Huffman, 12 other parents to plead guilty in college scheme
BOSTON (AP) — "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman and a dozen other prominent parents have agreed to plead guilty in the college admissions bribery scam that ensnared wealthy families and athletic coaches at some of the nation's most selective universities, federal authorities said Monday.
The actress and the other parents were charged last month in the scheme, which authorities say involved rigging standardized test scores and bribing coaches at such prestigious schools as Yale and Georgetown.
Huffman, 56, was accused of paying a consultant $15,000 disguised as a charitable donation to boost her daughter's SAT score. Authorities say the actress also discussed going through with the same plan for her younger daughter but ultimately decided not to.
She will plead guilty to conspiracy and fraud, according to court documents. Those charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but the plea agreement indicates prosecutors will seek a sentence of four to 10 months.
Experts have said they expect some parents will avoid prison time if they quickly accept responsibility. All of the defendants will have to return to Boston to enter formal guilty pleas, but no new court dates were set.
Shake-up at Homeland Security speeds beyond Nielsen's exit
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and White House allies pressing for a harder line on immigration sped their campaign Monday to clean house at the Department of Homeland Security with a mission far wider than just the departure of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
The dismantling of the government's immigration leadership is being orchestrated by Trump adviser Stephen Miller, the impetus behind some of the administration's most controversial policies, according to three people familiar with the matter. Beyond changing names and faces, Trump is considering separating migrant families at the border again, resuming the practice that drew so much fury and outrage last year, the same people said.
The head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, L. Francis Cissna, and Homeland Security General Counsel John M. Mitnick are expected to be pushed out of their positions, the officials said. Nielsen submitted her resignation Sunday after meeting with Trump at the White House, and three days earlier the administration withdrew the nomination of Ron Vitiello to lead Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Other longtime civil servants in agency posts are also on the chopping block, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Leading senators from both parties deplored it all.
"The purge of senior leadership at the Department of Homeland Security is unprecedented and a threat to our national security," declared Democrat Dianne Feinstein. "President Trump is trying to remake DHS into his own personal anti-immigration agency."
Vaccines blocked as deadly cholera raged across Yemen
ADEN, Yemen (AP) — In the summer of 2017, a plane chartered by the United Nations idled on the tarmac at an airport in the Horn of Africa as officials waited for final clearance to deliver half a million doses of cholera vaccine to Yemen. Amid the country's ruinous war, the disease was spiraling out of control, with thousands of new cases reported each day.
The green light for the plane to head to northern Yemen never came. The U.N. wasn't able to distribute cholera vaccines to Yemen until May 2018 and the outbreak ultimately produced more than 1 million suspected cholera cases — the worst cholera epidemic recorded in modern times and a calamity that medical researchers say may have been avoided if vaccines had been deployed sooner.
U.N. officials blamed the canceled flight on the difficulties in distributing vaccines during an armed conflict. But officials with knowledge of the episode told The Associated Press that the real reason was that the Houthi rebels who control northern Yemen refused to allow the vaccines to be delivered, after spending months demanding that the U.N. send ambulances and other medical equipment for their military forces as a condition for accepting the shipment.
The cancellation of the shipment was just one of the setbacks that aid agencies faced in battling the cholera epidemic, which has killed nearly 3,000 Yemenis.
Relief workers and government officials said they have seen repeated indications that insiders in both the Houthi government in the north and the U.S.-backed government in the south have skimmed off money and supplies for cholera vaccination and treatment and sold them on the black market. In some cases, treatment centers for people who had contracted cholera existed only on paper even though the U.N. had disbursed money to bankroll their operations, according to two aid officials familiar with the centers.
'Smallville' actress pleads guilty in sex-trafficking case
NEW YORK (AP) — TV actress Allison Mack pleaded guilty Monday to charges she was involved in a scheme to turn women into sex slaves for the spiritual leader of a cult-like upstate New York group, a development that came on the same day jury selection began for a federal trial in the case.
Mack, 36, wept as she admitted her crimes and apologized to the women who prosecutors say were exploited by Keith Raniere and the purported self-help group called NXIVM.
"I believed Keith Raniere's intentions were to help people, and I was wrong," Mack told a Brooklyn judge.
Mack - best known for her role as a young Superman's close friend on the series "Smallville" - said that after months of reflection since her arrest, "I know I can and will be a better person."
The actress is to be sentenced Sept. 11 on two racketeering counts that each carry maximum terms of 20 years in prison. However, it's likely she would face far less time under sentencing guidelines.
3 American soldiers, 1 US contractor killed in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Three American service members and a U.S. contractor were killed when their convoy hit a roadside bomb on Monday near the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, the U.S. forces said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
The U.S. and NATO Resolute Support mission said the four Americans were killed near the Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, while three others were wounded in the explosion. The base in Bagram district is located in northern Parwan province and serves as the main U.S. air facility in the country.
The wounded were evacuated and are receiving medical care, the statement said. It added that in accordance with U.S. Department of Defense policy, the names of service members killed in action were being withheld until after the notification of next of kin.
