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    A powerful earthquake shook Venezuela's northeastern coast on Tuesday, startling residents in the capital who evacuated buildings and briefly interrupting a pro-government rally in favor of a controversial economic reforms. The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 7.3 and said it had a depth of 76 miles (123 kilometers). Its epicenter was 12 miles (20 kilometers) off the sparsely populated Cariaco peninsula that has seen several devastating quakes in the past. A witness in Cumana, the biggest city near the epicenter, said there were initial reports of several injuries at a shopping center where an escalator fell, but that there were no other immediate signs of damage in the vicinity. In downtown Caracas, concrete from the unfinished Tower of David office building fell to the sidewalk, creating a hazard. John Boquett, a firefighter captain in Caracas, said there were no initial reports of injuries or major damage in the capital. The quake was felt as far away as Colombia's capital of Bogota, where authorities briefly closed the international airport to inspect for runway damage. In Caracas, office workers and residents fled their buildings and homes. The confusing moments after the quake were captured on state television as Diosdado Cabello, the head of the all-powerful constitutional assembly, was delivering a speech at a march in support of the socialist government's recent package of reforms to rescue an economy beset by hyperinflation and widespread shortages. 'Quake!' people yelled as Cabello and others looked from side to side with a mixture of laughter and concern. 'It's the Bolivarian revolution speaking to the world,' Cabello thundered to applause. A similar-sized quake in the same area left dozens dead in 1997. Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said that disaster relief teams had been activated but so far there were no reports of fatalities. 'We ask for the greatest patience and tranquility from the Venezuelan people,' he said in a televised address. 'These situations require prudence.' Power outages were reported across nearby Trinidad, where people ran into the street and gasped as large glass panes at one supermarket shattered and falling concrete smashed several cars. The quake also cracked walls and thousands of goods fell off supermarket shelves. No injuries or deaths were immediately reported. Joan Latchman, a seismologist with The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center, said it was the strongest earthquake felt in Trinidad since December 2016. She said there were seven aftershocks within an hour of the quake, and that more were expected.
  • Almost all trains in and around Amsterdam and its busy airport have been halted by a problem with one of the rail operator's traffic management systems, stranding thousands of passengers. The system crashed at the end of Tuesday afternoon and again later in the evening after the initial problem had been solved. Long queues have formed for buses and taxis at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and trains operator NS gave out free tea and coffee to passengers stuck at the Dutch capital's stations. NS is appealing to passengers to find other ways of getting to their destination and to postpone any planned train journeys. NS says it is not clear when the problem will be solved and trains will resume running.
  • The U.S. soldier who died of injuries in a helicopter crash in Iraq this week was a member of an elite special operations unit and had deployed nine times in support of the U.S. conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, officials said Tuesday. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Taylor J. Galvin, 34, died Monday in Baghdad of injuries sustained when his helicopter crashed in the northern Iraqi city of Sinjar, the Pentagon said in a brief statement. It said he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The 160th, known as the Night Stalkers, specializes in night operations and has been heavily engaged in wars in the Middle East since 2001. The Pentagon provided no details about the helicopter crash in Sinjar, although officials had said on Monday that there were no indications it was caused by hostile fire. Officials said three others were injured in the crash. Galvin was born in Phoenix, Arizona, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command fact sheet. The Pentagon said his home of record at the time of his deployment from Fort Campbell was Spokane, Washington. It said this was his ninth overseas deployment, including two for the 2003-2011 war in Iraq, three for the war in Afghanistan and four for Operation Inherent Resolve, which is the operation against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria that began in 2014.
