Trump’s legal woes mount without protection of presidency
WASHINGTON (AP) — Stark repudiation by federal judges he appointed. Far-reaching fraud allegations by New York’s attorney general. It’s been a week of widening legal troubles for Donald Trump, laying bare the challenges piling up as the former president operates without the protections afforded by the White House.
The bravado that served him well in the political arena is less handy in a legal realm dominated by verifiable evidence, where judges this week have looked askance at his claims and where a fraud investigation that took root when Trump was still president burst into public view in an allegation-filled 222-page state lawsuit.
In politics, “you can say what you want and if people like it, it works. In a legal realm, it’s different,” said Chris Edelson, a presidential powers scholar and American University government professor. “It’s an arena where there are tangible consequences for missteps, misdeeds, false statements in a way that doesn’t apply in politics.”
That distinction between politics and law was evident in a single 30-hour period this week.
Trump insisted on Fox News in an interview that aired Wednesday that the highly classified government records he had at Mar-a-Lago actually had been declassified, that a president has the power to declassify information “even by thinking about it.”
US urges world to tell Russia to stop its nuclear threats
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States urged other nations to tell Russia to stop making nuclear threats and end “the horror” of its war in Ukraine as all three countries’ top diplomats spoke — but didn’t quite meet — at a high-profile U.N. Security Council meeting Thursday.
Held alongside the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering of world leaders, the session followed a striking development in the war this week: Russia called up a portion of its reserves for the first time since World War II. At the same time, President Vladimir Putin said his nuclear-armed country would “use all means available to us” to defend itself if its territory is threatened.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken saw Putin’s remark as particularly menacing given plans for referendums in Russian-controlled parts of eastern and southern Ukraine on whether to become part of Russia.
Western nations have condemned those votes as illegitimate and nonbinding. But, in their wake, Moscow might see any Ukrainian attempt to retake those areas as an attack on “Russian territory,” Blinken warned.
“Every council member should send a clear message that these reckless nuclear threats must stop immediately,” he said.
Tears and hugs for Russians called up to fight in Ukraine
ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) — Russia escalated its military and political campaign Thursday to capture Ukrainian territory, rounding up Russian army reservists to fight, preparing votes on annexing occupied areas and launching new deadly attacks.
A day after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization to bolster his troops in Ukraine, dramatic scenes of tearful families bidding farewell to men departing from military mobilization centers in Russia appeared on social media.
Video on Twitter from the eastern Siberian city of Neryungri showed men emerging from a stadium. Before boarding buses, the men hugged family members waiting outside, many crying and some covering their mouths with their hands in grief. A man held a child up to the window of one bus for a last look.
In Moscow, women hugged, cried and made the sign of the cross on men at another mobilization point. A 25-year-old who gave only his first name, Dmitry, received a hug from his father, who told him “Be careful,” as they parted.
Dmitry told Russian media company Ostorozhno Novosti he did not expect to be called up and shipped out so quickly, especially since he still is a student.
Biden vows US won’t walk away from storm-struck Puerto Rico
SAN SALVADOR, Puerto Rico (AP) — President Joe Biden said Thursday the full force of the federal government is ready to help Puerto Rico recover from the devastation of Hurricane Fiona, while Bermuda and Canada’s Atlantic provinces prepared for a major blast from the Category 4 storm.
Speaking at a briefing with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in New York, Biden said, “We’re all in this together.”
Biden noted that hundreds of FEMA and other federal officials are already on the ground in Puerto Rico, where Fiona caused an island-wide blackout.
More than 60% of power customers remained without energy on Thursday, and a third of customers were without water — and local officials admitted they could not say when service would be fully restored.
Biden said his message to the people of Puerto Rico who are still hurting from Hurricane Maria five years ago is: “We’re with you. We’re not going to walk away.”
Officials: Navy bribery case fugitive tried to get to Russia
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Since escaping two weeks ago, officials say the fugitive Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” — who orchestrated one of the U.S. Navy’s largest bribery scandals — zipped between countries to find a place where he could become virtually untouchable for American authorities.
After cutting off an ankle monitor and slipping away from house arrest in San Diego on Sept. 4, U.S. and Venezuelan officials say Leonard Glenn Francis went across the border into Mexico, then traveled to Cuba and Venezuela, where he was arrested Tuesday at Simón Bolívar International Airport outside Caracas.
Francis was planning to travel to Russia, according to Interpol Venezuela Director General Carlos Garate Rondon, who disclosed the arrest in a statement posted Wednesday on Instagram. He said Francis would be handed over to the country’s judicial authorities to begin extradition proceedings.
Greg Rinckey, a former Army lawyer who is now in private practice, said he believes Francis was “trying to play the angle of using some countries to get outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Marshals Service.”
