Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Latest: Shells rain down on Damascus from rebel suburbs

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The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):

11:15 a.m.

Residents of the Syrian capital and the state-run news agency say shells from besieged rebel-held suburbs are raining down on Damascus.

SANA says Tuesday’s shelling killed one person and wounded at least six people. It comes amid a major government offensive on the region known as eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian Civil Defense affiliated with the opposition said the shelling and airstrikes killed 98 on Monday, adding that some people were still under the rubble.

A resident of Damascus hiding in the corridor of an office building described the shelling as one of the worst in months. The resident spoke on condition of anonymity for security concerns.

The shelling targeted the districts of Old Damascus, Bab Touma, Abu Rummaneh and others.

—Zeina Karam in Beirut;

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10:30 a.m.

A Syrian monitoring group and paramedics say government shelling and airstrikes on rebel-held suburbs of the capital, Damascus, killed at least 98 people on Monday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it was the deadliest day in three years in the area known as eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, said the shelling and airstrikes killed 98 and that some people are still under the rubble.

The Observatory says 20 children and 15 women were among those killed on Monday.

The targeted suburbs have been subjected to weeks-long bombardment that has killed and wounded hundreds of people.

Opposition activists say government forces have brought in reinforcements in preparation for a wider offensive on the area — the last main rebel stronghold near Damascus.

Australia resettles Cambodian activist's family as refugees

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Australia has accepted the family of a murdered Cambodian political activist as refugees, as the Australian government encourages its rejected refugees to resettle in Cambodia.

Victoria state lawmaker Hong Lim’s office said Tuesday that Kem Levy’s wife and five children arrived in Melbourne, the state capital, from Thailand on Saturday.

Kem Ley was shot dead in a convenience store in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, in July 2016, and his family escaped to a Thai refugee camp.

Australia agreed in 2014 to pay Cambodia $35 million over four years to resettle an unspecified number of refugees held on an Australian-run immigration camp on the Pacific Island nation of Nauru.

Only seven refugees took up the offer and reportedly only three remain there.

Parts of New Zealand flood as remnants of Cyclone Gita hit

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Parts of New Zealand have declared an emergency as a powerful storm hits, causing flooding and forcing some people to evacuate their homes.

The storm system is the remnants of Cyclone Gita, which last week ripped through the Pacific nation of Tonga, destroying homes, churches and the historic Parliament House. The winds have weakened as the storm has arced through the Pacific, but it is still causing disruptions in New Zealand.

National carrier Air New Zealand canceled flights Tuesday afternoon from the capital, Wellington, in anticipation of the storm, while the city of Christchurch declared an emergency. The military has been deployed to some towns where the storm is expected to have the biggest impact.

Dozens of schools have been closed and power outages were affecting thousands of homes Tuesday.

The Olympics and what they can teach us about how to win in life

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The Olympics are captivating the world like they do every two years. The stories of athletes overcoming challenges are inspiring, the support of their families is heartwarming and the success some have is momentous.

But most do not win a medal.

There are 2,952 athletes from 92 countries. They compete in 102 events. There are only 306 medals to be won. When you factor in multiple winners of medals only about one in ten athletes will win.

But the ten percent who actually win medals are an example to us. They show us what is possible. They model for us the qualities needed to win in sports – and in life.

Discipline Yourself

Self-discipline is doing what you have to do, doing it as well as you can and doing it that way all the time. Athletes deny themselves many things in order to gain a greater prize. Olympic champions practice this all the time. They know that any loss of focus can cost them their ultimate goal.

Skier Mikaela Shiffrin has stayed off social media since before the Olympics began. She did not want any distractions to keep her from winning. And in her first race, the Giant Slalom, she won a gold medal. Mikaela said, “I haven’t been looking at what people are saying. So I’ve really been away from that a bit and that helps a lot.”

Nathan Chen entered the Olympics as a favorite for the gold. In his short program he fell on every single jump. In his long program he landed six quadruple jumps, a feat never before accomplished at the Olympics. Chen may not have earned a medal but in setting records he overcame his failure.