In their claim of responsibility, the Taliban said they launched the attack and that one of their suicide bombers detonated his explosives-laden vehicle near the NATO base. The conflicting accounts could not be immediately reconciled.
The fatalities, which bring to seven the number of U.S. soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, underscore the difficulties in bringing peace to the war-wrecked country even as Washington has stepped up efforts to find a way to end the 17-year war, America's longest.
New Homeland Security chief has worked across party lines
EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Kirstjen Nielsen's replacement as Homeland Security secretary was practicing law in California when hijacked jets struck the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. That night, he applied for a job with the FBI.
"I was trying to pay off student loans and then go for a federal career but decided it couldn't wait," Kevin McAleenan told The Associated Press in 2017.
Robert C. Bonner, the new head of what was then called the U.S. Customs Service, got to McAleenan before the FBI and asked him to move to Washington to help set up an anti-terrorism office. A series of promotions over the next 18 years at what is now called Customs and Border Protection culminated Sunday when President Donald Trump named McAleenan to serve as acting Homeland Security security, when Nielsen leaves office later this week.
It is in some ways an unusual choice. Trump and his supporters have railed against both Obama administration policies and career government officials. But in picking McAleenan, Trump will have as his point person on politically charged border issues someone who served as a top Obama administration immigration official, in addition to serving under President George W. Bush.
Yet McAleenan appears to have endeared himself to Trump, who tweeted Sunday "I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!" While avoiding fire-breathing ideological rhetoric and keeping a relatively low profile, McAleenan played a critical role executing some of Trump's most controversial policies. As Customs and Border Protection commissioner, he helped put in practice a "zero tolerance" policy on illegal entries that caused thousands of children to be separated from their families at the border. He also oversaw the rapid spread of a practice to limit the number of asylum seekers who can enter the country at border crossings with Mexico, which he blames on processing constraints.
Libya clashes over Tripoli escalate as city's airport is hit
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — Clashes between rival Libyan forces for control of Tripoli escalated on Monday as the death toll from days of fighting rose to at least 51, including both combatants and civilians, and the city's only functioning airport said it was hit by an airstrike.
The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Khalifa Hifter who last week launched the push on Tripoli, acknowledged striking the Mitiga airport, barely 8 kilometers (5 miles) east of the city center.
Hifter's forces have clashed with rival militias which support the U.N.-backed government that controls Tripoli and the western part of the country. The escalation has threatened to plunge the fractured North African nation deeper into chaos and ignite civil war on the scale of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The U.N. said the latest fighting has displaced some 3,400 people and blocked emergency services from reaching casualties and civilians.
The World Health Organization said two doctors were killed trying to "evacuate wounded patients from conflict areas."
AP Explains: Long reach of Iran's Revolutionary Guard
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran's Revolutionary Guard, designated a "foreign terrorist organization" by the Trump administration on Monday, evolved from a paramilitary, domestic security force with origins in the 1979 Islamic Revolution to a transnational force that has come to the aid of Tehran's allies in the Mideast, from Syria and Lebanon to Iraq.
The force answers only to Iran's supreme leader, operates independently of the regular military and has vast economic interests across the country.
Here are key things to know about the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC:
The Revolutionary Guard was created in parallel to the country's existing armed forces to consolidate power under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Big Tech feels the heat as US moves to protect consumer data
WASHINGTON (AP) — Momentum is gaining in Washington for a privacy law that could sharply rein in the ability of the largest technology companies to collect and make money off people's personal data.
A national law, the first of its kind in the U.S., could allow people to see or prohibit the use of their data. Companies would need permission to release such information. If it takes effect, a law would also likely shrink Big Tech's profits from its lucrative business of making personal data available to advertisers so they can pinpoint specific consumers to target.
Behind the drive for a law is rising concern over the compromise of private data held by Facebook, Google and other tech giants that have earned riches by aggregating consumer information. The industry traditionally has been lightly regulated and has resisted closer oversight as a threat to its culture of free-wheeling innovation.
Support for a privacy law is part of a broader effort by regulators and lawmakers to lessen the domination of companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon. Some, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, have called for the tech giants to be split up.
The Trump White House has said in the past that it could endorse a broad data privacy law.
Secret Service head Alles leaving, career official tapped
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles is leaving the Trump administration, the White House said, amid a shake-up in the upper echelon of the Department of Homeland Security.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump has selected career Secret Service official James Murray to lead the agency, saying he will assume the role next month. She added Alles will be "leaving shortly," though the agency later said he would leave in May.
Alles' departure stems from a personality conflict within the agency, three officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the personnel matter. The officials said it was unrelated to the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and a recent security breach at the president's private club in Florida.
Still, it comes amid a spate of turnover across DHS that began last week when Trump withdrew his Immigration and Customs Enforcement director's nomination to stay on permanently.
After Nielsen's departure, an empowered Stephen Miller, the immigration hawk White House senior adviser, is also eyeing the removal of Lee Francis Cissna, according to two of the people. Cissna is director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which runs the legal immigration system.