Obama quickly signs Puerto Rico financial rescue bill

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has signed a rescue package for financially strapped Puerto Rico, which is facing more than $70 billion in debt and a major payment due Friday.

Obama signed the bill Thursday, hours after it won final passage in the Senate on Wednesday night.

Pentagon ends ban on transgender troops in military

WASHINGTON -- Transgender people will be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military, the Pentagon announced Thursday, ending one of the last bans on service in the armed forces.

Saying it's the right thing to do, Defense Secretary Ash Carter laid out a yearlong implementation plan declaring that "Americans who want to serve and can meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete to do so."

Patriot Ball to honor local heroes

Fourth of July celebrations will kick off with the annual Patriot’s Ball at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, July 2, in the Contraband Room of the Lake Charles Civic Center.

“It is an opportunity to recognize the patriots of Southwest Louisiana,” said Ron Williams of the Mayor’s Armed Forces Commission.

Yo-yo performer shows off skills

LEESVILLE -- Local youths were treated to a special show Wednesday at the Vernon Library, at 1401 Nolan Trace Road, when yo-yo trickster Matthew Noel showed off some of his best stunts. The show was a part of the library’s summer reading program.

Children’s librarian Priscilla Watson said Noel’s show entertained both the young children and the tweens.

Hi-Licious Street Kitchen offers unique spin on Asian culture

I have two older brothers and for some reason, I had to teach myself how to ride a bike when I was kid. I could have called on my dad for help, but he’s the type to encourage me to do something on my own so “I have a sense of pride, independence, and accomplishment” — whatever that meant.

I ended up learning how to ride a bike on my own pretty quickly, mostly out of desperation. Once we got home from school, my brothers would hop on their two wheels and head off to see neighborhood friends. They didn’t wait on me, so I had to figure it out myself. After a few falls, a slight concussion or two, and some broken bike chains, it all worked itself out.

Police: Man plotted armed mannequin, bomb attack on officers

HARTVILLE, Ohio -- A man who allegedly plotted to attack an Ohio police station using armed mannequins and explosives has been arrested.

Fifty-one-year-old Timothy Ward was arrested Tuesday at his father's home in Lake Township on weapons and retaliation charges. It wasn't immediately known if he has an attorney.

Ward was accused in 2008 of tying his wife to a chair and threatening to kill her while he went off to fight demons. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was released from community supervision last year.

Trucker accused of keeping sex slaves in semi pleads guilty

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah trucker accused of keeping women as sex slaves in his semi-trailer as he drove across the country struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors Thursday, days before his trial was set to begin.

Timothy Jay Vafeades was charged with luring two women ages 18 and 19 to his truck, then forcibly altering their appearances and grinding down their teeth while holding them prisoner for months. Prosecutors say he had four other victims in the decades before his 2014 arrest, and their stories would have been evidence in the trial even though the cases are too old for criminal charges.

He now faces up to 20 years in prison under the terms of the deal. He pleaded guilty to two counts of transporting for illegal sexual activity and two kidnapping charges will be dropped in exchange. Sentencing is set for November.

Former Terrebonne Capt. Dawn Foret charged with theft

NEW ORLEANS -- A former captain in the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office is facing a federal theft charge.

Federal court records show 38-year-old Dawn Foret (for-AYE') was charged Friday in a bill of information that alleges she stole at least $1,000 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The document does not provide details.

However, The Houma Courier has said that Foret had been under federal investigation since 2012 in connection with federal money used to conduct an underage drinking eradication program. Foret's attorney did not immediately return a call for comment.

Leesville man accused of killing his wife

A Leesville man was arrested Thursday after deputies found his wife dead in the couple’s residence, authorities said.

Destin Reder, 22, was booked into the Vernon Parish jail on a charge of second-degree murder. Bond was set at $3 million.

Vernon Sheriff Sam Craft said deputies went to a residence on Jeane Chapel Road at about 6:30 a.m. in response to a call about an unconscious woman.

BREAKING: Suspended employee who set fire to DeRidder business identified

DeRidder police officials have released the identity of the disgruntled former employee who shot out a window and set fire to an office inside a local business late Monday night.

Deputy Police Chief Christopher