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Associated Press

Posted on February 18, 2014 at 11:03 PM

Riot police move against protest camp in Kiev after violent clashes leave at least 18 dead

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Amid cries of "Glory to Ukraine!" and with flaming tires lighting up the night sky, thousands of riot police armed with stun grenades and water cannons attacked the sprawling protest camp in the center of Kiev on Tuesday, following a day of street battles that left 18 people dead and hundreds injured.

The violence was the deadliest in nearly three months of anti-government protests that have paralyzed Ukraine's capital in a struggle over the nation's identity, and the worst in the country's post-Soviet history

With the boom of exploding stun grenades and fireworks nearly drowning out his words at times, opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urged the 20,000 protesters to defend the camp on Independence Square that has been the heart of the protests.

"We will not go anywhere from here," Klitschko told the crowd, speaking from a stage in the square as tents and tires burned around him, releasing huge plumes of smoke. "This is an island of freedom and we will defend it," he said.

Many heeded his call.

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Budget office: Minimum wage hike would raise income for over 16.5M but cost 500K jobs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Boosting the federal minimum wage as President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are proposing would increase earnings for more than 16.5 million people by 2016 but also cut employment by roughly 500,000 jobs, Congress' nonpartisan budget analyst said Tuesday.

In a report containing ammunition for both supporters and opponents of the Democratic election-year proposal, the Congressional Budget Office said gradually raising the minimum from $7.25 hourly to $10.10 would lift 900,000 people above the federal poverty level by 2016. That is out of 45 million who would otherwise live in poverty without an increase.

But the analysis also noted a downside: About 0.3 percent fewer jobs, especially for low-income workers; higher costs for business owners and higher prices for consumers.

The study was unveiled as the Senate prepares for a March debate on a plan by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, ramping up the minimum in three steps to $10.10 by 2016. The proposal is backed by Obama and is a keystone of Democrats' campaign-season plans to highlight their effort to make incomes more equitable, but it faces strong Republican opposition and long odds of approval by Congress.

The analysis, which examined increases very similar to Harkin's, immediately added fuel to the partisan dispute over the proposal. It put authoritative weight behind longtime GOP claims that increasing the minimum wage would cost jobs by forcing companies to spend more on wages, putting Democrats on the defensive.

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10 Things to Know for Wednesday, 1st Ld-Writethru

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

1. DEADLY PROTESTS IN UKRAINE

Thousands of police move on the protest camp in Kiev, setting tents on fire as demonstrators fight back with rocks and bats. Street clashes leave 18 dead and hundreds injured.

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Political climate heats up while Tina Maze rules slopes in snow and rain at Sochi Winter Games

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The politics got a little hotter. The slopes got a lot slushier.

On a day when the mountain courses seemed better suited for the crawl or butterfly but posed no obstacle to Tina Maze, the Sochi Olympics took a more overt political turn.

Two members of the punk group Pussy Riot — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina — were among nine people detained Tuesday while walking in downtown Sochi. All were later released and no charges were filed.

The two group members burst from the police station wearing trademark ski masks — one pink, one blue. Police said they were questioned about a theft at the hotel where they were staying.

Pussy Riot has become an international flashpoint for those who contend Vladimir Putin's government has exceeded its authority in dealing with an array of issues, notably human and gay rights.

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Obama, fellow Democrats at odds over major election-year trade deals with Europe and Asia

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama wants to put major emerging trade deals with Europe and Asia on a "fast track" to congressional passage. But with midterm elections looming, many fellow Democrats are working to sidetrack them instead.

At the same time, Obama has found an ally in a traditional foe, Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

If ratified, the proposals — the Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific Trade and Investment Partnerships — would create the largest free-trade zone in the world, covering roughly half of all global trade.

In his State of the Union address, Obama asked Congress to give him "trade promotion authority," usually known as fast track, to negotiate the twin trade deals. But the separate negotiations with the European Union and 11 Pacific Rim nations are generating strong emotions at home and abroad.

Many Democrats up for re-election in November are fearful of drawing primary-election opposition over the trade talks. Concerned about lost jobs that are important to labor unions, they're abandoning Obama on this issue.

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AP sources: Energy Department set to approve $6.5B loan guarantee for Georgia nuclear plant

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Energy Department is poised to approve $6.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for the first nuclear power plant built from scratch in this country in more than three decades.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was expected to announce final approval of the deal at a speech on Wednesday, a day before he visits the $14 billion Vogtle nuclear plant now under construction in eastern Georgia.

Three government officials familiar with the deal confirmed its details Tuesday. They asked not to be identified because the deal has not been made public.

