FDA Finds Source Farm For E.Coli Contaminated Romaine Lettuce - That’s in the news on Friday December 14, 2018

14Dec

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The man authorities believe killed three people during a rampage near a Christmas market in Strasbourg was killed in a shootout with police Thursday, ending a two-day manhunt. French authorities identified the man killed in the eastern French city as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, a Strasbourg-born man with a long history of convictions for various crimes, including robberies. Chekatt also had been on a watch list of potential extremists. Police had spotted a man matching the suspect’s description in the city’s Neudorf neighborhood, and the moment they tried to arrest him, officials said Chekatt turned around and opened fire. Police returned fire killing Chekatt who was suspected of killing three people and wounding 13 near Strasbourg’s Christmas market on Tuesday night. Officials said that three of the injured had been released from hospital and three others were still fighting for their lives. Five people have been arrested in connection with the investigation, including Chekatt’s parents and two of his brothers. The Paris prosecutor’s office said the fifth, who was arrested Thursday, was a member of Chekatt’s “entourage” but not a family member.

 

 

 

Senators voted Thursday to recommend that the U.S. end its assistance to Saudi Arabia for the war in Yemen and put the blame for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi squarely on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a direct challenge to both the longtime Middle East ally and President Donald Trump’s handling of the relationship. The succession of bipartisan votes came two months after the Saudi journalist’s slaying at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. U.S. intelligence officials concluded that bin Salman must have at least known of the plot, but President Trump has repeatedly praised the kingdom. Senators made clear where they put the blame. The resolution, passed by unanimous agreement, says the Senate believes the crown prince is “responsible for the murder” and calls for the Saudi Arabian government to “ensure appropriate accountability.” Senators also voted 56-41 to recommend that the U.S. stop supporting the war in Yemen, a direct affront to the administration’s war powers abilities. The floor action brought an unusual show of bipartisan resolve in the Senate over U.S foreign policy, even amid an uncertain outcome as the measures move to the House.

 

 

 

President Trump met with former New Jersey governor Chris Christie Thursday, and considered him a top contender for the job of White House chief of staff, a position some advisers urged him to give to senior aide, and son-in-law Jared Kushner. A source familiar with Trump’s thinking said the president had a positive meeting with Christie, confirming a report by Axios.com, and considered him a top-tier candidate for the position. Christie, a brash, tough-talking politician, was a contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 but abandoned the attempt after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary and subsequently endorsed Trump, becoming his adviser throughout the 2016 campaign. Other sources said Trump was hearing appeals from some advisers to consider Kushner, a top White House aide who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, for the chief of staff job. But one source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kushner was currently not inclined to pursue the position. On Thursday, Trump said he was considering as many as five people to fill the vacancy that will be left when his current chief, retired General John Kelly, leaves the job early in the new year.

 

 

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Thursday she will leave her post before the 2022 election, saying new party leadership is needed after the Brexit controversy. Speaking to reporters in Brussels before another key European Union meeting, May said it's too early to say exactly when she will step aside. May's comments came a day after she survived a no-confidence vote by lawmakers who oppose her Brexit deal. She received 83 percent support in British Parliament. Critics say her plan would keep Britain linked indefinitely to the EU through trade, while preventing it from striking their own deals. A spokesperson for May said the Brexit vote won't be taken to Parliament before Christmas. The government is committed to voting before Jan. 21 and Britain is scheduled to leave the EU by the end of March. May said she wants to "assuage" concerns of lawmakers in her Conservative Party by securing assurances from EU leaders the backstop plan with Northern Ireland will be temporary, so there could be a hard border between the two countries again.

 

 

 

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating possible misspending by President Trump's 2017 inaugural committee. That's according to The Wall Street Journal Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. The committee raised a record $107 million, double the previous record set ahead of Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration. It remains unclear what the committee did with some of the money. Sources told the Journal the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's criminal investigation also is looking at whether some donors were expecting their money to buy them special access to the Trump administration, or even policy favors. Prosecutors also are examining whether foreigners seeking influence illegally funneled money to the inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC.

