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

December 04, 2017 - 8:05 PM

Trump takes rare step to reduce 2 national monuments in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday took the rare step of scaling back two sprawling national monuments in Utah, declaring that "public lands will once again be for public use" in a move cheered by Republican leaders who lobbied him to undo protections they considered overly broad.

The decision marks the first time in a half century that a president has undone these types of land protections. Tribal and environmental groups oppose the decision and began filing lawsuits Monday in a bid to stop Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Trump made the plan official during a speech at the state capitol, where he signed proclamations to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Both monuments encompass millions of acres of land.

State officials said the protections were overly broad and closed off the area to energy development and other access.

Environmental and tribal groups say the designations are needed to protect important archaeological and cultural resources, especially the more than 1.3 million-acre (2,030-square-mile) Bears Ears site featuring thousands of Native American artifacts, including ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.

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Monuments being reduced hold cliff dwellings, scenic cliffs

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Two national monuments in Utah that President Donald Trump is going to significantly reduce include ancient cliff dwellings and scenic canyons as well as areas that could be used for energy development.

Trump made his announcement about Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments during a speech Monday in Salt Lake City. The sites were among 27 that Trump ordered U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review this year.

Here is a closer look at the two monuments:

BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT

Barack Obama created the monument shortly before leaving the White House, marking a victory for Native Americans and conservationists. It was a blow to Republican leaders who campaigned to prevent what they call a layer of unnecessary federal control that hurts local economies by closing the area to new energy development.

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10 Things to Know for Tuesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:

1. HIGH COURT RULES ON TRAVEL BAN

The Supreme Court allows the Trump administration to fully enforce a ban on travel to U.S. by residents of six mostly Muslim countries, though challenges to the policy continue to wind through the courts

2. HOUSE, SENATE SEEK TO RECONCILE DUELING TAX BILLS

Significant differences over estate taxes, health care and mortgage deductions separate the massive tax packages passed by the House and Senate.

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Supreme Court allows full enforcement of Trump travel ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to fully enforce a ban on travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries.

This is not a final ruling on the travel ban: Challenges to the policy are winding through the federal courts, and the justices themselves ultimately are expected to rule on its legality.

But the action indicates that the high court might eventually approve the latest version of the ban, announced by President Donald Trump in September. Lower courts have continued to find problems with the policy.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the White House is "not surprised by today's Supreme Court decision permitting immediate enforcement of the President's proclamation limiting travel from countries presenting heightened risks of terrorism."

Opponents of this and previous versions of the ban say they show a bias against Muslims. They say that was reinforced most recently by Trump's retweets of anti-Muslim videos.

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Rebels kill Yemen's strongman Saleh as alliance collapses

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni rebels on Monday killed their onetime ally Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country's former president, as they gained the upper hand in days of fighting with his forces for control of the capital, Sanaa. The tumult threw the country's three-year civil war into an unpredictable new chapter just as Yemen's Saudi-backed government had hoped the Shiite rebels would be decisively weakened.

Saleh's recent defection from the rebel camp and now his death shattered the alliance that had helped the Iranian-backed rebels, known as Houthis, rise to power in 2014 — giving the government and the Saudi coalition supporting it with airstrikes hope for a turning point in a stalemated war that has brought humanitarian disaster.

But with Saleh's forces seemingly in disarray, it was not immediately clear if the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels will be able to turn the split to its advantage in the war.

It was a grisly end for Saleh, who ruled Yemen for more than three decades until an Arab Spring uprising forced him to step down in 2012. He later allied with the Houthi rebels hoping to exploit their strength to return to power. That helped propel Yemen into the ruinous civil war that has spread hunger and disease among its 28 million people.

Saleh's death was announced by the Houthis and confirmed by two Saleh associates and a Yemeni government official. The exact circumstances were unclear: Houthi officials said their fighters killed him as he tried to flee the capital for his nearby hometown of Sanhan. The Houthis' top leader said Saleh paid the price for his "treason," accusing him of betraying their alliance to side with the Saudi-backed coalition.

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Trump's tweet raises obstruction spectre , worries allies

WASHINGTON (AP) — The shifting explanations for why President Donald Trump fired national security adviser Michael Flynn have revived questions about whether the president may have obstructed an ongoing investigation of potential contacts between his campaign and Russia.

Pressure on the administration has mounted since Flynn last week pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, with prosecutors revealing that he is now co-operating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. And a muddled White House response, including a problematic presidential tweet, has left some Trump confidants worried that the president is not being well-served by his legal team and believing his lawyers have painted a too-rosy picture of the president's potential plight.

