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Chemical weapon VX nerve agent killed N.Korean leader's half brother: Malaysian police

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 00:41

By Rozanna Latiff and Emily Chow KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - VX nerve agent, a chemical the United Nations classifies as a weapon of mass destruction, was used to kill the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a bizarre murder in Malaysia last week, police said on Friday. Kim Jong Nam was killed on Feb. 13, shortly after being assaulted at the airport in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, by two women who wiped the chemical on his face as he prepared to board a flight to the Chinese territory of Macau. South Korean and U.S. officials have said they believe North Korean agents assassinated Kim Jong Nam.

Crowds gather for S.Africa anti-immigration march

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 00:09

At least 300 people gathered for an anti-immigration march in the South African capital Pretoria on Friday, as President Jacob Zuma condemned xenophobic violence that has targeted shops and homes. Tyres were burnt in streets near Pretoria in the morning, as tensions rise between some South Africans and migrants from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Pakistan and elsewhere.

Japan PM's wife cuts ties with school at heart of political furor

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 00:06

By Kaori Kaneko and Linda Sieg TOKYO (Reuters) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife has cut ties with an elementary school involved in a land deal that provoked opposition questions just as the Japanese leader was basking in the glow of a friendly summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. Abe has said neither he nor his wife, Akie, was involved in a murky deal for the purchase of state-owned land by Moritomo Gakuen, an educational body in the western city of Osaka that also runs a kindergarten promoting patriotism. The affair has energized the often-floundering opposition, offering a reminder of the unexpected pitfalls that could still emerge for Abe's seemingly stable rule, now in its fifth year.

Officials in legal pot state vow to fight federal crackdown

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 23:51

WASHINGTON (AP) — Officials in Washington state, where recreational marijuana is legal, vow to fight any federal crackdown on the nascent industry after White House spokesman Sean Spicer said they should expect to see stepped-up enforcement of anti-pot laws.

VX: the banned, deadly nerve agent that killed Kim

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 23:28

As Malaysian toxicologists reveal that the banned nerve agent VX was used in the airport assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, here are some key questions and answers about the deadly weapon of mass destruction. Code-named by the US scientists who mass produced it, VX is an organophosphate compound and one of the deadliest chemical agents ever manufactured. Stockpiled by the US in huge quantities during the Cold War, VX is perhaps 10 times as powerful as the Sarin toxin.

India police arrest cheap mobile maker on fraud charges

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 23:14

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — The director of an Indian company that claimed it was selling the world's cheapest smartphone was arrested Thursday on fraud charges, police said Friday.

China Warns Against War Threats Over South China Sea

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 22:54

The Chinese defense ministry's comments came after the deployment of U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the South China Sea.

Guatemalan navy blocks Dutch 'abortion ship'

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 22:39

Guatemala's military detains a Dutch boat that provides abortions as it entered the waters outside the Central American country. Abortion is illegal in Guatemala, unless the woman's live is at risk. Eve Johnson reports.

The Neanderthal In You May Be Controlling Your Gene Expression

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 22:27

According to a study, Neanderthal DNA sequences present in the modern human genome are, even now, influencing gene expression — especially those related to traits such as height and susceptibility to schizophrenia.

Magnitude 5.7 quake strikes Lake Tanganyika area: USGS

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 22:02

(Reuters) - An earthquake of magnitude 5.7 struck the southern area of Lake Tanganyika early on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The epicenter of the quake, initially reported as a magnitude 6.1, was in a national park area in northern Zambia close to Lake Tanganyika. The quake, which struck at 2:32 a.m. (0032 GMT), could be felt across the lake in Tanzania and to the north in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, the USGS said.

South Africa's Zuma condemns violence against foreigners

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 21:55

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has condemned acts of violence between citizens and non-nationals, his office said on Friday. Anti-immigrant violence has flared sporadically in South Africa against a background of near-record unemployment, with foreigners being accused of taking jobs from citizens and getting involved in crime. Citizens in Pretoria are set to march against foreigners on Friday and domestic media are reporting vandalism and acts of violence in the Atteridgeville area west of the capital.