 

 

 

The House on Thursday passed a law changing how Congress handles sexual harassment allegations, joining the Senate in support for the legislation. Both chambers passed the update of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 unanimously, sending it to President Trump's desk for a signature. The compromise legislation came about after a number of members of Congress were accused of sexual misconduct, including former Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. Others came under fire for using taxpayer dollars to settle allegations, like former Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas. All three men resigned amid the criticism. The bill eliminates 30-day periods for counseling, mediation and "cooling off," which are all required for victims of sexual harassment under the Congressional Accountability Act. Members of Congress also would be personally liable to pay harassment and retaliation settlements. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Reps. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., co-sponsored the legislation.

 

 

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it was able to trace an E. coli outbreak to a California farm. The FDA's investigation identified a positive sample result for the outbreak strain in the sediment of a local irrigation reservoir used by Adam Bros. Farms in Santa Barbara County. The agency said the farm has been cooperating with the outbreak investigation and hasn't shipped any romaine lettuce since Nov. 20. So far 59 people in 15 states have been sickened by the E. coli strand with the last reported illness onset date being Nov. 16. As a result of the finding, the FDA revised its recommendations for consumers, stating there is no longer a reason for consumers to avoid romaine lettuce from San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties, in California, provided it was harvested after Nov. 23. Additionally the agency said romaine harvested outside those areas and greenhouse-grown romaine don't appear to be part related to the current outbreak and there is no reason for consumers to avoid lettuce from those sources.

 

 

 

Nancy Wilson, the Grammy-winning “song stylist” and torch singer whose polished pop-jazz vocals made her a platinum artist and top concert performer, has died. Wilson, who retired from touring in 2011, died after a long illness at her home in California late Thursday night. She was 81. Influenced by Dinah Washington, Nat “King” Cole and other stars, Wilson covered everything from jazz standards to “Little Green Apples” and in the 1960s alone released eight albums that reached the top 20 on Billboard’s pop charts. She resisted being identified with a single category, especially jazz, and referred to herself as a “song stylist.” The National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a “Jazz Masters Fellowship” in 2004 for lifetime achievement. Wilson also had a busy career on television, film and radio, her credits including “Hawaii Five-O,” ?Police Story,” the Robert Townshend spoof “Meteor Man” and years hosting NPR’s “Jazz Profiles” series. Active in the civil rights movement, including the Selma march of 1965, she received an NAACP Image Award in 1998. Wilson was married twice — to drummer Kenny Dennis, whom she divorced in 1970; and to Wiley Burton, who died in 2008. She had three children.

 

 

 

Actress and director Sondra Locke, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her first film role in 1968's “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” and went on to co-star in six films with Clint Eastwood, has died. Locke died in early November at her Los Angeles home of cardiac arrest stemming from breast and bone cancer. She was 74. Authorities were promptly notified at the time, but her death was not publicized until RadarOnline first reported it Thursday. It is not clear why it took nearly six weeks to come to light. Locke was best known for the six films she made with Eastwood — whom she dated for 13 years — starting with the Western “The Outlaw Josey Wales” in 1976 and ending with the Dirty Harry movie “Sudden Impact” in 1983. The pair’s hit films also included the 1978 street-fighting and orangutan comedy “Every Which Way But Loose” and its 1980 sequel “Any Which Way You Can.” In 1989, Locke’s charmed life came to an end as Eastwood broke up with her. They later settled a highly publicized palimony lawsuit for an undisclosed amount in 1996. The following year she released her memoir, titled “The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly: A Hollywood Journey,” which also detailed the double mastectomy and chemotherapy that came with her first bout with breast cancer.