There is a price to be paid for success. Sacrifices must be made. Snowboarder Chloe Kim and her family had to drive 5.5 hours one way from their Southern California home to Mammoth Mountain for her to train. But the result of her sacrifice is that at just 17 she won the Women’s Snowboarding Halfpipe gold medal.

When you demand of yourself anything and everything you become a winner. Avoiding those temptations that will hinder your effectiveness takes discipline. In order to reach your goals, sacrifices will have to be made time and time again. When times get tough, as they inevitably will, it is your self-discipline that will make the difference.

Be Committed

Successful people are just ordinary people who make commitments others are unwilling to make. Olympic champions have fully commited to their sport. Their will to succeed is what makes them distinct.

Shaun White won the Men’s Snowboarding Halfpipe gold medal last Wednesday. It was his third snowboarding gold medal, making him, once again, an Olympic champion. But he was not the Olympic champion at the 2014 Sochi Games. In fact, he came in fourth place.

He admitted later that he was not fully committed to the sport. He was touring with his band Bad Things and doing more than he ever had away from the sport.

He then recommitted to his Olympic dream. He began working out training off the snow for the first time in his career.

He also changed the team around him, getting a new coach, manager, publicist and physical therapist. He rediscovered his love for the sport once he fully committed.

Too many give up or quit when they face obstacles or experience disappointments. They take the path of least resistance and never experience victory. Commitment means doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes to ultimately succeed.

Overcome Failure

Everyone fails. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. Lindsey Vonn is one of the greatest women’s skiers of all-time. She skied a great race in her first event at the Olympics. But she made a mistake on one turn and ended up in sixth place in the Super-G.

Even the best fail at times. She will get another chance in the downhill race. If she wins it will be because Vonn was able to overcome her earlier failure. Failure is inevitable – it is how you handle it that determines whether you win or lose.

Failure is simply feedback. It tells us what did not work and that we require a new approach. We need to fail forward. So we can learn from our mistakes and do better in the future.

Nathan Chen is the reigning male American figure skating champion. He entered the Olympics as a favorite for the gold. In his short program he fell on every single jump. He scored so poorly he ended up in 17th place, eliminating him from medal contention.

In his long program he landed six quadruple jumps, a feat never before accomplished at the Olympics. His technical score was the highest ever achieved by a male skater in any Olympics. Chen may not have earned a medal but in setting records he overcame his failure.

These Olympic winners are inspiring. They show us what can be accomplished when we strive to do our best. Let their example motivate you to achieve your dreams.

Rick McDaniel is the author of the recently released book “Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks.” He is also the founder/senior pastor of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, VA. You can find him on Twitter at @rickmcdaniel. 

No, Time magazine, marriage is NOT a science – it's a mindset

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Time magazine is boasting the bold title “The Science of Marriage,” in a special edition on shelves until April. The cover teases articles that promise to help you keep love alive and make your marriage stand the test of time.

While advice and tips can be helpful, the success of a marriage can’t be boiled down to a to-do list because marriage isn’t a science. Marriage is a mindset.

It’s a mindset that is willful, intentional and deliberate. A mindset that understands marriage, by definition, is a lifelong commitment.

When you choose to enter into marriage you aren’t just promising to honor the vows you made.  You are promising to intentionally act on those vows, even when the science tries to tell you maybe you weren’t really a match after all.

One article in Time’s special edition, “The Health Perks of Saying ‘I Do,’” says “Decades of data collection have shown that marriage, for all its challenges, is like a health-insurance policy, especially if the union is a strong one.”  The article goes on to cite how happily married people drink less, eat healthier, and have lower rates of mental illness, among other perks.

While these things all may be true, and they’re great statistics, they’re missing the bigger picture. Marriage is not a party-of-one endeavor. When you choose marriage, you’re choosing to be part of a team.

When asked about the secret of love, the Reverend Billy Graham, who was married to his wife for more than 63 years, said it’s about being “happily incompatible.”

It’s an unselfish decision you make to take the focus off of yourself and put it on the other person. If two people enter into a marriage with that same selfless attitude, then they’re setting themselves up for success.

