Where was Woodstock held? 5 myths about the famous festival
In this Aug. 15, 1969 file
photo, concert goers abandon their trucks, cars and buses as thousands
try to reach the Woodstock Music and Art Festival at White Lake in
Bethel, N.Y. (AP Photo)
By Michael Hill Associated Press
Woodstock is surrounded by myths, legends and
misperceptions. Here's the real story about five of them.
1. WOODSTOCK WAS NOT HELD AT WOODSTOCK
It made sense that co-organizer Michael Lang wanted
to have the concert in Woodstock. The Catskill Mountains town was
already known for being an artists' colony and Bob Dylan's rural
hideaway. But key people in the town wanted no part of the concert. The
festival was going to be held a bit south of Woodstock at an old
industrial site in Wallkill, New York. But those plans fell through
about a month before the show, sending Lang scrambling to find a new
site. He was driving through farm country in Bethel, New York, when he
spied a gently sloping alfalfa field. He struck a deal with the farmer,
2. THE NEW YORK STATE THRUWAY STAYED OPEN
"The New York State Thruway is closed, man," Arlo
Guthrie famously announced from the festival stage. Not exactly. Police
closed at least one thruway exit east of the festival to stem the source
of a blockbuster traffic jam around the site. How bad were the roads?
The New York Daily News reported on Aug. 16, 1969, that cars were being
delayed by as much as eight hours between New York City and the concert
site — a distance of less than 100 miles.
3. BABIES WERE (SORT OF) BORN AT WOODSTOCK
This one could be true depending on how you define
"at Woodstock." The concert's medical director told reporters at the
scene of the festival that there were two births: one at a local
hospital after the mother was flown out by helicopter; the other in a
car caught in traffic. Wade Lawrence, the director of what is now the
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts at the festival site, recently
confirmed the helicopter story with the medevac pilot, who said the
mother gave birth at the hospital.
4. MAX YASGUR WAS NOT A COUNTRY BUMPKIN
Yasgur told the young crowd massed on his field he
was a farmer not used to speaking to groups. Self-deprecation aside, he
ran a large dairy operation with a large herd, trucks and its own plant.
Nephew Marty Miller said that he warned his uncle months earlier that
Woodstock's organizers might come knocking, and that Yasgur was ready
when it happened. Lang in his memoir describes Yasgur as a "sharp guy."
Miller said that beyond rent money, Yasgur benefited from improvements
to the field, such as wells. "Max was an astute businessman, very
sharp. He was nobody's fool," Miller said.
5. WOODSTOCK WAS NOT EXACTLY THREE DAYS OF PEACE
The famous concert poster with a bird perched on a
guitar neck advertised "three days of peace and music," spanning from
Aug. 15-17. There was undisputedly music at Woodstock, and many
attendees reportedly spent the weekend blissed out. But Woodstock lasted
more than three days. Thanks to delays, it bled into the morning of Aug.
18. Jimi Hendrix came on stage after the sun came up, after a large
portion of the crowd had left.
India sees once-off-limits Kashmir as investment frontier
In this March 10, 2015 file photo, the sun peeks
through a gap between clouds and a mountain as Kashmiri fishermen row their
boats on their way home after working in Dal Lake in Srinagar, in
Indian-controlled Kashmir. Kashmir’s pristine Alpine landscape, ski resorts,
lake houseboat stays and uninterrupted acres of apple orchards have long
made it a global tourist draw. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin, File)
By Emily Schmall Associated Press
New Delhi (AP) — Indian authorities have
characterized their surprise move to strip Jammu and Kashmir's special
constitutional status as freeing the disputed Himalayan territory from the
bonds that kept it from realizing its economic potential.
But the argument is flawed. The region already
outperforms India on measures such as life expectancy, literacy and poverty,
and its economy has been growing steadily this decade, despite frequent
skirmishes between militants and security forces that have temporarily
halted commercial activity.
Where the restive region has fallen behind other Indian
states is with private investment, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and
other leaders of his Hindu nationalist government have made it clear that at
least one of their goals in asserting more control over Kashmir is in making
it a new frontier for growth as India's overall economy experiences a
For decades, a separatist movement has fought Indian
rule in Kashmir, which is split between Pakistan and India and claimed by
both in its entirety. Some 70,000 people have died in clashes between
militants and civilian protesters and Indian security forces since 1989.
Most Kashmiris want either independence or a merger with Pakistan, which is
India's bitter rival.
Modi's government last week revoked Article 370 of
India's Constitution, which dates to shortly after independence from British
rule. It gave Kashmir a greater degree of legislative autonomy and kept
outsiders from buying land or holding public sector jobs. Indian lawmakers
also stripped Kashmir's statehood, splitting it into two federal
territories: Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The authorities argued that Kashmir's special status
had cultivated a sense of separatism that was easy for Pakistan to exploit
but made investing difficult. Home Minister Amit Shah said doing away with
the special provisions would "kick start" regional development.
Shah and others have said the central government has
given $44 billion to the region for economic development in recent years,
but that much of it has been squandered by corrupt politicians.
"The revocation helps break the monopoly that was set
by the previous lawmakers of Kashmir," he said. "Industry, health care and
education in Kashmir was stalled due to Article 370," Shah said.
Whether a majority of Kashmiris agreed remained unclear
Monday, the eighth consecutive day of an unprecedented security lockdown and
near-total communications blackout in the predominantly Muslim valley of 4
million people. Schools and businesses are closed and public assembly is
banned, conditions that are expected to last through India's independence
day on Friday.
Modi, in his first address to the nation after the
sudden act, played up the economic opportunities for Kashmir, saying that
the two newly formed federal territories "have the potential to become the
biggest tourist destination in the world. The reforms required for this are
But Kashmir's pristine Alpine landscape, ski resorts,
lake houseboat stays and uninterrupted acres of apple orchards have long
made it a global tourist attraction.
Its rich soil produces some of India's most famous
exports, including handwoven Pashmina shawls, basmati rice and saffron.
And Kashmir's gross domestic product, the value of all
the goods and services in the state, has risen from $16.7 billion in 2012 to
an estimated $21.9 billion in 2018, according to state statistics data. The
economy was expected to expand by another 11 percent this year, according to
a state budget document.
By contrast, the Asian Development Bank recently
reduced its India growth forecast for 2019 to 7%, from 8.2% in 2015,
crediting the slowdown to lower consumption and investment.
India needs to grow by at least 9% per year to reach
Modi's aim of making it a $5 trillion economy by 2025.
With the law prohibiting outsiders from buying property
in Jammu and Kashmir now lifted, Indians from the rest of the country are
poised to purchase real estate and apply for government jobs there. Some
fear this may lead to a demographic and cultural change in the
The move neatly sets up an international investment
summit the New Delhi-appointed governor of Jammu and Kashmir has planned for
Gov. Satya Pal Malik told reporters in Srinagar last
month that interest in Kashmir was great, but that the special
constitutional provisions had put off investors.
"The problem is people can't buy land," he said.
Though the provision precluded outsiders from buying
land, they were able to lease it for up to 90 years, with the ability to
"There was no constitutional regulation which was
hampering investment or setting up business in Jammu and Kashmir. It was
more the peace that wasn't there," said Afaq Hussain, director of the New
Delhi-based Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals.
"Peace is the imperative," he said.
Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma contributed.
South Korea to remove Japan from preferred trade list
People pass by a banner with an image of
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to denounce Japan's trade restrictions on
South Korea on a street in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Aug 12, 2019. South
Korea said Monday that it has decided to remove Japan from a list of nations
receiving preferential treatment in trade in what was seen as a
countermeasure to Tokyo's recent decision to downgrade Seoul's trade status
amid a diplomatic row. The sign reads "No Abe." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
By Kim Tong-Hyung
Seoul, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said
Monday that it has decided to remove Japan from a list of nations receiving
preferential treatment in trade in what was seen as a tit-for-tat move
following Tokyo's recent decision to downgrade Seoul's trade status amid a
It wasn't immediately clear how South Korea's tightened
export controls would impact bilateral trade. Seoul said some South Korean
companies exporting to Japan will be able to receive exceptions from
case-by-case inspections that are normally applied on sensitive shipments to
nations with lower trade status and go through the same fast-track approval
process that they currently enjoy.
Masahisa Sato, Japan's vice minister for foreign
affairs, said he believes the impact of Seoul's move would likely be limited
as Japan doesn't import much sensitive materials from South Korea.
Japan provided similar exceptions while removing South
Korea as a favored trade partner, which eased some of the fears in Seoul
about a possible blow to its export-dependent economy, where many
manufacturers heavily rely on parts and materials imported from Japan.
