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On his trip to Congo, Pope Francis has heard firsthand accounts of atrocities some people have endured during years of fighting in the eastern part of the country. A young woman told him she was “raped like an animal” for months. A young man watched as his father was decapitated. A former sex slave told Francis her captors forced her into cannibalism. Francis sat in silence as victim after victim come forward to tell their stories, and he urged them to use their pain to sow peace and reconciliation. It was a message he delivered earlier in the day at a Mass to an estimated 1 million people at Kinshasa’s Ndolo airport.

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A procedural vote Wednesday in the House showed unified Republican support in moving to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. GOP lawmakers say they're taking action because of the Minnesota congresswoman's past comments critical of Israel. The Somali-born Muslim lawmaker has apologized for her remarks and says the GOP push is really about “revenge” and “appeasing” former President Donald Trump. The move is seen as Republican payback after then-majority Democrats in the last Congress booted far-right GOP lawmakers from committees for their incendiary remarks. A final House vote about Omar's committee status is expected Thursday.

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Tyre Nichols’ family and friends remembered him with songs of faith and heartfelt tributes, blending a celebration of his life with outraged calls for police reform after the brutal beating he endured at the hands of Memphis police. The Rev. Al Sharpton and Vice President Kamala Harris both delivered impassioned speeches Wednesday calling on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. It's a broad package of police reforms that includes a national registry for police officers disciplined for misconduct, a ban on no-knock warrants and other measures. In the three weeks since his death, five officers have been fired and charged with murder, and their specialized unit was disbanded.

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The Federal Reserve extended its fight against high inflation by raising its key interest rate a quarter-point, its eighth hike since March. And the Fed signaled that even though inflation is easing, it remains high enough to require further rate hikes. At the same time, Chair Jerome Powell said at a news conference that the Fed recognizes that the pace of inflation has cooled  — a signal that it could be nearing the end of its rate increases. The stock and bond markets rallied during his news conference, suggesting that they anticipate a forthcoming pause in the Fed’s credit tightening.

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House Republicans have begun their promised aggressive oversight of the Biden administration. The focus Wednesday was on what watchdogs describe as “indications of widespread fraud” in federal coronavirus aid programs initiated under President Donald Trump. GOP lawmakers complained that too little attention was paid to the problems when Democrats controlled Congress, but Democrats blamed the Trump administration for much of the mess. More than 1,000 people have pleaded guilty or have been convicted of federal charges of defrauding the myriad programs. And more than 600 other people and entities face federal fraud charges. But that’s just the start, according to investigators who testified at a House hearing.

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Philadelphia Eagles reserve offensive lineman Josh Sills has been indicted on rape and kidnapping charges that stem from an incident in Ohio just over three years ago. The NFL on Wednesday put the rookie who has played just four snaps this season on the commissioner’s exempt list. That means he can’t practice, play or travel with the Eagles as they prepares for the Super Bowl. A grand jury indicted Sills earlier this week. His attorney said Wednesday that the allegations are false. Sills is due in court on Feb. 16, four days after the Eagles are to play Kansas City in the Super Bowl.

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The official curriculum for a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies released Wednesday downplays some components that had drawn criticism from conservatives including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said the class would be banned in his state. In the new framework, topics including Black Lives Matter, reparations and queer theory are not part of the exam. They are included only on a list of example research subjects for student projects which local states and school systems could choose from. The course is currently being tested at 60 schools around the U.S.

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The suspect in a violent kidnapping in Oregon has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Benjamin Obadiah Foster previously served little time behind bars for holding his then-girlfriend captive for two weeks in Nevada. He was being sought by police in Oregon for a similar crime after a woman was found unconscious, bound and near death in a house in Grants Pass on Jan. 24. Authorities there say Foster shot himself during a standoff with heavily armed police. He had been the subject of an intensive manhunt in southwestern Oregon. The victim in the case remains hospitalized in critical condition.

