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Ireland expects Apple EU tax appeal to be heard in autumn

DUBLIN (Reuters) – An appeal by Apple and Ireland against a European Union ruling for the U.S. firm to pay 13 billion euros ($16 billion) in disputed taxes is likely to be heard in the autumn, Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: An Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

The European Commission ruled in August 2016 that Apple had received unfair tax incentives. Both Apple and Dublin are appealing the original ruling, saying the iPhone maker’s tax treatment was in line with Irish and European Union law.

“We expect the appeal is likely to begin in the Autumn,” Donohoe told journalists on Tuesday. “How long the hearings will last will depend on the judges overseeing it and could be open to either party after that to take any further actions.”

The Commission told Ireland to collect 13 billion euros in back taxes, a figure Ireland’s finance department estimated last year could reach 15 billion euros including EU interest.

Interest due by Apple will be calculated after the initial 13 billion is collected, Donohoe said.

Last October the Commission said it was taking Dublin to the European Court of Justice over delays in recovering the money.

The government said it was acting as fast as it could to facilitate the collection of the funds.

Last month it appointed managers for an escrow account to hold the money and Donohoe on Tuesday said the money would begin to be paid by Apple in a series of payments starting in the second quarter, with all funds in place by the end of the third quarter.

Donohoe said the fund would make investment decisions that are low risk and that the Irish taxpayer would be protected.

“Any loss from the fund will reside with the fund, not with the taxpayer,” he said.

($1 = 0.8189 euros)

Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries; Editing by Alexander Smith

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Froome named in Sky team for Giro

(Reuters) – Team Sky have named Britain’s Chris Froome in their team for the Giro d’Italia starting next month despite the ongoing investigation into his adverse doping test.

FILE PHOTO: Cycling – UCI Road World Championships – Men Elite Individual Time Trial – Bergen, Norway – September 20, 2017 – Chris Froome of Britain competes. NTB Scanpix/Marit Hommedal via REUTERS

Briton Froome, 32, is fighting to clear his name after an increased dosage of asthma medication at the Vuelta a Espana last year threw up an adverse analytical finding from a urine sample.

The four-times Tour de France winner’s sample showed double the allowed limit of Salbutamol but Froome has denied any wrongdoing and is free to race because he is not suspended.

Froome, who has not ridden in the Giro since 2010 and has never won it, will be aiming to become the first rider to complete the Giro/Tour double for 20 years.

Italian Marco Pantani was the last man to achieve the feat in 1998.

The three-week 3546.2​km Giro begins in Jerusalem on May 4. The Tour de France starts two months later.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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Toronto van attack suspect due in court on Tuesday

TORONTO (Reuters) – The driver suspected of killing 10 people and injuring 15 others when he plowed a rental van into pedestrians in Toronto will make his first court appearance on Tuesday when details of a motive for the attack were expected to emerge.

While the worst mass killing in Canada in decades has the hallmarks of other deadly vehicle assaults by Islamic State supporters in the United States and Europe, officials said it did not represent a threat to national security.

Alex Minassian, 25, identified by police as the suspect, will appear in a Toronto court at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT), Toronto police said. Charges will be made public at that time.

“All Canadians stand united with Toronto today,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an address outside of parliament in Ottawa.

“We cannot as Canadians choose to live in fear every single day as we go about our daily business. We need to focus on doing what we can and we must to keep Canadians safe while we stay true to the freedoms and values that we all as Canadians hold dear,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister said that, while it would take time before the motives of the attacker were understood, the incident had not changed the country’s threat level or security preparations for a G7 summit in Quebec in June.

People left flowers at a makeshift memorial, which grew as commuters returned to work on Tuesday morning. Blank white posters left against a stone wall were covered with messages.

The Canadian flag was lowered to half-staff at parliament and at Toronto city hall.

Minassian, who was not previously known to authorities, attended a high school program where one classmate remembered him as “absolutely harmless.”

The officer who apprehended Minassian was praised for making a peaceful arrest even as the suspect shouted “Kill me” and claimed to have a gun.

Canadians mourned as the victims began to be identified on Tuesday.

“We are a peaceful, tolerant, free society. The horrific violence on Toronto’s Yonge Street will strengthen rather than undermine these truths,” columnist John Ibbitson wrote in the Globe and Mail national newspaper.

The attack shook the usually peaceful streets of Toronto, a multicultural city with a population of 2.8 million. The city recorded 61 murders last year.

