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Jimmy Carter on North Korea: 'It's good we're going to be talking to them'

Former President Jimmy Carter said Sunday that “while I don’t agree with everything that President Trump has done, I think it’s good that he’s decided to go” meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“If we could avoid a nuclear confrontation with North Korea, that would be a wonderful achievement,” Carter, 93, told his Sunday school class at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. “It’s good we’re going to be talking to them.”

>> Read more trending news 

Thursday’s announcement that Trump would accept Kim’s invitation to meet has been controversial in some quarters. It was especially timely where Carter was concerned.

“I had made arrangements last week with the White House to have some experts come down and give me an up-to-date briefing on what’s going on concerning North Korea,” he said. “They came down the day that Kim Jong Un invited Trump to come over. So we had a lot to talk about.”

>> On MyAJC.com: Jimmy Carter to start cutting back on teaching Sunday school

Carter, who recently announced that he would start cutting back on his Sunday school duties, broke some happy news to the class about his wife’s health. Rosalynn Carter, 90, had surgery three weeks ago at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta to remove “troubling scar tissue” from a portion of her small intestine. 

>> On MyAJC.com: ‘I was deathly afraid.’ Jimmy Carter shares details of wife Rosalynn’s surgery

“She’s been very, very ill,” Carter said about his wife of 71 years, who normally attends Sunday school and the worship service at Maranatha, then stays afterwards to pose for photos with him and hundreds of visitors. Now, though, he said with a smile, “She’s doing fine. As a matter of fact, she just phoned me awhile ago to finally say she’s on her way home. She’ll be there when we get (back from church).”

>> On AJC.com: A 70th wedding anniversary interview with the Carters

Still, Carter suggested, the situation had been a wake-up call of sorts for the famously busy former first couple.

“We’ve said this before and nobody believed us,” Carter said to knowing chuckles from some in the packed church. “We’ll withdraw from some of the things we’ve been doing.”

State Department warns of 'security threat' in Mexico's popular Playa del Carmen

The State Department on Wednesday issued a security alert for a popular Mexican resort city, warning Americans to exercise caution in Playa del Carmen and to buy travel insurance two weeks after an explosion on a tourist ferry injured more than two dozen people.

>> Read more trending news

Officials told The Associated Press on Thursday that the alert was not related to the explosion, which left 19 Mexicans and at least five Americans injured. Officials did not specify what kind of threat prompted the alert.

"Clearly, there is a threat," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday at a news briefing, according to CNN. "We're making Americans aware of that threat so that Americans can protect their own safety and the safety of their families."

In the alert issued Wednesday, officials said U.S. government employees were “prohibited from traveling to Playa del Carmen until further notice.” The U.S. consular agency in the city “will be closed until further notice.”

Playa Del Carmen is popular among tourists. Its beaches and resorts are often a draw for Americans visiting Mexico for spring break, The Washington Post reported.

Canadian officials issued their own travel advisory Thursday, warning Canadians to avoid tourist ferries traveling in the region in the wake of last month’s explosion and the discovery last week of an explosive device on another ferry out of Playa del Carmen.

Officials in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, which includes Playa del Carmen, said in a statement obtained by the AP that despite the warnings, the city is safe.

“We do not know why the U.S. government decided to emit this alert,” officials with the state government said, according to the AP. “All tourism and economic activity in Playa del Carmen continues in a normal manner.”

Meghan Markle baptized into Church of England

Meghan Markle was baptized and confirmed into the Church of England during a private ceremony Tuesday, The Daily Mail reported.

>> Read more trending news

The 45-minute service was conducted at the Chapel Royal by Justin Welby. the Archbishop of Canterbury, and also was attended by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Daily Mail reported.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince William did not attend, the newspaper reported.

As part of the ceremony, holy water from the River Jordan was poured on Markle's head, the Daily Mail reported.

After her baptism, Markle was confirmed, which means she will be able to receive Holy Communion when she marries Prince Harry on May 19, the Daily Mail reported.

Markle, 36, attended a Roman Catholic high school but was brought up Protestant, CNN reported. She did not need to convert in order to marry the prince, but she announced when she became engaged that she would.

