AP Top News at 11:58 p.m. EST
DALLAS (AP) — Travelers who counted on Southwest Airlines to get them home suffered another wave of canceled flights Wednesday, and pressure grew on the federal government to help customers get reimbursed for unexpected expenses they incurred because of the airline’s meltdown. Exhausted Southwest travelers tried finding seats on other airlines or renting cars to get to their destination, but many remained stranded. The airline’s CEO said it could be next week before the flight schedule returns to normal. Adontis Barber, a 34-year-old jazz pianist from Kansas City, Missouri, had camped out in the city’s airport since his Southwest flight was canceled Saturday, hoping to reach a New Year’s gig in Washington, D.C.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A Delaware trucker described as an architect of the conspiracy to kidnap Michigan’s governor was sentenced Wednesday to more than 19 years in prison — the longest term yet given to anyone convicted in the plot. Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Barry Croft Jr., 47, who was the fourth and final federal defendant to learn his fate. Judge Robert J. Jonker described him as “the idea guy” behind the plot and called him “a very convincing communicator” for people who were open to his views. “However twisted or irrational it may seem to many of us, it did resonate to the targeted audience,” the judge said.
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos of New York was under investigation by Long Island prosecutors on Wednesday, after revelations surfaced that the now-embattled Republican lied about his heritage, education and professional pedigree as he campaigned for office. Despite intensifying doubt about his fitness to hold federal office, Santos has shown no signs of stepping aside — even as he publicly admitted to a long list of lies. Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly, a Republican, said the fabrications and inconsistencies were “nothing short of stunning.” “The residents of Nassau County and other parts of the third district must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress,” she said.
The U.S. announced new COVID-19 testing requirements Wednesday for all travelers from China, joining other nations imposing restrictions because of a surge of infections. The increase in cases across China follows the rollback of the nation’s strict anti-virus controls. China’s “zero COVID” policies had kept the country’s infection rate low but fueled public frustration and crushed economic growth. The new U.S. requirements, which start Jan. 5, apply to travelers regardless of their nationality and vaccination status. In a statement explaining the testing, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited the surge in infections and what it said was a lack of adequate and transparent information from China, including genomic sequencing on the viral strains circulating in the country.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly banned the use of TikTok on the state-issued devices of government workers under her control on Wednesday, becoming one of the first Democratic governors to restrict the popular social media app. Kelly’s action came five days after Congress approved the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that banned TikTok from most U.S. government-issued devices for employees. Republican governors in at least 15 states have already imposed such restrictions. In Louisiana on Monday, the state’s commissioner of administration — a Republican appointed by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards — banned the use of TikTok on state networks under Edwards’ control, with his approval.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI ’s health has worsened over the past hours due to advanced age and doctors are constantly monitoring his condition, the Vatican said Wednesday, as Pope Francis appealed to the faithful to pray for his “very ill” predecessor “until the end.” Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said Francis went to visit the frail, 95-year-old Benedict in the monastery on Vatican grounds where he has lived since retiring in February 2013. “Regarding the health condition of the emeritus pope, for whom Pope Francis asked for prayers at the end of his general audience this morning, I can confirm that in the last hours, a worsening due to advanced age has happened,″ Bruni said in a written statement.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The man who allegedly broke into U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home and beat her 82-year-old husband in October pleaded not guilty Wednesday to six charges, including attempted murder, prosecutors said. The suspect, David DePape, had planned to kidnap the speaker — who was in Washington at the time of the attack — when he broke into the couple’s San Francisco home on Oct. 28, authorities said. Instead, the 42-year-old defendant severely beat her husband Paul Pelosi with a hammer in an attack that was witnessed by two police officers and shocked the political world. Paul Pelosi was knocked unconscious and woke up in a pool of his own blood.
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Albert Rivera knows well how dangerous Mexico can be: He sometimes wears a bulletproof vest around the compound of bright yellow buildings that he built into one of the nation’s largest migrant shelters. His phone stores more evidence in the form of stomach-churning videos that gangs sent migrants to warn of consequences for disobeying demands. The images include severed limbs being thrown in a pile, a decapitated head getting tossed in a barrel of steaming liquid and a woman squirming while her head is sawed off. But across town from the Agape Mision Mundial shelter, many migrants are grateful for a chance to settle here.
SAO PAULO (AP) — One of Pelé’s daughters said Wednesday she and her family are enduring moments of sadness and despair as the 82-year-old Brazilian soccer great’s hospitalization nears one month. The three-time World Cup winner’s cancer has advanced and doctors at Albert Einstein hospital recently said he’s under “elevated care” related to “kidney and cardiac dysfunctions.” Pelé was admitted to the Sao Paulo facility on Nov. 29. The hospital hasn’t published any updates in the past week. “These moments are hard to explain. Sometimes it is a lot of sadness and despair, in other moments we laugh and speak about fun memories,” Kely Nascimento said on Instagram.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Owning Tesla stock this year has been anything but a smooth ride for investors. Shares in the electric vehicle maker are down nearly 70% since the start of the year, on pace to finish in the bottom five biggest decliners among S&P 500 stocks. By comparison, the benchmark index is down about 20%. While Tesla has continued to grow its profits, signs of softening demand and heightened competition have investors increasingly worried. And then there’s CEO Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. Some of Musk’s actions since taking over the social media company, including doing away with a content moderation structure created to address hate speech and other problems on the platform, have unnerved Twitter’s advertisers and turned off some users.