AP News in Brief at 6:04 p.m. EST

Rougher shoving likely in last Democratic debate before Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — New tension between the Democrats' progressive stars threatened to shake up the party's presidential nomination fight Tuesday night in the final debate showdown before primary voting begins.

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Just six candidates gathered in Des Moines, each eager to seize a dose of final-days momentum on national television before Iowa's Feb. 3 caucuses. But a sudden "he-said, she-said" dispute over gender involving two longtime allies, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, loomed over the event.

Specifically, Warren charged publicly on the eve of the debate that Sanders told her during a private 2018 meeting that he didn't think a woman could defeat Trump, a claim tinged with sexism that Sanders vigorously denied. Amid an immediate uproar on the left, there were signs that both candidates wanted to deescalate the situation, yet they were almost certain to be pressed to confront during the debate.

The feuding was likely to expand to include nearly every candidate on stage. Sanders has recently stepped up his attacks on former Vice-President Joe Biden over his past support of the Iraq War, broad free-trade agreements and entitlement reform, among other issues. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has had several strong debates, will be looking for another opportunity as she remains mired in the middle of the pack in polling. Billionaire Tom Steyer will have to answer criticism that he's trying to buy his way to the White House.

And with two surveys showing Pete Buttigieg losing support in Iowa, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, will need a breakout moment to regain strength before the caucuses.

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Can a woman win the presidency? Clash exposes deeper issue

WASHINGTON (AP) — The smouldering political flareup between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders has reignited a debate among Democratic primary voters over a question that has been gnawing at them for more than three years: Can a woman beat President Donald Trump?

Many voters openly support the idea of the first female president but quietly worry that inherent gender biases could make an election victory difficult after Democrat Hillary Clinton's defeat in 2016. The issue has left many struggling with a conundrum over whether advancing the cause of electing a woman to the White House is more important than betting on a male candidate seen as having a better shot of prevailing in 2020.

The question is especially challenging for female candidates, who say that acknowledging their tougher political road could make them seem weak but that ignoring it means refusing to accept reality. Of the six women who entered the 2020 presidential race, only Warren is polling among the top tier. She’s clustered together in many polls with Sanders, a Vermont senator, former Vice-President Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Democratic strategist Adrienne Elrod, a senior adviser to Clinton's 2016 campaign, said Clinton's team entered the race "naively" thinking gender bias wouldn't be an issue in a country that already had elected its first black president and that had an accomplished female candidate who had already been a senator and secretary of state. They quickly learned otherwise.

"A lot of little things added up to, there's still a perception — a misperception — that a woman cannot be elected president," Elrod said.

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Pelosi sets Wednesday votes to send impeachment to Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. House is set to vote Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate for a landmark trial on whether the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are grounds for removal.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the next steps after meeting privately with House Democrats at the Capitol, ending her blockade Tuesday a month after they voted to impeach Trump.

It will be only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history, a serious moment coming amid the backdrop of a politically divided nation and an election year.

"The President and the Senators will be held accountable," Pelosi said in a statement. "The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial."

The Senate is expected to transform into an impeachment court as early as Thursday. The Constitution calls for the chief justice to preside over senators, who serve as jurors, to swear an oath to deliver "impartial justice.'' The House managers will walk the articles across the Capitol in a dramatic procession after the vote.

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EU pressures Iran on atom deal in last-ditch bid to save it

BRUSSELS (AP) — Britain, France and Germany on Tuesday ratcheted up pressure on Iran to stop violating its landmark nuclear deal in a last-ditch effort to resolve their differences through talks while also starting a process that could bring back punishing U.N. sanctions on Tehran.

The three European Union countries are being pressed on one side by U.S. President Donald Trump to abandon the agreement like he did unilaterally in 2018, and on the other side from Iran to provide enough economic incentives for them to roll back their violations.

Now, the Europeans have reluctantly triggered the accord's dispute mechanism to force Iran into discussions, starting the clock on a process that could result in the "snapback" of U.N. and EU sanctions on Iran.

The three nations specifically avoided threatening the sanctions while emphasizing hopes for a negotiated resolution. They held off their announcement until tensions between the U.S. and Iran had calmed down after the Jan. 3 killing of an Iranian general in an American drone strike so their intent would not be misinterpreted.

"Our goal is clear: We want to preserve the accord and come to a diplomatic solution within the agreement," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. "We will tackle this together with all partners in the agreement. We call on Iran to participate constructively in the negotiation process that is now beginning."

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Questions of racism linger as Harry, Meghan step back

LONDON (AP) — When accomplished, glamorous American actress Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in 2018, she was hailed as a breath of fresh air for Britain’s fusty royal family. That honeymoon didn’t last.

Now the couple wants independence, saying the pressure of life as full-time royals is unbearable. And a debate is raging: Did racism drive Meghan away?

When Prince Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, began dating the "Suits" actress — daughter of a white father and African American mother — the media called it a sign that Britain had entered a "post-racial" era in which skin colour and background no longer mattered, even to the royal family.

U.K. Labour Party lawmaker Clive Lewis, who like Meghan has biracial heritage, says the royal rift shows that Britain still has a problem with "structural racism."

"We can see it with Meghan Markle and the way that she’s been treated in the media, we know that this is a reality of the 21st century, still," Lewis told Sky News. "After 400 years of racism you can’t just overturn it overnight."

