News and Headlines: In The News, Politics, World News, Commentary/Opinion.
In The News:
VIDEO: Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft returns to Earth after abbreviated time in orbit
The autonomous spacecraft was launched on Friday but an internal clock error caused it to return.
NASA described the Sunday morning landing in the New Mexico desert as a “bulleye.”
“This marks the 1st time an American-made, human-rated capsule has landed on land,” the space agency added.
The capsule slowed down from 25 times the speed of sound in just a few minutes while re-entering Earth’s atmosphere during its landing.
Officer shot repeatedly – still chases down attacker and helps take him down
Officer Timothy Hinton, was shot in both arms, in an attack that nearly took his life. He was treated and later released from Maine General in Waterville.
Maine State Police said Hinton had stopped a car along Route 201 around 1 p.m. after the Waterville Walmart called in a shoplifting complaint.
That’s when police said the man opened fire on Hinton while he was in his cruiser.
Police said the gunman then took off.
Officer Hinton, who had been shot repeatedly, wasn’t out of the fight. He began to chase him until other officers could jump in.
‘They’re just my boys’: Georgia special education teacher includes students in wedding
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Colleen Powell teaches special education at Lakeview Academy in Milledgeville.
Between the classroom walls she instantly connected with three of her students, “Especially just having five or six kids, they become your own. Since I don’t have any kids of my own, I call these three my babies,” says Powell.
So, for her big day, Powell says she couldn’t make it down the aisle without them. “They’re just the biggest piece of my heart, and they mean as much to me as my bridesmaids did, and as much as my husband’s groomsmen.”
Legion of Christ finds 33 priests, 71 seminarian sex abusers
The Mexican-based order was one of the fastest growing congregations in the Catholic Church but was discredited after its founder turned out to be a religious fraud, drug addict and pedophile.
A third of the priestly abusers were themselves victims of the late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel.
The Legion released the statistics on the same day Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the Legion’s biggest defender at the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, as dean of the College of Cardinals.
Arizona hitchhiker arrested in connection with Utah stabbing
An Arizona man has been arrested in Utah on suspicion of stabbing a woman who picked him up while he was hitchhiking.
Fernando Ray White, 38, was charged with attempted murder Friday in the attack that left the woman with wounds on her face, hands, neck and teeth, police said.
He is also a suspect in an unspecified homicide case in Arizona, authorities said in court documents. He’s also on probation here.
The Sacaton, Arizona, man was hitchhiking near the central Utah town of Fillmore when the woman and her sister gave him a ride on Dec. 17, police said.
Texas teen killed unwed pregnant sister, 23, because she was ’embarrassment’ to family: cops
Viridiana Arevalo, 23, was reported missing by her boyfriend in The Colony, Texas, a week ago, according to reports. The family found a note she left behind saying she wanted to kill herself. She was eight months pregnant.
On Monday, The Colony police announced that her 19-year-old brother Eduardo Arevalo was facing a capital murder charge after the discovery of her body Sunday in an alley.
Police said Arevalo confessed to strangling his sister Dec. 16, Fox 4 reported. He also admitted to writing the suicide note the family found.
He told detectives he put the body in the trunk of his car and after an hour’s drive ditched it in a remote spot out of town, the station reported.
Video captures clerk shooting alleged robber at Bay Point convenience store
Kam’s Market on Port Chicago Highway in Bay Point released a surveillance video that appears to show how the alleged robbery attempt unfolded.
As the video starts, a man can be seen counting money and opening the cash register.
Busy behind the counter, he doesn’t see two masked men enter the store until one of them jumps behind the counter and points a gun at him.
Navy to get two large unmanned surface vessels in 2020 defense appropriations bill
The bill, three months late, was sent to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature last week.
The Navy envisions a “Battle Force” including unmanned surface and underwater vehicles, in addition to traditional warships — a major shift in creating a lower-cost and more realistic path to the 355-ship fleet it envisions within 10 years.
