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Four lion cubs that were orphaned during the war in Ukraine have arrived safely at a Minnesota animal sanctuary that has pledged to provide them a permanent home. A male cub named Taras and three females named Stefania, Lesya and Prada, who are all between four and five months old, spent the last three weeks at the Poznan Zoo in Poland. The International Fund for Animal Welfare says they were born at Ukrainian breeding facilities during the war and then orphaned at a few weeks old. It says their arrival Tuesday marked the final step in an arduous journey after they survived sporadic bombings and drone attacks. Their new home is The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, north of Minneapolis.

A Virginia sheriff’s deputy posed as a 17-year-old boy online and asked a teenage California girl for nude photos before he drove across the country and killed her mother and grandparents and set fire to their home. Police say 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards left with the teenager Friday and died by suicide during a shootout with law enforcement hours later. Family members and authorities said Wednesday that the girl is now in trauma counseling. The bodies were identified as Mark and Sharie Winek and their daughter Brooke Winek. Police say Edwards met the girl online and obtained her information by deceiving her with a false identity, known as “catfishing.”

Jurors have convicted a man in the killings of eight people from another Ohio family after weighing his denials and other testimony against the word of witnesses including his brother and mother, who previously pleaded guilty for their roles. Thirty-one-year-old George Wagner IV was found guilty Wednesday of all 22 counts he faced, including eight counts of aggravated murder in the 2016 shootings of seven adults and a teenager from the Rhoden family in southern Ohio’s Pike County. Wagner sat motionless as the verdicts were read, closing his eyes or looking down. Prosecutors say the slayings, which initially spurred speculation about drug cartel involvement, stemmed from a dispute over custody of Wagner’s niece. His father awaits trial in the killings.

In a normal year, University of Idaho students would be bustling between classes and the library, cramming for finals and looking forward to winter break. But on Wednesday a little less than half the students appear to have switched to online classes after four of their classmates were stabbed to death. Blaine Eckles is the university's dean of students. He hopes candlelight vigils set to be held across the state tonight will offer some temporary comfort amid grief and fear. The killings remain unsolved, and police have not yet named a person of interest in the case. Idaho Gov. Brad Little is directing $1 million in emergency funds toward the investigation, and the FBI has 44 agents assigned.

The seditious conspiracy convictions of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and another leader in the far-right extremist group show that jurors are willing to hold accountable not just the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but those who schemed to subvert the 2020 election. Tuesday verdict, while not a total win for the Justice Department, gives momentum to investigators just as the newly named special counsel ramps up his probe into key aspects of the insurrection fueled by President Donald Trump’s lies of a stolen election.

    Florida backup quarterback Jalen Kitna has been arrested and charged with two counts of distribution of child exploitation material and three counts of possession of child pornography. Kitna is the son of retired NFL quarterback Jon Kitna. Gainesville police say the 19-year-old Jalen Kitna shared the images via a social media platform. Kitna was booked in the Alachua County Jail, where he was awaiting a first appearance in front of a judge on Thursday morning. The Gators suspended Kitna indefinitely about an hour after his arrest.

    A preliminary report from federal officials on a deadly midair collision at a Dallas air show says no guidance was given on altitudes before a World War II-era fighter plane crashed into a bomber. The National Transportation Safety Board's report released Wednesday does not give a cause of the crash. It says that just before, a formation of fighters was instructed to fly in front of a formation of bombers. All six people aboard the two planes died in the Nov. 12 crash. An NTSB spokesman says the agency is trying to determine the sequence of maneuvers that led to the crash.

    The White House says Thursday's state dinner for the president of France is meant to highlight the ties that bind the United States and its oldest ally. First lady Jill Biden and White House staff previewed the arrangements on Wednesday. Maine lobster poached in butter, beef with shallot marmalade and a trio of American cheeses are on the menu. Dessert is orange chiffon cake, with roasted pears and creme fraiche ice cream. A glitzy White House state dinner is a high diplomatic honor reserved for the closest U.S. allies. Thursday's affair will be the first one of the Biden administration.

    The Atlantic hurricane season has ended with 14 named storms, but residents of Florida and Puerto Rico will continue to deal with damage caused by Hurricanes Ian, Nicole and Fiona. Of the 2022 season’s named storms, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says eight became hurricanes, with winds of at least 74 mph, and two intensified to major hurricanes with winds reaching at least 111 mph. Forecaster say an average hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. This season was notable for a record-tying inactive August.

    A former elections manager who prosecutors say assisted in a security breach of voting equipment in a Colorado county plans to plead guilty under an agreement with prosecutors. Court documents show Sandra Brown is scheduled to be in court Wednesday afternoon. She is one of two employees accused of helping Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters allow a copy of a hard drive to be made during an update of election equipment in search of proof of the conspiracy theories spun by former President Donald Trump. Her lawyer has not responded to a request for comment. The deal must still be approved by a judge.

    President Joe Biden says he intends to designate a broad rugged mountain area considered sacred by area Native Americans in southern Nevada as a new national monument. Biden told a gathering of tribal leaders in Washington on Wednesday that Spirit Mountain is central to the creation story of several Mojave Desert tribes. The mountain would be part of Avi Kwa Ame National Monument, a huge area south of Las Vegas stretching generally from Arizona and the Colorado River to California and the Mojave National Preserve. The designation isn't final, but Biden's announcement was hailed by tribal representatives, conservationists and members of Nevada’s congressional delegation including Democratic U.S. Rep. Dina Titus.

