• Zika virus has phones ringing at pest control, travel firms

    Updated: 54 min ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — Some small U.S. companies are getting an influx in calls — and in some cases, unexpected business— due to fears about the Zika virus. The virus often produces either no symptoms or mild ones like fever in adults, but an outbreak in Brazil has been linked to a rare birth defect that causes a newborn's heads to be smaller and brain development issues. Outbreaks also have been reported in parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas. Pest control companies in Texas are getting a surge in business because of concerns that mosquitoes bearing the Zika virus will arrive from neighboring Mexico. The companies are already spraying homes, schools and other properties; usually they don't s

  • New York City Council speaker seeks criminal justice reforms

    Updated: 56 min ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is calling for criminal justice reforms that could include the eventual closure of the massive Rikers Island jail. The comments are part of her annual State of the City address on Thursday. The 400-acre island in the East River houses most of the city's 10,000 inmates. It has been plagued by violence, and many activists have called for it to be shuttered. Mark-Viverito says she wants to grant amnesty for more than 700,000 outstanding warrants for low-level offenses that clog the criminal justice system. She also is announcing the creation of a commission to study a system to open jail facilities in the boroughs, allowing Rikers to close.

  • The Latest: Fracking tax not on legislative leaders' agenda

    Updated: 57 min ago

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Latest from a forum for journalists organized by The Associated Press (all times local): ___ 12:05 p.m. Republican and Democratic leaders of the state legislature say now is the not the time to change Ohio's tax on oil and gas drillers, saying it could be problematic to the industry. A severance tax increase has been a priority of Republican Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) for years. He contends the tax is too low, and he's wanted to use proceeds of a tax hike on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to help cut the state's income-tax rate. Speaking Thursday at a forum in Columbus hosted by The Associated Press, Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said his chamber would not be tak

  • Rubio eyes brokered convention after NH setback

    Updated: 59 min ago

    OKATIE, S.C. (AP) — The best hope of the Republican establishment just a week ago, Marco Rubio suddenly faces a path to his party's presidential nomination that could require a brokered national convention. That's according to Rubio's campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, who told The Associated Press that this week's disappointing performance in New Hampshire will extend the Republican nomination fight for another three months, if not longer. It's a worst-case scenario for Rubio and many Republican officials alike who hoped to avoid a prolonged and painful nomination fight in 2016. "We very easily could be looking at May — or the convention," Sullivan said as Rubio's charter jet traveled from New Hampshire to South Carolina

  • Family awarded $53M in Kyle Field deadly demolition accident

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    HOUSTON (AP) — Relatives of a demolition worker have been awarded $53 million over his 2013 death after he fell four stories during renovation of Texas A&M's Kyle Field. Jurors in Houston on Wednesday decided on damages in the negligence lawsuit filed on behalf of Angel Garcia's mother and two children. Garcia was working for Lindamood Demolition Inc. of Irving in December 2013 when a section of concrete fell onto the equipment he was operating. Manhattan-Vaughn, a joint venture partnership between Oklahoma-based Manhattan Construction Co. and Houston-based Vaughn Construction Co., provided management services for the project. The demolition company was found 25 percent liable. Manhattan-Vaughn was determined to be 75

  • A look at what's next for the major players in Syria's war

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    The U.S., Russia and more than a dozen other countries are meeting Thursday in Munich to discuss ways of ending the civil war in Syria, while forces of President Bashar Assad are making some of their biggest gains against the opposition. The fighting around Syria's largest city of Aleppo has brought government forces closer to the Turkish border than at any point in recent years, routing rebels from key areas and creating a humanitarian disaster as tens of thousands of people flee. Because Aleppo has been an important stronghold for the rebels, the government advance is potentially one of the most significant shifts in the conflict.

