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The Latest: Impeachment hearings wrap up for the week
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have made their closing arguments as they end the final impeachment hearing of the week — and perhaps the final hearing before they hand the probe over to the House Judiciary Committee.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff laid out what the committee has learned over the course of seven hearings on President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Schiff said the president believes “he is above the law” and “beyond accountability” as he pushed Ukraine to investigate Democrats and withheld military aid.
He said Democrats will have to examine “what is our duty” as they decide on next steps.
The top Republican on the panel, California Rep. Devin Nunes, called the hearings “a show trial” and said they had a pre-determined verdict.
In Thursday’s hearing, the committee heard testimony from former White House national security adviser Fiona Hill and David Holmes, the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.
Debate clash on race pushes issue to forefront for Democrats
ATLANTA (AP) — Race is moving to the forefront of the Democratic presidential primary after Pete Buttigieg used the debate stage Wednesday to connect his experiences as a gay man to black Americans’ long struggle against racism.
Kamala Harris countered Thursday that Buttigieg is “naive” and said he shouldn’t try to compare his life with what black Americans endure.
Buttigieg answered that he’s merely trying to speak up for one discriminated class as a member of another.
Harris is one of three black candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. Buttigieg is white and married his husband, Chasten, last year.
African Americans will play a critical role in choosing the nominee.
Separately Thursday, Joe Biden met with a group of black mayors, while Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders campaigned on Atlanta’s historically black college campuses.
CATHOLIC ABUSE-FRANCISCAN LAWSUIT
Lawsuit: Church pressured victims into unfair settlements
NEW YORK (AP) — Two impoverished Mississippi men who say they were sexually assaulted by Franciscan missionaries filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming that Catholic officials pressured them into signing settlements that paid them little money and required them to remain silent about the alleged abuse.
The lawsuit was filed in New York by two cousins, La Jarvis Love, of Senatobia, Mississippi, and Joshua Love, of Greenwood, Mississippi, black men from the Mississippi Delta. The men say they were abused by two Franciscan brothers when they were in a Catholic grade school in Greenwood, Mississippi. The suit says one of the friars also abused them during a trip to New York.
Accusations made by the Love cousins and Joshua’s younger brother, Raphael, were first reported by The Associated Press in August.
US calls for Iran crackdown videos, internet slowly returns
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — As the internet slowly is being revived across Iran after a dayslong, government-imposed shutdown amid demonstrations, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling on Iranians to send the U.S. videos “documenting the regime’s crackdown on protestors.”
Pompeo’s tweet early Friday comes as pockets of Iran saw internet over landlines restored.
He wrote: “The U.S. will expose and sanction the abuses.”
Authorities have said the internet may be entirely restored soon, suggesting Iran’s government put down the demonstrations that began Nov. 15 over government-set gasoline prices rising.
Amnesty International says protest unrest and a subsequent security crackdown killed at least 106 people. Iran disputes that figure without offering its own. A U.N. office earlier said it feared the unrest may have killed “a significant number of people.”
The Latest: Israeli PM Netanyahu rejects indictment
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected his indictment on an array of corruption charges, saying the country is witnessing an “attempted coup” against him.
In a defiant statement Thursday, Netanyahu said the indictment stemmed from “false accusations” and a systematically “tainted investigation.”
He spoke after the attorney general announced his indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three long-running corruption cases.
Netanyahu was unable to form a government following unprecedented back-to-back elections this year, in part because of his legal woes, and a third vote could be held within months.
CALIFORNIA HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING
Teen used ‘ghost gun’ in California high school shooting
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities say the teenager who shot five classmates, killing two, at a Southern California high school used an unregistered “ghost gun.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told media outlets Thursday that Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow’s .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol was assembled from gun parts and did not have a serial number.
Authorities are trying to determine how Berhow got the gun.
Berhow died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after the Nov. 14 shooting at Saugus High School in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita.
Authorities say Berhow had shown no signs of violence and didn’t appear to be linked to any ideology or terrorist group . Villanueva says Thursday his motive remains a mystery.
Officials identified the dead as 15-year-old Gracie Anne Muehlberger and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell.
FEDERAL DEATH PENALTY-THE LATEST
The Latest: US may take federal execution case to high court
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General William Barr tells The Associated Press he will take the Trump administration’s bid to restart federal executions after a 16-year hiatus to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Barr’s comments came hours after a district court judge temporarily blocked the administration’s plans to start executions next month. The administration is appealing the decision, and Barr says he will take the case to the high court if Thursday’s ruling stands.
He says the five inmates set to be executed are a small number of the 62 death row inmates.
The first federal execution was set for Dec. 9, with four others to quickly follow.
The inmates argue that the government is circumventing proper methods in order to wrongly execute inmates quickly.
Garrett’s suspension for helmet attack upheld after appeal
CLEVELAND (AP) — The NFL’s indefinite suspension of Cleveland Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett has been upheld by an appeals officer.
Garrett is banned for the final six regular-season games and playoffs for smashing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph over the head with a helmet last week.
Former player James Thrash felt the discipline for Garrett was warranted.
A 2017 No. 1 overall draft pick, Garrett made the case for his suspension being reduced on Tuesday in New York to Thrash, jointly appointed by the league and NFLPA to hear player appeals.
The loss of Garrett is a significant setback to the Browns, who are trying to end a postseason drought dating to 2002.
Thrash also reduced the suspension for Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey from three games to two for punching and kicking Garrett following the shocking assault on Rudolph.
The Browns visit the Steelers on Dec. 1.
Colombia protesters hope to channel wave of discontent
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombians angry with conservative President Iván Duque are hoping to channel Latin America’s wave of discontent as they take to the streets Thursday with a long list of grievances, from persistent economic inequality to violence against social activists.
Labor unions, student groups and ordinary citizens are expected to join in what could be one of the nation’s biggest demonstrations in recent years, testing an unpopular government as unrest grips the region.
Analysts are skeptical, however, that the event will generate any prolonged unrest like that seen recently in Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador, noting a lack of unifying factors in a divided country that is one of the region’s stronger economic performers.
The Duque government is nevertheless on edge, deploying 170,000 officers to enforce security.
THE RECKONING-BOARD FAILURES
AP: Catholic Church boards reviewing sex abuse fail victims
Facing thousands of clergy sex-abuse cases, U.S. Catholic leaders addressed their greatest modern crisis with a promised reform: Mandatory review boards.
These independent panels with lay people in each diocese would review allegations fairly and kindly, and help bishops ensure that abusive priests weren’t in ministry.
But almost two decades later, an Associated Press investigation of review boards across the country shows they have broadly failed to uphold these commitments. Instead, boards appointed by bishops and operating in secrecy have routinely undermined victims’ claims, shielded accused priests and helped the church avoid payouts.
Several bishops contacted by the AP did not respond to requests for comment. Others said review boards are mostly living up to the promises of the reforms mandated in 2002.
“They are critical to regaining the trust and confidence of our people,” Baltimore Archbishop William Lori said.