St. Patrick's Day 2018: How did it get started; why corned beef and cabbage; who is Patrick?

Start looking for shamrocks, get that “Kiss Me I’m Irish” T-shirt out of the drawer, and fire up the Crock Pot for corned beef and cabbage because March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day.

>> Read more trending news 

There will be celebrations honoring Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, by more people around the world than could fit on the island to which he's credited with bringing Christianity.

Here's a quick look at St. Patrick's Day and everything green that goes with it.

What is St. Patrick's Day?

The first celebration of Patrick's life was an annual religious holiday held on March 17, the day it is believed that he died. The celebrations were feast days in honor of Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century.

Who was St. Patrick?

Patrick was believed to have born in Roman Britain (Scotland), the son of a wealthy family. His name was Maewyn Succat. He was kidnapped when he was 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped after, he said, God told him to run from his captors to the shore, where a boat would be waiting for him to take him back to Scotland. He fled, the boat was there and he headed home, but he didn't stay.

He returned to Ireland as a priest using the name Patrick. He worked there for the rest of his life to convert the Irish, who, at the time, practiced Celtic polytheism (Celtic paganism).

While he was never officially canonized, his followers regarded him as a "saint in heaven," thus he received a feast day from the Roman Catholic Church and the title of "saint."

How is it celebrated?

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in various parts of the world. Until the 1970s, St. Patrick's Day was a religious celebration in Ireland, and the pubs in the country were closed.

Laws were passed then to open up the pubs for celebrations on March 17, and soon after, the country's leaders decided to market the holiday, highlighting Irish culture for tourism purposes.

The observance of St. Patrick's Day in Dublin, alone, has grown to a massive multiday celebration where around 1 million people take part.

In the United States, millions celebrate the holiday, whether they are of Irish descent or not. Two of the largest celebrations are in New York -- which hosts a five-hour parade -- and Chicago -- where city officials dye the river green.

Many people wear something green on that day, signifying a link to the color most associated with Ireland. Others lift a pint (or two) of beer at a pub or try corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew.

About that tradition of celebrating the day by eating corned beef and cabbage -- there's nothing more Irish than that, right?

About that tradition, well, we need to talk. Truth be told, corned beef and cabbage is about as Irish as a McDonald's Shamrock Shake.

Back in the day, people in Ireland would have celebrated the feast day with a meal of Irish stew and soda bread, or maybe a meal of pork and potatoes, which was inexpensive.

What has become a tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage to celebrate St. Patrick's Day likely grew out of the fact that those foods were less expensive for immigrants who came to America. They substituted beef for pork and cabbage for potatoes.

OK, at least the snake story is true, right?

Sorry, but that's a bit of blarney, too. There were no snakes in Ireland, so Patrick didn't really have anything to drive out of the country, with the exception of the druids.

Some think the story that Patrick drove the snakes into the sea was really an allegory for him driving the pagan practices out of the country to make room for Christianity. Others say it just makes for a good bit of gab.

 

Say what?

Let's say you want to impress your friends and throw out a few Gaelic phrases on Friday.

You will probably want to start with "Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!" That means "Happy St. Patrick's Day to you!"

It's pronounced: lah leh PAH-drig SUN-uh gwitch.

Native Irish speakers would shorten it to "Lá 'le Pádraig," a more casual way of offering good wishes on St. Patrick's Day. It's pronounced: lah leh PAH-drig.

If you want to impress your friends in a pub, you might want to throw out, "Pionta Guinness, le do thoil," or "A pint of Guinness, please." It's pronounced: Pyunta Guinness leh duh hull.

St. Patrick's Day by the numbers

  • There are 450 churches in the United States named after St. Patrick. Perhaps the most famous is in New York City.

  • It takes 40 pounds of dye to turn the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day.

  • According to the U.S. Census, 650,000 babies are named Patrick in a year.

  • A little more than 20 percent of the residents of Massachusetts say they are Irish; 20.6 of those in New Hampshire claim Irish ancestry.

