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At least 21 dead, dozens burned after explosion at Mexico pipeline

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MEXICO CITY -- At least 21 people were killed and 71 others were injured Friday in an explosion at a ruptured fuel pipeline in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo, state governor Omar Fayad tweeted.

Local media reported that hundreds of people hoping to gather the leaking fuel in buckets had gathered at the pipeline near Tlahuelilpan, ...Read more

Ga. lawmaker who defended Klan named to House post on eve of King Day

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ATLANTA -- House Speaker David Ralston Friday named as one of his committee chairs a state representative who opposed the erection of a statue to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the grounds of the State Capitol and said the Ku Klux Klan made "people straighten up."

GOP state Rep. Tommy Benton will chair the House Retirement Committee, which ...Read more

Trump tweets 'major announcement' on border security coming Saturday

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WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump tweeted he will make a "major announcement" on Saturday about border security and what will be by then the 29-day partial government shutdown.

Three minutes after the White House call a "lid" Friday night and reporters headed for the gate, the president fired off a post saying the remarks would focus on "the...Read more

County by county, researchers link opioid deaths to drugmakers' marketing

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Researchers sketched a vivid line Friday linking the dollars spent by drugmakers to woo doctors around the country to a vast opioid epidemic that has led to tens of thousands of deaths.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, looked at county-specific federal data and found that the more opioid-related marketing dollars were spent in a ...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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Sen. Jeff Merkley requests FBI perjury investigation into Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jeff Merkley is requesting that the FBI open a perjury investigation into Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, based on testimony she gave to Congress in December on family separations at the southern border.

Testifying before the ...Read more

Monitor: Coalition strikes kill 23 people in eastern Syria

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BEIRUT -- At least 23 people, including civilians, were killed on Friday when a U.S.-led air alliance fighting Islamic State in Syria carried out airstrikes on the last pockets occupied by the militant group in the eastern part of the country, a war monitor reported.

Six civilians were among the fatalities, while the rest were militant fighters...Read more

Utility sues Santa Barbara County for last year's deadly mudslides

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LOS ANGELES--Southern California Edison -- fighting dozens of legal claims related to the Montecito mudslides that followed the Thomas fire -- is pointing the blame on Santa Barbara County and Caltrans for failing to prepare for deadly debris flows they knew were inevitable.

More than 75 lawsuits have been filed against Edison for allegedly ...Read more

March for Life activists get anti-abortion boost from Trump

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WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers and anti-abortion advocates who gathered Friday for the nation's largest annual anti-abortion rally say they are pivoting to a defensive strategy in Congress, with a focus on confirming conservative judges as legislation stalls.

Thousands gathered to protest the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case ...Read more

In heated moment, Missouri lawmaker yells 'go back to Puerto Rico' to House Democrats

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WASHINGTON -- Missouri Rep. Jason Smith said Friday he regretted yelling "go back to Puerto Rico" to Democrats on the House floor on Thursday, and he has made amends with a California congressman who initially took it as a racial slur.

Smith, a member of the House Republican leadership, said he meant to refer to a group of Democrats who went on...Read more

Trump agrees to second summit with Kim

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WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump agreed to a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in late February, despite the lack of significant progress so far toward the elusive goal of dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal.

Trump accepted the date Friday afternoon after meeting Kim's right-hand man and top spy chief, Kim Yong Chol, in...Read more

Democratic donor Ed Buck courted controversy, but now may have more than he wants

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LOS ANGELES -- In 2010, then-California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman was holding a political rally at a Hollywood hotel when from the front row a man started heckling her.

"What are you hiding?" the man shouted at the Republican candidate. "You're looking like Arnold in a dress!" he said, referring to outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger....Read more

Sen. Angus King begins radiation treatment for 'residual prostate cancer'

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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Angus King is undergoing radiation treatments for residual prostate cancer, the Maine independent announced Friday.

This is King's second bout with prostate cancer and his third diagnosis overall. He had skin cancer decades ago.

"What it means for my work in the Senate? Absolutely nothing," King said in a statement. "I have ...Read more

Supreme Court hints it won't hear Trump's DACA appeal this term

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court took no action Friday on President Donald Trump's bid to end deportation protections for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants, suggesting the program may stay in place at least until the end of this year.

Under the court's usual practices, Friday was the last day to accept an appeal and ...Read more

NC House speaker invites Trump to give State of the Union in Tar Heel State

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WASHINGTON -- North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore invited President Donald Trump to give his State of the Union address at his state's General Assembly chambers.

The speaker sent a letter to the president Friday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Wednesday Trump postpone the address until after the shutdown is over. Moore's letter said ...Read more

Is Mike Pompeo actively exploring a US Senate race?

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WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to meet with Sen. Pat Roberts in the near future amid a heavy recruitment effort by powerful Washington Republicans for Pompeo to run for Roberts' seat.

A Senate run by Pompeo would reshuffle the race to replace Roberts in Kansas. It would also reshuffle President Donald Trump's Cabinet -- ...Read more

Michigan speaker invites Trump to give State of the Union in Lansing

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WASHINGTON -- If President Donald Trump still wants to give a State of the Union speech, Michigan's offering him a room in which to do it.

On Friday, Michigan's new House speaker, Rep. Lee Chatfield, offered up the House chamber in Michigan's state capitol to the president after Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, ...Read more

Lawsuit against California Democratic Party details alleged harassment ex-chair

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LOS ANGELES -- Three current and former employees filed a lawsuit this week against the California Democratic Party and its former chairman, Eric Bauman, alleging discrimination and a culture of harassment and sexual misconduct that was "well-known and apparently tolerated" by top officials.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior ...Read more

Attorneys, defendants in Oakland warehouse fire case under gag order until trial

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Minutes after a judge granted a gag order that bans attorneys and defendants of the Ghost Ship case from speaking publicly, outspoken attorney Tony Serra emerged from the courtroom with his hand over his mouth.

Defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris, their attorneys, the prosecution and a list of potential 200 witnesses are ...Read more

Democrats propose legal status for undocumented immigrant farmworkers

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WASHINGTON -- Two California Democrats filed legislation Thursday that would give undocumented immigrant farmworkers and their families a path to legal resident status and possibly U.S. citizenship.

The legislation by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Zoe Lofgren is designed to ease agricultural worker shortages and protect undocumented workers ...Read more

SC apartment complex where 2 died evacuated after officials find multiple gas leaks

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COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Columbia public safety officials ordered an evacuation of Allen Benedict Court public housing units on Harden Street following a gas leak that claimed the lives of two people, according to Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.

Though the cause of death for the pair has not been officially determined, Benjamin said during a news ...Read more