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The Latest Business Headlines

    Asian shares were mostly lower Tuesday after a U.S. holiday. Investors were awaiting the release later in the day of minutes from the latest meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 1.0 percent to finish at 21,925.10. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was virtually unchanged, inching down to 5,940.90. South Korea's Kospi lost 1.1 percent to 2,415.12. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent at 31,034.04. Shares were mixed in Southeast Asia. Markets in mainland China were still closed for lunar new year holidays. U.S. HOLIDAY: American markets were closed Monday for Presidents' Day. CENTRAL BANKS: Minutes are expected later Tuesday from the latest Federal Reserve meeting. Investors were also watching remarks in Japanese parliament from Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda. Kuroda was reappointed recently for another five-year term in a show of confidence in his ultra-easy monetary policy. THE QUOTE: 'The Fed's sequence of interest rate normalization should be the markets' key focus this week and the primary drivers of near-term volatility,' says Stephen Innes, head of trading at OANDA. ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 74 cents to $62.29 per barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 13 cents at $65.54 a barrel. CURRENCIES: The euro slipped to $1.2379 from $1.2408. The dollar rose to 106.86 yen from 106.57 yen. ____ Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama Her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/yuri%20kageyama
  • The new CEO of Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts said he was not aware of any of the sexual misconduct accusations against casino mogul Steve Wynn before they surfaced last month. Matt Maddox, who was appointed CEO on Feb. 6 after Wynn resigned, added that people should 'hold off making any judgment until the investigations into the accusations are complete.' Wynn Resorts is facing scrutiny by gambling regulators in Nevada and Massachusetts, where the company is building a roughly $2.4 billion casino just outside Boston. Regulators in Macau, the Chinese enclave where the company operates two casinos, are also inquiring about the accusations. Steve Wynn has vehemently denied the misconduct accusations and attributed them to a campaign led by his ex-wife. An attorney for Elaine Wynn has denied that she instigated the news report. The allegations surfaced last month, when the Wall Street Journal reported that a number of women said Steve Wynn harassed or assaulted them and that one case led to a $7.5 million settlement. Wynn Resorts has created a committee to investigate the allegations and to review the company's internal policies and procedures to ensure a 'safe and respectful workplace for all employees.' Maddox, who does not sit on the board of directors, said he would leave it up to lawyers and investigators to decide whether the findings of the investigation should be made public. Many describe Steve Wynn as the father of modern-day Las Vegas, and by the company's own admission, his knowledge was crucial for its success. So much so, that the company recently told regulators the 'business may be significantly impaired' if it lost Steve Wynn's services. But Maddox on Monday said Wynn Resorts is positioned to move forward without its founder and continue to develop a number of projects in part because two long-time executives responsible for design and architecture remain with the company. He is also putting together an 'innovation advisory team' to provide input. 'The idea is that our future projects are going to continue to be leading in innovation and creativity,' Maddox said while sitting at the employee dining hall of the Wynn Las Vegas casino-resort. 'We are continuing to move forward as fast as we can.' The company closed its golf course in Las Vegas last year as a step toward the development of a lake and hotel project called Paradise Park. Last month, it bought a 38-acre site along the Las Vegas Strip that Steve Wynn, before resigning, said would be developed into a roughly 2,000-room hotel. Maddox said the company will pursue both projects as well as the possibility of obtaining a license to open a casino in Japan, where late last year lawmakers approved a long-awaited law on 'integrated resorts' that is the first major hurdle in allowing casinos to set up shop. Further enabling legislation is expected to take several more years. Maddox, 42, is one of Wynn Resorts' first employees. He joined the company when Steve Wynn founded it in 2002, two years after he sold the business that built the Bellagio, Mirage and Treasure Island. Initially, he spent the majority of his time raising the money to build the Wynn Las Vegas casino-resort. He later worked in Macau before returning to Las Vegas in 2006. He led the company through the Great Recession as the chief financial officer and became its president in 2013. Maddox said the company's board of directors had been developing a succession plan for roughly four years, and Steve Wynn's resignation simply accelerated its implementation. 'They, along with Steve, decided to make me the president of Wynn Resorts with the idea that eventually, assuming things continue to work well, I would become the CEO,' he said. He said the company will keep its name and logo, which is Wynn's signature. 'Wynn is about the 25,000 people who work here,' he said. 'The name stands for quality. It stands for service. And it's something that all of these 25,000 people look up to.' Maddox defended the company as gender inclusive, citing that 40 percent of management are women, but wants the number to increase. He has established a new leadership initiative with an immediate goal of looking at gender inequality and instituted a six-week paid parental leave policy and merit-based scholarship fund. 'I'm going around in the town halls explaining not only is the company stable, it's strong. So, all of you are safe,' he said. 'We are going to keep executing what we do. And I'm pointing out at each town hall that this is a zero-tolerance company.' ___ Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO
