Penn State sued over hazing
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A former Penn State football player claims in a lawsuit that Nittany Lions players hazed him and other younger teammates by imitating sexual acts in the shower and invoking Jerry Sandusky’s name. Isaiah Humphries filed the lawsuit Monday in Pennsylvania federal court against the university, head coach James Franklin (pictured) and one former teammate. University police conducted an investigation and turned over their results to the local district attorney, who declined to prosecute, Penn State said in a statement. The university said it conducted extensive interviews but found nothing to substantiate claims against Franklin or to indicate that anyone had been hazed. The allegations include that older players said to younger ones, “I am going to Sandusky you.” Sandusky was the team’s retired longtime defensive coordinator when he was convicted in 2012 of sexual abuse of 10 boys, including physical attacks on university property. He is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence. Sandusky’s arrest prompted the firing of Hall of Fame head coach Joe Paterno, and the university subsequently paid more than $100 million to people who said they had been abused by Sandusky. The lawsuit claims some of the older players would physically restrain younger players, taunt them and engage in mock sex acts. It further claims that starting in January 2018, several players “collectively orchestrated, participated in, directed and or facilitated a campaign to harass and haze lower classmen members of the Penn State football team,” including Humphries.
Pelosi sets Wednesday votes
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House is set to vote Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate for a landmark trial on whether the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are grounds for removal. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the next steps after meeting privately with House Democrats at the Capitol, ending her blockade Tuesday a month after they voted to impeach Trump. It will be only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history, a serious moment coming amid the backdrop of a politically divided nation and an election year. “The President and the Senators will be held accountable,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial.” The Senate is expected to transform into an impeachment court as early as Thursday. The Constitution calls for the chief justice to preside over senators, who serve as jurors, to swear an oath to deliver “impartial justice.” The House managers will walk the articles across the Capitol in a dramatic procession Wednesday evening after the midday vote.
Meat Loaf sues hotel over fall
FORT WORTH, Texas — Meat Loaf has filed a lawsuit against a hotel at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and organizers of a horror convention held there, blaming them for negligence when he fell from a stage while answering questions from convention goers last May. The singer and actor, whose real name is Michael Lee Aday, and wife Deborah Lee Gillespie Aday filed the suit Monday in a state district court in Fort Worth, Texas, against the Hyatt Corp. and Texas Frightmare Weekend LLC. The lawsuit alleges the defendants hung curtains at the back edge of the stage at the Hyatt Regency DFW hotel that hid where the stage ended, creating a “hidden hazard.” The performer incurred severe neck, collarbone and shoulder injuries that have prevented him from performing since, according to the complaint. The 72-year-old Dallas native spent 42 days hospitalized after the fall and required him to undergo physical therapy.
Customer attacks manicurists
OKLAHOMA CITY — An angry Oklahoma City woman is accused of slapping a nail salon worker and punching and threatening another with a knife because the workers were speaking Vietnamese. Candace Nicole Muzny, 43, was arrested on complaints of assault with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery on a police officer after the incident Sunday evening at the Creative Nail salon. Muzny was getting a pedicure when one employee began speaking Vietnamese to another, at which point Muzny began yelling at the workers and slapped one in the face, according to a police report. When another employee tried to call police, she pulled out a pocket knife and punched him in the face. When a police officer tried to take Muzny into custody, the woman’s dog began biting the officer’s leg, and Muzny struck the officer behind the ear with the pocket knife, leaving him with a small cut.
Questions of racism linger
LONDON — When accomplished, glamorous American actress Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in 2018, she was hailed as a breath of fresh air for Britain’s fusty royal family. That honeymoon didn’t last. Now the couple wants independence, saying the pressure of life as full-time royals is unbearable. And a debate is raging: Did racism drive Meghan away? When Prince Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, began dating the “Suits” actress — daughter of a white father and African American mother — the media called it a sign that Britain had entered a “post-racial” era in which skin color and background no longer mattered, even to the royal family. U.K. Labour Party lawmaker Clive Lewis, who like Meghan has biracial heritage, says the royal rift shows that Britain still has a problem with “structural racism.” “We can see it with Meghan Markle and the way that she’s been treated in the media, we know that this is a reality of the 21st century, still,” Lewis told Sky News. “After 400 years of racism you can’t just overturn it overnight.”
