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Prince Harry and former actress Meghan Markle shocked the world — including their family — on Wednesday by announcing their plans to “step back” as senior members of the royal family.

In a statement on their Instagram account, the couple said they plan to “work to become financially independent” by “starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.” Their announcement was preceded by months of scrutiny and rumors that they would be reducing their workloads as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Buckingham Palace followed with a statement saying discussions about the duke and duchess’ plans are “at an early stage” and “complicated.”

Reactions to the developments on social media were swift, with “Meghan” topping U.S. Twitter trends during the afternoon. Some even took to using the hashtag #Megxit in response the news.

Responses included many expressing disbelief at how events unfolded, particularly regarding reports that the royal family was not given advance notice of the announcement.

Many voiced their support of the royal couple’s decision and called out what they saw as racist “media bullying” against Meghan.

Others were critical of Harry and Meghan’s announcement (including some with racist takes that will not be reposted here).

Still others took the occasion to bring up other royal controversies or raised questions about the implication of the duke and duchess’ move.

Of course, there were plenty of people who just seized on the occasion to make jokes.

Parody Twitter accounts also got in on the fun.

What's on TV Thursday: 'The Unicorn' on CBS

January 9, 2020 | News | No Comments


Young Sheldon George Sr. and Meemaw (Lance Barber, Annie Potts) struggle to manage the Cooper household; Mary (Zoe Perry) is planning Pastor Jeff’s (Matt Hobby) wedding. Iain Armitage also stars in this new episode. 8 p.m. CBS

Superstore After Cloud 9’s acquisition, Amy (America Ferrera) struggles to contact the store’s new parent company in this new episode. 8 p.m. NBC

Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time The competition between the three highest money winners in the game show’s history continues. Alex Trebek hosts. 8 p.m. ABC

Last Man Standing After a chat with Bonnie (Susan Sullivan), Mike (Tim Allen) struggles to balance his need for “me time” and finding common hobbies with Vanessa (Nancy Travis). Also, Kristin (Amanda Fuller) wants a gender reveal party. 8 p.m. Fox

The Unicorn Wade (Walton Goggins) thinks he may be ready to take his relationship with Anna (guest star Sarayu Blue) to the next level, as long as his daughters, Grace and Natalie (Ruby Jay, Makenzie Moss), approve of her. Michaela Watkins, Rob Corddry, Omar Miller and Maya Lynne Robinson also star. 8:30 p.m. CBS

The Good Place The group tries to negotiate an afterlife plan with Shawn and the judge (Marc Evan Jackson, Maya Rudolph). Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto and Ted Danson star in this new episode. 8:30 p.m. NBC

Will & Grace Committed to becoming a father, Will (Eric McCormack) meets a potential surrogate (guest star Demi Lovato) who has stellar reviews, but her lifestyle choices give him doubts. Debra Messing also stars in this new episode. 9 p.m. NBC

Deputy Struggling to come to terms with the new responsibilities of his role as L.A. County sheriff, Bill (Stephen Dorff) refuses to stay out of the field when a criminal he is connected with resurfaces. Brian Van Holt, Bex Taylor-Klaus and Mark Moses also star in this new episode. 9 p.m. Fox

Project Runway Cyndi Lauper is a guest judge and provides inspiration for a team challenge in the new episode “She’s Sew Unusual.” The designers are tasked with creating cohesive mini-collections that pay homage to Lauper’s ’80s fashion. 9 p.m. Bravo

Carol’s Second Act Carol (Patricia Heaton) pretends to be an attending physician to get her patient admitted to the ICU in this new episode of the medical comedy. 9:30 p.m. CBS

Perfect Harmony At the annual Conley Fork pageant, Arthur (Bradley Whitford) tries not to use his role as judge to play favorites with Cash (Spencer Allport), even though Ginny (Anna Camp) makes it clear she wants him to in this new episode of the musical comedy. Rizwan Manji, Tymberlee Hill and Will Greenberg also star. 9:30 p.m. NBC

Evil After he is grievously wounded, David (Mike Colter) winds up in the hospital, where he senses the menacing presence of Death nearby. Katja Herbers, Aasif Mandvi, Peter Scolari, Michael Emerson and Kurt Fuller also star, with guest star Kristen Connolly. 10 p.m. CBS

