Covers the period:
2017-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2017-06-22 11:53:04 UTC
2017-06-22 13:37:46 UTC
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A U.S. Navy vessel has collided with a container vessel southwest of Yokosuka, Japan:
Seven U.S. sailors are unaccounted for after a Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, early Saturday local time, a U.S. official and the Navy said.
Some flooding was reported aboard the USS Fitzgerald, a 505-foot destroyer, after the collision with a Philippine container vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. Saturday local time (1:30 p.m. ET Friday), about 56 nautical miles of Yokosuka, the U.S. 7th Fleet said.
Also at Reuters.
mrpg wrote in with another story about a U.S. Navy sailor who was reported missing and presumed dead after a search by the Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and Japan's Coast Guard. He was found days later, hiding in one of the engine rooms.
A gunman opened fire at U.S. Congressmen and others who were gathered at a practice this morning for the Congressional Baseball Game. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and at least four others were reportedly injured. The gunman, who has been identified by unnamed sources as James T. Hodgkinson III, was taken to a local hospital where he died from his injuries:
A gunman unleashed a barrage of gunfire Wednesday at a park in Alexandria, Va., as Republican members of Congress held a morning baseball practice, wounding at least five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.).
The suspected gunman is James T. Hodgkinson III, 66, from Illinois, according to multiple law enforcement sources. President Trump announced that the gunman, who was wounded in a shootout with officers, has died at an area hospital.
The wounded also included two Capitol Police officers and a congressional aide, according to one law enforcement official and witness accounts.
Congressman Scalise was shot in the hip and is in stable condition.
Hodgkinson's motive may have already been identified by the media:
A Facebook page belonging to a person with the same name includes pictures of Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, and rhetoric against President Trump, including a post that reads: "Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co."
Charles Orear, 50, a restaurant manager from St. Louis, said in an interview Wednesday that he became friendly with Hodgkinson during their work together in Iowa on Sanders's campaign. Orear said Hodgkinson was a passionate progressive and showed no signs of violence or malice toward others.
Armed police respond to serious incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market – with members of the public urged to reach areas of safety.
Since late yesterday evening [Saturday, 3 June], the Metropolitan Police Service has been responding to incidents in the London Bridge and Borough Market areas of south London. We are treating this as a terrorist incident and a full investigation is already underway, led by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.
[...] Six people have been killed in terror attacks on London Bridge and at Borough Market.
Three male suspects have been shot dead by police.
Canisters seen around the body of at least one of the suspects have been “established to be hoaxes”, police said.
Police believe all of those directly responsible for the attack have been killed.
[...] Since March there has been the Westminster attack by Khalid Masood, who mowed down pedestrians near parliament and stabbed a policeman, resulting in six deaths, including his own: and the Manchester bombing two weeks ago that killed 22. And now London again.
[...] An editor in the Sun’s London Bridge Street office says police confirmed that a number of blasts heard [...] were controlled explosions.
Source: The Guardian
An investigation into the foreign funding of extremist Islamist groups may never be published, the Home Office has admitted.
The inquiry commissioned by David Cameron, was launched as part of a deal with the Liberal Democrats in December 2015, in exchange for the party supporting the extension of British airstrikes against Isis into Syria.
But although it was due to be published in the spring of 2016, it has not been completed and may never be made public due to its "sensitive" contents.
It is thought to focus on Saudi Arabia, which the UK recently approved £3.5bn worth of arms export licences to.
Source: The Independent
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced an observation of the merger of two black holes observed on 2017-01-04 having masses of approximately 31 and 19 times the mass of our sun (M⊙) at a distance of approximately 880 Mpc (megaparsec) or approximately 2.8 billion light years.
