WIMS







3 dead, 11 injured in shooting in France, officials say

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The shooting is being treated as a terror attack, government officials said.

3 dead, 12 injured in shooting in France, officials say

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The shooting is being treated as a terror attack, government officials said.

Church of England issues new guidelines on welcoming trans people into the faith

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ChrisHepburn/iStock(LONDON) — The Church of England has issued new guidance saying that it “welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people” and offers clergy ways to help them celebrate the sacrament of baptism in a meaningful, inclusive way.

The pastoral guidance will be incorporated into a revised edition of Common Worship, the Church of England’s service book, and has already been published online. The revised print edition of Common Worship will be issued early next year.

 The document includes advice to ministers regarding how to celebrate baptism with a trans parishioner and how to sensitively use preferred gender pronouns during the ceremony, which are to be dependent on “the individual concerned.”

“If a transgender person is not already baptized, then baptism itself would be the natural liturgical context for recognizing and celebrating their identity in Christ and God’s love for them,” the new guidelines state. “The image of God, in which we are all made, transcends gender, race, and any other characteristic.”

Before the ceremony, ministers are encouraged to meet the person to “understand better their personal journey.” Clergy should also meet with their family in order to “be sensitive to their pastoral needs.”

This means that the service will have a “celebratory character,” according to the guidelines.

The move follows a motion in 2017 from the General Synod of the Church of England that sought to welcome the LGBT community into the church. As well as laying the groundwork for the advice published today, the motion recognized the “need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church.”

The news has been met with a mixed reaction by some Anglican groups.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the conservative evangelical group Christian Concern, told ABC News that the guidance demonstrated a “devastating trajectory towards an outright denial of God and his word.”

But the Reverend Canon Dr. Rachel Mann, who was instrumental in issuing the new guidelines, said that “this is about God’s love being made more visible for all” and that the move was “absolutely” a sign church attitudes were changing for the better.

“There will always be individuals and interest groups who will respond to this guidance negatively,” she said. “However, in my experience, they represent the margins rather than the mainstream. I expect this guidance to be warmly welcomed by the vast majority of people in the Church of England.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

2 dead, 11 injured in shooting in France, officials say

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The shooting is being treated as a terror attack, government officials said.

2 dead, 11 injured in shooting in France, officials say

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The shooting is being treated as a terror attack, government officials said.

Two dead, 11 injured in shooting in France, officials say

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

pixinoo/iStock(STRASBOURG, France) — At least two people have been killed and several more injured in a shooting in France, according to government officials.

The local prefecture in Strasbourg, about 300 miles east of Paris, wrote on Twitter than an individual opened fire in the center of the city on the Rue des Orfèvres around 8 p.m. local time.

The shooting is being treated as a terrorist attack, the Paris counter-terrorism prosecutor’s office told ABC News.

Of the wounded, seven people were seriously injured and four were slightly hurt, the local prefecture said.

The suspect has been identified, and police are looking for him, according to the local prefecture. He is on the “Fiche S” list, which is a list of people considered to be a threat to national security, authorities said.

The suspect is also known for petty crime, France’s Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said. Castaner is on his way to Strasbourg.

The local prefecture has ordered people in the area of Neudorf, a town southeast of Strasbourg, to stay in their homes.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Two dead, 11 injured in shooting in France, officials say

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

pixinoo/iStock(STRASBOURG, France) — At least two people have been killed and several more injured in a shooting in France, according to government officials.

The local prefecture in Strasbourg, about 300 miles east of Paris, wrote on Twitter than an individual opened fire in the center of the city on the Rue des Orfèvres around 8 p.m. local time.

The shooting is being treated as a terrorist attack, the Paris counter-terrorism prosecutor’s office told ABC News.

Of the wounded, seven people were seriously injured and four were slightly hurt, the local prefecture said.

The suspect has been identified, and police are looking for him, according to the local prefecture. He is on the “Fiche S” list, which is a list of people considered to be a threat to national security, authorities said.

The suspect is also known for petty crime, France’s Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said. Castaner is on his way to Strasbourg.

