Jan. 6 panel urges Trump prosecution with criminal referral
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Jan. 6 committee urged the Justice Department on Monday to bring criminal charges against Donald Trump for the violent 2021 Capitol insurrection, calling for accountability for the former president and “a time of reflection and reckoning.”
After one of the most exhaustive and aggressive congressional probes in memory, the panel’s seven Democrats and two Republicans are recommending criminal charges against Trump and associates who helped him launch a wide-ranging pressure campaign to try to overturn his 2020 election loss. The panel also released a lengthy summary of its final report, with findings that Trump engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy” to thwart the will of voters.
At a final meeting Monday, the committee alleged violations of four criminal statutes by Trump, in both the run-up to the riot and during the insurrection itself, as it recommended the former president for prosecution to the Justice Department. Among the charges they recommend for prosecution is aiding an insurrection — an effort to hold him directly accountable for his supporters who stormed the Capitol that day.
The committee also voted to refer conservative lawyer John Eastman, who devised dubious legal maneuvers aimed at keeping Trump in power, for prosecution on two of the same statutes as Trump: conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstructing an official proceeding.
While a criminal referral is mostly symbolic, with the Justice Department ultimately deciding whether to prosecute Trump or others, it is a decisive end to a probe that had an almost singular focus from the start.
Harvey Weinstein found guilty of rape in Los Angeles trial
LOS ANGELES (AP) — After a month-long trial and nine days of deliberations, Los Angeles jurors on Monday found Harvey Weinstein guilty of the rape and sexual assault of just one of the four accusers he was charged with abusing.
But the three guilty counts involving an Italian actor and model known at the trial as Jane Doe 1 still struck a major blow against the disgraced movie mogul, and provided another #MeToo moment of reckoning, five years after he became a magnet for the movement.
Weinstein, 70, who is two years into a 23-year sentence for a rape and sexual assault conviction in New York that is under appeal, could get up to 24 years in prison in California when he's sentenced.
He was found guilty of rape, forced oral copulation and another sexual misconduct count involving the woman who said he appeared uninvited at her hotel room door during a Los Angeles film festival in 2013.
“Harvey Weinstein forever destroyed a part of me that night in 2013 and I will never get that back. The criminal trial was brutal and Weinstein’s lawyers put me through hell on the witness stand, but I knew I had to see this through to the end, and I did,” the woman said in a statement after the verdict. "I hope Weinstein never sees the outside of a prison cell during his lifetime.”
High court temporarily blocks lifting of asylum restrictions
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is temporarily blocking an order that would lift pandemic-era restrictions on asylum seekers but the brief order leaves open the prospect that the restrictions in place since the coronavirus pandemic began and have been used to turn back hundreds of thousands of prospective asylum seekers could still expire on Wednesday.
The court's decision comes as officials and aid groups along the border are trying to prepare for whatever changes may or may not come Wednesday.
In the city of El Paso, Mayor Oscar Leeser said they've received information from Border Patrol and shelters just across the border in Mexico indicating that up to 20,000 migrants might be waiting to cross into El Paso. The Red Cross has brought 10,000 cots to help with the increase, he said.
The order Monday by Chief Justice John Roberts — who handles emergency matters that come from federal courts in the nation’s capital — comes as conservative states are pushing to keep the limits on asylum seekers that were put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. The states appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in a last-ditch effort before the restrictions are set to expire Wednesday, saying that lifting the limits on asylum seekers would cause irreparable harm to their states.
In the one-page order, Roberts granted a stay pending further order and asked the government to respond by 5 p.m. Tuesday. That is just hours before the restrictions are slated to expire on Wednesday.
Elon Musk Twitter poll ends with users seeking his departure
Millions of Twitter users asked Elon Musk to step down as the head of Twitter in a poll the billionaire created and promised to abide by. But by Monday afternoon there was no word on whether Musk would step aside or who the new leader might be.
Twitter has grown more chaotic and confusing under Musk's leadership with rapidly vacillating policies that are issued, then withdrawn or changed.
Among those voting with the “go” camp almost certainly were Tesla investors who have grown tired of the 24/7 Twitter chaos that they say has distracted the eccentric CEO from the electric car company, his main source of wealth.
Musk also used his Tesla stock to partially fund the acquisition of Twitter.
Shares of Tesla are down 35% since Musk took over Twitter on Oct. 27, costing investors billions. Tesla's market value was over $1.1 trillion on April 1, the last trading day before Musk disclosed he was buying up Twitter shares. The company has since lost 58% of its value, at a time when rival auto makers are cutting in on Tesla's dominant share of electric vehicle sales.
North Korea threatens strong military steps against Japan
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea threatened Tuesday to take “bold and decisive military steps” against Japan as it slammed Tokyo’s adoption of a national security strategy as an attempt to turn the country into an aggressive military power.
