We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

AP

After being held in detention in Texas for months during his legal fight to remain in the U.S., Afghan soldier Abdul Wasi Safi is now a free man as he works to secure asylum in America. Wasi Safi fled Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. forces in August 2021, fearing reprisals from the Taliban. He was arrested in September near Eagle Pass, Texas, after crossing the Mexico border. He was freed earlier this week. On Friday, he told reporters in Houston that he looks forward to one day being able to live the American dream.

AP
  • Updated

Former Vice President Mike Pence says he takes “full responsibility” after classified documents were found at his Indiana home. Speaking at Florida International University on Friday, Pence said, “Let me be clear: Those classified documents should not have been in my personal residence.” He added, "Mistakes were made, and I take full responsibility.” The discovery made public by Pence’s team earlier this week marked the latest in a string of recoveries of sensitive papers from the homes of current and former top U.S. officials. The Department of Justice was already investigating the discovery of classified documents in former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and at President Joe Biden’s home in Delaware and his former Washington office.

AP
  • Updated

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration quietly ousted its former top official in Mexico last year over improper contact with lawyers for narcotraffickers. Nicholas Palmeri’s socializing and vacationing with Miami drug lawyers, detailed in confidential records obtained by the Associated Press, brought his ultimate downfall after just 14 months at the helm. But colleagues told the AP there were plenty of other red flags, including lax handling of the coronavirus pandemic that resulted in two sickened agents having to be airlifted out of the country. A separate internal probe found Palmeri used drug-fighting funds for inappropriate purposes, including to pay for his own birthday party.

AP
  • Updated

Newly released video shows the husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi struggling for control of a hammer with his assailant during an attack in the couple’s San Francisco home last year. The footage was released Friday after a coalition of news agencies, including The Associated Press, sought access to evidence prosecutors played in court during a preliminary hearing last month. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office had refused to make it available to journalists. The evidence includes portions of Paul Pelosi’s 911 call, as well as images from Capitol police surveillance cameras, a body camera worn by one of the responding police officers and a recording from the suspect's police interview. David DePape has pleaded not guilty in separate state and federal cases.

AP
  • Updated

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel has won her bid to lead the GOP for two more years. McDaniel prevailed Friday over Donald Trump attorney Harmeet Dhillon in a high-profile election that highlighted fierce internal divisions that threaten to plague the party into the next presidential season. While Donald Trump privately backed McDaniel, powerful forces from within his “Make America Great Again” movement lined up behind Dhillon. The victory makes McDaniel the longest-serving RNC chair since the Civil War, yet friends and foes alike agree that she will not be leading the RNC from a position of strength.

AP
  • Updated

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the second time this month, House Republicans have advanced a measure to restrict presidential use of the nation’s emergency oil stockpile — a proposal that has already drawn a White House veto threat.

AP

The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge eased further in December, and consumer spending fell — the latest evidence that the Fed’s series of interest rate hikes are slowing the economy. Prices rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from the 5.5% year-over-year increase in November. It was the third straight drop. Consumer spending fell 0.2% from November to December and was revised lower to show a drop of 0.1% from October to November. Last year’s holiday sales were sluggish for many retailers, and the overall spending figures for the final two months of 2022 were the weakest in two years.

AP
  • Updated

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Jeff Zients as his next White House chief of staff on Friday, tapping an experienced technocrat who headed his administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as Biden prepares for a reelection bid while facing an onslaught of investigations…

AP

New Russian shelling has killed at least 10 Ukrainian civilians and wounded 20 others in a day, according to the office of Ukraine’s president. Regional officials said Friday that towns and villages in the east and in the south that are within reach of the Russian artillery suffered most. Six people died in the Donetsk region, two in Kherson, and two in the Kharkiv region. A day earlier, missiles and self-propelled drones that Russian forces fired had hit deeper into Ukrainian territory, killing at least 11 people. The bombardments followed announcements by the United States and Germany of plans to ship powerful tanks to help Ukraine defend itself.

