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Dirty politics in Dixie: South Carolinians say sleazy reputation’s now unfair

CHARLESTON, S.C. The American presidential race is now being fought in a state so renowned for below-the-belt, tire-iron-to-the-kneecap politics that its most famous political operative wound up writing a death-bed mea culpa.

Welcome to South Carolina.

“We play hardball,” says David Woodard, a campaign veteran who now teaches at Clemson University.

Pope vs. Trump: ‘Not Christian’ to only build border walls

Thrusting himself into the heated American presidential campaign, Pope Francis declared Thursday that Donald Trump is “not Christian” if he wants to address illegal immigration only by building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump fired back ferociously, saying it was “disgraceful” for a religious leader to question a person’s faith.

Hong Kong bookseller ‘removed’ in breach of China treaty

HONG KONG Britain says a missing Hong Kong bookseller was likely abducted to mainland China, calling it a “serious breach” of the treaty under which Beijing took control of the city.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a twice-yearly report on Hong Kong affairs released Thursday that Lee Bo was “involuntarily removed” to the mainland.

Low snow causes havoc again with Iditarod sled dog race

WASILLA, Alaska Another low-snow year in Alaska is playing havoc with the world’s most famous sled dog race.

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race always begins with a ceremonial jaunt a day before the start of the competitive portion.

A lack of snow last year north of Anchorage forced the race from the normal start. This year the problem is in Anchorage.

N. Korea orders military takeover of inter-Korean factories

PAJU, Korea, Republic Of North Korea on Thursday ordered a military takeover of a factory park that had been the last major symbol of co-operation with South Korea, calling Seoul’s earlier suspension of operations at the jointly run facility as punishment for the North’s recent rocket launch a “dangerous declaration of war.”