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World News

    One of R. Kelly’s alleged victims from Atlanta reportedly attended his bail hearing in Chicago for a new sexual assault case on Saturday. » RELATED: Judge sets R. Kelly's bond at $1M According to The Blast and TMZ, Joycelyn Savage sat in the first row reserved for Kelly’s family and friends as the singer, born Robert Kelly, appeared before the judge, who set his bail at $1 million. Gerald Griggs, the attorney of Joycelyn Savage’s parents Tim and JonJelyn Savage, could not confirm whether she was present. However, he reiterated that he and his clients have not had contact with Joycelyn Savage in two years. The Savages believe Kelly “brainwashed” their child and held her against her will in a cult at his Atlanta home, which he was evicted from in last February.  The Savages, who said they’ve reached out to Kelly’s team five times to meet with their daughter, also believe the songwriter is keeping Joycelyn Savage from contacting them. Joycelyn Savage has denied the claims. Her parents sent their last request for a meeting in January. “The Savage family awaits the day that they can have unfettered contact with their daughter apart from the predation and manipulation of Robert Sylvester Kelly,” Griggs told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. On Friday, Kelly was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.  Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx unveiled a grand jury indictment against him that involves four victims, three of them minors at the time of the alleged crimes. Kelly, who has denied all allegations, surrendered to police Friday night and remains in custody following the bail hearing. “We understand the judge’s ruling on the issue of bond and the right of a criminal defendant to be presumed innocent,” Griggs said. “As the facts come forward, that presumption of innocence will fade and a conviction will be secured.” » RELATED: R. Kelly surrenders to Chicago police
  • Three days before ethnically split Cyprus' rival leaders meet in hopes of finding a way to revitalize reunification talks, the country's foreign ministry says Turkish forces in the breakaway north are throwing up new impediments for Greek Cypriots living in a village abutting a British military base. The foreign ministry said Saturday that a new fence erected along a rural road in Strovilia blocks farmers from reaching their fields. The ministry said the U.N. peacekeeping mission has noted the actions as breaching the area's military status quo. Turkey has kept 35,000 troops in the Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when it invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. In 2000, Turkish forces had advanced their positions further into Strovilia.
  • Israeli prime minister is defending his partnership with a small ultranationalist party despite local and international condemnation. Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday took to Twitter and called the criticism, which also came from pro-Israel Jewish organizations in the US, as 'hypocrisy and double standards.' Netanyahu is seeking a fourth straight term as premier in Israel's April election. Earlier this week, his Likud party formed a partnership with a smaller merged party that includes members of the 'Jewish Power' movement. Jewish Power embraces ideas of late rabbi Meir Kahane, who wanted a Jewish theocracy and advocated forced removal of Palestinians. In 1997, Washington classified his Kach movement a terrorist group. Netanyahu accused leftist critics of having once acted 'to put extreme Islamists into the Knesset' to weaken the right.
  • A court in North Macedonia has ordered that a former government minister who was assaulted in a prison yard by other inmates be detained at home instead. The court in the capital of Skopje decided late Friday that former construction minister Mile Janakieski should serve his pre-trial 30-day detention at home after he was slightly injured in the attack. Janakieski was punched and kicked by inmates in the prison yard. He appealed the detention after the incident. Janakieski, a conservative, is awaiting trial in connection with the violent storming of parliament in 2017. A former labor minister facing similar charges remained detained in prison. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev forced the head of the main prison in Skopje to resign over the attack.
  • Poland's ruling party leader has pledged more social benefits for families with children and for the elderly as he opened the right-wing party's campaign ahead of key elections this year. Speaking at a party convention Saturday, Jaroslaw Kaczynski announced an upgrade to the generous social program of his Law and Justice party, a policy that has kept the party top of the political polls since it won power in 2015. But opinion polls show the party could lose to a united opposition in the European Parliament election in May and in a vote for Poland's national parliament in the fall. Kaczynski, Poland's most powerful politician, is also facing recent allegations of soliciting a bribe and unlawful participation in business negotiations. He called urged supporters to rally for the party ahead of the elections. His speech drew applause and chants of 'Jaroslaw, Jaroslaw!' from party members. But it also drew criticism from the opposition and economists about the high cost of his promises, at a time when Poland's health care and education systems remain strapped. Kaczynski promised to expand family benefits to cover every child, abolish taxes for young employees and raise payouts for retirees. He promised to restore bus connections among small towns and villages that were cancelled years ago as unprofitable. He said the decisions aim to improve 'the quality of life, an increase in our freedom and equality' as Poland tries to catch up with richer western Europe. Prime Minister Premier Mateusz Morawiecki estimated the costs of the program at up to 40 billion zlotys (9 billion euros) a year, but said he knows how to finance it.
