Federal appeals court reinstates most of Texas' new abortion restrictions
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that most of Texas' tough new abortion restrictions can take effect immediately -- a decision that means as least 12 clinics won't be able to perform the procedure starting as soon as Friday.
A panel of judges at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said the law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital can take effect while a lawsuit challenging the restrictions moves forward. The panel issued the ruling three days after District Judge Lee Yeakel said the provision serves no medical purpose.
In its 20-page ruling, the appeals court panel acknowledged that the provision "may increase the cost of accessing an abortion provider and decrease the number of physicians available to perform abortions." However, the panel said that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that having "the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate" a law that serves a valid purpose, "one not designed to strike at the right itself."
The panel left in place a portion of Yeakel's order that prevents the state from enforcing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration protocol for abortion-inducing drugs in cases where the woman is between 50 and 63 days into her pregnancy. Doctors testifying before the court had said such women would be harmed if the protocol were enforced.
After Yeakel halted the restrictions, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had made an emergency appeal to the conservative 5th Circuit, arguing that the law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges is a constitutional use of the Legislature's authority.
Federal appeals court blocks ruling on NY police stop-frisk tactic, removes judge from case
NEW YORK (AP) -- A federal appeals court on Thursday blocked a judge's ruling that found the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy discriminated against minorities, and it took the unusual step of removing her from the case, saying interviews she gave during the trial called her impartiality into question.
The city applauded the appeals court's decision. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who was shouted down over the tactic by students during a speech at Brown University this week, said he was pleased by it.
"This is indeed an important decision for all New Yorkers and for the men and women of the New York City police department who work very hard day in and day out to keep this city safe," he said.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the ruling by U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin will be on hold pending the outcome of an appeal by the city. But it may be a nonissue after next week's mayoral election: Democrat Bill de Blasio, who's leading in polls, has said he would drop objections to the ruling, which calls for major changes to the police tactic.
The judge decided in August the city violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics by disproportionally stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking them. She assigned a monitor to help the police department change its policy and training programs on the tactic.
10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. GOOD NEWS FOR TRAVELERS WHO DISLIKE BEING DISCONNECTED
The FAA is easing restrictions on the use of electronic gadgets on airplanes -- though chatting on cellphones will still be prohibited.
Officials: Israelis strike shipment of Russian missiles at Syrian port
BEIRUT (AP) -- Israeli warplanes attacked a shipment of Russian missiles inside a Syrian government stronghold, officials said Thursday, a development that threatened to add another volatile layer to regional tensions from the Syrian civil war.
The revelation came as the government of President Bashar Assad met a key deadline in an ambitious plan to eliminate Syria's entire chemical weapons stockpile by mid-2014 and avoid international military action.
The announcement by a global chemical weapons watchdog that the country has completed the destruction of equipment used to produce the deadly agents highlights Assad's willingness to cooperate, and puts more pressure on the divided and outgunned rebels to attend a planned peace conference.
An Obama administration official confirmed the Israeli airstrike overnight, but provided no details. Another security official said the attack occurred late Wednesday in the Syrian port city of Latakia and that the target was Russian-made SA-125 missiles.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the attack. There was no immediate confirmation from Syria.
Seeking US aid, Iraqi leader says fighting terror is a worldwide responsibility
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Terrorists "found a second chance" to thrive in Iraq, the nation's prime minister said Thursday in asking for new U.S. aid to beat back a bloody insurgency that has been fueled by the neighboring Syrian civil war and the departure of American troops from Iraq two years ago.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told a packed auditorium at the U.S. Institute of Peace that he needs additional weapons, help with intelligence and other assistance, and claimed the world has a responsibility to help because terrorism is an international concern.
"If the situation in Iraq is not well treated, it will be disastrous for the whole world," said al-Maliki, whose comments were translated from Arabic. "Terrorism does not know a single religion, or confession, or a single border. They carry their rotten ideas everywhere. They carry bad ideas instead of flowers. Al-Qaida is a dirty wind that wants to spread worldwide."
The new request comes nearly two years after al-Maliki's government refused to let U.S. forces remain in Iraq with legal immunity that the Obama administration insisted was necessary to protect troops. President Barack Obama had campaigned on ending the nearly nine-year war in Iraq and took the opportunity offered by the legal dispute to pull all troops out.
Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq between the 2003 invasion and the 2011 withdrawal. More than 100,000 Iraqi were killed in that time.
No longer 'turn off all devices' on planes; FAA changes safety rules for electronic gadgets
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Airline passengers won't have to "turn off all electronic devices" anymore -- they'll be able to read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music from gate to gate under new guidelines from the Federal Aviation Administration. But they still can't talk on their cellphones through the flight.
Don't expect the changes to happen immediately, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said Thursday at a news conference announcing new rules. How fast will vary by airline.
