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Former Russian spy released from British hospital after poisoning

Sergei Skripal, the ex-Russian spy who was poisoned with a nerve agent in the United Kingdom in March, was released from a hospital on Friday, the BBC reported.

>> Read more trending news

Skripal was found slumped on a park bench in Salisbury on March 4 along with his daughter, Yulia Skripal, after being exposed to Novichok, a nerve agent, CNN reported.

>> Daughter of ex-Russian spy released from hospital

Yulia Skripal, 33, was released from the hospital on April 9, the BBC reported.

A police officer was also exposed to Novichok and hospitalized, although officials with Salisbury District Hospital said he was released March 22.

Russian officials have denied playing any role in the attack.

Director of nursing Lorna Wilkinson told the BBC that "This is an important stage in (Sergei Skripal’s) recovery, which will now take place away from the hospital."

In 2006, Skripal, a former colonel, was jailed in Russia for 13 years for revealing the identities of Russian spies in Europe to British intelligence officers. In 2010 he was part of a prisoner swap between Moscow and the United States, the BBC reported.

Meghan Markle to walk alone down aisle, except for short stroll with Prince Charles

In a break with tradition, Meghan Markle will walk unescorted for part of her trip down the aisle when she marries Prince Harry on Saturday, CNN reported Friday.

>> Read more trending news

Markle will enter St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and walk with her bridesmaids until she meets Prince Charles at the Quire, where the royal family sits, CNN reported. The Prince -- Harry’s father -- will walk Markle to the foot of the altar but will not give her away. 

Prince Charles will then stand back as Markle approaches Prince Harry. CNN reported.

Earlier, Kensington Palace wrote in a tweet Friday that Charles would walk Markle down the aisle.

“Ms. Meghan Markle has asked His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to accompany her down the aisle,” the palace wrote in its tweet.

Charles will take the place of Markle’s father, who was unable to attend Saturday’s ceremony.  Thomas Markle originally was supposed to walk his daughter down the aisle, but underwent heart surgery on Wednesday.

>> Meghan Markle’s father has heart surgery

Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, landed in England on Wednesday and met with several members of the royal family. She is scheduled to have tea Friday with Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Daily Mail reported.

Ragland, 61, was introduced to Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on Wednesday, as she was invited for tea at their London home, People reported. Ragland also met Prince William; Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Windsor; and their three children.

Royal wedding: How did Prince Harry and Meghan Markle meet?

American actress Meghan Markle and Britain’s Prince Harry are set to wed Saturday, almost two years after a mutual friend set them up on a blind date in London.

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Prince Harry told BBC News in November that he had never watched the show Markle is best known for, USA’s “Suits,” before he met the California-born actress in July 2016.

“I was beautifully surprised when I walked into that room and saw her and there she was sitting there,” Prince Harry said. “I thought, I am really going to have to up my game here.”

>> Royal Wedding: Everything to know before Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle

Markle told BBC News that, as an American, she knew little about the prince before their first date.

“You know, because I’m from the States, you don’t grow up with the same understanding of the royal family,” Markle said. “While I now understand very clearly there is a global interest there, I didn’t know much about him.”

She told the news network that she had only one question for the friend who set them up.

>> 5 American women who married royalty

“I said, ‘Well, is he nice?’ Because if he wasn’t kind, then it didn’t seem like it would make sense,” she said.

The prince told BBC News he convinced Markle to join him in Botswana a few weeks after their first meeting. For five days, the couple camped out under the stars.

"We were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other," Prince Harry told BBC News.

>> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: A relationship timeline

A whirlwind romance followed.

“The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was sort of confirmation to me that all the stars were aligned, everything was just perfect,” Prince Harry said. “It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life, I fell into her life.”

>> How to watch and stream the royal wedding (plus everything else on TV about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle)

Markle and the prince will marry Saturday in St. George’s Chapel at England’s Windsor Castle. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. EDT.

Royal wedding: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle announce bridal party

Prince George and Princess Charlotte are among the six bridesmaids and four pageboys who will accompany Meghan Markle and Prince Harry as they walk down the aisle Saturday in England, the royal family announced Wednesday.

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Kensington Palace officials named the 10-person bridal party, made up entirely of children, who will attend the royal nuptials at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel.

The bridesmaids include 3-year-old Princess Charlotte, the daughter of Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton. The princess served as a flower girl last year when Kate’s sister, Pippa, got married.