After spending weeks berating Tokyo for allegedly
weaponizing trade and vowing retaliation, South Korean President Moon Jae-in
struck a more conciliatory tone on Monday, saying that his government will
refrain from "emotional" reactions to Japan over the trade dispute.
"While maintaining unwavering resolve and calmness, we
need a long-term approach to look for fundamental countermeasures," Moon
said in a meeting with senior aides.
South Korea's trade minister, Sung Yun-mo, said Seoul
decided to remove Japan from a 29-member "white list" of countries that
enjoy minimum restrictions in trade because it has failed to uphold
international principles while managing its export controls on sensitive
materials. Sung and other South Korean officials did not specify what they
saw as Tokyo's problems in export controls.
Sato said South Korea would be violating World Trade
Organization rules if it was retaliating against Japan's earlier measures.
Park Tae-sung, a South Korean trade official, said that South Korea is
making a legitimate effort under domestic and international laws to improve
its export controls.
South Korea currently divides its trade partners into
two groups while managing the exports of sensitive materials that can be
used both for civilian and military purposes. Seoul will create a new
in-between bracket where it plans to place only Japan, which "in principle"
will receive the same treatment as the non-favored nations in what's now the
second group, Sung said.
South Korea's government currently requires companies
to go through case-by-case approvals to export sensitive items to
non-favored nations, which typically take 15 days. However, Seoul also plans
to grant exceptions to South Korean companies exporting to Japanese partners
under long-term deals and allow them to continue using a fast-track approval
process that takes about five days.
South Korean officials didn't clearly explain why they
created a special bracket for Japan instead of grouping it with other
non-favored nations. They said Seoul will work to minimize negative impact
on South Korean exporters and bilateral trade.
Sung said the changes are expected to enter effect
sometime in September, following a 20-day period for gathering public
opinion on the issue and further regulatory and legal reviews. He said Seoul
is willing to accept any request by Tokyo for consultation over the issue
during the opinion-gathering period, but officials didn't say whether
Seoul's decision will be negotiable.
South Korea's announcement came weeks after Japan's
Cabinet approved the removal from South Korea from a list of countries with
preferential trade status, citing an erosion of trust and unspecified
security concerns surrounding Seoul's export controls.
Seoul says Tokyo is using trade to retaliate over South
Korean court rulings that called for Japanese companies to compensate aging
South Korean plaintiffs for forced labor during World War II and plans to
file a complaint with the WTO.
Japan's move came weeks after it imposed stricter
controls on certain technology exports to South Korean companies that rely
on Japanese materials to produce semiconductors and displays for TVs and
smartphones, which are key South Korean export items.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo
contributed to this report.
US-China trade war leaves Europe as collateral damage
the camera lens reflect the lights of the Mainfest event at the river Main
in Frankfurt, Germany, late Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
By DAVID Mchugh
Frankfurt, Germany (AP) — Like a sleek Mercedes
crunched between two freight trucks, Europe's economy is being knocked off
course by the conflict between the U.S. and China over trade.
The bill for damages from the U.S-China collision will
likely be reflected in new growth figures due Wednesday that could show
Europe's economic motor, Germany, is stalled or shrinking. Beyond that,
economists say there are signs that years of declining unemployment since
the depths of the Great Recession and the eurozone debt crisis may be
And if the trade wars escalate to include higher U.S.
tariffs on cars made in Europe, the picture could look even worse.
The heart of the matter is Germany, Europe's largest
economy and a key trade partner of both the U.S. and China.
Exports amount to almost half the German economy - 47%,
according to the World Bank — as its companies play a dominant role in
global markets for luxury autos and complex industrial machinery. Supply
chains from Germany extend into neighboring eurozone countries as well,
while German profits are often invested in factories in places like
Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. Great when trade is booming — but it means
Germany remains more vulnerable than less open economies such as Portugal or
France to a slowdown in global trade in goods and services.
And that is what's happening.
German has spewed wretched economic data for weeks: an
8% annual fall in exports in June, a 1.5% drop in industrial production in
June from the month before, three times bigger than expected. Surveys of
executives suggest the industrial sector is in recession, with consumer
demand and services propping up the economy.
But the damage from trade uncertainty may be spreading
to consumers and companies that do business only at home.
While German unemployment remains low at 3.1%, job
gains have stalled recently. Growth in the eurozone as a whole halved to
0.2% in the second quarter compared with the first. Italy, the third largest
economy in the eurozone, was another weak spot, with zero growth after only
0.1% in the first quarter.
One unsettling sign is that investment in new plants
and equipment across the eurozone has weakened this year even as factory
capacity utilization remains relatively strong . That is a departure from
the longer term pattern, and suggests that managers don't see stronger sales
and profits ahead.
Ironically, trade between Germany and the U.S. and
between Germany and China is holding up pretty well. It's mainly the
uncertainty about the outcome of the clash between U.S. President Donald
Trump and the Chinese Communist leadership that has been weighing on
business confidence and deterring decisions to invest and buy across global
markets. Last week, Trump imposed a 10% tariff on an additional $300 billion
in Chinese goods effective Sept. 1.
As a result, research firm Oxford Economics forecasts
world trade growth of just 1.2% this year, far below last year's 4.9% rise.
There are a few small benefits for Europe. While the
U.S. and China ramped up barriers against each other, the U.S. has largely
kept tariffs on European products the same, except for introducing charges
on steel and aluminum imports. China has actually lowered charges on exports
from the 19 European countries that use the euro.
"That mildly positive effect for the eurozone has been,
however, more than offset by the hit to business sentiment and demand," says
economist Florian Hense at Berenberg bank. "As uncertainty about the future
trading regime is pervasive, businesses have cut their outlook and their
investment plans. The slowdown in Chinese actual and potential growth, which
the trade tensions have exacerbated, also weighs on demand for eurozone
exports." Hense thinks the U.S. and China will eventually cut a deal and
remove the uncertainty.
But for now the drawn-out trade discussion continues to
Top companies have issued cautious outlooks along with
their earnings for the most recent quarter, even those that are doing
relatively well. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess warned that "growing
protectionism also poses major challenges for the globally integrated auto
industry." Siemens AG CEO Joe Kaeser said that "geopolitics and
geo-economics are harming an otherwise positive investment sentiment."
The auto industry in particular, with its dependence on
demand from operations in China, looks less healthy. Daimler, maker of
Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, has issued four profit warnings over 18 months
and saw its first quarterly loss since 2009. BMW lost money on its autos
business in the first quarter for the first time in a decade. Trump has
recently repeated a willingness to increase tariffs on imported autos if he
does not get a satisfactory new trade deal with the EU.
Some of Europe's troubles can't be blamed on the trade
dispute. The auto industry is under pressure to meet lower greenhouse gas
emissions limits imposed by the European Union. Automakers had expected to
rely on more fuel-efficient diesels to help meet the requirements, but saw
diesel sales plunge after Volkswagen was caught in 2015 cheating on diesel
Another source of uncertainty is Britain's impending
departure from the EU, currently set for Oct. 31. British Prime Minister
Boris Johnson has said he wants to leave without an extension even if that
means no divorce deal to smooth trade.
In an effort to ward off a steeper slowdown or possible
recession, the European Central Bank has signaled it could provide more
monetary stimulus at its Sept. 12 meeting, including new purchases of bonds,
which pump newly created money into the economy. It's a measure of Europe's
reversal of fortune that a four-year, 2.6 trillion-euro ($2.9 trillion) bond
purchase program was halted only in December.
"What is hurting German exports currently is the
uncertainty which has spread across the globe and has also paralyzed many
European economies," said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist for Germany at
ING. "Looking ahead, the outlook for German exporters is clearly in the
hands of the U.S. and China."
Muslim hajj pilgrims ascend Mount Arafat for day of worship
walk outside Namira Mosque in Arafat, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Friday, Aug.
9, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
of thousands of Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira Mosque in Arafat during
the annual hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia,
Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
pilgrims pray in front of a pillar, where Islam's Prophet Muhammad is
believed to have delivered his last sermon to tens of thousands of
followers, on a rocky hill known as Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of
Arafat, during the annual hajj pilgrimage, ahead of sunrise near the holy
city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
By Bassam Hatoum and Amr Nabil
Mount Arafat, Saudi Arabia (AP)
— More than 2 million Muslims gathered Saturday at the sacred hill of Mount
Arafat in Saudi Arabia for an intense day of worship and reflection on
what's considered the climax of the Islamic hajj pilgrimage.