  • Magazine publisher Time Inc. buys what's left of MySpace

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — MySpace still exists? It does, and the company that owns the once-ubiquitous social network is being bought by Time Inc. to help the magazine publisher target ads. Parent company, Viant, says it can give marketers access to more than 1.2 billion users. MySpace peaked in 2008 with some 76 million U.S. visitors before losing ground to Facebook. News Corp. sold the company to Justin Timberlake and other investors in 2011 for $35 million. Today, it is an entertainment-focused site that plays music videos and songs. Time Inc. will not say what it paid. The publisher of People, Sports Illustrated and Time was spun off from entertainment company Time Warner in 2014.

  • APNewsBreak: Report says EPA knew mine spill was possible

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    DENVER (AP) — A U.S. House probe of a mine waste accident in Colorado that fouled rivers in three Western states has found further evidence that government workers knew a spill from the gold mine was possible. A U.S. Environmental Protection agency official in charge of the site at the time of the August accident said in an email that he "personally knew" the plugged, inactive mine could contain large volumes of water. The email from Hays Griswold was provided to The Associated Press by the House Natural Resources Committee. An EPA cleanup crew triggered the spill during excavation work at the mine's entrance, unleashing a 3-million-gallon deluge that contaminated rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

  • What a recession does to your money

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — If we are indeed in the midst of a recession — and we won't know we're in one until well after it's begun — stocks likely still have a long way to go down. The Standard & Poor's 500 index has dropped 14 percent since peaking last summer, and it joined markets around the world in another steep slide on Thursday. Worries are high that the sharp slowdown in China's growth, falling U.S. corporate profits and other downward pressures will pull the economy back into a recession. If a garden-variety one is on the way, the stock market's drop isn't even halfway done. Stocks have lost an average of 33 percent from top to bottom around past recessions, going back to 1929, according to a review by strategists

  • 5 indicted in 2015 New York City gas explosion that killed 2

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — A building owner and four others have been indicted on charges that include manslaughter in connection with a gas explosion last year that killed two people and leveled three New York City buildings. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and other officials said Thursday that the charges also include criminally negligent homicide and assault. They say the defendants set up an illegal gas delivery system. Vance says the carnage was caused by "a foreseeable, preventable and completely avoidable gas explosion." The March 2015 explosion injured 22 people and killed restaurant worker Moises Ismael Locon Yac (moy-SEHS' ihs-MY'-ehl loh-KOHN' yak) and diner Nicholas Figueroa.

  • Illinois coal mine owner seeks expansion as fire lingers

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    HILLSBORO, Ill. (AP) — The owner of a central Illinois coal mine where an underground fire has smoldered for nearly a year is asking state regulators to approve an expansion that some local residents fear could jeopardize public health and cause environmental damage. Foresight Energy ceased production at its Deer Run Mine in early January near Hillsboro after what it calls a "combustion event" that's elevated carbon monoxide levels below ground. The St. Louis-based company responded by cutting 100 jobs. The mine owner wants the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to approve a 7,731-acre expansion into areas unaffected by the fire. A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

  • Yellen: Too early to determine impact of global developments

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is cautioning that global economic developments have created risks for the U.S. economy but says it's too early to know whether those risks are severe enough to alter the course of the Fed's interest-rate policies. Yellen says the Fed will determine at its next meeting in March how much economic weakness and falling markets around the world have hamstrung U.S. growth. The Fed chair is also acknowledging that the central bank was surprised by how much energy prices have dropped and the U.S. dollar has risen in value. Yellen's comments came on the second day of her semiannual testimony to Congress. On Wednesday, she cautioned that global pressures could depress the U.

  • Police: Cop killed wife, son, torched home then shot himself

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    COLONIE, N.Y. (AP) — Authorities say a police officer with no prior history of domestic violence fatally shot his wife and son and set the family's suburban Albany house on fire before killing himself. Police revealed details Thursday about 44-year-old Israel Roman's actions at his home on Tuesday in Colonie, where he served the past 12 years on the police force. State police say Roman used his service handgun to kill his wife, Deborah, 44, and their 10-year-old son, Nathan. Police say they believe Roman placed their bodies on the bed in the master bedroom, started a fire and shot himself. Firefighters responding to the home discovered the bodies.