Downtown Toronto’s iconic CN Tower, which is normally lit up in the evening, went dark on Monday evening.

The drama started at lunchtime on a warm spring day, when the driver drove his vehicle into the crowds. The street was soon covered in blood, empty shoes and bodies.

Canada is still recovering from the shock of a highway crash in Saskatchewan earlier this month that killed 16 people on a bus carrying a junior hockey team.

A damaged van seized by police is seen after multiple people were struck at a major intersection northern Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Saul Porto

Last October, eight people died in New York when a man driving a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path.

Additional reporting and writing by Andrea Hopkins in Ottawa; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Jonathan Oatis

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Motive behind Waffle House shooting eludes Nashville police

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) – Nashville police were working on Tuesday to determine what motivated a gunman with an AR-15 rifle to kill four people at an all-night Waffle House restaurant, having arrested a suspect with a history of erratic behavior.

Travis Reinking, the suspect in a Waffle House shooting in Nashville, is under arrest by Metro Nashville Police Department in a wooded area in Antioch, Tennessee, U.S., April 23, 2018. Courtesy Metro Nashville Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

Travis Reinking, 29, was taken into custody on Monday after a protracted manhunt, following tips from the public that led authorities to search secluded woods in which he was hiding near his home.

Police say a nearly naked Reinking opened fire at the restaurant at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, then fled the scene. The gunman, who began shooting outside the restaurant and then moved inside, aborted his attack and fled when a customer, 29-year-old James Shaw Jr., wrestled the rifle from him in what authorities called an act of heroism.

“We don’t know why he went into the Waffle House,” Metropolitan Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron told reporters on Monday. He said an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle was used in the attack.

Reinking, who had a pistol and ammunition in a backpack when he was arrested, was not talking to police. He was being held at a Nashville jail on bond initially set at $500,000 for each of four murder charges, online jail records showed.

Reinking, who moved to the Tennessee capital last year from his Illinois hometown, is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Wednesday morning.

The killings were the latest in a string of mass shootings around the country in which a gunman used an AR-15 style rifle. One of the deadliest was the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14 by a gunman brandishing an AR-15. A former student at the school is charged with the murders.

In Nashville, authorities said they are still unclear about what motivated the Waffle House attack, which sent a shudder through the city, one of the biggest in the U.S. South.

Tips from people in the neighborhood helped lead police to search through the woods about two miles (3 km) from the restaurant, where Reinking eventually surrendered without resisting.

More than 150 city, state and local law enforcement agents searched for the gunman, who has had a history of bizarre behavior, delusions and multiple encounters with authorities. In July 2017, Reinking was arrested for attempting to get into the White House, according to police records.

After that episode, authorities in Illinois revoked his gun license and confiscated four firearms, including what police said was the rifle used in the Waffle House shooting. The guns were given to his father, who told police he would lock up and keep them away from his son. But the father, from Tazewell County, Illinois, 130 miles southwest of Chicago, eventually returned the weapons to his son, Nashville police said on Sunday.

Marcus Watson, an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Reinking’s father, Jeffrey, could face federal charges if he knowingly transferred weapons to a person who was prohibited from owning them. The father was not immediately available for comment.

Writing by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Frank McGurty and Steve Orlofsky

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In Iraq minefields, an old war leaves a menacing legacy

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – The Iraqis who pick over their country’s old battlefields for military scrap metal and wiring have few other ways to make a living, but the task comes with enormous risks.

An anti-tank mine is seen near the village of Bitr, which in Arabic means “amputation”, in Shalamjah district, east of Basra, Iraq March 4, 2018. Picture taken March 4, 2018. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani

So numerous are the wounds inflicted by mines and ordnance in Jurf al-Milh that the southern Iraqi village is better known as al Bitran, which means “the amputees” in the local dialect.

Hundreds of villagers have lost limbs to mines and unexploded ordnance from the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-1988.

Al-Bitran, east of the city of Basra, is near the Shatt al-Arab waterway which marks the border with Iran.

The first victims were mainly sheepherders who took their herds to graze in areas not marked as minefields, even though they were strewn with unexploded bombs and artillery shells.

Sheno Abdullah is one of those who lost a leg in an explosion. “In 1980, when the war began, Iranian planes dropped bombs on our region at dawn, everybody left but a few,” he said.

