'All roads lead to Putin': Impeachment ties Ukraine, Russia
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats are bringing the impeachment focus back to Russia as they draft formal charges against President Donald Trump.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is connecting the dots — "all roads lead to Putin," she says — and making the argument that Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine was not an isolated incident but part of a troubling bond with the Russian president reaching back to special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on the 2016 election.
"This has been going on for 2 1/2 years," Pelosi said Friday.
"This isn’t about Ukraine," she explained a day earlier. "'It’s about Russia. Who benefited by our withholding of that military assistance? Russia."
The framing is taking on greater urgency and importance, both as a practical matter and a political one, as Democrats move seriously into writing the articles of impeachment.
Saudi student opens fire at Florida Naval base, killing 3
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — An aviation student from Saudi Arabia opened fire in a classroom at the Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning, killing three people in an attack the Saudi government quickly condemned and that U.S. officials were investigating for possible links to terrorism.
The assault, which ended when a sheriff's deputy killed the attacker, was the second fatal shooting at a U.S. Navy base this week and prompted a massive law enforcement response and base lockdown.
Twelve people were hurt in the attack, including the two sheriff's deputies who were the first to respond, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. One of the deputies was shot in the arm and the other in the knee, and both were expected to recover, he said.
The shooter was a member of the Saudi military who was in aviation training at the base, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference. DeSantis spokesman Helen Ferre later said the governor learned about the shooter's identity from briefings with FBI and military officials.
A U.S. official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity identified the shooter as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The official also said the FBI is examining social media posts and investigating whether he acted alone or was connected to any broader group.
US digs into Saudi shooting suspect motive in Navy shooting
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. law enforcement officials were digging into the background of the suspected Florida naval station shooter Friday, to determine the Saudi Air Force officer's motive and whether it was connected to terrorism.
As questions swirled about the shooting, which left four people dead, including the attacker, officials identified the suspect as 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, an aviation officer in the Saudi Air Force. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
Alshamrani was attending the aviation school at Naval Air Station Pensacola, one of hundreds of international military members who are receiving training there. The shooter opened fire in a classroom building on Friday morning.
Defence Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement that the Pentagon was continuing to monitor the Pensacola incident and was gathering additional facts on the shooting earlier this week at Pearl Harbor, when a young Navy sailor gunned down two people and then shot himself.
Esper said he is "considering several steps to ensure the security of our military installations and the safety of our service members and their families." He provided no details.
As Dems zero in on White House, Trump racks up court losses
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump knows he has fierce Democratic adversaries in Congress. But there is also ample push-back from the Judiciary branch, where black-robed judges who sit in courtrooms just blocks from the Capitol and in New York City have repudiated his view of executive power.
Federal judges in the last two months have accused Trump administration lawyers of "openly stonewalling" and of regarding presidents as kings while also deriding Justice Department legal positions as "extraordinary," "exactly backwards" and just plain "wrong."
Taken together, the court rulings eviscerate the administration's muscular view of executive power just as the impeachment inquiry against Trump accelerates. And they embolden Democrats in their pursuit of investigations into Trump's government and finances.
"We're not accustomed to seeing presidents suffer as many defeats in the courts as this president," said William Howell, a University of Chicago political scientist.
The administration at least temporarily lost its bid to shield former White House counsel Don McGahn from being questioned by Congress. It argued unsuccessfully to withhold secret grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. And lawyers for the president have tried to keep the president's financial records away from Congress. In each instances, judges have overruled them.
Supreme Court keeps federal executions on hold
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from restarting federal executions next week after a 16-year break.
The justices denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favour of inmates who have been given execution dates. The first of those had been scheduled for Monday, with a second set for Friday. Two more inmates had been given execution dates in January.
Attorney General William Barr announced during the summer that federal executions would resume using a single drug, pentobarbital, to put inmates to death.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., temporarily halted the executions after some of the chosen inmates challenged the new execution procedures in court. Chutkan ruled that the procedure approved by Barr likely violates the Federal Death Penalty Act.
The federal appeals court in Washington had earlier denied the administration’s emergency plea to put Chutkan’s ruling on hold and allow the executions to proceed.
