House Ethics Committee reportedly clears Rep. Raul Grijalva of wrongdoing


WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee has reportedly cleared Rep. Raul Grijalva of wrongdoing related to a $48,000 settlement paid to a female staffer in 2015.


The Arizona Democrat settled with the former staffer in 2015 after she accused him of creating a hostile work environment and being intoxicated and left Grijalva’s office after working there just three months.


The House Ethics letter, dated Dec. 14 and first reported by The Hill, says that the committee was dismissing the complaint against Grijalva related to the payment.


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke brought up the drinking issue in a tweet after Grijalva criticized Zinke’s stewardship of the department, saying, “It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle.”


Zinke announced Saturday he is resigning from his post as investigations into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest have dogged him.


Grijalva is expected to take over as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the Interior Department. Grijalva’s office said over the weekend that it intends to ask for Zinke to testify in hearings after the new Congress convenes.


— CQ-Roll Call

Man charged with attempted murder, accused of pushing another man onto Chicago subway tracks


CHICAGO — A man has been charged with attempted murder after police say he pushed another man onto Chicago’s CTA Blue Line tracks at a Loop subway station over the weekend.


Isiah Cirton, 30, is accused of pushing a 32-year-old man onto the southbound tracks of the Jackson stop in the 300 block of South Dearborn Street around 10:45 p.m. Sunday, according to Officer Hector Alfaro, a Chicago police spokesman.


The man was stabilized at Northwestern Hospital. Police did not release further information.


Cirton, of the 1400 block of South Canal Street, was ordered held without bond. His next court appearance is Christmas Eve, according to jail records.


— Chicago Tribune

Man hacks into Houston couple’s baby monitor and threatens to kidnap their son


DALLAS — A Houston-area couple was frightened Monday night when someone hacked into a camera they use to monitor their infant son and threatened to kidnap him.


Nathan and Ellen Rigney were asleep just before midnight when they heard noises from the room. When they turned on their bedroom light, a Nest camera in their room turned on and a man’s voice told them to turn the light off, KPRC-TV reported.


“Then (he) said ‘I’m going to kidnap your baby. I’m in your baby’s room,’” Ellen Rigney told the station.


The couple realized the man wasn’t actually in the child’s room but had hacked into the camera, which uses Wi-Fi and has a built-in speaker and microphone.


The Rigneys shut off their Wi-Fi and switched to a camera that doesn’t use it, KPRC reported.


They were just the latest victims of baby-monitor hacking. In 2013, a man yelled profane comments at a Houston couple’s toddler through her baby monitor, ABC News reported.


Experts warn that Wi-Fi monitors often have vulnerabilities that leave them open to hacking. Some hackers look for devices in which the factory username and password are still in use, NPR reported.


— Dallas Morning News

Brazilian judge revokes decision that raised hopes of Lula’s release


BOGOTA, Colombia — Brazil’s Supreme Court chief justice on Wednesday suspended a decision announced by another of the court’s judges to free prisoners who have appeals pending, dealing a blow to hopes that former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva could be released.


The ruling by Justice Jose Antonio Dias Toffoli came hours after Justice Marco Aurelio Mello had ordered the release of inmates whose judicial processes were not finished, except for those in preventive custody.


Lula’s lawyers immediately filed a request for his release at a court in the southern city of Curitiba, where he is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption.


Toffoli revoked Mello’s decision in response to an appeal by Attorney General Raquel Dodge, who argued that jailing people with appeals pending was in line with the constitution, according to news agency Agencia Brasil.


The ruling by the Supreme Court president is only valid until April 10, when it is due to be handled by the court plenary session, the agency reported.


Lula’s Workers’ Party had earlier said it hoped he could be released as early as Wednesday.


The center-right Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) then also announced an appeal against Mello’s order, saying the release of prisoners with sentences pending would create “risks for society.”


Lula was jailed on April 7 after having been found guilty of corruption and money-laundering. This prevented him from contesting the October presidential election, which he had been expected to win.


Brazil has about 150,000 prison inmates with appeals pending, according to figures quoted by newspaper O Globo.


— dpa