WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court ruling on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, now just hours away, marks a key pivot point in the presidential race. But neither side knows which direction the high court's decision will turn the contest. "My guess is they're not sleeping real well at the White House tonight," presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney told supporters Wednesday in northern Virginia.
WASHINGTON (AP) _ It seems as if the entire nation is holding its breath for the Supreme Court's health care ruling _ the presidential candidates, governors of virtually every state, insurers with billions at stake, companies large and small and countless millions of Americans concerned about their own medical care and how they'll pay for it. Still, Thursday's expected ruling almost certainly will not be the last word on the nation's tangled efforts to address health care woes. The problems of high medical costs, widespread waste and tens of millions of people without insurance will require Congress and the president to keep looking for answers, whether or not President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act passes the test of constitutionality.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ Fire crews fought to save the U.S. Air Force Academy and residents begged for information on the fate of their homes Wednesday after a night of terror sent thousands of people fleeing a raging Colorado Springs wildfire. More than 30,000 have been displaced by the fire, including thousands who frantically packed up belongings Tuesday night after it barreled into neighborhoods in the foothills west and north of Colorado's second-largest city. With flames looming overhead, they clogged roads shrouded in smoke and flying embers, their fear punctuated by explosions of bright orange flame that signaled yet another house had been claimed.
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A House vote finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress on Thursday would create election-year fireworks but maybe not much lasting sizzle. Federal judges who've been called into similar disputes often sound like frazzled moms, in essence telling Congress and the president, "I don't care who started it, you two end it." Time appears to be limited for the House to pursue a criminal contempt case against Holder or a civil case to compel President Barack Obama's administration to turn over subpoenaed documents. A contempt citation against Holder presumably would expire when the current Congress ends in January.
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Hoping to avert the kind of headlines politicians dread, congressional leaders are aiming for final passage by week's end of legislation reshaping federal transportation programs and preventing a doubling of interest rates for millions of new student loans. Without action by Saturday, federal authority to conduct road, mass transit and other transportation programs would end, along with the government's ability to collect gasoline and diesel taxes that fund most of those programs, costing what Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said would be 3 million jobs. Democrats and Republicans were eager to avoid blame for shuttering transportation projects when voters are focused on the nation's weak employment market.
PARIS (AP) _ Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is the woman to watch _ or fear, or confront _ in Europe this week. The leaders of Italy, France and Spain are pressing their northern neighbor at a European Union summit starting Thursday to agree to share debts before markets push the eurozone any closer to collapse. The EU's top officials and the International Monetary Fund have argued the same.
If you're feeling hot this week, it's not a mirage. From Montana to Louisiana, hundreds of heat records have been slashed as harrowing temperatures leave cornfields parched and city sidewalks sizzling. On Tuesday 251 new daily high temperature records were set, boosting to 1,015 the number of records set during the previous week. Many more records were expected to have been set Wednesday.
BEIRUT (AP) _ Gunmen attacked a pro-government TV station Wednesday near the Syrian capital, killing seven employees in the latest barrage of violence as world powers prepared for a high-level meeting that the U.S. hopes will be a turning point in the crisis. Invitations to Saturday's gathering in Geneva were sent by special envoy Kofi Annan to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council _ including Syrian allies Russia and China _ but not to major regional players Iran and Saudi Arabia.
HOUSTON (AP) _ Retired Texas firefighter Raul Rodriguez, armed with a handgun and video camera, had claimed he was standing his ground and had no choice but to use deadly force when he fatally shot his unarmed neighbor after confronting him about a noisy party. A jury decided otherwise Wednesday, sentencing Rodriguez to 40 years in prison for killing the neighbor, Kelly Danaher, a 36-year-old elementary school teacher. Prosecutors said they are hopeful the punishment will stop others from settling matters with violence and trying to use Texas' version of a stand-your-ground law as a defense.
MIAMI (AP) _ Lab tests detected only marijuana in the system of a Florida man shot while chewing on another man's face, the medical examiner said Wednesday, ruling out other street drugs including the components typically found in the stimulants known as "bath salts." There has been much speculation about what drugs, if any, would lead to the bizarre behavior that authorities said Rudy Eugene exhibited before and during the gruesome attack that left the other man horribly disfigured. A Miami police union official had suggested that Eugene, who was shot and killed by an officer, was probably under the influence of bath salts.