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    Walmart joins forces with Google on voice-activated shopping

    NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is diving into voice-activated shopping. But unlike online leader Amazon, it’s not doing it alone. Walmart is working with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items for voice shopping through Google Assistant. The move illustrates how serious Walmart is about being competitive in an area dominated by Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo devices.

    ___ Trump bashes NAFTA in midst of talks to revamp trade deal WASHINGTON (AP) — Just a week into talks to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement, President Donald Trump is already threatening to abandon the 23-year-old pact with Canada and Mexico. At a high-profile campaign-style rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night, Trump predicted […]
  • State says loan company mismanaged debt-forgiveness program

    BOSTON (AP) — One of the nation’s largest student-loan companies is accused of mismanaging programs that offer debt forgiveness to public servants.

    A lawsuit filed Wednesday by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says problems at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency have caused financial harm to many teachers and other public servants.

    The agency oversees a federal program that forgives remaining student loans for public servants after they make 120 qualifying monthly payments. Healey says processing delays at the agency have prevented borrowers from making payments and set them back on their path toward forgiveness.

    The lawsuit also says a problem in the billing system overcharged tens of thousands of students nationwide. A statement from the agency says it “does not agree with the allegations” but is committed to resolving any problems. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • The Latest: Venezuela is a dictatorship, exiles tell Pence

    DORAL, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence’s visit in South Florida to meet with Venezuelan exiles. (all times local):

    5:20 p.m.

    Vice President Mike Pence has met with 15 Venezuelan exiles in South Florida who told him more help is needed to restore democracy in the socialist regime.

    Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart joined Pence in listening to testimonies of established leaders of the Venezuelan diaspora and recently exiles politicians and judges.

    Ramon Muchacho was the mayor of the municipality of Chacao since 2013 but fled in July saying he was being persecuted by the government. He told Pence that Venezuela is a dictatorship. “There is no way to get out of it by democratic means,” Muchacho said, pleading for more help from Latin America, the U.S. […]
  • Man wanted in fatal South Carolina bank holdup arrested

    GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina police chief says officers have arrested a man wanted in the deaths of two South Carolina bank branch workers.

    Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman told local news outlets Wednesday the department received a 911 call that someone had seen 32-year-old Brandon Council near a restaurant on the city’s south side.

    Holtzman said an officer followed a vehicle to a motel, where Council got out and ran before he was captured. Two others who were with the suspect also were detained.

    Horry County, South Carolina, Solicitor Jimmy Richardson told a news conference that Council faces multiple charges, including two counts of murder and armed robbery. Police said 36-year-old Kathryn Davis Skeen and 59-year-old Donna Major, employees at the Cres Com Bank in Conway, were killed in Monday’s robbery. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. […]
  • Former detective pleads guilty in tax-refund scheme

    TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A former Tampa police detective faces up to 10 years in prison for her part in a tax-refund scheme.

    A U.S. attorney’s office news release says 51-year-old LaJoyce Houston pleaded guilty Wednesday to receiving stolen government property. A sentencing date hasn’t been set.

    Authorities say Houston received goods, services, money orders and cash from debit cards loaded with fraudulently obtained tax refunds in 2011 and 2012. The accounts connected to these debit cards contained more than $284,000 in fraudulent refunds. Payments to Houston came from Rita Girven, who was sentenced in 2015 to 12 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

    Houston’s husband, former Tampa detective Eric Houston, pleaded guilty to receiving stolen government property in March. His sentencing is set for Oct. 25. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Judge allows money laundering charges against Backpage execs

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California judge is allowing money laundering charges against the creators of a website that prosecutors have labeled an online brothel.

    Prosecutors filed the new charges against chief executive Carl Ferrer and website founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin this spring.

    Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Larry Brown on Wednesday dismissed pimping conspiracy and other allegations against’s operators.

