Biden pardons 6 convicted of murder, drug, alcohol crimes

KINGSHILL, U.S. Virgin Islands — President Joe Biden has pardoned six people who have served out sentences after convictions on a murder charge and drug- and alcohol-related crimes, including an 80-year-old woman convicted of killing her abusive husband about a half-century ago and a man who pleaded guilty to using a telephone for a cocaine transaction in the 1970s.

Putin, Xi vow closer ties as Russia bombards Ukraine again

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping vowed Friday to deepen their bilateral cooperation against the backdrop of Moscow’s 10-month war in Ukraine, which weathered another night of drone and rocket attacks following a large-scale missile bombardment.

Maui police officer shoots, kills man holding weapon

KAHULUI, Hawaii (AP) — A Maui officer shot and killed a man who advanced toward him with an unspecified weapon, police said. Officers responded to a report of a suicidal man at a Kahului home Thursday night, according to a Maui police news release. The first officer who arrived found a 29-year-old man wielding a weapon over his head. The officer fired his gun when the man moved toward him, police said. A police spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to an email Friday morning seeking additional details, including the type of weapon the man wielded. The man was taken to a hospital where he died. Police said his identity would be withheld for 24 hours to allow family to notify extended relatives and friends. The officer was put on administrative leave.

EPA finalizes water rule that repeals Trump-era changes

ST. LOUIS — President Biden’s administration on Friday finalized regulations that protect hundreds of thousands of small streams, wetlands and other waterways, repealing a Trump-era rule that federal courts had thrown out and that environmentalists said left waterways vulnerable to pollution.

Israel indicts soldiers for trying to bomb Palestinian home

JERUSALEM — Israel’s military said its prosecutor has filed indictments against two soldiers who allegedly hurled an explosive device at a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank, a rare instance of Israeli troops facing serious charges over an offense against Palestinians.

Los Angeles ballot measure raises hope for housing solution

Los Angeles voters approved a ballot measure in November to address the city’s housing crisis, which has left tens of thousands of people with no place to live, many others priced out of the area, and prompted recently elected mayor, Karen Bass, to declare a state of emergency. The measure, known as United to House LA, or ULA, is designed to provide both immediate protections to vulnerable tenants and to fund longer-term housing solutions.

The pandemic drinking binge just keeps going

The arrival of COVID-19 and the societal disruptions that accompanied it understandably drove a lot of Americans to drink. But even as life has returned to more or less normal this year, the drinking binge has continued. The consumer spending statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis are the timeliest estimates of alcohol consumption available. They show November’s spending on alcoholic beverages, adjusted for inflation and seasonal spending patterns, to have been 3% higher than a year earlier and 15% higher than just before the pandemic. (1)

Burian named acting chief — for less than three weeks

The Hawaii County Police Commission on Thursday unanimously selected Assistant Police Chief Andrew Burian to be the Big Island’s acting chief of police until Honolulu police Maj. Benjamin Moszkowicz is sworn in Jan. 17 as the department’s chief.

Lack of info on China’s COVID-19 surge stirs global concern

BEIJING — Moves by several countries to mandate COVID-19 tests for passengers arriving from China reflect global concern that new variants could emerge in its ongoing explosive outbreak — and that the government may not inform the rest of the world quickly enough.