WASHINGTON

Trump tweet complains

of 'bad press' on Syria

Amid questions about the pace of his exit from Syria, President Donald Trump complained Monday that he's getting "bad press" for his decision to pull American troops out of the country and insisted he was simply making good on his campaign promise against U.S. involvement in "never ending wars."

Trump abruptly announced in mid-December that he was withdrawing 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria.

"I am the only person in America who could say that, 'I'm bringing our great troops back home, with victory,' and get BAD press," Trump tweeted Monday.

 

MOSCOW

Rescuers search rubble

after building collapses

Hundreds of rescue workers raced bitterly cold weather in Russia's Ural Mountains region Monday as they searched for survivors in the hulking concrete blocks from a partially collapsed apartment building where at least four people died.

The nation's top investigative agency, the Investigative Committee, said an explosion triggered by a gas leak apparently caused the pre-dawn collapse in the industrial city of Magnitogorsk. The New Year's Eve accident shocked Russians and marred the mood on the nation's most beloved holiday.

Authorities said five people were hospitalized with injuries and 35 others remained missing.

 

LAUREL, MD.

NASA spacecraft nears 

mysterious object 

The NASA spacecraft that yielded the first close-up views of Pluto hurtled toward a New Year's Day rendezvous with a tiny, icy world a billion miles farther out, in what would make it the most distant cosmic body ever explored by humankind.

New Horizons was on course to fly past the mysterious, ancient object nicknamed Ultima Thule at 12:33 a.m. Tuesday. The close encounter comes 3½ years after the spacecraft swung past Pluto.

This time, the drama was set to unfold more than 4 billion miles from Earth, so far away that it will be 10 hours before flight controllers at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel find out whether the probe survived the flyby.

 

 

NEW YORK

NYPD scraps plan to fly

drone above Times Square

A rainy New Year's Eve in New York had some Times Square revelers ponying up to keep dry, while police scrapped plans to deploy a drone to keep watch over the crowd for the first time.

Monday's damp but mild weather saw people paying up to $10 for the kind of plastic ponchos that sell for less than $2 at Walmart. Larissa Duke, of Ontario, Canada, went for a more frugal option.

The 22-year-old college student wrapped herself in a garbage bag and placed the top of an umbrella on her head to stay dry. Umbrellas were banned from the celebration, so Duke had to discard the shaft of the umbrella at a security checkpoint.

 

SALT LAKE CITY

Smart's kidnapper living

near elementary school

A woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart is living several blocks from a Salt Lake City elementary school following her release from prison in September, according to Utah's sex-offender registry.

Wanda Barzee, 73, is listed in the registry as living in an apartment near the school after her initial placement in a halfway house. She was released on parole much earlier than anticipated, despite her refusal to cooperate with mental health professionals while incarcerated.

 

MILAN

Venice to start charging

fee to day-trippers

A measure in Italy's 2019 budget law will allow the local government in Venice to charge day-trippers for access to the city's historic center as a way to help defray the considerable costs of maintaining a popular tourist destination built on water, the mayor said.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said late Sunday on Twitter that the new visitors' tax would "allow us to manage the city better and to keep it clean" and "allow Venetians to live with more decorum."

The City Council will be responsible for setting the charge and determining the collection method.

 

Beacon Journal/Ohio.com wires