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Melania Trump makes first lady history with ride in Osprey

Melania Trump makes first lady history with ride in Osprey HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — Melania Trump made history Wednesday by flying in a V-22 Osprey aircraft and onto the deck of an aircraft carrier.


Chinese state media urges Canada to defy U.S., free Huawei exec

Chinese state media urges Canada to defy U.S., free Huawei exec SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Canada should distance itself from U.S. "hegemonism" and grant unconditional freedom to Meng Wanzhou, a top executive of China's Huawei detained in Vancouver on Washington's request, state-owned tabloid Global Times said in a Thursday editorial. Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, has been accused by U.S. prosecutors of misleading banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating sanctions. The United States needs to make a formal extradition request within 60 days of her arrest, which a Canadian judge will weigh to determine whether the case against Meng is strong enough.


Lawmaker arrested for child cruelty says he spanked daughter

Lawmaker arrested for child cruelty says he spanked daughter SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California lawmaker arrested on suspicion of child cruelty said Wednesday the allegation stemmed from spanking his 7-year-old daughter.


Jailed former Venezuela oil minister dies in state custody

Jailed former Venezuela oil minister dies in state custody CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Nelson Martinez, the jailed former head of Venezuela's state-run oil giant PDVSA who was arrested last year as part of anti-corruption purge, died in state custody Wednesday, authorities said.


4th conviction in Los Angeles murder of Chinese student

4th conviction in Los Angeles murder of Chinese student LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 21-year-old man was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder in the beating death of a University of Southern California graduate student from China.


Love Triangle, Not Alligators, Caused Florida Man's Death, Confessed Killer Testifies

Love Triangle, Not Alligators, Caused Florida Man's Death, Confessed Killer Testifies A Florida man testified this week about fatally shooting his best friend ― who


U.S. tribunal to review ruling on Qualcomm request for iPhone ban

U.S. tribunal to review ruling on Qualcomm request for iPhone ban The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) said on Wednesday it would review a ruling that a ban on imports of some iPhones into the United States was not in the public interest, even if Apple Inc infringed a Qualcomm patent. Apple and Qualcomm are locked in a wide-ranging legal dispute in which Apple has accused Qualcomm of unfair patent licensing practices. Qualcomm has in turn accused Apple of patent infringement.


Turkey vows to take on US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria

Turkey vows to take on US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey will launch a new military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria "within a few days," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday, a move likely to further strain ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States.


The Geminid meteor shower peaks this week, and it'll be a special one

The Geminid meteor shower peaks this week, and it'll be a special one Get ready for what might be the best meteor shower of 2018.  The Geminid meteor shower, which peaks late at night on Thursday into the wee hours of the morning Friday, could bring more than 100 meteors per hour to light pollution-free skies in dark areas around the world, according to NASA. That's a whole bunch of meteors. "If you can see the familiar winter constellations Orion and Gemini in the sky, you'll see some Geminids," NASA explained in a skywatching video. "Expect to see up to 120 meteors per hour from a dark sky location, but only after the first quarter moon sets around midnight your local time. From the Southern Hemisphere, observers should see fewer but still plenty of medium-speed meteors once Gemini rises above the horizon after midnight local time." Perhaps the best thing about a meteor shower is you don't need any special gear to see it. All you need to do is bundle up and head out to a dark area with little cloud cover and an unobstructed view of the sky to see the shooting stars.  Even if you're in a light-polluted part of the world, you still might be able to see at least a handful of meteors per hour. If you can't leave a city, try to find a dark park or a somewhere with as little artificial light as possible and get comfortable. Patience is your best friend when watching a meteor shower.  Grab a warm jacket or blanket and plan to camp out for quite a few hours to see as many meteors as you can. And remember, it takes about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.  The Geminid meteor shower comes along once per year when the Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, making it somewhat unique.  Usually, meteor showers are sparked by comets, which slough off a fair bit of debris during their trips around the sun.  SEE ALSO: Unique gifts for your friend that's obsessed with skywatching Scientists think that 3200 Phaethon — which orbits the sun every 1.4 Earth years — could be a "dead comet," according to NASA, meaning it doesn't develop a comet's distinctive tail when it gets close to the sun and looks somewhat like an asteroid.  That said, the object has a strange, elliptical orbit which suggests a cometary origin, NASA added. "Due to its close approach to the sun, Phaethon is named after the character of Greek myth who drove the sun-god Helios' chariot," NASA said.  "Phaethon is a small asteroid — its diameter measures only 3.17 miles (5.10 kilometers) across. It was astronomer Fred Whipple who realized that Phaethon is the source for the Geminid meteors." WATCH: Finding alien life won't cause chaos and panic, according to scientists


