Iran's Rouhani blames U.S., Israel for attack on elite Guards: TV

Iran's Rouhani blames U.S., Israel for attack on elite Guards: TVIranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed the United States and its regional allies on Thursday for a suicide bombing in southeastern Iran that killed 27 members of the country's elite Revolutionary Guards, Iranian state TV reported. The force said on Wednesday a suicide bomber driving a vehicle laden with explosives had attacked a bus transporting members of the Guards in the province of Sistan-Baluchestan. A militant Sunni Muslim group, Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for the ethnic minority Baluchis, has claimed responsibility for the attack, Iranian media have reported.



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.



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.



Trump Venezuela envoy interrogated by Ilhan Omar over his role in Iran-Contra scandal

Trump Venezuela envoy interrogated by Ilhan Omar over his role in Iran-Contra scandalDonald Trump’s envoy to Venezuela was left flustered and visibly angry following an interrogation by Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar over his controversial political past. Elliot Abrams was appointed special envoy to Venezuela last month to help lead the US response to the political crisis in the South American country, which is seeing widespread hunger and violence following the collapse of its economy. On Wednesday, Mr Abrams, who served in the Reagan administration, testified in front of the House foreign affairs select committee, where he was subjected to a fierce line of questioning by Ms Omar.



Honda & Acura Recall for Potential Stalling Issue

Honda & Acura Recall for Potential Stalling IssueHonda Recalls 437,000 Cars and SUVs Over Potential Stalling Issue Honda is recalling 437,000 Acura MDX SUVs, Acura TLX V6 cars, and Honda Accord V6 cars because the gasoline flow from fuel pumps...



Why This 'Atmospheric River' Could Cause Mudslides and 'Roofalanches' in California

Why This 'Atmospheric River' Could Cause Mudslides and 'Roofalanches' in CaliforniaCalifornians are experiencing some unusually nasty winter weather this week as an "atmospheric river" passes through most of the state, bringing howling winds and heavy rain.The storm arrived on Tuesday night (Feb. 12) in Northern California and continued into Wednesday (Feb. 13), leading the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue warnings of flash flooding, mudslides and high winds in the region. It is forecast to bring "excessive rainfall" to Southern California on Thursday (Feb. 14), according to the NWS.[Weirdo Weather: 7 Rare Weather Events]Atmospheric rivers are huge "rivers in the sky" that cause moisture from the tropics to flow north, from California to Canada. These huge weather systems can carry many times the freshwater that flows through the mighty Mississippi River, local news outlet KQED reported."They're the biggest freshwater rivers on Earth," F. Martin Ralph, the director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes in La Jolla, California, told KQED.These atmospheric rivers of condensed water vapor can easily be 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) long and 300 miles (482 km) wide, Ralph said. When an atmospheric river brings moisture from Hawaii to the Western U.S. -- as is the case with the current storm -- it's known as the Pineapple Express.Atmospheric rivers can bring much-needed rain -- or wreak havoc by dumping heavy rain or snow when they make landfall, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). California has recently experienced storms, meaning the current downpour is falling on waterlogged soil. Summer wildfires also scorched the earth in several areas of California, and burn scars can be more prone to flash flooding and debris as well, according to the NWS.On Wednesday morning, 24-hour rainfall totals were as high as 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) in some parts of the Northern Bay Area, with San Francisco receiving about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) of rain, according to the NWS. Residents along the Bay Area coast and hills may face high winds from 25 to 35 mph (40 to 56 km/h) with gusts up to 60 mph (97 km/h), according to the NWS. Social media was abuzz with reports of downed trees and flash flooding. In the Sierras, the NWS warned that the atmospheric river could cause "roofalanches," or the sudden release of snow from already snow-packed roofs, which can pose a serious hazard.Earlier this month, Ralph and his colleagues developed a new scale to describe the strength of atmospheric rivers. The scale, which was described in the February issue of the journal Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, ranks these weather events using categories "1 to 5," with Category 1 indicating a "weak" storm and Category 5 indicating an "exceptional" one. The ranking is based on the amount of water vapor the storm carries, and how long it dumps moisture on a given area, according to a statement. The scale also indicates the extent to which the storm is likely to be beneficial -- by bringing much-needed rain to replenish reservoirs after a drought, for example -- or hazardous, leading to flooding and mudslides. The current storm is a "Category 3," according to local news outlet CBS San Francisco.Tia Ghose contributed reporting. * 9 Tips for Exercising in Winter Weather * Fishy Rain to Fire Whirlwinds: The World's Weirdest Weather * 10 Surprising Ways Weather Has Changed HistoryOriginally published on Live Science.