The Navy created Surface Development Squadron One in May, with the mission of exploring new naval surface warfare tactics that include teaming manned and unmanned vessels.
It also announced a request for proposals in December 2018 for production of a Medium Unmanned Surface Vessel, 132 feet long, and another request for proposals of the full-size LUSVs in April 2019.
Jeffrey Epstein’s Brother Fears His ‘Life May Also Be in Danger:’ Baden
In an interview over the weekend with AM 970’s “The Cats Roundtable,” Baden said: “Mark, the brother, his concern is that he wants to know if it’s suicide, or if it’s homicide.”
“Because, if it’s homicide, then his life may also be in danger,” Baden claimed.
“The homicide would be because his brother knew too much and whoever did it to his brother might then think that he knows too much even though his life was entirely different than his brother’s.”
Baden said that Mark Epstein called him the day Jeffrey Epstein was found unconscious in the Metropolitan Correctional Center and asked him to observe the autopsy, which he said seemed to suggest a homicide.
To battle opioid crisis, some track overdoses in real time
The information is entered into a new overdose-tracking system that provides near real-time glimpses into the ravages of the opioid-fueled drug crisis.
The Hudson Valley Interlink Analytic System is among a number of surveillance systems being adopted around the country by police, government agencies and community groups.
While the number of drug overdose deaths appears to have fallen nationally in 2018 for the first time in nearly three decades, the overdose death rate remains about seven times higher than a generation ago.
New Mexico teen gets 30 days in jail for killing man, shouting ‘that’s what you get!’ after shooting him
Santiago Armijo, 17, is one of two teens involved in the murder of Larry DeSantiago, 25, at a park in Albuquerque in March 2018.
Witnesses told investigators they saw DeSantiago chase Armijo and his friend, Jeremiah De La Pena, 16, toward the top of a hill before Armijo shot him in the chest.
On Thursday, Judge Christina Jaramillo sentenced Armijo to 30 days in juvenile jail after the teen, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, tampering with evidence, one misdemeanor count of unlawful possession of a handgun and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
While Armijo could’ve been held in detention until he turns 21, Jaramillo said she was choosing treatment for him, instead of incarceration.
She also ordered him to be on supervised probation and the teen will be required to speak at high schools to lecture students about the consequences of their actions.
Florida sheriff posts ‘drug house closed’ sign in front of home after undercover operations lead to arrest
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) released a photo Wednesday that showed Sheriff Rick Staly’s name emblazoned on the sign as deputies arrested 39-year-old Jarian Rahsaun Webb, a seven-time convicted felon, and led him out the front door of his Palm Coast home.
Webb’s arrest comes at the conclusion of several undercover operations over the last few months, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
The investigations were launched after residents in the neighborhood complained of suspected drug activity at the home.
American soldier killed in Afghanistan; Taliban claims responsibility
Following the U.S. military statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that the U.S. soldier was killed in the Chardara district in northern Kunduz province where U.S. and Afghan forces were carrying out a joint raid, The Associated Press reported.
Mujahid said the insurgents had planted a roadside bomb that killed the service member.
Monday’s death brings the number of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan this year to 20. There have also been three non-combat deaths this year.
More than 2,400 Americans have died in the nearly 18-year war.
Alabama woman, 19, shot as authorities open fire, raid home in search of man who was already in jail
Ann Rylee, 19, was at home in Wilmer on Thursday morning when Mobile County sheriff’s deputies and federal officers from Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Office descended upon her property, looking for Nicholas McLeod, a 41-year-old man who is the uncle of Rylee’s fiancé.
Investigators approached the house and detained two men outside, who told them there was a woman — Rylee — in the house, according to Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran, who told WALA-TV “this lady had armed herself with a shotgun and the entry team was giving her orders to drop the gun, put the gun down, drop the gun several times over a period of a few seconds it seems like.”