  • Minnesota officials will soon try to convince a jury that manufacturer 3M Co. should pay the state $5 billion to help clean up environmental damage that the state alleges was caused by pollutants the company dumped for decades. The long-awaited trial begins Tuesday in Minneapolis. Experts say it could have wide-reaching implications if the state succeeds, in part because 3M and other companies legally dumped the chemicals for years in and outside Minnesota. The case focuses on the company's disposal of chemicals once used to make Scotchgard fabric protector and other products. The company denies it did anything wrong or illegal. The state alleges the chemicals damaged Minnesota's natural resources, including more than 100 miles of the Mississippi River, and contaminated drinking water, harmed wildlife and posed a threat to human health. Here are some key details about the fight: WHAT THE CASE IS ABOUT The lawsuit focuses on 3M's disposal of perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, and their compounds. The company, which is based in Maplewood, Minnesota, began producing PFCs in the 1950s and legally disposed of them in landfills for decades. Along with Scotchgard, the chemicals were used in fire retardants, paints, nonstick cookware and other products. The company stopped making PFCs in 2002 after negotiating with the Environmental Protection Agency, which said the chemicals could pose long-term risks to human health and the environment. But in 2004, trace amounts of the chemicals were found in groundwater near one of 3M's dumping sites east of St. Paul. The state and 3M reached a deal three years later requiring the company to spend millions to clean up landfills and provide clean drinking water to affected communities. But it wasn't until 2010 that the state filed a lawsuit, alleging 3M researched PFCs and knew the chemicals were getting into the environment and posing a threat to human health. After years of delays, jury selection for a trial in state court is set to start this week. The company has denied it did anything wrong, insisting it was acting legally at the time. In a statement last week, the company said: '3M believes that when we have an opportunity to share all the facts, discuss the science, and present the details of our position to the jury, people will conclude that the company acted responsibly.' ___ WHY IT MATTERS Low levels of PFCs have been found in the environment, humans and wildlife across the globe. At least two dozen lawsuits related to PFCs have been filed against 3M around the country, including one filed last week in Massachusetts over water contamination blamed on firefighting foam. Experts say the outcome of Minnesota's case won't set a nationwide legal precedent for the other cases because the decision would only be applied in Minnesota. But they say there could be a ripple effect and attorneys are watching closely. David Andrews is a senior scientist at Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that conducts research to protect health and the environment. He said the case's impact would be huge if Minnesota wins and 3M is held accountable. 'The impacts would be enormous just because of the extent of contamination nationwide and how much work still needs to be done to really clean up the mess,' Andrews told The Associated Press. The company said it has already spent about $100 million on remediation and other projects just in Minnesota to reduce the presence of the chemicals in the environment. The company argues that levels of the chemicals in the environment and in the human body are declining. ___ WHAT TO EXPECT AT TRIAL The trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis. It's expected to last four to six weeks. One key issue will be whether 3M's disposal of the chemicals has increased the rate of certain health issues, including cancer. A state expert is expected to testify that the pollution increased rates of cancer, low birth-weight babies and premature births in affected areas. But the Minnesota Department of Health has found no increase in such rates. The company says there's no evidence the chemicals have impacted human health. ___ PROBLEMS ELSEWHERE Since the Minnesota lawsuit was first filed back in 2010, concerns over PFCs have grown. In 2016, the EPA drastically reduced the recommended maximum levels of PFC concentrations for drinking water. As a result, about 15 million people learned their drinking water wasn't considered safe for long-term consumption. According to 3M, those recommendations are cautionary. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the EPA's advisory sent communities nationwide scrambling to install technology to treat water. Some of those communities have sued, and some are investigating to determine who or what produced the PFCs in their water, and what, if any, long-term effects they might face due to continued exposure.
