Officer hospitalized in UK spy poisoning case released from hospital

iStock/Thinkstock(SALISBURY, England) -- The police officer who was injured when responding to a poisoned former Russian spy earlier this month had been discharged from the hospital, U.K. authorities said.

Detective Sgt. Nick Bailey was hospitalized for several weeks in connection with the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter. Hospital officials and police announced Bailey's release Thursday afternoon in Salisbury, England.

"People ask me how I am feeling -- but there are really no words to explain how I feel right now," Bailey said in a statement released by police in Wiltshire, England. "Surreal is the word that keeps cropping up -- and it really has been completely surreal."

Earlier Thursday, a British judge gave doctors permission to take blood samples from former Russian spy Sergei Skirpal and his daughter Yulia following a special hearing in a specialist court in London.

The samples were being taken in order to be tested by chemical weapons investigators for nerve agent residue. Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were in the U.K. this week to investigate the Skripals' poisoning.

The United Kingdom's Court of Protection considered the decision because, according to the presiding judge, the Skirpals were unconscious and unable to give permission themselves.

The U.K. has accused Russia of being behind the poisoning of Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer who has been living in England, and his daughter. The Skirpals remain hospitalized. Russia has denied the allegations.

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Trump targets up to $60B in Chinese imports with new tariffs

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump announced Thursday his plans for tariffs on up to $60 billion annually in Chinese imports, designed as retaliation for an administration report that will outline Beijing’s violation of U.S. intellectual property rights.

“This is the first of many,” the president said as he signed a presidential memorandum directing the U.S. Trade Representative to publish a proposed list of products in 15 days along with an intended tariff increase, after which the list will be opened up for public comment.

Trump said he has spoken to China's President Xi Jinping about the actions and that he continues to have “tremendous respect” for him.

“We have a great relationship, " Trump said." They're helping us a lot in North Korea. And that's China. But we have a trade deficit, depending on the way you calculate, of $504 billion. Now, some people would say it's really $375 billion -- many different ways of looking at it. But any way you look at it, it is the largest deficit of any country in the history of our world. It's out of control.”

“The word is 'reciprocal,'" Trump said. "That's the word I want everyone to remember. We want reciprocal, mirror. Some people call it a mirror tariff," he said, adding that Thursday's action should have been taken years ago.

Primary sectors subject to the tariffs, according to the White House, will be aerospace, information communication technology, and machinery.

Earlier, an administration official briefing reporters said up to $50 billion in Chinese imports would be affected.

“Based upon the harm that is substantiated by the report, I think that about $50 billion is designed to offset the gains that the Chinese have received through their unfair trade practices,” the official said.

The memorandum directs the U.S. Trade Representative to file a dispute proceeding against China with the World Trade Organization aimed at targeting what the Trump administration is calling China’s “discriminatory licensing practices.” The president is also directing Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to propose within 60 days other potential executive actions he can pursue that will restrict investment by China in sensitive U.S. technology.

The announcement comes as the administration begins rolling out new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and as China has already threatened retaliatory actions against any punitive trade actions by the U.S. Economists have expressed growing worry that the president's heavy-handed moves could spark a trade war.

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Paris mayor proposes free public transport to reduce pollution

iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is proposing to make all public transportation in the city free in order to reduce air pollution, but opposition politicians are wondering who is going to foot the bill.

In an interview with French daily newspaper Les Echos earlier this week, Hidalgo, a member of the Socialist Party, announced that she asked "three of her assistants to conduct a large study on the subject, which will involve French and foreign experts."

“The question of free transport is one of the keys to urban mobility in which the place of pollution-causing cars is no longer central,” she said. “Many cities are looking into it.”

Valerie Pecresse, head of the Ile-de-France region around Paris and a member of the Conservative Party, criticized Hidalgo, pointing out that “ticket sales bring in 3 billion euros ($3.7 billion) a year."

"We need that money,” Pecresse told French Radio Classique, adding that if travelers did not pay, taxpayers would have to do so.

Hidalgo did not say how much her proposition would cost, how she would finance it and whether it would cover the 2.2 million people living inside Paris or all 12 million residents of the French capital and Ile-de-France region. The study is expected to start in the next few weeks, Hidalgo said.

Opposition parties pointed out that Hidalgo is already campaigning for her re-election in the 2020 municipal elections. “No doubt about it -- this is the start of the 2020 campaign,” Centrist Party member Alexandre Vesperini said.

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Two American tourists killed in helicopter crash in Australia

iStock/Thinkstock(NORTH QUEENSLAND, Australia) -- Australian police are investigating the cause of a "traumatic" helicopter crash in North Queensland that claimed the lives of two American tourists and injured three other individuals.

