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How Congress' formula for wildfires makes them worse

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WASHINGTON -- The monstrous flames ripping through Northern California in recent days have burned communities to the ground, killed dozens of people caught in their path and wreaked havoc on a regional economy.

By almost any metric, that would be defined as a natural disaster -- except the one used by Congress to draw up the federal budget.

...Read more

Judge declines to clear conviction for pardoned ex-sheriff Arpaio

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WASHINGTON -- A U.S. federal judge in Arizona on Thursday declined to clear a criminal contempt conviction for controversial former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who recently was pardoned by President Donald Trump.

"The pardon undoubtedly spared Defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed," judge Susan Bolton wrote in a court ...Read more

Steve Bannon's scheduled speech to the California GOP has some Republicans nervous

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California Republican Party's decision to invite right-wing provocateur and former presidential adviser Stephen K. Bannon to address its convention Friday created an unsettled concoction of excitement, dread and rubbernecking curiosity for GOP loyalists in the state.

The keynote speech in Anaheim is scheduled less than...Read more

Rep. Frederica Wilson says John Kelly lied from the White House podium

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WASHINGTON -- When White House chief of staff John Kelly condemned a Florida congresswoman Thursday for sneering at President Donald Trump's condolence call to a soldier's widow, the retired general recalled when the two attended a somber ceremony in Miramar, Fla., to dedicate a new FBI building named after two slain FBI agents.

Kelly ...Read more

2 Georgia dads speak out on condolence calls

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ATLANTA -- Ardie Wright got the condolence call from President Donald Trump on his cellphone about 3 p.m. Tuesday. Trump, the Georgia resident said, expressed his sympathy and then patiently listened to him talk about his beloved son, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29, a Green Beret who was killed during an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4.

"It went ...Read more

Taliban uses a new tactic, the Humvee bomb, to kill 43 at Afghan base

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KABUL -- The Taliban has a new tactic in the Afghan war, and the group has used it to devastating effect twice in three days.

Taliban insurgents packed two Humvees stolen from Afghan security forces with explosives, detonated the vehicles outside an army base in the south and then stormed the base in an attack that left nearly all the unit's 60...Read more

UF drowns out Richard Spencer with 'peace and unity' and at least one punch

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It wasn't Charlottesville.

When prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer came to the University of Florida on Thursday, incidents of violence were limited because of a $600,000 police presence from across the state. What conflict did occur -- pepper spraying, punching, chasing -- was largely instigated by anti-fascist ...Read more

Senate adopts budget with House-backed changes

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate adopted a fiscal 2018 budget resolution Thursday night that was amended at the 11th hour with the aim of making it acceptable enough to House Republicans to avoid a conference committee and speed the consideration of a tax overhaul.

The budget was adopted 51-49.

An amendment offered by Senate Budget Chairman Michael B....Read more

Spain vows direct rule of Catalonia

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MADRID -- Fear, anger and anxiety heightened on both sides of a secession divide as the Spanish government vowed Thursday to take the unprecedented step of stripping autonomous powers from the northeastern region of Catalonia.

The region's president, Carles Puigdemont, did not renounce independence despite a Thursday deadline imposed by the ...Read more

Tillerson signals impatience with China while vowing to stay on

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WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled growing U.S. impatience with China on issues from North Korea to trade while vowing to stay on the job as long as President Donald Trump will have him.

During a 30-minute interview Thursday at the State Department, Tillerson also showed increasing pessimism about the chance for a quick ...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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Woman admits faking nursing credentials to work in hospital in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- A woman who spent months working as a nurse at a St. Louis hospital and teaching nursing at a New Mexico college admitted on Thursday that she'd lied about her nursing credentials and work experience.

Samantha Rivera, 36, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court...Read more

Woman admits faking nursing credentials to work in hospital in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS -- A woman who spent months working as a nurse at a St. Louis hospital and teaching nursing at a New Mexico college admitted on Thursday that she'd lied about her nursing credentials and work experience.

Samantha Rivera, 36, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to health care fraud and identity theft.

In September 2016,...Read more

Ex-LAPD officer at center of cadet scandal held over for trial on weapons charges

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LOS ANGELES -- A former Los Angeles police officer accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl in the department's cadet program was held over for trial Thursday on charges of possessing a cache of assault weapons at his San Bernardino County home.

Robert Cain, 31, was charged with 10 felony weapons offenses after police recovered more than 100 ...Read more

Former President Obama steps back onto campaign stage to spur voters

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Returning to the campaign trail nine months after he left the presidency, Barack Obama laced into Donald Trump's presidency as dismantling the gains of his two terms in office and taking America backward.

Obama did not utter Trump's name during his speech at a rally in Newark for Phil Murphy, the Democratic candidate for ...Read more

Congresswoman describes fallen soldier as 'a true role model, the real deal'

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MIAMI--Before U.S. Army Sgt. La David Terrence Johnson became a central figure in the war of words between a South Florida congresswoman and the president of the United States, he was a child raised -- and deeply loved -- in Miami Gardens.

The 25-year-old decorated soldier, one of four killed Oct. 4 by ambush in Niger in West Africa, was known ...Read more

In stunning attack, George W. Bush accuses Trump of promoting falsehoods and prejudice

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In an extraordinary -- albeit veiled -- attack, former President George W. Bush delivered a scathing assessment Thursday of President Donald Trump and his policies, suggesting he has promoted bigotry and falsehoods to the detriment of the country and its values.

Speaking at a policy seminar in New York, the nation's 43rd president never ...Read more

Congress isn't doing enough to help Puerto Rico, Rubio says

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WASHINGTON -- While lawmakers push for more federal disaster funding in their home states after Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and a spate of wildfires across the West caused billions in damage, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans are still without power and running water, and they don't have a vote in Congress.

Their governor, Ricardo ...Read more

DeVos policy may discourage sexual-assault complaints, lawsuit says

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NEW YORK -- U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' guidance on how universities should handle student claims of sexual assault violates federal civil rights law and may discourage victims from filing complaints, a women's rights group said in a lawsuit.

The Department of Education's "Q and A on Campus Sexual Misconduct," issued in September as a...Read more

Russia-sponsored troll networks still operating, targeting America

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WASHINGTON -- The number of networks of Russian-sponsored trolls spreading propaganda to the United States and Europe may number in the hundreds, including the one team drawing wide attention for blitzing American social media outlets last year with divisive information in a bid to tip voter sympathies to Donald Trump, according to an Obama ...Read more

She was 92, stranded in Puerto Rico nursing home. Her rescue: an Uber sent from Miami

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MIAMI -- The good news out of San Juan came in a hurry for Natascha Otero-Santiago but it wouldn't last long: Her mother's 92-year-old friend, stranded on the fifth floor of a nursing home with no power, finally had a seat waiting for her on a private jet. It was leaving in 90 minutes.

Otero-Santiago, stuck in her office in Fort Lauderdale, had...Read more