Reynolds – Fisher honored with humor, music and dance

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Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher
FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2011 file photo, Carrie Fisher kisses her mother, Debbie Reynolds, as they arrive at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. The mother-daughter actresses will be honored at a public memorial on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at the storied Hollywood Hills cemetery where both have been laid to rest. Fisher and Reynolds died one day apart in late December 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

LOS ANGELES/March 25, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — Laughter, music and the tapping of dancing shoes reverberated throughout a public memorial to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, which loved ones say is just how the actresses would have wanted it.

There were few tears throughout the two-hour ceremony Saturday, which honored the mother-daughter duo’s impact on film, culture and those who knew them with a mix of photos, videos, and anecdotes that kept the audience laughing and applauding.

Todd Fisher led the ceremony, which he said was intended to bring fans an intimate view of his mother and sister. He called it a show, saying his mother hated to attend memorials.

Hundreds of fans — some wearing “Star Wars” attire — attended the public ceremony that featured numerous family photos and Reynolds’ final interview reflecting on her life and philanthropy, and one of Fisher’s high school friends sharing some her off-color emails to him.

A troupe from Reynolds’ dance studio performed an homage to “Singin’ in the Rain,” the film that catapulted Reynolds to stardom at age 19. After an opening film that was an ode to Fisher’s “Star Wars” role, a working R2D2 unit came on stage, mournfully beeped and parked next to a director’s chair with Fisher’s name on it. Across the stage, near a piano, sat an empty chair with Reynolds’ name on it.

Fisher, 60, an actress and writer who starred as Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, died Dec. 27 after suffering a medical emergency days earlier aboard a flight from London. Reynolds, an Oscar-nominated actress for her role in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” died the following day at age 84.

Todd Fisher recounted his mother’s final moments and her remark that she wanted to be with her daughter.

“It was a very peaceful exit that only my mother could have orchestrated,” he said to booming laughter. “She was trained in Hollywood where they teach you to make a great entrance, and exit.”

Actor Dan Aykroyd described Fisher, his one-time fiancée, as a chatterbox who never let him speak. He described using the Heimlich maneuver on her once, and joked that if he had been on the plane where Fisher fell ill in December, he “might have been able to save her again.”

He echoed a sentiment expressed by many early in his remarks. “We really shouldn’t be here this soon,” he said.

When speakers weren’t delivering one-liners — some that had been uttered or penned by Fisher and Reynolds — music and dance took over the stage. The ceremony featured a new song James Blunt wrote after Fisher’s death, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles performed a somber rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” that celebrated Fisher’s status as a feminist icon.

Actress Ruta Lee celebrated Reynolds’ philanthropy in her eulogy, which included her singing to troops during the Korean War and her later efforts raising millions to help those suffering from mental illness.

Lee said it was OK to feel sadness at the deaths of Reynolds and Fisher, but not to dwell on it. “Debbie the unsinkable and her beautiful daughter would never want us to mourn,” she said.

Author Gavin de Becker, who attended high school with Fisher and recounted how his infatuation with her turned into a lifelong friendship, said his friend “zoomed through time” and made so many people’s lives better. He recounted how Fisher took him on international trips and “gave me so many firsts.

“The first time I had sex was at Carrie’s house,” de Becker said. “It wasn’t with Carrie, but she arranged it.”

It was one of many tales about the actresses that drew boisterous laughter.

After the service, fans were invited to see the actresses’ final resting place at Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills, a storied cemetery where numerous celebrities, including Bette Davis and Liberace, are buried or interred.

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ANTHONY McCARTNEY, AP Entertainment Writer

Accolades, Openings, Tragedies & Hope – STL Restaurant News

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STL Restaurant News Weekly Recap March 19 – 25, 2017
STL Restaurant News Weekly Recap March 19 – 25, 2017

STL Restaurant News Weekly Recap March 19 – 25, 2017

ST. LOUIS, MO/March 25, 2017 (STL.News) – The dynamic nature of the culinary industry is exciting and delicious. Nowhere is that more true than right here in the Gateway City.  We keep up with the biggest stories of the week and some of the juicier tidbits too.  What follows is a compendium of the biggest stories of the week in St. Louis’ ever changing restaurant scene.

Like March in St. Louis, the last week was a mix of shining moments, new beginnings, and adversity.  We wrote about two new restaurants, national accolades for a couple of St. Louis’ star chefs, and the devastation of an iconic south city restaurant.  And like March, the last week has been a reminder that no matter how much national acclaim is lauded on our culinary community, we are a family that takes care of our own.

STL Has Two Repeat James Beard Finalists

It’s considered one of the highest honors in the culinary industry.  After naming five St. Louis area chefs as semifinalists for James Beard Foundation Awards, the culinary organization has whittled the list and announced this year’s JBF Award finalists.  For the second year in a row, two local chefs have been named as finalists for JBF’s Best Chef: Midwest award. Executive Chef/Owner Kevin Nashan is the creative force behind Sidney Street Café, 2000 Sidney St. in Benton Park.  Executive Chef/Owner Kevin Willmann has made Farmhaus, 3257 Ivanhoe Ave. in Lindenwood Park a regional leader in farm-to-table, sustainable dining.  This year’s JBF Chef award winners will be announced May 1st at a gala in Chicago.
Finally, Vicia is Open

It might have been the most anticipated restaurant opening of the year.  Finally, Vicia in the Cortex Innovation Community is open for business.  The buzz preceding the restaurant’s opening follows a year of teasing St. Louis diners. Michael and Tara Gallina began creating their vegetable-forward culinary magic for St. Louis diners with a series of pop-up dinners playfully named Rooster and the Hen (gallina is Spanish for hen).  Like the Gallina’s pop up dinners, Vicia features a seasonally driven vegetable-forward cuisine.  But it’s not vegetarian.  The creative dishes spotlight produce, while using proteins (meat, fish, chicken, etc.) to enhance the vegetables.  The restaurant also specializes in wood fired cooking and offers an ever-changing menu.  Daily service at Vicia, 4260 Forest Park Ave. in the Central West End began with Wednesday’s lunch.

Crushed Red is Coming to Chesterfield

In a few days a new Crushed Red is about to open in Chesterfield.  The fast casual chain is known for its organic pizza, soup, and of course, salads.  They’re slogan is “Artfully Chopped Craft Salads™.”  The new restaurant will be in the footprint of the old Kreiger’s Sports Bar & Grill at 1684 Clarkson Road. (Kreiger’s fans can find their favs at Krieger’s Hometown Sports Bar & Grill at 1356 Big Bend Road in Ballwin.)  Crushed Red has 4 other Missouri locations, including Kirkwood, Creve Coeur, Clayton, and Columbia, as well as one in Edwardsville.  There are also 2 Colorado locations and 1 in Kansas.  Restaurateur Chris LaRocca says there are plans for more locations in the works.

Soulard’s Restaurant & Bar Fire

A longtime mainstay in Soulard was heavily damaged by fire last weekend.  Firefighters were called to a blaze at the two-story brick restaurant at 1731 South 7th Street at approximately 6:00 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, Friday March 17.  Jasean Davis, a dishwasher at the restaurant, said the fire began when the manager was cleaning the stove.  Davis said he believed grease and food debris may have ignited.  Davis said the fire spread to the exhaust hood.  There were no customers in the casual steak and seafood restaurant at the time of the fire and no one was injured.  This is the second fire in a restaurant owned by members of the Badock family in as many weeks.  Tim Badock currently owns the restaurant his parents opened in Soulard in 1977.  The restaurant belonging to his brother, Dan Badock, Lewis & Clark’s Restaurant at 217 South Main Street in St. Charles, was heavily damaged by an early morning fire Wednesday, March 9th.

St. Louis Gears Up to Dine Out for Life

Each year, since 1993, local restaurants have given away at least 25-percent of their day’s receipts to benefit those living with HIV/AIDS in the St. Louis community.  St. Louis is one of more than 50 communities in the US and Canada participating.  This year’s Dine Out event is set for Thursday, April 27th. This year 58 restaurants have signed up to participate so far.  Nine are donating 50-percent of each customer’s check to benefit St. Louis Effort for AIDS.  The local non-profit provides education on the prevention of HIV/AIDS and comprehensive support services for those affected by the disease.  In 2016 the St. Louis community raised over $151,000.  All of the money stays in the local community where it was raised.

