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    AP Top News at 11:41 p.m. EST

    December 24, 2022 GMT

    Massive winter storm brings rolling blackouts, power outages

    MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Tens of millions of Americans endured bone-chilling temperatures, blizzard conditions, power outages and canceled holiday gatherings Friday from a winter storm that forecasters said was nearly unprecedented in its scope, exposing about 60% of the U.S. population to some sort of winter weather advisory or warning. More than 200 million people were under an advisory or warning on Friday, the National Weather Service said. The weather service’s map “depicts one of the greatest extents of winter weather warnings and advisories ever,” forecasters said. Power outages have left about 1.4 million homes and businesses in the dark, according to the website PowerOutage, which tracks utility reports.

    Jan. 6 report blames Trump, aims to prevent return to power

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A massive final report released by the House Jan. 6 committee late Thursday places the blame for the 2021 Capitol insurrection on one person: former President Donald Trump. The dense, 814-page document details the findings of the panel’s 18-month investigation, drawing on more than 1,000 witness interviews and more than a million pages of source material. The committee found a “multi-part conspiracy” orchestrated by Trump and his closest allies, all with the aim of overturning his 2020 election defeat. By laying out the extraordinary details — his pressure on states, federal officials and Vice President Mike Pence — the committee of seven Democrats and two Republicans says it is trying to prevent anything similar from ever happening again.


    Packed ICUs, crowded crematoriums: COVID roils Chinese towns

    BAZHOU, China (AP) — Yao Ruyan paced frantically outside the fever clinic of a county hospital in China’s industrial Hebei province, 70 kilometers (43 miles) southwest of Beijing. Her mother-in-law had COVID and needed urgent medical care, but all hospitals nearby were full. “They say there’s no beds here,” she barked into her phone. As China grapples with its first-ever national COVID wave, emergency wards in small cities and towns southwest of Beijing are overwhelmed. Intensive care units are turning away ambulances, relatives of sick people are searching for open beds, and patients are slumped on benches in hospital corridors and lying on floors for a lack of beds.


    LA jury convicts Tory Lanez of shooting Megan Thee Stallion

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a courtroom that turned chaotic after a trial that seethed with tension, a Los Angeles jury on Friday found rapper Tory Lanez guilty of three felonies in the 2020 shooting of hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion. The attack left her wounded with bullet fragments in her feet and Lanez’ conviction could send him to prison for more than 20 years. Lanez, who was put in handcuffs and led to jail while wearing a powder pink coat with matching pants, showed no visible reaction as the verdict was read. But moments later, after the jury was escorted out, his father, Sonstar Peterson, leapt up and shouted “This wicked system stands judged before God almighty!” as deputies closed in on him.


    Congress approves new election rules in Jan. 6 response

    Congress on Friday gave final passage to legislation changing the arcane law that governs the certification of a presidential contest, the strongest effort yet to avoid a repeat of Donald Trump’s violence-inflaming push to reverse his loss in the 2020 election. The House passed an overhaul of the Electoral Count Act as part of its massive, end-of-the-year spending bill, after the Senate approved identical wording Thursday. The legislation now goes to President Joe Biden for his signature. Biden hailed the provisions’ inclusion in the spending bill in a statement Friday, calling it “critical bipartisan action that will help ensure that the will of the people is preserved.” It’s the most significant legislative response Congress has made yet to Trump’s aggressive efforts to upend the 2020 election results, and a step that been urged by the House select committee that conducted the most thorough investigation into the violent siege of the Capitol.


    Shooting sends Mall of America into lockdown, police say

    BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — A shooting at the Mall of America sent frightened customers at the nation’s largest shopping center racing into a lockdown just before the holiday weekend, mall officials and police in suburban Minneapolis said Friday. The Bloomington Police Department responded to the shooting shortly before 8 p.m., the mall said in a statement. The lockdown lasted for about an hour before the mall tweeted that shoppers were being sent outside. Emergency vehicles had converged in the snowy parking lot and police could be seen putting up yellow crime scene tape near the Nordstrom store. Police did not immediately provide details on whether anyone was injured or arrested.

    Cubans search for holiday food amid deepening crisis

    HAVANA (AP) — As Belkis Fajardo, 69, walks through the dense streets of downtown Havana with a small bag of lettuce and onions in hand, she wonders how she’ll feed her family over the holidays. Scarcity and economic turmoil are nothing new to Cuba, but Fajardo is among many Cubans to note that this year is different thanks to soaring inflation and deepening shortages. “We’ll see what we can scrap together to cook for the end of the year,” Fajardo said. “Everything is really expensive … so you buy things little-by-little as you can. And if you can’t, you don’t eat.” Basic goods such as chicken, beef, eggs, milk, flour and toilet paper are difficult and often impossible to find in state stores.


    Judge kept FTX execs’ plea deals secret to get founder to US

    NEW YORK (AP) — A judge kept secret that two of Sam Bankman-Fried’s closest associates had turned against him so the cryptocurrency entrepreneur wouldn’t get spooked and fight extradition from the Bahamas, according to court transcripts made public Friday. U.S. prosecutors in New York waited until Bankman-Fried, the founder of the collapsed crypto exchange FTX, was in FBI custody before revealing that his business partners, Carolyn Ellison and Gary Wang, had secretly pleaded guilty to fraud charges and were cooperating, which can earn them leniency at sentencing. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams announced the guilty pleas when Bankman-Fried was in the air late Wednesday.

    Bidens visit patients at Children’s National Hospital

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and his wife, first lady Jill Biden, visited Children’s National Hospital on the Friday before Christmas to visit with patients and read a story. Sitting in front of a towering Christmas tree, the president helped hold the book while the first lady read “The Snowy Day,” an award-winning story about a boy named Peter and his adventures in the snow. This year is the 60th anniversary of the book, written by Ezra Jack Keats. Jill Biden noted that Washington “had a little, tiny bit of snow” Friday as temperatures plunged. “Did anybody see it?” she asked.

    Facebook parent Meta will pay $725M to settle user data case

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook’s corporate parent has agreed to pay $725 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the world’s largest social media platform allowed millions of its users’ personal information to be fed to Cambridge Analytica, a firm that supported Donald Trump’s victorious presidential campaign in 2016. Terms of the settlement reached by Meta Platforms, the holding company for Facebook and Instagram, were disclosed in court documents filed late Thursday. It will still need to be approved by a judge in a San Francisco federal court hearing set for March. The case sprang from 2018 revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a firm with ties to Trump political strategist Steve Bannon, had paid a Facebook app developer for access to the personal information of about 87 million users of the platform.