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    The Northern Ireland city of Londonderry is filling with mourners for the funeral of former IRA commander and Sinn Fein deputy leader Martin McGuinness, who helped lead his militant movement to compromise with British Protestants. Thursday's ceremony is the biggest Irish republican funeral since the 1981 death of Irish Republican Army hunger strike leader Bobby Sands. Among senior leaders in attendance in Derry — as Irish nationalists call the city — are former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Republic of Ireland's current leaders and former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. Blair and Ahern oversaw U.S.-mediated Belfast negotiations that clinched Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord. McGuinness died Tuesday at age 66.
  • Pope Francis' top sex abuse adviser has insisted the pope is 'thoroughly committed' to ridding the church of abuse, but says his advisory commission must regroup following the clamorous resignation of Irish survivor Marie Collins. Cardinal Sean O'Malley told a seminar Thursday that the commission has always maintained a 'victims first' priority and that the issue of continued survivor involvement would be discussed at the group's plenary meeting starting Friday. Collins resigned from the commission March 1 citing the 'unacceptable' lack of cooperation from some Vatican offices in implementing the experts' proposals. Her departure dealt a blow to the commission's credibility and again raised questions about the commitment of the pope and the Vatican to fighting abuse and accepting outside expertise. Several Vatican cardinals, including Francis' deputy, attended the conference.
  • Uganda is at a 'breaking point' as almost 3,000 South Sudanese refugees pour into the country every day, the United Nations refugee chief said Thursday. The U.N. has called it the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis. A joint statement by Filippo Grandi and Uganda's government says more than 570,000 refugees have arrived from South Sudan since July — and the number could pass one million by the middle of this year. Uganda is hosting a total of 800,000 South Sudanese refugees who have arrived since the neighboring country's civil war began in late 2013. More than 1.6 million have fled South Sudan overall. The unprecedented surge in refugee arrivals has placed 'enormous strain' on public services and infrastructure, Uganda's Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said. Food and clean water are running short. 'We continue to welcome our neighbors in their time of need but we urgently need the international community to assist as the situation is becoming increasingly critical,' Rugunda said. The joint statement says more than $250 million is needed this year to support South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. 'The lack of international attention to the suffering of the South Sudanese people is failing some of the most vulnerable people in the world when they most desperately need our help,' Grandi said. Uganda's refugee response has been recognized by the international community as one of the most progressive in Africa and is being used as a global model. Arriving refugees receive small plots of land in host communities to help support themselves.
  • Here's what's known about the victims of an attack in London where a man plowed a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing two people and injuring scores of others. He then stabbed a policeman to death on the grounds of Britain's Parliament before other officers fatally shot him. Police have not yet released the attacker's identity. ___ Police Officer Keith Palmer, 48, was on duty protecting Parliament Wednesday when he was stabbed to death. He had been a member of the parliamentary and diplomatic protection forces for 15 years, and a soldier in the Royal Artillery before that. Honoring Palmer, Prime Minister Theresa May said he was 'a husband, a father ... he was every inch a hero. 'His actions will never be forgotten.' Praise for Palmer's bravery also poured in from politicians and colleagues, and Britain held a minute's silence Thursday at 9:33 a.m. in honor of his shoulder number, 933. ___ Aysha Frade, a British national whose mother is Spanish, was one of two people killed on the bridge. Rachel Borland, the principal of DLD College — a school in Westminster a stone's throw from Parliament — said she was a 'highly regarded and loved' member of staff who worked in the school's administration team. The Spanish Foreign Ministry says Spanish consular officials have made contact with Frade's relatives in Spain's northwestern region of Galicia, when her identity was confirmed. Frade was 43 and had two daughters, Spain's regional Voz de Galicia newspaper reported. ___ In addition to the dead, at least 30 people from 12 countries were injured. Of those who required hospital treatment, 12 were British, three were French, two were Romanian, four were South Korean, two were Greek, and one each were from Germany, Poland, Ireland, China, Italy and the U.S. Portuguese officials also said one person from Portugal was injured. Police earlier said that seven people were in critical condition.
