A proposal to overhaul New Mexico’s social studies standards has stirred debate over how race should be taught, with thousands of parents and teachers weighing in on changes that would dramatically increase instruction related to racial and social identity beginning in kindergarten. New Mexi… More >>

Three former Minneapolis officers headed to a federal trial on civil rights charges this week in the death of George Floyd aren’t as familiar to most people as Derek Chauvin, a fellow officer who was convicted of murder last spring. Thomas Lane and J. Kueng were the first officers to respond to a report that Floyd had tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill, and they helped Chauvin restrain Floyd. Lane and Kueng were rookies just a few days into their jobs as full-fledged officers. Tou Thao was the second-most senior officer on the scene after Chauvin. He held back a group of bystanders shouting at the officers to get off Floyd.  More >>

The NCAA has adopted a sport-by-sport approach for transgender athletes, bringing the organization in line with the U.S. and International Olympic Committees. Under the new guidelines, approved by the NCAA Board of Governors, transgender participation for each sport will be determined by the policy for the sport’s national governing body. It will then be subject to review and recommendation by an NCAA committee to the Board of Governors. The policy is effective immediately. NCAA rules on transgender athletes returned to the forefront when Penn swimmer Lia Thomas started smashing records this year. She competed on the men's team before transitioning. More >>

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Some flights to and from the U.S. have been canceled even after AT&T and Verizon scaled back the rollout of high-speed wireless service that could interfere with aircraft technology that measures altitude. Airlines received warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing that many of the plane maker’s 777 aircraft had equipment that was particularly vulnerable to interference from 5G service. The Airlines for America trade group said Wednesday that cancellations were limited because telecom providers agreed to temporarily reduce the rollout of 5G near airports while industry and government work out a longer-term solution. Nearly 40% of the U.S. airline fleet lacks FAA approval to land in low-visibility near 5G signals.  More >>

The U.S. Army Corps will spend $732 million to expand a congested lock and dam in Missouri. Federal officials said adding a second lock in Winfield, Missouri, will reduce travel time for barges and allow for two-way traffic. Funding for the lock's construction was part of a broader Biden administration announcement Wednesday to provide the Army Corps with $14 billon for infrastructure and environmental restoration projects. In addition to the lock, the Army Corps will spend $97.1 million to construct a fish passage at another Mississippi River lock and dam. More >>

FBI agents have conducted a search near U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar's home in Texas as they conducted what an FBI spokeswoman called “court-authorized law enforcement activity.” The motive and scope of the search was not immediately known. But a reporter for The Monitor of McAllen, Texas, which first reported the operation, reported from the scene that more than a dozen federal agents were seen passing in and out of Cuellar’s home bearing cases and other items. FBI spokeswoman Rosanne Hughes mentioned an “ongoing investigation” that the bureau wouldn't comment on. Cuellar's office issued a statement pledging the Democrat “will fully cooperate in any investigation.” More >>

Authorities have arrested a 31-year-old man in connection with the slaying of a woman while she worked at a Los Angeles furniture store last week. Shawn Laval Smith was taken into custody shortly before noon Wednesday in Pasadena. Investigators offered a $250,000 reward during a news conference Tuesday for information leading to Smith’s identity, arrest and conviction in the fatal stabbing of 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer. A customer found Kupfer dead on the floor Thursday afternoon at the store in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Smith is a transient who has been seen in several Southern California cities along with San Diego and San Francisco. More >>

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Two Richmond residents living near the site where a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee stood for more than a century have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling by the Supreme Court of Virginia that let state officials remove the towering monument. In petitioning the court Wednesday, lawyers for the landowners argued former Gov. Ralph Northam didn't have the authority to revoke an agreement to maintain the statue on state-owned land. Virginia promised to forever maintain the statue in 19th century deeds transferring its ownership to the state. But the Supreme Court of Virginia sided with Northam last year. The statue was removed in September. More >>

