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U.S. secretly built ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government masterminded the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” — a communications network designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba, built with secret shell companies and financed through foreign banks, The Associated Press has learned.

Nanobionics’ aims to give plants super powers

Plants are an engineering marvel of nature. Fueled by sunlight, they recycle our carbon dioxide waste into fresh oxygen for us to breathe. Plus, they make the world prettier. But, with a little help from us humans, can they be coaxed to do even more?

Dear Abby: Pros and cons of only childhood

Dear Abby: “Maybe Only One in Georgia” (Jan. 7), who asked whether she should have a second child, needs to understand there are no guarantees. Her 5-year-old could end up hating her younger sibling, or adoring her. Parents create a child because they want to share their union with a new life. Each child is unique and represents a life commitment, not just 18 years of hard work.
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Justices void overall limits on political contributions

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court struck down limits today in federal law on the overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees.
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GM chief deflects amid new revelations on ignitions

WASHINGTON — In her first head-on questioning from Congress, General Motors’ new chief executive, Mary Barra, sought Tuesday to quell a furor over the automaker’s failure for over a decade to fix defective ignition switches blamed for contributing to 13 fatalities in 31 frontal crashes.

Planned Parenthood appeals Arizona ruling

Planned Parenthood Arizona filed an appeal Tuesday after a federal judge refused to temporarily block the nation’s most stringent restrictions on the use of abortion drugs.

Dear Abby: Woman in relationship can’t resist flirting with other men

Dear Abby: I have been with my current boyfriend for a year and a half and I love him dearly. However, I often find myself drawn to other guys who I know are nothing but trouble. It never goes further than simple flirting, but I still feel guilty for doing it when I’m in a relationship. How do I keep myself from temptation?
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Obamacare deadline draws crowds

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A blizzard, jammed phone lines and unreliable websites failed to stop throngs of procrastinating Americans from trying to sign up for health coverage by the midnight Monday deadline for President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative.

In Washington, some get a break

SEATTLE — Monday was not really the deadline for signing up for health insurance in Washington state for people who have made a real effort to get insurance but didn’t succeed.

Ryan unveils House GOP budget, claiming balance

WASHINGTON D.C. — House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is rolling out an updated budget plan that would slash $5.1 trillion in federal spending over the coming decade. The Republican proposal also would balance the government’s books by cutting food stamps, health care for the poor and working class, and programs like Pell Grants for low-income college students and pensions for federal workers.
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Police probe baggage thefts at L.A. airport

LOS ANGELES — A $15,000 camera, Gucci bags, name-brand clothing, electronics and jewelry are among the thousands of dollars in valuables stolen by baggage handlers at Los Angeles International Airport, police said Thursday.
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Government safety agency missed Cobalt clues on deadly crashes

DETROIT — For years, the U.S. government’s auto safety watchdog sent form letters to worried owners of the Chevrolet Cobalt and other General Motors small cars, saying it didn’t have enough information about problems with unexpected stalling to establish a trend or open an investigation.

U.S. recognizes Michigan same-sex couple marriages

DETROIT — Attorney General Eric Holder today extended federal recognition to the marriages of about 300 same-sex couples that took place in Michigan before a federal appeals court put those unions on hold.

Congress backs bill to help cash-strapped Ukraine

WASHINGTON — Congress is close to sending President Barack Obama a bill to give $1 billion in loan guarantees to cash-strapped Ukraine and provide the administration broad authority to levy more sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea.

World Health Organization: Southeast Asia is polio-free

WASHINGTON — The World Health Organization declared Southeast Asia polio-free Thursday, marking a global health milestone for India, where the disease accounted for nearly half of all worldwide cases just five years ago.