“She didn’t and she pointed the gun at one of them —
Elizabeth Warren wooed donors at top Manhattan restaurant boasting $6,600 wines
A dinner at the restaurant’s main dining room runs $134 for a three-course tasting menu — and that’s before the wine.
While customers can find wines such as the Chilean white La Ruptura at $48, Gramercy Tavern’s 34-page wine list also offers bottles of Burgundies costing $6,600, such as Domaine Coche-Dury’s 2013 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru.
Revelations of Warren’s own ritzy fundraisers come after her attacks on Buttigieg’s wealthy donor base.
The Washington Examiner reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once hosted donors and Democratic powerbrokers at the home of the California wine cave owners in 2014.
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Democratic lawmakers such as California Rep. Ami Bera headlined the event, which was for attendees who paid at least $32,400 to be members of the 2014 Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Speaker’s Cabinet.
Obama talks up Warren behind closed doors to wealthy donors
She has publicly bashed millionaires, has sworn off high-dollar fundraisers and has refused large checks from Democratic bundlers.
But behind the scenes in recent months, former President Obama has gone to bat for Warren (D-Mass.) when speaking to donors reluctant to support her given her knocks on Wall Street and the wealthy.
And if Warren becomes the nominee, Obama has said they must throw the entirety of their support behind her.
The former president has stopped short of an endorsement of Warren in these conversations and has emphasized that he is not endorsing in the Democratic primary race.
But he also has vouched for her credentials, making it clear in these private sessions that he deems her a capable candidate and potential president, sources say.
House Dems raise prospect of new impeachment articles, in court battle over McGahn testimony
The lawyer for House Judiciary Committee Democrats revealed in a Monday court filing that there is a possibility lawmakers could pursue even more articles of impeachment against President Trump — despite having already adopted two of them last week following a grueling, historic and bitterly partisan debate.
The prospect of additional articles — while perhaps unlikely — was floated as part of a court battle over Democrats’ bid to compel testimony from former White House Counsel Don McGahn.
Shortly before a 4 p.m. deadline imposed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the committee counsel filed a brief making their case for why they still want to hear from McGahn, despite having already voted for impeachment.
Day 5: Nancy Pelosi Still Delaying Extremely Urgent Removal of Trump
Before the vote, George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley warned his fellow Democrats in his expert testimony before the House Judiciary Committee that they were in danger of carrying out “the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president.”
But Democrats ignored his warnings, arguing that they had to impeach and remove Trump urgently to deter him from inviting foreign powers to intervene in the forthcoming 2020 presidential election.
It is not clear what, constitutional authority she has to withhold the articles; the Constitution provides (Article I, Section 3) that the Senate has sole power over trials of impeachments.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has mocked Pelosi’s idea of using the articles as leverage, criticizing the impeachment and noting that Republicans are not interested in removing the president from office anyway.
Bloomberg Created A Secret Tech Company Chock-Full Of Former Facebook Execs To Take On Trump
The former New York City mayor is using Hawkfish to help collect data on voters and promote his run for president, the report noted, citing communication with a spokeswoman with the Bloomberg campaign.
Two former Facebook big wigs are involved in the venture.
“Hawkfish appears to have been assembled in secret. It has no public website.
A search of elections databases turned up no financial records connected to work for other Democratic causes,” CNBC noted in its report, which also noted that Hawkfish will help Democrats running for office.
Schumer doubles down on push for impeachment trial subpoenas, as McConnell declares ‘impasse’
“Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration’s plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process,” Duffey said in the email, obtained by The Center for Public Integrity via a Freedom of Information Act request.
Duffey concluded by stating, “Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction.”
With the email fueling allegations of a quid pro quo, which Trump denies, Schumer claimed that the known existence of this message shows a need to obtain other records.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., meanwhile, has objected to Schumer’s demands for subpoenas, claiming it is not the Senate’s job to collect facts going into an impeachment trial — maintaining that was the role of the House impeachment inquiry.
FULL MEASURE: December 22, 2019 – Follow the Money: Earmarks
In this week’s follow the money – controversial political spending through Earmarks.
