Suicide drones strike fear in Ukraine's capital, killing 4
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Waves of explosives-laden suicide drones struck Ukraine’s capital Monday, setting buildings ablaze, tearing a hole in one of them and sending people scurrying for cover or trying to shoot them down in what the president said was Russia’s attempt to terrorize civilians.
The concentrated use of the kamikaze drones was the second barrage in as many weeks — after months in which air attacks had become a rarity in central Kyiv. The assault sowed fear and frayed nerves as blasts rocked the city. Energy facilities were struck and one drone largely collapsed a residential building, killing four people, authorities said.
Intense bursts of gunfire rang out as the Iranian-made Shahed drones buzzed overhead, apparently as soldiers tried to destroy them. Others headed for shelter, nervously scanning the skies. But Ukraine has become grimly accustomed to attacks nearly eight months into the Russian invasion, and city life resumed as rescuers picked through debris.
Previous Russian airstrikes on Kyiv were mostly with missiles. Analysts believe the slower-moving Shahed drones can be programmed to accurately hit certain targets using GPS unless the system fails.
Also Monday, a Russian Su-34 warplane crashed in a residential area in the Russian port of Yeysk, on the Sea of Azov, after an engine failure — killing at least four people on the ground, injuring 25 others and starting a fire that engulfed several floors of a nine-story apartment building, authorities said.
Student loan forgiveness application website goes live
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Monday officially kicked off the application process for his student debt cancellation program and announced that 8 million borrowers had already applied for loan relief during the federal government's soft launch period over the weekend.
He encouraged the tens of millions eligible for potential relief to visit studentaid.gov and touted the application form that the president said would take less than five minutes to complete. An early, “beta launch” version of the online form released late Friday handled the early stream of applications “without a glitch or any difficulty,” Biden said.
“It means more than 8 million Americans are — starting this week — on their way to receiving life-changing relief,” Biden, accompanied by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, said Monday. The president called his program a “game-changer” for millions of Americans saddled with student loan debt.
The number of borrowers who applied during the testing period already amounts to more than one-fourth of the total number of applicants the administration had projected would submit forms, underscoring the popularity of the program and the eagerness of borrowers to receive the debt relief. Some 8 million borrowers who have income information already on file with the Education Department would see their debt canceled without applying.
Biden’s plan calls for $10,000 in federal student debt cancellation for those with incomes below $125,000 a year, or households that make less than $250,000 a year. Those who received federal Pell Grants to attend college are eligible for an additional $10,000. The plan makes 20 million eligible to get their federal student debt erased entirely.
North Carolina No. 1 in preseason AP Top 25 men's basketball
North Carolina surprised just about everyone last year when a talented team led by first-year coach Hubert Davis parlayed a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament into a run to the national title game.
The Tar Heels won't be sneaking up on anyone this year.
With four starters back from the team that lost to Kansas in New Orleans, the Tar Heels are the runaway pick as the preseason No. 1 in the AP Top 25 released Monday. They earned 47 of 62 first-place votes from a national media panel to easily outdistance Gonzaga, the top preseason team the past two years.
“As they opened up their lockers for the first practice of last year, there was a picture of the New Orleans Superdome in there. I wanted them to see where we were headed in April,” Davis recalled last week. “The hard work and preparation, the practice that had to be put into place to put ourselves in position to do that. t’s the same approach this year compared to last year. The only difference this year is the outside noise.
“Last year,” Davis said, “the outside noise didn’t think we had a chance. The outside noise this year thinks we do.”
Ryan, Vance at odds on abortion, Jan 6 in Ohio Senate debate
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and Republican JD Vance deflected accusations of being political lapdogs to their parties Monday, as they met in a heated second debate for Ohio's open U.S. Senate seat.
Vance used the face-off hosted by Youngstown’s WFMJ-TV to push back against a bit of Ryan name-calling from their first debate last week.
Vance, a venture capitalist and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” said former President Donald Trump was only making a joking reference to a newspaper article when he said Vance had been “kissing my a--” for an endorsement. Vance said everyone at the political rally where Trump made the remark understood it that way.
“The guy who's subservient to the national party is Tim Ryan,” Vance said, citing Ryan's voting loyalty toward Democratic President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
Ryan retorted, “JD, you keep talking about Nancy Pelosi. If you want to run against Nancy Pelosi, move back to San Francisco and run against Nancy Pelosi. You're running against me."
House panel: Trump's bills to Secret Service 'exorbitant'
NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s private company arranged for the Secret Service to pay for rooms at his properties in excess of government-approved rates at least 40 times during his presidency, including two charges for more than $1,100 per room, per night, according to documents released Monday by a congressional committee.
The Secret Service was charged room rates of more than $800 per night at least 11 times when agents stayed at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, the Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., and other properties, the Democratic-led House Oversight Committee said. It noted that Trump made over 500 trips to his properties while president.
The “exorbitant” rates point to a possible “taxpayer-funded windfall for former President Trump’s struggling businesses,” Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney of New York wrote in a letter Monday to the Secret Service requesting more information.
