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A Florida congressman's aide has been fired after spreading a conspiracy theory that some of the Flordia school shooting victims calling for gun control were actors. Benjamin Kelly, an aide to Republican state representative Shawn Harrison, sent an email to a Tampa Bay Times journalist claiming that two survivors of the Parkland tragedy, speaking up after 17 of their classmates were killed in a school shooting, were not real students. The 61-year-old wrote: "Both kids in the picture are not students [at Stoneman Douglas] but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen." The newspaper reported that after it asked for evidence for this allegation, the aide sent a YouTube conspiracy video targeting one of the students. After publication of Kelly's claims, he was fired. Harrison said he was “appalled at and strongly denounce his comments”, adding that he was “sorry for any pain this has caused the grieving families of this tragedy”. He tweeted: "I do not share his opinion and he did so without my knowledge." Here's the email. I asked for more information to back up the claim and was sent another email that linked to a YouTube conspiracy video. pic.twitter.com/VRSVOcjj3E— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 20, 2018 Kelly apologised for his actions, saying that he "made a mistake whereas I tried to inform a reporter of information relating to his story regarding a school shooting". He added: "This was not my responsibility. I meant no disrespect to the students or parents of Parkland." Tonight Mr. Kelly was terminated from his position as my District Secretary. I am appalled at and strongly denounce his comments about the Parkland students. I am again sorry for any pain this has caused the grieving families of this tragedy.— Shawn Harrison (@Shawnfor63) February 21, 2018 Robert Runcie, Broward County school superintendent, told CNN: “These are absolutely students at Stoneman Douglas. They’ve been there. I can verify that.” He said the comments were "outrageous and disrespectful" and "part of what's wrong with the narrative in this country". Jaclyn Corin, the school's 11th-grade class president, wrote on Twitter: "We are KIDS — not actors. We are KIDS that have grown up in Parkland all of our lives. We are KIDS who feared for our lives while someone shot up our school. We are KIDS working to prevent this from happening again. WE ARE KIDS." Republican Senator Marco Rubio condemned the conspiracy theorists, tweeting: "Claiming some of the students on tv after #Parkland are actors is the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency."
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's move to ban a critical news website from covering the presidential palace is a threat to press freedom, rights and media groups said on Wednesday. Rappler, set up in 2012, is among a clutch of Philippine news organisations that have sparred with Duterte over their critical coverage of his drug war which the government says has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 suspects. Human rights groups charge that thousands more have been killed by shadowy vigilantes.
A British engineer has been charged by the FBI with murdering his wife after she disappeared at sea as they cruised around the Caribbean on a belated honeymoon. Lewis Bennett, 41, who holds dual British and Australian citizenship and is originally from Poole, Dorset, was accused of second-degree murder over the death of Isabella Hellmann, 41, on May 15 last year. He was charged in a Miami court where, according to local television station WPTV, he was also sentenced to seven months in jail for transporting valuable rare coins. After his wife's disappearance Bennett told investigators she was lost at sea when their 37ft catamaran, Surf into Summer, was struck by an unknown object near the Bahamas. According to to the FBI Bennett said he had gone below deck and left Ms Hellmann above to keep watch. He described being woken up at 1am by a jolt and the vessel was taking on water. Bennett told investigators he could not find his wife and had to abandon ship on a life raft. In an affidavit FBI special agent James Kelley said the bureau now believed Bennett "knowingly and unlawfully killed" Ms Hellmann. The FBI affidavit claimed Bennett had damaged the inside of the boat causing it to flood. Isabella Hellman and her British husband Lewis Bennett. She went missing during a honeymoon sailing trip. When Ms Hellmann disappeared the couple, who had a daughter now aged 17 months, were sailing back from Havana, Cuba to their home in Delray Beach, Florida. The daughter was not on the boat. Bennett made an SOS call in the early hours and was later spotted by a US Coast Guard helicopter. He was rescued alone from the life raft. The search for Ms Hellmann was called off three days later and her body was never found. When Bennett was rescued nine plastic tubes of silver coins were found in the life raft. They included 158 English “Year of the Horse” one-ounce silver coins and 77 Canadian Maple Leaf coins, worth about £3,200. The coins were among a batch that had been reported stolen from another boat in St Martin the previous year. Bennett had been a crew member on that boat. According to the owner of the boat the total value of the coins stolen in 2016 was around $100,000. After he was rescued Bennett said of his wife: "She is my soulmate. I thought we were going to be together forever. "I understand why they have to investigate and that is fair enough. I have got nothing to hide. They have to do what they have to do.”
