Associated Press

Taliban say unable to attend Pakistan talks; blame blacklist

The Taliban has postponed an unscheduled round of peace talks with the United States set for Monday in Pakistan saying "most" members of their negotiating team are unable to travel because they’re on the U.S. and United Nations’ blacklists.

The statement Sunday offered no other details. It did not explain how several members previously were able to travel to meetings in the United Arab Emirates and Moscow.

The Taliban maintain a political office in Qatar, where members of the negotiating team reside. The Islamabad talks were seen as significant, coinciding with the visit of the Saudi crown prince to Pakistan.

The Taliban 14-member team includes five former inmates of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, and Anas Haqqani, the jailed younger brother of the leader of the militant Haqqani network.

Source: Fox News World

Sex abuse survivors say Vatican summit must deliver action

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.

A founding member of the advocacy group Ending Clergy Abuse, Peter Isely, contended Sunday that Pope Francis is "facing resistance" from top Vatican officials as he prepares to convene bishops from around the world.

"Let me tell you what it was like to try and have to resist that priest when I was a boy who was sexually assaulting me," Isely said. "So whatever difficulty for him or discomfort this is for anybody in the papal palace, it is nothing compared to what survivors have had to undergo."

Isely offered his perspective in an interview with The Associated Press near St. Peter’s Square shortly before Francis spoke of the importance of the Feb. 21-24 event on protecting children and teenagers in the church,.

Addressing faithful in the square, Francis asked for prayers for the gathering of the heads of Catholic bishops’ conferences worldwide.

Francis said he wanted the summit, to be "an act of strong pastoral responsibility in the face of an urgent challenge of our time."

Revelations in many countries about priests raping and committing other kinds of sexual abuse against children and a pattern of bishops hiding the crimes have shaken the faith of many Catholics.

They also test the pontiff’s ability to ensure the safety of children and punishment for the abusers as well as any complicit superiors.

The Vatican announced Saturday that Francis approved the expulsion from the priesthood for a former American cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, for sexual abuse of minors and adults.

But survivor advocates also have demanded that Francis say what he and other top Vatican officials knew about the prelate’s sexual wrongdoing, which spanned decades.

"You abuse a child, you have to be removed from the priesthood," Isely said. "If you cover up for abusing a child, you have to be removed from the priesthood, and this is the only thing that is going to turn the corner on this global crisis."

Another founding member of the group, Denise Buchanan, a native of Jamaica, said a priest raped and assaulted her when she was 17.

"That rape actually resulted in a pregnancy, and the priest arranged for an abortion," Buchanan said.

Veteran Vatican watcher Marco Politi told the AP he also sees the pope facing inside resistance.

"There is a struggle going on between the pope and his supporters who want a change, and a lot of people among the bishops and among the clergy who don’t want transparency and applying law and order in the abuse issue in the world," Politi said.

Some of Francis’ critics contend that as a product of the Catholic Church’s hierarchical culture, he, too, has been slow to recognize the hierarchy’s role in perpetuating abuse by pedophile priests.

Francis has tried to temper expectations for the summit, saying in January the "problem of abuse will continue" because "it’s a human problem." Isely of Ending Clergy Abuse said the bar should be high and the participants "have to deliver for survivors."

Source: Fox News World

Saudi crown prince arrives in Pakistan for regional visit

Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his four-day regional visit on Sunday, arriving in Pakistan where Saudi officials signed agreements worth $20 billion to help the Islamic nation overcome its financial crisis.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and top government and military officials greeted him at Islamabad’s airport, where he received a 21-gun salute. Earlier, Pakistan Air Force jets escorted Prince Mohammad’s flight when he entered the country’s airspace.

At the airport, a young boy and girl in traditional Pakistani dress handed the prince flowers. He was greeted by a host of Pakistani Cabinet ministers and the country’s powerful army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Khan himself drove the prince to the prime minister’s residence, where he was met by an honor guard.

During his two-day stay in Pakistan, the crown prince will hold formal talks with Khan to find ways to enhance bilateral cooperation. Saudi Arabia will invest in the energy sector across the country, including setting up an oil refinery in the southwest near the border with Iran. The move will likely irk Tehran as Iran is Saudi Arabia’s regional foe.

Shortly after his arrival, Prince Mohammad, accompanied by a high-powered delegation including leading businessmen and Cabinet ministers, attended a signing ceremony for the investment agreements worth $20 billion.

"This is first phase," he said, at the ceremony, adding that he hoped the future would bring even more Saudi investment in Pakistan.

"Saudi Arabia has always been a fiend of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has been a friend in need," Khan said.

Pakistan is in the grip of a major debt crisis and is seeking a $12 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund but has yet to sign the deal which comes with tough conditions.

Prince Mohammad will later travel to neighboring India amid heightened tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi over this week’s attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 41 troops.

This week also saw an attack in Iran that killed 27 Revolutionary Guard soldiers that was claimed by the Pakistan-based militant Jaish al-Adl group.

Pakistan condemned the attacks, but India and Iran blame it for the violence.

Pakistan enjoys close ties with Saudi Arabia. It maintains a balancing act between Riyadh and Tehran.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday that the visit by the crown prince will take their countries’ bilateral relations "to new heights."

Pakistan voiced support for the prince during the international outcry after the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents. Khan attended an investment conference in Saudi Arabia in October that saw a wave of cancellations linked to the Khashoggi killing.

The crown prince has called the killing a "heinous crime that cannot be justified."

Khashoggi, who had written critically about the prince, went missing on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. After denying any knowledge of his death for weeks, Saudi authorities eventually said that he was killed in an operation aimed at forcibly bringing the writer back to the kingdom.

Saudi prosecutors say the plan was masterminded by two former advisers to the crown prince.

The kingdom denies the crown prince knew of the plot.

Source: Fox News World

Hunt under way for suspect in shooting of officer

Authorities say a Virginia police officer has been shot and seriously wounded after making a traffic stop.

State police say a Bluefield officer was shot after stopping a 2008 Toyota Yaris for an equipment violation on Route 460 shortly before midnight Saturday.

Authorities say a passenger in the vehicle began shooting at the officer.

The officer and another Bluefield officer, who had responded to assist with the traffic stop, returned fire. The Toyota’s driver surrendered but the passenger got into the driver’s seat and drove off.

The Toyota was found abandoned a few hours later in Bluefield, West Virginia. The search for the passenger continued Sunday.

The wounded officer was being treated for serious injuries that were not considered life threatening at Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

Source: Fox News National

Groups: ICE detainees in Boston jail go on hunger strike

Dozens of people detained by federal immigration officials are on a hunger strike at a Boston jail.

Rhode Island-based community groups Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance and the Fighting Against Natural Gas Collective say they’ve been in contact with about 70 detainees at the Suffolk County House of Correction who are participating in a hunger strike that began Friday.

The organizations say the detainees are protesting abuse by jail officials and "inhumane conditions" such as bad food and broken bathroom fixtures. They also challenge the jail’s authority to detain people on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The organizations say the detainees sent jail officials a list of their grievances Feb. 10. Spokespersons for the jail and ICE didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment Sunday.

Source: Fox News National

Israel to withhold $138 million in Palestinian funds

Israel says it will withhold over $138 million from the Palestinian Authority for payments given to families of Palestinians who carried out attacks against Israelis.

The government’s security Cabinet said Sunday that it was implementing a law passed last year allowing Israel to withhold funds used to pay stipends to Palestinian attackers and their families from taxes Israel collects on the Palestinian Authority’s behalf.

Israel says the payments encourage violence — a claim the Palestinians reject.

The freeze comes as the Palestinians face major budget cuts made last year after the United States slashed funding for the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee program UNRWA and for development programs in the Palestinian territories. The U.N.’s World Food Program also cut back services due to funding shortages.

Source: Fox News World

Court documents: DNA trail led to Alaska cold case suspect

Court documents say police in Alaska were able to make an arrest in a quarter-century-old cold case with the help of DNA voluntarily submitted by an aunt of the man charged.

