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World

    The Latest on President Donald Trump addressing the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local): 7:30 p.m. Venezuela's embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, is rejecting President Donald Trump's call for a new day in Venezuela and comparing the tone of the American president's speech in Miami to that of a Nazi. Trump said Monday that the U.S. stands behind opposition leader Juan Guaido and condemns Maduro and his government's socialist policies. Trump pleaded with Venezuela's military to support Guaido and warned of dire consequences for standing with Maduro. Maduro responded to Trump in comments broadcast on state television. He accused the U.S. president of speaking in an 'almost Nazi style' and lashed out at Trump for thinking he can deliver orders to Venezuela's military. Maduro said, 'Who is the commander of the armed forces, Donald Trump from Miami?' and added, 'They think they're the owners of the country.' ___ 5:20 p.m. President Donald Trump says the United States seeks a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela but 'all options are open.' Trump spoke on Monday in Miami about the monthslong political crisis in Venezuela and the dangers of socialism. The U.S. is supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido (gwy-DOH') as the rightful Venezuelan leader over President Nicolas Maduro. Trump says he is asking every member of the Maduro regime to end this 'nightmare' of poverty and death. He says, 'Let your people go. Set your country free.' The Venezuelan military has largely remained loyal to Maduro. Trump says Guaido's government will not seek retribution against them, but if they continue to support Maduro, they will 'lose everything.' South Florida is home to the largest number of Venezuelans in the United States. ___ 5:10 p.m. President Donald Trump says socialism has ravaged Venezuela to the point that even the world's largest oil reserves cannot keep the lights on in the country. Trump spoke on Monday in Miami about the political crisis in Venezuela and the dangers of socialism. Trump welcomed onto the stage the mother of Oscar Perez, a Venezuelan police officer who flew a helicopter over the capital and launched grenades at the Supreme Court building. He and several comrades died in a gun battle with police after months on the lam. The president says the U.S. is 'profoundly grateful to every dissident and every exile.' He says what happened in Venezuela 'will never happen to us.' Trump says a 'new day is coming in Latin America.' ___ 12:25 p.m. President Donald Trump will seek on Monday to rally support among the largest Venezuelan community in the U.S. for opposition leader Juan Guaido (gwy-DOH'), saying Venezuela's 'current path toward democracy is irreversible.' That's according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who says that Trump will use his Miami speech to express 'strong support' for Guaido and condemn President Nicolas Maduro's government and its socialist policies. As the monthslong political crisis continues, Trump is to make a public case to Venezuela's military to support Guaido's government. The Venezuelan military has largely remained loyal to Maduro. Sanders says Trump would warn the Venezuelan military that the U.S. 'knows where military officials and their families have money hidden throughout the world.
  • Mexico will close its infamous Isla Marias prison, the last island penal colony in a hemisphere once dotted with remote island jails like the one depicted in the movie 'Papillon.' President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday that Mexico will relocate about two-thirds of the 659 remaining inmates and free about 200 others from the islands, 70 miles (110 kilometers) off the Pacific coast of Nayarit. The four islands — only one of which is inhabited — will be turned into a cultural and environmental education center. The prison founded in 1905 on Maria Madre passed through periods of infamous brutality. When Panama closed its Isla Coiba penal colony in 2004, Isla Marias became the last one remaining in the Americas. Lopez Obrador said the new Islas Marias cultural center will be named after Jose Revueltas, a novelist who was imprisoned there and wrote the novel 'Walls of Water.' 