  • A police officer in Somalia says Islamic extremist gunmen shot dead a prominent lawmaker in the north of the capital, Mogadishu, late Saturday. Capt. Mohamed Hussein said Osman Elmi Boqore, the country's oldest legislator estimated to be over 80, was shot dead by gunmen who pulled up near his car as he was being driven through Karan district. Somalia's Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, which is allied with al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the murder of Boqore, an outspoken politician and one of the country's longest-serving members of parliament. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and his prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire condemned the assassination, instructing security services to investigate. Al-Shabab has previously carried out attacks against government officials, African Union peacekeepers and United Nations staff in a deadly campaign of suicide bombings and gun attacks. Militant attacks have continued despite al-Shabab being ousted from its bases in Mogadishu in 2011.
  • Marella Agnelli, widow of Fiat tycoon Gianni Agnelli and a 20th-century symbol of elegance and beauty, died Saturday at her family home in Turin, in Italy's northern Piedmont region, at age 91. Her death was reported by Italian state TV and the Juventus soccer team, which is part of the Agnelli economic empire. Piedmont Gov. Sergio Chiamparino said Italy lost 'an illustrious figure who accompanied Turin's 20th-century history with grace and elegance.' The daughter of a Neapolitan aristocrat, Filippo Caracciolo di Castagneto, and of an Illinois-born mother, Margaret Clarke, Marella Caracciolo was born in Florence in 1927. With an academic arts background from studies in Paris, she did photography for Conde Nast publications and also designed textiles, including for U.S. manufacturers and department stores. Agnelli herself was the subject of a photo that became an iconic fashion image — a 1953 black-and-white portrait by Richard Avedon highlighting her long, graceful neck and dignified beauty. Her elongated neck earned her the nickname of 'The Swan.' That same year, she married Giovanni 'Gianni' Agnelli, the dashingly handsome scion of the Fiat automobile company who had a playboy reputation. The couple had two children, Edoardo, who died in 2000, and Margherita. Marella Agnelli was admired for her style and class, a standout beauty in a family likened to royalty in Italy, where residents eagerly followed their jet-set lifestyle. Her husband died in 2003. The Juventus soccer team hailed her arts patronage, including as honorary president of the Giovanni and Marella Agnelli Pinacoteca, an art gallery in Turin, the Fiat headquarters city. She published several books about gardens, one of her passions. In 2014, her autobiographical 'The Last Swan,' co-authored with a niece, was published.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron pledged Saturday to protect European farming standards and culinary traditions threatened by aggressive foreign trade practices that see food as a 'product like any other.' Macron's speech at his country's premier agriculture fair was aimed at assuaging French farmers' anger at government policies seen as favoring urban elites and neglecting a heartland cherished for producing famed cheeses and wines. Europe's 'civilization of eating well, of gastronomy, of the art of living' is now threatened by world powers that pursue aggressive trade policies and 'consider food a product like any other,' without taking into account environmental, health or culinary concerns, Macron said. Macron proposed using block-chain technology to trace the source of food and putting Europe in the 'avant-garde of agricultural technology.' He spoke amid European Union talks on the bloc's next agricultural aid plan, a major source of funding for French farmers. He appealed for unity at those talks and argued against calls to re-nationalize French farming policy. 'In agriculture, just like in many other areas, we must invent a new global deal. Yes, we must be on the offensive, carrying out a deep reform of trade policies,' said Macron, who didn't shy away from engaging in technical conversations with farmers as he walked past their stands. Along his tour, Macron was offered a mini-hamburger made of Cantal cheese and Salers beef, a famous breed native to central France. He appealed to French farmers to view their livelihoods in a global context, but many are struggling under day-to-day debt and uncertainty about the future. 'Our first concern is Europe-related, because the norms are not the same for everybody,' said Philippe Monod, a dairy farmer. 'We are concerned about the trade between Europe and the rest of the world. You have produces coming from Chile or Russia, with regulations a lot less strict and cheaper prices.' Macron is seen by many in rural France as epitomizing out-of-touch city elites, and many French farmers want more government help to face growing foreign competition. Still, apart from a few boos, Macron was treated with respect during his visit at the Salon d'Agriculture. He met with dairy farmers, pork producers, vintners and others as he tried to tackle their concerns head-on by spending all day Saturday at the fair. The yearly Salon has long been a key event of the French political calendar, with French presidents often using the event to test their popularity. Jacques Chirac used to spend whole days at the fair drinking and speaking with farmers while patting their cows. Back in 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy was involved in a spat with man who refused to shake his hand and the former president hit back with an insult. Security was tight for Macron's visit Saturday, which came as yellow vest protesters held anti-government protests around Paris and other cities for a 15th straight weekend. Macron, whose approval ratings have bounced back in recent weeks, was booed at last year's farm fair over plans to ban a popular pesticide and trade deals.