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Authorities say two U.S. Marines were killed and 17 others injured when the 7-ton truck they were riding in overturned near their North Carolina base. The State Highway Patrol said the truck was making a right turn onto a highway Wednesday afternoon when it lost control and overturned. A highway patrol spokesman, Lt. Devin Rich, said indications were that the truck was traveling too fast for the turn. The patrol says 17 Marines aboard the truck were ejected. It said a second vehicle trailing the truck hit one of those passengers. The accident occurred a few miles away from Camp Lejeune.  More >>

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The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld as valid a voter-approved election system that would end party primaries in the state and institute ranked choice voting in general elections. A brief order released Wednesday affirmed a lower court ruling from last year. A fuller opinion explaining the Supreme Court’s decision was expected later. The ruling comes one day after the justices heard arguments in the case. The new system is unique among states and set to be used for this year’s elections. It is viewed by supporters as a way to encourage civility and cooperation among elected officials.  More >>

San Diego police have determined the causes of death of a 40-year-old woman and her 2-year-old son who plunged from the third level of San Diego’s Petco Park, just as thousands of baseball fans were heading inside for a Padres game last year. Police say Raquel Wilkins’ death on Sept. 25, 2021, has been classified as a suicide, and her son Denzel Browning-Wilkins’ death has been classified as a homicide. The determinations were made in consultation with the San Diego County Medical Examiner. An attorney for Wilkins’ family disputed the findings and said the deaths were a tragic accident. More >>

A man convicted of a Southern California rampage that included shootings, carjackings and murder has been sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole by a judge who called him “evil personified.” Thirty-eight-year-old Artyom Gasparyan was sentenced Tuesday in Los Angeles. In August, a jury convicted him of more than 30 criminal charges. Prosecutors say that in 2015 and January 2016, Gasparyan committed carjackings, armed robberies and shootings that wounded several people and left one man dead. Police shot him after a wrong-way crash on a Los Angeles freeway.  More >>

A Georgia man convicted of participating in a scheme in Florida to steal more than $1.8 million in veteran and Social Security benefits has been sentenced to six years and six months in prison. Court documents show Jamare Mason was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. He pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to commit bank and wire fraud. From 2012 to 2017, officials say Mason and others attempted to redirect over $1.8 million in benefits from more than 100 disabled veterans and Social Security beneficiaries. Officials say the scheme resulted in the actual loss of nearly $1 million. More >>

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New Mexico is asking National Guard troops and state bureaucrats to volunteer to serve as substitute teachers as preschools and K-12 public schools struggle to keep classrooms open amid surging COVID-19 infections. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday announced an unprecedented effort to reopen classrooms in the capital city of Santa Fe and shore up staffing across the state. Her administration says school districts and preschools are seeking at least 800 substitute teachers and day care workers for shifts ranging from one classroom period to the entire day. School districts will decide whether military personnel appear in uniform or casual dress. More >>

Planned Parenthood is suing the state of South Dakota to stop new rule for medical abortions that would make the state one of the hardest places in the nation to get abortion pills. The rule approved by lawmakers earlier this month requires women to return to a doctor to receive the second of two drugs used to carry out a medication abortion. Usually women receive both drugs in one visit, taking the second medication at home. The regulation is expected to go into effect later this month. South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem initiated the rules change in September through an executive order. Her spokesman said said the ACLU and Planned Parenthood “have shown that they more worried about their bottom line.” More >>

An Air Force airman convicted of kidnapping and killing a Mennonite woman was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison. Mark Gooch was convicted of kidnapping Sasha Krause from northwestern New Mexico, fatally shooting her and leaving her body in a forest clearing outside Flagstaff, Arizona. The 22-year-old was sentenced almost exactly two years from the day Krause went missing. The two didn't know each other but both grew up in Mennonite communities — Krause in Texas and Gooch in Wisconsin. Krause joined the church, but Gooch rejected the faith. More >>

