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    The difference between Apple's new iPhone models is a bit like flying first class compared with coach. We envy first class, but coach gets us there without breaking the budget. The iPhone 8 will do just fine for $300 less than the glitzy iPhone X , even though it won't make your friends and colleagues jealous. It's also available much sooner — this Friday — starting at almost $700. The X (read as the numeral 10) won't be out until November. Still, the iPhone 8 remains a fairly straightforward update of the iPhone 7 , which itself was a fairly straightforward update of the iPhone 6S. Then again, no one expects much different from a coach seat. WHAT YOU'RE NOT GETTING It's hard to talk about the iPhone 8 without comparing it to my 15 minutes with the iPhone X last Tuesday. The X wowed with a fancy new display that flows to the edges of the phone. The phone is compact, yet features a screen slightly larger than the one on the supersized iPhone 8 Plus. The X also features facial recognition that lets you unlock the phone with a glance; you can also create animated emojis that match your facial expressions. The 8 has none of that, although it does share other new goodies the X is getting, including wireless charging. The 8 and the X both have faster processors and sensors to enhance graphics in augmented reality, a blending of the virtual and physical worlds, though older iPhones will also run AR apps with a software update Tuesday. WIRELESS CHARGING Apple is embraces wireless-charging technology that Android phones have had for years. It's a rare case in which Apple isn't going its own way; instead, it's adopting an existing standard called Qi (pronounced chee). That means the iPhone gets all the technical advancements from the consortium behind Qi — and can take immediate advantage of a slew of public wireless-charging stations. It worked perfectly for me while waiting for a connecting flight in Los Angeles — no need to rummage through my backpack for a charging cord. Apple says the wireless system should charge as quickly as the wall adapter included with iPhones. But I found wireless slower in testing, using a Belkin charger with the same power output as the iPhone charger. Wireless charging is largely about convenience; it's terrific if you can just drop your phone on a charging pad overnight or during the day at your desk. Apple says it will boost wireless-charging power by 50 percent in coming months, which will speed things up further. But those in a rush should consider a wall charger that comes with the iPad, which will still be even faster. In a way, wireless charging makes up for Apple's earlier decision to ditch the headphone jack in the iPhone 7, which made people share the Lightning port with both charging cords and wired headphones. You can now charge and use wired headphones at the same time. DISPLAY Colors on the 8's screen adapt to lighting in the room. It's noticeable in my apartment at night, as artificial lighting tends to be warmer and more yellowish. The screen adapts by making whites more like beige and yellow even yellower. It's softer on the eyes and mimics how light glows on white paper, though it can make images appear less natural. You can turn this feature off. Resolution isn't as sharp as what the X and many rival Android phones offer. The Plus offers enough pixels for high-definition video at the highest quality, 1080p, while the regular model is comparable to the lesser 720p. CAMERA New color filters produce truer and richer colors without looking fake, while a new flash technique tries to light the foreground and background more evenly. You have to know to look, as the iPhone 7 already had a great camera. Differences in test shots taken while sightseeing in Poland were subtle, but noticeable — more so on the iPhone 8 screen than on last year's Mac. The iPhone 8 also offers additional video options, including recording of ultra-high definition, or 4K, at 60 frames per second, twice the previous rate. (The phone's display, though, isn't sharp enough for 4K.) A second lens in the 7 Plus and 8 Plus models lets the camera gauge depth and blur backgrounds in portrait shots, something once limited to full-featured SLR cameras. Samsung adopted that feature in this year's Note 8 . Coming to the 8 Plus are filters to mimic studio and other lighting conditions. My favorite, stage light, highlights the subject's face and darkens the background. Some of these filters make images look fake — Apple has slapped a 'beta' test tag to signal it's not flawless. You can try them out and undo any changes you don't like. DESIGN To make wireless charging work, the 8 features a glass back, something last seen in the iPhone 4S in 2011. Aesthetic considerations aside, this gives you another sheet of glass to break. Apple says custom glass from Corning makes the phone stronger. Even so, consider a service plan and get a case. Wireless charging works with most cases, as long as there's no metal or magnets. I found the phone charged just as fast with the case on. ABOUT THAT PRICE TAG The iPhone 8 is about $50 more than what the iPhone 7 cost at launch. Samsung has similarly increased the prices of its flagship Galaxy phones, and the S8 still outsold last year's S7. Consumers seem willing to pay. You do get double the storage — 64 gigabytes — at that price, a value considering that iPhone storage boosts typically cost $100. You'll need that extra storage for video, apps and fancy features such as AR and animated photos. Nonetheless, I would have preferred the option of a cheaper, lower-storage version. For that, you need an older model , such as the $549 iPhone 7 and the $449 6S. There's also the smaller iPhone SE for $349.