  • The board of the private company that controls the bridge that collapsed in Genoa approved on Tuesday an initial 500 million euros ($576 million) in funding to help victims and finance a new steel bridge that it says can be ready in about eight months. Autostrade per l'Italia's board said after an extraordinary meeting one week after the Morandi Bridge tragedy that killed 43 that it would meet at a later date to respond to government moves to privatize the more than 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles) of toll highway that it runs under a concession. The board said it approved an initial list of self-financed initiatives it plans following the bridge collapse. They include rebuilding the bridge 'in steel according to the most modern technologies,' paying for new roadways to handle traffic in the meantime, as well as establishing funds to help the families of the victims and those who have been displaced because of concerns about the stability of the remaining structure. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte told the Milan daily Corriere della Sera that the half a million euros being offered by the company was insufficient. 'The sum allocated is modest compared to their profits,' Conte said. 'They could quadruple or quintuple that.' The government has taken a hard-line with Autostrade and its controlling company, Atlantia, opening procedures to retake control of the roadways alleging poor maintenance was behind the collapse. Autostrade is by far the largest of the private companies operating highways under agreements with the government that allow them to collect tolls in exchange for maintenance and upkeep. Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, lost a quarter of its stock market value in trading last week after the tragedy. Prosecutors are investigating the collapse for possible lapses in maintenance or design flaws, but have not identified a target.
  • The Latest on the deportation of former Nazi death camp guard Jakiv Palij from the U.S. to Germany (all times local): 12:45 p.m. Germany's Foreign Minister says that the country has a 'moral obligation' to seek justice for victims of the Holocaust, after 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, Jakiw Palij was deported to Germany. Heiko Maas says 'there is no line under historical responsibility,' adding in comment to German newspaper Bild that doing justice to the memory of Nazi atrocities 'means standing by our moral obligation to the victims and the subsequent generations.' Palij landed in the western German city of Duesseldorf on Tuesday. The local government in Warendorf county, near Muenster, indicated that Palij would be taken to a care facility in the town of Ahlen. German prosecutors have previously said it does not appear that there's enough evidence to charge Palij with wartime crimes. Now that he is in Germany, Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi-hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he hoped prosecutors would revisit the case. ___ 12:15 p.m. The U.S. ambassador to Germany says President Donald Trump instructed him to make it a priority to secure the deportation of a Nazi war crimes suspect from the U.S. to Germany. Richard Grenell, who arrived in Germany earlier this year, said the new German government, which took office in March, brought 'new energy' to the matter of 95-year-old former concentration camp guard, Jakiw Palij. The deportation Tuesday came after weeks of diplomatic negotiations. Palij, who lived in New York, has admitted lying to get into the U.S., but says he spent World War II as a farmer and factory worker. Grenell told reporters that there were 'difficult conversations' because Palij is not a German citizen and was stateless after losing his U.S. citizenship, but 'the moral obligation' of taking in 'someone who served in the name of the German government was accepted.' ___ 10:15 a.m. The White House says a 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard has been deported to Germany, 14 years after a judge ordered his expulsion. In a statement, the White House said the deportation of Jakiv Palij, who lived in New York City, was carried out early Tuesday. After World War II, Palij hid his involvement in the slaughter of Jews at the Trawniki camp in Nazi-occupied Poland and gained entry to the U.S. by claiming he was a farmer and factory worker. Though a judge ordered Palij deported in 2004, he continued to live in limbo at his home in Queens because no country would accept him. Palij's fate in Germany is unclear as prosecutors have previously indicated there doesn't appear to be enough evidence to bring wartime charges.
  • Russia on Monday displayed its latest weapons at a military show aimed at attracting more foreign customers. President Vladimir Putin said in an address to the Army 2018 show that it reflects the 'huge potential' of Russian military industries and will serve as a platform for military cooperation with other countries. The show, held at a shooting range just outside of Moscow, features Russia's latest fighter jet, the Su-57, the Kinzhal hypersonic weapon and the Armata battle tank among other new weapons. It also features robotic systems. The event will involve flyovers by the air force's aerobatic squadrons and displays of new army weapons in action. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu emphasized that most new weapons at the show have proven their worth during the Syrian campaign. 'They demonstrate the latest achievements of our industries and science,' he said.
