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Abe's speech to Congress to rivet audience 7,000 miles away

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses a joint session of Congress this week to present his nation as a stalwart U.S. ally that's willing to play a bigger military role in Asia, a message likely to be embraced in Washington and greeted with suspicion in South Korea and China.

Abe is due to meet President Barack Obama during a weeklong ...Read more

California faces serious risk of Nepal-strength earthquake

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LOS ANGELES--A huge earthquake like the one in Nepal on Saturday could happen in California.

Like Nepal, California is at the intersection of huge pieces of the Earth's crust and is prone to seismic activity. There have been quakes in California larger than Saturday's 7.8 magnitude quake in Nepal, which killed thousands.

Most notably, the 1906...Read more

Relatives could be allowed to pay ransoms for U.S. hostages

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WASHINGTON -- A White House review of hostage policy is likely to recommend that the government not block ransom payments by family members seeking release of captives, a U.S. official said Sunday.

The family of Warren Weinstein, the American aid worker taken hostage in 2012 and killed accidentally in a U.S. drone strike in January, reportedly ...Read more

Strong aftershock rattles Nepal after huge earthquake

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KUNMING, China –– As a strong aftershock jolted Nepal on Sunday, authorities confirmed that 2,152 people died in magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck the previous day, destroying homes, toppling temples and ravaging infrastructure.

In addition to the dead in Nepal, the Associated Press reported that at least 61 had died in India, Bangladesh...Read more

Congressman says Baltimore protests 'could have been worse'

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BALTIMORE -- U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said the violwnxw late Saturday that followed hours of peaceful protests over Freddie Gray's death was caused by a "few people, mainly from out of town."

Cummings, a Maryland Democrat who represents Baltimore, said many in the city deserve credit for remaining peaceful in the face of great frustration ...Read more

Killings in Albuquerque divide law enforcement agencies

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.--After a fitful few hours of sleep, Kari Brandenburg reads a note every morning on a bulletin board in her closet, written to herself: "Being a hero is enduring for one moment more."

The sentiment has become a source of inspiration for Brandenburg, Albuquerque's chief prosecutor, and a signal of how deep the rift has grown ...Read more

The campaign of Hillary and Mrs. Clinton

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Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is all about showing voters who she really is.

The challenge is that there is more than one distinct identity bound up in Hillary Clinton.

There's Hillary, the proud new grandmother. She suggests road-tripping to Iowa instead of flying. She stops for lunch at Chipotle. She spends hours asking the people ...Read more

Aurora, Colo., theater shooting victims, families steel themselves for trial

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Eirz Scott does not plan to attend the trial unless her son, Jarell Brooks, is called to testify. But she knows how she wants the lengthy legal proceeding to end.

A bullet tore a chunk out of her boy's thigh while he was helping a young family escape from the gunman on that awful summer night. Brooks is 22 now, attending college. He wants to be...Read more

New California Supreme Court surprises analysts early on

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SAN FRANCISCO -- When Gov. Jerry Brown's two latest nominees joined the California Supreme Court in January, legal analysts foresaw the creation of a more liberal majority.

The first test came in March, when the seven-member court had to decide whether to reconsider a death penalty case. Justices Mariano-Florentino Cuellar and Leondra R. Kruger...Read more

Campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris strikingly similar

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It is one of the oddities of this campaign season: In races for two of the most sought-after political offices in the country, two Democratic women are running virtually unchallenged, their tasks boosted and complicated by the veneer of inevitability.

Nationally, of course, there is Hillary Rodham Clinton, opening her second try for the party's...Read more

Most states list deadly methadone as a 'preferred drug'

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WASHINGTON -- As prescription drug overdose deaths soar nationwide, most states have failed to take a simple step that would make it harder for doctors to prescribe the deadliest of all narcotics.

Methadone overdoses kill about 5,000 people every year, six times as many as in the late 1990s, when it was prescribed almost exclusively for use in ...Read more

At this cafe, customers come for the strong Cuban coffee and opinions

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MIAMI -- Even before the sun poked through the skyline, the espresso machine at the landmark Versailles coffee shop in Little Havana whirred with activity.

Sleepy-eyed men waited patiently around the takeout window, or la ventanita, for tiny cups of Cuban coffee that are poured slowly and with care by women in forest green uniforms on the other...Read more

Notario fraud preys on those seeking help with immigration paperwork

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Whenever Monica Alegria has an appointment with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, she gets so nervous her head aches. Alegria didn't come into the country illegally nor does she have a criminal record, but she and her husband are facing possible deportation.

While applying for green cards, she said, the couple paid $...Read more

Thawing permafrost: the Arctic's slow, giant carbon release

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Permafrost -- a vast, frozen subsurface layer of soil -- covers nearly a quarter of the land in the Northern Hemisphere. It contains centuries worth of carbon in the form of plants that have died since the last ice age but remained frozen rather than decomposing.

Now scientists are learning that the "perma" part of its name may no longer be ...Read more

Georgia's new medical marijuana law inspires national effort

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WASHINGTON -- Even though Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law with much fanfare April 16 to allow medical patients to possess small amounts of cannabis oil, the Clark family still faces a conundrum.

It remains a federal crime to bring the oil that 12-year-old Caden takes to treat his seizures from Colorado, where he lives now with his mother,...Read more

Mexicans hold North Korean freighter over UN weapons sanctions

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TUXPAN, Mexico -- The cargo holds were empty and the 430-foot-long North Korean freighter Mu Du Bong was riding high in the water when the vessel slammed into a coral reef in Mexican waters in the Gulf of Mexico last July 14, thudding to a halt.

The freighter did more than tear up staghorn and elkhorn coral. It also crashed into U.N. sanctions ...Read more

VIDEO: Obama ribs those jockeying to succeed him at White House correspondents' dinner

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama took aim the emerging 2016 presidential field at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday even as he joked about his own waning time in office.

The president often gets good laughs at the annual event that brings together politicians, journalists, and celebrities, and this year he sent ...Read more

On social media, survivors describe terror of quake-generated avalanches

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He thought it was a joke.

Lying down at his camp on one of the approaches to Mount Everest, Dutch mountaineer Eric Arnold assumed his friend was shaking the tent. A prank. But then the ground trembled.

"When I zip open my tent, I see avalanches coming down on three sides," Arnold would write later on his blog.

A cloud stirred by the racing ...Read more

Nepal quake kills more than 1,800, turns Kathmandu into tent city

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KATHMANDU, Nepal -- The most powerful earthquake to hit Nepal in more than eight decades roared across the impoverished mountain kingdom just before noon Saturday, killing more than 1,800 people, some as far away as India and Bangladesh, and devastating a crowded base camp at Mount Everest.

Signature buildings collapsed in the ancient Old ...Read more

Kathmandu's poorly constructed buildings worsen quake outcome

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An exploding urban population that led to taller and often poorly constructed buildings, along with an unusually hazardous combination of geological conditions, had prompted years of warnings from scientists that the Kathmandu region of Nepal was a seismic time bomb waiting to go off.

Saturday morning, it did.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake and ...Read more