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The Latest Headlines From Around the World

    Greece's highest court has imposed severe restrictions on the movements of one of eight Turkish servicemen who have applied for asylum in Greece after fleeing Turkey following a failed 2016 coup there, while he waits for a decision on his asylum application. The Council of State ruled that the officer will remain at an undisclosed address, must appear daily at a local police station and cannot obtain travel documents until his asylum application is determined in May. Courts had initially granted him asylum, but suspended the decision following a Greek government appeal. The eight helicopter crewmen, who deny involvement in the attempted putsch, have become a bone of contention in increasingly souring Greek-Turkish relations. Turkey demands they be returned as coup plotters, but Greek courts have rejected the extradition requests.
  • Russia has joined the European Union, India and China in demanding compensation from the United States for its tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum. The World Trade Organization's web site posted Thursday a filing from Russia that, like other countries, argues that the tariffs that took effect March 23 amount to a 'safeguard' measure aimed to protect U.S. domestic producers from surging imports. The Trump administration has rejected those arguments and says the measures are for national security reasons. It is unclear, however, what Russia's move means in practice. It did not go so far as to appeal to the WTO's dispute settlement process over the tariffs. Under WTO rules, the only way to find out whether Russia is entitled to compensation is by initiating a dispute on the issue. Russia has never issued a WTO dispute complaint against the U.S. since Russia joined the trade body in 2012. So far, China is the only country that has done so over the blanket tariffs on imports of the metals, though India has asked to sit in on its talks with the United States on the issue. Longtime U.S. allies including Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Australia and the EU have won temporary exemptions from application of the tariffs, pending talks with the United States.
  • Another member of the Swedish Academy awarding the Nobel Literature Prize said Thursday she is resigning, bringing the total number of board members who are quitting the prestigious institution to six. Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden's largest newspapers, said writer Lotta Lotass formally asked to leave the secretive 18-member board hit by turmoil amid a scandal centering on sexual misconduct allegations against a man married to board member Katarina Frostenson. Frostenson and the board's permanent secretary, Sara Danius, stepped down last week. Their departure came after three male members — Klas Ostergren, Kjell Espmark and Peter Englund —earlier resigned because the board refused to heed their call to remove Frostenson. Sweden's king — the academy's patron, who must approve any of its secret votes —said Wednesday he wants to change the academy's rules to cope with the resignation of its members, who are appointed for life. King Carl XVI Gustav said he has begun a consultation with the academy to discuss the issue. Lotass said the monarch had made an 'an urgent and wise intervention,' according to Dagens Nyheter. 'My faith in the academy as an institution is intact,' Lotass told the daily. Her departure came hours ahead of a planned demonstration outside the Swedish Academy in downtown Stockholm to demand that all board members resign. The event, organized through social media, calls on women to wear blouses with pussy bow ties similar to those worn by Danius, the board's former chief. Many in Sweden are outraged by what appears to be women paying the price for the alleged misbehavior of Frostenson's husband, Jean-Claude Arnault, a leading cultural figure in Sweden. Eighteen women allege Arnault assaulted or raped them from 1996 to 2017 — claims Arnault denies. Allegations have also surfaced accusing Arnault of repeatedly leaking Nobel winners' names. Sweden's king and the Nobel Foundation Board have said the scandal was threatening to tarnish the reputation of the Nobel Prize. ___ Olsen reported from Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Hundreds of Syrian rebels in a town northeast of Damascus handed in their weapons and boarded buses to leave under an evacuation deal, state media reported on Thursday. Fighters were to relocate with their families to opposition-held areas in northern Syria, effectively surrendering their town of Dumayr to the Syrian government. The departure was set to involve 1,500 fighters from the Army of Islam rebel faction with 3,500 of their family members, said the state-run SANA news agency. Their destination was Jarablus, a town shared under Turkish and Syrian opposition control near the Syria-Turkey border. Dumayr, in the Qalamoun mountains, is a minutes' drive away from the eastern Ghouta region, a former rebel enclave that came under full government control last week after a driving offensive that culminated in a suspected chemical weapons attack. Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were still not able to reach the scene, 12 days after the suspected attack. The April 7 attack prompted the United States, France, and Britain to strike at suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities. The three countries said they held the Syrian government and its ally Russia responsible for the attack. Damascus and Moscow denied responsibility. A U.N. security team touring the sites of the alleged attack on Tuesday, was shot at and subjected to a blast, said OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu. The security team was supposed to give the all-clear for OPCW inspectors to follow, but their visit was put on hold pending the security situation, Uzumcu added. Journalists visited Douma, where the suspected attack took place, a day before the U.N. security team. They were not exposed to any weapons fire. Associated Press journalists spoke to witnesses who said they were overwhelmed by the smell of chlorine and experienced fainting during the April 7 assault. First responders released videos purporting to show fatalities from the attack — lifeless bodies collapsed in an apartment, with foam around their mouths, a sign of asphyxiation. The Army of Islam, which controlled Douma at the time of the attack, surrendered the town to the government days later. Also Thursday, neighboring Iraq launched airstrikes inside Syria targeting militants from the Islamic State group. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office said Iraqi fighter jets launched 'lethal' airstrikes against the extremists in an area along the Syria-Iraq border. The statement said the militants posed a threat to Iraq, without providing further details. Syrian and Iraqi forces have driven IS from nearly all the territory the group once held, but the extremists have maintained a presence in the remote desert areas along the border. Iraq has carried out airstrikes in Syria against the group in the past. ___ Associated Press writer Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad contributed to this report.
  • The last of Queen Elizabeth’s corgis was put to sleep after a long struggle with cancer, The Daily Mail reported. The dog, Willow, was nearly 15. >> Read more trending news That means that for the first time since World War II, the Queen, 91, does not have a corgi in her household. Monty Roberts told Vanity Fair she didn’t want to have any more young dogs after 2012 because she didn’t want to “leave any behind,” Time magazine reported. Willow also was part of the Queen’s official 90th birthday portrait in 2016, Time reported. The dog died a week before Elizabeth’s 92nd birthday Willow is one of the Pembroke Welsh corgis that Elizabeth has owned, The New York Times reported. Her first corgi, Susan, was given to her as an 18th birthday present in 1944, the Times reported.  According to Vanity Fair, Elizabeth, then a princess, became so enamored with Susan that she sneaked the dog with her and Prince Philip on their honeymoon in 1947. All of the corgis Elizabeth has owned since then are descendants of Susan, the Times reported. Willow was believed to be part of the 14th generation of dogs descended from Susan.
  • Sirens wailed, church bells tolled and yellow paper daffodils of remembrance dotted the crowd as Polish and Jewish leaders extolled the heroism and determination of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fighters on the 75th anniversary of their ill-fated rebellion. Polish President Andrzej Duda and World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said the hundreds of young Jews who took to arms in Warsaw in 1943 against the overwhelming might of the Nazi German army fought for their dignity but also to liberate Poland from the occupying Germans. The revolt ended in death for most of the fighters, yet left behind an enduring symbol of resistance. 'We bow our heads low to their heroism, their bravery, their determination and courage,' Duda told the hundreds of officials, Holocaust survivors and Warsaw residents who gathered Thursday at the city's Monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes. 'Most of them died ... as they fought for dignity, freedom and also for Poland, because they were Polish citizens,' Duda said. Lauder said Jews, Poles and all people should stand together to make sure that future generations do not go through a horror like the Holocaust and the Warsaw ghetto's struggle 75 years ago. People stopped in the street and officials stood at attention as sirens wailed and church bells tolled at noon to mourn for the Jews who died in the uprising, as well as the millions of other Jews murdered in the Holocaust. The daffodils tradition comes from Marek Edelman, the last surviving commander of the uprising, who on every anniversary used to lay the spring flowers at the monument to the fighters. He died in 2009. At a separate ceremony at Warsaw's Town Hall, three Holocaust survivors — Helena Birenbaum, Krystyna Budnicka and Marian Turski — were given honorary citizenship of the city. In addition to the official observances, hundreds of other people attended an emotional, 'independent' commemoration by Poles furious at a conservative government that seems to tolerate anti-Semitic views despite its official denunciations of anti-Semitism. Open Republic, an association that fights anti-Semitism and xenophobia, organized the ceremony in contrast to what it called the 'hollow nationalist pomp' of the government, recalling how the prime minister earlier this year paid tribute to a Polish wartime insurgency unit that had collaborated with the Nazis. Their observances began with Yiddish singing and daffodils placed at the monument to a Jewish envoy in London, Szmul Zygielbojm, who committed suicide after the revolt was crushed to protest the world's indifference to the Holocaust. Signs of rising nationalism in Poland have strengthened the resolve of those seeking reconciliation. This year a record 2,000 volunteers were handing out the paper daffodils, which have become a moving symbol of Christian Poles expressing their sorrow at the loss of a Jewish community that was Europe's largest before the Holocaust. 