The U.S. Justice Department unveiled 17 new criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday, saying he unlawfully published the names of classified sources and conspired with and assisted ex-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in obtaining access to classified information. Assange was initially charged with conspiring with Manning to gain access to a government computer as part of a 2010 leak by WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of U.S. military reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He now faces a total of 18 criminal counts, and could face many decades in prison if convicted.
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein and his former studio’s board members have reached a tentative deal with women who accuse him of sexual misconduct, US media report. Lawyers said the settlement to resolve civil lawsuits and compensate alleged victims was worth about $44m. Mr Weinstein denies sexually harassing or abusing over 75 women. He will stand trial in New York in June on criminal charges brought by two women, including rape. The 67-year-old is one of Hollywood’s most famous producers and has worked on a number of award-winning films, including Shakespeare in Love, The King’s Speech and The Artist.
Government forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed a top militant commander linked to al-Qaida in the disputed region, officials said on Friday. Zakir Musa was killed Thursday evening in a gunfight after police and soldiers launched a counterinsurgency operation in the southern Tral area, said Col. Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman. His killing triggered violent anti-India protests in many places. Previously, no global jihadi groups have openly operated in Kashmir, a territory divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both entirely.
After decades of campaigning and waiting, Taiwan has welcomed hundreds of same-sex couples as they exercised their new legal rights to tie the knot. Dozens of reporters and photographers filled a registry office in Taipei on Friday waiting to capture the moment when the self-ruled island became the first country in Asia to legalise gay marriage. Some 300 same-sex couples were expected to register on Friday, according to local authorities, around 150 in the capital Taipei which boasts a thriving and vocal gay community.
SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket containing 60 satellites from Cape Canaveral in Florida Thursday evening. The satellites, meant to bring broadband internet to underserved communities, deployed into low-Earth orbit an hour later, according to Space News. The launch is the first of many in SpaceX’s effort to create a global internet mega constellation with one terabit per second of user capacity, Space News reported. SpaceX plans to do three to seven launches this year with the goal of eventually launching up to 12,000 satellites in the next few years, according to Space News.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has secured another five-year term after winning a landslide general election victory. Results so far show his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to win about 300 of the 543 seats in parliament. Over 600 million people voted in a marathon six-week process. The main opposition alliance, which is headed by Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party, is yet to concede. The vote had been widely viewed as a referendum on the prime minister’s Hindu nationalist politics.
Donald Trump on Wednesday terminated a meeting with Democratic leaders after just a few minutes, saying he refuses to work with them on an infrastructure plan unless they stop investigating him and lift the threat of impeachment. Democrats quickly fired back, claiming that the US president had planned the stunt in advance and what happened at the White House would “make your jaw drop”. In a snap 10-minute press conference in the Rose Garden, just outside the Oval Office, Trump condemned the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, after she told reporters that he was “engaging in a cover-up”.
Voting began Thursday in what could be the most important European Parliament elections in a generation. All 28 European Union nations are choosing who should sit in the 751 seats of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which approves the bloc’s budget and passes laws. The process is the second-largest democratic exercise in the world, behind the Indian general election. Member nations have their own separate elections to choose their national parliaments and local politicians, but the E.U. Parliament votes on the bloc’s $150 billion annual budget and passes legislation that affects some 500 million people.
Botswana has lifted its ban on elephant hunting, saying the population has increased and farmers’ livelihoods are being affected, in a move likely to trigger outrage from conservationists. President Ian Khama, a keen environmentalist, introduced a prohibition on elephant hunting in the southern African country in 2014. Landlocked Botswana has the largest elephant population in Africa, with more than 135,000 roaming freely in its unfenced parks and wide open spaces.
Researchers have located the remains of the last known ship to have brought slaves to the U.S. from West Africa, Alabama historical officials announced Wednesday. The Alabama Historical Commission confirmed that the Gulf schooner Clotilda was identified and verified after months of assessment. In 1860, Clotilda illegally transported 110 men, women and children to Mobile from what is now the African country of Benin. The ship was then taken into delta waters north of the port and burned. Importing slaves into the U.S. had been illegal since 1808 and federal anti-piracy laws had been changed in 1820 to make participating in the trade punishable by death.