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Sources: Russian tankers gave North Korea fuel

Russian tankers have supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by transferring cargoes at sea, Reuters reported Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

Reuters, quoting two “senior Western European security sources,” said the transfers are providing an economic lifeline to North Korea. The sale of oil or oil products from Russia are in violation of U.N. sanctions, the sources told Reuters.

The transfers took place in October and November, Reuters reported.

“Russian vessels have made ship-to-ship transfers of petrochemicals to North Korean vessels on several occasions this year in breach of sanctions,” the first security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

A second source independently confirmed the existence of the Russian ship-to-ship fuel trade with North Korea. This source said there was no evidence of Russian state involvement in the latest transfers.

“There is no evidence that this is backed by the Russian state but these Russian vessels are giving a lifeline to the North Koreans,” the second European security source said.

South Korea seizes vessel, claims it transferred oil to North Korea

South Korea seized a Hong Kong-flagged vessel suspected of transferring oil to North Korea in defiance of international sanctions on Dec. 24, Reuters reported Friday.

>> Read more trending news

The vessel, Lighthouse Winmore, transferred refined petroleum products to a North Korean ship in international waters in late October, a foreign ministry official told Reuters.

The United States proposed blacklisting the Hong Kong-flagged ship to the U.N. Security Council for circumventing sanctions slapped on North Korea for its nuclear and missile programs, documents seen by Reuters this month showed.

In a tweet, President Donald Trump said China was “caught red-handed.”

China denied Friday that it was supplying oil to North Korea, USA Today reported.

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said Friday that Beijing has “completely and strictly” complied with the sanctions, The Associated Press reported.

She said that authorities investigated a report that a Chinese ship had transferred oil to a North Korean ship at sea in October and concluded the report was false.

The Lighthouse Winmore departed from the port of Yeosu in South Korea, CNN reported.

“UN Security Council sanctions prohibit the transfer of anything to a North Korean ship,” the official told CNN. "This is one of the main ways in which North Korea uses an illegal network to circumvent UN Security Council sanctions.”

Suicide bomb attack kills 40 in Afghanistan

At least 40 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan’s capital city Thursday, CNN and Reuters reported.

>> Read more trending news

Another 30 people were injured during the attack in Kabul, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told CNN.

The attack happened around 10:30 a.m. local time and targeted a cultural center. The first blast was followed by two more explosions, but those did not cause any injuries, Rahimi said. 

The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack in a statement to the media released by the group’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mojahid.

The bombing also damaged an office of the Afghan Voice news agency, Reuters reported.

The attack occurred during a morning panel discussion on the 38th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Sunni-majority Afghanistan at the Tabian Social and Cultural Center, with many of those attending students, witnesses told Reuters.

Sayed Abbas Hussaini, a journalist at the agency, said there appeared to have been more than one explosion during the attack, following an initial blast at the entrance to the compound housing the two offices. He said one reporter at the agency had been killed and two were wounded.

President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman issued a statement calling the attack an “unpardonable” crime against humanity and pledged to destroy terrorist groups.

“This gruesome attack underscores the dangers faced by Afghan civilians,” rights group Amnesty International said in a statement from its South Asia director, Biraj Patnaik. “In one of the deadliest years on record, journalists and other civilians continue to be ruthlessly targeted by armed groups.”

Rihanna urges end to gun violence after cousin shot to death

Rihanna paid tribute to a slain man she named as her cousin in an Instagram post, calling for an end to gun violence, New Music Express reported Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news

Sharing a picture of herself with Tavon Kaiseen Alleyne, the singer wrote: “RIP cousin. … can’t believe it was just last night that I held you in my arms! never thought that would be the last time I felt the warmth in your body!!! Love you always man!”

She ended her post with the hashtag “#endgunviolence.”

Nation News in Barbados reported that Alleyne, 21, was fatally shot at 7 p.m. Tuesday at his home in Saint Michael.

According to the report, Alleyne was “walking through a track in the area of his house when he was approached by a man who shot him multiple times before fleeing the scene.”

Police are still investigating the shooting, New Musical Express reported.

Obama warns against divisiveness on social media

Former President Barack Obama, without mentioning his successor, urged people in leadership roles not to use social media in a way that promotes divisiveness, CNN reported Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news

In a BBC interview conducted by Great Britain’s Prince Harry, Obama warned that the internet risks reinforced prejudices and a fractured society.

“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet,” Obama told the prince in an interview that aired on the BBC 4’s “Today” program. “One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”

Obama did not mention President Donald Trump by name during the interview, but Trump has been an outspoken and controversial user of Twitter.

Obama’s interview with Prince Harry was taped in September during the Invictus Games in Toronto, CNN reported.

>> When Harry met Barry: Prince interviews Obama 

Asked how he felt the day he left office in January, Obama said he had mixed feelings.

“The sense that there was a completion, and that we had done the work in a way that preserved our integrity and left us whole and that we hadn't fundamentally changed, I think was a satisfying feeling,” he said. “That was mixed with all the work that was still undone and concerns about how the country moves forward. But overall there was a serenity there, more than I would have expected."