  • The eldest son of President Donald Trump has arrived in India to help sell luxury apartments and lavish attention on wealthy Indians who have already bought units in Trump-branded developments. Donald Trump Jr. posed for photos Tuesday morning with Indian developers, who are building the complexes in four cities. Later in the week, he is scheduled to make a speech about Indo-Pacific relations at a New Delhi business summit, sharing the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Trump Organization has licensing agreements with all its Indian business partners, who build the properties and acquire the Trump name in exchange for a fee. The organization has five projects in India, making it the brand's largest market outside the United States. A luxury complex is already open in the central city of Pune, with other developments in varying stages of construction in the coastal cities of Mumbai and Kolkata, and two in a chrome-and-glass New Delhi suburb, Gurgaon. The apartments are expensive — though not outrageously so in the overheated real estate world of India's wealthy elite. An apartment in the Trump Towers complex in Gurgaon runs between $775,000 and $1.5 million. A barrage of glossy full-page ads in Indian newspapers promise that buyers who order apartments in that development by Thursday will get 'a conversation and dinner' with Trump Jr. one day later. President Trump has pledged to avoid any new foreign business deals during his term in office to avoid potential ethical conflicts. While the projects that Trump Jr. is promoting in India were inked before his father was elected, ethics experts have long seen the use of the Trump name to promote even existing business ventures as tricky territory.
  • HSBC said Tuesday that profits rose on strong earnings from Asia, in the latest sign that the London-based global bank's restructuring to focus even more on the region is paying off. The bank said pretax profit, after adjusting for one-off items and currency fluctuations, increased 11 percent to $21 billion in 2017, as adjusted revenue climbed 5 percent to $51.5 billion. Net income more than quadrupled to $10.8 billion. 'Asia again contributed a substantial proportion of the group's profits,' the company's chairman, Mark Tucker, said in a statement. The bank is Europe's biggest but Asia accounted for nearly nine-tenths of total profits last year, when HSBC completed a sweeping multiyear corporate revamp to raise profitability. The overhaul included laying off thousands of workers, bringing in new leadership and selling off its businesses around the globe to focus on emerging markets in Asia. HSBC is focusing in particular on Hong Kong and the affluent Pearl River Delta region in neighboring mainland China. Tucker, an outsider who took over as chairman in October, said the bank forecast 'reasonable growth' for the world's major economies in 2018, aided by low unemployment, recovering consumer confidence and improving trade. 'Fears of a hard (economic) landing in China have receded, and markets across Asia look set for a strong year,' Tucker said. He added that the expected signing of regional trade agreements in 2018, mostly involving Asian nations, 'also provides cause for optimism' while the Belt and Road Initiative, China's massive infrastructure program, provided new business opportunities. But rising international tensions and the threat of protectionism are among the risks that 'have the potential to disrupt economic activity,' he said. A new chief executive, company veteran John Flint, is set to take over Wednesday from Stuart Gulliver, who is retiring after seven years at the helm. In December, HSBC passed a key milestone when a five-year deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice expired. It was an important step for the bank, allowing it to avoid charges for a money laundering scandal involving Mexican drug barons and countries facing U.S. sanctions.
