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    An American Catholic priest has been charged with soliciting sex with underage boys while in the Philippines, according to federal prosecutors.  Rev. Kenneth Bernard Hendricks, 77, of Cincinnati, is charged with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of Ohio. Hendricks was arrested Dec. 5 in the Philippines, where he was serving as a missionary priest.  At least 10 alleged victims have been identified, according to NBC News. Hendricks is being held in a Manila jail.  The Archdiocese of Cincinnati said in a statement following Hendricks’ arrest that the priest was ordained while overseas and has never been a priest under the archdiocese’s purview. “Although not a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Fr. Hendricks is listed on our website as a Catholic missionary serving in Asia,” the statement from the Archdiocese said. “He is one of around 75 missionaries from Southwest Ohio who receive some financial support from the Mission Office of the Archdiocese. None of these individuals work for, or take direction from, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.” Archdiocese officials said they are cooperating fully with the Department of Justice and Homeland Security investigators. They urged anyone with information about the rogue priest to call Homeland Security at 513-246-1461. “The abuse of children or any vulnerable person is abhorrent and needs to be prosecuted,” the statement said. Hendricks came under suspicion Nov. 13, when Homeland Security officials received information regarding the sexual exploitation of several minor Filipino boys, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman. The information alleged that a Catholic priest, later identified as Hendricks, had been sexually assaulting the boys, several of whom had been identified and were cooperating with police in the Philippines.  According to the boys, the abuse included anal and oral sex, as well as mutual masturbation, the news release said. The alleged abuse occurred dozens of times and involved boys as young as 7 years old.  “Hendricks allegedly had a number of minor boys residing with him,” the news release said. “It is alleged he insisted they take baths together and would molest the victims alone or with other boys. The priest allegedly warned the victims that if they told anyone they would all go to prison.” >> Read more trending news Glassman said one conversation between Hendricks and a victim was recorded.  “This will probably be the scenario is, there will be a meeting and then it will be decided, you know, what your parents want to do about anything,” Hendricks said in the recording. “Do they want to try … want to press charges, uh, whatever see, but that’s between them and the Bishop. I have nothing to do with that. I just get the fallout afterwards.” He further said in the conversation that the boy’s parents would ask him if he wanted a case to move forward of if he preferred a settlement.  “But as far as after that, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I really will have to probably really resign, retire now,” Hendricks said, according to the news release.  Read the affidavit in support of charges against Cincinnati priest Kenneth Hendricks below. Warning: Details of the allegations against the 77-year-old are graphic. The criminal complaint has been sealed by a federal judge, but a redacted affidavit in support of the complaint provides further detail of the allegations against Hendricks, who was the parish priest in Naval, the capital of the province of Biliran.  The affidavit, which often grows graphic with details of repeated sexual assaults, states that two of Hendricks’ alleged victims gave sworn statements Nov. 6 to the Philippine National Police. One young man said the abuse began in 2009, when he was 12 and serving as a sacristan at the church.  The victim, who is now 22, said the abuse began when Hendricks kissed him on the lips one day as he cleaned the church. He said he also witnessed Hendricks inappropriately touching other young boys who lived with the priest.  The man, who said he felt he had no choice, ended up moving in with the priest, who financed his education and helped his family. All the while, Hendricks was secretly molesting him, both alone and with other boys, the affidavit says.  Hendricks often insisted the boy take a bath with him, the document reads.  The young man told investigators that, at 15, he contracted a sexually transmitted disease from Hendricks. After being treated for it, he refused to have any additional sexual contact with the priest, the affidavit says.  The affidavit goes over statements made by multiple other victims, whose names are redacted. It also reveals that the recorded conversation mentioned in Glassman’s news release was between Hendricks and the man whose abuse began in 2009. The recording was made in November, once the allegations against Hendricks were taken to law enforcement.   During that conversation, Hendricks admitted sexually abusing several boys, the affidavit says. At one point, he tells his alleged victim that “happy days are gone, it’s all over.” “But the kids, but the kids Father is telling the truth? They are telling everything about you, Father?” the man says.  “Well, that’s, it’s true. I’m not saying it’s not. Did I say it’s not? It happened,” Hendricks says.  The alleged victim again asks Hendricks if he admits to having sex with boys. “It’s already blottered, you put it on a blotter,” Hendricks responds. “Will I lie? It was a mistake on my part. Should have known better than trying to just have a life. “That’s why you make mistakes. You have to learn from them, so I have to learn.” NBC News reported that, along with the U.S. charges, Hendricks is also being charged by authorities in the Philippines. “Our reach in this case is global,” Glassman told the news network. “If someone commits a crime with any connection to the Southern District of Ohio, we can work with other agents for a global reach.” Hendricks faces 30 years in prison if convicted of the U.S. charges. 
