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Huffington Wires | AP

Agents target industry helping Chinese women have US babies

March 3, 2015 01:03 PM EST | AP

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Federal agents searched more than a dozen homes Tuesday in a crackdown on so-called maternity tourism operators who arrange for pregnant Chinese women to give birth in the U.S., where their babies automatically become American citizens.

The crackdown on three alleged maternity tourism rings may be the biggest yet by federal homeland security agents who say that, while pregnant women may travel to the United States, they cannot lie about the purpose of their trip when applying for a visa.

Ferguson officials to meet with Justice Department

March 3, 2015 10:40 AM EST | AP

ST. LOUIS (AP) — City leaders in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson will meet Tuesday with U.S. Department of Justice officials to discuss a federal investigation of the police department stemming from the August shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old by a white police officer.

A person in Ferguson city government with knowledge of the meeting confirmed it was happening but would not say where or when. The person was not authorized to release the information and asked not to be identified.

Students return to class after California teacher's suicide

March 3, 2015 04:40 PM EST | AP

PLACENTIA, Calif. (AP) — Students at the Southern California high school where a popular photography teacher hung herself returned to class Tuesday, trying to process the confusion and grief over her death.

As classes began, a school administrator used a loudspeaker Tuesday to tell students they would all miss Jillian Jacobson and must stay united. Later, teachers spoke with students and counselors were available in the school's theater.

Islamic State plot suspect to be transferred from Fla. to NY

March 3, 2015 06:32 PM EST | AP

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — One of three men arrested on charges of plotting to help the Islamic State group wage war against the U.S. was ordered transferred from Florida to New York on Tuesday.

A federal judge in Jacksonville ordered Abror Habibov's transfer during a detention hearing. He is scheduled to be in New York by March 11.

NY considers treating charged 16, 17-year-olds as juveniles

March 3, 2015 06:32 PM EST | AP

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Jim Saint Germain was mixed up with drugs and just shy of 16 when he was arrested and sent to a juvenile facility. Things might have been different had he been a year older and tried as an adult.

"I could've been in Attica. In Sing Sing. I would have been sent to Rikers Island. Instead I was given a chance," said Saint Germain, who is now pursuing a master's degree at New York University. "It saved my life."

Voters reject ATV use in longest debate since $1 cat-fee

March 3, 2015 06:22 PM EST | AP

GROTON, Vt. (AP) — Voters in the Vermont town of Groton have rejected a proposal to allow the use of all-terrain vehicles on some town roads in what the moderator says is the rural community's longest Town Meeting Day debate since it discussed a $1 fee for registering cats in 1999.

Town Constable Jim Downing, who enjoys riding an ATV with his wife, proposed opening up some roads to link up to ATV trails in neighboring communities.

City, contractor questioned at NYC jail health care hearing

March 3, 2015 06:08 PM EST | AP

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City lawmaker said at a hearing Tuesday that he didn't have confidence in the leadership of the private health provider awarded a $126 million contract to administer health care at the Rikers Island jail complex.

Health Committee Chairman Corey Johnson, at times incensed, repeatedly cited a report by The Associated Press last year that raised serious questions about the medical care inmates received in at least 15 deaths since 2009. Those cases included inmates who were denied medication, improperly assessed or not treated in a timely manner.

Facing scrutiny on sex assault, college asks feds for review

March 3, 2015 06:03 PM EST | AP

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Facing scrutiny over its practices for responding to sexual assault, a liberal arts college in Iowa has taken the unusual step of asking federal investigators to review whether three cases were handled appropriately.

Grinnell College President Raynard S. Kington asked the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to determine whether the college complied with Title IX, the federal law that bars sex discrimination in education.

Idaho Senate opens with Hindu prayer, 3 lawmakers protest

March 3, 2015 03:11 PM EST | AP

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Three lawmakers refused to attend the Idaho Senate's daily invocation after objecting to the offering of a Hindu prayer.

Rajan Zed, guest chaplain, gave a lengthy prayer in both English and Sanskrit on Tuesday that focused on selflessness and peace. Senators from both sides of the aisle shook his hand and thanked him for coming.

Congress sends Homeland bill to Obama without conditions

March 3, 2015 04:37 PM EST | AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bitterly admitting defeat, the Republican-controlled Congress sent legislation to President Barack Obama on Tuesday that funds the Department of Homeland Security without any of the immigration-related concessions they demanded for months.

"Sanity is prevailing," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, before the House voted 257-167 in favor of the $40 billion spending bill, which Obama was expected to sign promptly. All 182 Democrats present voted for the bill, while it received only 75 Republican "yes" votes.

Lawyers questioning potential jurors in girl's running death

March 3, 2015 05:51 PM EST | AP

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — Attorneys questioned potential jurors on their beliefs about physical punishment Tuesday in the capital murder trial of an Alabama woman accused of making her 9-year-old granddaughter run until she died.

Some would-be jurors are former high school football players who described being forced to run as punishment during practice, and all said they benefited from the exertion and the discipline it instilled.

