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Federal Judge Rules Affordable Care Act Unconstitutional

DAVID LEE

A Texas federal judge ruled Friday night that the Affordable Care Act is invalid due to last year’s tax cuts removing the individual mandate tax penalty, handing Republican critics their largest victory yet against the controversial law.

Lame-Duck Wisconsin Gov. Cuts Power of Incoming Democrats

By JOE KELLY

Outgoing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed three bills Friday giving more power to the Republican-controlled Legislature and weakening the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.

Michael Avenatti’s Not Done Throwing Punches to Prison-Bound Cohen

By ADAM KLASFELD

Some seven months before Michael Cohen’s three-year prison sentence, Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted out a report accusing President Donald Trump’s former “fixer” of committing bank fraud. Now that Cohen has admitted to that charge in court – and making illegal hush money payments to Daniels – Avenatti exuded his characteristic confidence in a telephone interview sharing his next set of predictions.

McCain Successor Jon Kyl to Step Down

By JAMIE ROSS

Positioning the governor to appoint a second successor to the late Senator John McCain, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona announced Friday he will resign at the end of the year.

Hiring of Campaign Worker Takes Spotlight in North Carolina Race

By ERIKA WILLIAMS

Amid an ongoing investigation surrounding the still undecided 9th Congressional District race, the focus in North Carolina has shifted to whether the apparent Republican winner knew about fraudulent activity that may have been connected to his campaign.

Panel Hears Claims of Race Bias in Alabama Judicial Elections

By KAYLA GOGGIN

Attorneys for Alabama asked an 11th Circuit panel Friday to overturn a federal judge’s refusal to dismiss an NAACP lawsuit claiming the state’s method of electing judges is unfair to black voters.

Battle Over City Utility Rules Fought at 11th Circuit

Suit Over Search on Domestic Delta Flight Cleared for Takeoff

By JOSH RUSSELL

Civil rights attorneys applauded a federal judge Friday for refusing to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the U.S. government of subjecting passengers on a domestic Delta Airlines to an illegal search.

Judge: Defense to Rollback of School Disclosure Rule 'Funny'

By NICHOLAS IOVINO

The U.S. Department of Education is relying on a “funny argument” to defend its rollback of an Obama-era rule that would require online schools to warn incoming students about the quality of their programs, a federal judge said in court Friday.

Global warming 2

'Wake Up, the Planet Is Burning Up!' Brown Tells Polluting Nations

By MARIA DINZEO

Outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown had some harsh words for world leaders at the United Nations Climate Conference in Poland, which wrapped up Friday.

OPINION

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

By ROBERT KAHN

Sorry about all the typos. Fortunately, I start work each day at 3 a.m. I know what you’re thinking: “What’s fortunate about that?” It’s because it allowed me to edit and update this news page on Monday before WordPress “improved” the program with which the page is posted: A Day That Will Live in Infamy.

California Intent on Public Beach Access in Ritzy Enclave

By MATTHEW RENDA

In no uncertain terms, members of the California Coastal Commissioner put property owners in a wealthy enclave north of Los Angeles on notice that their days of blocking the public from accessing an 8-mile stretch of pristine coast will soon be over.

Stocks Hit 8-Month Low on Global Growth Fears

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Stocks staggered to eight-month lows Friday after weak economic data from China and Europe set off more worries about the global economy. Mounting tensions in Europe over Britain’s impeding departure from the European Union also darkened traders’ moods.

Lobster, Scallops Boost Banner Year for US Fishing

By ZACK HUFFMAN

Rebounding from a drop in revenue the previous year, fisheries across the U.S. generated $212 billion in 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.

US Retail Sales Up in November, Beating Expectations

Princeton Sued by Greek Monastery Over Rare Texts

By NICK RUMMELL

The library at Princeton University boasts some of the rarest and most obscure religious manuscripts in the world. And according to a federal complaint filed Thursday by the Eastern Orthodox Church, it also houses four holy texts from the Byzantine era that were looted from a small monastery during World War I.

Delay in Breast Cancer Protection From Pregnancy Found

By EMILEE LARKIN

Shedding new light on old research about how young pregnancy can reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer, the National Institute of Health reported Friday that such benefits do not appear to kick in for several decades.