It’s All About Modi as India Prepares for Mammoth 2019 Election

It’s All About Modi as India Prepares for Mammoth 2019 Election Four-and-a-half years after crushing the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty’s latest scion as he swept to victory, Modi still cultivates his image as a diligent, incorruptible son-of-a-tea-seller who strives to make India a prouder, more powerful country. BJP leaders expect to triumph by focusing the campaign on Modi versus opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and by zeroing in on religious issues—including a controversial temple—that will consolidate India’s majority Hindu voters, said a senior BJP official who asked not to be named discussing strategy.


Fiance Of Missing Colorado Mom Is Cooperating With Police, Lawyer Says

Fiance Of Missing Colorado Mom Is Cooperating With Police, Lawyer Says The fiance of a Colorado mother missing since Thanksgiving is praying for her


Sanctions Will Harm Only the Iranian Regime, Not the Iranian People

Sanctions Will Harm Only the Iranian Regime, Not the Iranian People That is why Washington must maintain them.


Factbox - Who might be Britain's next prime minister if May goes?

Factbox - Who might be Britain's next prime minister if May goes? MPs in British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party on Wednesday triggered a confidence vote in her leadership over Britain's planned divorce from the European Union. May has vowed to fight on as leader, but if she loses the confidence vote later on Wednesday she will be out of a job, and a contest to replace her will begin. The former foreign minister is May's most outspoken critic over Brexit.


Trump uses terror attack in France to push U.S. border wall

Trump uses terror attack in France to push U.S. border wall President Trump on Wednesday offered the deadly shooting at a Christmas market in Strasbourg as evidence the United States needs stronger border security.


Trump 'may intervene' in Huawei case, as concerns rise over detention of former Canadian diplomat

Trump 'may intervene' in Huawei case, as concerns rise over detention of former Canadian diplomat Donald Trump, the US president, has said he would intervene in the case of arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing.  “If I think it’s good for the country, if I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” he said in an interview on Tuesday with Reuters. Ms Meng, 46, the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecoms giant and daughter of its founder, was granted a £6m bail deal, also on Tuesday, by a Canadian court while she awaits an extradition hearing to the US following her arrest on December 1 at Vancouver airport.  She has been accused of conspiracy to defraud banks after the company allegedly violated sanctions against Iran. The charges have been denied.  China on Sunday summoned the US ambassador to Beijing to lodge its “strong protests”, calling the case “extremely egregious.” Her contentious arrest comes amid an increasingly bitter trade dispute between Washington and Beijing, and the growing row over the case destabilised stock markets further last week.  Protestors gather outside the Supreme Court in Vancouver Credit: James McDonald/Bloomberg Ms Meng’s detention has also soured Beijing’s relations with Canada, with China warning Ottawa of “grave consequences” if she was not immediately released.  China’s arrest on Monday of Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, immediately prompted speculation of a retaliatory move by Beijing.  The detention of Mr Kovrig, a China expert currently working for the International Crisis Group as its North East Asia adviser, was being taken “very seriously” said Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister.  China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said it had no information about his case, but then claimed that the ICG, where Mr Kovrig is a Hong-Kong-based analyst, was not registered in China and that its activities in the country were illegal.  “I do not have information to provide you here,” spokesman Lu Kang said when asked about Mr Kovrig. “If there is such a thing, please do not worry, it is assured that China’s relevant departments will definitely handle it according to law.” US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are having a trade spat Credit: Jim Watson/AFP Because Mr Kovrig’s organisation is not registered as a nongovernmental organisation in China, “once its staff become engaged in activities in China, it has already violated the law,” Mr Lu said, in comments reported by the Associated Press.  He also repeated China’s demand for the immediate release of Ms Meng, whose company has strong connections to the country’s government and military.  “Our request is very clear, that is, the Canadian side should immediately release the detained Ms. Meng Wanzhou and to protect her legitimate rights and interests,” he said. Mr Kovrig was previously a diplomat in China and elsewhere. His current employer said he was taken into custody by the Beijing Bureau of Chinese State Security, which handles intelligence and counterintelligence matters, during one of his regular visits to China’s capital.  Rob Malley, president of the Brussels-based group, said Canadian consular officers had not been given access to Mr Kovrig, who he believed had travelled to Beijing on personal matters.  His sudden detention sent chills through the foreign charity, research and journalist communities, many of whom rose to his defence on social media.  Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, has been arrested in China Credit: AP “Those who track human-rights cases in China worry that people around the world are becoming numb to their concerns,” wrote journalist Joanna Chiu, who declared herself to be a friend of Mr Kovrig, in the Vancouver Star. “Please, pay attention to what is happening with Michael’s case.” In her opinion piece, Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said he believed the case was “part of China’s efforts to put pressure on Canada on the Huawei case.” Others pointed to similarities with the arrest of Canadians Julia and Kevin Garrett in 2014, in a move widely seen as a reprisal for Canada’s apprehension of Chinese citizen Su Bin, who was later sentenced by the US to nearly four years in prison for his role in the hacking of technical data for military aircraft.  Meanwhile, what appeared to be a screenshot of a bailed Ms Meng, who may now reside in one of her luxury Vancouver properties, thanking Huawei and her country, generated praise on Chinese social media.  In a statement on Sina Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, Huawei stressed it had complied with all international laws and sanctions.   “We look forward to a timely and fair closure of this incident from the American and Canadian governments... We believe the Canadian and American legal systems will draw a fair conclusion.” Additional reporting: Paula Jin


