Published: 10:09 pm, Wed. Mar. 20th, 2019Updated: 9:04 pm
Imam says New Zealand is broken-hearted but not broken
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — In a day without precedent, people across New Zealand observed the Muslim call to prayer Friday as the nation reflected on the moment one week ago when 50 people were slaughtered at two mosques.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and thousands of others congregated in leafy Hagley Park opposite the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch to observe the call to prayer at 1:30 p.m.
“New Zealand mourns with you. We are one,” Ardern said.
Thousands more listened on the radio or watched on live television. The prayer was followed by two minutes of silence.
On a light brown carpet, hundreds of Muslim men sat in socks or bare feet readying for the prayer. One man in the front row was in a Christchurch Hospital wheelchair.
US abruptly endorses Israel’s Golan sovereignty in big shift
JERUSALEM (AP) — President Donald Trump abruptly declared Thursday the U.S. will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, a major shift in American policy that gives Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a political boost a month before what is expected to be a close election.
The administration has been considering recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the strategic highlands, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967, for some time and Netanyahu had pressed the matter with visiting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just a day earlier.
U.S. and Israeli officials said Wednesday they had not expected a decision until next week, when Netanyahu is to visit the U.S.
But in a tweet that appeared to catch many by surprise, Trump said the time had come for the United States to take the step, which Netanyahu warmly welcomed as a “miracle” on the Jewish holiday of Purim.
“After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” Trump tweeted.
Europe offers UK a little more time for Brexit
BRUSSELS (AP) — Worn down by three years of indecision in London, European Union leaders on Thursday grudgingly offered the U.K. more time to ease itself out of the bloc, delaying by several weeks — but not eliminating — the threat of a chaotic British exit.
After a meeting that stretched through the afternoon and over dinner, the bloc said Britain could postpone its March 29 departure to May 22 — if the U.K. Parliament approves Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal with the bloc next week.
If the twice-rejected deal is thrown out again, the bloc says Britain has until April 12 to “indicate a way forward.”
“Now it is finally up to the British political system to provide a clear answer,” French President Emmanuel Macron said, adding that any final decision must come ahead of the May 23-26 European Parliament election.
May — who has spent almost three years telling Britons they will leave the EU on March 29, 2019 — put a positive spin on the delay.
Boeing to make safety feature standard on troubled Max jets
Boeing will make standard on its troubled new airliner a safety feature that might have helped the crew of a jet that crashed shortly after takeoff last year in Indonesia, killing everyone on board.
The equipment, which had been offered as an option, alerts pilots of faulty information from key sensors. It will now be included on every 737 Max as part of changes that Boeing is rushing to complete on the jets by early next week, according to two people familiar with the changes.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because Boeing and federal regulators are still discussing details of the upgrade to the Max fleet, which was grounded worldwide after a second deadly crash this month in Ethiopia.
The cause of the accidents has not been determined, but investigators probing the crash of a Lion Air Max jet have focused on an automated system designed to use information from two sensors to help prevent a dangerous aerodynamic stall.
The sensors measure whether the plane is pointed up, down or level in relation to the direction of onrushing air. Software on the Max can push the plane’s nose down if data from one of the sensors indicates the plane is tilted up so sharply that it could stall and fall from the sky.
Florida man pleads guilty to mailing bombs to Trump foes
NEW YORK (AP) — A Florida man pleaded guilty Thursday to sending pipe bombs to CNN and prominent critics of President Donald Trump in a wave of attacks that harmed no one but spread fear of political violence across the U.S. for days leading up to last fall’s midterm elections.
Cesar Sayoc, 57, shackled at the ankles, briefly sobbed as he entered the plea before a New York federal judge.
“I’m extremely sorry,” he said, speaking so softly that sometimes he was told to repeat himself. Though he said he never meant for the devices to explode, he conceded he knew they could.
He could get life in prison at sentencing Sept. 12 on 65 counts, including 16 counts of using a weapon of mass destruction and mailing explosives with intent to kill. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped a charge that carried a mandatory life sentence.
One charge carries a mandatory 10-year prison term that must be served in addition to his sentence on 64 other counts.
