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Catalan ex-president to risk arrest, travel to Denmark

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Catalan ex-president to risk arrest, travel to Denmark

The Associated Press
FILe – In this Jan 12, 2018 file photo ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, center, stands with elected Catalan lawmakers of his Together for Catalonia party at a park in Brussels. Puigdemont will travel to Denmark next week for a university debate, officials said Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 despite the possible risk of arrest (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, file)

Catalonia's former president, a fugitive sought by Spain over a foiled secession bid, will travel to Denmark next week for a university debate despite the possible risk of arrest, officials said Friday.

Carles Puigdemont plans to make the trip to Copenhagen as he tries to get his old job back and step up the pressure on Spanish authorities, which have said a fugitive abroad can't be the Catalan regional president.

The University of Copenhagen announced a debate for Monday in the Danish capital on "Catalonia and Europe at a Crossroads for Democracy." Janni Brixen, a media official with the university's Faculty of Social Science, said Puigdemont would attend it "in person."

A spokeswoman for Puigdemont's party also confirmed that he was planning to travel to Copenhagen and attend the debate "representing the legitimate government of Catalonia."

Puigdemont is being investigated by Spain for possible rebellion, sedition and embezzlement linked to a unilateral declaration of independence last fall in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia.

A Spanish Supreme Court judge dropped an extradition request to Belgium in December after it became clear that authorities in Brussels would probably agree to send him back but would restricted the crimes that he could be judged for in Spain.

The separatist politician still faces detention if he returns to Spain, but is free to travel elsewhere unless the judge re-activates the European and international arrest warrants against him. There was no sign of that being in the works on Friday.

Lawyer Paul Bekaert, who has represented Puigdemont in earlier extradition hearings in Belgium, declined to discuss his assessment of the risk that the trip posed. The Danish Ministry of Justice also refused to comment.

Puigdemont is seeking to be back in charge of affairs in Catalonia even if it is from self-imposed exile in Belgium.

"If I have to choose between being an inmate or a president, I'd rather be a president, even from afar," he told Catalonia's public radio Friday.

"At least now I can do things that I wouldn't be able to do in prison," he said, referring to the help that "new technologies" could provide.

The October secession attempt led Spanish central authorities to take direct control of Catalonia, disband its regional cabinet and call an early regional election.

The Catalan vote in December failed to break the political deadlock, granting separatists a slim parliamentary majority that in theory would allow them to form a government.

But with ousted Catalan Cabinet members under investigation, jailed or in Belgium and facing arrest if they return home, the regional parliament must decide by the end of January whether to permit Puigdemont's re-election.

The chamber's regulations are imprecise about what to do under such unprecedented situation.

On Friday, Puigdemont said separatist parties were studying whether parliamentary immunity could be invoked to allow his return without being arrested.

Spain's central government has vowed to impede Puigdemont's reinstatement by challenging it in courts if necessary and to keep direct control over the region until a new government takes over.

The host of the forum, Political Science Professor Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen, said the controversy around the former Catalan president was part of the reason why the University of Copenhagen had decided that a "healthy debate" was needed in an "open and mature environment."

"Danish society is very much driven by consensus and for that effect we engage in endless deliberations," Vedby Rasmussen told The Associated Press. "From that political perspective, both sides have been extremely confrontational, and that comes as something alien for Danish people who want to understand better what's going on in Catalonia."

——

David Keyton in Stockholm and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.

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World

N.Korea cancels S.Korea visit by advance team for art troupe

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N.Korea cancels S.Korea visit by advance team for art troupe

The Associated Press
A South Korean army soldier stands guard behind a poster showing the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic mascot at the Unification Observation post in Goseong, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. The rival Koreas agreed Wednesday to form their first unified Olympic team and have their athletes parade together for the first time in 11 years during the opening ceremony of next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea, officials said. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

North Korea on Friday abruptly canceled plans to send a delegation led by the head of a hugely popular girl band to South Korea over the weekend to check preparations for a trip by a North Korean art troupe she also leads during next month's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said North Korea didn't explain why it was "suspending" the two-day visit by the seven-member advance team that it proposed just hours earlier through a cross-border communication channel.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the visit, which was to begin on Saturday, was permanently canceled or postponed. The ministry said it will try to gather further information from the North regarding the decision.

The rival Koreas earlier this week agreed that the 140-member Samjiyon art troupe, which will include singers, dancers and orchestra members, will perform twice in South Korea during the games in a sign of warming ties between the countries. It will be part of a North Korean Olympic delegation that will also include athletes, officials, state media reporters, a cheering group and a taekwondo demonstration team.

