Airline warned about man

Before a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu took off carrying a passenger whose inflight behaviour prompted bomb-threat procedures and military fighter jets to escort the plane, passengers complained to American Airlines workers that the man was scaring them, a woman who was on the flight said Wednesday.

Anil Uskanli, 25, of Turkey, tried to get to the front of the plane during last week's flight and crewmembers feared his laptop contained explosives, said a criminal complaint charging him with interfering with a flight crew.

Jaime Reznick, of Los Angeles, said when she arrived at the gate Friday morning Uskanli was pacing, laughing to himself and staring down passengers.

He boarded the plane first even though he was assigned an economy seat.

"We're all really worried about him being on the plane," Reznick said she told an employee who let Uskanli board. "He's a threat. He's acting weird. He's scaring us."

None of the passengers interviewed by the AP after the flight landed in Honolulu Friday said they complained about being afraid of him before the plane took off.

American spokesman Ross Feinstein said the airline will look into Reznick's allegations.

Reznick said she wrote to American Airlines Friday to complain that allowing Uskanli to fly put people in danger.

"We understand the situation may have caused you discomfort; and for that, we apologize," the airline said in a response giving her 10,000 bonus miles.

Uskanli raised other red flags while still at Los Angeles International Airport, but experts say a lack of communication and an airline's hesitancy to be caught on video booting a passenger played a role in allowing him to fly.

He had purchased a ticket at an airline counter in the middle of the night with no luggage and had been arrested after opening a door to a restricted airfield.

Because of the prior incident involving the restricted area and because he was determined to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, crewmembers took Uskanli to the plane in a wheelchair, the FBI complaint said.

He was not in a wheelchair at the gate, Reznick said.

FBI spokesman Arnold Laanui declined to comment on the discrepancy. "Police, media and eye witness accounts often conflict," he said in an email. "This is not unusual, especially in the aftermath of chaotic, traumatic and/or frightening situations."

A federal judge in Honolulu on Monday ordered that Uskanli undergo a mental competency evaluation after his federal public defender requested it.

Uskanli left Hawaii on a government flight for prisoners on Wednesday, a lawyer said.

Reporter body-slammed

A reporter said the Republican candidate for Montana's sole congressional seat body-slammed him Wednesday, the day before the polls close in the nationally watched special election.

Greg Gianforte was in a private office giving an interview when Guardian newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs came in without permission, campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon said.

In an audio recording posted by the Guardian, the reporter asks the congressional candidate about the GOP's health care bill, which was just evaluated hours earlier by the Congressional Budget Office.

"We'll talk to you about that later," Gianforte says on the recording, referring Jacobs to a spokesman.

When Jacobs says that there won't be time, Gianforte says "Just--" and there is a crashing sound. Gianforte yells, "The last guy who came here did the same thing," and a shaken-sounded Jacobs tells the candidate he just body-slammed him.

"Get the hell out of here," Gianforte says.

The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office said it's investigating allegations of an assault involving the wealthy Bozeman businessman. At a news conference, Sheriff Brian Gootkin said authorities were interviewing witnesses and Jacobs and plan to talk with Gianforte but that he has right to decline. He says the office hasn't seen any video of the incident.

It is a last-minute curveball in Thursday's race, which was partly seen as a referendum on Donald Trump's presidency. The majority of voters were expected to have already cast ballots through early voting, and it was unclear how much of an effect it may have.

Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist, who declined to comment, are seeking to fill the state's seat in the U.S. House left vacant when Ryan Zinke resigned to join Trump's Cabinet as secretary of the Interior Department.

The Gianforte campaign released a statement blaming the incident on Jacobs. It contends he "aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face and began asking badgering questions" before being asked to leave.

Gianforte asked Jacobs to lower a phone that was being used as an audio recorder, then tried to grab it, the campaign said in a statement. Jacobs then grabbed Gianforte's wrist and both fell to the ground, Scanlon said.

The 45-second recording does not contain a request from Gianforte that Jacobs lower his phone.

Alexis Levinson, a reporter for Buzzfeed who was outside the office where the incident occurred, tweeted that she heard angry yelling and saw Jacobs' "feet fly in the air as he hit the floor."

