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Cinematographer dead, director injured on film set after prop gun fired by actor Alec Baldwin misfires

Authorities confirmed on Thursday that a cinematographer working on the film “Rust” has died, and the director has been hospitalized, after an accident during filming involving actor Alec Baldwin misfiring a prop gun. The Western, starring Baldwin and Jensen Ackles of “Supernatural,” began filming this month at Bonanza Creek Movie Ranch, a film location in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that deputies with the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office responded to the film set around 2 p.m. local time after a 911 caller “reported a shooting on the set.” Two people were shot after a prop firearm was discharged during filming, authorities said. Baldwin fired the prop gun, striking the film’s director, Joel Souza, and director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, the sheriff’s office said in a follow-up statement Thursday night. Detectives are still determining “how and what type of projectile was discharged,” the sheriff’s office said earlier.

Hutchins, 42, was transported via helicopter to University of New Mexico Hospital, the state’s only Level 1 trauma center, “in critical condition,” according to sheriff’s deputies and the hospital. She later succumbed to her injuries, the sheriff’s office said. Souza, 48, was brought in an ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and is receiving emergency care, authorities said.

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FBI announce that dental records confirm the remains found at Florida environmental park are those of Brian Laundrie

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has confirmed that the human remains found at a North Port, Florida environmental park on Wednesday belong to 23-year-old Brian Laundrie. The FBI’s Denver Division wrote in a press release on Thursday that medical examiners used a comparison of dental records to positively identify the remains.

A North Port, FL police spokesperson earlier had confirmed that partial human remains recovered at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park where Laundrie was last believed to have been a day ago were described as “skeletal.” Two senior law enforcement officials also revealed that the human remains discovered yesterday at the Carlton Reserve during the search for Laundrie include a portion of a human skull.

The latest development Thursday comes after Steven Bertolino, attorney for the Laundrie family, said the remains found at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park by parents Chris and Roberta the morning prior were likely those of the missing 23-year-old. The FBI field office in Tampa confirmed the basic findings at a news conference Wednesday. In addition to the human remains, the FBI said investigators found a backpack and a notebook believed to belong to Laundrie near a path at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. The agency revealed that the items were underwater up until recently, and were only found now that the water had receded.

Officials said that the FBI teams will likely be on scene processing potential evidence for several days and the park will remain closed to the public until further notice.

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House votes to hold Steve Bannon in contempt for ignoring Jan. 6 subpoena

On Thursday the House voted to hold Steve Bannon, top advisor to former-President Trump, in criminal contempt for defying a subpoena to testify. The chamber voted 229-202 in favor of the resolution, which will refer a criminal contempt charge to the Justice Department. Nine Republicans voted with Democrats — Reps. Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Nancy Mace, Fred Upton, Peter Meijer, John Katko, Brian Fitzpatrick, Anthony Gonzalez and Jaime Herrera Beutler. The Justice Department has full, independent authority to decide whether to enforce the prosecution.

The vote comes two days after the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol also decided to hold Bannon in contempt. Bannon ignored deadlines to produce documents related to his discussions with Trump in the days before the violent insurrection in which radical Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as lawmakers were voting to certify Joe Biden’s election victory. According to subpoena documents, Bannon said on his radio show on Jan. 5 that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” He also allegedly spoke with Trump on Dec. 30 and urged him to focus on Jan. 6.

Trump previously instructed Bannon and other fellow aides — former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Daniel Scavino and former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel — to defy subpoenas from the select committee, citing executive privilege.

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FBI says apparent human remains, personal items belonging to Brian Laundrie were found in Florida nature reserve

The FBI announced on Wednesday that investigators found what appears to be human remains along with personal items Wednesday in a North Port, Fla., park in their search for Brian Laundrie. FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson said that in addition to possible human remains, searchers found a backpack and notebook that belonged to the 23-year-old Laundrie, adding that at least some of the items had “until recently been underwater.” McPherson made the announcement in a press conference but declined to take questions.

