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US, UK launch strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen: The Morning Rundown, Jan. 12, 2024

Jan 12

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The United States launches large-scale retaliatory airstrikes against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. And eBay agrees to pay a $3 million fine in connection to a harassment scheme. These stories and more highlight The Morning Rundown for Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.

U.S. launches retaliatory strikes against Houthis in Yemen

The United States led a massive retaliatory attack against Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen on Thursday, Jan. 11, striking over 60 targets. The Houthis said Friday morning that the strikes by the U.S. and the United Kingdom killed at least five people and wounded six.

U.S. officials said the airstrikes targeted 16 sites, hitting ammunition depots, launching systems, and air defense radar systems. The strikes marked the U.S.’s first military response to the Houthis’ persistent attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

Though the U.S. and a dozen other nations issued a warning to the Houthi militant group last week, just days later, the U.S. and U.K. forces shot down a barrage of drones and missiles fired by the Houthi rebels in the group’s largest assault yet.

“These strikes are in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea — including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles for the first time in history,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.

The president added that he will not hesitate to take further measures to protect U.S. personnel and the flow of international commerce from Houthi attacks if necessary. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a statement as well as he recovers in the hospital after complications from cancer treatment. Austin said the United States has a right to self-defense.

Trump delivers closing argument in New York civil fraud trial

On the final day of his $370 million civil fraud trial in New York, former President Donald Trump ended up speaking during closing arguments without ever agreeing to the terms set up by the judge. One day earlier, Judge Arthur Engoron told Trump’s legal team that the former president could only speak on his behalf if he focused on ‘relevant, material facts,” did not turn it into a campaign speech, and refrained from criticizing New York Attorney General Letitia James.

James accused Trump of falsifying financial statements to gain more favorable loans. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. Though Trump’s attorney did not agree to the judge’s terms, the former president delivered a five-minute address to the court on Thursday, Jan. 11, while seated at the defense table.

Trump said he’s an innocent man and claimed he’s being persecuted by someone running for office. Trump spoke out against the judge, saying he had his own agenda and called the lawsuit a political witch hunt. James responded to the remarks after the proceedings, saying her case has never been about politics. The judge is expected to rule in the case by Jan. 31.

Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to tax charges

One day after the president’s son, Hunter Biden, sent the House Oversight Committee into hysteria, sitting front row at his contempt of Congress hearing, Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to federal tax evasion charges in Los Angeles on Thursday, Jan. 11. Charged with 9 felony and misdemeanor counts of tax evasion, the president’s son is accused of not paying $1.4 billion in taxes between 2016 and 2019, despite allegedly earning more than $7 million and spending millions on drugs and escorts.

If convicted, Hunter Biden could face up to 17 years in prison; the trial is set to start on June 20. Biden is also facing federal criminal charges in Delaware, accused of lying about his illegal drug use to buy a gun, those charges carrying a penalty of up to 10 years.

More criminal charges could be coming as the full House gets ready to vote on the contempt of Congress resolution against Hunter Biden. If approved, the Department of Justice would decide whether to prosecute. Biden’s legal team called the tax charges persecution, adding that Hunter has been the target of the investigation because of his last name and that he has paid his back taxes.

FAA launches investigation of Boeing after panel incident

The Federal Aviation Administration has alerted Boeing that it has begun a formal investigation following the scare aboard an Alaska Airlines plane last week that saw a panel blow off midflight, forcing an emergency landing. Shortly thereafter, the FAA grounded 171 of Boeing’s 737 Max 9 jets, operated mainly in the U.S. by Alaska and United Airlines. The FAA sent a letter to Boeing about its investigation, saying the incident “should have never happened, and it cannot happen again.”

The FAA said its investigation will determine if Boeing’s manufacturing practices comply with safety standards, citing “additional discrepancies” in other Max 9 planes. Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating why the panel flew off. Boeing’s CEO said the company plans to cooperate fully with both investigations.

eBay to pay $3 million penalty in harassment case

Online retailer eBay has agreed to pay a $3 million penalty in connection to a harassment and stalking case that saw a Massachusetts couple receive strange deliveries, including live insects and a bloody pig mask. Seven employees and contractors were convicted in the harassment scheme conducted in 2019, which the Justice Department said stemmed from the victims criticizing eBay in their e-commerce newsletter.

eBay engaged in absolutely horrific, criminal conduct.

