Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years for seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 attack
WASHINGTON (AP) — Oath Keepers extremist group founder Stewart Rhodes was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison for orchestrating a weekslong plot that culminated in his followers attacking the U.S. Capitol in a bid to keep President Joe Biden out of the White House after winning the 2020 election.
Rhodes, 58, is the first person convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack to receive his punishment, and his sentence is the longest handed down so far in the hundreds of Capitol riot cases.
It’s another milestone for the Justice Department’s sprawling Jan. 6 investigation, which has led to seditious conspiracy convictions against the top leaders of two far-right extremist groups authorities say came to Washington prepared to fight to keep President Donald Trump in power at all costs.
“The Justice Department will continue to do everything in our power to hold accountable those criminally responsible for the January 6th attack on our democracy,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
In a first for a Jan. 6 case, the judge agreed with the Justice Department that Rhodes' actions should be punished as “terrorism,” which increases the recommended sentence under federal guidelines. That decision could foreshadow lengthy sentences down the road for other far-right extremists, including former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who have also been convicted of the rarely used charge.
Deadline looming, Biden and McCarthy narrow in on budget deal to lift debt ceiling
WASHINGTON (AP) — Days from a deadline, President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are narrowing in on a two-year budget deal aiming to curb federal deficits in exchange for lifting the nation's debt ceiling and staving off an economically devastating government default.
The Democratic president and Republican speaker hope to strike a budget compromise this weekend. With Republicans driving for steep cuts, the two sides have been unable to agree to spending levels for 2024 and 2025. Any deal would need to be a political compromise, with support from both Democrats and Republicans to pass the divided Congress.
But the budget flow isn't the only hang-up.
A person familiar with the talks said the two sides are “dug in” on whether or not to agree to Republican demands to impose stiffer work requirements on people who receive government food stamps, cash assistance and health care aid, some of the most vulnerable Americans.
Yet both Biden and McCarthy expressed optimism heading into the weekend that the gulf between their positions could be bridged. A two-year deal would raise the debt limit for that time, past the 2024 presidential election.
Texas lawmakers issue 20 articles of impeachment against state Attorney General Ken Paxton
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton teetered on the brink of impeachment Thursday after years of scandal, criminal charges and corruption accusations that the state's Republican majority had largely met with silence until now.
In an unanimous decision, a Republican-led House investigative committee that spent months quietly looking into Paxton recommended impeaching the state's top lawyer on 20 articles, including bribery, unfitness for office and abuse of public trust. The House could vote on the recommendation as soon as Friday. If it impeaches Paxton, he would be forced to leave office immediately.
The move sets up what could be a remarkably sudden downfall for one of the GOP's most prominent legal combatants, who in 2020 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn President Joe Biden's victory. Only two officials in Texas’ nearly 200-year history have been impeached.
Paxton has been under FBI investigation for years over accusations that he used his office to help a donor. He was separately indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015, but has yet to stand trial.
When the five-member committee's investigation came to light Tuesday, Paxton suggested it was a political attack by the House's “liberal” Republican speaker, Dade Phelan. He called for Phelan’s resignation and accused him of being drunk during a marathon session last Friday. Phelan’s office brushed off the accusation as Paxton attempting to “save face.”
Indiana doctor reprimanded for talking publicly about Ohio 10-year-old's abortion
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana board decided Thursday night to reprimand an Indianapolis doctor after finding that she violated patient privacy laws by taking publicly about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim from neighboring Ohio.
The state Medical Licensing Board voted that Dr. Caitlin Bernard didn’t abide by privacy laws by telling a newspaper reporter about the girl’s treatment in a case that became a political flashpoint in the national abortion debate days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.
The board, however, rejected accusations from Indiana’s Republican attorney general that Bernard violated state law by not reporting the child abuse to Indiana authorities. Board members chose to fine Bernard $3,000 for the violations, turning down a request from the attorney general’s office to suspend Bernard’s license.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A hearing on possible disciplinary action opened Thursday for an Indianapolis doctor who spoke publicly about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio, with finger pointing over how the case became a political flashpoint in the national abortion debate.
Body-cam footage shows indicted ex-police officers laughing at man who died in their custody
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Three former police officers who were indicted by a Mississippi grand jury joked around about a Black man who died in their custody, with one of them questioning whether to call an ambulance for the man immediately, body-camera footage shows.
Officials in the state capital of Jackson announced Wednesday that a Mississippi grand jury had indicted two former police officers on murder charges and another ex-officer on a manslaughter charge in the death of Keith Murriel, who is seen on video being pinned down and repeatedly shocked with stun guns during a New Year’s Eve arrest. The city released hours of body-camera footage detailing the encounter, which The Associated Press reviewed.
The officers had tackled Murriel while arresting him for allegedly trespassing at a hotel after they asked him to leave the building's parking lot. The footage showed then-officers Avery Willis, Kenya McCarty and James Land struggling to handcuff Murriel as he was stunned numerous times for over 10 minutes.
McCarty and Willis are Black, and Land is white, according to Melissa Faith Payne, a city spokesperson.