Many had tears streaming down their
faces as they raised their hands in worship on the slopes of the rocky hill
where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon some 1,400 years ago,
calling for equality and unity among Muslims. Thousands had walked there
through the pre-dawn darkness.
As one of the largest religious
gatherings on earth, this second day of the hajj on Mount Arafat, or the
hill of mercy as it's also known, is often the most memorable for pilgrims.
They stand shoulder to shoulder with Muslims from around the world, all
considered equal in Islam before God, seeking mercy, blessings, good health,
bounty and healing.
This year, more than 1.8 million
people from more than 160 countries came to Saudi Arabia to perform the
hajj, according to Saudi officials. Some 20,000 are U.S. citizens and
residents. Around 200,000 additional pilgrims are Saudi residents or
The five-day hajj pilgrimage is
required of all Muslims once in their lifetime, if they are financially and
physically able to make the demanding pilgrimage. Because the Islamic
calendar is a lunar one, the time of year when the hajj takes place varies,
and when it falls in the hot summer months, temperatures can soar to over
100 F (38 C).
Most pilgrims also save up money for
years to afford the trip, which takes them to Islam's holiest sites to
perform a series of ancient rituals that date back thousands of years.
While following a route the Prophet
Muhammad once walked, Muslims trace the rites of hajj back to the prophets
Ibrahim and Ismail, or Abraham and Ishmael as they are named in the Bible.
The oldest pilgrim this year is
103-year-old Noah Lanai from Thailand, according to Saudi Arabia's state-run
media. The woman came to the hajj with her son and was quoted in local media
saying she'd long dreamt of performing the hajj and praying in Mecca.
Muslims believe the hajj is a chance
at atonement and an opportunity to erase past sins. It's also a chance to
pray for unity and peace among Muslims as conflicts rage in Syria, Yemen and
Libya, and Muslim minorities face increased threats around the world.
"I wish the best for all people, and
hope Syria will return to normal and hope all people will be good," said
Syrian pilgrim Ahmad Wahid as he ascended Mount Arafat for prayer and
Yemeni pilgrim Mohammad Vardan also
said he was praying for his country, ravaged by more than four years of
civil war that's created the world's worst humanitarian disaster.
"We thank God of his blessings, and
we pray for Yemen's peace and stability," he said.
During the hajj, male pilgrims wear
simple, white terry cloth garments, while women forgo makeup and perfume and
wear loose-fitting clothing and a head covering. This state of "ihram," or
spiritual purity, is intended for pilgrims to focus on the inner self over
their outward appearance.
The white garments worn by men are
forbidden to contain any stitching — a restriction meant to emphasize the
equality of all Muslims and prevent wealthier pilgrims from differentiating
themselves with more elaborate garments.
After spending the day in prayer on
Mount Arafat, pilgrims will head toward an area called Muzdalifa, about 5.5
miles (9 kilometers) west of Mount Arafat. Many walk, while others use
In Muzdalifa, pilgrims will rest and
pick up pebbles that will be used for a symbolic stoning of the devil and
casting away of evil. This takes place over three days in Mina, an area
about 12 miles (20 kilometers) east of Mecca. The final days of hajj
coincide with Eid al-Adha, or the festival of sacrifice, celebrated by
Khmer Rouge ideologue cremated, appeal may be stopped
Relatives carry a portrait of former Khmer Rouge's chief
ideologist and No. 2 leader, Nuon Chea, during his funeral procession in
Pailin in northwestern Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. Nuon Chea,
known as Brother No. 2 and the right-hand man of Pol Pot, the leader of the
brutal Communist regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, died Sunday
at age 93. (AP Photo/Chorn Chanren)
Cheang Associated Press
Phnom Penh, Cambodia (AP)
— The death of the Khmer Rouge's top ideologue may end criminal proceedings
against him even though his appeal against convictions for genocide and
other crimes is still pending, a spokesman for Cambodia's U.N.-assisted
tribunal trying leaders of the defunct communist group said Friday.
Nuon Chea, the second-highest
official after Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot when the group held power in the
late 1970s, died Sunday at age 93. He was cremated Friday at a Buddhist
temple in Pailin in northwestern Cambodia, which was a Khmer Rouge
stronghold as it fought a guerrilla war after being ousted from power in
1979. Their movement collapsed entirely in 1998.
Spokesman Neth Pheaktra said under
Cambodian law, judicial action is terminated on the death of the accused,
and the tribunal's Supreme Court chamber would rule on its application.
It will not be clear until the court
rules whether the convictions under appeal will stand or be vacated, leaving
them legally undecided.
The death leaves a single former top
Khmer Rouge leader to proceed with an appeal against his convictions for
genocide and other crimes: Khieu Samphan, 88, who was the regime's head of
Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were
also convicted in an earlier trial of crimes against humanity and other
offenses, and their life sentences in that case were upheld after appeal.
The tribunal, which has cost
hundreds of millions of dollars, has convicted only one other defendant,
Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, who as head of the Khmer Rouge prison system ran
the infamous Tuol Sleng torture center in Phnom Penh.
The tribunal, formally known as the
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC, was set up as a
hybrid court, meaning every international prosecutor and judge was paired
with a Cambodian counterpart. While the international prosecutors have
worked to indict more suspects, the rules of the tribunal have allowed their
Cambodian counterparts to block further action.
Australian Doreen Chen, who was the
internationally appointed lawyer for Nuon Chea, said her team believes that
according to law, their late client "is presumed innocent until a final
appeal judgment is delivered."
"Since the Supreme Court Chamber
hasn't issued the appeal judgment, he is now considered innocent and that
trial judgment against him is effectively vacated. We have asked the Supreme
Court Chamber to confirm this view and let us know what should happen next,"
she said in an interview over the internet.
She also said they are seeking to
have his appeal continue despite his death "so that there can be a final
judgment and confirmation of the truth, not only for Nuon Chea but for the
Chen said she understood that that
the Supreme Court Chamber is currently considering the issue, but that on
Friday, the tribunal administration informed her and her colleagues that
their team have all been fired, even while awaiting a court ruling.
"Unfortunately, it appears that the
budget may be more important than the law and the ECCC's ultimate legacy,"
Liv Sovanna, a Cambodian lawyer for
Nuon Chea's defense, said by telephone from the cremation site that about
200 people attended the ceremony, with 50 monks chanting as family members
and friends paid their last respects.
Nuon Chea is survived by his
85-year-old wife and three daughters, he said. He and his wife lived in a
small wooden house very close to the border with Thailand from his 1998
surrender until his 2007 arrest by the tribunal.
Many former Khmer Rouge also live in
the area. By one estimate, almost 70% of the area's older men were fighters
for the communist group.
The government of Prime Minister Hun
Sen has repeatedly insisted that the tribunal's work would cease with the
convictions of its last two surviving leaders.
Australia plans to set date to ban exporting plastic waste
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, third left,
holds a press conference with the heads of state following the Council of
Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Cairns, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (Marc
McCormack/AAP Image via AP)
By Rod Mcguirk
Canberra, Australia (AP)
— Australian government leaders on Friday agreed to set a timetable for
banning exports of waste plastic, which is now shipped to regional
neighbours including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Federal, state and territory leaders
agreed at a meeting at the Great Barrier Reef city of Cairns to task their
environment ministers with setting a timetable to end the cross-border
disposal of waste plastic, paper, glass and tires. Waste disposal has become
an increasingly pressing problem since 2017 when China, previously its main
destination, barred imports of almost all foreign plastic waste.
Australian leaders agreed their
strategy must seek to reduce waste, especially plastics, decrease the amount
of waste going to landfill and maximize the capability of Australia's waste
management and recycling sector to collect, recycle, reuse, convert and
recover waste, the meeting's communique said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said
only 12% of waste that Australians place in recycling bins was recycled.
"There will be no exports of
plastics and paper and glass to other countries where it runs the risk of
ending up floating around in our oceans whether off the Great Barrier Reef —
which we know there's strong evidence of that — or anywhere else," Morrison
Morrison said he wanted the export
ban implemented as soon as practicable and did not expect the change to take
Australia spends 2.8 billion
Australian dollars ($1.9 billion) a year exporting 4.5 million metric tons
(5 million US tons) of recyclable waste, 80% of which is shipped to Asian
Environmentalists have protested
outside the Australian consulate in the Indonesia city of Surabaya against
tons of Australian waste plastic and paper that they say is shipped to
Indonesia, burnt and dumped in waterways.
