IT40 News for 11/24/2018

it40 winterstormweather


#1 Major winter storm packing strong winds, heavy snow may disrupt holiday weekend travel

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Travelers wait in security lines at the Pittsburgh International Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, in Moon, Pa. Thanksgiving travelers got help from favorable weather in most of the U.S. on Tuesday, but forecasters say a major winter storm across the northern tier could play havoc with travelers heading home during the weekend.'s end.

A major winter storm moving across the country's northern tier Saturday night is expected to bring heavy snow and strong winds from the Rockies to the Central Plains and into the Great Lakes, creating headaches on major highways and at key airports for holiday travelers heading home.

The National Weather Service says the storm may produce blizzard conditions especially in the hardest-hit areas.

"Dangerous travel conditions caused by heavy snow and reduced visibility are expected to end the holiday weekend," according to the NWS.

Strong winds and heavy snow are likely in Chicago Sunday afternoon, raising prospects of flight delays and cancellations at O'Hare International Airport, a major hub.

"The combination of extra moisture from Lake Michigan, colder air and strong winds may lead to whiteout conditions and a rapid accumulation of snow in Chicago during the second half of the storm," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis.

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#2 Major Trump administration climate report says damage is ‘intensifying across the country’

The federal government on Friday released a long-awaited report with an unmistakable message: The effects of climate change, including deadly wildfires, increasingly debilitating hurricanes and heat waves, are already battering the United States, and the danger of more such catastrophes is worsening.

The report’s authors, who represent numerous federal agencies, say they are more certain than ever that climate change poses a severe threat to Americans' health and pocketbooks, as well as to the country’s infrastructure and natural resources. And while it avoids policy recommendations, the report’s sense of urgency and alarm stands in stark contrast to the lack of any apparent plan from President Trump to tackle the problems, which, according to the government he runs, are increasingly dire.

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#3 Pelosi blasts Trump’s move to bar transgender troops, calls it ‘disgusting’ and ‘cowardly’

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President Trump’s decision late Friday to ban transgender Americans from serving in the U.S. military was blasted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who called the move “cowardly” and “disgusting.”

The Trump administration issued a memorandum that bars people with a history of “gender dysphoria,” which would require medical treatment, from being admitted to the U.S. military “except under certain limited circumstances.”

Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, immediately released a statement slamming the memorandum and condemning the Trump administration.

“This latest memorandum is the same cowardly, disgusting ban the President announced last summer. No one with the strength and bravery to serve in the U.S. military should be turned away because of who they are,” she said in a statement.

“The President’s hateful ban is purpose-built to humiliate our brave transgender members of the military who serve with honor and dignity," she added. "It will harm our nation’s readiness and hollow out our strength, for we only strengthen our military by honoring our values of freedom and equality.”

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#4 Boris Warns Brexit Plan Akin to Titanic Heading Toward Doom

(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson said the U.K. is on the brink of a “historic mistake,” comparing Theresa May’s Brexit plan to the Titanic heading toward disaster.

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To help avoid the return of checkpoints on the Irish border, May’s deal suggests the entire U.K. could remain in a customs union with the EU until a better solution is found. But Northern Ireland will also keep many of the EU’s rules -- and that means added checks on goods arriving from mainland Britain.

“The Titanic springs to mind, and now is the time to point the iceberg ahead,” Johnson, the U.K.’s former Foreign Secretary, said in a speech at the Democratic Unionist Party conference in Belfast on Saturday. “This deal risks further economic and political humiliation.” His speech received a standing ovation.

Johnson called on May to “junk” the so-called backstop, which he said risks leaving the U.K. as a “satellite state.” Both the U.K. and EU say they want to avoid the backstop ever being triggered, but so far that hasn’t been enough to reassure the DUP, whose 10 lawmakers keep May in power.

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#5 Five things to watch as Congress braces for end-of-the-year shutdown fight

Negotiators say they don't want to kick the funding fight to next year, but lawmakers will have just 10 scheduled work days to strike a deal by the Dec. 7 deadline.

