Video shows SUV mowing down home’s Christmas decorations, blindsiding 12-foot snowman

Police are searching for the driver of an SUV seen plowing through Christmas decorations in front of an Indiana home.

Surveillance video taken from a neighbor’s home and obtained by ABC Indianapolis affiliate WRTV shows a man getting out of his midsize SUV and walking up to the home in Greenwood, about 15 miles south of Indianapolis, and walking up to the Christmas display, appearing to take a closer look.

The man then gets back into the vehicle before jumping the curb in pursuit of a 12-foot snowman standing to the side of the house, the video shows.

The driver heads straight for his target, knocking the snowman down and dragging it for a few feet before continuing into the next door neighbor’s yard and eventually driving back onto the street, narrowly missing a mailbox.

Resident Casie Arnold, 37, told WRTV that she and her family were sitting on the couch, drinking hot chocolate and watching a Christmas movie when they heard a “big pop.”

When Arnold and her husband ran outside to investigate, they saw their deflated snow man and tire tracks in their yard, she said.

The incident happened on Dec. 9 around 8:30 p.m., according to an incident report from the Greenwood Police Department.

One of Arnold’s neighbors provided the surveillance footage to police, according to the report. The man in the video is described as a white male wearing a dark hoodie, and the SUV is described as a dark-colored Chevrolet Tahoe from the early 2000s, police said.

No suspect has been identified, a spokesman for the police department told ABC News.

While the snowman only cost $100, Arnold said she felt “unsafe” and “violated” after the act of vandalism.

But, Arnold said she’s mostly concerned about safety, because several young children live in the neighborhood, including her own, and other residents have reported similar incidents.

“It’s very disturbing to see someone pull in front of your house, get out of the car, look at the scene — kind of look around with intention to do damage,” Arnold said.

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Police hunt across eastern France for Strasbourg Christmas market attacker

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) – Police searched through eastern France on Wednesday for a man suspected of killing at least two people in a gun attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg and who was known to have been religiously radicalized while in jail.

Witnesses told investigators the assailant cried out “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greater) as he launched his attack on the market, the Paris prosecutor said.

The prosecutor, Remy Heitz, also suggested the suspect may have chosen his target for its religious symbolism.

“Considering the target, his way of operating, his profile and the testimonies of those who heard him yell ‘Allahu Akbar’, the anti-terrorist police has been called into action,” Heitz told a news conference.

Police issued a wanted poster for the suspect identifying him as Strasbourg-born Cherif Chekatt, 29, who is on an intelligence services watch list as a potential security risk.

(For a graphic on Strasbourg attack click, tmsnrt.rs/2QQL0XG)

An investigation had been opened into alleged murder with terrorist intent and suspected ties to terrorist networks with intent to commit crimes, Heitz said.

Two people were killed and a third person was brain-dead and being kept alive on life support, he said. Six other victims were fighting for their lives.

France raised its security threat to the highest alert level, strengthening controls on its border with Germany as elite commandos backed by helicopters hunted for the suspect.

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French and German agents checked vehicles and public transport crossing the Rhine river, along which the Franco-German frontier runs, backing up traffic in both directions. Hundreds of French troops and police were taking part in the manhunt.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said an additional 1,800 soldiers would be put on anti-terror security patrols with a special focus on Christmas markets.

Sylvaine Jardin, director of the Porcus charcuterie, just meters from where the shooting took place struggled to hold back tears saying she needed to work so as not to think about what had happened.

“We can’t let ourselves be submerged by fear, but we’ll feel better when he is caught,” she said, adding that traders had last year been given training and advice in preparation for a possible attack.

SERIAL CONVICT

The gunman struck at about 1900 GMT on Tuesday, just as the picturesque Christmas market in the historic city was shutting down.

He engaged in two gunfights with security forces as he evaded a police dragnet and bragged about his acts to the driver of a taxi that he commandeered, prosecutor Heitz said.

No one has yet claimed responsibility, but the U.S.-based Site intelligence group, which monitors jihadist websites, said Islamic State supporters were celebrating.

French and German security officials painted a portrait of Chekatt as a serial law-breaker who had racked up more than two dozen convictions in France, Germany and Switzerland, and served time in prison.

“It was during these spells in jail that we detected a radicalization in his religious practices. But we there were never signs he was preparing an attack,” Minister Nunez said.

