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Trump's Biggest Whoppers


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1. Justice Stephen Breyer to retire, giving Biden a Supreme Court pick

Justice Stephen Breyer will retire at the end of the Supreme Court's current term, NBC News reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with his plans. Breyer, 83, is the oldest justice, and one of just three liberals on the nine-member high court. His decision to step down now, while Democrats control the Senate, will give President Biden the opportunity to name his replacement. Liberal activists have been urging Breyer to retire before the midterm elections so Republicans won't be able to block a Biden nominee if they regain control of the Senate. Despite similar liberal urging, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not retire during former President Barack Obama's term, clearing the way for former President Donald Trump to seat Justice Amy Coney Barrett upon Ginsburg's death in 2020 and expand the conservative majority to 6-3. [NBC News]

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2. U.S., NATO send responses rejecting Russia's demands on Ukraine crisis

The Biden administration and NATO on Wednesday sent written confirmation to Russia that they will not make concessions on Moscow's main demands toward resolving the Ukraine crisis. Russia wants NATO to reduce military deployments in Eastern Europe and deny Ukraine membership in the Western defense alliance. The U.S. and NATO said both demands are out of the question and always have been. "There is no change, there will be no change," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. He also repeated the U.S. position that any Russian invasion of Ukraine would trigger a massive response and economic cost. Russia made no immediate response, but Russian officials have vowed to take "retaliatory measures" if its demands aren't met. [The Associated Press, CNN]

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3. Fed officials signal rate hike in March

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that with inflation high and the job market strengthening it will "soon" be appropriate to start raising interest rates, which the central bank has kept near zero to boost the recovery during the coronavirus pandemic. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Fed leaders were inclined to "raise the federal funds rate at the March meeting," assuming current trends continue. "The economy no longer needs sustained high levels" of monetary policy support, he said in earlier remarks. The Fed also is tapering the bond purchases it has used to further support the recovery, on track to end the program in March. The suggestion that the Fed could aggressively increase borrowing costs added pressure on stocks. [The New York Times]

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4. Spotify removes Neil Young's music after singer's Joe Rogan objections

Spotify on Wednesday removed Neil Young's music from its streaming service after he posted a letter on his website saying he would not allow his catalog on the same platform as podcast host Joe Rogan's "fake information" about coronavirus vaccines. "They can have Rogan or Young. Not both," Young said in the letter to his manager and record label. He said people spreading bogus information about vaccines could be killing people who believe it. Rogan, who hosts one of the most popular podcasts on Spotify, has faced frequent criticism for his statements on the pandemic, including that healthy young people shouldn't get vaccinated. "We regret Neil's decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon," a Spotify spokesperson told The Washington Post. [The Washington Post]

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5. Search continues but hope dims for 38 missing from capsized boat

Coast Guard ships and planes on Wednesday intensified the search for 38 people who went missing off the coast of Florida four days ago when their boat capsized in a storm. Search crews have found the body of one passenger, and another was rescued by a merchant vessel that spotted him sitting alone on the overturned 25-foot boat. The survivor said nobody on board had a life jacket. Capt. Jo-Ann Burdian said the vessel sailed from the Bahamas in a suspected human smuggling voyage and was caught in the storm as it crossed the Gulf Stream on the way to Florida. Human smugglers frequently use the Bahamas as a stepping stone for migrants, particularly from Haiti and Cuba, hoping to reach the United States. [The Associated Press]

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6. Capitol rioter sentenced to 44 months for throwing objects at police

U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington, D.C., on Thursday sentenced Nicholas Languerand, who was arrested in South Carolina in April, to 44 months in prison for throwing objects at police during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Laguerand also took an officer's riot shield. Languerand pleaded guilty, and will get credit for time served. Prosecutors had recommended a 51-month sentence, but Bates said he was granting a "modest reduction" due partly to Languerand's "extremely difficult and chaotic upbringing." When Languerand was a child, he nearly died when his father intentionally set fire to the trailer Languerand and his mother lived in. His defense lawyer had proposed a one-year prison sentence. [Reuters]

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7. North Korea launches 2 missiles in latest weapons test

North Korea on Thursday conducted what was believed to be its sixth weapons test this month, firing two suspected short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, according to South Korea's military. The missiles flew 118 miles and came down in the sea. The tests were seen as part of an effort to pressure the Biden administration into resuming long-stalled negotiations into lifting hard-hitting U.S.-led economic sanctions in exchange for limits on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs. Under international law, North Korea is not supposed to develop ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. The flurry of tests came as fallout from the coronavirus pandemic added to the economic damage caused by the sanctions. [NPR, CNN]

