EMPIRE CAST MEMBER-ATTACK-CHARGES-THE LATEST The Latest: Smollett attorney: Indictment is ‘vindictive’ CHICAGO (AP) — An attorney for Jussie Smollett says a 16-count indictment against the “Empire” actor is “vindictive” and Smollett “maintains his innocence.” Mark…
EMPIRE CAST MEMBER-ATTACK-CHARGES-THE LATEST
The Latest: Smollett attorney: Indictment is ‘vindictive’
CHICAGO (AP) — An attorney for Jussie Smollett says a 16-count indictment against the “Empire” actor is “vindictive” and Smollett “maintains his innocence.”
Mark Geragos says in a statement that he did not expect a Cook County grand jury would charge Smollet with 16 separate counts and the indictment is “prosecutorial overkill.”
He says the indictment “is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy.”
Smollett is charged with disorderly conduct for making a false report of an attack on him in Chicago. Police say Smollett staged the attack and recruited two brothers to participate. Local media have reported that the Chicago Police Department is investigating leaks to reporters during the investigation of the reported attack.
The Latest: President Trump signs Bibles at Alabama church
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — President Donald Trump is signing Bibles at an Alabama church and taking photos with survivors of a deadly tornado outbreak that killed nearly two dozen people.
Trump is surveying the wreckage and visiting with victims Friday.
Volunteer Emily Pike says the president and first lady signed a small Bible owned by her 10-year-old daughter, Meredith Pike.
Pike says: “She just reached out there and said, ‘Mr. President, would you sign this?'”
Trump used a felt pen to scratch out his signature on the cover of the girl’s Bible, which is decorated with pink camouflage, and first lady Melania Trump then added her signature.
Pike says the Trumps also signed a Bible for one of Meredith’s friends.
BC-INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Thousands strike in Spain, mark International Women’s Day
MADRID (AP) — Thousands of women have gone on strike across Spain, joining millions more across the globe demanding a gender-balanced world amid persistent salary gap, violence and widespread inequality.
Many female employees didn’t show up to work Friday in offices and factories across Spain, while others halted domestic work or left caretaking of children, ill or elderly people to men to mark International Women’s Day.
The two main labor unions had called for 2-hour work stoppages, but the March 8 Commission, which groups women’s rights advocates, say the strike should last 24 hours.
Under the “1,000 reasons” slogan, rallies are scheduled for later Friday in dozens of Spanish cities including Madrid, where a massive protest was held last March.
ELECTION 2020-JOE BIDEN
Biden eyes fundraising challenge amid new sense of urgency
NEW YORK (AP) — On the cusp of a decision, former Vice President Joe Biden is weighing at least one daunting challenge that could complicate his path to the Democratic presidential nomination: money.
Those close to Biden believe he would start off at a distinct fundraising disadvantage compared to would-be rivals, whose campaigns have benefited from an early flood of small-dollar donations from the most liberal wing of the party.
Biden, a 76-year-old lifetime politician with strong connections to the party’s establishment, would be forced to rely on an “old-school grind-it-out” plan to generate campaign cash from wealthy individual donors.
And he’d need to do it quickly should he enter what is expected to be the most expensive campaign in U.S. history.
How Facebook stands to profit from its ‘privacy’ push
Mark Zuckerberg’s new “privacy-focused vision” for Facebook seems at first glance like a transformative mission statement. But critics say the Facebook CEO’s announcement this week is less about privacy than expansion.
Zuckerberg talks about a new commitment to private, encrypted communications. The industry was already headed that way.
Critics say Zuckerberg is charting a course for expanding lucrative new commercial services, developing new data sources for tracking people and frustrating regulators who might be eyeing a breakup of the social-media behemoth.
Under Zuckerberg’s plan, Facebook would combine its instant-messaging services WhatsApp and Instagram Direct with its core Messenger app. That way, users of one could message people on the others.
This would also expand the use of encrypted messaging that keeps outsiders — including Facebook — from reading message contents.
Chelsea Manning jailed for refusing to testify on Wikileaks
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has been jailed for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating Wikileaks.
U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton ordered Manning to jail Friday after a brief hearing in which Manning confirmed she has no intention of testifying. She told the judge she “will accept whatever you bring upon me.”
Manning has said she objects to the secrecy of the grand jury process, and that she already revealed everything she knows at her court martial.
The judge said she will remain jailed until she testifies or until the grand jury concludes its work.
Manning’s lawyers had asked that she be sent to home confinement instead of the jail, because of medical complications she faces.
The judge said U.S. Marshals can handle her medical care.
Trump budget will seek funds for border wall, Space Force
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will be making a significant request for border wall funds and seeking money to start up Space Force as a new branch of the military in the White House budget being released next week.
That’s according to an administration official who was unauthorized to discuss the document ahead of its release and spoke on condition of anonymity.
For the first time, Trump plans to stick with the strict spending caps imposed years ago, even though lawmakers have largely avoided them with new budget deals. That will likely trigger a showdown with Congress.
The official says the president’s plan promises to balance the budget in 15 years.
Trump will seek $750 billion for defense, while cutting non-defense discretionary spending by 5 percent, the official says.
MARYLAND-SERIAL PODCAST APPEAL
Court denies new trial in ‘Serial’ podcast murder case
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland’s highest court has denied a new trial for a man whose murder conviction was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial.”
In an opinion Friday, the Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that Adnan Syed’s legal counsel was deficient in failing to investigate an alibi witness, but it disagreed that the deficiency prejudiced the case. The court says Syed waived his ineffective counsel claim.
The court reversed the Court of Special Appeals’ judgment, sending it back to that court with directions to reverse the Baltimore Circuit Court judgment granting a new trial.
Syed is serving a life sentence after he was convicted in 2000 of strangling his ex-girlfriend and burying her body in a Baltimore park.
Syed’s case was at the center of the “Serial” podcast’s first season.
OBIT-JAN MICHAEL VINCENT
Actor Jan Michael Vincent, known for ‘Airwolf,’ has died
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Actor Jan Michael Vincent, known for starring in the television series “Airwolf,” has died. He was 73.
A death certificate shows that Vincent died of cardiac arrest on Feb. 10, 2019, in an Asheville, North Carolina, hospital.
The certificate signed by a doctor says he died of natural causes and no autopsy was performed.
“Airwolf” was a 1980s television series featuring crime-fighters in an advanced helicopter. Vincent played pilot Stringfellow Hawke.
He was also known for movie roles in the 1970s including “The Mechanic.”
NCAA ATHLETES COMPENSATION
Judge rules against NCAA in federal antitrust lawsuit
A judge has ruled against the NCAA in a federal antitrust lawsuit, saying football and basketball players should be permitted to receive more compensation from schools but only if the benefits are tied to education.
The ruling Friday night from U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, said the NCAA cannot “limit compensation or benefits related to education.”
The plaintiffs in the so-called Alston cases were seeking much more. Plaintiffs had asked the judge to lift all NCAA caps on compensation and to allow schools to provide benefits beyond a scholarship to college athletes. The goal was to create a free market, where conferences set rules from compensating athletes.
The claim was against the NCAA and the 11 conferences that have competed in the highest level of college football.