Walloped by heat wave, Greenland sees massive ice melt
In this image taken on Thursday Aug.1, 2019 large rivers
of melting water form on an ice sheet in western Greenland and drain into
moulin holes that empty into the ocean from underneath the ice. The heat
wave that smashed high temperature records in five European countries a week
ago is now over Greenland, accelerating the melting of the island's ice
sheet and causing massive ice loss in the Arctic. (Photo via Caspar Haarl°v,
Into the Ice via AP)
In this image taken on June 13, 2019 small pieces of ice
float in the water off the shore in Nuuk, Greenland. Milder weather than
normal since the start of summer in Greenland, led to the UN's weather
agency voicing concern that the hot air which produced the recent extreme
heat wave in Europe could be headed toward Greenland where it could
contribute to increased melting of ice. (AP Photo/Sandy Virgo)
By David Rising Associated Press Writer
— The heat wave that smashed high temperature records in five European
countries a week ago is now over Greenland, accelerating the melting of the
island's ice sheet and causing massive ice loss in the Arctic.
Greenland, the world's largest
island, is a semi-autonomous Danish territory between the Atlantic and
Arctic oceans that has 82% of its surface covered in ice.
The area of the Greenland ice sheet
that is showing indications of melt has been growing daily, and hit a record
56.5% for this year on Wednesday, said Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist
with the Danish Meteorological Institute. She says that's expected to expand
and peak on Thursday before cooler temperatures slow the pace of the melt.
More than 10 billion tons (11
billion U.S. tons) of ice was lost to the oceans by surface melt on
Wednesday alone, creating a net mass ice loss of some 197 billion tons (217
billion U.S. tons) from Greenland in July, she said.
"It looks like the peak will be
today. But the long-term forecast is for continuing warm and sunny weather
in Greenland, so that means the amount of the ice loss will continue," she
said Thursday in a telephone interview from Copenhagen.
The scope of Wednesday's ice melt is
a number difficult to grasp. To understand just how much ice is being lost,
a mere 1 billion tons — or 1 gigaton — of ice loss is equivalent to about
400,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, the Danish Meteorological Institute
said . And 100 billion tons (110 billion U.S. tons) corresponds to a 0.28
mm (0.01 inch) rise in global sea levels.
Mottram said since June 1 — roughly
the start of the ice-loss season — the Greenland ice sheet has lost 240
gigatons (240 billion metric tons) this year. That compares with 290
gigatons lost overall in the 2012 melt season, which usually goes through
the end of August.
A June 2019 study by scientists in
the U.S. and Denmark said melting ice in Greenland alone will add between 5
and 33 centimeters (2 to 13 inches) to rising global sea levels by the year
2100. If all the ice in Greenland melted — which would take centuries — the
world's oceans would rise by 7.2 meters (23 feet, 7 inches), the study
The current melting has been brought
on by the arrival of the same warm air from North Africa and Spain that
melted European cities and towns last week, setting national temperature
records in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Britain.
In Russia, meanwhile, forest fires
caused by hot, dry weather and spread by high winds are raging over nearly
30,000 square kilometers (11,580 sq. miles) of territory in Siberia and the
Russian Far East — an area the size of Belgium. The smoke from these fires,
some of them in Arctic territory, is so heavy it can easily be seen in
satellite photos and is causing air quality problems in towns and some
cities, including Russia's third-largest city, Novosibirsk. Residents want
the Russian government to do more to fight the blazes.
Greenland has also been battling a
slew of Arctic wildfires, something that Mottram said was uncommon in the
In Greenland, the melt area this
year is the second-biggest in terms of ice area affected, behind more than
90% in 2012, said Mark Serreze, director of the Snow and Ice Data Center in
Boulder, Colorado, which monitors ice sheets globally. Records go back to
A lot of what melts can later
refreeze onto the ice sheet, but because of the conditions ahead of this
summer's heat wave, the amount of ice lost for good this year might be the
same as in 2012 or more, according to scientists. They noted a long build
up to this summer's ice melt — including higher overall temperatures for
months — and a very dry winter with little snow in many places, which would
normally offer some protection to glacier ice.
"This is certainly a weather event
superimposed on this overall trend of warmer conditions" that have
increasingly melted Greenland ice over the long term, Serreze said.
Compounding the melt, the Greenland
ice sheet started out behind this year because of the low ice and snow
accumulation, said Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Twila Moon.
With man-made climate change,
"there's a potential for these kind of rates to become more common 50 years
from now," Moon said.
Heat waves have always occurred, but
Mike Sparrow, a spokesman for the U.N. World Meteorological Organization,
noted that as global temperatures have risen, extreme heat waves are now
occurring at least 10 times more frequently than a century ago. This year,
the world saw its hottest month of June ever .
"These kind of heat waves are
weather events and can occur naturally but studies have shown that both the
frequency and intensity of these heat waves have increased due to global
warming," Sparrow said in a telephone interview from Geneva.
He noted that sea ice spread in the
Arctic and Antarctic are both currently at record lows.
"When people talk about the average
global temperature increasing by a little more than 1 degree (Celsius),
that's not a huge amount to notice if you're sitting in Hamburg or London,
but that's a global average and it's much greater in the polar regions," he
Even though temperatures will be
going down in Greenland by the end of this week, the ice melt is not likely
to stop anytime soon, Mottram said.
"Over the last couple of days, you
could see the warm wave passing over Greenland," she said. "That peak of
warm air has passed over the summit of the ice sheet, but the clear skies
are almost as important, or maybe even more important, for the total melt of
the ice sheet."
She added that clear skies are
likely to continue in Greenland "so we can still get a lot of ice melt even
if the temperature is not spectacularly high."
Science Writer Seth Borenstein
contributed to this report from Southern Pines, North Carolina
Fans recreate Beatles' Abbey Road cover shot 50 years on
Beatles lookalikes are joined by thousands of
fans gathered to walk across the Abbey Road zebra crossing, on the 50th
anniversary of British pop musicians The Beatles doing it for the cover of
their album 'Abbey Road' in St Johns Wood in London, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.
They aimed to cross 50 years to the minute since the 'Fab Four' were
photographed for the album.(Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)
London (AP) — It was 50 years
ago today, that The Beatles caused a traffic delay.
And hundreds of fans of the Fab Four gathered
Thursday at a crosswalk in London's St. John's Wood neighborhood
immortalized on the "Abbey Road" album to recreate the cover photo half a
century after it was taken.
At 11:35 a.m. on Aug. 8, 1969, Iain Macmillan
photographed John, Paul, George and Ringo striding single-file across the
black-and-white "zebra" crossing outside Abbey Road Studios while a police
officer stopped traffic.
Used as the cover of the band's penultimate studio
album, it became one of the most famous images in music history.
On Thursday spectators snapped photos on cellphones
and lookalikes from a Beatles cover band crossed the street in tribute to
the original image.
The spot remains a place of pilgrimage for Beatles
fans from around the world.
"Every hour of every day there are fans on the
crossing," said Beatles tour guide Richard Porter, who organized Thursday's
commemoration. "I've seen lots of different sights on the crossing, too,
from couples having their wedding photos taken to people going across
Woodstock photos are displayed for 1st time, 50 years later
August, 1969 photo shows Richie Havens as he performs during Woodstock in
Bethel, N.Y. The photo is only one of hundreds made by photographer Mark
Goff who, at the time, worked for an underground newspaper in Milwaukee,
Wis. (Mark Goff Photography, Leah Demarco/Allison Goff via AP)
August, 1969 photo shows Jerry Garcia as he performs during Woodstock in
Bethel, N.Y. (Mark Goff Photography, Leah Demarco/Allison Goff via AP)
August, 1969 photo shows Janis Joplin as she performs during Woodstock in
Bethel, N.Y. Mark Goff Photography, Leah Demarco/Allison Goff via AP)
undated 1969 photo shows a self portrait of Mark Goff who was a credentialed
photographer covering Woodstock in 1969. (Mark Goff Photography, Leah
Demarco/Allison Goff via AP)
By Michael Hill Associated Press
As Jerry Garcia jammed and Janis Joplin wailed, Mark
Goff captured images at Woodstock that no one ever saw.
The 22-year-old photographer for an underground paper
took hundreds of pictures of the performers and the crowd that weekend. Some
were published, and the negatives from that weekend were filed away at his
Milwaukee home and barely mentioned as Goff raised two daughters, changed
careers and, last November, died of cancer.
Dozens of Goff's Woodstock shots are being displayed 50
years later thanks to efforts by artist Nick Clemente, who wants to shine a
light on the little-known photographer. For the daughters, the photos are a
window into what their father saw during that chaotic summer weekend in
"Seeing these photos is a really interesting way to see
who he was outside of being our father," said 34-year-old Alli Goff.