'It is the history of punishments, of torture, of repression for more than a century,' Lopez Obrador said of the prison, which as recently as 2013 held 8,000 inmates. Far from the bloody reputation of places like Devil's Island — the French Guiana penal colony shuttered in 1946 — toward the end the Islas Marias had harbored many lower-risk or well-behaved inmates for whom the 'prison without walls' was viewed as step toward release or rehabilitation. Some prisoners were even allowed to live their families. While the prison kept mass tourism at bay, the islands suffered severe environmental degradation from over a century of use as a penal colony, said Ramon Ojeda Mestre, who served as from 2000 to 2004 as head of the environmental recovery program for the islands. 'It protected the three uninhabited islands, but Maria Madre suffered a lot of environmental deterioration,' said Ojeda Mestre. Ojeda Mestre's battled to reforest the island with topical hardwoods, which had been largely cut down to build the penal colony and furnish it. He also battle to rid the uninhabited islands of invasive, non-native feral goats, dogs and cats. 'We lost a lot of boa constrictors, because they (inmates) would kill them to make belts out of their skins,' he recalled. (That was one of the many cottage industries that sprang up: inmates also fermented fruit for home-made alcoholic beverages.) Also at risk due to the penal colony was the yellow-headed 'Tres Marias' parrot found nowhere else. 'The inmates captured the parrots to sell them,' he said. 'Their relatives would smuggle them out clandestinely' when they came for visits and sell the birds on the mainland. Ojeda Mestre's battle was part of an early effort to turn the penal colony into a nature reserve, but that plan fell victim in 2005 to what later became known as Mexico's War on Drugs; the government argued it needed more, not less, prison space. In the end, the 12-hour boat rides that relatives had to endure in order to visit inmates was 'cruel,' Ojeda Mestre said, calling the decision to close the prison 'an extraordinary piece of news that should be celebrated throughout the Americas.' Indeed, the hemisphere began turning its back on the isolated prisons decades ago. Chile closed its Santa Maria prison island in the late 1980s, Costa Rica's Isla San Lucas penal colony closed in 1991 and Brazil's Isla Grande in 1994. Peru dramatically ended its El Fronton island prison in 1986: Gunboats blew up most of the buildings to put down a riot, killing more than 100 inmates. Island penal colonies were used around the world starting in the 1700s as remote, escape-proof places to 'rehabilitate' inmates through hard labor. Most also tried to be self-supporting and to help settle remote territories. Mexico's federal prisons are nowhere near capacity, making closure of the island prison more palatable. The government said it costs about $150 a day to house each inmate at Isla Marias, far higher than other jails. The islands are also routinely battered by hurricanes, the last of which caused about $150 million in damage to the prison facilities. The last other such prison in the Americas, Panama's Coiba Island penal colony, was closed in 2005 and turned into to a nature reserve. The jungle is slowly swallowing the buildings, providing a glimpse of what will happen at the Islas Marias. 'The remaining structure is slowly being reclaimed by jungle and the marine air. Its crumbling buildings and simply marked graves serve as the only memorial to Coiba's dark history,' the park says on its web site.
  • Nigeria's president says security forces should be 'ruthless' ahead of the country's postponed election and that anyone who tries to disturb the vote 'will do so at the expense of his own life.' President Muhammadu Buhari spoke Monday as both Nigeria's ruling party and top opposition party condemned the last-minute decision to delay Saturday's vote until Feb. 23. The president's comments brought an outcry from some Nigerians since he signed a pledge last week to contribute to a peaceful election. But a ruling party chieftain in Rivers state, Eze Chukwuemeka, said the comments didn't endorse 'jungle justice, as some people are putting it. As leader, you don't sit down and watch while your nation is going down the drain.' The electoral commission has allowed election campaigning to resume.
