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David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Depending on their affinity for the white stuff, residents of upstate and western New York state found themselves in a winter wonderland on Saturday, with nearly 18 inches of lake-effect snow reported in some areas.

Cattaragus County, which borders Pennsylvania in western New York state, received 17.6 inches of snow. Erie County reported 14 inches, and the city of Dunkirk issued a temporary travel advisory so it could keep up with snow removal.

For now, the threat of lake-effect snow has ended.

Looking ahead, a weak disturbance will slide into parts of the interior of the Northeast on Monday, dumping snow onto an area stretching from New York to Maine during the morning hours. It does not appear that this system will result in heavy accumulation.

In fact, some milder weather is heading for the Northeast -- potentially into the 50s for New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington, D.C. But all good things must come to an end: This mild weather will be short-lived.

Turning to the south-central U.S., several rounds of rain are headed toward that region over the next few days. A round of heavy rain was moving through parts of the Gulf Coast Sunday morning. Another round of rain will move into parts of southeast Texas and southern Louisiana on Monday. A more widespread round of rain threatens to arrive on Tuesday, with heavy rain expected from Texas to Arkansas. Locally, over 4 inches of rain is expected over the next few days, and a localized flooding threat can't be ruled out.

A potent disturbance will arrive in the Northwest and northern Rockies by Tuesday and Wednesday. Rain is expected along the Northwest coast, and widespread mountain snow is expected in the northern Rockies.

This system will reorganize and dominate the weather in the central U.S. by Thursday and Friday, which will be busy travel days. At this time, it is too early to determine the precise location and magnitude of winter weather impacts. However, it does appear that parts of the central U.S. will be impacted by winter weather at the end of this week.

Furthermore, as we head toward Christmas, it appears that the weather pattern will bring higher probabilities of below-average temperatures for much of the U.S. As this pattern sets into place, it looks as if more turbulent and impactful weather will be likely as the holiday weekend approaches.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, firefighters are feverishly battling the Thomas Fire, the third largest fire in California. The 418-square-mile (267,500 acres) blaze has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and is at 40 percent containment.

Strong winds and dry conditions are not helping the firefighting efforts.

Dry Santa Ana winds gusted to 65 mph on Saturday in Montecito, California, on Saturday. Nearly 18,000 structures are threatened in both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. New evacuation orders were issued on Saturday for parts of Santa Barbara County, affecting between 20,000 and 25,000 residents. Officials now estimate that full containment will be achieved on Jan. 7.

Sunday's forecast is very concerning. There's an "extreme fire danger" warning for most of Southern California's hillsides and mountains, where winds are expected to gust as high as 55 mph. The dry winds will keep relative humidity as low as 10 percent. This will lead to rapid fire growth and erratic fire behavior.

Parts of Central and Northern California are also at a critical risk for fire danger as well, due to locally strong wind gusts and dry conditions.

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David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images(TORONTO) -- Responding to media reports on the manner of death of their parents, the family of Canadian drug billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Honey Sherman said they believe the "rumors regrettably circulated" to be untrue.

News outlets in Canada and the United States have termed the deaths as a possible murder-suicide and several Canadian news organizations, citing police sources, said the couple was found on Friday hanged in the basement of their plush home on Old Colony Road in the North York area of Toronto.

A Toronto police official on Friday called the deaths "suspicious" but said the department was not searching for suspects in the case.

Investigators are awaiting the results of autopsies, currently underway, to gain clarity about the Shermans' deaths.

In a statement released Saturday by Apotex Inc., the company founded by Barry Sherman, the family urged the media to stand down from further reporting on the deaths until the completion of the investigation, which they hoped would be "thorough, intensive and objective."

"Our parents shared an enthusiasm for life and commitment to their family and community totally inconsistent with the rumors regrettably circulated in the media as to the circumstances surrounding their deaths," the statement says. "We are shocked and think it's irresponsible that police sources have reportedly advised the media of a theory which neither their family, their friends nor their colleagues believe to be true."

The couple, whose wealth was estimated at $3.2 billion, wasamong Canada’s richest families and its most generous philanthropists.

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Dick Loek/Toronto Star/Getty Images(TORONTO) -- Canadian billionaire and philanthropist Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey, have been found dead in their Toronto mansion, officials said.

