President Joe Biden is exhorting Republicans in his State of the Union address to work with him to “finish the job” of rebuilding the economy and uniting the nation. He delivered the address Tuesday night, aiming to reassure a country beset by pessimism and fraught political divisions. He offered a positive assessment of the nation's condition rather than rolling out flashy policy proposals. He declared that America is “unbowed, unbroken” in the face of the pandemic and economic threats. It was Biden's first speech to Congress since Republicans took control of the House in the midterm elections.
NASCAR star Kyle Busch was detained at a Mexican airport last month when a handgun and ammunition were discovered in his luggage. A judge in Quintana Roo, which is home to Cancun and Tulum, sentenced Busch earlier this month to 3 1/2 years in prison and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine for illegally possessing the gun in Mexico. But the federal Attorney General’s Office said the judge decided to allow a conditional punishment and let Busch leave Mexico after he paid an unspecified bond. Busch has apologized for the incident and called it a mistake. A NASCAR spokesperson says Busch informed the sanctioning body of the incident and isn't facing any punishment.
Authorities in Ohio say air monitoring hasn’t detected dangerous levels of fumes in communities where crews released and burned toxic chemicals from a derailed train. But they said Tuesday that Ohio and Pennsylvania residents living close to the wreckage still aren’t being allowed in their homes. The fire from the controlled release of the chemicals on Monday is no longer burning. Environmental officials say they want to ensure the air is safe before lifting the evacuation order. Some residents from the village of East Palestine say they're nervous about returning even when the evacuation order is lifted.
The gambling industry's national trade group predicts that 1 in 5 American adults will make a bet on Sunday's Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. The American Gaming Association says over 50 million U.S. adults plan to bet on the game, wagering a total of $16 billion. But most of that will happen off the books — whether it's people placing a bet with an illegal bookie, or filling out squares in an office. Sports betting is legal in 33 states plus Washington, D.C., this year, up from 30 states last year. Experts in addiction say aggressive advertising is contributing to a rise in problem gambling.
Stocks rallied on Wall Street after the Federal Reserve signaled last week’s stunningly strong jobs report won’t by itself change where interest rates are heading, as some investors had feared. The S&P 500 rose 1.3% Tuesday. The Nasdaq added 1.9% and the Dow rose 0.8%. Comments from Fed chief Jerome Powell sent stocks from losses to big gains and then back and forth a couple times. High inflation and how high the Fed will take interest rates to fight it have been at the center of Wall Street’s wild movements for more than a year.
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In the years leading up to Tyre Nichols’ deadly arrest, Memphis police have been dogged by a confluence of dangerous trends, including a chronic shortage of officers and a struggle to bring in recruits. Former recruiters told The Associated Press of a growing desperation to fill hundreds of slots that drove the department to increase incentives and lower standards. A $15,000 signing bonus was accompanied by elimination of requirements of either college credits, military service or previous police work. All that’s now required is two years’ work experience. And the department even sought waivers to hire applicants with criminal records.
Big name advertisers from Netflix to Google are paying as much as $7 million for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl on Sunday. In order to get as much as a return on investment for those millions, most advertisers release their ads in the days ahead of the big game to get the most publicity for their spots. In the ads released early, actor Miles Teller dances to customer-service hold music for Bud Light, Will Ferrell crashes popular Netflix shows like “Bridgerton” in a joint ad for GM and Netflix; and Alicia Silverstone reprises her “Clueless” character for online retailer Rakuten.
Microsoft is fusing ChatGPT-like technology into its search engine Bing, transforming an internet service that now trails far behind Google into a new way of communicating with artificial intelligence. The revamping of Microsoft’s second-place search engine could give the software giant a head start against other tech companies in capitalizing on the worldwide excitement surrounding ChatGPT, a tool that’s awakened millions of people to the possibilities of the latest AI technology. Along with adding it to Bing, Microsoft says it is also integrating the chatbot technology into its Edge browser. Microsoft announced the new technology Tuesday at an event at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
A man has been charged with homicide in the shooting and killing one police officer, and wounding a second officer after they responded to a domestic disturbance call in western Pennsylvania. Thirty-one-year-old Johnathan Jermia Morris is charged in Allegheny County with criminal homicide, aggravated assault and attempted murder, and assault of a law enforcement officer in the shooting Monday afternoon in McKeesport. Authorities allege that he fired at officers responding to a domestic call, killing 32-year-old officer Sean Sluganski and wounding a second officer. Morris was shot in an exchange of gunfire with a third officer; court documents don't list a defense attorney.
Authorities say a man having a “mental health crisis” shot and killed one police officer, wounded a second and fired at a third before being injured in a shootout Monday in western Pennsylvania. The officers had answered a domestic disturbance call in McKeesport, near Pittsburgh. The McKeesport police chief identified the slain officer as 32-year-old Sean Sluganski, who had worked for the department full-time for two years. The chief also said the officer who was wounded has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home. The alleged shooter is in stable condition and facing charges.