The local prefecture has ordered people in the area of Neudorf, a town southeast of Strasbourg, to stay in their homes.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

2 dead, several injured in shooting in France, officials say

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The shooting is being treated as a terror attack, government officials said.

France shooting: 2 dead, several wounded in Strasbourg

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

French officials say a shooting in the city of Strasbourg has killed two people and wounded up to eight others, sparking a major security operation around a world-famous Christmas market

One dead, 10 injured in shooting in France, local authorities say

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

pixinoo/iStock(STRASBOURG, France) — At least one person has been killed and 10 injured in a shooting in France, according to local authorities.

The local prefecture in Strasbourg, about 300 miles east of Paris, wrote on Twitter than an individual opened fire in the center of the city on the Rue des Orfèvres around 8 p.m. local time.

The suspect has been identified, and police are looking for him, according to the local prefecture.

France’s Interior Minister Christophe Castaner is on his way to Strasbourg. The Paris counter terrorism prosecutor’s office told ABC News it is evaluating the situation.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Former Ford Argentina executives sentenced in torture cases

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

An Argentine court has sentenced two former Ford Motor Co. executives to prison for helping agents of the country’s former dictatorship round up 24 Argentine union workers who were tortured and held in military jails

Putin attends funeral of legendary human rights activist

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alexeyeva died Satuday aged 91. She was Russia’s most revered activist

Russia buries legendary human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Carsten Koall/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — Russia on Tuesday buried the legendary human rights activist, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, whose fearless efforts to force the Soviet Union and later Russia’s government to observe its citizens’ rights made her a national celebrity.

Alexeyeva died on Saturday at the age of 91.

One of the last well-known Soviet-era dissidents, Alexeyeva was the doyenne of Russia’s human rights movement and an icon of the long struggle against political repression in the country. She had continued to campaign until her death and had appeared at rallies well into her eighties, denouncing the new turn back to authoritarianism under Vladimir Putin.

Even Putin could not ignore Alexeyeva’s stature and influence. He paid his respects at Tuesday’s in-state ceremony.

But in a mark of the political realties that Alexeyeva was still fighting against, her long-time collaborator, 77-year-old Lev Ponomarev, was unable to attend his friend’s funeral because he is currently serving a 16-day sentence for a Facebook post related to a protest over Putin’s rule. A court refused his request to be allowed out for the funeral.

Putin’s presence at the funeral produced a strange juxtaposition, as he sat among a group of Russia’s best-known human rights defenders, many of whom have dedicated their lives to defending the rights and political freedoms that his government has sought to suppress. Many of them have also been detained at rallies protesting Putin.

Alexeyeva’s open casket lay on a stage in a hall, surrounded by wreaths and flanked by a rotating honor guard of her fellow rights activists, most of them also now aged.

Putin arrived on the stage after they had gathered and, after laying flowers and touching the casket, sat with Alekseeva’s son Mikhail, talking with him. After around 10 minutes, Putin excused himself and left.

Those at the event greeted Putin politely or looked on silently. In the eulogies that followed, some of Alexeyeva’s colleagues made veiled criticisms of Putin and his system.

Henry Reznik, a lawyer who had worked with Alexeyeva for decades, told how she had returned from a comfortable exile in the United States to campaign for human rights in Russia.

With a fury in his voice, he criticized “dishonest politicians” who “just do PR for themselves” with patriotic shows.

Alexeyeva had sought to find a language to communicate with Putin and had maintained good relations with him. She joined Putin’s presidential council on human rights, though she abandoned it for a time over concerns it was becoming a puppet body. Putin had been careful to display respect to her, last year visiting her at home to wish her happy 90th birthday. She had used the occasion to press Putin to release a senator jailed in a controversial case.

Alexeyeva held a unique status among Russia’s human rights defenders, universally admired for her unfailing principles and efforts to aid victims of persecution. Her funeral saw the leading figures of Russia’s present-day opposition also pay their respects, including Alexey Navalny as well as a senior Putin ally, Vyacheslav Volodoin.

