A state judge has ordered five men to stand trial on charges involving a foiled plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Michael Null, William Null, Eric Molitor and Shawn Fix, all of Michigan, are accused of providing material support for terrorist acts as well as a gun crime. Brian Higgins of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, is charged with providing material support for terrorist acts. Judge Michael Stepka ruled Wednesday that evidence presented in a preliminary hearing justified a trial. The trial will take place in Antrim County, where Whitmer’s Elk Rapids vacation home is located and prosecutors say the abduction was to happen.
Struggling to maintain a steady supply of arms for its war in Ukraine, Moscow is looking to Iran once again to resupply the Russian military with drones and surface-to-surface missiles. That's according to a National Security Council official and a United Nations diplomat. The official says there is growing U.S. concern that Russia may seek to acquire additional advanced conventional weapons from Iran. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. intelligence. The official says the administration is particularly concerned that Russia may seek to acquire surface-to-surface missiles from Iran. Separately, a U.N. diplomat says Iran has plans to sell Russia hundreds of missiles and drones.
A member of President Joe Biden's Cabinet is urging Georgia officials to deny permits for a proposed mine near the edge of the famed Okefenokee Swamp and its vast wildlife refuge. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a letter to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp that the mining project poses “unacceptable risks” to the swamp's fragile ecosystem. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, dated Nov. 22. Since 2019, Twin Pines Minerals has sought government permits to mine minerals near the bowl-like rim of the Okefenokee. Company President Steve Ingle says it can be done without harming the swamp. But federal scientists have warned mining could irreparably damage the swamp's ability to hold water.
Attorneys for the family of a Black motorist who was shot and killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop in Michigan's second-largest city, Grand Rapids, say the officer had no reason to pull him over. Detroit lawyer Ven Johnson and civil rights attorney Ben Crump said during a news conference Wednesday to announce the family's federal civil rights lawsuit against the since-fired officer, Christopher Schurr, and the city of Grand Rapids that Schurr only stopped Patrick Lyoya because of the color of Congo refugee's skin. Schurr, who is charged with second-degree murder in the April killing, fatally shot Lyoya after the two grappled on a lawn during the stop. Schurr's lawyer has said he acted in self-defense.
More weakness in tech stocks sent Wall Street mostly lower after another day of wobbly trading. The S&P 500 ended 0.2% lower Wednesday, its fifth straight loss. The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with tech companies, lost 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended just barely in the green. Treasury yields fell. Campbell Soup rose after reporting earnings and revenue that easily beat analysts' forecasts. Carvana plunged as fears grew that the online car seller could file for bankruptcy. Crude oil prices fell again. More data on inflation and consumer sentiment is due at the end of the week.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry says last month's United Nations global warming summit didn't do enough to speed up cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases. In an interview with The Associated Press Wednesday, Kerry says there was some progress but he would have liked to see more. So, he says, the world is just going to have to keep on pushing. Kerry says he missed out on key discussions about an unsuccessful proposal to phase down oil and gas use because he was struck with COVID, but the U.S. supports the idea. He also says talks with China, the No. 1 carbon polluter, just ran out of time.
The FBI received a tip about the suspect charged with murder and hate crimes in a mass shooting at a Colorado gay nightclub the day before the suspect was arrested in a bomb threat case that evacuated a neighborhood. The FBI says it coordinated with local law enforcement after getting the tip in June 2021. It says it conducted an assessment of Anderson Lee Aldrich but then ended it as state charges were pursued against Aldrich in the previous case. The information conveyed to the FBI marks the earliest known instance of law enforcement officials being warned about Aldrich.
As the Respect for Marriage Act moves toward final passage, much of the attention has been focused on the protection the law gives to same-sex couples. But the bill would also enshrine interracial marriages in federal law. That provision came as a surprise to some interracial couples who believed any legal uncertainty about their right to marry ended in 1967. That's the year the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws banning marriages between people of different races. The Respect for Marriage Act has been picking up steam since June, when the Supreme Court overturned the federal right to an abortion. The ruling sparked concern the high court could potentially overturn other precedent-setting rulings on same-sex and interracial marriages.
The Supreme Court seems skeptical of making a broad ruling that would leave state legislatures virtually unchecked when making rules for elections for Congress and the presidency. In nearly three hours of arguments Wednesday, liberal and conservative justices appeared to take issue with the main thrust of a challenge asking them to essentially eliminate the power of state courts to strike down legislature-drawn, gerrymandered congressional districts on grounds that they violate state constitutions. But it was harder to see exactly where the court would land. A trio of conservative justices who probably control the outcome, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, seemed open to simply limiting state court power in some circumstances.
A person familiar with the deal says that Aaron Judge has agreed to return to the New York Yankees on a $360 million, nine-year contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. It's the largest free agent deal in baseball history. Judge will earn $40 million per season, the highest average annual payout for a position player. The contract trails only Mike Trout’s $426.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts’ $365 million pact with the Los Angeles Dodgers for biggest in baseball history.
A regulatory agency responsible for the water supply of more than 13 million people in four Northeastern states says it is banning gas drillers from dumping fracking wastewater in its watershed. The Delaware River Basin Commission approved regulations Wednesday meant to restrict the gas industry’s ability to draw water from the river and its tributaries for hydraulic fracturing outside the region. It is also limiting disposal of fracking wastewater within the Delaware watershed. The Delaware and its tributaries supply drinking water to Philadelphia and half the population of New York City.
The New York Times is bracing for a 24-hour walkout by hundreds of journalists and other employees. It would be the first strike of its kind at the newspaper in more than 40 years. Newsroom employees and other members of The NewsGuild of New York say they are fed up with bargaining that has dragged on since their last contract expired in March 2021. The union announced last week that more than 1,100 employees would stage a 24-hour work stoppage starting at 12:01 a.m. Thursday unless the two sides can strike a deal for a contract. Negotiations continued Wednesday but the sides remained far apart on issues including wage and remote-work policies. A New York Times spokesperson said the newspaper has contingency plans to continue operations with minimal disruptions.
