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U.S. Congress questions plan to admit Syrian refugees

By Mark Hosenball WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican-led House Committee on Homeland Security is challenging an Obama administration plan to admit Syrian refugees to the United States, saying it could allow potential terrorists to sneak into the country. In a letter sent to the White House, Michael McCaul, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee and Peter King and Candice Miller, who chair subcommittees, said the administration’s plan “raises serious national security concerns.” The letter, dated Wednesday, said the United States lacks the resources to fully investigate the backgrounds of refugees from Syria, a base for Islamic State militants, before they are admitted to the country. Anne Richard, an Assistant Secretary of State, said on Dec. 9 that the United States resettled nearly 70,000 refugees from nearly 70 countries in 2013 and that the administration’s refugee plans would lead to “resettling Syrians as well.” Richard said the United States was already reviewing around 9,000 Syrian refugee cases referred by a United Nations agency and was receiving “roughly a thousand new ones each month.” Ned Price, a National Security Council spokesman, said all refugees including those from Syria would be rigorously screened.
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Ex-Gitmo detainee may be talking with militants

One of the five detainees released from Guantanamo Bay in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has attempted to return to militant activity, several U.S. officials tell CNN’s Barbara Starr.


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Texas GOP chief leaves role, joins Rand Paul political team

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the Republican Party of Texas is stepping down from his role to join Sen. Rand Paul’s likely presidential campaign.
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Conflict also about ISIS, oil, nukes, global terror

While regional politics are at play, numerous other major factors are as well. Here’s a look at what’s happening between Israel and Hezbollah.


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Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez goes on trial on murder charges

Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez, center, listens during his murder trial, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, in Fall River, Mass., as defense attorney Charles Rankin, left, looks on while an image of Odin Lloyd is displayed on a monitor, right. Hernandez is charged with killing Lloyd, 27, a semiprofessional football player, in June 2013. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — With his ex-teammates about to play in the Super Bowl, former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez went on trial on murder charges Thursday, watching from the defense table as prosecutors said DNA on a shell casing and security-camera video from his own home connect him to the crime.



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Opinion: No unvaccinated people around my kids

I have a proposal to increase the vaccination rate: Ask whether your family’s caretakers and visitors are vaccinated, then insist that they be.


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Desert stars: Celebs converge on Phoenix for Super Bowl 49

FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2015 file photo, presenter Kevin Hart poses in the press room at the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Hart will be providing commentary on the skills, or lack thereof, of people playing Electronic Arts’ popular Madden 15 video game at the Madden Bowl. EA will take over a block of downtown Scottsdale, Ariz., for a party that will include performances by Nelly and Florida Georgia Line, and Hart hosting Madden matches between NFL players. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)PHOENIX (AP) — The desert is great for stargazing, and that will certainly be the case as the Super Bowl takes over Phoenix and its suburbs.



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Man finds his stolen dog during pet search

Deciding to move on after his beloved German Shepherd was stolen from his backyard 18 months ago wasn’t easy for Richard Brower.


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Feds: Treasure hunter eluded police with cash, tradecraft

FILE -In this November 1989 file photo, Tommy Thompson holds a $50 pioneer gold piece retrieved earlier in 1989 from the wreck of the gold ship Central America. According to the US Marshals Service, Thompson, a fugitive treasure hunter wanted for more than 2 years was arrested in Florida. (AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch, Lon Horwedel)WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A deep-sea treasure hunter who vanished during a court fight over his $50 million haul of gold bars and coins eluded capture by hiding in a two-room hotel suite under a fake name, paying for everything in cash and keeping a low-profile, authorities said Thursday.



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Convicted drug dealer charged with murder of movie executive

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A convicted drug dealer has been charged with the murder of a 20th Century Fox executive, who mysteriously disappeared more than two years ago and whose remains were found in a northern Los Angeles County desert area in October.
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Katy Perry says halftime performance will make you ‘Roar’

Katy Perry answers questions at a halftime news conference for NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)PHOENIX (AP) — Katy Perry says her Super Bowl halftime performance will make you "Roar" — with animals.



