COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Danish police are investigating a number of letters containing an unidentified powder and threats that were sent from Belgium to several food processing companies in Denmark.
Uffe Stormly of Denmark’s National Police says the letters contained “a hazardous substance.” Stormly declined on Wednesday to disclose details about the letters as the investigation was ongoing.
Danish media said the letters demanded a 30,000-euro ($33,735) ransom or their products would be infected.
Danish Crown, which describes itself as Europe’s largest meat processing company, confirmed it received such letters. It said, citing information from authorities, that the letters had been sent to several food-processing companies in Europe.
The company said neither staff nor consumers were at risk.
Source: Fox News World
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia – The Latest on the summit between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un (all times local):
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia’s Vladivostok for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kim arrived on his armored train, which pulled into the station in the Pacific port of Vladivostok Wednesday evening. He was greeted by a military orchestra before he got into his personal limousine that traveled with him, and drove away.
Kim’s Russia trip comes about two months after his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump failed because of disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on the North.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia for his summit with President Vladimir Putin in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.
Russian news agency Tass quoted a local official as saying Kim was given flowers, bread and salt at the Hasan train station after crossing the border.
Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov told Russian media Tuesday that the summit Thursday will focus on North Korea’s nuclear program.
Kim’s Russia trip comes about two months after his second summit with President Donald Trump failed because of disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on the North.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency said Kim was seen off by officials and residents as he left Pyongyang by his special train at dawn Wednesday.
Source: Fox News World
RAMALLAH, West Bank – The Israeli military says its forces have demolished the home of a Palestinian who killed two Israelis in a shooting and stabbing attack last month.
Israel says 19-year-old Omar Abu Layla fatally stabbed a soldier and shot and killed another while wounding others near the settlement of Ariel in March. He was killed by Israeli troops after a massive three-day manhunt.
Israeli forces demolished his family home in the northern West Bank village of Al-Zawyeh early on Wednesday. Residents of the neighborhood were evacuated to a nearby school as the explosives were detonated.
Israel often demolishes homes of alleged Palestinian assailants or their families, saying it deters future attacks. Rights groups say the demolitions amount to collective punishment.
Source: Fox News World
BOWIE, Md. – A Maryland woman has been indicted on charges of vehicular manslaughter and vehicular homicide in a February wreck that killed a man and five children.
News outlets report 32-year-old Dominique R. Taylor, of Bowie, was indicted Tuesday. It’s unclear if she’s been arrested. An investigation determined she was driving with more than twice the legal blood alcohol level of .08 in her system.
Prosecutors say Taylor was driving along Route 301 in Prince George’s County when she lost control of the car and swerved into trees.
Authorities say the children, all relatives, weren’t wearing seat belts and were ejected. Taylor’s children, 8-year-old London and 5-year-old Paris, were killed along with 6-year-old Rickelle Ricks, 14-year-old Zion Beard and 15-year-old Damari Herald. Passenger 23-year-old Cornell D. Simon later died from his injuries.
Information from: The Capital, http://www.capitalgazette.com/
Source: Fox News National
MOSUL, Iraq – When Ahmed Khalil ran out of work as a van driver in the Iraqi city of Mosul three years ago, he signed up with the Islamic State group’s police force, believing the salary would help keep his struggling family afloat.
But what he wound up providing was a legacy that would outlast his job, and his life.
In Mosul and elsewhere across Iraq, thousands of families — including Khalil’s widow and children — face crushing discrimination because their male relatives were seen as affiliated with or supporting IS when the extremists held large swaths of the country.
The wives, widows and children have been disowned by their relatives and abandoned by the state. Registrars refuse to register births to women with suspected IS husbands, and schools will not enroll their children. Mothers are turned away from welfare, and mukhtars — community mayors — won’t let the families move into their neighborhoods.
The Islamic State group’s “caliphate” that once spanned a third of both Iraq and Syria is now gone but as Iraq struggles to rebuilt after the militants’ final defeat and loss of their last sliver of territory in Syria earlier this year, the atrocities and the devastation they wreaked has left deep scars.
“They say my father was Daesh,” said Safa Ahmed, Khalil’s 11-year old daughter, referring to IS by its Arabic name. “It hurts me.”
