It’s Tuesday February 20, 2018

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A former student accused of last week’s deadly shooting at a Florida high school returned to court for a hearing on Monday in a case that has galvanized advocates of stricter gun control, including many of the rampage survivors. Nikolas Cruz, his head bowed, hands shackled at his waist and wearing a red, jail-issued jumpsuit, showed no emotion during the procedural session in Fort Lauderdale. The hearing ended with the judge ruling that a defense motion filed last week remain sealed from public view. The content of the motion, sealed by another judge, was not described in the hearing. In a second hearing, a judge ordered the release of parts of a mental health assessment of Cruz by the Florida Department of Children and Families in November 2016. The report has already been leaked to South Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper. Cruz, who did not attend the second hearing, is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder after the attack on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Fort Lauderdale. The suspect, whose mother died in November, was investigated by authorities after videos surfaced on the social media platform Snapchat showing him cutting himself, according to the assessment by the Department of Children and Families.

The White House said on Monday that President Donald Trump supports efforts to improve federal background checks for gun purchases, days after a shooting at a Florida school killed 17 people. According to the White House, Trump spoke to Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, on Friday about a bipartisan bill that he and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system." Students, many using the mantra NeverAgain, are mobilizing around the country in favor of stronger gun laws after the shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Previous mass shootings in the United States have also stirred outrage and calls for action to tighten U.S. gun laws, with few results in Congress.

Heavy rains triggered the partial collapse of a huge mound of garbage in Mozambique’s capital on Monday, killing 17 people who were buried by debris. Authorities believe more bodies could be buried at the Hulene garbage dump on the outskirts of Maputo, and a search was underway. The garbage in the poor, densely populated area where the disaster happened rose to the height of a three-story building, according to the Portuguese news agency Lusa. Half a dozen homes were destroyed and some residents in the area fled for fear of another collapse. The Hulene garbage dump is the largest such facility in Maputo. People often comb through the garbage, searching for food and items to sell. Health workers have long raised concerns about the impact of the fumes, flies and other hazards of the dump on the surrounding community. Municipal officials have previously discussed the closure of the dump.

The special counsel who is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has charged an attorney with lying about his communications with Rick Gates, a former aide to Donald Trump’s campaign. Special Counsel Robert Mueller unsealed criminal charges on Tuesday against lawyer Alex Van der Zwaan for allegedly lying to the FBI last November about work his law firm performed in 2012 related to Ukraine. Gates and Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort are also facing criminal charges including conspiracy to launder money and failure to register as foreign agents in connection with their political work for a pro-Russia Ukrainian party. They have pleaded not guilty. Van der Zwaan will appear in court later Tuesday for a plea hearing.

The Kremlin said that the indictment of 13 Russians and Russian companies on charges they meddled in the 2016 presidential election offered no evidence that the Russian government was involved. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, "Russia did not meddle, does not have the habit of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, and is not doing so now." The comments marked Moscow's first official response to the charges, which are focused on Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, known in Russian media as "Putin's cook" because he owns a catering service Moscow officials use. The indictment says that a Russian troll farm he funded tried to drum up support in the U.S. for Donald Trump and fuel opposition to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The Korean women’s hockey team has ended its historic Olympic run with a fifth straight loss, with thousands of fans shouting “We are one” and waving a “unification flag.” Team Korea, which included players from both North and South Korea, was defeated by Sweden 6-1 to cap a 0-5 run in the Pyeongchang Games on Tuesday. South Korean player Kim Heewon wiped away tears as she and teammates waved to cheering fans. Canadian coach Sarah Murray also shed tears when she hugged players. Some spectators also wept. The team was formed about two weeks before the Pyeongchang Games began during an eleventh-hour push by the Koreas to improve ties. It was the Koreas’ first joint Olympic squad. The team’s formation raised hopes that Olympics-related warming gestures might help nuclear tensions.

But that joint celebration may be short-lived. South Korea and the United States are expected to announce plans before April for a postponed joint military drill, according to a statement from South Korea’s defense minister on Tuesday. Seoul and Washington had agreed to postpone the regular joint military exercise until after the Winter Olympics and Paralympics being hosted in South Korea, which ends on March 18. After the decision to delay the joint exercise, North Korea agreed to hold the first official talks with South Korea in more than two years and send athletes to the Winter Games, easing a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. Song added inter-Korean talks had not come about as a direct result of the postponed drill. Pyongyang has warned it would not sit idle if the United States and South Korea push ahead with the postponed military exercises. North Korea denounces the drills as preparations to invade it, and it has at times conducted missile tests or taken other aggressive action in response.

Flu season isn’t over yet, but the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that in less than two weeks they will be putting together a panel of experts to help select strains for next season’s flu vaccine. The influenza virus changes or mutates every year, which makes it very difficult to create a vaccine. It also takes several months to produce the influenza vaccine, which is why health officials are getting started even before this season ends. The effectiveness of the flu vaccine is estimated to be around 25 percent this season, according to an interim report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Overall, this season’s vaccine is 36 percent effective. The CDC admits that more research is needed to determine if vaccine effectiveness changes between egg-based and non–egg-based vaccines. It is thought that non-egg-based vaccines are less likely to have mutations that lead to less protective effects. The leading health officials insist that even with current vaccine effectiveness estimates, vaccination will still help prevent influenza illness, including thousands of hospitalizations and deaths.

Uber Technologies Inc Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said on Tuesday he can see commercialization of the Uber Air flying taxi service happening within five to 10 years. The U.S. ride-hailing app maker has said it expects flying vehicles to eventually become an affordable method of mass transportation. Khosrowshahi was speaking at an investor forum in Tokyo on his first visit to Asia as Uber CEO. Ride-hailing firms such as Uber see populous Japan as a potentially lucrative market and are pressing regulators to ease stringent rules governing the taxi industry.

More than 560 of KFC’s 900 restaurants in the UK were shut on Monday in one of the worst logistics failures of recent years. The fiasco followed a breakdown of a new supply contract for chicken with delivery network DHL. They ran out of their main product - chicken! In a statement, the company said: “Getting fresh chicken out to 900 restaurants across the country is pretty complex.”

Daniel Craig has decided to help other men become more like James Bond. No, he won't be giving lessons in seduction or sleuthing, but he will be selling off his own limited-edition Aston Martin. There were only 100 models built of the 2014 Vanquish, of which Craig was gifted the 7th - or serial number 007. Craig has decided to sell the car to raise proceeds for the youth charity 'The Opportunity Network'. It will be on show at Christie's in Los Angeles from February 27 to March 3 before an auction, in which it is expected to fetch a sale price between $400,000 and $600,000. The midnight blue Aston Martin has a left-side steering wheel and has a deep blue leather seating interior. It can reach 60 mph in four seconds and its 5.9-litre engine can push the car to speeds of 200 mph. All the better for escaping your enemies, or popping out to get a pint of milk. Craig commented: "This Aston Martin Vanquish is a tour de force of automobile engineering and a distinct pleasure to drive. While I will miss it, I am keen to further the very important work of The Opportunity Network with its sale."

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