Significant political clashes are shadowing the funding battle.

Republicans are losing power in the House, and want to finish the bill while they have the majority.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is locked in a battle for the speakership, which could make it tougher for her to compromise.

Here are five areas to watch.

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#6 May flies to Brussels for Brexit summit

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is returning to Brussels for last-minute meetings before Sunday's Brexit summit with EU leaders.

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The meeting has been called to give formal approval to the agreement, struck between the UK and the EU earlier this month, laying out the terms of the UK's departure from the 28-nation bloc.

Down-to-the-wire talks Saturday evening with the EU's top officials are expected to address Spanish concerns over the thorny issue of Gibraltar, the tiny British territory on the Iberian Peninsula.

Madrid is demanding written commitments from London about the territory's future status in negotiations between the EU and the UK.

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#7 Adam Schiff’s multifaceted plan to corner Trump on the money trail

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has some big plans next year when he takes the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee from Devin Nunes.

When Democrats take control of the House in January, Schiff will be able to do more than simply vent his frustration with the investigatory ventures prioritized by the outgoing GOP majority. Through a series of declarations and reports about an effort to gear up for brand new inquiries, one thing is clear about Schiff's plans: He's got his sights set on President Trump.

Among the projects to which Schiff is ready to commit are:

-- Schiff told the Washington Post that he plans to investigate the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, and furthermore Trump's dismissal of the CIA's high-confidence conclusion that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the plot. “We’ll look at what the intelligence community assessments are at any given time,” Schiff told the Post's liberal columnist Greg Sargent. “Then it will be quite clear whether the president is relying on the intelligence community and our best source of information or whether the president is representing something very different.” He further stated Trump's financial ties to Saudi Arabia would be of top interest. "There are a whole set of potential financial conflicts of interest and emoluments problems that Congress will need to get to the bottom of," Schiff added.

-- Even before the 2018 midterm elections, Schiff was pledging to rekindle the intelligence panel's Russia investigation, which wrapped up earlier this year, finding no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Schiff signaled that he and his Democratic allies would revive the probe, which they have long argued ended prematurely, and signaled that he aims to discover if Russia has any financial leverage over Trump. “The president has sought to keep that off limits, but if that’s the leverage Russians pose that’s a real threat to our country,” he said.

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#8 It’s not just Ocasio-Cortez: Here are 7 freshman Democrats to watch

Slideshow by Reuters

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first rocked the political world by toppling Queens party boss Rep. Joe Crowley and the incoming freshman continues to shake up the way things are done on Capitol Hill.

But the 29-year-old Democratic socialist isn’t the only newcomer looking to leave her mark on the 116th Congress.

More than three dozen freshman Democrats will join the House next Congress — the biggest Democratic class in four decades and the most diverse group ever elected.

The incoming class boasts a range of backgrounds and ideologies, from liberal insurgents like Ocasio-Cortez to candidates who scored unexpected victories in deep-red districts long claimed by Republicans.

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#9 Former Bears coach Mike Ditka hospitalized after heart attack, reports say

Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka was hospitalized this week in Florida after suffering a heart attack, according to multiple reports.

Ditka, 79, was playing golf in Florida when he fell ill and was taken to a hospital, Fox 32 in Chicago reported Friday.

Ditka, who coached the Bears from 1982 to 1992 and the Saints from 1997 to 1999, has a history of heart issues. He suffered a heart attack in 1988, per Fox 32.

WGN reported Ditka was improving and was "expected to be home in three or four days for rehab."

Jarrett Payton, son of Bears great Walter Payton, tweeted that Ditka "is doing well. He's Iron Mike ... what would you expect?"

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#10 French protesters angry over fuel taxes clash with police

PARIS (AP) — French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris on Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency.