10 Things to Know for Today

10 Things to Know for TodayCongress is set to resolve its clattering brawl with President Donald Trump in uncommonly bipartisan fashion as lawmakers prepare to pass a border security compromise. European plane manufacturer Airbus says it will stop making its superjumbo A380 in 2021 for lack of customers.



May Scrambles for Brexit Compromise With Two Weeks to Save Deal

May Scrambles for Brexit Compromise With Two Weeks to Save DealBritish Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing to compromise with the European Union over the future of Ireland’s border, with just two weeks left to save her Brexit deal. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay privately told the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, on Monday the U.K. doesn’t need to reopen the divorce agreement and would accept other ways to address British concerns, a person familiar with the talks said. On Thursday, members of the pro-Brexit European Research Group of Conservatives inflicted another embarrassing parliamentary defeat on the premier after they refused to endorse her approach to resolving the deadlock.



During a school lockdown, 7-year-old writes note on her arm in case she dies

During a school lockdown, 7-year-old writes note on her arm in case she diesA second-grader wrote a chilling note to her parents on her arm during school lockdown.



U.S. sends first families to Mexico to await asylum, rights groups sue

U.S. sends first families to Mexico to await asylum, rights groups sueFive families with a total of 16 people, including children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, arrived in the Mexican border city of Tijuana on Wednesday, according to a person who works in migration for the Mexican government, who asked not to be named. In late January, the United States began sending non-Mexican migrants who had crossed at the U.S. border with Mexico back to Mexico to wait as their asylum requests are processed, a program called Migrant Protection Protocols. Rights groups say the program endangers asylum seekers by forcing them to remain in regions of Mexico experiencing record levels of violence.



Employee being fired fatally shoots 5 co-workers with 'laser-sighted pistol' in Illinois

Employee being fired fatally shoots 5 co-workers with 'laser-sighted pistol' in IllinoisA 15-year employee being fired from a suburban Chicago manufacturing company opened fire with a laser-sighted pistol on Friday, killing five co-workers and wounding five police officers before he was killed by police, authorities said. Aurora, Illinois, Police Chief Kristen Ziman said 45-year-old Gary Martin "was being terminated" before he started shooting at the Henry Pratt Co. - which makes valves for industrial purposes - in the city about 40 miles west of Chicago. She told a news conference that in addition to the five employees killed, a sixth worker was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life threatening. A sixth police officer suffered a knee injury while officers were searching the building. Ziman said officers arrived within four minutes of receiving reports of the shooting and were fired upon as soon as they entered the 29,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse. Police said they did not know the gunman's motive. John Probst, a worker who was in the factory, said the gunman had arrived for his regular shift, working in assembly, and opened fire several hours later. Mr Probst told local television: "I saw a gunman running down the aisle with a pistol, I recognised him as a co-worker and he was shooting everybody. "As soon as we heard shots, as soon as I saw the green laser thing, we took off out the back door." Mr Probst said the plant was "huge" and the man worked about 80 yards from him. First responders and emergency vehicles are gathered near the scene of a shooting at an industrial park in Aurora Credit: Bev Horne/ Daily Herald Before the shooting the gunman walked past him and went upstairs to the office, he said. Aurora, a city of 200,000 people, is 40 miles west of Chicago. In a statement Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said: "The President has been briefed and is monitoring the ongoing situation in Aurora,



Post-box love for lonely Britons on Valentine's Day

Post-box love for lonely Britons on Valentine's DayBig-hearted Britons have penned thousands of uplifting messages to be delivered to single seniors on Valentine's Day in a project aimed at alleviating loneliness. The letters and cards were written in recent weeks and left in ten models of old-fashioned red post-boxes set up in locations across London and several other cities. Red Letter Days, a gift experience company which came up with the idea, will dispatch the messages to needy elderly recipients in selected care homes during Thursday.



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