Russia has cut its military flights in Syria from more than 100 per day to fewer than four a week, the defence minister said Tuesday, in another sign the country's conflict is winding down. Russia launched air strikes in Syria in support of long-term ally President Bashar al-Assad in September 2015. Russian support helped Assad's forces reclaim swathes of territory once in the hands of opposition fighters and Islamic extremists.
Pope Francis has summoned the heads of some 110 national Catholic bishops' conferences and dozens of experts and leaders of religious orders to the Vatican on Feb. 21-24 for an extraordinary gathering dedicated to the sexual abuse crisis. Victims of clergy sexual abuse are hoping that the meeting will finally come up with a clear policy to make bishops themselves accountable for the mishandling of abuse cases. "Absent a comprehensive and communal response, not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the Church to carry on the mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world," the conference's steering committee said in a letter to all participants.
Chili’s social media department is getting ribbed after it weighed in on North Carolina’s election fraud scandal ― without really understanding it. It all started Monday when Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the progressive super PAC American Bridge, offered a Chili’s gift certificate to North Carolina GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse with a caveat: Stop trying to seat Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris, whose election has been marred by ballot fraud allegations. Woodhouse didn’t respond, but Chili’s social media person did and aggressively attempted to do some promotion piggybacking on Bates’ tweet.
Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin on Monday announced he's continuing his effort to have Maine's new election system used for the first time in a congressional race declared unconstitutional. Poliquin, who lost his re-election bid to Democrat Jared Golden, tweeted Monday evening that a formal appeal will be filed with the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, dragging on the longshot legal process. "Rank voting came to Maine due to a largely out-of-state-funded push to change our election system that has worked well for one hundred years," he said in a statement.
The Super Sonic Car was set to raise the land speed record bar with the vehicle finished and undergoing final testing, but the project was stopped in its tracks when funding ran out. Related Video: Watch the Bloodhound SSC Team Show off Car Months of administration failed to find an investor willing to supply the £25 million ($31.5 million) required to set what might be the last record of this kind. Time was called on Bloodhound and we all shed a tear over a hard-fought challenge that seemingly fell at the final hurdle.
Delta Air Lines will add nonstop service to Mexico City from its Minneapolis/St. Paul hub. Daily service will begin June 8, with Delta offering one daily round-trip flight on 132-seat Airbus A319 aircraft. Minneapolis/St. Paul will become the sixth city to get nonstop service to Mexico City on Delta.
AAA predicts that more than one-third of Americans will travel this holiday season, so knowing the best and worst times for traffic and weather can cut down your trip time. According to AAA, the record-breaking 112.5 million travelers taking to the nation's runways, roads and rails for the year-end holidays represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year and the most since AAA has been tracking holiday travel. "'Tis the season for holiday travel, and more Americans than ever will journey to spend time with friends and family or choose to take a vacation," said Bryan Shilling, managing director, AAA Travel products and services.
The US surgeon general has urged an aggressive clamp down on e-cigarettes, recommending punitive taxes and bans on them being used at indoor public venues. Jerome Adams, America's top doctor, said action was needed to prevent millions of teenagers becoming hooked on the high-nicotine devices. Most devices heat a flavored nicotine solution into an inhalable vapour, and have been marketed to adult smokers as a less-harmful alternative to cigarettes.
New Zealand warned Google to "take responsibility" for its news content Wednesday, after the internet giant broke a court order suppressing the name of a man charged with murdering a British backpacker. An Auckland court granted the man interim name suppression this month but Google revealed his identity in an email to subscribers of its "what's trending in New Zealand?" service. Justice Minister Andrew Little said the breach was unacceptable and he had made his views known to Google executives at a meeting in parliament on Tuesday night.
Guatemalan children caught in Mexico while trying to migrate into the US, queue before climbing into a minibus at Aurora international airport in Guatemala City. For years, Dora waited impatiently to turn 15, the age her mother had agreed she would be old enough to leave their home in El Salvador – where she suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her grandfather – and head to the US, in search of a new life. “Seeing them leave together … that gave me hope and gave me the courage to finally leave,” said Dora, who is now living at a children’s shelter in Tijuana, on the border with California.
Russia's Ministry of Defence said it planned to shift troops next week into four housing complexes on two of the four disputed islands, known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan. Japan's defense ministry says 3,500 Russian troops are deployed on the two larger islands as part of a military buildup. The news came after the Kremlin said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might visit Russia on Jan. 21 as the two countries step up efforts to defuse the territorial dispute that has prevented them from signing a World War Two peace treaty.