Invoking Dr. Seuss, Fourth Circuit Tosses Pipeline Permit

By ERIKA WILLIAMS

Quoting Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax,” the Fourth Circuit spoke for the trees Thursday by scrapping a key federal permit for a planned section of a natural gas pipeline crossing 21 miles of national forest in Virginia, including a section of the Appalachian Trail.

Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax." (Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment)

Read the Nightly Brief

Census Citizenship Question Spat Headed to Trial in San Francisco

By NICHOLAS IOVINO

A lawsuit claiming the Trump administration used a false motive to justify adding a census question that could weaken the political power of Democratic strongholds must go to trial next month, a federal judge ruled Friday.

EU Court Reverses Course, Backs Hamas Asset Freeze

By BARBARA LEONARD

Four years after it questioned the basis for an asset freeze against Hamas, the European General Court reversed course Friday, saying American decisions hold no sway but that EU lawmakers were entitled to rely on the findings of a U.K. official.

Planned Parenthood Seeks to End Idaho Abortion Law

By CATHY VALENTI
planned parenthood iowa2

The largest provider of reproductive health services in Idaho filed a federal lawsuit against the state Friday, claiming that Idaho’s physician-only law banning advanced practice clinicians from performing abortion services presents an undue burden on women seeking abortions and is “out of step with the State’s treatment of comparable health services and medically unjustified.”

Nexstar Settles With US Over Coordinated Ad Rates

By ALEXANDRA JONES
tv static

A month to the day that six television networks settled similar charges, Nexstar Media Group struck a deal Thursday to resolve antitrust concerns by U.S. regulators.

Mongols Biker Club Convicted of Racketeering

By DON DeBENEDICTIS
mongols2

A federal jury Thursday convicted the Mongol Nation Motorcycle Club of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering for more than a decade. The verdict allows prosecutors to try to seize ownership of the club’s trademarked patch that members wear on their vests.

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Briefings

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Courtroom

Brown Appoints Six to California Superior Court Benches

NATHAN SOLIS

Judge Tosses 'Wolf of Wall Street' Defamation Case

CHRIS FRY
FILE- This Feb. 7, 2018, file photo shows the Charging Bull sculpture by Arturo Di Modica, in New York's Financial District. The stock market’s near decade-long climb upward since the depths of the Great Recession turns nine years old Friday, March 9, the second longest U.S. bull market since World War II. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed libel claims against Paramount Pictures brought by a former financial executive who argued the Leonardo DiCaprio-led movie “Wolf of Wall Street” falsely portrayed him as a “criminal, a drug user and a degenerate.”

Houston Firefighters, Police Battle Over City Budget

CAMERON LANGFORD

The Houston Police Department won’t have the manpower to investigate home burglaries and car wrecks if the cash-strapped city is forced to lay off hundreds of officers to help finance a voter-approved pay raise for firefighters, the police chief testified Friday.

Racketeering Case Over Ankle Monitoring Advances, Barely

HELEN CHRISTOPHI

Gutting a federal class action accusing Alameda County and a private contractor of charging inmates on pretrial detention exorbitant daily fees for ankle monitors, a federal judge on Friday dropped the county from the case and advanced just one racketeering claim.

Shakira Facing Tax Evasion Charges in Spain

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Colombian singer Shakira performs at the Estadio Azteca  in Mexico City, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.(AP Photo/Marco Ugarte

Spanish prosecutors have charged pop music star Shakira with tax evasion, alleging she failed to pay more than $16.3 million between 2012 and 2014. The Colombian singer denied the charges.

NATIONAL

FILE - In this April 14, 2017, file photo, provided by Sherry Simon, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, lies on a cot at an anti-death penalty demonstration outside the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock, Ark. Griffen, who was barred from considering any execution-related cases after blocking the use of a lethal injection drug and participating in an anti-death penalty demonstration, is suing the state's highest court, saying justices violated his constitutional rights. (Sherry Simon via AP, File)

Report Finds Waning Public Support for Death Penalty

DANIEL JACKSON

Feds to Investigate Death of 7-Year-Old Migrant Girl

NATALIE KREBS
A U.S. Border Patrol agent patrols Sunland Park along the U.S.-Mexico border next to Ciudad Juarez on Jan. 4, 2016. The New Mexico border town, next to El Paso, Texas, has struggled to put a series of national scandals behind it until two city councilors were recently arrested. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

The Department of Homeland Security said Friday it will investigate the death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in federal custody last week after crossing the U.S. border into New Mexico.