  • The Latest: Occupiers say they're preparing to surrender

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The Latest on the standoff at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon (all times local): 8:35 a.m. The last four armed occupiers of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon say they're getting ready to turn themselves in after FBI agents came to the federal property and surrounded them. Occupier Sean Anderson sounded nervous as preparations got underway Thursday to surrender at a checkpoint. They are the last remnants of the group that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2, demanding the federal government turn over public lands to local control. Anderson said that if the FBI double-crosses them, "all deals are off." But he says they still planned to surrender.

  • Average US rate on 30-year mortgage falls to 3.65 percent

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week for the sixth straight week as markets around the globe continued the whipsaw trading that has marked this year so far. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 3.65 percent this week, down from 3.72 percent last week and close to its low point last year of 3.59 percent. The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage eased to 2.95 percent from 3.01 percent last week. Mortgage rates have continued to fall despite the Federal Reserve's decision in December to raise the short-term rate it controls for the first time since 2006. Global economic worries and the turmoil in world stock

  • Woven of dignity: Black seamstress' legacy on display

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — For generations, any woman who owned a dress made by Willie Otey Kay owned an heirloom, a coveted gem, a treasure beyond price. Throughout much of the 20th century in North Carolina, the black seamstress worked in silk, satin and lace to design original wedding and debutante gowns worn by wealthy white women and by Kay's black neighbors, too. Mothers handed them down to daughters, sometimes bringing them back for Kay to modify — such as a debutante dress that later became a bridal gown. But white or black, even in the years of Jim Crow racial oppression, you could only be a client of the gifted seamstress if she accepted you. Yet her legacy is not solely woven of needle and thread.

  • Latest: Police: Suspect in shooting of Fargo cop found dead

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The latest on a standoff in Fargo, North Dakota, that has left a police officer with life-threatening injuries (all times local): 7:50 a.m. Police say a suspect in the shooting of a North Dakota police officer has been found shot to death in the home where he barricaded himself for about 11 hours. The injured officer, Jason Moszer, is not expected to survive. Police Chief David Todd says a SWAT team entered the Fargo home shortly before dawn Thursday and found the man's body. Todd says he doesn't know if the suspect was hit in an earlier exchange of gunfire with a SWAT officer or if he shot himself. Police have not released the suspect's name. The standoff began Wednesday evening followi

  • Low snow causes havoc again with Iditarod

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    WASILLA, Alaska (AP) — Another low snow year in Alaska is playing havoc with the world's most famous sled dog race, at least for the start. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race always begins with a ceremonial, fan-friendly slow jaunt through the streets and trails of Anchorage, held a day before the start of the competitive portion of the nearly-thousand mile race. A lack of snow last year north of Anchorage forced the race from the normal start in Willow, about 75 miles north of Anchorage, further north to Fairbanks. The conditions in Willow are much improved this year, but the problem is in Anchorage, where the snowfall in the city for the last two years has equaled only about two-thirds of a normal year.

  • Panel advances bill to require ultrasounds before abortions

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers have advanced a bill that would require doctors to perform ultrasounds prior to abortions and to describe what is seen to the pregnant woman. The measure cleared the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee on Thursday. The committee action is the latest effort by abortion opponents to impose conditions prior to abortions. Democratic Sen. Julian M. Carroll defended the ultrasound bill as a way to give women more information before the decision to have an abortion. The bill was opposed by Dr. Sarah Wallett, an obstetrician/gynecologist. She said it would violate the doctor-patient relationship with a government mandate.

  • Missouri professor calls her protest actions embarrassing

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A suspended University of Missouri assistant professor says she's embarrassed about her run-ins with student journalists during race-related student protests in November. Melissa Click called for "some muscle" to remove a student videographer from the protest area on the Columbia campus. The confrontation was caught on video. Click tells KMIZ-TV (http://bit.ly/1PlyW7B ) she felt compelled to confront him, citing a lack of campus police. She calls the run-in "a hectic and flustering moment," and says she wasn't calling for violence. Click claims the videographer never identified himself as a student or a journalist. But in the video that went viral, the student says he's with the media as he approa