Putin: Criticism of Russia protest arrests is 'interference'

MOSCOW (AP) -- In the wake of Russia's largest outbreak of anti-government demonstrations in years, President Vladimir Putin on Thursday indicated authorities won't be cowed by protesters or Western criticism. Police arrested hundreds of people Sunday in scores of unsanctioned protest rallies against government corruption that took place across the country, a striking wave of defiance by an opposition that in recent years had appeared marginal and feckless.

The Latest: Senator says Russia undermined trust in media

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on the Senate intelligence committee's hearing on Russian interference in last year's presidential election (all times local): 10:40 a.m. Sen. Mark Warner is alleging that Russia continually sought to undermine American trust in the U.S. media. Speaking at a congressional hearing on Russian meddling in the presidential election on Thursday, Warner calls the tactic Russian propaganda "on steroids.

Putin ready to meet Trump in Finland if it hosts summit

MOSCOW (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin says he is ready to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump if Finland hosts an Arctic summit. Putin and Finland's president, Sauli Niinisto, both expressed openness for such a meeting when they spoke at an Arctic forum in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk Thursday.

Amid US' Afghanistan uncertainty, Russia resurrects interest

WASHINGTON (AP) -- As America's 16-year war in Afghanistan drags on, Russia is resurrecting its own interest in the "graveyard of empires." The jockeying includes engaging the Taliban and leading a new diplomatic effort to tackle Afghanistan's future, all while Washington leaves the world guessing on its strategy for ending the conflict.

Senate hearing to focus on Russian disinformation tactics

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some tactics Russia used to meddle in last year's presidential election would give shivers to anyone who believes in American democracy, the Senate intelligence committee's top Democrat says. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia spoke ahead of a committee session Thursday that will address how the Kremlin allegedly uses technology to spread disinformation in the U.S. and Europe. Warner and the panel's chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

Mosul shows difficulty of removing militants from urban area

BAGHDAD (AP) -- As the fight for the Iraqi city of Mosul drags on, many might ask: Why has it taken the combined militaries of the United States and Iraq backed by an international coalition more than two years to dislodge a relatively small force of militants lacking heavy weaponry? Donald Trump raised the question during his campaign, promising to turn up the heat against the Islamic State group if he became president.

Senate intel leaders pledge Russia probe cooperation

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pledging cooperation, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee said Wednesday they would steer clear of politics in their panel's probe of Russian interference in last year's election. They made a point of putting themselves at arm's length from the House investigation marked by partisanship and disputes.

Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad: ___ March 29 The Telegraph, UK, on Britain formally beginning the process to leave the European Union: This is a historic day for Britain. Today, a UK government triggers Article 50 and begins the process of Brexit. And so the country enters a period of negotiation that, early signs suggest, will be tough, even acrimonious. But the goal is worth some hard work.

Putin critic says he narrowly escaped death after poisoning

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Russian opposition leader critical of President Vladimir Putin says he narrowly escaped death after being poisoned with a substance his doctors still haven't been able to identify. Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. says his survival shows there are "near misses" in the Russian government's campaign to silence its political opponents. He says the official diagnosis was toxic action by an undefined substance.

The Latest: Senate intel panel working on Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on congressional maneuvering around investigations into Russian meddling into United States politics (all times local): 3:23 p.m. The Senate intelligence committee chairman says his panel's "challenge" is to answer for Americans whether President Donald Trump was directly involved in Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., called the investigation the biggest he's seen since he was elected to Congress.

In Russia's once-quiet provinces, young people lead protest

TAMBOV, Russia (AP) -- The city of Tambov in southern Russia is one of those sleepy, provincial centers that have in the past been the heartland of support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Not anymore. "Corruption is the root of all problems," says Maria Nizhivenko, a 20-year old coffee shop employee who was detained by police as she took part in a demonstration in the city Sunday.

Syrian experts visit critical dam spillway near main IS base

BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian engineers and Red Crescent officials on Wednesday visited a spillway of a key dam west of the Islamic State group's stronghold of Raqqa, opening the gates and relieving pressure, according to the aid organization and Syrian Kurdish media. The visit followed concerns that the Tabqa Dam is threatened, endangering the surrounding area that has become a battleground as U.S.-backed forces push toward Raqqa, the IS group's self-proclaimed capital.

AP FACT CHECK: Spicer says case closed on Russia. It's not

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The question of collusion between Russian interests and Donald Trump's campaign is far from answered, despite repeated assertions by the president's spokesman that it's case closed. Sean Spicer angrily dismissed inquiries about the matter Tuesday, declaring that "every single person who's been briefed on this, as I've said ad nauseam from this podium .

Kushner, taking new White House role, faces rare scrutiny

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jared Kushner has been a power player able to avoid much of the harsh scrutiny that comes with working in the White House. But this week he's found that even the president's son-in-law takes his turn in the spotlight. In a matter of days, Kushner, a senior Trump adviser, drew headlines for leaving Washington for a ski vacation while a signature campaign promise fell apart.

Brazil 1st to qualify for World Cup, Argentina in danger

SAO PAULO (AP) -- A resurgent Brazil squad under new management became the first team to qualify for the World Cup on Tuesday, the same day archrival Argentina heightened its risk of missing a spot at Russia 2018. The five-time World Cup champions had a 3-0 victory over seventh-place Paraguay in Sao Paulo, moving to 33 points from 14 matches in South American qualifying.

Dempsey, Pulisic star again as US ties 1-1 at Panama

PANAMA CITY (AP) -- Christian Pulisic was sent tumbling to the ground early on. The 18-year-old phenom bounced back up, and so did the United States. Pulisic made an outstanding individual move to spin a defender and feed Clint Dempsey for his 56th international goal, and the Americans hung on for an important 1-1 draw against Panama on Tuesday night that kept up their rebound in World Cup qualifying.

Sean Spicer tells reporter to 'stop shaking your head'

NEW YORK (AP) -- White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a reporter to "stop shaking your head" during an exchange at his daily press briefing Tuesday. Spicer appeared annoyed by April Ryan, Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, when she asked what President Trump's administration would do to revamp its image following reports of its ties to Russia. Spicer objected to the premise, saying: "I appreciate your agenda here.

AP FACT CHECK: Spicer says case closed on Russia. It's not

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The question of collusion between Russian interests and Donald Trump's campaign is far from answered, despite repeated assertions by the president's spokesman that it's case closed. Sean Spicer angrily dismissed inquiries about the matter Tuesday, declaring that "every single person who's been briefed on this, as I've said ad nauseam from this podium .