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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


Brazilian couple get light sentences in grandson's abduction

Brazilian couple get light sentences in grandson's abduction HOUSTON (AP) — A wealthy Brazilian couple were sentenced Wednesday to minimal U.S. prison terms for helping their daughter keep her son in Brazil for the past five years in violation of the terms of her divorce to the boy's American father.


Attorneys for ex-Baylor student break silence over rape case

Attorneys for ex-Baylor student break silence over rape case Attorneys for a former Baylor University student accused of rape have broken their silence after a judge allowed the former fraternity president to avoid serving jail time, attacking the ex-fraternity president's accuser and saying she gave "inconsistent" statements to the prosecution. Attorneys Mark Daniel and Tim Moore said that a statement in a Waco, Texas, court Monday by the woman who accused Jacob Walter Anderson was "riddled with distortions and misrepresentations." They said Anderson and the woman were seen by many people "kissing passionately" at a fraternity party where she says the assault occurred. Anderson's attorneys had declined comment when Judge Ralph Strother accepted a plea agreement Monday allowing Anderson to avoid jail or be listed as a sex offender.


Insurance claims for latest California wildfires top $9 billion

Insurance claims for latest California wildfires top $9 billion Insurance claims from the recent spate of California wildfires, including one ranked as the most deadly and destructive in state history, have topped $9 billion and are expected to grow, the state insurance commissioner reported on Wednesday. The Camp Fire, which erupted on Nov. 8 and quickly incinerated most of the Sierra foothills town of Paradise, about 175 miles (280 km) north of San Francisco, has accounted for the bulk of the claims, just over $7 billion of the total.


Chinese Arrest and Trump’s Boast Drag Trudeau Into Huawei Feud

Chinese Arrest and Trump’s Boast Drag Trudeau Into Huawei Feud State security officers seized Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat on leave from the foreign service, in Beijing on Monday, in relation to a national security investigation. The arrest comes nine days after Canada’s capture of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities. Meng was granted bail Tuesday, and while the timing of Kovrig’s arrest has analysts suggesting a possible tit-for-tat motivation, neither China nor Canada has yet linked the two cases.


Defying Trump, U.S. Senate advances resolution to end support for Saudis in Yemen war

Defying Trump, U.S. Senate advances resolution to end support for Saudis in Yemen war Eleven of Trump's fellow Republicans voted with Democrats to provide the 60 votes needed to advance the war powers resolution in the Republican-led chamber, paving the way for debate and a vote on U.S. involvement in a conflict that has created one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters. The vote was largely symbolic because the House of Representatives is not expected to take the matter up this year. Trump has threatened a veto.


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.


Michael Cohen pleads guilty to 9 counts including tax, bank fraud

Michael Cohen pleads guilty to 9 counts including tax, bank fraud President Trump's former longtime attorney and fixer was sentenced to 36 months in prison for tax evasion, tax fraud and campaign violations.


Detained Canadian in China being probed for harming state security

Detained Canadian in China being probed for harming state security The state-run Beijing News said on Wednesday that Kovrig, who works for the International Crisis Group (ICG), had become the subject of an investigation by the Beijing State Security Bureau. "Canadian citizen Michael John Kovrig was on Dec. 10 investigated in accordance with the law by the Beijing State Security Bureau on suspicion of engaging in activities that harm China's state security," the newspaper said in a brief report.


