Trump choice at Homeland Security focuses on border
WASHINGTON (AP) — Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on Sunday amid President Donald Trump's growing frustration and bitterness over the number of Central American families crossing the southern border.
Trump announced on Sunday in a tweet that U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would be taking over as acting head of the department. McAleenan is a longtime border official who is well-respected by members of Congress and within the administration. The decision to name a top immigration officer to the post reflects Trump's priority for the sprawling department founded to combat terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks.
"I have determined that it is the right time for me to step aside," Nielsen wrote in her resignation letter. "I hope that the next secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America's borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation's discourse."
Though Trump aides were eyeing a staff shake-up at Homeland Security and had already withdrawn the nomination for another key immigration post, the development Sunday was unexpected.
Nielsen traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday with Trump to participate in a roundtable with border officers and local law enforcement. There she echoed Trump's comments on the situation at the border, though she ducked out of the room without explanation for some time while Trump spoke. As they toured a section of newly rebuilt barriers, Nielsen was at Trump's side, introducing him to local officials. She returned to Washington afterward on a Coast Guard Gulfstream, as Trump continued on a fundraising trip to California and Nevada.
Trump administration taking new steps to pressure Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) — In an unprecedented step to ramp up pressure on Tehran, the Trump administration is planning to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard a "foreign terrorist organization." The move is expected to further isolate Iran and could have widespread implications for U.S. personnel and policy in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The Trump administration has escalated rhetoric against Iran for months, but this will mark the first such designation by any American administration of an entire foreign government entity. Portions of the Guard, notably its elite Quds Force, have been targeted previously by the United States.
Officials informed of the step said an announcement was expected as early as Monday.
Two U.S. officials and a congressional aide confirmed the planned move. They were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, seemed to anticipate the designation, saying in a tweet Sunday aimed at President Donald Trump that Trump "should know better than to be conned into another US disaster."
This would be just the latest move by the Trump administration to isolate Iran. Trump withdrew from the Obama administration's landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and in the months that followed, reimposed punishing sanctions including those targeting Iran's oil, shipping and banking sectors.
Nissan shareholders OK ouster of ex-chair Ghosn from board
TOKYO (AP) — Nissan's shareholders approved on Monday the ouster from the Japanese automaker's board of its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, who is facing allegations of financial misconduct.
The approval, which was expected, was indicated by applause from the more than 4,000 people gathered at a Tokyo hotel for a three-hour extraordinary shareholders' meeting. Other votes had been submitted in advance.
Ahead of the vote, Nissan's top executive apologized to shareholders for the scandal at the Japanese automaker and asked them to approve Ghosn's dismissal.
Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa and other Nissan Motor Co. executives bowed deeply in apology to shareholders attending the extraordinary meeting at a Tokyo hotel.
Shareholders also approved the appointment of French alliance partner Renault SA's Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard to replace Ghosn. Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan.
AP Photos: India's sacred cow a symbol of rising nationalism
NEW DELHI (AP) — As she patrols for cow smugglers, Sadhvi Kamal, a Hindu holy woman in a saffron robe, rides in a white SUV with a sticker on the rear window displaying a cow framed by swords and rifles. The words in the sticker's logo say, "The cow is the mother of the world."
Kamal leads a vigilante force of thousands of volunteers, mostly young Hindu men. Such vigilante forces have emerged after several Indian states banned the slaughter of cows, sacred to Hindus, in recent years. Mobs have lynched three dozen Muslims, who traditionally run meat shops and slaughterhouses.
As India heads toward elections beginning this week, taking up arms for "mother cow" is part of a broader campaign to impose ancient Hindu religious values across a multicultural country. As with similar movements across the world, Hindu nationalism, once fringe, has now taken a central place in India's politics.
The movement is led by the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who grew up chanting slogans and practicing maneuvers at nationalist training camps. Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party seek to retain power in the elections by promoting Hindutva — a Hindu way of life — instead of secular pluralism. A fresh mandate for Modi could embolden efforts to mold the world's largest democracy of 1.3 billion people into a stringently Hindu nation.
"I think what Modi has successfully done is just to normalize bigotry," said writer and historian Mukul Kesavan. "What we have already seen is a shift of the common sense of the republic way to the right."
UK government, opposition cling to hope of Brexit compromise
LONDON (AP) — Britain's government and opposition were clinging to hope Monday of finding a compromise Brexit deal, 48 hours before Prime Minister Theresa May must try to persuade European Union leaders to grant a delay to the U.K.'s departure from the bloc.
If the bloc refuses, Britain faces a sudden and chaotic departure on Friday, the Brexit deadline previously set by the EU.
May sought talks with the opposition Labour Party after Parliament three times voted down her divorce deal with the EU. Three days of negotiations last week failed to yield a breakthrough, with Labour saying the Conservative government had failed to offer concrete changes to its Brexit plan.
Labour favors a softer Brexit than the government has proposed, including a close economic relationship with the bloc through a customs union.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said Monday that both parties "must make sure we're all prepared to compromise."