  • James Baldwin was getting over a bout of writer’s block when he published his fifth novel, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” in 1974.  » RELATED: 5 things to know about iconic novelist James Baldwin With the deaths of his friends Malcolm X in 1965 and Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, he was in despair and stopped writing for several years.  “The terrible thing that happened to me—and to blacks in America—during that whole terrible time was the realization that our destines are in our hands, black hands and no one else’s,” he once told The New York Times.   Despite his dismal assessment, he decided not to give up hope and instead embraced love, which is demonstrated in his novel that marked the end of his writer’s block.   The story, which he said is about “survival and eventual triumph,” has now been adapted for the silver screen.   It follows a pregnant 19-year-old woman, portrayed by Kiki Layne, who fights to prove her 21-year-old fiancé, played by Stephan James, is innocent of the rape charges his faces. While it’s set in 1970s Harlem, the cast said the themes of racism and socialism share a striking resemblance to current times.   “Mr. Baldwin was a very deep thinker,” director Barry Jenkins said. “I think a lot of the things he was writing were so truthful and authentic to the American experience that they are still relevant.”   In fact, he had to choose between keeping the film adaption in the 1970s or bringing it to present day. He chose the former.   “I thought it would be even more powerful to see how little has changed and how the situations these characters find themselves in, people still find themselves in every day,” said Barry, who directed the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight.”   » RELATED: If Beale Street Could Talk: Barry Jenkins On First Reading James Baldwin's Book Although “If Beale Street Could Talk” doesn’t hit theaters until Christmas Day, the flick has already garnered three Golden Globe nominations, including one for best motion picture, one for Jenkins for best screenplay and one for Regina King, who plays Sharon Rivers, for best supporting actress.   Working alongside the famous ensemble, which also includes Coleman Domingo, Teyonah Parris and Brian Tyree Henry, known for his role as Paper Boi in “Atlanta,” was an honor for newcomer Layne.   “There was a lot of growth between who I was at the table read and who I was the last day on set,” Layne said. “That was fostered by everyone I was working with.”   “It was about building a family that felt organic,” Jenkins added. “I had this feeling that the nurturing that was going to take place, especially with Kiki, was going to reveal itself as nurturing in the film…I just marvel at all these talented people who were willing to work with me.”   Baldwin once told The New York Times black movies made during his era missed the mark. Hopefully, Baldwin would see “If Beale Street Could Talk” as a means of raising the bar for a new generation of black films. » RELATED: 10 movies you should see this holiday season
  • The Russian military says two of its nuclear-capable strategic bombers have flown over the Caribbean Sea during a 10-hour training mission. A pair of Tu-160 bombers arrived at Maiquetia airport outside Caracas Monday. The Russian Defense Ministry said they were escorted by Venezuelan fighter jets during part of the training mission on Wednesday to practice interaction. The Tu-160 is capable of carrying conventional or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles with a range of 5,500 kilometers (3,410 miles). The Russian bombers' deployment came as Russia-U.S. relations have worsened because of the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and other issues. Russia has bristled at U.S. and its NATO allies deploying troops and weapons near its borders.
  • The Latest on the climate talks taking place in Poland (all times local): 9:00 p.m. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore says he thinks President Donald Trump's stance on global warming may actually advance the cause of tackling climate change. Gore has spent years raising awareness of global warming and advocating prevention strategies. He said on Wednesday 'it may be a perverse step forward to have Donald J. Trump as the global face of climate denial because so much of what he says is nonsense.' But he told an audience on the sidelines of the U.N. climate summit in Poland he thinks conservative Republicans 'are beginning to really worry that they're going to be associated with that.' Gore also called out the Trump administration for joining Saudi Arabia last week in blocking the endorsement of a scientific report on the options governments have to prevent catastrophic climate change. ___ 8:20 p.m. An American diplomat attending the U.N. climate talks in Poland says the United States is planning to help its allies adapt to climate change. Judith G. Garber, an assistant secretary in the State Department's environment division, said the U.S. also wants to help other countries cut greenhouse gas emissions and respond to natural disasters. Unlike scientists and nearly every other speaker at the two-week summit, Garber drew no explicit links between emissions, climate change and natural disasters. Her comments echoed the wording of previous statements from Washington and reflected the views of President Donald Trump, who has questioned whether climate change is man-made. Garber restated the U.S. intention to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accord on curbing climate change 'absent the identification of terms that are more favorable to the American people.' ____ 8:00 p.m. The Polish government official serving as president of a U.N. climate summit says the international talks have entered a 'critical phase' and require dedication from all involved if they are to end in success. Deputy Environment Minister Michal Kurtyka said Wednesday that ministers from almost 200 countries are working to 'unlock issues which are outstanding and which require political involvement of leaders.' The conference runs through Friday in Katowice, Poland. The goal of this year's annual climate event is working out ways to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) during this century. Kurtyka told The Associated Press that negotiators were moving forward on a wide array of issues. