U.S. judge halts release of blueprints for 3-D printed guns

U.S. judge halts 3-D printed gun blueprints hours before planned release


(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Tuesday blocked the planned release of blueprints for 3-D printed guns hours before they were set to hit the internet, siding with several states that sued to halt publication of designs to make weapons that security screening may not detect.

U.S. President Donald Trump greets well wishers upon arriving at Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Florida, U.S., July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle said the blueprints’ publication could cause irreparable harm to U.S. citizens. The decision blocked a settlement President Donald Trump’s administration had reached with a Texas-based company, which initially said it planned to put files online on Wednesday.

But Josh Blackman, a lawyer for the company Defense Distributed, said during Tuesday’s hearing that blueprints had already been uploaded to the firm’s website on Friday.

The publication of those files is now illegal under federal law, Lasnik said.

“There are 3-D printers in public colleges and public spaces and there is the likelihood of potential irreparable harm,” Lasnik said at the end of a one-hour hearing on the lawsuit.

Defense Distributed and its founder Cody Wilson, a self-declared anarchist, argued that access to the online blueprints is guaranteed under the First and Second Amendment rights, respectively to free speech and to bear arms.

Lasnik said First Amendment issues had to be looked at closely and set another hearing in the case for Aug. 10.

Blackman told Reuters he was disappointed in the court’s ruling and the judge’s implication that Wilson as an anarchist would break the law.

“Mr. Wilson scrupulously obeys all court orders,” Blackman said, adding that he was awaiting the judge’s written order before deciding on further legal action.

Lasnik at the end of the hearing had said breaking the law was something “anarchists do all the time.”

Gun control proponents are concerned the weapons made from 3-D printers are untraceable, undetectable “ghost” firearms that pose a threat to global security. Some gun rights groups say the technology is expensive, the guns are unreliable and the threat is being overblown.

Eight states and the District of Columbia on Monday filed a lawsuit against the federal government, arguing it acted arbitrarily in reaching the June settlement.

The states said online blueprints would allow criminals easy access to weapons. They said the Trump administration had failed to explain why it settled the case and that its decision violated their ability to regulate firearms and keep citizens safe.

Eric Soskin, a lawyer for the U.S. State Department, told the judge on Tuesday that the government’s role in the case was that of a bystander.

Soskin said the State Department did not get involved in domestic gun regulation. He added that the State Department and other branches of the U.S. executive in May had decided to take the types of guns featured on Defense Distributed’s website off a list of weapons banned for export.

“As part of this decision, the United States has determined that the kind of guns you can go and buy in any store are not a threat to national security,” Soskin said of the settlement.

Defense Distributed’s files include 3-D printable blueprints for a plastic AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, a version of a weapon that has been used in many U.S. mass shootings.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump raised concerns about the sale of plastic guns made with 3-D printers.

Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York, Susan Heavey, Susan Cornwell in Washington; Steve Holland; Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Writing by James Dalgleish; editing by Phil Berlowitz and Grant McCool



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Eighty-five injured in Aeromexico plane crash in Mexico: authorities

About 85 injured in Aeromexico plane crash but no fatalities


MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – As many as 85 people were injured on Tuesday, two critically, when an Aeromexico-operated (AEROMEX.MX) Embraer (EMBR3.SA) passenger jet crashed soon after takeoff in Mexico’s state of Durango, but authorities said there were no fatalities.

A person watches as smoke billows above a site where an Aeromexico-operated Embraer passenger jet crashed in Mexico’s northern state of Durango, July 31, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. Francisco Javier Castrellon/via REUTERS

The mid-sized jet was almost full, with 97 passengers and four crew members aboard, when it came down at around 4 p.m. local time (2100 GMT), Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s minister for communications and transportation, wrote on Twitter.

“The plane was taking off,” Governor Jose Rosas Aispuro told Mexican television, adding that witnesses told him there was “a bang” and then without warning the plane was on the ground.

