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Three Big Things

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  • Ousted ambassador to testify in Trump impeachment probe

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The House will hear from a singular witness Friday in the Trump impeachment hearings: Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was targeted by the president’s allies in a “smear” campaign now central to the inquiry.

    The career diplomat, who served both Republican and Democratic presidents, is expected to relay her striking story of being suddenly recalled by Donald Trump and told to “watch my back” in a swiftly developing series of events that sounded alarms about the White House’s shadow foreign policy.

    She and other officials now testifying publicly in the historic House hearings scrambled to understand Trump’s actions, providing revelatory accounts that Democrats are now relying on to make the case that the president’s behavior is impeachable.

    In particular, Yovanovitch and others have described Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, as leading what one called an “irregular channel” outside the diplomatic mainstream of U.S.-Ukraine relations. Asked during her closed-door deposition if anyone at the State Department who was alerted to Giuliani’s role tried to stop him, she testified, “I don’t think they felt they could.”

    With the start of a second day of historic hearings to consider removal of America’s 45th president, Democrats and Republicans are hardening their messages to voters as they try to saw public opinion.

    Americans are deeply entrenched in two camps over impeachment, resulting in a mounting political battle that will further test the nation in one of the most polarizing eras of modern times.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday brushed aside the Latin phrase “quid pro quo” that Democrats have been using to describe Trump’s actions with a more colloquial one: Bribery.

    “Quid pro quo: Bribery,” Pelosi said about Trump’s July 25 phone call in which he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a favor.

    Trump says the call was perfect. Pelosi said, “It’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery.”

    Trump continued to assail the proceedings as “a hoax” on Thursday, and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy dismissed the witness testimony as hearsay, at best second-hand information.

    “Beltway charade,” the president’s son, Eric Trump, told reporters. He said good, hard-working Americans “don’t give a damn about that stuff.”

    At its core, the impeachment inquiry concerns Trump’s July phone call with Zelenskiy that first came to attention when an anonymous government whistleblower filed a complaint.


  • Charges dropped against man accused of forcing woman to perform sex acts on 20 men, bathe in bleach

    CANTONMENT, Fla. (WKRG) — Charges against a Cantonment man accused of forcing a woman to perform sexual acts on several men have been dropped.

    50-year-old John Chess Foster was arrested last month after reports that he had facilitated sexual encounters between a woman and more than 20 different men. The reports said, while on meth, Foster forced the woman to sit naked, and then told her what sexual acts to perform on the men. She would later be forced to take a bath in bleach, according to the report.

    According to court documents, efforts to find and communicate with the victim in the case were unsuccessful. The documents state the victim had agreed to meet with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office but did not appear as scheduled nor answer phone calls to either agency.

    Foster was charged with sex trafficking, sexual battery, false imprisonment and three counts of battery. He was released from the Escambia County Jail on November 5th.


  • LA suburb mourns student victims after school shooting

    SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — A boy described as bright, quiet and “normal” pulled a gun from his backpack on his 16th birthday and opened fire at his high school before saving the last bullet for himself, authorities said.

    The shooting that killed two teenagers and wounded three others Thursday at Saugus High School in a Los Angeles suburb took just 16 seconds and left the attacker hospitalized in critical condition with a head wound, authorities said.

    Investigators searched the boy’s home as they sought a motive for the attack, which seemed to target students at random, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Captain Kent Wegener said.

    Someone posted a message under a pseudonym on an Instagram account that was reported as possibly belonging to the boy, authorities said. The message said: “Saugus, have fun at school tomorrow.”

    “However, the account has yet to be authenticated,” a Sheriff’s Department statement said.

    It wasn’t clear when the message was posted or by whom, Wegener said. It was deleted after the shootings, either by a hacker or someone who had access to the account, he added.

    Authorities said the teenager apparently acted alone. There was no indication that he was affiliated with a group or ideology, said Paul Delacourt, the agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.

    Gunfire erupted at about 7:30 a.m. as students were “milling around” and greeting each other in an outdoor quad area, Wegener said. Surveillance video showed the shooter standing still while “everyone is active around him.”

    “He just fires from where he is. He doesn’t chase anybody. He doesn’t move,” Wegener said.

    The suspect appeared to fire at whoever was in front of him. He had no known connection to those he shot, Wegener said.

    Video showed the last thing the assailant did was shoot himself with the final bullet in the .45-caliber handgun, Wegener said. The weapon was empty when it was recovered.

    A 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy died.

    Two girls, ages 14 and 15, were each in good condition after being treated for gunshot wounds at a hospital.

    A 14-year-old boy was treated and released from another hospital, authorities said.

    Shauna Orandi, 16, was in her Spanish class when she heard four gunshots and a student burst into the room saying he’d seen the shooter.

    “My worst nightmare actually came true,” she said. “This is it. I’m gonna die.”

    She was later escorted from the school and reunited with her father in a nearby park.

    At a Thursday evening vigil, Lea Reas said her nephew, a 14-year-old freshman, saw his friend shot to death before he ran from the gunfire and was pulled into a room by a teacher.

    “At first he thought it was a graze” but later was told his friend had died, she said.

    “He lost it,” she said.

    Reas also said her 15-year-old cousin was walking onto the campus when she heard the gunshots that she said sounded “like a balloon” popping and saw the gunman.

    She and her friends ran to a house across the street for safety, Reas said.

    “It’s something no kid should deal with,” she said.


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