critics denounced the border agents’ action as overkill, but Trump kept to a hard line.

“They were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas,” Trump said Monday of the previous day’s encounter. “Here’s the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless they come in legally.”

At a roundtable in Mississippi later Monday, Trump seemed to acknowledge that children were affected, asking, “Why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming and it’s going to be formed and they were running up with a child?”

He said it was “a very minor form of the tear gas itself” that he assured was “very safe.”

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Breast implants reveal problems in tracking device safety

WASHINGTON (AP) — To all the world, it looked like breast implants were safe. From 2008 to 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration publicly reported 200 or so complaints annually — a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of implant surgeries performed each year.

Then last fall, something strange happened: Thousands of problems with breast implants flooded the FDA’s system. More than 4,000 injury reports filed in the last half of 2017. Another 8,000 in the first six months of 2018.

Suddenly, women like Jamee Cook had evidence suggesting their suffering might be linked to their breast implants. An emergency room paramedic, Cook had quit her job because of a vague but persistent array of health problems that stretched over a decade, including exhaustion, migraines, trouble focusing and an autoimmune disorder diagnosis.

Why had it taken so long for complaints like hers to see the light of day?

Makers of breast implants were required to track patients and their health. But for more than a decade, manufacturers with high numbers of recurring problems — in the case of implants, ruptures that required surgery to remove — were allowed to report issues in bulk, with one report standing in for thousands of individual cases and no way for the public to discern the true volume of incidents.

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US officials: It’s OK to eat some romaine, look for labels

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s OK to eat some romaine lettuce again, U.S. health officials said. Just check the label.

The Food and Drug Administration narrowed its blanket warning from last week, when it said people shouldn’t eat any romaine because of an E. coli outbreak. The agency said Monday the romaine linked to the outbreak appears to be from the California’s Central Coast region. It said romaine from elsewhere should soon be labeled with harvest dates and regions, so people know it’s OK to eat.

People shouldn’t eat romaine that doesn’t have the label information, the FDA said. For romaine that doesn’t come in packaging, grocers and retailers are being asked to post the information by the register.

Romaine harvesting recently began shifting from California’s Central Coast to winter growing areas, primarily Arizona, Florida, Mexico and California’s Imperial Valley. Those winter regions weren’t yet shipping when the illnesses began. The FDA also noted hydroponically grown romaine and romaine grown in greenhouses aren’t implicated in the outbreak.

The labeling arrangement was worked out as the produce industry called on the FDA to quickly narrow the scope of its warning so it wouldn’t have to waste freshly harvested romaine. An industry group said people can expect to start seeing labels as early as this week. It noted the labels are voluntary, and that it will monitor whether to expand the measure to other leafy greens and produce.

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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