  • The craze for 'Crazy Rich Asians' is hitting Asia, with a premiere in Singapore followed by openings in several neighboring countries later this week. Much of the over-the-top romantic comedy was set in this wealthy city-state. As the stars streamed past flashing lights down the red carpet Tuesday evening, local fans and tourists swarmed around them taking photos and asking for selfies. The movie is expected to draw enthusiastic crowds across Asia after its box-office bonanza in the U.S. Directed by John M. Chu, the film was adapted from Singaporean author Kevin Kwan's best-selling novel of the same name. It follows Chinese-American Rachel Chu as she travels with her boyfriend Nick Young to Singapore to meet his family and discovers they are ultra-wealthy. The movie is drawing a mixed reaction. Admirers of the film say that as the first majority Asian-cast film in over two decades to be released by a major Hollywood studio it upends Hollywood's usual stereotypes of Asian characters. Critics say it misses a chance to showcase the city's ethnic diversity. The $30 million Warner Bros. film has grossed more than $35 million since its Aug. 15 world debut in Los Angeles and came out tops with its release in U.S. theaters over the weekend. 'This (movie) is something very personal to people, and it feels like a bigger movement than just the movie itself,' Chu, the director, told The Associated Press. The film has drawn criticism for its inaccurate portrayal of Singapore's ethnic diversity, with some calling it a misrepresentation of the country's minority races. Even though a majority of its residents are Chinese, a quarter of its population are Malay, Indian, or Eurasians, with many migrant workers from surrounding countries like Bangladesh or the Philippines. 'There's this whole notion of the movie being a triumph for representation, which is very problematic. The only Indians and Malays you see are servants,' said Nicholas Yong, a Singaporean journalist and author who saw the movie before its Singapore premiere. Even though its glamorous depiction of Singapore could give its tourism a boost, it was not entirely welcomed. 'To us, 'Crazy Rich' should not just be about the opulence and luxury showcased in the film, but Singapore's actual richness in terms of our diversity,' said Singapore Tourism Board's spokesperson Lynette Pang. As is true anywhere, in Singapore, the super-rich with their extravagant lifestyles are a tiny, privileged minority. Writing in the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong, which has more than its share of tycoons and elite wealthy families, commentator Alex Lo said he enjoyed the film with 'guilty pleasure.' 'But amusement aside, it strikes me the whole purpose of the film exercise is to glamorize and legitimize the super-rich in Asia, many of whom are ethnic Chinese in real life,' he said. 'Should we, as the audience and hoi polloi, be tantalized and awed by the display of mega wealth, which has been described, by most accounts, as accurate. Or should we rather be repelled?' Many in Asia looked forward to seeing some familiar faces. In Manila, the Philippines, an audience of mostly movie writers, critics and bloggers and some celebrity guests were thrilled and applauded when two Filipinos in the film, Kris Aquino and Nico Santos, appeared in their roles during an advance screening Monday night, said Ruth Navarra-Mayo, an editor of the Lifestyle section of the newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer. Santos plays a fashion designer. Aquino, a popular actress and daughter of late pro-democracy champions in the Philippines, played a member of Malay royalty. A former American colony, the Philippines has a highly Westernized culture and Hollywood movies are a local entertainment staple. Audiences would welcome more films with Asian themes and characters, Navarro-Mayo said. 'We want to see Asian actors on Asian topics,' Navarro-Mayo said. 'We're hungry and ready for this type of film.' ___ Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila contributed to this report.
  • Cyprus' energy minister says the country will renegotiate the financial terms of its contract with a consortium on exploiting a gas field off its southern shore. Georgios Lakkotrypis told reporters Tuesday that the consortium made up of Texas-based Noble Energy, Israel's Delek and Royal Dutch Shell wants to renegotiate the contract on the Aphrodite gas field.The field is estimated to hold around 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. Lakkotrypis said the consortium wants to renegotiate because current, lower global oil prices don't make viable a preliminary deal to sell Aphrodite gas to a Shell-operated processing plant in Egypt. He said gas sale revenue was projected to start flowing into state coffers by 2022. Lakkotrypis said the aim is for a speedy agreement with the consortium to avoid delays.
