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Suspect in Pennsylvania hospital shooting charged with murder

- A man suspected of opening fire in a Philadelphia-area hospital and shooting dead a case worker before exchanging gunshots with a doctor has been charged with murder, prosecutors said on Sunday.

Dozens of ill Keith Urban fans treated at concert near Boston

BOSTON - Forty-six music fans were treated for mostly alcohol-related medical problems at Australian country singer Keith Urban's concert outside Boston on Saturday night, local officials said.

Tentative agreement reached on U.S. veterans' funding bill

WASHINGTON - A tentative agreement has been reached by the chairmen of the U.S. Senate and House veterans committees on legislation aimed at resolving the Veterans Affairs healthcare crisis, their spokesmen said on Sunday.

Family of five found shot dead in Maine home: police

BOSTON - Five members of a family, including three children, were found shot dead at their southern Maine home on Sunday, with a gun located near one of the bodies and no outside involvement suspected, a police spokesman said.

One dead after lightning strikes crowd at California beach

- One man died and at least eight people were injured on Sunday in a lightning strike during a rare thunderstorm at Venice Beach in Los Angeles, officials said.

Man killed, daughter hurt in Florida beach plane crash

- A man was killed and his daughter injured on Sunday when a small plane crash-landed on a Florida beach, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said.

Tanker carrying Iraqi Kurdish oil anchored off Texas port

HOUSTON - A tanker carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan was anchored near the Port of Galveston, Texas, and must undergo a routine safety inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday before it can unload its cargo, an official said.

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement park ride

- A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion, injuring them, a park spokesman said on Sunday.

New York Times Square Spider-Man charged with punching police officer

- A street performer dressed as Spider-Man in New York City's Times Square was arrested after punching a police officer who scolded him for demanding more money from a couple he had posed with for a picture, police said on Sunday.

Gary, Indiana, begins knocking down eyesore high-rise hotel

CHICAGO - The demolition of the tallest, ugliest building in Gary, Indiana - an abandoned 14-story hotel which has been a prominent symbol of decay in this troubled steel town - began on Saturday, said city spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington.

New York Times backs sending federal marijuana ban up in smoke

- The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea as it compared the U.S. government's stance on America's most widely used illicit drug to the prohibition on alcohol from 1920 to 1933.

U.S. doctor contracts Ebola in Liberia

DAKAR - A 33-year-old American doctor working for a relief organization in Liberia's capital has tested positive for the tropical disease Ebola, according to a statement from Samaritan's Purse.

California wildfire near Sacramento forces hundreds to flee

- A wildfire forced the evacuation of more than 500 homes and about 1,200 residents in a rural area east of the California state capital Sacramento on Saturday, a day after the blaze broke out, fire officials said.

Federal judge rules DC ban on handguns unconstitutional

WASHINGTON - A federal judge on Saturday overturned Washington D.C.'s ban on carrying handguns outside the home, saying it was unconstitutional.

Two guns found at home of accused Philadelphia hospital shooter

- Two additional guns have been found at the home of the man accused of opening fire this week inside a Philadelphia-area hospital, shooting dead a case worker and exchanging gunshots with a doctor, officials said on Saturday.

Pool, phones, yoga: world intrudes on Amish now home in Ohio after prison

BERGHOLZ Ohio - Amish farmer Raymond Miller developed a taste for Mountain Dew soda, got his GED, and wonders if he should get a pool table after learning to play in prison.

Gary, Indiana, to knock down eyesore high-rise hotel

CHICAGO - The demolition of the tallest, ugliest building in Gary, Indiana - an abandoned 14-story hotel which has been a prominent symbol of decay in this troubled steel town - will begin on Saturday.

Widow of NYC man who died in police custody says he was not violent

NEW YORK - The family of a man who died after being put in a choke hold by a New York City police officer remembered him on Saturday as being peaceful but constantly harassed by law enforcement.

FBI found bomb-making cache in Tucson rampage gunman's home: LA Times

- Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people and shot former Arizona lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords in a 2011 rampage, kept bomb-making components in a safe in his bedroom, the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.

Wildfire managers tap military for aid in U.S. West

SALMON Idaho - Wildfire managers have turned to the U.S. Department of Defense for immediate access to two military C-130 aircraft retrofitted to carry retardant, boosting their forces to face the largest blaze in Washington state history.

State judge strikes down Florida's gay marriage ban, stays ruling

MIAMI - A state judge struck down Florida's gay marriage ban on Friday in the latest in a string of legal gay-rights victories that have nonetheless been put on hold for resolution by higher courts.

California burglary suspect may face murder charge in shooting by homeowner

LOS ANGELES - A Southern California burglary suspect faces possible murder charges in the fatal shooting of his alleged accomplice, even though she was gunned down by the elderly man they had just robbed as she pleaded she was pregnant, police said Friday.Ed Winter, assistant chief of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, said on Friday that an autopsy had determined that the woman, Andrea Miller, 28, was not pregnant at the time of her death.

Alaska quake knocks out some communication, does little damage

JUNEAU Alaska - An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 struck the coast of Alaska early on Friday, shaking people awake in the capital Juneau and cutting off some communications in the southeast part of the state, officials said.

Lead-lined glove tied to New Mexico radiation leak: lawmaker

- A radiation leak that indefinitely shut down a nuclear waste dump in New Mexico was likely caused by a container of radioactive materials improperly packaged with a lead-lined glove at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a state lawmaker said on Friday.

Texas rolls out security surge for its border with Mexico

DALLAS - Texas has launched a law enforcement surge to crack down on drug and human trafficking from Mexico in a move that comes as the state is about to deploy as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the border, officials said on Friday.

Former WWE champ nabs suspected burglar in Arizona

PHOENIX - A hapless burglar in Arizona learned a hard lesson when he broke into the Phoenix home of former World Wrestling Entertainment heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan, police said on Friday.

Suspended California lawmaker Leland Yee faces new conspiracy charges

LOS ANGELES - A federal grand jury has returned conspiracy charges against California State Senator Leland Yee, adding to the suspended lawmaker's legal woes after he was indicted earlier this year for corruption and taking part in a scheme to traffic guns.

Alaska Supreme Court says same-sex couples entitled to death benefits

JUNEAU Alaska - Same-sex couples in Alaska should be eligible to receive death benefits when a partner dies despite a state ban on gay marriage, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled on Friday in its second decision in four months to favor granting benefits to gay couples.

U.S. fighter jets escort Canadian plane home over passenger threat

- Two U.S. F16 fighter jets were scrambled to escort a Panama City-bound flight from Canada back to Toronto on Friday after a man on the plane apparently threatened to blow up the aircraft, authorities said.

Former WWE champ nabs suspected burglar in Arizona

PHOENIX - A hapless burglar in Arizona learned a hard lesson when he broke into the Phoenix home of former World Wrestling Entertainment heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan, police said on Friday.

Gunman in fatal Philadelphia-area hospital shooting had 39 more bullets

MEDIA Pa. - The accused gunman in a fatal shooting at a Philadelphia-area hospital opened fire after arguing about signs prohibiting guns at his psychiatrist's office and had a cache of 39 more bullets when he was tackled by two men, a prosecutor said on Friday.

Canadian plane escorted by U.S. F-16s after passenger threat

TORONTO - A Canadian charter plane bound for Panama was escorted by U.S. fighter jets back to Toronto, where a passenger was removed by police after allegedly threatening the safety of the flight, police said on Friday.

Accused accomplice of California burglar shot dead may face murder charge

LOS ANGELES - A Southern California burglary suspect faces possible murder charges in the fatal shooting of his accused accomplice even though she was actually gunned down by the elderly man they had just robbed as she pleaded she was pregnant, police said on Friday.

U.S. appeals court backs Florida law in 'Docs v. Glocks' case

- A U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday in favor of a Florida law that bars doctors from asking patients about gun ownership, overturning a decision in the so-called "Docs v. Glocks" case by a lower court that had struck it down.

New Hampshire town gripped by mystery of girl's disappearance

CONWAY N.H. - Elation over the sudden return of a teenager who went missing for nine months from a small town in New Hampshire's White Mountains is giving way to critical questions from residents about why and how she had vanished.

Jury in defamation case by Jesse Ventura to reconvene next week

ST PAUL Minn. - The jury in the defamation lawsuit brought by former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler Jesse Ventura will reconvene next week after it adjourned on Friday without reaching a verdict following four days of deliberations.

State judge strikes down Florida's gay marriage ban, stays ruling

MIAMI - A state judge in Florida on Friday struck down the state's prohibition on same-sex marriages, saying it violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, but immediately stayed the ruling pending appeal.

NYC fare beater pleads guilty, faces 25 years, in police shooting

NEW YORK - A man who shot a New York City police officer trying to apprehend him for not paying the fare on a city bus faces 25 years in prison under a plea deal reached on Friday, prosecutors said.

One Kuwaiti inmate to stay at Guantanamo, second goes home: panel

WASHINGTON - A Kuwaiti man with links to al Qaeda will remain at the Guantanamo Bay prison, while a second is cleared for transfer home, a U.S. national security panel said on Friday.

Chinese grad student found beaten to death near USC campus

LOS ANGELES - A Chinese graduate student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles has been found dead in his off-campus apartment after being assaulted late at night on his way home, police and university officials said.

Colorado deputies end dramatic crime spree captured on camera

DENVER - Sheriff's deputies in Colorado ended a two-hour crime spree by a couple suspected of carjacking when a lone officer tackled a gun-toting man following a dramatic pursuit that was caught on camera.

Kansas man arrested after baby girl dies in hot car

- A foster parent for a 10-month-old Kansas girl who died after being left in a car in sweltering heat for more than two hours has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated child endangerment, police said on Friday.

Two children killed, three people injured in Philadelphia carjacking

- Two children were killed and three people were critically injured on Friday when a hijacked vehicle went out of control at a North Philadelphia intersection and struck people standing on a sidewalk, police said.

Task force to investigate Ohio State band's 'sexualized culture'

CLEVELAND - An independent task force will look into culture and sex discrimination in the running of Ohio State University's famous marching band after its director was fired for failing to address alleged sexual harassment of its members, the university said on Friday.

Frenchman gets two years in U.S. prison for role in Guinea mine scandal

- A former adviser to mining giant BSG Resources was sentenced in New York federal court on Friday to two years in prison for obstructing a criminal probe in connection with a bribery investigation in Guinea.

Former Bear Stearns chairman Greenberg dead at 86

NEW YORK - Alan "Ace" Greenberg, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Bear Stearns Cos Inc, died on Friday at the age of 86 after a bout with cancer.

Dallas politician charged by FBI with taking bribes

AUSTIN Texas - Dallas County Commissioner and outspoken minority rights community leader John Wiley Price was arrested on Friday by the Federal Bureau of Investigations on graft charges that included taking bribes.

Car plows into Maryland restaurant, seven hurt: police

- A car plowed into a lunchtime crowd outside a Baltimore barbecue restaurant on Friday, injuring seven people, police said.

Troubled U.S. executions raise questions about doctors in death chamber

AUSTIN Texas - Troubled lethal injections in Oklahoma and Arizona have raised questions whether medical personnel are skilled enough to humanely put an inmate to death, and if things go wrong, expert enough to revive one if an order is given.

Ambac says has final deal with bankrupt Detroit over bonds

- Ambac Assurance Corp said on Friday its final settlement in Detroit's bankruptcy case over the treatment of limited-tax general obligation bonds that it insured for the city would result in a 34 percent recovery, plus another possible 19 percent from a litigation reserve.

Dallas man exonerated for rape after being cleared by DNA tests

DALLAS - A 57-year-old Texas man who spent 12 years in prison for rape was exonerated on Friday, with legal experts saying his case marked the first time someone has been cleared of a crime by DNA testing that was not requested by the convicted person.

Ride-sharing service Lyft reaches deal to allow New York City launch

NEW YORK - Lyft Inc has signed an agreement with New York authorities that will allow the ride-sharing service to launch in New York City with commercial drivers, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Friday.

Widow of NY man who died in police custody seeks federal probe

NEW YORK - The widow and other relatives of Eric Garner, who died last week soon after a New York police officer put him in a choke hold, met with federal prosecutors on Friday to ask for a civil-rights investigation.

White House aide says Republicans might try for Obama impeachment

WASHINGTON - A top White House adviser said on Friday Republicans might try to impeach President Barack Obama over his go-it-alone immigration strategy, as Obama prepared to talk about the U.S. border crisis with Central American presidents.

House report blasts Eisenhower Memorial as 'five-star folly,' cites costs

WASHINGTON - The troubled Eisenhower Memorial designed by celebrity architect Frank Gehry is a "five-star folly" plagued by rising costs, construction delays and design problems, congressional investigators said on Friday.

Massachusetts judge won't toss murder charge against ex-NFL player

BOSTON - A Massachusetts judge refused to toss out murder and firearms charges against ex-New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez in last summer's killing of a semi-professional soccer player.

Thousands rally in Massachusetts for return of ousted Market Basket CEO

TEWKSBURY Mass. - Thousands of people joined a rally on Friday calling for family-owned New England supermarket chain Market Basket to reinstate its former chief executive.

Landlords say San Francisco anti-eviction law unconstitutional

SAN FRANCISCO - (This story corrects to show family lives in duplex but wants to take possession of entire building in paragraph four)

Kansas top court overturns death sentences in 'Wichita Massacre'

CHICAGO - The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday overturned death sentences for two brothers convicted in the 2000 execution-style murder of four people on a snowy soccer field in Wichita, ruling that the trial judge erred in refusing to conduct separate penalty phases for the two men.

Judge denies bid for new trial in 'Fatal Vision' murder case

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. - An Army doctor whose conviction for the 1970 murders of his pregnant wife and two daughters prompted the bestseller "Fatal Vision" and a television mini-series has failed to convince a U.S. judge he deserves another trial.

Corinthian faces uphill struggle to sell Everest colleges

- It took a cryptic message on her college login page to alert Stephenie Wickiser to the plight of the company that owns her online university.

Moderate quake strikes Alaska coast but little damage seen

JUNEAU Alaska - An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 struck on the coast of Alaska early on Friday, shaking people awake in the state capital city of Juneau but causing little, if any, damage, officials said.

U.S. meat, seafood prices rising on drought and disease: USDA

WASHINGTON - Overall U.S. food inflation will remain near the historic norm in 2014, even as prices for meat and seafood are pushed higher by disease and widespread drought, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday.

Exclusive: Exxon weighs expansion of Beaumont, Texas, refinery - sources

HOUSTON - Exxon Mobil Corp <XOM.N > is weighing a possible multibillion-dollar expansion of its 344,600 barrel-per-day (bpd) Beaumont, Texas, refinery that could make it the nation’s largest by 2020, according to sources familiar with the company’s deliberations.

FBI investigates Ford engineer after listening devices found: report

DETROIT - A 43-year-old former Ford Motor Co engineer is being investigated by the FBI after listening devices were found in meeting rooms at company offices, the Detroit News reported on Friday.

Federal inspector to examine Alaska tour train derailment site

JUNEAU Alaska - A federal inspector has been sent to examine the Alaska site where a tourism train derailed this week, leaving 19 people with minor injuries, a U.S. Transportation Department spokesman said on Thursday.

Colorado appeals court denies bid to block gay marriages in Boulder County

DENVER - A Colorado appeals court on Thursday denied a motion by the state's top lawyer seeking to block a county clerk from issuing same-sex marriage licenses until the long-running legal battle is resolved by higher courts.

Arizona killer was given two doses of drugs in drawn-out execution

PHOENIX - Arizona executioners had to administer at least two full doses of a two-drug lethal injection cocktail to a convicted killer before he finally succumbed nearly two hours after his execution began, the state's assistant attorney general said on Thursday.

Alabama man claims penis was amputated by mistake

- An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Navajo president calls slayings of two Native men a hate crime

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. - The president of the Navajo Nation condemned the beating deaths of two Native American homeless men in New Mexico as a hate crime, and called on Thursday for a federal investigation into slayings that police have blamed on three teenagers.

Groundwater levels drop in Southwestern U.S. in ongoing drought

- Underground stores of water in the southwestern United States have receded dramatically amid ongoing drought that has parched states from Oklahoma to the Pacific Coast and is costing California billions in lost crops and jobs, a new study shows.

Indiana man charged in killing of police officer

GARY Ind. - A 25-year-old Indiana man was charged on Thursday in the fatal shooting of a Gary, Indiana, police officer in his patrol car earlier this month, city officials said.

Notorious drug smuggling ship towed to Seattle for scrapping

SEATTLE - A freighter seized off the coast of Washington state nearly four decades ago in one of the largest marijuana busts in the region's history was moved to Seattle on Thursday and will eventually be scrapped, local officials said.

Suspect in 1992 slaying of Illinois teen arrested in California

LOS ANGELES - An elderly California man, long suspected in the unsolved killing of a Chicago-area youth 22 years ago, has been arrested in Los Angeles on a murder warrant from Illinois prosecutors, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney said on Thursday.

Website lets donors pay Detroit residents' overdue water bills

DETROIT - Widespread water shutoffs in Detroit have led to the creation of a website that allows donors to anonymously pay the overdue bills of residents in the bankrupt city, a site organizer said on Thursday.

Milwaukee barber sentenced for role in Stradivarius violin theft

MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee barber received a 3-1/2-year prison sentence on Thursday for supplying a stun gun used in the theft of a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin from a concert violinist.

Police puzzled by dolls left on porches in California city

LOS ANGELES - Police said on Thursday they were investigating porcelain dolls that had been left on the doorsteps of at least eight homes in a Southern California beach city that homeowners said bore a resemblance their daughters.

California attorney general asks lawyers to help immigrant children

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California's attorney general has personally asked several major law firms to provide pro bono services to unaccompanied immigrant children flooding the U.S. border with Mexico, a signal that California views the growing crisis as a humanitarian issue.

NY woman accused of murder after neighbor's dismembered body found

NEW YORK - A Brooklyn woman faces murder charges in the killing of her neighbor whose dismembered body was discovered in New York near sites where other severed human limbs were found this month, police said on Thursday.

Storm kills three, injures 20 at Virginia campground

WASHINGTON - A likely tornado tore through an eastern Virginia campground on Thursday, killing up to three people and injuring as many as 20 as it overturned vehicles and downed trees, officials said.

BNSF train carrying North Dakota oil derails in Seattle

- A Burlington Northern Santa Fe train carrying crude oil derailed as it left a railyard in north Seattle on Thursday, but there were no reports of a spill or injuries, BNSF said in a statement.

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after critical tweet

(Story refiled to correct typographical error on third paragraph)

Too few U.S. youth getting vaccine for sexually transmitted virus: CDC

ATLANTA - More U.S. adolescents are receiving vaccines against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical and other types of cancer but vaccination rates for the infection remain too low, federal health officials said on Thursday.

New arrest videos add to scrutiny of N.Y. police use of choke holds

NEW YORK - Relatives of Eric Garner, who died soon after New York police put him in a choke hold, will ask federal prosecutors this week for an investigation as new videos emerged of a second recent case of police apparently using the banned hold on another man.

Excommunicated Mormon feminist appeals ejection from faith

SALT LAKE CITY - A Mormon feminist excommunicated from her religion after advocating for the ordination of women has appealed the ejection in a letter to the same panel of male church leaders who decided to oust her from the largely patriarchal faith.

Kennedy cousin tries to stop tapes being played in murder retrial

STAMFORD Conn. - Michael Skakel, a Kennedy cousin awaiting retrial after serving 11 years in prison for the murder of a teenage girl in Connecticut, wants to stop incriminating audiotapes from being used again as evidence, according to court filings on Wednesday.

100 years on, World War One resonates at Kansas City museum

KANSAS CITY Mo. - As far as Joan Barkley Wells is concerned, there isn't much reason for calling World War One a forgotten war.

Mother, daughter die of burns from Philadelphia food truck blast

PHILADELPHIA - A mother and daughter have died from burns they suffered when a propane tank exploded in the family's food truck in Philadelphia earlier this month, authorities said on Thursday.

Judge doubts Florida election maps can be fixed by November

TALLAHASSEE - A judge who ruled Florida’s new congressional districts were unconstitutional earlier this month expressed doubt Thursday that he can postpone next month’s primary election for a quick fix of the political boundaries.

Landlords say San Francisco anti-eviction law unconstitutional

SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco law requiring landlords to pay large sums of money to tenants before removing a property from the rental market was challenged in federal court on Thursday amid rising tensions between renters and landlords in the expensive city.

Top Dallas official bets political future by opening arms to immigrants

DALLAS - Images of protesters trying to stop buses loaded with illegal immigrants may dominate the news, but in the heart of Texas, one county judge is taking on friends and foes by trying to find shelter for child migrants flooding across the U.S. border.

California man says he shot fleeing intruder who said she was pregnant

LOS ANGELES - An 80-year-old California man who told a television station he shot to death a fleeing intruder even though she begged for her life and said she was pregnant was under investigation by police on Thursday in connection with the slaying.

Police seek five young adults in Brooklyn Bridge flag case: media

NEW YORK - New York police are looking for five young adults in connection with the mysterious white flags that fluttered atop the Brooklyn Bridge on Tuesday morning, baffling onlookers below, local media reported on Thursday.

Sanity exam of accused Colorado theater gunman can be filmed: judge

DENVER - A second psychiatric examination of accused Colorado theater gunman James Holmes, who says he was insane when he shot dead 12 moviegoers two years ago, can be recorded on video, a judge overseeing the case ruled on Thursday.

Former Massachusetts probation official found guilty in corruption case

BOSTON - A former director of Massachusetts' probation commission was found guilty on Thursday of running the agency as a corrupt political patronage operation, offering jobs in return for favors from state legislators.

Effort to force vote to repeal Seattle minimum wage increase fails

SEATTLE - A Seattle business group said it has fallen short of the number of signatures needed to force a November vote seeking to repeal a municipal ordinance that raises the city's minimum wage to $15 per hour.

One dead, one wounded by gunman at Pennsylvania hospital

- A gunman opened fire inside a Pennsylvania psychiatric facility on Thursday, killing a woman and wounding a doctor who apparently shot back and critically wounded his attacker, authorities said.

Canada board welcomes U.S. oil-by-rail ideas, says danger remains

OTTAWA - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada welcomed on Thursday proposed U.S. regulations for oil-by-rail tankers but cautioned of persistent danger until tank cars built before 2011 stop carrying oil and other flammable liquids.

Maryland seeks to lure anglers to join 'Frankenfish' battle

ANNAPOLIS Md. - Maryland officials are hoping that the prospect of landing a record fish will enlist anglers in the battle against the northern snakehead, a voracious newcomer dubbed "Frankenfish."

Milwaukee barber sentenced for role in Stradivarius violin theft

MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee barber received a 3-1/2-year prison sentence on Thursday for supplying a stun gun used in the theft of a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin from a concert violinist.

Website lets donors pay Detroit residents' overdue water bills

DETROIT - Widespread water shutoffs in Detroit have led to the creation of a website that allows donors to anonymously pay the overdue bills of residents in the bankrupt city, a site organizer said on Thursday.

Senior U.S. lawmaker: Myanmar must reform before more sanctions easing

WASHINGTON - Jade and rubies from Myanmar will remain banned from the United States unless the Asian nation moves to end a provision in its constitution that bars opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running for president, a senior U.S. senator said on Thursday.

Senior U.S. Homeland Security cyber official Larry Zelvin to retire

BOSTON - Larry Zelvin, the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's center for countering cyber threats, is retiring next month after a government career of nearly 30 years during which he advised U.S. businesses on fighting hostile hackers.

Lawyers demand outside probe of two-hour Arizona execution

PHOENIX - Lawyers for a convicted double-murderer whose lethal injection in Arizona dragged on for two hours, while witnesses watched him gasping for breath and attorneys scrambled to halt the process, have called for an outside review of the "horrifically botched execution."

For Californians, higher costs dampen support for clean energy

BERKELEY Calif. - An overwhelming majority of California residents support the state's mandate for reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, so long as they do not bear the higher costs of cleaner energy themselves, a new public opinion poll shows.

U.S. health insurers to pay $330 million in premium rebates

- U.S. health insurers will send out about $330 million in rebates to employers and individuals this summer under President Barack Obama's healthcare law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday.

Preachers rail at police in funeral for NYC man who died in custody

NEW YORK - Preacher after preacher stepped up to the pulpit at a sweltering Brooklyn church on Wednesday to express fury at the city's police force during the funeral of Eric Garner, who died soon after police put him in a banned chokehold.

Colorado theater gunman's lawyers challenge firearms analysis

DENVER - Lawyers defending accused theater gunman James Holmes challenged the reliability of firearms analysis on Wednesday, despite conceding that their client was solely responsible for the 2012 massacre that killed 12 moviegoers.

U.S. judge strikes down Colorado's gay marriage ban, stays ruling

DENVER - A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, but stayed his ruling until the issue is decided by a higher court.

Republican Paul Ryan to renew U.S. poverty debate with grant plan

WASHINGTON - Republican Representative Paul Ryan will probably spark a new round of arguments over how to fight poverty in America on Thursday as he introduces a sweeping plan to replace long-standing social safety net programs with new block grants for states and communities.

African Americans disproportionately cited for public pot use in Seattle -police

SEATTLE - African Americans in Seattle were ticketed disproportionately to their population for unlawfully using marijuana in public places during the first half of 2014, according to a report released on Wednesday by the city's police department.

San Francisco approves soda tax for November ballot

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco city leaders have approved a measure for the November ballot that would place a two-cents-per-ounce municipal tax on sodas and other sugary beverages, hoping to become the first major city to successfully impose such a levy.

Lack of immigration reform slows U.S.-Mexico economic growth: Mexican official

SACRAMENTO Calif. - The growing network of cross-border ties with Mexico, including trade equaling $1 million every minute, is threatened by the lack of progress toward immigration reform in the United States, Mexico's foreign secretary said on Wednesday.

Arizona inmate takes nearly two hours to die in execution

PHOENIX - An Arizona inmate took almost two hours to die by lethal injection and his lawyers said he "gasped and snorted" before succumbing in the latest botched execution to raise questions about the death penalty in the United States.

U.S. says Chinese man pleads guilty in military technology sting

WASHINGTON - A 28-year-old Chinese man pleaded guilty on Wednesday of attempting to smuggle military technology obtained from undercover U.S. agents out of the United States to China, the U.S. Justice Department said.

U.S. judge knocks down Colorado's gay marriage ban, stays ruling

DENVER - A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but temporarily stayed his ruling until the issue is decided by a higher court.

Exploding shooting targets banned from 12 U.S. national forests

SALMON Idaho - Federal land managers on Wednesday banned exploding targets used by shooting enthusiasts from 12 national forests in four Western U.S. states, saying the devices could spark wildfires and are a threat to public safety.

Army defends job cut notices to U.S. captains in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army on Wednesday defended its decision to notify 87 captains deployed overseas, including 48 in Afghanistan, that they were losing their jobs, would be transferred home and had nine months to organize their departure from the service.

Arizona inmate takes nearly two hours to die in execution

PHOENIX - An Arizona death row inmate took almost two hours to die after his execution by lethal injection began on Wednesday, the state's attorney general said.

Massachusetts bill limiting protests at abortion clinics goes to governor

BOSTON - A bill to limit demonstrations around Massachusetts abortion clinics passed the state's House of Representatives on Wednesday and headed to Governor Deval Patrick.

Exploding shooting targets banned from 12 U.S. national forests

SALMON Idaho - Federal land managers on Wednesday banned exploding targets used by shooting enthusiasts from 12 national forests in four Western U.S. states, saying the devices could spark wildfires and are a threat to public safety.

Funeral to be held for NYC man who died after police chokehold

NEW YORK - Family members gathered on Wednesday evening for the funeral of Eric Garner, who died shortly after police put him in a banned chokehold as they arrested him in New York City where the death has sparked outrage and a promise to reform police training.

Two New Hampshire police officers fired after roughing up teen

- The town manager of Seabrook, New Hampshire, fired two police officers on Wednesday for roughing up a man at the town's police station, an incident that drew scrutiny after surveillance footage of the incident was posted online earlier this year.

Newark, N.J., schools probed after claims of race discrimination

NEWARK N.J. - The U.S. Department of Education said on Wednesday it was investigating complaints that a plan to reorganize public schools in Newark, New Jersey, discriminates against black students.

Senior U.S. Homeland Security cyber official Larry Zelvin to retire

BOSTON - Larry Zelvin, the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's center for countering cyber threats, is retiring next month after a government career of nearly 30 years during which he advised U.S. businesses on fighting hostile hackers.

Kennedy cousin tries to stop tapes being played in murder retrial

STAMFORD Conn. - Michael Skakel, a Kennedy cousin awaiting retrial after serving 11 years in prison for the murder of a teenage girl in Connecticut, wants to stop incriminating audiotapes from being used again as evidence, according to court filings on Wednesday.

Over 10 million U.S. adults gain coverage under Obamacare: study

WASHINGTON - An estimated 10.3 million American adults have gained health coverage since Obamacare enrollment began last October, with the biggest gains among young adults and Hispanics, according to a study published on Wednesday.

Jury still undecided in defamation case brought by Jesse Ventura

ST PAUL Minn. - A jury deliberated for a second day on Wednesday without reaching a verdict in a defamation lawsuit brought by former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura alleging his reputation was sullied by claims in a former Navy SEAL's book about his involvement in a bar fight.

Jury still undecided in defamation case brought by Jesse Ventura

ST PAUL Minn. - A jury deliberated for a second day on Wednesday without reaching a verdict in a defamation lawsuit brought by former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura alleging his reputation was sullied by claims in a former Navy SEAL's book about his involvement in a bar fight.

Wisconsin governor race remains in a dead heat despite probe -poll

MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is seeking re-election in November, has not seen any significant drop in his support since the release of documents on a probe into possible illegal campaign financing, a poll showed on Wednesday.

Firefighters hold line in Washington as experts warn of more fires

SEATTLE - Firefighters were holding the line on Wednesday against the largest wildfire in Washington state's history, as scientists warned that such blazes across the Western United States were becoming hotter, larger and more dangerous.

Libyan al Qaeda suspect's legal defense financed by foreign government

NEW YORK - A foreign government is paying for the criminal defense of alleged senior al Qaeda militant Anas al-Liby, his defense lawyer told a U.S. judge on Wednesday.

California lawmaker's bribery trial postponed until he leaves office

- California state Senator Ron Calderon's trial on bribery charges has been delayed until after he leaves office this year.

Exclusive: Obama sends team to Texas to assess need for National Guard deployment

SAN FRANCISCO - President Barack Obama has sent a team to Texas to assess whether a U.S. National Guard deployment would help to handle an immigration crisis at the Mexican border, White House officials told Reuters on Wednesday, having so far resisted Republican calls for such a move.

Indiana teen dead, dad missing after crash ends world flight bid

CHICAGO - A teenager from Plainfield, Indiana, who was trying to fly around the world in 30 days, is dead and his father is missing after their small plane crashed on Tuesday night near American Samoa, an official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Women charged with financing Somali group al Shabaab -U.S. prosecutors

WASHINGTON - Three women were arrested on Wednesday on charges of conspiring to raise money for Somali insurgent group al Shabaab, the Justice Department said.

Former Nazi guard dies in Pennsylvania just before extradition approved

- A former Nazi concentration camp guard died hours before a judge on Wednesday ordered his extradition to Germany, where he faced charges of aiding and abetting the deaths of 216,000 Jews.

U.S. boosts Iraq surveillance flights to 50 daily from one monthly

WASHINGTON - The United States has boosted the number of surveillance flights over Iraq to nearly 50 a day from one a month as it faces Sunni Islamist militants who control swaths of Iraqi territory, a top State Department official said on Wednesday.

Arkansas air base on lockdown due to 'suspicious individual'

LITTLE ROCK Ark - The Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas was on lockdown on Wednesday due to a suspicious individual, the military base said in a Facebook post.

Arkansas air base on lockdown due to 'suspicious individual'

LITTLE ROCK Ark - The Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas was on lockdown on Wednesday due to a suspicious individual, the military base said in a Facebook post.

Six indicted in New York for involvement in StubHub cyber fraud

New York - Six people were indicted in New York for involvement in a global cybercrime ring that took over more than 1,000 accounts of eBay Inc's StubHub online ticket reselling service, according to a statement released by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Lawsuit challenges Louisiana governor's plan to ditch Common Core

NEW ORLEANS - A group of charter schools, teachers and parents filed suit on Tuesday against Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, asserting that he overstepped his authority and has sown chaos by moving last month to ditch the Common Core education standards for teaching English and math which he helped usher in four years ago.

Massachusetts teenager charged in October killing in court on assault charge

BOSTON - A Massachusetts teenager accused of raping and murdering a teacher at his former high school appeared in a Boston court on Wednesday to face charges of stalking and attacking a female staffer at the detention center where he is awaiting trial.

Exclusive: CDC says lab director behind anthrax mishap resigns

WASHINGTON - The director of a government bioterror lab behind the potential exposure of workers to live anthrax has resigned, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

NJ man guilty of murdering 'messy' ex-wife found wearing pig mask

MORRISTOWN N.J. - A jury convicted a New Jersey man of murder on Wednesday in the killing of his ex-wife, who he called a messy housekeeper and whose body was found stabbed 84 times and wearing a pig mask.

Arizona execution to proceed after lethal-injection challenge failed

PHOENIX - A convicted double-murderer was due to be executed by lethal injection in Arizona on Wednesday after his defense team failed in its legal bid to force the state to disclose greater details about how he will be put to death.

Last victim of deadly Washington mudslide believed found

- Search teams in Washington State have found the remains of a person thought to be the last victim of a mudslide that buried an entire community in March and killed 43 people, county authorities said.

Opening statements to begin for Michigan man accused in teen's death

- Opening statements are set to begin on Wednesday in the trial of a white suburban Detroit homeowner charged with killing a black teenager with a shotgun blast to the face after she knocked on his door seeking help early one November morning.

U.S. scientists urge 'national vision' to curb coastal risks in report

- A group of top scientists has called for a fundamental change to how the United States deals with risks to its Atlantic and Gulf coasts from storms and climate change in a National Research Council report released Wednesday.

Jury reconvenes in defamation case brought by Jesse Ventura

ST PAUL Minn. - A jury reconvened Wednesday in a defamation lawsuit brought by former Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura, alleging his reputation was sullied by claims in a former Navy SEAL's book about his involvement in a bar fight.

Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, battling Alzheimer's, steps down

DENVER - Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is stepping down as he battles Alzheimer's disease, the National Football League team said on Wednesday, adding that it was saddened he could no longer take part in the club's daily operations.

Kansas man charged with murder after girl dies in police chase

- A man accused of kidnapping a 5-year-old Kansas girl, who was found dead after a police chase, was charged on Wednesday with first-degree felony murder in the child's death, authorities said.

U.S. proposes new rules for moving crude oil by rail

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday proposed an overhaul of safety standards for transporting crude oil and ethanol by rail, after a number of explosive accidents over the past year.

New York Governor Cuomo's office intervened in corruption probe -NY Times

NEW YORK - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office meddled with a commission he created to root out corruption in state politics, pushing back whenever it focused on groups tied to Cuomo, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

More U.S. teens' report using human growth hormone, group says

WASHINGTON - U.S. teenagers' reported use of synthetic human growth hormone more than doubled between 2012 to 2013 as they sought to improve athletic performance and appearance, a survey by anti-drug advocates found.

U.S., European airlines halt flights to Israel due to instability

- Air carriers in the United States and Europe on Tuesday halted flights to Tel Aviv after warnings from governmental agencies in an effort to ensure passenger safety as turmoil in Israel and the region intensified.

NYC police training to be overhauled after custody death

NEW YORK - All New York City police officers are expected to undergo retraining in the wake of a man's death on a city sidewalk shortly after he was placed in a chokehold by officers, Bill Bratton, the police commissioner, said on Tuesday.

Business executive wins Georgia Republican runoff in U.S. Senate race

ATLANTA - Campaigning as an outsider who would shake up Washington, a former Fortune 500 chief executive defeated an 11-term congressman in a Georgia runoff election on Tuesday between two Republicans seeking to fill an open U.S. Senate seat.

StubHub was victim of cyber fraud ring; arrests to be announced

SEATTLE/BOSTON - eBay Inc's StubHub online ticket resale service said it was the victim of a massive international cyber fraud ring, the details of which authorities plan to disclose on Wednesday as they announce arrests in the case.

San Diego-area community rejects shelter for undocumented migrants

ESCONDIDO Calif. - A San Diego suburb took center stage in the nation's acrimonious immigration debate on Tuesday as planning commissioners there rejected a proposal to open a temporary shelter for Central American children caught illegally crossing the U.S. border.

Colorado judge sets new December 8 trial date in theater massacre case

CENTENNIAL Colo. - Jury selection in the much-delayed trial of accused movie theater gunman James Holmes will begin on Dec. 8, a Colorado judge said on Tuesday, dismissing objections by the defense who said they needed more time.

NYC police training to be overhauled after custody death

NEW YORK - All New York City police officers are expected to undergo retraining in the wake of a man's death on a city sidewalk shortly after he was placed in a chokehold by officers, Bill Bratton, the police commissioner, said on Tuesday.

Sleep in train station, go to jail under San Francisco crackdown

SAN FRANCISCO - Transit police on San Francisco's BART commuter rail line on Tuesday stepped up efforts to discourage homeless people from sleeping in stations, issuing warnings that could eventually lead to a trip to jail.

U.S. Supreme Court lifts stay of execution for Arizona inmate

PHOENIX - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday vacated a stay of execution for an Arizona inmate who had sued the state demanding more information about the drugs that will be used in the lethal injection procedure he faces.

Oklahoma teen accused of sexually abusing children in Kenya

OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma teenager is charged with traveling to Kenya to sexually abuse children at a missionary children's home in the East African country, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Big California raid targets marijuana grown on tribal land

SAN FRANCISCO - California authorities have launched a major raid to seize marijuana grown on and around a Northern California Indian reservation, joining with tribal authorities to combat illegal grow operations on native lands, authorities said on Tuesday.

Texas woman found guilty of starving stepson to death

DALLAS - A Texas woman was found guilty on Tuesday of starving her 10-year-old stepson to death and then dumping his body in a creek bed.

Obama administration to unveil stricter fuel regulations for trains: WSJ

- The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce new regulations related to more stringent safety standards on trains carrying flammable fuels on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported citing a source on Capitol Hill familiar with the process.

NYC police training to be overhauled after custody death

NEW YORK - All New York City police officers are expected to undergo retraining in the wake of a man's death on a city sidewalk shortly after he was placed in a chokehold by officers, Bill Bratton, the police commissioner, said on Tuesday.

Firefighters advance on biggest wildfire on record in Washington state

SEATTLE - Firefighters gained ground on Tuesday against the largest wildfire in Washington state's history but the massive blaze that has destroyed 200 homes continued to threaten some communities and forced a fresh round of evacuations.

Obama government looks to satisfy religious groups on Obamacare

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is developing a method for religious organizations opposed to contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act to opt out of providing the coverage in their health plans without filling out a form.

U.S. announces arrests in border crackdown on human smuggling

WASHINGTON - U.S. officials have made almost 200 arrests and seized more than $625,000 in illicit profits in a month-long crackdown on human smuggling in response to an influx of illegal immigration into Texas, the Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday.

Hundreds of postal workers protest at Chicago Staples over outsourcing

CHICAGO - Hundreds of postal workers from around the country protested outside a Staples store in downtown Chicago on Tuesday over a program that allows postal services to be sold at more than 80 Staples retail outlets.

Donut capers stymie police in Oregon

PORTLAND Ore. - Police in a Portland suburb have a sticky situation on their hands: for more than a month, mysterious vandals have been smearing pastries on cars, depositing donuts in lawns and leaving cakes strewn about the streets.

Paterno's son and other ex-coach sue Penn State for lost careers

HARRISBURG Pa. - Two former assistant football coaches at Penn State University, including the son of disgraced former head coach Joe Paterno, are suing the school for actions they say wrecked their careers in the wake of the child sex-abuse scandal.

Ohio man sentenced to 30 years for enslaving woman, child

CLEVELAND Ohio - An Ohio man convicted of enslaving a mentally disabled woman and her young daughter for nearly two years was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison Tuesday, according to a federal prosecutor's office.

Jury to weigh murder in pig mask stabbing of 'messy' ex-wife

MORRISTOWN N.J. - A prosecutor on Tuesday held up the rubber pig mask found on the face of a woman stabbed 84 times and told the jury in the murder trial of the victim's ex-husband it showed his contempt for the woman he called a messy housekeeper.

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State Building investors

NEW YORK - A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars by the real estate magnates who took the iconic skyscraper public last October.

Groups file complaint against Texas city that banned refugee housing

- Immigration rights groups filed a federal complaint on Tuesday against a Texas city they said violated civil rights laws by placing a ban on housing and processing facilities for Central Americans seeking refugee status after fleeing violence at home.

San Antonio makes history as it names black woman mayor

SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio's city council elected Ivy Taylor the new mayor of the seventh most populous U.S. city, making the Yale graduate the first African American to hold the post.

Fourth bacterial infection death reported at South Carolina hospital

CHARLESTON S.C. - A patient who contracted a rare bacterial infection during surgery at a South Carolina hospital died last week, bringing the total deaths to four since the outbreak was first suspected in May, a hospital spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Thieves steal air conditioners from rural Tennessee churches

NASHVILLE Tenn. - Thieves have been stealing central air conditioning units from rural Tennessee churches during a scorching summer heat wave, and they'll face hell fire for eternity if they're not caught here on earth, a church official said on Tuesday.

Miami restaurant, survivor of desegregation and riots, to close

MIAMI - After more than half a century, Jumbo's, famous for its fried shrimp and conch, and one of the first Miami restaurants to desegregate in the late 1960s, is closing this week as the site is sold to a developer of affordable housing.

Maryland parents charged with locking autistic adult sons in basement

ANNAPOLIS Md. - Police in Maryland have charged a couple with abuse after discovering their 22-year-old twin autistic sons had been locked in a dark, bare basement room for six years, according to police and court records.Police found the men in a room with no furniture or lights, one comforter on a tile floor, and a small window, and noticed an "overwhelming smell of urine coming from the room," said charging documents filed in Montgomery County District Court

North Carolina teenager accused of hiding buried baby's death

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. - The North Carolina teenager whose baby girl's body was found buried in her family's yard last month was arrested on Tuesday on a felony charge of concealing or failing to report the death, sheriff's officials said.

Montana top court sanctions judge for 30-day rape sentence

- The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday censured a judge and suspended him for 31 days for improperly suggesting a 14-year-old girl was culpable in her rape and unlawfully sentencing the former teacher convicted of the crime to just a month in jail.

Oregon recreational pot initiative qualifies for November ballot

- An initiative seeking to legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana in Oregon has qualified for the November ballot, the state said on its website on Tuesday.

In chokehold death, NY police tactics clash with moves to mend relations

NEW YORK - When Bill Bratton returned in January for a second stint as New York City's police commissioner, he often invoked two priorities - to mend relations with black and Latino citizens and to keep serious crime down with the same methods he used in the 1990s.

Helicopter crashes near Washington state community hit by mudslide

SEATTLE - A helicopter crashed on Monday near a Washington state community in the Cascade foothills still reeling from a damaging mudslide, apparently injuring the pilot, according to authorities and media reports.

Most victims of fiery California bus crash died of smoke inhalation

- Most of the 10 people killed in a fiery crash of a bus full of college hopefuls in Northern California survived the initial impact and died of smoke inhalation from flames that engulfed the vehicle, the county coroner said on Tuesday.

Maine governor bemoans move of eight child immigrants to his state

BOSTON - Maine Governor Paul LePage blasted the White House on Tuesday for placing in his state eight children who tried to cross the border illegally.

Driver rescued in Oregon after 12 hours trapped with corpse

SEATTLE - A driver who spent 12 hours trapped in the wreckage of her car with the corpse of a passenger who died after their vehicle tumbled down an embankment was rescued after a hitchhiker in Oregon heard her cries for help, authorities said on Tuesday.

Mysterious white flags replace U.S. stars and stripes on Brooklyn Bridge

NEW YORK - New Yorkers awoke to find two white flags hung in place of the American flags that traditionally flutter atop the Brooklyn Bridge on Tuesday morning, baffling city officials, police and onlookers.

Man arrested in bomb hoax at Louisiana university

NEW ORLEANS - A 30-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a bomb hoax last week at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette that forced an evacuation of the sprawling campus and triggered a large-scale police response, authorities said on Tuesday.

Father posts photo of sexually abused son online in donation plea

- A Florida father who severely beat an 18-year-old man he said he caught sexually assaulting his son posted the child's photo on a fundraising website to solicit donations for the boy's recovery, police said on Tuesday.

San Diego-area community expected to reject illegal immigrant shelter

SAN DIEGO - A Southern California city could find itself at the center of a nationwide debate over illegal immigration on Tuesday evening when officials there are expected to reject a bid by the U.S. government to open a shelter for unaccompanied migrant children.

Manhunt on for armed bandits in $181,000 heist at Atlantic City casino

AVON-BY-THE-SEA N.J. - A manhunt was underway on Tuesday for masked bandits who reportedly stole roughly $181,000 in an armed robbery at Caesar's Atlantic City casino in New Jersey, police said.

Georgia voters to pick Republican U.S. Senate nominee after long fight

ATLANTA - A drawn-out fight between an 11-term congressman and a former Fortune 500 chief executive in a key U.S. Senate race is due to be decided by Georgia's Republican voters on Tuesday.

Three injured when home explodes north of Houston

HOUSTON - Three people were critically burned when a house exploded near a city north of Houston on Tuesday, with the blast felt for miles, officials said.

Wawona Packing recalls fruit over listeria concerns

WASHINGTON - Wawona Packing Co is recalling fresh Sweet 2 Eat brand peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots because of potential contamination by listeria contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

Delta, US Airways halt flights to Israel due to instability

- U.S. air carriers Delta Air Lines and US Airways, a unit of American Airlines Group, on Tuesday said they have halted flights to Israel to ensure passenger safety.

Court deals blow to Obama health law by limiting subsidies

WASHINGTON - A U.S. federal judicial panel on Tuesday dealt a potentially devastating blow to President Barack Obama's healthcare law, throwing out a provision that provides millions of Americans with subsidies for private health insurance.

Defense lawyer says Ventura seeking attention with defamation suit

ST PAUL Minn. - Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura's defamation case is aimed at keeping the name of the fading star in the headlines at the expense of an ex-Navy SEAL who served his country with honor, defense lawyers said on Tuesday.

Feds: Police misconduct rampant in Newark, N.J., city OKs monitor

NEWARK N.J. - Federal investigators found police repeatedly violated civil rights in New Jersey's largest city, Newark, and recommended an independent monitor to oversee changes, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

'Slenderman' attack victim receives Purple Heart from an anonymous well wisher

MILWAUKEE - A Wisconsin girl stabbed 19 times in a murder plot allegedly hatched by two classmates to win favor with a fictional Internet character, has been sent a prestigious Purple Heart medal by an anonymous well-wisher, the victim's family said on Tuesday.

'Slenderman' attack victim receives Purple Heart from an anonymous well wisher

MILWAUKEE - A Wisconsin girl stabbed 19 times in a murder plot allegedly hatched by two classmates to win favor with a fictional Internet character, has been sent a prestigious Purple Heart medal by an anonymous well-wisher, the victim's family said on Tuesday.

Race for North Dakota's agriculture commissioner is all about oil

TOWNER North Dakota - North Dakota's biggest oil producers have picked a side and put money into an obscure election for the state's agriculture commissioner, hoping to ward off a rising Democratic challenger who could limit development of new wells and pipelines.

U.S. judge dismisses Republican lawsuit over Obamacare subsidy for Congress

MILWAUKEE - A federal judge has thrown out a U.S. Senator's legal challenge to a part of President Barack Obama's healthcare law that grants health insurance subsidies for members of Congress and their staffs.

Wave of migrant children threatens to swamp U.S. immigration courts

WASHINGTON - A deluge of Central American children pouring into the United States threatens to burst the seams of already overstuffed immigration courts, and President Barack Obama's steps to ease the crisis are likely to make matters worse rather than better for some, U.S. officials and immigration lawyers said.

After 13-year struggle, U.S. faces counter-terror fatigue: panel

WASHINGTON - After 13 years of struggle, Americans are showing a growing public fatigue and waning sense of urgency over terrorism, an attitude that threatens U.S. security, members of the panel that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks said in a report on Tuesday.

Detroit workers, retirees vote in favor of city's debt plan

- Detroit's city workers and retirees voted in favor of the city's debt adjustment plan, according to voting results filed late on Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, in what should clear the way for the final stage of the city's historic bankruptcy case.

Colorado county clerk 'reluctantly' halts same-sex marriage licenses

DENVER - A Colorado county clerk who issued nearly three dozen same-sex marriage licenses agreed on Monday to halt the practice after the state's highest court ordered another clerk to stop issuing the permits to gay couples.

Alaska Army National Guard soldier attacked by bear near base

JUNEAU Alaska - An Alaska Army National Guard soldier was attacked by a brown bear while training in the woods near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, the second bear attack on a soldier from the base in two months, officials said on Monday.

Activists say arrests made in protest at Utah tar sands mine project

SALT LAKE CITY - Sheriff's deputies in Utah arrested nearly two dozen environmental protesters who chained themselves to fences and construction equipment on Monday at a tar sands mining project in the remote Book Cliffs mountains, an activist group said.

Suspect charged over fatal California bank robbery shootout

STOCKTON Calif. - A suspect in a California bank heist in which heavily armed robbers took hostages and engaged police in a running gun battle during a high-speed chase last week was charged with murder on Monday for the deaths of a hostage and two suspected fellow robbers.

Texas governor to deploy 1,000 National Guard troops to border

AUSTIN Texas - Texas Governor Rick Perry said on Monday he planned to send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Mexican border to boost security during an influx of illegal immigration by children, a move that could increase pressure on President Barack Obama.

Philadelphia Eagles player arrested in shoving of Arizona officer

PHOENIX - A Philadelphia Eagles football player was arrested in Arizona on suspicion of felony aggravated assault for allegedly pushing a police officer probing a bar fight, authorities said on Monday.

Kansas police arrest suspect in girl's death

- A man accused of kidnapping a 5-year-old Kansas girl who died in a shootout between police and her alleged abductor was arrested in a hospital on Monday on suspicion of charges including first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping, authorities said.

New Mexico teens charged with beating two homeless men to death

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. - Prosecutors have charged three New Mexico teens with murder for allegedly beating to death two homeless men whose bodies were so badly disfigured they have yet to be identified, police and the Albuquerque District Attorney's Office said.

Traps set after reports of giant snake on New Jersey's Lake Hopatcong

- In a scene that could open the film "Snakes on a Jet Ski," New Jersey animal control workers have set traps to snare a reported 20-foot-long serpent slithering through the waters of Lake Hopatcong.

Lawyers for Mississippi death-row inmate want conviction overturned

JACKSON Miss. - Attorneys for a Mississippi death-row inmate who was tried six times for the same killings told the state Supreme Court on Monday that his most recent trial was unfair and his conviction should be overturned.

Boy found starved in Pennsylvania home, authorities say

PITTSBURGH - The mother and grandparents of a Pennsylvania boy, who authorities say was starved nearly to death, are facing criminal charges, according to court documents.

Obama says there's more than one 'authentic way of being black'

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama told a group of young black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian men on Monday that they need be proud of their backgrounds and draw strength from their cultures, but ignore people who accuse them of "acting white."

Black and white are the new orange at a county jail in Michigan

- Black and white are the new orange in a Michigan county where the sheriff has made a wardrobe change for jail inmates after a TV series brought new popularity to the vibrant color associated with prisoners.

Missing New Hampshire teenager reunited with mother after nine months

MANCHESTER N.H. - A New Hampshire teenager who disappeared nine months ago, prompting her mother to launch a nationwide search, has returned home, state officials said on Monday, offering no details on what prompted her disappearance.

Colombia growers see Miami cafe helping revive Juan Valdez brand

MIAMI - Colombian coffee growers, long represented by a fictional farmer named Juan Valdez with a mustache and wide-brimmed hat, opened a namesake coffee shop in downtown Miami on Monday, hoping to re-establish the brand in the high-end U.S. coffee market.

Donated skulls in Washington state lead to more human remains

SEATTLE - Authorities in Washington state were looking for a person who donated three human skulls to a thrift store last month, and said on Monday their pleas for information had instead prompted the handover of yet more human remains.

Two men charged with strangling elderly Philadelphia couple

- Two men have been charged with strangling to death an elderly couple at their Philadelphia home after being hired to do work around the house, police said on Monday.

At least four dead in truck-car crash south of Chicago

CHICAGO - At least four people were dead and three more were airlifted to hospitals after a multi-vehicle crash on I-55, a major truck route between St. Louis and Chicago, Illinois State Police said on Monday.

Bail set as elderly former Nazi guard falls ill in Pennsylvania

- A former Nazi concentration camp guard awaiting extradition to Germany was granted bail on Monday, set at $100,000, after his serious medical condition worsened while in jail, according to court documents.

Prisoner scales fence to escape Oregon jail

PORTLAND Ore. - A man awaiting trial for theft managed to escape an Oregon jail after he was let outside as part of a work crew, fled across the jail parking lot and jumped a fence in the latest in a string of Oregon prisoner escapes, authorities said on Monday.

U.S. court denies bid to reconsider stay of Arizona execution

PHOENIX - A federal appeals court on Monday rejected a bid by Arizona to remove a block that stops the state executing a double murderer until he is provided with more information about the drugs to be used to put him to death.

Texas man arrested for posing as veterinarian

HOUSTON - A 26-year-old Houston man has been arrested for practicing veterinary medicine without a license after he dispensed medicine and performed makeshift treatments on at least 50 animals, police said on Monday.

Israel blocks subpoena in terrorism case over Florida teen's death

NEW YORK - Israel persuaded a U.S. judge not to require a key witness to testify in a case where Bank of China Ltd is accused of supporting terrorism by Palestinian militants, including the 2006 death of an American teenager in a suicide bombing.

Johns Hopkins Hospital settles lawsuit with women filmed by doctor

- Johns Hopkins Hospital has agreed to pay $190 million to thousands of women who were secretly filmed by a doctor during gynecological exams.

Washington state wildfire claims first fatality, weather improving

SEATTLE - Cooler weather and lower winds aided firefighters on Monday as they battled a week-old wildfire in Washington state that has destroyed up to 150 homes, scorched a wide swath of wilderness east of the Cascade Mountains and left one person dead.

Facebook 'selfie' leads to shoplifting arrest in Illinois: police

CHICAGO - An Illinois woman made police work easy when she allegedly stole a colorful, leopard-pattern dress from a small boutique, then posted a picture of herself wearing it on Facebook, police said on Monday.

Want to buy a bridge? Pennsylvania still has 11 for sale

HARRISBURG Pa. - Buying a bridge is not on most to-do lists, but anyone seeking a historic span need look no further than the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which has 11 of them for sale.

New York environment regulators seek summer shutdown at Indian Point

- New York state environmental regulators are proposing shutting the giant Indian Point nuclear power plant to protect fish in the Hudson River during summer months, when demand for electricity for air-conditioning is greatest.

Texas governor to deploy 1,000 National Guard troops to border: reports

AUSTIN Texas - Texas Governor Rick Perry was expected to announce plans on Monday to send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Mexican border to boost security, according to local media, a move that could pile pressure on U.S. President Barack Obama.

Obama signs order barring federal discrimination against gays

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

High chance of cyclone near Lesser Antilles: NHC

- An area of low pressure located east of the Lesser Antilles now has a high, or 70 percent, chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory on Monday.

Friend of accused Boston bomber found guilty of obstructing justice

BOSTON - A U.S. jury on Monday found a friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber guilty of obstructing the investigation into the deadly blasts by removing a backpack containing fireworks shells from the suspect's dorm room.

N.Y. immigration groups to close over alleged fraud

- Two of the largest non-profit immigration service groups in the United States will shut down after being accused of defrauding thousands of clients, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Monday.

Ohio infant attacked and killed by dog

CLEVELAND - An autopsy was under way on an Ohio infant who died this weekend after being attacked by a relative’s dog, a coroner’s office said Monday.

Florida police probe death of four-year-old thrown from car

TAMPA Fla. - A Florida boy found in the middle of a street in Tampa has died, and authorities are investigating how the child came to be thrown from a car, city police said on Monday.

Jury selection due for Michigan man accused of killing black teen

- Jury selection was expected to begin on Monday for a white suburban Detroit homeowner charged with killing a black teenager with a shotgun blast to the face after she knocked on his door seeking help early one November morning.

Gay couple challenges legal halt to gay marriage in Florida Keys

MIAMI - A gay couple hoping to marry in the Florida Keys filed an emergency petition on Monday to reinstate a judge's ruling which struck down the state's gay marriage ban.

New York City settles case of inmate death for $2.75 million: NYT

NEW YORK - New York City has agreed to pay $2.75 million to settle a lawsuit regarding the death of a prisoner at a city jail whose death was ruled a homicide, the New York Times reported on Monday.

Massachusetts mayor in flap with conservatives on gay rights

BOSTON - (This story corrects July 17 story to make clear that article ran on TheBlaze.com but was not authored by Glenn Beck; changes "discrimination" to "orientation" in 2nd paragraph)

In Clippers court case, octogenarian lawyer relishes the ruckus

LOS ANGELES - With the $2-billion sale of pro basketball's Los Angeles Clippers at stake and the team's irascible owner refusing to bless the record deal his estranged wife brokered, Bert Fields can hardly keep a smile from his face.

Forty-five years after Apollo landing, U.S. debates next lunar step

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Forty-five years after the first Apollo lunar landing, the United States remains divided about the moon's role in future human space exploration.

CN train derailment in Wisconsin forces people to move to safer sites

- A Canadian National Railway train derailed in Wisconsin on Sunday night, spurring local residents to move to safer locations, according to the railway and media reports.

Four dead in Arizona small plane crash

- Four people were killed on Sunday when a small plane crashed in rugged territory near the popular Arizona resort town of Sedona, authorities said.

Oil-by-rail fight in Washington threatens California gasoline prices

VANCOUVER Washington - California's chance to keep a lid on some of the nation's highest gas prices and join in the spoils of a domestic oil production boom is threatened by quickly growing opposition to a rail terminal in Washington state.

RJ Reynolds' $23-billion punitive damage award unlikely to stand: experts

NEW YORK - A decision by a Florida jury to impose punitive damages of $23.6 billion against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company on Friday is likely to be rejected on appeal or the award reduced substantially, lawyers with expertise in jury awards said on Sunday.

Four emergency workers barred from 911 duty in NYC arrest death

NEW YORK - Four emergency responders have been put on modified duty while authorities investigate their response to a man who died after New York police put him in a chokehold on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes, a fire department official said on Sunday.

Florida teen recovering from beating in Israel-Palestinian conflict

TAMPA Fla. - Despite the red scars on his wrists, a souvenir from a summer vacation to see Palestinian relatives that became a nightmare, Tariq Khdeir felt lucky on Sunday as he described his apparent beating by Israeli police earlier this month.

Four emergency workers barred from 911 duty in NYC arrest death

NEW YORK - Four emergency responders have been put on modified duty while authorities investigate their response to a man, suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes, who died after New York police put him in a chokehold, a fire department official said on Sunday.

Oil trains, born of U.S. energy boom, face test in new safety rules

WASHINGTON - (This July 18 2014 story was corrected to show that the Greenbrier executive estimate of tank car capacity to 30,300 gallons, not 33,000 gallons. Also corrects impact of new tank car design weight in paragraph 23.)

Two soldiers killed fighting for Israel grew up in U.S.

- Two American-raised men were among the 13 Israeli soldiers killed in the conflict in Gaza on Sunday, according to a U.S. Jewish organization and media reports, on the bloodiest day of the conflict, in which about 100 Palestinians were also killed.

Crews make progress in calming massive Washington state wildfire

SEATTLE - Firefighters made progress on Sunday slowing a massive wildfire in Washington state that has raged unchecked for nearly a week, destroying between 80 and 150 homes and charring a wide swath of wilderness east of the Cascade Mountains.

Illinois legalizes medical marijuana for children with seizures

- Illinois children and adults with epilepsy will soon be allowed to use marijuana to ease their symptoms under a law signed on Sunday by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, the latest in a series of measures loosening restrictions on cannabis by U.S. states.

Forty-five years after Apollo landing, U.S. debates next lunar step

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Forty-five years after the first Apollo lunar landing, the United States remains divided about the moon's role in future human space exploration.

Florida boy, 4, mauled to death by pit bulls, officials say

TAMPA Fla. - A 4-year-old Florida boy was mauled to death by two pit bulls at his uncle's home, said authorities on Sunday, who suggested the child may have let the dogs out of their cage to play with them.

In violent weekend, at least 40 people shot in Chicago

- An 11-year-girl was shot and killed during a slumber party as violence struck Chicago over the weekend, local media outlets reported on Sunday.

Crews make progress in calming massive Washington state wildfire

SEATTLE - A massive wildfire raging east of Washington state's Cascade Mountains showed some sign of calming Sunday, with fire crews saying they had slowed the expansion of a wind-whipped blaze that destroyed about 100 homes and displaced hundreds of people.

Scammers target families of illegal child immigrants to U.S.: FBI

SAN ANTONIO - U.S. officials warned on Sunday that scammers are attempting to prey on the families of some of the tens of thousands of unaccompanied child immigrants crossing the border from Latin America, seeking money for phony travel costs.

Washington state wildfire destroys 100 homes, hundreds evacuated

SEATTLE - A wildfire raging unchecked for a sixth day east of Washington state's Cascade Mountains has destroyed about 100 homes, displaced hundreds of residents and left thousands without electricity, emergency officials said on Saturday.

In U.S. gay marriage cases, children emerge in the limelight

WASHINGTON - With legal battles over gay marriage simmering across the United States, proponents are showcasing a group they had once sidelined: children.

Appeals court puts Arizona execution on hold over drugs details

PHOENIX - A U.S. appeals court on Saturday ordered the scheduled execution of an Arizona man condemned for killing of his ex-girlfriend and her father in 1989 be put on hold until the state provides more details about the lethal injection procedure he faces.

Florida jury awards $23 billion punitive damages against RJ Reynolds

ORLANDO Fla. - A Florida jury has awarded the widow of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer punitive damages of more than $23 billion in her lawsuit against the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the nation's second-biggest cigarette maker.

Florida jury awards $23 billion punitive damages against RJ Reynolds

ORLANDO Fla. - A Florida jury has awarded the widow of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer punitive damages of more than $23 billion in her lawsuit against the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the nation's second-biggest cigarette maker.

Kidnapped girl dead after Kansas shootout between police, suspect

KANSAS CITY - A 5-year-old Kansas girl who was kidnapped on Friday night died in a gun battle between police and her abductor following a high-speed chase, police said on Saturday.

Kidnapped girl dead after Kansas shootout between police, suspect

KANSAS CITY - A 5-year-old Kansas girl who was kidnapped on Friday night died in a gun battle between police and her abductor following a high-speed chase, police said on Saturday.

HIV diagnosis rate falls by a third in U.S.: researchers

WASHINGTON - The annual rate of diagnosis with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, fell by a third in the United States between 2002 and 2011, researchers reported on Saturday.

Nineteen hurt when ceiling collapses at Texas jail

- A ceiling at a Texas jail collapsed on Saturday, injuring 19 inmates, with one of those hurt airlifted to a Houston hospital, officials said.

HIV diagnosis rate falls by a third in U.S.: researchers

WASHINGTON - The annual rate of diagnosis with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, fell by a third in the United States between 2002 and 2011, researchers reported on Saturday.

Nineteen hurt when ceiling collapses at Texas jail

- A ceiling at a Texas jail collapsed on Saturday, injuring 19 inmates, with one of those hurt airlifted to a Houston hospital, officials said.

Florida police chief has no issue with dad who says he beat up son's sex attacker

- A Florida police chief has caused a media stir by saying he is looking the other way after a father severely beat a man he caught sexually assaulting his 11-year-old son.

Raging Washington state wildfire destroys 80 homes

SEATTLE - A fast moving wildfire burning east of Washington state’s Cascade Mountains destroyed some 80 homes and displaced hundreds of people on Friday as it scorched through parched vegetation and showed no sign of letting up, emergency officials said.

California tightens handgun restrictions

SACRAMENTO California - California has banned the sale of single-shot handguns that can be altered into semi-automatic weapons, handing a modest victory to proponents of tougher gun laws while striving to protect antique collectors.

California reviews fracking water disposal amid contamination concerns

SAN FRANCISCO - California on Friday said it would review wells where oil drilling waste water from the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is disposed to ensure they are not contaminating drinking water.

U.S. federal court throws out case against FAA's drone policy

- The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's informal email orders enforcing its drone policy are not legally binding, a federal court ruled in a case filed by a Texas group.

U.S. federal court throws out case against FAA's drone policy

- The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's informal email orders enforcing its drone policy are not legally binding, a federal court ruled in a case filed by a Texas group.

Obama to sign order Monday barring federal discrimination against gays

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will sign an executive order on Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, the White House said on Friday.

NYC doctor convicted of manslaughter for illegal prescriptions

NEW YORK - A New York City pain management doctor was convicted on Friday of manslaughter and other charges for selling narcotics prescriptions to 20 patients, including two who fatally overdosed.

Obama to meet Central America leaders, migrant numbers fall: officials

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will meet with the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador next week to discuss cooperation on the influx of child migrants from Central America into the United States, senior administration officials said on Friday.

Parents of former POW Bergdahl strained by his silence: friend

SALMON Idaho - Freed war prisoner Bowe Bergdahl has not yet reached out to his parents who campaigned hard for his freedom and who hold out hope he will eventually contact them once fully recovered from trauma inflicted by his Taliban captors, a family friend said on Friday.

Parents of former POW Bergdahl strained by his silence: friend

SALMON Idaho - Freed war prisoner Bowe Bergdahl has not yet reached out to his parents who campaigned hard for his freedom and who hold out hope he will eventually contact them once fully recovered from trauma inflicted by his Taliban captors, a family friend said on Friday.

Philadelphia mosque leaders try to cut off man's hand -police

PHILADELPHIA - Two men described as leaders of a Philadelphia mosque were accused of trying to cut off the hand of a suspected thief, whose wrist was sliced so deeply it required hospital treatment, police said on Friday.

Philadelphia mosque leaders try to cut off man's hand -police

PHILADELPHIA - Two men described as leaders of a Philadelphia mosque were accused of trying to cut off the hand of a suspected thief, whose wrist was sliced so deeply it required hospital treatment, police said on Friday.

New York mayor delays Italy trip by a day after backlash

NEW YORK - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will delay a 10-day trip to Italy by a day after a wave of criticism over taking the longest holiday outside the city by a mayor in over a decade.

Dump-truck driver charged in fatal crash into lake in New Jersey

- A dump-truck driver was charged on Friday with killing another driver after crashing into the back of a car at a red light in New Jersey, sending both vehicles into a lake, the local prosecutor said.

After U.S. deportation, a Honduran mother and daughter's uncertain fate

TEGUCIGALPA - When 9-year-old Genesis stepped off a plane in Honduras after being deported from the United States, she was excited at the thought of seeing her cousins. For her mother, Victoria Cordova, the homecoming was terrifying: she fears being killed if she does not repay money she owes the wife of a local gang leader.

Authorities identify mummified remains of woman in Detroit suburb

- A woman whose mummified remains were found in her garage in a Detroit suburb up to five years after her death has been identified through DNA tests, an official said on Friday.

Charges to be dropped for Arizona mother who left children in hot car

PHOENIX - Arizona prosecutors will drop child abuse charges against a woman who generated nationwide attention after leaving her two young sons in a hot car while she went on a job interview, authorities said on Friday.

Member of Eisenhower Memorial panel says troubled design is dead

WASHINGTON - A member of the commission overseeing construction of the Eisenhower Memorial said on Friday the controversial design by celebrity architect Frank Gehry should be scrapped.

U.S. Supreme Court grants Utah's appeal to stay gay marriage court order

- The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to a request from Utah for an emergency stay of an appeals court order that told the state to recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages performed there pending an appeal.

Obama to meet Central America leaders, migrant numbers fall: officials

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will meet with the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador next week to discuss cooperation on the influx of child migrants from Central America into the United States, senior administration officials said on Friday.

Oklahoma infant thought kidnapped found safe in Texas

- A 5-month-old Oklahoma girl who police initially said was abducted by a woman who had visions that the infant would be dead in two days has been found unharmed in west Texas, authorities said on Friday.

Same-sex marriage in limbo in Florida after judge strikes ban

TAMPA Fla. - Wedding bells may not be ringing anytime soon for gay couples in Florida, as conservatives vowed on Friday to fight a circuit judge's landmark ruling to strike down the state's same-sex marriage ban, a rising political issue for the fall elections.

NYC doctor convicted of manslaughter for illegal prescriptions

NEW YORK - A New York City pain management doctor was convicted on Friday of manslaughter and other charges for selling narcotics prescriptions to 20 patients, including two who fatally overdosed.

Accused Nazi camp guard tells U.S. court his service was involuntary

PHILADELPHIA - An 89-year-old man wanted in Germany for working as a concentration camp guard during World War Two said in court filings on Friday that he should not be deported because his service in the Waffen SS was involuntary.

Court orders Denver to stop issuing gay marriage licenses

DENVER - Colorado's Supreme Court ordered the Denver County clerk on Friday to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples pending the resolution of an appeal by the state's attorney general.

Maryland man killed while testing bulletproof vest

- A Maryland man faced murder charges on Friday after accidentally shooting his friend while testing out a bulletproof vest, a shooting reportedly recorded on a video camera.

U.S. Congress staffer arrested on weapons charge

WASHINGTON - A staff member for a Pennsylvania congressman was arrested on Friday after he tried to carry a handgun and magazine into a House of Representatives office building, U.S. Capitol Police said.

Man, allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes, dies after chokehold by NYC police

NEW YORK - A man, described as an asthmatic father of six, died after New York police tackled him in front of a beauty parlor and put him in a chokehold on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes.

Obama to sign order Monday barring federal discrimination against gays

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will sign an executive order on Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, senior administration officials said.

Texas Rangers names its first woman lieutenant

SAN ANTONIO - The Texas Rangers, the nearly 200-year-old law enforcement agency known for white cowboy hats and silver star badges, has named its first female lieutenant, officials said on Friday.

MS-13 gang members in New Jersey charged with racketeering, murder

NEWARK N.J. - Two men described by prosecutors as New Jersey members of MS-13, a street gang with turf stretching from Salvadorean prisons to U.S. coastal cities, were due to appear in a New Jersey federal court on Friday on charges of racketeering and murder conspiracy.

U.S. judges vote for early release of more than 46,000 drug offenders

WASHINGTON - A U.S. judiciary agency passed an amendment on Friday that will make more than 46,000 drug offenders eligible for early release from federal prison, unless Congress moves to block it.

Charges to be dropped for Arizona mother who left children in hot car

PHOENIX - Arizona prosecutors will drop child abuse charges against a woman who generated nationwide attention after leaving her two young sons in a hot car while she went on a job interview, authorities said on Friday.

