A billion-dollar emergency loan approved by Congress to help Puerto Rico deal with the effects of Hurricane Maria has been temporarily withheld by federal officials who say the U.S. territory is not facing a cash shortage like it has repeatedly warned about in recent months.
Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Treasury Department said in a letter to the director of the island's fiscal agency that Puerto Rico has had a central cash balance exceeding $1.5 billion in the nearly four months since the Category 4 storm. Federal officials also noted the local government released documents in late December showing it had nearly $7 billion available in cash. The letter was first published Wednesday by the newspaper El Nuevo Dia.
Kazakhstan Ministry for Emergency Situations via AP
A bus fire in Kazakhstan killed 52 people on Thursday in a vast snow-covered steppe, officials said.
The tragedy happened near the village of Kalybai in the northern Aktobe region, the Emergencies Department of the former Soviet nation in Central Asia said. Authorities said that only five of 57 people on the bus managed to escape the blaze. They are being treated for injuries.
Officials said that according to preliminary information all of the victims were citizens of neighboring Uzbekistan. Of the survivors, two are citizens of Kazakhstan who were taking turns to drive the bus and three others are from Uzbekistan.
Pool/Getty Images, File
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's upcoming visit to the Middle East comes at a time of intensely publicized friction between his administration and the Palestinian leadership, posing a dilemma for his Arab hosts — Egypt's president and Jordan's king — on how to safeguard their vital ties with Washington without appearing to ignore Palestinian misgivings.
Both countries are heavily dependent on U.S. military and economic aid, and talks with a senior Trump administration official like Pence offer them an opportunity to strengthen those ties.
It's a tall order given that Pence is visiting at a time of rising anti-U.S. sentiments in the region, stoked by President Donald Trump's recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The city is home to major Muslim sites, along with Christian and Jewish shrines, and its Israeli-annexed eastern sector is sought by the Palestinians as the capital of a future state.
Congressional Democrats aren't backing down from their threats to reject any government funding bill that isn't paired with protection for thousands of young immigrants, as hard-line liberal groups shrug off risks of a government shutdown.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said Wednesday there's "very, very strong" sentiment among his party's lawmakers to oppose GOP-drafted legislation that would only keep the government's doors open for four weeks past a looming Friday deadline. Schumer did not say his caucus was entirely unified, but the rhetoric signaled growing chances that a stop-gap measure could come up short of votes in the Senate and federal agencies could begin closing their doors Friday at midnight.
"The overwhelming number in our caucus have said they don't like this deal and they believe if we kick the can down the road this time we'll be back where we started from next time," Schumer told reporters. "So there's very, very strong support not to go along with their deal."
For all his errant swings at the facts, President Donald Trump sometimes gets it just right.
"There's been no first year like this," he told a Florida rally last month.
Were truer words ever spoken?
A gay couple sued Vistaprint on Tuesday in Massachusetts, alleging the printing company sent them pamphlets with messages about temptation and sin instead of the wedding programs they ordered for their special day.
Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg were married in Pennsylvania in September but on the eve of their wedding, they say they opened up a package that was supposed to be their wedding program, and instead they say Vistaprint sent them pamphlets about sin and Satan.
The couple filed a federal lawsuit claiming discrimination.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File
President Donald Trump's use of the terms "fake news" and "enemy of the people" is "shameful" and reminiscent of words infamously used by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to describe his enemies, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said Wednesday.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Flake, of Arizona, called Trump's repeated attacks on the media "repulsive" and said Trump "has it precisely backward." Despotism is the enemy of the people, while a free press is the despot's enemy and a guardian of democracy, Flake said.
A layer of snow and ice and a record-breaking blast of cold closed runways, highways, schools and government offices across the South and sent cars sliding off roads Wednesday in a swath of the country ill-equipped to deal with wintry weather. At least eight people died, including a baby in a car that plunged off an icy overpass into a Louisiana canal.
Icicles hung from a statue of jazz musicians in normally balmy New Orleans, and drivers unaccustomed to ice spun their wheels across Atlanta, which was brought to a near-standstill by little more than an inch of snow. The beach in Biloxi, Mississippi, got a light coating. And the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill canceled classes as the storm unloaded at least 4 inches by late morning, with up to 8 inches forecast.
Nine Florida State University fraternity members were charged with hazing Wednesday in the death of a 20-year-old pledge who authorities say drank a lethal amount of bourbon and malt liquor at an off-campus party.
The Tallahassee Police Department on Tuesday said in an emailed release that arrest warrants were signed earlier in the day by a Leon County judge for Luke Klutz, Clayton Muehlstein, Anthony Oppenheimer, John Ray, Kyle Bauer, Christopher Hamlin, Conner Ravelo, Brett Birmingham and Anthony Petagine.
Orange County Sheriff's Office
A former high school classmate was charged with murder Wednesday in the stabbing death of a University of Pennsylvania student who was home in Orange County visiting family during winter break.
Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach was arrested Friday. He is accused of picking up 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein from his family's Lake Forest home, then stabbing him "multiple times" with a knife before burying his remains in Borrego Park in Lake Forest. Woodward drove Bernstein to a shopping center parking lot on Portola Parkway in Foothill Ranch before the slaying, the district attorney said.
A former domestic employee of Goldman Sachs President David Solomon was arrested Tuesday in Los Angeles on charges he stole over $1 million of rare wine from his boss, authorities said Wednesday.
According to the indictment, Nicolas DeMeyer stole hundreds of bottles of wine worth at least $1.2 million from 2014 to late 2016.
The stolen wine allegedly included bottles from the French estate Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, considered among the rarest and most expensive wines in the world. It was unclear who will represent DeMeyer at an initial court appearance in Los Angeles federal court.
Riverside County Sheriff's Department via AP
A California home where authorities say two parents tortured their 13 children had doubled as a private school.
But it was not subject to government oversight because no state agency regulates or oversees private schools in California.
David Allen Turpin and his wife, Louise Anna Turpin, were arrested Sunday after authorities found the malnourished children in their home in a Los Angeles suburb.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Senator Jeff Flake's speech on the senate floor was made due to low poll numbers than an actual sincere criticism of President Trump.
Getty Images/Keith Lane
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled deeper U.S. commitment to Syria on Wednesday, saying America would maintain its military presence there to prevent an ISIS resurgence. He said the U.S. also would push for broader political changes in the Middle East country.
Speaking at Stanford University after being introduced by former top diplomat Condoleezza Rice, Tillerson said the Trump administration was determined not to repeat President Barack Obama's "mistake" when he withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011. Republicans for years have argued the withdrawal created the opening for ISIS' rapid expansion.
He graduated from Atlantic City High School in 2010. His Albanian immigrant family owned a pizza shop in Margate, New Jersey. He attended a mosque where "he hated people," according his mother.
Then Zulfi Hoxha went to Syria and became Abu Hamza al-Amriki, an ISIS soldier, according to his mother and court documents in another recent terrorism case involving an American.