  • Nearly two months after recreational marijuana became legal in California, less than 1 percent of the state's known growers have been licensed, according to a report released Monday by a pot industry group. The 38-page report from the California Growers Association says 0.78 percent, or 534, of an estimated 68,150 marijuana growers were licensed by the state as of Feb. 7. The association cited such obstacles to licensing as cost and regulatory barriers. A study published last year by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center estimated the newly created state market for recreational marijuana should produce $5 billion in taxable revenue this year. At the same time, it estimated the market for medicinal marijuana, which has been legal in California since 1996, would decline from an estimated $2 billion last year to $1.4 billion in 2018, while about 30 percent of pot sales would continue through the black market. If more of the smaller, independent growers are not licensed by the state, taxable revenue of recreational marijuana is likely to be lower than anticipated as the black market continues to flourish, according to the new report. 'The current system will not achieve its goals without fundamental and structural changes that allow small and independent businesses to enter into compliance,' the growers association report concluded. An after-hours message left with the state Department of Food and Agriculture, which regulates the growers, was not immediately returned. The growers association, which identifies itself as the state's largest association of marijuana businesses, said it hopes to work with officials in getting more growers licensed. 'We must develop a regulatory framework that will effectively curb the environmental and public safety impacts of cannabis by providing pathways to compliance for businesses currently operating in the unregulated market,' said Hezekiah Allen, the group's executive director. 'If they are unable to comply, the unregulated market is likely to persist and there will be an unnecessary strain on law enforcement resources,' he said.
  • Minnesota officials will soon try to convince a jury that manufacturer 3M Co. should pay the state $5 billion to help clean up environmental damage that the state alleges was caused by pollutants the company dumped for decades. The long-awaited trial begins Tuesday in Minneapolis. Experts say it could have wide-reaching implications if the state succeeds, in part because 3M and other companies legally dumped the chemicals for years in and outside Minnesota. The case focuses on the company's disposal of chemicals once used to make Scotchgard fabric protector and other products. The company denies it did anything wrong or illegal. The state alleges the chemicals damaged Minnesota's natural resources, including more than 100 miles of the Mississippi River, and contaminated drinking water, harmed wildlife and posed a threat to human health. Here are some key details about the fight: WHAT THE CASE IS ABOUT The lawsuit focuses on 3M's disposal of perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, and their compounds. The company, which is based in Maplewood, Minnesota, began producing PFCs in the 1950s and legally disposed of them in landfills for decades. Along with Scotchgard, the chemicals were used in fire retardants, paints, nonstick cookware and other products. The company stopped making PFCs in 2002 after negotiating with the Environmental Protection Agency, which said the chemicals could pose long-term risks to human health and the environment. But in 2004, trace amounts of the chemicals were found in groundwater near one of 3M's dumping sites east of St. Paul. The state and 3M reached a deal three years later requiring the company to spend millions to clean up landfills and provide clean drinking water to affected communities. But it wasn't until 2010 that the state filed a lawsuit, alleging 3M researched PFCs and knew the chemicals were getting into the environment and posing a threat to human health. After years of delays, jury selection for a trial in state court is set to start this week. The company has denied it did anything wrong, insisting it was acting legally at the time. In a statement last week, the company said: '3M believes that when we have an opportunity to share all the facts, discuss the science, and present the details of our position to the jury, people will conclude that the company acted responsibly.' ___ WHY IT MATTERS Low levels of PFCs have been found in the environment, humans and wildlife across the globe. At least two dozen lawsuits related to PFCs have been filed against 3M around the country, including one filed last week in Massachusetts over water contamination blamed on firefighting foam. Experts say the outcome of Minnesota's case won't set a nationwide legal precedent for the other cases because the decision would only be applied in Minnesota. But they say there could be a ripple effect and attorneys are watching closely. David Andrews is a senior scientist at Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that conducts research to protect health and the environment. He said the case's impact would be huge if Minnesota wins and 3M is held accountable. 'The impacts would be enormous just because of the extent of contamination nationwide and how much work still needs to be done to really clean up the mess,' Andrews told The Associated Press. The company said it has already spent about $100 million on remediation and other projects just in Minnesota to reduce the presence of the chemicals in the environment. The company argues that levels of the chemicals in the environment and in the human body are declining. ___ WHAT TO EXPECT AT TRIAL The trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis. It's expected to last four to six weeks. One key issue will be whether 3M's disposal of the chemicals has increased the rate of certain health issues, including cancer. A state expert is expected to testify that the pollution increased rates of cancer, low birth-weight babies and premature births in affected areas. But the Minnesota Department of Health has found no increase in such rates. The company says there's no evidence the chemicals have impacted human health. ___ PROBLEMS ELSEWHERE Since the Minnesota lawsuit was first filed back in 2010, concerns over PFCs have grown. In 2016, the EPA drastically reduced the recommended maximum levels of PFC concentrations for drinking water. As a result, about 15 million people learned their drinking water wasn't considered safe for long-term consumption. According to 3M, those recommendations are cautionary. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the EPA's advisory sent communities nationwide scrambling to install technology to treat water. Some of those communities have sued, and some are investigating to determine who or what produced the PFCs in their water, and what, if any, long-term effects they might face due to continued exposure.