Thousands of police were deployed nationwide to contain the demonstrations, including a tense protest at the foot of the Champs-Elysees where protesters burned barriers and large plywood sheets, wielded placards reading "Death to Taxes" and upturned a large vehicle.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in the clashes, but 18 were detained for various acts including for "throwing projectiles," Paris police told The Associated Press.

"It's going to trigger a civil war and me, like most other citizens, we're all ready," said Benjamin Vrignaud, a 21-year-old protester from Chartres.

The famed avenue was speckled with plumes of smoke and neon — owing to the color of the vests the myriad self-styled "yellow jacket" protesters don. French drivers are required to keep neon security vests in their vehicles.

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#11 Amazon’s European workers go on strike for Black Friday

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Amazon's European workers go on strike for Black Friday

Some of Amazon's European employees walked out in protest of unfair work conditions to coincide with Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Protesters left facilities all over the continent, including Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.

Labor groups in Madrid told the Associated Press that 90 percent of workers at a logistics depot near the city walked out. Douglas Harper of the CCOO trade union confederation said that only two employees were at the loading dock.

In the UK, union officials representing Amazon workers released a statement that hundreds are expected to protest at the five locations across the country.

"Jeff Bezos is the richest bloke on the planet; he can afford to sort this out," said Tim Roache, general secretary of GMB.

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#12 Demi Lovato Shares Thanksgiving Message to Fans After Unfollowing Celebrity Friends

Demi Lovato was spreading the love this Thanksgiving. 

The 26-year-old former Disney Channel star took to her Instagram Story on Thursday to share a Thanksgiving message with her fans after leaving rehab earlier this month. 

"Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!!" Lovato wrote alongside a photo of her impressive Thanksgiving spread, which included stuffing, gravy and turkey. The post is a rare one for the "Tell Me You Love Me" singer, who has been laying low on social media since she was hospitalized in July following an apparent drug overdose. She has since completed a three-month treatment program to focus on her sobriety.

Lovato's post comes days after she unfollowed celebrity friends like Selena Gomez, Nick Jonas and Iggy Azalea. A source told ET it was an attempt to "focus on herself" and "avoid any difficult relationships." 

"She needs to surround herself with those that support her goals and to stay away from any negativity," the source said. "Demi has come a very long way. She's grown emotionally and matured a great deal through this process. She realizes there is no quick fix and has accepted the fact she needs to take this one day at a time. She still has a sober companion and she has built a very strong support group."

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#13 More Dems threaten to withhold support for Pelosi

© Susan Walsh
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Nov. 15, 2018.

Democratic members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus are warning House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) she won't win their votes for speaker if she doesn’t back their proposed rules changes.

“We will only vote for a speaker candidate who supports ‘Break the Gridlock’ rules changes,” the group of nine Democrats said in a statement Friday.

Pelosi, the only declared candidate for speaker, is working to counter opposition from another group of Democrats who gathered 16 signatures from members and members-elect pledging to oppose her for speaker in a Jan. 3 floor vote. The House Democratic Caucus will vote for a speaker nominee in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, but Pelosi will need to win a majority of votes from members present and voting in January to win back the speaker’s gavel.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who weighed a bid for speaker, was on an initial draft of that letter. But she withdrew her opposition and endorsed Pelosi this week after the California Democrat offered to make her chairwoman of the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections.

Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), who signed the letter, reversed himself Wednesday after Pelosi pledged to prioritize an infrastructure bill and legislation to open Medicare to people over the age of 50. Higgins had criticized the Democratic leader for months, vowing repeatedly to vote against her in the new Congress.

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#14 Camp Fire is nearly contained as 475 people remain missing

At least 475 people remain unaccounted for so far, down from thousands days earlier, the Butte County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. 

The state's deadliest wildfire, which started on November 8, is now 95% contained after rain helped firefighters extinguish some of the hot spots, according to Cal Fire. 

"All containment lines continue to hold around the fire," it said. "The 5% of the fire that remains uncontained is located in steep and rugged terrain where it is unsafe for firefighters to access due to the heavy rains."

