Hanukkah Fast Facts

Here is some background information about the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. In 2019, Hanukkah will start on December 22nd at sunset and will end December 30th, at sunset.Facts:Hanukkah begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev and lasts eight days. The starting date on the western calendar varies from year … Continue reading “Hanukkah Fast Facts”

Here is some background information about the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.

In 2019, Hanukkah will start on December 22nd at sunset and will end December 30th, at sunset.Facts:
Hanukkah begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev and lasts eight days.

    The starting date on the western calendar varies from year to year, but usually falls between late November and late December. Photos: Photos: Doughy delights – A young Israeli boy looks at a serving of fresh oil-fried and jam-filled doughnuts, known in Hebrew as “sufganiyot”, served at one of the local bakeries in Kadima, central Israel, during Hanukkah.Hide Caption 1 of 6 Photos: Get your fill – In Jewish tradition, it is customary to eat doughnuts and other foods fried in oil during the eight-day festival of Hanukkah.In this picture, a kosher bakery prepares doughnuts by injecting them with cream custard in the Ukranian port city of Odessa. A thriving Jewish community in the region ensures that there is plenty of demand for kosher foodstuffs. Hide Caption 2 of 6 Photos: Pastry auction – So popular are the doughnuts in Israel that Jewish-American chef Joan Nathan recalls the local marketplaces resembling a “pastry auction” around this time of year. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah reaffirms the ideals of Judaism and is one of the most popular Jewish observances. Hide Caption 3 of 6 Photos: The potato makeover – For some, Hanukkah is “the potato pancake holiday”, where the mundane potato is given a massive makeover in form of latkes — a fried potato cake that can be served with lots of goodies including goat cheese, tomatoes, herbs, or topped with smoked salmon and dill. Hide Caption 4 of 6 Photos: Simple is best – Nathan, who has won numerous awards for her cookbooks dedicated to Jewish cuisine, says that while she has added many different ingredients to her latke recipes — including zucchini, beetroot, sweet potato, celery root, and apple-horseradish — her favorite is still the simple potato.Hide Caption 5 of 6 Photos: Busy bakers – Jewish bakers are busy with more than just doughnuts and latkes during this time of year. Here, traditional gingerbread hearts and Stars of David with Hebrew inscriptions in Latin letters on them hang at a stall at the annual Hanukkah market at the Berlin Jewish Museum. Hide Caption 6 of 6Hanukkah is the preferred spelling, but it can also be spelled Chanukah or Chanukkah.Read MorePronunciation: HAH nu kahThe Hebrew word Hanukkah means dedication.Hanukkah is also called the Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication and Feast of the Maccabees. Hanukkah is not the Jewish version of Christmas, but often children receive gifts, especially in areas where Jewish and Christian children are in close contact.Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians and the re-dedication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem around 165 BC. Re-dedication was necessary because Seleucid king of Syria, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, had defiled the Temple by having an altar to Zeus placed there. When the Maccabees began preparing the Temple for the re-dedication, they found that they only had enough oil to light the Temple for one night. It ended up lasting for eight days, until the delivery of new consecrated oil. Candles are lit each night of Hanukkah to commemorate the miracle.On the first evening, one candle is lit in a special candelabra called a menorah or hanukkiyah. Beginning on the second night, one candle is added every night until the total reaches eight on the last night.The candles are lit by a separate candle called a Shamash, which is lit first and then is used to light the other candles. The candles are placed in the menorah from right to left, but are lit from left to right.

      One symbol of Hanukkah is the dreidel. A game is played with this four-sided spinning top. Before the Maccabean Revolt, it was illegal for people under the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes to read the Torah. When soldiers came through, Jews pretended to play a gambling game involving tops.Traditional Hanukkah foods, such as the latkes, or potato pancakes, are fried in oil, as another way to incorporate the memory of the Maccabees into the holiday.

