AP News Summary at 10:45 p.m. EST (2023)

Frustrated Texans endure winter storm with no power, heat

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The mayor of the capital of Texas is acknowledging the frustration of residents shivering for more than a day without power during a winter storm. Austin Mayor Kirk Watson says the duration of the icy storm that has plagued the area since Tuesday has made it challenging to restore power. The storm is blamed for at least 10 deaths across much of the southern U.S. Things are starting to warm up, but a wave of cold is forecast to target New England with the coldest weather in decades. Wind chills could plunge to 50 degrees below zero, or even lower.

Pentagon: Chinese spy balloon spotted over Western US

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. says it is tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that has been spotted over U.S. airspace for a couple days. The Pentagon decided not to shoot it down over concerns of hurting people on the ground. A senior defense official says the U.S. has “very high confidence” it is a Chinese high-altitude balloon, and says it was flying over sensitive sites to collect information. One of the places the balloon was spotted was Montana, which is home to one of the nation’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

Trump campaign staff on 2020 election lies: ‘fan the flame’

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A newly released audio recording offers a behind-the-scenes look at how former President Donald Trump’s campaign team in a pivotal battleground state knew they had been outflanked by Democrats in the 2020 presidential election. But even as they acknowledged defeat, they pivoted to allegations of widespread fraud that were ultimately debunked — repeatedly — by elections officials and the courts. The audio from Nov. 5, 2020, two days after the election, is surfacing as Trump again seeks the White House while continuing to lie about the legitimacy of the outcome and Democrat Joe Biden’s win.

At Nichols' funeral, Black America's grief on public display

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The funeral of Tyre Nichols had all the hallmarks of what’s known as a homegoing service in Black American communities: comforting gospel hymns, remembrances from loved ones and a stirring eulogy from a clergyman. But in addition to offering an outlet for the private mourning of Nichols’ family and friends, this ritual was also public and political. Nichols was a Black man whose beating by five police officers led to his death. His service was a venue to air the shared grief of Black Americans — and to once again call for leaders to address an epidemic of police violence so that this time might be different.

House GOP votes to oust Democrat Omar from major committee

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans have voted to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The vote in a raucous session Thursday to remove the Somali-born Muslim lawmaker came after her past comments critical of Israel. It was also a response by the new Republican majority after Democrats booted far-right GOP lawmakers from committees over their incendiary, violent remarks in the last session. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy worked quickly to solidify wavering Republican support after some GOP lawmakers had expressed reservations about taking such a dramatic step. The Minnesota Democrat has apologized for comments that she has said she came to understand were antisemitic.

Ally claims Bolsonaro plotted coup to block Lula presidency

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian magazine has released audio of a senator claiming then President Jair Bolsonaro sought help in a plot to annul the October elections and keep himself in power. In the recording, Sen. Marcos do Val tells the magazine Veja that the idea was discussed at a meeting Dec. 9, three weeks before leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was set to take office. Veja released the audio after the senator issued denials following the magazine’s report Thursday morning about the purported plot, which had not cited him as its source. The alleged meeting adds to the growing woes for Bolsonaro, who is already under investigation following the Jan. 8 riot in the capital by his supporters. He is in Florida and did not comment on any of his social media channels.

Psychedelic churches in US pushing boundaries of religion

HILDALE, Utah (AP) — Growing numbers of people are flocking to U.S. churches that center their practice around a bitter psychedelic tea known as ayahuasca. Organizers and their legal advisers argue a 2006 Supreme Court ruling protects them from prosecution and participants say they are taking part in a religious service. Some experts raise concerns that the benefits of ayahuasca haven’t been well studied. Many who attend the ceremonies, which can last for days, argue their experience on the illegal substance brings them closer to God than they ever felt at traditional religious services. Surveys have also found many come away feeling better afterwards, with some saying it helped with depression and problems with risky substance use.

Eye drops recalled after US drug-resistant bacteria outbreak

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials say a company is recalling its over-the-counter eye drops that have been linked to an outbreak of drug-resistant infections. The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday the maker of EzriCare Artificial Tears was voluntarily recalling its product after health officials sent a warning to doctors. The outbreak includes at least 55 people in 12 states. One died and at least five others had permanent vision loss. The outbreak is considered worrisome because the bacteria driving it are resistant to standard antibiotics.

Biden's handwritten notes part of classified docs probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is a man who writes down his thoughts. And some of those handwritten musings over his decades of public service are now a part of a special counsel’s investigation into the handling of classified documents. It isn’t clear yet what the investigators are looking for by taking the notes from his time as vice president and his years in the Senate, from his Delaware homes in Rehoboth Beach and Wilmington. A special counsel is working to determine how classified information from Biden’s time as senator and vice president came to wind up in his home and former office, and whether the notes are considered personal, and therefore belong to Biden.

As James nears record, Tuesday's Lakers game moved to TNT

NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA has further adjusted the schedule of nationally televised games with LeBron James closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the league’s scoring record. James is on pace to break the record Tuesday at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. That game will now be shown on TNT, a change that forced a reworking of that night’s entire schedule on the network. TNT was supposed to show Atlanta at New Orleans, followed by Minnesota at Denver. Instead, it’ll show Phoenix at Brooklyn first, followed by the Thunder-Lakers game.

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