Bear nuts for doughnuts

A bear with a sweet tooth ripped off the bumper of a car used to deliver doughnuts in Colorado then tried to claw its way through the trunk to get inside.

Moose Watch Cafe owner Kim Robertson said she and her husband discovered the bumper-less car after they awoke Monday in Steamboat Springs.

They initially thought it had been struck by another vehicle. Then they saw the telltale claw and paw marks.

"That car just constantly smells like a rolling bakery," she said. "It's like Winnie the Pooh with honey."

There were no doughnuts at the time in the Ford Focus, but there were some sweet-smelling aprons.

After ripping of the bumper, the bear made a valiant attempt at clawing away the insulation in the trunk to get at the sweet smell inside, Robertson said.

Police officer John McCartin told The Steamboat Pilot & Today newspaper that he smelled doughnuts while standing outside the damaged vehicle.

"I guess if anyone is an expert about this, it's us," he joked.


Pot: what you need to know

A new marijuana study joins a limited record of scientific knowledge about the harms and benefits of pot.

The research published Wednesday is the first rigorous test of a marijuana compound in treating a certain form of severe epilepsy. It found that an ingredient of marijuana — one that doesn't give pot smokers a high — reduced the number of seizures in children.

In the U.S., more than two dozen states allow medical use of marijuana. Federal drug regulators have not approved marijuana itself, but they have allowed man-made, chemically related medicines to treat loss of appetite in people with AIDS, and nausea and vomiting caused by cancer therapy. A marijuana extract is sold in Britain for nerve pain and other problems from multiple sclerosis.

In January, a U.S. advisory committee concluded that the lack of scientific information about marijuana and its chemical cousins, called cannabinoids, poses a risk to public health. The experts called for a national effort to learn more.

In a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, they also rounded up what is known. Here are some of its conclusions.

There's strong evidence that marijuana or cannabinoids:

  • Can treat chronic pain in adults
  • Can ease nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy
  • Can treat muscle stiffness and spasms in multiple sclerosis as measured by what patients say, but less strong evidence if the changes are measured by doctors

On the other hand, it also found that pot smoking may be linked to:

  • Risk of developing schizophrenia and other causes of psychosis, with the highest risk among the most frequent users
  • Risk of a traffic accident
  • More frequent chronic bronchitis episodes from long-term use
  • Lower birthweight in offspring of female users

There's some evidence that pot or cannabinoids may:

  • Improve short-term sleep in people with some medical conditions
  • Boost appetite and ease weight loss in people with HIV or AIDS
  • Ease symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and improve outcomes after traumatic brain injury

Similarly, some evidence suggests pot use may be linked to:

  • Triggering a heart attack
  • An increased risk of developing a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Pregnancy complications when used by the mother
  • Impaired school achievement and outcomes
  • Increased suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, especially among heavier users
  • Risk of developing bipolar disorder, especially among regular users.

'Dirty business of politics'

Former Vice-President Joe Biden is urging college graduates to take up the "dirty business of politics" to change the trajectory of the world.

The Democrat made his comments at Harvard University's Class Day on Wednesday.

Biden told Harvard's seniors they're graduating at a moment of great change and have an obligation to steer America "closer to where we want as a nation."

He appeared to offer veiled criticism of Republican President Donald Trump, saying those who "play on fears and appeal to baser instincts" can still achieve political power.

But Biden said he believes today's students are "the best-educated, most-talented, most-engaged generation" and are capable of tackling the world's problems.

Biden served six terms as a U.S. senator for Delaware before becoming vice-president under Barack Obama in 2009.

Father arrested in bombing

The spokesman for a Libyan anti-terror force says the father of the alleged Manchester bomber has been arrested in Tripoli.

Special Deterrent force spokesman Ahmed bin Salem told the Associated Press that Ramadan Abedi, the father of Salman Abedi, was detained in Tripoli on Wednesday.

Bin Salem says the elder Abedi was detained for interrogations.

Before his arrest, the father told the AP that his son was innocent and had been planning a trip to Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage.

Ramadan Abedi also had said he worked as the administrative manager of the Central Security force in Tripoli.

He said he fled Tripoli in 1993 after Moammar Gadhafi's security authorities issued an arrest warrant and eventually sought political asylum in Britain.

