An elderly fish that likes to eat fresh figs and get belly rubs is believed to be the world's oldest living aquarium fish. Methuselah is a 4-foot-long, 40-pound Australian lungfish that was brought to the California Academy of Sciences in 1938 from Australia. Biologists at the San Francisco museum believe Methuselah is about 90 years old. The Australian lungfish is a primitive species with lungs and gills that is believed to be the evolutionary link between fish and amphibians. The academy's senior biologist, Allan Jan, is the fish's keeper. Jan says Methuselah has a calm, mellow personality and a taste for fresh figs that it will only eat in season. 

A rare species of eagle that has thrilled bird lovers and baffled scientists since arriving in Maine last month might not be in a hurry to leave. The Steller’s sea eagle arrived in Maine in late December after a brief stop in Massachusetts more than a month ago. It has stuck to Maine’s mid-coast area. It is eating fish and ducks and attracting hundreds of birdwatchers from all over the country. It's native to Asia. Maine Audubon says the eagle is in no danger. Steller's sea eagles have wingspans of up to 8 feet and can weigh twice as much as a bald eagle.

In this Dec. 31, 2021 photo provided by Zachary Holderby, a Steller's sea eagle is seen off Georgetown, Maine near a crow. The rare eagle has taken up residence thousands of miles from its home range, delighting bird lovers and baffling scientists. (Zachary Holderby, Downeast Audubon via AP)

In this Dec. 31, 2021, photo provided by Zachary Holderby, a Steller's sea eagle is seen off Georgetown, Maine. The rare eagle has taken up residence thousands of miles from its home range, delighting bird lovers and baffling scientists. (Zachary Holderby, Downeast Audubon via AP)

The long-running case of a former deep-sea treasure hunter marking his sixth year in jail has hit yet another roadblock. Defendant Tommy Thompson has been held in contempt of court since mid-December 2015. That’s when Columbus federal Judge Algenon Marbley found Thompson violated a plea deal by refusing to respond to questions about the whereabouts of 500 missing gold coins. The coins were minted from gold recovered from the S.S. Central America, which sank in a hurricane off South Carolina in 1857. Thompson says he’s already said everything he knows about them. Marbley on Monday gave Thompson two months to find a new lawyer.

Police in Ireland are investigating reports that the body of a dead man was brought to a post office in an attempt to collect his pension. The Irish Times said a man who appeared to be in his 60s was dragged into the post office in the town of Carlow on Friday, propped up by two younger men. When questioned by staff, the two fled, and the older man was found to be dead. Ireland’s national police force wouldn't discuss details of the case but said officers were investigating. According to the Irish Times, one of the younger men had inquired about collecting someone’s pension and was told that the recipient had to be present.

State police say a truck carrying about 100 monkeys has been involved in a crash in Pennsylvania and authorities are searching for at least three of the monkeys that appeared to have escaped the vehicle. Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Andrea Pelachick told the Daily Item that the truck carrying the animals crashed with a dump truck Friday afternoon in Montour County. She said the truck had been on its way to a lab. Authorities have asked residents who might see the monkeys to call state police. It was unclear if any people or animals were injured in the crash.

Maine’s rotating ice disk has begun to form again in the Presumpscot River three years after its famous first appearance in 2019. Westbrook city officials shared photos Wednesday of the formation on Facebook. Ice disks form as a result of a collection of a current and vortex underneath the ice. Ice sheets begin to spin and then shape into symmetrical circles. But ice disks this large rarely form in locations like Westbrook. A 100-yard-wide formation appeared in the river for the first time three years ago and brought international attention to Westbrook before it dissipated with the advent of warmer weather.

The Belgian city of Antwerp has put its faith in monkey business to put kids at ease for their first COVID-19 jab. With the expansion of the country’s vaccination campaign to include children as young as 5, Belgian authorities are getting creative as they try to prevent kids getting spooked by the sight of vials and needles. Antwerp on Wednesday made use of one its greatest assets — the zoo in the center of town which is one of the finest in Europe. Close to the zoo’s entrance, specially designed safari tents were set up, with photos of zoo animals. To distract them inside the tent, kids were given light pointers to seek out the animals they liked best while they got their shot. 

An Illinois family has solved the mystery of what happened to their missing cat that likes to sit on horses and donkeys. The Quad-City Times reports that Ann Kandis said the cat, named Noodles, jumped into the trunk of her father’s car in November 2018 while he was at the family’s farm in Geneseo. Her father drove off, but stopped along the road when he heard a noise. He opened the trunk and the cat jumped out. The family posted “lost cat” notices and searched along the road but couldn’t find Noodles. Kandis had given up on finding Noodles until she stumbled across a Facebook message showing a cat sitting on a horse. Kandis messaged the woman on Christmas Eve and she still had Noodles.