    But he allowed prosecutors to move forward with money laundering charges. Prosecutors allege Backpage’s operators illegally funneled money through multiple companies and created websites to get around banks that refused to process their transactions. Brown ruled the other charges are barred by a federal law protecting free speech that grants immunity to websites posting content […]
  • Georgia truck driver gets prison in 2015 crash that killed 5

    SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia truck driver has been sentenced to prison in a 2015 highway collision that killed five people after the trucker fell asleep at the wheel.

    A State Court judge in Savannah sentenced 61-year-old David Jerald Gibbons of neighboring Pooler to two years in prison and three years on probation. The Savannah Morning News reports Gibbins was convicted Tuesday of misdemeanor vehicular homicide and other counts.

    Prosecutors said Gibbons was driving a tractor trailer on Interstate 16 when he fell asleep and slammed into vehicles stopped in a work zone on May 19, 2015. The crash killed 72-year-old Glenda Faye Adams and 71-year-old Jerry Wayne Earnest of Cohutta; 16-year-old Brittanie Denise Altman of Claxton; 39-year-old Wendy Melton of Reidsville; and 19-year-old […]
  • Man accused of filming teen’s suicide hears murder evidence

    PROVO, Utah (AP) — A Utah man charged with murder after prosecutors say he filmed a teenage girl killing herself using a rope he bought for her went before a judge on Wednesday to decide if he’ll be tried on a murder charge.

    Prosecutors played cellphone video they say Tyerell Joe Przybycien, 18, made starting just before the death and continuing for several minutes after the girl hanged herself. A voice can be heard on the video occasionally calling out to the girl and getting no response.

    After the 16-year-old girl’s body was found by a hunter the following morning of May 6, Przybycien walked up to Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Chappell in tears. He said he’d picked the girl up at her fast-food job and drove her to the canyon where she killed herself. The sergeant originally thought Przybycien was […]
  • The Latest: Lawmakers debate ability to question regulators

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the abandonment of a nuclear power project in South Carolina (all times local):

    5 p.m.

    Legislators ended a hearing on the failure of a nuclear power project in South Carolina debating whether they could legally ask state regulators about their role in the debacle.

    A House panel adjourned Wednesday after House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford argued the law legislators passed in 2007 to encourage nuclear construction bars the regulators from discussing rulings that may impact future decisions.

    The Public Service Commission approved in 2009 SCE&G’s application to expand V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, as well as all nine of the utility’s rate hikes since then. SCE&G wants the same regulators to allow them to recoup billions more from customers. The panel heard earlier Wednesday the decade-old law continually put the utility’s interests above […]
  • Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, left, speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, in Chicago. The superintendent who disclosed in January after suffering a public dizzy spell that he's on a waiting list for a kidney transplant told reporters on Wednesday that, his son, 25-year-old Daniel Johnson, would be the donor of the kidney. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

    Chicago Police Superintendent getting new kidney from son

    CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is poised to receive a new kidney — from his son.

    The superintendent who disclosed in January after suffering a public dizzy spell that he’s on a waiting list for a kidney transplant told reporters on Wednesday that 25-year-old Daniel Johnson would be the donor of the kidney.

    Johnson, who met with reporters to announce that his officers have seized nearly 6,000 illegal guns so far this year, expressed pride in his son when he was asked about the transplant and his son’s decision to donate one of his kidneys to his father.

    “It’s not something that I asked him to do, he chose to do this for me,” said Johnson, who has battled for decades a potentially life threatening inflammation of the kidneys called glomerulonephritis. “It’s a wonderful thing when you can actually see your son grow into the man that you can be proud of.” Johnson […]
  • The newly refreshed Oval Office of the White House is seen in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, during a media tour. New wallpaper was hung and the floors were refinished this month as part of a series of updates to the West Wing.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

    West Wing update includes new paint, carpet and eagles

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The West Wing has fresh paint on the walls, new carpet underfoot, cool, crisp air and more than a few new eagle decorations.