Israeli prime minister meets Australian opposition leader

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 20:54

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia's opposition leader Bill Shorten said he raised his Labor Party's concerns about Israel's settlements in Palestinian territories during discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday.

Japan Urges Fukushima Residents To Return To Nuclear Site

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 20:35

The government will lift the evacuation order from the village of Iitate despite “unacceptable radiation risk,” following the March 2011 nuclear disaster, Greenpeace said.

Video of 'chubby' tigers taking down a drone may be way darker than you think

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 20:30

A video of "chubby" Siberian tigers taking down a drone, complete with a silly soundtrack — like so much viral content — is more than what it seems.  While the video's been shared far and wide, but the origins of the footage have been a cause for concern for a while now.  SEE ALSO: Watch a bunch of chubby tigers take down a drone and try to eat it As science journalist John R. Platt tweeted, the footage is "obviously a tiger farm."  Reminder: China has an estimated *7* wild tigers left. Many more in this video = obviously a tiger farm. They'll be turned into bone & wine — John R Platt (@johnrplatt) February 23, 2017 While the name of the park isn't mentioned in the description of the videos (as to avoid searching of the park's record according to Platt,) the location is.  Heilongjiang Province in China is the home of Harbin Siberian Tiger Park. It's one of the two biggest tiger-breeding facilities in the country, according to a 2013 report on the country's clandestine tiger trade by the Environmental Investigation Agency. The park is advertised as a tourist attraction, where visitors can offer meat and even live animals, to the tigers. As per a report by McClatchy, the number of visitors doesn't cover the cost of feeding or breeding hundreds of tigers each year. The real money comes from the sale of tiger pelts, tiger bone wine, and other products that have been banned in China. McClatchy visited Harbin Siberian Tiger Park, and reported bottles of tiger bone wine on display — albeit not advertised as tiger bone wine, but some had images of tigers on the packaging. Some of these "bone strengthening wines" advertise the use of tiger bone in its manufacture to distinguish itself from other wines in its category, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency's report. The same park was under scrutiny after conservation groups were outraged at images of obese tigers, thought to be seriously ill. Last word on tiger-drone video: Chinese media often share cute tiger videos. They're all propaganda to hide the reality of tiger farms. — John R Platt (@johnrplatt) February 24, 2017 Since 1993, there has been a ban on the trade of tiger bones, but the state has encouraged the growth of tiger farms. In 2007, India and the UK called on China to ban tiger farms due to concerns over the impact it had on the wild population.  [h/t Motherboard] BONUS: This organization is providing kids with 3D-printed prosthetics — free of charge

Israel to deny Human Rights Watch visas over 'bias'

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 20:16

Israel will stop issuing work visas to Human Rights Watch staff, the NGO said Friday, with the Jewish state accusing the group of being "fundamentally biased" against it. The New York-based watchdog, which has written critical reports about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, applied months ago for a visa for its Israel and Palestine director, American citizen Omar Shakir. On February 20, Israeli authorities informed it the request had been rejected because HRW is "not a real human rights group", the group said in a statement.

Dutch immigrants' party challenging the far-right

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 20:07

With anti-Islam Dutch MP Geert Wilders topping the polls ahead of next month's elections, one small group is hoping to buck the trend: the country's first party led by immigrants. Launched in 2015 by two MPs who were thrown out of the Labour party amid a row over its immigration policies, it has positioned itself ahead of the March 15 vote as the only true response to the anti-immigration, anti-Islam stand of Wilders and his far-right Freedom Party (PVV). "It is unique in The Netherlands to have a party led by Dutch people with foreign roots," said political expert Sjaak Koening, from Maastricht University.

Welcome To Pluto, The Underworld Of The Solar System

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 20:05

On Thursday, the International Astronomical Union approved themes for naming surface features on Pluto and its moons. For the dwarf planet, most of the naming themes relate to the underworld.

2017 Jeep Compass

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 20:01

Better than before, and that's no backhanded compliment.

The Latest: WH adviser asked FBI to refute Russia story

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 18:43

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

California senator removed after criticizing late lawmaker

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 18:36

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California lawmaker was removed from the state Senate floor Thursday after refusing to stop delivering a speech criticizing late state Sen. Tom Hayden for his leadership role in the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s.