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Senate finally moves to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general

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The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to limit debate on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to become President Barack Obama’s next attorney general in a procedural move intended to end a five-month deadlock that made her wait longer for confirmation than the last seven attorneys general combined.

If confirmed as expected, Lynch would be the first black woman to become the top U.S. law enforcement official.

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She has awaited confirmation since November when Obama, a fellow Harvard Law School graduate, nominated her to replace Eric Holder. He was expected to step aside early next week so Lynch can take over as head of the U.S. Justice Department.

Despite the delay, Lynch was widely seen as less controversial than Holder, who often clashed with Republicans. She has said she aims to smooth relations with Congress.

As attorney general, her earliest tests would likely include handling civil rights cases stemming from deadly altercations between police and unarmed black men in several U.S. cities. The Justice Department has said it will look into bringing civil rights charges over the death of a Baltimore man who died after sustaining a spinal cord injury while in police custody.

Lynch would also inherit major financial cases involving allegations that some of the world’s largest banks manipulated the currency markets and the Libor benchmark interest rate.

Her nomination was backed by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee by a vote of 12-8 on Feb. 26. But her confirmation has languished over an impasse in the Republican-led Senate on an unrelated bill meant to protect human trafficking victims.

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Democrats had balked at an anti-abortion provision included in the human trafficking bill, but that dispute was settled on Tuesday and the bill was approved on Wednesday.

An accomplished career prosecutor, Lynch has twice served as U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, New York, most recently since 2010. Her office there handled more terrorism prosecutions than most other offices in the United States. For two years, she also has led a committee that advised the attorney general on policy.

At a Senate confirmation hearing on Jan. 28, Lynch said that her top priorities would include fighting terrorist threats and cyber crime, and improving relations between law enforcement and minority communities.

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(Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir, Julia Edwards and Richard Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and James Dalgleish)


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World virus cases top 6 million as leaders disagree on pandemic response

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The number of coronavirus cases worldwide topped six million Sunday, with Brazil registering another record surge in daily infections as divisions deepened on how to deal with the pandemic.

Latin American countries are bracing for difficult weeks ahead as the disease spreads rapidly across the region, even as much of the world exits lockdowns that have wrecked economies and stripped millions of their jobs.

In Brazil -- the epicenter of South America's outbreak with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases, lagging only behind the United States -- disagreement among leaders over lockdown measures has hampered efforts to slow the virus as the number of fatalities in the country nears 30,000.

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Curfews and clashes as police brutality protests escalate

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Curfews were imposed on major US cities as clashes over police brutality erupted across America with demonstrators ignoring warnings from President Donald Trump that his government would stop the violent protests "cold."

Minneapolis, the epicenter of the unrest, was gripped by a fifth consecutive night of violence on Saturday with police in riot gear firing tear gas and stun grenades at protesters venting fury at the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, during an arrest in the city on Monday.

Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta were among two dozen cities ordering people to stay indoors overnight as more states called in National Guard soldiers to help control the civil unrest not seen in the United States for years.

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‘Insanity outside the White House’: After Trump stokes tensions, fresh clashes between police and protesters

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As protests against police violence and the killing of George Floyd continued in cities across the U.S. on Saturday, a massive crowd gathered outside President Donald Trump's White House as demonstrators again turned their ire and demands for justice and healing towards the nation's most powerful elected official. After tensions built, clashes erupted between law enforcement and demonstrators.

Tensions flared near the White House. Not sure what triggered it, all I saw was a blast of pepper spray and a sudden sprint backward. There’s a lot more pressure on the police cordon and they’re pulling out gas masks. pic.twitter.com/X4uCQRzPkw

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