>> Royal wedding: Who will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle?

Two of Prince Harry’s goddaughters were also announced as bridesmaids: 3-year-old Florence van Cutsem and 2-year-old Zalie Warren. Two of Markle’s goddaughters also made the list: 6-year-old Remi Litt and her sister, 7-year-old Rylan Litt, daughters of Benita and Darren Litt. Markle has previously called the girls her “fairy god-daughters,” Vanity Fair reported.

>> Royal Wedding: Everything to know before Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle

Ivy Mulroney, the 4-year-old daughter of Markle’s best friend, Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney, and her husband, Ben, will also accompany the bride down the aisle. The Mulroney’s two sons, 7-year-old twins Brian and John, will serve as pageboys for Saturday’s festivities.

Prince George, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s eldest child, will also be a pageboy Saturday. He held the same role last year during Pippa Middleton’s wedding. Prince Harry’s godson, 6-year-old Jasper Dyer, was also named as a page boy.

>> Meghan Markle won't have a maid of honor at royal wedding

A spokesman for the royal family said earlier this month that Markle decided against having a maid of honor for her big day because she was wary of choosing favorites amongst her close-knit friend group, People reported.

>> Prince Harry asks Prince William to be best man at royal wedding to Meghan Markle

Prince Harry last month asked his brother to serve as his best man, seven years after he served as best man during Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton. Prince William accepted.

Royal wedding: Who will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle?

Spectators are asking who will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle Saturday after reports surfaced that her father, Thomas Markle, plans to skip the royal wedding amid a paparazzi photo scandal and health issues.

>> Read more trending news

Meghan Markle is set to marry Prince Harry on Saturday at St. George’s Chapel at England’s Windsor Castle. Kensington Palace officials previously announced that Thomas Markle would walk his daughter down the aisle, but his role in the wedding appeared to be in jeopardy after he admitted to celebrity news site TMZ that he was caught staging paparazzi photos. He told TMZ on Tuesday that he would not be able to attend the wedding due to scheduled surgery.

>> Meghan Markle's dad to have heart surgery, won't attend royal wedding after all, report says

If Thomas Markle skips the wedding, Meghan will most likely be walked down the aisle by her mother, Doria Ragland, The Telegraph reported, noting “who else could it be?” Kensington Palace officials previously announced that Ragland would accompany her daughter in the bridal car.

Ragland and Meghan Markle have a close relationship, with the younger woman naming her mother as one of the 10 women who changed her life in an article last year for Glamour magazine.

>> Meghan Markle in 'difficult situation,' palace says after report father will skip royal wedding

“My mom's a yoga instructor, but she does social work, as well, and she works specifically with the geriatric community. For me to watch this level of life-long sensitivity to nurturing and caregiving, but at the same time my mom has always been a free spirit,” Meghan Markle wrote. “We can just have so much fun together, and yet, I'll still find so much solace in her support. That duality coexists the same way it would in a best friend.”

>>  Royal Wedding: Everything to know before Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle

Ragland isn’t the only one rumored to be in consideration to take Thomas Markle’s place Saturday. CNN reported that Meghan Markle’s future father-in-law, Prince Charles, and her future brother-in-law, Prince William, were also

in the running. People magazine noted that her future grandfather-in-law, Prince Philip, could also fill the role.

>> Who are Meghan Markle’s family members, Prince Harry’s future in-laws?

Thomas Markle told TMZ on Monday that he recently suffered a heart attack but that checked himself out of a hospital to attend the royal wedding. He said that after reports surfaced about his posing for paparazzi photos, he changed his mind about attending to keep from embarrassing either his daughter or the royal family. TMZ reported that text messages from his daughter prompted another change of heart.

"I hate the idea of missing one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle," Thomas Markle told TMZ. "Of course I'd walk her down the aisle. This is a historic moment. I'd like to be a part of history."

>> Royal wedding: What is a fascinator and where can I get one?

He was hospitalized again Tuesday after suffering from severe chest pain and scheduled to undergo heart surgery Wednesday, according to TMZ.

Officials have not confirmed that Thomas Markle will not be St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. In a statement released Monday, Kensington Palace officials asked for privacy for the Markle family. 

Meghan Markle in 'difficult situation,' palace says after report father will skip royal wedding

Following reports that Thomas Markle won’t attend daughter Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday, royal reps have issued a statement.

