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Treasury to begin ‘extraordinary measures’ to avoid default as U.S. hits debt limit

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen notified congressional leaders in a letter on Thursday that she is implementing “extraordinary measures” to meet U.S. financial obligations — this after the United States hit the national debt limit of $31.4 trillion, which requires Congress to increase it in order to meet existing national financial obligations.

Yellen wrote to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy: “I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States.” According to Yellen, it’s not clear exactly how long government cash and extraordinary measures can work to fulfill the nation’s economic obligations but said it’s unlikely resources will be exhausted “before early June.”

House Republicans have indicated they will demand deep spending cuts before agreeing to raise the debt ceiling; the Biden administration wants the debt ceiling raised without conditions. Yellen warned congressional leadership that failure to raise the limit in time would cause irreparable harm to the U.S. economy. Despite that warning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters this week raising the limit without cutting spending is off the table. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing that Republicans “are threatening to kill millions of jobs and 401(k) plans by trying to hold the debt limit hostage unless they can, again, cut Social Security, cut Medicare, cut Medicaid,” adding that President Biden “will not allow Republicans to take the economy hostage or make working Americans pay the price for their schemes to benefit the wealthiest Americans and also special interests.”

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Alec Baldwin charged with involuntary manslaughter in ‘Rust’ shooting of Halyna Hutchins

Actor Alec Baldwin has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of ‘Rust’ cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. ‘Rust’ armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was also charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. A statement released on Thursday by New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and Rust special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb announced that charges were filed against Baldwin after the gun he was holding discharged, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza on the film set in New Mexico. Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed’s will be “charged in the alternative” with the two counts of manslaughter, meaning that a jury would decide not simply if they were guilty, but under which definition of involuntary manslaughter they were guilty.

According to the release from Carmack-Altwies’s office, involuntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine if proven. The DA and special prosecution will formally file these charges with the New Mexico’s First Judicial District Court by the end of the month. Carmack-Altwies said: “After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew. On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”

The shooting occurred on Oct. 21, 2021, inside a building on a film set outside Santa Fe. Baldwin maintains that he did not know the gun was loaded; he is currently suing several ‘Rust’ crew members and accusing them of negligence for providing him with a loaded weapon without his knowledge. The actor initially stated that he “didn’t pull the trigger,” but in his lawsuit against the crew, his team says he pulled back and released the hammer of the gun in Hutchins’ direction while they were preparing camera angles.

The state initially fined the production company the maximum penalty of $136,793 for not following proper safety protocols. Hutchins’ family also sued Baldwin and the production company over wrongful death. They have since reached a settlement. ‘Rust’ is currently scheduled to resume filming this year with Matthew Hutchins, Hutchins’ husband, now involved as an executive producer.

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Russian crypto exchange founder charged with laundering $700 million

At a press conference in Washington on Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department and Treasury Department announced they have charged Bitzlato Ltd. with money laundering, and arrested its founder in Miami. Anatoly Legkodymov, 40, was arrested in Miami on Tuesday night and will appear in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He is the founder, majority owner and senior executive of Bitzlato Ltd., which is based in Hong Kong.

Bitzlato allegedly allowed its users to use its services with loose restrictions, allowing users to create accounts based on false information, which they used to engage in transactions with an “illicit” black market called Hydra Market. Hydra Market is a black market platform where narcotics, stolen personal and financial information and money laundering services can be procured; the Justice Department said it is the “largest and longest running darknet market in the world.” Hydra was shut down by a cooperative effort between U.S. and German law enforcement agencies last April. Bitzlato users exchanged an estimated $700 million in cryptocurrency for illegal activities with Hydra until it was closed. The Justice Department alleges Legkodymov knew of the criminal activities carried out by Bitzlato’s users, disregarding warnings from other executives about the dangers of allowing these activities to continue because he did not want to sacrifice profits. Bitzlato’s website has been shut down with agencies throughout the world taking aim at its infrastructure.

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York said: “Institutions that trade in cryptocurrency are not above the law and their owners are not beyond our reach. As alleged, Bitzlato sold itself to criminals as a no-questions-asked cryptocurrency exchange, and reaped hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of deposits as a result. The defendant is now paying the price for the malign role that his company played in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.”

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Microsoft announces it will layoff 10,000 by end of September

Microsoft informed company employees on Wednesday that 10,000 layoffs are coming by the end of third quarter. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the announcement in blog post on the company’s website, saying some employees would given their notice Wednesday.  The company said the layoffs will affect nearly 5% of Microsoft’s 200,000-strong global workforce.