  • The Latest on the bribery investigation on the Latvian central bank chief (all times local): 6:05 p.m. Latvian state TV reports that the country's central bank chief has been released from detention on bail pending an investigation into suspected bribery. The channel showed Ilmars Rimsevics speaking to reporters Monday evening and saying that he 'rejects everything' that has been alleged about him. An Associated Press investigation found that a Latvian bank is accusing Rimsevics of seeking bribes for years, abusing his power and being connected to individuals involved in money laundering from Russia. Rimsevics was detained on Saturday evening after questioned by Latvia's anti-corruption authorities. The state TV quoted Rimsevics' lawyer, Saulvedis Varpins, as saying that more information on the case will be provided Tuesday. ___ 4:20 p.m. Executives at Latvian bank Norvik say the nation's central bank chief, who was detained Saturday without charges, sought to extort money from their firm for years. Latvia Central bank chief Ilmars Rimsevics faces a criminal investigation for bribery but is not charged so far. Norvik has filed an international complaint against Latvia in which it claims a 'Senior Latvian Official' sought bribes from the bank and abused his power. Norvik's CEO, Oliver Bramwell, told The Associated Press: 'The high-level official mentioned in our request for arbitration is Rimsevics.' Norvik's chairman, Grigory Guselnikov, also told the AP how individuals connected to Rimsevics had asked his bank to launder money from Russia. Rimsevics is also on the highest policymaking council of the European Central Bank, which sets monetary policy for the 19 euro countries.
  • Background checks can be one of the most nerve-racking activities related to getting a new job. In many cases, it’s not that you have anything to hide, but it’s just that the propensity for error – either by a human or machine – can have some serious ramifications. There are companies that charge employers big money to access personal information on potential hires. But the truth is, there is already plenty of data publicly available on us all – and it’s free, meaning we can pretty much perform background checks on ourselves. Think of it as a sneak peak of what a potential employer might see when you go to apply for a job. How to run a  background check on yourself — for free  While we’re in an era when so many online databases are basically at our fingertips, some of the info that’s available could be totally inaccurate. When it comes to background checks, accurate information on a person’s identity is especially crucial: Incorrectly run checks that confuse people with the same or similar names could be costing job applicants that all-important job offer. Aside from social networking sites such as Facebook, here are some free databases that have troves of information on people are: PeekYou.com: This free people search site crawls the web for links likely associated with you or the person you’re searching for. The site will also pull information from social media. BeenVerified.com: This site pulls a composite taken from across the web. It is pretty accurate in pinning the city a person is from or has lived in. It also features a comprehensive social search, pulling from sites such as LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook to identify possible relatives as well. NSOPW: The National Sexual Offender Public Website is a safety resource that provides the public with access to sex offender data nationwide. Credit reports: Get free credit reports from Credit Karma and Credit Sesame to what employers (who are increasingly running credit check on potential employees) might see. RELATED: Here’s how your friends could help you recover your Facebook account Related Articles from clark.com: Here's your 2018 estimated tax refund schedule Read More 7 things I learned while using my Instant Pot for 14 days straight Read More Buying this type of oil is better for your car Read More
  • A year of upheaval at the U.S. Interior Department has seen dozens of senior staff members reassigned and key leadership positions left unfilled, rules considered burdensome to industry shelved, and a sweeping reorganization proposed for its 70,000 employees. The evolving status quo at the agency responsible for more than 780,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers) of public lands, mostly in the American West, has led to praise from energy and mining companies and Republicans, who welcomed the departure from perceived heavy-handed regulation under President Barack Obama. But the changes have drawn increasingly sharp criticism from conservationists, Democrats and some agency employees. Under President Donald Trump, the critics say, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has curbed outside input into how the land is used and elevated corporate interests above the duty to safeguard treasured sites. The differing views illustrate longstanding tensions over the role of America's public lands — an amalgam of pristine wilderness, recreational playgrounds and abundant energy reserves. A year into his