AP News in Brief 05-25-19

Real estate title firm’s lapse exposes data in 885M flies

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A security lapse at a major real estate title company exposed the bank account numbers and other sensitive information contained in 885 million files.

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First American Financial confirmed the problem Friday after it was reported by the blog Krebs On Security . A flaw in an internet application allowed anyone with a web browser to see the confidential data until First American blocked all outside access Friday. It’s unclear if any of the exposed information was scooped up by outsiders with criminal intentions.

“We have hired an outside forensic firm to assure us that there has not been any meaningful unauthorized access to our customer data,” First American said in a statement.

If the 885 million records were harvested, it would rank among the biggest leaks of data on the internet.

US beefing up forces in Middle East to counter Iran

WASHINGTON — The U.S. will send hundreds of additional troops and a dozen fighter jets to the Middle East in the coming weeks to counter what the Pentagon said is an escalating campaign by Iran to plan attacks against the U.S. and its interests in the region. And for the first time, Pentagon officials on Friday publicly blamed Iran and its proxies for recent tanker bombings near United Arab Emirates and a rocket attack in Iraq.

President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the 1,500 troops would have a “mostly protective” role as part of a build-up that began this month in response to what the U.S said was a threat from Iran.

The announcement caps three weeks of elevated tensions with Iran, as the administration hurled accusations of an imminent attack and abruptly deployed Navy warships to the region. The moves alarmed members of Congress, who demanded proof and details, amid fears the U.S. was lurching toward open conflict with Iran.

Administration moves to revoke transgender health protection

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration moved Friday to revoke newly won health care discrimination protections for transgender people, the latest in a series of actions that aim to reverse gains by LGBTQ Americans in areas ranging from the military to housing and education.

The Health and Human Services Department released a proposed regulation that in effect says “gender identity” is not protected under federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination in health care. It would reverse an Obama-era policy that the Trump administration already is not enforcing.

“The actions today are part and parcel of this administration’s efforts to erase LGBTQ people from federal regulations and to undermine nondiscrimination protections across the board,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a senior attorney on health care at Lambda Legal.

From wire sources

, a civil rights organization representing LGBT people.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, said the action shows “utter contempt for the health, safety and humanity of women and transgender Americans.”

The administration also has moved to restrict military service by transgender men and women , proposed allowing certain homeless shelters to take gender identity into account in offering someone a bed for the night and concluded in a 2017 Justice Department memo that federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination at work. As one of her first policy moves, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos withdrew guidance that allowed students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

Lawsuit: Flood damage at Noah’s Ark attraction in Kentucky

WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. — In the Bible, the ark survived an epic flood. Yet the owners of Kentucky’s Noah’s ark attraction are demanding their insurance company bail them out after flooding caused nearly $1 million in property damage.

The Ark Encounter says in a federal lawsuit that heavy rains in 2017 and 2018 caused a landslide on its access road. The Courier Journal reports the attraction’s insurance carriers refused to cover the damage.

The 510-foot-long wooden ark has been a popular northern Kentucky attraction since its 2016 opening. The lawsuit says the road has been rebuilt. The ark was not damaged.

The suit names Allied World Assurance Co. Holdings of Switzerland, its use company and three other insurance carriers.

Ark Encounter seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The Swiss company hasn’t responded in court filings.

Critics worry AG will reveal Russia probe info to help Trump

WASHINGTON — Intelligence professionals warned Friday that President Donald Trump’s decision to give his loyal attorney general carte blanche to disclose still-secret material from the Russia investigation will let William Barr cherry-pick intelligence to paint a misleading picture about what started the probe.

The president claims his campaign was spied upon, though Trump administration officials have said they have no specific evidence that anything illegal was done when the campaign came under FBI surveillance that was approved by a court.

On Thursday, Trump gave Barr full authority to publicly disclose information about the origins of the investigation the president has repeatedly dismissed as a “hoax.”

“You have to get down to what happened because what happened is a tremendous blight on our country,” Trump said, adding that Barr is highly respected and will be impartial in reviewing documents.

But Trump’s critics are wary of leaving the decision of what intelligence to release — and what should remain hidden — in Barr’s hands. Barr is a staunch Trump defender who Democrats say spun special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in Trump’s favor, playing down aspects suggesting possible criminal conduct. Mueller has also complained to Barr about his handling of the release of the report.

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Wisconsin man who kidnapped Jayme Closs gets life in prison

BARRON, Wis. — A Wisconsin man was sentenced Friday to life in prison for kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents after the girl told the judge she that wanted him “locked up forever” for trying to steal her.

Jake Patterson, 21, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. He admitted he broke into Jayme’s home in October, gunned down her parents, James and Denise Closs, made off with her and held her under a bed in his remote cabin for 88 days before she made a daring escape.

Jayme didn’t appear at Patterson’s sentencing hearing Friday, but a family attorney read her first public statements about her ordeal to Judge James Babler.

“He thought that he could own me but he was wrong. I was smarter,” the statement said. “I was brave and he was not. … He thought he could make me like him, but he was wrong. … For 88 days he tried to steal me and he didn’t care who he hurt or who he killed to do that. He should be locked up forever.”

The judge called Patterson the “embodiment of evil” before sentencing him to consecutive life sentences without the possibility of release on the homicide charges. He also ordered Patterson to serve 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision on the kidnapping count.

Japan’s charm campaign ready to roll: Golf, sumo await Trump

WASHINGTON — Under the threat of potentially devastating U.S. tariffs on autos, Japan is ready to roll out the newest phase of its charm offensive targeting President Donald Trump as it welcomes him on a state visit tailor-made to his whims and ego.

Offering high honors, golf and the chance to present a “Trump Cup” at a sumo wrestling championship, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, arguably Trump’s closest friend on the world stage, will continue a years-long campaign that so far appears to have spared Japan from far more debilitating U.S. actions.

The stakes are high. U.S. tariffs could cripple Japan’s auto industry, while North Korea remains a destabilizing threat in the region. But this trip, the first of two Trump is expected to make to Japan in the next six weeks, is more of a social call meant to highlight the alliance between the countries and the friendship between their leaders.

“In the world of Donald Trump, terrible things can happen if you’re an ally, but no major blows have landed on Japan,” said Michael Green, senior vice president for Asia and Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Trump, who departed Washington for Tokyo on Friday, has the honor of being the first head of state invited to meet Emperor Naruhito since he assumed power May 1 after his father stepped down, the first abdication in about two centuries. Naruhito will welcome Trump to the Imperial Palace on Monday for a meeting and banquet in his honor.

GOP conservative temporarily blocks $19B disaster bill

WASHINGTON — A House GOP conservative blocked a long-overdue $19 billion disaster aid bill Friday, complaining it leaves out money needed to address the migrant crisis at the border and extending a tempest over hurricane and flood relief that has left the measure meandering for months.

The move came a day after the measure flew through the Senate despite a Democratic power move to strip out President Donald Trump’s $4.5 billion request for dealing with a migrant crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Texas Rep. Chip Roy, a former aide to Texas firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz, complained that it does not contain any money to address increasingly urgent border needs. “It is a bill that includes nothing to address the international emergency and humanitarian crisis we face at our southern border,” Roy said.

He also objected to speeding the measure through a nearly empty chamber, saying it was important for lawmakers to actually vote on a bill that “spends a significant amount of taxpayer money.”

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a key force behind the measure which moved through the Senate with the enthusiastic embrace of Roy’s two GOP senators, said the delays have gone on too long. Senate action came after Trump surrendered in his fight with powerful Democrats over aid to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

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