At Pearl Harbor, US and Japan seek absolution from the war
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — In a historic pilgrimage, the leaders of Japan and the United States took to the hallowed waters of Pearl Harbor on Tuesday to prove that even the bitterest enemies can become allies. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not apologize, but conceded Japan “must never repeat the horrors of war again.”
Seventy-five years after Japan’s surprise attack sent America marching into World War II, Abe and President Barack Obama peered down at the rusting wreckage of the USS Arizona, clearly visible in the tranquil, teal water. More than 1,000 U.S. war dead remain entombed in the submerged ship, and in a show of respect, Obama and Abe dropped purple petals into the water and stood in silence.
“As the prime minister of Japan, I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place,” Abe said later at nearby Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
That was the closest Abe would get to an apology for the attack. And it was enough for Obama, who also declined to apologize seven months ago when he became America’s first sitting president to visit Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb in a bid to end the war.
It was enough, too, for Alfred Rodrigues, a U.S. Navy veteran who survived the attack. The 96-year-old said he had no hard feelings and added, “War is war.”
No one could make us laugh through pain like Carrie Fisher
NEW YORK (AP) — No one could make us laugh through the pain like Carrie Fisher.
The daughter of Hollywood stars Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, and a survivor of early fame, drug addiction and bipolar disorder, she wrote with unsentimental wit and understanding about her private struggles and about an industry she was raised in but stood apart from.
Fisher, known to the world as Princess Leia of “Star Wars,” died Tuesday at 60, four days after falling ill aboard an airline flight. Media reports said the actress had suffered a heart attack.
“I do believe you’re only as sick as your secrets. If that’s true, I’m just really healthy,” she said in a confessional 2009 interview with The Associated Press.
The public fell in love with her twice: as Princess Leia and as the wry truth-teller of such books as “Postcards From the Edge,” ”Wishful Drinking” and “The Princess Diarist,” in which she revealed having an intense affair with “Star Wars” co-star Harrison Ford.
Trump signals shift from Obama’s focus on multilateralism
For eight years, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy doctrine has been rooted in a belief that while the United States can take action around the word on its own, it rarely should.
“Multilateralism regulates hubris,” Obama declared.
His successor, President-elect Donald Trump, has derided some of the same international partnerships Obama and his recent predecessors have promoted, raising the prospect that the Republican’s “America First” agenda might well mean an America more willing to act alone.
“The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time,” Trump tweeted days after the UN Security Council approved a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Both Israel and Trump called on the U.S. to use its veto power to block the measure, but the Obama administration instead abstained.
Trump’s criticism of the United Nations is shared by some in his party, including a handful of GOP lawmakers who have called for Congress to withhold funding for the body following the settlements vote.
Stray bag of toys prompts scare at Trump Tower
NEW YORK (AP) — A stray backpack prompted the partial evacuation of Trump Tower on Tuesday, though bomb squad technicians quickly determined the unattended bag contained children’s toys and was harmless.
Video posted online showed people running through the Manhattan skyscraper’s public lobby as uniformed police officers waved them toward the exits.
Stephen Davis, the New York Police Department’s top spokesman, said the bomb squad gave the “all clear” around 5 p.m. after examining the backpack left near the entrance to Niketown, a store in the building.
President-elect Donald Trump lives in the tower and has his offices there, though he was at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida when the bag was discovered.
His newly appointed press secretary, Sean Spicer, Tweeted that officials were “back to work” following the “false alarm.”
AP PHOTOS: A look at Carrie Fisher through the years
Carrie Fisher, best remembered as the tough, feisty and powerful Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars,” has died at 60. Fisher made the role iconic, and lines like “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope,” and her futuristic braided bun hairstyle became part of film lore. She recently reprised the role in a sequel, Episode VII, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015, and her digitally rendered image appears in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
Fisher also became known for her battles with drug addiction and mental illness, topics she mined as a celebrated author. A 1990 film directed by Mike Nichols was based on her screenplay and semi-autobiographical novel. In her last autobiography, this year’s “The Princess Diarist,” she revealed that she and “Star Wars” co-star Harrison Ford had an affair on the set.
She was born to one of the biggest mid-century celebrity couples, entertainers Debbie Reynolds and the late Eddie Fisher.
“I’m a product of Hollywood inbreeding,” she once said. “When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result.”
Trump names Bush-era veteran and policy newcomer to posts
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday appointed an experienced hand from the George W. Bush era to his national security circle and a figure from the Trump Organization to make international deals.