Alexeyeva began her dissident career in the 1960s, volunteering to type out the Chronicle of Current Events, a banned journal that detailed judicial abuses by the Soviet authorities. Such activities carried severe risk — the Soviet Union remained a totalitarian police state and many dissidents were jailed in labor camps or forcibly imprisoned in psychiatric institutions. In 1976, she helped found the Moscow Helsinki Group, the USSR’s first human rights organization, joining a tiny group that stood up publicly to the Soviet regime. A year later, she was forced into exile, leaving for the U.S. where she spent 16 years.

She returned to Russia in 1993 and as Putin began to restore authoritarianism in a softer form, she turned her campaigns against him, warning that Putin was seeking to destroy Russia’s civil society.

Besides her unyielding belief, Alexeyeva was known for her mischievous sense of humor and quick tongue. She was arrested at a protest in 2009 at the age of 82, while dressed as a snow maiden. In their eulogies, several colleagues described how the tiny, kind-eyed elderly woman could deliver iron words when they were needed. They described how she would call the presidential administration and pressure officials there to act on specific political cases.

Alexeyeva has helped hundreds, perhaps thousands of people targeted in political cases over the years.

“She was an intercessor,” said Svetlana Gannushkina, a celebrated rights defender who in 2017 was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the “alternative Nobel Prize.”

She was also an uncomfortable icon for Russia in recent years, as the Kremlin painted human rights NGOs as a Western instrument to weaken Russia.

Alexeyeva’s own Moscow Helsinki Group was threatened by a 2012 law labeling human rights NGOs “foreign agents.”

Her friend Reznik pledged that her efforts would be continued

“The job of human rights defending will be continued. Without a doubt,” Reznik told mourners. “All those young souls — those who feel that feeling that only on a basis of freedom and dignity can this life be fixed — they will be proud of this remarkable woman.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Police arrest man outside British Parliament for trespassing

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

It’s unclear if the incident is terror-related.

Police arrest man outside British Parliament for trespassing

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

It’s unclear if the incident is terror-related.

Police arrest man outside British Parliament for trespassing

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

400tmax/iStock(LONDON) — A man was arrested by British armed police on Tuesday for entering the grounds of the British Houses of Parliament.

Police have yet to rule out whether the incident is terror-related.

“A man was detained and arrested by Carriage Gates inside the Palace of Westminster on suspicion of trespassing at a protected site,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement. “A Taser was deployed. Enquiries into the circumstances continue.”

The man, who has not been identified, was led away from the scene by police.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Five Marines missing off coast of Japan declared dead

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. AaronJames Vinculado(WASHINGTON) — The five Marines missing off the coast of Japan for nearly a week following an aviation mishap have been declared dead by the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Marines were aboard a KC-130 refueling aircraft that may have been attempting to refuel in midair a F/A-18 fighter jet last Wednesday.

“The Marine Corps has pronounced the five remaining Marines involved in the F/A-18 and KC-130 aviation mishap deceased,” according to a statement from the III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Japan. “The change in status comes at the conclusion of search and rescue operations.”

“Every possible effort was made to recover our crew and I hope the families of these selfless Americans will find comfort in the incredible efforts made by US, Japanese, and Australian forces during the search,” U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, commanding general, III Marine Expeditionary Force, said in the statement.

The accident happened about 200 miles off the southwest coast of Japan. The Marine Corps has not confirmed that an aerial refueling was in progress at the time of the mishap.

Four hours after the mishap, one of the two pilots aboard the fighter jet was rescued by the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces. Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, 28, was recovered six hours later but pronounced deceased.

Both pilots had been able to eject from the F/A-18, but the refueling tanker isn’t equipped with ejection seats.

Over the next six days, U.S., Japanese and Australian military aircraft and ships covered more than 35,000 square miles of ocean searching for the five Marines.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have shifted to recovery operations,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of U.S. Forces Japan. “I ask that you please keep the families and friends of these Marines in your thoughts during this incredibly difficult time.”

“I am incredibly proud of and grateful for the efforts of the U.S. military along with our Japanese and Australian partners,” Martinez added. “Support from the Japan Self Defense Forces and Coast Guard was immediate and life-saving, and I thank them for their professionalism, dedication and robust support throughout this massive operation.”