South Korea has also proposed that it send a 12-member delegation to North Korea on Tuesday to inspect preparations for a joint cultural event at the North's scenic Diamond Mountain and a training session between non-Olympic skiers at the North's Masik ski resort ahead of the Olympics in the South, the ministry said.

The little-known Samjiyon art troupe is led by Hyon Song Wol, who also heads the popular female Moranbong Band hand-picked by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Hyon has been the focus of intense South Korean media interest since she attended inter-Korean talks at the border on Monday that reached agreement on the troupe's visit. Hyon's gestures during the talks as well as her makeup, looks, navy blue suit and green shoulder bag received widespread coverage.

The reconciliation mood between the Koreas began after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year's speech that he was willing to send a delegation to the Olympics. While South Korea hopes to use the games to improve relations with its rival after a year of animosity involving North Korea's rapidly expanding nuclear weapons program, some experts view Kim's overture as an attempt to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions against the North and buy time to further advance his nuclear weapons program.

Hyon is also an alternate member of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee. Her visit would have made her the highest-profile North Korean to visit South Korea since its International Olympic Committee representative, Chang Ung, came last July.

———

Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.

———

This story has been corrected to show that proposed South Korean trip is Tuesday instead of Monday.

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Entertainment

Meet the women who could testify at Bill Cosby’s 2nd trial

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Meet the women who could testify at Bill Cosby's 2nd trial

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WATCH Bill Cosby juror says 2nd trial would be a 'waste of money'

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Prosecutors this week asked a judge to let jurors at Bill Cosby's spring retrial hear from 19 other accusers.

They want to show that even though he is charged with drugging and sexually assaulting one woman at his home near Philadelphia, it was part of a pattern over five decades. The women are among about 60 women who came forward to accuse Cosby of drugging and molesting them.

At Cosby's first trial, which ended in a deadlock, prosecutors had tried to call 13 other accusers to testify. The judge allowed only one to take the stand.

On Thursday, they renewed their request to have the 13 women testify, and added six more to the list. The new potential witnesses include model Janice Dickinson; a secretary who knew Cosby in the 1960s; and a performer who opened for him in the early 1980s.

Attorneys for Cosby, who is now 80, have said the women's memories are tainted at best and will ask the judge to bar them from testifying at the retrial, scheduled for April. In many cases, they have responded to the women's specific allegations, as noted below.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they are sexual-assault victims, but those named below have consented.

———

THE CRIMINAL CASE

ANDREA CONSTAND

Ages then: She was 30; he was 66.

Constand told police in 2005 that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her a year earlier at his suburban Philadelphia estate. A Temple University basketball team manager, Constand said he gave her three unlabeled blue pills to "relax" as she discussed a career change. She said she was semi-conscious when he digitally penetrated her. Cosby, a Temple alumnus, booster and trustee, is charged with sexually assaulting a person unable to give consent, a felony that could bring 10 years in prison upon conviction. The defense says her story has evolved and there were other times they were sexually intimate. Cosby has pleaded not guilty.

———

THE 19 OTHERS

KRISTINA RUEHLI

Ages then: She was 22, he was 27.

Ruehli met Cosby in 1965 while working as a secretary at a Los Angeles talent agency. She says he invited her to a party at his home but that it was a ruse. Ruehli, who was named Donna Czapla at the time, says there were no guests other than her and an actress she'd brought with her. She says she took two drinks from Cosby and soon felt as if she were "floating." Ruehli says she passed out and woke up naked in Cosby's bed as he fondled her breasts and tried forcing her to give him oral sex. Cosby's lawyer in 2014 said her allegations were among a group of unsubstantiated, absurd, decades-old stories.

———

LINDA BROWN

Ages then: She was 21; he was 32.

Brown's agent sent the aspiring model to attend Cosby's show in Toronto and have dinner with him afterward in 1969. He invited her to his hotel room to give her a gift and offered her a soda that caused her to black out, she said, before raping her. The defense questions how she "blacked out" after two sips of soda.

———

CINDRA LADD

Ages then: She was 21; he was 32.

Ladd, a model-turned-Hollywood executive married to former MGM chairman Alan Ladd Jr., met Cosby in 1969 when he offered career advice. They were at his friend's house in New York one day when she complained about having a headache and he gave her a pill he called "a miracle cure" from his doctor. She became incapacitated, and Cosby raped her, she said. The defense says she only assumes they had sex because she had blacked out.

———

UNIDENTIFIED ACCUSER 1

Ages then: She was 23; he was 34.