Smoke billows above a site where an Aeromexico-operated Embraer passenger jet crashed in Mexico’s northern state of Durango, July 31, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. Francisco Javier Castrellon/via REUTERS

TV images showed the severely damaged body of the plane after it came to rest in scrubland and a column of smoke rose into the sky.

The plane made an emergency landing about six miles (10 km) from the airport, Alejandro Cardoza, a spokesman for the state’s civil protection agency, said on local television. Other authorities said the crash was closer to the airport.

Cardoza said in an interview that around 85 people had been injured, adding that a fire resulting from the accident had been put out. The civil protection agency said 37 people were hospitalized, while the state health department said two passengers were in a critical condition.

The operator of Durango airport, Grupo Aeroportuario Centro Norte (OMAB.MX), attributed the crash to bad weather conditions, citing preliminary reports. The plane had barely taken off when it felt like it was hit by a strong air current, one passenger told network Televisa.

“Many managed to leave the plane on foot,” Cardoza said.

Aeromexico said on Twitter that flight number 2431 was an Embraer 190 bound for Mexico City when it crashed.

A spokesman for the Mexican airline declined to disclose the passenger list or the nationalities of those on board.

Embraer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote on Twitter that he had instructed the defense, civil protection and transportation ministries to aid in the response to the crash.

Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom; writing by Julia Love; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Tom Brown



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Facebook scraps accounts trying to influence November's U.S. elections

Facebook says it uncovered new meddling before 2018 U.S. elections


(Reuters) – Facebook Inc said on Tuesday it had identified a new coordinated political influence campaign to mislead its users and sow dissension among voters ahead of November’s U.S. congressional elections.

It said it had removed 32 pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram, part of an effort to combat foreign meddling in U.S. elections.

The company stopped short of identifying the source of the misinformation. But members of Congress who had been briefed by Facebook on the matter said the methodology of the influence campaign suggested Russian involvement.

“I can say I think with pretty high confidence I think this is Russian-related,” Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters at the U.S. Capitol.

Two U.S. intelligence officials told Reuters there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that Russia was behind the Facebook campaign, but one noted that “the similarities, aims and methodology relative to the 2016 Russian campaign are quite striking.”

A Russian propaganda arm tried to tamper in the 2016 U.S. election by posting and buying ads on Facebook, according to the company and U.S. intelligence agencies. In February, the U.S. Justice Department indicted 13 Russian nationals, and the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.

Moscow has denied involvement.

Facebook has been on the defensive about influence activity on its site and concerns over user privacy tied to long-standing agreements with developers that allowed them access to private user data.

‘ARMS RACE’

The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, which was shown the suspended pages ahead of the takedown, said they showed similarities in language and approach to previously fake accounts from the Internet Research Agency, which is known as the “troll factory” because it stirs up public opinion on social media sites.

The lab cited “consistent mistranslation, as well as an overwhelming focus on polarizing issues at the top of any given news cycle.” It said, for example, the posts on the year-old, feminist Resisters page “took a liberal or left-wing stance on issues around gender, race, immigration, and human rights.” Other pages promoted racial pride among minority groups.

The group said the Resisters page was alarming because it was pushing for confrontation at multiple protests, including against “Unite the Right 2,” with a potential for violence.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said on a call with reporters that the attempts to manipulate public opinion would likely become more sophisticated to evade Facebook’s scrutiny, calling it an “arms race.”

Dan Coats, the Trump administration’s director of national intelligence, said in a speech earlier this month that “the warning lights are blinking red again. Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.”

The White House said the administration was supportive of Facebook’s actions.

“We applaud efforts by our private-sector partners to combat an array of threats that occur in cyberspace, including malign influence,” said Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

U.S. President Donald Trump has come under fire for discounting the threat of interference in the congressional elections.

During his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki earlier this month, Trump appeared to state that he believed Russia was no longer trying to influence the U.S. election process.

Trump later amended that, saying he was “very concerned” about Russian interference in the election. On Friday, Trump held a meeting with his national security advisers on election security.

