US still open to Iran nuclear talks after Iran’s rejection

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration said Sunday it remains open to talks with Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal despite Tehran’s rejection of an EU invitation to join a meeting with the U.S. and the other original participants in the agreement. A senior administration official said the U.S. was “disappointed” in the rejection but was flexible as to the timing and format of the talks and saw Iran’s decision to snub the European invitation as part of the diplomatic process. The official said the U.S. would be consulting with the other participants — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union — on the way forward. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke

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Wolf tracked near Yosemite park for first time in 100 years

BRIDGEPORT, Calif. – A young male wolf has been travelling near Yosemite National Park, the farthest south a wolf has been tracked in California in more than a century, officials said. Researchers have been monitoring the wolf dubbed OR-93 via his tracking collar and said the animal departed Oregon earlier this year, likely in search of a new territory, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday. After trekking through Modoc County and crossing state highways 4 and 208, OR-93 recently moved into Mono County, just east of Yosemite, the newspaper said. “Given the time of year, we assume OR-93 has travelled such a long way in search of a mate,” Center for Biological Diversity wolf advocate Amaroq Weiss said in a

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Syria reports Israeli missile attack near capital, Damascus

DAMASCUS, Syria – Syrian air defences were activated in the capital Damascus and its southern suburbs Sunday night to repel an Israeli missile attack, state media reported. There was no word on casualties. State TV quoted an unnamed military official as saying that most of the Israeli missiles were shot down before reaching their targets near Damascus. Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations. Israel views Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier as a red line, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group. The attack comes after the United States launched airstrikes in Syria on Thursday,

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Libya authorities free journalists detained after PM presser

CAIRO – Authorities in western Libya on Sunday released two local journalists who had been detained in the capital last week following a news conference with the prime minister. Libyan television journalist Ziyad al-Warfali and a video journalist disappeared after the conference with newly appointed Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah late Thursday. The Libyan media authority a statement the two journalists working for the al-Ghad al-Arabi television network were detained because they had not obtained the proper work permit required for journalists in Libya. The authority did not identify the video journalist whose detention was not mentioned before. The two were released Sunday after authorities concluded their investigation, the media authority said. It did not say which of Libya’s

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Township talks Almaguin Spartans, recreation activities in 2021

The Township of Strong council met on Feb. 23 and discussed several items, including the potential of the Almaguin Spartans using the arena, ideas for community activities in 2021 and a donation of gravel to High Rock Lookout Park. Here is the council meeting in key quotes. ON THE ALMAGUIN SPARTANS “I was just going to ask about the Spartans — are they looking at possibly coming to our arena?” asked Coun. Jody Baillie. “There’s an expression of interest on behalf of the Spartans to use our facilities possibly in the future. There is, I wouldn’t say a business plan, but we’re going to get some numbers of attendance (and) ice times,” said Coun. Jason Cottrell. ON 2021 COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES

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Professor in Michigan fired after racist, homophobic tweets

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – A science professor at a university in central Michigan who claimed sinister forces were targeting him and breaking into his home has been fired months after using racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs on Twitter. Thomas Brennan announced in a Twitter posting Saturday he’d been fired, and Ferris State University later confirmed he was dismissed last week, The Detroit News reported. The Big Rapids-based university, which put Brennan on administrative leave in November as it investigated, declined further comment. The Torch, the university’s student-run newspaper, first reported about the tweets in November. According to the newspaper’s screenshots, one tweet said: “Covid19 is another jewish revolution.” At the time, the university’s president, David Eisler, said the school was

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Associated Press journalist detained by police in Myanmar

BANGKOK – An Associated Press journalist has been detained by police while covering protests against the military coup in Myanmar. The journalist, Thein Zaw, 32, was taken into custody with a number of others on Saturday morning in Yangon, the country’s largest city. The arrest happened as police charged toward protesters gathered at the Hledan Center intersection, which has become a meeting point for demonstrators who then continue protesting elsewhere in the city. He remained detained Sunday and was believed to be in Yangon’s infamous Insein Prison. “The Associated Press calls for the immediate release of AP journalist Thein Zaw, who was detained in Myanmar while doing his job,” said Ian Phillips, AP vice-president for international news. “Independent journalists must

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Indiana official apologizes for blackface Halloween costume

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. – A northwestern Indiana City Council member and police officer has apologized after photos recently surfaced of him in blackface nearly 20 years ago at a Halloween party. Merrillville Councilman Jeff Minchuk, who is also a Lake County Sheriff’s Office police officer, apologized Saturday on Facebook. “I blame no one else for what happened, it was my decision and a poor one at that. The thing that bothers me the most is, that this is not who I am,” Minchuk wrote. “I never have been or ever will be involved in any type of racism.” One photo of Minchuk, obtained by The (Northwest Indiana) Times, show Minchuck in blackface and a black wig while wearing a shirt reading

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Purim celebrations threaten fresh virus outbreak in Israel

JERUSALEM – Mass gatherings took place in Jerusalem on Sunday as Israelis celebrated the Jewish holiday of Purim in violation of coronavirus restrictions. Authorities had been concerned about a repeat of last year, when Purim celebrations helped fuel an initial wave of the coronavirus in the earliest days of the global pandemic. The government urged people to celebrate at home this year, and police attempted to block traffic from entering Jerusalem and declared strict limits on public gatherings. But the restrictions were not able to prevent street parties as well as mass prayer celebrations in ultra-Orthodox areas, which have repeatedly flouted safety rules. With traffic clogged at the entrance of Jerusalem, Israeli TV stations showed videos of ultra-Orthodox families walking

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P.E.I. urges residents in their 20s to get tested for COVID-19 amid uptick in cases

CHARLOTTETOWN – Prince Edward Island is urging residents in their 20s without COVID-19 symptoms to get tested for the virus today as the province struggles to contain an outbreak. The drop-in clinic at a Summerside high is one of multiple testing sites set up across the island amid a sudden spike in cases. P.E.I. recorded six new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, all among people in their 20s. Officials say most of the new infections diagnosed over the last several days have no connection to travel outside the province and could potentially be a contagious new variant of the virus. The province released a number of potential exposure locations on Saturday, including fast-food restaurants, retail stores and a gym, and introduced

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