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IT40 News for 10/10/2018

IT40 hurricane michael #1 10-10-18 news
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#1 Category 4 Hurricane Michael roars nearer to Florida coast

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Michael roared nearer to the Florida Panhandle as a still-growing Category 4 hurricane Wednesday, lashing wind and rain and pushing a storm surge onto white-sand beaches and coastal communities hours before making landfall.

The unexpected brute quickly sprang from a weekend tropical depression and grew swiftly into what could be one of the Panhandle's worst hurricanes in memory, with destructive wind, up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain and a life-threatening storm surge of up to 13 feet (4 meters).

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At 5 a.m., an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter crew reported top sustained winds up to near 140 mph (225 kph) with higher gusts. Michael's eye was about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Panama City and 130 miles (209 kilometers) from Apalachicola, but moving relatively fast at 13 mph (21 kph). Tropical-storm force winds extending 185 miles (295 kilometers) from the center were already lashing the coast.

Florida officials said roughly 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been urged or ordered to evacuate, including all non-essential personnel at Tyndall Air Force Base east of Panama City. The home to the 325th Fighter Wing and some 600 military families appeared squarely targeted for the worst of the storm's fury, and declared "HURCON 1" status, ordering everyone inland.

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#2 Two killed, two wounded as volley of gunshots reported at Florida shopping center

Two people were killed and two others were injured when multiple gunshots were fired at a shopping center in Fort Myers, Florida, on Tuesday night, authorities said. 

"It does not appear to be a random act of violence," Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said late Tuesday. He gave no further information.

None of the victims was identified, and the condition of the wounded wasn't immediately available.

NBC affiliate WBBH quoted a woman at the scene who said she was celebrating her birthday inside the restaurant Society at Bell Tower Shops when someone shot her husband in the chest as she was paying her bill. She told the station that the shooter then shot and killed her son as he tried to run away.

Nestor Montoya, a reporter for the station, posted a photo on Twitter showing numerous emergency vehicles gathered in the complex's parking lot, saying multiple shots were heard.

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#3 Rosenstein faces congressional confrontation amid new claim he seriously suggested wiretapping Trump

Soon after Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein suggested using a wiretap to record President Trump’s communications, then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe went to the bureau’s top lawyer seeking advice on what he had just heard.

Rosenstein, McCabe told the lawyer, wanted to furtively record the president to help explore whether Trump had obstructed justice. How, McCabe asked, should the FBI respond to the outlandish proposition?

The lawyer, James Baker, dismissed the idea, according to people familiar with the episode who described it to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity. But importantly, Baker told congressional investigators last week that the deputy attorney general’s suggestion was presented to him by senior FBI officials as being serious — raising questions about Rosenstein’s assertions to the contrary, the people said.

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This week, Rosenstein is scheduled to talk to congressional investigators about the 2017 episode, which nearly cost him his job after it was revealed in news accounts last month. The high-stakes interview with some of the president’s closest Republican allies could again put the deputy attorney general in the hot seat, especially if those lawmakers leave the interview unconvinced of Rosenstein’s testimony and relay their concerns to the president.

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#4 The Lives of the 20 Victims Who Died in the New York Limo Crash

The limousine accident in Schoharie, N.Y., on Saturday took 20 lives almost instantly. It devastated families, killing siblings and leaving young children without parents. The victims were friends and relatives — including four sisters from one family, and two brothers from another — who were traveling to a brewery in Cooperstown, N.Y., to celebrate a 30th birthday.

Their lives ended when the limousine they were traveling in barreled through an intersection that residents have described as dangerous. The vehicle crashed into an unoccupied car and two pedestrians nearby, killing them, before coming to a halt in a shallow ravine.

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Investigators have said little about what they know about the accident, believed by federal officials to be the deadliest transportation accident in the United States since a 2009 plane crash near Buffalo that killed 50 people. About 1,000 people attended a vigil in a riverside park in Amsterdam, N.Y., on Monday to honor the victims.