Pope removes two cardinals linked to sex abuse allegations from his inner circle

Pope removes two cardinals linked to sex abuse allegations from his inner circle Two leading cardinals allegedly linked to sexual abuse have been dismissed from Pope Francis' inner circle. Australian Cardinal George Pell and Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz have been removed from the so-called C9 Council of Cardinals, an advisory body set up by Francis, the Vatican said on Wednesday. Cardinal Pell, appointed head of the Vatican’s economic secretariat by the pope in 2014, has taken a leave of absence to fight allegations of historic sexual misconduct in Australia. He is still officially in charge of Vatican finances, a position considered one of the most powerful in the Catholic hierarchy. Francisco Errazuriz Ossa has been accused of covering up allegations against abusive priests in Chile. Congolese Laurent Monsengwo, 79, who retired as archbishop of Kinshasa in November, is also leaving the advisory council. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke announced the changes on Wednesday, saying Francis had written to the three prelates individually in October, "thanking them for the work they have done for the past five years." In a statement Mr Burke said the Pope had reflected on “the work, structure and composition” of the council after meeting council members in September. Chile's Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa has also been removed Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File At its latest meeting this week the advisory body discussed a variety of issues from Vatican spending constraints to the special conference on the protection of minors to be held at the Vatican at the end of February next year. The Catholic Church has been hit by a series of child abuse scandals in recent years in countries including the US, Ireland, Chile and Ireland, with widespread allegations of cover-ups against clergy, including the pope himself. Mr Errazuriz, long considered a close papal ally, was archbishop of Santiago from 1998-2010.  He has come under fire in recent months amid claims that he hid the crimes of Chile’s allegedly abusive priests including Fernando Karadima, who has been accused of a string of child sex offenses going back to 1984. Profile | Pope Francis Mr Pell, former archbishop of Sydney, has consistently denied allegations of sexual abuse made against him. Specific details of the accusations have been suppressed by a court order and Australian law strictly limits reporting on proceedings.   Mr Burke declined to comment on court proceedings against 77-year-old Mr Pell saying: "The Holy See has the utmost respect for Australian judicial authorities. We are aware that there is a suppression order in place by the court and we respect that order.” The Pope created the council of cardinals after his election in 2013, tasking the group with helping him reform the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Roman Curia. Mr Burke said the three cardinals would not be replaced immediately, leaving the council temporarily with six members.


Theresa May Could Be Ousted As British Prime Minister Today. Here’s What to Know

Theresa May Could Be Ousted As British Prime Minister Today. Here’s What to Know She faces a vote of no confidence after lawmakers revolted 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.


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.


This Potential Presidential Candidate Is On A Mission To Restore Tip Jars To Airport Lounges

This Potential Presidential Candidate Is On A Mission To Restore Tip Jars To Airport Lounges Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was hanging out in a United Airlines airport


Introducing the 2019 AD100

Fueled by Jamal Khashoggi murder, Senate poised to open historic debate on U.S. role in Yemen war

Fueled by Jamal Khashoggi murder, Senate poised to open historic debate on U.S. role in Yemen war The Senate will vote Wednesday on a measure to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, where a civil war has killed thousands


Huawei executive gets bail in case rattling China ties

Huawei executive gets bail in case rattling China ties A Canadian court has granted bail to a top Chinese telecom company executive wanted in the United States, as diplomatic tensions turned to the detention of a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing. Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, was released on Can$10 million (US$7.5 million) bail on Tuesday in a case that has rattled relations between China, the United States and Canada. Meng, who faces a US extradition bid on charges related to alleged violations of Iran sanctions, was also ordered to surrender her passport and will be subjected to electronic monitoring.


Analysis: A rancorous first glimpse of new Trump-Dem dynamic

Analysis: A rancorous first glimpse of new Trump-Dem dynamic WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's first encounter with newly empowered congressional Democrats produced a striking Oval Office display that revealed how ill-prepared he is for the biggest political challenge of his presidency.


Modi's Terrible 24 Hours Boosts India Opponents Before 2019 Vote

Modi's Terrible 24 Hours Boosts India Opponents Before 2019 Vote First came the abrupt resignation on Monday night of Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel, which sent stock, bond and currency markets tumbling when they reopened on Tuesday. Then Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party faced defeat in three key states that he carried in his 2014 national victory, in what amounts to his biggest political setback since taking office. “The results reveal the declining political stock of Narendra Modi going into the national elections,” said Katharine Adeney, director of University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute.


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.


Gunman kills three people in French Christmas market, flees

Gunman kills three people in French Christmas market, flees Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the shooter had evaded a police dragnet and was on the run, raising concerns of a follow-up attack. "The government has raised its security threat to the highest level and is bolstering border controls," Castaner told a late-night news conference. "We will also reinforce security at all Christmas markets to prevent copycat attacks." With France still on high alert after a wave of attacks commissioned or inspired by Islamic State militants since early 2015, the counter-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation.


Google Gets Hearing It Wants As Lawmakers Focus On Fake Anti-Conservative Bias

Google Gets Hearing It Wants As Lawmakers Focus On Fake Anti-Conservative Bias Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared before a congressional committee amid


Alaska moose poacher fined $100,000, sentenced to jail

Alaska moose poacher fined $100,000, sentenced to jail ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska man who poached three moose and left most of the meat to rot has been sentenced to nine months in jail and fined more than $100,000.


At least two dead, 11 wounded in French Christmas market shooting

At least two dead, 11 wounded in French Christmas market shooting A lone gunman shot dead at least two people and wounded 11 others near a Christmas market in the city of Strasbourg before fleeing, police said.