“When the war ended, people returned, but they didn’t know that the land was full of mines,” he said, speaking at the small mosque where he serves sometimes as muezzin, the one who makes the Muslim call to prayer.

In 1991, the village, like the rest of Iraq, descended deeper into poverty as a result of international sanctions imposed on the country following the occupation of Kuwait.

Collecting scrap metal and electric wires from military hardware left on the battlefields became a means of livelihood for many in the village, and the result was in increase in the number of people maimed.

“I was out (in the field) to seek my living from God, collecting iron and copper; the kilogram of flour had become so expensive,” said Falih, who lost leg and five finger tips in an explosion.

As the number of amputees grew in southern Iraq, a prosthetics and orthotics workshop opened in 1995 in Basra with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross, providing artificial limbs to around 8,000 patients.

The workshop makes up to 50 prosthetic parts a month. About a third of the patients who come to the center lost limbs because of diabetes, 10 percent suffered various kinds of accidents, with the rest mainly war and war-related casualties, including al-Bitran villagers, said one of the centers’ directors, Mohsen al-Sayed.

Shi‘ite paramilitary groups known as Popular Mobilisation began a demining campaign last month near al-Bitran, using bulldozers and specialized vehicles to clear the desert area.

Writing by Maher Chmaytelli, Editing by William Maclean

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Wall St ends flat as bond yields weigh

Wall Street closed flat Monday, but stocks managed to hold off a rise in bond yields. Fred Katayama reports.

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Trump says may tie Mexican immigration control to NAFTA

WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to make Mexican immigration control a condition of a new NAFTA trade deal on Monday, even as ministers from Canada, the United States and Mexico readied a fresh push to finalize a revamped accord this week.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives on Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., upon his return to Washington from Palm Beach, Florida, April 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

“Mexico, whose laws on immigration are very tough, must stop people from going through Mexico and into the U.S. We may make this a condition of the new NAFTA Agreement,” Trump wrote in a Twitter post. “Our Country cannot accept what is happening!”

Trump made similar comments linking the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and immigration when a ‘caravan’ of migrants from Central America moved through Mexico earlier this month. “They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA,” Trump wrote in an April 1 Twitter post.

However, discussion of immigration controls has not been a part of formal negotiations on the new NAFTA accord, and talks by all accounts – including Trump’s – are progressing.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray dismissed Trump’s comment in his own Twitter post. Mexico decides its immigration policy in a sovereign manner, he said, and it would be “unacceptable” to condition the renegotiation of NAFTA.

Before Trump’s tweet, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said he hoped for agreement soon on a reworked NAFTA.

Speaking in Germany, Nieto said differences between the parties could be overcome to revamp the 24-year-old accord, which underpins some $1.2 trillion in annual trilateral trade.

Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told a news conference in Toronto that she would be traveling to Washington on Tuesday to meet with Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“We have for the past few weeks been involved in intensive negotiations. This is a phase of very, very energetic work by Canada and we will be continuing that at the ministerial level in Washington,” said Freeland.

Guajardo and others have said a NAFTA deal could be possible by early May, and officials hailed progress made on the key issue of new automotive sector rules last week.

Even so, differences still remain on U.S. demands to change dispute resolution mechanisms, and other issues.

“The U.S. still needs to be more flexible so there are conditions to create jobs in Mexico, the United States and Canada,” said Juan Pablo Castanon, head of the Consejo Coordinador Empresarial, the umbrella group representing Mexican private sector interests at the NAFTA talks.

It was too early to say when a deal could come, he added.

A Mexican source close to the talks, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a deal was unlikely for Tuesday, adding that “two to three days of work” between negotiators and ministers were still needed.


Since peaking at about 1,500 people, the so-called caravan of migrants has dwindled under pressure from Trump and Mexican authorities, who vowed to separate those migrants with a right to stay in Mexico from those who did not.

One group of several hundred migrants could reach the U.S. border by Tuesday or Wednesday.

