Phil Spector, famed music producer, murderer, dies at 81
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Phil Spector, the eccentric and revolutionary music producer who transformed rock music with his “Wall of Sound” method and who later was convicted of murder, has died. He was 81. California state prison officials said he died Saturday of natural causes at a hospital. Spector was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in 2003 at his castle-like mansion on the edge of Los Angeles. After a trial in 2009, he was sentenced to 19 years to life. While most sources give Spector’s birth date as 1940, it was listed as 1939 in court documents following his arrest. His lawyer subsequently confirmed that date to The Associated Press. Clarkson, star of “Barbarian Queen” and other B-movies, was found shot to death in the foyer of Spector’s mansion in the hills overlooking Alhambra, a modest suburban town on the edge of Los Angeles. Until the actress’ death, which Spector maintained was an “accidental suicide,” few residents even knew the mansion belonged to the reclusive producer, who spent his remaining years in a prison hospital east of Stockton. Decades before, Spector had been hailed as a visionary for channeling Wagnerian ambition into the three-minute song, creating the “Wall of Sound” that merged spirited vocal harmonies with lavish orchestral arrangements to produce such pop monuments as “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Be My Baby” and “He’s a Rebel.”
Records: Trump allies behind rally that ignited Capitol riot
WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of President Donald Trump’s failed presidential campaign played key roles in orchestrating the Washington rally that spawned a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, according to an Associated Press review of records, undercutting claims the event was the brainchild of the president’s grassroots supporters. A pro-Trump nonprofit group called Women for America First hosted the “Save America Rally” on Jan. 6 at the Ellipse, an oval-shaped, federally owned patch of land near the White House. But an attachment to the National Park Service public gathering permit granted to the group lists more than half a dozen people in staff positions for the event who just weeks earlier had been paid thousands of dollars by Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. Other staff scheduled to be “on site” during the demonstration have close ties to the White House. Since the siege, several of them have scrambled to distance themselves from the rally. The riot at the Capitol, incited by Trump’s comments before and during his speech at the Ellipse, has led to a reckoning unprecedented in American history. The president told the crowd to march to the Capitol and that “you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” A week after the rally, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives, becoming the first U.S. president ever to be impeached twice. But the political and legal fallout may stretch well beyond Trump, who will exit the White House on Wednesday before Democrat Joe Biden takes the oath of office. Trump had refused for nearly two months to accept his loss in the 2020 election to the former vice president.
Deceptions in the time of the ‘alternative facts’ president
WASHINGTON (AP) — Truth caught up with Donald Trump after years of giving chase. The twice-impeached president painted a fantasy world in office, starring himself. In this world, he did things bigger, better, more boldly than all who came before him while facing enemies more pernicious than any in creation. In service of his ego, his nature and his reelection prospects, he said things that were not only wrong, but the precise opposite of right. He said them over and over, in leaps and bounds, and no less so when the deceptions were exposed. We’re rounding the corner on the virus, he said repeatedly, when the obvious reality was that the most lethal stage of the pandemic was just picking up. On the cusp of this danger, he spread the suspicion that masks make you more vulnerable to COVID-19, not less. Then came his election defeat and a menacing twist in his life history of assaulting the facts.
Democrats build impeachment case, alleging ‘dangerous crime’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The lead prosecutor for President Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment began building his case for conviction at trial, asserting on Sunday that Trump’s incitement of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol was “the most dangerous crime” ever committed by a president against the United States. A Senate trial could begin as soon as this week, just as Democrat Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., did not say when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will send the single article of impeachment against Trump — for “incitement of insurrection” — to the Senate, which will trigger the beginning of the trial. But Raskin said “it should be coming up soon” as Pelosi organizes the formal transfer. The House voted to impeach Trump last Wednesday, one week after the violent insurrection that interrupted the official count of electoral votes, ransacked the Capitol and left Congress deeply shaken. Before the mob overpowered police and entered the building, Trump told them to “fight like hell” against the certification of Biden’s election win. “We’re going to be able to tell the story of this attack on America and all of the events that led up to it,” Raskin said. “This president set out to dismantle and overturn the election results from the 2020 presidential election. He was perfectly clear about that.” Democrats and the incoming administration are facing the challenge of reckoning with the Capitol attack at the same time that Biden takes office and tries to move the country forward. They say the Congress can do both, balancing a trial with confirmations of the new president’s Cabinet and consideration of his legislative priorities.
Biden’s long political evolution leads to his biggest test
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has navigated a half-century in American politics by relentlessly positioning himself at the core of the Democratic Party. Wherever that power center shifted, there Biden has been, whether as the young senator who opposed court-ordered busing in school integration cases or the soon-to-be 46th president pitching an agenda on par with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. The common thread through that evolution is Biden always pitching himself as an institutionalist — a mainstream liberal but also a pragmatist who still insists that governing well depends on compromise and consensus. Now Biden’s central political identity faces the ultimate trial. On Wednesday, the 78-year-old president-elect will inherit stewardship of a nation wrenched by pandemic, seismic cultural fissures and an opposition party’s base that considers him illegitimate, even to the point of President Donald Trump’s supporters violently attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress convened to certify Biden’s victory.