  • When a former police officer was acquitted in the fatal shooting of a black suspect, protesters vowed to show their disdain by disrupting business in downtown St. Louis. They quickly succeeded. The unrest that followed Friday's ruling closed large corporate offices, shut down restaurants and bars and even forced U2 to call off a concert that would have drawn 50,000 fans into the heart of the city. And protest organizers may not be done. The demonstrations engulfed the St. Louis region after a judge acquitted Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. Within hours, downtown came to a standstill as marching protesters blocked traffic. The demonstrations went on through the weekend, with protest crowds swelling to thousands of people and spilling into a posh area of restaurants and bars in western St. Louis, the hip Delmar Loop area of nearby University City and even into two shopping malls. More than 140 people were arrested. The protests forced U2 to cancel a concert at the Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis' largest venue. Police said they could not provide normal protection because of the unrest, the band and concert promoter Live Nation said in a statement. Singer Ed Sheeran also called off a show. The St. Louis Symphony and a Shakespearean Theatre group canceled performances, too. Democratic state Rep. Bruce Franks, a protest organizer, said making the entire community uncomfortable is an important part of the demonstrations. Franks said protests would continue, but he did not say when or where. 'Folks got to pay attention, right?' Franks said Monday. 'Do we just say, 'Oh, it's another case where an officer's found not guilty and leave it at that'? No, we get out here and disrupt and make our presence felt.' Joe Reagan, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce, said it's too early to put a dollar amount on the economic cost. 'But in the long term, there are greater economic impacts from the racial disparity and the mistrust many have in the criminal justice system,' Reagan said. 'This is not new to St. Louis or unique to St. Louis, but this is a challenge.' Many business owners are dealing with more than lost time or canceled events. Police said nearly two dozen businesses were damaged Saturday night in University City, mostly by having their windows broken. On Sunday, more windows were broken in downtown St. Louis, and several large decorative pots with plants were smashed. Chris Rubin de la Borbolla, owner of a clothing, jewelry and accessories store in University City, said his broken window will probably cost him at least $2,000. Damage to merchandise will cost him about $2,000 more. Joe Edwards, owner of the Blueberry Hill restaurant and concert venue and many other Delmar Loop businesses, said he was particularly frustrated because much of the damage occurred at businesses owned by minorities. 'Forty-five years ago, this street was in great decline and by embracing diversity we overcame it,' said Edwards, who is white. 'Whoever threw rocks doesn't care. They just want anarchy.' But Edwards said it was heartwarming Sunday when artists from around the region turned out to transform the plywood covering broken windows into art. Restaurants and shops were busy with people who 'came in to shop and show support,' he said. Protests resumed for the fourth straight day just after dawn Monday. A racially mixed crowd of roughly 150 people marched silently to City Hall for a rally, then to a city court building for another. Police did not intervene. On Monday night, demonstrators gathered outside the jail in downtown St. Louis for more than two hours to show solidarity with those who remained behind bars after being arrested on Sunday. It was a far cry from the scene hours earlier, when a small crowd left over from an earlier peaceful protest marched into downtown late Sunday. Once they started breaking windows and throwing things at officers, police reinforcements quickly emerged and protesters scattered. For the next several hours, hundreds of officers in riot gear lined downtown streets. More than 80 people were arrested, including onlookers who refused orders to disperse. Among those arrested was reporter Mike Faulk of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, according to the newspaper. The cause for the escalation was not clear. Protesters blamed police for showing up in riot gear. Police said demonstrators began throwing things at them. One officer suffered a leg injury and was taken to a hospital. His condition wasn't known. 'I'm proud to tell you the city of St. Louis is safe and the police owned tonight,' interim Police Chief Lawrence O'Toole said in an early morning video posted on Twitter. The Sunday night unrest followed a pattern familiar since the protests in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown. Raucous but peaceful protests dominate during the daytime and early evening, giving way to much small but more confrontational demonstrations at night. 'The days have been calm and the nights have been destructive,' Mayor Lyda Krewson said as she stood with O'Toole on the Twitter video. ___ Associated Press writer Summer Ballentine contributed to this report.