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A hearing on a motion seeking to dismiss former Chicago-area police sergeant Drew Peterson's 2012 conviction for killing his third wife has been delayed. The Will County Circuit Court Clerk's office says the hearing originally scheduled for this Friday will be held Feb. 7. Peterson says attorney Joel Brodsky provided ineffective counsel and alleges prosecutorial misconduct and witness intimidation by Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow. Brodsky says he's been vindicated by previous court rulings and Glasgow's office denies Peterson's allegations. Peterson was convicted of murder in the 2004 death of Kathleen Savio. He's a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, but not been charged.  More >>

U.S. authorities say a businessman who is a suspect in the July 7 killing of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was extradited to face criminal charges in Miami. “We can confirm Rodolphe Jaar is in U.S. custody in the Southern District of Florida,” said Nicole Navas, spokesperson at the Department of Justice. “He will be presented with criminal charges tomorrow at his initial appearance” at the federal court. Jaar, who was convicted of drug-trafficking charges a decade ago, was extradited from the Dominican Republic, where he was detained earlier this month. Jaar is the second foreigner extradited to the U.S. to face charges related with the assassination of Haiti's president. More >>

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A federal grand jury has indicted an Indiana man on charges that would make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted in the fatal shooting of a Terre Haute police detective and FBI task force officer. Federal officials say 45-year-old Shane Meehan of Terre Haute was indicted Wednesday on charges of murder of a federal officer, attempted arson of federal property and using a firearm during a crime of violence causing death. The charges stem from the July 7 killing of Officer Gregory Ferency. The murder and firearms charges are capital-eligible offenses, punishable by lifetime imprisonment or death. The 53-year-old Ferency was shot as he emerged from an FBI office. More >>

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The Missouri House has overcome objections by Democrats and some Republicans to pass legislation redrawing the state's eight congressional districts. The 86-67 vote Wednesday sends the redistricting plan to the Senate, where more debate is expected. The plan is projected to keep the state's current political split of six Republicans and two Democrats in the U.S. House. But some conservative senators are already pushing for a map that would give the GOP a shot of winning seven congressional seats. Also Wednesday, a bipartisan commission gave final approved to a plan to redraw the state's 163 Missouri House districts. More >>

AP

Authorities say a 15-year-old student died at a hospital after two people fired into a van at a Pittsburgh school. Pittsburgh Public Schools said the male student was shot in the school van at dismissal time Wednesday afternoon at Oliver Citywide Academy. No arrests were immediately announced. Police say they are reviewing surveillance videos and seeking witnesses. Oliver Citywide Academy describes itself on its website as “a full-time special education center serving grades 3-12.” School officials say all other students were safe inside the building. The school was locked down for a time. More >>

AP

A team of scientists has explored a rare, pristine coral reef off the coast of Tahiti. The rose-shaped corals seem to be untouched by climate change or human activity. Coral reefs around the world have been depleted by overfishing and pollution. Climate change has also caused major bleaching events. This reef was studied late last year during a dive expedition supported by UNESCO. Scientists hope to learn how the reef stays resilient. More trips are planned later this year. Outside experts say the deep location where the reef was found hasn't been well explored by researchers.  More >>

AP

A Cook County judge who made sexist comments about an attorney that were broadcast live on YouTube won't be hearing any cases in the immediate future. In an order made public Wednesday removing Judge William Raines from the bench, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans said Raines also must undergo “sensitivity training and gender bias counseling." It's unclear when or if Raines will be allowed to return to the courtroom. Evans' order says another judge must monitor and mentor Raines and report back to the court system’s executive committee within 90 days. Raines made the comments about attorney Jennifer Bonjean on Jan. 11, after she left his courtroom.  More >>

AP

The local water district for wealthy Southern California communities in an enclave nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains is taking a more aggressive approach to conservation as the drought drags on despite a wet winter start. The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District is installing a new metering system that gives people a real-time look at their water use. It's also lowering the threshold for penalizing wasters and threatening to restrict the flow of water for households that don't get their water use back under control. The district's approach offers a bold example of how local authorities across California are trying to get people to use less water.  More >>