The announcement came after representatives from the Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office were called to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, the last place Brian Laundrie’s family said they remember seeing him. Laundrie’s parents, Chris Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie, informed law enforcement officials on Tuesday that they planned to search the park. North Port police officers and FBI agents met them at the park Wednesday morning to assist in the search of trails Brian Laundrie was known to frequent. Steven Berolino, an attorney for the Laundrie family, confirmed that “some articles belonging to Brian were found” at the park.

Brian Laundrie’s parents reported him missing Sept. 13, less than two weeks after he returned home from a road trip out West without his fiancée, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, 22. Searchers found Petito’s body Sept. 19 at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and determined she died of strangulation.Investigators have sought Brian Laundrie as a person of interest in Petito’s death and on federal charges of using someone else’s credit card. They focused their search efforts on a wildlife preserve in Florida as well as the Myakkahatchee park, which is where Brian Laundrie’s parents said they last remembered seeing him.

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FDA authorizes ‘mixing and matching’ Moderna and J&J booster shots

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) authorized boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, giving its approval for people to “mix and match” booster shots. The agency granted emergency use authorization for the booster doses; however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) must also give its approval before additional shots get in arms. The CDC is scheduled to meet Thursday to examine data and requests related to the available coronavirus vaccines.

The FDA approval comes after an advisory committee recommended their authorization last week. Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said: “Today’s actions demonstrate our commitment to public health in proactively fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic continues to impact the country, science has shown that vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective way to prevent COVID-19, including the most serious consequences of the disease, such as hospitalization and death. The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated. The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease.”

The FDA authorized a single booster dose of the Moderna vaccine at least six months after completion of the two-dose regimen for individuals 65 years and older, or 18 to 64 years old who also have a high risk of severe COVID-19 or have frequent institutional or occupational exposure to the virus. Individuals over the age of 18 may also receive a single booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months after their initial one-dose vaccine. The FDA and CDC have already signed off on booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for Americans over 65 and those with compromised immune systems or underlying health risks that make them more vulnerable to infection.

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Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska is indicted by federal grand jury on charges of lying to the FBI

Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska has been indicted, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Prosecutors said in a tweet that a federal grand jury indicted Fortenberry on charges of lying to federal investigators, and another crime in connection with a probe about illegal campaign donations provided by a foreigner.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said in a press release: ““The indictment alleges that Fortenberry repeatedly lied to and misled authorities during a federal investigation into illegal contributions to Fortenberry’s re-election campaign made by a foreign billionaire in early 2016.” The announcement of the indictment in Los Angeles federal court came hours after a YouTube video was posted, featuring Fortenberry, his wife, dog and 1963 Ford 100 pickup truck, revealing he expected to be indicted for allegedly lying to FBI agents.

Fortenberry is due to be arraigned in that court Wednesday. He is charged with one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators looking into illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign.

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Freshman fraternity member at University of Kentucky dies from ‘presumed alcohol toxicity’

Officials say that a freshman at the University of Kentucky died from alcohol toxicity Monday night after he was found unresponsive at his fraternity house. University police officers were called to FarmHouse Fraternity at about 6:22 p.m. Monday where Thomas Lofton Hazlewood, an 18-year-old fraternity member, was unresponsive. Hazlewood, an agricultural economics major. was taken to a hospital where he died.

The Fayette County Coroner’s Office said Hazlewood’s cause of death was “presumed alcohol toxicity” pending investigation, and the manner of death was ruled an accident. In a statement on Tuesday, the University of Kentucky said: “Foul play is not suspected, but police are investigating the circumstances of his death.”

FarmHouse Fraternity CEO Christian Wiggins said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Thomas ‘Lofton’ Hazelwood, a new member of the University of Kentucky chapter of FarmHouse Fraternity. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and loved ones as well as the entire community. We have encouraged all members and new members to cooperate with any investigation prompted by Mr. Hazelwood’s death. The thoughts of the entire UK community are with his family and all those who knew him.”