She met Cosby through her job at the Playboy Club in New York in 1971. She said he offered her quaaludes in a limousine one day, which she declined. She then had three or four glasses of Champagne but believes they contained an intoxicant that left her unconscious. She said she woke up naked in a hotel room feeling sore and having been sexually assaulted. The defense says her case differs from Constand's because they were closer in age and had only met twice.

———

DONNA MOTSINGER

Ages then: She was 26; he was 33.

Motsinger was a waitress at the Trident restaurant in Sausalito, California, a favorite of Cosby's. He befriended Motsinger and her 9-year-old son. In 1972, Motsinger said, she accepted an invitation to Cosby's show and drank wine he gave her in the limousine on the way there. When a headache ensued, she took a pill he handed her. She said she recalls being fondled before waking up the next day, nearly naked, at her own home. The defense says the restaurant was "a notorious drug mecca" and Motsinger dated a founder of an LSD-linked band of hippies.

———

MARGIE SHAPIRO

Ages then: She was 19; he was 38.

Shapiro worked at Castle Donuts in Santa Monica, California, in 1975 when Cosby stopped by. She said he invited her to the set of "Mother, Jugs & Speed" and then to a dinner party but instead took her to a house near the Playboy Mansion, where they played pinball fueled by Cosby's challenge that whoever lost would have to take a pill she believed to be a quaalude. She lost. She said she recalls waking up to find Cosby having sex with her. The defense says the doughnut shop has closed and the boss died, leaving it unable to thoroughly investigate her account.

———

THERESE SERIGNESE

Ages then: She was 19; he was 38.

Serignese, now a nurse, was in the gift shop of the Las Vegas Hilton in about 1975 when she met Cosby. He later invited her to his show and then to a room backstage, where he gave her two pills that left her incapacitated before he raped her, she said. Cosby, in a 2006 deposition in Constand's lawsuit, testified that he gave Serignese quaaludes before a consensual sexual encounter. The defense says "her story about their lengthy 20-year relationship after the incident (many would call it an affair) has changed drastically over the years."

———

ELIZABETH

Ages then: She was 20; he was 38 or 39.

The woman, who gave her name only as Elizabeth when she spoke publicly in 2015, was a flight attendant who met Cosby on a New York-Los Angeles flight in 1976. She said he invited her to the Playboy Mansion and to dinner, where he insisted she try the sake. She said the drink made her feel like she was in a "trancelike state" and remembers next being in Cosby's hotel room and him forcing her to perform oral sex.

———

UNIDENTIFIED ACCUSER 2

Ages then: She was about 30; he was about 43.

The performer befriended Cosby after she opened for him at a Denver club in the early 1980s. Cosby arranged for the woman to meet him in Las Vegas. There, she said, Cosby invited her to his hotel room to discuss career plans and knocked her out with a spiked cordial drink. She said she's sure Cosby raped her because a "girl can tell" when she has had sex.

———

UNIDENTIFIED ACCUSER 3

Ages then: She was 23; he was about 43.

The waitress and aspiring actress met Cosby in 1981, saw him as a mentor and accepted his invitation to eat dinner in a private room at the Denver club where she worked. She said she blacked out after drinking half a glass of wine and awoke to find herself naked in Cosby's hotel bed as he stood over her in an open bathrobe. She said genital soreness and fluids on her body indicated that he'd raped her.

———

LINDA KIRKPATRICK

Ages then: She was 25; he was 43.

Kirkpatrick met Cosby while playing against him in a tennis tournament in 1981. He offered her tickets to his show at the Las Vegas Hilton, where he gave her a drink in his dressing room that left her incapacitated, she said. She next recalls him being on top of her, kissing her and rubbing against her. The defense says her account is unique among Cosby accusers because they were at a party, surrounded by numerous people, when she took the drink.

———

JANICE DICKINSON

Ages then: She was 27; he was 45.

Dickinson met Cosby in 1982 and saw him as a trusted friend and mentor as she tried to broaden her career from modeling to music and television. Dickinson said Cosby arranged for her to fly to see him perform in Lake Tahoe and knocked her out with a pill he gave her after she'd complained of stomach pain. She said she woke up in pain and found fluids between her legs. She never reported the encounter to authorities and has said she was afraid if she did that her career would be damaged and Cosby would retaliate. Cosby lawyer Martin Singer said in 2014 that Dickinson's allegations were a lie and a "glaring contradiction" to what she wrote in her book and what she'd previously told the media.

———

JANICE BAKER-KINNEY

Ages then: She was 24; he was 45.

