ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
57°
Cloudy
H 71° L 63°
  • cloudy-day
    57°
    Current Conditions
    Cloudy. H 71° L 63°
  • cloudy-day
    69°
    Afternoon
    Cloudy. H 71° L 63°
  • cloudy-day
    65°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 71° L 63°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

The Latest Business Headlines

    The European Central Bank is expected to halt the stimulus program that it deployed nearly four years ago to nurture a teetering eurozone economy back to health. Analysts say the bank is likely to confirm Thursday its plan to stop the program's monthly bond purchases at year end despite worries about growth. The program pumped 2.6 trillion euros ($3 trillion) into the economy of the 19 countries that use the euro. Attention will turn to President Mario Draghi's news conference for clues about whether the bank might postpone its first interest rate increase. Draghi has credited the stimulus and low rates with creating 9.5 million jobs while Europe's economy healed from a debt crisis that threatened to break up the euro. But critics in Germany say it bailed out fiscally wobbly governments.
  • Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, and establish smaller new locations in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, the company said Thursday. The tech giant based in Cupertino, California, says the new campus in Austin will start with 5,000 employees working in engineering, research and development, operations, finance, sales and customer support. It will be less than a mile from existing Apple facilities. The other new locations will have more than 1,000 employees each. Austin already is home to more than 6,000 Apple employees, representing the largest population of the company's workers outside of Apple's Cupertino headquarters, where most of its roughly 37,000 California employees work. 'Apple has been a vital part of the Austin community for a quarter century, and we are thrilled that they are deepening their investment in our people and the city we love,' said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a statement. The company also said it plans to expand in Pittsburgh, New York and Colorado over the next three years. The Austin announcement comes nearly a year after Apple disclosed it would canvas the U.S. for another location. Cities wooed Apple with various incentives, though Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company wasn't trying to stage a competition like Amazon, which encouraged civic leaders to come up with enticing packages if they wanted their cities to become the home of its second headquarters. Amazon announced last month that after a 14-month search it had selected Long Island City, Queens, and Arlington, Virginia , as the joint winners. Each site will get 25,000 jobs.
  • The Latest on Brexit (all times local): 11 a.m. The German parliament has approved a motion stating that the Brexit deal can't be renegotiated, underlining the stance of the government and European Union allies. The largely symbolic motion was approved hours before Chancellor Angela Merkel and the other 27 EU leaders gather in Brussels. British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking reassurances about the withdrawal deal, which she is struggling to sell to skeptical lawmakers. The German motion states that 'there will not be an agreement that is better and fairer for both sides. Any hope that a rejection of the agreement could lead to its renegotiation must prove to be illusory.' It adds: 'It must be clear to all that the finely balanced overall package cannot be undone again.' ___ 10:50 a.m. British Prime Minister Theresa May has arrived at European Union headquarters for crunch Brexit talks with Irish leader Leo Varadkar and EU Council President Donald Tusk. May arrived in a sealed-off area where no cameras were allowed, a few hours before Thursday's EU summit where she is seeking support from her European partners to help sell the Brexit deal to the U.K. Parliament. Tusk, who is chairing the summit in Brussels, tweeted that he is meeting May separately 'for last-minute talks.' EU leaders insist that the Brexit deal she has reached with them is the only one possible and that it cannot be reopened. However, they have said they are willing to clarify elements of the agreement and provide reassurances about how it would work. ___ 9:10 a.m. Germany's main business lobby group says it's up to the British government 'not to waste any more time' and to secure an orderly exit from the European Union. The Federation of German Industries placed responsibility for avoiding a no-deal Brexit squarely on London. In a statement, the group's director general, Joachim Lang, appealed to 'those responsible in London to organize a majority to avert a hard Brexit as soon as possible.' Otherwise, he said companies 'will have to press ahead with implementing the necessary emergency measures for a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.' Lang said the withdrawal agreement Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to sell in Britain 'will help limit the damage on both sides of the Channel.' ___ 9 a.m. The pound has advanced further after British Prime Minister Theresa May won a confidence vote among lawmakers from within her Conservative Party. The currency, which slumped earlier in the week to 20-month lows after May pulled a vote on her Brexit divorce deal with the European Union, has recovered ground since it became clear would win the confidence vote and that she would not face another one from her own party in the next year. Traders think that means she may have more room for manoeuver in her dealings with Parliament that could mean Britain ends up having close economic ties with the EU after Brexit officially happens in March. Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, also said the defeat of her opponents in Conservative Party suggests that the 'risks of a 'no-deal' Brexit may well have receded.' The pound was up 0.3 percent in morning trading at $1.2679. ___ 8:30 a.m. Germany's foreign minister says he's relieved that Britain's governing party stopped short of creating 'total chaos' in the Brexit process, but is indicating that he still sees little chance of substantial concessions to London on its European Union divorce deal. Prime Minister Theresa May is expected at an EU summit Thursday after surviving a confidence vote by her party's lawmakers, many of whom loathe the agreement. