Biden says debt deal 'very close' with default deadline now set at June 5
WASHINGTON (AP) — An upbeat President Joe Biden says a deal to resolve the government’s debt ceiling crisis seems “very close." He spoke late Friday, shortly after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen pushed the deadline for a potentially catastrophic default back to June 5. That announcement seemed likely to drag negotiations between the White House and Republicans into another frustrating week. House Republicans led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy spent the day negotiating by phone and computers with the White House. One Republican negotiator, Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, called Biden’s comments “a hopeful sign” but also cautioned that there’s still “sticky points” impeding a final agreement.
Why Texas' GOP-controlled House wants to impeach Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — After years of legal and ethical scandals swirling around Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, the state’s GOP-controlled House of Representatives has moved toward an impeachment vote that could quickly throw him from office. The extraordinary and rarely used maneuver comes in the final days of the legislative session and sets up a bruising political fight. On one side is Paxton, who has allied himself closely with former President Donald Trump and the state’s hard-right conservatives. On the other is House Republican leadership, who appear to have suddenly had enough of the allegations of wrongdoing that have long dogged Texas’ top lawyer.
US: Chinese agents paid bribes in plot to disrupt anti-communist Falun Gong movement
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. authorities have arrested two suspected Chinese government agents in connection with an alleged plot by Beijing to disrupt and ultimately topple the exiled anti-communist Falun Gong spiritual movement. John Chen and Lin Feng were charged in an indictment unsealed Friday. Prosecutors in New York say they paid bribes to revoke Falun Gong's tax-exempt status. But they unknowingly bribed an undercover officer posing as an IRS agent. Prosecutors say recorded phone calls show Chen and Feng discussing instructions from Chinese officials. Information on a court appearance or lawyers who could speak on their behalf wasn't immediately available. Messages seeking comment were left with China’s embassy in Washington and Falun Gong.
2 more Oath Keepers sentenced to prison terms for Jan. 6 Capitol attack
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Army veterans who stormed the U.S. Capitol in a military-style formation with fellow Oath Keepers members have been sentenced to prison terms for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on Friday sentenced Jessica Watkins, of Woodstock, Ohio, to eight years and six months behind bars and sentenced Kenneth Harrelson, of Titusville, Florida, to four years in prison. On Thursday, Mehta sentenced Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes to 18 years in prison for his seditious conspiracy conviction. A jury acquitted Watkins and Harrelson of seditious conspiracy but convicted them of obstructing Congress' certification of President Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory.
Judge: School district can bar student from wearing Mexican and American flag sash at graduation
DENVER (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a Colorado school district can bar a high school student from wearing a Mexican and American flag sash at her graduation after the student sued. The judge ruled Friday that wearing a sash during a graduation ceremony falls under school-sponsored speech, not the student’s private speech, and can be restricted It's the latest legal dispute over rights to graduation attire at commencement ceremonies this year. Many focus on Indigenous regalia, which is explicitly protected in Colorado. Attorneys for the Colorado student argue that the school district decision violates her free speech rights. A final ruling is still to come.
Danny Masterson rape retrial deliberations drag on more than 6 days, will resume next week
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jurors have been deliberating for nearly seven days without reaching a verdict in the rape retrial of “That ’70s Show” star Danny Masterson. The jurors went home Friday without coming to a consensus on any of the three rape counts against the 47-year-old actor. They will take the Memorial Day weekend off and resume Wednesday. Masterson has pleaded not guilty to the rapes of three women at his Los Angeles home between 2001 and 2003. A mistrial was declared when the jury couldn't reach any verdicts in his first trial in December. A second trial began in April.
Indiana funeral director pleads guilty to 40 theft counts after decomposing bodies found
JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — The director of a southern Indiana funeral home where 31 decomposing bodies and 17 cremains were found has pleaded guilty to more than 40 counts of felony theft. A Clark County judge said Friday that Randy Lankford faces a proposed sentence of 12 years: four in prison and eight of home incarceration. Last July, investigators discovered the decomposing bodies at Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center in Jeffersonville. The funeral director was charged with theft for failing to complete the services he was paid for. He must also pay restitution to 53 families totaling $46,000. A formal sentencing hearing is planned for June 23.
Texas parents fret over Winnie the Pooh being used to teach kids about school shootings
DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas school district has apologized for not giving parents any warning or guidance before it sent elementary school students home with a Winnie the Pooh-themed book about what to do in the event of a school shooting. Parent Cindy Campos says she was shocked to realize that the book her 5-year-old son brought home last week and was excited to read with her was actually a Pooh-themed tutorial on active shooting situations. She says other parents also expressed concern. The Dallas Independent School District issued a statement Friday explaining that although it works “hard every day to prevent school shootings,” it apologizes for not providing parents with a guide or context.
Elon Musk's brain implant company Neuralink says it has US approval to begin trials in people
Elon Musk’s brain implant company Neuralink says it's gotten permission from U.S. regulators to begin testing its device in people. The company made the announcement on Twitter Thursday evening. Officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wouldn't confirm or deny whether the agency granted the approval, but a press officer acknowledged the announcement. Neuralink is one of many groups working on linking the nervous system to computers. The Neuralink device is about the size of a large coin and is designed to be implanted in the skull. Musk previously said one of the first applications in people would to attempt to restore vision.
Bear helps itself to 60 cupcakes from Connecticut bakery, scares employees
AVON, Conn. (AP) — A hungry bear barged into the garage of a Connecticut bakery, scared several employees and helped itself to 60 cupcakes before ambling away. Workers at Taste by Spellbound in Avon were loading cakes into a van for delivery to another location on Wednesday when the bear showed up. Bakery owner Miriam Stephens wrote in an Instagram post that she heard employee Maureen Williams “screaming bloody murder” and yelling that there was a bear in the garage. The bear grabbed a container of cupcakes and ate 60 of them. It was gone by the time police arrived.