Windows 10 security flaw found
The National Security Agency has discovered a major security flaw in Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system that could let hackers intercept seemingly secure communications. But rather than exploit the flaw for its own intelligence needs, the NSA tipped off Microsoft so that it can fix the system for everyone. Microsoft released a free software patch to fix the flaw Tuesday and credited the intelligence agency for discovering it. The company said it has not seen any evidence that hackers have used the technique. Amit Yoran, CEO of security firm Tenable, said it is “exceptionally rare if not unprecedented” for the U.S. government to share its discovery of such a critical vulnerability with a company. Yoran, who was a founding director of the Department of Homeland Security’s computer emergency readiness team, urged all organizations to prioritize patching their systems quickly.
Jet dumps fuel that lands on kids
CUDAHY, Calif. — A mist of fuel dumped by an airliner with an engine problem as it made an emergency return to Los Angeles International Airport fell on several schools Tuesday, causing minor skin and lung irritation to 56 children and adults, officials said. The fuel sprayed out of the plane in two lines and the strong-smelling vapor descended at midday in the city of Cudahy and nearby parts of Los Angeles County, about 13 miles east of the airport. The vapor fell on five elementary schools, but all injuries were minor and no one was taken to hospitals, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Sky Cornell said. It didn’t force any evacuations. “That’s a great sign,” Cornell said. All the fuel evaporated very quickly and nothing flammable remained in the air or on the ground, he said.
$1.7M for holiday pay error
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Union firefighters in Charleston will receive $1.7 million in back pay for being incorrectly compensated for holiday work since 2012. Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said the settlement with firefighters Local 317 comes after a conflict between state and city law that caused incorrect payments. “Our firefighters deserve to be paid fairly and in accordance with state law,” she said in a news release. “My administration has been working diligently with Charleston Professional Firefighters Local 317 for months to correct this problem made years ago and pay our first responders what they are owed.” The city council must still approve the settlement at their next set meeting on Jan. 21, with the payments scheduled to go out by the end of the month. A long-term fix for the discrepancy is expected to come up for a full vote on Feb. 3.
Nevada reaps weed tax revenue
LAS VEGAS — Nevada marijuana tax revenue collection in October was the largest since legal recreational sales began in 2017. The Nevada Department of Taxation took in $9.8 million, an increase of nearly $1.6 million from October 2018. The revenue was more than $1 million higher than the amount collected in September. The state collects a 15% wholesale cultivation and production tax and a 10% excise tax on retail marijuana sales. The state has collected $36.7 million in marijuana taxes through the first third of the 2020 fiscal year, an increase of nearly 16% from the same four months of the 2019 fiscal year.
Accused of nail-clipper stabbing
MILLVILLE, N.J — A woman accused of using a nail clipper to stab a man has been charged with murder. Kathleen Ayala, 30, also faces weapons charges stemming from the attack that occurred early Sunday at a mobile home complex here. Ayala and Axel Torres, 35, were arguing in their trailer when the dispute turned physical. Torres left the trailer, but prosecutors said Ayala chased after him, repeatedly stabbing him. Torres lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital but died there on Monday.
Hay tainted by toxic beetles kills
MAUSTON, Wis. — Hay tainted by a toxic beetle is blamed for the deaths of 14 horses and illnesses to dozens of others on a Wisconsin ranch. Steady rain and flooding this past summer left the hay in fields at Red Ridge Riding Stable in Mauston unusable. So, the owners, Cindy Kanarowski-Peterson and her husband, Lyle Peterson, purchased six semi loads of hay and alfalfa from farms in South Dakota and Wyoming to feed their horses. A blister beetle that releases a toxin when crushed during harvest is blamed for the horses’ deaths and for sickening another 100 horses on the ranch. Veterinarian Dave Kolb performed necropsies on some of the horses. Kolb said the toxin irritates the linings of the horses’ stomachs and intestines. University of Wisconsin-Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab director PJ Liesch said blister beetles comprise an entire family of beetles that can be found worldwide, including nearly 30 species in Wisconsin that aren’t typically on hay and alfalfa during harvest. “In the grand scheme of things, blister beetles are not uncommon in Wisconsin. However, they are rarely an issue in hay,” Liesch said in an email to the Wisconsin State Journal. “In my nearly six years as director of the UW Insect Diagnostic Lab, the recent incident in the state is the only time I’ve encountered an issue with horses and blister beetles. Having multiple horses die is an unusual occurrence.” There were no other reports of horse deaths elsewhere related to the tainted hay.
