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Rand Paul on last-minute federal budget: 'A rotten, terrible' way to govern

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WASHINGTON -- With Congress teetering on the brink of its third government shutdown in three months, Sen. Rand Paul still hasn't seen the details of a new budget bill that's likely to be 1,000 pages long -- and he's not pleased.

That matters because it was Paul, R-Ky., who last month single-handedly prevented Congress from speedily moving ahead...Read more

Rubio launches new Facebook page for Venezuelan dissidents

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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl., has launched a new Facebook page to talk directly with Venezuelans inside the country and abroad.

In his first video message, Rubio tells visitors in Spanish that the new page will be a way for Venezuelans to circumvent state-controlled media, learn more about what's really going on in the world as well as...Read more

Stoneman Douglas teen's lawyer: 'I don't blame a kid for taking a weapon to school these days'

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A Marjory Stoneman Douglas student accused of bringing a knife to school was ordered held on $12,500 bond Wednesday after her lawyer called it "out of control" and "ridiculous" that prosecutors sought her jailed on stiffer conditions.

Jordan Salter's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Brian Reidy, argued that worries ...Read more

Campaign between billionaires Rauner, Pritzker for Illinois governor expected to be expensive, brutal and long

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CHICAGO -- Democratic billionaire J.B. Pritzker will take on wealthy Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in November, a race expected to easily shatter Illinois campaign spending records and make a run at the national mark.

Both candidates enter a nearly eight-month general election campaign needing to unify their respective parties following bruising...Read more

Trump faults his Justice Department on Arizona 'Dreamer' case, citing Lou Dobbs

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WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump faulted the Justice Department on Wednesday for its handling of a case involving the young immigrants known as "Dreamers," citing the punditry of Fox Business News analyst Lou Dobbs.

"Department of Justice should have urged the Supreme Court to at least hear the Drivers License case on illegal immigrants in ...Read more

Are robot cars safer? Only one way to find out

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SAN FRANCISCO -- As long as robot cars roam public streets and highways, they will occasionally kill people. That's an ugly truth that no one in the driverless vehicle industry can deny.

Will those robot cars kill people at significantly lower rates than drunk, stoned, tired or distracted human drivers do now? Automakers, technology companies, ...Read more

Austin bombing suspect, 24-year-old man, dies as police close in, chief says

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AUSTIN, Texas -- The suspect in a string of bombings in Austin is dead, interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley confirmed early Wednesday.

The name of the suspect, described only as a 24-year-old white man, has not been released, pending notification of his family, Manley said.

Although police are still investigating the possibility of ...Read more

Palestinians plan mass Gaza march as US Embassy move nears

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TEL AVIV, Israel -- As the transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem approaches, Palestinians are planning to march by the tens of thousands to the fence that encloses the Gaza Strip to dramatize their plight.

"We want to frighten the Israelis with the images of massive crowds of people who peaceably gather and sit close to the border," Hamas ...Read more

Cruz's one-man energy crusade

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WASHINGTON -- Ted Cruz has a plan to fix an environmental regulation Texas oil refiners hate.

Yet Cruz's plan has not been widely embraced by the very industry he's trying to help.

Texas' powerful oil and gas sector detests the Environmental Protection Agency's Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates that transportation fuel contain a certain ...Read more

Was Cambridge Analytica a digital Svengali or snake-oil salesman?

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WASHINGTON -- When Cambridge Analytica officials met GOP strategist Mike Murphy at the start of the 2016 presidential campaign, their pitch was slick and full of swagger -- but after a little probing, Murphy ultimately found it to be full of nonsense.

At the time, a meeting with Murphy was in high demand. He was heading Right to Rise, a PAC ...Read more

Q&A: Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov warns of a Russia increasingly devoid of freedoms

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Until his retirement from the professional game in 2005, Garry Kasparov was widely considered to be the greatest chess player of all time. These days, the Russian grandmaster has moved from battling opponents at the checkered board to fighting for democracy and civil rights.

He is the chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, ...Read more

Women in medicine shout #MeToo about sexual harassment at work

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Annette Katz didn't expect to be part of a major social movement. She didn't set out to take on a major health organization. But that all began to change when a co-worker saw her fighting back tears and joined Katz to report to her union what amounted to a criminal sexual offense at a Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2012 and 2013.

...Read more

Battered by fires and floods, beleaguered Montecito braces for more potential destruction

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MONTECITO, Calif. -- It started four months ago, when the largest fire on record in California history besieged this upscale coastal enclave.

Soon after, heavy rains sent tons of mud, boulders and debris crashing into Montecito neighborhoods -- killing 21 people in what was the state's deadliest flooding in decades.

Now, forecasters are ...Read more

In Illinois, 'Chuy' Garcia out to early lead in race to replace US Rep. Luis Gutierrez

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CHICAGO--Jesus "Chuy" Garcia took a commanding early lead Tuesday night in the Democratic primary for Illinois' lone Latino-majority congressional seat as he seeks to replace the retiring U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez.

Garcia, who has served as a Cook County commissioner on the Southwest Side for the past seven years, had collected 67 percent of the...Read more

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner claims narrow primary victory over challenger Ives

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CHICAGO -- Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner held a small lead over state Rep. Jeanne Ives on Tuesday as he tries to fend off a primary challenge from a conservative lawmaker he'd once dismissed as a "fringe" candidate.

With 60 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial returns had Rauner with 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Ives, with a ...Read more

Billionaire J.B. Pritzker declares victory in Illinois Democratic governor primary

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CHICAGO -- Billionaire J.B. Pritzker claimed victory Tuesday night in the race for the Illinois Democratic governor nomination.

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With 52 percent of the state’s precincts counted, Pritzker had 45 percent of the vote ...Read more

In a one-two legal punch, Trump faces new jeopardy from sex scandals

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LOS ANGELES -- President Donald Trump faced new legal and political jeopardy Tuesday as a former Playboy Playmate and alleged paramour sued to break a confidentiality agreement and a judge rejected his move to quash a lawsuit stemming from a charge of sexual assault.

The developments, coming on opposite coasts, promised many more months -- if ...Read more

Police want to use Baker Act on brother of Parkland shooter to block him from owning a gun

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MIAMI -- One month after Nikolas Cruz walked into a Parkland high school and murdered 17 people with an AR-15-style rifle, police are using a new Florida law passed in the wake of the attack to try and strip the shooter's younger brother from owning a gun.

The Broward Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday evening that deputies have petitioned the ...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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HUD's Ben Carson denies trying to mislead public in furniture furor

WASHINGTON -- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said he wasn't trying to mislead the public when an agency spokesman initially denied that he and his family were involved in a controversial decision to buy a $31,000 dining room set for his office.

Carson ...Read more

Dozing deputy suspended at school. He was part of beefed-up security after shooting

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MIAMI -- A Broward Sheriff's deputy assigned to protect the very building on the Parkland campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were shot and killed last month was suspended Tuesday for taking a nap in his patrol car.

The Broward Sheriff's Office said Moises Carotti has been suspended with pay at least until an internal...Read more