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US and World News

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South Korea's military says North Korea fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea in its fourth weapons launch this month. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff didn’t immediately say whether the weapon was ballistic or how far it flew Monday. North Korea's apparent goal of the launches is demonstrating its military might while diplomacy is stalemated with the United States and its international borders are closed due to the pandemic. Some experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is going back to a tried-and-true technique of pressuring Washington and regional neighbors with missile launches and outrageous threats before offering negotiations meant to extract concessions.   Read more

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Tom Brady threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers launch their bid for a return to the Super Bowl with a dominating 31-15 NFC wild-card playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The defending champions set the tempo from the start, with Brady leading a pair of long TD drives in the opening quarter and building the lead to 17-0 by halftime. The seven-time Super Bowl winner finished off the Eagles with TD passes of 2 yards to Rob Gronkowski and 36 yards to Mike Evans, improving his dazzling playoff record to 35-11 in a record 46 postseason starts. Read more

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Versatile receiver Deebo Samuel ran 26 yards for a touchdown the play after an interception by Dak Prescott and the San Francisco 49ers held on for a 23-17 wild-card victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers overcame an interception by Jimmy Garoppolo when they led by 13 in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys had a final chance with 32 seconds remaining and were at the San Francisco 41 with 14 seconds to go when Prescott took off up the middle intending to slide and spike the ball for a final play. But Dallas didn’t get the snap off from the 24 until after the clock hit 0:00. Read more

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New Zealand and Australia have sent military surveillance flights to assess the damage a huge undersea volcanic eruption caused in Tonga. Communications with the Pacific island nation remain limited since Saturday's eruption. Residents who got messages out to the world described a moonscape left by tsunami waves and volcanic ash fall. The single underwater cable that provides internet and international phone service was likely severed by the eruption. The ash was contaminating drinking water, and New Zealand is planning to fly water and other supplies to Tonga on Tuesday. Read more

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China’s economy grew by 8.1% in 2021 but Beijing faces pressure to shore up activity after an abrupt slowdown in the second half. Government data show the economy expanded by 4% over a year earlier in the final three months of 2021. That is down from the previous quarter’s 4.9% and an eye-popping 18.3% in the year’s first three months. Activity languished under pressure from Beijing on the real estate industry, a key growth driver, to cut debt levels that Chinese leaders worry are dangerously high. The Chinese central bank announced an interest rate cut Monday on one type of lending to commercial banks.  Read more

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on Monday from the Australian Open at Melbourne Park (all times local): Read more

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Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys couldn't take advantage of a home playoff game. Their season is over after a 23-17 loss to San Francisco in an NFC wild-card game that ended when Dallas ran out of time before it could spike the ball to set up a final play. Since winning the Super Bowl at the end of the 1995 season, the Cowboys haven’t made it past the divisional round of the playoffs. They didn’t even get that far this time, in their 11th postseason appearance since those three Super Bowl titles over a four-season span.  Read more

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A dangerous winter storm combining high winds and ice is blasting through parts of the U.S. Southeast. The storm knocked out power Sunday to tens of thousands of customers, felled trees and coated roads with treacherous ice. Highway patrols reported hundreds of vehicle accidents. In Florida, a tornado ripped through a trailer park. Three minor injuries were reported. Significant icing caused problems in North Carolina, while Virginia State Police said traffic stood still for hours on Interstate 81 in Roanoke County due to an accident. The storm system could cause hazardous driving conditions across the eastern U.S. into Monday, as it turns toward the Mid-Atlantic states and New England. Read more

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Shares are mixed in Asia after China reported that its economy expanded at an 8.1% annual pace in 2021, though growth slowed to half that level in the last quarter. Shortly before the growth data were announced, the Chinese central bank on Monday announced a rate cut on medium-lending to commercial banks to the lowest level since 2020. On Wall Street Friday, major indexes logged their second losing week in a row. The S&P 500 gained 0.1%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq added 0.6% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.6%. Traders were disappointed to see that retail sales sank 1.9% in December. Read more

