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Former Atlanta fire chief claims discrimination in civil rights suit

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ATLANTA -- A federal judge on Friday had questions about why Mayor Kasim Reed dismissed Atlanta's fire chief in 2015, asking attorneys representing the city if the decision was based primarily on the contents of the chief's controversial book or his insubordination.

Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was terminated after he wrote and distributed a book ...Read more

High-profile political prisoner flees Venezuela in daring escape, vows to fight Maduro

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BOGOTA -- Antonio Ledezma, one of Venezuela's highest-profile political prisoners, fled the nation Friday in a daring escape that he said included skirting dozens of checkpoints and crossing the border into Colombia.

Talking to reporters in the Colombian capital of Bogota, Ledezma said his flight had been "cinematographic" and that he had the ...Read more

Katy Perry and LA Archdiocese awarded $5 million in suit over convent

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LOS ANGELES -- A Los Angeles jury Friday found that restaurant owner Dana Hollister intentionally interfered with singer Katy Perry's attempts to purchase a former convent from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Perry's drawn-out legal fight to buy the Los Feliz property was partly settled earlier this year when a judge ruled that ...Read more

Couple quit Guantanamo after dumpster-dive arrest

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GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- An Army combat veteran and his wife who were detained by Navy police for plucking used uniforms out of a dumpster to fashion them into souvenir flags have left the base in the aftermath of the episode.

Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Ismael Gonzalez, 48, said he resigned his post as the wartime prison's contract ...Read more

17 Atlanta school police admit test cheating, investigator finds

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ATLANTA -- Atlanta Public Schools is dealing with another cheating investigation. A quarter of the police officers in the district's recently sworn-in force admitted receiving answers on a state-administered test.

Disciplinary proceedings are coming for at least 18 employees. One dispatcher allegedly fed answers to 17 officers while they took ...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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After backlash, Trump orders a freeze on elephant hunting trophy imports

In a surprise move, the Trump administration will suspend its recent decision to allow hunters to bring elephant trophies back to the U.S. from parts of southern Africa, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday night.

The move comes as celebrities, politicians and even some ...Read more

After backlash, Trump orders a freeze on elephant hunting trophy imports

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In a surprise move, the Trump administration will suspend its recent decision to allow hunters to bring elephant trophies back to the U.S. from parts of southern Africa, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday night.

The move comes as celebrities, politicians and even some Trump supporters had intensely criticized the administration's decision ...Read more

Rampage killer's repeated weapons violations never reported to prosecutors, D.A. says

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Tehama County,Calif., prosecutors were never told that the gunman who killed five people in a rampage this week had for months before regularly fired off weapons at his home despite a judge's order that he turn in his weapons, the district attorney said Friday.

Neighbors of the gunman, Kevin Janson Neal, 44, said they complained to police for ...Read more

Mom driving her boys to school when gunman struck shielded son despite her wounds

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Johnny Phommathep was driving home to the Northern California town of Rancho Tehama from a quick trip to Sacramento on Tuesday morning when he got a text message from his wife, Tiffany, telling him she was dropping their three youngest sons off at school.

He texted her back to ask if she wanted something to eat. When he got no response, ...Read more

Trump names five more Supreme Court contenders

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WASHINGTON -- Looking ahead to a future vacancy on the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump on Friday named five conservative judges to his list of potential nominees to the high court.

They include Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett, 45, who was confirmed two weeks ago to a seat on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and ...Read more

Steve Bannon steps back from Roy Moore during Florida talk

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Steve Bannon, the strategist who guided Donald Trump during the final phase of his campaign and early months of his presidency, told a South Florida audience Friday that critics won't be satisfied unless they can drive Trump from office, ridiculed the idea of election-season collusion with the Russians and declined to ...Read more

Civil suit becomes Kazakh soap opera with Trump ties

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NEW YORK -- The interests of a wealthy Kazakh fugitive, a company tied to disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and the Trump Organization all intersected here Friday in unusual court proceedings.

The courtroom drama also featured the deposition, albeit remotely, of Mukhtar Ablyazov, the former chairman of Kazakhstan's prominent Bank TuranAlem...Read more

Search continues for killer of Baltimore detective; reward increased to $190,000

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BALTIMORE -- The search for a suspect in the killing of Baltimore Police Detective Sean Suiter continued Friday, with the reward increasing to nearly $190,000 and investigators struggling to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

Tactical operations were expected to continue through the weekend in the area of West Baltimore where...Read more

Generals seek swift Mugabe exit

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HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's public appearance at a university graduation ceremony Friday -- leaving the confinement of his mansion -- was stage-managed by the military to deflect accusations it took control of the country Wednesday in a military coup.

The move was designed to assure neighboring governments that ...Read more

Congressional critics slam State Department as rudderless

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WASHINGTON -- When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his first official trip to Myanmar on Wednesday, he largely ignored the country's widespread human rights abuses.

Security forces have conducted or allowed what critics call systematic rape and murder against Myanmar's Rohingya minority, leading to a refugee flood across the border into ...Read more

Man charged with concealing homicide of missing bartender found fatally shot

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CHICAGO -- A 32-year-old Coal City man has been named in a warrant charging him with concealment of a homicide in the shooting death of a 24-year-old New Lenox Township woman, officials said Friday.

Kankakee County State's Attorney Jim Rowe confirmed that Jeremy Boshears is being charged in the death of Kaitlyn Kearns, whose body was discovered...Read more

Navy apologizes for phallic skywriting over Washington state

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SAN DIEGO -- The Navy has launched an investigation into the jet that sky-painted a giant penis over western Washington on Thursday.

"The actions of this air crew were wholly unacceptable. These actions were irresponsible, inexcusable, immature and antithetical to the core values of naval aviation and the Navy," said Cmdr. Ron Flanders, ...Read more

Illinois man whose mother's severed remains found in lagoon is indicted in her killing

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CHICAGO -- An Elgin man was indicted Friday in the killing and dismemberment of his elderly mother, whose partial remains were found in bags in the Lincoln Park lagoon in Chicago last month.

Brian Peck, 55, was charged with first-degree murder and concealment of a homicide in the indictment, announced in Cook County Circuit Court. He is being ...Read more

Latest round of NAFTA talks opens in Mexico, with few prospects for breakthroughs

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MEXICO CITY -- Mexico is signaling both flexibility and doubt about the latest demands from Washington as the fifth round of talks on the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement formally opened Friday in the Mexican capital.

The fate of NAFTA has become a kind of national fixation in Mexico, where the almost quarter-century-old trade ...Read more

Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 trip to Paris for lunch with Moscow-linked couple remains a puzzle

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WASHINGTON -- Shortly before last year's presidential election, Donald Trump Jr. flew to France for lunch at the Hotel Ritz Paris with a Syrian peace activist, who says she meets regularly with Russian officials, and her French husband, who nominated Russian President Vladimir Putin for a Nobel Peace Prize last year.

Donald Trump's eldest son ...Read more