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Indian authorities detain 23 after deadly Kashmir attack

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 14:06

Indian forces have detained 23 men suspected of links to the Pakistan-based militant group that masterminded the bombing of an Indian security convoy that killed 44 paramilitary police, a top police official said on Sunday. The 23 men included members and sympathisers of Jaish-e-Mohammad, the militant group that claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack, the deadliest on Indian security forces in decades. The attack has fuelled tensions between India and Pakistan. India has demanded Pakistan close down Jaish-e-Mohammad and other Islamist militant groups that operate from its soil, while Islamabad has rejected suggestions it was linked to the attack. Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region at the heart of decades of hostility, is claimed in its entirety by India and Pakistan, but is ruled in part by both south Asian countries. Representatives of India's National Investigating Agency questioned the suspects about the bombing on Sunday, two security officials said. "They are trying to reach out to the top commanders of Jaish-e-Mohammad, including its Kashmir Chief," one of the sources said. Mohammed Umair, the commander of the group in Kashmir who is believed to have plotted the attack, is suspected to be hiding in the region where the attacks took place, the officials said. The officials say Mr Umair had "radicalized and motivated" the Kashmiri school dropout who rammed a car laden with explosives into the convoy on Thursday. Mr Umair is thought to have entered Indian Kashmir from Pakistan in September to head the Jaish in the region. Security forces suspect he is in hiding in southern Kashmir, according to the officials, who could not be named as a matter of policy. Indian officials say Mr Umair is a nephew of Jaish-e-Mohammad's chief, Masood Azhar, who is believed to be in Pakistan. Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, has promised a strong response to the attack and says he has given the military a free hand to tackle cross-border militancy.


Saudi crown prince begins Asia tour with $20 billion Pakistan investment pledge

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 13:57

Kicking off his tour of South Asia and China with a far higher Pakistan investment than expected, the crown prince said the $20 billion figure represents only the start of an economic tie-up that would bring the historic Muslim allies even closer. "It’s big for phase 1, and definitely it will grow every month and every year, and it will be beneficial to both countries," said the crown prince. "We have been a brotherly country, a friendly country to Pakistan.


Sex abuse survivors say Vatican summit must deliver action

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 13:28

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Roman Catholics who were sexually abused by clergy are insisting that decisive actions to confront the decades-long problem of pedophile priests and church cover-ups must come out of an upcoming Vatican summit.


Israel to withhold $138 mln from Palestinians over prisoner payments

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 13:15

Israel said its security cabinet on Sunday decided to withhold $138 million (122 million euros) in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority over its payments to prisoners jailed for attacks on Israelis. A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the withheld cash would be equal to that paid by the PA last year to "terrorists imprisoned in Israel, to their families and to released prisoners". Israel alleges the payments encourage further violence.


NASA posts image of ghostly blue objects, deep in the cosmos

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 11:19

When a star is born, a chaotic light show ensues.  NASA's long-lived Hubble Space Telescope captured vivid bright clumps moving through the cosmos at some 1,000 light years from Earth. The space agency called these objects clear "smoking gun" evidence of a newly formed star — as new stars blast colossal amounts of energy-rich matter into space, known as plasma.  Seen as the vivid blue, ephemeral clumps in the top center of the new image below, these are telltale signs of an energy-rich gas, or plasma, colliding with a huge collection of dust and gas in deep space. As NASA says, these blue masses are transient creations in the cosmos, as "they disappear into nothingness within a few tens of thousands of years." Bright lights inside a nebula. Image: ESA/Hubble/NASA/K. Stapelfeldt These blue clumps are traveling at 150,000 mph toward the upper left direction (from our view, anyhow). In total, there are five of these ghostly clumps, hurtling through space.  SEE ALSO: Opportunity rover's last picture is as grim as it is dark NASA doesn't identify the new star itself, called SVS 13, perhaps because it's obscured by thick clouds of cosmic matter. This collection of dust and gas is part of a distant nebula, which are often the remnants of exploded stars swirling through the infinity of space. WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?


UN envoy arrives in Yemen to discuss truce around port city

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 11:00

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths arrived on Sunday in the capital, Sanaa, to discuss the "complex situation" in and around the key port city of Hodeida, Yemeni security officials said.


Iran launches 'cruise missile capable' submarine

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 10:35

Iran on Sunday launched a new locally-made submarine capable of firing cruise missiles, state TV said, in the country's latest show of military might at a time of heightened tensions with the US. The launch ceremony, led by President Hassan Rouhani, took place in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas. "Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran is fully self-reliant on land, air and sea," Rouhani said.


