Six American oil executives held for three years in Venezuela were found guilty of corruption charges by a judge Thursday and immediately sentenced to prison, dashing hopes of a quick release that would send them home to their families in the United States.
Some relatives had been bracing for the disheartening outcome, which came on the evening of Thanksgiving Day. Read More
German media giant Bertelsmann said Wednesday that its Penguin Random House division is buying rival Simon & Schuster in a megadeal that would reshape the U.S. publishing industry.
Penguin Random House, already the largest American publisher, will buy the New York-based Simon & Schuster, whose authors include Stephen King, Hillary Clinton and John Irving, from TV and film company ViacomCBS for $2.17 billion in cash. Read More
Iran’s supreme leader on Saturday demanded the “definitive punishment” of those behind the killing of a scientist who led Tehran’s disbanded military nuclear program, as the Islamic Republic blamed Israel for a slaying that has raised fears of reignited tensions across the Middle East.
After years of being in the shadows, the image of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh suddenly was to be seen everywhere in Iranian media, as his widow spoke on state television and officials publicly demanded revenge on Israel for the scientist’s slaying. Read More
An Iranian scientist named by the West as the leader of the Islamic Republic’s disbanded military nuclear program was killed Friday in an ambush on the outskirts of Tehran, authorities said.
Iran’s foreign minister alleged the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh bore “serious indications” of an Israeli role, but did not elaborate. Israel, long suspected of killing several Iranian nuclear scientists a decade ago, declined to immediately comment. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once told the public to “remember that name” when talking about Fakhrizadeh. Read More
A federal judge on Thursday blocked a Trump administration rule about to take effect that would have put up new roadblocks for asylum-seekers convicted of a variety of crimes.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco said the rule “sweeps too broadly” and was unnecessary because current federal law already includes a host of disqualifying crimes such as drug trafficking, money laundering and counterfeiting. Read More
President-elect Joe Biden is adding four Obama-Biden administration veterans to his top ranks as he continues to build out his White House team.
Cathy Russell, who was Jill Biden’s chief of staff during the Obama administration, will serve as director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, evaluating applicants for administration roles. Louisa Terrell, who served as a legislative adviser to the president in the Obama administration and worked as deputy chief of staff for Biden in the Senate, will be director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. Terrell has already been engaged in Capitol Hill outreach as part of Biden’s transition team. Read More
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday became the first top American diplomat to visit an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank as the State Department in a major policy shift announced that products from the settlements can be labeled “Made in Israel.”
The two moves reflected the Trump administration’s acceptance of Israeli settlements, which the Palestinians and most of the international community view as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace. Read More
Pfizer said Wednesday that new test results show its coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective, is safe and also protects older people most at risk of dying — the last data needed to seek emergency use of limited shot supplies as the catastrophic outbreak worsens across the globe. Read More
by Doug Ferguson AUGUSTA, Georgia (AP) — In this one-of-a-kind Masters that had no fans and no roars, Dustin Johnson made sure it had no drama. And when he polished off his five-shot victory Sunday with lowest score in tournament history, he had no words. Only tears. Looking smart… Read More
Walt Disney Co. reported fiscal fourth-quarter loss on Thursday thanks largely to changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its earnings were dragged by costs from restructuring related to its streaming services and lost revenue from its California theme parks, which remain closed amid surging coronavirus cases in the U.S. Read More
The governors of California, Oregon and Washington issued travel advisories Friday urging people entering or returning to their states to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the coronavirus as infections spike across the U.S.
The advisories stopped short of stricter rules imposed by other governors and instead said people should avoid non-essential out-of-state travel and quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country. Read More
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took legal action Friday to shut down a pipeline that carries oil beneath a channel linking two of the Great Lakes.
Whitmer’s office notified Canadian company Enbridge Inc. that it was revoking an easement granted 67 years ago to extend a roughly 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) section of the pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac. The revocation takes effect in 180 days, when the flow of oil must stop. Read More
An explosion at a Saudi cemetery where American and European officials were commemorating the end of World War I wounded three people Wednesday, according to official statements.
The attack in the city of Jiddah follows on the heels of a stabbing last month that lightly wounded a guard at the French Consulate in the same city. It’s not clear what motivated the stabbing or Wednesday’s blast, but France has been the target of three attacks in recent weeks that authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists. Read More
Pope Francis pledged Wednesday to rid the Catholic Church of sexual abuse and offered prayers to victims of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a day after the Vatican released a detailed report into the decadeslong church cover-up of his sexual misconduct.
