Male-only military draft is unconstitutional, judge rules
A federal judge in Texas has declared that the all-male military draft is unconstitutional, ruling that “the time has passed” for a debate on whether women belong in the military. The decision deals the biggest legal blow to the Selective Service System since the Supreme Court upheld the draft in 1981. In Rostker v. Goldberg, the court ruled that the male-only draft was “fully justified” because women were ineligible for combat roles. But U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ruled late Friday that while historical restrictions on women serving in combat “may have justified past discrimination,” men and women are now equally able to fight. In 2015, the Pentagon lifted all restrictions for women in military service.
R. Kelly still behind bars after sexual abuse charges
R&B star R. Kelly, 52, was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse Friday and turned himself into police custody that night. Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx said the indictment lists four victims and multiple alleged acts of sexual assault dating to 1998. Three of the victims were between the ages of 13 and 17, court documents show. Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. set Kelly’s bond at $1 million, calling the allegations against him “disturbing” as Kelly stared at the floor looking dejected. The singer remained behind bars Sunday, unable to yet post the 10 percent of his $1 million bond required for release.
Oscars 2019: ‘Green Book’ wins best picture, overcomes backlash with three awards
An unpredictable road to the 91st Annual Academy Awards ended with Hollywood’s biggest night on Sunday. “Green Book” took the night’s biggest prize for best picture, along with best original screenplay and best supporting actor, for Mahershala Ali. The Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” grabbed four Oscars – the most of any film – including best actor for Rami Malek’s portrayal of lead singer Freddie Mercury. The biggest upset came in the best actress category, when Olivia Colman won for “The Favourite” over seven-time nominee Glenn Close (“The Wife”). Couldn’t watch the show? Here’s a list of the moments everyone will be talking about, like Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s steamy “Shallow” performance.
From first-time wins to steamy live performances, the 2019 Oscars had plenty of must-see moments.Courtesy A.M.P.A.S.© 2019
If Mueller’s Russia report isn’t public, Democrats plan to sue
As speculation continues to mount over when special counsel Robert Mueller will finish his investigation, the Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee said his party plans to fight for a full disclosure of the report. Rep. Adam Schiff told ABC News Sunday that “we will take it to court if necessary.” President Donald Trump’s legal team is bracing for the imminent delivery of Mueller’s report on the nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lead attorney Rudy Giuliani said Thursday, claiming it’s been “weeks” since Mueller’s team has contacted the president’s attorneys.
President Trump says it’s up to his new attorney general to decide when and whether the Mueller report into Russian election meddling is released. He also has some harsh words for former FBI Dep. Director Andrew McCabe, calling him “a disaster.” (Feb. 20) AP
Trump to delay tariff hikes against China
President Donald Trump announced Sunday on Twitter that he would be delaying an increase in tariffs against China and plans to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to settle on a final trade agreement. Trump said ongoing trade negotiations with China have been “very productive” and that he would delay the tariffs. Those were set to go into effect March 1, ahead of a meeting with President Xi at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida. Trump said last week that he expected to meet soon with Xi to work out “the final points” of an agreement. Currency manipulation is one of a number of issues that have been on the table as part of the ongoing trade negotiations between the two countries.
Fire bombs on Venezuela border as opposition tries to deliver aid
Tear gas, rubber bullets and fire bombs from Venezuela’s National Guard rained down on activists on the Colombia-Venezuela border Saturday as the opposition tried to deliver humanitarian aid. The guard set fire to trucks in Cucuta carrying materials destined for the country’s starving people, and along the Brazil border two protesters were killed. Amid the aid push, President Nicolas Maduro broke diplomatic relations with Colombia, whose government he accuses of aiding a U.S.-led effort to oust him from power. Opposition leader Juan Guaido said he would meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence Monday in Colombia at an emergency meeting of mostly conservative Latin American governments to discuss Venezuela’s crisis.
Venezuela’s National Guard has fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge between Venezuela and Colombia to let humanitarian aid pass through. (Feb. 23) AP
Pope on clergy abuse: ‘Spare no effort’ to bring justice
Pope Francis vowed to “spare no effort” in confronting the Catholic Church’s clergy sex abuse scandal head-on, calling Sunday for priests to be guided by the “holy fear of God” while victims are believed and supported. His comments were to a group of about 190 Catholic bishops and religious superiors summoned to Rome. Last week, Francis defrocked former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 88, after Vatican officials found him guilty of sex crimes against minors and adults. McCarrick is the most senior Catholic official to be defrocked for such crimes, and church experts say that’s a reflection of how slowly the church has moved in response to the scandal.
Cardinals attending Pope Francis’ summit on preventing clergy sex abuse have called for a new culture of accountability in the Catholic Church to punish bishops and religious superiors who fail to protect their flocks from predator priests. (Feb. 22) AP
Amazon Prime cargo plane crashes
Authorities said they had recovered a body as they hunted for clues Sunday into an Amazon Prime Air cargo plane crash outside Houston. The Boeing 767 operated by Atlas Air was a scheduled cargo flight for Amazon from Miami to Houston when it disappeared from radar Saturday and apparently nosedived into a swampy area about 30 miles from George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Three people were aboard the plane, and police said it was unlikely anyone survived. Federal investigators are helping local authorities search the wreckage for the plane’s boxes, which could help explain the crash.
Sex spas are big business, authorities say after Robert Kraft charges
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution, police in Florida said Friday. Police said Kraft paid for sexual services at a Jupiter, Florida, spa under investigation for ties to an international human trafficking ring. While the charges have brought national attention to the issue of sex trafficking, data, expert opinion and cases from around the USA show how widespread the problem is. Illicit massage or spa businesses, similar to the ones in the Florida case, were the top location or industry where sex trafficking occurred in 2017, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. “The spas will make $20,000, $30,000 a year total, and yet they’re pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars that we know of,” sheriff’s Lt. Mike Dougherty of Florida’s Martin County said Friday.