Many say it’s a sneaky way Democrats and Republicans in Congress spend taxpayer dollars – on projects that benefit them – but may not be best for all of us.
After much criticism, Republicans led the way to a ban on earmarks in 2011. But that doesn’t mean they were gone forever.
Joce Sterman talks with Tom Schatz, the head of the watchdog: Citizens Against Government Waste.
FULL MEASURE: December 22, 2019 – Secret Holds
In the odd inner workings of Congress, there’s something called a “legislative hold.”
It gives any individual senator the power to stop a nominee or a bill— put a hold on them.
The idea is to encourage negotiations between those for and against.
But sometimes the Senator making the hold keeps his name secret. Senator Chuck Grassley tells why he’s been trying for a decade to stop the secrecy.
CNN Panel: Trump’s America ‘Echoes’ Soviet Union, Third Reich
Sunday’s edition of Reliable Sources featured a ten-minute segment painting Republicans and President Trump as liars and trashing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
No member of the panel had more ridiculous analysis than Russian chess champ Garry Kasparov.
Host Brian Stelter brought up Kasparov’s opinion piece on the CNN website titled “I lived in the post-truth Soviet world and I hear its echoes in Trump’s America.” Stelter asked Kasparov: “is it this kind of mendacity that is the echo?”
Kasparov responded by calling 2019 America “even worse” than the Soviet Union:
Steve Hilton: The truth about impeachment
Commentary/Opinion: Steve Hilton recaps the week the House of Representatives formally voted to impeach President Trump.
Popular chat app is actually a spying tool of UAE government – report
A chat app that quickly became popular in the United Arab Emirates for communicating with friends and family is actually a spying tool used by the government to track its users, according to a New York Times report.
The government uses ToTok to track conversations, locations, images and other data of those who install the app on their phones, the Times reported, citing US officials familiar with a classified intelligence assessment and the newspaper’s own investigation.
The Emirates has long blocked Apple’s FaceTime, Facebook’s WhatsApp and other calling apps. Emirati media has been playing up ToTok as an alternative for expatriates living in the country to call home to their loved ones for free.
Government surveillance in the Emirates is prolific, and the Emirates long has been suspected of using so-called “zero day” exploits to target human rights activists and others.
Holiday wine in Philippines blamed for leaving nearly a dozen dead, 300 treated at hospital
The victims fell ill last week in Laguna and Quezon, two provinces south of Manila, after drinking the liquor, known as lambanog – which is made from coconut sap and can have an alcohol content as high as 40 percent, the BBC reported.
Health officials said the drink is used for celebratory occasions and is in especially high demand during the Christmas season, Reuters reported.
All the liquor that made revelers sick originated from a single distillery, according to local reports.
France’s first-ever armed drone strike kills 7 Islamic militants in Mali
A defense ministry statement said the drone strike took place Saturday while French President Emmanuel Macron was visiting neighboring Ivory Coast, where France has a military base. Macron already had announced that French forces had killed 33 extremists that day.
The drone strike targeted jihadists in the Ouagadou forest, where a group known as the Macina Liberation Front is active. French commandos “were attacked by a group of terrorists who infiltrated on motorcycles,” the ministry said.
“Working in a difficult environment, in a densely wooded region, this action was made possible by the action of ground troops supported by the air component,” the ministry said.
Iran’s leader ordered crackdown on unrest: ‘Do whatever it takes to end it’
That order, confirmed by three sources close to the supreme leader’s inner circle and a fourth official, set in motion the bloodiest crackdown on protesters since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on Nov. 15. The toll, provided to Reuters by three Iranian interior ministry officials, included at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as some members of the security forces and police.
The toll of 1,500 is significantly higher than figures from international human rights groups and the United States.
A Dec. 16 report by Amnesty International said the death toll was at least 304. The U.S. State Department, in a statement to Reuters, said it estimates that many hundreds of Iranians were killed, and has seen reports that number could be over 1,000.
