In today's racially charged environment, there's a label that even the KKK disavows: white supremacy PELHAM, N.C. (AP) - White supremacy is a label that's too hot to handle even for groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Standing on a muddy dirt road in the dead of night near the North Carolina-Virginia border, masked Ku Klux Klan members claimed Donald Trump's election as president proves whites are taking back America from blacks, immigrants, Jews and other groups they describe as criminals and freeloaders. America was founded by and for whites, they say, and only whites can run a peaceful, productive society. But still, the KKK members insisted in an interview with The Associated Press, they're not white supremacists, a label that is gaining traction in the country since Trump won with the public backing of the Klan, neo-Nazis and other white racists.
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The 114th Congress limped to a close after two years of partisan acrimony punctuated by the occasional bipartisan achievement WASHINGTON (AP) - The 114th Congress has limped to a close, two years of partisan acrimony punctuated by the occasional burst of bipartisan deal-making in the waning days of Barack Obama's presidency. Ahead is uncertainty, as the GOP prepares to assume monopoly control over Washington for the first time in a decade come January, with Congress' relationship with an untested new president yet to be determined. Thus far, congressional Republicans have been highly deferential to President-elect Donald Trump, even when his pronouncements fly in the face of long-held GOP goals like free trade and limited government. The question hanging over the next Congress will be whether Trump prevails on issues like his call for a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and steep tariffs to prevent outsourcing - or whether congressional Republicans steer him in a direction more in line with traditional GOP beliefs.
Syrian activists say the Islamic State group has re-entered the historic city of Palmyra in central Syria, nine months after they were expelled by Syrian and Russian forces in a highly publicized campaign BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian activists say the Islamic State group has re-entered the historic city of Palmyra in central Syria, nine months after they were expelled by Syrian and Russian forces in a highly publicized campaign. The activist-run Palmyra Coordination Collective reports Saturday that the militants seized the city's military warehouse and its northern and western neighborhoods after taking several government positions, oil fields, and strategic hilltops in the surrounding countryside in a lightning three-day campaign. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the militants reached the city's Tadmor Hospital and its strategically located wheat silos. The militants destroyed several of the city's famed ancient Roman monuments and executed its archaeological director after sweeping into the city in July 2015 and holding it for 11 months.
Actor and comedian Joe Piscopo is serious when he says he's considering a run for New Jersey governor in 2017 NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) - Joe Piscopo's Frank Sinatra impression, made famous from his days on "Saturday Night Live," has gotten an update. It's no longer "New York, New York," but "NJ, NJ," the actor, standup comic and potential 2017 Republican candidate for governor is now crooning. Piscopo performed the updated song - lyrics included "my New York and Philly blues are melting away" - at a recent charity event for the Boys and Girls Club in New Jersey, where his flirtation with running for governor to succeed incumbent Republican Chris Christie when his term ends in 2018 is out in the open.
Defenders of a condemned inmate in Alabama are calling his execution an "avoidable disaster." ATMORE, Ala. (AP) - Defenders of a condemned inmate in Alabama are calling his execution an "avoidable disaster," but the state prison commissioner says there was no visible evidence that he suffered during a lethal injection. Death row inmate Ronald Bert Smith Jr. coughed, and his upper body heaved repeatedly, for the first 13 minutes of the procedure as he was being sedated, and his arms appeared to move slightly after two tests were administered to determine consciousness. Smith's attorneys, who watched the execution said in a Friday statement said the movements show that he "was not anesthetized at any point during the agonizingly long procedure." Alabama's Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn disputes the assessment that Smith was in pain, saying Alabama properly followed a lethal injection protocol that has been upheld by the courts.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein has failed to win office despite years of trying and now critics say she is pushing for an presidential election recount simply to raise her national profile Long before presidential recounts crossed her mind, trash dumping and mercury contamination pushed Jill Stein into politics. Stein, a physician, joined a 1990s movement to shut down or better regulate mercury-polluting incinerators in Massachusetts. She authored papers on child neurological damage and spoke at public gatherings. She testified at hearings as a medical expert. Massachusetts eventually enacted strict limits on mercury emissions, and a few incinerators closed. But Stein had begun to see the system as set up to block change, and when the Green Party recruited her to run for governor in 2002, she took the chance. "I was part of a very frustrated public health initiative, and then the Green Party came to me and said, 'Why don't you run for office?'" Stein said in an October interview with The Associated Press.
A former Major League Baseball pitcher has hung up his jersey and become a police officer ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) - A former Major League Baseball pitcher has hung up his jersey and become a police officer. Anthony Varvaro graduated from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police academy on Friday. He was a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves and Seattle Mariners from 2010 to 2015. He went 7-9 in six seasons before an arm injury sidelined him for most of 2015. The 32-year-old from New York graduated in a ceremony in Elizabeth along with 79 others. The Port Authority Police Department patrols the New York region's airports, tunnels, bridges and a transit system.