US sanctions Venezuela officials close to 'former President' Maduro

US sanctions Venezuela officials close to 'former President' MaduroThe US Treasury announced Friday it was imposing sanctions on five intelligence and security officials close to crisis-hit Venezuela's "former" President Nicolas Maduro. Among the five men is Manuel Quevedo, described by the Treasury as the "illegitimate" president of Venezuela's state-owned oil firm, PDVSA.



Family of IS teen appeals to UK to help bring her home

Family of IS teen appeals to UK to help bring her homeLONDON (AP) — The family of a pregnant British teenager who ran away to join the Islamic State group urged the government Friday to help bring her home.



Gay couples in Japan join together on Valentine's Day to sue government over same-sex marriage ban

Gay couples in Japan join together on Valentine's Day to sue government over same-sex marriage banThirteen gay couples filed Japan's first lawsuit challenging the country's rejection of same-sex marriage on Valentine's Day, arguing the denial violates their constitutional right to equality. Six couples holding banners saying "Marriage For All Japan" walked into Tokyo District Court to file their cases against the government, with similar cases filed by three couples in Osaka, one couple in Nagoya and three couples in Sapporo. Plaintiff Kenji Aiba, standing next to his partner Ken Kozumi, told reporters he would "fight this war together with sexual minorities all around Japan." Mr Aiba and Mr Kozumi have held onto a marriage certificate they signed at their wedding party in 2013, anticipating Japan would emulate other advanced nations and legalise same-sex unions. That day has yet to come, and legally they are just friends even though they've lived as a married couple for more than five years. So they decided to act rather than waiting. "Right now we are both in good health and able to work, but what if either of us has an accident or becomes ill? We are not allowed to be each other's guarantors for medical treatment, or to be each other's heir," Mr Kozumi, a 45-year-old office worker, said in a recent interview with his partner Mr Aiba, 40. "Progress in Japan has been too slow." Politician Mizuho Fukushima has spoken out in favour of gay rights in Japan Credit: AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi Ten Japanese municipalities have enacted "partnership" ordinances for same-sex couples to make it easier for them to rent apartments together, among other things, but they are not legally binding. Japanese laws are currently interpreted as allowing marriage only between a man and a woman. In a society where pressure for conformity is strong, many gay people hide their sexuality, fearing prejudice at home, school or work. The obstacles are even higher for transgender people in the highly gender-specific society. The Supreme Court last month upheld a law that effectively requires transgender people to be sterilized before they can have their gender changed on official documents. The LGBT equal rights movement has lagged behind in Japan because people who are silently not conforming to conventional notions of sexuality have been so marginalized that the issue hasn't been considered a human rights problem, experts say. "Many people don't even think of a possibility that their neighbors, colleagues or classmates may be sexual minorities," said Mizuho Fukushima, a lawyer-turned-politician and an expert on gender and human rights issues. "And the pressure to follow a conservative family model, in which heterosexual couples are supposed to marry and have children, is still strong." Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ultra-conservative supporters have campaigned to restore a paternalistic society based on heterosexual marriages. The government has restarted moral education class at schools to teach children family values and good deeds. "Whether to allow same-sex marriage is an issue that affects the foundation of how families should be in Japan, which requires an extremely careful examination," Mr Abe said in a statement last year.



Ann Coulter and Hannity? The off-topic things Trump said in national emergency speech

Ann Coulter and Hannity? The off-topic things Trump said in national emergency speechPresident Trump used his national emergency announcement to rail against China trade policies and applaud Fox News hosts



Parkland shooting: How the NRA is more vulnerable than ever after a year of protests and a wave election

Parkland shooting: How the NRA is more vulnerable than ever after a year of protests and a wave electionOne year after gunfire began in the freshman building of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the movement those bullets sparked has swept through the US and opened a new chapter on guns in America. Guns have come to dominate political debate this past year in way unseen previously in the US, with massive protests from March for Our Lives attracting headlines and major news coverage — and virtually all Democrat presidential candidates supporting stricter gun control. Meanwhile, dozens of states have moved to pass new gun control laws in an historic effort, as communities across America continue to be scarred by gun violence.



Why Can't NASA's Curiosity Rover Rescue Opportunity?