Christine Lagarde Fast Facts

Here’s a look at the life of Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

Birth date:
January 1, 1956Birth place: Paris, FranceBirth name: Christine Madeleine Odette Lallouette

    Father: Robert Lallouette, a professor of English literatureRead MoreMother: Nicole Lallouette, a professor of French, Latin and ancient GreekMarriages: Wilfried Lagarde (1982-1992, divorced); Eachran Gilmour (divorced) Children: with Wilfried Lagarde: Thomas and Pierre-Henri Education: University Paris X Nanterre, J.D.; Political Science Institute in Aix en Provence, M.A. Other Facts:
    Is an accomplished synchronized swimmer, and earned a spot on the French national team while in her teens.Speaks French, English and Spanish.The first woman chairman at the world’s largest law firm, Baker & McKenzie.Timeline:
    Associate and later partner in the Paris office of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie.1999-2005 – Chairman at Baker & McKenzie.July 2000 – Is appointed Knight of the Legion of Honour.June 2, 2005-May 15, 2007 – Minister of Foreign Trade.May 18-June 18, 2007 – Minister of Agriculture, Agribusiness and Forestry.June 19, 2007-June 28, 2011 – Is the first woman to serve as the Minister of Finance, Economy and Trade in France.June 28, 2011 – Is appointed as IMF Managing Director and Madame Chairman of the Executive Board, replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn.July 5, 2011 – Begins her five-year term as managing director of the IMF. The IMF discloses that Lagarde will receive an annual salary of $467,940 after taxes and an annual allowance of $83,760 for living expenses. March 20, 2013 – Lagarde’s Paris home is searched as part of an investigation into her role in settling a business dispute while she was finance minister.August 27, 2014 – Lagarde announces she has been placed under formal investigation in France for her alleged involvement in a long-running fraud case that stems from 2008 when she was finance minister under former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Prosecutors believe that Lagarde was negligent in dealing with a case in which a supporter of Sarkozy — Bernard Tapie — was awarded a settlement worth 285 million euros plus interest. Prosecutors believe Lagarde gave Tapie preferential treatment.December 17, 2015 – It is announced that Lagarde has been ordered to appear in court over her alleged involvement in the Bernard Tapie fraud case.May 15, 2016 – A French newspaper publishes an open letter signed by 17 leading women from government, including Lagarde, that says the behavior of France’s male elite must change. The letter states that while their political beliefs span a broad spectrum, they stand united. “We defend different ideas, but we share the will that sexism has no place in our society.”July 2016 – Lagarde is appointed to her second five-year term as the Managing Director of the IMF.July 22, 2016 – It is decided in a French court that Lagarde must stand trial over her handling of a long-running fraud case involving the rewarding of 285 million euros plus interest of public funds to French businessman Bernard Tapie.September 12, 2016 – A French court rejects Lagarde’s appeal and sets a December trial date at a special court that tries ministers for crimes in office. December 12, 2016 – Lagarde’s trial begins. She will be taking leave from her job but will still be “working during the evenings and at night with her [IMF] colleagues,” a spokesman said.

      December 19, 2016 – Is found guilty of negligence, but will not be fined or serve any time in jail.December 4, 2018 – Forbes ranks Lagarde third on its list of the world’s most powerful women, behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Pope removes 3 cardinals from his inner circle

Pope Francis has removed three cardinals from his small council of advisers for reasons of advanced age, the Vatican said Wednesday, though two also have been the subject of allegations relating to sexual abuse or covering it up.

Cardinal George Pell, 77, of Australia; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, 85, of Chile; and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, 79, of the Democratic Republic of Congo were removed from the council that Francis established in 2013, shortly after ascending to the papacy, the Vatican said in a statement.Cardinal George Pell, in MayPell, 77, was charged in his home country with multiple historical sexual assault offenses, police said in June. He is the most senior member of the Catholic Church in Australia but was placed on leave from the Vatican while the allegations are investigated.

    Pell has said he’s innocent and maintains that the charges — relating to claims of sexual abuse spanning three decades — are false.Errazuriz is being investigated by Chilean prosecutors on allegations that he didn’t act on reports of clergy abuse while he was archbishop of Santiago, the Catholic News Service and the Catholic News Agency reported.Read MoreErrazuriz has denied the allegations.