Alaska State Troopers have said 44-year-old Steven Downs of Auburn, Maine, was arrested in his hometown Friday on murder and sexual assault charges related to the 1993 death of Sophie Sergie. Sergie’s body was found in a dorm bathtub at University of Alaska Fairbanks when she was 20 years old.

The Portland Press Herald reports a charging document filed Friday in District Court in Alaska provides new details about how police identified Downs. Genealogical study traced Downs to Maine.

Court documents say Downs told investigators he recalled Sergie’s murder but had never met her. He’s due in court Tuesday.

Source: Fox News National

In Nigeria's tight election, Christian vote is seen as key

Nigeria’s presidential campaign has been largely free of the religious pressures that marked the 2015 vote when Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim northerner, defeated a Christian president from the south who had grown unpopular over his failure to control Boko Haram.

Now, with the leading candidates both northern Muslims, the Christian vote in the upcoming election on Saturday may be decisive in sweeping the incumbent from power for the second time in as many elections in Africa’s most populous country.

Nigeria’s 190 million people are divided almost equally between Christians mainly in the south and Muslims, like Buhari and his opponent, Atiku Abubakar, who dominate in the north.

Yet religious tensions remain even in an election that offers no clear sectarian choice, underscoring the pervasive influence of faith in Nigerian politics.

Source: Fox News World

Austrian leader: Trump foreign policy successful in parts

Austria’s chancellor has described parts of U.S. President Donald Trump’s foreign policy as "very successful" as he prepares to visit Washington this week.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told Sunday’s edition of Austrian newspaper Die Presse one of the main aims of his visit is to help avert a trade war.

On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said U.S. authorities appear to have concluded that European cars were a national security threat.

Kurz is expected at the White House on Wednesday. He pointed to differences with Trump on trade and the Iran nuclear deal, but praised the president’s support for Israel and efforts to secure peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The Austrian leader was quoted as saying "Trump is running, in part, a very active and also very successful foreign policy."

Source: Fox News National

Aurora shooting raises questions over gun permit checks

An initial background check five years ago failed to flag an out-of-state felony conviction that would have prevented a man from buying the gun he used to kill five co-workers and wound six other people, including five responding police officers, at a suburban Chicago manufacturing plant, authorities say.

Gary Martin, who was killed in a shootout with officers Friday, ending his deadly rampage at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, was issued a firearm owner’s identification card in January 2014 after a background check failed to show a 1995 aggravated assault conviction in Mississippi, Aurora police Chief Kristen Ziman said Saturday.

He bought the Smith and Wesson handgun he used in Friday’s attack two months later, on March 11, 2014, she said. Five days after that, he applied for a concealed carry permit, which included a more rigorous background check that used digital fingerprinting and that did flag his Mississippi felony conviction, which led the Illinois State Police to revoke his permit.

"Absolutely, he was not supposed to be in possession of a firearm," Ziman said.

Martin was able to keep his gun despite losing his permit, raising questions about what, if anything, the state did to get him to relinquish it.

Authorities said Saturday that Martin pulled out the gun and began shooting right after hearing he was being fired from his job of 15 years at the industrial valve manufacturer.

Martin killed the other three people in the room with him and two others just outside, Ziman said. Among those killed was a college student starting a human resources internship at the plant that day. Martin also wounded a sixth worker — who is expected to survive — before police began arriving, drawing his attention toward them.

After wounding five officers and with law enforcement from throughout the region pouring in to help, Martin ran off and hid in the back of the building, where officers found him about an hour later and killed him during an exchange of gunfire, police said. All of the wounded officers are expected to live.

"He was probably waiting for us to get to him there," police Lt. Rick Robertson said. "It was just a very short gunfight and it was over, so he was basically in the back waiting for us and fired upon us and our officers fired."

Martin, 45, was no stranger to police in Aurora, where he had been arrested six times over the years for what Ziman described as "traffic and domestic battery-related issues" and for violating an order of protection.

Scott Hall, president and CEO of Mueller Water Products Inc., which owns Henry Pratt, said at a news conference Saturday that Martin was being fired "for a culmination of various workplace rules violations," though he didn’t elaborate.

He said a company background check of Martin when he joined Henry Pratt 15 years ago did not turn up the 1995 felony conviction in Mississippi.

A vigil was planned for Sunday in Aurora, which is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago and is Illinois’ second-largest city, with about 200,000 people.

Police identified the slain workers as human resources manager Clayton Parks of Elgin; plant manager Josh Pinkard of Oswego; mold operator Russell Beyer of Yorkville; stock room attendant and fork lift operator Vicente Juarez of Oswego; and Trevor Wehner, the new intern and a Northern Illinois University student who lived in DeKalb and grew up in Sheridan.

It was Wehner’s first day on the job, his uncle Jay Wehner told The Associated Press. Trevor Wehner, 21, was on the dean’s list at NIU’s business college and was on track to graduate in May with a degree in human resource management.

"He always, always was happy. I have no bad words for him. He was a wonderful person. You can’t say anything but nice things about him," Jay Wehner said of his nephew.

___

Associated Press writers Carrie Antlfinger and Amanda Seitz contributed to this report. Babwin and Rousseau reported from Chicago.

Source: Fox News National

Lee Radziwill, stylish sister of Jackie Kennedy, dies at 85

Lee Radziwill, the stylish jet setter and socialite who made friends worldwide even as she bonded and competed with her older sister Jacqueline Kennedy, has died. She was 85.

Anna Christina Radziwill told The New York Times her mother died Friday of what she described as natural causes. The Associated Press left messages Saturday and Sunday for the family.

The husky-voiced Radziwill shared her sister’s affinity for fashion and adventure, as well as her dark, wide-set eyes and high cheekbones.

They were confidantes as young women, and Radziwill was a frequent guest at the White House during President John F. Kennedy’s administration.

Radziwill counted Gloria Steinem, Andy Warhol and Truman Capote among her friends.

Source: Fox News National

About 40 people remain trapped in Liberian gold mine

Liberian authorities say rescuers are digging with their bare hands in an effort to free about 40 people who have been trapped for a week in a collapsed gold mine.

Archievego M. Doe, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, said Sunday that officials are now trying to arrange for an excavator to help the rescue effort in northeastern Liberia.

So far seven bodies have been recovered and Monday has been declared a national day of mourning.

The government deployed army and police to the Gbonipea mining town over the weekend, where they met with resistance from some local miners. Officials said about 65 illegal gold miners were arrested for battling the deployment.

Red Cross officials are also in the area trying to determine how many people remain trapped.

Source: Fox News World

Polish PM cancels Israel visit amid new Holocaust tensions

A Polish government official says Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will not attend a meeting in Israel starting Monday amid new tensions between the two countries over how to remember Polish behavior during the Holocaust.

Michal Dworczyk, who heads Morawiecki’s chancellery, announced the change of plans on Sunday.

Netanyahu made an off-hand comment last week during a Middle East conference in Warsaw that "Poles cooperated with the Nazis" – wording suggesting some Poles during the German occupation of Poland participated in killing Jews.

He was initially quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying "the Poles," which could be taken as blaming the entire Polish nation.

Both Netanyahu’s office and the newspaper say he was misquoted in an editing error, but the Polish government said it was not satisfied.

Source: Fox News World

UN envoy arrives in Yemen to discuss truce around port city

Yemeni security officials say U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths has arrived in the capital, Sanaa, to discuss the "complex situation" in and around the key port city of Hodeida.

The Houthi rebels say their leader, Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, met with Griffiths on Sunday to discuss the implementation of peace deals from December talks with Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

Yemen’s warring sides agreed to a cease-fire in December, as well as a prisoner exchange that has yet to take place.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Iran-aligned rebels. A Saudi-led coalition allied with the internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.

The officials spoke anonymously as they weren’t authorized to brief journalists.

