Morning briefing

Lineups for today’s news shows

WASHINGTON — Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

≤ ABC’s “This Week” — To be announced.

≤ NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Andrew Young, former director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Mark Bray, author of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.”

≤ CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Tim Scott, R-S.C.

≤ CNN’s “State of the Union” — Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio; Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Scott Taylor, R-Va.

“Fox News Sunday” — Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.

US rig count decreases by 3 this week

HOUSTON — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. decreased by three this week to 946.

A year ago, just 491 rigs were active.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes said Friday that 763 rigs sought oil and 182 explored for natural gas this week. One was listed as miscellaneous.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, California gained two rigs and New Mexico increased by one.

North Dakota declined by two rigs while Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Utah were down by one apiece.

Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming were all unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out in May of 2016 at 404.

Trump to skip Kennedy arts awards

WASHINGTON — In a break with tradition, President Donald Trump and the first lady have decided not to participate in events honoring recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center arts awards to “allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” the White House announced Saturday.

Past presidents and first ladies have hosted a reception for honorees at the White House before the Kennedy Center gala and sat with them at the televised event.

The decision came a day after the entire membership of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned to protest Trump’s comments about last weekend’s demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. The president blamed “many sides” for the violence that left an anti-racism activist dead.

But Trump has long had a contentious relationship with the arts world and some of the Kennedy Center honorees already had said they would not attend the White House reception in December.

One of the honorees, television writer and producer Norman Lear, had previously questioned whether Trump would want to attend the gala, “given his indifference or worse regarding the arts and humanities.”

Other honorees include hip-hop artist LL Cool J, singers Gloria Estefan and Lionel Richie, and dancer Carmen de Lavallade. It’s the 40th year of the awards, which honor people who have influenced American culture through the arts.

The White House said Trump and first lady Melania Trump “extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”

Whale stranded in Wash. beach freed

SEATTLE — Officials say a juvenile gray whale has been freed after being stranded on a remote beach in Washington state.

NOAA Fisheries said Saturday that workers freed the 24-foot whale during high tide Friday by digging a trench and using a shore-anchored pulley system that was attached to a harness placed on the animal.

Officials say the system turned the whale seaward in Olympic National Park and after some uncertain moments, it started swimming.

Experts say the whale that was likely stranded Tuesday remained alert and tried to free itself several times during previous high tides.

They say the whale is 1 to 2 years old and in fair condition.

By The Associated Press

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