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit A desperate father frustrated by how the case against his daughter’s alleged rapist is proceeding takes matters into his own hands. Mariska Hargitay, Ice T, Kelli Giddish and Peter Scanavino star, with guest stars Nicholas Turturro, Vincent Kartheiser and Demore Barnes. 10 p.m. NBC


Truth and Lies: Jeffrey Epstein This new documentary profile includes details about how Epstein made his money, his relationships with notable individuals and the allegations of sexual abuse and sex trafficking charges he faced before he died in jail. 9 p.m. ABC


CBS This Morning (N) 7 a.m. KCBS

Today (N) 7 a.m. KNBC

KTLA Morning News (N) 7 a.m. KTLA

Good Morning America Nikki DeBartolo and Benjamin Heldfond; Billy Porter; Carla Hall; Tory Johnson. (N) 7 a.m. KABC

Good Day L.A. Nancy Travis (“Last Man Standing”); Colgate 13 performs. (N) 7 a.m. KTTV

Live With Kelly and Ryan Billy Porter (“Like a Boss”); Dr. Taz Bhatia. (N) 9 a.m. KABC

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The View Michael B. Jordan. (N) 10 a.m. KABC

Rachael Ray (N) 10 a.m. KTTV

The Wendy Williams Show Tiffany Haddish (“Like a Boss”). (N) 11 a.m. KTTV

The Talk Tim Allen. (N) 1 p.m. KCBS

Tamron Hall Gabrielle Bernstein. (N) 1 p.m. KABC

The Dr. Oz Show Jayme Closs was kidnapped and held for 88 days, then found alive; an examination of Robert Durst’s case. (N) 1 p.m. KTTV

The Kelly Clarkson Show Ben Feldman; Ryan Michelle Bathe; Danny Seo; “The Biggest Loser” with Bob Harper and Erica Lugo. (N) 2 p.m. KNBC

Dr. Phil A woman spends all day jogging around her coffee table; surgery to look like a celebrity. (N) 3 p.m. KCBS

The Ellen DeGeneres Show Jamie Foxx (“Just Mercy”); Liv Tyler (“911: Lone Star”). (N) 3 p.m. KNBC

The Real tWitch (“Ellen’s Game of Games”). (N) 3 p.m. KTTV

The Doctors Anxiety and depression; urinary incontinence; weight loss; booby tape; heated slippers; curry drink. (N) 3 p.m. KCOP

Amanpour and Company (N) 11 p.m. KCET; midnight KVCR; 1 a.m. KLCS

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah Jimmy Butler. (N) 11 p.m. Comedy Central

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Will Smith; Patti Smith performs. (N) 11:34 p.m. KNBC

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). (N) 11:35 p.m. KCBS

Jimmy Kimmel Live! Michael B. Jordan; January Jones; Cigarettes After Sex. (N) 11:35 p.m. KABC

Late Night With Seth Meyers Larry David; Caitlin Kalafus performs. (N) 12:37 a.m. KNBC

Nightline (N) 12:37 a.m. KABC

The Kelly Clarkson Show Ben Feldman; Ryan Michelle Bathe; Danny Seo; “The Biggest Loser” with Bob Harper and Erica Lugo. (N) 1 a.m. BRAVO

A Little Late With Lilly Singh Brett Gelman; YouTuber Rosanna Pansino. (N) 1:38 a.m. KNBC


College Basketball Memphis visits Wichita State, 4 p.m. ESPN2; Purdue visits Michigan, 4 p.m. FS1; Arizona visits Oregon, 6 p.m. ESPN; Minnesota visits Michigan State, 6 p.m. ESPN2; Washington visits Stanford, 6 p.m. FS1; BYU visits Saint Mary’s (Calif.), 8 p.m. ESPN2

NBA Basketball The Boston Celtics visit the Philadelphia 76ers, 4 p.m. TNT; the Houston Rockets visit the Oklahoma City Thunder, 6:30 p.m. TNT

NHL Hockey The Nashville Predators visit the Chicago Blackhawks, 5:30 p.m. NBCSP; the Kings visit the Vegas Golden Knights, 7 p.m. Fox Sports Net; the Dallas Stars visit the Ducks, 7 p.m. FS Prime

For more sports on TV, see the Sports section.