Source: Fox News World

Italian populists ask if minister deserves immunity

Italy’s populist 5-Star Movement, which is part of the country’s ruling coalition, is asking its supporters to vote online on whether the leader of its junior coalition partner should be prosecuted.

The Senate’s immunity panel votes this week to recommend if Sicily-based magistrates should prosecute anti-migrant League party leader Matteo Salvini. As interior minister, Salvini is under investigating for alleged kidnapping for refusing for days in 2018 to let migrants rescued at sea disembark at a Sicilian port from an Italian coast guard ship.

The 5-Stars members are in a bind. As an anti-establishment force, on principle it considers parliamentary immunity an "elite" privilege. But if their lawmakers vote to lift Salvini’s immunity, that risks worsening a rift in the government with the League.

So the 5-Stars are sounding out supporters.

Source: Fox News World

Transgender bathroom ban may end, but transcript irks teen

A school board in Virginia that was willing to defend its transgender-bathroom policy all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court may finally give up the fight.

The Gloucester County School Board will hold a public hearing Tuesday. It will discuss the possibility of allowing transgender students to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

The meeting comes just months before a trial is set to begin over the board’s current bathroom policy. Former student Gavin Grimm has been suing the board since 2015 for banning him from using boys restrooms.

Grimm is also expanding his case. A federal judge ruled Thursday that Grimm can sue the school board over its refusal to change the gender listed on his high school transcript. The record still lists him as female.

Source: Fox News National

Libyans, to varying degrees, celebrate 2011 uprising

Libyans are celebrating the eighth anniversary of their 2011 uprising that led to the overthrow and killing of longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi, with the varying intensity of festivities underscoring the split between the country’s east and west.

Hundreds of people reveled Sunday in the western cities of Tripoli, Misrata and Zawiya, where bands played national songs and flags lined the streets.

But festivities were much more subdued in the country’s east, with only a few people gathering at the central courthouse in Benghazi, a city that has billed itself as the birthplace of Libya’s uprising.

Libya remains largely a chaotic patchwork of territory run by militias and gangs, with rival administrations in Tripoli and the east.

Source: Fox News World

Assad: Only Syrian army can protect groups in northern Syria

Syrian President Bashar Assad says only the Syrian army can protect groups in northern Syria.

In a speech in the Syrian capital Damascus on Sunday, he appeared to be referring to U.S.-allied Kurdish groups, which fear a Turkish assault once American troops withdraw from northeastern Syria.

Assad said any foreign troops in Syria will be dealt with as occupation forces.

He did not specifically mention the planned withdrawal of 2,000 American troops from northern Syria but said "no one should bet on protection from the Americans." He suggested that the Syrian army will return to the area after the American troop pullout.

"Every inch of Syria will be liberated, and any intruder is an enemy," he said.

Source: Fox News World

Transgender teen fights to have sex changed on transcript

A school board in Virginia that was willing to defend its transgender-bathroom policy all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court may finally give up the fight.

The Gloucester County School Board will hold a public hearing Tuesday. It will discuss the possibility of allowing transgender students to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

The meeting comes just months before a trial is set to begin over the board’s current bathroom policy. Former student Gavin Grimm has been suing the board since 2015 for banning him from using boys restrooms.

Grimm is also expanding his case. A federal judge ruled Thursday that Grimm can sue the school board over its refusal to change the gender listed on his high school transcript. The record still lists him as female.

Source: Fox News National

24 bodies found after Zimbabwe mine disaster; search goes on

Searchers have recovered 24 bodies from a mine in Zimbabwe that was flooded after heavy rains, trapping dozens of subsistence miners underground.

Henrietta Rushwaya, leader of the country’s small-scale miners’ association, said Sunday that 23 of the bodies have been identified since the disaster on Tuesday near Kadoma.

Eight people were rescued from the flooded tunnels, and all but one have been discharged from a hospital after treatment.

The government is continuing its search, saying up to 70 gold miners may have been trapped after a dam wall collapsed and water rushed into nearby mining tunnels.

Large groups of people using picks, shovels and hoes are commonly seen in Zimbabwe’s mineral-rich fields. The miners operate without regulation. Illegal mining has become rampant in a country where many people are unemployed.

Source: Fox News World

Iran unveils first semi-heavy missile-equipped submarine

Iran’s state TV is reporting that the country’s President Hassan Rouhani has unveiled the first Iranian made semi-heavy submarine.

The Sunday report said the Fateh, "Conqueror" in Persian, is capable of being fitted with cruise missiles.

Since 1992, Iran has developed a homegrown defense industry that produces light and heavy weapons ranging from mortars and torpedoes to tanks and submarines.

The Fateh has subsurface-to-surface missiles with a range of about 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), capable of reaching Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.

Source: Fox News World

Rights group: 14 Tunisian workers kidnapped in Libya

A rights group in Libya says an armed group has kidnapped 14 Tunisian workers near the capital, Tripoli.

The National Commission for Human Rights in Libya said late Saturday that the Tunisians were abducted on their way to work at an oil refinery in the western city of Zawiya.

It said the armed group, which it did not name, demanded the release of a Libyan man, also unnamed, detained in Tunisia on drug-related charges.

Tunisia’s Foreign Ministry says the workers were kidnapped on Thursday.

In 2015, an armed militia stormed the Tunisian consulate in Tripoli and took 10 staff members hostage.

Libya slid into chaos after its 2011 uprising that toppled long-time ruler Moammar Gadhafi. The country is currently governed by militia-backed rival authorities in Tripoli and the east.

Source: Fox News World

Aurora attacker took gun to work he shouldn't have owned

The man who opened fire and killed five co-workers including the plant manager, human resources manager and an intern working his first day at a suburban Chicago manufacturing warehouse, took a gun he wasn’t supposed to have to a job he was about to lose.

Right after learning Friday that he was being fired from his job of 15 years at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Gary Martin pulled out a gun and began shooting, killing the three people in the room with him and two others just outside and wounding a sixth employee, police said Saturday.

Martin shot and wounded five of the first officers to get to the scene, including one who didn’t even make it inside the sprawling warehouse in Aurora, Illinois, a city of 200,000 about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

After that flurry of shots and with officers from throughout the region streaming in to help, he ran off and hid in the back of the building, where officers found him about an hour later and killed him during an exchange of gunfire, police said.

"He was probably waiting for us to get to him there," Aurora police Lt. Rick Robertson said. "It was just a very short gunfight and it was over, so he was basically in the back waiting for us and fired upon us and our officers fired."

Like in many of the country’s mass shootings, Friday’s attack was carried out by a man with a violent criminal history who was armed with a gun he wasn’t supposed to have.

Martin, 45, had six arrests over the years in Aurora, for what police Chief Kristen Ziman described as "traffic and domestic battery-related issues" and for violating an order of protection. He also had a 1995 felony conviction for aggravated assault in Mississippi that should have prevented him from buying his gun, Ziman said.

He was able to buy the Smith and Wesson .40-caliber handgun on March 11, 2014, because he was issued a firearm owner’s identification card two months earlier after passing an initial background check. It wasn’t until he applied for a concealed carry permit five days after buying the gun and went through a more rigorous background check using digital fingerprinting that his Mississippi conviction was flagged and his firearm owner’s ID car was revoked, Ziman said. Once his card was revoked, he could no longer legally have a gun.

"Absolutely, he was not supposed to be in possession of a firearm," she said.

But he was, and on Friday he took it and several magazines of ammunition to work.

Scott Hall, president and CEO of Mueller Water Products Inc., which owns Henry Pratt, said that Martin came to work for his normal shift Friday and was being fired when he started shooting.

"We can confirm that the individual was being terminated Friday for a culmination of a various workplace rules violations," he told a news conference Saturday. He gave no details of the violations by Martin at the plant that makes valves for industrial purposes.

A company background check of Martin when he joined Henry Pratt 15 years ago did not turn up a 1995 felony conviction for aggravated assault in Mississippi, Hall said.