The names of the five Marines will be made public 24 hours after their families are notified.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Five Marines missing off coast of Japan declared dead

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. AaronJames Vinculado(WASHINGTON) — The five Marines missing off the coast of Japan for nearly a week following an aviation mishap have been declared dead by the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Marines were aboard a KC-130 refueling aircraft that may have been attempting to refuel in midair a F/A-18 fighter jet last Wednesday.

“The Marine Corps has pronounced the five remaining Marines involved in the F/A-18 and KC-130 aviation mishap deceased,” according to a statement from the III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Japan. “The change in status comes at the conclusion of search and rescue operations.”

“Every possible effort was made to recover our crew and I hope the families of these selfless Americans will find comfort in the incredible efforts made by US, Japanese, and Australian forces during the search,” U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, commanding general, III Marine Expeditionary Force, said in the statement.

The accident happened about 200 miles off the southwest coast of Japan. The Marine Corps has not confirmed that an aerial refueling was in progress at the time of the mishap.

Four hours after the mishap, one of the two pilots aboard the fighter jet was rescued by the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces. Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, 28, was recovered six hours later but pronounced deceased.

Both pilots had been able to eject from the F/A-18, but the refueling tanker isn’t equipped with ejection seats.

Over the next six days, U.S., Japanese and Australian military aircraft and ships covered more than 35,000 square miles of ocean searching for the five Marines.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have shifted to recovery operations,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of U.S. Forces Japan. “I ask that you please keep the families and friends of these Marines in your thoughts during this incredibly difficult time.”

“I am incredibly proud of and grateful for the efforts of the U.S. military along with our Japanese and Australian partners,” Martinez added. “Support from the Japan Self Defense Forces and Coast Guard was immediate and life-saving, and I thank them for their professionalism, dedication and robust support throughout this massive operation.”

The names of the five Marines will be made public 24 hours after their families are notified.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Kremlin scoffs at US criticism of bombers in Venezuela

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Russia sent 2 Tu-160 nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela on Monday.

Kremlin scoffs at US criticism of bombers in Venezuela

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Russia sent 2 Tu-160 nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela on Monday.

US sanctions three senior North Korean officials amid stalled nuclear talks

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ronniechua/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration sanctioned three senior North Korean officials for human rights abuses and censorship in the country as discussions between the U.S. and North Korea over the regime’s nuclear weapons program have stalled.

The U.S. Treasury Department, which announced the sanctions, said they were in honor of American Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old college student who died after being released from North Korean custody in June 2017. He would have turned 24 on Dec. 12.

The sanctions are also part of a congressionally mandated report that details North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s violently oppressive rule. In particular, the State Department report identified three committees within the government and state political party that censor media by restricting the sale of any foreign media, confiscating any that is found and punishing those who obtain it.

“North Koreans caught with illicit entertainment items such as DVDs, CDs, and USBs are at a minimum sent to prison camps and, in extreme cases, may face public execution,” the report said. It went on to allege that one of those groups is responsible for kidnapping and imprisoning defectors and foreigners who share such items and promote human rights.

To punish North Korea for these abuses, the Treasury Department sanctioned the three officials, including Choe Ryong Hae, a close aide to Kim who is seen as the number two official in the country as head of the party’s Organization and Guidance Department. It is perhaps the most powerful organization in North Korea, responsible for all policies and assignments within the party and military.

The other two officials are Pak Kwang Ho, head of the Propaganda and Agitation Department, and Jong Kyong Thaek, minster of State Security, the government agency that manages the country’s prison camps.

Jong is “involved in directing abuses committed in the political prison camp system, where serious human rights abuses such as torture, deliberate starvation, forced labor, and sexual violence are systematized,” according to the U.S. State Department, while Pak directs the propaganda meant to indoctrinate North Koreans.

Because North Korea is already so heavily sanctioned and the three men are not likely to have U.S. assets that could be frozen, the action is largely symbolic.

But experts say it is an important reminder that the U.S. cares about the regime’s human rights violations, even if the message has been muddied by President Donald Trump, who has praised Kim as a “smart cookie” and “very talented” and has said Kim “loves his people” and that the two of them “fell in love.”