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Deutschlandfunk radio that 'we now have another chance with Theresa May of her ... getting a majority for this accord, which is a compromise between both sides.' Asked what could be done to secure British approval without renegotiation or legal changes, Maas replied: 'Ultimately the British have to tell us that because, if there are proposals from Brussels now, no one can tell given the confusion in London whether it is enough to get a majority in the House of Commons.' ___ 8:10 a.m. British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking a lifeline from European Union leaders after winning a no-confidence vote triggered by Conservative lawmakers unhappy with her Brexit plan. May will ask the 27 other EU leaders at a Brussels summit Thursday for reassurances about the Brexit divorce deal that she can use to win over a skeptical British Parliament. The British leader scrapped a planned vote on the deal this week when it became clear she would lose. The bloc is adamant there can be no substantive changes to the legally-binding withdrawal agreement. On Wednesday evening, May survived a vote on her leadership from Conservative lawmakers by 200-117. The victory gives her a reprieve from domestic pressure but the size of the rebellion underscores the unpopularity of her Brexit plan.
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking a lifeline from European Union leaders Thursday after winning a no-confidence vote among her own Conservative lawmakers. May will ask the other 27 EU leaders at a summit in Brussels for reassurances about the deal that she can use to win over a skeptical British Parliament, particularly those within her party who triggered the no-confidence vote in the first place. Earlier this week, to great uproar in Parliament, May scrapped a planned vote on the deal this week when it became clear she would lose. The bloc is adamant there can be no substantive changes to the legally-binding withdrawal agreement but have suggested that there could be some 'clarifications.' On Wednesday evening, May survived a vote on her leadership from Conservative lawmakers by 200-117. The victory gives her a reprieve in that her own party can't have a confidence in her leadership for another year, but the size of the rebellion underscores the unpopularity of her Brexit plan. The vote confirms May's reputation as a dogged, determined political survivor. But now comes the more formidable task — seeking changes to the withdrawal agreement that can win support in Britain's Parliament. May's Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, told the BBC that there were signs of 'positive' movement from the EU on the one issue that has proved the most intractable — the provisions designed to prevent the re-implementation of physical border controls between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU. Under this so-called 'backstop,' the U.K. would remain part of the EU customs union if the two sides couldn't agree on another way to avoid a 'hard border.' Lawmakers from all sides of the political spectrum don't like the backstop because the U.K. couldn't leave the arrangement without the EU's consent. 'There is movement, but the question is how do we ensure that that movement is sufficient for colleagues?' he said. 'But colleagues also need to focus on the fact that alternative deals also need a backstop.' Re-opening the negotiations to address the border problem also raises the risk that May could lose concessions on other parts of the deal, Barclay said. Among EU leaders there is sympathy for May's predicament — but also exasperation at Britain's political mess. Germany's main business lobby group says it's up to the British government 'not to waste any more time' and to secure an orderly exit from the European Union. The Federation of German Industries placed responsibility for avoiding a no-deal Brexit squarely on London. 'We appeal to those responsible in London to organize a majority to avert a hard Brexit as soon as possible,' the group's director general, Joachim Lang, said. 'Otherwise companies will have to press ahead with implementing the necessary emergency measures for a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.' ___ Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit crisis at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
  • The Latest on the detentions in China of two Canadian men (all times local): 3:55 p.m. China has confirmed it has detained two Canadian men, saying they were being detained on suspicion of 'endangering national security.' Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Thursday that entrepreneur Michael Spavor and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig were taken into custody on Monday. Lu says Canada has been informed of the detentions, but declined to say whether the men have been provided with lawyers. He says they are being handled separately. The two cases ratchet up pressure on Canada, which is holding an executive of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei wanted by the United States. China has demanded the immediate release of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's CFO and the daughter of its founder. Asked if detentions were related to Meng's arrest, Lu said they were being handled according to Chinese law. ___ 2:15 p.m. The apparent detentions of two Canadian men in China this week have raised the stakes in a three-way international dispute with the United States. The Canadian government said late Wednesday that entrepreneur Michael Spavor went missing after reporting that he was being questioned by Chinese authorities. His disappearance follows the detention of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing on Monday. The two cases ratchet up pressure on Canada, which is holding a Chinese telecommunications executive wanted by the United States. The U.S. is seeking the extradition of Huawei Technologies' Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1. China has reacted angrily to her detention and demanded her release. It has not confirmed that Spavor or Kovrig has been detained.
