Queen Elizabeth II turns 91
Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she attends an event at Newbury Racecourse in
Newbury England, Friday April 21, 2017. The Queen celebrated her 91st
birthday on Friday. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)
London (AP) – Britain
marked Queen Elizabeth II’s 91st birthday on Friday with gun salutes, as the
monarch herself enjoyed a family day and a trip to the races
The queen, who owns and breeds racehorses, was spotted smiling broadly and
chatting animatedly Friday with jockeys and staff at Newbury Racecourse, not
far from her Windsor Castle home.
She visited the racecourse with daughter Princess Anne and sat in the royal
box to watch her thoroughbred Maths Prize run; it finished fifth.
There were also official celebrations in London, where a troop of the Royal
Horse Artillery rode horse-and-gun carriages past Buckingham Palace before
staging a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park at noon.
Outside the palace, a band of guardsmen
in scarlet tunics and bearskin hats played “Happy Birthday” during the
Changing of the Guard ceremony.
And at the centuries-old Tower of London, there was a second salute with 62
The queen is Britain’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch, having become
queen on Feb. 6, 1952. She is also the world’s longest-reigning living
monarch since the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej last year.
Elizabeth also has an official birthday, marked in June – when the British
weather is better – with the “Trooping the Color” military parade.
Trump to sign order aimed at expanding offshore drilling
Donald Trump.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
Matthew Day & Jill Colvin,
WASHINGTON (AP) — Working to dismantle his predecessor's
environmental legacy, President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive
order Friday that could lead to the expansion of drilling in the Arctic and
With one day left to rack up accomplishments before he reaches his 100th day
in office, Trump will order his interior secretary to review an Obama-era
plan that dictates which locations are open to offshore drilling, with the
goal of the new administration to expand operations.
It's part of Trump's promise to unleash the nation's energy reserves in an
effort to reduce reliance on foreign oil and to spur jobs, regardless of
fierce opposition from environmental activists, who say offshore drilling
harms whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbates global warming.
"This order will cement our nation's position as a global energy leader and
foster energy security for the benefit of American people, without removing
any of the stringent environmental safeguards that are currently in place,"
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters at a White House briefing
Zinke said the order, combined with other steps Trump has taken during his
first months in office, "puts us on track for American energy independence."
The executive order will reverse part of a December effort by President
Barack Obama to deem the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and
certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas
It will also direct Zinke to conduct a review of the locations available for
offshore drilling under a five-year plan signed by Obama in November. The
plan blocked new oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It
also blocked the planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the
Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska, but allowed drilling to go
forward in Alaska's Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage.
The order could open to oil and gas exploration areas off Virginia and North
and South Carolina, where drilling has been blocked for decades.
Zinke said that leases scheduled under the existing plan will remain in
effect during the review, which he estimated will take several years.
The order will also direct Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to conduct a
review of marine monuments and sanctuaries designated over the last 10
Citing his department's data, Zinke said the Interior Department oversees
some 1.7 billion acres on the outer continental shelf, which contains an
estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 327 trillion cubic feet
of undiscovered natural gas. Under current restrictions, about 94 percent of
that outer continental shelf is off-limits to drilling.
Zinke, who will also be tasked with reviewing other drilling restrictions,
acknowledged environmental concerns as "valid," but he argued that the
benefits of drilling outweigh concerns.
Environmental activists, meanwhile, railed against the expected signing,
which comes seven years after the devastating 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf
Diana Best of Greenpeace said that opening new areas to offshore oil and gas
drilling would lock the U.S. "into decades of harmful pollution, devastating
spills like the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, and a fossil fuel economy with no
"Scientific consensus is that the vast majority of known fossil fuel
reserves - including the oil and gas off U.S. coasts- must remain
undeveloped if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change," she
Jacqueline Savitz of the ocean advocacy group ocean advocacy group Oceana
warned the order would lead to "corner-cutting and set us up for another
havoc-wreaking environmental disaster" in places like the Outer Banks or in
remote Barrow, Alaska, "where there's no proven way to remove oil from sea
"We need smart, tough standards to ensure that energy companies are not
operating out of control," she said, adding: "In their absence, America's
future promises more oil spills and industrialized coastlines."
Follow Matthew Daly and Jill Colvin on Twitter at
http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC and https://twitter.com/colvinj
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Mother of Hawaii boy missing for 20 years released from jail
6, 2016 file photo taken in Honolulu shows a bumper sticker Hawaii officials
distributed in a campaign for a Hawaii boy who disappeared 20 years ago. (AP
Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, File)
HONOLULU (AP) — The parents of a Hawaii six-year-old boy who
disappeared 20 years ago had long been suspects, but without a body, there
never has been any concrete confirmation that the child known as "Peter Boy"
was dead until his mother pleaded guilty to manslaughter last year and
agreed to testify against her husband.
The boy hasn't been found, but authorities now know where his father says he
dumped his remains. That development was spurred by Jaylin Kema accepting a
deal to plead guilty to manslaughter, agreeing in court to facts a
prosecutor laid out about abuse suffered by the boy, her failure to get him
medical treatment and his eventual death.
Her plea deal called for a one-year jail sentence, with credit for time
A judge granted her supervised release on Thursday, the day that marked one
year of incarceration. She was allowed to leave the Hawaii Community
Correctional Center soon after returning from a court hearing, said state
Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz.
When she pleaded guilty, she agreed to waive her marital privilege and
testify against her husband, Peter Kema Sr. But instead of going to trial,
he pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this month in a deal with
prosecutors requiring him to reveal where Peter Boy's remains are in
exchange for a 20-year prison sentence.
