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White House: Politically motivated attacks...North Korean warning...Plane crash probe

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A spokesman for President Donald Trump says the White House is "simply taking proactive steps" in preserving material that could be connected to Russian interference in the 2016 election and other related investigations. The spokesman also says accusations of nefarious ties between the president and Russia are "false and politically motivated attacks." Three officials say a memo to preserve materials was issued by the White House counsel's office.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior U.S. general says a Russian airstrike in northern Syria hit U.S.-backed Syrian Arab forces who are part of the fight against the Islamic State group. Russia denied responsibility and issued a statement saying it had adhered to U.S. guidance on avoiding friendly forces in that area. The commander of the U.S.-led coalition says an unspecified number of American military advisers were a few miles away from the bombed site, out of immediate danger but close enough to see their Syrian partners get hit.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea is again spewing fiery rhetoric as an apparent reaction to the start of U.S.-South Korean war drills. Annual military drills between Seoul and Washington always rile Pyongyang, which calls the defensive drills a rehearsal for an invasion. This year's drills began Wednesday. The North's military said Thursday it will "mercilessly foil the nuclear war racket of the aggressors with its treasured nuclear sword." It says its reaction will be the toughest ever but didn't elaborate.

OTTAWA, Ill. (AP) — The National Weather Service says the tornado that roared through Ottawa, Illinois, and the small village of Naplate packed winds up to 155 mph. The tornado caused severe damage in Naplate and left one dead in Ottawa. The weather service did not rule out the possibility that other tornados may have touched down in the area southwest of Chicago. Baseball sized hail was also observed in the area. There were also tornadoes reported

METHUEN, Mass. (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board says investigators looking into a plane crash that killed a former mayor on Tuesday in Methuen (mih-THOO'-uhn) Massachusetts will look into the "man, the machine and the environment." Former Newburyport Mayor Alan Lavender was killed when the plane slammed into a condo building shortly after takeoff. The tail of the aircraft was left poking out of the building.

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