With 1 million comments, U.S. net neutrality debate nears first marker

WASHINGTON - U.S. companies, consumer advocates and citizens submitted more than 1 million comments to the Federal Communications Commission, drawing contentious divisions on the issue of net neutrality as the first deadline to comment approached Friday.

Oil trains, born of U.S. energy boom, face test in new safety rules

WASHINGTON - North Dakota's Bakken oil patch has thrived thanks in large part to the once-niche business of hauling fuel on U.S. rail tracks. New safety rules may now test the oil train model.

Suspects charged in North Carolina theft of $10,000 dinosaur replica

RALEIGH N.C. - A man and woman caught on video swiping a baby dinosaur replica from a North Carolina museum have turned themselves in, and the roughly foot-long model valued at $10,000 was recovered, state officials said on Friday.

Tour bus crash in upstate New York kills one, injures others

NEW YORK - A commercial tour bus traveling from Canada rolled over on an upstate New York highway on Friday, killing at least one person and injuring several others, police said.

Appeals court upholds decision voiding Okla. gay marriage ban

- A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld a lower court decision voiding as unconstitutional Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage, drawing on a similar decision it made for Utah.

Indiana University doctoral student among Malaysia Air dead

- A Dutch doctoral student and former member of the Indiana University rowing team was among the nearly 300 passengers killed when a Malaysian airliner went down in Ukraine, the university said on Friday.

University of Connecticut in $1.2 million settlement deal on sex assault lawsuit

BOSTON - The University of Connecticut on Friday said it had reached a $1.2 million deal to settle a 2013 lawsuit filed by five current and former students charging that the school had mishandled claims of sexual assault and harassment.

Republican gaining on Democrat in Massachusetts governor's race: poll

BOSTON - A Republican former hospital executive has pulled into a statistical tie with Massachusetts' Democratic attorney general in the race to be the state's next governor, according to a Boston Globe poll released on Friday.

Four more charged with hate crimes tied to 2011 Mississippi slaying

JACKSON Miss. - Four white Mississippi residents pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to federal hate crime charges stemming from an attack on a black man run over by a truck and killed, in a case that has already yielded six convictions.

NYPD detective charged with filing fake crime tip for reward

NEW YORK - A New York police detective has been arrested and charged with filing a fake crime tip in an attempt to cash in on the $1,000 reward, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Truck driver arrested in death of officer in New Jersey crash

NEWARK N.J. - Prosecutors have charged a Brooklyn truck driver with second-degree vehicular homicide after his 18-wheeler left a road in New Jersey on Thursday and killed a police officer conducting speed checks from an unmarked car, officials said.

Mexican authorities identify body of missing New York man

MEXICO CITY - Mexican authorities said they had identified human remains found in two black plastic bags as a New York man who had disappeared in January while riding his motorcycle to Brazil for the World Cup, an official said on Thursday.

Three U.S. states sue 5-Hour Energy drink over advertising

- Oregon, Washington and Vermont sued the makers of 5-Hour Energy on Thursday for allegedly deceptive and misleading advertising, and said similar suits will follow in other states in the coming weeks.

Police find woman's severed head in bushes outside New York home

- Police found a woman's severed head in bushes outside a Long Island home on Thursday in an area where human body parts were discovered scattered last week, authorities said.

Jerry Sandusky's son recounts sexual abuse by his father

HARRISBURG Pa. - An adopted son of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky recounted to Oprah Winfrey in often graphic detail how the former Penn State University assistant football coach had molested him as a teenager in what became a "bedtime ritual."

Colorado issues kidnap alert for woman who claimed dying baby vision

DENVER - Officials in Colorado issued a child-abduction alert late on Thursday for a 5-month-old girl they said was kidnapped in Oklahoma by a woman described as claiming to have had a vision of the infant dying within two days.

U.S. hearing aid sales gain 6 percent in June, led by veterans: data

COPENHAGEN - The U.S. hearing aid market grew 6 percent year-on-year in June, driven by an increase in sales to Veterans Affairs (VA), a government program for military veterans, data from Bernstein Research showed on Friday.

Lower Manhattan economy taking off but many new jobs are low wage

New York - Lower Manhattan’s economy is set to take-off. New shopping centers, hotels and food courts are opening in the area that looked more like a war zone after the attacks on September 11, 2001.

U.S. judicial agency to vote on releasing federal prisoners early

WASHINGTON - More than 50,000 drug offenders may be released early from federal prison if a U.S. judiciary agency votes on Friday to change the nation's sentencing guidelines.

Twelve bodies found in Massachusetts storage unit, prosecutors say

BOSTON - An investigation into a former Massachusetts funeral-home operator has turned grisly, with authorities discovering 12 bodies at a storage unit outside Boston leased by the man, Joseph O'Donnell, authorities said.

Ex-Black Panther sentenced to 20 years for 1980s hijacking

MIAMI - A former member of the Black Panther Party who hijacked a commercial airplane and forced it to fly to Cuba nearly 30 years ago was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday by a federal judge in Florida.

Texans plead guilty to stealing more than 50,000 pieces of mail

AUSTIN Texas - Two Texans pleaded guilty to stealing more than 50,000 pieces of mail and then removing checks, credits cards and other items from letters that they turned into cash and merchandise, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.

Body discovered in area of Northern California wildfire

- A body has been discovered in an area where a wildfire allegedly started by a marijuana grower has charred 10,700 acres (4,330 hectares) in Northern California, officials said on Thursday.

Military did not support fixing Afghan exit date: U.S. commander

WASHINGTON - U.S. military officials would have preferred the United States not announce a date for ending its troop presence in Afghanistan, as the White House did in May, the outgoing commander of U.S. forces there said on Thursday.

Louisiana man pleads guilty in 1985 pet cemetery slaying

NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana man who had long been a suspect in the brutal 1985 slaying of woman at a secluded pet cemetery where he worked as a groundskeeper pleaded guilty on Friday to manslaughter in her death, authorities said.

Florida judge strikes down voter-approved same-sex marriage ban

MIAMI - A county judge in Florida struck down on Thursday the state's gay marriage ban, the latest in a string of court rulings across the United States voiding state laws that restrict the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Suit filed on behalf of woman seen punched by California Highway Patrol officer

LOS ANGELES - Attorneys filed a lawsuit on Thursday on behalf of a woman whose arrest was caught on video when a California Highway Patrol officer threw her to the ground beside a Los Angeles freeway and punched her, an incident that angered civil rights groups.

Opponents question signatures gathered by California breakup group

SACRAMENTO Calif. - Opponents of a long-shot plan to break California into six states demanded an investigation on Thursday into the signature-gathering techniques used by proponents trying to put their proposal before voters in 2016.

Jury ends second day of deliberations in trial of accused Boston bomber's friend

BOSTON - The jury weighing obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges against a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev adjourned after a second day of deliberations on Thursday.

Arizona authorities probe church fires as possible hate crimes

MESA Ariz. - Arizona authorities are probing a series of arson fires at suburban Phoenix churches as possible hate crimes after an apparent arsonist set Bibles alight on church doorsteps, police said on Thursday.

Pit bull alerts sleeping Indiana boy to fire

- An Indiana family's pit bull is being praised for alerting a deaf boy to a serious fire in his home by licking the sleeping boy's face until he woke up, authorities said.

Proposed ban on Russian arms firm would hurt U.S. troops: general

WASHINGTON - A day after President Barack Obama slapped sanctions on several Russian arms firms over the Ukraine conflict, a top U.S. general warned that a congressional bid to bar dealings with Moscow's main weapons exporter could be "catastrophic" for U.S. forces.

Threat rises in U.S. from mosquito-borne chikungunya virus

MIAMI - The first two locally acquired cases of a painful mosquito-borne viral illness, chikungunya, have been reported in Florida, the health officials confirmed on Thursday.

Washington state says marijuana brownies OK, but no lollipops

SEATTLE - Marijuana stores in Washington state can sell pot in cookies, brownies and other approved baked goods but cannot put the drug in candies, lollipops or food items that might appeal to children, according to newly released rules.

Decriminalized pot takes effect in District of Columbia

WASHINGTON - Marijuana decriminalization takes effect in the District of Columbia on Thursday, part of an easing of pot penalties in the U.S. capital that has drawn fire from Congress.

One dead, two injured in boat crash on popular Seattle lake

SEATTLE - One person was killed when a power boat slammed into a sailboat on a popular Seattle lake, scattering debris over a wide stretch of water, and the motorboat owner was facing criminal charges in the matter, police said on Thursday.

California bank robbers sought to kill police officers: chief

- Heavily armed bank robbers who took hostages and engaged police in a running gun battle during a high-speed chase across three Northern California communities were bent on killing officers, a police chief said on Thursday.

U.S. libraries become front line in fight against homelessness

WASHINGTON - George Brown, a homeless man in Washington, has a simple answer when asked how often he uses a public library.

Wisconsin man accused of hiding bodies in suitcases expected to enter plea

MILWAUKEE - A Wisconsin man accused of stuffing the bodies of two women in separate suitcases and dumping the luggage in a roadside ditch is expected to enter a plea in court on Thursday.

Magnitude 5.8 earthquake hits near Gulf of Alaska in Canada: USGS

WASHINGTON - A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck western Canada near the Gulf of Alaska early on Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

White House sees labor force dropouts getting back into the game

WASHINGTON - The White House said on Thursday it expects America's strengthening economy will temporarily halt the troubling decline in the share of workers who have jobs or are looking for one.

Young adults drive record U.S. trend of multi-generational homes

WASHINGTON - A record 57 million Americans, or 18.1 percent of the U.S. population, lived in households with two or more generations in 2012, with young adults leading the trend, a report said on Thursday.

Judge mulls timetable for redrawing Florida redistricting maps

TALLAHASSEE Fla - Lawyers for the Florida legislature's Republican leaders and county elections officers argued on Thursday that a judge who threw out their 2012 congressional redistricting plan could not require that boundaries be redrawn in time for the November elections.

Gay, married church worker sues Missouri Catholic diocese for firing

KANSAS CITY Mo. - A Missouri church worker sued the Catholic diocese in Kansas City on Thursday claiming she was wrongfully fired from her salaried position as a pastoral associate after her marriage to another woman was mentioned in a local newspaper.

Kentucky man charged with pizza prank at police station

- A Kentucky man already charged with shoplifting beer added to his troubles when he made a prank call from the police station to order five pizzas, police said on Thursday.

Transgender sibling of NBA player found slain in Baltimore

- A transgender woman whose brother is an National Basketball Association player has been found slain in a Baltimore alley, police said on Thursday.

New York transit strike averted, two labor unions say

- A threatened strike on New York's Long Island Rail Road has been averted after a tentative contract agreement was reached on Thursday, two of the labor unions involved in the negotiations said on their websites.

Homeless man pleads not guilty in Arizona priest killing

PHOENIX - An Arizona homeless man and convicted felon pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of killing a priest and beating another pastor with a metal pipe at a Phoenix church, court officials said.

Buckyball magnetic toys recalled, ending legal fight

WASHINGTON - Magnetic toys called Buckyballs, which can be swallowed and have been blamed for numerous injuries, are being recalled at the end of a years-long legal fight, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Thursday.

Florida judge strikes down voter-approved same-sex marriage ban

MIAMI - A Florida judge on Thursday struck down the state's gay marriage ban, the latest in a string of court rulings across the United States voiding state laws that restrict the right to marry.

Man jailed in Detroit mob beating needed father -judge

- A judge on Thursday told a man who pleaded guilty to being part of a mob assault on a motorist in Detroit that he had needed a father "to beat the hell out of you" and then sentenced the defendant to six months in jail.

Israeli-Palestinian clash echoed on University of California council

SAN FRANCISCO - A student with strong ties to Israel was appointed to the governing council of the University of California Wednesday amid debate similar to that which arose last year after the Board of Regents chose a Muslim student active in Palestinian causes.

Four more charged with hate crimes tied to 2011 Mississippi slaying

JACKSON Miss. - Four white Mississippi residents pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to federal hate crime charges stemming from an attack on a black man run over by a truck and killed, in a case that has already yielded six convictions.

Fight over human trafficking law jeopardizes U.S. response to border crisis

WASHINGTON - U.S. Democratic lawmakers' deep resistance to changing a 2008 law that combats human trafficking threatened on Wednesday to slow the government's response to a surge of 57,000 undocumented Central American children across the southern border.

U.S. beauty pageant winner sues after being stripped of crown

- A beauty pageant winner who was stripped of her Miss Delaware crown for being a few months too old is suing the Miss America organization, saying officials knew her age and disqualified her unfairly, court documents filed on Wednesday show.

San Diego strippers say cops photographed them in the nude

SAN DIEGO - Thirty strippers in the San Diego area filed a lawsuit against the San Diego Police Department on Wednesday, saying they were forced to be photographed while nude or nearly nude while officers claimed to be inspecting the clubs where they worked.

Attorney says Bergdahl grateful to Obama for freedom

SALMON Idaho - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is grateful to President Barack Obama for the prisoner exchange that freed him from five years as a captive of the Taliban and wishes for privacy concerning family matters, his attorney said on Wednesday.

Romanian princess admits running cockfighting ring in Oregon

PORTLAND Ore. - A Romanian princess and her husband pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one charge of running an illegal gambling operation for their involvement in a cockfighting ring in rural Oregon. 

Utah asks Supreme Court to stay ruling on recognizing gay marriages

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah's attorney general asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday for an emergency stay of an order by an appeals court to recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages performed in the state pending an appeal.

Suspect, hostage die in police shootout with California bank robbers

- A suspected bank robber and a female hostage died on Wednesday in a shootout with California police after a car chase sparked by a bank robbery in which thieves seized three women as hostages, firing assault rifles as they fled.

Plane's near-miss in Alaska becomes a whale of a tale online

JUNEAU Alaska - A dramatic video of a sea plane just missing a surfacing humpback whale as it came in to land in Alaska has become a hit online, and the man who shot it says it was blind luck.

Florida teen detained in Israeli-Palestinian conflict returns home

TAMPA Fla - A Florida teenager who was detained in Israel and apparently beaten by police returned home on Wednesday, eager to seek medical care and put behind him a summer trip that drew renewed world attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Top GM lawyer, Delphi CEO to face Senate on deadly ignition flaw

WASHINGTON - Two more major figures in General Motors Co's safety debacle will appear on Thursday for the first time before U.S. lawmakers investigating why it took the automaker more than 10 years to recall millions of vehicles with a deadly ignition switch flaw.

Wildfire prompts evacuation of nearly 900 Washington state homes

SEATTLE - Wildfires stoked by high winds and dry, hot weather threatened homes and businesses across parts of Washington state on Wednesday, with nearly 900 dwellings evacuated near the Bavarian-style village of Leavenworth in the Cascade mountains.

Trial starts for Texas stepmother accused of starving boy to death

DALLAS - Lawyers for a Texas woman accused of starving her 10-year-old stepson to death and dumping his body in a creek bed told a court at the start of her trial on Wednesday that she was trying to protect the child from his father.

New York's MTA, unions to continue talks Thursday to avert strike

NEW YORK - The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and unions representing 5,400 workers on the Long Island Rail Road will continue talks to avert a strike that may affect hundreds of thousands of commuters, both sides said on Wednesday.

New York's MTA, unions to continue talks Thursday to avert strike

NEW YORK - The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and unions representing 5,400 workers on the Long Island Rail Road will continue talks to avert a strike that may affect hundreds of thousands of commuters, both sides said on Wednesday.

Colorado judge proposes new trial date for accused theater gunman

DENVER - A Colorado judge overseeing the murder case against accused theater gunman James Holmes proposed on Wednesday that jury selection begin in December for the trial that has already been postponed three times, a court filing shows.

Funeral held for six killed in Texas family shooting

HOUSTON - Hundreds of mourners heard relatives share pleasant memories on Wednesday at the funeral of six family members, including four children, who were shot dead execution-style in their suburban Houston home last week.

Couple sought in North Carolina theft of $10,000 dinosaur replica

RALEIGH N.C. - North Carolina police said on Wednesday they were looking for a man and woman caught on video pilfering a duck-billed dinosaur replica valued at $10,000 from a state science museum.

New York's MTA, unions to continue talks Thursday to avert strike

NEW YORK - The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and unions representing 5,400 workers on the Long Island Rail Road will continue talks to avert a strike that would cripple the nation's largest commuter railway, both sides said on Wednesday.

Missouri executes convicted triple murderer

- After a nearly day-long delay amid a flurry of final appeals, Missouri on Wednesday put to death a convicted triple murderer who had argued that he was innocent and suffered from mental incompetence.

U.S. Air Force seeking bids to launch spy satellite

CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. - The U.S. Air Force released the first of up to eight solicitations for space launch services outside of its controversial, exclusive, multibillion-dollar agreement with United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Colorado sues two foreclosure law firms for fraud

DENVER - Colorado's attorney general has sued the state's two largest foreclosure law firms, accusing them of defrauding homeowners, investors and taxpayers by padding costs and expenses, court documents made public on Wednesday show.

U.S. judge imposes lighter sentences on Britons who supported Taliban

NEW HAVEN Conn. - A U.S. judge on Wednesday sentenced two British nationals to far shorter prison sentences than prosecutors were seeking after the men pleaded guilty in December to supporting Muslim militants through print and online publications.

N.Y. fish dealer pleads guilty to underreporting fluke

NEW YORK - A Long Island fish dealer pleaded guilty in federal court in New York on Wednesday to falsifying records by underreporting the amount of fluke it handled, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.

U.S. Justice Department says investigating lost IRS emails

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday confirmed it is investigating the loss of Internal Revenue Service emails being sought by congressional Republicans in an inquiry over tax scrutiny of conservative political groups.

Third victim dies after Florida baseball bat beating

ORLANDO Fla. - A third victim in an unexplained beating by a man wielding a baseball bat died on Wednesday in central Florida, according to local media.

Utah woman rescued after being trapped for 12 hours in quicksand

SALT LAKE CITY - A 78-year-old Utah woman was stuck in quicksand for more than 12 hours before sheriff's deputies found her on a trail in the dark near Arches National Park, authorities said on Wednesday.

U.S. Treasury urges Congress to act on corporate tax dodge deals

- Calling for a new sense of "economic patriotism," U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urged Congress on Wednesday to take steps quickly to discourage U.S. companies from moving their tax domiciles abroad to avoid federal taxes.

Pennsylvania jury: Brothers must split $1 million lottery loot

CARLISLE Pa. - A Pennsylvania jury decided on Wednesday that two estranged half brothers must equally divide the winnings from a $1 million lottery ticket after one of them claimed he deserved all the money and the other insisted he was due half of it.

Legal disputes over debt plan aired in Detroit bankruptcy case

DETROIT - Detroit's historic bankruptcy case on Wednesday moved on to legal issues underpinning the city's debt adjustment plan, including locking in pension changes for 10 years.

U.S. Senate Democrats' Hobby Lobby bill fails to move forward

WASHINGTON - An attempt by U.S. Senate Democrats to override the Supreme Court's controversial birth control ruling failed to muster enough votes to move forward on Wednesday, but lawmakers vowed to keep pressing the issue heading into the midterm elections.

U.S. judge sentences Tunisian accused of link to Canada train plot to time served

NEW YORK - A Tunisian man who prosecutors said had ties to a man accused of unsuccessfully plotting to derail a Canada-U.S. passenger train was sentenced by a U.S. judge to time served on Wednesday after pleading guilty last month to immigration charges.

Chicago archdiocese seeking to help child immigrants

CHICAGO - Roman Catholic officials in Chicago want to provide services, which may include housing, to undocumented immigrant children who have been pouring into the United States in recent months, church officials said on Wednesday.

U.S. nurse refuses to force feed Guantanamo Bay detainees

WASHINGTON - A U.S. military nurse at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has declined to participate in the force feeding of inmates on hunger strikes, becoming the first conscientious objector to the practice there, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

Florida airport staff get lesson in nation's geography

ORLANDO Fla. - Federal security officers at Orlando International Airport were getting a geography lesson this week after one failed to recognize the nation’s capital as part of the United States.

Pennsylvania lawmaker portraits to include criminal history

- Visitors to the portrait gallery at the Pennsylvania state Capitol in Harrisburg will see more than simple images of the state's past lawmakers - new plaques unveiled on Tuesday include a listing of any well-known criminal history as well.

Sugar rush at ethanol plant fuels fight with Nebraska corn farmers

CHICAGO - An ethanol plant in Nebraska corn country is pumping out fuel made from sugar beets, and corn farmers are suing to stop it - a small-town dispute that offers an unusual take on the debate over the market-distorting impact of sugar and corn subsidies.

U.S. judge stays execution of convicted triple murderer in Missouri

- A United States judge has halted the execution of a former methamphetamine dealer who was convicted of murdering three people with ties to the drug trade who he feared would inform on him to police.

Tocco, believed to be longest-serving U.S. mob boss, dies in Detroit

- Jack Tocco, believed to be the longest-serving mob boss in the United States and the last living person with first-hand knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the death of Jimmy Hoffa, has died aged 87.

Campaign to break California into six states submits signatures

SACRAMENTO Calif. - The billionaire backer of a long-shot effort to break California into six separate states submitted signatures to state officials on Tuesday aimed at putting his proposal before voters in 2016.

Attorney says former U.S. POW Bergdahl grateful to Obama for freedom

- U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is grateful to President Barack Obama for the prisoner exchange that freed him from five years as a captive of the Taliban, his attorney said on Wednesday.

Commercial U.S. cargo ship reaches space station

CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. - An Orbital Sciences Corp cargo ship reached the International Space Station on Wednesday with a delivery of food, supplies, science experiments and a fleet of tiny Earth-imaging satellites that will be launched from the orbital outpost.

Patio chairs recalled after U.S. reports of rear legs breaking

WASHINGTON - Nantucket Distributing Co is recalling about 4,000 patio set chairs after reports that the back legs could break and people could fall, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Wednesday.

Prosecutors say friend wanted to help accused Boston bomber

BOSTON - U.S. prosecutors argued that a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wanted to help Tsarnaev when he took evidence from his dorm room, while a defense attorney described him as a college kid who did not understand what he was doing.

Arizona politician mistakes campers for migrant children: report

- An Arizona congressional candidate at a protest mistook a busload of YMCA campers for undocumented immigrant children on Tuesday, according to a report on The Arizona Republic website, azcentral.com.

Casino boat stuck overnight on rocks off Georgia coast

ATLANTA - A casino boat with 123 people aboard was grounded off the Georgia coast on Wednesday, and rescuers were waiting for high tide at midday to escort passengers off the vessel, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

U.S. veterans agency needs $17.6 billion to clear wait times: acting head

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs needs $17.6 billion in additional funding over the next three years to eliminate long waiting times for veterans' healthcare appointments, the embattled agency's acting chief said on Wednesday.

Accused prostitute pleads not guilty in heroin death of Google executive

SANTA CRUZ Calif. - An accused prostitute charged with killing a Google executive by injecting him with a fatal dose of heroin on his yacht off the California coast pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and her attorney said she has been unfairly demonized in the case.

U.S. lawmakers press CDC chief over 'dangerous pattern' of lapses

WASHINGTON - U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday faulted a "dangerous pattern" of safety lapses at government laboratories handling deadly pathogens such as anthrax and avian flu, calling for an overhaul of controls at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Detroit Institute of Arts secures $26.8 million for bankruptcy bargain

- The Detroit Institute of Arts said on Wednesday it has secured another $26.8 million in pledged donations to cover its portion of the "grand bargain" intended to help Detroit emerge from bankruptcy while sparing a sale of the museum's art works.

Texas actress sentenced to 18 years for ricin-laced letter to Obama

TEXARKANA Texas - A Texas actress was sentenced to 18 years in a federal prison on Wednesday for mailing the toxic agent ricin in letters to President Barack Obama, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a gun control advocate.

Has telecommuting blunted power of potential New York rail strike?

NEW YORK - For decades, it's been the mightiest weapon in the transit union's arsenal, enough to cripple commerce and bring governments to their knees. But has the age of telecommuting taken the edge off the transit strike?

Massachusetts lawmakers take up bill on abortion clinic buffer zones

BOSTON - Massachusetts lawmakers took up consideration on Wednesday of a bill to limit protests around abortion clinics after the U.S. Supreme Court last month struck down an earlier law that kept demonstrators at least 35 feet (9 meters) from clinic entrances.

U.S. appeals court lifts stay of execution for Missouri inmate

- A U.S. appeals court has vacated a stay of execution for a triple murderer and ruled that Missouri can proceed with plans to execute him Wednesday night.

Funeral to be held for six killed in Texas family shooting

HOUSTON - A funeral service is planned on Wednesday for six members of a Texas family shot dead execution-style in their home last week, a killing spree that prompted shock and sorrow in their suburban Houston community of Spring.

South Carolina man kidnapped by suspected drug traffickers found: FBI

CHARLESTON S.C. - A South Carolina man taken hostage last week in an elaborate kidnapping plot has been rescued, and three people suspected of having ties to a Mexican drug trafficking ring were arrested in the abduction, U.S. authorities said on Wednesday.

Jury to settle Pennsylvania brothers' fight over lottery loot

CARLISLE Pa. - A Pennsylvania jury on Wednesday began deliberating whether two estranged brothers must split the winnings from a $1 million lottery ticket, or whether one gets to keep it all.

U.S. judge sentences Briton to 12-1/2 years for supporting Taliban

NEW HAVEN Conn. - A U.S. judge on Wednesday sentenced a British national to 12-1/2 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in December to running a website and distributing publications that promoted violence and raised money for Muslim militants.

Federal judge rules California's death penalty system unconstitutional

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California's system for imposing and carrying out the death penalty is so long and drawn-out that it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

Federal judge rules California's death penalty system unconstitutional

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California's system for imposing and carrying out the death penalty is so long and drawn-out that it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

Half brothers fight over lottery winnings in Pennsylvania court

CARLISLE Pa. - Two estranged half brothers faced off on Tuesday in a Pennsylvania court in a fight over a winning million-dollar lottery ticket.

Connecticut man accused of stabbing watermelon as threat to wife

- A Connecticut man faces charges of threatening his wife after stabbing a large butcher's knife through a watermelon and leaving it on the kitchen table for her to see, authorities said on Tuesday.

Atheist to open meeting in N.Y. town at center of prayer case

NEW YORK - An atheist will deliver the first non-religious invocation at a town board meeting in Greece, New York, on Tuesday evening after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the town's practice of opening its meetings with a Christian prayer was constitutional.

New York's MTA to publish LIRR offer in newspaper, radio ads Wednesday

NEW YORK - New York's transit agency will publicize the details of its contract offer to Long Island Rail Road workers in newspaper and radio advertisements on Wednesday, the agency said, in an effort to pressure unions to call off a looming strike.

U.S. urges stiff sentences for Britons who recruited for al Qaeda

NEW HAVEN Conn. - U.S. prosecutors urged a judge on Tuesday to impose the maximum sentences for two British men who pleaded guilty in December to running a website and distributing publications that promoted violence and raised money for al Qaeda.

U.S. woman rescued at sea with family sues satellite phone company

SAN DIEGO - A U.S. woman rescued with her family from a Pacific Ocean sailboat after her infant daughter became ill has filed suit against her satellite phone company for cutting off service, a move she said led the family to seek an emergency rescue and ultimately to scuttle their boat, her lawyers said on Tuesday.

Pennsylvania boys choir head pleads guilty to child sex assault

- A Pennsylvania boys choir director has pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a child and possessing child pornography and faces more than a decade in prison, authorities said on Tuesday.

U.S. House passes $10.9 billion transportation funding extension

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a $10.9 billion extension of U.S. transportation funding through May 2015, a measure aimed at averting cutbacks in August in federal money for road, bridge and transit projects.

Maryland insurance executive plotted to kill judge: court documents

ANNAPOLIS Md. - A Maryland executive charged with lying to insurance regulators was allegedly plotting to kill a judge handling his case, according to federal court documents.

Court upholds University of Texas affirmative action plan

- A federal appeals court upheld the use of race by University of Texas at Austin in undergraduate admissions, a victory for affirmative action proponents, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered closer scrutiny of the school's practices.

California high court softens 'three strikes' law

SACRAMENTO Calif. - (This July 11, 2014, story was corrected in paragraph 6 to show courts, not the state, could reconsider cases )

Dozens of trains haul volatile Bakken oil to NY weekly: railroads

- As many as 44 trains loaded with volatile Bakken crude oil are being sent through the state of New York each week, according to confidential disclosures made by railroads to state emergency responders, and released to Reuters through a Freedom of Information Law request.

U.S. court sides with Chinese firm in dispute with Obama

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court on Tuesday delivered a surprising rebuke to U.S. President Barack Obama, saying he deprived a small Chinese-owned company of its right to due process when he squashed its bid to build wind farms near a U.S. naval site.

U.S. business inventories up, retail stocks rise modestly

WASHINGTON - U.S. business inventories rose in May, suggesting restocking will still be a boost to growth in the second quarter even as stocks at non-automobile retailers rose marginally.

U.S. officials purge biosafety board in midst of anthrax crisis

NEW YORK - Federal officials, amid the worst U.S. biosafety crisis in years, have dismissed 11 eminent scientists from a 23-member panel that advises the government on what research on pathogens is too dangerous to conduct.

Judge finds accused Boston bomber friend's words to FBI voluntary

BOSTON - A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bombing suspect did not speak involuntarily when telling FBI agents about the removal of a laptop and backpack from the suspect's room and his statements are admissible as evidence, a U.S. judge said on Tuesday.

U.S. court sides with Chinese firm in dispute with Obama

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court on Tuesday issued a surprising rebuke to U.S. President Barack Obama and said he deprived a small Chinese-owned firm of its right to due process when he squashed its bid to build wind farms close to a U.S. naval training site.

Washington state bridge collapse result of failed safety measures: NTSB

SEATTLE - A Washington state bridge collapse that sent two cars tumbling into a frigid river below after a commercial truck accidentally struck an overhead truss was the result of failed safety precautions and inadequate permitting for oversize loads, federal investigators said on Tuesday.

Long Island rail strike may cost economy $50 million/day: N.Y. comptroller

NEW YORK - A strike by workers at New York's Long Island Rail Road could cost $50 million a day in lost economic activity, a blow for a region still overcoming the effects of the recession and Superstorm Sandy, the state's top financial watchdog said on Tuesday.

Two people killed in Pennsylvania house explosion

- Two people died in an early morning house explosion on Tuesday in a rural area of western Pennsylvania, local emergency officials said.

San Diego City Council votes to raise minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017

LOS ANGELES - The San Diego City Council has given tentative approval to an ordinance raising the minimum wage in California's second-largest city to $11.50 by 2017, and giving workers a chance to earn a paid sick leave benefit.

Female firefighter is first to muscle into FDNY beefcake calendar

NEW YORK - The Fire Department of New York's annual celebration of beefcake just added a slice of cheesecake.

Old-style U.S. public pensions weather cost-cutting storm

NEW YORK - Retirement payouts for 19.3 million U.S. state and local government workers in coming years are not likely to look much different from the iron-clad pensions that former teachers and police now get.

Arizona town protests arrival of undocumented migrants

ORACLE Ariz. - Waving U.S. flags and playing patriotic music, dozens of protesters demonstrated in southern Arizona on Tuesday against the arrival of undocumented immigrants for processing at a center near the border before being returned to their homelands.

Yellen defends loose Fed policy, says job market still too weak

WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said U.S. labor markets are far from healthy and signaled the Fed will keep monetary policy loose until hiring and wage data show the effects of the financial crisis are "completely gone."

Immigration activist Vargas detained at airport in Texas

AUSTIN Texas - Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented immigrant and prominent immigration activist, was detained at an airport in McAllen, Texas, on Tuesday as he went through a security checkpoint, rights groups said.

Two former Utah attorneys general arrested for corruption

SALT LAKE CITY - FBI agents arrested two former Utah attorneys general at their homes on Tuesday and charged them pair with felonies stemming from a two-year investigation into claims of bribery and corruption, prosecutors said.

U.S. says return of Honduran women, children sends message in border crisis

WASHINGTON/TEGUCIGALPA - The U.S. government's deportation on Monday of a group of Honduran women and children should be seen by Central America as a message that President Barack Obama is serious when he says illegal migrants will be sent home, the White House said.

Ex-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin files notice of appeal in corruption case

NEW ORLEANS - Disgraced former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin filed a notice of appeal on Tuesday in a corruption case stemming from the critical years of rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005.

U.S. judge stays Missouri execution of convicted killer

- A federal judge in Missouri on Tuesday stayed the impending execution of a 54-year-old man convicted of three drug-related murders after the inmate's lawyers lodged a series of appeals, including arguments he is mentally incompetent and innocent.

Three women avoid prison in NYC payroll fraud case

NEW YORK - Three women avoided prison on Tuesday for crimes stemming from a massive fraud and kickback scheme involving a New York City payroll project that prosecutors say pushed its costs to $700 million.

Government report finds 2.3 percent of Americans gay or bisexual

- U.S. government data released on Tuesday showed that 2.3 percent of American adults are either gay or bisexual and that these men and women more often reported serious anxiety and having self-destructive habits than their straight peers.

Man killed in front of son in California freeway shooting

LOS ANGELES - A blast of gunfire killed an automobile mechanic and wounded a cousin who was driving him home from work as their teenage sons sat behind the two men in a Southern California freeway shooting that has left police searching for suspects and a motive.

California drought expected to cost state $2.2 billion in losses

SAN FRANCISCO - California’s drought is expected to cost the state an estimated $2.2 billion this year, along with a loss of more than 17,000 jobs, as farmers are forced to fallow some valuable crops, a report by scientists at the University of California in Davis showed on Tuesday.

Ex-Minnesota governor was rolling on ground-Navy SEAL

ST. PAUL Minn. - A Navy SEAL told a court on Tuesday he saw former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura on his back outside a bar in 2006, although he did not see if he had been struck by a former Navy SEAL accused of fabricating an altercation with Ventura.

Seattle eases limit on ridesharing companies

SEATTLE - Seattle lawmakers eased limits on ridesharing companies on Monday, handing a victory to a nascent industry that has emerged in scores of cities to compete with traditional taxis.

Decades to justice for Florida man on death row for 1985 murder

TAMPA Fla. - From his cell on Florida's death row, Paul Hildwin has spent 28 years fighting for his life, waiting between cancer treatments for the state to acknowledge decade-old DNA evidence supporting his claims of innocence.

Norfolk Southern train derails in Virginia, no injuries

- A Norfolk Southern Corp train hauling vehicles and nail polish derailed on Monday evening in southwestern Virginia, though there were no injuries or hazardous material spilled, county and company officials said.

Prominent outsider seeks rerun of Mississippi U.S. Senate primary

- The prominent head of a political action committee has filed a complaint seeking a possible rerun of last month’s Mississippi U.S. Senate Republican primary race, which Tea Party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel lost amid accusations of illegal voting, an attorney said Monday.

Oklahoma lawmaker wants quarantine of migrant children housed in state

OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma state lawmaker called on Monday for the quarantine of unaccompanied immigrant children housed at an Oklahoma military base, but U.S. health officials said such a move was unnecessary.

Man dies after jumping into bonfire at Utah festival

SALT LAKE CITY - Police in Utah are investigating after a man killed himself by jumping into a 30-foot (9-meter) bonfire during an arts and culture festival on the weekend in the desert west of Salt Lake City, local media reported.

Man dies after jumping into bonfire at Utah festival

SALT LAKE CITY - Police in Utah are investigating after a man killed himself by jumping into a 30-foot (9-meter) bonfire during an arts and culture festival on the weekend in the desert west of Salt Lake City, local media reported.

Ex-Minnesota governor says TV career halted by sniper's claims

ST. PAUL Minn. - Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura told a court on Monday his annual income dropped sharply after his reputation was damaged by what he called a fictitious passage in a book by a former Navy SEAL who said the two had gotten in a bar fight.

U.S. court partly overturns Guantanamo conviction of al Qaeda publicist

NEW YORK - A U.S. appeals court on Monday partially overturned the Guantanamo war crimes conviction of an al Qaeda publicist, saying a military commission lacked authority to convict him on two of three charges.

U.S. pushes for prison for Tunisian accused of train plot link

NEW YORK - U.S. prosecutors pushed Monday for a hefty sentence for a Tunisian man accused of ties to an unsuccessful plot to derail a Canada-U.S. passenger train who agreed last month to a plea deal that included no terrorism charges.

Nevada rancher Bundy says son will submit himself for arrest

- A Nevada rancher who was at the center of an armed standoff with federal rangers in a fight over cattle said his son will submit himself for arrest on Monday on a warrant alleging he violated terms of his probation on theft charges.

Missouri governor vetoes bill allowing schools to designate armed officers

- Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill on Monday that would have allowed public school districts to designate certain teachers and administrators as armed protection officers.

Billionaire's breakup plan would chop California into six states

San Francisco - A long-shot effort to break California into six separate states got a boost on Monday, when the billionaire venture capitalist behind the proposal said he had gathered enough signatures to place it on the ballot in two years.

First U.S. flight deports Honduran kids under fast-track push

SAN PEDRO SULA Honduras - The United States deported a group of Honduran children as young as 1-1/2 years old on Monday in the first flight since President Barack Obama pledged to speed up the process of sending back illegal immigrant minors from Central America.

Ravens cornerback arrested, giving Baltimore dubious NFL distinction

ANNAPOLIS Md. - The starting cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens was arrested over the weekend, authorities said, giving the professional football franchise the highest arrest record in the National Football League since last season.

Federal officer under scrutiny for firing gun during L.A. protest

LOS ANGELES - Four people have been arrested and a Homeland Security officer is under investigation for firing his weapon during a weekend scuffle between pro-Israel demonstrators and Palestinian supporters outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles.

Dallas Fed's Fisher a top candidate for University of Texas chancellor: report

WASHINGTON - Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher, one of the Fed's most ardent policy hawks, is a top candidate to be the next chancellor of the University of Texas, the Dallas Morning News said on Monday.

Louisiana man accused of killing girlfriend, taking kids, caught in Texas

NEW ORLEANS - A man accused of killing his girlfriend in a New Orleans suburb over the weekend before fleeing with his three children was arrested on Monday in a trailer park in Texas, where the children were recovered unharmed, authorities said.

George W. Bush has partial knee replacement on left leg

WASHINGTON - Former U.S. President George W. Bush has undergone surgery for a partial replacement of his left knee, six weeks after having a similar procedure on his right knee, his spokesman said on Monday.

Son of Dead Sea Scrolls expert sentenced for impersonating scholars

NEW YORK - A disbarred attorney who admitted assuming the identities of scholars in an Internet debate over the Dead Sea Scrolls was sentenced on Monday to two months in jail for charges including criminal impersonation and forgery, prosecutors said.

California's 'Octomom' pleads no contest to welfare fraud

- The California mother of 14 dubbed "Octomom" after she took fertility medication and gave birth to octuplets pleaded no contest in Los Angeles on Monday to welfare fraud and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service, officials said.

Oregon wildfire forces evacuations, destroys structures

PORTLAND Ore. - A fast-growing wildfire in south-central Oregon has forced more than 100 people to evacuate their homes and destroyed structures, officials said on Monday.

NY transit official says talks end ahead of threatened rail strike

NEW YORK - The head of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority said on Monday a "big gulf" between union and management proposals has scuttled contract talks ahead of a possible July 20 Long Island Rail Road strike.

Anti-fracking protesters arrested in U.S. capital

WASHINGTON - Two dozen protesters were arrested in Washington on Monday while demonstrating against hydraulic fracturing and the U.S. gas industry's push to sell "fracked" liquefied natural gas abroad.

Apollo says DoE to review federal aid at University of Phoenix

- Apollo Education Group said the U.S. Department of Education will review the University of Phoenix's administration of federal student financial aid programs.

Long Island rail strike set for Sunday after talks break down

NEW YORK - Talks to avert a Long Island Rail Road strike broke down on Monday and the unions representing workers at the country's largest commuter railroad said they were proceeding with plans to strike on Sunday.

German woman charged in Los Angeles with trying to extort Saudi sheikh

LOS ANGELES - A German woman who falsely claimed she was raped and tortured by the son of a Saudi sheikh in Los Angeles was charged on Monday with trying to extort at least $15 million from one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest men, prosecutors said.

Manager of New Jersey diner pleads guilty in murder for hire plot

NEWARK N.J. - A former manager of the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, New Jersey, pleaded guilty on Monday to hiring a hit man to murder his uncle, who co-owns the popular eatery, prosecutors said.

Online campaign raises nearly $300,000 for Texas shooting survivor

DALLAS - An online campaign has raised nearly $300,000 for Cassidy Stay, the teenage survivor of a shooting attack in suburban Houston last week in which her parents and four siblings were killed.

Egypt added to Obama's Africa Summit list

WASHINGTON - Egypt has been invited by the United States to attend next month's African leaders summit in Washington, a White House spokesman said on Monday, reversing a decision not to let Egypt participate.

Ohio hiker collapses and dies on popular Grand Canyon trail

PHOENIX - A 47-year-old Ohio man collapsed and died while hiking a popular trail in the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, a park official said on Monday.

Judge backs Denver County clerk over gay marriage licenses

DENVER - A Colorado judge who ruled last week that the state's ban on same-sex nuptials was unconstitutional refused on Monday to stop the Denver County clerk from giving out marriage licenses to gay couples, court records show.

Giant two-pound African snails seized at Los Angeles airport

LOS ANGELES - U.S. customs inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport seized a shipment of several dozen live giant African snails, considered a delicacy in Nigeria but also voracious pests that can eat paint and stucco off houses, officials said on Monday.

U.S. pushes for prison for Tunisian accused of train plot link

NEW YORK - U.S. prosecutors pushed Monday for a hefty sentence for a Tunisian man accused of ties to an unsuccessful plot to derail a Canada-U.S. passenger train who agreed last month to a plea deal that included no terrorism charges.

U.S. Veterans agency struggles with claims problems: watchdog

WASHINGTON - Still reeling from the scandal over healthcare delays, the Department of Veterans Affairs also is struggling to reduce a backlog of disability claims, the agency's inspector general said on Monday.

First U.S. flight deports Honduran kids under fast-track drive

SAN PEDRO SULA Honduras - The United States deported a group of Honduran children on Monday in the first flight since President Barack Obama pledged to speed up the process of sending back illegal immigrant children from Central America.

Panama Canal cost overrun claim headed to Miami arbitration court

MIAMI - A $180 million claim involving the Panama Canal's disputed $1.6 billion cost overrun is headed to arbitration court in Miami next week, canal officials said on Monday.

Former POW Bergdahl set to return to U.S. Army active duty: reports

WASHINGTON - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was set to return to regular active duty status as early as Monday, having completed therapy and counseling following his return from captivity in Afghanistan, according to reports.

FBI agent to testify against friend of accused Boston bomber

BOSTON - An FBI agent who interrogated a friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber charged with obstructing the investigation into the blasts was expected to testify on Monday as the second week of the trial begins.

Ex-Minnesota governor to resume testifying in defamation trial

ST. PAUL Minn. - Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura was expected to return to the witness stand on Monday at his defamation trial accusing a former Navy SEAL sniper of making up an encounter at a bar in 2006 described in a best-selling book.

Disney World monorail in Florida evacuated, no injuries: TV news

- About 120 passengers aboard a monorail at Walt Disney World monorail in Florida had to be evacuated on Sunday due to a weather-related power outage, the company and local news reports said.

How to fix U.S. biosecurity leaks? Close some labs

In the wake of disclosures that top government labs mishandled anthrax, smallpox and avian flu, U.S. health authorities are considering the once unthinkable: cutting the burgeoning number of labs working with the planet's most dangerous microbes.

Pot farmer charged with starting California wildfire

NEW YORK - A 37-year-old man accused of starting a raging wildfire in Northern California while tending to his marijuana farm was arrested and in custody, fire officials said on Sunday.

'Excessive' rubbing of engine blades caused F-35 failure: Pentagon

LONDON - The engine failure that has grounded the entire fleet of Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets was caused by "excessive" rubbing of fan blades in the plane's Pratt & Whitney engine, but does not appear to be a fundamental design flaw, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer said on Sunday.

Former U.S. congressman Ken Gray of Illinois dies at 89

- Former U.S. Representative Ken Gray of Illinois, once known as the "Prince of Pork" for his ability to win federal support for his district, has died at age 89.

Son charged with stabbing death of mother in Indiana hospital: media

- The son of an 80-year-old woman who was stabbed to death at a northwest Indiana hospital last week has been charged with her murder, news media reported on Sunday.

U.S. House panel sets witness list for CDC anthrax hearing

WASHINGTON - A U.S. congressional committee said on Sunday that it will hear from half a dozen witnesses this week about dangerous lapses at federal health facilities, including one that led to the potential exposure of 84 people to live anthrax.

Air India flight returns to New Jersey airport after bird strike

NEWARK New Jersey - An Air India flight with 313 passengers onboard was forced to return to Newark Liberty International Airport on Sunday after a bird strike caused an engine on the Boeing 777 to catch fire, according to airport officials.

Several injured after Philadelphia bus flips on side in crash

- Five people were injured in Philadelphia on Sunday when a car collided with a transit bus and flipped it on its side, according to transit officials and media reports.

Corpse slips out of Pennsylvania coroner's vehicle onto street

- A corpse on a gurney slid out of the back of a coroner's vehicle and onto a busy street in an eastern Pennsylvania town, a local newspaper reported on Sunday.

Pentagon weighing options for missile defense: Undersecretary Kendall

LONDON - The U.S. Defense Department hopes to fund a much more reliable kill vehicle, or warhead, for the homeland missile defense system run by Boeing Co , but final decisions will depend largely on cost, the Pentagon's top arms buyer said on Sunday.

Air India flight returns to New Jersey airport after engine trouble

NEWARK N.J. - An Air India flight with 313 passengers onboard was forced to return to Newark Liberty International Airport on Sunday after an engine on the Boeing 777 appeared to overheat and catch fire, according to airport officials.

Man charged with shooting five people after Connecticut bar fight

STAMFORD Conn. - A 22-year-old Connecticut man was arrested on Sunday and charged with firing a handgun into a crowd leaving a nightclub, injuring five people, police said.

Six people injured when camera catches fire at 30 Rockefeller Plaza

- Six people suffered minor burns when a camera caught fire on the observation deck of the New York landmark building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, fire officials said.

Debut summer 'supermoon' hangs in the summer sky

NEW YORK - A "supermoon" rose above cities from Los Angeles to London on Saturday night, the first of three times this year the full moon will orbit nearer the earth and appear unusually large and bright.

Indiana Greyhound bus collision kills one, injures others

NEW YORK - One person was killed and several injured when a Greyhound bus and a car collided in Indiana on Sunday, a county official said.

State governments can help U.S. speed up drone use

NEW YORK - U.S. state governments should help break a regulatory logjam that currently bans aerial drones from delivering packages, filming movies and monitoring crops and pipelines, officials from a state with extensive drone experience said on Sunday.

U.S. Marines air chief wants to curb 'big wish lists' for arms upgrades

RAF FAIRFORD England - The U.S. Marine Corps' new aviation chief this week said he plans to hold down "big wish lists" for upgrades to existing warplanes and helicopters so he can maximize purchases of new planes like the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet.

Amateur explorers claim to find lost Army fort in Florida Everglades

MIAMI - A team of amateur explorers say they found the site of a lost U.S. Army fort buried deep in the Everglades that once served as a restocking post for troops during a series of guerilla-like battles with Seminole Indians.

U.S. Navy maintains grounding order for F-35 fighter jets

RAF FAIRFORD England - The U.S. Navy maintained a grounding order for F-35 B-model and C-model fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp, saying it was still not clear what caused a massive engine failure on an Air Force F-35 jet last month.

Three dead, two wounded in Pasadena, California shootings

- Three people were killed and two wounded in a shooting late on Saturday afternoon in Pasadena, California before the gunman surrendered, police said.

Michigan student won't be charged in Visine poisoning

- No charges will be filed against a Michigan high school student who was accused of sickening a teacher by putting Visine eye solution in her coffee, a prosecutor said on Saturday.

Second lightning strike fatality in two days at Colorado park: officials

- A lightning strike on Saturday killed a man in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, a day after another strike killed a woman who had been out on a hike.

Teen survivor of Texas shootings says slain family members 'in much better place'

- The teenage survivor of a shooting attack in suburban Houston in which her parents and four siblings were killed told a memorial event on Saturday her family was "in a much better place” and that she was making a full recovery from her injuries.

Trump Plaza in Atlantic City to close, adding to city's woes: report

- The Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City could shut its doors in September and lay off 1,000 workers, a local newspaper reported, in what could make it the fourth casino to close this year in the faltering New Jersey resort city.

No getting away from it all on the Appalachian Trail

HARRIMAN STATE PARK N.Y. - Maybe it was guilt over alarming her parents when she inadvertently dialed 911 from the Appalachian Trail, but Caitlin Belcher wishes she could ditch her cell phone for the rest of the 2,180-mile (3,508-km) hike.

Comedian Tracy Morgan sues Walmart over deadly crash

Newark N.J - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan has sued Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in a New Jersey federal court, alleging the retailer was negligent in connection with the June crash that left him critically injured and killed a fellow passenger.

Utah man arrested in bomb plot to cause uprising against government

- A Utah man has been arrested in connection with a plot to blow up a police station, kill police officers and destroy infrastructure to delay an emergency response, authorities said.

Practical hurdles hampered police response to D.C. Navy Yard shootings -report

- Police rushing to the scene of last year's Navy Yard shooting in Washington D.C. were hampered in their attempts to help by numerous delaying hurdles such as being locked out of room with live surveillance video, an internal report said.

Lightning kills one, injures seven in Colorado's Rocky Mountain park

DENVER - A lightning strike killed a woman and injured seven other people on Friday as they hiked in the Rocky Mountain National Park northwest of Denver, a park official said.

Armed citizen groups seek recruits to secure U.S. border

DALLAS - Citizen groups in border states are seeking armed volunteers to patrol the U.S.-Mexico frontier alongside law enforcement officers who are struggling to deal with a surge of undocumented migrants from Central America.

U.S. anthrax probe reveals new bird flu mishap, widespread safety lapses

- Federal health officials on Friday disclosed a new safety breach at a high-security U.S. government laboratory involving dangerous avian flu, a lapse that came to light as they investigated the potential exposure of researchers to live anthrax bacteria.

Two more charged in slaying of 12-year-old NJ girl on scooter

NEWARK N.J. - Two more suspects were charged in the killing of a 12-year-old New Jersey girl who was struck in the head by a stray bullet as she rode her scooter to a family gathering, authorities said on Friday.

Accused Boston bomber spoke of martyrdom before attack: FBI

BOSTON - Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told his friends about martyrdom and bomb-building over lunch before the attacks last year, an FBI agent testified on Friday in the trial of one of the friends for obstruction.

California high court softens 'three strikes' law

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California's highest court has softened implementation of the state's "three-strikes-and-you're-out" criminal sentencing law, marking the second time the rules for identifying and imprisoning career criminals have been loosened in recent years.

U.S. Navy maintains grounding order on F-35 fighter jets

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Navy on Friday maintained a grounding order for F-35 B-model and C-model fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp given that it remained unclear what had caused a massive engine failure on an Air Force F-35 jet on June 23.

Female Yahoo executive sued for sexual harassment

- A high-level female Yahoo Inc executive has been sued in California by a woman who worked under her and is accusing her former boss of sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

U.S. Navy maintains grounding order for F-35 fighter jets

RAF FAIRFORD England - The U.S. Navy on Friday maintained a grounding order for F-35 B-model and C-model fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp, saying it was still not clear what caused a massive engine failure on an Air Force F-35 jet on June 23.

Seattle's attorney apologizes for taking bags of marijuana to the office

SEATTLE - Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes on Friday apologized for violating workplace rules by bringing bags of marijuana he purchased from newly-opened Washington state pot shops back to his office.

Lawyers for Colorado theater gunman oppose videotaping sanity exam

DENVER - Attorneys for an accused mass murderer who claims he was insane when he shot 12 moviegoers to death at a Colorado cinema two years ago oppose the videotaping of their client as he undergoes a new psychiatric examination, court records show.

U.S. appeals court sides with gay marriage proponents in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY - A U.S. appeals court on Friday denied Utah's bid to further block legal recognition of about 1,300 same-sex weddings performed after the state's gay marriage ban was briefly lifted by a federal judge in December.

Seattle's first legal pot shop runs out of marijuana

SEATTLE - Seattle's first and only recreational marijuana store had to close on Friday after running out of stock in just three days since Washington became the second U.S. state to allow pot sales to adults.

U.S. agency investigating drone flights after video goes viral

FORT LAUDERDALE Fla. - The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating several videos filmed using drones that flew into and around firework displays, including two apparently shot on the Fourth of July and one from Florida that has received nearly nine million YouTube views.

Florida's electoral map in flux after court ruling

TALLAHASSEE Fla. - Florida's Republicans, stung by a judge's decision to throw out the state's 2012 congressional redistricting plan, remained silent on Friday on whether they will appeal the ruling that found they conspired to rig the boundaries to protect the party's majority in Washington.

Wind-swept wildfire chars 18,000 acres in Washington state

SEATTLE - Washington state firefighters were battling a wind-swept wildfire on Friday that raged over steep terrain, damaged property and forced evacuations and road closures, officials said.

More Americans succumb to World Cup fever: Reuters/Ipsos poll

NEW YORK - The United States may not yet be in love with football, but more Americans became fans as the World Cup in Brazil progressed, according to an ongoing Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Federal judge affirms Detroit's access to casino revenue

- A U.S. District Court judge on Friday ruled that bond insurer Syncora Guarantee Inc cannot block bankrupt Detroit's access to casino tax revenue.

New York's MTA may have to increase debt in LIRR pay deal: Moody's

NEW YORK - Meeting wage demands of Long Island Rail Road workers threatening to strike over a pay dispute may mean New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority will have to issue more debt to cover capital investment costs, according to ratings agency Moody's Investors Service.

New York police work to ID body parts found in two towns

NEW YORK - New York police on Friday are working to identify the human body parts scattered around two Long Island communities over three days this week, authorities said.

Test-cheating trial delayed for ill former Atlanta school chief

ATLANTA - The trial for a former Atlanta school superintendent charged with conspiring to alter students' standardized test scores will be delayed indefinitely because she is too sick to attend, a judge ruled on Friday.

Woman stabbed to death at Indiana hospital, body found at her home

- A patient was stabbed to death at a northwest Indiana hospital and a man believed to be her husband was found later stabbed to death at their home in the nearby city of Gary, Indiana, authorities said on Friday.

Philadelphia mayor rebuked for response to fire that killed four children

PHILADELPHIA - Relatives of at least two of the four children killed in a weekend fire that destroyed eight homes in Philadelphia staged a sit-in at City Hall on Wednesday, demanding the mayor apologize for comments about the blaze they decried as insensitive.

Republicans wage uphill battle to win over black voters

CHARLOTTE N.C. - After losing the 2012 presidential election, Republicans vowed to expand their appeal beyond their shrinking base of white males. But as they concede, winning over black voters is likely to be a long and difficult task.

Accused Boston bomber spoke of martyrdom before attack -FBI

BOSTON - Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told his friends about martyrdom and bomb-building over lunch before the attacks last year, an FBI agent testified on Friday in the trial of one of the friends for obstruction.

U.S. anthrax probe reveals new bird flu mishap, widespread safety lapses

- Federal health officials on Friday disclosed a new safety breach at a high-security U.S. laboratory involving dangerous avian flu, a lapse that came to light as they investigated the potential exposure of government researchers to live anthrax bacteria.

White House trims 2014 deficit projection to $583 billion

WASHINGTON - The White House lowered its U.S. federal deficit forecast for the 2014 fiscal year by $66 billion to $583 billion on Friday on the basis of gathering economic momentum as evidenced by gains in hiring.

New York man who threatened ex-President Bush gets house arrest

NEW YORK - A New York man arrested for threatening to kill former President George W. Bush was sentenced to six months of home confinement on Friday.

Thousands may telecommute in case of New York train strike

NEW YORK - Tens of thousands of New Yorkers could work from home instead of commuting in a plan laid out by transportation officials on Friday to address the threat of a strike at the Long Island Rail Road.

Case of Pennsylvania sheriff accused of assault nears a close

BEAVER Penn. - Testimony concluded on Friday in the trial of a western Pennsylvania sheriff accused of threatening to beat up and shoot a local online reporter in the head.

Ex-Minnesota governor: no fight with 'American Sniper' author

ST PAUL Minn. - Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura said Friday he has not been in a fight in decades as he took the stand in his trial accusing a former Navy SEAL sniper of making up a 2006 altercation between them described in a best-selling book.

U.S. Medicaid enrollment nears 7 million since Obamacare rollout

WASHINGTON - New enrollments in Obamacare's Medicaid expansion and other healthcare programs for the poor have reached 6.7 million people since the launch of President Barack Obama's healthcare reforms last year, the administration said on Friday.

Ex-city official in California sentenced to one year in jail in corruption case

LOS ANGELES - A former elected official from the scandal-plagued California city of Bell was sentenced on Friday to one year in jail for inflating his salary by sitting on bogus boards, prosecutors said.

Ex-California pension fund CEO pleads guilty in federal conspiracy case

- A former chief executive of the largest U.S. public pension fund pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud as part of a federal conspiracy case on Friday.

California high court softens 'three strikes' law

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California's highest court has softened implementation of the state's "three-strikes-and-you're-out" criminal sentencing law, marking the second time the rules for identifying and imprisoning career criminals have been loosened in recent years.

Texas mass murder suspect collapses in court as crime recounted

HOUSTON - The man accused of killing six members of his former wife's family, including four children, at their suburban Houston home collapsed in court on Friday when details of the crime were read aloud and was wheeled out in an office chair by sheriff's deputies.

Florida movie theater shooter wins release from jail on bond

TAMPA Fla. - A retired Florida police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of a fellow moviegoer during a dispute over texting is expected to go home on Friday night after being released from jail on bond, his lawyer said.

Mississippi coach, wife indicted for sex with underage girl

- A grand jury indicted a Mississippi girl's softball coach and his pregnant wife on Friday on charges they engaged in oral sex with a 15-year-old player on his team, according to authorities and court records.

Taliban sympathizer posts pictures of smiling Bowe Bergdahl

ISLAMABAD - U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for five years, appeared smiling alongside a commander from the militant Haqqani network in a photo posted on a Twitter account by a supporter of the Afghan Taliban.

Sinaloa drug cartel leader 'Chino Antrax' extradited to California

SAN DIEGO - A suspected high-level Sinaloa drug cartel operative known as "Chino Antrax" was extradited on Thursday from the Netherlands to the United States, where he faces charges related to drug smuggling, the Justice Department said.

Virginia police won't seek nude photo of teenager in sexting case

- Virginia authorities on Thursday said they will not serve a search warrant for evidence in a juvenile sexting case, which the 17-year-old defendant's lawyer said included demands for a picture of the teen's erect penis.

Woman charged with manslaughter in Google exec's heroin death

SAN FRANCISCO - An alleged prostitute suspected of killing a California technology executive by injecting him with a fatal dose of heroin aboard his yacht off the coast of Santa Cruz has been charged with manslaughter, authorities said Thursday.

Boston reaches deal with developer planning nearby casino

BOSTON - Mohegan Sun agreed on Thursday to pay Boston $18 million a year to compensate the city for any negative side effects if the Connecticut-based gambling resort succeeds in its efforts to build a casino in neighboring Revere.

Wisconsin nine-year-old dies trapped in grain bin

- A 9-year-old Wisconsin boy has died after becoming trapped on Thursday in a half-full grain bin on the family farm, authorities said.

Californians lacking health insurance halved under Obamacare: study

SACRAMENTO Calif. - The number of Californians without health insurance has been cut in half since the implementation of Obamacare, according to a survey published Thursday.

Hoping for progress, San Bernardino sets bankruptcy case deadlines

RIVERSIDE Calif. - The city of San Bernardino, California, set new deadlines in an effort to accomplish some measure of progress in a municipal bankruptcy case that has slowed to a crawl over the past two years.

Florida man executed for 1994 rape and murder of girl

TALLAHASSEE - A man who confessed to the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl was executed by lethal injection on Thursday, the Florida Department of Corrections said.

Supporters optimistic after ex-U.S. Marine appears in Mexico court

- Supporters of a former U.S. Marine held for more than three months in a Mexican jail on weapons charges said on Thursday they were encouraged by his first court appearance and were hopeful he would be home soon.

Detroit boy was abused, harshly disciplined: state petition

- A 12-year-old Detroit boy found in his basement 11 days after being reported missing was ordered by his father to do heavy workouts twice a day and was beaten with plastic piping, according to court documents.

Friend of accused Boston bomber watched bag hauled away: agent

BOSTON - A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber charged with obstruction watched a garbage truck haul away a backpack containing fireworks he and two other men had taken from the suspect's dorm room, an FBI agent testified on Thursday.

Colorado judge backs county clerk over gay marriage licenses

DENVER - A state judge in Colorado on Thursday backed a county clerk who has issued more than 100 marriage licenses to gay couples, and another county clerk in Denver said she would begin issuing the permits.

Obama administration warns money low to deal with migrant crisis

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration warned lawmakers on Thursday that U.S. border control agencies would run out of money and migrant children would run out of beds if Congress did not approve $3.7 billion in funds to address an influx of people from Central America.

U.S. defense chief voices confidence in grounded F-35 fleet

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE Fla. - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told military fliers on Thursday the stealthy F-35 attack plane had "issues" but was still "the future for our fighter aircraft" despite a fire that grounded the fleet and jeopardized its international debut in Britain.    In a visit to the Florida base where the blaze occurred in late June, Hagel spoke with F-35 pilots and maintenance workers about the Lockheed Martin aircraft but was not able to say whether the planes wou

Two California men indicted on mink farm sabotage charges

LOS ANGELES - Two Los Angeles-area activists accused of sabotaging an Illinois mink farm and freeing 2,000 of the weasel-like animals from captivity there have been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy and interstate travel to interfere with an animal enterprise.

Georgia man charged with murder in son's car-seat death fired from job

ATLANTA - A suburban Atlanta man jailed on charges he murdered his 22-month-old son by intentionally leaving the child strapped in an overheated car to die has been fired from his job at Home Depot Inc, the company said Thursday.

Measles cases hit 18-year high in Washington state

- Washington state health officials reported on Thursday the highest number of measles cases since 1996 and urged residents to seek vaccinations against the preventable disease during the state's third outbreak of the virus this year.

Teenager charged with killing soldier at Tennessee armory

NASHVILLE Tenn. - A teenager has been arrested and charged with criminal homicide in the shooting death of a Tennessee National Guard soldier at an armory southwest of Nashville, authorities said on Thursday.

Man hoping to be executed must get appeal, Florida court rules

TALLAHASSEE - A sharply divided Florida Supreme Court told public defenders Thursday they may not withdraw from the appeal of a death row inmate who strangled a cellmate in hopes of being executed.

Louisiana guard fired after arrest on suspicion of raping inmate

- A male corrections officer in northwestern Louisiana was fired this week after his arrest on suspicion of forcibly raping a female inmate, authorities said Thursday.

Taliban post picture of commander with smiling U.S. captive

ISLAMABAD - U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for five years, appeared smiling alongside an alleged Haqqani commander in a photo posted on a Twitter account purporting to be from the Afghan Taliban.

Draft notices sent to 14,000 dead men in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG Pa. - Jane Huey was surprised, to say the least, when a letter arrived at her Kingston, Pennsylvania, home urging Bert Huey to register to be drafted into the U.S. military.

California ends fiscal year with cash for first time in seven years

- California has ended its fiscal year with cash left over in its general fund for the first time since 2007.

Judge orders former New Hampshire cop in hit-and-run back to jail

MANCHESTER N.H. - A former New Hampshire police officer released from prison in June after serving only 72 days of a year-long sentence for a felony hit-and-run conviction was ordered back to jail on Thursday.

U.S. judge sentences man to 15 years in China spying case

OAKLAND Calif. - A U.S. judge sentenced a California businessman to 15 years in prison on Thursday for stealing DuPont trade secrets to help a state-owned Chinese company develop a white pigment used in a wide range of products.

U.S. judge tells IRS to explain lost emails in 'Tea Party' probe

WASHINGTON - A judge told the U.S. Internal Revenue Service on Thursday it must submit an explanation by Aug. 10 for how it lost emails being sought in a Republican congressional inquiry of a 2013 controversy over tax scrutiny of conservative political groups.

Auto union to form branch for workers at Volkswagen plant in Tennessee

- The United Auto Workers will form a local union in Tennessee to represent workers at a Chattanooga Volkswagen AG plant, The Tennessean newspaper reported on Thursday.

Lawmakers eye U.S. immigration law changes for Central American children

WASHINGTON - Legislation to allow President Barack Obama more easily to deport thousands of Central American children who have migrated illegally appeared to gain steam in the U.S. Congress on Thursday as pressure grew to resolve a humanitarian crisis on the border.

Denver County to issue marriage licenses to gay couples: spokesman

DENVER - The Denver County Clerk will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a spokesman said on Thursday, hours after a Colorado judge backed another county clerk who has issued more than 100 of the permits.

Colorado judge backs county clerk over gay marriage licenses

DENVER - A state judge in Colorado on Thursday backed a county clerk who has issued more than 100 marriage licenses to gay couples, and another county clerk in Denver said she would also begin issuing the permits.

Pennsylvania mom drowns trying to save son in Lake Erie

NEW YORK - A family vacation turned into tragedy when a mother drowned while trying to rescue her son and his friend in the choppy waters of Lake Erie in western New York, police said.

Top Connecticut court to hear death penalty appeal in rare summer session

HARTFORD Conn. - Attorneys for a Bridgeport, Connecticut, drug lord sentenced to die for ordering the 1999 murders of a mother and her 8-year-old son are scheduled to appeal his sentence before the state Supreme Court Thursday during a special summer session.

Part of U.S. Capitol closed to probe asbestos incident: officials

WASHINGTON - Parts of the U.S. Capitol were closed early on Thursday while authorities investigated a possible asbestos release, delaying the start of the House of Representatives session and canceling some tours of the building.

U.S. weather forecaster still sees 70 percent chance of summer El Nino

- The U.S. weather forecaster maintained its outlook for the El Nino weather phenomenon in its monthly update on Thursday, pegging the chances of the weather pattern striking during the Northern Hemisphere summer at 70 percent.

Germany asks top U.S. intelligence official to leave over spy scandal

BERLIN - Germany asked the top U.S. intelligence official at the Berlin embassy on Thursday to leave the country, a highly unusual step reflecting the deep anger within Angela Merkel's government at the discovery of two suspected U.S. spies within a week.

Central U.S. to see cold snap next week: NWS

WASHINGTON - The central United States will see temperatures well below normal next week as a low pressure system pulls in colder Canadian air, the National Weather Service said on Thursday.

Man sentenced to year in jail in Detroit mob beating of motorist

- A man who pleaded guilty to assaulting a motorist who was severely beaten by a mob in Detroit after he struck a child accidentally was sentenced on Thursday to one year in county jail.

U.S. judge blocks New Hampshire law creating abortion clinic buffers

- A federal judge has halted the enforcement of a New Hampshire law set to go into effect on Thursday that would have allowed abortion providers to set up 25-foot (7.6-meter) buffer zones around clinics.

Philadelphia man accused of being Nazi guard denied bail

PHILADELPHIA - A former Nazi concentration camp guard awaiting extradition to Germany has been denied bail by a U.S. judge in Philadelphia.

Obstruction trial in Boston bombing focuses on Web searches

BOSTON - Testimony in the trial of a friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber focused Thursday on the man's Internet searches after the deadly April 2013 blasts.

Seven killed in Massachusetts apartment blaze -fire officials

BOSTON - Seven people were killed when a fire tore through an apartment building in the Boston suburb of Lowell on Thursday morning, a Massachusetts fire official said.

Exclusive: Coastal flooding has surged in U.S., Reuters finds

- Coastal flooding along the densely populated Eastern Seaboard of the United States has surged in recent years, a Reuters analysis has found.

WTC cleanup workers may renew health claims: U.S. appeals court

NEW YORK - A federal appeals court in New York has revived claims by 211 cleanup workers who sought compensation for their alleged exposure to toxic contaminants in buildings near the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

North Carolina voter law hurts African Americans: Justice Department

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. - North Carolina's decision to reduce early voting days and eliminate same-day registration will cause irreparable harm to African Americans if not halted ahead of the midterm elections in November, a Justice Department lawyer argued on Thursday.

New form of U.S. healthcare saves money, improves quality, one insurer finds

NEW YORK - In one of the largest tests of a novel way to deliver and pay for healthcare, insurer CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield announced on Thursday that 1.1 million people receiving care through its "patient-centered medical homes" last year were hospitalized less often and stayed for fewer days compared to patients in traditional fee-for-service care.

Philadephia mayor rebuked for response to fire that killed four children

PHILADELPHIA - Relatives of least two of the four children killed in a weekend fire that destroyed eight homes in Philadelphia staged a sit-in at City Hall on Wednesday, demanding the mayor apologize for comments about the blaze they decried as insensitive.

Parched California proposes steep fines for over-watering lawns

SAN FRANCISCO - Regulators in drought-stricken California are proposing stringent new conservation measures to limit outdoor water use, including fines of up to $500 a day for using a hose without a shut-off nozzle.

Florida set to execute convicted murderer of 11-year-old girl

TALLAHASSEE - A Florida man who confessed to the rape and murder of a child is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Thursday, while another convicted murderer in Georgia had his death sentence, also due to be carried out on Thursday, commuted to life imprisonment.

Engine fire triggers new turbulence for Lockheed's F-35 jet

RAF FAIRFORD England - Borne of the last downturn in U.S. military spending in the 1990s, Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was intended as a quick and affordable way for the United States and its allies to replace thousands of aging F-16s and other warplanes while avoiding the pitfalls of earlier programs.

'American Sniper' says punched ex-Minnesota governor Ventura

ST. PAUL Minn. - A Navy SEAL accused of defaming former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura and who died last year said in a videotaped deposition played Wednesday at a trial that he encountered a loud and belligerent Ventura at a bar in 2006 and punched him.

New Orleans-area school district agrees to rules protecting Hispanics

NEW ORLEANS - A New Orleans-area school district reached a deal with federal officials on Wednesday to make changes that address allegations of discrimination against Hispanic students and parents.

Obama rejects criticism over border crisis

DALLAS/WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama rejected demands from Texas Governor Rick Perry and others that he visit the border where a child migrant crisis is unfolding and said his critics should get behind his request for $3.7 billion if they want to solve the problem.

Shooting at Tennessee National Guard armory leaves one wounded

NASHVILLE Tenn. - Police in western Tennessee searched on Wednesday for a suspect in a shooting at a National Guard armory outside Nashville that left one person wounded, according to the county sheriff's department and local media reports.

Mexican train derails, stranding 1,300 migrants headed toward U.S.

MEXICO CITY - A cargo train used by Mexicans and Central Americans to travel toward the U.S. border derailed in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca on Wednesday, stranding about 1,300 migrants, emergency services said.