      Errazuriz announced in November that he was leaving the council. At the time, he said simply that his term on the council had ended, both news outlets reported.Pell and Errazuriz were original members of Francis’ council, which first included eight cardinals and convened to explore ways to reform the Catholic Church.

Jailing journalists has become a ‘new normal,’ says advocacy group

In China, award-winning photojournalist Lu Guang was reportedly taken away by authorities in a region where an estimated 1 million Muslim Uyghurs are being held in state-controlled “re-education camps.” In Turkey, Austrian journalist Max Zirngast was arrested, joining dozens of reporters currently imprisoned in the country. In Myanmar, two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were jailed while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims.

These detentions represent just a few examples of a sustained crackdown on press freedoms around the world, which has seen at least 250 journalists jailed annually over the past three years, according to report released Thursday by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The non-profit group found that least 251 journalists were jailed in 2018 — with 70% facing anti-state charges, such as belonging to or aiding groups deemed terrorist organizations.

    This represents a “new normal” as countries around the globe take an “authoritarian approach to critical news coverage,” said the report, which does an annual count of detained journalists. Award-winning Chinese photojournalist Lu Guang disappears in Xinjiang, wife says “The West that traditionally stood up to this … is missing in action,” the report’s author, Elana Beiser, told CNN. In terms of human rights, “You don’t see pressure from any kind coming from the White House, at least publicly,” she added.Read MoreThe release of the report comes just days after TIME Magazine named “The Guardians,” a group of journalists who have been targeted for their work, as Person of the Year 2018. Included in the Time magazine group was Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributor who was killed at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in October. “The Guardians” also included the journalists at the Capital Gazette, the Annapolis, Maryland newspaper where five employees were murdered by a gunman last June.Maria Ressa, chief executive of the Philippine news website Rappler, was also featured. Ressa was indicted last month on tax evasion charges — a case that free speech and civil liberties advocates have warned is part of a wider crackdown on dissent by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. She returned to the Philippines to post bail and fight the charges she said are “ridiculous.”Rappler chief Maria Ressa returns to Manila to fight 'ridiculous' tax charges The number of journalists jailed in 2018 represents a drop compared to last year’s record of more than 260 detentions. That fall is attributed to Ethiopia not arresting journalists and releasing thousands of political prisoners from jail under its reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed.”This is the first time since 2004 that we haven’t found a single journalist in jail (in Ethiopia),” Beiser told CNN. But that is not to say that the figures are not concerning, she adds.”This year is not at record levels, but it is up there, and it is striking that for so many years authoritarian governments can throw people in jail and feel no consequences or international pressure to do otherwise,” she said. .m-infographic–1544634954594 { background: url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2018/12/12/imprisoned_journalists_2018_375px.png) no-repeat 0 0 transparent; margin-bottom: 30px; padding-top: 163.031914893617%; width: 100%; -moz-background-size: cover; -o-background-size: cover; -webkit-background-size: cover; background-size: cover; } @media (min-width: 640px) { .m-infographic–1544634954594{ background-image: url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2018/12/12/imprisoned_journalists_2018_780px.png); padding-top: 86.53846153846155%; } } @media (min-width: 1120px) { .m-infographic–1544634954594{ background-image: url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2018/12/12/imprisoned_journalists_2018_780px.png); padding-top: 86.53846153846155%; } } <!– Beiser said the European Union, which is dealing with its own internal issues such as populist upheavals and the migrant crisis, does not have the leverage it used to have against countries such as Turkey, which imprisoned 68 journalists in 2018. “Even as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the fiercest critic of Saudi Arabia for the murder of (columnist Jamal) Khashoggi, his government continued to jail more journalists than any other on the planet,” the report said.Jailed Reuters journalists: Families face life with no fatherThe report found the number of journalists charged on “false news” charges rose to a record of 28 globally — compared with nine just two years ago — with Egypt jailing the most on such charges (19), followed by Cameroon (four) and Rwanda (three). The group blames a “heightened global rhetoric about ‘fake news,'” pointing to US President Donald Trump as the main culprit. Even amid increasing scrutiny after the murder of Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, Saudi Arabia “stepped up its repression of journalists at home, with at least 16 journalists behind bars on December 1,” the report said. The prisoners include four female journalists who wrote about women’s rights. After Turkey, China had the most journalists in detention (47), followed by Egypt (25), Saudi Arabia (16), Eritrea (16), Vietnam (11) and Azerbaijan (10). Turkey retains its title

