RICHMOND, Va. — A judge has blocked a federal requirement that would have begun forcing U.S. tobacco companies to put large graphic images on their cigarette packages later this year to show the dangers of smoking.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington ruled Wednesday that the images violate the free speech amendment to the Constitution. He had temporarily blocked the requirement in November, saying it was likely cigarette makers will succeed in a lawsuit.

The Food and Drug Administration planned to require that images such as a cloud of cigarette smoke within inches of a baby’s face and a pair of healthy lungs next to the diseased lungs of a smoker appear on packs of cigarettes.

Target pulls card

poking fun at Whitney

NEW YORK — Target is pulling a greeting card that makes fun of the late singer Whitney Houston’s penchant for bad boys.

The discounter said Wednesday the card was sold in its stores prior to Houston’s death on Feb. 11, and as soon as it was brought to the retailer’s attention, Target Corp. began “the process of removing the card.”

The card reads: “Next time you think of dating the bad boy, consider Whitney Houston.”

The text refers to Houston’s rocky relationship with ex-husband and singer Bobby Brown. Brown has been blamed by some for Houston’s reported drug use.

“It is never our intent to offend guests with the products we offer, and we take feedback from guests very seriously,” said Target in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

Houston, 48, was found dead hours before she was to attend a pre-Grammy Awards party. No cause of death has been determined.

Lawyer: Texas tycoonnever cheated anyone

HOUSTON — An attorney for Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford told jurors no evidence has been presented showing that the financier cheated anyone as prosecutors allege he did as part of a massive Ponzi scheme.

During closing arguments Wednesday in Stanford’s fraud trial in Houston, defense attorney Ali Fazel said Stanford created thousands of jobs through his legitimate business empire and never failed to repay investors who bought certificates of deposit, or CDs, from his Caribbean bank.

In their closing arguments earlier Wednesday, prosecutors alleged Stanford bilked investors out of more than $7 billion through sales of the CDs and flushed away their money on a “lavish lifestyle and his loser companies.”

Compiled from wire reports

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