WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has decided not to immediately move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a senior White House official said, violating a campaign promise but avoiding a provocation that could drive Palestinians away from peace talks.

The official said the administration considers its discussions with both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to be promising, with the Palestinians in particular agreeing to talk without preconditions. The official asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Trump said in a speech to the American Israeli Political Action Committee conference in March 2016 that he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, calling it “the eternal capital of the Jewish people.” The city is claimed as a capital by both Jews and Palestinians, however, and relocating the U.S. embassy — essentially declaring Jerusalem to be Israeli territory — would raise tensions.

“We don’t think it would be wise to do it at this time,” the official said. “We’ve been very clear what our position is and what we would like to see done, but we’re not looking to provoke anyone when everyone’s playing really nice.”

As president, Trump has said he’d like to try to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, calling it “the ultimate deal.” He sent an envoy, Jason Greenblatt, to the region in March to open talks, and Trump has met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House.

—Bloomberg News


‘Irate’ man killed tow company owner over vehicle, police say

ORLANDO, Fla. — Paul Gren was a controversial figure in Orlando.

He was known for having harsh policies at his business, the Tow Truck Company, that led to many angry drivers.

But friends say they never thought one would take his life.

Police said a man “irate” that his car was impounded shot and killed Gren, 54, at his tow yard in the Parramore neighborhood.

Tremain Polk, 35, was arrested on first-degree murder and burglary charges.

Over the years, Gren received scores of complaints from angry drivers who accused him of predatory towing, which led the city of Orlando to revise its towing regulations in 2008.

He was accused of booting vehicles that still had people inside, once even booting a Coca-Cola truck that was making a delivery.

The deadly incident started about 6 p.m. Tuesday, when Polk stopped at the Tow Truck Company to pick up his vehicle.

Polk only had $135, and he became upset when employee Erica Hicks told him his bill was $285, according to police.

Hicks said he tried to push his way into the office but stopped after she told him she would call the police.

Police say Polk is captured on a surveillance camera jumping a chain-link fence into the yard. He smashed the windows of three cars, then got into his car and drove toward a closed bay door, police said.

He tried unsuccessfully to open it before Gren confronted him.

Hicks told police Gren had a gun in his hand but held it by his side and never raised it.

According to Hicks, Polk said he just wanted to leave and started to walk away.

“She described how Polk took ‘two steps’ inside the door, turned around toward Gren, took a gun from his waistband, and fired three shots at Gren from point-blank range,” the arrest affidavit said.

The shooting was not captured on video, but Hicks was on the phone with dispatchers when shots were fired, police said.

Officers responded and found Gren, who was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Polk fled and was arrested a short time later. His gun was recovered.

—Orlando Sentinel


Mystery of Earth’s light flashes solved, could help search for habitable exoplanet

In 1990, when the Galileo satellite whipped around the Earth on its way to Jupiter, it caught sight of mysterious flashes of light coming from the surface of the Earth.

Twenty-five years later, the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, which is stuck out in space between the Earth and sun almost four times as far away from the planet as the moon, was also capturing these mysterious flashes of light. In fact, DSCOVR captured more than 800 of these flashes between 2015 and 2016, and scientists have figured out what they are.

The puzzle was solved by Alexander Marshak, DSCOVR deputy project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

He had noticed the flashes sometimes showing up over oceans while he looked through images from the observatory’s on-board camera, Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, or EPIC.

He wasn’t the first to notice, though. Originally, astronomer Carl Sagan noticed the glint over the planet’s oceans from studying images from that Galileo flight, and surmised they were the sunlight reflecting off the ocean.

And when the public started noticing and inquiring about what the flashes of light may be, they emailed Marshak, who was listed as the person of contact for questions regarding the EPIC camera images.

So Marshak went back and looked at the Galileo images as well as the images from EPIC.

“We found quite a few very bright flashes over land as well,” he said. “When I first saw it I thought maybe there was some water there, or a lake the sun reflects off of. But the glint is pretty big, so it wasn’t that.”

Since it seemed like bodies of water were not the source of the flash, Marshak joined forces with Tamas Varnai of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Alexander Kostinski of Michigan Technological University, using date from EPIC to figure it out.

So what is it? Nearly horizontal ice particles in cirrus clouds that are 3- to 5-miles high up in the atmosphere. That’s the conclusion from works published in Geophysical Research Letters.

—Orlando Sentinel

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