U.N. proposes Yemen's warring parties pull out of key port: sources

U.N. proposes Yemen's warring parties pull out of key port: sources It was not clear if the Iran-aligned Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government would accept the proposal made at peace talks in Sweden that aim to avert a full-scale assault on Hodeidah, now a focus of the nearly four-year-old war. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres will attend the closing of the talks on Thursday to meet with both delegations and support his Yemen special envoy's efforts, a U.N. spokesman said. After the two sides agreed to exchange around 15,000 prisoners, the consultations revolve around thornier issues such as the status of Hodeidah and the reopening of Sanaa airport.


Google hearing: CEO Sundar Pichai tells Congress there are no 'current plans' for China, rejects bias claims

Google hearing: CEO Sundar Pichai tells Congress there are no 'current plans' for China, rejects bias claims Google's chief executive officer Sundar Pichai rejected claims of political bias against conservatives in his first-ever appearance before Congress.


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.


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.


Pelosi, Dem critics discuss plan to limit top leaders' terms

Pelosi, Dem critics discuss plan to limit top leaders' terms WASHINGTON (AP) — Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats opposing her bid to become speaker have discussed new rules that would likely limit party leaders to three two-year terms, people familiar with the talks said Tuesday. The proposal, if adopted, could well restrict Pelosi to just two more years atop her party.


10 Great Books for Car- and Travel-Obsessed Readers

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


In major shift, Mitch McConnell announces the Senate will vote on criminal justice reform bill

In major shift, Mitch McConnell announces the Senate will vote on criminal justice reform bill The bipartisan "First Step Act" aims to reduce the number of people in the nation's crowded prisons.


Detailed Photos of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.2L

Lebanon's Aoun says Israeli anti-tunnel action no risk to peace

Lebanon's Aoun says Israeli anti-tunnel action no risk to peace Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday he saw no risk to peace from an operation by Israel's military to disable cross-border tunnels it says were dug into its territory by Hezbollah guerrillas. Israel says Hezbollah, Lebanon's most powerful armed group, dug the tunnels with the aim of launching attacks into Israel with backing from its regional sponsor Iran. Hezbollah has yet to comment.


Two nuns accused of stealing thousands of dollars, gambling in Las Vegas

Two nuns accused of stealing thousands of dollars, gambling in Las Vegas The Archdiocese of Los Angeles said two nuns allegedly stole thousands of dollars from a Catholic school to fund trips to Las Vegas.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Paul Ryan Called 'Genius' While I'm 'Fraud'

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Paul Ryan Called 'Genius' While I'm 'Fraud' Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Monday attacked what she


Khashoggi, other persecuted journalists named Time 'Person of the Year'

Khashoggi, other persecuted journalists named Time 'Person of the Year' Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in October at his country's Istanbul consulate, was named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" Tuesday, an honor he shared with other persecuted journalists dubbed as "guardians" of the truth. Among those named with Khashoggi were Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo -- currently imprisoned in Myanmar -- and the staff of the Capital Gazette in the US city of Annapolis, including five members killed in a June shooting. US President Donald Trump, the 2016 "Person of the Year," was the bookmakers' favorite this year but in the end was runner-up.


Feds Flip Russian Spy!

Feds Flip Russian Spy! Maria Butina will admit to being a Russian spy in exchange for leniency. Prosecutors say she infiltrated prominent conservative groups, including the National Rifle Association.


U.N. seeks withdrawal of warring parties from Yemen's Hodeidah: sources

U.N. seeks withdrawal of warring parties from Yemen's Hodeidah: sources The United Nations is proposing that all armed forces from Yemen's warring parties withdraw from the port city of Hodeidah and that an interim entity be set up to run the city, a lifeline for millions of people in the country's war, sources said. The proposal is still being discussed at U.N.-sponsored peace talks between the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government in Sweden. The sources familiar with the talks said the U.N. proposal envisions a "joint committee or independent entity" to manage the city and port after both sides withdraw and the possibility of deploying U.N. monitors.


President Trump Set to Meet With Democrats About Border Wall and Government Shutdown

President Trump Set to Meet With Democrats About Border Wall and Government Shutdown President Donald Trump is set to confer Tuesday with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.


Sea Dogs Beat Rock Cats To End Skid

Portland, Maine — William Cuevas, making his Double A debut, allowed one run and four hits in five innings as the Portland Sea Dogs beat the New Britain Rock Cats 4-1 Tuesday night at Hadlock Field.