Protesters rally near Hong Kong harbor, more demos planned over Christmas
As Hong Kong gears up for Christmas celebrations, the protesters plan wildcat gatherings in prime shopping malls and a ‘silent night’ rally on Tuesday evening.
The demonstrators gathered at the harborside on Monday sang “Glory to Hong Kong”, a protest anthem, and shone lights from their mobile phones.
Henry, a 28-year-old banker, said he was in the plaza to protest a recent police shutdown of Spark Alliance, a fund-raising platform for protesters.
He wore a Guy Fawkes mask from the movie “V for Vendetta”, which glowed green in the dark.
Mexican ambassador caught shoplifting book resigns citing health problems
Ricardo Valero, 77, cited health problems as he stepped down, and the Mexican foreign minister said he was undergoing neurological treatment.
Mr Valero was recalled this month after CCTV showed him taking a book from a Buenos Aires shop without paying.
He is now accused of the attempting to steal a shirt from an airport shop.
Bloomberg News Fined Over $7 Million for Fake News Report
The alleged statement said Vinci fired its chief financial officer and had discovered major accounting errors, prompting the company to issue updated figures for 2015 and the first two quarters of 2016, which resulted in a net loss instead of profits for the time period in question.
But the statement wasn’t actually from Vinci. It was posted on a website, vinci.group, that looked like Vinci’s site, vinci.com, but was not the company’s legitimate website.
The fake website included an erroneous address and a mobile phone number that didn’t match the number for Vinci’s spokesman, according to AFP.
After the report, shares of Vinci fell 18 percent, erasing six billion euros from the company’s value.
Vinci later issued a statement denying the report and its shares recovered. Vinci filed a legal complaint to the AMF.
Thai court to rule on case linking opposition to Illuminati
The complaint filed in July by lawyer Natthaporn Toprayoon charges that the Future Forward Party seeks to overthrow Thailand’s constitutional monarchy.
The new party, which won the third highest number of seats in a March general election, denies the allegation. It could be dissolved if convicted.
The court’s statement, made public Sunday, said no hearings would be held in the case because the court already had enough evidence.
No date for its ruling was specified.
Party spokeswoman Pannika Wanich said its request for a hearing was refused, but that it had sent the court documents in its defense.
China Announces Tariff Cuts on 850+ Imported Products
The announcement followed an interim trade agreement with Washington in a tariff war that has rattled financial markets.
The step adds to a series of tariff cuts over the past two years that Beijing says are aimed at improving supplies of consumer goods and encouraging competition.
Chinese officials say they should not be seen as concessions to U.S. pressure.
The latest step is intended to “promote the coordinated development of trade and environment,” the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Iran starts new operations at heavy water reactor
Ali Akbar Salehi explained to state TV that the secondary circuit transfers heat to the reactor’s cooling system. He said the entire reactor system will go online in 2021.
Heavy water helps cool reactors, producing plutonium as a byproduct that can potentially be used in nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Britain is helping Iran redesign the Arak reactor to limit the amount of plutonium it produces. London has filled the role left after the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal last year.
Saudi Arabia hands down 5 death sentences for Khashoggi’s killing, state TV says
Reuters, citing the public prosecutor, reported that three others were sentenced to jail terms totaling 24 years. All can appeal the verdicts.
State TV also reported the Saudi attorney general’s investigation showed that the crown prince’s former top adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, had no proven involvement in the killing.
Al-Qahtani, however, has been sanctioned by the United States for his alleged role in the operation.
The court also ruled that the Saudi consul-general in Istanbul at the time, Mohammed al-Otaibi, was not guilty. He was released from prison after the verdicts were announced, according to state TV.
FULL MEASURE: December 22, 2019 – Threat to Bases
Some experts claim rising sea levels may pose a risk to our national security, with strategic military bases facing chronic flooding…and loss of land.
Critics say the threat’s not real. Lisa Fletcher reports.