WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Senate began hearing opening arguments Wednesday in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial with proceedings now on a fast track. First up: Democratic House managers making their case that Trump abused his presidential power and should be removed from office.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Senate plunged into President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Tuesday with Republicans abruptly abandoning plans to cram opening arguments into two late-night sessions and Democrats arguing for more witnesses to expose Trump’s “trifecta” of offenses.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Senate opened the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump with quiet ceremony Thursday — senators standing at their desks to swear an oath of “impartial justice” as jurors, House prosecutors formally reciting the charges and Chief Justice John Roberts presiding.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and China reached a trade deal Wednesday that eases tensions between the world’s two biggest economies, offers massive export opportunities for U.S. farms and factories, and promises to do more to protect American trade secrets.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Russell Stover Chocolates plans to close some facilities and stores nationwide but the expected loss of about 400 jobs will be offset by new jobs resulting from expansion in other areas, the company announced Tuesday.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Ever since Benedict XVI announced he would become the first pope in 600 years to resign, Catholic theologians, canon lawyers and others warned of the potential confusion in having two popes living side by side in the Vatican, one reigning, the other retired but calling hi…

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WASHINGTON (AP) — After weeks of delay and strategizing, the U.S. House is planning to vote Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate to start the trial on removing him from office.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S. judge ruled Monday that the Trump administration is operating within its authority when separating families stopped at the Mexico border, rejecting arguments that it was quietly returning to widespread practices that drew international condemnation.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will take steps next week to transmit the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, ending a three-week standoff but confronting the Senate with only the third trial in U.S. history to remove a chief executive.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill lashed out at Boeing on Friday after the release of a batch of emails and text messages in which company employees questioned the safety of the now-grounded 737 Max, called the aircraft a “joke” and talked about how they concealed problems from regulators.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is considering dramatically expanding its much-litigated travel ban to additional countries amid a renewed election-year focus on immigration by President Donald Trump, according to six people familiar with the deliberations.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added 145,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.5%, signaling that the job market remains strong at the start of 2020 even if hiring and wage gains have slowed somewhat more than a decade into an economic expansion.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she will "soon'' transmit the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, signaling a potential thaw in the standoff with Senate Republicans as she warned against rushing to an acquittal without a fair trial.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran sent mixed signals Thursday as tensions with the U.S. appeared to ease, with President Hassan Rouhani warning of a “very dangerous response” if the U.S. makes “another mistake” and a senior commander vowing “harsher revenge" for the killing of a top Iranian general.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump faces one of the greatest tests of his presidency after Iran launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. It was Iran's most brazen direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican House members John Ratcliffe and Jim Jordan are being considered for a role on President Donald Trump's defense team for the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, a person familiar with the discussions said Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials on Monday braced for Iran to respond to the killing of its most powerful general, noting heightened military readiness in the country and preparing for a possible “tit-for-tat” attempt on the life of an American military commander.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Obama administration housing chief Julián Castro is endorsing Elizabeth Warren's presidential bid, saying the Massachusetts senator is “the most qualified, best-equipped candidate to win the nomination” and defeat President Donald Trump.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump insists that Iranian cultural sites are fair game for the U.S. military, dismissing concerns within his own administration that doing so could constitute a war crime under international law. He also warned Iraq that he would levy punishing sanctions i…

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Three of the most powerful tribes in Oklahoma filed a federal lawsuit against the state's governor on Tuesday, asking the court to help resolve a dispute over gambling at tribal casinos.

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The Oklahoma State Cowboys look to win their fourth straight bowl game after winning four of their last five games this season to reach a bowl for the 14th straight year.

CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. — Nolan LaValley, blind since birth, does not let his disability keep him from bowling and enjoying a sport he has learned from his high school coach and teammates.

NEW YORK (AP) — Pregnant women, people over the age of 65 and people with weakened immune systems should throw away store-bought hard-boiled eggs because of a food poisoning outbreak linked to a Georgia company, health officials said Thursday.

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has signaled it will file an appeal against its four-year Olympic ban due to World Anti-Doping Agency sanctions which President Vladimir Putin on Thursday branded “unfair.”

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday night, becoming only the third American chief executive to be formally charged under the Constitution’s ultimate remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer than 30 people were executed in the United States and under 50 new death sentences were imposed for the fifth straight year, part of a continuing decline in capital punishment that saw only a few states carry out executions, a new report issued Tuesday said.

WASHINGTON (AP) — House leaders on Monday unveiled a $1.4 trillion government-wide spending package that's carrying an unusually large load of unrelated provisions catching a ride on the last train out of Congress this year.