United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy

Prosecutors said eBay executives and other employees carried out an intimidation campaign against David and Ina Steiner that included threatening the couple on Twitter using fake accounts, installing a GPS device on the couple’s car, and publicly posting the victims’ address to encourage strangers to visit for sexual encounters.

“eBay engaged in absolutely horrific, criminal conduct. The company’s employees and contractors involved in this campaign put the victims through pure hell, in a petrifying campaign aimed at silencing their reporting and protecting the eBay brand,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. 

The couple was also sent a book on surviving the loss of a loved one and odd packages, including live spiders and a funeral wreath. Under the terms of the agreement, eBay will retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for three years. In a statement, eBay said the company has taken full responsibility for the conduct of its former employees and continues to extend its deepest apologies to the Steiners.

NFL star angered over NFL streaming deal giving away free subscriptions

For the first time in NFL history, a playoff game will air exclusively on a paid streaming platform this weekend. Not all fans are happy about that, and not all players are either. One player in particular is doing something about it.

Charles Omenihu of the Kansas City Chiefs spoke out on social media earlier this week about his disapproval of his team’s game against the Miami Dolphins airing only on NBC’s streaming service Peacock, calling the move “insane.” Last year, NBC struck a $110 million deal with the NFL that gave Peacock the exclusive rights to a Wild Card Weekend playoff game.

The Chiefs defensive end decided to reach out to Peacock directly on X, saying he had an idea about making it right. A couple of days later, Omenihu announced he was giving away free Peacock subscriptions so more fans could watch the game, 90 subscriptions in total, a nod to his jersey number. To qualify, you just had to respond to his social post. Omenihu said fans would learn if they won by Friday, Jan. 12.

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THE UNITED STATES LAUNCHES LARGE-SCALE RETALIATORY AIRSTRIKES AGAINST THE IRAN-BACKED HOUTHIS IN YEMEN

AND — EBAY AGREES TO PAY THREE MILLION DOLLARS IN CONNECTION TO A HARASSMENT SCHEME

THE MORNING RUNDOWN STARTS NOW.

TODAY IS FRIDAY, JANUARY 12TH

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

I’M KARAH RUCKER.

THE UNITED STATES LED A MASSIVE RETALIATORY ATTACK AGAINST IRAN-BACKED HOUTHI MILITANTS IN YEMEN ON THURSDAY – STRIKING OVER 60 TARGETS.

HOUTHIS SAYING THIS MORNING – THE STRIKES BY THE U.S. AND THE UNITED KINGDOM KILLED AT LEAST FIVE PEOPLE.

US OFFICIALS SAY THE AIRSTRIKES TARGETED 16 SITES HITTING MUNITION DEPOTS, LAUNCHING SYSTEMS AND AIR DEFENSE RADAR SYSTEMS.

THIS MARKED THE U.S.’S FIRST MILITARY RESPONSE TO THE HOUTHIS’ PERSISTENT ATTACKS ON COMMERCIAL VESSELS IN THE RED SEA SINCE THE START OF THE ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR.

THE U.S. ISSUED A WARNING TO THE MILITANT GROUP LAST WEEK – JUST DAYS LATER THE U.S. AND U.K. FORCES SHOT DOWN A BARRAGE OF DRONES AND MISSILES FIRED BY THE HOUTHIS  – IN THE GROUP’S LARGEST ASSAULT YET.

IN A STATEMENT PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN SAID

“THESE STRIKES ARE IN DIRECT RESPONSE TO UNPRECEDENTED HOUTHI ATTACKS AGAINST INTERNATIONAL MARITIME VESSELS IN THE RED SEA — INCLUDING THE USE OF ANTI-SHIP BALLISTIC MISSILES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY.”

THE PRESIDENT ADDED THAT HE WILL NOT HESITATE TO TAKE FURTHER MEASURES TO PROTECT U.S. PERSONNEL AND THE FLOW OF INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE.

