Covers the period:
2017-01-01 .. 2017-04-23
(SPIDs: [586..642]) --martyb
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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.
A powerful earthquake rocked northern Japan early on Tuesday, briefly disrupting cooling functions at a nuclear plant and generating a small tsunami that hit the same Fukushima region devastated by a 2011 quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
The magnitude 7.4 earthquake, which was felt in Tokyo, sent thousands of residents fleeing for higher ground as dawn broke along the northeastern coast.
[...] There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries several hours after the quake hit at 5:59 a.m. local time. It was centred off the coast of Fukushima prefecture at a depth of about 10 kilometres, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.
NewsHub (New Zealand) reports:
Small tsunami waves have hit a number of cities on the eastern coast of Japan after a 6.9 magnitude quake struck off the coast of the country.
The waves ranged from 90 centimetres [3 feet] in height at Soma Port in Fukushima to a 60 centimetre wave [in] Onahama Port in Fukushima.
[...] In [the city of] Iwaki [in Fukushima Prefecture], a man recorded a [...] wave just after 7am local time.
[...] The Meteorological Agency says a tsunami measuring 1.4 meters [4.6 feet] reached Sendai port in Miyagi [Prefecture, just north of Fukushima Prefecture].
 The video is behind a script.
Early projections had been as high as 3 meters (10 feet).
And the winner of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, as reported by the major mainstream media outlets is Donald Trump. It has also been reported that Hillary Clinton called President-elect Donald Trump to concede.
Electoral vote count (so far): 279 for Donald Trump, 218 for Hillary Clinton. 270 electoral votes are needed to win.
Popular vote: 57,227,164 votes (48.0%) for Donald Trump, 56,279,305 votes (47.2%) for Hillary Clinton. Update: Now it is closer to 59,085,795 votes (47.5%) for Donald Trump and 59,236,903 votes (47.6%) for Hillary Clinton.
Yell, scream, gnash teeth... but please keep it civil.
takyon: Republicans have retained control of the House and Senate.
Here's some market news:
Dow futures plunge nearly 750 points as investors warily eye electoral map
Asian markets plummet on likelihood of Trump victory
Bitcoin price soars as Trump pulls ahead
Opinion: How to profit from a Donald Trump victory
[TMB Note: Stop breaking stuff, cmn32480]
I just tried to access my Paypal account, and apparently it is down.
Companies including Twitter, Netflix, PayPal and eBay appeared to have their websites broken. And other services like PlayStation Network appeared to be hit by a major outage:
China is scheduled to launch a space station into orbit in less than an hour. According to Ars Technica:
China will take its next step toward a large space station on Thursday, when it intends to launch the Tiangong-2 laboratory into orbit. The 8.5-ton, 10.4-meter-long facility will launch from the Jiuquan launch center in the Gobi Desert, aboard a Long March 2-F rocket. The launch is set for 10:04am ET (14:04pm UTC) Thursday, and live video is available.
This space station, "Heavenly Palace 2," will be China's second after it launched the similarly sized Tiangong-1 laboratory in 2011. Following this week's launch, China plans to send two taikonauts to Tiangong-2 in four to six weeks aboard a Shenzhou-11 spacecraft. They will live there for about a month, testing out the lab's life support systems and performing scientific research. According to China's official news service, Xinhua, those experiments will involve areas of medicine, physics, and biology, as well as quantum key transmission, space atomic clock, and solar storm research.
China has plans within the next decade to send up an even larger space station. This, on top of plans to establish a moon colony, as well.
Also at Spaceflight Now.
North Korea may have just conducted a fifth nuclear test:
A seismic event in North Korea on Friday morning measured by the U.S. Geological Survey with a magnitude of 5.3 appeared to be a nuclear test, South Korea's meteorological agency said. The seismic event was detected near North Korea's known nuclear test site, where it detonated its fourth nuclear device in January.
Bloomberg also has coverage Shallow Earthquake Detected Near North Korea Nuclear Site which goes into some analysis on the political impact of the test.
Separately, Vanity Fair notes None of your snark, please:
The Independent reports that North Korean party officials held several mass meetings across the country in an attempt to warn citizens that criticizing the state via indirect, ironic statements such as "This is all America's fault" would be illegal and "unacceptable." And the consequences for disobeying are particularly unfunny: according to the nonprofit group Liberty in North Korea, any criticism of the government—including, apparently, the North Korean version of "Thanks, Obama"—"is enough to make you and your family 'disappear' from society and end up in a political prison camp."
Even common idioms are not safe from the sarcasm crackdown: Radio Free Asia reported that, during one of the meetings, the party banned the common expression "a fool who cannot see the outside world," which the regime believes constitutes criticism of Kim's refusal to attend international celebrations marking the end of World War II. (Even party officials within the hyper-authoritarian state were reportedly "shocked" by Kim's decision.)
The BBC are reporting an explosion at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where SpaceX company was readying a rocket for launch.
The cause of the blast is not clear and it is not known if anyone was hurt. Nasa said SpaceX was test-firing a rocket which was due to take a satellite into space this weekend.
Pictures from the scene show a huge plume of smoke rising above the Cape Canaveral complex.
The force of the blast shook buildings several miles away.