Saturday, March 17, 2018

A germophobe gorilla? Philadelphia Zoo primate walks upright so he won't get his hands dirty


An 18-year-old gorilla named Louis hates to get his hands dirty. That’s why he sometimes walks upright like a human — especially when food is involved.

Louis, a 500-pound, 6-foot tall gorilla that lives at the Philadelphia Zoo, walks upright when he’s carrying tomatoes and other snacks, The Associated Press reported.

He also walks upright when the ground is muddy, according to the Philadelphia Zoo, which recently posted a video of Louis walking on two legs. 

It’s “pretty unusual” for gorillas to walk around upright, Michael Stern, the curator of primates and small mammals at the zoo, told The Associated Press. Most lean forward and “knuckle-walk.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Polish church leader criticizes priest wishing Francis death


Poland’s leading archbishop has deplored comments by a senior conservative priest who had wished Pope Francis a quick death if he does not open to “wisdom.”

Krakow Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski said Saturday he heard about the comments with “pain and regret” and has discussed them with Mgr. Edward Staniek, who said them in a Feb. 25 church speech in Krakow.

Krakow was the seat of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the late Pope St. John Paul II. Poland’s church remains attached to John Paul’s conservative stance, which differs from Francis’ inclusive message.

In his speech, Staniek said he was praying for wisdom for Francis and a “heart open to the Holy Spirit, and if he does not do that, for a quick passage to the House of the Father,” meaning death.

Wade ‘a different player’ after Pujols offers tips


Tyler Wade said that he feels “like a different player” than the reserve who spent most of his big league time anchored to the bench last season, while manager Aaron Boone raves that he has proven to be “a better player than I thought” over the course of camp.

Immigrant detainee who alleged sex abuse released


A Salvadoran woman who said a guard groped her inside an immigration detention facility has been released, advocates said.

Laura Monterrosa-Flores was released late Friday from the T. Don Hutto Residential Center outside of Austin, where she had been held for months, Grassroots Leadership organizer Bethany Carson told The Associated Press on Saturday.

“She’s able to go about her life and recover from the abuses that she suffered in detention and before that, in El Salvador,” Carson said.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which had sued on Monterrosa-Flores’ behalf, said in a statement Saturday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security agreed to release her under deferred action, which provides individuals temporary relief from deportation.

Earlier this month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within the department, agreed to allow Monterrosa-Flores to leave the facility on a weekly basis to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Advocates said that she attempted suicide in January after being denied a request for mental health care.

Carson said Monterrosa-Flores will receive counseling while waiting for her asylum case to proceed.

While the AP doesn’t usually identify alleged victims of sexual assault, Monterrosa-Flores agreed to come forward publicly.

Months after accusing a female guard at the Hutto facility of groping her and suggesting they have sex, Monterrosa-Flores told the AP that she continued to see the guard in the dining hall and other parts of the facility.

“I told her that I was going to tell the supervisor what was happening,” Monterrosa-Flores said in a phone interview from the facility. “She sarcastically said, ‘Do you think they’ll believe you or me?'”

The FBI opened a civil rights investigation into Monterrosa-Flores’ case. ICE has said that it has implemented “strong protections” for people who are sexually assaulted in detention facilities.

About 40,000 people are being held in immigration detention, many in private facilities under contracts with ICE. Many of those people have sought asylum in the United States, saying they have a credible fear of returning to their home countries.

Monterrosa-Flores arrived at the southern U.S. border last May after fleeing El Salvador, where she said she was forced into prostitution by her family. She said that an uncle, a policeman, raped her.

If her asylum claim is denied, she could be deported.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat, applauded Monterrosa-Flores’ release and ICE’s granting of deferred action.

“We need answers and action from ICE to prevent sexual assaults during detention and to ensure that victims do not experience retaliation when they come forward,” he said in a statement.

4 Ways You Can Get More Money in Retirement


Each year, countless workers enter retirement with inadequate savings and wind up cash-strapped later in life. It therefore pays to be strategic about drumming up more cash to fund your golden years. With that in mind, here are some steps you can take both during your career and your post-work life to squeeze out that extra money.

1. Hold off on filing for Social Security

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Once you reach full retirement age, which, depending on your year of birth, is either 66, 67, or 66 and a number of months, you’ll be eligible to collect the full monthly Social Security benefit you’re entitled to based on your earnings history. But if you hold off on Social Security past full retirement age, you’ll snag an 8% boost for each year you delay, up until age 70. This means that if you’re looking at a monthly benefit of $1,500 at a full retirement age of 67, waiting until 70 will give you a monthly payout of $1,860 instead — for life.

2. Save in a Roth IRA

Though saving in any type of IRA is a good way to give yourself access to cash in the future, an even better move is to open a Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, your withdrawals in retirement will be taxed as ordinary income, whereas your ending Roth IRA balance is yours to use free and clear of taxes. Furthermore, while traditional IRAs force you to take minimum distributions once you reach 70 1/2 or face steep penalties, Roth IRAs don’t have this same requirement. This means that your money can sit and grow tax-free for longer, thus boosting the total amount you accumulate.