On Sunday, while shackled and accompanied by his defense attorney, he rode
in a van with police and prosecutors and guided them to a site in the Big
Island's rural Puna district where he says he disposed of the remains, said
Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth, who declined to disclose
specifics about the location.
Police will need help from outside agencies to try to find the remains, Roth
Roth and police accompanied Peter Boy's siblings, grandfather and an aunt to
the site Wednesday, where the family said prayers, lit a candle and carried
a lei for Peter Boy.
On the drive there it suddenly rained, Roth recalled after the outing. "We
talked about it being tears from heaven. It was like Peter Boy crying,
'they're finally coming for me,'" Roth said. "When we got to the scene, not
a drop of rain. The sun came out."
Family members collected some soil from the area, Roth said.
After Peter Boy vanished in 1997, he became the face of a Hawaii campaign
for missing and abused children in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Posters
and bumper stickers asked, "So where's Peter?"
Prosecutors believe the boy died of septic shock from not getting medical
care for an arm injury.
Despite having health insurance, his mother did not get her son medical
treatment and did not report the abuse because she was afraid of her
husband, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rick Damerville said after her plea
She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13. Her plea agreement calls for 10
years of probation and the year she has already served in jail. Her release
before sentencing is contingent on her undergoing drug testing, not leaving
the Big Island and having no contact with her children, Damerville said.
She plans to return to the Puna home where she lived when she was arrested
on welfare fraud charges, said her court-appointed attorney, Brian De Lima.
The Kemas were separated at the time, he said.
Keeping them apart during their incarceration was key to the case because
prosecuting them without a body would be difficult, Roth said.
Peter Kema had long ago told authorities that he took his son from the Big
Island to Oahu and gave him to someone named "Aunty Rose Makuakane" in an
informal adoption. Police could not find a woman as described by Kema or
airline records that indicated he had flown there.
If Peter Boy's remains can't be recovered, Kema must pass a polygraph test.
Roth said it seems like Kema is being truthful about the location. "However,
they lied for 20 years, so I'm cautiously optimistic," he said.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Mississippi man sues R. Kelly, says singer ruined marriage
In this Nov.
6, 2015, file photo, R. Kelly performs during the 2015 Soul Train Awards at
the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Al Powers/ Powers
Jeff Amy, Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi sheriff's deputy is suing
singer R. Kelly, alleging that Kelly had a yearslong affair with his wife
that broke up his marriage.
Deputy Kenneth Bryant, who married Asia Childress in Mississippi in 2012,
filed suit last week in a county circuit court in Jackson, the state
capital. He's seeking unspecified damages. Bryant's lawsuit includes images
of texts he says Childress and Kelly exchanged.
Representatives of the rhythm and blues crooner, whose full name is Robert
Sylvester Kelly, didn't immediately return requests for comment Thursday.
Kelly hasn't yet responded to the suit.
Anna Powers, a lawyer for Bryant, said Kelly was served with the suit
Saturday when he performed in Jackson. Powers said Bryant, before marrying
Childress, knew she previously had a relationship with Kelly.
"That was water under the bridge, over and done," Powers said. "Our client
loved his wife, wanted to work out his relationship."
But the lawsuit says Childress reconnected with Kelly after attending one of
his concerts in October 2012, leading to multiple liaisons over more than
At one point in their marriage, according to Bryant, Childress persuaded him
to move to the Atlanta area, claiming it would improve her career. Bryant
said he sacrificed a good job but that his wife really wanted to be closer
to Kelly to pursue the affair. Kelly, 50, once lived in Atlanta part-time.
"Each time R. Kelly would have a concert in a nearby state, Childress would
disappear to unite with her lover," the lawsuit states. "Time after time, R.
Kelly cuckolded Bryant, with blatant disregard for Bryant's and Childress'
Powers said that Childress has asked for a divorce, but none has been filed.
Childress is a licensed public school teacher in Mississippi, but it's
unclear where she now lives and she could not be reached for comment.
Mississippi is one of only a handful of states that allow spouses to sue
others for breaking up their marriages in what are called alienation of
affection lawsuits. The others are Hawaii, North Carolina, South Dakota and
"R Kelly's wanton and reckless interference with plaintiff's marriage
relationship, his blatant disregard for family values, and his un-condoned
and unrelenting adulterous relationship with plaintiff's wife was
accompanied by R. Kelly's enticement of Childress to ignore her marriage,"
the suit states.
Kelly is currently touring to promote his albums "The Buffet," his 16th solo
or collaborative release since 1992. His hits include "I Believe I Can Fly,"
''Bump N' Grind" and "Ignition." Kelly's shows and lyrics often focus on sex
and infidelity — such as his Trapped in the Closet series, dealing with a
web of sexual deceit.
The Grammy winner has in the past denied allegations he had sexual
relationships with underage girls, although he has settled a number of
lawsuits. In 2008, a Chicago jury acquitted Kelly of child pornography
charges after he was accused of having sex with an underage girl and
Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy . Read his work at
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten or redistributed.
Taliban announce start of spring offensive
ISLAMABAD (AP) —
Afghanistan's Taliban have announced the start of a spring offensive,
promising to build their political base in the country while focusing
military assaults on coalition and Afghan security forces.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced the launch of the offensive
Friday in an email statement.
The Taliban dubbed this year's offensive "Operation Mansour," named for the
Taliban leader killed last year in a U.S. drone strike.