U.S. House Republicans seek CDC documents on anthrax scare

WASHINGTON - Congressional Republicans asked the Obama administration on Wednesday to provide documents related to last month's anthrax scare at a U.S. lab, where more than 80 people were initially feared to be exposed to the deadly pathogen.

Georgia man's death sentence commuted a day before scheduled execution

ATLANTA - The day before he was due to die by lethal injection, a man on Georgia's death row was granted clemency and his sentence commuted to life without parole on Wednesday by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Several people killed in Houston-area shooting

HOUSTON - Several people were shot to death on Wednesday in the Houston suburb of Spring, Texas, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said, with local media reporting six people killed.

Colorado puts annual marijuana demand at 130 tonnes

DENVER - Total marijuana demand in Colorado, where the nation's first recreational pot shops opened in January, is estimated at 130 tonnes this year, a study for the state's revenue authority said on Wednesday.

Congress seen unlikely to block threatened New York transit strike

NEW YORK - Congress will likely not intervene to prevent a threatened strike this month that would shut down the Long Island Rail Road, the country's largest commuter rail system, a U.S. representative from New York said on Wednesday.

New York man gets 17 years in beating death of nursing home roommate

NEW YORK - A former New York nursing home resident who pleaded guilty to clubbing to death his 71-year-old roommate has been sentenced to 17 years in prison, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Police shoot knife-wielding woman dead outside Idaho hospital

SALMON Idaho - Police shot and killed a woman brandishing a knife outside a regional medical center in northern Idaho that had been locked down amid reports of a weapons threat, authorities said Wednesday.

Florida cat owners call 911 after Russian blue 'freaked out'

ORLANDO Florida - Kush the cat was quarantined in central Florida after her owner called 911 over the weekend for help, saying the ferocious feline had her trapped in her home.

Exclusive: U.S. grills suspects in new strategy to build bank laundering cases

ST. LOUIS - U.S. prosecutors are using a new tactic to crack down on banks that fail to fight money laundering: systematically asking suspects in a wide range of criminal cases to help them follow the money back to their bankers.

Texas robbery suspect sets himself on fire, then is shot by police

AUSTIN Texas - Police in a Dallas suburb shot a suspected burglar after he poured a flammable material on his clothing and set himself on fire on Wednesday outside a chicken wing restaurant, a city official said.

Washington state approves first producer of pot edibles

SEATTLE - A Seattle-based company that makes marijuana-infused drinks and candies has become the first business in Washington approved to make edible pot products for the state's newly opened stores, officials said Wednesday.

Judge strikes down Colorado gay marriage ban, stays ruling

DENVER - A state judge struck down Colorado's gay marriage ban on Wednesday, saying the prohibition violated constitutional rights, but put his ruling on hold pending appeal.

House Republicans seek CDC documents on anthrax scare

WASHINGTON - Congressional Republicans asked the Obama administration on Wednesday to provide documents related to last month's anthrax scare at a U.S. lab facility, where more than 80 people were initially feared to be exposed to the deadly pathogen.

Obama urges Congress to pass migrant funding request quickly

DALLAS - President Barack Obama urged Congress on Wednesday to pass his request quickly for $3.7 billion in funds to address the influx of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America crossing the U.S. border.

Former U.S. Marine jailed in Mexico since March appears in court

MEXICO CITY - A former U.S. Marine held for more than three months in a Mexican jail on weapons charges appeared in court in the border city of Tijuana on Wednesday, his lawyers said.

'American Sniper' widow: husband planned to donate book proceeds

ST. PAUL Minn. - The widow of a late Navy SEAL accused of defaming former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura testified on Wednesday in a federal trial that her husband was a humble man who planned to give away proceeds from a best-selling book.

NY lawmakers set to clamp down on Times Square's caped crusaders

NEW YORK - Cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Spider-man have been adored by generations of children, but their costumed counterparts who roam New York City's Times Square are more a public nuisance, New York City lawmakers said on Wednesday.

Actor John Wayne's heirs sue university to use 'Duke' nickname

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. - Heirs of film star John Wayne have sued Duke University over their right to use the late Academy Award winner's nickname, "Duke," to market a line of bourbon, describing the school's protests over such branding efforts as "ludicrous."

Storm leaves 244,000 in dark, shuts Buckeye pipeline in Pennsylvania

- Over 244,000 homes and businesses in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states remained without power on Wednesday after severe thunderstorms rolled through the region overnight.

Teen arrested in killing of New Jersey girl shot on her scooter

- A teen was arrested in the killing of a 12-year-old girl who was riding on her scooter near a family gathering in Paterson, New Jersey, when she was struck by a stray bullet, officials said on Wednesday.

Michigan man charged with murder in death of soccer referee

- A soccer player accused of punching a referee and fatally injuring him during a weekend game in a Detroit suburb has been charged with second-degree murder, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Verdict reached in lawsuit over Dodger Stadium beating

LOS ANGELES - Jurors have reached a verdict in a $37 million lawsuit against the Los Angeles Dodgers and their former owner by a baseball fan who was permanently disabled by a brutal assault he blames on lax security at Dodger Stadium.

Accused Silk Road creator loses bid to dismiss U.S. indictment

NEW YORK - The man accused of creating Silk Road, which U.S. authorities said was an online drug marketplace, lost his bid on Wednesday to dismiss a federal indictment accusing him of conspiring to deal illegal narcotics and launder money.

Utah to appeal gay marriage ruling to U.S. Supreme Court

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah will appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court over last month's ruling by a regional appeals court that found in favor of gay marriage in the conservative state, the attorney general's office said on Wednesday.

Berkeley, California orders free pot for poor patients

BERKELEY California - A California college town known for its liberal activism has voted to make medicinal marijuana dispensaries give away free a small amount of their pot to the poor.

Arizona professor admits resisting arrest during scuffle

PHOENIX - A professor in Arizona who scuffled with campus police after being stopped for walking in the middle of the street at night pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest, court officials said.

Judge delays trial in Colorado movie theater massacre case

DENVER - A district court judge in Colorado on Wednesday delayed the planned trial in October of accused movie theater gunman James Holmes to allow more time to conduct a second sanity review.

U.S. court rules for Beirut bombing victims in Iran funds case

NEW YORK - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday ruled that $1.75 billion in Iranian funds be turned over to families of the victims of the 1983 bombings of a Marine barracks in Beirut.

Foster Farms battles insurers over definition of 'recall'

CHICAGO - Foster Farms and its London insurers are facing off over the definition of "product recall" as the poultry producer seeks payment of $14.2 million in claims arising from a government-mandated shutdown of one of its plants, court documents show.

Severe storms leave four dead in New York state and Maryland

SYRACUSE N.Y. - Thunderstorms and high winds swept through the U.S. Northeast on Tuesday following tornado warnings, killing three people in New York state and a boy who was crushed to death by a fallen tree in Maryland, weather and emergency officials said.

San Francisco passes law allowing forced treatment of mentally ill

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco lawmakers approved a law late on Tuesday allowing the forced treatment of mentally ill patients under certain conditions, drawing swift criticism from patient advocacy groups who say the measure tramples civil rights.

Utah mother accused of slaying six infants was hooked on meth: police

SALT LAKE CITY - A Utah mother accused of killing six of her newborn infants over the course of a decade told investigators she had been suffering from methamphetamine and alcohol addiction that left her with no means to support or care for the babies, police said on Tuesday.

Disgraced former New Orleans Mayor Nagin due for sentencing

NEW ORLEANS - Disgraced former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was set to be sentenced by a federal judge on Wednesday on 20 corruption charges that could land him in prison for two decades.

Boston bombing obstruction trial hears from suspect's roommate

BOSTON - The college roommate of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is due to continue testifying on Wednesday at the trial of a friend charged with obstructing the investigation into the deadly bombing attack.

East Coast wakes up to power cuts after storms kill five

SYRACUSE N.Y. - Thousands of people in U.S. East Coast states woke up to power cuts and a major clean-up operation on Wednesday after severe storms and high winds killed five people.

Exclusive: Roosters' fertility problem hits U.S. chicken supply, lifts prices

- The world's largest chicken breeder has discovered that a key breed of rooster has a genetic issue that is reducing its fertility, adding to problems constraining U.S. poultry production and raising prices at a time when beef and pork prices are already at record highs.

U.S. judge tosses Miami mortgage discrimination suit against BofA

- A federal judge has dismissed the City of Miami's mortgage discrimination lawsuit against Bank of America Corp , ruling the city lacked legal standing to sue for damages under the U.S. Fair Housing Act.

California police say prostitute gave fatal heroin overdose to customer

- Police in California have arrested a woman they described as a high-priced prostitute who is suspected of murdering a man by injecting him with heroin aboard his yacht in a Santa Cruz harbor, authorities said.

Boston bomber suspect called September 11 attacks a hoax: roommate

BOSTON - The accused Boston Marathon bomber once called the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks a hoax but showed no signs of extremist views, his college roommate testified on Wednesday.

Former New Orleans Mayor Nagin sentenced to 10 years in prison

NEW ORLEANS - Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 years in federal prison on corruption charges that arose in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.    A jury in February found Nagin guilty of charges including bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and tax evasion.

Bill allowing parole for young offenders advances in Massachusetts

BOSTON - Massachusetts legislators passed a bill that would grant people convicted of first-degree murder while under age 18 a chance at parole after serving at least 20 years of their sentence.

Combative Sterling says NBA's Clippers worth more than $2 billion

LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling on Tuesday sparred with his estranged wife's attorney at a trial over the $2 billion sale of the NBA franchise, interrupting and shouting during testimony and saying he wants to keep the team for financial reasons.

Ex-Coast Guard employee gets life for killing two others on Alaska base

JUNEAU Alaska - A former U.S. Coast Guard employee convicted of shooting two co-workers to death at a remote Kodiak Island communications station two years ago was sentenced to four consecutive life terms in prison on Tuesday, federal prosecutors said.

Stockton bankruptcy judge says city's collateral not worthless

SACRAMENTO Calif. - The judge in Stockton, California's bankruptcy on Tuesday ruled that the city has collateral worth $4 million with which it could pay holdout creditor Franklin Templeton, dismissing the city's contention its collateral was worthless.

Obama shoots pool in night out on the town in Denver

DENVER - A man shouted "get that man a beer" and sure enough, President Barack Obama soon had a cold pint in his hand and prepared to play billiards with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

Acura to recall vehicles in U.S. over defective headlights

- Acura, the luxury division of Japanese automaker Honda Motors Co Ltd, said it would recall 14,078 model-year 2013-2014 ILX vehicles to replace their halogen projector beam headlights.

Ex-Minnesota Governor Ventura alleges 'American Sniper' defamed him

ST. PAUL Minn. - A late Navy SEAL accused of defamation by former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura described an alleged altercation between the two men in 2006 in a videotaped deposition played for jurors in a federal trial that began on Tuesday.

Buyers line up at first legal pot shops in Washington state

SEATTLE - Eager customers lined up before dawn on Tuesday as Washington became the second U.S. state to allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use, although shortages and high prices were likely to accompany any euphoria.

U.S. government watchdog criticizes probe into student detained for days

SAN DIEGO - A federal government watchdog criticized the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday for assigning agents suspected of misconduct to investigate the near death of a college student left in a holding cell for five days without food or water.

More than 550 Memphis police call in sick in 'blue flu' protest

- More than 550 police officers from Memphis, Tennessee, called in sick on Tuesday, a quarter of the department, in an escalating protest over cuts in health benefits that could eventually cost some officers their jobs, the city's mayor said.

Boeing to recover remaining fuselage from derailed train -railway

NEW YORK - The last of six Boeing Co fuselages damaged in a train derailment were expected to be recovered on Tuesday, the railway said, clearing the way for full train service to resume.

Obama to meet Texas governor, a critic in U.S. border crisis

WASHINGTON/AUSTIN - President Barack Obama will meet Texas Governor Rick Perry on Wednesday to discuss a surge of Latin American young people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border that has put the two leaders at odds with each other.

Baby dies inside car parked in affluent Connecticut town

NEW YORK - A 15-month-old boy has died after being left inside a car parked in an affluent Connecticut community in sweltering summer weather, police said on Tuesday.

U.S. to put child migrants on fast track in deportation hearings: official

WASHINGTON - The United States plans to give priority to child migrants over adults in deportation hearings as part of a broader initiative to deal with a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally, a Justice Department official told Reuters.

Latino activists aim to boost participation in U.S. midterm vote

NEW YORK - A coalition of Latino groups is launching a new push to register voters and mobilize Hispanics ahead of the 2014 midterm elections in the hope of electing more lawmakers sympathetic to issues important to them, including immigration.

New Harry Potter attraction opens at Florida theme park

ORLANDO Fla. - The new Harry Potter attraction at Universal Orlando opened on Tuesday to crowds of fans eager to be among the first to experience the theme park's Diagon Alley expansion based on J.K. Rowling's books and the popular films about the boy wizard.

No decision on whether grounded F-35s will be ready for air show: Pentagon

WASHINGTON - No decision has been made yet on whether to send a group of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Britain this week for the plane's international debut at two air shows after the fleet was grounded in response to an engine fire, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Chicago mayor's panel recommends hiking minimum wage to $13

- Chicago's minimum wage would rise to $13 an hour from $8.25 by 2018 under a proposal announced on Tuesday by a panel that Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed to chart a path for raising the wage floor in the nation's third largest city.

Car service Uber, New York AG reach deal on emergency pricing

NEW YORK - Uber Technologies Inc, a car service that allows users to summon a ride on their smartphone, has agreed to cap prices during emergencies and natural disasters in New York state to prevent price gouging, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Tuesday.

Body count up to 17 after Chicago's bloody holiday weekend

- The death toll from a spree of gun violence in Chicago during the Fourth of July holiday weekend has risen to 17, the medical examiner's office said on Tuesday.

Three hurt in electrical accident at NYC's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space museum

NEW YORK - Three people were injured on Tuesday in an electrical accident at the New York City pier where the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is located, fire officials said.

Two dead in shooting at Washington state medical center: police

- Police said two people died on Tuesday in a shooting at a medical center in Spokane, Washington, and that it appeared a man shot a woman before taking his own life.

Warring Episcopalians in South Carolina court over $500 million in property

CHARLESTON South Carolina - A dispute between the U.S. Episcopal Church and a breakaway diocese angered over its acceptance of gay rights wound up in court on Tuesday as a trial got under way to decide the fate of $500 million in historic real estate.

Oklahoma rape suspect arrested while in coma dies at hospital

OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma suspect in multiple rapes who was arrested after a car crash left him in a coma died at a hospital on Tuesday hours before he was to be formally charged, prosecutors said.

U.S. judge declines to dismiss charges against ex-Connecticut governor

MILFORD Conn. - A U.S. judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss charges that former Connecticut Governor John Rowland violated campaign finance laws while working as an adviser to congressional campaigns after leaving office.

Florida lawyers fired for calling Palestinians 'swine,' 'cockroaches'

MIAMI - Two South Florida public defenders were fired Tuesday after making inflammatory remarks on social media about Palestinians allegedly celebrating the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June.

Prosecutors in NYC's Brooklyn won't pursue low-level pot cases

NEW YORK - Prosecutors in New York City's most populous borough of Brooklyn will no longer prosecute low-level marijuana possession cases, particularly for first-time offenders, the office said on Tuesday.

New Jersey's storm recovery chief steps down, replaced by deputy

NEW YORK - The director of New Jersey's response to Superstorm Sandy stepped down on Tuesday, almost two years after the storm tore through the state, and was replaced by his deputy, Governor Chris Christie's office said.

House Republican proposes $10.9 billion transport funding extension

WASHINGTON - U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp on Tuesday unveiled a $10.9 billion plan to extend U.S. transportation funding through May 31, 2015, aimed at averting cutbacks for construction projects due to start in August.

New Hampshire law creating clinic buffers is target of lawsuit

MANCHESTER, N.H. - A conservative religious group has sued the state of New Hampshire to block a law from taking effect later this week that would establish 25-foot buffer zones around clinics offering abortions.

Colorado clerk: gay marriage bans unconstitutional

DENVER - A county clerk in Colorado says she cannot deny gay couples their fundamental right to wed, according to court documents filed ahead of a hearing in a lawsuit by the state's attorney general to stop her issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

American women targeted as Malaysia becomes Internet scam haven: U.S.

KUALA LUMPUR - Hundreds of American women are being ensnared by Internet scammers based in Malaysia, with some losing over a quarter of a million dollars, as the country becomes an epicenter for online crime perpetrated by Africans, U.S. officials say.

Agent who interrogated accused Boston bomber's friend due to testify

BOSTON - An FBI agent who interrogated a college friend of the suspected Boston Marathon bomber three days after the deadly blasts is due back on the witness stand on Tuesday in the man's trial on obstruction charges.

Mom suspected of abandoning baby on New York subway platform: police

- A mother accused of abandoning her baby by pushing its stroller onto the platform in a New York City subway station before hopping on a departing train was in custody on Tuesday, police said.

Fewer than 100 Americans probed for fighting in Syria, Iraq: U.S. Attorney General

OSLO - The U.S. Justice Department has opened fewer than a hundred investigations into American citizens who may have traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight, the U.S. Attorney General said on Tuesday.

Washington state issues retail pot licenses

SEATTLE - Washington state took the final step in legalizing recreational marijuana use on Monday when officials began issuing retail licenses to stores that could start selling cannabis 24 hours later.

Two dozen rescued after being stranded on California roller coaster

LOS ANGELES - Two dozen people, four of them slightly injured, were left stranded high off the ground after a roller coaster ride struck a tree branch at a Six Flags amusement park in southern California on Monday evening, fire officials said.

White House says most children at border to be sent home

WASHINGTON - The White House said on Monday that most unaccompanied minors flooding into the United States from Central America will not be allowed to stay as the Obama administration prepares to ask Congress for $2 billion to address the border crisis.

Bahrain orders out visiting U.S. official: state news agency

MANAMA - Bahrain on Monday ordered a visiting senior U.S. official to leave the kingdom immediately because he had "intervened flagrantly" in the country's internal affairs, the state news agency BNA said.

California cop spared charges in mistaken killing of boy with toy gun

LOS ANGELES - Northern California prosecutors have decided against bringing criminal charges against a sheriff's deputy who shot and killed a 13-year-old boy who was carrying a plastic replica of an assault rifle that the officer mistook for a real gun.

Venezuelan man charged in Miami with fish and coral smuggling

MIAMI - A Venezuelan man charged with smuggling more than 100 specimens of fish and live coral out of the United States in his luggage faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine after he was arrested trying to board a plane from Miami to Caracas in May.

U.S. arrests Russian in hacking of retail systems

WASHINGTON - U.S. authorities have arrested a Russian man accused of hacking into American retailers' computer systems to steal credit card data from 2009 to 2011, officials said on Monday.

Florida teenager at center of escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict

TAMPA Fla. - Family and friends of a Florida teenager who says he was beaten by Israeli police while in detention describe him as a typical U.S. high school student.

South Carolina toddler dies after being trapped in hot car

CHARLESTON S.C. - A 3-year-old boy died on Saturday after he walked out of a South Carolina home last Wednesday, climbed into his grandmother's car and became trapped, a South Carolina coroner said on Monday.

White House says most children crossing border to be sent home

WASHINGTON - The White House said on Monday that most unaccompanied minors flooding into the United States from Central America will not be allowed to stay as the Obama administration prepares to ask Congress for $2 billion to address the border crisis.

LA police will require judges to sign off on immigrant detentions

LOS ANGELES - Police in Los Angeles will no longer hold in jail undocumented immigrants for federal authorities unless a judge requests it, officials said on Monday.

New York governor signs medical marijuana bill into law

ALBANY N.Y. - Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday he had signed legislation making New York the 23rd state to allow medical marijuana, calling his approach, which forbids smoking of the drug and includes strict limits, the "smartest" any state had taken so far.

Massachusetts judge OKs moving ex-NFLer Hernandez to Boston jail

BOSTON - A Massachusetts judge agreed on Monday to transfer former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez to a state jail near Boston and closer to his lawyers as he prepares for two trials where he will face charges of murdering three men.

Maine companies sued over treatment of migrant blueberry pickers

BOWDOINHAM Maine - Two Maine companies and a labor recruiter are being sued for allegedly mistreating Haitian migrant workers during the state's wild blueberry harvest in 2008.

Man found at Detroit airport with knife in shoe: TSA

WASHINGTON - A passenger at Detroit's airport was found with a concealed knife in his shoe and was arrested, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said.

Boeing says still assessing damages to 737 fuselages

- Boeing Co said it was still assessing damages to six 737 fuselages after a train carrying them derailed in Montana last Thursday.

U.S. tightens security on electronics at overseas airports

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will not allow cellphones or other electronic devices on U.S.-bound planes at some overseas airports if the devices are not charged up, the agency said on Sunday.

Arizona cannot deny driving licenses to some immigrants: court

- A U.S. appeals court ruled on Monday that Arizona cannot deny driving licenses to some immigrants who came to the United States without permission as children.

N.Y. man jailed for rape revealed in stepdaughter's college essay

NEW YORK - A New York City man was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Monday for raping his stepdaughter, who revealed the sexual abuse in a college application essay.

Washington goes to pot? U.S. capital may vote on legal marijuana

WASHINGTON - Supporters of legal marijuana in Washington on Monday delivered more than double the signatures needed to put the issue on a ballot, an initiative that could face congressional opposition.

Bahrain says senior U.S official persona non grata: BNA

MANAMA - Bahrain on Monday declared a senior U.S. official persona non grata and asked him to leave the kingdom immediately, state news agency BNA said, because he had "intervened flagrantly" in the country's internal affairs.

Exclusive: CIA had role in Germany spy affair

WASHINGTON - The Central Intelligence Agency was involved in a spying operation against Germany that led to the alleged recruitment of a German intelligence official and has prompted renewed outrage in Berlin, two U.S. officials familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Dozens injured, nine dead in bloody holiday weekend in Chicago

CHICAGO - The Fourth of July holiday weekend brought an explosion of gunfire to Chicago, with roughly 50 people shot and nine killed, authorities said on Monday.

Washington state to issue retail pot licenses on Monday

SEATTLE - Washington state takes the final step in legalizing recreational marijuana use on Monday when officials begin to issue retail licenses to stores that could begin selling cannabis 24 hours later.

Obstruction trial opens for friend of accused Boston bomber

BOSTON - A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber goes on trial on Monday charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

Bloomberg group to poll U.S. candidates on gun stances: Post

WASHINGTON - The gun-control group founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will begin to survey all congressional candidates in the 2014 midterm elections on firearms issues, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

Opponents ask U.S. judge to halt sweeping voter law in North Carolina

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. - A federal judge will be asked on Monday to block key provisions of North Carolina's overhauled voter law, including fewer early voting days and the elimination of same-day registration, from remaining in effect for November's midterm elections.

California man says was 'eye to eye' with attacking shark

- A California man said on Sunday he was “eye to eye” with a great white shark before an attack he thought would kill him as he swam near Manhattan Beach in Southern California.

Massachusetts homes evacuated after suspected explosives found

BOSTON - Authorities briefly evacuated homes on Sunday after discovering what appeared to be bomb-making materials, firearms and ammunition in a dead man's home in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Ordinary people outnumber targeted foreigners in NSA data: Washington Post

WASHINGTON - The Washington Post said on Saturday a study of a large collection of communications intercepted by the U.S. National Security Agency showed that ordinary Internet users, including Americans, far outnumbered legally targeted foreigners caught in the surveillance.

Arthur, no longer a hurricane, pelts Maritime Canada

- Arthur weakened from hurricane force on Saturday and pelted parts of Canada's eastern coast with heavy rain and strong winds, leaving 250,000 homes and businesses without power, as the storm swept away from New England.

Marijuana shortage seen ahead of Washington state retail pot rollout

SEATTLE - His glass pipes are on display and final regulatory hurdles nearly cleared, but the biggest concern for Cannabis City owner James Lathrop as he opens his Seattle pot shop this week is the possibility of running out of mind-altering bud in a matter of hours.

Boeing 737 fuselages damaged in train derailment

SEATTLE - A train derailment in Montana this week damaged a shipment of jetliner fuselages and other large parts on its way to Boeing Co factories in Washington state from Spirit Aerosystems, Boeing said on Saturday.

Indiana police officer dies after late night firefight

- An Indianapolis police officer was killed in a late night shootout in an alley, law enforcement officials said Sunday.

U.S. tightens security on electronics at overseas airports

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will not allow cellphones or other electronic devices on U.S.-bound planes at some overseas airports if the devices are not charged up, the agency said on Sunday.

U.S. needs 'to do right' for immigrant children: official

WASHINGTON - A top U.S. official said on Sunday the U.S. border is not open to illegal entry into the country, but acknowledged the government does need to be sensitive to the tens of thousands of migrant children flowing into detention centers.

Indiana police officer found fatally shot in patrol car

- An Indiana police officer was discovered fatally shot in his patrol car early Sunday, state police said.

New York firefighter dies in cluttered apartment in burning high-rise

NEW YORK - A New York City firefighter recently honored for saving the life of a young boy was killed battling an electrical blaze at a high-rise building that began in a dangerously cluttered apartment, officials said on Sunday.

Great white shark bites swimmer in Southern California

LOS ANGELES - A 7 foot (2 meter) great white shark bit a swimmer off the coast near Manhattan Beach in Southern California on Saturday, leaving the man with moderate injuries, a fire department official said.

Boats collide after Miami fireworks displays killing four people

MIAMI - Four people died after boats collided near a marina south of downtown Miami tossing at least a dozen people into the dark waters following Fourth of July fireworks displays, authorities said on Saturday.

California Highway Patrol probes video of officer punching woman

LOS ANGELES - California Highway Patrol is investigating a video showing an officer pummeling a woman alongside a Los Angeles freeway during an arrest that began with an attempt to stop her from walking into traffic, an agency spokeswoman said on Saturday.

One critical after seven shot in Indianapolis nightclub district

- Seven people were shot and wounded, one critically, early Saturday in an Indianapolis night club district after an argument broke out between two people, police said.

Search for missing toddler ends with body found in NY City lake

NEW YORK - A family outing to a New York City park ended in tragedy on Saturday after a 2-year-old girl wandered off, and police divers found her body in a lake after an hours-long search, authorities said.

Cash incentive mulled to give endangered Florida panther room to prowl

TAMPA Fla. - The endangered Florida panther, running out of room to prowl as its numbers rebound, may find its best chance at survival is a program to pay distrustful ranchers to protect what remains of its habitat.

Protesters gather, await arrival of undocumented immigrants in California

MURRIETA Calif. - Immigration demonstrations intensified in a southern California town on Friday as protesters filled a desolate road to a U.S. Customs and Border Station to await the arrival of undocumented Central American families for processing.

Conjoined Ohio twins, 62, mark a milestone

CLEVELAND - (In Friday story, corrects year of birth for Bunker twins to 1811, instead of 1881, and amends first paragraph to make clear the celebration is not open to the public)

Threatening call prompts evacuations, bomb search at Harvard

CAMBRIDGE Mass. - A call from a man claiming to have an assault rifle at Harvard University and to have planted bombs there prompted police on Saturday to evacuate several buildings at the campus and launch a search for explosives, but the area was later declared safe, authorities said.

Six hurt in shooting and stampede at Houston Caribbean festival

- A shooter opened fire into a crowd at a Caribbean festival in Houston in the early hours of Saturday, critically wounding one man and injuring three others, and police said they were looking for the attacker.

Protesters gather, await arrival of undocumented immigrants in California

MURRIETA Calif. - Immigration demonstrations intensified in a southern California town on Friday as protesters filled a desolate road to a U.S. Customs and Border Station to await the arrival of undocumented Central American families for processing.

Police identify suspect sought in fatal New Orleans shooting

- Police in New Orleans on Friday identified a suspect in a shooting in the city's popular French Quarter last weekend in which a woman was killed and nine people were wounded.

Father of Nicole Brown Simpson dies at age 90

- The father of Nicole Brown Simpson, the slain ex-wife of retired American football star O.J. Simpson, has died, a family spokeswoman said on Friday.

Conjoined Ohio twins, 62, mark a milestone

CLEVELAND - The world’s oldest conjoined twins plan to celebrate surpassing the life span of the original “Siamese Twins” on Saturday with a public celebration in Ohio.

Weaker Hurricane Arthur takes aim at Nantucket, Cape Cod

BOSTON - A weakened but fast-moving Hurricane Arthur swept into southern New England on Friday night, wielding tropical storm-force winds, after an earlier landfall in North Carolina that caused only slight damage.

Hot dogs gobbled, small-town parades cheered as U.S. marks soggy July 4

NEW YORK - Hot-dog eating champs, backyard picnickers and small-town parade lovers pressed on with Fourth of July celebrations on Friday, some featuring less sizzle than usual after Hurricane Arthur dampened many Independence Day plans.

Illinois man suspected in two murders is arrested in Wisconsin

- Police in Wisconsin arrested an Illinois man on Friday who is suspected of killing two people and became the target of a nationwide manhunt.

Ex-priest who killed nun dies in prison after plea rejected

- An ex-priest convicted of murdering a nun died behind bars on Friday, a day after a federal judge rejected his plea for compassionate release for his final days, a spokesman for Ohio's governor said.

On July Fourth holiday, Obama urges immigration overhaul

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama told Americans on the Independence Day holiday on Friday that welcoming immigrants to the United States is "central to our way of life" as he made an impassioned argument for a new immigration policy.

Red, white and blah start to July Fourth holiday under soggy skies

NEW YORK - Stormy skies over the U.S. East Coast made for a red, white and blah start to the July Fourth holiday on Friday, threatening to wash out small-town parades, family barbecues and fireworks displays.

Phones, shoes to face scrutiny as airport security tightened: U.S.

WASHINGTON - Airlines with direct flights to the United States have been told to tighten screening of mobile phones and shoes in response to intelligence reports of increased threats from al Qaeda-affiliated militant groups, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Hurricane Arthur scythes through Outer Banks of North Carolina

NAGS HEAD N.C. - The first hurricane of the Atlantic season has hit the North Carolina coast, a wet and windy spoiler of the July Fourth holiday for thousands of Americans as authorities ordered them to evacuate exposed areas.

Foster Farms recalls some chicken, 16 months into salmonella outbreak

- California-based poultry giant Foster Farms will recall some of the contaminated chicken linked to a massive salmonella outbreak that has stretched on for 16 months and sickened hundreds of consumers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Foster Farms announced late Thursday.

Retired U.S. Navy commander pleads guilty in bribery scandal

SAN DIEGO - A retired U.S. Navy commander pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges on Thursday in connection with a wide-ranging corruption investigation of a Singapore-based defense contractor.

National hunt for Illinois man suspected in two murders

- Authorities released new pictures on Thursday in a national hunt for an Illinois man suspected of killing a woman at a rest stop west of Chicago and taking her car a day after killing a man in the northern part of the state.

Arthur strengthens to Category 2 hurricane as it nears North Carolina

MIAMI - Hurricane Arthur was upgraded to a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds at 100 miles per hour (160 kilometers per hour), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Thursday evening.

U.S. war hero Louis Zamperini, inspiration for 'Unbroken,' dead at 97

LOS ANGELES - Louis Zamperini, an American prisoner of war in World War Two and Olympic runner whose life inspired the book and upcoming feature film "Unbroken," has died at age 97.

Texas governor renews calls for National Guard at U.S.-Mexico border

AUSTIN Texas - Texas Governor Rick Perry and a key U.S. lawmaker renewed Republican calls on Thursday for National Guard troops to be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border to help stem a surge of Central American nationals entering the United States illegally.

North Carolina's outer banks to take full force of hurricane Arthur

HATTERAS ISLAND, N.C, - The first hurricane of the Atlantic season gained strength on Thursday as it spun closer to the North Carolina coast, bringing the anticipated stiff wind gusts and heavy rain that forced thousands of vacationers to scrap their July Fourth holiday plans amid evacuation orders.

National hunt for Illinois man suspected in two murders

- Authorities released new pictures on Thursday in a national hunt for an Illinois man suspected of killing a woman at a rest stop west of Chicago and taking her car a day after killing a man in the northern part of the state.

U.S. grounds entire F-35 fleet pending engine inspections

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military on Thursday said it had grounded the entire fleet of Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets until completion of additional inspections of the warplane's single engine built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

Police investigating two possible hate crimes from San Francisco gay pride weekend

SAN FRANCISCO - Police are investigating two physical attacks during San Francisco's gay pride celebration over the weekend as possible hate crimes, an officer said on Thursday.

Robbers attack PA gun collectors home, leave with 31 guns

PITTSBURGH - Robbers attacked an elderly gun collector in his western Pennsylvania home and escaped with an arsenal of 31 firearms, at least 14 of which are still missing.

Texas governor renews calls for National Guard at U.S.-Mexico border

AUSTIN Texas - Texas Governor Rick Perry and a key U.S. lawmaker renewed Republican calls on Thursday for National Guard troops to be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border to help stem a surge of Central American nationals entering the United States illegally.

Death of Detroit-area soccer referee ruled a homicide

- The death of a soccer referee who was punched by a player during a game over the weekend in a Detroit suburb was ruled a homicide on Thursday, a step that could lead to more severe charges against the man accused of hitting him.

Errors, staff absences behind $300 mln New York City gaff: report

NEW YORK - Absent employees, flawed processes, and inadequate systems were among a catalog of problems uncovered at New York City agencies in a new report into why nearly $300 million of city money was erroneously paid out to pensioners earlier this year.

Dead South Carolina teen's family skeptical of police suicide probe

CHARLESTON S.C. - Civil rights advocates and the family of a 19-year-old former Army recruit fatally shot during a June 20 encounter with a South Carolina police officer are questioning the claim by law enforcement that his death appears to have been a suicide.

Suspected Seattle killer may have met victims through gay social app

SEATTLE - A man suspected of killing two gay men in Seattle last month may have targeted his victims using a social networking app geared toward gay men and police are investigating their deaths as a possible hate crime, authorities said on Thursday.

Tennessee man wins $153.5 million in state's largest lottery jackpot

- A self-employed Tennessee man on Thursday claimed a cool $153.5 million cash prize after winning the largest Powerball prize in state history.

Oklahoma police arrest rape suspect left in a coma after car crash

OKLAHOMA CITY - Tulsa Police have arrested a 30-year-old man on suspicion of the sexual assault of eight women after finding the man in a weekend car crash that put him into a coma, police officials said on Thursday.

Washington 'Beltway sniper' appeals ruling on life sentence

- Lawyers for convicted "Beltway sniper" Lee Boyd Malvo are appealing a federal judge's rejection of his claim that his life sentence is unconstitutional, according to court documents.

Wildfire near California's wine country grows overnight

SAN FRANCISCO - A wildfire near Northern California's Napa Valley wine country grew overnight Thursday, devouring 4,300 acres and two houses, and prompting more evacuations, officials said.

New Mexico middle school shooter sentenced to detention until age 21

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. - A 13-year-old boy who brought a sawed-off shotgun to his New Mexico middle school and wounded two classmates in January has been sentenced to be held in juvenile detention until age 21, a court official said on Thursday.

Brooklyn cabbie convicted of plotting Pakistan 'honor killings'

NEW YORK - A New York cab driver was found guilty on Thursday of conspiring with relatives in Pakistan to commit "honor killings" of family members of a relative he believed helped his daughter escape back to the United States.

Dying ex-priest convicted of killing nun denied prison release

CLEVELAND - A dying ex-priest convicted of stabbing an Ohio nun to death cannot obtain an early release for his final days, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

Boy hit in Arizona target-shooting accident dies

- A 9-year-old boy who was shot in the neck by a bullet ricochet while target shooting in the Arizona desert died on Thursday of his wounds, authorities said.

Rhode Island governor signs minimum wage increase

- Rhode Island's Democratic governor, Lincoln Chafee, has signed a bill to increase the state's minimum wage by $1, to $9 an hour, his office said on Thursday, following similar moves by neighboring New England states.

Police release man questioned in New Orleans shootout

NEW ORLEANS - Authorities set free a 20-year-old man on Thursday after questioning him about a weekend shootout on New Orleans' Bourbon Street that left one person dead and nine others wounded.

Georgia man charged with killing son researched child-free living: police

ATLANTA - A suburban Atlanta man charged with murder after his 22-month-old son died from being left in a hot car for seven hours was having marital and work problems and wanted to live a child-free life, prosecutors said on Thursday.

One dead, three badly hurt in Texas school fireworks explosion

DALLAS - One person was killed and three others severely injured when a truck trailer carrying fireworks for a Fourth of July celebration at a central Texas high school exploded on Thursday as workers prepared the show, a fire official said.

Exclusive: Motiva Port Arthur refinery reaches throughput milestone - sources

HOUSTON - The nation's largest refinery hit a throughput milestone last week, processing 615,000 barrels in one day for the first time since a series of setbacks that followed its $10 billion expansion, sources familiar with operations said.

Hurricane Arthur expected to begin weakening: NHC

- Hurricane Arthur was expected to begin weakening by Friday night and become a post-tropical storm by Saturday as conditions for its development have been deteriorating along the coast of North Carolina, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory.

U.S. services sector activity accelerates in June: Markit

NEW YORK, - The final reading for activity in the U.S. services sector hit its highest in 4-1/2 years, pushed higher by increasing new business activity and hiring, a survey showed on Thursday.

U.S. job growth surges, unemployment rate near six-year low

WASHINGTON - U.S. employment growth jumped in June and the jobless rate closed in on a six-year low, decisive evidence the economy was moving forward at a brisk clip after a surprisingly big slump at the start of the year.

U.S. service sector growth slows slightly in June: ISM survey

NEW YORK - The pace of growth in the U.S. services sector slowed slightly in June as business activity decelerated, even as new orders and employment growth sped up, according to an industry report released on Thursday.

Wisconsin man accused of hiding corpses in suitcases due in court

MILWAUKEE - A former police officer suspected in the deaths of two women is due in court on Thursday for a hearing on charges that he stored their corpses in suitcases found beside a rural Wisconsin road in June.

California student dies on hiking trip with fraternity: reports

- A California university fraternity has been ordered to stop all activities after a student died on hiking trip with group members in the Angeles National Forest, the university said, according to local media.

Pot shops buzz, crime eases as Colorado law marks 6 months

DENVER - At the Native Roots Apothecary, a discreet marijuana shop in a grand old building in Denver's busy 16th street shopping mall, business is so brisk that customers are given a number before taking a seat to wait their turn.

U.S. war hero Louis Zamperini, inspiration for 'Unbroken,' dead at 97: Variety

- Louis Zamperini, an American prisoner of war in World War Two and Olympic runner whose life inspired the book and upcoming feature film "Unbroken," has died at age 97, Variety reported on Thursday.

U.S. war hero Louis Zamperini, inspiration for 'Unbroken,' dead at 97: Variety

- Louis Zamperini, an American prisoner of war in World War Two and Olympic runner whose life inspired the book and upcoming feature film "Unbroken," has died at age 97, Variety reported on Thursday.

GMO labeling initiative moves a step closer to Oregon ballot

PORTLAND Ore.  - An initiative requiring mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods in Oregon moved one step closer to the November ballot on Wednesday after advocates said they submitted more than enough qualifying signatures to the state. 

Victim in New Orleans Bourbon Street shootout dies

NEW ORLEANS - A 21-year-old woman caught in the crossfire of a weekend shootout on New Orleans' famed Bourbon Street has died, police said on Wednesday.

U.S. investigators will not reopen TWA Flight 800 crash probe

WASHINGTON - The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday it will not reconsider its finding that the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 was caused by a fuel tank explosion.

New York construction companies accused of safety scam

NEW YORK - Two New York City construction companies and seven people have been accused of leaving 40 Manhattan construction sites unsupervised, conducting fraudulent inspections and falsifying records, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Wildfire near California's wine country threatens homes

SAN FRANCISCO - In the midst of a statewide drought, a wildfire has consumed 3,200 acres (1,295 hectares) near Northern California's Napa Valley wine country, threatening nearly 400 homes and prompting evacuations, officials said Wednesday.

New York reaches deal with city's biggest public sector union

NEW YORK - New York City has signed a tentative contract with the city largest public sector labor group, District Council 37, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.

Colorado woman accused of supporting Islamist insurgents in Iraq and Syria

DENVER - Federal authorities in Denver have arrested a woman accused of providing material support to Islamist insurgents fighting the governments of Syria and Iraq, and of conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, officials said on Wednesday.

U.S. increases security at overseas airports amid bomb concerns

WASHINGTON - The United States said on Wednesday it would increase security at overseas airports with nonstop flights to the country and U.S. officials cited concerns al Qaeda operatives in Syria and Yemen were developing bombs that could be smuggled onto planes.

Facebook removes hunting photos of Texas teen that raised ire

DALLAS - Facebook has removed some photographs of a Texas teenager posing with freshly killed animals she hunted during a recent safari in South Africa that had been criticized by users as inappropriate, the company said on Wednesday.

Californians don't like wage gap, disagree on how to fix it: poll

SAN FRANCISCO - Most Californians say the wage gap has gotten worse in the most populous U.S. state, but divide along party lines on what to do about it, a new poll shows.

Ohio teenage wrestler died from caffeine overdose -coroner

CLEVELAND - A healthy 18-year-old Ohio high school wrestler died last month from an overdose of powdered caffeine, a county coroner said on Wednesday.

Jurors ordered to keep deliberating in Los Angeles Dodgers lawsuit

LOS ANGELES - Jurors weighing a $37 million lawsuit against the Los Angeles Dodgers and their former owner by a fan who was badly beaten at the team's stadium on Opening Day 2011 told a judge on Wednesday they had been unable to reach a verdict, a court officer said.

Accused Shining Path leaders face terror, drug charges in New York

NEW YORK - Three accused leaders of Peru's Shining Path were charged in New York on Wednesday with running a drug trafficking ring to fund the insurgent group, federal authorities announced.

U.S. storm Arthur to pack hurricane winds by July 4 holiday

- Tropical Storm Arthur threatened to douse some July 4 holiday plans on the U.S. East Coast as officials in several states closed beaches and tourist sites and delayed fireworks shows in anticipation of heavy rain and fierce winds.

Colorado woman accused of supporting Islamist insurgents in Iraq and Syria

DENVER - Federal authorities in Denver have arrested a woman accused of providing material support to Islamist insurgents fighting the governments of Syria and Iraq, and of conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, officials said Wednesday.

Colorado attorney general seeks moratorium on same-sex marriage litigation

DENVER - The Colorado attorney general's office filed a motion in federal court on Wednesday, seeking an injunction to suspend same-sex marriage litigation in the state until the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately rules on the issue.

Missouri town picks solvency over flood fight as river rises

COLUMBIA Mo. - A small Missouri town repeatedly threatened by a rising Mississippi River is choosing to let residents fend for themselves this year rather than face potential bankruptcy to pay for another municipally organized fight against flooding.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoes gun legislation

NEWARK N.J. - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Wednesday vetoed a bill approved by the state legislature that would have reduced the legal size of ammunition magazines from 15 to 10 bullets, saying it would do nothing to end mass shootings.

California tightens some water restrictions as drought continues

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California on Wednesday made it easier for regulators to enforce drought-related pumping restrictions in slow-moving creeks and lakes, prompting worry among farmers as the state enters the dry summer season.

Former hub airports find new life after downsizing

ATLANTA - When an airline cuts back on the number of "hubs" in its system, for an affected city the economic pain can be deep and wide.

Five injured after Brooklyn Bridge facade collapses

- A section of a stone facade inside a Brooklyn Bridge underpass collapsed late on Wednesday evening, injuring five people, a New York City fire official said.

Illinois high court to rule on reach of pension protections

CHICAGO - A ruling expected Thursday from the Illinois Supreme Court involving a change to public worker benefits could provide insight on how justices may eventually rule on the constitutionality of a landmark state pension reform law.

U.S. storm Arthur to pack hurricane winds by July 4 holiday

- Tropical Storm Arthur threatened to douse some July 4 holiday plans on the U.S. East Coast as officials ordered evacuations of some low-lying coastal areas, closed beaches and tourist sites and delayed fireworks shows in anticipation of heavy rain and fierce winds.

U.S. increases security at overseas airports amid bomb concerns

WASHINGTON - The United States said on Wednesday it would increase security at overseas airports with nonstop flights to the country, and U.S. officials cited concerns al Qaeda operatives in Syria and Yemen were developing bombs that could be smuggled onto planes.

More Central American migrants sent to California despite backlash

SAN DIEGO - Residents of a Southern California town confronted their mayor on Wednesday over the arrival of Central American migrants for processing after they slipped across the Mexico border into Texas, extending an influx that has swamped authorities there.

Six Los Angeles sheriff's officials convicted in federal jail probe: reports

- Six Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials were found guilty on Tuesday of obstructing a federal investigation into violence and other misconduct against prisoners at county jails, California media reported.

U.S. privacy board says NSA Internet spying program is effective but worrying

- The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA)'s data collection program has been an effective tool to enhance the country's security but some elements of the cyber-spying raises privacy concerns, a U.S. federal privacy watchdog said in a report.

Boston mayor to ask Massachusetts to hold off on casino license

BOSTON - Boston's mayor is due to ask Massachusetts gaming regulators on Wednesday to put off awarding a casino license near the city until November, after a statewide ballot initiative on repealing the law allowing casinos in the state.

Pre-teen defendants in 'Slenderman' stabbing case due in court

MILWAUKEE - Two Wisconsin girls accused of luring a friend into the woods and stabbing her 19 times to please a fictional Internet character are due back in court on Wednesday where the mental competency of one may be addressed.

Mistrial threat looms over case of friend of accused Boston bomber

BOSTON - Four days after the deadly Boston Marathon bombings, dozens of heavily armed federal agents surrounded the home of two friends of the suspected bomber, ordered them out and took the men in handcuffs to a police station for hours of interrogation.

California universities to start sustainable agriculture programs

BERKELEY Calif. - University of California campuses would buy food from local growers, grant more scholarships to agriculture students and teach farmers in the United States and around the world how to grow food with less water under a new initiative announced Tuesday.

Miners dredge protected Idaho river in protest of federal oversight

SALMON Idaho - Protesters gathered to illegally dredge for gold on Tuesday in an Idaho river where such mining is banned, in an open challenge to the U.S. government's authority to regulate public waters and lands in Western states, an organizer said.

California so-called 'nightmare nanny' says was exploited by family

- A woman dubbed the "nightmare nanny" in U.S. media after she refused to move out of the house of a California family she was working for has said she was being exploited.

New York state senator faces charge of lying about getting son a job

NEW YORK - A powerful Republican New York state senator has been indicted on a charge of lying to the FBI during an investigation into a business deal involving his son, according to court documents unsealed on Tuesday.

Hyundai Motor recalls 58,000 Elantra Touring cars in North America

DETROIT - Hyundai Motor Co is recalling 58,000 Elantra Touring cars in the United States and Canada from model years 2010 to 2012 because a support bracket to the car's headliner may become displaced during a side curtain air bag deployment, U.S. safety regulators said.

Storms leave power outages, flooding, flight delays in central U.S

- Hundreds of thousands of people were without power on Tuesday and trying to clean up damaged homes and clear roads after a deadly storm that brought tornadoes, high winds, hail and heavy rain to the central United States.

Anti-immigration protesters block undocumented migrants in California

MURRIETA Calif. - A group of protesters shouting anti-immigration slogans blocked the arrival of two buses carrying undocumented Central American families to a U.S. Border Patrol station in California on Tuesday after they were flown to San Diego from Texas.

Arizona psychiatry professor says fired over marijuana research

PHOENIX - A University of Arizona researcher hoping to explore whether marijuana can help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder was fired in a move that she said on Tuesday was payback for her high-profile advocacy regarding the work.

Obamacare exchanges see problems with eligiblity data: watchdog

WASHINGTON - Online insurance marketplaces created under President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law have struggled to verify whether Americans who applied for government subsidies to purchase health insurance are actually qualified to receive them, a federal watchdog agency said on Tuesday.

Design issues may delay California driver's licenses for undocumented migrants

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California may have to delay its plan to start issuing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants next year if a conflict between state and federal authorities over the design of the permits is not resolved soon.

Anti-immigration protesters block undocumented migrants in California

MURRIETA Calif. - A group of protesters shouting anti-immigration slogans blocked the arrival of three buses carrying undocumented Central American families to a U.S. Border Patrol station in California on Tuesday after they were flown to San Diego from Texas.

Defense, prosecutors in Colorado theater massacre case trade accusations

DENVER - Prosecutors in the Colorado movie theater massacre case responded on Tuesday to defense charges of foul play by accusing lawyers for gunman James Holmes of seeking to exploit victims' families to gain a legal advantage.

Storms leave power outages, flooding, flight delays in central U.S.

- Hundreds of thousands of people were without power on Tuesday after a deadly storm that brought tornadoes, high winds, hail and heavy rain to the central United States.

Labor talks for U.S. West Coast ports to continue despite end of deal

LOS ANGELES - Labor negotiations between operators of West Coast port terminals and the union representing nearly 20,000 dock workers will continue, even though a six-year labor agreement expired on Tuesday, both sides said.

Explosion of propane tank in Philadelphia lunch truck injures 11

PHILADELPHIA - An exploding propane tank on a lunch truck sent a ball of fire across a Philadelphia street on Tuesday, critically injuring two people and spreading debris far and wide, police said.

Cousteau's grandson to surface after record underwater stay

MIAMI - Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famed French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, is due to emerge from the turquoise waters off the Florida Keys on Tuesday morning, marking the end of a record-breaking, 31-day stay inside an underwater habitat with a team of scientists and documentary filmmakers.

California's Napa County wildfire sparks evacuations, damage

- A fast-spreading wildfire was sweeping through a remote swath of California's Napa Valley on Tuesday, forcing evacuations and damaging structures, fire officials and local media said.

Arizona rat breeder accused of cruelty after hundreds of rats die

PHOENIX - An Arizona man was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty after hundreds of dying or dead domesticated rats were found inside a large trailer north of Phoenix, authorities said on Tuesday.

Berkeley residents to vote on soda tax in November

BERKELEY Calif. - A California college town known for its liberal activism will vote in November on whether to place a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages, touching off the latest obesity-fighting campaign in the United States.

Ahead of key U.S. game, American fans catch soccer fever

- American soccer fans decked out in red, white and blue were expected to flock to stadiums and giant TV screens on Tuesday to cheer their national team in a World Cup clash with Belgium that could be the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history.

Detroit bankruptcy judge keeps city lawsuit on pension debt alive

- A federal judge has blocked an initial attempt to stop Detroit from trying to invalidate $1.4 billion of debt sold to boost funding for the city's two retirement systems.

Soccer referee dies after assault by player in suburban Detroit

- A soccer referee who was punched in the head by a player during a weekend game in a Detroit suburb has died, police said on Tuesday.

First Atlantic tropical depression forms east of Florida: NHC

- A low-pressure area east of Florida has turned into a tropical depression, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Tuesday in its latest advisory.

Washington legal pot effort has enough signatures for vote -chairman

WASHINGTON - Backers of legal marijuana in Washington have enough signatures to put the issue to a referendum that faces potential hurdles in Congress, the initiative's head said on Tuesday.

Idaho university allows armed patrols as law takes effect

SALMON Idaho - Public safety officers armed with semi-automatic pistols will patrol Idaho State University for the first time on Tuesday to safeguard students and staff, in response to a new state law allowing concealed weapons on college campuses.

Texas man who sought to blow up pipeline, wrote to Unabomber in plea deal

DALLAS - A Texas man accused of trying to blow up a gas pipeline and seeking guidance from Unabomber Ted Kaczynski reached a plea deal with prosecutors under which he will go to prison for an undisclosed term, court documents filed on Tuesday said.

Monica Lewinsky revisits 'humiliation' of Clinton affair in interview

NEW YORK - Monica Lewinsky, the one-time White House intern whose affair with Bill Clinton in the 1990s nearly brought down his presidency, said she ended up feeling like "the most humiliated woman in the world."

U.S. court strikes down Kentucky same-sex marriage ban

- A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in Kentucky as a violation of the U.S. Constitution, the latest in a string of court rulings across the United States voiding state laws that restrict the right to marry.

Three men killed crossing Atlanta road likely drunk: police

ATLANTA - Three men were likely intoxicated when they tried to walk across a busy 12-lane interstate highway in Atlanta and were struck and killed by a pickup truck early on Tuesday, according to local police.

Brazilian tourists leapfrog Britons visiting Florida

ORLANDO Fla. - Forget those stay-at-home, World Cup soccer-obsessed Brazilians.

Former NFL star Hernandez, facing murder charges, featured in calendar

- Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who has traded the gridiron for the courtroom as he faces charges of murdering three men, is featured as the July image in a calendar approved by his alma mater, the University of Florida, before he was charged, a university spokesman said on Tuesday.

Judge overturns conviction, frees New York's 'cannibal cop'

NEW YORK - A federal judge on Tuesday ordered New York's "cannibal cop" released from jail after overturning the former city police officer's conviction for plotting to kidnap, kill and cook women.

Pitt, Penn State most expensive public colleges in U.S.

HARRISBURG Pa. - A study by the U.S. Department of Education shows that the main campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University are the most costly four-year public colleges in the country.

Baby birthed by teenage mother found buried in North Carolina: police

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. - A North Carolina teenager appears to have concealed her pregnancy from her parents before giving birth to a baby girl whose body was found buried in the family's yard, local police said on Tuesday.

Kerry warns U.S. will deport undocumented Central American children

PANAMA CITY - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday Washington would work with Central America to address the root causes of an immigration crisis, but kept up the Obama administration's tough message that undocumented children would be deported.

Massachusetts family says VA offer of help came two years late

BOSTON - Last month, Suzanne Chase opened a letter from a Veterans Affairs hospital offering her husband medical help - an offer that she said came nearly two years after his death.

Texas woman sentenced for million dollar shoplifting ring

SAN ANTONIO - A Texas woman has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking part in an international shoplifting ring where members used oversized bags to steal millions of dollars worth of goods from high-end stores, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Obamacare exchanges not properly verifying applicant data: watchdog

WASHINGTON - Online insurance marketplaces created under President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law are struggling to verify whether Americans who applied for government subsidies to purchase health insurance are actually qualified to receive them, a federal watchdog agency said on Tuesday.

Oregon grandmother arrested after toddler drinks meth-laced tea

PORTLAND Ore.  - An Oregon grandmother who authorities said made a cup of methamphetamine-laced tea while visiting family in California is facing a felony child endangerment charge after her 2-year-old granddaughter drank the concoction and was hospitalized.

Three hurt in explosion at GM Indiana auto stamping plant

DETROIT - General Motors Co said on Tuesday a "small explosion" at its auto stamping plant in Marion, Indiana, injured three workers and caused a suspension of production as the factory was evacuated.

Colorado clerk again refuses to halt issuing same-sex marriage licenses

BOULDER Colo. - A county clerk in Colorado refused on Tuesday an ultimatum by the state attorney general to stop unilaterally issuing same-sex marriage licenses until the U.S. Supreme Court settles the issue, or face legal action.

Benghazi attack suspect has been talking to U.S. interrogators: officials

WASHINGTON - A Libyan militant accused of involvement in the 2012 attacks on U.S. government installations in Benghazi, Libya, has been talking to U.S. interrogators, U.S. officials familiar with the matter said.

Prosecutors urge judge to keep accused bomber's trial in Boston

BOSTON - Federal prosecutors on Tuesday urged a judge to reject accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's request to move his trial outside of the city, saying there was no evidence that it would be impossible to select an impartial jury.

Worker killed in explosion at GM Indiana auto stamping plant

DETROIT - One worker was killed on Tuesday and four others hurt in a chemical explosion at a General Motors Co auto stamping plant in Marion, Indiana, the company said.

Colorado attorney general asks county to stop same-sex marriage licenses

DENVER - Colorado's solicitor general wants a county in the state to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses until separate legislation over the status of such marriages is settled by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Denver Post reported Monday.

Conviction overturned for woman who aided 'squawk-box' prosecutors

NEW YORK - A U.S. judge has vacated the conviction of a former Merrill Lynch administrative assistant who lied to a grand jury under pressure from her boss but then helped convict six former brokers and traders of generating illegal profits with information they overheard on a "squawk box."

White House defends Obama's pick to lead veterans affairs

WASHINGTON - The White House on Monday defended President Barack Obama's choice to lead the troubled Veterans Administration, stressing that the nominee is a seasoned manager and dismissing concerns that he may lack a understanding of issues facing recent war veterans.

Fault lines re-emerge in U.S. Supreme Court at end of term

WASHINGTON - Sometimes there is no middle ground.

U.S. CDC tests suggest anthrax exposures 'highly unlikely'

CHICAGO - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising some employees to stop taking antibiotics to ward off a possible anthrax infection after preliminary tests suggest it is "highly unlikely" they were inadvertently exposed to live anthrax bacteria earlier this month, a spokesman said on Monday.

Exclusive: Jury awards $8.1 million to investor who alleged BB&T misled him

- A jury in a South Carolina state court on Monday awarded $8.1 million to a former adviser who sold his wealth management business to BB&T Corp and later alleged that the bank mismanaged his retirement nest egg with a risky strategy, according to a person familiar with the matter.

PA woman 'doctor' charged after giving physicals to truckers

PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania woman using bogus medical credentials to pose as a doctor was accused of identity theft and other charges after reportedly giving physical examinations to as many as 16 truckers.

Jury selection opens for accused Texas bomber who wrote to Unabomber

DALLAS - Jury selection began on Monday in the trial of a Texas man accused of trying to blow up a natural gas pipeline and suspected of seeking guidance from jailed Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Firearms makers moving to more gun-friendly U.S. southern states

CHARLESTON S.C. - The first gun manufacturer to leave Connecticut after it enacted tough new gun control laws last year in the wake of the Newtown school shootings presented a commemorative rifle on Monday to the governor of South Carolina, its new home.

Utah car thief returns minivan after finding toddler inside

SALT LAKE CITY - A would-be car thief surrendered to Utah authorities after realizing the family minivan she sped off in was carrying precious human cargo, a 3-year old girl, Salt Lake City police said on Monday.

New Yorkers hold solidarity vigil for slain Israeli teenagers

NEW YORK - Several hundred people waving Israeli flags and expressing grief and solidarity held a vigil in New York on Monday after the bodies of three missing Israeli teenagers were found in the occupied West Bank.  

Whole South Dakota town for sale at under $400,000

- Prospective buyers who want to be masters of their own domains could turn to southwestern South Dakota, where an entire town can be had for $399,000.

Fault lines re-emerge in U.S. Supreme Court at end of term

WASHINGTON - Sometimes there is no middle ground.

Former Calpers CEO plans to plead guilty to conspiracy

- A former chief executive of Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, plans to plead guilty in a federal conspiracy case, according to his lawyer.

Boy, 12, found shot to death at Boy Scout camp in San Diego

SAN DIEGO - A 12-year-old boy from Las Vegas was found dead of a gunshot wound at a Boy Scouts of America summer camp in San Diego, police said on Monday.

After wet weekend, new tornadoes, floods seen in U.S. Midwest

- A strong storm front that proved deadly in Iowa moved through northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin on Monday, bringing with it hurricane-force winds and thunderstorms that damaged homes and took down trees and power lines.

U.S. to move some Central American immigrants to California

LOS ANGELES - Some 140 illegal immigrants, many of them women with children, will be flown from Texas to California and processed through a San Diego-area U.S. Border Patrol station as federal officials deal with a crush of Central American migrants at the border, a local mayor said on Monday.

U.S. soldier charged with murder after death of Panamanian woman

MEXICO CITY - U.S. military authorities charged on Monday a U.S. soldier with "unpremeditated murder" after he allegedly killed a Panamanian woman, an army spokeswoman said.

Exclusive: South Carolina jury awards $8.1 million to investor who was misled by BB&T

- A South Carolina jury on Monday awarded $8.1 million to a former adviser who sold his wealth management business to BB&T Corp and later alleged that the company mismanaged his retirement nest egg with a risky strategy, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Boy, 12, found shot to death at Boy Scouts camp in San Diego

SAN DIEGO - A 12-year-old boy from Las Vegas was found dead of a gunshot wound at a Boy Scouts of America summer camp in San Diego, police said on Monday.

Indianapolis woman sues police after being stopped over bumper sticker

- An Indianapolis woman has sued the city's police department, contending that an order to remove an "Unmarked Police Car" bumper sticker from her minivan violated her rights to free speech, the group representing her said on Monday.

U.S. seeks nine years prison for ex-Jefferies trader in fraud case

- U.S. prosecutors have recommended that Jesse Litvak, the former Jefferies Group Inc trader convicted of defrauding investors in mortgage bond trades after the financial crisis, be sentenced to nine years in prison and a $5 million fine.

Florida judge suspended for courthouse fisticuffs returns to work

ORLANDO Fla. - A Florida judge who was caught on courtroom video challenging a defense lawyer to a fistfight returned to work on Monday after four weeks of anger management counseling, the court said.

U.S. unveils more export control changes, for military electronics

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government on Monday published another big batch of changes to export control laws affecting military electronics, and said it was on track to finish reviewing remaining categories for possible streamlining by the end of the year.

Feds arrest 10 in New Hampshire marijuana trafficking bust

CONCORD N.H. - Federal prosecutors said on Monday they had arrested 10 men they contended were running a New Hampshire drug ring, and added they were looking for four others suspected of trafficking in marijuana and other drugs.

Maryland kayakers rescued after 200-foot fall dam

- Two Maryland kayakers were recovering on Monday from injuries sustained after falling 200 feet down a Baltimore County dam, according to Baltimore County police.

Southern California man gets 13 years for planning to help al Qaeda

- A Southern California man was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison on Monday after pleading guilty to terrorism charges, the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles said.

L'Oreal settles over skin care ads that U.S. termed deceptive

WASHINGTON - Cosmetics maker L'Oreal USA has agreed to settle U.S. complaints that its advertisements for skin care products Lancome Genifique and L'Oreal Paris Youth Code were deceptive, the Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.

Adult soccer player charged with assaulting referee in Michigan

- A soccer player who was about to be ejected from an adult game in a Detroit suburb critically injured a referee with a punch and has been charged with assault, authorities said on Monday.

Lawyer says Sandusky hired him for new appeal in Penn State sex case

HARRISBURG Pa. - Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has hired a new lawyer to pursue another appeal of his conviction on 45 counts of child sex abuse, the attorney said on Monday.

Transgender Connecticut police officer fired, city denies harassment

MILFORD Conn. - A transgender Middletown, Connecticut, police officer who complained for more than a year she had been the target of harassment by fellow officers has been fired, the city's mayor said on Monday, adding the action was not the result of the gender change.

Republican district clings on in Northern Virginia

LEESBURG Va. - Helped by an economic boom in nearby Washington D.C. and an influx of minority voters, Northern Virginia has in recent years become a largely Democratic base - save for one holdout.

New York court upholds ex-Bloomberg aide's larceny conviction

ALBANY N.Y. - New York state's highest court on Monday upheld the grand larceny conviction of former political consultant John Haggerty for stealing nearly $1 million from the 2009 campaign of then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Coast Guard searches for missing swimmer, 14, at New Jersey shore

- Rescuers on Monday searched off Ocean City, New Jersey, for a 14-year-old swimmer caught in rough water and missing since Sunday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

U.S. Supreme Court will not intervene in fight over California cross

- The U.S. Supreme Court has for the second time declined to take up the question of whether the cross atop a San Diego war memorial constitutes an illegal endorsement of religion by the federal government.

Supreme Court won't intervene in California ban on gay-conversion therapy

SACRAMENTO Calif. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider arguments against California's ban on a controversial therapy aimed at reversing homosexuality in children, allowing the prohibition to be enforced in the most populous U.S. state.

U.S. top court turns away Arab Bank appeal

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left intact a lower court ruling against Jordan-based Arab Bank Plc for failing to supply documents in lawsuits accusing it of providing services to groups the United States brands as terrorist organizations.

N.Y. top court decides towns can ban fracking

ALBANY N.Y. - New York state's top court ruled on Monday that towns have the authority to ban gas drilling within their borders, giving a boost to opponents of the drilling method known as fracking.

Fired lesbian police chief in South Carolina gets her job back

CHARLESTON S.C. - A South Carolina police chief who said the mayor fired her because she is gay returned to work on Monday after being reinstated by the town council.

Second Wisconsin suitcase body is identified as Oregon woman

MILWAUKEE - An Oregon woman was identified on Monday as the second victim whose body was found in a suitcase dumped in a grassy ditch along a rural road in southeastern Wisconsin.

Flood waters to close parts of Mississippi River: Army Corps

- Rising flood waters were expected to make 11 locks and dams impassable on the upper Mississippi River, forcing the closure of the river later on Monday from Bellevue, Iowa, to Saverton, Missouri, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

Gunman shoots two, kills himself in New York City factory

NEW YORK - A man inquiring about a job at a New York City factory on Monday shot two workers and barricaded himself in the building before killing himself, authorities said.

New York's Grand Central main entry dedicated to Jackie Kennedy

NEW YORK - The main entrance to New York City's landmark Grand Central Terminal was dedicated to former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis on Monday, honoring her efforts to keep the station open.

Woman shot at Pennsylvania gun show says feels sorry for shooter

PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania woman shot in the thigh by a vendor at a weekend gun show says she feel sympathy for the man who shot her, local media reported on Monday.

Florida judge tosses George Zimmerman libel suit against NBC

TAMPA Fla. - A Florida judge on Monday ruled against a libel lawsuit brought by acquitted killer George Zimmerman against NBC Universal, saying the network did not maliciously seek to portray him as a racist when it edited a phone call he made to police before shooting an unarmed black teenager.

U.S. Supreme Court to rule in mandatory union dues case

WASHINGTON - An Illinois healthcare worker's legal challenge of mandatory union dues from public employees reaches a climax on Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court is due to rule in the case at the final session of its nine-month term.

Jury selection begins in trial of friend of accused Boston bomber

BOSTON - Jury selection was set to begin on Monday in a U.S. court in Boston for the trial of the first of three friends of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, charged with obstructing the investigation into the deadly blasts.

New York City man charged with murder of 8-year-old son

NEW YORK - A New York City father was charged on Monday with the murder of his 8-year-old son who apparently had been strangled, police said.

Dozens stuck for hours on SeaWorld San Diego ride after power failure

- A SeaWorld San Diego elevator ride with dozens aboard was stuck some 220 feet (67 meters) above ground for four hours on Sunday after a power failure, fire officials said.

U.S. court revives Abu Ghraib detainees' torture case

- A federal appeals court on Monday revived a lawsuit against CACI International Inc, in which the defense contractor's employees were accused of directing the torture of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

U.S. justices uphold firms' religious objections to contraception

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that business owners can object on religious grounds to a provision of President Barack Obama's healthcare law that requires closely held private companies to provide health insurance that covers birth control.

Rescuer dies trying to save Washington state hiker: report

- A 61-year-old volunteer search and rescue worker fell to his death in Washington state after trying to save a hiker who had earlier plunged about 100 feet at a waterfall in mountains north of Seattle, local media said on Sunday.

U.S. Marine, long listed as deserter, back in custody

WASHINGTON - A U.S. Marine listed as a deserter for almost a decade since going missing after his return to the United States following his brief disappearance in Iraq is back in military custody, the Marine Corps said on Sunday.

Mormon activist awaits fates after meeting regional leader

SALT LAKE CITY - A prominent Mormon activist who faces possible excommunication met a regional church leader on Sunday but said there was no news yet on whether he will face a formal disciplinary process that could see him kicked out of the faith.

'Nanny from hell' could leave California home: report

- A 64-year-old woman dubbed the "nanny from hell" after she stopped working for the California family that hired her and refused to move out, is reportedly ready to leave their home.

U.S. soldier suspected of murder in Panama likely to face military justice

PANAMA CITY - A U.S. soldier suspected of murdering a Panamanian woman will "most likely" face charges in a military court in the United States, a U.S. military spokesman said on Sunday.

Low near Florida coast has 60 percent chance of becoming cyclone: NHC

- A low-pressure area located about 210 miles east-southeast of St. Augustine, Florida has a 60 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Monday.

Nine wounded in gunfire on New Orleans' Bourbon Street

- Two men armed with guns got into a dispute on New Orleans' famed Bourbon Street early on Sunday, opening fire on one another and wounding nine people in the vicinity, police said.

One dead, four wounded in Los Angeles BET Awards party shooting

- One person was killed and four others wounded in an early Sunday shooting at a pre-party in Los Angeles ahead of the Black Entertainment Television Awards show, police said.

Magnitude-5.2 earthquake shakes New Mexico, Arizona

- A 5.2-magnitude earthquake near the border of Arizona and New Mexico rattled a significant swath of the U.S. Southwest late Saturday but caused no major damage or injuries, the United States Geological Survey said.

Wendy Davis tries to get Texas campaign for governor back on track

DALLAS - For one day a year ago, Wendy Davis became the brightest star in the U.S. political universe when she donned pink tennis shoes and launched a one-woman, 10-hour filibuster against abortion restrictions that brought her international attention.

Obama to seek $2 billion from Congress to tackle child migrant crisis

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama is to ask Congress for more than $2 billion to deal with the surge in unaccompanied children from Central America flooding into the United States along its southern border.

Dead Georgia boy's mom researched how kids die in cars: police

- The mother of a 22-month-old Georgia boy who died after being left by his father in a sweltering SUV told police she had researched how children die in hot vehicles, according to search warrants released on Sunday.

Father of California mass killer never knew 'the monster' in son

LOS ANGELES - The father of a 22-year-old man who killed six college students and himself near Santa Barbara, California, says he had long known his son was deeply troubled but realized too late "the monster" lurking within him.

Southwest Airlines co-founder dies at 83

- Rollin King, co-founder of the affordable carrier Southwest Airlines, has died at age 83, the airline said on Saturday.

New Jersey resort is rechristened with its once notorious name

VERNON N.J. - It's hard to forget a trip on the Alpine Slide, the half-mile fiberglass track that sent riders careening down the side of a mountain on a cart at a New Jersey resort once known as Action Park.

Hit-run driver sought in crash that killed three women in Florida

- Police in Tampa are looking for the driver of a car involved in a hit-and-run crash that killed three women, who according to local media reports were all single mothers, authorities said on Saturday.

Georgia father researched child death in hot car on Internet

- A Georgia father charged with murder after leaving his 22-month-old son in a sweltering car for seven hours told police he had researched how hot a vehicle needed to be to kill a child, according to a search warrant released on Saturday.

Conservationists rally outside Yellowstone to protest wolf hunting

- A rally to protest sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the United States drew about 150 participants on Saturday outside the gates of Yellowstone National Park, an organizer said.

Child killed by falling security door at Philadelphia ice treat shop: report

PHILADELPHIA - A 3-year-old girl was killed on Saturday when a metal security door fell on her at a flavored ice shop in Philadelphia, according to local media reports.

Plaintiffs in historic gay marriage case lauded at lavish ceremony

LOS ANGELES - A year after becoming among the first same-sex couples to wed legally in California, two men who were plaintiffs in the case that led to a court overturning the state's five-year ban on gay marriage held a lavish ceremony on Saturday with family and friends including Hollywood stars to celebrate their wedding.