  • Zimbabwe's 93-year-old leader might be slowing down, but his busy foreign travels have led the opposition to call him the 'non-resident president.' President Robert Mugabe has visited Singapore, Ghana, Swaziland and Mauritius in the past three weeks alone. At times he stops over in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, for just a night before leaving again. Some critics say Mugabe's trips are a drain on this southern African country's depleted finances. Others are amazed at how a visibly elderly man remains fit enough to clock thousands of miles in the air. The foreign travels of the world's oldest head of state often provide comic relief for Zimbabweans weary of the country's two-decade economic decline. Images of Mugabe struggling to walk on the red carpet, toppling from a raised lectern at the airport in 2015 and, most recently, wearing a loose-hanging, untucked white shirt in Mauritius — a rare break from his usual suit and tie — have trended on social media and become the butt of jokes and memes. Presidential spokesman George Charamba had to address the president's dress sense in Mauritius after it went viral on social media. 'The trouble is that we are so schooled in British dress etiquette that any departure from it amounts to scruffiness . That is how colonized we are,' he told state television on Tuesday when Mugabe returned home. Earlier this month, Charamba touched on a more fundamental issue: Mugabe's frequent foreign trips amid concerns over flagrant spending and rumors of illness. Mugabe's busy travel schedule 'puts paid to any claims that the president is very ill. In fact, he is so well that he beats even the youngest politician,' the spokesman said, Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party once again has endorsed him as its candidate for next year's election. He has been in power since 1980. Charamba spoke as Mugabe was leaving for Ghana's 60th independence anniversary celebrations. The president had landed in Zimbabwe just 24 hours earlier from Singapore, where he had spent a week for a 'scheduled medical review,' according to his spokesman. Mugabe later went to Swaziland for a summit of the Southern African Development Community. He then stopped in Zimbabwe for a few hours before hopping back on the plane for an economic meeting in Mauritius. 'Love how President Mugabe is encouraging people to #visitZimbabwe from time to time ... #leadingByExample,' tweeted local comedian Carl Joshua. Others find little amusement in the trips, citing Zimbabwe's mounting economic problems. Mugabe's government has failed to pay its workers' salaries on time since June. Cash shortages have resulted in long lines at banks. Factory closures and high unemployment rates have pushed the majority of Zimbabweans into informal trading such as street vending. Former finance minister and now opposition leader Tendai Biti has expressed both disgust at Mugabe's foreign travel spending and concern that the trips will worsen his health. 'Section 82 of the constitution protects the rights of the elderly. ZANU is abusing the rights of this elderly man,' Biti said in a humorous tweet Tuesday, along with a photo of Mugabe seemingly struggling to walk and surrounded by minders in Mauritius. Mugabe spent over $34 million on foreign travel in the first 10 months of 2016, outstripping expenditures by entire ministries such as that of transport and infrastructure development, according to the ministry of finance statistics. Transport minister Joram Gumbo has defended the government's decision to charter a jet from Bahrain for Mugabe's recent trips, saying the Air Zimbabwe plane that Mugabe uses is undergoing maintenance. 'Diplomacy does not come cheap,' the president's spokesman declared this month.