AP

Georgia is buying a new voter registration system for the state’s 7 million voters. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday the move will enhance security and make it easier to retrieve data. The state’s current system is nearly a decade old. It was blamed for slowdowns during the first few days of early in-person voting in the 2020 primary elections. The system couldn't access data fast enough to handle a large volume of voters. Officials say the new system will cost less than $3.5 million, using state and federal money. The new voter registration system is planned to begin operating in March. The old one will be kept online temporarily as a backup. More >>

AP
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Stocks closed broadly lower on Wall Street Wednesday and deepened the weekly losses for major indexes following another choppy day of trading. The S&P 500 fell 1%, the Nasdaq fell 1.1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1%. The major indexes all set new lows for the year, with technology stocks' weakness again giving direction to the broader market. UnitedHealth Group, Bank of America and Procter & Gamble all rose after reporting encouraging financial results. Bond yields fell. Small company stocks, a gauge of confidence in economic growth, fell more than the rest of the market. More >>

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The University of Michigan has agreed to a $490 million settlement with more than 1,000 people who say they were sexually assaulted by a sports doctor during his nearly four-decade career at the school. The university confirmed the settlement Wednesday. Dr. Robert Anderson died in 2008. The university had been in mediation to resolve multiple lawsuits by mostly men who said Anderson sexually abused them during routine medical examinations. Anderson worked at the university from 1966 until his 2003 retirement and was director of the university’s Health Service and a physician for multiple athletic teams, including football. More >>

AP

The wife of a former Vermont legislator and House majority leader says he has died with the help of a law he himself helped pass that allows the terminally ill to end their own lives. Ellen McKay Jewett says husband Willem Jewett died Jan. 12 at his home in Ripton at age 58. He had mucosal melanoma. In the days before his death, he supported changes to the 2013 law to make it easier for terminally ill people to navigate and get a prescription. Jewett was a Democrat, a lawyer and a competitive cyclist who served in the Vermont House from 2003 to 2016. More >>

AP

A federal judge has ruled that the parents of Otto Warmbier, a U.S. student who died after being taken hostage by North Korea and released by the country in a coma in 2017, should receive about $240,000 seized from a North Korean bank account. The amount would be a partial payment toward the more than $501 million Fred and Cindy Warmbier of Wyoming, Ohio, were awarded in 2018 by a federal judge in Washington, D.C. The couple have claimed their son was tortured by North Korea after being convicted in 2016 of trying to steal a propaganda poster. The 22-year-old suffered severe brain damage and died shortly after being returned. More >>

AP

Suspicions that a University of Michigan sports doctor was committing sexual assault went back decades, long before a $490 million settlement with victims. But no one stepped forward to ensure that Robert Anderson would be kicked off campus. The many missed opportunities were described in detail last May when a law firm hired by the university released its findings about Anderson, who died in 2008 after working at U-M for nearly 40 years. The WilmerHale law firm found many significant events that could have made a difference if someone had intervened, but no one did, leaving Anderson with “countless occasions” to harass, abuse and assault patients. More >>

The 44th annual Sundance Film Festival is back, and entirely online once more. The festival starts Thursday with nine packed days of high profile documentaries about everyone from Kanye West and Princess Diana to Lucille Ball and Bill Cosby, buzzy first films from knowns and unknowns, virtual gatherings and filmmaker Q&As. The experience of 2021 taught the programmers that not only could they run a successful festival online, but that films could still break through. Opening night selections include “Emergency,” a darkly comedic look at issues like race and assault, as well as Eva Longoria’s documentary “La Guerra Civil,” about Oscar De La Hoya and Julio César Chávez’s 1996 fight. More >>

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A new study that compares coronavirus protection from prior infection and vaccination concludes getting the shots is still the safest way to prevent COVID-19. The study examined infections in New York and California last summer and fall. They found people who were both vaccinated and had survived a prior bout of COVID-19 had the most protection. But unvaccinated people with a prior infection were a very close second. By fall, when the more contagious delta variant had taken over but boosters weren’t yet widespread, those people had a lower case rate than vaccinated people who had no past infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study Wednesday. More >>