Atlanta-based Southern Co. is building the plant with several partners about 30 miles southeast of Augusta, Ga. The project is widely considered a major test of whether the industry can build nuclear plants without the endemic delays and cost overruns that plagued earlier rounds of building in the 1970s. Vogtle was originally estimated to cost around $14 billion, but government monitors have warned the final cost is likely to be higher.

The Energy Department tentatively approved an $8.3 billion loan guarantee for the project in 2010 as part of President Barack Obama's pledge to expand nuclear power and other energy sources.

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Tape: Suspect in Florida music shooting compared himself to a rape victim by being blamed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida software designer accused of killing a black teenager during an argument over loud music compared himself to a rape victim, telling his fiancee in a recorded jailhouse phone call that the police were trying to blame him for the shooting when he was only defending himself.

In a series of taped phone calls and jailhouse visits released Tuesday by prosecutors, Michael Dunn also expressed surprise at the media attention his November 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis outside a Jacksonville convenience store had drawn and expressed confidence that he would be exonerated once a jury heard all the facts.

Dunn, 47, was convicted Saturday of three counts of attempted second-degree murder for shooting at three of Davis' friends who were all inside an SUV, but the jury hung on a first-degree murder charge for Davis' death. Dunn, who is white, has argued that he fired at Davis after the teen threatened him and raised a shotgun or something that looked like one after he asked the teens to turn down their rap music. No shotgun was found in the SUV.

Dunn is facing 60 years in prison when sentenced and State Attorney Angela Corey says she will retry him on the murder charge, which carries a potential life sentence. A phone message left for Dunn's attorney, Cory Strolla, was not immediately returned.

In a December 2012 phone call with his fiancee, Rhonda Rouer, Dunn compares himself to a rape victim, saying the detectives wanted to blame him for the shooting, not Davis and his friends. Inmates at the Duval County Jail are warned that all phone conversations and visits will be recorded and can be shared with prosecutors except for those with their attorneys.

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Ex-soldier convicted of killing Iraqi family dies in Arizona prison; suicide likely

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former soldier sentenced to life for raping and killing a teenage Iraqi girl and using a shotgun to gun down her family died in an Arizona prison over the weekend in what officials suspect was a suicide.

Steven Dale Green was the first American soldier charged and convicted under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act — a law signed in 2000 that gives the federal government jurisdiction to pursue criminal cases against American citizens and soldiers for acts committed in foreign lands.

The federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman John Stahley said staff members at the federal penitentiary in Tucson, Ariz., found the 28-year-old Green, of Midland, Texas, unresponsive in his cell on Saturday. Stahley said Green's death is being investigated as a suicide.

Green was a private in the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line when he deployed to Iraq.

Green and three other soldiers went to the home of an Iraqi family in Mahmoudiya, Iraq, near a traffic checkpoint in March 2006. At the home, Green shot and killed three members of the al-Janabi family before becoming the third soldier to rape 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi before killing her. He was convicted and sentenced in 2009.

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Pa. prosecutor: 'No verification' of newlywed woman's claims she killed more than 20 people

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Police haven't substantiated a newlywed woman's claims that she killed more than 20 people in four states before the killing she's now charged with committing with her husband, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini said ethical rules bar him from commenting on the statements by Miranda Barbour, who with Elytte Barbour is awaiting trial in the death of a man they're accused of luring through a Craigslist ad for companionship.

But Rosini, who's pursuing the death penalty for the Barbours, said in a prepared statement: "As of this date, there has been no verification of any of the information that has been the subject of media coverage regarding prior acts of the defendant."

Miranda Barbour, in a Friday prison interview with The Daily Item in Sunbury, claimed to have killed at least 22 people in Alaska, Texas, North Carolina and California in the past six years as part of her involvement in a satanic cult.

"I just want to get it out," Barbour, 19, told the newspaper.

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National Guard suspends honor guard member over photo of soldiers mugging around empty casket

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Wisconsin National Guard announced Tuesday that it had suspended a member from honor guard duties after she apparently posted to social media a photograph of soldiers mugging around an empty, flag-draped casket.

The group photograph taken at a National Guard training facility in Arkansas sparked a furor on Facebook, in military chat rooms and other social media, where people saw it as disrespectful of veterans and those killed in action. The National Guard said it was taking steps to protect the soldier who posted the photograph after she received death threats.

The photograph originally posted on Instagram shows about a dozen soldiers clowning around a casket draped in a flag. Several hug playfully. One flashes a peace sign. Another has his back turned and is pointing off in the distance.

The caption reads, "We put the FUN in funeral -- your fearless honor guard from various states."

The photograph was posted from an account belonging to Spc. Terry Harrison, of the Madison, Wis.-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, according to the National Guard. That account has since been closed, but others have reposted the picture and Harrison's comments on multiple social media sites.

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