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iStock/Thinkstock(BANGKOK) — Scuffles broke out at the Dhammakaya Temple north of Bangkok in Thailand as police search for former abbot Phra Dhammachayo, who is wanted on multiple charges.

Authorities ordered monks to leave the temple, but followers instead flocked there to defy police as they try to arrest the 72-year-old Dhammachayo. Thailand's military government ordered emergency powers to be used in the search.

The temple penned an open letter to Thailand's National Human Rights Commission saying the police's actions were in violation of international law.

Thousands of devotees showed up to defend the former abbot. In 2016, a similar standoff took place. BBC News reports there were no major injuries at the latest clash, but some monks were treated for minor injuries.

The charges against Dhammachayo are conspiracy to launder money and receive stolen goods, as well as taking over land unlawfully. Supporters of Dhammachayo say the seige by police is politically motivated.

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JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- A Japanese television network has released CCTV video it says it obtained from Kuala Lumpur International Airport of the moments leading up to and following Kim Jong Nam’s assassination.

The video is grainy, and parts of it are difficult to discern, but it appears to show one of two women grabbing a man appearing to be Kim Jong Nam from behind and putting him into what looks like a choke hold.

The apparent assassination, which allegedly took place through the application of a fast-acting poison to his face, lasts only a few seconds in the footage.

Kim Jong Nam can later be seen seeking assistance from staff at the airport.

Kim Jong Nam, who was likely 45 or 46 years old, was the eldest son of Kim Jong Il, the second-generation leader of North Korea.

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U.S. State Department(LONDON) — Peers in the House of Lords are set to debate a proposed law that would allow Prime Minister Theresa May to inform the European Union (EU) that the UK is exiting, according to BBC News.

British Members of Parliament (MP) have backed the bill, but a majority in the House of Lords has not.

Five days of debate have been set aside as 190 peers are due to speak. Prime Minister May has said she wants to invoke Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty by the end of March. The move would trigger a formal two year mechanism to force the UK to leave the EU.

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iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — Russia has denied that "Russian state bodies" were invovled in an attempted coup in Montenegro according to a BBC News report. The plotters were allegedly targeting the Balkan state's Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic.

Serb paramilitaries and Russian nationalists were blamed in a series of more than 20 arrests in October 2016 before Montenegro's elections. Prosecutor Mlilvoje Katnic is urging Russian authorities to investigate what happened.

Katnic claims a Russian military figure is behind the alleged plot, aiming to prevent Montenegro from joining NATO.

Montenegro could join NATO this year, but an opposition alliance is calling for a referendum on the decision.

Russia has called the claims unsubstantiated.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Iraq launched on Sunday an offensive to retake western Mosul from ISIS, prime minister Haider al-Abadi said in a televised address.

"We announce the start of a new chapter of Mosul operations to liberate the right side of Nineveh [Mosul] as we did with the other part," Al-Abadi said. "I declare to our brave forces to proceed with courage to liberate the other side of Mosul and to liberate its peoples from Daesh [ISIS] oppression forever."

Al-Abadi called on security forces to deal with civilians properly and respect human rights.

رئيس مجلس الوزراء القائد العام للقوات المسلحة الدكتور حيدر العبادي يعلن انطلاق عملية تحرير الجانب الايمن من الموصل.

— PM Media Office (@IraqiPMO) February 19, 2017

#Iraq: UN aid agencies preparing for 'all scenarios' as western #Mosul military operations set to begin -

— UNAMI (@UNIraq) February 19, 2017

The United Nations expressed concern for civilians in the affected areas. According to UN estimates, between 750,000 and 800,000 civilians live in the western section of Mosul.

"With military operations to retake western Mosul starting, United Nations humanitarian agencies in Iraq are rushing to prepare for the humanitarian impact of the fighting amid grave concerns that tens of thousands of families are at extreme risks," the UN said. "Food and fuel supplies are dwindling, markets and shops have closed, running water is scarce and electricity in many neighborhoods is either intermittent or cut off."

Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in a statement, "The situation is distressing. People, right now, are in trouble. We are hearing reports of parents struggling to feed their children and to heat their homes."

About 178,000 civilians have been forced to flee to refugee camps because of the ongoing conflict in Mosul.