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#5 What Nikki Haley’s departure means for the world

After less than two years on the job, Nikki Haley is planning to step down as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Her relatively short tenure isn’t unusual for the position — she’s lasted longer than half of her last 10 predecessors — but her decision still caught Washington by surprise.

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There was immediate speculation as to why Haley is stepping down, most of it focusing on a potential run for office. But Haley told reporters at the White House, where she announced her resignation next to President Trump, that she would not be running for president in 2020 and would support Trump. (She did not mention recent allegations of financial impropriety that were made public just hours before by an ethics watchdog.)

Whatever made Haley decide to “take a little time off,” the consequences of that decision will be watched closely around the world. But when it comes to actual changes in U.S. foreign policy, the difference may be more in the style than the substance.

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#6 Trump touts Kavanaugh confirmation at raucous Iowa rally

Video by MSNBC

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA - President Trump on Tuesday celebrated the installation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and savaged Democrats who opposed his nomination at a raucous campaign rally in a key battleground state.

A seemingly upbeat Trump hailed the confirmation of Kavanaugh as the apex of a "historic week for America" but warned thousands of supporters donning his signature red campaign hats that the fight is not over yet, claiming Democrats might try to force him off the court.

"The Democrats have become too extreme and they've become, frankly, too dangerous to govern. They've gone wacko," the president said, prompting cheers from the crowd at the 9,000 seat Mid-America Center.

The president suggested that Democrats might try and pack the courts to dilute its newly cemented conservative majority or attempt to impeach Kavanaugh over the sexual misconduct allegations that nearly derailed his nomination.

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#7 Dina Powell is top pick for U.N. ambassador, sources say

NEW YORK — Dina Powell, the Goldman Sachs executive and former senior White House official, is the top candidate to replace outgoing United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, two people familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

Powell, who returned to Goldman in a senior role after leaving her job as President Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser, is said to be strongly considering the job but also weighing family concerns. Powell already lives in New York, where the UN is based, but has young children and left the administration in part to spend more time with family. She is also said to be happy in her job at Goldman.

Born in Egypt and raised in the United States, Powell is well liked by Trump as well as the president’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. But she is already coming under criticism from some conservatives on social media who maintain that Powell is a “globalist” not closely enough aligned with Trump’s “America first” approach to foreign policy.

Trump on Tuesday described Powell as a “person I would consider” when asked about her possible nomination. “She is under consideration. We have, actually, many names,” he said.

Other potential successors to Haley — who announced on Tuesday that she would leave her post at the end of the year — include Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, who previously served as a spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the U.N.; and Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada. Some Trump supporters on Twitter pushed on Tuesday for Grenell over Powell.

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#8 Scientists say Mount Vesuvius made people’s heads explode

A team of archaeologists found the eruption of Mount Vesuvius burned bodies quicker than a crematorium.

When you die, you want to go quickly. But maybe not as quickly as the people killed by Mount Vesuvius.

The scientists say skull fractures on skeletons recovered from Herculaneum show evidence of "skull explosion".

According to a new research paper released by a team of Italian archaeologists, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 generated such extreme heat that it caused victims' skulls to explode, their blood to boil, and their muscles, flesh and brains to be rapidly replaced with ash.

Conducting new investigations on the skeletal remains of those killed in Herculaneum, a town 4 miles from Mount Vesuvius that was obliterated by the volcanic eruption, the scientists gained more insights into how the townsfolk died.

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#9 Tunnel with a rail system is found under Mexico-California border

SAN DIEGO - Mexican officials discovered a sophisticated cross-border tunnel that began in a home in the town of Jacume less than a football field away from the U.S. border.

A team made up of members of the U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration determined that the tunnel did not yet have an exit into the U.S., though it did cross the border.

Officials mapped the tunnel and found that it reached 336 feet into California in the Jacumba area, according to a news release from the Border Patrol.