  • According to Wallet Hub.com, the value of a leprechaun's pot of gold is $1.22 million. That's 1,000 gold coins weighing 1 ounce each.

  • A crystal bowl of shamrocks is given by the president of Ireland to the president of the United States each St. Patrick's Day.

  • There are 16 places in the United States named Dublin.

  • 34.7 million U.S. residents claim to be of Irish descent.

  • 83 percent of those surveyed say they intend to wear green on St. Patrick's Day.

Sources: History.com; Wiki How; Quora; National Geographic; Time and date.com

Google celebrates International Women's Day with interactive doodle

Have you peeped at Google? It’s all about International Women’s Day. 

>> Read more trending news 

The search engine, which sometimes uses its homepage to honor important figures and events, is observing the occasion one day early with some interactive animation. 

Celebrated around the world every March 8, the holiday recognizes women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements. It also serves as a call to action to accelerate gender parity.

When you visit Google, you can press the play button to dig through the personal narratives of a dozen women artists from around the global. The subjects, who were specially selected by the platform, shared their diverse experiences with visual drawings.

“Each story represents a moment, person, or event that has impacted their lives as women,” the site wrote in a statement. “While each artist tells a unique story, the themes are universal, reminding us of how much we often have in common.”

The works have been translated across more than 80 languages to inspire as many people as possible. And Google is encouraging others to post about their unique journeys using the hashtag #HerStoryOurStory on social media. 

Check out the doodle archive to see the animation, and take a look at the full list of participants below.

1. Anna Haifisch – “Nov 1989”

2. Chihiro Takeuchi – “Ages and Stages”

3. Estelí Meza – “My Aunt Blossoms”

4. Francesca Sanna – “The Box”

5. Isuri – “Aarthi the Amazing”

6. Karabo Poppy Moletsane – “Ntsoaki’s Victory”

7. Kaveri Gopalakrishnan – “Up on the Roof”

8. Laerte – “Love”

9. Philippa Rice – “Trust”

10. Saffa Khan – “Homeland”

11. Tillie Walden – “Minutes”

12. Tunalaya Dunn – “Inwards”

Coca-Cola launching alcoholic drink in Japan

Coca-Cola is the world’s most famous soft drink. Now, the venerable brand is going to introduce an alcoholic drink in Japan later this year, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Coca-Cola wants to cash in on Japan’s growing demand for “chu-hi” -- a canned, flavored drink made with sparkling water and shochu, a Japanese spirit that is distilled from grains, CNN reported.

Chu-hi contains between 3 percent and 8 percent alcohol by volume, the BBC reported.

Coca-Cola spokesman Yohko Okabe said the new drink is a “highly Japan-specific approach given the complexity and richness” of the company’s range of products in Japan.

No other details were released about the plans for the alcoholic drink, but in a recent blog post, Jorge Garduño, president of Coca-Cola Japan said the drink would be “unique” in Coke's history.

"We haven't experimented in the low alcohol category before," Garduño said in the post.

Coca-Cola fans outside Japan should not expect a worldwide release of a stiffer drink.

"I don't think people around the world should expect to see this kind of thing from Coca-Cola," Garduño said.

Jared Kushner to visit Mexico, meet country's president

Jared Kushner will visit Mexico on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet with President Enrique Pena Nieto, according to multiple sources.

>> Read more trending news

Kushner, a senior adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, will discuss security, immigration and trade issues, a senior U.S. administration official confirmed to CNBC. Kushner was stripped of his top security clearance recently, according to multiple sources.

Pena Nieto was originally scheduled to meet Trump at the White House, but the plans were scrapped after the two leaders had a contentious telephone call over a border wall, CBS News reported.

Trump has insisted that Mexico must pay for the border wall, a campaign promise that has been rejected repeatedly by Mexican officials.

Kushner also is expected to meet with Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, CNBC reported.

Relations between the two countries were strained further last weekend when Trump announced tariffs for steel and aluminum, CNBC reported. Trump described the announcement as an incentive for a favorable renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), CNBC reported.

Wreckage of World War II carrier USS Lexington found in Coral Sea

Wreckage from the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, sunk by the Japanese during the Battle of the Coral Sea in World War II, has been discovered off the Australian coast.