A Huffington Post article last August focused on the marriage of Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s hit show, “Fixer Upper.”  In it, Chip said, “She has my back. And I have hers — in all things.”

Another article in Time’s special edition, “9 Signs Your Marriage Will Last,” gives you tips to tell if your marriage will last.  According to the article, some of the signs you should look for include, “You had warm feet on your wedding day.”  This is apparently a good sign if you’re a woman, according to a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology. The study found that women were over two times as likely to be divorced after four years of marriage if they had cold feet before their wedding.

Most people should be able to agree that if you have doubts about getting married, you probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

Other tips include “You fight fair,” “You’ve got demographics on your side,” and “You dated for a while (but had your own place).” Not necessarily bad tips.

However, on paper we can have all the tips and tricks that make sense, but in the end there is no scientific rationale behind why two people just happen to click. Who hasn’t looked at someone and wondered what in the world he or she could possibly see in their significant other because it just doesn’t seem to add up.

But human connection isn’t an algorithm, it’s a mystery that defies scientific logic.  Once you get past the connection and the butterflies it all comes down to a choice.  

That’s exactly what marriage is, an intentional choice. It doesn’t stop at “I do.”

It’s a purposeful decision to choose the other person, over and over again. Every. Single. Day. That means fighting fair, that means doing so whether you have demographics on your side or not, or whether you dated for three years or three months before you got married.

In December, another Huffington Post article again featured the Gaines’s, who’ve been married for 14 years and have four kids with one on the way. In it, Chip summed up the secret to their marriage in six words, “There’s no secret. It’s hard work.” 

Despite its popularity, Chip and Joanna have chosen to leave Fixer Upper after this season to focus on their marriage and family. Chip said, “In Jo and I’s life… we will always choose our family.  We will always choose our marriage no matter what the opportunity, and the ‘Fixer Upper’ conclusion is a decent example [of that].”

Another article in the magazine, this one brought to you by comedian Samantha Bee and her husband Jason Jones is “10 Ways to Make Your Marriage Divorce-Proof.” One of the tips is to not fight in public. That’s always a good rule of thumb.

However, the example they give is a husband finding out for the first time that his wife purchased a house in another country when she announced it at a public gathering. While that’s problematic to say the least, it probably speaks to much deeper issues in their marriage. Issues that most likely wouldn’t be resolved by her simply saving that conversation for the car ride home.

Other examples include, “Realize that if you can agree on what constitutes a clean room, you can agree on anything,” and “If you’re irritated by your partner, imagine him as a small child.”  According to the article, “While your partner is puttering around and looking idle, imagine him at age 5.  Awww.  Isn’t he adorable?  And so smart!”

This apparently is supposed to help you see your partner from a different view. It’s still not entirely clear how imagining your husband as a five year old will keep you out of divorce court.

When asked about the secret of love, the Reverend Billy Graham, who was married to his wife for more than 63 years, said it’s about being “happily incompatible.

As a society we need to shift our mindset from “me” to “we,” and remember there’s no magic formula or quick fix for the perfect marriage. When we recognize that we’re on the same team and we’re traveling this road together, we can make each other better and be happily incompatible, even if the “science” doesn’t add up.

Lauren DeBellis Appell was deputy press secretary for then-Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., in his successful 2000 re-election campaign, as well as assistant communications director for the Senate Republican Policy Committee (2001-2003).

Juan Williams: Evangelicals sell their souls for Trump

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When it comes to the Stormy Daniels story, it is hard for me to understand the silence from evangelical Christians.

Let it sink in: It is now confirmed that the president’s personal lawyer paid a porn star for her silence.

After the story broke, a friend sent me an old article from a left-wing website.

Democrats, the story said, beat themselves up for not better understanding white, Christian support for President Trump.

But that is a fool’s errand, the writer argued, because there is no understanding people who don’t accept facts.

The facts on the porn star and Trump became clear last week when Michael D. Cohen, the president’s lawyer, said he personally paid $130,000 to Daniels.