Why Can't NASA's Curiosity Rover Rescue Opportunity?The Mars rover Opportunity has died, NASA announced yesterday (Feb. 13). A layer of dust likely coated its solar panels, preventing it from juicing itself up after a 2018 sky-blackening dust storm on the Red Planet.But why couldn't NASA launch a rescue mission to get it working again? After all, Opportunity wasn't the first rover to get to Mars, and it won't be the last. It's just been the hardiest. In its stunning 14-plus years of travel, enabled by Martian winds that periodically cleaned off its solar panels, it has covered an impressive 28 miles (40 kilometers) on the planet.The most obvious candidate to rescue Opportunity is the Curiosity rover, Opportunity's bigger, nuclear-powered younger sibling. Why not take some time out of Curiosity's work, and send it to see what's wrong with Opportunity and if it might be fixed? [Voyager to Mars Rover: NASA's 10 Greatest Innovations]NASA's Opportunity Mars rover took this image of its own tracks on the rim of Endeavour Crater in June 2017. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State UniversityThe first problem, unfortunately, is distance. According to NASA's Mars map, the Curiosity and Opportunity sites are about 5,200 miles (8,400 km) apart from one another. Curiosity's a bit swifter-footed than Opportunity, but even so, the young sprite would just take way too long to cover that terrain. To navigate the Martian terrain, these rovers require constant guidance from Earth Combined with the long delay between message transmission and receipt, even a trek of a few feet can take days.The second problem is that Curiosity is an explorer, not a repair bot. It would be a monumental challenge to repurpose its onboard instruments to even clear dust off of Opportunity's solar panels. And there's no guarantee that's all that's gone wrong with the rover sitting silently in the Martian cold and darkness.A selfie of the Mars Curiosity rover. Unfortunately, Opportunity's buddy can't come to its rescue. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSSThe final problem is time. Even if Curiosity could take some express train to Opportunity's location, Martian winter is setting in, and the conditions will likely compound any damage to Opportunity now that it's no longer able to keep itself warm.So Opportunity is toast. But who knows, maybe humans on Mars will find it someday and manage to switch it back on. * 5 Mars Myths and Misconceptions * Mars InSight Photos: A Timeline to Landing on the Red Planet * Ancient Mars Could Have Supported Life (Photos)Originally published on Live Science.



FBI releases 16 drawings prolific serial killer Samuel Little made of his victims

FBI releases 16 drawings prolific serial killer Samuel Little made of his victimsThe Federal Bureau of Investigation has released more than a dozen drawingsmade by a prolific serial killer in hopes the public may be able to identifysome of his victims



Honda's pickup trucks recalled because they can catch fire from car wash soap

Honda's pickup trucks recalled because they can catch fire from car wash soapThe Honda pickup is subject to a new recall to fix faulty fuel pumps that can crack when exposed to acids in car-wash detergents.



The 20 Most Powerful Crossovers and SUVs You Can Buy in 2019

The 20 Most Powerful Crossovers and SUVs You Can Buy in 2019



Venezuela opens investigation into opposition-appointed PDVSA directors: prosecutor

Venezuela opens investigation into opposition-appointed PDVSA directors: prosecutorCARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's chief state prosecutor said on Thursday an investigation had been opened into directors of state-run oil firm PDVSA, and its U.S. refiner Citgo, that the opposition-controlled congress appointed on Wednesday. Prosecutor Tarek Saab, in comments broadcast on state television, announced "the opening of an investigation against people designated illegally as directors of PDVSA and Citgo." Saab also said they would investigate foreign ambassadors named by opposition leader Juan Guaido, who on Jan 23 invoked constitutional provisions to assume an interim presidency. ...



Amazon drops New York headquarters plan amid protests

Amazon drops New York headquarters plan amid protestsAmazon abandoned plans for a new headquarters in New York City on Thursday, blaming opposition from community leaders angry at the huge subsidies being offered to one of the world's most successful companies. The online retail giant had promised the sprawling complex in the borough of Queens would create 25,000 jobs in exchange for nearly $3 billion in state and city incentives -- which had riled some New Yorkers. "While polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project," Amazon said in a statement.



The Latest: Putin: Syria must take over lands US leaves

The Latest: Putin: Syria must take over lands US leavesBEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments related to Syria (all times local):



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