Trump openly embraces, amplifies QAnon conspiracy theories
After winking at QAnon for years, Donald Trump is overtly embracing the baseless conspiracy theory, even as the number of frightening real-world events linked to it grows.
On Tuesday, using his Truth Social platform, the Republican former president reposted an image of himself wearing a Q lapel pin overlaid with the words “The Storm is Coming." In QAnon lore, the “storm” refers to Trump's final victory, when supposedly he will regain power and his opponents will be tried, and potentially executed, on live television.
As Trump contemplates another run for the presidency and has become increasingly assertive in the Republican primary process during the midterm elections, his actions show that far from distancing himself from the political fringe, he is welcoming it.
He's published dozens of recent Q-related posts, in contrast to 2020, when he claimed that while he didn't know much about QAnon, he couldn't disprove its conspiracy theory.
Pressed on QAnon theories that Trump allegedly is saving the nation from a satanic cult of child sex traffickers, he claimed ignorance but asked, “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?”
Ukrainian president: Burial site contains torture victims
IZIUM, Ukraine (AP) — Investigators searching through a mass burial site in Ukraine have found evidence that some of the dead were tortured, including bodies with broken limbs and ropes around their necks, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy said Friday.
The site near the northeastern city of Izium, recently recaptured from Russian forces, appears to be one of the largest discovered in Ukraine.
Zelenskyy spoke in a video he rushed out just hours after the exhumations began, apparently to underscore the gravity of the discovery. He said more than 440 graves have been found at the site but that the number of victims was not yet known.
Digging in the rain, workers hauled body after body out of the sandy soil in a misty pine forest near Izium. Protected by head-to-toe suits and rubber gloves, they gently felt through the decomposing remains of the victims’ clothing, seemingly looking for identifying items.
Associated Press journalists who visited the site saw graves marked with simple wooden crosses. Some of the markers bore people’s names and had flowers hanging from them.
Military intel chief says Putin can't achieve Ukraine goal
WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia's setbacks and stretched resources in Ukraine show its forces are incapable of achieving President Vladimir Putin's initial aims in invading the country as things stand now, the Pentagon's intelligence chief said Friday.
“We're coming to a point right now where I think Putin is going to have to revise what his objectives are for this operation,” Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told an intelligence and national security conference outside Washington. “Because “it’s pretty clear right now that he’s ... not going to be able to do what he initially intended to do.”
Putin sent troops into neighboring Ukraine in February with what U.S. officials say was the objective of unseating Ukraine's Western-friendly government. Ukrainian forces drove Russian fighters from their positions around Ukraine's capital earlier in the war. And Russia suffered another major setback last week, when a Ukrainian counteroffensive forced its troops back from large swaths of Ukraine's northeast.
“The Russians planned for an occupation, not necessarily an invasion, and that has set them back," Berrier said, citing Putin's reluctance so far to fully mobilize Russian forces to get more manpower into the fight.
President Joe Biden and other administration officials have taken care not to call Russia's latest retreat a Ukrainian victory or turning point in the war, and analysts caution it's impossible to assess what may lie ahead.
Surprise is key part of migrant travel from Florida, Texas
EDGARTOWN, Mass. (AP) — The chief executive of Martha's Vineyard Community Services was wrapping up work when she looked outside to see 48 strangers at her office with luggage, backpacks and red folders that included brochures for her organization.
The Venezuelan migrants who were flown to the wealthy Massachusetts island from San Antonio on Wednesday by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said they were told they were going to Boston.
DeSantis took from the playbook of a fellow Republican, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, by surprising Democratic strongholds with large influxes of migrants and providing little or no information.
“They were told that they would have a job and they would have housing,” said Elizabeth Folcarelli, who leads Martha's Vineyard Community Services and described the scramble for shelter as a “huge challenge.”
Julio Henriquez, an attorney who met with several migrants, said they “had no idea of where they were going or where they were."
King stands vigil; Wait to see queen's coffin hits 24 hours
LONDON (AP) — A surging tide of people — ranging from London retirees to former England soccer captain David Beckham — have lined up to file past Queen Elizabeth II's coffin as it lies in state at Parliament, so many that authorities had to call a temporary halt Friday to more people joining the miles-long queue.
By late afternoon, a live tracker said the line to get into historic Westminster Hall had reopened, but the British government warned that it would take more than 24 hours of waiting to cover the 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the start of the line in Southwark Park to the coffin at Parliament. The government also warned that “overnight temperatures will be cold.”
The mourners kept silently streaming into Westminster Hall even as King Charles III and his three siblings stood vigil around the flag-draped coffin for 15 minutes on Friday evening. A baby's cry was the only sound.
Those who came often bowed before the coffin or made a sign of the cross. Several veterans, their medals shining in the spotlights, offered sharp salutes. Some people wept. Many hugged one another as they stepped away, proud to have spent hours in line to offer a tribute, even if it lasted only a few moments.
Beckham was spotted in the line of mourners near Britain’s Houses of Parliament at lunchtime Friday. He's believed to have joined the queue at 2 a.m. and to have lined up for more than 10 hours. Wearing a white shirt and black tie, he bowed briefly to the coffin before moving out of Westminster Hall.