>> Watch the news report here

>> Read more trending news 

A team of explorers led by billionaire Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, made the announcement Monday.

>> On WHIO.com: Listen as crew of R/V Petrel discovers the wreckage

According to CNN, the wreckage was found in the Coral Sea by the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel.

>> Nor’easter uncovers Revolutionary War-era shipwreck in Maine

The aircraft carrier, dubbed the “Lady Lex,” was lost in May 1942, along with 216 crew members and 35 aircraft, during what historians consider the first carrier battle in history. More than 2,000 crew members were rescued.

UK supermarkets ban sales of energy drinks to people under 16 years old

Major supermarket chains in the United Kingdom will only sell energy drinks to people who are 16 or older starting Monday due to concerns about the drinks’ caffeine and sugar contents, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Grocers including Asda, Aldi, Tesco and Sainsbury’s will no longer sell drinks containing more than 150 mg of caffeine per liter to people under 16 years old, The Guardian reported

Officials with pharmacy chain Boots also announced that they would ban the sale of energy drinks to those under 16. The company is the only non-grocer to participate in the ban, according to The Guardian.

>> Related: Energy drinks pose serious and scary health risks, scientific review shows

“Helping our customers to live healthier lives has always been our core purpose,” a spokesperson for Boots said Friday in a news release. “We have listened to the growing public concern about young people consuming these high sugar and highly-caffeinated drinks.”

BBC News reported that Boots, Asda and other grocers started to implement the new rule Monday while other chains, including Aldi and Lidl, implemented it last week. Tesco officials announced that the company would no longer sell energy drinks to people under 16 years old starting March 26.

Industry labeling guidelines in the UK require companies that make soft drinks with more than 150 mg of caffeine per liter put a warning label about caffeine on their drinks, according to The Guardian. The label reads, “High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breastfeeding women or persons sensitive to caffeine.”

>> Related: Can caffeine kill you? Yes it can

Still, children and teenagers drink more energy drinks than adults, The Guardian reported.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers campaigned for restrictions on the sale of energy drinks to children, BBC News reported.

"The very high levels of caffeine and sugar these drinks contain impact adversely on pupil behavior in schools and teachers are left to deal with the fallout,” Chris Keates, NASUWT’s general secretary, told BBC News. "There is a chronic lack of awareness about the effects and long-term health impacts of these drinks which many pupils and parents think are just another soft drink."

>> Related: Caffeine overdose kills teen after too much soda, coffee, energy drink

Medical experts, teachers and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver were among those who called for a ban of high-caffeine drinks.

"Our retailers are doing the right thing for the health of our children and now it’s time for government to step up, close the loop and implement a ban,” Oliver said. “We need a level playing field so we can protect all our kids from buying these drinks in all independent retailers.”

Putin shows Florida getting nuked in mock video to boast new weapons

Russian President Vladimir Putin showed a concept video Thursday depicting nuclear warheads being released over Florida while showing off a new rocket during his annual state-of-the-nation speech, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The crowd gathered for Putin’s speech to the Federal Assembly applauded Thursday as the video played, showing range of the newly unveiled Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile. Putin boasted that the ICBM is fast, with a range that’s “practically unlimited,” and the ability to overcome U.S. missile defense systems,  Russian-owned news network RT reported.

A brief concept video showed the missile being launched before dropping nuclear warheads over Florida.

Technology site Gizmodo was the first to notice Putin’s use of Florida in the video.

Putin told the Federal Assembly that Russia started working to counter America’s anti-missile capabilities as early as 2004, RT reported. He noted that Russia had to develop the new ICBM, along with a handful of other new weapons unveiled Thursday, as the U.S. has developed a missile defense system that threatened to undermine the Russian nuclear deterrent and ignored Moscow's concerns about it.

"No one has listened to us," he said. "You listen to us now."

It’s not the first time America has been a target in a mock video from a foreign nation. Last April, North Korea state media posted a video to YouTube in which a digital version of San Francisco appeared to be hit by nuclear weapons, Gizmodo reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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