Based on the tunnel's size and technology used, Border Patrol Agent Tekae Michael said it was likely intended to transport drugs into the U.S.

"Sophisticated tunnels take a lot of time and money to make," Michael said, and they're not uncommon in the area. "When we find them, they're a pretty big deal."

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#10 Wife of limo driver breaks her silence after deadly crash

The wife of the limo driver involved in the deadly crash in upstate New York said she feels her husband is being improperly blamed for the tragedy. Twenty people, including driver Scott Lisinicchia, were killed Saturday. New York officials say Lisinicchia did not have a proper license to operate the vehicle and federal documents show the limo he was driving also failed an inspection in September.

Kim Lisinicchia told CBS News' DeMarco Morgan her husband, Scott, had been working part-time for Prestige Limousine for more than a year. Investigators have not said what they believe caused the crash, but Kim told us she doesn't think it had anything to do with Scott.

"It has been so difficult because I think about him every day," Kim said.

She said the last time they spoke was Saturday morning before he went to work. When she hadn't heard from him for about three hours, she says she started to feel like something might be wrong."I felt something, and so I called his boss…not the owner, but the son of the limo company. I was like, 'Did you hear from Scott?' And he said, 'I'm glad you called me, 'cause there was an accident.'"

According to Kim, Scott was in "excellent health" and an "excellent driver." "For over 20-plus years, he drove a tractor-trailer, that's why I know something was wrong," Kim said.

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#11 Lock her up? Now it’s Dianne Feinstein instead of Clinton

But this time, the staple of Trump's 2016 campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton had a new target: California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Trump, who was in the state boosting Republican candidates ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, claimed that Feinstein, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had leaked a letter written by California professor Christine Blasey Ford alleging Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Feinstein has denied her office was the source of the leak.

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#12 Michael Bloomberg re-registers as Democrat ahead of midterms

"Today, I have re-registered as a Democrat — I had been a member for most of my life — because we need Democrats to provide the checks and balance our nation so badly needs," Bloomberg wrote in a caption to a photo of him filling out his New York state voter registration form. 

Bloomberg was previously a member of the Democratic Party but switched in 2001 to run for New York mayor as a Republican. He later dropped the GOP affiliation to run for re-election as an independent and has since thrown his support behind Democratic political candidates, including Hillary Clinton in 2016, when he spoke at the Democratic convention. 

Besides endorsements, the former mayor has put his money toward more Democratic-leaning initiatives, pledging tens of millions of dollars through his philanthropy arm to tackle issues like climate change, public health and education. And with $80 million in hand, he's also intent on helping Democratic candidates flip the Republican-held majority in the House this November. 

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#13 Jamal Khashoggi: A grisly mystery and a deepening crisis

A little over a week ago, a prominent Saudi journalist walked into the consulate general in Istanbul, intending to get paperwork that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée. She hasn't seen him since.

Since then, officials and journalists have scrambled to piece together the story of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi.

Closed-circuit television footage, flight trackers, intercepted communications and even a bone saw have served as pieces of a puzzle that has spurred a diplomatic outcry.

In the latest development, top Turkish security officials concluded that the "highest levels of the royal court" in Saudi Arabia ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, according to a senior official cited by The New York Times.

The official described the operation as "quick and complex," killing Khashoggi within two hours of his arrival at the consulate. The agents "dismembered his body with a bone saw they brought for the purpose," the official told The New York Times. "It's like Pulp Fiction," he added.

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#14 Dems to force health care vote weeks before Nov. midterms

© Provided by The Hill
Senate Democrats on Wednesday plan to force a vote on a health-care measure in an effort to put Republicans on the record against pre-existing condition protections ahead of the midterm elections.

Democrats say the vote will highlight that President Trump and congressional Republicans support the expansion of non-ObamaCare plans which can deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, an issue that Democrats have made the centerpiece of their electoral strategy.