Bruce Klingner, former CIA deputy division chief of Korea and now a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said that while “Trump has not commented on, and seemingly dismissed concern over, North Korean abuses” since the Singapore summit earlier this year, “this sends a message that advocacy [for] human rights should not be abandoned in the quest for progress in security negotiations.”

Especially on International Human Rights Day, the message is that, “If North Korea doesn’t change, doesn’t stop its human rights abuses, then we can’t engage them economically,” David Maxwell, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told ABC News. “We have to put as much pressure on that as we do on the nuclear program.”

But the international pressure on North Korea for its human rights abuses could be slipping.

For the last five years, the United Nations Security Council held a session on International Human Rights Day to discuss the regime’s abuses, which the U.N. has documented in detail — including prison camps, forced labor, extrajudicial killings, rape, starvation, and censorship. This year, however, the U.S. did not win enough votes among Security Council members to hold the session again on Monday.

The U.S. mission is looking to hold the meeting in 2019, a spokesperson told ABC News, adding that the America “remains deeply concerned with the human rights situation in North Korea, and we continue to urge the North Korean regime to join the community of nations, begin to respect human rights, and adhere to international standards on humanitarian assistance.”

Talks between the U.S. and North Korea have focused on the nuclear issue and little on those human rights abuses. In October, the State Department declined to say whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had raised the issue with Kim directly and argued that denuclearization was the priority.

The State Department “is very clear about the concerns that we have, not just about North Korea but many countries, frankly, around the world and countries that can do a lot better. Our priority in North Korea, though, right now is denuclearization,” spokesperson Heather Nauert said in October.

Calling out North Korea now could anger the regime and further delay talks between Pompeo and his counterpart Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s nuclear negotiator and former spy chief. North Korea canceled meetings in New York at the beginning of November.

“It’s good to see the Trump administration paying attention to human rights abuses somewhere,” Mike Fuchs, a deputy assistant Secretary of State for East Asia in the Obama administration, told ABC News. But both sides “are looking for signs that the other is serious about diplomacy, and actions like this are more likely to undermine diplomacy than to further it.”

That’s debatable to others, though, who say North Korea will always look for an excuse to cancel a meeting and blame the other side.

“The North Koreans always bake in an excuse that they can use to back out of an agreement and blame the South or the U.S. or both,” said Maxwell. “If we are worried about that, we’re never going to move ahead.”

There have yet to be working-level meetings between the two countries, with North Korea refusing to meet one-on-one with Pompeo’s special representative for North Korea, Steve Biegun, since he started in August. Maxwell said he’s hopeful Biegun and his team will raise the issue — whenever he finally gets the chance to do so.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

102-year-old becomes oldest skydiver in the world while jumping for charity

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Irene O’Shea jumped to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association of South Australia.

102-year-old becomes oldest skydiver in the world while jumping for charity

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Irene O’Shea jumped to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association of South Australia.

Maria Butina, accused Russian agent, reaches plea deal with prosecutors that includes cooperation

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

TR/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Maria Butina, a 30-year-old Russian gun rights activist who stands accused developing a covert influence operation in the United States, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and cooperate with federal, state and local authorities in any ongoing investigations.

She admits, as part of the deal, according to a copy obtained by ABC News that is expected to be filed to the court, that she and an unnamed “U.S. Person 1,” which sources have identified as longtime Republican operative Paul Erickson, with whom she had a multiyear romantic relationship, “agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official (“Russian Official”) and at least one other person, for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of Russian Official without prior notification to the Attorney General.”

Based on the description, the “Russian Official” appears to be Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under his direction, the agreement said, she “sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics.”

The agreement, which Butina signed on Saturday, Dec. 8, also notes that the conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison, but the deal could see Butina receive a lesser sentence, depending on the level of her cooperation, before likely being deported back to Russia.

It is unclear what Butina’s cooperation might entail, but federal prosecutors have reportedly notified Erickson that he is a target of an ongoing investigation. The target letter sent to Erickson is from federal prosecutors in Washington, sources familiar with the case told ABC News, and separate from any South Dakota-based federal fraud investigation into his business dealings that has been the subject of earlier media reports.

