Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 p.m. EDT

TRUMP-NEW YORK TIMES-THE LATEST

The Latest: Trump says critical NYT op-ed has ‘backfired’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says The New York Times’ decision to publish an op-ed from an anonymous Trump administration official has “backfired” and he has “picked up a lot of support” as a result.

Trump is again urging the Times to publish the name of the author “for the sake of our national security” and asking the newspaper’s reporters to investigate the identity of the writer.

The anonymous New York Times opinion piece published Wednesday claimed there’s a “resistance” working within President Donald Trump’s administration to thwart his most dangerous impulses.

Trump says during a rally in Billings, Montana, that “unelected deep state operatives” are a “threat to democracy itself.” But he adds that he is “really sad for the mainstream media.”

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AP-US-SENATE-SUPREME-COURT-THE-LATEST

The Latest: Trump calls Dems at Kavanaugh hearing ‘sick’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says Senate Democrats are making “fools” of themselves when they “scream and shout” at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump says at a rally Thursday night in Billings, Montana, that Democrats are “losing by doing it.”

He says the “anger and the meanness” on the other side is “sick.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee has been holding confirmation hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Democrats on the committee strongly oppose him. Several, including some who are viewed as potential challengers to Trump in 2020, tried to block the proceedings in a bitter dispute over Kavanaugh records withheld by the White House.

Says Trump, “It’s embarrassing to watch these people make fools of themselves as they scream and shout at this great gentleman.”

He adds that Kavanaugh deserves “overwhelming bipartisan support.”

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OBIT-BURT REYNOLDS

Burt Reynolds, star of film, TV and tabloids, dead at 82

NEW YORK (AP) — Burt Reynolds, whose credits included acclaimed films such as “Deliverance” and commercial hits like “Smokey and the Bandit,” has died.

The handsome film and television star died at age 82, according to his agent Todd Eisner. No other details were immediately available Thursday.

During a long, erratic career, Reynolds starred in the Oscar-winning film “Deliverance” in 1972 and the Oscar-nominated “Boogie Nights” in 1997. He also fronted such commercial favorites as “Smokey and the Bandit.” And he had a hit TV show in the 1990s with “Evening Shade.”

But he also had more than his share of flops and tabloid moments, including an acrimonious divorce from former TV star Loni Anderson and a nearly nude centerfold in Cosmopolitan magazine.

TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE

Giuliani to AP: Trump will not answer obstruction questions

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump will not answer federal investigators’ questions, in writing or in person, about whether he tried to block the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

That’s according to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who tells The Associated Press that questions about obstruction of justice are a “no-go.”

Giuliani’s statement is the most definitive rejection yet of special counsel Robert Mueller’s efforts to interview the president about any efforts to obstruct the investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and Russians.

It’s unclear if Giuliani’s public position has been endorsed by Trump, who has said he wants to answer questions under oath. Negotiations about the scope and format of an interview are still ongoing

CLERGY ABUSE-NEW YORK-THE LATEST

The Latest: NJ church says it will cooperate with probe

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Roman Catholic Church in New Jersey says it will cooperate with a new investigation of sex abuse in the church’s dioceses.

New Jersey Catholic Conference executive director Patrick Brannigan says the group welcomes the investigation and will “cooperate fully.”

The conference represents the state’s bishops.

New Jersey on Thursday said it would be launching its own investigation of sex abuse by clergy. It followed word that New York had issued subpoenas in a similar investigation there.

The investigations come after a grand jury in Pennsylvania found widespread abuse of more than 1,000 children by about 300 priests.

TWITTER-ALEX JONES

Twitter permanently bans Alex Jones, Infowars citing abuse

NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter is permanently banning right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his “Infowars” show for abusive behavior.

Twitter says Jones won’t be able to create new accounts on Twitter or take over any existing ones. Twitter says Jones posted a video on Wednesday that is in violation of the company’s policy against “abusive behavior.” The video in question shows Jones shouting at and berating CNN journalist Oliver Darcy for some 10 minutes during congressional hearings about social media.

Jones had about 900,000 followers on Twitter. “Infowars” had about 430,000.

Twitter had previously suspended Jones for a week. But until now it had resisted muzzling Jones further. Other tech companies have limited Jones by suspending him for longer periods, as Facebook did, and by taking down his pages and radio stations.

DELAWARE PRIMARY-THE LATEST

The Latest: Walker wins Delaware GOP House primary race

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Scott Walker, a business owner and landlord who ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Democrat two years ago, has won the Republican primary for Delaware’s lone U.S. House seat.

The 67-year-old Walker defeated actor and retired railroad industry worker Lee Murphy on Thursday and will face incumbent Democrat Lisa Blunt Rochester in November.

Blunt Rochester easily won a six-way Democratic primary for Congress in 2016. Walker finished fifth in that race with less than 5 percent of the vote.

Walker’s political fortunes changed after he switched parties. During the campaign, Walker stressed the need to improve the nation’s defense, economy and health care system. He also noted that he recently became very religious, and that he has God on his side to help conquer every problem.

TRUMP-NEW YORK TIMES-FORENSICS

Word detectives: Science may help finger opinion columnist

WASHINGTON (AP) — Language detectives say the key clues into who wrote the anonymous New York Times opinion piece may not be the odd and glimmering “lodestar,” but the itty-bitty words that you usually read right over: “I,” “of,” and “but.”

And lodestar? That could be red herring meant to throw sleuths off track, some experts say.

Experts use a combination of language use, statistics and computer science to help figure out who wrote documents. They’ve even solved crimes and historical mysteries that way.

The field, which some call “forensic linguistics,” is suddenly at center stage after an unidentified “senior administration official” wrote in the Times that he or she was part of a “resistance” movement working from within the administration to curb Trump’s most dangerous impulses.

AP-US-CALIFORNIA-WILDFIRES-THE-LATEST

The Latest: California fire shuts freeway, snarling traffic

REDDING, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say 45 miles (72 kilometers) of a major north-south trucking corridor in Northern California will remain closed until at least Friday morning.

The California Highway Patrol said Thursday the closure of Interstate 5 in Shasta County has significantly snarled traffic. The agency warns motorists and truckers to avoid the region if possible.

CHP officer Jason Morton said the only alternate route around the closure is taking motorists up to eight hours to navigate. Morton said the 140-mile detour on Highway 299 to Route 89 has been bumper-to-bumper the entire route.

He said the winding, mountain roads funnel to one lane each way at many points, and traffic often slows to 1 mph.

Morton said officials will reassess the safety of reopening Interstate 5 on Friday morning.

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MEXICO-MASS GRAVES

Mexican prosecutors find 166 skulls in mass graves

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican investigators have found 166 skulls in clandestine mass burial pits in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

State prosecutor Jorge Winckler said Thursday that for security reasons he would not reveal the location of the site.

He says the bodies were buried at least two years ago.

It is one of the largest mass graves discovered so far in Mexico, where drug cartels frequently use such clandestine pits to dispose of their victims.

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