3. Be smart about taxes

If you hold investments in a non-tax-advantaged plan (like a 401(k) or IRA) during retirement, you should know that their associated gains will generally be subject to taxes. You can minimize that burden, however, and keep more money for yourself, by following a few key rules. First, always aim to hold investments for at least a year and a day before selling them at a profit; this way, you’ll lower your capital gains taxes. In addition, consider loading up on municipal bonds, whose interest is always exempt from federal taxes. And if you buy bonds issued by your home state, you can avoid state and local taxes as well.

On top of this, you might consider moving to a state with more favorable tax treatment. Several U.S. states charge no income tax, and the majority of states don’t tax Social Security benefits. Of course, there are other factors, such as home prices, sales tax, and real estate taxes, that contribute to a locality’s relative affordability, but if you make taxes a key consideration when narrowing down a place to retire, you can free up more money that way.

4. Downsize your home

Most seniors manage to enter retirement without any mortgage debt, which means that’s one less expense to eat away at their income. But if you’re holding on to a larger home as a senior, downsizing can be a good way to put more money back in your pocket.

First, the obvious: If you sell your home at a profit, you’ll get more money by virtue of that gain alone. But moving to a smaller space can save you money in other ways. For one thing, smaller homes are usually less costly to maintain, so if you’re currently spending, say, $600 a month in upkeep, cutting your living space in half might put that sum at just $300.

You might also lower your property taxes by choosing a smaller space, and that’s especially important these days, now that the state and local tax (SALT) deduction has been capped at $10,000 annually. It used to be that you could deduct your state and local taxes, including property taxes, at any amount, which meant that if you had a larger home with high taxes, you’d save money when filing your return. Now that homes with higher real estate taxes don’t give owners that same full benefit, it makes less sense to hold on to a larger or pricier property, especially when downsizing will work to free up so much cash.

That said, if you’re hesitant to unload your current home — say, it offers certain amenities or you’re just plain attached — you can instead monetize it. Rent out a finished basement or garage, and take in monthly income that way. Or, rent your home seasonally if you don’t want a full-time tenant and live close to attractions — the choice is yours.

There’s really no such thing as having too much money in retirement, so if you’re looking to secure some extra cash, follow the steps above. With any luck, it’ll buy you some luxuries at a time in life when you deserve them the most.

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Fired McCabe kept notes on Trump, as Comey did, and gave them to Special Counsel Mueller


Newly fired FBI official Andrew McCabe reportedly kept personal memos on President Donald Trump that are similar to those compiled by James Comey on interactions with Trump, who axed Comey as FBI director.

The memo disclosure on Saturday comes after McCabe, a onetime FBI deputy director, was fired late Friday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The Associated Press reported first on the existance of the memos and their content, after speaking to a person with direct knowledge of the situation who insisted on anonymity for lack of authorization to discuss the matter. 

McCabe gave a copy of the memos, which also included what Comey told him about his interactions with Trump, to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading a federal investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 elections, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Sessions said Friday night that he acted on McCabe’s termination after a Justice Department inspector general’s report, and on the recommendation of FBI disciplinary officials.

McCabe was fired two days before officially retiring and  becoming eligible to receive his full retirement.  

Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, on Saturday extended a job offer to McCabe so that he could reach is length of service and get his retirement benefits. 

“Andrew McCabe’s firing makes it clear that President Trump is doing everything he can to discredit the FBI,” Pocan said. “My offer of employment to Mr. McCabe is a legitimate offer to work on election security.”

McCabe released a statement Friday night suggesting his firing was part of the Trump administration’s “war on the FBI.”

FILe - In this June 8, 2017 file photo, former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Comey’s publisher is moving up the release date of his memoir “A Higher Loyalty,†to April 17. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

 (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Trump praised the firing. The president suggested on Twitter that reports show McCabe “knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!” The president added that he was a “choirboy” compared with Comey.

A Trump tweet later in the day alleged “tremendous leaking, lying and corruption” among those leading the FBI and the departments of State and Justice.

The inspector general’s report is expected to conclude that McCabe, a Comey confidant, authorized the release of information to the media and was not forthcoming with the watchdog office as it examined the bureau’s handling of its inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state under President Barack Obama.

“The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and accountability,” Sessions said in a statement.

McCabe maintained that his credibility had been attacked as “part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally,” but also the FBI and law enforcement.

“It is part of this administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day,” he added, referring to Robert Mueller’s look into whether there was coordination between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign. “Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel’s work.”

Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, touting the “brilliant and courageous example” by Sessions and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility said in a statement Saturday that the No. 2 Justice Department official, Rod Rosenstein, ought to now  “bring an end” to the Russia investigation “manufactured” by Comey.