  • Iceland's whaling industry will be allowed to keep hunting whales for at least another five years, killing up to 2,130 baleen whales under a new quota issued by the government. The five-year whaling policy was up for renewal when Fisheries Minister Kristjan Juliusson announced this week an annual quota of 209 fin whales and 217 minke whales for the next five years. While many Icelanders support whale hunting, a growing number of businessmen and politicians are against it due to the North Atlantic island nation's dependence on tourism. Whaling, they say, is bad for business and poses a threat to the country's reputation and the expanding international tourism that has become a mainstay of Iceland's national economy. 'We risk damaging the tourism sector, our most important industry,' legislator Bjarkey Gunnarsdottir said, referring to the international criticism and diplomatic pressure that Iceland faces for allowing the commercial hunting of whales. The Icelandic Travel Industry Association issued a statement Friday saying the government was damaging the nation's 'great interests' and the country's reputation to benefit a small whaling sector that is struggling to sell its products. 'Their market for whale meat is Japan, Norway and the Republic of Palau,' the tourism statement said. 'Our market is the entire globe.' Iceland's Statistics Agency says tourism accounts for 8.6 percent of Iceland's economic production. In 2016, tourism produced more revenue than Iceland's fishing industry for the first time. Iceland has four harpoon-equipped vessels, owned by three shipping companies reported to be running them at a loss or small profit. Last year, the industry killed 5 minke whales and 145 fin whales, according to the Directorate of Fisheries. Since commercial whale hunting resumed in Iceland in 2006, whaling companies have never killed their full quota. As a result, it's considered unlikely that all 2,130 whales will be killed under this policy. The International Whaling Commission imposed a ban on commercial whaling in the 1980s due to dwindling stocks. Japan in December said it was pulling out of the IWC due to its disagreement with that policy. Iceland is still a member of the IWC.