  • The final full day of London Fashion Week featured a stellar show by Christopher Kane, who embraced his favorite theme — sensuality. Pringle of Scotland returned to the London stage with its signature luxury knitwear, while Erdem showed dramatic, full-length dresses and shorter cape outfits. The fashion crowd recovered from a late-night party David and Victoria Beckham threw to celebrate her new collection. The soiree featured a Spice Girls tribute band in drag paying homage to the designer's pop star past. CHRISTOPHER KANE FINDS SOLACE IN SEXUAL THEMES Last season's theme was 'sexual cannibalism'; on Monday, Christopher Kane made the 'rubberist' fetish a focal point of his new collection. It's best not to ask too many questions of the cheerful, increasingly popular designer, who earlier built a show around 'The Joy of Sex', a book first published in 1972 that is illustrated with graphic drawings. The Monday show was eclectic in the extreme. Many models wore what Kane called 'large cupcake skirts.' They were short and somewhat structured and paired with low-cut tops or partially sheer body suits. The pieces were imaginative and revealing: a sweater dress that transitioned into a gauzy fabric as it neared the waist; a lime-green feathery mini-dress; and a regal, dark blue dress with metallic neck decorations that looked like something Cleopatra might have worn. Kane likes to pair elegant, well-made dresses with slouchy items like tee shirts, in this show often emblazoned with a red 'Rubberist' logo. 'This show is called 'liquid ladies,'' Kane told the Associated Press. 'It's all about the essence of women, of strong women, the fluidity of women. For me, I've been around these liquid ladies my whole life. Strength, character. They aren't really empowered, they're empowered by themselves.' He said the show was also about human sexuality and the obsessions that go with it; hence, the rubber fetish wear theme. 'Sex is fun and it should be,' Kane said. 'And people find rubber sexual. That's OK, too.' ___ ERDEM MAKES SPLASH WITH DRAMATIC DRESSES, CAPES Canada-born designer Erdem Moralioglu used his runway extravaganza Monday to transform London's venerable National Portrait Gallery into a Roman palace, seeking to use his dramatic full-length dresses and shorter cape outfits to capture the mood of 1960s Rome. The designer wanted to illuminate the moment when liberation movements of all kinds collided with the entrenched, conservative culture of the Italian capital's upper classes. The show drew a celebrity crowd that included American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, designer and model Alexa Chung and married actors Damian Lewis — dressed in a bright blue suit that lit up the front row — and Helen McCrory. Some of the elaborate dresses were masterful and complex, the product of painstaking attention to detail and untold hours of labor. The color mix was striking: a red and black floral blouse, for example, mixed with a purple and black skirt. ___ PRINGLE OF SCOTLAND OFFERS TIMELESS GOOD TASTE Pringle of Scotland is more than two centuries old, but the collection unveiled Monday shows carefully made luxury knitwear never goes out of style. After a series of runway shows filled with razzle-dazzle and a 'Can you top this?' approach, Pringle offered an oasis of calm and good taste with its beautifully crafted outfits. Many of the new outfits feature a single color — white or beige or grey — for the trousers, the top, and a hat. Sometimes the boots match, too. Each outfit has a refreshing coherence and simplicity to the design, even if it's hard to execute. But the show planners were nearly undone by their failure to anticipate the ice sculptures placed on the runways for dramatic effect would slowly melt, leaving puddles where the models were supposed to walk. As the show's start time came and went, a man in a white Pringle lab coat came out with paper towels to mop up the puddles as best he could. The models were told to swerve to avoid the wet spots. Only one slipped, and she regained her balance before she tumbled.
  • Refusing to back down amid a mounting battle over Venezuela's humanitarian crisis, the government of President Nicolas Maduro announced Monday that it will hold its own huge concert to rival one being organized by billionaire Richard Branson, a backer of opposition leader Juan Guaido. Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the government will throw a concert Saturday and Sunday on Venezuela's side of the border — opposite one in Colombia being spearheaded by Branson, the wealthy British adventurer and founder of the Virgin Group. Stepping up the standoff, Rodriguez also promised to deliver 20,000 boxes of government-subsidized food to the poor in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where tons of aid from the United States is now sitting earmarked for struggling Venezuelans. Maduro is vowing not to let the U.S. aid enter Venezuela, and he announced on state television Monday evening that his government would import 300 tons of aid from Russia that he said will arrive soon. He said Venezuela paid for the Russian goods and isn't a country of beggars, lashing out at President Donald Trump for thinking he can force in unwanted assistance. 'They want to enslave us,' Maduro said. 'That's the truth.' The rival bids for aid and concerts to shore up support are part of a tense bid by both Maduro and the opposition to break a monthlong stalemate over power in Venezuela. Maduro is holding on with the military's backing and relying on powerful allies like Russia in a conflict with increasingly Cold War-like dimensions. Guaido, meanwhile, is relying on the support of the international community, including the United States, and powerful cultural allies, like Branson. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Branson said Monday that he hopes the concert he is throwing will save lives by raising money for 'much-needed medical help' for crisis-torn Venezuela, which is suffering from hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine. He said he is aiming to raise $100 million for suffering Venezuelans and open the borders to emergency aid. Up to 300,000 people are expected to attend Friday's concert featuring Spanish-French singer Manu Chao, Mexican band Mana, Spanish singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz and Dominican artist Juan Luis Guerra. Branson said that it is not funded by any government and that all the artists are performing for free. The plan is to raise donations from viewers watching the concert on a livestream over the internet. 'Venezuela sadly has not become the utopia that the current administration of Venezuela or the past administration were hoping for, and that has resulted in a lot of people literally dying from lack of medical help,' Branson told AP in a telephone interview from Necker, his private island in the British Virgin Islands. 'I think it will draw attention to the problem on a global basis.' The concert is being held in Cucuta, a city of some 700,000 people that has been swollen by hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have fled hardships in their homeland. Branson said he hopes that Venezuela's armed forces, until now loyal to Maduro, will allow the aid to reach Venezuelans. 'We want to make it a joyous occasion,' Branson said in his first interview since he announced the concert on a brief video posted online last week. 'And we're hoping that sense prevails and that the military allows the bridge to be open so that much-needed supplies can be sent across.' He said he opposes trying to carry the aid in by force, but clearly favors Guaido in his standoff with Maduro. 'I don't personally feel that force should be used at all by either side,' he said. 'If they (Venezuelan troops) stop the aid coming through and there are pictures of hundreds of thousands of people wanting to come through from both sides, that will send out a potent message, a very powerful message to Venezuela, to everybody, that there is aid that is trying to get across, but the army is stopping it,' Branson said. 'That hopefully will mean that Juan Guaido and his people will have a better chance to have another election where sense can prevail.' Guaido, who heads Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress, declared himself interim president Jan. 23 with the backing of the United States and most South American and European nations, which argue that Maduro's re-election last May was fraudulent. Guaido has announced that humanitarian aid will enter Venezuela on Saturday, the day after Branson's concert. Branson said the initiative follows his involvement with Live Aid and years of work with 'The Elders,' a group of elder statesmen and political leaders that he helped establish to avoid conflict and assist in humanitarian situations. 'I talked to Juan Guaido, and the team, the people around him, to see what could be most helpful,' Branson said. 'And they said that the thing that Venezuela needed the most was medical help in particular, money to be raised to try to keep doctors and nurses in Venezuela, not leaving Venezuela, and just basic medical help.' Meanwhile, Guaido said the move by Maduro's government to put on a rival concert was 'desperate.' 'They're debating whether the aid should come in or not ... They don't know what to do,' Guaido said Monday. 'They're now making up a concert. How many concerts are they going to stage?' ___ Associated Press writers Christine Armario, Jorge Rueda, Scott Smith and Joshua Goodman contributed to this report. ___ Luis Andres Henao on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LuisAndresHenao
  • Businesses and government offices slowly reopened across Haiti on Monday after more than a week of violent demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise over skyrocketing prices that have more than doubled for basic goods amid allegations of government corruption. Public transportation resumed in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where people began lining up to buy food, water and gasoline as crews cleared streets of barricades thrown up during the protests. Moise has refused to step down, though his prime minister, Jean-Henry Ceant, said over the weekend that he has agreed to reduce certain government budgets by 30 percent, limit travel of government officials and remove all non-essential privileges they enjoy, including phone cards. Ceant also vowed to investigate alleged misspending tied to a Venezuelan program that provided Haiti with subsidized oil and said he has requested that a court audit all state-owned enterprises. He also said he would increase the minimum wage and lower the prices of basic goods, although he did not provide specifics. Many Haitians remained wary of those promises, and schools remained closed on Monday amid concerns of more violence. 'The government is making statements that are not changing anything at this point,' said Hector Jean, a moto taxi driver who was waiting for customers. He recently had to buy a gallon of gas for 500 gourdes ($6), more than twice what he normally pays, and he has been unable to find customers who can afford to pay higher fares. 'It's very hard to bring something home,' he said. 