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8. Another figure in Gaetz investigation agrees to cooperate

Florida radio host Joseph "Big Joe" Ellicott has agreed to plead guilty to fraud and drug charges and cooperate with the investigation into allegations against Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), including sexual contact with a minor, sex trafficking, and obstruction of justice, one of Ellicott's attorneys, Joe Zwick, said Wednesday. Ellicott is only loosely acquainted with Gaetz, but he was good friends with former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, Gaetz's "wingman" who is central to the investigation into whether Gaetz paid for sex with a 17-year-old and then obstructed justice. Greenberg also is cooperating under a plea deal. Gaetz has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and has not been charged with any crimes. Zwick said his client already has met with investigators to discuss Gaetz. [CNN, Politico]

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9. San Jose becomes 1st city mandating insurance for gun owners

San Jose, California, has become the first city in the country to require gun owners to buy liability insurance. The San Jose City Council approved the measure in a lopsided Tuesday night vote over opposition from gun-rights advocates and gun owners, who said the ordinance would violate the Second Amendment. Critics of the policy vowed to challenge it in court. Supporters on the council, some of whom said they had friends killed by gunfire, said the requirement would help address gun violence, which Councilmember Sergio Jimenez called "a scourge on our society." The insurance requirement will encourage the city's 55,000 gun-owning households to use gun safes and trigger locks, and take gun safety classes, Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) said.  [The Associated Press]

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10. Charlie Brown voice actor Peter Robbins dies at 65

Peter Robbins, the voice actor who portrayed Charlie Brown in the 1960s Peanuts cartoons, has died from suicide, his family confirmed Wednesday. He was 65. Robbins voiced Charlie Brown from 1963 to 1969 in such classic TV specials as A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. He battled mental illness and addiction throughout his adult life. In 2013, Robbins pleaded guilty to threatening and stalking his ex-girlfriend and her cosmetic surgeon. Robbins reportedly suffered from bipolar disorder, and checked himself into a California mental hospital shortly after Christmas. He told his agent, Dylan Novak, "I really need your prayers," according to TMZ. Hospital staff reportedly urged him to stay a few weeks, but he discharged himself on Jan. 18 and was found dead days later. [New York Post, TMZ]

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NEW: President Biden's job approval rating has dropped to 34% in Georgia, a closely watched swing state he won in 2020, according to a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution/University of Georgia poll shared with Axios.
 
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Geraldo Rivera took issue with Sean Hannity’s portrayal of Biden as mentally in decline, calling the Fox News host’s video montage of the president and its implication “deeply insulting and highly political.”
 
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Mark Meadows is facing possible criminal contempt charges for his refusal to comply with the House select committee but his former top aide sure isn't
 
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An unmasked Sarah Palin was spotted at a New York City restaurant on Wednesday night—two days after her attorney revealed she had tested positive for COVID-19
 
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Attorneys say a teenager charged with killing four students at Michigan high school will pursue an insanity defense. The notice, filed today, should lead to mental health exams of 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, who is charged in the Nov. 30 shooting.
 
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AP-NORC poll: Most Americans think we’re going to be stuck with COVID-19 for a long time. Just 15% say they’ll consider the pandemic over only when COVID-19 is largely eliminated.
 
The new AP-NORC poll shows the vast majority — 83% — say they’ll feel the pandemic is over when it’s largely a mild illness.
 
The poll also underscored what authorities say are alarmingly low COVID-19 vaccination rates in children. Among parents, just 37% consider it essential that their kids are vaccinated before they feel safe going back to normal.
 
Overall, 59% of American adults think it’s essential that they personally be vaccinated against COVID-19 to feel safe participating in public activities, and 47% think it’s essential to get boosters.
 
The poll shows pandemic precautions making a comeback during the omicron surge. Overall, 64% say they are frequently avoiding large groups and 65% are wearing face masks around others, both up from 57% in December.
 
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Winter cold is devastating Afghanistan's most vulnerable. International aid organizations are scrambling to save millions from starving or freezing because they have neither food nor fuel. The poorest depend on scrounged or donated scraps. http://apne.ws/4DFGPtN

By @Kathygannon

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Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL career is over.

The longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has announced his retirement after 18 years, two Super Bowls, countless team records and a spot in the Hall of Fame all but secure. He is 39.

by @willgravesap

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