  • A former Russian lawmaker Denis Voronenkov was shot and killed in Kiev Thursday in what Ukrainian police described as a contract hit probably ordered by Russia. Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko blamed the Kremlin for Voronenkov's killing, saying Russia wanted to punish him for his testimony to Ukrainian investigators. Voronenkov, 45, a former member of the communist faction in the lower house of Russian parliament, had moved to Ukraine last fall and had been granted Ukrainian citizenship. He testified to Ukrainian investigators as part of their probe into the activities of the nation's former Russia-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted by massive protests in February 2014. Ukrainian police said Voronenkov was shot dead by an unidentified gunman near the entrance of an upscale hotel in the Ukrainian capital. The assailant also wounded Voronenkov's bodyguard, who fired back and wounded the gunman. Police said they were both hospitalized. Voronenkov left Russia with his wife, singer Maria Maksakova, who was also a lawmaker. He said he had to leave Russia because of persecution by Russian security agencies and had renounced Russian citizenship. After Voronenkov's move to Ukraine, Russian investigators have filed fraud charges against Voronenkov in connection with his business activities. Members of the Russian parliament were quick to reject Ukrainian allegations that Voronenkov could have been killed over any betrayal of Russia. Nikolai Kovalyov, the former Russian security chief who is a lawmaker, told Russian state television that the killing could have been rooted in a business dispute.
  • The United States is deepening its involvement in the war against the Islamic State group after an unprecedented American airlift of Arab and Kurdish fighters to the front lines in northern Syria, supported by the first use of U.S. attack helicopters and artillery in the country. The U.S. forces didn't engage in ground combat, but the offensive suggests the Trump administration is taking an increasingly aggressive approach as it plans an upcoming assault on the extremists' self-declared capital of Raqqa. In addition to using helicopters to ferry rebels into combat near the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates River, the U.S. also flew two Apache gunships and fired Marine 155mm artillery. 'This is pretty major,' Col. Joseph Scrocca, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition that is fighting the Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday. He said it was the first time U.S. forces have airlifted local fighters into combat in Syria. An undisclosed number of U.S. military advisers were inserted with the rebels. U.S. officials said the operation inserted Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters behind Islamic State group lines west of Raqqa, subjecting the American personnel to a degree of risk previously avoided in Syria. The mission was focused on recapturing the dam, the nearby town of Tabqa and a local airfield. By design, the operation is coinciding with a potentially climactic battle for Mosul, the main Islamic State group stronghold in Iraq. Together, the battles reflect a U.S. strategy of presenting IS with multiple challenges simultaneously. Scrocca said the assault in Syria is expected to last for weeks. He said the dam has been used as an IS headquarters, prison for high-profile hostages, training camp and location for planning overseas attacks since 2013. There has been concern IS might destroy the dam, flooding the region and creating new humanitarian challenges. The U.S. airlift, known in military parlance as an air assault, marked a new level of commitment to Syria's Kurds, whose partnership with the U.S. has prompted difficult discussions with Turkey. The U.S.-NATO ally sees the Kurdish fighters as a national security threat because of their links to militants inside Turkey. Scrocca said 75 to 80 percent of the Syrian fighters who were ferried to a landing zone south of the dam were Arabs. Kurds were among the remainder, he said, without offering numbers. Although the U.S. considers the Kurds the most effective partner in Syria, Washington has been careful not to inflame tensions with Turkey by providing them heavy weapons. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces confirmed the U.S. airlift and said their fighters seized four villages south of the Euphrates and cut the main artery between Raqqa and northwestern Syria. Tabqa lies 45 kilometers, or about 28 miles, west of Raqqa. In Washington, the U.S. hosted top officials from 68 nations for a meeting on accelerating the fight against IS in all its dimensions. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the coalition's first ministerial gathering since President Donald Trump took office that the U.S. was still refining its strategy, but was clear about American priorities. 'I recognize there are many pressing challenges in the Middle East, but defeating ISIS is the United States' number one goal in the region,' Tillerson said. While that assessment appeared shared, some participants were hoping to hear more about strategy changes. As a candidate, Trump spoke boldly about overhauling former President Barack Obama's cautious approach to fighting IS. As president, Trump has moved more cautiously. At a Senate hearing Wednesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told a Senate committee that the Trump strategy was still in 'skeleton' form. 'We're fleshing it out,' he said. 'It's an interagency-developed report, where it embraces economic, diplomatic, military, covert means. And we should have this done in the next couple of months, if that long. It may not even take us another month.' Mattis and other officials have strongly suggested the plan will preserve the central feature of the Obama administration's approach, namely the idea of advising and enabling local forces to fight rather than doing it for them. But as IS appears to lose strength and territory in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. is likely to bolster its support and perhaps send small numbers of additional troops. The U.S. now has about 1,000 troops in Syria. It has at least 7,000 in Iraq. ___ AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington and Associated Press writer Philip Issa in Beirut contributed to this report.