  • A small earthquake with an epicenter just outside Los Angeles has gotten people in southern California talking on social media. The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude-3.6 quake hit at about 11:20 Monday night. Its epicenter was about 3.6 miles (6 kilometers) northwest of Westwood. While the quake wasn't big enough to cause much damage, the USGS says dozens of people reported feeling the tremor. Some earthquake-hardened veterans commented on Twitter, including some in Hollywood. Actor Josh Gad joked that he probably should have checked on his kids, but he scrolled through Twitter instead. Former CBS 'Late Late Show' host Craig Ferguson quipped that the rumble had him 'sitting up in bed with an automatic weapon waiting for zombies.' The quake was a trending topic on the platform early Tuesday.
  • Belgian regional authorities say an intact German World War I submarine has been found off the coast of Belgium and contains the bodies of 23 people. Western Flanders Governor Carl Decaluwe told The Associated Press Tuesday that the find on the floor of the North Sea 'is very unique.' He said the 'impact damage was at the front but the submarine remains closed, and there are 23 people still onboard.' Decaluwe said the U-boat was found by researchers. He declined to provide details about its location until the site has been protected. He also said he had contacted the German ambassador because 'there are people on board and we need to see what can do' with their remains.
  • They told us we'd only be here for six days, and that was six years ago,' Ramadan Wani says. Anxiously rubbing his hands together, the 46-year-old sits hunched on a makeshift stool in his tattered house in Payuer, a displaced persons' camp in South Sudan's border town of Renk. He hasn't seen his family in all that time. He is one of several hundred who have become stranded because of their attachment to their belongings. They are waiting to be transported, with their baggage, a resettlement option that dried up long ago. When South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, Wani was one of 68,000 people who returned from Sudan in hopes of starting a new life in the world's youngest nation. Aided by the United Nations and South Sudan's government, he was relocated to Renk, where he was told he'd be transported to his hometown of Yambio along the border with Congo — on the other side of the country. 'I was so happy that we were separate countries,' says Wani, who had been living in Sudan for more than three decades. 'I wanted to go home.' But South Sudan's civil war, which erupted in 2013, created the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis. Wani and hundreds of others like him are perhaps the conflict's most unusual displaced population. The Payuer camp is home to nearly 2,000 people, the majority of them stranded since the start of the fighting after arriving from Sudan. Six years ago, Wani's wife and three children joined over 12,000 people who were flown by the U.N. from Sudan's capital, Khartoum, to South Sudan's capital, Juba. Because they were unable to carry their luggage on the plane, Wani traveled by land across the border to Renk with the family's belongings. He says South Sudan's government assured him he soon would be transported by barge down the Nile and reunited with his family. But days turned into weeks and weeks into months, and when fighting erupted in December 2013 between President Salva Kiir's government soldiers and forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, the transports stopped entirely. Roads between Renk and Juba are too dangerous to travel, and the few flights are too expensive. 'Unfortunately the outbreak of the crisis in December 2013 also drew on resources from continuing returnee operations,' says Ashley McLaughlin, communications officer for the U.N. migration agency. As humanitarian needs grew across the country, McLaughlin says financial support for onward transportation assistance 'sharply diminished.' Those stranded in Renk were faced with a choice: Give up your possessions and leave, or remain and wait for peace. 