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China's Foreign Ministry is describing outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as a “doomsday clown" and says his designation of China as a perpetrator of genocide and crimes against humanity is merely “a piece of wastepaper." Spokesperson Hua Chunying says the allegations of abuses against Muslim minority groups in China's Xinjiang region are “a malicious farce concocted by individual anti-China and anti-Communist forces represented by Pompeo." Pompeo's announcement doesn't require any immediate actions, although the U.S. must take the designation into account in formulating policy toward China. China says its policies in Xinjiang aim only to promote economic growth and social stability. Read more

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Watch for a few slick spots for the morning rush as temperatures will be near or below freezing, and a few heavier snow showers might produce a coating of accumulation even on the roads. Read more

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India has begun supplying coronavirus vaccines to its neighboring countries, as the world’s largest vaccine making nation strikes a balance between maintaining enough doses to inoculate its own people and helping developing countries without the capacity to produce their own shots. India’s Foreign Ministry said the country would send 150,000 shots of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India, to Bhutan and 100,000 shots to the Maldives on Wednesday. It said after that vaccines will be sent to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles. The ministry in a statement late Tuesday said regulatory clearances were still awaited from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius. Read more

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Global shares were mostly higher ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration as U.S. president, though worries about surging coronavirus cases sapped the Japanese market's early gains. Benchmarks in France, Germany and Britain rose in early trading. Hopes are growing that Biden’s planned stimulus for the American economy as well as measures to curb the pandemic will boost regional markets. While many Asian nations have fared better in the pandemic than European countries and the U.S., worries in the region still run high. Tokyo and other urban areas of Japan are under a state of emergency and deaths related to COVID-19 still are rising.  Read more

The European Union’s top officials are breathing a sigh of relief as Joe Biden prepares to take over as president of the United States. But they're warning that the world has changed after four years of Donald Trump and that trans-Atlantic ties will be different in the future.  European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says Biden’s arrival is “resounding proof that, once again after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House.” Speaking hours before Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, European Council President Charles Michel told EU lawmakers that trans-Atlantic relations have “greatly suffered in the last four years."  He says Europeans must “take our fate firmly into our own hands.” Read more

Tunisian youth clashed with police overnight, maintaining their protests and riots over economic difficulties despite efforts by the president and prime minister to calm tensions. The prime minister said “Your voice is heard, and your anger is legitimate." Hours later, dozens of people throwing projectiles and setting barricades on fire faced off with police firing tear gas. It's the fifth straight night of protests that prompted Tunisia to deploy the army to try to keep order. The unrest has shaken the North African country just as it marks 10 years since an uprising over similar frustrations that ushered in a new democracy and unleashed the Arab Spring up risings. Read more

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Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen have something in common besides being three of the four starting quarterbacks remaining in the NFL playoffs. The three were picked in the first round by teams coming off a playoff berth in moves that Green Bay, Kansas City and Buffalo surely don’t regret. Since 2000, a playoff team has used a first-round pick on a quarterback seven times overall, with the Packers also doing it last season when they drafted Jordan Love.   Read more

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a chance to make history at Green Bay on Sunday. If they do, it might come with an asterisk. No team has ever played a Super Bowl in its home stadium. Tom Brady and the Bucs will try to become the first to do so by winning the NFC championship game against the Packers. The Super Bowl will take place two weeks later at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The prize would be much different this year, though, because the Super Bowl will be played in front of far fewer fans than usual. Read more

The stars are back, even if the crowds aren't. In a return of the A-list to Washington, a slew of glittery celebrities is descending on the capital virtually or in person to welcome the new administration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, a duo popular in Hollywood, where Donald Trump was decidedly not. They’re led by Lady Gaga — about as big a star as you can get — singing the national anthem Wednesday on the West Front of the Capitol, with Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks contributing musical performances. Stars will also partake in other events, including a virtual parade and a primetime special. Read more

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Chad Henne came off the bench cold in the heat of a tense playoff game and delivered the game-sealing plays for Kansas City in his most consequential performance in a win since 2013. Henne became just the latest understudy quarterback to deliver a memorable performance in the postseason when he relieved an injured Patrick Mahomes and closed out a 22-17 win over Cleveland that sent the defending champion Chiefs into the AFC championship game. If Mahomes remains in concussion protocol and can’t start this week, Henne will try to follow in the footsteps of other playoff fill-ins at quarterback like Nick Foles and Jeff Hostetler. Read more