From the full open access report (pdf) which was published in Physical Review Letters, by the American Physical Society (DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.221101):
We describe the observation of GW170104, a gravitational-wave signal produced by the coalescence of a pair of stellar-mass black holes. The signal was measured on January 4, 2017 at 10:11:58.6 UTC by the twin advanced detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory during their second observing run, with a network signal-to-noise ratio of 13 and a false alarm rate less than 1 in 70,000 years. The inferred component black hole masses are 31.2+8.4
−6.0 M⊙ and 19.4+5.3
−5.9 M⊙ (at the 90% credible level). The black hole spins are best constrained through measurement of the effective inspiral spin parameter, a mass-weighted combination of the spin components perpendicular to the orbital plane, χeff = −0.12+0.21
−0.30. This result implies that spin configurations with both component spins positively aligned with the orbital angular momentum are disfavored. The source luminosity distance is 880+450
−390 Mpc corresponding to a redshift of z = 0.18+0.08
−0.07. We constrain the magnitude of modifications to the gravitational-wave dispersion relation and perform null tests of general relativity. Assuming that gravitons are dispersed in vacuum like massive particles, we bound the graviton mass to mg ≤ 7.7 × 10−23 eV/c2. In all cases, we find that GW170104 is consistent with general relativity.
[...] The first observing run of the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)  identified two binary black hole coalescence signals with high statistical significance, GW150914  and GW151226 , as well as a less significant candidate LVT151012 [4,5]. These discoveries ushered in a new era of observational astronomy, allowing us to investigate the astrophysics of binary black holes and test general relativity (GR) in ways that were previously inaccessible [6,7]. We now know that there is a population of binary black holes with component masses ≳25M⊙ [5,6], and that merger rates are high enough for us to expect more detections [5,8]. Advanced LIGO’s second observing run began on November 30, 2016. On January 4, 2017, a gravitational wave signal was detected with high statistical significance. Figure 1 shows a time-frequency representation of the data from the LIGO Hanford and Livingston detectors, with the signal GW170104 visible as the characteristic chirp of a binary coalescence.
B.P. Abbott et al. (Full author list appears at the end of the linked journal article).
Published by the American Physical Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article’s title, journal citation, and DOI.
Once again, no visual confirmation. This time possibly due to technical issues with one detector:
The event candidate was not reported by the low-latency analysis pipelines because re-tuning the calibration of the LIGO Hanford detector is not yet complete after the holiday shutdown. This resulted in a delay of over 4 hours before the candidate could be fully examined. We are confident that this is a highly significant event candidate, but the calibration issue may be affecting the initial sky maps.
The Guardian reports:
At least 19 people were killed and more than 50 injured after an explosion in the foyer area of a crowded Manchester concert hall, which left hundreds of people fleeing in terror. [...] Police said they were dealing with a possible terror incident and counter-terrorism officials were assessing what caused the explosion. Investigators from the police and the domestic security service MI5 were part of the investigation.
I can confirm the details of events tonight that we currently know. At around 10.33pm last night we received reports of an explosion at the Manchester Arena in the city centre. It was at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert.
Currently we have 19 people confirmed to have died and around 50 people injured.
The injured are being treated at six hospitals across Greater Manchester. My thoughts are with all those who have been affected and we are doing all we can to support them.
[...] We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise. We are working closely with the national counter-terrorism policing network and UK intelligence partners.
Unnamed sources, who have not been directly quoted are widely reported as suspecting this incident was a suicide bombing.
Multiple senior U.S. law enforcement officials briefed by British authorities told NBC News that forensic evidence at the scene — including a body found at the blast site — indicated a suicide attack. British and U.S. law enforcement officials said they believed they had tentatively identified the bomber.
U.S. officials said initial reports indicated that some of the casualties might have been caused by a stampede of concert-goers.
Sky News reports:
Officers carried out a controlled explosion at nearby Cathedral Gardens shortly after 1.30am, but have since confirmed the item they found was abandoned clothing and not suspicious.
FBI Director James B. Comey has been dismissed by the president [...] a startling move that officials said stemmed from a conclusion by Justice Department officials that he had mishandled the probe of Hillary Clinton's emails.
President Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey:
President Trump has fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, the White House said Tuesday.
[...] Under the F.B.I.'s normal rules of succession, Mr. Comey's deputy, Andrew G. McCabe, a career F.B.I. officer, becomes acting director. The White House said the search for a new director will begin immediately.