The Vatican report blamed a host of bishops, cardinals and popes for downplaying and dismissing mountains of evidence of McCarrick’s misconduct starting in the 1990s — but largely spared Francis. Instead, it laid the lion’s share of the blame on St. John Paul II, a former pope, for having appointed McCarrick archbishop of Washington in 2000, and making him a cardinal, despite having commissioned an inquiry that found he had slept with seminarians. Read More
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers announced Wednesday they would resign en masse after four of them were ousted from the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s Legislature in a move one legislator said could sound the “death knell” for democracy there.
The resignation of the 15 remaining pro-democracy lawmakers will ratchet up tensions over the future of Hong Kong, a former British colony that has long been a regional financial hub and bastion of Western-style civil liberties but over which China’s government has increasingly tightened its control. A new national security law imposed by Beijing this year has alarmed the international community. Read More
Republicans controlling the Senate unveiled a government-wide, $1.4 trillion spending bill on Tuesday, a largely bipartisan measure that faces uncertain odds during this period of post-election tumult in Washington.
The GOP-drafted measure contains funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall and other provisions opposed by Democrats, but top leaders in both parties want to try to mount a drive to enact the unfinished spending bills — which, along with a separate COVID-19 relief effort and annual defense policy bill, represent the bulk of Capitol Hill’s unfinished business for the year. Read More
European Union regulators filed antitrust charges Tuesday against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of using its access to data from companies that sell products on its platform to gain an unfair advantage over them.
The charges, filed two years after the bloc’s antitrust enforcer began looking into the company, are the latest effort by European regulators to curb the power of big technology companies. Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition issues, has slapped Google with antitrust fines totaling nearly $10 billion and opened twin antitrust investigations this summer into Apple. The EU’s executive Commission also opened a second investigation Tuesday into whether Amazon favors product offers and merchants that use its own logistics and delivery system. Read More
by Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — President Donald Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday, an unprecedented move by a president struggling to accept election defeat and angry at a Pentagon leader he believes wasn’t loyal enough. The decision was widely expected as… Read More
The rain-heavy remnants of Hurricane Eta flooded homes from Panama to Guatemala Thursday as the death toll across Central America rose to at least 57, and aid organizations warned the flooding and mudslides were creating a slow-moving humanitarian disaster across the region.
The storm that hit Nicaragua as a mighty Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday had become more of a vast tropical rainstorm, but it was advancing so slowly and dumping so much rain that much of Central America remained on high alert. Forecasters said the now-tropical depression was expected to regather and head toward Cuba and possibly the Gulf of Mexico by early next week. Read More
Luxury fashion boutiques, jewelry shops and most of Milan’s flagship department stores were shuttered Friday, as the center of Italy’s vibrant financial capital fell into a gray quiet on the first day of a partial lockdown in four regions aimed at stopping the coronavirus’s resurgence.
The new restrictions — which led to closures of a patchwork of nonessential businesses — allow a great deal more freedom than Italy’s near-total 10-week lockdown that started in March, but nonetheless brought recriminations from regional governments that feel unfairly targeted. In particular, the south, which was largely spared in the spring, chafed the most, despite concerns that its weaker health care system was especially vulnerable. Read More
The Grammy Awards have changed the name of their best world music album category to the best global music album, an attempt to find “a more relevant, modern and inclusive term.”
The Recording Academy said in a statement that the new name “symbolizes a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied.” Read More
The Trump campaign said it filed lawsuits Wednesday in Pennsylvania and Michigan, laying the groundwork for contesting the outcome in undecided battleground states that could determine whether President Donald Trump gets another four years in the White House.
Suits in both states are demanding better access for campaign observers to locations where ballots are being processed and counted, the campaign said. The campaign also is seeking to intervene in a Pennsylvania case at the Supreme Court that deals with whether ballots received up to three days after the election can be counted, deputy campaign manager Justin Clark said. Read More
A man who had previously tried to join the Islamic State group rampaged in Vienna armed with an automatic rifle and a fake explosive vest, fatally shooting four people before he was killed by police, Austrian authorities said Tuesday.
Witnesses described dozens of screaming people fleeing the sounds of gunshots Monday night in a nightlife district crowded with revelers enjoying the last hours before a coronavirus lockdown. Read More
Friendly’s Restaurants, the 85-year-old East Coast dining chain known for its Fribble milkshakes and ice cream sundaes, is filing for bankruptcy protection.
It joins a growing list of well-established restaurant chains that are failing due to an unchecked pandemic in the United States.
George Michel, CEO of FIC Restaurants Inc., Friendly’s parent company, said COVID-19 has had a “catastrophic impact” on operations. FIC will sell essentially all of its assets to the restaurant company Amici Partners Group. Read More
McRib, the fast food sandwich that went viral before viral was a thing, is back.
