By Daniel Trotta and Jonathan Allen NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy veteran plowed his car into pedestrians in New York City's packed Times Square on Thursday, killing an 18-year-old woman and injuring 22 people. The city's mayor said there was no indication it was an act of terrorism. Witnesses said the motorist mounted the sidewalk in a burgundy Honda sedan and sped along for more than three city blocks, knocking people over before the car hit a pole and came to rest at 45th Street and Broadway in Midtown Manhattan. (For a graphic on Times Square car crash, click tmsnrt.rs/2rvktPe) Police who took the driver into custody identified him as Richard Rojas, 26, of the New York City borough of the Bronx. They said he had been arrested twice for drunken driving in 2008 and 2015, and once earlier this month on a charge of menacing. There was no indication it was an act of terrorism, Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference at the scene. Initial reports of the incident brought to mind vehicle attacks on pedestrians in recent months in Britain, France, Germany, Israel and Sweden. Security camera footage showed the car slam into pedestrians who moments earlier were ambling along, some carrying shopping bags and others pushing baby strollers. The incident took place close to noon ET (1600 GMT) on a bright, sunny day. "People were being hit and rolling off the car," said Josh Duboff, who works at the nearby Thomson Reuters headquarters. He leaped out of the way to avoid being struck. Shoes were scattered on the sidewalk. A woman's body lay covered with a bloodstained blanket. A police officer kept vigil nearby, sadly shaking his head. The dead woman was named by police as Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old who was on vacation with her family from Michigan. Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them tourists from around the world, pass daily through Times Square, the heart of the Broadway theatre district. The bustling streets are heavily patrolled by police, some on horseback. Many, but not all, sidewalks are lined with barricades and planters for fear of vehicle attacks. A bouncer from the Planet Hollywood restaurant and a ticket agent were among onlookers who helped police subdue the suspect when he tried to flee the scene, media reports said. Broadway shows would go ahead as planned on Thursday evening in the many theatres in the area, organizers said in a statement. 'MOWED EVERYONE DOWN' Navy records show that Rojas enlisted in September 2011 and was based in Illinois and Florida, working as an electrician's mate fireman apprentice. He was arrested a year later at a naval base in Jacksonville, Florida, where officials said he attacked a cab driver, shouted "my life is over," and threatened to kill police, according to court records. Rojas was charged with misdemeanour battery and resisting an officer without violence, but it was unclear how the case was resolved. Navy records show he spent two months in a military prison in Charleston, South Carolina, in the summer of 2013, but did not say why. He left the Navy in May 2014. Quoting unnamed police sources, ABC News said Rojas had apparently been high on synthetic marijuana when he crashed into his victims on Thursday. Initial tests came back negative for alcohol, the law enforcement sources told ABC News. After the incident, authorities cordoned off an area from 41st to 47th streets and from Sixth to Eighth avenues for several hours, effectively shutting down one of the busiest parts of one of the busiest cities in the world. The crash occurred outside the headquarters of the Reuters news agency, 3 Times Square. Building foreman Rodney Muir said he heard what sounded like a big bang and crunching metal. He said he looked out and saw what appeared to be a body in the street. One of the injured, Cheryl Howard, had blood dripping down her right arm and a bruise above her left eye. She and her daughter were shopping when the car sped toward them. "I'm so freaked out!" Howard's daughter said. "They mowed everyone down." Times Square was evacuated in May 2010 when a car bomb that failed to explode was found in an SUV. Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American and Taliban-trained militant, later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Six months ago the city completed a $55 million, nearly six-year renovation of Times Square that turned roadways into pedestrian zones. It aimed to improve congestion and safety, but not all sidewalks were fitted with safety bollards. (Additional reporting by Daniel Bases, Andrew Chung, Grant McCool, Jonathan Spicer, Barbara Goldberg, Joseph Ax, Hilary Russ, Peter Szekely, Letitia Stein, Colleen Jenkins and Emily Flitter; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Howard Goller and Jonathan Oatis)
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden's first calls to foreign leaders went to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a strained moment for the U.S. relationship with its North American neighbors. Mexico's president said Saturday that Biden told him the U.S. would send $4 billion to help development in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — nations whose hardships have spawned tides of migration through Mexico toward the United States.