Two bodies were found at 50 Old Colony Road in the North York area of the Canadian city on Friday after police received a call around 11:45 a.m. detailing a medical incident at the home, Toronto Police Constable David Hopkinson said at a press conference Friday afternoon.

Investigators described the deaths as "suspicious" but said it is too early to deem them homicides, Hopkinson said. The homicide unit has not yet been called in, he added.

While police did not release the identities of the bodies found, Dr. Eric Hoskins, the province of Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, was first to confirm the couple's deaths on Twitter, describing Barry and Honey Sherman as "dear friends."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his condolences Friday night, tweeting "Sophie and I are saddened by news of the sudden passing of Barry and Honey Sherman. Our condolences to their family & friends, and to everyone touched by their vision & spirit."

Barry Sherman founded Toronto-based pharmaceutical company Apotex Inc. His estimated net worth is $3.2 billion, according to Forbes.

Apotex tweeted Friday night, "We’ve been informed of the tragic news that Barry and Honey Sherman have unexpectedly passed away. All of us at Apotex are deeply shocked and saddened by this news and our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time."

Apotex posted a lengthier statement on its website Saturday morning.

"It is with profound sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of our founder, Dr. Bernard C. Sherman, Chairman of the Board of the Apotex Group of Companies, at the age of 75, and his wife Honey Sherman," the company said. "Dr. Sherman gave his life to the singular purpose of our organization – innovating for patient affordability. Patients around the world live healthier and more fulfilled lives thanks to his life's work, and his significant impact on healthcare and healthcare sustainability will have an enduring impact for many years to come. As employees, we are proud of his tremendous accomplishments, honored to have known him, and vow to carry on with the Apotex purpose in his honor."

Honey Sherman was a member of the board of the Baycrest Foundation -- the fundraising arm of a research and teaching hospital for the elderly in Toronto -- as well as the York University Foundation. She also served on the boards of Mount Sinai's Women's Auxiliary, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the International American Joint Distribution Committee, according to ABC's Canadian partner, CTV News.

The Shermans were among Canada's most generous philanthropists, making several numerous multimillion-dollar donations to hospitals, schools and charities.

A University of Toronto website lists the Apotex Foundation and the Shermans as donors in the range of $10 million to $25 million during 1995 and 2003. They also donated about $50 million to the United Jewish Appeal, CTV News reported.

The couple had recently placed their 12,440 square foot home for sale, listing the modern home -- located within the city limits of Toronto -- for nearly $7 million, according to

Further details on their deaths were not immediately available.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- Two South Korean photojournalists in China to cover a state visit of their country's president were beaten by Chinese security guards in Beijing, according to media reports and sources.

The violence occurred at a trade show called the South Korea-China Economic and Trade Partnership as press were trying to get a closer photo of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, according to journalists who were present and press reports.

After members of the media reportedly complained that excessive protection was blocking their access to President Moon, a group of Chinese guards started pushing, punching and kicking a photojournalist who had fallen to the ground, according to media reports and a journalist at the event who spoke to ABC News.

Another South Korean journalist was also injured by Chinese guards at the event, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

A 56-second video shot by the press pool and provided to ABC News shows a man yelling in Korean to the Chinese guards, "Don't touch," and "Stop."

Someone at the scene is also heard calling out, “Do not kick him.”

Both of the injured photojournalists required medical treatment.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha delivered a formal complaint on the incident to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

A spokesman for China's foreign ministry noted that South Korea as the host of the trade show had arranged to have Chinese guards at the event.

“Although it was organized by South Korea, [the incident] took place in China, so we are paying it major attention,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu-Kang said at a regular briefing on Friday.

Some South Korean civic organizations including media-related associations are calling for an investigation of the incident.

President Moon was attending the event to foster trade relations between the two countries during his 4-day state visit.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the second Friday in row, thousands of Palestinians in Jerusalem, Gaza and across the occupied West Bank turned out to protest more than a week after President Donald Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and days before his vice president visits the region.

Nearly 400 Palestinians were injured today across the Palestinian territories, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Four Palestinians have also been shot dead by Israeli forces, two in the West Bank and two in Gaza, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Today was the deadliest day since Trump's Dec. 6 announcement, and the funerals are expected to be held Saturday.

In Gaza, one of the two Palestinians killed was 29-year-old Ibrahim, a paraplegic who lost both legs during an Israeli airstrike in the 2008-2009 war with Israel, his family told ABC News.