tenure, Zinke, a former U.S. Navy SEAL and Montana congressman, has emerged as the point person for the administration's goal of American 'energy dominance.' He's targeted regulations perceived to hamper development of oil, natural gas and coal beneath public lands primarily in the West and Alaska. He's also made plans to realign the agency's bureaucracy, trimming the equivalent of 4,600 jobs — about 7 percent of its workforce — and proposed a massive overhaul that would move decision-making out of Washington, D.C., relocating headquarters staff to Western states at a cost of $17.5 million. The intent is to delegate more power to personnel in the field who oversee activities ranging from mining to livestock grazing to protecting endangered plants and animals. Staffing reductions would be achieved through natural attrition and reclassifying some positions to lower pay grades as employees are moved outside the D.C. area, Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift said Monday. Zinke's actions have stirred dissent within and outside the agency — from his claim that one-third of Interior employees were disloyal to Trump to a proposal to allow more drilling off America's coasts while carving out an exception for Florida at the request of Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Along with Zinke's full-throated promotion of the Trump administration's new agenda came the transfer of at least 35 senior Interior employees. Among them was Matthew Allen, who was demoted from assistant director of communications at the agency's Bureau of Land Management. He's now in a new position, performing 'nonspecific duties' in an Interior branch that oversees offshore drilling. Allen sued in December, challenging his reassignment as retaliation for his support of government transparency. 'There appears to be a collective effort to suppress information being shared with the public, the press and the Congress,' he said. At the agency's highest levels, 11 leadership positions are vacant a year after Trump took office, including the directors of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. Panels such as the National Park System Advisory Board have languished, according to a letter submitted by board members who resigned last month. Board Chairman and former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat, complained that requests to engage with Zinke's team were ignored and members were concerned stewardship and protection of the parks was being pushed aside. When the Park Service in October proposed increasing entrance fees at 17 of the most highly visited parks — from Grand Canyon to Yellowstone and Zion — the board wasn't consulted, said Carolyn Finney, a University of Kentucky geography professor who was among those who resigned. 'How do we make parks more accessible? It's cost,' Finney said. She said the fee increase would hinder the ability of a 'more diverse and wider group of the public to visit the parks.' The board's charter expired in December after it collected comments from more than 100 experts on how parks should deal with climate change, increase visitor diversity and protect wildlife. Zinke's associate deputy secretary, Todd Willens, called the resignations a 'political stunt' because another meeting was planned and because the agency was working to renew the board's charter. Similar action has been promised for idled advisory boards at the Bureau of Land Management. Under Trump, the charters for 22 state-level resource advisory councils — composed of local officials, representatives of business and environmental groups and others — expired in January. Some expired months ago and at least 14 remained so as of Friday. Interior representatives did not respond to numerous requests for information on the status of the other councils. The councils make recommendations on activities on public lands, such as whether off-road vehicles should be allowed in wildlife habitat or whether logging could help prevent wildfires. Zinke suspended the panels for five months in May as part of a review of more than 200 boards and advisory committees. Some had not met in years. Congressional Democrats objected, saying the move would stifle non-governmental views on how U.S.-owned land is used. Swift said it was 'common practice' to periodically renew and refine the panels' charters. Oil and gas groups in particular have embraced the concept of change for an agency once seen as an obstacle to drilling. The withdrawal or cancellation of Obama-era rules on fracking and methane emissions from oil and gas exploration were positive first steps, they say. Next comes getting Interior staff on board, said Kathleen Sgamma with the Western Energy Alliance, which promotes giving oil and gas companies' access to federal lands. U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, the House Natural Resources Committee's ranking Democrat, said Zinke's actions have made it easier to pollute federal lands and waters while giving special interest groups more influence. 'He's in over his head,' Grijalva said. ___ Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at www.twitter.com/matthewbrownap .