Elite! Chiozza hits 3 at OT buzzer, Gators beat Wisconsin

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Florida
Florida players celebrate after a last second shot by guard Chris Chiozza (11) to beat Wisconsin in overtime of an East Regional semifinal game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, Saturday, March 25, 2017, in New York. Florida won 84-83. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK (AP)(STL.News) — With 4 seconds left in overtime, Chris Chiozza took off with the ball, hoping to get to the hoop or find an open man. Instead, the Florida point guard stopped short right at the 3-point line and let fly with a shot that will go down in Gators’ history.

Chiozza’s 3-pointer swished in at the buzzer in to send Florida to the East Regional final with an 84-83 victory over Wisconsin on Friday night in the most dramatic game of this NCAA Tournament.

“This is something for the rest of his life that he’ll be remembered by,” Florida coach Mike White. “‘He made an unbelievable play.”

The fourth-seeded Gators will play South Carolina on Sunday in an all-Southeastern Conference matchup for a spot in the Final Four.

Nigel Hayes had given the Badgers (27-10) a 2-point lead with 4 seconds left on two free throws. With no timeouts, the Gators inbounded to Chiozza and he took care of the rest for Florida (27-8), setting off a Swamp-like celebration at Madison Square Garden.

“I was going to pass, but I was really going to the rim. But they did a good job of bumping me and slowing me down, and that was the shot I had so I had to have that one,” Chiozza said.

Hayes ended up chasing and that is no way to play defense.

“I need to do a better job of making him change directions. He’s extremely quick with the ball and he was able to put it in one hand and kind of outrun me,” Hayes said.

Wisconsin’s Zak Showalter was set to be the star before Chiozza took it away. Showalter, a senior, forced overtime with a leaping 3-pointer off one leg with 2.1 seconds left in regulation — pointing to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the crowd — as the Badgers wiped out a 12-point, second-half deficit in the last 4:15.

Florida is in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2014, and for the first time under White — the former Mississippi guard who was on the losing end of one of the most famous game-winning shots in NCAA history.

White and the Rebels were upset by Valparaiso on Bryce Drew’s buzzer-beater in 1998. Does this one make up for that?

“Hell yeah,” said White, the second-year coach who replaced Billy Donovan. “With an emphasis on the hell. Yeah. Absolutely. What a neat game to be a part of, especially when you’re on the winning end.”

KeVaughn Allen earned the respect of Rodgers for carrying Florida most of the way. Allen broke out of a slump with a career-high 35 points.

Eighth-seeded Wisconsin built a five-point lead in overtime, but with star guard Bronson Koenig hobbled by a leg issue the Badgers couldn’t close out Florida.

After Wisconsin’s Khalil Iverson hit the front of the rim on a breakaway dunk that Florida’s Canyon Barry got a piece of, Chiozza drove for a layup that tied it at 81 with 24 seconds left.

The Badgers put it in Hayes’ hands on their final possession. The senior who scored the winning bucket in Wisconsin’s upset of defending champion Villanova, used a spin move to draw a foul.

Hayes had 22 in his last game for Wisconsin.

Making their fourth straight Sweet 16 appearance, it looked as if the experienced Badgers had once again found a way to survive and advance.

Chiozza then earned himself a spot in the “One Shining Moment” montage.

BIG PICTURE

Wisconsin: The end of an era for the Badgers. Seniors Hayes, Koenig, Showalter and Vitto Brown go out having been part of four straight Sweet 16 appearances.

“This is a tough way for them to go out,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “And how they battled back, came from 12 down, it’s kind of a microcosm of how they have navigated through the program. They have fought back at adverse times and tonight was a great testament to their Will and never give up attitude.”

All-Big Ten selection Ethan Happ will return as the focal point for the Badgers next season, but there will be bigger roles for players such as Khalil Iverson, D’Mitrik Trice and Brevin Pritzl.

Florida: The SEC only got five of its 14 teams into the NCAA Tournament, but it will have three in the final eight for the first time since 1986 (Kentucky plays in the South Regional final against North Carolina on Sunday) and at least one in the Final Four. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was at the Garden, enjoying the S-E-C! chants. Sankey brought two ties with him to the arena. He had garnet for South Carolina in game one and then changed to blue and orange for Florida in the nightcap.

UP NEXT

Florida: The Gators split two regular-season games with South Carolina.

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For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

John Mayer’s new single is ode to ex-girlfriend Katy Perry

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John Mayer
FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2013, file photo, John Mayer and Katy Perry arrive at the ceremonial swearing-in for President Barack Obama at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington. Perry told The New York Times for an article published online March 23, 2017, that his new single, “Still Feel Like Your Man,” is about Perry. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP)(STL.News) — John Mayer’s new single, “Still Feel Like Your Man,” is about ex-girlfriend Katy Perry.

Lyrics for the upbeat, but wistful single include, “I still keep your shampoo in my shower in case you want to wash your hair.” In an interview with The New York Times, Mayer rhetorically asks “who else would I be thinking about” but Perry.

Mayer adds that “it’s a testament to the fact that I have not dated a lot of people in the last five, six years.”

Mayer has had other high-profile girlfriends over the years, including Jessica Simpson and Taylor Swift.

The singer tells the Times he uses an exclusive dating app these days.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Spacewalking astronauts prep station for new parking spot

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Space Station
This still image taken from live video provided by NASA shows astronaut Shane Kimbrough, right, works on the International Space Station during a space walk on Friday, March 24, 2017. Kimbrough and France's Thomas Pesquet emerged early from the orbiting complex, then went their separate ways to accomplish as much as possible 250 miles up. Their main job involves disconnecting an old docking port. This port needs to be moved in order to make room for a docking device compatible with future commercial crew capsules. (NASA via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP)(STL.News) — Spacewalking astronauts prepped the International Space Station on Friday for a new parking spot reserved for commercial crew capsules.

The 250-mile-high complex already has one docking port in place for the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner, which should start carrying up astronauts as early as next year. Friday’s spacewalk set the stage for a second docking location. A new docking device will fly up late this year or early next.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough disconnected all four cables from an old docking port, using some extra force on one. He looped a spare tether around the balky cable and pulled, and off it came. “Nicely done, Shane,” Mission Control radioed.

On Sunday, flight controllers in Houston will move the old port to provide better clearance for the future ships. Then on Thursday, the crew will conduct another spacewalk to secure the unit.

Until the new crew capsules come on line, U.S. astronauts will keep riding Russian rockets to orbit.

As Kimbrough worked on the docking port and replaced a computer-relay box, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet hunted for signs of an ammonia coolant leak in outdoor plumbing. The leak, while still small, has worsened recently, and NASA wants to pinpoint the location.

“No leaks. No flakes whatsoever,” he reported.

During their 6 ½-hour excursion, the spacewalkers also replaced a pair of Japanese cameras, greased latching mechanisms on the end of the big robot arm and even tackled some extra work.

Their crewmates welcomed them back inside, wearing special black glasses and face masks, after Kimbrough reported there was a yellow chalk-like substance on one of his gloves. As an added precaution, both of his gloves were bagged before they came off.

NASA wants to cram in two and possibly three spacewalks before Kimbrough, the station’s commander, returns to Earth on April 10.

Before a third spacewalk, Orbital ATK needs to launch a cargo ship to the space station with replacement parts. That shipment was supposed to be there by now, but repeatedly has been delayed because of rocket concerns. It’s unclear when the Atlas V rocket will be ready at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

NASA has been contracting out cargo deliveries since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011. The space agency is counting on private companies to do the same with astronauts.

“It will be exciting to see a new way to bring crew members into orbit,” NASA astronaut Robert Behnken said from Mission Control. He is among four astronauts training for the Dragon and Starliner test flights.

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Online:

NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Failure on health bill also hurts prospects for tax overhaul

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Paul Ryan
In this March 24, 2017, photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announces that he is abruptly pulling the troubled Republican health care overhaul bill off the House floor, short of votes and eager to avoid a humiliating defeat for President Donald Trump and GOP leaders, at the Capitol in Washington. Trump wants to tackle tax reform, but the loss on health care deals a blow to that effort. The loss on health care deprives Republicans of $1 trillion in tax cuts, and the GOP is just as divided on what steps to take. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON/March 25, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — House Republicans’ failure to repeal Barack Obama’s health care law deals a serious blow to another big part of President Donald Trump’s agenda: tax reform.

Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., say they will soon turn their attention to the first major re-write of the tax code in more than 30 years. But they will have to do it without the momentum of victory on health care.

Just as important, the loss on health care will deprive Republicans of $1 trillion in tax cuts.

The GOP health plan would have repealed nearly $1 trillion in taxes enacted under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The bill coupled the tax cuts with spending cuts for Medicaid, so it wouldn’t add to the budget deficit.

Without the spending cuts, it will be much harder for Republicans to cut taxes without adding to the federal government’s red ink.

“Yes this does make tax reform more difficult,” said Ryan. “But it does not in any way make it impossible.”

“That just means the Obamacare taxes stay with Obamacare. We’re going to go fix the rest of the tax code,” he added.

House Republicans couldn’t round up enough votes Friday to repeal and replace a law they despise, raising questions about their ability to tackle other tough issues.

“Doing big things is hard,” Ryan conceded as he vowed to press on.

Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, acknowledged that Friday’s turn of events made him doubtful about the Republicans’ ability to tackle major legislation.

“This was my first big vote and our first big initiative in the line of things to come like tax reform,” said the freshman. “I think this would have given us tremendous momentum and I think this hurts that momentum.”

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., said, “You always build on your last accomplishment.”

Nevertheless, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday the administration plans to turn quickly to tax reform with the goal of getting an overhaul approved by Congress by August.

“Health care is a very complicated issue,” Mnuchin said. “In a way, tax reform is a lot simpler.”

Don’t tell that to House Republicans who have been struggling with the issue for years.

The general goal for Republicans is to lower income tax rates for individuals and corporations, and make up the lost revenue by reducing exemptions, deductions and credits.

Overhauling the tax code is hard because every tax break has a constituency. And the biggest tax breaks are among the most popular.

For example, nearly 34 million families claimed the mortgage interest deduction in 2016, reducing their tax bills by $65 billion.

Also, more than 43 million families deducted their state and local income, sales and personal property taxes from their federal taxable income last year. The deduction reduced their federal tax bills by nearly $70 billion.

Mnuchin said he had been overseeing work on the administration’s tax bill for the past two months. He said it would be introduced soon.

Mnuchin said the White House plan would cut individual and corporate tax rates, though he didn’t offer specifics.

House Republicans have released a blueprint that outlines their goals for a tax overhaul. It would lower the top individual income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, and reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three.

The House plan retains the mortgage interest deduction but repeals the deduction for state and local taxes.

On the corporate side, the plan would repeal the 35 percent corporate income tax and replace it with a 20 percent tax on imports and domestically produced goods and services that are consumed in the U.S.

Exports would be exempt from the new tax, called a border adjustment tax.

The new tax has drawn opposition from Republicans in the Senate. Mnuchin would not reveal whether the administration will include the border adjustment tax in the White House proposal. He was speaking at a public interview event with the news site Axios.

Republicans often complained that they couldn’t do a tax overhaul when Obama was president. Now, Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House, and they see a great opportunity.

They plan to use a complicated Senate rule that would prevent Democrats from blocking the bill. But there’s a catch: Under the rule, the package cannot add to long-term budget deficits.

That means every tax cut has to be offset by a similar tax increase or a spending cut. That’s why the loss on health care was so damaging to the effort to overhaul taxes.

Ryan made this case to fellow House Republicans in his failed effort to gain support for the health plan.

“That was part of the calculation of why we had to take care of health care first,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y.

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STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press

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Associated Press writers Kevin Freking and Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.

Trump and Mnuchin say focus will turn to tax reform

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Steven Mnuchin
FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017 file photo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. Mnuchin says after the battle over health care, the administration will turn quickly to tax reform with the goal of getting a program approved by Congress by August 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON/March 25, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — Now that the effort to overhaul the nation’s health care system has collapsed, the Trump administration is turning its attention to tax reform.

President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that the administration will now focus on gaining congressional approval for a sweeping tax overhaul plan.

Trump’s comments came after Republicans were forced to cancel a House vote on their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act because they could not get the support needed for passage.

After Republicans pulled the health measure, Trump told reporters at the White House, “I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform. That will be next.”

While the GOP decision to pull the health care proposal could be an ominous sign for tax cuts and the rest of Trump’s legislative agenda, Trump was more optimistic, saying, “now we’re going to go for tax reform, which I’ve always liked.”

Earlier in the day, Mnuchin, the president’s chief economic spokesman, suggested that tax reform might be easier to sell in Congress.

“Health care is a very complicated issue,” Mnuchin said. “In a way, tax reform is a lot simpler.”

During a morning interview, Mnuchin said he had been overseeing work on the administration’s bill over the past two months and it would be introduced soon. He said it would be one proposal that would cover both cutting individual and corporate taxes in the same legislation.

“We are not cutting this up and doing little pieces at a time,” Mnuchin said.

He said the goal was still to win congressional approval of the tax measure by August. But if the timeline is delayed, he said he expected the proposal to pass by the fall.

At the White House, press secretary Sean Spicer acknowledged the August deadline is an “ambitious one” for such a comprehensive and complicated project, but he said it’s a goal the administration “is going to try to stick to.”

“Tax reform is something the president is very committed to,” Spicer told reporters. Mnuchin had lunch at the White House Friday with Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

In his earlier appearance, Mnuchin did not reveal whether the administration will include a contentious border adjustment tax that is in a House tax proposal. The measure, which would impose a 20 percent tax on imports, has positive and negative features, Mnuchin said. He also would not reveal exactly what corporate tax rate the administration would propose, other than it will be “a lot lower” than the current 35 percent rate.

In a wide-ranging public interview event with the news site Axios, Mnuchin also said Trump’s proposal to boost infrastructure spending would probably include $100 billion to $200 billion in federal money and depend on public-private partnerships to boost the total to $1 trillion over the next decade.

Mnuchin was asked whether the administration’s tax plan would lower rates at all levels but not include an absolute tax cut for high income individuals because the lower rates for the wealthy would be offset by increases in other areas such as reduced deductions. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, dubbed this goal the “Mnuchin rule” during his confirmation hearing.

Mnuchin did not commit specifically on the goal but said, “The president’s objective is a middle income tax cut. … Our primary focus in a tax cut for the middle income (earners) and not the top.”

While Wall Street has staged a huge rally since Trump’s surprising election victory, Mnuchin said he believed the market could move still higher as the administration succeeds in implementing its economic program to cut taxes and eliminate burdensome regulations.

He predicted Trump’s plan would achieve economic growth of 3 percent to 3.5 percent, up significantly from anemic growth around 2 percent seen in the current recovery, the weakest in the post-World War II period. He said “this is definitely not all baked in” to market expectations.

The Treasury secretary, who participated in his first meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers last weekend in Baden-Baden, Germany, called the meeting a success. He said while news coverage focused on the administration’s successful push to drop a pledge to oppose trade protectionism, that took only a small portion of the discussion time.

“On trade, the point I made was that the president wants to have free trade … but he wants to renegotiate deals” that are not favorable for American workers, Mnuchin said.

In addition to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, Mnuchin said the administration was also planning to focus on stronger enforcement of other trade agreements.

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MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

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AP reporter Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

Anheuser-Busch Wins Lime-A-Rita Debate

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Anheuser-Busch Wins Lime-A-Rita Debate
Anheuser-Busch Wins Lime-A-Rita Debate

Court Rules Anheuser-Busch Bud Light Lime-A-Rita Light’ Enough

ST. LOUIS, MO/March 24, 2017 (STL.News) The fight over whether Anheuser-Busch’s Lime-A-Rita has fewer calories than a regular beer by the Bud Light label on the Lime-A-Rita packaging is over.  A California circuit court recently avowed the dismissal of the lawsuit that alleged Bud Light’s Lime-A-Rita was not “light” enough.

The proposed class action lawsuit was filed in November 2014 in a California state court.  It alleged that Anheuser-Busch’s labeling of the popular drink deceived consumers into thinking the beverage was comparable to Bud Light Lime when it essentially contains almost three times as many calories.

