National News

Victims recount horrors in Times Square car-ramming trial

People testifying in the trial of a man who drove a car that killed one and injured over 20 others in New York's Times Square say the day still haunts them. The memories of screaming people, car tires screeching and an engine revving are recollections that are central to victims' testimony at the ongoing trial of Richard Rojas. The 31-year-old Rojas has pleaded not guilty to murder, assault and other charges in the mayhem of 2017. His lawyers say he had a mental breakdown that day and didn't understand what he was doing. Prosecutors are largely relying on the harrowing testimony of victims to make a case against Rojas.

Driver must stand trial for deadly Tesla crash in California

A judge says a driver who used a Tesla on autopilot must stand trial for a crash near Los Angeles that killed two people. The judge ruled Thursday that there's enough evidence to try 27-year-old Kevin Riad for manslaughter. He's pleaded not guilty to the charges. Prosecutors say Riad's Tesla Model S hit another car at 74 mph after blowing through a red light at the end of a freeway in Gardena in 2019. It's believed to be the first felony prosecution in the U.S. against a driver using a partially automated driving system. Tesla says drivers must always be attentive and ready to intervene when the system is activated.

Religious backers of abortion rights say God's on their side

The loudest voices in the abortion debate are often characterized along a starkly religious divide, the faithful versus not. But the reality is much more nuanced, both at an Alabama abortion clinic and in the nation that surrounds it. The clinic’s staff of 11 — most of them Black, deeply faithful Christian women — have no trouble at all reconciling their work with their religion. And as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to dismantle the constitutional right to an abortion, they draw on their faith that they will somehow continue. God is on our side, they tell each other. God will keep this clinic open.

In 2 states, 1 in 20 residents missed during US head count

Around 1 in 20 residents in Arkansas and Tennessee were missed during the 2020 census, and four other U.S. states had significant undercounts of their populations which could shortchange them of federal funding in the current decade. That's according to figures from a survey the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday. In Florida, and Texas, undercounts appear to have cost them congressional seats too. In eight states, residents were overcounted. In Minnesota and Rhode Island, overcounts appear to have helped save them from losing congressional seats. In the remaining 36 states, the overcounts and undercounts weren’t statistically significant.

Gusty winds fan wildfires in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado

More than 5,000 firefighters are battling multiple wildland blazes in dry, windy weather across the Southwest. The fires include one that has destroyed dozens of structures in western Texas and another that is picking up steam again in New Mexico. Evacuation orders remained in place Thursday for residents near fires in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. Dangerous fire weather was forecast to continue through Friday, especially in New Mexico where the largest U.S. fire has burned for more than a month. The governor expects the number of structures that have burned to rise to more than 1,000. That fire has burned more than 473 square miles.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez says she's engaged to longtime partner

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has confirmed she’s engaged to her longtime partner, Riley Roberts. The pair got engaged last month in her family’s hometown in Puerto Rico, the Democratic congresswoman confirmed to Insider. Roberts is a marketing professional she met over a decade ago while they were undergraduates at Boston University in 2011.

Man gets 24 years in prison for fire that killed 12 condors

A man who started a 2020 wildfire that killed 12 endangered California condors and seriously injured a firefighter has been sentenced to 24 years in prison. Ivan Gomez was sentenced Wednesday in Monterey County. He was found guilty of 16 felony counts, including arson and animal cruelty. Prosecutors say Gomez told them he set the August 2020 Big Sur Dolan fire while illegally growing marijuana in the Los Padres National Forest. The blaze northwest of Los Angeles injured several firefighters, one seriously, destroyed 10 homes and burned down a condor sanctuary.

Boeing crew capsule launches to space station on test redo

Boeing's crew capsule has blasted off on a repeat test flight to the International Space Station. Only a test dummy was on board for Thursday’s launch from Cape Canaveral. It's Boeing’s third shot at the flight demo. Two previous attempts were marred by software flaws and stuck valves. If the capsule reaches the space station Friday and everything else goes well, NASA test pilots could strap in by the end of this year for the company’s first astronaut flight. Boeing is trying to catch up with SpaceX, which has been flying NASA crews for two years.