The money changed hands just before the 2016 election to allegedly stop her from talking about a sexual affair with candidate Trump that took place in 2006, just after Trump’s wife had a baby.

There is no longer any way to deny the fact of the payment and the nature of the tawdry story.

Also, there is no way to deny a former Playboy playmate’s telling of another extramarital affair with the president in 2006 and 2007.

For a group that regularly preaches about the “sanctity of marriage” and inveighs against the evils of divorce, it was a major political puzzle to me when evangelicals first backed the thrice-married, adulterous Trump over Hillary Clinton.

The New Yorker magazine has now confirmed that the woman in question, Karen McDougal, wrote an account of the relationship. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that she was paid for her story by the National Enquirer’s publisher, a Trump friend, and the tabloid sat on the story, presumably to protect Trump.

And there is no way to deny that FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to Congress last week that Trump’s White House knew about two serious charges of domestic abuse against top aide Rob Porter but let him keep his job. Porter resigned only when those allegations became public.

Yes, the injunction to let he who is without sin cast the first stone is an important one. But it now seems clear that evangelical Christians, who hold up biblical edicts on lying, cheating and adultery, don’t care about the word of God when it comes to Trump.

A January poll for The Washington Post and ABC News “found 68 percent of white evangelical Protestants approve of Trump’s job performance — a figure that is nearly double that of the population as a whole and that is higher than any other religious or demographic group.”

Let’s not forget that according to exit polls, 80 percent of white, born-again evangelical Christians supported Trump in the last election. Hillary Clinton only received 16 percent support. Voters from this demographic cast 26 percent of all votes for president in 2016.

For a group that regularly preaches about the “sanctity of marriage” and inveighs against the evils of divorce, it was a major political puzzle to me when evangelicals first backed the thrice-married, adulterous Trump over Hillary Clinton.

She suffered years of public humiliation rather than breaking up her family, turning away from marriage vows and divorcing her philandering husband.

And now the puzzling behavior of evangelicals is pushed to the limit by their support for Trump despite the slimy facts of the Stormy Daniels story.

Imagine for one moment if President Obama’s personal lawyer had paid six figures in hush money to a porn star.

The same evangelicals would have condemned him as not being Christian and possibly believing in Muslim law that allows multiple wives. They would have said he was a bad example to the nation’s youth.

Imagine if Obama had endorsed a candidate despite credible allegations that he sexually molested young girls.

Well, there is no denying that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R), who faced just such allegations, got Trump’s full endorsement.

Again, evangelicals continued to support Trump.

Hypocrisy that deep can’t be excused by Trump’s convenient switch from supporting abortion rights to opposing abortion.

What we are seeing is a hollow core in evangelical faith as practiced by its leaders.

Tony Perkins, head of a Christian conservative evangelical group, The Family Research Council, said recently that his supporters give Trump a “mulligan” on sex with the porn star.

Evangelical leader Franklin Graham, the son of the nation’s most famous evangelical preacher, Billy Graham, also defended Trump.

“That was a long time ago,” Graham told CNN’s Don Lemon in dismissing the porn star story. “I’m more interested in who a person is today. I believe he’s a changed person.”

Graham saves his fiery condemnations for what he calls the “godless progressive agenda of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.”

Robert Jeffress, a leading Trump supporter among evangelicals and senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, told The New York Times earlier this month he “can’t look into the president’s heart.”

Jeffress said he doesn’t “care” if Trump is a religious phony but only that Trump has “embraced and enacted” policies favored by Jeffress and other evangelicals.

That led Tara I. Burton to conclude in an article on Vox that Jeffress’ indifference about Trump’s nasty earlier comments about “shithole countries” in fact “revealed the dark heart of Christian nationalism: It is as much…about jingoism and ethno-nationalism as it ever has been about Christian values.”

When it comes to Trump, the nation’s political, social and historical norms do not matter anymore. Now the acid of the Trump presidency is eating away at the integrity of leading evangelists and their supporters.

God help us.