After officers handcuffed Murriel, they placed him horizontally in the back of a patrol car. Seventeen minutes of the hourlong body-camera footage shows officers trying to place Murriel inside the vehicle. The remaining 43 minutes of the footage don’t show paramedics arriving or the officers checking on Murriel to see if he needed immediate medical aid. The footage is broken up into multiple clips, and it is unclear whether officers attended to Murriel off-camera.
Pentagon says allies will unite to train Ukrainians on F-16s, but warns jets aren't 'magic weapons'
WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that European allies are developing a coordinated program to train Ukrainian forces on the F-16 fighter jet, but Pentagon leaders warned that it will be a costly and complex task and won't be a magic solution to the war.
Austin said the allies recognize that in addition to training, Ukraine will also need to be able to sustain and maintain the aircraft and have enough munitions. And he said air defense systems are still the weapons that Ukraine needs most in the broader effort to control the airspace.
“There are no magic weapons,” said Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who spoke alongside Austin at a Pentagon press conference. He said providing 10 F-16s could cost $2 billion, including maintenance.
"The Russians have a thousand fourth and fifth-generation fighters, so if you’re going to contest Russia in the air, you’re going to need a substantial amount of fourth and fifth-generation fighters."
As a result, he said, allies did the right thing by first providing Ukraine with a significant amount of integrated air defense to cover the battlespace. He said F-16s have a future role as part of Ukraine's air capabilities, but it's “going to take a considerable length of time to build up an air force that’s the size and scope and scale that would be necessary.”
Ford electric vehicle owners to get access to Tesla Supercharger network starting next spring
DETROIT (AP) — All of Ford Motor Co.'s current and future electric vehicles will have access to about 12,000 Tesla Supercharger stations in the U.S. and Canada starting next spring.
Ford CEO Jim Farley and Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the agreement Thursday during a “Twitter Spaces” audio chat.
“We think this is a huge move for our industry and for all electric customers,” Farley said.
Musk said he didn't want Tesla's network to be a “walled garden” and that he wants to use it to support sustainable transportation.
“It is our intent to do everything possible to support Ford and have Ford be on an equal footing at Tesla Superchargers,” Musk said.
UN peacekeeping on 75th anniversary: successes, failures and challenges ahead in a divided world
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — On the 75th anniversary of U.N. peacekeeping, the United Nations chief said Thursday that peacekeepers are increasingly working in places where there is no peace and praised the more than 4,200 who have given their lives to the cause of peace since the U.N. authorized its first military deployment in 1948.
It was a day to look back at the successes of peacekeeping from Liberia to Cambodia and its major failures in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, but also to the challenges ahead, including dealing with more violent environments, fake news campaigns, and a divided world that is preventing peacekeeping’s ultimate goal: successfully restoring stable governments.
And it was a day to honor the more than 2 million peacekeepers from 125 countries who have served in 71 operations since the U.N. Security Council sent those first military observers to supervise implementation of Israeli-Arab armistice agreements following their war.
At a ceremony honoring the fallen peacekeepers, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked the hundreds of uniformed military officers and diplomats to stand for a moment of silence in their memory and then presented medals for the 103 peacekeepers killed in 2022 to ambassadors from their 39 home countries. And at the start of a U.N. Security Council meeting on peace in Africa shortly after, all those in the chamber stood in tribute to peacekeepers who paid the ultimate price.
The secretary-general told the ceremony, after laying a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial on the lawn at U.N. headquarters, that what began 75 years ago “as a bold experiment” in the Mideast “is now a flagship enterprise of our organization.” For civilians caught in conflict, he said, peacekeepers are “a beacon of hope and protection.”
'Romeo & Juliet' stars' lawsuit over 1968 film's teen nude scene tossed
A Los Angeles County judge on Thursday said she will dismiss a lawsuit that the stars of 1968's “Romeo and Juliet" filed over the film's nude scene, finding that their depiction could not be considered child pornography and they filed their claim too late.
Superior Court Judge Alison Mackenzie ruled in favor of a motion from defendant Paramount Pictures to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Olivia Hussey, who played Juliet at age 15 and is now 72, and Leonard Whiting, who played Romeo at 16 and is also 72.
Mackenzie determined that the scene was protected by the First Amendment, finding that the actors “have not put forth any authority showing the film here can be deemed to be sufficiently sexually suggestive as a matter of law to be held to be conclusively illegal.”
In her written decision, she also found that the suit didn't fall within the bounds of a California law that temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, and that a February re-release of the film did not change that.
The actors' attorney denounced the decision and said they plan to file another version of the suit in federal court.
Celtics thrive on 3s, beat Heat 110-97 in Game 5 to extend East finals
BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics have looked elimination in the face four times this postseason and still haven't blinked.
Derrick White had 24 points, including six 3-pointers, and the Celtics dominated the Miami Heat 110-97 on Thursday night in Game 5 to extend the Eastern Conference finals.
Marcus Smart had 23 points and five steals. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finished with 21 points apiece as the Celtics won their second straight and trimmed Miami’s series lead to 3-2. The Celtics are halfway to becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
“We’ve got to do whatever it takes to get a win," White said.
Boston also survived two elimination games in the second round against the 76ers. Teams that fell behind 3-0 are 0-150 all-time in series.