The measure appears headed for defeat after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a key swing vote, said she would oppose the Democratic measure, with her office noting that while short-term plans are "not ideal" she wants Alaskans to have options for cheaper coverage. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she is undecided, but Democrats would need another Republican vote beyond Collins.

Democrats maintain that even a failed vote will help them bring the issue of pre-existing conditions to the fore ahead of next month's elections. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who is up for reelection this year, and has the support of all 49 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, meaning supporters need two GOP votes to pass it.

"On Wednesday, Senate Republicans get an opportunity to demonstrate independence from Trump and vote against junk insurance plans," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) wrote on Twitter. "Tammy Baldwin's bill will put them all on the record."

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#15 Chuck Grassley: Judiciary should have more women, because they ‘are smarter than most male senators’

Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday he would like to see more female senators serve on the Judiciary Committee.

“It’d be very important. I would welcome more women — because women as a whole are smarter than most male senators. And they work real hard, too," the Republican Iowa senator told the Des Moines Register, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Grassley, the committee's chairman, made waves last week when he speculated that no Republican women serve on the panel because "it's a lot of work."

In the Tuesday interview, Grassley reiterated he meant no offense by the remark. It’s hard to recruit senators of either gender for the committee, he said.

“It’s a lot of work not just for women, it’s a lot of work for men,” he said.

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#18 With Arrest in Journalist’s Killing, Bulgaria Rebuts Talk of Political Motive

SOFIA, Bulgaria — A man has been arrested in Germany and charged with the rape and murder of a Bulgarian journalist, the authorities in Bulgaria announced on Wednesday, saying that there was no indication that she had been killed because of her work.

The man who is suspected of assaulting and killing the journalist, Viktoria Marinova, was identified as Severin Krasimirov, a 20-year-old with a petty criminal history, who fled after the attack, officials said. Ms. Marinova was the host of a cable TV show.

The Bulgarian prosecutor general, Sotir Tsatsarov, said, “It seems like a random attack of a sexual assault.” He described the killing of Ms. Marinova, who was badly beaten, as “extremely brutal and cruel.”

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In the past year, two other journalists, Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Jan Kuciak in Slovakia, have been killed because of their work exposing corruption, and reporters in several countries have labored under increased threats and restrictions on press freedoms. Fears that the murder of Ms. Marinova, 30, might have been related to her work contributed to enormous international pressure on Bulgaria, as European and United States officials, media watchdog groups and others demanded that the authorities bring the killer to justice.

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#19 U.N. tallies more than 8,000 Afghan civilian casualties so far this year

At least 8,050 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of 2018, almost half of them targeted by suicide bomb attacks and other improvised devices that may amount to war crimes, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

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The number of casualties was roughly in line with the same period a year earlier, when there were 8,084 casualties, with deaths this year rising five percent to 2,798 and injuries falling three percent to 5,252, the report from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said.

"As there can be no military solution to the fighting in Afghanistan, the United Nations renews its call for an immediate and peaceful settlement to the conflict," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the top UN official in Afghanistan.

Seventeen years after U.S. forces led a campaign to overthrow the Taliban following the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, the figures underline how dire the security situation remains.

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#20 EU says ‘not there yet’ on Brexit deal, warns on security

BRUSSELS — European Union commissioners say there's no breakthrough on a Brexit deal and are stressing the importance of security cooperation once Britain leaves the EU.

Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters Wednesday that EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his team "are working day and night to reach a deal" before a crucial EU summit next week. But, he said, "we are not there yet."

Commissioner Julian King said "there are some issues that will need to be addressed in the context of a future partnership including on security." He emphasized the importance of continued cooperation on cross-border threats.

Barnier briefed EU commissioners on the state of the talks. EU leaders say major progress is needed at next week's summit to ensure a deal is finalized before Britain leaves March 29.

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#21 Pope says abortion is like hiring ‘contract killer’

Pope Francis on Wednesday compared having an abortion to hiring a "contract killer".

"Interrupting a pregnancy is like eliminating someone," Francis said in an address to worshippers in the Vatican.