Juan Williams currently serves as a co-host of FOX News Channel’s (FNC) The Five (weekdays 5-6PM/ET) and also appears as a political analyst on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace and Special Report with Bret Baier. Williams joined the network as a contributor in 1997.

Ramaphosa tells South Africa: get some morning exercise

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is winning some fans with his habit of early morning jogs and walks in which he interacts with the public.

Ramaphosa, who took office on Feb. 15 after predecessor Jacob Zuma resigned, walked with a crowd for nearly six kilometers (3.7 miles) in the Cape Town area early Tuesday. He also jogged along the city’s waterfront and stopped for selfies with passers-by during the South African power transition late last week.

After his walk, the 65-year-old president told onlookers that the exercise is a positive way to start the day and he encouraged South Africans to do the same.

Ramaphosa says people can start with short walks and increase the distance.

“In no time you won’t even feel it,” he says.

Thai court gives Japanese man custody of surrogate kids

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A Thai court has granted legal custody of 13 babies carried by surrogate mothers to a Japanese millionaire who is their biological father.

Bangkok’s Central Juvenile and Family Court on Tuesday gave Mitsutoki Shigeta sole legal custody of the children he fathered using Thai surrogate mothers, ruling that he’s financially stable and showed his plans to care for them.

Shigeta’s case raised eyebrows in 2014 when police raided a Bangkok condominium and found nine babies and nine nannies living in unfurnished rooms. Shigeta was identified as the father. The case helped usher in a Thai law prohibiting commercial surrogacy for foreign clients.

The court ruling said Shigeta had a right to custody because the children were born before the new law, and because the surrogate mothers waived their custody rights.

California man falls off 500-foot cliff after trying to rescue dog

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A 67-year-old man died after falling down a 500-foot cliff in California on Monday while trying to save his dog.

The National Park Service said the man’s dog got away from him and made its way part way down a cliff at Thornton State Beach, which is in the San Francisco area.

The man, who was not identified, ran after the dog but slipped to his death, local TV station KPIX reported.

Rescuers airlifted the body from the cliff and later helped the dog off the steep cliff. The dog was returned to the family.

Thornton State Beach is a popular spot among dog walkers in the area.

“Stay on the trails, especially I mean the ice plants will be slippery with the moisture,” Rath Skallion told local TV station KGO. “That’s why I can see someone slipping on the edge.”

The Park Service warns people to avoid trying to save dogs by themselves. Animals are likely to survive some falls while humans may not.

“Sometimes things can move around. You gotta be careful. Always be on alert because rocks can tumble,” Tedd Leblanc, who was hiking the same day the incident occurred, told KPIX.

Activists: Syria's shelling of Damascus suburb killed 98

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A Syrian monitoring group and paramedics say government shelling and airstrikes on rebel-held suburbs of the capital, Damascus, killed at least 98 people on Monday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it was the deadliest day in three years in the area known as Eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, said the shelling and airstrikes killed 98 and that some people are still under the rubble.

The Observatory says 20 children and 15 women were among those killed on Monday.

The targeted suburbs have been subjected to weeks-long bombardment that has killed and wounded hundreds of people.

Opposition activists say government forces have brought in reinforcements in preparation for a wider offensive on the area — the last main rebel stronghold near Damascus.

GM offers $2.2 billion debt for equity swap in return for Seoul's support

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The GM logo is seen at the General Motors Warren Transmission Operations Plant in Warren, Michigan October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

General Motors has offered to convert debt of around $2.2 billion owed by its ailing South Korean operation into equity in exchange for financial support and tax benefits from Seoul, four sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

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The restructuring proposal comes after the Detroit automaker announced last week that it would shut its plant in the city of Gunsan, southwest of Seoul, by May and decide the future of the remaining three plants in the country within weeks.

The debt for equity swap would allow GM’s business in South Korea to continue operating. It was not immediately clear how the deal would affect the interest of the state-run Korea Development Bank, which owns 17 percent of GM Korea.

GM’s decision was the latest in a series of steps it has made to put profitability and innovation ahead of sales and volume. Since 2015, GM has exited unprofitable markets including Europe, Australia, South Africa and Russia.

