WASHINGTON

US planning flight tests 

of long-banned missiles

The Pentagon plans to begin flight tests this year of two types of missiles that have been banned for more than 30 years by a treaty from which both the United States and Russia are expected to withdraw in August, defense officials said Wednesday.

By moving forward with these missile projects, the Pentagon is not excluding the possibility that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty could still survive, although it likely will be terminated in August. At that point, Washington and Moscow would no longer face legal constraints on deploying land-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 310 to 3,410 miles. The INF treaty has been in effect since 1987.

 

LONDON

Lawmakers vote against

Brexit without agreement

In a tentative first step toward ending months of political deadlock, British lawmakers voted Wednesday to block the country from leaving the European Union without a divorce agreement, triggering an attempt to delay that departure, currently due to take place on March 29.

Parliament is scheduled to decide Thursday whether to put the brakes on Brexit, a vote set up after lawmakers dealt yet another defeat to Prime Minister Theresa May amid a crisis over Britain's departure from the EU.

The lawmakers' 321-278 vote has political but not legal force, and does not entirely rule out a chaotic no-deal departure for Britain.

 

CHEYENNE, WYO.

Winter storm cancels

flights, closes roadways

A raging winter storm prompted the cancellation Wednesday of more than 1,000 flights in Denver and closed hundreds of miles of interstate highways in other parts of the West and Upper Midwest.

The storm brought blizzard conditions to parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Warnings extended to North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, where the storm was expected to hit Thursday.

 

LAGOS, NIGERIA 

Crews seek survivors

after building collapses

Emergency crews sifted through debris as night fell on frantic efforts to rescue scores of school children and others feared trapped inside a three-story building that collapsed Wednesday in Nigeria's densely populated commercial capital, Lagos. At least eight people were confirmed dead and 37 others were rescued alive.

Anguished families crowded around the flattened remains of the building, which housed an elementary school, holding out hope that more children would still be found alive in the wreckage.

 

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.

Judge keeps unvaccinated

children out of school

A federal judge, citing an "unprecedented measles outbreak" in suburban Rockland County, N.Y., has denied a request to let 44 unvaccinated children return to school.

Parents of students in the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge have sued the county health department. They say none of the school's excluded children have contracted measles amid the county's outbreak, which started last fall.

 

KINSHASA, CONGO 

New president pardons

700 political prisoners

Congo's new President Felix Tshisekedi on Wednesday pardoned about 700 political prisoners who were jailed under his predecessor.

Tshisekedi signed the decree, fulfilling a promise he made earlier this month to do so during his first 100 days in office.

Among those set for release is Firmin Yangambi, who was sentenced in 2009 to 20 years in prison on charges of being a threat to national security.

 

WASHINGTON

Angry president blasts

fake Melania theories

President Donald Trump is not amused by the #FakeMelania conspiracy theories circulating on social media.

He spun off a new theory on Wednesday to debunk the idea that there's a body double of his wife who steps in for her at times. The "fake news" did it, he claimed without evidence.

Trump alleged on Wednesday in a tweet that photos of his wife had been altered to make them appear as though a look-alike accompanied him to Alabama last week to survey tornado damage. His favorite morning TV program, "Fox & Friends," reported on the body-double theory Wednesday as the show's hosts weighed in on a discussion that aired Monday on ABC's "The View." Hosts of the ABC program debated whether an impostor had traveled with Trump.

 

Beacon Journal/Ohio.com wires