On eve of court ruling, Americans oppose contraceptive ban: Reuters/Ipsos poll

WASHINGTON - A majority of Americans oppose letting employers, based on their religious views, exclude certain contraceptives from workers’ insurance coverage, says a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision expected on Monday.

Sufi faithful raise a stink over sultry perfume ads

SAN FRANCISCO - A sultry ad for a perfume created by Roberto Cavalli has touched a raw nerve with followers of Islamic Sufism, who claim the Italian design house has inappropriately used a symbol sacred to practitioners of their mystical faith.

Scientists unable to recreate chemical reaction suspected in New Mexico radiation leak

- Government scientists have not been able to replicate a chemical reaction suspected of causing a radiation leak at a U.S. nuclear waste dump in New Mexico, complicating efforts to understand what went wrong, a U.S. Energy Department official said Friday.

Pennsylvania school stabbing suspect seeks transfer to mental facility

PITTSBURGH - Lawyers for a teenager charged with wounding 21 people in a stabbing spree at his Pittsburgh-area high school in April have asked that he be moved from a juvenile detention hall to a mental health facility at the county's expense.

Food truck in San Francisco is going to the dogs

SAN FRANCISCO - Dogs and their owners in San Francisco have a moveable feast to chase, in the form of a food truck catering exclusively to customers of the four-legged variety.

U.S. auctions some 30,000 bitcoins from Silk Road raid

NEW YORK - The U.S. Marshals Service on Friday auctioned off about 30,000 bitcoins seized during a raid on Silk Road, an Internet black-market bazaar where authorities say illegal drugs and other goods could be bought.

Wind-whipped wildfire forces evacuations in Arizona

PHOENIX - A wind-driven fire burned through mountainous terrain in northeastern Arizona on Friday, forcing residents in two small subdivisions to evacuate their homes and blackening some 2,000 tree-studded acres, officials said.

U.S. court puts ruling overturning Indiana's gay marriage ban on hold

- A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday put on hold a judge's ruling striking down Indiana's ban on gay marriage, pending an appeal of the case.

Atlanta adoption agency closes after charges of violations in Congo

ATLANTA - An Atlanta-based international adoption agency will close after it was suspended for 90 days by U.S. authorities over allegations it paid bribes and used incorrect papers to adopt children in the Congo.

U.S. seeks more than eight years prison for SAC's Martoma

NEW YORK - Mathew Martoma, a former SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager convicted of insider trading, should be sentenced to a "substantial" term of prison beyond the eight years recommended by probation officers, U.S. prosecutors argued Friday.

California Border Patrol sends agents to Texas to help with immigrant influx

SAN DIEGO - U.S. Border Patrol officials in Southern California are sending agents and other resources to Texas to help stretched colleagues in the Rio Grande deal with a surge of immigrants illegally crossing the frontier, two Border Patrol union officials said on Friday.

U.S. auctions some 30,000 bitcoins from Silk Road raid

NEW YORK - The U.S. Marshals Service on Friday auctioned off about 30,000 bitcoins seized during a raid on Silk Road, an Internet black-market bazaar where authorities say illegal drugs and other goods could be bought.

U.S. soul singer Bobby Womack dies at age 70: publicist

LOS ANGELES - U.S. soul singer and songwriter Bobby Womack has died, his publicist said on Friday. He was 70.

U.S. court puts ruling overturning Indiana's gay marriage ban on hold

- A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday put on hold a judge's two-day-old ruling striking down Indiana's ban on gay marriage, pending an appeal of the case.

Protesters fly blimp over NSA data center in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY - Three activist groups flew a blimp emblazoned with the words "Illegal Spying Below" over the National Security Agency's data center in Utah on Friday in protest against the federal government's mass surveillance programs.

Trial ends, judge to rule on lawsuit against NCAA over athlete pay

Oakland Calif. - A U.S. judge on Friday examined potential remedies to resolve the case between athletes and the National Collegiate Athletic Association that seeks to reshape traditional notions of amateur sports in the United States.

California bee attack sends 90-year-old woman, neighbors to hospital

- A 90-year-old California woman, her dog and three neighbors were sent to hospital after being attacked by a swarm of bees whose hive the woman inadvertently sprayed with water as she tended her yard, police said.

N.Y. lawmaker pleads guilty to immigration, bankruptcy fraud

NEW YORK - A New York state assemblywoman pleaded guilty on Friday in federal court to entering into a sham marriage to secure U.S. citizenship and lying about her assets when filing for bankruptcy.

U.S. soy supply seen at 37-year low, plantings hit record

CHICAGO - Relentless demand from exporters and processors likely thinned U.S. soybean stocks by June 1 to the lowest since the 1970s, but farmers have responded by planting their largest-ever soy crop this season, analysts expect government data to show on Monday.

Wrong Miss Florida crowned in voting mix-up

TAMPA Fla. - Just a week after her coronation, the winner of the 2014 Miss Florida pageant was dethroned on Friday when organizers said they had crowned the wrong woman after a vote-count error.

Protesters fly blimp over NSA data center in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY - Three activist groups flew a blimp emblazoned with the words "Illegal Spying Below" over the National Security Agency's data center in Utah on Friday in protest against the federal government's mass surveillance programs.

Montana judge facing censure tied to rape case calls penalty unprecedented

- A Montana judge facing suspension by the state's top court for implying a 14-year-old girl was partly to blame for her rape by a teacher and imposing an unlawfully lenient sentence in the case contends his punishment was unprecedented and suggests it be retracted.

Hawaii sentences ex-soldier to life for killing daughter: report

- A former U.S. Army soldier convicted of killing his daughter was spared the death penalty on Friday, sentenced to life in prison by a Honolulu jury in Hawaii's first such capital case since it became a state in 1959, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper reported.  

Drug testing delayed for Mississippi welfare recipients

- A new Mississippi law requiring drug testing for some welfare recipients will not take effect on July 1 as scheduled after state officials agreed to allow civil liberties groups to voice concerns at an upcoming public hearing.

'Miscommunications' followed Newtown school shooting, parents say

HARTFORD Conn. - Parents of some of the 20 first graders shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School told a gubernatorial commission on Friday there were “serious miscommunications” among local, state and federal authorities during the 2012 attack and in its aftermath.

Florida man sentenced to death for killing female deputy

ORLANDO Fla. - A 24-year-old Florida man who fatally shot a deputy investigating a motel robbery in 2012 was sentenced to death by a judge on Friday.

Retailers nervous as West Coast port labor talks running out of time

LOS ANGELES - With peak shipping season approaching, U.S. retailers are anxiously monitoring labor negotiations affecting 20,000 workers at West Coast ports that handle more than 40 percent of goods shipped in ocean containers.

U.S. retailers nervous as West Coast port labor talks running out of time

LOS ANGELES - With peak shipping season approaching, U.S. retailers are anxiously monitoring labor negotiations affecting 20,000 workers at West Coast ports that handle more than 40 percent of goods shipped in ocean containers.

Texas couple say they locked up son out of fear he is rapist

DALLAS - A Texas couple accused of locking up their son in an apartment garage for at least four years did so because they feared he was a rapist who put his family and community in danger, their lawyer told a bail hearing on Friday.

Puerto Rico agency debt slumps on downgrades, restructuring law

NEW YORK - Puerto Rico public corporation debt slumped on Friday after a new law that allows agencies to restructure their debts sparked fears of an imminent default and led to a slew of downgrades on the electricity, highway, and water authorities.

U.S. Marine Corps resumes flights of Lockheed F-35B jets

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Marine Corps said it was resuming flights of Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 B-model jets on Friday, and was continuing with its plan to send several jets to Britain for their international debut next month.

Caesars Entertainment to shut Showboat Atlantic City casino

- Caesars Entertainment Corp.'s decision to close its Showboat casino makes it the second gambling house shuttered in what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had called a crucial year for the future of gambling in Atlantic City.

Maine woman sentenced to prison for grisly murder of husband

- A Bangor, Maine woman on Friday was sentenced to 50 years in prison for the gruesome murder of her husband, whom she was convicted of killing with pliers and a baseball bat, according to local media.

Maryland fast-food customer gets a bag of pot with her fries

- A Maryland woman who ordered a meal at a Sonic Corp fast-food restaurant got something extra with her French fries - a bag of marijuana.

Bail set at $1 million for Wisconsin man charged with hiding corpses

ELKHORN Wisc. - A Wisconsin judge set bail at $1 million on Friday for a security guard suspected of killing two women and hiding their corpses in two suitcases.

Father says learned son had slain six in California via the Internet

LOS ANGELES - The father of a 22-year-old man who killed six college students in a stabbing and shooting rampage near Santa Barbara, California, said in an interview that he initially thought his son was one of the victims and learned the grim truth only on the Internet.

Suicide nets approved for San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge

SAN FRANCISCO - It could soon be a lot harder for people bent on suicide to leap from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, as California state officials approved a funding plan on Friday to install mesh barriers beneath the historic span to catch jumpers before they hit the water.

Washington DC tour guides win court ruling on free speech grounds

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court ruled on Friday in favor of Washington tour guides who challenged licensing rules that require guides to pay the city a license fee and pass an exam.

Somali expats fear bank curbs on sending money home

NEW YORK - Each month, 42-year-old Abdirizak Alibos shows up at a money transfer business in the heart of Minneapolis to send $500 to his three children in war-torn Somalia.

Fugitive returned to Pennsylvania after 33 years on the run

HARRISBURG Pa. - An elderly Pennsylvania fugitive, on the run for 33 years, is back in the state to face murder charges, authorities said on Friday.

Kansas coal plant fight back in court; emission concerns cited

- A long-running battle over coal-fired energy in Kansas continued Friday as the Sierra Club environmental group filed a legal challenge to the state's issuance of a permit intended to give a green light to a controversial new power plant.

New Jersey may be first state to ban smoking on beaches, in parks

NEW YORK - New Jersey could become the first state in the nation to ban cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products in all public parks and beaches if Governor Chris Christie signs into law a sweeping anti-smoking bill approved by lawmakers.

U.S. Marines resume F-35B flights after fire; still headed for UK

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Marine Corps said on Friday it was resuming flights of Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 B-model jets that were suspended after a fire on an Air Force F-35A jet earlier this week, and still planned to send F-35 jets to Britain for their international debut next month.

Wrongly convicted men speak of injustice after 'Central Park Jogger' deal

NEW YORK - A group of men wrongfully convicted of raping a jogger in New York's Central Park in 1989 said they continued to battle feelings of injustice on Friday, a day after the city signed a $40 million settlement to end their civil rights lawsuit.

U.S. appeals court blocks lawsuits over Darvon, Darvocet painkillers

- A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the dismissal of nearly all claims in 68 cases seeking to hold drug makers liable for injuries from the use of the prescription painkillers Darvon and Darvocet, which were pulled from the U.S. market in 2010.

Detroit police probe case of boy found in basement, stepmom arrested

- Detroit police said Friday they were still trying to determine if there was any wrongdoing in the case of a 12-year-old boy who was missing for 11 days before being found alive and well in his family's basement.

Mississippi Tea Party leader Mark Mayfield dead in apparent suicide

- A prominent leader of the Mississippi Tea Party who was arrested in connection with photos posted online of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran's bedridden wife died on Friday of an apparent suicide, the man’s lawyer said.

Johns Hopkins hospital workers call off Baltimore strike

- A strike over wages by 2,000 Johns Hopkins Hospital service employees in Baltimore was averted on Friday after intervention by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.

Texas man pleads guilty to trying to aid foreign terrorists

AUSTIN Texas - A Texas man pleaded guilty on Friday of attempting to provide support and resources to a Middle Eastern foreign terrorist organization as part of a federal undercover operation, U.S. prosecutors said.

Massachusetts abortion clinics boost security, lawmakers seek fix

BOSTON - Massachusetts is beefing up security around abortion clinics and scrambling for a legal fix after the U.S. Supreme Court voided the state's buffer zone law that kept protesters 35 feet away, saying it violated freedom of speech.

Nebraska releases prisoners by mistake, tries to get some back

OMAHA - Nebraska authorities mistakenly released more than 300 criminals from prison early and are trying to track the two dozen they want to put back in jail, state officials said on Friday.

Mexican helicopter fired shots in Arizona near border, U.S. says

PHOENIX - U.S. authorities are investigating two shots that were fired from a Mexican helicopter when it crossed the border into Arizona, although no injuries or damage to U.S. property were reported, the U.S. Border Patrol said on Friday.

Kentucky head-on collision kills six, injures four

- Six people were killed and four injured in a fiery crash after a station wagon crossed the center line and slammed into a minivan near Lexington, Kentucky, police said on Friday.

NH man found guilty of murdering university student

BOSTON - A New Hampshire jury on Friday found Seth Mazzaglia guilty of first degree murder in the death of University of New Hampshire student Elizabeth Marriott in 2012, a court official said.

Autoliv agrees to settle U.S. securities class action

STOCKHOLM - Car safety gear maker Autoliv said on Friday it had reached an agreement in principle to settle a class action securities lawsuit in the United States.

Dogs, debris and Satan make their mark at Oklahoma capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY - As part of her grand plan to visit all 50 U.S. state capitols before her 70th birthday, Deidra Horan drove to Oklahoma City a few weeks ago. She toured the capitol, but that's not her most vivid memory of the trip.

U.S. to no longer produce anti-personnel landmines

WASHINGTON - The United States announced on Friday that it will no longer produce or seek to acquire anti-personnel landmines, deadly weapons that the United Nations says results in many civilian casualties.

California measure reducing sentences for nonviolent crimes heads to ballot

SACRAMENTO Calif. - A ballot initiative aimed at reducing prison sentences for people who commit nonviolent crimes including drug possession and petty theft will go before California voters in November, the state said Thursday.

Families sue Arizona over 2013 wildfire that killed 19 firefighters

PHOENIX - The families of a dozen of the 19 elite Arizona firefighters killed last year in the nation's worst wildfire in eight decades have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit claiming the state was negligent in its efforts to battle the massive blaze.

Legal pot backers in Oregon submit signatures to put issue before voters

PORTLAND Ore. - Supporters of a voter initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Oregon said they submitted more than enough signatures to state election officials on Thursday to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

Obama to Central American parents: Don't send children to US border

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama appealed to Central American parents on Thursday to not send their children to the U.S. southern border in his most forceful comments yet on the emerging humanitarian crisis that is causing him political problems.

Nets to catch suicide jumpers may be placed beneath iconic Golden Gate Bridge

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge may soon be less of a magnet for people trying to commit suicide, as regional officials consider a plan to install mesh barriers beneath the historic orange span to catch jumpers before they hit the water.

Federal judge upholds Colorado gun laws, dismisses lawsuit

DENVER - A federal judge upheld gun laws on Thursday introduced by Colorado in the wake of deadly shooting rampages there and in Connecticut, dismissing a lawsuit brought by sheriffs, gun shops, outfitters and shooting ranges.

California Supreme Court rules for immigrant who used other's ID

- A California law that protects workers from discrimination regardless of immigration status could be used by a migrant to sue his employer even though he used another man's Social Security number, the state Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Wisconsin man charged with hiding corpses found in suitcases

MILWAUKEE - A Wisconsin security guard charged with hiding the corpses of two women in suitcases told investigators he caused their deaths and stashed them in the luggage that he hid in his apartment and in the trunk of his vehicle, authorities said on Thursday.

Wisconsin man charged with hiding corpses found in suitcases

MILWAUKEE - A Wisconsin man charged with hiding the corpses of two women in suitcases has told investigators he was present when one of them died at a Minnesota hotel last year, authorities said on Thursday.

New York man convicted of murder after rap lyrics used as evidence

NEW YORK - An accused New York City gang member was found guilty of a slew of violent crimes, including three murders, on Thursday after a trial in which his boastful, graphic rap lyrics were used as evidence against him.

Florida Supreme Court tosses death row conviction on DNA evidence

TAMPA Fla. - Florida's Supreme Court threw out the death sentence of a man who spent almost 30 years in jail for the 1985 rape and murder of a woman found in a car trunk in the woods after new DNA evidence cast doubt on his guilt.

Federal judge upholds Colorado gun laws, dismisses lawsuit

DENVER - A federal judge upheld gun laws on Thursday introduced by Colorado in the wake of deadly shooting rampages there and in Connecticut, dismissing a lawsuit filed by sheriffs, gun shops, outfitters and shooting ranges.

California pair arrested over prostitution website

SAN FRANCISCO - An adult website that prosecutors say hooked up prostitutes with clients, under a thin disguise of offering strip club reviews, has been shut down and the website's two Northern California operators were arrested, federal authorities said on Thursday.

Georgia parents who kept boy locked in basement to surrender: police

- A Georgia couple accused of locking their 13-year-old son in the basement for up to two years have agreed to turn themselves in on Friday to face felony child abuse charges, police said.

Detroit bankruptcy judge on board for bus tour of city

DETROIT - The federal judge overseeing Detroit's historic bankruptcy case on Thursday indicated he is willing to join a bus tour proposed by the city, while rejecting demands by a major creditor in the case for an explanation of how a legal opinion was reached.

Rapped by judge, Montana lawyer in German student case scraps World Cup screening

- The lawyer for a Montana man accused of fatally shooting a German exchange student in his garage abruptly cancel led a Germany vs USA World Cup soccer screening party on Thursday after a judge called it a publicity stunt.

Widow of American Indian activist sues doctors over his death

DENVER - The widow of American Indian activist Russell Means has sued a New Mexico hospital for wrongful death and medical malpractice, claiming her husband's cancer was misdiagnosed before his death in 2012, court records show.

U.S. IRS launches education program for tax return preparers

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Internal Revenue Service said on Thursday it will launch a voluntary education program for tax return preparers, a step back from an earlier mandatory program of testing and regulation that was halted by the courts.

University of Washington student arrested after threats to be released

SEATTLE - A University of Washington student charged in federal court with making threatening comments over the Internet, including pledging to kill women and praising a California rampage gunman, will be released on bond on Friday, a judge ruled on Thursday.

U.S. public pensions' investment gains slow in first quarter: Census

WASHINGTON - U.S. public pensions eked out modest gains on their investments in the first quarter of the year, reflecting a slowdown after their huge returns during the stock market's rally in 2013, according to U.S. Census data released on Thursday.

Philadelphia policeman gets 15 years for tipping brother to drug probe

- A federal judge has sentenced a former Philadelphia police officer to 15 years in prison for informing his half-brother that authorities were investigating him for dealing heroin.

Disabled teen in Connecticut charged in sex assault of classmate

BRIDGEPORT Conn - A mentally disabled Connecticut high school student has been charged with sexually assaulting a disabled fellow student in a school bathroom as classmates cheered him on, according to police and court documents.

N.Y. court revives $1 billion suit over Russian oilfield

ALBANY N.Y. - New York's top state court on Thursday reinstated Canadian oil company Norex Petroleum Ltd's $1 billion lawsuit claiming that two billionaires used armed soldiers and corrupted Russian court proceedings to gain control of a Siberian oilfield.

U.S. arrests 22 in New Mexico, says they swapped stolen cars for drugs

WASHINGTON - Twenty-two people were arrested on Thursday in New Mexico and charged with participation in a ring that stole luxury cars and swapped them for drugs from a Mexican cartel, authorities said.

North Carolina legislature approves limited medical marijuana use

RALEIGH N.C - North Carolina is on the verge of joining the wave of states to approve a form of medical marijuana as lawmakers voted to allow its limited use for treating seizures.

Nearly 40 injured in Houston-area building collapse

AUSTIN Texas - Nearly 40 people were injured on Thursday when the ceiling of a garage apartment crashed down on Thursday onto about 100 people who had gathered for a religious event at a Houston-area residence, fire officials said.

Woman admits to buying guns used in deadly 2012 New York ambush

NEW YORK - A western New York woman pleaded guilty on Thursday to illegally supplying guns to a man who killed a policeman and a firefighter in a 2012 Christmas Eve ambush, officials said.

New York gives state workers time off to watch World Cup game

NEW YORK - New York state workers can indulge their World Cup fever on Thursday with an extended lunch break to root for Team USA in its match against Germany, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced.

Arkansas Republican resigns after saying Clinton could 'get shot'

LITTLE ROCK Ark. - An Arkansas Republican official has resigned after telling a magazine former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would "probably get shot" if she returned to the state where she was a lawyer and served as first lady, officials said on Thursday.

Former Senator Howard Baker, key figure in Watergate hearings, dies

WASHINGTON - Tennessee Republican Howard Baker, a pivotal figure in the Senate Watergate inquiry that pushed U.S. President Richard Nixon toward resignation and who later helped salvage Ronald Reagan's presidency amid the Iran-Contra scandal, has died. He was 88.

Emboldened by Utah ruling, Colorado clerk issues gay marriage licenses

DENVER - A left-leaning Colorado county defiantly issued marriage licenses to gay couples on Thursday, emboldened by a landmark same-sex marriage ruling by a regional appeals court, even as the state attorney general warned such nuptials would not be valid.

Wisconsin governor not a target of special investigation: lawyer

MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was not a target of an investigation into possible illegal coordination between his campaign and special interest groups during elections in 2011 and 2012, a lawyer for the prosecutor leading the investigation said on Thursday.

U.S. Air Force suspends all F-35A flights, pending fire probe

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Air Force widened a ban on flights of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 A-model fighter jets on Thursday as authorities continue to investigate a fire on one of the jets this week, but the Navy and Marine Corps stopped short of a similar blanket move ahead of the plane's international debut next month.

Wife of NJ Governor Christie to help kick off anti-drug campaign

- The wife of Governor Chris Christie heads to one of New Jersey's most well-to-do communities on Thursday to help kick off a broad strategy to battle heroin and opiate abuse, deemed the No. 1 healthcare crisis facing the state.

Father of California mass killer says rampage came as surprise

LOS ANGELES - The father of a man who killed six people in a California college town said in a television interview that his son's rampage came as a surprise, despite contentions by some victims' families that the attack might have been prevented.

New York City to vote on ID cards for illegal immigrants

NEW YORK - The New York City Council was expected to vote Thursday on a proposal to create the nation's largest municipal identification card program to include illegal immigrants.

Massachusetts to raise minimum wage to highest of any U.S. state

BOSTON - Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on Thursday signed into law a measure raising the minimum wage to the highest of any U.S. state, $11 per hour, by 2017.

City official approves deal to end 'Central Park Jogger' lawsuit

NEW YORK - New York City's chief fiscal officer on Thursday signed off on a settlement that would end the decade-long civil rights lawsuit brought by five men wrongfully convicted of raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989.

Crews making rapid progress on closed Delaware bridge: officials

- Construction crews are making quick progress repairing a busy Delaware commuter bridge closed down earlier this month because some of its support beams were tilting, state transportation officials said on Thursday.

Authorities to prosecute 154, seize guns in Connecticut sweep

- Law enforcement authorities expect to prosecute 154 people as part of an undercover operation that seized illegal drugs and scores of guns in two Connecticut cities, a federal agency said.

Georgia toddler left in car by father died of heatstroke: officials

ATLANTA - A Georgia medical examiner has found a 22-month-old toddler who died last week in suburban Atlanta after being left in his father's SUV for seven hours appears to have succumbed to heatstroke, according to local officials.

Massachusetts to raise minimum wage to highest of any U.S. state

BOSTON - Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is scheduled on Thursday to sign into law a measure raising the minimum wage to the highest of any U.S. state, $11 per hour, by 2017.

U.S. top court rules against Obama over appointment power

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a blow to President Barack Obama by cutting back the power of the White House to temporarily fill senior government posts without Senate approval.

U.S. top court strikes down Massachusetts abortion buffer law

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a Massachusetts law that mandates a protective buffer zone around abortion clinics to allow patients unimpeded access.

Fed carefully eyeing U.S. healthcare costs: Lacker

LYNCHBURG Va. - U.S. healthcare costs are a growing issue for businesses across the country, with the Federal Reserve keeping close tabs on the issue, a top Fed official said on Thursday.

Shoplifting suspect killed after firing gun in Los Angeles mall -police

- Los Angeles police said they had killed a shoplifting suspect in a residential neighborhood late on Wednesday evening after he opened fire in a nearby mall at a security guard who had confronted him.

After six years of pain, Californians now say they are better off: poll

SAN FRANCISCO - For the first time in over six years, since the start of the recession, more Californians are saying they are better off financially than those who say they are worse off, according to a Field Poll to be released Thursday.

U.S. healthcare profit outlook brightens on Obamacare, drug prices

NEW YORK - U.S. healthcare companies are winning higher profit forecasts, bucking a wider trend on Wall Street, as pricey new biotech drugs hit the market and insurance enrollment rises under the Affordable Care Act.

Arizona education official cries in apology over Web comments

- Arizona's top education official broke down in tears on Wednesday as he apologized for his anonymous comments on Internet blogs that included comparing a birth control activist to Adolf Hitler and calling for an end to Spanish-language media in the United States.

Minorities seen driving U.S. household growth: study

WASHINGTON - Minorities will account for more than one-third of U.S. households by 2025 and make up nearly half of first-time homebuyers, according to a study released on Thursday.

Bond insurer Syncora is stubborn city rival in Detroit's bankruptcy

- Bond insurer Syncora Guarantee Inc has emerged as Detroit's chief nemesis in the city's historic bankruptcy case and is fighting as if its financial life depends on a decent recovery on its $400 million exposure to the city.

Boston dance concert attendees hospitalized with minor symptoms

- Three dozen teenagers at an electronic dance concert at Boston's TD Garden were taken to local hospitals on Wednesday, the Boston Herald reported, citing a city official.

Oregon pot advocates to submit signatures for November vote

PORTLAND Ore. - Advocates of legal recreational marijuana in Oregon plan to submit a ballot petition with more than 145,000 signatures on Thursday to force a vote in November on legalizing pot.

New California law lets schools fire teachers for 'egregious misconduct'

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a law adding "egregious misconduct" to the list of fireable offenses for public school teachers, weeks after a judge said it was too hard to fire incompetent teachers in the most populous U.S. state.

Construction to restart at NYC's 3 World Trade Center

NEW YORK - Construction on Lower Manhattan's flagship 3 World Trade Center building is set to restart after the developer was given the go-ahead on Wednesday to use $159 million in insurance money while he raises more than $1 billion private sector financing.

Glitch generates wrong photos on Arizona driver's licenses

PHOENIX - A new system implemented to better process Arizona driver's licenses has turned out to be less than picture-perfect in its first week of operation - generating a handful licenses with photographs of the wrong person.

Analysis: Game changer or symbolic move - U.S. debates condensate exports

- Facing a growing domestic oversupply, a U.S. crude oil producer and a pipeline company waged a quiet crusade in Washington earlier this year aimed at easing a decades-long ban on crude exports.

U.S. appeals court backs gay marriage in conservative Utah

DENVER - A U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday that conservative Utah may not ban gay couples from marrying, a decision that capped a day of victories for same-sex nuptials and nudges the issue closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. Supreme Court's milestone ruling protects cellphone privacy

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that police officers usually need a warrant before they can search the cellphone of an arrested suspect, a major decision in favor of privacy rights at a time of increasing concern over government encroachment in digital communications.

Drone firm says it did not peep on Seattle woman

- A drone that spooked a Seattle woman in her apartment and prompted a police probe of possible invasion of privacy was not trying to catch an illicit image but rather shooting a panoramic view for a developer, the company that operates it said on Wednesday.

After a decade, Parmalat lawsuit versus Grant Thornton in U.S. is back

- A federal appeals court in Chicago said auditor Grant Thornton LLP must again face a lawsuit over its alleged role in the collapse of Italian dairy company Parmalat SpA, while lamenting that its decision puts the nearly 10-year-old case on the brink of starting anew.

Top official at U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan to step down

- A top official in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan who oversaw a number of high-profile insider trading cases is leaving his post after two and a half years, according to a spokesman for the office.

Fresno, Calif., fires may be work of arsonists, investigators say

- Fire investigators in the central California city of Fresno on Wednesday were scrutinizing evidence from two brushfires that erupted downtown this week to see if they are related to a string of blazes believed set by serial arsonists.

Human rights groups seek inquiry into Florida prison shower death

- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Wednesday called for a federal investigation into the 2012 scalding death of a mentally ill prisoner in Florida for which no one has been held accountable.

Connecticut sting busts crime in New Haven, Bridgeport: officials

MILFORD Conn. - Connecticut authorities on Wednesday announced a sting operation aimed at curbing violent crime in Bridgeport and New Haven that netted dozens of illegal weapons and resulted in the planned prosecution of more than 150 people.

Wisconsin man in custody in connection with bodies found in suitcases

MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee-area man was taken into custody on Wednesday in connection with the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in separate suitcases along a rural road earlier this month, authorities said.

American jailed in Cuba plans suicide, lawyer says

HAVANA - A U.S. foreign aid contractor jailed in Cuba is planning suicide as his health declines and he grows increasingly depressed, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Conjoined twins, just over two months old, die in Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH - Conjoined twin boys in Pennsylvania whose parents opted not to separate them have died at just over 2 months old, authorities said on Wednesday.

Wisconsin man in custody in connection with bodies found in suitcases

MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee-area man was taken into custody on Wednesday in connection with the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in separate suitcases along a rural road earlier this month, authorities said.

Google executive halts his plan to raze historic Portland house

PORTLAND Ore.  - Google executive Kevin Rose has halted his plans to demolish a historic home in downtown Portland following pressure from his new neighbors who sought to save it. He now plans to sell to a long-time resident instead, both sides said. 

Detroit bankruptcy judge rejects big-ticket creditor claims

DETROIT - Detroit is off the hook for $150 million to buy garbage trucks that one resident claimed or to compensate a California man $1 trillion for the loss of nuclear research materials, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge ruled on Wednesday.

After a decade, Parmalat lawsuit vs Grant Thornton in U.S. is back

- A federal appeals court in Chicago said auditor Grant Thornton LLP must again face a lawsuit over its alleged role in the collapse of Italian dairy company Parmalat SpA, while lamenting that its decision puts the nearly 10-year-old case on the brink of starting anew.

New York's Metropolitan Opera vandalized with painted obscenities

NEW YORK - New York City's storied Metropolitan Opera House was struck by a vandal who spray painted obscenities on paintings, sculptures and administrative offices early on Wednesday, police said.

Feminist Kelly to appeal excommunication from Mormon church

SALT LAKE CITY - A prominent Mormon feminist, who was excommunicated by the Utah-based church this week after pushing for the ordination of women, said on Wednesday she plans to appeal the decision.

Opponents of renewable energy law ask for U.S. Supreme Court hearing

- Fuel producers are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a challenge to California's landmark low carbon fuel standard, the first of a series of cases seeking to roll back state renewable energy laws around the country.

Acclaimed U.S. poet Wallace Stevens' Connecticut home up for sale

MILFORD Conn. - The former Connecticut home of the late American poet Wallace Stevens is up for sale in Hartford's west end, and devotees of the Pulitzer Prize winner's works hope to buy it.

Pennsylvania man accused of hiding dead father in barrel

PITTSBURGH - A Pennsylvania man is accused of using his dead father's bank card to purchase a barrel for hiding the corpse, authorities said on Wednesday.

New York airports consider playing catch up on free Wi-Fi access

NEW YORK - Airports in the New York City area could soon join others in major U.S. cities that offer free wireless Internet access, according to a plan being considered on Wednesday by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Woman blames fall on 'Dexter' ad at NY's Grand Central Terminal

NEW YORK - A woman who claims she was injured when she was startled by an advertisement for cable television's "Dexter" show at Grand Central Terminal has filed a lawsuit saying the ad's placement was dangerous, her attorney said on Wednesday.

Lawyer gets 15 years prison for massive U.S. tax fraud scheme

NEW YORK - A former partner at the defunct law firm Jenkens & Gilchrist was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday following his conviction in what prosecutors call the largest criminal tax fraud in U.S. history.

Lawyer gets 15 years prison for massive U.S. tax fraud scheme

NEW YORK - A former partner at the defunct law firm Jenkens & Gilchrist was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday following his conviction in what prosecutors call the largest criminal tax fraud in U.S. history.

January trial set in Montana killing of German exchange student

MISSOULA Mont. - A Montana man who admitted to police he shot and killed a 17-year-old German exchange student who entered his garage will go on trial in January in a case expected to test the state's "castle doctrine" self-defense law, a judge ruled on Wednesday.

Minnesota teen detailed school attack plans in police interview

MINNEAPOLIS - A southern Minnesota teen accused of planning an attack at his high school described to police in detail his plans to kill his family and set a fire to distract first responders before detonating explosives at his school in Waseca.

Georgia man charged with murder after leaving son in car seat

ATLANTA - After having breakfast with his son at a restaurant last week, a suburban Atlanta man was supposed to drop the 22-month-old toddler at a day-care center on his way to work.

Philadelphia police find rape suspect by pinging stolen cell phone

- Philadelphia police said on Wednesday they caught a man suspected of rape by pinging the victim's cell phone, which had been stolen by her attacker.

Exclusive: Virgin America flight attendants to hold union vote

SEATTLE - Flight attendants at Virgin America are due to begin voting next month on whether to join a union, which would be the first at the California-based airline.

US Air Force extends ban on F-35A flights from Florida air base

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Air Force is extending a temporary ban on flights of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 A-model jets from a Florida air base while officials investigate a fire that damaged one of the aircraft on Monday.

Massachusetts high court says accused criminal must decrypt computers for police

BOSTON - Police can order an accused criminal to decrypt his computer without violating his constitutional right against self-incrimination, Massachusetts' top court said on Wednesday.

Five-burger reward offered in Connecticut restaurant theft

MILFORD Conn. - A Connecticut burger joint is offering five free cheeseburgers - hold the criminal charges - to anyone who helps recover a six-foot high (1.8 meter) fiberglass double cheeseburger stolen from outside the restaurant.

Accused N.H. killer was overcome by 'darkness': prosecutor

DOVER N.H. - Seth Mazzaglia was overtaken by "the darkness" when he strangled a 19-year-old University of New Hampshire student in 2012 for rejecting his sexual advances, a state prosecutor said on Wednesday.

More people visit U.S.'s Sept. 11 museum than expected -officials

NEW YORK - The number of visitors to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York since it opened last month has exceeded expectations as thousands more people flock to the site, museum officials said on Wednesday.

U.S. courts strike down gay marriage bans in Indiana and Utah

- U.S. appeals courts struck down gay marriage bans in Utah and Indiana on Wednesday, saying they violated constitutional rights to equal protection in the latest in a series of court rulings across the nation to allow gay couples to wed.

U.S. judge strikes down Indiana gay marriage ban

- A U.S. federal judge on Wednesday struck down the Indiana ban on same-sex marriage, saying the measure was unconstitutional and ordering officials to start issuing marriage licenses.

Maine governor draws hard line on undocumented immigrants

BOWDOINHAM Maine - Maine Governor Paul Lepage has threatened to cut state funding from the General Assistance Program to cities and towns that give aid to undocumented immigrants, a move that highlights increasing national anxiety over immigration reform and its trickle-down effect to the states.

Chicago lawmakers set to vote on tough gun shop restrictions

CHICAGO - The Chicago City Council is expected to vote on Wednesday in favor of a tough new gun shop law that requires videotaping gun purchases and limiting sales to one per month per buyer.

U.S. appeals court says Utah's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional

- A U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday that Utah's ban on gay marriages was unconstitutional, saying a state could not refuse to recognize unions based on the sex of participants.

Chinese millionaire set for lunch with 1,000 homeless in NYC

NEW YORK - A wealthy Chinese businessman who tried to buy the New York Times planned to serve a free lunch to 1,000 homeless people in New York's Central Park on Wednesday with 250 of them dining in the park's Loeb Boathouse restaurant.

U.S. company recalls 66,000 wine cork pierces after bottles break

WASHINGTON - A Massachusetts company is recalling about 66,000 cork-piercing devices because the wine-dispensing systems can break bottles, creating a risk of cuts, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Wednesday.

U.S. top court in major ruling to protect cellphone privacy

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that police officers usually need a warrant before they can search an arrested suspect's cellphone, a major decision in favor of privacy rights at a time of increasing concern over government encroachment in digital communications.

Seattle Archdiocese to pay $12 million to settle child sex abuse claims: lawyer

SEATTLE - The Archdiocese of Seattle has agreed to pay about $12.125 million to 30 men who alleged they were sexually abused as children and teens at two Seattle-area schools from the 1950s until 1984, their attorney said.

Closing arguments to begin in lurid N.H. murder trial

DOVER New Hampshire - Closing arguments were due Wednesday in a New Hampshire murder trial that has riveted the New England state with details of the occult, sadomasochism and romantic betrayal.

Jailed American in Cuba is suicidal, wife and lawyer say

HAVANA - A U.S. foreign aid contractor serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba for importing banned Internet technology is increasingly suicidal, his wife and lawyer said on Wednesday.

Oregon's would-be Christmas festival bomber denied new trial

PORTLAND Ore. - A Somali-American man convicted of trying to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon was denied a new trial on Tuesday by a federal judge who rejected the defendant's claims that his constitutional rights were violated by warrantless surveillance.

Ban on inmate sterilizations moves forward in California legislature

SACRAMENTO Calif. - A bill to ban sterilization surgeries on inmates in California prisons advanced on Tuesday, days after an audit showed officials failed to follow the state's rules for obtaining consent for the procedures.

Federal judge rules U.S. no-fly list violates Constitution

- The U.S. government's no-fly list banning people accused of links to terrorism from commercial flights violates their constitutional rights because it gives them no meaningful way to contest that decision, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

Property owners sue Arizona over 2013 wildfire that killed 19 firefighters

PHOENIX - More than 160 property owners affected by an Arizona wildfire that killed 19 firefighters last year have filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming that its mismanagement caused lives to be lost and homes and businesses to be destroyed.

U.S. high court bucks pro-business trend this term

WASHINGTON - With only days remaining in its term, the U.S. Supreme Court is on track to at least partly dispel the impression that it's pro-business.

Senator Cochran defeats Tea Party rival in Mississippi Republican runoff

HATTIESBURG Miss. - Veteran U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi narrowly defeated challenger Chris McDaniel on Tuesday in a high-profile runoff election that pitted the Republican party's old guard against its anti-establishment Tea Party movement.

Las Vegas man gets prison time for reality TV shooting incident

LAS VEGAS - A Las Vegas man involved in a 2011 shooting incident with the crew of reality TV show "Repo Games" was sentenced on Tuesday to 90 days in prison and five years of probation, his lawyer said.

Firefighter critically injured after truck rolled over at Oakland Airport

- An accident at California's Oakland International Airport on Tuesday left a firefighter in critical condition but did not affect flights or airport operations, officials said.

Florida voter drive seeks to motivate state's youth vote

ORLANDO - The Dream Defenders, a student-led group that garnered national attention for occupying the Florida governor's office in 2013 to protest the state's self-defense law, kicked off a campaign on Tuesday to get younger voters to the polls in November.

Police say two dead, seven injured in Miami shooting

MIAMI - Two people were killed and seven injured after gunfire erupted early Tuesday morning near a Miami-area apartment building in the low-income neighborhood of Liberty City, a police spokeswoman said.

Whole Foods to pay $800,000 for overcharging California customers

- Whole Foods Markets Inc has agreed to pay $800,000 after an investigation found that the supermarket chain overcharged customers in California, officials in the state said on Tuesday.

American Apparel's suspended CEO seeks arbitration: WSJ

- American Apparel Inc founder Dov Charney's lawyer has filed a petition for arbitration to counter plans to strip Charney of his roles as president and chief executive of the company, The Wall Street Journal reported in Tuesday's paper.

Prosecutors insist on felony charge against World Trade Center jumpers

NEW YORK - New York City prosecutors said on Tuesday that any potential plea deal with three men accused of parachuting from the top of the 104-story One World Trade Center tower must include a felony criminal charge.

Colorado suspends oil and gas wastewater disposal well after quake

- Disposal of wastewater from oil and gas drilling into a Colorado well was ordered halted this week after seismic activity was detected in the area, state regulators said on Tuesday.

Wisconsin girl stabbed in 'Slenderman' attack thanks supporters

- A 12-year-old Wisconsin girl stabbed repeatedly by her friends to please the fictional Slenderman character thanked her supporters in a picture released by her family on Tuesday.

Former N.Y. cop faces hate crime charges for robbing Hispanics

NEW YORK - A former police sergeant pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to hate crime charges for stealing cash from Hispanic motorists during traffic stops on New York's Long Island, officials said.

Texas police officer praised for rescuing woman from oncoming train

HOUSTON - A Houston-area police officer who pulled a woman off railroad tracks seconds before a speeding train passed was honored by his colleagues on Tuesday.

Woman who admitted snatching newborn at Penn. hospital is sentenced

- A woman who admitted posing as a nurse and grabbing a newborn baby from a Pittsburgh hospital apologized on Tuesday in court and was sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Advocates say more time needed to seek out N.C. sterilization victims

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. - An effort by North Carolina to compensate hundreds of people forcibly sterilized during the country's longest-running eugenics program is facing criticism from some advocates, who say more time is needed to find possible victims.

Montana health record hackers compromise 1.3 million people

- A data security breach of Montana's state health records has compromised the Social Security numbers and other personal information of some 1.3 million people, but the full extent of damage from the intrusion is unclear, state officials said on Tuesday.

White House weakened draft of FDA's proposed tobacco regulations

WASHINGTON - White House changes to proposed rules for tobacco products significantly weakened language detailing health risks from cigars and deleted restrictions that might have prevented online sales of e-cigarettes, published documents show.

Pennsylvania man sentenced for selling $270,000 in stolen phones

- A former Pennsylvania Verizon Wireless employee was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday for stealing 900 cell phones and accessories and selling them online for more than $270,000, prosecutors said.

U.S. police forces 'dangerously' militarized, rights group says

- Police SWAT teams are forcing their way into homes, often using explosive devices, simply to serve drug possession search warrants in tactics that a leading civil rights groups said on Tuesday treated civilians as wartime enemies.

Caribbean cocaine flows to United States keep rising: U.S. official

SANTO DOMINGO - The percentage of cocaine flowing to the United States through the Caribbean has more than tripled in the past three years, an Obama administration official said on Tuesday, adding weight to claims that criminal organizations are shifting back to a route they abandoned years ago.

Convicted NY child molester launches new bid to clear name

NEW YORK - A New York man who spent 13 years in prison for molesting children in the 1980s is relaunching his decade-long bid to clear his name, court papers show, reviving a controversy that was made the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary.

California eatery marks fois gras ban with free pate portions

SAN FRANCISCO - In a special offer to wistful diners on the two-year anniversary of California’s foie gras ban, a Napa Valley restaurant plans to serve up the culinary delicacy to a select number of its patrons next month – for free.

More than 50 dogs killed in Dallas house fire

DALLAS - More than 50 dogs were killed and two people injured when a fire swept through a Dallas house on Tuesday, fire officials said.

Man pleads guilty in Texas to rhino horn smuggling

AUSTIN Texas - An Asian art dealer based in a Dallas suburb pleaded guilty on Tuesday to being part of a ring that smuggled more than $1 million of rhino horn and elephant ivory from the United States to China, U.S. prosecutors said.

Connecticut mechanic smashes customer's rare Ferrari

- A mechanic driving a customer's extremely rare Ferrari sports car wrecked it on a Connecticut highway, state police said on Tuesday.

KFC says story of scarred girl asked to leave was hoax

- A story involving a disfigured 3-year-old Mississippi girl whose family said they were asked to leave a KFC restaurant because her appearance was scaring customers, has been found to be a hoax, according to a spokesman for the fried chicken franchise.

Montana judge tells fast-food worker to get a 'real job'

- A Montana judge facing censure for suggesting a teenage girl was partly to blame for being raped by a teacher came under scrutiny again after he asked a man convicted of vandalism why he didn’t get a “real job” instead of working at a fast-food chain.

Would-be creditors seek dump trucks, nuclear research from bankrupt Detroit

- As if it's not bad enough that Detroit acknowledges it owes its creditors $18 billion, another batch of would-be creditors says the city owes them much more, for garbage trucks worth $150 million to nuclear research materials valued at an alleged $1 trillion.

Arizona couple accused of child abuse plead not guilty

PHOENIX - An Arizona couple accused of repeatedly beating their two adopted daughters and leaving them severely malnourished pleaded not guilty on Monday to child abuse charges, court officials said.

University of Oregon suspends basketball players accused of rape

PORTLAND Ore. - Three University of Oregon basketball players who were accused of raping a classmate but have not been criminally charged have been suspended from the school for as long as their accuser continues to be enrolled there, her attorney said on Tuesday.

Calif. prosecutors: Informant claims should not derail death penalty case

SANTA ANA Calif. - Prosecutors seeking the death penalty against a former tugboat worker who killed eight people in a 2011 shooting rampage at a California hair salon asked a judge on Monday to cut off further inquiry into his claims of misconduct on their part.

U.S. Air Force to resume F-35A fighter jet flights Wednesday

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Air Force said it will resume flights of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 A-model fighter jets at a Florida air base on Wednesday, two days after one of the jets caught fire while preparing for takeoff.

Drone flown in possible peep attempt outside Seattle woman's apartment

- Two men piloted a drone outside a Seattle woman's apartment in a possible attempt to peep at her, and after a concierge came outside to see what they were doing, the two men drove off, city police said on Tuesday.

Man who shot self at Arlington was 92-year-old retired officer

WASHINGTON - A man who died of a self-inflicted gunshot at Arlington National Cemetery has been identified as a 92-year-old retired U.S. Air Force officer, officials said on Tuesday.

Pennsylvania pastor defrocked for son's gay wedding is reinstated

PHILADELPHIA - A Methodist pastor who was defrocked after officiating at his son's same-sex wedding ceremony will be reinstated, said a church appeals panel that withdrew his punishment on Tuesday.

Two arrested in 25-year-old Michigan murder mystery

- Two Michigan brothers were arrested Tuesday and charged with the 25-year-old murder of a young woman in a case that has long frustrated law enforcement, officials said.

CDC reassigns director of lab behind anthrax blunder

ATLANTA/CHICAGO - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reassigned the director of the bioterror lab behind the potential anthrax exposure of dozens of scientists and staff, sources told Reuters, as the anthrax controversy intensified.

Second bridge probe linked to Christie is underway: report

NEW YORK - A second bridge investigation linked to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is underway, this one focusing on possible securities law violations involving the Pulaski Skyway bridge, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Warming oceans may shrink Florida stone crab supply

MIAMI - Researchers working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say warmer, more acidic oceans may reduce the number of stone crab hatchlings as the availability of the popular, pricey delicacy dwindles.

CDC says more lab workers may have been exposed to anthrax

CHICAGO - U.S. authorities increased to 84 people their count of government workers potentially exposed to live anthrax at three laboratories in Atlanta as they investigated a breach in safety procedures for handling the deadly pathogen.

Turkish man jailed for life for murdering U.S. tourist

ISTANBUL - A Turkish man was sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison for the 2013 murder of American tourist Sarai Sierra, whose disappearance in Istanbul had triggered a massive search.

U.S. investigators propose review of flight controls after Asiana crash

WASHINGTON - U.S. investigators on Tuesday said automated flight controls and warning systems on Boeing Co's 777 jetliner might have done a better job helping Asiana Airlines pilots possibly avoid a crash in San Francisco last July that killed three people and injured more than 180.

KFC probes case of scarred girl asked to leave U.S. fried chicken outlet

- KFC expects findings soon about whether a Mississippi girl with facial scars was asked to leave a franchise and plans to donate $30,000 toward her care despite a report the story was a hoax, a company spokesman said on Tuesday.

Massachusetts court OKs gambling referendum

BOSTON - Massachusetts voters will have an opportunity in November to repeal a 2011 law legalizing gambling, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled on Tuesday, casting uncertainty over a years-long effort to bring casinos to the state.

New York authorities raid Rikers Island jail in crackdown

NEW YORK - New York City authorities raided Rikers Island and searched guards going in and out of the city's largest jail complex as part of a months-long investigation into drugs, weapons and contraband, officials said Tuesday.

Woman scales barrier to feed cookies to lions in Tennessee zoo

- A woman climbed over a railing at the Memphis Zoo, breached a barrier of thorn bushes and tried to feed lions cookies through a piano wire fence as she sang to them, a zoo spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Records of dead veterans altered at Phoenix VA: CNN

- Records of dead veterans were altered to hide the number of people who died while awaiting care at the Phoenix hospital of the Department of Veterans Affairs, an employee of the facility told CNN.

U.S. Navy sailor dies during parachute training in California

- A U.S. Navy sailor has died from injuries suffered during special operations parachute training in Southern California, a military official said on Tuesday.

Man rams Texas house with car, asks for bathroom: TV report

SAN ANTONIO - A Texas man was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after he plowed his sport utility vehicle into a San Antonio house and then asking the homeowner if he could use the bathroom, police and a TV news report said on Tuesday.

Mom charged after toddler daughter thrown from moving car

- A Louisiana woman faces charges of attempted murder after her 20-month-old daughter was flung out of their car and injured as the mother sped around a curve at 30 to 45 miles an hour, authorities said.

Asiana crash hearing to focus on pilots: U.S. safety board ex-chair

WASHINGTON - A former head of the U.S. transportation safety regulator said pilot error will likely be the focus of a hearing on Tuesday on the cause of an Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco International Airport last July in which three passengers died.

Republican favored in Florida special congressional election

TAMPA Fla. - Voters in southwest Florida on Tuesday were expected to pick another Republican to replace U.S. Representative Trey Radel, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to possessing cocaine.

U.S. sends more agents to border amid child immigrant crisis

WASHINGTON - Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday the United States is sending more agents to the border with Mexico to help deal with a flood of undocumented children, mostly from Central America, crossing into the United States.

New York Representative Rangel faces voters in congressional primary

NEW YORK - Voters in New York City's Harlem neighborhood and parts of the Bronx will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide the political fate of U.S. Representative Charles Rangel, who is running for a 23rd term in Congress.

Suspect in Seattle shooting spree to mount insanity defense

SEATTLE - A man charged with opening fire with a shotgun at a small Christian college in Seattle, killing a student, intends to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, his lawyer said at a court appearance by the suspect on Monday.

Seattle hiking expert Sykes died of hypothermia: official

SEATTLE - Prominent Seattle hiking enthusiast and author Karen Sykes, whose body was found near Mount Rainier after she disappeared during a trail hike, died of hypothermia, an official in Washington state said on Monday.

U.S. judge approves $135.7 million sale of Brookstone to investor consortium

- Retailer Brookstone Inc [TEMSHB.UL] announced on Monday that a federal bankruptcy court judge in Delaware has approved its sale to a consortium of Chinese investors that will run its 240 stores after exiting bankruptcy.

California's top court says Target not required to carry in-store defibrillators

SACRAMENTO - California's top court on Monday unanimously ruled that large retailers are not required to provide automated external defibrillators (AEDs) inside their stores, deciding in favor of Target Corp in a wrongful death lawsuit brought after a shopper's sudden death.

Even as U.S. economic opportunity falls, study finds broader gains

WASHINGTON - Economic opportunity has dropped in the United States over the past 40 years, but a broader gauge of opportunity incorporating crime, education and healthcare has been on the rise, according to a study released on Tuesday.

Crowded rails in U.S. coal country throw miners, utilities out of gear

- Coal miners and power companies are both suffering as railroads struggle to clear a backlog of coal stuck in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana after the harshest winter in over a decade.

Review finds 'inexplicable delays' in Pennsylvania's handling of Sandusky case

HARRISBURG Penn. - A highly anticipated review of the child sex abuse case against Jerry Sandusky released on Monday found delays in prosecuting the former Penn State football coach but no evidence of political interference by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett during his time as attorney general.

Major quake hits off Alaska's Aleutian Islands

JUNEAU Alaska - A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck deep under the ocean floor near Alaska's Aleutian Islands, triggering shaking that could be felt for vast distances and briefly prompting a tsunami warning, the National Tsunami Warning Center said.

Venezuelan arrested for threatening calls after Sandy Hook massacre

- A Venezuelan man suspected of having made dozens of threatening phone calls in the aftermath of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, claiming he was the shooter, appeared in federal court on Monday after being arrested over the weekend, authorities said.

U.S. group changes lung transplant policy for kids

NEWTOWN SQUARE Pa. - A U.S. group that sets policy for organ transplants voted on Monday to adopt a permanent rule to allow some children access to adult lungs.

BNSF, CP railroads ordered to report U.S. grain shipping plans

- U.S. officials ordered BNSF Railway Co [BNISF.UL] and Canadian Pacific Railway Co to report by Friday their plans to clear a backlog of grain cars after months of service delays blamed on harsh winter weather and high freight demand.

Examiner says ex-Penn State coach Sandusky should get pension restored

- Former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky should be allowed to keep his state pension of roughly $60,000 a year despite his 45 child sex abuse convictions, an independent hearing examiner recommended on Monday.

Connecticut man arraigned for hiding 19 bags of pot in sock at court

MILFORD Conn. - A Connecticut man who told his probation officer he “wasn't foolish enough” to bring drugs into court was arraigned on Monday on charges of hiding 19 bags of marijuana in his sock during a meeting at the courthouse.

Review finds 'inexplicable delays' in Pennsylvania's handling of Sandusky case

HARRISBURG Penn. - A highly anticipated review of the child sex abuse case against Jerry Sandusky released on Monday found delays in prosecuting the former Penn State football coach but no evidence of political interference by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett during his time as attorney general.

F-35A fighter jet flights suspended after fire at U.S. air base

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Air Force on Monday temporarily halted flights at a Florida air base of 26 F-35A fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp after a jet caught fire as it was preparing to take off for a training flight, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Pennsylvania ex-prosecutor, wife, plead in adoption abuse case

- A former Pennsylvania prosecutor and his wife pleaded no contest on Monday to charges of endangering the welfare of two children they adopted from Ethiopia.

Lawyers for Clippers owner says was duped into mental capacity exam

LOS ANGELES - Attorneys for Donald Sterling told a probate court judge on Monday that the Los Angeles Clippers co-owner had been duped into medical examinations that determined he lacked the mental capacity to have a say in the $2 billion sale of his team.

Local tsunami warning issued after quake hits off Alaska's Aleutian Islands

WASHINGTON - A local tsunami warning was issued after an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean west of Alaska's Aleutian Islands on Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Tsunami Warning Center said.

Iraqi-American who staged wife's murder as hate crime gets life term

SAN DIEGO - An Iraqi-American convicted of bludgeoning his wife to death in a slaying staged to look like an anti-Muslim hate crime was sentenced on Monday to 26 years to life in prison.

Obama to award Medal of Honor to U.S. ex-paratrooper Pitts

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will award former Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts the Medal of Honor, the highest U.S. award for heroism, on July 21 for gallantry during one of the bloodiest battles of the Afghan war, the White House said on Monday.

Animals killed and injured when fire hits Tennessee rescue center

NASHVILLE Tenn. - Firefighters rescued live animals and removed the remains of dead ones from a wildlife rehabilitation facility that caught fire in the Nashville suburb of Joelton on Monday, a fire official said.

Mormon church excommunicates prominent U.S. activist Kate Kelly

SALT LAKE CITY - Prominent Mormon activist Kate Kelly was excommunicated by her church on Monday after advocating for women’s ordination, something leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said amounted to apostasy.

Mideast firm to operate new cargo terminal at Port Canaveral, Florida

CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. - A Middle Eastern-owned company landed its first North American port operations contract on Monday, a 35-year agreement with Port Canaveral on Florida's east coast.

New Jersey town without police force to put armed guards in school

- A New Jersey school district has voted to place armed guards in a local high school for students' security in a rural town that does not have a police force, the superintendent said Monday.

Homeland Security chief warns parents on child immigration surge

WASHINGTON - Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned Central American parents against sending their children to the United States illegally, part of a White House effort to stem a flood of children crossing the border.

Christian broadcaster arrested on child sex charges in Michigan

- A Michigan radio personality, known for his work on "family friendly" Christian broadcasts, was due in court Monday on charges of paying a middleman to arrange sexual encounters with young boys, authorities said.

Friend of Boston bomb suspect rejects plea deal, lawyer says

BOSTON - A friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is confident he will beat charges he hampered the investigation into the blasts, one of his attorneys said on Monday, citing a "lack of evidence" in the case.

Official report into Sandusky case finds 'inexplicable delays'

HARRISBURG Penn. - A highly anticipated review of the child sex abuse case against Jerry Sandusky released on Monday found delays in prosecuting the former Penn State football coach but no evidence of political interference by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett during his time as attorney general.

Ex-Millennium Global manager gets four years in prison over fraud

NEW YORK - A former London-based portfolio manager was sentenced to four years in prison on Monday for inflating his hedge fund's assets by manipulating the value of Nigerian debt.

Judge overturns Montana law requiring immigration checks for state services

- A Montana judge struck down a law requiring proof of legal immigration status to seek state services, saying the measure approved by Montana voters in 2012 tramples on the federal government's mandate to decide on immigration matters.

Suspect in deadly Seattle shooting spree to mount insanity defense

SEATTLE - A man charged with murder in a shooting spree at a small Christian college in Seattle intends to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, his lawyer said at a court appearance by the suspect on Monday.

Nepali police hold two men, seek others suspected of raping U.S. woman

KATHMANDU - Police in Nepal said on Monday they had detained two men and were searching for two others suspected of raping an American woman in a hotel in Kathmandu.

Court releases memo justifying drone attacks on U.S. citizens

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court on Monday released a redacted version of the U.S. Justice Department's legal justification for the September 2011 drone attack that killed Anwar al Awlaki, a American-born Islamist preacher alleged to be an operational leader with al Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate.

Official report into Sandusky case finds 'inexplicable delays'

HARRISBURG Penn. - A highly anticipated review of the child sex abuse case against Jerry Sandusky released on Monday found delays in prosecuting the former Penn State football coach but no evidence of political interference by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett during his time as attorney general.

Obama's parenting advice: give kids lots of love and a few rules

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama, dad to two teenage girls, has some simple advice for raising kids.

U.S. top court rejects Wisconsin abortion case

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to intervene in the legal fight over a new Wisconsin law that requires any doctor performing an abortion to have privileges to admit patients to a nearby hospital.

U.S. top court declines to revive New Jersey sports betting law

WASHINGTON - New Jersey’s attempt to introduce licensed sports betting has failed, with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday leaving intact a lower court ruling that said a federal law did not allow it.

Obama seeks to expand flex-time for government workers

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama, as part of efforts to make the U.S. workplace more accommodating for employees with families, will on Monday direct federal agencies to step up efforts give workers more leeway in determining their schedules.

Exclusive: CDC reassigns director of lab behind anthrax blunder

ATLANTA/CHICAGO - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reassigned the director of the bioterror lab behind the potential anthrax exposure of dozens of scientists and staff, sources told Reuters, as the anthrax controversy intensified.

Louisiana's Poverty Point earthworks named a UNESCO world heritage site

- UNESCO on Sunday designated the ancient monumental earthworks of Poverty Point, Louisiana, as a world heritage site, making it the 22nd such U.S. site alongside such landmarks as the Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty, officials said.

Mideast scholar Fouad Ajami dead at 68

- Fouad Ajami, a prolific writer who became one of the world's most prominent Middle East historians, died on Sunday aged 68, Stanford University said.

Former U.S. Attorney General Thornburgh in hospital: family

- Richard Thornburgh, a former U.S. attorney general and two-term Pennsylvania governor, has been hospitalized in Pittsburgh, his family said on Sunday.

Former Afghanistan POW Bergdahl discharged from hospital: Army

- U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who spent five years as a Taliban prisoner of war before being released last month, has been discharged from a military hospital in Texas and will continue treatment as an outpatient, the Army said Sunday.

Mayors call on Congress to tackle illegal immigration

DALLAS - U.S. mayors on Sunday called for Congress to draw up bipartisan legislation to address a surge of illegal immigrants into the United States and asked for help to ease the resulting financial burden on local governments.

Republicans call for secure U.S. border amid child immigrant influx

WASHINGTON - Republican lawmakers on Sunday stepped up calls to secure the U.S. border with Mexico before proceeding with changes to the country's immigration policies, linking the issue to a recent surge of illegal children.

Firefighters see progress battling Navajo reservation wildfire

- Firefighters on Sunday reported good progress working to contain a wildfire that has torn through pine woodlands and brush on a Navajo reservation in northwestern New Mexico.

Transgender priest preaches at Washington's National Cathedral

WASHINGTON - An Episcopal chaplain on Sunday became the first openly transgender priest to preach at the historic National Cathedral in Washington D.C.

Couple rescued after treading water for 14 hours off Florida coast

MIAMI - A group of off-duty sheriff's officers on a morning fishing trip near Fort Lauderdale, Florida rescued a couple who had been treading water all night after falling off their boat near Key Largo and drifting nearly 70 miles.

Man dies attending Electric Daisy Carnival in Nevada

- A California man died while attending a large electronic music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, authorities said on Sunday.

Alaska police kill bear that broke into Juneau house

- Police shot dead a black bear after it pushed its way through the front door of a house in Alaska's capital of Juneau while people were at home, authorities said.

U.S. soccer star Hope Solo arrested in assault on sister, nephew

SEATTLE - Hope Solo, goalkeeper for the U.S. women's soccer team, was arrested early on Saturday morning for striking her sister and a teenage nephew during a dispute at her home in a Seattle suburb, police said.

Body found in search for Seattle hiker missing near Mt.Rainer

SEATTLE - National Park Service rangers have suspended the search for a missing Seattle hiking enthusiast and author after finding the body of a woman in the search area around Mount Rainier, park officials told Reuters on Saturday.

South Texas lawmaker calls for inquiry into mass immigrant graves

AUSTIN Texas - A state senator from South Texas called on Saturday for an investigation into recently discovered mass graves containing the bodies of apparent illegal immigrants believed to have been buried by a funeral home paid by the local county government.

Mormon church sues Canadian polygamist over trademarked name

SALT LAKE CITY Utah - The Mormon church has sued a Canadian polygamist for using its trademarked name, saying its reputation was damaged and that donations intended for the denomination were misdirected, a lawsuit filed in a Canadian court said.

U.S. soccer player Hope Solo arrested in domestic assault

- Hope Solo, goalkeeper for the U.S. women's soccer team, was arrested early on Saturday morning for striking her sister and teenage nephew during a dispute at her home in a Seattle suburb, police said.

U.S. building arts college draws young blood to ancient trades

CHARLESTON S.C. - In the bowels of what was once a jail in Charleston, South Carolina, Cody James, 22, is carving limestone blocks into a mantelpiece for one of the city's historic homes.

Parents of California victims angered by "broken" health, legal systems: WaPo

- The families of three college students stabbed to death by a 22-year-old before he gunned down three more victims said the U.S. health and legal systems valued the rights of the mentally ill over those who become their victims.

U.S. Presbyterian Church to shed investments in Israel protest

- A deeply-divided gathering of U.S. Presbyterian Church elders and ministers narrowly voted on Friday to divest the religious group's holdings in three American companies it says have ties to Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian Territories.

White House announces steps to address immigrant surge

WASHINGTON - The White House on Friday stepped up efforts to slow the flow of illegal children into the country, expanding the government's ability to process and deport people and announcing new funding to boost security in crime-plagued Central American countries.

Seattle hiking expert-author missing on Mount Rainier

SEATTLE - National Park Service rangers have mounted a search for a prominent Seattle hiking enthusiast and author after she disappeared on a trail near Mount Rainier earlier this week, officials said on Friday.

Wrongly jailed U.S. man to get $1.2 million, 21 years after his release

TALLAHASSEE Fla. - A man who was released in 1989 after he was wrongly convicted of fatally poisoning his seven children will be paid $1.2 million for the 21 years he spent in prison under legislation signed into law on Friday by Governor Rick Scott.

Murder suspect who escaped in Colorado caught in cemetery

DENVER - Authorities in Colorado caught a fugitive suspect in a cemetery on Friday hours after he escaped from a private prisoner transport company's van while being extradited from Nevada to face murder charges in Illinois, officials said.

UCLA professor ordered to perform community service in fatal lab fire

LOS ANGELES - A UCLA professor charged in a lab fire that fatally burned a Pakistani research assistant was fined $10,000 and ordered to perform community service on Friday after accepting responsibility for laboratory conditions that led to the blaze, prosecutors said.

Mormon church says it must defend integrity of its doctrine

SALT LAKE CITY - Mormon church leaders welcome questions of faith and doctrine from members but become concerned when they lead to public statements or organized efforts to force change, a spokeswoman said on Friday as the church considers taking steps against two prominent activists.

Family friendly workplaces would boost economy: White House

WASHINGTON - The United States could boost its sagging labor force participation rate and get more people back to work - if more businesses had family friendly policies such as paid maternity and paternity leave, the White House said in a report on Friday.

Where to retire and get best care? Not Florida or Arizona: AARP

ORLANDO Fla. - Retirees who move to Florida and Arizona - popular retirement destinations - may not be getting the quality of life they expect, according to a study that ranked U.S. states by their long-term care services.

Arizona man sentenced to four years prison in baby's hot car death

- An Arizona man whose baby died when he forgot the boy in a car on a hot summer day while he completed tasks at the pub where he worked was sentenced on Friday to four years in prison, an official said.

Starbucks to raise prices on some drinks, packaged coffee

- Starbucks Corp on Friday said it will raise prices on some drinks offered by its U.S. shops and also boost list prices on its own brand of packaged coffee sold in supermarkets and other retail outlets.

Retired physician pleads guilty to killing Aspen, Colorado socialite

DENVER - A retired physician pleaded guilty on Friday to killing a socialite in the tony ski resort town of Aspen, Colorado, and authorities dropped murder charges against his wife and a third suspect, prosecutors said.

Cleveland man sentenced to 35 years in city's deadliest arson

CLEVELAND - A Cleveland man was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Friday for setting a fire that killed nine people, including eight children, the deadliest arson in the city's history.

Teens charged with helping Minnesota school suspect test bombs

- Two teenage boys have been charged with helping a student accused of planning a massacre at his southern Minnesota high school make and test explosives, police said on Friday.

Oregon high school shooter took brother's gun: documents

PORTLAND Ore.  - A teenager who killed a classmate and injured a teacher at an Oregon high school stole the rifle he used in the shooting from his brother, a U.S. Army reservist, court documents obtained on Friday showed. 

CDC says more lab workers may have been exposed to anthrax

CHICAGO - U.S. authorities increased to 84 people their count of government workers potentially exposed to live anthrax at three laboratories in Atlanta as they investigated a breach in safety procedures for handling the deadly pathogen.

Convicted Alaska murderer says he killed three more people

JUNEAU Alaska - An Anchorage, Alaska, man already serving a life sentence in federal prison for two murders has confessed to three other killings, including a 20-year-old homicide, state and federal authorities said on Friday.

In ending Central Park jogger case, NYC mayor signals new approach

NEW YORK - The reported $40 million settlement between New York City and five men wrongfully convicted of the 1989 rape of a woman jogger in Central Park is the latest sign that Mayor Bill de Blasio will not always defend the police in civil rights cases.

Drones help hunt for firefighter missing in California forest

SAN FRANCISCO - Search and rescue crews used aerial drones on Friday to help hunt for an off-duty firefighter who went missing a week ago when he ran off after his dog while hiking in California's Los Padres National Forest, officials said.

Tennessee court adopts tougher bail rules following assault case

NASHVILLE Tenn. - A Tennessee criminal court adopted tougher bail rules for domestic violence suspects on Friday, following a case in which police say a man jailed for assaulting his girlfriend was released early and attacked her again the same morning.

Louisiana curbs private custody transfers of children

NEW ORLEANS - Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Friday signed into law a ban on private custody transfers of children to non-family members without court approval, as concerns rise that children are being put at risk by the practice.

NY judge narrows state's case against former Goldman programmer

A New York state judge on Friday significantly narrowed the evidence the Manhattan district attorney can use in its case against a former Goldman Sachs computer programmer accused of stealing secret code from the bank.

Stephanie Kwolek, American chemist who invented Kevlar, dies at 90

WASHINGTON - Stephanie Kwolek, an American chemist who in 1965 invented a super-strong fiber called Kevlar that revolutionized body armor and protected innumerable police officers and soldiers from bullets, has died at age 90.

Wyoming student’s push to recite pledge of allegiance ignites debate

- A U.S. Army veteran’s claim that he was denied the right to recite the pledge of allegiance during a student government meeting at the University of Wyoming has touched off a national online debate over free speech and patriotism.

Florida stiffens law after woman tricked into taking abortion pill

TAMPA Fla. - Florida Governor Rick Scott on Friday signed into law harsher penalties for crimes that cause the death of a fetus, no matter how early in the pregnancy.

Michigan governor signs bills for Detroit bankruptcy plan

DETROIT - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on Friday signed into law bills that complete funding for a key component of Detroit's plan to adjust $18 billion of debt and exit the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Bullet shatters New York hospital window, injures patient

NEW YORK - A single bullet shattered the window of a New York hospital room on Friday, injuring a patient who suffered glass cuts to her face, a police spokesman said.

Cuban baseball player Yasmani Tomas defects

HAVANA - A 23-year-old Cuban outfielder has defected, official media reported on Friday, apparently in hopes of joining compatriots who have signed lucrative contracts with Major League Baseball teams.

One killed, one injured in southern New Jersey building collapse

- One person was killed and another was injured on Friday when a commercial building collapsed in southern New Jersey about 10 miles (16.1 km) east of Philadelphia, local authorities said.

Fire chief, family of five killed in Montana fire engine crash

- A fire chief and a family of five, including three children, were killed in a crash in Montana when the chief's fire engine and the family's pickup truck collided, spun into a roadside ditch and burst into flames, authorities said on Friday.

Florida law seeks to change rules for Cuban baseball players

TALLAHASSEE Fla. - Major League Baseball must allow players in Cuba to sign contracts directly with professional teams in the United States in order to receive tax breaks in Florida under a new law signed by Governor Rick Scott on Friday.

NJ's bankrupt Revel casino gets cash lifeline to hunt for buyer

CAMDEN N.J. - Atlantic City's bankrupt Revel Casino Hotel has received court approval to borrow $23.9 million that it said would keep the 1,400-room resort operating for the coming month as it scrambles to find a buyer.

At least one dead in building collapse in southern New Jersey: media

- At least one person died after a building in southern New Jersey partially collapsed on Friday afternoon, according to local media.

Homeland Security says 52,000 minors at U.S. borders since October

SAN ANTONIO - Since October, 52,000 unaccompanied children have arrived on the U.S. border with Mexico, the Department of Homeland Security said on Friday, underscoring an immigration problem seen by the White House as a humanitarian crisis.

Army general who had improper liaisons will retire at lower rank

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. - An Army general reprimanded for improper relationships with junior female officers but cleared of sexual assault charges will be retired at a reduced rank that strips him of some pension benefits, Army Secretary John McHugh said on Friday.

U.S. to move some embassy staff from Kenya over security concerns

WASHINGTON - The United States said on Friday it would move some staff from its embassy in Kenya to other countries following a string of militant attacks on the country's coast.

New York mayor and city council reach balanced budget agreement

- New York's mayor and city council came to a handshake agreement late Thursday night for an on-time and balanced budget, of $75 billion, for the next fiscal year.

Review of Penn State child-abuse probe to be issued on Monday

- A long-awaited probe into the investigation of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing children, will be released early next week, Pennsylvania authorities said on Friday.