The Senate Intelligence Committee had previously scheduled a hearing on Wednesday addressing the online threat to U.S. election security.

DIVISIVE ISSUES

Facebook identified influence activity around at least two issues, including a counter-protest to the Unite the Right 2 rally set next week in Washington. The other was the #AbolishICE social media campaign aimed at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

In an online post, Facebook said it was disclosing the influence effort now in part because of the rally. A previous event last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to violence by white supremacists.

Facebook said it would tell users who had expressed interest in the counter-protest what action it had taken and why.

“This kind of behavior is not allowed on Facebook because we don’t want people or organizations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing,” the company said.

More than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the pages and about $11,000 had been spent on about 150 ads, Facebook said. The pages had created about 30 events since May 2017.

Facebook officials on a call with reporters said one known account from Russia’s Internet Research Agency was a co-administrator of one of the fake pages for seven minutes, but the company did not believe that was enough evidence to attribute the campaign to the Russian government.

The company previously said 126 million Americans may have seen Russian-backed political content on Facebook over a two-year period, and that 16 million may have been exposed to Russian information on the Instagram photo-sharing app.

Over the past several months, the company has taken steps meant to reassure U.S. and European lawmakers that further regulation is unnecessary. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg says the company has 20,000 people working to police and protect the site.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook logo is seen at a start-up companies gathering at Paris’ Station F in Paris, France on January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

Reporting by Joseph Menn and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru and Kevin Drawbaugh, Jonathan Landay and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Writing by Peter Henderson and James Oliphant; Editing by Grant McCool and Peter Cooney



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Jury chosen in trial of former Trump campaign chief Manafort

U.S. prosecutors tell jury ex-Trump campaign chief Manafort hid wealth


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday portrayed President Donald Trump’s onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort as someone who hid his wealth from political work in Ukraine, as the first trial began arising from an investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Manafort felt tax and banking laws did not apply to him, a prosecutor said in the government’s opening statement, telling the Virginia federal court jury he opened more than 30 bank accounts in three foreign countries to “receive and hide” income.

A defense lawyer painted a drastically different portrait of Manafort and made clear he will go after one of the government’s star witnesses, former Manafort associate Rick Gates. Gates pleaded guilty in February to conspiring against the United States and lying to investigators and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

“This case is about taxes and trust,” Manafort’s attorney Thomas Zehnle told jurors in his opening statement. “His trust in Rick Gates was misplaced,” Zehnle said, accusing Gates of embezzling millions of dollars from Manafort.

He asked Manafort to stand up and face the jury, calling him “a good man” and a talented political consultant.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all 18 criminal counts, which center on allegations that he hid much of the $60 million he earned in Ukraine in undisclosed overseas bank accounts and failed to pay taxes on it.

“A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him. Not tax, not banking law,” said prosecutor Uzo Asonye, a member of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team looking at Russian election meddling and whether any Trump campaign members coordinated with Moscow officials.

The government’s first witness following opening statements was Tad Devine, who recalled his work with Manafort in Ukraine to help pro-Russian political figure Viktor Yanukovych.

“It was a really incredible operation,” Devine said of Manafort’s work for Yanukovych, who became Ukraine’s president in 2010, was removed from power four years later and lives in exile in Russia.

A Manafort conviction would give momentum to Mueller, who has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies since the probe started 14 months ago. An acquittal would support efforts by Trump and his allies to portray the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

Trump denies any campaign collusion with Russia, and on Tuesday tried to make the case publicly that collusion would not be a crime anyway.

Prosecutors have said they will not present evidence of collusion at this trial. The charges against Manafort largely pre-date his five months of work for the Trump campaign, some of them as campaign chairman.

Trump has vacillated between showing sympathy for Manafort and trying to distance himself. Manafort attended a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians that is a focal point of Mueller’s probe.