  • Color was the watch word on the fourth day Saturday of the mostly womenswear collections during Milan Fashion Week. The Salvatore Ferragamo and Roberto Cavalli fashion houses each set off neutrals with bursts of hues while combining their women's and men's previews for Fall/Winter 2019-20. Ferragamo's color palette ranged from a peacock blue to an icy sage, mauve with forest green, while the Cavalli collection turned on a melange of turquoise, magenta, ochre, saffron and sky blue. Another trend on Milan runways this season: including older models, a sign that fashion houses are taking their laser focus off millennials and returning it to a significant luxury demographic. Some highlights of Saturday's shows: ___ SALVATORE FERRAGAMO OWNS LEATHER Salvatore Ferragamo's latest collection drew inspiration from the brand's heritage with sculpted heels on footwear, a fresh emphasis on leather ready-to-wear and lots of color, combining innovation and craftsmanship to create a modern vibe. The combined womenswear and menswear collections included leather apparel for day and night, stretching beyond overcoats and footwear. That included long leather skirts with a pretty slit, a long black leather evening gown and a leather jumpsuit, as well as sportier suits for him and for her. 'Being a luxury heritage brand, I feel like we should own leather dressing,' said Ferragamo creative director Paul Andrew. A Nappa leather puffer coat that had the sheen of technical fabric in a luxurious chocolate brown summed up the collection's innovation. 'You pick it up and it's lightweight. It's built in a way that you can just sort of scrunch it up into nothing,' Andrew said. The brand's signature footwear included a remastered sculpted heel inspired by a 1968 design by Fiamma Ferragama for women and rugged Nubuck trekking boots for men. Andrew included older models on the runway because 'they really epitomize the woman that I am going after. In fact, Ferragamo is not dressing 17-year-old girls only. We also have clients who are 30, 40, 50, 60, 70.' Andrew, who joined Ferragamo in 2016 as shoe designer then added womenswear, was named this week as creative director for the fashion house. He will continue the collaboration Guillaume Meilland, head of menswear, with both working across the segments for a complete vision. _____ ROBERTO CAVALLI REINVENTS ANIMAL PRINTS Creative director Paul Surridge's opening look for Roberto Cavalli was a print with the power and shades of an Arizona sunset, giving the brand's heritage animal print designs a fresh new twist and planting color at the center of the new collection. The collection offered women and men a sense of freedom in both movement and dressing. A pleated mini-dress billowed into evening length in the back, while knit dresses echoed the silkier pleating, projecting a contemporary silhouette with stronger shoulders and narrow bodice. Standout pieces included dresses decorated with shells and studs to create a rich pattern and snug, beaded art-deco evening dresses with cut-outs to reveal an under-layer that Surridge said was meant to be suggestive of a body tattoo. Coats for men featured exaggerated buttons and closures, while suits were dressed up with colorful patterned turtlenecks under suit jackets and shirts. For younger dressers, there were ski vests over big animal-print anoraks and matching tops, with the brand's new Vortex sneaker. 'It's about pushing boundaries. You have to be inclusive, not only on body shape but also age, and offering modern solutions for day, evening and cocktail,' Surridge said backstage. ____ GIORGIO ARMANI'S RHAPSODY IN BLUE Giorgio Armani cast blue accents over his elegant collection for next fall and winter, with sculpted details recalling roses, or mini-cyclones. Armani held the combined women's and men's preview for the first time in his Silos museum, which collects and encapsulates the designer's creations. The female silhouette was elongated, accentuating curves, while the looks for men were strong and classic. Together they cut an elegant, evening figure. In fact, the collection shown under twilight lighting contained no strictly daytime looks. For women, dark suits featured short jackets with woven ribbon details in contrasting midnight blue and pants with a jodhpur profile. Long evening coats had sculpted necks. Belts and handbags both had ruffles that gave voluminous accent to the looks. An iridescent rose appeared on a top. The fronts of jackets were constructed to resemble a rose petal. Velvet pantsuits sparkled. Beyond the classic suits with slim fitting pants and structured jackets, men could choose from a loose velvet coat over a satiny shirt for a more indulgent, relaxed silhouette. Armani called the men's and women's collections 'complementary expressions of the same vision, united through the color blue.' ____ MISSONI'S BLUE LIGHT Missoni's looks for next fall and winter were heavily stylized -- giving an entree to anyone aspiring to enter the Missoni family. The combined menswear and womenswear looks were shown under a cast of blue light Womenswear was heavily accessorized by the family-run brand's own woven accents. There were dainty knit collars, often with a sparkle and slightly gathered, detached sleeves to accompany sleeveless tops, dickies that sometimes were long enough to be scarves, and hoods, ubiquitous hoods, that were less sporty and more for an elegant head cover. Knit belts cinched at the waist gave shape to open sweaters or dresses. Wraps were long and enveloping, often over finely knit pantsuits or pencil skirts. Jumpsuits cast a youthful silhouette. Looks were finished with rolled beanies. Menswear was relaxed, with robe-like outerwear over striped knits and easy trousers. A sparkly men's sweater faded from twilight to deepest night, and was worn with a sparkly knit foulard. 'The chroma allows everything to come back,' creative director Angela Missoni said in notes. 'As such, it shows no nostalgia.