Crews in Ohio have released toxic chemicals from five cars of a derailed train near the Pennsylvania state line to reduce the threat of an explosion. Flames and black smoke billowed high into the sky from the derailment site. Norfolk Southern Railway confirmed Monday evening that the cars were draining and that burning was underway as planned. Authorities were monitoring the air quality to make sure that toxic fumes weren't spreading. Ohio's governor earlier ordered residents near the site to evacuate because of the risk of death or serious injury. Officials believe most have left. Pennsylvania's governor said residents of that state near the derailment site also had left but he urged people within a 2-mile radius to keep their doors and windows closed as a precaution.
Harry Whittington, the man who former Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot while they were hunting quail on a Texas ranch 17 years ago, has died. He was 95. Family friend Karl Rove said Whittington died Saturday in Austin. Before Whittington was thrust into the national spotlight after the accidental shooting, the attorney was long known for helping build the Republican Party in Texas into the dominant force it is today and for being the man governors went to when they needed to clean up troubled state agencies. Rove, an influential Republican strategist and former adviser to former President George W. Bush, said Whittington was “a man of enormous integrity and deep compassion."
Rescuers in Turkey and war-ravaged Syria are searching through the frigid night, hoping to pull more survivors from the rubble. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake early Monday killed more than 3,400 people and toppled thousands of buildings across a wide region. It brought even more misery to a wide region transformed by Syria’s 12-year civil war and refugee crisis. Survivors cried out for help from within mountains of debris as first responders contended with rain and snow. Seismic activity continued to rattle the region, including another jolt nearly as powerful as the initial quake. Several countries pledged aid as first responders raced against the elements to reach survivors.
The federal government’s pandemic-era prohibition against kicking people off Medicaid is ending, meaning that hundreds of thousands of people in Pennsylvania face losing free health insurance. Many people who stand to lose Medicaid coverage have no idea that the changes are coming. That's according to advocacy organizations who do outreach to the poor. Enforcing the eligibility rules will be a massive bureaucratic task for the new administration of Gov. Josh Shapiro. All told, state caseworkers must resume enforcing eligibility rules April 1 for more than 3.6 million people who are on Medicaid. Those who are no longer eligible — or who didn’t submit information — will be guided to low-cost programs.
COVID-19 vaccinations are no longer required for military personnel. But that hasn’t ended litigation over the issue. Government lawyers want a federal appeals court to lift earlier orders blocking punishment for Navy personnel who refuse to get vaccinated. They say the case is now moot. But lawyers for a group of Navy SEALS and other Navy personnel who oppose the COVID vaccines on religious grounds say the case still presents important issues because commanders can still make assignments based on vaccination status. Both sides presented arguments Monday at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Stocks slipped again on Wall Street. The S&P 500 fell 0.6% Monday, its second straight fall after a stunningly strong report on the jobs market dented the market’s hopes that interest rates would ease. The sharpest action was again in the bond market, where expectations are rising for the Federal Reserve to stay firm on keeping interest rates higher for longer to combat inflation. It’s something the Fed has been talking about for a long time, but also something the market has been stubborn about not believing fully. The Nasdaq composite lost 1% and the Dow slipped 0.1%.
Monday was supposed to be a day of modest hope in the U.S.-China relationship. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was going to be in Beijing, meeting with President Xi Jinping and other senior Chinese officials in a high-stakes bid to ease ever-rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies. Instead, Blinken was spending the day in Washington after abruptly cancelling his visit late last week as the U.S. and China exchanged angry words about a suspected Chinese spy balloon the U.S. shot down. As fraught as the US-China relationship had been before, it’s worse now. Even as both sides maintain they will manage the situation in a calm and professional manner, the mutual recriminations bode ill for rapprochement.
A majority of Democrats now think one term is plenty for President Joe Biden, despite his insistence that he plans to seek reelection in 2024. That’s according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It shows just 37% of Democrats say they want Biden to seek a second term, down from 52% in the weeks before last year’s midterm elections. While Biden has trumpeted his legislative victories and ability to govern, the poll suggests relatively few U.S. adults give him high marks on either.
Middle seats at many U.S. movie theaters just got more expensive. AMC Theaters is the nation’s largest movie theater chain and on Monday, it unveiled a new pricing scheme in which seat location determines how much your movie ticket costs. Seats in the middle will cost a dollar or two more, while seats in the front row will be slightly cheaper. AMC said the pricing plan, dubbed “Sightline,” has already been rolled out in some locations and will be in place by the end of the year at all domestic AMC theaters during showings after 4 p.m.
For decades, Missouri executions played out in similar fashion: An inmate was strapped to a gurney in a drab room, alone except for the eyes of witnesses staring through thick glass as unidentified executioners administered the lethal chemical from behind a cinderblock wall. But in November, convicted killer Kevin Johnson spent his final moments speaking softly with a pastor, praying, being assured of forgiveness. When Amber McLaughlin was executed in the same room weeks later, her pastor stroked her hand, providing comfort even as McLaughlin expressed that something was causing her pain. A March Supreme Court ruling requires states to accommodate those who want spiritual advisers in the execution room, where they can pray together and even touch.
