Pence: Trump is ‘wrong’ to say election could be overturned
Former Vice President Mike Pence is directly rebutting Donald Trump’s false claims that Pence somehow could have overturned the results of the 2020 election. Pence said Friday in a speech to the conservative Federalist Society in Florida that the former president is simply “wrong” when he says Pence had the right to unilaterally “overturn the election.” Pence is responding to Trump’s intensifying efforts this week to advance the false narrative that he could have done something to prevent Joe Biden from taking office. While Pence has previously defended his actions on Jan. 6, the remarks Friday mark his most forceful rebuttal of Trump to date.
GOP censures Cheney, Kinzinger as it assails Jan. 6 probe
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Republican National Committee has censured two GOP lawmakers for participating on the committee investigating the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The RNC assailed Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their work on the panel. And it accused the panel of using broad subpoena power to persecute people who had engaged in what the party calls “legitimate political discourse.” Cheney and Kinzinger are the only two Republicans on the House committee investigating the 2021 attack. Republican officials also advanced a plan Friday to change party rules to prohibit their candidates from participating in debates organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Texas man pleads not guilty to making threats after election
ATLANTA (AP) — A Texas man accused of posting a message on Craigslist after the 2020 election calling on “patriots” in Georgia to “put a bullet” in three government officials has pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge. Chad Stark and his attorney appeared briefly by video Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Russell Vineyard in Atlanta. The 54-year-old Stark pleaded not guilty to one count of communicating interstate threats. He remains free on bond. The Justice Department has said Stark’s prosecution was the first criminal case brought by its new Election Threats Task Force. Prosecutors did not name the officials who were threatened.
Michael Avenatti convicted of stealing from Stormy Daniels
NEW YORK (AP) — California lawyer Michael Avenatti has been convicted by a jury on charges that he cheated porn actor Stormy Daniels out of nearly $300,000 she was supposed to get for writing a book about an alleged tryst with former President Donald Trump. The verdict was returned Friday in a New York federal court. The result was the culmination of an unusual trial in which Avenatti acted as his own lawyer and got to cross-examine Daniels about her belief in ghosts. Avenatti still faces other legal problems. He has yet to begin serving a prison sentence he received in 2020 for trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike.
COVID falling in 49 of 50 states as deaths near 900,000
With omicron easing, new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. are falling in at least 49 of the 50 states, even as the nation’s death toll closes in on another bleak round number: 900,000. The number of lives lost to the pandemic in the U.S. stood at about 899,000 as of Friday afternoon, with deaths running at an average of more than 2,400 a day, back up to where they were last winter, when the vaccine drive was still getting started. But new cases per day have plunged by almost a half-million nationwide since mid-January, the curve trending downward over the past two weeks in every state but Maine, according to Johns Hopkins University. And Maine officials say cases declined there over the past week.
US grants sanctions relief to Iran as nuke talks in balance
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is restoring some sanctions relief to Iran’s atomic program as talks aimed at salvaging the languishing 2015 nuclear deal enter a critical phase. As U.S. negotiators head back to Vienna for what could be a make-or-break session, Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed several sanctions waivers on Friday related to Iran’s civilian nuclear activities. The move reversed the Trump administration’s decision to rescind them. The waivers are intended to entice Iran to return to compliance with the 2015 deal that it has been violating since former President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed U.S. sanctions. Iran says it is not respecting the terms of the deal because the U.S. pulled out of it first.
UNITED STATES-AFGHANISTAN-AIRPORT BOMBING
Pentagon: Deadly Afghan airport attack was not preventable
WASHINGTON (AP) — The military investigation into the deadly attack during the Afghanistan evacuation has concluded that a suicide bomber, carrying 20 pounds of explosives packed with ball bearings, acted alone, and that the deaths of more than 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members were not preventable. The blast at Abbey Gate outside the Kabul airport on Aug. 26 killed 11 U.S. Marines, a sailor and a soldier, who were screening the thousands of Afghans, frantically trying to get onto one of the crowded flights leaving the country after the Taliban takeover. Officials said earlier thoughts that it was a complex attack involving gunfire were unfounded. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Lethal US raid on IS encounters a doll, crib, bomb, bullets
When helicopters carrying some 50 U.S. commandos landed in Syria an hour after midnight, the raiders confronted a houseful of extremists and children. Baby comforts were inside — a stuffed bunny, a plastic swing, a crib. So was the paraphernalia of violence — including the bomb that the Islamic State’s leader is said by U.S. officials to have used to blow up himself, his family and perhaps others. It was an audacious raid in an extremist stronghold. The raid was months in the works, and executed with the understanding that children might die as well as the hunted IS chief if the building’s occupants did not get out when given the chance.
SpaceX, NASA looking into sluggish chutes on last 2 flights
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX and NASA are investigating a parachute issue that occurred on the last two capsule flights. One of the four main parachutes was slow to inflate during the return of four astronauts to Earth last November. The same thing happened last week as a Dragon cargo capsule was bringing back science experiments from the International Space Station. In both cases, the sluggish parachute eventually opened and the capsules splashed down safely of the coast of Florida. Officials for SpaceX and NASA said Friday they want to better understand what’s happening, especially before launching another crew in a month or two.
Laser strikes against aircraft hit a record in US last year
WASHINGTON (AP) — Pointing lasers at airplanes and helicopters is becoming a bigger problem. The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that pilots reported a record 9,723 laser strikes last year. That’s a a 41% increase over the year before. Lasers aimed at aircraft have been a safety concern for more than a decade despite jail sentences for people who get caught. Authorities have tried to stop the problem with rewards for turning in perpetrators, and legislation making it easier to prosecute them. The FAA says pilots have reported 244 injuries from laser strikes since 2010.
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