By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - Sea levels will rise between 0.7 and 1.2 meters (27-47 inches) in the next two centuries even if governments end the fossil fuel era as promised under the Paris climate agreement, scientists said on Tuesday. Early action to cut greenhouse gas emissions would limit the long-term rise, driven by a thaw of ice from Greenland to Antarctica that will re-draw global coastlines, a German-led team wrote in the journal Nature Communications. Sea level rise is a threat to cities from Shanghai to London, to low-lying swathes of Florida or Bangladesh, and to entire nations such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean or Kiribati in the Pacific.
"Deep and dangerous crevices in the area of the crash have made it impossible for helicopters to land," Ghafoor Rastinrooz, director of the regional medical centre, told official news agency IRNA. Aseman Airlines flight EP3704 disappeared from radar as it flew over the Zagros mountain range on Sunday morning, around 45 minutes after taking off from Tehran on a domestic flight.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said Turkish forces would soon lay siege to Syria's Afrin as a cross-border offensive targeting a Kurdish militia entered its second month. On January 20, Ankara launched an air and ground operation supporting Syrian rebels against the People's Protection Units (YPG) in the Afrin region of northern Syria.
(This Feb. 17 story is refiled to reflect latest update) By Aaron Maasho ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - A state of emergency imposed in Ethiopia a day after the prime minister resigned will last for six months, the defense minister said on Saturday, as authorities sought to tamp down unrest in Africa's second most populous nation. Outbreaks of violence had continued in parts of the country and the government was banning protests, along with the preparation and dissemination of publications "that could incite and sow discord", Defence Minister Siraj Fegessa told reporters. "The government has previously made several efforts to curtail violence, but lives have continued to be lost, many have been displaced and economic infrastructure has been damaged," he said.
A former child bride who fled a fundamentalist Mormon cult has told how the sect’s leader reminded her she was “the property” of her husband after she begged him to free her from the forced marriage. Elissa Wall suffered multiple miscarriages after being made to marry her cousin at the age of 14 under the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Jeffs, said to have had 78 wives and more than 50 children in the Utah church, was jailed for life in 2011 after being convicted of sexually assaulting two girls aged 12 and 15.
Mount Sinabung in Indonesia has erupted once again shooting plumes of smoke and hot ash over 23,000 feet into the air. The volcano had not been active for four centuries until 2010 and since then it has displaced 30,000 people. Indonesia on Monday raised flight warnings around the volcano on Sumatra island to their highest level after its biggest eruption this year. Mount Sinabung erupts thick volcanic ash in Karo on Sumatra island on February 19, 2018. Credit: TIBTA PANGIN/Source: AFP Areas around the crater of the volcano, located about 1,181 miles northwest of the capital, Jakarta, have been off-limits for several years because of frequent volcanic activity. The Bureau of Meteorology's Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VACC), in Australia's northern city of Darwin, issued maps on Monday showing an ash cloud heading in three directions from Sinabung, to the north, northwest and south-southeast. Indonesia also upgraded its Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) to red, its highest warning, and said the ash-cloud top had reached 23,872 feet, according to a ground observer. An Indonesian man takes picture of Mount Sinabung volcano as it spews thick volcanic ash into the air in Karo, North Sumatra, on February 19, 2018 Credit: ENDRO RUSHARYANTO/AFP Sinabung is about 47 miles southwest of Kualanamu International Airport in Medan. Nur Isnin Istianto, head of the regional airport authority, said Kutacane airport in Aceh province had been closed, but the wind direction allowed the airport of Kualanamu, Meulaboh and Silangit to remain open. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia's Disaster Agency, said the eruption began on Monday morning, accompanied by multiple earthquakes and showering surrounding villages with small rocks. "In five districts it became dark with a visibility of about 5 metres," he said in a statement. School children walk as Mount Sinabung erupts in Karo, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018 Credit: Sarianto/AP No casualties were reported. The agency urged the public to stay out of a 4-mile exclusion zone around the crater, and watch for further warnings, which could cover floods. The 8,071-ft tall volcano is among Indonesia's most active. When Sinabung erupted in 2014, more than a dozen people were killed and thousands were evacuated.