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres revisited the talks Wednesday to urge progress. ___ 7 p.m. Dozens of rich and poor countries are announcing that they will step up action to curb global warming in an effort to kick start stalled climate talks. The so-called High Ambition Coalition, which includes the Germany, Britain, Canada, Sweden, Spain and Argentina, also backed a drive to keep average temperature rise at 1.5 Celsius. The announcement at the climate talks in Katowice, Poland, comes hours after UN chief Antonio Guterres made a dramatic appeal for negotiators to find a compromise to end the meeting successfully this week. The coalition also counts several Pacific and Caribbean island nations. ___ 6:50 p.m. A Ukrainian official has used the U.N. climate summit as an opportunity to criticize Russia's annexation of Crimea. Ukraine's Minister of Ecology Ostap Semerak spoke Wednesday at the summit in Katowice, Poland, aimed at deciding on ways of counting and reporting carbon gas emissions by almost 200 participating countries, as they effort to combat global warming. Semerak urged the participants to pay attention to the count for the Crimea Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014, to prevent a 'double count' — because both Ukraine and Russia may report the figure from there. He said Ukraine is stepping up its efforts in fighting global warming and cutting its traditional reliance on its coal. ___ 4 p.m. Climate activists from Asia have protested on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks against the Japanese government's financing of coal mines and power plants in the region. Burning coal is considered a major source of global warming. Japan has opened eight coal power plants since the 2011 Fukushima power plant disaster undermined public support for nuclear power. It is planning to add over 30 coal plants in the next decade. The protesters called on Japan to stop financing coal. ___ 2:50 p.m. The United Nations secretary-general has made a dramatic appeal for countries to compromise to tackle climate change for future generations. Speaking Wednesday at the U.N. climate talks in Poland, Antonio Guterres told ministers and senior diplomats from almost 200 countries that reaching agreement 'means sacrifices, but it will benefit us all.' The U.N. chief cited a key scientific report which found that curbing greenhouse gas emissions sooner is the most effective way to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). Guterres said failure in the talks 'would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change,' adding: 'It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.' Guterres said that while most people in the room would not be around by the end of the century, their grandchildren would be and 'they would not forgive us if uncontrolled and spiraling climate change would be our legacy to them.' ___ 2:45 p.m. The United Nations secretary-general says countries must increase their contributions to international funds to help poor nations to tackle climate change. Antonio Guterres told ministers and senior officials gathered in Poland on Wednesday that failing to agree on financial support 'would send a disastrous message.' He also called for a strong framework to ensure transparency among countries' efforts to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris accord that aims to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). Guterres said scientists say the world has the ability to reach the target. He added: 'What we need is the political will to move forward.' ___ 2:35 p.m. The United Nations secretary-general is urging negotiators at the U.N. climate summit to speed up their work if an agreement is to be reached by the end of the week. Antonio Guterres told ministers and senior officials gathered in Poland on Wednesday that fresh reports highlight the urgent need to tackle global warming. The U.N. chief said he recognized negotiators had made some progress since Dec. 2 but warned that 'the key political issues remain unresolved.' Guterres told envoys that 'we need to accelerate those efforts to reach consensus if we want to follow up on the commitments made in Paris.' One of the key tasks at the talks is to finalize the rules of the 2015 Paris accord. ___ 1:55 p.m. Saudi Arabia's negotiators at the U.N. climate summit want scientists to spend more time examining global warming before countries decide on policies to tackle it. A senior Saudi negotiator told reporters that his country wants to wait for a U.N.-appointed panel to complete a further review in 2022 before countries decide whether to endorse the science. The negotiator briefed reporters on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to be identified by name. Saudi Arabia drew anger from environmental groups and other countries Saturday after blocking endorsement of a special report on the Paris climate agreement's target of keeping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). They were joined by Russia, Kuwait and the United States. The Saudi negotiator said his country supports the Paris agreement, despite recent comments by a former Saudi climate envoy calling it 'dead.' The negotiator accused some countries at the talks in Poland of trying to shift the focus away from emissions targets toward the phasing out of fossil fuels. The oil-rich kingdom is trying to pushing technology it hopes can remove carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions. — By Frank Jordans ___ 12:50 p.m. The head of environmental group Greenpeace hopes U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will inject a sense of urgency in the stumbling climate summit in Poland. Jennifer Morgan told The Associated Press on Wednesday that there's been a lack of leadership from major players in the talks, including the European Union. Guterres, who flew back to Poland late Tuesday amid fears the meeting could collapse without agreement, is scheduled to take the floor shortly after 2 p.m. (1300 GMT). Morgan said he 'needs to make it very clear that he expects this COP to send a signal that all countries are going to increase ambition.' The 24th Conference of the Parties, or COP, is meant to finalize the rules of the 2015 Paris Agreement, but Morgan said current drafts include serious loopholes. ___ 10:25 a.m. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has flown back to Poland in an effort to support struggling talks on ways of fighting climate change. Guterres was expected to make a statement Wednesday during the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, southern Poland, where negotiators from almost 200 countries are trying to work out an agreement this week on ways of keeping global warming in check. The talks hit a hurdle Saturday when the United States and three other countries blocked endorsement of a landmark study on global warming. A U.N. official who was not authorized to release the information told The Associated Press that Guterres, who opened the talks last week, has returned to Katowice to encourage progress. — By Frank Jordans ___ 10 a.m. Germany's environment minister wants more European Union funds to support regions affected by the closure of coal mines. Svenja Schulze told reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks Wednesday that Germany is committed to phasing out the use of coal, though the exact deadline has yet to be determined. She praised the measures Spain has taken to achieve a so-called just transition for miners in that country. In a nod to the recent protests in France over fuel prices, Schulze warned that governments that force through measures would lose public support 'faster than you can spell climate protection, and then people pull on yellow vests.' The climate talks in Katowice, Poland, have entered a crunch phase, with some delegations calling for stronger leadership to ensure agreement is reached.