EXTRAVAGANT LIFESTYLE

Earlier in the day, prosecutors and defense attorneys selected a 12-member jury to weigh Manafort’s fate. Four alternate jurors, three women and one man, also were chosen.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is shown in a court room sketch, as he sits in federal court on the opening day of his trial on bank and tax fraud charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S. July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Bill Hennessy

Manafort, 69, was seated in the courtroom wearing a dark suit, white shirt and tie.

Asonye said Manafort set up more than 30 bank accounts in overseas countries and funneled millions of dollars into them in order to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle. Asonye described how Manafort snapped up expensive real estate in the United States, spent millions of dollars on renovating his properties and more than a half million dollars on “fancy clothes.”

Three other former Trump aides, including Gates, have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller’s probe.

Prosecutors are seeking to provide details of Manafort’s work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, raising the possibility that new information about his Russian connections could emerge. Manafort has filed a motion to have details of that work excluded from trial.

Mueller was appointed by the U.S. Justice Department’s No. 2 official last year to take over an FBI investigation.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis made several jokes during the jury selection process, including about the quality of the lunches jurors will be provided. While many in the courtroom laughed, including Manafort’s lawyers, the defendant himself did not.

Manafort actively conferred with his lawyers during the jury selection process, writing and passing notes. Manafort’s wife, Kathleen, was sitting behind him in the courtroom.

Outside the courthouse, a handful of protesters displayed a life-sized puppet of Trump and held signs saying “Trump won’t do time for you,” “It’s Mueller time,” and “I like your new suit” alongside a photo of Manafort’s mug shot.

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The Virginia trial will be followed by a second one in Washington in September in which Manafort is charged with money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Reporting by Nathan Layne, Sarah N. Lynch and Karen Freifeld; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley, John Walcott; Writing by Warren Strobel; editing by Will Dunham and Grant McCool



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U.S. judge halts release of blueprints for 3-D printed guns

U.S. judge halts release of blueprints for 3-D printed guns


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Tuesday blocked the imminent release of blueprints for 3-D printed guns, hours before they were set to hit the internet, after several states sued to halt publication of designs to make weapons that security screening may not detect.

U.S. President Donald Trump greets well wishers upon arriving at Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Florida, U.S., July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle, Washington, said the blueprints’ publication could cause irreparable harm to U.S. citizens. The decision blocked a settlement President Donald Trump’s administration had reached with the Texas-based company, which planned to put files online on Wednesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump raised concerns about the sale of plastic guns made with 3-D printers.

Eight states and the District of Columbia on Monday filed a lawsuit to fight a June settlement between the federal government and Defense Distributed allowing the Texas-based company to legally publish its designs.

Gun control proponents are concerned the weapons made from 3-D printers are untraceable, undetectable “ghost” firearms that pose a threat to global security. Some gun rights groups say the technology is expensive, the guns are unreliable and the threat is being overblown.

Reporting by Susan Heavey and Susan Cornwell in Washington, DC, Steve Holland aboard Air Force One, Tina Bellon in New York and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by James Dalgleish and Phil Berlowitz



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Apple buybacks eclipse value of most S&P 500 companies

Apple buybacks eclipse value of most S&P 500 companies


(Reuters) – Apple Inc said on Tuesday it handed its shareholders $20 billion through share buybacks in the June quarter, bringing its tally this year to a record $43 billion and helping push its stock price to an all-time high.

A visitor uses his iPhone X to take photos of the stage at the Apple Worldwide Developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, U.S., June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

With a mountain of overseas cash freed up by last year’s sweeping U.S. corporate tax cuts, Apple’s share repurchases in the first half of calendar 2018 exceed the stock market value of almost three quarters of the companies in the S&P 500, including Ford Motor Co, Delta Air Lines Inc and Twitter Inc.

Apple’s share repurchases in the June quarter were only eclipsed in the history of the S&P 500 by Apple repurchasing $22.8 billion of its shares in the prior quarter, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices analyst Howard Silverblatt.

The recent pace of Apple’s buybacks, disclosed in a quarterly report that beat Wall Street’s expectations, could help support the iPhone maker’s stock as investors worry that some high-flying technology companies have become too expensive.

