Briefs: Hush. Hush. Spy convention

Interstate 40 near Flagstaff was closed Friday because of unsafe travel conditions (Arizona Dept of Transportation Freeway Cam)

The Associated Press

Holiday travel disrupted by weather

Trump to decide if he wants lawyers at impeachment hearings

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee asked President Donald Trump on Friday to say whether he'll send his attorneys to participate in impeachment proceedings before the panel.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler also is asking Republicans on his committee which witnesses they plan to ask permission to subpoena.

The letters from the New York Democrat came as the House impeachment probe enters a new phase with a hearing next week on whether Trump's actions might constitute impeachable offenses.

Two weeks of Intelligence Committee hearings produced a mountain of testimony but didn't seem to move the needle on Capitol Hill, where not a single House Republican supported establishing the chamber's impeachment process.

Nadler instructed Trump and top panel Republican Doug Collins of Georgia to respond by the end of next week. The Judiciary Committee meets Wednesday in an informational hearing to examine the "constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment" and could move some time after that to hearings where witnesses testify about Trump's actions with Ukraine.

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Elite US climber Gobright dies rappelling down rock face

MEXICO CITY (AP) — California rock climber Brad Gobright reportedly reached the top of a highly challenging rock face in northern Mexico and was rappelling down with a companion when he fell to his death.

Climber Aidan Jacobson of Phoenix, Arizona, told Outside magazine he was with Gobright, and said they had just performed an ascent of the Sendero Luminoso route in the El Potrero Chico area near the northern city of Monterrey. Jacobson also fell, but a shorter distance, after something went wrong in the "simul-rappelling" descent, the magazine said.

The technique involves two climbers balancing each other's weight off an anchor point. In online forums, many climbers described the technique as difficult and potentially dangerous.

Civil defense officials in Nuevo Leon state said Gobright, 31, fell about 300 meters (328 yards) to his death on Wednesday. The magazine account described the fall as 600 feet (about 200 meters). Jacobson suffered minor injuries, officials said.

Gobright's body was recovered Thursday. The publication Rock and Ice described Gobright as "one of the most accomplished free solo climbers in the world."

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Peru's Keiko Fujimori leaves prison after top court ruling

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Supporters cheered late Friday as once-powerful opposition leader and two-time Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori left the prison where she had been held while being investigated for alleged corruption. Peru's Constitutional Tribunal approved her release.

Smiling broadly, the daughter of jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori walked out of the women's prison in the Lima district of Chorrillos and was handed a bouquet of roses by her husband, Mark Villanella, who had been on a hunger strike demanding her release.

Keiko Fujimori called her 13-month prison stay the "most painful time of my life, so the first thing I want to do now that I am on the street is thank God for giving me the strength to resist."

She was freed by the Constitutional Tribunal in 4-3 vote earlier this week. The magistrates noted the decision on a habeas corpus request does not constitute a judgment on her guilt or innocence with regards to accusations she accepted money from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. Fujimori could still be returned to a cell.

Dozens of riot police were present in case of protests by opponents who have called her release another blow for entrenched impunity for the corrupt in the South American country. But most of the people outside the prison were her supporters.

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UK police: Bridge attacker had been jailed for terror crimes

LONDON (AP) — A man imprisoned six years for terrorism offenses before his release last year stabbed several people in London on Friday, two fatally, before being tackled by members of the public and then fatally shot by officers on London Bridge.

Neil Basu, London's police counterterrorism head, said 28-year-old Usman Khan was attending a program that works to educate prisoners when he launched the attack, killing a man and a woman and injuring three others just yards from the site of a deadly 2017 van and knife rampage. Basu said the suspect appeared to be wearing a bomb vest but it turned out to be "a hoax explosive device."

Health officials said one of the injured was in critical but stable condition, one was stable and the third had less serious injuries.

The attack raises difficult questions for Britain's government and security services. Police said Khan was convicted in 2012 of terrorism offenses and released in December 2018 "on license," which means he had to meet certain conditions or face recall to prison. Several British media outlets reported that he was wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had "long argued" that it was a "mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early."

Powerful storm interrupts nation's busiest travel weekend

A powerful storm making its way east from California is causing major disruptions during the year's busiest travel weekend, as forecasters warned that intensifying snow and ice could thwart millions of people across the country hoping to get home after Thanksgiving.