'I feel this is my responsibility and do it with all my heart,' said Barbara Sekulska, 76, who joined the mostly younger volunteers. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising broke out April 19, 1943, when about 750 young Jewish fighters armed with just pistols and fuel bottles attacked a much larger and heavily armed German force that was putting an end to the ghetto's existence. In their last testaments they said they knew they were doomed but wanted to die in struggle, at a time and place of their own choosing. They held out nearly a month, longer than some German-invaded countries did. The Germans razed the Warsaw Ghetto and killed most of the fighters, except for a few dozen who managed to escape through sewage canals to the 'Aryan' side of the city, Edelman among them. Major celebrations were also held in Israel to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of that nation in 1948.
  • An earthquake of at least magnitude 5.5 struck in southern Iran near the country's sole nuclear power plant on Thursday morning, shaking countries across the Persian Gulf. There was no immediate report of damage or injuries. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck at 0634 GMT some 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Bushehr. That's home to the Bushehr Nuclear Power, the only operating nuclear power plant in the Islamic Republic. The USGS put the earthquake's magnitude at 5.5 while Iranian state television, citing officials, described the quake as a magnitude 5.9. Varying magnitudes are common immediately after a temblor. Iranian state TV, which put the earthquake's epicenter near the town of Kaki, did not report any damage at Bushehr plant, which has seen other earthquakes in the past and is built to resist damage from a temblor. Authorities later said the quake did not affect routine operations at the plant, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. The Iran Red Crescent described the epicenter as being in a sparsely populated area. In Bahrain, an island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia, people said they felt the quake and evacuated from high-rise buildings. Some in Qatar also felt the quake and evacuated tall buildings in Doha's West Bay area. People in Kuwait City also felt the temblor. The USGS put the earthquake's depth at 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) below the surface. Shallow earthquakes often have broader damage. A magnitude 5 earthquake can cause considerable damage. Iran sits on major fault lines and is prone to near-daily earthquakes. In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people. Bam is near the Bushehr nuclear plant, which wasn't damaged at that time. In November, a major 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck a mountainous region of Iran near the Iraqi border, killing over 530 people and injuring thousands in Iran alone. In Iraq, nine people were killed and 550 were injured, all in the country's northern Kurdish region. ___ Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Hussain al-Qatari in Kuwait City contributed to this report.
  • California reached an agreement with the federal government that the state's National Guard troops will deploy to the border to focus on fighting transnational gangs as well as drug and gun smugglers, Gov. Jerry Brown said. The announcement comes after a week of uncertainty in which President Donald Trump bashed the governor's insistence that troops avoid immigration-related work. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote on Twitter that final details were still being worked out 'but we are looking forward to the support.' Brown said Wednesday he secured federal funding for terms similar to those outlined in last week's proposed contract: The Guard cannot handle custody duties for anyone accused of immigration violations, build border barriers or have anything to do with immigration enforcement. Federal officials refused to sign the proposal because they said it was outside established protocol for the Guard. Brown's office said Wednesday that the previous contract was unnecessary after he secured federal funding for his goals. Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said the exact cost hasn't been determined. Some troops may be deployed this month and are expected to stay until at least Sept. 30, Brown said. They will be assigned to all parts of the state, not just the border. Brown elicited rare and effusive praise from Trump last week when he pledged 400 troops, which helped put the president above the lower end of his threshold of marshaling 2,000 to 4,000 troops for his border mission. Federal officials said Monday that Brown refused to commit California Guard troops to some initial jobs that were similar to assignments in the three other border states — Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — all governed by Republicans. Trump bashed Brown's position two days in a row, even as the governor said a deal was near. 'There's been a little bit of back and forth, as you always get with bureaucrats but I think we can find common understanding here,' Brown said Tuesday in Washington. 'There's enough problems at the border and the interface between our countries that California will have plenty to do — and we're willing to do it.' Nielsen, appearing alongside Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to thank him for contributing 440 troops, said Wednesday there were 1,000 troops deployed on the border mission and that number is growing. She said they were performing aerial surveillance and vehicle repairs.