Two Palestinians were killed and 110 were injured by #Israeli army in Gaza demos according to #Palestinian health ministry , one of them is disabled and he came to participate in the protest against #Trump’s #Jerusalem deceleration

— Nasser Atta (@nasseratta5) December 15, 2017

In Jerusalem, Israeli police were seen handcuffing and dragging away a teenager on crutches who said he had a broken leg.

In the West Bank, a Palestinian wearing what appeared to be a suicide belt stabbed an Israeli Border Police officer today before being shot and seriously wounded, Israeli police said.

The officer sustained moderate injuries and the Israeli police have tweeted a picture of the knife. The stabbing occurred between the settlement of Beit El and the West Bank Palestinian city of Ramallah.


Border police officer stabbed moderately by Palestinian terrorist during riots near Ramallah. Terrorist shot. Officer in moderate condition.

— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) December 15, 2017

Throughout the Old City today, Palestinians clashed with Israeli border police in the narrow, walled streets.

In Jerusalem, after Friday prayers, worshippers chanted "Jerusalem will always be an Arab city," as they left al Haram al Sharif, or the Temple Mount, after praying at al Aqsa Mosque. There were no age restrictions for Friday prayers, Israeli Police Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld said.

Vice President Mike Pence was expected to be in the region early next week, but his visit has been delayed until Wednesday because of the U.S. Senate tax bill vote, according to his office. He will now fly to Egypt Tuesday to meet with President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, before landing in Tel Aviv Wednesday and visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem Wednesday evening.

He's expected to speak to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on Thursday and dine with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He's not expected to meet with any Palestinian leaders, according to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office.

Jerusalem has been fairly quiet this week with intermittent flare-ups but no major protests. Israeli police violently broke up a small sit-in outside of Damascus Gate Thursday night.

The entrance to the Muslim Quarter, on the seam between West Jerusalem and occupied East Jerusalem, continues to be a flashpoint more than a week after Trump's announcement.

Exiting the Old City around 6 p.m. Thursday, Palestinians gathered in the amphitheater outside of the Old City gate. Israeli police and border police charged the area, attempting to break up the crowd.

Fistfights broke out, and protesters were dragged away one by one.

Israeli police security measures are in place today in and around the old city of Jerusalem, Rosenfeld, the police superintendent, tweeted today.

If incidents occur, he added, police will respond.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Dutch military police said they shot a knife-wielding man on Friday at one of Europe's busiest airports.

The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee announced via Twitter that "the situation is safe" at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport after the suspect, who threatened to use a knife, was detained and removed from the scene.

The airport's main plaza was initially evacuated but has since been reopened to the public.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have set a wedding date.

Harry, 33, and Markle, 36, will marry on May 19, 2018, Kensington Palace announced today.

The couple’s wedding will be held at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

St. George's Chapel is a smaller venue than Westminster Abbey, where Prince William and Kate tied the knot in 2011, and St. Paul's Cathedral, where Prince Charles and Diana wed in 1981.

Harry and Markle, an American actress, announced their engagement on Nov. 27. The couple met through a mutual friend in London.

Markle will join Harry and other members of the royal family at Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth's estate, on Christmas Day, Kensington Palace confirmed earlier this week.

After Christmas, Markle and Harry are expected to take a holiday. Kensington Palace has confirmed Markle will take some time off before the wedding to see her friends and family in the United States.

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Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At his annual end-of-year press conference, a marathon question and answer session where he takes questions for hours, Russian president Vladimir again dismissed suspicions of possible collusion between Russia and members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, saying they were “invented” by Trump’s opponents.

“This is all invented by people who oppose Trump to give his work an illegitimate character,” Putin said, answering a question from ABC News’ Terry Moran.

Russia will hold presidential elections next March and this year Putin used the event to broadcast his own achievements while heading off the battered opposition who have been permitted to run against him.

The event is heavily stage-managed, with the Kremlin loosely arranging the order of questioning. Although Russia's handful of independent media outlets are allowed to ask questions, Putin usually moves swiftly over them. Follow up questions are not allowed, meaning Putin has little difficulty avoiding being pinned down.

During this year's event, more than 1600 journalists were present, asking questions on subjects ranging from nuclear arms treaties with the United States to the problems of local fish production.

On Donald Trump Asked how he would explain the unusually large number of Russians linked to his government being in contact with Trump’s campaign, Putin said there was nothing odd about it.