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • The man allegedly behind the fatal Florida high school shooting apparently has a disturbing past that is coming to light. A school fight that was captured on camera a little more than a year ago is the latest development. >> Click here to watch Authorities said 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Cruz was formerly a member of the school’s JROTC program before being expelled. >> Florida school shooting: Teacher of the year's emotional Facebook post goes viral A September 2016 video shared by ABC News shows Cruz wearing a white shirt and khakis while fighting with other students. Cruz was reportedly handed a two-day suspension following the incident. >> Family who took in Nikolas Cruz: 'We just didn't know' According to ABC, the fight was one of five documented incidents that caused school administrators to expel Cruz, mandating his transfer to another high school in February 2017. >> WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech Another incident that reportedly contributed to Cruz’s expulsion was his alleged fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Cruz was allegedly abusive toward her before they broke up. >> Read more trending news  The massacre at the high school marked the 25th U.S. school shooting in which someone was killed since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.
  • Orange County Fire Rescue will soon own an old Lynx Bus that they plan to use to help save lives during mass casualty incidents in the future.   On Tuesday, commissioners are expected to approve the $2,500 purchase of the bus and refurbish it into a large ambulance.    Fire Rescue officials will take out the bus seats and install rows of stretchers. They believe these new changes will be useful in saving lives during responses to things like wildfires, hurricanes, or any incidents like Pulse.    The bus will the only one of its kind in the Orlando Metro region, but can be requested for use around Central Florida.    The county also plants to stage the bus at large events like marathons and parades.
  • Two New York state troopers are being credited with an immense kindness after they paid for the flight of a young woman to Florida to say goodbye to her friend, one of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.  Jordana Judson, 23, told NBC News that she was devastated to learn that her childhood friend, Meadow Pollack, was among the victims of the Valentine’s Day shooting at her alma mater. Former Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz, 19, is accused of killing 14 students and three faculty members with an AR-15 rifle.  >> Read more trending news Pollack, an 18-year-old senior, and Judson were lifelong friends, NBC News reported. “They were like our second family our whole lives,” Judson said of the Pollacks. Judson said she showed up at LaGuardia Airport on Thursday, the day after the shooting, frantic to get a flight home to Florida, where she’d grown up.  “As soon as I got out of the car at the airport, I started hysterically crying,” she said.  Troopers Robert Troy and Thomas Karasinski spotted the distraught young woman and asked if she was all right. She tearfully explained that a friend was killed in the school shooting in Florida and that she needed help figuring out where to buy her ticket.  The troopers led her inside to the JetBlue counter, where an agent told her a one-way ticket to Florida would be almost $700, Judson told the news station. Unable to afford the cost, she begged the agent to lower the price or allow her a bereavement discount. The agent could not accommodate her, and was about to give the ticket to another passenger when Troy and Karasinski stepped in. “I look up, and the state troopers are standing there and they’re both handing over their credit cards,” Judson told NBC News. “I’m telling them that they don’t have to do this. This is crazy. They said, ‘It’s already done. We want you to be home with their families.’” A rabbi who sat Shiva with the Pollack family confirmed that Judson made it home to be with the family and to attend Meadow’s funeral on Friday, where the Miami Herald reported that she was described as a star with “a smile like sunshine.” Meadow’s father, Andrew Pollack, and her older brother, Hunter, both lamented the fact that they couldn’t protect her when she needed them. “This piece of (expletive) killed my kid, and I couldn’t do anything about it,” Andrew Pollack said, according to the Herald. “That’s never happened to me in my life. I’m always able to protect my family in any situation.” Hunter Pollack said he always looked out for his sister.  “I wanted to be the over-supportive brother my whole life, and I feel like I failed,” Hunter said. “So all I can do is hope that (her killer) gets what he deserves.” Judson told NBC News that the troopers’ gesture to get her to the funeral made her heart “full and heavy at the same time.” New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II told the news station in a statement that, as law enforcement officials, all troopers take an oath to protect and serve.  “We also instill in our members the importance of acting with respect and empathy for the people they encounter,” Beach said.  Troy told the news station that he sympathized with Judson’s dilemma. “The sense of just being there for your family and friends, you want to be there for them,” Troy said. “You’re going to go through anything to get there.” Explaining that he has five younger sisters, the trooper said it was a “sigh of relief” to be able to help Judson. “If that was one of them, I’d want someone to help them out,” he said. 