US and World News

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China is demanding the U.S. end “interference" in the Beijing Winter Olympics, which begin next month. The Foreign Ministry said Minister Wang Yi made the demand in a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday Beijing time. The U.S. has said it will not send dignitaries to the Games, which begin on Feb. 4, in a protest over China's detention of more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, along with crackdowns on human rights elsewhere in the country. According to a news release posted on the ministry's website Thursday, Wang also called for an end to U.S. support for self-governing Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory. Read more

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Gabriel Landeskog tied the game with 36.5 seconds left in regulation and Cale Makar scored a power-play goal 3:01 into overtime as the Colorado Avalanche rallied past the Boston Bruins 4-3 for their 17th straight home victory. With Mike Reilly serving a tripping penalty, Makar took a feed from Nazem Kadri and sent a shot past Linus Ullmark to give the Avalanche their eighth consecutive win overall. Colorado, which overcame the loss of star Nathan MacKinnon to a bloody injury in the first period, broke a tie with the 1975-76 Bruins for the fifth-longest home winning streak in NHL history. The record is 23, set by Detroit during the 2011-12 season.  Read more

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Asian stock markets have tumbled by unusually wide margins after the Federal Reserve indicated it plans to start raising interest rates soon to cool inflation. Tokyo's market benchmark fell more than 3%. Hong Kong and Seoul sank more than 2%. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index lost 0.1% after a Fed statement said the U.S. central bank “expects it will soon be appropriate” to raise rates. Investors expect as many as four rate hikes this year, starting in March. The Fed also said monthly bond purchases that push down long-term rates by injecting money into the financial system would be phased out in March. Read more

New York Police Officer Jason Rivera was no stranger to the tensions between police and some communities. He’d seen it up close, growing up in his heavily Dominican neighborhood in northern Manhattan. And it was personal, like when he saw his brother get pulled from a taxi and frisked. His partner, Wilbert Mora, knew it from his youth in East Harlem. He spent his college years thinking about ways to address it. But their lives ended in gunfire in a Harlem apartment, responding to a domestic disturbance last week. Rivera, 22, had been a police officer for barely a year. Mora, 27, was in his fourth year on the job. Read more

Several dozen impoverished elderly Israelis, among them Holocaust survivors, received food donations from a charity ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Thursday marks the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi’s Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland. The average age of Israel’s 165,800 remaining Holocaust survivors is eight years more than that, according to Israeli government figures published this week. One in three live below the poverty line, a group representing survivors says. Many survivors receive financial assistance from the Israeli government, but for many, it's not enough.  Read more

The real winner of a sweepstakes for a ride in space has finally come forward: a Florida-based airline pilot. Kyle Hippchen held the winning ticket in the random drawing last year. But he exceeded SpaceX's 250-pound weight limit for the Dragon capsule. So he picked his college roommate to take his place for the three-day trip to space. That friend was one of four people who rocketed into orbit last September from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The 43-year-old Hippchen watched the launch from a VIP balcony. Until now, few people knew he was the real winner. Read more

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest at the Australian Open on Thursday (all times local): Read more

From the crushing of Beijing’s 1989 pro-democracy protests to the suppression of Hong Kong’s opposition four decades later, China’s Communist Party has demonstrated a determination and ability to stay in power that is seemingly impervious to Western criticism. The party has made political stability paramount and says that has been the foundation for the economic growth that has bettered lives and put the nation on a path to becoming a regional if not global power. While many have benefitted economically, the price has been paid by those who wanted more freedom, from ethnic groups in Tibet and Xinjiang to democracy activists in Hong Kong. Read more

President Joe Biden is eyeing at least three judges for an expected vacancy on the Supreme Court. Each of them would fulfill his campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the nation’s highest court. That's according to aides and allies. Biden and Justice Stephen Breyer are expected to hold an event at the White House on Thursday to formally announce Breyer’s plans to retire. Early discussions about a successor are focusing on U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.  Read more

Senate Democrats have played defense for the last three Supreme Court vacancies. Now they plan to move swiftly to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and use the rapid 2020 confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett as a new standard. Barrett was confirmed exactly a month after President Donald Trump nominated her to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Democrats criticized that timeline then, but now that they're in control are eyeing a similarly swift schedule. Top Democrats are making it clear that they'll move quickly once President Joe Biden makes his pick.  Read more

The remains of 20 Native Americans massacred in Northern California in 1860 have been returned to their tribe. Officials announced this week that the skeletal remains and artifacts found in the graves were returned last fall to the Wiyot Tribe that lives in the Eureka area. Dozens of children, women and elderly were slain in what's known as the Indian Island Massacre. The graves of some were discovered in 1953 and the skeletons were taken to the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. A tribal officer says the remains will be reunited with their families.  Read more