  • A Great Dane that died in 1990 helped conceive a litter of puppies born on Valentine’s Day, KHOU reported. >> Read more trending news  Topper was a Great Dane born in 1980. His owner, Marilyn Herdejurgen, had the dog’s semen frozen 34 years ago, the television station reported. Topper died in 1990. It was used to impregnate Herdejurgen’s latest Great Dane, 3-year-old Rubix, KHOU reported. The procedure is not new, but the long gap between the father’s death and the conception is unusual. “I’m not sure, but that’s what they’re saying that these are the oldest puppies that have been produced from the frozen semen,” Herdejurgen told the television station. “It’s strange … that it’s been so long ago, and here these puppies are from him (Topper). It’s pretty exciting. This is, like I said, I think a little miracle.”
  • U.S. Attorney Trent Shores announced at a news conference in Tulsa on Thursday that he has charged 18 members and associates of the Universal Aryan Brotherhood. “The Universal Aryan Brotherhood operated a lucrative criminal organization from within Oklahoma’s prison walls using contraband cell phones,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. The indictment alleges that the UAB gang members trafficked meth and killed rivals. “The tools of their trade were hate, fear, affliction, and violence. Prosecutors say nine people were murdered as part of the UAB’s racketeering operations  Four suspects were apprehended Monday and Tuesday in Tulsa, while seven others have been transferred from Oklahoma Department of Corrections at McAlester.  The remainder have been arrested or are in the custody of Department of Corrections or Bureau of Prisons facilities.  
  • Police in Chicago arrested “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett early Thursday on suspicion of lying to authorities when he reported last month that he had been assaulted early on Jan. 29 by a pair of men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him. At a news conference Thursday, police said Smollett sent himself a threatening letter and later paid two brothers to attack him in an effort to further his career. “This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. President Donald Trump responded on Twitter Thursday morning to reports that police had arrested Smollett on suspicion of filing a false police report. “What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?” the president wrote. Smollett told police he was attacked early on Jan. 29 by a pair of white men who yelled that he was in “MAGA country” -- an apparent reference to Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again” -- and that they hit him in the face, poured an “unknown substance” on him and wrapped a rope around his neck, The Associated Press reported. Police arrested Smollett early Thursday on a charge of disorderly conduct after officers said they uncovered evidence he orchestrated the attack to boost his career. Police said Thursday that a pair of brothers who were arrested and later released in connection to the Jan. 29 incident confessed to authorities that they had been paid by Smollett to fake an attack on him. “They punched him a little bit, but as far as we can tell, the scratches and bruises that he had on his  face were self-inflicted,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference. According to officials, Smollett paid the brothers $3,500 to stage the attack, with another $500 promised later. Johnson said officers had by Thursday obtained a copy of the check Smollett paid to the men. “One of the brothers worked on ‘Empire,’ so they had a relationship, an association,” Johnson said. “He probably knew that he needed somebody with bulk. ... (The brothers) did it because of the financial aspect of it.” Police said the brothers confessed to their roles in the attack in the 47th hour of their 48-hour holds after police arrested them last week. On Thursday, officers called them “victims,” and not offenders in the attack. Johnson said the brothers are cooperating witnesses and that, “Mr. Smollett is the one who orchestrated this crime.” “I think the fact that this was staged and that Jussie hired these two guys to stage this ... put them in a really tough party as well, to the point where now they were arrested for a hate crime,” Detective Commander Edward Wodnicki said Thursday. “Only because of just the incredible work by the entire team did we get to the point where we were able to get the truth from them.” Police said Thursday that Smollett sent himself a threatening, homophobic letter in the days before he reported he was attacked by a pair of assailants in downtown Chicago. “This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism” to boost his career, Johnson said. “We do not, nor will we ever tolerate hate in this city.” Police are expected to provide more information in the case at a news conference scheduled for 9 a.m. local time (10 a.m. EST) Thursday. Smollett turned himself in to Chicago police on a charge of felony disorderly conduct in falsifying a police report, The Associated Press is reporting. Smollett’s Chicago attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, released a statement following the indictment: “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.” The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report on Jan.29. The charge is a Class 4 felony that carries a possible prison sentence of 1-3 years, but he could also receive probation. The bond hearing has been set for 1:30pm Thursday according to WLS-TV. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted that detectives will make contact with his attorneys and negotiate a surrender for his arrest. “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is now considered a suspect and detectives are presenting case to grand jury according to the Chief Communications Officer for Chicago Police Department. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted the news on Wednesday after Smollett’s attorneys met with prosecutors and detectives. A police official said lawyers for Jussie Smollett are meeting with prosecutors and police investigators about the reported attack on the “Empire” actor.  Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Associated Press the meeting was taking place Wednesday afternoon. He declined to confirm reports that subpoenas had been issued for Smollett’s phone and bank records. Officials with 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment on Wednesday denied reports Smollett was being written out of “Empire” in a statement released to WBBM-TV. “Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show,” the statement said. The comment followed reports that Smollett's role on the show was being slashed amid investigations into the actor's report that he was attacked in Chicago last month. Authorities continue to investigate. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself Monday from the investigation into the reported attack against Smollett, according to WMAQ-TV. In a statement emailed to the station, a spokesperson for Foxx’s office said First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats would instead serve as acting state’s attorney in the case. “Out of an abundance of caution, the decision to recuse herself was made to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case,” the statement said, according to WMAQ-TV. No further information was provided on the reason behind for the recusal. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Tuesday that authorities determined a tip they were investigating about a possible sighting of Smollett and the brothers who were previously suspected in the attack were unfounded. “It was not supported by video evidence obtained by detectives,” Guglielmi said. Original report: Authorities are investigating a tip that Smollett was seen in an elevator in his apartment building with two men who have since been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the attack in downtown Chicago, and were subsequently released without charges, police told The Associated Press. The men, who were identified by attorney Gloria Schmidt as brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, were released without charges Friday after police said new evidence surfaced in the case, according to CNN and police.  >> 'I will only stand for love': 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett performs in California after attack Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told The Associated Press a person who lives in the building or who was visiting someone there reported seeing the Osundairo brothers with Smollett on the night he was attacked. Guglielmi told the AP that as of Tuesday, officers had yet to confirm the account. Smollett told officers he was attacked around 2 a.m. Jan. 29, as he was walking downtown near the Chicago River. He said two men yelled that he was in “MAGA country” -- an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again” -- and that they hit him in the face, poured an “unknown substance” on him and wrapped a rope around his neck, The Associated Press reported. >> Jussie Smollett's attorneys say he will not meet with investigators, despite reports Guglielmi told the AP that Smollett still had a rope around his neck when officers first made contact with him after the alleged attack. Last week, police announced that the 'investigation had shifted' following interviews with the brothers and their release from custody without charges. Police have requested another interview with Smollett. They have declined to comment on reports that the attack was a hoax, a claim Smollett’s attorneys have denied. 'Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying,' Smollett’s attorneys said in a statement late Saturday. Authorities continue to investigate. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A soldier from Mississippi had a heartwarming and memorable homecoming Wednesday.  Sgt. Joshua Stokes, of the Mississippi National Guard, surprised his 8-year-old daughter in her classroom after a yearlong tour overseas. Shelby Stokes had no idea what was coming. As far as she knew, her dad had five more weeks of deployment in Kuwait.  The separation was tough for the whole family, but WHBQ-TV was there as Stokes gave his daughter the surprise of a lifetime at DeSoto Central Primary School in Mississippi.  Classmates, teachers and reporters looked on as Stokes approached Shelby from behind and tapped her on the shoulder. She thought she was getting in trouble, but then she quickly realized her father had come home. “I thought it was a teacher. But it wasn’t. It was Daddy,” Shelby said. Shelby jumped into her father’s arms, and the two embraced.  “I’m just happy to see my girl,” Stokes said.  The soldier and his family are heading for some long-overdue time at home. 
  • Tulsa County deputies were serving a warrant near Apache and M.L.K Jr. Blvd. when the suspect took off Wednesday morning. Investigators say the suspect, John McIntosh, was at work when he assaulted a deputy and drove to his home near Hamilton Elementary School. McIntosh then took off again and climbed the roof of the school near Virgin and Sheridan. Hamilton Elementary and Tulsa MET Junior & Senior High School were put on lockdown. Deputies were eventually able to get McIntosh off the roof and place him under arrest.