For me, flying in business or first class is not about the extra attention or the meals — which are still, let’s face it, airplane food — or even about the endless supply of booze (well, maybe a little bit).

It’s about comfort, especially on long-haul flights, when that lie-flat seat is crucial, but that comes at a cost. So I’m going to tell you how to fly flat without paying full freight.

Here’s how to fly business or first class for less (besides snagging a good fare when you see it).

Use miles/points to upgrade

American, Delta and United let passengers use miles (15,000 to 20,000) plus a co-pay of $75 on domestic routes in the Lower 48. Sometimes an upgrade is available immediately when you call the airline’s award desk, but usually you’ll be put on a wait list. How far in advance you book, the price of the economy fare and the time you check in for the flight may affect your chances.

Upgrades on flights to Hawaii and international destinations probably will cost more miles and come with higher co-pays. Other airlines besides those mentioned also allow mileage upgrades.

Use miles or points to buy

As with airfares, the number of miles or points you’ll need can vary. Check online first to see what you can find but don’t hesitate to call the awards desk. Last year I was looking for business-class award seats on British Airways and found none online, but an agent found lots of options. Check multiple times before committing.

Sign up for a credit card

Airlines are marketing credit cards aboard flights that offer added incentives not available online. On a recent American Airlines trip, the flight attendants handed out applications for a co-branded AA/Mastercard with no annual fee for the first year and a $1 minimum spend. I applied and used the miles for a free business-class trip.

Last-minute upgrades

Checking in online for an Alaska Airlines flight last year, I was offered a $50 upgrade to first class on a Seattle-to-Los Angeles flight. I took it.

Be alert for and ask about last-minute upgrades. Don’t ignore emailed upgrade offers: American frequently sends these, mostly on shorter domestic flights. TAP Air Portugal, which flies nonstop from L.A. to Lisbon, often sells upgrades to business class at the ticket counter or gate for about $400 to $500 per flight, depending on load factors.

Bid on an upgrade

Four dozen carriers (including Air New Zealand, Etihad, Fiji Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Qantas, SAS and Singapore Airlines) offer upgrade auctions. Each has its own rules and procedures, so check your fare to see whether it is eligible. TAP Air Portugal runs auctions on from 72 to 24 hours before departure and at from 24 hours to flight closing.

Dress well

I hear often from friends and readers that they have been upgraded to business or first class because they dressed decently. It happens only occasionally, but what do you have to lose? Several people I know have gotten Best Dressed Upgrades, most recently Susan Andrews, a real estate agent in L.A., on a flight to London on British, an airline on which she had zero status.

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I worked for Eastern Airlines in the 1980s, and it was company policy to fly employees in first class if seats were available. One day I showed up for a flight in my best suit and good shoes but no necktie and was handed an economy class middle seat.

When I asked why, the gate agent said, “Dressed like that, you don’t deserve to fly at all!”

Rapper Swae Lee bought himself an early Christmas present last year, paying $3.5 million for the Woodland Hills home of actors Jonathan Frakes and Genie Francis. The sale closed on Christmas Eve for $199,000 less than the asking price, records show.

Lee, one-half of the brotherly hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd, used a trust to purchase the nine-bedroom, six bathrooms residence. Last Spring, he used the same trust to buy a six-bedroom home in Chatsworth, The Los Angeles Times previously reported.

His new place is in a guard-gated community and features 9,000 square feet of white-walled living space, European oak floors and an expanded kitchen. Palladian-style windows accent the two-story entry, which is topped by a giant chandelier. The step-down living room has coffered ceilings and a fireplace. There’s also a library.


Jonathan Frakes’s Woodland Hills home 

(Wayne Ford)


Jonathan Frakes’s Woodland Hills home 

(Wayne Ford)


Jonathan Frakes’s Woodland Hills home 

(Wayne Ford)


Jonathan Frakes’s Woodland Hills home 

(Wayne Ford)


Jonathan Frakes’s Woodland Hills home 

(Wayne Ford)


Jonathan Frakes’s Woodland Hills home 

(Wayne Ford)


Jonathan Frakes’s Woodland Hills home 

(Wayne Ford)


Jonathan Frakes’s Woodland Hills home 

(Wayne Ford)


Jonathan Frakes’s Woodland Hills home 

(Wayne Ford)


Jonathan Frakes’s Woodland Hills home 

(Wayne Ford)

Upstairs, the master suite is outfitted with a wet bar, a fireplace and a marble-lined bathroom. Three sets of French doors open to a balcony overlooking the backyard.