I never liked Comey (see this cluster of stories), but I doubt there will ever be an FBI Director I like.
We're Stuck With Comey
Earlier in the day...
ProPublica reports that most of FBI Director James Comey's testimony to Congress last Wednesday related to Huma Abedin's mishandling of classified emails was inaccurate, and that FBI officials are privately acknowledging the mistake(s) but are still considering their next move:
FBI director James Comey generated national headlines last week with his dramatic testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, explaining his "incredibly painful" decision to go public about the Hillary Clinton emails found on Anthony Weiner's laptop.
Perhaps Comey's most surprising revelation was that Huma Abedin — Weiner's wife and a top Clinton deputy — had made "a regular practice" of forwarding "hundreds and thousands" of Clinton messages to her husband, "some of which contain classified information." Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss. (Weiner's laptop was seized after he came under criminal investigation for sex crimes, following a media report about his online relationship with a teenager.)
The New York Post plastered its story on the front page with a photo of an underwear-clad Weiner and the headline: "HARD COPY: Huma sent Weiner classified Hillary emails to print out." The Daily News went with a similar front-page screamer: "HUMA ERROR: Sent classified emails to sext maniac Weiner."
The problem: Much of what Comey said about this was inaccurate. Now the FBI is trying to figure out what to do about it. FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found. On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week. But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do.
[...] According to two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement — Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the "hundreds and thousands" cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made "a regular practice" of doing so. Other officials said it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.
Following reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, President Trump authorized the launch of Tomahawk cruise missiles against a base in Syria. The Russian government was notified prior to the launch as they have resources in the area that was attacked.
According to NBC News:
The United States launched dozens of cruise missiles Thursday night at a Syrian airfield in response to what it believes was Syria's use of banned chemical weapons that killed at least 100 people, U.S. military officials told NBC News.
Two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles intended for a single target — Ash Sha'irat in Homs province in western Syria, the officials said. That's the airfield from which the United States believes the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired the banned weapons.
There was no immediate word on casualties. U.S. officials told NBC News that people were not targeted and that aircraft and infrastructure at the site were hit, including the runway and gas fuel pumps.
Also at Al Jazeera:
The United States has launched 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles against Syrian government targets in retaliation for what the Trump administration charges was a Syrian government chemical weapons attack that killed scores of civilians, a US official says.
The targets hit from US ships in the Mediterranean Sea included the air base in the central city of Homs from which the Syrian aircraft staged Tuesday's chemical weapons attack, the US official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
[...] He [Trump] called on "civilised nations" to join US in "seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria".
Syrian state TV said "American aggression targets Syrian military targets with a number of missiles".
The poison gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on Tuesday killed at least 86 people, including 27 children, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Turkey said samples from victims of Tuesday's attack indicate they were exposed to sarin, a highly toxic nerve agent.
The New York Times adds:
The Pentagon informed Russian military officials, through its established deconfliction channel, of the strike before the launching of the missiles, the official said, with American officials knowing when they did that that Russian authorities may well have alerted the Assad regime. "With a lot of Tomahawks flying, we didn't want to hit any Russian planes," he said.
[...] It was Mr. Trump's first order to the military for the use of force — other operations in Syria, Yemen and Iraq had been carried out under authorization delegated to his commanders — and appeared intended to send a message to North Korea, Iran and other potential adversaries that the new commander in chief was prepared to act, and sometimes on short notice.
The airstrikes were carried out less than an hour after the president concluded a dinner with Xi Jinping, the president of China, at Mar-a-Lago, sending an unmistakably aggressive signal about Mr. Trump's willingness to use the military power at his disposal.
Mr. Trump authorized the strike with no congressional approval for the use of force, an assertion of presidential authority that contrasts sharply with the protracted deliberations over the use of force by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
[...] Mr. Trump moved with remarkable speed, delivering the punishing military strike barely 72 hours after the devastating chemical attack that killed 80 people this week.
Wikipedia notes: Use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war .
