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A powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake near the Iraq-Iran border killed more than 350 people across both countries, sent residents fleeing their homes into the night and was felt as far away as the Mediterranean coast. Authorities said Monday that Iran’s western Kermanshah province bore the brunt of the temblor Sunday night, with authorities saying the quake killed 348 people in Iran and injured 6,603. Kermanshah is a rural, mountainous region where residents rely mainly on farming. Iraq's Interior Ministry said the earthquake killed at least seven people and injured 535, all in the country’s northern Kurdish region. The quake, which was centered more than 200 miles north of Baghdad, was felt across Iraq and Iran and as far away as Pakistan, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Turkey. Electricity was cut off in several Iranian and Iraqi cities, and fears of aftershocks sent thousands of people in both countries out onto the streets and parks in cold weather. Many houses in rural parts of the province are made of mud bricks and are known to crumble easily in quake-prone Iran. The Iranian armed forces have been deployed to help emergency services. Iran sits on several major fault lines and experiences frequent earthquakes. A magnitude 6.6 temblor killed 26,000 people in the historic city of Bam in 2003.
Two former top U.S. intelligence officials said on Sunday they fear President Donald Trump is being manipulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin after Trump said he believed Putin was sincere in denying Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Former CIA Director John Brennan and ex-National Intelligence Director James Clapper both said Trump was mishandling Moscow ties even as a special counsel investigates possible collusion between Trump’s campaign team and Russia. Their comments came after Trump told reporters over the weekend that he had spoken with Putin again over allegations of Russian meddling in the presidential election and that the Russian president again denied any involvement. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the criticism leveled against Trump’s management of relations with Russia and China was “ridiculous.” Mnuchin said, “President Trump is not getting played by anybody.”
Turkey has dismissed as “utterly false, ludicrous and groundless” a report that Turkish officials may have discussed paying millions of dollars to have a U.S.-based Muslim cleric kidnapped. The Wall Street Journal reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating an alleged plot involving former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his son to hand Fethullah Gulen over to Ankara for as much as $15 million. Turkey blames the cleric and his supporters for a July 2016 military coup attempt that killed 250 people. Flynn’s lawyers also have disputed the Journal report that Mueller was looking into a meeting where Flynn allegedly discussed a plan that would pay him and his son “to forcibly remove” Gulen. Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, did lobbying work for Turkey last year. Gulen has been living in the U.S. for nearly two decades. He is a former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan until their 2013 public falling-out led the government to declare Gulen’s network a terror group.
Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore continued to mostly deny allegations from four women that he initiated inappropriate physical relationships when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers as young as 14, telling a Christian Citizen Task Force forum on Sunday that The Washington Post, which reported the accusations after speaking with 30 people who knew Moore in the late 1970s and early '80s, had printed false allegations "for which they will be sued." Meanwhile, four polls since Thursday show a dead heat between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, and Senate Republicans and the White House are increasingly distancing themselves from Moore. Two GOP senators — Tim Scott of South Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — said Sunday they find the accusations more credible than Moore's denials.
Armed with signs, catchy phrases and a motivation to take #MeToo beyond the internet and into real life, a few hundred women, men, and children gathered Sunday among the sex shops and tourist traps of Hollywood Boulevard to protest sexual harassment. The Take Back the Workplace March and the #MeToo Survivors March joined forces in the heart of Hollywood, near the entrance to the Dolby Theater where the Academy Awards take place. They walked side by side past the tourists, costume shops, strip clubs to gather for a rally of rousing speeches from the likes of Harvey Weinstein accuser Lauren Sivan and Oscar-winning producer Cathy Schulman. Event organizers estimated there were about 200 to 300 people in the march. One woman, who did not want to give her name for fear of retaliation or lawsuit carried a homemade sign accusing a sitcom producer of grabbing her from behind and making a lewd remark and suggestive comment. “Thank you to my agent at William Morris for telling me ‘Keep your mouth shut or you’ll never work again." And the other side of the sign read, “BTW, you also represented my abuser.”
President Donald Trump said Monday he had a "great relationship" with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte after their first formal one-on-one meeting. Trump declined to answer questions about whether he had pressed human rights issues with Duterte, an authoritarian leader accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the issue of human rights "briefly came up in the context of the Philippines' fight against illegal drugs." Duterte's spokesman said Duterte talked about the "drug menace" but Trump never mentioned human rights. Trump offered Duterte mediation assistance in his country's dispute with China over the South China Sea, calling himself "a very good mediator and arbitrator." Duterte declined the offer, saying the issue "is better left untouched" because "nobody can afford to go to war." This is the last stop in Trump's inaugural tour of Asia as president; he will have more formal meetings with Duterte on Monday.
Before leaving Vietnam early Sunday morning, President Trump posted a series of bombastic tweets. Reflecting on his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin the day before, Trump asked when "all the haters and fools" will "realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing." He suggested favorable Russia relations would be better received if proposed by a Democrat and then turned to North Korea, writing, "Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me 'old,' when I would NEVER call him 'short and fat?' Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!" White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly said of the posts, "They are what they are."
North Korean troops shot and injured a fellow soldier on Monday as he dashed across the heavily armed border into South Korea as the two countries remain on high alert due to tensions over the North's missile and nuclear weapons programs. South Korean soldiers found the defector about 55 yards south of the borderline and took him to a hospital, where he was being treated for gunshot wounds to an elbow and shoulder. The incident occurred as the U.S. and South Korea conduct joint naval exercises involving three American aircraft carriers off South Korea's east coast. This is the first time in a decade the U.S. has used three carrier groups in the drills, in a show of the kind of force President Trump has said Americans "hope to God we never have to use" against Pyongyang.
The small Mideast country of Lebanon has become central to regional Sunni-Shiite conflict spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and Iran. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri unexpectedly resigned last week while visiting Saudi Arabia, reportedly at the insistence of the Saudi monarchy, which sources told Reuters believed the Sunni prime minister was too unwilling to confront the Shiite, Iran-backed Hezbollah in his country. On Saturday, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Hariri "is detained in Saudi Arabia and forbidden until this moment from returning to Lebanon," accusing the Saudis of "declaring war" on Lebanon.
Disneyland has shut down and decontaminated two cooling towers following an outbreak of Legionnaires disease that sickened 12 people, nine of them guests or employees at the theme park in Anaheim. Orange County health officials said one of the three cases of the respiratory illness not linked to Disneyland was fatal in an individual who had additional health issues. The chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Pamela Hymel, said in a written statement that after learning of the Legionnaires cases, park officials ordered the cooling towers treated with chemicals to destroy the bacteria and shut them down. Cooling towers provide cold water for various uses at Disneyland and give off a vapor or mist that could have carried the Legionella bacteria. Hymel said that local health officials had assured them that there was no longer any risk to guests or employees of the park. Ten of the victims, who ranged in age from 52 to 94, were hospitalized. Symptoms develop 2 to 10 days after exposure and include fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, and headaches. It is treated with antibiotics, which can improve symptoms and shorten the length of illness. The disease is not contagious.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson will write and direct a new Star Wars trilogy set in "a corner of the galaxy" that the franchise has "never before explored," according to a Disney announcement. CEO Bob Iger made the announcement. "Star Wars is the greatest modern mythology and we feel very lucky to have contributed to it," Rian Johnson said in a joint statement with producer Ram Bergman. "We can't wait to continue with this new series of films." Johnson's first Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, is the second in the sequel trilogy and will be released Dec. 15.
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