'I couldn't leave my things,' Wani says. 'It's all we had.' During a visit by the AP in August, piles of metal chairs, ripped suitcases, broken radios and stained wooden shelves littered the dirt paths in Payuer camp. Desperate families used spare furniture to clog leaky roofs, while others fortified the walls of their homes with bed frames. 'Had I known I wouldn't have been able to take my luggage, I would have sold it,' says Anania Lojang Loku, chairman of Payuer camp. In 2012, Loku was told that he would be in Renk for just three days before being transferred to Juba to join his family. Five years later, he says he doubts he'll ever see his wife and four children again. Charged with looking after the luggage of eight relatives, he says he's trapped. 'People still call to ask how their luggage is doing,' Loku says, pointing to a mound of ripped sofa cushions and kitchen utensils collecting dust behind his house. South Sudan's government says it is trying to find a way to send people home, but admits that it's not a priority. 'It's not happening,' says Zplon Akok, the head of the government's humanitarian arm in Renk. He believes the government wants to help but says it's a struggle due to lack of funds and the country's humanitarian crisis. In the meantime, those in the camps say they feel abandoned. In February, the U.N. migration agency closed its clinic in Payuer, leaving people to walk 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to the nearest hospital. Disease is rife and locals say that more than 10 children have died from malaria in the past six months. 'I have no feeling anymore,' Loku says, tucking both arms between his legs. 'Everyone just sits here. We just sit here, staying sad.
  • 1. HURRICANE MARIA PUMMELS DOMINICA The small island is lashed with catastrophic Category 5 winds as the storm begins a charge into the hurricane-devastated eastern Caribbean with Puerto Rico in its sights. 2. WHAT ARE HOT-BUTTON ISSUES AT UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY The nuclear threat in North Korea, the plight of Myanmar's minority Muslims, the spread of terrorism and the impact of climate change will dominate discussions. 3. WHAT SUU KYI IS SAYING ABOUT ROHINGYA MUSLIMS' PLIGHT Myanmar's leader defends her country, insists they do not fear international scrutiny and invites diplomats to see some areas for themselves; refugees say she is a 'liar.' 4. 'FREE OUR PEOPLE' People protesting the acquittal of a white former police officer in the killing of a black suspect chant outside the jail in St. Louis to show solidarity with those who remain behind bars. 5. WHERE DISPLACED HAITIANS ARE THRIVING In Tijuana, Mexico, they are opening restaurants, filling factory jobs and having an outsize economic and cultural impact. 6. GEORGIA TECH CAMPUS SCENE OF UNREST Three people are arrested during a protest after a vigil for a student who was fatally shot by university police. 7. TOYS R US FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION The pioneering big box toy retailer files for Chapter 11 reorganization while continuing with normal business operations. 8. FACEBOOK MAY BE FACING AN 'ERA OF ACCOUNTABILITY' The world's biggest social network is facing questions from lawmakers and others seeking to rein in its enormous power and demand more transparency. 9. WHO IS MOST DANGEROUS CELEB ON THE WEB Cybersecurity firm McAfee says one-time pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne is the most likely celebrity to land users on websites that carry viruses or malware. 10. MATTHEW STAFFORD KEEPS LIONS ROLLING The NFL's highest paid player scrambles to frustrate the New York Giants' defense and throws two third-down touchdown passes in Detroit's 24-10 victory.