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Senator: Taliban detainees have communicated with Haqqani

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Lindsey Graham says the Taliban detainees released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have been in touch with members of the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network, yet all five still are being monitored in Qatar.
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Some doctors won’t see patients with anti-vaccine views

Pediatrician Charles Goodman vaccinates 1 year- old Cameron Fierro with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or MMR vaccine at his practice in Northridge, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. Some doctors are adamant about not accepting patients who don't believe in vaccinations, with some saying they don't want to be responsible for someone's death from an illness that was preventable. Others warn that refusing treatment to such people will just send them into the arms of quacks. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)LOS ANGELES (AP) — With California gripped by a measles outbreak, Dr. Charles Goodman posted a clear notice in his waiting room and on Facebook: His practice will no longer see children whose parents won't get them vaccinated.



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Amy Poehler feted by Harvard’s Hasty Pudding

Actress Amy Poehler, center, is kissed by Jason Hellerstein, left, and Sam Clark, who are dressed in drag, as she rides in a convertible through Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday Jan. 29, 2015. Poehler was honored as "Woman of the Year" by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals at Harvard University. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Comedian Amy Poehler was poking fun at Harvard and its famed Hasty Pudding Theatricals student group while receiving the annual Woman of the Year award from the troupe.



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APNewsBreak: Killer says his ideas influenced family suicide

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2014 file photo, flowers and photos are on display during a vigil for the Strack family at Pioneer Park in Provo, Utah. Police say five members of the Utah family found dead last fall died from methadone and other drugs, and interviews with people who knew them revealed the parents worried about a "pending apocalypse." Springville Police Chief J. Scott Finlayson said Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, authorities have concluded their investigation into the September deaths of Benjamin and Kristi Strack and three of their children, ages 11, 12 and 14. (AP Photo/The Daily Herald, Grant Hindsley, File) MANDATORY CREDITDRAPER, Utah (AP) — Dan Lafferty sees himself as a prophet who will prepare the world for the second coming and has little following, but 10 years ago he started a relationship with a young woman who was drawn to him after reading a book chronicling the slayings that put him in prison.



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Watch man climb down Niagara Falls

Canadian ice climber Will Gadd scaled down an icy gorge on Niagara Falls. Affiliate WIVB reports.


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Idina Menzel ready for spotlight at Super Bowl

Idina Menzel answers questions at a pregame news conference for NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, in Phoenix. Menzel is scheduled to sing the national anthem. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)PHOENIX (AP) — Broadway star Idina Menzel says Whitney Houston's rendition of the national anthem is her favorite version, but she's looking to make the song her own this Sunday.



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Balloon crew surpasses distance record in Pacific flight

In Monday, Jan. 26, 2015 photo provided by the Two Eagles Balloon Team, Troy Bradley of New Mexico and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia set off from Saga, Japan, shortly before 6:30 a.m. JST Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, in their quest to pilot their helium-filled balloon from Japan in a bid to reach North America and break two major records en route. in their quest to pilot their helium-filled balloon from Japan to North America and break two major records en route. The attempt will put them on course to break a distance record of 5,208 miles (8,381 kilometers). They also want to break the flight-duration record of 137 hours set in 1978 when Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman made the first trans-Atlantic balloon flight. (AP Photo/Troy Bradley, Two Eagles Balloon Team)ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two pilots soaring over the Pacific Ocean made history Thursday, traveling farther than the 5,209-mile (8,383-kilometer) official world distance record for human flight in a gas balloon. But according to the rules of international aviation, they didn't set a new record quite yet.