  • Community leaders from the Christian ethnic Kachin community have called for urgent medical attention for about 2,000 civilians, including pregnant women and the elderly, trapped in the jungle where they fled to escape clashes between the Myanmar's army and the Kachin guerrillas in the country's north. The latest fighting in Kachin state's Tanai region — an area known for amber and gold mining — began in early April with government shelling and airstrikes in response to threats by the rebel Kachin Independence Army to retake lost territory. The Rev. Mung Dan, a Baptist community leader, said Wednesday the civilians trapped without medicine or sufficient food include five pregnant women, two women who just gave birth, 93 old people, and other villagers wounded by mortar shelling. They are 'in dire need of medical treatment as well as rations,' he said by phone. 'Even today, it's been raining the whole day in our region and these civilians do not have any shelter yet and they are suffering from sickness as well,' he added. A non-governmental organization based in Kachin state has sent an open letter to the Kachin State Minister on Wednesday, asking for the permission to rescue civilians but the permission has not been granted yet. 'We have been asking permission to rescue people who are trapped in the jungle and they are in a very critical condition,' said Awng Ja, a member of Kachin State Women Network, which helps displaced women. 'But the state minister said only if the military granted us access, we can rescue these civilians.' Rights and aids groups said the Myanmar government and the military have dramatically increased restrictions on humanitarian assistance to some 100,000 displaced people. The government has denied virtually denied all access for the United Nations and other international humanitarian groups. Some civilian have already been killed by the government's offensive, the Kachin say. 'At least three civilians were killed by the army's mortar shells and airstrikes in three different places since April 11,' said Naw Bu, the head of the information department of the Kachin Independence Organization, the political organization to which the Kachin Independence Army is affiliated. The Kachin Independence Army, like other ethnic minority armed groups, has been fighting on and off for decades against the central government for greater autonomy. Combat between the Kachin rebels and the government military resumed in 2011, ending a 17-year ceasefire agreement. The clashes have left hundreds dead and more than 100,000 civilians displaced. Myanmar's military has long been accused of grave human rights violations against ethnic minority groups in different parts of the country. Most recently, it has been accused of abuses against the Muslim ethnic Rohingya minority in the western state of Rakhine that critics say amounts to 'ethnic cleansing,' as violent counter-insurgency sweeps by the army helped drive about 700,000 Rohingya across the border to neighboring Bangladesh, where they stay in refugee camps.
