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Dept. of State issues 'Europe Travel Alert' due to heightened risk of terrorist attacks

As the holiday season approaches, many families are preparing to take advantage of school breaks, federal holidays and remaining paid time off by traveling out of state to see family and friends and desirable international destinations.

But according to the U.S. Department of State, prospective travelers might want to reconsider any plans to journey across the pond.

>> Related: 17 states granted extension for REAL ID compliance; Driver's license OK for domestic travel 

In a travel advisory issued Thursday, government officials warned citizens of a heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season. The advisory urged American travelers who go abroad to be cautious at holiday festivals and events. 

Officials cited two terrorist attacks that occurred in Europe last year -- one in which a man drove a truck into a German Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring dozens more, and another in which a gunman shot and killed 39 people during a New Year’s celebration in Istanbul, Turkey.

>> Read more trending news 

“Extremists continue to focus on tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls and local government facilities as viable targets. In addition, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events, educational institutions, airports and other soft targets remain priority locations for possible attacks,” the advisory reads. “U.S. citizens should exercise additional vigilance in these and similar locations.”

The advisory is in effect until Jan. 31.

Americans traveling abroad can always check the website of the U.S. Embassy or consulate in a destination city for any recent security messages.

>> Related: Paris plans to ban all gas cars by 2030

Professor: Team has performed first successful human head transplant using cadavers

It sounds like something out of a horrible B movie, but a professor in Italy says a team has successfully transplanted a human head in China. It was done on corpses to see if surgeons could reconnect the spine, nerves and blood vessels. 

“The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done,” Sergio Canavero, the director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, said. “A full head swap between brain dead organ donors is the next stage,” the Telegraph reported.

He added that it would be the last step before a full head transplant happens some time before the end of the year, USA Today reported.

A firm date for the living patient surgery has not been released.

Canavero said the procedure happened in China because “the Americans did not understand” and wouldn’t fund the experiments, USA Today reported.

Experts in the medical community said that a procedure like this would not be allowed in either the United States or Europe.

While it’s being called a head transplant, it’s technically a body transplant, where the recipient with a functioning brain will have his head transplanted to a donor’s body who has been declared brain dead, USA Today reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Doctors will fuse the spinal cord and attach blood vessels and muscles then the patient will be kept in a coma for a month as the person heals, Newsweek reported. If it is successful, the patient could walk again, Canavero claims.

Many in the medical community said that not only is it doubtful the procedure will be successful, there also are ethical questions, saying that whoever undergoes the procedure will be in incredible pain, and not able to breathe or control their own heart rate, Newsweek reported.

Canavero cites studies on animals to support his plan, but other doctors say that, ‘You’re not going to jump from rodent to human” and that Canavero’s plan is “criminal,” Newsweek reported.

Tesla touts new Roadster as world's 'quickest car'

Tesla unveiled what it called “the quickest car in the world” late Thursday,

And the new Roadster is fast. Very fast.

>> Read more trending news

On its website, Tesla said that its Roadster production car, the newest version of its original sports vehicle, can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds.

Tesla also said that the Roadster, which will be available in 2020, can go from 0 to 100 mph in 4.2 seconds and can cover a quarter-mile in 8.9 seconds. The four-seater can hit speeds up to 250 mph. Tesla said.

“It will be the first time that any production car has broken nine seconds in the quarter mile,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk told CNBC.

The “all-electric supercar” also has a 200-kilowatt battery pack that offers 620 miles of highway driving.

Suggested retail price is $200,000, Tesla said.

Report: 3 UCLA basketball players to return to US after Chinese officials drop charges

The three UCLA basketball players previously detained by Chinese police on shoplifting allegations were being allowed to return to the United States on Tuesday, according to a report by The Washington Post.

>> Read more trending news

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were questioned and arrested by police after being accused of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to their hotel in Hangzhou, China. The three players were released on bond Wednesday and did not play in Friday’s game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai, China.

