Republican Texas AG Ken Paxton is acquitted of corruption charges at historic impeachment trial
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was fully acquitted Saturday of corruption charges in a historic impeachment trial, a resounding verdict that reaffirms the power of the GOP's hard right and puts an indicted incumbent who remains under FBI investigation back into office.
The outcome demonstrated Paxton’s lasting durability in America’s biggest red state after years of criminal charges and scandal. And more broadly, it delivered a signature victory for the Texas GOP’s ascendent conservative wing, following an impeachment that gave a rare window into divisions among Republicans nationally heading into 2024.
“Today, the truth prevailed. The truth could not be buried by mudslinging politicians or their powerful benefactors,” Paxton said in a statement. He only attended a few hours of the two-week trial and was not there for the verdict.
The trial was a showcase of both sober testimony and occasional spectacle. In accusing Paxton of abusing his office, former advisers recounted how Texas' top lawyer allegedly pressured them to help a political donor who was under FBI investigation. The testimony included arguments over who paid for home renovations, whether Paxton used burner phones and how his alleged extramarital affair became a strain on the office.
Paxton denied wrongdoing and his attorneys argued there was either no evidence or that there wasn’t enough to rise beyond a reasonable doubt. They portrayed Paxton as the victim of a plot orchestrated by Republican rivals and waved to political conspiracies involving George P. Bush, the nephew of former President George W. Bush, who unsuccessfully challenged Paxton in last year's GOP primary.
Atlantic storm Lee brings fierce winds, surf to Canada and New England; 1 man killed in Maine
BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) — Atlantic storm Lee pummeled a large swath of New England and Maritime Canada with destructive winds, rough surf and torrential rains that toppled trees, flooded roadways and cut power to tens of thousands on Saturday. One person was killed in Maine when a tree limb fell on his vehicle.
The center of the sprawling post-tropical cyclone made landfall about 135 miles (215 kilometers) west of Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. That’s about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Eastport, Maine. It had near-hurricane-strength winds of 70 mph (110 kph), though the storm was weakening as it headed north to New Brunswick and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Lee flooded coastal roads in Nova Scotia and took ferries out of service as it fanned anxiety in a region still reeling from wildfires and severe flooding this summer. The province’s largest airport, Halifax Stanfield International, cancelled all flights.
“People are exhausted. ... It’s so much in such a small time period,” said Pam Lovelace, a councilor in Halifax.
The storm was so big that it caused power outages several hundred miles from its center. At midday Saturday, 11% of electricity customers in Maine lacked power, along with 27% of Nova Scotia, 8% of New Brunswick and 3% of Prince Edward Island.
The auto workers strike will drive up car prices, but not right away — unless consumers panic
DALLAS (AP) — Car shoppers are heading for a new round of sticker shock if the strike by the United Auto Workers doesn’t end soon, particularly for popular vehicles that are already in short supply.
The number of vehicles on dealer lots will shrink the longer the walkout goes on. Dealers are likely to lose incentives that the manufacturers pay them to boost sales by cutting prices.
And consumers might make things worse with panic-buying.
Many analysts think it will take several weeks before dealer lots start to look a bit empty. Ford, General Motors and Stellantis built up inventories of vehicles ahead of Thursday night’s strike, and the UAW decided to limit the walkout to just three plants – at least for now.
“Guys at the dealerships are going to tell you, ‘The UAW this and that,’ but their lots are full of cars now,” says Ivan Drury, the director of insights at Edmunds, a provider of information about the auto industry. He estimates that at current inventory levels and the pace of vehicle sales, most car shoppers shouldn’t notice much change for a couple of months.
The Senate's bipartisan approach to government funding is putting pressure on a divided House
WASHINGTON (AP) — On one side of the Capitol, two senators have steered the debate over government funding mostly clear of partisan fights, creating a path for bills to pass with bipartisan momentum.
Steps away, on the House side of the building, things couldn’t be more different.
House Republicans, trying to win support from the far-right wing of the party, have loaded up their government funding packages with spending cuts and conservative policy priorities. Democrats have responded with ire, branding their GOP counterparts as extreme and bigoted, and are withdrawing support for the legislation.
The contrary approaches are not unusual for such fights in Congress. But the differences are especially stark this time, creating a gulf between the chambers that could prove difficult to bridge. The dynamic threatens to plunge the United States into yet another damaging government shutdown, potentially as soon as the end of September when last year's funding expires.
Leaders in both chambers are trying to project strength as they enter negotiations that will determine the fate of billions of dollars in government programs, military aid for Ukraine and emergency disaster recovery funds.
Donald Trump's GOP rivals try to attract social conservatives in Iowa at an event he skipped
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Hoping to cut into Donald Trump's support at a major Iowa gathering of evangelical Christians, several of his top rivals on Saturday mostly avoided direct criticism of him on abortion and other issues key to social conservatives.
The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual banquet is traditionally a marquee event on the Republican primary calendar. But the former president skipped it, leaving a mostly muted crowd of more than 1,000 pastors and activists to instead hear from several candidates running far behind Trump.
The primary field's split on abortion was once again on display, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis saying restrictions on the procedure should be left to the stages — a position similar to Trump's — while former Vice President Mike Pence referred to Trump as his “former running mate” and said he was wrong to oppose a national abortion ban.
While the audience was overwhelmingly anti-abortion, Pence's push for a 15-week ban got only tepid applause, reflecting some national Republicans' concerns that Democrats are winning on abortion rights issues after last year's Supreme Court ruling overturning the Roe v. Wade decision.
DeSantis, who has struggled to solidify himself as the GOP primary's No. 2 behind Trump, declined to say he’d back a federal abortion ban. Instead, he said, states have done more on the issue.
