Originally Published: February 6, 2018 6 a.m.
CHARLOTTE, Mich. — The worst sex-abuse case in sports history ended Monday with a third long prison sentence for Larry Nassar, and his victims vowed to keep fighting for accountability in the scandal that upended the gymnastics world and raised alarms about the sport’s ask-no-questions culture.
Long after the disgraced doctor is locked up in a federal prison, investigations into his misconduct will go on, perhaps for years.
“We have taken care of one perpetrator. We have not taken care of the systems that allowed him to flourish,” said Rachael Denhollander, who filed a police report in 2016 about how Nassar had molested her 16 years earlier, when she was 15, with her mother in the room.
The latest sentence of 40 to 125 years was for molesting young athletes at Twistars, an elite Michigan gymnastics club. The sentence is largely symbolic because Nassar, who pleaded guilty, is already assured of spending the rest of his life behind bars. Before serving his two state terms, the 54-year-old must first serve 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.
An astonishing 250-plus women and girls gave statements in two Michigan courtrooms over 10 days of proceedings. The focus will soon shift to lawsuits and multiple probes of Nassar’s actions and those of people around him when he worked for Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body.
Dow plunges 1,175 points in worst day for stocks since 2011
NEW YORK — The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 1,100 points Monday as stocks took their worst loss in six and a half years. Two days of steep losses have erased the market’s gains from the start of this year and ended a period of record-setting calm for stocks.
Banks fared the worst as bond yields and interest rates nosedived. Health care, technology and industrial companies all took outsize losses and energy companies sank with oil prices.
At its lowest ebb, the Dow was down 1,597 points from Friday’s close. That came during a 15-minute stretch where the 30-stock index lost 700 points and then gained them back.
Market pros have been predicting a pullback for some time, noting that declines of 10 percent or more are common during bull markets. There hasn’t been one in two years, and by many measures stocks had been looking expensive.
“It’s like a kid at a child’s party who, after an afternoon of cake and ice cream, eats one more cookie and that puts them over the edge,” said David Kelly, the chief global strategist for JPMorgan Asset Management.
As stocks plunge, Trump blames Dems for lack of support on economy
BLUE ASH, Ohio — President Donald Trump accused congressional Democrats on Monday of being “un-American” and perhaps even treasonous for refusing to cheer positive economic news during his State of the Union address. As he spoke, the stock market was plunging toward its largest single-day point drop ever, erasing its gains for the year.
Trump has frequently showcased the strong market as a barometer of his economic success and as a boon for everyday Americans and their retirement accounts. He did not mention the stock market during his speech, nor when reporters shouted questions as he returned to Washington after the markets had closed for the day.
At its close, the Dow Jones industrial average had fallen more than 1,150 points.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders stressed that the nation’s long-term economic fundamentals “remain exceptionally strong,” adding that Trump’s tax cuts and regulatory reforms would “further enhance the U.S. economy and continue to increase prosperity for the American people.”
During his wide-ranging remarks, Trump took special aim at House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi for describing as “crumbs” the bonuses of $1,000 or more that some companies, including the one where he was speaking, are giving their workers as a result of the tax cuts.
Will intelligence agencies stop confiding to Congress?
WASHINGTON — Top intelligence and law enforcement officials warn that last week’s release of a congressional memo alleging FBI surveillance abuse could have wide-ranging repercussions: Spy agencies could start sharing less information with Congress, weakening oversight. Lawmakers will try to declassify more intelligence for political gain. Confidential informants will worry about being outed on Capitol Hill.
The GOP-produced memo released last week contends that when the FBI asked a secret court for a warrant to do surveillance on a former associate in then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign, the bureau relied too heavily on a dossier compiled by an ex-British spy whose opposition research was funded by Democrats.
Critics accuse Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., of abusing his power as chairman of the House intelligence committee to do the president’s bidding and undermine the investigation into whether any Trump campaign associates colluded with Russian during the 2016 election. His office rebuts that claim, saying the real abuse of power was using unverified information bought and paid for by one political campaign to justify government surveillance of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
This isn’t the first time intelligence has been politicized.
Both Democrats and Republicans used the release of the so-called torture report in late 2015 outlining the CIA’s detention and interrogation program as political ammunition. In the 1960s, while intelligence agencies warned that the Vietnam War was being lost, the White House was telling the public the opposite. During the George W. Bush administration, cherry-picked intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction fueled momentum for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Former CIA Director Mike Hayden worries that the memo’s release will damage congressional oversight and the effectiveness of law enforcement.
