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Several people were hospitalized after a shooting Wednesday morning outside the National Security Agency campus at Fort Meade, but none of the injuries were caused by gunfire. The NSA said in a statement that it began when a vehicle tried to enter the agency’s secure campus without authorization shortly after 7 a.m. The FBI is investigating. One federal official said the incident did not appear to have any links to terrorism. Images from local news outlets showed authorities surrounding two handcuffed people after a black SUV ran into a barrier outside the Maryland base. An NSA spokesperson said one person was wounded in the shooting and taken to a hospital. The NSA said, "the situation is under control and there’s no ongoing security or safety threat.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to carry on Wednesday after police recommended indicting him on corruption charges, angrily dismissing the allegations and the critics calling on him to step down. The police announcement that Netanyahu’s acceptance of nearly $300,000 in gifts from two billionaires amounted to bribery - sent shockwaves through the Israeli political system and delivered a humiliating blow to Netanyahu after years of allegations and investigations. But it did not appear to immediately threaten his lengthy rule as reaction largely fell along partisan lines. Nearly all of Netanyahu’s Cabinet ministers issued statements of support and his coalition partners all signaled they would stick by him, for now. Speaking to a gathering of local government officials in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said, “After I read the recommendations report, I can say it is biased, extreme, full of holes like Swiss cheese and doesn’t hold water.” Though he is not legally compelled to resign, several opposition figures called on Netanyahu to do so to avoid corrupting the office further. Under similar circumstances a decade ago Netanyahu, then the opposition leader, urged then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign after police recommended he be indicted, saying a leader “sunk up to his neck in interrogations” could not govern properly.
The top Democrat on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee - Representative Adam Schiff - said on Wednesday the White House and FBI wanted too much information kept from the public in a still-secret Democratic memo related to probes of Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. election. Schiff told reporters that panel members were in “good discussions” with the FBI on declassifying the document, and hoped to resolve the issue “very soon.” Infuriating Democrats, President Trump blocked release of the Democrats’ memo on Friday, although he had disregarded objections by the FBI and allowed the publication of a Republican memo just a week earlier. The Democrats’ document is intended to rebut the Republican memo, which alleges bias against Republicans by FBI and Justice Department officials as they obtained a warrant allowing surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser. Schiff said it appeared the FBI had labeled as classified everything in the memo that had not already been released to the public. If the document is changed significantly, the committee might need to vote again on whether to release it, sending it for another review by Trump.
A British judge upheld an arrest warrant for Julian Assange on Tuesday, saying the WikiLeaks founder cannot escape responsibility for jumping bail in 2012 and hiding in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning on rape allegations. Swedish prosecutors dropped their investigation into the cases last year, and Assange's lawyers said it was no longer in the public interest to arrest him. Judge Emma Arbuthnot firmly disagreed, saying Assange had made "a determined attempt to avoid the order of the court." "He appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favor," the judge said. Assange can appeal, but his lawyers gave no indication whether he would.
The U.S. Navy commander in charge of overseeing military operations in the Pacific said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s long-term goal is to reunify the divided Korean Peninsula under his totalitarian government. Adm. Harry Harris Jr. made those comments during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee and stated there’s a prevailing view that Kim needs a nuclear arsenal to safeguard his regime. But Harris says Kim is after much more saying; “I do think that he is after reunification under a single communist system. So he’s after what his grandfather failed to do and his father failed to do and he’s on a path to achieve what he feels is his natural place.” Kim’s father and grandfather were the late North Korean rulers Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung. The testimony from Harris, an officer who’s been in uniform for nearly 40 years and speaks bluntly, came as athletes from North Korea are participating in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The games led to a remarkable moment of reconciliation between the rivals but their decades-long animosities could easily erupt again after the Olympics. Top U.S. intelligence officials on Tuesday delivered their latest threat assessment, telling the Senate Intelligence Committee that the risk of conflict with North Korea is higher today than at any time since the end of the Cold War.
Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will announce Thursday that he’s running for the Utah Senate seat held by retiring Orrin Hatch. That was confirmed by three people with direct knowledge of the plan. Romney will be a heavy favorite to keep the seat in Republican hands. The 70-year-old Romney, once a harsh critic of President Donald Trump, will release an online video Thursday announcing his Senate bid. His first public appearance as a Senate candidate will come Friday night at a county Republican dinner in Provo. Despite a drama-filled history with Trump, Romney is not expected to address the combative president directly in the announcement video. Those close to him say he plans a hyper-local focus on Utah issues throughout the Senate campaign. His announcement video will suggest that Washington has much to learn from Utah. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and one of the most famous Mormons, is widely liked and respected in Utah, which is heavily Mormon. He moved to Utah after losing the 2012 presidential election. That was a decade after he helped turn around the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics.
The United Nations said the Iraqi city of Mosul will remain strewn with unexploded bombs for a decade, endangering a million or more civilians who want to return home following the end of three years of Islamic State occupation. A U.N. demining expert said on Wednesday the destruction of Mosul had left an estimated 11 million tonnes of debris and two-thirds of the explosive hazards were thought to be buried under the rubble. Last year, UN personnel removed 45,000 explosive hazards and 750 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) across Iraq, including over 25,000 in western Mosul alone. Other areas such as Falluja and Sinjar also need more de-mining help. Last week de-miners discovered an IS factory for manufacturing improvised explosive devices littered with mortar rounds, artillery ammunition, hand grenades, rockets and 250,000 electronic components. Clearing buildings such as the main western Mosul hospital, formerly an IS headquarters site, was vital for restoring services for citizens.
Kuwait has announced that international donors have pledged $30 billion to help rebuild Iraq after the war against the Islamic State group, overcoming Western doubts and donor fatigue over Mideast crises to help the battle-ravaged nation. While falling short of an estimated $88.2 billion needed to rebuild Iraq, it easily surpassed the $20 billion Iraqi officials initially said they needed to begin their difficult work. While much of the larger donations came in the form of loans, Iraq remains an oil-rich nation and such debts can be forgiven by the countries and institutions offering them. The pledges, if followed through with funding, could give Iraq a chance to dig itself out of the rubble left by the Islamic State group and the chaos that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. The biggest single pledge came from Turkey, which announced $5 billion in credit to Iraq, while Kuwait’s ruling emir said his oil-rich nation will give $1 billion in loans and $1 billion in direct investments. Iraq also still owes Kuwait reparations from Saddam’s 1990 invasion that sparked the 1991 U.S.-led Gulf War.
A second federal judge has blocked President Trump's order to end former President Barack Obama's program preventing the deportation of young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Trump last year gave Congress until March to pass a law restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program before it would be phased out, and the Senate this week started debating a fix. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled Tuesday that the government had not provided adequate justification for ending DACA, echoing a January ruling by another judge. "The decision to end the DACA program appears to rest exclusively on a legal conclusion that the program was unconstitutional," Garaufis said. "Because that conclusion was erroneous, the decision to end the DACA program cannot stand."
Pope Francis, leading Catholics into the season of Lent, urged people on Wednesday to slow down amid the noise, haste, and desire for instant gratification in a high-tech world to rediscover the power of silence. On Ash Wednesday devout Christians in churches around the world have ashes rubbed onto their heads in a ritual reminding them of their mortality as a priest recites the biblically inspired phrase, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” During Lent, which ends on Easter, Christians are urged to occasionally fast from food, give up something they enjoy as a sign of humility, carry out extra acts of charity and reflect on how they can improve themselves. Francis, who led a procession along the streets of Aventine Hill before saying the Mass, urged his listeners to beware “the emptiness of everything that is instantaneous, momentary and fleeting” and not forget tenderness and compassion. Francis has invited Roman Catholics and members of all other religions on Sunday to observe a day of prayer, fasting, and initiatives for peace on Feb. 23, urging everyone to “say no” to violence and conflict.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX, fresh off the successful launch this month of the most powerful rocket in the 21st century, won an endorsement on Wednesday from the top U.S. communications regulator to build a broadband network using satellites. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed the approval of an application by SpaceX to provide broadband services using satellites in the United States and worldwide. In a statement, Pai said, “Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach.” SpaceX told the FCC in a Feb. 1 letter that it plans to launch a pair of experimental satellites on one of its Falcon 9 rockets. That launch, which has been approved by the FCC, is set for Saturday in California. The rocket will carry the PAZ satellite for Hisdesat of Madrid, Spain as well as multiple smaller secondary payloads.
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