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J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS

Missouri duck boat operators face court on charges from 2018 tragedy that killed 17

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The three men facing criminal charges in the sinking of a duck boat during a 2018 storm in Branson — which left 17 people dead, including five children — appeared in Stone County court Wednesday morning.

Kenneth Scott McKee, 54, the captain of the boat; Curtis P. Lanham, 39, the general manager at Ride the Ducks in ...Read more

DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS

Supreme Court leans in favor of requiring taxpayer funding for some religious schools

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WASHINGTON — Supreme Court justices sounded ready Wednesday to rule for a Maine couple seeking state taxpayer funds to send their children to a church-sponsored school because no public ones are available in their area.

The case of Carson vs. Makin poses the latest test of the line between church and state, and it comes at a time when the ...Read more


Daunte Wright's mother testifies of distraught moments after shooting by Minnesota officer

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MINNEAPOLIS — Daunte Wright's mother tearfully described her son's final moments to a jury as the first prosecution witness in ex-Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter's manslaughter trial Wednesday.

Katie Bryant began her testimony telling the jury about her son's love of basketball, his work history in retail and how he enrolled in...Read more

Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Police in Southern California city of Torrance traded racist, homophobic texts. It could jeopardize hundreds of cases

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LOS ANGELES — The caption read “hanging with the homies.”

The picture above it showed several Black men who had been lynched.

Another photo asked what someone should do if their girlfriend was having an affair with a Black man. The answer, according to the caption, was to break “a tail light on his car so the police will stop him and ...Read more

Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Jury deliberations begin in Jussie Smollett's trial for allegedly orchestrating and reporting a staged hate crime

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CHICAGO — Jury deliberations have begun in the trial of Jussie Smollett, the former “Empire” actor accused of arranging a phony hate crime attack on himself in downtown Chicago nearly three years ago.

After a weeklong trial and about five hours of closing arguments, the six-man, six-woman jury began deliberating the hot-button case at ...Read more

ZAK BENNETT/Getty Images North America/TNS

Judge orders hearing into claims that Seminole Tribe is blocking casino petition signatures

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The fate of a casino expansion petition drive rests in the hands of a Tallahassee judge who on Wednesday agreed to a conduct an emergency hearing to consider evidence that the Seminole Tribe of Florida may be attempting to sabotage a constitutional amendment asking voters to approve casinos outside of the tribe’s control....Read more

Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America/TNS

Car crash deaths have surged during COVID-19 pandemic. Here's why

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LOS ANGELES — It was a tally that shocked the experts: 38,680 deaths on U.S. roadways last year, the most since 2007 even though pandemic precautions had dramatically reduced driving.

“This was completely unprecedented,” said Ken Kolosh, a researcher at the nonprofit National Safety Council. “We didn’t know what was happening.”

One...Read more

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

Florida manatees will receive emergency rations of romaine lettuce if starvation looms this winter

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Romaine lettuce will be used an as emergency food for manatees in an unprecedented intervention to prevent the marine mammals from enduring another winter of mass starvation.

A total of 757 manatees died, most from starvation, over the past year around the Indian River Lagoon, where pollution from farms and lawns has ...Read more


Member of SEAL Team 8 dies after training incident

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NORFOLK, Va. — Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois, commanding officer of SEAL Team 8, died Tuesday of injuries suffered during training this weekend, Naval Special Warfare Command said.

Bourgeois, 43, died at Norfolk Sentara General Hospital.

While the accident is still under investigation, initial indications are that occurred during a fast-rope ...Read more

Prosecution: Kimberly Potter had gun drawn for more than 5 seconds before killing Daunte Wright

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MINNEAPOLIS — The prosecution in the Kimberly Potter manslaughter trial alleged in its opening statement Wednesday that the former Brooklyn Center police officer had her gun drawn on Daunte Wright for more than five seconds before she fatally shot him, while the defense countered that she feared her partner would be killed when she mistook the...Read more

New photos show Ghislaine Maxwell massaging Jeffrey Epstein's feet on private plane

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NEW YORK — New photos introduced in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial show the British socialite grinning as she rubs Jeffrey Epstein’s feet on an airplane.