The employee who survived being shot is recovering at a hospital, Ziman said Saturday. None of the officers who were shot received life-threatening wounds, she said.

Police identified the slain workers as human resources manager Clayton Parks of Elgin; plant manager Josh Pinkard of Oswego; mold operator Russell Beyer of Yorkville; stock room attendant and fork lift operator Vicente Juarez of Oswego; and human resources intern and Northern Illinois University student Trevor Wehner, who lived in DeKalb and grew up in Sheridan.

It was Wehner’s first day on the job, his uncle Jay Wehner told The Associated Press. Trevor Wehner, 21, was on the dean’s list at NIU’s business college and was on track to graduate in May with a degree in human resource management.

"He always, always was happy. I have no bad words for him. He was a wonderful person. You can’t say anything but nice things about him," Jay Wehner said of his nephew.

___

Associated Press writers Carrie Antlfinger and Amanda Seitz contributed to this report. Babwin and Rousseau reported from Chicago.

Source: Fox News National

Aurora shooting victims ranged from intern to plant manager

The victims of a disgruntled employee who opened fire at a suburban Chicago industrial warehouse were co-workers ranging from an intern to the plant manager. A look at the victims:

TREVOR WEHNER

The 21-year-old Northern Illinois University student was on his first day as an intern in human resources at Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora and attended the fateful meeting where the gunman was fired and then started shooting.

Jay Wehner said his nephew grew up about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Aurora in Sheridan and was expected to graduate from Northern Illinois University in May with a degree in human resource management. He was on the dean’s list at NIU’s business college.

"He always, always was happy," Jay Wehner said. "I have no bad words for him. He was a wonderful person. You can’t say anything but nice things about him."

RUSS BEYER

Ted Beyer said his son had a "big heart" and tried his best to make his office a better place. He told the Chicago Sun-Times that’s why the 20-year mold operator and union chairman sat in on Gary Martin’s termination meeting Friday afternoon. Ted Beyer said his son had helped Martin win back his job months earlier.

Russ Beyer was shot outside the meeting

"He was a hard worker, just like I was," Ted Beyer, 71, said of his son. "I loved him … We were close. He was my first kid."

Russ Beyer had followed in the footsteps of his father, a previous union chairman who worked at Henry Pratt Co. for four decades. Ted and his 46-year-old son enjoyed camping, fishing and swimming together, usually at Taylorville Lake in central Illinois.

They also shared one more connection: Ted Beyer had also previously vouched for Martin in grievance meetings with management. Beyer remembered Martin as a kind, caring man who brought him coffee and walked with him following back surgery.

But, Beyer said, that doesn’t take away the pain of losing Russ, the oldest of three children, who also had two adult children of his own.

"Anybody who knew him knew he had a big heart," Ted Beyer said of his son. "I just recently lost my sister and now this and, you know, it hurts. It’s just like somebody reached in there and took your heart out."

CLAYTON PARKS

The 32-year-old from Elgin, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Aurora, had just joined Henry Pratt in November 2018 as HR manager responsible for operations in Aurora, Illinois, Hammond, Indiana and Denver, the company said. He also was in the meeting where the gunman was being fired from his job.

Parks was married and had an infant son Axel, according to a Facebook post by his wife Abby.

"Every time I’ve closed my eyes over the last twelve hours, I’ve opened them hoping to wake from a terrible dream, but that’s not the case," Abby posted. "I’m living my worst nightmare. My husband, my love, my best friend."

Parks was a 2014 graduate of the Northern Illinois University College of Business.

VICENTE JUAREZ

Neighbors remembered Vicente Juarez as a hard-working grandfather and rock of his tight-knit family.

Juarez was shot outside the meeting where the gunman was being fired from his job. Juarez had been employed at Henry Pratt since 2006 and was a member of the shipping and warehouse team in Aurora. He had held several other jobs previously in the warehouse, the company said.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Juarez lived with his wife, adult daughter and four grandchildren in a subdivision in Oswego, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) south of Aurora

Relatives declined comment, saying they appreciate the support but are still dealing with the shock. Neighbor Julie Zigman called Juarez "the patriarch of the family" and said "everyone looked to him."

Neighbor Joven Ang said anytime he was working outside Juarez asked him if he needed help. "That’s the kind of person he was," Ang said.

JOSH PINKARD

A native of Alabama, Pinkard became plant manager at Henry Pratt in the spring of 2018. He was also in the meeting with the gunman.

The company said Pinkard, 37, joined the parent company 13 years ago at its Albertville, Alabama facility.

The father of three earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree from University of Arkansas, according to his LinkedIn account.

"He loved God, his family and Mississippi State sports," a cousin wrote in a text to the Chicago Tribune that he said was written on behalf of Pinkard’s wife, Terra.

Source: Fox News National

NYC theater complex evacuated after manhole covers catch on fire

NEW YORK — A series of manhole fires in midtown Manhattan on Saturday forced the evacuation of a theater complex where performances of plays including "Jersey Boys" and "Avenue Q" were underway.

No injuries were reported from the manhole fires at around 8 p.m. at West 50th Street near Eighth Avenue.

But a representative for the theater complex New World Stages said patrons were evacuated as a precaution.

"Thankfully, no one was hurt," said Michael Coco, senior director of theater operations for the Shubert Organization.

The plays that were canceled for the night also included "The Play That Goes Wrong," ”Puffs" and "As Spirited History of Drinking."

Photos posted on social media show flames shooting into the air. Tim Teeman, a senior editor at the Daily Beast, posted on Twitter that he was inside the theater complex when he heard "4 or 5 bangs/explosions" and smelled smoke.

The Fire Department says the fires were under control by 9:15 p.m.

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Subway trains skipped the 50th Street station on the C and E lines while firefighters investigated.

A spokesman for Consolidated Edison said no one lost power. The cause of the fires was not known.

Source: Fox News National

Vatican defrocks former US cardinal McCarrick over sex abuse

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been found guilty by the Vatican of sex abuse and defrocked, as calls rose Saturday for Pope Francis to reveal what he knew about the once-powerful American prelate’s apparently decades-long predatory sexual behavior.

The announcement Saturday, delivered in uncharacteristically blunt language for the Vatican, meant that the 88-year-old McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., becomes the highest-ranking churchman and the first cardinal to be punished by dismissal from the clerical state, or laicization.

He was notified Friday of the decision, which was upheld upon his appeal and approved by Pope Francis.

The pontiff next week leads a summit of bishops from around the world who have been summoned to Rome help him grapple with the entrenched problems of clerical sex abuse and the systematic cover-ups by the Catholic church’s hierarchy.

Decades of revelations about priests who have sexually preyed on minors and their bosses who shuffled abusive clergy from parish to parish instead of removing them from access to children have shaken the faith of many Catholics. They also threaten the moral authority of Francis and even the survival of his papacy.

McCarrick, who in his prestigious red cardinal robes hobnobbed with presidents, other VIP politicians and pontiffs, is now barred from celebrating Mass or other sacraments including confession and from wearing clerical garb. He is to be referred to as Mr. McCarrick.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy See’s guardian of doctrinal purity, issued a decree on Jan. 11 finding McCarrick guilty of "solicitation in the sacrament of confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power," the Vatican said. That commandment forbids adultery.

On Wednesday, Congregation officials considered his appeal and upheld the decree.

The pope "recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accordance with (church) law, rendering it as ‘res iudicata,’" the Vatican said, using the Latin phrase for admitting no further recourse.

The McCarrick scandal was particularly damning to the church’s reputation because it apparently was an open secret in some ecclesial circles that he slept with adult seminarians. Francis yanked McCarrick’s rank as a cardinal in July after a U.S. church investigation found credible an allegation he fondled a teenage altar boy in the 1970s.

McCarrick’s civil lawyer, Barry Coburn, said Saturday that his client had no comment on the defrocking.

Coburn declined to say if McCarrick would stay at the residence in Kansas where he moved after Francis ordered him to live in penance and prayer while the investigation into his actions continued.

