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Here is the latest news from The Associated Press at 12:40 p.m. EST

January 21, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden is atoning for his role in the passage of a crime bill that imposed stiffer sentences for those convicted of crack cocaine possession. The law has disproportionately affected the black community. Biden is among half a dozen Democratic presidential prospects that are fanned out across the country, getting their voices heard on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

WASHINGTON (AP) — First-term Sen. Kamala Harris is getting into the Democratic presidential race. She’s a former California attorney general and has become known in the Senate for her aggressive questioning of President Donald Trump’s nominees. Harris is bypassing an exploratory committee and entering the race directly. If successful, she would be the first woman and second African-American to hold the presidency. She’s the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The partial government shutdown is in its 31st day, and Democrats and Republicans appear to be no closer to ending it than when it began. President Donald Trump over the weekend offered to temporarily extend protections for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children and those fleeing disaster zones in exchange for $5.7 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Democrats said the proposal didn’t go far enough, and conservatives accused Trump of embracing “amnesty.”

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A northern Kentucky high school junior says he’s “being called every name in the book, including a racist” after a video circulated of him staring and smiling at an elderly Native American protester drumming in his face outside the Lincoln Memorial. Nick Sandmann says he did nothing to provoke the man and was only trying to calm the situation. Some of Sandman’s classmates were seen on video laughing, and one did a tomahawk chop.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s supreme court says it’s throwing out recent congressional measures that found Nicolas Maduro’s presidency illegitimate — with the pro-government justices ruling that leadership of the opposition-dominated congress itself is invalid. The high court magistrates say in a statement issued Monday that Venezuela’s chief prosecutor should determine whether to bring criminal charges against congressional leaders.

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