Dowd told The AP that he was neither calling on Rosenstein, the deputy attorney government overseeing Mueller’s inquiry, to fire the special counsel immediately, nor had discussed with Rosenstein the idea of dismissing Mueller or ending the probe.

McCabe, in reacting to his untimely termination, asserted he was singled out because of the “role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath” of Comey’s firing last May. McCabe became acting director after that and assumed direct oversight of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign.

Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s actions, including Comey’s ouster, constitute obstruction of justice. McCabe could be an important witness.

Trump, in a tweet early Saturday, said McCabe’s firing was “a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI — A great day for Democracy.” He said “Sanctimonious James Comey,” as McCabe’s boss, made McCabe “look like a choirboy.”

McCabe said the release of the findings against him was accelerated after he told congressional officials that he could corroborate Comey’s accounts of certain conversations with the president.

McCabe spent more than 20 years as a career FBI official and played key roles in some of the bureau’s most recent significant investigations.

Even so, Trump has repeatedly condemned him over the past year as emblematic of an FBI leadership he contends is biased against his administration.

McCabe had been on leave from the FBI since January, when he abruptly left the deputy director position. He had planned to retire on Sunday, and the dismissal probably jeopardizes his ability to collect his full pension benefits.

His removal could add to the turmoil that has enveloped the FBI since Comey’s firing and as the FBI continues its Trump campaign investigation that the White House has dismissed as a hoax.

The firing arises from an inspector general review into how the FBI handled the Clinton email investigation. That inquiry focused not only on specific decisions made by FBI leadership, but also on news media leaks.

McCabe came under scrutiny over an October 2016 news report that revealed differing approaches within the FBI and Justice Department over how aggressively the nonprofit  Clinton Foundation should be investigated.

The watchdog office has concluded that McCabe authorized FBI officials to speak to a Wall Street Journal reporter for that story, and that McCabe had not been forthcoming with investigators. McCabe has issued denials.

In his statement, McCabe said he had the authority to share information with journalists through the public affairs office, a practice he said was common and continued under the current FBI director, Christopher Wray. McCabe said he honestly answered questions about whom he had spoken to and when, and that when he thought his answers were misunderstood, he contacted investigators to correct them.

The media outreach came at a time when McCabe said he was facing public accusations of partisanship and followed reports that his wife, during a run for the State Senate in Virginia, had received campaign contributions from a Clinton ally. McCabe suggested in his statement that he was trying to “set the record straight” about the FBI’s independence against the background of those allegations.

With the FBI disciplinarians recommending the firing, Justice Department leaders were in a difficult situation. Sessions, whose job status has for months appeared shaky under his own blistering criticism from Trump, risked inflaming the White House if he decided against firing McCabe.

But a decision to dismiss McCabe days before his retirement nonetheless carried the risk of angering his rank-and-file supporters at the FBI.

McCabe became entangled in presidential politics in 2016 when it was revealed that his wife, during her unsuccessful legislative run, received campaign contributions from the political action committee of then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton friend.

The FBI has said McCabe received the necessary ethics approval about his wife’s candidacy and was not supervising the Clinton investigation at the time.

But Trump pounded away on Twitter on Saturday: “How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M … How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!”

  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Steve Hilton: Hillary Clinton’s ‘Deplorables 2’ moment and why it matters for America’s future


First there was the casual sexism: the reason white women didn’t back her when she ran for president, Hillary Clinton believes, is “a sort of ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”

Have you noticed that her sneering always seems to take the same form? She’s become the queen of the contemptuous listicle that tails off into a snarling “whatever.”

Remember the formulation in the speech where she came up with the term “basket of deplorables?”

“You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” Hillary said. “Right? They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic – Islamophobic – you name it.”

“Whoever.” “You name it.” Clinton’s catalog of insults to the people she once hoped to represent typically ends with the rhetorical equivalent of an exasperated monarchical hand sweeping people away as if they were serfs who had dared to show their dirty faces to the queen.

But Hillary really outdid herself recently in Mumbai in India.

After dismissing American women who dared to vote against her as brainless robots when it comes to politics – this from the self-styled champion of women! – she went on to describe Trump supporters (roughly half the country, let’s remember) as people who “didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women getting jobs, you don’t want to see that Indian-American succeeding more than you are.”

Let’s not waste too much time on how unintelligent, offensive and bigoted that remark really is. The best response might just be to point to one prominent Trump supporter who now serves in  the president’s Cabinet: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, an Indian-American professional woman who as governor of South Carolina not only took down the Confederate flag but said that it “should never have been there.”

The really important part of Hillary’s “Deplorables 2” moment, however, and one that we really should pay a lot of attention to, was her description of America itself – especially our economy and how it relates to politics. In many ways, her analysis was exactly right. It was her response that was so deeply, disturbingly wrong.

Here’s how she put it: “If you look at the map of the United States, there’s all that red in the middle where Trump won. I win the coasts. But what the map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.”