While they may be officially announcing their spring offensive, recent
attacks including one earlier this week on an army base in northern
Afghanistan that killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers would seem to warn of
a tough fighting season ahead.
As well as the Taliban, Afghanistan is also battling an emerging local
Islamic State affiliate known as Islamic State in Khorasan.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
US: North Korean test missile explodes on launch
A visitor walks by a TV showing file footage of a North Korea's ballistic missile launch, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, April 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Foster Klug & Hyung-Jin Kim, Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) —
A North Korean missile exploded during launch Sunday, U.S. and South Korean
officials said, a high-profile failure that comes as a powerful U.S.
aircraft supercarrier approaches the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.
It wasn't immediately clear what kind
of missile was test-fired from the east coast city of Sinpo. But the failure
will sting in Pyongyang because it comes a day after one of the biggest
North Korean propaganda events of the year— celebrations of the 105th
birthday of late North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader's
The North's test firing can be seen as
a message of defiance to the Trump administration in Washington, coming as
it does on the day U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is set to arrive in Seoul
for talks on North Korea.
President Donald Trump was
uncharacteristically quiet about the failed launch. In a statement, Defense
Secretary Jim Mattis said Trump and his military team "are aware of North
Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no
Washington and Seoul will try hard to
figure out what exactly North Korea fired. This matters because while North
Korea regularly launches short-range missiles, it is also developing
mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target U.S. troops in Asia and,
eventually, the U.S. mainland.
The ultimate goal is to have a full
array of nuclear-tipped missiles in response to what Pyongyang says is
hostility by Washington and Seoul meant to topple its government. North
Korea is thought to have a small arsenal of atomic bombs and an impressive
array of short- and medium-range missiles.
Many outside analysts believe that
North Korea has not yet mastered the technology to build warheads small
enough to place on long-range missiles, though some civilian experts say
North Korea can already build nuclear-tipped shorter range missiles that
have South Korea and Japan within its striking range.
The U.S. Pacific Command said in a
statement that Sunday's missile exploded on launch. South Korea's Defense
Ministry said it was analyzing exactly how the North Korean launch failed.
Neither military knew what kind of missile was fired.
In Seoul, South Korea's presidential
office convened a national security council meeting to examine security
Always high animosity has risen on the
Korean Peninsula in recent months, as the United States and South Korea
conduct annual war games that North Korea claims are invasion preparation
and the North prepared for Saturday's anniversary celebrations. A U.S.
aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, is heading to waters off Korea in a
show of force.
Analysts warn that even failed missile
launches provide valuable knowledge to North Korea as it tries to build its
weapons program. The country launched a long-range rocket and conducted two
nuclear tests last year, including its most powerful to date.
Aside from improving the technology,
North Korean missile and nuclear tests are seen by outside analysts partly
as efforts to bolster the domestic image of leader Kim Jong Un and apply
political pressure on Seoul and Washington.
Kim Jong Un has overseen three nuclear
tests and a string of missile and rocket launches since taking over after
the death of his father, dictator Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.
Another missile test from Sinpo failed
earlier this month, when the rocket spun out of control and plunged into the
ocean. That launch came shortly before Trump's first meeting with Chinese
leader Xi Jinping. China is North Korea's only major ally.
The extended-range Scud missile in that
earlier launch suffered an in-flight failure and fell into the sea off North
Korea's east coast, according to U.S. imagery and assessments.
Despite Sunday's failure, the North's
previous claim to have used "standardized" warheads has led to worries that
it was making headway in its push to develop small and sophisticated
warheads to be topped on long-range missiles.
Washington sees North Korea's pursuit
of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles as a threat to world security and
to its Asian allies, Japan and South Korea. The United States, South Korea
and other countries have vowed to apply more pressure on the North, but so
far nothing has worked to stop Pyongyang's nuclear program.
Six-nation negotiations on dismantling
North Korea's nuclear program in exchange for aid fell apart in early 2009.
Clifton James, sheriff in 2 James Bond films, dies at 96
This undated photo provided by Lynn James on Saturday, April 15, 2017 shows Clifton James. (Lynn James via AP)
Keith Ridler, Associated Press
Clifton James, best known for his
indelible portrayal of a southern sheriff in two James Bond films but who
was most proud of his work on the stage, has died. He was 96.
His daughter, Lynn James, said he died
Saturday at another daughter's home in Gladstone, Oregon, due to
complications from diabetes.
"He was the most outgoing person,
beloved by everybody," Lynn James said. "I don't think the man had an enemy.
We were incredibly blessed to have had him in our lives."
James often played a convincing
southerner but loved working on the stage in New York during the prime of
One of his first significant roles
playing a southerner was as a cigar-chomping, prison floor-walker in the
1967 classic "Cool Hand Luke."
His long list of roles also includes
swaggering, tobacco-spitting Louisiana Sheriff J.W. Pepper in the Bond
His portrayal of the redneck sheriff in
"Live and Let Die" in 1973 more than held its own with sophisticated English
actor Roger Moore's portrayal of Bond.
James was such a hit that writers
carved a role for him in the next Bond film, "The Man with the Golden Gun,"
in 1974. James, this time playing the same sheriff on vacation in Thailand
and the epitome of the ugly American abroad, gets pushed into the water by a
"He wasn't supposed to actually go in,"
said his daughter. "They gave him sugar in his pocket to feed the elephant.
But he wasn't giving it to the elephant fast enough."
She said her father met with real
southern sheriffs to prepare for his role as Pepper. Of his hundreds of
roles, it was the Louisiana sheriff that people most often recognized and
approached him about.
