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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

US charges Chinese tech giant Huawei, top executive

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department unsealed criminal charges Monday against Chinese tech giant Huawei, a top company executive and several subsidiaries, alleging the company stole trade secrets, misled banks about its business and violated U.S. sanctions.

The charges were announced just before a crucial two-day round of trade talks between the United States and China are scheduled to begin in Washington. Trade analysts say they could dim prospects for a breakthrough.

The sweeping indictments accuse the company of using extreme efforts to steal trade secrets from American businesses — including trying to take a piece of a robot from a T-Mobile lab.

The executive charged is Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Canada last month. The U.S. is seeking to extradite her, alleging she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.

David Martin, Meng’s lawyer in Canada, didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Meng is out on bail in Vancouver and her case is due back in court Tuesday as she awaits extradition proceedings to begin.

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Analysis: Shutdown 2.0? Trump has reasons to avoid a repeat

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump learned over the past month a valuable Washington lesson that old-timers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell learned long ago: Shutdowns never work.

After beating a retreat and agreeing last week to end the shutdown on Pelosi’s terms — with no money for his oft-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall — it’s difficult to imagine Trump getting anywhere near his $5.7 billion demand for wall funding in an upcoming round of negotiations. And it would seem unlikely that Trump would attempt another shutdown strategy after the last one blew up in his face. Capitol Hill Republicans, especially in the Senate, have little appetite for a reprise.

With the government funded for three weeks, it’s up to a group of House and Senate negotiators from the powerful Appropriations Committee to try to iron out a deal under the close watch of top leaders including Pelosi, McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Pelosi, D-Calif., was a longtime member of the panel before rising into leadership, and McConnell, R-Ky., still sits on it. Both of them know how to cut a deal.

But the talks, set to begin Wednesday, will be centered on the polarizing question of what border security projects should be funded in a package for Homeland Security. For both parties, as well as the hundreds of thousands of federal workers returning Monday from unpaid furloughs, there is no guarantee of an easy resolution.

“In the past, when the president has stayed out of it, when the president has given Congress room, we have been repeatedly able to forge bipartisan agreements, including two budget agreements. When the president injects maximalist partisan demands into the process, negotiations tend to fall apart,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday.

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Mueller probe is ‘close to being completed,’ acting AG says

WASHINGTON (AP) — The special counsel’s Russia probe is “close to being completed,” the acting attorney general said Monday in the first official sign that the investigation may be wrapping up.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s comments were a departure for the Justice Department, which rarely comments on the state of the investigation into whether President Donald Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

“The investigation is, I think, close to being completed,” Whitaker said Monday at the end of an unrelated news conference in Washington. He said he had been “fully briefed” on the probe.

Whitaker did not elaborate or give any timetable for the end of a nearly two-year investigation that has shadowed Trump’s presidency.

So far, special counsel Robert Mueller has charged 34 people, including several close to the president. But he has yet to accuse anyone close to the Trump campaign of conspiring with the Kremlin to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and help Trump win the election.

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Houston police: 5 officers hurt in shooting, 2 suspects dead

HOUSTON (AP) — Two suspects are dead after a shooting on Monday that injured five Houston police officers, including four who were hit by gunfire as they attempted to serve a search warrant at a home where drug selling was suspected, the police chief said.

A group of about a dozen officers with the Houston police department’s narcotics unit were attempting to serve the warrant when they forced open the home’s front door and immediately faced gunfire from one or two individuals, said Police Chief Art Acevedo.

Police targeted the southeast Houston home following an investigation that began after officers got a tip from a neighbor that black tar heroin was being sold from the house, Acevedo said.

“Once the officers breached the door and the gunfire began from the suspects, one of the suspects actually retreated momentarily to the back of the room and then that suspect came back and again engaged the officers in gunfire,” Acevedo said at a Monday evening news conference.

It was not immediately known how many officers returned fire but the two suspects were later found dead after SWAT officers used two robots to go into the home and determine that it was safe to enter after the gunfire stopped.

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Amid mass arrests, Maduro won’t touch rival Guaido

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — More than 700 opponents of President Nicolas Maduro have been arrested during the latest push by Venezuela’s opposition to oust the socialist leader.

But there’s one anti-government activist security forces notably haven’t touched: Juan Guaido, the lawmaker who declared himself interim president in a direct challenge to Maduro’s rule.

