Indonesia asks people to avoid coast near erupting volcano

SUMUR, Indonesia

Indonesian authorities are asking people near an island volcano to avoid the coast while eruptions and weather and sea conditions are monitored for tsunami risks.

A tsunami that followed an eruption of Anak Krakatoa hit communities along the Sunda Strait on Saturday night, killing more than 420 people and displacing thousands.

The Meteorology, Geophysics and Climatology Agency asked people to stay at least 1,640 feet from the Sunda Strait coastline.

Agency’s head Dwikorita Karnawati said high waves and heavy rains are possible today, and the wall of the volcano’s crater is prone to collapse.

At a news conference late Tuesday, she said weather and continuing eruptions “could potentially cause landslides at the cliffs of the crater into the sea, and we fear that that could trigger a tsunami.”

GoFundMe says donors in alleged homeless scam refunded

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J.

GoFundMe says it has refunded everyone who contributed to a campaign involving a homeless veteran from Philadelphia who prosecutors allege schemed with a New Jersey couple to scam donors out of more than $400,000.

GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne said Tuesday that “all donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign have been fully refunded” and the organization is cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Burlington County prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint that Johnny Bobbitt conspired with Katelyn McClure and her boyfriend at the time, Mark D’Amico, to concoct a feel-good story about Bobbitt giving McClure his last $20 when her car ran out of gas. They raised $400,000, which authorities say was spent on luxury items and casino trips.

Whithorne said campaigns involving misuse “make up less than one tenth of one percent” of all GoFundMe campaigns, but such behavior “is unacceptable” and “has consequences.”

Three men steal $800,000 in jewelry at Colorado luxury hotel

ASPEN, Colo.

Authorities say three men stole about $800,000 worth of diamond-encased jewelry from a display case in the lobby of The Little Nell hotel in Aspen, Colo.

The Aspen Daily News reports that police said one of the men involved in the theft Friday used a screwdriver to pop open the locked case and put a necklace and at least one ring and a set of earrings into a backpack.

The items belonged to Piranesi, a New York City-based business that has an outlet in Aspen.

Piranesi employee Veronica Sumner said Piranesi has had the display case in the hotel’s lobby for marketing purposes for more than 20 years.

Koreas hold ceremony for railway project

SEOUL, South Korea

South Korean officials have traveled to North Korea by train to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for an aspirational project to modernize North Korean railways and roads and connect them with the South.

Today’s ceremony at the North Korean border town of Kaesong comes weeks after the Koreas conducted a joint survey on the northern railway sections they hope to someday link with the South.

The ambitious project is among a variety of peace gestures agreed between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in as they push ahead with engagement amid a stalemate in larger nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.


But beyond on-site reviews and ceremonies, the Koreas cannot move the project much further along without the removal of U.S.-led sanctions against the North.

During his three summits with Moon and a meeting with President Donald Trump in June, Kim signed vague statements pledging a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing how and when it would occur. But followup nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled for months over the sequencing of the denuclearization that Washington wants and the removal of international sanctions desired by Pyongyang.

Report: Israeli attack near Syrian capital wounds 3 soldiers

BEIRUT

Israeli warplanes flying over Lebanon fired missiles toward areas near the Syrian capital of Damascus late Tuesday, hitting an arms depot and wounding three soldiers, Syrian state media reported, saying that most of the missiles were shot down by air defense units.

The TV, quoting an unnamed military official, identified the warplanes as Israeli. Lebanon’s the state-run National News Agency earlier reported that Israeli warplanes were flying at low altitude over parts of southern Lebanon.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said Israeli airstrikes targeted three positions south of Damascus that are arms depots for Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group and Iranian forces.

The reported attack near Damascus is the first since U.S. President Donald Trump announced last week that the U.S. will withdraw all of its 2,000 forces in Syria, a move that will leave control of the oil-rich eastern third of Syria up for grabs.

English Channel sees uptick in migrants trying to cross over

PARIS

British and French authorities said some 40 migrants were rescued in the waters between southern England and northern France on Christmas Day, amid a spike in attempts by migrants to cross the English Channel to British shores on small boats.

The French regional maritime authority, or prefecture, said in a statement that a small rubber boat with a failed engine was spotted Tuesday off the coast of Calais. A police helicopter monitoring the area directed a tugboat to the stranded migrants, the prefecture said.

The maritime authority said eight migrants, including two children, were found aboard the boat and handed over to British authorities. It didn’t provide the passengers’ nationalities.

Calais, a port city on one end of a Channel tunnel that connects France and England by train, long has been a magnet for migrants fleeing conflict or poverty in Africa and the Mideast. French officials two years ago closed a makeshift camp that swelled to a population of 10,000 at one point as people waited to try to hop trucks taking rail ferries or trains to England.

Hundreds of surfers in Santa suits ride waves in Florida

COCOA BEACH, Fla.

The waves of red in the waters off Florida’s Space Coast weren’t the dreaded red tide algae but rather hundreds of surfers dressed as Jolly Old St. Nick.

Hundreds of surfers in Santa suits jumped on their boards off the beach in Cocoa Beach, Fla., on Monday in what has become an annual tradition.

Thousands of spectators cheered them on as part of a fundraiser for the Florida Surf Museum and also a charity for cancer patients. Organizers say about $40,000 was raised this year.

Spectators on the beach dressed as elves, donned Santa hats and wore Christmas sweaters.

The surfing Santas have been riding the waves off Coach Beach on Christmas Eve for the past decade.

Wrong-way driver killed after hitting tractor trailer truck

GLASTONBURY, Conn.

An Ohio man has died after the car he was driving the wrong way on a Connecticut highway slammed head-on into a tractor trailer truck.

State police say 27-year-old Christian Alvarez Villarini, of Cleveland, was pronounced dead at the scene Monday.

The Hartford Courant reports Alvarez Villarini was driving west in the eastbound lane of Route 2 in Glastonbury, a Hartford suburb, when his Toyota Solara crashed into the big rig.

The driver of the tractor trailer, 49-year-old George Bolsar of Jessup, Pa., sustained minor injuries. He’s being treated at Hartford Hospital.

Associated Press

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