Washington Insider

  • Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled their one page plan on Friday to overturn President Donald Trump's bid to funnel more money to a border wall by declaring a national emergency, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters said the House would vote next Tuesday to block the President's executive actions on funding for the wall. 'Members of Congress all swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution,' the Speaker said. 'The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated,' Pelosi wrote earlier this week in a letter to fellow Democrats. Democrats said they already have more than a majority of members signed on to the one page resolution to reject the Trump national emergency. 'We hope that enough of our normal Republican enablers will join us to stand up for the Constitution,' said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). 'If not, we’re ready to turn to the courthouse.' As of Friday, only one Republican in the House had signed on to the plan to reject the President’s national emergency, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). “Trump’s absurd declaration of a “national emergency” undercuts the Constitution,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), as approval in the House would send the plan to the Senate. Under special rules governing this process, GOP leaders would not be able to ignore the House action, as a vote must take place on the resolution. But even if it passes in the Senate, a veto is likely by President Trump, and at this point - it seems unlikely that Democrats could muster enough GOP votes for a two-thirds supermajority to override a veto.
  • Federal prosecutors in California unveiled criminal charges on Thursday against an IRS investigator for leaking suspicious financial reports associated with President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, allegedly giving banking information on Cohen to lawyer Michael Avenatti, who was then locked in a legal fight with the President over hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. An investigative analyst for the IRS Criminal Investigative Division in San Francisco, John Fry is alleged to have searched files for 'Suspicious Activity Reports' about Cohen, giving the information to Avenatti, who then tweeted out the material on May 8, 2018. The criminal complaint charges that the information Fry released was later published by the Washington Post on May 8, and then by the New Yorker on May 16. It was not immediately clear how Fry and Avenatti knew each other. The information which was released centered on a series of banking transactions involving Cohen - which had been flagged by federal officials - totaling over $6 million, and included questions about possible 'fraudulent and illegal financial transactions' by Cohen in 'Singapore, Hungary, Malaysia, Canada, Taiwan, Kenya, and Israel.' The feds allege that Avenatti then funneled the information to the Washington Post; a few days later, Fry and 'Reporter-1' - Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker - exchanged a series of WhatsApp messages about the same banking information. In the days that followed, Avenatti tried to create more media interest in the story by tweeting about the information. 'Why is no media outlet doing a story on the refusal of the Treasury Department to release to the public the 3 Suspicious Activity Reports that were filed concerning Essential Consultants, LLC's bank account?' Avenatti tweeted on May 9, 2018. After the release of the Fry charges on Thursday, Avenatti denied wrongdoing. 'Neither I nor R. Farrow (Reporter-1) did anything wrong or illegal with the financial info relating to Cohen’s crimes,' Avenatti said on Twitter in a post on Thursday evening, as he claimed that Fry had not violated the Bank Secrecy Act by disclosing the SAR information. Prosecutors said if Fry was convicted, he could face a maximum of five years in prison, and a fine of $250,000. This is the second time charges have been brought in the past year over leaks of bank transaction information about people with links to President Trump. In October of 2018, charges were filed against an official in the Treasury Department for illegally leaking financial information about bank transactions by certain people involved in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Those disclosures by Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior official in the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, pertained to 'suspicious transactions' related to Paul Manafort, Richard Gates, Russian diplomatic accounts, and other matters. 'At the time of EDWARDS’s arrest, she was in possession of a flash drive appearing to be the flash drive on which she saved the unlawfully disclosed SARs, and a cellphone containing numerous communications over an encrypted application in which she transmitted SARs and other sensitive government information to Reporter-1,' the Justice Department said at the time. That 'Reporter-1' was also Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker.