The man accused of pushing a woman to her death in a New York City subway station has been arraigned on a murder charge and ordered held without bail. Martial Simon was charged Wednesday in the death of Michelle Alyssa Go. She was pushed in front of a train Saturday in the Times Square station. A mental fitness exam was ordered for Simon. Go is Asian American, and prosecutors are trying to determine whether the attack was racially motivated. A defense agency says “it would be a shame if Mr. Simon was sacrificed at the altar of vengeful public opinion.” More >>

The infant endangered Sumatran orangutan at the zoo in New Orleans is being bottle-fed because his mother wasn't producing enough milk. An Audubon Zoo spokeswoman says the still unnamed baby was being tube-fed as well, but the tube was removed Jan. 13. Twelve-year-old Menari gave birth to the baby on Christmas Eve. Days later, he was showing signs of weakness and lack of nursing. Veterinarians examined the first-time mother and discovered the lactation problem. Zoo staffers care for the baby round-the-clock — sometimes in front of the other orangutans so they can get to know him. A zoo statement says the others appear most interested when the baby is fed or his diapers are changed. More >>

Authorities say investigators are working to determine whether some small bone fragments found during the search for a 91-year-old woman who tried to save her dogs from a wildfire in suburban Denver could belong to her. The Boulder County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that scientific testing is underway to determine if the fragments are human as part of the search for Edna Nadine Turnbull. The process can take weeks or months. The sheriff's office said Turnbull entered her home to try to save her dogs after being told she needed to evacuate. She has not been seen again. Last month's wildfire destroyed over 1,000 homes and buildings. More >>

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is slamming how fellow Republicans are handling an impeachment probe of the state’s attorney general for his role in a fatal car crash. Noem told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a South Dakota House investigative committee is "attacking the integrity of our law enforcement officers,” adding that it was an “inappropriate” and “tragic” use of the committee’s attention. Noem's comments expose a political divide among the Republicans who control state government. Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg struck and killed a man walking along a highway in 2020. The House investigative committee is sifting through the crash investigation as it weighs whether he should face impeachment charges. More >>

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A state court trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd has been rescheduled for June 13, after both the defense and prosecutors requested a postponement. Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao face charges of aiding and abetting both murder and manslaughter. Their trial was supposed to start March 7, but both sides sought a delay because the three officers are about to begin a federal trial on allegations that they violated Floyd’s civil rights while acting under government authority. Their federal trial starts Thursday with jury selection. Their former colleague, Derek Chauvin, was already convicted of state murder and manslaughter and has pleaded guilty to a federal charge. More >>

A financial payout for more than 1,000 people — mostly men — who say they were sexually assaulted by former University of Michigan sports doctor Robert Anderson is the latest multimillion settlement involving schools faced with sexual misconduct scandals. The $490 million settlement announced Wednesday by the Ann Arbor school is just $10 million shy of the $500 million Michigan State University agreed in 2018 to pay to sexual assault victims of it’s own sport doctor, Larry Nassar. More >>

Stacey Abrams has used a campaign stop in Atlanta to applaud the push for voting rights in Congress and express support for President Joe Biden. Abrams was noticeably absent from Biden’s visit last week to Atlanta, where he called for an end to the filibuster to pass voting legislation. Abrams said Wednesday that she was a proud Democrat and "President Joe Biden is my president.” She took questions from the media at the headquarters of the Georgia AFL-CIO union, which announced that it was endorsing her for Georgia governor. Abrams also said she was proud of the work that was going to happen on Capitol Hill to keep the focus on voting rights.  More >>

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Authorities say a wildfire in a central Texas state park is no longer growing and no injuries were reported after the blaze burned 1.2 square miles in the city of Bastrop. Texas A&M Forest Service spokesperson Kari Hines said Wednesday that no homes have been reported destroyed, some families have returned to their homes and warmer conditions with lower winds and higher humidity will help firefighters on Wednesday. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Director Carter Smith says the cause of the fire has not been determined, but embers from a prescribed burn at Bastrop State Park is suspected. More >>