McDonald’s announced Friday that for the first time in eight years it will be offering nationwide its barbeque slathered sandwich with the cult following. Read More
Netflix is raising most of its U.S. prices by 8% to 13% as its video streaming service rides a wave of rising popularity spurred by government-imposed lockdowns that corralled people at home during the fight against the pandemic.
The increases imposed Friday boost the cost of Netflix’s most popular U.S. streaming plan by $1 to $14 per month, while a premium plan that allows more people to watch the service on different screens simultaneously will now cost $2 more at $18 per month. Netflix’s basic U.S. plan remains at $9 per month. It marks Netflix’s first price changes in the U.S. since an increase rolled out early last year. Read More
The federal government defended its national eviction ban before a judge Friday, arguing that the moratorium had helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 and did not overstep the authority provided by Congress.
The arguments are part of a federal lawsuit filed by a handful of landlords in Memphis earlier this year, which claims the eviction moratorium has unfairly strained their finances and violated their property rights. Read More
A federal judge has postponed President Donald Trump’s threatened shutdown of the popular short-form video app TikTok, siding with a Pennsylvania comedian and two other TikTok creators who say Trump’s order hampers their free speech.
U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone on Friday blocked an upcoming Commerce Department action that would have effectively banned TikTok in the U.S. by cutting it off from vital technical services. Read More
A 17-year-old from Illinois accused of killing two demonstrators in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has been extradited to stand trial on homicide charges, with sheriff’s deputies in Illinois handing him over to their counterparts in Wisconsin shortly after a judge on Friday approved the contested extradition.
In his afternoon ruling that rejected Kyle Rittenhouse’s bid to remain in Illinois, Judge Paul Novak noted that defense attorneys had characterized the Wisconsin charges as politically motivated. Read More
The 21-year-old Tunisian behind the attack that killed three in a Nice, France, church had small-time run-ins with the law as a teen, but nothing that alerted Tunisian authorities to possible extremist leanings.
That missing red flag meant that when he eventually was served an expulsion order from Italy, which he reached illegally by boat, he was basically free to go where he pleased. So Ibrahim Issaoui then traveled apparently unimpeded to France. Read More
Sean Connery, the charismatic Scottish actor who rose to international superstardom as the suave secret agent James Bond and then abandoned the role to carve out an Oscar-winning career in other rugged roles, has died. He was 90.
Connery’s wife and two sons said he “died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family” in the Bahamas, where he lived. Son Jason Connery said his father had been “unwell for some time.” Read More
Walmart has reversed course, announcing it is returning ammunition and firearms to their displays in its U.S. stores.
On Thursday the nation’s largest retailer said it had removed the items from displays due to “civil unrest” in some areas of the country. Guns and ammunition, however, had remained for sale at the stores, just not visible to shoppers. Read More
A final debate between Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff has been canceled after Perdue dropped out, saying he would attend a campaign rally with President Donald Trump instead.
The cancellation was announced Thursday night, a day after Perdue and Ossoff met for a bitter second debate in Savannah in which Ossoff slammed Perdue as a “crook” who downplayed the coronavirus pandemic. Perdue, who is seeking a second term, denied the accusation. Read More
A strong earthquake struck Friday in the Aegean Sea between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Samos, killing at least 14 people and injuring hundreds amid collapsed buildings and flooding, officials said.
A small tsunami struck the Seferihisar district south of Izmir, the city in western Turkey that was the worst affected, said Haluk Ozener, director of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute. Read More
A man armed with a knife attacked people inside a French church and killed three Thursday, prompting the government to raise its security alert status to the maximum level hours before a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
The attack in Mediterranean city of Nice was the third in two months in France that authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists, including the beheading of a teacher. It comes during a growing furor over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were republished in recent months by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo — renewing vociferous debate in France and the Muslim world over the depictions that Muslims consider offensive but are protected by French free speech laws. Read More
Hurricane Zeta slammed into storm-weary Louisiana on Wednesday with New Orleans squarely in its path, pelting homes and businesses with rain and howling winds, knocking out power to thousands and threatening to push up to 9 feet of sea water inland in a Gulf Coast region already pounded by multiple storms this year.
Roads were flooded near the coast, where forecasters said Zeta made landfall around Terrebone Bay near Cocodrie, an unincorporated fishing village at the end of a highway with a marine laboratory but few if any full-time residents. Read More
With next week’s election looming, the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google were scolded by Republicans at a Senate hearing Wednesday for alleged anti-conservative bias in the companies’ social media platforms and received a warning of coming restrictions from Congress.