- The Independent
Priest who attended pro-Trump rally ahead of Capitol insurrection is suspended from post and may be defrocked
Reverend Mark Hodges described event as ‘joyful, positive and orderly’
A Turkish appeals court on Friday overturned the acquittal of nine people, including philanthropist Osman Kavala, in a case related to nationwide protests in 2013, according to court documents seen by Reuters. The case had ended with the surprise acquittal of nine defendants last February due to insufficient evidence. The trial was followed closely by Turkey's Western allies and rights groups, who said it was symbolic of what they saw as a crackdown on dissent under President Tayyip Erdogan.
President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed issues including trade, NATO and the coronavirus pandemic in their first phone call since the U.S. leader's inauguration. Why it matters: A new trade agreement with the U.S. is a priority for Johnson, whose country completed its economic split with the European Union at the end of last year, AP noted. Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.What they're saying: Biden "conveyed his intention to strengthen the special relationship between our countries and revitalize transatlantic ties, underscoring the critical role of NATO to our collective defense and shared values," a White House readout of the call said. * "President Biden also noted the importance of cooperation, including through multilateral organizations, on shared challenges such as combatting climate change, containing COVID-19, and ensuring global health security," the readout added. A statement from Downing Street said that Biden and Johnson also "discussed the benefits of a potential free trade deal between our two countries, and the Prime Minister reiterated his intention to resolve existing trade issues as soon as possible." * "The Prime Minister warmly welcomed the President’s decision to re-join the Paris Agreement on climate change, as well as the World Health Organization and the COVAX programme to ensure equitable access for vaccines," the statement added. The big picture: Biden's conversation with Johnson came a day after the U.S. president spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador in separate phone calls. Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- Associated Press
A Colombian businessman was carrying a letter from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accrediting him to Iran's supreme leader when he was arrested on a U.S. warrant last year, according to a new court filing in a politically charged corruption case ratcheting up tensions with the South American nation. Attorneys for Alex Saab made the filing in Miami federal court Thursday just hours after prosecutors in the African nation of Cape Verde said they granted the 49-year-old Colombian house arrest as he fights extradition to the U.S. to face money laundering charges. U.S. officials believe Saab holds numerous secrets about how Maduro, his family and top aides allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars in government contracts amid widespread hunger in the oil-rich nation.
- Business Insider
The Bidens were reportedly left waiting outside the White House on Inauguration Day because Trump sent the staff home
The Trumps sent the butlers home "so there would be no-one to help the Bidens when they arrived," a source told The National Journal.
- Architectural Digest
“The materials and colors took center stage,” said David Lucas when it came to the design of the home.Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- LA Times
Russian police arrested hundreds of protesters who took to the streets to demand the release of Alexei Navalny, the country's top opposition figure.
A slim majority of Americans say former President Donald Trump should be convicted by the Senate of inciting an insurrection and barred from holding public office, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, which showed a sharp partisan divide over the issue. The national public opinion poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, found that 51% of Americans think Trump should be found guilty for inciting the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Another 37% said Trump should not be convicted and the remaining 12% said they were unsure.
- The Independent
Sean Hannity denounces Biden’s first week as ‘disastrous’ before the president completed a full day of work
‘The Biden administration is off to a very rocky start,’ Fox News host says
- Reuters Videos
This woman is Lyubov Sobol, a close ally of the prominent Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. She's in a car with one of his lawyers. Outside police are waiting to arrest her. Sobol is one of several people close to Navalny that have now been detained, for promoting illegal mass protests planned for this weekend - demanding Navalny be freed from prison. In the video she says she "has nothing to hide," and she'll go to the protests anyway. Sobol was later released but not all of them were. Reuters has also learned that Navalny knew he would probably be jailed when he returned to Russia from Germany last Sunday, where he'd been recovering from the incident the West says was an attempted poisoning with a chemical weapon. At the time Navalny said he didn't believe he'd be arrested but the protests, according to one Navalny associate, were planned in anticipation of that scenario - as a way to force the Kremlin's hand for his eventual release. He is accused of breaking the terms of a separate jail sentence, accusations of embezzlement - charges he says were trumped up. It's not clear how successful the protest strategy may be. Seven years ago Navalny was released from prison on parole after mass protests. But two sources close to the Kremlin say this time will probably be different. Navalny has become more of a threat, they say. They don't believe he's a serious threat to President Putin yet - whose approval ratings dwarf Navalny - but the sources also say that the heavy handed way Navalny's return was dealt with was likely boosting his support, and could risk turning him into a martyr. One said he might be kept behind bars until after September's parliament elections.