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Novak Djokovic has arrived in Dubai after his deportation from Australia over its required COVID-19 vaccination ended the No. 1-ranked men’s tennis player’s hopes of defending his Australian Open title. The Emirates plane carrying Djokovic touched down after a 13 1/2-hour flight from Melbourne, where he had argued in court he should be allowed to stay under a medical exemption due to a coronavirus infection last month. An hour after his arrival, he had not come out of baggage claim. It wasn’t immediately clear where he planned to travel next. Djokovic has won nine of his 20 Grand Slam trophies in Australia. Rival Rafael Nadal is the only former Australian Open men’s champion in the tournament that began Monday. Read more

Evan Taylor had 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the Mountain Hawks Read more

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The Australian Open has started without nine-time champion Novak Djokovic. Finally, the focus is on the tennis. Naomi Osaka opened her title defense with a win in straight sets over Camila Osorio in the second match on Rod Laver Arena. Fifth-seeded Maria Sakkari started the program on the tournament's main court with a straight-sets win over Tatjana Maria. Rafael Nadal, the only past champion in the men’s bracket after Djokovic’s late withdrawal, was set to renew his bid for a men’s record 21st major singles title with a first-round match against Marcos Giron. Djokovic was heading home after a losing a legal battle Sunday to have his visa reinstated despite not being vaccinated for COVID-19. Read more

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One of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, Charles McGee, who flew fighter combat missions over three wars, has died. Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III say McGee died on Sunday at age 102. The Tuskegee Airmen is the nickname of the first African American unit to fly combat airplanes in World War II. McGee was among more than 900 men who trained in rural Alabama after the Army Air Corps was forced to admit Blacks pilots. McGee went on to fly combat missions in World War II as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars. Read more

President Joe Biden will meet virtually with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan on Friday. The meeting comes as the omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to surge. The White House said Sunday the meeting will take place to highlight the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance. The allies are looking to deepen ties in the face of China’s growing economic and military clout in the region. Kishida was elected in November and the two leaders will be meeting for the first time. Read more

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Police in England say they have arrested two teenagers in their investigation into an armed British national holding four people hostage during a 10-hour standoff at a Texas synagogue. The Greater Manchester Police did not name the suspects Sunday or whether they faced any charges. They described them as teenagers who were in custody for questioning. Authorities have identified the hostage-taker as a 44-year-old British national, Malik Faisal Akram. He was killed Saturday night after the last hostages ran out of Congregation Beth Israel near Fort Worth.  Read more

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San Francisco will head to Green Bay to take on the No. 1 seeded Packers. Read more

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Anti-poverty group Oxfam has called for governments to impose a one-time 99% tax on the world’s billionaires and use the money to fund expanded vaccine production for the poor. Oxfam said in a report Monday that the ranks of the super-rich have swelled during the coronavirus pandemic while poor countries have suffered because vaccines have mostly gone to rich nations. Its report is aimed at informing discussions at the World Economic Forum’s online gathering of political and business leaders this week. Oxfam called for rich countries to waive intellectual property rules on COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to expand their production. Read more

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The Steelers had running back Najee Harris and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster available for their wild-card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. Harris was questionable after working out Friday and was removed from the injury report entirely on Saturday. Smith-Schuster thought his season was over after a shoulder injury Oct. 10, but was able to return to practice this week. Chiefs cornerback Rashad Fenton was inactive after he was added to the injury list with a shoulder problem about 2 hours before kickoff. Read more

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A Bronx community is paying its final respects to loved ones, a week after a fire filled a high-rise apartment building with thick, suffocating smoke that killed 17 people, including six children. Earlier in the week, burial services were held for two children at a mosque in Harlem. The mass funeral at the Islamic Cultural Center culminated a week of prayers and mourning within a close-knit community with ties to the west African country of Gambia. All of the dead collapsed and died after being overcome by smoke while trying to descend down the stairwell of the 19-story building. Officials say the fire was sparked by a faulty electrical space heater. Read more

Collin Gillespie hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 points for the 14th-ranked Wildcats. Read more

The defending Super Bowl champion Bucs built a 31-0 lead en route to a 31-15 victory. Read more

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Alekos Fassianos, one of the most important modern Greek painters, has died at age 86. The state news agency ANA said Fassianos died Sunday at his home after a long illness. He studied painting in Athens and lithography in Paris, where he lived for 35 years and was made a commander of the Order of Arts and Letters and officer of the Legion of Honor. He mostly avoided contemporary styles and was inspired by Greek popular art and Ancient Greek mythology Read more

