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Trump administration focus on immigration, drug war outweigh democracy concerns in Honduras

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WASHINGTON -- In what critics call a weakening of U.S. support for democracy in Latin America, the Trump administration appears to be prioritizing concerns about illegal immigration and drug trafficking from Honduras over the country's violent and flawed election process.

The administration's relative silence on last month's disputed election ...Read more

'Make-or-break' time for South Africa as ANC chooses new leaders

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Almost a quarter-century after Nelson Mandela led the African National Congress to power at the end of apartheid and the world heralded the birth of the "rainbow nation," South Africa stands at a crossroads.

As delegates of the ruling African National Congress meet this weekend to choose a successor to President Jacob...Read more

'Puppy mills' targeted by one state, activists seek others

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WASHINGTON -- When the Humane Society's John Goodwin visited a large dog-breeding facility in North Carolina last year, the smell of ammonia from urine and feces inside the building was so strong he got sick and had to scurry outside.

The dogs, which ranged in size from teacup poodles to Labrador retrievers, were held in wire cages, causing ...Read more

Sandy Hook: Honoring Emilie

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On an autumn afternoon in Brush Prairie, Wash., aspen trees drop golden leaves as a damp breeze pulls through the branches of tall cedars outside the home of Robbie and Alissa Parker. Painted pumpkins sit in the shade of their covered porch. A small fountain bubbles next to the front walk, where a child's pail and shovel sits on a stone wall.

...Read more

Mexican resort blames US woman for alleged sexual assault by waiter, attorney says

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- A San Francisco Bay Area woman suing an exclusive Mexican resort after she claimed that a waiter sexually assaulted her while she slept in her villa is partially responsible for the incident, according to a court filing by the Esperanza resort's defense team -- a tactic her attorney calls "victim-blaming."

On Tuesday, the ...Read more

Kentucky state lawmaker kills himself following molestation allegation

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A Kentucky state lawmaker accused of molesting a teenager committed suicide Wednesday after denying the allegation and refusing calls by leaders of both parties to resign, according to local media reports.

State Rep. Dan Johnson, also a pastor who called himself "pope," was the subject of an extensive report published Monday by the Kentucky ...Read more

The 100-million-year itch: Scientists find ticks that fed on dinosaur blood

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Scientists have made a skin-crawling discovery: Ancient ticks, trapped in amber, that fed on the blood of feathered dinosaurs nearly 100 million years ago.

The specimens, described in the journal Nature Communications, include the oldest dinosaur parasite to be found together with remains from its extinct host -- and offer a smoking gun in the ...Read more

Kentucky state Rep. Dan Johnson commits suicide after molestation accusations, reports say

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A Kentucky lawmaker who on Tuesday denied accusations that he molested a 17-year-old girl in 2012 died Wednesday night, according to Gov. Matt Bevin.

State Rep. Dan Johnson died of a single gunshot wound on Greenwell Ford Road at an undetermined time Wednesday night, Bullitt County coroner Dave Billings confirmed. The gunshot ...Read more

Venezuelan president's 'Narco Nephews' were no strangers to violence, text messages show

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In one text exchange, the cousins made fun of the reaction from a drug trafficker who owed them money when he was told that there was already a contract out on him. In others, they shared gruesome details of hits already committed, including photos of a severed head. And in yet another exchange, they argued over the killing of somebody who ...Read more

Campaign against Darrell Issa discloses donors: Leo DiCaprio, Jane Fonda, Ted Danson and more

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SAN DIEGO -- A political group that has brought professional political organizers into the campaign against Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has received its most significant contributions to date -- from actress Jane Fonda and other celebrities.

Fonda gave $100,000 to Flip the 49th - Neighbors in Action, which recently registered as a political ...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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Longtime PBS host Tavis Smiley suspended amid sexual misconduct allegations

Longtime talk show host Tavis Smiley has been indefinitely suspended from PBS amid "troubling" allegations that he has sexually harassed staffers and retaliated against those who rebuffed him.

Officials at PBS recently contracted a law firm after they received a series...Read more

Judges to hold unprecedented hearing on allegations of racial bias by ATF

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CHICAGO -- The drug stash house sting has been a bread-and-butter part of the federal law enforcement playbook for years.

By dangling the promise of a big score, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives convinced hundreds of would-be robbers across the country that they were stealing large quantities of narcotics, only to ...Read more

Analysis: The political center takes center stage in Jones' win

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Democratic win Tuesday in Alabama's U.S. Senate race may have seemed the most striking example yet of the bitterly negative tenor of American politics in the last several decades, as it has veered from one political pole to the other like a frenetic metronome.

Doug Jones' victory over Republican Roy Moore by little more ...Read more

In Alabama and across the country, pride swells as black female voters show they matter

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Every election since she was 16, Catrena Norris Carter has gone door to door, urging black Alabama voters to the polls.

In the months leading up to Tuesday's U.S. Senate race, the community activist and a band of mostly black women registered college students to vote, waved signs on street corners and egged on fellow African...Read more

Jones, Trump discuss finding common ground

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WASHINGTON -- Sen.-elect Doug Jones said he spoke with top Republicans on Wednesday, including President Donald Trump, and discussed finding common ground.

The Democrat scored a stunning victory Tuesday night over GOP nominee Roy Moore in the special election for Alabama's Senate seat.

Jones said he spoke with Trump, Senate Majority Leader ...Read more

House GOP charts spending collision with Senate

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WASHINGTON -- House Republicans are continuing on course with a spending strategy expected to fail in the Senate as they huddled Wednesday to discuss other pressing matters that might ride on the must-pass measure.

GOP leaders signaled an intention to move forward with a plan to pass a spending bill next week that would fully fund defense ...Read more

Torture death of 8-year-old Chicago girl leads to $48M jury award over doctor missteps

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CHICAGO -- For five days, jurors heard how Illinois' child protection system had repeatedly failed Gizzell Ford, an 8-year-old girl found strangled, starved and brutally beaten inside her grandmother's Chicago apartment.

They were "blown away" by crime scene photos and injury details, one juror said, so horrific the judge stopped opening ...Read more

Black Democrats feel joy — and vindication — in Jones victory

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WASHINGTON -- Black Democrats on Capitol Hill are finally feeling elated -- and validated -- as they look ahead in the aftermath of the Alabama Senate race.

After years of griping that national party leaders aren't taking their advice on how to win elections across the South, African-American lawmakers Wednesday saw the story of the Doug Jones ...Read more

Repair of Puerto Rico's power grid won't be complete until May, Army Corps of Engineers says

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WASHINGTON -- Puerto Rico's electrical grid is unlikely to be fully restored until the end of May, the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday -- months longer than the timeline offered by the island's governor.

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, commanding general and chief engineer for the Corps, said in an interview Wednesday that he ...Read more

Ecuador's vice president sentenced to six years for corruption

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QUITO, Ecuador -- Ecuadorean Vice President Jorge Glas has been sentenced to six years in prison for taking bribes from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

Eight others were also handed different sentences, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

The convicted will have to pay a total of $33.5 million in damages to the state.

Prosecutors ...Read more