Iran issued a fiery warning to Israel on Monday threatening to raze Tel Aviv if Benjamin Netanyahu followed through on his recent threat to act against it. "About Netanyahu's unwise words, I should say that if they carry out the slightest unwise move against Iran, we will level Tel Aviv to the ground and will not give any opportunity to Netanyahu to flee,” said Mohsen Rezaie, Iran’s expediency council secretary, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency. With tensions increasing in the Middle East over Iran’s role in Syria and Yemen and as US President Donald Trump presses for a tougher approach on Tehran, Israel is seeking wider support to contain its regional nemesis. The two countries traded harsh words during the Munich Security Conference at the weekend. Mr Netanyahu brandished a piece of what he said was an Iranian drone after its incursion into Israeli airspace earlier this month and said: "Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck. "We will act if necessary not just against Iran's proxies but against Iran itself.” He also urged his audience to help contain Iran and made his point with a map which he said illustrated Iran’s growing influence across the Middle East. But Mr Rezaie played down the remarks as a theatrical move and a childish game, according to Fars, and added: "The US and Israeli leaders don’t know Iran and don’t understand the power of resistance and therefore, they continuously face defeat." At a glance | Islamic Republic of Iran The tough words on both sides at the international event come as Israel is increasingly seeking to cooperate with Sunni Arab states that share its worries about Shia Iran. For months, Mr Netanyahu has touted what he describes as unprecedented levels of behind-the-scenes cooperation. Among Israel's main concerns is Lebanon, where the heavily armed Iran-backed Shi'ite militia Hezbollah is part of a coalition government. Telegraph view: The theatre of war Israel last fought a war against Hezbollah in 2006. Tension between Israel and Lebanon has increased as Hezbollah has gained strength fighting in Syria, and the two countries also have a maritime border dispute. Israel has carried out air strikes in Syria against suspected Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah and has accused Tehran of planning to build missile factories in Lebanon.
A British academic who blackmailed victims into sending him increasingly depraved images which he shared on dark web forums was jailed for 32 years on Monday after admitting 137 offences which included encouraging the rape of a four-year-old boy. Dr Matthew Falder, 29, a geophysicist employed as a researcher at Birmingham University in central England, duped victims by masquerading as a depressed female artist on forums and mainstream online advertising websites. Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA), said he approached more than 300 people worldwide, with 45 victims represented in the charges against him.
President Donald Trump blasted the FBI, his own Justice Department and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, the previous Congress, Democrats, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey in a Twitter tirade in the wake of indictments against 13 Russians in the investigation of interference in the 2016 presidential election.
A back channel of communication between Israel and Pakistan could temper miscalculations or malicious attempts to artificially increase tensions between the two countries. The advancement of Pakistan’s nuclear-missile capabilities and Israel’s growing military ties with India are increasing their respective military relevance for each other. A high degree of suspicion and mistrust exist between Israel and Pakistan.
The French government announced Monday it will allow the wolf population to grow 40 percent despite pressure from farmers in mountain regions who are worried about their sheep flocks. A new strategy unveiled by the centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron will enable the number of wolves to increase from an estimated 360 now to 500 by 2023. Hunting wiped out the grey wolf in France during the 1930s and they only returned in 1992 via Italy -- currently home to around 2,000 wolves -- before spreading into Switzerland and Germany.
Heavy Syrian regime bombardment of rebel-held Eastern Ghouta killed at least 18 civilians on Monday, a monitor said, as government forces appeared to prepare for a ground assault. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes battered the town of Hammuriyeh in Eastern Ghouta, leaving nine civilians dead. "The regime is bombing Eastern Ghouta to pave the way for a ground offensive," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.