Outside, landscaped grounds feature a tiled patio with a swimming pool, a spa and a fire pit. A gazebo sits in a far corner.

Marc Tahler and Ken Zietz of Rodeo Realty were the listing agents. Angel Salvador of the Agency represented the buyer.

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Lee, 26, in 2013 formed Rae Sremmurd with his brother Slim Jxmmi. The duo have released three studio albums and have hits that include “No Type,” “No Flex Zone” and the meme-ified “Black Beatles.”

As a solo artist, Lee collaborated with Post Malone on the song “Sunflower,” which was part of the soundtrack for the 2018 animated superhero film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

Frakes, 67, is best known for playing Cmdr. William T. Riker in the Star Trek franchise. He is set to reprise his role as Riker in the upcoming CBS series “Star Trek: Picard.” His other television credits include “The Orville,” “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

Francis, 57, is known for her long-running role as Laura Spencer on the soap opera “General Hospital.” She has also appeared on “Murder, She Wrote,” “Days of Our Lives” and “Loving.”

Still reeling from a crisis involving its long-grounded Max jet, Boeing faces new questions after an earlier model of the 737 crashed Wednesday in Iran.

It is too early to know what caused the crash and whether Boeing bears any responsibility for the lives of the 176 people who died aboard the 3 1/2-year-old plane.

At a minimum, however, the disaster will add to the burden facing Boeing’s incoming chief executive, David Calhoun, as he tries to repair the iconic airplane maker’s balance sheet and reputation.

“We need to know the cause,” said William Waldock, a safety science professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “If it turns out to be an intentional act, that’s not something [Boeing] can control. If it was something with the plane, there is one more item they have to get fixed.”

Even experts who discount the likelihood of a problem with the plane — a version of the 737 that has been built since the 1990s and has earned a good safety record — say that Boeing’s public image will suffer.

“I think everyone will quickly realize that there is very little chance, if any, that this has anything to do with the design or manufacture of the jet,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with Teal Group in the Washington suburbs. “But people are going to see ‘737 Destroyed.’ How do you quantify that in terms of reputational damage?”

Boeing officials hunkered down on Wednesday, not saying much publicly after a 737-800 flown by Ukraine International Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport.

The company issued short statements saying it was gathering more information and was ready to help the Ukrainian airline in any way.

“This is a tragic event and our heartfelt thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families,” Boeing said.

The crash occurred hours after Iran launched missiles at U.S. forces in neighboring Iraq, leading to speculation by aviation experts that the plane might have been shot down. Iranian officials were quick to blame the disaster on a mechanical problem with the plane, although they cited no evidence.

In Washington, U.S. officials briefing members of Congress on the current tension between the United States and Iran said there was no intelligence to indicate that the plane was shot down, according to a lawmaker at the briefing and who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the classified session. The briefers included Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and CIA Director Gina Haspel.

Boeing is still struggling with the crisis surrounding the Max, which was grounded last March after two crashes that killed 346 people. It has taken Boeing far longer than it expected to fix the plane. It is still unclear when it might fly again, and Boeing expects to spend billions to compensate airlines that canceled Max flights.

The company also faces investigations by the Justice Department and Congress and dozens of lawsuits by the families of passengers killed on the Max. Last month, Boeing’s board ousted CEO Dennis Muilenburg and replaced him with Calhoun, who had been chairman.

Calhoun’s first day of work is next Monday.

Investigators looking into the Max crashes have focused on the role played by a new flight control system that was not on the 737-800 that crashed near Tehran.

Boeing has sold nearly 5,000 737-800s since the late 1990s. There have been eight fatal crashes, most blamed on pilot error, according to Aviation Safety Network, which tracks accidents. That’s a far lower fatal-accident rate than many other popular planes, including previous 737s and the Max.

Boeing has a huge backlog of orders for the Max, but if airlines canceled a significant number — and few analysts see that happening — it could force the company to rely more heavily on its defense and space business.

