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Trump declines to rule out abusing power; Tuberville ends blockade of military promotions; Yankees, Red Sox make rare trade

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On the version of Hot off the Wire posted Dec. 6 at 6:30 a.m. CT:

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is declining to rule out abusing power if he again wins the presidency. Trump has talked about targeting his rivals and has referred to them as vermin. Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity asked Trump on Tuesday night to respond to growing Democratic criticism of his rhetoric, asking if he would promise that he “would never abuse power as retribution against anybody.” Trump responded, “Except for day one.” President Joe Biden has stepped up his warnings about Trump, contending Trump is “determined to destroy American democracy.”

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The shrinking field of Republican presidential hopefuls are preparing to gather on a debate stage for the fourth time this year. The debate Wednesday at the University of Alabama will be their last meeting before the Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential nominating season next month. Four candidates will be on stage, but front-runner Donald Trump will not be among them. The former president has skipped all the debates to avoid giving his trailing rivals more attention.

On Tuesday, Israel’s military entered Gaza’s second-largest city in its pursuit to wipe out the territory’s Hamas rulers. The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry says the territory's death toll has surpassed 16,200. Around 1,200 people have died on the Israeli side, mainly civilians killed during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Air Force Special Operations Command has recovered the remains of six of the eight service members who were lost when their Osprey aircraft crashed off the coast of Japan last week. It says it is focused on recovering the two bodies still missing and the aircraft debris. The crew ranged from 24 to 36 years old and came from eight states: California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Utah. Their commander says the sorrow among the small Air Force Special Operations community “is immeasurable.” President Joe Biden says he and first lady Jill Biden are heartbroken by the loss. Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida shared a condolence message with Biden.

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis says he's “much better” after a two-week bout of bronchitis but says speaking still makes him tired. Francis asked an aide to read his remarks at his weekly general audience Wednesday. Francis turns 87 on Dec. 17 and had part of one lung removed as a young man. He came down with the flu on Nov. 25 and was forced to cancel a planned trip to Dubai to participate in the U.N. climate conference. He later revealed he had been diagnosed with an acute case of infectious bronchitis that made breathing difficult.

Former President Donald Trump’s civil business fraud trial has turned to one of the topics that has vexed him most — the disputed value of his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Palm Beach luxury real estate broker Lawrence Moens took the stand for Trump's defense Tuesday. Moens played a glimmering video of the historic waterfront estate and testified that he’d value it at over $1 billion as of 2021. State Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit claims that Trump and his company deceived lenders and others by giving them financial statements that greatly overstated the values of some of his prime assets, including by listing Mar-a-Lago at up to $612 million. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

BOSTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has told campaign donors that he isn’t sure he’d be running for reelection if Donald Trump wasn’t also in the race. Biden warned Tuesday that democracy is “more at risk in 2024” and that the former president and his allies are out to “destroy” democratic institutions. Biden is using a trio of fundraisers to caution against what might happen should Trump again claim control of the White House. He noted that Trump has described himself as his supporters’ “retribution” and has vowed to root out “vermin” in the country.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate in a single stroke has approved about 425 military promotions after Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama ended a monthslong blockade of nominations over a Pentagon abortion policy. Tuberville had been under pressure from members of both sides of the political aisle to end his holds as senators complained about the toll it was taking on service members and their families, and on military readiness. Tuberville said holds would continue, however, for about 11 of the highest-ranking military officers. President Joe Biden calls the Senate’s action long overdue and says the military confirmations should never have been held up.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris has set the record for the most Senate tiebreaker votes, topping a nearly 200-year-old mark by casting her 32nd to help confirm a new federal judge in Washington, D.C. The previous recordholder was John C. Calhoun, who cast 31 tiebreaker votes during his eight years as vice president, from 1825 to 1832. Harris tied Calhoun's record in July and broke it Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calls the fellow Democrat's vote a “great milestone.” Casting tiebreaker votes is among the only constitutional duties for vice presidents. Harris has been repeatedly called on to break deadlocks because the Senate is so closely divided between Democrats and Republicans.

The Bucks and Lakers advance, two top ten college basketball teams meet in New York, San Jose Sharks rally to beat the New York Islanders, the NCAA wants more benefits paid towards Division one athletes.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The New York Yankees have made a rare trade with the rival Boston Red Sox, acquiring outfielder Alex Verdugo for right-handers Greg Weissert, Richard Fitts and Nicholas Judice. It was just the eighth trade between the teams since Major League Baseball split into divisions in 1969. Verdugo, a 27-year-old left-handed hitter, batted .264 with 13 homers, 54 RBIs and a .745 OPS this year in his fourth season with the Red Sox.

NEW YORK (AP) — Remember what you searched for in 2023? Well, Wikipedia has the receipts. English Wikipedia raked in more than 84 billion views this year. That's according to numbers collected by the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit behind the free, publicly edited online encyclopedia. And the most popular article was about ChatGPT (yes, the AI chatbot that’s seemingly everywhere today). The second most-read article on Wikipedia in 2023 was the annual list of deaths, which sees high traffic year after year. Meanwhile, the highly anticipated 2023 Cricket World Cup took third place — and “Barbenheimer,” Taylor Swift and more also appeared to sway our 2023 internet-reading habits.

—The Associated Press

About this program

Host Terry Lipshetz is a senior producer 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 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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