  • The lights dimmed and the crowd of men and women erupted into applause and hoots as Hollywood's blockbuster 'Black Panther' premiered in Saudi Arabia's first movie theater. Though it was a private, invitation-only screening on Wednesday evening, for many Saudis it marked one of the clearest moments of change to sweep the country in decades. It's seen as part of a new era in which women will soon be allowed to drive and people in the kingdom will be able to go to concerts and fashion shows, and tuck into a bucket of popcorn in a cinema. 'It's a new era, a new age. It's that simple. Things are changing, progress is happening. We're opening up and we're catching up with everything that's happening in the world,' said Rahaf Alhendi, who attended the showing. Authorities said the public would be able to purchase tickets online on Thursday for showings starting Friday. But there may be delays. Movies screened in Saudi cinemas will be subject to approval by government censors, and Wednesday night's premiere was no exception. Scenes of violence were not cut, but a final scene involving a kiss was axed. Still, it's a stark reversal for a country where public movie screenings were banned in the 1980s during a wave of ultraconservatism that swept Saudi Arabia. Many Saudi clerics view Western movies and even Arabic films made in Egypt and Lebanon as sinful. Despite decades of ultraconservative dogma, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed through a number of major social reforms with support from his father, King Salman, to satiate the desires of the country's majority young population. 'This is a historic day for your country,' Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Entertainment, told the crowd at the screening. 'It's been about 37 years since you've been able to watch movies the way movies are meant to be watched in a theater, together on a big screen.' U.S.-based AMC, one of the world's biggest movie theater operators, only two weeks earlier signed a deal with Prince Mohammed to operate the first cinema in the kingdom. AMC and its local partner hurriedly transformed a concert hall in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, into a cinema complex for Wednesday's screening. Aron said the company plans to rip out the current concert-style seats and replace them with plush leather recliners and build three more screens in the complex to accommodate up to 5,000 movie-goers a day. Samer Alsourani traveled from Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province for the event. He commended the crown prince for following through on his promises to modernize the country. 'This is the first time that we really see something that's really being materialized,' he said. The social reforms undertaken by the 32-year-old heir to the throne are part of his so-called Vision 2030, a blueprint for Saudi Arabia that aims to boost local spending and create jobs amid sustained lower oil prices. The Saudi government projects that the opening of movie theaters will contribute more than 90 billion riyals ($24 billion) to the economy and create more than 30,000 jobs by 2030. The kingdom says there will be 300 cinemas with around 2,000 screens built by 2030. AMC has partnered with a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, known as the Public Investment Fund, to build up to 40 AMC cinemas across the country over the next five years. Saudi Arabia had already started gradually loosening restrictions on movie screenings in the past few years, with local film festivals and screenings in makeshift theaters. For the most part, though, until now Saudis who wanted to watch a film in a movie theater had to drive to nearby Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates for weekend trips to the cinema. In the 1970s, there were informal movie screenings but the experience could be interrupted by the country's religious police, whose powers have since been curbed. Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi writer, describes the theaters of the 1970s as being 'like American drive-ins, except much more informal.' In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, he wrote that a friend once broke his leg at a screening in Medina when he jumped off a wall to escape the religious police and avoid arrest. By the 1980s, movie screenings were largely banned unless they took place in private residential compounds for foreigners or at cultural centers run by foreign embassies. Access to streaming services, such as Netflix, and satellite TV steadily eroded attempts by the government to censor what the Saudi public could view. By 2013, the film 'Wadjda' made history by becoming the first Academy Award entry for Saudi Arabia, though it wasn't nominated for the Oscars. To adhere to the kingdom's norms on gender segregation, certain screenings may be held for families and others for male-only crowds. But, generally movie theaters will not be gender segregated with 'family sections' for women and related men and separate 'single sections' for male-only crowds as is customary at restaurants and cafes. Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Alawwad told The Associated Press the government aims to strike a balance between the country's Islamic mores and people's movie experiences. 'We want to ensure the movies are in line with our culture and respect for values. Meanwhile, we want to provide people with a beautiful show and really enjoy watching their own movies,' he said. The new movie theater also came equipped with prayer rooms to accommodate the daily Muslim prayer times. ___ Associated Press writer Malak Harb in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, contributed to this report. ___ Aya Batrawy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ayaelb .

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A suspect hiding from Pasco County deputies in a swamp after a high-speed chase was arrested covered in slobbery kisses instead of a bite from their K9.  The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office sent out an alert to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office after they say Paul Daniel Smith, 34, resisted arrest and battered a deputy. He took off in a Ford F150.  Deputy Marc Lane spotted the vehicle on US 41 and went after him.  Smith eventually stopped and ran into a heavily wooded, swampy area. With the help of their K9 bloodhound Knox, deputies tracked Smith down through the swamp, finding him stuck in thick mud with water up to his neck. “Stop resisting,” the deputies can be heard saying in the video posted to Facebook. (Facebook) As they try to get Smith out of the mud, instead of biting, Knox covers his face in wet, doggy kisses. Knox’s specialty is finding people, from missing children to wanted men. Smith is facing several charges including aggravated assault and violation of probation. As for Knox, he’s been rewarded for a job well done with his favorite treat: cheese.
