Dec. 20 News Briefs

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Judge declines to throw out Harvey Weinstein criminal case

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York judge declined to dismiss sexual assault charges against Harvey Weinstein Thursday, rejecting the latest push from the disgraced film producer’s lawyers to have his indictment thrown out. Judge James Burke’s ruling buoyed a prosecution that has appeared on rocky ground in recent months amid a prolonged defense effort to raise doubts about the case and the police investigation. Weinstein’s lawyers argued the case had been “irreparably tainted” by a detective’s alleged coaching of a potential witness and one of the accusers. They also said the grand jury should have been shown evidence that Weinstein had exchanged friendly emails with his two accusers after the alleged attacks. But Burke ruled that Weinstein’s claims of prosecutorial misconduct had “no basis.” He also denied Weinstein’s request for an evidentiary hearing. Weinstein’s next court date is scheduled for March 7.

Altria spending $12.8B for a stake in e-vapor company

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Altria is spending $12.8 billion for a stake in e-vapor company JUUL as one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies tries to offset declining cigarette use. Altria Group Inc. said Thursday that its investment puts the value of JUUL Labs Inc. at $38 billion. JUUL will remain a fully independent company and have access to Altria’s infrastructure and services.

Mars lander places quake monitor on planet’s surface

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s new Mars lander has placed a quake monitor on the planet’s dusty red surface. The milestone occurred less than a month after Mars InSight’s touchdown. InSight’s robotic arm removed the seismometer from the spacecraft deck and set it on the ground Wednesday to monitor Mars quakes. Project manager Tom Hoffman calls it “an awesome Christmas present.” It’s the first time a robotic arm has lowered an experiment onto the Martian surface. The ground is slightly tilted so flight controllers still need to make the seismometer level. InSight’s arm will swing back into action next month to place a wind cover over the seismometer and to set down another experiment. The heat probe, dubbed the mole, will burrow up to 16 feet (5 meters) into Mars to measure internal temperatures.

Walgreens employee shoots, kills man after photos dispute

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Tulsa police say a Walgreens employee with a concealed-carry license fatally shot an armed man after an argument that began at the photo counter. Tulsa Police Sgt. Brandon Watkins says that the man who was killed on Wednesday was 52-year-old William Hurley. Watkins says Hurley pulled a gun, jumped behind the photo counter to take photos from a clerk and then climbed back over the counter. Watkins says that while other employees tried to call police, a 28-year-old Walgreens employee shot and killed the man. That employee wasn’t injured, and police say he hasn’t been arrested. Another Walgreens employee and customer were struck by gunfire and hospitalized. Watkins says both are expected to survive. Walgreens said in a statement it’s cooperating with the investigation into the shooting.

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