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

Democratic debate: Fiery exchanges over costs of health care

HOUSTON (AP) — The three leading Democratic presidential candidates clashed over health care, immigration and President Barack Obama's legacy on Thursday in a fierce debate that pitted an aggressive Joe Biden against liberal rivals Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

"This is America," said Biden, his party's early front-runner, before calling Sanders "a socialist." He later declared, "I stand with Barack Obama all eight years, good bad and indifferent."

The top White House hopefuls faced off for the first time alongside seven other candidates who are under increasing pressure to break out of the pack. All assailed Trump without mercy.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker called Trump a racist. Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke called him a white supremacist. And Kamala Harris, a California senator, said Trump's hateful social media messages provided "the ammunition" for recent mass shootings.

"President Trump, you have spent the last two-and-a-half years full time trying to sow hate and vision among us, and that's why we've gotten nothing done," Harris declared.

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AP FACT CHECK: Claims from the Democratic debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ten Democrats seeking the presidency sparred Thursday night in a sprawling debate that put all qualifying contenders on the same stage for the first time.

Here's a look at how some of their claims from Houston stack up with the facts:

JOE BIDEN: "We didn't lock people up in cages, we didn't separate families."

THE FACTS: His comment about cages is wrong.

The "cages" — chain-link enclosures inside border facilities where migrants have been temporarily housed, separated by sex and age — were built and used by the Obama administration. The Trump administration has been using the same facilities as the Obama administration.

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Key takeaways from the Democratic candidates' debate

HOUSTON (AP) — Democratic debate night No. 3: Attacks and counter-attacks. Love for one former president, loathing for the current one. A 76-year-old front-runner essentially got called old, and he turned around and called another rival a "socialist."

But will it change the fundamentals of a nominating fight that remains remarkably stable at the top with five months until voting begins? Here's a look at some takeaways and potential answers:

STATUS QUO PREVAILED

The third Democratic debate seemed to end in a 10-way tie.

Former Vice President Joe Biden was sure-footed (until the end), at least for him and compared with the previous two debates. There were more attacks on President Donald Trump than on each other. No one dominated.

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In Alaskan hometown, Native women say police ignored rapes

NOME, Alaska (AP) — There's not much that scares Susie. As an Alaska Native woman, she thrives amid sub-zero winters in her village near the Arctic Circle, and camps with her family each summer at the Bering Sea, catching, drying and smoking salmon to put away for winter.

But Susie is afraid to return to Nome. The man who raped her, she says, is still there.

"Just scares me, and I'm scared to see him, and thinking what he might do," she says. "But I'm not scared in the village, or any other villages, because I know he won't come.

"But Nome is like ... I don't really like to overnight in Nome."

He is a free man — no charges were filed against him. Susie reported to Nome police that she had been assaulted and went with the investigating officer to the hospital, where a forensic nurse was prepared to perform a sexual assault exam.

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Chaotic talks show challenge of reaching opioid settlement

For months, the judge overseeing national litigation over the opioids crisis urged all sides to reach a settlement that could end thousands of lawsuits filed by state and local governments.

But the chaotic developments this week in the case against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma underscore how difficult that goal is. By Thursday, half of the nation's state attorneys general said they would reject a tentative deal crafted by the other half, and many criticized the terms as grossly insufficient.

Purdue and the Sackler family that owns it "will never be able to undo all the damage they have done," Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, said in a statement, "but at the very least, they must face real, significant, personal accountability for their lies and for the pain and heartbreak they have caused."

Herring and other attorneys general opposed to the terms say the amount of money involved will be far less than the $10 billion to $12 billion promised by Purdue and the Sacklers. They want the family to pay more from their vast fortune, much of which has been shifted overseas , and say the current settlement terms allow the relatives to walk away without acknowledging their role in a crisis that has killed 400,000 Americans over the past two decades.

"This epidemic has affected everybody in our state," Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, another Democrat, said Thursday in a statement. "Irrespective of Purdue's actions or evasions, we will continue to pursue justice on behalf of those harmed by the Sacklers' greed, callousness and fraud."

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Trump administration drops Obama-era water protection rule

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Trump administration on Thursday revoked an Obama-era regulation that shielded many U.S. wetlands and streams from pollution but was opposed by developers and farmers who said it hurt economic development and infringed on property rights.