US military identifies 5 dead in warplanes crash off Japan

US military identifies 5 dead in warplanes crash off Japan TOKYO (AP) — The U.S. military has identified five Marines who were declared dead after their refueling plane collided with a fighter jet last week off Japan's southern coast.


Palestinians offer new details of Israel's botched Gaza raid

Palestinians offer new details of Israel's botched Gaza raid GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The small town of Abassan in the Gaza Strip is a tough place to infiltrate — everyone knows everyone else and outsiders passing through quickly attract attention. So when strangers drove through town, suspicious Hamas security men stopped the van and questioned those inside.


Indian girl seeks father's arrest over broken promise to build lavatory

Indian girl seeks father's arrest over broken promise to build lavatory Millions of Indians do not have access to sanitation and open defecation is a problem, even in developed, industrial states. The girl, E. Hanifa Zaara, didn't want to go out in the open and won a promise from her father to build a lavatory indoors, said police officer A. Valarmathi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has been pushing a campaign to build 100 million toilets over five years but the drive has not covered large parts of the country.


Michael Flynn Asks To Avoid Prison Because He Cooperated With Russia Investigation

Michael Flynn Asks To Avoid Prison Because He Cooperated With Russia Investigation President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn has


Introducing the 2019 AD100

Attack at Christmas market in French city kills 3, wounds 12

Attack at Christmas market in French city kills 3, wounds 12 STRASBOURG, France (AP) — A man who had been flagged as a possible extremist sprayed gunfire near the famous Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg Tuesday, killing three people, wounding up to a dozen and sparking a massive manhunt when he got away. France immediately raised its terror alert level.


Michael Flynn's lawyers request no prison time, defend cooperation with Mueller team

Michael Flynn's lawyers request no prison time, defend cooperation with Mueller team Flynn's lawyers defend cooperation with Robert Mueller; ask for no prison time


Texas executes killer over 1993 attack on newlyweds

Texas executes killer over 1993 attack on newlyweds The southern US state of Texas on executed a convicted killer and rapist Tuesday over a 1993 attack on a newlywed couple. Alvin Braziel, 43, died by lethal injection at the Texas state prison in Huntsville. The couple were walking on a trail in the Dallas suburbs when Braziel, aged 18 at the time, attempted to rob them at gunpoint.


