Hong Kong leader's race pits Beijing's pick vs 'Uncle Chips'

HONG KONG (AP) -- Hong Kong's next leader will be chosen Sunday by an election committee stacked with pro-Beijing elites who heed the wishes of China's communist leaders rather than the semiautonomous region's voters. The candidates are front-runner Carrie Lam, a career civil servant who is widely seen as Beijing's favorite, chief rival John Tsang and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

The Latest: North Carolina lawmakers override Cooper's veto

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Latest on efforts by the North Carolina General Assembly to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of a judicial elections bill (all times local): 12:30 p.m. The Republican-controlled General Assembly has officially cancelled Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's first veto, meaning elections for local trial judges will become officially partisan again starting next year. The Senate completed the veto override Thursday, one day after the House held a similar vote.

Override of N Carolina governor's first veto complete

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature on Thursday overrode Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of a bill that makes local judicial elections officially partisan races again. The Senate completed the override of Cooper's veto -- his first as governor -- one day after the House voted to do the same.

North Carolina editorial roundup

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers: ___ March 21 The News & Observer of Raleigh on "dark money" fundraising If you can't beat 'em, join 'em apparently is the new mantra for those of the Democratic political persuasion, who now are adopting tried-and-true methods of money-for-access fundraising by Republicans. It's not good and it frankly does not reflect well on Gov. Roy Cooper and his supporters.

The Latest: House votes to override Cooper's first veto

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Latest on the possible override of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto that would return Superior Court and District Court elections to become officially partisan races (all times local): 3:05 p.m. One chamber of the North Carolina legislature has agreed to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's first veto of a Republican measure that makes local trial court elections officially partisan again.

Override of North Carolina governor's 1st veto halfway done

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina Republican legislators neared canceling new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of a measure that makes local trial court elections officially partisan again, after enough House members agreed Wednesday to override it. The GOP-controlled chamber voted 74-44 to overturn the Cooper's first veto, issued last week. The number of "yes" votes exceeded the constitutional requirement of a three-fifths majority by a few votes.

High court nominee: I'll be unbiased or 'hang up the robe'

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch pledged to be independent or "hang up the robe" as the U.S. Senate began rancorous hearings Monday on President Donald Trump's conservative pick to fill a Supreme Court seat that has been vacant for more than a year. Gorsuch sought to take the edge off Democratic complaints that he has favored the wealthy and powerful in more than 10 years as a federal judge.

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TILLERSON-ASIA North Korea, South China Sea on Tillerson agenda in Beijing BEIJING (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has arrived in Beijing for his first face-to-face talks with Chinese leaders expected to focus on North Korea's nuclear program, trade and South China Sea territorial disputes.

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TRUMP-MERKEL Trump says allies 'must pay what they owe' WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump says he told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he has "strong support" for NATO but that allies "must pay what they owe." Trump, making his first appearance with Merkel, opened their White House news conference Friday by saying that "many nations owe vast sums of money" and that situation is "very unfair to the United States.

The Latest: Governor vetoes partisan trial court elections

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Latest on a showdown between North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican legislators over judicial elections and appointments (all times local): 4:40 p.m. North Carolina's new Democratic governor has vetoed legislation by the state's GOP-controlled legislature to make the state's trial court judges appear with party labels on election ballots. Gov. Roy Cooper says partisan politics has no place in electing judges who people want to be fair and impartial.

NC Gov. vetoes GOP bill to make judicial elections partisan

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a measure to make elections for local trial judges officially partisan races again. "North Carolina wants its judges to be fair and impartial, and partisan politics has no place on the judges' bench. We need less politics, not more," Cooper wrote Thursday in his veto message , his first since taking office.

South Korea's president formally ousted by court

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- In a historic, unanimous ruling Friday, South Korea's Constitutional Court formally removed impeached President Park Geun-hye from office over a corruption scandal that has plunged the country into political turmoil and worsened an already-serious national divide.

The Latest: Bill for partisan court elections gets final OK

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Latest on the North Carolina House considering bills addressing judicial appointments and the Court of Appeals (all times local): 2:55 p.m. The North Carolina General Assembly has given final approval to Republican legislation that would make elections for local court judgeships officially partisan races again.

North Carolina: governor, legislature flex muscles in court

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A panel of North Carolina judges appeared skeptical Tuesday that Republican legislators acted constitutionally by suddenly adopting a series of new laws undercutting the governor's authority two weeks before the Democrat took over. The three-judge panel spent five hours listening to lawyers for Gov. Roy Cooper and the state's legislative leaders. The judges directed most of their questions at attorneys for state House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger.

Bill making trial court races partisan again clears Senate

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The North Carolina General Assembly is one vote from sending to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper a measure that would make elections for local court judgeships officially partisan races again, two decades after the first party labels were removed from candidates' names. The Republican-controlled state Senate voted largely along partisan lines Monday night to again require that local Superior Court and District Court judgeships be subject to party primaries starting in 2018.

Sessions' path to remake Justice Department may be clearer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The political cloud over Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to step back from any investigation touching the Trump campaign may have a silver lining for a law enforcement officer who appears preoccupied by violent crime, drugs and immigration. Now that Sessions will no longer oversee any investigation into the 2016 election, his path to continue a refashioning of the Justice Department may be even clearer.

Texas court hears case that could dent gay marriage right

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a Houston case that top Republicans hope will provide an opening to chip away at the landmark 2015 ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide. A coalition of religious and social conservatives sued America's fourth-largest city in 2013, challenging its decision to offer same-sex spousal benefits to municipal employees.

Fillon vows to stay in French race amid defections

PARIS (AP) -- The French presidential campaign lurched across another speedbump Wednesday as conservative candidate Francois Fillon defiantly vowed to stay in the race despite being notified that he may face preliminary corruption charges in two weeks. The spring election to replace unpopular Socialist President Francois Hollande has been like no other, strewn with surprises and besmirched with corruption allegations against Fillon and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front.

Q&A: What next in the long battle over Texas voter ID law?

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- President Donald Trump's administration has abandoned an Obama-era challenge to a 2011 Texas voter ID law that is among the toughest in the nation. Civil rights groups are still contesting the Texas law in federal court, but without the muscle of the federal government behind them. Here are answers to key questions about the case so far-- and where it goes from here.