  • A senior official says Turkey is taking steps to keep Istanbul's main airport and its national carrier, Turkish Airlines, outside of the scope of new aviation restrictions imposed by the United States and Britain. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu on Thursday criticized the two countries for not consulting with Turkey before deciding to ban some electronics, including laptops, on board flights from some airports in the Middle East and north Africa, including Istanbul. Muftuoglu said taking measures 'against people that pose a threat instead of punishing normal passengers would be more effective.' The spokesman also claimed Istanbul's Ataturk Airport was one of the safest in the world. More than 40 people were killed last year in an attack on the airport that was blamed on the Islamic State group.
  • A leading international relief organization has appealed for more medical assistance to cope with the increasing numbers of civilians fleeing the intensified fighting between Iraqi government forces and the Islamic State group in western Mosul. Backed by U.S.-led international coalition, Iraqi forces launched an operation in February to drive IS from the western half of Iraq's second-largest city, after declaring eastern Mosul 'fully liberated' the previous month. The city is divided by the Tigris River into a western and eastern half and the entire operation to liberate Mosul of the extremists began last October. But unlike the eastern side, the flow of civilians from the western half has been bigger, given the densely populated areas and intensified house-by-house fighting in old alleys. In a statement issued late Wednesday, Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF, put the number of civilians fleeing western Mosul in 'tens of thousands.' MSF said many of those who escaped had bullet wounds or have suffered blasts and shells injuries. It depicted a grim picture of a lack in medical resources and the inability of ambulances to cope with the number of trauma victims and the long distances needed to transfer patients outside the city for further treatment. 'The need for emergency medical care has risen drastically,' said Dr. Isabelle Defourny, MSF director of operations. 'We have teams working around the clock treating men, women and children injured by bullets, blasts and shells. Other life-threatening emergencies also need a rapid medical response, such as for pregnant women in need of a C-section.' MSF medical teams in a field trauma hospital, set up when the new push in western Mosul began, have received more than 915 patients, according to the statement. Of those, 763 suffered war-related trauma, 190 of whom needed urgent lifesaving surgery. More than half of the wounded were women or children under the age of 15, it said. 'The situation is really intense,' said an MSF surgeon, Dr. Reginald Moreels. 'Every case we receive in the operating theater is severe, and almost every day we have to deal with mass casualties.' 'They are all putting their life at risk to flee a city under siege,' he added. Citing accounts from those who fled western Mosul, MSF said residents still trapped in their houses are enduing lack of infant formula, food and clean water, and warned that conditions 'are expected to worsen now that supply routes to the area have been cut off.' The aid group added that its teams have started to see children from western Mosul with severe malnutrition. Ahmed Sami, a spokesman for MSF-Iraq, said Thursday that the overall number of wounded from western Mosul could be much higher since the aid group only reported those it treated. Among those who safely reached the government-controlled area was Alaa Saad Abdul-Rahman, a 27-year old father of two who decided to flee with his extended family when the fighting intensified in their Risala neighborhood. The family used a hole in a back wall of a neighbor's house that IS militants had used to get to the back street. 'We fled through that hole' once IS fighters had retreated from the area, he told The Associated Press. 'We started walking as clashes were still underway.' While making their getaway, the family saw 'an old woman gunned down in front of us,' Abdul-Rahman said. 'Some started to scream and cry. ... I didn't know what to do, whether to run with my kids or stay with my mother and wife.' He described the long hours on that journey as 'very scary.' 'We were expecting death at any moment,' Abdul-Rahman said, speaking to the AP from a relative's house in the government-controlled neighborhood of Tell al-Ruman inside Mosul. When they reached safety, he said he burst into tears.
  • Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today. What to know now  1. Trump communications collected: Rep. Devin Nunes, (R-California), announced Wednesday that private conversations between President Donald Trump and his transition team may have been improperly distributed to spy agencies after they were inadvertently collected as part of an intelligence investigation of other targets. Nunes said he was troubled enough by information provided to him about the communications to go to the White House on Wednesday to inform the president in person. Nunes said the information collected had nothing to do with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The FBI said Monday it is investigating any possible connection between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the election. 2. Health care vote: A vote on a health care bill that is essential in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – is set to take place Thursday in the House. Trump and leaders in the House have lobbied members to vote for the bill, but as of late Wednesday, they had not locked down enough votes for it to pass. The president has warned those who don’t vote for the bill that they could face consequences come re-election. 3. London attack: A man stabbed a London police officer to death Wednesday after he ran down pedestrians on a bridge near Parliament in a terror attack on the British government. Four people, including the attacker, were killed, and at least 40 others injured. British lawmakers sheltered in place in Parliament for hours after the mid-afternoon attack. One woman was pulled alive from the waters of the Thames after she was either knocked off the Westminster Bridge or jumped to avoid the car. The suspect has not been identified. An early morning raid in the London area Thursday netted seven people suspected of being involved with the attack.  4. Wisconsin shootings: A Wisconsin police officer and three others were killed Wednesday in what law enforcement officials said was a domestic violence incident that led to three separate shootings. The shootings took place in a bank, at an attorney’s office and in an apartment complex near Everest, Wisconsin, which is about 90 miles west of Green Bay, Wisconsin.  5. Sweet 16: The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament continues Thursday as the next round of playoffs gets underway. Sixteen teams – the Sweet 16 – will play over the next two days as we make our way to the Elite Eight, then the Final Four. The championship game is set for April 3.  And one more Nominations for the Daytime Emmy Awards were announce Wednesday. The CBS daytime drama “Young and the Restless” snagged 25 nominations, with ABC’s “General Hospital” and CBS’ “Bold and the Beautiful” getting 23. NBC’s “Days of Our Lives” got 22 nods. In case you missed it

News

  • An off-duty Fulton County police officer shot a man after a chase in Atlanta Wednesday morning, the GBI says. The officer, whose name has not been released, was in his personal vehicle about 11 a.m., when he responded to a theft at a T-Mobile store on Mount Zion Parkway in Morrow, GBI spokesman Rich Bahan said.  The officer followed the suspect’s car into the city limits of Atlanta while reporting the incident to 911, Bahan said. At some point near Alyson Court, the two cars collided and when the driver got out of his car the off-duty officer shot him with his service weapon, Bahan said.   MORE:  Sheriff: Man out on bond for murder arrested after fighting victim’s family Ex-NFL player jailed after allegedly attacking woman in front of kids Police: Men brought ‘bag of bullets’ to shootout with alleged gang members Witness Jay Mitchell told Channel 2 Action News he thinks the man was shot in the stomach area after the police officer chased him and tried to pull him over. The suspect kept driving even after he was shot, Bahan said, and Atlanta police stopped him in the 1700 block of Lakewood Avenue. Whether the off-duty Fulton County officer stayed on the scene was not released, but his car was found parked at a store on Cleveland Avenue, Channel 2 reported. The man who was shot was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, Bahan said. The shooting is the fourth in less than a week involving a Georgia officer. A Georgia State Patrol trooper fatally shot a man after a chase early Saturday in Polk County. Jason Dennis Watkins, 36, was taken to Polk County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. RELATED: GSP trooper fatally shoots man after chase Willie Ivy III, 29, of Atlanta, died after a Fulton County police officer and an armed security guard shot him early Saturday in College Park, the GBI said.  RELATED: Man dead in police-involved shooting incident in College Park A Pickens County sheriff’s sergeant on Tuesday shot and critically injured Gary Lee Castle after he “moved aggressively” toward the official “with a large metal pipe in his hand,” the sheriff’s office said. RELATED: Sergeant shoots, critically injures man, Pickens County sheriff says In January and February, the GBI conducted 17 officer-involved shooting investigations, agency spokeswoman Nelly Miles said. RELATED: OVER THE LINE: Police shootings in Georgia The GBI investigated 78 police shootings in the state last year. In other news:
