Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is extending the suspension of the state's motor fuel tax for another month to help families offset the cost of holiday spending. The Republican made the announcement Thursday at the state Capitol with fellow GOP leaders. The tax of 29.1 cents per gallon has been susp…
An Indiana doctor has dropped a lawsuit that aimed to halt the state’s attorney general from investigating her after she provided an abortion to a 10-year-old Ohio child who was raped. Thursday court filings say lawyers for Dr. Caitlin Bernard of Indianapolis voluntarily nixed the lawsuit fi…
President Joe Biden's administration is providing nearly $36 billion to shore up a financially troubled union pension plan. The federal aid is intended to stop severe cuts to the retirement incomes of more than 350,000 Teamsters workers and retirees. The Biden administration says it's the la…
The Respect for Marriage Act has been largely focused on the protection the law gives to same-sex couples. But the bill, given final approval by the House Thursday, also enshrines interracial marriages in federal law. That provision came as a surprise to some interracial couples who believed…
The brother of an American detained in Russia since 2018 says that his family fears he will not be released for years. He said Paul Whelan's family also supported the U.S. government’s agreement to a prisoner exchange that freed WNBA star Brittney Griner but left Whelan behind. Whelan is a M…
The House has given final approval to protections for same-sex marriages. The vote Thursday sends the legislation to President Joe Biden, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition of such unions. The law requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages, a relief…
Ukrainian officials claim Russian forces have installed multiple rocket launchers at Ukraine’s shut-down Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The claim raises fears Europe’s largest atomic power station could be used as a base to fire on Ukrainian territory. Ukraine’s nuclear company Energoatom…
Sen. Chuck Schumer has been elected for another term as Democratic leader in the Senate. Democrats met behind closed doors Thursday at the Capitol to choose their leadership team. Schumer will helm a bolstered 51-seat majority for what is about to become a new era of divided government when the new Congress begins in January. His leadership will be tested with Republicans taking control of the House. Also for the Democratic leadership team in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois won another term in the No. 2 spot. The No. 3 position was filled by Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was at a downtown Atlanta courthouse Thursday to testify before a special grand jury that’s investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia. Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, had tried to get out of testifying before the panel. But a judge last month said he must testify and an appeals court earlier this week declined to stay that order while Flynn’s appeal was pending. Flynn could be one of the final witnesses the panel hears from as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who’s leading the investigation, has said she wants to wrap up the the special grand jury soon.
The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform says the Washington Commanders created a “toxic work culture” for more than two decades and downplayed sexual misconduct by men at the top levels of the organization. That's according to a report published Thursday. The report also says team owner Dan Snyder was involved in the misconduct, interfered in a separate investigation and was misleading to the House committee. The report also says the NFL minimizes "workplace misconduct across the league.” Attorneys for Snyder and the Commanders said the committee’s work was “one-sided” and there were “no new revelations.”
Federal regulators opened their campaign to block Facebook parent Meta’s acquisition of a virtual-reality company in a San Jose, California, courtroom. In a landmark legal challenge Thursday to a Big Tech merger, the Federal Trade Commission has sued to prevent Meta’s acquisition of Within Unlimited and its fitness app Supernatural, asserting it would hurt competition and violate antitrust laws. Meta has been unsuccessful in its bid to have the case dismissed. CEO Mark Zuckerberg was dropped as a defendant, in the case, but he is expected to testify.
In 2014, Oregon voters approved a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana after being told it would eliminate problems caused by “uncontrolled manufacture” of the drug. Illegal production of marijuana has instead exploded. Oregon lawmakers, who have heard complaints from police, legal growers and others, are now looking at toughening laws against the outlaw growers. A draft bill for Oregon’s 2023 legislative session would double the maximum prison sentence and fine. Those found guilty of unlawful manufacture involving more than 100 plants and possession in excess of 32 times the legal limits could face 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Russia has freed WNBA star Brittney Griner in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the U.S. releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. The swap comes at a time of heightened tensions over Ukraine and it achieved a top goal for President Joe Biden. But it also carried a heavy price, with American Paul Whelan still detained in Russia on espionage charges that his family and the U.S. government says baseless. Biden says Griner is “safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,.” He spoke from the White House, where he was accompanied by Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and administration officials. Griner's monthslong imprisonment on drug charges brought unprecedented attention to the population of wrongful detainees.
Experts say an alleged plot to topple the German government, led by a self-styled prince, a retired paratrooper and a Berlin judge, had its roots in a murky mixture of post-war grudges, antisemitic conspiracy theories and anger over recent pandemic restrictions. Police detained 25 people Wednesday described as being part of Germany’s Reichsbuerger, or Reich Citizens, movement. Experts say the movement's rise reflects the shifts that have taken place on the far-right end of the political spectrum in recent years. They say anger at restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic has proved fertile ground for anti-government sentiment in Germany, similar to the United States. Officials expect a second wave of detentions as authorities review evidence seized in their raids.
A federal appeals court panel says New York can continue enforcing a new state law banning guns from “sensitive” places like parks and theaters while the judges consider a legal challenge. The temporary stay from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday puts on hold most of a ruling last month from U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby. The district judge found constitutional issues with multiple portions of the law related to carrying firearms in public places and licensing requirements. The appeals panel on Wednesday continued a stay while it considers a motion from government officials opposing the injunction.
At his initial court appearance in Lima, Peru on Thursday, Pedro Castillo gave only yes or no answers, looking on downcast as his attorney argued that he had been arbitrarily detained. The man who had served as Peruvian president refused to give any statement of his own. In just three tumultuous hours, Castillo went from decreeing the dissolution of his country’s Congress to being replaced by his vice president and put under arrest. On Wednesday, he was removed from office and arrested on a charge of rebellion after dissolving the Congress before a scheduled impeachment vote.