AP

Several years of pandemic restrictions and curriculum battles have emboldened longtime advocates of funneling public funds to private and religious schools in statehouses throughout the country. Republicans and parents’ rights activists are pushing voucher-style education savings account proposals in a dozen states that would allow students to use taxpayer dollars toward education outside traditional K-12 schools. The debates have inflamed teachers’ unions and resurfaced concerns about efforts to gradually privatize public education. If enacted, they could transform the nature of state government’s relationship with the education system and deepen contrasts between how going to school looks in many red versus blue states.

AP

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) — The Tanzanian government is seizing livestock from Indigenous Maasai herders in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in its latest attempt to clear way for tourism and trophy hunting, a report released Thursday said.

AP

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren’s name is on the U.S. Navy’s newest fuel ship. Justice Elena Kagan smashed a champagne bottle against its hull in a shipyard ceremony in San Diego last weekend. Two other justices soon will join Warren, who in 1954 wrote the Brown v. Board of Education decision that outlawed segregation in public schools. Their ships are in a group being named for civil rights leaders. The Navy has awarded contracts for the construction of the Thurgood Marshall and the Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Warren is not the first justice with a naval vessel bearing his name, though the earlier ones are lesser-known. Warren died in 1974.

AP
  • Updated

Hong Kong will ban CBD starting Wednesday, labeling it a “dangerous drug.” Cannabidiol, derived from the cannabis plant, was previously legal in Hong Kong, where bars and shops sold products containing it. But last year, Hong Kong authorities decided to prohibit its use. Customs authorities announced Friday that the ban would go into effect starting Feb. 1. CBD is one of many chemicals found in cannabis, a plant known more commonly as marijuana. Unlike its cousin THC, CBD doesn’t get users high. Supporters say CBD can treat a range of ailments. Others, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, say there’s not enough evidence to confirm its safety as a supplement.

AP

BANGKOK (AP) — The production of opium in Myanmar has flourished since the military's seizure of power, with the cultivation of poppies up by a third in the past year as eradication efforts have dropped off and the faltering economy has led more people toward the drug trade, according to a U…

AP
  • Updated

ALGECIRAS, Spain (AP) — Spanish police on Thursday raided the home of a young Moroccan man held over the machete attacks at two Catholic churches the previous night that left a church officer dead and a priest injured in the southern city of Algeciras.

AP
  • Updated

The National Archives has asked former presidents and vice presidents to recheck their personal records for any classified documents following the news that President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence had documents in the possession after they left office. The Archives sent a letter Thursday to the representatives of former presidents and vice presidents from former President Ronald Reagan to the present to ensure compliance on the issue of compliance with the Presidential Records Act, which states that any records created or received by the president are the property of the U.S. government and will be managed by the archives at the end of the administration.

AP
  • Updated

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Boeing pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge that it misled regulators who approved its 737 Max, the plane that was involved in two crashes that killed 346 people.

AP

The U.S. is poised to make COVID-19 vaccinations more like a yearly flu shot. The Food and Drug Administration's scientific advisers are helping to decide if most Americans may need once-a-year boosters — and how and when to periodically update the shots’ recipe. COVID-19 vaccines have saved millions of lives and booster doses continue to help, but protection can wane and the virus still is rapidly mutating. FDA's advisers say vaccination should be made simpler. Next steps also will include a spring meeting on whether to update the vaccine recipe against new virus strains.

AP

U.S. special operations forces have killed a senior Islamic State group official and 10 other terrorist operatives in remote northern Somalia.  Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says the operation in a mountainous cave complex targeted Bilal al-Sudani, a key financial facilitator for the global terrorist organization. President Joe Biden was briefed last week about the proposed mission that was months in the planning. He gave the final approval this week following the recommendation of Austin and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley, according to two officials who briefed reporters on the operation on the condition of anonymity. Pentagon officials say no civilians were injured or killed in the operation.

