Threat of government shutdown ends as Congress passes a temporary funding plan and sends it to Biden
WASHINGTON (AP) — The threat of a federal government shutdown suddenly lifted late Saturday hours before a midnight deadline as Congress approved a temporary funding bill to keep agencies open and sent the measure to President Joe Biden to become law.
The rushed package drops aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of GOP lawmakers, but increases federal disaster assistance by $16 billion, meeting Biden’s full request. The bill funds government until Nov. 17.
After chaotic days of turmoil in the House, Speaker Kevin McCarthy abruptly abandoned demands for steep spending cuts from his right flank and instead relied on Democrats to pass the bill, at risk to his own job. The Senate followed with final passage closing a whirlwind day at the Capitol.
“This is good news for the American people,” Biden said in a statement.
He also said the United States “cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted" and expected McCarthy "will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment."
A truck crash in Illinois kills 5, seriously injures 5 and forces an evacuation due to ammonia leak
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Five people were killed and five were seriously injured after a truck overturned in central Illinois, causing a toxic substance to leak from its cargo and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of area residents, authorities said Saturday.
A semitruck carrying caustic anhydrous ammonia toppled about 9:25 p.m. Friday night in Teutopolis, spilling more than half its 7,500-gallon (28,390-liter) load, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
Effingham County Coroner Kim Rhodes said the five dead included three from the same family — one adult and two children under 12. The other two were adult motorists from out of state, Rhodes said. Additionally, five people were airlifted to hospitals, their conditions unknown.
Names of the victims were not released, nor would authorities discuss causes of death.
Emergency crews worked overnight Saturday trying to control the plume from the leak and struggled to get near the crash site.
Dianne Feinstein was at the center of a key LGBTQ+ moment. She's being lauded as an evolving ally
Dianne Feinstein once stood at the center of a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history. Decades later, in death, she's being lauded by LGBTQ+ leaders as a longtime ally who, if she didn't always initially do the right thing, was able to learn and evolve.
Feinstein was president of the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors when she stood behind reporters’ microphones in November 1978 and grimly announced: “Both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed. The suspect is Supervisor Dan White.”
George Moscone was the liberal mayor of San Francisco; Milk was California’s first openly gay elected official. White was a disgruntled former fellow county supervisor who was the board’s sole vote against a gay anti-discrimination ordinance. And Feinstein, at age 45, found herself at the helm of a global center of gay life that, already roiled by the violence, was about to be further upended by AIDS.
She rose to the challenge and then some, advocates said after Feinstein, the nation's oldest sitting U.S. senator, died Thursday at age 90.
“Senator Feinstein stood with our community back when few others did, fighting for funding and action to combat the AIDS crisis when most elected officials chose to look away,” the advocacy group Equality California said in a news release Friday.
Arrest in Tupac Shakur killing stemmed from Biggie Smalls death investigation
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The first arrest in the 1996 slaying of Tupac Shakur had its roots in the investigation of the killing of Biggie Smalls.
The shooting deaths of the two hip-hop luminaries and rivals — Shakur in Las Vegas and Smalls in Los Angeles six months later — have always been culturally inseparable, and one man, Duane Keffe D. Davis, found himself involved in both investigations.
On Friday, Davis was arrested and charged with murder, with prosecutors saying he ordered and masterminded the Shakur killing.
Now retired Los Angeles police detective Greg Kading was assigned to investigate the slaying of Smalls — whose legal name was Christopher Wallace — and in 2009 interviewed Davis as a person of interest in the case. Davis had had been at the party at the Peterson Automotive Museum that Wallace had just left when he was shot.
Kading had helped build a federal drug case against Davis to get leverage to compel him to talk to Los Angeles police, who to date have made no arrests in the Wallace case.
The Supreme Court will take up abortion and gun cases in its new term while ethics concerns swirl
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is returning to a new term to take up some familiar topics — guns and abortion — and concerns about ethics swirling around the justices.
The year also will have a heavy focus on social media and how free speech protections apply online. A big unknown is whether the court will be asked to weigh in on any aspect of the criminal cases against former President Donald Trump and others or efforts in some states to keep the Republican off the 2024 presidential ballot because of his role in trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election that he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
Lower-profile but vitally important, several cases in the term that begins Monday ask the justices to constrict the power of regulatory agencies.
“I can't remember a term where the court was poised to say so much about the power of federal administrative agencies,” said Jeffrey Wall, who served as the deputy solicitor general in the Trump administration.
One of those cases, to be argued Tuesday, threatens the ability of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to function. Unlike most agencies, the bureau is not dependent on annual appropriations from Congress, but instead gets its funding directly from the Federal Reserve. The idea when the agency was created following the recession in 2007-08 was to shield it from politics.
When Kula needed water to stop wildfire, it got a trickle. Many other US cities are also vulnerable
Hours before devastating fires scorched the historic town of Lahaina on Maui, Kyle Ellison labored to save his rental house in Kula, a rural mountain town 24 miles away, from a different blaze.