Customer leaves over $2K tip
MILFORD, N.H. — A customer made it much more than a double for two New Hampshire bartenders when he tipped them over $2,000 on a $21 check. Bruce Girouard and Karen Vaillancourt say a customer left them a $2,078.74 tip even though his bill was for only $21.26 on Friday at the Pasta Loft in Milford. The man asked the bartenders to check his math before he left and wrote his number on the top of the check in case management had questions. Vaillancourt describes the man as having “a really low profile, doesn’t like a lot of attention, you know, and just does really nice things just because he can.” The bartenders say the man will remain anonymous.
Cowboy hat-wearing pigeon dies
LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas animal rescuers have confirmed one of three hat-wearing pigeons that gained popularity on social media has died. Lofty Hopes Pigeon Rescue employees say fumes from glue used to affix the hats could have poisoned Bille the Pidge. Lofty Hopes Pigeon Rescue tweeted Sunday that the female bird was weak and had lost toes to a condition where its toes are isolated by a string and fall off. Officials say the three pigeons were first discovered in December wearing miniature red cowboy hats in Las Vegas. Rescue employees say the hats were glued on. Employees say pigeons have fragile respiratory systems and a veterinarian had to trim feathers to remove the hats. It wasn’t certain if the bird’s death was connected to the hat. It is still unknown who put the hats on the birds. Billie is survived by two other former cowboy pigeons — Cluck Norris and Coolamity Jane.
Police widows pack sentencing
NEW YORK — Widows of police officers killed in the line of duty packed a courtroom Tuesday for the sentencing of a fellow widow who they say spoiled their charity’s reputation by stealing $400,000. Several widows told U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein about the damage done by Lorraine Shanley before he sentenced the 69-year-old widow to two years in prison for stealing from the Survivors of the Shield charity, formed in 1988 to aid surviving spouses and their children. Shanley pleaded guilty in September to bank and tax fraud, admitting to defrauding the charity from 2012 to 2017 of $400,000, more than 20% of the donations received during the time period. A defense lawyer said about $290,000 can be paid back of roughly $406,000 ordered owed as restitution to the charity. Prosecutors say she spent the money on personal indulgences, including concert tickets, shopping sprees, landscaping, taxis, groceries and family vacations. Defense arguments that she made errors in judgment in response to family hardships and financial pressures drew skepticism from prosecutors.
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More trembles from volcano
TAGAYTAY, Philippines — A volcano near the Philippine capital spewed lava into the sky and trembled constantly Tuesday, possibly portending a bigger and more dangerous eruption, as tens of thousands of people fled villages darkened and blanketed by heavy ash. Government work was suspended and schools were closed in a number of towns and cities, including Manila, because of health risks from the ash. Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed, affecting tens of thousands of passengers. The restiveness of the Taal volcano and several new fissures in the ground nearby likely mean magma is rising and may lead to further eruptive activity, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said. The volcano was spurting fountains of red-hot lava 800 meters (half a mile) into the sky, and the massive column of ash and volcanic debris at times lit up with streaks of lightning.
Perry: No need to fight or protest
NEW YORK — The lack of diversity and notable snubs in this year’s Oscar nominations left Tyler Perry annoyed, but he says it’s not worth getting upset because it’s a system that is not going to change. “There is no need in going back and forth, or fighting, or protesting. It is what it is. This is how it is in Hollywood, and it’s how it will always be,” Perry said. Not only were there no female nominees in directing for the 87th time in Oscar history — a direct snub to Greta Gerwig, director of “Little Women,” as well as several other worthy candidates. There was also only one person of color, Cynthia Erivo, among the 20 acting nominees. Golden Globe winner Awkwafina (“The Farewell”) was denied a chance at an Oscar. Globe nominees Jennifer Lopez, for her role in “Hustlers,” and Beyonce, for original song “Spirit” from “The Lion King,” were also overlooked. “I feel like Jennifer Lopez should have been nominated. She did a great job. I feel like Awkwafina did a great job,” Perry said. “Beyonce should have been nominated. But it is what it is.” He added that he didn’t “know what all of the hoopla is about. “It doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m doing as much as it is — I’m just gonna do what I do and just see what happens,” Perry said.