 

 

 

Janet Jackson joins her brother Michael and the Jackson 5 as members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, earning induction on Thursday along with Stevie Nicks and the top fan vote-getter, Def Leppard. Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in next spring at the 34th induction ceremony. It will be held March 29 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Jackson’s induction comes after her third time as nominee. It will be Nicks’ second induction into the rock hall, since she’s already there as a member of Fleetwood Mac. She launched a solo career in 1981 with her duet with the late Tom Petty, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Other hits followed, including “Edge of Seventeen,” "Stand Back” and “I Will Run to You.” Def Leppard earned more than half a million votes from fans, which are incorporated into more than 1,000 ballots from artists, historians, industry professionals and past winners in deciding who gets honored. Def Leppard, Nicks and Roxy Music were voted in during their first years as nominees. Other 2019 nominees who didn’t make the cut this time included LL Cool J, Devo, Rage Against the Machine, MC5, John Prine, Todd Rundgren and Kraftwerk.

U.N. Brokered Cease Fire Raises Hope for Peace in Yemen’s Five Year Civil War That’s in the news Thursday December 13, 2018

13Dec

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Yemen’s warring parties agreed on Thursday to cease fighting for the Houthi-held port city of Hodeidah and withdraw their troops, the first significant breakthrough for U.N.-led peace efforts in five years of conflict. At the close of a week of talks in Sweden, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said a framework for political negotiations would be discussed at the next round of talks between the Iranian-aligned Houthis and the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Western nations, some of which supply arms and intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015, had pressed the two sides to agree to confidence-building steps, to pave the way for a wider truce and a political process to end the war which has killed tens of thousands of people. The conflict has pushed Yemen, the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula, to the verge of famine. The World Food Program said the Hodeidah deal was a much-needed boost for its task of feeding 12 million severely hungry Yemenis. The Houthis control most towns and cities including the capital Sanaa, from where they ousted Hadi’s government in 2014. It is now based in the southern port of Aden.

 

 

 

Armed French police launched an operation in Strasbourg’s Neudorf neighborhood on Thursday as they pursue the hunt for a gunman who killed three people in an attack on a Christmas market. Police issued a wanted poster for Cherif Chekatt, the main suspect in the attack, who was on an watchlist as a potential security threat. Authorities say the 29-year-old was known to have developed radical religious views while in jail. The death toll from Tuesday night’s attack rose to three on Thursday, as police combed the city in the east of France for a second day and manned checkpoints on the German border. More than 700 police are taking part in the manhunt. French and German police manned controls on either side of the Europe Bridge, which spans the frontier running along the Rhine river. The mayor of Strasbourg said the attack was “indisputably an act of terrorism” and, with the gunman on the run, France has raised its security threat to the highest level.

 

 

 

President Donald Trump has now been abandoned by two of his most powerful protectors — his longtime lawyer and the company that owns the National Enquirer tabloid — bringing the investigation into his campaign a step closer to the Oval Office. Both Michael Cohen and American Media Inc. now say they made hush money payments to a porn star and a Playboy Playmate for the purposes of helping his 2016 White House bid, said to be a campaign finance violation. The women alleged affairs with Trump, and federal prosecutors say the payments were made at Trump’s direction. The admissions by Cohen and AMI conflict with Trump’s own explanations which have gone from denying knowledge of any payments to saying they would have been private transactions that weren’t illegal. On Twitter Thursday, Trump contended he “never directed” his former personal lawyer to break the law. He tweeted that Cohen “was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law.” Trump tweeted that Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges “in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence." He said the charges were “unrelated to me.” Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for lying to Congress and was also ordered to pay more than $1 million for unpaid taxes, after his guilty plea in August to eight counts of tax evasion and campaign finance violations filed by New York prosecutors.

 

 

 

A woman accused of acting as a Russian agent to infiltrate a powerful gun lobby group and influence U.S. policy toward Moscow pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy in federal court on Thursday in a deal with prosecutors that could give them insight into Russian meddling in American politics. Maria Butina, a Russian former graduate student at American University in Washington who publicly advocated for gun rights, entered the plea at a court hearing in Washington before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan. Butina was charged by prosecutors in July with acting as an agent of Russia’s government and conspiracy to take actions on behalf of Moscow. She had earlier pleaded not guilty before changing her plea during Thursday’s hearing. She also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Butina was accused of working with a Russian official and two U.S. citizens to try to infiltrate the National Rifle Association.

