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Friday
May252018

Brazilian grandparents convicted in high-profile Texas kidnapping case

iStock/Thinkstock(SAO PAULO) -- A federal jury in Texas on Friday found a Brazilian couple guilty of helping their daughter kidnap a Houston doctor's son and take him to Brazil, where the child remains, but declined to convict them of a related conspiracy charge.

The split verdict came five years into Houston doctor Chris Brann's campaign to retrieve his son Nicolas, now 8, from Brazil, where his ex-wife Marcella Guimaraes took him for a temporary trip in July, 2013 and failed to return.

The child's Brazilian grandparents, Carlos Otavio Guimaraes and Jemima Guimaraes, sat in stunned silence as federal judge announced the verdict, following three and a half days of jury deliberations.

With Brann's permission, their daughter took Nicolas, known as "Nico," to Brazil for a 2013 family wedding and refused to return. She successfully petitioned a Brazilian court that year to grant her sole custody, and enrolled her son in a local Brazilian school.

Brann has said he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in an effort to get his son back, and has sought the help of the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Hague Abduction Convention - a 1988 international agreement that seeks to facilitate the return of children removed in violation of custody agreements from their "habitual residences."

Both the U.S. and Brazil are signatories to that agreement, but in a 2017 report, the State Department said that Brazilian “judicial authorities...persistently failed to regularly implement and comply with the provisions of the Convention.”

Last year, federal prosecutors in Texas filed a criminal complaint seeking the arrests of the grandparents and their daughter, and earlier this year the grandparents were arrested when they arrived at a Miami, Florida airport to attend the birthday party of a different grandchild.

Like his daughter Marcella, Carlos Guimareas is a dual Brazilian-American citizen and holds two passports. He and his wife surrendered their passports to U.S. authorities during an earlier bond hearing.

Marcella Guimareas - who could not immediately be reached for comment - and Nicolas have remained in Brazil, out of reach of U.S. authorities, since 2013.

Brann told ABC News on Friday that he had mixed emotions about the verdicts.

“I never wanted it to come to this and the only thing I want is for my son to come home," he said. "I hope they will take responsibility for their actions and do everything they can do have him come home as soon as possible.”

The convicted couple will remain under house arrest at the Houston home of their son, Roberto Guimaraes, pending sentencing. They face up to three years in prison.

In a separate statement issued after the split verdict, Brann said that "this is an incredibly sad day for me" and vowed to advocate for a lenient sentence for the grandparents if his son is immediately returned to the U.S.

"Despite all the cruelty they have heaped on my extraordinary son Nico, by obstructing his relationship with me, Nico remains my sole concern.

"If my ex-wife Marcelle returns with Nico to the United States immediately, I will happily appear at the Guimarães' sentencing hearing to advocate maximum leniency."

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Friday
May252018

'Pain au chocolat' vs 'chocolatine': Pastry-name war heading to French Parliament

iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Should one of the best known French pastries be called chocolatine or pain au chocolat? This is a debate that has been going on for decades in France. A group of right-wing French MPs are bringing the question to the French National Assembly as they are fighting to promote the term chocolatine.

A vast majority of French people, as well as tourists visiting the country, use the word "pain au chocolat" when ordering the French puff pastry with chocolate inside. But in the southwest region of France, people call it ‘chocolatine’ and see it as a source of regional pride.

A group of 10 French Parliament members are proposing an amendment giving official status to chocolatine.

The change would "give value to the customary name and fame of a product," the proposed amendment says. "This would, for example, be the case for the chocolate pastry whose name has historically been rooted in the Gascon region, and which is the pride of all southwestern France: the chocolatine."

The debate has been trending on social media in France, with some commentators mocking the amendment, saying French MPs probably have more urgent topics to discuss than the question of the appellation of a pastry. Other joked about the ongoing debate, with one writing: “I respect chocolatine and pain au chocolat: THEY HAVE THE SAME TASTE!”

This amendment is to be discussed at the French National Assembly by May 30. According to Jean-Baptiste Moreau, member of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party, it has “little chance” of being adopted. It will compete for debating time with more pressing issues such as banning pesticides and introducing cameras into abattoirs to prevent animal mistreatment.

