Judge won't dismiss
case against Weinstein
A New York judge declined to dismiss sexual assault charges against Harvey Weinstein on Thursday, rejecting the disgraced Hollywood titan's fierce push to have his indictment thrown out.
Judge James Burke's ruling buoyed a prosecution that appeared on rocky ground in recent months amid a prolonged defense effort to raise doubts about the case and the police investigation.
It was also welcome news for the #MeToo movement, which took off last year after numerous women accused Weinstein of wrongdoing. About a half-dozen women, including actress Marisa Tomei, showed up to court wearing T-shirts from the anti-abuse organization Time's Up.
Putin issues warning
about nuclear threat
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a chilling warning Thursday about the rising threat of a nuclear war, putting the blame squarely on the U.S., which he accused of irresponsibly pulling out of arms control treaties.
Speaking at his annual news conference, Putin warned that "it could lead to the destruction of civilization as a whole and maybe even our planet."
He pointed at Washington's intention to walk away from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, and its reluctance to negotiate the extension of the 2010 New START agreement, which expires in 2021 unless the two countries agree to extend it. "We are witnessing the breakup of the arms control system," he said.
US indictment targets
alleged Chinese hackers
U.S. officials on Thursday said two alleged Chinese hackers carried out an extensive campaign on behalf of Beijing's main intelligence agency to steal trade secrets and other information from government agencies and "a who's who" of major corporations in the United States and nearly a dozen other nations.
The indictment is the latest in a series of Justice Department criminal cases targeting Chinese cyberespionage and coincided with an announcement by Britain blaming China's Ministry of State Security for trade-secret pilfering affecting Western nations.
House panel releases
transcript to Mueller
The House Intelligence Committee voted Thursday to release a transcript of Roger Stone's closed-door interview with the committee last year after special counsel Robert Mueller requested it, according to two people familiar with the vote.
The panel's unanimous vote comes as the longtime confidant of President Donald Trump is under investigation in Mueller's Russia probe, and it could be an indication that the special counsel is considering using the transcript to support criminal charges against Stone. The Justice Department generally needs official action from Congress to use congressional transcripts in charges against someone.
Facebook removes fake
news sites before vote
Facebook is shutting down a series of fake news sites spreading false information about the Bangladesh opposition days before national elections, an official from the social media platform said Thursday
The sites — nine Facebook pages designed to mimic legitimate news outlets, as well as six fake personal accounts spreading anti-opposition propaganda — were created by Bangladeshis with government ties, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, told the AP in an exclusive interview.
The sites would be shut down "for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior" by Thursday evening at the latest, he said by telephone from California.
Democrats plan debates
for presidential primary
Democrats will hold at least a dozen presidential primary debates starting in June 2019 and running through April 2020, with party Chairman Tom Perez promising rules that will give everyone in a potentially large field a fair shot at voters' attention.
Making public his first in a series of decisions on the 2020 debate calendar, Perez said Thursday that the national party will sponsor six debates in 2019 and six more in 2020. That could be extended if the nomination process drags deep into the spring.
Exact dates, locations, media partners and qualifying thresholds will be announced in early 2019.
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA
Lander sets monitor
for Mars earthquakes
NASA's new Mars lander has placed a quake monitor on the planet's dusty red surface, just a few weeks after its arrival.
Mars 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 called the milestone "an awesome Christmas present."
It's the first time a robotic arm has lowered an experiment onto the Martian surface.
Beacon Journal/Ohio.com wires