Samsung Group's vice chairman and "de facto leader" Jay Y. Lee and four other executives have denied the charges against them in what is being called South Korea's "trial of the century":
Five executives at Samsung, including the conglomerate's de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, formally denied bribery charges against them on Thursday, in a preliminary hearing for a trial with the potential to shake South Korea.
Mr. Lee, who also goes by the name Jay Y. Lee, and the other executives face charges that strike at the heart of the deep ties between the South Korean government and powerful family-controlled businesses, a source of growing public resentment. Parliament voted in December to impeach President Park Geun-hye over accusations of corruption and other abuses of power, and she could be formally removed from office soon.
But the related arrest of Mr. Lee, scion of the country's biggest and most profitable conglomerate, or chaebol, is a momentous turn in itself. Chaebol bosses, including Mr. Lee's father, have been convicted in previous corruption cases, but punishments have usually been light or commuted. Many see Mr. Lee's trial as a test of whether South Korea can change by abandoning longstanding deference to the business clans that have dominated the country's glittering economic rise. The chief prosecutor has said it could be the "trial of the century."
Roads leading out of Oroville, Calif., were jammed with traffic Sunday evening as more than 130,000 people were ordered to evacuate the area due to the possibility of failure of the alternate spillway at Oroville Dam, authorities said.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said during a news conference Sunday night that he had no choice but to order the evacuation.
"I didn't have the luxury of waiting to see if all was OK. We need to get people moving quickly and to save lives in case the worst case came to fruition," Honea said.
"This is a very dynamic situation. This is a situation that could change very, very rapidly," he said.
A gaping hole in the spillway for the tallest dam in the United States has grown and California authorities said they expect it will continue eroding as water washes over it but the Oroville Dam and the public are safe. Earlier this week, chunks of concrete flew off the nearly mile-long spillway, creating a 200-foot-long, 30-foot-deep hole. Engineers don't know what caused cave-in that is expected to keep growing until it reaches bedrock. But faced with little choice, the state Department of Water Resources resumed ramping up the outflow from Lake Oroville over the damaged spillway to keep up with all the runoff from torrential rainfall in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Officials said the critical flood-control structure is at 90 percent of its capacity. But the dam is still safe and so are Oroville's 16,000 residents. "The integrity of the dam is not jeopardized in any way because the problem is with the spillway and not the dam," department spokesman Eric See said.
Located about 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, Oroville Lake is one of the largest man-made lakes in California and 770-foot-tall Oroville Dam is the nation's tallest.
The Sacramento Bee reports that the emergency spillway of Oroville dam on lake Oroville in CA is in danger of imminent collapse. Lake Oroville is the largest drinking water reservoir in the US.
An attack has occurred this morning when an individual carrying 2 backpacks and possibly weapons approached the Louvre in Paris and was engaged by a soldier who fired 5 shots. The assailant was wounded, as was a soldier during the attack. One report claims that the attacker shouted Islamic slogans during the attack.
1111GMT: A second possible assailant has been arrested. The French Govt have confirmed it is a terrorist attack.
1117GMT: It is confirmed that the first assailant attacked a soldier with a machete before being engaged and wounded.
1215GMT: Latest TV statements. The first assailant attacked a security officer and/or soldier with a machete causing wounds to his arm and face, while shouting "Allahu Akbar". A second soldier then engaged the assailant with rifle fire resulting in the assailant being seriously wounded in the stomach. The first assailant was carrying 2 backpacks but no explosives have been found in them. A search of the area is continuing. A second assailant has been arrested within the last hour a short distance away from the scene of the attack.
The Louvre Museum and the area around it is in lock-down, and the public and local workers are been evacuated from the area. The French Govt are releasing only statements that they can verify and are refusing to speculate any further during media questioning.
President Trump's executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. also applies to green card holders from those countries, the Department of Homeland Security said Saturday. "It will bar green card holders," acting DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told Reuters.
