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AP Top News at 6:42 p.m. EDT

'The real Bill Cosby': Comedian convicted of sexual assault
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era, completing the spectacular late-in-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America's Dad. Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004. He stared straight ahead as the verdict was read but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele after the prosecutor demanded Cosby be sent immediately to jail.

Police: Former cop is suspected in 13th California slaying
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The former police officer accused of being California's notorious Golden State Killer is the prime suspect in the 1975 killing of a community college teacher, police said Thursday, raising the total number of his alleged victims to 13. Detectives are trying to link Joseph DeAngelo to the slaying and about 100 burglaries that occurred in Visalia, in Central California, while DeAngelo served as a police officer in nearby Exeter, Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar said. The police chief said he believes DeAngelo is the so-called Visalia Ransacker, who terrorized the farming community about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Fresno from early 1974 until late 1975.

Pompeo sworn in as secretary of state, dashes off to Europe
WASHINGTON (AP) - Mike Pompeo took over as America's top diplomat Thursday after being confirmed by the Senate and sworn in across the street minutes later. The new secretary of state immediately dashed off to Europe in an energetic start befitting the high-stakes issues awaiting him from Iran to North Korea. The hard-charging former CIA director was confirmed on a 57-42 vote - one of the slimmest margins for the job in recent history. Every past nominee to get a roll call vote since at least the Carter administration received 85 or more yes votes in the Senate, with the exception of Trump's first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who got 56.

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Trump pledges hands off Russia probe, may "change my mind'
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump insisted Thursday he "won't be involved" in any attempt to interfere with the investigation into Russian election meddling - unless he changes his mind - as a Senate panel moved to safeguard special counsel Robert Mueller from any attempt to fire him. Trump also laced into James Comey, the FBI director he fired last year, accusing him of lying about Trump's trip to Moscow in 2013 that has received fresh scrutiny. The GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Mueller-protection measure just hours after Trump, in a television interview, blasted the U.S. Justice Department, which oversees the special counsel's investigation.

The Latest: NFL renews Thursday night deal with Amazon
The NFL has renewed an exclusive partnership with Amazon Prime Video for digital streaming of Thursday night games during 2018 and 2019 seasons. Amazon will stream the 11 Thursday night games broadcast by FOX this season. Those games are also simulcast on NFL Network and distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes. Through the streaming deal with Amazon, the broadcasts will be available to more than 100 million Amazon Prime members worldwide in more than 200 countries and territories. "Having over 100 million Amazon Prime members provides a massive platform to distribute Thursday Night Football digitally, not only to our fans in the United States but also around the world," said Brian Rolapp, chief media and business officer for the NFL.

At hearings, EPA chief seeks to divert blame for ethics woes
WASHINGTON (AP) - Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, yet another Trump administration official with his job on the line over ethical concerns, took heat from lawmakers Thursday over his profligate spending and lobbyist ties and tried to divert responsibility to underlings. The EPA administrator said "twisted" allegations against him were meant to undermine the administration's anti-regulatory agenda, and he denied knowing details of some of the extraordinary spending done on his behalf at the agency. The public grilling at back-to-back House hearings, called formally to consider EPA's budget, came as support has appeared to erode for Pruitt among fellow Republicans after revelations about unusual security spending, first-class flights, a sweetheart condo lease and more.

Seeing red: Teacher walkouts shut Arizona, Colorado schools
PHOENIX (AP) - A sea of teachers clad in red shirts and holding "Money for Schools" signs reached the Arizona Capitol to press lawmakers for action Thursday, a key event in an unprecedented walkout that closed most of the state's public schools and built on an educator uprising that bubbled up in other parts of the U.S. Tens of thousands of teachers and their supporters headed through downtown Phoenix to a rally to demand increased school funding on top of big pay hikes offered by the Republican governor. Widespread walkouts also were underway in Colorado, where teachers protested at their own Capitol and some schools were shut down.

US won't step in to stop ex-Lithuanian judge's extradition
CHICAGO (AP) - The U.S. Department of State has denied a request by a former Lithuanian judge and parliamentarian to intervene to stop her extradition from a Chicago jail to the Baltic Sea nation, where she says she could be killed for exposing an alleged ring of influential pedophiles. Neringa Venckiene, who worked as a suburban Chicago florist before her February arrest, could be removed from a high-rise lockup at any time and flown back to Lithuania, according to court filings this week disclosing the decision not to step in. "This is very, very disturbing," attorney Michael Monico said Thursday about that decision.

Parents sue North Korea over death of detainee Otto Warmbier
WASHINGTON (AP) - The parents of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier filed a wrongful death lawsuit against North Korea on Thursday, saying its government tortured and killed their son. Fred and Cindy Warmbier filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeking compensation for the death of the 22-year-old, whose plight had compounded tense U.S.-North Korean relations. Otto Warmbier, who was a student at University of Virginia, was arrested by North Korean authorities in January 2016 for stealing a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor. He died in June 2017, days after he was repatriated to the U.S.

Explosion rocks Wisconsin refinery, forcing evacuations
An explosion rocked a refinery in northwestern Wisconsin on Thursday, injuring at least 11 people, forcing the evacuation of homes, schools and a hospital, and sending a plume of noxious smoke billowing into the air. Authorities said a tank of crude oil or asphalt exploded about 10 a.m. at the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior, a city of about 27,000 that shares a Lake Superior shipping port with nearby Duluth, Minnesota. That prompted them to order the evacuation of a three-mile (five-kilometer) radius around the refinery, as well as a 10-mile (16 kilometer) corridor south of it where the smoke was heading.

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