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US, Iran step back from the brink; Trump opts for sanctions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. and Iran stepped back from the brink of possible war Wednesday, as President Donald Trump indicated he would not respond militarily after no one was harmed in Iran's missile strike on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. Trump says Iran appeared to be “standing down. The Iranian strikes had come days after Trump authorized the targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force. Trump said Americans should be “extremely grateful and happy” with the outcome. Speaking from the White House, Trump announced that the U.S. will immediately place new sanctions on Iran “until Iran changes its behavior.”


At least 63 Canadians dead in Iran plane crash

TORONTO (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed his government will get answers after a Ukrainian passenger jet crashed, killing at least 63 Canadians, just minutes after taking off from Iran's capital. Trudeau said his foreign minister has been in touch with the government of Ukraine and his transport minister is reaching out to his international counterparts. Getting answers from Iran may prove difficult as Canada closed its embassy in Iran in 2012 and suspended diplomatic relations. The crash of the Ukraine International Airlines plane came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers.


McConnell says 'no haggling' as impeachment standoff deepens

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says “there will be no haggling” over the terms of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. He's brushing back House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's demand for details on the upcoming trial and Democrats' insistence on new witnesses. It's a deepening standoff that's testing the two leaders and leaving the Senate proceedings at a standstill. Pelosi has delayed sending the Senate the articles of impeachment and wants to see details of McConnell's proposed rules for the trial. McConnell said Wednesday there's nothing to negotiate. He says he has the 51 Senate votes needed to launch the trial.


Weinstein lawyers want judge off rape case over texting jabs

NEW YORK (AP) — A second day of jury selection in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial has wrapped up in what is expected to be a lengthy process. The judge denied a request Wednesday by Weinstein's lawyers to ban attorney Gloria Allred from the courtroom because the defense is considering calling her as a witness. She represents some of Weinstein's accusers. Weinstein's lawyers also asked the judge in the New York trial to step aside a day after he threatened to jail the 67-year-old disgraced movie mogul for texting in court. The judge has not yet ruled on that request. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and sexual assault. He has said any sexual activity was consensual.


Prince Harry and Meghan to 'step back' as senior UK royals

LONDON (AP) — In a stunning declaration, Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, said they are planning “to step back” as senior members of the royal family and “work to become financially independent.” A statement issued by the couple Wednesday evening also said they intend to “balance” their time between the U.K. and North America. The royal couple says after months of reflection, they will "carve out a progressive new role within this institution." Harry, 35, is a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and is sixth in line to the British throne. Before marrying Harry in 2018, the Duchess of Sussex was an American actress known as Meghan Markle.


Gunman gets life term in `Fast and Furious' border killing

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A man convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent in a case that exposed a botched federal gun program known as “Fast and Furious” has been sentenced to life in prison. A federal judge sentenced Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes in a Tucson courtroom after hearing tearful statements from the sisters of Brian Terry. The Mexican man is one of seven people charged in the killing of Terry. He and other agents were conducting an operation in the desert in 2010 when he was killed. The shooting revealed a failed sting in which U.S. agents allowed criminals to buy firearms with the intention of tracking them.


Two New York teens plead guilty to plotting school attack

ALBION, N.Y. (AP) — Two teenagers charged with plotting to attack their New York middle school with guns and explosives have pleaded guilty to conspiracy. The boys appeared Tuesday in Orleans County Family Court, where they admitted their part in what investigators said in November was a credible threat against Albion Middle School. A third boy is due in court later this month. The three are all under 16 years old and charged as juveniles. They were arrested in November after police said they set a date to attack the rural western New York school using explosives and firearms. No explosives were recovered.


Idaho resort looks for skier after avalanche; 2 others die

KELLOGG, Idaho (AP) — Officials are searching for a person who was skiing at an Idaho resort near where avalanches killed two skiers and injured five others. The Silver Mountain Resort near the town of Kellogg was closed Wednesday to focus resources on the search for the missing skier. The resort says it received a telephone call Wednesday morning from a concerned family member of the missing skier. The ski patrol, aided by dog units, is conducting the search. The avalanche happened Tuesday morning on Wardner Peak, an area of the resort where the ski runs are rated at the highest difficulty level.


Severe storms, twisters will be possible across the South

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Forecasters say severe storms including tornadoes are possible from eastern Texas across the Deep South later this week. The Storm Prediction Center says more than 9 million people live in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana where there's an enhanced risk of severe weather on Friday. Storms will move eastward on Saturday, with the potential bull's-eye covering millions of people across much of Mississippi and Alabama, plus parts of eastern Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle. Forecasters say heavy rains are possible in addition to damaging winds. Many streams already are at or near flood levels because of earlier storms.


Florida mom hits jackpot: 2 sets of twin boys born in 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A Florida mom says doctors told her she had a better chance of winning the lottery than of giving birth to two sets of twins in the same year. But Alexzandria Wolliston says she feels like she hit the jackpot with the births of Mark and Malakhi in March and Kaleb and Kaylen in late December. The West Palm Beach woman also has a 3-year-old daughter at home. She said she recently learned that both of her grandmothers lost twin boys at birth, which makes her believe her four babies are a blessing from above.

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