The semantic battle over the name of the pastry might very well continue to divide France.

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Friday
May252018

South Koreans expect US-North Korea summit to take place 'eventually' despite cancellation

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Many South Koreans were shocked when President Trump called off the June 12 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Many also believe the historic summit could still happen.

“Eventually, Kim Jong Un has no other choice but to come and meet Trump,” Kenneth Choi, an international editor for a South Korean newspaper Chosun-ilbo, told ABC News. “President Trump left a little opening door [for the meeting] at the end of his letter.”

Kim Ye-jin, who participates in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in Chung-ang University, said, “Although the meeting was put off, I still think there is hope for peace.”

Paul Lee, a former youth organizer, said Kim wants the meeting because "he needs to seek legitimacy."

"This would be a great loss for [North Korea] to suddenly quit the summit," he added.

Some pointed out that Trump’s way of abruptly calling off the summit went too far.

“It was like Trump canceling a dinner reservation,” Kim Sung-min, who represents a group of progressive and liberal university students, told ABC News. “One-way cancellation of a summit between the leaders of two countries seemed like an irresponsible act to me.”

Freelance reporter Youn Sang-un said he was surprised by North Korea's response.

“You never expect that soft stance from the dictatorship regime,” he said.

In a statement, Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's vice minister of foreign affairs, said his country feels great regret for the unexpected cancellation and that he and other government officials would still like to meet with U.S. representatives "any time."

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Friday
May252018

3 in stable condition after IED detonated at restaurant

iStock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Three people earlier listed in critical condition after an explosion a restaurant in Canada have been upgraded to stable condition, authorities confirmed to ABC News.

At least 15 people were hurt around 10:30 p.m. local time when an improvised explosive device was detonated at Bombay Bhel Indian, according to authorities in Mississauga, a city immediately southwest of Toronto.

The three severely injured individuals were taken to a trauma center in Toronto, police said.

Peel Regional Police said they're still currently looking for two male suspects who fled the scene.

One suspect was described as 5-foot-10 to 6-feet tall, stocky, mid-20s, light skin and he was wearing blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie and a baseball cap. His face was covered with a black cloth.

The other suspect was described as 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-10, fair skin, thin and he was wearing faded blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie, a gray T-shirt and dark-colored skate shoes. His face was covered.

The investigation is ongoing and, at this time, the attack is not being treated as terrorism or a hate crime, police said.

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Thursday
May242018

First photos purporting to show demolition of North Korean nuclear site unveiled

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL) -- Photos released by North Korean state media purporting to show the demolition of North Korea's nuclear test site earlier Thursday.

At Thursday's Pentagon briefing, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said the U.S. is assessing the pictures of what happened.

"We're looking at pictures of it right now," said McKenzie. "And we don't have a final assessment, they obviously did some visible destruction of the entrance to the tunnel. I don't have a better answer for you than that right now."

Journalists from around the world flew from Beijing to Wonsan, on the east coast of North Korea, Tuesday and were taken on a long journey to the nuclear site near the village of Punggye-ri.

North Korean state media previously reported the dismantlement process would involve "collapsing all of its tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts" and that foreign media were invited to cover the event to show the process in a "transparent manner."

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Thursday
May242018

Pompeo blames North Korea for summit cancellation, but still hopeful it will happen

Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration is blaming North Korea for President Donald Trump canceling his summit with Kim Jong Un, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying the country's recent rhetoric showed they were unprepared to meet.

"We did not walk away from this," Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday. "I regret the statements that the North Koreans have made over the past few days and the fact that we've not been able to conduct the preparation between our two teams that would be necessary to have a chance for a successful summit."

But Democrats weren't buying it, arguing the administration had mishandled the opportunity, blaming tough talk from top officials for sending the wrong message to Pyongyang.

"The art of diplomacy is a lot harder than the art of the deal," said the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

President Trump released a letter this morning, which the State Department had transmitted to North Korea and Kim Jong Un, saying he was canceling their meeting scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. He cited "the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement" and said the cancellation was "for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world."

