Grenfell fallout widens

Britain's prime minister said Tuesday there must be a "major national investigation" of potentially flammable cladding on highrise towers, while a German city evacuated an 11-storey building because of safety concerns prompted by the fatal fire in London.

Theresa May's comments came hours before authorities in Wuppertal opted to evacuate an apartment block because of concerns over exterior panels similar to the ones used on London's Grenfell Tower, where at least 79 people perished.

Wuppertal officials said Tuesday the fire risk at the building had been reassessed following the June 14 fire, the dpa news agency reported.

Authorities in Britain, meanwhile, continued to test samples of building materials for flammability. All the samples submitted so far — coming from 95 buildings around England — have failed fire safety standards.

The national testing was ordered after flammable cladding was blamed for the rapid spread of the Grenfell Tower inferno.

The aluminum composite panels have been used for decades to help insulate buildings and improve their appearance, but the Grenfell tragedy has prompted hard questions about their regulation.

The government on Tuesday appointed an independent expert advisory panel to make recommendations on any immediate safety measures necessary.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said he wanted the public to be confident everything possible is being done as local officials scramble to prevent a similar tragedy.


Queen to get a raise

Queen Elizabeth II is set to receive an increase in the official funding she receives each year.

Buckingham Palace said Tuesday the "sovereign grant" will be 82.2 million pounds ($104.8 million) next year — an increase of more than 6 million pounds.

The increase is derived from a formula based on the financial performance of the Crown Estate, which has extensive real estate holdings throughout Britain.

Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said the newly released accounts show that the royal family costs each taxpayer about 65 pence per year, representing the cost of a first-class stamp.

"Consider that against what the queen does and represents for this country, I believe it represents excellent value for money," he said.

Funding levels are also being increased to cover a planned 10-year refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, the queen's official residence. The modernization project is expected to cost 369 million pounds.

Second landslide hits China

A second landslide struck the village in southwest China where rescue workers have been looking for nearly 100 people buried over the weekend by a massive wave of rocks and debris.

Chinese state radio said the latest landslide struck the village of Xinmo in Sichuan province about 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Government teams were ordered to evacuate the site on Monday after radar detected shifts in the mountain, signalling another imminent collapse.

While no further casualties were reported, the second landslide sets back rescue teams searching for 93 people missing since early Saturday, when rugged mountains flanking the village gave away and buried its residents.

Before rescue work stopped Monday, only three people had been rescued and 10 bodies had been recovered. More than 2,500 rescuers with dogs and detection devices were looking for signs of life amid the rubble.


Cosby circus moves to Cali

The stage for Bill Cosby's next legal challenge shifts to California with a hearing scheduled Tuesday to set a trial date in a lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting a teen at the Playboy Mansion more than 40 years ago.

Judy Huth accused the comedian of forcing her to perform a sex act on him in a bedroom at the mansion around 1974, when she was 15.

The hearing comes less than two weeks after a Pennsylvania jury deadlocked on criminal charges against Cosby.

A mistrial was declared June 17 on charges Cosby drugged and molested Andrea Constand, the former Temple University director of women's basketball, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Cosby said the encounter was consensual.

Cosby's legal team declared victory after the mistrial, though Pennsylvania prosecutors vowed to retry him.

The comedian and actor once known as "America's Dad" for his TV role on "The Cosby Show" as paternal Dr. Cliff Huxtable has had his reputation tarnished with accusations of sexual abuse by nearly 60 women.

Modi full of hugs for Trump

President Donald Trump should have been ready as he met with India's prime minister, an unabashed hugger.

Smiling widely at a news conference Monday during a visit to Washington, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the president's outstretched arm not as an invitation for a handshake, but as a pull toward an embrace. Then he did it again in the White House Rose Garden. Then once more before leaving.

Trump appeared stiff and uncomfortable with the first hug, smiling thinly and patting Modi on the back a couple of times. But it was the same folksy, effusive greeting Modi has used with Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, and a host of foreign dignitaries and celebrities, from former French President Francois Hollande, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood's Hugh Jackman.

"Modi doesn't hug just anyone," said political scientist Sreeram Chaulia, dean of the Jindal School of International Affairs in New Delhi. "If you look at the list of people he's hugged, these are people who matter for India's interest."

Century-old letter in mail

A mail carrier in Lincoln, Neb., faced a difficult task earlier this month when he found a letter sent more than 100 years ago in his pile.

The letter with a 2-cent stamp showed up in the pile of mail Larry Schultz was sorting for his route in the area June 14, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. Its recipient, Grace Wheeler, died in 1947, and her family home was torn down in 1965 to make way for the Nebraska Capitol's south parking lot.

The three-page letter from Wheeler's daughter, Margaret Casady, was mailed from Des Moines, Iowa, on June 1, 1914. It's unknown how it appeared in Schultz's stack and has been sent to other family members.

The letter was slit open at the top, as if by a letter opener.

Lincoln Post Office Manager Todd Case speculated the envelope had been open for some time because of the discoloration where a letter opener had sliced through it.

"Probably somebody found this either in an attic, or maybe in some boxes, and didn't know what to do with it and just dropped it in a mailbox somewhere," Case said.

US Navy bribery scandal

While he was stationed in Singapore, a U.S. Navy commander ate suckling pigs worth $400 apiece, attended a Gucci fashion show with his wife and enjoyed the services of prostitutes — all courtesy of a Malaysian defence contractor, Navy prosecutors alleged Monday.