"Getting rid of a human being is like resorting to a contract killer to solve a problem," he added.

"Is it just to resort to a contract killer to solve a problem?"

His comments departed from the prepared text for his homily delivered during his weekly audience on Saint Peter's Square.

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#22 Images surface of Saudis allegedly sent to target writer

ISTANBUL — Turkish media published images Wednesday of an alleged 15-member Saudi "assassination squad" and video of suspicious movements at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul following journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance a week ago, putting new pressure on the kingdom amid growing international concern for the writer.

Saudi Arabia remained silent as the images, though not offering definitive proof about Khashoggi's fate, played across television networks in Turkey and around the world. Turkish officials fear the team killed Khashoggi, who wrote critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom dismisses the allegation as "baseless."

However, Saudi Arabia has offered no evidence to support its contention that the writer left the consulate unharmed and vanished into Istanbul while his fiancée waited impatiently outside. Politicians in the U.S., Riyadh's main ally, have warned that any harm done to the Washington Post contributor will jeopardize America's relations with the world's largest oil exporter.

State-run broadcaster TRT aired video purportedly showing the Saudis arriving by private jet and then leaving a hotel. The footage shows Khashoggi entering the consulate on Oct. 2. An hour and 54 minutes later, according to the time stamp, a black Mercedes Vito with diplomatic license plates, which resembled a van parked outside of the consulate when the writer walked in, drives some 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) to the consul's home, where it parks inside a garage.

The footage all seemed to come from surveillance cameras, which would have been posted throughout the district housing the Saudi consulate and other diplomatic missions. No one has produced any such footage of Khashoggi leaving the consulate.

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#23 Syria buffer free of heavy arms as jihadists face deadline

A planned buffer zone in northwest Syria has been cleared of heavy armaments ahead of time but a new deadline loomed Wednesday for the tougher task of Turkey convincing jihadists to pull out their fighters.

The demilitarised zone ringing the Idlib region is the result of a deal reached last month between rebel backer Turkey and government ally Russia to stave off a regime assault on Syria's last major rebel stronghold.

The accord called for a complete withdrawal of all heavy weapons from the planned buffer by Wednesday, and rebels and jihadists met that deadline a day early.

"No heavy weapons were seen in the buffer zone," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Turkey-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) rebel alliance said it had pulled out all heavy arms by Monday, and the Observatory said jihadists quietly followed suit.

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#24 Bahrain building collapse kills four, injures at least 20: Ministry

© Stringer/Reuters
Civil Defence officials are seen during search and rescue procedure looking for survivors in debris of collapse building in Salmaniya neighbourhood in Manama, Bahrain, on, Oct. 9, 2018.

An apartment building collapsed in Bahrain's capital late on Tuesday leaving at least four people dead and 20 injured, the interior ministry said.

Three bodies were found at the site in Manama's Salmaniya neighborhood and one person died in hospital, the ministry said.

(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba Writing by Eric Knecht Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Andrew Heavens)

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#25 50 people dead in overnight bus crash in western Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya — At least 50 people were killed when their bus left the road, rolled down a slope and crashed in western Kenya, an official said Wednesday, with the roof of the bus ripped off.

Around 15 survivors from the bus that was headed from the capital, Nairobi, to the western town of Kakamega were receiving treatment at a hospital in Kericho, Rift Valley regional police boss Francis Munyambu said. The accident occurred around 4 a.m. and seven children were among the dead, he added.

"The information we have is that the driver lost control," Kericho County police commander James Mugera told The Associated Press.

The bus was not licensed to operate at night and its owners will faces charges, regional traffic police boss Zero Arome said. "It is very unfortunate what has happened and action will be taken," he said.

Kenya has struggled to reduce the rising number of road accidents as more people in the growing middle class acquire vehicles.

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#26 In medical first, HIV-positive mother donates liver to her uninfected baby

A liver transplant from an HIV-positive woman to her uninfected baby in South Africa has the potential to widen the country's organ donor pool, experts say.

