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Kevin McCarthy shocks House, abandons race for speaker

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WASHINGTON -- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, dogged by persistent skepticism from hard-core conservatives and facing questions about his qualifications, abruptly withdrew Thursday from the race to replace John Boehner as speaker of the House of Representatives.

McCarthy, R-Calif., who began Thursday as an embattled but clear favorite to ...Read more

Shock, anger in Bakersfield, Calif., after McCarthy ends bid for speaker

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Bakersfield Republicans, so recently elated that their hometown congressman Kevin McCarthy appeared on the verge of winning a bid to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives, were both stunned and angered to learn of his abrupt withdrawal Thursday.

After failing to win support from Republican conservatives, ...Read more

Ahead of debate, Clinton unveils aggressive Wall Street agenda

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WASHINGTON -- Hillary Rodham Clinton has struggled to persuade progressives that she is as determined as they are to change the culture of Wall Street, and Thursday she sought to reassure them with aggressive plans for regulating the financial sector.

The Clinton Wall Street agenda, unveiled in the form of a detailed policy paper, is notable ...Read more

Top LA County Sheriff's official bought stolen Audi

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LOS ANGELES -- A top-ranking Los Angeles County sheriff's official bought a stolen luxury sedan last year from the owner of a towing company that contracts with his agency, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found.

Assistant Sheriff Michael Rothans paid $3,000 for the 2012 Audi A4, which had been seized by sheriff's deputies from a suspected...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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Global worries kept Fed from hiking rates in September

WASHINGTON -- Many Federal Reserve officials appeared to be on the fence on whether to vote for a interest rate hike last month, but in the end they agreed to hold off largely because the slowing global economy had increased their worries about low inflation in the U.S.

An account of ...Read more

Israel says 'lone wolves' behind recent stabbings

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JERUSALEM -- A rash of Palestinian stabbings of Israelis, which continued Thursday with four more attacks, has been the work of lone assailants with no record of arrests or links to Palestinian militant groups, according to police officials.

The copycat attacks, carried out by young Palestinians, mostly in their teens, appear to have been ...Read more

Products with plastic microbeads to be banned under new California law

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Gov. Jerry Brown approved a measure Thursday that would ban exfoliating microbeads in personal care products.

The measure by Democratic Assemblyman Richard Bloom would prohibit the sale of soaps, facial and body scrubs, toothpaste and other products with plastic microbeads as of Jan. 1, 2020.

Environmentalists ...Read more

Analysis: Window might be closing for a Joe Biden presidential run

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WASHINGTON -- Weeks, even months of mixed signals from Vice President Joe Biden about his presidential intentions are increasingly testing the patience of Democrats who have otherwise been sympathetic to his family concerns, and the window of opportunity for him to emerge as a desired alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton's candidacy appears to ...Read more

Consumer group sues FDA for inaction on salt

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WASHINGTON -- A prominent consumer advocacy group sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday for failing to regulate the amount of salt in the nation's food supply.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest wants the FDA to act on the group's 10-year-old petition to lift salt's status as "generally recognized as safe." Doing so ...Read more

4 Russian cruise missiles aimed at Syria apparently fell in Iran

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IRBIL, Iraq -- The Syrian army, supported by Russian air power and Iranian-led militias, pressed ahead for a second day Thursday with an offensive intended to retake portions of Hama and Latakiya province from rebels, some of whom are supported by the United States.

But the offensive again met tough resistance from rebels even as reports ...Read more

GOP civil war rages as McCarthy falls

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WASHINGTON -- Rep. Kevin McCarthy's startling decision to pull out of the race for speaker of the House of Representatives was the latest vivid illustration of how today's Republican Party is bitterly divided between hardcore conservatives and pragmatists.

And there's little hope of healing anytime soon.

The Republican civil war has been ...Read more

Ben Carson recounts having a gun pulled on him

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Ben Carson is talking about gun violence -- again.

Carson, who has faced a strong backlash for saying after the mass shooting at an Oregon community college that he would stand up to a gunman, recounted a time when a man did point a gun at him.

"I have had a gun held on me when I was in a Popeyes," he said in an interview Wednesday on Sirius ...Read more

Poll: Democrats move left on immigration, GOP to the right

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WASHINGTON -- American views on immigration have grown more polarized, with Republicans taking harder-line positions as Democrats and independents take more liberal stands, a new poll indicates.

The shift can be seen on several issues, including whether children born in the U.S. to people in the country illegally should be eligible for ...Read more

Charlotte reaches settlement with police officer involved in fatal shooting

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The City of Charlotte has reached a financial settlement with Randall "Wes" Kerrick, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer accused of fatally shooting Jonathan Ferrell in 2013.

Under the settlement, Kerrick has resigned from CMPD effective Oct. 2.

Kerrick was tried earlier this year on a voluntary manslaughter charge, but...Read more

Paul Prudhomme, Louisiana chef who popularized Cajun cooking, dies at 75

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Paul Prudhomme, the Louisiana chef who made jambalaya, crawfish pie and gumbo part of the national vocabulary through his French Quarter restaurant, cookbooks and seasonings, died Thursday in New Orleans. He was 75.

His death was confirmed by a spokeswoman for K-Paul's Kitchen, through which the jovial chef helped popularize his native Cajun ...Read more

Johns Hopkins study links fracking and premature births

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WASHINGTON -- New research from Johns Hopkins University suggests pregnant women living near fracking wells in Pennsylvania are more likely to give birth prematurely or have high-risk pregnancies.

"Now that we know this is happening we'd like to figure out why," said Brian Schwartz, lead researcher and a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg...Read more

Europeans take steps to head off economic migrants

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LONDON -- Inundated with half a million asylum seekers already this year, Europe is sharpening its latest message to would-be new arrivals: Don't come.

Security ministers from the European Union's 28 countries agreed Thursday to step up deportations of people deemed to be "economic migrants" seeking a better life rather than refugees fleeing ...Read more

Former underdog Fiorina now a target

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Fact-checkers have been busy in recent weeks picking apart Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's shaky statements on Planned Parenthood, climate change, her own record as CEO of Hewlett-Packard and more -- but that hasn't stopped her from rocketing to the top echelon of the GOP field in California and across the ...Read more

Mars had a long-lasting series of lakes, NASA's Curiosity rover finds

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LOS ANGELES -- The dry, dusty crater that NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is exploring was once filled with a series of lakes that may together have lasted for millions of years, scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory say.

The findings, published by the journal Science, show that liquid water may have existed for long enough on the planet for life...Read more

Plan to create white nationalist enclaves in Kansas, Nebraska roils residents

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A neo-Nazi who made headlines when he bought land in a small North Dakota town with plans to turn it into an all-white hamlet is now setting his sights on Kansas and Nebraska.

Craig Cobb has purchased property in two small south-central Nebraska towns and inquired about property in two north-central Kansas towns, including ...Read more