  • Republican governors are getting into the 'news' business. The Republican Governors Association has quietly launched an online publication that looks like a media outlet and is branded as such on social media. The Free Telegraph blares headlines about the virtues of GOP governors, while framing Democrats negatively. It asks readers to sign up for breaking news alerts. It launched in the summer bearing no acknowledgement that it was a product of an official party committee whose sole purpose is to get more Republicans elected. Only after The Associated Press inquired about the site last week was a disclosure added to The Free Telegraph's pages identifying the publication's partisan source. The governors association describes the website as routine political communication. Critics, including some Republicans, say it pushes the limits of honest campaign tactics in an era of increasingly partisan media and a proliferation of 'fake news' sites, including those whose material became part of an apparent Russian propaganda effort during the 2016 presidential campaign. 'It's propaganda for sure, even if they have objective standards and all the reporting is 100 percent accurate,' said Republican communications veteran Rick Tyler, whose resume includes Ted Cruz's 2016 presidential campaign. The website was registered July 7 through Domains By Proxy, a company that allows the originators of a website to shield their identities. An AP search did not find any corporate, Federal Election Commission or IRS filings establishing The Free Telegraph as an independent entity. As of early Monday afternoon, The Free Telegraph's Twitter account and Facebook page still had no obvious identifiers tying the site to RGA. The site described itself on Twitter as 'bringing you the political news that matters outside of Washington.' The Facebook account labeled The Free Telegraph a 'Media/News Company.' That's a contrast to the RGA's Facebook page, which is clearly disclosed as belonging to a 'Political Organization,' as is the account of its counterpart, the Democratic Governors Association. RGA Chairman Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, deferred questions through a spokesman to the group's national staff. At RGA, spokesman Jon Thompson said the site is 'just another outlet to share those positive results' of the GOP's 34 Republican governors. It's not unprecedented for politicians to try their hand at news distribution. President Donald Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, hosted 'real news' video segments in the summer, posted to the president's Facebook page. In one typical segment she told viewers she wanted to highlight 'all the accomplishments the president had this week because there's so much fake news out there.' Vice President Mike Pence, when he was Indiana governor, pitched the idea of a news agency run by state government, but he ditched the idea in 2015 after criticism. In both cases, however, Lara Trump and Pence were not aiming to hide the source of the content. But the RGA site has Democrats, media analysts and even some Republicans crying foul. Democrats say Republicans are laying the groundwork with headlines that will appear in future digital and television ads, while also providing individual voters with fodder to distribute across social media. 'They're just seeding the ground,' said Angelo Carusone, who runs Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group. 'They are repackaging their opposition research so it's there as 'news,' and at any moment that publication could become the defining moment of the narrative' in some state's campaign for governor. Political communications expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a University of Pennsylvania professor who has studied political advertising for four decades, said The Free Telegraph commits a form of 'identity theft' by 'appropriating the integrity of news' because 'the form of news carries credibility' that blatantly partisan sites do not. Jamieson was particularly critical of RGA's initial failure to disclosure its involvement. 'What we know about audiences is they factor in the source of information when judging that information,' she said. 'If you are denying the reader, the listener or the viewer information you know the reader uses, the question is why do you feel the need to do this?' A recent RGA fundraising email said the site was 'fact-checking the liberal media' and is a counter to 'decades of demonizing Republicans.' Playing off President Donald Trump's dismissal of 'fake news,' the email said media 'can say whatever they like about us — whether it's true or not.' Some of The Free Telegraph's content plays off of material from traditional media organizations and from right-leaning outlets such as The Daily Caller. RGA press releases are linked. Some headlines and photos are exact duplicates of RGA press releases. In the days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas and Louisiana, the site included headlines praising Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, for his response. There were no such headlines for Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat. The content is far tamer than from some sites from that popped up during the 2016 presidential campaign to propagate sensational but baseless stories. But it does create a cache of headlines that could turn up in campaigns. The first test is in this fall's Virginia governor's race pitting Democratic nominee Ralph Northam against Republican Ed Gillespie. Virginians already have seen another site, The Republican Standard, that is run by Virginia Republican operatives with ties to Gillespie, a former state and national party chairman, and to a firm that has been paid by the RGA. The Free Telegraph and its social media accounts frequently link The Republican Standard. Northam campaign spokesman David Turner accused Gillespie and Republicans of 'creating their own Pravda,' a nod to the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Gillespie campaign declined comment, referring questions back to the RGA. ___ Associated Press reporter Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin contributed to this report. ___ ON THE WEB: The Free Telegraph, with the RGA's identifier: https://freetelegraph.com The Free Telegraph, an archived page without the RGA label: http://web.archive.org/web/20170830121418/https:/freetelegraph.com/ ___ Follow Barrow and Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP and https://twitter.com/sbauerAP.