North Korea had released a statement Thursday that bashed Vice President Mike Pence for "ignorant and stupid" comments, in which he cited the so-called "Libya model" for North Korea's denuclearization and said the U.S. still has the military option for solving the North Korean crisis on the table.

In 2003, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi agreed to give up his nuclear weapons in exchange for normalized relations with the U.S., but to many, including North Korea, the model includes Gaddafi's overthrow, aided by western airstrikes, and his violent death seven years later.

"We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us. Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States," said Choe Son-hui, a vice foreign minister, in a statement on North Koran state television KCNA.

Trump seemed to respond directly to that threat of war in his letter, writing, "You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used."

But Pompeo, who read the letter at the top of the hearing, said plans for the summit had begun to fall apart over the few days, with the administration getting "a lot of dial tones" when reaching out to North Korea. That includes a planning meeting in Singapore last week where the North Koreans did not show up, according to a senior White House official.

"Over the past many days we have endeavored to do what Chairman Kim and I had agreed, was to put teams, preparation teams together to begin to work to prepare for the summit, and we have received no response to our inquiries from them," Pompeo said.

Democrats blamed a lack of understanding of North Korea and multiple references by Pence and National Security Adviser John Bolton to the "Libya model."

"The 'Libya model' as Kim Jong Un has been interpreting it is where leader surrenders their nuclear capability only to then be overthrown and killed," said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. "Why would you think that there would be any other interpretation than what happened to Gaddafi at the end of his denuclearization, which is that he wound up dead? Why think that that would not, in fact, elicit hostility from a negotiating partner only three weeks from sitting down across the table?"

Pompeo rejected that argument, saying in his conversations with Kim, he made clear the U.S. would provide security assurances long after they struck a deal. Pompeo has met Kim twice, as CIA Director and Secretary of State – the highest-ranking U.S. official to do so, meeting for more than three hours in total.

Pompeo also denied that the administration did not know what it was doing, saying, "The American team is fully prepared. I think we are rockin'. I think we are ready. I think we are prepared for this meeting."

With the summit scrapped, for now, the international sanctions regime will remain in place, with the goal of getting the two leaders to sit down at some point, according to Pompeo, who said there were no signs China was violating the United Nations sanctions in any "serious" way.

But those partners in the sanctions campaign were surprised by Trump's letter and sudden cancellation, and there are questions now about whether it will crack the global pressure on North Korea. Pompeo declined to say whether the administration gave South Korea or others a heads-up.

At the White House Thursday, Trump threatened military action, saying the Pentagon "is ready if necessary," although he declined to say if the breakdown of the summit raises the risk of war.

But Pompeo said he was "still optimistic" there could be a diplomatic solution: "The diplomacy this administration has engaged in has gotten us this far. I am confident that we will move forward in a way that will continue to give us the opportunity to achieve this," he said.

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Thursday
May242018

South Korea 'baffled,' 'very regretful' over Trump's cancellation of North Korea summit

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL) -- South Korea President Moon Jae-in says he is "baffled and very regretful" that President Donald Trump cancelled the planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore that had been set for June 12.

South Korea did not have any advance notice and was caught off guard Thursday by the cancellation, according to the country's presidential office.

Urging both leaders to resolve the issue "by direct and closer conversations," Moon noted that "it is difficult to solve the sensitive and difficult diplomatic problems through the current way of communication," the presidency, called the Blue House, said in a statement.

"Denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and permanent peace is a historic task that could not be given up, nor delayed," he said in the statement after an hour-long emergency National Security Council meeting.

Trump said in a letter to Kim Thursday that it would be "inappropriate" to hold the summit next month as planned because of what he called "tremendous anger and open hostility" in a statement this week from a North Korean official.

The cancellation, Trump said in remarks later in the day, was a "tremendous setback for North Korea and, indeed, a setback for the world."

There were split opinions among residents in South Korea on the cancellation of the summit, some backing up Trump's surprising move Thursday.

“Trump said he won’t have talks? Why?” A food vendor named Choi Young-sook asked. “I think [Trump] cancelled the meeting because he expects more from North Korea. He is trying to get a head start.”

