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Senate leaves FCC seat empty, sets up partisan stalemate

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WASHINGTON ––The Senate adjourned without confirming Jessica Rosenworcel to a second term on the Federal Communications Commission, forcing her out of office and setting up the agency for a partisan deadlock as the Republican administration of Donald J. Trump begins.

Without other changes, the Democrat's departure would leave the FCC ...Read more

US to send new force of 200 to Syria in support of rebels

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WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon plans to send 200 more troops into northern Syria to support rebel militias now holding positions about 15 miles from Islamic State's self-declared capital of Raqqa, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Saturday.

Carter told a security conference in Manama, Bahrain, that the new troops will help train and assist the ...Read more

California farmers win big in water battle

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WASHINGTON -- The California water bill now ready for the president's signature significantly shifts 25 years of federal policy and culminates a long and fractious campaign that began in the drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley.

About five years in the making, the $558 million bill approved by the Senate early Saturday morning would steer more ...Read more

Oakland officials scrutinized for handling of complaints about warehouse where 36 died in fire

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- As investigators tried to find the cause of a warehouse fire that killed 36 people, Oakland city officials faced more scrutiny over their handling of complaints about the building in the years before the blaze.

Despite numerous complaints about conditions both inside and outside the warehouse, city officials have not produced...Read more

Other nations join OPEC to cut oil output

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VIENNA ––The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries managed to broaden its efforts to cut oil output Saturday, when 11 countries outside the group joined a plan that is aimed at raising prices.

The non-OPEC countries agreed to reduce their output by 558,000 barrels per day, OPEC President Mohammed al-Sada announced in Vienna.

...Read more

Accepting Nobel Prize, Colombia's Santos sees 'ray of hope' in peace deal

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Colombia's peace agreement, which ended a civil war that lasted more than half a century, was "a ray of hope" in a troubled world, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Saturday in accepting the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.

"Peace does not belong to a president or a government, but to all the Colombian people, because we must build it together...Read more

Constitution's ban on foreign gifts hangs over Trump's business interests

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WASHINGTON -- President-elect Donald Trump is set to take an oath next month to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

But a previously obscure provision in the nation's founding document has now become the focus of special attention because of Trump's worldwide real estate holdings and business ventures.

Known ...Read more

Cubans stream to US before Trump decides what to do

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WASHINGTON -- The surge of Cubans fleeing to the United States could grow as uncertainty swirls around the island about whether Donald Trump will end the still nascent U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba once he becomes president.

Experts say the current influx of Cubans, which is already double the rate that existed before relations were ...Read more

Judge: Wisconsin recount will go forward

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MILWAUKEE -- A federal judge declined to stop Wisconsin's presidential recount Friday, clearing the way for the tally to finish here on Sunday or Monday and to meet a federal deadline.

In rejecting a plea from supporters of Republican President-elect Donald Trump, U.S. District Judge James Peterson in Madison said he saw no legal basis for ...Read more

Stepfather to stand trial for murder in disappearance of San Diego toddler

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SAN DIEGO -- A Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the stepfather of 2-year-old Jahi Turner, who disappeared more than 14 years ago, should stand trial for murder.

After a weeklong hearing, Judge Charles Rogers said that prosecutors had presented enough evidence to hold Tieray Jones for a trial. Attorneys for Jones, who was questioned ...Read more

Refrigerator ruled out as cause of Oakland fire that killed 36; no evidence of arson

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Investigators have ruled out a faulty refrigerator as the cause of a fire that killed 36 people in an Oakland warehouse last week.

Earlier in the week, officials had said the refrigerator and other appliances were being examined as possible causes of the fire. But Jill Snyder, an ATF official, said Friday that electronics ...Read more

Opposition candidate wins Ghanaian elections with nearly 54 percent

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ACCRA, Ghana -- Ghanaian opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo ousted President John Dramani Mahama in this week's presidential elections, taking 53.85 percent of the vote, the electoral commission announced Friday.

Mahama took 44.4 percent according to results from 271 out of a total 275 constituencies.

"I'll not let you down. I'll do all I ...Read more

Senate prepares for vote to avert government shutdown

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WASHINGTON -- After a week of partisan bickering and filibuster threats by coal-region Democrats, the Senate was preparing Friday for a middle-of-the-night vote on a bill to avert a government shutdown.

The bill, which was expected to pass, would fund the government until April 28 and temporarily extend protection of coal miners' health care ...Read more

The campaign is over, but Donald Trump still likes his rallies

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Donald Trump has now been president-elect for a month. He celebrated Friday with not one, but two public rallies.

"There has never been a movement like this," the man who will become the nation's 45th president exalted as he basked in the adulation of supporters in Baton Rouge, La.

Considering the challenges before an ...Read more

Trump looks to oil industry ally, GOP stalwart to run Interior Department

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WASHINGTON-- Donald Trump is expected to choose Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, a Republican leader and an advocate for more oil and gas drilling on federal lands, to head the Interior Department.

McMorris Rodgers, the highest ranking Republican woman in the House, would take over a 70,000-person agency that manages hundreds of...Read more

Ferguson shooter Jeffrey Williams convicted of multiple charges

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FERGUSON, Mo. -- Jeffrey Williams, accused of shooting and wounding two police officers at a Ferguson protest March 12, was convicted Thursday of multiple charges.

A St. Louis County Circuit Court jury deliberated two hours before finding him guilty of two counts of first-degree assault, three counts of armed criminal action and one count of ...Read more

'High confidence' missing journalist is alive in Syria, senator says

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WASHINGTON -- An Obama administration envoy has "high confidence" that missing journalist Austin Tice is alive in Syria, Sen. John Cornyn said Friday.

Cornyn, R-Texas, said he was briefed Friday by James O'Brien, a presidential envoy for hostage affairs, who "delivered positive yet cautious news about Austin."

"Mr. O'Brien and his team ...Read more

Clinton won as many votes as Obama in 2012 — just not in the states where she needed them most

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WASHINGTON -- The final results of the 2016 presidential election look like this: Hillary Clinton got roughly the same number of votes that President Barack Obama received when he was re-elected four years, but she nonetheless lost to Donald Trump, who came in at least 2.7 million votes behind her.

That's a highly unusual outcome -- the biggest...Read more

Refrigerator ruled out as cause of Oakland warehouse fire, but electricity still leading theory

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Federal investigators have ruled out a refrigerator as the cause of the fatal Ghost Ship fire last week, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives official said Friday, but agents still suspect the cause of the inferno was electrical.

"Everything else electrical in the scene" is still being looked at, said Jill ...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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Florida governor lifts last Zika zone in Miami Beach

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...Read more