R. Kelly could be in his 80s before the singer is free again, based on a 30-year prison term imposed this week by a New York federal judge for sexually abusing young fans. And if the 55-year-old loses at three related trials in coming months, he could be staring at yet more time. The next trial he faces is set for Aug. 15 in federal court in Chicago, Kelly's hometown. Steve Greenberg is a longtime Kelly lawyer and represents Kelly in a separate state case in Illinois. Greenberg says he suspects there have been discussions about a plea deal between Kelly’s federal trial-team lawyers and federal prosecutors in Chicago.
Tennesseans are running out of time to register to vote in the Aug. 4 primary election. By Tuesday's deadline, U.S. citizens with a driver’s license or a photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security can register at GoVoteTN.com. Or they can download an application and submit or postmark it to the county election commission office by Tuesday. Early voting runs July 15-30, Monday through Saturday. Tennessee’s deadline to request an absentee ballot is July 28. Officials are urging voters to act right away if they want to vote absentee.
Hong Kong has marked the 25th anniversary of its handover from British to Chinese rule. Former security chief John Lee was installed as its new leader Friday in a ceremony attended by Chinese President and head of the ruling Communist Party Xi Jinping. China had promised the territory could retain its civil, economic and political liberties for 50 years under the “one country, two systems” framework. However, in recent years Beijing has severely limited rights to free speech and assembly and virtually eliminated political opposition under the rubric of maintaining national security. Friday's ceremony featured officials bowing to Xi and was conducted entirely in China's national language of Mandarin, rather than the Cantonese dialect that is spoken by most Hong Kongers.
It hasn't been an easy week for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He took his first foreign trip since the invasion of Ukraine to shore up relations with troublesome Central Asian allies. He watched as NATO declared Moscow its main enemy and invited Russia’s neighbors Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. And he was forced to deny that his troops had yet again attacked a civilian target in Ukraine. Countering a show of Western unity over Ukraine at a series of summits in Europe this week, Putin sought to cast the moves by the U.S. and its allies as a proof of their hostile intent, and he vowed to press the offensive against Ukraine.
North Korea is suggesting its COVID-19 outbreak began in people who had contact with balloons flown from South Korea. The highly questionable claim appeared to be an attempt to hold its rival responsible amid increasing tensions. Activists for years have flown balloons across the border to distribute propaganda leaflets, and North Korea has expressed fury at the activists and at South Korea's leadership for not stopping them. A state media report Friday said officials were ordered to deal vigilantly with “alien things” and balloons blown across the border. Global health authorities say the coronavirus is spread by people in close contact who inhale airborne droplets and it's more likely to occur in enclosed spaces than outdoors.
New York lawmakers began a special legislative session seeking to limit the proliferation of firearms in public after the Supreme Court gutted the state’s century-old handgun licensing law. The court ruled that ordinary citizens have a right to arm themselves in public for self-defense. New rules being rushed through an emergency session of the Legislature would allow many more gun owners to apply for a license to carry a concealed weapon. But they would also seek to set new restrictions on where firearms can be carried. Lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s staff had hoped to have a vote Thursday, but work continued early Friday.
Several police officers have been shot and wounded while trying to serve a warrant in eastern Kentucky. Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt told WYMT-TV that a suspect was taken into custody and at least one person was killed. In a Facebook post, the sheriff’s department described the shooting as “deadly,” without providing further details. Earlier, Hunt told local media that the suspect opened fire on deputies who were serving a court-issued warrant on Thursday evening related to a domestic violence situation. In a brief statement on Twitter, Gov. Andy Beshear described the episode as “a barricade situation involving a shooting.”
Thailand says neighboring Myanmar has apologized after one of its fighter jets crossed into its airspace on a bombing run along the border, forcing Thai authorities to evacuate hundreds of schoolchildren and scramble interceptors to the area. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thailand does not want to escalate the incident, which took place on Thursday over Phop Phra district in Thailand’s Tak province. Authorities evacuated villages and schools in the area and more than 200 elementary and middle school students had to shelter in fortified buildings. Fighting between Myanmar government forces and ethnic guerrillas, many of whom live in border areas, has continued for decades but has intensified since the military seized power in February last year.
Improving weather has helped firefighters stop the spread of a Sierra Nevada wildfire that forced evacuation of several hundred people from their homes and injured 13 firefighters and a civilian. Authorities say the size of the Rices Fire remains at 904 acres Thursday while containment has increased to 20%. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says firefighters were helped by cooler weather and an increase in humidity. The injured suffered heat-related problems, such as dehydration. The wildfire began with a building fire Tuesday in Nevada County near the Yuba River. Although some evacuation orders were lifted Thursday, Cal Fire says about 250 homes and other buildings remain under threat.