Put aside the total lack of empathy or compassion for the parts of America that are not “moving forward.” The important point is that for the last few decades, it is absolutely true that America has become more and more divided when it comes to economic progress. Not just between the coasts and the heartland – although that is certainly a big part of it. But between big cities and smaller towns and rural areas.

This is not inevitable, or the result of some force beyond our control, like the weather. It is the logical outcome of an ideological policy agenda that has been pursued consistently over the past few decades by a ruling elite in both main parties, supported by big business and a growing army of technocrats and bureaucrats who have seized the levers of power.

We can describe their ideology as elitism. Its central characteristics are a belief in globalization, automation, centralization and uncontrolled immigration.

This elitist ideology ushered in the modern, globalized “knowledge economy.” There are many good things about this new economy that we should welcome and celebrate. And no one should begrudge the people who have benefited from it. In America, we should always celebrate success.

But what about the people and the places not benefitting from elitism? The consequences of the elitist policy agenda are pretty much as Hillary described in her Mumbai remarks. Huge parts of America are not booming; they are suffering.

Of course, the shocking (but perhaps unsurprising) cruelty of what she said was that instead of trying to help working Americans left behind by the elitism that she represents, she just consigned them to the scrapheap. She seems to be saying: If you wouldn’t vote for me, why should I help you?

This is where populism needs to step in. We need positive plans to revive the economy and repair the torn social fabric in the two-thirds of the country that Hillary and the establishment Democrats have no time for.

Controlling immigration and making trade fair; transforming education and worker training; investing in infrastructure; taking the technology revolution nationwide – these are some of the priorities for Positive Populism, the theme of The Next Revolution. How can we turn the failure of the elites into a positive agenda for change that helps working Americans – in every part of the country?

We’ll be debating all this on Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT on the Fox News Channel – hope you can join us!

Explorers find 119-year-old shipwreck at the bottom of Lake Erie


A 119-year-old shipwreck has been found at the bottom of Lake Erie.

The wooden steam barge Margaret Olwill sank in 50 feet of water during a nor’ester in 1899. Eight people died, including the captain, his wife and their 9-year-old son.

The National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo announced the discovery on Thursday.

“It was a major disaster back in 1899 when it sank,” shipwreck hunter Rob Ruetschele said, according to The Toledo Blade.

Ruetschele, a member of Cleveland Underwater Exploerers, said he thought he found the Olwill in 1989. Sonar later showed that what he had discovered was a heap of rocks near a sunken tree trunk.

He continued the quest, using historical records to map a 60-square mile search area off Ohio.

“I dove in the night I found it,” he said, according to the paper.

The Olwill was hauling 900 tons of limestone to Cleveland when it sank.

The four survivors clung to floating wreckage and were tossed by Lake Erie’s waves for hours, Fox 8 Cleveland reported.

One man was described as “more dead than alive” when he was rescued, according to the station.

Rescuers tried to save another survivor but the person was too weak from exposure to grab a rope that was tossed to him and drowned.

Iran detains close ally of former president Ahmadinejad


Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency is reporting that authorities have detained a close ally of former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Saturday report says the office of Tehran prosecutor’s said police detained Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei for “investigations.” It did not elaborate.

On Thursday, Mashaei, in front of the British embassy in Tehran, burnt a copy of a court verdict sentencing Hamid Baghaei, another Ahmadinejad ally who was sentenced to 15 years for the misuse of public funds when he was a vice-president under Ahmadinejad. Baghaei began serving his term earlier this week.

Several of Ahmdainejad’s allies are in jail over the misappropriation of public funds.

During Baghaei’s trial, Ahmadinejad repeatedly appeared outside the court criticizing many officials, including the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani.

Mark Hamill celebrates St. Patrick's Day at Dublin parade


Mark Hamill has tweeted that “today the whole galaxy is Irish” as he appeared as international guest of honor at Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

The “Star Wars” actor, whose great-grandmother was born in Ireland, was invited to represent the Irish diaspora at the celebration. Hamill spent time on Ireland’s rocky Skellig Michael island filming the most recent “Star Wars” movie, “The Last Jedi.”

US actor Mark Hamill gestures as he attends the St Patrick's day parade, in Dublin, Saturday March 17, 2018. (Brian Lawless/PA via AP)

Hamill enjoys the Dublin parade.  (AP)

Hamill sported a tweed cap, a green scarf and a shamrock sprig as he attended the parade, which sees floats, colorfully clad performers and marching bands wind their way through the Irish capital.

“Game of Thrones” actor Liam Cunningham was the grand marshal of Saturday’s parade, attended by Irish President Michael D. Higgins.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is at New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

11 surprising items that aren’t recyclable


Hold up – don’t toss those empty containers in the recycling bin just yet!

While it’s great to recycle as much as possible, there are some items that don’t belong in that bin. Here’s a look at 11 things you think are recyclable but they’re not.