Environmental groups criticized the administration's action, the latest in a series of moves to roll back environmental protections put into place under President Barack Obama.

The 2015 Waters of the United States rule defined the waterways subject to federal regulation. Scrapping it "puts an end to an egregious power grab, eliminates an ongoing patchwork of clean water regulations and restores a longstanding and familiar regulatory framework," Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler said at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

Wheeler and R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, signed a document overturning the rule and temporarily restoring an earlier regulatory system that emerged after a 2006 ruling from a sharply divided Supreme Court.

The agencies plan to adopt a new rule by the end of the year that is expected to define protected waterways more narrowly than the Obama policy.

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Trump mocks Democrats, vows new tax cut in trip to Baltimore

BALTIMORE (AP) — President Donald Trump sought to boost the spirits of Republican lawmakers Thursday, mocking Democrats and promising a new tax cut package, as he returned to the city he recently disparaged as a "rat and rodent infested mess."

Trump spoke to House Republicans attending an annual retreat in a hotel on Baltimore's waterfront. Protesters gathered nearby. But inside, the president found a friendly audience of legislators whose political futures are closely tied to how well he performs in next year's election. They greeted him with a chant of "four more years."

Trump obliquely addressed his earlier insults against Baltimore, promising Republicans would "fight for the future of cities like Baltimore that have been destroyed by decades of failed and corrupt rule."

He said crushing regulations, crippling taxes and "unrestricted migration" have undermined law enforcement and devastated America's inner cities. "We're going to have to step up and doing something about it because we can't allow that to happen to our great cities," he said.

Trump had lashed out at Baltimore in a series of July tweets critical of Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, who represents the city's majority-black 7th Congressional District. Cummings also chairs the House oversight panel conducting numerous investigations of the administration's policies and work.

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Trump administration puts tough new asylum rule into effect

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — A new level of despair spread among tens of thousands of migrants waiting on the Mexican border to seek refuge in the U.S. as the Trump administration began enforcing radical new restrictions Thursday on who qualifies for asylum.

"The United States is the only option," Dunea Romero, a 31-year-old Honduran, lamented with tears in her eyes at a shelter in Tijuana. She said she packed a bag and fled her homeland with her two boys, ages 7 and 11, after learning that her abusive ex-husband, a powerful gang leader, was going to have her killed.

The new U.S. policy would effectively deny asylum to nearly all migrants arriving at the southern border who aren't from Mexico. It would disallow anyone who passes through another country without first seeking and failing to obtain asylum there.

The rule will fall most heavily on Central Americans, mainly Hondurans and Guatemalans, because they account for most people arrested or stopped at the border.

But it also represents an enormous setback for other asylum seekers, including large numbers of Africans, Haitians and Cubans who try to enter the United States by way of the Mexican border.

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What a Purdue Pharma bankruptcy means for the Sackler family

Purdue Pharma could be heading for bankruptcy but the extent to which it would affect the Sackler family fortunes remains unclear.

The company, which makes OxyContin and other drugs, this week reached a tentative agreement with thousands of local governments and more than 20 states over its role in the opioid crisis that has contributed to the death of thousands of Americans.

As part of that deal, the company would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the Sacklers would lose control of the business and the family could pay up to $4.5 billion. But some states are refusing to sign on, saying it doesn't do enough to hold the Sacklers and their company accountable.

The legal battle will play out in court over time, but here's what we know now:

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Crew was asleep when fatal boat fire ignited, officials say

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California scuba dive boat was operating in violation of Coast Guard regulations when crew members were sleeping and a pre-dawn fire killed 34 people, leaving grieving families wondering if a required night watchman could have saved their loved ones.

Thursday brought a disclosure from the National Transportation Safety Board that all six crew members were asleep aboard the Conception on Sept. 2 when the deadly blaze broke out.

The NTSB's findings could aid federal authorities conducting a criminal investigation into the fire, who could bring charges under a statute known as seaman's manslaughter. The law was enacted during the 19th century to punish negligent captains, engineers and pilots for deadly steamboat accidents that killed thousands.

Five crew members, including the captain, were asleep on the vessel's second deck and survived. The sixth, a 26-year-old deckhand named Allie Kurtz , was sleeping below and perished with the boat's 33 passengers.

Kurtz's grandmother, Doris Lapporte, said she was too distraught Thursday to comment on the NTSB's findings, issued days before the family planned to scatter her granddaughter's ashes at sea.

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