The undated images, which were retrieved from CDs found at Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion after his arrest for underage sex trafficking in 2019, show the accused child ...Read more

YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS

Big names in literature and the arts call on Cuban government to release jailed artists

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More than 300 writers and artists worldwide urged the Cuban government to immediately release the artists detained after the July 11 protests, in a letter published Wednesday with the support of PEN International, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection and Human Rights Watch.

“The Cuban government should immediately stop its unrelenting ...Read more

Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS

'Brazen assault in the middle of the day' leaves a boy dead, an LA neighborhood shaken

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LOS ANGELES — Alexander Alvarado did not live to see his teens. A blast of gunfire Monday afternoon saw to that.

Had he made it to Christmas week, Alexander would have turned 13. Instead, the boy was shot to death outside of an elementary school in Wilmington, a port neighborhood filled with industry, working-class families and gang problems ...Read more

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS

California considers $500 fines for water wasters as drought worsens, conservation lags

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LOS ANGELES — As California descends deeper into drought, officials are growing increasingly troubled by dwindling water supplies and the public's lackluster response to calls for conservation, with residents in recent months falling short of Gov. Gavin Newsom's request for a voluntary 15% reduction in usage.

Now, as the West tips toward ...Read more

Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/TNS

'Could the timing be worse?' Omicron hits as college students travel for winter break

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LOS ANGELES — Just as the omicron variant is making its way into California, tens of thousands of college students are preparing to travel away from their relative campus bubbles for winter break, a worrisome rite of exodus that has administrators on edge, doubling down on booster shot efforts and planning for more coronavirus testing when the...Read more

Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS

'Built like a house of cards': Closing arguments shift to defense at Jussie Smollett's trial for reporting an allegedly staged hate crime on himself

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CHICAGO — Jussie Smollett’s attorney said in closing arguments of the actor’s criminal trial Wednesday that the prosecution’s case was riddled with “doubts” and built on the testimony of two brothers who are criminals and “certified liars.”

“The entire prosecution case was built like a house of cards,” attorney Nenye Uche ...Read more

Courtesy Daren Wiseley/TNS/TNS

Michigan mom bound over for trial on felony eavesdropping charge

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DETROIT — A northern Michigan mom who has been battling her school board over class curriculum is to stand trial on a felony eavesdropping charge, a judge ruled Tuesday after a preliminary hearing.

Chief District Judge Maria Barton of 89th District Court in Rogers City said there is probable cause to send Erin Chaskey to trial in circuit ...Read more

Michael Elsen-Rooney / New York Daily News/New York Daily News/TNS

Brooklyn students say classmates bring weapons to school to 'be safe in a city that has been made unsafe'

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NEW YORK — For one 17-year-old student at the Adams Street high school campus in downtown Brooklyn, being inside school has always felt safe. It’s getting there that’s the problem.

Even after a classmate brought a loaded gun to school in his backpack last week, school officials were on hand to quickly de-escalate the situation and comfort...Read more

Saul Loeb/Pool/AFP/AFP/TNS

Biden is left guessing over Putin's ultimate aim in Ukraine

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WASHINGTON — The video call between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin lasted about two hours. It will take months to figure out if the two sides managed to defuse the crisis over Ukraine.

Biden sought to send a clear message: Russia must not go ahead with an invasion of Ukraine as the U.S. fears it might, and would face massive economic...Read more

Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News/TNS

Homeless man sets Christmas tree on fire outside Fox News headquarters in NYC, police say

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NEW YORK — The war on Christmas has reached Fox News’ doorstep.

A 49-year-old homeless man was arrested early Wednesday for setting fire to a 50-foot Christmas tree in front of Fox News Headquarters in Midtown, police said.

A News Corp. security team spotted Craig Tamanaha climbing the massive tree near 48th Street and Sixth Avenue about ...Read more