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  • NOAA(NEW YORK) -- Two days after Tropical Cyclone Gita ravaged the small South Pacific island nation of Tonga, the cleanup continues.The Japanese Meteorological Agency's Himawari-8 satellite captured the massive size of the Category 4 storm on thermal infrared imagery Monday. The storm had sustained winds of nearly 145 mph as it moved west past Tonga, bringing heavy rains with it.Only one other Category 4 or stronger storm has ever passed within 200 miles of the island -- Cyclone Ian in 2014, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's historical database.Acting Prime Minister Hon. Semisi Sika declared a state of emergency for Tonga, urging residents to stay where they were to prevent injury and avoid further damage to property or the environment.Following that declaration, Tonga's Police Commissioner Stephen Caldwell ordered a curfew in the Central Business District area of Nuku'alofa, saying in a statement, "We are urging people to seek refuge from this severe cyclone that could be the most powerful in the country's history."As of Tuesday night, over 3,000 people were staying in 41 different evacuation centers as crews were working to have the power up and running for the Vaiola Hospital. Tonga Power had seven teams out assessing the damage to see how early they could have the power up and running for the rest of the area.Tongatapu, Tonga's main island, saw three major injuries and 30 minor injuries due to the cyclone, according to Sia Adams, Tonga police's media officer. A 72-year-old man from Fuaamotu died from a heart attack but it is still unclear if the cyclone contributed to his death.Over 5,000 miles away in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the most famous face of Tonga is competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Cross-country skier and Tongan flag bearer Pita Taufatofua, 34, has been following the storm from South Korea as he tried to make contact with friends and family. This morning, Taufatofua announced on social media that his family was safe despite damage to their homes.Red Cross teams, the Australian Defense Force and the U.S Peace Corps are all conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations to support Tonga. After a request from the Tongan government, Australia has deployed $350,000 in lifesaving equipment, including emergency shelter, kitchen and hygiene kits to assist.
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  • Alexey Navalny/YouTube(MOSCOW) -- Russia has threatened to block access to YouTube and Instagram if the sites do not remove video and photographs that show a senior government official sailing on a yacht with a billionaire oligarch, who has links with the former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.Russia’s state-controlled media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, on Saturday ordered that 14 Instagram posts and seven YouTube videos be deleted that show metals magnate Oleg Deripaska on a yacht with a Russian deputy prime minister, Sergey Prikhodko, and a woman who has described herself as an escort.The watchdog listed the posts on its register of banned sites after Deripaska won an injunction from a court in his hometown Ust-Labinsk, which ruled they violated his privacy. Roskomnadzor said it had informed the sites that they must delete the images within three days.The images are at the heart of the public battle between Deripaska and the anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, who first drew attention to the posts in an investigative video piece he released last week. In the report, he accused the oligarch of bribing Prikhodko by hosting him on the yacht in August 2016.Navalny has built an anti-Kremlin political movement around similar investigations into alleged official corruption and was recently barred by a court from running against Russian President Vladimir Putin in elections this year. In the 25-minute video, there are accusations of Deripaska flying Prikhodko to the yacht in Norway on his private plane and of allegedly paying for the services of six more escort girls aboard the boat.Navalny’s video also attracted attention because of a speculative link he makes in it with the 2016 U.S. election. He alleges, without offering proof, that on the yacht Deripaska may have been passing information to Prikhodko that he acquired from Manafort.Manafort is a former business partner of Deripaska and in 2016 he offered to give the billionaire private briefings on the election shortly after joining Trump’s campaign, according to the Washington Post. Manafort, who has been indicted on money laundering charges in the course of the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, has denied any briefing ever took place.Deripaska in a statement last week called Navalny's investigation "part of a planned campaign to damage my reputation" and warned media against disseminating "these mendacious accusations." Representatives for Deripaska have said the video illegally makes use of private images and makes false assertions.Prikhodko responded to Navalny's video last week with a statement to the Russian news outlet, RBC, that “such stuff should be answered man-to-man, but we will leave in within the bounds of the legal field."Roskomnadzor also ordered Navalny to delete the video and text versions of the investigation from his website.On Tuesday, Oksana Baulina, a member of Navalny’s political organization said it had received messages from YouTube to take down the video, posting a screenshot of it on Twitter. Navalny has so far refused to do so and has filed suit against Roskomnadzor, arguing its block on the images is illegal. Over 4 million people have watched the video on YouTube, so far.The video and photos highlighted by Navalny were first posted in 2016 by the woman onboard the yacht with Deripaska. The 21-year-old Belarussian goes by the name Nastya Rybka and has promoted herself as an expert in seduction in video blogs and a book.In some of the videos on Rybka's Instagram, Deripaska can be seen with her and Priokhodko relaxing aboard the yacht. At one point, Deripaska and Prikhodko joke about the poor relations between Russia and the United States.Rybka has also written a book in which she describes the encounter, using pseudonyms, and where she claims there were other women aboard the boat. The book presents itself as a manual for women on how to seduce an oligarch.Ryb
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  • Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israeli police on Tuesday recommended indicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two corruption investigations, a move that could lead to the first indictments after months of corruption investigations focusing on the prime minister and his family.Israeli police said in a statement they had "sufficient evidence" against the prime minister in both cases "for the offense of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust."Israeli police alleged Netanyahu received at least 1 million shekels, around $283,000, in lavish gifts and bribes.Case 1,000 alleges that Netanyahu accepted gifts from wealthy patrons in return for advancing their interests. In so-called Case 2,000, Netanyahu is accused of striking a deal with Israel's second largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, to provide him with positive coverage in return for damaging the reputation of Israel Hayom, a free newspaper in Israel.Case 1,000 names two wealthy businessmen, an Israeli Hollywood producer and an Australian businessman. In regards to the producer, the