  • Almost 100 Amazon packages were dumped on the side of the road Tuesday night in Georgia. >> Watch the news report here WSB-TV's Lauren Pozen was in Peachtree Hills, a neighborhood in Atlanta's Buckhead, where dozens of Amazon boxes and bags were left in a cul-de-sac on Highland Drive. >> See a photo of the packages here Pozen talked to a man and his wife who said they saw something off the side of the road that they initially thought was just trash.  Charles McIntyre said he saw about 20 or 25 Amazon packages stacked up neatly near a fire hydrant, some of them open. In an odd twist, it didn't look like anything had been stolen.  >> Operation Grinch Pinch: Texas police going after porch thieves with GPS trackers 'You would think if somebody's stealing something, they would ransack and grab what they could,' McIntyre said. McIntyre called police, who came out to pick up the packages. Pozen spoke to Atlanta police, who said they will send those packages back to Amazon.  WSB-TV has reported on several incidents of 'porch pirates' stealing packages off people's front porches, but that is not what happened here.  'Somebody took the time to open them neatly, not ripping anything, and as I opened it, the gift was still in there,' McIntyre said.  McIntyre said the boxes were full of a variety of things, but at least one was full of golf balls.  Neighbors are still perplexed as to how the packages got there and who left them.  >> Read more trending news  Pozen spoke with another neighbor whose mail was stolen last night, but it's unclear if there's any correlation with the dropped-off packages.  McIntyre jokes that maybe Christmas came too early. 'Maybe Santa dropped them off by mistake,' McIntyre said. 'He thought he had them at the right house, but Santa wouldn't open the gifts.' Amazon is advising customers who live in Buckhead and have ordered anything in recent days to report any issues with shipments. 
  • China confirmed Thursday it has detained two Canadian men, raising the stakes in a three-way dispute over a Chinese technology executive facing possible extradition from Canada to the United States. Entrepreneur Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig were taken into custody Monday on suspicion of 'engaging in activities that endanger the national security' of China, said foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang. Lu said Canada was informed but declined to say whether the men have been provided with lawyers. He said the cases are being handled separately by local bureaus of the national intelligence agency in Beijing, where Kovrig was picked up, and the northeastern city of Dandong, where Spavor lived. 'The legal rights of the two Canadians are being safeguarded,' Lu told reporters at a daily briefing. The two cases ratchet up pressure on Canada, which is holding Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Ltd. She was arrested Dec. 1 at the request of the United States, which wants her extradited to face bank fraud charges. Canadian officials have been unable to contact Spavor 'since he let us know he was being questioned by Chinese authorities,' said Canadian Global Affairs spokesman Guillaume Berube. 'We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we continue to raise this with the Chinese government.' Kovrig is an analyst on northeast Asia for the International Crisis Group, a think tank, who took a leave of absence from the Canadian government. He lives in Hong Kong. Spavor runs tours of North Korea along with sports, business and other exchanges through his company, Paektu Cultural Exchange. He has met leader Kim Jong Un and was instrumental in bringing former NBA star Dennis Rodman to the North's capital, Pyongyang, in 2013. Acquaintances said Spavor was due Monday in Seoul, the South Korean capital, but failed to arrive. The detentions echo that of another Canadian, Keven Garratt, who was picked up in 2014 in what was seen as retaliation for Canada's arrest of a Chinese spying suspect wanted in the United States. Garratt was held for 750 days in 2014-16 and sentenced to eight years in prison on spying charges but then deported. The broadly defined national security charge encompasses both traditional espionage and other forms of information gathering such as interviewing dissidents and contacting non-governmental organizations. Meng was arrested while changing planes in Vancouver but has been released on bail. The U.S. accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to deceive banks and do business with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. China earlier warned of unspecified dire consequences if Meng wasn't released. The editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a Communist Party-run tabloid known for its provocative views, warned in a video Wednesday night of 'retaliatory measures' if Canada doesn't free Meng. 'If Canada extradites Meng to the U.S., China's revenge will be far worse than detaining a Canadian,' said Hu Xijin, speaking in English. Canada has asked China for extra security at its embassy because of protests and anti-Canadian sentiment and has advised foreign service staff to take precautions, a senior Canadian official told reporters. The United States and China have emphasized that trade talks are separate from Meng's case, though President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would intervene if it would help produce a deal. 