Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment:

Posted January 11


Trump blasts intelligence agencies over leak

President-elect Donald Trump is criticizing U.S. intelligence agencies over the leak of an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information on him.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that "Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to 'leak' into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?"

The tweet was part of an early morning Trump firestorm denouncing the reports, in which he said he has "nothing" to do with Russia. Various news outlets reported late Tuesday that U.S. intelligence officials briefed Trump last week on the unverified information Russia was said to have on him.

Trump insisted that the media reports were "very unfair" and payback for defeating other Republican presidential hopefuls and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"I win an election easily, a great "movement" is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS. A sorry state!"


Trump: Russia has nothing on him

President-elect Donald Trump is denouncing unsubstantiated reports that Russia had compromising secret information on him.

He tweeted Wednesday morning: "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me." In capital letters, he added: "I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!" He called the unverified report paid for by political opponents "A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE."

A few minutes earlier, he repeated Russia's denial of the reports, which he called, "Very unfair!"

A U.S. official told The Associated Press Tuesday that intelligence officials had informed Trump about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about him. The briefing about the document was first reported by CNN.

The Associated Press has not been able to substantiate the information in the dossier, which misspelled the name of Russia's largest bank.


McCain says he gave info to FBI

The Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee says he received sensitive information last year and turned it over to the FBI, an apparent reference to news that President-elect Donald Trump was told by intelligence officials about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about him.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona said in a statement Wednesday that he examined the contents of the material, was unable to make a judgment about the accuracy and delivered the information to the director of the FBI, James Comey.

McCain said: "That has been the extent of my contact with the FBI or any other government agency regarding this issue."


Engel says allegations re Russia, Trump 'scary'

The top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee says allegations that Russia has collected damaging personal and financial information on Donald Trump "shakes our democracy to its very core" and should be investigated by Congress.

In a brief interview, New York Rep. Eliot Engel says if the unsubstantiated charges that the Russians have compromising material on the president-elect are true, "It's a scary thing to have Putin in the driver's seat."

Trump and a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin have denied the allegations.

Engel says Trump needs to "come clean." He says simply denying the charges is insufficient and says Trump must "tell us everything he knows."

A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Tuesday that intelligence officials told Trump last week about the unproven report.


UPDATE: Tillerson says Putin would have known of hacking

Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, says it's a "fair assumption" Russian President Vladimir Putin knew about Moscow's meddling in America's 2016 presidential election.

Tillerson is telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he's not privy to the detailed intelligence about Russia's hacking. But he says he read the declassified report released last week about Russia's interference.

Tillerson says in response to a question from Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, he would not describe Putin as a "war criminal."

Rubio says Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and bombing in Aleppo should not make it hard to say that Putin is responsible for war crimes.

Rubio has said he has "serious concerns" about Tillerson as America's top diplomat.


NEW: Tillerson: Sanctions can disrupt busineses

Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, says sanctions can be a "powerful tool" but they disrupt American businesses.

The CEO of ExxonMobil opposed sanctions levied on Moscow following its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The penalties cost the energy giant hundreds of millions of dollars.

He also has spoken of his general opposition to sanctions.

On Wednesday, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "The fact is, sanctions, in order to be implemented, impact American business."

Tillerson also said he never personally lobbied against sanctions and neither, to his knowledge, did his company.


$1 million TV ad praises GOP health overhaul

A group allied with House Republican leaders says it is spending $1 million for a TV ad praising GOP efforts to replace President Barack Obama's health care overhaul with "a new path forward."

Repealing Obama's law is Republicans' major legislative initiative this year.

The American Action Network was presenting the ad nationally during a "town hall" with House Speaker Paul Ryan on CNN Thursday. It will also be broadcast this month in the districts of 10 House Republicans who won tight 2016 elections and five other senior GOP lawmakers.

The ad features soft-focus shots of happy families and never mentions Obama's name.

The announcer says Republicans will provide "more choices and better care at lower costs" without "disrupting existing coverage."

She says, "House Republicans have a plan to get there."


US report: Afghan forces not yet capable of securing country

A U.S. report says that Afghanistan needs a stable security environment to prevent it from again becoming a safe haven for al-Qaida and other militants.