A small earthquake in western New York has jolted people awake but apparently caused no significant damage. The U.S. Geological Survey preliminarily reported a magnitude 3.8 earthquake centered east of Buffalo at about 6:15 a.m. Monday. A seismologist says it matched the intensity of the strongest earthquake the region has seen in 40 years of available records. That's a quake that was recorded in 1999. The shaking lasted only a few seconds but sent residents unaccustomed to earthquakes to social media in search of an explanation. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted that the quake was felt in at least a 30-mile radius.
While TV writers Casey Johnson and David Windsor were winding down the emotional roller coaster series “This Is Us,” they had another project waiting to soar — one with ghosts. Their new “Not Dead Yet,” about a newspaper obituary writer haunted by the subjects she is writing about, lands on ABC less than a year after viewers bid goodbye to “This Is Us” characters Randall, Kate and Kevin. In “Not Dead Yet,” Gina Rodriguez plays a reporter who returns to her California newspaper 10 years after she quit to follow a love interest to London. She lands on the obituary desk and is visited by ghosts every week.
The latest picture book collaboration between Julie Andrews and daughter Emma Walton Hamilton was inspired by an unusual musical performance in Spain. “The Enchanted Symphony” will be published Sept. 12. Andrews and Walton Hamilton thought of the book during the first year of the pandemic, when they learned of “Concert for the Biocene.” The performance featured a string quartet, playing in front of thousands of plants at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu. “The Enchanted Symphony” takes place in a village “beset by a mysterious fog,” but revived by a “boy’s simple melody.” Abrams Children's Books calls it a “hopeful fairy tale.”
The U.S. abortion debate is shifting to funding as states take control of policymaking. Liberal cities and states are funding efforts to provide access to abortion, while Republican-led states are seeking new ways to financially support anti-abortion centers. Just months after Kansas voters affirmed abortion rights in August, the state's Republican-controlled Legislature is considering millions of dollars in state funds for such centers and millions more in income tax credits to their donors. Supporters say the effort to financially support the centers shows the anti-abortion movement is addressing the social and financial needs of women and families. Critics say the efforts fall short of what’s necessary.
Across the retail landscape, businesses have been putting items under lock and key as a quick way to stop thieves. Some are considering extreme measures, including Rite Aid Corp., whose chief retail officer recently said it’s looking at “literally putting everything behind showcases to ensure the products are there for customers who want to buy it.” But by trying to solve one problem, these businesses may be creating another: turning off shoppers with overreaching measures. For consumers of color in particular, the stepped-up security measures risk alienating a population that already feels overpoliced.
Buddhist abbot Hsing Yun, who established a thriving religious community in southern Taiwan and built universities overseas, has died. He was 95. He established Fo Guang Shan monastery in 1967, aiming to propagate Buddhist humanitarian values. It would go on to operate hundreds of temples and seminaries around the world, along with universities in Taiwan, Australia, the U.S. and the Philippines. He had withdrawn from public life years ago due to declining health. He was born in mainland China and became a major donor to Buddhist institutions there. Some labeled him an advocate of unification between Taiwan and China, although he maintained strong relations with politicians across the spectrum. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was among those expressing condolences.
Laurence Msall, the longtime president of a nonpartisan Illinois tax and budget watchdog group and a former aide to two governors, has died following complications of surgery. He was 61. The Chicago-based Civic Federation said in a statement that Msall had been the group's president since January 2002. He died Saturday surrounded by his family after complications from surgery. The Civic Federation called Msall's passing a “devastating blow” that has left its members heartbroken. It said Msall's “real legacy was in helping to make the Civic Federation the indispensable voice for fiscal responsibility throughout the state of Illinois."
Charles Kimbrough, a Tony- and Emmy-nominated actor who played a straight-laced news anchor opposite Candice Bergen on “Murphy Brown,” has died. He was 86. The New York Times first reported his death and his son confirmed it Sunday to The Associated Press. He died Jan. 11 in Culver City, California. Kimbrough played newsman Jim Dial across the 10 seasons of CBS hit sitcom “Murphy Brown” between 1988 and 1998, earning an Emmy nomination in 1990 for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series. He reprised the role for three episodes in the 2018 reboot. He was born May 23, 1936.
Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup and later led a reluctant Pakistan into aiding the U.S. war in Afghanistan, has died. He was 79 and had been in declining health. The general ruled Pakistan after his 1999 coup through tensions with India, an atomic proliferation scandal and an Islamic extremist insurgency until ultimately stepping down in 2008 while facing a possible impeachment. His later life saw him live in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid criminal charges, despite attempting a political comeback in 2012. The Pakistani Consulate in Dubai confirmed his death and said diplomats were providing support to his family. The military also paid tribute to him.
Republican lawmakers are accusing China of deliberately surveilling sensitive U.S. military sites with a suspected spy balloon. And they say the Biden administration has given Beijing an intelligence opening by not downing the balloon during its high-altitude drift through American airspace. Democrats are defending Biden and they note that there were similar incursions while Donald Trump was president. But the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says “clearly this was an attempt by China to gather information, to defeat our command and control of our sensitive missile defense and nuclear weapon sites.” A missile from an F-22 fighter jet downed the balloon on Saturday off the South Carolina coast.