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Death toll from Indonesian plane crash rises to more than 140

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The death toll from a plane crash in Indonesia's fourth-largest city, Medan, rose to more than 140 people as a massive recovery effort wound down Wednesday afternoon.

Officials said 122 people, including military officers and their family members, were on board the Hercules C-120 military transport plane when it crashed just after noon Tuesday....Read more

Auschwitz defendant says he is not entitled to survivors' forgiveness

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LUENEBURG, Germany -- A 94-year-old man charged as an accessory in the murders of about 300,000 people at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau told a court Wednesday that he consciously had not asked Holocaust survivors for their forgiveness because, given the dimensions of their suffering, he is not entitled to it.

"I can only ask God for ...Read more

Scott Walker sees Iowa lead shrink in latest Quinnipiac poll

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker continues to lead prospective and declared 2016 Republican presidential candidates in Iowa, although his support is shrinking, a Quinnipiac University poll shows.

In an election season where there will likely be at least 16 Republican candidates, the survey reveals numerous contenders bunched behind Walker, whose ...Read more

About 1,250 perished in Pakistani heatwave, officials say

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ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan government said on Wednesday that about 1,250 people died in a severe heatwave that last month gripped the country's southern province of Sindh.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the worst-hit city of Karachi and was briefed by officials over the heatwave deaths.

According to an official statement, Sharif was informed ...Read more

China's new national security law covers everything from space to cults

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BEIJING -- China's top legislature on Wednesday adopted a sweeping new national security law touching on everything from the military and economy to the environment, religion, the Internet, food safety and space exploration, saying the country needed to bolster legal measures in the face of "ever-growing security challenges."

But critics fear ...Read more

Photos allowed on White House tour after four-decade prohibition

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WASHINGTON -- Now you can take selfies on the White House tour.

Visitors strolling through the executive mansion will be allowed to take photos for the first time in more than four decades.

First Lady Michelle Obama announced the policy change, effective immediately, in a video posted Wednesday on Instagram.

Until now, visitors taking public ...Read more

Contractor once accused of sparking Summit wildfire seeks factual innocence

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Seven years ago, contractor Channing Verden was raking in $230,000 a year as the proud owner of a land-clearing business in the remote Santa Cruz Mountains.

Today, his income has dwindled to $7,500, and all that's left of his company, Advanced Earth Technologies, is a heap of rusty tools and trucks strewn across a windswept ...Read more

Gov. Brown faces rough road in quest to repair California's freeways

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Every day, California drivers navigate an obstacle course of potholes and cracked pavement, and a wrong turn of the wheel can send them limping to a mechanic. Maintenance crews can't keep up.

After years of neglect, state officials estimate it will cost $59 billion to fix the now-crumbling roads and freeways that Gov. ...Read more

Tenure battle in Wisconsin seen as bellwether by educators across US

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MILWAUKEE -- With more voices joining the highly charged debate over tenure protections in the University of Wisconsin System, it has become increasingly clear that at least in education circles, what's happening here is perceived as a bellwether for public universities across the country.

And as the national fervor rises, two assumptions are ...Read more

Bernie Sanders is hot enough to be drawing attacks

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The relative comity of the race for the Democratic nomination for president was interrupted last week with an unexpectedly sharp attack video aimed in an unexpected direction.

"Bernie Sanders is no progressive when it comes to guns," said the narrator of a Web video produced by a "super PAC" supporting former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

...Read more

Just how green are state governments?

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WASHINGTON -- When President Barack Obama this spring ordered federal agencies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade -- to 40 percent below 2008 levels -- the concept was hardly novel to state governments. For years, governors and legislatures have set energy conservation targets for state agencies, to save taxpayers money, ...Read more

Fight over Edmund Pettus Bridge simmers

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Alabama: It's complicated.

How else to explain a state where the white Republican governor takes down the Confederacy's many flags and declares it time to raise taxes while a black Democratic congresswoman argues against changing the name of a bridge named after a Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan grand dragon. When the latest battle over ...Read more

Stuart Rothenberg: When the second time isn't the charm

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WASHINGTON -- I feel bad for Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry. They are presidential retreads at a moment when anything that is more than an hour or two old is passe.

John McCain was a retread in 2008 (having lost a bid for the GOP nomination in 2000), as was Mitt Romney four years later. Ronald Reagan was a retread in 1980, and ...Read more

Measles carries risk of a terrifying, always-fatal and rare complication

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LOS ANGELES -- Measles is commonly thought to be a one-time deal: Get it once, survive and you're immune for life.

But like a Trojan horse, the virus can find a way to hide from a baby's undeveloped immune system. The baby will survive, but within his or her body, a weakened form of the measles lurks, beginning to infect the brain.

Over the ...Read more

Sleepy Hollow fire 'devastating and heartbreaking all at once'

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SEATTLE--The only unscathed feature on Cindy Dominguez's property was a clean, white statue of St. Francis, surrounded by blackened trees. He still stood in the garden she planted after her son was killed in a car accident eight years ago.

"That's it," she said Tuesday afternoon as a hot wind blew through Broadview, her neighborhood turned ...Read more

Down and out in San Juan as Puerto Rico debt disaster looms

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Nine years ago, Roland Santiago earned $120,000, paid a mortgage on a house and drove a luxury car. Now, he's collecting unemployment while he looks for a job that will cover rent at an apartment and other living expenses.

"Even for people who are prepared and experienced, there is little stable work available that pays...Read more

As public corruption trial date nears, California state senator to appear for 'change of plea'

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SACRAMENTO, Calif.--With former California state Sen. Leland Yee's public corruption trial fast approaching, lawyers for him and three co-defendants are scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday to change their pleas.

Jury selection for Yee and the others -- political fundraiser Keith Jackson, his son Brandon Jackson and boxing promoter ...Read more

New batch of Hillary Clinton's emails is released

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WASHINGTON -- The State Department released another batch of Hillary Rodham Clinton's email correspondence Tuesday, reviving scrutiny of her service in the Obama administration as she wages a campaign to succeed him.

The newly released emails are the first batch from a pool of more than 50,000 pages turned over by the candidate from her private...Read more

Police response to Ferguson protests, in a word, failed, federal draft report says

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WASHINGTON -- Police in Ferguson, Mo., delivered an "ineffective response" to the riots that followed the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown last year, did not understand the gravity of the public anger and fired "Stingerballs, PepperBalls, bean bag rounds and baton rounds" in failed attempts to quell the escalating disturbance, the U.S. ...Read more

Illinois Rep. Bost sends more mail at taxpayers' expense than any other Congress member

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WASHINGTON -- Congress is moving away from its long-time use of taxpayer-financed mail to constituents, but not Rep. Mike Bost.

The freshman Republican from Illinois spent almost $113,000 on what is called "franked" mail in the first three months in office, amounting to more than 244,000 pieces. That is nearly twice the amount spent by the next...Read more