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Migrant smugglers recently tried to retrieve a boat buried in the Sahara sand. It was a made-to-order vessel built to carry migrants from the North African coast to Spain’s Canary Islands. That's a journey that the European Union calls “the most dangerous migratory route in the world.” The Associated Press witnessed the recent boat handover, a crucial but little-seen piece of the migrant smuggling business. The business thrived last year, as the pandemic plunged many Africans into poverty, leading migration to the Canary Islands jumped to its highest-ever rate. Encouraged by aid from Spain and the EU, Moroccan authorities are increasingly cracking down — but migration into the dangerous Atlantic Ocean continues. Read more

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President Donald Trump has pardoned former chief strategist Steve Bannon as part of a late flurry of clemency action benefiting nearly 150 people, including rap stars and former members of Congress. The pardons and commutations for 143 people, including Bannon, were announced after midnight Wednesday in the final hours of Trump’s White House term. The last-minute clemency, announced earlier Wednesday morning, follows separate waves of pardons over the last month for Trump associates convicted in the FBI’s Russia investigation as well as for the father of his son-in-law. Read more

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Normally quiet streets around state capitols have looked more like battlegrounds recently amid protests. It has put those who live and work there on edge and instilled a sense of foreboding More than most people, these Americans will have front-row seats on whether the change of leadership Wednesday in the White House will lead to a lessening of tension that has been afflicting the nation. They’ll be watching what the next chapter brings from storefronts and the porches and stoops of their own homes. Some expect Joe Biden to bring a unifying tone, but say that alone won’t be enough to bring unity. How the people react will be key.  Read more

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For one former National Guard member, images of insurrection and current guardsmen deployed to the U.S. Capitol recall questions he used to ask when he first signed up. Read more

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China’s highest-profile entrepreneur, e-commerce billionaire Jack Ma, has appeared in a video posted online, ending a 2 1/2-month disappearance from public view that prompted speculation about his status and his business empire’s future. In the 50-second video, Ma congratulated teachers supported by his charitable foundation and made no mention of his absence from public view and scrutiny of his Alibaba Group and Ant Group by regulators. The video appeared on Chinese business news and other websites. The normally voluble, press-friendly Ma was last seen in public after criticizing financial regulators in a speech at a conference in October. Days later, regulators suspended Ant’s planned multibillion-dollar stock market debut.   Read more

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Cindy Findlay, the deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, warned, "We must have patience as the amount of vaccine available in Pennsylvania and the nation remains limited." Read more

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China’s capital Beijing recorded another seven coronavirus cases amid a lingering outbreak in the country’s north. Dozens of other cases were reported in northern provinces and surrounding Beijing. China is hoping to vaccinate 50 million people against the virus by mid-February and is also releasing schools early and telling citizens to stay put during the Lunar New Year travel rush that begins in coming days.  A panel of experts criticized China and other countries this week for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier. That prompted Beijing to concede it could have done better but also to defend its response. Read more

Lottery players are getting another shot at the third-largest jackpot in U.S. history. The Mega Millions top prize has hit an estimated $970 million without a winner Tuesday. The drawing was the biggest in more than two years. The winning numbers are: 10-19-26-28-50 and a Mega Ball of 16. Powerball, the other lottery game offered in most of the U.S., isn’t far behind at $730 million for a drawing Wednesday night. It’s the first time both lottery jackpots have topped $700 million. No one has won the Mega Millions jackpot since Sept. 15. The last Powerball jackpot winner was a day later, on Sept. 16.  Read more

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All-Star outfielder George Springer became the most prominent among baseball’s free agents to reach an agreement this offseason, a $150 million, six-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, a person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday night because the deal was subject to a successful physical. Springer, who turned 31 in September, is a three-time All-Star who has spent his entire seven-season career with Houston and was the World Series MVP when the Astros won their first title in 2017. He hit .265 with 14 homers and 32 RBIs during the shortened 2020 season, earning a prorated $7,777,778 from a $21 million salary. Read more

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Donovan Mitchell had 28 points and seven rebounds, and the Utah Jazz beat the New Orleans Pelicans 118-102 for their sixth straight victory. Mitchell also made four of Utah’s 21 3-pointers. Jordan Clarkson added 18 points, six rebounds, and six assists, and reserve Joe Ingles scored 15 points. Rudy Gobert had 13 points, 18 rebounds, and three blocks. Zion Williamson scored 32 points for New Orleans, and Brandon Ingram had 15. Read more

