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Front-runners Buttigieg and Sanders beat back debate attacks

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — With urgency rising in their nomination fight, Democratic presidential front-runners Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg beat back a barrage of attacks during a Friday night debate in New Hampshire. The Democrats’ top presidential contenders clashed repeatedly over experience and ability to beat President Donald Trump. The debate tested the strength of a new front-runner, former Midwestern Mayor Buttigieg, and struggling former Vice President Joe Biden as well as Vermont Sen. Sanders. Biden raised questions about Sanders’ status as a democratic socialist and warned Democratic voters that Trump and his allies would use the socialism label in congressional elections as well as the presidential voting.


The Latest: Bloomberg isn't at debate, but he's name-dropped

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Billionaire Michael Bloomberg didn’t qualify for the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire -- but it didn’t always feel that way. The candidates on stage Friday night were asked several times about the former mayor of New York City. Elizabeth Warren responded, “I don’t think anyone ought to be able to buy their way into the nomination or to be president of the United States.” She also said candidates shouldn’t “suck up to billionaires to do it.” That was a swipe at Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, who have relied on large donors to finance their campaigns.


Payback: Trump ousts officials who testified on impeachment

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is exacting swift punishment against those who crossed him during his impeachment hearings. On Friday he ousted two government officials who had delivered damaging testimony. The president took retribution just two days after his acquittal by the Senate. First came news that Trump had ousted Lt. Col Alexander Vindman, the decorated soldier and national security aide who played a central role in the Democrats' impeachment case. He was escorted out of the White House complex Friday. Next came word that Gordon Sondland, Trump's ambassador to the European Union, also was out.


Bolton reviewing letter from White House about manuscript

Former national security adviser John Bolton's team is accusing the White House of trying to suppress his unpublished book. This is after word surfaced that the National Security Council had sent him a letter expressing concerns that the manuscript contains classified information. The White House has been scrutinizing Bolton's book, which is due out next month, for classified materials as part of a standard pre-publication review process. Bolton adviser Sarah Tinsley issued a statement Friday acknowledging that a letter from the NSC had been sent to Bolton's lawyer. She said Bolton was reviewing the letter and would respond. She said Bolton continues to believe “that the manuscript contains no legitimately classified material."


Anger and virus cases grow in China with 722 total deaths

BEIJING (AP) — The number of confirmed cases of the new virus has risen again in China while fatalities increased to 722, as the ruling Communist Party faces anger and recriminations from the public over the death of a doctor who was threatened by police after trying to sound the alarm about the disease over a month ago. The government announced that another 3,399 people had been diagnosed over the last 24 hours, reversing two days of declines, and raising the total accumulated number of cases on the mainland to 34,546. Cruise ship passengers faced more woe as Japan reported three more cases for a total of 64 on one quarantined vessel. Another has been turned away. Hong Kong began enforcing a 14-day quarantine for arrivals from mainland China.


Ex-financier gets 9 months in college admissions scandal

BOSTON (AP) — The former CEO of a top investment company has received the harshest sentence of any of the parents caught up in the college admissions bribery scandal. Douglas Hodge was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Boston to nine months in prison and ordered to pay a $750,000 fine and perform 500 hours of community service. Prosecutors say the former CEO of the Pacific Investment Management Co. paid bribes totaling $850,000 to get four of his children into the University of Southern California and Georgetown University as fake athletic recruits. He also tried, and failed, to get a fifth child into Loyola Marymount University. Hodge apologized in a statement read in court.


Appeals court dismisses Democrats' lawsuit against Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court in Washington has dismissed one of several ongoing lawsuits charging that President Donald Trump has illegally profited off the presidency. The lawsuit the court dismissed Friday was filed by Democratic members of Congress in 2017. The court was not ruling on whether Trump violated the law. It just said that the approximately 200 members of Congress who brought the lawsuit lack the ability to sue. The lawsuit had charged that the president violated the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting benefits to his businesses from foreign governments without congressional approval.


Probe: Bryant helicopter was 100 feet from clear skies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal investigators say wreckage from the helicopter that crashed last month, killing Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others did not show any evidence of engine failure. That's according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board. The helicopter crashed into a hillside outside Los Angeles on Jan. 26. The NTSB is investigating the accident, including any role heavy fog played, and a final report isn’t expected for at least a year. A witness told the NTSB that the helicopter was flying forward and downward through the fog before it crashed into the hill.


Principal on leave for post on Kobe Bryant's death resigns

CAMAS, Wash. (AP) — A high school principal in Washington state who was on administrative leave for suggesting in a personal Facebook post that NBA superstar Kobe Bryant's death was deserved has resigned. On the day Bryant died, Camas High School Principal Liza Sejkora wrote that “karma caught up with a rapist today.” Bryant was accused of raping an employee at a Colorado resort in 2003. Prosecutors dropped a sexual assault charge at the accuser's request. Sejkora apologized and removed her post, but the Camas School District said it put her on leave because of threats and community concern. Her resignation was announced Friday. Bryant, his daughter and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash.


Texas lawmakers are drafting a hair discrimination bill

HOUSTON (AP) — The Texas Legislative Black Caucus announced it's working on a bill that would ban discrimination based on hair textures and styles commonly associated with race following the suspension of a black high school student near Houston. The Texas Tribune reports lawmakers, accompanied by black leaders and advocates, announced the CROWN Act at a press conference on Thursday. The bill is a show of support for students like Deandre Arnold, who was suspended from Hill High School in Mont Belvieu and won't be able to attend graduation unless he cuts his dreadlocks.

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