    Turkey viewed Khashoggi’s murder as a hostile attack on its sovereignty, and the probe into his death has been a government priority for a variety of reasons.

    But the irony of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leading the quest for justice in this case was not lost on many observers.

    For a third year in a row Turkey has retained the title of the world’s largest jailer of journalists, the CPJ report reveals.

    The crackdown on the press intensified after a 2016 coup attempt, and new charges are brought nearly every month against opposition journalists, who are often accused of being part of or aiding outlawed groups.

    Critics say Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to silence those who oppose him, though officials deny it.

    The report cited the detention of at least 10 journalists in China’s Xinjiang region, where more than 1 million Uyghurs have reportedly been imprisoned, as a particularly egregious example.”This year, authorities stepped up regulation of technology that can bypass the country’s infamous firewall, issued lists of ‘approved’ news outlets and disbarred lawyers who represent jailed journalists,” the group wrote. “While President Trump has continually pressed Beijing over its trade and technology practices, human rights — such as press freedom and the crackdown in Xinjiang — have not figured into the headlines.”

      The report found that 98% of journalists were imprisoned by their own governments, that 13% of those in detention worldwide are women (an increase of 8% from last year), that freelancers accounted for 30% of all jailed journalists, and that politics is the “riskiest beat, followed by human rights.The CPJ report comes exactly one year since the Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested and later jailed for their work exposing a massacre of Rohingya Muslims by members of the Myanmar military. They were sentenced to seven years in prison in September, a verdict that cast a pall over the country’s media community, and sparked increased international criticism of the country’s de facto leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Armed police hunt for gunman in Strasbourg

Armed French police have launched an operation in Strasbourg’s Neudorf neighbourhood as they pursue the hunt for a gunman who killed three people in an attack on a Christmas market.

Elite officers from the RAID police unit fanned out along one street on Thursday, some with their guns trained on the houses in front of them.

Other officers extended a security perimeter in the neighbourhood.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told the Senate that police were acting on a lead and "eliminating any doubts".

There was no immediate indication they had located the suspect shooter.

Hundreds of police have also been scouring eastern France for the fugitive gunman behind the deadly attack, as flowers and lit candles were left at the site in the eastern French city.

More than 700 officers are involved in the hunt for 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, who has a long criminal record, had been flagged for extremism and was on a watchlist as a potential security threat.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told CNews television the focus was on catching the suspect as soon as possible, no matter whether he was dead or alive.

Chekatt allegedly shouted "God is great!" in Arabic and sprayed gunfire during Tuesday's rampage near Strasbourg's Christmas market.

The death toll was increased from two to three on Thursday.

The dead included a Thai tourist, 45-year-old Anupong Suebsamarn, according to the Thai Foreign Ministry.

Thirteen others were wounded, with five in serious condition, the prefecture of the Strasbourg region said.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said one Italian was among the wounded who was in a critical condition.

The Europhonica radio consortium said Antonio Megalizzi, 28, was in Strasbourg to follow the session of the European parliament.

Prosecutors have opened a terror investigation into the attack.

Police have distributed a photo of Chekatt, who was wounded in an exchange of fire with security forces, with the warning: "Individual dangerous, above all do not intervene".

France has raised its three-stage threat index to the highest level and deployed 1800 additional soldiers across France to help patrol streets and secure crowded events.

