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Putin says Russia to place tactical nuclear arms in Belarus

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President Vladimir Putin said Russia is preparing to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, escalating a confrontation with the U.S. and its allies over the war in Ukraine.

Moscow isn’t handing control of the weapons to Belarus, and won’t be in breach of its nonproliferation obligations under an agreement with Belarusian ...Read more

Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Amid conflicts and climate change, UN puts focus on 'deep trouble' in water worldwide

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For the first time in 46 years, the United Nations convened a global conference on water, creating new impetus for wide-ranging efforts to manage water more sustainably, adapt to worsening droughts and floods with climate change, and accelerate solutions for the estimated 2 billion people around the world who live without access to clean ...Read more

Kacen Bayless/The State/TNS

'His body is a crime scene': Exhumation plans proceeding in Stephen Smith's 2015 killing

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Plans to exhume Stephen Smith’s body are proceeding rapidly and will involve a team of state and national experts, one of the attorneys for Stephen Smith’s mother said Friday.

“As far as we’re concerned, his body is a crime scene,” attorney Ronnie Richter said.

Richter’s statements in an interview with The State ...Read more

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS

Biden, Trudeau mount show of unity as allies paper over tensions

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President Joe Biden, who longs for the appearance of political harmony, found it in Canada — where he was feted with displays of cross-border unity that glossed over lingering disputes.

Biden’s whirlwind trip to Ottawa, the first one-on-one visit by a U.S. president since 2009, was a show of solidarity. Biden and Canadian Prime Minister ...Read more

Cuba holds a stacked election amid the biggest population exodus since the revolution

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Cuba is holding elections Sunday to pick lawmakers at a time when the ruling communist party is struggling to keep a lid on public anger caused by rampant inflation, hunger and blackouts.

The vote, decried as a sham by human rights groups, will pick 470 candidates who were pre-selected by the government to the powerful National Parliament for a...Read more

At least 2 people killed and 5 still missing in Pennsylvania chocolate factory explosion

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PHILADELPHIA — At least two people were killed and five people remain missing after an explosion at a West Reading chocolate factory Friday afternoon that sent a column of black smoke into the sky and rattled the windows of homes four blocks away.

It’s not clear what caused the explosion, said L. Paul Vezzetti, a spokesman for Pennsylvania ...Read more

Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS

In Pajaro, children and teens grapple with displacement after flooding

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WATSONVILLE, Calif. — The school buses arrived in quick succession, looping past the entrance of the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and a parking lot packed with cars before stopping near Harvest Building, a low-slung yellow structure usually used for fundraisers.

Araceli Telles stood waiting near the gate for her daughters to arrive at the ...Read more

Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News/TNS

Many migrants who flooded into NYC are 'on the edge of despair' as they struggle to find work -- and stability

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NEW YORK — Jesus O. was a skilled HVAC technician and business owner in Venezuela who thought his skills would easily secure him work when he came to New York last October amid a flood of migrants flowing into New York.

But now, each day, he wanders the streets looking for work.

“I have the experience. And I have the ability,” he said. ...Read more

Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat/TNS

Missouri Republicans still want to restrict Medicaid money to Planned Parenthood after abortion ban

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Despite Missouri’s sweeping abortion ban, some Republicans are still attacking Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid reimbursements.

Multiple bills attempt to block funding to abortion-affiliated facilities, like Planned Parenthood, from different avenues.

One would prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements and another ...Read more

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/TNS

Silicon Valley Bank failure unites Democrats and Republicans in fundraising

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WASHINGTON — The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank has united deeply divided lawmakers toward a singular goal: raising money off the news.

Members of Congress and presidential candidates have sent dozens of emails hitting up recipients for money and asking them to sign petitions since the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over the troubled ...Read more

Tyger Williams/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS

Sen. John Fetterman has been hospitalized for depression for 5 weeks. His staff says he'll be back soon

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PHILADELPHIA — Five weeks after Sen. John Fetterman's hospitalization for clinical depression, his staff says the stay is coming to an end soon, though no certain timeline was offered for his return.

"John will be out soon," spokesperson Joe Calvello said. "Over a week but soon. Recovery is going really well. We have an amazing team at Walter...Read more

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/TNS

Why TikTok faces government bans in these 11 countries

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A growing number of governments are banning TikTok from official phones, as concerns grow over security threats posed by the Chinese-owned social media platform.

On Thursday, TikTok Chief Executive Shou Chew faced hostile questioning during a hearing with U.S. lawmakers — who repeatedly cut off his attempts to answer. U.S. officials are ...Read more

John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Chicago police to try rehiring retired cops, in bid to bolster ranks, officials say

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department is launching a new effort to win back retired CPD officers and hire sworn officers serving other law enforcement agencies.

The two programs seek to bolster the police force’s ranks by allowing retired Chicago officers and officers from outside the city to get salary credit for their experience and ...Read more

News briefs

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Trump seeks to remain dominant in Texas as DeSantis erodes his base

DALLAS — Texas is former President Donald Trump’s second home. En route to becoming U.S. president in 2016, he developed a formidable network of Texas grassroots activists, GOP leaders and campaign donors, much of it grounded in the Dallas area.

But for Trump’s third run...Read more

Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/TNS

Gov. Brad Little signs bill to let Idaho execute inmates by firing squad

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BOISE, Idaho — Idaho could begin executing death row inmates by firing squad as early as this summer after Gov. Brad Little joined a wave of Republican support to use the method when lethal injection drugs are unavailable.

Little signed House Bill 186 on Friday, tasking the Idaho Department of Correction with creating policies to implement ...Read more

Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS

LA Unified School District and union workers who led massive strike reach tentative agreement

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LOS ANGELES — A tentative agreement has been reached to end the protracted contract dispute that shut down Los Angeles public schools for three days, officials announced Friday afternoon.

The tentative pact, reached after mediation with Mayor Karen Bass, could, if approved by union members, prevent campuses from being closed again to 420,000 ...Read more

Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America/TNS

US strikes Iranian-linked groups in Syria after drone attack

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The U.S. military carried out airstrikes in Syria after an American contractor was killed when an alleged Iranian-made drone crashed into a coalition base, sharpening already-fraught tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The U.S. said Friday that Iranian-backed groups later fired 10 rockets at a different coalition base in retaliation. ...Read more

MARCO BELLO/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS

Trump lawyer testifies on classified documents in breakthrough for prosecutors

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NEW YORK — A top lawyer for former President Donald Trump on Friday testified about the classified documents he stashed at his Mar-a-Lago resort in a major legal breakthrough for prosecutors.

Attorney Evan Corcoran may have been forced to reveal what Trump told him about the scores of sensitive government documents he kept in defiance of a ...Read more

Logan Cyrus/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS

Trump predicts 'death and destruction' if he's indicted

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Donald Trump warned there could be violence if he’s indicted in New York in an escalation of verbal attacks on prosecutors as a Manhattan grand jury is expected next week to resume its investigation of him for potential crimes.

In a post after midnight on Friday on his Truth Social platform, Trump asked how a former president could be charged...Read more

Ken James/California Department of Water R/TNS

Snowpack in southern Sierra hits all-time record levels, nearly triple its average

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LOS ANGELES — After years of extreme drought and dismal snowpack, California has had a remarkably wet winter and is now veering into record-setting territory for snowfall.

As of Friday, the snowpack in the southern Sierra was at 286% of normal — the highest figure ever, easily eclipsing the region’s benchmark of 263% set in 1969.

In a ...Read more