White House announces funding to address immigrant surge

WASHINGTON - The White House on Friday announced tens of millions of dollars of additional funding for Central American governments to address the root causes of migration that has led to a surge of migrants, many of them children, into the United States.

New York City wins state approval to lower speed limit

NEW YORK - State lawmakers on Friday approved New York City's request to lower its speed limit to 25 miles per hour, down from 30, as part of the city's effort to reduce traffic fatalities.

Drone test flights starting in Texas -FAA

WASHINGTON - The fourth of six U.S. test sites chosen to perform research on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, has started operations in Texas to study weather patterns, among other things, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday.

Florida law allows firing of warning shots

TAMPA Fla. - Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law on Friday a controversial bill involving the state's "stand your ground" self-defense rules, making it legal in some circumstances to fire a warning shot.

Obama, via Uruguay, urges Cuba to release jailed U.S. citizen

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama has sent an indirect message to Cuban President Raúl Castro through Uruguay's leader, asking Cuba to release a jailed U.S. aid contractor and encouraging political reforms, U.S. officials said on Friday.

Pilot reports laser strike on approach to Los Angeles airport

LOS ANGELES - The captain of a US Airways flight earlier this week reported being visually impaired by a laser strike as the jet approached Los Angeles International Airport, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said on Friday.

U.S. creates new CEO position for Obamacare insurance marketplace

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration on Friday announced the creation of a new chief executive position to oversee operations of the federal Obamacare marketplace that provides private health insurance to consumers in 36 U.S. states.

Home found for detained friend of accused Boston bomber -lawyer

BOSTON - A lawyer for a friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber who has been in U.S. custody since he was arrested in late May and charged with lying to investigators said on Friday he has found a place for the man to live ahead of trial, clearing the way for the suspect's possible release.

Sex abuse lawsuit against former Elmo puppeteer is dismissed

NEW YORK - A federal judge in Pennsylvania has dismissed a lawsuit accusing Kevin Clash, the puppeteer known for his work as the voice of Sesame Street's Elmo, of child sexual abuse.

One killed, five injured in New Jersey highway accident

- One person was killed and five others injured in a single-vehicle accident that has closed portions of the Atlantic City Expressway on Friday, the New Jersey State Police said.

Texas governor says he 'stepped right in it' on gay comments

- Texas Governor Rick Perry has said he "stepped right in it" when he compared homosexuality to alcoholism as something that can be fought against despite genetic disposition.

Texas mother sentenced to two years for tearing son's scrotum

SAN ANTONIO - A 34-year-old woman was sentenced in a U.S. federal court on Thursday to two years in prison for ripping a nearly two-inch (5 cm) tear in her 6-year-old son's scrotum during a fit of anger, and then trying to repair the wound with super glue.

New York poised to become 23rd U.S. state to allow medical marijuana

NEW YORK - Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers announced a deal on Thursday that would allow limited access to medical marijuana and make New York the 23rd U.S. state to offer some kind of availability of the drug for therapeutic purposes.

Exclusive: U.S. says 75 government scientists possibly exposed to anthrax

As many as 75 scientists working in U.S. federal government laboratories in Atlanta may have been exposed to live anthrax bacteria and are being offered treatment to prevent infection from the deadly toxin, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.

Atlantic City's Revel Casino files bankruptcy again, seeks buyers

- Atlantic City's Revel Casino Hotel on Thursday filed its second bankruptcy in just over a year as the struggling casino hunts for a buyer to save it.

California bill would limit football practices to reduce concussions

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California lawmakers on Thursday moved to restrict the number of football practices in which students are allowed to tackle each other, due to concerns that permanent brain damage could result from concussions among high school athletes.

Hot grits hurled at man in Florida leads to attempted murder charge

TAMPA Fla. - A Florida man faces murder charges after trying to settle a fight with his neighbor by throwing a scalding pot of a Southern food specialty - hot, greasy grits.

Seattle college student charged over Internet threats

SEATTLE - A University of Washington student was charged in federal court on Thursday with making threatening comments over the Internet, where prosecutors said he pledged to kill women and praised a California college student who went on a killing spree in May.

Hot grits hurled at man in Florida leads to attempted murder charge

TAMPA Fla. - A Florida man faces murder charges after trying to settle a fight with his neighbor by throwing a scalding pot of a Southern food specialty - hot, greasy grits.

FBI investigating possible anthrax exposure at U.S. lab

WASHINGTON - The FBI is working with the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine government scientists’ possible exposure to anthrax at a lab in Atlanta, but has found no evidence of wrongdoing, a spokesman for the agency said on Thursday.

Lance Armstrong must face U.S. doping lawsuit, judge rules

- A U.S. judge on Thursday rejected Lance Armstrong's bid to dismiss a federal whistleblower lawsuit claiming that he and his former cycling team, which had been sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, had defrauded the government through a scheme to use banned, performance-enhancing drugs.

Former Utah drug cop charged with manslaughter in 2012 shooting

SALT LAKE CITY - Prosecutors charged a former Utah police detective with manslaughter on Thursday in the shooting death of a woman during a botched undercover drug operation in 2012, authorities said.

U.S.-born share of Hispanic workforce eclipses immigrants

LOS ANGELES - For the first time in nearly 20 years, most Hispanic workers in the United States are native-born citizens and not immigrants due mainly to waning migration from Latin America, a Pew Research Center study released on Thursday showed.

Authorities scale back search for missing Alaska family

JUNEAU Alaska - Local and federal authorities have scaled back a three-week search for a missing Alaska couple and their two small children who were last heard from in late May, police said.

Seattle sheriff's deputy arrested for drugs, theft, prostitution

SEATTLE - A sheriff's deputy in Seattle was arrested and charged on Thursday with drug dealing, stealing from his department and acting as his wife's pimp, authorities said.

Los Angeles serial killer found guilty of four more strangling murders

LOS ANGELES - A serial killer facing the death penalty for murdering 10 women in Los Angeles was found guilty by a jury on Thursday of four more counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of women he strangled between 1987 and 1997, prosecutors said.

Colorado judge rules ski resort not immune from lawsuit in avalanche death

DENVER - A Colorado judge has ruled that a ski resort operator is not immune from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a 13-year-old boy who was killed in an avalanche on Vail Mountain in 2012.

Lance Armstrong must face U.S. doping lawsuit, judge rules

- A federal judge on Thursday rejected Lance Armstrong's bid to dismiss a whistleblower lawsuit claiming that he and his former cycling team, which the U.S. Postal Service had sponsored, defrauded the government in a scheme to use banned, performance-enhancing drugs.

California officials seek to ensure safety of trains hauling crude oil

SACRAMENTO Calif. - State and local officials in California, worried that trains carrying crude oil from Canada and North Dakota could cause explosions or environmental damage in their state, asked lawmakers on Thursday to regulate the shipments, which are becoming more frequent.

U.S. Presbyterian Church OKs clergy performing gay weddings

- A gathering of U.S. Presbyterian Church elders and ministers voted on Thursday to allow their clergy to perform same-sex weddings, in a major reversal for one of the largest mainline Protestant denominations, a church official said.

Weaker winds aid firefighters battling Navajo reservation blaze

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. - Weaker winds on Thursday allowed firefighters to gain ground on a wildfire that has raged for seven days through parched pine woodlands and brush on a Navajo reservation in northwestern New Mexico, a state fire official said.

Obama extends family leave rights of gay couples

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Friday will announce a rule that makes legally married same-sex couples eligible for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act in all 50 states, a White House official said.

N.Y. City to pay $40 million to end 'Central Park Jogger' lawsuit: source

NEW YORK - New York City has agreed to pay $40 million to five men who were convicted, and later exonerated, of brutally raping a female jogger in Central Park in 1989, settling a long-fought civil rights lawsuit, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Exclusive: U.S. says government lab workers possibly exposed to anthrax

As many as 75 scientists and staff in U.S. government laboratories in Atlanta may have been exposed to live anthrax bacteria after researchers failed to follow safety procedures, prompting an investigation by federal authorities.

New York poised to become 23rd U.S. state to allow medical marijuana

ALBANY N.Y. - Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers announced a deal on Thursday that would allow limited access to medical marijuana in New York, making it the 23rd U.S. state to legalize some kind of availability of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

Three people wounded in shooting after rap concert in Denver area

DENVER - Three people were wounded in a shooting in the parking lot of a Denver-area amphitheater after a concert headlined by American rapper Nas, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said early on Friday morning.

Deadly pig virus cases in U.S. projected to surge after summer

- U.S. veterinarians are warning that outbreaks of a deadly pig virus will climb this autumn after a summertime hiatus, likely killing another 2.5 million pigs over the next 12 months and amplifying an increase in pork prices.

Tornado damages homes and businesses in South Dakota town

SIOUX FALLS S.D. - A tornado plowed through the heart of a small town in eastern South Dakota on Wednesday, causing heavy damage to numerous homes and businesses, but no serious injuries were reported, weather and emergency management officials said.

Florida manatee canonball dive video leads to probation for two men

TAMPA Fla. - Two men caught on video in a cannonball-style jump onto Florida manatees were sentenced on Wednesday to two years probation and community service for harassing the endangered sea cow.

Teenager pleads guilty in April mob beating of Detroit motorist

- A Michigan teenager on Wednesday pleaded guilty to an assault charge and agreed to testify against others in the severe beating of a motorist who struck a child accidentally in Detroit, the second teen to do so in the case this week.

Florida executes man for 1985 murder of wife and her child: official

TALLAHASSEE Fla. - A man convicted of killing his wife and her 5-year-old son nearly 30 years ago was executed at Florida State Prison on Wednesday, the third person to die by injection in 24 hours in separate cases across the South.

Washington state student stays behind bars over online threats

SEATTLE - Federal authorities on Wednesday ordered the continued detention of a University of Washington student who police say posted messages online threatening to kill women and praising another college student who went on a killing spree in California in May, officials said.

Florida manatee cannonball dive video leads to probation for two men

TAMPA Fla. - Two men caught on video in a cannonball-style jump onto Florida manatees were sentenced on Wednesday to two years probation and community service for harassing the endangered sea cow.

Circuit maker pays $10 million to settle U.S. export control charges

WASHINGTON - California-based Intersil Corp has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $10 million to settle 339 alleged violations of U.S. export control laws that potentially harmed U.S. national security, the State Department said on Wednesday.

'Harry Potter' stars help debut Universal Orlando ride

ORLANDO Fla. - Stars of the "Harry Potter" franchise hit the red carpet at the much-anticipated expansion of Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter on Wednesday, ahead of the opening of the new attraction on July 8.

Three executions across U.S. South mark first since Oklahoma bungle

TALLAHASSEE Fla. - A man convicted of killing his wife and her 5-year-old son nearly 30 years ago was executed at Florida State Prison on Wednesday, the third person to die by lethal injection in 24 hours across the U.S. South.

U.S. military identifies 17 service members after wreckage from 1950s crash found

JUNEAU Alaska - The bodies of 17 U.S. service members recovered from a 1952 military aircraft crash have been identified following discovery of the wreckage two years ago in Alaska’s Chugach Mountain range, military officials said on Wednesday.

Embassy bomb plotter should have communications limits eased: judge

DENVER - An al Qaeda operative serving a life sentence for his role in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Tanzania that killed 11 people should have restrictions on his communications eased, a federal judge has ruled.

Suspect in 'Fast & Furious' slaying of border agent extradited to U.S

SAN DIEGO - A suspected drug cartel figure accused of killing U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in a case tied to the government's ill-fated "Fast and Furious" gun-running sting was extradited from Mexico to Arizona to face murder charges, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Sainthood closer for U.S. Archbishop Sheen, an early televangelist

CHICAGO - U.S. Catholic Archbishop Fulton Sheen, one of the world's first televangelists, has moved closer to sainthood after a team of theologians agreed a reported miracle should be attributed to his intercession, church officials said on Wednesday.

Lockheed buys California firm that makes thin film coatings

WASHINGTON - Lockheed Martin Corp on Wednesday said it is acquiring Deposition Sciences Inc, a California-based company that provides thin film coatings, for an undisclosed amount from its parent company, Advanced Lighting Technologies Inc.

Genealogy website Ancestry.com says hackers crashed servers

SALT LAKE CITY - The genealogy website Ancestry.com said its websites were recovering on Wednesday after hackers temporarily shut them down this week in a distributed denial of service attack, but it said no consumer data was compromised.

Two men arrested in Texas on terrorism charges

SAN ANTONIO - Two men in central Texas have been arrested on charges of trying "to provide material support to terrorists," with one of the pair seeking to aid extremist groups fighting in Syria, U.S. prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Off-duty firefighter missing after hike in California forest

SAN FRANCISCO - Search and rescue crews hunted on Wednesday for an off-duty firefighter who went missing late last week when he ran off after his dog during a camping trip in California's Los Padres National Forest, officials said.

Pennsylvania man gets year in prison for threat to kill Obama

- A Pennsylvania man who threatened online to kill President Barack Obama, calling him an “Anti-Christ” who will be “shot dead,” was sentenced on Wednesday to 12 months in prison and ordered to undergo mental health treatment.

U.S. watchdog bars Florida broker who used foundation's money

- A Florida broker who worked for Morgan Stanley and Oppenheimer & Co Inc was permanently barred from the securities industry for using money from a foundation he headed to fund personal expenses, Wall Street's industry-funded watchdog said in regulatory documents.

Iraqi man charged with war crimes at Guantanamo tribunal

FORT MEADE Md. - An Iraqi man accused of being a senior member of al Qaeda was formally charged by the U.S. war crimes tribunal in Guantanamo Bay on Wednesday with conspiring to bomb Western forces in Afghanistan and killing civilians and U.S. soldiers.

Texas man gets at least 75 years in jail after infecting girl with HIV

AUSTIN Texas - A 31-year-old Dallas man with HIV who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl was sentenced to at least 75 years in prison on Wednesday for the assault and infecting her with the virus, court officials said.

After bear mauling, Florida neighborhood imposes 'bear-wise' rules

ORLANDO Fla. - A bear attack on a woman during an evening walk has prompted a Central Florida neighborhood to impose the state's first rules requiring residents to secure garbage cans from the scavenging omnivores.

South Florida mayor to remain free on bond in corruption case

MIAMI - A federal judge denied prosecutors’ efforts to jail a south Florida mayor for violating the terms of his bond after he was arrested last year for allegedly accepting thousands of dollars in bribe money from undercover FBI agents.

Utah teen admits stabbing two younger brothers to death

SALT LAKE CITY - A 16-year-old Utah boy pleaded guilty on Wednesday to murdering his two younger brothers by stabbing them to death at the family's home, prosecutors said, and will serve a term of 15 years to life in prison.

Three killed when small plane veers off Alabama runway

- Three people died when a small airplane veered off a runway and caught fire at Alabama's Huntsville International Airport on Wednesday, officials said.

Chicago-area boy sues school over bullying

CHICAGO - The mother of a Chicago-area boy who says her son was routinely punched, kicked and choked by a classmate throughout third grade has filed a lawsuit charging that the school and the parents of the alleged bully failed to protect her son from severe abuse.

U.S. judge blocks 'betrayal' claim in Boston bomber case

BOSTON - A judge told prosecutors on Wednesday that they may not mention that the accused Boston Marathon bomber is a naturalized citizen as a factor in determining whether he should be executed if convicted of the deadly attack.

Missouri gun owner wins apology from police in dispute over video

- A Missouri man who ran into trouble with police when shooting his gun on his family's property and then was ordered to take a video of the incident off the Internet has won an apology from the local police chief and settled his lawsuit against the chief, attorneys for the gun owner said on Wednesday.

U.S. lawyers for Blackwater guards say 2007 Baghdad shooting was self defense

WASHINGTON - Blackwater security guards faced gunfire from multiple directions and acted in self defense when they shot into a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007, their lawyers told a jury on Wednesday in a case over the killing of 14 unarmed people during the Iraq war.

Parents of Texas quintuplets say two babies released from hospital

TEXARKANA Texas - Baby by baby, week by week, the parents of 3-month-old quintuplets are bringing their children out of a Dallas hospital, preparing for the day when the whole family will be home 160 miles away.

Teenager pleads guilty in April mob beating of Detroit motorist

- A Michigan teenager on Wednesday pleaded guilty to a reduced assault charge and agreed to testify against others in the severe beating of a motorist who struck a child accidentally in Detroit, the second teen to do so in the case this week.

NYC firefighters will respond to all gas leak reports

NEW YORK - New York City's fire department will now respond to all reports of leaking gas, according to a report released by the city on Wednesday, a move that comes three months after a gas explosion leveled two buildings in Harlem and killed eight people.

Charges dismissed against Tennessee student choked while handcuffed

- A judge on Wednesday dismissed charges against a Tennessee college student whose choking while handcuffed was captured in internationally circulated pictures and led to the dismissal of a sheriff's deputy.

Holdout creditors in Detroit bankruptcy question secret order

- A group of holdout creditors is asking the federal judge overseeing Detroit historic bankruptcy case to unseal an unusual secret mediation order made last week so that they can understand the terms of mediation.

Mother who documented son's illness charged with his murder

NEW YORK - A single mother in New York state who documented the medical struggles of her 5-year-old son on social media has been charged with murdering him by putting a toxic dose of sodium in his feeding tube.

U.S. says cable, fiber Internet speeds mostly as hyped; DSL lags

WASHINGTON - U.S. cable and fiber Internet providers generally deliver the download speeds they advertise, though not consistently, while DSL connections increasingly fail to meet promised speeds, the Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday.

Philadelphia prosecutor to tackle political corruption case

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia district attorney said on Wednesday his office is taking over a controversial political corruption case that the Pennsylvania attorney general declined to prosecute.

Lawyers for ex-NFL star Hernandez seek to have search tossed out

BOSTON - Attorneys for former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez argued in court on Wednesday that evidence seized from his home should not be allowed in his upcoming trial on charges of murdering an associate because police lacked cause to search the residence.

U.S. judge says Germany seeks Philadelphia man accused of being Nazi guard

PHILADELPHIA - Germany is seeking extradition of an 89-year-old Pennsylvania man in connection with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jewish men, women and children at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald Nazi concentration camps, a U.S. judge said on Wednesday.

South Carolina teen fights to wear makeup in his DMV license photo

- A national transgender advocacy group has asked South Carolina officials to retake the driver's license photo of a teenager who says his free speech rights were violated when he was not allowed to wear makeup for his original picture.

Scarfo organized crime case goes to jury in New Jersey

PHILADELPHIA - A federal jury in New Jersey on Wednesday began deliberating the fate of reputed mobster Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. in an alleged organized-crime takeover of a Texas-based mortgage company.

NY man on trial for rape accusations in stepdaughter's college essay

NEW YORK - A jury on Wednesday deliberated the fate of a New York man on trial for rape after his stepdaughter wrote in her college application essay about being sexually abused by him as a child.

Universal Orlando to open new Harry Potter ride in July

ORLANDO Fla. - The much-anticipated expansion of Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open on July 8, the theme park said on Wednesday ahead of a preview of the new attraction.

Racehorses teach New York inmates unexpected lessons 30 years on

WALLKILL N.Y. - When retired racehorses first arrived at Wallkill Correctional Facility, Jim Tremper expected to teach horsemanship skills to inmates who would be looking for jobs when they were freed.

Mother of U.S. aid contractor jailed in Cuba dies

HAVANA - The mother of a U.S. aid contractor jailed in Cuba died on Wednesday, adding to the despondency of a prisoner whose case has strained U.S.-Cuba relations and prompted him to vow not to complete another year of his 15-year term, his lawyer's office said.

Lawyers for accused Boston bomber to argue for moving trial

BOSTON - Attorneys for the accused Boston Marathon bomber were due in court on Wednesday to argue matters including an expected request to move the upcoming trial out of the city where a pair of homemade bombs killed three people and injured 264 others.

U.S. college student due in court over threatening Web comments: police

- A University of Washington student is due on Wednesday to appear in court where he could be charged with harassment and cyber-stalking, after posting online messages pledging to kill women and praising another college student who went on a killing spree in California in May, officials said.

Missouri inmate loses 11th-hour bid for stay of execution

- A man sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of two friends of his ex-girlfriend lost his bid for an 11th-hour reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court, clearing the way for the state to carry out his execution by lethal injection early on Wednesday.

U.S. Air Force installation in Los Angeles placed on lockdown

LOS ANGELES - A U.S. Air Force installation in Los Angeles was placed under a security lockdown for more than six hours on Tuesday afternoon as police investigated a report of a suspicious person at the base.

Georgia, Missouri executions mark first since Oklahoma bungle

- Two convicted murderers, one in Georgia and the other in Missouri, were put to death barely an hour apart in the first U.S. executions since a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma in April renewed a national debate over capital punishment.

New ridesharing legislation advances in California

SAN FRANCISCO - Bills that would make it more complicated and expensive for ridesharing companies to do business in California passed a state Senate committee on Tuesday, although stripped of one particularly onerous provision.

Hillary Clinton notes distance from Obama on Syria rebels

WASHINGTON - Potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pointed out her differences with President Barack Obama on Tuesday over his decision not to arm moderate Syrian rebels, as neighboring Iraq struggles to cope with extremist spillover from Syria.

Lawmakers push bill to end sex bias in medical studies

WASHINGTON - Biomedical research backed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health must use both male and female lab animals, tissues and cells under a bill introduced in Congress on Tuesday aimed at stamping out a bias toward males in studies not involving human subjects.

Georgia inmate could be first to die since botched Oklahoma execution

ATLANTA - A Georgia inmate is scheduled to die by injection on Tuesday in what would be the first in the United States since a botched execution in Oklahoma in April ignited renewed debate and scrutiny of the death penalty.

U.S. captures suspected ringleader of 2012 attack in Benghazi

WASHINGTON - The United States said on Tuesday it had captured a suspected ringleader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador and ignited a political firestorm in Washington.

Supreme Court refuses to stay execution of Georgia inmate

ATLANTA - The U.S. Supreme Court denied on Tuesday an 11th-hour request to block the execution of a Georgia inmate who was scheduled to be put to death Tuesday night in what would be the nation's first execution since a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma in April.

Arizona attorney general asks judge to disband police in border towns

SALT LAKE CITY - Arizona’s attorney general has asked a federal judge to disband the police department for twin Utah-Arizona border towns that are dominated by the polygamous church of jailed sect leader Warren Jeffs, according to court papers.

U.S. Air Force installation in Los Angeles placed on lockdown

LOS ANGELES - A U.S. Air Force installation in Los Angeles was placed under a security lockdown on Tuesday afternoon, a spokeswoman said, as police said they were investigating a report of a possible suspicious person at the base.

U.S. appeals court lifts stay of Missouri execution set for Wednesday

- A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday overturned a stay of execution for a Missouri murderer, clearing the way for the state to proceed with plans to lethally inject the inmate on Wednesday.

Thirteen bids to host Obama's presidential library

WASHINGTON - Thirteen bidders have applied to host Barack Obama's presidential library, the foundation overseeing the project said on Tuesday.

New England states joining forces to take on heroin crisis

WALTHAM Mass. - The governors of five New England states said on Tuesday they would begin to share data on prescriptions to cut down on "doctor shopping," with heroin addiction and overdose deaths on the rise as a result of prescription painkiller abuse.

Miffed U.S. judge withdraws from Michael Jordan lawsuit

- A veteran federal judge in Chicago has withdrawn from NBA legend Michael Jordan's lawsuit against a local supermarket chain over the use of his name and image in a magazine ad, but not without levying harsh criticism at the basketball Hall of Famer's lawyers for seeking his recusal.

Indiana woman found dead in freezer, roommate in custody

- The body of an elderly Indiana woman found inside a large freezer in her home must thaw out before investigators can determine how she died, but a 47-year-old man has been arrested and is suspected of killing her, police said on Tuesday.

Judge declares mistrial for N.Y. state senator accused of bribery

NEW YORK - A U.S. judge on Tuesday declared a mistrial in the case against a New York state senator accused of trying to buy his way onto the Republican ticket in the 2013 New York City mayoral race, lawyers in the case said.

New York man cleared of murder to sue city for $162 million

NEW YORK - A New York man imprisoned for nearly 25 years for a murder he did not commit filed preliminary paperwork on Tuesday for a $162 million lawsuit against the city seeking damages for his wrongful conviction, his lawyer said.

Ukrainian man sentenced to 30 years in prison for child porn

NEWARK N.J. - A Ukrainian man who pleaded guilty to starting and operating a hard-core child pornography website for three years was sentenced to 30 years in U.S. prison on Tuesday by a federal judge in New Jersey.

Residents of Nebraska town return after deadly tornado

PILGER Neb. - Residents who were forced to leave a small town in Nebraska leveled by a tornado that killed a child and injured more than two dozen people began returning on Tuesday to salvage belongings from their battered homes and businesses.

Phoenix police say homeless woman helped catch suspect in priest killing

- A homeless man charged with the murder of one priest and assault on another in Phoenix was apprehended after a homeless woman told police he had confessed to her before checking into an emergency psychiatric facility, police said on Tuesday.

Bergdahl provided with media coverage about his return: U.S. Army

SAN ANTONIO - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who spent five years as a Taliban prisoner of war before being released last month, was being informed of the media attention surrounding his return as he recovers at a military hospital, the Army said on Tuesday.

'Nightmares' plague circus performers injured in Rhode Island

BOSTON - Four circus performers, injured last month when an apparatus broke while suspending them 40 feet (12 meters) in the air by their hair, made their first public remarks since the accident on Tuesday with one saying she had nightmares of the fall.

First black, openly gay man confirmed as U.S. federal judge

MIAMI - The United States' first black, openly gay male judge was appointed to the federal bench on Tuesday in a unanimous confirmation decision by the U.S. Senate.

Groups file suit charging Alabama with inadequate prison medical care

- Two advocacy groups filed a lawsuit on Tuesday charging that a pattern of inadequate medical and mental healthcare in Alabama prisons has contributed to inmate deaths and amounts to discrimination against disabled prisoners.

Chicago bomb plot defendant denied secret files by appeals court

CHICAGO - A federal appeals court has overruled a landmark lower court decision that allowed lawyers for a man accused of plotting to bomb a Chicago bar to see documents classified under a major U.S. spying law.

Oregon takes steps toward lawsuit over defunct health exchange website

PORTLAND Ore. - Oregon is taking the next step toward a possible lawsuit against the company that developed the embattled Cover Oregon website as part of the implementation of the federal healthcare program known as Obamacare, state officials said on Tuesday.

Ex-Blackwater guards face jury over 2007 Baghdad shooting

WASHINGTON - Former security guards for Blackwater Worldwide shot first at a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007 and justified their actions later, federal prosecutors told a jury on Tuesday as the government began presenting its case over a shooting that resulted in the death of 14 unarmed Iraqis.

FBI, police arrest 50 in crackdown on Los Angeles gang

LOS ANGELES - FBI agents and police targeting a Los Angeles street gang made 50 arrests on Tuesday, as prosecutors filed an indictment accusing the gang's members of committing murders, robberies and drug crimes over a span of more than two decades, officials said.

Florida inmates accused in foiled shoot-and-sue scheme

TALLAHASSEE Fla. - Authorities in Florida charged two prison inmates on Tuesday with shooting themselves with a smuggled pistol in a foiled scheme to sue the state for their injuries in hopes of reducing their sentences.

Oklahoma teen to testify for state in case of slain Australian

OKLAHOMA CITY - Prosecutors in Oklahoma filed a motion on Tuesday to dismiss a first-degree murder charge against an Oklahoma teenager who has agreed to testify for the state against two of his friends accused of fatally shooting an Australian athlete a year ago.

U.S. captures suspected ringleader of 2012 attack in Benghazi

WASHINGTON - The United States has captured one of the suspected ringleaders of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

New York man arrested after hijacking empty city bus

NEW YORK - A Staten Island man commandeered an empty New York City bus and managed to drive it nearly two miles before being stopped and arrested near his home, authorities said on Tuesday.

Pilot killed as small plane crashes in yard of N.Y. home

NEW YORK - A small plane crashed in the yard of a home on New York's Long Island on Tuesday morning killing the pilot and scattering shards of glass across a room where a baby was sleeping in its crib, authorities said.

Boston transit toughens staff cellphone policy after crash

BOSTON - Boston's public bus drivers and train conductors can now be fired for simply bringing a cell phone to work, according to a new policy that transit officials say is the toughest of its kind in the nation.

U.S. captures suspected ringleader of 2012 attack in Benghazi

WASHINGTON - The United States said on Tuesday it had captured a suspected ringleader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, a raid that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador and ignited a political firestorm in Washington.

Mother, two children found dead in car outside Maryland school

- A mother and her two young children were found dead in a car parked outside a Hagerstown, Maryland, middle school, police said.

Mummified corpse found hanging in abandoned Ohio home

- A curious Ohio boy who sneaked into an abandoned house over the weekend discovered a mummified corpse hanging inside a closet, unnoticed for nearly five years, officials said on Tuesday.

Suspected NYC drug dealer escapes custody, hits cop with car

NEW YORK - New York City police were searching on Tuesday for a suspected drug dealer who hit a detective with the officer's car while escaping custody, police said.

Georgia inmate could be first to die since botched Oklahoma execution

ATLANTA - A Georgia inmate is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Tuesday, in what would be the first in the United States since a botched execution in Oklahoma in April ignited renewed debate and scrutiny of the death penalty.

Seattle interstate shut after police shoot freeway spray-painter

SEATTLE - Police shut southbound Interstate 5 in Seattle for hours on Monday after shooting a driver who had stopped to begin spray-painting the roadway and then brandished a knife when confronted, officials said.

New Mexico wildfire rages through Native American reservation

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. - A wind-whipped wildfire on the Navajo Reservation in northwest New Mexico raged for a fourth day on Monday, forcing the evacuation of sheep-herding residents in the Chuska mountains, officials said, but no injuries were reported.

Alabama court overturns anti-sodomy law

- An Alabama appeals court has thrown out a law prohibiting consensual homosexual intercourse, declaring it to be unconstitutional.

Seattle mayor wants to scrap driver limits on ridesharing services

SEATTLE - Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Monday proposed the city remove its cap on the number of ridesharing company drivers and make concessions to traditional taxi and car hire companies, in a bid to appease warring factions hungry for fares.

Miami exiles pressure U.S. to loosen policy on Cuba

MIAMI - Cuban exile Joe Arriola at one time would never have dreamed of returning to his homeland while it was under communist rule.

Temporary reprieve for Mormon activist facing disciplinary hearing

SALT LAKE CITY - A prominent Mormon activist threatened with disciplinary action and possible excommunication for questioning church doctrine said on Monday he had received a temporary reprieve and that it seems church leaders want to "de-escalate" the dispute.

Tornadoes sweep through northeastern Nebraska

- Two large tornadoes swept farming areas of northeastern Nebraska on Monday, causing severe damage to at least one town and some injuries, according to officials and media reports.

Tornado kills one, injures 16 in Nebraska town: sheriff

- One person was confirmed dead and 16 injured from a tornado that struck the northeastern Nebraska town of Pilger on Monday, Stanton County Sheriff Michael Unger said.

San Francisco to propose tax breaks for urban farms

SACRAMENTO Calif. - San Francisco would be the first city in California to offer property owners a tax break if they agree to make empty lots available for urban agriculture, under an ordinance to be introduced at the city's Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Man jailed longest without trial in Philadelphia sent to nursing home

PHILADELPHIA - A man thought to be the longest-held prisoner in Philadelphia jails without trial was moved to a nursing home on Monday after spending seven years behind bars despite a ruling that he was not fit to stand trial.

Tornadoes hit northeastern Nebraska, property damage reported

- Large tornadoes hit rural areas of northeastern Nebraska on Monday afternoon, with reports of property damage, according to forecasters and the Weather Channel.

Most guns seized in 8 U.S. cities are pistols, not assault rifles: study

- Most of the guns seized from gang members, felons and drug traffickers in eight U.S. cities over a decade were handguns, not the automatic assault rifles often depicted in Hollywood crime stories, according to a study published on Monday.

Houston police arrest woman for hit-and-run that killed three

HOUSTON - A 23-year-old woman has been charged with four counts of failure to stop and render aid for causing a weekend traffic accident in Houston that killed three people, believed to be teenage siblings, police said on Monday.

Supreme Court rules against 'straw buyer' in gun case

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court handed a victory to gun control advocates on Monday by upholding the conviction of a former police officer from Virginia who lied when he stated he was buying a handgun for himself when it actually was for a relative.

New York woman's body mistakenly donated for scientific research

NEW YORK - The body of a recently deceased New York woman was mistakenly released from a city morgue and donated for medical student research, city officials and a family attorney said on Monday.

U.S. judge releases Chicago from federal hiring oversight

CHICAGO - A federal judge on Monday released Chicago from federal oversight of its hiring practices after finding it in "substantial compliance" with a decades-old decree to prevent illegal patronage.

Regional U.S. accord signed to protect struggling Chesapeake Bay

ANNAPOLIS Md. - An agreement to restore the struggling Chesapeake Bay by protecting its vast drainage area was signed on Monday by officials that included governors from six U.S. states.

California wildfire threatens 1,000 more homes near Sequoia National Park

LOS ANGELES - A California wildfire that has already destroyed three structures and blackened some three square miles of forest land near Sequoia National Park was threatening 1,000 more homes on Monday, officials said.

FAA to investigate air traffic controller's 'kidding' comment

ATLANTA - The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an air traffic controller's joking remark that caused a Delta jet to abort a landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Police arrest suspect in deadly Phoenix church assault

- Phoenix police have arrested a man convicted of a violent burglary in the murder of a 29-year-old priest who was killed and his pastor badly injured during a break-in at a Catholic church last week, authorities said on Monday.

Massachusetts tops in economic evolution: Innovation Foundation index

WASHINGTON - For 15 years, Massachusetts has been the most economically evolved U.S. state, according to an index released on Monday by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

New Mexico parents arrested after toddler ingests methamphetamine

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. - Police arrested a couple in New Mexico on suspicion of child abuse after their 22-month-old daughter was found to have methamphetamine in her system, authorities said on Monday.

Three children injured after parade cannon malfunctions in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY - Three children were injured at a parade in Utah when a spark from a cannon being used by a Civil War re-enactment group caused a bag of black gunpowder to explode, police said on Monday.

Former Yale employee charged with collecting kickbacks

BOSTON - A former employee of Yale University has been charged with collecting tens of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from companies that did business with the Ivy League school, prosecutors said on Monday.

Obama's oldest daughter Malia works on TV set for a day: report

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's oldest daughter, Malia, was spotted working as a production assistant for a day on the set of a CBS television program starring Academy Award winning actress Halle Berry, according to the entertainment web site TheWrap.

U.S. Army begins probe into former POW Bergdahl's disappearance

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military said on Monday it had begun an investigation into the 2009 disappearance in Afghanistan of Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier freed last month after five years in Taliban captivity.

Missing Potomac kayaker who triggered search turns up safe at home

- A kayaker who had been presumed missing on the Potomac River turned up safe at home after triggering a lengthy search by boats, a helicopter and scores of rescuers, Maryland police said.

Former Washington Mayor Barry, once busted for crack, out with memoir

WASHINGTON - Former Washington Mayor Marion Barry, whose conviction for cocaine possession overshadowed his legacy as a civil rights crusader, is out with an autobiography that aims to tell his story.

Support for Massachusetts health law unscathed by website woes: poll

BOSTON - Public support for Massachusetts’ 2006 healthcare law has remained above 60 percent despite a rocky rollout of the state’s new health insurance website, according to a poll from The Boston Globe and The Harvard School of Public Health.

U.S. top court to hear appeal of conviction for online threats

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether a man convicted of making threatening statements to his estranged wife and others on social media should have avoided prosecution.

Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn dies at 54: Major League Baseball

- Former professional baseball player and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died at the age of 54, Major League Baseball said on Monday.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects appeal over school graduation in church

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that a Wisconsin school district could not hold graduation ceremonies in a church auditorium because of concerns about the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on government endorsement of religion.

JPMorgan sued by Miami over alleged mortgage discrimination

NEW YORK - JPMorgan Chase & Co has been sued by the city of Miami, accusing the bank of predatory mortgage lending in minority neighborhoods that allegedly caused a wave of foreclosures during the last decade's housing crisis.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear mortgage loan officers' pay case

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to weigh a dispute over whether mortgage loan officers are exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay regulations.

Ex-NFL star Hernandez due in court on charges of prison assault

BOSTON - Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who has been charged with murdering three men in two incidents in 2012 and 2013, is due back in court on Monday to face charges of assaulting a fellow inmate while in jail.

Guantanamo hearing to weigh accusations of FBI spying

WASHINGTON - A U.S. war crimes tribunal will hear arguments on Monday over a suspected FBI investigation that may have created a conflict of interest for lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay inmates accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

After oil, natural gas may be next on North American rails

NEW YORK - As politicians debate the dangers of a massive increase in oil carried by rail in North America, railroads and energy producers are considering the same for natural gas.

Six dead as fire rips through New Jersey home

NEW YORK - Fire ripped through a home in Newark, New Jersey, on Sunday killing six members of a family, officials said.

Biden to meet Central America leaders about child migrant wave

RANCHO MIRAGE Calif. - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will go to Guatemala on Friday to meet Central American leaders about the influx of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the United States, senior administration officials said on Sunday.

'Deep Throat' garage from U.S. Watergate scandal to be razed

WASHINGTON - One of the most historic U.S. journalism sites will vanish after a Virginia county board voted to demolish the building and parking garage central to the Watergate political scandal of the 1970s.

U.S. military appoints general to probe Bergdahl disappearance

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military has appointed a two-star general to investigate the circumstances under which Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier recently freed after five years in Taliban captivity, disappeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2009, a U.S. official said on Sunday.

California man run over by drunk daughter: police

- A California man who tried to prevent his adult daughter from driving drunk was struck by her car and killed, police said Sunday.

Connecticut hoarder killed by floor collapse: police

BOSTON - A 66-year-old Connecticut woman was found dead in the basement of her home after the first floor collapsed under the weight of a waist-deep pile of newspapers, bottles and other household detritus, local police said on Sunday.

California wildfire prompts hundreds of home evacuations

- Hundreds of firefighters on Sunday were battling a wildfire in southern California that prompted the evacuation of about 500 homes, local officials said.

Six dead as fire rips through New Jersey home

NEW YORK - Fire ripped through a home in Newark, New Jersey, on Sunday killing six people, officials said.

Summer concerts amp up drug screening after 'Molly' deaths

NEW YORK - Sniffer dogs, pat-downs and other drug screening measures await concertgoers during this summer music festival season in the wake of 2013 concert deaths linked to the club drug Molly.

JetBlue apologizes after girl, denied toilet, urinates in plane seat

- JetBlue Airways on Saturday apologized to a mother who said her child had to urinate in her airplane seat because a flight attendant would not let her use the restroom while the plane sat on the tarmac at a New York airport.

Body identified as young mother missing on New York's Long Island

NEW YORK - A woman's body found in a wooded area of New York's Long Island was identified on Saturday as that of a young mother who was reported missing a week ago, police said.

President Obama intervenes to end Philadelphia transit strike

PHILADELPHIA - President Barack Obama on Saturday intervened to end a transit strike in the greater Philadelphia area, establishing an emergency board to force the two sides to negotiate.

Houston police searching for hit-and-run driver who killed three

HOUSTON - Police said they are looking for a hit-and-run driver who early on Saturday struck a car in Houston, killing three of its occupants, reported to be teenagers by local media.

New York airport worker injured by fire in Delta plane engine

NEW YORK - A fire that broke out in the engine of a Delta Air Lines plane that had just landed at New York City's LaGuardia Airport left one airport worker injured on Friday evening, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Oregon high school shooter's parents "horrified and distraught", offer apology

PORTLAND Ore. - The parents of a teenage Oregon gunman accused of opening fire this week at his high school, killing a classmate before taking his own life, said they were "horrified and distraught" by their son's actions in their first public apology.

California sophomore arrested over school shooting threats

LOS ANGELES - Police in California arrested a 15-year-old student for threatening to kill a classmate, shoot up their high school and then take his own life, authorities said on Friday.

Gay marriage on hold in Wisconsin pending appeal

MADISON Wis. - A federal judge on Friday put same-sex marriages in Wisconsin on hold pending appeals of her ruling one week ago that the state's ban on gay nuptials is unconstitutional.

New Florida law bans e-cigarette sales to minors

TALLAHASSEE Fla. - People under age 18 in Florida will be banned from buying electronic cigarettes under a bill that Republican Governor Rick Scott signed into law on Friday.

Settlement reached over Detroit bonds - court mediators

- A settlement has been reached in Detroit's historic bankruptcy case over the treatment of unsecured limited-tax general obligation bonds, U.S. Bankruptcy Court mediators announced on Friday.

Ex-chief judge on U.S. patent court to retire after ethics issue

- The ex-chief judge of the top U.S. patent court will retire at the end of June, after acknowledging that an email he sent raised questions about his judicial ethics because it praised an attorney who appears before the court.

Montana man arrested for DUI after trying to bail out wife for same offense

- A Montana man whose wife was jailed on suspicion of driving under the influence was arrested for the exact same offense after going to the jail drunk to bail her out, a local newspaper reported on Friday.

California PR consultant indicted on firearms charges

Los ANGELES - A social media consultant who was arrested after FBI agents found bomb-making materials and lethal toxins during a raid of his San Francisco apartment has been indicted on federal charges, prosecutors said on Friday.

Florida attorney general mulls next step after death penalty ruling

TALLAHASSEE Fla. - The Florida attorney general was considering the state's next move on Friday after the state Supreme Court ruled a man sentenced to die for a 25-year-old murder should be taken off death row.

New Florida law bans e-cigarette sales to minors

TALLAHASSEE Fla. - People under age 18 in Florida will be banned from buying electronic cigarettes under a bill that Republican Governor Rick Scott signed into law on Friday.

Owner of Triple Crown-contending racehorse loses tax case versus IRS

WASHINGTON - A California businessman and prominent figure in horse racing on Friday lost a multimillion-dollar tax-shelter dispute in an appeals court decision favoring the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Philadelphia-area transit, unions negotiate as strike threat looms

PHILADELPHIA - Negotiations between the Philadelphia-area transit authority and two unions continued on Friday as the region braced for a potentially crippling transit strike ahead of a looming deadline.

Bergdahl in stable condition at Army medical center

SAN ANTONIO - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who spent five years as a Taliban prisoner of war before being released on May 31, was in stable condition at a military hospital in Texas and has not yet met with his parents, military officials said on Friday.

BP oil spill investor lawsuit in U.S. gets May 2015 trial date

- A U.S. judge set a May 2015 trial date on Friday for BP Plc to face claims in a lawsuit accusing the company of misleading investors about the severity of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

New York City teacher convicted of raping 10-year-old student

NEW YORK - A former fifth grade teacher in a New York City public school in the Bronx pleaded guilty on Friday of raping one of his 10-year-old pupils last June, prosecutors said.

Christie's rival seeks more than $40 mln in corporate raid suit

ALBANY N.Y. - Christie's Inc is being sued for more than $40 million by a rival that says the famed auction house poached employees from its highly successful luxury goods division after allegedly struggling to create a version of its own.

Owner of Triple Crown-contending racehorse loses tax case vs IRS

WASHINGTON - A California businessman and prominent figure in horse racing on Friday lost a multimillion-dollar tax-shelter dispute in an appeals court decision favoring the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Pentagon says mulling options to replace Russian rocket motors

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Defense Department wants to end its dependency on Russian engines to power rockets that launch national security satellites, but is still exploring possible options, a top Pentagon official said on Friday.

Iowa Supreme Court overturns conviction in HIV case

- The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday set aside the conviction of a man who pleaded guilty to criminal transmission of HIV but later argued that he got insufficient legal advice in making the plea.

U.S. Army says Bergdahl condition stable, has not met parents

SAN ANTONIO Texas - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who spent five years as a Taliban prisoner of war before being released on May 31, was in stable condition at a military hospital in Texas and has not yet met his parents, military officials said on Friday.

PF Chang's swipes cards manually in U.S. after breach

- P.F. Chang's China Bistro said it has begun manually swiping payment cards at all U.S. restaurants in the wake of a data breach to ensure that transactions are secure as investigators figure out how attackers accessed its systems.

California bill makes egregious misconduct fireable offense for teachers

SACRAMENTO Calif. - Days after a Los Angeles judge ruled unconstitutional five California laws granting tenure and other job protections for public school teachers, lawmakers passed a measure adding "egregious misconduct" to the list of fireable offenses.

Police gun down bull on the loose in downtown Baltimore

- An escaped bull led Baltimore police on a 45-minute chase through downtown on Friday before officers gunned it down, police said.

Jailed Chicago man freed by DNA evidence faces new murder charge

CHICAGO - A Chicago man who served almost 32 years in prison for murder and rape before being exonerated by DNA evidence has been charged with murder in another case, officials said on Friday.

KFC investigating claim that disfigured girl was asked to leave restaurant

- The KFC restaurant chain said it was looking into complaints that the family of a Mississippi girl recovering from a pit bull attack was asked to leave a restaurant because her appearance frightened other customers.

Lethal drugs leaked in botched Oklahoma execution: report

- Oklahoma failed to properly insert an intravenous line to deliver lethal drugs to an inmate during a botched execution in April, bypassing strong veins in his arms and using a riskier entry point in the groin area, according to a preliminary autopsy released on Friday by the inmate's lawyers.

Massachusetts gives green light to MGM's casino plan

BOSTON - Massachusetts will award Las Vegas developer MGM Resorts International the state's first license to operate a gambling casino, pending a challenge by anti-gambling activists, officials said on Friday.

U.S. arrests 163 for smuggling of immigrants on Mexican border

WASHINGTON - U.S. immigration agents have arrested 163 suspected smugglers of aliens on the Mexican border, authorities said on Friday, as the United States grapples with a flood of children crossing the border.

Man arrested in 25-year-old rape, murder of California woman

- More than 25 years after a woman was found sexually assaulted and slain in a ravine in Northern California, authorities have arrested a man in her murder.

Fund for Boston bomb victims prepares final payout

BOSTON - A fund that has distributed more than $60 million to the victims of last year's Boston Marathon bombing said on Friday it is preparing its final round of payments.

Pot-smoking driver crashes into CNN headquarters: police

ATLANTA - A driver who told police he had smoked marijuana crashed his car into CNN headquarters in Atlanta early on Friday, causing damage but no injuries, police said.

Virginia lawmakers pass budget, nix Medicaid expansion

- Virginia's Republican-controlled legislature passed a two-year budget late on Thursday that shot down the Democratic governor's proposal to expand Medicaid and closed a $1.55 billion revenue shortfall.

Strong storms, possible tornadoes Saturday in U.S. plains states

- Damaging storms with high winds, heavy rain, large hail and isolated tornadoes are forecast for some central U.S states on Saturday, the National Weather Service said on Friday.

Crews set fire to luxury Texas lake house perched on cliff: video

AUSTIN Texas - Crews set fire to a luxury Texas lake house on Friday left dangling about 75 feet (23 meters) on a decaying cliff that has been giving way underneath the structure, live video showed.

Georgia won't enforce law on food stamp drug testing

ATLANTA - Georgia will not drug test food stamp recipients under a controversial new law that both federal and state officials concluded was illegal, the governor's office said on Friday.

LinkedIn must face customer lawsuit over email addresses

- A federal judge said LinkedIn Corp must face a lawsuit by customers who claimed it violated their privacy by accessing their external email accounts, downloading their contacts' email addresses and soliciting business from those contacts.

Small plane with one on board crashes north of New York City

NEW YORK - A small plane carrying only the pilot crashed on Friday shortly after taking off from an airport just north of New York City, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Federal judge could give green light to gay marriage in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE - A federal judge will hold a hearing on Friday when she could give the green light to gay marriage in Wisconsin a week after she declared state's ban unconstitutional.

Bergdahl arrives in Texas: Pentagon

WASHINGTON - Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who spent five years as a Taliban prisoner of war before being released on May 31, has arrived at an Army medical center in Texas where he will receive further treatment, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Jamaica to decriminalize personal marijuana possession

KINGSTON - The Jamaican government has decided to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, joining the trickle of countries moving to soften laws on the drug known on the Caribbean island as "ganja."

Woman charged with throwing shoe at Clinton in Nevada to undergo competency evaluation

NEW YORK - A federal judge in Nevada has ordered a competency evaluation for a woman charged with throwing a shoe at former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during an April speaking appearance in Las Vegas, according to court papers released on Thursday.

Nextdoor CEO pleads no contest to hit and run charge

SAN FRANCISCO - Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia, whose social networking website espouses neighborhood safety and community, pleaded no contest Thursday in a San Mateo court to a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of a highway accident that a driver says Tolia caused.

Grief, resolve marks Oregon high school graduation ceremony after fatal shooting

PORTLAND Ore. - Two days after a teenaged gunman shot dead a classmate and took his own life, a Oregon high school held a graduation ceremony marked by grief, bewilderment and vows to move forward.

Ban on rope swinging from Utah arch rock formations considered

SALT LAKE CITY - Federal officials in Utah are deciding whether to outlaw the increasingly popular daredevil pastime of swinging on ropes dangled from towering sandstone arches and cliffs after one man died and another was badly hurt in the activity.

Texas man sues doctors for removing wrong kidney

DALLAS - A Texas man has filed a lawsuit seeking more than $1 million in damages from two doctors he said were responsible for removing his healthy kidney and leaving a cancerous one in his body.

Second German tourist dies during Grand Canyon holiday

PHOENIX - A German tourist was killed when his kayak capsized on the Colorado River in Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park, authorities said on Thursday, the second German visitor to die in the park this week.

Florida Supreme Court rules against red light cameras in two cities

TALLAHASSEE Fla. - Florida drivers caught on camera running red lights before 2010 could qualify for refunds on their tickets under a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday.

Serial bank robber's 45-year sentence too harsh: appeals court

- A 45-year prison sentence leveled against a serial bank robber, who once appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show as a "bank robbing pimp," was too harsh and must be reconsidered, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.

Alabama Republicans say voter fraud found after offering reward

- Alabama Republicans, who offered a $1,000 reward for substantiated reports of voter fraud in this month's primary elections, said on Thursday they plan to forward credible evidence of wrongdoing to state prosecutors.

Sears worker in upstate New York dies after shelves collapse

- A Sears employee in northern New York has died of injuries suffered when storage racks at the store collapsed and pinned him underneath, authorities said.

Lawsuit seeks details of standoff at Nevada ranch

SALT LAKE CITY - An advocacy group for public employees sued the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday, seeking documents detailing the agency’s actions during an armed standoff with militia in a dispute over a Nevada rancher’s grazing rights.

Accused Spanish drug lord convicted in Miami for drug money laundering

MIAMI - The head of a transatlantic cocaine smuggling ring dubbed “Los Miami” has been convicted of laundering more than $26 million in the United States through multimillion-dollar waterfront condos and exotic sports cars.

U.S. food makers sue to stop Vermont's GMO labeling law

- Several industry groups representing U.S. food makers on Thursday asked a federal judge in Vermont to block that state's new law that will require labels on food products made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Court ruling allows Occupy protesters to restore tent city in Idaho

SALMON Idaho - The Occupy movement, which withered after clampdowns on protest encampments in U.S. cities, may now legally erect a tent city in Idaho after a federal court order barred the state from enforcing a ban, citing free speech rights, an attorney for protesters said on Thursday.

NORAD scrambled fighters after Russian bombers seen off California coast

LOS ANGELES - Two Russian long-range bombers were spotted just 50 miles off the California coast earlier this week and air defense officials scrambled a pair of F-22 fighter jets to make visual identification, a NORAD spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Woman charged with throwing shoe at Clinton in Nevada to undergo competency evaluation

NEW YORK - A federal judge in Nevada has ordered a competency evaluation for a woman charged with throwing a shoe at former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during an April speaking appearance in Las Vegas, according to court papers released on Thursday.

Oregon high school marks graduation after fatal shooting

PORTLAND Ore. - The academic year drew to an abrupt, somber end at the Oregon high school where a teenage gunman shot a classmate to death and took his own life, with final exams canceled and a special moment of silence planned for graduation ceremonies on Thursday.

Chocolate Co sues Maryland lawmaker Hershey over campaign signs

ANNAPOLIS Md. - The Hershey Company is not sweet on the idea of Maryland lawmaker Stephen Hershey Jr's campaign signs looking a lot like the chocolate maker's own brown-and-white design.

Wisconsin's clerks warned against issuing same-sex marriage licenses

MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin county clerks who issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples over the past week could face charges for breaking the state's marriage laws, the state's attorney general said on Thursday.

Texas military hospital to treat Bergdahl has long history with POWs

SAN ANTONIO - The sprawling San Antonio Military Medical Center where freed prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl will soon make his return to the United States is no stranger to healing the mental wounds of those who have gone through traumatic experiences abroad.

Florida accountant accused of running sex slave business

ORLANDO Fla. - A Florida certified public accountant has been charged with human trafficking after being accused of keeping three women as sex slaves in Gainesville.

Louisiana governor to sign into law new restrictions on abortions

NEW ORLEANS - Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will sign new restrictions on abortion clinics into law on Thursday, his office said, a measure critics have said will force three of the state's five clinics to close.

Bachelor party finds rare mastodon fossil in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE - A group of men attending a bachelor party stumbled across a rare fossil of a mastodon skull, complete with its tusks, in sand at a lakeshore in a New Mexico state park, a museum spokesman said on Thursday.

Detroit man held in woman's killing, search goes on for children

- A Detroit man is in custody in Georgia on suspicion that he killed the mother of his child and investigators are questioning him in the hope that he can help them find her two missing children, Detroit police said on Thursday.

Judge stays execution in Missouri pending meddling probe

KANSAS CITY Mo. - A federal judge on Thursday ordered a stay of execution for a Missouri double murderer next week because of allegations that prison staff may have interfered with an employee who wanted to help get clemency for the death row inmate.

New Jersey man arrested in attack on fellow nursing home resident

NEW YORK - A 73-year-old resident of a suburban New Jersey nursing home was arrested on Thursday for an alleged assault on a fellow resident nearly 20 years older, police said.

Bergdahl expected back in U.S. on Friday: official

WASHINGTON - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held five years as a Taliban prisoner of war before being released on May 31, will return to the United States on Friday after receiving care at a military hospital in Germany, a senior defense official said on Thursday.

Climber rescued after 1,500-feet fall on Colorado's El Diente

DENVER - A climber who broke his leg after falling more than 1,500 feet on one of Colorado's steepest peaks was safe after what local authorities said was their first helicopter rescue using night-vision equipment.

Broad support in NYC for higher minimum wage, poll shows

NEW YORK - New Yorkers strongly back hiking the minimum wage, a poll showed on Thursday, while their support for the police department hit new lows under a mayor seeking to improve community relations.

Size of income tax drop surprises U.S. states: study

WASHINGTON - Most U.S. states were surprised by the size of the drop in their personal income tax collections this April, even though they had expected a decline, according to a report released by the Rockefeller Institute of Government on Thursday.

U.S. teenagers smoke less, but texting while driving a concern: CDC

ATLANTA - Fewer U.S. teenagers are smoking cigarettes, fighting or having sex, but texting while driving is prevalent among high school students, according to a survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.

NFL's Kaepernick cleared by police in Miami incident with woman

MIAMI - Miami police have closed an investigation into a hotel incident involving San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and a woman who told police that she might have been sexually assaulted after drinks with several football players.

Colorado pot edibles maker says Hershey lawsuit a big surprise

DENVER - A Colorado maker of marijuana edibles says it was surprised to be sued by Hershey Co, which accused it of ripping off the design of the company's iconic chocolates and candies, because it changed its packaging six months ago.

Securing materials in U.S. that could be used in 'dirty bomb' seen a challenge

WASHINGTON - The United States faces "challenges" in trying to secure radiological equipment used in a range of industries that could become part of a "dirty bomb" used in an attack, the Government Accountability Office reported on Thursday.

California man freed by jury mistake is found dead

- A California man, who released from a Fresno jail after a divided jury mistakenly returned a not-guilty verdict against him in a burglary case, was found dead on Thursday from an apparent stabbing, just a day after he was freed.

Missouri firm recalls over 4,000 pounds of beef over mad cow concerns

- A Missouri slaughter house recalled 4,012 pounds (1,800 kg) of fresh beef over concerns that nervous tissue that could contain the "mad cow" disease pathogen may not have been properly removed from the meat before shipment, a federal food safety agency said.

Maine man, 77, pleads insanity in 2012 double murder over snow shoveling

PORTLAND Maine - (This June 11 story was corrected in 11th paragraph to say it was a woman, not a man, who starved a 5-year-old in 1995 case)

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush plans 90th birthday skydive

BOWDOINHAM Maine - Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush plans to mark his 90th birthday with a skydive in Kennebunkport, Maine, on Thursday with a group of U.S. Army veterans.

Texas Governor Perry compares homosexuality to alcoholism

- Texas Governor Rick Perry, seen as a potential Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 election, compared homosexuality to alcoholism in remarks in San Francisco.

Texas Governor Perry compares homosexuality to alcoholism

- Texas Governor Rick Perry, seen as a potential Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 election, compared homosexuality to alcoholism in remarks in San Francisco.

U.S. political polarization increasing, poll shows

WASHINGTON - Americans are more divided along political lines than at any time in two decades, with about one in five defining themselves as consistently liberal or conservative, a poll showed on Thursday.

Accused Spanish drug lord convicted in Miami for drug money laundering

MIAMI - The head of a transatlantic cocaine smuggling ring dubbed “Los Miami” was convicted of laundering more than $26 million in the United States through multimillion-dollar waterfront condos and exotic sports cars.

Four killed, one injured in Chicago car crash, police say

CHICAGO - Four people were killed and one person seriously injured when their car hit a wall behind a store on Chicago's northwest side early on Thursday, police said.

Trial will decide which Sterling controls LA Clippers

LOS ANGELES - Shelly Sterling on Wednesday was granted a trial next month in Los Angeles to resolve a dispute with her estranged husband Donald Sterling over who controls the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, leaving its $2 billion sale up in the air.

Priest killed, another injured, in Phoenix church burglary: police

- One priest was shot dead and another injured during what police described as a burglary at a Catholic church in Phoenix, Arizona, on Wednesday evening, police said.

Arizona woman has nearly 50-pound tumor removed from abdomen

TUCSON Ariz. - An Arizona woman was recovering at home on Wednesday after having a 47.5-pound (21.5 kg) tumor removed from her abdomen during life-saving surgery, doctors said.

San Francisco ruled out of hosting next America's Cup

- San Francisco has been ruled out as host for the next America's Cup in 2017, according to a statement on the official regatta website.

Brain-dead California teen to get school diploma: family

- A California girl who was declared brain-dead after a tonsillectomy in December will receive an honorary diploma during her school's eighth grade graduation, her family said on Wednesday.

Man charged with calling in false Lincoln Tunnel sniper threat

NEW YORK - A man has been charged with making a false threat to police about a sniper in the area of the Lincoln Tunnel, a heavily traveled span connecting New Jersey and Manhattan, authorities said on Wednesday.

FBI to use dogs to search for missing Alaska family

JUNEAU Alaska - The FBI will send a canine team to track an Alaska couple and their two small children who went missing nearly two weeks ago, police said on Wednesday.

California 10-year-old boy receives high school diploma

- A 10-year-old home-schooled California boy with presidential ambitions, who at age 4 became one of the youngest Americans admitted to the high-IQ society Mensa, has received his high school diploma, his mother said on Wednesday.

Las Vegas gunman had been interviewed over possible threat, authorities say

LAS VEGAS - A gunman who teamed up with his wife to kill two Las Vegas police officers and an armed bystander in a weekend attack had earlier made comments to a motor vehicles office that were interpreted as a threat, but he was not arrested in that case, police said on Wednesday.

Police arrest Utah man after six-year-old son chained to bed

SALT LAKE CITY - Police have arrested a man in northern Utah on suspicion of child abuse after officers found his 6-year-old son chained by the ankle to a bed frame and alone at home.

California officials debate whether to defend teacher protections

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California officials were wrangling on Wednesday over whether to appeal a court ruling that overturned some job protections for public school teachers and could change the way educators are hired and fired in the most populous U.S. state.

Teen gunman in Oregon school shooting got weapons from home

TROUTDALE Ore. - The teenage gunman who killed a classmate at an Oregon high school on Tuesday was armed with a military-style rifle and a semiautomatic pistol obtained from his home and lacked any known connection to his victim, police said on Wednesday.

Two prominent Mormon activists threatened with excommunication

SALT LAKE CITY - A pair of Mormon activists who have pushed for greater acceptance of gay church members and the ordination of women are facing disciplinary action and possible excommunication by their faith leaders.

Pennsylvania school stabbing suspect enters not guilty plea

PITTSBURGH - A 16-year-old boy accused of stabbing 21 people at a Pittsburgh-area high school in April pleaded not guilty Wednesday to all charges, his lawyer said.

Former astronaut, senator John Glenn doing well after surgery

- Former astronaut and Senator John Glenn is resting comfortably at home in Columbus, Ohio, after undergoing heart valve surgery, a spokesman for Ohio State University said on Wednesday.

Man charged with calling in false Lincoln Tunnel sniper threat

NEW YORK - A man has been charged with making a false threat to police about a sniper in the area of the Lincoln Tunnel, a heavily traveled span connecting New Jersey and Manhattan, authorities said on Wednesday.

California 10-year-old boy with high IQ graduates high school

- A 10-year-old home-schooled California boy with presidential ambitions, who at age 4 became one of the youngest Americans admitted to high IQ society Mensa, has graduated from high school, his mother said on Wednesday.

Appeals court limits police use of cell phone location data

MIAMI - A U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday that cell phone tower tracking data used to convict a Miami man for a string of arm robberies that resulted in a 162-year prison sentence violated his constitutional right of privacy.

Colorado judge denies bid to close jury selection in theater massacre case

DENVER - Jury selection in the murder trial of the man accused of killing 12 moviegoers at a Colorado cinema in 2012 will be open to the public, the judge overseeing the case ruled on Wednesday.

Maine man, 77, pleads insanity in 2012 double murder over snow shoveling

PORTLAND Maine - A 75-year-old man who police say shot and killed two teenagers in Maine after a dispute over shoveling snow in a parking lot will plead not guilty by reason of insanity, according to the state attorney general's office.

New psych ward to open on California's death row : report

SACRAMENTO Calif. - Under pressure to improve mental health treatment for inmates in California's massive prison system, officials plan to build a new psychiatric ward to provide inpatient mental health care for prisoners on death row, according to a court-ordered report.

Trade group, franchisees sue to block Seattle minimum wage hike

- A trade group sued the city of Seattle on Wednesday, seeking to block a sharp hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next seven years on the grounds that it unfairly favors small businesses over larger employers and franchises.

Sale of Philadelphia newspapers caps off wrangling, legal fights

PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia's two biggest newspapers were formally sold on Wednesday to a former cable television executive, capping months of power struggles and legal battles complicated by the recent death of one of the owners in an airplane crash.

Embalming fluid tanker crash prompts Virginia evacuation

- A crash involving a tank truck carrying 8,000 gallons of embalming fluid forced the evacuation of almost 20 homes in southwest Virginia on Wednesday, authorities said.

Reward offered in search for Wall Street Journal reporter

- The family of a Wall Street Journal reporter who disappeared five months ago while taking a walk near his New Jersey home is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his return, a family spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Florida mother’s forgiveness spares daughter’s killer from prison

MIAMI - In a powerful act of forgiveness, the mother of a girl who died after being shot on a school bus hugged the teen shooter after a plea deal was agreed that he would become an advocate against gun violence rather than be sent to prison.

German tourist dies while camping at Grand Canyon

PHOENIX - A vacationing German tourist lost consciousness and died while camping with his wife in Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park, park officials said on Wednesday.

Immigration groups allege abuse of children by U.S. Border Patrol

PHOENIX - Immigration activists filed a complaint with the U.S. government on Wednesday alleging systematic abuse of more than 100 unaccompanied migrant children by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

Officials say serial arsonists at work in California city of Fresno

- A string of fires that have erupted mostly in unoccupied buildings across the central California city of Fresno this spring may be the work of serial arsonists, fire officials said on Wednesday.

Las Vegas gunman killed by police, not wife, authorities say

LAS VEGAS - A gunman who was part of a husband-wife team who killed two Las Vegas police officers in a weekend pizza restaurant ambush was shot and killed by police, not by his wife in a murder-suicide as first stated by authorities, police said on Wednesday.

Florida man sues police for being shot and Tasered after 911 call

MIAMI - A Florida man who was shot in the chest and Tasered during a struggle with police is suing his local police department, claiming officers unjustly used excessive force against him after he suffered an epileptic seizure.

California officials wrangle over whether to defend teacher protections

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California officials were wrangling on Wednesday over whether to appeal a court ruling that overturned some job protections for public school teachers and could change the way educators are hired and fired in the most populous U.S. state.

Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber to seek to move trial

BOSTON - Attorneys for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev plan to ask a judge to move his trial outside of Boston, they said in court papers on Wednesday, adding they needed more time to prepare their arguments.

Teen gunman in Oregon school shooting got weapons from home

TROUTDALE Ore. - The teenage gunman who killed a classmate at an Oregon high school on Tuesday was armed with a military-style rifle and a semiautomatic pistol obtained from his home and lacked any known connection to his victim, police said on Wednesday.

Alabama woman charged for asking fake Facebook friend to kill family

- An Alabama woman was charged for trying to enlist a Facebook friend, who in fact was her aunt posing as a man, to kill her family, police and prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Guantanamo panel to weigh Kuwaiti prisoner's transfer

WASHINGTON - A Kuwaiti inmate at the Guantanamo Bay prison faces a hearing this week on whether he should be transferred home, with the Pentagon saying on Wednesday that he likely had ties to Osama bin Laden and his lawyer contending he was no threat to the United States.

Two brothers charged in case of missing Tennessee student

- Two Tennessee brothers have been arrested and charged as accessories in connection with the 2011 disappearance of a nursing student in a crime for which two other men already have been charged with murder, authorities said on Wednesday.

Wisconsin girl in 'Slenderman' stabbing to have competency test

WAUKESHA Wis. - One of two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls accused of luring a friend into the woods and stabbing her repeatedly to please a fictional Internet character will undergo a mental competency exam, a circuit court commissioner ordered on Wednesday.

Luxury Texas home dangling from cliff after land gives way

AUSTIN Texas - A luxury $800,000 Texas home perched on a lakeside bluff was poised to plunge into the water below on Wednesday after the ground under its foundation eroded and left it precariously balanced on a decaying cliff.

Two brothers charged in case of missing Tennessee student

- Two Tennessee brothers have been arrested and charged as accessories in connection with the 2011 disappearance of a nursing student in a crime for which two other men already have been charged with murder, authorities said on Wednesday.

Ohio, Illinois soldiers among U.S. dead in Afghan 'friendly fire'

- Soldiers from Ohio and Illinois are among the five U.S. servicemen killed this week in southern Afghanistan by a "friendly fire" air strike during a security operation, relatives and family friends said on Wednesday.

Four N.Y. strippers arrested in drugging, theft plot

NEW YORK - Four New York City strippers and a strip club manager have been arrested in an alleged plot to drug wealthy men and run up false charges on their credit cards, officials said on Wednesday.

Convicted U.S. child killer owes $15 million to child's mother: lawsuit

NEW YORK - A disbarred attorney convicted of killing his illegally adopted daughter in one of New York's most notorious child abuse cases has not paid any of the $15 million restitution he owes the girl's birth mother, according to a lawsuit.

Mom, boyfriend face charges after first-grader heroin scare in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA - The mother of a child who brought bags of heroin to her first-grade classroom in Philadelphia was awaiting formal charges on Wednesday, along with her boyfriend, after both were taken into custody by police following the Tuesday incident.

Kayaker who tried to reach Hawaii 'lucky to be alive': Coast Guard

- A man who had to be rescued far from the Californian coast after attempting to kayak almost 2,400 miles (3,860 km) to Hawaii is "very lucky to be alive," the Coast Guard said.

Truck driver in Tracy Morgan 'drowsy driving' crash due in court

NEW YORK - A Georgia truck driver accused of causing a fatal car crash on a New Jersey highway that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan was due in court on Wednesday to face charges of vehicular homicide while driving with too little sleep.

U.S. defense chief defends swap of Taliban for war prisoner

WASHINGTON - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday defended Washington's decision to swap five Taliban leaders to win the release of Army war prisoner Bowe Bergdahl, saying the pledge to recover service members in captivity is "woven into the fabric of our nation."

Wisconsin girls accused in 'Slenderman' stabbing to appear in court

MILWAUKEE - Two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls accused of luring a friend into the woods and stabbing her 19 times to please a fictional Internet character are expected to appear in court on Wednesday for a scheduling hearing, according to prosecutors.

Massachusetts' Cape Cod beaches to ban smoking

BOSTON - Massachusetts' famous beaches on Cape Cod will ban smoking at all lifeguard-protected areas beginning next week, a move that officials said followed complaints from visitors to the popular resort area.

Second man convicted in football star Sean Taylor's killing

- A Florida jury convicted a second man on Tuesday in connection with the 2007 murder of Washington Redskins football star Sean Taylor during a botched burglary at his Miami-area home, local media said.

Workers safe after explosions, fire rock Montana wood-products plant

- Explosions and a fire engulfed a Montana wood-products plant owned by Plum Creek Timber Co on Tuesday but all workers were accounted for and no injuries were reported, an emergency official said.

Philadelphia children examined at hospital after heroin found in classroom

PHILADELPHIA - An entire class of first-graders in Philadelphia was taken to a hospital for examination on Tuesday after a classmate was found with heroin in their classroom, authorities said.

California bill would bar jailing of minors for truancy

SACRAMENTO Calif. - A bill that would prohibit the jailing of minors who habitually skip school passed a legislative hurdle in California on Tuesday amid a wave of measures aimed at offering second chances to offenders in the most populous U.S. state.

Poor healthcare in Alabama prisons contributed to deaths -report

- Severe understaffing in Alabama's prisons has contributed to at least three inmate deaths this year and has led to inadequate medical care, amounting to cruel and unusual punishment, two civil rights groups said in a report released on Tuesday.

Mexican immigrant who sought sanctuary in church can stay in U.S

TUCSON Ariz. - A Mexican immigrant who took refuge in an Arizona church to avoid deportation from a country where he has lived illegally for over a decade and raised a family can stay in the United States, a federal official said on Tuesday.

Top N.Y. lawmaker must face harassment suit against ex-assemblyman

NEW YORK - New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver must face claims that he “aided and abetted” a former assemblyman’s sexual harassment of two young female employees by failing to take official action, a U.S. judge ruled on Tuesday.

Marijuana activists sue to halt Colorado pot tax collections

DENVER - A group of marijuana activists in Colorado are suing to prevent the government collecting taxes derived from the state’s legal pot industry, saying it violates the right against self-incrimination guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

California must put safety measures in place to prepare for oil spills - report

SAN FRANCISCO - California needs more safety inspections, better emergency response capabilities, and more information about how much oil is expected to be transported by rail given the surge in crude oil shipments, a government report released on Tuesday showed.