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Yellowstone oil spills fuel arguments over Keystone line

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2015 file photo, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., listens at right as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington where they discussed their plan to introduce legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project. Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline say the privately-funded, $8 billion project is a critically needed piece of infrastructure that will create thousands of jobs and make the U.S. dependent on oil from friends, rather than foes. Critics claim it will be disastrous for the pollution blamed for global warming and put communities along its 1,179-mile route at risk for an environmentally-damaging spill, all for oil and products that will be exported anyway. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — As Congress presses the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, government records show oil pipeline accidents have become increasingly frequent in the U.S.



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Dems threaten to block action on Homeland-immigration bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats threatened Thursday to block action on legislation funding the Homeland Security Department until Republicans jettison House-passed provisions that reverse President Barack Obama’s key immigration policies.
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No. 4 Blue Devils dismiss junior Rasheed Sulaimon from team

Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon dunks in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game with Notre Dame Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke dismissed junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon from the team on Thursday.



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Obama budget seeks boost for military, domestic programs

By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will call for a 7 percent rise in U.S. domestic and military spending in his budget that would end caps known as ‘sequestration,’ the White House said on Thursday, setting up a new source of conflict with Republicans in Congress. Obama intends to announce his budget plans during a meeting with congressional Democrats in Philadelphia later in the day. The fiscal 2016 budget, which the administration plans to unveil on Monday, would fund a host of programs that Republicans are unlikely to support. It is the latest salvo by the Democratic president lobbed at a Congress controlled by the opposition party, and follows a defiant State of the Union address last week that critics said betrayed an unwillingness to seek compromise.
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Long-awaited trial to open in Etan Patz missing-child case

FILE - This May 28, 2012, file photo shows a newspaper with a photograph of Etan Patz at a makeshift memorial in the SoHo neighborhood of New York where Patz lived before his disappearance on May 25, 1979. The memorial was set up near a building that housed a convenience store where Pedro Hernandez, accused of killing Patz, told police 33 years after they boy's disappearance, that he choked the 6-year-old and put the still-living boy into a plastic bag, boxed up the bag and left it on a street. Opening statements in Hernandez's trial are set for Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)NEW YORK (AP) — The teenage stock clerk was just a name in a file for decades, one of many people police encountered while searching for a 6-year-old boy named Etan Patz. Thirty-five years later, Pedro Hernandez is going on trial in a case that defined the nation's approach to missing children.



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Senate passes Keystone XL bill

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill on Thursday to clear construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a controversial project that would transport oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.


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Google takes hit on slower-than-expected growth

Google reported net profit up 41 percent from last year at $4.76 billion in the final three months of last yearGoogle on Thursday reported that its profit jumped in the recently ended quarter, but the leap fell short of market expectations. The Internet colossus reported net profit up 41 percent year-over-year at $4.76 billion in the final three months of 2014. Revenues were up 15 percent in the quarter to $18.1 billion, also slower that anticipated as Google saw slowdowns in some of its online advertising metrics such as costs per click. Google shares fell immediately following the results in after-hours trade, but later recouped the losses and traded up 0.3 percent.



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Senate passes bill approving Keystone XL oil pipeline

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, speaks about Keystone XL with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., left, sponsor of the Keystone XL pipeline bill, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. The Republican-controlled Senate moved toward passage of a bipartisan bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, defying a presidential veto threat and setting up the first of many expected battles with the White House over energy and the environment.(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan bill to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline, defying a presidential veto threat and setting up the first of many battles with the White House over energy and the environment.



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Decision looms over captive orca, but fate of Lolita unclear

SEATTLE (AP) — For years, animal activists have campaigned to free a killer whale that was captured from Puget Sound waters in 1970 and has been performing at Miami Seaquarium in Florida for over four decades.
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Boy Scouts settle California suit over abuse

APNewsBreak: Boy Scouts settle California suit over abuseLOS ANGELES (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America settled a sex abuse case Thursday involving a 20-year-old California man who was molested by a Scout volunteer in 2007 — a decision that will keep years' worth of "perversion" files detailing sex abuse allegations secret from the public.



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