It’s Wednesday August 9, 2017

9Aug

00:0000:00

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit a remote area in China's southwestern province of Sichuan on Wednesday, killing 19 people and injuring 247, according to the provincial government and local media. The quake hit in a mountainous region close to the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve. Six of the dead were tourists. Rescuers were slowly evacuating tourists and local people trapped by landslides. A separate 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck in a remote part of the northwestern Xinjiang region more than 1,200 miles away, injuring 32 people.

 

 

After passing over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday, Tropical Storm Franklin has steadily intensified over the Bay of Campeche and is on the brink of becoming 2017’s first hurricane in the Atlantic basin. The storm, packing winds of 70 mph, is on a collision course with Mexico’s east coast, south of Texas. Riding over warm water, it is expected to make landfall Wednesday night as a hurricane containing peak winds up to 85 mph. Hurricane warnings are in effect from Puerto de Veracruz to Cabo Rojo. The section of coastline that will be hit the hardest is quite rural and unpopulated, but life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides from the rain will affect a large area. Rainfall totals of four to eight inches could be seen in the hurricane warning area, with isolated amounts up to 15 inches. Near and north of where the center crosses the coastline, a storm surge or rise in water level of four to six feet above normal tide levels is possible. Damaging winds are also likely. Tropical-storm-force winds extend about 140 miles northward from the center and up to 70 miles on the south side of the storm.

 

 

Police in France shot, wounded and arrested a man after a dramatic car chase along a motorway in the north of the country following an attack on soldiers in a suburb of Paris. Earlier, six soldiers were wounded after a car was driven at them near their base in Levallois-Perret. The Paris prosecutor described the attack as "attempted killings... in relation to a terrorist undertaking". Reports say one policeman was injured during the arrest operation in the town of Marquise near the port of Boulogne. The suspect vehicle - a BMW - is said to have hit at least one other vehicle during the chase and the police opened fire several times. The suspect is in his 30s. Three of the soldiers were taken to hospital, though none is listed in a life-threatening condition, according to the French Defence Minister Florence Parly. The motivation for the attack is as yet not known, but France, which is contributing to the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has frequently been the target of attacks by Islamist militants. A state of emergency in force since November 2015 includes highly visible patrols under Operation Sentinel, numbering some 7,000 troops.

 

 

A Canadian pastor imprisoned in North Korea has been freed after two and a half years in detention. The state-run news agency KCNA said Hyeon Soo Lim, North Korea's longest-held western prisoner in decades, was "released on sick bail" Wednesday by the country's top court for "humanitarian" reasons. Lim's son, received word over the weekend that a plane carrying senior Canadian officials, a medical doctor, and a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was dispatched to Pyongyang "at the last minute," according to a family spokeswoman. The 62-year-old's health has deteriorated while in North Korean custody and the pastor has experienced "dramatic" weight loss. Lim was serving a life sentence of hard labor after being convicted of crimes against the state in December 2015. Lim's release comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula after President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with "fire and fury" on Tuesday and Pyongyang said it was considering a military strike against the US territory of Guam.

 

 

FBI agents have searched one of the homes of President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, whose past foreign political work has been swept into the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. A Manafort spokesman confirmed the search Wednesday. A Manafort spokesman said in a statement that FBI agents had obtained a warrant and searched one of Manafort’s homes, but would not say when the search occurred. The Washington Post, which first reported the raid, said agents working Special Counsel Robert Mueller conducted the search the morning of July 26 at Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Va. Manafort has been a subject of a longstanding FBI investigation into his dealings in Ukraine and work for the country’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych. That investigation has been incorporated into the probe led by Mueller, who is also scrutinizing Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign as he looks into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with Trump associates. Manafort, who led the Trump campaign for several months, has denied any wrongdoing.

 

 

The Trump administration notably shifted tone Wednesday, opening the door for a bipartisan plan to "fix" the Affordable Care Act, referred to as "ObamaCare". Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said on Fox & Friends,"Both folks in the House and the Senate, on both sides of the aisle frankly, have said that Obamacare doesn't work, and it needs to be either repealed or fixed." Talk of fixing the law is new. Price and President Trump have long talked only of repealing the law, although they've taken various positions on whether a replacement should come later or at the same time as repeal. Both sides do agree that some changes could be made to improve insurance markets, which have been unstable in many places as some large insurers have pulled out of some states, leaving some consumers with few or no plans from which to choose. The shift comes soon after lawmakers intensified their own efforts at a bipartisan plan. Last week, Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Washington State Sen. Patty Murray, the committee’s senior Democrat, announced plans to begin working on a plan to stabilize the markets.

