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Associated Press
A highway in south-central Alaska is buried after multiple avalanches, as seen Friday in an Alaska state government photo. That leaves the port town of Valdez isolated by road.
Nation/World

Pipeline town cut off by avalanche

– Highway access to the city at the end of the trans-Alaska pipeline has been cut off indefinitely by avalanches, including one that dammed a river and created a lake up to a half-mile long across the roadway in a 300-foot wide mountain canyon.

State Department of Transportation officials said Monday that the snow slide about 12 miles outside Valdez on the Richardson Highway cannot be cleared until water behind the snow drains. The water in Keystone Canyon is too deep on the upstream side for crews to approach the snow dam. Officials fear that digging from the downstream side could trigger a dangerous surge of water and harm work crews.

Nation

War crime retrial planned

The Marine Corps will retry a sergeant whose murder conviction in a major Iraq war crime case has been overturned twice by military courts in recent years on procedural grounds, a spokesman said Monday.

The military branch determined that the seriousness of the crime warranted a retrial of the case of Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III, who led an eight-man squad accused of kidnapping a retired Iraqi policeman in the village of Hamdania in 2006 and shooting him to death in a ditch, Marine Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Joseph Kloppel said.

Hutchins has been out of prison since 2011 and has served about half of his 11-year sentence.

Teen sets himself on fire

A 16-year-old boy set himself on fire at a suburban Denver high school on Monday in an apparent suicide attempt that left him critically injured, authorities said.

The boy didn’t make any threats before starting the fire in the cafeteria at Standley Lake High School at about 7:15 a.m., Westminster Police Department spokeswoman Cheri Spottke said.

Father gives fetus name

The husband of a pregnant, brain-dead Texas woman who was taken off life support over the weekend named what would have been the couple’s second child before his wife was removed from machines.

Erick Munoz said Monday that he named the 23-week-old fetus Nicole, which was his late wife’s middle name. Munoz said doctors at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth indicated to him that the fetus would likely have been a girl, though his attorneys previously said the fetus suffered from lower body deformation that made it impossible to determine a gender.

World

Progress elusive on Syria

The key issue of a transitional government to replace President Bashar Assad blocked any progress Monday in Syrian peace talks, described by one delegate as “a dialogue of the deaf.”

But even the most modest attempts at confidence-building measures faltered – including humanitarian aid convoys to besieged parts of the central city of Homs and the release of detainees.

Chief U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi somberly declared at the end of the day that he had little to report.

Ukraine president bends

Ukraine’s beleaguered president Monday agreed to scrap harsh anti-protest laws that set off a wave of clashes between protesters and police over the past week, a potentially substantial concession to the opposition that stopped short of meeting all of its demands.

But in a possibly major sticking point, a proposed amnesty for arrested protesters would not be offered unless demonstrators stopped occupying buildings and ended their around-the-clock protests and tent camp on Kiev’s central Independence Square, according to a statement by Justice Minister Elena Lukash on the presidential website.

Christians slain in Nigeria

Suspected Islamic extremists used explosives and heavy guns to attack a village and worshippers during a Christian church service in Nigeria’s northeast, killing at least 99 people and razing hundreds of homes, officials and witnesses said Monday.

The attacks in Borno and Adamawa states resulted in one of the highest death tolls in recent attacks by militants who are defying an 8-month old military state of emergency in three states in northern Nigeria designed to halt an Islamic uprising there.

Mexico accepts vigilantes

Mexico essentially legalized the country’s growing self-defense groups Monday, while also announcing that security forces had captured one of the four top leaders of the Knights Templar drug cartel, which the vigilante groups have been fighting for the last year.

The government said it had reached an agreement with vigilante leaders to incorporate the armed civilian groups into old and largely forgotten quasi-military units called the Rural Defense Corps. Vigilante groups estimate their numbers at 20,000 men under arms.

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