DEFENSE SECRETARY LLOYD AUSTIN – ISSUED A STATEMENT AS WELL – AS HE RECOVERS IN THE HOSPITAL AFTER COMPLICATIONS FROM CANCER TREATMENT. AUSTIN SAYING THE UNITED STATES HAS A RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE.

ON THE FINAL DAY OF HIS 370 MILLION DOLLAR CIVIL FRAUD TRIAL IN NEW YORK – DONALD TRUMP DID END UP SPEAKING DURING CLOSING ARGUMENTS. THE JUDGE ALLOWED THE FORMER PRESIDENT TO SPEAK DESPITE TRUMP NEVER AGREEING TO THE JUDGE’S TERMS ON WHAT HE COULD SAY.

THE FORMER PRESIDENT DELIVERED A FIVE-MINUTE ADDRESS TO THE COURT ON THURSDAY WHILE SEATED AT THE DEFENSE TABLE.

TRUMP SAID HE’S AN INNOCENT MAN – CLAIMING HE’S BEING PERSECUTED BY SOMEONE RUNNING FOR OFFICE.

HE SPOKE OUT AGAINST THE JUDGE – SAYING HE HAD HIS OWN AGENDA AND CALLED THE LAWSUIT A POLITICAL WITCH HUNT.

TRUMP IS ACCUSED OF FALSIFYING FINANCIAL STATEMENTS TO GAIN MORE FAVORABLE LOANS.  TRUMP HAS DENIED ANY WRONGDOING.

NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL LETITIA JAMES RESPONDED TO THE REMARKS TRUMP — SAYING HER CASE HAS NEVER BEEN ABOUT POLITICS.

THE JUDGE IS EXPECTED TO MAKE A RULING IN THE CASE BY THE END OF THE MONTH.

A DAY AFTER HUNTER BIDEN MADE A SURPRISE APPEARANCE ON CAPITOL HILL AS REPUBLICANS LOOK TO HOLD HIM IN CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS —

THE PRESIDENT’S SON WAS ON THE OPPOSITE COAST —

PLEADING NOT GUILTY TO FEDERAL TAX EVASION CHARGES IN A LOS ANGELES COURTROOM.

HUNTER BIDEN IS CHARGED WITH 9 FELONY AND MISDEMEANOR COUNTS OF TAX EVASION.

HE IS ACCUSED OF NOT PAYING 1-POINT4 MILLION DOLLARS IN TAXES BETWEEN 20-16 AND 20-19 DESPITE ALLEGEDLY EARNING MORE THAN 7-MILLION DOLLARS AND SPENDING MILLIONS ON DRUGS AND ESCORTS.

HUNTER BIDEN’S LEGAL TEAM CALLING THE TAX CHARGES – “PERSECUTION” – ADDING THAT HE HAS BEEN THE TARGET OF THE INVESTIGATION BECAUSE OF HIS LAST NAME.

AND THAT HE HAS PAID HIS BACK TAXES.

IF CONVICTED, HUNTER BIDEN COULD FACE UP TO 17 YEARS IN PRISON. THE TRIAL IS SET TO BEGIN IN JUNE.

HUNTER BIDEN IS ALSO FACING FEDERAL CRIMINAL CHARGES IN DELAWARE WHERE HE IS ACCUSED OF LYING ABOUT HIS ILLEGAL DRUG USE TO PURCHASE A GUN — WITH  A PENALTY OF UP TO 10 YEARS.

AND MORE CRIMINAL CHARGES COULD BE COMING AS THE HOUSE GETS READY TO VOTE ON THE CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS RESOLUTION AGAINST HUNTER BIDEN, IF APPROVED THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WOULD DECIDE WHETHER TO PROSECUTE.

THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION HAS ALERTED BOEING IT HAS BEGUN A FORMAL INVESTIGATION FOLLOWING THE SCARE ABOARD AN ALASKA AIRLINES PLANE LAST WEEK – THAT SAW A CABIN BLOW OFF MIDFLIGHT – FORCING AN EMERGENCY LANDING.

SHORTLY THEREAFTER — THE FAA GROUNDED 171 OF BOEING’S 7-37 MAX 9 JETS – OPERATED MOSTLY IN THE U.S. BY ALASKA AND UNITED AIRLINES.