Man accused of killing, dismembering woman, eating part of her

- A Tennessee man who confessed to killing a woman, cutting up her body and eating part of it has been charged with first degree murder and abuse of a corpse, authorities said in a criminal complaint.

Online gamers help cops thwart violent Arizona home invasion

PHOENIX - A woman in Arizona has thanked online gamers around the world who helped police thwart a home invasion after watching two armed men threaten her live via their webcams.

One student, gunman dead after Oregon high school shooting

TROUTDALE Ore. - A gunman walked into an Oregon high school gym with a rifle and shot a student to death on Tuesday before he was found dead in a bathroom stall, in the third outbreak of gun violence to shake a U.S. high school or college campus in less than three weeks.

Police still hopeful in search for missing Alaska family

AU - Authorities remain hopeful that a missing Alaska couple and their two small children, last heard from about two weeks ago, will turn up alive and well, police said on Tuesday.

Justice Department strikes deal with Montana prosecutor over rape cases

- Prosecutors in Missoula, Montana, will improve their treatment of rape victims and allow the state attorney general to review any sexual assault cases they decline to pursue as part of an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department released on Tuesday.

Virginia Medicaid expansion hopes dimmed as lawmakers set to return

RICHMOND Va. - Hopes to expand Medicaid in Virginia have dimmed with the Democrats' loss of the state Senate through a surprise resignation, a top Democratic lawmaker said on Tuesday.

Miami chef for celebrities dies after South Beach nightclub shooting

MIAMI BEACH Fla. - A private chef who cooked for celebrities and members of the Miami Heat basketball team died on Tuesday following an argument in a South Beach nightclub that ended in a shooting.

NYC 'Taxi of Tomorrow' program approved by state appeals court

NEW YORK - New York City's plan to create a uniform taxi fleet with cabs from Nissan Motor Co won approval from a state appeals court on Tuesday, which overturned a lower court ruling that had struck down the initiative.

Not everyone on board with Florida fast-rail project

ORLANDO Fla. - A privately financed high-speed train connection linking Orlando and Miami is facing mounting opposition in Florida from communities the train will pass without stopping.

New York City heat lamp fire uncovers 'marijuana farm'

NEW YORK - A New York man whose heat lamp sparked a fire in his basement apartment has been charged after emergency responders discovered a 'marijuana farm,' police said.

California psychology student convinced abductor to free her: cops

LOS ANGELES - A psychology student at a California university put her schooling into practice when she talked a man who kidnapped her in a parking lot near campus into letting her go, police said on Tuesday.

Dozens indicted in Georgia food stamp fraud

ATLANTA - Federal prosecutors in Georgia announced indictments on Tuesday against 88 people in one of the country's largest food-stamp fraud cases.

Florida man guilty in alleged Tampa attack plot

TAMPA Fla. - A Florida man who bought weapons from an undercover FBI agent and planned to blow up popular Tampa entertainment areas was found guilty on Tuesday and faces life in prison.

Pennsylvania to widen sex abuse law passed after Penn State scandal

HARRISBURG Pa. - Pennsylvania is poised to close what lawmakers call a loophole in a sex abuse law it passed in the wake of a child sex scandal at Penn State University.

Kayaker who sparked Maryland shooter scare may have shot himself: police

- A Virginia man who sparked an April scare in Maryland when he told police he had been shot while paddling his kayak may have wounded himself, a police spokesman said on Tuesday.

Kayaker who sparked Maryland shooter scare may have shot himself: police

- A Virginia man who sparked an April scare in Maryland when he told police he had been shot while paddling his kayak may have wounded himself, a police spokesman said on Tuesday.

Texas teen in 3,500-foot skydiving spiral had working parachute: FAA

DALLAS - The parachute of a Texas teenager who went into a 3,500-foot (1,000-metre) spiral before hitting the ground appeared to be in good working order, according to a Federal Aviation Administration report obtained on Tuesday.

United Airlines to tie frequent-flier miles to ticket price

- United Airlines, moving to sweeten awards for its biggest spenders, on Tuesday said it plans to base its frequent-flier rewards program on ticket prices rather than miles traveled.

Weil-McLain boilers in U.S., Canada recalled over fire, explosion risk

WASHINGTON - Weil-McLain is recalling about 8,400 boilers after reports of cracked manifolds raised the risk of fire or explosion, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Tuesday.

Girlfriend to testify at trial of friend of accused Boston bomber

BOSTON - The girlfriend of a Kazakh exchange student who has been charged with obstructing the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing is expected to take the stand during his trial, according to court records.

Former N.J. inmates charged with stealing unemployment benefits while in jail

- Five former New Jersey inmates and three of their wives were charged with stealing roughly $100,000 in unemployment insurance benefits while serving time in county jails, the state prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Philadelphia suburbs brace for possible transit strike

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia region is bracing for a potentially crippling transit strike that could compound the region's already significant traffic woes.

U.S. judge approves revised writers' settlement with publishers

NEW YORK - A U.S. judge on Tuesday signed off on a revised class action settlement between publishers and freelance writers, who for years claimed their work had been reprinted in online databases without their permission.

Tennessee dog rescue operator charged with animal cruelty

- A Tennessee woman who said she ran a dog rescue operation has been charged with animal cruelty after authorities said they found 37 trash bags of animal remains, four dead dogs in cages and dozens of malnourished dogs at properties linked to her.

Nevada cop killers told to leave Bundy ranch due to 'aggressive nature'

- A married couple who shot dead two Las Vegas police officers over the weekend had attended a protest on the property of renegade Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy but were asked to leave because of the husband's aggressive nature and volatility, the Bundy family said on Tuesday.

Dunkin' Donuts shops to return to California this year

LOS ANGELES - Dunkin' Donuts on Tuesday said franchisees will open five "traditional" shops in California before the end of 2014, ending the coffee and baked goods chain's dozen-year absence from the nation's most populous state.

Bonus payout for WTC site workers premature: U.S. court

NEW YORK - (This June 9 story was refiled to correct name of lawyer in 13th paragraph to Margaret Warner from Meredith Warner)

Vermont climate change report warns of catastrophic flood risk

BOSTON - A warming world could pose a risk of more frequent catastrophic flooding but also be a long-term boon for Vermont farmers and a shorter-lived thrill for its skiers, according to a state report released on Tuesday.

Lone Star State makes wines with a Mediterranean touch

NEW YORK - Texas is known for many things: cowboys and cattle, oil and gas wells, the Alamo and a passion for college football. But wine?

'Terrible accident' recounted in 911 tapes of Tracy Morgan crash

NEW YORK - A woman who witnessed a multicar collision on a New Jersey highway that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one of his associates called 911 to report a "terrible accident," according to audio recordings released on Tuesday.

62 percent of Americans back letting illegal immigrants become citizens

WASHINGTON - Sixty-two percent of Americans support providing a way for immigrants living in the United States illegally to become citizens if they meet requirements, while almost a fifth support deportation, a poll showed on Tuesday.

Sixteen Ohio amusement park workers arrested after weekend melee

CLEVELAND - Sixteen workers at an Ohio amusement park were arrested after a late night fight at an employee recreation center over the weekend while the park was shut down due to a water main break, police said on Tuesday.

South Carolina OKs Confederate flag at Citadel military college

CHARLESTON S.C. - A Confederate flag displayed at the Citadel military college in Charleston, South Carolina, can keep flying despite objections that it is offensive, the state attorney general's office said on Tuesday.

Grandson of U.S. naval historian charged with stealing records

WASHINGTON - The grandson of late U.S. naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison has been charged with stealing historical records related to his Pulitzer Prize-winning grandfather, federal authorities said on Tuesday.

FDA advises pregnant women to eat more low-mercury fish

WASHINGTON - U.S. regulators recommended on Tuesday that pregnant women, nursing mothers and women who might become pregnant increase the amount of low-mercury fish they eat to between eight and 12 ounces a week as they issued a long-awaited draft update to their advice on mercury levels in seafood.

U.S. appeals court rules against authors in book-scanning lawsuit

NEW YORK - Universities and research libraries that created a searchable online database for millions of books did not violate copyright protections belonging to authors whose works were scanned, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

Occupy Wall Street protesters win $583,000 settlement from New York: lawyer

NEW YORK - New York City has agreed to pay $583,000 in a settlement with 14 Occupy Wall Street protesters who were arrested during a New Year's Day march in 2012, lawyers for the plaintiffs announced Tuesday.

Reports of sex crimes up at colleges and universities: study

NEW YORK - Reports of forcible sex crimes at colleges and universities increased by over 50 percent to 2011 from 2001, even as on-campus crime has declined for every other category, according to a federal report released on Tuesday.

U.S. OK's BP surveys of Alaskan oilfields; boosts drone maker

WASHINGTON - BP has been authorized to use unmanned aircraft to conduct surveys of pipelines and other infrastructure on Alaska's North Slope, the first commercial drone flights over U.S. land, government authorities said on Tuesday, giving a boost to the tiny aircraft's manufacturer.

Private prisons for immigrants rife with abuses, report says

AUSTIN Texas - Private prisons holding more than 25,000 people who violated U.S. immigration laws are cutting corners to generate profits and subjecting inmates to systematic abuse, according to a report released on Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Florida woman's retrial in 'warning-shot' case delayed over new legislation

JACKSONVILLE Fla. - The retrial of a Florida woman who had her conviction for shooting at her abusive husband overturned on appeal was postponed on Tuesday to wait for new legislation inspired by the public outcry over her case.

One student, gunman dead after Oregon high school shooting

TROUTDALE Ore. - A gunman walked into an Oregon high school and shot a student to death before the shooter was found dead himself on Tuesday, marking the third outbreak of gun violence to shake a U.S. academic campus in less than three weeks.

U.S. judge orders ExxonMobil produce documents on Arkansas spill

- A U.S. federal judge has denied ExxonMobil Corp's bid to dismiss a government lawsuit and instead ordered the oil giant to hand over documents going back decades on a pipeline that ruptured last year and inundated an Arkansas town with oil.

California teacher job protection laws ruled unconstitutional

LOS ANGELES - California laws granting tenure and other job protections to public school teachers hurt students and are unconstitutional, a court ruled on Tuesday in a decision that may change the way educators are hired and fired in the most populous U.S. state.

North Carolina man accused of holding German woman captive

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. - A North Carolina man was charged with human trafficking after he sexually assaulted a Russian-born German citizen he met online, took her money and held her against her will for several days, police said on Tuesday.

Even as shootings rise, murder rate falls in New York City

NEW YORK - The number of shootings in New York City has spiked by 13 percent so far this year, though the murder rate is on track to hit a 50-year low, a statistical paradox that experts said reflects quick medical response.

Accused Seattle college shooter planned rampage: prosecutors

SEATTLE - A man accused of killing a Seattle Pacific University student and wounding two others in a shooting last week had recently visited the college and was intent on killing students and himself, according to entries in his journal released by prosecutors on Tuesday.

U.S. law firms flock to gay-marriage proponents, shun other side

- As U.S. lawsuits seeking gay-marriage rights move toward a likely showdown at the Supreme Court next year, major law firms are rushing to get involved — but only on the side of the proponents.

Private U.S. report accuses another Chinese military unit of hacking

SAN FRANCISCO - A private U.S. cybersecurity company on Monday accused a unit of China's military of conducting far-reaching hacking operations to advance the country's satellite and aerospace programs.

California police seeking 3 children, mother after father found shot dead

- Authorities were searching on Monday for three children allegedly abducted by their mother from a home where their father was found shot dead in the San Francisco area, California officials and media reported.

Firefighters work to contain wildfire threatening Oregon city

PORTLAND Ore. - Firefighters were working on Monday to prevent an Oregon wildfire that has forced home evacuations and school closures from spreading into the small city of Bend, the U.S. Forest Service said.

Only woman on Delaware Supreme Court to retire this year

WILMINGTON Del. - The only woman to serve on Delaware's Supreme Court, Carolyn Berger, announced her plans to retire from the key corporate venue on Sept. 1, according to an email from the justice.

Victims of 2004 Ion crash sue GM to reopen case

- Victims of the crash of a Saturn Ion in 2004 have filed a lawsuit against General Motors Co to reopen a settlement and accusing the automaker of fraud.

Falling dolphin statue kills toddler on San Francisco vacation

SAN FRANCISCO - A 2-year-old boy visiting San Francisco with his family was killed when a large metal statue fell on him in the city’s busy Fisherman’s Wharf district, police said on Monday.

Seattle physician suspended over allegations of sexting during surgery

- A Seattle physician accused of sexting during surgeries and improperly accessing medical images for sexual gratification has been suspended from practice for disregarding patient safety and engaging in sexual misconduct, Washington state health officials said on Monday.

Social inequality in San Francisco spurs verbal brawl among VCs

SAN FRANCISCO - Ongoing tensions over how to handle social inequality in San Francisco sparked an a rare outburst among venture capitalists Monday.

Killers of Las Vegas cops harbored anti-government ideology

LAS VEGAS - A married couple who shot dead two Las Vegas police officers in a weekend pizza parlor ambush harbored anti-government and white supremacist ideology and threw a swastika on the body of one of the officers they gunned down, police said on Monday.

More Wisconsin gay couples wed, state appeals ruling

MILWAUKEE - A federal judge on Monday refused a state request to halt same-sex marriages in Wisconsin, where hundreds of gay couples have tied the knot since she declared late last week that its ban was unconstitutional.

California man charged with holding girl 10 years pleads not guilty

LOS ANGELES - A Southern California man accused of abducting a 15-year-old girl and holding her captive for a decade of physical and sexual abuse pleaded not guilty on Monday to rape and kidnapping charges and was ordered to remain jailed on $1 million bond.

Supreme Court refuses to hear California prison overcrowding case

- The Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear an appeal of a court order that requires California to ensure that disabled inmates who are housed in county jails to ease crowding in state prisons receive appropriate accommodations.

New trial set in Florida teen's death over loud music dispute

JACKSONVILLE Fla. - A Florida judge has set a retrial date of Sept. 22 for a man facing charges that he murdered a teenager during an argument at a Jacksonville gas station over blaring rap music.

LA teacher accused of ordering teens at knife-point to take him for fast food

LOS ANGELES - Police in Southern California have arrested a high school teacher accused of abducting three students at knife-point and ordering them to drive him to a fast-food outlet, authorities said.

Two ex-BDO vice chairmen get prison for tax shelter scheme

NEW YORK - Two former vice chairmen of accounting firm BDO Seidman were sentenced to prison on Monday after pleading guilty to engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the United States through the promotion of tax shelters.

Philadelphia Catholic Church clears priest, ends abuse claims review

PHILADELPHIA - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia has cleared a priest accused of sexually abusing minors and let him remain in the clergy as it wrapped up an internal review of 26 priests put on leave after a 2011 grand jury report of abuse claims.

Killers of Las Vegas cops harbored anti-government ideology

LAS VEGAS - A married couple who shot dead two Las Vegas police officers in a weekend pizza parlor ambush harbored anti-government and white supremacist ideology and threw a swastika on the body of one of the officers they gunned down, police said on Monday.

Citi loses bid to stop L.A. mortgage discrimination suit

- A lawsuit by the City of Los Angeles accusing Citigroup Inc of mortgage discrimination can go forward, a federal judge ruled on Monday, turning down the bank's motion to dismiss the case stemming from last decade's real estate boom.

American detained in North Korea was on vacation tour, lawyer says

AUSTIN Texas - The U.S. citizen detained in North Korea, Jeffrey Fowle, 56, is a father of three with a passion for adventure who was in the country as part of a vacation tour, his lawyer said on Monday.

Utah's 'mountain man' survivalist sentenced to prison after guilty pleas

SALT LAKE CITY - A Utah survivalist known as the "mountain man" who evaded police for nearly six years while looting remote cabins for weapons and supplies was sentenced on Monday to more than 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple state and federal charges.

Hundreds more migrant children shipped to Arizona from Texas

PHOENIX - Hundreds of children who crossed the U.S. border illegally were transported to Arizona from Texas over the weekend as border agents face a surge of unauthorized Central American migrants entering the country, authorities said on Monday.

Student who subdued Seattle gunman says hero label hard to accept

- The student who subdued a gunman accused of killing one person and wounding two others at a private Christian college in Seattle said on Monday he found it difficult to accept being hailed as a hero.

Prominent N.Y. church picks woman as pastor for first time in its history

NEW YORK - New York's Riverside Church, one of the best-known liberal Protestant congregations in the United States, selected a woman to lead it for the first time in its 84-year history, the church said on Monday.

FBI agents join search for missing Alaska family

AU Alaska - FBI agents have joined the search for an Alaska family of four, including two small children, whose disappearance almost two weeks ago is being described as "mysterious," authorities said on Monday.

Flight attendants at American take step toward combining unions

- Unions representing flight attendants at American Airlines Group filed a petition with a federal labor agency on Monday seeking to have a single union named to represent the company's 24,000 flight attendants following the merger of AMR Corp and US Airways last year.

U.S. preacher who inspires Syrian rebels faces Internet monitoring

WASHINGTON/DETROIT - A judge has ordered monitoring of computer and Internet use of a U.S. Islamic preacher regarded by some federal officials and a group that studies radicals as an inspirational figure for foreign fighters in Syria.

Vermont to raise minimum wage to $10.50, highest of any U.S. state

BOSTON - Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin on Monday signed a law that will raise the state's minimum wage to $10.50 an hour by 2018, higher than any other U.S. state

Three found shot dead on Chicago's South Side, two wounded: police

CHICAGO - Two women and one man were found shot to death and two other men were wounded on Chicago's South Side on Monday in what appears to be a domestic incident, Chicago police said.

VA audit finds thousands of U.S. veterans waiting for health care

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said on Monday that around 100,000 veterans are experiencing long waits for health care appointments at VA facilities, with more than half of these waiting 90 days or more.

Man killed outside New York bar made famous by TV's 'Mob Wives'

NEW YORK - Police searched for two suspects on Monday in the weekend killing of a man outside a New York bar featured on the reality television show "Mob Wives," officials said.

Wisconsin bodies found in two suitcases are adult women -police

MILWAUKEE - Bodies found in two suitcases in a grassy ditch along a rural southeast Wisconsin road last week were that of two women, police said on Monday.

Killers of Las Vegas cops harbored anti-government ideology: police

LAS VEGAS - The couple who shot two Las Vegas police officers to death in a weekend ambush before killing a bystander and themselves in a nearby Wal-Mart harbored anti-law enforcement, anti-government ideologies but are believed to have acted alone, authorities said on Monday.

Top aide to Chris Christie testifies to no knowledge of bridge scandal

TRENTON N.J. - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's chief of staff testified on Monday he had no knowledge of the closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge last fall that caused huge traffic jams and set off what has been dubbed the Bridgegate scandal.

Massachusetts man pleads guilty to voting in New Hampshire primary

BOSTON - New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation U.S. presidential nominating primary has long drawn activists from around New England who travel into the state to support candidates in rallies and door-to-door visits with voters.

U.S. officials seek help identifying child pornography suspect

WASHINGTON - Federal authorities sought help from the public on Monday in trying to identify a Connecticut man suspected of distributing child pornography as part of a large underground network.

Bonus payout for WTC site workers premature: U.S. court

NEW YORK - A judge acted prematurely in awarding a $55 million bonus payment to thousands of rescue and cleanup workers at the World Trade Center site who settled lawsuits against New York City over damage to their health, a federal appeals court decided on Monday.

U.S. top court leaves intact jury verdicts against big tobacco

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a series of appeals filed mainly by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co seeking to overturn Florida court rulings worth more than $70 million in favor of customers who sued over injuries associated with smoking.

Florida governor extends in-state tuition to undocumented students

- Florida children whose parents came to the United States illegally can qualify for in-state college tuition rates under a bill that Governor Rick Scott signed into law on Monday.

World's oldest man dies in New York at 111

NEW YORK - The world's oldest man has died in New York at age 111, according to the senior citizen residence where he lived.

Drone test flights starting in Nevada: FAA

WASHINGTON - The third of six U.S. test sites chosen to perform research on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, has started operations in Nevada, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Monday.

Wisconsin appeals order lifting gay marriage ban, weddings go on

MILWAUKEE - Officials in Wisconsin's two largest counties on Monday reported brisk traffic from same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses after a federal judge's ruling last week that the state's ban on gay nuptials was unconstitutional.

Supreme Court rules against immigrants over visa eligibility

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that children waiting with their parents for immigration visas must go to the back of the line once they reach the age of 21.

Supreme Court protester against social media firings collapses

WASHINGTON - A Delaware lawyer on a hunger strike over Internet privacy has ended his protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court after collapsing and being taken to a hospital, he said on Monday.

Chicago suburban man charged with killing wife, disabled daughter

CHICAGO - Leaving a note saying he was "a failure at everything," a suburban Chicago man killed his wife and teenage handicapped daughter and then tried to kill himself, officials said on Monday.

Sterling suit against NBA holds up Clippers' sale, commissioner says

SAN ANTONIO Texas - National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver said on Sunday a single obstacle blocked completion of the $2-billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers - a lawsuit brought by embattled owner Donald Sterling against the league.

Tornado injures man on golf course in suburban Denver

DENVER - Severe weather pounded eastern Colorado on Sunday, bringing heavy rain and spawning several tornados, one of which injured a man on a golf course near Denver, authorities said.

Obama to issue order easing student loan debt pressures

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will issue an executive action on Monday aimed at making it easier for young people to avoid trouble repaying student loans, a White House official said on Sunday.

Five people, including two police, dead in Las Vegas ambush shooting

LAS VEGAS - An armed man and woman shouting about a "revolution" opened fire and killed two Las Vegas policemen who were eating lunch in a pizza parlor on Sunday, then fatally shot a civilian in a nearby Wal-Mart store before killing themselves, police said.

Three dead, two wounded in shooting attack on Las Vegas police

LAS VEGAS - Two armed suspects shouting "this is a revolution" opened fire and wounded two Las Vegas police officers eating lunch in a pizza parlor on Sunday, then shot and killed a civilian inside a nearby Wal-Mart store before killing themselves, police said.

Obama to issue order easing student loan debt pressures

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will issue an executive action on Monday aimed at making it easier for young people to avoid trouble repaying student loans, a White House official said on Sunday.

Kerry says freed Taliban inmates would target U.S. at 'enormous risk': CNN

WASHINGTON - If the five Taliban inmates released from Guantanamo Bay prison in exchange for a captive American soldier rejoined the fight against the United States, they would do so at great risk, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.

Detroit rolls dice by relying on casino cash

DETROIT/NEW YORK - Detroit's reliance on casino cash to help fund a recovery from the city's historic bankruptcy is a high-risk bet on what is an increasingly shaky source of income.

Bergdahl held in solitary confinement for weeks: U.S. official

WASHINGTON - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has said he was held in solitary confinement for long periods during five years in Taliban captivity, according to a U.S. military official who said he has skin and gum disorders and has not yet spoken to his parents.

Thousands of naked bicyclists stage festive Portland protest ride

PORTLAND Oregon - Thousands of bicyclists, many of them stark naked, poured into the streets of Portland, Oregon on Saturday night for the 11th annual World Naked Bike Ride, a protest that promotes bike riding as an alternative to driving cars.

Bowe Bergdahl's father receives death threats: police chief

SALMON Idaho - The father of Bowe Bergdahl, the Idaho soldier released from captivity in a controversial prisoner swap with the Taliban, has received emailed death threats that authorities are investigating, an Idaho police chief said on Saturday.

School aide fed pet treats to children in Pennsylvania: reports

PHILADELPHIA - An aide at a rural Pennsylvania school handed out pet treats to dozens of fourth-grade students and may have told them the food was cookies or crackers, according to local media reports.

U.S. Capitol briefly evacuated after plane in restricted space-police

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Capitol was evacuated briefly on Saturday afternoon after a plane flew into restricted airspace, Capitol Police said.

Americans split on prisoner swap of Taliban for U.S. soldier

WASHINGTON - Americans are deeply divided over whether the Obama administration did the right thing by swapping five Taliban leaders to win the freedom of Afghanistan prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl, according to Reuters/Ipsos survey released on Friday.

Arrested California consultant sought toxins online: FBI

- The San Francisco public relations consultant who was arrested for having bomb-making materials in his apartment had sought toxins on an Internet black market for dangerous materials, according to court documents unsealed on Friday.

Defense wants Colorado theater model barred from accused gunman’s trial

DENVER - An FBI model of the Colorado cinema where 12 moviegoers were shot to death in 2012 should not be used at the trial of the accused gunman because it was damaged during shipping, defense lawyers said on Friday.

Wisconsin girl stabbed in 'Slenderman' case leaves hospital

- A Wisconsin girl stabbed 19 times in a murder plot allegedly hatched by two 12-year-old classmates to win favor with a fictional Internet character known as Slenderman, was released from the hospital on Friday, her family said in a statement.

Fire breaks out in building near New York's Rockefeller Center

NEW YORK - A large fire broke out in the basement of a Manhattan building that sits a block away from the Rockefeller Center, fire officials said on Friday.

Wisconsin billionaire pleads guilty to sexual assault charge

- Wisconsin billionaire Samuel Curtis Johnson III pleaded guilty on Friday to misdemeanor sexual assault of his stepdaughter and was sentenced to four months in jail, according to court records.

North Korea detains U.S. tourist; three now in custody

SEOUL - North Korea said it had detained an American tourist for violating its laws after entering the secretive state in April, bringing the number of U.S. citizens held by Pyongyang to three.

Accused Seattle gunman suffers severe mental illness, his lawyer says

SEATTLE - The man accused of killing one person and wounding two others in a shooting spree at a small Christian college in Seattle suffers from "significant and long-standing mental health issues" that were a factor in the tragedy, his lawyer said on Friday.

Federal judge strikes down Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage

MILWAUKEE - A federal judge deemed Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Friday to the delight of gay couples who immediately began rushing to county offices to wed as word of the ruling spread.

L.A. mayor urges less emphasis on criminal records in hiring, housing

- The mayor of Los Angeles voiced support on Friday for a new state law barring public agencies from refusing job applications from people convicted of a crime and is pushing city leaders to broaden the measure to private-sector jobs and housing.

California Supreme Court backs red-light traffic cameras

SAN FRANCISCO - The California Supreme Court has ruled that images captured by traffic cameras are valid evidence against drivers who run red lights, in a victory for law enforcement over the use of the cameras that have often been met with public distrust.

Utah approves first crow hunt to cull growing population

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah will hold its first ever crow hunt this fall as authorities try to contain the noise and mess from a population of the big, black birds that officials say has tripled over the last 12 years.

Arizona couple arrested on accusations of abusing adopted daughters

PHOENIX - Police in Arizona have arrested a couple on suspicion of repeatedly abusing two of their adopted daughters, punishing them with beatings and leaving the girls severely malnourished, authorities said on Friday.

Colorado passes nation's first law regulating rides-on-demand

DENVER - Colorado has become the first state to pass legislation regulating companies such as Uber and others that let the public hail rides from drivers via smartphone apps.

Justice Department says L.A. County jails failing suicidal inmates

LOS ANGELES - The Department of Justice has determined that Los Angeles County's jails violate the Constitution by failing to provide adequate mental health services to suicidal inmates, the latest black mark to the nation's already troubled largest jail system.

Man accused of New Hampshire killing wanted to form cult: witness

DOVER N.H. - The ex-girlfriend of a man accused of murdering a New Hampshire college student in October 2012 testified on Friday that the killing was the act of a man with a dark fantasy life that included dreams of forming a cult.

Federal judge strikes down Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage

MILWAUKEE - A federal judge struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage on Friday, saying the law violates the constitutional rights of gay couples who wish to wed, according to court documents.

Partygoer shot when he returns to wrong Las Vegas house

- A man who briefly left a birthday party at a nearby home and thought he was returning to the celebration but went to the wrong house in Las Vegas was shot by the homeowner who objected to the late-night intrusion, local media reported on Friday.

Two bodies found in suitcases along Wisconsin rural road

MILWAUKEE - Police found two bodies in separate suitcases in a grassy ditch along a road in southeastern Wisconsin, authorities said on Friday.

No charges for Michigan man who drove across U.S. with corpse

- A man who completed a cross country drive to Michigan from Arizona with a dead woman in his van will not face charges for failing to report her death immediately, police in suburban Detroit said on Friday.

Americans split on prisoner swap of Taliban for U.S. soldier: poll

WASHINGTON - Americans are deeply divided over whether the Obama administration did the right thing by swapping five Taliban leaders to win the freedom of Afghanistan prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl, according to Reuters/Ipsos survey released on Friday.

Wisconsin ex-official's law license suspended over sexual conduct

- The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday suspended the law license of a lawyer accused of making sexual overtures to women while serving as a district attorney, including the victim in a domestic abuse case that he was looking to prosecute.

U.S. corrects Keystone study estimate of rail deaths, other errors

WASHINGTON - The State Department on Friday corrected several errors it made in a key study evaluating the impact of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, including a understatement of how many people could be killed on railroad tracks if the project were rejected and oil traffic by rail increased.

10-year-olds among students making bomb threats in Connecticut: officials

MILFORD Conn. - Children as young as 10 years old have been caught making bomb threats to local schools in Bristol, Connecticut, that have cost the city tens of thousands of dollars, authorities said.

Navy medical center in Virginia on lockdown after stabbing

- A U.S. Navy medical center in Virginia was on lockdown after a person was stabbed and injured on Friday morning, the Navy said.

Deputy shot in leg at Georgia courthouse; suspect dead: local TV news

- A sheriff's deputy was shot in the leg at the Forsyth County, Georgia, courthouse on Friday, and a suspect in the incident was dead, WSB-TV news reported.

N.Y. police charge man in elevator stabbing of two children

NEW YORK - New York police have charged a man with murder, attempted murder and assault in the weekend stabbing of two children, one of them fatally, in a Brooklyn apartment elevator, officials said.

Wild mushrooms entice smugglers to fire-ravaged California forest

GROVELAND Calif. - Smugglers in northern California’s fire-ravaged Stanislaus National Forest are sneaking out pricey contraband - not marijuana this time, but a favorite delicacy of foodies: the luscious morel mushroom.  

Gunman kills one, three wounded at Christian college in Seattle

SEATTLE - Police were searching on Friday for what drove a man armed with a shotgun to open fire at a small Christian college in Seattle, killing one person and wounding two others before he was subdued by a group of students and arrested.

California residents support soda tax to fight obesity, health study shows

- Fighting obesity by taxing sugary drinks and restricting junk food advertisements aimed at children has support from a wide majority of residents surveyed in a Southern California public health study released on Thursday.

Federal agent commits suicide in Pittsburgh Homeland Security office

PITTSBURGH Pa. - A federal agent shot and killed himself inside a U.S. Department of Homeland Security building in Pittsburgh on Thursday afternoon, county officials said.

U.S. Air base in Texas shelters wave of immigrant children

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE Texas - A half-century-old section of a U.S. Air Force base in Texas has been transformed into a holding and processing center for thousands of children illegally crossing the border from Central and South America without adults.

Obama administration revamps federal healthcare website: WSJ

- The Obama administration is revamping the health insurance marketplace HealthCare.gov and removing significant parts from it to ensure that glitches on the site do not return, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing presentations to health insurers and interviews with government officials and contractors.

At least three shot at Seattle Pacific University, suspect in custody

SEATTLE - At least three people were shot at Seattle Pacific University on Thursday, and the suspect was in custody, Seattle police said on social media.

Suit on behalf of Arizona prisoners gets class-action status

- A lawsuit on behalf of Arizona inmates that accuses the state of neglecting their health needs and misusing solitary confinement can proceed as a class-action case, potentially affecting conditions for all the state's 30,000 prisoners, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.

New Jersey court rules for nurse who refused vaccine on non-religious grounds

GREEN BROOK N.J. - A New Jersey appeals court ruled on Thursday that First Amendment protections allowing people to refuse medical procedures on religious grounds also extends to those opting out of treatment for secular reasons.

Rap videos shown as evidence in New York gang murder trial

NEW YORK - Rap videos that show a New York murder defendant claiming to be a gun-toting gang member were shown in court on Thursday, prosecutors said, despite his attempts to have the clips barred from evidence.

San Francisco cable cars rolling again after sickout ends

- San Francisco's famed cable cars were rolling again on Thursday, resuming operations three days after a sickout by bus and rail operators hobbled the city's transit system and grounded the historic vehicles to a halt, an official said.

Florida judge disbarred over 'personal' relationship with prosecutor

TALLAHASSEE Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court disbarred a former circuit judge on Thursday for having a "personal and emotional relationship" with a prosecutor that started during a death penalty case he was trying before her.

One killed, three wounded at Seattle Christian college, suspect arrested

SEATTLE - A gunman opened fire on Thursday on the campus of a small Christian college in Seattle, killing one person and wounding at least three others before he was subdued by school staff and arrested, Seattle police and hospital officials said.

Florida ship's crew arrested on gun charges in Honduras

ORLANDO Fla. - The crew of a Florida-based shipwreck salvage company has been held for a month in a Honduras jail after authorities accused them of gun smuggling, a company spokesman said on Thursday.

Suit on behalf of Arizona prisoners gets class-action status

- A lawsuit on behalf of Arizona inmates that accuses the state of neglecting their health needs and misusing solitary confinement can proceed as a class-action case, potentially affecting conditions for all the state's 30,000 prisoners, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.

New York non-profits balk at suggestion to snub Walmart money

NEW YORK - More than half of the New York City Council has asked Walmart to stop making charitable donations to local non-profits like the Coalition Against Hunger, and the groups are not happy about it.

Fired Penn State fencing coach files wrongful termination lawsuit

HARRISBURG Penn. - Penn State University's former fencing coach sued the school on Thursday, saying it wrongly fired him for "retaliating" against a whistleblower when in fact he was following new rules put in place after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Indiana men left dead in living room since last July: coroner

- An Indiana woman is under investigation after her husband's corpse was left in their home for more than nine months and fed on by birds, authorities said on Thursday.

NY nursing home workers face charges stemming from resident death

NEW YORK - Nine employees of a troubled New York nursing home, including the top administrator, were indicted on Thursday on charges stemming from the death of a resident whose distress alarms went unheeded for hours.

California lawmakers propose incentives for Tesla battery factory

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California lawmakers proposed financial incentives for electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc on Thursday in a bid to entice the company to build a large battery factory in the most populous U.S. state.

Wind, flooding take three lives in Arkansas and Tennessee

NASHVILLE Tenn. - High winds and flash flooding on Thursday in the south-central United States killed three people in Arkansas and Tennessee, derailed a train in Arkansas and blew off part of a motel roof in a Missouri tourist town, officials said.

Freed U.S. soldier Bergdahl improving, hasn't spoken with parents

WASHINGTON - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is showing improvement during his treatment after nearly five years in captivity but has still not spoken with his family, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Governors Ball aims to put New York on music festival map

NEW YORK - After gale-force winds and rain marred last year's event, New York will host the fourth Governors Ball on Friday, which could be its answer to Lollapalooza and Coachella and the city's most successful attempt yet to establish a homegrown music festival.

Mississippi police probe actions by Senate candidate's supporters

JACKSON Miss. - A campaign official for U.S. Senate candidate Chris McDaniel and two others are under investigation in Mississippi after being found locked inside a courthouse where ballots in Tuesday's Republican primary had been counted hours earlier.

Skull of Civil War soldier found at Gettysburg to be auctioned

HARRISBURG Pa. - (This June 2 story was refiled to show last find of Civil War dead at Gettysburg, not nationally, in 1996 in the sixth paragraph.)

Auction of skull of Civil War soldier found at Gettysburg canceled

HARRISBURG Pa. - (This June 2 story was refiled to show last find of Civil War dead at Gettysburg, not nationally, in 1996 in the sixth paragraph.)

New York drops surgery rule for changing sex on birth certificate

NEW YORK - Transgender people born in New York state, with the exception of New York City, will no longer have to prove that they have had sex-reassignment surgery to change the sex marked on their birth certificate, Governor Andrew Cuomo's office said on Thursday.

Texas man fourth in U.S. to die from rare brain disease: CDC

AUSTIN Texas - A Texas man has died of the fatal brain illness variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the fourth person to die of the disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Victim of stabbing attack in Wisconsin sitting up, walking

MILWAUKEE - The 12-year-old Wisconsin girl who was allegedly lured into a park after a sleepover and stabbed 19 times by two friends is now sitting up and walking the halls at an area hospital, her parents said on Thursday.

Georgia banker who faked death pleads guilty to fraud

ATLANTA - A former Georgia bank director, who left a suicide note before vanishing for more than a year while under suspicion of embezzling $21 million, faces up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty on Thursday to U.S. fraud charges.

Apparent allergic reaction kills woman on Grand Canyon rafting trip

SEATTLE - A Seattle woman passed out and died from an apparent allergic reaction while on a rafting trip this week on the Colorado River in Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park, park officials said on Thursday. 

Philadelphia remembers victims of deadly 2013 building collapse

PHILADELPHIA - Family members of those killed in a Philadelphia building collapse a year ago and an emotional Mayor Michael Nutter gathered at the scene of the disaster on Thursday to mark its anniversary and dedicate a park in the memory of the dead.

Immigrants win one third of U.S. Nobel prizes in key fields

SAN FRANCISCO - More than one-third of U.S. Nobel prize winners in chemistry, medicine and physics are immigrants, a new report shows.

Obama: 'no apologies' on deal to free Taliban prisoner Bergdahl

BRUSSELS - President Barack Obama said on Thursday he would make "no apologies" for agreeing to a deal that released Taliban detainee Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, despite controversy in Washington that Congress was not notified ahead of time.

U.S. Navy jet crashes in ocean off California, no injuries

- A U.S. Navy jet crashed into the ocean off Southern California while trying to land on an aircraft carrier during a training mission on Wednesday night, the Navy said. The pilot ejected from the jet and no one was hurt.

On iconic U.S. Route 66, German and Italian POWs lie in Oklahoma graves

EL RENO Okla. - Along America's most fabled road, Route 66, lie the almost forgotten graves of German and Italian prisoners of war brought to Oklahoma some 70 years ago and who now rest in the red soil of a former Wild West pioneer outpost.

Crowd turns out in Philadelphia to mourn, honor Lewis Katz

PHILADELPHIA - A celebrity-studded crowd turned out on Wednesday to mourn Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner and philanthropist Lewis Katz, who was killed in a weekend plane crash.

34 injured in fire that destroyed New York apartment house

NEW YORK - A five-alarm fire broke out in a New York City apartment house early on Thursday, injuring 23 firefighters and 11 other people and reportedly leading one desperate man to drop his children from a second-story window into a neighbor's arms.

Snowden's lawyer says assumes his Russian asylum will be extended

BERLIN - A lawyer for former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden told German radio on Thursday that he expected his client's asylum in Russia to be extended beyond July.

Attorneys for Oregon bomb plot defendant argue for new trial

PORTLAND Ore. - Attorneys for a Somali-American man convicted of trying to blow up a Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Oregon argued for a new trial on Wednesday, telling a judge the former college student's constitutional rights were violated by warrantless surveillance.

San Francisco city atty files complaint over 'sick-out' by transit workers

- The San Francisco city attorney on Wednesday accused the union for bus and rail operators of orchestrating a sick-out, filing a complaint on the third day of the protest as more buses and trains resumed operations.

Wisconsin stabbing puts focus on fictional Slenderman

MILWAUKEE - A murder plot allegedly hatched by two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls in which a classmate was stabbed 19 times has put a spotlight on the apparent object of their affections - a shadowy paranormal character on the Internet known as Slenderman.

Freed soldier's hometown cancels rally amid anger over swap

KABUL - The political uproar over the prisoner swap that won the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity intensified on Wednesday when his hometown canceled plans for a rally celebrating his return amid allegations that he deserted.

New York lawyer sued by U.S. over tax shelters

NEW YORK - The U.S. government sued a New York tax lawyer on Wednesday for allegedly cheating the Internal Revenue Service out of $130 million by engineering and concealing from investigators dozens of illegal tax schemes on behalf of clients.

BP, Andarko must face fines for U.S. gulf oil spill: court

- A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday said BP Plc and Anadarko Petroleum Corp must face penalties under federal pollution laws in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which could expose the companies to billions of dollars in potential fines.

N.Y. police arrest man wanted in stabbings of children

NEW YORK - New York police have arrested a man wanted in connection with the weekend stabbings of two children, one fatally, in a Brooklyn apartment elevator, officials said on Wednesday.

Military jet crashes in Southern California town, damages homes

- A U.S. military jet crashed in a Southern California desert town on Wednesday, damaging homes, a military spokeswoman said.

Last of Navajo 'code talkers' dies in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. - The last of 29 Navajo Americans who developed an unbreakable code that helped Allied forces win World War Two died in New Mexico on Wednesday of kidney failure at the age of 93.

Top court declines to block gay marriage in Oregon

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to block a court ruling that allowed gay marriage to go ahead in Oregon.

U.S. says 2.2 million Obamacare enrollees have data problems

WASHINGTON - About 2.2 million people, or more than one in every four Americans who signed up for private health coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, have inconsistent data in their applications that could lead to them losing coverage in isolated cases, officials said on Wednesday.

Philadelphia man receives prison term for smuggling elephant ivory

NEW YORK - A Philadelphia man was sentenced Wednesday to 2-1/2 years in prison for smuggling African elephant ivory into the United States, in a case that resulted in one of the largest seizures of illegal ivory in U.S. history.

Ex-Marine convicted of lying about Iraq accidental shooting

NEW YORK - A former Marine corporal was convicted on Wednesday of lying to military investigators about an accidental 2008 shooting in Iraq that partially blinded a Navy corpsman.

Detroit man drove cross-country with corpse in front seat: reports

- A Detroit-area man kept driving on a road trip from Arizona to Michigan even after he discovered his front-seat passenger was dead, media reports said on Wednesday.

Florida facing threat from two mosquito-borne diseases

ORLANDO Fla. - Two mosquito-borne diseases - dengue fever and chikungunya - are posing a serious threat to Florida and residents should take steps to control mosquito populations to try to limit the danger, a leading health expert said on Wednesday.

Lawsuit calling isolation in California prisons torture moves forward

SACRAMENTO Calif. - A lawsuit contending California's practice of keeping prisoners in near-solitary confinement for years is unconstitutional moved forward on Wednesday at a hearing to clarify the issues that will be heard and set dates for an upcoming trial.

German nuclear waste may be headed to South Carolina site

CHARLESTON S.C. - The U.S. Department of Energy said on Wednesday it will study the environmental risk of importing spent nuclear fuel from Germany that contains highly enriched uranium, a move believed to be the first for the United States.

Australian man avoids prison in online poker sentencing in U.S

NEW YORK - An Australian man avoided prison when he was sentenced on Wednesday in New York for illegally processing gambling proceeds through U.S. banks for several major Internet betting sites.

San Francisco transit worker sick-out loses momentum

- A sick-out by San Francisco transit workers who have stayed off the job to show distaste for a contract offer lost steam on Wednesday, as most buses and trains were running and officials made plans to restart the city's famed cable cars.

Judge tosses lawsuit from dog breeder cleared of poisoning

NEW YORK - A defamation lawsuit brought against the American Kennel Club by a dog breeder accused of poisoning a competitor's canine at an Illinois dog show has been thrown out, according to court records made public on Wednesday.

Pennsylvania lawmakers weigh adopting official state firearm

HARRISBURG Pa. - Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday moved closer to adopting the long rifle as the official state firearm, a step already taken by four other U.S. states.

Feds, Georgia to probe police drug raid that burned toddler

ATLANTA - Law enforcement authorities in Georgia said on Tuesday they are investigating police tactics in the case of a 19-month-old boy who was severely burned last week by a "flash bang" grenade tossed into a house to distract a drug suspect during a raid.

U.S. border agents nab disguised truck, $1.6 million in marijuana

PHOENIX - A truck made to resemble a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service vehicle that contained $1.6 million worth of marijuana has been seized by Border Patrol agents in Arizona near the Mexican border, authorities said on Wednesday.

Two of three remote California counties vote against secession

SACRAMENTO Calif. - Long-shot efforts by a trio of remote Northern California counties to begin the process of seceding from the most populous U.S. state failed on Tuesday in two referendums and succeeded in one.

Crowd turns out in Philadelphia to mourn, honor Lewis Katz

PHILADELPHIA - A celebrity-studded crowd turned out on Wednesday to mourn Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner and philanthropist Lewis Katz, who was killed in a weekend plane crash.

Florida man charged with impersonating cop after pulling over real detective

- A Florida man pretending to be a law enforcement officer faces charges after he pulled over a real detective, authorities said.

Idaho hometown of newly freed soldier cancels planned celebration

HAILEY Idaho - The hometown of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has canceled a rally planned for later this month celebrating his release from five years of Taliban captivity, a municipal official told Reuters on Wednesday, amid allegations that he was a deserter.

Last of Navajo 'code talkers' dies in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. - The last of 29 Navajo Americans who developed an unbreakable code that helped Allied forces win the second World War died in New Mexico on Wednesday of kidney failure at the age of 93.

New Jersey parents charged after toddler found amid heroin, knives

- Police arrested a New Jersey couple after their toddler was found asleep on a mattress that was covering up bags of heroin and weapons, authorities said on Wednesday.

Man arrested for allegedly offering teen pills on flight to Texas

HOUSTON - A man on a JetBlue flight from New York to Houston has been arrested on suspicion of offering a controlled substance to a teenage passenger during the journey, Houston police said on Wednesday.

Keystone XL pipeline vulnerable to attacks, NextGen study says

WASHINGTON - The Keystone XL oil pipeline project would be vulnerable to attacks that could cause heavy crude to be spilled in farm regions dependent on fresh water, according to a report by NextGen Climate, a political group led by billionaire activist Tom Steyer.

Storm system moves east after battering central United States

CHICAGO - A nasty storm system that has pelted homes and cars with hail up to the size of a baseball in the central Plains and caused flash floods is expected to bring high winds, more hail and possible tornadoes to the Ohio Valley on Wednesday, forecasters said.

Ohio woman dies after walking into propeller at regional airport

- An office worker at an Ohio regional airport has died from head injuries she sustained after walking into a spinning airplane propeller, authorities said on Wednesday.

More than 100 arrested in Harlem in largest-ever NYC gang bust

NEW YORK - More than 100 members of three feuding gangs were arrested in Harlem on Wednesday in what was described as the largest indictment of gang members in New York City's history, a person familiar with the investigation said.

5.7-magnitude earthquake hits southern Alaska

WASHINGTON - A 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook a remote part of southern Alaska on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Connecticut teen accused stabbing classmate due in court

MILFORD Conn. - A Connecticut high-school student accused of stabbing to death a 16-year-old female classmate hours before their junior prom in late April is due in court on Wednesday for a hearing on whether there is enough evidence to move forward with his case.

Kyrgyzstan citizen charged in Boston bombing probe due in court

BOSTON - A Kyrgyzstan citizen charged with hampering the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing by denying details of his relationship with the suspects is due in court Wednesday for a hearing on whether he should be released on bail.

California voters support plan to spend $600 million for homeless veterans

BERKELEY Calif. - California residents have voted for a plan to spend $600 million to build houses for homeless veterans in the state with the highest number of ex-servicemen without a roof in the United States.

Freed soldier faces backlash in Idaho hometown over desertion claims

HAILEY Idaho - A hometown celebration of Bowe Bergdahl's release from five years of Taliban captivity in Afghanistan will go on this month as planned, despite a growing backlash against the U.S. Army sergeant over allegations he was a deserter, friends and supporters say.

Hours-long manhunt of armed New Hampshire man ends with suspect in custody

- An hours-long manhunt for an armed New Hampshire man, who stole a police vehicle and rammed it into another before fleeing into some woods, ended on Tuesday night with his arrest at his home, police said.

California primary kicks off divisive election season for Democrats

SACRAMENTO Calif. - Californians headed to the polls on Tuesday for a primary election highlighting divisions in the state's dominant Democratic party, as incumbent labor-backed candidates fought reformers positioning themselves to take on unions in several races.

Guantanamo prisoner demands 'civilized' force-feedings: court filing

WASHINGTON - A Syrian prisoner at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said in a court petition on Tuesday that his force-feedings amounted to torture and asked a judge to order his jailers to make them "civilized."

Bomb threat charge dropped for Boston Marathon hoax suspect

- Prosecutors have dropped a bomb threat charge against a man who was arrested in April for walking through the finish area of the Boston Marathon carrying a black backpack on the anniversary of the 2013 attack, officials said on Tuesday.

NY man arrested over attack of woman behind Clippers scandal

NEW YORK - A Long Island, New York, man was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the weekend assault of V. Stiviano, the woman who recorded Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks that got him banned from the NBA.

Tape shows Hawaiian pilot was skeptical about teen stowaway

HONOLULU - Shortly after a teenager clambered out of an airliner's wheel well at the end of a flight from California, a pilot on the plane questioned whether the stowaway had really made the death-defying journey, an audio recording released on Tuesday showed.

Storms with large hail and tornadoes roll through U.S. central states

CHICAGO - Severe storms pounded parts of the central United States on Tuesday producing baseball-sized hail, unconfirmed reports of several tornado touchdowns and a line of intense, dangerous winds known as a derecho, weather forecasters said.

Jurors in Colorado theater massacre case can be quizzed on insanity defense

DENVER - Attorneys for the gunman who claims he was insane when he killed 12 people inside a Colorado cinema in 2012 can ask potential jurors about their views on the insanity defense, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

Hundreds arrested in New Jersey heroin sweep

- More than 300 people have been arrested in a heroin sweep in northern New Jersey that netted more than $350,000 worth of the drug, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Saudi airman convicted in rape of boy in Las Vegas seeks new trial

- Attorneys for a Saudi Air Force sergeant convicted last year in the rape of a 13-year-old boy at a Las Vegas hotel have asked the judge for a new trial, saying that a key witness has recanted his trial testimony.

San Francisco 'sickout' by transit workers continues to stall commuters

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco's bus and train system was snarled for a second day on Tuesday, despite more drivers reporting for work amid a sickout to protest stalled contract talks, officials said.

Arizona congressional candidate takes on Cesar Chavez name

PHOENIX - Mexican-American labor leader Cesar Chavez may have died 21 years ago, but his name will live on thanks to a political unknown apparently trying to capitalize on his legacy.

Clash over Taliban release unlikely to be resolved in U.S. courts

WASHINGTON - Republican allegations that President Barack Obama broke the law when he freed five Taliban prisoners in return for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl are unlikely to be tested in court because judges are reluctant to intervene in political disputes, legal experts said.

Georgia banker who faked his own death makes plea deal

ATLANTA - A former Georgia bank director who left a suicide note and vanished for a year and a half while under suspicion of embezzling $21 million has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors, an official said on Tuesday.

Alaska volcano erupts with new intensity, prompting 'red' alert

JUNEAU Alaska - An Alaska volcano that has been spewing ash and lava for years began erupting with new intensity this week, pushing a plume of smoke and ash as high as 24,000 feet (7,315 meters) and prompting scientists to issue their highest volcanic alert in five years, authorities said on Tuesday.

Airbnb testing group dinners for strangers

SAN FRANCISCO - Airbnb, a San Francisco startup that has grown into a $10 billion business by letting strangers share their homes for a fee, now wants to do the same for the dinner table.

Homes of former Utah attorneys general searched in criminal probe

SALT LAKE CITY - Federal and state investigators have searched the homes of two former Utah attorneys general as part of a probe into alleged criminal wrongdoing in the state's top law enforcement office, authorities said on Tuesday.

Colorado police arrest teen, girlfriend in murder of grandparents

DENVER - The dismembered remains of a Colorado woman missing since her husband was discovered dead last week have been found, and the couple's teenage grandson and girlfriend have been arrested in connection with the slayings, authorities said on Tuesday.

Brakes applied on plane that crashed in Massachusetts

BOSTON - The brakes of a private jet that caught fire and crashed as it tried to take off on Saturday, killing seven people near Boston, had been applied at the time of the accident, a U.S. transportation official said on Tuesday.

California PR man arrested after bomb materials found: FBI

SAN FRANCISCO - Bomb materials found in the apartment of a San Francisco public relations consultant arrested after a manhunt included equipment that could have allowed him to detonate a device from afar, court papers showed on Tuesday.

Exclusive: Guinea-Bissau's ex-navy chief pleads guilty in U.S. drug case

NEW YORK - Guinea-Bissau's former navy chief, captured in a high-profile drug sting on the West African coast, has secretly pleaded guilty ahead of a trial on charges he conspired to import narcotics into the United States, court sources said on Tuesday.

In Wisconsin stabbing, accused girls describe Internet bogeyman

MILWAUKEE - Almost immediately after stabbing her classmate in the woods in suburban Milwaukee at the weekend, Anissa Weier, 12, had some regrets, according to a criminal complaint charging her and another 12-year-old girl with attempted murder.

Maryland postal worker accused of stealing 20,000 pieces of mail

ANNAPOLIS Md. - A U.S. postal carrier and horror story writer from Maryland has been charged by federal authorities with stealing more than 20,000 pieces of mail, according to court records.

Female U.S. soldier describes prostitution ring recruitment

- A female soldier testified before a military panel in Texas on Tuesday that she was recruited into a prostitution ring by a superior at Fort Hood, one of the largest Army bases in the United States, according to a local TV report.

UAW hikes dues for first time since 1967 to bolster strike fund

DETROIT - The United Auto Workers union raised its membership dues for the first time since 1967 on Tuesday, hiking them 25 percent to replenish a depleted fund to support workers who go out on strike.

Fired Louisiana salesman accused of shooting boss with stun gun

NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana door-to-door steak salesman shot his boss with a stun gun after being caught selling weapons while he was supposed to be hawking meat, police said Tuesday.

Lawyers for Pennsylvania 'Craigslist killer' suspect challenge warrant

SUNBURY PA - Attorneys for the woman dubbed the "Craigslist killer" attempted on Tuesday to challenge a police warrant used in a search that turned up a knife believed to be the murder weapon.

FBI starts U.S. campaign to deter lasers being aimed at aircraft

TAMPA Fla. - The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday it will pay up to $10,000 for tips leading to arrests of pranksters who point handheld lasers at aircraft, part of a national campaign to crack down on a growing threat known as "lasing."

Body found near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge after sailboat mishap

SAN FRANCISCO - Authorities scouring the San Francisco Bay for a person missing since a sailboat was found capsized on Monday on rocks east of the Golden Gate Bridge found a body in the area, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Tuesday.

Paleontologist gets three months in prison for dinosaur bone smuggling

NEW YORK - A paleontologist who prosecutors called a "a one-man black market in prehistoric fossils" was sentenced on Tuesday to three months in prison after he admitted to having schemed to smuggle dinosaur remains out of Mongolia.

Accused Boston bombers used Cambridge arsenal in final fight: prosecutors

BOSTON - The ethnic Chechen brothers accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing returned to their family's Cambridge, Massachusetts, apartment to gather weapons after the FBI released photos of the duo three days after the attack, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Quality Egg admits to selling tainted eggs, bribing official

CHICAGO - Quality Egg LLC and two top executives on Tuesday admitted to selling substandard eggs containing a "poisonous" substance and bribing a federal inspector in a food-safety scandal that sickened tens of thousands, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Regulators warn parents to stop using 'Nap Nanny' after sixth death

NEW YORK - U.S. safety experts on Tuesday warned families to stop using an infant recliner called the "Nap Nanny" after discovering a sixth death has been tied to the product.

Chicago sues painkiller makers for deceptive marketing

- The city of Chicago has filed a lawsuit against five large narcotics makers alleging they contributed to the country’s prescription drug epidemic by deceptively promoting their painkillers.

Prominent advocate for Texas Democrat women dies in car crash

DALLAS - The executive director of Annie’s List, a Texas advocacy group that is a strong supporter of Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and other Democratic women politicians, was killed in a car accident in the Dallas area, the group said on Tuesday.

Florida officials take custody of child protection worker's kids

ORLANDO Fla. - Florida child protection investigators took custody of six children from one of their co-workers whose house was raided by narcotics agents, authorities reported.

Tunisian accused of train plot link admits lying to officials

NEW YORK - A Tunisian man accused of ties to an unsuccessful plot to derail a Canada-U.S. passenger train on Tuesday accepted a plea offer in federal court that includes no terrorism charges.

Judge lets conspiracy charge stand in fatal Philadelphia cave-in

PHILADELPHIA - Two men accused in a deadly Philadelphia building collapse battled criminal charges in court on Tuesday, two days shy of the anniversary of the cave-in that killed six people and badly injured several others.

Arizona abortion drug restrictions to stay blocked pending appeal

PHOENIX - Enforcement of Arizona regulations curbing access to abortion-inducing drugs by prohibiting off-label uses of the medication will remain on hold while a legal challenge to those rules proceeds under judicial review, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

Iowa egg firm expected to plead guilty, pay $6.8 million fine

CHICAGO - An Iowa company has agreed to plead guilty and pay about $6.8 million in fines for selling contaminated eggs that were linked with making nearly 62,000 people sick in a massive nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2010, according to consent agreements filed in federal court.

Florida judge, public defender fight after courtroom argument

ORLANDO Fla. - A Florida judge is accused of punching an assistant public defender after telling him "stop pissing me off."

For fallen soldiers' families, Bergdahl release stirs resentment

WASHINGTON - Robert Andrews believes his own son might still be alive if U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had not gone missing from his Afghan guard post on June 30, 2009.

U.S. Justice Department to probe conditions at Mississippi jail

JACKSON Miss. - The U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday it will investigate a Mississippi detention center's treatment of inmates after a riot in March killed one prisoner and injured several others.

NSA chief says agency not collecting visual images of U.S. people

WASHINGTON - The U.S. National Security Agency is not routinely collecting visual images of people in the United States or mining photographs taken for U.S. drivers' licenses, the four-star U.S. Navy admiral who runs the spy agency said on Tuesday.

Church group removes Alabama billboard quoting Hitler

BIRMINGHAM Ala. - A billboard featuring a quote from Adolf Hitler next to pictures of five smiling children was taken down on Tuesday in the city of Auburn, Alabama at the request of the church group that bought it after the sign drew criticism.

Small plane crashes near McDonald’s drive-thru in Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS - A small plane crashed into a northern Louisiana McDonald’s parking lot near the drive-thru on Tuesday, injuring the pilot and wrecking a car, an airport official said.

U.S. revives group to fight homegrown extremists: officials

WASHINGTON - The United States is re-establishing a law enforcement group to fight those it designates as domestic terrorists, with an announcement expected on Tuesday, Department of Justice officials said.

U.S. central states brace for severe storms, possible tornadoes

CHICAGO - The central United States braced for severe thunderstorms that could produce tornadoes and baseball-sized hail on Tuesday, weather forecasters said.

Two killed, 21 injured after logging truck spills load in Arkansas

- Two people were killed and 21 others injured after a truck hauling logs lost control on a hill in Arkansas and dumped its load on a crew of construction workers building a bridge, law enforcement officials said on Tuesday.

U.S. Army soldier in military court over suspected prostitution ring

AUSTIN Texas - A U.S. Army soldier appeared before a military panel on Tuesday to answer accusations that he operated a prostitution ring with at least three female soldiers at Fort Hood, one of the largest Army bases in the United States. 

Friend of accused Boston bomber due back on witness stand

BOSTON - A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber is due back on the stand on Tuesday as his attorneys try to prove his early statements to police should not be heard at his upcoming trial on charges of obstructing the probe into the deadly blasts.

Donald Sterling sued over alleged sexual harassment of former aide

- A lawsuit filed on Monday against Donald Sterling accuses the embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner of repeatedly subjecting a woman who worked for him to sexual demands and racist comments and says he ultimately fired her when she protested.

Seattle approves hike in minimum wage to $15 per hour

SEATTLE - The Seattle city council voted unanimously on Monday to approve a sharp increase in the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next seven years, marking the first time a major U.S. city has committed to such a high base level of pay.

Ex-Brooklyn district attorney may have misused public funds -report

NEW YORK - An investigation into former six-term Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes found his office spent more than $200,000 in seized criminal funds on consultant services for his failed reelection campaign last year, a report said on Monday.

Auction of skull of Civil War soldier found at Gettysburg canceled

HARRISBURG Pa. - Facing wide criticism, including from the National Parks Service, an auction house has canceled plans to sell the skull of a Civil War soldier and military relics found near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

California consultant described as armed and dangerous arrested: FBI

SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco public relations consultant who was the subject of a nationwide manhunt after federal authorities found explosive materials in a weekend raid on his apartment was arrested late on Monday, officials said.

White powder scare at Minnesota governor's mansion

MINNEAPOLIS - Two employees at the Minnesota governor's mansion were decontaminated as a precaution on Monday after staff members opened a letter and found a small amount of white powder, a state spokesman said.

Six shot at Chicago laundry facility

- Six people, two of them teens, were shot and another person was injured at a laundromat on Chicago's South Side on Monday evening, officials said.

Missouri man admits bogus threats to city water supplies

KANSAS CITY Mo. - A Missouri man pleaded guilty on Monday to making bogus telephone reports in October that water supplies would be contaminated in four cities in Missouri and Kansas.

Bear badly mauls hunter in Montana

- A man who was hunting for bears with his father in a remote corner of southwestern Montana had the tables turned on him when he was mauled by a bruin over the weekend, state wildlife officials said on Monday.

Seattle approves hike in minimum wage to $15 per hour

SEATTLE - The Seattle city council voted unanimously on Monday to approve a sharp increase in the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next seven years, marking the first time a major U.S. city has committed to such a high base level of pay.

Transgender man sues NY City over locker room access

New York, Reuters - A transgender man has sued the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation for discrimination, saying staff at a public pool told him to use the women's locker room.

Intel VP among six Mt. Rainier climbers missing and presumed dead

SAN FRANCISCO - An Intel vice president is among six climbers missing and presumed dead in the worst accident in three decades on Washington's Mount Rainier, the company said on Monday as search efforts for the group were scaled back.

Police arrest protesters who stormed Albuquerque mayor's office

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. - Police in New Mexico arrested more than a dozen protesters including a University of New Mexico professor who stormed and briefly occupied the Albuquerque mayor's office on Monday in a demonstration against what they called police brutality.

Acting VA chief vows to get U.S. veterans into clinics, stop abuses

WASHINGTON - The acting chief of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday pledged to swiftly address medical scheduling abuses at the agency and get thousands of veterans off waiting lists and into clinics for care.

Virginia group hoists second huge Confederate flag along highway

RICHMOND Va. - Motorists traveling a major Virginia highway now have a second supersized Confederate flag to catch their attention, even though the first banner drew protests and debate.

Wisconsin girls, 12, charged with trying to kill classmate

MILWAUKEE - Two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls were charged as adults with attempted murder on Monday after authorities said they lured a middle school classmate into the woods in a Milwaukee suburb and stabbed her 19 times in an attack inspired by a horror website.

Republicans demand hearings in Congress over soldier's release

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama set a dangerous precedent by swapping five Taliban prisoners for a captured U.S. soldier in Afghanistan and may have broken the law, members of Congress said on Monday as they pressed for public hearings on the issue.

Years after shooting, ex-U.S. Marine faces trial in unusual case

NEW YORK - Navy corpsman Michael Carpeso, Marine Corporal Wilfredo Santiago and an Iraqi translator known as "Hollywood" were alone in a trailer at a Marine station in Iraq on Jan. 26, 2008 when a bullet tore through Carpeso's head, leaving him partially blind and unable to recall the incident.

Seattle approves hike in minimum wage to $15 per hour

SEATTLE - The Seattle city council voted unanimously on Monday to approve a hike in the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour, to be phased in over the next seven years.

Dropout charged in Connecticut college bomb threat appears in court

MILFORD Conn. - A college dropout accused of calling in bomb threats to a commencement ceremony in Connecticut to keep her family from learning she was not graduating made her first court appearance on Monday since her arrest and arraignment last month.

At D-Day event, Obama to connect World War Two, Sept. 11 veterans

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will draw a connection between the "Greatest Generation" that fought in World War Two to the "9/11 generation" that emerged after the Sept. 11 attacks when he marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion this week.

Texas woman arrested on suspicion of shooting her caged dog

DALLAS - Police in Texas have arrested a 44-year-old woman on suspicion of shooting dead her caged dog that had just given birth to a litter of puppies because she was "growing agitated" with her pet, police said on Monday.

Teen accused of Pennsylvania school stabbing waives preliminary hearing

PHILADELPHIA - The teen accused of a stabbing spree at a Pittsburgh-area high school in April that injured 20 students and a security guard waived his preliminary hearing on Monday and is headed for trial on charges of attempted murder, according to court documents.

Texas gun groups clash with NRA on armed protests in public spaces

DALLAS - Texas gun rights groups that have toted rifles and shotguns in public in campaigns to show support for the open carrying of weapons blasted the NRA on Monday for calling those appeals "foolish" and "counterproductive."

Man plotted to kill returning U.S. soldiers, government says

BROCKPORT N.Y. - The owner of a western New York food market faced accusations in court on Monday that he illegally bought guns to shoot and kill members of the U.S. military returning from Iraq, according to official documents.

Bay Area commuters face delays as transit workers call in sick

SAN FRANCISCO - Bay Area commuters were left stranded or facing long delays on Monday when many San Francisco transit workers called in sick just days after a vote on a new contract, bringing the city's cable cars to a halt.

Republicans demand hearings in Congress over soldier's release

WASHINGTON - Republican lawmakers angered by a White House deal to swap five Taliban prisoners for a captured U.S. soldier in Afghanistan on Monday demanded hearings over why the Obama administration reached the agreement without consulting Congress.

Envelope with white powder prompts scare at Minnesota governor's mansion

MINNEAPOLIS - Two employees at the Minnesota governor's mansion were decontaminated as a precaution on Monday after staff members opened a letter and found a small amount of white powder, a state spokesman said.

Skull of Civil War soldier found at Gettysburg to be auctioned

HARRISBURG Pa. - The skull of a Civil War soldier and military relics found near the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, battlefield are scheduled to be sold at auction on Tuesday, to the dismay of some historians.

Grieving fathers linked by California massacre meet privately

LOS ANGELES - A grieving father calling for tougher gun laws since his son was shot dead in a recent California killing spree spoke face to face over the weekend with the anguished father of the young man who committed the slayings and took his own life.

FBI issues alert for California consultant described as dangerous

SAN FRANCISCO - The FBI has issued a nationwide alert for a San Francisco public relations consultant described as armed and dangerous after federal authorities found explosive materials in a weekend raid on the man's apartment, authorities said on Monday.

Georgia police officer shot to death making arrest at Waffle House

ATLANTA - A Georgia police officer moonlighting as a security guard was shot to death after attempting to arrest an intoxicated customer in the parking lot of a Waffle House restaurant, police said.

Deejay Casey Kasem in stable condition in Washington

LOS ANGELES - Radio personality Casey Kasem, whose family has been locked in a legal battle over his care, is in stable condition in a Washington State hospital, the spokesman for the deejay's children said on Monday.

With two kids inside, wind tosses bounce house across Colorado field

DENVER - Two children were slightly hurt when a blast of wind sent an inflatable bounce house tumbling hundreds of feet across a field in Colorado over the weekend, a sheriff's department spokesman said on Monday.

Mannequin in Obama mask hung from Missouri bridge

KANSAS CITY Mo. - A fully clothed mannequin wearing a President Barack Obama mask was discovered hanging by a rope from a highway overpass in the Kansas City area on Monday, police said.

Unruly passenger forces New York-bound plane to divert to Memphis

NEW YORK - A United Airlines flight to New York from Houston was forced to make an emergency stop in Memphis when an unruly passenger got into a physical skirmish with the crew, officials said on Monday.

Envelope with white powder prompts scare at Minnesota governor's mansion

MINNEAPOLIS - Fire crews were called on Monday to the Minnesota governor's residence in St. Paul, Minnesota, after staff members opened a letter and found what turned out to be a small amount of non-threatening white powder, a state spokesman said.

Retailers to ask Supreme Court to hear 'swipe fee' case: counsel

WASHINGTON - A group of retail merchants will ask the Supreme Court to hear an appeal involving Federal Reserve rules that allow banks to charge debit card 'swipe fees' that retailers view as too high, an attorney for the merchants said on Monday.

Retired NY cop kills wife, leaves body on bedroom floor: police

NEW YORK - A retired police officer strangled his wife during a fight and left her body on the floor of their bedroom for several days in central New York, authorities said on Monday.

Ex-Charlotte, North Carolina mayor to plead guilty in corruption case

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. - The former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina's largest city, is expected to plead guilty on Tuesday in a federal public corruption case that prompted his resignation after less than four months in office, court documents show.

Cuban agent urges prisoner swap for U.S. contractor like Afghan deal

HAVANA - A Cuban intelligence officer recently released from a U.S. prison said on Monday that a similar deal to the one that freed U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl should be negotiated in the case of jailed U.S. contractor Alan Gross and three Cuban agents behind bars in the United States.

GM finalizes number of vehicles in air bag recall of large trucks

DETROIT - General Motors Co on Monday finalized the number of newer-model large pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles it is recalling because the air bags may not deploy, lowering the number of affected vehicles.

Supreme court declines to hear NYT journalist leak case

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to weigh whether journalists have special free speech protections that allow them to avoid being forced to testify in government leak cases.

Attacker stabs two children in NYC elevator, killing one

NEW YORK - A man with a kitchen knife stabbed two young children, one fatally, in an elevator in a New York City apartment building on Sunday evening, police said.

Dropout charged in Connecticut college bomb threats due in court

MILFORD Conn. - A Connecticut college dropout accused of calling in bomb threats before a commencement ceremony to keep her family from learning she was not graduating was due in court on Monday.

Pittsburgh Zoo, parents settle over toddler's mauling death

- The family of a 2-year-old boy who was mauled to death by African wild dogs at the Pittsburgh Zoo have reached a legal settlement with the institution, officials said on Monday.

U.S. top court tosses woman's chemical weapons conviction

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the federal government wrongly used a chemical weapons law to prosecute a Pennsylvania microbiologist convicted of trying to poison her husband's pregnant lover.

Next up at the ballot box: Undreaming California

SAN FRANCISCO - Creating the state of California took a revolt that led to the short-lived Bear Republic, a war with Mexico, and various international treaties. Now, some northern natives hope to take it apart, starting with a couple of ballot initiatives.

U.S. to unveil sweeping rules to cut power plant pollution

WASHINGTON - The U.S. power sector will need to emit 30 percent less carbon dioxide by 2030 than it did in 2005, according to new federal regulations - the centerpiece of the Obama administration's climate change strategy - to be unveiled on Monday.

Accused Boston bomber's friend due to speak in court

BOSTON - A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber charged with obstructing the probe of the deadly blasts is expected to tell a judge on Monday that his statements - after being taken to the police station half naked and in handcuffs - were not voluntary.

FDA calculates costs of lost enjoyment if e-cigarette rules prevent smoking

NEW YORK - As U.S. health regulators consider what rules to impose on electronic cigarettes, in their tally of costs and benefits they have placed a value on the lost pleasure consumers may suffer if they used the products less or not at all.

Limited search planned for missing Mount Rainier climbers

- A planned search for six climbers believed to have fallen to their deaths while ascending Washington's Mount Rainier will be scaled back due to dangerous conditions, a park spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Republicans question U.S. prisoner swap with Taliban

WASHINGTON - U.S. politicians questioned whether the deal that freed Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban militants amounted to a negotiation with terrorists as the U.S. soldier was flown out of Afghanistan to a military hospital in Germany on Sunday.