One German security source said the suspect was jailed in southern Germany from August 2016 to February 2017 for aggravated theft but was released before the end of his 27-month sentence so that he could be deported to France.

“He was banned from re-entering Germany at the same time”, the security source in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said. “We don’t have any knowledge of any kind of radicalization.”

BORDER CONTROLS

The attack took place at a testing time for President Emmanuel Macron, who is struggling to quell a month-long public revolt over high living costs that has spurred the worst public unrest in central Paris since the 1968 student riots.

The disclosure that Chekatt was on a security watchlist will raise questions over possible intelligence failures, though some 26,000 individuals suspected of posing a security risk to France are on the “S File” list.

Of these, about 10,000 are believed to have been radicalized, sometimes in fundamentalist Salafist Muslim mosques, in jail or abroad.

Police had raided the suspect’s home early on Tuesday in connection with a homicide investigation. Five people were detained and under interrogation as part of that investigation.

At the Europa Bridge, the main border crossing in the region used by commuters traveling in both directions, armed police inspected vehicles. Police were also checking pedestrians and trains arriving in Germany from Strasbourg.

Secular France has for years grappled with how to respond to both homegrown jihadists and foreign militants following attacks in Paris, Nice, Marseille and beyond.

In 2016, a truck plowed into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, killing more than 80 people. In November 2015, coordinated Islamist militant attacks on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris claimed about 130 lives.

There have also been attacks in Paris on police on the Champs-Elysees avenue, the offices of satirical weekly publication Charlie Hebdo and a kosher store.

A man drove a trunk into a crowd at a Christmas market in Berlin in December 2016, killing 12 people.

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'Only Trump earns more': Mexico president flays supreme court

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s president escalated a conflict with the judiciary on Tuesday, calling the country’s supreme court judges the “best paid public servants in the world,” after the tribunal froze plans to impose pay cuts on the civil service.

On Friday, the Supreme Court said it had suspended a law stipulating no public servant can earn more than President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has slashed his own pay to 108,000 pesos ($5,331) a month, less than half that of his predecessor.

The veteran leftist, who took office on Dec. 1, has put public sector austerity at the center of his plans to reduce corruption and inequality in Mexico.

Critics including judges say he is trying to undermine independent organs of the state like the court in order to control them. He has denied this.

Lopez Obrador has hit out at the court since it said it would freeze the pay cuts, pending a review.

“I have no doubt that they’re the best paid public servants in the world,” the 65-year-old told a regular morning news conference on Tuesday, repeating that Mexico’s judges earn 600,000 pesos ($29,619) a month. Last week, before the court ruling, he described such a salary as tantamount to “corruption” in Mexico.

“With all due respect, only Donald Trump earns more than the president of the supreme court,” he added.

On Twitter, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed his figures as not “remotely” in line with the facts.

It was not immediately clear from publicly available sources exactly how much pay and benefits the judges receive.

According to figures in the 2018 budget, justices appointed before a 2009 law was passed, lowering the judges pay, were entitled to gross compensation – including various benefits – worth about 578,000 pesos a month.

The same budget figures showed justices appointed after that change had their basic entitlement cut by over one-third.

However, a supreme court spokesman said the 10 serving justices earned the same amount – a sum based on the higher pay bracket. Earlier, the court spokesman said the eight justices appointed after the change of the law received the lower salary.

The spokesman could not immediately account for the discrepancy.

After Trump was elected U.S. president in November 2016, he pledged to give up his presidential salary of $400,000 per year before taxes.

According to the U.S. Federal Judicial Center, the salary of the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was $267,000 as of Jan. 1, 2018 and Associate Justices of the court, $255,300.

On Monday, Mexico’s national association of magistrates and judges issued a public statement condemning the criticism of the judiciary as an attempt to “weaken the system of checks and balances on our democracy and damage the rule of law.”

Lopez Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) said on Tuesday it had filed a complaint to try to stop the decision to suspend the pay cuts. They hope to overturn the ruling before Dec. 15, when the government will present its 2019 budget.

Support for the judges is by no means solid in a country where many serious crimes go unpunished.

A 2013 study by watchdog Transparency International found 80 percent of respondents viewed the judiciary as corrupt in Mexico. Still, political parties and members of Congress fared even worse.

