In our news wrap Wednesday, Virginia's vacant state legislative seat has come down to a tie. Judges ruled today that candidates Shelly Simonds and David Yancey are dead even, after Simonds had been originally told she won by a single vote. Also, Congress worked on a spending bill to keep the government running through mid-January, ahead of a Friday deadline to avoid a shutdown.
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And in the day's other news, Congress worked on a spending bill to keep the government running through mid-January. It has to pass by Friday night to avoid a shutdown.
Remaining issues include funding for a Children's Health Insurance Program and continued authority for overseas wiretapping of terror suspects.
A political battle involving Virginia's state legislature has come down to a tie. After Democrat Shelly Simonds had been told that she had won by one vote, a panel of judges ruled today that she and Republican David Yancey are dead even. The winner will be chosen by drawing names from a bowl. A Simonds win could shift control of the Virginia House of Delegates, and boost Democratic hopes for next year's congressional elections.
The European Union took the unprecedented step today of censuring Poland for overhauling its justice system. The country's ruling rightist party has moved to take greater control of Polish courts.
In Brussels, the E.U.'s executive body charged that the changes threaten the rule of law, and could trigger sanctions.
The executive or legislative powers are now set up in such a way that the ruling majority can systematically politically interfere with the composition, the powers, the administration and the functioning of these authorities, thereby rendering the independence of the judiciary completely moot.
Poland's president was undeterred. Hours after the E.U. announcement, he signed the last of the new laws, completing the transformation of the judicial system.
Ninety-two Somalis are accusing U.S. immigration agents of gross mistreatment during a botched deportation move this month. They say they spent nearly 48 hours shackled on an airplane before ultimately being returned to the U.S. A class-action lawsuit charges that immigration agents — quote — "kicked, struck, choked and dragged" the detainees.
A federal judge has blocked any new deportation effort until next month.
A federal judge in Nevada declared a mistrial today in the Cliven Bundy case. Bundy, two sons, and a militia leader are accused of leading an armed standoff with federal agents over a cattle grazing dispute. The judge ruled that prosecutors failed to disclose all their evidence to the defense.
The ride-hailing service Uber has suffered a major legal loss. The European Union's top court ruled today that the company should be regulated as a taxi service, and not a tech company. Taxi drivers in Barcelona, Spain, celebrated the decision. They had accused Uber of engaging in unfair competition, and they sued to bar it from doing business in their city.
Jose Miguel Rodriguez (through interpreter):
Well, I'm very happy. We are hopeful. We have achieved a very great victory. We have managed to get Uber, a multinational company, to kneel before a group of taxi drivers who in the past, four years ago, managed to stop the service here in Spain, and now we have stopped it all over Europe, which is very important.
Uber played down the ruling, and said it might affect operations in only four countries.
Back in this country, crews battling the Thomas Fire in Southern California were on guard today against a return of gusting winds. The wildfire is now 60 percent contained, after calm weather the past two days. But hundreds of evacuees may not be able to return home for Christmas.
South Carolina's capital has become the first U.S. city to ban the use of bump stocks, devices that allow semiautomatic rifles to fire like full automatics. The Columbia City Council took the step last night. Members cited the Las Vegas sniper, who used a bump stock to kill 58 people in October.
The New York Times says that it is reassigning White House reporter Glenn Thrush after investigating allegations of sexual misconduct. In a statement, the paper says that Thrush acted offensively, but doesn't deserve to be fired. Instead, he will stay on suspension for two months, before getting a new assignment.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 28 points to close at 24,726. The Nasdaq fell two points, and the S&P 500 also slipped two.