 

 

 

The White House says President Trump and the new leader of Mexico discussed “positive relations” between the two countries in a phone call this week. But Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters that he and Trump have never discussed the contentious topic of the border wall. Lopez Obrador’s statement Thursday came less than an hour after Trump asserted in a tweet that Mexico was paying for the border wall through the savings the U.S. garnered in the renegotiated free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. The two leaders spoke by phone Wednesday about immigration and Lopez Obrador’s push for a Marshall Plan-like effort to spur economic development in Central America. Lopez Obrador said the conversation was respectful and friendly, but did not discuss the border wall or who would pay for it. The Mexican leader said the possibility of a visit to Washington was raised, but he didn’t think it was realistic until there was at least a draft agreement about investment in Central America. The two countries have been working to find a solution for the caravans of Central American migrants traversing through Mexico in hopes of seeking asylum in the U.S.

 

 

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday won a confidence vote called over the turmoil surrounding her deal on Britain's departure from the European Union. The victory by a 200-117 vote meant that May will keep her job for another year but remain weakened by opposition to her leadership. May postponed a vote on her Brexit plan this week, facing rejection by lawmakers who say she is giving away too much to the European Union ahead of the U.K.'s March exit from the trading bloc. To rally support and survive the vote, May said she would not seek to remain leader of the ruling Conservative Party beyond the next election.

 

 

 

A crash involving a high-speed train at a station in the Turkish capital Ankara has killed at least nine people and injured 47. Turkey's transport minister said the high-speed train had collided with another train, then an overpass. The crash happened at a railway station, around 5 miles from Ankara's main station. Officials said the train was travelling from Ankara to the southern city of Konya when it collided with a locomotive inspecting tracks at the station. Three train drivers were among nine people killed in the crash. There were 206 passengers on board the train. Three of the injured are said to be in serious condition. A large number of emergency workers were on the scene of the collision, which occurred in snowy conditions. An official investigation into the cause of the crash is underway.

 

 

 

State regulators in California have proposed a plan to charge mobile phone users a monthly fee for sending text messages -- basically a text tax. The California Public Utilities Commission outlined the plan to charge text messaging users a monthly surcharge under the Public Purpose Program -- which would use the tax revenue to fund access to affordable telecommunications services for low-income residents. The CPUC said the tax would be necessary to fund the program, as revenue garnered from a tax on voice calls through telephone services has decreased from $16.5 billion in 2011 to $11.3 billion last year, while California's Public Purpose Program budget increased from $670 million to nearly $1 billion throughout the same time period. The CPUC report says it is unsustainable for the Public Purpose Program to continue with shrinking revenue if not subsidized by a new source. The commission will vote on the measure Jan. 10, while facing opposition from the wireless communication industry and some business groups. Some advocates say a text tax is a misguided effort that harms consumers.

 

 

 

The latest test flight by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic successfully rocketed to space and back. The firm's SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship reached a height of 82.7 km, beyond the altitude at which space is said to begin, but did not breach the 100 km Karman Line, where Earth's atmosphere ends. On Thursday, the SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship took off from the Mojave Desert in California, marking the fourth test flight. following earlier setbacks in Virgin Galactic's space program. Branson is in a race with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to send the first fee-paying passengers into space. Branson founded the commercial spaceflight company in 2004, shortly after The Tesla CEO started SpaceX and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos established Blue Origin. In 2008, Virgin Galactic first promised sub-orbital spaceflight trips for tourists would be taking place "within 18 months." It has since regularly made similar promises to have space flights airborne in the near future, but delays and a fatal crash in 2014 prevented Branson's original ambitions.