AP
  • Updated

The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annual pace from October through December, ending 2022 with momentum despite the pressure of high interest rates and widespread fears of a looming recession. Thursday’s government estimate showed that the nation’s gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of economic output — decelerated last quarter from the 3.2% annual growth rate it had posted from July through September. Most economists think the economy will slow further in the current quarter and slide into at least a mild recession by midyear. The economy got a boost last quarter from resilient consumer spending and the restocking of supplies by businesses. Federal government spending also helped lift GDP.

AP
  • Updated

The political jockeying for the California Senate seat on the 2024 ballot is well underway, even as Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has yet to say whether she'll run again. The latest to jump into the race is Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who rose to national prominence as the lead prosecutor in President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial. Schiff is joining what's expected to be a crowded field that already includes another member of the state's congressional delegation, Rep. Katie Porter. Feinstein, who joined the Senate in 1992, told reporters this week that she'll make a decision about 2024 in the “next couple of months.” In recent years, questions have arisen about her cognitive health and memory.

AP
  • Updated

Dramas over the mishandling of classified documents at a high level of the U.S. government aren't all new. Back in 1984, a schoolgirl in Pittsburgh showed up at her eighth grade class with a collection of classified papers — as a show-and-tell project. Thirteen-year-old Kristin Preble's dad had found them in his Cleveland hotel room several years earlier and taken them home as a souvenir. A different sort of show-and-tell is unfolding in Washington over the mishandling of state secrets by the Trump and now Biden administrations. That episode from nearly 40 years ago stands as a reminder that other presidents also have let secure information spill.

AP
  • Updated

CHONGWE, Zambia (AP) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen traveled from a small farm on a rural red clay road to a ramen noodle manufacturing plant in Zambia's bustling capitol of Lusaka on Tuesday to showcase Africa's potential to help solve the world's problems with food shortages.

AP
  • Updated

NEW DELHI (AP) — Days after India blocked a BBC documentary that examines Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role during 2002 anti-Muslim riots and banned people from sharing it online, authorities were scrambling to halt screenings of the program at colleges and restrict clips of it on social m…

AP

Australians are marking the 235th anniversary of British colonization. But the public holiday is stoking anger at Indigenous injustice and focusing national attention on a new government push to acknowledge Australia's original inhabitants in the constitution. Several large corporations have begun allowing staff the choice of having the holiday off, or working Thursday and taking another day off instead. The Australian government is also giving the option this year in recognition of growing public unease at celebrating the hoisting of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove in 1788. The focus on Australia’s checkered European history ignited debate Thursday about a referendum due late this year that would create an Indigenous body to address Parliament on Indigenous issues.

AP
  • Updated

Australians expect to vote this year in a referendum that would enshrine in the nation’s constitution a mechanism for Indigenous people to advise Parliament on policies that effect their lives known as the Voice. Proponents say embedding the Voice in the constitution would recognize the special place that Indigenous people have in Australian history while giving them input in government policies. Skeptics and opponents say Australians need more details before they vote on a proposal that risks dividing the nation along racial lines without reducing Indigenous disadvantage. As Australia’s first referendum in a generation approaches, the bipartisan support regarded as essential to successfully changing the constitution has yet to emerge and Indigenous leaders remain divided.

AP

Democratic congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan is taking steps toward seeking the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Debbie Stabenow. Just last fall Slotkin was fighting for her political life in the nation's third most-expensive U.S. House race. Now many consider her among the top Michigan Democrats preparing for a 2024 Senate campaign. Slotkin has work to do to make inroads with Black voters, a vital Democratic constituency in Michigan. But she has been the most aggressive in taking steps toward running among the several Democrats mentioned as Senate prospects.

AP
  • Updated

Facebook parent Meta says it will restore former President Donald Trump’s personal account in the coming weeks, ending a two-year suspension it imposed in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection. The company said in a blog post Wednesday it is adding “new guardrails” to ensure there are no “repeat offenders” who violate its rules. Trump was suspended on Jan. 7, a day after the deadly 2021 insurrection. Other social media companies also kicked him off their platforms, though he was recently reinstated on Twitter after Elon Musk took over the company. Responding to the news, Trump blasted Facebook’s original decision to suspend his account and praised Truth Social, the site he created after being blocked from Twitter.