 Iraqi forces retook control of eastern Mosul from ISIS in January after a three-month battle.

The Iraqi announcement comes one day after the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Syria Democratic Forces said that the predominantly-Kurdish SDF retook the northern Syrian village of Jawees from ISIS.

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Kara-Murza Family(NEW YORK) --  A well-known Russian opposition activist who was left in a critical condition this month after an apparent poisoning has now left Russia for treatment abroad, his lawyer said.

The case of Vladimir Kara-Murza attracted international attention and condemnation on Capitol Hill earlier this month when he was rushed to the hospital – poisoned, his doctors said, with an unknown substance.

It was the second time in two years that Kara-Murza – a veteran critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin – has been poisoned, and his colleagues have suggested it must be linked to his activism.

This time Kara-Murza spent a week in critical condition, on life support and kept in an artificial coma as doctors sought to clean his bloodstream of whatever could be poisoning him. Last week, he regained consciousness and on Sunday, Kara-Murza’s lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, said that the activist was now being transferred abroad for rehabilitation.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Prokhorov did not say where Kara-Murza was being transferred to, only saying it was “abroad."

As during the first time, Kara-Murza’s doctors have been unable to say what he had been poisoned with or even to find any trace of it. The diagnosis currently is simply “acute intoxication by an unknown substance”, his wife, Evgenia Kara-Murza, said.

Samples of his skin, nails and hair have been sent for testing by toxicology laboratories abroad, she said. Previous tests two years ago were unable to identify the poison, though a French lab found traces of heavy metals in his bloodstream.

The motive for the poisoning is also murky. Evgenia Kara-Murza believes it must be linked to her husband’s activism, but does not know what it could be specifically.

But in Sunday’s statement, Kara-Murza’s lawyer said he had pledged that he would not stop his opposition work despite the poisoning: “He definitely will continue to do what he has done all these last years: activity directed towards the restoration of democracy in Russia.”

 The case had attracted particular attention in the U.S. because it happened to coincide with a Fox News Super Bowl interview with president Donald Trump in which he indicated he was unphased by the idea that Putin was “a killer”.

Asked by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly why he respected Putin since the Russian president was “a killer”, Trump replied: “We have a lot of killers too. What you think our country is so innocent.”

Those comments prompted angry criticisms from some Democrats and Republicans who said Trump was equating the U.S. with the authoritarian tactics used under Putin.

Sen. John McCain took to the house floor on Feb. 7 to condemn Vladimir Kara-Murza's poisoning and implicitly President Trump's comments.

"Vladimir knew there was no moral equivalence between the United States and Putin’s Russia," McCain said of Vladimir Kara-Murza. "And anyone who would make such a suggestion maligns the character of our great nation and does a disservice to all those whose blood is on Putin’s hands.”

Some have suggested that Kara-Murza’s poisoning could be linked to his involvement in a campaign to promote American sanctions legislation. He played a significant role in lobbying Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act, a blacklist that targets Russian officials involved in the murder and its cover-up of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who was killed by Russian police after he uncovered a huge tax fraud scheme linked to the top levels of the Russian state.

Kara-Murza had appeared repeatedly before Congress urging it to pass the legislation that was later broadened to include all human rights abusers in Russia.

On Sunday, Kara-Murza’s lawyer said that his work around the Magnitsky Act was considered one of potential cause of the poisoning. In his statement, the lawyer said Kara-Murza would continue to work on the Magnitsky Act.

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iStock(MOSCOW) -- Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed an order recognizing passports issued by separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, prompting alarm from the United States and Ukrainian officials amid fears it could represent a step by Moscow towards declaring the rebel regions independent states.

The executive order recognizes passports and other documents issued by the self-declared People's Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, the two rebel republics that have established themselves with Russian support in an ongoing war against Ukraine's government. The republics are currently unrecognized -- including by Russia -- but Moscow has secretly supplied them with arms and money, and has covertly deployed its own military to carve out their territory.

The order published by the Kremlin said residents of Lugansk and Donetsk would now be able to enter Russia "just upon presenting IDs issued by relevant bodies de facto operating in the given areas," referring to the separatist authorities. It also recognized birth and marriage certificates, drivers licenses and educational qualifications among other documents issued by the rebels.