"Should we ban all contacts?" Putin asked. Bringing up the example of meetings by Russia’s then ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, with Trump advisors during the campaign, Putin asked, "What do you find egregious in that? Why does it all have to take on some tint of spymania?,” said Putin.

Putin also praised Trump, crediting him with some “major achievements” in his relatively short time in office. “Look at the market!” Putin said, referring to the stock market highs that have accompanied Trump's time in office. “This speaks to investors’ trust in the American economy.”

Putin went on that he believed there were things that Trump had not yet done that he would have wished, such as U.S. healthcare, but also improving relations with Russia. But he added: "It's already obvious that even if he would like to do that, he's not in a state to do that because of the well-known limits," seeming to refer to the uproar around Trump's relationship to Russia.

"I don't know if he still has such a wish or if it's entirely exhausted-- I hope there is," Putin said, adding he believes in the end the two countries "will normalize our relations and develop and overcome common threats."

On Olympic Doping
A week after Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics over systematic efforts to conceal doping by its athletes, Putin attacked the key whistle-blower who revealed the scheme, suggesting the man had given false evidence on the orders of the American intelligence services.

Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory who has claimed to have helped Russia's sports ministry cover up hundreds of positive tests, provided the key evidence to enquiries by international sporting bodies that eventually led to Russia’s banning from the Olympics. Rodchenkov is now in hiding in the U.S. under government protection.

Russia has never accepted the allegations that the doping cover up was state-sponsored, and Putin suggested the claims were the invention of U.S. intelligence.

"He is under the control and the protection of the FBI. That means he is working under the control of the American secret services," Putin said. "What are they doing with him there? What drugs do they give him, so that he says what’s needed?”

The Russian president added that he believed the doping allegations were being “ramped up” to weaken him in next year's presidential elections. Putin seemed to imply that Rodchenkov might even have been an American spy while carrying out the doping scheme.

“What’s strange for me, as a person who worked for a long time in the security service: he brought all this crap from North America —- from the U.S. and Canada. How did they let him through customs with such tough controls? Of course, certain thoughts arise on this account."

On his opponents Putin formally announced he would run in March’s presidential elections last week. With Russia’s opposition marginalized and the media dominated by the Kremlin, he is expected to win without difficulty.

At the press conference he dismissed the country's opposition, or the few opponents who have been allowed to run against him, as immature and dangerous.

“It’s not my job to nurture competitors," Putin said, adding that he also wonders why the political opposition remains small. Russia’s opposition are subjected to almost constant pressure from authorities, with their rallies regularly broken up by police and activists arrested.

Putin's most popular opponent, the anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, who has led large protests around Russia, is barred from running in the elections by a fraud conviction that he says is politically-motivated.

Putin, as he often does, avoided mentioning Navalny's name, simply criticizing those "who make noise on the public square" without offering anything "constructive."

Navalny during the press conference posted a link on Twitter to his presidential campaign's political program, saying Putin must be "trying hard" to miss it.

With the opposition largely excluded from Russian state media, the event saw what might be the closest Russia gets to a presidential debate. Ksenia Sobchak, a former socialite turned celebrity journalist and the daughter of Putin's political mentor is likely to be his most high profile opponent in the election. From the audience, where she waved a red sign with her name on it, she asked Putin whether he feared competition, saying that being opposition figure in Russia was to face “being killed or jailed.” She also referred to Navalny, who has been imprisoned repeatedly for protesting.

“I promise you, the authorities haven’t been afraid of anyone and don’t fear anyone,” Putin retorted to Sobchak. He dismissed her as not offering a constructive program and suggesting she wanted to open the door to the chaos of the 1990s. “Do you want attempted coups? We’ve lived through all that. Do you really want to go back to all that? I am sure that the overwhelming majority of Russian citizens do not want this. We’ve already gone though all that. Do you want to go back to that?”

North Korea Putin said that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent statement that the U.S. is ready to negotiate with North Korea without pre-conditions was a “very good signal” and that Russia would cooperate in that direction.

But Putin heavily criticised the U.S. over its broader approach to North Korea, saying it had “provoked” the North Koreans into exiting previous negotiations and agreements. He also mocked the U.S. Congress.

"Have you noticed your Congressmen? They look great, suits, ties. Like smart guys," Putin said. "But they put us in one line with North Korea and Iran, while pushing president Trump to persuade us to help solve the problem. Are you guys normal over there at all?"

