Published: 06:48 GMT, 24 December 2019 | Updated: 18:49 GMT, 24 December 2019
- The parents of two missing Idaho children have released a statement calling themselves 'loving' and 'devoted' people as they are named 'persons of interest' in the case.
- A multi-state police search is underway for seven-year-old Joshua 'JJ' Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, who were last seen in Rexburg, Idaho, in September.
- The children were never reported missing by their mother Lori Daybell or her new husband Chad Daybell, whom she married just weeks after his first wife was found dead under mysterious circumstances.
The couple themselves, who have been named persons of interests in the children's disappearance, vanished the day after police conducted a wellness check on the children on November 26, after family members said they hadn't seen them in months. They have been accused of being part of a religious cult.
Police say Lori and Chad repeatedly lied about the location of her children before going off the grid.
On Monday, the couple's attorney, Sean Bartholick, issued a statement on their behalf, according to East Idaho News.
'Chad Daybell is a loving husband and has the support of his children in this matter. Lori Daybell is a devoted mother and resents assertions to the contrary,' the statement reads.
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Lori (right) and Chad Daybell (left), the parents of two missing Idaho children, Joshua Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17, have released a statement calling themselves 'loving' and 'devoted' people
A multi-state police search is underway for seven-year-old Joshua 'JJ' Vallow (left) and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan (right), who were last seen in Rexburg, Idaho, in September
- 'We look forward to addressing the allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor,' the couple added in the statement.
- No charges have been filed against Chad or Lori in Idaho or Arizona.
- Police said they are interested in speaking with the couple to ensure the children are safe.
- Investigators believe the children are in serious danger, and also suspect the disappearance may be linked to the October 19 death of Chad's previous wife, Tammy Daybell, at her home in Rexburg.
Two of Lori's ex-partners have also died in the past two years. Her ex-husband Joseph Anthony Ryan, Tylee's father, died of a heart attack in 2018.
- In July, her husband Charles Vallow, 63, of Texas, was fatally shot by her brother, Alex Cox, in Chandler, Arizona.
- Cox himself was killed on December 12, the day after investigators exhumed Tammy's body to conduct an autopsy.
- Now Brandon Boudreaux, who married into Lori's family in 2008, has expressed suspicion that the four deaths and the children's disappearances may be linked to her new religious beliefs.
- 'I spent the last 11 years of my life spending time with Lori and her now-deceased husband Charles,' Boudreaux told Fox13.
Investigators believe the children are in serious danger, and also suspect the disappearance may be linked to the October 19 death of Chad's (left) previous wife, Tammy Daybell (right), at her home in Rexburg
Lori Vallow (right) is pictured here with her previous husband, Charles Vallow (left), who was fatally shot 'in self defense' by Lori's brother in July 2019
Brandon Boudreaux (pictured), who married into Lori Vallow's family in 2008, has said he doesn't think it's a coincidence that two of her previous husbands, her new husband's ex-wife and her brother have all died since she allegedly joined a dangerous religious cult
'I don't know what happened to those kids, but I know there's people who do, and they’re not talking… I love them both. I hope they're safe. They're both just innocent and they didn't deserve to be involved in any of this.'
- Boudreaux said his wife Melani, Lori's niece, followed her aunt in joining a 'cult' with Chad, a self-proclaimed Latter-day Saint author who has written books detailing the end of the world, around 18 months ago.
- 'You can't be a member of the church and believe those things,' Boudreaux said of the cult.
- 'I think it's an infatuation with the end of the world and an infatuation with power, and they're using it to try to make money off of people's beliefs.
'It just makes you sad. A lot of people I care about aren't here anymore because of these ideas.'
Boudreaux said he does not think it is a coincidence that so many people close to Lori and Chad have died within such a short amount of time.
His suspicion is driven by the fact that he believes his now ex-wife Melani used her family's newfound religious beliefs to justify killing him.
Boudreaux said his wife Melani, Lori's niece, followed her aunt in joining a 'cult' with Chad, a self-proclaimed Latter-day Saint author who has written books detailing the end of the world, around 18 months ago. Boudreaux and Melani are pictured at their wedding in 2008
Boudreaux accused Melani of trying to kill him 'a couple months ago'. He said she was using her family's newfound religious beliefs to justify taking his life
'A couple months ago there was an attempt on my life, so I went into hiding with my kids,' Boudreaux said, referencing his four young children with Melani.