Salman Abedi was born in Britain and died in Monday's attack at Manchester Arena.

Two of his brothers have been arrested along with their father.

A 'network' of attackers

British security forces raided an apartment building Wednesday in central Manchester as they investigated "a network" of people allegedly behind the city's concert bombing. Hundreds of soldiers were sent to secure key sites across the country, including Buckingham Palace and the British Parliament at Westminster.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the bomber, Salman Abedi, "likely" did not act alone when he killed 22 people and wounded scores at an Ariana Grande concert Monday night in Manchester. She said he had been known to security forces "up to a point."

Abedi, a 22-year-old British citizen born to Libyan parents who grew up around Manchester, died in the attack.

Manchester Police Chief Constable said four people have been arrested thus far as police raid properties thought to be connected to Abedi.

"I think it's very clear this is a network we are investigating," he said, adding that an off-duty police officer was among those killed in concert attack.

Many at the concert were young girls and teens enthralled by Grande's pop power — and those who died included an 8-year-old girl.

Officials are examining Abedi's trips to Libya and possibly Syria as they piece together his allegiances and try to foil any new potential threats. The government said nearly 1,000 soldiers were deployed Wednesday in high-profile sites in London and elsewhere, replacing police, who can work on counter-terrorism duties.

Britain raised its threat level from terrorism to "critical" late Tuesday amid concerns that Abedi may have accomplices who are planning another deadly attack.

Police said three suspects were arrested Wednesday in south Manchester. Another suspect was arrested Tuesday and Abedi's father confirmed to The Associated Press that was Salman's older brother Ismail.

No one has yet been charged in the case and police have not identified the suspects.

Everest: 10 dead this season

Almost every year, the reports filter down from the highest mountain in the world, and talk among the climbing teams at Everest Base Camp turns to the latest person to die.

On Everest, tragedy is almost normal. Ten people have died so far in a series of accidents this climbing season, four more than mountaineering officials expect in a typical year.

On Wednesday, authorities said Sherpa rescuers found the bodies of four climbers inside a tent at the highest camp on Everest, a few thousand feet from the summit. The rescuers were in the area to recover the body of a Slovak mountaineer who had died over the weekend.

"Some years there are more, and some years there are less, but deaths on the mountain are normal," said Jiban Ghimire, who runs a prominent expedition company, Shangrila Nepal Trek. Most in the climbing world know tragedy will touch them at some point. "It is the nature of work. We can't say what will happen on the mountain," he said.

The weather on Everest, already one of the most unforgiving places on Earth, was especially hard this year.

"This year it was colder, windy and snowed much more than in previous years," said Ang Tshering, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. "Even now climbers are struggling with weather."

The identities of the four dead climbers found in the tent were still unknown, and other rescuers were heading there to learn more details.

Indian climber Ravi Kumar, American doctor Roland Yearwood, Slovak climber Vladimir Strba and Australian Francesco Enrico Marchetti died over the weekend, and two climbers died earlier. The climbing season begins in March and runs through the end of May to take advantage of the best weather conditions on Everest.

NATO red carpet for Trump

NATO is not only rolling out the red carpet for U.S. President Donald Trump in Brussels Thursday, the military alliance — which Trump once declared obsolete — has been busy repackaging its image and is ready to unveil a new headquarters worth more than 1 billion euros.

In recent months, member nations have strained to show they are ramping up defence spending as Trump has demanded, even though they have been doing so for a few years in response to an aggressive Russia. And while they agree with the chief of the alliance's most powerful member that NATO can do more to fight terrorism, they say it can be achieved with more of the same; training and mentoring troops in Afghanistan, and equipping local forces in Iraq so they can better fight the Islamic State group themselves.

"They'll only talk about what he cares about, so really he should come out of this meeting feeling as though NATO responds to him," said Kristine Berzina, NATO analyst at the German Marshall Fund think-tank . "At least that's what they hope here."

Indeed, as part of the repackaging to be announced during Trump's 24-hour visit to the city he branded a "hellhole," NATO is likely to agree to join the 68-nation international coalition fighting IS. The move is symbolically important, especially since the group claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.