Asked by Harry what was the biggest change for him after his eight years in office, Obama reflected on a slowed pace of life and the new freedom he had to decide how to focus his activities.

“The things that are important to me haven't changed, I still care about about making the United States and the world a place where kids get an education, where people who are willing to work hard are able to find a job that pays a living wage, that we are conserving the amazing resources of our planet so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of this place like we did,” he said.

Questioned live on the air after the pretaped interview was broadcast, Prince Harry said the guest list has not yet been put together for his wedding to actress Meghan Markle next May, CNN reported.

>> UK government worries about Trump’s reaction

Asked if he got along well enough with the former president to invite him to the event, the prince laughed off the question, CNN reported.

“Well, I don't know about that,” he said. “We haven't put the invites or the guest list together yet so who knows whether he's going to be invited or not. I wouldn't want to ruin that surprise.”

Report: UK government worried about Trump's reaction if Obamas get royal wedding invitation

The British government is urging Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to reconsider inviting former President Barack Obama to their wedding out of fear of how current President Donald Trump might react, according to reports.

>> Read more trending news

“Harry has made it clear he wants the Obamas at the wedding, so it’s causing a lot of nervousness,” The Sun reported, citing a senior government official. “Trump could react very badly if the Obamas get to a royal wedding before he has had a chance to meet the queen.”

The government appears to be concerned that Trump might view an invitation to the Obamas as a snub amid already frosty relations between the United States and the United Kingdom. Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May have had a rocky relationship since the start of the Trump’s presidency, and many fear extending an invitation to Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama might exasperate the issue.

The pair was not invited to Prince William’s 2011 wedding to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey, but Prince Harry fostered a bond with the Obamas, working closely with them on his annual Invictus Games in Toronto in September. While the trio remain friendly, it looks like it might be up to May to make the call on whether the Obamas will be invited to the royal wedding this spring.

“Conversations are ongoing about and ministers will eventually have to decide,” The Sun reported. “If the PM lays down the law, Harry will just have to suck it up.”

Prince Harry and Markle are expected to wed May 19. The couple has opted to celebrate their nuptials at Windsor Castle, where they spent time together before getting engaged. Once married, the couple plans to live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace.

Canadian bust ends with Christmas Eve child porn arrest in Florida

Nearly a year after authorities arrested a man on a parole violation in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, investigators arrested another man, accused of sharing child pornography with the parolee, as he disembarked from a Carnival cruise ship in Florida.

>> Read more trending news

Authorities launched an investigation on March 22, 2016, after a man was arrested on a probation violation in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, according to a federal arrest report.

The man, who was not identified, had been sharing child pornography with dozens of people using an app on his iPhone, investigators said. In June 2016, Canadian authorities ordered the app’s makers to release information on 78 users who had shared child pornography with the man.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents on Saturday identified Michael Paige Palmer, 40, as one of the people to share child pornography with the man, according to investigators. He was on a Carnival cruise ship, and authorities told customs officials in Port Canaveral, Florida, to inspect his digital devices after he disembarked.

During the inspection, authorities said they found Palmer, a resident of Virginia, with a USB drive that had child pornography on it. He had downloaded the files from the app three or four days before his cruise, the arrest report said.

Palmer told investigators that he started downloading child pornography in 2012, according to the report.

“He was intrigued and addicted for the first few months, but later became disgusted with the images and stopped downloading and viewing the images,” the report said, noting that Palmer admitted he never deleted the files.

Palmer told investigators that several years later, he started to download the child porn again, “but (he) claimed that he later began reporting the (app) chat groups where the child pornography was being distributed,” the arrest report said.

Palmer did not report the child pornography to law enforcement, but instead alerted administrators of the mobile application, investigators said.

Palmer was charged with a federal count of possession of child pornography.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Chicken nuggets, Obama tweets were Twitter favorites in 2017

Tweets were fast and furious during 2017, with plenty of politics, calls for hurricane relief and even a plea for chicken nuggets. Former President Barack Obama had three of the top 10 retweeted tweets this year, CNN reported. Here are the top 10 retweets in the world, according to CNN:

>> Read more trending news

No. 1: He wants those nuggets

On April 5, Nevada high school student Carter Wilkerson tweeted the Wendy's account and asked how many retweets were needed to get a year’s supply of free chicken nuggets. The fast-food chain said 18 million. Wilkerson got more than 3.6 million retweets, so Wendy’s granted his request.

No. 2: Obama reacts to Charlottesville

On Aug. 12, Obama quoted Nelson Mandela in a tweet after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent and resulted in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer. The tweet was retweeted more than 1.7 million times and was the most-liked tweet in Twitter history, CNN reported.

No. 3: Penn State gives relief to hurricane victims

On Aug. 30, the Interfraternity Council at Pennsylvania State University pledged 15 cents for every retweet for relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The council capped its donations at $10,000, according to the Daily Collegian. The tweet has received more than 1.1 million retweets.

