The nation in brief

Posted: January 24, 2018 at 3:53 a.m.
Updated: January 24, 2018 at 3:53 a.m.

Lawmaker: Acted

out, didn't harass

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, a Pennsylvania Republican who settled a former aide's sexual harassment complaint with taxpayer money, said Tuesday that he developed a deep affection for the aide and reacted badly when she began dating another man but never harassed her or pursued a romantic relationship.

Meehan said he intends to run for re-election in his suburban Philadelphia district and maintained that he did nothing wrong.

The four-term Republican, who is 62 and married, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he once told the woman that he saw her as a "soul mate" and reacted "selfishly" when he discovered the decades-younger woman was in a serious relationship with another man.

The complaint by the former aide came to light Saturday in a New York Times report that cited unnamed people.

The settlement had been kept secret, and Meehan's office has declined to answer repeated questions about how much taxpayer money Meehan paid out in it. The accuser's lawyer, Alexis Ronickher, has called the allegations "well-grounded" and a "serious sexual harassment claim."

The development comes after four other members of Congress have either resigned or said they won't run again amid complaints from women about sexual misconduct.

Tsunami warning

awakens Alaskans

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A magnitude-7.9 undersea earthquake sent Alaskans racing to evacuation centers in the middle of the night after a cellphone alert warned that a tsunami could hit communities along the state's southern coast and parts of British Columbia.

The monster waves never materialized, but people who fled endured hours of tense waiting at shelters before they were cleared to return home.

The quake in the Gulf of Alaska triggered the alert that roused people shortly after midnight Tuesday. Fleeing motorists clogged some highways in their rush to higher ground. Many took refuge at schools or other shelters.

There were no reports of damage, not even on Kodiak Island, the closest land to the epicenter.

Tuesday's quake was recorded at 12:32 a.m. in the Pacific Ocean about 170 miles southeast of Kodiak, home to one of the nation's largest Coast Guard bases.

Panel says vaping

portal to smoking

WASHINGTON -- A national panel of public health experts concluded in a report released Tuesday that vaping nicotine-containing e-cigarettes can be addictive and that teenagers who use the devices may be put at higher risk of switching to traditional smoking.

While the industry argues that vaping is not a steppingstone to conventional cigarettes or addiction, some anti-smoking advocates contend that young people become hooked on nicotine and are enticed to use to cancer-causing tobacco-based cigarettes over time.

The new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is the most comprehensive analysis of existing research on e-cigarettes. It concluded that the devices are safer than traditional smoking products and that they do help smokers quit, citing conclusive evidence that switching can reduce smokers' exposure to deadly tar, numerous dangerous chemicals and other carcinogens.

But it stopped short of declaring that e-cigarettes are safe, noting that there are no long-term scientific studies of the devices' addictive potential or their effects on the heart, lungs or on reproduction.

A Section on 01/24/2018