The National Rifle Association is "disappointed" with the Trump administration's plan to outlaw bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire continuously. Spokeswoman Jennifer Baker says the Justice Department should provide amnesty for gun owners who already have the devices. The Justice Department says the attachments will be banned beginning in late March under a law that prohibits machine guns.
Canada is looking for a way out of a $13 billion deal to export armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia -- a move the company warns could leave the government liable for billions. In a television interview Sunday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government was looking for a way to halt the sale of armored vehicles manufactured by a unit of U.S.-based General Dynamics Corp. We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” Trudeau told CTV, without elaborating.
Trump lawyer rules out Mueller interview; Judge Napolitano weighs in.
Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport said Monday that it is now offering unlimited free Wi-Fi for travelers. Previously, free Wi-Fi was limited to one hour at the airport, which goes by airport code MKE. "Unlimited free Wi-Fi has been one of the most-requested passenger amenities at MKE," Chris Abele, Milwaukee County executive, said in a statement.
President Xi Jinping vowed Tuesday to push ahead with China's "reform and opening up" but warned that no one can "dictate" what it does, as the Communist Party celebrated the policy's 40th anniversary. While he pledged to press forward with the economic reforms initiated under late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in December 1978, Xi indicated that there would be no change to the one-party system. "The leadership of the Communist Party of China is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the greatest advantage of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics," he said.
Two new reports analyzing the scope of Russian interference in the 2016 elections found that foreign actors dominated and manipulated political social media on a colossal scale, reaching more than 126 million people in a coordinated effort to benefit the Republican Party while damaging the Democratic Party. Both reports, commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee, essentially confirm various findings in the two years since Donald Trump was elected president that Moscow was widely successful in reaching Americans, using an array of tactics online. The first report ― created by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm ― shows how a Russian company called the Internet Research Agency created thousands of accounts and “launched an extended attack on the United States” election by polarizing American politics and boosting Donald Trump’s campaign, according to The Washington Post.
The European Union on Wednesday adopted back-up plans to protect essential air transport and finance in the event that Britain leaves the bloc without a Brexit deal in 100 days. The European Commission said it was acting "to ensure that the necessary contingency measures can enter into application on 30 March 2019 in order to limit the most significant damage caused by a 'no-deal' scenario". The package covers 14 areas where a "no-deal" Brexit "would create major disruption for citizens and businesses" including in financial services, air transport, customs and climate policy.
The bodies of two slain Honduran migrant youths were found in the Mexican border city of Tijuana at the weekend, officials said on Tuesday, in a sign of the dangers facing Central Americans in Mexico as they seek to enter the United States. The prosecutors' office in Tijuana said in a statement it was investigating the deaths of the two youths, who showed signs of having been stabbed and strangled. The victims were believed to be about 16 or 17 years old, the office said.
The auto industry is a popularity contest, and sedans are the clear losers these days. From Car and Driver
The Taliban held another round of talks with U.S. officials on Monday, this time in the United Arab Emirates and also involving Saudi, Pakistani and Emirati representatives, part of the latest attempt to bring a negotiated end to Afghanistan's 17-year war. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid offered few details of the daylong meeting except to say "discussions were held with the American side over the end to the invasion of Afghanistan." He dismissed Afghan media reports that Afghan government representatives, who are in the United Arab Emirates, had met with the Taliban. "There is no plan to meet the Kabul administration," Mujahid said.
Canada is looking for a way to end a multibillon-dollar deal to sell armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, according to the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, but the country hasn’t yet figured out how to leave the agreement. “We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” Trudeau told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday, in the latest signal that his government is increasingly likely to terminate the contract. Following the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and mounting civilian deaths from the war in Yemen, Trudeau has been under increasing pressure from rights groups, academics and policy advisers to cancel the arms deal.
The New York City-bound entrance of the Holland Tunnel in Jersey City, New Jersey, was redecorated Monday night. The Christmas tree wreath was moved over to the "A" in "Holland" and the round wreath over the "U" in "Tunnel" taken to the Journal Square PATH station, officials said. The wreath over the "O" stayed put.
A student has lost her pet fish after it was banned from the Southwest Airlines flight she booked on. According to USA Today, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs student Lanice Powless was traveling from the Denver airport to her home in California when she said a Southwest employee told her she could not bring her pink pet Betta fish, Cassie, on the flight. Powless had researched TSA policy about bringing fish on flights ahead of getting Cassie and was pleased to note that live fish are allowed on flights if they’re in a carry-on bag.