His daughter noted that her father
sometimes said actors get remembered for one particular role out of
"His is the sheriff's, but he said he
would have never picked that one," she said.
George Clifton James was born May 29,
1920, in Spokane, Washington, the oldest of five siblings and the only boy.
The family lost all its money at the start of the Great Depression and moved
to Gladstone, just outside Portland, Oregon, where James' maternal
In the 1930s, James got work with the
Civilian Conservation Corps and then entered World War II in 1942 as a
soldier with the U.S. Army in the South Pacific, receiving two Purple
Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star.
Lynn James said one of the Purple
Hearts came when a bullet pierced his helmet and zipped around the inside to
come out and split his nose. The second Purple Heart, she said, came from
shrapnel that knocked out many of his teeth.
She said her father rarely spoke about
the war and never described events leading to his receiving the Silver Star.
"He lost too many friends," she said.
After the war, James took classes at
the University of Oregon and acted in plays. Inspired, he moved to New York
and launched his acting career.
Later in life, he spent the fall and
spring of each year in New York. In the winter, he lived in a condo in
Delray Beach, Florida. During the summer he lived in Oregon.
James' wife, Laurie, died in 2015. He
is survived by two sisters, five children, 14 grandchildren and four great
Lynn James said a celebration of her
father's life will be held in Gladstone in August, but there are no other
plans so far. She said some of his ashes will likely be spread in the
Clackamas River in Oregon, in which he swam as a boy, and in New York
Harbor, where some of his wife's ashes were spread.
Over 100 killed during Syria's troubled population transfer
This frame grab from video provided by the Thiqa News Agency, shows rebel gunmen at the site of a blast that damaged several buses and vans at the Rashideen area, a rebel-controlled district outside Aleppo city, Syria, Saturday, April. 15, 2017. (Thiqa News via AP)
Sarah El Deeb & Philip Issa, Associated Press
BEIRUT (AP) — A stalled population transfer resumed Saturday
after a deadly explosion killed at least 100, including children, government
supporters and opposition fighters, at an evacuation point — adding new
urgency to the widely criticized operation.
The blast ripped through a bus depot in
the al-Rashideen area where thousands of government loyalists evacuated the
day before waited restlessly for hours, as opposition fighters guarded the
area while negotiators bickered over the completion of the transfer deal.
Only meters away, hundreds of evacuees from pro-rebels areas also loitered
in a walled-off parking lot, guarded by government troops.
Footage from the scene showed bodies,
including those of fighters, lying alongside buses, some of which were
charred and others gutted from the blast. Personal belongings could be seen
dangling out of the windows. Fires raged from a number of vehicles as
rescuers struggled to put them out.
The scenes were the last in the
unyielding bloodshed Syrians are living through. Earlier this month, at
least 89 people were killed in a chemical attack as children foaming at the
mouth and adults gasping for last breath were also caught on camera.
The bloody mayhem that followed the
Saturday attack only deepened the resentment of the transfer criticized as
population engineering. It also reflected the chaos surrounding negotiations
between the warring parties. The United Nations did not oversee the transfer
deal of the villages of Foua and Kfraya, besieged by the rebels, and Madaya
and Zabadani, encircled by the government.
No one claimed responsibility for the
attack but pro-government media and the opposition exchanged accusations,
each pointing to foreign interference or conspiracies undermining the deal.
State TV al-Ikhbariya said the attack
was the result of a car bomb carrying food aid to be delivered to the
evacuees in the rebel-held area — ostensibly crisps for the children — and
accused rebel groups of carrying it out. A TV broadcaster from the area
said: "There can be no life with the terrorist groups."
"I know nothing of my family. I can't
find them," said a woman who appeared on al-Ikhbariya, weeping outside the
state hospital in Aleppo where the wounded were transported.
Ahrar al-Sham, the rebel group that
negotiated the deal, denounced the "cowardly" attack, saying a number of
opposition fighters as well as government supporters were killed in the
attack. The group said the attack only serves to deflect the attention from
government "crimes" and said it was ready to cooperate with an international
probe to determine who did it.
Yasser Abdelatif, a media official for
Ahrar al-Sham, said about 30 rebel gunmen were killed in the blast. He
accused the government or extremist rebel groups of orchestrating the attack
to discredit the opposition.
The Syrian Civil Defense in Aleppo
province, also known as the White Helmets, said their volunteers pulled at
least 100 bodies from the site of the explosion. White Helmets member
Ibrahim Alhaj said the 100 fatalities documented by the rescuers included
many children and women, as well as fighters.
Syrian state media said at least 39
were killed, including children. The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights put the death toll at 43, adding that it would likely rise because of
the extensive damage. A Facebook page belonging to the pro-government Foua
and Kfraya villages said all those in three buses were killed or are still
missing while a rebel official said at least 30 opposition fighters who were
guarding the evacuees were killed in the blast.
According to Abdul Hakim Baghdadi, an
interlocutor who helped the government negotiate the evacuations, 140 were
killed in the attack. He added it was not clear how many rebels were killed
because they were evacuated to their areas.
Hours after the explosion, the transfer
resumed — as dozens of buses, starting with the wounded, left to their
respective destinations. Before midnight Saturday, 100 of some 120 buses
from both sides had already arrived.