  • Russian media say a contraption presented by Russian state television as a high-tech robot was in fact a man in a commercially available robot costume. The footage was shot at a high-tech show in the city of Yaroslavl that opened Tuesday, featuring 'Boris the Robot.' Forum organizers used Boris to enliven the event, having him dance to a pop song. But a crew for Russian state television apparently thought Boris was real, and used footage of him dancing and speaking as an example of Russian technological prowess. Online TJournal noted the lack of sensors, human-like movements and other discrepancies, and revealed that Boris was in fact a human clad in a costume sold under the name Alyosha by the Russian company Show Robots.
  • The U.N. special envoy for Yemen on Wednesday gave the country's warring sides at peace talks underway in Sweden a draft agreement they need to consider before this round of negotiations wraps up the following day. The document consists of a set of proposals, including one for a political framework for a post-war Yemen, the reopening of the airport in the capital, Sanaa, and a proposal for the contested Red Sea port city of Hodeida, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis dependent on international aid. Hanan Elbadawi, spokeswoman for U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths, said he would await the 'responses from the two parties before announcing the details of the set of agreements' at the end of talks Thursday. The statement raised expectations for progress in the U.N.-sponsored talks in the town of Rimbo, Sweden, between Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The government, which is supported by a Saudi-led coalition that has waged war against the Shiite Houthis, said the next round of negotiations could take place as early as January. Meanwhile, an international group tracking Yemen's civil war reported that the conflict has killed more than 60,000 people, both combatants and civilians, since 2016. The somber figure, which did not provide a breakdown of those killed, is much higher than the U.N. figure of 10,000 civilian deaths and adds to the urgency to find a resolution for the four-year bloodletting that has also left millions of Yemenis facing hunger. In Rimbo, Yemen's Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani told The Associated Press that the venue for the next round of talks, likely at the end of January, hasn't been decided yet. The U.N. draft proposal was not released to the media. A draft document obtained by the AP earlier this week showed an initial 16-point proposal to stop all fighting and have all troops withdraw to the city limits and later from the surrounding province, also called Hodeida. In his interview with the AP, al-Yamani reiterated the government's stand on several points, saying that before a political framework for Yemen can be considered, 'military and security arrangements' need to be in place. The Houthis should hand over their arms, he added. 'We cannot accept in Yemen a militia like the style of Hezbollah (in Lebanon) to survive within the state, and at the same time (to be) deciding the fate of their many people,' he said. On Hodeida, he said his side would only agree to a full rebel withdrawal while government forces would 'reposition themselves into our barracks out of the outskirts of the city.' A police force would then be set-up to patrol Hodeida, he said. Later Wednesday, a rebel delegate said his side accepts some of U.N. envoy Griffiths' proposals, specifically the one on Hodeida. Abdul-Majid al-Hanash told reporters the rebels agree to halt all fighting in Hodeida, withdraw troops from the city and its port, and later also from the province, while allowing U.N. oversight and the setting up of a local administration. Al-Hanash did not say where the rebels stand on the other points in Griffiths' proposed agreement. The U.N. envoy has said he wants to 'take Hodeida out of the war,' in hopes that international aid delivers can be restored through the port and the country can avoid a full-out famine. About 70 percent of food aid and other imports are shipped through Hodeida's port, and reducing restrictions on aid organizations and fuel imports imposed by the Saudi-led coalition are vitally needed. The war has made Yemen the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 22 of its 29 million people in need of aid, according to the United Nations. The two sides have for months been locked in a stalemated fight over Hodeida. The mounting humanitarian needs, and outrage over the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, have galvanized international support for ending the war. The United States, a backer for the Saudis, has called for a cease-fire and reduced some of its logistical aid for the Saudi-led coalition. The new death toll figure of 60,000 for Yemen came from the U.S.-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, or ACLED, which said in a report Tuesday that more than 28,000 people — again both civilians and combatants — were killed in the first 11 months of 2018, an increase of 68 percent from 2017. More than 3,000 were killed in November, the deadliest month since ACLED started collecting data. The group said 37 percent of the total number of civilians killed in Yemen in 2018 died in Hodeida. The U.S.-based group said that it recorded more than 3,000 attacks on civilians, killing some 6,500, but that this figure does not include civilians killed in ground battles between the various sides. ACLED's figures also do not include the last few months of 2014, when Yemen's Houthi rebels captured Sanaa and much of the country's north, nor the casualties in 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition joined the war on the side of Hadi's government. ACLED bases its figures on press reports of each incident of violence in the war. ___ Magdy reported from Cairo.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to again ban Iranian ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and to maintain an arms embargo that is scheduled to be lifted in 2020 under the landmark Iran nuclear deal. He also urged the council to prevent Iran from circumventing existing arms restrictions by authorizing the inspection of ships in ports and stopping them on the high seas. 'Iran's ballistic missile activity is out of control,' Pompeo said. 'Iran has been on a testing spree and a proliferation spree that must come to an end.' Pompeo spoke at a Security Council meeting on Iran's compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement that the Trump administration pulled out of earlier this year and the council resolution endorsing it. The United States faces an uphill struggle in getting Security Council approval for Pompeo's proposals, especially following U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, which is still supported by the five other parties — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The Trump administration's re-imposition in November of sanctions against Iran that it had eased under the nuclear deal has also angered some key council members as well as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Pompeo criticized the council for weakening the ban on nuclear-capable Iranian missiles that was in effect from 2010 to 2015. The resolution adopted in 2015 to endorse the nuclear deal 'calls upon' — but does not require — Iran to halt such activity, and it also supports lifting the arms embargo in 2020. Iran's deputy U.N. ambassador, Eshagh Al Habib, accused the United States of 'another series of lies, fabrications, disinformation and deceptive statements' about its ballistic missile program. He told the Security Council that 'Iran's ballistic missile program is designed to be exclusively capable of delivering conventional warheads required to deter foreign threats.' He said it has no nuclear component. Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Iran is not banned from conducting ballistic missile launches and there is no proof its missiles are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Pompeo accused Iran of building the largest ballistic missile force in the region, one capable of threatening the Mideast and Europe, saying it has more than 10 ballistic missile systems in its inventory or in development and hundreds of missiles. He quoted the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's airspace division, Amir Ali Hajzadeh, boasting Monday that Iran is capable of building missiles with a range beyond 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles). 'Iran has exploited the goodwill of nations and defied multiple Security Council resolutions in its quest for a robust ballistic missile force,' Pompeo said. 'The United States will never stand for this. No nation that seeks peace and prosperity in the Middle East should either.' He said the Trump administration will exert 'American leadership' to build a coalition of countries around the world to acknowledge and deter Iran's continued missile proliferation. Pompeo said the U.S. and Europe have a different view on the Iran nuclear deal. 'They view it as the linchpin; I view it as a disaster,' he said. But, he added, Europeans are concerned about the Iranian ballistic missile buildup. Before the council meeting, eight European Union nations underlined their commitment to the Iran nuclear deal while urging Tehran to stop its 'desta6bilizing regional activities' especially the launch of ballistic missiles. Ambassadors of the eight nations — Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom — said 'it has been confirmed that Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments.' But they warned that 'ballistic missile related activities such as the launch of nuclear capable missiles and any transfers of missiles, missile technologies and components ... would be in violation of Security Council resolutions.' Russia's Nebenzia lashed out at the Trump administration for abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal and for 'trying to punish all other member states' for implementing the agreement and the Security Council resolution endorsing it. He said 'Iran is ready for a dialogue' but the United States and other Security Council members appear to be more interested in further escalating 'anti-Iran hysteria and to demonize Iran.' 'To lower the crisis what we need to do is pool international and regional efforts,' Nebenzia said, saying that one way to start is to hold a conference with countries in the region and then broaden it to the entire Middle East. French Ambassador Francois Delattre also stressed that a long-term strategy in the Middle East cannot rest on 'exerting pressures and sanctions' on Iran but must include 'a firm and frank dialogue' with the Iranians on issues including their ballistic missiles and destabilizing activities. Dialogue is the only way the international community will be able to lay the foundations for a new agreement with Iran that will include the nuclear issue, its ballistic missile activity and regional stability, he said. 'There is no other way to make sure there is lasting stability in the region or to attain the goal of Iran never obtaining nuclear weapons,' Delattre said.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron is trying to take back control of his nation after a month of protests that caused mayhem across the country — and now a new extremist attack that's putting France on renewed terror alert. Striving to show he's responding to 'yellow vest' protesters' demands for tax relief, the French leader maintained his planned agenda Wednesday: He held his weekly Cabinet meeting and talks with big public and private companies, notably to encourage them to give a tax-free, year-end bonus to their employees. At the same time, Macron's office said he was staying constantly informed about the investigation into Tuesday's Strasbourg attack and hunt for the gunman, still on the run. Macron said 'the terrorist threat is still at the core of our nation's life,' in comments reported by government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux. 'Public order must prevail in every place and every circumstance,' Macron added. Within his presidential palace and the halls of government, concerns about the protests remain intense despite the Strasbourg scare. The attack Tuesday night came just 24 hours after Macron broke a long silence on the mushrooming protest movement and appealed in an unusual televised address to the nation for calm. He announced tax relief for retirees and boost purchasing power of workers. An estimated 23 million viewers watched him live — more than the audience for France's victory in soccer's World Cup final in July, and a historic record for a televised address by a president. The president's office noted the viewership as a positive signal: proof that the French still listen to Macron, despite persistent calls from protesters for his resignation. Yet public opinion appeared split over whether he succeeded or not. Some members of the Yellow Vest movement have already called for new protests on Saturday, arguing the government's measures were not sufficient. Others have called for a 'truce,' acknowledging that progress has been made. Griveaux told reporters that it's not the government's role to call for the end of the protests. He said the government is now offering conditions for a 'dialogue that doesn't take place in the street.' Three online polls made after Macron's speech by Odoxa, Opinionway and Elabe institutes show that a majority of respondents still shows sympathy for the Yellow Vest movement, but the support appears to be receding compared to previous weeks. The protests have weakened Macron's credibility — which also matters on the European stage. He's maintaining his plans to go Thursday to Brussels for a key European summit that will focus on the Brexit process, but his stature within the EU is somewhat diminished. Macron's promises to protesters could cut into French growth and hurt his efforts to stick to EU deficit limits. Meanwhile, his government is about to face a no-confidence vote at the lower house of parliament. The vote prompted by far-left and Socialist lawmakers is not expected to succeed, as Macron's party and allies have a strong majority at the National Assembly. The vote, initially scheduled Thursday, may be postponed as a consequence of the shooting in Strasbourg that killed two, left one person brain dead and injured 12 others.