The message to Boeing Co. from the Federal Aviation Administration was clear: The grounded 737 Max won't get approval to fly again anytime soon. So the company had little choice but to idle the giant factory where the plane is made.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Retired coal miners and longtime opponents of Obama-era taxes on high-cost health plans are eyeing big wins as top congressional leaders and the Trump White House close in on a deal on a government-wide spending bill that's also carrying lots of overdue Washington business.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House will vote on the impeachment of President Donald Trump this week after spending the past three months investigating the president's dealings in Ukraine and deciding whether his behavior was grave enough to qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors.

MADRID (AP) — Marathon U.N. climate talks ended Sunday with a slim compromise that sparked widespread disappointment, after major polluters resisted calls for ramping up efforts to keep global warming at bay and negotiators postponed debate about rules for international carbon markets for an…

THIMISTER-CLERMONT, Belgium (AP) — As a schoolboy three quarters of a century ago, Marcel Schmetz would regularly see open trucks rumble past to a makeshift American cemetery — filled with bodies, some headless, some limbless, blood seeping from the vehicles onto the roads that the U.S. sold…

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WASHINGTON (AP) — As Washington braces for this week's expected vote to impeach President Donald Trump, partisan battle lines hardened on Sunday, with Democrats defending impeachment even if Trump isn't removed from office and Republicans denouncing the integrity of the constitutional process.

OLIVE HILL, Ky. -- It had the trappings of a scene from The Natural. A hand-crafted bat made from scratch for Tim Johnson’s son J.T.’s summer season in the North Carolina North State League, showcase for college baseball players with big league dreams.

It wasn’t “Wonderboy” made for Roy Hobbs from a tree split by lightning. But it lickety-split earned the reputation of whim-wham lumber from J.T.’s Piedmont Whitetails’ teammates, including the winner of the league’s 2019 home run derby.

From there, word of mouth spread so fast that Tim Johnson’s woodworking hobby moved to the early stage of a budding bat production company, making customized and model bats for baseball and softball players of all ages.

Located in the northeast Kentucky hamlet of Olive Hill, the informally named Big Johnson Bat Company includes marketing maven Madison, Johnson’s niece and a softball player at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. She sells Johnson bats like they were hotcakes cooked in pork fat.

“I had to tell her to quit,” said the 54-year-old Johnson. “I couldn’t make them as fast as she sold them.”

With the assistance of his brother Shawn, Johnson fastidiously lathes blank cylindrical billets of ash or maple into sanded, customized bats, each taking three to four hours. Duplicates of non-customized bats take 20 minutes on a duplicator, a machine designed to ensure the legs on a chair are identical.

Customized bats are made to a hitter’s preferred length, weight and sweet spot. A wood-burning pen brands the barrel, then Johnson hand rubs each bat with seven or eight coasts of lacquer, a task performed in the bathroom of the family home because there’s too much humidity and dust in his workshop.

Johnson’s “plant” is his 576-square-foot garage, jammed with various machines, prototypes, raw wood, tool chests and a refrigerator for drinks in one corner. To cross the sawdust blanketed workspace, you carefully set your foot with each step.

Making bats is Johnson’s night job. During the day he’s an administrator for three area vocational schools, meaning he starts his bat-making around 4 p.m. He normally turns out two customized bats before calling it a night, though he’s made as many as five hand-turned bats in one very long night, an experience he doesn’t plan to repeat.

Johnson works on and off during the week, unless “Madison goes back to a selling rampage, then it’ll be every night.”

The Johnson customized bat sells for $125. Madison-designed bats for training, with an enlarged sweet spot, go for $75. One-handed bats cost $50. Johnson also makes long, lightweight fungo bats for hitting practice balls to fielders.

The Johnson brothers learned wood working at a young age, assisting their father, who owned a used furniture store that included refinished antiques. They also played baseball in high school and college before taking up successful high school coaching careers. That background has been helpful in bat production, said Tim Johnson.

“I know what a bat needs to feel like,” he said, “if it needs to be balanced or end-loaded, how thick or thin a handle needs to be, if you need a cupped end, a smaller taper on the barrel or a longer barrel, and what type of wood has the qualities that would be most productive with each particular swing.”

Johnson never thought his bat hobby would go this far. Yet he plans to retire from his school administrator’s position sometime next year, then decide whether to make bats for a living -- with the help of his brother Shawn, son J.T. and niece Madison.

They already have a tee-shirt slogan, “Swinging hard wood.” Now all they need is a natural like Roy Hobbs to popularize the power of the Johnson bat.

Zach Klemme, sports writer for the Ashland, Ky., Daily Independent provided details for this story.  

 

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Judiciary Committee has approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. The charges now go to the full House for an expected vote next week.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A new federal report has found the number of kids who say they have been sexually victimized in juvenile detention centers has dropped across the U.S. compared with past years. But remarkably high rates of sexual abuse persist in 12 facilities stretching from Oregon to Fl…

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Judiciary Committee pressed toward a historic vote Thursday to approve articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Split sharply along party lines, the panel was expected to send the charges to the full House for pre-Christmas action next week.

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