Brexit in Turmoil as Prime Minister May Postpones Parliament Vote - That’s in the news Monday December 10, 2018

10Dec

Early Monday, the European Court of Justice ruled that Britain can unilaterally call off its exit from the European Union without input from the 27 other EU members, and without altering the terms of Britain's EU membership. On Tuesday, Britain's House of Commons was scheduled to vote on, and expected to reject, Prime Minister Theresa May's negotiated Brexit plan, which would have thrown Britain's exit from the EU into further uncharted waters. But May reportedly pulled the vote Monday morning. The deal under consideration was settled with EU leaders late last month. Revoking the Article 50 exit clause would have to "follow a democratic process," the court ruled, meaning that in Britain, Parliament would have to approve calling off Brexit. The upshot is that staying in the EU is now "a real, viable option," BBC Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming noted, cautioning that "a lot would have to change in British politics" for Brexit to be actually called off.

 

 

 

French President Emmanuel Macron will make his first public comments on a month of "yellow vest" protests in Paris and other cities in a nationally televised address Monday night. The protests started in opposition to a fuel tax Macron's government had scheduled, but they've since transformed into a movement mobilized against his economic policies, many viewed as tilted toward the wealthy. Macron's decision to scrap the fuel tax did not dampen a fourth weekend protest on Saturday, where about 1,000 of the 136,000 yellow vest protesters were arrested and 71 people injured in Paris. Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Sunday that Macron "will know how to find the path to the hearts of the French," but there is no "magic wand" to resolve the growing list of yellow vest demands.

 

 

 

The low-level U.S. delegation to global climate talks, now underway in Poland, joined with Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Kuwait on Saturday night in an attempt to undermine a United Nations report warning of catastrophic consequences if the world fails to combat rising global temperatures, The Washington Post reported. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report on climate change to coincide with a two-week U.N. conference to create rules for implementing the 2015 Paris climate accord. President Trump, who also downplayed similar dire warnings from a report issued last month by 13 U.S. federal agencies, started withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris accord in 2017, but the U.S. still has a seat at the table until it can formally withdraw in November 2020.

 

 

 

U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm says it’s won an order in a Chinese court banning some Apple phones in China as part of a long-running dispute over patents. Qualcomm said Monday that the court in China has granted preliminary injunctions ordering four Chinese subsidiaries of Apple to stop selling and importing iPhones. It’s not immediately clear what the full scope of the ruling is. While Qualcomm says the ban covers iPhones 6S through X, Apple says all iPhone models remain available for customers in China. The dispute is over two Qualcomm patents enabling consumers to format photos and manage phone apps using a touch screen. Apple says it will fight Qualcomm’s “desperate move” in the courts. Apple and Qualcomm also have cases in the U.S. and the U.K. Apple stock tumbled 2 percent in early trading Monday, continuing the tech giant's slide this year. Its shares have dropped 26 percent this quarter.

 

 

 

Communications company Verizon announced Monday that 10,400 of its employees have accepted its buyout offer. The voluntary separation, offering 44 thousand eligible employees up to 60 weeks of salary, bonus and benefits, was taken by 7 percent of Verizon's global workforce of 152,300. The offer, first announced in September, is part of a companywide goal to save $10 billion in cash by 2021. The company said in a statement Monday that it also helps realign Verizon's organizational structure in view of its entry into 5G network service Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said in a letter to employees, "This is a moment in time, given our financial and operational strength, to begin to better serve customers with more agility, speed and flexibility." The departing employees' last day of service will occur at the end of 2018, or in March or June in 2019, depending on the needs of the company.

 

 

 

President Trump is looking for outgoing Chief of Staff John Kelly's replacement, after his rumored first choice for the role bowed out of the running. Trump was reportedly so confident that Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, would be his next chief of staff that the White House had already drafted the announcement. But Ayers announced Sunday that he's leaving the White House at the end of the year, along with Kelly. Ayers, a 36-year-old father of young triplets, will reportedly head a pro-Trump super PAC from Georgia. Several names are being floated to replace Kelly, including White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Mulvaney and Mnuchin are said to be uninterested.

 

 

 

More than 12 inches of snow fell across America's Southeast Sunday, blanketing Virginia, North Carolina, and parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. The National Weather Service predicted snowfall could total 20 inches in some areas of the Appalachians by Monday before the snowstorm recedes. More than 20 million people remained under a winter weather alert, 200,000 people were without power, and more than 1,400 flights were canceled. One person was killed in the storm when a tree fell on their vehicle. On Sunday, North Carolina had more than 500 car wrecks in an 11-hour time span.