Bianca Andreescu named The Canadian Press female athlete of the year
Bianca Andreescu started the season as an up-and-coming teenager eager to make her mark on the WTA Tour. She finished the campaign as one of its top stars.
A murderer's row of tennis talent — Kerber, Venus, Wozniacki, Svitolina, Pliskova, and of course, Serena — all fell to the upstart Canadian who shone in the key moments and on some of the sport's biggest stages.
Andreescu capped her unforgettable season Thursday by winning the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as The Canadian Press female athlete of the year.
«When I step on the court, I know it's very easy to say, but I try not to focus on who's on the other side,» Andreescu, a 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., said. «I think that's helped me achieve what I've achieved.»
Andreescu's list of accomplishments over the last 12 months is a long one. She kept one-upping herself throughout the year.
One breakthrough came at Indian Wells last March. A Rogers Cup singles title — the first by a Canadian in 50 years — came in August in Toronto, a few weeks ahead of Andreescu's history-making turn at the U.S. Open.
In a generational Canadian sports moment on par with Mike Weir's Masters victory and Sidney Crosby's golden goal, Andreescu beat Serena Williams to become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title.
«Bianca Andreescu is the only choice for Canada's female athlete of the year,» said Globe and Mail sports editor Shawna Richer. «Hands down the most dominant performance of any athlete, male or female. This year, a star was born.»
Andreescu nearly swept the year-end poll of broadcasters and editors from across the country.
She picked up 66 of 68 votes (97 per cent) overall, with short-track speedskater Kim Boutin and middle-distance runner Gabriela DeBues-Stafford taking one vote apiece.
Golfer Brooke Henderson won the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award the last two years. The last tennis player to take the honour was Eugenie Bouchard, who won in 2013 and 2014.
The winner of the Lionel Conacher Award as Canada's male athlete of the year will be named Friday and the team of the year will be named Saturday.
Andreescu rocketed up the rankings on her way to becoming a top-five player. She started the year at No. 152.
With a punishing, grinding style that keeps opponents on their heels, Andreescu has a variety of weapons that can be tough to match. She has the power game to hang with the big hitters and uses different spins and drops to her advantage.
«I think now I'm at a stage where I can choose the right shot at the right time,» she said. «That's one challenge I think that I've faced this year is to choose the right tool in my toolbox at a certain time. But I think that's improving and I think I can continue to storm the WTA Tour.»
Andreescu had to battle her way through qualification draws a year ago. Main draw appearances and eventual seedings in bigger tournaments soon followed.
Her performance at the ASB Classic in Auckland last January got people's attention. She beat former world No. 1s Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki before losing in the final.
Andreescu won a lower-level WTA 125K Series event in Newport Beach, Calif., later that month before breaking out at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.
American engineer and technology entrepreneur
Elon MuskFRSMusk at the Royal Society admissions day in London, July 2018BornElon Reeve Musk (1971-06-28) June 28, 1971 (age 48)Pretoria, Transvaal, South AfricaCitizenship
- South Africa (1971–present)
- Canada (1989–present)
- United States (2002–present)
- Queen's University
- Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (BS-Economics)
- University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences (BA-Physics)
Years active1995–presentNet worthUS$26.8 billion (December 2019)Title
- Founder, CEO, Lead Designer of SpaceX
- CEO, Product Architect of Tesla, Inc.
- Co-founder of Neuralink
- Founder of The Boring Company
- Co-founder of Zip2
- Founder of X.com (now PayPal)
- Co-founder of OpenAI
- Chairman of SolarCity
- Justine Wilson(m. 2000; div. 2008)
- Talulah Riley(m. 2010; div. 2012) (m. 2013; div. 2016)
- Errol Musk (father)
- Maye Musk (mother)
- Kimbal Musk (brother)
- Tosca Musk (sister)
- Lyndon Rive (cousin)
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society (2018)Signature
Elon Reeve Musk FRS (/ˈiːlɒn/; born June 28, 1971) is an engineer and technology entrepreneur. He holds South African, Canadian, and U.S. citizenship and is the founder, CEO, and chief engineer/designer of SpaceX; CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; co-founder of Neuralink; founder of The Boring Company; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2018. In December 2016, he was ranked 21st on the Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People, and was ranked (co-)first on the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019. He has a net worth of $23.6 billion and is listed by Forbes as the 40th-richest person in the world. He is the longest tenured CEO of any automotive manufacturer globally.
Born and raised in Pretoria, South Africa, Musk moved to Canada when he was 17 to attend Queen's University.