  • The Latest on the U.N. Security Council session on Iran's compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal (all times local): 3:05 p.m. Russia's U.N. ambassador says 'Iran is ready for a dialogue,' but the United States and other Security Council members appear to be more interested in further escalating what he calls 'anti-Iran hysteria and to demonize Iran.' Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council Wednesday that this 'just exacerbates an already difficult situation in the Middle East.' He said that 'to lower the crisis, what we need to do is pool international and regional efforts.' He said one way to start is to hold a conference with countries in the region, and then broaden it to the entire Middle East. Nebenzia said Iran is not banned from conducting ballistic missile launches and there is no proof that its missiles are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. He lashed out at the Trump administration, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listening, for abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and for 'trying to punish all other member states' for implementing the agreement and the Security Council resolution endorsing it. Nebenzia said, 'It's time to abandon unilateral actions,' and added, 'History shows that they are doomed to failure.' ___ 2:10 p.m. France's U.N. ambassador says a long-term strategy in the Middle East cannot rest on 'exerting pressures and sanctions' on Iran but must include 'a firm and frank dialogue' with the Iranians on issues of growing concern, including their ballistic missile launches and destabilizing activities. Francois Delattre told the U.N. Security Council Wednesday that dialogue is the only way the international community can lay the foundations for a new agreement with Iran on nuclear and missile activity as well as regional stability. He stressed that 'there is no other way to make sure there was lasting stability in the region or to attain the goal of Iran never obtaining nuclear weapons.' Delattre's comments appeared aimed at the Trump administration, which pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and has recently re-imposed sanctions it had lifted following the agreement. The French ambassador also echoed the appeal launched by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to all countries to ensure the continuity of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal 'as a pillar of international peace and security.' ___ 1:25 p.m. The U.N. political chief says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling on Iran 'to carefully consider and address' concerns raised by U.N. member states about its ballistic missile activities. Rosemary DiCarlo told the U.N. Security Council Wednesday that Guterres welcomes the reaffirmation of support for the 2015 nuclear deal by the remaining participants following the U.S. withdrawal in May — Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and Iran. She said 'it is essential that the plan continues to work for all participants, including by delivering economic tangible benefits to the Iranian people.' DiCarlo said the secretary-general regrets the Trump administration's decision to re-impose sanctions against Iran that it lifted after the 2015 nuclear deal following its withdrawal from the agreement. She said Guterres believes issues not directly related to the nuclear deal 'should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments.' ___ 11:30 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is urging the U.N. Security Council to ban any Iranian activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and he's accusing Tehran of building 'a robust ballistic missile force' that threatens the Mideast and Europe. Pompeo told the U.N.'s most powerful body Wednesday that Iran has built the largest ballistic missile force in the region and has more than 10 ballistic missile systems in its inventory or in development. The Security Council banned nuclear-capable Iranian missiles from 2010 to 2015, but after the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, the council adopted a weaker provision that 'calls upon' Iran not to undertake such activity. Pompeo said that regardless of the changed language, the world 'must agree to stop it now.' He also urged the council not to lift an arms embargo on Iran in 2020 and to inspect ships in ports and stop them on the high seas to prevent Iran from circumventing existing arms restrictions.
  • Kosovo's prime minister said Wednesday that former independence fighters should not humiliate Kosovo by hiding, impeding or avoiding justice. Ramush Haradinaj, himself a former commander of the 1998-99 war for independence against Serbia, wrote on Facebook that the struggle was 'clean and sacred.' The war ended with a 78-day NATO air campaign in June 1999 that stopped a Serbian crackdown against the ethnic Albanian separatists. An international Hague-based court was created in 2015 to investigate allegations made in a 2011 report by the Council of Europe, Europe's top human rights body, that some of Kosovo's independence fighters committed war crimes during and after the war. Haradinaj said the court will be 'a challenge in our road ahead which we shall cross together and come out as unique and stronger.' He defended the independence struggle as just and said 'no one is entitled to humiliate Kosovo and hide, impede or avoid justice.' Kosovo agreed to the court's establishment following U.S. and European pressure. The court has yet to hear any cases. Local media have recently reported that some former Kosovo independence fighters have been asked to be questioned in The Hague and one has said he will not go. Haradinaj says the government will support 'freedom fighters during all the (court) stages and it is ready to offer any necessary assistance in the judicial defense.' Kosovo's 2008 independence is not recognized by Serbia. ___ Follow Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini
  • Scientists are seeing surprising melting in Earth’s polar regions at times they don’t expect, like winter, and in places they don’t expect, like eastern Antarctica. New studies and reports issued this week at a major Earth sciences conference paint one of the bleakest pictures yet of dramatic warming in the Arctic and Antarctica. Alaskan scientists described to The Associated Press Tuesday never-before-seen melting and odd winter problems, including permafrost that never refroze this past winter and wildlife die-offs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Tuesday released its annual Arctic report card, detailing the second warmest year on record in the Arctic and problems, including record low winter sea ice in parts of the region, increased toxic algal blooms, which are normally a warm water phenomenon, and weather changes in the rest of the country attributable to what’s happening in the far North. “The Arctic is experiencing the most unprecedented transition in human history,” report lead author Emily Osborne, chief of Arctic research for NOAA, said Tuesday.