Nadella blamed the decision on the need to align Microsoft’s cost structure with its revenue and where it sees customer demand. The blog post read: “As we saw customers accelerate their digital spend during the pandemic, we’re now seeing them optimize their digital spend to do more with less. We’re also seeing organizations in every industry and geography exercise caution as some parts of the world are in a recession and other parts are anticipating one ..At the same time, the next major wave of computing is being born with advances in AI, as we’re turning the world’s most advanced models into a new computing platform.”

Nadella promised employees being let go would be treated with dignity, respect and in accordance with U.S. employment law or, for overseas hires, the laws of their respective countries. He said the software company would take a $1.2 billion charge in the second quarter to cover costs related to severance liabilities. The company said the job cuts, changes to its hardware portfolio and consolidation of its real estate holdings would result in a $1.2 billion charge.

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Husband charged with murder of missing Massachusetts woman Ana Walshe

Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey announced on Tuesday an arrest warrant has been issued for Brian Walshe in the murder in the death of his wife, 39-year-old Ana Walshe, who has been missing since New Year’s Day.

Morrissey announced the warrant in a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday: “Early in this investigation the police developed probable cause to believe her husband, Brian Walshe, age 47, had mislead police investigators on material matters important to the search for Ana Walshe. He has plead not guilty to those charges and is currently being held at the Norfolk County house of correction.  A continued investigation has now allowed police to obtain an arrest warrant, charging Brian Walshe with the murder of his wife.”  Morrissey said additional evidence was likely to be presented at arraignment at Quincy District Court.

Ana Walshe worked in real estate before her disappearance from Cohasset, Mass., where she lived with her husband. Last week, Norfolk County Assistant District Attorney Lynn Beland told the court that a bloody knife had been found in the home where Ana and Brian Walshe lived. Additionally, Beland told the court that Walshe had failed to disclose the fact that he spent $450 at Home Depot to purchase a tarp and cleaning supplies after his wife vanished.

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1 killed, 7 wounded in shooting during massive MLK Day celebration in Florida

No arrests have been made in a shooting that took place after an event honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in Florida on Monday, in which one person was killed and seven others were wounded.

According to St. Lucie County Chief Deputy Brian Hester, after the MLK Jr. parade on Monday at about 5:20 p.m., a disagreement occurred at an after-parade party, which led to the shooting. One of the victims, an unidentified 29-year-old woman who was attending the party with her 6-year-old daughter, has since died from their injuries. At a press conference, Hester said, “It’s really sad in a celebration of someone who represented peace and equality that a disagreement results in a use of guns and violence to solve that disagreement. And then so many innocent people who were injured or hurt and were not part of the disagreement as well.”

Sheriff Ken Mascara said at a news conference on Tuesday: “What was a shooting investigation has turned into a murder investigation.”  The sheriff’s office also told the outlet that the parade was attended by more than 1,000 people. Two deputies were at the scene and quickly responded to the shooting at the party, according to the sheriff’s office. Chief Deputy Hester told reporters on Tuesday that evidence supports that this shooting was between two local rival gangs: “It was mass chaos as you can imagine when shots rang out. There were a thousand plus people here at the event, and as the shots rang out, people were just running in all directions.”  Those with information related to this incident are asked to contact St. Lucie County detectives or call Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-8477.

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University of Alabama basketball player Darius Miles charged with murder of woman

Tuscaloosa law enforcement announced on Monday that University of Alabama basketball player Darius Miles, 21, has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with a shooting near the campus Sunday, which left a 23-year-old woman dead.  The Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit said in a press release that 20-year-old Michael Lynn Davis has also been charged in the shooting. Both suspects are charged with capital murder and are being held without bond, it said.

The University of Alabama athletics department said in a statement: “We were made aware of the recent charge against student-athlete Darius Miles, and he is no longer a member of the Alabama men’s basketball team. Investigators said Miles is the only person involved who is connected to the University of Alabama. Miles is a junior at the university from Washington, DC, according to an archived version of the men’s basketball team roster. Miles was playing his third season as a forward for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

According to a release from the violent crimes unit, police responded to the shooting around 1:45 a.m. local time Sunday and discovered that Jamea Jonae Harris had been shot and killed while sitting in a car less than half a mile from the university’s campus. Investigators said that the driver of the car told police that someone had shot into his vehicle and said he returned fire in self defense, possibly striking one of the suspects. According to the press release, “after processing the scenes, speaking with multiple witnesses, and viewing video surveillance, two suspects were developed,” adding that of the suspects had been hit by the returning gunfire and had a non-life-threatening wound.   Unit Captain Jack Kennedy said: “It appears that the only motive to this was a minor altercation that these individuals had with the victim as they were out on The Strip.”  The Strip is a hub of restaurants and businesses near the university campus.