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Lebanon's Bassil says Aoun-Hariri partnership will lead to government

LONDON (Reuters) – The partnership between Lebanon’s president and designated prime minister, along with the national consensus, “will certainly lead to the formation of a new government, despite all obstacles,” its foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Gebran Bassil, a member of President Michel Aoun’s party, was speaking at an investment conference in London where Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri is due to speak later on Wednesday. Lebanon’s political parties have failed to form a new government since a general election that was held in May.

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Exclusive: Airbus staff error led to fatal Mali copter crash – German official

BERLIN (Reuters) – The fatal crash of a German armed forces helicopter in Mali last year was caused by the failure of mechanics from manufacturer Airbus to correctly set the aircraft’s rotor controls after repairs, a defence official told Reuters on Wednesday.

An armed forces investigation of the crash, which killed both pilots aboard the helicopter, found that neither a technical defect nor material fatigue were to blame, according to the official who has seen the report.

A spokesperson for Airbus said the planemaker would address the report over the course of Wednesday.

The Tiger helicopter had been deployed to support a peacekeeping mission in Mali’s desert when it lurched into a steep, uncontrolled forward dive so severe that the rotors fell to pieces during its rapid descent.

The report found that Airbus mechanics had incorrectly calibrated the Tiger helicopter’s rotor controls after repairs carried out at its home base of Fritzlar in central Germany.

The two highly experienced pilots, subjected to enormous G-forces during the plunge, had no chance of correcting the stall, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

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Factbox: Who might be Britain's next prime minister if May goes?

LONDON (Reuters) – Lawmakers in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party on Wednesday triggered a confidence vote in her leadership over Britain’s planned divorce from the European.

May has vowed to fight on as leader, but if she loses the confidence vote later on Wednesday she will be out of a job, and a contest to replace her will begin.

Below is a summary of some of those who could be in the frame to replace May:

BORIS JOHNSON, 54

The former foreign minister is May’s most outspoken critic over Brexit. He resigned from the cabinet in July in protest at her handling of the exit negotiations.

Johnson, regarded by many eurosceptics as the face of the 2016 Brexit campaign, set out his pitch to the membership in a bombastic speech at the party’s annual conference in October – some members queued for hours to get a seat.

He called on the party to return to its traditional values of low tax and strong policing, and not to try and ape the policies of the left-wing Labour Party.

JEREMY HUNT, 52

Hunt replaced Johnson as foreign minister in July and has urged the Conservative membership to set aside their differences over Brexit and unite against a common foe: the EU.

Hunt voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum. He served six years as Britain’s health minister – a role which has made him unpopular with many voters who work in or rely on the state-run, financially stretched National Health Service.

Hunt said he backed May in the confidence vote.

JACOB REES-MOGG, 49

A flamboyant millionaire who cultivates the image of an English gentleman from days gone by, Rees-Mogg has developed a cult following among those who want a more radical departure from the EU than May is proposing.

Rees-Mogg, the head of an influential eurosceptic group of lawmakers, announced he had submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister the day after she unveiled her draft Brexit deal.

But does he want the top job? Asked immediately after saying he had submitted his letter to depose May, Rees-Mogg said he would not be putting himself forward for the job.

DOMINIC RAAB, 44

Britain’s Brexit negotiator quit May’s government on Thursday in protest at her draft exit agreement, saying it did not match the promises the Conservative Party made at a 2017 election. Raab served only five months as head of the Brexit department, having been appointed in July.

He was seen as a relative newcomer to the top table of government, but had served in junior ministerial roles since being elected in 2010. Raab campaigned for Brexit ahead of the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership and is a black belt in karate.

SAJID JAVID, 48

Javid, a former banker and champion of free markets, has served a number of cabinet roles and scores consistently well in polls of party members. A second-generation immigrant of Pakistani heritage, he has talked about having a portrait of former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on his office wall.

Javid voted ‘remain’ in the 2016 Brexit vote but was previously considered to be eurosceptic.

Javid said he backed May in the confidence vote.

MICHAEL GOVE, 51

Gove, one of the highest-profile Brexit campaigners during the referendum, has had to rebuild his cabinet career after falling early to May in the contest to replace David Cameron, who resigned the day after losing the 2016 Brexit referendum.

High-energy, and seen as one of the most effective members of cabinet in bringing forward new policies, Gove has become a surprise ally to May and so far backed her Brexit strategy.

Gove teamed up with Boris Johnson during the 2016 Brexit campaign only to pull his support for Johnson’s subsequent leadership bid at the last moment and run himself.

