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Aunt backs over nephew, 2

Police say a New Jersey woman backed her car into her 2-year-old nephew, killing him.

Lt. Gregory Staffordsmith told the Asbury Park Press that the 33-year-old Lakewood woman was preparing to leave her home Thursday and was moving her car to a closer parking spot to load some packages and the toddler.

Police say the boy followed her without her knowing and was behind the car. They say she couldn't see him when she backed into him.

Police say the boy suffered significant head injuries. A neighbour took them to a hospital in Brick, where he later died.

No charges have been filed.

The names of the boy and his aunt weren't immediately released.





All tsunami warnings over

Tsunami warnings for several Pacific islands, including those in Hawaii, were cancelled Friday after authorities determined that a powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake that struck near the Solomon Islands did not pose a broad tsunami threat.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves of up to three metres were still possible along the coast of the Solomon Islands and smaller tsunami waves could hit Papua New Guinea.

There were reports of some power outages in the Solomon Islands, although there were no immediate reports of widespread damage or injuries from the quake.

It was followed by a magnitude 6.9 aftershock.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the initial quake hit about 200 kilometres southeast of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. The epicenter was relatively deep at 48 kilometres below the surface. Deeper quakes generally cause less damage on the ground.

The Solomon Islands are located in the Pacific's geologically active "Ring of Fire."



Royal scolding for media

Britain's Prince Andrew is asking the media to cease "speculation and innuendo" about his daughters, and denies he's feuding with elder brother Prince Charles.

Andrew, the third of Queen Elizabeth II's four children, released a strongly worded statement Friday slamming recent newspaper stories "that have no basis in fact."

He rebuts allegations that he has asked for royal titles to be bestowed on any future husbands of his daughters, 28-year-old Princess Beatrice and 26-year-old Princess Eugenie.

And he says "there is no truth to the story" of a split with Charles over his daughters' role in the royal family.

Andrew, 56, says he cannot stand by and watch the media speculate about his daughters "based on my purported interventions, which are completely made up and an invention."



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Rats infest Paris

Both Nadine Mahe des Portes and the rat panicked when she inadvertently stepped on it on her walk back from work through Paris.

"I heard a terrible squeak," the property agent recalled with a shudder. "I thought I'd stepped on a child's toy or something."

When Parisians are literally tripping over rats on the sidewalk, it is clear that the City of Light has a problem. Professional exterminators with decades on the job struggle to recall infestations as impressive — perhaps that should be repulsive — as those now forcing the closure of Paris parks, where squirmy clumps of rats brazenly feed in broad daylight, looking like they own the place.

On Friday, City Hall threw open one of the closed parks, the Tour Saint-Jacques square a block from the Seine, to show journalists its latest anti-rat drive. The park in the heart of the city is only a short walk from the Pompidou art museum. Two Japanese tourists searching for Notre Dame cathedral, also just minutes away, thankfully didn't notice the rats in bushes just in front of them when they stopped to ask for directions.

The furry princes of the city were all over the park, sauntering across the footpaths, merrily grazing in the undergrowth and far more bothered by pigeons competing with them for breadcrumbs than by people walking past and the rattle and hum of the morning rush hour.

Unfortunately for City Hall's exterminators, they also seemed totally uninterested in recently laid traps baited with poison.

The park attendant, Patrick Lambin, said his morning round had yielded just one cadaver.

Before the park was closed in November, rats foraging for food hung like grapes off the trash bins and regularly scampered through the children's play area, sowing panic, he said.



'Buy American': Trump

Donald Trump has made clear he wants buy-American rules in the massive infrastructure program he's planning, launching an ardent defence of domestic-purchase requirements that can cause tensions with other countries.

Critics of such buy-American provisions say it not only freezes out foreign competition, but hurts Americans too, by driving up the cost of construction, which means taxpayers get fewer roads and bridges for their buck and fewer construction jobs in the long run.

But the measures have considerable political support and the president-elect strongly suggested, in a speech Thursday night, that he sees them as part of a historic, $1 trillion infrastructure bill he's urging lawmakers to pass.

"My administration will follow two simple rules — buy American and hire American," Trump told a cheering crowd in Iowa, at his latest post-election, campaign-style rally.

"On infrastructure, I am going to ask Congress to pass legislation that produces $1 trillion of new investment in America's crumbling infrastructure and it is indeed crumbling. That includes major new projects for both our rural communities and our inner cities, which have also been forgotten.

"And we will put our people — not people from other lands — our people back to work in the process. It is time to help Americans get off the welfare and get back into the labour market and they're going to want to do it. ... Rebuilding this country with American hands, by American workers. We're going to do it."

His words echo those of some lawmakers from both parties, which suggests the issue could surface in the new year when Congress turns its attention to Trump's legislative agenda.

It would repeat an old story.