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#15 Wisconsin Students Won’t be Punished Over Nazi Salutes

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Students at a Wisconsin high school won't face punishment over pictures in which they appear to make a Nazi salute

A Wisconsin high school will not be punishing students who made what appeared to be a Nazi salute in a junior prom group photograph, because doing so would violate their First Amendment rights. 

The picture showing around 60 students from Baraboo High School, some raising their arm in a Nazi salute, went viral after being posted on Twitter earlier in November. 

Photographer Peter Gust–who took the picture—has claimed that the students were waving, an account disputed by one student in the picture who did not raise his arm. 

The Auschwitz Memorial said the images showed the “danger of hateful ideology rising,” and there were calls for the students to be punished for making the gesture.

In a letter to parents Baraboo Superintendent Lori Mueller said the district can’t punish the students because they are protected by the First Amendment. 

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#16 Just north of the US-Mexico border, ‘Little Dog,’ ‘Weasel’ and other militia members keep an eye out for migrants

CAMPO, Calif. - Robert Crooks is up before sunrise on a hill he calls "Patriot Point," walkie-talkie in hand and loaded semi-automatic handgun holstered on his right hip.

To protect himself, he wears a vest padded with National Geographic magazines - including one celebrating great white sharks.

Directly in front of him is a border wall made of steel landing mats left over from the Vietnam War. Just a few hundred feet from the Mexican border, Crooks scans the landscape for any sign of an immigrant trying to cross into the United States.

A Las Vegas resident, Crooks heads the Mountain Minutemen. Along with other militia members in Texas, his group has been gearing up as thousands of migrants from Central America steadily make their way to the U.S. border to ask for asylum.

The presence of the militias is small, coordinated, and has a muse in President Donald Trump. Last Friday, Trump called the caravan a "big con." Last month, he tweeted that "very bad thugs" and gang members were among the migrants.

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#18 Spain to back Brexit deal after UK agrees to Gibraltar terms

BRUSSELS — The European Union moved closer to sealing an agreement on Brexit after Spain said it had reached a deal with Britain over Gibraltar, a key obstacle on the eve of a European Union summit on Sunday.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Saturday that Madrid would support the Brexit divorce deal after the U.K. and the EU agreed to give Spain a say in the future of the disputed British territory of Gibraltar, which lies at the southern tip of the Mediterranean nation.

Sanchez said that the deal is "is going to allow us to have direct negotiations with the U.K. regarding Gibraltar."

Shortly before Sanchez spoke at the Moncloa presidential palace in Madrid, EU spokesman Preben Aamann tweeted that after a phone conversation between Sanchez and EU Council President Donald Tusk "we are closer" to a deal before the Brussels summit when EU leaders are supposed to sign off on the Brexit agreement between Britain and the EU.

The tiny territory of Gibraltar — ceded to Britain in 1713 but still claimed by Spain — was the only dispute left hanging before the summit and had turned into an obstinate stumbling block.

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#19 How Amazon forest loss may affect water—and climate—far away

The president-elect of Brazil has big plans for the Amazon rainforest.

He wants to carve more mines and pave new roads. He wants fewer penalties for cutting down trees, and he has promised to halt growth of a network of indigenous forest reserves. By merging the nation's agriculture and environment ministries, he hopes to make it easier for Brazil's powerful soy and cattle industries to transform more native jungle into pasture and farms.

When Jair Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old retired Brazilian military officer, takes the helm in January of a country that manages 1.5 million square miles of the Amazon, the risks to wildlife and indigenous tribal communities will be clear. If Bolsonaro follows through on his campaign promises, deforestation rates in Brazil could almost immediately triple, according to an assessment by scientists.

But the consequences of Bolsonaro's policies also would be felt far beyond areas hit by chainsaws. Even modest increases in deforestation could affect water supplies in Brazilian cities and in neighboring countries while harming the very farms he is trying to expand. More massive deforestation might alter water supplies as far away as Africa or California.

