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Where did El Niño go? Heat, dry spell stoke drought worry
SONOMA — Where did El Niño go? Winter has suddenly switched off the rain and flipped on heat up to 95 degrees in California, raising jitters that the strong El Niño might not be the drought-buster the crispy state had hoped. “Forget El Niño, this is El No-no!” YouTube celebrity Hannah Har...
By Ellen Knickmeyer The Associated Press FULL STORY
Prosecutors challenge proposed state sentencing changes
SACRAMENTO — California prosecutors announced Friday that they are seeking to block Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed ballot initiative to reduce the state’s prison population. The California District Attorneys Association and Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert say in a lawsuit...
By Don Thompson The Associated Press FULL STORY
Urbanization leads to change in type of bacteria in the home
WASHINGTON — Whether it’s a jungle hut or a high-rise apartment, your home is covered in bacteria, and new research from the Amazon suggests city dwellers might want to open a window. Scientists traveled from remote villages in Peru to a large Brazilian city to begin tracking the effects of urb...
By Lauran Neergaard The Associated Press FULL STORY
‘Finally’: Pope meets Russian Orthodox leader
MEXICO CITY — With an exclamation of “Finally,” Pope Francis embraced Patriarch Kirill on Friday in the first meeting between a pontiff and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, a brief but historic encounter held during a stopover in Cuba before the pope flew on to Mexico. The meeting in ...
By Nicole Winfield The Associated Press FULL STORY
Eurozone economy ends 2015 with whimper as dark clouds grow
LONDON — The 19-country eurozone is in its longest stretch of economic expansion since the global financial crisis in 2008 but growth remains paltry despite a series of tail winds and is susceptible to a reverse if the worst fears in financial markets come to fruition. The region’s economy grew...
By Pan Pylas The Associated Press FULL STORY
Iran rules ‘decadent’ Valentine’s Day celebrations a crime
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran says it is cracking down on Valentine’s Day celebrations and shops engaging in them will be guilty of a crime. Iranian news outlets reported the police directive Friday warning retailers against promoting “decadent Western culture through Valentine’s Day rituals.” Poli...
The Associated Press FULL STORY
Brazil minister says no doubt Zika connected to microcephaly
BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil’s health minister said Friday that authorities were “absolutely sure” that the Zika virus is connected to devastating birth defects and rejected criticism that the government was slow to investigate the surge of cases that set off international alarms. Marcelo Cas...
The Associated Press FULL STORY
Obama moves to protect nearly 1.8M acres of California desert
LOS ANGELES — President Barack Obama granted national monument status Friday to nearly 1.8 million acres of scenic Southern California desert, a move the White House says will maintain in perpetuity the region’s fragile ecosystem and natural resources, as well as provide recreational opportuniti...
By John Rogers The Associated Press FULL STORY
Yellen: Too early to determine impact of global economy
WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen cautioned Thursday that global economic pressures pose risks to the U.S. economy but said it’s too soon to know whether those risks are severe enough to alter the Fed’s interest-rate policies. Yellen said the Fed will determine at its next meeti...
By Martin Crutsinger The Associated Press FULL STORY
Congress gives final OK to banning local Internet taxes
WASHINGTON — Congress voted Thursday to permanently bar state and local governments from taxing access to the Internet, as lawmakers leapt at an election-year chance to demonstrate their opposition to imposing levies on online service. On a vote of 75-20, the Senate gave final congressional appro...
The Associated Press FULL STORY
House sends North Korea sanctions bill to president for signature
WASHINGTON — Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation Friday that hits North Korea with more stringent sanctions for refusing to stop its nuclear weapons program. House Republicans and Democrats joined together to overwhelmingly approve the bill by a vote of 408-2 less than a week after N...
The Associated Press FULL STORY
Presidential contenders fight for minority voters in S.C.
DENMARK, S.C. — The fight for black voters turned into a tug-of-war over President Barack Obama’s legacy Friday as Democratic presidential hopefuls looked for an edge in South Carolina. Republicans, meanwhile, crisscrossed the state in search of a path out of Donald Trump’s long shadow. Hil...
By Seanna Adcox and Kathleen Hennesey The Associated Press FULL STORY

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