In the midst of the 2009 recession, Congress included buy-American rules in a stimulus bill signed by President Barack Obama — which caused early tension with the Canadian government, as the latter argued the rules made little sense in an integrated continental economy where companies operate on both sides of the border.

After much lobbying, the Canadian government got a special carve-out for Canada — but it didn't apply to every infrastructure program, didn't apply in every state, was only temporary and has now expired.

Some U.S. trade veterans have been expecting this issue to resurface.

"My best guess would be that if there is a stimulus bill, there would be a buy-American provision," said Jean Heilman Grier, who used to work for the U.S. government as the senior procurement negotiator for trade deals.



Arrested with rifle, IS flag

Dutch police detained a 30-year-old man on suspicion of preparing a terrorist crime after finding a Kalashnikov rifle, two full ammunition clips and a painting featuring a flag used by the Islamic State group at his home, prosecutors announced Friday.

The suspect was detained Wednesday by a special arrest team in the Netherlands port city of Rotterdam following an investigation that was triggered by a tip from the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service, prosecutors said in a statement. The man appeared before an investigating judge on Friday and was ordered held for two more weeks.

Along with the weapons and image of the IS group flag, officers who searched the man's home also uncovered four boxes of highly explosive illegal fireworks, mobile telephones and 1,600 euros ($1687) in cash.

Wim de Bruin, a spokesman for the National Prosecutor's Office, said investigators do not think at this stage that other suspects are linked to the Rotterdam resident.

"The whole investigation and information from the intelligence services was linked to this one man," De Bruin said in a telephone interview. "But I don't know what else might come out of the investigation."

De Bruin said the nature of the threat the man allegedly posed remained unclear.

"That is part of the investigation, but not known," he said.

The suspect's identity was not released, in line with Dutch privacy guidelines, but De Bruin said he was a Dutch national.

Last month, the Dutch intelligence service warned that the country remained at risk from Islamic extremists inspired by the Islamic State group. The threat level for the country is at four on a scale that rises to five.

The Wednesday arrest was not the first time a terror suspect has been detained in Rotterdam. In March, a 32-year-old Frenchman was arrested at the request of French authorities who suspected him of involvement in a terror plot. De Bruin said Wednesday's operation had no connection to that arrest.



President impeached

South Korean lawmakers on Friday impeached President Park Geun-hye, a stunning and swift fall for the country's first female leader amid protests that drew millions into the streets in united fury.

After the vote, parliamentary officials hand-delivered formal documents to the presidential Blue House that stripped Park of her power and allowed the country's No. 2 official, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, to assume leadership until the constitutional Court rules on whether Park must permanently step down. The court has up to six months to decide.

"I'd like to say that I'm deeply sorry to the people because the nation has to experience this turmoil because of my negligence and lack of virtue at a time when our security and economy both face difficulties," Park said after the vote, before a closed-door meeting with her Cabinet where she and other aides reportedly broke down in tears.

Hwang separately said that he wanted "the ruling and opposition political parties and the parliament to gather strength and wisdom so that we can return stability to the country and people as soon as possible."

Once called the "Queen of Elections" for her ability to pull off wins for her party, Park has been surrounded in the Blue House in recent weeks by millions of South Koreans who have taken to the streets in protest. They are furious over what prosecutors say was collusion by Park with a longtime friend to extort money from companies and to give that confidante extraordinary sway over government decisions.

Organizers said about 10,000 people gathered in front of the National Assembly to demand that lawmakers pass the impeachment motion. Some had spent the night on the streets after travelling from other cities. Scuffles broke out between angry anti-Park farmers, some of whom had driven tractors to the assembly from their farms, and police. When impeachment happened, many of those gathered raised their hands in the air and leapt about, cheering and laughing.

"Can you hear the roar of the people in front of the National Assembly?" Kim Kwan-young, an opposition lawmaker said ahead of the vote, referring to South Korea's formal name. "Our great people have already opened the way. Let's make it so we can stand honourably in front of history and our descendants."

The handover of power prompted the prime minister to order South Korea's defence minister to put the military on a state of heightened readiness to brace for any potential provocation by North Korea. No suspicious movements by the North were reported, however.

Park will be formally removed from office if at least six of the constitutional Court's nine justices support her impeachment, and the country would then hold a presidential election within 60 days.

Lawmakers from both parties faced huge pressure to act against Park, the daughter of a military dictator still revered by many conservatives for lifting the country from poverty in the 1960s and 1970s.

Her approval ratings had plunged to 4 per cent, the lowest among South Korean leaders since democracy came in the late 1980s, and even elderly conservatives who once made up her political base have distanced themselves from her. An opinion survey released earlier Friday showed 81 per cent of respondents supported Park's impeachment.



Dare you to pronounce this

For all those who don't speak German — and indeed for those who do — here is Austria's word of the year, adding to the challenges of reading and speaking the language.

