At the heart of the impeachment drama gripping the nation's capital is the question of whether President Trump's attempts to solicit Ukrainian investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden for his role in the firing of a Kyiv prosecutor in 2016 and possible Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election were ethical. Both of those motives took major hits during Tuesday's impeachment hearings, as witnesses dismissed them as conspiracy theories and irrelevant — at best — to U.S. interests. The allegations against the [former] Vice President [Biden] are self-serving and not credible,” said Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine.
In her first public appearance since being deported by U.S. authorities who had jailed her for being a Russian agent, Maria Butina was on Monday offered a job by Moscow to defend Russians imprisoned abroad. During an event for the media, Russia's human rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova, offered Butina, 31, a job working for her commission. Butina, who flew back to Russia on Oct. 26 after being deported, did not say whether she would accept the offer made at what she called her first public appearance since she was mobbed by wellwishers in front of the media at the airport on her arrival home.
A sketch of the young girl whose remains were found at a softball field in Delaware in September was released this week by authorities to help solve the mystery of her death. Smyrna Police Department investigators said they hope the facial reconstruction sketches prompt tipsters to come forward with either the girl's identity or possible suspect information. The department is working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Delaware Division of Forensic Science on the case.
Two gay Saudi journalists who sought asylum in Australia after being threatened at home over their relationship have been held for weeks at an immigration detention centre, their lawyer said Wednesday. The couple arrived in Australia in mid-October on tourist visas but was singled out by airport customs officials -- then taken into detention -- when they admitted plans to seek asylum, lawyer Alison Battisson told AFP. "Australia being very well known for being... a safe place for LGBTI people, they were incredibly surprised and distressed," she said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom cracked down on oil producers Tuesday, halting approval of hundreds of fracking permits until independent scientists can review them and temporarily banning new wells using another drilling method that regulators believe is linked to one of the largest spills in state history. The state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources announced it will not approve new wells that use high-pressure steam to extract oil from underground. It's the type of process Chevron uses at an oil field in the Central Valley that leaked more than 1.3 million gallons (4.9 million liters) of oil and water this summer.
After an impeachment hearing that featured Republicans suggesting National Security Council official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was insufficiently loyal to America on Tuesday, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and former Trump aide Christian Whiton openly mocked the Iraq War veteran for wearing his Army uniform to testify. During Tuesday night's broadcast of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs—who also serves as an informal adviser to the president—groused about Vindman requesting Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) properly refer to him by his military rank during the hearing. “This Colonel Vindman, who insisted for some reason on wanting to be called lieutenant colonel,” the Fox host grumbled.
One of the most sought-after presidential endorsements in a key early voting state is from a woman who cannot vote.
The Great Firewall may have been breached. Beijing doubled down Monday after The New York Times published a report on over 400 leaked documents that provided a look into China's mass detention of Muslims in the Xinjiang region, though the government didn't dispute the authenticity of the documents. "It is precisely because of a series of preventative counterterrorism and de-extremism measures taken in a timely manner that Xinjiang, which had been deeply plagued by terrorism, has not had a violent terrorist incident for three years," said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Elstad Ranch/Flickr Syracuse University's fraternities had their social activities canceled for the rest of the semester after a black student said members of the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity called her the N-word. It was the latest in a series of reported racist and anti-Semitic incidents to sweep the upstate New York campus since November 7. Syracuse University has canceled all fraternity social activities for the rest of the semester after a black student reported a racist attack.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who began calling for President Trump to be impeached earlier this year, believes we have now reached “the point of no return” where it is inarguably clear that he has committed criminal acts. Ocasio-Cortez discussed the issue with Yahoo News on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as the third day of public hearings was being conducted in the Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry. “We're kind of knee-deep here in impeachment inquiry and so at this point, I think we're beyond the question as to whether Trump has committed a crime or whether he's violated the Constitution,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The United States announced on Wednesday it will provide Vietnam with another coast guard cutter for its growing fleet of ships, boosting Hanoi's ability to patrol the South China Sea amid tensions with China. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper disclosed the decision during an address in Vietnam, which has emerged as the most vocal opponent in Asia of China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. In his speech, Esper took aim at China, which he accused of "bullying" neighbors, like Vietnam.
Three people were killed Monday in a shooting outside a Walmart that ended when a bystander pointed a gun at the shooter, police and a witness said. Police responding to a call shortly before 10 a.m. local time found a man and a woman dead in the front seat of a car in the parking lot and another man deceased outside the car, Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford said. “It appears several rounds were fired into the car, and a handgun was found on scene,” Ford said.