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Australia made its decision, but opinion remains divided worldwide on Novak Djokovic and whether he should have been allowed to compete in the Australian Open despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. Djokovic received an exemption to vaccination rules to play in the Australian Open. But upon arrival, border officials said the exemption was not valid. In the end, the country’s immigration minister revoked his visa, and Djokovic was deported Sunday. At a tennis center in Phoenix, there was no consensus on whether the No. 1 men’s player had tried to game the system in seeking an exemption or had the right to defend his title at the Open. Djokovic has overwhelming support from his home country of Serbia, but many others have criticized him. Read more

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Jeff Goldblum infused Milan Fashion Week with some levity as he shimmied down the Prada runway in a dark overcoat that cast a dramatic silhouette.  The latest menswear collection in the two-year-old collaboration between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons as co-creative directors was at once elemental and celebratory, presenting elevated everyday pieces. Goldblum and Kyle MacLachlan opened and closed Sunday's runway show that featured eight other actors, chosen by the designers to represent “real men, recognized figures,” enhancing reality. Both wore long overcoats. Goldblum's was set off dramatically with furry trim, while MacLachlan’s was contrasted with shimmering pants and shirt in light blue.  Read more

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President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden packed carrots and apples into food boxes for the hungry and chatted with volunteers Sunday at a food bank as part of a day of service for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The couple traveled about a half-hour from their Wilmington, Delaware, residence to Philabundance, a hunger relief organization in Philadelphia which serves about 140,000 people a week in the Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey region. Before heading to the warehouse floor where conveyor belts carried cardboard boxes full of donated food, Biden said the child tax credit needed to be renewed. Read more

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As California enters its fifth year of broad legal marijuana sales, industry insiders say the practice of working simultaneously in the legal and illicit markets is all too commonplace in the struggling pot economy. Legal businesses have long complained that heavy taxes and regulation — paired with thriving illegal sales — make it impossible for licensed shops to turn a profit. To survive, an increasing number of license holders are secretly operating in the underground — working both sides of the marketplace to make ends meet. Leading companies recently warned Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom the legal market could collapse. Newsom says he's open to changes. Read more

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The president of South Korea has reached a preliminary multibillion-dollar deal to sell Seoul’s surface-to-air missiles to Abu Dhabi and pledged deeper cooperation with the United Arab Emirates during a visit to the Gulf Arab state. After South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with the Emirati prime minister in Dubai on Sunday, the countries signed a memorandum of understanding for the UAE’s purchase of a South Korean missile defense system valued at some $3.5 billion. There were no further details on the deal announced during the visit nor immediate comment from the UAE. The nations have strengthened their defense, energy and technology cooperation in recent years.  Read more

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Ukraine says Russia was behind a cyberattack that defaced government websites and it alleged that Russia is engaged in a “hybrid war” against the country. The statement from Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Development came a day after Microsoft said dozens of computer systems at an unspecified number of Ukrainian government agencies have been infected with destructive malware disguised as ransomware. That disclosure suggested the attention-grabbing defacement attack on official websites last week was a diversion. The ministry said “all evidence indicates that Russia is behind the cyber attack. Moscow continues to wage a hybrid war.” The attack comes as the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine looms and diplomatic talks to standoff appear stalled.   Read more

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Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he is returning to Ukraine to fight treason charges even though he views them as politically motivated. He says he believes that fighting them is part of his defense of national unity. Poroshenko spoke at a news conference Sunday in Warsaw hours before he is to fly Monday from the Polish capital to Kyiv, Ukraine, where he is to face the allegations in court. A prosecutor has alleged that Poroshenko was involved in the sale of large amounts of coal that helped finance Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014-15. Poroshenko insists he is innocent and accuses prosecutors under his successor, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, of seeking to distract from the country's problems. Read more

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After a month at the top of the box office, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has finally been overtaken by “Scream." Sunday studio estimates say the Paramount Pictures reboot grossed $30.6 million over the weekend. Paramount forecasts that “Scream” will total $35 million over the four-day holiday weekend. That made for a solid revival for the self-aware slasher franchise kickstarted with the 1996 original. Meanwhile, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” slipped to second place but continued to rise in the record books. It grossed $20.8 million in its fifth weekend of release. On Monday, it's predicted to pass “Black Panther” for fourth highest-grossing film domestically ever, with more than $700 million in ticket sales. Read more