The president's aides and legal advisers have scrambled for 48 hours to explain a presidential tweet that raised the spectre of obstruction. It read: "I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice-President and the FBI. He has pleaded guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!"

That tweet appeared to indicate a change in the White House explanation for Flynn's firing, suggesting Trump was aware when the White House dismissed Flynn on Feb. 13 that the national security adviser had lied to the FBI, whose agents had interviewed him weeks earlier. Former FBI Director James Comey has said Trump the following day brought up the Flynn investigation in private at the White House and told him he hoped he could "let this go," raising the possibility he knew Flynn had lied and was looking to cover up the offence.

With questions raised by the tweet, Trump associates tried to put distance between the president and the potentially incriminating message.

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Prosecutors: Manafort wrote op-ed with colleague in Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an attempt to burnish his public image and leave no fingerprints behind, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort recently enlisted a longtime colleague "assessed to have ties" to Russian intelligence to help him ghostwrite an op-ed, prosecutors said Monday.

Prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller say in court papers that they believe the opinion piece — written while Manafort is on house arrest facing several felonies — would have violated a judge's order that bars him from trying his case in the press.

They are now pushing for Manafort to remain confined to his home on GPS monitoring for the time being.

According to the court papers , Manafort and the colleague sought to publish the op-ed to influence public opinion about his political consulting in Ukraine, work at the heart of the criminal case against him. The op-ed was being drafted as late as last week.

Prosecutors did not name Manafort's colleague, who is currently based in Russia, or provide details of how they determined the person had ties to a spy agency. Reached Monday, a spokesman for Manafort declined comment.

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Trump heartily endorses Moore as GOP comes to grips with him

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump gave embattled GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore a vigorous formal endorsement Monday, looking past allegations of sexual misconduct with Alabama teenagers as Republican leaders in Washington, once appalled by Moore's candidacy, began to come to grips with the ever-clearer possibility of his victory.

Buoyed by the taste of his own success in Congress as the Republican tax bill inches closer to passage, Trump telephoned Moore to offer encouragement as well as support and also argued in a pair of tweets that Moore's vote was badly needed to push the president's policies forward. The Republican National Committee quickly followed suit, announcing they were returning the support they had pulled last month.

In addition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was initially among several national Republicans to urge Moore to drop out of the race, said Sunday it was up to Alabama voters to decide whether the former state Supreme Court chief justice should be elected.

Weeks ago, when accusations of sexual misconduct with teenagers first surfaced, Trump's spokesman had said the president believed Moore would "do the right thing and step aside" if the allegations were true.

Top Republicans vowed to expel him from the Senate if he won his Dec. 12 special election. And, publicly and privately, GOP leaders described the allegations against Moore as credible and insisted there were no circumstances under which he should serve in the Senate.

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In wake of Weinstein, men wonder if hugging women still OK

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steve Wyard thought he knew what sexual harassment looked like: a put-out-or-lose-your-job overture. Now he's not so sure.

"Have we gotten to the point now where men can't say, 'That's a nice dress' or 'Did you do something with your hair?'" says the veteran sales associate for a Los Angeles company. "The potential problem is you can't even feel safe saying, 'Good morning' anymore."

The sexual misconduct allegations that have brought down powerful men in Hollywood, media, politics and business are sending a shiver through the workplace. Men are wondering if it's still OK to hug a female colleague or ask about her weekend. And some are asking themselves if they ever, perhaps even inadvertently, crossed the line.

If Garrison Keillor, the gentle-natured former host of public radio's "A Prairie Home Companion," can be fired for accidentally (he said) placing his hand on a woman's bare back, could they get in trouble for something similar?

CEO Tom Turner of Bitsight Technologies, a cybersecurity company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that held a training session for its 270 employees on sexual harassment last month, worries about the effect the national furor will have on the workplace.

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Reeling Giants fire coach McAdoo, GM Reese after 10th loss

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Believing the team was spiraling out of control, the New York Giants went out of character by making two major in-season moves, firing coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese.

With the team reeling at 2-10 in a season where most felt it was capable of challenging for a Super Bowl, co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch reached the decision Monday morning. It came less than a day after the Giants lost in Oakland, with quarterback Eli Manning benched and the offensively inept team performing poorly again.

"We agreed that wholesale changes to this organization needed to be made to get us back to the team we expect it to be," Mara said at a hastily called news conference. "We also agreed it was pointless to wait any longer to make these changes."

Defensive co-ordinator Steve Spagnuolo will take over as interim coach for the final four games. He coached the St. Louis Rams from 2009-11.

Mara did not know whether Manning will return as the starter this weekend against Dallas, saying the decision will be made by Spagnuolo.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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