“If members of the ‘caravan’ enter the country illegally, they will be referred for prosecution for illegal entry in accordance with existing law,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen said in a statement on Monday.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement he had directed officials to beef up the numbers of prosecutors and immigration judges at the border to deal with any increased workload from the caravan.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington & Anthony Esposito in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Delphine Schrank in Mexico City and David Ljunggren in Toronto; Editing by Bill Trott and Rosalba O’Brien

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Wall Street opens higher on strong earnings, tech gains

(Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes opened higher on Tuesday, helped by strong results from Verizon and Caterpillar as well as gains in technology stocks.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 131.25 points, or 0.54 percent, at the open to 24,579.94. The S&P 500 .SPX opened higher by 10.51 points, or 0.39 percent, at 2,680.80. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC gained 32.17 points, or 0.45 percent, to 7,160.77 at the opening bell.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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‘Handmaid’s Tale’ returns to television, darker and more chilling

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – “The Handmaid’s Tale” returns to television this week with its chilling portrait of a near future where women are turned into second-class citizens seeming even darker and more prescient than ever.

FILE PHOTO: Cast member Elisabeth Moss poses at the premiere for the second season of the television series “The Handmaid’s Tale” in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April19, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

That’s not by chance. As the Emmy-winning series moves away from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian 1985 novel, it delves further into how the United States moved from democracy into a fictional totalitarian state called Gilead.

Here, pollution has caused widespread infertility, women are forbidden to read, cannot control money, and people spy on each other.

“We began Season 1 feeling we cannot let Margaret Atwood down,” said Warren Littlefield, one of the show’s executive producers.

“Then right after the (2016 presidential) election, as this pre-Gilead Trump administration unfolded, we felt the responsibility that we can’t let down America.

“We are storytellers, but our world that we depict is relevant and the themes are more relevant than ever before,” Littlefield added.

Season 2 starts on Wednesday on streaming platform Hulu, resuming immediately where Season 1 ended last June, with the pregnant Offred (Elisabeth Moss) taken away to face punishment for an act of mass rebellion by a group of handmaids in Gilead.

Pre-Gilead flashbacks show the undermining of human and civil rights, where women need their partner’s consent to get birth control, are pressured to be stay-at-home mothers, and gay people lose legal protections to face persecution.

It also gives viewers a first, terrifying glimpse of the book’s polluted colonies, where infertile or dissident women are sent to live in concentration camp-like conditions.

“There is a lot that we draw upon from the world we are living in,” Littlefield said. “The series tried to dramatize some of the human rights issues that we are experiencing in the world and understand, ‘How did that happen?’”

Season 1 premiered in April 2017 but production started long before Hillary Clinton lost her bid to become the first woman in the White House and Donald Trump was elected U.S. president.

The TV series, striking for its handmaids dressed in red capes and white face-obscuring bonnets, won awards in its first season.

Canadian author Atwood remains as a consultant and producer as the second season moves beyond her book, which became one of the top 10 best-selling novels of 2017.

“Margaret is probably the biggest cheerleader for go, move, do not fear going past the book,” Littlefield said.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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Closing arguments to begin in Cosby’s sexual assault trial

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) – The prosecution and Bill Cosby’s defense team are expected to begin closing arguments on Tuesday in the retrial of the entertainer, who is accused of drugging and raping a one-time friend more than a decade ago.

FILE PHOTO: Actor and comedian Bill Cosby returns to the courtroom after a recess on the sixth day of his sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter/Pool

Cosby, 80, faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault of Andrea Constand, 45, a former administrator of the Temple University women’s basketball team, at his Philadelphia home in January 2004.

Cosby, who declined to testify on his own behalf on Monday, has denied wrongdoing, saying any sexual contact he had was consensual.

He also did not testify at his first trial on the same charges last year, when the deadlocked jury was unable to reach a verdict, leading prosecutors to try him again. The current trial, now in its third week, began on April 9.

About 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, sometimes after drugging them, going back decades. All the accusations, apart from Constand’s, were too old to be the subject of criminal prosecution.

If convicted of all three counts, he would probably face at most 10 years in prison as a first offender under state sentencing guidelines, although Pennsylvania law allows for a maximum penalty of three consecutive 10-year sentences, a prosecution spokeswoman said.

Earlier on Monday, Cosby’s lawyers used phone and flight records from January 2004 to try again to convince the jury that he was not at his Philadelphia home at the time of the alleged crime.

The timing is crucial, since Cosby was not criminally charged until December 2015, just days before the 12-year Pennsylvania statute of limitations would have expired. The defense has sought to show that a consensual encounter occurred earlier than January 2004.

Douglas Moss, an expert on aviation record keeping, said Cosby’s trips around the United States in January 2004 were accurately reflected in flight logs kept by his private jet pilot, who now suffers from dementia.

District Attorney Kevin Steele sought to show that Cosby could have used other modes of transport to travel to Philadelphia.

Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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