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story.lead_photo.caption Mississippi Democrat Mike Espy says Tuesday that he is using data in his rematch against Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Espy to run again for U.S. Senate seat

JACKSON, Miss. -- Mississippi Democrat Mike Espy announced Tuesday that he's running again for U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith, setting up a 2020 rematch.

"I can and will do a better job for the people of Mississippi and the United States," Espy told supporters by email, after telegraphing the move for months.

Espy is a former U.S. House member and former U.S. agriculture secretary. He lost the November 2018 special election to fill the last two years of retired Republican Sen. Thad Cochran's six-year term.

Hyde-Smith was Mississippi's agriculture commissioner when Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed her to temporarily take Cochran's place in the spring of 2018. She is the first woman to represent Mississippi in Congress.

The 2018 campaign was rocked by a video showing Hyde-Smith praising a supporter by saying she'd attend a "public hanging" if he invited her. She called it an "exaggerated expression of regard."

The comment made Mississippi's history of lynching a central theme in the campaign. Espy mentioned those remarks in his announcement video, emphasizing his path-breaking role as Mississippi's first black congressman since Reconstruction.

FBI reports dip in hate crimes in '18

WASHINGTON -- The number of hate crimes across the United States dipped slightly in 2018 after three consecutive years of increases.

The FBI released its annual hate crimes report on Tuesday. There were 7,120 reported hate crimes in 2018, down from 7,175 in 2017.

The FBI said the figures include 4,571 reported hate crimes against people in 2018, many of them in America's largest cities, involving victims from a wide range of ethnic and religious backgrounds. The report shows 24 people were killed and there were 22 reported rapes identified as hate crimes. The figure for attacks against people included aggravated assaults, which were up 4%; simple assaults, up 15%; and intimidation, up 13%.

The report is compiled by using data submitted by more than 2,000 law enforcement agencies around the U.S.

Religion-based hate crimes decreased by about 8% in 2018, with 835 incidents targeting Jews and Jewish institutions. That's down from 938 incidents in 2017.

The FBI said 485 hate crimes against Hispanics were reported in 2018, up from 430 in 2017, their highest level since 2010. It said 270 crimes were reported against Muslims and Arab Americans, the fewest since 2014.

Woman files suit against Epstein estate

NEW YORK -- A woman who confronted Jeffrey Epstein at a July bail hearing to tell a judge he touched her inappropriately when she was 16 sued his estate Tuesday, claiming he had subjected her to sex trafficking as part of his attacks on young women and girls.

Lawyers for Annie Farmer filed the lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, along with a lawsuit on behalf of her sister, Maria Farmer, and Teresa Helm, an Ohio woman. All three lawsuits seek unspecified damages.

A lawyer for Epstein's estate did not return a message seeking comment.

Epstein was arrested in July on sex trafficking charges alleging he repeatedly assaulted women and teenage girls in the early 2000s at his $77 million Manhattan mansion and at another opulent estate in Palm Beach, Fla. He killed himself in his federal jail cell a month after his arrest.

The Farmers and Helm have all consented in recent months to interviews and photographs by multiple media organizations.

Virginia man pleads guilty to gun charges

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A Virginia man linked to white supremacist organizations pleaded guilty to firearm and drug charges Tuesday, prosecutors said.

In 2017, Andrew Thomasberg, 21, of McLean, Va., bought a semiautomatic rifle for another person, falsely claiming to be the true purchaser, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia said in a statement.

Associated with white supremacist organizations such as Vanguard America and Atomwaffen Division, Thomasberg also possessed at least four firearms while unlawfully using controlled substances, including marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms and opium, the statement said.

On Tuesday, Thomasberg pleaded guilty to making a false statement related to the purchase of a firearm and to possessing firearms while being an unlawful user of or addicted to controlled substances.

Thomasberg faces up to 10 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Photo by AP/Alexandria Sheriff's Office
This photo provided by Alexandria Sheriff's Office shows Andrew Thomasberg. Thomasberg faces a maximum of 20 years in prison following his guilty plea at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va. His sentencing is set for Feb. 28, 2020.

A Section on 11/13/2019

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