Ex-deputy gets 18 years after detainees drown in locked van

A deputy in South Carolina whose police van was swept away by floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, drowning two women seeking mental health treatment trapped in a cage in the back has been sentenced to 18 years in prison. A Marion County jury found former Horry County deputy Stephen Flood guilty of two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of reckless homicide. Forty-five-year-old Wendy Newton and 43-year-old Nicolette Green had been involuntarily committed for mental help, but weren't dangerous. Prosecutors say Flood was reckless by driving the van into floodwaters in September 2018 with the helpless women in the back. The van was pinned against a guardrail where Flood and a second deputy could not get them out.

Oklahoma passes strictest abortion ban; services to stop

Abortion providers in Oklahoma say they will no longer provide the service in the state after the governor signs the latest anti-abortion measure heading to his desk. The bill passed Thursday is part of an aggressive push in Republican-led states across the country to scale back abortion rights. The bill would prohibit all abortions, except to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement. It now heads to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is expected to sign it.

CDC urges Pfizer booster for children ages 5 to 11

U.S. health advisers are urging a booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quickly signed off on the advice. The decision opens a third COVID-19 shot to healthy elementary-age kids, just like what is already recommended for everybody 12 and older. Regulators this week authorized the extra dose to be given at least five months after youngsters' last shot. CDC's advisers endorsed it during a public meeting on Thursday.

Filing: Chicago 'two-faced' on acknowledging police abuse

Community leaders say the city of Chicago pursues a “two-faced” strategy of acknowledging an ugly history of police brutality in public while directing its lawyers to deny that legacy in court when victims sue. That allegation came in a filing in Chicago’s U.S. District Court on behalf of nearly 50 civic, business and religious leaders. They say the city's approach delays just payouts and costs the city tens of millions in legal fees that could otherwise go to social programs or reducing taxes. The filing is in a lawsuit by James Gibson, who was freed after 29 years when courts agreed officers under then-police commander Jon Burge tortured him into implicating himself in the 1989 slayings of two men. Gibson was later granted a certificate of innocence.

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Live updates |Congress approves $40B aid package to Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has thanked the United States for the $40 billion aid package, which got final congressional approval. He also thanked the European Union for its support in his nightly video address to the nation. Zelenskyy says Ukraine’s monthly budget deficit is $5 billion. To survive in the war for freedom, he says Ukraine needs quick and sufficient financial support. The U.S. has announced a shipment of $100 million in military equipment to Ukraine, separate from what will be coming from the $40 billion approved by Congress.

Arizona prisoner won’t be executed in gas chamber

An Arizona prisoner is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on June 8 for killing an 8-year-old girl. Frank Atwood is the second death-row prisoner to decline lethal gas since the state refurbished its gas chamber. Gas chamber executions haven't been used in the United States in more than 20 years. Atwood declined to pick a method of execution when officials asked him if he wanted to die by lethal injection or the gas chamber. Lethal injection is Arizona’s default execution method when prisoners refuse to make a selection. Atwood was sentenced to die for his murder conviction in the 1984 killing of Vicki Hoskinson.

Ellen DeGeneres: proud of what she, daytime TV show achieved

Ellen DeGeneres is proud of what she's accomplished in nearly two decades as a daytime TV host, but she's ready to say goodbye. “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” will air its last original episodes next week, Monday through Thursday. Among the guests: Jennifer Lawrence, Mila Kunis and  Bruno Mars, with Jennifer Aniston, Billie Eilish and Pink on the Thursday, May 26, finale. DeGeneres says her approach to the show was to give the audience something fun and occasionally serious. She also acknowledges that who she is counted too: a TV host who is part of the LGBTQ community and was accepted by viewers.