Huge police forensics presence at UK home of poisoned Russian spy

Enormous resources are being directed at trying to figure out who might be responsible for poisoning a former Russian spy and his daughter with a rare chemical agent.

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench in the southwestern English city of Salisbury on Monday.

Police and forensics officers today continued searching Skripal's home in Salisbury, located 145 kilometres southwest of London, as well as a pub and a restaurant he and his daughter were believed to have visited on Monday.

Skripal and his daughter are in critical but stable condition at a hospital in Salisbury.

A police officer who came to their aid is in a serious condition, though he is conscious and talking, Rudd said.

He was identified Thursday as Sgt. Nick Bailey.

"The use of a nerve agent on British soil is a brazen and reckless act," Rudd told lawmakers in the House of Commons.

"This was attempted murder in the most cruel and public way."

As speculation centered on suspicions that Russia was behind the attack, Rudd said "people are right to want to know who to hold to account.

But if we are to be rigorous in this investigation we must avoid speculation and allow the police to carry on their investigation."

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are critically ill after "suspected exposure to an unknown substance". Source: 1 NEWS

Rudd said the "government will act without hesitation as the facts become clearer."

The Russian Embassy in London, which has mocked other British politicians for suggesting Russian involvement, tweeted that it agreed with Rudd: "First evidence then conclusions on Mr. Skripal's case. Responsible political approach."

Police have refused to speculate on who is behind the attack, but many have focused on Russia because of the case's similarity to the 2006 killing of another former Russian spy who was poisoned in London with radioactive polonium-210.



Maryland warehouse shooter may have been mentally ill

Investigators have found evidence that the woman who killed three people and wounded others before killing herself at a Maryland drugstore warehouse was suffering from a mental illness, a law enforcement official said Friday.

Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler told news reporters Friday that the suspect, 26-year-old Snochia Moseley of Baltimore County, had been diagnosed with a mental illness in 2016. "That's as far as I'll go with it," he said, declining to give any more details on her mental state.

He said in recent weeks Moseley had become increasingly agitated, and relatives had been concerned for her well-being.

Gahler said she used a handgun that she legally purchased in March to fire a total of 13 rounds on Thursday morning, and died after shooting herself twice in the head — once with a grazing wound and again with the fatal shot.

He also gave more details about how the violence unfolded.

Moseley had been hired for the holiday season and had been working there for less than two weeks. She entered the building at 6:30 a.m. As people lined up to come in the building, Gahler said she cut in line and words were exchanged, but it was a "little incident." She left around 7:21 a.m. Moseley, who had worked security jobs in the past, drove to her White Marsh home and got a handgun, pepper spray and handcuffs. She arrived back at the parking lot around 8:35 a.m. and entered the front door around 8:52 a.m.

He says she pulled a hooded shirt over her head and began shooting, striking a man outside the building. Inside, where there were about 65 people, she fatally struck two women and shot three other people who have survived. She shot herself twice before police arrived, he said — once with a grazing wound and then with the fatal shot. She was already down when officers arrived and an officer moved her from the scene, not knowing that she was the shooter, he said.

Gahler said Moseley used a Glock 9mm handgun she had legally purchased in March. When asked how she could legally buy a gun after being diagnosed with a mental illness, officials said it had not been determined that she had a "propensity for violence to self or others."

The sheriff said the motive is still a mystery and may remain so.

"There's just no way to make sense of something so senseless," he said. "There's still a lot of questions that we don't know."

A witness said Thursday that the shootings followed an argument and sent survivors screaming and running in all directions from the Rite Aid distribution center in northeastern Maryland. Others nearby helped the wounded, and one person tied blood-soaked jeans around an injured man's leg trying to stanch the bleeding.

The attack came nearly three months after a man with a shotgun attacked a newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, killing five staff members. Authorities accused Jarrod W. Ramos of attacking The Capital Gazette because of a longstanding grudge against the paper. It came less than a year after a fatal workplace shooting less than 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the warehouse, in which five were shot, three fatally.

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said that, unfortunately, shooting like this are "becoming a too-often occurrence" in the nation.