The explosion hit the al-Rashideen
area, a rebel-controlled district outside Aleppo city where evacuation buses
carrying nearly 5,000 people from the northern rebel-besieged villages of
Foua and Kfraya were stuck. Residents from the two villages had been
evacuated Friday, along with more than 2,000 from Madaya, an opposition-held
town outside of Damascus besieged by government forces.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
condemned the attack Saturday in a statement from his spokesman Stephane
Dujarric, and called on all parties "to ensure the safety and security of
those waiting to be evacuated."
"Those responsible for today's attack
must be brought to justice," the statement added.
The coordinated evacuations delivered
war-weary fighters and residents from two years of siege and hunger, but
moved Syria closer to a division of its national population by loyalty and
Madaya and Zabadani, once summer
resorts to Damascus, have been shattered under the cruelty of a government
siege. The two towns rebelled against Damascus' authority in 2011 when
demonstrations swept through the country demanding the end of President
Bashar Assad's rule.
Residents were reduced to hunting
rodents and eating tree leaves. Photos of children gaunt with hunger shocked
the world and gave new urgency to U.N. relief operations in Syria.
Foua and Kfraya, besieged by the
rebels, lived under a steady hail of rockets and mortars. They were supplied
with food and medical supplies through military airdrops.
Critics say the string of evacuations,
which could see some 30,000 people moved across battle lines over the next
60 days, amounts to forced displacement along political and sectarian lines.
The explosion came as frustration was
already mounting over the stalling evacuation process.
"The situation is disastrous," said
Ahmed Afandar, a resident evacuated from the opposition area near Madaya.
"All these thousands of people are stuck in less than half a kilometer (500
yards)." He said the area was walled off from all sides and there were no
Afandar said people were not allowed to
leave the buses for a while before they were let out. Food was distributed
after several hours and by early afternoon the evacuees from rebel-held
areas were "pressured" to sit back on their buses, Afandar said.
The evacuees from Madaya headed to
rebel-held Idlib, west of Aleppo. After the blast, evacuees from opposition
areas pleaded for protection fearing revenge attacks.
Syrian state TV blamed the rebels for
obstructing the deal.
An opposition representative, Ali Diab,
accused the government side of violating the terms of the agreement, by
evacuating fewer armed men than agreed to from the pro-government areas.
Deals ensure cash keeps flowing to unsettled Prince estate
In this Feb. 18, 1985 file photo, Prince performs at the Forum in Inglewood, California. (AP Photo/Liu Heung Shing, File))
Steve Karonowski, Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A
year after Prince died of an accidental drug overdose, his Paisley Park
studio complex and home is now a museum and concert venue. Fans can now
stream most of his classic albums, and a remastered "Purple Rain" album is
due out in June along with two albums of unreleased music and two concert
films from his vault.
Prince left no known will and had
no known children when he died last April 21, and the judge overseeing
Prince's estate has yet to formally declare six of his siblings as its
heirs. However, those running the estate have taken steps to preserve his
musical legacy and keep the cash coming in. Here's a look at where things
The value of the music deals
hasn't been disclosed, and key financial information in voluminous court
filings is sealed.
Universal Music Group was a big
winner, reaching major deals that gave it the licensing rights to Prince's
vault of unreleased music and his independently recorded albums, publishing
rights and merchandising rights.
Under related deals, Prince's
music is now available from major streaming services including Spotify,
Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Music and iHeartRadio.
But a lawsuit remains pending
against Jay Z's Roc Nation and the Tidal streaming service over alleged
copyright violations. Tidal claims Prince gave it the exclusive right to
stream his albums, including his Warner Bros. catalog. Estate lawyers say he
gave Tidal limited rights to only one album, 2015's "Hit N Run: Phase 1."
Paisley Park, which is run by the
company that runs Elvis Presley's Graceland, opened for public tours in
October. Visitors can see the studios and soundstage where Prince worked and
pay their respects at the Paisley Park-shaped urn that holds his ashes. It
also hosts dance parties and movie and video showings on Friday and Saturday
Close to 100,000 people from
around the world have taken the tour, even though winter was expected to be
the slow season, said Joel Weinshanker, managing partner of PPark
Management, who has a similar role with Graceland. He wouldn't release
Weinshanker said he expects
several hundred thousand visitors in the first full year of operations,
which he said would make it the No. 2 museum dedicated to an entertainer
He said most of the money is going
toward preserving the building, which he said was in "grave disrepair" when
Prince died, and toward protecting its contents. He said the heating and
cooling system had to be replaced, some rooms where videos were stored had
recent water damage, and valuable custom-designed outfits were improperly
stored on wire hangers.
From April 20-23, Paisley Park
will mark the anniversary of Prince's death with Celebration 2017, which
will include concerts and other programming. Acts scheduled to appear
include The Revolution, Morris Day and the Time, New Power Generation, Liv
Warfield and Shelby J., with members of 3RDEYEGIRL, the band Prince was
nurturing when he died. Weinshanker said it will draw guests from 28
THE PROBATE CASE
Barring any surprises, six Prince
siblings will get equal shares of his estate, which court filings have
suggested is worth around $200 million. Federal and estate taxes are
expected to consume nearly half of that.
Judge Kevin Eide wrote last month
that he was "reasonably certain" he'll ultimately declare the heirs to be
Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson, and his half-siblings Sharon Nelson, Norrine
Nelson, John R. Nelson, Omarr Baker and Alfred Jackson.
After Prince died, more than 45
people filed claims purporting to be his wife, children, siblings or other
relatives. They've all been rejected, but Eide has said he'll wait for some
appeals to run their course before making a final ruling, which could take
several months or more. The six presumptive heirs have asked him to speed
things up. A hearing on that request is set for May 10.
