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William Barr says he didn't overstep in Durham probe of Mueller investigation

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WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr on Wednesday stood by his 2019 appointment of prosecutor John H. Durham to investigate the origins of the inquiry into the 2016 Trump presidential campaign’s connections to Russia, and defended his close interactions with Durham during the probe.

Barr’s comments marked the first ...Read more

Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Chicago police officer in newly released video of man being beaten while in custody was captured in other viral footage the same year

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CHICAGO — One of the two Chicago police officers in a video released this week of a man being beaten while in custody was also captured in footage of a suspect being body-slammed on a city street the same year, records show.

Damien Stewart and community organizer William Calloway held a news conference at City Hall to discuss the video of the...Read more

Joshua Boucher/The State/TNS

Cellphone video played in court could put Alex Murdaugh at scene of 2 murders

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WALTERBORO, S.C. — Two childhood friends of Paul Murdaugh’s each took the witness stand Wednesday to tell a jury that a third voice heard on a cellphone video, recorded minutes before Paul and his mother, Maggie, were murdered, is the voice of his father, Alex Murdaugh.

The 58-second video, played to the jury on the eighth day of Murdaugh�...Read more

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General Atomics offers 2 Reaper drones to Ukraine for $1

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego's General Atomics Aeronautical Systems recently offered to provide two MQ-9 Reaper drones to Ukraine for $1 but first must get approval from the U.S. government.

In a public statement released Wednesday, General Atomics Aeronautical Chief Executive Linden Blue confirmed that the company recently proposed transferring ...Read more

Anna Moneymaker/New York Daily News/TNS

Tenants' lawsuit against management company owned by Kushner family allowed to proceed, appellate court rules

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BALTIMORE — A lawsuit alleging that a Baltimore-area apartment management company owned by former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law illegally charged additional fees on late rent payments can proceed, the Appellate Court of Maryland ruled this week.

The ruling by the state’s second-highest court is a loss for Westminster Management LLC,...Read more

John Spink/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS

Do Georgia voter challenges amount to intimidation? Judge to decide

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. — A federal judge questioned Wednesday whether sweeping challenges to the eligibility of hundreds of thousands of Georgia voters amounted to voter intimidation by Texas-based True the Vote, a conservative organization that has promoted unproven claims of election fraud.

But an attorney for True the Vote responded that Georgia...Read more

Maria Dryfhout/Dreamstime/TNS

Feds investigate ex-Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson for alleged bribery in pot licensing

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LANSING, Mich. — FBI agents and a federal grand jury have spent more than two years investigating whether former Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson and others received bribes in return for awarding state licenses to operate medical marijuana facilities, The Detroit News has learned.

The probe has the potential to raise new questions about ...Read more

California Highway Patrol/California Highway Patrol/TNS

Before LA driver's alleged 'reign of terror,' he was accused of violence, threats of murder

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LOS ANGELES — Before he was arrested and charged this week in what prosecutors described as a "reign of terror" on Southern California roadways, the driver seen on video attacking other vehicles with a pipe had a history of enraged outbursts, vicious threats and domestic violence, according to authorities and court documents.

For weeks, the ...Read more

Kerry Burke/New York Daily News/TNS

Ex-cons remain in custody in connection with 3-borough crime spree targeting 13 victims

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NEW YORK — Optimism was in short supply Wednesday for two ex-cons busted in a three-borough, two-hour armed crime spree — despite one suspect’s bold prediction of a short stay behind bars.

Suspects Alvin Velez, 34, and Carlos Perez, 24, remained in custody pending a Manhattan Federal Court appearance after robbing 13 people at gunpoint ...Read more

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Grieving relatives identify woman, 96, found in Chicago freezer while her daughter charged in death

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CHICAGO — Regina Michalski made homemade kolaczki and planted beautiful flowers in her Northwest Side backyard every year. Born in Poland in 1926, the “very smart” 96-year-old retired Motorola technician was fluent in German and Russian and lived through the Nazi occupation during World War II, her relatives said.

Many “wonderful’' ...Read more

Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Tom Girardi, disgraced LA lawyer and 'Real Housewives' spouse, indicted on fraud charges

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LOS ANGELES — Tom Girardi, the once-vaunted Los Angeles trial attorney, was indicted by federal grand juries in two states on fraud charges that allege he swindled more than $18 million from several clients who had endured catastrophic injuries or tragic deaths of loved ones, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

In Chicago, Girardi and his son-in...Read more

Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

House panel votes to recite pledge, but not without a partisan quarrel first

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WASHINGTON — What started as an amendment about the Pledge of Allegiance devolved into a heated and prolonged debate Wednesday between members of the House Judiciary Committee during their first meeting of the new Congress.

The committee met to approve panel rules for the new Congress. But the jostling on a seemingly benign measure previews ...Read more

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Biden, McCarthy make 'no promises' on debt, will keep talking

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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy left a White House meeting with President Joe Biden on Wednesday afternoon saying they had a “good conversation,” but made “no agreements, no promises” in regard to the debt limit.

The California Republican reiterated his position that he wants to lift the debt limit in a “sensible, ...Read more

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Epic California snowpack is now the deepest it's been in decades

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Drought-weary California is entering February with deeper snowpack than it has seen in four decades, reflecting a healthy boost in the state's supply of water but also spurring concerns about dryness in the months ahead.

Statewide Sierra snowpack was 205% of normal for the date on Wednesday, said officials with the Department of Water Resources...Read more

News briefs

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DC transit worker fatally shot trying to stop gunman; 2 others wounded

A Metro transit employee was killed as he confronted a gunman who had already shot and wounded two people during a violent rampage at a train platform in Washington, D.C., police said.

The violence kicked off Wednesday morning on a Metrobus near 14th Street and Potomac ...Read more

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At Tyre Nichols' funeral, Kamala Harris calls for national police reform

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Congress must act to pass national police reform, Vice President Kamala Harris told mourners at the Wednesday funeral of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who died after being beaten bloody by Memphis police officers last month.

Harris’ trip to the Southern city comes five days after Memphis officials released nearly...Read more

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New details emerge in Haiti president's slaying as newly charged suspects appear in court

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MIAMI — He’s a physician and pastor who aspired to be Haiti’s president, amassing a small group of supporters who introduced him to key security contacts in South Florida who could help him acquire high-powered machine guns and silencers, men with military training and even financing.

But despite evidence that appeared like he was a ...Read more

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A 'most partisan' committee drops its gun ban

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Some members of the House Natural Resources Committee could be packing heat when they gather in the new session of Congress.

The panel on Wednesday dropped a rule it adopted in 2021, when Democrats were in the majority, that expressly prohibited its members from bringing firearms into their hearing room.

The committee, a common stage for ...Read more

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Merck COVID drug linked to new virus mutations, study says

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Merck & Co.’s COVID-19 pill is giving rise to new mutations of the virus in some patients, according to a study that underscores the risk of trying to intentionally alter the pathogen’s genetic code.

Some researchers worry the drug may create more contagious or health-threatening variations of COVID, which has killed more than 6.8 million ...Read more


12 squirrel monkeys stolen from Louisiana zoo

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A dozen squirrel monkeys were stolen from a Louisiana zoo over the weekend, days before two monkeys were taken from the Dallas Zoo.

Zoosiana, which is located in Broussard, outside of Lafayette, said the theft occurred shortly before midnight on Saturday.

“The individual targeted facilities of smaller primates and specifically compromised ...Read more