'I have three kids.' Other goods in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation have also doubled in price in recent weeks: A sack of rice now costs $18 and a can of dry beans around $7. In addition, a gallon of cooking oil has gone up to nearly $11 from $7. Inflation has been in the double digits since 2014, and the price hikes are angering many people in Haiti, where about 60 per cent of its nearly 10.5 million people struggle to get by on about $2 a day. A recent report by the U.S. Agency for International Development said about half the country is undernourished. Dozens of people on Monday stood outside a financial services company waiting to pick up money transfers from relatives abroad. Among them was 35-year-old Andre Simon, a taxi driver who had been standing in line for at least three hours and has been unable to work for more than a week. 'I don't have anything at home,' said Simon, who drives a small, brightly colored truck known as a tap-tap. 'I need that money badly.' The latest violent demonstrations prompted the U.S. government to warn people last week not to travel to Haiti as it urged Moise's administration to implement economic reforms and redouble efforts to fight corruption and hold accountable those implicated in the scandal over the Venezuelan subsidized oil program, known as Petrocaribe. A Haitian Senate investigation has alleged embezzlement by at least 14 former officials in ex-President Michel Martelly's administration, but no one has been charged. Meanwhile, Haitians have demanded a probe into the spending of the $3.8 billion Haiti received as part of the Petrocaribe program. 'Corruption goes unpunished, and people are just really tired of it,' said Athena Kolbe, a human rights researcher who has worked in Haiti. 'I can't imagine that things are going to calm down.' She said she doesn't believe claims that opposition leaders are behind the demonstrations or that people are being paid to protest as has happened in previous years given the incredible number of people that have taken to the streets in recent days. However, Kolbe warned that even if Moise were forced to step down, it would not resolve one of Haiti's underlying issues: how to address corruption. 'People are just kind of exhausted with the business elite running the country and retaining control and not knowing where public funds are going,' she said. Martelly hand-picked Moise in 2015 to be the candidate for the ruling Tet Kale party even though the businessman from northern Haiti had never run for office. Moise was sworn in as president in February 2017 for a five-year term and promised to fight corruption and bring investment and jobs to one of the least developed nations in the world. His swearing-in marked Haiti's return to constitutional rule a year after Martelly left office without an elected successor amid waves of opposition protests and a political stalemate that led to suspended elections. Moise's administration previously set off deadly protests in July when officials abruptly announced double-digit increases in the prices for gasoline, diesel and kerosene as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to eliminate fuel subsidies and boost government revenue. At least seven people died in those protests, which also forced Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant to resign after facing a no-confidence vote in parliament. ___ Associated Press writer Evens Sanon reported this story in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and AP writer Danica Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • A complex of ancient temples in Rome that are linked to the scene of Julius Caesar's murder will be opened to the public. The below-street-level temple ruins at Largo Argentina in downtown Rome is visible to pedestrians peering from above but closed to visitors. For decades, access was enjoyed only by a colony of cats, the cadre of volunteers fed them and, occasionally, archaeologists. But Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi announced Monday that by late 2021, walkways will be built inside the site so tourists can stroll through the ruins. Luxury Bulgari jewelry-maker, which also funded the restoration of Rome's Spanish Steps, is sponsoring the work. The ruins include a stone pedestal from the Curia of Pompey, the meeting place of senators, where Caesar was slain in 44 B.C.
  • President Donald Trump on Monday pleaded with Venezuela's military to support opposition leader Juan Guaido and issued a dire warning if they continue to stand with President Nicolas Maduro's government. 'You will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything,' Trump said in a speech at Florida International University in Miami before large American and Venezuelan flags. Trump added: 'We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open.' The Venezuelan military could play a decisive role in the stalemate but has largely remained loyal to Maduro. In remarks broadcast on state television, Maduro accused the U.S. president of speaking in an 'almost Nazi style' and lashed out at Trump for thinking he can deliver orders to Venezuela's military. 'Who is the commander of the armed forces, Donald Trump from Miami?' Maduro said. 'They think they're the owners of the country.' Trump said 'a new day is coming in Latin America,' as he sought to rally support among the largest Venezuelan community in the U.S. for Guaido. The U.S. recognizes him as the country's rightful president and condemns Maduro's government and its socialist policies. As the monthslong political crisis stretched on, the military has blocked the U.S. from moving tons of humanitarian aid airlifted in recent days to the Colombian border with Venezuela. The aid shipments have been meant in part to dramatize the hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine that are gripping Venezuela. Trump said of Maduro, 'He would rather see his people starve than give them aid.' Critics say Maduro's re-election last year was fraudulent, making his second term illegal. Venezuela's power struggle is headed to a potentially violent showdown Saturday, when Guaido will try to run caravans of U.S. humanitarian aid across the Venezuelan border from Colombia. Maduro denies a humanitarian crisis exists, blaming the Trump administration for mounting a coup against him. More than 2 million Venezuelans have fled the country in the last two years, most flooding across the border into Colombia, Brazil and Peru. Those left behind struggle to afford scarce supplies of food and medicine as inflation soars.  