The suit was removed to federal court in December 2014 and dismissed in June 2015 for failure to state a claim, and the plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit in July 2015.

According to Law 360, a Ninth Circuit Court three-judge panel ruled 2-1 to affirm the earlier ruling that dismissed the case.  The court ruled that the designation as a “light” beverage is not deceptive because Lime-A-Rita does contain fewer calories than a traditional margarita.

Anheuser-Busch introduced Lime-A-Ritas in 2012, along with the Raz-Ber-Rita, Straw-Ber-Rita, Mang-O-Rita and Apple-Ahhh-Rita.  The company sold $462 million worth of product nationally that year, and those varieties were later joined by several other flavors.

Harrison Ford says he was distracted when he flew over plane

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Harrison Ford
FILE - In this July 28, 2016, file photo, Harrison Ford opens the door on his plane for Jodie Gawthorp, of Westchester, Ill., who was selected to fly with Ford, at the Experimental Aircraft Associations AirVenture air show at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis. Ford told an air traffic controller he was distracted and concerned about turbulence from another aircraft when he mistakenly landed his small plane on a taxiway at a Southern California airport in Feb. 2017. (Joe Sienkiewicz/The Oshkosh Northwestern via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES/March 24, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — Actor Harrison Ford said he was distracted and concerned about turbulence from another aircraft last month when he mistakenly landed on a taxiway at a Southern California airport after flying low over an airliner with 116 people aboard, according to an audio recording released Friday.

“I’m the schmuck who landed on the taxiway,” Ford told an air traffic controller shortly after the near-miss on Feb. 13 at John Wayne Airport in Orange County. Recordings of Ford’s conversations with air traffic controllers were released Friday by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The 74-year-old actor was told to land his single-engine plane on Runway 20L, but he instead landed on a parallel taxiway. An American Airlines flight was on the same taxiway, waiting to take off.

A video released last month showed Ford’s Aviat Husky plane from behind as it descends toward the airfield where the American Airlines Boeing 737 is slowly taxiing.

“Was that airliner meant to be underneath me?” Ford asked the air traffic control tower as he landed in the wrong spot.

“Oh. I landed on Taxiway Charlie. I understand now. Sorry for that,” Ford said.

In a phone call with an air traffic controller after the incident, Ford said he “got distracted by the airliner” and also mentioned “big turbulence” from another plane that was landing.

The American Airlines flight, with 110 passengers and six crew members, departed safely for Dallas a few minutes later.

When an air traffic controller told the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” star to take his time getting the number from his pilot’s license, remarking it isn’t a big deal, Ford responded: “It’s a big deal for me.”

After Ford told the employee his name, the man seemed taken aback and assured Ford he won’t share his phone number with anyone.

Landing on a taxiway, instead of a runway, is a violation of Federal Aviation Administration regulations. The agency’s probe of the incident is still underway, spokesman Ian Gregor said Friday.

Ford’s publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

Ford, who collects vintage planes, has a long record as an aviator. He has had several close calls and a serious accident in March 2015 when he was injured in his World War II-era trainer. It crashed on a Los Angeles golf course after engine failure.

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MICHAEL BALSAMO, Associated Press

No repeal for ‘Obamacare’ _ a humiliating defeat for Trump

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Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Eric Swalwell
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., react at a joke from Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., center, as he jokes while speaking at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 24, 2017. Republican leaders have abruptly pulled their troubled health care overhaul bill off the House floor, short of votes and eager to avoid a humiliating defeat for President Donald Trump and GOP leaders.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON/March 24, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — In a humiliating failure, President Donald Trump and GOP leaders yanked their bill to repeal “Obamacare” off the House floor Friday when it became clear it would fail badly — after seven years of nonstop railing against the health care law.

Democrats said Americans can “breathe a sigh of relief.” Trump said Obama’s law was imploding “and soon will explode.”

Thwarted by two factions of fellow Republicans, from the center and far right, House Speaker Paul Ryan said President Barack Obama’s health care law, the GOP’s No. 1 target in the new Trump administration, will remain in place “for the foreseeable future.”

It was a stunning defeat for the new president after he had demanded House Republicans delay no longer and vote on the legislation Friday, pass or fail.

His gamble failed. Instead Trump, who campaigned as a master deal-maker and claimed that he alone could fix the nation’s health care system, saw his ultimatum rejected by Republican lawmakers who made clear they answer to their own voters, not to the president.

He had “never said repeal and replace it in 64 days,” a dejected but still combative Trump said at the White House, though he had repeatedly shouted during the presidential campaign that it was going down “immediately.”

The bill was withdrawn just minutes before the House vote was to occur, and lawmaker said there were no plans to revisit the issue. Republicans will try to move ahead on other agenda items, including overhauling the tax code, though the failure on the health bill can only make whatever comes next immeasurably harder.

Trump pinned the blame on Democrats.

“With no Democrat support we couldn’t quite get there,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “We learned about loyalty, we learned a lot about the vote-getting process.”

The Obama law was approved in 2010 with no Republican votes.

Despite reports of backbiting from administration officials toward Ryan, Trump said: “I like Speaker Ryan. … I think Paul really worked hard.”

For his part, Ryan told reporters: “We came really close today but we came up short. … This is a disappointing day for us.” He said the president has “really been fantastic.”

But when asked how Republicans could face voters after their failure to make good on years of promises, Ryan quietly said: “It’s a really good question. I wish I had a better answer for you.”

Last fall, Republicans used the issue to gain and keep control of the White House, Senate and House. During the previous years, they had cast dozens of votes to repeal Obama’s law in full or in part, but when they finally got the chance to pass a repeal version that actually had a chance to become law, they couldn’t deliver.

Democrats could hardly contain their satisfaction.

“Today is a great day for our country, what happened on the floor is a victory for the American people,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who as speaker herself helped Obama pass the Affordable Care Act in the first place. “Let’s just for a moment breathe a sigh of relief for the American people.”

The outcome leaves both Ryan and Trump weakened politically.

For the president, this piles a big early congressional defeat onto the continuing inquiries into his presidential campaign’s Russia connections and his unfounded wiretapping allegations against Obama.

Ryan was not able to corral the House Freedom Caucus, the restive band of conservatives that ousted the previous speaker. Those Republicans wanted the bill to go much further, while some GOP moderates felt it went too far.

Instead of picking up support as Friday wore on, the bill went the other direction, with several key lawmakers coming out in opposition. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, chairman of a major committee, Appropriations, said the bill would raise costs unacceptably on his constituents.

The defections raised the possibility that the bill would not only lose on the floor, but lose big.

The GOP bill would have eliminated the Obama statute’s unpopular fines on people who do not obtain coverage and would also have removed the often-generous subsidies for those who purchase insurance.

Republican tax credits would have been based on age, not income like Obama’s, and the tax boosts Obama imposed on higher-earning people and health care companies would have been repealed. The bill would have ended Obama’s Medicaid expansion and trimmed future federal financing for the federal-state program, letting states impose work requirements on some of the 70 million beneficiaries.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the Republican bill would have resulted in 24 million additional uninsured people in a decade and lead to higher out-of-pocket medical costs for many lower-income and people just shy of age 65 when they would become eligible for Medicare. The bill would have blocked federal payments for a year to Planned Parenthood.

Republicans had never built a constituency for the legislation, and in the end the nearly uniform opposition from hospitals, doctors, nurses, the AARP, consumer groups and others weighed heavily with many members. On the other side, conservative groups including the Koch outfit argued the legislation did not go far enough in uprooting Obamacare.

Ryan made his announcement to lawmakers at a very brief meeting, where he was greeted by a standing ovation in recognition of the support he still enjoys from many lawmakers.

When the gathering broke up, Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee that helped write the bill, told reporters: “”We gave it our best shot. That’s it. It’s done. D-O-N-E done. This bill is dead.”

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ERICA WERNER, Associated Press
ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

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Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Kevin Freking, Mary Clare Jalonick, Richard Lardner, Stephen Ohlemacher, Vivian Salama, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

New home for police officer Michael Flamion by Gary Sinise Foundation

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New home for police officer Michael Flamion by Gary Sinise Foundation
New home for police officer Michael Flamion by Gary Sinise Foundation

BALLWIN, MO/March 24, 2017 (STL.News) On July 8, 2016 a tragic event occurred that changed a person and his family’s life forever.

