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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

Warren, Sanders spar over her claim he said woman can’t win

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Elizabeth Warren made a vigorous case for a female president and stood behind her accusation suggesting sexism by progressive rival Bernie Sanders Tuesday night in a tense Democratic debate that raised gender as a key issue in the sprint to Iowa’s presidential caucuses.

Sanders vehemently denied Warren’s accusation, which threatened to split the Democratic Party’s far-left flank — and a longtime liberal alliance — at a critical moment in the 2020 contest.

“Look at the men on this stage. Collectively they have lost 10 elections,” Warren exclaimed “The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women.”

An incredulous Sanders responded: “Does anybody in their right mind think a woman can’t be elected president?” he asked. “Of course a woman can win.”

He added: “I don’t know that that’s the major issue of the day.”

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The Latest: Biden: ‘Irrelevant’ if Trump claims exoneration

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Latest on the January Democratic presidential debate (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

Joe Biden says the outcome of a Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump won’t affect his arguments against the Republican president in the 2020 campaign.

And the former vice president said at Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate that it’s “irrelevant” whether Trump claims exoneration if the Republican-led Senate votes as expected and doesn’t remove him from office.

Biden said House Democrats had “no choice” but to impeach the president for Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to launch investigations into Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings in the country and his own foreign policy engagement in Ukraine when he was vice president.

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Pelosi sets Wednesday votes to send impeachment to Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. House is set to vote Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate for a landmark trial on whether the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are grounds for removal.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the next steps after meeting privately with House Democrats at the Capitol, ending her blockade Tuesday a month after they voted to impeach Trump.

It will be only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history, a serious moment coming amid the backdrop of a politically divided nation and an election year.

“The President and the Senators will be held accountable,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial.”

The Senate is expected to transform into an impeachment court as early as Thursday. The Constitution calls for the chief justice to preside over senators, who serve as jurors, to swear an oath to deliver “impartial justice.” The House managers will walk the articles across the Capitol in a dramatic procession Wednesday evening after the midday vote.

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Jet dumps fuel that lands on schoolkids near Los Angeles

CUDAHY, Calif. (AP) — A mist of fuel dumped by an airliner with an engine problem as it made an emergency return to Los Angeles International Airport fell on several schools Tuesday, causing minor skin and lung irritation to 56 children and adults, officials said.

The fuel sprayed out of the plane in two lines and the strong-smelling vapor descended at midday in the city of Cudahy and nearby parts of Los Angeles County, about 13 miles (21 kilometers) east of the airport.

The vapor fell on five elementary schools, but all injuries were minor and no one was taken to hospitals, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Sky Cornell said. It didn’t force any evacuations.

“That’s a great sign,” Cornell said.

All the fuel evaporated very quickly and nothing flammable remained in the air or on the ground, he said.

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AP FACT CHECK: Claims from Trump rally, Democratic debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump distorted his record on the economy and fell back on an old false claim about making Mexico pay for his border wallin a campaign rally Tuesday that served as counterpoint to a Democratic presidential debate.

Here’s a look at some statements from both stages and how they compare with the facts:

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TRUMP: “Under the Trump economy, the lowest-paid earners are reaping the biggest, fastest and largest gains. … Earnings for the bottom 10% are rising faster than earnings for the top 10%, proportionally.”

THE FACTS: Trump’s claim that the biggest pay hikes are going to the poor is misleading. The top 10% of earners saw the biggest raises of any income bracket over the past year. Their usual weekly earnings jumped 8% — or $168 — from a year ago, according to the Labor Department.

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Questions of racism linger as Harry, Meghan step back

LONDON (AP) — When accomplished, glamorous American actress Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in 2018, she was hailed as a breath of fresh air for Britain’s fusty royal family. That honeymoon didn’t last.

Now the couple wants independence, saying the pressure of life as full-time royals is unbearable. And a debate is raging: Did racism drive Meghan away?

When Prince Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, began dating the “Suits” actress — daughter of a white father and African American mother — the media called it a sign that Britain had entered a “post-racial” era in which skin color and background no longer mattered, even to the royal family.