Three former Minneapolis officers headed to a federal trial on civil rights charges this week in the death of George Floyd aren’t as familiar to most people as Derek Chauvin, a fellow officer who was convicted of murder last spring. Thomas Lane and J. Kueng were the first officers to respond to a report that Floyd had tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill, and they helped Chauvin restrain Floyd. Lane and Kueng were rookies just a few days into their jobs as full-fledged officers. Tou Thao was the second-most senior officer on the scene after Chauvin. He held back a group of bystanders shouting at the officers to get off Floyd.  More >>

Five philanthropies have announced plans to spend more than $20 million to bolster news coverage in Houston, Texas, and create what they say will be one of the largest local nonprofit news organizations in the country. The donors said Wednesday in a news release that the newsroom is anticipated to launch later this year or early 2023 on multiple platforms. The goal is to “elevate the voices of Houstonians” and address information needs identified through focus groups, community listening sessions and multi-language surveys conducted with local residents. The donors include the Houston Endowment, the Kinder Foundation and Arnold Ventures.  More >>

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The French Senate has voted in favor of banning the wearing of headscarves in sports competitions after arguing that neutrality is a requirement on the field of play. The French upper legislative house voted in favor of amending a proposed law on stipulating that the wearing “of conspicuous religious symbols is prohibited” to take part in events and competitions organized by sports federations. It is unclear whether the ban would be implemented for the 2024 Paris Olympics. A commission composed of members from the Senate and the lower house is now expected to gather to find a compromise on the text before it is published. More >>

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Craig, a small town in northwest Colorado is losing its coal plant, and residents fear it is the beginning of the end for their community. The same scenario is playing out in other small towns across the U.S. After decades of relying on coal for their workforce, tax base and way of life, the towns face uncertain futures as new state and national legislation forces the retirement of fossil fuels because of the worsening effects of human-caused climate change. The impact spreads beyond the plants workers and is felt by the rest of the community, too. More >>

A former Detroit City Council member who quit after pleading guilty to a bribery scheme has been sentenced to two years in prison. Andre Spivey acknowledged “very poor choices” in accepting $36,000 but still had hoped to get probation. His prison sentence is far below the 40 months recommended by federal prosecutors. Spivey pleaded guilty to conspiracy, admitting that he and an aide accepted bribes related to oversight of towing. Defense attorney Elliott Hall says Spivey’s influence “never ripened” into actual action at the City Council. But federal Judge Victoria Roberts says the crime was completed when Spivey took the cash. More >>

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Microsoft stunned the gaming industry when it announced this week it would buy game publisher Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, a deal that would immediately make it a larger video-game company than Nintendo. Microsoft, maker of the Xbox gaming system, said the deal would be good for gamers and advance its ambitions for the metaverse — a vision for creating immersive virtual worlds for both work and play. But how will the deal affect for the millions of people who play video games?? And will it actually happen at a time of increased government scrutiny over giant mergers in the U.S. and elsewhere? More >>

Construction of new homes in the U.S. rose for the third consecutive month in December and data released Wednesday suggests that the frantic pace of building will continue this year. The December increase left home construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.70 million units, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Applications for building permits, which can forecast future activity, rose a whopping 9.1% to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 1.87 million units. Both starts and permits topped expectations. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting 1.65 million starts and 1.70 million permit applications. applications. More >>

Ford is recalling about 200,000 cars in the U.S. to fix a problem that can stop the brake lights from turning off. The recall covers certain 2014 and 2015 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ midsize cars as well as some 2015 Mustangs. All were sold or registered in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Hawaii. High temperatures and humidity can cause a rubber brake pedal part to disintegrate, keeping the lights on, confusing other drivers and increasing the risk of a crash. Drivers with automatic transmissions also can shift out of “park” gear without having their foot on the brake. Dealers will replace brake and clutch pedal bumpers. Owners will be notified by mail starting March 3. More >>