Iraq has done little to probe the actions of the tens of thousands of men such as Khalil who, willingly or by force joined, worked and possibly fought for IS during its 2013-2017 rule. Instead, bureaucrats and communities punish families for the deeds of their relatives in a time of war.
Khalil was killed in an airstrike in Mosul, in February 2017, during the U.S.-backed campaign to retake the city that IS seized in 2014. It was liberated in July 2017, at a tremendous cost — around 10,000 residents were believed to have been killed in the assault, and its historic districts now lie in ruins.
His widow, Um Yusuf, and their seven children were left to bear the stigma of his IS affiliation. She cannot get social assistance, and her teenage son Omar is being turned away from jobs.
They live in an abandoned schoolhouse, living on what they can make selling bread on the streets of the devastated city. Just three of the children are in school — the oldest two dropped out because of bullying about their father, and the youngest two cannot enroll because the civil registrar’s office won’t issue their IDs.
“It’s true their father made a mistake,” Um Yusuf said. “But why are these children being punished for his sin?”
Under Iraq’s patrimonial family laws, a child needs a named father to receive a birth certificate and an identity card, to enroll in school and to claim citizenship, welfare benefits and an inheritance.
But in post-IS Iraq, virtually every bureaucratic procedure now includes a security check on a woman’s male relatives, further frustrating mothers and children.
A U.N. report this year estimates there are 45,000 undocumented children in Iraq. Judges and human rights groups say an urgent resolution is needed or the country risks rearing a generation of children without papers or schooling.
“By punishing entire families, you marginalize them and you seriously undermine reconciliation efforts in Iraq,” said Tom Peyre-Costa, a spokesman for the Norwegian Refugee Council, which provides legal aid to Mosul mothers struggling to get their children ID papers.
At al-Iraqiya school in western Mosul, one of the city’s first to reopen in 2017, principal Khalid Mohammad said he faces pressure from the community to deny enrollment to children whose fathers are in jail or missing — an absence many interpret as proof of IS affiliation.
“If anyone complains and someone is sent to investigate, I could lose my job,” he said.
At a legal office and clinic supported by the Norwegian Refugee Council, Nour Ahmed was looking for a way to claim legal custody of her undocumented younger son, in order to collect food and fuel aid for the family.
Her husband, she said, was abducted two years ago in Mosul by a group of pro-government militiamen who likely thought he was an IS member. Ahmed insists he wasn’t. He has been missing to this day.
Born in 2016 at a hospital run by IS, their son was given a birth certificate notarized by the Islamic State group. As Iraq doesn’t recognize IS documents, the 3-year-old has no legal mother or father.
Ahmed was told she would need to find her husband to re-register her son’s birth. If she submitted a missing person’s report, it would raise questions about the child’s parentage, jeopardizing his right to citizenship.
“I just want to find him,” said Nour.
Adnan Chalabi, an appeals court judge, said he sees more than a dozen cases each day related to civilian documentation, brought largely by the wives, widows or divorcees of IS suspects. There is little he can do to help, he said, without a change to the law first.
“Daesh held the city for three years. Did people stop getting married, divorced, and having children during those three years?” he said. “We need a legislative solution.”
There is little appetite to change the country’s family and patrimony laws, said Iraq’s parliament speaker, Mohamad Halbousi, though there is a proposal to open civil registries for a limited period, to register undocumented children.
“These families need to be cared for. They cannot be left to melt away into society,” he said.
Outside a mosque in Mosul, where Um Yusuf was selling bread with her children, the widowed mother of seven said she was losing the strength to look after her family.
“We are deprived of everything,” she says. “The whole family is destroyed.”
Source: Fox News World
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week expands a diplomatic charm offensive that has included meetings with leaders from China, South Korea and the United States. Some key moments:
Jan. 1, 2018: In his New Year’s address, Kim calls for improved relations with South Korea and offers to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics there.
February 2018: North Korea sends hundreds of people to Pyeongchang Games in South Korea, including Kim’s sister, who conveys her brother’s desire for a summit with President Moon Jae-in.