"Because that's the only way we really know him."
Mark Goff was in a group of credentialed photographers
for the festival that included the biggest names in rock photography and a
high school newspaper journalist. The long-haired Navy veteran shot for the
Milwaukee underground newspaper Kaleidoscope. Over the weekend of Aug.
15-18, he trained his lens on Arlo Guthrie, the Band and Richie Havens. And
he sloshed around the muddy farm land to photograph the beatific, scruffy
It was part of his work documenting the
counter-cultural movement, heavy on rockers like Lou Reed and Bruce
Springsteen, mostly in his hometown of Milwaukee. One famous photo, still
all over the internet, shows comedian George Carlin being escorted by police
during his 1972 arrest over offensive language.
"My whole life was associated with my dad carrying a
camera," said Leah DeMarco, 47. She remembers her father working as a
freelance photographer for local newspapers and monitoring police
frequencies in his car. If he heard a call, he'd hide her under a blanket to
get through the police line.
Goff stored 225 Woodstock images in a cabinet, along
with more from Milwaukee and his stint in the Navy. His ex-wife Barbara
Reminga said maybe 60 were printed at the time, including a Janis Joplin
picture displayed in their foyer. A smaller number were published. Most of
the film remained in the cabinet as he moved on to other jobs that included
being an aide to a liberal congressman, an activist and a political
It seems like his memories of Woodstock were mostly
packed away too. He would tell his daughters stories about, say, the George
Carlin photo. But he spoke little of Woodstock.
"He was like, 'Yeah, it kind of became this phenomenon
later. But at the time, it was kind of like one more thing. Everything was
groundbreaking,'" Alli Goff recalled. "And he would kind of complain, 'It
was raining a lot.'"
Still, some of his Woodstock images are in circulation.
He posted 20 of his festival shots on Facebook as Woodstock's 40th
anniversary loomed in 2009. And he contributed his press pass and a handful
of pictures to the Newseum in Washington, D.C. for an exhibit that year. At
the time, he told a local news outlet that he previously had "not thought
about Woodstock for more than five minutes" in decades.
Mark Goff continued to work and ride his beloved Harley
motorcycle as he battled pancreatic cancer, dying Nov. 30 at age 71. He died
weeks after Clemente began searching for him.
Clemente is a graphic designer and wanted to use an
unattributed image of Swami Satchidananda on the Woodstock stage for a
poster. It took some sleuthing to find it was shot by Goff. By the time
Clemente was finally able to search the photographer's name online, he
turned up the recently published obituary.
Clemente eventually reached out to Goff's daughters,
who shipped him hundreds of negatives for scanning. They believe most of the
images have not been seen in 50 years. Clemente printed about 70. He is
starting to display the pictures and list them for sale at a half-dozen
Hudson Valley galleries this month.
Clemente, 68, said calls it a labor of love. He finds
the images striking and admires a man he calls the "opposite of
"I'm fairly confident that he's going to have a little
slot in the history of photography," Clemente said.
Though Mark Goff didn't focus on promoting his work too
much in his life, his daughters think he'd be proud about getting exposure
five decades after Woodstock.
"I'm excited for other people to be able to see them,"
DeMarco said, "and see what a wonderful photographer he was."
UN climate report: Change land use to avoid a hungry future
Monday, July 30, 2018 file photo shows rows of soybean plants in a field
near Bennington, Neb. A report by the United Nations released on Thursday,
Aug. 8, 2019 says that human-caused climate change is dramatically degrading
the planet’s land, while the way people use the Earth is making global
warming worse. AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
BY Seth Borenstein and Jamey
Keaten Associated Press
Geneva (AP) — Human-caused climate change is
dramatically degrading the Earth's land and the way people use the land is
making global warming worse, a new United Nations scientific report says.
That creates a vicious cycle which is already making food more expensive,
scarcer and less nutritious.
"The cycle is accelerating," said NASA climate
scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, a co-author of the report. "The threat of
climate change affecting people's food on their dinner table is increasing."
But if people change the way they eat, grow food and
manage forests, it could help save the planet from a far warmer future,
Earth's land masses, which are only 30% of the globe,
are warming twice as fast as the planet as a whole. While heat-trapping
gases are causing problems in the atmosphere, the land has been less talked
about as part of climate change. A special report, written by more than 100
scientists and unanimously approved by diplomats from nations around the
world Thursday at a meeting in Geneva, proposed possible fixes and made more
"The way we use land is both part of the problem and
also part of the solution," said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, a French climate
scientist who co-chairs one of the panel's working groups. "Sustainable land
management can help secure a future that is comfortable."
Scientists at Thursday's press conference emphasized
both the seriousness of the problem and the need to make societal changes
"We don't want a message of despair," said science
panel official Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London. "We want to
get across the message that every action makes a difference."
Still the stark message hit home hard for some of the
"I've lost a lot of sleep about what the science is
saying. As a person, it's pretty scary," Koko Warner, a manager in the U.N.
Climate Change secretariat who helped write a report chapter on risk
management and decision-making, told The Associated Press after the report
was presented at the World Meteorological Organization headquarters in
Geneva. "We need to act urgently."
The report said climate change already has worsened
land degradation, caused deserts to grow, permafrost to thaw and made
forests more vulnerable to drought, fire, pests and disease. That's happened
even as much of the globe has gotten greener because of extra carbon dioxide
in the air. Climate change has also added to the forces that have reduced
the number of species on Earth.
"Climate change is really slamming the land," said
World Resources Institute researcher Kelly Levin, who wasn't part of the
And the future could be worse.
"The stability of food supply is projected to decrease
as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events that disrupt food
chains increases," the report said.
In the worst-case scenario, food security problems
change from moderate to high risk with just a few more tenths of a degree of
warming from now. They go from high to "very high" risk with just another
1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) of warming from now.
"The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is
increasing," NASA's Rosenzweig said. "Just to give examples, the crop yields
were effected in Europe just in the last two weeks."
Scientists had long thought one of the few benefits of
higher levels of carbon dioxide, the major heat-trapping gas, was that it
made plants grow more and the world greener, Rosenzweig said. But numerous
studies show that the high levels of carbon dioxide reduce protein and
nutrients in many crops.
For example, high levels of carbon in the air in
experiments show wheat has 6% to 13% less protein, 4% to 7% less zinc and 5%
to 8% less iron, she said.
But better farming practices — such as no-till
agricultural and better targeted fertilizer applications — have the
potential to fight global warming too, reducing carbon pollution up to 18%
of current emissions levels by 2050, the report said.
If people change their diets, reducing red meat and
increasing plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and seeds, the
world can save as much as another 15% of current emissions by mid-century.
It would also make people more healthy, Rosenzweig said.
The science panel said they aren't telling people what
to eat because that's a personal choice.
Still, Hans-Otto P÷rtner, a panel leader from Germany
who said he lost weight and felt better after reducing his meat consumption,
told a reporter that if she ate less ribs and more vegetables "that's a good
decision and you will help the planet reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
Reducing food waste can fight climate change even more.
The report said that between 2010 and 2016, global food waste accounted for
8% to 10% of heat-trapping emissions.
"Currently 25%-30% of total food produced is lost or
wasted," the report said. Fixing that would free up millions of square miles
With just another 0.9 degrees F of warming (0.5 degrees
C), which could happen in the next 10 to 30 years, the risk of unstable food
supplies, wildfire damage, thawing permafrost and water shortages in dry
areas "are projected to be high," the report said.
At another 1.8 degrees F of warming (1 degree C) from
now, which could happen in about 50 years, it said those risks "are
projected to be very high."
Most scenarios predict the world's tropical regions
will have "unprecedented climatic conditions by the mid-to-late 21st
century," the report noted.
Agriculture and forestry together account for about 23%
of the heat-trapping gases that are warming the Earth, slightly less than
from cars, trucks, boats and planes. Add in transporting food, energy costs,
packaging and that grows to 37%, the report said.
But the land is also a great carbon "sink," which sucks
heat-trapping gases out of the air.
From about 2007 to 2016, agriculture and forestry every
year put 5.7 billion tons (5.2 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide into
the air, but pulled 12.3 billion tons (11.2 billion metric tons) of it out.
"This additional gift from nature is limited. It's not
going to continue forever," said study co-author Luis Verchot, a scientist
at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia. "If we
continue to degrade ecosystems, if we continue to convert natural
ecosystems, we continue to deforest and we continue to destroy our soils,
we're going to lose this natural subsidy."