Sanders finds himself in a new role: front-runner
DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is quieting critics who questioned whether he could recapture the energy of his upstart 2016 campaign, surpassing his rivals in early fundraising and establishing himself as an indisputable front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Less than two months into his second White House bid , no other declared candidate in the crowded Democratic field currently has amassed so many advantages: a $28 million war chest, a loyal and enthusiastic voter base and a set of clearly defined policy objectives.
That puts Sanders on markedly different footing than during his first White House run, creating new challenges for a candidate whose supporters relish his role as an underdog and an outsider. He now carries the weight of high expectations and will face heightened scrutiny over everything from the cost and feasibility of his government-funded policy proposals to his tax returns, which he has not yet released. He initially blamed "mechanical issues" for the delay, and his campaign now says he wants to wait until after the April 15 tax filing deadline to fulfill his promise to release a decade worth of returns .
Sanders has largely embraced his new front-runner status. More than any other candidate, he draws explicit comparisons with President Donald Trump in his campaign remarks, previewing his approach to a general election faceoff with the incumbent Republican. Behind the scenes, Sanders is also building out a larger, more diverse campaign operation, responding to criticism that his 2016 organization skewed too heavily white and male. Campaign officials say the 2020 campaign staff — roughly 100 people and growing — is majority female and 40 percent people of color.
Still, Sanders' message and style hasn't changed from 2016, when he stunned many Democrats by mounting a formidable challenge to Hillary Clinton and besting her in more than 20 primary contests.
As cholera raged in Yemen, warring factions blocked vaccines
ADEN, Yemen (AP) — In the summer of 2017, a plane chartered by the United Nations idled on the tarmac at an airport in the Horn of Africa as officials waited for final clearance to deliver half a million doses of cholera vaccine to Yemen. Amid the country's ruinous war, the disease was spiraling out of control, with thousands of new cases reported each day.
The green light for the plane to head to northern Yemen never came. The U.N. wasn't able to distribute cholera vaccines to Yemen until May 2018 and the outbreak ultimately produced more than 1 million suspected cholera cases — the worst cholera epidemic recorded in modern times and a calamity that medical researchers say may have been avoided if vaccines had been deployed sooner.
U.N. officials blamed the canceled flight on the difficulties in distributing vaccines during an armed conflict. But officials with knowledge of the episode told The Associated Press that the real reason was that the Houthi rebels who control northern Yemen refused to allow the vaccines to be delivered, after spending months demanding that the U.N. send ambulances and other medical equipment for their military forces as a condition for accepting the shipment.
The cancellation of the shipment was just one of the setbacks that aid agencies faced in battling the cholera epidemic, which has killed nearly 3,000 Yemenis.
Relief workers and government officials said they have seen repeated indications that insiders in both the Houthi government in the north and the U.S.-backed government in the south have skimmed off money and supplies for cholera vaccination and treatment and sold them on the black market. In some cases, treatment centers for people who had contracted cholera existed only on paper even though the U.N. had disbursed money to bankroll their operations, according to two aid officials familiar with the centers.
Telemedicine tied to more antibiotics for kids, study finds
NEW YORK (AP) — Sniffling, sore-throated kids seen via telemedicine visits were far more likely to be prescribed antibiotics than those who went to a doctor's office or clinic, according to a new study.
Many of those prescriptions disregarded medical guidelines, raising the risk they could cause side effects or contribute to the rise of antibiotic-resistant germs.
"I understand the desire for care that's more convenient and timely," said the study's lead author, Dr. Kristin Ray of the University of Pittsburgh. "But we want to make sure that we don't sacrifice quality or safety or effectiveness in the process."
The study was being published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Ray and her colleagues looked at more than 340,000 insured children who had acute respiratory illness medical visits in 2015 and 2016.
Delta tops long-running ranking of US airlines
Delta Air Lines comes in first in a long-running study that ranks U.S. airlines by how often flights arrive on time and other statistical measures.
Researchers who crunch the numbers also say that as a whole, U.S. airlines are getting better at handling baggage and overcrowded flights and are getting fewer complaints.
Academics at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University released their annual study, now in its 29th year, on Monday. They used 2018 data collected by the U.S. Transportation Department on rates of on-time arrivals, mishandled baggage, bumping passengers and consumer complaints.
Delta was the only carrier to improve in all four categories, the researchers said. It rose from second place last year.
JetBlue Airways ranked second, followed by Southwest Airlines and last year's winner, Alaska Airlines.
Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves, Dan + Shay win at ACM Awards
Grammy-winning duo Dan + Shay solidified themselves as the hottest group in country music with multiple wins at the Academy of Country Music Awards, where Keith Urban was named entertainer of the year and Kacey Musgraves won three honors.
Urban won the top prize Sunday with his ninth nomination for the award, besting Chris Stapleton, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean, who held the title the last three years.
"Baby girl, I love you so much," Urban said, looking to his actress-wife, Nicole Kidman. "To the fans out there, you are amazing. You have no idea what you mean to me."
Urban also won entertainer of the year at the Country Music Association Awards in November — his first time winning the prize since 2005.
No women were nominated for the top ACM honor. Musgraves was the sole women up for album of the year.