THE DRIVE: About-face on payments to insurers; Demme dies; Sharapova wins

President Donald Trump speaks at the Interior Department in Washington, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Trump still has no plans to release his tax returns. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
staff and wire reports
Posted: Apr. 26, 2017 4:14 pm



The White House has assured lawmakers it will continue making payments to insurers under Democrat Barack Obama's health care law.


That's a reversal for President Donald Trump who had threatened to withhold the money.


Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a senior administration official confirmed the move, which could both provide stability to the individual insurance market and remove the issue as a stumbling block to bipartisan negotiations over a government-wide spending bill to keep agencies open.


The current spending bill expires at midnight on Friday.





Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that President Donald Trump "has no intention" of releasing his tax returns, which would show the public how much he would benefit personally from the administration's plan to overhaul the tax code.


At a White House news conference to roll out the administration's tax cut proposal, journalists peppered Mnuchin with questions about Trump's refusal to release his tax returns, which has been standard practice for every president and major presidential candidate for at least the past four decades.


"The president has no intention," Mnuchin said. "The president has released plenty of information, and I think has given more financial disclosure than anybody else. I think the American population has plenty of information."





Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme, whose creative restlessness and wide-ranging curiosity about all facets of the human condition animated such diverse films as “Something Wild,” “Stop Making Sense,” “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Philadelphia,” died Wednesday.


Demme died of complications from esophageal cancer in his Manhattan apartment surrounded by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children, representatives for his family said. He was 73.


Equally facile with comedies, dramas, thrillers and documentaries, Demme earned a reputation early on as an actor’s director and had success with broadly appealing studio films and smaller, quirkier indie fare.





An unmanned NASA spacecraft, Cassini, is poised to plunge into the gap between Saturn and its rings, a pioneering journey that could offer an unprecedented view of the sixth planet from the Sun.


The first of the spaceship's 22 deep, daring dives between Saturn and its innermost ring was scheduled for 5 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday, NASA said.


If everything goes to plan, the spacecraft will offer the closest-ever views of Saturn's rings — but first NASA faces a nail-biting wait.


Communications with the spacecraft are dark during the dive and for about a day afterward, while it makes scientific observations of the planet.





STUTTGART, Germany — Looking relieved, Maria Sharapova waved to the crowd and blew kisses after winning her first match on her return from a 15-month doping ban on Wednesday.


The five-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 beat Roberta Vinci 7-5, 6-3 in the opening round of the Porsche Grand Prix.


Sharapova had earlier been given a lukewarm welcome by the 4,500 spectators, receiving a polite applause and some whistling when she entered the sold-out arena.


"It was the best feeling in the world," Sharapova said about finally stepping on court again for a professional match. "I have been waiting for this a long time."

In Case You Missed It

Local fence painting winners honored
HANNIBAL | Evan Dalton, 12, center, won the local boys' fence painting contest on Friday, July 3, qualifying him to compete in the national championship on July 4. Finalists were Landyn Essig, 12, second, and Logan Essig, 10, third.