Maduro maintains support from Russia, China and Turkey, while Guaido has won recognition from dozens of world leaders in Latin America and Europe, who are demanding that Maduro holds new elections or steps down.  So far, Maduro isn't budging. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Maduro said Venezuela is ready to make an economic rebound once Trump removes his 'infected hand' from the country that sits atop the world's largest petroleum reserves. Trump urged the Venezuelan military to accept Guaido's offer of amnesty and refrain from violence against those opposing Maduro's government. And he praised the Venezuelan opposition, saying of the people of Venezuela, 'They are turning the page on dictatorship and there will be no going back.' White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said earlier Monday that the U.S. 'knows where military officials and their families have money hidden throughout the world.' South Florida is home to more than 100,000 Venezuelans and Venezuelan-Americans, the largest concentration in the country. Speaking in the presidential battleground state, Trump also sought to draw a contrast with the policies of progressive Democrats, which he brands as 'socialist,' as he gears up for re-election. Trump said that 'socialism has so completely ravaged' Venezuela 'that even the world's largest reserves of oil are not enough to keep the lights on.' He added: 'This will never happen to us.' 'Socialism promises prosperity, but it delivers poverty,' he said. Trump was introduced by first lady Melania Trump and joined by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, who have all been outspoken in their criticism of Maduro's government. Trump also spoke of the socialist governments in Cuba and Nicaragua, which have large expatriate communities in the Miami area. 'Socialism is dying and liberty, prosperity and democracy are being reborn' throughout the hemisphere, Trump said, expressing hope that soon, 'This will become the first free hemisphere in all of human history.' In Cuba, the foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, tweeted that he considered 'offensive' Trump's speech and that it 'confirms the threat of military aggression against Venezuela.' He added, 'Humanitarian aid is a pretext for a war.' Shortly after Trump ended his speech, he tweeted, 'I ask every member of the Maduro regime: End this nightmare of poverty, hunger and death. LET YOUR PEOPLE GO. Set your country free! Now is the time for all Venezuelan Patriots to act together, as one united people. Nothing could be better for the future of Venezuela!' Guaido addressed the crowd in a pre-recorded video released by the White House and thanked Trump and the state of Florida for their support. 'Now there is a debate between the democracy and dictatorship — one between life and death,' Guaido said in Spanish. 'Today this fight is existential.' Trump said the U.S. is 'profoundly grateful' to dissidents and exiles who have protested and raised alarms about the actions of the Maduro government. But his administration has also come under criticism for not doing enough to grant asylum to those fleeing the country. 'President Trump is two-faced on the Venezuela issue,' said Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo. 'He talks about fighting the Maduro regime, but his administration keeps deporting and detaining Venezuelans fleeing repression from the Maduro regime.' Trump had been spending the holiday weekend at his private club in West Palm Beach, Florida. ___ Associated Press writer Scott Smith in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this report.
  • The Vatican says a Holy See lawyer who appeared on a list of American priests credibly accused of sexual abuse isn't currently at the Catholic church's supreme court, where he holds a top position. Monsignor Joseph Punderson was listed by the diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, last week as having been removed from ministry. The diocese identified Punderson as a one-time diocesan vice chancellor whose final assignment was at the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican court that hears appeals of marriage annulments, among other issues. Asked Monday about Punderson's status, Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said: 'He is not at the Signatura tribunal in this moment.' He did not elaborate. The Vatican's yearbook lists Punderson as the 'defender of the bond,' the official who seeks to uphold a marriage's validity in annulment cases.
  • A man living in northeast England has been charged under Britain's terrorism laws with attempting to incite a car, knife and bomb attack in Germany. Fatah Mohammed Abdullah, a 33-year-old from Newcastle, was charged Monday with encouraging another person to plow a car into crowds in Germany, attack people with a meat cleaver and detonate bombs, 'with the aim of killing and/or causing serious injury.' The incitement allegedly took place between April 9 and Dec. 11, 2018. He was arrested after a joint investigation by British and German police and is due to appear in a London court on Wednesday.