The order shakes the stagnant conflict and in making it, the Kremlin appeared to be laying down another test of the Trump administration as it weighs its policy on Ukraine and Russia, with the order published even as Vice President Mike Pence appeared before European security leaders in Germany to reassure them the U.S. is committed to their defense before a newly aggressive Moscow.

The U.S. embassy in Kiev swiftly issued an expression of dismay over the Russian order. On Twitter the embassy wrote that the step "is alarming and contradicts the agreed-upon goals of the Minsk Agreement," referring to the two-year-old peace agreements meant to end the fighting and which calls for the rebel areas to be reintegrated into Ukraine.

Senior Ukrainian officials warned that Putin's order could be seen as ending that agreement. Oleksander Turchynov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said in a statement: "This step by Kremlin completely destroys the Minsk process and is equal to Russia's statement about an exit from that."

The Kremlin and other Russian officials downplayed the order, saying it was temporary and only removed a burdensome bureaucratic hurdle for residents in the rebel areas. Russia has denied supporting the rebels with money or militarily, despite evidence to the contrary.

The rebel regions in Ukraine's east have been in limbo as the conflict has settled into a poorly observed truce, with the front lines effectively fixed but fire still exchanged on a daily basis. Following Russia's invasion and swift incorporation of Crimea in 2014, the rebels in the east had hoped they would be next. But recently, they have complained of feeling increasingly forgotten by Moscow, which has shown little interest in formally absorbing them.

Now, though, analysts in Russia and in Western capitals said they believed Putin's order today could indicate Moscow was slowly moving towards recognition.
That is how the separatists publicly interpreted it. The leader of the Lugansk People's Republic, Igor Plotniskii, hailed it as "another step towards international recognition of our sovereignty," Russian news agencies reported.

The move recalls a playbook used by the Kremlin in other separatist conflicts within its neighbors' borders. In Russia, analysts quickly referred to Russian actions in its short war with the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 2008. In that conflict, Moscow backed two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which have since become effectively incorporated into Russia.

Shortly after its troops bulldozed Georgian forces out of the regions, Russia recognized identity documents from their separatist governments, who at the time celebrated that as a sign Moscow would soon recognize them as independent states. Not long after that, Russia did, becoming one of only four countries (including the tiny island of Nauru) to do so.

Russian officials said today that was not the plan in Ukraine. Russian diplomatic sources, speaking anonymously to the business paper, RBK, said recognition was not on the cards.

But Putin's move on Sunday is the latest development in Ukraine’s conflict since Donald Trump became president, with some seeing it as an effort to probe the new administration's attitude. In early February, the worst fighting in two years broke out, leaving at least 30 dead. Last week, Putin accused Kiev of having decided on a military solution to the conflict.

Trump's policy on Ukraine has yet to take shape. Comments during his campaign had encouraged hopes among some Russian officials Trump might consider recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea and removing U.S. sanctions on Moscow.

Those hopes though have dimmed recently, as Trump's administration has appeared to fall back on previous U.S. policy towards Ukraine. The White House has said sanctions will not be lifted until Crimea is returned to Ukraine, and last week Trump suggested he would have stopped Moscow from taking the peninsula in the first place.

That has relieved some of America's European allies, but they remain deeply worried by Trump's regular praise of Putin and in particular his apparent disdain for the European Union. Pence over the weekend delivered an address at a security conference in Munich with what he said was a direct message from the president that the White House's commitment to defending Europe was total, including standing up to Moscow.

"Know this: The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground, which as you know President Trump believes can be found," Pence said.

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iStock(EMERSON, Manitoba) -- Canadian police intercepted 22 people overnight near Emerson, Manitoba, for illegally crossing the border, according to police.

The small town of Emerson has become a hotspot for asylum seekers seeking refuge in Canada since the election of President Trump, who made reducing illegal immigration and decreasing the number of refugees entering the U.S. a central part of his platform.

The border town of 671 has been galvanized to help asylum seekers, as the issue has brought an influx of media attention from across the globe, according to the CBC.