No. 4: Ariana Grande reacts to Manchester attack

Singer/actress Ariana Grande tweeted that she was “broken” the night that 22 were killed in an attack at her concert in Manchester, England. Her tweet was retweeted 1.1 million times.

No. 5: Obama says ‘thank you’

On Jan. 10, Obama’s thanks to his supporters as his term drew to a close received more than 869,000 retweets.

No. 6: Linkin Park pays tribute to Chester Bennington

Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, committed suicide in July. On July 20, the band posted a photograph of Bennington performing in concert. The post was retweeted more than 787,000 times.

No. 7: ‘U bum’: LeBron James takes shot at Trump

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James answered a Donald Trump tweet in September after the president rescinded Steph Curry's invitation to the White House. Curry had already said he wasn’t going to the ceremony at the White House, which was to honor the Golden State Warriors’ NBA title. James’ tweet was retweeted more than 660,000 times.

No. 8: Obama’s farewell

Obama’s tweet, three hours before he left office on Jan. 20, said that serving as president was “the honor of my my life.” It was retweeted more than 630,000 times.

No. 9: Sam Martin pledges dog food for Houston canines

Detroit Lions punter Sam Martin asked for retweets to help with hurricane relief in Houston. He pledged six pounds of dog food for every retweet and also donated $10,000 toward relief for Hurricane Harvey victims. His post was retweeted more than 623,000 times.

No. 10: Suicide hotline

The telephone number for the suicide hotline became a hit song by Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid. Twitter user @sethjoseph had his post retweeted more than 604,000 times.

And what about Trump? The President, a prolific tweeter, had more than 363,000 retweets when he posted a 28-second video of him wrestling a man with a CNN logo superimposed on his head.

Royal family goes to church for first Christmas with Meghan Markle

The British royal family continued its tradition of going to church in style on Christmas, and they were joined Monday by the family’s newest addition — Meghan Markle.

>> Read more trending news

The queen appeared in pink, wearing one of her iconic hats, and Markle wore a brown coat and a dark brown hat. The Daily Mail’s royal correspondent, Rebecca English, noted on Twitter that it’s one of the first times Markle has been out in a hat, and it will probably be the first time of many.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Church of St Mary Magdalene to await Prince William, his wife the former Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and his fiance, Markle.

>> Related: Queen Elizabeth II honors victims of terror in annual Christmas address 

Markle wore a Sentaler coat while the ever-fashionable Middleton wore Miu Miu, according to Glamour.

The occasion proved especially joyful for one couple, BBC News reported. Michael Metz proposed to his girlfriend, Ashley Millican, while waiting in line to see the royal family, according to the news network.

Markle and Prince Harry are scheduled to be married May 19.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Lorde cancels concert in Israel amid criticism

New Zealand crooner Lorde has canceled a planned show in Tel Aviv amid pressure from activists who oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Lorde planned to perform in Tel Aviv on June 5, 2018, according to news.com.au.

She said in a statement obtained Sunday by The Jerusalem Post that she got “an overwhelming number of messages (and) letters and … had a lot of discussions with people holding many views” before making her decision to cancel the performance.

“I think the right decision at this time is to cancel the show,” the statement said. “I'm not too proud to admit I didn't make the right call on this one. Tel Aviv, it's been a dream of mine to visit this beautiful part of the world for many years, and I'm truly sorry to reverse my commitment to come play for you. I hope one day we can all dance.”

The announcement came after a pair of New Zealanders wrote an open letter to Lorde asking her to reconsider her decision to perform in Tel Aviv.

The letter, published last week on TheSpinOff.co.nz, was penned by Justine Sachs, who is Jewish, and Nadia Abu-Shanab, who is Palestinian.

“Today, millions of people stand opposed to the Israeli government’s policies of oppression, ethnic cleansing, human rights violations, occupation and apartheid,” the letter said. “As part of this struggle, we believe that an economic, intellectual and artistic boycott is an effective way of speaking out against these crimes. This worked very effectively against apartheid in South Africa, and we hope it can work again.”

The pair urged Lorde to “act in the spirit of progressive New Zealanders who came before you and continue their legacy,” by canceling her show.

Lorde acknowledged the letter last week in a tweet and said she was "considering all options."

Some fans praised Lorde’s decision, while others decried it. Miri Regev, Israel's culture minister, urged Lorde to rethink the cancellation.

“Lorde, I’m hoping you can be a ‘pure heroine’ like the title of your first album,” Miri Regev said in a statement obtained by The Guardian. “To be a heroine of pure culture, free from any foreign – and ridiculous – political considerations.”

Lorde was not the first performer pressured to cancel a planned appearance in Israel by pro-Palestinian activists. According to the country’s Ynetnews, Elvis Costello and Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore have canceled shows in Israel amid criticism. Rock band Radiohead was also urged to cancel a show last summer in Tel Aviv but went through with the performance after corresponding with critics, Ynetnews reported.

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