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell passes away at 84 due to complications from Covid-19

Former Secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell died on Monday due to complications from COVID-19, his family said. He was 84. Powell’s family announced his death in a post to Facebook. Powell, 84, was fully vaccinated from Covid-19, his family said, and had been treated at Walter Reed National Medical Center. “We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said. Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of a type of white blood cell. It’s unclear what complications he experienced from Covid-19 or when he tested positive for the disease.

Powell was born in 1937 in Harlem, New York, to immigrants from Jamaica and grew up in the South Bronx, going on to get a bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York. He became the first Black secretary of state under President George W. Bush.  After rising through the military ranks, Powell became a four-star general and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He had served as U.S. national security adviser and deputy national security adviser for President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Powell served twice in Vietnam — during the first tour, he was wounded in action and on the second tour, he received the Soldier’s Medal for rescuing several men from a burning helicopter..

Bush said in a statement on Monday that he and former first lady Laura Bush were deeply saddened by Powell’s death, adding: “He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam. Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience. He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.” Bush added that he and his wife sent Powell’s widow, Alma, and their three children “our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man.”

President Joe Biden ordered American flags at the White House lowered to half-staff in Powell’s honor, calling him a “patriot of unmatched honor and dignity.”  Biden said in a statement:  “He believed in the promise of America because he lived it. Colin was always someone who gave you his best and treated you with respect. Time and again, he put country before self, before party, before all else — in uniform and out — and it earned him the universal respect of the American people.” Despite serving Republican presidents, Powell broke with his party on several occasions in recent years, including when he endorsed Democratic Sen. Barack Obama for president in 2008 over Republican Sen. John McCain. Powell endorsed Obama again in 2012 over the GOP’s nominee that year, Mitt Romney, and later became a vocal critic of President Donald Trump.

Colin Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Powell, 83, and their three children.

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Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas 6-week abortion law

On Monday, the Justice Department filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court asking to it bar the implementation of a new Texas law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The application, signed by Acting U.S. Solicitor General Brian Fletcher, asks the high court to block the controversial Texas law known as ‘Senate Bill 8’ until legal challenges against it run their course.  The government said that Senate Bill 8 defies a “half a century” of Supreme Court precedents holding that “a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.”  The DOJ argued that the Texas law violates the Court’s landmark rulings in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey and Roe vs. Wade “by banning abortion long before viability — indeed, before many women even realize they are pregnant.”

Monday’s filing comes after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week sided against the Justice Department and allowed Texas’ abortion ban, the most restrictive in the nation, to stand. The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 Thursday against the Justice Department’s request to block the law on the grounds of it being unconstitutional, staying an earlier ruling by Judge Robert Pitman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

The controversial law went into effect Sept. 1 banning physicians from performing abortions once cardiac activity of the fetus is detected, which generally occurs at around the six-week mark of a pregnancy and before many women even know they are pregnant. The ban is enforced by the public, who are incentivized to sue through civil court anyone who performs, aids or abets an abortion.

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One killed, seven injured in shooting at Louisiana’s Grambling State University

One person was killed and at seven others were injured in a shooting at Grambling State University in Louisiana on Sunday. The university said one non-student was killed, and at least one enrolled student was injured in the shooting which took place at 1:15 p.m. during a homecoming event. In a statement shared to Facebook, the University posted: “All persons present sheltered in place and were released once the all-clear was given by University Police.”   The university also canceled the remaining homecoming activities scheduled, and cancelled classes on Monday and Tuesday.  A curfew was also put into immediate effect from 9:30 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Sunday’s incident was the second fatal shooting on the campus this week. On Friday, state police issued an arrest warrant for a suspect in a shooting last Wednesday that killed 19-year-old Damarius Murphy and injured a 16-year-old. The university had increased security following the Wednesday shooting, informing students there would be “increased law enforcement presence” throughout the rest of the homecoming events.

Grambling State University President Rick Gallot issued a statement saying: “Our campus community has worked tirelessly to keep our students and others safe for the homecoming activities. Yet, with all of our planning and coordination with our local, parish, regional, and state law enforcement partners, we still find ourselves grieving the loss of life and injuries just as too many communities in our country have experienced as well.”

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