Greg Janzen, an official who heads the town, told CTV, a Canadian network, that he's witnessed a definitive shift in the number of asylum seekers coming across the border since Trump took office.

"I think we're just going to see them coming every day now, instead of just on the weekends. And the groups are going to get bigger and bigger," Janzen said.

He said that most of the asylum seekers come from African countries, and that he has concerns about the number of people crossing the border into his town, which does not have the resources to handle them all.

"As the numbers get bigger there is growing concerns," he said.

Trump highlighted the issue of immigration again during a campaign style rally Saturday in Florida by criticizing refugee policies in Europe.

"Here's the bottom line -- we have to keep our country safe," Trump started, before pivoting to the subject of Europe.

"When you look at what's happening in Germany, when you look at what's happening last night in Sweden -- Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers, they're having problems like they never thought possible," he said.

Trump then listed several European cities that have suffered high profile terror attacks, including Paris and Brussels.

The comments drew criticism and even derision from some critics, who questioned why Sweden was included in a list of places that had experienced highly publicized terror attacks in recent years.

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ABC News(MUNICH) --  Mike Pence affirmed the United States' support for NATO and urged Russia to deescalate violence in eastern Ukraine while speaking Saturday at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, which marked his first overseas trip as vice president.

"Today, on behalf of President Trump, I bring you this assurance: The United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in its commitment to our trans-Atlantic alliance," Pence told attendees at the annual international security policy gathering, at which Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly also attended.

He added, "This is President Trump's promise: We will stand with Europe, today and every day, because we are bound together by the same noble ideals -- freedom, democracy, justice, and the rule of law."

.@VP Pence: "On behalf of @POTUS, I assure you: the US strongly supports #NATO." #MSC2017 #MSC17

— Security Conference (@MunSecConf) February 18, 2017

As for Russia, Pence took a defiant position, saying, "In the wake of Russian efforts to redraw international borders by force rest assured, the United States, along with the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany, will continue its leadership role as a framework nation in the Enhanced Forward Presence Initiative and support other critical joint actions to support our alliance."

In specifically addressing Ukraine, Pence said "we must hold Russia accountable and demand that they honor the Minsk Agreements, beginning by de-escalating the violence in eastern Ukraine."

He reiterated, "Know this: The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground, which as you know, President Trump believes can be found."

Pence also spoke about quashing Iran's attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon while slamming the lifting of sanctions against the country, saying Iran "continues to destabilize the Middle East, and thanks to the end of nuclear-related sanctions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran now has additional resources to devotwe to these efforts."

He continued, "Let me be clear: Under President Trump, the United States will remain fully committed to ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon capable of threatening our countries or our allies in the region, especially Israel."

Pence also described ISIS as "perhaps the greatest evil of them all. It shows a savagery unseen in the Middle East since the Middle Ages ... the United States will fight tirelessly to crush these enemies -- especially ISIS and its so-called caliphate -- and consign them to the ash heap of history, where they belong."

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TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA,ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) -- A fourth suspect has been arrested in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong Un's half-brother.

Malaysian police said the suspect, identified as Ri Jong Chol, is a 46-year-old male and a North Korean citizen. He was arrested in the Malaysian state of Selangor on Friday, according to police.

Police allege that Kim Jong Nam was killed earlier this week by a poisoned spray at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport. Multiple reports from South Korean media outlets said he was sprayed by two women.

One of the three other suspects, a woman who is an Indonesian national, said she thought she was taking part in a TV prank and had sprayed other men's faces, Malaysian officials said according to police in Indonesia.

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MARK D. PHILLIPS/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The alleged mastermind behind the planned 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center has died in prison.

Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind cleric, was sentenced in New York in 1996 for planning numerous attacks in the 1990s.

He was suspected of planning other violent attacks in Egypt as well as famous New York landmarks.

The judge presiding over his trial said if his plans were carried out it would have cost thousands their lives.

According to the BBC News, Rahman's family announced his death on Saturday in Cairo.

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THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP/Getty Images(MUNICH) -- In a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Friday, Sen. John McCain said President Trump's administration was in "disarray," without mentioning the president's name.

McCain specifically referred to President Trump's former national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, who resigned following growing reports over his ties to Russia.