Austrian Nobel literature prize winner Peter Handke on Wednesday defended his vocal support for Serbs in the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia, but said he "never bowed down" before Slobodan Milosevic. The Swedish academy's pick last month triggered outrage in the Balkans and beyond because of Handke's admiration for the late Serbian strongman. As well as for his literary works, Handke was widely criticised for speaking at the 2006 funeral of Milosevic, who died awaiting trial for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
A former employee of the British Consulate in Hong Kong says he was detained and tortured by Chinese secret police trying to extract information about massive anti-government protests in the territory. Simon Cheng said in an online statement and media interviews that he was hooded, beaten, deprived of sleep and chained to an X-shaped frame by plainclothes and uniformed agents as they sought information on activists involved in the protests and the role they believed Britain played in the demonstrations. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab summoned the Chinese ambassador in London to demand Beijing investigate.
The Indian Army plans to buy just 1,800 state-of-the-art sniper rifles and 2.7 million rounds of ammunition -- less than a third of its total requirement -- driven by budgetary constraints and the need to speed up deliveries, people with knowledge of the matter said. The military pruned its original requirement of 5,720 sniper rifles and 10 million rounds of ammunition, which would have cost $140 million, to prioritize spending and advance the purchase of more modern equipment, they said, asking not to be identified as the information isn't public. Indian Army spokesman Aman Anand said he had no comment to offer on the change in procurement plans.
Key point: Washington is taking key steps to show Tehran that it would respond to any further attack on Riyadh. In response to the September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced plans to deploy additional personnel and air and missile defense assets to the Middle East – including one Patriot battery, four Sentinel radars, and 200 support personnel. At a September 20 press conference, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford said that Riyadh had requested U.S. assistance following the September 14 attack.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday blasted leadership at Syracuse University for its handling of ongoing hate speech and racist harassment on campus, which escalated overnight when a white-supremacist manifesto was allegedly AirDropped to some students' cell phones. The university's Department of Public Safety announced in a campus-wide email early Tuesday morning that it was investigating reports that the hate manifesto, which students told The Daily Beast was the same one used by the Christchurch mosque shooter, was sent to student phones at Bird Library at around 1 a.m. It was also posted in an online discussion forum about Greek life just after 10 p.m., The Daily Orange, the student newspaper, reported. “The hateful activities at Syracuse University are most disturbing, not only to the Syracuse University community, but to the greater community of New York,” Cuomo said in a press release on Tuesday afternoon.
In his opening statement before the House Intelligence Committee, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union — who has been widely seen as the impeachment inquiry's most consequential witness — put President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the center of the effort to pressure the president of Ukraine to carry out Trump's political agenda. His testimony supported the accounts by other witnesses that Trump sought to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.
American Airlines admitted Tuesday that whatever knocked out two flight attendants and forced an emergency landing in October was not spilled soap, as the airline had previously claimed. On October 21, American Airlines flight 729 was flying from London Heathrow to Philadelphia, but was forced to land in Dublin, Ireland, when two staff members passed out. American Airlines said at the time that the incident was caused by "an odor caused by a spilled cleaning solution in the galley."
A former California nanny will serve 30 years in federal prison for filming child pornography with at least five victims under his care, authorities said Monday. Travis Elconin convinced families and friends to hire him as a caretaker, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California said in a press release, then sexually abused their children. The 35-year-old Burbank resident also advertised his nanny services online, according to court documents detailed in the release.
The house where Adolf Hitler was born will be turned into a police station, Austria's interior minister said, after years of debate over how best to prevent it becoming a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis. Having recently carried out a compulsory purchase of the house in Braunau am Inn, a town on the border with Germany, Austria will invite architects to submit plans for a redesign of the building. It will house the local police force's offices, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
The son of former German president Richard von Weizsaecker was stabbed to death while he was giving a lecture at a hospital in Berlin where he worked as a head physician, police said Wednesday. A 57-year-old German man is in custody after he jumped up from the audience at the Schlosspark-Klinik and attacked Fritz von Weizsaecker with a knife on Tuesday evening. Von Weizsaecker died at the scene from a knife wound to the neck despite immediate attention from colleagues, said Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors.
The Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons told the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday that the FBI is investigating the possibility that a “criminal enterprise” played a role in the death of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.