Wisconsin

Judge blocks GOP’s move to limit power

A Wisconsin judge blocked a set of laws pushed through late last year by Republican legislators that aimed to weaken the power of the state’s newly elected Democratic governor. Judge Richard Niess of Dane County Circuit Court issued a temporary injunction on the laws, which included curbing the authority of incoming Gov. Tony Evers in the rule-making process and limiting the power of new Attorney General Josh Kaul. The judge said lawmakers’ last-minute meeting — a December session just after the election but before the new Democrats could be sworn in — did not meet the requirements of Wisconsin law. So the measures that emerged from it, he said, “cannot stand.”

New York

Man pleads guilty in mail bomb case

Cesar Sayoc, the Florida man accused of mailing explosive devices to more than a dozen politicians and media figures who have been critical of President Donald Trump, pleaded guilty in federal court. Sayoc, 57, was arrested and charged in October after a series of possible explosive devices were sent to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the news network CNN, among others. On Thursday, he appeared in a Manhattan courtroom and acknowledged that he created the devices and sent them in the mail. “I knew these actions were wrong. I’m extremely sorry,” Sayoc said.

Mississippi

Governor signs strict abortion measure

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation — a measure that bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into pregnancy. Bryant’s action came despite a federal judge’s ruling last year that struck down a less-restrictive law limiting abortions in the state. The Center for Reproductive Rights said it would sue Mississippi to try to block the law from taking effect on July 1.

Texas

Air quality forces residents to stay in

A Texas city ordered residents to take shelter indoors for several hours Thursday for the second time in a week as the air quality there worsened after a fire at a petrochemical storage facility. Officials in Deer Park lifted the shelter-in-place order about seven hours after putting it in place. The order had been prompted by the levels of benzene in the air. In a statement, emergency services and public health officials said air quality readings in the area had improved for a sustained period of time, allowing the city to lift the order.

Venezuela

Opposition leader’s chief of staff arrested

Venezuela’s intelligence police detained the chief of staff of the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, the most significant attack on the opposition camp since Guaidó declared himself the country’s interim president two months ago. The United States, a fierce ally of Guaidó, condemned the arrest and vowed a forceful response. And Guaidó said the detention would only redouble his efforts to force President Nicolás Maduro to cede power.

Southern Africa

Death toll surpasses 500 after cyclone

A week after Cyclone Idai lashed southern Africa, flooding still raged as torrential rains caused a dam to overflow in Zimbabwe, threatening riverside populations. The confirmed death toll in Zimbabwe, neighboring Mozambique and Malawi surpassed 500, with hundreds more feared dead in towns and villages that were completely submerged.

News services