If Boeing is blamed for Wednesday’s crash, “Boeing would survive; I’m not sure what form they would be in,” Waldock said.

Vikas Mittal, a Rice University business professor who surveyed Boeing’s airline customers, thinks the carriers will stand by the company — Boeing has lost few Max orders even after a grounding now 10 months long.

Boeing “is going through a tough time, but Boeing is also insulated by the fact it has a good history with its customers, who have generally been satisfied with its products and services,” Mittal said. “They will pull through for Boeing.”


China’s economy czar will visit Washington next week for the signing of an interim trade deal, the government said Thursday.

Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing’s chief envoy in talks with Washington over their tariff war, had been expected to attend the signing but the Commerce Ministry’s statement was the first official confirmation.

Washington postponed planned tariff increases following the announcement of the “Phase One” deal in October. But earlier punitive duties imposed by both sides on billions of dollars of each other’s goods stayed in place, dampening global trade and threatening to chill economic growth.

Liu will lead a delegation to Washington from Monday through Wednesday, said ministry spokesman Gao Feng.

Under the Phase One deal, Beijing agreed to buy more American farm goods and Washington’s chief negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, said it would make changes to respond to complaints about its industrial policies. Details have yet to be announced and Chinese officials have yet to confirm any regulatory changes or the size of purchases of American soybeans and other exports.

Both sides have soothed financial market jitters by announcing conciliatory steps including postponing planned tariff hikes. Beijing also has resumed purchases of soybeans, the biggest American export to China, and pork.

Washington, Europe, Japan and other trading partners complain Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. Washington is pressing China to roll back plans for state-led creation of global competitors in robotics and other industries that its trading partners say violate its market-opening commitments.

President Trump announced last month he would sign the Phase One agreement Wednesday and travel to Beijing after that to start the second stage of talks.

Trump hailed the interim agreement as a step toward ending the tariff war, but Beijing has been more measured in its public statements.

Economists say concluding a final settlement could take years. Potential hurdles include Chinese insistence that U.S. tariff hikes be canceled once an agreement takes effect. The Trump administration says some must remain in place to ensure Beijing carries out any promises it makes.

Here’s a look at what roughly $625,000 buys right now in Rancho Santa Margarita, Santa Ana and Mission Viejo in Orange County.

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA: A gazebo adjoins a swimming pool and spa behind this Mediterranean-style home with mountain views.

Address: 11 Via Becerra, Rancho Santa Margarita, 92688

Listed for: $610,000 for two bedrooms, two bathrooms in 993 square feet (3,750-square-foot lot)

Features: Open floor plan; travertine floors; vaulted ceilings; two-car garage

About the area: In the 92688 ZIP Code, based on 29 sales, the median price for single-family homes in November was $775,000, up 7.6% year over year, according to CoreLogic.

SANTA ANA: A charming brick fireplace and breakfast nook with booth seating are a few highlights inside this single-story home built in 1925.

Address: 910 N. Flower St., Santa Ana, 92703

Listed for: $600,000 for three bedrooms, two bathrooms in 1,434 square feet (5,085-square-foot lot)

Features: Dual-pane windows; upgraded hardwood floors; kitchen with granite countertops; long driveway

About the area: In the 92703 ZIP Code, based on 11 sales, the median price for single-family homes in November was $568,000, up 8.2% year over year, according to CoreLogic.

MISSION VIEJO: Found in the California Colony community, this turnkey home boasts an expansive great room and a backyard with citrus trees.

Address: 28072 Ebson, Mission Viejo, 92692

Listed for: $625,000 for three bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms in 1,191 square feet (3,300-square-foot lot)

Features: Charming exterior; cathedral ceilings; remodeled kitchen; custom brick fireplace

About the area: In the 92692 ZIP Code, based on 39 sales, the median price for single-family homes in November was $745,000, up 6.7% year over year, according to CoreLogic.

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA: Turf and drought-tolerant landscaping keep bills low for this two-story home with a new deck.

Address: 10 Via Ulmaria, Rancho Santa Margarita, 92688

Listed for: $656,900 for three bedrooms, three bathrooms in 1,299 square feet (3,750-square-foot lot)

Features: Front porch; living room with fireplace; high ceilings; landscaped front and back yards

About the area: In the 92688 ZIP Code, based on 29 sales, the median price for single-family homes in November was $775,000, up 7.6% year over year, according to CoreLogic.