'If I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what's good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,' Trump told Reuters in an interview. The suggestion Meng could be a political pawn makes the situation more awkward for Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bristled at Trump's assertion, saying: 'Regardless of what goes on in other countries, Canada is, and will always remain, a country of the rule of law.' Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said it was 'quite obvious' any foreign country requesting extradition should ensure 'the process is not politicized.' 'Trump's remarks could be interpreted as creating the appearance that the arrest also had political motivations,' said Gregory Yaeger of the Stroock law firm, a former Justice Department attorney. 'This could undermine the U.S.'s reputation as a country that follows the 'rule of law,' and could ultimately undermine both the Meng prosecution and the trade talks.' Earlier this year, Trump drew fire for intervening on behalf of Huawei's smaller Chinese rival, ZTE Corp., after the company was barred it from buying U.S. technology over exports to Iran and North Korea. Trump restored access after ZTE agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, change its board and executives and install a team of U.S.-selected compliance managers. Also Thursday, Ministry of Commerce spokesman said Chinese and U.S. officials were in 'close contact' over the trade dispute but gave no timeline for possible face-to-face talks. Asked whether a Chinese delegation would go to Washington, spokesman Gao Feng said, 'China welcomes the U.S. side to come to China for consultations, and also is open to communicating with the United States.' Gao said the two sides had reached a 'common understanding' on agricultural products, energy and automobiles, which the two sides previously announced. He said additional details would be announced later. ___ Gillies reported from Toronto. Associated Press writer Paul Wiseman in Washington and video journalist Dake Kang in Beijing contributed.
  • Shares rose in Europe and Asia on Thursday after a strong overnight finish on Wall Street. Traders were encouraged by a Wall Street Journal report saying the Chinese government might make changes to its 'Made in China 2025' economic development plan. KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX added 0.3 percent to 10,961.39 and the CAC40 in France climbed 0.3 percent to 4,923.63. Britain's FTSE 100 edged 0.2 percent higher to 6,891.77. The future contract for the S&P 500 was up 0.5 percent at 2,666.20 while the contract for the Dow climbed 0.4 percent to 24,762.00, auguring an upbeat start for the day. THE DAY IN ASIA: Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 1.0 percent to 21,816.19 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng report jumped 1.3 percent to 26,524.35. The Shanghai Composite index climbed 1.2 percent to 2,634.05 while the Kospi in South Korea added 0.6 percent to 2,095.55. India's Sensex advanced 0.7 percent to 36,016.89 while the S&P ASX 200 in Australia edged 0.1 percent higher to 5,661.60. Shares also rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia. MADE IN CHINA 2025: The Chinese initiative aims to create leading companies in fields like artificial intelligence, electric cars and robotics. The Trump administration says the government is unfairly subsidizing Chinese companies and discriminating against foreign rivals. Along with disputes over China's handling of intellectual property, it's a significant contributor to trade tensions. The Wall Street Journal reported a revised plan would allow greater access for foreign companies to Chinese markets and investment. BREXIT: British Prime Minister Theresa May won a no-confidence vote that had threatened to end her tenure. Lawmakers within May's Conservative Party have expressed frustration over her negotiations of Britain's departure from the European Union, and many of them want a cleaner break from the trading bloc. Opposition lawmakers don't want Britain to leave the EU. The lingering uncertainty over the 'Brexit' has pushed the British pound sharply lower. It rose to $1.2672 from Wednesday's $1.2634. ANALYST'S VIEWPOINT: 'Local equity markets are trading well, catching an updraft via U.S. equity futures as in the absence of any inflammatory rhetoric from the U.S. administration, the perception that trade tensions are easing continues to steer the ship. But investors are also breathing a sigh of relief that the U.K. worst-case scenarios didn't unfold overnight,' Stephen Innes of Oanda said in a commentary. ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 21 cents to $50.94 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 1 percent to $52.15 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 15 cents to $60.00 per barrel. It lost 0.1 percent to $60.15 per barrel in London. CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.46 yen from 113.32 yen. The euro rose to $1.1382 from $1.1370. ____ AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed. He can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP
  • The latest on the frictions between Canada and China over the arrest of a top Chinese tech executive (all times local): 9:10 p.m. An official familiar with the matter says the Canadian man missing in China and feared detained is entrepreneur Michael Spavor. Spavor is director of the Paektu Cultural Exchange and is one of the few Westerners to have ever met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He helped arrange a visit to North Korea by former NBA player Dennis Rodman. The official spoke Wednesday night on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. China has already detained a former Canadian diplomat in what appears to be retaliation for Canada's arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecommunications giant Huawei. Earlier Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland expressed concern that another Canadian may have also been taken into custody. The official says that person is Spavor. ___ 3:35 p.m. The United States and China have taken pains this week to emphasize that their trade talks are entirely separate from the U.S. case against a top Chinese technology executive. But with a few words, President Donald Trump obliterated the distinction, saying he'd wade into the case if it would help produce a trade agreement with China. China has already detained a former Canadian diplomat in what appears to be retaliation for Canada's arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecommunications giant Huawei. On Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland expressed concern that another Canadian may have also been taken into custody. A Canadian court on Tuesday released Meng on bail, confining her to Vancouver and its suburbs while she awaits possible extradition to the United States. The U.S. accuses Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies, of using a Hong Kong shell company to do business with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.
  • Malaysian national car maker Proton launched its first SUV on Wednesday in a fresh effort to transform its stale brand and turn around its fortunes, more than a year after China's Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd. bought a key stake in the company. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad launched the 1.8 liter (0.48 gallon) -engine X70 and expressed hopes for Proton's recovery. The X70 is based on Geely's Boyue vehicle, which is one of China's best-selling SUVs. It is priced from 99,800 ringgit ($23,800) to 123,800 ringgit ($29,540), making it competitive with Japanese and South Korean brands. Proton, founded in 1983 as part of Malaysia's industrialization push, was once king of the country's roads but its sales suffered because of growing competition and a reputation for poor quality and bland models. Proton was privatized in 2012 and its new owner, conglomerate DRB-Hicom Berhad, sold a 49.9 percent stake to Geely in June last year after it failed to revive the carmaker. DRB-Hicom retains 50.1 percent equity in loss-making Proton. Geely, which also owns Sweden's Volvo Cars, last year said it will inject $40 million into Proton as part of its stake purchase. Proton has a distribution network in some key markets in the region and the deal gives the Chinese company a platform to expand in Southeast Asia, where non-Japanese brands often struggle. Proton said in a statement that the X70, its first vehicle jointly developed with Geely, will help transform perceptions of its brand. It said bookings for the car opened in September ahead of the launch and that it has received more than 10,000 orders. The X70 'introduces Proton to a new market segment and is the key catalyst for the total rejuvenation of the brand,' the company said. Geely is one of China's biggest independent auto brands. Founded in 1986 as a refrigerator manufacturer, it started producing motorcycles in the 1990s and launched its first car in 2002. It bought Volvo from Ford Motor Co. in 2010. Geely has said it will make Malaysia a manufacturing hub for right-hand drive vehicles for its global sales. Geely recently also agreed to help upgrade Proton cars for sale in global markets. Proton's tie-up with Geely also marked a turning point in Malaysia's auto policy. The government has long resisted efforts to sell off any key stake in Proton, seen as a national icon. Mahathir, who started Proton when he was prime minister for 22 years until his retirement in 2003, last year slammed the sale to Geely, saying it was like 'losing a child.' He returned to power a second time after leading an alliance to oust the country's long-ruling coalition in May elections. At the launch Wednesday, Mahathir praised Proton's progress since its partnership with Geely. He said he was impressed with technological advances such as better security and voice command features in the X70. He urged Proton to continue to produce strong car models that can make Malaysia proud. Mahathir recently said his government plans to start another national car company, but it drew criticism from many Malaysians who said authorities should instead focus on improving public transport.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A trespasser and possible burglar found himself in a sticky situation this week after he became trapped in the grease vent of a closed-down Chinese restaurant in San Lorenzo, California, deputies said. >> Read more trending news  According to KGO, firefighters on Wednesday rescued the man from the vent, where he had been trapped for two days, after the owner of a nearby business heard him calling for help. He was hospitalized for dehydration and 'is expected to make a full recovery,' the Alameda County Sheriff's Office said. >> See a photo from the scene here The 29-year-old suspect may have been trying to break in to steal copper wire or plumbing, said Sgt. Ray Kelly, a Sheriff's Office spokesman. 'We can confirm this man was not Santa Claus and did not have legal authority to be here,' Kelly said. Authorities are submitting the case to the district attorney, who will determine whether the man will face any charges, the Sheriff's Office said. Read more here.