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Apple and Google say they disagree with a Commerce Department report accusing them of operating mobile app stores that stifle competition. President Joe Biden is convening his competition council for an update on efforts to promote competition and lower prices. Wednesday's Commerce Department report says the current app store model, dominated by California-based Apple and Google, is “harmful to consumers and developers” by inflating prices and reducing innovation. Apple says it “respectfully" disagrees with conclusions in the report. Google says its Android software “enables more choice and competition” than other systems. On another competition front, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is pushing forward with efforts to limit credit card late fees.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced plans to block state colleges from having programs on diversity, equity and inclusion, and critical race theory. It's the Republican's latest step onto the front lines of the nation's culture wars as he considers a 2024 bid for the White House. The second-term governor has emerged as a fierce opponent of so-called woke policies on race, gender and public health. Such positions endear him to the GOP’s conservative base but threaten to alienate independents and moderate voters in both parties who are influential in presidential politics.

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The rumors are true, Beyoncé is touring again. The global superstar announced Wednesday she would embark on a “Renaissance” world tour starting in May in Sweden with stops in London, Paris, Barcelona, Toronto and the United States. The highly anticipated announcement comes days before the Grammy Awards on Sunday, where she is the most nominated artist and could make Recording Academy history. There were hints that she might be planning a tour when she performed an invite-only show in January in Dubai. Her last solo tour was 2016. The tour ends on Sept. 27 in New Orleans.

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Hard rock legend Ozzy Osbourne has announced the cancellation of his 2023 tour dates in the U.K. and continental Europe. Osbourne issued a statement early Wednesday saying damage to his spine suffered in an accident four years ago will prevent him from touring. The 74-year-old Grammy winner and former vocalist for the metal band Black Sabbath said “my singing voice is fine” but he remained physically weak following three operations, stem cell treatments, physical therapy and other health treatments. He says he's “not physically capable” of the rigors of touring at this time and his team is considering opportunities for him to perform without extensive travel.

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Authorities say two monkeys taken from the Dallas Zoo have been found in an abandoned home a day after going missing from their enclosure, which had been cut. But no arrests have been made, deepening the mystery of a string of events at the zoo that has included other cut fences, the escape of a small leopard and the suspicious death of an endangered vulture. Dallas police say they found the two emperor tamarin monkeys Tuesday after getting a tip that they could be in an abandoned home in nearby Lancaster. The monkeys were located, safe, in a closet of the home.

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Nikki Haley is moving closer to making her presidential campaign official. On Wednesday, supporters of the former South Carolina governor will get an email invitation to a Feb. 15 launch event in Charleston, at which she plans to announce her campaign, according to a person familiar with the plans but not authorized to speak about them. Haley was elected to two terms as South Carolina governor before Donald Trump tapped her to serve in his Cabinet. Haley at times feuded with other White House officials. Her 2018 departure fueled speculation that she would challenge Trump in 2020, or replace Vice President Mike Pence on the ticket, but Haley did neither.

Las Vegas police have arrested former actor Nathan Chasing Horse at his home after uncovering what they describe as two decades of sexual assault and human trafficking allegations. Chasing Horse is known for his role in the Oscar-winning Kevin Costner film “Dances With Wolves.” Police say he built a reputation for himself among tribes across the United States and Canada as a so-called medicine man and used his position to abuse young Native American girls. Chasing Horse is accused of sexually assaulting girls as young as 13 and taking wives as young as 15. Police say the assaults occurred in multiple states, including Nevada, and in Canada. No lawyer was immediately listed for him Tuesday in court records.

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A Santa Fe district attorney has filed involuntary manslaughter charges against actor Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the Western movie “Rust.” Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced that her office filed the charges Tuesday. Investigators outlined evidence that Baldwin had his finger on the trigger before the gun went off and that he skipped required safety training. Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being wounded during rehearsals at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe in October 2021. Baldwin was pointing a pistol at her when the gun went off. Film-set weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed also is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

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President Joe Biden has showcased a $292 million mega grant that'll be used to help build a rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River. The mega grant is part of an effort to draw a contrast between the Democratic president's economic vision and that of Republicans. The funding for the New York-New Jersey tunnel project is part of the $1.2 billion in mega grants awarded under the 2021 infrastructure law. Biden says government spending on infrastructure will boost economic growth and create blue-collar jobs. White House senior adviser Mitch Landrieu said Tuesday if Republicans want to “take away money from projects" they can “have that discussion with the American people”