- Associated Press
Libya’s coast guard intercepted on Friday more than 80 Europe-bound migrants in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the North African country, the U.N. migration agency said. The migrants were returned to Libyan soil, said the International Organization for Migration. “So far this year, some 300 people, including women and children, were returned to the country and ended up in detention,” said the IOM.
Iran may cooperate with the United States on oil and security in the Gulf, but not on Israel, the Iranian foreign minister said in remarks published on Saturday. Ties between Tehran and Washington worsened under the administration of former President Donald Trump, who in 2018 withdrew from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled its economy.
- The Week
President Biden has issued another two executive orders aimed at the coronavirus pandemic's economic fallout.Millions of Americans have claimed unemployment insurance as they lost their jobs amid the pandemic, not to mention thousands of noncitizen workers who haven't been eligible for the benefits. Congress has so far passed two relief bills aimed at helping those who have lost their jobs, though many families are still struggling. Biden is pushing Congress to pass another $1.9 trillion stimulus program, but took initial and immediate relief steps Friday with another round of executive orders.The first order would increase how much families are given through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program each week. About 12 million families rely on the program, and this order would boost food stamp benefits for a family of four by 15 percent, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese tells The New York Times. And while Biden has called for another round of $1,400 stimulus checks, this order would direct the IRS to ensure Americans are getting their $600 payments as well. Notably, the order will also let people claim unemployment benefits even if they quit their job because they feel unsafe working it during the pandemic, among other economic benefits aimed at low-income Americans.The second order meanwhile lays the groundwork for ensuring federal workers and contractors are paid at least $15 per hour and can access paid leave, CNN reports. It also undoes some of former President Donald Trump's orders that let a president hire and fire employees for political reasons and limited federal workers' bargaining rights.Biden has spent the first two days of his presidency issuing executive orders to combat Trump's policies on immigration, climate, the pandemic, and more.More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
- Associated Press
Canada said its officials have met online with former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who has been held in China for more than two years in a case related to an executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Canada’s Foreign Ministry said officials led by Ambassador Dominic Barton were given “on-site virtual consular access” to Kovrig on Thursday. Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor have been confined since Dec. 10, 2018, just days after Canada detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant.
- The Independent
Former police officer who climbed over fences to get into Capitol during riot claims he was there to see art
Regular phone camera roll shows no images from January 6 but ‘deleted’ folder filled with images and videos of officer inside Capitol building during riot
Greece's foreign minister said he hoped Turkey would have a positive approach towards a meeting next week aimed at reviving long-stalled efforts to open negotiations over disputed territorial claims. The neighbouring countries held 60 rounds of talks between 2002 and 2016, but plans last year for discussions to be resumed foundered over a survey vessel sent by Ankara into disputed waters and disagreements over the topics to be covered. He said the exploratory talks, which were halted in March 2016, were not negotiations but aimed to discover whether there was enough convergence for possible future negotiations on just one specific issue.
- The Telegraph
The Biden administration has already set itself on a collision course with Saudi Arabia after its director of National Intelligence vowed to declassify a report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The push to release the intelligence community’s assessment of the murder of the dissident journalist, which is believed to implicate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has the potential to trigger a major fallout with the kingdom. Avril Haines, who was confirmed in her new role on Thursday, told Congress “we will follow the law” regarding the report, referring to the Trump administration’s refusal to release the full version for US House representatives. The CIA is said to have concluded with a high degree of confidence that Prince Mohammed, or MBS - a close ally of the previous government - ordered the Washington Post columnist’s assassination at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. However, its contents have not been made public. MBS, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, has denied he ordered the murder and the Trump administration publicly stood by him despite international condemnation.
- Associated Press
Republicans on Friday pushed a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution through the state House, a bitter reminder of election setbacks for abortion rights Democrats on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide. The vote was 86-38 on a measure that would overturn a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that declared access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state's Bill of Rights. The measure would add language to the state constitution declaring that it grants no right to abortion and that the Legislature can regulate abortion in line with U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
- The Independent
Infowars founder claimed shooting was 'a giant hoax’ and that grieving parents were actors