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The Atlanta Dream are close to being sold, ending defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler's contentious stint as a WNBA owner. The league said in a statement that a sale of the franchise was close to being finalized. Players around the league have called for Loeffler to sell her 49% stake in the Dream after she wrote a letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert over the summer objecting to the league’s initiatives to advocate for racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement. Loeffler is a Republican who was appointed to her Georgia Senate seat by President Donald Trump. She lost a runoff election to Democrat Raphael Warnock. Read more

Donald Trump will walk out of the White House and board Marine One for the last time as president Wednesday morning, leaving behind a legacy of chaos and tumult and a nation bitterly divided. After standing on stage at his own inauguration and painting a dire picture of “American carnage,” Trump will depart the office twice impeached, with millions of people out of work and 400,000 dead from the coronavirus. He will be forever remembered for the final major act of his presidency: inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and horrified the nation. Read more

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The inauguration of Kamala Harris as vice president will mark an expansion of what's possible in American politics. When Harris takes the oath of office on Wednesday, she will be the first female vice president in the nation's history, as well as the first Black woman and first person of South Asian descent to hold the role. She's expected to deliver remarks late Wednesday at the Lincoln Memorial, a symbolic choice during a deeply divided period in the nation's history. She'll be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and take her oath on a Bible that once belonged to Justice Thurgood Marshall.  Read more

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Inauguration Day for President-elect Joe Biden will look unlike anything the nation has seen before as the scars of COVID-19 and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol turn the West Front into a virtual ghost town compared to years past. Instead of a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, there will be a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Instead of balls, there will be Zoom parties. And instead of hundreds of thousands congregating on the Capitol grounds and on the National Mall, there will be thousands of National Guard members. Read more

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Cole Swider hit the winning free throw with 1.9 seconds left and Collin Gillespie scored 22 points to help No. 3 Villanova win its first game in 27 days, 76-74 over Seton Hall. Jermaine Samuels had 20 points for Villanova. The Wildcats held steady in the Top 25 as their schedule crumbled because of COVID-related issues. Two-time national championship coach Jay Wright tested positive around Christmas, and the Wildcats paused their season as players tested positive. Villanova had four games postponed since it beat Marquette on Dec. 23. Read more

Joe Biden swears the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States. He will take the helm of a deeply divided nation and inherit a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors. The very inaugural ceremony in which presidential power is transferred will be a jarring reminder of the challenges Biden will face. It will unfold at a U.S. Capitol battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks ago, encircled by security forces evocative of those in a war zone and devoid of crowds because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Read more

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Grocery stores, gas stations and other shops are reopening in a quake-hit Indonesian city where debris still covers streets and searchers continue to dig in the rubble for more victims. Disaster officials say immediate food and water needs have been met and the local government has started to function again in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and the neighboring district of Majene on Sulawesi island. But thousands of people are living in shelters or sleeping outdoors, fearing aftershocks. Security officers toured the streets of Mamuju in a patrol van with a loudspeaker, urging people to observe COVID-19 health protocols as reopened markets attracted large crowds. Read more

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President-elect Joe Biden’s nominees to lead his national security team promised a turnabout from the Trump administration’s approach to national security. They said they would keep politics out of intelligence agencies, restore an emphasis on cooperating with allies, and push for a stronger American leadership role in the world. Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice to be secretary of state, pledged to repair damage done to the State Department and America’s image abroad over the past four years. Biden's pick to lead the Pentagon, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, said he would embrace the tradition of civilian control of the military. Read more

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Olivia Nelson-Ododa led a balanced attack with 18 points and No. 3 UConn, playing for the first time in 10 days, routed Butler 103-35 in a tuneup before traveling to face Tennessee. Christyn Williams and Aubrey Griffin, who made her first start, each added 17 points for the unbeaten Huskies. Okako Adika scored 18 points for Butler. The win was Auriemma’s 1,099th at UConn, moving him past late Tennessee coach Pat Summitt into second place on the all-time list just two days before the Huskies visit Knoxville to take on the Lady Vols.   Read more

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Lottery players are getting another shot at the third-largest jackpot in U.S. history. The Mega Millions top prize has hit an estimated $865 million, making Tuesday night’s drawing the biggest in more than two years. The winning number’s in Tuesday night’s Mega Millions drawing are: 10-19-26-28-50 and a Mega Ball of 16. Powerball, the other lottery game offered in most of the U.S., isn’t far behind at $730 million for a drawing Wednesday night. It’s the first time both lottery jackpots have topped $700 million. No one has won the Mega Millions jackpot since Sept. 15. The last Powerball jackpot winner was a day later, on Sept. 16.  Read more