  • Have you seen this guy? (tweet) Orlando police need your help in identifying the man who is suspected of attacking an elderly gentleman in the parking lot of the Lake Fredrica Shopping Center on Semoran Boulevard and Lake Margaret Drive. Witnesses say the suspect, a man in his 20s, stood in front of the car of the victim and blocked him from being able to drive away. When the elderly victim got out to confront him, the suspect punched him once, knocking the victim out cold. 'One punch that was all it took,” witness Jennifer Pola tells WKMG. “He hit him dead in the temple, boom. He was out for at least two minutes.' When police arrived, they found the victim, a man in his 60s, on the ground and bleeding.  Pola says the attack was completely unprovoked.  Several witnesses went after the suspect but he got in a vehicle and drove away. They managed to snap a clear photo of him before he took off. Anyone with information is asked to call Orlando police or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.
  • The head of the Capitol Hill office which deals with workplace harassment cases said Wednesday that she still does not have the power to reveal the names of lawmakers who used taxpayer dollars to pay legal harassment settlements, drawing sharp rebukes from members of both parties on a House spending panel, as lawmakers in both the House and Senate expressed growing frustration about the matter. “The transparency issue is revolting,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). “It is absolutely unacceptable that we continue to let members who abuse their employees hide.” At a hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee, Susan Grundmann, the head of the Congressional Office of Compliance, said that workplace settlements which involve lawmakers, often include non-disclosure agreements, precluding any publicity. “Most settlement agreements – in fact all that I have seen – contain non-disclosure clauses in them,” said Grundmann. “Those are not by our doing.” In my opening statement to @LegBranch_OOC Executive Director Susan Grundmann, I emphasize the need for Congress to remedy workplace harassment on Capitol Hill. How can we expect others to follow our example if we're not willing to acknowledge and address this problem? pic.twitter.com/AHKtaPHVy9 — Congressman Tim Ryan (@RepTimRyan) April 18, 2018 Pressed sharply by both parties at a hearing where she asked for a nine percent budget increase to help deal with harassment training and case reviews, Grundmann made clear there was no plan to reveal the names of members who had engaged in such settlements in the past. “No, I think we are prohibited from under the law – in terms of the strict confidentiality that adheres to each one of our processes, and the non-disclosure agreements, we cannot disclose who they are,” Grundmann added. Grundmann said new reporting standards approved by the House would reveal every six months which offices had some type of legal settlements – and she also said that if a lawmaker agreed to a workplace settlement, taxpayers would pay the bill up front – and then have that member of Congress reimburse Uncle Sam within 90 days. So far, the House and Senate have not finalized an agreement on legislation to set new standards for transparency on workplace settlements involving lawmaker offices, as one leading Democrat today again demanded action by that chamber. “The Senate has no more excuses,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The Senate has no more excuses. We must pass these reforms before our next recess. Members of BOTH parties, men and women, agree that it’s time to act. https://t.co/vSr7sew5KN — Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) April 19, 2018 Back in Wednesday’s House hearing, lawmakers did not like to hear that while reforms in the House would publicly name the lawmaker and/or a top staffer if they were involved in harassment of other staffers, a Senate reform plan would not be as sweeping. “So, if a Chief of Staff engages in that conduct, or anyone else that isn’t the member, then their conduct is not disclosed?” Wasserman Schultz asked. “That’s correct,” replied Grundmann. “That’s absolutely unacceptable,” the Florida Democrat said. The hearing came days after the resignation of Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who had taxpayers foot the bill for an $84,000 settlement with a former office employee – Farenthold had promised to pay that money, but now that he is gone, it seems unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, Grundmann denied press reports in recent weeks that any personal information about sexual harassment or workplace abuses in Congressional offices was left on unsecured computer servers. “We have not been hacked. We have never stored our data on an unsecured server,” as Grundmann said their computer precautions had been described by officials as “Fort Knox.” “Fort Knox doesn’t talk about their cyber security,” she added, offering to brief members in private about the issue
