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GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S.

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. House voted Tuesday to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, with the Republican majority determined to punish the Biden administration over its handling of the U.S-Mexico border after failing last week in a politically embarrassing setback.

The evening roll call proved tight, with Speaker Mike Johnson’s threadbare GOP majority unable to handle many defectors or absences in the face of staunch Democratic opposition to impeaching Mayorkas, the first Cabinet secretary charged in nearly 150 years.

In a historic rebuke, the House impeached Mayorkas 214-213. With the return of Majority Leader Steve Scalise to bolster the GOP's numbers after being away from Washington for cancer care and a Northeastern storm impacting some others, Republicans recouped — despite dissent from their own ranks.

President Joe Biden called it a "blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honorable public servant in order to play petty political games.”

The charges against Mayorkas next go to the Senate for a trial, but neither Democratic nor even some Republican senators have shown interest in the matter and it may be indefinitely shelved to a committee. The Senate is expected to receive the articles of impeachment from the House after returning to session Feb. 26.


Democrat Tom Suozzi wins New York race to succeed George Santos in Congress

Democrat Tom Suozzi won a special election for a U.S. House seat in New York on Tuesday, coming out on top in a politically mixed suburban district in a victory that could lift his party’s hopes heading into a fiercely contested presidential election later this year.

Suozzi defeated Republican Mazi Pilip to take the seat that was left vacant when George Santos, also a Republican, was expelled from Congress. The victory marks a return to Washington for Suozzi, who represented the district for three terms before giving it up to run, unsuccessfully, for governor.

It’s unclear how long his next stint on Capitol Hill will last, as a redistricting process unfolds that could reshape the district. But for now the result narrows the already slim Republican majority in the House. And it provides Democrats a much-needed win in New York City’s Long Island suburbs, where the GOP showed surprising strength in recent elections.

Suozzi stressed his campaign trail theme of bipartisan cooperation in a victory speech that was briefly interrupted by protestors criticizing his support of Israel.

“There are divisions in our country where people can’t even talk to each other. All they can do is yell and scream at each other,” he said, acknowledging the demonstrators. “That’s not the answer to the problems we face in our country. The answer is to try and bring people together to try and find common ground.”


Displaced Palestinians leave one of Gaza's main hospitals after weeks of being isolated by fighting

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinians have begun evacuating the main hospital in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, according to videos shared by medics on Wednesday. Weeks of heavy fighting had isolated the medical facility and claimed the lives of several people inside it.

The war between Israel and Hamas, now in its fifth month, has devastated Gaza' health sector, with less than half of its hospitals even partially functioning as scores of people are killed and wounded in daily bombardments. Israel accuses the militants of using hospitals and other civilian buildings as cover.

Khan Younis is the main target of a rolling ground offensive that Israel has said will soon be expanded to Gaza’ southernmost city of Rafah. Some 1.4 million people — over half the territory’s population — are crammed into tent camps and overflowing apartments and shelters in the town on the Egyptian border.

The videos showed dozens of Palestinians carrying their belongings in sacks and making their way out of the Nasser Hospital complex. A doctor wearing green hospital scrubs walked ahead of the crowd, some of whom were carrying white flags.

The Israeli military said it had opened a secure route to allow civilians to leave the hospital, while medics and patients could remain inside. Troops have been ordered to “prioritize the safety of civilians, patients, medical workers, and medical facilities during the operation,” it said.


Airstrike from Israeli hostage rescue wipes out entire Palestinian family in Gaza border town

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Ibrahim Hasouna trudged over the rubble of the destroyed house, pointing out where family moments had taken place — where his mother and sister-in-law used to sleep, where he played with his 5-year-old nieces, where he helped his 1-year-old nephew take his first steps.

His entire family was now dead — his parents, his two brothers, and the wife and three children of one of those brothers. The house was reduced to rubble on top of them in the barrage of airstrikes that Israeli warplanes inflicted across Rafah before dawn Monday as cover for troops rescuing two hostages elsewhere in the city on the southern Gaza border.

At least 74 Palestinians were killed in the bombardment, which flattened large swaths of buildings and tents sheltering families who had fled to Rafah from across Gaza.

Among the dead were 27 children and 22 women, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, whose researchers compiled the list from Rafah hospitals. The Israeli offensive has taken a heavy toll on women and children, with more than 12,300 Palestinian children and young teens killed in the conflict, the Gaza Health Ministry said Monday.

The 30-year-old Ibrahim, his parents and his brothers arrived in Rafah a month earlier, the latest of their multiple moves to escape fighting after fleeing their homes in northern Gaza. They rented a small, one-story house on the east side of Rafah.


Defense Minister Subianto leads in early, unofficial count of Indonesia's presidential race

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto had a strong lead in an early, unofficial tally of Indonesia’s presidential race Wednesday, suggesting the former general may be able to avoid a runoff.

The 72-year-old candidate has presented himself as an heir to immensely popular sitting President Joko Widodo, whose son he chose as running mate.

He's also a link to the brutal period of dictatorship that ended just over 25 years ago, when he served as a special forces commander in a unit linked to torture and disappearances, allegations Subianto denies.