U.K. Labour Party lawmaker Clive Lewis, who like Meghan has biracial heritage, says the royal rift shows that Britain still has a problem with “structural racism.”

“We can see it with Meghan Markle and the way that she’s been treated in the media, we know that this is a reality of the 21st century, still,” Lewis told Sky News. “After 400 years of racism you can’t just overturn it overnight.”

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Ex-Trump aide Michael Flynn seeks to withdraw guilty plea

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn filed court papers Tuesday to withdraw his guilty plea, saying federal prosecutors had acted in “bad faith” and broken their end of the bargain when they sought prison time for him.

The request came one week after the Justice Department changed its position on Flynn’s punishment by recommending he serve up to six months behind bars for lying to the FBI during its investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Prosecutors had earlier said Flynn was entitled to avoid prison time because of his extensive cooperation, but their perspective changed after he hired a new team of lawyers. They have raised repeated misconduct allegations against the government — which a judge has since rejected. Prosecutors said the statements call into question whether Flynn has truly accepted his guilt.

It was not immediately clear how the judge handling the case, Emmet Sullivan, would respond to the motion or whether he would actually permit Flynn to withdraw the plea — an extraordinary step that would presumably enable the government to bring additional charges if merited.

In the court document, filed two weeks before Flynn’s scheduled sentencing date, defense lawyers said the Justice Department is attempting to “rewrite history” by withdrawing its recommendation that he be sentenced to probation and by suggesting he had not been forthcoming or cooperative.

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Student fatally shot at Texas high school; suspect arrested

BELLAIRE, Texas (AP) — A 16-year-old student was shot to death Tuesday at a Texas high school, and a suspect was arrested hours later, officials said.

Grenita Latham, interim superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, confirmed the shooting victim at Bellaire High School had died. She gave no other information and took no questions.

A suspect and another person police said was connected to the case were arrested about 3 1/2 hours after the shooting Tuesday night, according to statements from the school district and Bellaire police. They said no other information would be released for now, including further details about where the shooting occurred in the school complex, whether the suspect was a student or what led to the arrest.

The district announced classes had been canceled Wednesday, after Latham originally said they were going on as scheduled.

Emergency crews were seen performing CPR as the student was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance outside the school, KPRC-TV reported. There were conflicting media reports about whether the shooting happened inside or outside the school.

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United Methodist leaders explain plan to split denomination

(RNS) — The 16 United Methodist bishops and advocacy group leaders who negotiated a recent proposal to split the denomination explained their reasoning at an event that was streamed live by United Methodist News Service.

They also forecast dire consequences if the proposal, officially called “A Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation,” isn’t approved this May by the denomination’s global decision-making body.

United Methodist Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone, who first convened the group that led to the negotiations last summer, said a failure of the proposal would be “catastrophic for the church.”

“It would be total disaster,” Yambasu said. “It would mean more pain and more harm to the entire church.”

The unofficial group, which met Monday, was joined by veteran mediator Kenneth Feinberg, offered a behind-the-scenes look at how they arrived at the proposal, which was announced earlier this month and is now being written into legislation for delegates to approve at the General Conference in Minneapolis in May.

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Red Sox manager Alex Cora fired in sign-stealing scandal

BOSTON (AP) — Alex Cora has already been identified as a ringleader in an illegal system of sign stealing when he was with the Houston Astros.

The Red Sox didn’t wait to see what punishment Major League Baseball might give him for possibly bringing a similar scheme with him to Boston.

Cora was fired by the team he led to the 2018 World Series title on Tuesday night, one day after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said he was “an active participant” in the Astros’ cheating when he was a bench coach in Houston.

Manfred mentioned Cora by name 11 times in a nine-page report, saying he “originated and executed” the scheme in which Houston used a center field camera to decode catchers’ signals to pitchers, then banged on a trash can to relay the signs to batters so they would know what type of pitch was coming.

The Astros fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, making that announcement an hour after Manfred suspended them for the 2020 season for their roles in the cheating scheme. Cora met Tuesday with Boston management and they issued a release saying they had “mutually agreed to part ways.”

Associated Press