>> Royal Wedding: Everything to know before Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle

While not outright confirming the reports, it asked for “understanding,” especially for the American bride-to-be and her father.

>> On AJC.com: TMZ: Meghan Markle’s dad won’t be at the royal wedding on Saturday

“This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding,” a Kensington Palace spokesman said Monday. “She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation.”

>> See the statement here

>> How to watch and stream the royal wedding (plus everything else on TV about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle)

The statement comes on the heels of a TMZ report earlier Monday that Thomas Markle would skip the wedding due to his involvement in posing for photos that were sold for large sums of money. Markle, 73, told TMZ that he’d “meant no harm to Meghan or the royal family.”

>> Read more trending news 

Read more here.

Paris knife attack: Chechnya president identifies assailant, friend of suspect detained

Update 3:15 p.m EDT Sunday: A jihadist monitoring group says a video released by the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency appears to show the suspected Paris knife attacker pledging allegiance to the group’s leader, according to The Associated Press. The person in the video has their nose and mouth covered. It is not clear if the 2-and-a-half minute video is in fact the attacker.

Earlier, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov identified the alleged attacker as Khazmat Azimov. Azimov was born in the Russian republic of Chechnya, but was a French citizen.

“I consider it necessary to state that all responsibility for the fact that Khazmat Azimov went on the road of crime lies completely with the authorities of France,” Kadyrov said. “He was only born in Chechnya, and his growing up, the formation of his personality, his views and persuasions occurred in French society.”

The suspect killed one person and injured four others. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the four injured people are out of life-threatening danger, The AP reported.

According to a French judicial official not authorized to speak publicly about the incident told The AP the suspect was on a police watchlist for radicalism.

Update 10:45 a.m. EDT Sunday: The Associated Press reported that the parents of the suspected attacker who killed one person and injured four others are still being questioned, according to a French judicial official. A friend of the assailant has also been taken in for questioning.

The alleged 20 year old attacker was identified by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov as as Khasan Azimov, according to The AP.

Kadyrov said he had been informed the attacker had French citizenship and had a Russian passport until he was 14. 

Interior Ministry spokesman Frederic de Lanouvelle told The Associated Press the alleged attacker had no history of criminal activity or arrests and did not know the victims.

Update 2:49 a.m. EDT Sunday: The attacker who killed a 29-year-old man and hurt four others Saturday in Paris was born in Chechnya but “had French nationality,” The Associated Press reported early Sunday, citing an unnamed judicial official.

The official said the suspect, who was killed by police who responded to the knife attack, was born in 1997, according to the AP.

His parents have been detained for questioning, the official said.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

ORIGINAL STORY: Police responded Saturday evening to reports of a man stabbing people near the Paris Opera.

One person was killed and four others injured in the melee, French authorities said. The suspect targeted the five people, killing one, seriously injuring two and leaving the other two with minor injuries. 

The attacker, who has not been identified, died, officials said. The reason for the attack is still unknown. 

The Islamic State group’s news agency said the suspect was a “soldier” and has taken claim for the attack. 

“France is once again paying the price of blood, but will not cede an inch to enemies of freedom,” President Emmanuel Macron said in response to the terror group’s claim.

The area has been contained and the situation is under control, according to Paris police.

Eyewitnesses shared their account of the incident on social media.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Man donates blood weekly for 60 years, saves lives of 2.4 million babies

An Australian man who has spent most of his life donating blood is retiring.

James Harrison has donated blood nearly every week for 60 years. He’s made 1,100 donations, saving the lives of more than 2.4 million Australian babies, according to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

Known as the “man with the golden arm,” the 81-year-old’s blood is special. It has disease-fighting antibodies that have been used to develop the Anti-D injection, which helps combat Rhesus D Haemolytic Disease, or HDN.

>> Read more trending news 

The illness occurs when a pregnant woman’s blood begins attacking her unborn baby’s blood cells, causing brain damage or death for the baby.

It develops when the mom has rhesus-negative blood and the infant has rhesus-positive blood, inherited from the father. The different antigens cause the mother’s body to harm the baby. 

Although doctors are unsure why Harrison’s blood contains the rare antibody that fights the disease, they believe it’s likely due to a major chest surgery he had that required a blood transfusion when he was 14. 

Harrison became a blood donor after he recovered from the surgery. Once doctors discovered his blood was one-of-a-kind, he began offering blood plasma donations to help more people. 