The Secret Service said it had received the letter and was reviewing it.
The Trump Organization denied that the Secret Service charges were a problem and said it provided rooms and other services at cost, at big discounts or for free.
US businesses propose hiding trade data used to trace abuse
A group of major U.S. businesses wants the government to hide key import data -- a move trade experts say would make it more difficult for Americans to link the products they buy to labor abuse overseas.
The Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee is made up of executives from 20 companies, including Walmart, General Motors and Intel. The committee is authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to advise on ways to streamline trade regulations.
Last week -- ahead of closed-door meetings starting Monday in Washington with senior officials from CBP and other federal agencies -- the executives quietly unveiled proposals they said would modernize import and export rules to keep pace with trade volumes that have nearly quintupled in the past three decades. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the proposal from a committee member.
Among the proposed changes: making data collected from vessel manifests confidential.
The information is vitally important for researchers and reporters seeking to hold corporations accountable for the mistreatment of workers in their foreign supply chains.
UK leader in peril after Treasury chief axes 'Trussonomics'
LONDON (AP) — The U.K.’s new Treasury chief ripped up the government’s economic plan on Monday, dramatically reversing most of the tax cuts and spending plans that new Prime Minister Liz Truss announced less than a month ago. The move raises more questions about how long the beleaguered British leader can stay in office, though Truss insisted she has no plans to quit.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, said he was scrapping “almost all” of Truss' tax cuts, along with her flagship energy policy and her promise — repeated just last week — that there will be no public spending cuts.
While the reversal of policy calmed financial markets and helped restore the government’s economic credibility, it further undermined the prime minister’s rapidly crumbling authority and fueled calls for her to step down before her despairing Conservative Party forces her out.
Truss declined to attend the House of Commons to answer a question on the economy from the leader of the opposition, sending House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt in her place. Mordaunt denied a lawmaker's suggestion that Truss was “cowering under her desk” to avoid scrutiny.
"The prime minister is not under a desk," Mordaunt said, words hardly likely to inspire confidence in the leader who only came to power last month.
Haiti calls for help at the UN as world mulls assistance
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States and Mexico said Monday they are preparing a U.N. resolution that would authorize an international mission to help improve security in Haiti, whose government issued a “distress call” for the people of the crisis-wracked nation.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield made the announcement at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council as thousands across Haiti organized protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. The demonstrations came on the day the country commemorated the death of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a slave who became the leader of the world’s first Black republic.
The U.S. ambassador said the proposed “non-U.N.” mission would be limited in time and scope and be led by “a partner country” that was not named “with the deep, necessary experience required for such an effort to be effective.” It would have a mandate to use military force if necessary.
She said the resolution being worked on is a “direct response” to a request on Oct. 7 by prime minister Henry and the Haitian Council of Ministers for international assistance to help restore security and alleviate the humanitarian crisis. It reflects one option in a letter from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the council on Oct. 9 that called for deployment of a rapid action force by one or several U.N. member states to help Haiti’s National Police.
Both Russia and China raised questions about sending a foreign armed force to Haiti.
How Michael Flynn goes local to spread Christian nationalism
VENICE, Fla. (AP) — It was less than three weeks before the Sarasota County, Florida, school board election when the former White House national security adviser weighed in on the local political race.
“These ‘woke’ members need to be defeated in detail this upcoming election,” Michael Flynn posted on Telegram on Aug. 6. “Our children’s lives and futures are at risk when our school boards here in Florida and around the nation shove (critical race theory) and transgender nonsense down their throats.”
A few days later, the retired three-star Army general who spent decades enmeshed in international conflict weighed in again on the local election: “‘WOKE’ SOBs operating in many counties and on many school boards across the country” have to be voted out or censured "and some just need to be arrested.”
Later that month, Flynn’s chosen candidates — who were also backed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — defeated three school board candidates backed by Democrats.
Flynn, who just eight years ago under President Barack Obama led the U.S. military's intelligence agency, now is at the center of a far-right Christian nationalist movement that has a growing influence in the Republican Party. In speeches across the U.S., he urges his supporters to get involved in local politics as a way to change the country from the bottom up.
Weinstein defense can use governor’s wife’s email at trial
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jurors in the trial of Harvey Weinstein will be allowed to hear that Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, emailed the movie magnate for advice about dealing with the media amid a scandal involving Gavin Newsom two years after Weinstein allegedly raped and sexually assaulted her, a judge ruled Monday.
The judge granted narrow permission to the defense to introduce evidence of the email sent to Weinstein in 2007, when Gavin Newsom was mayor of San Francisco and was dating Siebel Newsom.
But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench forbid the defense from discussing the underlying issue behind the email — the revelation of an affair Newsom had had in 2005 with an aide. Lench called it “too tangential in relation to this trial.”
Weinstein attorney Mark Werksman argued adamantly for the inclusion of the details.
“Of all things you’d think a woman that is raped by Harvey Weinstein wouldn’t do, it’s ask him how to deal with a sex scandal,” Werksman said.
The Associated Press