1. Some takeout containers

You just built a stacked recycling tower to save space and you want to use it, but hold off on filling it with pizza boxes and Chinese takeout containers. Leave grease-soaked boxes and other cardboard containers, or anything with leftover food particles out of your recycling bin as they can damage or contaminate other recyclable materials.

More from Family Handyman:

2. Plastic bottle caps

You may be able to recycle the bottle, but the plastic bottle cap probably isn’t recyclable because they’re often made from a type of plastic that can’t be recycled. When it comes to recycling bottles, make sure they are crushed before sending them off to the recycling facility.

3. Some paper products

Paper products such as paper towels, tissues and napkins are considered too contaminated to be recyclable. Instead of paper napkins, try using washable, cloth napkins for a more sustainable home. Some boxes, such as those used for frozen foods, also may not be recyclable since they have a coating that can’t be broken down properly in the recycling process.

4. Plastic grocery bags

Just because it’s made of plastic doesn’t mean it’s recyclable. Instead, use cloth grocery bags or try one of these 15 brilliant ways to reuse plastic grocery bags.

5. Wire hangers

Your local dry cleaner may take your old wire hangers, but many recycling facilities will not since they are not set up to deal with wire. Keep a couple wire hangers around to help unclog a kitchen sink. You can also use wire hangers to keep paint cans clean.

6. Ceramics

If your favorite coffee mug breaks, it likely belongs in the trash, not the recycling bin as many recyclers cannot accept them. If you have several broken mugs and dishes, contact your local recycling facility to see if they will accept them—some facilities may grind them up to be used in other ways.

7. Some types of glass

While broken glass is recyclable, it shouldn’t be tossed in your recycling bin as it can injure workers. Instead, check with your local facility to see if they accept broken glass. Glass items such as Pyrex baking dishes, light bulbs, mirrors and eyeglasses are also among the glass items that should not be recycled.

8. Styrofoam

Styrofoam cannot be recycled and it does not biodegrade. Try limiting your use of Styrofoam coffee cups, food containers and packing peanuts.

9. Shredded paper

While paper is often recyclable, shredded paper can be a problem for recycling facilities since it is difficult to sort. Instead, use it as mulch, for packing or use it for stuffing to make one of these 14 adorable DIY dog beds.

10. Some drink cartons

Before you toss the orange juice box into your recycling bin, make sure it has the recycling symbol on it. The plastic coating on many of these containers makes them unsuitable for recycling. If the carton can’t be recycled, try turning it into a cool birdhouse.

11. Colored paper

Paper that is heavily dyed is often heat-treated which may contaminate it and make it unrecyclable. Try turning colorful poster board into art for a fun rainy-day art project with the kids.

This story originally appeared in Family Handyman.

Mauritius president resigns amid financial misconduct claims


The president of the Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius, Africa’s only female head of state, has resigned amid a financial scandal.

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim Gurib-Fakim submitted her resignation in the “national interest,” her lawyer Yousouf Mohamed told reporters Saturday, according to local news reports. Her resignation is effective on March 23.

It has been alleged that Gurib-Fakim made personal purchases with a credit card provided by an NGO, whose Angolan founder has sought to do business in Mauritius and is under investigation for alleged fraud in Portugal.

Gurib-Fakim said earlier this week that she “inadvertently” used the credit card from the London-based Planet Earth Institute for “out-of-pocket” expenses of about $27,000, and that she had refunded the money.

Gurib-Fakim, 58, whose role is mostly ceremonial, earlier had earlier said she was the victim of a smear campaign and said she would not resign. But by Saturday she had changed her mind.

Gurib-Fakim was appointed president in 2015 and was previously a chemistry professor and science faculty dean at the University of Mauritius.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, another female African head of state, stepped down as president of Liberia in January, handing power to President George Weah after an election.

Seattle cops capture thieves bursting out of a Costco with stolen merchandise


Seattle police officers were waiting at a fire exit when two shoplifters tried to run out of a Costco with vacuum cleaners and laptops under their arms.

The officers went to the Costco Wednesday in respone to a call of a burglary, the Seattle Police Department said in a statement.


Loss prevention officers from the store said one of the suspects was familiar. They believed the person may have stolen from the store before. Security personnel told police the suspect had also been seen carrying a knife in the prior incidents.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found a black vehicle with an 18-year-old female inside. Body cameras captured the officers interviewing the teen and blocking the car from leaving and then waiting when a 30-year-old man and a 21 year-old woman burst through the fire exit with the stolen laptops and vacuum cleaners.


Police immediately detained the two suspects who appeared to be shocked by the officers’ presence. Loss prevention staff said the two suspects also stole items from a different Costco earlier that day. The stolen items were worth about $2,200. Officers also found the man in possession of a 7-inch knife.

Cops said the male suspect was booked into the King County Jail “for investigation of robbery, while the two women were booked for investigation of theft.”

Seattle cops capture bust of thieves stealing in bulk from Costco


Seattle police officers captured the moment when they busted two people attempting to run out of a Costco with a bulk amount of vacuum cleaners and laptops Wednesday.