  • As President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday by a federal judge, prosecutors in New York revealed that the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid, American Media Inc., had admitted paying $150,000 to a former Playboy model, in order to insure that her story of an affair with Mr. Trump would not become public before the 2016 election. “AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York stated. The feds made clear the financial transaction was completed for only one reason: “AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election,” read the “Statement of Admitted Facts” agreed to by the feds and AMI. The candidate involved in the story was President Trump – the person helping negotiate the deal was Cohen, and the head of AMI was Trump ally, David Pecker. In the ‘Admitted Facts’ laid out on Wednesday, Pecker acknowledged having a meeting around August of 2015 with Cohen – and one unidentified member of the Trump campaign – in which “Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women, by among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.” That’s what happened with the case of Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who has claimed she had an affair with the President. In June 2016, McDougal thought she was selling the rights to her story to be published in the National Enquirer – instead, AMI was looking out for the President. “Following the interview, AMI communicated to Cohen that it would acquire the story to prevent its publication,” the feds stipulated about AMI’s role. The U.S. Attorney’s office announced that officials had agreed not to prosecute AMI for that $150,000 transaction on behalf of Cohen and President Trump, even though it amounted to a violation of federal campaign finance laws. SDNY says it reached a non-prosecution agreement with AMI in connection with the $150k McDougal payment. 'AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story *so as to prevent it from influencing the election.'* pic.twitter.com/NpP1uGGyZC — Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) December 12, 2018 Pecker’s role in the McDougal story did not end with the $150,000 payment, as in the late stages of the 2016 campaign, Cohen moved to buy the ‘limited life rights’ to the McDougal story from AMI for $125,000. But in October of 2016, Pecker backed off – even after signing an agreement with Cohen which utilized a fake payment explanation through a shell company set up by the President’s personal lawyer. “At no time did AMI report to the Federal Election Commission that it had made the $150,000 payment to the model,” prosecutors wrote, saying that “AMI knew that corporations such as AMI are subject to federal campaign finance laws.” In other words – the feds saw this hush money transaction as a contribution to President Trump’s campaign – by keeping the women’s story out of the headlines. Reporters immediately went back to 2016 to dig up denials by AMI that it had been involved in these kinds of actions. American Media to WSJ in 2016: 'AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump.' Fed prosecutors in 2018: 'AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment…in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate.' — Joe Palazzolo (@joe_palazzolo) December 12, 2018 The process is known as “catch and kill” – and was documented just before the election by the Wall Street Journal, and then in recent months by the New Yorker magazine. It was not immediately clear if AMI – and Pecker – were in a position to offer other important information to investigators about President Trump and/or his campaign. “The writing’s on the wall,” said Rep. Denny Heck (D-NV) of the President’s legal situation on CNN. “The walls are closing in.”
  • A Kentucky woman is behind bars after police say she killed her newborn baby. According to WKYT, Amber Bowling, 21, of Manchester, has been charged with murder after police say she hid the infant in a garbage bag, then threw the child 'over the upstairs banister' of an apartment building. Police said the baby, born Sunday, was found dead Tuesday morning, WAVE reported. According to the autopsy, the newborn suffered fractures to the cranium and ribs, as well as brain bleeding, WLEX reported. >> Read more trending news  Bowling, who was arrested Wednesday, is being held in the Clay County Detention Center, according to WAVE. Read more here or here.
