Supreme Court upholds N.C.'s voting limits
North Carolina can enforce new voting restrictions adopted by the state's Republican leaders and opposed by civil rights advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court said Wednesday. The justices lifted a lower court order by a 7-2 vote. The state can end same-day registration for new voters and bar the counting of ballots cast in the wrong precinct, even if they involve statewide races. A third provision of the law, which was not under challenge this week, will reduce the days for early voting from 17 to 10. In dissent, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said these measures are likely to have a discriminatory effect on black voters.
St. Johnsbury, Vt.
Mom, beau enter pleas in IV death
A man told police he poured vodka into the IV feeding tube of his girlfriend's disabled 13-year-old son to settle him down, a dose of alcohol that contributed to his death, according to court documents released Wednesday. Walter Richters and Melissa Robitille, both 38, were charged with second-degree murder in the Aug. 22 death of Isaac Robitille. They entered not-guilty pleas at their arraignment Wednesday in Caledonia County and were ordered held without bail.
Hundreds killed in Ukraine cease-fire
At least 331 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine since a Sept. 5 cease-fire was supposed to quell the armed conflict, the United Nations said Wednesday. The U.N. human rights office said 3,660 deaths had been confirmed in the violence-plagued regions of Donetsk and Luhansk since April, when Ukrainian government forces began moving against pro-Russia separatists who had seized and occupied a dozen towns and cities a month earlier.
Oil transport delays train passengers
An energy boom that has created a sharp increase in rail freight traffic nationwide is causing major delays for Amtrak passenger trains and is holding up the transport of vital consumer and industrial goods, including chemicals, coal and hundreds of thousands of new American cars, rail officials and federal and state regulators say. American rail lines now move more than a million barrels of oil a day. Last year about 415,000 rail cars filled with crude oil moved through the United States, compared with 9,500 in 2008, according to the Surface Transportation Board, a bipartisan body with oversight of the nation's railroads. In large part as a result, long-distance Amtrak passenger trains are now late 60 percent of the time, Amtrak officials said.
Stronger warnings sought for Chantix
Public safety advocates want the government to strengthen warnings on Pfizer's anti-smoking drug Chantix, even as the drugmaker prepares to argue that a bold-letter warning about psychiatric problems should be removed from its label. Five advocacy groups on Wednesday petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to expand Chantix's boxed warning, calling for detailed language about potential side effects like suicidal behavior, hostility and depression. The groups also say the warnings should include information about blackouts, convulsions and other problems.