It's "Bundespraesidentenstichwahlwiederholungsverschiebung," or "postponement of the repeat of the runoff of the presidential election."

The tongue-twister was born of the record time it took to elect Austria's president, and was announced following a poll of 10,000 people carried out by the Research Unit for Austrian German at the University of Graz, in co-operation with the Austria Press Agency.

A first round in April was followed by a May runoff between the two most popular candidates. This was annulled because of irregularities. A new date set for October was then postponed because of faulty absentee ballots to Dec. 4, when the vote was won by Alexander Van der Bellen.



Clinton blasts fake news

Hillary Clinton decried the rise of fake news as an "epidemic" during a speech on Capitol Hill.

Clinton addressed fake news during a speech for retiring Nevada Sen. Harry Reid at the Capitol Thursday.

Clinton warned that "it's now clear that so-called fake news can have real-world consequences," an apparent reference to an incident involving a gunman who fired multiple shots inside a Washington pizza shop that has become the target of a fake conspiracy story.

Clinton said the issue "is not about politics or partisanship. Lives are at risk. Lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days to do their jobs, contribute to their communities."



Coughs, heaves in execution

Thirteen minutes into his execution by injection, an Alabama inmate heaved and coughed and appeared to move during tests meant to determine consciousness.

Ronald Bert Smith Jr., 45, was finally pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m. Thursday night — about 30 minutes after the procedure began at the state prison in southwest Alabama.

Alabama uses the sedative midazolam as the first drug in a three-drug lethal injection combination. Smith and other inmates argued in a court case that the drug was an unreliable sedative and could cause them to feel pain, citing its use in problematic executions. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of the drug.

Smith was convicted of capital murder in the Nov. 8, 1994, fatal shooting of Huntsville store clerk Casey Wilson. A jury voted 7-5 to recommend a sentence of life imprisonment, but a judge overrode that recommendation and sentenced Smith to death.

At the beginning of his execution, Smith heaved and coughed repeatedly, clenching his fists and raising his head.

A prison guard performed two consciousness checks before the final two lethal drugs were administered. In a consciousness test, a prison officer says the inmate's name, brushes his eyelashes and then pinches his left arm. During the first one, Smith moved his arm. He slightly raised his right arm again after the second consciousness test.

The meaning of those movements will likely be debated. One of Smith's attorneys whispered to another attorney, "He's reacting," and pointed out the inmate's repeated movements.

The state prison commissioner said he did not see any reaction to the consciousness tests.

"We do know we followed our protocol. We are absolutely convinced of that," Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said Thursday evening.

When asked if the movements indicated the state's process should be changed, Dunn said: "There will be an autopsy that will be done on Mr. Smith and if there were any irregularities those will hopefully be shown or born out in the autopsy. I think the question is probably better left to the medical experts."

Alabama's execution recalled memories of a botched 2014 execution in Oklahoma. In that execution, inmate Clayton Lockett writhed on the gurney, moaned and pulled up from his restraints after being administered the state's three-drug execution protocol. Execution team members considered trying to save his life and took Lockett to an emergency room before he finally died, 43 minutes after his initial injection.



Alive 2 weeks after crash

A missing soldier has been found alive two weeks after the helicopter he was aboard crashed in a remote area of Borneo, Indonesia's army said Friday.

The army said in statement that 1st Lt. Yohanes Syahputra was found by locals on a road between two villages Thursday in a weakened state due to lack of food with wounds to his hands, waist and legs.

The discovery was reported by radio to a military post.

The Bell 412 EP helicopter that crashed Nov. 24 was carrying five soldiers including two pilots to Long Bawan, a remote town near the border with Malaysia, when it lost contact with its base.

One pilot was rescued three days later when the wreckage was located in rugged terrain. Three others were found dead.

Army spokesman Sabrar Fadhilah said Syahputra will be evacuated to the town of Tarakan for medical examination.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelagic nation of more than 250 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents in recent years, from plane and train crashes to ferry sinkings. Overcrowding, poor infrastructure and unenforced safety rules are often to blame.

The military, which suffers from low funding, has also regularly suffered airplane and helicopter crashes.



'Ghostbusters' proposal

A British man flew his girlfriend all the way across the pond to New York City so he could propose to her at the firehouse used in the "Ghostbusters" franchise.

Wearing a hard hat and safety vest, Giles Baugh dropped to one knee at Ladder 8 in Tribeca and asked Melissa Ward to marry him.

Ward, who says she's learned to embrace Baugh's "Ghostbusters" fandom, happily agreed.

The New York Daily News reports the proposal took several months of planning.

A city employee convinced the FDNY to go along with Baugh's stunt so long as the proper safety precautions were taken. The 1903 firehouse is currently undergoing a $6.5 million renovation.

Baugh says he can recite his favourite scenes from the 1984 movie verbatim.



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