Jussie Smollett guilty verdict latest in polarizing case
Jussie Smollett’s conviction Thursday for lying to police about a racist, homophobic attack came nearly three years after his report of a horrifying hate crime quickly became part of a polarized political landscape, with people — including the president of the United States — weighing in from all over.
A prosecutor said the verdict was “a resounding message by the jury that Mr. Smollett did exactly what we said he did” — recruit two brothers to fake an attack so it could be recorded by a surveillance camera and posted on social media for publicity.
The brothers testified that the former “Empire” actor paid them $3,500 for the hoax and gave them lines to yell, including about “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to then-President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
I’ve seen talk on Twitter that Jussie’s case will get Don Lemon fired, that is the rwnj buzz anyway
Girlfriend: Daunte Wright was ‘just gasping’ after shooting
The woman who was riding with Daunte Wright when he was pulled over by police tearfully testified on Thursday about the chaos right after an officer shot him, saying she screamed at Wright trying to get a response but that he “wasn’t answering me and he was just gasping.”
“I grabbed, like, whatever was in the car. I don’t remember if it was a sweater or a towel or a blanket or something … and put it on his chest like, like you know, you see in movies and TV shows,” Alayna Albrecht-Payton, who was Wright’s girlfriend, testified. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Albrecht-Payton answered Wright’s cellphone as his mother tried frantically to reestablish contact after a call with him was cut off right before he was shot. Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, testified tearfully on Wednesday that she first saw her son’s apparently lifeless body via that video call.
“I pointed the camera on him,” Albrecht-Payton said. “And I’m so sorry I did that.”
DEA agent gets 12 years for conspiring with Colombian cartel
A once-standout U.S. narcotics agent who used his badge to build a lavish lifestyle of expensive cars, parties on yachts and Tiffany jewels was sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison Thursday for conspiring to launder money with a Colombian cartel.
But even as José Irizarry admitted to his crimes, he blamed former colleagues at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for fostering a culture of corruption that desensitized him to the implications of violating the law.
“When my client joined the DEA he was schooled in how to be corrupt, he was schooled in how to break the law,” his attorney, María Dominguez, said in court. “In this alternate universe it became easier and less suspect to accept money and gifts” from criminal informants who worked with the U.S. premier narcotics agency.
U.S. District Court Judge Charlene Honeywell in handing down her sentence expressed disgust with the DEA for its failings and said other agents corrupted by “the allure of easy money” also needed to be investigated.
Biden assures Ukraine’s leader of US support to deter Russia
President Joe Biden reached out to Ukraine’s leader Thursday as the United States moved to take a more direct role in diplomacy between that country and Russia, part of a broader effort to dissuade Russia from a destabilizing invasion of its western neighbor.
But any negotiations to peacefully resolve Europe’s tangled East-West rivalries will present minefields for the U.S. president.
Biden made his offer of American diplomacy during a two-hour online session with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. Biden proposed joining the Europeans in negotiations not just to settle the conflict in eastern Ukraine but to address Putin’s larger strategic objections to NATO expanding its membership and building military capacity ever closer to Russia’s borders.
Al Jazeera News
China guilty of Uighur genocide in Xinjiang, tribunal rules
The Chinese government has committed genocide, crimes against humanity and torture against Uighurs and other minorities in its western province of Xinjiang, an unofficial and independent UK-based tribunal has ruled.
Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, the head of the Uighur Tribunal and prominent human rights lawyer, said the Chinese government has targeted the Muslim Uighur population with forced birth control and sterilisation policies in order to reduce the group’s population.
“The tribunal is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the People’s Republic of China, by the imposition of measures to prevent births intended to destroy a significant part of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang as such, has committed genocide,” said Nice, who also led the prosecution of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on war crimes and genocide.
Nicaragua cuts diplomatic ties with Taiwan to align with Beijing
Nicaragua has broken off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, leaving the self-ruled democratic island with just 14 formal diplomatic allies amid ongoing pressure from China, which claims the island as its own.
The central American country made the announcement in a brief statement on Thursday from its foreign ministry, and cited Beijing’s One China policy.
“The Government of the Republic of Nicaragua declares that it recognises that in the world there is only one single China,” the statement read. “The People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. The Government of the Republic of Nicaragua today bvreaks diplomatic relations with Taiwan and ceases to have any contact or official relationship.”
EU countries agree to take in 40,000 Afghan refugees
A group of 15 European Union member states have agreed to take in 40,000 Afghans for resettlement, Commissioner Ylva Johansson said after meeting interior ministers of those countries.
Germany will accept the bulk of the new arrivals, with 25,000, with the Netherlands accepting 3,159, Spain and France 2,500 each, and other countries in lower numbers, according to a document seen by the AFP news agency.
“And I think this is an impressive act of solidarity,” Johansson said on Thursday, arguing that allowing more Afghans to migrate in a controlled way would help prevent “irregular arrivals”.
Good News Network
60 Visitors Got Snowed-In at a UK Pub For 3 Days –And Loved It
When sixty revelers went for a night in the UK’s highest pub, snow drifts and a downed power line ensured they got more time at the bar than they bargained for.
Yet between an Oasis cover band, tabletop games, trivia, and sing-along Christmas carols, three whole days in which no-one who entered could leave passed in holiday cheer—and the guests loved every minute of it.
“They’re all in good spirits, they’re all eating and drinking well,” said co-owner of the Tan Hill Pub Andrew Hields, to CNN. Tan Hill can be found in Swaledale in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales in northeast England, 1,732 feet above sea level—making it the highest sitting pub in the UK.