SOUTH BEND, IND.

Democratic mayor joins

race for White House

Democrat Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., says he's forming an exploratory committee for a 2020 presidential bid.

Buttigieg has touted his work to improve his city of 100,000 residents as he's prepared for a jump from local politics to a presidential campaign. He's also said Democrats could benefit from a new generation of leaders as they try to unseat President Donald Trump in 2020.

Buttigieg is a Rhodes scholar who was first elected mayor of his hometown in 2011 at age 29, making him the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 residents. A lieutenant in the Navy Reserve, he served a tour in Afghanistan in 2014.

 

CARACAS, VENEZUELA

Opposition leader

declares self president

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president in a defiant speech Wednesday before masses of anti-government demonstrators who took to the streets to demand President Nicolas Maduro's removal — a bold move that was immediately recognized by the Trump administration and a growing number of other Western nations.

President Donald Trump called on Maduro to resign and said the U.S. would use the "full weight" of its economic and diplomatic power to push for the restoration of Venezuela's democracy.

Outside the capital, seven demonstrators were killed amid disturbances during protests that rocked several cities.

 

WASHINGTON

Manafort denies lying

during Mueller probe  

President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman on Wednesday denied allegations he lied to investigators after he began cooperating with them.

Lawyers for Paul Manafort submitted a heavily redacted 10-page filing aimed at knocking down claims by special counsel Robert Mueller's office that he intentionally lied and breached his plea agreement.

Manafort's guilty plea to conspiracy charges in September required him to cooperate with prosecutors and tell the truth about what he knew. Months later, prosecutors accused him of repeatedly lying to them.

 

LONDON

Officials warn businesses

to brace for hard Brexit

Businesses in Britain and the European Union need to prepare for the possibility the U.K. will leave the bloc in March without an exit deal, senior British and EU officials warned Wednesday, as a growing number of U.K. firms braced for disruption by stockpiling goods or shifting operations overseas.

Last week, British lawmakers threw out Prime Minister Theresa May's EU divorce deal, and attempts to find a replacement are gridlocked.

"No deal is a possibility," said U.K. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.

 

CEDAR FALLS, IOWA 

Senator denies she

had affair in military

Sen. Joni Ernst on Wednesday denied allegations leveled by her ex-husband that she had an affair with a subordinate while she served in the military.

The Iowa Republican answered questions from reporters about that and other allegations at a town hall event on the University of Northern Iowa campus in Cedar Falls, the Des Moines Register reported.

In the court documents, Ernst's ex-husband, Gail Ernst, accused her of having an affair with one of her soldiers while she was deployed as a company commander. She said Wednesday that the allegation was not true.

Ernst also accused her ex-husband in divorce documents of having an affair and physically assaulting her during an argument before she was elected to the Senate.

 

GALVESTON, TEXAS

Police nab two emus

that escaped from yard

Police in coastal Texas have captured two runaway emus that had been on the lam for a day after escaping from their owner's backyard.

Emus aren't permitted in Galveston, but police say a man recently brought the large, flightless birds to the island after the death of his mother. She'd owned them at her home near Houston.

The Galveston County Daily News reports the emus escaped their new owner's backyard sometime Monday. Police recaptured the birds near an elementary school Tuesday morning.

 

Beacon Journal/Ohio.com wires