Maduro’s refusal, at least so far, to order Guaido’s arrest reflects mistrust in his own security forces as well as the Trump administration’s warning that any harm to the man the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s legitimate leader would be crossing a dangerous red line.

The U.S. administration reiterated that threat Monday in announcing sweeping sanctions against Venezuela’s state oil company.

Any actions taken against U.S. diplomats, Guaido or the National Assembly he presides over would be considered a “grave assault” that “will be met with a significant response,” U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said.

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Moms of the dead from drugs: “Where is the outrage for us?”

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The moms meet in a parking lot overlooking the little white funeral home and watch the mourners drifting toward the chapel doors — a familiar scene, beginning again.

Cheryl Juaire taps nervously on her steering wheel.

“Are we ready?” she asks the two other mothers leaning into the window of her SUV.

The wake starting inside is for a stranger, another young man consumed by the great American plague. These women drove nearly two hours to shepherd his mother into their club, its thousands of members all bound by the same hell: They are parents of the dead from addiction, tasked with the unnatural act of burying their children at a rate unprecedented in modern American history.

“I’m going to stay in the car,” one mother says. “I just can’t go in.”

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US envoy: ‘Agreement in principle’ on Afghan peace talks

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Negotiators for the U.S. and the Taliban insurgents have reached “agreements in principle” on key issues for a peace deal that would end 17 years of war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. envoy said Monday.

The statement by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad followed six days of talks last week with the Taliban in Qatar, where he urged the Islamic insurgent group to enter into direct negotiations with the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Ghani on Monday assured Afghans that their rights will not be compromised in the name of peace with the Taliban, who have been staging near-daily attacks against Afghan forces, causing scores of casualties every week. Their offensive has not let up despite the severe Afghan winter and the insurgents now hold sway over nearly half of the country.

Khalilzad said in an interview with The New York Times that an agreement in principle was reached with the Taliban on the framework of a peace deal “which still has to be fleshed out” that will see the insurgents commit to guaranteeing that Afghan territory is not used as a “platform for international terrorist groups or individuals.”

He said the deal could lead to a full pullout of U.S. troops in return for a cease-fire and Taliban talks with the Afghan government.

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Dems fear Trump re-election if ex-Starbucks CEO Schultz runs

NEW YORK (AP) — Some of the most influential forces in Democratic politics revolted Monday against former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s prospective presidential bid, insisting that an independent run would unintentionally help President Donald Trump win another four years in office.

The critics included the Democratic chairman of Schultz’s home state, another billionaire businessman who long flirted with an independent run of his own, former President Barack Obama’s chief strategist, and the most powerful super PAC in Democratic politics.

“If Schultz entered the race as an independent, we would consider him a target. … We would do everything we can to ensure that his candidacy is unsuccessful,” said Patrick McHugh, executive director of Priorities USA, which spent nearly $200 million in the 2016 presidential contest.

Specifically, he seized on Schultz’s apparent willingness to cut entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security to narrow the federal deficit.

“The bottom line,” McHugh said, “is that I don’t think Americans are looking for another selfish billionaire to enter the race.”

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Science Says: Get used to polar vortex outbreaks

WASHINGTON (AP) — It might seem counterintuitive, but the dreaded polar vortex is bringing its icy grip to parts of the U.S. thanks to a sudden blast of warm air in the Arctic.

Get used to it. The polar vortex has been wandering more often in recent years.

It all started with misplaced Moroccan heat. Last month, the normally super chilly air temperatures 20 miles above the North Pole rapidly rose by about 125 degrees (70 degrees Celsius), thanks to air flowing in from the south. It’s called “sudden stratospheric warming.”

That warmth split the polar vortex, leaving the pieces to wander, said Judah Cohen, a winter storm expert for Atmospheric Environmental Research, a commercial firm outside Boston.

“Where the polar vortex goes, so goes the cold air,” Cohen said.

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Media night more like a mosh pit and Mardi Gras

ATLANTA (AP) — Super Bowl Media Night is the NFL’s version of a rock concert, with player interviews rather than music.

It’s a Mardi Gras party, complete with the costumes.

It’s a slow-motion stampede conducted mostly by quasi-media members or outright impostors.

Some Los Angeles Rams players and coach Sean McVay sat at podiums Monday night, answering questions ranging from serious to outrageous. Other Rams were spread across the mosh pit of a floor at the State Farm Arena, dealing with the microphones and TV cameras and the noise bouncing through the building.

This is the start of the biggest week in American football?

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