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Riot police move on protest camp in Kiev; 18 dead

KIEV, Ukraine - Amid cries of "Glory to Ukraine!" and with flaming tires lighting up the night sky, thousands of riot police armed with stun grenades and water cannons attacked the sprawling protest camp in the center of Kiev on Tuesday, following a day of street battles that left 18 people dead and hundreds injured.

The violence was the deadliest in nearly three months of anti-government protests that have paralyzed Ukraine's capital in a struggle over the nation's identity, and the worst in the country's post-Soviet history

With the boom of exploding stun grenades and fireworks nearly drowning out his words at times, opposition leader Vitali Klitschko urged the 20,000 protesters to defend the camp on Independence Square that has been the heart of the protests.

"We will not go anywhere from here," Klitschko told the crowd, speaking from a stage in the square as tents and tires burned around him, releasing huge plumes of smoke. "This is an island of freedom and we will defend it," he said.

Many heeded his call.

Democrats, Obama at odds over trade deals

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama wants to put major emerging trade deals with Europe and Asia on a "fast track" to congressional passage. But with midterm elections looming, many fellow Democrats are working to sidetrack them instead.

At the same time, Obama has found an ally in a traditional foe, Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

If ratified, the proposals - the Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific Trade and Investment Partnerships - would create the largest free-trade zone in the world, covering roughly half of all global trade.

In his State of the Union address, Obama asked Congress to give him "trade promotion authority," usually known as fast track, to negotiate the twin trade deals. But the separate negotiations with the European Union and 11 Pacific Rim nations are generating strong emotions at home and abroad.

Many Democrats up for re-election in November are fearful of drawing primary-election opposition over the trade talks. Concerned about lost jobs that are important to labor unions, they're abandoning Obama on this issue.

Feds to approve help for nuclear power plant

WASHINGTON - The Energy Department is poised to approve $6.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for the first nuclear power plant built from scratch in this country in more than three decades.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was expected to announce final approval of the deal at a speech on Wednesday, a day before he visits the $14 billion Vogtle nuclear plant now under construction in eastern Georgia.

Three government officials familiar with the deal confirmed its details Tuesday. They asked not to be identified because the deal has not been made public.

Atlanta-based Southern Co. is building the plant with several partners about 30 miles southeast of Augusta, Ga. The project is widely considered a major test of whether the industry can build nuclear plants without the endemic delays and cost overruns that plagued earlier rounds of building in the 1970s. Vogtle was originally estimated to cost around $14 billion, but government monitors have warned the final cost is likely to be higher.

The Energy Department tentatively approved an $8.3 billion loan guarantee for the project in 2010 as part of President Barack Obama's pledge to expand nuclear power and other energy sources.

Florida music shooting suspect feels like victim

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Florida software designer accused of killing a black teenager during an argument over loud music compared himself to a rape victim, telling his fiancee in a recorded jailhouse phone call that the police were trying to blame him for the shooting when he was only defending himself.

In a series of taped phone calls and jailhouse visits released Tuesday by prosecutors, Michael Dunn also expressed surprise at the media attention his November 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis outside a Jacksonville convenience store had drawn and expressed confidence that he would be exonerated once a jury heard all the facts.

Dunn, 47, was convicted Saturday of three counts of attempted second-degree murder for shooting at three of Davis' friends who were all inside an SUV, but the jury hung on a first-degree murder charge for Davis' death. Dunn, who is white, has argued that he fired at Davis after the teen threatened him and raised a shotgun or something that looked like one after he asked the teens to turn down their rap music. No shotgun was found in the SUV.

Dunn is facing 60 years in prison when sentenced and State Attorney Angela Corey says she will retry him on the murder charge, which carries a potential life sentence. A phone message left for Dunn's attorney, Cory Strolla, was not immediately returned.

In a December 2012 phone call with his fiancee, Rhonda Rouer, Dunn compares himself to a rape victim, saying the detectives wanted to blame him for the shooting, not Davis and his friends. Inmates at the Duval County Jail are warned that all phone conversations and visits will be recorded and can be shared with prosecutors except for those with their attorneys.

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