Confidence top-shelf technology and consumer stocks has been shaken in recent days following poor results from Facebook Inc and Netflix Inc .

Apple said in May it was adding $100 billion to its budget for buybacks. Its stock is up 16 percent in 2018, compared with the S&P 500’s 5 percent rise.

“I see the buybacks as a major determinant of near-term price appreciation,” said D.A. Davidson & Co analyst Thomas Forte.

Apple reported strong quarterly revenue and profits in its report after the bell, driven by sales of higher-priced iPhones and from services like the App Store.

Its stock rose 3.7 percent in extended trade to $197.34, a record high, putting its market capitalization at $954 billion, based on Apple’s share count at the end of the quarter. Apple is tickling at becoming the first publicly listed U.S. company valued at $1 trillion.

However, Apple’s quarterly filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, expected on Wednesday, might reveal that it further reduced its share count since the end of the quarter, which would mean its market capitalization is lower.

Apple also paid $3.7 billion in dividends during the quarter, bringing its total in the first half of calendar 2018 to $6.9 billion, the company said.

The decision to turn over record amounts of cash to shareholders was a direct result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Republican lawmakers in December.

Reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco and Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker



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U.S. insurers grilled on exposure to $4.7 billion J&J talc verdict

U.S. insurers grilled on exposure to $4.7 billion J&J talc verdict


(Reuters) – Wall Street is trying to figure out whether the U.S. insurance industry will bear any costs from a record $4.69 billion judgment against Johnson & Johnson awarded to customers and their families who claimed that asbestos-contaminated talc caused ovarian cancer.

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drugstore shelf in New York October 15, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Analysts have flagged talc litigation as a financial risk for insurers, including Travelers Companies Inc, Chubb Ltd and The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.

On company earnings calls in recent days, they peppered executives with questions about where exposure might lie. Many of the policies were written decades ago, and some liability may have been offloaded to reinsurers, making it hard to tell who might be on the hook for payments.

“I wanted to get a sense as to whether this is going to turn into a bigger deal and catch us by surprise,” said Buckingham Research Group analyst Amit Kumar, who asked about the issue during W.R. Berkley Corp’s call last week. “The J&J news prompted us to revisit this topic.”

J&J has repeatedly denied that its talc products, including its baby powder, contain asbestos or cause cancer.

Insurance executives have not given definitive answers, citing uncertainty about how litigation will play out or what role reinsurance might play. Policies that may cover asbestos liability were underwritten at least as far back as the 1970s.

“In J&J’s case, we would not be surprised if the plaintiffs’ bar found a way to trigger coverage under its old liability policies, which we think could lead to additional exposure for insurers,” Barclays analyst Jay Gelb wrote in a research note on Tuesday.

Travelers, Chubb and The Hartford may have exposure, Gelb said.

Representatives for Chubb, Travelers, the Hartford and W.R. Berkely declined to provide additional comments beyond their executives’ remarks during the calls.

Asked whether the J&J judgment is launching a new era of risk for insurers, Chubb Chief Executive Evan Greenberg said he is not concerned. He noted that asbestos litigation against different industries crops up every few years.

“It could have been Mongolian manufacturers who made floor tiles,” Greenberg said last week. “This gets a headline because it’s baby powder.”

The $4.69 billion verdict by a Missouri on July 12 is the largest judgment against J&J to date over decades-long allegations that its talc-based products cause cancer.

The New Jersey-based healthcare conglomerate has said it believes the verdict will not stand on appeal.

“We are confident that there are multiple grounds for reversal of this jury verdict and that, ultimately, the case will be reversed,” J&J Chief Executive Alex Gorsky said earlier this month.

The company has had previous success overturning large verdicts in cases alleging harm from its products.

J&J, which faces 9,000 cases nationwide over talc, stopped buying product liability coverage in 2005 because it was expensive and not widely available, according to a regulatory filing. Instead, it has a self-insurance program through a subsidiary, Middlesex Assurance Company Ltd, according to a filing and court documents.