With so much money at stake,
there's been some infighting. Court documents and testimony show that the
siblings disagreed over who should control the estate, eventually settling
on Comerica Bank & Trust as the executor.
The older half-siblings — Norrine,
Sharon, John and Alfred — also wanted a co-executor, former Prince attorney
L. Londell McMillan, who was a key figure in the deals for monetizing
Prince's entertainment assets.
But Tyka and Omarr opposed
McMillan, questioning his fitness to serve and accusing him of mismanaging a
family tribute concert last October. They wanted CNN commentator Van Jones,
who advised Prince on philanthropy. Citing the siblings' inability to agree,
the judge put Comerica in sole control.
McMillan continues to advise
Norrine, Sharon and John, though a recent filing indicates Jackson has
broken with him. Lawyers for Omarr and Tyka have subpoenaed a potentially
huge volume of documents from McMillan. The judge will consider a motion to
quash that subpoena at the May 10 hearing.
Sharon, meanwhile, claimed last
month that Comerica was being "dictatorial and bullish." Comerica denied any
disrespectful, abusive or hostile conduct, but said the heirs don't get to
vote on how it runs the estate.
Today in History - Friday, April 14,
Today is Good
Friday, April 14, the 104th day of 2017. There are 261 days left in the
Today's Highlight in History:
On April 14, 1865, President
Abraham Lincoln was shot and mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth during a
performance of "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater in Washington.
On this date:
In 1775, the first American
society for the abolition of slavery was formed in Philadelphia.
In 1828, the first edition of Noah
Webster's "American Dictionary of the English Language" was published.
In 1912, the British liner RMS
Titanic collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic at 11:40 p.m. ship's
time and began sinking. (The ship went under two hours and 40 minutes later
with the loss of 1,514 lives.)
In 1935, the "Black Sunday" dust
storm descended upon the central Plains, turning a sunny afternoon into
In 1939, the John Steinbeck novel
"The Grapes of Wrath" was first published by Viking Press.
In 1949, the "Wilhelmstrasse
Trial" in Nuremberg ended with 19 former Nazi Foreign Office officials
sentenced by an American tribunal to prison terms ranging from four to 25
In 1956, Ampex Corp. demonstrated
the first practical videotape recorder at the National Association of Radio
and Television Broadcasters Convention in Chicago.
In 1965, the state of Kansas
hanged Richard Hickock and Perry Smith for the 1959 murders of Herbert
Clutter, his wife, Bonnie, and two of their children, Nancy and Kenyon. The
murders were detailed in the Truman Capote non-fiction novel "In Cold
In 1970, President Richard Nixon
nominated Harry Blackmun to the U.S. Supreme Court. (The choice of Blackmun,
who was unanimously confirmed by the Senate a month later, followed the
failed nominations of Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell.)
In 1981, the first test flight of
America's first operational space shuttle, the Columbia, ended successfully
with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
In 1986, Americans got word of a
U.S. air raid on Libya (because of the time difference, it was the early
morning of April 15 where the attack occurred.) French feminist author
Simone de Beauvoir died in Paris at age 78.
In 1994, two U.S. Air Force F-15
warplanes mistakenly shot down two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters over
northern Iraq, killing 26 people, including 15 Americans. Turner Classic
Movies made its cable debut; the first film it aired was Ted Turner's
personal favorite, "Gone with the Wind."
Ten years ago: Riot police beat
and detained protesters as thousands defied an official ban and attempted to
stage a rally in Moscow against Russian President Vladimir Putin's
government. A car bomb exploded near one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines
in Karbala, Iraq, killing 47 people. Entertainer Don Ho died in Honolulu at
Five years ago: In Belfast,
Northern Ireland, where the RMS Titanic was built, thousands attended a
choral requiem at the Anglican St. Anne's Cathedral or a nationally
televised concert at the city's Waterfront Hall to mark the 100th
anniversary of the ship's sinking. Eleven Secret Service agents were placed
on administrative leave as a deepening scandal involving prostitutes
overshadowed President Barack Obama's diplomatic mission to Latin America.
Actor Jonathan Frid, best known for playing Barnabas Collins in the 1960s
original vampire soap opera "Dark Shadows", died in Hamilton, Ontario,
Canada at age 87. Guns N' Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beastie Boys,
folk icon Donovan, late singer-songwriter Laura Nyro and British bands the
Small Faces and Faces were among those inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame in Cleveland.
One year ago: Hillary Clinton and
Bernie Sanders aggressively challenged each other's judgment to be president
during a Democratic debate in Brooklyn, New York, sparring over Wall Street
banks, how high to raise the minimum wage and gun control. The first of two
strong earthquakes struck southern Japan; the temblors killed at least 50
Today's Birthdays: Actor Bradford
Dillman is 87. Country singer Loretta Lynn is 85. Actress Julie Christie is
77. Retired MLB All-Star Pete Rose is 76. Rock musician Ritchie Blackmore is
72. Actor John Shea is 68. Actor-turned-race car driver Brian Forster is 57.
Actor Brad Garrett is 57. Actor Robert Carlyle is 56. Rock singer-musician
John Bell (Widespread Panic) is 55. Actor Robert Clendenin is 53. Actress
Catherine Dent is 52. Actor Lloyd Owen is 51. Baseball Hall of Famer Greg
Maddux is 51. Rock musician Barrett Martin is 50. Actor Anthony Michael Hall
is 49. Actor Adrien Brody is 44. Classical singer David Miller is 44. Rapper
DaBrat is 43. Actor Antwon Tanner is 42. Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar is
40. Actor-producer Rob McElhenney is 40. Roots singer JD McPherson is 40.
Rock singer Win Butler (Arcade Fire) is 37. Actress Claire Coffee is 37.