Butina’s attorney, Robert Driscoll, declined to comment. Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, declined to comment. An attorney for Erickson declined to comment.

Butina was arrested in July and accused of ensnaring Erickson in a “duplicitous relationship,” using him for cover and connections as she developed an influence operation designed to “advance the agenda of the Russian Federation.” She pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and failure to register as a foreign agent.

But now, according to the agreement, Butina has acknowledged that with U.S. Person 1’s assistance, she drafted a proposal called “Description of the Diplomacy Project” in March of 2015 which was later sent to the Russian Official, in which she said that she had already “laid the groundwork for an unofficial channel of communication with the next U.S. administration” and requested $125,000 from a Russian billionaire to attend conferences and meetings to further develop those ties. The Russian Official, the agreement said, confirmed that her proposal would be at least partially supported.

The government has alleged that U.S. Person 1 “worked with Butina to arrange introductions to U.S. persons having influence in American politics,” including high-ranking members of the National Rifle Association and organizers of the National Prayer Breakfast, that would ultimately give her a surprising level of access to conservative politicians, including — in one memorable interaction captured on video — to then-candidate Donald Trump.

Most notably, Butina’s Russian gun rights group “Right to Bear Arms” hosted a delegation of former NRA presidents, board members and major donors in Moscow in 2015, where she appears to have succeeded in arranging a meeting between NRA insides and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, raising the prospect of a discussion between conservative political operatives and a powerful member of Russian President Putin’s inner circle in the midst of a presidential campaign.

After that now infamous meeting, the agreement said, Butina sent the Russian Official a message, which was translated as saying “We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later.”

It would appear that, even as Erickson was helping Butina forge those connections, he may have been aware of the political implications.

“Unrelated to specific presidential campaigns,” Erickson wrote in an October 2016 email to an acquaintance that was later obtained by the FBI, “I’ve been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key [unnamed political party] leaders through, of all conduits, the [unnamed gun-rights organization].”

And during an FBI raid of Erickson’s South Dakota home, investigators discovered a handwritten note suggesting Erickson may have been aware of a possible job offer from Russian intelligence services: “How to respond to FSB offer of employment?” Erickson scratched, an apparent reference to the Russian equivalent of the CIA.

Butina’s attorney Driscoll has described her as a promising graduate student whose career has been derailed by this case, but prosecutors claimed that was just a “cover while she continued to work on behalf the Russian Official.”

Butina allegedly maintained that cover with the assistance of Erickson. He supported her financially, telling McClatchy DC he established a South Dakota-based company Bridges LLC with Butina in order to help defray her educational expenses, and according to court filings, assisted with her coursework “by editing papers and answering exam questions.”

Meanwhile, prosecutors claim, Butina “appear[ed] to treat [her relationship with Erickson] as simply a necessary aspect of her activities” and privately expressed “disdain” for continuing to live with him.

Driscoll, however, had insisted that Butina and Erickson, despite the government’s claims to the contrary, were engaged in a mutual and genuine cross-cultural romance.

“I think in some ways it’s a classic love story,” Driscoll said. “I think [reporters] are filling in a lot of the gaps with a lot of spy novels.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Macron addresses French nation after weeks of unrest, announces new economic measures

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chesnot/Getty Images(PARIS) — French president Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation in a recorded TV speech on Monday and announced new economic measures in response to weeks of violent protests across the country.

Speaking calmly and slowly from the Elysee Palace, the 40-year-old head of state confessed that the anger of protesters was “deep, and some of their claims legitimate.” He added that these protests come from “40 years of malaise.”

Macron announced that the minimum wage would increase by 100 euros per month in 2019. He also said that a tax hike for the poorest pensioners will be cancelled at the start of the next year.

His address comes two days after protesters from the Yellow Jackets movement — named after the neon-yellow security vests demonstrators have been wearing — took to the streets of France for the fourth weekend in a row.

A spokesperson for the French interior minister told ABC News that 136,000 people demonstrated in France on Saturday, including 10,000 people in Paris.

