McConnell’s year-end wish: Getting Congress to legalize hemp

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Pressed for time and pushed to move quickly on a border wall and criminal justice reform, the Senate’s top leader has his own priority in Congress’ lame-duck session: passing a farm bill that includes a full pardon for hemp, the non-intoxicating cousin of marijuana that’s making a comeback in his home state. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has guaranteed that his proposal to make hemp a legal agricultural commodity, removing it from the federal list of controlled substances, will be part of the final farm bill, a crucial measure for rural America and Kentucky, where the Republican senator faces re-election in 2020. He places it on a… Read More

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Groups demand end to info-sharing on asylum-seeking children

Earlier this year, the federal agency tasked with caring for asylum-seeking children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border officially took on a new, little heralded role: helping to deport relatives of the young migrants. In a Wednesday letter to the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security, 112 civil-liberties and immigrant-rights groups, child-welfare advocates and privacy activists are crying foul, demanding an immediate halt to what they call an illegal practice. HHS and DHS are using information on U.S.-based relatives and other potential sponsors obtained from detained children to “arrest and deport those families,” the authors complain. Already, they write,… Read More

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Arguments in “Serial” case focus on lawyer, alibi witness

BALTIMORE — Maryland’s highest court on Thursday heard arguments in their review of the high-profile case of a man whose murder conviction was chronicled in the hit “Serial” podcast that attracted millions of armchair detectives. A panel of seven judges with Maryland’s Court of Appeals heard about an hour’s worth of arguments from the state and the defense in Adnan Syed’s long-running case, reviewing a decision that could reinstate Syed’s conviction for the slaying of his high school sweetheart. He was convicted in 2000 of strangling 18-year-old Hae Min Lee and burying her body in a Baltimore park. He’s been serving a life sentence ever since. But a Baltimore judge… Read More

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Suicide, at 50-year peak, pushes down US life expectancy

NEW YORK — Suicides and drug overdoses pushed up U.S. deaths last year, and drove a continuing decline in how long Americans are expected to live. Overall, there were more than 2.8 million U.S. deaths in 2017, or nearly 70,000 more than the previous year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. It was the most deaths in a single year since the government began counting more than a century ago. The increase partly reflects the nation’s growing and aging population. But it’s deaths in younger age groups — particularly middle-aged people — that have had the largest impact on calculations of life expectancy, experts said. “These sobering… Read More

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Trump cancels Putin meeting over Russia-Ukraine sea dispute

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — President Donald Trump canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 Nations summit Thursday, injecting fresh drama into what already promised to be a tense gathering of world leaders. Trump cited Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian vessels as the reason, saying in a Tweet from Air Force One: “The ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia.” He added: “I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!” Coming just hours after the Kremlin said the meeting was on track, the declaration was a departure from much of Trump’s past dealings with… Read More

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China halts work by team on gene-edited babies

HONG KONG — China’s government ordered a halt Thursday to work by a medical team that claimed to have helped make the world’s first gene-edited babies, as a group of leading scientists declared that it’s still too soon to try to make permanent changes to DNA that can be inherited by future generations. Chinese Vice Minister of Science and Technology Xu Nanping told state broadcaster CCTV that his ministry is strongly opposed to the efforts that reportedly produced twin girls born earlier this month. Xu called the team’s actions illegal and unacceptable and said an investigation had been ordered, but made no mention of specific actions taken. Researcher He Jiankui… Read More

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Opioid case has new complication: Babies born in withdrawal

The long-running federal court case seeking to hold drugmakers responsible for the nation’s opioid crisis has a new complication: How does it deal with claims covering the thousands of babies born to addicts? Attorneys representing the children and their guardians want their claims separated from the federal case in Cleveland that involves hundreds of local governments and other entities such as hospitals. They will argue that Thursday before a federal judicial panel in New York. Babies, unlike governments or businesses, have been directly harmed by the actions of drugmakers and are entitled to their own payments, said Scott Bickford, a lead lawyer for the children and their guardians. He said… Read More

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Senators send rebuke to Saudis, Trump over Khashoggi killing

WASHINGTON — Defying President Donald Trump, senators sent a strong signal that they want to punish Saudi Arabia for its role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. By a bipartisan 63-37 vote, the Senate opted to move forward with legislation calling for an end to U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The vote on Wednesday was a rebuke not only to Saudi Arabia but also to Trump’s administration, which has made clear it does not want to torpedo the long-standing U.S. relationship with Riyadh over the killing. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis both came to Capitol Hill to urgently lobby against… Read More

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Ukraine urges NATO to deploy ships amid standoff with Russia

KIEV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian president has urged NATO to deploy naval ships to the Sea of Azov, a proposal that has been sharply criticized by Russia as a provocation that could further inflame tensions between the two countries. In an interview in the German daily Bild, published Thursday, President Petro Poroshenko laid out his hope that NATO would “relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security” against the expansionist ambitions of Russian President Vladimir Putin. His call follows the weekend incident in which the Russian coast guard fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels and their crews. Russia charged that the… Read More

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This anthropologist says he visited Sentinelese island before missionary. Here’s what he saw

SALT LAKE CITY — An anthropologist once visited the remote island where police say a remote tribe recently killed an American missionary, USA Today reports. What happened: The anthropologist, T.N. Pandit, reportedly built a relationship with the tribespeople between the 1960s and ’90s. He visited as a part of gift-giving expedition back when the police still sanctioned the trips, according to USA Today. Pandit and his team brought gifts like coconuts to the island. What was it like?: Pandit told The New York Times in an older interview that the visits to the island were anything but safe. In fact, the tribespeople often used their bows and arrows for security… Read More

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