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Will the pandemic ever really be “over”? And what would that mean? A new AP-NORC poll shows that few Americans – just 15% – say they’ll consider the pandemic over only when COVID-19 is largely eliminated. By contrast, 83% say they’ll feel like the pandemic is over when it’s largely a mild illness, like the seasonal flu. The AP-NORC poll also shows that for many Americans, strict precautions like avoiding socializing and travel are making a comeback because of the omicron variant. And the poll underscored what authorities say are alarmingly low vaccination rates for children ages 5 to 11. Read more

Multiple sources say Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is planning to retire. When he does he will take with him a razor-sharp intellect and a relentlessly pragmatic approach to the law. That approach has often found Breyer searching for a middle ground or grasping for an outcome he can live with on an increasingly conservative court. Breyer’s votes have been putting him to the left of center on the court. But he frequently sees the gray in situations that colleagues to his right and left prefer to describe as black or white. Breyer is expected to remain on the court until it finishes its work in early summer. Read more

After spending two years in a strict lockdown while COVID-19 spread around the world, North Korea is showing signs that it’s easing its severe border controls to nurse a desperately broken economy. North Korea’s apparent resumption of railroad freight transport with ally China came amid a slew of weapons tests and a veiled threat about resuming tests of nuclear explosives and long-range missiles targeting the American homeland. Experts say the developments could reflect a sense of urgency within Pyongyang’s leadership to win badly needed outside relief after the pandemic unleashed further shock on an economy damaged by decades of mismanagement and crippling U.S.-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missiles. Read more

First it was a paramedic, testifying that the officers who restrained George Floyd didn’t call in critical information as his ambulance rushed to the scene where Floyd would soon be pronounced dead. Then it was an off-duty firefighter, recounting her frustration that Floyd obviously “needed help and wasn’t getting it.” Prosecutors building their case against three fired Minneapolis police officers of violating Floyd's civil rights turned Wednesday to some key witnesses who testified earlier at Derek Chauvin's state murder trial. Prosecutors say the officers did nothing to stop Chauvin or to help Floyd, despite having basic medical training. Testimony resumes Thursday. Read more

Xiomara Castro is scheduled to be sworn in Thursday as Honduras’ first female president, facing high expectations to turn around the deeply troubled country amid uncertainty about whether an unfolding legislative crisis will allow her the support she needs. Relatively smooth elections and a healthy margin of victory Nov. 28 came as a relief. But political maneuvering in the run-up to Castro’s inauguration has muddled the outlook and distracted from what was to be a hopeful new beginning. In the days when Castro was supposed to be rolling out her Cabinet selections, Honduras has been engulfed by a dispute over who will lead the newly elected Congress.  Read more

Oklahoma is preparing to execute a man for the brutal slayings of two hotel workers during a robbery in 2001. Forty-six-year-old Donald Grant is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday morning at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. During a clemency hearing in November, Grant admitted killing Brenda McElyea and Felicia Suzette Smith so that there would be no witnesses to his robbery of the Del City hotel. Court records show both women were shot and stabbed, and Smith was also bludgeoned. Grant expressed “deep, sincere remorse" and apologized for the killings, but the state's Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 against recommending clemency. Read more

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A Colorado-based aviation company has chosen North Carolina as the location for a new plant that will manufacture next-generation supersonic passenger jets. Boom Supersonic announced on Wednesday that Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro will be the home for its first full-scale manufacturing facility. The company says it will create over 1,750 jobs by 2030, with a goal of reaching more than 2,400 jobs by 2032. Local and state boards approved hefty financial incentives for Boom Supersonic just before the announcement. Boom is one of several companies trying to revive supersonic passenger travel. The company says its Overture plane will be rolled out in 2025 and will travel at twice the speed of today’s passenger jets.  Read more

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The Minnesota Vikings have hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as their general manager. The team is taking an innovative turn with an Ivy League-educated data expert from Cleveland’s front office who once worked on Wall Street. The 40-year-old Adofo-Mensah was vice president of football operations for the Browns for the past two years. He was one of two finalists the Vikings identified from an initial pool of eight candidates. The other was Kansas City executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles, who was hired Chicago's general manager. Read more

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“Jeopardy!” champion Amy Schneider’s dazzling streak is over, snapped by a Chicago librarian after 40 consecutive wins and nearly $1.4 million in prize money. Schneider’s success put her in the ranks of Ken Jennings and the quiz show’s other all-time greats. It also made Schneider, a trans woman, a visible symbol of achievement for often-marginalized people. New champ Rhone Talsma had the correct response to the final “Jeopardy!” clue for a winning total of $29,600. Schneider, who found herself in the unusual position of entering the last round short of a runaway, was second with $19,600. Schneider will be back, as part of the quiz show's tournament of champions. Read more