  • Russia said Tuesday that the Taliban have accepted an invitation for talks next month, in what promises to be one of the insurgent group's biggest diplomatic forays since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. The announcement of the planned talks comes as the Taliban have expanded their footprint across Afghanistan and launched an unrelenting wave of attacks, including a prolonged assault on Ghazni, a strategic city near Kabul, earlier this month. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow invited the Taliban to the Sept. 4 talks and was hoping for 'productive' negotiations. 'The first reaction was positive, they are planning to take part in the meeting,' he said. Lavrov reaffirmed that Russia's contacts with the Taliban aim to ensure the safety of Russian citizens in Afghanistan and encourage the insurgents to abandon hostilities and engage in a dialogue with the government. A senior Taliban official confirmed they would send a delegation to Russia 'for the sake of finding peace in Afghanistan.' The official said the group plans to send representatives to other countries in the region, including Pakistan and China, 'to take them into confidence and address their concerns.' 'We are in contact with all neighbors,' the official said, adding that the Taliban routinely hold meetings with European officials at the group's political office in the Gulf state of Qatar. The Taliban official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. Lavrov rejected claims by the Afghan government that Russia is hoping to use the Taliban to combat the Islamic State group. An IS affiliate in Afghanistan has staged several devastating attacks in recent years and has repeatedly clashed with the Taliban. The IS branch is seen as particularly threatening to Russia because it includes a large number of battle-hardened Uzbek militants. 'I can't even hypothetically imagine how Russia could use the Taliban for fighting the IS,' Lavrov said at a news conference. 'We fight the IS with all means available, we support Syria in that struggle, we help equip the Iraqi army for the same goal and we naturally would like to see the people of Afghanistan getting rid of the IS.' In a separate statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry strongly criticized the claim, made by Afghan Ambassador Abdul Qayyum Kochai, saying it's based on 'insinuations' and 'completely distorts the meaning of Russia's policy on Afghanistan.' 'It's deplorable that instead of helping maintain partnership and mutual trust between Russia and Afghanistan, the Afghan ambassador has taken steps leading in the opposite direction,' the ministry said. It hailed the Afghan government's offer of a holiday cease-fire, adding that the Taliban's apparent rejection of it is regrettable. The ministry said the Sept. 4 talks in Moscow would include representatives of Russia, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran and India, and are intended to 'help advance the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan and establish peace in the country as soon as possible.' It said other countries, including the U.S., also have been invited to attend. The Taliban have raised their diplomatic profile in recent weeks by sending official delegations to Uzbekistan and Indonesia, and say they held talks with a senior U.S. diplomat in Qatar last month. The group has refused direct talks with the Afghan government, which it views as a U.S. puppet, saying it will only negotiate the end of the 17-year war directly with Washington. Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks and the deployment of U.S. forces to former Soviet states in Central Asia. But Moscow has grown increasingly critical of U.S. actions as relations with Washington have soured in recent years, and is stepping up its own diplomatic outreach across the region. ___ Gannon reported from Islamabad.
  • The London Fire Brigade wants the media to stop depicting firefighters as hunky sex objects. The service says the images are sexist and deter women from joining the profession. The brigade has criticized reality TV show 'Love Island' for including a 'fireman challenge' in which male contestants had to strip down and pretend to rescue a woman in danger. Commissioner Dany Cotton, the first woman to lead the British capital's fire brigade, said Tuesday that the depiction 'reinforces the misconception that all firefighters are musclebound men.' The brigade also criticizes advertisements for depicting firefighting as 'a man's job,' including an ad for a toilet cleaner in which women objectify a male firefighter. Just 300 of the brigade's 5,000 operational firefighters are women — a number managers want to increase.