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Six people killed in suspected drug-related ‘massacre’ in California

California authorities confirm that on Monday six people were shot to death in a suspected drug-related “massacre” that included a 17-year-old mother and her 6-month-old baby. The shooting took place in a residential area of Goshen, located about 40 miles northwest of Fresno, Calif., in the Central Valley.

Tulare County, Calif., Sheriff Mike Boudreaux told reporters they received multiple calls of shots fired shortly before 4 a.m. Monday in the town of Goshen. Callers reported a possible active shooter situation due to the number of shots fired. Sheriff Boudreaux said two victims of what he called a “massacre” were found dead when deputies arrived shortly after the gunshots were reported. A third victim was found in the doorway of a home where shots were heard, and police found more victims inside the home, including one male victim who was found alive but later died at the hospital.

No arrests have been made as of press time.  Boudreaux said the mother and child were shot in the head, and added that authorities believe there are two suspects involved in the shooting.  Said Boudreaux: “We also believe this is not a random act of violence. We believe this was a targeted family. We believe that there are gang associations involved — as well as potential narcotics investigations.” He added that search warrants for a drug probe were executed at the residence about a week ago, and said detectives have information that they are hopeful will lead to arrests.

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Over 50 shots fired outside Houston nightclub leaving one dead, four wounded

Officials confirmed that one person was killed and four were wounded early Sunday in a Houston-area shooting believed to involve an AK-47 assault rifle. The Harris County sheriff’s office said that multiple people appeared to get out of a vehicle and open fire toward patrons outside the Lounge 33 nightclub in Harris County about 2 a.m. local time. Three women and two men were wounded by gunfire. One of the men died, and the other four victims were taken to a local hospital.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at a news conference: “It looks like over 50 shots were fired here, which is a very scary situation considering there’s a mobile food truck here and, again, the number of patrons that were outside. Two men and three women were wounded in the shooting. One of the men died, while the four surviving victims were hospitalized.”  Gonzalez added:  “It appears at least one AK-47 was utilized, so it’s pretty potent stuff that we’re seeing out here on the streets … If the information is correct that somebody exited from a vehicle and began opening fire, then that’s probably a good indicator that they were coming with purpose and maybe it was targeted at somebody. Maybe there was some type of beef before inside the club that later spilled out, but at this point we don’t know that.”

None of the victims have been publicly identified, and officials haven’t announced any arrests. Since many witnesses left the scene after the shooting, the sheriff is asking that any witnesses with pertinent information to come forward to assist in the investigation.

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Asian student at Indiana University stabbed in alleged racially-motivated attack on bus

A 56-year-old woman was arrested after she allegedly confessed to repeatedly stabbing an Asian student at Indiana University in the head on a public bus in Bloomington, Indiana, in what police said appeared to be an unprovoked, racially-motivated attack. The attack unfolded aboard the bus around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, the Bloomington Police Department said in a statement. The knife attack was captured on the bus’ onboard surveillance camera. The victim, whose name was not released, told investigators she was attacked without warning when she stood up to exit the bus on Fourth Street in downtown Bloomington, several blocks from the Indiana University campus. Police officers called to the scene found the victim bleeding from her head and immediately called an ambulance, which took the victim to an area hospital for treatment where it was determined that the victim had multiple stab wounds to her head.

Authorities said that the suspect, Billy R. Davis of Bloomington, was taken into custody after a passenger who witnessed the assault followed her on foot.  According to a criminal complaint, the suspect allegedly confessed to stabbing the 18-year-old victim with a folding knife and told detectives she did so because it would mean “one less person to blow up our country.” Davis was initially booked at the Monroe County Jail and on a felony battery charge, which was later amended to attempted murder after she allegedly confessed to investigators.

James Wimbush, vice president of diversity, equity and multicultural affairs at Indiana University, said in a statement: “This week, Bloomington was sadly reminded that anti-Asian hate is real and can have painful impacts on individuals and our community. No one should face harassment or violence due to their background, ethnicity or heritage. Instead, the Bloomington and IU communities are stronger because of the vast diversity of identities and perspectives that make up our campus and community culture.”

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton also said in a statement: “We stand with the Asian community and all who feel threatened by this event. Following the brutal attack of a member of our community, I want to state categorically that here in the city of Bloomington we deplore any form of racism and discrimination, especially hate based violence. This behavior is not acceptable and will be dealt with accordingly. Bloomington is a relatively safe place, but we are not immune to issues with which our entire nation is dealing. This senseless incident is a reminder that we should all look out for each other, be aware of our surroundings and seek to combat racism and prejudice in all its forms wherever and whenever we encounter it.”

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