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Profs make impeachment case; Democrats say they’re all in

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three leading legal scholars testified Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rivals are grounds for impeachment, bolstering the Democrats’ case as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made sure they’re prepared for that momentous next step.

Yet a fourth expert called by Republicans at the Judiciary Committee warned against rushing the process, arguing this would be the shortest of impeachment proceedings, with the “thinnest” record of evidence in modern times, setting a worrisome standard.

Meeting behind closed doors ahead of the initial Judiciary hearing to consider potential articles of impeachment, Pelosi asked House Democrats a simple question: “Are you ready?”

The answer was a resounding yes.

Though no date has been set, the Democrats are charging toward a Christmastime vote on removing the 45th president. It’s a starkly partisan undertaking, a situation Pelosi hoped to avoid but now seems inevitable.

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Trump aims for role of NATO statesman but mars unity message

WATFORD, England (AP) — Aiming to play the role of global statesman as the impeachment drama was unfolding in Washington, President Donald Trump instead shattered NATO’s professed message of unity at its 70th anniversary celebration in England and put his personal and policy differences with alliance members on stark display.

Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced” and French President Emanuel Macron “nasty” during a 52-hour trip that exposed the alliance’s divisions on military budgets and relations with Turkey, as well as the U.S. leader’s own unconventional ways on the world stage.

At the same time, he found it difficult to leave behind events in Washington, lashing out as House Democrats resumed their push for impeachment over Trump’s call for Ukraine to investigate a political rival. He said it was “sad” that Democrats were pushing ahead with the inquiry when “there was no crime whatsoever and they know it.”

Trump, looking to showcase foreign policy wins as he heads into an election year, offered a more optimistic outlook for NATO’s future. He took credit for boosting the share of NATO nations that are meeting the alliance’s goal of spending 2% of gross domestic on defense and sought to pressure more countries to increase their military budgets. But he also put a spotlight on his administration’s lingering to-do list: ending a China trade war he instigated, passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement as well as trade deals with the European Union and Britain.

A day after Trudeau was overheard gossiping about Trump during a reception at Buckingham Palace, Trump called the Canadian leader “two-faced.” In an unguarded conversation, Trudeau told leaders, including Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, that “he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top,” an apparent reference to Trump’s long and unscheduled question-and-answer session with journalists earlier that day. Trudeau also said, seemingly about his meeting with Trump, “You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”

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Sailor kills 2, himself in attack at Pearl Harbor shipyard

HONOLULU (AP) — The military says a U.S. sailor shot and killed two civilian Department of Defense employees at the Pearl Harbor shipyard before taking his own life.

The military didn’t release a motive or any identifying information about the sailor who opened fire Wednesday at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. A third victim is in stable condition at a hospital. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam has reopened following a lockdown.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, one of the Navy’s major installations, said the shooting began around 2:30 p.m. The military didn’t release a motive.

The shipyard repairs, maintains and modernizes the ships and submarines of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which is headquartered at Pearl Harbor. The base is the home port for 10 destroyers and 15 submarines.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said the White House has offered assistance from federal agencies and that the state is also ready to help if needed.

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AP FACT CHECK: Trump suddenly loses interest in stock market

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump offered a faulty take on the Constitution’s grounds for impeachment Wednesday as he wrapped up a NATO summit marked by his misstatements on several fronts.

Among them, he claimed that he pays no attention to the stock market despite plentiful evidence that he treats that indicator as the pulse of his presidency. Or at least he did, until stocks took a thrashing.

A look at some of his comments from London:

TRUMP, on French President Emmanuel Macron’s assertion that NATO is suffering “brain death”: “He’s taken back his comments very much so on NATO.” — remarks Wednesday with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

THE FACTS: No, Macron did not back off what Trump had called a “very, very nasty” statement about NATO. He conspicuously stood by it, before the summit, after it and when face to face with Trump in a tense joint news conference. If anything, Macron appeared to relish the provocation he had brought on.

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668,000 will lose food stamp benefits under new work rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of Americans who rely on the federal food stamp program will lose their benefits under a new Trump administration rule that will tighten work requirements for recipients.

The move by the administration is the latest in its attempt to scale back the social safety net for low-income Americans. It is the first of three proposed rules targeting the Supplemental Nutrition Program, known as SNAP, to be finalized. The program feeds more than 36 million people.

The plan, announced Wednesday, will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits.

The Agriculture Department estimates the change would save roughly $5.5 billion over five years and cut benefits for roughly 688,000 SNAP recipients. That’s down from its original estimate that 750,000 people would lose benefits.