J&J spokesman Ernie Knewitz did not respond to requests for comment on its insurance coverage.

It is unclear how much of a role reinsurance will play for insurers or J&J.

The Hartford entered a reinsurance pact with Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s National Indemnity Company in 2016 for asbestos and environmental claims. But the terms excluded coverage for “alleged connections between talc and ovarian cancer,” Hartford Chief Financial Officer Beth Bombara said during a conference call on Friday.

The Hartford spokesman Matthew Sturdevant declined further comment. Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chairman for insurance operations, Ajit Jain, declined to comment.

Other insurance executives said they have been monitoring talc litigation for years and will continue to do so.

“The general theme is to let the process play out,” Wells Fargo analyst Elyse Greenspan said in an interview.

Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Additional reporting by Tina Bellon and Trevor; Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Lauren LaCapra and Bill Berkrot



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U.S. remains returned by North Korea could take days or decades to identify

U.S. remains returned by North Korea could take days or decades to identify


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When the remains of Americans handed over by North Korea arrive in Hawaii on Wednesday, the U.S. military will begin a painstaking identification process that experts said could take from three days to two decades to complete.

Crew and officials from the United Nations Command and U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) secure UNC flags over transit cases of remains thought to be of U.S. soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, before returning them to the United States for further processing and identification, in Wonsan, North Korea, July 27, 2018. Picture taken on July 27, 2018. Courtesy U.S. Forces Korea/Handout via REUTERS

The 55 boxes, draped in the blue and white flag of the United Nations, are each small enough to be carried in one person’s arms.

They bear not only the remains thought to be of missing servicemen from the 1950-53 Korean War, but also a message of good faith made by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in June.

The remains within each box may not be those of a single person and are likely fragments of bones, said Paul Cole, an expert on recovery of soldiers missing in action and prisoners of war, who worked as a visiting scientific fellow at Hawaii’s Central Identification Laboratory where the boxes will land.

The commingling of remains reflects the violent impacts to which human beings are subjected in war.

A soldier carries a casket containing the remains of a U.S. soldier who was killed in the Korean War during a ceremony at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Pool

At the laboratory, work will be done to determine if the remains are human. Then experts will count the bones and come up with a minimum number of individuals that could be in the shipment.

Each bone, or fragment, offers a clue. The femur indicates height, the pelvis age, the face and skull national origin. The clavicle and teeth offer some of the best comparison to the personnel file the Department of Defense keeps of missing servicemen, said Cole, author of the book “POW/MIA Accounting: Searching for America’s Missing Servicemen in the Soviet Union.”

SIX DECADES OF WAITING

When bones meet the size requirement, the lab will cut and send a piece to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, where it will be analyzed and compared to family reference samples.

If the bone is too small, DNA analysis cannot be done. Federal law prohibits the destruction of evidence in testing, and DNA analysis destroys the bone, said Cole.

Those kinds of challenges can drag out the process by many years.

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“Problems such as inability to get DNA from bones and lack of a DNA reference sample from the family can be major stumbling blocks,” said Chuck Prichard, director of public affairs for the Defense POW/MIA Personnel Accounting Agency, the U.S. military’s main unit for finding and identifying missing members.

The identification process does not prove the bones belong to one person, but rather that they could not belong to anybody else, Cole said. Sometimes all families receive are fragments small enough to fit in the palm of a hand.

Still, the mission is loaded with expectations and political weight.

Trump last week thanked Kim for keeping the promise he made as part of their talks about North Korea’s denuclearization.

“And I’m sure that he will continue to fulfill that promise as they search and search and search,” said Trump, who has sent Vice President Mike Pence to Hawaii to receive the remains.

The U.S. State Department said this month it would resume joint field activities to search for the remains of Americans missing from the war. A total of 5,300 American servicemen are believed to have been lost in what is now North Korea.

Gail Embery first found out when she was about 10 years old that her father, Sergeant Coleman Edwards, had gone missing in Korea. She is hopeful that her father’s remains are among those arriving on Wednesday.