He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania two years later, where he received a Bachelor's degree in economics from the Wharton School and a Bachelor's degree in physics from the College of Arts and Sciences. He began a Ph.D.
in applied physics and material sciences at Stanford University in 1995 but dropped out after two days to pursue an entrepreneurial career. He subsequently co-founded Zip2 with his brother Kimbal, a web software company, which was acquired by Compaq for $340 million in 1999.
Musk then founded X.com, an online bank. It merged with Confinity in 2000, which had launched PayPal the previous year and was bought by eBay for $1.5 billion in October 2002.
In May 2002, Musk founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company, of which he is CEO and lead designer. He joined Tesla, Inc., an electric vehicle manufacturer, in 2004, the year after it was founded, and became its CEO and product architect. In 2006, he inspired the creation of SolarCity, a solar energy services company (now a subsidiary of Tesla).
In 2015, Musk co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit research company that aims to promote friendly artificial intelligence. In July 2016, he co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain–computer interfaces. In December 2016, Musk founded The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel-construction company focused on tunnels specialized for electric vehicles.
In addition to his primary business pursuits, Musk has envisioned a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop, and has proposed a vertical take-off and landing supersonic jet electric aircraft with electric fan propulsion, known as the Musk electric jet.
 Musk has said the goals of SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity.
 His goals include reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the risk of human extinction by establishing a human colony on Mars.
Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa, the son of Maye Musk (née Haldeman), a model and dietitian from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, and Errol Musk, a South African electromechanical engineer, pilot, and sailor.
He has a younger brother, Kimbal (born 1972), and a younger sister, Tosca (born 1974). His maternal grandfather, Dr. Joshua Haldeman, was an American-born Canadian. His paternal grandmother was British, and he also has Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry.
 After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk lived mostly with his father in the suburbs of Pretoria, a choice made by Musk two years after his parents separated but which he subsequently regretted.
 Musk is estranged from his father who he has referred to as «a terrible human being». He has a half-sister and a half-brother.
During his childhood, Musk was an avid reader. At the age of 10, he developed an interest in computing with the Commodore VIC-20.
 He taught himself computer programming and, by the age of 12, sold the code of a BASIC-based video game he created called Blastar to PC and Office Technology magazine for approximately $500.
 A web version of the game is available online.
His childhood reading included Isaac Asimov's Foundation
Ditching INF, Pressuring Allies, and Talking With Foes: Top 10 Events in US Foreign Policy in 2019
Despite facing numerous problems on the domestic front, ranging from mass shooting sprees to seemingly innumerable investigations, including impeachment, the Donald Trump administration managed to conduct an active foreign policy in 2019, the influence of which on the world is hard to underestimate. Sputnik has gathered the 10 most important events and trends that determined the US' impact on the global arena this year.
Withdrawal From INF Treaty and Its Consequences
One of the biggest events in 2019, which delivered a heavy blow to the global security architecture, was US President Donald Trump's decision to pull his country out from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, a move that was announced on 2 February.
The accord, which was signed by the US and USSR at the end of the Cold War in 1987, prohibited the two states from owning or developing ground-based missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres, and was largely considered to be one of the pillars of global stability and security.
Washington announced its withdrawal from the INF under the pretext of alleged violations by Moscow, although Russia had been adhering to the treaty despite having similar questions about US compliance – without receiving any answers for many years.
© Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich
Russia INF Treaty
The US was officially no longer bound by the accord’s provisions on 2 August, and less than a month later, the Pentagon tested a new missile operating at previously banned ranges. This led Moscow to the conclusion that the withdrawal had been planned in advance and that the US had used made up accusations against Russia not being in compliance simply to find an excuse to do so.
Now, unconstrained by the accord and actively developing new weapons, Washington will be able to deploy ground launchers armed with missiles with operational ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometres in Europe and Asia, near Russian and Chinese borders.
Moscow has repeatedly cautioned that such deployments could destabilise the regions and foster tensions between the states, proposing mutual non-deployment as a solution.
The Pentagon, however, has indicated that it's not planning to accept Russia's offer and will deploy new non-INF compliant missiles, at least in Asia.
Unsuccessful North Korea–US Hanoi Summit and Bolton's Resignation
Following the initial burst of optimism from the first meeting between the American and North Korean heads of state in 2018, the two countries organised another meeting, this time in Hanoi, Vietnam at the end of February to continue negotiating for a normalisation of ties, the prospect of denuclearising the Korean Peninsula, and lifting sanctions from the DPRK.
