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Obama health law's 'essential benefits' may be in jeopardy

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scrambling to nail down votes for the health care overhaul legislation, Republicans are considering ways to ease federal requirements that insurers cover such basic services as prescription drugs, maternity care and substance abuse treatment. Lawmakers emerging from a meeting late Wednesday of the conservative Freedom Caucus said "essential health benefits" are in play as party leaders and the White House explore ways to advance the bill.

Republican health bill would widen America's big wealth gap

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans' health care bill provides massive tax cuts to the wealthy while increasing taxes for many lower income families, adding to America's big income gap between the rich and everyone else. Over the past quarter century, only one group of people has seen significant increases in income -- those at the very top.

In Trump's America, Hungary finds a friendlier partner

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hungary's government built a fence along its southern border, boasts about making Europe great again and says political correctness can't interfere with fighting terrorism. It's a country made for an alliance with President Donald Trump. And its top diplomat is excitedly meeting officials across Washington this week to discuss closer political, economic and military cooperation, and not the U.S.

US combat airlift marks deepening involvement in Syria

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States is deepening its involvement in the war against the Islamic State group after an unprecedented American airlift of Arab and Kurdish fighters to the front lines in northern Syria, supported by the first use of U.S. attack helicopters and artillery in the country. The U.S.

Spying claim by Intel chair renews fight over Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The chairman of the House intelligence committee says private communications of Donald Trump and his presidential transition team may have been scooped up by American intelligence officials monitoring other targets and improperly distributed throughout spy agencies. Republican Rep. Devin Nunes' extraordinary public airing Wednesday of often-secret information brought swift protests from Democrats.

Former colleagues, judges to testify for Supreme Court pick

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lawyers, advocacy groups and former colleagues get their say on President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee after Judge Neil Gorsuch emerged unscathed from two days of tough questioning at his confirmation hearing. Assured of support from majority Republicans, Gorsuch received glowing GOP reviews but complaints from frustrated Democrats that he concealed his views from the American public.

Business with China only sometimes a deal-breaker for Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Anthony Scaramucci announced to the world in January that he would be leaving Wall Street for the White House to become President Donald Trump's top public liaison. Not long after, Scaramucci was told by Trump's chief of staff that the sale of his hedge fund -- a deal that includes a well-known Chinese conglomerate -- raised too many ethics issues for him to start work immediately. Scaramucci never left New York.

AP FACT CHECK: Trump and his unachieved achievements

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump is taking credit for persuading TransCanada Corp. to withdraw a hefty lawsuit against the U.S. government over the previous administration's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. But the Canadian company says its bid for compensation for the stalled project is merely suspended, as it has been for weeks. Trump's account, to Republican donors Tuesday night, was one of several from the president claiming achievements that have yet to happen.

Rights of learning-disabled students bolstered by high court

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A unanimous Supreme Court has bolstered the rights of millions of learning-disabled students in a ruling that requires public schools to offer special education programs that meet higher standards. The court struck down a lower standard endorsed by President Donald Trump's nominee to the high court. Chief Justice John Roberts said that it is not enough for school districts to get by with minimal instruction for special needs children.

Latest North Carolina and South Carolina sports

HORNETS-MAGIC Hornets rally in the fourth quarter for 109-102 win ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Kemba Walker scored 22 points and Marco Belinelli came off the bench to add 20 as the Charlotte Hornets pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback to defeat the Orlando Magic 109-102 on Wednesday night. Charlotte won its third straight game and keeps its Eastern Conference playoff hopes alive after entering the night three games out of eighth place in the standings.

Here is the latest Carolinas sports news from The Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Kemba Walker scored 22 points and Marco Belinelli came off the bench to add 20 as the Charlotte Hornets pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback to defeat the Orlando Magic 109-02 last night. Charlotte won its third straight game and keeps its Eastern Conference playoff hopes alive. CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- NASCAR has suspended the crew chiefs for Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick for violations at Phoenix Raceway.

Judge blocks Louisiana law that kept refugee from marrying

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A judge presided, and the beaming couple embraced teary-eyed well-wishers when it was over. It wasn't a wedding, but it brought Viet Anh Vo and Heather Pham a bit closer to marriage. Vo is 32. He's been a Louisiana resident since he was a baby and a U.S. citizen since he was 8. But he was born in an Indonesian refugee camp after his parents fled Vietnam.

Wednesday's Sports in Brief

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Marcus Stroman took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Ian Kinsler slugged a two-run homer and the United States routed Puerto Rico 8-0 to win its first World Baseball Classic in four tries. Stroman dominated the tournament's highest-scoring team. Puerto Rico lost for the first time in eight games after outscoring the opposition 55-26. The U.S.

Chris Wondolowski thankful for call-up to national team

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Chris Wondolowski didn't have to travel far when he got the call to join the U.S. national team ahead of two key World Cup qualifiers. The U.S. will be playing Honduras on the home field of Wondolowski's San Jose Earthquakes on Friday night as the Americans look to bounce back from an 0-2 start in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

Miller and Mack still close after time together at Xavier

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Sean Miller had just been named Xavier's head basketball coach when he began meeting with athletic director Dawn Rogers about filling out his staff. Rogers had previously worked with Chris Mack, then on Skip Prosser's staff at Wake Forest, and suggested Miller consider him with the Musketeers. Miller knew nothing about Mack, but during the meticulous process of finding assistants, the Xavier alum's name kept coming up.

Tipping Off: Michigan talked Super Bowl on way to Sweet 16

When Michigan was slumping earlier in the season, the coach started thinking Super Bowl, not Final Four. John Beilein conjured up the highlight-reel catch that Patriots receiver Julian Edelman made during New England's game-tying drive in the Super Bowl, and said the Wolverines should keep that sort of play -- an outlier, as he called it -- in mind.

Day heads home as his mother faces lung cancer surgery

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Six holes into his opening match, Jason Day walked off the golf course. It was the fourth time in the last three years that he withdrew in the middle of a tournament. Only this was different. Physically, he never felt better. Emotionally, he was a wreck.

5 dead in vehicle, knife attack at British Parliament

LONDON (AP) -- A knife-wielding man went on a deadly rampage in the heart of Britain's seat of power Wednesday, plowing a car into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer to death inside the gates of Parliament. Five people were killed, including the assailant, and 40 others were injured in what Prime Minister Theresa May condemned as a "sick and depraved terrorist attack.

South Korean ferry that sank 3 years ago lifted from sea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- A 6,800-ton South Korean ferry was hoisted to the surface Thursday nearly three years after it capsized and sank into violent seas off the country's southwestern coast, an emotional moment for the country as it searches for closure to one of its deadliest disasters.

BC-AP Sports Digest

The supervisor is Dennis Waszak, followed by Fred Lief at 9 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports Photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. AP stories and accompanying photos also can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com . For reruns, call the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EDT.