For the third Saturday in a row, the demonstration in Paris turned violent on the famous Champs-Elysees Avenue, and in other areas of the French capital. Dozens of angry protesters, many of them wearing gas masks or ski goggles, threw rocks and projectiles at French police.

They burned dozens of cars, set up barricades and broke store windows before looting them. In turn, police attempted to disperse the crowd by firing tear gas and blasting water cannons.

During his address on Monday, Macron said authorities would not stand for violence and that “no anger justifies” attacking police or looting stores, adding that he would use “all means” to restore order.

More than 1,700 people were arrested all over France last Saturday, including around 1,000 individuals in Paris, according to the French interior ministry.

Around 320 people were injured during protests across the country on Saturday, including 39 police officers, authorities said.

The nationwide Yellow Jackets protests started in small urban centers and rural areas of the country in response to a proposed fuel price hike, and demonstrators have been blocking roads over the past three weeks.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced last week that he was backing down from the proposed fuel price hike. “No tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger,” Philippe said during a press conference last Wednesday.

However, the protests have continued, and turned into a broader rebuke against the economic policies of Macron and the French ruling class, which many citizens view as elitist and indifferent to their struggles.

The movement has no clear leader and has attracted groups of people with a wide variety of demands.

Various Yellow jacket Facebook groups have already called for more nationwide protests in France on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Macron addresses French nation after weeks of unrest, announces new economic measures

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chesnot/Getty Images(PARIS) — French president Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation in a recorded TV speech on Monday and announced new economic measures in response to weeks of violent protests across the country.

Speaking calmly and slowly from the Elysee Palace, the 40-year-old head of state confessed that the anger of protesters was “deep, and some of their claims legitimate.” He added that these protests come from “40 years of malaise.”

Macron announced that the minimum wage would increase by 100 euros per month in 2019. He also said that a tax hike for the poorest pensioners will be cancelled at the start of the next year.

His address comes two days after protesters from the Yellow Jackets movement — named after the neon-yellow security vests demonstrators have been wearing — took to the streets of France for the fourth weekend in a row.

A spokesperson for the French interior minister told ABC News that 136,000 people demonstrated in France on Saturday, including 10,000 people in Paris.

For the third Saturday in a row, the demonstration in Paris turned violent on the famous Champs-Elysees Avenue, and in other areas of the French capital. Dozens of angry protesters, many of them wearing gas masks or ski goggles, threw rocks and projectiles at French police.

They burned dozens of cars, set up barricades and broke store windows before looting them. In turn, police attempted to disperse the crowd by firing tear gas and blasting water cannons.

During his address on Monday, Macron said authorities would not stand for violence and that “no anger justifies” attacking police or looting stores, adding that he would use “all means” to restore order.

More than 1,700 people were arrested all over France last Saturday, including around 1,000 individuals in Paris, according to the French interior ministry.

Around 320 people were injured during protests across the country on Saturday, including 39 police officers, authorities said.

The nationwide Yellow Jackets protests started in small urban centers and rural areas of the country in response to a proposed fuel price hike, and demonstrators have been blocking roads over the past three weeks.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced last week that he was backing down from the proposed fuel price hike. “No tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger,” Philippe said during a press conference last Wednesday.

However, the protests have continued, and turned into a broader rebuke against the economic policies of Macron and the French ruling class, which many citizens view as elitist and indifferent to their struggles.

The movement has no clear leader and has attracted groups of people with a wide variety of demands.

Various Yellow jacket Facebook groups have already called for more nationwide protests in France on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Macron addresses French nation after weeks of unrest, announces new economic measures

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The French president said protests come from "40 years of malaise."

Russia sends 2 nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The Russian military says two of its nuclear-capable strategic bombers have arrived in Venezuela, a deployment that comes amid soaring Russia-U.S. tensions

8 people, including a teen boy, investigated for disco stampede deaths: Prosecutors

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A teenager and seven other people are being investigated in the stampede deaths.

Theresa May says she will delay a planned vote on Brexit despite furious Parliament

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

MarioGuti/iStock(LONDON) — British Prime Minister Theresa May says she is calling off a key Brexit vote in Parliament scheduled for Tuesday that has been building for weeks amid increased infighting among politicians within and across all major political parties.