Most troubling of all: Some scientists suggest the Amazon may already be nearing a tipping point. The region has been so degraded that even a small uptick in deforestation could send the forest hurtling toward a transition to something resembling a woodland savanna, according to an analysis earlier this year by two top scientists. In addition to forever destroying huge sections of the world's largest rainforest, that shift would release tremendous quantities of planet-warming greenhouse gases, which could hasten the decline of whatever forest remained.

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#20 Iran’s Rouhani calls for Muslims to unite against United States

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Muslims worldwide on Saturday to unite against the United States, instead of "rolling out red carpets for criminals".

Washington in May reimposed sanctions on Tehran, after President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran under which they had been lifted.

"Submitting to the West headed by America would be treason against our religion ... and against the future generations of this region," Rouhani told an international conference on Islamic unity in Tehran, in a speech broadcast live on state television.

"We have a choice to either roll out red carpets for criminals, or to forcefully stand against injustice and remain faithful to our Prophet, our Koran and our Islam," Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states which have close ties to Washington.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional rivals and have supported opposing sides in conflicts in Syria and Yemen and different political factions in Iraq and Lebanon.

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#21 Tijuana mayor declares ‘humanitarian crisis’ over migrants

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — The mayor of Tijuana has declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city and said Friday he was asking the United Nations for aid to deal with the approximately 5,000 Central American migrants, most of whom were camped out inside a sports complex.

The comments by Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum came as city officials and volunteers worked together to assist the 4,976 men, women and children who had arrived after more than a month on the road. The Trump administration has spent weeks lambasting the caravan, which it said was filled with criminals, gang members and even — it insinuated at one point without any proof — terrorists.

Manuel Figueroa, who leads the city's social services department, said Tijuana was bringing in portable toilets and showers, as well as shampoo and soap.

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#22 UK releases new clips of Russian nerve agent attack suspects

British police have released CCTV footage of two suspected Russian intelligence agents walking toward Sergei Skripal's home on the day of the former spy's poisoning with a nerve agent.

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The clips show the Russians -- known by the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov -- appearing to take photographs on their arrival in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped unconscious on a park bench that same afternoon.

British police believe they were poisoned by a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok designed by Moscow specifically to conduct assassinations abroad.

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#23 Khashoggi’s daughters in op-ed: ‘His light will never fade’

Noha and Razan Khashoggi wrote in the Post that their father's "light will never fade" and he was "a loving man with a big heart."

Khashoggi was last seen in October entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain a marriage document.

The daughters wrote that the "hardest part was seeing his empty chair" when visiting his Virginia home after he disappeared.

The op-ed, which the daughters said was not a "eulogy," had a distinctly optimistic tone, focusing on Khashoggi's accomplishments instead of his passing.

"We feel blessed to have been raised with his moral compass, his respect for knowledge and truth, and his love. Until we meet again in the next life."

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#24 Hillary Clinton calls for reform, ‘not open borders,’ in explaining European migration remarks

Hillary Clinton on Friday attempted to clarify her comments on European migration hailed by some on the far right, saying that immigration reform, "not open borders," is needed "on both sides of the Atlantic."

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"I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame," the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee told the Guardian newspaper in an interview published Thursday.

Far right parties have used the issue in Europe to score several election victories.

"I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message — 'we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support' — because if we don't deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic," Clinton continued.

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#25 Think again? Calls mount for British to vote again on Brexit.

On a busy market square, Diane Holden stands by a whiteboard attached to a metal railing. “Brexitometer” it reads – a play on Brexit, the all-consuming national drama – above a row of columns.

Ms. Holden and her Brexitometer are part of a widening campaign to hold a second referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union, which is what 52 percent of voters backed in a 2016 vote. Campaigners want another plebiscite on the Brexit deal, a do-over that could stop it in its tracks.

“How do you feel about the process?” she asks shoppers, competing with the throaty cries of fruit-and-vegetable sellers for their attention. “Do you think it’s going well?”