Overall land emissions are increasing, especially
because of cutting down forests in the Amazon in places such as Brazil,
Colombia and Peru, Verchot said.
Recent forest management changes in Brazil "contradicts
all the messages that are coming out of the report," P÷rtner said.
Saying "our current way of living and our economic
system risks our future and the future of our children," Germany's
environment minister, Svenja Schulze, questioned whether it makes sense for
a country like Germany to import large amounts of soy from Latin America,
where forests are being destroyed to plant the crop, to feed unsustainable
numbers of livestock in Germany.
"We ought to recognize that we have profound limits on
the amount of land available and we have to be careful about how we utilize
it," said Stanford University environmental sciences chief Chris Field, who
wasn't part of the report.
AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein reported from
Washington. Frank Jordans contributed from Berlin.
Modi's vision of a Hindu India advanced by Kashmir changes
Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he speaks during an election
campaign rally of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Hyderabad, India April
1, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A., File)
By Amrit Dhillon Associated Press
New Delhi (AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi's
vision of a Hindu India has leaped forward with his government's decision to
subsume Muslim-majority Kashmir into the federal government by eliminating
its special status and allowing anyone to buy property and move into the
state, raising fears among residents that they will lose their distinct
He did so by pushing his agenda through a Parliament
that has no united opposition, presenting him with no obstacles and
suggesting that his entire Hindu nationalist agenda will enjoy a smooth
This situation favoring Modi is likely to intensify
next year when one third of the seats in the upper house of Parliament,
where his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party doesn't hold a majority,
are up for grabs. Most of the new members are expected to come from the BJP
or its allies.
"The opposition is demoralized and hasn't got the will
to put up a fight. There is no leader in Parliament to create a united
opposition. The BJP is taking advantage of that. Once it has total control
of Parliament next year, it will face no obstacles at all to its Hindu
nationalist goals," said political analyst Arati Jerath.
policemen stand guard during a curfew in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir
Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin, File)
Even the Congress party, which ruled India for nearly
half a century after independence from Britain in 1947, is rudderless and
Former Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, who resigned
as party chief after losing to Modi in May elections, criticized the "abuse
of executive power" by the ruling party and said the move would have grave
implications for national security.
But such is the drift in the party that several
Congress lawmakers tweeted their support for the BJP's maneuver on Kashmir,
flouting the party line. Members of both Congress and other parties are
deserting them for the BJP.
Analysts say the opposition has been spooked by Modi's
spectacular victory in the May general election, when he won a gigantic
mandate. The smaller parties, they say, have become timid and reluctant to
oppose the BJP.
Modi's home minister, Amit Shah, who is considered the
architect of the government's aggressive agenda to convert India from a
secular, multicultural democracy into a distinctly Hindu, culturally and
politically homogenous state, sold the new policy on Muslim-majority Kashmir
to Parliament by equating it with Pakistan, India's staunch foe.
"They don't want to be seen on the wrong side of public
sentiment, which is nationalistic at the moment. In my neighborhood, people
were celebrating on the street on Monday over Jammu and Kashmir. The buildup
of nationalist sentiment over the past five years peaked in the general
election and the opposition is nervous about opposing it," Jerath said.
In a nationally broadcast speech Thursday evening, Modi
said Kashmir's special status was being used by Pakistan to incite
anti-India sentiment in the Jammu and Kashmir region.
"I have complete faith, under this new system we all
will be able to free Jammu and Kashmir of terrorism and separatism," he
The BJP's changes in Kashmir, without any prior debate
or consultation, sailed through Parliament, suggesting Modi and Shah will be
able to roll out other controversial measures promised in their party's
election manifesto, including creating a national register of citizens that
critics say will make it easier for the government to deport Muslims of
Bangladeshi descent, and to build a Hindu temple on a site where a
500-year-old mosque was torn down by Hindu hardliners.
The Hindustan Times, one of India's largest daily
newspapers, carried an editorial on Wednesday with the headline "The
Abdication of the Opposition."
"The opposition parties failed to put up a democratic
fight even in a chamber where they collectively outnumber the BJP," it said.
Even regional parties from south India who have long
resisted tinkering from New Delhi supported the BJP bid to consolidate
federal control in Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir was downgraded
into two territories which will have limited decision-making power and no
longer be permitted to have their own constitution and flag.
of separatist People's Political Party (PPP) leader Hilal Ahmad War hold
banners and shout slogans during a protest against the visit of Indian Prime
Minister Narendra Modi in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir May 19, 2018.
(AP Photo/Dar Yasin, File)
The parties' reasons for voting to strip Kashmir of its
special status varied. Vijay Sai Reddy, a member of Parliament for the YSR
Congress party from the state of Andhra Pradesh, explained his vote for the
measure by asking "How one country can have two constitutions? We can't
support that," he said.
Ravindra Kumar, a Telegu Desam Party MP from the same
state, said that Kashmir having its own constitution and flag gave it
"special powers that are discriminatory."
"Our party believes that all the people in the country
should have equal rights," Kumar said.
Apart from fear of bucking the mood of nationalism
sweeping some parts of India, another reason for so few opposition parties
putting up any resistance is the fear of antagonizing a strong federal
government in New Delhi, and losing out on money for their states, said
Mihir Sharma, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Observer Research
"It is the federal government's purse strings they're
interested in loosening," Sharma said.
Paramilitary soldiers stand guard near a temporary barbwire check post set
up on a bridge during curfew in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir Aug. 6,
2019. (AP Photo/ Dar Yasin)
Paris child at risk of lead poisoning after Notre Dame fire
Environmental groups and unionists attend a news
conference to warn against lead particles polluting the air in the area, and
ask for a regularly updated chart showing pollution levels in Paris, France,
Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. Hundreds of tons of toxic lead in Notre Dame's spire
and roof melted during the April fire. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
PARIS (AP) — Health officials in
Paris said Wednesday that a young boy needs medical monitoring because tests
conducted after the Notre Dame Cathedral fire showed that he was at risk of
The child, who was tested last week,
doesn't need treatment yet, the Regional Health Authority said in a
statement late Tuesday. Checks are being conducted to determine whether the
lead came from the April 15 fire or another source.
The child's school, near the
cathedral, was closed in July due to high lead levels found on its grounds.
A total of 162 children have been
tested for lead in Paris after hundreds of tons of lead in Notre Dame's
spire and roof melted in the blaze. Sixteen of those were deemed to be just
short of being "at risk" and will also be monitored as a precaution.
The results "show, on the one hand,
the need to keep cleaning to limit the risk of exposure of the children to
lead and, on the other hand, the importance of extending blood tests," the
health authority said.
Authorities in June recommended
blood tests for children under 7 and pregnant women who live near Notre Dame
as they are especially vulnerable to health problems from lead poisoning and
Critics say authorities didn't move
fast enough to protect workers and residents from lead pollution.
Decontamination work at Notre Dame,
the square in front of the cathedral and adjacent streets was suspended last
month under pressure from labor inspectors concerned about lead risks.
The culture minister, who's in
charge of Notre Dame, said work will resume next week with tougher new
One technique involves spreading a
gel on the ground to absorb the lead. It will need to dry for at least three
days before being removed. Another method will feature high pressure water
jets with chemical agents to clean the soil, the culture ministry said.
Authorities said last month the main
focus was ensuring that the work doesn't generate any pollution outside the
Levels of lead remain exceptionally
high at some spots inside the cathedral and in the soil of the adjacent
streets, park and forecourt, according to the regional health agency. Those
areas have been closed to the public since April 15.
However, no dangerous levels have
been registered in other nearby streets, where tourists and residents
continue to gather and souvenir shops and restaurants have reopened.
Russia's military drone makes successful maiden flight
In this video grab made
available on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019 by Russian Defense Ministry Press
Service, Russia's military drone Okhotnik is seen taking off at an
unidentified location in Russia. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via
— The Russian military says a heavy drone it's developing has made a
successful maiden flight.
The Defense Ministry on Wednesday
released a video showing the Okhotnik (Hunter) taking off, performing
maneuvers and landing. The ministry has said that the drone, which has
advanced reconnaissance and stealth capabilities, first flew for 20 minutes
The wedge-shaped heavy drone
developed by the Sukhoi company is a major leap compared to other unmanned
aerial vehicles previously developed in Russia. The project has been veiled
in secrecy, but Russian media reports claimed that the new drone weighs 20
tons loaded and has a range of up to 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles).