Actor Christian Alexander is 27. Actor Nick Krause is 25. Actress Vivien
Cardone is 24. Actor Graham Phillips is 24. Actress Skyler Samuels is 23.
Actress Abigail Breslin is 21.
Thought for Today: "Education ...
has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what
is worth reading." — George Macaulay Trevelyan, English historian
United to compensate people on flight when man dragged off
Travelers check in at the United Airlines ticket counter at Terminal 1 in O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
CHICAGO (AP) — United
Airlines sought to quell the uproar over a man being dragged off a plane by
announcing on Tuesday that it would no longer ask police to remove
passengers from full flights and would compensate customers who were on the
flight when the man was removed.
In an interview with ABC's "Good
Morning America" aired Wednesday, United parent company CEO Oscar Munoz said
he felt "ashamed" watching video of the man being forced off the jet. He has
promised to review the airline's passenger-removal policy.
Munoz, who leads United's parent
company, apologized again to Kentucky physician David Dao, his family and
the other passengers who witnessed him being taken off the flight.
"That is not who our family at United
is," he said. "This will never happen again on a United flight. That's my
In the future, law enforcement will not
be involved in removing a "booked, paid, seated passenger," Munoz said. "We
can't do that."
In an effort to calm the backlash,
United also announced that passengers on United Express Flight 3411 would be
compensated equal to the cost of their tickets. United spokeswoman Megan
McCarthy said Wednesday that the passengers can take the compensation in
cash, travel credits or miles.
The flight was loaded and preparing to
leave Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Sunday when the man was
dragged off. Video shot by passengers showing the man's bloodied face went
viral on social media, prompting a storm of protest.
Also Wednesday, a Chicago alderman said
representatives from United and the city's Aviation Department have been
summoned before a city council committee to answer questions about the
confrontation at O'Hare Airport.
Alderman Mike Zalewski said he did not
know who will represent the airline before the Aviation Committee, but Munoz
has been notified of the hearing scheduled for Thursday.
Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger
Evans will also speak.
Munoz called the incident a "system
failure" and said United would reassess its procedures for seeking
volunteers to give up their seats when a flight is full. United was trying
to find seats for four employees, meaning four passengers had to deplane.
It was at least Munoz's fourth
statement about the confrontation.
After the video first emerged, he said
the airline was reaching out to the man to "resolve this situation."
Hours later on Monday, his tone turned
defensive. He described the man as "disruptive and belligerent."
By Tuesday afternoon, almost two days
after the Sunday evening events, Munoz issued another apology.
"No one should ever be mistreated this
way," Munoz said.
The passenger was identified as Dao, a
69-year-old physician from Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
Attorneys for Dao filed court papers
Wednesday asking the airline and the city of Chicago to preserve evidence in
the case. Those documents are often the first steps toward a lawsuit. His
legal team planned to hold a news conference Thursday to discuss the matter
Airport officials have said little
about Sunday's events and nothing about Dao's behavior before he was pulled
from the jet that was bound for Louisville, Kentucky.
Likewise, the Chicago Aviation
Department has said only that one of its employees who removed Dao did not
follow proper procedures and has been placed on leave. The department
announced Wednesday that two more officers have been placed on leave.
No passengers on the plane have
mentioned that Dao did anything but refuse to leave the plane when he was
ordered to do so.
The event stemmed from a common air
travel issue — a full flight.
At first, the airline asked for
volunteers, offering $400 and then when that did not work, $800 per
passenger to relinquish a seat. When no one voluntarily came forward, United
selected four passengers at random.
Three people got off the flight, but
the fourth said he was a doctor and needed to get home to treat patients on
Monday. He refused to leave.
That's when three Aviation Department
police officers boarded the plane. When Dao refused to leave his seat, one
of the officers could be seen grabbing the screaming man from his window
seat and dragging him down the aisle by his arms.
Other passengers on Flight 3411 are
heard saying, "Please, my God," ''What are you doing?" ''This is wrong,"
''Look at what you did to him" and "Busted his lip."
The U.S. Department of Transportation
announced Tuesday that it was reviewing Sunday's events to see if United
violated rules on overselling flights. The four top-ranking members of the
Senate Commerce Committee asked the airline and Chicago airport officials
for more information about what happened.
Trump declares US-Russia relations may be at 'all-time low'
President Donald Trump listens during a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Vivian Salama & Josh Lederman
WASHINGTON (AP) — Laying
bare deep and dangerous divisions on Syria and other issues, President
Donald Trump declared Wednesday that U.S. relations with Russia "may be at
an all-time low." His top diplomat offered a similarly grim assessment from
the other side of the globe after meeting with Russian President Vladimir
Putin in Moscow.
"Right now we're not getting along with
Russia at all," Trump said flatly during a White House news conference. It
was stark evidence that the president is moving ever further from his
campaign promises to establish better ties with Moscow.
Only weeks ago, it appeared that Trump,
who praised Putin throughout the U.S. election campaign, was poised for a
potentially historic rapprochement with Russia. But any such expectations
have crashed into reality amid the nasty back-and-forth over Syria and
ongoing U.S. investigations into Russia's alleged interference in America's
U.S. presidential election.