But the Salina, Kansas, diocese, said "Mr. McCarrick will continue to reside at the St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria until a decision of permanent residence is finalized."

Besides bishops arriving for the sex abuse summit, victims’ rights advocates are also converging on Rome. They are demanding that Francis, other Vatican officials and bishops elsewhere come clean about how McCarrick managed such a meteoric rise through church ranks despite reports about his sexual life.

"The pope has known from the earliest days of his papacy, or he should have known, that ex-cardinal McCarrick was a sexual predator," said Anne Barrett Doyle, an advocate at BishopAccountability.org.

"He has a resistance to removing bishops and he also has a tolerance for bishops who are sexual wrongdoers," Doyle told The Associated Press on Saturday near St. Peter’s Square.

Of the defrocking, Doyle said: "Let McCarrick be the first of many. I can think of 10 other bishops who are substantively, credibly accused of sexual abuse with minor and sexual misconduct with adults, who should be laicized."

A conservative lay group, The Catholic Association, said in a statement that much more must be done to hold accountable "those in the church hierarchy who looked the other way as McCarrick rose through their ranks" and to ensure that priestly celibacy is restored and youths are safeguarded from sexual abuse.

Walking with Doyle was Phil Saviano, a board member of BishopAccountability.org, and a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest. While calling McCarrick’s defrocking "ultimately a good thing," he said the punishment should have been meted out long ago.

He said he hoped Francis isn’t "throwing a bone to his dissenters in an attempt to quiet everybody down. And then McCarrick will be the one and only, because there are certainly many others who have allegations against them who should face some accountability."

His account of being abused helped the Boston Globe produce a Pulitzer-winning investigation into church cover-ups, which was chronicled in the movie "Spotlight."

When ordained a priest in his native New York City in 1958, McCarrick embraced a vocation that required celibacy. Later on in his career, McCarrick curried cachet at the Vatican as a stellar fundraiser. A globe-trotting powerbroker, McCarrick liked to be called "Uncle Ted" by the young seminarians he courted.

Despite apparent common knowledge in church circles of his sexual behavior, McCarrick rose up through the ranks, even serving as the spokesman for fellow U.S. bishops when they enacted a "zero tolerance" policy against sexually abusive priests in 2002.

One of his accusers, James Grein, the son of a family friend of McCarrick’s, testified to church officials that, among other abuses, McCarrick had repeatedly groped him during confession. He said the abuse, which went on for decades, began when he was 11.

"Today I am happy that the pope believed me," Grein said in a statement issued through his lawyer. He expressed hope that McCarrick "will no longer be able to use the power of Jesus’ church to manipulate families and sexually abuse children."

Grein said pressure must be put on U.S. state attorney generals and senators to change the statute of limitations for abuse cases.

"Hundreds of priests, bishops and cardinals are hiding behind man-made law," he said.

The current archdiocese of Washington, D.C., where McCarrick was posted at the pinnacle of his career from 2001-2006, said it hoped that the Vatican decision "serves to help the healing process for survivors of abuse, as well as those who have experienced disappointment or disillusionment because of what former Archbishop McCarrick has done."

Complaints were also made about McCarrick’s conduct in the New Jersey dioceses of Newark and Metuchen, where he previously served.

Francis himself became implicated in the decades-long McCarrick cover-up after a former Vatican ambassador to Washington accused the pope of rehabilitating the cardinal from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI despite being told of his penchant for young men.

Francis hasn’t responded to those claims but he ordered a limited Vatican investigation. The Vatican has acknowledged the outcome may produce evidence that mistakes were made and said Francis would "follow the path of truth, wherever it may lead."

Sexual abuse scandals have threatened to taint the legacy of past papacies, including that of John Paul II, who has since been made a saint.

The Rev. Marcial Maciel, a pedophile, enjoyed John Paul II’s admiration for his success in spurring vocations and for inspiring generous financial donations.

Maciel’s predatory crimes against children were ignored for decades by the Vatican bureaucracy.

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Frances D’Emilio is on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National

France: Syrian suspect accused of crimes against humanity

French authorities have filed preliminary charges of complicity in crimes against humanity against a Syrian suspected of involvement in a bloody secret police crackdown on opposition activists.

A judicial official said Saturday the man is being held in custody pending further investigation, after being detained Tuesday near Paris as part of an international probe. The official was not authorized to be publicly named discussing an ongoing investigation.

Two other suspects were detained in Germany on Tuesday, also suspected of carrying out or aiding crimes against humanity.

Human rights groups hailed the arrests. They mark the first major breakthroughs of international investigators who are trying to track down individuals they think are responsible for atrocities committed on behalf of the Syrian government during the country’s eight-year civil war.

Source: Fox News World

8 miners rescued in Zimbabwe; others remained trapped

Eight artisanal miners who were trapped underground for several days after heavy flooding in Zimbabwe have been rescued, though some of their co-workers are still missing and feared dead.

Rescuers on Saturday pulled the exhausted, muddied survivors from the ground and took them to a tent for medical treatment. Relatives waiting at the scene ululated, cheered and hugged each other.

Dozens of gold miners were caught underground Tuesday on the outskirts of Kadoma, west of the Zimbabwean capital of Harare.

It is unclear how many miners remain trapped. The government has said a total of between 60 and 70 people were working underground at the time of the accident.

Source: Fox News World

Iran: Sabotage may be behind failed satellite launches

Iran’s foreign minister says sabotage by the U.S. is a possible reason for Tehran’s failed attempts to launch two satellites in recent months.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday in an interview with NBC News in Munich, Germany, that it’s possible there is a U.S. sabotage campaign against Iranian satellite launches. He confirmed that Iran suffered two failed attempts to launch satellites over the past two months.

"It’s quite possible. We don’t know yet," he said. "We need to look into it very carefully."

Both attempts took place despite U.S. criticism that Iran’s space program helps the country develop ballistic missiles. Iran denies the charge.

In January, the country launched a satellite, but authorities said it failed to reach the "necessary speed" in the third stage of its launch.

Source: Fox News World

Nigerians wake to find a delayed election, with some angry

Nigerians have awakened to find the presidential election delayed a week from Saturday until Feb. 23 because of what the electoral commission has called unspecified "challenges." The country’s top two political parties condemn the last-minute postponement.

Some bitter voters in the capital, Abuja, and elsewhere who traveled home to cast their ballots say they cannot afford to wait another seven days.

A spokesman for top opposition challenger Atiku Abubakar in Delta state said the electoral commission "has destroyed the soul of Nigeria with this act."

Abubakar is expected to speak to reporters later Saturday from his home in the north.

One ruling party campaign director said it is better to give the electoral commission time to conduct a credible vote.

The commission is to give more details in the afternoon.

Source: Fox News World

Iran threatens retaliation over car bombing that killed 27

The head of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard has threatened to retaliate against neighboring Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates over a suicide car bombing this week that killed 27 members of the elite organization.

Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari spoke late Friday at one of two funeral ceremonies for the victims of Wednesday’s attack in the central Iranian city of Isfahan. He claimed without providing evidence that the United States and Israel ordered Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to carry out the attack, which wounded 12.

"We definitely will retaliate," Jafari said in comments reported by the semi-official Tasnim news agency Saturday.

The bombing immediately raised the possibility of Iranian retaliation against the Jaish al-Adl Sunni militant group that claimed responsibility for the attack. It mainly operates near Iran-Pakistan border.

Source: Fox News World

AP Explains: What are India's options after Kashmir attack

With India’s national elections barely months away, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under heavy pressure from his supporters to punish nuclear-rival Pakistan for a suicide attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy that killed at least 41 soldiers in disputed Kashmir.