 

 

 

In a 60 Minutes interview Sunday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in no uncertain terms that he has little love for the Securities and Exchange Commission. "I want to be clear. I do not respect the SEC," he said. The defiant statement came after a turbulent summer for Musk, who has been criticized for erratic behavior and was sued by the SEC after he impulsively tweeted about taking the electric-car company private but later reneging on that plan, possibly defrauding investors. "I'm just being me," Musk told CBS's Lesley Stahl. "I mean, I was certainly under insane stress and crazy, crazy hours. But the system would have failed if I was truly erratic." Musk said no one is screening his tweets. Musk also suggested Tesla might purchase some of the General Motors factories that are set to close next year.

 

 

 

NASA’s Voyager 2 has become only the second human-made object to reach the space between stars. NASA said Monday that Voyager 2 exited the region of the sun’s influence last month. The spacecraft is now beyond the outer boundary of the heliosphere, some 11 billion miles from Earth. It’s trailing Voyager 1, which reached interstellar space in 2012. Interstellar space is the vast mostly emptiness between star systems. According to NASA, both Voyager spacecraft are still technically in our solar system. The Voyagers launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 1977. Scientists maintain the solar system stretches to the outer edge of the so-called Oort Cloud. It will take thousands of years for the spacecraft to get that far. Despite the great distance, flight controllers are still in contact with Voyager 2.

So sorry - but I have laryngitis and am unable to record the podcast for today Friday December 7, 2018

7Dec

I have laryngitis and am unable to record the podcast for today -Friday December 7, 2018

World Markets Tumble After News iof Chinese Tech Exec Arrest In Canada - That’s in the news on Thursday December 6, 2018

6Dec

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China on Thursday demanded that Canada release an executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei who was arrested in a case that compounds tensions with the U.S. and threatens to complicate trade talks. Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, faces possible extradition to the United States, according to Canadian authorities. The timing of the arrest is awkward following the announcement of a U.S.-Chinese cease-fire in a trade war that has its roots in Beijing’s technology policy. Meng was detained in Vancouver on Saturday, the day Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met in Argentina and announced their deal. The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing law enforcement sources, said she is suspected of trying to evade U.S. trade curbs on Iran. Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns. The U.S. sees Huawei and smaller Chinese tech suppliers as possible fronts for spying and as commercial competitors. The Trump administration says they benefit from improper subsidies and market barriers. World stock markets tumbled on the news, fearing renewed U.S.-Chinese tensions that threaten global economic growth.

 

 

 

An unarmed U.S. Air Force plane with American and international observers flew a special flight over Ukraine Thursday in a show of solidarity after Ukraine’s naval confrontation last month with Russia. In a statement, the Pentagon called it an “extraordinary” flight under the Open Skies Treaty, which is an international accord that gives each member country the right to conduct, and the obligation to accept, unarmed military observation flights. The purpose is to promote transparency in military activities. The Ukrainian military requested a flight and the U.S. agreed to conduct it over an uncontested portion of Ukraine territory. A Pentagon spokesman said this was the first “extraordinary” Open Skies flight since 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. On Nov. 25, Russia and Ukraine had a naval clash near Kerch Strait. Since then, Washington has sought to show its support for Ukraine while condemning Russian actions. There were U.S., Canadian, German, French, British, Romanian and Ukrainian observers aboard the OC-130 aircraft.

 

 

 

North Korea is expanding a missile base near its mountainous border with China that could be used to launch long-range missiles capable of reaching the U.S. That's according to new commercial satellite imagery Thursday. Catherine Dill, a senior research associate with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, which conducted the analysis, said, "They are constructing hardened drive-through shelters for the vehicles that would carry the long-range missiles. And they are also constructing tunnel entrances." The researchers said the work at the Yeongjeo-dong missile base and the expansion of a new suspected missile facility seven miles away marked the latest indications that North Korea is continuing to ramp up its missile program despite President Trump's claims of progress toward getting North Korea to denuclearize. A South Korean defense official said in a Yonhap News report that South Korean and the U.S. military are aware of this site and the site has been under watch since 1999.