Ballwin Police Officer, Michael Flamion, was shot from behind after pulling over a car.  Antonio Taylor was the suspect that Flamion pulled over.  While Flamion was returning to his police car, Taylor came up behind Flamion firing upon him.  Flamion pulled Taylor over for a simple traffic violation.  While Flamion survived the shooting, the damage is critical and will require special care in the future.

Many of the local restaurants offered Dine Out dates contributing a percentages of sales to the Flamion family with Candicci’s Restaurant and Bar giving as much as 20% of sales.

Additionally, the Ballwin community pulled together and raised an impressive amount of money, $371,193 using a GoFundMe page with a goal of $375,000.

On October 24, 2016 the GoFundMe page was closed and future donations were requested to be made to the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Gary Sinise is a well-known and respected actor, director and musician winning an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award as well as other awards and special recognition’s.  His most popular role was the 1993 movie, Forrest Gump playing the role of Lt. Dan.

Sinise was awarded the Presidential Citizen Medal by George W. Bush for the work he did supporting the U.S. military and humanitarian works supporting Iraqi children.

Sinise list of awards and accomplishments are beyond the scope of this article.  However, needless-to-say, Sinise is accomplished and enjoys leveraging his success to help those less fortunate.  An honorable act!

However, most impressively, the Gary Sinise Foundation is responsible for building a new smart home for Ballwin Police Officer, Michael Flamion.  It is located at the intersection of Holloway Road and Park Drive in Ballwin, Missouri.

Sinise is an avid supporter of various veteran organizations, personally and through his band, The Lt. Dan Band.  He frequently performs on USO tours.

The sign was recently placed.  We will reach out to others for more information about the home, its features and anticipated completion date.

According to the GoFundMe page originally established for Flamion future contributions can be made to the Gary Sinise Foundation or merchandise can be purchased to help their charitable ambitions.

American Red Cross Issues Urgent Need For Blood Donations

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American Red Cross Issues Urgent Need For Blood Donations
American Red Cross Issues Urgent Need For Blood Donations

ST. LOUIS, MO/March 24, 2017 (STL.News) The American Red Cross is in desperate need of blood donations.

This is a result of severe weather in some parts of the country forced the cancellation of thousands of donations this month.  This led to a shortage with more than 8,500 uncollected blood and platelet donations.  Platelets, type O negative blood and type AB plasma are three of the most in-demand blood products by hospitals.

“All blood types are needed to meet the constant need of patients, and there is a significant need now for platelet and type O negative and AB donations to help some of the most vulnerable patients,” said Joe Zydlo, External Communications Manager, Missouri-Illinois Blood Services.

“We ask that you schedule an appointment to roll up a sleeve to help save a life in the coming days.” added Zydio.

Red Cross officials point out how critical blood donations are to patients such as Brady Prosser.  He’s a 7th grader who was severely burned in October while mowing leaves.  The Red Cross reports that Brady received regular, sometimes daily blood and plasma transfusions during his hospitalization.

The American Red Cross especially encourages individuals with type O negative blood to donate.  Type O negative blood can be transfused to patients with any blood type.  It’s often needed in emergency situations when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type.  While less than 7 percent of the U.S. population has type O negative blood, hospitals depend on frequent O negative donations to ensure it’s always available for patients in need, especially in trauma situations.

More information about donating blood is available online at www.redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

The American Red Cross will host the following upcoming blood drives in the St. Louis area:

Monday, March 27, 2017

St Louis Blood Donation Center, 4050 Lindell Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63108.  Hours are 11:30 AM – 6:00 PM.

St Louis County Library Indian Trails Branch, 8400 Delport Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63114.  Hours are 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 4967 Forest Park Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63108.  Hours are 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

St Louis Blood Donation Center, 4050 Lindell Blvd, Saint Louis, MO 63108.  Hours are 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

University City Public Library, 6701 Delmar Blvd, University City, MO 63130.  Hours are 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM.

Stocks wobble, finish mixed as GOP pulls plug on health bill

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Financial Markets
In this Jan. 12, 2017, photo, traders work on the Mizuho Americas trading floor in New York. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, on Friday, March 24, 2017, led by gains in technology companies and banks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK/March 24, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — U.S. stocks flirted with sharp losses but managed a mixed finish after Republicans canceled a vote on their health care bill because it became clear the bill would fail. Hospital stocks soared in response, while companies that stand to benefit from other Trump proposals faltered.

For the second day in a row, stocks started higher and wilted as it became clear the health care bill was in trouble. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged as much as 126 points in afternoon trading on reports of the bill’s impending failure, although Wall Street cut its losses after the vote was canceled. Consumer-focused companies like Nike, Starbucks and clothing company PVH rose.

The health care act became something of a proxy for the rest of the Trump agenda and it dominated the market for most of this week. It was the worst week for stocks since the week before the presidential election. Banks and small-company stocks, which made huge gains after Trump was elected, both suffered their biggest losses in more than a year.

President Trump and other Republican leaders said they were moving on from health care, and Michael Scanlon, a portfolio manager for Manulife Asset Management, said investors will be glad if that happens.

“You’re going to see a very quick pivot to corporate tax reform,” he said. A corporate tax cut could give stocks a large boost by increasing profits, and it might also raise tax revenue. After the close of trading, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans will proceed with tax reform proposals, but acknowledged the health care debacle will make that task more difficult.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index finished down 1.98 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,343.98. The Dow lost 59.86 points, or 0.3 percent, to 20,596.72 as Goldman Sachs and Boeing sank. Technology companies inched higher and the Nasdaq composite rose 11.04 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,828.74. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 1.22 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,354.64.

Trading was relatively light as investors waited for answers about the state of President Donald Trump’s business-friendly agenda. That may have contributed to the big fluctuations.

Hospitals and insurers that do a lot of business with Medicaid celebrated the demise of the bill. HCA Holdings, the largest U.S. hospital company, climbed $2.87, or 3.5 percent, to $86.04 and Community Health Systems jumped 84 cents, or 9.7 percent, to $9.54. Among Medicaid-focused companies, Centene and Molina Healthcare each gained about 5 percent.

The American Health Care Act would likely have left more Americans uninsured and would make big changes to Medicaid, a joint federal-state health program for low-income Americans. Those stocks fell when the bill was introduced because investors were concerned hospitals would have to take in more patients who lack insurance and that insurers would get less money from Medicaid.

Insurance companies slumped. Cigna fell $3.36, or 2.3 percent, to $142.82 and Anthem shed $2.63, or 1.6 percent, to $126.77.

With Trump and majority Republicans unable to pass the first big item on their agenda, there were some signs of concern that his proposals of tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and regulatory cuts will take longer. Those are aspects of Trump’s proposed agenda Wall Street is excited about.

Vulcan Materials, a construction materials maker, sank $2.65, or 2.3 percent, to $112.74. Steel maker Nucor declined $1.50, or 2.4 percent, to $59.76. Construction and machinery companies also stumbled. Engine maker Cummins shed $1.45, or 1 percent, to $150.77 and Boeing sank $1.44 to $175.82.

Scanlon, of Manulife, said investors want Trump and Congress to come up with a real proposal that changes corporate taxes.

“Something needs to be done with a permanent solution, not just one of these holiday things,” he said, because “the goal is to be a stimulus for domestic investment.”

Bond prices rose slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.41 percent from 2.42 percent.

U.S. crude oil futures rose 27 cents to $47.97 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 24 cents to $50.80 a barrel in London.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline gained 2 cents to $1.60 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.50 a gallon. Natural gas added 3 cents to $3.08 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The dollar inched down to 110.80 yen from 111.07 yen. The euro edged up to $1.0808 from $1.0786.

Gold rose $1.30 to $1,248.50 an ounce. Silver jumped 16 cents to $17.75 an ounce. Copper lost 1 cent to $2.63 a pound.

In Germany, the DAX added 0.2 percent and the French CAC 40 dropped 0.2 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 index dipped 0.1 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.9 percent following recent losses. The Kospi of South Korea shed 0.2 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng reversed earlier losses to finish 0.1 percent higher.