  • The White House on Monday signaled that President Donald Trump is willing to back at least one bipartisan measure to strengthen the national instant check system for those who buy firearms, as Democrats in the House and Senate continued to argue that action by the Congress on gun violence is long overdue. “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. In a written statement sent to reporters, Sanders said the President spoke to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on Friday; the Texas Republican has a bipartisan bill with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), which would force states and federal agencies to submit more information into the instant gun check system. Our churches and schools should be refuges where children and parents feel secure. Many of these shootings can be prevented. There's no reason not to advance #FixNICS to help https://t.co/0JpZDiLPOr — Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) February 15, 2018 Interesting morning. Two quick thoughts: 1/ Trump's support for the FixNICS Act, my bill with @JohnCornyn, is another sign the politics of gun violence are shifting rapidly. 2/ No one should pretend this bill alone is an adequate response to this epidemic. — Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 19, 2018 After a mass shooting last November in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 25 people died, the Air Force acknowledged that the killer – who received a ‘bad conduct’ discharge from the military – should not have been able to buy guns, but those records were never placed in the instant check system. “For years agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence,” Cornyn said in November when he introduced this bipartisan gun measure.” Democrats had hoped there would be action on that measure – just like they had hoped there would have been action to ban “bump stocks” after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, action on the “No Fly, No Buy” measure after the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting, and then the “FixNics” bill after the Texas shooting. I know assault rifles. I carried one in Iraq. They have no place on America's streets. #Orlando pic.twitter.com/ibKQE2PpqF — Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) June 14, 2016 Last week’s shooting in Florida simply put all of those requests for legislation to deal with guns on repeat for Democrats. “We can’t ignore the issues of gun control that this tragedy raises,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). “And so, I’m asking – no, demanding – we take action now.” Democrats would certainly like to do much more than the ‘FixNics’ bill, or banning bump stocks, as other ideas have popped up in recent days, like not allowing anyone under age 21 to buy weapons like an AR-15. But as the President returned to Washington on Monday evening from a long weekend at his Florida retreat, it wasn’t clear if his support for one bipartisan plan would actually mean action – as GOP leaders have not put such measures on the fast track to a vote in the House and Senate. On Sunday, when the President met with House Speaker Paul Ryan in Florida, the two men discussed a series of issues, including “the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida.” The White House statement on their meeting did not characterize whether legislative action was discussed. No action will happen on anything gun-related this week – as the Congress won’t be back on Capitol Hill for votes until February 26.
  • An Uber Eats driver who police said shot and killed a customer turned himself in Monday afternoon. >> Read more trending news According to WSB-TV, Robert Bivens, 37, arrived at the jail with his attorney. The Atlanta Police Department's Homicide Unit secured an arrest warrant for felony murder Monday. The shooting happened Saturday night at a condominium on Pharr Road in Buckhead, Georgia. Police said Ryan Thornton ordered food from Uber Eats and the driver delivered the food around 11:30 p.m. At some point, authorities said words were exchanged between Thornton and the driver. The Uber Eats driver then shot the 30-year-old, police said. Thornton died at Grady Memorial Hospital.  Uber said in a statement on Monday, saying Bivens no longer has access to the app: “We are shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence and our hearts go out to Ryan’s friends and family. We have been working with the Atlanta Police Department, and the driver can no longer access the app.” A spokesperson for Uber told WSB-TV Bivens passed a background check and had only been an Uber Eats driver for about a week. Bivens was an Uber Eats delivery partner only and did not drive passengers. Uber is working closely with the Atlanta Police Department on this investigation.