Benjamin Griveaux called on "yellow vest" protesters not to take to the streets. Some members of the movement have planned a fifth round of demonstrations on Saturday across France to demand tax relief.

The usually busy streets of Strasbourg were eerily empty on Thursday morning, with a heavy police and military presence.

The Christmas market was closed at least through Thursday, authorities said.

Some lit candles and brought flowers to a makeshift memorial at the site of the attack.

"You can feel a very heavy atmosphere due (to) all these events," resident Lucille Romance said.

"People are in a state of shock and are avoiding getting out of their house."

French authorities said that the suspect, born in Strasbourg, had run-ins with police starting at age 10 and his first conviction was at 13.

Chekatt has been convicted 27 times, mostly in France but also in Switzerland and Germany, for crimes including armed robbery.

Denise Williams and Brian Winchester ‘killed Mike Williams’

The murder trial against Denise Williams — who allegedly helped stage her husband’s death as a boating mishap — revealed a twisted web of extramarital affairs that included threesomes, according to court testimony.

The New York Post reports that Denise Williams, 48, faced the second day of testimony on Wednesday in her trial for allegedly conspiring to kill her 31-year-old spouse, Mike Williams, who vanished in December 2000 on a duck hunting trip at Lake Seminole in Florida.

Denise Williams listens to opening statements made by prosecutors during her trial. Picture: APSource:AP

Prosecutors allege Denise was involved in an affair with Mike’s childhood best friend, Brian Winchester, and they plotted to kill her husband so they could be together.

The pair is accused of staging Mike’s disappearance and collecting on his $US1.75 million ($A2.4 million) life insurance, after having a three-year affair leading up to his death.

Brian and Denise allegedly arranged for Brian to kill Mike while out on a duck hunting trip. Initially it was decided that he would push him into the water in his waders so that he would drown. However, Brian says after he pushed his best friend overboard he couldn’t deal with him flailing around in the water so he shot him.

“He started to yell and I didn’t know how to get out of that situation. I had my gun in the boat, and so I loaded my gun and I just made one or two circles around and I ended up circling closer towards him and he was in the water, and as I passed by, I shot him,” he said.

He said he dragged Mike’s body back to shore, put him in his truck and buried him hours later.

Mike, Denise and Brian Winchester were close friends and attended North Florida Christian School together, along with Winchester’s wife, Kathy Thomas, according to officials.

Denise Merrell, Mike Williams and Brian Winchester were all high school friends. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Both couples were high school sweethearts and would go on double-dates — even after they each married in 1994 and had children.

But court testimony revealed that the relationships between all four became more tangled over the years.

Scandalous photos of Denise and Kathy were shown to jurors from when the two women went on spring break with Winchester to Panama City Beach.

Winchester testified that he took the “sexual” pics after he ended his affair with Denise to try to work out his marriage. He claimed the photoshoot — which included an image of the women kissing — was after Mike’s death.

Denise Williams is accused of having her husband, Mike, killed. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

“They are photographs of Denise with my first wife Kathy of a sexual nature,” Winchester told the courtroom.

Kathy, however, told officials that she, Denise and Brian had a sexual experience with each other on a trip before Mike disappeared in late 2000, according to prosecutors. She was later recruited by law enforcement as an informant in the case, testimony revealed.

Kathy and Brian ultimately divorced in 2001 after both had extramarital affairs. Brian claimed that he learned Kathy was cheating on him with another childhood friend before he started his relationship with Denise.

Brian Winchester, the man who shot and killed Mike Williams, struggles to pull together his thoughts to speak about what occurred on the day Mike Williams was killed. Picture: APSource:AP

Brian allegedly started dating his pal’s widow again after his divorce, and they kept their relationship under wraps for five years after Mike’s death.

During this period, Brian allegedly cheated on Denise with a woman named Angela Stafford, who also was called to the witness stand.

Ms Stafford testified that she was in bed with Brian one night when Denise walked in on them. She claimed Brian then left to chase Denise, who allegedly later cheated on Brian with a co-worker, according to testimony.