    A top European Union official has warned Elon Musk that Twitter needs to beef up to protect users from hate speech, misinformation and other harmful content to avoid violating new rules. The EU's commissioner for digital policy, Thierry Breton, told Musk on Wednesday that the social media platform will have to significantly increase efforts to comply with the rules that threaten big fines or even a ban in the 27-nation bloc if tech giants don’t comply. The two held a video call to discuss Twitter’s preparedness for the rules. Breton says Musk told him that the new EU rules were “a sensible approach to implement on a worldwide basis.”

    Christine McVie, the soulful British musician who sang lead on many of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest hits, has died at 79. The band announced her death on social media Wednesday, saying “there are no words to describe our sadness at the passing of Christine McVie.” No cause of death or other details were immediately provided. McVie was a steady presence and personality in a band known for its frequent lineup changes and volatile personalities. During its peak commercial years, from 1975-80, the band sold tens of millions of records and was an ongoing source of fascination for fans as it transformed personal battles into melodic, compelling songs.

    The world’s largest volcano is oozing rivers of glowing lava and drawing thousands of awestruck viewers who jammed a Hawaii highway that could soon be covered by the flow. Mauna Loa awoke from its 38-year slumber Sunday, causing volcanic ash and debris to drift down from the sky. On Wednesday, a main highway linking towns on the east and west coasts of the Big Island became an impromptu viewing point. Thousands of cars jammed the highway near Volcanoes National Park. Anne Andersen left her overnight shift as a nurse to see the spectacle. She was afraid that the road would soon be closed.

    The Treasury Department says it has complied with a court order to make former President Donald Trump’s tax returns available to a congressional committee. The Supreme Court last week rejected Trump’s request for an order that would have prevented Treasury from giving six years of tax returns for Trump and some of his businesses to the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee. The court ended the three-year legal battle over disclosure of Trump’s tax returns. A department spokesperson said “Treasury has complied with last week’s court decision” but declined to say whether the committee had accessed the documents.


    Check out our special page packed with ideas and suggestions for making your 2022 holiday season the brightest it can be:

    Construction has begun on an underground electrical transmission line that will bring Canadian hydropower to New York City as part of an effort to make the Big Apple less reliant on fossil fuels. State officials announced the start of construction Wednesday on the Champlain Hudson Power Express. Once complete, the line will stretch 339 miles (546 kilometers) through New York state to deliver power produced by the company Hydro-Québec. Authorities project the line will deliver enough clean energy to power more than one million homes while also cutting carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons.

    Environmentalists say the federal government isn’t doing enough to ensure the survival of the Rio Grande silvery minnow as drought tightens its grip on one of the longest rivers in the West. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, the group WildEarth Guardians asked a federal judge to force U.S. water and wildlife agencies to reassess the effects of water management activities on the endangered fish. They want federal officials to develop enforceable measures to keep dams and diversions along the river's stretch through New Mexico's most populated area from jeopardizing the minnow. The fish was declared endangered nearly 30 years ago and its population continues to dwindle as the river sees record-low flows.

    Republican Kari Lake and supporters of her failed campaign for Arizona governor are attacking Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs as having a conflict of interest for overseeing the election she won. But secretaries of state across the country routinely oversee their own races, and Republicans had no such criticism when one of their own was secretary of state in Georgia and oversaw his own election for governor four years ago. The criticism against Hobbs has persisted after one heavily Republican rural county declined to certify its own election results, forcing Hobbs to sue.

    The city of Minneapolis has reached a $600,000 settlement with 12 protesters who were injured during protests after the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd. The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota says a federal judge approved the settlement Wednesday, making it official after the city approved it in October. The agreement also includes some reforms. Among them, the city will be barred from arresting, threatening to arrest or using physical force against people who are engaging in lawful protests. The settlement terms also limit the use of chemical agents by officers to disperse peaceful demonstrators.

    They say every vote counts. In one Connecticut town, it really did. A race for a seat in the state Legislature has been decided by a single vote. Nearly 10,600 ballots were cast in the race between Republican Tony Morrison and Democrat Christopher Poulos. After a recount, the final tally stood at 5,297 to 5,296 in favor of Poulos. The Democrat's win was certified Wednesday by state officials. Connecticut is not alone when it comes to razor-thin races. One New Hampshire state House race ended in a tie and now awaits action in the Legislature.

    Authorities say a Florida man drove his SUV into a fireworks store, sparking a huge fire in a crash. The driver was killed. Florida Today reports that the Phantom Fireworks store in West Melbourne, Florida, was destroyed in the blaze and explosions. Authorities say the 53-year-old driver on Monday had rear-ended another vehicle before plowing into the store. A witness says sparks and rockets flew in all directions as firefighters tried to douse the flames. Authorities didn't release the name of the driver and are continuing to investigate the crash.

    Stocks rallied on Wall Street after the head of the Federal Reserve said the central bank could soon ease up on its aggressive pace of interest rate hikes aimed at taming inflation. While citing some signs that inflation is cooling, Fed Chair Jerome Powell stressed that the Fed will push rates higher than previously expected and keep them there for an extended period. The S&P 500 jumped 3.1% Wednesday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 4.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.2%. Treasury yields fell broadly and crude oil prices rose. Major indexes ended November with their second straight month of gains.

    Indiana’s Republican attorney general has asked the state medical licensing board to discipline an Indianapolis doctor who has spoken publicly about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled from Ohio after its more-restrictive abortion law took effect. The complaint alleges Dr. Caitlin Bernard violated state law by not reporting the girl’s child abuse to Indiana authorities and violated patient privacy laws by telling a reporter about the girl’s treatment. That account sparked a national political uproar in the weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Bernard maintains the girl’s abuse had already been reported to Ohio police before the doctor ever saw the child.

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