 

 

Five active duty transgender service members filed the first lawsuit Wednesday against President Trump's directive -- expressed on Twitter -- to prohibit transgender individuals from serving in the armed forces. The service members, who are not named, all say they have relied on the Defense Department's current policy permitting open service by transgender service members and argue Trump's ban, which may result in early termination or failure to renew their contracts, is unconstitutional.
The President's three-tweet plan to stop transgender individuals from serving in the military has yet to be formally implemented, but attorneys for the service members have asked a federal court in Washington to block it immediately. The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request from CNN for comment. Trump's decision reversed a policy initially approved by the Defense Department under the Obama administration that allowed transgender individuals to openly serve in the military.

 

 

South African President Jacob Zuma survived a no-confidence vote on Tuesday. It was the fourth such vote he has faced, but the first to be held by a secret ballot that gave cover to dissenters within his ruling African National Congress. The balloting was closer than expected with 177 lawmakers voting against Zuma and 198 standing by him, with nine abstaining. Zuma would have been forced to resign if he had lost. His standing and that of his party, which has ruled since the end of apartheid, has suffered over allegations of corruption, but Zuma told jubilant supporters his victory showed that "the A.N.C. is supported by the overwhelming majority" of South Africans.

 

 

Actress Amber Heard says she has broken up with billionaire SpaceX and Tesla mogul Elon Musk. The actress writes on Instagram that although she and Musk have ended their romance, they “care deeply for one another and remain close.” Heard says she is going through “difficult, very human times.” Both Heard and Musk made their relationship public with Instagram posts in April. Heard’s divorce from Johnny Depp was finalized earlier this year. Musk has been married three times, twice to British actress Talulah Riley. He has five sons from another previous marriage.

 

 

Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday that it would pull its children's programming from Netflix in 2019 to launch its own competing streaming video service. Disney's stock dropped by nearly 4 percent after the announcement, which Disney unveiled along with its quarterly results. The Disney-branded streaming service will be similar to one its sports network, ESPN, is launching in 2018. Analysts said spending on the technology needed to provide the service could weigh on Disney's future earnings. Disney is betting it will make more money in the long run by charging its own subscribers than it does renting its content to Netflix. Shares of Netflix dropped by 3 percent.

 

 

McDonald's announced Tuesday that it expects to nearly double the number of restaurants it has in China over the next five years. If the plans pan out, China will replace Japan as the fast-food chain's second-biggest market, after the U.S. McDonald's has 2,500 restaurants in China now, and aims to have 4,500 by 2022. McDonald's joins numerous other U.S. companies that have responded to slowing growth at home by ramping up operations in China, the world's second largest economy. Starbucks is looking to more than double its store count in China to 5,000 by 2021.

 

 

Grammy-award winning singer and guitarist Glen Campbell, who became a household name in the '60s and '70s with such hits as "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Wichita Lineman", died Tuesday after a "long and courageous battle with Alzheimer's disease," his family said in a statement. Campbell was 81. He sold more than 45 million records in a career that spanned six decades. He also made a mark as a sessions player, appearing on such hits as Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas" and the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling". In 2011, Campbell revealed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and he embarked on a farewell tour, playing 151 shows.

 

 

Scientists have named a prehistoric crocodile described as “one of the nastiest sea creatures to have ever inhabited the earth” after late Motorhead frontman and British heavy metal icon Lemmy Kilmister. London’s Natural History Museum says the fossil of what’s now known as Lemmysuchus obtusidens was dug up in England in the early 20th century but was incorrectly categorized with other sea crocodiles found in the area. Researchers recently took another look at the specimen and gave it a new classification and a scientific name of its own. The fossil is housed at the museum. Curator Lorna Steel suggested it be named after Kilmister, who died in 2015. She says in a statement that “we’d like to think that he would have raised a glass to Lemmysuchus.”