The single-engine Okhotnik bears a
visual resemblance to Lockheed Martin U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel drone.
German production drops in June in latest sign of weakness
A cleaning machine is seen behind rain drops on a car
window is it cleans the Roemerberg square in Frankfurt, Germany, on a rainy
Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
— German industrial production dropped significantly for the second time in
three months in June, the latest sign of weakness from Europe's biggest
economy. Wednesday's report fueled expectations of an overall decline in the
Production was down 1.5% compared
with the previous month. That followed a 2% decline in April and a 0.1% gain
in May, and was a worse performance that the 0.6% drop economists had
Second-quarter economic growth
figures are due on Aug. 14. Germany's economy is believed to have turned in
a feeble performance in the March-June period after returning to growth in
the winter, and recent data have underscored that — even though official
data showed that factory orders increased by an unexpectedly strong 2.5% in
June thanks to bulk orders from outside the eurozone.
For the second quarter as a whole,
industrial production was 1.8% lower than in the January-March period, with
the key auto and machinery sectors contributing to the decline. Factory
orders also dropped by 1% on a quarter-on-quarter basis, though that was
better than the 4.2% slide in the first quarter.
ING economist Carsten Brzeski
described the latest production report as "devastating, with no silver
lining" and a sign that gross domestic product likely contracted in the
second quarter — unless exports turn out to have been better than expected.
"The combination of high inventories
and few orders at hand does not bode well for industrial production in the
months ahead," he said. "Add to this a further escalation of the current
trade conflicts, Brexit and an ongoing structural transformation in the
automotive sector and the outlook doesn't look any better."
Hundreds of poor migrant workers flee Kashmir under lockdown
Indian migrant laborers carry their luggage and prepare
to leave the region, at a railway station in Jammu, India, Wednesday, Aug.
7, 2019. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Anand Associated Press
Jammu, India (AP) — Hit by a
complete security lockdown in Kashmir, hundreds of poor migrant workers have
begun fleeing the Himalayan region to return to their far-away villages in
northern and eastern India.
Some complained on Wednesday that
their Kashmiri employers didn't pay them any salary as security forces began
imposing tight travel restrictions over the weekend and asked them to leave
Authorities in Hindu-majority India
clamped a complete shutdown on Kashmir as they scrapped the Muslim-majority
state's special status, including exclusive hereditary rights and a separate
constitution, and divided it into two territories.
The Kashmir region is divided
between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both. The two nuclear-armed
neighbors have fought three wars, two of them over control of Kashmir, since
they won independence from British colonialists in 1947.
Pakistan announced Wednesday that it
is downgrading its diplomatic ties with India and suspending bilateral trade
in response to New Delhi's decision to reduce Kashmir's special status.
On Wednesday, workers crowded the
railroad station at Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir state, as
they waited for trains bound for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. They
carried their belongings on their heads and under their arms, tied in
Jagdish Mathur, a worker, said many
people walked for miles (kilometers) on a highway and hitched rides on army
trucks and buses from Srinagar to Jammu, a distance of 260 kilometers (160
"We haven't eaten properly for the
past four days," said Mathur, adding that he doesn't have money to buy a
rail ticket to take him to his village in eastern Bihar state. "The
government should help me."
Surjit Singh, a carpenter, told the
New Delhi television channel that he was returning home because of Kashmir's
Every year, tens of thousands of
people travel to Kashmir from various Indian states looking for work, mainly
masonry, carpentry and agriculture. Whenever the security situation
deteriorates, they return homes.
Insurgent groups have been fighting
for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan since
1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge
Troops lock down Kashmir as India votes to strip its status
paramilitary soldier guards during security lockdown in Jammu, India,
Tuesday, Aug.6, 2019. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
New Delhi (AP) — Indian lawmakers passed a bill
Tuesday that strips the statehood from the Indian-administered portion of
Muslim-majority Kashmir amid an indefinite security lockdown in the disputed
Himalayan territory, actions that neighboring Pakistan warned could lead to
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led
government submitted the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill for a vote by
the lower house of Parliament a day after the surprise measure was
introduced alongside a presidential order. That order dissolved a
constitutional provision, known as Article 370, which gave Kashmiris
exclusive hereditary rights and a separate constitution.
"After five years, seeing development in J&K (Jammu and
Kashmir) under the leadership of PM Modi, people of the valley will
understand drawbacks of Article 370," Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said
just before the bill was passed.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both
claim the region in its entirety, although each of them controls only parts
of it. Two of the three wars the nuclear-armed neighbors have fought since
their independence from British rule were over Kashmir.
How the 7 million people in the Kashmir Valley were
reacting was unclear, because the Indian government shut off most
communication with it, including internet, cellphone and landline networks.
Thousands of troops were deployed to the restive region amid fears that the
government's steps could spark unrest.
Tensions also have soared along the Line of Control,
the volatile, highly militarized frontier that divides Kashmir between India
Hundreds of people in various parts of Pakistan and in
its part of Kashmir rallied against Modi, burning him in effigy and torching
Indian flags to condemn India's moves.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an address
to Parliament on Tuesday night that he feared the Kashmiri people, angered
over India's decision to strip the region of its special status, could
attack Indian security forces and that New Delhi could blame Pakistan for
"If India attacks us, we will respond," Khan said. "We
will fight until the last drop of blood."
In February, a bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir
killed 40 Indian troops. India responded with an airstrike inside Pakistan,
blaming a Pakistani group for the attack.
On Tuesday, the Pakistani military was on high alert
following reports that New Delhi was continuing to send additional troops to
the region. Pakistan's top military commanders met in the garrison city of
Rawalpindi to discuss the changes in Kashmir.
China, which also lays claim to a portion of Kashmir,
is "seriously concerned" about the situation, foreign ministry spokeswoman
Hua Chunying said.
"China's position on the Kashmir issue is clear and
consistent. It is also an international consensus that the Kashmir issue is
an issue left from the past between India and Pakistan. The relevant sides
need to exercise restraint and act prudently. In particular, they should
refrain from taking actions that will unilaterally change the status quo and
escalate tensions," she said.
India's lower house ratified the bill, which strips the
status of Jammu and Kashmir from a state to a union territory with a
legislature, and carves out Buddhist-majority Ladakh, a pristine, sparsely
populated area that stretches from the Siachen Glacier to the Himalayas, as
a separate union territory without a legislature.
The upper house approved the bill by a two-thirds
majority, with many opposition lawmakers voting with the ruling
Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
Indian TV news channels in Srinagar, Kashmir's main
city, showed security personnel including armed soldiers in camouflage
standing near barbed wire barricades in the otherwise empty streets.
Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbagh
Singh said Srinagar was "totally peaceful," the Press Trust of India news
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all
parties to show restraint, said spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
"We are following with concern the tense situation in
the region," Dujarric said. "We're also aware of reports of restrictions on
the Indian side of Kashmir, and we urge all parties to exercise restraint."
US carrier sails into disputed waters amid new flare-ups
fighter jet takes off from the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in
the South China Sea Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
South China Sea (AP) — A U.S. aircraft carrier
sailed through the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday in the latest show of
America's military might amid new territorial flare-ups involving China and
three rival claimant states.
The U.S. Navy flew a small group of Philippine
generals, officials and journalists to the USS Ronald Reagan, where they
watched fighter jets landing and taking off by catapult with thunderous
blasts. The nuclear-powered carrier, carrying about 70 supersonic F/A-18
jets, spy planes and helicopters, was en route to Manila for a port visit.
Armed cruisers kept watch a few miles (kilometers) away
from the carrier.
"The motto of this carrier is peace through strength,"
Rear Adm. Karl Thomas told journalists.
He said the American military presence helps provide
security and stability that foster diplomatic talks among rival claimant
nations. He made the comment when asked what message the warship's presence
was sending amid new tensions involving China and rival claimants Vietnam,
Malaysia and the Philippines over long-contested territories.
"We just think that folks should follow the
international law and our presence allows us to provide that security and
stability in the background for these discussions to take place," Thomas
China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and
Brunei have been locked in on-and-off territorial conflicts over the
strategic waters, where a bulk of Asian and world commerce transits, for
decades. Tensions rose to new highs when China transformed seven disputed
reefs in the Spratly chain into islands and then installed a missile-defense
system, runways and hangars.
Last month, Washington expressed concerns over China's
"repeated provocative actions aimed at the offshore oil and gas development
of other claimant states."