March 7, 2018: After visiting Kim in Pyongyang, South Korean presidential envoy Chung Eui-yong says Kim is willing to discuss the fate of his nuclear arsenal with the United States. Days later, President Donald Trump accepts Kim’s invitation to meet following a conversation with Moon’s envoys.
March 27, 2018: Kim makes a surprise visit to Beijing for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in an apparent move to strengthen his leverage ahead of his negotiations with Trump.
April 21, 2018: North Korea says it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and announces plans to close its nuclear test site as part of a move to shift its national focus and improve its economy. Trump tweets: “This is very good news for North Korea and the World” and “big progress!”
April 27, 2018: Kim holds a summit with Moon. The leaders announce vague aspirational goals of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and permanent peace.
May 7, 2018: Kim meets Xi again in China and calls for stronger strategic cooperation between the traditional allies.
May 9, 2018: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Pyongyang to prepare for the planned Trump-Kim summit. North Korea releases three Americans who had been imprisoned, and they return with Pompeo to the United States.
May 24, 2018: North Korean diplomat Choe Son Hui releases a statement referring to Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy” for his critical comments on the North and saying it was up to the Americans whether they would “meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.” Trump announces he’s pulling out of his summit with Kim, citing the North’s “tremendous anger and open hostility.”
May 26, 2018: Kim and Moon meet at a border village in an effort to revive the summit with Trump. Moon says Kim reaffirmed his commitment to denuclearize but also said he was unsure whether he could trust the United States to provide a credible security guarantee in return.
June 1, 2018: After meeting North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol at the White House, Trump says his meeting with Kim Jong Un is back on for June 12.
June 12, 2018: Trump and Kim meet in Singapore, where they repeat the first inter-Korean summit’s vague statement on the peninsula’s denuclearization without describing when and how it will occur.
June 19, 2018: Kim visits Beijing for his third meeting with Xi, who praises the “positive outcome” of the Trump-Kim meeting.
Aug. 24, 2018: Trump cancels a scheduled trip to North Korea by Pompeo citing lack of “sufficient progress” on denuclearization.
Sept. 19, 2018: Kim and Moon hold their third summit in Pyongyang and the North says it’s willing to permanently dismantle its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon if the United States takes unspecified corresponding measures. The Koreas also vow to resume joint economic activities when possible, voicing optimism that international sanctions could end and allow such projects.
Jan. 1, 2019: Kim in his New Year’s speech says he hopes to continue his nuclear summitry with Trump, but also that he would seek a “new way” if the United States persists with sanctions and pressure against the North.
Jan. 8, 2019: Kim visits Beijing for his fourth summit with Xi, vows to “achieve results” on the nuclear standoff in his next summit with Trump.
Feb. 8, 2019: Trump announces the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, as the venue of his second summit with Kim.
Feb. 27-28, 2019: Trump and Kim’s second summit breaks down over what the Americans describe as excessive North Korean demands for sanctions relief in exchange for partial disarmament steps limited to the Yongbyon complex.
April 13, 2019: Kim says he is open to a third summit with Trump, but sets the year’s end as a deadline for Washington to offer mutually acceptable terms for an agreement.
April 23, 2019: North Korea says Kim will soon visit Russia to meet with Putin.
Source: Fox News World
MINNEAPOLIS – Prosecutors in the case of a Minneapolis police officer who shot an unarmed woman have been hammering away at what could be a key element of Mohamed Noor’s defense — that he heard a loud slap against his police SUV that stirred fears of an ambush.
The prosecution has tried to raise doubts about whether that slap occurred and attacked officers and investigators for apparent missteps, noting that police at the scene turned body cameras on and off at will, did not share information and possibly disturbed evidence, according to court testimony.
Noor, 33, is on trial for murder and manslaughter in the July 15, 2017, death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia who reported a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home. She was shot after she approached the vehicle.
One point of contention is whether Damond slapped the SUV, causing a thump that Noor’s partner, officer Matthew Harrity, testified scared him so much that he drew his weapon. Defense attorneys for Noor have said he also heard a loud bang on the squad car, but prosecutors have suggested the slap was concocted. They insist the officers faced no threat.
Harrity testified that he did not tell anyone about the thump on the night of the shooting. The first time he spoke about a noise was three days later, when he sat down for an interview with his attorney and state investigators. But somehow, the notion that Damond slapped the car made its way into a search warrant affidavit hours after the shooting.