Gove said he backed May in the confidence vote.

DAVID DAVIS, 69

Davis, a leading eurosceptic, was appointed to lead Britain’s negotiations with the EU in July 2016, but he resigned two years later in protest at her plans for a long term relationship with the bloc.

He has been touted as a possible interim leader.

PENNY MORDAUNT, 45

Mordaunt is one of the last remaining pro-Brexit members of May’s cabinet, where she serves as international development minister. Many had expected her to join the wave of resignations that followed the publication of May’s draft withdrawal deal.

Mordaunt said she backed May in the confidence vote.

ANDREA LEADSOM, 55

Leadsom, another pro-Brexit campaigner who still serves in May’s cabinet, made it to the last two in the 2016 contest to replace Cameron. But, rather than force a run-off vote against Theresa May, she withdrew from the contest. She currently runs parliamentary business for the government.

Leadsom said she backed May in the confidence vote.

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Time's 'Person of Year' goes to journalists, including Reuters pair

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Time on Tuesday named a group of journalists, including a slain Saudi Arabian writer and two Reuters reporters imprisoned by Myanmar’s government, as “Person of the Year” and warned the idea of truth as critical to democracy is under assault.

The publication also honored the founder of a Philippines news website critical of that country’s authoritarian government and a Maryland newspaper that was the target of a mass shooting, the first time in the magazine’s 95-year history that Time has bestowed the distinction on its own profession.

A cover story highlighted the role of journalists, including Reuters’ Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who Myanmar imprisoned for violating a state secrets act, and Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi writer and critic of the nation’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was slain two months ago inside a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey.

“I hope that this is received by the public at large far, far beyond the United States as a reminder of the importance of defending free expression and the pursuit of truth and facts,” Ben Goldberger, Time magazine’s assistant managing editor, said during an interview. “That is the baseline for all free societies. Democracy certainly cannot function without a shared understanding of the facts.”

The annual distinction is intended to recognize the person, group or idea that had the greatest influence on world events that year. It has been given to a wide range of influencers, from U.S. civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and Queen Elizabeth to Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, who was honored before the start of World War Two.

Wednesday will mark one year since Reuters journalists Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were imprisoned for their work investigating the killing of villagers from Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority by the country’s security forces and civilian mobs. They were convicted on Sept. 3 under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act in a case seen as a test of democratic freedoms in Myanmar.

“We hope this recognition will draw continued awareness to their unjust arrest and imprisonment in Myanmar, and reaffirm the essential role of a free press around the world. Every day that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo remain in prison is an assault on press freedom,” said Reg Chua, the chief operating officer for Reuters editorial.

Khashoggi was killed two months ago at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul when he went there to collect documents for his forthcoming marriage. He was the first person to be named a Time Person of the Year after his death.

U.S. senators briefed by the Central Intelligence Agency have said they are certain that the Saudi crown prince was responsible for Khashoggi’s killing, a view U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is skeptical of. The crown prince has denied knowledge of the operation that killed Khashoggi.

Time also honored Maria Ressa, the founder of the Philippine news site Rappler, which has been a frequent critic of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and the staff of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, where a gunman shot and killed five people in June.

Ressa and her site were charged with tax evasion by the Philippines’ justice department in November.

The four groups were highlighted on four separate covers of the magazine, one of which features the wives of the imprisoned Reuters reporters embracing one another as they hold photos of their husbands.

“Whether they have been denied their freedom or been brutally murdered, honoring their work speaking truth to power is essential at this critical time where reporters are under unprecedented threat across the globe,” said Margaux Ewen, the North America director for Reporters Sans Frontieres, or Reporters Without Borders.

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US Army’s terrifying new assault rifle that can obliterate enemies with power of a TANK blast

The 6.8mm rifles will fire bullets capable of ripping through any body armour and are expected to be in use by 2022.

Army chief of staff. Gen. Mark Milley told The Military Times: ""It will fire at speeds that far exceed the velocity of bullets today, and it will penetrate any existing or known … body armour that's out there.

"What I have seen so far from the engineers and the folks that put these things together, this is entirely technologically possible. … It's a very good weapon."

The new guns will offer major improvements in capabilities compared with the decades-old M16 and M4 weapons, the Army claims.

The “Next Generation Squad Weapon program,” is an Army initiative but has had input from Marines and special operations forces, reports The Military Times.


Milley described it as “better than any weapon on earth today, by far".