News

  • A 61-year-old woman was pinned between her car and a gas pump after a four-car crash at a Lithonia gas station, DeKalb County police said.  Her grandchildren were inside the her car at the time, according to Channel 2 Action News.  The woman was taken to the hospital in critical condition following the Monday evening wreck at the Circle K gas station in the intersection of Covington Highway and Evans Mill Road, DeKalb County spokeswoman Shiera Campbell said.  Campbell said the woman was pumping gas when a gray vehicle sped into the gas station at a high rate of speed. The car crashed into a pick-up truck, causing it to crash into a Nissan SUV, Campbell said. The SUV slammed into the woman’s car, pinning her against the gas pump.  Campbell said the people, believed to be juveniles, inside the gray vehicle ran from the scene.  No other details were released.  In other news:
  • Georgia is paying attention to what's happening in other states and around the world with measles.  Measles cases have been identified in 21 states and Washington, D.C. --- 107 in all. Georgia has not seen a case since 2016 but three cases have been reported in Florida and experts say that's close enough. Sheila Lovett directs the immunization program for the state and says a 93.3 percent vaccine coverage rate is serving Georgians well. 'There is a level of protection that is there that is keeping the disease out of our communities. Measles cases hit a record high in Europe. 41,000 cases of infection and 37 deaths in the first half of 2018,' she said. 'Europe is very alarming because the cases are widespread. But you have to look at that coverage rate there as well compared to what we have here.' TRENDING STORIES: Plane carrying famous rapper blows 2 tires, will try emergency landing Buford schools superintendent recorded in racist rant, lawsuit says 15-year-old girl rescued; 4 people accused of trafficking, pimping her for sex Facts show the vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease. It's recommended children be vaccinated at 12 months and get a booster between 4 and 6 years old. 'We cannot make them vaccinate their children. What we can do is continue to educate, continue to provide the facts,' she said. Lovett says 'worst case' measles can be a life or death situation, but a vaccine can help protect you from even the mildest complications.  'If you're going to travel is that you've been vaccinated and have received those two doses,' she said. What about the other 7 percent of people who are not vaccinated? That's where we rely on what's called 'herd immunity' since such a high percentage of people who should be vaccinated from this area, they rely on that stat to keep the disease out of the community.. 
  • Marlins right-hander Jose Urena dropped his appeal of a six-game suspension for intentionally hitting Atlanta rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. with a pitch. Urena began serving the suspension Tuesday. The Marlins, fearful the Braves might retaliate, had already decided Urena wouldn't pitch against them during a four-game series later this week. 'It seems like there's no reason to open that back up,' manager Don Mattingly said. 'We don't need that.' Urena is expected to return at Boston on Aug. 28. He hit Acuna on the left arm with his first pitch, triggering a melee in the Marlins' 5-2 loss in Atlanta last Wednesday. Acuna went into the game having homered in five straight games, including four homers in the three games against Miami — three of them leading off. Acuna left the game injured but was back in the lineup the next day. Urena was ejected. His next start came Sunday, when he pitched a two-hitter for his first career complete game to beat Washington 12-1. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • West Virginia's Republican House speaker resigned Tuesday to run for a vacancy on the state Supreme Court, fueling accusations by Democrats that an unprecedented move to impeach state Supreme Court justices represents a power grab by GOP lawmakers. Speaker Tim Armstead disclosed his plans on Twitter. Though the secretary of state's office has said he's not required to resign, Armstead said he was doing so to make sure his candidacy is above question. House lawmakers recently impeached four of the court's five justices, prompting one to resign. All four were ordered Tuesday to appear in the Senate on Sept. 11 to answer accusations against them. The impeachment probe was sparked by questions involving more than $3 million in renovations to the justices' offices and expanded to broader accusations of corruption, incompetence and neglect of duty. Armstead had recused himself from the House debate over impeachment because he had previously expressed interest in serving on the court. More recently, he and U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, a Republican who is not seeking re-election and lost in his bid for the U.S. Senate this spring, both applied to be considered for temporary appointments to the Supreme Court by Gov. Jim Justice. Those appointments would last