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Official says US, Taliban reach Afghanistan truce agreement

MUNICH (AP) — A senior U.S. official says the United States and the Taliban have reached a truce agreement that will take effect “very soon” and could lead to withdrawals of American troops from Afghanistan. The official said Friday the agreement for a seven-day “reduction in violence” to be followed by the start of all-Afghan peace talks within 10 days is “very specific” and covers the entire country including Afghan forces. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to discuss details ahead of an official announcement. The developments came as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper met Friday in Munich with Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani.


US won't charge ex-FBI official McCabe, a Trump target

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors have declined to charge former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, closing an investigation into whether he lied to federal officials about his involvement in a news media disclosure. That's according to a statement from McCabe's legal team on Friday. The decision resolves a criminal investigation that spanned more than a year and began with a referral from the Justice Department’s inspector general, which said McCabe repeatedly lied about having authorized a subordinate to share information with a newspaper reporter for a 2016 article about an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation. Prosecutors told McCabe’s lawyers they decided “not to pursue criminal charges" against him after careful consideration.


Trump ignores AG Barr's request to stop tweeting about DOJ

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is ignoring his attorney general's public request to stop tweeting about the Justice Department. Trump says he has the legal right to ask the agency to intervene in a criminal case, but he's so far “chosen not to.” Trump's Friday morning tweet came just hours after Attorney General William Barr said in a striking interview with ABC News that the president's tweets were making it “impossible” to do his job, especially following the department's bungled handling of the sentencing recommendation for Trump ally and confidant Roger Stone. Trump has the right to compel DOJ to investigate as an executive branch agency. But historically, the Justice Department has functioned as an independent agency.


US appeals panel upholds block of Medicaid work requirements

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal appeals court panel in Washington has upheld a lower court's decision that blocked the Trump administration's work requirements for Medicaid recipients. Friday's decision from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., found Arkansas' work requirements for Medicaid recipients to be “arbitrary and capricious.” The Trump administration has allowed states to require able-bodied adults drawing Medicaid benefits to work, volunteer or study. Officials argue that work can make people healthier. Nearly 20 states are in various stages of trying to implement work requirements. Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he's hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will review the case.


Prosecutor: Weinstein saw victims as 'complete disposables'

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors completed their closing argument Friday at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial by saying he considered himself such a big shot in Hollywood that he thought he could get away with treating aspiring actresses as “complete disposables.” The prosecutors were looking to focus the jury's attention back on the accusers who testified and their harrowing accounts alleging rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and casting couch excuses. The defense contends that the two women he is charged with attacking were opportunists who willingly latched on to Weinstein and acquiesced to sex with him because they thought it would help their careers.


Iowa Democrats hire lawyers to investigate caucus chaos

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Democratic Party officials have agreed to hire two high-profile lawyers to investigate the factors leading to a meltdown in the state's lead-off presidential caucuses and how the party responded. The party's State Central Committee voted Thursday night to spend up to $50,000 to retain Nick Klinefeldt, a former U.S. attorney, and Bonnie Campbell, a former Iowa attorney general. The Des Moines Register reports that officials hope the review will be completed within 45 days. The party has been reeling since the night of the caucuses Feb. 3 when problems with a mobile app and other issues prevented it from immediately releasing results.


Evidence in trash can links dead neighbor to missing SC girl

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Investigators say they found a man dead inside his South Carolina home shortly after finding an item from a missing 6-year-old girl inside his trash can. Faye Marie Swetlik disappeared Monday while playing in her front yard after getting off the school bus in Cayce. Her death is being investigated as a homicide, although details about how she died haven't been released. Cayce Police say the girl's body was found Thursday in the woods and police think it was put there after investigators found the evidence inside the trash can of a neighbor, 30-year-old Coty Scott Taylor. The coroner won't say how the girl or Taylor died until autopsies are performed Saturday.


Haiti health workers say 13 children died in residence fire

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Health care workers say a fire swept through a Haitian children's home run by a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit group, killing 13 children. Rose-Marie Louis, a child-care worker, told The Associated Press that she saw 13 children's bodies being carried out of the Orphanage of the Church of Bible Understanding in the Kenscoff area outside Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. Louis, who worked at the home, said Friday that the fire began around 9 p.m. Thursday and firefighters took about 1.5 hours to arrive. She says the orphanage had been using candles for light due to problems with its generator and inverter.


Man pleads not guilty in deadly California bus shooting

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A man accused of opening fire aboard a Greyhound bus in California has pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder. The Bakersfield Californian reports that 33-year-old Anthony Devonte Williams of Capital Heights, Maryland, entered his pleas Thursday in Kern County Superior Court. The shooting occurred Feb. 3 as the bus was on Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. Authorities and a witness say a passenger was cursing and muttering incoherently before he opened fire. Other passengers disarmed the man and forced him off the bus. A woman was killed and five other people were wounded.


Elderly, halfhearted Florida bank robber won't be jailed

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A 74-year-old Florida man won't go to jail for his halfhearted attempt at bank robbery caused by depression over his wife's death. Sandy Hawkins reached an agreement with Palm Beach County prosecutors on Friday. He will spend the next year at a Christian residence for the homeless and if he stays out of trouble the charges will be dropped. Hawkins was unarmed when he went into a bank in November and demanded $1,100. He made the teller take back $900 after she gave him $2,000 and then lost the moneybag after leaving the bank. He confessed to police the next day.

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