Doctors in the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre transplant unit in Johannesburg announced last week that they had performed a liver transplant from a living HIV-positive donor to an uninfected patient, the first in the world.

The operation on the woman and her daughter with end-stage liver disease took place last year, when the girl was 13 months old.

Initially, two potential donors were determined to be unsuitable, and the mother, who doctors say will remain anonymous due to her HIV status, pleaded to be allowed to donate her liver but was denied.

Although people with HIV can donate organs in South Africa, they are not considered as potential donors in the hospital's transplant program, in order to reduce the risk of transmission, said Jean Botha, the program's director.

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#27 APNewsBreak: Chilling call made to wife of ex-Interpol boss

Video provided by CNN

LYON, France — The call came at night and was chilling.

"You listen, but you don't speak," the man on the other end said. "We've come in two work teams, two work teams just for you."

In her first one-on-one interview since her husband's disappearance in China, the wife of the former head of Interpol described the threatening phone call that prompted authorities in the French city where the international law enforcement agency is headquartered to place her under police protection.

French authorities are still trying to determine whether China did indeed, as the mysterious caller menaced, dispatch agents to get to Grace Meng, the wife of Meng Hongwei. But she has good reason to be fearful: Speaking out about the fate of her high-profile husband risks China's ire and, she said, is putting her "in great danger."

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#28 Former Miss Iraq Flees Country After Death Threat

A former Miss Iraq beauty pageant winner has escaped the country following the suspicious or violent deaths of several famous Iraqi women.

“I was threatened with murder. My life was in danger. The killing of this many people scared me. I wasn’t comfortable living there anymore. That is why I left Iraq and came to Jordan,” Shimaa Qasim Abdulrahman told Iraq’s Rudaw Media Network.

The 2015 Miss Iraq winner reportedly received a message saying “you’re next” from a man claiming to be a member of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). The message was one of many the beauty queen received since winning the title. The group reportedly threatened to kidnap Abdulrahman if she did not join them. Despite reporting the threats to security forces, she was told that nothing could be done because there was no proof of who made them.

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She decided that it was time to leave following the shooting death of social media star Tara Fares on September 27.

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#29 Bellingcat: The website that unmasked the suspected Salisbury poisoners

The true identities of the suspects accused of poisoning a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom have reportedly been revealed, but not by sleuthing journalists from The Guardian or The New York Times.

The investigative website Bellingcat on Monday published what it said was the identity of one of the Russian agents allegedly involved in the nerve agent poisonings in March that left Sergei Skripal and his daughter hospitalized for weeks. Last month, the website unmasked what it said was the identity of the other suspect.

This isn't the website's first rodeo with highly sensitive and secretive reporting, much of which involves combing though publicly available data, or databases that can be purchased or have been leaked.

The website first started as a blog by Eliot Higgins, who used the pseudonym Brown Moses. He began monitoring the conflict unfolding in Libya in 2011 and blogging about it.Higgins recently told The Guardian that it started as a hobby and that he had "no background in any of the stuff" he was writing about. When he was laid off from his non-profit job, Higgins immersed himself in the blog.

Higgins became known for identifying munitions used in the conflict in Syria by reviewing videos and photos that locals posted online. According to a 2014 interview with the Telegraph, Higgins said he would scan as many as 300 YouTube videos a day, identifying the bombs and rockets by the scraps left over. He relied on his social media network and publicly available information for help.

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#30 Hong Kong will ‘fearlessly take action’ against independence talk

Hong Kong will "fearlessly take action" against independence calls and protect China's interests, leader Carrie Lam said Wednesday, as concerns grow that the city's freedoms face an unprecedented challenge from Beijing.

Lam's annual policy address came as her government stood accused of attacking press freedoms for barring a Financial Times journalist from working in Hong Kong after he chaired a talk by an independence activist at the city's press club.