It was not immediately clear how much fresh capital GM has demanded from the South Korean government to keep operating its Korean business, which employs nearly 16,000 people.

But one of the sources said GM had asked Seoul to provide financial support worth over $1 billion, while several sources said GM wanted its South Korea factory sites designated as special foreign investment zones that would make the company eligible for tax breaks for seven years.

“GM says it will recapitalize its Korean unit, and in return it’s asking South Korea to accept its packaged proposal that includes government support worth over $1 billion,” the person said, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject.

A GM Korea spokesman said the company would continue to work with the government and labor union to secure support for its viability plan.

On Tuesday, Barry Engle, head of GM’s international operations, met with a task force headed by a ruling party lawmaker from Bupyeong, where GM Korea has its biggest manufacturing plant, to discuss its restructuring plan.

After the meeting, Engle told reporters the company wanted to stay in South Korea.

“It is certainly our preference to stay and to fix the business and continue to be an important part of the Korea economy,” he said. “I’m encouraged by the discussions and I am optimistic that that is an outcome that together we can achieve.” He declined to comment further on the discussions between GM and the South Korean government.

A South Korean lawmaker, Kim Sung-tae, said Engle told the lawmakers that the company planned to produce two new models in South Korea.

Engle did not elaborate on whether GM’s plan for the two new car models were dependent on government support for the automaker, said Kim, who attended the meeting.

Engle told lawmakers that GM Korea would try to maintain output at the current level of around 500,000 vehicles a year, according to Kang Hoon-sik, a spokesperson for the ruling party. GM’s South Korean unit produced 519,385 vehicles last year, compared with 942,805 a decade ago.

Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon told reporters on Tuesday that the government would “closely consult with GM to normalize its management,” adding that a due diligence on the company should come first.

South Korea’s presidential office also said Tuesday that it would designate Gunsan an employment “crisis zone”, opening the way for government subsidies like cheap loans and and other financial support for those laid off.

NO DECISION YET

South Korean government officials said it was too early to decide on any financial backing, as it wanted to conduct due diligence before committing fresh investment in GM Korea.

The tensions also come at a difficult time for U.S.-South Korean relations given U.S. President Donald Trump’s determination to renegotiate the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Korea Development Bank believes the auto maker has not shared sufficient information about its finances or the cause of its mounting losses, according to officials from the bank and government officials.

“They have requested for help and a thorough audit of the situation is among many preconditions before any public funds can be set aside,” a government official told Reuters, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, referring to GM.

Another government official said GM had not filed an official application to get its South Korea factory sites designated as foreign investment zones, but it was “testing waters” to check the possibility.

South Korea was for years a low-cost export hub for GM, producing close to a fifth of its global output at its peak.

But the automaker’s decision to exit other unprofitable markets have exacerbated problems for GM Korea, which used to build many of the Chevrolet models GM once offered in Europe.

GM Korea posted a total of 1.9 trillion won ($1.8 billion) in net losses between 2014 and 2016.

(Additional reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Philip McClellan)

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Police: Angry mob killed suspects in murder of girl in India

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Police say nearly 1,000 people dragged two suspects out of a police station and beat them to death in anger after the rape and killing of a 5-year-old girl in India’s remote northeast.

Police officer Apur Bitin says 15 police officers were injured in Monday’s mob attack in Tezu, a town in Arunachal Pradesh state.

Bitin said Tuesday the mob first demanded that the two accused be handed over to them. They later dragged the two out of the police lockup and attacked them and the heavily outnumbered police.

The girl had been killed in the nearby village of Namgo eight days ago.

Pema Khandu, the state’s top elected official, ordered a magistrate to inquire into the matter.

German man fined $258,000 for cheating at self-service till

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A German man has been fined 208,000 euros ($258,000) for cheating at a supermarket self-service till.

Munich’s district court convicted the 58-year-old businessman of theft for trying to pass off 47 euros-worth of veal liver as cheaper fruit.