THE FAA SENT A LETTER TO BOEING ABOUT ITS INVESTIGATION – SAYING THE INCIDENT “SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED AND IT CANNOT HAPPEN AGAIN.”

THE FAA SAID ITS INVESTIGATION WILL DETERMINE IF BOEING’S MANUFACTURING PRACTICES COMPLY WITH SAFETY STANDARDS – CITING “ADDITIONAL DISCREPANCIES” IN OTHER MAX 9 PLANES.

THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD IS ALSO INVESTIGATING.

BOEING’S CEO SAID THE COMPANY WILL COOPERATE FULLY WITH BOTH INVESTIGATIONS.

EBAY HAS AGREED TO PAY A THREE MILLION DOLLAR PENALTY IN CONNECTION TO A HARASSMENT AND STALKING CASE THAT SAW A MASSACHUSETTS COUPLE RECEIVE STRANGE DELIVERIES INCLUDING LIVE INSECTS AND A BLOODY PIG MASK.

SEVEN EBAY EMPLOYEES AND CONTRACTORS WERE CONVICTED IN THE HARASSMENT SCHEME CONDUCTED IN 2019 –

THAT THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SAID STEMMED FROM THE VICTIMS CRITICIZING EBAY ONLINE.

PROSECUTORS SAY EBAY EXECUTIVES AND OTHER EMPLOYEES CARRIED OUT AN “INTIMIDATION CAMPAIGN” AGAINST DAVID AND INA (EYE-NA) STEINER (STY-NER) THAT INCLUDED THREATENING THE COUPLE ON TWITTER, INSTALLING A GPS DEVICE ON THEIR CAR – AND PUBLICLY POSTING THEIR ADDRESS TO ENCOURAGE STRANGERS TO VISIT FOR SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS.

THE COUPLE WAS ALSO SENT AN ARRAY OF ODD PACKAGES – LIVE SPIDERS. A FUNERAL WREATH. AND A BOOK ON SURVIVING THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE.

UNDER THE TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT – EBAY HAS ALSO AGREED FOR ITS CONDUCT TO BE MONITORED FOR THREE YEARS.

IN A STATEMENT – EBAY SAID THE COMPANY HAS TAKEN FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONDUCT OF ITS FORMER EMPLOYEES AND CONTINUES TO EXTEND ITS DEEPEST APOLOGIES.

FINALLY THIS MORNING – FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NFL HISTORY – A PLAYOFF GAME WILL AIR EXCLUSIVELY ON A PAID STREAMING PLATFORM THIS WEEKEND – AND NOT ALL FANS ARE HAPPY ABOUT THAT. IN FACT, NOT ALL PLAYERS ARE EITHER –

AND ONE IN PARTICULAR IS DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

CHARLES OMENIHU (O-MEN-EH-HEW) OF THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS SPOKE OUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA EARLIER THIS WEEK ABOUT HIS DISAPPROVAL OF HIS TEAM’S GAME AGAINST THE MIAMI DOLPHINS AIRING ONLY ON NBC’S STREAMING SERVICE PEACOCK –

LAST YEAR – NBC STRUCK A $110 MILLION DEAL WITH THE NFL THAT GAVE PEACOCK THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS TO A WILD CARD WEEKEND PLAYOFF GAME.

THE CHIEFS DEFENSIVE END DECIDED TO REACH OUT TO PEACOCK DIRECTLY ON X SAYING THAT HE HAD AN IDEA ABOUT MAKING IT RIGHT.

A COUPLE OF DAYS LATER — OMENIHU ANNOUNCED HE WAS GIVING AWAY FREE PEACOCK SUBSCRIPTIONS SO MORE FANS COULD WATCH THE GAME – 90 SUBSCRIPTIONS IN TOTAL – A NOD TO HIS JERSEY NUMBER.

TO QUALIFY – YOU JUST HAD TO RESPOND TO HIS SOCIAL POST.

OMENIHU SAID FANS WOULD LEARN IF THEY WON BY TODAY.

THESE ARE YOUR TOP STORIES FOR THIS FRIDAY.

WE’LL SEE YOU BACK HERE MONDAY.

UNTIL THEN I’M KARAH RUCKER. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

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