Death toll from cyclone surpasses 500 in southern Africa
BEIRA, Mozambique (AP) — A week after Cyclone Idai lashed southern Africa, flooding still raged as torrential rains caused a dam to overflow in Zimbabwe, threatening riverside populations. The confirmed death toll in Zimbabwe, neighboring Mozambique and Malawi surpassed 500 on Thursday, with hundreds more feared dead in towns and villages that were completely submerged.
Aid agencies and several governments continued to step up their deployments, with helicopters in short supply for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the cyclone.
Spokesman Herve Verhoosel of the World Food Program told reporters in Geneva of the “alarming news” that the Marowanyati dam in Zimbabwe was hit by heavy rains overnight, putting populations in the region at risk.
Zimbabwe’s defense minister said more than 120 bodies had been washed into neighboring Mozambique, where residents there buried them, and more bodies were still being recovered in rivers, raising the official death toll in the country to at least 259.
“Most of the bodies were washed into Mozambique and because they were in a really bad state, they could not keep the bodies,” Defense Minister Oppah Muchinguri said, speaking in the eastern city of Mutare. “So they ended up burying them.”
Waiting for the final Mueller report and what happens next
WASHINGTON (AP) — America is waiting for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. But anyone looking for a grand narrative on President Donald Trump, Russian election interference and all the juicy details uncovered over the past 22 months could end up disappointed.
The exact timing of Mueller’s endgame is unclear. Attorney General William Barr, who oversees the investigation, has said he wants to release as much information as he can about the inquiry into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia’s efforts to sway the 2016 election. But during his confirmation hearing last month, Barr said he ultimately will decide what the public sees, and that any report will be in his words, not Mueller’s.
Some key questions:
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION ENDS?
Mueller will have to turn in a report of some kind when he’s done. It could be pretty bare-bones.
Facebook left millions of passwords readable by employees
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook left hundreds of millions of user passwords readable by its employees for years, the company acknowledged Thursday after a security researcher exposed the lapse .
By storing passwords in readable plain text, Facebook violated fundamental computer-security practices. Those call for organizations and websites to save passwords in a scrambled form that makes it almost impossible to recover the original text.
“There is no valid reason why anyone in an organization, especially the size of Facebook, needs to have access to users’ passwords in plain text,” said cybersecurity expert Andrei Barysevich of Recorded Future.
Facebook said there is no evidence its employees abused access to this data. But thousands of employees could have searched them. The company said the passwords were stored on internal company servers, where no outsiders could access them. Even so, some privacy experts suggested that users change their Facebook passwords.
The incident reveals yet another huge and basic oversight at a company that insists it is a responsible guardian for the personal data of its 2.3 billion users worldwide.
‘Thrones’ actress Emilia Clarke says she’s had 2 aneurysms
NEW YORK (AP) — “Game of Thrones” actress Emilia Clarke revealed Thursday that she has had two life-threatening aneurysms, and two brain surgeries, since the show began.
An unknown actress before landing the role, Clarke had just finished filming her first season as Daenerys Targaryen, the “Mother of Dragons,” on the HBO fantasy series when she had the first aneurysm in 2011 at age 24 while working out at a London gym.
“Just when all my childhood dreams seemed to have come true, I nearly lost my mind and then my life,” Clarke writes in a first-person story in The New Yorker . “I’ve never told this story publicly, but now it’s time.”
Clarke said she had been healthy all her life, but was suffering from serious stress when the artery burst in her brain. Much of it came from constant press questions about the nudity of her character, a conquering queen, in the show’s first episode.
“I always got the same question: some variation of ‘You play such a strong woman, and yet you take off your clothes. Why?'” Clarke writes. “In my head, I’d respond, ‘How many men do I need to kill to prove myself?'”
March Madness arrives: Round 1 of NCAA Tournament starts
Millions of brackets are filled with millions of guesses and it’s time to find out how they fare.
The crush of March Madness hits Thursday with 16 games in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Reigning champion Villanova is playing and so is Michigan, the runner-up from last year.
Kansas and Michigan State are also in action as two of the more popular picks each March.
Murray State’s Ja Morant is going up against Marquette’s Markus Howard, giving fans two stars head to head.