India placed the blame for Thursday’s bombing squarely on neighboring Pakistan, which India accuses of supporting rebels in Kashmir. Pakistan denies the charge. A look at some of the steps India is likely to consider:

DIPLOMATIC ISOLATION

India’s first public reaction to the attack was to withdraw the most-favored nation trade status given to Pakistan and take all possible diplomatic steps "to ensure the complete isolation from international community of Pakistan." New Delhi insists "incontrovertible evidence is available of (Pakistan) having a direct hand in this gruesome terrorist incident." The Greater Kashmir newspaper reported that a militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, headquartered in Pakistan, claimed responsibility. India’s foreign ministry on Friday briefed New Delhi-based diplomats of key countries, including China, which has in the past blocked India’s proposal to list Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist by the United Nations. The ministry demanded Pakistan take "immediate and verifiable action against terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control to create conducive atmosphere in the region free of terror."

MILITARY STRIKES

After a 2016 attack on an Indian army base that killed 19 soldiers, India’s army said it carried out a campaign of "surgical strikes" against militants across the highly militarized frontier that divides the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan. Pakistan dismissed the reports that India’s military had targeted "terrorist launch pads" inside the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir. Islamabad said instead that two of its soldiers were killed in "unprovoked" firing by India across the border. Following the latest attack — the worst in Kashmir’s history — Modi warned that those behind it would pay a heavy price and that security forces have been given a free hand to act against terror. The Times of India newspaper reported Saturday that the military options — short of two nuclear-armed rivals going to war — could range from "shallow ground-based attacks and occupation of some heights along the Line of Control (cease-fire line) to restricted but precision airstrikes against non-state targets in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir." G.Parthasarthy, India’s former high commissioner to Pakistan, said a possible military response can’t be discussed in public. "We have said that Pakistan will pay a price. For obvious reasons we are not going to spell out how that cost would be imposed." Paul Staniland, a political science professor and South Asia expert at the University of Chicago, said that the Pakistan army is assuming it will be attacked and that Indian forces are preparing for a serious incursion of some sort.

DOMESTIC PRESSURE

Indian analysts say no political party could afford to neglect public opinion ahead of Indian elections. Already, protesters chanted "Attack Pakistan" and fiery debates on television channels demanded retaliation. "’I think the situation is extremely tense. The mood in the country is extremely angry at what has happened. And moreover there are elections in the offing. No party could afford to neglect public opinion,’" said Amitabh Mattoo, professor of international studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. Staniland said the stakes were too high for India to do nothing at all. "Modi is in a tricky position. Indian forces are quite capable but it’s not obvious what kinds of strikes would accomplish the core goal. Kashmir and Pakistan are among the few foreign policy topics that have real electoral resonance." Elections are scheduled to be held before May.

US RESPONSE

The U.S. singled out Pakistan in a statement condemning the attack and said it strengthened U.S. resolve to bolster counterterrorism cooperation with India. To improve India’s military capabilities, the U.S. has offered to sell it unarmed Guardian surveillance drones, aircraft carrier technologies and F-18 and F-16 fighter aircraft. There are sticking points, however, including the purchase by India of Iranian oil and the Russian S-400 ground-to-air missile system, which could trigger U.S. sanctions on India.

THE HIMALAYAN PUZZLE

Indian-controlled Kashmir has remained a challenge for India’s policymakers ever since the Himalayan territory was split between India and Pakistan shortly after the two archrivals gained independence in 1947. The territory has been at the heart of India’s two wars out of four the country fought against Pakistan and China. Human rights groups say India has been responding to public protest with disproportionate force while treating the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination as Islamabad’s proxy war against New Delhi. New Delhi initially grappled with largely peaceful anti-India protests. However, a series of political blunders, broken promises and a crackdown on dissent led to Kashmir’s eruption into a full blown armed rebellion against India in 1989 for a united Kashmir, either under Pakistan rule or independent of both. The conflict has intensified since Modi came to power in 2014 amid rising attacks by Hindu hard-liners against minorities in India, further deepening frustration with New Delhi’s rule in the Muslim-majority Kashmir. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharitya Janata Party-led government has toughened its stance both against Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists. Policy experts say such an approach is intended to project the party as strong and uncompromising. But Modi’s policies have also had the unintended consequence of strengthening the resolve of those fighting for an end to India’s rule in Kashmir.

VIEW FROM PAKISTAN

After Imran Khan took over as Pakistani prime minister last August, he promised to take two steps forward for India’s one step to forge friendly ties. He said Kashmir is at the core of their differences and they have to end the tit-for-tat accusations. But the peace initiative remained a non-starter with violence rising in the Indian portion of Kashmir and India asking Pakistan to stop supporting insurgents. Khan has now proposed to hold talks with India after the Indian elections. The former cricketer is very popular in India. He recently offered to open a Sikh religious shrine for Indian visitors on the Pakistani side of the border in Punjab province as a peace gesture. But in September, India pulled the plug on a rare meeting between its foreign minister and her Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of a U.N. summit — a move that was termed "arrogant" by Khan and unleashed a barrage of insults from both sides. India says it has not seen any constructive approach from Pakistan.

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Associated Press writer Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News World

2nd arrest in robbery that led to NYPD friendly fire death

Police arrested a man Friday suspected of being the lookout during a robbery that led to the friendly fire death of a New York City police detective, an official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press.

The man was taken into custody in Queens hours after NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill revealed on a radio show that police were looking for a second suspect in Tuesday night’s stick-up, the official said.

The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity. The suspect’s name wasn’t immediately available Friday night.

Detective Brian Simonsen was hit once in the chest by crossfire as he and six other officers fired 42 shots at robbery suspect Christopher Ransom, who police say charged at them from inside a T-Mobile store pointing a fake handgun.

Simonsen, 42, will be laid to rest next week.

Ransom, who was wounded eight times, was arraigned Friday by video from his hospital bed on murder, manslaughter and other charges.

A judge ordered him held without bail. His next court date is scheduled for Tuesday. Ransom faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

The Legal Aid Society, which represents Ransom, cautioned people not to "demonize" him.

"The loss of life and the serious injuries suffered by all are tragic," the an indigent defense organization said in a statement. "But we ask the public to respect Mr. Ransom’s right to due process and a presumption of innocence."

Ransom, 27, has a long rap sheet and a habit of bizarre stunts, styling himself on social media as a comedian and prankster in the vein of Sasha Baron Cohen of "Borat" fame.

Ransom has been arrested at least 11 times since 2012, records show, and he was wanted by police in connection with a Jan. 19 robbery at another cellphone store. After one arrest, court papers show, Ransom was taken to a psychiatric ward.

Ransom pleaded guilty to criminal trespass and was sentenced to 20 days in jail in 2016 after allegedly climbing over a gate and walking up to a desk at a Brooklyn police station while wearing a fake SWAT vest and police badge. Police records listed his alias as "Detective."

Four years earlier, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to jail time for pretending to be an intern to gain access to a judge’s chambers.

A funeral for Simonsen, a 19-year veteran of the NYPD, is scheduled for Wednesday in Hampton Bays on Long Island, with viewings on Monday and Tuesday.

Simonsen’s supervisor and partner, Sgt. Matthew Gorman, was wounded in the leg . He was discharged from the hospital on Thursday.

Simonsen, Gorman and six uniformed officers swarmed to the T-Mobile store at around 6:10 p.m. Tuesday after a 911 caller standing outside reported seeing a man take two employees to a back room at gunpoint, police said.

According to a criminal complaint, Ransom ordered the employees to remove iPhones and money from the cash registers and back room safes.

Simonsen and Gorman, who were both in plainclothes and not wearing bulletproof vests, were working on another case nearby when the call came and arrived around the same time as patrol officers, police said.

Gorman and two of the uniformed officers went into the store, but retreated when Ransom emerged from a back room and came at them, police said. The gunshots blew out the store’s doors, showering the sidewalk with glass.

Simonsen stayed outside as Gorman and the uniformed officers went in, police said. Simonsen fired two shots. Gorman fired 11 times. It’s not clear who fired the shots that struck them, police said.