Those who stop to talk are invited to put colored dots in the whiteboard columns. Aylesbury, a prosperous rural market town 45 miles northwest of London, narrowly voted “Leave” in 2016, but many residents are unhappy with the way things have worked out since. Is Brexit going well? (Most chose No.) Will it be good for jobs? (No.) Should there be a new national vote on the final deal? (The clincher: Yes.)

What began as a quixotic and quarrelsome campaign, dismissed by Brexit backers as a fringe rearguard action, has in recent months moved into Britain’s political mainstream. Last month 700,000 people marched in London in favor of a “People’s Vote,” and support has built up among members of parliament from all parties.

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#27 10 Years in Prison for Exaggerating Her Elementary School Record?

ATHENS, Greece — A prosecutor on Greece’s Supreme Court is set to intervene in a case of educational fraud that has roiled the country and united political parties, labor unions and rights groups: A 53-year-old cleaner is serving 10 years in prison for falsifying her primary school diploma to get a public sector job.

An initial court ruling two years ago handed the woman a 15-year prison term for defrauding the public; the sentence was reduced this month, and she has been in Thiva prison in central Greece ever since.

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An online petition for her release had drawn more than 20,000 signatures by Friday afternoon.

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#28 AP Interview: Saudi royal says crown prince is here to stay

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A prominent Saudi royal said Saturday that whether or not heads of state gathered in Argentina next week for the Group of 20 summit warmly engage with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he is someone "that they have to deal with."

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Prince Turki al-Faisal told The Associated Press the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul last month is "an unacceptable incident that tars and mars the long record of Saudi Arabia's own standing in the world."

"We will have to bear that. It's not something that should not be faced. And we do face it," he said.

Intelligence officials and analysts say the operation to kill Khashoggi, who wrote critically of the crown prince for The Washington Post, could not have happened without Prince Mohammed's knowledge. The kingdom, which has offered several conflicting accounts of the killing, denies the crown prince had any involvement.

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#29 For Central Americans, children open a path to the U.S. — and bring a discount

CHANMAGUA, Guatemala —To mark attendance in Diana Melisa Contreras’s kindergarten classroom, students place tongue depressors into little white cups painted with their names.

There were 29 cups at the start of the school year. Then Contreras’s students and their parents began leaving their small village in the coffee-growing hills of southern Guatemala, joining the torrent of migration to the United States. With more families preparing to depart in the coming weeks, Contreras has been told her class will only have five students next term, and she will be transferred to teach at a different school.

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“They’re all going to the United States,” she said. “I’m being left without kids.”

More than ever before, if you look at the current surge of Central American migrants to the United States, you will see the face of a child. The past five years have rewritten the story of who crosses America’s southern border: It is no longer just the young man traveling alone looking for work. Now that man, or woman, will often be holding the hand of a young boy or girl.

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#30 14 Palestinian protesters wounded by Israeli gunfire: Gaza ministry

At least 14 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire Friday during protests along the Gaza border, the enclave's health ministry said, as a lull in deadly violence held after a truce deal last week.

Thousands of demonstrators turned out for the protests but largely kept their distance from the fortified frontier.

Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said 14 people were injured by Israeli army fire along the border, including "a child shot in the chest east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp" in the central Gaza Strip.

An AFP correspondent said protesters held back from launching burning tyres or balloons carrying flaming material towards Israel -- tactics they have frequently employed since the border protests began in March.

Demonstrators were directed "to keep back from the separation fence and to maintain peaceful protests... to give a chance to Egyptian efforts to calm things down", an organiser told AFP.

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#31 Jets, Horses and Bribes: How a Venezuelan Official Became a Billionaire as His Country Crumbled

The opulent lifestyle of the Andrade family was as spectacular as the economic collapse of the country they left behind.

Venezuelan immigrants, the family lived in a mansion in Florida surrounded by show horses, as neighbors peeked over the property line in awe. The family patriarch, Alejandro Andrade, had been a bodyguard of President Hugo Chávez before rising to powerful positions in his government.

