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Voters expect efficiency, and Congress is again fighting about a short-term budget

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WASHINGTON -- Voters sent a forceful message to Washington last month: Stop fooling around and work together.

Yet for the past month, lawmakers have endured another mess over how to fund the government, and Friday, the Senate came close to triggering a partial federal shutdown.

It's as though lawmakers hadn't heard the voice of voters who ...Read more

Dutch court convicts far-right populist politician of inciting discrimination

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A far-right Dutch politician who has made attacks on Islam his signature issue was convicted Friday of inciting discrimination -- but the court ordered no penalty, and more serious hate speech charges were dropped.

The trial of Geert Wilders, whose Party for Freedom is leading in polls ahead of parliamentary elections set for March 2017, had ...Read more

Rep. McMorris Rodgers is in running for Interior secretary, but Trump still interviewing

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WASHINGTON -- President-elect Donald Trump is considering Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., to head the Interior Department, a job that could put her in charge of nearly 500 million acres of public land and nearly 70,000 federal employees.

Trump has not made a decision and is still considering other applicants, a senior transition official ...Read more

Irony alert: Chinese state-run network pulls Trump pool duty

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WASHINGTON -- It only took the Chinese government a month to penetrate Donald Trump's headquarters in Manhattan amid the president-elect's ongoing aggressive words and deeds against Beijing.

CCTV America is the U.S.-based arm of China Central Television, which is run by the Chinese government. A blurb on its website defines the network as "the ...Read more

'Cajun John Wayne' tells his ex that congressional pay will help with child support

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WASHINGTON -- Clay Higgins, better known by his Internet moniker Cajun John Wayne, was taped telling his ex-wife that getting elected to Congress would help pay back thousands of dollars in child support.

Higgins is one of two Republicans in the runoff race to fill retiring Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany Jr.'s congressional seat.

"This ...Read more

Florida governor lifts last Zika zone in Miami Beach

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MIAMI -- Florida Gov. Rick Scott has lifted the final zone of active Zika transmission in Miami-Dade, eliminating the last hot spot where mosquitoes were transmitting the virus.

The governor held a news conference at the Betsy Hotel in South Beach Friday to make the announcement. The lifting of the zone comes nearly four months after health ...Read more

Obama orders full review of Russian hacking during the 2016 election

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has ordered a "full review" of computer hacks and leaks that U.S. intelligence agencies say were aimed at disrupting this year's presidential election, a top White House official said Friday.

The disclosure came after President-elect Donald Trump again dismissed an assessment by the 17 U.S. intelligence ...Read more

2 Chicago cops resign in face of firing over off-duty beating a decade ago

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CHICAGO -- Two Chicago police officers have resigned in the face of their firing over the off-duty beating of a restaurant patron on the Northwest Side more than a decade ago.

Brian Murphy and Jason Orsa, both 12-year department veterans, stepped down effective Dec. 1, said police spokesman Frank Giancamilli.

Their resignations came a little ...Read more

Slain Ga. officer's girlfriend: “We didn't quite make it”

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ATLANTA -- Rachel Harrod should have been making final plans for a trip to Disney World this week with her boyfriend, Nicholas Smarr. Instead, she was visiting an Americus funeral home preparing to bury him.

Smarr was one of two officers killed in a shootout Wednesday with a gunman in the small southwest Georgia city of Americus. The other ...Read more

Kara Alaimo: President-elect picking fights on Twitter is petty

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Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election on Twitter. There, he created what the head of a major market-research company called "a continuous Trump rally that happens on Twitter at all hours." He attracted millions more followers than Hillary Clinton, garnered three times more free exposure than Clinton on social media and, according to ...Read more

Michigan Supreme Court justices recuse themselves from recount case

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DETROIT -- Two of Michigan's Supreme Court justices -- Robert Young and Joan Larsen -- have recused themselves from considering a case involving the recount of nearly 4.8 million ballots cast for president in November.

The two are included on a list of potential appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court that president-elect Donald Trump revealed ...Read more

'Fat shaming' Santa hospitalized after his comments went viral

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- A Forest City, N.C., man who resigned as Santa in the town's Christmas house after apparently telling a 9-year-old boy to "lay off" the burgers and fries has been hospitalized since Wednesday with a blood clot in his lung, his niece says.

The man, Earl Crowder, woke up Wednesday with trouble breathing and was taken to a ...Read more

Obama pressed to wade into Israel-Palestinian fight a last time

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UNITED NATIONS -- President Barack Obama, whose administration failed to break the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians during eight years in office, is coming under pressure to act one last time as events in Israel and at the U.N. clash.

In Jerusalem, the parliament is debating legislation that would give official recognition to Israel'...Read more

Estate tax repeal under Trump would benefit president, Cabinet

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WASHINGTON -- President-elect Donald Trump, who won the hearts and minds of millions of working-class voters, may help deliver a multibillion-dollar bonanza to America's wealthiest families.

The Manhattan businessman's election offers congressional Republicans their best chance in years to eliminate the estate tax, which he and others call the ...Read more

Trump's Labor secretary pick Puzder supported immigration reform

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WASHINGTON -- President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of Labor Andrew Puzder praised immigration reform in the past and criticized border security as a waste of money, which is drawing criticism from some Trump supporters.

During a Q&A in 2013 at the American Enterprise Institute, Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl's Jr. ...Read more

Trump era brings moment of truth for Republican spending hawks

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WASHINGTON -- The most conservative House Republicans helped shut down the government and oust their own speaker in pursuit of cutting U.S. spending. Now they must decide whether to fight to hold Donald Trump to the same standard.

It's potentially a risky move after the president-elect carried most of their districts by significant margins. ...Read more

Cops release body-cam video of arrest of woman in wheelchair

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MIAMI -- The Miami-Dade Police Department has released body-camera video of the arrest of a woman in a wheelchair who fell after being handcuffed last week.

The woman in the wheelchair was missing both her legs, so with the handcuffs on she had no way to stop her fall.

Unlike a previous video taken by a bystander, the video from the body-cam ...Read more

Personality trait or mental disorder? The same genes may weigh in on both

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You don't need fancy genome-sequencing or brain-imaging equipment to know that some of the people we know and love are just a little, well, out there.

We used to call these people "worriers," "creative types," "eccentrics" or "loners." Like the rest of us, they seem to have come into the world with some recognizably fixed personality settings: ...Read more

NC community rallies for students forced to eat cheese sandwiches at lunch

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A North Carolina community has rallied behind a group of elementary students who were relegated to eating cheese sandwiches at school because they were behind on paying their lunch accounts.

A GoFundMe account set up to pay up the accounts of the students at Blackburn Elementary in Newton, N.C., reached and surpassed its $1,250 goal. The fund ...Read more

South Korean parliament votes to impeach president

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SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea's parliament on Friday voted to impeach President Park Geun Hye, who has been dogged by accusations of corruption.

Two hundred thirty four out of 300 lawmakers voted in favor of the move, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap, meeting the minimum two-thirds requirement.

Park's impeachment comes after ...Read more