  • A lawyer in Greece for Russian cybercrime suspect Alexander Vinnik, who is wanted in the United States in a $4 billion bitcoin fraud case, says Russia wants to extradite him as well. Vinnik was arrested in northern Greece in July and detained pending an extradition hearing later this month following a request from U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of California. Vinnik's lawyer, Xanthippe Moyssidou, told The Associated Press that Vinnik was also wanted in Russia on separate fraud charges. She said he has told Greek authorities at a closed hearing Tuesday at the office of a public prosecutor that he would not challenge the request to extradite Vinnik to Russia. In Greece, extradition disputes involving two or more countries are typically resolved by the justice minister. 'My client has been notified that Russia has made an extradition request. He declared that he was willing to return to his country,' Moyssidou said. Vinnik, 37, was arrested on July 25. According to U.S. authorities, Vinnik ran digital currency exchange BTC-e, and was allegedly involved in laundering money from criminal proceeds. He denies any wrongdoing. The U.S. extradition request is scheduled to be heard Sept. 29.
  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's recommendation to shrink four sprawling national monuments in the U.S. West jeopardizes protections for ancient cliff dwellings, scenic canyons and habitat for endangered fish and threatened Mojave desert tortoises. The recommendations, revealed in a leaked memo submitted to the White House, would scale back two huge Utah monuments — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — along with Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou. The monuments encompass an area larger than Connecticut and were created by Democratic presidents under a century-old law. Three were created or expanded in President Barack Obama's final weeks in office. President Donald Trump and other critics say presidents have lost sight of the original purpose of the law created by President Theodore Roosevelt, which was designed to protect particular historical or archaeological sites rather than wide expanses. Environmental groups have vowed to take Trump to court if he approves Zinke's recommendations. A closer look at the four monuments set to be downsized: ___ BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT, UTAH Creation of the 2,100-square-mile (5,500-square-kilometer) monument at the end of Obama's tenure marked a victory for Native Americans and conservationists. It was a blow to Republican leaders who campaigned to prevent what they call a layer of unnecessary federal control that hurts local economies by closing the area to new energy development. Tucked between existing national parks and the Navajo Nation, the monument is on land considered sacred to a coalition of tribes and is home to an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites. Tribal members visit the area to perform ceremonies, collect herbs and wood for medicinal and spiritual purposes and do healing rituals. The monument features a mix of cliffs, plateaus, towering rock formations, rivers and canyons. In the memo, Zinke highlights the hiking, backpacking, canyoneering, mountain biking and rock climbing. Utah's congressional delegation and top state leaders vowed to work to get the monument repealed. Zinke's recommendation to downsize it to a yet-to-be-determined size came after he toured Bears Ears in May and met with Gov. Gary Herbert and others who oppose the designation. State officials recommended a significant decrease to about 195 square miles. Zinke suggests Trump ask Congress to make the tribes co-managers. Under Obama's designation, they were given an advisory role. ___ CASCADE-SISKIYOU NATIONAL MONUMENT, OREGON The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, covering 175 square miles (453 square kilometers) of mountains, forests and rivers along Oregon's border with California, was expanded by then Obama in his last days. The new areas include habitat for endangered fish such as the shortnose sucker and Lost River sucker. In a July visit, Zinke expressed doubts that much scientific study went behind the drawing of its boundaries. He stressed that the Antiquities Act of 1906, which authorizes a president to create a monument, limits their size 'to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.' 'Nobody knows how exactly the boundaries were made,' Zinke said. 