The man, who wasn’t identified, had done the same thing three times before and also had past convictions for theft and tax evasion.

The court based the high fine on the man’s monthly income of 24,000 euros. He was released from jail, where he had been held since the theft in December.

Munich court spokesman Klaus-Peter Juengst said Tuesday that the defendant didn’t appeal the verdict, which was issued last month.

Pakistan: Indian troops open fire in Kashmir, killing boy

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Pakistan’s foreign ministry says Indian troops have opened fire in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, killing an 8-year-old boy.

The ministry says Pakistan summoned an Indian diplomat on Tuesday to lodge a protest over the killing.

Islamabad says the boy was killed on Monday in Jijot Bahadar village in the Khuiratta region of Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir.

Pakistan claims that so far this year, Indian forces have violated the cease-fire dividing their respective sectors of Kashmir more than 335 times, killing 15 civilians and wounding 65.

There was no immediate comment from New Delhi.

Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed neighbors, routinely trade fire in Kashmir. Both countries claim the region in its entirety and have fought two of their three wars so far over Kashmir.

Stocks point to lower open following holiday

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Rebel chief: IS-linked Marawi attackers plotted for 2nd city

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The leader of the largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines says Islamic State group-aligned militants planned but failed to attack another southern city after their deadly siege in Marawi was crushed last year.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front told reporters Tuesday the extremist plot to attack either Iligan or Cotabato city fell apart after the Marawi siege but the IS-linked extremists have continued to recruit new fighters, including an unidentified Canadian Arab, to recover from their battle defeats.

Murad says his own rebel group hopes Congress this year will pass proposed legislation to enforce a 2014 autonomy pact with the government and warned restive young Muslims in the Philippines may be drawn into extremism if the peace efforts fail.

US F-16 dumped 2 fuel tanks near fishermen at Japan lake

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A U.S. fighter jet has dumped fuel tanks into a lake in northern Japan, narrowly missing a dozen fishermen catching clams in the water. Nobody was injured.

The U.S. Air Force said in a statement that an F-16 jet assigned to the Misawa Air Base dumped two external fuel tanks Tuesday after developing an engine fire while flying above Lake Ogawara.

The air force said the aircraft returned safely to the base, and there were no injuries to the pilot or people on the ground.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said officials have spotted parts believed to be from the military aircraft in the lake. He said the water surface was smeared with oil.

Report: Iran summons Swedish envoy over granting citizenship

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Iran’s official IRNA news agency says the foreign ministry has summoned Sweden’s ambassador over the Nordic country decision to grant citizenship to an Iranian researcher who is in jail in Tehran.

Tuesday’s report says the ministry summoned Ambassador Helena Sangeland on Monday to protest the granting of citizenship to Ahmad Reza Jalali, calling the move “unconventional, question-posing and unfriendly.”

Iran does not recognize dual nationality.

Jalali, jailed since April 2016, was shown on state TV in December confessing to providing information to Israel’s Mossad spy agency about Iranian military and nuclear scientists, including two who were assassinated in 2010.

Rights groups have condemned Jalali’s detention, saying it follows a pattern of Iran detaining dual nationals and expatriates indefinitely without due process.

Stock gains may pause following holiday break

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Volcanic blast reshaped summit of Indonesia's Mount Sinabung

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The eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung that shot ash 5 kilometers (3 miles) high also “annihilated” the mountain’s summit.

Before and after images from Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation show an enormous chunk missing from the peak.

Volcanologist Devy Kamil Syahbana said the chunk, known as the “lava dome,” had a volume of at least 1.6 million cubic meters (56.5 million cubic feet).

The volcano in North Sumatra, which has been active since 2010, erupted explosively on Monday morning.

Hot ash clouds rolled down its slopes, traveling as far as 4.9 kilometers from the crater.

No-one was injured. Video showed screaming children fleeing a school outside the exclusion zone that surrounds the volcano as a billowing column of ash rose in the background.

Police name Netanyahu associates in Israeli corruption probe

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The Israeli police have named the two close associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrested for their suspected role in a wide-ranging corruption probe.