DC Circuit Unlikely to Shine Light on Trump Records

JENNIFER HIJAZI

Fighting protests over the president’s 2016 financial disclosures, a lawyer for the Justice Department used just five minutes of his allotted time Friday to request that the D.C. Circuit affirm dismissal of the case.

Butina Lawyers Withdraw Gradute School Subpoena

TIM RYAN
Maria Butina, leader of a pro-gun organization in Russia, speaks to a crowd during a rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns in Moscow, Russia on Sunday, April 21, 2013.(AP Photo)

On the heels of Maria Butina’s admission that she was spying for Russia when she enrolled in a U.S. grad school, defense attorneys agreed Friday to withdraw their subpoena of American University.

Winners of Visa Lottery Fight for Travel-Ban Relief

TIM RYAN

Fighting for the visas his clients were denied in the wake of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, a lawyer for four Yemenis and Iranians faced grim odds at the D.C. Circuit on Friday.

INTERNATIONAL

A demonstrator holds a placard reads " All together put on your yellow vests and come on"  she demonstrates in Biarritz, southwestern France, Wednesday, Dec.12, 2018. Storeowners are replacing shattered windows while city workers have been towing away the hulks of burned-out cars and cleaning anti-government and anti-capitalist graffiti off shops, buildings and world-famous sites like the Arc de Triomphe, which reopens on Wednesday, more than a week after it was vandalized. Back a placard reads "Solidarity of Strasbourg victims". AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Paris Police Bracing for More Violent Protests

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Russian Orthodox Church Calls on UN for Help in Ukraine

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, left, walk to lay flowers at the monument of Minin and Pozharsky at Red Square in Moscow, during National Unity Day on Nov. 4, 2018. The Russian Church said on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, that Patriarch Kirill has sent a letter to the U.N. secretary-general, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and other spiritual leaders, urging them to help protect the clerics, believers and their faith in Ukraine. (Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP, File)

The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday called on the United Nations, the leaders of Germany and France, the pope and other spiritual leaders to protect believers in Ukraine in the face of pressure on Moscow-affiliated clerics.

Belarus Leader Slams Russian Talk of Taking Over His Nation

May Aims to Rescue Brexit Plan; EU Says Ball Is in UK's Court

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Protestors chat under an umbrella with the British and EU flag as they meet to protest against Brexit opposite the House of Parliament in London, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. Prime Minister Theresa May made a blunt appeal to skeptical lawmakers on Monday to back her divorce deal with the European Union: It isn't perfect, but it's all there is, and the alternative is a leap into the unknown.  (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

British Prime Minister Theresa May launched a rescue mission for her ailing Brexit deal Friday, after the European Union rebuffed her request to sweeten the divorce agreement so she can win over hostile lawmakers at home.

Etihad Sued for $23B by Air Berlin Insolvency Administrator

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The insolvency administrator for bankrupt airline Air Berlin has sued its former largest shareholder, Gulf airline Etihad, for $2.26 billion in damages, a Berlin court said Friday.

Lawmaker: Rajapaksa to Resign as Sri Lanka's Prime Minister

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Sri Lankan lawmaker says disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will resign Saturday to end the country’s political crisis.

In Brief

Walt Girdner was born in central Iowa in 1922, one of five children. His father took a job as a Christian minister in Alameda after the family moved to California in 1925. Growing up during the Great Depression, Walt worked double shifts at a cannery to make money for college. He attended Stanford where he put together a string of letters and wins, running the quarter and half-mile. An invitation to join the U.S. Olympic team was negated by World War II and cancellation of the games. During the war, he disembarked in Normandy, fought in the infantry and marched into Germany .

As a young man, he developed an interest in imagery, first through drawing then through the developing technology of photography. Although he left the church where his mother and father were pastors, he kept a lifelong faith in the power and mystery of the natural environment, seeing in its beauty an overriding and everlasting spiritual force. His subjects focused on people and their settings. Farmers, flower sellers, youth were recurring themes.

He traveled in large part to find new images and capture them, in France at first, then the rest of Europe and later Africa and Mexico. Towards the end of his life, Walt focused on images in nature, including letters and numbers that emerged through abalone shells, beach tableaus and patterns in the sand.  He had faith that imagery was a powerful way to communicate and believed young people were much better at interpreting the language of imagery, gifted with imaginations more agile and unencumbered.