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Nation and World briefs for August 12

Trump says he won’t rule out military response to Venezuela

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday that he wouldn’t rule out military action against Venezuela in response to the country’s descent into political chaos following President Nicolas Maduro’s power grab.

Speaking to reporters at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, Trump bemoaned the country’s growing humanitarian crisis and declared that all options remain on the table — including a potential military intervention.

“We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option,” Trump volunteered, adding, “A military operation and military option is certainly something that we could pursue.”

Trump’s comment mark a serious escalation in rhetoric for the U.S., which has up until now stressed a regional approach that encourages Latin American allies to escalate pressure on the Maduro regime. Hours before Trump’s comments, a senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity stressed that approach while briefing reporters on Vice President Mike Pence’s upcoming trip to the region later this week.

The Trump administration has slapped a series of sanctions against Maduro and more than two dozen current and former Venezuelan officials in response to a crackdown on opposition leaders and the recent election of a constitutional assembly charged with rewriting the country’s constitution.

Kenyatta declared winner of disputed Kenya presidential vote

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner Friday of Kenya’s hard-fought presidential election, but opposition candidate Raila Odinga alleged the voting was rigged.

In announcing the results of Tuesday’s contest, the election commission said Kenyatta won a second term with 54 percent in balloting it called “credible, fair and peaceful.”

Hundreds of riot police were in the streets of the capital, Nairobi, amid fears of further protests by opposition supporters, who called the vote a “charade” and said challenging the outcome in court wasn’t an option.

Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s first president after independence from Britain, appealed for calm and unity after the bitter campaign.

“Kenya belongs to all of us,” he said. “Let us shun violence and let us refuse to be used for short-term political gain.”

Navy: Only woman in SEAL training pipeline drops out

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The only woman in the Navy SEAL training pipeline has dropped out, a Navy special warfare official confirmed Friday.

The female midshipman voluntarily decided to not continue participating in a summer course that’s required of officers who want to be selected for SEAL training, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Walton, a Naval special warfare spokesman, told The Associated Press. The Navy has not released the woman’s name, part of a policy against publicly identifying SEALs or candidates for the force.

No other woman has started the long process required to become a Navy SEAL, Walton said.

Another woman has set her sights on becoming a Special Warfare Combatant Crewman, another job that recently opened to women. They often support the SEALs but also conduct missions of their own using state-of-the art, high-performance boats. She has started the various evaluations and standard Navy training.

Officials have said it would be premature to speculate when the Navy will see its first female SEAL or Special Warfare Combatant Crewman.

Tillerson says diplomats in Havana suffered ‘health attacks’

HAVANA (AP) — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that U.S. diplomats in Havana had been the victims of “health attacks” that left them with hearing loss — the most definitive U.S. statement yet on a series of mysterious incidents that have puzzled longtime observers of U.S.-Cuban relations.

His comments came two days after the State Department issued a vaguely worded statement saying there had been “incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms.” U.S. officials later revealed that American diplomats had suffered unexplained losses of hearing, and on Thursday Canada’s government said at least one Canadian diplomat in Cuba also had been treated for hearing loss.

“We hold the Cuban authorities responsible for finding out who is carrying out these health attacks on not just our diplomats but, as you’ve seen now, there are other cases with other diplomats involved,” Tillerson said in Bedminster, New Jersey, where President Donald Trump and members of his administration spoke to reporters.

In the fall of 2016, a series of U.S. diplomats began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the case. Some of the diplomats’ symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, the officials said.

The officials told The Associated Press that the hearing loss appeared to have been caused by the deliberate use of some sort of sonic device operating outside the range of audible sound.

Police: Hair stylist slain in Chicago stabbed over 40 times

CHICAGO (AP) — A hair stylist suffered more than 40 stab wounds to his upper body in a fatal attack last month in the high-rise Chicago condo of a Northwestern University professor, police said Friday.

The since-fired professor, Wyndham Lathem, and Oxford University financial officer Andrew Warren were arrested in the San Francisco area eight days after 26-year-old Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau was found dead last month.

Cornell-Duranleau suffered “lacerations and mutilations to his body, his upper body, but not to the point of decapitation,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. He described the attack as “certainly very intense.”

Authorities have said the attack on Cornell-Duranleau, a Michigan native who moved to Chicago last year, was so brutal that the blade of the knife investigators believe was used in the stabbing was broken. When police found him, he had already been dead for at least 12 hours.

Guglielmi said police believe there might have been some tension in Lathem and Cornell-Duranleau’s relationship.

Amateur Danish sub sinks, inventor held on murder charge

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The owner of an amateur-built submarine was arrested on suspicion of murder Friday after his vessel sank off Denmark’s coast and a journalist who had joined him for what was supposed to be a short voyage was reported missing, Copenhagen police said.

Police said in a statement Friday night that the man denied killing the missing woman and reported dropping her off on a redeveloped island in Copenhagen’s harbor about 3 ½ hours into their Thursday night trip.

The statement did not identify the submarine’s owner, Peter Madsen, 46, but the Danish inventor’s financing of the project through crowdfunding and first launch of the UC3 Nautilus in 2008 made headlines.

The 40-ton, nearly 18-meter-long (60-foot-long) vessel has been described as the largest privately built submarine of its kind.

Before his arrest, Madsen appeared on Danish television to discuss the submarine’s sinking and his rescue. It was the journalist’s boyfriend who alerted authorities early Friday that the sub had not returned from a test run, police said.

 

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