    The White House renovations took place while President Donald Trump was on his “working vacation” this month. Updates included replacing the 27-year-old heating and cooling system, refreshing the paint and carpets throughout offices and meeting rooms and hanging Trump-approved wallpaper in the Oval Office.

    The goal was to enhance the space for staff and the public, said John Botello, an interior designer and preservation specialist for the Executive Office of the President. He said they wanted to keep in mind “the American people and when they tour.” Most of the work was done during Trump’s 17-day break from the […]
  • Man, 35, turns down plea deal calling for 70 years in prison

    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man charged with killing three people in 2008 has turned down a plea deal that called for a 70-year prison sentence.

    The Hartford Courant reports 35-year-old Harold Patterson on Wednesday opted to instead face a jury. Patterson faces up to 180 years behind bars if convicted. A trial date has not been scheduled.

    Prosecutors allege Patterson fatally shot Raymond “Flip” Hite in June 2008 and used the same gun to kill Lamar Gresham and Carlos Ortiz in a drive-by shooting two months later.

    An arrest warrant says a forensics lab connected shell casings found after Hite’s death to those found at the scene of the drive-by shooting. Patterson has pleaded not guilty to the homicides. His lawyer has said he denies any involvement in the deaths. ___ Information from: Hartford Courant, Copyright © The Associated Press. All […]
  • A road sign at the U.S. Naval Academy as photographed on Aug. 23, 2017 in Annapolis, Maryland, is named after Franklin Buchanan, the academy's first superintendent who left the U.S. Navy to join the Confederate Navy at the outbreak of the Civil War. A bill in Congress would require the Pentagon to change the name of any property that honors individuals who fought for or supported the Confederacy. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

    Confederate names at Naval Academy could face rough seas

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — At the U.S. Naval Academy, where the names of the nation’s military heroes adorn many buildings, two structures honor the memory of American naval officers who fought against the United States of America.

    The Naval Academy superintendent’s stately home, which hosts thousands of visitors every year, and a building that houses the academy’s division of Weapons and Systems Engineering are both named for Confederates who took up arms against the U.S. in the Civil War.

    They would have to be renamed under a measure now pending in Congress, as would a barracks named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. Separately, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, both Democrats, have asked the secretary of the Army to rename the […]
  • FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2014 file photo, a group of people on rental bicycles ride past Crissy Field toward the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Federal authorities have approved a politically conservative group's application to hold a rally at Crissy Field in San Francisco on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. But the National Park Service has banned guns, tiki torches and other weapons. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

    Parks Service issues permit for San Francisco rally

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal authorities on Wednesday issued a permit to a politically conservative group for a Saturday afternoon rally in San Francisco that local officials fear could turn violent.

    The National Park Service had earlier told Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson that he had permission for the event, but withheld issuing the permit until the group agreed to several conditions, which include banning guns, tiki torches and other items that can be turned into weapons.

    The park service said denying Patriot Prayer a permit would violate the organization’s free speech rights. San Francisco’s mayor, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi were among the Democratic politicians who had called on the federal agency to reject the permit. Mayor Ed Lee said Wednesday he was “disappointed” with the park […]
  • Woman says stranger’s ashes in father’s urn, sues for $2.5M

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A woman is suing an Oregon cremation company for $2.5 million, claiming it gave her the remains of a stranger instead of her deceased father.

    Kimberly Grecco, 53, discovered the remains were her not her father’s as she prepared to spread the ashes on Father’s Day last year, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported ( ) Tuesday.

    Grecco, of Portland, said she opened the box from Crown Memorial Center and found a tag indicating the remains belonged to someone else, according to the lawsuit.

    She is suing Cascade Funeral Directors Inc., which does business as Crown Memorial Center as well as Cascade Cremation Center, and its president, Randy Tjaden. “People might think it’s just some ashes,” Grecco said. “But that’s my daddy. That’s my father.” The company previously assumed responsibility for the blunder and was reprimanded by a state […]