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Victim of Fort Hood massacre receives Purple Heart after regulation change

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MILWAUKEE--The day before Russell Seager left the Milwaukee VA Medical Clinic to deploy to Afghanistan with an Army Reserves combat stress unit, he sent an email to his boss.

"I will miss my job so much but I will be back," Seager wrote to Jim Bode, primary care program manager at the Milwaukee facility. "Don't forget about me."

His colleagues...Read more

Missouri Southern State pulled interns from Jefferson City before learning of controversy

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.-- Missouri Southern State University officials say they did not know about the inappropriate text messages a 19-year-old intern from their school exchanged with former House Speaker John Diehl, 49, when they pulled their interns out of the Capitol in April.

In fact, the school did not become aware of the text messages ...Read more

Temple University demotes physics department head charged with federal crimes

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PHILADELPHIA -- The chairman of Temple University's physics department lost his leadership post Friday, one day after federal authorities accused him of illegally sharing sensitive U.S. technology with entities in China.

Xiaoxing Xi, a naturalized U.S. citizen, however, would remain on the faculty, officials said.

The case against Xi, who was ...Read more

Senate passes fast-track trade authority for Obama, but House fight looms

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WASHINGTON -- After a lengthy debate, the Senate approved a contentious bill Friday that would grant President Barack Obama the power to speed up passage of trade deals, but a tougher battle is expected in the House.

The 62-37 vote to give the president so-called fast-track authority is a big boost for his top economic priority, bringing him ...Read more

Syrian ruins in hands of Islamic State

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BEIRUT--The guide had tears in his eyes as he stood in the remains of the majestic temple of Bel, an ancient deity, the edifice's stately columns gouged with holes as a result of recent shelling. We had the ruins of Palmyra, one of the globe's awe-inspiring wonders, to ourselves -- along with half a dozen plainclothes cops from Syrian ...Read more

Bikers promise quiet weekend at Missouri gathering

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- People tend to be wary when a group named for one of history's most savage conquering armies comes to their town.

This weekend, that town will be Excelsior Springs, Mo.

About 200 to 250 members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club are expected to congregate for a meeting in the Clay County city.

Coming a week after the deadly ...Read more

Inmate found guilty of murder is freed after 44 years in prison

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MIAMI--A Miami man imprisoned for 44 years for his conviction in the murder of an ice cream vendor's wife was ordered freed Friday by a judge after the state attorney and public defender agreed his life sentence as a juvenile was unlawful.

Prince Johnson, 60, cried as his family members rejoiced over Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Richard ...Read more

Casey Kasem's wife won't face elder abuse charges, district attorney says

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LOS ANGELES--There is insufficient evidence to charge Casey Kasem's wife with elder abuse or neglect in connection with the death of the famous disc jockey, the Los Angeles County district attorney said Friday.

Kasem's died last year after a long battle with Parkinson's disease and dementia. He died as his children and wife of 30 years, Jean, ...Read more

Hillary Clinton has shifted left, but so have Americans

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WASHINGTON--Amid discussion of Hillary Rodham Clinton's move to the left in her presidential campaign, a new Gallup poll provides an important piece of context: The nation has shifted left, as well.

In recent weeks, Clinton has called for reforming the nation's criminal justice system to reduce the number of people in prison. The policies she ...Read more

2 demonstrators arrested after officer-involved shooting in Washington state

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SEATTLE -- Police in the Washington state capital arrested two demonstrators overnight when protests following an officer-involved shooting became unruly, a spokesman for the Olympia Police Department said Friday.

The demonstrations erupted after the early Thursday morning shooting of two unarmed stepbrothers by Olympia police Officer Ryan ...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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WASHINGTON -- Rival Republican presidential candidates Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida are teaming up on Iran.

The duo, along with Georgia GOP Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, are demanding a report on Iranian military power from the Pentagon.

The four senators, in a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter ...Read more

First batch of Clinton emails reveals little new

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WASHINGTON -- The State Department on Friday released the first batch of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private server, shedding light on how political bureaucracies work but revealing nothing new about the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in a terrorist attack in Benghazi.

The 296 emails...Read more

Senate Republicans signal willingness to revamp NSA phone records program

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WASHINGTON -- Scrambling to prevent a shutdown of a program used to track terrorists, Senate Republican leaders reversed course Friday and signaled that they were willing to consider legislation to reform how the National Security Agency searches U.S. telephone records.

The shift does not end the stalemate in Congress that threatens to disrupt ...Read more

Redacted words caused more trouble for Clinton than 296 emails

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WASHINGTON -- It wasn't the 296 emails released Friday that caused the most trouble for Hillary Clinton. It was the sentence and a half in one that was redacted.

After months of review, the administration published messages Clinton exchanged about the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya, with her colleagues and friends while she was secretary of ...Read more

Navy jet skids into San Diego Bay, pilot safely ejects

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SAN DIEGO--A Navy jet skidded off the runway at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado on Friday afternoon and went into San Diego Bay, the Navy said.

The pilot of the aircraft, a T-45C trainer, ejected safely, the Navy said. He is being treated at Naval Medical Center San Diego.

The aircraft is assigned to a training squadron at Meridian,...Read more

39 dead in gun battle after ambush on police in western Mexico

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MEXICO CITY -- An attempted ambush of a federal police convoy Friday in western Mexico led to a clash in which 39 people, including two police officers, were killed, authorities said.

The clash happened on a road near the town of Tinaja de Vargas on the border Michoacan and Jalisco states.

"There were 39 dead: 37 alleged criminals and two ...Read more

Progress in US-Cuba talks, but no agreement on reopening embassies

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WASHINGTON -- U.S. and Cuban diplomats failed Friday to reach a deal to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana because of continuing disagreement over how U.S. diplomats would operate in Cuba.

After two days of talks in Washington, U.S. and Cuban officials say that they made progress and that they may not need a fifth round of high-level ...Read more

Justice Department agrees to new trial for man convicted of killing Chandra Levy

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WASHINGTON -- In a stunning legal reversal, federal prosecutors relented Friday and set the stage for a new trial of the man convicted in 2010 of killing former intern Chandra Levy.

Acting just days before a series of high-stakes courtroom confrontations set to start next Tuesday, the prosecutors advised defense attorneys that they would no ...Read more

Irish make history in same-sex marriage referendum

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DUBLIN -- People queued up outside polling stations in Dublin Friday as Ireland voted in a referendum on same-sex marriage, marking the first time a nationwide vote has been held on the issue.

Queues formed in Dublin and Galway before polling station doors opened at 7 a.m. and by 1 p.m. there was a turnout of 20 percent in parts of Dublin, ...Read more

Trial delayed in LA's 'Grim Sleeper' serial killings case

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LOS ANGELES -- A Los Angeles County judge Friday pushed back the start date of a trial for a man accused of being the so-called Grim Sleeper serial killer.

The capital murder trial of Lonnie Franklin Jr., who is charged with murdering 10 women and trying to kill another during a string of violence that spanned more than two decades, was ...Read more