The so-called “meaningful vote” was intended to give MPs a say on the deal that May had negotiated with the European Union on the nature of how Britain would exit the EU.

The U.K. voted in 2016 to leave the EU by 52 percent, the first country ever to do so, sparking a fraught years-long political and legal process to exit the bloc.

Late in November of this year, May returned from Brussels with a withdrawal settlement and a blueprint for future relations after two years of negotiations with European officials.

May’s government said the agreements meet the key aspirations that Brits demanded upon voting to leave the bloc, while doing minimal damage to the U.K. economy, which is deeply intertwined with the EU.

However many MPs are bitterly opposed to one major clause in the agreement — an insurance policy designed to keep the British union in one piece and Northern Ireland within in the U.K., should both parties fail to come to a trade agreement within the remaining negotiating period.

Known as the “Northern Irish Backstop,” the policy is a mechanism to avoid a hard border between the EU and Northern Ireland that would endanger the integrity of the U.K.

The “Backstop” mechanism forces the U.K. continue to honor current EU regulations, allowing for trade policies to remain the same until a more permanent solution is negotiated in the future.

This is particularly important for trade and the movement of people between Ireland and Northern Ireland, as Ireland is a member of the EU. If the regulation was different on either side of the border, it would require security and customs checks of goods coming into and going out of either side, a process that is referred to as a “hard border.”

But many MPs object to the fact that the U.K. cannot unilaterally withdraw from the “Backstop” — they need EU agreement to do so, effectively forcing the U.K. to follow EU laws.

What now?

In a speech to the House of Commons on Monday, May said the government “will defer” the scheduled vote, and hinted that she intends to return to Brussels to seek additional concessions on the sticking points of her deal, although she argued that the agreement she has secured was still the best chance of delivering Brexit.

She said that if the vote were to go ahead tomorrow the government would most likely suffer a heavy loss, but added that she believed there is “a majority to be won in this House in support of it, if I can secure additional reassurance on the question of the backstop.”

However the Speaker of the House John Bercow said he had heard many MPs complain about the prospect of delaying the vote after more than three days of debates and contributions.

He said that there were two options for the government: to offer the House a vote on whether tomorrow’s vote should be delayed or should go ahead, or ministers could refuse to move the business of parliament that is scheduled for Tuesday. Bercow added, however, that the latter option would be politically toxic for the government if it denied MPs a say on such a critical moment in the Brexit process.

However, the British media reported that May’s spokesman said the government disagreed, and that no vote was required on Tuesday for parliament to “move on” and vote on Brexit another time.

There is some confusion among political analysts and MPs as to how and if the prime minister’s plan to unilaterally delay the vote will work, and it remains to be seen if that is how the government will choose to close out Tuesday.

Following Theresa May’s statement to Parliament, she faced grueling questions from angry and frustrated MPs who both support and oppose the deal, arguing for the vote to go ahead.

There are also voices calling for opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to bring forward a motion of “no confidence”in the prime minister.

If that were to go ahead, and if enough MPs from Labour, the Scottish Nationalist Party and others agree, the government would fall and a general election would be triggered.

The reaction in Parliament was impassioned

“The country is divided not by party but by faction,” said Vince Cable, the leader of the U.K.’s fourth largest party, the Liberal Democrats, on Tuesday in the House of Commons.

“What the heck is going on?” thundered Scottish MP Hannah Bardell at the Prime Minister.

“The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray,” said Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“Without change [May’s deal] jeopardizes the control of our money, our borders, our regulatory independence and our constitution too,” said the Conservative MP and former Brexit Secretary David Davis.

May faces attack from all sides, including her own party. Political observers have noted prominent Conservative politicians cleaning up their social media profiles, courting media and showing signs of preparing for a leadership contest should May be ousted.

Meanwhile, the view from the EU ranges from confused to aghast.

Veteran Belgian politician Guy Verhofstadt tweeted: “I can’t follow anymore. After two years of negotiations, the Tory government wants to delay the vote. Just keep in mind that we will never let the Irish down. This delay will further aggravate the uncertainty for people & businesses. It’s time they make up their mind!”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.