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming has used a debate to press her Donald Trump-backed primary opponent on whether she agreed with the former president’s baseless assertion that widespread fraud cost him reelection. The opponent, Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman, said there were “serious concerns” about the 2020 election. But Hageman stopped short of repeating Trump’s false claim that drove thousands of his supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Cheney has faced a fierce backlash among Republicans for her role as vice chair of the House committee investigating the insurrection. Even so, during Thursday's debate Cheney remained unapologetic, saying she won't violate her oath of office.
A Navy investigation is revealing how shoddy management and human error caused fuel to leak into Pearl Harbor’s tap water last year. The leak poisoned thousands of people and forced military families to evacuate their homes for hotels. The investigation is the first detailed account of how jet fuel from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, a massive World War II-era military-run tank farm in the hills above Pearl Harbor, leaked into a well that supplied water to housing and offices in and around the sprawling base. The report listed a cascading series of mistakes from May through November 2021 when fuel got into a drinking water well.
New York has denied required air permit renewals to a bitcoin-mining power plant on the grounds that it was a threat to the state’s climate goals. The permitting decision was another example of New York putting the brakes on a cryptocurrency bonanza that has alarmed environmentalists. The state’s permitting decision involved Greenidge Generation, a power plant that had once been shut down, but was converted from to natural gas several years ago and began bitcoin mining in earnest in 2020. A majority of the electricity produced by the plant is now used to run more than 15,000 computer servers.
Today in History
The main union for Atlantic City casino workers has reached agreements on new contracts with four casinos, avoiding a threatened strike. Thursday's deal provides what the union president calls “the best contract we've ever had.” It also provides labor peace that will avoid a strike on Fourth of July weekend, one of the casinos’ busiest weekends of the year. Local 54 of the Unite Here union reached tentative agreements with the Borgata, which is owned by MGM Resorts International, and three Caesars Entertainment casinos: Caesars, Harrah’s and the Tropicana. The new pacts appear to greatly increase the likelihood of a deal getting done with Hard Rock as well.
Asian benchmarks are mostly lower, echoing a decline on Wall Street, after a quarterly report by Japan’s central bank rekindled worries about the world’s third largest economy. Recent data suggest global growth is slowing as countries grapple with renewed waves of coronavirus outbreaks, soaring prices and the war in Ukraine. In the Bank of Japan “tankan” survey, the headline index for large manufacturers was 9, down from 14 the previous quarter, the second straight quarter of declines. However, a survey by a Chinese business magazine, Caixin, showed China’s factory activity expanded in June at its strongest rate in 13 months as the country eased pandemic restrictions, allowing manufacturing and other business activity to resume.
Wisconsin’s conservative-controlled Supreme Court handed Republicans their newest weapon to weaken any Democratic governors in the battleground state. The court ruled this week that political appointees don’t have to leave their posts until the Senate confirms their successor. The court’s decision came in the case of a conservative who refused to step down from an environmental policy board for more than a year after his term expired. It marks another loss for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers as he faces reelection in November. It effectively hands Republicans the ability to strategically block appointees simply by declining to hold a nomination vote. They've been working to reduce Evers' power since even before he took office.
A prosecutor says Nipsey Hussle was a hip-hop star who sought to raise up his neighborhood with him until a friend from the same streets gunned him down. Deputy District Attorney John McKinney sought to humanize Hussle for jurors in his closing arguments at the trial of Eric Holder on Thursday. Holder's attorney Aaron Jansen told jurors that Holder was acting in the heat of passion after being publicly called a snitch by Hussle, a famous person whose words carried great weight in the world the two lived in. He said jurors should instead find Holder guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
Four Atlantic City casinos reach contract agreement with union, averting a strike on Fourth of July weekend.
The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to the fight against climate change by ruling the Environmental Protection Agency can’t put limits on emis…
New York Democrats are considering enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution following the overturn of Roe v. Wade. It possibly could be part of a broader amendment that would also prohibit discrimination based on gender expression. Lawmakers held a special legislative session Thursday that Gov. Kathy Hochul called primarily to pass an emergency overhaul of the state’s gun permitting rules after they were struck down by a Supreme Court Court ruling. But the Democrats were talking privately about whether to also use the emergency session to launch the process of amending the state constitution to protect the right to abortions.