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Northeast seeing heavy rain and winds; judges skeptical of Trump’s immunity claims; Titans fire coach Mike Vrabel | Hot off the Wire podcast

On this version of Hot off the Wire:

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A major storm has drenched the Northeast and slammed it with fierce winds, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands. That’s followed a bout of violent weather ranging from snowstorms to tornado reports in other areas of the country. Parts of Long Island in New York were inundated by coastal flooding on Wednesday. In New Jersey, roads were flooded and rivers were rising. The same weather system already brought heavy rain, hail and at least three reported tornadoes to the South. Meanwhile, many areas of Florida face the threat of flooding. And the snowy Midwest is being warned that temperatures could plunge.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris’ aircraft has been forced to divert to a Washington-area airport after encountering stormy weather as she returned from a trip to Georgia. Press secretary Kirsten Allen said in a statement Tuesday night that “Air Force 2 was diverted from Joint Base Andrews to Dulles International Airport due to inclement weather.” A person familiar with the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss it, said the aircraft encountered wind shear as a powerful storm brought high winds and rain to the nation’s capital. Wind shear is a sudden shift in wind direction or speed that can be hazardous during takeoff and landing.

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Federal regulators are extending the grounding of some Boeing jets after an Alaska Airlines plane lost a side panel last week. The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday that guidelines for inspecting the planes for safety are being revised. That’s causing more flight cancellations for Alaska and United Airlines, which can’t use their Boeing 737 Max 9 jets. A panel called a door plug blew off an Alaska jetliner over Oregon last week. The investigation is putting pressure on plane maker Boeing and its key supplier, Spirit AeroSystems.

NFL regular-season games averaged 17.9 million viewers, tied for the second-highest since averages were first tracked in 1995. Buoyed by increases of at least 24% in two of the five packages, the first year of the league’s new television contracts saw a total increase of 7% from last season. The highest average on record is 18.1 million from 2015. Four of the five broadcast and streaming networks saw increases in their overall packages.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — CES 2024 kicks off in Las Vegas this week. The multi-day trade event put on by the Consumer Technology Association is set to feature swaths of the latest advances and gadgets across personal tech, transportation, health care, sustainability and more. Burgeoning uses of artificial intelligence almost everywhere you look. The Associated Press will be keeping a running report of everything we find interesting from the floor of CES, from the most interesting developments in vehicle tech, to wearables designed to improve accessibility to the newest smart home gadgets.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Doctors say Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has prostate cancer and his recent secretive hospitalization was for surgery and later to treat a urinary tract infection related to that operation. The 70-year-old Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Dec. 22 and underwent surgery to treat the cancer. Austin developed the infection a week later. The cancer revelation answers the main question about Austin’s hospitalization, which has now lasted eight days. But it may only add to questions of accountability, since President Joe Biden only learned about the cancer diagnosis on Tuesday, even though it was made about a month ago.

This courtroom sketch depicts former President Donald Trump, right, listening Tuesday as his attorney D. John Sauer, standing, speaks before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals at the federal courthouse in Washington.

Dana Verkouteren

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump says a president “has to have immunity.” But federal appeals court judges in Washington are expressing deep skepticism that he is immune from prosecution on charges that he plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election he lost to Joe Biden. On Tuesday Trump returned to the federal courthouse in Washington for his appeal of charges against him. The three-judge panel also questioned whether they had jurisdiction to consider the appeal at this point in the case, raising the prospect that Trump’s appeal could be dismissed. During lengthy arguments, the judges repeatedly pressed Trump’s lawyer to defend claims that Trump was shielded from criminal charges.

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NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge says the notorious 2005 “Access Hollywood” video in which Donald Trump was caught on a hot mic speaking disparagingly about women over a decade before he became president can be shown to jurors deciding what he owes a columnist he defamed. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in Manhattan made the ruling on Tuesday as he narrowed what lawyers can introduce at the trial starting next week. A jury last May awarded columnist E. Jean Carroll $5 million after concluding she was sexually abused by Trump in 1996 and that he in 2022 defamed her with public denials and insistence that Carroll was lying.

Another NFL head coach loses his job, the Steelers will be without a key player on defense for their playoff game on Sunday at Buffalo and also decide to ride the hot hand at quarterback, and the Pacers are dealing with an injury to an all-star guard.

MIAMI (AP) — A person familiar with the deal confirmed an MLB.com report that the Miami Marlins are in agreement with Yankees minor league manager Rachel Balkovec to become their director of player development. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the deal. Balkovec wrapped up her second season as manager at Class A Tampa in September.. She debuted with the team in April 2022 with a win as the first woman to manage the affiliate of a Major League Baseball team.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have fired coach Mike Vrabel after six seasons with the franchise having won only six of the past 24 games. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement that she told Vrabel of her decision Tuesday morning. She said it was a decision “as difficult as any I’ve made.” The announcement came a day after the Titans cleaned out their lockers with Vrabel not speaking to reporters. It was the first time in the franchise’s 27 seasons in Tennessee the head coach did not talk with reporters since the team moved to the state from Texas. Vrabel was hired in January 2018 and went 56-48 including playoffs.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A judge in Nevada has set bail at $750,000 for a former Los Angeles-area gang leader charged with orchestrating the killing of hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur in 1996. The judge said at a bail hearing Tuesday in Las Vegas that Duane “Keffe D” Davis can serve house arrest ahead of trial. Court-appointed attorneys told The Associated Press they believe he can post that amount. They argue their 60-year-old client is in danger from witnesses and hasn’t been getting needed medical care in jail after battling cancer. Prosecutors argue that Davis has never left gang life, is a threat to witnesses and is a danger to the community.

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says officials at the Arctic prison colony where he is serving a 19-year term have isolated him in a tiny punishment cell over a minor infraction. Navalny said in a social media statement relayed from behind bars that officials accused him of refusing to “introduce himself in line with protocol.” Navalny has been behind bars since January 2021, when he returned to Russia after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin. He has since received three prison terms and spent months in isolation in a penal colony in central Russia for alleged minor infractions. He was transferred last month to the prison above the Arctic Circle.

TOKYO (AP) — The 7.6 magnitude earthquake that hit the western coastline of Japan on New Year’s has killed 206 people as of Wednesday. Eight of the deaths were at evacuation centers, where rescued people died from injuries and sickness. Such deaths weren’t directly caused by the damage from the quakes, fires and mudslides. They happened in alleged safety. Rain and snow warnings were issued for the area. Some 26,000 people whose homes were destroyed or deemed unsafe are staying at schools and other makeshift facilities. Deaths on Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture have climbed daily, as rescue teams pull more bodies from the rubble.

—The Associated Press

About this program

Host Terry Lipshetz is managing editor of the national newsroom for Lee Enterprises. Besides producing the daily Hot off the Wire news podcast, Terry conducts periodic interviews for this Behind the Headlines program, co-hosts the Streamed & Screened movies and television program and is the former producer of Across the Sky, a podcast dedicated to weather and climate.

Lee Enterprises produces many national, regional and sports podcasts. Learn more here.

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