Any talk of independence incenses Beijing as President Xi Jinping increasingly emphasises the importance of territorial integrity.

"I will not tolerate any acts that advocate Hong Kong's independence and threaten the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests," Lam told legislators in a televised address.

"We will fearlessly take action against such acts according to the law in order to safeguard the interests of the country and Hong Kong."

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#31 Australian law allows religious schools to reject gay students, PM says

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said religious schools in Australia are already legally allowed to deny students a place based on their sexual orientation, following criticism of a leaked report that proposes allowing schools to bar them.

Morrison was commenting on the contents of a leaked report on religious freedoms, reigniting debate about what constitutes unlawful discrimination against gay people just months after Australia's Parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

Fairfax Media reported Wednesday it had seen contents of the report, which recommended amendments to a federal law that allows religious schools to discriminate against students "on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status."

When asked if he thought religious schools should be able to turn away students on the basis of sexual orientation, Morrison demurred twice, saying "that is the existing law."

The Prime Minister's office said he was referring to a section in the federal Sex Discrimination Act that exempts religious educational institutions from some discrimination requirements. However, some states have passed their own discrimination laws and do not allow religious schools to reject students on the basis of sexual orientation.

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#32 Heavy rains, floods kill at least eight on Spain’s Mallorca

At least eight people including two Britons were killed as heavy rain and flash floods hit the Spanish island of Mallorca late on Tuesday, authorities said.

Torrents of brown water swept cars along narrow streets in the eastern town of Sant Llorenc. Rivers burst their banks and swamped roads and people's homes - forcing some to take shelter in a sports center in the nearby town of Manacor.

At least another nine people were still missing after the downpours, El Pais and other media reported, though emergency services said they could not confirm that figure.

Two of the victims were British, a senior official from the San Llorenc mayor's office, Antonia Bauza, told radio station Cadena Ser.

"It's been a huge storm. In just two hours, some 180 liters of rain fell and we realized that we could not control the water," Bauza said.

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#33 France’s government reshuffle delayed while Macron is abroad

PARIS — The French presidency says a government reshuffle will take place after President Emmanuel Macron is back from a trip to Armenia at the end of the week.

New government members are expected to be named following the resignation of the interior minister last week, as Macron wants to seize the occasion to extend the restructuring to other positions.

The French leader is traveling to Armenia from Wednesday to Friday evening.

He wants to take "all the time needed with calm, professionalism and respect," the presidency's statement said Wednesday.

Political opponents criticize the absence of an interior minister for more than a week as a sign of weakness from the government.

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#34 Australia sorry for vaginal mesh ‘agony’

The Australian government has issued a national apology to women affected by a vaginal mesh scandal, acknowledging decades of "agony and pain".

Mesh implants are at the centre of health scandal affecting women around the world, prompting lawsuits in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

Earlier this year, an Australian inquiry acknowledged that the devices had ruined the lives of many women.

It also found that some patients had been ignored when they reported pain.

More than 700 women in Australia have joined a class action against one manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, but lawyers say up to 8,000 women may have been affected.

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#35 Haiti says 17 killed in quake, more than 2,000 homes damaged

The weekend earthquake which battered Haiti killed 17 people, authorities said on Tuesday, and damaged or destroyed nearly 2,500 houses, sparking fears that many buildings are in a precarious state in the impoverished Caribbean country.

The shallow, magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck northern Haiti on Saturday, spreading panic, particularly around Port-de-Paix, a coastal town that absorbed the brunt of the shockwave.

Two more people were confirmed dead on Tuesday, taking the death toll to 17, according to Haiti's civil protection agency. Another 333 people were injured, it said. Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant said 2,280 houses were damaged and 168 destroyed.

The quake, centered just off the north coast, was one of the strongest to hit Haiti since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake near Port-au-Prince killed tens of thousands of people in 2010.

There have been several aftershocks, causing alarm around Port-de-Paix, particularly inside the local prison.