Now, it’s time for him to retire. Australia doesn’t allow citizens to donate blood past age 81. 

“I hope it’s a record that somebody breaks, because it will mean they are dedicated to the cause,” Harrison said of his feat. He has received numerous awards for his generosity.

Harrison will continue to help health experts by donating his DNA samples for future research.

“Australia owes a big thank you to James Harrison, Australia became the first country in the world to be self-sufficient in the supply of Anti-D, and cases of HDN are rare,” Australian Red Cross Blood Service spokesperson Jemma Falkenmire said. “We encourage the partners and friends of all new mothers to think about donating blood, just one donation helps ensure someone has the chance to be a mother.”

Royal Wedding: Everything to know before Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle

On May 19, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry in Windsor, England, in a ceremony that will be low-key only by royal standards.

>> Read more trending news

For the millions of commoners expected to watch on TV, some aspects of the nuptials may seem as odd or over-the-top as the more highbrowed guests’ headgear.

Other aspects will be as swoon-inducing as tiny titled tots in wedding finery:

This guide covers everything anyone’s ever wanted to know about the big event. Plus a few things we’d all probably like to unknow (Two words: wedding fruitcake).  

The happy couple:

Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales (aka “Harry”), 33, is the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and the younger son of Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales. He’s fifth in line to the throne (Charles is first), but will slip down another rung any day now when his sister-in-law Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, gives birth to her third child. 

>> Meghan Markle: 7 things to know

Rachel Meghan Markle of California (aka “Meghan”), 36, is the only child of Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland, who are divorced. She co-starred for seven seasons on “Suits” on USA Network, but says she’s retired from acting (one day after the royal engagement announcement on Nov. 27, USA made it official Markle wouldn’t be back for season eight.) Her last appearance, in the two-hour season finale, aired April 25.

The “I Do” date and time: The ceremony begins at noon local time on May 19. That’s 7 a.m. EST in the U.S. After the ceremony, the newlyweds will take a carriage ride through the town of Windsor, then head back to Windsor Castle.

The venue: St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. A royal residence some 20 miles west of London, Windsor Castle is where Queen Elizabeth spends most weekends. It’s the largest inhabited castle in the world.

The chapel, which was built in the 14th century, is where some other royals have wed. In 2005, Harry’s dad and stepmom, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were married in a civil service in the town of Windsor, then had a prayer service at St. George’s Chapel. It seats 800 people.

>> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engaged: What to know

Many royals are buried in the chapel as well. Most infamously, perhaps, King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, his third of six wives, lie there for eternity.

Will it be on TV?: Two things are beyond certain about this wedding: The queen and her colorful hat will have the best seat in the house. And it will be televised and live-streamed. England is the royal family, in the eyes of much of the world. And nothing brings in tourists and other business like TV coverage of a fancy wedding ,complete with gold carriages and royal trumpeters. When Harry’s brother, Prince William, married Kate Middleton in 2011, it was shown live on TV in over 180 countries and streamed online (YouTube alone had 72 million livestream views). All the major TV networks will have five hours of live coverage or more on the big day, and you can even book a seat in three metro Atlanta movie theaters to watch a commercial-free replay just a few hours later. Read a complete viewing guide here, including the lineup of related specials, movies and documentaries airing all wedding week.

>> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle seek charity donations over wedding gifts

The reception: All guests invited to the actual ceremony will attend a luncheon afterward hosted by the queen at St. George’s Hall. The traditional wedding cake for royal weddings is fruitcake.

But Harry and Meghan are said to be going rogue and having a “lemon elderflower cake” with buttercream icing. Next up: A reception that night for an even more select guest list of 200 people that Prince Charles is throwing at Frogmore House, another royal residence about a half-mile from Windsor Castle. 

The wedding party: The Brits do this differently, generally favoring little kids as “bridesmaids”/flower girls and page boys instead of adult attendants. In past royal weddings this has led to such memorable incidents as a wee Prince William playing with his straw boater hat and chattering away during the 1986 nuptials of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. Right now, William’s own kids, Prince George and Princess Charlotte are considered locks for Uncle Harry’s wedding party; so is the 4-year-old daughter of Markle’s Canadian stylist and close friend, Jessica Mulroney. Meanwhile, you can bet on everything in the U.K.when it comes to this wedding and William is getting top odds to be his brother’s best man (oddsmaker William Hill also is taking bets on how William will wear his hair on the big day).

