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Colombia rejects pandemic cease-fire offer from ELN guerrilla group

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BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's government has rejected a cease-fire offer from the country's main guerrilla group, which argued that the truce would facilitate efforts to help victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal from the National Liberation Army (ELN) does not reflect "a real will to peace," peace commissioner Miguel Ceballos said...Read more

Democrats' joint policy proposals largely eschew Bernie Sanders' agenda

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WASHINGTON -- The task forces created to forge a united platform from the policies of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders largely sidestepped the most sweeping proposals at the core of Sanders' presidential campaign.

In a 110-page document released Wednesday, the task forces offered hundreds of policy recommendations that will be submitted to the ...Read more

Violent protests are a coup attempt, Serbian interior minister says

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BELGRADE, Serbia -- Tension soared across Serbia as violent protests that began in response to the government's COVID-19 lockdown plan transformed Wednesday night into a broader fury against President Aleksandar Vucic.

"We have a situation that can be only described as pure violence seeking to violently take over without the will of the people,...Read more

Ivory Coast's prime minister has died at 61

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JOHANNESBURG -- Ivory Coast Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, 61, has died shortly after attending a Cabinet meeting at the presidential palace in Abidjan on Wednesday afternoon, President Alassane Ouattara said.

Ouattara described Coulibaly as his "closest collaborator" for 30 years, as he presented his condolences to the statesman's "large...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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Sen. Duckworth doesn't back down on military promotions after Vindman retirement

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Tammy Duckworth will keep her hold on over 1,100 military promotions in place despite Wednesday's announcement of the retirement of Lt. Col. Alex Vindman, a key witness in the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

The Illinois Democrat ...Read more

Trump's school-opening demand dumps new decisions on states

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Months after President Donald Trump fought with governors over how quickly to reopen stores, restaurants and workplaces closed by the pandemic, another battle with seismic economic ramifications is developing: whether and how students should return to classrooms.

The president said in tweets Wednesday that his own administration had issued ...Read more

Department of Energy labels Cuba and Venezuela 'foreign adversaries'

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The U.S. Department of Energy has determined that Cuba and Venezuela are "foreign adversaries" that might target the U.S. electrical grid, as the agency works to implement an executive order signed in May by President Donald Trump.

The executive order aims at securing the bulk-power system -- the facilities and control systems necessary for ...Read more

Trump rally likely fueled coronavirus cases, Tulsa official says

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The top health official in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said that President Donald Trump's June 20 campaign rally and accompanying protests likely boosted the number of coronavirus infections in the area.

"We do have the highest number of cases, and we've had the significant events in the past few weeks that more than likely contributed to that," Tulsa ...Read more

More than 30,000 Cuban Americans ask Trump to reverse order to suspend immigration

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MIAMI -- More than 30,000 Cuban Americans have signed a petition requesting that President Donald Trump reverse a decree issued in June to suspend immigration from the island -- including family reunifications -- until the end of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"This proclamation is separating families, a lot of children, parents, ...Read more

Census to start door-knocking after pandemic pause

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WASHINGTON -- The Census Bureau will plan a "final push" outreach effort this month to encourage many communities that haven't responded to the census to do so, the agency said Wednesday during an update of plans amid a coronavirus pandemic that continues to spike in pockets throughout the country.

"The campaign will be nationwide but will have...Read more

Coronavirus cases surge at Lake Tahoe amid summer tourist season

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LOS ANGELES -- The coronavirus is spreading at one of the California's favorite summer destinations: South Lake Tahoe.

The South Lake Tahoe region has reported a per-capita infection rate, over the last 14 days, of 169 new coronavirus cases for every 100,000 residents, exceeding the state's goal of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000, said Dr. ...Read more

Endangered California condors in Sequoia National Park for the first time in 50 years

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LOS ANGELES -- For the first time in nearly 50 years, California condors have been spotted at Sequoia National Park, wildlife officials announced.

The majestic scavengers, the largest land bird in North America, with a 9.5-foot wingspan, once inhabited areas stretching from California to Florida and Western Canada to Northern Mexico. They were ...Read more

COVID cuts a lethal path through San Quentin's death row

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The old men live in cramped spaces and breathe the same ventilated air. Many are frail, laboring with heart disease, liver and prostate cancer, tuberculosis, dementia. And now, with the coronavirus advancing through their ranks, they are falling one after the next.

This is not a nursing home, not in any traditional sense. It is California's ...Read more

An unlikely alliance? Trump and Mexico's president come together to tout a win during a crisis

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WASHINGTON -- Mexico's Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador once likened President Donald Trump to Hitler. But on Wednesday, it was smiles and handshakes as the two leaders held a day of meetings in the White House to celebrate a new trade agreement that both hope can salvage their respective economies, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump and ...Read more

Newsom says reopening of California schools to be based on safety, not pressure from Trump

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that a decision on reopening California schools this fall will be made by local education and health officials weighing the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, and emphasized that he won't be swayed by statements from President Donald Trump urging campuses to bring back students quickly.

The ...Read more

McConnell dismisses Trump criticism of CDC rules for schools, says funding a priority

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MOUNT STERLING, Ky. -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday said he fully backs coronavirus guidelines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing schools, a remarkably different stance than that of President Donald Trump.

Trump posted on Twitter Wednesday that he disagrees with the CDC guidelines for schools...Read more

House lawmakers use campaign money for membership dues to plush clubs

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WASHINGTON -- Several House members have reported paying for membership dues to luxurious social clubs from their campaign coffers, expenditures the Federal Election Commission automatically deems as prohibited personal use.

Rep. Terri A. Sewell's campaign spent more than $2,800 on dues to City Club Birmingham and $222 in similar fees to The ...Read more

Lawsuit challenges Pennsylvania's mandatory life prison terms for some murder convictions

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PHILADELPHIA -- A lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Pennsylvania Parole Board contends that the state's ban on parole eligibility for inmates serving life sentences for second-degree or felony-murder convictions is cruel punishment and should be struck down.

The complaint, filed in Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg by the Abolitionist Law ...Read more

Biden to call for moderate approach to reviving US economy

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WASHINGTON -- Joe Biden will call for a moderate approach toward reviving the U.S. economy if elected president that includes spurring manufacturing and encouraging innovation, shelving for now the more ambitious proposals pushed by progressive Democrats, people familiar with his plans said.

The Democratic nominee plans to deliver an economic ...Read more

Sen. Duckworth doesn't back down on military promotions after Vindman retirement

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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Tammy Duckworth will keep her hold on over 1,100 military promotions in place despite Wednesday's announcement of the retirement of Lt. Col. Alex Vindman, a key witness in the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

The Illinois Democrat announced the hold July 2 amid concerns that Vindman would not receive a promotion to the ...Read more