Washington says observation posts in place on Syria-Turkey border

Washington says observation posts in place on Syria-Turkey border The Pentagon announced Tuesday that American observation posts in northern Syria, meant to prevent altercations between the Turkish army and US-supported Kurdish militia, have been erected, despite Ankara's request to scrap the move. US support for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) has strained relations with Turkey, which fears the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish region on its southern border. "At the direction of Secretary (James) Mattis, the US established observation posts in the northeast Syria border region to address the security concerns of our NATO ally Turkey," Department of Defense spokesman Rob Manning said.


Gunman kills at least two in French Christmas market and flees

Gunman kills at least two in French Christmas market and flees Officials said the gunman was known to security services, and the local prefecture said he was on an intelligence services watchlist.


Trump administration official defends tear gas use at Mexico border

Trump administration official defends tear gas use at Mexico border "Pepper spray and CS gas are authorized to address assaultive behavior," Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.


Is China's AIIB Developing Asia, Or Just Propping Up China's State-Owned Banks with Extra Cash?

Is China's AIIB Developing Asia, Or Just Propping Up China's State-Owned Banks with Extra Cash? The AIIB was supposed to lend $30 to $40 billion in its first three years. It has disbursed just $1 billion. Something doesn't add up.


The Last Days of a Central Banker Under Fire in Modi's India

The Last Days of a Central Banker Under Fire in Modi's India Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel announced his resignation on Dec. 10, citing personal reasons. The surprise departure by Patel, who still had 9 months left in his three-year term, startled colleagues inside the central bank’s 25-floor headquarters on Mint Street in south Mumbai. Patel’s unceremonious exit marked the culmination of a power struggle that had been raging behind the scenes for more than a year.


Texas fraternity president spared jail following rape accusation plea deal

Texas fraternity president spared jail following rape accusation plea deal The former president of a fraternity at a private Christian university in Texas has been spared jail time after being accused of raping a fellow student at a party, in a decision which has devastated the victim and her family. Jacob Anderson, 23, was accused of repeatedly raping a woman at a party in 2016, after she was plied with drink. A Texas judge on Monday accepted a plea bargain, allowing the former Baylor university student to walk free and serve only community service. The woman, who was 19 at the time, attacked Anderson and the district attorneys in her victim impact statement – expressing her fury that they did not show up in court for Monday’s decision. "If I had the courage to come back to Waco and face my rapist and testify, you could at least have had enough respect for me to show up today,” she said. “You both will have to live with this decision to let a rapist run free in society without any warning to future victims.” Jacob Anderson, in a photo released by McLennan County sheriffs office Turning to the man she accused of repeatedly raping her, she said: “It must be horrible to be you. To know what you did to me. To know you are a rapist. To know that you almost killed me. To know that you ruined my life, stole my virginity and stole many other things from me.” She told police she woke up choking on her own vomit. “By the grace of God I am alive today to fight this injustice,” she wrote. “One breath either way and Jacob Walter Anderson would be on trial for murder.” Anderson had been indicted on sexual assault charges and the deal allowed him to plead no contest to a lesser charge of unlawful restraint. A no contest plea means a person does not admit guilt, but will offer no defence. He was expelled from Baylor after a university investigation, and be placed on deferred probation. Anderson, the ex-Phi Delta Theta fraternity president, also agreed to seek counselling and pay a $400 fine. He will not be forced to register as a sex offender. Abel Reyna, McLennan County district attorney, defended the plea deal in October. "This office stands by the plea offered and believes we have achieved the best result possible with the evidence at hand," he said, adding that evidence did not support the allegation that the victim may have been drugged. Judge Strother said on Monday that in making the decision he had the benefit of arguments filed by attorneys on both sides, and a background report assembled by a probation department. He said much of the comments he saw on social media or in emails were "not fully informed, misinformed or totally uninformed." Yet the decision was not the first time that the judge has sentenced men accused of sex crimes to probation. Last year, he sentenced a man to deferred probation after he pleaded guilty in the 2013 rape of a former Baylor student. The judge ordered the man to pay for the woman's counselling. The man told police the woman had been drunk, according to an affidavit. And earlier this year he sentenced a man to felony probation for the sexual assault of a former Baylor student, a punishment that came with 30 days in jail. The man, who was a student at the time and told authorities the sex was consensual, was allowed to serve the jail time on the weekends. The Anderson case bore strong parallels to that of Brock Turner, the Stanford university swimmer who was convicted in 2016 of sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman outside a fraternity party. A judge in that case rejected a prosecutor's demand for a lengthy prison term and instead sentenced Turner to six months in jail. He was released from jail in September 2016 after serving three months.