The talks were, however, cut short and ended prematurely without a deal on 28 February. Trump stated that this was due to the DPRK demanding that all sanctions be lifted.
According to some media reports, the failure was facilitated by the alleged introduction of a denuclearisation roadmap suggested by Trump's then National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was well-known for his hawkish views on North Korea.
© AP Photo / Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi.
Bolton was sacked by Trump seven months later on 10 September. The US president shared that his national security adviser had failed to get along with certain people in his administration and criticised Bolton for some of his decisions, namely for proposing the «Libyan model» for North Korean denuclearisation, without elaborating further.
Since the unsuccessful summit in Hanoi, North Korea has conducted several test launches of its short and medium-range missiles, which it had suspended while it was negotiating with the US. Additionally, the DPRK cautioned Washington against delaying a new round of talks for too long, counting on the good relations between Trump and Kim Jong-un.
Recognition of Israeli Claims to Golan Heights and Partially Released «Deal of the Century»
Throughout 2019, the US took several steps that significantly impacted the longstanding Israeli-Arab conflict and further strained the relations between local Middle Eastern actors and the Jewish state.
In a second major «gift» to Israel after the recognition of Jerusalem as the Jewish state's capital in 2018, US President Donald Trump also recognised Tel Aviv's claims to the Golan Heights on 25 March 2019, which the country has controlled since capturing it from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. The move was made despite criticism from Middle East states, including Washington's ally Saudi Arabia, as well as from the UN. The recognition also met with vehement protests from Syria, which called the move an act of aggression against its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
© REUTERS / MOHAMAD TOROKMAN
A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest as Palestinians call for a day of rage over U.S. decision on Jewish settlements, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the Israeli-occupied West Bank November 26, 2019.
In another move in favour of Israel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on 18 November that the US no longer automatically considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal.
The decision faced strong objections from the Arab League, which labelled the new approach to the Israeli settlements «contrary to international law».
Previously, under the Obama administration, the US had upheld a 1978 State Department legal opinion that regarded such settlements as being in violation of international norms.
However, one long-anticipated step, the release of the so-called «deal of the century», Trump's plan for ending the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was not taken by the US this year. Instead, Trump's adviser tasked with drafting the deal, Jared Kushner, presented the ambitious economic part of the plan, without providing any indication about its political component.
If it remains unchanged, the deal of the century envisages $50 billion in new investments in the Palestinian Authority's economy over ten years and the introduction of rail and highway links between Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have so far been very sceptical about the deal's prospects, largely due to considering the US an improper mediator due to its recent moves to recognise Israeli territorial claims.
First Hard Steps Made Towards Reaching US-China Trade Deal
The trade war, initiated by Washington against China back in 2018, continued in 2019 despite the fact that the two countries began engaging in talks late in 2018 and at the beginning of the new year. These discussions eventually stalled, with Trump resuming his strategy of imposing tariffs until a new trade deal is reached between the two states.
Following another round of mutual tariffs being imposed in September, the two economic giants once again entered into talks and on 11 October, Trump announced that Washington and Beijing had reached a so-called «Phase one» agreement, which is set to become the first part of the broader trade deal that Trump has been working to achieve. Under the «phase one» agreement, China agreed to boost its purchases of manufactured goods, agricultural goods, and energy products by at least $200 billion over the coming years. In turn, the US cancelled the planned imposition of new tariffs.
© AFP 2019 / MIGUEL MEDINA
A mural entitled 'Smart Love' by Italien street artist TvBoy is displayed on a wall in Milan, on June 29, 2019 and depicts China's President Xi Jinping (L) holding an i-Phone smartphone kissing US President Donald Trump holding an Huawei smartphone
However, the «phase one» deal is yet to be inked, and the US decision to support anti-government protesters in Hong Kong and limit the sale of police equipment to the semi-autonomous territory reportedly stalled the signing process. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stated on 15 December, on the other hand, that it's «totally done» and only needs some routine «scrubs» to the text.
Global Crackdown Campaign Against Huawei
Another major development in US-China relations amid the ongoing trade war (although a link between the two matters is strongly denied by Washington), was the start of a crackdown campaign targeting one of the biggest smartphone makers in the world, China’s Huawei.
Washington simultaneously banned the company's telecom equipment from the US and prohibited American companies from selling technologies to the Chinese firm without special authorisation on 15 May.
The US went even further by starting to pressure its partners and allies worldwide to deny Huawei access to the construction of their 5G networks, threatening to suspend intelligence sharing programmes otherwise.