Syria's Assad pledges no bargaining over constitution

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 10:11

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday his government would not bargain over the country's constitution with the Turkey-backed opposition, lambasting a U.N. peace process that aims to rewrite its terms. A congress convened by Russia, Assad's key ally, last year tasked the U.N. envoy for Syria with forming a committee to draft a new constitution, after many rounds of talks to end the war had failed. "The constitution is the fate of the country and as a result, it does not succumb to any bargains that could have a bigger price than the war itself," Assad said in a televised speech.


Chicago AccuWeather: 2-4 inches of snow on Sunday

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 09:55

Steady snow throughout the day Sunday with 2 to 4 inches expected across the Chicago area. Highs in 20s.


Here’s What’s Open and Closed on President’s Day 2019

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 09:23

Find out if banks, schools and the post office are open on President's day


UK's May to speak to every EU head in bid for Brexit deal changes

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 09:17

In her talks with EU leaders and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker she will be seeking to change the Irish backstop, one of the most contentious parts of the withdrawal agreement she agreed in November, her office said. May has told EU leaders she could pass her deal with concessions primarily around the backstop - a guarantee that there can be no return to border controls between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland. The backstop has become one of the main points of contention ahead of Britain's planned departure from the EU next month after 45 years.


Germany's SPD climbs in polls after welfare rethink

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 08:24

Support for Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) has hit its highest level in almost six months, a poll showed on Sunday, a week after the center-left party outlined new welfare plans aimed at winning back working class voters. Ahead of European elections in May and four regional votes this year, the Emnid poll for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper put support for the SPD, which shares power with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, on 19 percent, up 2 points from a week ago.


Iran's Zarif accuses Israel, U.S. of seeking war

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 07:29

Addressing the Munich Security Conference, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also criticized the U.S. administration after Vice President Mike Pence this week called on European powers to pullout of the nuclear deal with Iran. Zarif urged France, Germany and Britain to do more to save that accord. "Certainly, some people are looking for war ... Israel," Zarif said.


Israeli leader pledges funds for museum for Jewish WWII vets

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 07:10

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Sunday that his government would allocate the necessary funds to complete a long-promised museum honoring Jewish World War II veterans.


National emergency: Lawsuits launched in bid to stop Trump building border wall

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 06:44

A day after president Donald Trump declared a national emergency - in an attempt to circumvent Congress and redirect taxpayer money to fund 230 miles of barriers along the US-Mexico border - the designation has been beset with political and legal challenges. Democrats painted Mr Trump's declaration as evidence of a rogue president who has finally gone too far, and they vowed to stop him. While some Republicans said they supported Mr Trump, others expressed disapproval, fearing the move would set an undesired precedent or deprive other projects of necessary funds.


Netanyahu's main rival in Israeli election voices agreement with him on Iran

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 06:38

Former general Benny Gantz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's strongest challenger in an election scheduled for April, voiced support on Sunday for the right-wing leader's tough policy toward Iran. "I am standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the fight against Iran's aggression," Gantz, a former chief of Israel's armed forces and a centrist candidate, told the Munich Security Conference. Polls predict that Netanyahu's Likud party will win the April 9 election, taking about 30 of parliament’s 120 seats - enough to form a coalition of right-wing and religious factions similar to one he now heads.


Thousands of Venezuela volunteers begin preparing US aid entry

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 06:29

Thousands of volunteers in Venezuela will begin mobilizing on Sunday to bring American aid into their crisis-hit country despite a blockade by President Nicolas Maduro who claims the assistance could be cover for a US invasion. Once-wealthy Venezuela is gripped by a power struggle between socialist leader Maduro and Juan Guaido, the head of the National Assembly who proclaimed himself interim president last month and now has the backing of more than 50 countries.


Iran takes aim at 'hateful' Pence comments

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 06:15

Iran's foreign minister on Sunday launched a blistering attack on US Vice President Mike Pence, saying his allegations that Tehran was plotting a "new Holocaust" were "hateful" and "ignorant". Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Munich Security Conference that Pence's demands for the EU to follow the US in abandoning the 2015 Iran nuclear deal amounted to asking Europe to undermine its own security.


The Latest: Smollett says no truth he played role in attack

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 06:10

CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the investigation of the attack on Jussie Smollett (all times local):


Top US officials considered removing Trump using 25th amendment, FBI lawyers confirm

Sun, 02/17/2019 - 05:57

An explosive claim that senior officials at the FBI and Justice Department discussed forcing Donald Trump out of office has been backed by two more witnesses in secret Congressional hearings. Former acting head of the FBI Andrew McCabe revealed earlier this week there had been conversations at the top echelons of the government about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Mr Trump after he fired FBI director James Comey in May 2017.


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