'Going back, were the boundaries made on the basis of science, best guess? And so those are the things I'm reviewing.' In a 2011 report, a group of scientists said many of the region's species relied on habitat outside the monument's then-boundaries, where they faced threats from logging, grazing and development. The smaller monument also didn't provide continuous protection across different elevations, which is important for migration, especially amid global warming, said the scientists, who supported the expansion. Created by President Bill Clinton in 2000, Cascade-Siskiyou is the first monument set aside solely for the preservation of biodiversity. Two timber companies have challenged the legality of Obama's expansion, saying it reduces the supply of timber sold and jeopardizes their supply. ___ GOLD BUTTE NATIONAL MONUMENT, NEVADA Named for a ghost-town mining site near the confluence of the Colorado and Virgin rivers, the monument covers 464 square miles (1,202 square kilometers) of scenic land northeast of Lake Mead. Dirt roads cross gold grasslands to rugged black mountains, red sandstone formations, Joshua tree forests and sites rich with Native American rock art and artifacts. It is about 80 miles (128 kilometers) northeast of Las Vegas in the remote rangeland over which rancher Cliven Bundy let cows graze for decades before an armed standoff in 2014 with federal land agents. Efforts began decades ago to protect and preserve Gold Butte as critical habitat for the threatened Mojave desert tortoise and rare local species of buckwheat and bear poppy plants. Proponents, including former Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, tried for years to have it designated as a national conservation area before Obama made it a monument in December. Republican members of Nevada's congressional delegation have been vocal opponents. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei sponsored a measure this year to restrict the ability of future presidents to designate monuments without congressional approval. ___ GRAND STAIRCASE ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT, UTAH Clinton created the monument in southern Utah in 1996 to preserve scenic cliffs, canyons, waterfalls and arches. Actor and Utah resident Robert Redford appeared at the ceremony. In heavily Republican Utah, the move was viewed as a sneaky example of federal overreach that still irks GOP officials. Many Utah Republicans and some residents say it closed off too many areas to development — including one of the country's largest known coal reserves — that could have helped pay for schools. Gov. Herbert signed a resolution from state lawmakers this year asking Utah's congressional delegation to support shrinking the monument that's nearly 2,700 square miles (5,400 square kilometers), about the size of Delaware. Zinke says in his memo to Trump that there are 'several billion tons of coal and large oil deposits' within its boundaries. He also noted that while the permitted amount of grazing is the same as it was in 1996, the number of cattle in the monument has decreased because of restrictions on moving water lines, vegetation management and maintenance of fences and roads. ___ Associated Press writers Ken Ritter in Las Vegas and Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon, contributed to this report.
  • New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is pressing two credit monitoring companies to explain what cybersecurity they have in place to protect sensitive consumer information following a recent breach at Equifax that exposed the data of 143 million Americans. In letters to executives at TransUnion and Experian, the Democratic attorney general asked them to describe their existing security systems, as well as what changes they've made since the Equifax cyberattack. 'The unprecedented data breach experienced by Equifax Inc. that affected 143 million Americans — including more than 8 million New Yorkers — has raised serious concerns about the security of private consumer information held by the nation's largest consumer credit reporting agencies,' he wrote. The letters also ask whether the companies are considering waiving the fees for consumer credit freezes in light of the breach. 'Credit reporting agencies have a fundamental responsibility to protect the personal information they're entrusted with,' Schneiderman said in a statement Tuesday. 'As we continue our investigation into the Equifax breach, it's vital to ensure that consumer data at the other major credit reporting agencies is safe.' Schneiderman's review of the cyberattack on Equifax began shortly after the breach was announced last week. The letters were sent last week and were first reported by The Associated Press. Messages left with Experian and TransUnion were not immediately returned Monday afternoon.