  • A middle school bus driver in the Valdosta area is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol while students were on her bus, according to the Lowndes County sheriff. Amanda Mullinax, 41, registered more than twice the legal limit, Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said. A school resource officer at Hahira Middle School smelled alcohol on Mullinax, and a student said she had been drinking, the Macon Telegraph reported. The night before, deputies were called to a domestic dispute at Mullinax’s home and found she had been drinking heavily, Paulk said. RELATED: School bus driver charged in accident that injured child She could face multiple counts of child endangerment since there were about 44 students on the bus, the newspaper reported. Read more of the story here. In other news:
  • U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch vowed to uphold the law if confirmed to the nation’s highest court, not tipping his hand as he sidestepped controversial political subjects, as Gorsuch directly pushed back against President Donald Trump’s criticism of federal judges. “When anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity, the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening; I find that demoralizing,” Gorsuch said in response to questions from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). “Anyone including the President of the United States?” Blumenthal pressed. “Anyone is anyone,” Gorsuch replied. In a day of testimony that stretched for almost twelve hours, Gorsuch parried most questions from Democrats, who tried in vain to get him to reveal his views on issues like abortion, and items that might come before the Supreme Court, like President Trump’s travel ban. Gorsuch repeatedly refused to take the bait. “I can’t get involved in politics, and I think it would be very imprudent of judges to start commenting on political disputes,” Gorsuch said. Under questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Gorsuch was asked what he had discussed with President Trump on the issue of abortion. “In that interview did he ever ask you to overrule Roe v Wade?” Graham asked. “No, Senator,” Gorsuch replied, adding that if the President had asked that question, “I would have walked out the door.” Gorsuch was pressed about the President in a number of different ways, telling Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that, “nobody is above the law in this country, and that includes the President of the United States.” With Republicans strongly in support of Gorsuch, there was already maneuvering behind the scenes over the expected floor fight in the Senate, as Democrats have made clear they think the GOP should be forced to get 60 votes for his nomination. That has prompted GOP leaders to criticize the threat of a filibuster. “If there aren’t 60 votes for a nominee like Neil Gorsuch it’s appropriate to ask the question is there any nominee any Republican president could make that Democrats would approve,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Gorsuch’s lengthy day of testimony ended on a light note, as Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) suggested to Gorsuch that he have a cocktail before bed. “Just don’t drink vodka,” Kennedy said to chuckles from the audience. Kennedy then drew even more laughter by adding in one more surprise. “You never been to Russia, have you?” “I’ve never been to Russia,” a smiling Gorsuch said.
  • Donald Trump Jr. is facing criticism for tweeting in the hours after Wednesday's London attack a months-old comment from London Mayor Sadiq Khan that terror attacks are part of living in a big city. Trump Jr. tweeted : 'You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan.' The tweet included a link to a Sept. 22 story from Britain's Independent newspaper that includes the quote from Khan, who was asking Londoners to be vigilant following a bombing in New York City. British Member of Parliament Wes Streeting was among numerous Britons who responded to the tweet with criticism. He called Trump Jr. 'a disgrace' and accused him of using a terrorist attack for 'political gain.' When asked about Trump Jr. on Thursday, Khan told CNN: 'I'm not going to respond to a tweet from Donald Trump Jr. I've been doing far more important things over the past 24 hours.' He added that 'terrorists hate the fact' that cities including London, New York and Paris have 'diverse communities living together peacefully.