until the November election is certified. Jenkins has declared himself a candidate for a different seat on the court in the November election, which is officially nonpartisan. The West Virginia Democratic Party said on Twitter of Armstead's resignation, 'No surprise here, more self-serving moves for political gain and abandoning the people of West Virginia in his district.' In a statement announcing his resignation, Armstead said he intends 'to spend as much time as possible meeting West Virginians and earning their trust and their votes to represent them on their Supreme Court of Appeals.' Armstead filed by Tuesday's deadline to run in the nonpartisan race for the vacancy created last month when Menis Ketchum retired and agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud related to his personal use of a state vehicle and fuel. Robin Davis stepped down from the court Aug. 14 after lawmakers voted to impeach her and justices Allen Loughry, Margaret Workman and Beth Walker. Davis and at least one Democratic lawmaker have accused the Republican-led legislature of turning what they said was a legitimate pursuit of charges against Loughry into a blatant attempt to take over the court. Democratic Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer of Monongalia County has called impeaching the other justices 'a power grab ... and using the impeachment process to take over another branch of government.' Jenkins and six other candidates have filed to run for Davis' seat in November. Armstead and nine other candidates have filed to run for the seat Ketchum vacated. Loughry faces six charges related to accusations of spending $363,000 on office renovations, taking home a $42,000 antique desk owned by the state, and lying to a House committee. Loughry, Walker and Workman all face charges of abusing authority by failing to control office expenses and not maintaining policies about the use of state vehicles, office computers at home and other matters. Workman faces two separate impeachment articles related to accusations that she allowed senior status judges to be paid higher wages than are allowed. Armstead was appointed to a House seat from Kanawha County in 1998 to fill a vacancy and was elected later that year. He served as House minority leader and was named speaker in December 2014 after Republicans gained majority control of both the House and Senate for the first time in eight decades. Some Democrats have said the impeachments were strategically timed by majority Republican lawmakers to allow the governor to name their temporary replacements. 'There's never been any time in history where one branch of government supposedly controls another branch,' Senate Democratic leader Roman Perzioso said Monday. 'And for the governor to be able to appoint people to be replaced, obviously there's that apprehension by a lot of the Democratic senators and House members, too.
  • A man accused of shooting and killing a man in a Walmart parking lot appeared in court Tuesday.  Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said that while he does believe Troy Hunte killed Fadil Delkic, a refugee from the Bosnian War, in the parking lot of a Snellville Walmart Sunday, he is not convinced there was malice involved. “Clearly there was provocation on both sides, so that's the reason they made that choice,” Porter said. Sunday afternoon, shoppers at the Scenic Highway store were sent into a panic after a shot was fired outside.  “All you saw was everyone running,” witness Robin Reynolds told Channel 2 Action News. [READ MORE: Bosnian War survivor identified as victim in Walmart parking lot shooting] Witnesses said Hunte, his girlfriend and their child were heading into the store as Delkic was driving away. Hunte's girlfriend apparently thought Delkic pulled too close to them in a crosswalk. TRENDING STORIES: Buford schools superintendent recorded in racist rant, lawsuit says Man arrested in death of Mollie Tibbetts details what happened Girl, 15, says police officer sexually assaulted her for hours; GBI investigating The two argued, she slapped Delkic, then police said Hunte shot and killed the Bosnian refugee.  Hunte made his first court appearance Tuesday on what are now voluntary manslaughter charges.   Porter said the charges may change as his team investigates. He hinted Hunte may claim self-defense. “There are two questions in this case. Number one: Was there a right to defend him or his girlfriend? And number two: Was he justified in using deadly force?” Porter said. Delkic is getting a lot of support. An online fundraising effort has taken in $25,000 in less than a day.  Some of Delkic's family are not only asking why the suspect is not charged with murder, but why the woman who first argued with Delkic has not also been charged. “There was a child to consider. There were other issues that taking her into custody at this point was not necessary for the public safety,” Porter said. Porter said the woman is not entirely cleared yet. “That's something that is still under investigation and she may be (charged),” Porter said.