  • “Kids’ stuff. Kids’ stuff and children books.” Home surveillance cameras captured that conversation between two Florida women Monday afternoon as they snatched five packages from the porch of a Tampa-area home, WFTS reported. In a news release, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said the thefts occurred around 1:30 p.m. in a Riverview subdivision. The women drove away in a dark-colored Volvo SUV, WTVT reported. In a Facebook post, Neal Rivera posted the surveillance video and still shots of the porch pirates. 'These nice young lady’s (sic) were worried that someone would steal our unattended packages so they thought they would take them home and keep them safe. I’m sure they will bring them back later,” he wrote. Rivera said his phone went off with camera notifications when the packages were delivered, and then it went off again when they were taken, WTVT reported. “I’m not upset about the items they took,” Rivera told the television station. “It was the attitude they came in and they made a comment, 'Oh, look it's kids’ clothes. It's Children's Place.' And they were like excited about it. So, they knew they were talking little kids stuff.” On Tuesday, Rivera’s phone went off again, but this time his surveillance camera recorded an act of kindness, WTVT reported. >> Woman steals package, finds it’s filled with superworms “I got a notification on the front door, and of course I quickly went to my phone. And as I look at my front door, it's our church family coming and dropping off gifts here, waving at the camera saying ‘I hope you get your stuff back, but here's something in the meantime,’” Rivera told the television station. “I don’t have to worry about my kids not having something. That's not my concern. I just want the people caught.' In his Facebook post, Rivera said he would not have cared if the women had stolen items he bought for himself. “If they would have just asked I would have bought their kids even more than they stole,” he wrote. Another Riverview man, Mike Hayes, filed a report with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, including video that appears to show the same two women taking packages from his porch, WFTS reported. The Sheriff’s Office is asking anybody with information to call them at (813) 247-8200.
  • Delta Air Lines said it will ban service and support animals under 4 months old, and will also ban emotional support animals on flights longer than eight hours. The change, effective Dec. 18, is the latest tightening of policies on service animals and emotional support animals by the airline.  >> Read more trending news  The company said in a Monday announcement that it has seen an 84 percent increase in incidents reported involving service and support animals in 2016 and 2017, “including urination/defecation, biting” and a mauling by a 50-pound dog. Delta said its new policy aligns with the CDC vaccination policy, and the limit on emotional support animals on long flights lines up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Act. “These updates support Delta’s commitment to safety and also protect the rights of customers with documented needs -- such as veterans with disabilities -- to travel with trained service and support animals,” John Laughter, Delta senior vice president of corporate safety, security and compliance, said in a statement. Some of the airline’s policy changes earlier in the year have prompted criticism from groups representing people who use service animals, including those who use pit bulls.  The new policy takes effect for tickets booked Dec. 18 or later. Regardless of booking date, it will also take effect for flights Feb. 1 or later. Delta said it will contact customers to adjust reservations if the policy affects them. More information on the airline’s service and support animal policy is at Delta.com. 
  • People in Georgia and Tennessee were woken up by an earthquake early Wednesday.  >> Read more trending news  The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake happened about 4:15 a.m. near Decatur, Tennessee. It had a magnitude of 4.4. A smaller 3.3-magnitude quake followed about 13 minutes later, according to the USGS. Atlanta’s WSB-TV received dozens of phone calls in the minutes following the quake. Please return for updates.