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Follow Michael Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak

Source: Fox News National

Illinois man being fired from job fatally shoots 5 workers

The man who opened fire and killed five co-workers including the plant manager, human resources manager and an intern working his first day at a suburban Chicago manufacturing warehouse, took a gun he wasn’t supposed to have to a job he was about to lose.

Right after learning Friday that he was being fired from his job of 15 years at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Gary Martin pulled out a gun and began shooting, killing the three people in the room with him and two others just outside and wounding a sixth employee, police said Saturday.

Martin shot and wounded five of the first officers to get to the scene, including one who didn’t even make it inside the sprawling warehouse in Aurora, Illinois, a city of 200,000 about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago.

After that flurry of shots and with officers from throughout the region streaming in to help, he ran off and hid in the back of the building, where officers found him about an hour later and killed him during an exchange of gunfire, police said.

"He was probably waiting for us to get to him there," Aurora police Lt. Rick Robertson said. "It was just a very short gunfight and it was over, so he was basically in the back waiting for us and fired upon us and our officers fired."

Like in many of the country’s mass shootings, Friday’s attack was carried out by a man with a violent criminal history who was armed with a gun he wasn’t supposed to have.

Martin, 45, had six arrests over the years in Aurora, for what police Chief Kristen Ziman described as "traffic and domestic battery-related issues" and for violating an order of protection. He also had a 1995 felony conviction for aggravated assault in Mississippi that should have prevented him from buying his gun, Ziman said.

He was able to buy the Smith and Wesson .40-caliber handgun on March 11, 2014, because he was issued a firearm owner’s identification card two months earlier after passing an initial background check. It wasn’t until he applied for a concealed carry permit five days after buying the gun and went through a more rigorous background check using digital fingerprinting that his Mississippi conviction was flagged and his firearm owner’s ID car was revoked, Ziman said. Once his card was revoked, he could no longer legally have a gun.

"Absolutely, he was not supposed to be in possession of a firearm," she said.

But he was, and on Friday he took it and several magazines of ammunition to work.

Scott Hall, president and CEO of Mueller Water Products Inc., which owns Henry Pratt, said that Martin came to work for his normal shift Friday and was being fired when he started shooting.

"We can confirm that the individual was being terminated Friday for a culmination of a various workplace rules violations," he told a news conference Saturday. He gave no details of the violations by Martin at the plant that makes valves for industrial purposes.

A company background check of Martin when he joined Henry Pratt 15 years ago did not turn up a 1995 felony conviction for aggravated assault in Mississippi, Hall said.

The employee who survived being shot is recovering at a hospital, Ziman said Saturday. None of the officers who were shot received life-threatening wounds, she said.

Police identified the slain workers as human resources manager Clayton Parks of Elgin; plant manager Josh Pinkard of Oswego; mold operator Russell Beyer of Yorkville; stock room attendant and fork lift operator Vicente Juarez of Oswego; and human resources intern and Northern Illinois University student Trevor Wehner, who lived in DeKalb and grew up in Sheridan.

It was Wehner’s first day on the job, his uncle Jay Wehner told The Associated Press. Trevor Wehner, 21, was on the dean’s list at NIU’s business college and was on track to graduate in May with a degree in human resource management.

"He always, always was happy. I have no bad words for him. He was a wonderful person. You can’t say anything but nice things about him," Jay Wehner said of his nephew.

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Associated Press writers Carrie Antlfinger and Amanda Seitz contributed to this report. Babwin and Rousseau reported from Chicago.

Source: Fox News National

Flamengo soccer club fire in Brazil: bad luck or negligence?

Within hours of a fire at soccer club Flamengo’s training facility that would kill 10 teenage players, the club’s president called it "the worst tragedy" in the team’s 123-year history.

Soccer greats around the world expressed condolences, Rio de Janeiro’s mayor declared three days of mourning and the club, Brazil’s most popular and one of the most recognizable in Latin America, commemorated the boys during its latest home game on Thursday. Club officials repeatedly said the fire was simply a question of bad luck.

"It was not because of lack of attention and care from Flamengo. These boys are our biggest asset," said Flamengo’s CEO Reinaldo Belotti a day after the Feb. 8 blaze. "It was all a succession of events after a catastrophic day for Rio."

But for at least four years before the blaze, the club flouted city and code regulations at the training facility, incurred numerous fines and was the target of a lawsuit by state prosecutors related to the treatment of its academy players and their living quarters, an Associated Press review of city documents and a lawsuit has found. What’s more, a material used in the construction of the dorms, polyurethane, could have fueled the fast-moving blaze that engulfed the players, according to fire experts.

The findings raise questions about whether negligence by the team and a collective failure of authorities to regulate the training grounds ultimately played the largest roles in the tragedy.

"This is an irregular construction," city hall spokesman Tiago Costa told The Associated Press when asked about the container-like structures where 26 players were sleeping when fire struck.

Officials have not given an official cause for the blaze, though they have said they are investigating the possibility that an air conditioning unit caught fire after a power surge.

For years, the club had its academy players, teens between the ages of 14 and 16 identified as potential future professionals, sleeping in quarters that were never approved by the city. In fact, the area that burned was licensed as a parking lot, not a dormitory.

The most recent city license for the club, from April of last year, had no mention of sleeping quarters anywhere on the sprawling complex known as Ninho de Urubu in western Rio de Janeiro.

Since the dormitory didn’t officially exist, firefighting officials said they did not inspect or certify it.

The burned area "was not part of the security plan against fire or panic presented by the club and approved by the Fire Department," state firefighters said in a statement to the AP.

Bernardo Monteiro, a Flamengo spokesman, told the AP that the team had used the containers since 2010. He said there was one exit and the structures had fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, though could not say how many.

The existence of the containers was well known by authorities.

In March 2015, Rio state prosecutors filed a suit against the club demanding the closure of the training facility unless several irregularities were rectified.

Prosecutors demanded the club "address all the inherent peculiarities in the care of children and adolescents, from the pedagogical, social, psychological and medical all the way to the adequacy of accommodation facilities," read the suit.

The suit also called for the facility to be closed until there was "proof of compliance with the conditions imposed by the Fire Department, Civil Defense and City Hall," and any infraction to be met with a $27,000 fine.

Nearly four years later, no decision was made on the case — until Wednesday, five days after the deadly fire.

In a blistering ruling, Judge Pedro Henrique Alves said that Flamengo hadn’t just failed to address the demands in the suit, but also "didn’t even inform the court" of other changes it had made since the suit was filed.

Flamengo "used as lodging for adolescents containers that, unfortunately, caught fire, taking the lives of 10 (players) and injuring three others," he wrote, adding that children and adolescents were barred from entering the facility until further notice. Any infraction would result in a US$2.8 million fine.

The club was also frequently in the crosshairs of city officials: it was fined 31 times over the last few years for licensing violations, and in October 2017 the training facility was temporarily closed.

"If you are fined 30 times, you can’t keep postponing and get 20 more. Something has to be done," Arthur Antunes Coimbra, one of the club’s most famous players known as "Zico," told Globo’s SporTV this week.

Police have opened an investigation and say that criminal charges are possible.

Meanwhile, the company that made the dormitory, NHJ do Brasil, told the AP in a statement that its structures were made in accordance with the latest international standards. It also said the structure that burned was made of a metallic shell and lined on the inside with galvanized thermal acoustic panels that had a polyurethane core that was "self-extinguishing."

"In other words, the modules are made of metal and filled in with anti-inflammable material," said the company, which declined to answer whether the structures came with fire extinguishers, smoke detectors or air-conditioning units.

Polyurethane is an expanded plastic, or plastic injected with air, that is widely used in construction. While it can be treated with retardant, it can also burn very quickly if it catches fire from another source, three fire experts not involved in the investigation told the AP.

"Polyurethane foam used in this way is a cheap technology and dangerous from a fire protection perspective," said David Howitt, an emeritus professor at the University of California at Davis and expert in combustion. "These so-called ‘fire retardant’ foams are not retardants to the degree that the manufacturers suggest and are frequently grossly overstated."