The officers were responding to a call regarding a burglary at Costco, the Seattle Police Department said in a statement.


Loss prevention officers from the store said one of the suspects was familiar and believed they may have stolen from the store before. Security personnel told police the suspect carried a knife in the past.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found a black vehicle with an 18-year-old female inside. Body cameras captured the officers interviewing the woman and blocking the car from leaving when a 30-year-old man and a 21 year-old woman busted through the store’s emergency exit of the store holding laptops and vacuum cleaners.

However, officers had surrounded the doors and were ready for their escape.


Police immediately detained the two suspects who appeared to be shocked by the officers’ presence. Loss prevention staff said the two suspects also stole items from a different Costco earlier that day. The stolen items were worth about $2,200. Officers also found a 7” knife the male suspect was carrying.

The male suspect was booked into the King County Jail “for investigation of robbery, while the two women were booked for investigation of theft.”

Superstore chain Fred Meyer to stop selling guns, ammunition


Superstore company Fred Meyer will stop selling guns and ammunition.

The Portland, Oregon,-based chain in a statement Friday said it made the decision after evaluating customer preferences. The company has more than 130 stores in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.

“Fred Meyer has made a business decision to exit the firearms category,” the company said. “We are currently working on plans to responsibly phase out sales of firearms and ammunition.”

The company, a subsidiary of Cincinnati, Ohio,-based Kroger Co., didn’t give a timeline.

Fred Meyer stores sell a range of goods that include groceries, clothing, electronics, outdoor equipment, furniture and jewelry. Stores also include pharmacies.

The company said the firearms category represents about $7 million annually of its revenue and sales have been declining.

“We made the decision early last week after evaluating changing customer preferences and the fact that we’ve been steadily reducing this category in our Fred Meyer stores over the last several years due to softening consumer demand,” the company said. “More recently we have been transitioning away from gun departments as a result of our ongoing work to optimize space in our Fred Meyer stores.”

Following last month’s high school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead, Fred Meyer said it would stop selling firearms to anyone under 21. The company had already stopped selling assault-style guns several years ago, except in Alaska.

Fred Meyer did not mention the school shooting in its statement Friday.

Other stores announced in the wake of that shooting that they would stop selling guns to anyone under 21 including Walmart Inc. and L.L. Bean. Dick’s Sporting Goods recently banned sales of assault rifles.

Several outdoor chains, including Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Gander Outdoors and Academy Sports, continue to sell assault-style rifles.

Immigrant detainee who alleged sex abuse to be released


U.S. immigration officials have agreed to release a Salvadoran woman who said a guard groped her inside an immigration detention facility.

Advocates said in a statement Saturday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement decided Friday to grant deferred action to Laura Monterrosa-Flores, who has been held for months at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center outside of Austin.

Earlier this month, ICE officials agreed to release Monterrosa-Flores on a weekly basis to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Advocates say that she attempted suicide in January after being denied a request for mental health care.

While The Associated Press doesn’t usually identify alleged victims of sexual assault, Monterrosa-Flores has agreed to come forward publicly.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund sued on Monterrosa-Flores’ behalf.

Duchess of Cambridge stuns in emerald St. Patrick’s Day look


It was a festive top o’ the morning for the Duchess of Cambridge, who looked regal as ever in a head-to-toe emerald look at a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in west London.

Eight months pregnant with her third child, the Duchess visited the 1st Battalion Irish Guards at their base on March 17 alongside her husband, Prince William, who serves as Colonel of the regiment, The Telegraph reports.

kate middleton reuters

The Duchess stayed warm with tights and gloves.  (Reuters)

Radiating holiday cheer, the Duchess wore a long, dark green coat trimmed with black fur cuffs and collar by Catherine Walker with a matching headpiece atop her signature chignon, paired with black gloves, tights and pumps for the chilly temperatures, Glamour reports.


kate middleton reuters

She appeared pleased to meet the Irish Guard’s mascot, an Irish Wolfhound.  (Reuters)

According to the outlet, the ever relatable royal appeared to rummage in her closet for her St. Patrick’s Day green. She previously stepped out in the coat in January during her tour of Scandinavia, and first wore the headpiece in 2014.

kate middleton reuters

The couple stepped out for the occasion on March 17.  (Reuters)

Handing out sprigs of shamrock to officers and warrant officers amongst the 350 troops, Duchess Kate looked thrilled to meet their mascot, Domnhall the Irish Wolfhound. After the parade, Prince William enjoyed a pint of Guinness, while the Duchess drank a glass of water, Vanity Fair notes.


kate middleton reuters

This will likely be one of her last public appearances before she welcomes her third child in April.  (Reuters)

Various British outlets surmised that the outing will likely be one of Duchess Kate’s last official engagements before she welcomes Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s new baby sibling in April. But if her sartorial track record is any indication, the Duchess is sure to look chic at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s highly anticipated wedding in May.