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MARLEY JAY, AP Markets Writer

The Latest: Trump marks Greek Independence Day

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Neil Gorsuch, Sean Spicer
White House press secretary Sean Spicer gestures as he speaks to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON/March 24, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump has marked Greek Independence Day with a rather ominous message.

At a White House reception, Trump said that in the years to come “we don’t know what will be required to defend our freedom.”

But he says it will take “great courage, and we will show it.”

Greek Independence Day commemorates the start of the 1821 war that led to Greece’s independence after nearly 400 years as part of the Ottoman Empire. It’s celebrated annually on March 25.

Trump told the crowd, “I love the Greeks.” He also introduced Greek-American members of the White House staff, including chief of staff Reince Priebus (ryns PREE’-bus).

Trump said Priebus is “really terrific and hard-working,” along with being “one of the top Greeks in the country.”

___

1:55 p.m.

The White House is no longer expressing confidence that the upcoming House vote on health care will be successful.

Instead, spokesman Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump is confident that the White House has done “every single thing possible” to corral the 216 votes needed to pass legislation to repeal the Obama-era health care law.

House lawmakers and aides say the bill is short of support before the vote Trump insists be held.

The White House says it expects that vote at 3:30 p.m., as scheduled.

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11:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is praising a plan by cable company Charter Communications to invest $25 billion and hire 20,000 American workers over the next four years.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Charter Communications CEO Thomas Rutledge joined Trump at the White House for the announcement. Rutledge says that the company will return the call center jobs acquired through Time Warner Cable to the United States, opening a new call center in McAllen, Texas, and hiring 600 workers there.

Trump says the plans will be great for American workers. The president is telling Rutledge, “you watch, it will be one of your really fantastic decisions.”

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11 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is postponing a planned trip to Arkansas and Tennessee as the House considers a Republican-backed plan to overhaul the health care system.

Pence’s office has confirmed that his trip to Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, has been put off. The vice president had been scheduled to discuss the health care plan at a small business gathering in Little Rock and also travel to Memphis.

Pence has been lobbying House Republicans to support the plan to repeal and replace the health care law. The legislation is expected to go to the House floor for a vote later Friday.

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10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says “it’s a great day for American jobs” after his administration issued a permit to build the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline.

The decision marks a reversal from the Obama administration and clears the way for the $8 billion project to be completed.

The president says the decision ushers in a “new era” of American energy policy and will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

The decision caps a years-long fight between environmental groups and energy industry advocates over the pipeline’s fate.

It’s one of several steps the administration is expected to take in the coming weeks to prioritize economic development over environmental concerns.

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10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says, “we’ll see what happens,” in response to a question about what happens if the vote on the Republican-backed health care bill fails in the House.

Trump is offering his support for House Speaker Paul Ryan at a White House event announcing the presidential permit about the Keystone XL pipeline. Asked if Ryan should remain as speaker if the bill fails, Trump says, “Yes.”

The administration is trying to steer a GOP-backed health care bill through the House. The White House and Republican leaders say the vote will be tight and it’s unclear if the legislation will pass.

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10:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump will hold his first meeting with Egypt’s president next month.

A White House official said Friday that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (see-see) will visit the White House on April 3.

The official spoke anonymously because the visit has not been formally announced.

The two leaders spoke by telephone before Trump’s inauguration.

Trump has repeatedly mentioned Egypt as one of the Muslim-majority allies that the U.S. should maintain its partnership with in the fight against radical groups like the Islamic State group.

Egypt is a major recipient of U.S. foreign and military aid, however foreign aid is currently under review under Trump proposed budget plan.

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8:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump is telling lawmakers who oppose abortion that a vote against the health care bill would favor Planned Parenthood.

The president tweeted Friday, “the irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!”

In a bid to coax support from conservatives, House leaders proposed a fresh amendment repealing Obama’s requirement that insurers cover 10 specified services like maternity and mental health care.

Lawmakers will vote later Friday.

Conservatives have demanded the removal of those and other conditions the law imposes on insurers, arguing they drive up premiums.

The president met with members of the Freedom Caucus Thursday in an effort to win them over. But the vote was postponed after administration officials fell short.

Hiring rises in 11 US states last month, gains widely spread

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State Unemployment
FILE - This Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, file photo, shows the Illinois Department of Employment Security office in Springfield, Ill. On Friday, March 24, 2017, the Labor Department reports on state unemployment rates for February. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

WASHINGTON/March 24, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — Hiring picked up in 11 states last month compared with January and was mostly unchanged in the other 39, as stronger U.S. job gains benefited most of the country. Still, pockets of weakness remained.

Job gains in February were most robust in states outside the coastal regions that have fared the best since the Great Recession, the Labor Department report showed. The biggest gains, as a proportion of total jobs, were in Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas, and New Mexico.

Unemployment rates fell sharply in 10 states and rose significantly in Massachusetts, with little change in the other 39.

Hiring trends are more apparent when compared with a year ago. In the past 12 months, job gains were strongest, in percentage terms, in Idaho, Utah and Nevada, all states in the Mountain region.

Idaho has added 24,500 compared with a year earlier. Hiring has been strongest in construction, financial services, and in education and health care. Gains in Utah and Nevada have been similarly widespread.

Other states that have struggled in past have also done well in past year. Michigan has seen its payrolls increase 1.9 percent since February 2016. The gains have mostly been outside manufacturing, with hiring up in construction, professional services such as accounting, and restaurants and hotels.

Similar patterns are evident in other formerly “Rust Belt” states. Ohio and Pennsylvania have seen solid job gains in the past year. But the increases have mostly been outside manufacturing. Pennsylvania has shed 4,500 factory jobs.

Five states have lost jobs in the past year: West Virginia, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming. All those states have either oil and gas or coal mining industries, or both, which have taken sharp hits from falling energy prices.

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CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer

Bye, Michigan _ time for new lovable underdogs Xavier, SC

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Michigan
Xavier guard Quentin Goodin (3) celebrates after his team beat Arizona during an NCAA Tournament college basketball regional semifinal game Thursday, March 23, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)(STL.News) — Thanks, Michigan. It was fun while it lasted.

So who’s going to be the lovable underdog in the NCAA Tournament now?

Take your pick: Xavier or South Carolina.

The Musketeers are a No. 11 seed after losing their starting point guard to a knee injury in late January and finishing seventh in the Big East. They stomped No. 3 Florida State by 25 points to make the Sweet 16 and are in a regional final for the third time since 2004 after a stunning 73-71 win over No. 2 Arizona on Thursday night.

The Gamecocks might merit a little more love than Xavier, even though they’re seeded four rungs higher as a No. 7. Unlike Xavier, which has been there, done that when it comes to the Sweet 16, the Gamecocks are in new territory.

They not only won their first game in the NCAAs since 1973 when they beat Marquette last week, they knocked out love-’em-or-hate-’em Duke in the round of 32 for their first win over the Blue Devils since 1970. They take aim at Baylor on Friday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Michigan, that all-sports powerhouse from the Big Ten, doesn’t usually endear itself to anybody but its own fans. In some corners (Ohio, for example) the Wolverines are the team everyone loves to hate, no matter the sport.

For the last two weeks, though, college basketball fans kind of fell for the Wolverines — if not the team, then its story.

The script: Plane skids off runway as the bubble-team Wolverines try to fly to the Big Ten Tournament in Washington. Team hitches ride on Detroit Pistons’ plane, arriving a couple hours before game time. Wearing practice uniforms because game unis are still on the other plane, Wolverines beat Illinois to begin four wins-in-four days run that ends with conference tournament championship. Dispatches Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAAs and No. 2 Louisville in the round of 32 .

The fun ended when team leader Derrick Walton Jr.’s long jump shot bounced off the rim just before the buzzer in a 69-68 loss to Oregon in the Midwest Regional on Thursday night.

“We felt confident. We’ve been able to stick them out recently,” senior Duncan Robinson said. “The ball didn’t really bounce our way down the stretch. That’s part of the game. Sometimes you’ve got to will your way to victory, and clearly we didn’t do that tonight.”

Michigan was sloppy in the first half, committing an uncharacteristic seven turnovers after giving the ball away a combined 10 times in its first two tournament games. The Wolverines cleaned things up in the second half, coughing up the ball just once, and were still in position to win at the end.