SANTA ANA: Zoned for mixed use, this 101-year-old property boasted four bedrooms before being converted into a law office with a lobby, conference room and receptionist space.

Address: 1502 N. Main St., Santa Ana, 92701

Listed for: $629,000 for four bedrooms, one bathroom in 1,990 square feet (7,733-square-foot lot)

Features: Gated lot; hardwood floors; solar panels; private parking lot

About the area: In the 92701 ZIP Code, based on nine sales, the median price for single-family homes in November was $600,000, up 14.8% year over year, according to CoreLogic.

MISSION VIEJO: A wraparound patio rings this turnkey home on a private hillside lot overlooking the rest of the neighborhood.

Address: 28291 Alava, Mission Viejo, 92692

Listed for: $634,888 for two bedrooms, three bathrooms in 1,818 square feet (3,478-square-foot lot)

Features: Carpeted floors; lofted office; expansive master suite; trellis-topped patio

About the area: In the 92692 ZIP Code, based on 39 sales, the median price for single-family homes in November was $745,000, up 6.7% year over year, according to CoreLogic.


Nissan’s fugitive ex-boss, Carlos Ghosn, said Wednesday that his arrest in Japan, from which he escaped last month, was a plot against him and described his detention conditions as a “travesty” against human rights.

In his first appearance since his escape from Japan, Ghosn said during a 2½-hour news conference in Beirut that the decision to flee “was the most difficult of my life.”

He was due to stand trial for alleged financial misconduct at the automaker and on Wednesday again declared all allegations against him untrue.

With big gestures and a five-part slide presentation projected behind him, Ghosn brought his case to global media and said that his thought before fleeing Japan was: “You are going to die in Japan or you are going to get out.”

He quickly added, however, that he would not address the details of his escape, which has perplexed and embarrassed Japanese authorities.

Media reports have said that, despite supposedly rigorous surveillance, Ghosn skipped bail by leaving his Tokyo residence alone, meeting two men at a hotel, and then taking a bullet train to Osaka before boarding a private jet hidden inside a case for musical equipment. He flew to Istanbul and was then transferred onto another plane bound for Beirut, where he arrived Dec. 30.

Ghosn portrayed his arrest as a plot linked to a decline in the financial performance of Nissan. Ghosn had been in favor of merging Nissan with industry ally Renault, of which he was also chairman.

“Unfortunately there was no trust. And some of our Japanese friends thought that the only way to get rid of Renault in Nissan is to get rid of me,” he told a room packed with journalists.

“I should never have been arrested in the first place,” he said. “I’m not above the law and I welcome the opportunity for the truth to come out and have my name cleared.”

Ghosn said he would be ready to stand trial “anywhere where I think I can have a fair trial.” He declined to say what country that might be.

Lebanon last week received an Interpol-issued wanted notice — a nonbinding request to law enforcement agencies worldwide that they locate and provisionally arrest a fugitive.

Lebanon and Japan do not have an extradition treaty, and the Interpol notice does not require Lebanon to arrest him. Lebanese authorities have said Ghosn entered the country on a legal passport, casting doubt on the possibility they would hand him over to Japan.

At the request of the Japanese government, Interpol published the notice on its website Wednesday as Ghosn was giving his news conference. The notice previously was only sent to Interpol’s member governments but not shared with the public.

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Ghosn, who is Lebanese and also has French and Brazilian citizenship, had been expected to go on trial in Tokyo in April. In earlier statements he has said he fled to avoid “political persecution” by a “rigged Japanese justice system.” He also said that he alone organized his departure from Japan and that his wife, Carole, played no role.

On Tuesday, Tokyo prosecutors obtained an arrest warrant for Carole Ghosn on suspicion of perjury. That charge is not related to his escape. Lebanon’s justice minister said Tuesday that Lebanon has not received any request related to that warrant.

Japanese justice officials acknowledge that it is unclear whether either of the Ghosns can be brought back to Japan to face charges.

Ghosn’s former employer, Nissan Motor Co., said it was still pursuing legal action against him despite his escape, adding that Ghosn engaged in serious misconduct while leading the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance. Ghosn denies all the charges.