Janine Puhak is an editor for Fox News Lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter at @JaninePuhak

1969 Preakness Stakes trophy stolen from storage facility; woman arrested


A Florida woman with a long rap sheet has been charged with stealing the priceless trophy that a Canadian industrialist received for winning the 1969 Preakness Stakes with Majestic Prince.

The trophy was one of hundreds of items stolen during a dozen break-ins at a storage facility in Delray Beach, Florida, police said.

Alicia Murphy, 60, of Delray Beach, has been charged with the burglaries, police said Friday.


Among the items recovered by police was a plaque honoring Majestic Prince, winner of the 1969 Kentucky Derby and Preakness.  (Delray Beach Police)

“Detectives determined that Murphy rented a storage unit at the facility, routinely stole property and pawned it,” Delray police said in a news release.

They valued the stolen items at more than $350,000. The Preakness trophy may have been the most valuable.

“Murphy sent the Preakness Cup and other mementos from the 1969 race to an auction house in New York that specializes in sports memorabilia,” police said. “The auction company had already given Murphy a $15,000 advance on the cup.”

The Palm Beach Post reported that the Preakness trophy belonged to Francine McMahon of Delray Beach. Her father owned Majestic Prince when the horse won the Preakness after winning the Kentucky Derby.

With the Triple Crown on the line, Majestic Prince finished second in the Belmont to Arts and Letters.


Alicia Murphy, 60, was taken into custody for a string of storage unit break-ins in Delray Beach, Fla.  (Delray Beach Police)

Murphy served time in 2005 for grand theft and fraud, the paper reported. Her criminal records also includes convictions for other crimes.

German interior minister undercuts Merkel, says 'Islam does not belong to Germany'


German Chancellor Angela Merkel was undercut by her interior minister on Friday, when he said in an interview that “Islam does not belong to Germany.”

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, whose Bavarian Christian Social Union is a right-wing coalition ally of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), made the remarks in an interview with Bild, although he did add that Muslims who live in the country are part of Germany.

“Germany is shaped by Christianity. That means not working on Sundays and celebrating religious holidays such as Easter, Pentecost and Christmas,” he said. 

“My message is: Muslims need to live with us, not next to us or against us,” he added.

He has also taken a harder line on deportations, calling for policies that would make deportations easier.

His comments set him up for a clash with Merkel, who opened the country’s borders to mass migration from the Middle East and Africa in response to the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015. The comments also come as the populist and anti-migration “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) has been creeping up in the polls.

The CDU faces a state election this year where the AfD is expected to do well. The AfD’s campaign in last year’s election included the statement that “Islam is not a part of Germany.”

The phrase “Islam is part of Germany” was coined by former President Christian Wulff in 2010.

Merkel responded to Seehofer’s comments in a press conference by noting that there are four million Muslims in Germany.

“They can live their religion here too,” she said. “These Muslims belong to Germany and in the same way their religion belongs to Germany, that is to say Islam.”

The comments come after Merkel herself has shown a willingness to move to counter some of the populist and anti-Islamic rhetoric that is being increasingly well-received in the wake of the migration wave.


Earlier this month she admitted the existence of so-called “no-go zones” in Germany, areas said to be dogged by high-levels of crime and where outsiders, including police and other authorities, are unable to enter.

“It means for example that there cannot be any no-go areas, that there cannot be areas where no-one dares to go but there are such places,” she said. “One has to call them by name and do something about it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

Vatican bows to pressure, releases retired pope's letter


The Vatican has bowed to pressure and released the complete letter by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis after coming under criticism for selectively citing it in a press release and digitally manipulating a photograph of it.

The previously hidden part of the letter provides the real explanation why Benedict refused to provide commentary on a new compilation of books about Francis’ theological and philosophical background.

Benedict noted that one of the authors had launched “virulent,” ”anti-papist” attacks against his papacy and teaching. He said he was “surprised” the Vatican picked this theologian to be included in the 11-volume “The Theology of Pope Francis.”

The Vatican said Saturday it was releasing the full text of the letter due to the controversy over the “presumed manipulation” of information when the volume was launched Monday.

Teacher who fired gun apologizes to California community


A teacher at a Northern California high school has apologized for accidentally firing a gun inside his classroom, injuring three students.

The Monterey Herald reports Saturday that teacher and reserve police officer Dennis Alexander apologized and thanked community members for their support at a city council meeting Thursday night in Seaside.

Alexander is an elected Seaside councilmember and a reserve officer for Sand City police.

About 100 students attended the meeting. Students have also organized a petition to keep Alexander teaching at Seaside High School.

Alexander has been placed on administrative leave from his job at the school and at the Sand City Police Department.

Police say no one sustained serious injuries in the incident.

The coastal community is about 115 miles (185 kilometers) south of San Francisco.