“It’s the tightest bunch I’ve been around in all my years of playing basketball. Just a very selfless group,” Walton said. “I had the joy of being a part of it and being one of the leaders. I wish we could have more games to play together because I think a couple minutes throughout the game we didn’t show the type of team we were becoming.”

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman said fatigue was not a factor even though the Wolverines played seven games in 15 days.

“You’re pretty much in tournament mode,” he said. “We had a lot of motivation going into the games. Everybody’s tired at this point. Everybody’s even. You just try to ride that emotion and that motivation.”

If nothing else, the Wolverines made lifelong memories.

“That,” senior Duncan Robinson said, “is what college athletics and sports in general are all about.”

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More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Katy Perry, Maroon 5 to perform at Wango Tango radio concert

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Wango Tango
FILE - In this March 5, 2017 file photo, Katy Perry performs "Chained to the Rhythm" during the iHeartRadio Music Awards at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Perry, Maroon 5 and One Direction’s Niall Horan are set to perform at the annual Wango Tango concert near Los Angeles in May. Ryan Seacrest and iHeartMedia’s KIIS FM made the announcement Friday, March 24. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK (AP)(STL.News) — Katy Perry, Maroon 5 and One Direction’s Niall Horan are set to perform at the annual Wango Tango concert near Los Angeles in May.

Ryan Seacrest and iHeartMedia’s KIIS FM announced Friday that rapper Machine Gun Kelly, former Fifth Harmony singer Camilla Cabello and Academy Award nominee and singer Hailee Steinfeld will also hit the stage at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, on May 13.

Tickets for KIIS members go on sale March 31; tickets for the general public go on sale April 1.

Other performers include Halsey, Alessia Cara, Miley Cyrus’ young sister, Noah Cyrus, and Julia Michaels, the singer who has also co-written hit songs like Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Selena Gomez’s “Good for You” and Nick Jonas’ “Close.”

_____

Online:

http://www.kiisfm.com

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

WikiLeaks: CIA hacked Apple devices in ways users can’t fix

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CIA
FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, file photo, a customer sets up his new iPhone 7 Plus, right, as he switches from the iPhone 6 at the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue during the release of the Apple iPhone 7 and the latest Apple Watches, in Chicago. New documents from WikiLeaks, posted Thursday, March 23, 2017, point to an apparent CIA program to hack Apple’s iPhones and Mac computers such that the exploits persist even after the devices are reset to factory conditions. Security experts say the exploits are plausible, but they are playing down the threat to typical users. The techniques typically require physical access to devices, something the CIA would only use for individuals it is targeting. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

NEW YORK (AP)(STL.News) — New documents from WikiLeaks point to an apparent CIA program to hack Apple’s iPhones and Mac computers using techniques that users couldn’t disable by resetting their devices.

Security experts say the exploits are plausible, but suggest they pose little threat to typical users. They say that many of the tricks are older — the iPhone hack involves the 3G model from 2008, for instance. The techniques also typically require physical access to devices, something the CIA would use only for targeted individuals, not a broader population.

“The most notable part of this latest WikiLeaks release is that it shows the CIA doing exactly what we pay them to — exploit specific targets with limited attacks to support our national interests,” said Rich Mogull, CEO of the security research firm Securosis.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment. The CIA has not commented on the authenticity of this and earlier WikiLeaks revelations, but has previously said it complies with a legal prohibition against electronic surveillance “targeting individuals here at home, including our fellow Americans.” The agency declined further comment Thursday.

DOCUMENT DUMP

The leaks Thursday come about two weeks after WikiLeaks published thousands of alleged CIA documents describing hacking tools it said the government employed to break into computers, mobile phones and even smart TVs from companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung.

The latest disclosures are much more focused and consist of just 12 documents, all involving Apple products. The documents describe techniques for rewriting devices’ firmware in ways that would maintain a hacker’s access even if a user resets a phone or computer to factory settings. Doing so wipes out all apps and the operating system and installs a clean version; it is an extreme measure sometimes used to deal with technical problems, but is also the sort of step that someone suspicious of surveillance might take when getting a brand new phone.

A December 2008 document describes “NightSkies,” a tool apparently designed to target the iPhone 3G; the document claims it can retrieve files such as contact lists and call logs and execute other commands. WikiLeaks suggested in a press release that the “CIA has been infecting the iPhone supply chain of its targets since at least 2008.”

However, the document describes only how to install the malware on a “factory fresh” version of the 3G — specifically, the iPhone 3G running the 2.1 version of Apple’s operating system, both of which are now nine years old.

CAVEATS GALORE

But infecting all phones somewhere in the manufacturing process would be extremely difficult, said Mogull, especially given multiple layers of inspections conducted by Apple and its contractors. At most, he said, the CIA might have shipped a rogue phone individually to a target.

And while it’s possible that the CIA developed similar techniques for later iPhone models, Mogull said iPhones from the past few years have much greater security, including digital security certificates that cannot be overwritten. A flag would be raised during the setup process if certificates do not match.

Johannes Ullrich, director of the Internet Storm Center at the SANS Institute, said NightSkies might not even be a current project given that the document was last updated in 2008, while the leaks appear to have come in 2016.

Other documents released describe similar exploits for Mac computers. One hides in the firmware of Apple’s Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter and requires someone to plug in that adapter to install the malware. Another targets a specific Mac model, the MacBook Air with the Leopard version of the Mac OS system — current at the time, but now seven generations old.

Ullrich said the Mac exploits all appear old. He added that some of the Thunderbolt issues have been fixed to make the hack more difficult to pull off.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

SCIENCE SAYS: Unavoidable typos in DNA help fuel cancer

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Cancer
This undated fluorescence-colored microscope image made available by the National Institutes of Health in September 2016 shows a culture of human breast cancer cells. Environmental risks and heredity get the most blame for cancer, but new research released on Thursday, March 23, 2017 suggests random chance may play a bigger role than people realize: Healthy cells naturally make mistakes when they multiply, typos in your DNA that can leave new cells carrying cancer-prone genetic mutations. (Ewa Krawczyk/National Cancer Institute via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP)(STL.News) — Cancer patients often wonder “why me?” Does their tumor run in the family? Did they try hard enough to avoid risks like smoking, too much sun or a bad diet?

Lifestyle and heredity get the most blame but new research suggests random chance plays a bigger role than people realize: Healthy cells naturally make mistakes when they multiply, unavoidable typos in DNA that can leave new cells carrying cancer-prone genetic mutations.

How big? About two-thirds of the mutations that occur in various forms of cancer are due to those random copying errors, researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported Thursday in the journal Science.

Whoa: That doesn’t mean most cases of cancer are due solely to “bad luck.” It takes multiple mutations to turn cells into tumors — and a lot of cancer is preventable, the Hopkins team stressed, if people take proven protective steps.

Thursday’s report is an estimate, based on a math model, that is sure to be hotly debated by scientists who say those unavoidable mistakes of nature play a much smaller role.

But whatever the ultimate number, the research offers a peek at how cancer may begin.

And it should help with the “why me” question from people who have “done everything we know can be done to prevent cancer but they still get it,” said Hopkins’ Dr. Bert Vogelstein, a pioneer in cancer genetics who co-authored the study. “They need to understand that these cancers would have occurred no matter what they did.”

GENE MUTATIONS CAUSE CANCER BUT WHAT CAUSES THE MUTATIONS?

You might inherit some mutations, like flaws in BRCA genes that are infamous for causing aggressive breast and ovarian cancers in certain families.

More commonly, damage is caused by what scientists call environmental factors — the assault on DNA from the world around us and how we live our lives. There’s a long list of risks: Cigarette smoke, UV light from the sun, other forms of radiation, certain hormones or viruses, an unhealthy diet, obesity and lack of exercise.

Then there are those random copy errors in cells — what Vogelstein calls our baseline rate of genetic mutations that will occur no matter how healthy we live.

One way to think of it: If we all have some mutations lurking in our cells anyway, that’s yet another reason to avoid known risks that could push us over the edge.

HOW CELLS MAKE TYPOS

New cells are formed when an existing cell divides and copies its DNA, one cell turning into two. Every time DNA is copied, about three random mutations occur, Vogelstein said.