In France, meanwhile, Renault alerted French authorities after a company investigation found that Ghosn personally benefited from “an exchange worth 50,000 euros in the framework of a philanthropic accord signed with the Chateau of Versailles.” Prosecutors are investigating but Ghosn is not charged with any wrongdoing in France.

Renault said in June that an internal audit with partner Nissan found 11 million euros (about $12 million) in questionable expenses at their Dutch-based holding linked to Ghosn. The two carmakers recommended legal action in the Netherlands, where the alliance is based, and ordering Ghosn himself to reimburse the company for some of the expenses.

Earlier in the day, Tokyo prosecutors raided a Japanese lawyer’s office where Ghosn had visited regularly before he fled. Japanese media reports said prosecutors had probably seized the lawyer’s computer and used it to track down how Ghosn escaped and who might have helped him.

An hour before the scheduled new conference, a Lebanese prosecutor said Ghosn would be summoned “in the coming hours” over a visit to Israel more than 10 years ago, according to the state-run National News Agency.

Two Lebanese lawyers had submitted a report to the Public Prosecutor’s Office against Ghosn last week, saying he violated Lebanese law by visiting Israel. The two neighboring countries are technically in a state of war. Prosecutor Ghassan Khoury met with the two lawyers who filed the case on Wednesday and asked them to bring additional evidence, adding he would summon Ghosn in the coming hours. Ghosn visited Israel in 2008 for business.


There’s a common joke Iraqis repeat as of late. It goes something like this: “Iran is fighting to get the U.S. out of Iraq. The U.S. is fighting to get Iran out of Iraq. How about we Iraqis get out of our country and leave you to it?”

It’s an example of the fatalistic humor people have used here in recent days as the U.S. and Iran’s saber-rattling gave way to attacks aimed at each other but which mostly put Iraqis in harm’s way. Yet behind the jokes is the very serious fear of an all-out war breaking out between Washington and Tehran, with Iraq as its chessboard, and Iraqis — yet again — its pawns, if not its casualties.

For anyone visiting Baghdad, which was dubbed the “City of Peace” by its founders but which has seen little of it since the U.S. invasion in 2003 and even before, signs of that fear are inescapable.

They show up in the whir of helicopter rotors and drones, now a fixture in the soundtrack of the capital’s daily life. Or in the traffic, with streets normally snarled with cars well into the night relatively clear once the workday is done. Cafes, restaurants, even supermarkets stand half-deserted.

In a makeup shop on the ground floor of Diamond Mall, a seven-story shopping center in the heart of Baghdad’s shopping district, Ali Ismail sat alone amid neat rows of lipstick tubes and makeup kits.

Diamond Mall opened its doors for the first time on Thursday. It had been a success, Ismail said. He and three other workers could barely keep up with customers. But the day after, an American MQ-9 Reaper drone killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani and Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi Muhandis.

“We’ve had a quarter of the business ever since. I’ve called our other branches and it’s the same. Places that were always full are now empty,” Ismail said.

“People here are just tired,” said Ghaith Fadhel, who manages a women’s clothing store next door.

Fadhel spoke of the Taefiyah, the term Iraqis use when discussing the horrific sectarian cleansing that had pitted the country’s Sunnis and Shiites against each other; of Islamic State and the hordes of extremists who almost overran Baghdad. Even in those times, he said, Iraqis seemed less frightened.

Compounding their fears was the specter of sanctions which President Trump had vowed to impose on Iraq earlier this week if Baghdad sought to expel the approximately 5,200 U.S. troops stationed the country.

“If they do ask us to leave — if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis — we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before,” Trump said Monday. “It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

For many, Trump’s threat brought back haunting memories of near-total embargo the U.S. and other countries imposed on Iraq during the reign of longtime dictator Saddam Hussein. It left the country paralyzed and all but isolated from the world. People across Iraq starved; estimates of deaths caused by the sanctions vary widely but range from the tens to the hundreds of thousands.

“At least Saddam was able to buy medicine and food with the oil during the sanctions,” said Ghazwan Mohammad, a shop owner on Rashid Street. “Our current leaders? They’ll do nothing and we’ll still get sanctions.”