The tourists, a 65-year-old woman and a 79-year-old man, were visiting from Hawaii on Wednesday afternoon when the Airbus H120 crashed into a remote coral-viewing pontoon, killing them and injuring the others onboard, Queensland police said.

The remaining passengers -- a 34-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman from Colorado -- and the pilot were taken to the Australian mainland to be treated for nonlife-threatening injuries, police said.

"The four passengers are from the U.S. and are known to each other," Queensland State Police Inspector Ian Haughton said Thursday. "An independent, transparent and robust investigation is currently underway." That inquiry will involve the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

"This is a traumatic experience for anyone involved," he added.

Haughton could not provide any additional details about the crash or the surviving passengers, but he said the pilot, 35, had pulled one of the dead from the wreckage, while a witness on the scene performed CPR on others.

The helicopter operator, Whitsunday Air Services, said it is "devastated by this accident, and our thoughts and condolences are with the passengers and their families."

"At this early stage, we are unaware of how the accident occurred; however, we are providing the authorities with all of the relevant information to assist with answering their inquiries," the company said in a statement. "We are working to assist those affected by the accident where possible through the extensive support networks of Hamilton Island where the passengers were staying."

The company said it would suspend air-service operations "until a full review of the accident is undertaken."

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British wedding traditions you should know before the royal wedding

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Every culture has its own unique set of traditions for the big day -- and the Brits are no exception.

Britain's royal family exemplifies tradition, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s May 19 wedding will be the wedding of the year, filled with some well-known and some not-so-well-known British customs.

Here are a few aspects of a traditional British wedding experience that differ from standard practice in the U.S.

Bachelor and bachelorette parties have different names

In the U.K., a bachelor party is known as a "stag do," and a bachelorette party is called a "hen do" or hen party. Both are usually held over an entire weekend, sometimes even longer. Kate Middleton’s hen do was top-secret, but for her sister Pippa Middleton's hen do, the duchess of Cambridge reportedly took part in a weekend of skiing in the Alps.

Wedding breakfasts

Instead of a Saturday-night formal affair, many British weddings are usually held in the morning. Breakfast receptions after the ceremony are common.

Prince Harry and Markle's wedding will begin at noon local time, or 7 a.m. ET, at St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. After the carriage procession, the newlyweds will attend a reception where they will rejoin their wedding guests. Harry and Markle are expected to continue celebrating their marriage at an evening reception hosted by Harry's father, Prince Charles, for close friends and family, which is not open to the public.

Hats for the ladies

British women have serious hat game. (Remember Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie's eye-popping hats at Will and Kate's royal wedding in 2011?)

It's common tradition for all women attending a British wedding to accessorize their dress with a hat or a fascinator, a decorative headdress in place of a hat. They'll be worn throughout the entire ceremony and usually for an afternoon reception, but will be taken off during dinner or in the evenings.

Morning suits for the gents

In many British weddings, the men traditionally sport morning suits instead of a tuxedo. A morning suit is traditional British daytime formal dress consisting of a three-piece suit, including a morning coat with tails, a waistcoat and trousers.

Only men tend to make speeches at dinner

The father of the bride, the best man and the groom are typically the ones to give speeches at a British wedding, not the maid of honor. The whole point of the speeches is usually to embarrass the newlyweds as much as possible.

Here comes the bride -- first

The big reveal you often see in Hollywood films where the bride finally emerges last in the procession doesn't happen in the U.K. The bride typically walks down the aisle first -- and her bridesmaids will walk behind her, usually to hold the train of the dress.

Pippa Middleton turned heads at her older sister's 2011 royal wedding when she trailed her sister in a sleek white dress.

Royal family wedding traditions

There is always myrtle in the bride's bouquet -- a tradition dating back to Queen Victoria. It's believed that a spring of myrtle in all royal bridal bouquets are cut from the same myrtle shrub that grows in Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, a favorite retreat of Queen Victoria's.

Wedding bands contain Welsh gold

All royal wedding bands typically contain Welsh gold -- a tradition beginning in 1923 with the Queen Mother. Welsh gold is so rare that it can be valued up to 30 times more than standard gold. Welsh gold has a history of more than 2,000 years since the time of the Romans.

The wedding cake is typically made of fruit

While there are no hard and fast rules on the wedding cake, most British weddings have fruitcake. Prince William and Princess Kate served two cakes on their wedding day in 2011 -- a traditional eight-tier fruit cake created by chef Fiona Cairns and a chocolate biscuit cake from a Buckingham Palace recipe that was a favorite of William's as a child and also enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth.

Some couples even opt for pork pie wedding cakes.

Harry, 33, and Markle, 36, have broken with tradition in this regard, commissioning pastry chef Claire Ptak of London's Violet Bakery to create a lemon elderflower cake with buttercream icing and fresh flowers as decorations, according to Kensington Palace.