Baker-Kinney, then a Harrah's bartender in Reno, Nevada, went to a pizza party at a nearby home where Cosby was staying in 1982. He insisted she take two pills, she said, before the backgammon game they were playing went blurry. She said she recalls seeing her blouse unbuttoned and his pants unzipped before she awoke naked with signs she had been sexually assaulted. The defense says her story is "nothing like Ms. Constand's" because she only met Cosby once, "voluntarily" took quaaludes and apologized for passing out.

———

HEIDI THOMAS

Ages then: She was 24; he was 46.

Thomas' agent sent the aspiring actress to meet Cosby for career advice at a Harrah's hotel in Reno in 1984, but the limousine he sent instead took her to a private house where she said he gave her a drink so she could play the intoxicated person in a script he gave her. During intermittent bouts of consciousness, she said, she was naked and Cosby forced her to perform oral sex. The defense says she has given three versions of her story.

———

REBECCA NEAL

Ages then: She was about 28; he was about 46.

Neal worked as a masseuse at a Las Vegas health club where Cosby played tennis in the mid-1980s. He befriended her mother and aunt there, leading her to accept an invitation to his show at the Las Vegas Hilton and dinner afterward. Cosby urged her to have a drink set before her while he ate. She said he later raped her in his room while she was too disoriented to give consent. The defense says she knew him only for a few months, unlike Constand, and has said a waiter served the shot of vodka.

———

UNIDENTIFIED ACCUSER 4

Ages then: She was 21; he was 48.

She was a flight attendant and aspiring model when she met Cosby in 1986. After several months of friendship, including a chance to be an extra on Cosby's television show, he invited her to dinner and then to his room at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. There, she said, he gave a glass of Champagne laced with an intoxicant that left her unable to ward off his sexual advances before she passed out.

———

CHELAN LASHA

Ages then: She was 17; he was 48.

The model and aspiring actress met and befriended Cosby in 1986. Lasha said he invited her to his Las Vegas hotel room to introduce her to a modeling agency representative and gave her a pill he described as an antihistamine and a double shot of almond liqueur to help fight a cold. At Cosby's behest, Lasha said, she changed into a robe, wet her hair and posed for a few modeling shots. She said Cosby then directed her to the bed, where he pinched her nipple and humped her leg as she lay immobilized and unable to speak. She says she woke up naked.

———

LISE-LOTTE LUBLIN

Ages then: She was 23; he was about 52.

Lublin was an aspiring actress when she met Cosby in 1989. She and her mother went for a run with Cosby, and he gave them show tickets before he invited her to the Elvis suite of the Las Vegas Hilton to practice acting improvisation. He prodded her to take two drinks to relax, which she ultimately did. She said she recalls seeing Cosby stroking her hair and walking down a hall before she woke up at home two days later. She said she believes she was sexually assaulted. The defense says Lublin assumes she is a victim based on other media accounts but can only remember Cosby stroking her hair.

———

KELLY JOHNSON

Ages then: She was 34; he was 58.

Johnson was the only other accuser allowed to testify at Cosby's first trial. She worked for Cosby's agent and knew the entertainer for six years when he invited her to lunch at his bungalow at the Bel Air Hotel in 1996 to discuss her acting ambitions. She testified that Cosby was in a robe and slippers when she arrived and that he offered her wine and pressured her to take a large white pill that knocked her out. When she woke up, she said, her dress was disheveled and her breasts were exposed. Johnson said Cosby put lotion on her hand and forced her to touch his genitals. Johnson had corroborating evidence in the form of a 1996 workers' compensation claim. Cosby's lawyers argued Johnson was seeking a payout. At the first trial, a defense lawyer noted that she mixed up the years and other details of her encounters with Cosby and grilled her about why she never said anything when she left her job.

———

Associated Press writer Maryclaire Dale contributed to this report.

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Entertainment

Michael Douglas fondled himself: Former employee

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Michael Douglas fondled himself: Former employee

PlayThe Associated Press

WATCH Michael Douglas denies any potential allegations of sexual misconduct

A woman who worked for Michael Douglas in the late 1980s says he fondled himself in front of her — an allegation the actor has vigorously denied.

Susan Braudy appeared Friday on NBC's "Today" show.

Braudy, a journalist and author, says the actor unbuckled his belt, put his hand into his trousers and fondled himself in her presence. She says a friend later cautioned her not to tell anyone.

Douglas, a two-time Oscar winner, told Deadline earlier this month that he anticipated an upcoming report would contain an allegation by a former employee that he acted inappropriately in front of her about 32 years ago. He called it a "complete lie, fabrication." He says his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, "has been very supportive."

Douglas' publicist said he would have no further comment.