Green cards serve as proof of an individual's permanent legal residence in the U.S. A senior administration official clarified on Saturday afternoon that green card holders from the seven countries affected in the order who are currently outside the U.S. will need a case-by-case waiver to return to the U.S. Green card holders in the U.S. will have to meet with a consular officer before departing the country, the official said.
Source: The Hill
At least one case quickly prompted a legal challenge as lawyers representing two Iraqi refugees held at Kennedy International Airport in New York filed a motion early Saturday seeking to have their clients released. They also filed a motion for class certification, in an effort to represent all refugees and other immigrants who they said were being unlawfully detained at ports of entry. Shortly after noon on Saturday, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an interpreter who worked on behalf of the United States government in Iraq, was released. After nearly 19 hours of detention, Mr. Darweesh began to cry as he spoke to reporters, putting his hands behind his back and miming handcuffs.
[...] Inside the airport, one of the lawyers, Mark Doss, a supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project, asked a border agent, "Who is the person we need to talk to?"
"Call Mr. Trump," said the agent, who declined to identify himself.
[...] An official message to all American diplomatic posts around the world provided instructions about how to treat people from the countries affected: "Effective immediately, halt interviewing and cease issuance and printing" of visas to the United States. Confusion turned to panic at airports around the world, as travelers found themselves unable to board flights bound for the United States. In Dubai and Istanbul, airport and immigration officials turned passengers away at boarding gates and, in at least one case, ejected a family from a flight they had boarded.
[...] Iranian green card holders who live in the United States were blindsided by the decree while on vacation in Iran, finding themselves in a legal limbo and unsure whether they would be able to return to America. "How do I get back home now?" said Daria Zeynalia, a green card holder who was visiting family in Iran. He had rented a house and leased a car, and would be eligible for citizenship in November. "What about my job? If I can't go back soon, I'll lose everything."
Source: The New York Times
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has given a major speech calling for a clean break from the EU:
Theresa May has said the UK "cannot possibly" remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean "not leaving the EU at all". But the prime minister promised to push for the "greatest possible" access to the single market following Brexit. In a long-awaited speech, she also announced Parliament would get a vote on the final deal agreed between the UK and the European Union. And Mrs May promised an end to "vast contributions" to the European Union.
Previously: Brexit: The Focus is on the EU Single Market
Submitted via IRC for cmn32480
Family spokesman Simon Halls released a statement to PEOPLE on behalf of Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd:
"It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning," reads the statement.
"She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly," says Lourd. "Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers."
Submitted via IRC for martyb
That means that Billie Lourd, who had a minor role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and was slated for a part in the sequel, Star Wars: Episode VIII, lost both her mother and her grandmother in the same week.
Russia's ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an Ankara art exhibit on Monday evening by a lone Turkish gunman shouting "God is great!" and "don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria!" in what Russia called a terrorist attack.
The gunman, who was described by Ankara's mayor as a policeman, also wounded at least three others in the assault, which was captured on Turkish video. Turkish officials said he was killed by other officers in a shootout.
"The attack comes at a bad time: Moscow and Ankara have only recently restored diplomatic ties after Turkey downed a Russian aircraft in November 2015," the Stratfor think-tank said.
"Though the attack will strain relations between the two countries, it is not likely to rupture them altogether."
[...] Tensions have escalated in recent weeks as Russian-backed Syrian forces have fought for control of the eastern part of Aleppo, triggering a stream of refugees.
Cuba's former president Fidel Castro, one of the world's longest-serving and most iconic leaders, has died aged 90. His younger brother and successor as president Raul Castro announced the news on state television.
Castro toppled the government in 1959, introducing a Communist revolution. He defied the US for decades, surviving many assassination plots. His supporters said he had given Cuba back to the people. Critics saw him as a dictator.
Ashen and grave, President Castro told the nation in an unexpected late night broadcast on state television that Fidel Castro had died and would be cremated later on Saturday. "The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening (03:29 GMT Saturday)," he said. "Towards victory, always!" he added, using a revolutionary slogan. A period of official mourning has been declared on the island until 4 December, when his ashes will be laid to rest in the south-eastern city of Santiago.