Maryland man arrested in 'bottle bomb' attack at movie theater

Annapolis Maryland - A Maryland man suspected in a spate of "bottle bomb" incidents at movie theaters in the Washington, D.C., area has been arrested and charged with tossing an improvised explosive device into a cinema last month, officials said on Sunday.

Dangerous conditions hold up search for missing Mount Rainier hikers

- Ice and rock falls and poor visibility are likely to hold up for several days a search for six climbers believed to have fallen to their deaths while ascending Washington's Mount Rainier, a park official said Sunday.

Sonic, Chili's ask customers to keep guns out of restaurants

- Two national chain restaurants have asked that customers refrain from bringing firearms into their establishments, saying the weapons can create an uncomfortable atmosphere for other diners.

Maryland police kill man with pellet gun resembling assault rifle

ANNAPOLIS Md. - Maryland police early on Friday killed a 20-year-old man armed with a pellet gun that looked like an assault rifle, a police spokeswoman said.

Senator plans bill to offer military veterans option on medical care

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said on Sunday he will introduce legislation this week that would offer military veterans the option of private medical care, rather than endure long waits at facilities under the troubled Veterans Affairs Department.

As many as four people missing after boat sinks off Chicago

- As many as four people were missing and two others were rescued after a power boat capsized and sank in chilly waters near Chicago, the Coast Guard said on Sunday.

Jacques Cousteau's grandson starts planned 31-day undersea stay

MIAMI - Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famed oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, descended on Sunday for a planned month-long undersea stay in laboratory off Florida, attempting to break a record for a similar sojourn set by his grandfather a half century ago.

Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner among seven dead in Massachusetts plane crash

- Lewis Katz, the co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, was among seven people killed when a private jet caught fire and crashed as it tried to take off near Boston, the newspaper said Sunday.

Private jet catches fire on takeoff in Massachusetts, seven dead

- Seven people were killed on Saturday when a private Gulfstream IV jet caught fire and crashed as it tried to take off from a small airfield near Boston, aviation authorities said.

Family, hometown celebrate U.S. soldier's release from Taliban

HAILEY Idaho - Balloons, symbolic yellow ribbons and celebratory signs sprouted up in the small mountain community of Hailey, Idaho, on Saturday after news that native son U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had been freed after almost five years as a prisoner of the Taliban.

Gunman kills Virginia police officer, teenager in shooting spree

- A gunman in Norfolk, Virginia, shot a passing motorist to death and killed a police officer in a shooting spree before dying in a struggle with another officer on Friday night, authorities said on Saturday.

Six climbers feared dead on Washington's Mount Rainier

SEATTLE - Six climbers who disappeared three days ago on Washington's Mount Rainier are not expected to be found alive, the National Parks Service said on Saturday after search teams found their scattered gear.

U.S. soldier freed in Afghanistan, five Taliban prisoners leave Guantanamo

WASHINGTON - The last U.S. prisoner of war from America's waning Afghan war was handed over to U.S. Special Operations forces in Afghanistan on Saturday in a dramatic swap for five Taliban detainees who were released from Guantanamo Bay prison and flown to Qatar.

Six climbers missing on Washington's Mount Rainier

SEATTLE - A search is under way for six climbers missing on Washington's Mount Rainier since Wednesday, the National Parks Service said on Saturday.

Requiem for a row house: Philadelphia neighborhood sees off old home

PHILADELPHIA - By the time the funeral started on a Philadelphia street, all the folding seats were full and a standing room-only crowd had begun to gather.

Virginia man with stolen Sandy Hook memorial signs is arrested

- A Virginia man who claims the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut never took place has been arrested after stolen memorial signs for two 7-year-old victims were found in his home, police said.

Obama accepts veterans affairs chief resignation with 'regret'

WASHINGTON - U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned on Friday after a political firestorm over widespread delays in veterans' medical care, leaving President Barack Obama with a freer hand to address systemic problems bedeviling the agency.

U.S. soldier free after almost five years captivity in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held for nearly five years by the Taliban after being captured in Afghanistan, has been released and is now in U.S. custody, President Barack Obama said on Saturday.

California police unaware student had firearms before killings: report

- Authorities did not know that Elliot Rodger, whose shooting rampage left six dead and more than a dozen injured in a California college town, owned firearms despite three interactions with the police within the year, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Former California military academy head hit with new sex assault charges

SAN DIEGO California - New sexual abuse charges against a former top administrator of a southern California military boarding school for boys were unsealed on Friday in a California state court.

U.S. to miss deadline for removing nuclear waste from Los Alamos

- The U.S. Department of Energy on Friday said it would be unable to meet a deadline to remove drums of nuclear waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico because of safety concerns tied to the radiological materials.

California man returns $125K dropped from armored car

- A California man who found a bag containing $125,000 said he returned the cash to the armored truck company that accidentally dropped it because it was the "right thing to do."

Nevada ranchers stage horseback rally against federal land policy

- About 70 cattlemen and ranchers, half on horseback, rallied at the steps of Nevada's state Capitol on Friday to protest against federal control of grazing lands, complaining of cuts made in the number of cattle allowed to graze this year.

Colorado judge rebuffs death penalty challenges in theater massacre case

DENVER - A Colorado judge overseeing the murder case against the gunman charged with killing 12 moviegoers has denied the latest efforts by defense lawyers to have the state’s death penalty law ruled unconstitutional, court documents show.

State Department says U.S. citizen was suicide bomber in Syria

WASHINGTON - The U.S. State Department on Friday confirmed that an American citizen had carried out a suicide bombing in Syria.

Police investigate string of sexual assaults in Philadelphia

- Police in Philadelphia said on Friday they believe the same man is responsible for a string of sexual assaults in Northeast Philadelphia that have grown increasingly violent with each incident.

Retiring UAW chief sees road paved for union gains in South

DETROIT - Retiring United Auto Workers President Bob King said that while he did not achieve his goal of organizing a foreign-owned auto plant on U.S. soil, he believes he laid the groundwork for more than one to be brought into the union fold in the next president's term.

Argentina says no plan to evade U.S. courts in creditor case

NEW YORK - Argentina's lawyers sought Friday to assure a U.S. judge it would not evade orders to pay $1.33 billion to bondholders who refused to accept its debt-restructuring offers if the U.S. Supreme Court declines the case.

NBA moves on Clippers sale, Sterling sues for $1 billion

LOS ANGELES - The National Basketball Association said on Friday that it has reached an agreement with the estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team, opening a new chapter for the franchise after 33 years under Sterling.

Cleveland police officer indicted in fatal shooting after chase

CLEVELAND - A Cleveland police officer was indicted on Friday on charges of shooting and killing two unarmed suspects after a lengthy high-speed car chase in 2012, prosecutors said.

State Department says U.S. citizen was suicide bomber in Syria

WASHINGTON - The U.S. State Department on Friday confirmed that an American citizen carried out a suicide bombing in Syria.

One dead after restaurant interior collapses in New Jersey

NEW YORK - Falling rubble killed one construction worker and another was seriously injured when the interior of a restaurant collapsed in Maplewood, New Jersey, on Friday, the fire department said.

Five New Jersey teens accused of printing counterfeit cash

- Five New Jersey teens accused of making counterfeit money didn't exactly live the high life with their phony cash, using it to buy doughnuts and school lunch, police said on Friday.

Pennsylvania man accused in theft of human skin from hospital

- A Pennsylvania man is facing charges that he stole human skin worth about $350,000 from a Philadelphia hospital over a period of nearly two years, police said.

Missouri man had right to shred U.S. flag: U.S. appeals court

KANSAS CITY Mo. - A Missouri man who shredded an American flag in front of his home out of anger over not being able to get a job had a constitutional right to do so, a U.S. appeals court said on Friday.

California school guard faces felony for attack on wheelchair-bound teen

SAN FRANCISCO - A California school security guard is facing a felony child abuse charge over accusations he attacked a disabled student in his wheelchair at a high school in the Bay Area city of Oakland this month, a school spokesman said on Friday.

New Jersey water park apologizes for Amber Alert pun in promotion

- A New Jersey water park apologized for using a pun on the Amber Alert system for tracking down abducted and missing children in a promotional email aimed at attracting customers.

Los Angeles college evacuated after report of man with gun

LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles college and nearby occupational center were being evacuated and locked down on Friday after reports that a missing and suicidal man could be armed and in the vicinity, police said.

Passenger who forced Detroit airport lockdown cited, released

- A man accused of breaching a security checkpoint at Detroit's main airport, causing a nearly three-hour lockdown, was released on Friday after posting a bond, an official said.

Fourteen charged in Ohio college hazing after pledge injured

- Fourteen men have been charged with misdemeanors in a hazing incident that left a fraternity pledge at a small southwestern Ohio college seriously injured, prosecutors said on Friday.

Maryland man sentenced to five years for lengthy dine-and-dash binge

ANNAPOLIS Md. - A Baltimore man who police say routinely scammed restaurants by eating and then faking a seizure to get out of paying his bill was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.

Six rare monkeys die mysteriously at Oregon Zoo

PORTLAND Ore. - Six cotton-top tamarin monkeys died unexpectedly soon after their arrival at the Oregon Zoo, following the death of an orangutan that led to the firing of the zoo's director, officials said on Friday.

Arizona judge rejects bid to nix death penalty for Jodi Arias

PHOENIX - An Arizona judge has again turned down a bid by convicted murderer Jodi Arias to be spared the death penalty during her sentencing retrial for killing her ex-boyfriend in 2008, court documents showed on Friday.

One dead after restaurant interior collapses in New Jersey

MAPLEWOOD New Jersey - Falling rubble killed one construction worker and another was seriously injured when the interior of a restaurant collapsed in Maplewood, New Jersey, on Friday, a fire department official said.

Florida continues to lead U.S. in identity, tax fraud

MIAMI - Despite efforts by federal officials to crack down on rampant identity theft linked to hundreds of millions of dollars of fraudulently claimed tax refunds, South Florida continues to lead the nation for these scams.

NBA wants vote on Sterling despite Clippers sale pact

LOS ANGELES - The NBA said Friday it will go ahead with a vote on terminating Donald Sterling's ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, although it signaled that a proposal by Sterling's estranged wife to sell the basketball team was its preferred course.

Visine in coffee sickens teacher; student may be charged

- A Michigan high school student accused of sickening a teacher by putting Visine eye solution in her coffee could face felony tampering charges, police said on Friday.

San Jose pot clubs to offer voters free weed on California primary day

SAN FRANCISCO - California voters can expect to receive free weed from some pot clubs in the Bay Area city of San Jose for casting ballots in state primary elections next Tuesday that include local races and battles for governor and secretary of state.

San Francisco offers waterfront site to George Lucas for museum

- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has offered George Lucas 2.3 acres of waterfront real estate in hopes that the director will locate a proposed arts and culture museum in the city, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office said on Friday.

State Department says U.S. citizen was suicide bomber in Syria

WASHINGTON - The State Department on Friday confirmed that an American citizen had carried out a suicide bombing in Syria.

New Jersey man gets life in prison for deadly college party shooting

- A New Jersey man was sentenced to life in prison on Friday for fatally shooting a college student and wounding four others during a party near Seton Hall University in 2010.

Maryland police mistake pellet gun for assault rifle, kill man

ANNAPOLIS Md. - Maryland police early on Friday killed a 20-year-old man armed with a pellet gun that officers mistook for an assault rifle, a police spokeswoman said.

Toddler badly burned by police device during Georgia drug raid

ATLANTA - A 19-month-old boy was fighting for his life at an Atlanta hospital on Friday after being severely burned by a "flash bang" grenade police tossed into the house to distract a drug suspect during a raid, police said.

Ohio town's Korean War memorial under fire for blunders

- An Ohio monument unveiled this week to Americans who fought and died in the Korean War has drawn calls for it to be replaced because of glaring omissions and historical inaccuracies including images from the Vietnam War and Desert Storm.

One hurt after restaurant interior collapses in New Jersey

NEW YORK - At least one person was injured after the interior of a restaurant collapsed in Maplewood, New Jersey, on Friday, local media reported.

Before Nevada stand-off, a collision between ranchers and tortoises

BUNKERVILLE Nevada - When the U.S. government declared the Mojave desert tortoise an endangered species in 1989, it effectively marked the cattle ranchers of Nevada's Clark County for extinction.

Boston's Kennedy museum gets $2.25 million donation, plans overhaul

BOSTON - The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has received a $2.25 million gift from Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, about half of which will be used to overhaul the Boston museum, the institution said on Friday.

Police knew of California gunman's videos, but did not view them

- Police officers who visited Elliot Rodger just weeks before he went on a shooting rampage that left six dead and more than a dozen injured knew of disturbing videos he posted online, but did not check them, officials said on Thursday.

U.S. charges Kyrgyzstan national with hampering bombing probe

BOSTON - U.S. officials on Friday charged a Kyrgyzstan national who bought dinner for the accused Boston Marathon bombers the night of the attack with interfering with the investigation into the deadly bombing.

Facebook's Zuckerberg pledges $120 million to Bay Area schools

- Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have pledged $120 million to Bay Area schools to help underserved communities in San Francisco, the two wrote in an essay to the San Jose Mercury News.

Veterans Affairs chief apologizes for problems, to meet with Obama

WASHINGTON - U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized on Friday for scheduling abuses at veterans' healthcare facilities to cover up long wait times, saying the problems were more severe than he initially thought.

Illinois man convicted in four beating deaths, including toddler

- An Illinois man has been convicted of murder in the beating deaths of four people, including a toddler, during a week-long two-state crime spree in which eight people died in June 2008.

Former New Jersey pharmacist admits to trying to make ricin

NEW YORK - A former New Jersey pharmacist pleaded guilty on Thursday to manufacturing the deadly toxins ricin and abrin, federal authorities said.

California Senate rejects bill to halt fracking

SAN FRANCISCO - The California state Senate on Thursday rejected for the second year in a row a bill that would have put a temporary stop to the controversial oil-producing practice of fracking in the state.

Gay Republican congressional candidate's California office vandalized

LOS ANGELES - The San Diego office of California congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, one of three openly gay Republicans vying for Congress in 2014, were vandalized this week, just days before the primary election, his campaign said.

California top court says police must name officers in shootings

LOS ANGELES - The California Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that police departments in the state must as a general rule disclose the names of officers involved in shootings, despite claims by a police union that doing so would endanger their safety.

Judge to rule on Montana law requiring immigration checks for state services

- A judge is to decide whether a Montana law that requires proof of legal immigration status to seek state employment or services infringes on privacy and equal protection rights guaranteed by the Montana constitution, a state official said on Thursday.

Warning label for sugary drinks passes California Senate

SACRAMENTO Calif. - A bill to require sugary soft drinks to carry labels warning of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay passed the California Senate on Thursday, the latest move by lawmakers nationwide aimed at persuading people to drink less soda.

NSA, Snowden clash over 2013 internal email release

WASHINGTON - An email exchange released on Thursday shows Edward Snowden questioned the U.S. National Security Agency's legal training programs, but provides no evidence the former contractor complained internally about vast NSA surveillance programs that he later leaked to the media.

Crews contain fire at Texas fertilizer warehouse

- A fire ripped through a Texas fertilizer warehouse on Thursday, destroying the facility but causing no explosions or injuries, police said.

Detroit airport lockdown ends, passenger behind security scare in custody

NEW YORK - Authorities at Detroit Metropolitan Airport lifted on Thursday a lockdown that had brought traffic to a halt for nearly three hours after the passenger who triggered the security scare was taken into police custody, airport officials said.

Swede pleads not guilty in U.S. over 'BlackShades' malicious software

NEW YORK - A Swedish man who U.S. authorities say helped create malicious software used to infect half a million computers pleaded not guilty in New York on Thursday to computer hacking charges.

U.S. birth rate hits lows for teens, rises among older women

NEW YORK - The birth rate among U.S. teens and young women dropped to record lows last year, while the rate among older women hit highs not seen in a half century, according to government statistics released on Thursday.

Tanning beds must carry skin cancer warning: U.S. FDA

- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is strengthening its regulation of tanning beds, which have been shown to increase the risk of skin cancer.

Utah school under fire for doctoring student yearbook photos

- A high school in Utah has come under fire for editing yearbook pictures to remove tattoos and raise plunging necklines on female students, and it pledged on Thursday to review its policy on digital manipulation.

Obama: when it comes to head injuries in sports, don't just 'suck it up'

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said on Thursday more effort is needed to prevent concussions in young athletes, including greater awareness of the severity of head injuries, which are too often dismissed as headaches instead of serious brain trauma.

U.S. charges five Boston airline employees with smuggling cash

BOSTON - Federal prosecutors in Boston on Thursday charged five U.S. airline employees with agreeing to use their security passes to smuggle $417,000 in cash that the employees believed to be the proceeds of illegal drug sales through the city's airport.

U.S. sues CA Inc. for overcharging on government contract

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department sued technology company CA Inc. and accused it of overcharging the federal government on a contract to provide software licenses, maintenance, training and consulting services, the agency said on Thursday.

California students sue state seeking more learning time

SAN FRANCISCO - Eighteen California students from seven of the state’s lowest performing schools filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the state and top education officials for not having enough time to learn.

Bail reduced for mother who drove kids into ocean off Florida

ORLANDO Fla. - Bail was reduced to $90,000 on Thursday for a South Carolina mother who drove a minivan carrying her three children into the ocean off a Florida beach, an official said.

Missouri should fund state drug lab to make lethal injections: AG

- Missouri should fund and operate its own drug laboratory to mix lethal injections for executions, a move that could help circumvent the problems it and other states are having obtaining the drugs they need, the state's top prosecutor said on Thursday.

Cracks on glass floor 103 stories above Chicago shock four men

- Four men had a terrifying few moments when the glass floor they were standing on 103 stories above Chicago in the Willis Tower observation deck appeared to develop cracks.

Groups file U.S. data request on four 'terrorists' arrested in Cuba

MIAMI - Two U.S. groups critical of the government's counter-terrorism policies have asked the Obama administration to release information about four Miami exiles arrested last month in Cuba and accused of planning armed attacks against the island.

Mutilated corpse found in Wyoming identified as Mexican national

- A mutilated corpse found in Wyoming by a duck hunter and his son has been identified as a Mexican national who lived in a ranching community in the state, authorities said on Thursday.

Dozens in 'Bricks R Us' drug ring arrested in Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA - Federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania announced the arrest on Thursday of 44 people with ties to a brazen gang that wore T-shirts boasting of their drug-dealing prowess.

Lawmakers suggest NATO, not Russia, buy French warships

WASHINGTON - Lawmakers urged France on Thursday to cancel the sale of two advanced helicopter carrier ships to Russia and suggested that NATO buy or lease them instead.

Texas woman gets 10 years in jail for animal torture videos

SAN ANTONIO - A Texas woman was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday for her role in making sexual fetish films called "crush videos" that show women using weapons and stiletto high heels to bludgeon and torture animals.

California top court says police must name officers in shootings

LOS ANGELES - The California Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that police departments in the state must as a general rule disclose the names of officers involved in shootings, despite claims by a police union that doing so would endanger their safety.

Man pleads guilty to intimidating Florida Republican voters in 2012 election

MIAMI - A Seattle man pleaded guilty on Thursday to identity fraud and voter intimidation for forged letters he sent to 200 Republican donors in Florida that told them they were ineligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election.

Lawyers seek closed jury selection in Colorado theater shooting

CENTENNIAL Colo. - Prosecutors and the lawyers defending accused theater gunman James Holmes told a Colorado judge on Thursday that initial questioning of prospective jurors in the mass murder case should be closed to the public and media.

Central American migrants in Texas flown to Arizona and released

PHOENIX - Authorities flew 400 people suspected of entering the United States illegally to Arizona over the weekend and released them at bus stops because detention facilities were full after a surge in migrants, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Judge says NYC not liable for suicide of bullied 12-year-old

ALBANY N.Y. - New York City cannot be held liable for the suicide of a 12-year-old boy bullied by classmates who thought he was gay since he did not kill himself at his school, a state judge has ruled.

Fox TV network chief to depart after ratings slump

LOS ANGELES - Kevin Reilly, the top executive at Fox broadcast television, is leaving the network next month, the company said on Thursday, after Fox slumped to last place in ratings among the big U.S. broadcasters.

Snowden raised concerns in 2013 email, but no evidence he blew whistle: NSA

WASHINGTON - An email exchange released on Thursday shows that Edward Snowden questioned the U.S. National Security Agency's legal training programs, but provides no evidence the former contractor complained internally about vast NSA surveillance programs that he later leaked to the media.

Tennessee town may change name to 'Rocky Top,' judge rules

- A small eastern Tennessee city can go ahead and change its name to Rocky Top, a federal judge has ruled, rejecting a challenge from a company that owns the rights to the bluegrass-tinged official state song.

Lawyer for badly beaten fan says LA Dodgers skimped on security

LOS ANGELES - A baseball fan suing the Los Angeles Dodgers and the team's former owner for $35 million could have been spared a brutal beating that left him with brain damage if the team had not skimped on security spending, a lawyer for the fan told jurors on Thursday.

Minnesota governor signs medical marijuana bill into law

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on Thursday signed into law a bill legalizing medical marijuana in liquid or pill form for a limited number of residents suffering from severe or fatal illnesses.

South Carolina lawmakers repeal Election Day alcohol sales ban

CHARLESTON S.C. - South Carolina is poised to allow alcohol to be sold on statewide election days after state lawmakers voted to lift the country's last blanket ban on such sales at restaurants, stores and bars.

New York's 9/11 Museum pulls controversial item from gift shop

NEW YORK - The National September 11 Memorial Museum gift shop has pulled an item that provoked cries of protest for its insensitivity: a U.S. shaped ceramic cheese platter marking the three spots where the hijacked airplanes went down, it said on Thursday.

Snowden: 'no relationship' with Russian government

WASHINGTON - Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told a U.S. television interviewer on Wednesday he was not under the control of Russia's government and had given Moscow no intelligence documents after nearly a year of asylum there.

Suspect in Kansas City Jewish center killings appears in court

OLATHE Kan. - A white supremacist charged in the killings of three people at two Jewish facilities near Kansas City in April made a brief appearance in court on Thursday, acknowledging charges recently added against him.

Florida man must pay $2.2 million penalty for Swiss bank account

NEW YORK - A Florida man must pay more than $2.2 million in civil penalties for failing to file the required forms for his Swiss bank account, a federal jury said on Wednesday.

Film tax credit bill unanimously passes California Assembly

SACRAMENTO Calif. - A bill to lure filmmakers into California with tax incentives passed unanimously in the state Assembly on Wednesday, bringing the state a step closer to extending and increasing existing tax credits for the entertainment industry.  

U.S. Navy secretary defends new warship program

WASHINGTON - U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus defended the embattled $34 billion Littoral Combat Ship program on Wednesday and said the ability to reconfigure the ships to carry out different missions would help the Navy keep pace with rapidly changing technologies.

Anonymous donor leaves San Francisco fans searching for hidden cash

SAN FRANCISCO - Some San Francisco-area residents are flush with cash, thanks to an anonymous donor who has been hiding envelopes full of money in secret spots around the city.

American supporters rally for former U.S. Marine held in Mexico over weapons arrest

SAN DIEGO - Supporters of a former U.S. Marine demonstrated on Wednesday to call for his release from a jail in Mexico where he has been held for arriving at the border from California with guns in his vehicle, and they expressed frustration at the slow pace of the case.

California lawmakers reject bill requiring labeling on GMO foods

- California lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a bill that would require labels on foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the second time in two years such legislation has failed to take hold in the state.

Minneapolis park system ranks as best for second year in a row

- The Minneapolis parks system scored highest in the nation for the second straight year in a report ranking U.S. urban greenspace that was released on Thursday.

U.S. veterans health probe confirms cover-up of care delays

WASHINGTON - Calls for U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign grew louder on Wednesday as the agency's inspector general confirmed "systemic" and widespread VA scheduling abuses to cover up long wait times for veterans' healthcare.

Seattle police file federal lawsuit over 'use of force' policy

- Seattle police officers filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday challenging new policies that restrict use of force, saying the rules endanger lives of both officers and civilians.

Southern California city drops bill against Sriracha hot sauce plant

IRWINDALE California - Lawmakers in a Southern California city dismissed a bill on Wednesday that would have declared a popular hot sauce manufacturer a public nuisance due to smells that residents near the factory complained were sickening.

Santa Barbara university student arrested for accidentally firing handgun

NEW YORK - A University of California at Santa Barbara student was arrested when he accidentally fired a handgun at his apartment wall, officials said on Wednesday, in the same college town still grieving after last week's killing spree that left 6 dead.

Hagel to make decisions on Guantanamo detainees 'fairly soon'

ANCHORAGE Alaska - - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday he will make decisions fairly soon about detainees at Guantanamo Bay detention center who Uruguay has offered to accept.

Exclusive: Medicare on drugs: 24,000 tests for 145 patients

NEW YORK - Three Connecticut doctors billed Medicare for nearly 24,000 drug tests in 2012 - on just 145 patients. Despite the extraordinary number, Medicare administrators paid the doctors a total of $1.4 million, according to a Reuters analysis of government payments to health providers.

Parents of California gunman describe 'hell on earth'

- The parents of Elliot Rodger, the gunman who killed six college students in a rampage in southern California, are suffering "hell on earth" knowing their son caused such a tragedy, they said in a statement on Thursday.

Testimony postponed for Port Authority official in 'Bridgegate' probe

NEW YORK - The U.S. Attorney for New Jersey has requested that a top transportation official postpone his testimony to a state panel probing a traffic snarl apparently orchestrated by supporters of Republican Governor Chris Christie, lawmakers said.

California killings renew call for police mental health training

SACRAMENTO Calif. - California lawmakers urged swift action on Wednesday to better train law enforcement officials to recognize and deal with mental illness after last week's bloody rampage in an idyllic college town near Santa Barbara.

Florida fast-rail line unveils plan for landmark Miami station

MIAMI - Local officials and railway executives unveiled plans on Wednesday for a sprawling 3 million-square-foot Miami train station complex including an 80-story skyscraper, to anchor the state’s first privately owned intercity railway and help redevelop the downtown area.

BP asks U.S. Supreme Court justice to block Gulf spill payments

WASHINGTON - BP Plc on Wednesday asked Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to allow the company to avoid making payments to businesses demanding compensation for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill while litigation continues.

Texas city in hot water for knocking down homes, again

DALLAS - Fort Worth has been hit with its third lawsuit in a year from residents who claim the Texas city knocked down their homes by mistake.

Dominican Republic citizens charged by U.S. in extortion scheme

NEW YORK - Nearly two dozen Dominican Republican citizens were charged in an extortion scheme targeting U.S. residents who they believed had unlawfully purchased prescription medication via call centers in that Caribbean nation, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

Co-founders of AriZona iced tea brand fight over value in court

MINEOLA New York - A lawyer for an estranged co-owner of AriZona iced tea seeking to sell his stake in the company behind the popular brand urged a judge to value the beverage maker at $4 billion, an amount that the other co-owner disputed as far too high.

Manchester United, Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer dies at 85

MIAMI, May 28 - Malcolm Glazer, a reclusive self-made billionaire and patriarch of the family that owns the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Manchester United soccer club, died on Wednesday, the teams said. He was 85.

BP asks U.S. Supreme Court justice to block Gulf spill payments

WASHINGTON - BP Plc on Wednesday asked Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to allow the company to avoid making payments to businesses demanding compensation for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill while litigation continues.

Obama calls report on veteran care delays 'extremely troubling': White House

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama found a report confirming a coverup of long wait times at veterans' care facilities "extremely troubling," the White House said on Wednesday, noting the Veterans Affairs department must take immediate steps to reach out to people who are waiting for care.

Defense demands abuse evidence in USS Cole bombing case

FORT MEADE Md. - Attorneys for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri argued on Wednesday they need evidence from a classified Senate report on possible abuses the reputed al Qaeda bombing suspect suffered at the hands of the CIA to prepare their defense in his death penalty case.

Federal judge halts executions in Ohio to mid-August

- A U.S. federal judge has ordered a halt on executions in Ohio until the middle of August, giving attorneys for condemned inmates time to prepare legal challenges to the state's plan to increase the dosages of drugs used when administering lethal injections.

Moral Monday protesters arrested at North Carolina legislative offices

RALEIGH N.C. - Fourteen protesters were arrested on Wednesday morning after staging a 10-hour sit-in at the office of one of the leaders of North Carolina’s Republican majority.

Emergency declared in Colorado mudslide area, search halted

DENVER - The Colorado county where a three-mile-wide mudslide roared through the Grand Mesa National Forest declared an emergency on Wednesday, after dangerous conditions prompted authorities to suspend a search for three ranchers presumed dead in the disaster.

Consumer group sues USDA over drug-resistant salmonella in meat

- A consumer group on Wednesday accused the U.S. Department of Agriculture of putting the public's health at risk by allowing meat with antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella to be sold to consumers, according to a lawsuit filed against the agency.

Oklahoma enacts new restrictions on abortions, Louisiana to follow

NEW ORLEANS - Oklahoma, soon to be followed by Louisiana, has joined other socially conservative states in adopting laws that place new restrictions on abortions, measures that critics say are aimed at shutting abortion clinics.

Manchester United, Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer dies at 85

- Malcolm Glazer, the patriarch of the family that owns the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Manchester United soccer club, died on Wednesday, the teams said. He was 85.

Chicago Mayor Emanuel proposes restrictions on city gun shops

CHICAGO - Declaring gun control "essential" to public safety, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday proposed a gun shop ordinance that would videotape gun purchases and limit sales to one per month per buyer.

Accused Stradivarius violin thief pleads guilty in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE - One of two Milwaukee men accused of stealing a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin from a concert violinist after incapacitating him with a stun gun pleaded guilty to felony robbery on Wednesday, authorities said.

Some young spellers relieved by early elimination from U.S. bee

OXON HILL Md. - Twelve-year-old Nathan Manaker had not been hopeful about his chances when the Scripps National Spelling Bee got under way on Wednesday, and he turned out to be right.

New York City officials weigh lifting ban on pet ferrets

NEW YORK - New York City health officials are considering a repeal of the city's ban on keeping ferrets as pets, officials said on Wednesday.

U.S. MERS patient did not infect Illinois resident: CDC

NEW YORK - U.S. health officials on Wednesday walked back their earlier conclusion that a healthcare worker who traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana and was diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS) had infected an acquaintance upon his return.

New Jersey man sentenced to life for daughter's car-seat drowning

- A New Jersey man was sentenced to life without parole on Wednesday for killing his toddler daughter by tossing her into an icy creek while she was strapped into a weighted-down car seat, prosecutors said.

Veterans health probe confirms cover-up of care delays

WASHINGTON - The Veterans Affairs department's inspector general on Wednesday substantiated allegations that staff at Phoenix VA medical facilities used inappropriate scheduling practices that covered up months-long wait times for healthcare appointments for veterans.

Police arrest 26 in raid on suspected Florida dog-fighting ring

ORLANDO Fla. - Police arrested 26 people and rescued 28 dogs on Tuesday night in a raid on what they believe to be a dog-fighting ring operating throughout central Florida.

Florida court overturns murder conviction of former FBI agent

MIAMI - A Florida appeals court on Wednesday overturned the 2008 murder conviction of John Connolly, a former FBI agent linked to mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger.

Chicago aldermen to propose raising minimum wage to $15 an hour

CHICAGO - A group of Chicago aldermen plan to introduce a proposal on Wednesday to boost the minimum wage in the nation's third-largest city to $15 per hour, joining officials in other major U.S. cities who also are considering a hike.

Connecticut man killed wife, kept body in home, prosecutors say

MILFORD Conn. - A Connecticut man who has been charged with killing his ailing wife during a drunken fight kept her body in their suburban home outside Hartford for two days, prosecutors said.

California university begins 'day of mourning' for shooting victims

SANTA BARBARA Calif. - Students at the University of California at Santa Barbara returned to campus for a "day of mourning" on Tuesday, four days after the son of a Hollywood film director killed six students in a stabbing and shooting rampage across the seaside community.

Ex-NFL star Hernandez to face charges tied to 2012 double murder

BOSTON - Former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez is due in court on Wednesday to face charges of the 2012 murder of two men he met in a Boston nightclub.

Exclusive: Deadly pig virus re-infects U.S. farm, fuels supply fears

CHICAGO - An Indiana farm has become the first to confirm publicly it suffered a second outbreak of a deadly pig virus, fueling concerns that a disease that has wiped out 10 percent of the U.S. hog population will be harder to contain than producers and veterinarians expected.

U.S. salmonella outbreak widens, 574 sick: health agency

WASHINGTON - Another 50 people have suffered salmonella poisoning linked to Foster Farms chicken, bringing the total to 574 cases in the United States since March 2013, health officials said on Tuesday.

Central California wildfire burns out of control, threatens 100 homes

SAN FRANCISCO - A wildfire burning west of Yosemite National Park in central California threatened more than 100 homes on Tuesday as it raged out of control in brush left bone dry by severe drought, state fire officials said.

Pentagon chief orders medical care review amid problems at hospital

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a comprehensive review of the U.S. military's healthcare system on Tuesday after the head of an Army medical center was relieved of command over concerns about problems at the hospital, including two deaths.

Sterling says NBA ban, forced sale is illegal: LA Times

- Donald Sterling, banned from owning a pro basketball team for inflammatory remarks he made about African Americans, called the National Basketball Association's action illegal because it was based on a "lover's quarrel" that was "illegally recorded."

California Democrats want new gun measures after college rampage

SANTA BARBARA Calif./LOS ANGELES - California Democrats on Tuesday proposed a series of measures aimed at preventing mass killings such as the rampage at a local university that left six students and the assailant dead.

Two Americans injured in consulate vehicle attack in Afghanistan

HERAT Afghanistan - Two Americans have been injured in an attack on a U.S. consulate vehicle in western Herat province in Afghanistan, the U.S. embassy said in a statement on Wednesday.

Michigan lawmakers approve minimum-wage increase

- Michigan lawmakers on Tuesday voted to raise the minimum wage to $9.25 per hour by 2018, joining other U.S. states and municipalities that have considered increases in the minimum wage this year.

Michigan lawmakers approve minimum-wage increase

- Michigan lawmakers on Tuesday voted to raise the minimum wage to $9.25 per hour by 2018, joining other U.S. states and municipalities that have considered increases in the minimum wage this year.

California Assembly passes bill mandating porn film condoms

SACRAMENTO Calif. - A bill requiring pornographic film actors to wear condoms during sex scenes easily passed the California State Assembly on Tuesday despite resistance from most of the adult film industry.

Four dead in suspected California murder-suicide

LOS ANGELES - The bodies of four people were found at a home in suburban Southern California on Tuesday in a suspected murder-suicide, law enforcement officials said.

No live broadcast of Jodi Arias sentencing retrial, judge rules

PHOENIX - An Arizona judge has rejected media requests to allow live broadcasts of court proceedings to determine if convicted killer Jodi Arias should receive the death penalty for murdering her ex-boyfriend in 2008, documents showed on Tuesday.

Top court rules for Florida death row inmate over IQ test

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out a Florida man's death sentence by finding that the state's method for assessing whether defendants are mentally disabled violated the U.S. Constitution.

Eliminating blight could cost bankrupt Detroit more than $850 million

WASHINGTON - Wiping out the abandoned and decrepit buildings that are the hallmark of bankrupt Detroit could cost nearly $1 billion, and more over time, according to a report released on Tuesday by a special task force appointed by President Barack Obama.

Police scan YouTube, Instagram after three killed in South Carolina shooting

CHARLESTON S.C. - Police in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina are studying videos on YouTube and Instagram and asking people to send any cellphone pictures to help identify gunmen in a weekend shooting that killed three people.

Blasts, fire at New Mexico biofuels plant spark brief evacuations

- More than 1,000 residents of a rural New Mexico county were briefly ordered to evacuate on Tuesday following a series of explosions and a major fire at a biofuels plant, county officials said.

U.S. agents help probe 'bottle bomb' incidents near Washington

ANNAPOLIS Md - Federal bomb experts were helping investigate a spate of "bottle bomb" incidents at AMC movie theaters in Virginia and Maryland, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said on Tuesday.

Florida woman, 46, sets record for birth via in-vitro fertilization

ORLANDO Fla. - A 46-year-old Orlando woman has become the oldest mother in the United States, and possibly in the world, to give birth to a healthy baby through in-vitro fertilization using her own fresh eggs.

White supremacist faces five new charges in Kansas shootings

KANSAS CITY Mo. - A white supremacist charged in the killings of three people at two Jewish facilities near Kansas City in April was charged on Tuesday with committing five other crimes that day, including three attempted murders.

Maryland man charged with attempting to hijack bus in Ohio

- A Maryland man was charged on Tuesday with threatening to hijack a Chicago-bound passenger bus in downtown Columbus, Ohio, with a pellet gun in an incident that left him and a passenger wounded by police, according to authorities and bus company officials.

Chinese man gets 70 months in prison for smuggling ivory

NEWARK N.J. - A Chinese antiques dealer was sentenced to 70 months in prison on Tuesday as the ringleader of a crew that smuggled rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory artifacts from the United States to China.

New York police to carry heroin antidote as overdoses double

NEW YORK - New York City police will begin carrying large amounts of anti-opiate drugs in an effort to combat a recent spike in heroin deaths, law enforcement officials said on Tuesday.

Republican senator spars with veterans groups on care delays

WASHINGTON - The top Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee fired back at some leading veterans groups on Tuesday after they accused him of a "mean spirited" attempt to politicize the scandal over delays in medical care at VA hospitals and clinics.

Suspicious item prompts temporary shutdown of part of LAX terminal

- The security and ticketing area in a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport was shut down on Tuesday after a suspicious item was found, a spokeswoman for the airport said.

Florida triple murder suspect dies after standoff in Tennessee

ORLANDO Fla. - A U.S. military veteran suspected in the Memorial Day weekend killings of three people in Florida died on Tuesday after he shot himself during a standoff with a SWAT team in Tennessee, officials said.

Central California wildfire burns out of control, threatens 100 homes

SAN FRANCISCO - A wildfire burning west of Yosemite National Park in central California threatened more than 100 homes on Tuesday as it raged out of control in brush left bone dry by severe drought, state fire officials said.

Four bodies found in Southern California home

LOS ANGELES - The bodies of four people were found at a California home in suburban Mission Viejo on Tuesday, and homicide detectives were en route to the scene, an Orange County Sheriff's spokeswoman said.

Oregon climber survives fall into toxic Mt. Hood gas crater

PORTLAND Ore.  - A climber who slipped from near the top of Oregon's Mt. Hood, sliding 800 feet before plunging into a gaping hole that emits toxic volcanic gases, managed to survive the plunge and was in fair condition on Tuesday, officials said. 

Oregon climber survives fall into toxic Mt. Hood gas crater

PORTLAND Ore.  - A climber who slipped from near the top of Oregon's Mt. Hood, sliding 800 feet before plunging into a gaping hole that emits toxic volcanic gases, managed to survive the plunge and was in fair condition on Tuesday, officials said. 

Police locate military veteran suspected in Florida triple murder

ORLANDO Fla. - A military veteran described as delusional and suspected in the Memorial Day weekend killings of three people has been located in his central Florida home, officials said on Tuesday.

Political groups seek audit of NYPD surveillance tactics

NEW YORK - A coalition of political activists on Tuesday planned to file a complaint seeking an audit of New York City police surveillance practices, saying law enforcement overstepped privacy protections and spied on political groups and members.

California university begins 'day of mourning' for shooting victims

SANTA BARBARA Calif. - Students at the University of California at Santa Barbara returned to campus for a "day of mourning" on Tuesday, four days after the son of a Hollywood film director killed six students in a stabbing and shooting rampage across the seaside community.

Computer hacker turned FBI mole sentenced in U.S. to time served

NEW YORK - A leading hacker who authorities say helped disrupt at least 300 cyber attacks after agreeing to become an FBI cooperator was sentenced to time served on Tuesday.

Angry mothers meet EPA over concerns with Roundup herbicide

- Questions about Roundup, the world's most popular herbicide, are on the agenda at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday when regulators meet with a group of mothers, scientists, environmentalists and others who say they are worried about Roundup residues found in breast milk.

U.S. top court rules for Florida death row inmate over IQ test

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out a death sentence for a Florida man in a decision that found the state's method for assessing whether defendants are mentally disabled was unconstitutional.

U.S. court rules for Secret Service agents in protest case

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that two U.S. Secret Service agents cannot be sued for allegedly treating protesters gathered in support of former President George W. Bush more favorably than protesters critical of him.

Smoke bomb on New York school bus sends students to hospital

NEW YORK - A dozen elementary school students in New York City were hospitalized briefly on Tuesday after a smoke bomb was set off on a school bus, police said.

Son of ex-Red Sox player pleads guilty to murdering girlfriend

BOSTON - The son of a former Boston Red Sox player and broadcaster was sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty on Tuesday to murdering his girlfriend in their apartment outside Boston last August.

Tornado injures nine, one critically, in North Dakota

- Nine people were injured, one critically, when a tornado tore through a trailer park in a northwestern North Dakota county that is part of the state's oil boom, an official said.

U.S. justices reject accused shooter's appeal over reporter sources

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear an appeal by a man facing trial for a high-profile mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater in 2012 over his lawyers' attempt to force a Fox News reporter to testify.

American doctor shot dead in Pakistan in suspected sectarian attack

ISLAMABAD - An American volunteer cardiologist was shot dead in Pakistan on Monday, a member of his minority Ahmadi community said, in the latest attack on a group that says it is Muslim but whose religion is rejected by the state.

Tea Party appears poised for big victories in Texas run-offs

DALLAS TX - Texas conservatives are hoping to win two major Republican run-off elections on Tuesday, for lieutenant governor and attorney general, underscoring the Tea Party’s enduring influence in the state.

With nod to veterans' scandal, Obama pays Memorial Day tribute

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama paid tribute on Monday to fallen U.S. military men and women during a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery that highlighted a veterans' care scandal that has engulfed his presidency in recent weeks.

American doctor shot dead in Pakistan in suspected sectarian attack

ISLAMABAD - An American volunteer cardiologist was shot dead in Pakistan on Monday, a member of his minority Ahmadi community said, in the latest attack on a group that says it is Muslim but whose religion is rejected by the state.

Memorial Day observances reflect story of abused Union orphans

GETTYSBURG Pa. - School children scattered flowers on war veterans' graves at Soldier's National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on Monday in a 147-year-old Memorial Day tradition started by orphans of dead Union soldiers.

Bus-car collision in New Jersey kills two, injures 12

NEW YORK - A commuter bus collided head-on with a car on Monday in the New Jersey town of Pleasantville, killing two people and injuring a dozen more, police said.

Police defend actions following California college town killings

SANTA BARBARA Calif. - Police in the California community where a man killed six college students said on Monday they had no grounds to search the 22-year-old suspect's home when they met with him in April over a report that he had posted disturbing videos.

Search underway for three men missing after Colorado mudslide

DENVER - Search and rescue crews were looking for three men on Monday who have been missing since a four-mile-long (6-km) mudslide ripped through a remote area near the Grand Mesa National Forest in western Colorado the day before.

Alaska wildfire burns 250 square miles, 1,000 buildings evacuated

- A spreading Alaskan wildfire has forced the evacuation of about 1,000 buildings but firefighters have gained ground by containing about 30 percent of the wind-driven blaze, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said on Monday.

Top CIA officer in Afghanistan mistakenly named by White House: report

WASHINGTON - The White House inadvertently included the name of the top CIA official in Afghanistan on a list of participants in a military briefing with President Barack Obama that was distributed to reporters on Sunday, the Washington Post reported.

Three shot dead at South Carolina oceanfront hotel

- Three people were killed and a fourth wounded in a shooting at a oceanfront hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S. Southeast, police said on Sunday.

Alaska wildfire burns 250 square miles, 1,000 buildings evacuated

- A spreading Alaskan wildfire has forced the evacuation of about 1,000 buildings but firefighters have gained ground by containing about 30 percent of the wind-driven blaze, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said on Monday.

With nod to veterans' scandal, Obama pays Memorial Day tribute

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama paid tribute on Monday to fallen U.S. military men and women during a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery that highlighted a veterans' care scandal that has engulfed his presidency in recent weeks.

Police defend actions following California college town killings

SANTA BARBARA, California - Police in the California community where a man killed six college students said on Monday they had no grounds to search the 22-year-old suspect's home when they met with him in April over a report that he had posted disturbing videos.

U.S. Memorial Day observances reflect story of abused Union orphans

GETTYSBURG, Pennsylvania - School children scattered flowers on war veterans' graves at Soldier's National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on Monday in a 147-year-old Memorial Day tradition started by orphans of dead Union soldiers.

Bus-car collision in New Jersey kills two, injures 12

NEW YORK - A commuter bus collided head-on with a car on Monday in the New Jersey town of Pleasantville, killing two people and injuring a dozen more, police said.

Memorial Day observances reflect story of abused Union orphans

GETTYSBURG, Pennsylvania - School children scattered flowers on war veterans' graves at Soldier's National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on Monday in a 147-year-old Memorial Day tradition started by orphans of dead Union soldiers.

Tea Party appears poised for big victories in Texas run-offs

DALLAS, TX - Texas conservatives are hoping to win two major Republican run-off elections on Tuesday, for lieutenant governor and attorney general, underscoring the Tea Party's enduring influence in the state.

American doctor shot dead in Pakistan in suspected sectarian attack

ISLAMABAD - A volunteer American cardiologist was shot dead in Pakistan on Monday, a member of his minority Ahmadi community said, the latest attack on a group which says it is Muslim but whose religion is rejected by the state.

Top CIA officer in Afghanistan mistakenly named by White House: report

WASHINGTON - The White House inadvertently included the name of the top CIA official in Afghanistan on a list of participants in a military briefing with President Barack Obama that was distributed to reporters on Sunday, the Washington Post reported.

Three people missing in western Colorado mudslide

DENVER - Three people were missing after a four-mile (6-km) long mudslide tore through a mountain community near the Grand Mesa National Forest in western Colorado on Sunday, authorities said.

California gunman, in manifesto, said police nearly thwarted plot

SANTA BARBARA, California - A 22-year-old who killed six people in a rampage through a California college town before taking his own life said in a chilling manifesto that police nearly foiled his plot when they visited him last month.

Police officer for Arizona American Indian community killed on duty

NEW YORK - A police officer on a Native American Indian reservation in Arizona was shot dead while sitting in his patrol vehicle after ordering a car to pull over, police said Sunday.

Senator to renew gun control push after California shooting spree

WASHINGTON - Senator Richard Blumenthal said on Sunday he wanted to revive gun control legislation rejected by Congress in the wake of the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre, saying it could have helped prevent this weekend's deadly California shooting spree.

Three shot dead at South Carolina oceanfront hotel

- Three people were killed and a fourth wounded in a shooting at a oceanfront hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S. Southeast, police said on Sunday.

Alaska wildfire scorches more than 100,000 acres, threatens homes

NEW YORK - Firefighters in Alaska on Sunday were battling a massive wildfire that was pushing towards hundreds of homes and vacation cabins, with residents urged to be ready for a possible mandatory evacuation, state emergency officials said.

Aging veterans build online honor roll of fallen comrades

NEW YORK - Air Force veteran Don Skinner, 83, wakes at dawn's early light, downs a cholesterol pill, blood thinner and some instant coffee then boots up his computer to spend eight hours each day telling war stories of the fallen who can't speak for themselves.

In North American rail towns, some try to stop oil trains

- Albany, New York Sheriff Craig Apple assured a room of concerned citizens that county emergency crews were prepared to handle an oil-train accident involving three or four tank cars.

Gunman kills six in drive-by shooting in California college town

SANTA BARBARA, California - A gunman killed six people and wounded seven others in a drive-by shooting in a Southern California college town, spraying bullets from his car until it crashed and he was found dead inside, authorities said on Saturday.

Teen accused of killing Pennsylvania cabbie for taking long route

- A teenager who thought a Pennsylvania taxi driver was taking a long route to charge him extra money has been accused of killing the cabbie, police said.

Republican star Mia Love gets second chance to make political history

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah's Mia Love, a Republican darling who could become the first conservative black woman elected to U.S. Congress, is getting a second, and likely better, chance to make history after narrowly losing to a popular incumbent Democrat in 2012.

Obama pledges to uphold 'sacred trust' with veterans

WASHINGTON - At the end of a week rocked by allegations of mismanagement and cover-ups at the Veterans Affairs agency, President Barack Obama used his weekly address on Saturday to again vow to make sure veterans get the necessary medical care.

At least seven killed in drive-by shooting in California: reports

- At least seven people were killed in a drive-by shooting near a college campus in the Californian city of Santa Barbara, including the suspected gunman, local media reported on Saturday.

Crash of small plane kills four in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - A small airplane crashed while making a landing approach on Friday outside the southwestern New Mexico town of Silver City, killing all four people aboard and sparking a grass fire that prompted the evacuation of a nearby mobile home park.

Boy Scouts leader Gates won't press gay adult membership issue

- Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday he would not press during his term as Boy Scouts of America president for an end to the group's ban on gay adult leaders for fear of causing permanent damage to the century old organization.

Donald Sterling hands control of L.A. Clippers to wife: source

LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, banned from the NBA for racist remarks, has handed controlling interest in his team to his wife, the co-owner, and she is negotiating with the league to sell the club, a source with knowledge of the situation said on Friday.

Warehouse of chemical company near Atlanta goes up in flames

ATLANTA - Flames engulfed a warehouse outside of Atlanta late on Friday, prompting an evacuation of nearby businesses, but firefighters kept the blaze from spreading to other structures, and no injuries were reported, emergency management officials said.

California mother charged with stabbing three young daughters to death

LOS ANGELES - A California mother was charged on Friday with first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of her three daughters - all younger than 3 years of age - at their home in a working-class suburb of Los Angeles, prosecutors said.

Arizona teenager accused of sex crimes pleads not guilty

PHOENIX - An Arizona high school student accused of being a serial rapist pleaded not guilty on Friday to multiple sex-related crimes linked to allegations he assaulted at least a dozen girls during a multiyear spree, a county official said.

Hawaii to raise minimum hourly wage to $10.10 by 2018

HONOLULU - Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie on Friday approved a gradual hike in the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as Democrats seek to make raising pay for hourly workers an issue ahead of this year's midterm congressional elections.

Bill to put warning label on sugary drinks advances in California

SACRAMENTO, California - A measure to require sugary soft drinks to carry labels warning of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay advanced in the California state legislature on Friday, the latest move by lawmakers nationwide aimed at persuading people to drink less soda.

California prosecutors push back against doubts raised in kidnapping case

LOS ANGELES - Charges against a California man accused of abducting and raping a 15-year-old girl stem from brutal crimes committed a decade ago when she was first snatched, prosecutors said on Friday in response to remarks by neighbors that the woman showed no signs of distress.

California bill would give school loans to undocumented students

SACRAMENTO, California - California lawmakers advanced a bill on Friday that would give immigrant students residing in the country illegally and attending public four-year universities in the state access to a revolving loan fund.

Bill to put warning label on sugary drinks advances in California

SACRAMENTO, California - A measure to require sugary soft drinks to carry labels warning of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay advanced in the California state legislature on Friday, the latest move by lawmakers nationwide aimed at persuading people to drink less soda.

Arizona teenager accused of sex crimes pleads not guilty

PHOENIX - An Arizona high school student accused of being a serial rapist pleaded not guilty on Friday to multiple sex-related crimes linked to allegations he assaulted at least a dozen girls during a multiyear spree, a county official said.

California bill would give school loans to undocumented students

SACRAMENTO, California - California lawmakers advanced a bill on Friday that would give immigrant students residing in the country illegally and attending public four-year universities in the state access to a revolving loan fund.

After gay marriage legalized in Oregon, advocates abandon ballot push

- Advocates for same-sex marriage in Oregon, fresh from a major legal victory that paved the way for same-sex couples in the state to wed, said on Friday they no longer plan to put the issue on the ballot this November.

Commercial approaches spur change in U.S. military space business

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The U.S. government's growing acceptance of commercial military satellites is opening the $20 billion-a-year market to new companies and forcing big arms makers such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing to change how they operate.

Colorado judge defers on bid to move trial of accused theater gunman

DENVER - The Colorado judge presiding over the case of James Holmes, the man charged with mass murder in the shooting deaths of 12 people in a movie theater, ruled on Friday it was premature to consider moving the trial to another jurisdiction.

Crews optimistic about weather in fighting Arizona wildfire

PHOENIX - Crews fighting a major wind-swept wildfire that has threatened hundreds of Arizona homes in a scenic area could look to the skies with optimism on Friday, buoyed by forecasts of improved weather conditions, a top fire official said.

Connecticut man who lived with mother's corpse charged with murder

MILFORD, Connecticut - A Connecticut man who was found to have lived with his mother's decomposing corpse for months when his brother summoned police as he was unable to get into the house on Mother's Day, has been charged with the woman's murder, police said on Friday.

After gay marriage legalized in Oregon, advocates abandon ballot push

- Advocates for same-sex marriage in Oregon, fresh from a major legal victory that paved the way for same-sex couples in the state to wed, said on Friday they no longer plan to put the issue on the ballot this November.

Pilot dies in California helicopter crash

LOS ANGELES - A helicopter crashed into a river bed in Southern California on Friday, killing the pilot and downing power transmission lines, fire officials said.

Six killed in New Mexico highway crash during dust storm

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - Six people were killed in a crash of seven vehicles caught in a fast-moving dust storm on a remote stretch of highway in New Mexico, an area where such weather events are a seasonal hazard, a state police spokesman said on Friday.

Here, piggy piggy: U.S. turns to military gear in hunt for feral swine

CHICAGO - The U.S. Agriculture Department is known for its army of statisticians packing yardsticks and calculators to measure wheat and count soybeans.

Tennessee fraternity suspended for hot sauce on genitals hazing

- A University of Tennessee fraternity has been suspended for hazing activities that included pouring hot sauce on the genitals of a pledge, according to documents provided Friday by the university.

U.S. judge allows force-feeding of Guantanamo prisoner to continue

WASHINGTON - A U.S. judge allowed the military to resume force-feeding a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, saying she was in no position to make the complex medical decisions needed to keep the prisoner alive.

Donald Sterling hands over control of Clippers to wife: reports

LOS ANGELES - Donald Sterling, banned for life from the NBA for taped racist comments, has handed over control of the Los Angeles Clippers to his wife, according to media reports on Friday.

Exclusive: Like New Jersey, most states felt drop in April income taxes

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO - New Jersey, which revealed a massive budget shortfall this week, is far from alone in feeling the pinch of lower income tax revenues in the key month of April, a Reuters analysis shows.

Liquidity builds on WTI crude diverted to E. Houston

- The sleepy market for sweet West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery close to East Houston's refineries is beginning to wake up.

Firefighters keep Arizona wildfire from advancing on homes

PHOENIX - Crews battling a major wildfire along a scenic corridor in northern Arizona made progress in battling the wind-whipped blaze on Thursday, but thousands of residents were still on alert for possible evacuations, fire officials said.

Tennessee reinstates electric chair as death penalty option

NASHVILLE, Tennessee - Tennessee's electric chair, last used in 2007, is now an option for executions in the state if lethal injection drugs are unavailable, following a bill that was signed by the governor on Thursday.

Arizona mother who left children in hot car allowed to visit them

PHOENIX - An Arizona woman accused of leaving her two young children in a hot car while she went to a job interview will be allowed to visit them while she awaits trial on child abuse charges, a judge ruled on Thursday, according to her lawyer.

San Diego airport relents, allows anti-SeaWorld ad

SAN DIEGO - San Diego International Airport has agreed to run an animal rights group's advertisement asking visitors to avoid SeaWorld, a major city tourist attraction that has faced criticism over shows featuring killer whales, a civil rights group said on Thursday.

California Democrats scale back universal preschool plan, citing cost

SACRAMENTO, California - California Democrats on Thursday dramatically scaled back their proposal for universal pre-kindergarten under opposition from Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat who has charted a moderate fiscal course despite pressure from many within his party to use a projected surplus to increase spending on social services.

Four rabbis indicted in New Jersey on kidnapping charges

NEW YORK - Four Orthodox Jewish rabbis and one of their sons were indicted on Thursday on charges of kidnapping Jewish men and violently forcing them to grant divorces to their unhappy wives, New Jersey authorities said on Thursday.

Police seek man who shot hikers on California trail

SAN FRANCISCO - Investigators said Thursday they were following new leads in the robbery and shooting of two hikers at a popular Northern California trailhead that left a 69-year-old Massachusetts man dead and his 76-year-old friend in critical condition.

Six gay couples sue to challenge South Dakota's ban on same-sex marriage

- Six gay couples in South Dakota filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday challenging the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage, court documents showed.

One more body found in rubble of March Washington state mudslide

- Two months after a mudslide buried much of a community in the Cascade foothills of Washington state, killing more than 40 people, another body has been recovered from the rubble, county officials said on Thursday.

Dallas Mavericks owner criticized for his comments on race

DALLAS - Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, on Thursday defended comments he made about race and bigotry when asked at a business conference to address the controversy over banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Texas has 7 of the 15 fastest-growing U.S. cities

DALLAS - Texas-sized is getting bigger with seven of the nation's 15 rapidly growing cities located in the Lone Star State, which dominated the rankings of a U.S. Census Bureau report released on Thursday.

O.J. Simpson lawyers file for new trial in 2007 robbery

- Lawyers for O.J. Simpson submitted a bulky document requesting a new trial for the former NFL star in an attempt to have his 2008 armed-robbery conviction overturned, court officials said on Thursday.

Slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk honored with U.S. stamp

WASHINGTON - U.S. officials honored slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk on Thursday with the unveiling of a new postage stamp, and called for more work to advance the cause for which he gave his life.

San Diego airport relents, allows anti-SeaWorld ad

SAN DIEGO - San Diego International Airport has agreed to run an animal rights group's advertisement asking visitors to avoid SeaWorld, a major city tourist attraction that has faced criticism over shows featuring killer whales, a civil rights group said on Thursday.

Sixteen police in Puerto Rico arrested on corruption charges

SAN JUAN - Federal authorities arrested 16 current and former Puerto Rican police officers on corruption charges ranging from allegedly taking bribes to protect drug dealers to extortion and planting evidence, officials said on Thursday.

Two U.S. companies recall walnuts, hummus over possible listeria

- Two U.S. food companies this week issued voluntary recalls of walnuts and hummus dips sold at major retailers after listeria was detected in a sampling of the products, the Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday.

Tucson socialite gets life term for ex-husband's car-bomb death

TUCSON, Arizona - A former Arizona socialite was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for the 1996 car-bomb killing of her ex-husband, a prominent real estate developer, in the parking lot of a Tucson resort.

Dodgers release minor league player who bit off part of teammate's ear

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - The Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday released a minor league player who was involved in a dugout fight and bit off part of a high-profile Cuban-born teammate's ear, the team said.

Killer of three may be last to get death penalty in Connecticut

BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut - A Connecticut man found guilty of a 2006 triple murder was sentenced to death on Thursday in what was likely to be the last capital punishment sentence in the state.

New Jersey gun control bill passes Assembly, heads to governor's desk

- The New Jersey state Assembly on Thursday sent Governor Chris Christie a gun control bill that would limit the capacity of gun ammunition magazines, but it was unclear whether the Republican governor would sign the measure into law.

California man charged with kidnapping girl, holding her 10 years

SANTA ANA, California - A California man accused of abducting a 15-year-old girl and holding her captive for a decade was charged on Thursday with rape and kidnapping, even as his lawyer suggested the young woman went with him willingly and was treated "like a queen."

1998 U.S. embassy bombing suspect loses bid to get charges dismissed

NEW YORK - Alleged senior al Qaeda figure Anas al-Liby lost a bid on Thursday to have charges against him dismissed in connection with the deadly 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

U.S. gov't workers owed $3.3 billion in delinquent taxes in 2013: IRS

WASHINGTON - U.S. government workers owed $3.3 billion in delinquent taxes last year but were still better at staying current with the Internal Revenue Service than the general public, the IRS said on Thursday.

Chicago man sentenced to 90 years for beating of Irish student

CHICAGO - A Chicago man was sentenced on Thursday to 90 years in prison for the brutal beating of an Irish exchange student that left her unable to walk or speak, in a case that focused attention on violence in the nation's third-largest city.

Arizona governor calls special session on $60 million child protection plan

PHOENIX - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has called the state legislature into special session to create a new child-welfare agency, after the current agency was rocked by revelations that workers never investigated nearly 6,600 hotline reports of potential child abuse and neglect.

New Hampshire city leads fight against inland flooding

KEENE, New Hampshire - When the rain comes down heavy in Keene, New Hampshire, auto mechanic Tom Stevens knows what to do: Drive the cars to the top of the hill near his garage and get everything else up onto shelves before floodwater starts seeping up through the floor drains.

Fifty U.S. senators urge NFL to back Redskins' name change

WASHINGTON - Fifty U.S. senators urged the National Football League on Thursday to endorse a name change for the Washington Redskins, saying the franchise's name was a racial slur.

U.S. watchdog group seeks probe of proposal to cut biofuel mandate

WASHINGTON - A government ethics watchdog on Thursday asked for an investigation into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to cut federal biofuel use targets for 2014.

FBI to allow recording of interrogations for first time in its history

WASHINGTON - The FBI and several other U.S. federal law enforcement agencies will reverse a policy that has long prohibited recording interrogations of people held in custody, a Justice Department memo sent last week said.

Yelp helped NYC find unreported food borne illness: report

NEW YORK - Reviewers on the online restaurant and business rating site, Yelp, helped New York City health officials find hundreds of unreported cases of possible food borne illnesses, health officials reported on Thursday.

Firefighters keep Arizona wildfire from advancing on homes

PHOENIX - Crews battling a major wildfire along a scenic corridor in northern Arizona stopped the wind-whipped blaze's march toward homes in the area on Thursday, but thousands of residents still may be forced to evacuate, fire officials said.

U.S. steps up scrutiny of Americans fighting in Syrian civil war

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department has tapped a veteran prosecutor to probe the flow of foreign fighters including Americans who are joining Syria's rebels, U.S. officials said, in a sign of heightened alarm over the threat of radicalized militants returning home.

North Carolina Senate outlaws disclosure of fracking fluid secrets

- The North Carolina Senate on Thursday voted to make it a crime to disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, even as big U.S. oil companies elsewhere consider releasing more information about the fluids to address public concerns about the environment.

Guatemala extradites accused drug trafficker to U.S

GUATEMALA CITY - Guatemala on Thursday extradited one of the country's top suspected drug traffickers to the United States, more than two years after a court had ordered the move.

Chicago man faces 120 years in beating of exchange student

CHICAGO - A Chicago man convicted in the savage beating of an Irish exchange student, which left her unable to walk or speak, faces up to 120 years in prison when he is sentenced on Thursday.

Accused Boston bomber admitted role in attack, prosecutors say

BOSTON - The accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had admitted to a role in the attack during an interrogation in hospital a day after his arrest, U.S. prosecutors said in a court filing.

Fox News anchor Jarrett released after Minneapolis airport arrest

- Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett was released from jail early Thursday after running into trouble with the law in a Minneapolis airport.

California transit authority settles civil rights lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO - A California transit agency has settled a civil rights lawsuit by five men detained after the shooting of Oscar Grant, a young black man shot to death by a white transit policeman in Oakland, representatives for both sides said.

Four killed, 20 hurt in California bus crash

LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles-bound passenger bus veered off a Southern California highway on Wednesday and flipped onto its side, killing four people on board and injuring 20 more, California Highway Patrol officials said.

Obama creates half-million acre national monument in New Mexico

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Wednesday preserved almost 500,000 acres of mountains, canyons, trails, caves and grasslands in New Mexico as a new national monument, saying he wanted to protect the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region for future generations.

New Jersey economic comeback? Fuhgeddaboudit!

- When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday unveiled a massive budget shortfall, he pointed the finger at a steep and unexpected drop in income taxes.

Feds to spend $2 billion on Los Angeles 'Subway to the Sea'

SACRAMENTO, California - The federal government will spend $2 billion to extend a subway line under Los Angeles' storied Wilshire Boulevard, an effort to ease congestion in one of the country's most transited corridors and to eventually link downtown to the beach with a "Subway to the Sea."

Questions linger on gay Boy Scout leaders as Gates takes over

DALLAS - As former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is set to head the Boy Scouts of America, many are wondering if the official who helped end the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy will also lift the scout's ban on gay adult leaders.

Five tornadoes touch down near Denver, some flights diverted

DENVER - Five tornadoes touched down on Wednesday in the Denver area accompanied by icy hail, forcing the city's airport to divert dozens of flights although no damage was immediately reported, officials said.

Slain Chicago missionary remembered for service to Haiti after 2010 quake

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - An elderly American missionary who was stabbed to death last week in Haiti was a generous man who dedicated his life to the impoverished country after a devastating 2010 earthquake, churchgoers and friends recalled at a memorial service on Wednesday.

Supreme Court stays Missouri death row inmate's execution

- The Supreme Court issued a new stay on Wednesday to halt the execution of a Missouri death row inmate because his lawyers say he suffers from a rare health condition that could lead to undue suffering from a lethal injection.

Obama creates national monument in New Mexico, sparking border concerns

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared almost 500,000 acres of mountains, canyons and desert caves near the U.S.-Mexico border a national monument, which drew criticism from Republicans and local law enforcement that the move could put border security at risk.

California woman abducted at 15 found alive a decade later

LOS ANGELES - A woman abducted from her suburban Southern California home when she was 15 has been found alive after a decade-long ordeal of physical and sexual abuse, and her accused kidnapper has been arrested, police said on Wednesday.

Crews battle wind-whipped wildfire in scenic Arizona canyon

PHOENIX - A major wind-whipped fire burned through a popular scenic canyon in Arizona on Wednesday, ballooning to 4,500 acres and threatening about 300 residences and businesses, fire officials said.

Colorado tightens control on marijuana edibles, concentrates

DENVER - Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed legislation on Wednesday to tighten controls on edible and concentrated forms of marijuana, as concerns mounted about safety issues after two deaths possibly linked to the ingestion of pot-infused goodies.

More Californians want to pay debt than boost social services -poll

SAN FRANCISCO, California - California Governor Jerry Brown's insistence on paying down debt and stockpiling savings instead of increasing funding for social services for the poor resonates with voters, who support the idea overwhelmingly, a new poll shows.

Obama to pitch U.S. tourism at Baseball Hall of Fame

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will make a pitch for U.S. tourism at a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday as part of his efforts to provide a boost for U.S. economic growth.

Criminal charges filed in food safety case against Iowa egg farm

- An Iowa-based egg producer and two of its executives are facing federal criminal charges in connection with a 2010 salmonella outbreak that led to the recall of more than a half-billion eggs in the United States, according to federal court documents filed Wednesday.

Visitors take somber tours as September 11 museum opens to public

NEW YORK - New Yorkers who toured the museum that commemorates the violent attacks of September 11, 2001, on Wednesday, the first day it was open to the public, said they expected a somber visit but found themselves emotionally overwhelmed.

U.S. judge rules lawsuit against ex-Bolivia leader can move forward

MIAMI - A Miami federal judge will allow a lawsuit to proceed against a former Bolivian president accused of overseeing a deadly military crackdown during 2003 street protests in the South American country.

Former N.Y. state assemblyman gets three years in prison for taking bribes

NEW YORK - Former New York State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for taking more than $20,000 in bribes.

Three tornadoes touch down in Denver suburb of Aurora

DENVER - Three tornadoes touched down on Wednesday in the Denver suburb of Aurora, but no damage was immediately reported, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.

California woman abducted at 15 found alive after 10 years: police

LOS ANGELES - A Southern California woman abducted a decade ago when she was 15 was found alive and her accused kidnapper has been arrested, police said on Wednesday.

McDonald's workers protest low wages, more than 100 arrested

- Police on Wednesday arrested more than 100 demonstrators seeking better pay for McDonald's workers as protesters swarmed the fast-food chain's corporate campus near Chicago to demand a minimum wage of $15 an hour and the right to unionize.

Couples sue to overturn Montana's constitutional ban on gay marriage

- Four Montana couples asked a federal judge on Wednesday to overturn a state constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage, the latest challenge to bans on same-sex matrimony that have been struck down by a string of U.S. courts.

Dozens arrested in New York child pornography bust

NEW YORK - Two police officers, a Little League coach, and a mother were among 71 people arrested across the New York City-area in the largest-ever roundup of people who share child pornography online, federal and local law enforcement said Wednesday.

U.S. citizenship given to Cuban-born man who thought 1975 Army enlistment made him citizen

JACKSONVILLE, Florida - U.S. Army veteran Mario Hernandez, 58, was sworn in as a citizen on Wednesday, decades after he believed he had been naturalized when he enlisted during the Vietnam War era.

Police hunt killer of pit bulls in Northern California

- Police in rural Northern California were searching on Wednesday for the killer of two pit bulls, who were shot and hung from a tree next to a hand-scrawled sign that read "All stray dogs must die."

Pennsylvania will not appeal same-sex marriage ruling, governor says

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania - The governor of Pennsylvania said on Wednesday the state will not repeal a judge's ruling allowing same-sex marriage in the state.

Crews battle wind-whipped wildfire in northern Arizona

PHOENIX - A wind-whipped fire burned through a popular scenic canyon in northern Arizona on Wednesday, charring more than 800 acres and threatening about 100 residences and businesses, fire officials said.

NBA union finance adviser gets house arrest for obstructing probe

NEW YORK - A principal at an Ohio investment advisory firm that managed the finances of the National Basketball Association's players union was sentenced Wednesday to six months house arrest for obstructing a grand jury investigation.

$19 million settlement proposed in NYC charter bus class action

NEW YORK - Riders of two New York City tour bus companies have proposed a $19 million settlement to end a class-action lawsuit that claimed the businesses joined forces to run an illegal monopoly, court documents showed.

Tattoo tales: Prosecutors seek details on ex-NFLer Hernandez' arm ink

BOSTON - Prosecutors on Wednesday said they are seeking to interview the tattoo artist or artists who decorated the right forearm of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez around the time he is accused of killing two men after leaving a Boston nightclub.

Michigan House panel OKs state money for Detroit bankruptcy plan

- A special Michigan House committee on Wednesday approved a nearly $195 million state contribution for a key element of Detroit's plan to adjust its $18 billion of debt and exit the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Mother arrested in death of three daughters in Los Angeles suburb

LOS ANGELES - A California mother has been arrested in the killing of her three daughters, aged 2 months to 3 years, who were found dead at a home in a Los Angeles suburb, police said on Wednesday.

Ahold settles U.S. Foods customer lawsuit for $297 million

NEW YORK - The Dutch retailer Ahold on Wednesday agreed to pay $297 million to settle U.S. class-action litigation accusing its former U.S. Foodservice distribution unit of defrauding thousands of hospitals and restaurants through overcharges.