Delta and JetBlue said they would quickly submit plans to implement the new policy. Airlines will have to show the FAA that their airplanes meet the new guidelines and that they've updated their flight-crew training manuals, safety announcements and rules for stowing devices to reflect the new guidelines.
It sounded like good news to passengers heading out from Reagan National Airport on Thursday.
Ketan Patel, 24, said he's happy that regulators have debunked the idea that the devices pose a safety problem. "If it isn't a problem, it should be allowed," he said as he stepped into a security line, a smartphone in his hand.
Cross-border drug tunnel in San Diego equipped with rail system; 8 tons of marijuana seized
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A tunnel designed to smuggle drugs from Tijuana, Mexico, to San Diego was equipped with lighting, ventilation and an electric rail system, U.S. authorities said Thursday, making it one of the most sophisticated secret passages discovered along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Authorities seized 8 1/2 tons of marijuana and 327 pounds of cocaine in connection with the tunnel's discovery, according to court records. Three men who authorities say worked as drivers were charged Thursday with possession of marijuana and cocaine with intent to distribute. U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said they face prison sentences between 10 years and life if convicted.
The tunnel, which zigzags the length of nearly six football fields, links warehouses in Tijuana and San Diego's Otay Mesa industrial area. The area is filled with nondescript warehouses, making it easier to conceal trucks being loaded with drugs.
The tunnel was shut down Wednesday night, before any drugs made it through undetected, authorities said. Federal agents had the San Diego warehouse under surveillance after being tipped off by an informant who told them that operators bought drills and other construction equipment in August and September.
As U.S. border security has heightened on land, Mexican drug cartels have turned to ultralight aircraft, small fishing boats and tunnels. More than 75 underground passages have been discovered along the border since 2008, designed largely to smuggle marijuana.
Kansas children climb from windows, pulled to safety after school bus topples into rural creek
DOUGLASS, Kan. (AP) -- Ten Kansas children and a school bus driver were pulled to safety from a fast-moving creek Thursday after the bus toppled into the water and landed half-submerged on its side.
The children, ages 13 and younger, clambered through a roof hatch to await rescue as the 60-year-old driver called 911 to report the accident in rural Butler County, Sheriff Kelly Herzet said.
Investigators were looking into how the accident happened, but County 911 director Chris Davis said the bus apparently went off a bridge that Douglass School District officials described as a low-water crossing.
Emergency personnel decided against using boats because of the swift current, instead reaching the bus on lines and putting the children and the driver in life jackets before pulling them to dry ground.
The accident happened around 4 p.m. outside Douglass, a town of about 1,700 residents southeast of Wichita.
Southern Calif. woman cited for driving while wearing Google Glass plans to fight citation
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- An early adopter of Google's Internet-connected eyeglasses plans to fight a citation for wearing the device while driving in San Diego, saying the technology makes navigation easier than smartphones and GPS devices.
Driver Cecilia Abadie was pulled over for speeding Tuesday evening, when a California Highway Patrol officer noticed she was wearing Google Glass and tacked on a citation usually given to drivers who may be distracted by a video or TV screen.
A challenge to what may be a first-of-its-kind citation could force authorities to re-examine laws and consider how best to regulate evolving gadgetry that will one day become mainstream.
The lightweight eyeglasses, which are not yet widely available to the public, feature a hidden computer and a thumbnail-size transparent display screen above the right eye. Users can scan maps for directions -- as well as receive web search results, read email and engage in video chats -- without reaching for a phone.
About 10,000 have been distributed so far in the United States to "explorers" like Abadie, and this week Google announced another 30,000 would be available for $1,500 apiece. Abadie, a software developer, got what she describes as the life-changing technology in May.
Grimes runs an interception back 94 yards, Dolphins lead Bengals 17-10 after 3 quarters
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) -- Brent Grimes had a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown not long after Cincinnati had a score wiped out by a holding call, and the Miami Dolphins led the Bengals 17-10 after three quarters Thursday night.
Grimes stepped in front of a pass that Andy Dalton intended for Marvin Jones, and turned the turnover into the longest interception return for a score by a Miami player since 2002. It came five plays after what would have been a 50-yard touchdown pass -- from Dalton to Jones -- was brought back after a holding call against Jermaine Gresham.
Giovani Bernard had a 3-yard touchdown run later in the quarter for Cincinnati. The Dolphins didn't take their first offensive snap of the third quarter until 2:03 remained.
Ryan Tannehill had a 1-yard touchdown run and Caleb Sturgis added a 36-yard field goal in the first half for the Dolphins, who led 10-3 at the break and kept the seven-point edge heading into the final 15 minutes of regulation. Cincinnati got a 31-yard field goal from Mike Nugent to open the scoring early in the second quarter.
Miami ran for 142 yards in the first half, the franchise's most in the first 30 minutes of a game since piling up 174 before intermission against New England on Dec. 29, 2002.