Nuclear Arms Race

Putin accused the U.S. of unilaterally withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF), a crucial arms control agreement that helped significantly reduce tensions between Russia and the U.S. at the end of the Cold War and that recently both sides had suggested is under threat.

The U.S. has accused Russia of violating the INF treaty by deploying a new ground-based cruise missile. Russia denies it is in violation and argues the U.S. has already breached the treaty by setting up an anti-missile system in Europe, something the U.S. also disputes.

"In fact and in essence, the process has started," Putin said of the possible unilateral withdrawal by the U.S. "If the things go the same way, there is nothing good about it."

He added that Russia would not withdraw from the treaty.

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iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- A regional train and a school bus collided in southern France Thursday, killing four children and injuring more than a dozen others.

The incident occurred at around 4 p.m. local time in the village of Millas. About 20 students between the ages of 11 and 15 were being taken home in a school bus when it collided at a railway crossing with a train, local authorities said in a statement.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who flew to the scene of the accident, confirmed that four teenage children were killed and 11 others had been critically injured.

"The circumstances of this terrible drama are still undetermined," Philippe said.

A spokeswoman for the French national rail company, SNCF, told ABC News that the train normally travels at about 50 miles per hour at the location of the crash and that 25 people were on board at the time. Three of the train's passengers were slightly injured.

All emergency services have been mobilized and a crisis coordination unit has been set up, local authorities said. 100 firefighters were called to the scene, along with 10 ambulances, two air ambulances, and two police helicopters.

"All my thoughts are with the victims of this terrible accident of a school bus and with their families. The state is fully mobilized to come to their aid," French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted in French.

Psychological help is being offered to families and students on site, authorities said, and an investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the accident.

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Kate Green/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Holding white roses and photographs of their loved ones, families of the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire gathered for a national memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral in London on Thursday.

Exactly six months ago, on July 14th, the fire in the 24-story high-rise in North Kensington claimed the lives of 71 people -- 53 adults and 18 children. Many of the survivors remain unsettled without permanent housing.

On the eve of the families' first New Year without their loved ones, members of the Royal Family and high-ranking officials joined the bereaved families to give thanks to those who stood with them since then.

With more than 1,500 people in attendance, the Bishop of Kensington, the Right Reverend Dr. Graham Tomlin, said he believes the catastrophe was the result of neglecting the community.

"Today we ask why warnings were not heeded, why a community was left feeling neglected, uncared for, not listened to," Tomlin said, addressing the audience that included members of the extended community, public support workers, emergency and recovery teams and volunteers.

Tomlin said he hoped it would become a turning point and that communities like Grenfell will be heard more in the future.

“My hope and prayer is that this new year can bring new hope of a future," Tomlin added, "a vision of a city where we lose our self-obsession and listen and learn from places and people that we wouldn’t normally think of reaching out to."

He said he hoped the word "Grenfell" would transform over time from a symbol of "sorrow, grief or injustice" to "a symbol of the time we learned a new and better way: to listen and to love."

During the service, a young Syrian musician played mournful music with an oud, an instrument used in countries in the Middle East and Africa, from which many of the Grenfell fire victims had heritage.

“Remember Me” by Persian poet, Rumi, was read by one of the fire's survivors, Nadia Jafari. She managed to escape from the tower, but lost her elderly father, Ali, to the fire.

Among the officials and Royal Family members attending the service were Prime Minister Theresa May, the opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Prince Charles and his sons Prince William and Prince Harry.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Two weeks after a media report alleging that U.S. Army Special Forces were involved in the killing of unarmed civilians in Somalia, the head of U.S. Africa Command has ordered a new probe into the operation.

"After subsequent media reports alleged misconduct by U.S. personnel who participated in the operation, Gen. [Thomas] Waldhauser referred the matter to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to ensure a full exploration of the facts given the gravity of the allegations," a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) told ABC News. "AFRICOM takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and will leverage the expertise of appropriate organizations to ensure such allegations are fully and impartially investigated."

The Daily Beast reported Nov. 29 that the 10 to 13 U.S. Green Berets, along with a group from the Somali National Army, shot dead 10 civilians in the village of Bariire, Somalia, about 30 miles outside the capital of Mogadishu, on Aug. 25.

Shortly after the Daily Beast reported its story, AFRICOM released the results of its investigation into the civilian casualty allegations made after the Aug. 25 operation, concluding "the only casualties were those of armed enemy combatants."