  • U.S. marshals have erected billboards in multiple states as they continue to search for a Minnesota grandmother, gambling addict and alleged killer who is suspected in two homicides, including that of a woman she allegedly killed to assume her identity.  Lois Riess, 56, was last seen April 8 in the area of Corpus Christi, Texas, following what is believed to be a multistate homicide case. She is sought on murder and theft charges in the slaying of Pamela Hutchinson, of Bradenton, who was found shot to death April 9 in a condominium in which she was staying in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.  Riess, who Minnesota law enforcement officers dubbed “Losing Streak Lois” for her penchant for gambling, is also a person of interest in the killing of her husband, David Riess, who was found shot to death March 23 on the couple’s worm farm in Blooming Prairie. In each shooting, the victim had been dead for several days when the body was found. Authorities also believe Lois Riess used the same weapon in both cases. >> Related story: Minnesota grandma sought in deaths of husband, Florida ‘lookalike’ killed for ID The U.S. Marshals Service on Tuesday updated the search for Riess to major status and announced a $5,000 reward for her capture. Another $1,000 in reward money is being made available by Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers.   John Kinsey, a deputy U.S. marshal in Florida, told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis that the billboards are going up in Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona.  “Unfortunately, there have been no further sightings,” Kinsey told the Star Tribune. “She blends in real well. She is an average, 56-year-old white female walking around, and that is part of the problem.” >> Read more trending news Florida investigators have said Riess killed Hutchinson, 59, for her identity. The women, who were strangers before Riess befriended Hutchinson, bore a striking resemblance to one another.  Surveillance footage from the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery, located two blocks from Hutchinson’ condo at the Marina Village at Snug Harbor, shows Riess smiling and chatting with a blonde woman in a hat who Lee County Sheriff’s Office detectives have identified as Hutchinson.  Hutchinson’s cousin on Monday posted an image from the surveillance footage to Facebook, side by side with an undated image of Hutchinson wearing that same hat as in the footage.  Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service said investigators believe Hutchinson was killed on or around April 5, when the surveillance footage at the bar was shot.  Lee County officials also on Tuesday released several snippets of surveillance video, including one piece that shows Riess, wearing the same blue shirt seen in the bar video, calmly walking away from Marina Village toward the parking lot. She is seen on another video driving away in Hutchinson’s white 2005 Acura TL. Hutchinson’s keys, identification, cash and credit cards were also missing when her body was found. The News-Press in Fort Myers reported Tuesday that sometime after Hutchinson’s death, Riess went to a Wells Fargo branch there and used Hutchinson’s identification to withdraw $5,000 from the slain woman’s account.  See the original footage of Riess chatting with Pamela Hutchinson, obtained by the News-Press, below. Riess was next spotted in Ocala, about 215 miles north of Fort Myers, where more surveillance footage released Tuesday shows her driving up to a Hilton hotel in Hutchinson’s stolen car and checking in as a guest. Again, she is wearing the blue top seen in previous videos, as well as a light-colored fedora-style hat with a black band. Lee County Sheriff’s Office officials told the News-Press that Riess stayed in the hotel the nights of April 6 and 7.  Riess used Hutchinson’s identity to check into the hotel around 8 p.m. on April 6. She also used the victim’s identification to withdraw another $500 from Hutchinson’s bank account at an Ocala bank.  “She’s confident, doesn’t look over her shoulder, like she’s not hiding anything,” Kinsey told the Star Tribune of Riess’ demeanor in the videos. “She was very nonchalant.” >> Related story: New footage released of ‘killer grandma’ suspected in 2 homicides; $6,000 reward offered for capture The fugitive was next spotted in the stolen Acura in Louisiana, where an attempt to get $200 at a gas station failed, the News-Press said.  Kinsey said Riess was also spotted on surveillance images April 7 and 8 in casinos in Louisiana.  “She went from casino to casino to make money, or because she is addicted to it,” Kinsey said. “She is consumed by it.” The final definite sighting of Riess was the following day, April 8 in Refugio, Texas, about 40 miles north of Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi is about 150 miles from the Mexico border.  