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Technology

Amazon raises monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

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Amazon raises monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

The Associated Press
FILE – In this Dec. 20, 2017, file photo, a clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customer order at the Amazon Prime warehouse, in New York. Amazon says it is boosting the price of its monthly Prime membership fees for new and existing members by nearly 20 percent. The online retailer says its annual membership fee of $99 will not change. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Amazon is raising the price of its Prime membership monthly plan by nearly 20 percent. The fee of $99 for an annual membership will not change, the company said Friday.

The online retailer had added the monthly payment option about two years ago as a way to hook shoppers — especially during the holiday season — who wanted faster free shipping, but didn't want to commit to an annual fee. The Seattle-based company does not disclose how many Prime members it has.

Besides free two-day shipping, Prime members get other perks, such as access to Amazon's video and music streaming services.

Starting Friday, new monthly members will pay $12.99 a month, up from $10.99. Qualifying college students will pay $6.49 a month, up from $5.49. Amazon.com Inc. said existing monthly members will start paying the higher fees next month.

Amazon said its $5.99-a-month Prime membership for low-income people who receive government assistance is not affected by the price increase. Amazon launched the discounted Prime membership last year for people who have a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer card.

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Entertainment

Meghan Markle has wedding dress fitting at Kensington Palace: Source

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Meghan Markle has chosen wedding dress designer, has fitting at Kensington Palace: Source

PlayBen Birchall/WPA Pool/Getty Images

WATCH Meghan Markle has chosen a wedding dress designer: Source

With four months to go until Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle, the bride-to-be has had her first fitting with the designer making her wedding dress, royal reporter Omid Scobie told ABC News.

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“We have a wedding dress designer," said Scobie, also a royal biographer. "Meghan flew in her close friend and bridal stylist Jessica Mulroney from Toronto to London last weekend where she attended a top-secret fitting at Kensington Palace with the designer."

PHOTO: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to Cardiff Castle, Jan. 18, 2017, in Wales, UK.i-Images/Polaris
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to Cardiff Castle, Jan. 18, 2017, in Wales, UK.

Meghan Markle has already described her dream wedding dress Prince William jokes that Harry still hasn't asked him to be his best man: 'It could be a sensitive issue'

He added, "They've tried on a number of different designs and are currently whittling it down to pick the best design for the day.”

Markle invited Mulroney, her best friend and stylist, to her new home with Harry — Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace — to create a bespoke, custom-made dress for her wedding day.

PHOTO: Jessica Mulroney and actress Meghan Markle attend the World Vision event held at Lumas Gallery, March 22, 2016, in Toronto. George Pimentel/Getty Images
Jessica Mulroney and actress Meghan Markle attend the World Vision event held at Lumas Gallery, March 22, 2016, in Toronto.

“During the process, Meghan expressed the desire to wear something simple and classy and very elegant," Scobie said. "I think we'll see her go down that route for the wedding day as well.”

Mulroney’s four-day visit to Kensington Palace last week also allowed Markle and Mulroney to start reviewing plans for the May 19, 2018, wedding and reception. Mulroney, also a bridal planner, is assisting Markle in the entire design and concept of the wedding party outfits and look for the reception.

“Jessica Mulroney has a rich history when it comes to … wedding planning and bridal styling," Scobie said. "It's not just the dress she's involved in. She's actually helping with a number of elements for the big day and I think Meghan is really relying heavily on her expertise and a lot of the decision she has to make, and there are many."

Harry, the fifth in line to the throne, has "made himself scarce" when it comes to the wedding planning, Scobie said.

PHOTO: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Cardiff Castle, an iconic building with a history dating back 2,000 years, Jan. 18, 2018, in Cardiff, Wales.Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Cardiff Castle, an iconic building with a history dating back 2,000 years, Jan. 18, 2018, in Cardiff, Wales.

“Harry made himself scarce, giving the girls plenty of private time to kind of have their meetings with the designers and, of course, choose other wedding elements," he said. "Harry's kind of made it clear that he wants to make this about Meghan."

The bride and groom have yet to send out formal wedding invitations but they have been telling close friends to save the date.

PHOTO: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a street dance class during their visit to Star Hub, a community and leisure center in the Tremorfa area of the city, Cardiff, Wales, Jan. 18 2018.Geoff Pugh/REX/Shutterstock
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a street dance class during their visit to Star Hub, a community and leisure center in the Tremorfa area of the city, Cardiff, Wales, Jan. 18 2018.

Among the high-profile guests who could attend Harry and Markle's wedding at Windsor Castle are Barack and Michelle Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and first lady Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and some of Markle's celebrity friends, including actress Priyanka Chopra, designer Misha Nonoo and tennis star Serena Williams.

