Winter storm packing snow, freezing rain moves across US
CHICAGO (AP) — A winter storm is bringing a mix of rain, freezing rain and snow to the central U.S. Airlines canceled thousands of flights, officials are urging people to stay off roads and schools are closed. Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan are seeing freezing rain, sleet and snow. The heaviest snow is expected in Indiana and Illinois. The central Illinois town of Lewiston has already gotten more than a foot of snow and the northeastern Missouri city of Hannibal has nearly a foot. Significant ice accumulation is expected in an area from Louisville, Kentucky, to Memphis, Tennessee.
NAVY BRIBERY SCANDAL
Ex-Navy captain pleads guilty in massive bribery case
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A former U.S. Navy captain has pleaded guilty to bribery for accepting nearly $68,000 worth of dinners, hotels, parties and prostitute services from a Malaysian defense contractor. Prosecutors say Donald Hornbeck of Indiana entered the plea Wednesday in San Diego federal court. Authorities say Hornbeck acknowledged that in 2007 and 2008 he took bribes from Leonard Francis to provide classified Navy information and steer ships to Western Pacific ports where the contractor’s company offered services. Hornbeck is one of 34 Navy officials and defense contractors charged in a massive fraud and birbery case involving the Navy’s 7th Fleet. Authorities say the scheme cost the Navy some $35 million.
Senate Dem leader meets with Biden to talk Supreme Court
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden had Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over to the White House on Wednesday to talk about how to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court. That’s according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity. Biden has promised to nominate the first Black woman to the high court as he fills the spot being vacated by Justice Stephen Breyer, who is retiring at the end of this term. The president has already amassed a list of potential candidates that includes women with a range of professional expertise, from federal defenders to longtime judges and academics.
Army to immediately start discharging vaccine refusers
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Army says it will immediately begin discharging soldiers who have refused to get the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, putting more than 3,300 service members at risk of being thrown out soon. The Army’s announcement makes it the final military service to lay out its discharge policy for vaccine refusers. The Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy have already discharged active-duty troops or entry-level personnel at boot camps for refusing the shots. So far, the Army has not discharged any. Roughly 97% of all Army soldiers have gotten at least one shot. More than 3,000 have requested medical or religious exemptions.
Florida man gets 16 years for spreading terrorist propaganda
MIAMI (AP) — A Florida man has been sentenced to 16 years in federal prison for distributing Islamic terrorist propaganda videos online. Court records show that Jonathan Guerra Blanco was sentenced last Friday in Miami federal court. Blanco is a Cuban-born naturalized U.S. citizen. He pleaded guilty in December 2020 to attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. According to court documents, federal investigators learned in 2019 that Guerra Blanco was following instructions that the Islamic State terrorist group widely distributed, directing adherents to publish propaganda. Prosecutors say he was also translating the group’s materials into Spanish for his target audience.
Biden orders forces to Europe amid stalled Ukraine talks
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is ordering 2,000 U.S. troops to Poland and Germany amid the stalled talks with Russia over the Kremlin’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders. The U.S. is also moving roughly 1,000 troops to Romania from an infantry squadron based in Germany. U.S. officials from Biden on down say no American forces will be sent to Ukraine itself to fight, even with the threat of a Russian invasion. Still, Russia reacted angrily to the latest troop announcement, calling it “destructive.” The United States says the new military movements are meant to reassure allies — and remind Russia — of America’s commitment to NATO’s eastern flank in the region.
Mississippi governor signs law allowing medical marijuana
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi will join the majority of states in allowing medical marijuana. Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill Wednesday to create a medical marijuana program for people with serious illnesses. The bill passed with bipartisan support. It became law as soon as the governor signed it. Mississippi voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in 2020. But the state Supreme Court invalidated it six months later by ruling it was not properly on the ballot. The new law allows patients to buy up to to 3.5 grams of cannabis per day, up to six days a week. That is about 3 ounces per month.
Adulterated cocaine kills 17, sickens 56 in Argentina
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Apparently adulterated cocaine has killed 17 people and seriously sickened 56 others in Buenos Aires, sending Argentine authorities on a frantic search for the remainder of the deadly batch before it is consumed. Experts are still analyzing the drug to determine what was in it that caused the deaths. Judicial officials said Wednesday that the main hypothesis is that the cocaine was intentionally adulterated as part of a settling of scores between traffickers. An Argentine prosecutor says the event is “absolutely exceptional; we have no precedent.” Police say that the cocaine was sold in the poor neighborhood “Puerta 8” in a northern suburb of Buenos Aires and that a dozen people have been arrested.
Parents of Missouri student sue fraternity over hazing
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The parents of a University of Missouri student from Minnesota are suing a fraternity after their son suffered serious brain injuries during a pledge party. Authorities say Daniel Santulli’s blood alcohol content was more than six times the legal limit for driving on Oct. 20 when he was found unresponsive in a car parked at University Hospital. The parents’ lawsuit says Santulli, who is from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, remains unresponsive with a significant brain injury. The lawsuit alleges pledges at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity were expected to drink an entire bottle of alcohol as part of a fraternity tradition. Ron Caudill, the fraternity’s national executive director, said in a statement that the fraternity is reviewing the lawsuit.
Sen. Luján to be out at least 4 weeks, Biden agenda at risk
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democrats’ fragile hold on the Senate majority has become vividly apparent with the sudden illness of of New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Luján. Word of the senator’s stroke sent shock waves through the party. Luján’s office says he is expected to make a full recovery, and a senior aide says that barring complications, the senator will be back at work in four to six weeks. With Luján’s absence, Democrats no longer have full working control of the evenly split Senate unless they pick up votes from Republicans. Already some routine confirmation proceedings have ground to a halt, threatening President Joe Biden’s potential Supreme Court nominee and already lagging legislative agenda.
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