 

 

 

France will deploy more than 65 thousand security forces amid fears of new rioting at protests Saturday in Paris and around the nation, despite President Emmanuel Macron’s surrender over a fuel tax hike that unleashed weeks of unrest. Police unions and local authorities held emergency meetings Thursday to strategize on how to handle the weekend protests, while disparate groups of protesters did the same thing, sharing their plans on social networks and chat groups. Some “yellow vest” protesters, members of France’s leading unions and prominent politicians across the political spectrum called for calm Thursday after the worst rioting in Paris in decades last weekend. Many shops and restaurants in the center of Paris plan to shut down Saturday, fearing a repeat of the violence. The rioting in Paris has worried tourists, prompted the cancellation of four French league soccer matches this weekend around the country and damaged the local economy at the height of the holiday shopping season. Macron on Wednesday agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike, part of his plans to combat global warming, but protesters’ demands have now expanded to other issues hurting French workers, retirees and students.

 

 

 

USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, seeking protection from creditors as it faces lawsuits filed by hundreds of women who were sexually abused by former national team doctor Larry Nassar. "Our organization is a financially solid going concern but for the hundred lawsuits that we do have out there," Kathryn Carson, chair of the organization's board, said in a conference call with reporters. "That is the primary reason that we made this filing, to use the Chapter 11 process as a vehicle for resolving those claims." Nassar was sentenced in January to 40 to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of sexual misconduct. More than 150 women and girls told a judge Nassar had sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment.

 

 

 

A San Francisco law firm said it's filed a class action lawsuit in California Superior Court against the Pacific Gas and Electric utility company over the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people last month. The plaintiffs argue in the suit the deadly blaze that started on Nov. 8 was sparked by "unsafe electrical infrastructure" in Butte County owned, operated, and maintained by PG&E. The fire burned 230 square miles of land before it was contained Nov. 25. It's been called the deadliest wildfire in California history, with 11 people still reported missing. It damaged about 14 thousand homes. Heavy rains last week helped extinguished the fire, but also brought flooding to many of the same areas. A report listed the cause of the wildfire as under investigation, but a local newspaper reported downed power lines and high winds may have contributed, according to firefighter radio transmissions. At least one resident told the newspaper there was a power outage in the area shortly before the fire was reported.

 

 

Facebook boosted some partners, including Airbnb, Lyft, and Netflix, by giving them access to user data that it kept from rival companies, according to internal Facebook emails and other documents released Wednesday by a British parliamentary committee. The documents mostly concerned Facebook's actions from 2012 to 2015, a period of explosive growth for the social network. The material showed how intimately involved Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg were in making sure decisions fueled growth and kept users engaged. The release of the internal documents complicates Facebook's challenges as it faces questions about how it has handled misinformation and whether it does enough to protect user data.

 

 

 

America’s 41st president and patriarch of a family that occupied the White House for a dozen years, is going to his final resting place Thursday in Texas. More than 11 thousand people paid their respects to George H.W. Bush as his casket lay in repose all night at a Houston church where the Bush family worshipped. Three days of official ceremonies in Washington gave way to more personal touches for the former president in Texas. The nation’s capital bid him goodbye Wednesday in a Washington funeral service that offered high praise for Bush. The service was attended by President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, as well as the nation's former presidents and their wives; Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter. Bush’s death makes Carter, who is also 94 but more than 100 days younger, the oldest living ex-president. Former president George W. Bush eulogized his father as “the brightest of a thousand points of light.” Bush broke down briefly at the end of his eulogy while invoking the daughter his parents lost in 1953 and his mother, who died in April. He took comfort in knowing “Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.” Bush’s casket then returned to Texas on board a presidential 747 for the services in Houston, a ride on a special funeral train and burial at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station. His final resting place is alongside Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years, and Robin Bush, the daughter they lost to leukemia at age 3.

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