Cmdr. David Alexander Morales is the latest Navy official to be charged in a wide-ranging bribery scandal in which officers allegedly provided ship schedules and important access to Singapore-based businessman Leonard Francis.

Nicknamed "Fat Leonard" for his large size, Francis was determined to maintain his firm's market share in servicing American warships in Asian ports, a lucrative operation that spanned 25 years and allowed him to overbill the Navy by nearly $35 million.

The Department of Justice has already filed charges against 25 people, including Francis as well as 20 former and current officers in the Navy. Several, including a retired admiral, have pleaded guilty.

But Morales, 49, is the first to be charged in the Navy's military court system. His journey effectively began Monday at a preliminary hearing in Norfolk, Virginia, as prosecutors flipped through pages of text messages between him and Francis while itemizing the various gifts Morales allegedly received.

His attorney said after the hearing that the Navy has a weak case, which federal officials had declined to prosecute.

"The leftovers are for the Navy," said Frank Spinner, a Colorado-based military defence lawyer. "The sharks have been prosecuted. Now they're going after the minnows."

Spike in bear maulings

Two more Alaskans were mauled by bears over the weekend, bringing the number of bear attacks in the state to four in less than a week, including two fatalities.

Alaska wildlife officials say they don't know why there have been so many attacks in such a short time. But one official speculated Monday that perhaps bears are coming closer to people this year to follow available food sources such as moose.

Dave Battle, the state Fish and Game area biologist for the Anchorage region, also noted that more people also are spending time in the backcountry than they did in the past. But he cautioned that many factors could be involved.

"The long and short of it is that no one knows exactly what's going on," he said, noting that the number of bear encounters can vary widely from year to year.

On Saturday, two people were injured in separate brown bear attacks, one on military land in Anchorage and the other near the community of Hope south of Anchorage. Both of those cases involved a bear with a cub, indicating the animals were acting defensively to protect their young.

In the weekend attack on military land, bicyclists James Fredrick and Alex Ippoliti were on a recreational ride in the woods at the north end of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Saturday morning when they heard rustling in bushes and figured it might be a moose or porcupine, Ippoliti recalled Monday in a phone interview.

Suddenly, a brown bear charged at Fredrick and pulled him off the bike and began mauling him in the upper body, said Ippoliti, who was not injured in the attack. Fredrick was carrying bear deterrent spray and doused the bear, which ran into the bushes. It was only after that that he saw the cub up in a spruce tree.

'Not quite warp speed'

Police say a motorcycle officer who stopped a driver for speeding on a suburban highway north of Atlanta had an 'extraterrestrial encounter' — sort of.

George Gordon, a spokesman for police in Alpharetta, says that when the officer pulled the man over Sunday, a life-sized doll of a big-eyed, large-skulled alien was riding in the front passenger seat.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported the encounter, saying the driver was clocked at 84 mph (135 kph). Not quite warp speed, and Gordon later told The Associated Press: "He did not mention as to 'why' he had an out of this world passenger."

The driver got off with a verbal warning — and some laughs from the officer — who took photographs of the safety-belted alien police later posted on social media.

Cdn makes palace history

A Canadian captain made history Monday by becoming the first female infantry officer to lead the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.

Megan Couto led her unit —the Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry or "The Patricia's" — in the ceremony, an event witnessed by thousands of tourists annually.

"I'm just focusing on doing my job as best I can and staying humble," said Couto, 24. "Any of my peers would be absolutely delighted to be captain of the queen's guard and I'm equally honoured."

The unit was invited to Britain to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada's confederation.

The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry is based in Manitoba.

Travel ban partly reinstated

The Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to go forward with a limited version of its ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries, a victory for President Donald Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency.

The justices will hear full arguments in October in the case that has stirred heated emotions across the nation. In the meantime, the court said Monday that Trump's ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced if those visitors lack a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."

Trump said last week that the ban would take effect 72 hours after being cleared by courts.

The administration has said the 90-day ban was needed on national security grounds to allow an internal review of screening procedures for visa applicants from the six countries. Opponents say the ban is unlawful, based on visitors' Muslim religion. The administration review should be complete before Oct. 2, the first day the justices could hear arguments in their new term.

A 120-day ban on refugees also is being allowed to take effect on a limited basis.

Three of the court's conservative justices said they would have let the complete bans take effect.

Guilty in Baby Doe killing

A man was convicted Monday of second-degree murder in the death of a two-year-old girl who became known as Baby Doe after her remains washed up on the shores of a Boston Harbor island.

Michael McCarthy, 37, was charged in the 2015 killing of Bella Bond, his girlfriend's daughter. A computer-generated image of the girl was shared by millions on social media after she was dubbed Baby Doe by authorities trying to determine her identity.

The widely shared image showed a chubby-cheeked, brown-eyed girl. Her body was found inside a trash bag on Deer Island in Winthrop in June 2015 by a woman walking a dog.

The jury had been deliberating since June 20.

Prosecutors had charged McCarthy with first-degree murder, but the judge said jurors could also consider two lesser charges — second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Under a second-degree murder conviction, a person is eligible for parole after serving 15 years in prison.

McCarthy will be sentenced Wednesday.

Bella's mother, Rachelle Bond, and McCarthy were arrested in September 2015 after Bond told a friend McCarthy had killed her daughter.

Bond pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact for helping McCarthy dispose of the girl's body. Under a plea deal with prosecutors, Bond is expected to be released after McCarthy's trial.

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