With a gag order lifted Tuesday, police identified them as Nir Hefetz, a former Netanyahu spokesman, and Shlomo Filber, the former director of the communications ministry under Netanyahu.

The two are suspected of promoting regulation worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel’s Bezeq telecom company in return for favorable coverage of Netanyahu in a highly popular subsidiary news site. Netanyahu has not yet been named as a suspect in the case.

Bezeq Chairman Shaul Elovitch is also in custody, along with his wife, son and other Bezeq executives. Former journalists at the site have attested to being pressured to refrain from negative reporting of Netanyahu.

Website tracks Musk's Tesla Roadster and dummy pilot's journey through space

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As the batteries on Elon musk’s Tesla Roadster ran out of power, subsequently ending the stunning live video transmission of the vehicle’s journey through space, many were left wondering how to further track its travels.

Cameras aboard the Roadster, which was launched on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket earlier this month, were expected to last 12 hours, but only lasted about 4 hours, according to USA Today.

That’s when Ben Pearson, a SpaceX fan who works in aerospace technology, decided to create a website dedicated to tracking the Roadster, and its dummy pilot codenamed “Starman,” as they make their way in space, TechCrunch reported.

“I came to realize that people really were interested in the tracking of these objects,” Pearson wrote on www.whereisroadster.com website. “I started thinking about how I could manage to get this information, and then I came to realize that I could provide the tracking for it myself!”

A mannequin “Starman†sits at the wheel of a Tesla Roadster in this photo posted on the Instagram account of Elon Musk, head of auto company Tesla and founder of the private space company SpaceX. The car will be on board when SpaceX launches its new rocket, the Falcon Heavy, from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Courtesy of Elon Musk/Instagram via AP)

Fans can track the journey of SpaceX’s Tesla Roadster and dummy pilot, “Starman,” as they travel through space.  (AP)

Using data from JPL Horizons, Pearson’ website shows the vehicle’s current location from Earth and how many miles away it is from the Sun. Even SpaceX CEO and Tesla founder, Musk seems to approve of Pearson’s work.  

SpaceX made history on Feb. 6, with the successful launch of the world’s most powerful rocket. The behemoth has 27 engines, and a thrust that’s able to generate more than 5 million pounds – equivalent to 18 Boeing 747 aircraft. 

Afghan officials say insurgent attacks killed 9 policemen

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Afghan officials say insurgents have killed nine policemen in separate attacks in the country’s west and east.

In western Farah province, attacks on police checkpoints killed eight policemen.

Mohammad Naser Mehri, spokesman for the Farah governor, says two police checkpoints came under attack overnight, one in Bala Buluk district and one near Farah city.

Mehri says 13 insurgents were also killed in the fighting, which started on Monday night and lasted till early Tuesday morning.

And in eastern Kapisa province, two gunmen opened fire at the police, killing one officer.

Provincial spokesman Qais Qaderi says both gunmen were killed and five suspects were arrested.

No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the Taliban have been active in Farah and have stepped up attacks on security forces across Afghanistan.

Texas student charged after threatening to turn high school into 'another Florida,' police say

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An 18-year-old student was arrested and charged Monday for threatening to turn his Texas high school into ‘another Florida’ after he was caught cheating on a test, police said.

Oryan McFadden, 18, allegedly made the remark to a teacher in front of other students at Hitchcock High School, according to local reports.

He was booked at the school Monday and charged with making a terroristic threat — a felony — while his parents talked to school officials, KTRK reported

McFadden transferred recently to Hitchcock High School from another school district in the Greater Houston area, KTRK reported, citing police officials.

The incident came just days after a gunman killed 17 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last Wednesday. The school is set to reopen for the first time after the massacre in phases on Friday, administrators said.

Elsewhere in Texas, multiple students — including a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old — were arrested last week for threatening schools, KPRC reported, citing investigators.

In several of those cases, students who saw or heard the threats reportedly alerted their parents, who contacted authorities. 

Across the U.S., similar threats were reported by several schools in the wake of the Florida shooting. 

Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.