“There was a conspicuous absence of information,” Chris Olson, assistant agent in charge of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified this week.
As he was trying to figure out what happened, Olson said, the scene’s incident commander, Minneapolis police Sgt. Shannon Barnette, told him she had a brief conversation with Harrity, and that it sounded like Damond had made contact with the car. Olson gave contradictory testimony about whether he or Barnette first suggested that Damond slapped the car, and how that information was passed on to another BCA investigator who crafted the search warrant.
Bradford Colbert, a law professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, said that under law, Noor had a right to use deadly force to protect himself or others. For prosecutors, Colbert said, the preferred narrative would be that Damond was shot after merely appearing at the window. For the defense, it would be better if Damond slapped the car, creating the loud, startling noise.
“I can see why the state would be arguing or trying to convey that there was no slap,” he said.
Jennifer Kostroski, a BCA latent print examiner, testified there was no forensic evidence to show Damond touched the squad car. But under questioning from the defense, she said knuckles or a backhand slap would not leave prints.
Other witnesses said the squad car was partially dusted for fingerprints — but not entirely — then sent to be washed just hours after the shooting.
“They certainly could’ve handled it better,” said Marsh Halberg, a Minneapolis defense attorney who is not connected to the case. He stopped short of saying investigators made mistakes, but said, “in hindsight, I think everyone could agree things could’ve been done more smoothly, more thoroughly, more independently.”
Representatives of the Minneapolis Police Department and the state BCA said they could not comment.
The trial has revealed other apparent missteps by investigators. Some Minneapolis police officers turned their body cameras on and off, so it’s possible that key statements went undocumented. One officer was not told that Noor fired from inside the vehicle, so he entered the car and possibly disturbed evidence. Another investigator was concerned that Damond had been covered by a sheet, again possibly disturbing evidence.
And, one witness testified, state investigators did not follow up on information about the original 911 call made by Damond, so prosecutors conducted their own investigation. Some officers on the scene did not initially know they were dealing with a police shooting — though body camera video shows Harrity and Noor reported that to the first responding officers.
Barnette testified last week that she did not speak with Noor about the shooting that night, acknowledging on the witness stand that if she had, he might have provided different information than his partner.
Colbert said it’s possible the state is raising these issues in an attempt to show that “everybody knew this went down wrong,” and police responded by going into cover-up mode.
“If it was just simply an accident, you wouldn’t go to those lengths. That seems to me to be the state’s strategy,” Colbert said, adding that prosecutors seem be trying to show that police “knew from the get-go that this is wrong, and they are just trying to cover their tracks.”
Check out the AP’s complete coverage of Mohamed Noor’s trial.
Source: Fox News National
LOS ANGELES – Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten is getting another chance at getting out of prison following a years-long saga that has seen a board recommend her parole three separate times.
Van Houten’s case is being heard before California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal, which will consider whether to overturn a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge’s ruling denying parole for Van Houten last year.
Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, will argue that his 69-year-old client deserves to be released because she’s a changed woman, takes responsibility for her actions and has been a model inmate for more than four decades. Prosecutors will continue to vigorously fight Van Houten’s release because of the seriousness of the crimes.
Van Houten was 19 when she and fellow cult members stabbed Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary to death in 1969. The killings took place a day after other so-called Manson family members murdered actress Sharon Tate and four others in crimes that shocked the world.
Van Houten, who is serving life in prison, was only involved in the LaBianca killings. She is not expected to be at Wednesday’s hearing.
Every year since 2016, a parole board has recommended that Van Houten deserves to be released, finding that she’s no longer a threat to society. Former Gov. Jerry Brown twice blocked Van Houten’s release, saying she had failed to explain how she transformed from an upstanding teen to a killer and that she laid too much of the blame on Manson.
The parole board’s most recent decision on Jan. 30 is undergoing a five-month review process before heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal’s three-judge panel could decide the case following Wednesday’s arguments, potentially rendering any decision by Newsom unnecessary, or the judges could decide that the case belongs in the governor’s hands.
Pfeiffer said he has never been so optimistic that Van Houten will win.
“This has been the best anything has ever looked since I’ve been on the case,” he said. “This is probably the best way out.”