Villagers who spoke to the Daily Beast alleged that after civilians were killed, U.S. forces directed Somali soldiers to raid the home used to store the villager's guns and place the weapons beside the dead civilians before photographing them.

The report goes on to say that the villagers brought the dead civilians to Mogadishu in a refrigerated truck, as evidence to present to the Somali government. Within days, Somalia's chief of defense forces and minister of information said civilians had been killed in the operation, the Daily Beast reported.

But the Somali government's investigation into the incident was never publicly released.

A Somali government official and former security official told the Daily Beast that was because of pressure from the U.S. government. To appease the families of the victims, both sources said, the Somali government paid the families between $60,000 and $70,000 each, one source even alleging that money came from the U.S. government.

There is about 400 U.S. military personnel in Somalia partnering with the Somali government on counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab and ISIS. The United States has conducted 32 airstrikes inside Somalia in 2017, in addition to accompanying Somali military forces on ground operations as part of an advise-and-assist mission.

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Subscribe To This Feed -- Russian President Vladimir Putin took a page out of the playbook of President Donald Trump on Thursday by referring to allegations of contact between U.S. and Russian officials during the 2016 election as "all invented."

Putin spoke to reporters at a marathon press conference on Thursday -- an annual tradition for the Russian leader.

ABC News' Terry Moran asked Putin about the allegations of contact between Trump and the Kremlin during last year's election, a charge currently being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Putin echoed Trump's favorite phrase of "fake news" in dismissing the allegations.

"All of this has been invented, made up by people who are in opposition to President Trump with a view to shedding a negative light on what President Trump is doing " Putin said, translated from Russian, and going on to call it "nonsense."

He accused those suggesting collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign as "not respecting the voters who voted for him."

Trump has used similar language to deny any Russian meddling in the election.

Putin praised the work of Trump in the first year of his presidency, citing the record-high stock market as evidence.

"Objectively, we see some serious achievements accomplished over the short span he is president," Putin said. "Look at the markets, how they’ve grown. This attests to the trust investors show in him on the American economy."

Putin said there "were also things that [Trump] has not yet managed to do that he would like to."

Mueller's probe into the Trump campaign continues, with him interviewing White House communications director, and former campaign aide, Hope Hicks earlier this week. Donald Trump Jr. also appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday for a nine-hour interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Two Trump associates -- campaign chairman Paul Manafort and aide Richard Gates -- have been indicted on multiple charges resulting from Mueller's investigation. They have pleaded not guilty. Former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn have both pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI while in the course of the investigation.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Retired NBA player Dennis Rodman sat down for an interview with "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on Wednesday to discuss his controversial relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Rodman, who's visited North Korea at least five times over the last four years, said the two aren’t “best friends,” but he described their relationship as “close.”

“I'm not protecting him. And people think that I sit there and say, ‘Hey, he's my best friend.’ That's not the case,” Rodman said. “He just treats me as a friend.

“I'm close enough to him to the fact that he can discuss anything with me. The deal is I don't discuss politics because that's not my job,” he added.

Rodman, an NBA Hall of Famer, said he and Kim first bonded a few years ago when the rogue leader asked for his trust.

“When I went over there, the first thing he said to me [was], ‘Mr. Rodman we just want to know, can we trust you?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ And that's how our conservation started,” he recalled. “I went over there to try to solve things, to try to open the door so we can have some communication.”

Rodman said he does not agree with all of Kim’s political decisions, but he does want to act as a bridge between the U.S. and North Korea.

“He's more of a kid, than anything,” Rodman said. “I think he really wants to change his culture, but I think he's forced to be in this position because every time I go over there, he's changed so much for the people. The people don't see that.

“Like I said, you don't have to like somebody to be around them. You don't have to love somebody to like them,” Rodman added.

In the past, Rodman, who said he is a supporter of President Donald Trump, has called on the president to unite with North Korea, but that seems unlikely as North Korea continues to defy demands for it to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

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(LONDON) --  iStock/Thinkstock"The new embassy signifies a new era of friendship between our two countries," U.S. Ambassador Woody Johnson announced to reporters Wednesday at the press preview of the new U.S. Embassy in London.

"When you look out through the window, it reflects the global outlook of the U.S. in the 21st century," he said, flanked by the American flag and the Union Jack, in front of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the River Thames.