Thomas Bossert will become an assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. A statement from Trump’s transition team said Bossert will advise the president on issues related to homeland security, counterterrorism and cybersecurity, and coordinate the Cabinet’s process for making and executing policy in those areas.
The position notably “is being elevated and restored to its independent status alongside the national security adviser,” the statement said. Policymakers have long debated whether such national security jobs should operate independently from the White House.
Bossert will work closely with Trump’s pick for national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Bossert is currently president of the risk management consulting firm CDS Consulting. He previously served as deputy assistant to the president for homeland security under Bush.
The president-elect also appointed one of his main advisers on U.S.-Israel relations as special representative for international negotiations. Jason Greenblatt has worked for the Trump Organization for over two decades and currently serves as its executive vice president and chief legal officer.
Investigators study flight recorder from Black Sea jet crash
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Investigators recovered the flight-data recorder from a crashed Russian military plane Tuesday and began reviewing its contents to learn why the jet went down moments after takeoff, killing all 92 people aboard, including members of a famous choir.
The Tu-154 crashed into the Black Sea early Sunday two minutes after departing in good weather from the city of Sochi. The plane was carrying members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, widely known as the Red Army Choir, to a New Year’s concert at a Russian military base in Syria.
Meanwhile, rescue workers raced to wrap up their efforts to recover bodies and wreckage ahead of predicted bad weather. The work has involved 3,500 people, including about 200 navy divers flown to the site from all over Russia. Aided by drones and submersibles, teams have recovered 12 bodies and numerous body fragments about a mile away from the shore.
The main flight recorder was quickly flown to Moscow, where experts started analyzing it, Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said. Preliminary findings could be available as early as Wednesday, according to some aviation experts.
Investigators were looking into whether the crash might have been caused by bad fuel, pilot error, equipment failure or objects stuck in the engines. The top Russian investigative agency, known as the Investigative Committee, said it had taken samples from a fuel tank used to fill the plane, which flew from Moscow’s Chkalovsky military airport and stopped in Sochi for refueling.
Israel: ‘Ironclad information’ White House behind UN rebuke
JERUSALEM (AP) — Doubling down on its public break with the Obama administration, a furious Israeli government on Tuesday said it had received “ironclad” information from Arab sources that Washington actively helped craft last week’s U.N. resolution declaring Israeli settlements in occupied territories illegal.
The allegation, which was denied by the State Department, further poisoned a toxic atmosphere between Israel and the outgoing administration in the wake of Friday’s vote, raising questions about whether the White House might take further action against settlements in President Barack Obama’s final weeks in office.
With the U.S. expected to participate in an international peace conference in France next month and Secretary of State John Kerry planning a final policy speech Wednesday, the Palestinians hope to capitalize on the momentum. Israel’s nationalist government is banking on the incoming Trump administration to undo the damage with redoubled support.
Although the U.S. has long opposed the settlements, it has generally used its Security Council veto to protect its ally from censure. On Friday, it abstained from a resolution calling settlements a “flagrant violation” of international law, allowing it to pass by a 14-0 margin.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had a cool relationship with Obama, called the resolution “shameful” and accused the U.S. of playing an active role in its passage.
George Michael mourned by boyfriend, ex-boyfriend in London
LONDON (AP) — As mourners kept on flocking Tuesday to George Michael’s home in north London, the singer’s former longtime partner and his current boyfriend both spoke of their sadness at his death.
The boyfriend, hairstylist Fadi Fawaz, told the Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday he found the 53-year-old singer dead in bed when he arrived at Michael’s house on Christmas Day so they could attend a holiday lunch together.
“Everything had been very complicated recently, but George was looking forward to Christmas, and so was I,” Fawaz said. “Now everything is ruined. I want people to remember him the way he was. He was a beautiful person.”
Fawaz tweeted “I will never stop missing you” to Michael.
Michael’s former partner Kenny Goss, who was with the singer for many years, said in a statement that he was “heartbroken” by the death of his longtime love.
Judge indicts former Argentine president in corruption case
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez was indicted Tuesday in a corruption case involving public works.
Federal Judge Julian Ercolini approved charges of illicit association and fraudulent administration against Fernandez, and two former aides: ex-Planning Minister Julio de Vido and former Public Works Secretary Jose Lopez.
Also named was businessman Lazaro Baez, whose Austral Construcciones company allegedly benefited from irregular contracts.
The judge’s order froze the equivalent of up to $633 million of each defendant’s assets, though it was not clear they have that much.
The ruling published by official Center of Judicial Information said the defendants are accused of associating to illegally take public fund meant for public works between May 2003 and December 2015, largely in the southern province of Santa Cruz.
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