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Stephen King gets no apology from Maine governor

Maine governor says he doesn't owe Stephen King an apology for income tax comment
The Associated Press

CUMBERLAND, Maine - Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he doesn't owe Stephen King an apology.

The governor responded to a question about the spat during a public discussion by saying he never stated King moved to Florida to dodge income taxes. Instead, he contends he said King is "not in Maine right now."

That's not how King saw it.

The governor referenced King during a radio address after noting that former Gov. Kenneth Curtis moved to Florida "where there is zero income tax." He said King "moved away as well."

2 leading candidates in Nigeria elections commit to peace

2 leading candidates in Nigeria presidential elections commit to peaceful outcome
Michelle Faul, The Associated Press

ABUJA, Nigeria - The two leading candidates in this weekend's presidential elections pledged Thursday to accept the outcome as a new report showed that Boko Haram Islamic extremists, who are threatening to disrupt the vote, have killed more than 1,000 civilians this year.

Syrian government shells kill 18 in south, activists say

Syrian government shelling kills at least 18 in southern city, activists say
The Associated Press

BEIRUT - Syrian government airstrikes and shelling in the country's south killed at least 18 people on Thursday, including three children, opposition activists said.

The attacks come amid heightened clashes in southern Syria between government forces and rebels who seized the nearby ancient town of Busra Sham the previous day.

The Latest: US identifies 3rd American plane crash victim

The Latest: US identifies 3rd American victim of Germanwings crash
The Associated Press

9:15 p.m. (2015 GMT, 4:15 p.m. EDT)

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke identified Robert Oliver as the third American citizen killed in the crash.

He provided no further details Thursday, but Oliver's parents told Spain's La Sexta television channel their son lived in Barcelona and worked for the Desigual clothing company based in Spain's second-largest city.

US sees opportunity in Iran's pullback in Iraq

Turning the tables on Tehran, US persuades Iraq to sideline Iranian-backed militias in Tikrit
Robert Burns And Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The United States persuaded Iraq to sideline Iranian-backed Shiite militias as a condition to American airstrikes in the strategic Iraqi city of Tikrit, a senior U.S. general said Thursday. The move limits Iran's influence, at least temporarily, and could re-invigorate a ground offensive that U.S. officials said had become stalled under Iranian leadership.

US, Iran nuke talks enter critical round ahead of deadline

US, Iran nuclear talks enter critical phase with deadline for framework deal just days away
Matthew Lee, The Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland - Nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran entered a critical phase on Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meeting his Iranian counterpart less than a week away from a deadline to secure the outline of a deal.

NC State's Barber says all is OK with Obama after profanity

NC State's Cat Barber says all is OK with Obama after email exchange on postgame profanity
The Associated Press

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - N.C. State's Cat Barber says things are square again with President Barack Obama.

Last Saturday night, Barber was caught by TV cameras saying "What ... (is) wrong with Barack Obama" to his teammates in the locker room after North Carolina State upset top-seeded Villanova to reach the Sweet 16.

Obama had picked Villanova to reach the NCAA Tournament final. But the Wolfpack busted the president's bracket with the 71-68 win.

After US airstrikes, Iraq troops start final push for Tikrit

After US airstrikes, Iraqi forces launch final ground push to take Tikrit from IS
Qassim Abdul-Zahra And Vivian Salama, The Associated Press

TIKRIT, Iraq - Iraqi troops started the final phase of an offensive to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Thursday, a military official said, just hours after the United States launched airstrikes on the Islamic State-held city.

The push, however, is going ahead without the country's Iran-backed Shiite militias, which had been instrumental to the operation so far and which backed out in a protest over the U.S. action.

UK's top court upholds disclosure of Prince Charles' letters

UK Supreme Court refuses to overturn ruling calling for publication of Prince Charles' letters
Gregory Katz, The Associated Press

LONDON - Britain's Supreme Court Thursday paved the way for the public release of 27 hotly contested memos written by Prince Charles to government ministers.

The government has sought for years to keep the letters out of the public domain for fear that publishing them might damage public perceptions of Charles' neutrality.

As heir-to-the-throne, Charles is expected to remain out of politics. The letters, said to contain strong personal views, were deemed too sensitive by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who vetoed their release in 2012.

US: Thailand must end slavery in its fishing fleets

AP investigation renews US pressure on Thai government to end labour abuses in seafood sector
Martha Mendoza, The Associated Press

The U.S. government and major business leaders are renewing their call on the Thai government to crack down on slavery in its fishing fleets, and to punish people who force migrant workers to catch seafood that can end up in the United States.

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