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In brief: Taliban take credit for palace gate attack

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban say they have hit one of the most secure areas of the Afghan capital with a suicide attack, as a series of explosions rocked the presidential palace gate.

Smoke rose from the eastern gate of the palace early today after more than a half dozen explosions and at least 45 minutes of on-and-off small arms fire.

The Taliban sent a quick text message saying “we brought death to the enemy.”

The palace is in a large fortified area of downtown Kabul that also includes the U.S. Embassy and the headquarters for the NATO-led coalition forces.

Syria official condemns U.S. effort to arm rebels

DAMASCUS, Syria – Syria’s foreign minister said the decision by the U.S. and Western countries to arm rebel groups is “very dangerous” and will prolong the violence and killing in the country.

Walid al-Moallem also said sending weapons to the rebels will hinder peace efforts.

He spoke Monday at a news conference in the capital Damascus two days after an 11-nation group that includes the U.S. met in Qatar and agreed to step up military and other assistance to the rebels.

“We are not scared,” al-Moallem said.

Ex-governor charged with embezzlement

MEXICO CITY – Federal prosecutors have charged a former Mexican governor with money laundering and embezzling millions of dollars from state coffers in a case that has outraged Mexicans because of reports of his extravagant spending, authorities said Monday.

The federal Attorney General’s Office said former Tabasco state Gov. Andres Granier is at a hospital in Mexico City and it will be up to a Tabasco judge to decide where he will go next.

Granier, hospitalized 10 days ago because of chest pains, also faces state charges, the office said in a statement.

Last month, Tabasco prosecutors found about $7 million in cash in an office of ex-state treasurer Jose Saiz, who served under Granier.

Filibuster planned for abortion package

AUSTIN, Texas – The Republican-dominated Texas Legislature pushed Monday to enact wide-ranging restrictions that would effectively shut down abortion clinics across the nation’s second- most-populous state, and Democrats planned an old-fashioned marathon filibuster to stop the final vote.

After the House easily approved it Monday morning, the wide-ranging package of anti-abortion measures was headed to the Senate. But with the special session scheduled to end at 11:59 p.m. today, the clock presented a far bigger obstacle than the votes to win approval there.

The proposal would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, limit abortions to surgical centers and stipulate doctors must monitor even nonsurgical abortions.

Mayors push for states’ rights on marijuana

LAS VEGAS – Hundreds of mayors from around the nation voted Monday to urge the federal government to give states leeway in establishing marijuana policies.

The resolution was among dozens of symbolic measures city leaders unanimously passed on the last day of the 81st annual U.S. Conference of Mayors in Las Vegas.

Attendees also drew attention to the loss of jobs they said would occur in their cities if Congress goes ahead with a proposal to limit municipal bonds’ tax exemptions.

Boy impales himself on Texas Tech statue

LUBBOCK, Texas – A West Texas boy died after he ran into a bull statue at Texas Tech University and impaled himself on one of its horns.

University spokesman Chris Cook said Miguel Martinez, 14, impaled himself while playing hide-and-seek with friends in the predawn hours Saturday.

Police said Martinez was running at the National Ranching Heritage Museum on the Texas Tech campus when the horn pierced his chest.


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Investigators finally get look at materials from Cohen raid

UPDATED: 10:18 a.m.

updated  Criminal investigators are getting their first look at materials gathered from raids on the home and office of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer as a process to separate items subject to attorney-client privilege appears to be meeting a judge’s demand that it occur speedily and efficiently.