This month, Mr. Andrade will be known for something else: On Nov. 27, he is expected to be sentenced for taking bribes as Venezuela’s treasurer, in a money-laundering scheme that made him a billionaire.

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Venezuela is facing its worst economic crisis in modern history. Inflation and devastating shortages of food and medicine have forced more than three million people to flee the country, according to the United Nations.

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#32 London police target ‘moped bandits’ by driving into them in new crime-fighting tactic

London police say their tough tactic of ramming violent “thieves” off their moped as they flee has helped bring down crime in the city.

Scotland Yard released a video Friday showing a team of specially trained drivers knocking suspects off their mopeds and motorcycles, saying offenders will be targeted “at every opportunity.”

“Offenders on mopeds and motorcycles who attempt to evade the police are making a choice that puts themselves and others at risk,” Commander Amanda Pearson said in a statement. “So our message is clear: we can, we will, and we do target those involved in moped and motorcycle crime at every opportunity.”

The video shows police pursuing several suspects across London, many time ramming into them and knocking them off their bikes.


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#33 Suicide bomber strikes Pakistan market hours after foiled assault on Chinese consulate in Karachi

Video by the Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —A suicide bomber killed at least 30 people at a market in northern Pakistan on Friday, just hours after gunmen assaulted the Chinese consulate in the southern city of Karachi, killing four.

The two attacks on opposite sides of the country were likely unconnected, but they underlined the myriad security challenges Pakistan faces, including those from separatists and the Pakistani Taliban based in the northern border regions.

The attacker in the northern Orakzai district drove a motorcycle into the heart of a weekly market in the town of Kalaya and detonated his explosives, according to Reuters. Local health officials said at least 30 people were killed in the blast and that more than 50 others were injured, 30 of them seriously. Authorities said most of the victims were minority Shiite Muslims.

Pakistani authorities have long battled militants in these remote regions near the Afghan border. The region also has been marked by tension between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and the blast was near a Shiite mosque that may have been a target.

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#34 Pakistan arrests top leader of Islamist party in Lahore

LAHORE, Pakistan — The party of a radical Islamic cleric who disrupted daily life with rallies across Pakistan following the acquittal of a Christian woman in a blasphemy case says he has been arrested by police in the city of Lahore.

In a statement, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party said their leader, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, was arrested Friday.

It also said police arrested scores of its supporters.

The arrests came weeks after Rizvi's supporters held violent rallies against the Oct. 31 acquittal of Asia Bibi by the Supreme Court.

Bibi had been on death row since 2010 on charges of insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

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#35 France to return African treasures to Benin

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday agreed to return 26 cultural artefacts to Benin "without delay", a move that could put pressure on other former colonial powers to return African artworks to their countries of origin.

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The decision -- which Macron said should not be seen as an isolated or symbolic case -- came as the president received the findings of a study he commissioned on repatriating African treasures held by French museums.

Macron agreed to return the 26 works, mainly royal statues from the Palaces of Abomey -- formerly the capital of the kingdom of Dahomey -- taken by the French army during a war in 1892 and now in Paris' Quai Branly museum.

In addition, he proposed gathering African and European partners in Paris next year to define a framework for an "exchange policy" for African artworks.

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#36 Mexico’s axolotl, a cartoon hero and genetic marvel, fights for survival

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's axolotl salamander can almost magically heal itself, holding the power to regrow its heart and brain. But there is one feat it may not pull off: survive dire threats to the last wild place it calls home.

Plagued by polluted water, predatory fish and the steady encroachment of one of the world's biggest megacities, the tiny amphibian steeped in mythological lore has all but disappeared from its home in the muddy canals of southern Mexico City.

Once a mainstay on the banquet tables of Aztec kings, in 1998 there were about 6,000 axolotls per square kilometer in the salamander's main redoubt, the waterways of the city's Xochimilco district, a scientific census showed.