  • With more evidence of election fraud still surfacing in the race for North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District, the legislature in the Tar Heel State voted on Wednesday to give new powers to the state elections board, allowing the panel to call for an entirely new election – including a new primary – possibly allowing Republicans to field a new candidate for the seat in 2019. No action on the race – in which Republican Mark Harris defeated Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes – has yet been taken by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, which is set to hold a new hearing before December 21; the Governor must decide whether to sign this new bill by December 22. The actions by the state legislature came as new evidence has emerged of possible absentee ballot fraud, including charges that a GOP operative may have been in possession of hundreds of ballots, and that preliminary totals of absentees in one county were tallied before Election Day, a violation of state law. Well, looks like there will be a primary in the #nc09 after all #StayTuned pic.twitter.com/aDJXnURV1I — Michael Bitzer (@BowTiePolitics) December 12, 2018 Under North Carolina law as currently written, the board of elections can only order a new election with the same candidates involved – but Republicans are worried that Harris – who also faces questions about possible fraud in the GOP primary – might be too tainted because of his ties to McRae Dowless, who was running some kind of absentee ballot operation in rural Bladen County for the Harris campaign. While Harris lost the absentee-by-mail votes across the Ninth District to Democrat Dan McCready, Harris on 61 percent of those votes in Bladen County – even though registered Republicans cast only 19 percent of those specific ballots. Stories have also emerged in recent days from people who did work for Dowless, saying that he had hundreds of absentee ballots in his possession, something which is illegal under North Carolina law. Dowless has been accused of not only collecting ballots, but also possibly tampering with, and discarding them. While Harris has denied knowledge of any absentee ballot operation, the GOP winner has been quiet about the almost daily drumbeat of new information, save for a video statement made several days ago. BREAKING: We have obtained a photo of Mark Harris and McCrae Dowless together. The picture was taken in March at a political event in Bladen County. The person who took the photo has asked us to not identify them. #NC09 #ncpol @wsoctv pic.twitter.com/v4w9L6GwAa — Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) December 12, 2018 If the North Carolina elections board decides to hold a new election, it would probably take months for the primary and general election – leaving that seat vacant as the 116th Congress convenes in January. So far, Democrats have not indicated whether they will investigate the election fraud questions from the November election, along with questions about possible absentee ballot fraud in the GOP primary, which saw Harris win an astounding 95 percent of the absentee-by-mail ballots in Bladen County, as he defeated incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC). Pittenger has not said if he will run again, but has raised questions about Dowless and possible fraud.
  • Winning over the votes of a last rebel group of House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday evening that she would agree to serve no more than four years as Speaker of the House, accepting a plan from younger lawmakers in her party which would limit senior House leadership to a maximum of eight years in those high profile positions. “I am comfortable with the proposal and it is my intention to abide by it whether it passes or not,” Pelosi said in a statement, as Democrats planned a vote by mid-February on the term limit plan. Pelosi’s agreement seems to pave the way for her to bring on board a final group of Democrats who had demanded an overhaul of their party’s leadership in the House, which is dominated by lawmakers – like Pelosi – who are in their 70’s. “I firmly believe that the reforms we have advocated for will create advancement opportunities for the next generation of Democratic leaders and will strengthen our Caucus,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA). “I have pushed for new leadership because I want to see generational change in the Democratic Caucus,” said Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D-CO). “We will support and vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House in the 116th Congress,” a group including Perlmutter and six other Democratic holdouts said in a statement. BREAKING: Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, a Democrat, says she'll serve no more than four years as House speaker, all but ensuring she'll be elected to the post in January. — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) December 12, 2018 While Pelosi had easily won a vote of House Democrats after Thanksgiving to be the next Speaker, there were still questions about whether she could secure 218 votes on the floor of the House in January. This agreement will seal the deal, as Pelosi said she would serve no more than four more years as Speaker. Pelosi is the first House member to serve as Speaker – then see her party lose the minority, and return as Speaker – since Sam Rayburn did that in the mid-1950’s. While Republicans in the House had embraced term limits for committee chairs, the GOP had not applied those limits to the Speaker. Pelosi had expressed confidence that she would be able to grind out enough votes to win a floor showdown as Speaker, but in the end, she decided to cut a deal to end any suspense. “Over the summer, I made it clear that I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders,” Pelosi said in a statement, “a recognition of my continuing responsibility to mentor and advance new Members into positions of power and responsibility in the House Democratic Caucus.”