Kremlin critic Navalny detained after landing in Moscow
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested Sunday at a Moscow airport as he tried to enter the country from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Navalny’s detention at passport control in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport was widely expected because Russia’s prisons service said he had violated parole terms from a suspended sentence on a 2014 embezzlement conviction. The prisons service said he would be held in custody until a court rules on his case. No date for a court appearance was immediately announced. The service earlier said that it would seek to have Navalny serve his 3 1/2-year sentence behind bars. Navalny, 44, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent and determined foe, brushed off concerns about arrest as he boarded the plane in Berlin. “It’s impossible. I’m an innocent man,” he said.
National Guard sleeping in the Capitol an echo of Civil War
To most Americans, the sight of armed National Guard troops sleeping in the Capitol Rotunda this past week was shocking and disturbing. To me, it was an echo of the far-distant past. “Don’t despond,” Maj. Bowman Bigelow Breed wrote to his anxious wife back home in Massachusetts as his comrades lounged around him on the polished marble floors in the grand hall that was now their bivouac. “You must know by this time that we are here in safety. We may have to fight but my own opinion is that the overwhelming force concentrated here will prevent an attack.” Insurrection was in the air, and these citizen soldiers had been called up to secure the seat of government. The date was April 27, 1861. The writer was surgeon of the 8th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia.
‘Little old West Virginia’ sets pace on vaccine rollout
KENOVA, W.Va. (AP) — Griffith & Feil Drug has been in business since 1892, a family-owned, small-town pharmacy. This isn’t their first pandemic. More than a century after helping West Virginians confront the Spanish flu in 1918, the drugstore in Kenova, a community of about 3,000 people, is helping the state lead the nation in COVID-19 vaccine distribution. West Virginia has emerged as an unlikely success in the nation’s otherwise chaotic vaccine rollout, largely because of the state’s decision to reject a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens and instead enlist mom-and-pop pharmacies to vaccinate residents against the virus that has killed over 395,000 Americans. More shots have gone into people’s arms per capita across West Virginia than in any other state, with at least 7.5% of the population receiving the first of two shots, according to federal data. West Virginia was the first in the nation to finish offering first doses to all long-term care centers before the end of December, and the state expects to give second doses at those facilities by the end of January.
Cargo ship sinks in the Black Sea; 3 dead, 6 rescued
ISTANBUL (AP) — A cargo ship sank off Turkey’s Black Sea coast on Sunday, leaving at least three people dead, Turkish authorities said. Six others were rescued. The transport ministry said the Palau-flagged ship named Arvin had anchored off the port of Bartin in northern Turkey due to bad weather, before breaking into two pieces and sinking. Emergency workers saved at least six crew members and reached the bodies of two others, the ministry’s naval branch said on Twitter. Bartin’s Gov. Sinan Guner said a third person had died, according to the official Anadolu news agency. The navy sent a frigate to assist rescue efforts. The transport ministry said the ship had 12 crew members, including two Russians and 10 Ukrainians.
The cargo ship was en route to Bulgaria from Georgia but the Black Sea region has been buffeted by heavy rains, snow and strong winds.
Vice President-elect Harris to resign her Senate seat Monday
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign her Senate seat on Monday, two days before she and President-elect Joe Biden are inaugurated. Aides to the California Democrat confirmed the timing and said Gov. Gavin Newsom was aware of her decision, clearing the way for him to appoint fellow Democrat Alex Padilla, now California’s secretary of state, to serve the final two years of Harris’ term. adilla will be the first Latino senator from California, where about 40% of residents are Hispanic. Newsom announced his choice in December, following intense lobbying for the rare Senate vacancy from the nation’s most populous state. arris will give no farewell Senate floor speech. The Senate is not scheduled to reconvene until Tuesday, the eve of Inauguration Day, two weeks after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol as lawmakers were meeting to affirm Biden’s election victory. That siege, Harris said in an interview broadcast Sunday, “was seismic. It was an inflection moment. You know, sometimes we think an inflection moment is the bringing of something that is positive. No. It was in many ways a reckoning. It was an exposure of the vulnerability of our democracy.” Padilla’s arrival, along with Harris becoming the Senate’s presiding officer when she’s sworn-in as vice president, is part of Democrats’ upcoming Senate majority. But the party still needs Sens.-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia to be certified as victors in their Jan. 5 elections and then be sworn in.
Netanyahu rival hires anti-Trump Lincoln Project founders
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s top rival to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is getting some American help ahead of March 23 elections. ideon Saar, a onetime Netanyahu protege, has hired four of the founders of the Lincoln Project, which ran a relentless campaign to help defeat President Donald Trump. The hiring was first reported by Israel’s Channel 12 TV and confirmed by a member of Saar’s campaign. The campaign official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing internal strategy. Lincoln Project founders Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, Stuart Stevens and Reed Galen were among the leaders of the effort to draw Republicans from Trump’s reelection effort centered on the president’s ethics and moral leadership. The Lincoln Project’s stated mission is to hold public leaders “accountable.” That’s similar to Saar’s message as the head of the New Hope Party, the faction he founded when he broke away from Likud. He accuses Netanyahu of turning the Likud into a tool for personal survival at a time when he is on trial on corruption charges.