By 2004, the population had dropped to 1,000 per sq/km, and to less than 35 per sq/km a decade later.

By 2020, there may be none, according to one model.

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#37 Saudi crown prince on 1st trip abroad since Khashoggi killed

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was in the United Arab Emirates on Friday, on his first tour abroad since the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

The prince, who arrived in Abu Dhabi late on Thursday, is also due to visit other Mideast countries, where he will be warmly received by Arab leaders who have stood firmly by his side amid international outrage over Khashoggi's horrific slaying.

The crown prince will round off his tour with a stop in Argentina where he'll come face-to-face with world leaders on Nov. 30 for the two-day Group of 20 summit. Among those expected to attend that summit are President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has kept international pressure mounting on the kingdom in the wake of Khashoggi's killing.

His tour abroad underscores the strong support the crown prince continues to have from his 82-year-old father, King Salman, and signals that he faces no immediate threats to his grip on power at home.

Upon arrival to the UAE, Prince Mohammed was warmly embraced by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. The two crown princes— who also command their countries' armed forces— are known to be close, with the more experienced Abu Dhabi crown prince reportedly offering his insights to the 33-year-old Saudi prince on past occasions.

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#38 In China, a School Trains Boys to be ‘Real Men’

BEIJING — Tang Haiyan runs his school with a clear mission in mind: He will train boys to be men.

There are many ways to be a man, of course, but the broad-shouldered Mr. Tang has a particular kind of man in mind. This man plays sports. This man conquers challenges.

“We will teach the children to play golf, go sailing and be equestrians,” said Mr. Tang, 39, “but we will never cultivate sissies.”

Mr. Tang founded the Real Boys Club, which stands at the forefront of a deep conversation in China about what it means to be a man. It’s a debate that has been stirred by worries about military effectiveness, an embrace of traditional culture and roles, disappointing academic performance among boys and echoes of the defunct one-child policy.

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#39 Berlin man, 95, charged over 36,000 deaths in Nazi camp

German prosecutors on Friday charged a 95-year-old man with more than 36,000 counts of accessory to murder over his alleged time as a Nazi concentration camp guard during World War II.

The allegations against the accused, identified only as Hans H., concern atrocities committed at the Mauthausen camp in Austria, the Berlin public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Hans H. is believed to have belonged to the SS-Totenkopfsturmbann (Death's Head Battalion) between summer 1944 and spring 1945 at Mauthausen, part of the Nazis' vast network of concentration camps where inmates were forced to perform slave labour.

Prosecutors argue that by working as a guard at the site, the accused contributed to tens of thousands of prisoner deaths.

During his time at the camp, at least 36,223 inmates died. Guards took part in killings by gas, fatal injections, gunfire and other means, while many more prisoners died of hunger or frostbite, prosecutors said.

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#40 Turkey accuses Trump of ‘turning a blind eye’ to Khashoggi’s killing

AMMAN, Jordan - For months, Turkish officials have been leaking gruesome details surrounding Jamal Khashoggi's death as a counter to President Donald Trump's moves to absolve Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Trump ally thought to be behind the Saudi journalist's slaying.

But Ankara took a more direct approach on Friday, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu slamming Trump for "turning a blind eye" in Khashoggi's death, and accusing him of putting money above human values.

Trump's statements in support of the prince mean that the president is saying, in essence, "'Whatever happens, I will turn a blind eye,'" Cavusoglu said in an interview Friday with CNN's Turkish affiliate, CNN Turk. "This is not the right approach. Money is not everything. ... We shouldn't abandon our humanitarian values."

Cavusoglu's rebuke echoes those from other Turkish officials, who have described as comical an exclamation-point-filled message from the president concerning reports that the prince ordered Khashoggi's slaying.

"Maybe he did, maybe he didn't," Trump wrote on Tuesday in a rambling 633-word message, later adding, "In any case, our relationship is with Saudi Arabia." He also thanked the kingdom for its support against Iran and "keeping oil prices at reasonable levels."

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