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Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Blasts Putin

35 minutes ago

The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee accused Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday of ordering a "deliberate campaign carefully constructed to undermine" last year's presidential election.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., made the charge as the Senate panel held a rare public hearing about Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. In his opening statement, Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., avoided any mention of last year's presidential campaign, but said efforts by Russia to "discredit the United States and weaken the West are not new."

Since the murder of North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother in Malaysia last month, the two countries have been embroiled in a diplomatic spat over his body.

Malaysia's prime minister says his country is prepared to release the body of Kim Jong Nam and allow an unspecified number of North Koreans to depart, in exchange for the return of nine Malaysians who had been blocked from leaving North Korea. He said a plane carrying the Malaysians had already taken off from Pyongyang.

A Mexican state's top law enforcement official is accused of conspiracy to smuggle and sell heroin, cocaine, and other drugs, after U.S. agents arrested state attorney general Edgar Veytia in San Diego this week. According to an arrest warrant, Veytia used the name "Diablo" and other aliases.

U.S. prosecutors say they'll seek to compel Veytia to forfeit some $250 million if he's convicted.

During his first trip to Turkey as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson said the U.S. and its NATO ally were struggling with "difficult choices" on a strategy to defeat the Islamic State in Syria.

The U.S. has been trying to balance its reliance on Turkey in the fight against ISIS with its support for Kurdish fighters in northern Syria — which infuriates Turkey. Tillerson said he and Turkish leaders discussed options for how to clear the extremist group from its remaining strongholds, such as Raqqa, and stabilize those areas.

A Forgotten Shipwreck Imperils Washington's Oysters

1 hour ago

Driving up the coast toward Bay Center, Wash., it's obvious when you start to approach Willapa Bay. Fifteen-foot high piles of empty shells begin to appear on the side of the road. This is an oyster town.

But it's also home to a sinking piece of history.

While the political world continues to focus on the machinations of congressional investigations about Russia (which won't have conclusions drawn for months, if not longer) and where health care goes from here, there's another, arguably more important story going on — ramped-up military engagement.

Here's the New York Times Thursday:

Your sniffles may feel worse if you're lonely.

Saying that Attorney General Jeff Sessions' threat to strip billions in federal grant money from so-called "sanctuary cities" is illegal and unconstitutional, the city of Seattle has sued President Trump and his administration, in a lawsuit that names Trump, Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

In the heart of Beirut, architect Mona El Hallak herds a group of students together outside a monumental mansion — a vast, elegant building whose yellow walls and graceful pillars are ravaged by thousands of bullet holes.

"We are," she shouts over the cacophonous traffic, "at the intersection of Damascus Road and Independence Avenue."

Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit President Trump in Palm Beach, Fla., next week, for talks that will likely range from economic to security issues. The first meeting between the two leaders will stretch from April 6-7.

Last year, the U.S. trade deficit with China topped $347 billion, with total trade worth more than half a trillion dollars, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

A Chinese spokesperson notes that before the visit to Trump's Mar-a-Lago property, Xi will spend three days in Finland.

Siberian Teenagers Get Resourceful

7 hours ago

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Seventeen-year-old Indrani Das just won the top high school science prize in the country. Das, who lives in Oradell, N.J., took home $250,000 from the former Intel Science Talent Search, now the Regeneron Science Talent Search, for her study of brain injuries and neuron damage. In her spare time, she's already working with patients as a certified EMT.

Envisioning A Museum Of Memory In Beirut

7 hours ago

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Some of President Trump's proposed spending cuts would cripple programs that benefit communities full of his rural supporters, but at least in Strong City, Kan., some say they are ready "to bleed a little bit."

Strong City is a former railroad town of about 460 people, less than half the size it was in 1890. Trump's proposed budget aims at killing the program that threw a lifeline to the town's water system.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin says the Department of Veterans Affairs "is on a path toward recovery."

"We have a clear mandate to do better, [and] to make sure that we're honoring our mission to serve our veterans," Shulkin told NPR's Morning Edition.

North Carolina state legislators are moving forward with a proposal to repeal most of the state's controversial "bathroom bill," which has passed the state Senate and now heads to the House for approval, member station WUNC reports.

Late on Wednesday, Republican state lawmakers and the Democratic governor of North Carolina said they had reached a deal to repeal HB2, the law that restricts the abilities of transgender people to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.

President Trump's executive order to restrict travel to the U.S. from six majority-Muslim countries and suspend the U.S. refugee program has been blocked indefinitely.

The state of Hawaii sued to stop the travel ban, arguing the president's policy violates the Constitution. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson has extended his nationwide order blocking the executive order while the lawsuit continues.

After Fleeing An Apocalypse, La Vida Boheme Embraces Its Immigrant Story

17 hours ago

La Vida Boheme plays upbeat music on somber themes. The Venezuelan rockers' last album, Será, came as student protests were erupting in their home town of Caracas. The band's booking agent was murdered; their tour manager was kidnapped. The four members of the group locked themselves inside their apartments. They would later describe the record, which won a Latin Grammy, as "the soundtrack to an apocalypse."

Two separate high-profile incidents broadcast this week highlighted the criticism black women regularly face in the workplace and spurred many to share their own experiences on social media.

For years, a State Department employee allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars in gifts from Chinese intelligence agents and failed to report the repeated contacts to U.S. officials.

Candace Claiborne pleaded not guilty at a federal court appearance Wednesday to charges of obstructing an official proceeding and making false statements to the FBI, over her relationship with the Chinese agents.

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the world's most recognizable people.

An international soccer superstar, blessed with good looks and a golden foot, Ronaldo indisputably stands as one of the greatest to take the pitch. He's so beloved, in fact, that he just got an international airport named after him in his native Madeira Islands in Portugal — plus a bust fashioned in his likeness.

Hungarian Legislation Threatens American University In Budapest

19 hours ago

The right-wing government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is taking steps that could cause a popular American university in Budapest to close.

Under a bill submitted to the Hungarian Parliament late Tuesday, non-EU universities issuing diplomas in Hungary would be required to have a campus in their home country.

When President Trump signed an order to roll back climate policies, he promised more jobs for coal miners.

"My administration is putting an end to the war on coal. Gonna have clean coal, really clean coal," Trump said in making the announcement at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters Tuesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with President Trump next week, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

This visit will be the first in-person meeting between Trump and Xi, after Trump's sharp criticisms of China during the presidential campaign.

Trump and Xi are likely to get together at Trump's Mar-A-Lago resort, though the White House hasn't officially announced the visit. Likely topics for discussion are Trump's threats to counter China's trade policies, which he has called unfair.

The White House says President Trump has a new special assistant on his staff — his daughter Ivanka. The announcement comes a week after the president's oldest daughter moved into her own office in the West Wing to work on women's issues.

Her shift from an informal adviser at the White House to an unpaid government employee is small but important. She was already applying for security clearance, had access to classified information and was meeting with world leaders.

Carfentanil is an opiate 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. And since last summer, it's been killing addicts and confounding first responders across the country.

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