Italy far-right minister accuses EU of anti-Israel bias

Italy far-right minister accuses EU of anti-Israel bias Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini accused the European Union of being biased against Israel, in remarks during a visit to the Jewish state on Tuesday. "The European Union in recent years has been absolutely unbalanced... in its management of the conflict in the Middle East, condemning and punishing Israel every 15 minutes," he told journalists. Salvini met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday during his 24-hour visit to the country.


FBI investigating alleged neo-Nazi white supremacist attack on black DJ

FBI investigating alleged neo-Nazi white supremacist attack on black DJ The FBI is joining a hate crimes investigation into an attack on a black DJ, allegedly carried out by self-confessed members of a neo-Nazi skinhead group. Eight individuals have been arrested as part of the investigation launched by the Snohomish County Sheriff's office in Washington state, and the FBI. Among those arrested was Travis Condor, a former soldier from Pittsburgh who in 2010 was sentenced to 90 days in jail for beating a homeless man with a baseball bat in Cincinnati.


Charges dropped against mother after police rip 1-year-old son from her arms in video

Charges dropped against mother after police rip 1-year-old son from her arms in video Jazmine Headley remained incarcerated as of Tuesday morning, four days after New York City police yanked her infant son from her arms in Brooklyn.


10 Great Books for Car- and Travel-Obsessed Readers

Delta Air Lines to ditch zone boarding in 2019

Delta Air Lines to ditch zone boarding in 2019 The airline is ditching boarding zones for groups based on ticket type. Some travelers will board later than they do now.


Life in prison for neo-Nazi in Charlottesville attack

Life in prison for neo-Nazi in Charlottesville attack An American neo-Nazi who drove his car into a group of counter-protesters last year during a white supremacist rally in Virginia, killing a woman, was sentenced to life in prison by a jury on Tuesday. James Alex Fields Jr, 21, was found guilty of murder and other charges last week following a two-week jury trial in Charlottesville. Fields will be formally sentenced by Judge Richard Moore on March 29.


Meng Wanzhou: Canadian court frees detained Chinese Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou: Canadian court frees detained Chinese Huawei executive A judge has granted bail to detained Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou, potentially preventing the escalation of an international row between China and the US. The detention of the executive had threatened to further complicate relations between the US and China, which Donald Trump has previously threatened with a trade war. China had threatened severe consequences unless Canada released Ms Meng immediately.


Police Responding to Noise Complaint Decide to Just Join the Party

Police Responding to Noise Complaint Decide to Just Join the Party "Instead of something negative...it was something wholesome"


US presses Cuba with prisoner list

US presses Cuba with prisoner list US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pressed Cuba in an open letter to explain the detention of eight people who Washington says are political prisoners, saying that Havana has ignored diplomatic efforts to seek answers. In a letter released Tuesday by the State Department, Pompeo asked Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to provide a "substantive explanation" on the detention of eight listed prisoners.


James Alex Fields Jr. Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder Of Heather Heyer

James Alex Fields Jr. Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder Of Heather Heyer Neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for


China's Car-Tariff Gesture Stirs Hope of a More Lasting Truce

China's Car-Tariff Gesture Stirs Hope of a More Lasting Truce Shares of U.S. automakers surged Tuesday after Bloomberg News reported that China’s Cabinet will review a proposal to cut tariffs on U.S. cars to 15 percent from 40 percent, bringing the U.S. in line with what other countries pay, according to people familiar with the matter. President Donald Trump tweeted that “very productive conversations” are taking place with the Chinese, predicting “important announcements” to come. China intends to resume purchases of American soybeans soon, with officials considering buying between 5 million and 8 million tons, according to government officials.China’s plans on cars and soybeans would only reverse moves it made in retaliation against U.S. tariffs, rather than removing barriers that existed before the trade war.Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke by phone Tuesday morning Beijing time, exchanging views on the road map for negotiations.