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Obama, Merkel: West united...California firefighters injured...Jeb Bush moving closer



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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (AHN'-geh-lah MEHR'-kuhl) say Russian aggression against Ukraine has reinforced U.S. and Europe unity. In a joint news conference at the White House, Obama said Russian forces continue to support separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine and coordinate attacks. He held open the prospect that if a new round of diplomacy this week fails, the U.S. could send Ukraine's military defensive weaponry. Merkel and other European leaders oppose arming Ukraine, but she says the West must stand up for Ukraine, otherwise "the peaceful order of Europe" will be undermined.

SWALL MEADOWS, Calif. (AP) — Four firefighters have been injured battling a wind-driven wildfire that's ravaged communities along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada and destroyed 40 homes. California fire officials say more than 200 people remain under orders to stay away from their homes in Swall Meadows and nearby Paradise. However, firefighters have the blaze about 85 percent contained.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is moving closer to a White House bid. The Republican says he plans to release thousands of emails tomorrow along with the first chapter of a related e-book designed to highlight his leadership style. In a conference call today, Bush also cited the support from his family as he eyes the 2016 campaign, saying "My life is totally focused on this."

BALTIMORE (AP) — A gang member who prosecutors say dealt drugs, impregnated four guards and oversaw a drug-smuggling operation from inside a Baltimore jail has been sentenced to 12 years in prison. Prosecutors say Tavon White used contraband cellphones while an inmate at the Baltimore City Detention Center to direct gang activity on the streets. As part of a plea deal for a reduced sentence, White testified against five corrections officers, a kitchen worker and two other inmates who authorities say helped him run the operation.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia lawmaker who was jailed after a sex scandal involving a teenager has pleaded not guilty to four new felony charges including perjury. Delegate Joseph Morrissey pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor after prosecutors accused the 57-year-old of having sex with a 17-year-old employee of his law office. He's spending nights in jail and attending legislative sessions during the day on work release. The new charges pertain to a document presented in court in the first case.

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The Associated Press

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