Authorities respond to a shooting in Harford County, Md., Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.   Authorities say multiple people have been shot in northeast Maryland in what the FBI is describing as an "active shooter situation."  (Jerry Jackson /The Baltimore Sun via AP)
Source: Associated Press


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Newborn babies stabbed

A woman stabbed five people — including three newborn babies — early Friday inside a New York City home that was apparently being used as a neighborhood nursery and then slashed her own wrist, police said.

All of those wounded in the attack, which happened before 4 a.m., were hospitalized but expected to survive. The 52-year-old suspect was in police custody.

No immediate charges were filed, and police said the motive was under investigation.

Investigators were trying to piece together what happened inside the building, a three-story, multifamily townhouse in a neighborhood popular with Chinese immigrants in the Flushing section of Queens. Among the questions was whether the place was operating as an unlicensed child-care facility.

Police responding to a 911 call discovered 3-day-old girl and a 1-month-old girl who had been stabbed in the abdomen, and a 20-day-old girl with cuts to her ear, chin and lip. The father of one of the children and a woman who worked there were also stabbed, police said.

A butcher knife and meat cleaver were found at the scene.

The woman suspected in the attack was discovered bleeding and unconscious in the basement, and after officers applied a tourniquet, she regained consciousness and was taken to the hospital, police said.

State records indicate that a business called Mei Xin Care Inc. was registered at the address, but there was no listed phone number for that company.

Police tape at crime scene Source: 1 NEWS


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127 dead after Tanzania ferry capsizes

Hundreds of solemn people watched Friday as body after body was pulled from a capsized ferry that Tanzanian authorities said was badly overcrowded and upended in the final stretch before reaching shore. The official death toll was 127 but horrified witnesses feared that would rise as a second day of searching neared an end.

President John Magufuli urged calm in the East African country with a history of deadly maritime disasters. And a criminal investigation began.

The MV Nyerere's capacity was 101 people but the ferry had been overloaded when it capsized Thursday afternoon, the government's Chief Secretary John Kijazi told reporters. He said those responsible will face charges.

At least 40 people had been rescued, he said, but the number on Friday barely rose. Dozens of security forces and volunteers wearing gloves and face masks had resumed work at daybreak after suspending efforts overnight, hauling bodies into wooden boats.

"More than 200 people are feared dead," based on accounts from fishermen and other witnesses, because passengers had been returning from a busy market day, Tanzania Red Cross spokeswoman Godfrida Jola told The Associated Press. "But no one knows" just how many people were on board.

Tanzanian ferries often carry hundreds of passengers and are overcrowded, and shifts in weight as people move to disembark can become deadly. Images from the scene showed the ferry's exposed underside not far from shore.

Bodies were lined up on plastic sheeting as hundreds of people pressed near the water's edge, watching the search efforts.

Pope Francis and a number of African leaders expressed shock and sorrow.

"His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing," the condolence telegram said, according to the Vatican.

The MV Nyerere, named for the former president who led the East African nation to independence, was traveling between the islands of Ukara and Ukerewe when it sank, according to the government agency in charge of servicing the vessels.

Worried residents on Friday waited for any word of survivors.

"We try to make calls to friends, relatives," a local guide, Paschal Phares, told the AP. He recalled how crowded his trip on the aging ferry had been last month: "Most of us were standing up. It was full."

Accidents are often reported on the large freshwater lake surrounded by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Some of the deadliest have occurred in Tanzania, where passenger boats are often said to be old and in poor condition.

In 1996, more than 800 people died when passenger and cargo ferry MV Bukoba sank on Lake Victoria.

More than 300 people were on board the ferry on Lake Victoria in Tanzania when disaster struck just metres from shore. Source: 1 NEWS

Nearly 200 people died in 2011 when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.

Rescuers retrieve a body from the water near Ukara Island in Lake Victoria, Tanzania Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. The death toll rose above 100 after the passenger ferry MV Nyerere capsized on Lake Victoria, Tanzania state radio reported Friday, while a second day of rescue efforts raced the setting sun. (AP Photo)
Source: Associated Press


UK hits back after EU trashes May's Brexit plan

The British government on Friday accused the European Union of slamming the handbrake on Brexit negotiations, after the bloc said Prime Minister Theresa May's blueprint was unworkable.

