Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years for seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 attack

WASHINGTON (AP) — Oath Keepers extremist group founder Stewart Rhodes was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison for orchestrating a weekslong plot that culminated in his followers attacking the U.S. Capitol in a bid to keep President Joe Biden out of the White House after winning the 2020 election.

Rhodes, 58, is the first person convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack to receive his punishment, and his sentence is the longest handed down so far in the hundreds of Capitol riot cases.

It’s another milestone for the Justice Department’s sprawling Jan. 6 investigation, which has led to seditious conspiracy convictions against the top leaders of two far-right extremist groups authorities say came to Washington prepared to fight to keep President Donald Trump in power at all costs.

“The Justice Department will continue to do everything in our power to hold accountable those criminally responsible for the January 6th attack on our democracy,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

In a first for a Jan. 6 case, the judge agreed with the Justice Department that Rhodes' actions should be punished as “terrorism,” which increases the recommended sentence under federal guidelines. That decision could foreshadow lengthy sentences down the road for other far-right extremists, including former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who have also been convicted of the rarely used charge.


Texas lawmakers issue 20 articles of impeachment against state Attorney General Ken Paxton

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton teetered on the brink of impeachment Thursday after years of scandal, criminal charges and corruption accusations that the state's Republican majority had largely met with silence until now.

In an unanimous decision, a Republican-led House investigative committee that spent months quietly looking into Paxton recommended impeaching the state's top lawyer on 20 articles, including bribery, unfitness for office and abuse of public trust. The House could vote on the recommendation as soon as Friday. If it impeaches Paxton, he would be forced to leave office immediately.

The move sets up what could be a remarkably sudden downfall for one of the GOP's most prominent legal combatants, who in 2020 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn President Joe Biden's victory. Only two officials in Texas’ nearly 200-year history have been impeached.

Paxton has been under FBI investigation for years over accusations that he used his office to help a donor. He was separately indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015, but has yet to stand trial.

When the five-member committee's investigation came to light Tuesday, Paxton suggested it was a political attack by the House's “liberal” Republican speaker, Dade Phelan. He called for Phelan’s resignation and accused him of being drunk during a marathon session last Friday. Phelan’s office brushed off the accusation as Paxton attempting to “save face.”


Debt ceiling talks teeter on the brink, as lawmakers leave town for weekend without a deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans pushed debt ceiling talks to the brink Thursday, displaying risky political bravado in leaving town for the holiday weekend just days before the U.S. could face an unprecedented default hurling the global economy into chaos.

At the Capitol, Speaker Kevin McCarthy said “every hour matters” in talks with President Joe Biden's team as they try to work out a budget agreement. Republican are demanding spending cuts the Democrats oppose as their price for raising the legal debt limit.

“We’ve been taking to the White House all day,” McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters as he left the Capitol for the evening, with his top negotiators soon to follow. “We're working hard to make it happen.”

In remarks at the White House, Biden said, “It’s about competing versions of America.” Yet both men expressed optimism that the gulf between their positions could be bridged.

The White House said discussions with the Republicans have been productive, including by video conference Thursday, though serious disagreements remained as the president fights for his priorities.


DeSantis pushes past embarrassing campaign start, raises $8.2M ahead of early state blitz

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday sought to push past an embarrassing beginning to his presidential campaign, outlining an aggressive travel schedule as his allies insisted they remain well funded and well positioned for a long Republican primary fight ahead.

While DeSantis supporters privately acknowledged the bungled announcement was an unwelcome distraction, there was a broad sense — even among some Republican critics — that it would likely have limited long-term political consequences, if any at all. For the doubters, the campaign confirmed Thursday night that it had raised $8.2 million in the 24 hours since entering the race, a massive sum that far exceeded the amount raised by President Joe Biden over the same period.

“Do they wish they could do it over again? Probably,” David Oman, a veteran Republican Iowa operative, said of DeSantis' glitch-ridden opening. “Will we be talking about it in 10 days? Probably not.”

DeSantis formally launched his campaign Wednesday night during an online conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk. But the audio stream crashed repeatedly, making it difficult for most users to hear the announcement in real time.

On Thursday, the Republican governor announced plans for a three-state blitz next week featuring at least a dozen stops. He’s scheduled to campaign Tuesday and Wednesday in Iowa before a trip to New Hampshire on Thursday and South Carolina on Friday.


Guam 'very blessed' with no early reports of major damage in the messy aftermath of Typhoon Mawar

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Chainsaws buzzed Friday as neighbors helped neighbors clear toppled trees and began cleaning the wreckage of Typhoon Mawar, which walloped Guam as the strongest typhoon to hit the island in over two decades but appeared to have passed without leaving death or massive destruction in its wake.

While it was still early going in the recovery effort, police Sgt. Paul Tapao said there did not seem to be any major damage, main roads were passable and “Guam has been very blessed to have no storm-related deaths or any serious injuries.”