Widodo’s successor will inherit an economy with impressive growth and ambitious infrastructure projects, including the ongoing transfer of the nation’s capital from congested Jakarta to the frontier island of Borneo at a staggering cost exceeding $30 billion.

The election also has high stakes for the United States and China, since Indonesia has a huge domestic market, natural resources like nickel and palm oil, and diplomatic influence with its Southeast Asian neighbors.


Ukrainian military says it sank a Russian landing ship in the Black Sea

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's military said Wednesday it sank a Russian landing ship in the Black Sea using naval drones, a report that has not been confirmed by Russian authorities.

The Caesar Kunikov amphibious ship sank near Alupka, a city on the southern edge of the Crimean Peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014, Ukraine’s General Staff said. It said the ship can carry 87 crew members.

Sinking the vessel would be another embarrassing blow for the Russian Black Sea fleet and a significant success for Ukraine 10 days before the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

Ukraine has moved onto the defensive in the war, hindered by low ammunition supplies and a shortage of personnel, but has kept up its strikes behind the largely static 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) front line.

It is the second time in two weeks that Ukrainian forces have said they sank a Russian vessel in the Black Sea. Last week, they published a video that they said showed naval drones assaulting the Russian missile-armed corvette Ivanovets.


What's at stake in Trump's hush-money criminal case? Judge to rule on key issues as trial date nears

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is expected in court Thursday for an important hearing in his New York hush-money criminal case, which now appears increasingly likely to go to trial next month.

Judge Juan Manuel Merchan is set to rule on key pretrial issues and say for certain if the trial will begin as scheduled on March 25. If that happens, the New York case will be the first of Trump’s four criminal indictments to go to trial.

Trump’s lawyers have asked Merchan to dismiss the case entirely. The judge’s recent activities suggest that’s unlikely to happen. In recent weeks, court records show, Merchan has been communicating with defense lawyers and Manhattan prosecutors to plan jury selection for a March trial.

A delay might cause conflicts in Trump’s crowded legal calendar.

Trump, the Republican front-runner in his quest to return to the White House, has not been in court for the New York case since his arraignment last April, though he did appear by video for a hearing in May where the judge warned him against posting evidence to social media or using it to attack witnesses.


How Texas church shooter bought rifle despite mental illness and criminal history is under scrutiny

HOUSTON (AP) — The shooter who opened fire at a Houston megachurch before being gunned down by security officers used an AR-style rifle that police say she legally purchased despite a years-long criminal record, a history of mental illness and allegations she threatened to shoot her ex-husband.

Key questions remained Tuesday about Genesse Moreno's motive in the shooting, and police have given no details about where and how she obtained the rifle in December. The shooting joins others in Texas and elsewhere that have involved shooters who legally obtained guns despite criminal history and mental health problems.

Authorities say Moreno, 36, entered celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church on Sunday with her 7-year-old son and began firing in a hallway, sending worshippers scrambling for safety. Moreno did not reach the main sanctuary and was killed after exchanging gunfire with two off-duty officers.

Moreno's son was critically injured after being shot in the head and Houston police did not immediately have an update on his condition Tuesday.

Moreno used both male and female aliases, but investigators found through interviews and past police reports that Moreno identified as female, according to Houston Police Commander Chris Hassig.


Harvey Weinstein is appealing 2020 rape conviction. New York's top court to hear arguments

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly four years after Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and sent to prison, New York’s highest court will hear arguments Wednesday in his quest to overturn the landmark #MeToo-era verdict.

Weinstein’s lawyers are asking the state’s Court of Appeals in Albany to dismiss the disgraced movie mogul’s 2020 conviction, arguing the judge trampled his right to a fair trial by “succumbing to the pressure” of America’s reckoning with sexual misconduct perpetrated by powerful figures.

The judge, James Burke, allowed testimony from three women whose allegations weren’t part of the case and ruled that prosecutors could confront Weinstein about other, unrelated misbehavior if he had testified, which he declined to do.

“What we’re arguing is that there should not be a different set of rules for an individual in society who becomes vilified,” Weinstein's lawyer, Arthur Aidala, said. There can’t be “the Weinstein rule that just applies to that little sliver of society that everyone decides to really hate,” he said.

Weinstein, 71, was convicted February 24, 2020 of a criminal sex act for forcibly performing oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006, and rape in the third degree for an attack on an aspiring actress in 2013. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison and is incarcerated at the Mohawk Correctional Facility, a state prison about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Albany.


Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day fall on the same day this year. Here's what you need to know

Feb. 14 is a holiday heavyweight this year due to a calendar collision of events.

Yes, it's Valentine's Day, the fixed annual celebration of love and friendship, marked by cute couples, eager elementary school students — and critics who deride its commercialization. But it also happens to be Ash Wednesday, the solemn day of fasting and reflection that signals the start of Christianity's most penitent season.

Ash Wednesday is not a fixed date. Its timing is tied to Easter Sunday, and for most Christians, Easter will fall on March 31 this year.

Easter also moves annually, swinging between March 22 and April 25 based on a calendar calculation involving the moon.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops lays it out: “Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, which is the first full moon occurring either on or after the spring equinox (March 21). ... To find the date for Ash Wednesday, we go back six weeks which leads to the First Sunday of Lent and four days before that is Ash Wednesday.”

The Associated Press