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AP Top News at 6:52 p.m. EDT

Senate intel leaders pledge Russia probe cooperation
WASHINGTON (AP) - Pledging cooperation, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee said Wednesday they would steer clear of politics in their panel's probe of Russian interference in last year's election. They made a point of putting themselves at arm's length from the House investigation marked by partisanship and disputes. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the GOP chairman of the Senate committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill he would not even answer questions about the House probe. "We're not asking the House to play any role in our investigation. We don't plan to play any role in their investigation," Burr said ahead of his panel's open hearing Thursday.


It's not EU, it's me: UK files for EU divorce after 44 years
LONDON (AP) - Britain filed for divorce from the European Union on Wednesday, with fond words and promises of friendship that could not disguise the historic nature of the schism - or the years of argument and hard-nosed bargaining ahead as the U.K. leaves the embrace of the bloc for an uncertain future as ``global Britain.'' Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the two-year divorce process in a six-page letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk, vowing that Britain will maintain a ``deep and special partnership'' with its neighbors in the bloc. In response, Tusk told Britain: ``We already miss you.'' May's invocation of Article 50 of the EU's key treaty sets the clock ticking on two years of negotiations until Britain becomes the first major nation to leave the union - as Big Ben bongs midnight on March 29, 2019.


Latest: 12 killed, 3 injured in Texas church van-truck crash
A Texas state trooper says 12 people were killed in a crash between a church van and a pickup truck on a two-lane highway in southwestern Texas. Sgt. Conrad Hein of the Texas Department of Public Safety also said three others were injured and taken to hospitals after the head-on collision that happened around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday on U.S. 83 outside Garner State Park, about 75 miles west of San Antonio. But Hein said he does not know if the lone occupant of the pickup truck is among the dead or how many of the dead were among the 14 people aboard the church van.


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2 former Christie aides get prison for bridge revenge plot
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Two former aides to Gov. Chris Christie were sentenced to prison Wednesday for creating a colossal traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge for political revenge, a scandal that sank Christie's White House campaign and was attributed by the judge to a venomous climate inside state government. Bill Baroni, Christie's appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was sentenced to two years in prison, and Bridget Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, was sentenced to 18 months at separate hearings in the 2013 lane-closing case. Both must also serve 500 hours of community service.


Poll: Americans dislike GOP's, Trump's plan on health care
WASHINGTON (AP) - Note to President Donald Trump and House Republicans: People really don't like your approach to overhauling America's health care. If you're hoping to revive the effort, you may want to try something different. Sixty-two percent of Americans turned thumbs down on Trump's handling of health care during the initial weeks of his presidency, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Wednesday. It was his worst rating among seven issues the poll tested, including the economy, foreign policy and immigration. Of six changes the failed House GOP bill would have made to President Barack Obama's law, five drew more negative than positive reviews.


Ivanka Trump to become official White House employee
WASHINGTON (AP) - Ivanka Trump is officially joining her father's administration as an unpaid employee, after her plans to serve in a more informal capacity were questioned by ethics experts. The first daughter announced Wednesday that she will serve as an unpaid employee in the White House, saying she had "heard the concerns some have with my advising the President in my personal capacity." She added that she has been "working in good faith with the White House Counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role." The news about Ivanka Trump was first reported by The New York Times.


Zinke: Border wall 'complex,' faces geographic challenges
WASHINGTON (AP) - Geographic and physical challenges - including the Rio Grande and threatened wildlife - will make it difficult to build the "big, beautiful wall" that President Donald Trump has promised on the U.S.-Mexico border, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Wednesday. Building a wall "is complex in some areas," including Big Bend National Park and along the river, which twists through nearly half of the 2,000-mile border, Zinke said. Hundreds of species live within 30 miles of the border, including threatened jaguars and Mexican gray wolves. The Trump administration is poised to relax protections for the jaguars, which live in northern Mexico and parts of the southwestern United States, to make it easier to build the wall.


Trump administration seeks delay in ruling on climate plan
WASHINGTON (AP) - Hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order seeking to undo his predecessor's efforts to curb climate change, his administration has asked a federal appeals court to postpone ruling on lawsuits over Obama-era restrictions on carbon emissions. The regulations - known as the Clean Power Plan - have been the subject of long-running legal challenges by about two dozen mostly Republican-led states and industry groups that profit from burning coal. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard arguments in the case last year and could issue a ruling any time. "Because the rule is under agency review and may be significantly modified or rescinded through further rulemaking in accordance with the executive order, holding this case in abeyance is the most efficient and logical course of action here," lawyers for the Justice Department said in their motion late Tuesday.


US judge questions government on narrowing travel ban block
HONOLULU (AP) - A federal judge in Hawaii questioned a government attorney Wednesday who urged him to narrow his order blocking President Donald Trump's travel ban after arguing that a freeze on the nation's refugee program had no effect on the state. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson heard arguments on whether to extend his temporary order until Hawaii's lawsuit works its way through the courts. He said he would issue a written ruling by day's end. Hawaii says the policy discriminates against Muslims and hurts the state's economy. The implied message in the revised ban is like a "neon sign flashing 'Muslim Ban, Muslim Ban'" that the government didn't bother to turn off, state Attorney General Douglas Chin told the judge.


#BlackWomenAtWork highlights daily challenge of race, gender
A pair of testy exchanges between high-profile black women and white men in the political spotlight launched a tweetstorm under the hashtag BlackWomenAtWork, validating the experiences of thousands of professional black women who say such slights are all too common. It began Tuesday morning with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly ridiculing veteran congresswoman Maxine Waters, referring to her hair as "a James Brown wig," after watching a video of the California Democrat criticizing Republican President Donald Trump's policies. Later that day, during a White House press briefing, American Urban Radio Network host April Ryan was admonished by press secretary Sean Spicer, who told her to "stop shaking your head" as he responded to her question.