“President Trump showed off his negotiating skills this time, by not being swayed by North Korea’s continuous threats and breaking promises,” said Cho Youngtak, a psychiatry resident in Asan Medical Center in South Korea. “In the long term, the decision will bring South Korea and U.S. to a better position in bargaining.”

Meanwhile, some people were frustrated that the historic meeting was called off.

“I thought [the] North Korea-U.S. summit would bring peace to Korea,” a college student Lee Myoung Suk said. "It would have ended in a greater peace if South Korea joined for a three-party talk."

“But when will be the appropriate time?” a Malaysian student attending a South Korean university asked, while a local engineer added, “There is always turmoil, so sooner is better than later.”

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Thursday
May242018

President Trump cancels summit with North Korea

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump in a letter directly to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday announced that he is canceling the much anticipated nuclear summit, calling it a "truly sad moment in history."

"Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place."

The White House

The president's letter comes after North Korea issued a statement calling Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" for comments he made suggesting that the so-called Libya model could be applied to North Korea if Kim doesn't make a deal with President Trump and threatening to pull out of the summit.

At the U.S.'s urging, under the leadership of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Libya, nixed its early-stage nuclear program. Years, later he was ousted and killed with help from NATO-backed troops.

"Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States," the North Korean statement read.

In an apparent response to the North Korean threat, the president issued a threat of his own in his letter — warning about the United States' "massive" nuclear capabilities.

"You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used," Trump writes.

In the letter, the president leaves open the possibility of meeting at a future date, telling Kim to reach out to him directly by phone or letter if he decides he would like to meet.

"Someday, I look very much forward to meeting you," Trump writes. "If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write."

Later in the day, Trump spoke further about the summit's cancelation calling it a "tremendous setback for North Korea and, indeed, a setback for the world".

He also said that he has spoken with Defense Secretary James Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to ensure the U.S. military "is ready if necessary".

Asked by ABC News if the breakdown of the summit raises the risk for war with North Korea, Trump would not answer definitively.

"We'll see what happens," Trump said. "I really think they want to do what's right."

In the president's letter to Kim, Trump referenced "wonderful dialogue [that] was building up between you and me," raising the potential question of whether the president had spoken directly to Kim in recent weeks. The White House and President Trump have thus far refused to say whether there has been any direct contact between the two.

In his comments to reporters, the president expanded saying "there's been a very good working relationship" with Kim but lamented about how it recently seemed to spiral downward.

The president would not elaborate further, though earlier in the week he suggested Chinese President Xi Jinping may have privately urged Kim in a recent meeting to take a tougher stance in negotiations with the U.S.

"I will say I'm a little disappointed, because when Kim Jong-un had the meeting with President Xi, in China," Trump said Tuesday. "I think there was a little change in attitude from Kim Jong-un."

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Thursday
May242018

'Billions' in treasure found on 18th century shipwreck to be displayed in Colombia 

iStock/Thinkstock(CARTAGENA, Colombia) -- Billions of dollars worth of treasure and spoils from an 18th century shipwreck, found by a robotic submarine, will be put on display in Colombia.

The wreck of the Spanish ship called San Jose was found in 2015 off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Often called the "holy grail of shipwrecks," WHOI said the search uncovered treasure including gold, silver and emeralds on the ship, which was sunk in 1708 during the War of Spanish Succession.

To find the wreck, a team led by Maritime Archaeology Consultants utilized an underwater robot called the REMUS 6000.

"The REMUS 6000 was the ideal tool for the job, since it’s capable of conducting long-duration missions over wide areas," said WHOI engineer and expedition leader Mike Purcell.

The newfound treasure will be displayed in a new museum built by the Colombian Government, according to a statement. The exhibit will include other artifacts from the ship such as cannons and ceramics.

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Thursday
May242018

North Korea claims to have dismantled nuclear test site, reports say

ABC News(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- North Korea has carried out the demolition of its nuclear test site in front of foreign journalists, according to Sky News and other news outlets.

The demolition on Thursday took place deep in the mountains in the northeast portion of North Korea, according to reports.

North Korea's decision to shutter the site was considered by international observers to be a good omen leading up to a potential meeting between Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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