European Council President Donald Tusk said bluntly at a meeting in Salzburg, Austria on Thursday that parts of May's plan simply "will not work," while French President Emmanuel Macron called pro-Brexit U.K. politicians "liars" who had misled the country about the costs of leaving the 28-nation bloc.

A rattled May insisted that her plan was the only one on the table — and that Britain was prepared to walk away from the EU without a deal if it was rejected.

The rebuff sparked British headlines saying May had been "humiliated," and a strong response from the U.K. government.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab accused the EU of rejecting Britain's proposals without offering "credible alternatives" and said the bloc had "yanked up the handbrake" on negotiations.

"For the negotiations to go forward they're going to have to take their hand off the handbrake," he said.

May's Downing St. office said the prime minister would make a televised statement on the Brexit talks on Friday afternoon. There was no indication of what she planned to say.

The rocky summit dashed British hopes of a breakthrough in stalled divorce talks, with just six months to go until Britain leaves the bloc on March 29.

The judgment of British newspapers was brutal. The broadly pro-EU Guardian said May had been "humiliated." The conservative Times of London said: "Humiliation for May as EU rejects Brexit plan."

The Brexit-supporting tabloid Sun branded bloc leaders "EU dirty rats," accusing "Euro mobsters" Tusk and Macron of "ambushing" May.

Despite all the heated British rhetoric, the EU's position is not new. May's "Chequers plan" — named for the prime minister's country retreat where it was hammered out in July — aims to keep the U.K. in the EU single market for goods, but not services, in order to ensure free trade with the bloc and an open border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

EU officials have been cool on the plan from the start, saying Britain can't "cherry-pick" elements of membership in the bloc without accepting all the costs and responsibilities.

Yet British politicians and diplomats were taken aback by Tusk's blunt dismissal of the Chequers plan on Thursday — and by his light-hearted Instagram post showing Tusk and May looking at a dessert tray and the words: "A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries."

Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller said British officials shouldn't have been surprised.

Miller said the EU had "made it very clear where they stand and the U.K. has been so focused on its own infighting that they actually have not been listening."

"How can (May) have been so badly advised? It stinks of incompetence, the whole thing, when the moment of reality is only four weeks away," Miller told the BBC.

Tusk said Thursday that an EU summit on Oct. 18 and 19 would be the moment of truth, when an agreement on divorce terms and the outlines of future trade would be sealed, or would fail.

The biggest single obstacle to a deal is the need to maintain an open Irish border. Failing to do so could disrupt the lives of people and business on both sides, and undermine Northern Ireland's hard-won peace.

Britain and the EU have agreed on the need for a legally binding backstop to guarantee there is no return to customs posts and other border checks. But Britain rejects the EU's proposed solution, which would keep Northern Ireland inside the bloc's customs union while the rest of the U.K. leaves.

May said that would "divide the United Kingdom into two customs territories." She said Britain "will be bringing forward our own proposals shortly" about how to break the impasse.

Dealing with the EU is only part of May's problem. Her Chequers plan also faces opposition from pro-Brexit members of her own Conservative Party, including former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who say it would keep Britain tethered to the bloc, unable to strike new trade deals around the world.

The Salzburg summit has given them new energy. When the Conservatives meet for their annual conference on Sept. 30, they plan to push for May to ditch the Chequers plan, or face a challenge to her leadership.

Pro-EU politicians don't like the Chequers plan either, saying it will cut the U.K.'s vast services sector out of the single market.

Conservative lawmaker Stephen Crabb said that May — assailed from all sides — should keep her nerve.

"The first rule is, don't panic," he told the BBC. "One of the outcomes the EU leaders wanted from yesterday was for Britain to go away, push the panic button and re-think, but the prime minister needs to stick to her guns."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and British Prime Minister Theresa May wait for the beginning of the plenary session of the informal EU summit in Salzburg, Austria, Thursday, September 20, 2018. Source: Associated Press


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