Denise and Mike Williams had one daughter together, Anslee. Picture: InstagramSource:Supplied

But Brian would go on to marry Denise in 2005 — only for them to divorce nearly a decade later.

Mike Williams’ mum, Cheryl, testified that Denise threatened to keep her grandchild away from her if she didn’t stop looking for her son

Brian was arrested in 2016 after he became paranoid that Denise would reveal the truth about Mike and kidnapped her at gunpoint.

While awaiting trial, Brian was offered immunity in Mike’s case if he confessed about his friend’s disappearance.

The information he provided led to Denise’s arrest in May on charges for murder, conspiracy and accessory after the fact.

Denise Williams and daughter, Anslee. Picture: InstagramSource:Supplied

Denise’s lawyers claim that Brian has lied to authorities before and is now fabricating information about the case. They maintain their client’s innocence.

The blond widow faces life in prison if convicted of any of the charges.

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission

Originally published as Man’s wife, best friend ‘planned murder’

Donald Trump breaks silence on jailed lawyer Michael Cohen

Donald Trump has denied directing his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen to break the law after the US president’s longtime close ally was sentenced to three years for campaign finance violations and other crimes.

“I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law,” Mr Trump tweeted.

“It is called ‘advice of counsel,’ and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid.”

Donald Trump denied having any relationship with porn star Stormy Daniels. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Cohen apologised on Wednesday for covering up the “dirty deeds” of his ex-boss as he was handed jail time for multiple crimes including hush money payments implicating Mr Trump.

Pleading for leniency in a packed Manhattan courtroom before US District Court Judge William H. Pauley III, Cohen said he had been led astray by misplaced admiration for Mr Trump.

RELATED: Donald Trump’s former lawyer jailed for three years.

RELATED: Trump lawyer admits lying to Congress

RELATED: Trump calls for ex-lawyer Michael Cohen to be jailed

Mochael Cohen (centre) pictured at Trump Tower in 2016 with General Michael T. Flynn (left), who is also under investigation, and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Picture: APSource:Supplied

An emotional Cohen told the court he accepted responsibility for his personal crimes and “those involving the President of the United States of America.”

In his first public comments since Cohen’s sentencing, Mr Trump said on Twitter that legal experts had cleared him of any wrongdoing and repeated his denial that he had broken campaign finance laws, arguing that Cohen’s crimes did not involve campaign finance.

Michael Cohen made payments to porn star Stormy Daniels (left) and Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of who claim they had affairs with Donald Trump. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

“Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil bases,” Mr Trump tweeted.

“Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!”

Cohen admitted charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York of tax evasion, providing false statements to a bank and illegal campaign contributions.

Michael Cohen, accompanied by his children, arrives at federal court for his sentencing in New York. Picture: APSource:AP

Cohen also pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress — a charge stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia to get him elected.

Among the charges against Cohen was making secret payments to silence two women threatening to go public during the election campaign with claims they had affairs with Mr Trump.

Donald Trump called his former lawyer a “great liability”. Picture: APSource:AP

Sri Lanka court rules against president

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has ruled President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve parliament ahead of its term as illegal, in a setback for the embattled leader in his face-off with an elected premier.

Sirisena dissolved parliament on November 9 and called a general election for January 5 days after sacking Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and naming opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa to the post.

But the court rejected that decision. "President can't dissolve parliament before four-and-half years," Supreme Court Judge Sisira de Abrew said.

The court verdict means parliament elections will be held as scheduled after February 2020 and raises the possibility of Wickremesinghe being reinstated as prime minister since his coalition enjoys a majority in parliament.

Man in the US finds missing dad’s skeleton in basement of childhood home

The skeletal remains found buried in the basement of a home by a man searching for his long-lost father were positively identified as his missing father, US officials said.

The bones discovered by Mike Carroll and his two adult sons inside their Long Island, New York, home on Halloween belong to family patriarch George Carroll, authorities have determined.

“It’s unusually not shocking,” Carroll told the New York Post.

“Of course, it’s emotional, but we can handle it.”