Lawmakers of both parties are assessing the companies’ tremendous power to disseminate speech and ideas, and are looking to challenge their long-enjoyed bedrock legal protections for online speech. Read More
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would not grant a quick, pre-election review to a new Republican appeal to exclude absentee ballots received after Election Day in the presidential battleground state of Pennsylvania, although it remained unclear whether those ballots will ultimately be counted.
The court’s order left open the possibility that the justices could take up and decide after the election whether a three-day extension to receive and count absentee ballots ordered by Pennsylvania’s high court was proper. Read More
Protesters set trash bins afire and police responded with hydrant sprays in downtown Rome Tuesday night, part of a day of public outpouring of anger against virus-fighting measures like evening shutdowns for restaurants and bars and the closures of gyms and theaters — a sign of growing discontent across Europe with renewed coronavirus restrictions.
Pedestrians and motorists returning home from work in Rome were taken by surprise when protesters, some of them hooded and members of an extreme-right political group, set afire to trash bins in Piazza del Popolo, overturned parked motor scooters and mopeds and hurled smoke bombs, state TV reported. Police vans unleashed torrents of water to disperse them. Read More
A New Mexico state senator said he fled his house after receiving anonymous threatening telephone messages following his criticism of a protest outside the state Capitol against coronavirus restrictions.
State Sen. Jacob Candelaria said Sunday that he received the series of profanity-laced telephone telephone messages after he issued the criticism Saturday night in a TV appearance. Read More
After playing sparingly for Michigan as a backup his first two years and waiting for this virus-shortened season to start seven weeks late, Joe Milton’s time at quarterback had finally come.
The enormity of the moment hit him in the locker room, just before taking the field at Minnesota. Read More
Two drugmakers announced Friday the resumption of U.S. testing of their COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
Testing of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate had been halted since early September, while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine study was paused at the beginning of last week. Each company had a study volunteer develop a serious health issue, requiring a review of safety data. Read More
Heavily protected crews in Washington state worked Saturday to destroy the first nest of so-called murder hornets discovered in the United States.
The state Agriculture Department had spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. Read More
Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Sunday to advance Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett toward final confirmation despite Democratic objections, just over a week before the presidential election.
Barrett’s confirmation on Monday was hardly in doubt, with majority Republicans mostly united in support behind President Donald Trump’s pick. But Democrats were poised to keep the Senate in session into the night in attempts to stall, arguing that the Nov. 3 election winner should choose the nominee to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Read More
Academics, journalists and First Amendment lawyers are rallying behind New York University researchers in a showdown with Facebook over its demand that they halt the collection of data showing who is being micro-targeted by political ads on the world’s dominant social media platform.
The researchers say the disputed tool is vital to understanding how Facebook has been used as a conduit for disinformation and manipulation. Read More
William Blinn, a screenwriter for the landmark TV projects “Brian’s Song” and “Roots” and the Prince film “Purple Rain,” has died. He was 83.
Blinn died Thursday of natural causes at an assisted living community in Burbank, California, his daughter, Anneliese Johnson, said Saturday. Read More
One of President Donald Trump’s top priorities on immigration if he wins a second term would be to use agreements with Central American governments as models to get countries around the world to field asylum claims from people seeking refuge in the United States, a top adviser said.
Stephen Miller, a key architect of Trump’s immigration policies, said Friday the agreements would help stop “asylum fraud, asylum shopping and asylum abuse on a global scale.” Read More
At least 51 civilians have been killed in Nigeria’s unrest following days of peaceful protests over police abuses, the president said Friday, blaming “hooliganism” for the violence while asserting that security forces have used “extreme restraint.”
President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments are expected to further inflame tensions in Africa’s most populous country after Amnesty International reported that soldiers shot and killed at least 12 demonstrators Tuesday night as a large crowd sang the national anthem. The deaths sparked international condemnation. Read More
Pacific Gas & Electric may cut power to over 1 million people on Sunday to prevent the chance of sparking wildfires as extreme fire weather returns to the region, the utility announced Friday.
The nation’s largest utility said it could black out customers in 38 counties — including most of the San Francisco Bay Area — as weather forecasts called for a return of bone-dry, gusty weather that carries the threat of downing or fouling power lines or other equipment that in recent years have been blamed for igniting massive and deadly blazes in central and Northern California. Read More
President Donald Trump announced Friday that Sudan will start to normalize ties with Israel, making it the third Arab state to do so as part of U.S.-brokered deals in the run-up to Election Day.
The announcement came after the North African nation agreed to put $335 million in an escrow account to be used to compensate American victims of terror attacks. The attacks include the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by the al-Qaida network while its leader, Osama bin Laden, was living in Sudan. In exchange, Trump notified Congress on Friday of his intent to remove Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Read More