Montana man accused in death of exchange student due in court

MISSOULA, Montana - A Montana man who shot and killed a German exchange student last month is set to be arraigned before a district court on Wednesday morning.

McConnell coasts to Kentucky win, Tea Party falls in key primaries

WASHINGTON - Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell easily beat a Tea Party primary challenger in Kentucky on Tuesday, setting up one of November's most expensive and hard-fought Senate races against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Passenger bus flips in California, killing four

- A bus veered off a Southern California highway and flipped over early Wednesday morning, killing four people and injuring several others, according to the California Highway Patrol.

U.S. tests enhanced Aegis system, fires SM-3 missile onshore

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado - The United States on Wednesday announced the first live-fire test of a Raytheon Co SM-3 missile from the land-based version of Lockheed Martin Corp's Aegis missile defense system, which will be operational in Romania next year.

Dozens arrested in New York child pornography bust: U.S. official

NEW YORK - A Boy Scout leader, a Little League coach, a rabbi and a police officer were among some 60 people arrested in the New York City-area, in one of the largest roundups of those who share child pornography online, a federal official said Wednesday.

U.S. government seeks greater disclosure of airline fees

- U.S. airlines should disclose fees for checked baggage and other basic services to make it easier for travelers to discern the true cost of a ticket, the U.S. Transportation Department said on Wednesday.

Rural Oregon voters back ban on GMO crops amid U.S. labeling uproar

PORTLAND, Oregon - Voters in two small Oregon counties on Tuesday approved controversial ballot measures to ban cultivation of genetically engineered crops within their boundaries, though one measure is vulnerable to legal challenge under a new state law.

U.S. judge strikes down Pennsylvania law barring gay marriage

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania - A federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage on Tuesday in the latest court decision extending the rights of matrimony to gay and lesbian couples in the United States.

Nevada to move online healthcare enrollment to federal site

- Nevada's health insurance exchange board on Tuesday voted to transfer control over its online program from its vendor, Xerox, to the federal government's enrollment system.

Federal prosecutors subpoena Oregon health agency in grand jury probe

PORTLAND, Oregon - Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed documents from Oregon's health exchange agency as part of a grand jury investigation into how the state used federal money to set up the now-failed health insurance exchange, state officials said on Tuesday.

Santa Cruz becomes first California county to ban fracking

SAN FRANCISCO - Santa Cruz on Tuesday became the first California county to ban fracking, the latest in a string of moves by local governments in the state to take a stand against the controversial oil and gas producing method.

Chipotle bans firearms at restaurants after Texas demonstration

DENVER - Chipotle Mexican Grill will no longer allow firearms in its restaurants after gun-rights activists posed with military-style assault rifles at one of its Texas outlets, the company said on Tuesday.

Former California fire chief charged with stabbing girlfriend to death

SACRAMENTO, California - A former California fire chief, who evaded capture for two weeks after his live-in girlfriend was found stabbed to death in the home they shared, was charged with murder on Tuesday.

U.S. appeals court halts execution of inmate with rare health defect

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - A federal appeals court on Tuesday halted the execution of a Missouri death row inmate just hours before his scheduled lethal injection because he has a rare health condition that could lead to pain and suffocation.

Probe of U.S. Veterans Affairs facilities expands: report

WASHINGTON - The number of U.S. Veterans Affairs facilities being investigated for problems involving delays in treating patients has more than doubled to 26, CNN reported on Tuesday.

U.S. to disclose legal justification for drone strikes on Americans

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government will disclose its legal justification for the use of drones against U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism, a senior Obama administration official said on Tuesday.

U.S. utility's control system was hacked, says Homeland Security

BOSTON - A sophisticated hacking group recently attacked a U.S. public utility and compromised its control system network, but there was no evidence that the utility's operations were affected, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. appeals court halts execution of inmate with rare health defect

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday halted the planned execution of a Missouri death row inmate whose lawyers have said suffers from a rare health condition that could lead to pain and suffocation during a lethal injection.

New Mexico court upholds insurance coverage for medical pot

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - An injured mechanic who uses medical marijuana as pain treatment can have his former employer and the company's insurer reimburse him for the drug, a New Mexico appeals court ruled.

Consumer bureau slow to fix age, minority bias: union leader

WASHINGTON - U.S. consumer bureau officials were slow to fix performance reviews that were unfair to minority and older employees, despite complaints, a union leader will tell lawmakers on Wednesday.

NYC jail guard indicted in death of inmate who ate disinfectant

NEW YORK - A federal grand jury indicted a former senior guard at New York City's main jail complex on a civil rights charge, accusing him of denying medical aid to a mentally ill inmate who had swallowed disinfectant, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.

U.S. Navy petty officer pleads guilty in corruption scandal

SAN DIEGO - A U.S. Navy petty officer charged in a wide-ranging corruption investigation of a Singapore-based defense contractor pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit bribery in a case in federal court in California, prosecutors said.

Florida jury acquits man accused of brokering uranium sale to Iran

MIAMI - A Florida jury has acquitted a Sierra Leonean man arrested at a New York airport last year and accused of trying to broker a deal to sell uranium ore to Iran.

NBA commissioner signals willingness for deal with Clippers owner

LOS ANGELES - National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver said on Tuesday he would prefer to let Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling sell his team "on a reasonable timetable" rather than proceed with trying to forcibly terminate his ownership.

Family of man who killed sons in Washington state blast to get insurance payout: judge

OLYMPIA, Washington - The family of a Washington state man who killed himself and his two young sons in a fiery explosion in 2012 is entitled to a share of a life insurance payout from the boys' deaths, a federal judge has ruled.

Ex-Arizona deputy suspected of targeting illegal immigrants: court papers

PHOENIX - Investigators found 900 hours of videotaped traffic stops at the home of an Arizona sheriff's deputy who committed suicide after his arrest on drug charges and are trying to determine if he was "shaking down" illegal immigrant drivers, court documents show.

Police find Connecticut man in house with mother's corpse

NEW YORK - A suburban Connecticut man is believed to have been living with the corpse of his mother for weeks, possibly months, before his brother called police to complain he was being kept from entering their home on Mother's Day, police said on Tuesday.

Steaming mad: Maine charges lobsterman for 'egregious' catch violation

BOSTON - Maine wildlife officials are pressing charges against a local fisherman for possessing hundreds of undersized or otherwise protected lobsters, calling it one of the state's most "egregious" lobstering violations in a quarter century.

End of the road approaches for prominent Boston gun-control sign

BOSTON - An iconic sign bearing pro-gun-control messages that has hung near Fenway Park in Boston for almost two decades will soon lose its home.

A year later, tornado-hit city in Oklahoma remembers and rebuilds

MOORE, Oklahoma - Dedications were made on Tuesday for new buildings rising out of the rubble and tears shed in an Oklahoma city devastated by a tornado that a year ago killed 24 and injured more than 300.

Alaska woman survives bear attack, walks two miles for help

- A woman mauled by a brown bear while jogging at a U.S. military base in Alaska survived the attack and then, bleeding from serious injuries, dragged herself two miles uphill to a paved road before finding help, authorities said on Tuesday.

Detroit bankruptcy plan faces key vote by Michigan state committee

- Detroit's plan to deal with $18 billion of debt so it can exit municipal bankruptcy faces a crucial test on Wednesday, when a panel of Michigan state lawmakers votes on legislation, opposed by some conservatives, to provide state funding for the city.

Egyptian teenage scientist plans to seek asylum in United States

LOS ANGELES - An Egyptian teenager who traveled to the United States to take part in a prestigious science fair has decided to seek asylum, saying he fears returning home after being accused of taking part in anti-government protests in Cairo, his U.S. lawyer said on Tuesday.

North Miami, Florida, mayor suspended from office after fraud charges

MIAMI - The mayor of North Miami, Florida, was suspended from office by Florida Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday a day after she was charged as part of an alleged $8 million mortgage fraud scheme.

Costly Texas high school football stadium closes due to design flaws

DALLAS - One of the most expensive high school football stadiums in the United States will remain closed through the 2014 football season after an engineering firm declared it unsafe, school officials said on Tuesday.

Orlando to get nation's first floating magnetic train line

ORLANDO, Florida - Florida approved plans this week for construction of a privately funded electro-magnetic suspension rail line in Orlando, the first of its kind in the United States.

U.S. utility's control system was hacked, says Homeland Security

BOSTON - A sophisticated hacking group recently attacked a U.S. public utility and compromised its control system network, but there was no evidence that the utility's operations were affected, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. bulks up aerial firefighting fleet amid fears of catastrophic season

SALMON, Idaho - The U.S. Forest Service is adding four air tankers to its firefighting fleet ahead of a potentially catastrophic fire season in California, Arizona and New Mexico, where drought and high temperatures are heightening risks, fire managers said on Tuesday.

Consumer bureau slow to fix age, minority bias -union leader

WASHINGTON - U.S. consumer bureau officials were slow to fix performance reviews that were unfair to minority and older employees, despite complaints, a union leader will tell lawmakers on Wednesday.

U.S. appeals court issues stay to halt execution of Missouri inmate

- A U.S. Appeals Court issued a stay on Tuesday hours before the planned execution of Missouri death row inmate Russell Bucklew, whose lawyers have said has a rare health condition that could lead to pain and suffocation during a lethal injection.

U.S. to disclose legal justification for drone strikes on Americans

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government has decided to disclose its legal justification for the use of drones against U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism, a senior Obama administration official said on Tuesday.

Wisconsin ex-natural resources warden charged with stealing guns

MILWAUKEE - A former Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden was charged with theft on Tuesday for seizing guns from hunters and stashing them in his basement, according to court documents.

Federal judge strikes down Pennsylvania law barring gay marriage

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania - A federal judge on Tuesday struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage, the latest in a series of court decisions across the country confirming gay couples' rights to wed.

Federal judge to rule on Pennsylvania's law barring gay marriage

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania - A federal judge was expected to rule on Tuesday on whether Pennsylvania can continue to bar same-sex marriage, the latest in a series of court decisions across the nation determining gay couples' right to wed.

U.S. postal worker investigated in death of small dog in Texas

DALLAS - The U.S. Postal Service is investigating a report that a mail carrier in Texas fatally injured a 10-pound (4.5 kg) Yorkshire Terrier that he said attacked him by hitting it in the head with a rock, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Machinery failure blamed for hurting seven at Wisconsin foundry

- The "catastrophic failure" of a piece of machinery at a Wisconsin foundry triggered a small fire and the release of molten metal that injured seven people, police said on Tuesday.

Missouri set to execute inmate who has rare health defect

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Missouri is set to execute early Wednesday a convicted killer whose lawyers have said has a rare health condition that could lead to extreme pain and suffocation during a lethal injection.

Actor Michael Jace arrested for murder of his wife

- Actor Michael Jace, known for playing a cop in the television drama "The Shield," was charged with murder on Tuesday after his wife was found shot to death in their Los Angeles-area home, police said.

Mother of American held in Venezuela says son not a "terrorist"

MIAMI - The mother of an American man arrested last month in Venezuela is challenging Venezuela's depiction of him as a foreign "mercenary" who incited anti-government protests that have roiled the country this year.

Man convicted for New York subway suicide bomb plot loses appeal

NEW YORK - A Bosnian-born U.S. citizen on Tuesday failed to overturn his conviction for planning suicide bombings in the New York City subways at the behest of al Qaeda operatives.

End of the road approaches for prominent Boston gun-control sign

BOSTON - An iconic sign bearing pro-gun-control messages that has hung near Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts for almost two decades will soon lose its home.

McDonald's new 'Happy' mascot dubbed McScary in social media

CHICAGO - McDonald's restaurant chain says its new "Happy" mascot will bring "fun and excitement" to its children's meals, but social media contend the toothy, red box-shaped character will have the opposite effect.

40-foot sinkhole swallows part of Tennessee football field

- Engineers were working Tuesday to close a yawning sinkhole that gobbled up a part of the end zone of a Tennessee university's football stadium.

Judge keeps corruption charges against ex-Virginia governor, wife

RICHMOND, Virginia - A U.S. judge on Tuesday denied requests to dismiss federal bribery and corruption charges against former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen, clearing the way for a July trial.

GM recalls another 2.42 million vehicles, doubles second-quarter charge

DETROIT - General Motors Co said on Tuesday it is recalling another 2.42 million vehicles in the United States, raising the number of vehicles it has recalled so far this year to more than 15 million.

White House official to visit much-criticized Phoenix veterans medical facility

WASHINGTON - A top aide to President Barack Obama will travel to Phoenix on Wednesday to visit the medical facility at the heart of allegations involving delays in healthcare for military veterans.

Woman arrested on suspicion of forcing three-year-old to eat own feces

- An Arizona woman was arrested at the weekend on suspicion of forcing a three-year-old girl to eat her own feces after the girl defecated in a bathtub, court records show.

NBA formally charges Clippers owner, sets June 3 hearing

NEW YORK - The National Basketball Association (NBA) stepped up its drive to oust Donald Sterling as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, formally charging on Monday that his racist remarks damaged the league and paving the way for fellow team owners to decide his fate next month.

N.Y. Times publisher denies fired female editor was paid less

NEW YORK - Days after the sudden termination of Jill Abramson as executive editor of The New York Times, the first woman to hold that position, the newspaper's publisher denied reports that she had been paid less than her predecessor.

Sperm donor or parent? Check the box on California form

SAN FRANCISCO - A bill aimed at protecting the parental and adoptive rights of same-sex couples in California passed a key legislative hurdle on Monday in an effort to close gaps in a state law that have led to at least one high-profile legal case.

Military acquisition rules hamper U.S. ability to counter cyber threats

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - U.S. military experts on Monday said current acquisition rules hamper their ability to respond quickly to a growing number of cyber attacks against U.S. weapons and computer networks and new approaches are needed.

Same-sex couples wed in Oregon after gay marriage ban lifted

PORTLAND, Oregon - Gay and lesbian couples clamored to be among the first in Oregon to exchange wedding vows on Monday after a federal judge struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage, sparking a day of celebration amid flowers, cakes and honking car horns.

NSA data-gathering may run into California roadblock

SACRAMENTO, California - The federal government would need a warrant from a judge if it wants the cooperation of California officials in searching residents' cellphone and computer records, under a bill making its way through the state legislature.

White House vows CIA will not use vaccine programs for covert ops

WASHINGTON - The White House promised on Monday that the CIA will not use immunization programs for its operations following a complaint that the spy agency used such a campaign in its hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Seattle mayor nominates chief to lead embattled police department

- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has nominated a former Boston police commissioner experienced in reforming troubled law enforcement agencies to lead his city's force, which is under federal monitoring stemming from an alleged pattern of excessive force.

Several people injured in explosion at Wisconsin foundry

MILWAUKEE - Seven people were injured on Monday in an explosion at a foundry in Wisconsin, rescue personnel and local media said.

California drought will cost thousands of farm jobs: study

SACRAMENTO, California - California's drought will cause thousands of workers to lose their jobs and cost farmers in the state's Central Valley breadbasket $1.7 billion, researchers said in the first economic study of what may be the state's driest year on record.

Multiple people injured in explosion at Wisconsin foundry

MILWAUKEE - An explosion at a foundry in Wisconsin caused multiple injuries on Monday, rescue personnel and local media said.

Minnesota 'man in black' bank robber gets 14 years in prison

- A defendant known as the "man in black" bank robber who was accused of 31 holdups in a year-long spree in Minnesota was sentenced on Monday to 14 years in federal prison on his guilty plea to six counts of armed bank robbery.

Seattle lawyer sentenced to 25 years for raping massage therapists

SEATTLE - A prominent attorney was sentenced on Monday to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to raping five women at Asian massage parlors in the Seattle area, his lawyer said.

U.S. meat labeling requirements come under fire in appeals court

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration's argument for keeping its labeling requirements in place for meat vendors is too broad and would give regulators too much power over how goods are labeled, judges in a U.S. appeals court said on Monday.

Indiana man gets eight years home detention for rape of sleeping wife

(This version of the May 16 story was officially corrected by prosecutors to say number of days Wise served in prison was 24, not 250.)

Federal judge orders Utah to recognize existing same-sex marriages

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah must recognize existing same-sex marriages performed during a 17-day window after a court briefly legalized gay nuptials in the conservative, heavily Mormon state, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

NBA sets June 3 for Sterling hearing

NEW YORK - The National Basketball Association charged Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Monday with damaging the league with racist comments and set a hearing for June 3 after which owners could vote to remove him.

U.S. judge denies stay of execution for Missouri inmate

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - A federal judge on Monday denied a Missouri inmate's motion to halt his execution after his lawyers argued he had a rare health condition that could lead to extreme pain and suffocation resulting from the lethal injection.

'Bottle bombs' blast empties Virginia theater; no injuries

- Two homemade "bottle bombs" filled with acid and metal shards exploded in a Virginia movie theater over the weekend, sending more than 2,000 frightened audience members scrambling for the exits, authorities said on Monday.

New York attorney general combats 'zombie houses' after Reuters probe

NEW YORK - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched a statewide effort to combat so-called zombie properties by encouraging the state legislature to pass the Abandoned Property Relief Act he proposed earlier this year.

Police commissioner in NH resigns after calling Obama the 'N' word

BOSTON - A police commissioner in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, has resigned under fire from town officials and residents after he called President Barack Obama the "N" word and refused to apologize, the police department said on Monday.

Mississippi man gets 25 years for sending ricin letter to Obama

JACKSON, Mississippi - A Mississippi man was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a federal judge on Monday after pleading guilty to sending ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama, a U.S. Senator and a state judge, prosecutors said.

Chicago pot arrests more likely than fines despite new law: study

CHICAGO - Chicago police are still far more likely to arrest people caught with small amounts of marijuana than ticket them as allowed under a 2012 ordinance intended to promote the more lenient penalties, a study released on Monday found.

Aspiring pro surfer charged with attempted murder in Hawaii

- An aspiring professional surfer and model in Hawaii has been charged with attempted murder over accusations she rammed her car into an elderly woman at the parking garage of a Waikiki apartment complex, prosecutors said on Monday.

Kerry calls on U.S. college graduates to face down climate change

BOSTON - The rapidly changing climate poses a threat of sparking greater global conflict, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday told the graduating class of Boston College, urging the graduates to play a role in pushing for new energy policies.

Connecticut dropout made bomb threats to hide status from family

MILFORD, Connecticut - A Connecticut college dropout was arrested Sunday night after admitting to calling in two bomb threats to keep her family from learning she had quit Quinnipiac University, police said on Monday.

Occupy Wall Street protester sentenced to 90 days jail for assault

NEW YORK - An Occupy Wall Street protester convicted of assaulting a police officer during a demonstration two years ago was sentenced on Monday to a 90-day jail term.

A year after deadly Oklahoma tornado, city braces for next twister

MOORE, Oklahoma - A year after a tornado ripped apart the Oklahoma city of Moore, killing 24 and injuring more than 300, residents face a shortage of storm shelters as they brace for a new season of potentially deadly twisters.

U.S. anti-gay marriage group seeks to intervene in Oregon case

PORTLAND, Oregon - A U.S. anti-gay marriage group seeking to block the legalization of same-sex nuptials in Oregon asked a federal appeals court on Monday to stay a lawsuit challenging the state's gay marriage ban so it can take a stand in the case.

Georgia court upholds law concealing execution drug sources

ATLANTA - Georgia's law shielding the identity and methods of companies that make its lethal injection drugs is constitutional and should not prevent death row inmate Warren Lee Hill from being executed, the state's Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

Police commissioner in NH resigns after calling Obama the 'N' word

BOSTON - A police commissioner in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, resigned on Monday under fire from town officials and residents after he called President Barack Obama the "N" word and refused to apologize, a police official said.

London imam Abu Hamza convicted of U.S. terrorism charges

NEW YORK - The London imam Abu Hamza al-Masri was convicted of terrorism charges in New York on Monday, following a four-week trial that shined a spotlight on the preacher's controversial anti-Western statements.

Illinois MERS patient 'not infectious'; Florida patient released

CHICAGO - An Illinois man who had tested positive for antibodies to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus in his blood is no longer infectious, state health officials said on Monday.

U.S. to accuse Chinese officials of cyber spying on companies

WASHINGTON - The United States plans to announce espionage charges Monday against five Chinese individuals in the military who are believed to have spied on American companies and stolen trade secrets, a U.S. government official familiar with the matter said.

Former Virginia governor, wife seek split trials in corruption case

RICHMOND, Virginia - Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife will try to notch a win in their battle against corruption charges on Monday by getting a federal judge to order separate trials for them.

Body found in Dallas creek was former assistant police chief

- The Dallas County Medical Examiner on Sunday positively identified a body found a day earlier in a north Dallas creek as that of the Dallas Police Department's former assistant chief, Gregory Holliday, police said.

Post-Snowden, the NSA's future rests on Admiral Rogers' shoulders

WASHINGTON - As U.S. National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers seeks to repair the damage to the agency caused by leaks about its electronic spying programs, the abuses of government revealed in the wake of the Watergate scandal are very much on his mind.

Republican chairman: Clinton's age, health 'fair game'

WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton's age and health are valid campaign issues if the 66-year-old Democrat makes another run for president in 2016, the Republican Party leader said on Sunday.

First responders visit New York's September 11 Memorial Museum

NEW YORK - Walking out of the new National September 11 Memorial Museum in lower Manhattan, John Feal, an advocate for first responders with health problems, said reliving that day was like a punch in the gut. But he might have also found a bit of closure.

Major southern California blaze mostly contained as some evacuees return

- Firefighters battling a major wildfire in southern California surrounded most of the blaze overnight, a fire official said on Saturday, as evacuated residents began to return to a region where dozens of homes were destroyed by a series of fires.

Utah top court halts adoptions by second parent of gay couples

SALT LAKE CITY - The Utah Supreme Court has temporarily blocked adoptions by the second parent of legally married gay couples while the justices decide whether the rights can be granted.

Blogger accused of exploiting Mississippi senator's ailing wife

JACKSON, Mississippi - A Mississippi blogger has been jailed on exploitation-related charges for posting photographs of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran's bedridden wife to the Internet after gaining access to her in a nursing home.

Detroit truck driver out of hospital six weeks after mob beating

- A driver beaten unconscious by a mob as he tried to help a child he struck accidentally with his truck in Detroit six weeks ago has been released from a hospital, a spokeswoman for the facility said on Saturday.

Illinois resident tests positive for MERS virus: CDC

CHICAGO - A resident in Illinois who had close contact with a patient in Indiana who is the first known U.S. case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, has tested positive for the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday.

Bush's dog, Miss Beazley, dies after battle with lymphoma

WASHINGTON - Miss Beazley, a Scottish terrier who was a frequent companion to George W. Bush and his wife, Laura in their White House years, was "put to rest after a battle with lymphoma," the former president said on Saturday.

Woman hurt in elevator shaft fall at Boston's Fenway Park

- A 22-year-old woman attending a baseball game at Boston's Fenway Park was injured on Friday night when elevator doors opened unexpectedly and she fell two floors down an empty shaft, officials said.

Cornell Brooks, lawyer and activist, named new head of NAACP

NEW YORK - Cornell William Brooks, a lawyer and civil rights activist, has been named president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the U.S. civil-rights group announced on Saturday.

Attorney general says racial equality threatened in subtle ways

- Attorney General Eric Holder said on Saturday while public utterances of bigotry are roundly condemned in the United States racial discrimination persists in more subtle ways.

New York recalls the World's Fair glory days

NEW YORK - The 1964 World's Fair in New York drew 51 million visitors to gaze in awe at its Technicolor visions of the future, sample exotic cuisines and join in singing along at the wildly popular "It's a Small World" attraction.

Exclusive: Obama allies revive push for Obamacare CEO

WASHINGTON - A group of healthcare experts close to the White House is urging the Obama administration to appoint a new chief executive officer to oversee Obamacare's online health insurance exchanges and safeguard the next open enrollment period that begins in six months.

Lockheed machinists on strike at Mississippi space center

WASHINGTON - Lockheed Martin Corp on Friday said it was disappointed that just over 100 union-represented workers at a Mississippi space center had decided to go on strike after rejecting the company's contract offer. The company said it hoped to resolve the issue soon.

Obama marks 60th anniversary of landmark desegregation ruling

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Friday commemorated the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling that outlawed racial segregation in U.S. schools and bolstered the civil rights movement that paved the way for Obama to become the first African-American president.

Christian metal singer sentenced to prison in California murder plot

SAN DIEGO - The lead singer for a heavy metal Christian rock band was sentenced on Friday to six years in prison for pleading guilty to trying to hire a hit man to kill his wife, prosecutors in California said.

Court limits mandatory detention of immigrants in California

- U.S. immigration authorities cannot detain without a bail hearing California immigrants who have been convicted of certain crimes unless the immigrants are transferred to their custody directly from jail, a judge has ruled.

Minnesota lawmakers approve limited legalization of medical marijuana

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota lawmakers on Friday approved legalizing medical marijuana in pill or liquid form for a limited number of patients suffering from severe or fatal illnesses.

U.S. judge halts force-feeding of Guantanamo prisoner

WASHINGTON - A U.S. federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked the military from force-feeding a Syrian prisoner on hunger striker at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Some California wildfire evacuees return home as weather shifts

SAN DIEGO - Several thousand suburban San Diego residents forced to flee a wildfire threatening their community were allowed to return home on Friday as firefighters gained ground against a swarm of blazes burning in and around California's second-largest city.

Ex-California fire chief arrested in girlfriend's murder

SACRAMENTO, California - A former California state fire chief suspected of murdering his live-in girlfriend and then evading capture for two weeks was arrested on Friday, Sacramento County authorities said.

Arkansas Supreme Court halts same-sex marriages in state

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas - The Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday issued stay to halt the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the state, which was the first and only state in the U.S. South to allow gay marriages.

Clippers owner to fight NBA fine, penalty over racist remarks: report

- The attorney for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has told the NBA his client won't pay a league-issued $2.5 million fine, and that he will fight league punishment over his racist comments, Sports Illustrated reported.

Nitrogen cocktail iced after woman is hospitalized in Miami

MIAMI BEACH, Florida - A trendy South Beach restaurant has pulled liquid nitrogen cocktails off its menu after a woman was served a drink with too much of the sub-zero liquid and was rushed to the hospital with a burned esophagus.

Indiana man gets 8 years home detention for rape of sleeping wife

- An Indiana man was sentenced on Friday to eight years of home detention after being convicted of raping his wife when she was asleep and likely drugged, prosecutors said.

U.S. immigration officials to review case of Cuban-born army vet

ORLANDO, Florida - Immigration officials are reviewing the case of Cuban-born U.S. Army veteran Mario Hernandez, who discovered he was not a U.S. citizen decades after he believed he had been naturalized when he enlisted during the Vietnam War era, a spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said on Friday.

Mother sues over N.Y. inmate's death in 'sweltering' cell

NEW YORK - The mother of a New York City inmate who died earlier this year after spending hours in what she said was a sweltering prison cell is seeking $25 million in damages, her attorneys said on Friday.

New Hampshire town urges police commissioner to quit over Obama racial slur

BOSTON - Officials in a small New Hampshire town on Friday urged a police commissioner to resign after he admitted calling U.S. President Barack Obama the 'N' word and refused to apologize.

Man who walked into Utah hospital with gun is shot, wounded by police

SALT LAKE CITY - A man who walked into a Utah hospital emergency room with a gun was shot four times by a pair of parole officers and critically wounded on Friday, police said.

Missouri inmate wants his execution videotaped

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - A Missouri death row inmate is asking a federal court to allow videotaping his execution, scheduled for next week, to record any evidence of cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Memorial Day road trippers to hit near 10-year high: AAA

NEW YORK - The number of drivers taking to the road for Memorial Day weekend will hit a 10-year record as travelers gear up for summer after a severe winter, travel group AAA forecast on Friday.

Hundreds at rally hail ruling to overturn Idaho gay marriage ban

SALMON, Idaho - Hundreds of gay rights activists rallied in Boise on Friday to acclaim a federal judge's ruling that overturned Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage, even as they registered disappointment with a stay that prevented marriages from taking place immediately.

Six steel workers injured after explosion at Tennessee plant

NASHVILLE, Tennessee - Six employees were injured, one seriously, in an explosion at a Knoxville, Tennessee, steel mill that was so powerful it rattled houses up to five miles away, authorities said on Friday.

Fugitive fire chief wanted for murder may be in Mexico, Canada

SACRAMENTO, California - Thwarted so far in efforts to find a fugitive former fire chief suspected of stabbing his girlfriend to death, California homicide detectives may seek help from law enforcement agencies in Mexico and Canada, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

Florida woman pleads self-defense after firing 'warning shot' at husband

JACKSONVILLE, Florida - Attorneys for a north Florida woman facing trial for allegedly firing a gun at her estranged husband went to court on Friday to ask a judge to drop all charges against the mother of three on self-defense grounds.

Crack-smoking Bahamian pleads guilty to smuggling Haitians

MIAMI - A Bahamian man who was allegedly drunk and high on crack cocaine when his boat carrying more than a dozen migrants capsized a few miles from Miami has pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling migrants and convicted felons into the United States.

Idaho man accused of imprisoning woman as sex slave

SALMON, Idaho - An Idaho man was charged with kidnapping and rape tied to a woman's claims that he forced her to be a sex slave after imprisoning her in a house equipped with chains and locks on walls, floors and doors, authorities said on Thursday.

Southern California wildfires force 125,000 to flee, one dead

SAN DIEGO - A towering wall of flames charged a hillside California community on Thursday as firefighters battled fierce wildfires that have forced 125,000 people to flee homes in the San Diego area and may have killed at least one person.

Accused Boston bomber's friend suspected guilt, agent says

BOSTON - A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber grew suspicious that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had carried out the attack when he threw away a backpack and laptop he had removed from the suspect's dorm room, a federal agent testified on Thursday.

Report says firefighters killed at Texas plant explosion were unprepared

NEW YORK - The 12 firefighters who died battling a blaze at a Texas fertilizer plant last year were unprepared for the ferocity of the fire and should have focused on evacuating the area rather than extinguishing the flames, said a report released Thursday.

California voters to consider raising four-decade-old cap on medical malpractice awards

SAN FRANCISCO - California in November will vote on whether to raise a four-decade-old cap on medical malpractice awards to $1.1 million, from $250,000, officials said on Thursday, likely ensuring a bitter and costly fight between lawyers backing the measure and doctors who oppose it.

New York's pension 'smoothing' may short-change retirement fund

NEW YORK - New Yorkers who rely on the state pension fund for their retirement may be short-changed about $735 million over the next 10 years as a result of Governor Andrew Cuomo's policy of permitting local authorities to defer fund payments so they can fill budget gaps and pay for services such as schools, street lights and police.

Consumer group launches bid to require labels on GMO food in Oregon

PORTLAND - Activists seeking a tighter rein on genetically modified foods said on Thursday they planned to push ahead with a signature-gathering campaign to force a measure onto the ballot in left-leaning Oregon to require labeling on such products.

Detroit creditors dealt setback on art plan

DETROIT - A federal judge on Thursday refused to give some of Detroit's creditors unfettered access to art works and related documents in order to pursue a plan to increase the pot of money available for bankrupt Detroit to pay its debts.

U.S. won't immediately deport man who took refuge in Arizona church

TUCSON, Arizona - U.S. Immigration and Customs officials will not immediately act to deport a Mexican immigrant who took refuge in an Arizona church to avoid an order of deportation from a country where he has lived illegally for over a decade and raised a family.

N.Y. lawmakers consider ban on gay 'conversion therapy' for minors

NEW YORK - New York lawmakers on Thursday heard testimony on a bill that would ban licensed therapists from counseling gay and lesbian minors to change their sexual orientation, amid a growing wave of backlash against the practice.

Arkansas judge strengthens ruling striking down gay marriage ban

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas - An Arkansas judge who struck down the state's ban on same—sex marriage strengthened his decision on Thursday, re-authorizing gay and lesbian weddings after confusion over his original order had prompted their suspension for several hours.

New Maryland law makes transgender discrimination illegal

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland - Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Thursday signed into law a bill banning discrimination against transgender people, the latest in a series of progressive measures approved by the Democrat.

U.S. appeals court stays ruling overturning Idaho gay marriage ban

SALMON, Idaho - A U.S. appeals court on Thursday put on hold a federal judge's ruling that overturned Idaho's ban on gay marriage so it could consider motions for a longer stay, blocking same-sex nuptials a day before they would otherwise have been allowed.

Ex-U.S. air marshal pleads no contest to taking unlawful photos

NASHVILLE, Tennessee - A former federal air marshal who was accused of using his cell phone to take pictures up the skirts of women as they boarded a flight at a Nashville airport last October pleaded no contest and was found conditionally guilty of unlawful photography.

U.S. allows limited exceptions to ivory ban for instruments, art

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government on Thursday took steps to allow limited exceptions to its broad prohibition on the commercial trade in elephant ivory, exempting certain older musical instruments with ivory components as well as ivory in museum and art exhibitions.

Pennsylvania teen charged with sending poison card to love rival

PHILADELPHIA - A suburban Philadelphia teen charged with attempted murder in connection with a ricin-laced birthday card sent to try to scare off a romantic rival is headed to trial.

Chicago could be freed from federal hiring oversight: attorneys

CHICAGO - A Chicago attorney who has fought patronage hiring in the city for 45 years said on Thursday the city has fixed its hiring practices - paving the way for Chicago to be released from federal oversight of its hiring as early as next month.

Florida hospital workers test negative for MERS virus

MIAMI - All of the healthcare workers who came into contact with a patient in Florida who was suffering from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have tested negative for the often-deadly virus, state health officials said on Thursday.

U.S. appeals court stays ruling overturning Idaho gay marriage ban

SALMON, Idaho - A U.S. appeals court on Thursday put on hold a federal judge's ruling that overturned Idaho's ban on gay marriage so it could consider motions for a longer stay, blocking same-sex nuptials a day before they would otherwise have been allowed.

Firefighters toil to tame raging San Diego wildfires

SAN DIEGO - Firefighters took advantage of a lull in wind conditions to try to gain the upper hand on Thursday against nine California wildfires that have forced the evacuation of thousands of San Diego area residents and burned dozens of homes, officials said.

California consumers say duped by Blue Shield's limited Obamacare plans

- Consumers who purchased new health plans from Blue Shield of California have sued the insurer, claiming they were misled into thinking the insurance would cover their desired doctors and hospitals.

Texas woman, 31, arrested for posing as high school teenager

- A 31-year-old woman has been arrested after several months posing as a teenage student at a private high school in Texas, local media reported.

Federal judge upholds D.C.'s gun law

WASHINGTON - A U.S. federal judge on Thursday upheld a Washington D.C. gun law that bans assault weapons and requires owners of other firearms to follow certain registration requirements, including that they pass a test and safety course.

Accused Boston bomber's friend suspected guilt, agent says

BOSTON - A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber grew suspicious that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had carried out the attack when he threw away a backpack and laptop he had removed from the suspect's dorm room, a federal agent testified on Thursday.

Nextdoor CEO Tolia faces lawsuits over hit-and-run accident

SAN FRANCISCO - Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia, whose social networking website espouses neighborhood safety and community, is facing civil and criminal charges for leaving the scene of a highway accident that a driver says he caused.

Missouri governor critical of 72-hour abortion wait law

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said on Thursday he has "profound concerns" about a bill state lawmakers approved this week requiring women to wait 72 hours for an abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.

Mayor's wife carjacked in front of home in Pennsylvania city

PHILADELPHIA - The wife of the mayor of Chester, Pennsylvania, was carjacked at gunpoint in front of her home and one man was arrested on robbery charges in the incident, police said on Thursday.

Suspect in missing Fort Bragg soldier's death due in court

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina - The man accused of killing a U.S. soldier whose remains were found more than two years after she went missing in North Carolina is due in court on Thursday for his first appearance on murder and kidnapping charges.

Ousted Trenton, New Jersey, mayor faces prison for corruption

- Tony Mack, found guilty of corruption and forced to resign as mayor of Trenton, New Jersey, faces up to 110 years behind bars at sentencing on Thursday for his part in a kickback scheme involving city-owned land.

Propane battles natural gas for share of U.S. transport market

NEW YORK - Last November, Nicholas Jackson, the transport chief responsible for Cleveland's school buses, found himself in the middle of a battle for business in the niche world of alternative fuels.

Ex-NFL star Hernandez charged in Boston double-murder: report

BOSTON - Former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez was indicted on Thursday for the 2012 murder of two men in a Boston drive-by shooting, according to the Boston Globe, which cited two officials briefed on the case.

Accused Boston bomber's friend suspected guilt, agent says

BOSTON - A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber suspected that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had carried out the attack when he threw away a backpack and laptop he had removed from the suspect's dorm room, a federal agent testified on Thursday.

Pipeline breaks, spills crude oil into Los Angeles neighborhood

- Thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled over a half-mile area in Los Angeles on Thursday due to a break in an above-ground Plains West Coast pipeline, the city fire department said.

U.S. jury begins deliberating in trial of London imam Abu Hamza

NEW YORK - The fate of London imam Abu Hamza al-Masri is in the hands of a New York jury, which began deliberating on Thursday on whether to convict him on terrorism-related charges.

Ex-NFL star Hernandez charged in Boston double-murder

BOSTON - Former New England Patriots football star Aaron Hernandez has been charged with murder in a 2012 Boston double homicide, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said at a press conference on Thursday.

Obama opens 9/11 memorial, a 'sacred place of healing and hope'

NEW YORK - President Barack Obama led an emotional dedication on Thursday of a museum that commemorates the traumatic events of September 11, 2001, built on the "ground zero" site of the twin towers that fell that day.

Ex-NFL star Hernandez charged in Boston double-murder

BOSTON - Former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez has been charged with murder in the 2012 drive-by shooting of two men outside a Boston nightclub, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said on Thursday.

U.S. fast-food workers go on strike to protest low pay

CHICAGO - U.S. fast-food workers went out on strike on Thursday, aiming to convince thousands of restaurants they make huge profits from paying them a pittance and that they deserve a raise.

DJ Casey Kasem found in Washington state: family spokesman

SEATTLE - Casey Kasem, the ailing U.S. radio personality and voice of Shaggy on the "Scooby-Doo" cartoons, has been located in the U.S. state of Washington after his daughter told a court his whereabouts were unknown to her.

Two sick U.S. hospital workers test negative for MERS virus

ORLANDO - Two U.S. hospital workers who fell ill after contact with a patient suffering from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have tested negative for the often-deadly virus, a Florida health official said on Wednesday.

North Dakota crude does not need special handling: U.S. refiners

WASHINGTON - Despite several fiery mishaps involving fuel produced in North Dakota's Bakken energy patch, cargo from the region does not need special handling when it moves on the tracks, the leading voice for U.S. refiners said on Wednesday.

Birth defect in some rural Washington state babies stumps scientists

OLYMPIA, Washington - An alarming number of babies in a rural swath of central Washington state over the last four years have been born with a rare and fatal defect that leaves them without part of their brain and skull, and scientists are stumped.

Remains of missing Fort Bragg medic found; suspect arrested

Fayetteville, North Carolina - The remains of former U.S. Army combat medic, Kelli Bordeaux, were found Wednesday morning in a wooded area about four miles from the North Carolina bar where she was last seen alive more than two years ago.

U.S. health officials urge use of HIV pill for at-risk individuals

CHICAGO - U.S. health officials on Wednesday issued new recommendations urging healthcare workers to consider offering an HIV prevention pill to healthy individuals who are at substantial risk for HIV infection.

California duo gets jail time for baggage theft after Asiana crash

SAN FRANCISCO - A United Airlines customer service representative and his wife were sentenced to jail time for stealing unclaimed luggage from a flight that was diverted after the fatal crash of an Asiana Airlines plane last year, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Hawaii scuba diver says breathing apparatus ripped off in rare attack

- Hawaii officials are investigating a potentially deadly underwater attack on a scuba diver who reported that another diver ripped off her breathing apparatus at a depth of 50 feet, in a rare incident caught on video.

Remains of missing Fort Bragg medic found; suspect arrested

Fayetteville, North Carolina - The remains of former U.S. Army combat medic, Kelli Bordeaux, were found Wednesday morning in a wooded area about four miles from the North Carolina bar where she was last seen alive more than two years ago.

Arkansas top court leaves in place decision allowing gay marriage

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas - The Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday left in place a lower court ruling that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that the state's petition was prematurely filed.

Mexican immigrant seeks refuge from deportation in Arizona church

TUCSON, Arizona - A Mexican immigrant who has lived illegally in the United States for more than a decade has taken refuge in an Arizona church after he was ordered deported, in a high-profile and highly personal challenge to U.S. immigration policy.

Retired Chicago official charged with graft over red light cameras

- A retired Chicago official who once ran the city's red light camera program was charged with graft on Wednesday on suspicion of taking bribes in return for contracts worth $124 million for cameras used to catch motorists running stop lights.

Homes destroyed as thousands flee Southern California wildfire

SAN DIEGO - More than 20 structures, including several homes, burned to the ground and thousands of people were ordered to evacuate on Wednesday, as a wind-lashed wildfire roared out of control in the heart of a Southern California coastal community.

GM orders review of how safety issues reach board after ignition defect: WSJ

- General Motors Co has hired a law firm to review how information about defective ignition switches in its cars reached board members, the Wall Street Journal reported citing a person close to the board.

Video captures family cat saving California boy from dog attack

- A California child pulled from his bike by an attacking dog was saved by his family's cat on Tuesday, which quickly rushed in and attacked the dog, a video posted on YouTube showed on Wednesday.

New York's September 11 Memorial Museum readies for its close-up

NEW YORK - A museum memorializing the September 11, 2001, attacks opens this week to victims' family members and next week to the public, displaying artifacts from mangled columns recalling the enormity of that fateful day to shattered eyeglasses recalling its personal pain.

N.Y. school board president resigns after calling parent 'chubby wubby'

NEW YORK - A school board president in a small upstate New York town has resigned after a video of him calling a parent "chubby wubby" at a meeting surfaced online, school officials said on Wednesday.

'Miracle baby' survives 11-story fall from Minneapolis apartment

- A 15-month-old boy described by doctors as a "miracle baby" was in critical condition at a Minneapolis hospital on Wednesday after surviving an 11-story fall from the balcony of an apartment building.

FBI offers reward in search for decapitated Georgia man's widow

ATLANTA - The FBI on Wednesday offered a reward of up to $20,000 for information on a missing 87-year-old Georgia woman whose husband was found beheaded in the couple's home.

New lung cancer screening guidelines could cost Medicare $9.3 billion

CHICAGO - A study of Medicare beneficiaries with a history of heavy smoking found that new lung cancer screening guidelines would likely double the proportion of lung cancers found at an early stage, but at a steep cost of some $9.3 billion over five years, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

Elevator halts at reopened Washington Monument

WASHINGTON - The elevator in the Washington Monument stopped working on Wednesday, frustrating visitors two days after the U.S. capital landmark reopened to the public.

Vandals hit playgrounds honoring Connecticut school massacre victims

MYSTIC, Connecticut - A playground honoring a 7-year-old victim of the Sandy Hook School massacre in Connecticut was vandalized by a man who told the girl's mother in a phone call just days before Mother's Day that the shootings were a "hoax" and her daughter never existed, authorities said on Wednesday.

U.S. health agency to erase sex bias in biomedical studies

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government's medical research agency is taking steps to erase sex bias in pivotal biomedical studies that pave the way for human clinical trials, saying scientists too often favor male over female laboratory animals and cells.

Prosecutors call London imam's testimony lies as U.S. trial ends

NEW YORK - London imam Abu Hamza al-Masri engineered an international campaign to commit violent jihad, despite his testimony that he never conspired to harm anyone, a U.S. prosecutor said on Wednesday as Abu Hamza's trial drew to a close.

U.S. judge denies Idaho governor's bid to stay gay marriage ruling

SALMON, Idaho - A federal judge who struck down Idaho's ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional denied a bid by the conservative state's governor on Wednesday for a stay of the decision while Idaho pursues an appeal of the case.

Trains for grains scarce on the U.S. Plains

- In the northern U.S. Plains, where there are no commercially navigable rivers, the U.S. rail system long has served as the lone, dependable way for farms to move grain hundreds of miles to reach ports and sell around the world.

Muslim group calls for probe of FBI agent in Orlando shooting

ORLANDO, Florida - A Muslim civil rights group is demanding an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and state officials into what it calls the "checkered history" of the FBI agent recently cleared in the fatal 2013 shooting of Ibragim Todashev, an acquaintance of one of the accused Boston Marathon bombers.

Dallas-bound flight makes emergency landing in Tulsa

- No one was injured on Wednesday when an American Airlines flight made an emergency landing at Tulsa International Airport after experiencing mechanical problems, officials said.

Student wounded in shooting outside California high school: report

- A student was wounded in a shooting outside a northern California high school on Wednesday and the school was placed on lockdown, a Bay Area NBC affiliate reported.

Hillary Clinton didn't suffer brain damage from blood clot: Bill Clinton

WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton's husband on Wednesday denied a report that the potential Democratic presidential candidate suffered brain damage from a 2012 blood clot.

Hundreds contact FBI in U.S. about overseas pedophile teacher

WASHINGTON - Several hundred people have contacted U.S. agents investigating a teacher suspected of molesting boys while teaching at American schools around the world, an FBI spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Frugal U.S. consumers make it tough for food companies to raise prices

NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES - Rebecca Sumrow is one of the customers food and restaurant company executives have in mind when they consider raising prices to offset higher costs as meat and milk soar to record highs.

Two sick U.S. hospital workers test negative for MERS virus

ORLANDO - Two U.S. hospital workers who fell ill after contact with a patient suffering from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have tested negative for the often-deadly virus, a Florida health official said on Wednesday.

'Miracle baby' survives 11-story fall from Minneapolis apartment

- A 15-month-old boy described by doctors as a "miracle baby" was in critical condition at a Minneapolis hospital on Wednesday after surviving an 11-story fall from the balcony of an apartment building.

Man charged with attempted murder for Maryland TV station crash

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland - A Maryland man who crashed a stolen landscaping truck into a television station lobby has been charged with three counts of second-degree attempted murder, police said on Wednesday.

Explorer seeks to speed excavation of possible Santa Maria wreckage

NEW YORK - An underwater explorer who believes he has located the 500-year-old remains of Christopher Columbus' flagship, the Santa Maria, off the northern coast of Haiti said on Wednesday he hopes to begin excavation as early as next week.

New York's September 11 Memorial Museum readies for its close-up

NEW YORK - A museum commemorating the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington is on the verge of opening, with wrenchingly familiar sights as well as artifacts never before on public display.

Hearing on accused Boston bomber's friends focuses on FBI agents

BOSTON - Attorneys for one of the accused Boston Marathon bomber's three friends charged with hampering the investigation will question an FBI agent on Wednesday as they try to prevent early statements by their client from being read at his upcoming trial.

Pentagon considers options for Chelsea Manning detention

JEDDAH - The U.S. military is considering options for the detention of a transgender soldier who is serving 35 years in prison for turning over secret files to WikiLeaks and has requested hormone therapy, including moving the private to a civilian prison, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

Suspect charged in shooting of five near Atlanta high school

ATLANTA - A 17-year-old suspect has been charged in the shooting of five people near an Atlanta-area high school on Tuesday, police and a media report said.

Florida MERS patient sat in busy ER for hours

ORLANDO - The second U.S. patient to be diagnosed with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) spent at least four hours in the public waiting room of a busy Florida emergency department before he was seen by a doctor, a hospital official said.

U.S. judge orders fired executive to leave Pacifica Foundation office

SAN FRANCISCO - A U.S. judge has ordered the fired executive director of California's Pacifica Foundation Radio in Berkeley to leave the office she has been occupying around the clock for the last two months, saying she was trespassing.

As U.S. trucks revved up amid train traffic jam, a capacity crisis revealed

NEW YORK - As a polar vortex snarled North America's railroads and upended freight flows this winter, everyone from agricultural giant Cargill to Dow Chemical rushed to secure the next-best form of hauling goods: trucks.

Pennsylvania's Haverford College latest to lose commencement speaker

PHILADELPHIA - A former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, has backed out of a commencement speech at Haverford College over student opposition to actions he took in response to the Occupy movement on the California campus.

U.S. court says trademarks can't disparage religious, ethnic groups

WASHINGTON - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld a decision to refuse to allow the owners of a website titled "Stop! Islamization of America" to trademark the site's name, in a case that legal experts think has implications for the long-running fight over the name of the Washington Redskins NFL team.

California considers distributing condoms to prisoners

SACRAMENTO, California - Condoms could eventually be distributed to California prison inmates under a bill that moved forward in the state Senate on Tuesday, setting the stage for potential pushback from Governor Jerry Brown, who vetoed a similar measure last fall.

State leaders in Florida approve plan to add two nuclear reactors

TALLAHASSEE, Florida - Florida Governor Rick Scott and members of the Cabinet on Tuesday approved plans by the state's largest electric company to add two nuclear reactors to a plant in the Miami area, despite an outcry by environmentalists and some surrounding communities.

Seattle mayor proposes tax hike to limit cuts to bus service

- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, looking to push his left-leaning policies despite resistance from more conservative suburban residents, on Tuesday proposed a citywide vote on tax hikes to stave off cuts to bus services.

Federal probe could leave Utah ATV protest riders facing charges

SALT LAKE CITY - Federal agents have launched a damage inspection of protected archeological sites in southern Utah where public-lands activists on all-terrain vehicles staged a weekend protest ride challenging the prolonged government closure of a canyon trail.

Coal mine collapse in West Virginia kills two miners

BECKLEY, West Virginia - The West Virginia coal mine where a collapse this week killed two workers had "chronic compliance issues" and received numerous citations from inspectors last year, federal authorities said on Tuesday.

Two U.S. health workers ill after MERS exposure; World Health body meets in Geneva

- Two health workers at a Florida hospital exposed to a patient with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome have begun showing flu-like symptoms, raising concerns about the ability of global health authorities to contain the mysterious and deadly virus.

U.S. court says trademarks can't disparage religious, ethnic groups

WASHINGTON - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld a decision to refuse to allow the owners of a website titled "Stop! Islamization of America" to trademark the site's name, in a case that legal experts think has implications for the long-running fight over the name of the Washington Redskins NFL team.

Judge overturns Idaho ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional

SALMON, Idaho - A federal judge struck down Idaho's ban on gay marriage on Tuesday, saying it relegated same-sex couples to a second-class status in violation of constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law.

More than 20,000 homes evacuated in path of San Diego wildfire

LOS ANGELES - More than 20,000 homes and other residences were being evacuated in and around San Diego on Tuesday as a fast-moving California wildfire driven by high winds blackened more than a square mile, fire and county officials said.

Louisiana author claims in book Zodiac killer is his father

LOS ANGELES - The author of a new book released on Tuesday claims he is the son of the notorious Zodiac killer, an unidentified serial killer who terrorized Northern California in the late 1960s.

California man facing terrorism charges denied house arrest

SAN FRANCISCO - A California man charged with attempting to travel to Syria to fight alongside an al Qaeda splinter group was denied a request to be put under house arrest while he awaits trial, a federal judge in California ruled on Tuesday.

Climber falls to death from atop Oregon's Mt Hood

PORTLAND, Oregon - A climber is thought to have fallen roughly 700 to 800 feet to his death from the top of Oregon's Mt. Hood on Tuesday as another stunned climber looked on, the Hood River sheriff's office said, in the first such fatality this year.

12-year-old Nevada shooter complained of being teased: police

- A 12-year-old boy who went on a shooting rampage at his Nevada middle school in October, killing a teacher and injuring two students before turning the gun on himself, had complained days earlier of being teased by classmates, police said on Tuesday.

Coal mine collapse in West Virginia kills two miners

BECKLEY, West Virginia - The West Virginia coal mine where a collapse this week killed two workers had "chronic compliance issues" and received numerous citations from inspectors last year, federal authorities said on Tuesday.

Texas plans first execution since Oklahoma's botched lethal injection

AUSTIN, Texas - Texas is set to put to death convicted rapist and murderer Robert James Campbell on Tuesday in the first execution in the United States since a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma in April raised questions about capital punishment in the country.

Obama awards Medal of Honor to Army sergeant for heroism in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor, America's highest military honor, to a former Army sergeant on Tuesday for saving the life of a fellow soldier and calling in air support to beat back an ambush in Afghanistan in 2007.

Automakers mull aid to art museum in Detroit bankruptcy

DETROIT - Detroit's three automakers are mulling a request by the city's art museum to help it raise money for a key component of Detroit's plan to restructure its debt and exit bankruptcy, representatives of the companies said on Tuesday.

Baltimore sets youth curfew to curb crime, violence

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland - Baltimore has become the latest U.S. city planning to set curfews for teenagers to curb rising crime, with critics calling the move legal overreach.

Cuban-born man denied citizenship after almost 50 years in U.S

ORLANDO, Florida - Mario Hernandez, 58, passed multiple background checks to serve in the U.S. Army and as a federal prison guard trusted enough to watch over Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Local bans try to put lid on Washington state pot shop investors

GIG HARBOR, Washington - Tedd Wetherbee spent months, and at least $30,000, setting up his marijuana shop in the Puget Sound hamlet of Gig Harbor, and planned a grand opening once his Washington state retail license was issued in July.

Smoke at Chicago-area radar center cancels hundreds of flights

CHICAGO - Smoke at an Illinois flight control center halted air traffic at Chicago airports for about three hours on Tuesday and forced hundreds of flights to be canceled, officials said.

U.S. charges ex-Liberian defense minister with lying in citizenship bid

- A former Liberian defense minister, said by the United States to be a war criminal, has been arrested in New Jersey and charged with lying on his application to become a U.S. citizen about his past role in seeking control of the West African country.

U.S. solar experts say IRS tax proposal little help to big projects

WASHINGTON - An attempt by the Obama administration to use tax breaks to boost solar energy businesses falls short of expectations among industry officials who were hoping to lure more investors for their projects, analysts and tax lawyers said on Tuesday.

Climber falls to death from atop Oregon's Mt Hood

PORTLAND, Oregon - A climber is thought to have fallen roughly 700 to 800 feet to his death from the top of Oregon's Mt. Hood on Tuesday as at least one other stunned climber looked on, the Hood River Sheriff's Office said.

Ninety people arrested across U.S. in $260 million Medicare fraud

MIAMI - Ninety people, including doctors, pharmacy owners and elderly patients, were arrested this week in six cities and charged with submitting fake billings to Medicare worth nearly $260 million, federal officials said on Tuesday.

U.S. appeals court grants stay hours before Texas execution

AUSTIN, Texas - A U.S. appeals court granted a stay of execution for a Texas inmate hours before he was to be put to death on Tuesday to see if the punishment should be suspended because the convict was intellectually disabled.

New Mexico county defies U.S. government over cattle grazing

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - A rural New Mexico county has voted to defy the federal government and give a rancher's cattle access to a watering hole fenced off by the Forest Service in the latest dispute over federal control of public land in the U.S. West.

Five students injured in shooting near Atlanta area high school

ATLANTA - Five students were shot near an Atlanta area high school on Tuesday afternoon, although none of the injuries was life threatening, police said.

'American Idol' runner-up Clay Aiken wins N.C. congressional primary

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina - "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. congressional seat in North Carolina on Tuesday, a day after his main challenger died from a fall, official results showed.

Slain German student may have entered Montana garage for alcohol

MISSOULA, Montana - A German foreign exchange student shot dead by a Montana homeowner had entered the man's property while "garage hopping" in a possible search for alcohol, an activity learned from friends, authorities said in court documents filed this week.

Seattle airport jetway falls as passengers exit plane; no injuries

- A jetway collapsed on Tuesday at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as passengers were exiting a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix, but no one was injured in the incident, an airport spokeswoman said.

Obama: Small window to get immigration reform done this year

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said on Tuesday there was a small window of opportunity now to pass immigration reform in the House of Representatives, before Washington's attention turned completely to the November midterm congressional elections.

Rabbi charged with stealing $12.4 million from New York disabled kids

NEW YORK - A New York rabbi and three others were indicted for stealing over $12.4 million in public aid for disabled pre-schoolers and using it to spruce up their homes, get catering discounts and fund a relative's cosmetics business, authorities said on Tuesday.

Possibly armed suspect crashes car into Maryland TV news station: police

NEW YORK - A possibly armed suspect crashed a vehicle into a Maryland television news station and has barricaded himself inside the building, police and witnesses said on Tuesday.

Flights halted at Chicago airports due to smoke at radar center

- Flights into and out of Chicago's two major airports were halted near midday Tuesday after workers were forced to clear a Federal Aviation Administration flight approach control center in Elgin, Illinois, due to smoke in the building, an FAA spokesman said.

U.S. seeks prison time for ex-Guatemalan leader after bribe plea

NEW YORK - U.S. prosecutors are pushing for a prison sentence for former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo that ensures he remains behind bars after admitting to taking $2.5 million in bribes from Taiwan and laundering funds through U.S. banks.

Two Orlando health workers ill after exposure to MERS patient

- Two health workers at a hospital in Orlando, Florida, who were exposed to a patient with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome have begun showing flu-like symptoms, and one of the two has been hospitalized.

Aide to New Jersey Governor Christie called to testify in 'Bridgegate' probe

NEW YORK - A top spokesman for Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is scheduled to testify in Trenton on Tuesday about a scheme to create traffic gridlock at the George Washington Bridge last year, apparently as political payback.

Texas plans first execution since Oklahoma's botched lethal injection

AUSTIN, Texas - Texas is set to put to death convicted rapist and murderer Robert James Campbell on Tuesday in the first execution in the United States since a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma in April raised questions about capital punishment in the country.

Judge denies bid to move trial of accused Boston bombers' friends

BOSTON - A U.S. judge denied a request on Tuesday to move the trials of three friends of the accused Boston Marathon bomber, on charges that they hampered an investigation into the deadly 2013 blasts, outside of Massachusetts.

New Jersey woman found stabbed to death, sons found in South Carolina

(In paragraph 4, thisMay 10 story was refiled to correct to Friday from Saturday)

Shipwreck off Haiti could be Columbus's Santa Maria, explorers say

MIAMI - A shipwreck found off the north coast of Haiti could be the 500-year-old remains of the Santa Maria, which led Christopher Columbus's famed voyage to the New World, according to a team of marine explorers.

Coal mine collapse in West Virginia kills two miners

BECKLEY, West Virginia - Rescue workers on Tuesday clawed through the wreckage of a collapsed Patriot Coal Corp mine in Wharton, West Virginia, where two miners were killed, officials said.

Automakers mull aid to art museum in Detroit bankruptcy

DETROIT - Detroit's three automakers are mulling a request by the city's art museum to help it raise money for a key component of Detroit's plan to restructure its debt and exit bankruptcy, representatives of the companies said on Tuesday.

Mexican gets life sentence for death of U.S. Coast Guard officer: report

- A Mexican man convicted in the 2012 killing of a U.S. Coast Guard officer, the first on-duty death since 1927, was sentenced on Monday to life in federal prison without the possibility of parole, a newspaper reported.

U.S. confirms second case of MERS

CHICAGO/ORLANDO - U.S. health officials confirmed the country's second case of MERS, a deadly virus first discovered in the Middle East, and said the patient was in good condition in an Orlando, Florida hospital.

Police officer shot dead in New Hampshire house gunfight

- A veteran policeman was shot dead on Monday as he responded to reports of a domestic fight at a New Hampshire home that later caught fire and exploded, officials and local media said.

California bill would ban fundraising bashes at lobbyists' homes

- Battered by scandals, lawmakers in California on Monday moved forward on a bill banning lobbyists from throwing lavish fundraising parties at their homes for candidates and elected officials.

U.S. objects to Detroit debt plan in bankruptcy court

- The U.S. government on Monday filed an objection to Detroit's plan to deal with $18 billion of debt and exit the biggest municipal bankruptcy in the nation's history.

New Mexico wildfire forces evacuations, threatens college town

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - A wind-fed wildfire in New Mexico raged out of control on Monday, sending heavy smoke wafting over the outskirts of a college town and forcing local authorities to warn residents of a nearby community to evacuate, the U.S. Forest Service said.

IMF's Lagarde backs out of planned graduation speech at U.S. college

BOSTON - The managing director of the International Monetary Fund on Monday canceled a planned commencement speech at one of the most prestigious U.S. women's colleges after students protested honoring an organization that supports "patriarchal systems."

Five killed in California car crash said to be family on way to Disneyland

LOS ANGELES - Five people who died in a California car crash on Mother's Day were all members of the same family who had been on their way to Disneyland at the time of the traffic accident, local media reported on Monday.

Manhunt on for three Detroit drug dealers who fled before verdict

DETROIT - Three fez-wearing drug dealers facing life in prison skipped out on Monday before a federal jury returned guilty verdicts against them at a Detroit courthouse, sparking a wide manhunt, authorities said.

Medicare pays billions of dollars for wasteful procedures -study

NEW YORK - As many as 42 percent of U.S. Medicare patients were subjected to procedures providing little if any medical benefit, costing the government program up to $8.5 billion in wasteful spending, according to a study published on Monday.

Virginia governor orders review of abortion clinic rules

RICHMOND, Virginia - Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, on Monday ordered a review of "extreme and punitive" state health rules that make it harder to operate abortion clinics, saying he would protect women's rights to make health decisions.

Aspiring lawyer gets probation for beheading bird in Las Vegas

- An aspiring lawyer from California was sentenced to up to four years of probation on Monday for drunkenly beheading a bird at a Las Vegas hotel in 2012, prosecutors said.

May storm buries Colorado flower beds under three feet of snow

- A mid-May snowstorm dumped as much as 3 feet of snow on Colorado's Rocky Mountains on Monday, while the U.S. Midwest braced for hail and other severe weather, forecasters said.

London imam claims at U.S. trial he tried to help Yemen hostages

NEW YORK - London imam Abu Hamza admitted to a U.S. jury on Monday that he provided a satellite phone to Yemeni militants months before they kidnapped Western tourists in 1998 and spoke to their leader just three hours after the hostages were taken.

'American Idol' runner-up Clay Aiken's key Democratic opponent dies

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina - U.S. congressional candidate Keith Crisco, who battled "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken in a May 6 Democratic primary race in North Carolina deemed too close to call, died on Monday, the state elections board said.

Sriracha hot sauce plant owner vows to stay in California: report

LOS ANGELES - The maker of the popular Sriracha hot pepper sauce does not intend to move his factory out of California, despite complaints over the smell that have prompted local officials to consider declaring it a public nuisance, NPR reported on Monday.

Clippers owner apologizes, says was 'baited' into racist comments

LOS ANGELES - Two weeks after he was banned by the NBA over racist comments, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling broke his silence with a televised apology for his "terrible mistake" while insisting he was "baited" into making the provocative remarks.

More than 150 same-sex couples marry in Arkansas capital

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas - The Arkansas Supreme Court delayed its ruling until at least Tuesday on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to wed, even as more than 150 gay and lesbian couples were married at a county courthouse in the capital city of Little Rock.

New Hampshire home explodes during gunfight

- An explosion ripped through a New Hampshire home that was already in flames during an apparent shootout on Monday, local television footage showed.

Colorado boy, 13, accused of killing dad, concealing death for days

DENVER - A 13-year-old Colorado boy suspected of shooting his father dead and concealing the killing for days by calling the man's work to say his dad was sick made his first court appearance on Monday as prosecutors weighed whether to charge him as an adult.

Minnesota man released on bond pending immigration fraud trial

MINNEAPOLIS - A federal judge granted bond on Monday for a Minnesota man charged with failing to disclose military service or crimes committed in Bosnia in the 1990s when he applied to enter the United States.

Pesticides suspected in spike of illnesses in Washington state

- Pesticides may be linked to a spike in cases involving breathing difficulties and skin rashes in central Washington state, health officials said on Monday.

More than 150 same-sex couples marry in Arkansas capital

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas - The Arkansas Supreme Court delayed its ruling until at least Tuesday on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to wed, even as more than 150 gay and lesbian couples were married at a county courthouse in the capital city of Little Rock.

Venture capitalist Khosla in court over ending California beach access

SAN MATEO, California - Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and now a prominent venture capitalist, on Monday testified about his decision to close off a popular beach, in a court case that calls into question a California tradition of open access to the state's famed beaches.

Knock at door turns deadly in Philadelphia peephole shooting

PHILADELPHIA - A man squinting through a peephole at his Philadelphia home in response to a late-night knock at his front door was shot in the face and killed, police said on Monday.

Union Pacific line in Colorado operating after derailment

- U.S. railroad company Union Pacific Corp said on Monday that a rail line on which a train derailed near the town of LaSalle in northern Colorado was back in service.

New York's Coney Island takes another wild ride into new era

NEW YORK - Change has come again to New York City's Coney Island seaside resort, famous since the mid-19th century for its carnival atmosphere, sandy beaches and amusement parks.

Washington Monument to reopen after earthquake repairs

WASHINGTON - The Washington Monument, long a landmark on the U.S. capital's skyline, will reopen on Monday after being closed for repairs for almost three years after it was damaged in an earthquake.

Clippers owner Sterling claims was set up for racist comments: CNN

- Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling said he was set up to make racist comments in a taped recording that led the National Basketball Association to ban him for life from the sport, CNN reported on Monday.

Hundreds of same-sex couples flock to Arkansas capital to marry

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas - Hundreds of same-sex couples, some hoisting rainbow flags, crowded the county courthouse of Little Rock, Arkansas, on Monday morning to receive marriage licenses after a judge last week struck down the state's 10-year ban on gay marriage.

Safety debate eyes taming Bakken crude before it hits rails

HOUSTON - After a spate of fiery derailments, the scramble to make North Dakota's Bakken crude oil safer when it's being transported on trains has focused on better tracks, slower speeds, and reinforced railcars that bypass urban areas.

U.S., Florida health officials confirm second case of MERS on U.S. soil

- U.S. health officials said on Monday a second case of MERS, a deadly virus first discovered in the Middle East, has been confirmed in the state of Florida.

Texas wildfire that caused hundreds to evacuate largely contained

- A wildfire in the Texas panhandle that destroyed about 100 homes and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of people over the weekend has largely been brought under control, fire officials said on Monday.

Exclusive: Air traffic system failure caused by computer memory shortage

NEW YORK - A common design problem in the U.S. air traffic control system made it possible for a U-2 spy plane to spark a computer glitch that recently grounded or delayed hundreds of Los Angeles area flights, according to an inside account and security experts.

Tornado hits Nebraska town, causing damage, one injury

- A tornado caused heavy damage to the downtown area of a small Nebraska town on Sunday, ripping off roofs and slightly injuring the town's police chief, authorities said.

Clippers' Sterling apologizes for racist remarks: CNN

NEW YORK - Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life from the NBA over racist comments, has apologized and asked for forgiveness in his first public statement since the controversy began last month, CNN said on Sunday.

Third body found after Virginia hot air balloon crash

- Search teams in Virginia on Sunday discovered the body of the third person who died when a hot air balloon struck a power line and plummeted to the ground in flames, police said.

Washington Monument to reopen after earthquake repairs

WASHINGTON - The Washington Monument, long a landmark on the U.S. capital's skyline, will reopen on Monday after being closed for repairs for almost three years after it was damaged in an earthquake.

Mother's Day snowstorm blankets parts of Colorado, Wyoming

DENVER - A Mother's Day snowstorm blanketed the Northern Rockies on Sunday, prompting road closures in Colorado and Wyoming, and the same weather system prompted tornado watches in several Midwestern states as it moves eastward, officials said.

Small plane with French tourists crashes in Arizona, one dead

- One person was killed and another seriously injured when a small plane carrying a group of French tourists crashed while attempting to land at an Arizona airport, authorities said on Sunday.

Fossils withdrawn from auction donated to new Kansas museum

WASHINGTON - A collection of 85 million-year-old fossils including a fish as big as a great white shark with a face like a bulldog has been donated to a new Kansas museum after an outcry from scientists helped scrap a San Diego museum's plans to sell them at auction.

Gunmen kill man, wound six at toddlers' party in California

- Gunmen killed a man and wounded six people including a seven-year-old child when they opened fire on a toddler's birthday party in California, in what police said on Sunday might have been a gang-related shooting.

New York moves 9/11 attack victims' remains to Ground Zero

NEW YORK - The unidentified remains of those killed in the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City were moved into a repository at the bedrock level of Ground Zero on Saturday after a procession through Manhattan streets.

Two dead, one missing after hot air balloon catches fire in Virginia

- Two people were killed and another was missing after a hot air balloon hit a power line and caught fire over Virginia during a festival as horrified witnesses watched from below, police said on Saturday.

New Jersey mall evacuated, reports of shots unfounded: officials

NEWARK, New Jersey - Police evacuated the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, New Jersey on Saturday, following a car fire and reports of gunfire, but authorities were unable to confirm any shots were fired at the shopping center where a gunman killed himself last year, officials said.

New York police recruiting Muslim informants: NY Times

NEW YORK - New York City police have been recruiting immigrants, most of them Muslims, in the years following the attacks of September 11, 2001, to act as informants eavesdropping in cafes, restaurants and mosques, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

Small plane with French tourists crashes in Arizona, one dead

- A small plane carrying a group of French tourists crashed in Arizona on Saturday, killing one person and injuring at least four, one critically, local television reported.

Cheap buses lure travelers from rails, sky with new frills

WASHINGTON - Forget the grimy terminals and uncomfortable buses of the past. Discount U.S. carriers are luring a new generation of riders from young tourists to business travelers with amenities such as free Internet and leather seats.

Tornado damages homes in Missouri town, no injuries reported

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - A tornado seriously damaged homes and toppled trees in a small town just east of Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, but a law enforcement dispatcher said there were no initial reports of injuries.

Tiny houses a way off the streets for Wisconsin homeless

MADISON, Wisconsin - After surviving two long, cold Wisconsin winters on the streets, Betty Ybarra traded freezing park benches and tents for a tiny house made of recycled wood she helped build herself.

Arkansas same-sex couples wed after judge ends gay marriage ban

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas - Several same-sex couples in Arkansas were married at a county courthouse in Eureka Springs on Saturday, a day after a state judge struck down the state's 10-year-old ban on gay and lesbian marriage.

Texas man arrested for suspected premarital sex with 16-year-old wife

HOUSTON - The marriage may be legal but the suspected premarital sex was not, authorities said on Saturday after arresting a 41-year-old Houston-area drama teacher for the alleged sexual assault of a child, his 16-year-old wife.

Trail ride challenges federal control of Utah land

BLANDING, Utah - Hundreds of activists seeking to directly challenge federal control of swathes of territory in the U.S. West on Saturday drove dozens of all-terrain vehicles into protected land in Utah that is home to Native American artifacts and where such journeys are banned.

Texas police officer who killed 93-year-old woman fired

- A police officer who shot and killed a 93-year-old woman as she brandished a firearm in a small Texas town was fired on Saturday, a police official said.

New York moves 9/11 attack victims' remains to Ground Zero

NEW YORK - The unidentified remains of those killed in the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City were moved into a repository at the bedrock level of Ground Zero on Saturday after a procession through Manhattan streets.

Alabama baker turns Grandma's cookie recipe into national brand

MOBILE, Alabama - At family holiday gatherings, Robert Armstrong had two goals, to beat his cousins to his grandmother's cookie tin a