The Long Island home where Mike Carroll found the skeleton of his father in the basement. Picture: ABC News 7Source:Supplied

Carroll grew up wondering what happened to his dad, who vanished without a trace in 1961 when Carroll was just eight months old.

“I’m happy to learn that that is my dad. This is a deep and very emotional thing and everybody is dealing with this in different ways. This has broken up my family,” Carroll told Newsday.

Carroll bought the home from his mother before her death in 1998, and spent years digging around for his father’s remains, spurred on by a hunch and a psychic who purportedly got a hit in the basement, he said.

And the body’s location wasn’t the only thing the clairvoyant got right, Carroll revealed.

Mike Carroll and his sons found the skeleton in a basement. Picture: ABC News 7Source:Supplied

“I was told by the psychic it was blunt force trauma,” he said. “She actually said to me that it was a pipe, that he got hit in the head by a pipe and he was buried alive.”

Investigators ruled last month that the then-unidentified body’s skull had been cracked open by “blunt force trauma.”

Now, the death is being probed as a homicide, but Carroll said that finding his dad’s body is closure enough for him.

“There will be no justice,” he said. “The justice happened when we dug him up because we just interrupted the perfect crime — they almost got away with this.”

Richard Daress moved into the home not long after George Carroll died. Picture: FacebookSource:Supplied

Richard Daress died in 2017. Picture: FacebookSource:Supplied

Carroll also said that his former stepfather, Richard Darress, his mother’s second husband who moved in not long after George Carroll died, might have known something about the disappearance.

However Darress later moved to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and died in June at the age of 77. “I’m trying to avoid pointing a finger at this point,” Carroll said.

Mike Carroll’s mum, centre, died in 1998. Picture: FacebookSource:Supplied

According to records, Dorothy divorced Darress in 1983 after she suspected him of cheating on her and threw him out of the house four years earlier.

The family is working to arrange a proper military burial of the remains.

“I tell my sons … we hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth, two outs,” Carroll said. “We found our dad, so we win.”

Mike Carroll grew up wondering what happened to his dad, who vanished without a trace in 1961. Picture: ABC News 7Source:Supplied

— with the New York Post

Originally published as Son finds dad’s body in home after 50yrs

Gunman kills Israeli soldiers on West Bank

A Palestinian gunman has killed two Israeli soldiers at a bus station in the occupied West Bank Israel’s military said, hours after Israeli forces killed two Hamas fugitives it blamed for earlier deadly attacks.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said the gunman had climbed from a car at a junction near Ofra settlement and opened fire at Israeli troops and civilians standing nearby.

In addition to the two soldiers killed, a third was wounded.

The attack took place near the site of a drive-by shooting on Sunday that wounded seven Israelis, including a pregnant woman whose baby was delivered prematurely and later died.

Also on Thursday, a man stabbed and wounded two Israeli police troopers in East Jerusalem and was shot dead, police said. His identity was not immediately clear.

In earlier overnight swoops in the West Bank, Israel said on Thursday its commandos had killed the Palestinian behind Sunday's attack, as well as another wanted for an October 7 shooting at a settlement industrial park that killed a man and a woman, both civilians.

The vehicle in Thursday's attack on the Israeli soldiers fled toward Ramallah, Conricus said, prompting Israeli troops to shut down entrances to the West Bank city and to begin searches and roadblocks.

While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, Fawzi Barhoum, a Gaza-based spokesman for the armed Islamist group Hamas, hailed that attack as an "heroic and brave operation".

Conricus would not say whether Israel thought Thursday's shooting was carried out by an organisation, or by someone acting independently. But he said that recent attacks had been "glorified" on Palestinian social and regular media outlets.

"We are definitely aware of the phenomenon of copycats and our forces are deployed accordingly." He added: "This could definitely fall into that pattern."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's office issued a statement on Thursday denouncing violence.

Published by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, it blamed the recent events on Israel's "policy of repeated raids into cities and incitement against the President, and the absence of a peace horizon".