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.
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.
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.
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace laced into Republicans for not-so-subtly implying during Tuesday's impeachment hearings that National Security Council official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman could have dual loyalty. The GOP's line of questioning, the MSNBC host suggested, was inspired by pro-Trump hosts at Fox News. During a break in Tuesday's testimony, Wallace asked MSNBC correspondent Garrett Haake about counsel Steve Castor questioning Vindman about a Ukrainian official asking him if he'd be interested in becoming Ukraine's minister of defense.
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.
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.
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.
Despair, frustration and fear set in among the last remnants of student protesters in Hong Kong's besieged Polytechnic University on Tuesday, but a flicker of defiance still ran strong among the small group, as they vowed to continue their four-day standoff with the police. In the trashed campus canteen, plastic litter and uneaten food strewn on the linoleum floor, some half dozen young men and women still wore black body armour and talked in hushed tones while one repeatedly punched a pillar and another toyed with a bow and arrow. In another corner, Mark Wong, 21, his face covered with a white dish cloth, sat with two female companions, hunched over their phones as they plotted potential escape routes.
An ammunition dealer who acknowledged selling hundreds of incendiary tracer rounds to the gunman who killed nearly 60 people at a Las Vegas music festival two years ago pleaded guilty on Tuesday to manufacturing bullets without a license. Douglas Haig, 57, of Mesa, Arizona, became the first and only person arrested and charged in connection with the Oct. 1, 2017, massacre, which ended when the gunman, Stephen Paddock, killed himself. Haig told reporters following his arrest last year that none of the surplus military ammunition he sold to Paddock in September 2017 was ever fired during the killing spree, which ranks as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
During impeachment hearings on Tuesday morning, the lead Republican counsel pressed Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman on an offer he'd received to take the position of defense minister in Kiev. The line of questioning seemed designed to raise doubts about Vindman's allegiance to the U.S. right as he was testifying about his concerns over President Donald Trump's efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on his domestic political rivals. Oleksander Danylyuk, the former Chairman of the National Security and Defence Council in Ukraine, said he only remembers speaking with Vindman once about the defense minister position.
There is no guarantee that such an event will unfold, but Lyytinen and Jenniskens said there is a "good chance" to see the first Alpha Monocerotids meteor storm since 1995, when there were about 400 meteors per hour, AccuWeather reported. The meteor shower is known as the Alpha Monocerotids because the meteors radiate from Monoceros (Greek for "unicorn"), a faint constellation to the left of Orion, according to AccuWeather. "Unlike most meteor outbursts, which last for several hours, strong activity from the Alpha Monocerotids is over within an hour and easily missed," the American Meteor Society said.
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.
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.
Public testimony in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump's alleged extortion of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continued on Tuesday afternoon, with former National Security Council staffer Tim Morrison and former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. The testimony of the two men was not as damaging to Trump as Friday's appearance by Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Tuesday morning hadn't been especially good for Trump, either, with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman asserting that it was “improper for the president to demand an investigation into a political opponent.” In an unusual move, the White House used its Twitter account to impugn Vindman's personal reputation.
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.
A Catholic bishop in China is believed to be on the run from state security after refusing to bring his church under a government-sanctioned religious association. Guo Xijin, 61, has fled the custody of state agents and has gone into hiding, reported Catholic Asia News, a website, and cannot be immediately reached for comment. Mr Guo is part of a group of bishops that many religious and human rights experts feared would be persecuted after the Vatican inked a deal with Beijing last year on the ordaining bishops.
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."
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.
Russia's much-feared Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire is getting a new upgrade and is adding a new long-range supersonic missile called the Kh-32. The bomber and its new weapon will be delivered to the Russian Aerospace Forces in October. “According to the existing plan, the first Tu-22M3M with the most advanced Kh-32 long-range cruise missile will go on combat duty in long-range aviation in October this year," a Russian defense industry source told the state-owned TASS news agency.
Two American service members were killed in a helicopter crash Wednesday in Afghanistan, the U.S. military said without providing further details. The crash is under investigation but the military said preliminary reports indicated the incident was not caused by enemy fire, despite a claim from the Taliban that it shot down a helicopter in eastern Logar province, causing fatalities. The deaths of the service members brings the number of U.S. combat fatalities this year in Afghanistan to 19.