"It'd be a fantastic thing if we got
along with Putin and if we got along with Russia," Trump said. But he
clearly wasn't counting on it.
"That could happen, and it may not
happen," he said. "It may be just the opposite."
Not long before Trump spoke in
Washington, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson struck a similar tone after an
almost two-hour meeting with Putin, saying the two countries had reached a
"low point" in relations.
Trump, who last week ordered airstrikes
on a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack, was asked
Wednesday if Syria could have launched the attack without Russia's
knowledge. Trump said it was "certainly possible" though "probably
The newly hardened view of Moscow comes
as the president has tried to shake suspicions about the motives behind his
campaign calls for warmer relations. As the FBI and multiple congressional
committees investigate possible collusion between Russia and Trump's
campaign, the president and his aides can now point to his hard-line stance
on Syrian President Bashar Assad as evidence he's willing to stand up to
More than 80 people were killed in what
the U.S. has described as a nerve gas attack that Assad's forces undoubtedly
carried out. Russia says rebels were responsible for whatever chemical agent
was used, which the Trump administration calls a disinformation campaign.
Not long before Trump spoke, Russia
vetoed a Western-backed U.N. resolution that would have condemned the
chemical weapons attack and demanded a speedy investigation.
The dim view of U.S.-Russian ties from
both Trump and Tillerson reflected the former Cold War foes' inability to
forge better relations, as Trump until recently has advocated.
Allegations of collusion between
Russian officials and Trump campaign associates also have weakened Trump's
ability to make concessions to Russia in any agreement, lest he be accused
of rewarding bad behavior. Russia wants the U.S. to eliminate sanctions on
Moscow related to its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and support
for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Until the chemical attack, the Trump
administration had sought to step back from the U.S. position that Assad
should leave power. But Tillerson repeated the administration's new belief
that "the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end."
Beyond Syria, Russia's alleged meddling
in the U.S. presidential election also hovered over what was the first
face-to-face encounter between Putin and any Trump administration Cabinet
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
blasted U.S. claims that it has "irrefutable evidence" of election
"We have not seen a single fact, or
even a hint of facts," he said. "I do not know who saw them. No one showed
us anything, no one said anything, although we repeatedly asked to produce
the details on which these unfounded accusations lie."
He also rejected American claims of
certain evidence that Assad ordered the chemical attack.
Still, Tillerson sought to stress the
positives from his meetings. He said working groups would be established to
improve U.S.-Russian ties and identify problems. He said the two sides would
also discuss disagreements on Syria and how to end the country's six-year
But such hopes appeared optimistic as
the diplomats outlined their sharply diverging views on Syria. Tillerson
said Syria's government had committed more than 50 attacks using chlorine or
other chemical weapons over the duration of the conflict. And he suggested
that possible war crimes charges could be levied against the Syrian leader.
Russia has never publicly acknowledged any such attacks by Assad's forces
and has tried for the past 18 months to help him expand his authority in
The civil war is separate from the
U.S.-led effort against the Islamic State group in the north of the country.
While the most immediate U.S.-Russian
dispute concerns culpability for the chemical weapons, broader disagreements
over everything from Ukraine to Russia's support for once-fringe candidates
in European elections are among other sore points.
Tillerson was greeted frostily in the
Russian capital as Lavrov began their meeting Wednesday by demanding to know
America's "real intentions."
"We have seen very alarming actions
recently with an unlawful attack against Syria," Lavrov said, referring to
the 59 Tomahawk missiles Trump launched at an air base to punish Assad for
using chemical weapons. "We consider it of utmost importance to prevent the
risks of replay of similar action in the future."
Trump and others have indeed threatened
similar action. But in a Fox Business Network interview, the U.S. president
said he wouldn't intervene militarily against Assad unless the Syrian leader
resorts to using weapons of mass destruction again. "Are we going to get
involved with Syria? No," Trump said. But, he added, "I see them using gas
... we have to do something."
Syria chemical attack investigator moves on to new UN post
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The
head of the international body that investigates responsibility for reports
of chemical weapons use in Syria is taking a new job as the U.N. grapples
with responding to another alleged poison attack.
The U.N. announced Wednesday that
Virginia Gamba is becoming its special representative for children and armed
It's not immediately clear who will
succeed her in leading the joint investigative initiative by the U.N. and
the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to assess blame for
chemical attacks. She's expected to stay on for a few weeks.
The UN-OPCW investigators have blamed
at least three chemical weapons attacks on Syria and one on Islamic State
A suspected April 4 chemical attack in
civil war-ravaged Syria killed nearly 90 people and is under OPCW
Bangladesh militant hanged for attack aimed at British envoy
In this June 16, 2014 file photo, Mufti Abdul Hannan, center, leader of banned radical group Harkatul Jihad al Islami, stands at a court in Dhaka, Bangladesh.(AP Photo/A.M. Ahad, File)
NEW DELHI (AP) — Authorities in
Bangladesh have executed a top leader of a banned militant group and two
accomplices for their involvement in a grenade attack against a British
diplomat at a popular Islamic shrine in 2004.
The attack killed three people and
wounded several others. The main target was then-British High Commissioner
Anwar Choudhury, who narrowly escaped.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said
Thursday that Harkatul Jihad chief Mufti Hannan and one accomplice were
hanged at Kashimpur Jail outside the capital late Wednesday. The third man
was executed in the northeastern district of Sylhet, also late Wednesday.
Harkatul Jihad wanted to introduce
Sharia law and is blamed for other attacks between 1999 and 2005 that
claimed more than 100 lives.
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