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Nation & World Briefs


Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Pence visits Western Wall amid Mideast tensions

JERUSALEM — Vice President Mike Pence placed his hand on the hallowed Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday as he wrapped up a four-day trip to the Mideast that ended with Palestinians still fuming over the Trump administration’s decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital.

On a solemn visit to the holiest site where Jews can pray, Pence tucked a small white note of prayer in the wall’s cracks after touring the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

During his first trip to the region as vice president, Pence sought to enlist the help of Arab leaders in Egypt and Jordan on the Mideast peace process and used a high-profile speech to the Knesset to reaffirm President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and accelerate plans to open a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

But Pence’s willingness to meet with Palestinian leaders — he told The Associated Press in an interview that the “door’s open” — was rebuffed by President Mahmoud Abbas, who canceled meetings last month and offered a not-so-subtle snub by overlapping with Pence in Jordan from Saturday evening until midday Sunday.

Senate approves Powell to follow Yellen as Fed chair

WASHINGTON — The Senate has approved President Donald Trump’s selection of Jerome Powell to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve beginning next month.

Senators voted 85-12 to confirm Powell to lead the nation’s central bank, a post that is considered the most powerful economic position in government.

Powell will succeed Janet Yellen, the first woman to lead the Fed, when her term ends Feb. 3. Trump decided against offering Yellen a second four-year term as chair despite widespread praise for her performance since succeeding Ben Bernanke.

Powell, 64, has served for 5½ years on the Fed’s board. A lawyer and investment manager by training, he will be the first Fed leader in 40 years without an advanced degree in economics. Many expect him to follow Yellen’s cautious approach to interest rates.

Powell, viewed as a centrist, enjoyed support from Republicans and Democrats.

Gymnast to doctor: ‘You didn’t heal me. You only hurt me’

LANSING, Mich. — A former elite gymnast said Tuesday that a sports doctor who treated Olympic athletes overlooked what turned out to be a broken leg while he molested her in the basement of his home, one of the latest victims to testify at a Michigan sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar.

Isabell Hutchins practiced for weeks at a Lansing-area gymnastics club and even competed at national events despite acute leg pain as a teen in 2011. She said Nassar did nothing to encourage her to get help and instead molested her during late-night appointments at his home.

“You were never a real doctor. You did not heal me. You only hurt me,” Hutchins told Nassar, who was seated a few feet away in the Ingham County courtroom as the sentencing phase reached a sixth day.

Nassar, 54, has admitted sexually assaulting athletes when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which is the sport’s national governing organization and trains Olympians. His accusers have described going to Nassar with injuries to their backs, pelvic, hamstrings and even ankles. They have said that he molested them under the guise that what he was doing involved legitimate medical procedures that would relieve their pain.

MPR: Allegations against Keillor far beyond single touch

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Public Radio provided additional details of allegations of sexual harassment against humorist Garrison Keillor on Tuesday, saying his alleged conduct went well beyond his account of an accidental touch of a woman’s bare back.

MPR said in a statement that Keillor was accused by a woman who worked on his “A Prairie Home Companion” radio show of dozens of sexually inappropriate incidents over several years, including requests for sexual contact and explicit sexual communications and touching.

MPR said the woman, whom it has not identified, detailed the allegations in a 12-page letter that included excerpts of emails and written messages. MPR said as it attempted to investigate the case, Keillor and his attorney refused to grant access to his computer, emails and text messages.

Keillor did not respond to an emailed request for comment. He has said in recent weeks he was in negotiations with MPR over separating the two sides’ business interests.

Schumer takes back wall offer in immigration push

WASHINGTON — Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer has taken back his offer of billions of dollars for President Donald Trump’s long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Schumer spokesman Matt House says Schumer’s office notified the White House that Friday’s offer to combine wall funding with legal protections for 700,000 younger immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Trump had rejected the offer.

Senate Democrats angered their liberal, activist political base Monday by yielding on GOP demands to reopen the government without an immigration deal.

From Associated Press