Military officers begin to speak out on the harm done by Sen. Tuberville's holds on promotions
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the months since a single senator froze military promotions over the Pentagon’s abortion policy, the uniformed officers affected have been largely silent, wary of stepping into a political fray. But as the ramifications of Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s freeze have grown, more of them are speaking out.
This week, some of the military’s most senior leaders took the issue head on and voiced their concerns. They said the damage the holds will do to the military will be felt for years, as young talented officers decide they’ve had enough and choose to get out.
“We’re on the fringe of losing a generation of champions,” Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, the head Air Combat Command, told reporters this week at a defense conference in Maryland. Kelly said he’s talking to his junior officers, many with families, and they are “people who will take a bullet for the nation, the Constitution.” But when it comes to dragging their family through this, “there’s a red line.”
One of the unusual things about Tuberville’s holds is he’s punishing uniformed personnel who had nothing to do with creating the administration policy he’s against.
Uniformed military leaders typically avoid commenting on political decisions, not only because they don’t want to antagonize lawmakers who can block their future military promotions, but also because they don’t want to be seen as challenging civilian control of the military, a core tenet of U.S. government.
What if public transit was like Uber? A small city ended its bus service to find out
When a small city abruptly parked all its buses to launch a publicly subsidized van service offering $1.50 trips anywhere in town, only one of its bus drivers — a big-city transplant — went along for the ride.
Milton Barnes used to oversee packed subway stations in Washington, D.C., a far cry from the sparsely filled buses he drove after moving to Wilson, North Carolina, to care for his elderly parents. Although transit ridership plummeted almost everywhere due to the pandemic, it has been surging in Wilson since its September 2020 switch from a fixed-route system to an on-demand one powered by a smartphone app.
“All day long I’m picking up people and dropping them off,” Barnes, 59, the only driver to work under both systems, said while driving his van on a typically busy morning. “When you’ve got door-to-door, corner-to-corner service, it’s going to be more popular.”
Long wait times made the bus route almost unusable for David Bunn, even when his car broke down and he couldn't afford to replace it. Instead, Bunn, who has two broken discs in his back, would take a 5-mile (8-kilometer) roundtrip walk to pick up groceries. Then he spotted one of the public vans and dialed the phone number posted in a rear window.
“I don’t have to walk everywhere I want to go now,” said Bunn, 64. “They come pick me up, they’re respectful, and they’re very professional. It’s a great asset to Wilson and a great service to me.”
Supply problems and insurance issues make popular weight-loss drugs hard to get
When she prescribes the popular weight-loss drug Wegovy, Dr. Angela Fitch sends patients on a quest she likens to “The Hunger Games."
They will have to call drugstores over several days to find one with the properly sized first dose. Then they'll do that again for their second dose, and probably the third. And that’s only if the patient has insurance or the means to afford a drug that can cost more than $1,300 a month.
“This is not for the weak-willed,” said Fitch, who is president of the Obesity Medicine Association and also consults for drugmakers.
Supply problems and insurance complications have made it difficult for people to start — and stay on — Wegovy and similar medications that are transforming obesity treatment, according to doctors and patients around the country. They say getting the high-demand, injectable drugs requires persistence and a fair amount of luck.
People starting on Wegovy have to take injections of gradually increasing strength before they reach the so-called maintenance dose that they stay on.
Special UN summit, protests, week of talk turn up heat on fossil fuels and global warming
The heat is about to be turned up on fossil fuels, the United States and President Joe Biden.
As a record-smashing and deadly hot summer draws to a close, the United Nations and the city that hosts it are focusing on climate change and the burning of coal, oil and natural gas that causes it. It features a special U.N. summit and a week of protests and talk-heavy events involving leaders from business, health, politics and the arts. Even a royal prince — William — is getting in on the action.
The annual Climate Week, which coincides with the U.N. General Assembly, kicks off Sunday with tens of thousands of people expected in the “March to End Fossil Fuels” Manhattan rally, one of hundreds of worldwide protests.
This week “is the start of an incredible pressure cooker that we are all part of,” said Jean Su, a march organizer and energy justice director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is coming from the top down, from that chief of the United Nations and now it is coming from bottom up in over 400 distributed actions across the world.”
Much of the heat is coming from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is convening a new Climate Ambition Summit on Wednesday that has a special twist: Only leaders from nations that bring new and meaningful action will be allowed to speak. And the U.N. isn’t saying yet who will get that chance.
Hollywood strikes enter a new phase as daytime shows like Drew Barrymore's return despite pickets
NEW YORK (AP) — “The Drew Barrymore Show” will begin airing fresh episodes on Monday but a lot of off-air controversy will be clinging to its typically bubbly host.
Barrymore — a daughter of a proud acting dynasty — is making new batches of her syndicated talk show despite picketers outside her studio, as daytime TV becomes the latest battlefield in the ongoing Hollywood labor strife.
“We’re four months approximately into this strike and it’s not surprising that there are defectors,” said Michael H. LeRoy, a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “I couldn’t predict that this would happen on daytime TV, but everybody has a breaking point in a labor dispute.”
“The Drew Barrymore Show,” operating without its three union writers, isn’t the only daytime show to resume. “The View” has returned for its 27th season on ABC, while “Tamron Hall” and “Live With Kelly and Ryan” — neither are governed by writers guild rules — have also been producing fresh episodes. “The Jennifer Hudson Show” and “The Talk” are also restarting Monday.
As long as the hosts and guests don’t discuss or promote work covered by television, theatrical or streaming contracts, they're not technically breaking the strike. That's because talk shows are covered under a separate contract — the so-called Network Code — from the one actors and writers are striking. The Network Code also covers reality TV, sports, morning news shows, soap operas and game shows.
The Associated Press