The Royal Marriages Act 1772 is repealed -- but there are still rules

The British government repealed legislation that previously dictated certain terms over royal marriages. With the Succession of the Crown Act of 2013, certain restrictions were changed, such as not allowing gender to decide the hierarchy of the throne. (Princess Charlotte, for example, will not be pushed further down the line of succession if Kate's next child is a boy.)

Some rules, however, remain. According to the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013, the first six people in line to the throne must obtain the consent of the queen before marrying.

The queen gave her consent for Harry and Markle's marriage on March 14. The consent is announced and marked with a letter to the Privy Council, the group of advisers to the Sovereign. Heirs to the throne may also marry a Roman Catholic -- something previously not allowed. However, Roman Catholics currently cannot ascend to the throne themselves, as the monarch is the head of the Church of England.

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London's iconic black cabs go electric

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The new breed of the iconic black cab has begun to make its silent way onto the roads of London.

Since the beginning of this year, new rules imposed by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, mean that every new taxi licensed must be “zero-emission capable," and according to the transport system Transport for London, 40 electric black cabs have already been licensed.

Officials hope the number will increase rapidly, with a target of 9,000 electric black cabs by 2020, and that the changes will significantly reduce pollution in London -- reducing taxis' contribution to nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 45 percent.

This week, Khan unveiled over 100 "rapid" electric car charging points, including 51 for the exclusive use of an electric cab model called the TX eCity.

The electric cab is “superior to the old one,” which runs on diesel, in every way, cabbie Peter Powell, told ABC News.

The old one was “very noisy, very uncomfortable” -- particularly for the driver -- he said, but the new taxi is “smooth” and “takes away all the stress.”

When asked if he’s recommending it to other taxi drivers, Powell immediately replied, “absolutely."

Similar changes are in place for London’s buses, where every new double-decker bus must be hybrid, hydrogen or electric.

In addition to about 2,500 hybrid buses already in place, there are five fully electric bus routes in London, with the target being that all of central London’s single-decker buses -- about 300 -- will be electric by 2020, according to Transport for London.

Over 9,000 Londoners die every year as a result of air pollution. About half of air pollution comes from road transport, which diesel cars contribute to disproportionately, according to the mayor's office. The old black cabs run on diesel.

London is 15th out of 36 major world cities in terms of air quality, more comparable to Beijing and Shanghai than European capitals like Vienna and Berlin, according to the British think tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

The company that makes London’s black cabs, London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), said they stopped making the old diesel version last summer because of the new rules.

The new taxi has a relatively small gas-powered engine in addition to the electric motor. The sole purpose of the petrol engine is to top up the electric motor if it runs low. In the pure electric mode, the taxi can go around 80 miles, with the range jumping to 377 miles with a range extender activated. That would give it an equivalent fuel economy of 217.3 miles per gallon, as opposed to the old taxi’s 33.2 miles per gallon, according to LEVC.

The average cabbie drives around 120 miles a day, a lot of which is their commute to get into London, meaning they should be able to be purely electric during their working day, according to LEVC.

This also saves the cabbies money. Powell reckons that the cost of charging his taxi and topping up the range extender is maybe $7, whereas fuel costs in the old cab were more like $32.

 As well as being more environmentally friendly, LEVC says the new cab is a more modern experience. There are now six seats in the back, up from five, phone and laptop charging points, WiFi and even a “panoramic roof.”

It is also significantly quieter. The diesel cab is a “much noisier” experience than its electrical offspring, so both driving and getting a ride in the electric cab is a far more pleasant experience, according to Powell.

The introduction of electric cabs closes an ironic circle. The first motorized cabs in London, back in 1897 were electric; they were nicknamed "Hummingbirds."

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2 Americans, 1 Russian on their way to International Space Station YORK) --  Two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut blasted off aboard a rocket early Wednesday morning on their way to the International Space Station.

The Soyuz booster launched from a launchpad in Kazakhstan at 1:44 a.m. EST.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are traveling to the ISS along with cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev.

The rocket placed their Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft into orbit and it is scheduled to dock on Friday.

They will join NASA's Scott Tingle, cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and Japan Aerospace Exploration agent Norishige Kanai, who are already on board the ISS.

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Most of the abducted schoolgirls return home in Nigeria, officials say

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Almost all of the 110 schoolgirls abducted by suspected Boko Haram fighters in northeast Nigeria last month have returned home, officials said Wednesday.

Suspected militants of the Nigeria-based jihadist group allegedly stormed the town of Dapchi in Yobe State on the night of Feb. 19 and snatched 110 students from an all-girls boarding school. Other students and teachers were able to escape the attack and flee into the surrounding brush, according to a statement from Yobe State government spokesman Abdullahi Bego.