A 7-year-old Texas girl who was found dead last week after she was reported missing from her home is being remembered as “the best little girl” who loved animals, drawing and dancing. Athena Strand was found dead Friday, two days after she was reported missing from her home in Paradise, Texas, a town of fewer than 500 people about 60 miles northwest of Dallas. Police have arrested Tanner Lynn Horner, a FedEx delivery driver, on suspicion of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. Authorities have not said how Athena died but Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said investigators believe she was killed shortly after she was kidnapped.
The latest proposal to give Ohio’s governor more power overseeing K-12 education has cleared the Republican-led state Senate. The bill would significantly change decision-making about academic standards, model curricula and school district ratings. The legislation is moving ahead despite objections from teachers unions and advocacy groups, who say lawmakers are rushing the bill. Oversight of the state education department would shift to a director appointed by the governor, rather than the State Board of Education and the superintendent it elects. Supporters of the bill including Republican Gov. Mike DeWine say the changes would promote more accountability and transparency. The measure next heads to the Ohio House.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams is such an enemy of rats that he once called a press conference to demonstrate a contraption for drowning them in poison. So it is noteworthy to find Adams contesting a $300 fine issued by his own administration over a rat infestation at a building he owns in Brooklyn. The New York Times reports that Adams appeared at a virtual hearing on Tuesday and said he has spent nearly $7,000 battling rats at the property. The hearing officer said he would render a verdict within 30 days.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing a Federal Way gun shop, saying it unlawfully sold high-capacity magazines to investigators during a compliance operation. Ferguson said Wednesday that Federal Way Discount Guns was one of just two gun stores — out of 25 tested across the state — that failed to comply with the law. The store did not immediately return an email seeking comment. Lawmakers adopted the ban on high-capacity magazines this year at Ferguson’s request, and the sting was the first effort by his office to enforce compliance. Violations are punishable by up to $7,500 for every time a high-capacity magazine was offered for sale and $7,500 for each actual sale.
In an election in which Republicans underperformed nationally, Lester Chang was a success story. He beat a New York City Democrat who’d been in office for almost 36 years. In doing so, he became the first Asian American elected to represent Brooklyn’s growing Chinatown in the state Assembly. Now, Democrats in the Legislature are talking about denying Chang his seat as they raise questions about whether he met a residency requirement. They question whether Chang lived in Brooklyn long enough to run for office. Republican supporters say he lives in the borough, in his childhood home. The possible rejection has infuriated supporters who see it as an effort to disenfranchise Asian voters.
Raphael Warnock’s victory in swing-state Georgia gives Senate Democrats a 51-49 majority. It's a “lift,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday at the Capitol. Schumer said Democrats want to “get things done.” The extra seat ends one of the longest evenly split 50-50 Senates in modern memory. With a full majority Schumer is confident Democrats can sideline Trump-inspired Republicans and reach across the aisle for bipartisan priorities in the new year. Just to start, Senate Democrats will be able to have an easier time organizing committees and conducting routine votes over Republican objections.
The Justice Department’s inspector general has released its report on the 2018 beating death of notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger at the hands of fellow inmates at a federal prison in West Virginia. The internal watchdog finds multiple layers of management failures, widespread incompetence and flawed policies at the Bureau of Prisons. The report says at least six bureau workers should be disciplined. The 89-year-old Bulger, who also was an FBI informant, was killed in his cell hours after he arrived at the troubled West Virginia prison. The Justice Department has charged three men in the case. Bulger spent 16 years as one of America’s most wanted figures before he was captured.
A five-member Oklahoma board has decided that a man convicted in the shotgun slayings of an elderly couple in eastern Oklahoma in 2003 and sentenced to die should not be spared from the death sentence. The Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-2 on Wednesday to reject clemency for Scott Eizember. The 61-year-old is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Jan. 12 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Eizember’s attorneys did not deny his involvement in the Oct. 18, 2003, killings of A.J. Cantrell and his wife Patsy Cantrell. But they argued that the killings were unplanned and spontaneous and that his life still has value.
This year's White House Christmas ornament gives a nod to former first lady Patricia Nixon. It's in the shape of a gingerbread White House, and Nixon was the first first lady to include a gingerbread house as part of the White House holiday decorations. That tradition now includes construction each year of a hulking gingerbread White House that usually weighs several hundred pounds. The private White House Historical Association sells the annual Christmas ornaments, using the proceeds to help pay for the building's upkeep. First lady Jacqueline Kennedy created the association in 1961 to help preserve the executive mansion. The association’s popular annual Christmas ornament followed in 1981.
A handful of centenarian survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor gathered at the scene in Hawaii to commemorate those who perished 81 years ago in the Japanese bombing. That’s fewer than in recent years, when a dozen or more came to Hawaii from across the country to pay their respects at the annual remembrance ceremony. Part of the decline reflects the dwindling number of survivors as they age. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t have statistics for how many Pearl Harbor survivors are still living. But its data show the number of World War II veterans is rapidly declining.
Could trawler cams help save the world’s fish? Several companies are installing high-resolution cameras on U.S. fishing boats to replace scarce in-person observers and meet new federal mandates aimed at protecting dwindling fish stocks. But taking the technology beyond U.S. waters, where the vast majority of seafood consumed in the U.S. is caught, is a steep challenge. Only a few countries in the world can match strict U.S. regulatory mandates. Scientists fear the result could be that American initiatives to replenish fish stocks and reduce unintentional bycatch of threatened species could backfire by transferring more fishing into unregulated overseas waters.