Information from: The Monterey County Herald,

Poles march to protest rising racism, anti-Semitism


Hundreds of Poles have staged protests in Warsaw and other cities against racism and anti-Semitism to show they don’t agree with the rising wave of hostility and intolerance in Poland.

Pounding drums, some 1,000 people walked in downtown Warsaw chanting “Freedom, equality, tolerance!” and carrying banners that called for a stop to conflicts like the war in Syria.

Racism and anti-Semitism on Twitter, in graffiti and in public discourse have been on the rise since Poland’s right-wing government refused to accept Muslim migrants under an EU plan. That has only increased after Poland recently adopted a new law banning some statements about the Holocaust, which critics say could whitewash the actions of some Poles during the Holocaust.

The law has led to a bitter conflict with Israel.

California zoo welcomes 6-foot baby giraffe


It’s a girl!

The Santa Barbara Zoo welcomed a newborn female giraffe this week, which weighs 180 pounds and is 6-foot-1-inches tall. Audrey, a Masai giraffe, is the newborn’s mother.

The baby was slightly premature, KEYT reported, as zoo staff weren’t expecting the baby for a few more weeks.

In this Thursday, March 15, 2018 photo provided by the Santa Barbara Zoo, a baby giraffe nuzzles with her mother at their enclosure at the Santa Barbara Zoo in Santa Barbara, Calif. The zoo's Masai giraffe, Audrey, gave birth earlier in the week and the newborn is 6-feet-1 (1.8 meters), weighing in at 180 pounds (81.6 kilograms). Curator of Mammals Michele Green says it was a fast and smooth birth, and the female calf stood up and was nursing in only two hours. (Santa Barbara Zoo via AP)

Curator of Mammals Michele Green says it was a fast and smooth birth, and the female calf stood up and was nursing in only two hours  (Santa Barbara Zoo via AP)

While “this was the fastest birth Audrey has had,” it was “smooth and progressed well, and the calf stood up and was nursing in only two hours,” Michele Green, the curator of mammals at the zoo, told KEYT.

“Audrey is calm and this calf appears to be figuring things out very quickly. We couldn’t be happier for mom and baby,” she added.

The mom and baby will remain out public view for now, the Associated Press reported. But the two are slated to make their first public appearance together as early as next week, KEYT reported.

naming contest will determine what the newborn is called. The names being considered are Amirah, Makena, Nugget and Quintin.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kurds protest in Germany against Turkish govt, 3 arrested


German authorities say three people have been arrested in the northern city of Hannover when Kurdish demonstrators protesting Turkish military attacks in northern Syria clashed with police.

The dpa news agency reported that some of the estimated 11,000 protesters threw plastic bottles at police Saturday and threatened them with the flagpoles they were waving.

The demonstrators were also protesting German arms sales to Turkey and chanted slogans like “German tanks out of Kurdistan!” and called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “terrorist.”

No incidents were reported at smaller demonstrations in Cologne and Wuppertal.

Some demonstrators waved flags showing the leader of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK, and police say they are evaluating videos to see if they can determine their identity.

Here's How Long It Takes for Spotify to Make Money on Free Users


Spotify has grown to become the largest music-streaming service on Earth, thanks in part to its free, ad-supported tier that serves as a funnel to its premium business. The company estimates that 60% of all gross premium subscriber additions since early 2014 have come from its free tier. But ad-supported services face brutal economics, getting pinched between royalty costs and weak monetization through ads.

To that point, Spotify confirmed in its F-1 filing that its ad-supported business has long been a money-loser, only turning positive in 2017 after the company was able to negotiate more favorable licensing terms from record labels.

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That’s not to suggest that the ad-supported business is a great business now that it’s profitable. Ad-supported gross margin was still less than half of premium gross margin in 2017 (10% vs 22%). The good news is that it doesn’t take Spotify very long to recoup user-specific losses after a free user converts to a premium subscription.

Ad-supported losses are almost like marketing expenses

During Spotify’s investor day presentation last week, CFO Barry McCarthy told prospective investors that once a free user converts to a premium subscriber, it only takes about 12 months to break even, after which point the lifetime value of that user continues to rise.

That’s especially true as Spotify continues to reduce premium churn, retaining a greater proportion of subscribers over time. The family plans in particular, which include up to six accounts for $15 per month, have been instrumental in driving down premium churn over time.

Once a family has signed up for a family plan and started personalizing the service, the switching costs for moving an entire family to a competing service are huge. With pricing mostly standardized across the industry thanks to competition, there’s not really a strong incentive to switch anyway.

In fact, McCarthy said that historically Spotify has essentially considered its ad-supported segment to be a marketing expense, helping to give users a taste of the service knowing that there’s a very good chance that free users will eventually open their wallets. When looked at from that angle, it makes even more sense. The ad-supported losses incurred in 2015 and 2016 are a fraction of what Spotify officially spent on sales and marketing (219 million euros in 2015 and 368 million euros in 2016), making it an extremely efficient user acquisition channel.

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