Saturday, February 17, 2018
News Roundup

Tests on Arafat find no proof of poisoning

France

Tests on Arafat find no proof of poisoning

French scientists looking into the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat have dismissed poisoning by radioactive polonium, his widow announced Tuesday in Paris. The results contradict earlier findings by a Swiss lab, and mean it's still unclear how Arafat died. Teams of scientists from three countries were appointed to determine whether polonium played a role in his death in a French military hospital in 2004. Palestinians have long suspected Israel of poisoning him, which Israel denies. The French experts found traces of polonium but came to different conclusions than the Swiss about where they came from, finding that it was "of natural environmental origin," Suha Arafat said. A Russian report given to Palestinian officials was inconclusive about polonium's role.

Russia

Bolshoi dancer gets six years

A Moscow court Tuesday sentenced Pavel Dmitrichenko, the former Bolshoi Ballet Theater soloist, to six years in a penal colony for ordering an acid attack in January that nearly blinded the theater's artistic director, Sergei Filin. Prosecutors said Dmitrichenko was motivated by revenge for Filin's denial of key roles to Dmitrichenko and his wife, Anzhelina Vorontsova. Yuri Zarutsky, the man who carried out the attack, was given a 10-year sentence, and his driver, Andrei Lipatov, received four years.

Springfield, Ill.

Legislature okays fix for pensions

The Illinois Legislature approved a plan Tuesday to eliminate the state's $100 billion pension shortfall. The House voted 62-53 in favor of the plan, which makes deep cuts in state employees' retirement benefits, minutes after it was approved by a more union-friendly Senate, 30-24. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats, traditional allies of the unions. Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign it.

Cape Canaveral

Satellite launched on SpaceX rocket

A new communications satellite that has both public and government applications was launched into space aboard a private rocket on Tuesday. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the 7,000-pound satellite.

Elsewhere

Thailand: Protesters intent on toppling Thailand's democratically elected prime minister plan to press their struggle again today with a march in Bangkok, one day after a truce in honor of the king's birthday this week ended a spate of increasingly fierce street fighting.

Washington: American Alan Gross marked four years in prison in Cuba on Tuesday by writing a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to get personally involved in securing his release. Gross is serving a 15-year term for spiriting satellite and other communications equipment onto the island.

Boston: President Barack Obama's Kenyan-born uncle, Onyango Obama, 69, who ignored a deportation order more than two decades ago, on Tuesday was granted permission by a federal judge to stay in the United States.

Columbus, Ohio: Ariel Castro, the Cleveland bus driver who held three women captive for years, committed suicide by hanging in his cell, two prison consultants concluded Tuesday.

Times wires

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Man found dead in flaming mobile home

TAMPA — Firefighters found a man dead inside a burned-down mobile home Saturday.Tampa Fire Rescue got a call just after 4:30 p.m. that a single-wide mobile home at the 100 block of East Linebaugh Avenue was in flames.The man’s identity was not releas...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

Warning: This story quotes graphic material.Before he killed 17 people at a South Florida high school, Nikolas Cruz repeatedly threatened an ex-classmate who had started dating his former girlfriend, according to a report in Buzzfeed News."I’m going ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Police find dead man in Tampa apartment

TAMPA — Police found a dead man inside an apartment in the 5200 block of Sonora Court Friday after 3 p.m.Who the man is or how long he’s been dead is not yet clear, police said. The victim appears to have been killed in some sort of "homicidal violen...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Police up patrols at two Pinellas Park schools after Snapchat threat

PINELLAS PARK — Police said they will have a heightened presence at two Pinellas Park schools after a school shooting threat was shared on social media.A post Friday on social media app Snapchat threatened a possible school shooting Tuesday, accordin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Prosecutor: Death penalty was ‘designed’ for cases like Florida school shooting

Prosecutor: Death penalty was ‘designed’ for cases like Florida school shooting

The 17 counts of premeditated murder against Nikolas Cruz are the type of case "the death penalty was designed for," according to the Florida prosecutor in charge of trying the confessed school shooter.But Michael Satz, the longtime Broward state att...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Florida, angry and grieving, takes gun protest to streets

Florida, angry and grieving, takes gun protest to streets

PARKLAND, Fla. — Thousands of angry students, parents and residents demanded stricter gun control laws Saturday as new details were revealed about the suspect accused of shooting and killed 17 people in a Florida high school. The rally, held in downt...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Parkland vigil and rally scheduled for Saturday night in downtown St. Pete

Parkland vigil and rally scheduled for Saturday night in downtown St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — A group of activists were scheduled to host a rally in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday night, demanding lawmakers pass gun control legislation.Organizers said the rally, scheduled for 5 p.m. at Williams Park, was planned in respo...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Divided Congress unable to act on guns, immigration despite public pressure

Divided Congress unable to act on guns, immigration despite public pressure

It’s been five years since the guns and immigration debate collided at the same time on Capitol Hill. This time, the results were even more unproductive.In early 2013, weeks after a gunman killed 20 students and six educators at an elementary school ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

TAMPA — Leonard Bernstein would have turned 100 this year. The Florida Orchestra performed two of his works Friday, the second of which paired the dances from West Side Story with the overture to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.The orche...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Woman hit, killed Friday along Memorial Highway

TOWN ’N COUNTRY — A woman died after she was hit by a minivan along Memorial Highway on Friday night, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The 53-year-old woman, whose identity was not released, was trying to cross Memorial Highway f...
Updated: 5 hours ago