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January 12, 2021

Michigan is preparing to charge former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and other former officials over the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, The Associated Press reports.

Snyder was governor when the majority-Black city was moved to an untreated, lead-contaminated water source. Snyder, his former health department director Nick Lyon, and other members of the Snyder administration were told they would soon face unspecified charges, two people with knowledge of the planned prosecution told AP.

In 2014, state-appointed officials moved Flint's water source to the Flint River to save money as a new pipeline was built to Lake Huron. The water wasn't treated for contamination from the old, corroding pipes the water ran through, yet state regulators signed off on the move anyway. Bacteria in the river water was meanwhile attributed to an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease in the city of 100,000 people, leading to at least 12 deaths. Snyder and Lyon didn't acknowledge the outbreak until 2016, though Lyon admitted he knew of the Legionnaire's cases earlier.

Lyon was charged in 2018 with involuntary manslaughter over allegations he didn't warn the public about the dangerous water source. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) dropped those charges against Lyon and other officials in 2019. The attorney general's office did not acknowledge the reported charges but told AP it would "share more as soon as we're in a position to do so." Kathryn Krawczyk

January 12, 2021

A Chicago man has been arrested after allegedly threatening violence at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois announced Tuesday that 45-year-old Louis Capriotti was arrested and is facing a federal charge of "transmitting a threat in interstate commerce."

Capriotti, officials said, allegedly left a voicemail for a U.S. House member on Dec. 29 saying that those who "think that Joe Biden is going to put his hand on the Bible and walk into that [expletive] White House" on Jan. 20 are "sadly [expletive] mistaken" and threatening, "We will surround the [expletive] White House and we will kill any [expletive] Democrat that steps on the [expletive] lawn."

"Our office takes the security of our public servants very seriously," U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch said. "Individuals who cross the line of free speech by making unlawful threats will be held accountable."

The news comes after last week's deadly pro-Trump riot at the Capitol building, which occurred as lawmakers met to certify Biden's win. The riot, The Wall Street Journal reports, has prompted officials to step up security for Biden's inauguration, and a House Democratic aide told the Journal there are plans for the "largest perimeter ever established around the Capitol" to be erected.

The arrest also comes as CBS News' Ben Tracy reports Capitol Police briefed lawmakers "on a plot by militia members to surround the White House to protect President Trump, kill Democrats at the Capitol, and surround the Supreme Court." Brendan Morrow

January 11, 2021

The FBI has reportedly warned that armed protests are being planned at every state capitol following last week's deadly riot in Washington, D.C.

An internal FBI bulletin says that "armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols" and at the U.S. Capitol from Jan. 16 through "at least" Jan. 20, the day of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, ABC News reported on Monday.

Additionally, the FBI has reportedly received information about a group "planning to 'storm' government offices in every state" on the day of the inauguration and calling for "'storming' state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings" should President Trump be removed from office before Jan. 20, ABC writes.

"The FBI received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, D.C. on 16 January," the FBI bulletin reportedly says. "They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment, a huge uprising will occur."

News of the FBI memo was confirmed by NBC News, which wrote that it "doesn't mean that law enforcement agencies expect violent mass protests or confrontations in every state," and NBC quoted an FBI spokesperson in Boston as saying that "the FBI Boston Division is not in possession of any intelligence indicating any planned, armed protests at the four state capitals in our area of responsibility" from Jan. 17 through the 20th.

This comes less than a week after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in a deadly riot, which has prompted Democrats to pursue impeaching Trump a second time for "incitement of insurrection." On Monday, The Washington Post reports, defense officials said that up to 15,000 National Guard members could be deployed for Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. Brendan Morrow

January 8, 2021

Twitter "permanently suspended" President Trump's personal account on Friday, citing "the risk of further incitement of violence."

The decision follows Twitter's temporary, 12-hour ban on the president's account on Wednesday, resulting from the president's "severe" violations of the company's civil integrity policy. Twitter warned at the time that if Trump violated the company's civic integrity or violent threats policies again, it would "result in permanent suspension." Facebook took similar steps this week, blocking Trump from using his account until "the peaceful transfer of power is complete."

On Friday, Trump sent two tweets: One read, "The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!" The next stated that "to all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th."

Here's the explanation from Twitter:

Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President's statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks. After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service. [Twitter]

Twitter said his tweets violated policy by providing "further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an 'orderly transition' and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election."

His account has already vanished from the website. Jeva Lange

December 25, 2020

A large blast that shook downtown Nashville early Christmas morning wasn't an accident, Nashville police sayk. "The explosion was significant, as you can see," and "the police department, its federal partners — the FBI and ATF — are conducting a large-scale investigation to this point," said Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron. "We do believe that the explosion was an intentional act." Three people were injured in the explosion, but none critically, he added.

Police said they had responded to reports of a suspicious vehicle parked downtown at just before 6 a.m., but they had reason to call in the bomb squad, and the vehicle exploded as the unit was en route to the scene. About 20 buildings were damaged in the blast, Nashville Mayor John Cooper said. "It looks like a bomb went off," he said, and authorities will give an update Saturday morning. In the meantime, the downtown area will be "sealed off," Cooper said. "One more event in Nashville's 2020." Peter Weber

December 9, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden's son Hunter is under federal investigation for his "tax affairs," he revealed on Wednesday.

In a statement released by the president-elect's transition team, Hunter Biden said the U.S. Attorney's Office in Delaware on Tuesday advised his legal counsel "that they are investigating my tax affairs."

"I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors," Hunter Biden said.

A statement from the Biden-Harris transition also said the president-elect is "deeply proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger."

Further details about the federal investigation weren't provided in the statement. But CNN reports that investigators "have been examining multiple financial issues, including whether Hunter Biden and associates violated tax and money laundering laws in business dealings in foreign countries, principally China." CNN also reports the investigation "began as early as 2018." Brendan Morrow

December 1, 2020

Attorney General William Barr announced Tuesday he has appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was previously tasked with investigating the 2016 Russia probe's origins, as special counsel.

Barr told The Associated Press that he appointed Durham as special counsel in October, explaining that ahead of the 2020 presidential election, "I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Mueller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they'd be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election."

An order obtained by AP states that Durham is authorized to "investigate whether any federal official, employee, or any person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law enforcement activities" while probing allegations of cooperation between Trump's campaign and Russia. Documents show that Barr "made the appointment on Oct. 19 and kept it secret so as not to interfere in the election," CNN writes.

Durham will now have additional protection, as a special counsel can only be fired by the attorney general for certain reasons, AP notes. Barr's announcement of his October appointment came on the same afternoon that he told AP the Justice Department has found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the results of the 2020 election. Brendan Morrow

November 16, 2020

Hurricane Iota has strengthened into a Category 5 storm, and the National Hurricane Center is warning it will bring "catastrophic winds" and "life-threatening storm surge" to Central America.

Iota, which is expected to make landfall in Central America on Monday, strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, making it the first Category 5 storm of the hurricane season, CNN reports.

An advisory from the National Hurricane Center warned that "preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," and the NHC also said the storm is forecast to "bring catastrophic winds, life-threatening storm surge, and torrential rainfall to Central America." The hurricane is located about 100 miles east-southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, according to CNN.

Iota is the 30th named storm of the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which has seen more named storms than any other, The Associated Press notes. It's also "only the second Category 5 hurricane on record in November," The Weather Channel reports. Iota is headed toward Central America as a Category 5 only a week after Hurricane Eta hit the area as a Category 4 storm, leaving at least 120 people dead. Brendan Morrow

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