More than a month later, at least 101 of the schoolgirls were freed by their captors early Wednesday morning, according to Nigeria's minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

"They were not dropped in one place. They were dropped on the road and they went back across Nigeria to their parents' houses," Mohammed told reporters in the capital of Abuja.

The girls were released "through back-channel efforts and with the help of some friends of the country," and their freedom was unconditional, according to a press release from the minister's spokesperson, Segun Adeyemi.

The minister said the use of military force and confrontation was "ruled out" during negotiations with the captors in order to ensure the girls' safety.

"It was agreed that there would be no force and no confrontation," Mohammed told reporters.

After reuniting with their families in Dapchi, the students were taken to a nearby general hospital where they received medical attention and psychosocial support, Mohammed said.

He added that the number of freed students could still increase as officials continue to document all those who were released.

A source at the general hospital in Dapchi told ABC News that they received and treated 103 of the freed schoolgirls on Wednesday.

However, one of the freed schoolgirls, Fatsuma Abdullahi, said five of her classmates at the Government Girls Science Technical College in Dapchi died while the kidnappers herded them into vehicles.

"They died while we were being taken because we were loaded like woods and people sat on them." Abdullahi said in a recorded telephone conversation released to reporters. The abducted students were then taken to an underground hideout, she said.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language, has routinely targeted schools since launching its brutal insurgency in northeast Nigeria in 2009. In April 2014, the group kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from their boarding school in the town of Chibok in Borno State, about 170 miles northeast of Dapchi. Some of the girls managed to escape on their own, while others were later rescued or freed following negotiations. But the fate of many of the girls still remains unknown.

Boko Haram, which seeks to establish an Islamic state, has spread its terror across Nigeria's mountainous borders over the years into Niger, Chad and Cameroon, all of which surround the Lake Chad Basin. The group's uprising was fueled largely through its systematic campaign of abducting children and forcing thousands of girls and boys into their ranks, according to a report issued in April 2017 by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

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Inventor again denies killing journalist aboard his submarine as murder trial resumes

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Danish inventor accused of killing a Swedish journalist aboard his submarine took the stand in Copenhagen today on the second day of his trial.

Peter Madsen, the inventor, is accused of tying up journalist Kim Wall and abusing her before killing her and dismembering her body. The charges include murder and indecent handling of a corpse. He is also charged with "sexual relations other than intercourse of a particularly dangerous nature" because stab wounds were discovered in and around Wall's genitals.

Madsen, who has given shifting explanations in the case, has pleaded guilty to the indecent handling of a corpse charge, but denies abusing and killing Wall and other charges, saying she died in an accident. In court today, he once again denied killing Wall. He also denied that he stabbed her while she was still alive or that the stab wounds were related to anything sexual.

During the first day of the trial on March 8, Madsen said that he dismembered Wall’s body because he was in denial and wanted to throw the body in the water, but that it was too heavy. Today he said that he stabbed the body to get gasses out so that the remains would sink, according to Danish media reports.

Prosecutors say that a cause of death is unknown, but that Madsen could have either strangled Wall or slit her throat. They are seeking a life sentence for Madsen.

A verdict is expected on April 25.

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What US students should know about traveling abroad in light of rugby player’s mysterious death in Bermuda

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Police are still investigating the mysterious death of Mark Dombroski, a U.S. student who disappeared in Bermuda this weekend during his college rugby team’s visit before his body turned up in a ditch.

Whatever the particular circumstances in the case, there’s no shortage of advice for U.S. students in need of tips for how to navigate other countries safely.

"Whether you are a young person or a parent of a young person, the advice is always the same,” said president Kris Holloway of CIS Abroad, which arranges study-abroad programs and international internships.

“Do you have each other's cellphone numbers? Have you created a plan to make sure you are watching out for each other? You have to talk to the locals of wherever you are going. Are there certain areas you want to avoid?"

Holloway also directs students to the U.S. State Department's website for additional guidance.

The State Department, with safety in mind, recently released a list of tips for people traveling for spring break, though they appear to be useful for any time of the year.

The agency recommends that people be informed about their destinations and familiarize themselves with the laws and customs there.

It also suggests that students be aware of travel advisories that may affect their trips.

The State Department encourages travelers to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, STEP, to make a connection with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. That makes it easier for travelers to be contacted in the event of an emergency.

Travelers also need to make sure their insurance covers them when they’re aboard, according to the State Department. Foreign hospitals and doctors can charge thousands of dollars for emergency treatment. The State Department also recommends that travelers look into buying supplemental insurance to cover unexpected expenses.

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