Robert Solomon, a fire engineer with the Quincy, Massachusetts-based National Fire Protection Association, reviewed security camera video of the blaze and pictures of the aftermath. The images show drooping metallic roofs, mangled black panels and many objects so badly charred that they are indistinguishable.

Solomon said he found at least three red flags: only one exit, bars on some of the windows and an apparent lack of basic protective tools like smoke alarms. And the video footage appeared to show "flashover," when every combustible thing in an area is burning, he said. Flashover temperatures, upward of 1,900 Fahrenheit (1,037 Celsius), are so high that a person can become paralyzed, even if the flames are not touching them.

"At that point, it’s like being trapped in a prison with no way to escape," said Solomon.

After the fire, the Rio state prosecutor’s office formed a task force focused on financial compensation of the victims’ families. Many families whose children stay at academies are low income, and sometimes live far from the team.

Some family members and friends of victims have quietly questioned the safety measures the team had in place.

"There should have been an emergency door. There wasn’t," said Severino Fausto Santana, while attending the funeral of 15-year-old nephew Samuel Thomas de Souza Rosa. "That’s why the 10 (boys) died."

But for the most part, families have remained quiet, either declining to speak about Flamengo or lauded the club’s effort at a time of great grief.

"Flamengo is very useful and helping with everything," said Sergio Morikawa, who was not the biological father but was helping to raise 15-year-old Vitor Isaias, one of the kids who died. "I don’t want to judge, work myself up or blame anyone."

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Follow Diane Jeantet: twitter.com/dianejeantet

Follow Peter Prengaman: twitter.com/peterprengaman

Source: Fox News World

Saudi crown prince delays visit to Pakistan by a day

Pakistani officials say the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been delayed by a day.

Without giving any explanation for the delay, the Foreign Ministry says Prince Mohammad will now arrive in Islamabad on a two-day visit on Sunday and that his program remains unchanged.

The crown prince is expected to sign investment agreements worth billions of dollars. He will also travel to neighboring India amid heightened tension between Islamabad and New Delhi over this week’s attack on a paramilitary convoy in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 41 people.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed Pakistan for Thursday’s bombing.

Pakistan rejected the allegation and has lodged a protest over the Indian accusations.

Source: Fox News World

Border declaration protesters arrested at NYC Trump hotel

Some people have been arrested while protesting President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration outside a New York City hotel that bears his name.

The NYPD wasn’t immediately able to say how many people were taken into custody Friday night outside the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Manhattan.

Video shows protesters going peacefully with their hands zip-tied behind their backs as officers lead them to police vans. They’ll likely be charged with disorderly conduct and blocking traffic.

Trump declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday in a move to secure more money for his long-promised wall.

Protesters outside the Columbus Circle hotel held signs with slogans such as "Abolish I.C.E." and ‘Trump Is The Emergency."

Trump developed the 44-story hotel, but it is owned by other investors.

Source: Fox News National

2020 Dems hit early voting states; Weld explores GOP bid

Several Democratic presidential candidates are spending the long holiday weekend on the campaign trail, while a Republican has announced he’s creating an exploratory committee for a possible 2020 run.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California are visiting early voting states on Friday that will be critical to securing the Democratic nomination next year.

Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, who ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2016, said Friday that he was considering challenging President Donald Trump in a 2020 Republican primary.

A look at midterm campaign activities ahead of Presidents Day weekend:

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GILLIBRAND

Gillibrand, in New Hampshire, participated in a walking tour of downtown Concord before visiting businesses in Dover and meeting members of the LGBT community in Somersworth.

On Friday, she called Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border "inappropriate" and said Trump manufactured a crisis to justify the move.

The only national emergency, she said, "is the humanitarian crisis that President Trump has created at our border from separating family from children and treating people who need our help inhumanely."

Gillibrand visited a coffee shop in downtown Concord before stopping to listen to a homeless man, Kevin Clark, play a song by Cat Stevens called "Father and Son." She praised his singing and gave him a hug before heading off to a consignment shop, where she bought a vase and a small plate.

Later Friday, Gillibrand spoke at Teatotaller, a cafe in Somersworth that refers to itself as an "oasis of queer, hipster, tea, coffee and pastry goodness."

She told the crowd that she would advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ community and called it "an outrage" for Trump to tell transgender people what bathrooms they can use or whether they are qualified to serve in the military. She said she would support the addition of a non-binary or third gender classification.

Gillibrand also spoke out in favor of the Green Neal Deal, a set of proposed programs that aim to address climate change.

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HARRIS

Harris, who is campaigning in South Carolina, visited Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the site of the 2015 shooting that killed nine African-American churchgoers.

Speaking to reporters after a lunchtime stop, Harris said she’d visited the church, known as Mother Emanuel, earlier Friday and called it a "very tragic symbol of failure of people, in particular in the United States Congress, to pass smart gun safety laws."

Mother Emanuel is one of the oldest black churches in the South. During her visit, Harris paid her respects and left flowers. The church has been a pillar of African-American and spiritual life in South Carolina.

At a town hall in North Charleston later Friday, the scoreboard overhead in the gymnasium was changed to reflect the date of South Carolina’s Democratic primary: Feb. 29, 2020. The crowd swelled, and some attendees climbed on top of folded bleachers for makeshift seating.

Harris talked about the bill that the Senate passed this week that would explicitly make lynching a federal crime. Harris, one of three black members of the Senate, introduced the bill with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Booker is also running for president.

Harris says lynchings are "a stain on America’s history."

While in South Carolina, she received an endorsement for president from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said on MSNBC: "I think the American people could not do better" than Harris.

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WELD

Weld, who is little-known on the national stage but well-respected among veterans in the GOP established, announced the creation of an exploratory committee for president on Friday.

The move makes Trump the first incumbent president since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.

Weld served as Massachusetts governor from 1991 to 1997 and was popular despite being a Republican in a heavily Democratic state. He held the line on spending and taxes but embraced liberal positions on abortion and gay rights.

Trump remains very popular with Republicans so he faces little risk of losing the GOP nomination.

But primary challenges often foreshadow trouble ahead for incumbent presidents. Bush and Democrat Jimmy Carter lost their bids for a second term after facing challenges from inside their own party.

Source: Fox News National

Explosive device found, disarmed in Mexican mall

Authorities on the outskirts of Mexico’s capital are investigating a homemade explosive device found in a shopping mall bathroom.

The Mexico state security secretary said in a statement Friday that the device discovered inside a mall in Tlalnepantla included a battery detonator and analog clock, as well as nuts and screws. It was housed in a small wooden box.

State police disarmed the device and turned it over to federal prosecutors.

Local press reported that the device was found inside a bathroom and was housed in a cigar box. Janitors allegedly found it about an hour before it was set to detonate.

Source: Fox News World

Graham: US should be stronger on Canadians detained in China

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham says the response by the United States to China detaining two Canadians in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese Huawei executive has not been strong enough.

Graham also told Munich Security Conference delegates Friday the international reaction to China’s arrest of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor hasn’t been enough to persuade China that its apparent use of hostage diplomacy won’t be tolerated.

Graham says President Donald Trump "has been tough on China but this is one area where I think we need to make a more definitive statement, because the two people arrested in China had nothing to do with the rule of law. It was just grabbing two Canadians."

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland mouthed the words "thank you" to Graham.

Source: Fox News World

Graham: US should be stronger on Canadians detained in China

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham says the response by the United States to China detaining two Canadians in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese Huawei executive has not been strong enough.

Graham also told Munich Security Conference delegates Friday the international reaction to China’s arrest of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor hasn’t been enough to persuade China that its apparent use of hostage diplomacy won’t be tolerated.

Graham says President Donald Trump "has been tough on China but this is one area where I think we need to make a more definitive statement, because the two people arrested in China had nothing to do with the rule of law. It was just grabbing two Canadians."

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland mouthed the words "thank you" to Graham.

Source: Fox News World


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