Other merchants were girding themselves for lean times.

“I’m selling half the amount I usually do, but I’ve had to buy twice the usual supply because I’m afraid the sanctions will cut us off,” said Hassan Hamoodi, a distributor of a European brand of engine oil. “We just expect things to be worse this year.”

The sense of helplessness, of being ensnared by forces beyond control, has also afflicted the country’s leaders.

“The situation is sensitive. It’s not simple. … What is happening is big, bigger than any of the nations of the area,” said Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi in a televised speech on Tuesday evening. “No major nation is able on its own to control or specify the directions: not America, not Europe, nor the nations of the region, not Iran, not us.”

Hours later, Iran hurled ballistic missiles at U.S. forces bunkered in bases in western and northern Iraq.

Abdul Mahdi and other politicians condemned the attack on its territories, even as they pleaded with both sides to keep Iraq out of their fight.

“Iraq rejects any violation of its sovereignty. The prime minister is holding internal and external calls necessary in an attempt to contain the situation and not enter into an open war that will have Iraq as one of its first victims,” said a statement from Abdul Mahdi on Wednesday.

Yet many here consider there has already been one victim of the tit-for-tat attacks between the U.S. and Iran: the months-long protests demanding reform.

For more than 12 weeks, Iraqis by the tens of thousands had massed in the streets demanding an end to the kleptocratic behavior of their leaders and a full change of the political order they had endured since 2003. More than 500 protesters were killed and more than 19,000 wounded, the U.N. said.

The violence didn’t deter the demonstrators, but the prospect of war between the U.S. and Iran has all but undercut their bid for change.

“We’ve become the site of a boxing match where we, the spectators, are getting hurt, no one else,” said Nizar Mohammad, a nursing student involved in the protests since they began in October.

He and others had volunteered at the protests, giving medical treatment to those who were wounded in clashes with security forces while using donations to buy medicine and other supplies. But the support had dried up; he and others would soon have to leave, he said.

“We’re against Iran. We’re against the U.S. And we’re against the government, but no one is paying attention to us now,” he said. “It’s simple: No voice is louder than the sound of battle.”

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TOMERONG, Australia — 

Residents in the path of wildfires razing southeast Australia were urged to evacuate on Thursday if they don’t intend to defend their homes, as hot and windy conditions are forecast to escalate the danger over the next two days.

The Rural Fire Service in New South Wales state has told fire-weary residents in the coastal towns of Nowra, Narooma and Batemans Bay south of Sydney that winds were likely to once again drive blazes toward the coast. Vacationers in the area have retreated to beaches and into the ocean in recent weeks as destructive fires and choking smoke have encroached on the tourist towns, scorching sand dunes in some places.

In neighboring Victoria state, fire-threatened populations were urged to act quickly on evacuation warnings.

“We can’t guarantee your safety and we don’t want to be putting emergency services — whether it be volunteers or paid staff — we do not want to put them in harm’s way because people didn’t follow advice that was given,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.

The unprecedented fire crisis in southeast Australia that has claimed at least 26 lives since September, destroyed more than 2,000 homes and shrouded major cities in smoke has focused many Australians on how the nation adapts to climate change. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under withering criticism both at home and abroad for downplaying the need for his government to address climate change, which experts say helps supercharge the blazes.

Last year was Australia’s hottest and driest on record. The Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate monitoring, Karl Braganza, said that although the country’s rainfall was expected to pick up a bit, it wouldn’t be enough to snuff out the fires anytime soon.

“Unfortunately, we’re not looking at widespread, above-average rainfalls at this stage,” he said. “That’s really what we need to put the fires out fairly quickly. It is going to be a campaign, in terms of the fires. We are not looking at a short and sharp end to the event — it looks like something that we will have to persist with for some time.”

The New South Wales government responded to the crisis on Thursday by announcing an additional $690 million to be spent over the next two years on wildfire management and recovery.

The Australian disaster is seen by many as a harbinger for other countries of the future consequences of global warming.

Pope Francis has joined other world leaders in expressing solidarity with the Australian people.

“I’d like to ask for you all to pray to the Lord to help the [Australian] people at this difficult moment, with these powerful fires. I’m close to the Australian people,” Francis said at the end of his general audience on Wednesday, drawing applause from congregants.

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