We all harbor these kinds of mutations and most don’t hurt us because they’re in genes that have nothing to do with cancer or the body’s defense mechanisms spot and fix the damage, said Dr. Otis Brawley of the American Cancer Society, who wasn’t involved in the new research.

But sometimes the errors hit the wrong spot and damage genes that can spur cancerous growth or genes that help the cell spot and fix problems. Then the damaged cells can survive to copy themselves, allowing important mutations to gradually build up over time. That’s one reason the risk of cancer increases with age.

THE STUDY FINDINGS

Thursday’s study follows 2015 research by Vogelstein and statistician Cristian Tomasetti that introduced the idea that a lot of cancer may be due to “bad luck,” because those random DNA copying mistakes are more common in some kinds of cancer than others. Cancer prevention advocates worried the idea might sway people to give up on healthier lifestyles.

This time around, the duo analyzed mutations involved in 32 types of cancer to estimate that 66 percent of the gene flaws are due to random copy errors. Environmental and lifestyle factors account for another 29 percent, while inherited genes made up just 5 percent of the mutations.

DIFFERENT ORGANS, DIFFERENT RISKS

The same person can harbor a mix of mutations sparked by random DNA mistakes, heredity or environmental factors. And which is the most common factor differs by cancer, the Hopkins team said.

For example, they estimate that random cell errors account for 77 percent of critical mutations in pancreatic cancer — while still finding some caused by lifestyle risks like smoking. And the random DNA mistakes caused nearly all the mutations leading to childhood cancers, which is not surprising because youngsters have had little time to be exposed to environmental risks.

In contrast, most lung cancer mutations were the result of lifestyle factors, mainly from smoking. And while lung tissue doesn’t multiply frequently, the small number of mutations caused by chance DNA errors might explain rare cases of never-smokers who still get sick.

“This paper is a good paper,” said the cancer society’s Brawley. “It gives prevention its due respect.”

OTHER SCIENTISTS SEE MORE TO THE STORY

Estimates from Britain suggest 42 percent of cancers are potentially preventable with a healthy lifestyle, and the Hopkins team says their mutation research backs that idea.

But Dr. Yusuf Hannun, Stony Brook University’s cancer center director, contends that’s just the number known to be preventable today — researchers may discover additional environmental risks we can guard against in the future.

He said the Hopkins paper exaggerates the effect of the unavoidable DNA mistakes. His own 2015 research concluded they account for 10 to 30 percent of cancer cases.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Winners and losers in House Republican health plan

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Health
Graphic shows estimated tax changes under Republican health bill; 2c x 3 inches; 96.3 mm x 76 mm;

WASHINGTON (AP)(STL.News) — The rich and the almost rich would make out well under the House Republican bill to dismantle Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The old and the poor, not so much.

The measure would repeal major parts of Obama’s health law, capping future funding for Medicaid and cutting tax increases for high-income families, health insurance companies and drugmakers.

The bill would repeal tax credits that people can use to purchase health insurance and replace them with a new tax credit that is less generous for most.

The winners, losers and a few in between:

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WINNERS

—The rich. The GOP health plan includes nearly $1 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade, and much of that would go to the very wealthy. Families making more than $1 million a year will get tax cuts averaging more than $51,000, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

—The well-off (but not quite rich). Families making more than $200,000 a year will get tax cuts averaging $5,680.

Also, people with higher incomes would be eligible for tax credits under the GOP plan. These tax credits are used to help pay insurance premiums.

—Medical device makers. The bill repeals a tax on medical devices, saving the industry $20 billion over the next decade.

—Drugmakers. The bill would repeal a tax on prescription drugs, saving the industry $29 billion over the next decade.

—Young adults. The bill would allow insurers to charge higher premiums as people age and become more susceptible to health problems. Because of this provision, the nonpartisan Congressional Office estimates that younger patients would see their premiums drop.

—Healthy people who choose not to have health insurance. The bill would repeal penalties for not having health insurance.

—Large companies that don’t provide health benefits for employees. The bill would repeal penalties on these employers.

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LOSERS

—Some 24 million additional people who won’t have health insurance. Under the House GOP plan, 24 million fewer people would be insured by 2026, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

—Individuals ages 50 to 64. Premiums would go up and tax credits for most of these people would go down. Premium costs for a 64-year-old making $26,500 a year would increase by $12,900 for a single year, according to the CBO.

—The poor. The bill would limit future spending on Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, reducing their benefits.

—The working poor. The bill raises taxes for some low-income families because the new tax credits for buying health insurance are smaller than the credits under Obama’s health law.

For example, families making between $20,000 and $30,000 would get tax increases averaging $200, according to the Tax Policy Center.

—Planned Parenthood. The bill eliminates all federal funds for the organization that provides health care to women.

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A BIT OF BOTH

—Health insurance companies. The bill repeals a tax on health insurance companies, saving them $145 million over the next decade. However, these companies are projected to lose 24 million customers by 2026.

—States. The bill limits the future growth of Medicaid spending, pushing the cost to the states. But the bill also provides much more flexibility to states on how they spend this money.

 

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

US stocks start higher ahead of uncertain health care vote

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Financial Markets
In this Jan. 12, 2017, photo, traders work on the Mizuho Americas trading floor in New York. Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, on Friday, March 24, 2017, led by gains in technology companies and banks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK/March 24, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — U.S. stocks are opening higher Friday morning as technology companies climb and most other sectors make small gains. For most of this week investors have been waiting for answers about the fate of the Republican-backed American Health Care Act, which is scheduled to come up for a vote later Friday after it was delayed a day earlier.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,352 as of 10:03 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average added 37 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,693. The Nasdaq composite jumped 33 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,850. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks advanced 7 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,360.

The S&P 500 is on track for its biggest weekly loss this year.

HEALTH BILL HOLDUP: Stocks were higher for most of the day on Thursday, but the gains mostly evaporated after House Republicans postponed the health care vote because of a lack of support. Investors aren’t overwhelmingly concerned about the health care proposal itself, but they wonder if a protracted debate or a failed bill would delay aspects of President Donald Trump’s agenda that the market is excited about. Those include tax cuts, greater infrastructure spending, and cuts in regulations.

TECH LEADS: Technology companies made the biggest gains on the market, continuing a strong run over the last few months. Chipmaker Micron Technology surged $2.49, or 9.4 percent, to $28.96 after its second-quarter earnings were much better than analysts expected, and data storage company Western Digital jumped $3.88, or 5.1 percent, to $80.07. Elsewhere Apple picked up 58 cents to $141.50.

Real estate and consumer focused companies also traded higher.

MAKING A SPLASH: SeaWorld Entertainment jumped after a big investment from China. SeaWorld said real estate holding company Zhonghong Zhuoye Group bought a 21 percent stake from Blackstone Group. It said the Chinese firm paid $23 a share, and an executive will join SeaWorld’s board. The stock has struggled in recent years because of controversy about the conditions of SeaWorld’s captive killer whales, which hurt attendance. The stock gained $1.21, or 7 percent, to $18.52 Friday.

FULL STOP: Video game retailer GameStop disclosed weaker-than-expected revenue as consumers cut back on shopping while they waited for companies to start introducing new game systems. GameStop’s forecasts for this year fell far short of analyst forecasts. The company said it expects to earn between $3.10 to $3.40 per share in its current fiscal year, and FactSet says analysts expected $3.73 a share. The stock dropped $2.70, or 11.3 percent, to $21.26.

NOT A PHOTO FINISH: Shoe store The Finish Line slumped after the company said it had to cut prices in the fourth quarter because consumers didn’t like some of its products. Like many other retailers, it also faced generally tough business conditions. The company reported a loss thanks to impairment charges and it cut its annual profit outlook. The stock shed $3.24, or 20.2 percent, to $19.21.

BONDS: Bond prices held steady. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained at 2.42 percent.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil futures rose 15 cents to $47.84 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 14 cents to $50.80 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.24 yen from 111.07 yen. The euro edged up to $1.0798 from $1.0786.

OVERSEAS: The French CAC 40 dropped 0.3 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 index slipped 0.1 percent. In Germany, the DAX was little changed. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.9 percent following recent losses. The Kospi of South Korea dipped 0.2 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng reversed earlier losses to finish 0.1 percent higher.

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MARLEY JAY, AP Markets Writer