The 12 U.S. Marines who went missing on Jan. 14 after their helicopters crashed off the coast of Oahu have been officially declared dead. The Marine Corps said the status of the Marines was changed to deceased on Wednesday, following five full days of search and rescue operations.
The two CH-53E helicopters were on a nighttime training mission and never returned to the base at Kaneohe Bay. A civilian standing on a beach reported seeing the helicopters, then a fireball. Hours after the Marines went missing, debris was spotted two-and-a-half miles off of Oahu. The Associated Press
US East Coast prepares for powerful winter storm
Flights are being canceled, states are declaring emergencies, and residents are stocking up on food and supplies as the East Coast braces for a potentially historic winter storm. The storm could drop as much as 30 inches of snow in some areas, and the National Weather Service put Washington D.C. and Baltimore under blizzard warnings from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced it would suspend operations late Friday through Sunday; public schools in the capital will be shut down on Friday; and at least 300 Virginia National Guard troops are being called in to assist with any emergency operations. FlightAware.com reports that so far, 951 flights scheduled for Friday have been canceled, primarily at airports in Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
Federal employees in the Washington area were told their offices would close at noon on Friday to allow them to get home safely before the snow begins piling up in the afternoon. Public schools were canceled. CNN reports 4500 flights are canceled before the storm. Reuters CNN
North Korea arrests US student
North Korea says it has arrested a US student accused of committing a “hostile act” against the state. State news agency KCNA identified him as University of Virginia student Otto Frederick Warmbier.
He had entered North Korea as a tourist with the intention “to destroy the country’s unity”, said KCNA, which added that the US government had “tolerated and manipulated” him. It did not give further details, but said he was now under investigation.
An official at the US embassy in the South Korean capital, Seoul, told Reuters it was aware of the arrest. North Korea sometimes uses the detention of foreigners as a means of exerting pressure on its adversaries. BBC
Asian and European stocks surged Friday, following the lead of U.S. markets, after Europe’s top banker hinted at fresh stimulus measures.
Tokyo’s Nikkei led the way, ending up nearly 6 percent. Hong Kong added almost 3 percent. Seoul closed 2 percent higher. Sydney, Taipei, Singapore and Manila also saw major gains. In early Europe trading, London gained 1.6 percent, while Frankfurt and Paris added 2 percent. The gains come after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi on Thursday raised hopes for some additional economic stimulus at the bank’s meeting in March.
Investors were also encouraged after oil prices rose slightly Thursday. Markets have slumped since the beginning of 2016 on concerns about plummeting oil prices, slowing economic growth in China and worries about the global economy. VOA News
Former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced Thursday to a full 263 years in prison for a series of rapes and sexual assaults against black women.
Holtzclaw was charged in December on 18 separate counts of rape, sexual battery, forcible sodomy, and procuring lewd exposure; 13 different women, all black, came forward as accusers. “The trauma affected every aspect of my being,” one victim identified as J.L. said before the judge announced the sentence. “I ask he receive the entire 263 years.” Talking Points Memo via The Week
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