On April 26, Kensington Palace sent out a tweet making it official that William will be Harry’s best man.

Who’s invited: Six hundred invitations to the ceremony have gone out (the chapel seats about 800). Count on all the immediate royal relations (The Queen and Prince Philip, Uncle Prince Andrew and his fun loving daughters Beatrice and Eugenie), plus various dukes and duchesses and major and minor European royalty.

Then there are some celebrity friends of the bride -- tennis star Serena Williams) and groom -- singers James Blunt and, if you believe the tabloids, Rihanna -- who should make the cut. Also, the Spice Girls may or may not be there. Mel B, aka Scary Spice, has said they will be, but when asked about it by “Late Late Show” host James Corden, Posh Spice Victoria Beckham  stammered, “I don’t know.”

Additionally, 2,640 members of the public have been invited inside the grounds of Windsor Castle to watch the arrival and departure of the wedding party and guests. Included are 100 schoolchildren, 600-plus people who live and work around Windsor Castle, plus others from charities, nonprofits and other causes important to the couple.

Who’s not invited: Besides you and me? President Donald Trump. And he’s in good company. British Prime Minister Theresa May isn’t invited either. In fact,  no U.S. or world political leaders have been invited, according to Kensington Palace (home base and official representative of Harry and William). “It has been decided that an official list of political leaders — both UK and international — is not required for Prince Harry and Ms. Markle’s wedding,” the palace explained in that lovely, do forgive us sort of British way. Royal officials won’t say if good FOH (Friends of Harry) Barack and Michelle Obama, were invited, but it’s known they’re not going.

>> See Prince Harry, Meghan Markle’s official wedding invitation

What about Fergie? That would be Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and friend of Harry’s late mother, Diana. The fun-loving redhead fell out of favor with the royal family after her 1996 divorce from Prince Andrew. In a very public dis, she was left off the guest list for William and Kate’s 2011 wedding.

British tabloid the Sun quoted an unnamed source who said she won’t be there because Harry supposedly couldn’t trust her to “keep her mouth shut and respect their privacy.” People reported Harry had “pushed for” Fergie to be invited because he’s very close to her daughters, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

What about Meghan’s family? Though long divorced, Markle’s parents released a joint statement of joy over her engagement and it’s said both will be at the wedding. In fact, Thomas Markle, an Emmy-winning lighting director, is expected to give his daughter away.

>> Who are Meghan Markle’s family members, Prince Harry’s future in-laws?

After that, things get a bit sticky. Proving that the royals don’t have a monopoly on family issues, Meghan’s two older half siblings from her dad’s first marriage reportedly aren’t invited -- and at least one of them isn’t happy about it. Her half sister, Samantha Grant, has reportedly claimed Meghan is “inviting 2000 complete strangers” to the wedding rather than family and even blasted Harry about it with a “Time to man up!” tweet. Grant’s reportedly writing a book about Markle. Trevor Engelson, an American movie and TV producer and Markle’s ex-husband, is said by some British newspapers to be developing a show about an American divorcee who moves to England to marry a prince.

Meghan’s wedding dress: Despite her convention-flouting penchant for wearing pants at some royal engagements, it’s expected that Markle will wear a dress. The design is top-secret, but the designers mentioned most often as front-runners to create it are Erdem Moralioglu, Ralph & Russo and Alexander McQueen. All three are London-based and McQueen designed Kate Middleton’s royal wedding gown. With it being the U.K., spectators can bet on the dress. However, sometimes British bookmakers have periodically suspended betting as a lot of money pours in on one particular designer.

Harry’s duds: Most likely a uniform -- he’s got tons of them.  Harry served in the British Army for 10 years, doing two tours in Afghanistan and rising to the rank of captain. In 2014, he launched Invictus Games, an annual Paralympic-style sporting event for injured servicemen and women. In December, he was appointed Captain General Royal Marines, taking over the important ceremonial role after 64 years from his grandfather, Prince Phillip.

What everyone else will wear: For men, the invitation specifies “dress uniform, morning coat or lounge suit.” For the ladies, it’s “day dress with hat.” Many women will sport fascinators, lightweight headpieces decorated with feathers, flowers and beads, among other items. They are worn for formal occasions. 

Royal Wedding souvenirs : Shops in London already have royal wedding mugs, tea towels, decorative objects and the like for sale.

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