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After a day of wrenching testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford — who has accused him of sexual assault in high school — more Americans say they believe Ford's account over Kavanaugh's denials, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Wednesday.

Fall has arrived, which means seasonal scents will start wafting across the United States. Dried leaves in the Northeast. The dusty Santa Ana winds of California. Pumpkin-spice everything at your local hipster hangout.

But residents in the American Southwest probably consider their aroma the best: the intoxicating, eye-watering eau de roasted chile.

Aleigha Sloan can't remember ever drinking a glass of water from the tap at her home.

That is "absolutely dangerous," the 17-year-old says, wrinkling her nose and making a face at the thought.

"You just don't touch that tap water unless absolutely necessary. I mean, like showers and things — you have to do what you have to do. But other than that, no," she says. "I don't know anybody that does."

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Updated 7:04 p.m. ET

President Trump's nominee for the Census Bureau's next director, Steven Dillingham, took one step closer to filling a key leadership post for the 2020 census that's been empty for more than a year.

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The Chicago police officer accused of murdering Laquan McDonald testified yesterday. Jason Van Dyke is accused of shooting the 17-year-old 16 times in what he says was self-defense.

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Just days ago, President Trump said testimony against his Supreme Court nominee was credible. In a political speech last night in Mississippi, the president shifted to mocking Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault but didn't recall every detail.

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The Supreme Court grappled with a difficult death penalty question Tuesday. Does it violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment to execute a convicted murderer who has such severe dementia that he doesn't remember the crime he committed?

Vernon Madison committed a terrible crime. In 1985, after leaving his girlfriend's house, he returned, and shot and killed a police officer who sat outside in his car to provide protection for the woman.

Barbecued pork or fried chicken served with a heaping side of mac and cheese or creamy potato salad, sweet tea and peach cobbler — these Southern classics, loaded with as much history as flavor, have become comfort foods for Americans from all over.

Four men connected to a white supremacist group based in California have been arrested and charged with rioting at last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Two new reports from the Department of Homeland Security's internal watchdog say the agency was unprepared to implement the Trump administration's family separation policy and detail health and safety risks at a California ICE processing facility.

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Updated on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. ET

Wednesday afternoon, at exactly 2:18 p.m. ET, million of Americans received a text headlined "Presidential Alert" on their cellphones.

But it wasn't exactly from President Trump. Rather, it was a test of a new nationwide warning system that a president could use in case of an armed attack by another country, a cyberattack or a widespread natural disaster.

Pope Francis, whose humility and warmth made him highly popular among U.S. Catholics and non-Catholics alike, is now rated no more favorably than his somewhat aloof predecessor, Pope Benedict.

The State Department has reversed course on its visa requirements for same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and the staff of U.S.-based international organizations. On Monday, it implemented a policy denying visas to such partners if they're not legally married.

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The bomb specialists suspected that an Oregon home was booby-trapped. As they entered the front door, they noticed what appeared to be a tripwire. Seconds later, a shot rang out, apparently from a booby-trapped wheelchair. And an FBI bomb special agent was hit in the leg.

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When Brett Kavanaugh sat down before the Senate Judiciary Committee to respond to charges that he had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford, this is some of what he had to say.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Updated at 6:49 p.m. ET

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke took the stand Tuesday to give his teary — and sometimes defensive — testimony about the night he fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in the middle of a busy street on Chicago's Southwest Side.

Van Dyke, 40, faces first-degree murder, aggravated battery and official misconduct charges in the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting death. McDonald's death gained national attention in November 2015 when a judge ordered the city to release a police dashcam video of the white officer shooting the black teen.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday

A massive relief effort is underway in Indonesia, where more than a thousand people are dead and tens of thousands more are displaced on the island of Sulawesi, after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed houses and other buildings last week.

It has taken days for the scale of the devastation to emerge, because the twin disasters crippled communications and damaged roads and airports. Those problems are also complicating efforts to bring aid to the city of Palu and other affected areas.

In Alaska, 'Righteous Rage' Over Sexual Assault

Oct 2, 2018

Editor's note: This story includes graphic details of assault.

The Alaska Department of Law is defending its plea deal with an Anchorage man who was originally charged with kidnapping and assaulting a woman to whom he offered a ride. He was let off on time served, after what many considered a violent, sexually motivated attack.

And that has angered some, including Elizabeth Williams, who is organizing a group to campaign against retaining the judge in the case, Michael Corey.

Everything seemed okay when Elizabeth Coleman went to bed on Sunday, September 16. After evacuating three days prior to escape Hurricane Florence, her family of four and parents-in-law had just returned to their one-level, two-bedroom ranch home on Crusoe Island Road in Whiteville, N.C. It was, thankfully, undamaged.

The family had gone home after evacuating because they believed that the storm had passed and they had heard that the floodwater was receding. They thought it would be safe to return.

By 5 a.m., something was wrong.

In some parts of the country people are learning their drinking water contains pollution from a group of chemicals called Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). These chemicals have been linked to illnesses, including cancer. But a lot of questions remain including how exactly they affect people's health and in what doses.

These chemicals have been around for decades but the issue gained urgency in recent years as water suppliers tested for and found PFAS pollution as part of an Environmental Protection Agency program.

The thought that Donald Trump may have been totally unprepared to become president in November 2016 is one that's not new to those who have been following the day-to-day crises and dramas of the Trump White House closely.

But a case for this argument is revealingly and startlingly made by Michael Lewis in his fascinating — and at times harrowing — new book The Fifth Risk.

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