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Russians hacked company key to Ukraine scandal: researchers

BOSTON (AP) — A U.S. cybersecurity company says Russian military agents have successfully hacked the Ukrainian gas company at the centre of the scandal that led to President Donald Trump's impeachment.

Russian agents launched a phishing campaign in early November to steal the login credentials of employees of Burisma Holdings, the gas company, according to Area 1 Security, a Silicon Valley company that specializes in email security.

Hunter Biden, son of former U.S. vice-president and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, previously served on Burisma's board.

It was not clear what the hackers were looking for or may have obtained, said Area 1's CEO, Oren Falkowitz, who called the findings "incontrovertible" and posted an eight-page report. The timing of the operation raises the possibility that Russian agents could be searching for material damaging to the Bidens or scheming to plant forged data and sow misinformation online.

The House of Representatives impeached Trump in December for abusing the power of his office by enlisting the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden, a political rival, ahead of the 2020 election. A second charge accused Trump of obstructing a congressional investigation into the matter.

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Two popes -- one retired, one reigning -- cause a furor

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Ever since Benedict XVI announced he would become the first pope in 600 years to resign, Catholic theologians, canon lawyers and others warned of the potential confusion in having two popes living side by side in the Vatican, one reigning, the other retired but calling himself "emeritus pope" and still wearing the white cassock of the papacy.

Their worst fears came true this week.

In a saga befitting the Oscar-nominated movie "The Two Popes," Benedict co-wrote a book reaffirming the "necessity" of a celibate priesthood. There was nothing novel with his position, but the book is coming out at the same time Pope Francis is weighing whether to ordain married men in the Amazon because of a priest shortage there.

The implications of Benedict’s intervention were grave, since the issue of priestly celibacy is perhaps the most consequential and controversial decision on the current pope’s agenda. It raised the spectre of a parallel magisterium, or official church teaching, at a time when the church is already polarized between conservatives longing for the orthodox purity of Benedict’s reign and progressives cheering Francis’ liberalizing reforms.

"It’s one thing to publish, as a private citizen, a book about Jesus as Benedict did before he resigned," the Rev. Jean-Francois Chiron, a theologian at the University of Lyon, wrote in the French Catholic daily La Croix. "It’s another thing to take sides in important, current questions facing the universal church."

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Officials: Jet fuel lands on Los Angeles school playground

CUDAHY, Calif. (AP) — Jet fuel dumped by an aircraft returning to Los Angeles International Airport fell onto an elementary school playground where children were playing Tuesday, fire officials said.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department said firefighters assessed 17 children and nine adults who complained of minor injuries and none needed to be taken to a hospital.

There were no evacuation orders for the immediate area.

The Los Angeles Unified School District said in a statement that the incident happened at Park Avenue Elementary just before noon.

"Students and staff were on the playground at the time and may have been sprayed by fuel or inhaled fumes," the district said.

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Prohibition began 100 years ago, and its legacy remains

NEW YORK (AP) — In this era of bottomless mimosas, craft beers and ever-present happy hours, it’s striking to recall that 100 years ago the United States imposed a nationwide ban on the production and sale of all types of alcohol.

The Prohibition Era, which lasted from Jan. 17, 1920, until December 1933, is now viewed as a failed experiment that glamorized illegal drinking, but there are several intriguing parallels in current times.

Americans are consuming more alcohol per capita now than in the time leading up to Prohibition, when alcohol opponents successfully made the case that excessive drinking was ruining family life. More states are also moving to decriminalize marijuana, with legalization backers frequently citing Prohibition's failures. Many of the same speakeasy locations operating in the 1920s are flourishing in a culture that romanticizes the era.

And in a time of heightened racial divisions, Prohibition offers a poignant history lesson on how the restrictions targeted blacks and recent immigrants more harshly than other communities. That treatment eventually propelled many of those marginalized Americans into the Democratic Party, which engineered Prohibition’s repeal.

"Prohibition had a lot of unintended consequences that backfired on the people who worked so hard to establish the law," said Harvard history professor Lisa McGirr, whose 2015 book "The War on Alcohol" examines Prohibition’s political and social repercussions.

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Asians cringe at 'Chinese restaurant syndrome' in dictionary

A social media campaign backed by a Japanese seasonings company is targeting the persistent idea that Chinese food is packed with MSG and can make you sick.

So entrenched is the notion in American culture, it shows up in the dictionary: Merriam-Webster.com lists " Chinese restaurant syndrome " as a real illness that has been around since 1968. But much of the mythology around the idea has been debunked: monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, shows up in many foods from tomatoes to breast milk, and there's no evidence to link it to illness.

"For me, it’s another thing to point to other people and say ‘Look, if you think racism toward Asians doesn’t exist in this country, like here it is,'" said restaurateur Eddie Huang. "I know how white people see us. ‘They’re cool, they’re acceptable, they’re non-threatening. But they’re weird, their food.'"

Huang, a New York City-based chef and author (his memoir inspired the ABC sitcom "Fresh Off the Boat"), and TV's "The Real" co-host Jeannie Mai are launching a social media effort Tuesday with Ajinomoto, the longtime Japanese producer of MSG seasonings. They plan to use the hashtag #RedefineCRS to challenge Merriam-Webster to rewrite the definition.

When reached for comment Tuesday, Merriam-Webster said it had not received complaints before about "Chinese restaurant syndrome" but would reconsider the term.

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