Mexican authorities are aware of the search for Riess and are keeping an eye out for her, or anyone using Hutchinson’s identification, at the border, the News-Press reported. A Lee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said she would have to show identification to cross, but there is no guarantee she would not be able to slip through. The last confirmed sighting of Riess or the stolen car was the day before Hutchinson’s body was found -- and before she was even linked to that homicide.  The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which has been searching for Riess since late last month, describes her as a white woman with brown eyes and pale blonde hair. She is about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 165 pounds.  The white Acura she is accused of stealing from Hutchinson has Florida license plate number Y37TAA.  Riess has been on the run since mid-March, when she is suspected of gunning down her husband, David Riess, on their rural worm farm before stealing $11,000 from his personal and business accounts. Deputies with the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office found him after his business partner reported that he had not been seen or heard from in several weeks.   Lois Riess was nowhere to be found, but investigators learned she visited a casino in Iowa on her way out of the Midwest, investigators said. She is charged with grand theft in connection with her husband’s slaying.  Dodge County investigators are also anticipated to file murder charges against her sometime this week.  Riess was initially linked to Hutchinson’s slaying, in part, because her family’s white Cadillac Escalade, which she was believed to be driving after her husband’s murder, was found abandoned in a county park in Fort Myers Beach, the News-Press reported.  Court records in Minnesota also show that Riess, who was named guardian of her disabled sister in 2012, stole more than $78,000 from her before being caught three years later.  Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno described Riess to NBC News earlier this week as a “stone-cold killer” who authorities fear might kill again when she runs out of resources.  “She smiles and looks like anyone’s mother or grandmother,” Marceno said. “And yet she’s calculated, she’s targeted and an absolute cold-blooded killer.”
  • On hold for months, President Donald Trump’s pick to head NASA was finally given the green light by a pair of GOP Senators, as the Senate voted 50-48 to overcome a possible filibuster, and advance the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be the next Administrator of NASA. A final vote to confirm Bridenstine’s nomination could come as early as Thursday in the full Senate. The key votes came from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – Flake initially voted to filibuster Bridenstine, but after an extended wait, returned to change his vote for the final margin of victory. It wasn’t immediately clear why Flake – and then Rubio – had changed course on the President’s NASA nominee, as Bridenstine supporters had spent months trying to squeeze out a final vote in support of the President’s choice, who faced determined opposition from Democrats. Before the vote, Rubio’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the decision of the Florida Republican, who had repeatedly rebuffed the calls of fellow GOP lawmakers to support Bridenstine, a more conservative House GOP lawmaker who has not hesitated to make waves during his time on Capitol Hill. Sen Marco Rubio votes 'Yes' on cloture for Bridenstine – after months of opposing his nomination — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) April 18, 2018 Just before the vote, Bridenstine’s leading Democratic critic in the Senate wasn’t backing away from his stern criticism of the three-term Republican Congressman from Oklahoma. “The NASA Administrator should be a consummate space professional,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in a speech on the Senate floor. “That’s what this Senator wants – a space professional – not a politician,” Nelson added. “Senators on both sides of the aisles have expressed doubts – both publicly and privately to me – about his qualifications for the job,” said Nelson, who was the only Senator to address the matter before the vote on cloture, a procedure to end debate in the Senate. Since Bridenstine was nominated for NASA Administrator in September, Rubio had sided with Nelson and other Democrats, raising questions about Bridenstine’s ability to run a federal agency in a nonpartisan manner. But that suddenly changed this week – and GOP leaders quickly moved to take the Bridenstine vote, moving the President a step closer to having his choice in the job as NASA chief. The procedural vote on Bridenstine’s nomination almost went awry, as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) voted “No,” leaving the vote tied at 49-49. Ordinarily, the Vice President would be brought in to break the tie, but Vice President Mike Pence was in Florida with President Trump, hosting the Japanese Prime Minister. After a wait of over a half hour, Flake returned to the floor and voted “Yes,” allowing the Senate to force an end to debate.