Breaches of voting machine data raise worries for midterms
ATLANTA (AP) — Sensitive voting system passwords posted online. Copies of confidential voting software available for download. Ballot-counting machines inspected by people not supposed to have access.
The list of suspected security breaches at local election offices since the 2020 election keeps growing, with investigations underway in at least three states -- Colorado, Georgia and Michigan. The stakes appeared to rise this week when the existence of a federal probe came to light involving a prominent loyalist to former President Donald Trump who has been promoting voting machine conspiracy theories across the country.
While much remains unknown about the investigations, one of the most pressing questions is what it all could mean for security of voting machines with the midterm elections less than two months away.
Election security experts say the breaches by themselves have not necessarily increased threats to the November voting. Election officials already assume hostile foreign governments might have the sensitive data, and so they take precautions to protect their voting systems.
The more immediate concern is the possibility that rogue election workers, including those sympathetic to lies about the 2020 presidential election, might use their access to election equipment and the knowledge gained through the breaches to launch an attack from within. That could be intended to gain an advantage for their desired candidate or party, or to introduce system problems that would sow further distrust in the election results.
Arizona Legislature won't defend law limiting police filming
PHOENIX (AP) — The Republican leaders of the Arizona Legislature will not try to defend a new law limiting up-close filming of police that has been blocked by a federal judge, a decision that essentially ends the fight over the contentious proposal.
Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers both said they would not intervene in the case by the Friday deadline set by the federal judge when he temporarily blocked the new law from taking effect last week on First Amendment grounds.
And the bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, said Friday that he has been unable to find an outside group to defend the law, which was challenged by news media organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The groups will now ask that the law, which was set to take effect next week, be permanently blocked.
Kavanagh said he will review U.S. District Judge John J. Tuchi's ruling and see if he can craft a law that passes constitutional muster. He said the law is needed to keep people from distracting police while they are trying to make an arrest, but Tuchi agreed with the challengers that it runs afoul of precedents that say the public and press have a right to film police doing their jobs.
'The Phantom of the Opera' to close on Broadway next year
NEW YORK (AP) — “The Phantom of the Opera” — Broadway’s longest-running show — is scheduled to close in February 2023, the biggest victim victim yet of the post-pandemic softening in theater attendance in New York.
The musical — a fixture on Broadway since 1988, weathering recessions, war and cultural shifts — will play its final performance on Broadway on Feb. 18, a spokesperson told The Associated Press on Friday. The closing will come less than a month after its 35th anniversary.
It is a costly musical to sustain, with elaborate sets and costumes as well as a large cast and orchestra. Box office grosses have fluctuated since the show reopened after the pandemic — going as high as over $1 million a week but also dropping to around $850,000. Last week, it hit $867,997 and producers may have seen the writing on the wall.
Based on a novel by Gaston Leroux, “Phantom” tells the story of a deformed composer who haunts the Paris Opera House and falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lavish songs include “Masquerade,” ″Angel of Music,” ″All I Ask of You” and “The Music of the Night.”
The first production opened in London in 1986 and since then the show has been seen by more than 145 million people in 183 cities and performed in 17 languages over 70,000 performances. On Broadway alone, the musical has played more than 13,500 performances to 19 million people at The Majestic Theatre.
Racism seen as root of water crisis in Mississippi capital
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Carey Wooten spent nearly seven weeks hunting for safe drinking water for herself, her two children and three dogs after clocking out each day as a Taco Bell manager, so Gov. Tate Reeves' announcement that the water is clean again in Mississippi's capital came as welcome news.
But the crisis in the city of Jackson isn't over, even if its boil-water advisory was lifted on Thursday. While the state plans to stop handing out free bottled water at sites around the city Saturday night, the city said water pressure still hasn’t been fully restored, and state health officials said lead in some pipes remains so worrisome that pregnant women and young children should still use bottled water.
“The water that’s coming out of my kitchen sink smells like fresh sewage ... as soon as you turn it on, it hits you right in the face. It’s horrible,” Wooten said earlier this month. “I’ve tried to give one of my dogs the water, but when she smells it she won’t even touch it. She walks away from it.”
Wooten said Friday that the liquid flowing into her kitchen sink still smells like sewage, but not as bad as before, and she's glad she won't have to run to distribution sites before their bottled water supplies run out each day.
Other residents told The Associated Press on Friday that their water remains too discolored to count on, so now they'll have to rely on water distribution by community-run charities or buy water again themselves, adding insult to injury.
Serious breach at Uber spotlights hacker social deception
The ride-hailing service Uber said Friday that all its services were operational following what security professionals are calling a major data breach, claiming there was no evidence the hacker got access to sensitive user data.
But the breach, apparently by a lone hacker, put the spotlight on an increasingly effective break-in routine involving social engineering: The hacker apparently gained access posing as a colleague, tricking an Uber employee into surrendering their credentials.
They were then able to locate passwords on the network that got them the level of privileged access reserved for system administrators.
The potential damage was serious: Screenshots the hacker shared with security researchers indicate they obtained full access to the cloud-based systems where Uber stores sensitive customer and financial data.
It is not known how much data the hacker stole or how long they were inside Uber's network. Two researchers who communicated directly with the person — who self-identified as an 18-year-old to one of them — said they appeared interested in publicity. There was no indication they destroyed data.
The Associated Press