  • Shanann Watts’ father sobbed in a Colorado courtroom Tuesday as a judge recited the charges against his son-in-law -- charges that indicate detectives believe Chris Watts may have killed his children before his pregnant wife returned home from a business trip.  Chris Watts, 33, of Frederick, was charged Monday with nine felony charges: five counts of first-degree murder, including two for killing a child under the age of 12 while the defendant was in a position of trust, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body. He is being held without bail in the Weld County Jail.  The defendant faces a potential death penalty on the murder charges.  In a confession to police, Chris Watts alleged that he strangled Shanann Watts, 34, after seeing her do the same to their two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Disbelieving investigators charged him with all three murders, as well as with the death of the couple’s unborn child.   >> Related story: Colorado father charged with killing pregnant wife, 2 daughters, says wife killed children Shanann Watts was 15 weeks pregnant with a son they planned to name Niko, friends and family have said. A Change.org petition started by friends demands that Colorado adopt a new law, named “Niko’s Law,” to make the killing of an unborn baby like the Watts’ son first-degree murder. As Chris Watts sat stone-faced throughout Tuesday’s proceedings, which were streamed live by CBS Denver, Judge Marcello Kopcow advised Watts of the updated charges levied against him. Watts had been in custody since Wednesday on suspicion of murder and tampering with evidence.  Chris Watts told 9News in Denver in an interview the day before his arrest that he had nothing to do with the deaths of his family.  “Everybody’s going to have their own opinion on anything like this,” Watts said in the TV interview. “I just want people to know that I want my family back. I want them safe and I want them here.” The charges Kopcow read in court state that Chris Watts caused the death of his wife on Aug. 13, the day she and her daughters were reported missing by a friend. The charges related to Bella and Celeste, however, state that he caused their deaths “between and including Aug. 12, 2018, and Aug. 13, 2018.” Shanann Watts was out of town until early Aug. 13.  An arrest affidavit released Monday states that the friend who reported Shanann and the girls missing, Nickole Utoft Atkinson, dropped Shanann off at the Watts’ home just before 2 a.m. that day. The two women had been on a business trip to Arizona for Le-Vel, a health and wellness company that sells nutritional products.  “Nicole (sic) stated Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant and was not feeling well during the trip,” the affidavit states.  Atkinson became concerned later that morning because Shanann Watts missed a 10 a.m. doctor’s appointment and was not answering phone calls or texts. She went to the couple’s home at 2825 Saratoga Trail to check on her.  Read the charges against Chris Watts below. “(Nickole) went to Shanann’s residence and discovered her car in the garage with car seats positioned inside of it,” the affidavit says. “(She) attempted to enter the front door, but a latch prevented it from opening more than three inches.” Atkinson called Chris Watts at work and asked him to return home to check on his wife, the court document reads. She was afraid that Shanann Watts, who reportedly had lupus, had passed out or was suffering some other medical emergency.  Atkinson also called police, who arrived before Chris Watts did. Once Chris Watts arrived and allowed officers into the house, they found Shanann Watts’ personal belongings -- her cellphone, purse, wallet and medication -- inside.  They also found a pair of women’s shoes kicked off by the front door and a suitcase, apparently from her Arizona trip, at the bottom of the stairs, the affidavit states.  Chris Watts initially told investigators that around 4 a.m. that day, he told his wife he wanted a separation. He said it was an emotional conversation, with both of them upset and crying, but that it was not argumentative.  Chris Watts told detectives that when he left for work just before 5:30 a.m., Shanann Watts told him she and the girls would be going to a friend’s home later in the day. He said that he backed his work truck up into the driveway to load some tools into it before leaving.  Read the warrantless arrrest affidavit in the Chris Watts case below. The truck’s movements were captured by a neighbor’s security camera, the affidavit says.  During the investigation into the disappearance of Shanann Watts and her daughters, investigators learned that Chris Watts was having an affair with a female co-worker at Anadarko Petroleum Corp. -- an affair that he denied in previous interviews.  Chris Watts was taken into custody Wednesday night, at which time Anadarko fired him. In a subsequent police interview Thursday, after being allowed to speak to his father, Chris Watts admitted strangling Shanann Watts the morning of Aug. 13, the affidavit states.  “Chris stated after he told Shanann he wanted a separation, he walked downstairs for a moment and then returned to his bedroom to speak with Shanann again,” the affidavit states. “While in the bedroom, via baby monitor located on Shanann’s nightstand, he observed Bella ‘sprawled’ out on her bed and blue and Shanann actively strangling Celeste. “Chris said he went into a rage and ultimately strangled Shanann to death.” Chris Watts told detectives that, when he backed his truck into the driveway, it was his wife and daughters’ bodies he loaded into the back seat, the affidavit states. He said he drove the bodies to an Anadarko work site just north of Roggan, an unincorporated area of Weld County about 40 miles from the family’s home in Frederick.  A Google Maps search using the coordinates of the site, which are included in the affidavit, shows a desolate area in which a dirt road leads to a couple of large oil tanks.  Chris Watts told investigators buried Shanann in a shallow grave near the tanks and dumped his daughters’ bodies inside the tanks.  “Chris was presented an aerial photograph of the tank battery area and identified three separate locations in which he placed the bodies,” the affidavit reads. Prior to Watts’ alleged confession, investigators did a drone search of the site and spotted a bedsheet in a field near the tank battery, the document says. The sheet matched the pattern of pillow cases and a top sheet discovered stuffed into a trash can in Watts’ kitchen earlier Thursday.  Shanann Watts’ body was found that afternoon, buried in a shallow grave near the oil tanks. Bella and Celeste were found inside the tanks, which were almost completely full of crude oil.  The girls’ bodies had been submerged in oil for four days, according to court documents filed by Chris Watts’ defense lawyer. The attorney, James Merson, sought to have defense experts at the autopsies of the victims, and to have DNA swabs done on the necks of the children, an apparent bid to prove that Shanann Watts killed her daughters.  Kopcow on Friday denied the motion to have defense experts present at the autopsies, but granted the request to for DNA swabs of Bella and Celeste’s necks. He denied the defense’s request that their expert take the swabs, however.  “Furthermore, defendant’s request to order prosecution to collect evidence in the manner described by defense expert is denied,” the order reads. “This court cannot order the prosecution and/or coroner how to conduct their investigation.” Kopcow said there was no indication that prosecutors or the coroner would destroy evidence, improperly collect it or fail to collect it.  The disappearance and killings of Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts have captured national attention, and inspired gut-wrenching emotion from those who knew them. Shanann Watts’ father, Frank Rzucek, tearfully spoke publicly Monday ahead of the news conference at which Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke announced the charges against Chris Watts.  “We would like to thank everyone in the Frederick Police Department and all the agencies involved for working so hard to find my daughter, granddaughters and Niko,” Rzucek said. “Thank you, everyone, for coming out to the candlelight vigil and saying all your prayers. They are greatly appreciated. “Keep the prayers coming for our family.” Rzucek has also been active on his Facebook page, posting photos of Bella and Celeste smiling and playing together. In one post, he uploaded the song “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen.” “Dear Bella and Celeste and Nico,” Rzucek wrote. “Pop Pop loves you. God bless you.” He also posted several photos of Shanann Watts.  “Dad loves you,” he wrote on one. On another, he wrote, “We got you, baby.” Family friends who let Chris Watts stay in their home after his wife and daughters went missing expressed shock over the accusations against him -- and apologized for taking him in and defending him against swirling rumors.  “Had we had any inclination that we thought he was involved at all, no way would I have let him in my house with my wife and kid,” Nick Thayer told 9News Thursday, the day Watts confessed and the bodies were found.  “They were family,” his wife, Amanda Thayer, told the news station. “They spent Thanksgivings with us and Fourth of Julys and all the holidays. It’s just unreal.” The couple, who also took in the Watts family’s dog, Deeter, until Shanann’s family could pick him up, is now left figuring out how to tell their 5-year-old daughter that her playmates are dead. They are also struggling to understand the crime themselves, 9News reported.  “I’m so sorry. We didn’t know. We thought we were doing the right thing,’ Nick Thayer said. “It’s all we can do is say we’re sorry that we defended him on social media. We really had no idea that he was capable of doing something like we’ve.... I hate it. I hate all of this.”