Prince William and Princess Kate invited Ellie Goulding to perform at their wedding reception in 2011.

"Harry has actually put on the top of his list his good friend Ed Sheeran to perform at the after-party," US Weekly magazine editor-in-chief Jennifer Peros told "Good Morning America."

As for the bridal party, Prince William and Kate's children — Prince George and Princess Charlotte — will take center stage as page boy and flower girl, respectively, as they did at the 2017 wedding of their aunt, Pippa Middleton.

"Another surprise will be Jessica Mulroney's daughter, Ivy, who I heard will be a flower girl on the day," Scobie said.

Who is Jessica Mulroney?

PHOTO: Meghan Markle and Jessica Mulroney attend the Instagram Dinner held at the MARS Discovery District, May 31, 2016, in Toronto, Canada.George Pimentel/Getty Images
Meghan Markle and Jessica Mulroney attend the Instagram Dinner held at the MARS Discovery District, May 31, 2016, in Toronto, Canada.

Mulroney is Canada’s best-known stylist. She represents not only Markle but also assists Canada's first lady Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and many members of Canada’s elite.

Markle lived in Toronto during her seven-season run on the TV drama "Suits," which films in the Canadian city.

Markle's much-emulated style and the so-called "Meghan effect," where anything she wears quickly crashes websites and sells out, is largely because of the collaboration and vision between Mulroney and Markle.

Mulroney has been seen at Markle's side at yoga outings together and at her most important public appearances. Mulroney was invited into the private box at the closing ceremony of last year's Invictus Games alongside Markle and Harry as well as Markle's mom and her other confidante, Markus Anderson.

Mulroney also helped Markle with her look on "Suits," most notably the wedding dress Markle wore as her character Rachel Zane.

PHOTO: Meghan Markle wears a wedding dress as the character Rachel Zane in Suits.USA Network
Meghan Markle wears a wedding dress as the character Rachel Zane in Suits.

Since Markle's engagement to Harry, Mulroney has worked with the future royal to select the iconic Parosh dress and Line the Label coat Markle wore on the day the couple's engagement was announced in November. Mulroney was also at Markle's side advising her on the stunning Ralph and Russo gown and Victoria Beckham cashmere sweater Markle wore for her intimate engagement photos with Harry.

PHOTO: In this photo released by Kensington Palace, Dec. 21, 2017, Britains Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose an official engagement photo, at Frogmore House, in Windsor, England. Alexi Lubomirski via AP
In this photo released by Kensington Palace, Dec. 21, 2017, Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose an official engagement photo, at Frogmore House, in Windsor, England.
PHOTO: In this photo released by Kensington Palace, Dec. 21, 2017, Britains Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for one of two official engagement photos, at Frogmore House, in Windsor, England. Alexi Lubomirski via AP
In this photo released by Kensington Palace, Dec. 21, 2017, Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for one of two official engagement photos, at Frogmore House, in Windsor, England.

Markle's selection of outfits that are a nod to her Canadian ties and U.S. and now British roots has also come with the help of Mulroney. The nod to selecting styles from designers with local roots, often called diplomatic dressing, is also done by Princess Kate on official royal diplomatic tours.

"One thing to really take into account is that Megan has always been very conscious of where she's going when she dresses," Scobie said. "Of course we've seen her make nods to the locations she's at or the country she's in with the style choices she's made."

Looking ahead to Markle's wedding day, Scobie added, "I think on the day of the wedding we'll very much see her kind of make a nod to the different places that she feels are important to her."

Mulroney is the wife of Ben Mulroney, whose father is a former prime minister of Canada. The couple is one of Canada's best-known power couples and are often considered Canadian royalty in Toronto.

PHOTO: Ben Mulroney and Jessica Mulroney arrive for the David Foster Foundation Gala at Rogers Arena, Oct. 21, 2017, in Vancouver, Canada.Andrew Chin/Getty Images
Ben Mulroney and Jessica Mulroney arrive for the David Foster Foundation Gala at Rogers Arena, Oct. 21, 2017, in Vancouver, Canada.

In addition to her role as stylist to the stars in Canada, Jessica Mulroney is also a bridal consultant for Kleinfeld Bridal and a contributing editor for Wedding Vacations.

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World

A year after Jammeh’s exit, Gambia emerges from the shadows

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A year after Jammeh's exit, Gambia emerges from the shadows

The Associated Press
FILE- In this Thursday Jan. 26, 2017 file photo, Gambian President Adama Barrow greets the crowds after arriving at Banjul airport in Gambia. In the year since the world marvelled at the fall of African dictator Yahya Jammeh, the tiny nation of Gambia has risen from the shadows of his "rule of fear" with its arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. ??(AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

The military intervention looked imminent. West African troops were poised to push into Gambia as Yahya Jammeh, the tiny nation's leader for more than 22 years, refused to cede power after losing elections. President-elect Adama Barrow had flown to safety in neighboring Senegal, where he was sworn in at the Gambian embassy with international support.

