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Grassley has 'cordial' breakfast with Garland...Syrian troops begin offensive...Suit filed over shootings

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WASHINGTON (AP) — According to a statement from his office, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley had a "cordial and pleasant" breakfast today with the man who's been nominated by President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court seat that had been held by Antonin Scalia. But the statement says Grassley told Merrick Garland why the Senate won't be moving forward on the nomination during what it called a "hyper-partisan election year." Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, but has refused to let that panel hold hearings on the nomination.

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian troops and their allies have started an offensive aimed at retaking an important village south of the city of Aleppo. It's held by militants, including some from the local affiliate of al-Qaida. The hilltop village overlooks a supply route connecting the capital, Damascus, to Aleppo -- parts of which have been held by opposition groups since 2012.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Four Alaska Air National Guard rescuers are hoping today to reach two skiers who've been stuck on a glacier since Friday. The rescuers parachuted onto the glacier about 15 miles from the stranded skiers, and then trudged several miles through difficult terrain and harsh weather. They have another six and a-half miles to go to reach the skiers, who dug snow caves to protect themselves from powerful wind and heavy snow. A helicopter has dropped supplies to them.

UTICA, N.Y. (AP) — A ceremony is planned this week at the central New York high school attended by former NFL player Will Smith, who was slain in New Orleans last weekend. Smith graduated from Proctor High School in Utica in 2000 before going on to play for Ohio State and the New Orleans Saints. He'd been planning to return to Utica this week for an annual dinner he hosted. New Orleans police say Smith and his wife, Racquel, were shot by a man in an act of road rage. Smith died at the scene while his wife suffered a leg wound.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The husband of one of the three people killed by a white supremacist at two Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City is suing over the sale of the shotguns used in the April 2014 attack. The Kansas City Star reports that the lawsuit filed by Jim LaManno names Wal-Mart and several other entities. Frazier Miller was sentenced to death last year for the shooting that killed LaManno's wife, Terri, and two others in Overland Park, Kansas. Miller was a felon and prohibited from purchasing guns. The lawsuit says Miller used two weapons that were purchased by a friend at a gun show and a Wal-Mart.

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