The tail end of a punishing winter storm system lashed California with thunderstorms, hail and severe winds today after breaking rainfall records, washing out roads and whipping up enormous waves. At least four people died, three were missing and several others were rescued from raging floodwaters during three storms in four days.

A Maine native walking barefoot across the US to raise awareness about climate change has been struck and killed on a Florida highway. Police say 33-year-old Mark Baumer was walking along the shoulder of US Highway 90 in Walton County yesterday when a driver lost control and hit him. Baumer was pronounced dead at the scene.

A woman is being charged with sneaking onto US President Donald Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club shortly before his inauguration and smearing bananas on cars. Palm Beach, Florida, police say that 48-year-old Kelly Weidman also typed a profanity about Trump on a Mar-a-Lago computer and moved outside some ballroom balloons a few hours before Trump was sworn-in on Saturday. She was confronted by security guards, who called police. She was charged with trespassing and released.

Iraq's Prime Minister ordered an investigation into violations of human rights and other abuses purportedly committed by government troops and paramilitary forces battling Isis (Islamic State) to retake the city of Mosul. Haider al-Abadi said the probe will examine "cases of kidnappings, mistreatment and violations" against civilians. Al-Abadi blamed such incidents on "groups that exploit the good name" of Iraqi soldiers and Shia and Sunni paramilitaries.


Michelle O'Neill has been named as the new leader of the Sinn Fein party in Northern Ireland. The party said she will replace Martin McGuinness, who resigned in early January due to ill health. O'Neill has been serving as health minister for Sinn Fein. The 40-year-old from County Tyrone called her new post "a huge honour." She will be the first Sinn Fein leader from the generation that entered politics after the Irish Republican Army halted its armed struggle against British rule in Northern Ireland.

A US Navy sailor has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for trying to hire a hit man to kill his estranged wife. WAVY-TV reported that Chadwick Ghesquiere got three years less than what prosecutors had sought. He pleaded guilty in October. Court documents say federal agents learned of the alleged plot from one of Ghesquiere's friends.

Former US President George Bush snr is still suffering from pneumonia, but is well enough to leave the intensive care unit at a Houston hospital, doctors said. His wife, Barbara, has been discharged from the same facility after completing treatment for bronchitis.

In a city hit by chronic pollution and traffic problems, Paris officials are experimenting with a self-driving shuttle linking two train stations in the French capital. Two electric-power EZ10 minibuses, which can carry up to six seated passengers, were put into service and will be tested until early April between the Lyon and Austerlitz stations in Paris. The GPS-guided vehicle is free and will be running seven days a week.

Amnesty International says Egypt must launch an independent and thorough investigation into the recent killing of 10 men by security forces in the Sinai Peninsula. The Government announced this month that the 10 had been killed in a shootout in the northern Sinai city of al-Arish. But today, the London-based advocacy group repeated what the families of the slain men already claim - that at least six of them had already been in police custody for weeks before their deaths.Authorities deny the charge.

A lawyer for Panama's jailed ex-dictator Manuel Noriega says a court has granted him house arrest so he can prepare for brain surgery. Lawyer Ezra Angel announced the ruling today. The 82-year-old former strongman needs to have a benign brain tumour surgically removed.

- agencies