AP

A Democratic National Committee panel has voted to give New Hampshire and Georgia more time to make changes that would allow both to be part of a revamped group of five states leading off the party’s presidential primary starting next year. But even as they voted to extend the deadline until June 3, members of the DNC rules committee complained about New Hampshire’s ongoing feud with the national party over the new calendar. The committee previously voted to replace Iowa in the leadoff spot with South Carolina, and have New Hampshire and Nevada go second, followed by Georgia and Michigan. Its latest vote Wednesday night gives New Hampshire and Georgia extra time to comply with those changes.

AP

U.S. officials balked for months at sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, insisting they were too complicated and too hard to maintain and repair. That has abruptly changed. Ukraine’s desperate pleas for tanks have been answered with a sweeping, trans-Atlantic yes. The U.S. now says it will send 31 of the 70-ton Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, and Germany says it will send 14 Leopard 2 tanks and allow other countries to do the same. The dramatic reversal was the culmination of intense international pressure and diplomatic arm-twisting that played out over the last week.

AP
  • Updated

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden says her Inauguration Day outfits, now featured in a Smithsonian museum exhibit about first ladies, were a “voice for me on one of the most important days of my life.”

AP

Supporters of abortion rights have filed separate lawsuits challenging abortion pill restrictions in North Carolina and West Virginia. The lawsuits were filed Wednesday. They are the opening salvo in what’s expected to a be a protracted legal battle over access to the medications. The lawsuits argue that state limits on the drugs run afoul of the federal authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency has approved the abortion pill as a safe and effective method for ending pregnancy. More than half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills rather than surgery.

AP
  • Updated

Germany and the United States have announced that they will send advanced battle tanks to Ukraine. It's the first stage of a coordinated effort by the West to provide dozens of the heavy weapons to help Kyiv break combat stalemates as Russia’s invasion enters its 12th month. U.S. President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the U.S. will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks. The decision reverses months of persistent arguments by Washington that they were too difficult for Ukrainian troops to operate and maintain. Germany agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from its own stocks. Germany had said the Leopards would not be sent unless the U.S. put its Abrams on the table.

AP
  • Updated

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the U.S. will send 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, reversing months of persistent arguments that the tanks were too difficult for Ukrainian troops to operate and maintain.

AP
  • Updated

A new report on mass attacks calls for communities to intervene early when they see warning signs of violence. The report also encourages businesses to consider workplace violence prevention plans and highlights the connection between domestic violence, misogyny and mass attacks. The report comes from the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center. The center's report analyzed 173 mass attacks carried out over a five-year period from January 2016 to December 2020 in public or semi-public places such as businesses, schools or churches. The U.S. is experiencing a particularly deadly start to the new year with 39 people dead in six mass killings.

AP
  • Updated

The Justice Department and eight states have filed an antitrust suit against Google. The suit seeks to shatter Google's alleged monopoly on the entire ecosystem of online advertising as a hurtful burden to advertisers, consumers and even the U.S. government. The government alleges that Google’s plan to assert dominance has been to “neutralize or eliminate” rivals through acquisitions and to force advertisers to use its products by making it difficult to use competitors’ products. Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., says the suit “doubles down on a flawed argument that would slow innovation, raise advertising fees, and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow.”

AP

Chris Hipkins has been sworn in as New Zealand’s prime minister, following the unexpected resignation last week of Jacinda Ardern. The 44-year-old Hipkins has promised a back-to-basics approach focusing on the economy and what he described as the “pandemic of inflation.” He will have less than nine months before contesting a tough general election, with opinion polls indicating his Labour Party is trailing its conservative opposition. Hipkins said he is "energized and excited by the challenges that lie ahead.” Carmel Sepuloni was sworn in as deputy prime minister. She's the first person with Pacific Island heritage to take on the role.