As high winds whipped burning trees and grass, Ellison and his landlord struggled with plummeting water pressure. Ellison had to wait for pots to slowly fill in the sink before running them to the fire; his landlord wielded a garden hose with little more than a trickle. Firefighters had to rush away for half-hour stretches to find a working fire hydrant to refill their tanker, and every time they did, the fire gained.
“It’s a very disconcerting feeling when the fire department shows up and they don’t have water," Ellison said.
The lack of backup power for critical pumps seriously hindered firefighting in Kula, county water director John Stufflebean told The Associated Press. Once the winds knocked out electricity, pumps were unable to push water up into tanks and reservoirs that were key to maintaining pressure.
“If all those (pumps) had had generators, I think there is a pretty good chance we could have kept up,” Stufflebean said.
California governor rejects bill to give unemployment checks to striking workers
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California won't be giving unemployment checks to workers on strike, with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoing a bill Saturday that had been inspired by high-profile work stoppages in Hollywood and the hotel industry.
Newsom, a Democrat, says he supports workers and often benefits from campaign contributions from labor unions. But he said he vetoed this bill because the fund the state uses to pay unemployment benefits will be nearly $20 billion in debt by the end of the year.
“Now is not the time to increase costs or incur this sizable debt,” Newsom wrote in a veto message.
The fund the state uses to pay unemployment benefits is already more than $18 billion in debt. That’s because the fund ran out of money and had to borrow from the federal government during the pandemic, when Newsom ordered most businesses to close and caused a massive spike in unemployment. The fund was also beset by massive amounts of fraud that cost the state billions of dollars.
Plus, labor unions said unemployment benefits are good for the economy, allowing workers on strike to still spend money and support local businesses.
The police chief who led a raid of a small Kansas newspaper has been suspended
The police chief who led a highly criticized raid of a small Kansas newspaper has been suspended, the mayor confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday.
Marion Mayor Dave Mayfield in a text said he suspended Chief Gideon Cody on Thursday. He declined to discuss his decision further and did not say whether Cody was still being paid.
Voice messages and emails from the AP seeking comment from Cody's lawyers were not immediately returned Saturday.
The Aug. 11 searches of the Marion County Record’s office and the homes of its publisher and a City Council member have been sharply criticized, putting Marion at the center of a debate over the press protections offered by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Cody's suspension is a reversal for the mayor, who previously said he would wait for results from a state police investigation before taking action.
Federal agency sues Chipotle after a Kansas manager allegedly ripped off an employee's hijab
A federal agency has sued the restaurant chain Chipotle, accusing it of religious harassment and retaliation after a manager at a Kansas location forcibly removed an employee's hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim women.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that in 2021, an assistant manager at a Chipotle in Lenexa, Kansas, repeatedly harassed the employee by asking her to show him her hair, despite her refusal. After several weeks, the harassment culminated in him grabbing and partially removing her hijab, according to the complaint.
The manager's “offensive and incessant requests” that she remove her hijab, and his attempt to physically take it off, were “unwelcome, intentional, severe, based on religion, and created a hostile working environment based on religion," the complaint alleged.
Chipotle's chief corporate affairs officer, Laurie Schalow, said the company encourages employees to report concerns, including through an anonymous hotline.
"We have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and we have terminated the employee in question,” she said in an emailed statement.
The Dianne Feinstein they knew: Women of the Senate remember a tireless fighter and a true friend
WASHINGTON (AP) — When Washington Sen. Patty Murray received a call early Friday morning that Sen. Dianne Feinstein had died, she immediately started calling her fellow female senators.
The Democrat’s first call was to Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who had worked with Feinstein almost as long as she had. Murray and Feinstein were elected in 1992 — “the year of the woman” — and Collins was elected just four years later. Murray then called several other female Senate colleagues, hastily arranging a tribute.
“My immediate response was my women Senate colleagues that have been her friends and her family for so long, and that we needed to be together on the floor.” Murray said in an interview in her Capitol office Friday afternoon.
They were all there when the Senate opened at 10 a.m., just hours after Feinstein had died at her home in Washington after serving more than three decades in the Senate. Standing near Feinstein’s Senate desk, now draped in black cloth, the senators — along with some of their male colleagues — described her indomitable, fierce intelligence, her impact on the Senate and her deep knowledge of every issue she touched. They talked about how she had paved the way for so many women as the first female mayor of San Francisco, one of California’s first two female senators and the first female chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
But the women also talked about their private times with Feinstein that were at odds with her tough public persona -- how she would invite them out to dinners, how she would sometimes give them the clothes off her back, and how she brought them together for bipartisan gatherings as their ranks in the Senate grew from just a handful to one-quarter of the chamber. Several of them teared up as they spoke.
The Associated Press