“I always knew that I would have to find my father. I always knew it in my heart,” Embery said. “I’m 73 now, and I am still looking.”

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Mary Milliken and James Dalgleish



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Shell, Petrobras units probed for Brazil price-fixing

Shell, Petrobras units probed for Brazil price-fixing


RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazil’s three largest fuel distribution companies are under investigation for fixing prices at the pump, police said on Tuesday, reigniting debate over potential collusion among gas station owners in Latin America’s largest oil producer.

A Shell logo is seen at a gas station in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

The firms targeted by the probe are Petrobras Distribuidora SA (BRDT3.SA), a subsidiary of state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4.SA); Ipiranga, a unit of Ultrapar Participações SA (UGPA3.SA); and Raízen, a Cosan SA (CSAN3.SA) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.AS) joint venture.

Police in the southern state of Parana were serving eight arrest warrants and 12 search and seizure warrants in connection with the probe in the city of Curitiba, the state capital, according to police.

The probe comes two months after Brazil’s economy was paralyzed by a trucker strike over soaring diesel fuel prices. While the government resolved that protest with new subsidies and other measures, antitrust regulators also raised concerns about a lack of competition in the highly concentrated sector.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of state-run oil company Petrobras is pictured in the company headquarters in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

Police said they were targeting managers and sales representatives of the three firms in the investigation, which has been underway for over a year.

They accused the fuel distribution companies of dictating the prices at the pump charged by individual gas station owners, a violation of Brazilian market rules that the owners should have freedom to set prices freely.

Shares in Petrobras Distribuidora, Ultrapar, and Cosan all tumbled at least 3.5 percent in late morning trade, dragging Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa index .BVSP down some 1.3 percent.

To make sure the dictated prices were being applied by the gas station owners, the distribution companies hired people to ride motorbikes around the city of Curitiba to take pictures of the gas stations and their pricing banners, according to police.

Petrobras Distribuidora, also known as BR Distribuidora, said in a statement that it follows “the best commercial, competitive and ethical practices toward the consumer” and demands the same behavior from its partners and workforce.

Raizen said in a statement fuel prices were set by individual gas station owners with no interference from the distributor.

“The company operates in total conformity with applicable legislation and always acts toward the consumer in a competitive way and in favor of free competition,” it said in a statement. In a statement late on Tuesday, Raizen said it had access to the probe late in the day and was considering information provided by the investigation reports.

Ipiranga said that it “does not incentivize illegal practices,” and that it operates in compliance with competition regulations.

The three companies under investigation together control more than two-thirds of the national fuel distribution market, according to data from oil regulator ANP.

The operation is the latest effort by Brazilian authorities to clamp down on collusion and price fixing in the fuel distribution market, which has been the most common target of accusations for cartel behavior by antitrust watchdog Cade.

The government had asked Cade earlier this year to investigate fuel stations for potential anticompetitive practices that could account for the large spread between fuel prices at refineries and at pumps.

Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Additional reporting by Bruno Federowski in Brasilia; Writing by Ana Mano; Additional writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Frances Kerry, Christian Plumb, Jonathan Oatis and Diane Craft



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Eighty-five injured in Aeromexico plane crash in Mexico: authorities

Eighty-five injured in Aeromexico plane crash in Mexico: authorities


MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Eighty-five people were injured on Tuesday, some seriously, when an Aeromexico-operated (AEROMEX.MX) Embraer (EMBR3.SA) passenger jet crashed just after takeoff in Mexico’s state of Durango, but authorities said nobody died in the accident.

A person watches as smoke billows above a site where an Aeromexico-operated Embraer passenger jet crashed in Mexico’s northern state of Durango, July 31, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. Francisco Javier Castrellon/via REUTERS

The operator of Durango airport, Grupo Aeroportuario Centro Norte (OMAB.MX), attributed the crash to bad weather conditions, citing preliminary reports.

Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom; writing by Julia Love; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Tom Brown



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