Days later, Jammeh kissed his Quran, waved goodbye to teary-eyed supporters and boarded a plane with his family and dozens of allies, eventually landing in Equatorial Guinea and disappearing into silence.

In the year since the world marveled at a dictator's fall, Gambia has risen from the shadows of Jammeh's "rule of fear" with its arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

"Journalists can now freely conduct their work and human rights defenders can carry out their mandate without fearing persecution. The average Gambian is enjoying a lot of fundamental rights and freedoms he couldn't expect under the previous government," Justice Minister Aboubacarr Tambadou told The Associated Press, calling it a "seismic shift."

But he warned: "Let us remember that democracy is a continuum … it will take time to rebuild a country."

Jammeh left the nation of 1.9 million people in shambles. Its stunted economy has forced many to flee toward Europe over the years. Jammeh's face remains on the country's banknotes.

Gambia's new government inherited $1 billion in debt, Barrow has said, along with emptied coffers.

The government has seized some $50 million in assets tied to Jammeh and froze 131 properties and more than 80 bank accounts linked to the former leader.

At the same time, the international community has welcomed the change in government with new aid and investment. Barrow's administration has made significant gains in restoring the confidence of partners such as the World Bank and African Development Bank.

The government and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation have signed a $210 million framework agreement aimed at boosting job creation and the energy and agricultural sectors. Among the European countries expressing new interest, Germany has committed to help Gambia solve its power crisis as frequent electricity shortages hamper development efforts.

Such steps enable the country to "graduate from isolation and collapsed economy to a vibrant destination for investors," Barrow said in his televised New Year's Eve address.

But economic change remains slow in the sliver of a country tucked between regional power Senegal and a stunning Atlantic coastline.

"The government should do its utmost best to reduce the price of the bag of rice and basic commodities," said Aji Kumba Jeng, who lives outside the capital, Banjul, and called the cost of living still too high, with jobs scarce.

Gambia's new government also has moved quickly in the past year to address abuses committed under the old administration. It cancelled the diplomatic passports of Jammeh and more than 200 other people, including his family members.

The government also renamed the National Intelligence Agency, known for carrying out killings and detentions ordered by Jammeh, and a trial against nine NIA officials has begun.

In December, the parliament endorsed two major bills to reshape the country's institutions and pave the way for a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission and a much-awaited National Human Rights Commission.

Amadou Scattred Janneh of the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations called the government's moves "a step in the right direction."

The center is leading a campaign aimed at bringing Jammeh and others to justice; a potential trial for the former leader would be years away.

Fatoumata Sandeng, the daughter of activist Solo Sandeng who was murdered in 2016 for demanding electoral reforms, said justice must prevail in all cases of abuses and welcomed Gambia's recent moves.

But some said supporters of Jammeh cannot be left out of the country's reforms.

Recent clashes with Jammeh's party supporters have cast doubt on the reconciliation agenda, said Sait Matty Jaw, a political science lecturer at the University of The Gambia. In addition, divisions have formed within the government, which is made up of several former opposition parties.

"There is need for national dialogue where political parties, civil society groups, every sector of society have to come in and then we decide what would be the way forward," he said.

Jammeh, who was sanctioned by the United States in December, has remained quiet in exile in Equatorial Guinea, a state that is not a party to the statue that created the International Criminal Court.

Earlier this week, Equatorial Guinea's President Theodoro Obiang Nguema told Radio France Internationale that if Jammeh's extradition is requested, "I will analyze it with my lawyers."

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Petesch reported from Dakar, Senegal.

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Follow the AP's Africa news on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AP—Africa

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Entertainment

Royal close shave: Prince William opts for dramatic buzz cut

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Royal close shave: Prince William opts for dramatic buzz cut

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The hair on the heir is no longer quite so apparent.

Prince William, whose hairline has been receding for years, has opted for a dramatic close-shaved new hairstyle.

The buzz cut was captured by photographers as 35-year-old William, who is second in line to the British throne behind his father Prince Charles, visited a London children's hospital on Thursday.

British bookmakers are looking to profit from William's hair loss. They are now taking bets on what style he will sport at younger brother Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle on May 19 at Windsor Castle.

Harry has teased William for years about his thinning hair.

Bookie William Hill is offering 1-2 odds on the current closely cropped style, 6-4 on a totally shaved head and 6-1 on a hair transplant.

