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Europeans wonder if Trump will act on Pence's reassurances
MUNICH (AP) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was the latest in a trio of high-ranking Trump emissaries to tell European allies in person that the United States will steadfastly support NATO and demand that Russia honor its commitments to end fighting in Ukraine. Some European leaders, however, remain skeptical of whether Pence and the U.S. secretaries of state and defense actually speak for President Donald Trump. And they worry those declarations might easily be swept away at the whim of the mercurial American president. "We are waiting for actions," said Polish President Andrzej Duda. "We only know what the media has reported and the statements that we've got.


Iraqi forces launch offensive to drive IS from western Mosul
HAMAM AL-ALIL, Iraq (AP) - U.S.-backed Iraqi forces launched a major air-and-ground offensive Sunday to retake western Mosul from Islamic State militants and drive the extremist group from its last major urban bastion in Iraq. Ground units pushed into a belt of villages outside the country's second-largest city, and plumes of smoke rose into the sky early in the morning as U.S.-led coalition jets struck militant positions southwest of Mosul and militarized Iraqi police fired artillery. "This is zero hour and we are going to end this war, God willing," said Mahmoud Mansour, a police officer, as he prepared to move out.


Trump steps up security aide search, focuses on health care
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - President Donald Trump on Sunday was stepping up his search for a national security adviser, with several interviews on tap, and focusing on health care in talks with his health and budget chiefs, while his team pushed back against depictions of a young administration in disarray. His chief of staff used appearances on the Sunday news shows to echo his boss' complaints about media coverage of the White House and cited what he said were multiple accomplishments in the first few weeks of the Trump presidency. Reince Priebus also denied a report that Trump advisers were in touch with Russian intelligence advisers during the 2016 campaign, and said he had assurances from "the top levels of the intelligence community" that it was false.


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US vice president visits former Nazi concentration camp
DACHAU, Germany (AP) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence paid a somber visit to the site of the Dachau concentration camp on Sunday, walking along the grounds where tens of thousands of people were killed during World War II. Pence was joined by his wife, Karen Pence, and the couple's 23-year-old daughter, Charlotte, as they toured the exhibits at the former concentration camp that was established by the Nazis in 1933 near Munich. The vice president was accompanied by Abba Naor, a survivor of the camp, and other dignitaries as he passed through the wrought iron gate bearing the inscription, "Arbeit macht frei," or "Work sets you free." The Pences placed a wreath beneath the International Memorial at the center of the camp, toured the barracks and viewed the ovens inside the crematorium.


SpaceX launches rocket from NASA's historic moon pad
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - A SpaceX rocket soared from NASA's long-idled moonshot pad Sunday, sending up space station supplies from the exact spot where astronauts embarked on the lunar landings nearly a half-century ago. It was the first flight from NASA's legendary Launch Complex 39A since the shuttle program ended almost six years ago, and SpaceX's first liftoff from Florida since a rocket explosion last summer. The crowds at Kennedy Space Center watched eagerly as the unmanned Falcon 9 rocket took flight with a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station. They got barely 10 seconds of viewing before clouds swallowed up the Falcon as it thundered skyward.


Swedes scratch heads at Trump's suggestion of major incident
HELSINKI (AP) - Swedes have been scratching their heads and ridiculing President Donald Trump's remarks that suggested a major incident had happened in the Scandinavian country. During a rally in Florida on Saturday, Trump said "look what's happening last night in Sweden" as he alluded to past terror attacks in Europe. It wasn't clear what he was referring to and there were no high-profile situations reported in Sweden on Friday night. The comment prompted a barrage of social media reaction on Sunday, with hundreds of tweets, and a local newspaper published a list of events that happened on Friday that appeared to have no connections to any terror-like activity.


As Trump makes foreign moves, Tillerson avoids the spotlight
WASHINGTON (AP) - When North Korea fired a ballistic missile into waters between South Korea and Japan, President Donald Trump moved quickly to show U.S. resolve. He appeared within hours alongside visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and said the U.S. "stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent." Trump happened to be hosting Abe that day in Florida. Yet his lack of any mention of U.S. treaty ally South Korea didn't go unnoticed by new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. So, while on his first official trip, Tillerson arranged a three-way meeting in Germany with the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers to show the U.S.


Kraft Heinz withdraws $143B bid to buy Unilever
NEW YORK (AP) - Kraft Heinz has decided to withdraw its $143 billion offer to buy mayonnaise, tea and seasonings maker Unilever. The companies announced the decision Sunday in a joint press release. Unilever, which has a head office in London, earlier had spurned the offer, saying the price was too low. Despite rejection, ketchup, cheese and lunch meat maker Kraft Heinz said last week it was still interested in the deal. Analysts say Kraft Heinz, co-headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, is still in the market for acquisitions. The deal would have brought together Kraft Heinz brands such as Oscar Mayer, Jell-O and Velveeta and Unilever's Hellman's, Lipton and Knorr.


2 dams illustrate challenge of maintaining older designs
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Twelve years ago, widespread destruction from Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast helped compel federal engineers 2,000 miles away in California to remake a 1950s-era dam by constructing a massive steel-and-concrete gutter that would manage surging waters in times of torrential storms. The nearly $1 billion auxiliary spillway at Folsom Dam, scheduled to be completed later this year, stands in contrast to the troubles 75 miles away at the state-run Oroville Dam, where thousands of people fled last week after an eroded spillway threatened to collapse - a catastrophe that could have sent a 30-foot wall of floodwater gushing into three counties.


Doctor-lawmaker tries to restrict smoking in tobacco country
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - When Dr. Ralph Alvarado was elected to the Kentucky state Senate in 2014, he found his new colleagues had something in common with most of his patients: They knew smoking was bad, they just couldn't quit. For more than two years, Alvarado has led the effort to restrict smoking in a state with the highest smoking rate in the country. He keeps a white lab coat in his Senate office, giving him a little more authority with lawmakers and lobbyists. But his efforts have so far been thwarted by the cultural legacy of tobacco, which along with coal has declined sharply because of a mix of market and political forces while still maintaining its grip on public policy in Kentucky.