Celtics suspend coach Ime Udoka for 2022-23 season
BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics have suspended Ime Udoka for a full year, banning the coach who led them to the NBA Finals last spring for the entire 2022-23 season over what two people with knowledge of the matter said was an improper relationship with a member of the organization.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not reveal that detail publicly. In a statement issued Thursday night after a full day of wrangling over the terms of the punishment, the Celtics said Udoka violated team policies and left open the possibility that a longer separation could follow.
“A decision about his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date,” the team said.
Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will take over as interim coach, one of the people who spoke with The AP said. The defending Eastern Conference champions are scheduled to hold media day on Monday and open training camp on Tuesday in preparation for the Oct. 18 season opener.
In a statement published by ESPN, Udoka apologized “to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down.”
Millennials, assembled: At UN, younger leaders rise
A young president at the U.N. General Assembly touted millennial status symbols like coffee, outdoor adventure and Bitcoin. Another admitted in front of the famous green marble that it was harder to govern a country than to protest in its streets. A foreign minister, once shunned for having only a bachelor’s degree, warned against indifference.
Shaped by the borderless internet, growing economic inequality and an increasingly dire climate crisis, the Generation Y cohort of presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other “excellencies” is making their mark at the largest gathering of world leaders.
This week at the United Nations offers a glimpse of the latest generation of leaders in power, as a critical mass of them – born generally between 1981 and 1996 – are coming to represent countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Some millennial leaders were making their debuts at the 77-year-old diplomatic institution built in the aftermath of WWII, while there were other notables who didn’t show up but had already arrived on the world stage. Those include Kim Jong Un, who took over the reclusive North Korea in his 20s, and the 36-year-old Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who faced controversy recently for a video of her dancing at a private party that went viral.
Jennifer Sciubba, an author and political demographer affiliated with the Wilson Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said many came into power buoyed by their generation’s disaffection for the status quo, and in that sense millennials and baby boomers are echoes of each other. One stark difference: Life by most measures was getting better after WWII, yet many young people today don’t harbor the same hope.
4.4M Americans roll up sleeves for omicron-targeted boosters
U.S. health officials say 4.4 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves for the updated COVID-19 booster shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the count Thursday as public health experts bemoaned President Joe Biden’s recent remark that “the pandemic is over.”
The White House said more than 5 million people received the new boosters by its own estimate that accounts for reporting lags in states.
Health experts said it is too early to predict whether demand would match up with the 171 million doses of the new boosters the U.S. ordered for the fall.
“No one would go looking at our flu shot uptake at this point and be like, ‘Oh, what a disaster,’” said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If we start to see a large uptick in cases, I think we’re going to see a lot of people getting the (new COVID) vaccine.”
A temporary shortage of Moderna vaccine caused some pharmacies to cancel appointments while encouraging people to reschedule for a Pfizer vaccine. The issue was expected to resolve as government regulators wrapped up an inspection and cleared batches of vaccine doses for distribution.
At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press.
The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in several years, still remains unclear as protesters in more than a dozen cities — venting anger over social repression and the country’s mounting crises — continue to encounter security and paramilitary forces.
To prevent protests from spreading, Iran’s biggest telecom operator largely shut down mobile internet access again Thursday, said Netblocks, a group that monitors internet access, describing the restrictions as the most severe since 2019.
An anchor on Iran’s state television suggested the death toll from the mass protests could be as high as 17 on Thursday, but did not say how he reached that figure.
In a country where radio and television stations already are state-controlled and journalists regularly face the threat of arrest, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard urged the judiciary on Thursday to prosecute “anyone who spreads fake news and rumors” on social media about the unrest. Widespread outages of Instagram and WhatsApp, which are used by protesters, also continued Thursday.
Alex Jones testifies in trial over his Sandy Hook hoax lies
WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — Alex Jones took the stand Thursday at his Connecticut defamation trial, acknowledging he had promoted the conspiracy theory that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, but angrily refusing to keep apologizing for that.
More than a dozen relatives of the 26 shooting victims showed up to observe his often contentious testimony in Waterbury Superior Court, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Newtown, where the shooting occurred.
Jones was found liable last year by default for damages to plaintiffs without a trial, for what the judge called his repeated failures to turn over documents to their lawyers. The six-member jury is now deciding how much Jones and Free Speech Systems, parent of Jones’ Infowars media platforms, should pay the families for defaming them and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.
On Thursday, Jones admitted calling parents “crisis actors” on his show and saying the shooting was “phony as a three-dollar bill.”
Plaintiff attorney Christopher Mattei accused Jones of putting targets on the parents’ backs, pointing to the family members in the courtroom and saying “these are real people.”