Bill banning sex ed going nowhere
PHOENIX — A conservative Arizona Republican senator who was pushing a contentious proposal that would bar any sexual education instruction for students before the 7th grade and create new requirements for the subject conceded Tuesday that her proposal stood no chance of advancing. Sen. Sylvia Allen told a large group of parents and other opponents of current state sex ed rules gathered at the Capitol that she wasn’t giving up. She said liberal opponents had succeeded in sidelining her measure even among fellow Republicans by falsely claiming it would ban any mention of homosexuality. “Because it’s tainted, it has a label on it now and people are backing away,” Allen said. “Oh, we can’t support something if the perception is it is anti-gay.” The proposal initially set off a firestorm of criticism because it barred even the mention of homosexuality, although Allen pulled that provision last week, saying it was being misinterpreted. The state Legislature repealed a 1991 law last year that had barred HIV and AIDS instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle,” and LGBTQ groups were on the watch for a reaction from conservatives. Allen said her proposal was intended to give parents more access and transparency about sex education classes so they could make informed decisions about the health and welfare of their children.
Water problems ‘inadmissable’
RIO DE JANEIRO — After days of reports of foul tasting or smelling tap water in the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, Gov. Wilson Witzel has called for analysis of the water’s quality as well as management at local utility Cedae. “The disorder the population has been suffering due to the problem with water provided by Cedae is inadmissible,” Witzel said on Twitter. He is reportedly vacationing out of the country with his family. Dubious or foul water has been reported in dozens of neighborhoods within multiple municipalities. In some cases, the water has been reddish or brownish colored. Residents have begun hoarding bottled water as rumors of the public water supply being unfit for consumption circulated on social media. Cedae, provides water to millions of people in Rio metro area, has said the peculiar smell and taste is due to geosmina, an organic compound that is innocuous. It said the water meets health ministry requirements and that, even so, it will begin using powdered activated carbon at the start of treatment to curb geosmina.
Dems release new documents
WASHINGTON — House Democrats have released a trove of documents they obtained from Lev Parnas, a close associate of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, including a handwritten note that mentions asking Ukraine’s president to investigate “the Biden case.” The documents show Parnas communicating with Giuliani and another attorney about the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Parnas received messages from a man named Robert F. Hyde who appeared to be describing detailed surveillance of Yovanovitch while she was in Ukraine. Democrats released the files Tuesday as they prepared to send articles of impeachment to the Senate for Trump’s trial. The documents add new context to their charges that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Democrats as he withheld military aid to the country. Parnas was in frequent communication with Giuliani and with Ukrainian officials as he worked as an intermediary, the messages show. Parnas appeared to be pushing unsubstantiated allegations that Democrat Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, were somehow engaged in corruption in Ukraine. Among the documents is a screenshot of a previously undisclosed letter from Giuliani to Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskiy dated May 10, 2019, which was before Zelenskiy took office. In the letter, Giuliani announces himself as Trump’s personal lawyer and requests a meeting with Zelenskiy “as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent.”
Student fatally shot at school
BELLAIRE, Texas — A student was shot to death Tuesday at a Texas high school, and a suspect remained at large, officials said. Grenita Latham, interim superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, confirmed the shooting victim at Bellaire High School had died. She gave no other information except that classes will go on Wednesday and took no questions. Emergency crews were seen performing CPR as the student was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance outside the school, KPRC-TV reported. There were conflicting media reports about whether the shooting happened inside or outside the school. The city, a suburb south west of Houston, confirmed on Twitter that there was a shooting and said the suspect is still at large. It advised resident to avoid the area around the school or remain in their homes. Officials gave no update on the suspect’s status later at a news conference. Television footage from the school showed students gathered outside and police cars and an ambulance with their lights blazing.
EU pressures Iran on nuke deal
BRUSSELS — Britain, France and Germany on Tuesday ratcheted up pressure on Iran to stop violating its landmark nuclear deal in a last-ditch effort to resolve their differences through talks while also starting a process that could bring back punishing U.N. sanctions on Tehran. The three European Union countries are being pressed on one side by U.S. President Donald Trump to abandon the agreement like he did unilaterally in 2018, and on the other side from Iran to provide enough economic incentives for them to roll back their violations. Now, the Europeans have reluctantly triggered the accord’s dispute mechanism to force Iran into discussions, starting the clock on a process that could result in the “snapback” of U.N. and EU sanctions on Iran. The three nations specifically avoided threatening the sanctions while emphasizing hopes for a negotiated resolution. They held off their announcement until tensions between the U.S. and Iran had calmed down after the Jan. 3 killing of an Iranian general in an American drone strike so their intent would not be misinterpreted. “Our goal is clear: We want to preserve the accord and come to a diplomatic solution within the agreement,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. “We will tackle this together with all partners in the agreement. We call on Iran to participate constructively in the negotiation process that is now beginning.”