Police investigating incident at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Police remain mum about what exactly happened at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. Palm Beach police spokesman Michael Ogrodnick would only say in a a Wednesday email that “there is an open investigation.” The president is not at the club nor is any member of his immediate family believed to be there, but they are expected to arrive for the weekend and spend the holidays there. Two trespassers have been arrested at the club in the past 13 months. One was a U.S. college student; the other, a Chinese businesswoman.
Florida mom fueled by holiday cheer hugs stranger, gets $20k
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A Florida woman caught up in what she calls the magic of Christmas, accidentally hugged a stranger at gas station parking lot and now the video is going viral. Mary Katherine Backstrom was delighted when she saw a stranger cleaning her car windshield. She hugged him excitedly, telling him that random kindnesses are her favorite part of the holidays. Turns out the man was washing his own car windshield. His car just looked like Backstrom's. The mommy blogger recounted the incident in an online video that went viral. Ellen DeGeneres invited Backstrom on the show Tuesday, giving her an oversized check for $20,000.
Sports betting's rapid expansion faces more tests in 2020
LINCOLN, R.I. (AP) — Legalized sports betting's rapid spread across the U.S. could face some bigger tests in 2020. Less than two years after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling opened the door to sportsbooks outside Nevada, sports betting has been legalized in states that are home to about one-third of the nation's population. But moral opposition and complicated gambling landscapes might slow the spread elsewhere. Still, the topic is already on the agendas of lawmakers from Georgia to California. The most successful efforts so far have come in states that have allowed online betting, a form some states are reluctant to offer.
Ex-cop gets 10 years for ordering teens to strip, run naked
FORT LAUERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida police officer is heading to prison for threatening to arrest two teens if they didn't strip and run naked through the Everglades. Former officer Michael Martinez was sentenced to 10 years Wednesday. Authorities say the 30-year-old pulled the young couple over after they ran a stop sign in 2016 and he found a small amount of alcohol and marijuana in the car. Prosecutors say he told the teens to follow him down an isolated road, where he ordered them to either take their clothes off and run, or go to jail. The teens testified they felt intimidated and thought they had no choice but to obey.
Airline mechanic pleads guilty to jetliner sabotage
MIAMI (AP) — A longtime airline mechanic with potential links to Muslim extremists has pleaded guilty to sabotaging a jetliner with 150 people aboard at Miami International Airport. Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani entered the plea Wednesday in Miami federal court. The 60-year-old Alani did not face any terrorism-related charges despite evidence of ties to the Islamic State group. The FBI says Alani admitted the sabotage and insisted he did it to get overtime pay to fix the Boeing 737. The charge of attempted destruction of an aircraft carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence. Alani will be sentenced in March.
TRUMP-PRESCRIPTION DRUG IMPORTS
Plan to import cheaper Canadian drugs advances under Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is moving ahead with its plan to allow Americans to safely and legally get access to lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada. Health officials have unveiled a proposed legal framework for patients to eventually get medicines from other countries, subject to U.S. safeguards. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar traveled to Florida on Wednesday to promote the plan with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. The White House is eager to show progress on prescription drug costs, but the import plan may not have much impact before the 2020 elections. Lawmakers in Congress are at odds over major drug pricing legislation. The pharmaceutical industry has opposed drug importation.
Man gets nearly 6 years in prison for cyberstalking, threats
BOSTON (AP) — A Florida man has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison after authorities said he waged an 18-month cyberstalking campaign against a former schoolmate who wrote an online essay about a sexual experience with him. Byron A. Cardozo was sentenced in Boston's federal court Wednesday after pleading guilty to one count of cyberstalking and one count of making interstate threats. The 35-year-old was ordered to 70 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. A lawyer for Cardozo did not immediately return a request for comment. Prosecutors say Cardozo sent hundreds of threatening and harassing messages to a former classmate after she published an essay describing a 2001 traumatic sexual encounter with him.
Ohio man dies while diving off Florida's Key Largo
KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) — Authorities in the Florida Keys say an Ohio man died while diving off Key Largo. Monroe County Sheriff's spokesman Adam Linhardt says 46-year-old Carroll E. Demaris Jr. was unconscious when he was pulled from the water on Tuesday. He had been diving the Speigel Grove wreck with others from the Rainbow Reef Dive Center. Foul play is not suspected. Autopsy results are pending. Linhardt said Demaris was from Cincinnati.
15-year-old student hit, killed by school bus in Florida
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a 15-year-old girl has died after being struck by a school bus near West Palm Beach. Palm Beach County Sheriff's officials say the crash happened about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. The girl was taken to a hospital where she died. Vehicle homicide investigators are on the scene. The girl's name has not been released. Officials also have not released details about how the crash happened.
Florida workers urge officials to break contract impasse