Under current rules, work-eligible able-bodied adults without dependents and between the ages of 18 and 49 can currently receive only three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period if they don’t meet the 20-hour work requirement. But states with high unemployment rates or a demonstrable lack of sufficient jobs can waive those time limits.

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Drug can curb dementia’s delusions, researchers find

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A drug that curbs delusions in Parkinson’s patients did the same for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in a study that was stopped early because the benefit seemed clear.

If regulators agree, the drug could become the first treatment specifically for dementia-related psychosis and the first new medicine for Alzheimer’s in nearly two decades. It targets some of the most troubling symptoms that patients and caregivers face — hallucinations that often lead to anxiety, aggression, and physical and verbal abuse.

Results were disclosed Wednesday at a conference in San Diego.

“This would be a very important advance,” said one independent expert, Dr. Howard Fillit, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.

Although the field is focused on finding a cure for dementia and preventing future cases, “there is a huge unmet need for better treatment” for those who have it now, said Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief science officer.

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Police chief firing puts spotlight on cops who let him go

CHICAGO (AP) — When fellow officers discovered Chicago’s police chief asleep behind the wheel of his running SUV, they did not conduct any sobriety tests and let their boss drive home — a decision that has thrown a spotlight on what happens when one officer confronts another on patrol.

Many details of that mid-October encounter are still unclear. But the incident led Mayor Lori Lightfoot to fire Superintendent Eddie Johnson, and it could lead to discipline for the officers who were there.

When it comes to police pulling over police, the unwritten rule has long been one of professional courtesy: Don’t call attention to the incident over the radio and maybe offer a ride home, particularly if no one else is involved. But that practice has been increasingly called into question, amid calls for better police accountability and expanded use of body cameras. Police argue that they use similar discretion with ordinary citizens, but critics say officers often get a pass and protect their own at all costs.

For officers, pulling over a fellow cop can be an awkward dilemma, one that’s magnified when it’s the head of one of the nation’s largest police departments.

“It’s a worst-nightmare situation for a police officer to encounter their superior or chief who has been drinking,” said Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. “They’re damned if they do, and they’re damned if they don’t in terms of how they respond or act.’’

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Surprising 1st results from NASA’s sun-skimming spacecraft

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s sun-skimming spacecraft, the Parker Solar Probe, is surprising scientists with its unprecedented close views of our star.

Scientists released the first results from the mission Wednesday. They observed bursts of energetic particles never seen before on such a small scale as well as switchback-like reversals in the out-flowing solar magnetic field that seem to whip up the solar wind.

NASA’s Nicola Fox compared this unexpected switchback phenomenon to the cracking of a whip.

“They’re striking and it’s hard to not think that they’re somehow important in the whole problem,” said Stuart Bale of the University of California, Berkeley, who was part of the team.

Researchers said they also finally have evidence of a dust-free zone encircling the sun. Farther out, there’s so much dust from vaporizing comets and asteroids that one of 80 small viewfinders on one instrument was pierced by a grain earlier this year.

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Judge dismisses lawsuit in John Dillinger exhumation case

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A nephew of 1930s gangster John Dillinger needs a cemetery’s permission to exhume the notorious criminal’s Indianapolis gravesite to prove whether he’s actually buried there, a judge ruled Wednesday in dismissing the nephew’s lawsuit against the cemetery.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Timothy Oakes granted Crown Hill Cemetery’s motion to dismiss Michael Thompson’s lawsuit, saying Indiana law requires the cemetery’s consent.

“The limited question before the Court today is whether disinterment may occur under this section of the statute without cemetery approval. Court finds that the statutory requirements for this section of the statute are clear in that disinterment requires the cemetery owner to give consent before disinterment may occur,” Oakes wrote.

He added that Indiana law “does not require that the cemetery have a valid, rational, or meaningful reason” for withholding its consent.

Thompson sued the cemetery in August after it objected to his plans to exhume the grave as part of a television documentary. Thompson has said he has evidence Dillinger’s body may not be buried there, and that he may not have been the man FBI agents fatally shot outside a Chicago theater on July 22, 1934. The History Channel dropped out of the planned documentary in September.

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‘Tis the season: Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lights up

NEW YORK (AP) — One of the brightest signs of the holiday season has come to light. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was officially turned on Wednesday night, at an event featuring celebrities including Idina Menzel, Lea Michele and Ne-Yo among the performers.

The tree, a Norway spruce that’s more than 60 years old, stands 77 feet (23.5 meters) tall and was lit up in colorful Christmas lights before 10 p.m.

It was on the property of Carol Schultz in the village of Florida, New York, and was cut down last month.

The tree was decorated with miles of lights, with a huge Swarovski crystal star at the top.

It stays in place until January 17, when it will be taken down and donated to Habitat for Humanity to help build homes.