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says he won't seek his state’s open U.S. Senate seat next year, ending weeks of speculation about whether he would enter a vicious GOP primary fight against a combative defender of former President Donald Trump. The decision by the 73-year-old Daniels comes two weeks after U.S. Rep. Jim Banks announced he's running for the seat being given up by GOP Sen. Mike Braun as he makes a 2024 run for governor. Daniels said Tuesday that he concluded the Senate is “just not the job" for him, not the town for him and not the life he wants to live at this point.

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Donna Kelce is going to have to pull out her custom jersey — the one with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s front stitched to Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce’s back — one more time this season. For the first time in Super Bowl history, a pair of siblings will square off on the NFL’s biggest stage. Kelce helped the Chiefs return to their third championship game in four seasons on Sunday night when they beat the Bengals for the AFC title. Jason has the Eagles back for the second time in six years after their NFC title win over the 49ers.

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A Chicago prosecutor is dropping sex-abuse charges against singer R. Kelly. The decision follows federal convictions in two different courts that ensure the disgraced R&B star will be locked up for decades. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx made the announcement Monday, a day ahead of a court hearing. Kelly was indicted in 2019 on multiple crimes and accused of sexually abusing four women in Illinois, including three who were minors. Since then, federal juries in Chicago and New York have convicted him of a raft of crimes, including child pornography, enticement, racketeering and sex trafficking. Kelly is already serving a 30-year prison sentence.

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A man at the center of an intense police search in Oregon after a violent kidnapping last week was released from custody in October 2021 by Nevada prison officials on the same day he was transferred to the state’s custody to serve a kidnapping sentence. Benjamin Obadiah Foster was charged with five felonies, including assault and battery, and faced decades in prison. A plea deal allowed him to instead plead guilty in 2019 to felony and misdemeanor battery, and a judge sentenced him to between one and 2 1/2 years in a state prison. He spent 729 days in jail and was released from custody the day he was taken to prison.

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The presidential campaign landscape in Iowa is markedly different this year compared with four years ago. In 2019, at least a dozen Democratic hopefuls eager to make their case against the Republican incumbent, Donald Trump, had either visited Iowa or had announced plans to visit soon. This year, Republicans considering a challenge to Democrat Joe Biden seem frozen by Trump’s early announcement of a 2024 campaign. With Iowa’s first-in-the-nation GOP caucuses just a year off, the field of would-be White House candidates has largely been content to steer clear of the state. Even Trump has been absent from Iowa, choosing instead to kickstart his campaign last weekend in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Memphis police say two more officers involved in the arrest, beating and death of Tyre Nichols have been disciplined. Five Memphis officers already had been fired and charged in the Jan. 7 arrest of Nichols, who was Black. Police said Monday that officer Preston Hemphill was relieved of duty shortly after Nichols’ Jan. 7 arrest. The department said later that another officer has been relieved of duty. In total, seven officers have been disciplined for the arrest of Nichols, who died Jan. 10. Also Monday, two Memphis Fire Department emergency medical workers and a lieutenant were fired in connection with the case.

Multiple news reports say Manhattan prosecutors have convened a new grand jury to hear evidence in a probe of payments made to keep two women quiet about alleged affairs with former President Donald Trump. The reports cite unnamed sources familiar with the proceedings. A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg declined to comment Monday. In a post to his Truth Social platform, Trump blasted Bragg as the “Radical Left Manhattan D.A.” and said the new grand jury was “a continuation of the Greatest Witch Hunt of all time.” Trump has denied having affairs with either woman.

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President Joe Biden has informed Congress that he will end the twin national emergencies for addressing COVID-19 on May 11, as most of the world has returned closer to normalcy nearly three years after they were first declared. The move to end the national emergency and public health emergency declarations will formally restructure the federal coronavirus response to treat the virus as an endemic threat to public health that can be managed through agencies’ normal authorities. It comes as lawmakers have already ended elements of the emergencies that kept millions of Americans insured during the pandemic.

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