  • After arguing for months that allegations of election fraud had nothing to do with his disputed victory in a race for Congress in North Carolina, Republican Mark Harris on Thursday called for a new election, a day after his son had testified that he had warned his father not to employ a local political operative because of concerns about possible illegal voting activities. An hour later, the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously to do exactly that, ordering a new election for the Ninth Congressional District. The developments came on  the fourth day of a hearing before the board -  Harris testified in the morning, but instead of resuming that testimony in the afternoon, he told board members a new election was needed in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District. 'I believe a new election should be called,' Harris said. 'It has become clear to me that the public's confidence in the Ninth District seat general election has been undermined.' Harris refused to answer questions from reporters as he left the hearing room. The call for a new election came after board members said the Harris campaign had withheld documents from investigators, and in the wake of damning testimony from Harris' own son - a federal prosecutor - who said Wednesday that he had specifically warned his father not to employ Leslie McCrae Dowless to run an absentee ballot operation for his election. 'We support our candidates decision in this matter,' said Dallas Woodhouse, the head of the North Carolina Republican Party.  It was an about face for Woodhouse, who had sternly defended Harris for months, as Republicans said Harris should have been declared the winner, and sent to Congress. 'We are dealing with a limited number of ballots that are nowhere close to bringing the election result into question,' Woodhouse said just two days ago. 'Perhaps we should let @MarkHarrisNC9‘s team present their side of the case first,' Woodhouse tweeted just an hour before Harris called for a new election. It wasn't immediately clear if Harris would try to run in any new election. Harris won by 905 votes over Democrat Dan McCready, but in the days after the election, questions were raised about odd absentee ballot results in Bladen County, North Carolina, which favored Harris in a variety of abnormal ways. Evidence surfaced of a questionable absentee ballot operation run by Leslie McCrae Dowless, who was employed by a political firm allied with Harris. Dowless refused to testify at the state elections board hearing.
  • Recovering from recent shoulder surgery, and with plans to testify before at least three Congressional committees, Michael Cohen was granted an extra sixty days by a federal judge to report to prison to serve his three year sentence for campaign finance violations and lying to Congress in a case that has drawn the personal ire of President Donald Trump. 'Given Mr. Cohen's recent surgery and his health and recovery needs, at this time Defendant requests an extension of his reporting date for sixty (60) days,' lawyers for Cohen wrote in a request to Judge William H. Pauley, III, who approved it on Wednesday morning. 'Mr. Cohen also anticipates being called to testify before three (3) Congressional committees at the end of the month,' the letter continued - no dates have yet been set for that testimony, which is expected to occur before the House and Senate intelligence committees, along with the House Oversight Committee. On Wednesday night, Democrats set the first public hearing for Cohen next Wednesday, before the House Oversight Committee. Cohen plead guilty last year to charges in two different criminal matters - first, lying to Congress about the extent of contacts during 2016 between the Trump Organization and developers in Russia looking to build a Trump Tower Moscow, and second, over campaign finance violations surrounding hush money payments made to two women before the elections, to keep them quiet about their affairs with Mr. Trump. Cohen told a federal judge that he paid money to two women at the direction of a specific candidate for federal office, and coordinated “with one or more members of the campaign.” That person was referred to only as 'Individual-1,' which from the court documents was obviously President Trump. With testimony still ahead in Congress by Cohen - GOP lawmakers who have steadfastly defended the President in the Russia investigation - have already started to attack Cohen. “When Cohen appears before our Committee, we can only assume that he will continue his pattern of deceit and perjury,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), in a letter to the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. A day after his Oversight testimony, Cohen will appear before the House Intelligence Committee for a closed door session. President Trump has alternately denied wrongdoing in his work with Cohen, and attacked his former lawyer as a ‘rat.’ “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law,” the President tweeted last year.
  • In a historic first from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justices ruled unanimously on Wednesday that the Eighth Amendment ban on excessive fines does apply to state and local governments, ruling in favor of an Indiana man who had his expensive car seized by police after he was arrested for a small amount illegal drugs. Writing for the High Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said 'the protection against excessive fines guards against abuses of government’s punitive or criminal law-enforcement authority' found in the Eighth Amendment. Originally, the Bill of Rights was intended only to be applied to the federal government - but over time, the courts have ruled that it also applies to the states, and this was the first time the U.S. Supreme Court took that step when it comes to the issue of police and civil seizures. “For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history,' Ginsburg wrote. 'Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties.' At issue was a Land Rover SUV that Tyson Timbs had purchased before his arrest, with money from an insurance policy after the death of his father. Under Indiana guidelines, the maximum monetary fine which could be levied against Timbs for his crime of dealing in a controlled substance was $10,000 - but the car was worth more than four times that amount. Reaction was swift in favor of the ruling, as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund labeled it, “A huge victory for criminal justice reform.”