>> Related: LiAngelo Ball, UCLA teammates arrested in China could get 10 years in prison if convicted

The report of the players’ release comes hours after President Donald Trump said he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the players’ case.

“They’re working on it right now... Hopefully everything is going to work out,” Trump told reporters on his tour of Asia, according to the Washington Post.

China Sports Insider reported Tuesday the charges of shoplifting were officially dropped for all three players.

Photos: Powerful Iran-Iraq earthquake kills hundreds

The magnitude 7.3 quake was centered 19 miles outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Photos: Powerful Iran-Iraq earthquake kills hundreds

The magnitude 7.3 quake was centered 19 miles outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

North Korea: Trump ‘begged for war’

North Korea intensified its rhetoric on Saturday, suggesting that President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia showed he was a “destroyer” as he “begged for war” on the Korean peninsula, Reuters reported.

>> Read more trending news

“Trump, during his visit, laid bare his true nature as destroyer of world peace and stability and begged for a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula,” the foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the state news agency.

Trump warned North Korea on Wednesday not to underestimate the United States as he wrapped up his visit to South Korea.

Trump says he believes Putin’s denials over election meddling

President Donald Trump said he is done confronting Vladimir Putin over accusations that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election and said he  took the Russian leader at his word when he said that his country did not seek to interfere,  CNN reported.

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"He said he didn't meddle. He said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Da Nang to Hanoi in Vietnam. "Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it."

The two leaders chatted Saturday as they walked together during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Reuters reported.

Although White House officials said no formal meeting between the two leaders was planned, the two men shook hands at a dinner Friday evening and again at the start of Saturday’s main APEC meeting.

Television cameras caught the two leaders talking as they headed toward the area designated for a group photograph, Reuters reported.

Putin said he had a normal dialogue with Trump and described  the President as civil, well-educated, and comfortable to deal with.

Trump is in Vietnam on the fourth leg of a 12-day tour of Asia.

‘America first,’ Trump tells leaders at Pacific Rim economic summit

Vowing not to let the United States “be taken advantage of anymore,” President Donald Trump issued a stern warning at an economic summit of Pacific Rim leaders on Friday, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

“I am always going to put America first, the same way I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first,” Trump said in a speech at the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Trump repeated his criticism of previous U.S. administrations, saying they ignored imbalances in trading practices.

“The current trade imbalance is not acceptable,” Trump said. “I do not blame China, or any other country, of which there are many, for taking advantage of the United States on trade. If their representatives are able to get away with it, they are just doing their jobs."

"I wish previous administrations in my country saw what was happening and did something about it," Trump said.

LiAngelo Ball, UCLA teammates arrested in China could get 10 years in prison if convicted

Shoplifting is a relatively minor infraction in the United States, but not so in China. It could lead to a long prison sentence, according to multiple outlets — and that could be bad news for the three UCLA men’s basketball players reportedly accused of committing the crime Tuesday in Shanghai.

Bruins freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley could be sentenced to three to 10 years if convicted of “robbing public or private property using force, coercion or other methods,” according to Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel, citing the website for the Chinese mission to the United Nations.

The trio were detained Tuesday after allegedly shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to the hotel where UCLA is staying ahead of its season opener Friday against Georgia Tech. The most notable of the players is Ball, the younger brother of former UCLA star (and current Los Angeles Lakers rookie) Lonzo Ball and son of LaVar Ball.

>> Read more trending news 

LaVar Ball, who had planned a press conference but canceled it on the advice of his legal counsel, released the following statement:

"It is a very unfortunate situation that the Ball Family, and UCLA has to deal with at this particular time. We will comment shortly," he said, per ESPN's Arash Markazi.

William Nee, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Amnesty International, told Wetzel that those detained for crimes in China could “be detained for more than a month without American-style bail before local prosecutors even decide whether to press charges.” Nee added that the United States consulate could intervene to try and negotiate a quicker resolution to the case.

Nee added that the charges could also be greatly reduced and thus warrant a much more lenient sentence.

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