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#36 Turkish Officials Say Khashoggi Was Killed on Order of Saudi Leadership

ANKARA, Turkey — Top Turkish security officials have concluded that the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on orders from the highest levels of the royal court, a senior official said Tuesday.

The official described a quick and complex operation in which Mr. Khashoggi was killed within two hours of his arrival at the consulate by a team of Saudi agents, who dismembered his body with a bone saw they brought for the purpose.

“It is like ‘Pulp Fiction,’” the official said.

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Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have denied the allegations, insisting that Mr. Khashoggi left the consulate freely shortly after he arrived. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has demanded that the Saudis provide evidence proving their claim.

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#37 With Bolton ascendant, Haley’s departure sparks fears

The surprise resignation of Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador on Tuesday deprives President Trump’s “America First” philosophy of its most enthusiastic and articulate advocate.

Less clear is whether Haley’s departure marks any change in Trump’s increasingly combative and unilateralist foreign policy.

There were moments when Haley, who often represented an alternative power center in the administration, seemed out of step with the White House and more in line with the sort of traditional Republican foreign policy that Trump spurned. “She would make speeches that bore little or no relation to Trump’s position,” said Thomas Wright, a senior fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution.

The differences were most notable in her advocacy on behalf of human rights and in Russia policy, areas where Haley touted a hard line that conflicted with the White House’s nebulous and contradictory policy.

Just weeks into the Trump presidency, Haley delivered a speech at the United Nations in which she vowed to keep the pressure on Moscow for its ­“aggressive actions” in Ukraine, including the annexation of Crimea.

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#38 South Korea considers lifting some sanctions on North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — Seoul is considering lifting some of its unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang to create more momentum for diplomacy aimed at improving relations and defusing the nuclear crisis, South Korea's foreign minister said Wednesday.

During a parliamentary audit of her ministry, Kang Kyung-wha said the government is reviewing whether to lift sanctions South Korea imposed on the North in 2010 following a deadly attack on a warship that killed 45 South Korean sailors.

Seoul then effectively shut down all cross-border economic cooperation except for a joint factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, which was shuttered in February 2016 after a North Korean nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

Such a move by South Korea would have little immediate effect since U.S.-led international sanctions remain in place. But it's clear Seoul's liberal government is preparing to restart joint economic projects if the larger nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea begin yielding results.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has described inter-Korean engagement as crucial to resolving the nuclear standoff. A large number of South Korean CEOs accompanied Moon last month to Pyongyang, where he and Kim Jong Un agreed to normalize operations at the Kaesong factory park and resume joint tours to the North when possible, voicing optimism the international sanctions could end and allow such projects.

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#39 Taiwan’s president denounces Beijing’s negative influence worldwide

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on China to be a "responsible" country on the world stage rather than provoking unnecessary conflict, amid worsening relations between Beijing and the island it considers a renegade province.

Tsai made the remarks during a television speech on Wednesday, Taiwan's National Day, which marks the 107th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China, as the island is officially known.

The Taiwan President said the island had no intention of recklessly provoking China but said Beijing should also avoid being a "source of conflict."

"Recently, China's verbal attacks, military threats and diplomatic suppression have not only challenged cross-strait relations but also challenged the peace and stability across the strait," she said.

Tsai said she would work to strengthen the island's national security in response to the increasing threats from Beijing, which she said had been exerting growing pressure on the island. In September, the US approved a $330 million arms sale to Taiwan, primarily spare parts for the island's air force.

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#40 Canada welcomes new citizens in sky-high ceremony

Suspended more than a 1,000 feet (300 meters) above downtown Toronto, six new Canadians took the oath of citizenship on Tuesday from the edge of one of the world's tallest structures.

Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen administered the oath to the new citizens, hailing from six different countries, as they were held in cables off a 116-story-high platform known as the EdgeWalk, on the side of the landmark CN Tower.

The tower, which soars 1,815 feet (553 meters), has hosted citizenship ceremonies before, but not one from such breathless heights, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

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