On this grim, drizzly London day he spoke about a "very bright future," as reporters were left to imagine the main cafeteria awash in sunlight sometime, perhaps, in August.

Johnson, 70, is the billionaire owner of the New York Jets and heir to pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson who has rallied big money for Republican candidates including President Donald Trump. Just six weeks officially into the ambassadorial gig, Trump's long-time friend stuck to the administration script at a time when that special relationship between the U.S. and U.K. appears to be in some trouble.

"This relationship is strong and enduring," he repeated multiple times on Wednesday.

When asked about the damage done when President Trump re-tweeted three videos shared by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, last month, he brushed it off.

"I don't think these kind of things will deter [Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May] from the objectives they both have," he said. He wouldn't say it was wrong for the president to retweet the videos and added that it's not really his job to smooth this out. For her part, May made it clear last month that "retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do." 

The imposing cube-shaped building is now the centerpiece of the largest regeneration project in Europe, Nine Elms in the Wandsworth borough of London. It spans 518,050 square feet, climbs more the 200 feet tall and cost a billion dollars, making it the most expensive U.S. Embassy building ever.

"It's a neighborhood with a great view. And a great future," Johnson said, joined today by key partners in this decade-long project.

For more than 200 years, the home of the U.S. diplomatic post has been in Grosvenor Square, in London's swanky Mayfair borough. The most recent embassy building, which opened in 1960, has now been sold to a Qatari developer, and “Little America," as it's called here, "is moving south of the river," said Johnson.

The new ambassador described the current embassy as a "window to the special relationship that the U.S. and U.K. have built together." It's famously topped with a bronze sculpture of the American Bald Eagle which will remain behind, and a flag that “the president would like ... because it’s a very big flag," the ambassador quipped.

The new building will open for business on January 16, 2018, but the dedication will come at a later, undisclosed date.

Asked if President Trump would dedicate the building, Johnson said "it depends on his schedule... He's a busy president at the moment, traveling the world and traveling the U.S. Yeah, we'd love to have him over here and we look forward to welcoming the president when he gets here."

Under fire to rescind her invitation last month over those Britain First retweets, Prime Minister May has reiterated that the invitation to the American president still stands. Speaking in Amman, Jordan last month, May told reporters that "an invite for a state visit has been extended and has been accepted. No date has been set."

In recent weeks, calls from both the British public and politicians to protest the American president's state visit have grown louder - but Johnson isn't worried.

"The great thing about being in London and the great thing about being in the U.S. is the ability to express your point of view," he said. "That's something we live with every day and it's an important part of who we are."

"The new embassy is a signal to the world that this special relationship we have will get stronger and will get better," he concluded. "And I’m going to do that if I can."

"Drop the 'if I can,'" he quickly added. "We’re going to make it stronger.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When President Donald Trump announced two months ago that he would not certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, he automatically triggered a 60-day review period during which Congress could decide to snap tough economic sanctions on Iran back into place -- a move that would effectively kill the landmark nuclear arms agreement.

That review period expired Tuesday, and the results are in: Congress chose not to act.

The White House said Tuesday that there was never any expectation Congress would act on sanctions within the review period and that the administration is still working with Congress on a longer-term, legislative fix to the deal.

That means the deal, which Trump recently described as the "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into," remains unchanged. And the Republican Congress, which the president hopes will make a decision for him, is signaling they may lack the political grit to pass a law that kills it.

Trump has said he wants Congress to "fix the flaws in the deal" by passing a law that would remove sunset clauses and impose restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile program. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called them "trigger points" that relate to unacceptable Iranian behavior. But all five international signatories to the deal agree a U.S. law like that would amount to a material breach.

Congress' inaction during the review period raises questions about whether they will pass a new law that could kill the deal later.

Micah Johnson, a spokesman for Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told ABC News the senator is having "productive discussions" with the administration and other congressional leaders about the "appropriate path forward."

Sens. Corker and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., released a legislative framework for fixing the Iran deal two months ago, but sources on Capitol Hill told ABC News that so far there is no new legislation circulating.

Trump has threatened to end the deal on his own if Congress does nothing. "In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated," the president said in October. "It is under continuous review, and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time."

Assuming Congress doesn't put forward any new legislation on Iran, the next step lies with Trump, and he could reach a tipping point when he's confronted with making a decision on the next round of sanctions waivers on Jan. 13.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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