A New York civil rights organization has sued the state’s court system seeking to overturn a law barring people with felony convictions from serving on juries. The New York Civil Liberties Union argues that the statute spelling out qualifications for jury service disproportionately excludes Black men, leaving Black people significantly underrepresented in the jury pool. New York is just the latest state where the status quo of who’s allowed to serve on a jury is being challenged amid broader pushes for criminal justice reforms. California changed its law in 2020 to let people with felony records be jurors. Most states and federal courts still ban them, however.
People are asking questions about a massive $52 billion storm protection plan proposed by the federal government in New York and New Jersey. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pitching the plan to protect against catastrophic flooding of the type caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The agency proposes building movable barriers and gates across bays, rivers and other waterways in the two states hardest-hit by the October 2012 storm. During a public hearing Wednesday in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, people wondered how the storm gates would work, why the plan does not go further to address flooding, and whether it will work at all. More meetings are planned in coming weeks.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has unveiled the first U.S. currency bearing her signature, marking the first time that U.S. currency will bear the name of a female treasury secretary. It’s one more milestone for Yellen, a pathbreaking economist currently presiding over what may be the most important role of her career. Yellen's name will appear on U.S. currency alongside that of U.S. Treasurer Lynn Malerba, the first Native American in that role. It will be the first time that both of the signatures on U.S. bills will belong to women. The new bills will begin circulating next year.
House passes $858 billion defense bill that would rescind COVID vaccine mandate for service members, next goes to Senate.
A bill to rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the U.S. military has passed the House. The bill approved Thursday directs Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to rescind his 2021 order requiring COVID vaccination. The bill also provides nearly $858 billion for national defense, which is about $45 billion more than President Joe Biden requested. Lawmakers said the added spending is needed to help the U.S. military keep an edge over China and Russia. This year’s bill also supports a $4.6% pay raise for military members and the Defense Department’s civilian workers. The Senate is expected to approve the bill soon.
Reflecting on her five years as New Zealand’s leader, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says China has undoubtedly become more assertive in the region over that time, but cautions that building relationships with small Pacific nations shouldn’t become a game of one-upmanship. In a joint interview with The Associated Press and the Australian Associated Press, Ardern says that China has changed in recent years under President Xi Jinping. “I think if I stand back and look at the region as a whole and some of the changes that we’ve seen within our region, you do see a more assertive China,” she said.
Imprisoned Belarusian human rights campaigner Ales Bialiatski, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with rights groups in Russia and Ukraine, hasn’t been allowed by Belarus authorities to hand over his speech for the award ceremony. His wife Natalia Pinchuk, who will deliver a speech on Bialiatski’s behalf during Saturday’s award ceremony in Oslo, said it will convey her husband’s thoughts and statements. Bialiatski, 60, who founded the non-governmental organization Human Rights Center Viasna, was detained following protests in 2020 against the re-election of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. He has remained in jail pending trial and faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
Jaylen Smith is among the youngest mayors elected in the U.S. and would be the youngest member of the African American Mayors Association.
Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets of Sudan's capital demanding the ouster of its military rulers and rejecting a deal for the gradual transfer of power to civilian leaders. Demonstrators on Thursday headed for the Republican Palace in Khartoum, the seat of the country’s ruling military council, before being intercepted by security forces who fired tear gas and water hoses at the crowds. Thursday’s protest is led by a grassroots pro-democracy group that has rejected any negotiations with Sudan’s army leaders after a military coup last year. A new agreement for the transfer of power to civilians appears to offer only the vaguest outlines for a road to democracy. Both the U.N. and the U.S. have encouraged further talks between all parties.
With the passage of the the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects same-sex and interracial marriages, The Associated Press is republishing its 1967 story by reporter Karl R. Baumann on the Supreme Court’s ruling that tossed out state laws that banned interracial marriages.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says her office has been issued a subpoena in connection with Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation of former President Donald Trump. Detroit's Wayne County and counties in other battleground states also were issued subpoenas by Smith on Wednesday. It's the first known round of information requests by Smith, who was named special counsel last month by Attorney General Merrick Garland. Michigan was one of the states Trump and his allies targeted as they tried to overturn the results of the presidential election.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has criticized former President Donald Trump for dining with a white nationalist. The Democrat made the comments in an interview this week with The Associated Press after he filed for reelection in 2023. The governor is also gently distancing himself from President Joe Biden. He says that Biden has done some things well but that there are other things he wishes would have been done better. Beshear has drawn a crowded field of GOP challengers in a Republican-dominated state for a race that will be closely watched nationally.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has called for a review of the state’s investments to determine if it has stakes in Chinese companies. The Republican governor, who is seen as a potential contender for her party's nomination to run for president in two years, has taken aim at the state’s ties to China and claimed that they pose a national security threat. Last week, she banned TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, from being used on state-owned devices. Noem's office issued a statement saying she wants the South Dakota Investment Council, which oversees a $19 billion portfolio for the state’s pension fund and other trust funds, to review its investments for ties to Chinese companies within seven days.
A Pennsylvania government panel has approved the addition of extensive definitions of sex, religious creed and race to nondiscrimination regulations. The proposal approved Thursday is a change some Republican lawmakers see as an overreach on a subject they think should not be addressed without legislation. It clarifies and enshrines into writing a set of definitions regarding the types of employment, housing, education and public accommodations discrimination complaints that can be brought before the Human Relations Commission. Advocacy groups say greater clarity about the terms sex, religious creed and race are helpful and a step forward.