Lawmakers taking another crack at expanding gun checks

March 3, 2015 05:42 PM EST | AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is returning to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to help kick-start a longshot campaign to expand criminal background checks to all commercial firearms sales.

Similar legislation that sought to expand background checks failed to get a hearing in the House last session. With the GOP expanding its majority and winning control of the Senate, prospects for the bill may be even more unlikely this session.

Clinton used personal email account as Secretary of State

March 3, 2015 01:33 PM EST | AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton used a personal email account during her time as secretary of state, rather than a government-issued email address, potentially hampering efforts to archive official government documents required by law.

Clinton's office said nothing was illegal or improper about her use of the non-government account and that she believed her business emails to State Department and other .gov accounts would be archived in accordance with government rules.

Fire Department of New York gets 1st female, gay chaplain

March 3, 2015 05:32 PM EST | AP

NEW YORK (AP) — The Fire Department of New York has sworn in its first female and first openly gay chaplain.

The Rev. Ann Kansfield was sworn in on Tuesday. She is the department's eighth chaplain. Six others are Christian and one is Jewish.

Pentagon calls Mosul briefing a mistake by CentCom

March 3, 2015 05:23 PM EST | AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Pentagon officials say U.S. Central Command was wrong to have briefed reporters on plans for an Iraqi-led ground offensive in Mosul.

They also say the commander of U.S. Central Command is investigating and will take some action.

Lawyer: Jury at impasse in Arias case; judge says keep going

March 3, 2015 05:23 PM EST | AP

PHOENIX (AP) — A judge on Tuesday ordered jurors in the Jodi Arias case to keep deliberating after her lawyers said the panel had reached an impasse on whether to sentence her to death or life in prison for killing her lover in 2008.

Arias, now 34, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2013 after a lengthy trial that became a sensation with its tawdry revelations about her relationship with victim Travis Alexander. That jury deadlocked on her punishment.

Blizzard conditions hit parts of Upper Midwest

March 3, 2015 01:07 PM EST | AP

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Residents across the Upper Midwest got some of the winter they had so far missed on Tuesday, as snow and high winds made travel treacherous in some areas.

A blizzard warning was out for parts of Minnesota and South Dakota, where winds gusting up to 50 mph were expected to stir up the new of 2 to 6 inches of snowfall.

4 hurt, 10 briefly escaped in riot at Nevada juvenile camp

March 3, 2015 04:38 PM EST | AP

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a riot at a juvenile rehabilitation camp in rural western Nevada where two buildings were set on fire, four staff members hurt and 10 youths briefly escaped before they were recaptured over the weekend.

No one was seriously injured, but one staff member at the Rite of Passage Silver State Academy in Yerington had to be treated at a local hospital after Saturday night's incident, Lyon County Sheriff Al McNeil said Tuesday.

Islamic State plot suspect to be transferred from Fla. to NY

March 3, 2015 05:20 PM EST | AP

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — One of three men arrested on charges of plotting to help the Islamic State group wage war against the U.S. is being moved from Florida to New York.

A federal judge in Jacksonville ordered Abror Habibov's transfer during a detention hearing Tuesday. He is scheduled to be in New York by March 11.

Drew Peterson pleads not guilty in murder-for-hire plot

March 3, 2015 12:28 PM EST | AP

CHESTER, Ill. (AP) — A former suburban Chicago police officer convicted of killing his third wife and suspected in his fourth wife's disappearance has pleaded not guilty to trying to hire someone to kill the prosecutor who helped put him in prison.

Drew Peterson entered the plea Tuesday in a southern Illinois courtroom with his feet shackled. He also waived a preliminary hearing.

Ex-CIA chief admits sharing military secrets with mistress

March 3, 2015 05:13 PM EST | AP

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Former CIA Director David Petraeus, whose career was destroyed by an affair with his biographer, has agreed to plead guilty to charges he gave her classified material — including war strategy and the names of covert operatives — while she was working on the book.

The plea agreement carries a possible sentence of up to a year in prison and represents another blow to the reputation of the retired four-star Army general who led U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and was perhaps the most admired military leader of his generation.

Civil rights landmark bridge is named for reputed KKK leader

March 3, 2015 05:41 PM EST | AP

SELMA, Ala. (AP) — When the nation's first black president steps onto the Edmund Pettus Bridge to honor the marchers beaten there 50 years ago, he'll be standing on a structure that's at once synonymous with the civil rights struggle and a tribute to a reputed Ku Klux Klan leader.

The latter fact had all but faded from local memory until recently, when a Selma student group launched an online petition to rename the landmark bridge.

US first lady plans mid-March visit to Japan, Cambodia

March 3, 2015 10:03 AM EST | AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama will promote educating girls around the world during a mid-March visit to U.S. ally Japan, and to Cambodia, a place where the government's record on human rights gave her husband pause during a reluctant visit a few years ago.

She will visit Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, from March 18-20 and Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia from March 21-22, the White House said Tuesday.