The report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says Afghan security forces have not yet become capable of securing all of Afghanistan by themselves. The report, which provides a high-risk list by SIGAR, was released on Wednesday.

SIGAR, which gives independent oversight of U.S. reconstruction funds for Afghanistan, also noted that despite the fact that more than half of all U.S. reconstruction funds since 2002 have gone toward building, equipping and training Afghan forces, they still have lost territory to the Taliban.

SIGAR also says Afghanistan is still plagued by corruption and drug trafficking.


Opposition: Airstrikes hit near Syrian capital despite truce

An opposition monitoring group and rescue workers say airstrikes have resumed in a Damascus suburb despite a Russian-Turkish cease-fire in Syria, killing at least one woman and injuring several others.

At least six airstrikes Wednesday hit villages in al-Marj in the eastern Ghouta suburb, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syrian Civil Defense in Damascus suburbs. Since the cease-fire came into effect on Dec. 30, fighting has raged in the area as government troops attempted to gain ground. The Observatory says it was the first time airstrikes were launched there, but it was not clear who carried them out.

Fighting has raged in and around Damascus since the cease-fire, including in the water-rich Barada Valley. The government and opposition groups exchanged blame for violating the truce.


UPDATE: Church shooting survivor kept bloodstained Bible

The woman whom Dylann Roof spared after killing nine people to tell the world the slaughter was because he hated blacks says she still holds on to the torn, bloodstained Bible she had that night.

Felicia Sanders said at Roof's formal sentencing hearing Wednesday that she forgave Roof because that was the easiest thing to do. But she said Roof has done nothing to help himself.

Sanders says she can't even close her eyes to pray because Roof started his shooting as Emanuel AME church members held their closing prayer.

Roof did not look at any of the family members, even one who demanded he look in his direction.

Roof will have a chance to speak later in the hearing.


2 in custody after shooting at officers in Tampa's Ybor City

Police say two people are in custody after firing a gun at several officers in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood.

The shooting happened late Tuesday after reports of a car break-in outside a home.

Police tell local news outlets that officers confronted three suspects about a block away. That's when one of the suspects began shooting at the officers. The suspects fled on foot and the officers didn't return fire.

A helicopter and K9 unit helped track down two of the suspects. A search continues for the third and an investigation is ongoing.

The names of the suspects in custody haven't been released.

The race of the officer and the suspects wasn't immediately available.


Stocks are little changed in early trade

Stocks are getting off to a mixed start on Wall Street as investors look ahead to the start of corporate earnings reports later this week.

Health care and utilities stocks are higher in early trading Wednesday, but banks and phone companies fell.

Drugmaker Merck jumped 5 percent on news that regulators will do a quick review of one of its cancer drugs.

Big U.S. companies start reporting fourth-quarter earnings this week. On Friday JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America release their results.


UPDATE: Sierra Nevada blizzard warning set to expire

A rare blizzard warning for parts of the Sierra is set to expire at 10 a.m. Wednesday as the heaviest part of the storm has passed.

Tony Fuentes, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Reno, Nevada, urged caution, however, as snow will continue to fall throughout Wednesday and conditions remain hazardous.

Forecasters had warned of up to 10 feet of snow in the highest mountains, with up to 7 feet of snow around the resorts of Lake Tahoe.

Many ski resorts shut down Tuesday because of the storm.

Some ski resorts will stay closed Wednesday, including Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, which has no power due to the storm.

The resort posted on Facebook that it had received more than 3 feet of snow in the last 24 hours.


Jon and Tracey Stewart's animal sanctuary gets key approval

Former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart and his wife have received a key approval to open an animal sanctuary in New Jersey.

The Colts Neck planning board approved preliminary plans for the 45-acre farm that will be the home of animals saved from slaughterhouses, roadsides and live markets.

Tracey Stewart says Tuesday night's approval means the farm should open by 2018. It will include afterschool programs and be open for student trips and lectures for adults.

Jon Stewart says he wants the community to be invested in the project and to love it.

The farm still needs to be approved by a county planning board and the state Department of Environmental Protection.


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