Pearl Harbor shooting unfolded in 23 seconds in packed area
HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Navy sailor who fatally shot two people at Pearl Harbor before killing himself was unhappy with his commanders and had been undergoing counselling, a military official said Friday.
Gabriel Romero, 22, also faced non-judicial punishment, which is a lower-level administrative process for minor misconduct, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters not made public. He used his two service weapons in the attack, the official said.
Romero also wounded a 36-year-old man in the attack Wednesday at the naval shipyard within the storied military base before turning the gun on himself, authorities said. That victim is in stable condition at a hospital.
In a second attack at a Navy base this week, a shooter opened fire in a classroom building Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida — leaving four people dead, including the assailant, and multiple people wounded.
The Pearl Harbor shooting came just days before a ceremony to remember those who perished in the Japanese bombing 78 years ago that propelled the U.S. into World War II.
Italian priest, and 2 Kenyan men who say he’s their father
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Steven Lacchin grew up a fatherless boy, but he knew some very basic facts about the man who was his father.
He knew Lacchin, the name on his Kenyan birth certificate, was his dad’s name. He knew that Mario Lacchin abandoned him and his mother.
When he was older, he learned that his father was an Italian missionary priest — and that in leaving, he had chosen the church over his child.
What he did not know is that less than 10 kilometres (6 miles) away, another man was on a quest to prove that Mario Lacchin was his father, too.
These two men would find each other thanks to an Associated Press story that appeared on the front page of Kenya’s main newspaper. All agreed that they bore a marked resemblance, but they underwent genetic testing to be certain.
US firms keep hiring, easing worries of weakening economy
WASHINGTON (AP) — American businesses have complained for years that they can’t find the workers they need to fill available jobs. November’s robust hiring gain suggests that at least some have found a way to do so.
With the unemployment rate now at a half-century low of 3.5%, many economists have also warned that hiring would soon slow simply because there are fewer unemployed workers available.
That day may still come, but it didn’t in November. Employers added 266,000 jobs last month, the most since January. Monthly hiring has, in fact, picked up since earlier this year: It averaged 205,000 for the past three months, up from a recent low of 135,000 in July.
Friday’s jobs report largely squelched fears of a recession that had taken hold in the summer. Steady job growth has helped reassure consumers that the economy is expanding and that their jobs and incomes remain secure. That should boost spending and growth in the months ahead.
President Donald Trump seized on the strong jobs report as he tries to focus voters' attention on the state of the economy rather than the impeachment inquiry being led by House Democrats. The latest numbers also come as Trump’s trade war with China had prompted companies to cut back on their investments in plants and industrial equipment, slowing growth.
Officials list pot vape brands reported in US outbreak
NEW YORK (AP) — Health officials investigating a nationwide outbreak of vaping illnesses have listed, for the first time, the vape brands most commonly linked to hospitalizations.
Most of the nearly 2,300 people who suffered lung damage had vaped liquids that contain THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana.
In a report released Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed the products most often cited by patients, noting that some of them said they vaped more than one.
Dank Vapes was the brand used by 56% of the hospitalized patients nationwide.
Dank is not a licensed product coming from one business, it is empty packaging that can be ordered from Chinese internet sites. Illicit vaping cartridge makers can buy the empty packages and then fill them with whatever they choose.
Let's cancel 'OK Boomer' in 2020, and the humblebrag, too
NEW YORK (AP) — Either loudly sing your own praises or don’t in the new year, but let’s leave the humble brag behind, along with a few other oversaturated, cloying or just plain silly cultural quirks that deserve a big goodbye.
Among them are pop-up shops, cancel culture and the ever-present "OK Boomer" retort on social media. With much ado about something, here's our annual Over It list of things that should remain in 2019:
Wearing two timepieces has been around since the 18-century dandy and his double pocket watches, intended to culturally elevate as opposed to making sure he was really, really on time. Later, Marlon Brando pulled off the two-wrist tango but, you know, he was Brando. Young celebs have caught on, Chris Pratt, Johnny Depp and Drake included. These days it's all about the digital add-on, plus a statement piece. Can you see our side eyes?