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South Korea's military says North Korea fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea in its sixth round of weapons launches this month. Experts say North Korea’s unusually fast pace in testing activity underscores an intent to pressure the Biden administration over stalled nuclear negotiations. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the weapons, which were likely short-range, were launched from the eastern coast and flew 118 miles on an apogee of 12.4 miles. Some experts say North Korea could dramatically escalate weapons activity after the Olympics in China, the North’s main ally. They say Pyongyang’s leadership likely feels it could use a dramatic provocation to move the needle with the Biden administration, which has been preoccupied with China and Russia.   Read more

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Asian stock markets have tumbled by unusually wide margins after the Federal Reserve indicated it plans to start raising interest rates soon to cool inflation. Market benchmarks in Tokyo and Hong Kong fell by more than 2%. Seoul and Sydney sank nearly 3%. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index lost 0.1% after a Fed statement said the U.S. central bank “expects it will soon be appropriate” to raise rates. Investors expect as many as four rate hikes this year, starting in March. The Fed also said monthly bond purchases that push down long-term rates by injecting money into the financial system would be phased out in March. Read more

A federal appeals court has blocked the state of Alabama from executing an inmate convicted of killing a driver who gave him a ride. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling that 43-year-old Matthew Reeves can’t be put to death unless the state uses an untested, new method. Reeves' lawyers say he prefers that to lethal injection but didn't have the intellectual capacity to make the choice when offered the chance. Reeves' execution was originally set for Thursday. It could still happen since the state says it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Reeves was condemned for killing a man during a robbery in 1996. Read more

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Samsung's operating profit of $11.6 billion for the October-December period was its highest for a fourth quarter since 2017. Read more

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British and Australian navy ships arrived in Tonga and attempted to deliver aid without making contact with anybody ashore to avoid spreading the coronavirus in a nation which has never had an outbreak. The danger of spreading the disease was underscored when nearly two dozen sailors aboard the Australian ship HMAS Adelaide were reported infected on Tuesday, raising fears they could bring the coronavirus to the small Pacific archipelago devastated by an undersea volcanic eruption and a tsunami on Jan. 15. Since the pandemic began, Tonga has reported just a single case of COVID-19. Read more

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The U.S. government has launched a criminal investigation into whether a smuggling ring is behind a boat that capsized off Florida with 40 migrants onboard. The Coast Guard said Wednesday that one survivor and one body have been found and it is continuing to search past nightfall for the other 38 migrants. U.S. Homeland Security Investigations said it suspects a smuggling ring was behind the voyage. The boat capsized Saturday, shortly after it left the Bahamas, but was not found until Tuesday. Officials have not said what country the migrants are believed from, but the Bahamas is often a stopping off point for people fleeing Cuba or Haiti.  Read more

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The Environmental Protection Agency is taking a series of enforcement actions to address air pollution, unsafe drinking water and other problems afflicting minority communities in three Gulf Coast states. The EPA's actions follow a “Journey to Justice” tour by Administrator Michael Regan last fall in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The EPA will conduct unannounced inspections of chemical plants, refineries and other industrial sites suspected of polluting air and water and will install air monitoring equipment in Louisiana’s “chemical corridor” to enhance enforcement at chemical and plastics plants. The EPA also says Jackson, Mississippi's aging and overwhelmed drinking water system violates the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Read more

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The U.S. says it has made no concessions to the main Russian demands over Ukraine and NATO in a long-awaited written response delivered to Russia on Wednesday in Moscow. The response comes as Russia has placed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border and ratcheted up war games in the region. Moscow denies it is planning an assault, but the United States and its NATO allies fear that Russia is planning for war and are also preparing for one. Russia increased its pressure Wednesday by saying it would quickly take “retaliatory measures” if the U.S. and its allies rejected its security demands. Ukrainian officials are seeking to calm nerves.  Read more

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A Boston hospital is defending itself after a man’s family claimed he was denied a new heart for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Brigham and Women’s Hospital declined to comment on D.J. Ferguson’s case but says most transplant programs set similar requirements to improve patients’ chances of survival. Ferguson’s family says hospital officials told the 31-year-old father of two he was ineligible for a heart transplant because he hasn’t been vaccinated against COVID-19. His mother told The Associated Press on Wednesday that her son has had other immunizations in the past but has concerns about possible COVID-19 vaccine side effects. Read more

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Most coronavirus restrictions including mandatory face masks have been lifted in England, after Britain’s government said its vaccine booster rollout successfully reduced serious illness and COVID-19 hospitalizations. From Thursday, face coverings are no longer required by law anywhere in England, and a legal requirement for COVID passes for entry into nightclubs and other large venues has been scrapped. While infections continue to fall, health officials said that omicron remained prevalent across the country, especially among children and the elderly. Some shops and public transport operators say they will continue to ask people to don their face masks. Face coverings will still be required on London’s buses and subway trains. Read more