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Royal Caribbean is sued by family of toddler who fell to her death from cruise-ship window

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MIAMI -- Chloe Wiegand was 18 months old when she plummeted 11 stories to her death on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas in July.

Three months later, Puerto Rican law enforcement authorities charged Chloe's grandfather with her death. The family adamantly said it was an accident.

Now, the family has sued Royal Caribbean in a civil suit, ...Read more

House Judiciary Committee prepares for historic vote on impeachment articles against Trump

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WASHINGTON -- The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday began its long slog of a session to finalize articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, a procedurally complex process that will probably continue through much of Thursday or even longer.

The panel is expected to approve two articles of impeachment -- one for abuse of power, ...Read more

OMB says Ukraine aid delay was consistent with law, past practice

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WASHINGTON -- The White House budget office on Wednesday defended its temporary withholding of almost $400 million in Ukraine security-related funds earlier this year, saying the episode was in keeping with longstanding authorities that allow the executive branch to control the flow of appropriated funds.

"It was OMB's understanding that a ...Read more

Bloomberg brings California a housing plan in first visit

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Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday used his first presidential campaign visit to the make-or-break state of California to offer his plan to address the problems of poverty and housing affordability plaguing the Golden State.

Bloomberg is skipping the four initial nominating contests in February and focusing on California, ...Read more

Mexican Senate leader aims to pass trade deal by week's end

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MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's Senate majority leader is pushing for passage of changes to a new free-trade deal with the U.S. and Canada by the end of this week after the governments of the three nations completed months of negotiations.

Ricardo Monreal, from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's ruling Morena party, said Wednesday that he wants a ...Read more

Philly DA drops charges against twin in fatal shooting of brother

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office on Wednesday dropped all charges against an 18-year-old accused of fatally shooting his twin brother this month in their father's apartment, and DA Larry Krasner said the father "is responsible."

At an afternoon news conference, Krasner said the twins' father, Aleem Gillard, a ...Read more

Indian citizens admit recruiting for government's fake university

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Six Indian citizens pleaded guilty to a visa fraud conspiracy after a federal government sting ensnared hundreds of foreign students at a fake university, according to government officials.

The six men recruited students to the "University of Farmington" in Michigan, which was set up by the U.S. Department of Homeland ...Read more

As Judiciary Committee debates articles of impeachment, Russia is nowhere and everywhere

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WASHINGTON -- When the House Judiciary Committee began its historic session Wednesday night to consider two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, one issue was glaringly absent -- Russia.

For three years, House Democrats made the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, and his bitter fight against the special counsel investigation ...Read more

Feds indict Miami VA employees and medical suppliers accused of kickback scheme

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MIAMI -- Several Miami and West Palm Beach VA Healthcare System workers and the owners of local medical supply companies were indicted in an alleged kickback scheme that netted the suppliers millions of dollars in proceeds while the Veterans Affairs employees pocketed thousands in bribes over the past decade.

Five of the employees, who worked ...Read more

Poll: Biden holds 20-point lead in Texas Democratic primary race

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Former Vice President Joe Biden has opened up a commanding 20-point lead in the Texas Democratic primary, according to a CNN poll released Wednesday.

Among likely Democratic primary voters, 35% say they support Biden, compared to 15% for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, 13% for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts ...Read more

Baltimore judge struck in head as defendant throws water pitcher, sheriff says

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BALTIMORE -- Chief Baltimore Circuit Judge Wanda Heard received medical attention Wednesday after a defendant threw a metal water pitcher at her as she presided over his sentencing hearing in a downtown courtroom, striking her "somewhere around the middle of her forehead," court and sheriff's officials confirmed.

Heard, who remained conscious, ...Read more

Cook County state's attorney begins to expunge tens of thousands of minor marijuana convictions

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CHICAGO -- Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx on Wednesday kicked off the first wave in a mass effort to automatically clear tens of thousands of low-level marijuana convictions from court records on the eve of the legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois.

Foxx personally presented the county's chief judge with the first of about 1,...Read more

Protests erupt after Mexican hero Zapata is depicted nude and in high heels

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MEXICO CITY -- As paintings go, it is tiny -- about the size of a cereal box.

But the controversy it has incited is huge.

There, riding bareback on a white horse, is Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican revolutionary leader who, with his big mustache and steely gaze, has long been a symbol here for a certain kind of tough masculinity.

The painting ...Read more

Nation and world news briefs

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Lawsuit by Sandy Hook families against gun manufacturer will go to trial in 2021

WATERBURY, Conn. -- A lawsuit by nine families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings against the company that made the gun used in the massacre will go to trial in September 2021.

On Wednesday lawyers for Remington Arms and the families agreed ...Read more

North Korea may return to launching ICBMS, UN ambassador warns

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UNITED NATIONS -- The U.S. sees "deeply troubling indications" that North Korea may be poised to engage in a major provocation, United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft warned.

"In practical terms, this would mean that the DPRK could launch space vehicles using long-range ballistic missile technology, or that they could even test-launch ...Read more

Pompeo sued for records of Trump-Putin meeting. A judge will hear the case

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WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is being sued over allegedly failing to preserve official notes about President Donald Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a court ruled Wednesday that the case could move forward.

That means Pompeo must either provide evidence that he complied with the Federal Records Act, ...Read more

Trump blocked by second judge on military funds for border wall

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SAN FRANCISCO -- A second federal judge barred President Donald Trump from using military construction funds for his Mexico border wall, with a U.S. court ruling Wednesday in Oakland, Calif., echoing one Tuesday in El Paso, Texas.

The Trump administration and Congress remain at odds over how much taxpayer money to spend on border security as a ...Read more

GOP senators leaning toward short impeachment trial for Trump

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WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans say there is an early consensus building within their ranks for a short impeachment trial that could see the GOP-led chamber vote on a likely acquittal of President Donald Trump without hearing from any witnesses.

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said a growing number of the Senate's 53 GOP members want...Read more

More than 70 killed in attack on Niger military camp, army says

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NIAMEY, Niger -- An attack on a military camp in western Niger has left 71 military personnel dead, according to an army statement read on national television late Wednesday.

Fifty-seven of the attackers were also killed, the statement said, while 12 people were injured and several others were missing.

The assault took place Tuesday evening. ...Read more

Israel barrels toward elections as Knesset sets dissolution in motion

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TEL AVIV, Israel -- Israel's parliament on Wednesday set in motion the process of dissolving itself and calling a third round of elections within a year, as lawmakers passed blame around for the stalemate.

The Knesset passed the first reading of a bill to dissolve itself and set an unprecedented third round of elections with a large majority.

...Read more