But courts can be reluctant to interfere in matters of parole, said Samuel Pillsbury, a criminal law professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
“It is highly emotional,” Pillsbury said. “The voters have decided the governor should have a veto on this so the courts would prefer to let this process play out.”
If the decision comes down to the governor, Pillsbury said Van Houten has an uphill battle because of the infamy of the Manson murders.
“The Manson case is one of a kind,” he said. “There’s no other case like it in terms of the number of people in California who feel strongly about it, who’ve lived through it. The entire state and much of the nation still feel some degree of trauma from that, and it makes it a very different kind of case from an elected official’s point of view.”
In denying Van Houten parole last year, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan found that she would “pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society,” citing the brutal nature of the crimes.
During one of her parole hearings, Van Houten said the murders were the start of what Manson believed was a coming race war that he dubbed “Helter Skelter,” after a Beatles song, and that he had the group prepare to fight and learn to can food so they could go underground and live in a hole in the desert.
Van Houten said she was traveling up and down the California coast when acquaintances led her to Manson. She candidly described how she joined several other members of the group in killing the LaBiancas, carving up Leno LaBianca’s body and smearing the couple’s blood on the walls.
Manson died of natural causes in 2017 at a California hospital while serving a life sentence.
Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP
Source: Fox News National
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – The Latest on the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka (all times local):
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she hasn’t received any official advice from Sri Lanka or seen any intelligence reports to corroborate claims from Sri Lanka’s government that the Easter attacks were in retaliation for the mosque massacres in Christchurch last month.
Ardern told reporters in Auckland that Sri Lanka is in the early stages of its investigation, and that New Zealand plans to stand back and allow it to proceed. She said she hadn’t been in direct contact with Sri Lanka, although officials from the two countries were in contact.
Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene said earlier the government had evidence the bombings were carried out by an Islamic fundamentalist group in retaliation for the March 15 mosque shootings in Christchurch that killed 50 people.
The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka says the FBI is on the ground in the country to help assist its investigation into the Easter suicide bombings that killed 359 people.
The embassy said it was part of the support extended by President Trump.
The embassy in Colombo declined to immediately elaborate.
Police say the death toll in the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 359 and more suspects have been arrested.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara also said Wednesday morning that 18 suspects were arrested overnight, raising the total detained to 58.
The prime minister warned on Tuesday that several suspects armed with explosives were still at large.
Another top government official said the suicide bombings at the churches, hotels and other sites were carried out by Islamic fundamentalists in apparent retaliation for the New Zealand mosque massacre last month.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks and released images that purported to show the attackers. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that investigators were still determining the extent of the bombers’ foreign links.
Source: Fox News World
SAN FRANCISCO – The Latest on a proposed homeless shelter in San Francisco’s Embarcadero (all times local):
San Francisco port commissioners have approved a proposal to put a temporary homeless shelter along the Embarcadero.
Tuesday night’s unanimous vote authorizes the port to lease a parking lot to the city for two years to house a 200-bed shelter. The new center would be part of Mayor London Breed’s pledge to open 1,000 new shelter beds by 2020.
San Francisco is dealing with a housing shortage even as rental and housing costs soar with an influx of wealthy tech workers.
The waterfront area is a big draw for tourists and is densely populated, with high-priced condos as well as apartments housing thousands of families.
Opponents have heatedly argued that a shelter would be a health and crime hazard. Supporters call the critics heartless.
A neighborhood opposition group calls the vote illegal and says it’s considering legal action.
San Francisco port commissioners are deciding whether to approve a new homeless shelter along the city’s touristy and residential Embarcadero.
Angry waterfront residents have packed meetings opposing the shelter that could house up to 200 people. They even shouted down Mayor London Breed, who proposed the shelter, and have vowed to sue if it’s approved.
Supporters say the homeless need a safe place to sleep and that the city is in crisis.
The Port of San Francisco owns the land for the proposed shelter site. Staff are recommending commissioners approve an initial two-year lease with the city’s homelessness department in a vote Tuesday.
The idyllic site has sparked an intense debate among residents, with both sides raising hundreds of thousands of dollars online in campaigns for and against the shelter.
Source: Fox News National