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Technology

Melted nuclear fuel seen inside second Fukushima reactor

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Melted nuclear fuel seen inside second Fukushima reactor

The Associated Press
A photo taken by a robotic probe provided by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, shows a part of what is believed to be the handle of the fuel rods container and melted fuel in small lumps scattered on a structure below the Fukushima reactor core. The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant says a long telescopic pipe carrying a camera has captured images of some melted fuel inside one of the three reactors, a crucial information for the decades-long cleanup. (International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning via AP)

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said Friday that a long telescopic probe successfully captured images of what is most likely melted fuel inside one of its three damaged reactors, providing limited but crucial information for its cleanup.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the fishing rod-like device carrying a camera went deep into the plant's Unit 2 primary containment vessel. The images indicated that at least part of the fuel had breached the core, falling to the vessel's floor, TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto said.

"There is so much that we still haven't seen," Kimoto told reporters. "But we were able to obtain important information that we need in order to determine the right method for removing the melted fuel debris."

A massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 caused three reactors at the Fukushima plant to melt. The plant's decommissioning is expected to take decades.

Melted fuel has previously only been documented inside Unit 3, where an underwater probe captured images of large amounts of melted fuel debris that looked like molten lava mixed with broken parts of equipment and structures on the concrete floor.

During Friday's investigation, the device — developed by Toshiba Corp. and the International Research Institute for Decommissioning, a government-funded organization of nuclear companies — found deposits in the shape of pebbles, clay and other forms, Kimoto said.

Determining the location of the melted fuel is crucial in planning for its removal, the hardest process in the plant's decommissioning.

The government and TEPCO plan to determine the methods and start removing melted fuel from one of the three reactors in 2021. But experts say a lack of data is delaying the development of the precise type of technology and robots.

The images from Friday's probe show was what is believed to be a stainless steel handle of a case containing bundles of fuel rods sitting on a pile of pebble-shaped and clayish substances, in a sign the rods melted and breached the bottom of the core. The deposits seemed to be scattered in a wide area around the pedestal, the main structure that sits underneath the core.

Experts say they believe part of the fuel still remains inside the core of the Unit 2 reactor, while almost all of the fuel rods in Unit 1 and 3 melted and fell to the bottom of the primary containment chambers.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Find her work at https://www.apnews.com/search/mari%20yamaguchi

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World

2 prison guards attacked in Corsica jail, 4 inmates arrested

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2 prison guards attacked in Corsica jail, 4 inmates arrested

The Associated Press
Smoke rises as a fire set up by penitentiary staff outside the prison in Vendin le Vieil, northern France, Tuesday, Jan.16, 2018. Protesting French prison guards have pushed back against riot police and shouted down the justice minister amid demonstrations at several prisons over violent inmates and overcrowding. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

Two prison guards were attacked Friday by four inmates on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica as prison guards across the country protested working conditions, the Penitentiary Administration said.

The guards were hospitalized in serious condition and the four inmates, including one suspected of becoming radicalized, were arrested after gendarmes moved in to secure the prison, a penitentiary official said.

The attack at Borgo prison in northern Corsica was the latest by inmates on guards during the massive labor protests this week. Guards at 80 of France's 188 prisons were taking part on Friday in blockages — ranging from work slowdowns to protests, according to the official. He asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

At least one "sharp-pointed" weapon was used in the Borgo attack, he said.

French prison guards have been demanding more security, more staff and safer handling of violent inmates.

The national union protest was launched after an Islamic radical wanted by the United States attacked three guards with a knife at a high-security prison in northern France last week.

Authorities say that attack at Vendin-le-Vieil was carried out by inmate Christian Ganczarski, a German who converted to Islam and was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his involvement in a 2002 attack on a synagogue in Tunisia that left 21 people dead.

Ganczarski, 51, is also suspected by the United States of providing critical support to Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks. He was charged Wednesday in a Manhattan federal court with conspiring to kill Americans and supporting terrorists.

In France, Ganczarski was given new preliminary charges of attempted murder following the knife attack. He was also transferred to another prison in northern France, according to Guillaume Pottier, a prison union leader.

The French Prison Administration official said aggressive actions against guards by inmates are not uncommon, with 4,000 last year. It insisted that recent aggressions this week are not linked to the guards' protests.

In response to the wave of prison guard protests, President Emmanuel Macron on Monday ordered the government to come up with a "global penitentiary plan" by the end of February that would modernize French facilities and prison intelligence-gathering. He also suggested a "massive" shift to alternative punishment such as obligatory public service or electronic bracelets.

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