"I think that the Flynn issue obviously is something that, it shows, that in many respects this administration is in disarray, and they've got a lot of work to do," McCain said.

The Republican senator and chairman of the Armed Services Comittee also added that he was concerned by the U.S. and Europe turning away from "universal values" and that NATO's founders "would be alarmed by the growing inability, and even unwillingness, to separate truth from lies."

"They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent," McCain said.

He told the conference "you should not count America out," adding that the world "cannot be paralyzed by fear" becuase it is "exactly what our adversaries want."

Vice President Mike Pence is expected to address the conference on Saturday while the president is in Florida for a rally.

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TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images(KUALA LUMPUR) -- According to police in Indonesia, Malaysian officials said one of the suspects in the assassination of Kim Jong Un's half-brother thought she was taking part in a TV prank.

The woman, an Indonesian national who had reportedly gone to Malaysia for work, was part of a paid team of pranksters who asked men to close their eyes and spray their faces with water, Indonesian police said.

Kim Jong Nam is believed to have been killed on Monday at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport. Reports from South Korean media outlets said he was sprayed with poison by two unidentified women who fled the scene.

Two women, including one who was caught wearing a shirt with "LOL" on it, were arrested along with one man, according to BBC.

Malaysian officials believe according to Indonesian police that the two women had sprayed  several other men for the prank to earn money and that Kimg Jong Nam was the final target, BBC reports.

North Korea has demanded that Malaysia release the body, with the country's ambassador to Malaysia telling reporters Friday it wouldreject the autopsy results because they were not permitted to witness it. The ambassador said the fact that the body had not yet been handed over to the country “strongly suggests that the Malaysian side is trying to conceal something which needs more time and deceive us, and that they are colluding with the hostile forces towards us who are desperate to harm us."

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Morehead State University (MOREHEAD, Ky.) -- When the next Space-X rocket is launched on Saturday, the research of two Kentucky high school students will be on its way to outer space.

The research, conducted by students Will Casto and Danielle Gibsonon with a biology professor, focuses on what effect microgravity will have on the smooth muscle cells in rat hearts. Microgravity has been a part of space research since the first International Space Station expeditions.

Their community in the Appalachian Kentucky has a high rate of hypertension, or high blood pressure, which can be associated with heart problems. They hope this research will provide some new insights into what affects the conditions.

"If we get a set of raw data, the end goal is to see what changes and what happens," Gibson said.

"When they first approached me, I was hesitant" said Dr. Michael Fultz, their research mentor and a biology professor at Morehead State University. "But, Will and Danielle hit it off right away. They are go-getters and they are a pleasure to work with."

Dr. Carol Christian, Director of The Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, a high school on the Morehead campus where the two study, stressed how proud they are of their students and that the research has "exceeded expectations."

The two intrepid teenagers hope to see their research through until the summer -- that is, if the experiment on board the rocket survives through launch.

But, their ambitions stretch much further into the future.

"The end goal would be to end up in medical school studying oncology," Casto said, "because cancer rates are very high in the community where I am from."

Gibson hopes to pursue a career in biomedicine.

"This gives me a lot of hope," she said. "If I can do this at seventeen what else can I do?"

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NOAA(NEW YORK) -- We're taught in elementary school that there are seven continents on Earth -- Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America.

But geography textbooks across the world might have to add one more to that list -- Zealandia.

Zealandia is a continent that is 94 percent submerged underwater, which is why it took so long for geologists to identify it. The 6 percent that is above water comprises what many know as New Zealand and New Caledonia, according to a study in GSA Today, the journal of the Geological Society of America.

Zealandia spans almost 2 million square miles, a bit larger than India. And while the idea of a mostly submerged continent in the Pacific has been known in the science community for a while, it was only in the last two decades that researchers accumulated enough data and observations to classify it as the world's eighth continent.

In 1995, Bruce Luyendyk, a geologist teaching at the University of California Santa Barbara, coined the term “Zealandia” to describe New Zealand, New Caledonia and sections underwater that broke off from an ancient supercontinent, Gondwana.

“I wanted to just lump all of these masses together,” Luyendyk told ABC News Friday. “It was really just a convenient way to refer to this area.”

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