An anti-terror co-ordinator may also be named, but most changes will be cosmetic, as NATO allies have no intention of going to war against IS.

"It's totally out of the question for NATO to engage in any combat operations," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday, on the eve of the meeting.

The 28 member nations, plus soon-to-join Montenegro, will renew an old vow to move toward spending 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence by 2024. Still, many are skeptical about this arbitrary bottom line that takes no account of effective military spending where it's needed most. Germany would have to virtually double its military budget and spend more than Russia.

Only five members currently meet the target: Britain, Estonia, debt-laden Greece, Poland and the United States, which spends more on defence than all the other allies combined.

Trump and Pope meet

President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, two leaders with contrasting styles and differing worldviews, met at the Vatican on Wednesday, setting aside their previous clashes to broadcast a tone of peace.

Trump, midway through a nine-day international journey, called upon the pontiff in a private, 30-minute meeting laden with religious symbolism and ancient protocol.

Neither man repeated their prior criticism of the other. The statements released afterward were deliberately vague and contained only hints of areas of disagreement. Trump smiled broadly, the pope smiled less, but both agreed, at least for a day, to settle on the same message: the need to avoid conflict.

That theme was reflected in their words and their gifts.

The pope, upon completing their meeting, gave the president a medal featuring an olive branch.

"We can use peace," said the president, concurring with the symbolism.

Francis also gave a message of peace and three bound papal documents that to some degree define his papacy and priorities, including the family and the environment.

The pope told Trump he signed the message "personally for you." Trump said he would read the books.

In exchange, Trump presented the pontiff with a custom-bound, first-edition set of Martin Luther King Jr.'s works, an engraved stone from the King memorial in Washington and a bronze sculpture of a flowering lotus titled "Rising Above."

"I think you'll enjoy them. I hope you do," Trump said.

When Trump departed, he told the pope: "Thank you, I won't forget what you said."

Afterward, as he met with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Trump said of the pope: "He is something."

"We had a fantastic meeting," the president said. "It was an honour to be with the pope."

Ex-CIA boss warned Russia

Former CIA Director John Brennan told Congress Tuesday he personally warned Russia last summer against interfering in the U.S. presidential election and was so concerned about Russian contacts with people involved in Donald Trump's campaign that he convened top counterintelligence officials to focus on them.

Meanwhile, a Senate committee issued two additional subpoenas to businesses of ousted Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, one of several key figures in the Russia-Trump campaign probe, and sent a letter to his lawyer questioning his basis for claiming a Fifth Amendment right not to provide documents.

If there is no response from Flynn, the Senate Intelligence Committee may consider a contempt-of-Congress charge, said Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina.

Tuesday's letter narrowed the scope of the documents the panel is seeking. Flynn had rejected the earlier subpoena for records as being so broad that providing them could make him vulnerable.

Former CIA chief Brennan's testimony to the House intelligence committee was the clearest public indication yet of the significance the Russia contacts play in counterintelligence investigations that continue to hang over the White House.

Brennan, who was President Barack Obama's CIA director, said he couldn't say whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, an issue being investigated by congressional committees and now a federal special counsel.

"I don't have sufficient information to make a determination about whether or not such co-operation or complicity or collusion was taking place," Brennan said. "But I know there was a basis to have individuals pull those threads."

Brennan noted anew that U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded "Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary (Hillary) Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency, and to help President Trump's election chances."

"It should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 present election process" and did so despite strong protests and his warning, he said.

Trump has predicted the investigations won't find collusion, and his efforts to cast doubt and curb the probes have led to the appointment of a special counsel at the Justice Department.

Deadly migrant capsizing

The Italian coast guard says at least 20 migrants have died after their vessel capsized off Libya's coast.

The coast guard says the ship was carrying about 500 people. At a certain point, either a wave hit or the migrants shifted to one side and about 200 of them ended up in the water.

Officials intervened and rescued most, but at least 20 bodies were seen. The coast guard, which is co-ordinating migrant rescues, has dispatched other rescue vessels to the area to try to find any survivors.

The incident was one of 15 rescue operations over the past day that have saved some 1,700 people.

More World News

London Webcam
Webcam provided by webcams.travel
Recent Trending
Castanet Proud Member of RTNDA Canada