CARACAS, VENEZUELA (AP) - U.S. VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE HAS URGED CONDEMNATION OF THE REGIME OF VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICOLAS MADURO FOR THE ARREST OF TWO TOP OPPOSITION LEADERS. PENCE SAID WEDNESDAY IN MONTENEGRO THAT THE UNITED STATES WILL "HOLD MADURO PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE HEALTH AND SAFETY" OF LEOPOLDO LOPEZ AND ANTONIO LEDEZMA.

NEW YORK (AP) - A LAWSUIT AGAINST FOX NEWS HAS BEEN FILED BY AN INVESTIGATOR WHO HAD BEEN LOOKING INTO THE KILLING OF SETH RICH, A FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE STAFF MEMBER KILLED IN 2016 IN WHAT POLICE SAY WAS A BOTCHED ROBBERY. THE INVESTIGATOR CLAIMED IN A LAWSUIT FILED TUESDAY THAT FOX NEWS MADE UP QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO HIM SUGGESTING A FORMER DEMOCRATIC OFFICIAL WHO WAS KILLED WAS BEHIND THE LEAKS OF DOCUMENTS BY WIKILEAKS DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.

WASHINGTON (AP) - PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP'S RELATIONSHIP WITH CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS MAY BE ROCKY, BUT HE'S DELIVERING FOR HIS PARTY IN ONE AREA: FUNDRAISING. TRUMP'S FUNDRAISING MUSCLE IS THE ENGINE OF THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE AND A LIFELINE FOR EVERY REPUBLICAN PLANNING TO RELY ON THE PARTY FOR FINANCIAL HELP DURING NEXT YEAR'S CONGRESSIONAL RACES. LEANING HEAVILY ON TRUMP'S APPEAL AMONG SMALL DONORS, THE PARTY HAS RAISED $75 MILLION IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS OF THE YEAR.

BALTIMORE (AP) - IN LIGHT OF A U.S. SUPREME COURT BAN ON MANDATORY LIFE-WITHOUT-PAROLE SENTENCES FOR JUVENILES, LAWYERS ARE TURNING SOME ATTENTION TO A NEW POPULATION OF INMATES: THOSE WHOSE SENTENCES INCLUDE A PAROLE PROVISION BUT WHO STAND LITTLE CHANCE OF GETTING OUT. ONE EXPERT ESTIMATES THAT'S A TOTAL OF 7,300 PRISONERS NATIONWIDE. LEGAL CHALLENGES EMPHASIZE AGE-RELATED FACTORS AND FOCUS ON THE COURT'S FINDING THAT TEENS SHOULD BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE THEY'RE LESS MATURE AND CAPABLE OF CHANGE.

PODGORICA, MONTENEGRO (AP) - VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE SAYS THE FUTURE OF THE BALKANS BELONGS IN THE WEST, REAFFIRMING U.S. COMMITMENT TO THE STILL-TENSE EUROPEAN REGION AMID STRONG RUSSIAN PRESSURE TO ASSERT ITS HISTORICAL INFLUENCE THERE. PENCE WAS SPEAKING IN MONTENEGRO _ A SMALL BALKAN COUNTRY THAT JOINED NATO THIS YEAR DESPITE MOSCOW'S ANGER. IT WAS HIS THIRD AND FINAL STOP IN A EUROPEAN TRIP THAT SAW HIM VOICING SUPPORT FOR NATIONS THREATENED BY RUSSIAN INFLUENCE.

==================================
A FORMER LONG-TIME BOARD MEMBER OF THE PLATTE COUNTY RURAL FIRE DISTRICT ALLEGEDLY EMBEZZLED MORE THAN $237,000 DURING THE LAST FOUR YEARS HE WAS IN OFFICE.

COURT RECORDS SAY DONALD MOEDE ALLEGEDLY WITHDREW ABOUT $165,000 FROM THE FIRE DISTRICT'S BANK ACCOUNT TO PAY FOR CREDIT CARDS, LINES OF CREDIT AT STORES, AND A DIRECT DEPOSIT INTO HIS OWN ACCOUNT.

MOEDE ALSO ALLEGEDLY WROTE $72,100 IN PERSONAL CHECKS TO HIMSELF FROM THE DISTRICT'S BANK ACCOUNT.

TUESDAY, HE HEARD THE CHARGES IN THE 81-COUNT INDICTMENT DURING HIS INITIAL APPEARANCE IN PLATTE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT IN WHEATLAND.

MOEDE DECLINED TO COMMENT TUESDAY EVENING.

THE 81-COUNT INDICTMENT INCLUDES 21 COUNTS OF LARCENY BY BAILEE OR PUBLIC OFFICIAL, AND 60 COUNTS OF THEFT.

MOST COUNTS ARE FELONIES PUNISHABLE BY UP TO 10 YEARS OF IMPRISONMENT.

IF CONVICTED ON ALL COUNTS, MOEDE COULD RECEIVE A SENTENCE OF UP TO 648-AND-A-HALF YEARS OF IMPRISONMENT.

MOEDE IS OUT ON A $250,000 BOND.

COURT DOCUMENTS SAY MOEDE WAS ELECTED ONE OF THE THREE VOLUNTARY BOARD POSITIONS IN 1994 AND LEFT THE BOARD IN DECEMBER 2016.

HE HAD CONTROL OF THE DISTRICT'S FINANCES AT THE PLATTE VALLEY BANK IN WHEATLAND.

IN MAY, THE PLATTE COUNTY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE ASKED THE WYOMING DIVISION OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION TO LOOK DEEPER AFTER A NEWLY ELECTED BOARD MEMBER REPORTED A SUSPECTED THEFT.

THE AGENT LOOKED AT THE DISTRICT'S BANK RECORDS FROM JULY 2012, TO OCTOBER 2016, AND FOUND CREDIT ACCOUNTS OWNED BY MOEDE THAT RECEIVED PAYMENTS FROM THE DISTRICT'S BANK ACCOUNT.

COURT DOCUMENTS DO NOT INDICATE HOW MOEDE SPENT THE MONEY HE ALLEGEDLY STOLE.
=================================
CHEYENNE, WYO. (AP) - AN ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW PANEL IS SENDING PLANS FOR WYOMING'S FIRST MAJOR NEW COAL MINE IN YEARS BACK FOR MORE WORK.

THE WYOMING ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY COUNCIL VOTED 4-1 TUESDAY AGAINST MOVING AHEAD WITH A STATE PERMIT FOR THE PROPOSED BROOK MINE.

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY-BASED RAMACO WANTS TO OPEN THE MINE NEAR SHERIDAN IN NORTHERN WYOMING TO SUPPLY COAL FOR RESEARCH INTO CARBON-BASED MATERIALS.

WYOMING IS THE TOP COAL-PRODUCING STATE BUT RAMACO'S IDEA IS A NEW APPROACH. THE VAST MAJORITY OF WYOMING COAL IS BURNED IN POWER PLANTS.

THE WYOMING DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY HAS DEEMED RAMACO'S MINE PERMIT APPLICATION COMPLETE. COUNCIL MEMBERS HAVE SEVERAL CONCERNS INCLUDING THAT THE MINE COULD LEAVE PEOPLE NEARBY WITHOUT WELL WATER AFTER LOWERING THE WATER TABLE.

RAMACO ATTORNEY JEFFREY POPE DECLINED COMMENT.