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Remaining pieces of Confederate Monument removed from St. Louis park

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ST. LOUIS -- Workers are nearly finished dismantling the Confederate monument that once stood nearly 40 feet high in Forest Park, marking the end of a long conflict between the city, a local museum and residents who disagreed over whether or not such a structure ever belonged in a public park.

As of Wednesday evening, the bulk of the memorial ...Read more

Pentagon, Trump at odds on climate change — and Democrats are taking advantage

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WASHINGTON -- An amendment to the annual defense policy bill requiring the Pentagon to submit a report on the national security threats posed by climate change was approved by members of the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

The text, co-sponsored by every Democratic member of the committee, calls climate change "a ...Read more

Senate panel digs into 2,000 financial documents in Trump probe

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation of the Trump campaign's possible links to Russia is now focused sharply on financial transactions involving the president's associates -- with the committee searching for improprieties in more than 2,000 documents it has received from the Treasury Department's financial crimes unit....Read more

Destruction of Arkansas' Ten Commandments monument places spotlight on separation of church and state

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The 6-foot-tall stone monument engraved with the Ten Commandments -- a capstone of sorts to years of debate in Arkansas over the separation of church and state -- was erected with little pomp on the lush grounds of the state Capitol. Less than 24 hours later, the monument came crumbling down after a Dodge Dart plowed into it.

On Wednesday, as ...Read more

Slower walking may signal mental decline, study says

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PITTSBURGH -- Has grandma's walking slowed down as she's aged? This slower gait may be a sign of declining mental acuity.

And a 14-year University of Pittsburgh study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology has pinpointed the area of the brain -- the right hippocampus -- where this link may be demonstrated. It found that those experiencing...Read more

Monitor: 30 civilians killed in airstrikes on Islamic State stronghold in Syria

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BEIRUT -- Strikes by unidentified jets on an Islamic State-controlled area in eastern Syria have killed at least 30 civilians, the second such attack in the past 48 hours, a monitoring group said Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added that the strikes targeted the Dablan area on the outskirts of the province of Deir al-Zour in...Read more

Chicago Officer Van Dyke takes stand in hearing on Laquan McDonald's killing

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CHICAGO -- In a surprise development, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, charged with murder in the on-duty shooting of Laquan McDonald, took the witness stand Wednesday, uttering his first public words of substance since he was charged 19 months ago.

The focus of the court hearing, though, was limited: Could the special prosecutor, in his ...Read more

NC GOP leaders refuse to provide HB2-related emails, citing legislative privilege

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Since June 2016, the Charlotte Observer has been seeking House Bill 2-related emails from the office of North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger, but both Republican lawmakers have refused to provide any documents.

Because the request asks for emails among legislators, legislative staff and/or ...Read more

Planned coup in Montenegro shows Russian efforts to hinder elections, Senate panel hears

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WASHINGTON -- By the time Montenegro's police got wind of the plans, the 2016 election-day coup plot was about to launch.

Disguised as police, the plotters would storm the Parliament in Podgorica, firing at citizens awaiting election results and generally creating chaos. They would declare their favored candidates the real winners of the ...Read more

Minn. woman charged with fatally shooting boyfriend in failed YouTube stunt

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MINNEAPOLIS -- A 19-year-old woman shot at a book her boyfriend was holding against his chest, killing him at close range outside their northwestern Minnesota home in what was a video-recorded stunt gone awry, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.

Monalisa Perez was charged with second-degree manslaughter in Norman County District ...Read more

Air pollution exposure may hasten death, even at levels deemed 'safe,' study says

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At a time when the Trump administration is moving to delay and dismantle air quality regulations, a new study suggests that air pollution continues to cut Americans' lives short, even at levels well below the legal limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The nationwide study of more than 60 million senior citizens linked long-...Read more

As wildfires rage in West, DC lawmakers fight over forest policy

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WASHINGTON -- With wildfire season raging in western states, Congress is embroiled in a battle over how best to fight the fires.

Many Republicans want to help prevent and fight wildfires by giving the agencies that manage the federal forests more money and greater ability to thin out the forests. Most Democrats, as well as environmental groups,...Read more

Prosecutor drops charge against ex-Texas trooper who arrested Sandra Bland

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A charge has been dropped against the only official to face criminal indictment related to the arrest of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was found hanged in her Texas jail cell three days after her arrest and whose name became a rallying cry in protests against racial bias in policing.

Former State Trooper Brian Encinia, who pulled Bland over ...Read more

Passengers to face tighter screening at airports, but can still carry laptops

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WASHINGTON -- Homeland Security officials said Wednesday they will order stricter passenger screening and other new security measures for all flights entering the United States but will not bar laptop computers in carry-on luggage as airlines and passenger groups had feared.

The new order will cover about 2,000 flights a day from 280 airports ...Read more

Court: NC magistrates can continue to refuse to marry gay couples

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In a victory for legislative Republicans, a federal appeals court Wednesday opened the door for North Carolina magistrates to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a technicality, dismissing a challenge on the grounds that couples who brought the suit lack the legal standing to do so....Read more

FBI agent indicted on charges of lying about shooting at rancher in Oregon standoff

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PORTLAND, Ore. -- An FBI agent has been indicted on suspicion of lying about firing two shots at Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, one of the leaders of the armed standoff at a wildlife refuge in Oregon last year, according to court documents made public Wednesday.

W. Joseph Astarita, a member of the FBI's hostage response team, faces three counts of ...Read more

President Trump singles out Irish journalist to comment on her 'nice smile'

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An exchange in the Oval Office on Tuesday played out like a boardroom elimination on "The Celebrity Apprentice," as President Donald Trump dropped everything to comment on an Irish reporter's "nice smile."

RTE Washington correspondent Caitriona Perry was singled out while she and several members of the press visited the White House to cover ...Read more

House work week gets shorter

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WASHINGTON -- House Republican leaders started 2017 with plans for the lower chamber to have some atypical five-day work weeks to accommodate an ambitious GOP legislative agenda, but they are starting to cut those weeks short as intraparty fueding prevents progress on their top priorities.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced ...Read more

Trump's promise of jobs from Saudi deals may fall flat

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WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump can't stop boasting about nearly $400 billion in military and business deals his administration made during his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia last month.

"Hundreds of billions of dollars was spent and given to American companies who are going to make American products and send those products over to the ...Read more

James Gibney: U.S. will pay for Trump's global unpopularity

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Judging by a just-released poll from the Pew Research Center, President Donald Trump is heading to next week's G-20 meeting in Germany with a resounding global vote of no confidence.

Only 22 percent of more than 40,000 respondents from 37 countries had confidence in Trump doing the right thing regarding world affairs; 64 percent felt that way ...Read more

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