At least 7 dead as severe winds, tornadoes hammer US South
SELMA, Ala. (AP) — A massive storm system whipping up severe winds and spawning tornadoes cut a path across the U.S. South, killing at least seven people in Georgia and Alabama, where a twister damaged buildings and tossed cars in the streets of historic downtown Selma. Authorities said a clearer picture of the extent of the damage would come once the sun rose Friday. As of Thursday night, tens of thousands of customers were without power across the two states. In Selma, the city council used lights from cellphones as they held a meeting on the sidewalk to declare a state of emergency. Six of the deaths were recorded Autauga County, Alabama.
Garland appoints special counsel to investigate Biden docs
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to investigate the presence of documents with classified markings found at President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and at an office in Washington. Earlier Thursday, Biden acknowledged that a document with classified markings from his time as vice president was found in his “personal library” at his home in Delaware, along with other classified documents found in his garage. Biden told reporters at the White House that he was “cooperating fully and completely” with a Justice Department investigation. Biden did not say when the latest documents were found, only that his lawyers’ review of potential storage locations was completed Wednesday night.
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies at 54
Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis Presley and a singer-songwriter dedicated to her father’s legacy, died Thursday after being hospitalized for a medical emergency. She was 54. Presley’s death was confirmed by her mother, Priscilla, who called her daughter “the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known.” Presley, the only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, shared her father’s brooding charisma. She followed him professionally, releasing her own rock albums in the 2000s, and appearing on stage with Pat Benatar and Richard Hawley among others. She was married four times, including to Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage. She had four children.
Suspect charged with murder in assassination of Japan’s Abe
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese media say prosecutors have formally charged the suspect in the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with murder. Tetsuya Yamagami was arrested immediately after Abe was shot while giving a campaign speech in July. A mental evaluation ended Tuesday, and prosecutors say it found he was fit to stand trial. Police say Yamagami told them he killed Abe because of his apparent links to a religious group he hated. Some Japanese have expressed sympathy for Yamagami, especially children of followers of the Unification Church, which is known for pressuring adherents into making big donations and is considered a cult in Japan. The investigation also revealed years of cozy ties between Abe’s political party and the church.
Biden’s Delaware home is now a player in document drama
WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s President Joe Biden’s refuge from Washington — a place that’s part home office, part Sunday family dinner venue, a safe place for his treasured 1967 Corvette and a makeshift campaign studio during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, is coming under fresh scrutiny as a repository of classified material. The White House confirmed Thursday that classified records were found in the garage of Biden’s Wilmington home, as well as an adjacent room. The announcement shines a brighter spotlight on the house where he regularly spends weekends. So far in his presidency, Biden has spent part or all of 194 days in his home state of Delaware.
MLK holiday to feature tributes, commitments to race agenda
Annual tributes and commemorations of the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which begin nationwide on Friday, typically include a mix of politics, faith and community service. This year, Bernice King, daughter of the late civil rights icon and CEO of the King Center in Atlanta, says she hopes to spur progress by helping more Americans personalize the ongoing struggle for racial equity and harmony. She’s doing that through a number of King holiday weekend events, including a civil rights training summit for youth and adults. Other King holiday weekend events include a statue unveiling in Boston, a symposium on police brutality in Akron, Ohio, and community service projects in many U.S. cities.
Speaker McCarthy’s tidy 1st week disguises trouble ahead
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Kevin McCarthy wrapped his first full week as House speaker in the most outwardly orderly way. There was hardly a hint of the chaotic, rebellious fight it took for the Republicans to arrive here, having barely installed him as the leader with the gavel. The House Republicans marched through the early days of the session passing bills, choosing committee chairman, even requesting its first documents for investigations of President Joe Biden and his family. But the semblance of House GOP unity is all but certain to be temporary as Congress faces more difficult questions ahead around spending cuts and the federal debt limit.
China’s trade surplus swells to $877.6B as exports grow
BEIJING (AP) — China’s trade surplus swelled to a record $877.6 billion in 2022 as exports rose 7% despite weakening U.S. and European demand and anti-virus controls that temporarily shut down Shanghai and other industrial centers. Customs data showed exports increased to $3.95 trillion, decelerating from 2021′s explosive 29.9% gain. Imports edged up 1.1% to 2.7 trillion, cooling from the previous year’s 30.1% rise as growth in the world’s second-largest economy slowed. The country’s politically sensitive trade surplus expanded by 29.7% from 2021′s record, already the highest ever for any economy. China’s annual trade surplus with the United States widened by 1.8% from the previous year to $404.1 billion.
‘Catastrophe’: Cardinal Pell’s secret memo blasts Francis
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis will deliver a final send-off for Cardinal George Pell during a funeral Mass on Saturday. The Vatican announced on Thursday the arrangements as new revelations emerge of the Australian prelate’s growing concern about what he considered the “disaster” and “catastrophe” of the papacy under Francis. Pell had served as Francis’ first finance minister for three years before returning to Australia to face child sex abuse charges. He died on Tuesday at a Rome hospital of heart complications following hip surgery. He was 81.
2022 was fifth or sixth warmest on record as Earth heats up
DENVER (AP) — Government science teams say that 2022 didn’t quite set a record for heat, but it was in the top five or six warmest on record depending on who’s doing the measuring. And NOAA, NASA and others say the last eight years have been the warmest eight on record. Thursday’s release of global temperature data includes several agencies from around the globe. At least 28 countries, including China and the United Kingdom, set national records for hottest years on record. Scientists expect this year to be even warmer and next year could shatter records. That’s because this year was cooled by a La Nina that will likely dissipate.