The storm caused the death of at least one person in South Dakota and shut down highways in the western U.S., stranding drivers in California and prompting authorities in Arizona to plead with travelers to wait out the weather before attempting to travel.

The storm was tracking into the Plains Friday and expected to track east through the weekend — into the Midwest by Saturday and the Northeast on Sunday — pummeling a huge portion of the country with snow, ice or flash flooding.

The National Weather Service said travel could become impossible in some places.

The weather could be particularly disruptive on Sunday, when millions of holiday travelers head home. Airlines for America, the airline industry's trade group, expects 3.1 million passengers during what could be the busiest day ever recorded for American air travel.

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Head start on holiday deals tempers Black Friday frenzy

NEW YORK (AP) — Black Friday enthusiasts woke up before dawn and traveled cross-state to their favorite malls in search of hot deals, kicking off a shortened shopping season that intensified the scramble between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But the ever-growing popularity of online shopping and holiday discounts that started weeks earlier dampened the frenzy. This year, more people got a head start on gift-hunting, lured by deals from retailers trying to compensate for the shorter season.

The shopping season is the shortest since 2013 because Thanksgiving fell on the last Thursday in November — the latest possible date it could be.

Shoppers up since the wee hours slept in chairs at Nashville's Opry Mills mall, known for its outlet stores. Outside, deal-seekers were still fighting for parking spots by midmorning.

Haley Wright left Alabama at 4 a.m. to arrive at the Tennessee mall by 7 a.m. She makes the annual trip because she says the stores offer better deals and a more fun environment than the shops back home.

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Assailant wounds 3 in stabbing in busy Hague shopping area

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An assailant stabbed three people Friday night in a busy shopping district in the Netherlands, and police were searching for the suspect, authorities said.

The attack came just hours after a man wearing a fake explosive vest stabbed several people in London, killing two, before he was tackled by members of the public and then fatally shot by officers. Police treated it as a terrorist attack.

A Dutch police spokeswoman said it was too early to establish a motive for the attack in The Hague.

The victims, all minors, were released from the hospital late Friday. It was unclear whether they might have been hurt when the crowds of holiday shoppers panicked. Video from the scene showed people running away and shrieking. Calm returned soon after police arrived.

The stabbing happened about 7:45 p.m., when a man attacked several people on the street. Investigators were "keeping every scenario open," police spokeswoman Marije Kuiper said.

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Party like a spy: Spookstock is intel world's hush-hush bash

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sometime earlier this year, one of the most elite social events in Washington took place, but without any fanfare or news coverage.

It drew about 1,800 attendees and Grammy-winning rocker Lenny Kravitz performed. Yet there were no written invitations, and the actual date and location were carefully guarded secrets.

The annual charitable event is mischievously known as Spookstock. While many Washington insiders, let alone the public, haven't heard of it, the gala has become a centerpiece for the capital region's tightknit intelligence and military special operations communities.

"I've done my share of formal events and black dress nights. This is a lot more fun," said retired Maj. Gen. Clay Hutmacher, the former director of operations for U.S. Special Operations Command. "It's very casual. If you want to show up in a Def Leppard T-shirt, that's fine."

Now in its seventh year, Spookstock has raised millions for the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which look after the families of CIA officers and special operations forces killed in the field. Last year, after expenses, each charity received about $400,000, according to Spookstock board member Mark Kelton.

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1 year later, mystery surrounds China's gene-edited babies

Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world by claiming he had helped make the first gene-edited babies. One year later, mystery surrounds his fate as well as theirs.

He has not been seen publicly since January, his work has not been published and nothing is known about the health of the babies.

"That's the story — it's all cloaked in secrecy, which is not productive for the advance of understanding," said Stanford bioethicist Dr. William Hurlbut.

He talked with Hurlbut many times before He revealed at a Hong Kong science conference that he had used a tool called CRISPR to alter a gene in embryos to try to help them resist infection with the AIDS virus. The work, which He discussed in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press, was denounced as medically unnecessary and unethical because of possible harm to other genes and because the DNA changes can pass to future generations.

Since then, many people have called for regulations or a moratorium on similar work, but committees have bogged down over who should set standards and how to enforce them.

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