AP

An independent investigation into logging in the Liberian rainforest found illegal operations “on a significant scale,” with multiple missteps or breaches of law by the government agency charged with protecting those forests. That's according to a copy obtained by The Associated Press. The report was finished in 2020 but has never been made public despite activists' calls to publish its findings. Those findings included a recommendation that President George Weah order a special inquiry into what went wrong. Four sources familiar with the report told AP that Weah has ignored repeated calls from the European Union, United States and United Kingdom to act in response to the report. Weah denied to AP that he's repeatedly been made aware of problems with rainforest oversight.

AP
  • Updated

Officials say the U.S. is poised to approve sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, as international reluctance to send tanks to the battlefront against the Russians appeared to begin eroding. According to one official, the U.S. announcement to send a bit more than 30 tanks is expected to come Wednesday in coordination with an announcement by Germany that it will approve Poland’s request to transfer German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Officials say the Abrams tanks could be bought under an upcoming Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative package, which provides longer-range funding for weapons and equipment to be purchased from commercial vendors. Weapons provided through the assistance initiative can take months to reach the battlefield.

AP
  • Updated

ATLANTA (AP) — A judge said Tuesday that a final report produced by a special grand jury tasked with investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies broke the law as they tried to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia will remain under wraps for now.

AP
  • Updated

Documents with classified markings were discovered in former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home last week, according to his attorney. It's just the latest in a string of recoveries of sensitive information from the homes of current and former top U.S. officials. The Pence documents had been “inadvertently boxed” and transported to Pence's home at the end of the Trump administration, Pence’s lawyer told the National Archives in a letter last week. He said that “Pence was unaware of the existence of sensitive or classified documents at his personal residence” and stands ready to cooperate with "any appropriate inquiry. ”

AP
  • Updated

The University of Wisconsin System has joined a number of universities across the country in banning the popular social media app TikTok on school devicies. UW System officials made the announcement Tuesday. A number of other universities have banned TikTok in recent weeks, including Auburn, Arkansas State and Oklahoma. Nearly half the states have banned the app on state-owned devices, including Wisconsin, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and South Dakota. Congress also recently banned TikTok from most U.S. government-issued devices over bipartisan concerns about security. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. Critics say the Chinese government could access user data.

AP
  • Updated

Senators grilled Ticketmaster Tuesday about its spectacular breakdown last year during a sale of Taylor Swift concert tickets. Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee debated possible action, including making tickets non-transferable to cut down on scalping and requiring more transparency in ticket fees. Some suggested it may also be necessary to split Ticketmaster and concert promoter Live Nation, which merged in 2010. Ticketmaster is the world’s largest ticket seller, processing 500 million tickets each year. In mid-November, Ticketmaster’s site crashed during a presale event for Swift’s upcoming stadium tour. The Justice Department has also opened an investigation into the breakdown.

AP
  • Updated

For many American schoolchildren, school lunch consists of mass-produced, reheated meals they would rather skip. A small but growing number of school districts are upgrading their cafeteria menus with local organic produce, grass-fed meats and recipes made from scratch. On the outskirts of San Francisco, one school district has hired a former fine-dining chef. He's using the skills he learned in the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants to reimagine what school lunch can be. At a recent student taste testing, the chef served homemade baguette sandwiches and free-range chicken simmered in a chipotle broth.

AP
  • Updated

HELSINKI (AP) — Finland’s foreign minister suggested Tuesday that the country may consider joining NATO without neighboring Sweden if Turkey continues to block their joint bid to enter the military alliance.

AP
  • Updated

Lessons learned from the debt ceiling standoff more than a decade ago are rippling through Washington. Back in 2011, newly elected House Republicans were eager to confront the Democratic president and force spending cuts. When Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling, the government risked a catastrophic default and suffered a devastating credit downgrade. Now the White House and Congress are bracing for another debt ceiling showdown — one that appears headed toward a very similar outcome. The Treasury Department has notified Congress it’s time to again raise the nation’s debt ceiling, now standing at $31 trillion, to allow more borrowing to pay off the country’s accumulated bills.