The North’s statement came four days after Japan announced a security strategy that reflects its determination to possess “counterstrike” capability and double its military spending to gain a more offensive footing against threats from China and North Korea.
The North’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Japan’s push to acquire counterstrike capability has nothing to do with self-defense but is a clear attempt to acquire “pre-emptive attack capability meant to launch strikes on other countries’ territories.”
“Japan’s foolish attempt to satiate its black-hearted greed -- the building up of its military invasion capability with the pretext of a legitimate exercise of self-defense rights -- cannot be justified and tolerated,” an unidentified ministry spokesperson said in a statement carried by state media.
The statement accused the United States of supporting and promoting the Japanese military ambitions and undermining regional peace. It said such alleged U.S. moves are forcing North Korea to work hard to complete its plans to develop new strategic weapons to thwart enemy attempts to invade the North.
Putin in Belarus, eyeing next steps in Ukraine war
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare trip Monday to Moscow's ally Belarus as his forces pursued their campaign to bombard Ukraine from the air amid a broad battlefield stalemate almost 10 months into the war.
Putin’s visit to Minsk came hours after Russia’s latest drone attack on Ukraine. Moscow has been targeting Ukraine’s power grid since October as part of a strategy to deprive the country of heat and power during winter.
His brief trip could herald more military support for the Kremlin war effort, after Belarus provided Russia with a launching pad for the invasion of Ukraine last February.
Putin said he and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko discussed forming “a single defense space” in the region but rejected claims that Moscow was poised to swallow its neighbor.
“Russia isn’t interested in any kind of merger, it’s not feasible,” Putin said.
FTX founder agrees to extradition to US, attorney says
Sam Bankman-Fried may be ready to come to the U.S. to face criminal charges related to the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX following a chaotic court appearance in the Bahamas.
A lawyer for Bankman-Fried was quoted as saying Monday the disgraced FTX founder has agreed to be extradited to the United States. A court hearing was stopped earlier in the day when his attorneys said it was premature for him to stand before the court.
Jerone Roberts, a local defense attorney for Bankman-Fried, told The New York Times that lawyers will prepare the necessary documents for extradition. “Mr. Bankman-Fried wishes to put the customers right, and that is what has driven his decision,” the Times quoted Roberts telling reporters.
It was not immediately clear when extradition could occur.
The court appearance came just a week after Bankman-Fried’s lawyers had initially said that they planned to fight extradition. An extradition hearing had been scheduled for Feb. 8. The reversal could speed up the timetable for him to be sent to the U.S.
Christmas tree demand remains high despite inflation
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — For all the worries about inflation and the economy, Americans aren’t scrimping on a centerpiece of many celebrations this holiday season: the Christmas tree.
Retailers from Home Depot and Lowes to mom and pop operations raised their prices on trees — but people are still buying them.
Some Christmas tree growers fretted over external factors — high fuel, fertilizer and labor costs — only to rediscover that holiday greenery is largely inflation-proof, even as Americans cut back on retail spending last month.
The cost of an average-size tree from the local Rotary Club’s Christmas trees in South Portland, Maine, is $70 — $5 more than last year.
A survey of 55 of the nation’s largest Christmas tree wholesalers indicated virtually all of them intended to raise prices, with most wholesale cost increases in the 5% to 15% range — but with some increases reaching 21% or more, according to the Real Christmas Tree Board in Howell, Michigan, which conducts marketing and research for the industry.
Children's medicine shortage hits as flu season starts fast
Caring for sick children has become extra stressful recently for many U.S. parents due to shortages of Children’s Tylenol and other medicines.
Doctors and other experts say the problem could persist through the winter cold-and-flu season but should not last as long as other recent shortages of baby formula or prescription drugs.
They also say parents have alternatives if they encounter empty store shelves.
Here’s a closer look:
Mystery Nevada fossil site could be ancient maternity ward
NEW YORK (AP) — Scientists have uncovered new clues about a curious fossil site in Nevada, a graveyard for dozens of giant marine reptiles. Instead of the site of a massive die-off as suspected, it might have been an ancient maternity ward where the creatures came to give birth.
The site is famous for its fossils from giant ichthyosaurs — reptiles that dominated the ancient seas and could grow up to the size of a school bus. The creatures — the name means fish lizard — were underwater predators with large paddle-shaped flippers and long jaws full of teeth.
Since the ichthyosaur bones in Nevada were excavated in the 1950s, many paleontologists have investigated how all these creatures could have died together. Now, researchers have proposed a different theory in a study published Monday in the journal Current Biology.
“Several lines of evidence all kind of point towards one argument here: That this was a place where giant ichthyosaurs came to give birth,” said co-author Nicholas Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Once a tropical sea, the site — part of Nevada’s Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park — now sits in a dry, dusty landscape near an abandoned mining town, said lead author Randy Irmis, a paleontologist at the University of Utah.
The Associated Press