10 things you need to know today: March 20, 2017
House panel heads into a hearing on Russian election meddling, Judge Gorsuch's confirmation hearings begin, and more
House panel to hold hearing on Russian election meddling
The House Intelligence Committee on Monday is scheduled to hold a hearing on Russia's alleged attempt to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The committee's chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), told Fox News on Sunday that he had seen no evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump's campaign. "I'll give you a very simple answer: 'No,'" he said. "... There's no evidence of collusion." The committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, also of California, offered a differing opinion, saying there was "circumstantial evidence of collusion." The panel, which also is looking into President Trump's insistence that former President Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped, has called in FBI Director James Comey and Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, to testify.
Duke suffers stunning loss to South Carolina
The South Carolina Gamecocks upset the Duke Blue Devils 88-81 Sunday night to advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Duke, the No. 2 seed in the East Region, entered the season ranked No. 1, and after injuries and other setbacks headed into the tournament a title contender after winning the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Duke finished the first half of Sunday's game with a lead, as expected, over the No. 7 seeded Gamecocks, but could not keep up in the second half as South Carolina shot 71 percent from the field. North Carolina, another ACC powerhouse and the South Region No. 1 seed, narrowly escaped a similar fate on the tournament's fourth day, blowing a 17-point lead before scoring the game's final 12 points to beat Arkansas and advance. In the women's tournament, No. 1-seeded Notre Dame held off No. 9 seed Purdue, 88-82, to reach the round of 16.
Ryan says House GOP will make changes to health bill
House Republicans are working on amendments to their plan to replace ObamaCare, aiming to increase tax credits for older Americans and add a work requirement for some Medicaid recipients, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday. Democrats oppose the proposal because they say it will cause millions of people to lose their health insurance. The GOP is split over the repeal ObamaCare, a key campaign promise of President Trump, with conservatives saying it leaves too much of the core of former President Barack Obama's signature health-care reform law in place. Ryan said the House leadership would bring the proposal to a vote on Thursday.
Senate committee scheduled to start Gorsuch confirmation hearing
Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, heads into his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. Gorsuch is a highly regarded federal appeals court judge, and has faced no opposition over his legal credentials. Democrats, who say Gorsuch has sided with business interests over individuals, have vowed to oppose him on principle because Republicans refused to even consider former President Barack Obama's nominee to fill the seat left vacant when conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to hold a confirmation vote before the Senate's Easter recess begins April 8. Washington, D.C., lawyer Tom Goldstein, who publishes the ScotusBlog website, said Democrats "don't have the votes and don't have the goods" to block Gorsuch, so "it would be shocking" if he wasn't confirmed in the coming weeks.
Gallup: Trump approval rating falls to new low
President Trump's job approval rating fell to a new low of 37 percent in the latest Gallup tracking poll, which was released on Sunday. Fifty-eight percent of respondents in the poll said they disapproved of Trump's performance. The three-point drop in Trump's approval rating came as House Republican leaders face bipartisan opposition to their plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, a key Trump campaign promise. A Fox News poll conducted earlier this month put Trump's approval rating at 43 percent, a five-percentage-point decline since last month.
Uber's No. 2 quits
Uber's president, Jeff Jones, is leaving the ride-hailing company after just six months on the job, Recode reported Sunday. Jones left Target last fall to join Uber as its No. 2 executive, and one of his jobs was repairing the business' image, which has been tainted by charges of sexism and sexual harassment. "It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber," Jones said in a statement. His departure comes shortly after Uber's embattled CEO, Travis Kalanick, began a search for a chief operating officer to help him get the company back on track.
Ex-North Carolina police chief detained at airport
Former Greenville, North Carolina, police chief Hassan Aden said Sunday that he was detained at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport for 90 minutes because of his name. The alleged incident occurred earlier this month when Aden, 52, was returning from Paris after a visit to celebrate his mother's 80th birthday. Aden said a customs officer asked whether he was traveling alone, then told him to "take a walk." "I was like, 'Oh boy, here we go," said the Italian-born Aden, a naturalized citizen who has lived in the U.S. for 42 years. Aden served in the Alexandria, Virginia, police force for 26 years before taking the job in North Carolina in 2012. He retired in 2015.
3 American soldiers wounded by Afghan officer
Three U.S. soldiers were shot and wounded on Sunday in what appeared to be an insider attack by a member of the Afghan armed forces. The U.S. military identified the attacker as an Afghan officer, saying he opened fire on the Americans at a base in Helmand province. Coalition security forces returned fire to "end the attack," and killed the alleged attacker, Navy Capt. Bill Salvin said. The shooting occurred during a military training exercise. Such "green on blue" attacks were common years ago, but became rare after most foreign troops left Afghanistan in 2014. [Editor's note: This item originally had an inaccurate headline. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.]
Former N.Y. Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin dies at 88
Pulitzer-Prize-winning former New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin died Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 88. Breslin, who also was a best-selling author, was a fixture in New York City journalism for decades, chronicling city life with a sharp wit and blunt, brash prose. Breslin won a 1986 Pulitzer for commentary. The Pulitzer committee noted that his columns "consistently championed ordinary citizens." With Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe, Breslin was credited with helping to create "New Journalism," which infused news reporting with a more literary approach. He once explained what kept him cranking out columns for so long by saying, "Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers."
Beauty and the Beast smashes Hollywood records
Beauty and the Beast took in $170 million at the North American box office over its debut weekend, breaking the record for the biggest March opening that was set last year by Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The Disney musical, which mixes live-action scenes with fully digital characters, also made $180 million in overseas ticket sales, putting it on track to make $1 billion worldwide before it leaves cinemas. "The world is a pretty cynical place right now, and Beauty and the Beast gave audiences an opportunity to go back to a time of innocence," said Greg Foster, chief executive of IMAX’s filmed entertainment.