National News

US, Afghan leaders lay groundwork for postwar relations

CAMP DAVID, Maryland -- In a show of unity, U.S. and Afghan officials laid the groundwork for new relations between the two countries on Monday, including plans to seek American funding to maintain an Afghan security force of 352,000 and long-term counterterrorism efforts. Discussions over future U.S. troop levels continue as the war winds down.

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Cruz to become first major candidate to jump into '16 race

WASHINGTON -- Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz will become the first major candidate for president when he launches his campaign Monday, kicking off what's expected to be a rush over the next few weeks of more than a dozen White House hopefuls into the 2016 campaign.

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US pullout from Afghanistan hinged to developing forces

WASHINGTON -- The pace of U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan will headline Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's visit to Washington, yet America's exit from the war remains tightly hinged to the abilities of the Afghan forces that face a tough fight against insurgents this spring.

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More Americans turn toward tax refund advances

WASHINGTON -- Cash-strapped Americans anxious for tax refunds are increasingly turning to payment advances, prepaid cards or other costly services when getting tax preparation help, according to new federal data raising concerns among regulators about whether consumers are fully informed about the fees.

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APNewsBreak: Report says 640,200 Syrians in besieged areas

UNITED NATIONS -- Nearly 650,000 Syrians are living in besieged communities in the country's civil war, more than three times the U.N. estimate, according to a new report that offers a graphic account of hundreds of deaths in areas the world has struggled for years to reach.

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California first to feel hydro-power crunch of drought

SAN FRANCISCO -- Flying over the Sierra Nevada as California entered its fourth year of drought, the state's energy chief looked down and saw stark bare granite cloaked in dirty brown haze -- not the usual pristine white peaks heaped with snow that would run the state's hydroelectric dams for the year.

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Supreme Court considers impact of disability law on police

LOS ANGELES -- The police shooting in Georgia earlier this month of a naked, unarmed man with bipolar disorder spotlights the growing number of violent confrontations between police and the mentally ill -- an issue that goes before the Supreme Court this coming week.

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7 injured in chairlift accident in Maine

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine -- A chairlift at a Maine ski resort stopped and then began sliding backward down the mountain Saturday, prompting frantic riders to jump off and injuring seven, officials and witnesses said.

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