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  • Kris Medlan and Royals agree to $8.5 million, 2-year deal

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Former Atlanta right-hander Kris Medlen has agreed to an $8.5 million, two-year contract with the Kansas City Royals after missing last season while he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Medlen will make $2 million next year and $5.5 million in 2016 under the agreement announced Thursday and could earn up…

  • Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile

    WASHINGTON (AP) — How does one end almost 54 years of hostility toward a next-door neighbor? That’s about to become clear as the Obama administration and the communist government of Raul Castro move to normalize more than a half-century of bitter animosity between the United States and Cuba. It won’t happen overnight. Some of the…

  • Sony hacking fallout puts all companies on alert

    ATLANTA (AP) — Companies across the globe are on high alert to tighten up network security to avoid being the next company brought to its knees by hackers like those that executed the dramatic cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. The hack, which a U.S. official has said investigators believe is linked to North Korea, culminated…

  • After concussion, WVU QB Trickett cleared for bowl practice

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said quarterback Clint Trickett has been cleared to play in the Liberty Bowl after being sidelined with a concussion. But Holgorsen said sophomore Skyler Howard’s impressive play will put the quarterback rotation up for grabs as the Mountaineers (7-5) prepare to meet Texas A&M (7-5) on…

  • Review panel: Secret Service needs outsider as leader

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Secret Service is an “insular” agency that needs a new director hired from the outside, according to former government officials tasked with examining the embattled agency after a man with a knife stormed the White House. An executive summary of the review released Thursday by the Homeland Security Department also concluded…

  • Williams: time to get tougher on No. 24 Tar Heels

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina coach Roy Williams says it’s time to get tougher on his team. The No. 24 Tar Heels (7-3) just haven’t looked like one of the favorites in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship so far, leaving their Hall of Fame coach displeased with everything from turnovers to a lack…

  • Group challenges timber producer’s ‘green’ label

    GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A watchdog group is challenging the environmentally friendly “green lumber” certification for Plum Creek Timberlands, one of the nation’s biggest landowners and timber producers. The Center for Sustainable Economy, based in Lake Oswego, Oregon, filed the complaint Thursday with a nonprofit group that verifies whether timber producers follow standards for…

  • Top Islamic militants killed; more US troops going to Iraq

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Two senior Islamic State group leaders were killed in U.S. and coalition airstrikes in northern Iraq over the last week, U.S. officials said Thursday, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved new orders for several hundred troops to deploy to Iraq to train Iraqi forces. According to one of the U.S. officials, airstrikes…

  • Oakland joins LA in banning circus elephant tool

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The circus will stop coming to Oakland in a few years after a tool used by elephant handlers was banned in the city. The Oakland City Council earlier this week unanimously approved an ordinance outlawing bullhooks. The instrument resembles a fireplace poker, with a sharp hook on one end that is…

  • Dick Van Dyke tells seniors ‘Keep Moving’ in upcoming book

    NEW YORK (AP) — Dick Van Dyke plans to put his upbeat approach to old age between covers in a new inspirational book. Weinstein Books announced Thursday that the veteran star of screen, stage and TV is calling his guide “Keep Moving, and Other Tips and Truths About Old Age.” Publication is planned for the…

  • IRS head says budget cuts could delay tax refunds

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Budget cuts at the IRS could delay tax refunds, reduce taxpayer services and hurt enforcement efforts, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Thursday. About half the people who call the IRS for assistance this filing season won’t be able to get through to a person, Koskinen said. Once returns are filed, there will…

  • Tsarnaev appears in court for 1st time since 2013

    BOSTON (AP) — Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev returned to court Thursday for the first time since he was arraigned in July 2013, and he received a shout of encouragement from the mother-in-law of a man who was shot and killed while being questioned by law enforcement after the bombings. Security was tight at…

  • Timeline of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack

    It’s been four weeks since hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace began their cyberterrorism campaign against Sony Pictures Entertainment. In that time thousands of executive emails and other documents have been posted online, employees and their families were threatened, and unreleased films were stolen and made available for illegal download. The hackers then escalated this…

  • NYC rapper pleads not guilty to gun, drug charges

    NEW YORK (AP) — An up-and-coming rapper appeared in a New York City court on Thursday to face charges he moonlighted as a gun-toting member of a street gang that was behind several shootings, one fatal, during turf wars over drug trafficking. Ackquille Pollard, who performs under the name Bobby Shmurda, pleaded not guilty and…

  • EU leaders agree to fund for jumpstarting growth

    BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders agreed Thursday to create a strategic investment fund that could generate up to 315 billion euros ($386 billion) in private- and public-sector money to upgrade infrastructure, jumpstart the EU’s sluggish economies and ignite job growth. “The economic situation has improved … but we are not safe yet,” said EU…