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Pentagon seeks to expand fight against Somali extremists…GOP Medicaid plan gets cool reception from Democratic governors

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon is asking for an inroad into Somalia to battle a notorious al-Qaida-affiliated group there. The recommendations sent to the White House would allow U.S special operations forces to increase assistance to the Somali National Army in the struggle against al-Shabab militants. Senior U.S. officials contend the stubborn extremist group has plotted attacks against America.

WASHINGTON (AP) – A Republican proposal for a major overhaul to Medicaid is getting a cool reception from Democrats at the National Governors Association winter meeting in Washington, D.C. GOP governors intend to present Congress with a plan that they say would give states more flexibility to administer health coverage for poorer residents. The governors will meet with President Donald Trump and congressional leaders tomorrow.

WASHINGTON (AP) – A Republican congressman says an investigation by the attorney general wouldn’t be appropriate in the case of Russia’s alleged interference with the 2016 election. Appearing on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” California Rep. Darrell Issa ┬ásaid that’s because Attorney General Jeff Sessions was appointed by President Donald Trump. Issa called for a special prosecutor.

ATLANTA (AP) – Observers say Tom Perez has his work cut out for him as new Democratic Party Chairman. Many liberals were disappointed that he beat Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, even though Perez offered and Ellison accepted the deputy chairmanship. Perez, the former labor secretary, now faces the task of unifying Democrats as well as rebuilding party fortunes which have taken a beating of late.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments tomorrow on a lawsuit related to restrictions on the use of social media. Lester Packingham Jr. posted on Facebook about a traffic court win in 2010, despite being barred from using social networks by a 2008 North Carolina law because he’s a sex offender. He was prosecuted and convicted. His suit says the law is too broad.


GOP working on health measure…Dems choosing a leader…Attack bar reopening

WASHINGTON (AP) – New tax credits, bigger contributions to personal health savings accounts and a tax on high-end employer health plans are among the provisions in a draft Republican bill replacing President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It shows Republicans have begun translating their ideas into legislative language, but the draft is preliminary.

ATLANTA (AP) – Democrats start the process today of trying to fight their way back from the November election losses. A vote is set today to choose a new national chairman charged with turning widespread opposition to President Donald Trump into more election victories. The outcome between former Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison is uncertain.

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) – A suburban Kansas City bar that was the scene of what may have been a hate crime shooting on Wednesday is set to reopen today. Witnesses at the bar, in Olathe (oh-LAY’-thuh), say a white male yelled “get out of my country” before opening fire. Two men from India, were wounded, one fatally. A man who tried to help was also wounded.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – A proposal to avoid sticking taxpayers with the bill for cleaning up mining company messes is being delayed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is under pressure from the industry and congressional Republicans. Contaminated water from mine sites can threaten drinking water supplies. Companies in the past avoided cleanup costs in many cases by declaring bankruptcy.

SAN DIEGO (AP) – Construction of President Donald trump’s border wall could be a step closer. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it plans to start awarding contracts by mid-April. The agency said it will request bids on or around March 6 and that “concept papers” to design and build prototypes would be due by March 10.

Trump to Speak at CPAC…Dems Accuse Priebus of Meddling with FBI…Kansas Man Accused of Barroom Killings

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump goes before the Conservative Political Action Congress meeting outside Washington today. He’s expected to get a much more enthusiastic reception than when he first addressed the group six years ago. Back then, no one cheered when Trump said he might run for president. They even booed him for saying Ron Paul couldn’t get elected.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Some Democrats lawmakers are expressing outrage over a reported conversation between White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and a top FBI official. A White House official says Priebus asked the official to dispute media reports that President Donald Trump’s campaign advisers were frequently in touch with Russian intelligence agents during the election.

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) – A man accused of shooting two Indian nationals in a crowded suburban Kansas City bar, killing one of them, has been charged with murder and attempted murder. Also shot and wounded was a man who tried to subdue the gunman. Authorities won’t say yet whether the shooting was a hate crime; a bartender says the suspect used “racial slurs.”

LONDON (AP) – Britain’s governing Conservative Party has dealt a substantial blow to the opposition Labour Party and its struggling leader Jeremy Corbyn by seizing a parliamentary seat in a special election. Conservative Trudy Harrison won the seat in Copeland, a rural district in the far north of England that has long been a Labour stronghold.

TOKYO (AP) – It was not business as usual for some workers in Japan this last Friday of the month. As the clock struck 3 p.m., about 100 office workers raised champagne glasses in a cafe in the middle of Tokyo’s central business district to toast “Premium Friday.” It’s a new monthly initiative to promote better work-life balance in a country known for its long working hours.

Bathroom Protections Dropped…Ten Arrests as Pipeline Protestors Leave…Indiana Powerball Winner

WASHINGTON (AP) – Transgender students no longer have federal protections allowing them to use school bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities. The Trump administration has come down on the side of states’ rights, lifting Obama-era guidelines. Transgender advocates are promising a fight.

METAIRIE, La. (AP) – Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana got an earful from demonstrators who jeered, waved signs and turned their backs on him during a raucous town hall in Metairie. Across the country, Republicans returning home this week to their districts during a congressional recess have faced similar receptions from angry constituents.

CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) – Public officials in North Dakota are asking remaining protesters at the Dakota Access oil pipeline camp to leave so authorities can resume cleaning up the area. Most of the campers departed the site ahead of a Wednesday deadline. Ten people who refused to comply were arrested.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – SpaceX has made good on a 250-mile-high delivery to the International Space Station. Astronauts captured SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship today, a day after a GPS problem. The navigation error was quickly fixed, and everything went smoothly the second time around.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A single Powerball ticket has beaten odds of one in 292 million to win the jackpot, estimated at $435 million, in last night’s drawing. It was the first jackpot to climb above $400 million in nearly three months. The game’s website says the winning ticket was sold in Indiana. The numbers are 10, 13, 28, 52, 61, and Powerball 2.