Divisive social media star Andrew Tate detained in Romania
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian authorities say that divisive social media personality Andrew Tate has been arrested on charges of human trafficking and rape. A spokesperson for Romania’s anti-organized crime agency said Friday that Tate and his brother Tristan were detained late Thursday in the Ilfov area north of Romanian capital Bucharest. Romania’s anti-organized crime agency said two British citizens and two Romanians are accused of being part of an organized crime group, human trafficking and rape. The agency says the British citizens recruited women who were subjected to “acts of physical violence and mental coercion,” sexually exploited and forced to perform pornographic acts intended to reap “important financial benefits.”
New smoking ban starts at Miami Beach parks and beaches
Starting New Year’s Day, you can still wear bikinis on the beaches of Miami Beach, but forget about showing any butts — cigarette butts, that is. A smoking ban goes into effect Sunday at the stroke of midnight at all Miami Beach municipal parks and public beaches. Under the new measure, a violator can be fined $100 and spend up to 60 days in jail. Miami Beach City Commissioner Alex Fernandez says he sponsored the measure to keep the city’s beaches pristine and protect sea turtles, seabirds and other wildlife. According to Ocean Conservancy, cigarette butts are the most commonly recovered item during coastal cleanup efforts.
Drawing nears for $685 million Mega Millions prize
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Lottery players will have a chance to ring in the New Year with a $685 million bonus in their bank account as a drawing is held in the Mega Millions game. There have been 21 straight drawings without a jackpot winner thanks to stiff odds of one in 302.6 million. That has allowed the top prize to grow steadily larger, week after week. The estimated $685 million prize is for a winner who chooses to be paid through an annuity, with annual checks over 29 years. Nearly all winners opt for cash, which for Friday night’s drawing would be an estimated $347.8 million. Mega Millions is played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Alabama to allow concealed guns without permit in 2023
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama on Jan. 1 will become the latest state to allow people to carry a concealed handgun without getting a state permit that requires a background check. The new state law ends the requirement for a person to get a permit to legally carry a concealed handgun in public. A person can still choose to get a permit if they want to do so. The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, which lobbied for the Alabama legislation, said in April that 25 states allow permitless carry.
Tua Tagovailoa officially out with concussion at New England
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has officially been ruled out for Sunday’s game at New England after suffering a concussion last week against Green Bay. Miami coach Mike McDaniel said Friday that Tagovailoa is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol and is day to day as he focuses on his health. Veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will lead Miami in Sunday’s critical division matchup, which will be a factor in whether the Dolphins clinch their first postseason berth since 2016. The Dolphins can clinch the playoffs with a win and a New York Jets loss to Seattle, or a tie combined with a Jets loss and Pittsburgh Steelers loss or tie.
At Southwest Airlines, a day of calm after a week of chaos
DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines is returning to a relatively normal flight schedule as the focus shifts to making things right with what could be well more than a million passengers who missed family connections or flights home during the holidays, and many of whom are still missing luggage. The Dallas carrier, which had canceled thousands of flights every day this week after a winter storm last weekend, reported 43 cancellations early Friday. While that is still more than United, American and Delta combined, it marks a step forward after one of the most chaotic weeks in aviation history for a single airline. Federal regulators have vowed a rigorous review of what happened at Southwest.
Volkswagen recalls Beetles to replace Takata air bags
Volkswagen is recalling nearly 42,000 Beetles in the U.S. and Canada because they have potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators. The recall covers Beetles from the 2015 and 2016 model years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents posted Friday that the inflators can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel. Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to high temperatures and humidity. Since 2009, the exploding air bags have killed at least 33 people worldwide, including 24 in the United States. Dealers will replace the driver’s air bag in the Beetles. Owners will be notified by letter starting Feb. 17.
Curry, Henry, Kupp, Judge among most bet-on athletes of 2022
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Saint Peter’s was among the most profitable teams for sports bettors in 2022. The New Jersey men’s basketball team made a long-shot run to the Elite Eight of the March Madness tournament this year. The New York Yankees, Green Bay Packers and Alabama Crimson Tide were among those who lost money for bettors. Several of the nation’s major sportsbooks provided year-end data on their customers’ biggest winners and losers. Golden State Warriors basketball player Steph Curry, the Los Angeles Rams’ Cooper Kupp and the New York Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge were among the most bet-on athletes of the year.
2023 public domain debuts include last Sherlock Holmes work
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sherlock Holmes is finally free to the American public in 2023. The long-running contested copyright dispute over Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales of a whipsmart detective will finally come to an end as the 1927 copyrights expiring Jan. 1 include Conan Doyle’s last Sherlock Holmes work. Once a work enters the public domain it can legally be shared, performed, reused, repurposed or sampled without permission or cost. Duke University’s Center for the Public Domain highlighted notable releases. Films entering the public domain include the first talkie, “The Jazz Singer” and Fritz Lang’s seminal sci-fi classic “Metropolis.” Musical compositions include “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
South Korea’s unannounced rocket launch causes UFO scare
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s military confirms it test-fired a solid-fueled rocket after its unannounced launch triggered brief public scare of a suspected UFO appearance or a North Korean missile launch. The Defense Ministry says Friday’s rocket launch was part of its efforts to build a space-based surveillance capability. It says it didn’t notify the general public of the launch in advance because it involved sensitive military security issues. Earlier Friday, South Korean social media was abuzz with messages by citizens who said they saw a soaring object, a rainbow-colored vapor trail or other mysterious lights. Some suspected it was a UFO.