  • As President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to force a partial government shutdown before Christmas if he doesn’t get $5 billion for a wall along the Mexican border, Congressional leaders were trying to clear the decks in the House and Senate for a final surge of legislative work in the 115th Congress, in hopes of getting lawmakers out of town before the holidays. “With maximum cooperation, magic things happen at Christmas,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, even as he threatened to keep the Senate in session between Christmas and New Year’s in order to finish work for the year. Hanging over the schedule was the President’s threat to force a showdown over government funding, unless he wins more money for border security. “I don’t think the President’s bluffing,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) to a group of reporters just off the Senate floor. “I think he’s a serious as four heart attacks and a stroke.” . @SenJohnKennedy leaving GOP lunch with @VP after the Trump/Pence/Schumer/Pelosi meeting: 'I don't think the president is bluffing, I think he's serious as four heart attacks and a stroke and I think he's prepared to shut it down.' — Eliza Collins (@elizacollins1) December 11, 2018 Here’s where we stand: 1. Trump: “I am proud to shut down the government for border security.” In a highly unusual Oval Office meeting that went off the rails in front of television cameras and reporters, President Trump sparred with Democratic leaders over what to do on the border wall issue, as he repeatedly proclaimed that he would gladly be responsible for a partial funding lapse on December 21. “I’m going to shut it down for border security,” the President said. “But we believe you shouldn’t shut it down,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer answered, as the President publicly sparred with Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Much of the government has already been funded for 2019, so any shutdown before Christmas would be more limited than usual. You can watch part of the Oval Office exchange here: CLIP: Exchange between President Trump, @NancyPelosi & @SenSchumer on border security and government shutdown. Watch full video here: https://t.co/5Y6NEITjCe pic.twitter.com/kVmcJKkEbx — CSPAN (@cspan) December 11, 2018 2. $5 billion for border wall not a GOP slam dunk. President Trump on Tuesday repeatedly made clear that he wants $5 billion for his wall along the Mexican border, arguing Democrats are the ones who are blocking that funding. But the truth is that GOP leaders in the House aren’t sure they have a majority of votes for $5 billion for the border wall – one reason the funding bill for the Homeland Security Department was never voted on before the elections. There was some talk on Wednesday that the House might try to vote on such a bill, but House Speaker Paul Ryan instead was talking about supporting whatever can get through the Senate. In other words, the President may want $5 billion, but the Republican Congress may not be able to deliver. For what it's worth, it's very doubtful that Ryan/McCarthy have 218 votes on their side a gov't funding bill, even one including $5b for the wall. Some conservatives will balk at other spending, moderates will oppose the wall & some midterm losers might not show to vote. — Paul Kane (@pkcapitol) December 11, 2018 3. McConnell agrees to move on criminal justice reform. After refusing to get on board with a bipartisan plan that has the backing of the President, the Senate Majority Leader announced on Tuesday that he will push for action in the Senate in coming days on a criminal justice reform measure, which backers say could get 70 votes in the Senate. But – there are strong opponents, like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), and it wasn’t known whether Cotton would try to string out the debate because of concerns over changes in early release of certain criminals, changes to mandatory minimum sentences, and press new reforms in federal prisons for inmates. In a major announcement, Mitch McConnell said he'll bring the FIRST STEP Act up for a vote this month. The bipartisan bill would be the biggest reform of our justice system in a generation, and would move us closer to ending mass incarceration. https://t.co/wvuzvRY8rf — Brennan Center (@BrennanCenter) December 11, 2018 4. New Farm Bill on its way to Congressional approval. One clear sign that the Congress is moving to finish work for the year is that the Senate voted 87-13 on Wednesday to approve a massive new farm policy bill. The “Farm Bill” includes all sorts of tweaks and changes to agricultural programs in the United States, which touch all fifty states. Also, it includes the SNAP program – more commonly known as food stamps – which House Republicans wanted to make major changes in terms of work requirements. But in order to get a final deal, many of those GOP changes did not happen. The 807 page bill is chock full of all sorts of local items, like one provision which could possibly establish a “Natural Stone Research and Promotion Board.” Overall though, it was a bipartisan bonanza for lawmakers to tout to the folks back home. Today I supported the Farm Bill Conference Report, which passed w/ a bipartisan vote of 87-13. It will help provide #Ohio farmers w/ the certainty & predictability they deserve & promote economic development & #job creation in our rural communities https://t.co/I6xXZozLIo — Rob Portman (@senrobportman) December 11, 2018 5. GOP tries second version of late tax bill. After a 297 page package of tax relief ran into the ditch because of a lack of support in the House after Thanksgiving, Republicans re-tooled the plan and released a new 253 page version on Monday, which deals with an array of tax issues – disaster relief, an expansion of 529 college savings accounts, delays in several taxes from the Obama health law, changes and technical corrections to last year’s GOP tax law, and a number of IRS reforms. No longer in the bill are an array of provisions known as the “tax extenders” – special interest tax breaks which get approved every year or two, along with a lot of grumbling by lawmakers about the cost involved. But like the first version, it isn’t clear if this GOP tax bill is going anywhere. Extenders have been removed. Instead, health care taxes are being delayed. The medical device tax is delayed until 2025, and the Cadillac Tax is delayed until 2023. — Nicole Kaeding (@NKaeding) December 10, 2018 6. House and Senate still at odds on sex harassment changes. While members of the House and Senate agree that changes are needed in how the Congress handles sexual harassment accusations in Congressional offices – and against lawmakers – getting a final bill has not been easy. That’s come as a surprise to some lawmakers, who assumed the Congress would swiftly finish such a plan. But there’s been opposition to major changes from Senators, which has left House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi saying that if the Congress doesn’t go far enough, then the House will change its own rules to deal with the issue. “We can take other action that applies to the House,” Pelosi said last week. Q: Why is this #MeToo bill taking so, so long? Pelosi: 'The bills were quite different. But now they're coming closer together.' They're almost out of time to do this. — Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) December 6, 2018 7. House moves to prevent any War Powers vote on Yemen. While the Senate is ready to debate and vote measures related to U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia in the civil war in Yemen, GOP leaders in the House have evidently decided that they want no part of anything related to that. On Tuesday night, the House Rules Committee reported out a resolution which provides for action on the Farm Bill – but tucked into that was a provision which squashes the opportunity for debate on any War Powers resolution dealing with Yemen. “Despicable,” said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who said Speaker Paul Ryan “is shirking responsibility for debating our involvement in the Yemen war by hiding the war resolution in a procedural vote on the farm bill.” The GOP rule for House floor debate on the Farm Bill has a provision that squashes debate on any Yemen resolution pic.twitter.com/IeT2nZ9WIV — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) December 12, 2018