To Tapao, the roar of the mechanical saws was a reminder of the resilience of the storm-prone U.S. Pacific territory and its people.

“Everyone helps out with the cleaning,” he said. “That’s the Guamanian way — that’s embedded in the blood.”

He added that there's a saying in Chamorro — the indigenous language of the Mariana Islands — “inafa maolek,” that means cooperation, a concept of restoring harmony or order.


Ford electric vehicle owners to get access to Tesla Supercharger network starting next spring

DETROIT (AP) — All of Ford Motor Co.'s current and future electric vehicles will have access to about 12,000 Tesla Supercharger stations in the U.S. and Canada starting next spring.

Ford CEO Jim Farley and Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the agreement Thursday during a “Twitter Spaces” audio chat.

“We think this is a huge move for our industry and for all electric customers,” Farley said.

Musk said he didn't want Tesla's network to be a “walled garden” and that he wants to use it to support sustainable transportation.

“It is our intent to do everything possible to support Ford and have Ford be on an equal footing at Tesla Superchargers,” Musk said.


UN peacekeeping on 75th anniversary: successes, failures and challenges ahead in a divided world

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — On the 75th anniversary of U.N. peacekeeping, the United Nations chief said Thursday that peacekeepers are increasingly working in places where there is no peace and praised the more than 4,200 who have given their lives to the cause of peace since the U.N. authorized its first military deployment in 1948.

It was a day to look back at the successes of peacekeeping from Liberia to Cambodia and its major failures in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, but also to the challenges ahead, including dealing with more violent environments, fake news campaigns, and a divided world that is preventing peacekeeping’s ultimate goal: successfully restoring stable governments.

And it was a day to honor the more than 2 million peacekeepers from 125 countries who have served in 71 operations since the U.N. Security Council sent those first military observers to supervise implementation of Israeli-Arab armistice agreements following their war.

At a ceremony honoring the fallen peacekeepers, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked the hundreds of uniformed military officers and diplomats to stand for a moment of silence in their memory and then presented medals for the 103 peacekeepers killed in 2022 to ambassadors from their 39 home countries. And at the start of a U.N. Security Council meeting on peace in Africa shortly after, all those in the chamber stood in tribute to peacekeepers who paid the ultimate price.

The secretary-general told the ceremony, after laying a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial on the lawn at U.N. headquarters, that what began 75 years ago “as a bold experiment” in the Mideast “is now a flagship enterprise of our organization.” For civilians caught in conflict, he said, peacekeepers are “a beacon of hope and protection.”


'Romeo & Juliet' stars' lawsuit over 1968 film's teen nude scene tossed

A Los Angeles County judge on Thursday said she will dismiss a lawsuit that the stars of 1968's “Romeo and Juliet" filed over the film's nude scene, finding that their depiction could not be considered child pornography and they filed their claim too late.

Superior Court Judge Alison Mackenzie ruled in favor of a motion from defendant Paramount Pictures to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Olivia Hussey, who played Juliet at age 15 and is now 72, and Leonard Whiting, who played Romeo at 16 and is also 72.

Mackenzie determined that the scene was protected by the First Amendment, finding that the actors “have not put forth any authority showing the film here can be deemed to be sufficiently sexually suggestive as a matter of law to be held to be conclusively illegal.”

In her written decision, she also found that the suit didn't fall within the bounds of a California law that temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, and that a February re-release of the film did not change that.

The actors' attorney denounced the decision and said they plan to file another version of the suit in federal court.


Kids could fill labor shortages, even in bars, if these lawmakers succeed

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Lawmakers in several states are embracing legislation to let children work in more hazardous occupations, for more hours on school nights and in expanded roles, including serving alcohol in bars and restaurants as young as 14.

The efforts to significantly roll back labor rules are largely led by Republican lawmakers to address worker shortages and, in some cases, run afoul of federal regulations.

Child welfare advocates worry the measures represent a coordinated push to scale back hard-won protections for minors.

“The consequences are potentially disastrous,” said Reid Maki, director of the Child Labor Coalition, which advocates against exploitative labor policies. “You can't balance a perceived labor shortage on the backs of teen workers.”

Lawmakers proposed loosening child labor laws in at least 10 states over the past two years, according to a report published last month by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. Some bills became law, while others were withdrawn or vetoed.


Celtics thrive on 3s, beat Heat 110-97 in Game 5 to extend East finals

BOSTON (AP) — Derrick White had 24 points, including six 3-pointers, and the Boston Celtics dominated the Miami Heat 110-97 on Thursday night in Game 5 to extend the Eastern Conference finals.

Marcus Smart had 23 points and five steals. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finished with 21 points apiece as the Celtics claimed their second straight win and trimmed Miami’s series lead to 3-2.

It keeps alive Boston’s hopes of becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series. Teams previously in that position are 0-150 all-time.

Game 6 is Saturday in Miami.

A day after the Florida Panthers punched the franchise’s first ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1996, for the second straight game the Heat were denied a spot in the NBA Finals.

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