Charges dropped against woman accused of assaulting Kellyanne Conway

Criminal charges were dropped Monday against the Maryland woman accused of grabbing White House counselor Kellyanne Conway at a Mexican restaurant near Washington, D.C.

The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office will not pursue the charges of second-degree assault and another of disorderly conduct that Mary Elizabeth Inabinett faced, a spokesman confirmed to the New York Daily News.

In February, Conway alleged that she was at Uncle Julio’s in Bethesda months earlier when an “out of control” woman grabbed and shook her while “screaming her head off.”

When police arrived, the restaurant manager told them Inabinett yelled “shame on you.” The manager did not witness any physical contact.

Inabinett agreed to write an apology letter to Conway stemming from the incident, according to The Washington Post.

She has denied the assault claims from the start.

“Ms. Inabinett saw Kellyanne Conway, a public figure, in a public place, and exercised her First Amendment right to express her personal opinions. She did not assault Ms. Conway. The facts at trial will show this to be true, and show Ms. Conway’s account to be false,” William McDaniel, her lawyer, said in a statement to the Daily News back in February.

— N.Y. Daily News

Woman faces prostitution-related charges in Florida day spa case

JUPITER, Fla. — Authorities have arrested a third woman accused of prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, according to a town police report.

Lei Chen, 43, is facing one felony county of deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution and eight misdemeanor counts of offering to commit prostitution. Chen remains in the Palm Beach County Jail where she was being held Monday morning in lieu of $5,000 bail.

Chen is the 28th person arrested in connection with the Jupiter spa.

Twenty-five men, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, are facing charges that they solicited sexual acts at Orchids of Asia, at Indiantown Road and U.S. 1. Two women — Hua Zhang and Lei Wang — allegedly ran the Jupiter spa and are facing dozens of felony and misdemeanor charges. Zhang owns the spa and Wang worked as the business’s manager, according to authorities.

The arrests were part of a four-county sting that law enforcement authorities, including Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, said appeared to be connected to human traffickers. Assistant State Attorney Greg Kridos said during a court hearing Friday that no one connected to the Jupiter spa would face human-trafficking charges.

It was not immediately known why Chen was not arrested until Saturday. The State Attorney’s Office has previously said that spa employees engaged in prostitution could be treated as victims instead of criminals if they cooperated in prosecutions of those who ran the spas.

Police said Chen was caught on surveillance camera video covertly installed at the spa providing a sexual act to eight men from Jan. 18 to Jan. 21.

— Palm Beach Post

China to consider U.S. request to shift tariffs on farm goods

China is considering a U.S. request to shift some tariffs on key agricultural goods to other products so the Trump administration can sell any eventual trade deal as a win for farmers ahead of the 2020 election, people familiar with the situation said.

The step would involve China moving retaliatory duties it imposed starting last July on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods to nonagricultural imports, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private. The shift is because the U.S. doesn’t intend to lift its own duties on $50 billion of Chinese imports even if an agreement to resolve the trade war between the two nations is reached, one the people said.

Another person said China would consider shifting the tariffs to make it easier to meet a proposal to buy an additional $30 billion a year more of U.S. agricultural goods on top of pre-trade war levels as part of a final deal. Last July, China had levied punitive tariffs on American goods including soy, corn, wheat, cotton, rice, beef, pork and poultry in response to U.S. duties.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. China’s Commerce Ministry didn’t respond to faxed questions.

The bartering shows that both sides are taking political considerations into account as negotiations drag on to end the trade war, which has rattled financial markets for months. An outcome that completely removes punitive tariffs looks increasingly unlikely as Trump looks to hone his campaign message and continues to threaten the European Union, India and other countries with trade actions.

— Bloomberg News

Global measles count up 300 percent in first quarter, WHO says

GENEVA — Global measles cases are rising for the third year in a row, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday in Geneva, reporting that recorded cases between January and March were 300 percent higher than in the same period last year.

In the first quarter of the year, 170 countries reported some 112,000 infections, up from 28,000 in the first quarter of 2018. However, actual numbers are likely to be 10 times as high, as only a fraction of cases are reported, according to the U.N. health agency.

Although the disease could be prevented if 95 percent of the population were immunized, the WHO reported that global coverage for the first dose of the two-step vaccination has stalled at 85 percent for several years.

Global coverage for the second dose is only 67 percent.

Nearly a quarter of measles patients are hospitalized with complications that can lead to disabilities, brain damage, blindness and hearing loss.

Countries with high numbers of infections in the past six months include Madagascar with 70,000 cases, Ukraine with 49,000, the Philippines with 8,800 and Venezuela with 5,700.

Millions of children have been immunized in Madagascar and the Philippines to curb the outbreaks.

Several Southern and Eastern European countries including Albania, Serbia and Montenegro have some of the world’s highest measles rates — from around 300 to 470 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the WHO.

Infections have also increased in wealthy countries with high overall immunization rates, such as the United States and Israel.

Measles killed nearly 110,000 people in 2017, according to the latest available fatality numbers.

— dpa