U.S. Supreme Court allows Pennsylvania to redraw district map
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let a court-ordered redrawing of congressional districts in Pennsylvania proceed, raising Democratic hopes that a revamped map might yield them several more seats this fall.
Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency appeals from Pennsylvania, rejected the request from GOP legislative leaders and voters to put on hold an order from the state Supreme Court intended to produce new congressional districts in the coming two weeks.
The Pennsylvania high court ruled last month that the current map of 18 districts violates the state constitution because it unfairly benefits Republicans.
The decision comes just four days before the Republican-controlled Legislature’s deadline for submitting a replacement map for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to consider. So far, there has been a notable lack of bipartisan movement on getting such a deal.
Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation has been 13-5 in favor of Republicans during the three election cycles since the GOP-drawn 2011 map took effect, and experts have said those 13 seats are several more than would have been produced by a nonpartisan map.
Bloody 24 hours as Syria, Russia escalate attacks
BEIRUT — Syrian opposition rescue teams pulled babies from incubators in a hospital under attack, rushing them to safety in a pick-up truck. Elderly patients lay motionless on the ground and rescue workers searched for survivors in the rubble of a destroyed apartment building as stepped up airstrikes by Syrian government forces and their Russian allies on the country’s last remaining rebel strongholds killed at least 28 civilians on Monday.
“It is like the end of days,” said Raed Saleh, the head of the first-responders known as White Helmets, describing the last 24 hours of attacks on the opposition-held eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta and northwestern Idlib province.
The escalating offensive, which included a suspected chlorine attack a day earlier, reached a new ferocity after insurgents downed a Russian Su-25 over the weekend, the first time they scored such a major hit against the government’s main ally, Moscow.
Russia has waged a punishing aerial campaign against Syria’s armed opposition since intervening in the civil war on the side of its ally, President Bashar Assad, in 2015.
Cease-fire deals have failed to quell the violence or restore humanitarian aid to besieged Ghouta, were 400,000 residents are holed up amid warnings of a looming humanitarian disaster.
“If a Russian plane was downed, revenge should not be on civilians and children,” Saleh said. “Now more than any other day, we need the international community to restore the humanity it has lost in Syria.”
AP Exclusive: 2015 letter belies pope’s claim of ignorance
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis received a victim’s letter in 2015 that graphically detailed how a priest sexually abused him and how other Chilean clergy ignored it, contradicting the pope’s recent insistence that no victims had come forward to denounce the cover-up, the letter’s author and members of Francis’ own sex- abuse commission have told The Associated Press.
The fact that Francis received the eight-page letter, obtained by the AP, challenges his insistence that he has “zero tolerance” for sex abuse and cover-ups. It also calls into question his stated empathy with abuse survivors, compounding the most serious crisis of his five-year papacy.
The scandal exploded last month when Francis’ trip to South America was marred by protests over his vigorous defense of Bishop Juan Barros, who is accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring the abuse by the Rev. Fernando Karadima. During the trip, Francis callously dismissed accusations against Barros as “slander,” seemingly unaware that victims had placed Barros at the scene of Karadima’s crimes.
On the plane home, confronted by an AP reporter, the pope said: “You, in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward.”
But members of the pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors say that in April 2015, they sent a delegation to Rome specifically to hand-deliver a letter to the pope about Barros. The letter from Juan Carlos Cruz detailed the abuse, kissing and fondling he says he suffered at Karadima’s hands, which he said Barros and others saw but did nothing to stop.
Pope defends bishop accused of abuse cover-up
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ appointment of Bishop Juan Barros to head the small diocese of Osorno, Chile, encountered opposition when it was announced three years ago and has contributed to a credibility crisis for the Chilean Catholic Church in the time since.
Barros was a protege of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, a charismatic priest who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for sexually abusing minors.
Some of the victims allege that Barros witnessed the abuse, placing him at the scene when Karadima kissed and fondled minors. Barros has denied knowing of the abuse or covering up for Karadima.
Francis created an uproar while visiting Chile in January, when he called the accusations against Barros “slander.” The pope further insisted he never knew that any of Karadima’s victims had come forward. The Associated Press reported Monday that Francis received an eight-page letter in April 2015 that laid out in detail why abuse victim Juan Carlos Cruz thought Barros was unfit to lead a diocese.