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Mexico rescuers battle fatigue and the clock in search for trapped quake survivors

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MEXICO CITY -- Battling grinding fatigue and mountains of rubble, rescuers Thursday raced against time in the search for survivors of Mexico's earthquake, keenly aware of ever-dwindling odds of finding people alive beneath the debris.

The death toll climbed to at least 245 in the wake of Tuesday's devastating magnitude 7.1 temblor, including ...Read more

As Maria nears Turks and Caicos, Caribbean islands assess yet another storm's fallout

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MIAMI -- Hurricane Maria reverted to a major Category 3 storm overnight, sweeping along near the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic early Thursday morning as it inches toward the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas. But as Maria continues to rip through the Caribbean, several islands -- some battered by their second ...Read more

Cruz praises end of DACA but has no solution for 'Dreamers'

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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz's tough stance on immigration has put him at odds with fellow Republicans in his own state as he prepares for a re-election run next year.

Cruz, R-Texas, has wholeheartedly praised President Donald Trump's decision to end the Obama-era DACA program in six months. Trump also asked Congress to consider a replacement ...Read more

Regional power split threatens to derail Zuma's succession vote

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JOHANNESBURG -- The top leadership of South Africa's ruling African National Congress starts meeting on Friday in a bid to heal a bitter split in the key region of KwaZulu-Natal that could derail its plans to elect a successor to President Jacob Zuma as party leader in December.

The three-day meeting comes after the High Court annulled the ...Read more

After one failed election, can Kenyans come together to make the redo succeed?

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- After Kenya's Supreme Court invalidated last month's election because of mass irregularities, President Uhuru Kenyatta was angry and pained. It was as if a thief had stolen his cow and he couldn't get it back, Kenyatta said last week.

He has declared that Kenya has "a problem" with the Supreme Court, calling the ...Read more

For Trump aides caught in Russia probe, legal bills and paranoia

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NEW YORK -- Four months as a communications adviser to Donald Trump's campaign have turned Michael Caputo's life upside down.

Since congressional investigators decided they wanted to interview Caputo as part of an investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, he's drained his children's college fund to pay more than $30,000 in ...Read more

Combating child abuse: States take action

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WASHINGTON -- Spurred by high-profile cases of endangered children and chronically overworked caseworkers, many states have taken steps this year to shield children from abuse and neglect, including adding caseworkers, tightening reporting requirements and expanding the definition of "abuse."

Some states and cities are pouring more money into ...Read more

Fatal police shootings up in St. Louis this year

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ST. LOUIS -- Amid a sixth day of protest after a police officer was found not guilty of murder in a 2011 fatal shooting, family and friends of another man killed by police gathered outside St. Louis City Hall on Wednesday.

On what would have been Isaiah "Vinny" Hammett's 22nd birthday, they served birthday cake and tried to draw attention to ...Read more

Baptism becomes mass funeral as church comes down in Mexico

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ATZALA, Mexico -- It was supposed to be a joyous occasion, the baptism of a baby girl in this sweltering sugar-cane hub south of Mexico City.

But the celebration at Santiago the Apostle Catholic Church turned abruptly tragic Tuesday when a massive earthquake rocked violently through the main square.

The colonial-style church shuddered, and ...Read more

Texas judge nominee equated transgender children, Satan

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Jeff Mateer, President Donald Trump's nominee for federal judge and a top official in the Texas attorney general's office, has come under fire after CNN reported Wednesday that he called transgender children evidence of Satan's plan and argued that gay marriage would lead to bestiality and multiple-partner weddings.

The quotes ...Read more

Mexico City residents whose buildings survived the 1985 quake were wrong about long-term safety

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MEXICO CITY -- Even in one of the most earthquake-prone cities in the world, Peniley Ramirez never felt in danger inside her apartment. The seven-story building in the Roma neighborhood had survived the devastating Mexico City quake of 1985, which killed thousands.

"People said it was perfect during '85, there was no damage at all, so we always...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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Obama says Republican health care plan would inflict 'real human suffering'

WASHINGTON -- The latest Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act would inflict "real human suffering" on millions of Americans, former President Barack Obama said Wednesday, speaking out in public defense of his signature health care reform effort.

The law ...Read more

Did White House cross the line with attacks on Comey?

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WASHINGTON -- Several lawmakers and former federal prosecutors say recent White House attacks on the credibility of fired FBI Director James Comey raise serious questions about whether it is attempting to discredit him as a possible grand jury witness in the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 campaign.

At the very least, they said...Read more

Federal judge dismisses lawsuit by Minn. wedding videographers who sued to refuse same-sex customers

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MINNEAPOLIS -- A St. Cloud couple will not be able to refuse wedding videography services for same-sex couples after a federal judge on Wednesday dismissed their lawsuit challenging Minnesota's human rights laws.

In a 63-page ruling Wednesday, Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim wrote that a provision of the Minnesota Human Rights Act ...Read more

Former Brat Pack star Anthony Michael Hall pleads no contest to assaulting neighbor

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LOS ANGELES -- "The Breakfast Club" actor Anthony Michael Hall, facing a felony battery charge for breaking a neighbor's wrist in a struggle, opted Wednesday to plead no contest to a misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Hall must also serve 40 hours of community service in connection with the conviction for assault...Read more

Judge lowers bail for Suge Knight's fiancee on charges she sold murder trial evidence to TMZ

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LOS ANGELES -- A Los Angeles County judge decided to sharply reduce the $2 million bail keeping Marion "Suge" Knight's fiancee jailed on charges that she violated a court order by selling a key video in Knight's murder trial to the gossip website TMZ.

Toi-Lin Kelly, 36, was arrested this month after a grand jury indicted her on charges of ...Read more

St. Louis police to get body cameras

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ST. LOUIS -- All St. Louis police officers could be wearing body cameras within 90 days after a contentious and chaotic vote of the St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment Wednesday.

Normally staid affairs, the meeting featured crowd members and board members shouting each other down amid the crowd's demands for immediate action.

...Read more

Trump team drafting plan to deport more young people — Central American teens

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WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration is weighing a new policy that would fast-track the deportation of thousands of Central American teenagers who arrived at the southern border, unaccompanied by adults.

According to two sources with knowledge of the developing policy proposal, the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants...Read more

Trump campaign bodyguard linked to ex-con who is key in Russia probes

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WASHINGTON -- Another connection has emerged between Donald Trump and Felix Sater, the Russian emigre and ex-con who has become a key figure in widening investigations into ties between Trump associates and Russian figures.

Trump plays down his relationship with Sater, despite growing evidence of links between the two, including recently ...Read more

Fla. nursing home victims' body heat was too high for them to be saved, officials say

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Three elderly victims stuck in a nursing home for days without air conditioning after Hurricane Irma had body temperatures ranging from 107 to 109.9 degrees, making them "far too late to be saved," state health care regulators revealed Wednesday.

Normal body temperature is 98.6.

The Florida Agency for Health Care ...Read more