He told the publication: "It's a pretty impressive gun.”

The so-called Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR) will "weigh less, shoot farther, and pack more punch than the service’s existing infantry weapons," Col. Geoffrey A. Norman told Task & Purpose.

According to Col. Norman, the aim is to equip soldiers with rifles that fire "a small bullet at the pressure equivalent to what a tank would fire."

Citing the Army's shift from the environments of Iraq and Syria to "near peer threats like Russia", he said: "“For the past 10 or 15 years, we’ve been really focused on the requirement of lethal effects against unprotected targets.

“Now we’re looking at near-peer threats like Russia and others. We need to have lethal effects against protected targets and we need to have requirements for long-range lethality in places like Afghanistan, where you’re fighting from mountaintop to mountaintop over extended ranges.”



 

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Black people '20 times more likely to be shot' by Toronto police

Ontario rights watchdog report says the city’s black citizens are disproportionately discriminated against by police.

    A black person is 20 times more likely to be shot dead by police than a white person in Canada’s largest city, according to a new damning report from Ontario province’s human rights watchdog.

    The Ontario Human Rights Commission studied seven years of data related to interactions between police and black residents in Toronto for the report, which was released on Monday and found that the city’s black citizens are disproportionately discriminated against by police.

    The group also spoke to 130 people in black communities about their experience of “fear, trauma and humiliation”, which has fostered “mistrust and expectations of negative treatment by police”.

    “Even where individuals did not have first-hand experiences, high-profile incidents or experiences of friends and family reinforced community distrust,” the report said.

    The study found that, although fewer than 10 percent of Toronto’s 2.7 million people are black, they account for 30 percent of police use-of-force incidents that result in serious injury or death, 60 percent of deadly encounters with police and 70 percent of fatal police shootings.

    The figures have not changed since 2000.

    The report also said officers involved in incidents sometimes provided biased and untrustworthy testimony, inappropriately tried to stop incidents from being recorded and failed to cooperate with the investigating unit.

    We spoke to 130 individuals in Black communities. We heard first-hand about their experiences and the resulting fear, trauma, humiliation, mistrust and expectations of negative treatment by police. Read #ACollectiveImpact: https://t.co/89KlZgi0J7 Share: https://t.co/cuJApEyixh pic.twitter.com/w8RGoEfGGj

    “This interim report is the latest in a body of reports, findings and recommendations – over the past 30 years – that point to persistent concerns about anti-black racism policing in Toronto. Our interim findings are disturbing and call for immediate action,” Renu Mandhare, Ontario’s human rights commissioner, told reporters on Monday.

    No institution ‘immune from bias’

    In addition to use-of-force, the report examined “carding” – a process where police stop individuals and collect personal information – saying that there was often no legal basis to stop people and that the encounters often included “inappropriate or unjustified searches” and “unnecessary charges or arrests”.

    The report said such encounters risk reducing the effectiveness of Toronto’s police force by creating a “fractured” relationship between black residents and police.

    Toronto Police responded on Monday by issuing a statement acknowledging the concerns raised in the report and promising to build upon efforts to address bias.

    “We recognise that there are those within Toronto’s black communities who feel that, because of the colour of their skin, the police, including when it comes to use of force, have at times, treated them differently.

    “We understand that this has created a sense of distrust that has lasted generations. We – the Board and the Service – know that only by acknowledging these lived experiences can we continue to work with our community partners to achieve meaningful changes.”

    “The Board and the Services acknowledge that no institution or organisation, including the Toronto Police, is immune from overt and implicit bias … We have been working for several years to confront these challenges in a variety of ways.”

    The police have accepted the commission’s recommendation that it continues to support the inquiry into racial profiling and discrimination against black people but said another recommendation – that police be required to collect and publicly release race-based data relating to when they stop, search and use force on civilians – will require further study.

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    Blaze at Rome rubbish dump throws acrid black smoke over city

    ROME (Reuters) – A large fire broke out on Tuesday in a municipal rubbish dump on the northern outskirts of Rome, sending a pall of acrid black smoke into the sky above the Italian capital.

    City authorities said anyone who could smell the fire should close their windows and avoid any outdoor activity in the area.

    There was no indication of what caused the fire at the Tmb Salario site, which deals with around a fifth of all Rome’s garbage.

    Twelve firecrews were at the dump trying to put out the blaze, which started before dawn.

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