police said they had evidence for accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. With respect to the businessman, the police only named fraud and breach of trust.The police also added it had sufficient evidence of bribery to charge the producer, too.Netanyahu blasted the development in a televised address this evening."I have not known a day in office without vicious allegations against me and my family," he said. "Fifteen investigations have been launched against me. I know the truth. This time as well, it will end in nothing."Netanyahu indicated he was committed to remaining prime minister."Nothing will divert me from my commitment to the good of the nation," he said. "I feel a deep commitment to continue to lead this people."Last week, the embattled prime minister took to Facebook to criticize the police, calling the claims "ludicrous." He also attacked the credibility of the investigation after Israel Police Chief Roni Alshiech insinuated Netanyahu may have hired private investigators to follow those involved in the investigation.He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying more than once "there will be nothing, because there is nothing."Tuesday's recommendations are just that, recommendations, and while they are damaging politically and will certainly fuel calls for the prime minister to step down, the real decision to charge the prime minister lies with Israel's attorney general. Only a conviction with the charge of moral turpitude would legally force Netanayahu to step down.By making the recommendations, though, the police are signaling they believe there is enough evidence to charge Netanyahu.The police's reported recommendations would now go to Attorney General Avihai Mendelblit, who will decide whether to file charges. This process could take months.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An 81-year old American citizen who was released from the hospital back to a notorious Iranian prison has been hospitalized again, with growing concerns that he could die in Iranian custody.Baquer Namazi has been held by Iran for nearly two years after he was trying to visit and secure the release of his son Siamak Namazi, who has been detained by Iran since fall 2015. They are two of the six Americans missing or detained in Iran -- with a new case revealed this past weekend.The elder Namazi, a retired UNICEF official, was rushed again to the hospital late Sunday night with an irregular heartbeat, severe depletion of energy and fluctuations of his blood pressure, according to his lawyer Jared Genser. This latest trip is Baquer Namazi's second to a hospital in the past two weeks and his fifth while in custody. He has a history of heart problems, including an emergency surgery to install a pacemaker while in custody last September.Before he was returned to Evin Prison last Tuesday, his family, his lawyer, and the State Department urged Iran to release him on humanitarian grounds. His doctor said that the prison's conditions are the primary reason for his declining health -- and the day after he was returned, he was unable to walk because of a severe drop in blood pressure and depletion of energy, Genser said.Last week, Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Steve Goldstein warned that if Baquer Namazi was returned to prison, he could die. "We are concerned about that, and we would hope the Iranians would be concerned about that, too," he told reporters.The State Department has no comment on this latest hospitalization. Baquer Namazi's other son Babak Namazi released a statement, saying, "I beg the authorities to let him stay at home on parole on humanitarian grounds. It is obvious that if they do not, he could die at any time."Iranian officials didn't comment Monday on Baquer Namazi or his hospitalization but have consistently denied that the government arbitrarily arrests Americans.Baquer and Siamak Namazi, a 46-year old businessman, are both serving 10-year sentences for spying for the U.S. -- charges that they have denied.But they are not the only American citizens held by Iran. Xiyue Wang, a history Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, was arrested in August 2016 and sentenced to a 10-year sentence one year later on espionage charges. His wife, Hua Qu, told ABC News in December that she fears for his life, as he is held in Evin Prison's Ward 7, where he was previously beaten by another prisoner.There is also the case of art gallery owner Karan Vafadari, an American citizen who was about to travel with his wife, Afarin Niasari, a green card-holder, to a family wedding in July 2016 when they were detained. No public charges have ever been brought against them, but they remain in custody.Former FBI agent Robert Levinson is also missing in Iran since 2007 -- the longest-held U.S. civilian, according to a Senate resolution passed two years ago Sunday. Iran denies that he is in the government's custody.Over the weekend, it was revealed that another American citizen is now also in detention. Morad Tahbaz is one of 10 environmentalists with the Persian Heritage Wildlife Foundation that were arrested in January and charged with spying, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran. The State Department would not confirm Tahbaz's detention, citing privacy concerns, but said they are "aware of reports that a U.S. citizen has been detained in Iran."One of the environmentalists -- a 63-year-old Canadian citizen and university professor named Kavous Seyed-Emami -- committed suicide over the weekend, his son Ramin, a musician known as King Raam, revealed on Twitter Saturday."The rising number of deaths in Iranian prisons is an unfolding tragedy that must stop now," said Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, in a statement. "In addition t
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  • Purestock/Thinkstock(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- South African police are trying to identify a suspected poacher who was reportedly killed and partially devoured by lions in a private game reserve near the Kruger National Park.The man’s mauled remains, including his head, were reportedly found Monday alongside a hunting rifle and ammunition."The process of identifying the deceased has already commenced and it might be made possible by the fact that his head is amongst the remains that were found at the scene,” South African Police Service spokesman Lt. Col. Moatshe Ngoepe told the country’s News24.Ngoepe added: “We are now waiting for a person from the family but we are also utilizing our investigative resources to see if we can successfully identify the deceased."Ngoepe told Agence France-Presse news agency: “It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions. They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains.”The Department of Home Affairs has also been asked in to assist in identifying the man.It’s unclear whether the man was in the Ingwelala Private Game Reserve to specifically poach lions. Although lion poaching has been on the increase in recent years, the region has historically seen higher levels of rhino poaching, which is a more lucrative animal to kill illegally.In parts of Asia, the horn is in high demand, where it's used as an ineffective form of alternative medicine or carved into works of art.A year ago a man was mauled and killed by white lions in the same region after they escaped from their enclosure.Several lions were found poisoned near a farm in the same province last year with their heads and paws sawed off. Lion body parts are used in traditional medicine.
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