Vietnam has demanded that China remove a survey ship
from Vanguard Bank, which it says lies within Vietnam's 200-mile exclusive
economic zone. China has had a dispute with Malaysia over Luconia Shoal and
Manila protested after a Chinese fishing vessel hit a fishing boat with 22
Filipinos at Reed Bank and left as it sank at night in June. The Filipinos
were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.
Greg Poling, director of the Washington-based Asia
Maritime Transparency Initiative, which tracks actions by rival states in
the disputed waters, said China is using its artificial islands to bolster
its vast claims and allow its navy, coast guard and militia vessels "to
operate over every inch of the South China Sea in a way they never could
China's assertive actions will also undermine
negotiations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on
a so-called code of conduct to check aggressive actions in the disputed
waters, according to Carl Thayer, another South China Sea expert.
The 10-nation ASEAN bloc includes four nations
contesting China's territorial claims. Chinese President Xi Jinping has
expressed hope the proposed code may be concluded in three years.
"One must ask what will be left for ASEAN claimant
states to negotiate if China continues to control access to fishing grounds
and hydrocarbon exploration," Thayer said.
Philippines declares dengue outbreak a national epidemic
Health Secretary Dr. Francisco Duque III is shown in this April 30, 2019
file photo. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Manila, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines'
Department of Health on Tuesday declared the country's outbreak of dengue to
be a national epidemic.
The agency said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III
made the declaration to improve the response to the outbreak by allowing
local governments to draw on a special Quick Response Fund.
It said the Philippines recorded 146,062 cases of
dengue from January through July 20 this year, 98% more than the same period
in 2018. It said the outbreak caused 622 deaths.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection found in
tropical countries worldwide. It can cause joint pain, nausea, vomiting and
a rash, and can cause breathing problems, hemorrhaging and organ failure in
severe cases. While there is no specific treatment for the illness, medical
care to maintain a person's fluid levels is seen as critical.
The Department of Health said that starting Tuesday, it
was conducting a campaign to focus on finding and destroying mosquito
breeding sites, which is a primary means of containing dengue. Other
government agencies, local government units, schools, offices and
communities will join in the effort, it said.
Other Southeast Asian countries have also reported an
upsurge in dengue cases this year, according to the U.N.'s World Health
Organization. The organization said Malaysia had registered 62,421 cases
through June 29, including 93 deaths, compared to 32,425 cases with 53
deaths for the same period last year. Vietnam over the same period had
81,132 cases with four deaths reported, compared to 26,201 cases including
six deaths in 2018.
In South Asia, Bangladesh has been facing its
worst-ever dengue fever outbreak, putting a severe strain on the country's
already overwhelmed medical system.
12 injured, 1 missing in Russia's military depot fire
photo taken on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, a family watches explosions at a
military ammunition depot near the city of Achinsk in eastern Siberia's
Krasnoyarsk region, in Achinsk, Russia. (AP Photo/Dmitry Dub)
Moscow (AP) — Powerful explosions at a military
depot in Siberia have injured 12 people and left one missing, and forced
over 16,500 people to leave their homes, officials said Tuesday.
A fire erupted Monday at an ammunition depot near the
city of Achinsk in eastern Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region, triggering massive
blasts that continued for about 16 hours.
Russia's Defense Ministry said the explosions ended
early Tuesday and 10 heavy-lift transport planes and 8 helicopters began
dropping water on the depot.
The Emergencies Ministry said that 9,533 people have
been evacuated from the area 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the depot and
about 7,000 fled on their own as massive explosions sent plumes of black
smoke high into the skies.
Officials said Tuesday that 12 people were injured and
one person is missing and feared dead.
The authorities suspended air traffic within 30
kilometers (19 miles) of the munitions site, halted train movement and
blocked highways around the area.
They lifted the air traffic ban Tuesday after the
Officials didn't immediately announce the cause of the
fire, the latest in a series of blazes at Russian military arsenals over the
past few years.
Car bomb collides with vehicles in Egypt capital, killing 20
survey the aftermath of a fiery car crash outside the National Cancer
Institute in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
Cairo (AP) — A car packed with explosives being
driven to carry out an attack collided with other vehicles and exploded in
central Cairo, killing at least 20 people, the Interior Ministry said
Monday, the deadliest attack in the Egyptian capital in over two years.
The blast went off Sunday night on the busy Corniche
boulevard along the Nile River, setting other cars on fire and injuring at
least 47. It damaged Egypt's main cancer hospital nearby, shattering parts
of the facade and some rooms inside, forcing the evacuation of dozens of
Authorities had initially said the explosion was caused
by a multi-vehicle accident. But later Monday, the Interior Ministry
acknowledged that a car bomb was involved.
It accused a militant group known as Hasm, which has
links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, saying it was moving the car to
carry out an attack elsewhere. The ministry did not say what the intended
target was. The car had been stolen months earlier in the Nile Delta, it
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called it a "terrorist
incident" in a tweet, expressing condolences for the dead and vowed to "face
and root out terrorism."
The attack is the deadliest in Cairo since a bombing at
a chapel adjacent to Egypt's main Coptic Christian cathedral killed 30
people during Sunday Mass in December 2016. That attack was claimed by
Egypt's affiliate of the Islamic State group.
Smaller bombings, usually by roadside devices, have
taken place more often, targeting security forces and in two cases tourists
near the Pyramids. Car bombs, however, have been far rarer in the capital.
For years, Egypt has battled Islamic militants, led by
an IS affiliate, in the Sinai Peninsula. That insurgency has at times
spilled over into other parts of the country.
Militant attacks increased after el-Sissi, as defence
minister, led the military's 2013 ouster of then-President Mohammed Morsi, a
Brotherhood leader, after massive protests against his rule. Since then, the
government has waged a major crackdown on the Brotherhood, banning it and
declaring it a terrorist organization. Morsi collapsed and died in a Cairo
courtroom in June.
Sunday's blast damaged the cancer hospital's main gate
and several patient rooms and wards, according to a statement from the Cairo
University, whose medical school uses the institution as an educational
facility. Windows and glass doors on the hospital building were shattered.
"Parts of the ceiling of the hospital were collapsing
as I got out of my room," said one patient, Mahmoud el-Sayed. "People were
running everywhere and shouting."
At least 78 patients were evacuated to other hospitals.
The Health Ministry did not say whether any patients or hospital staff were
among the casualties.
Multiple vehicles on the street were damaged, burning
those inside, said another witness, Mohamed Ashraf. "People were struggling
to get the passengers out," he said.
In its initial account of the explosion, the Interior
Ministry, which oversees the police, said a vehicle was driving against
traffic on the boulevard and collided with up to three other cars, causing
an explosion. It didn't elaborate when it later announced the car bomb, and
it was not clear which vehicle in that scenario was the vehicle with
The police quickly cordoned off the area of the crash,
as prosecutors began an investigation. Unidentified body parts were being
collected in a body bag from the site, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in TV
The hospital is close to Cairo's Tahrir Square, which
became known internationally as the scene of mass protests in the 2011
uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
After the blast, some patients with appointments Monday
were left stranded, waiting outside the hospital with their relatives. Ahmed
Ramadan, a farmer, had brought his daughter from their home 145 kilometers
(90 miles) south of Cairo for chemotherapy.
"We do not know where to go," he said.
A day of striking sows chaos across Hong Kong
throws back a tear gas canister in Hong Kong on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. (AP
Yanan Wang and Christopher Bodeen
Hong Kong (AP) — A general strike in Hong Kong
descended into citywide mayhem Monday as defiant protesters started fires
outside police stations and hurled bricks and eggs at officers. After
disrupting traffic early in the day, they filled public parks and squares in
several districts, refusing to disperse even as police repeatedly fired tear
gas and rubber bullets from above.
While previous large rallies over the past two months
of anti-government protests have generally been held on weekends, Monday's
strike paralyzed city operations in an effort to draw more attention to the
Hong Kong is on "the verge of a very dangerous
situation," said Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who insisted that she has no
plans to resign.
Lam said at a news conference that the protests had
"ulterior motives" that threaten Hong Kong's prosperity and security. "I
don't think at this point in time, resignation of myself or some of my
colleagues would provide a better solution," she said.
Protesters challenged law enforcement in at least eight
districts, responding to continuous rounds of tear gas with practiced
swiftness. They lobbed the canisters back at police and yelled invectives.
When police arrived, the protesters clacked their umbrellas together and
pounded on metal street signs, daring the officers to move closer.
"Gangsters!" they jeered at the riot police. "Reclaim
Hong Kong, revolution of our time."
In one neighborhood after nightfall, a band of men
wielding wooden poles charged protesters from behind a thin road lane
divider. The demonstrators fought back by throwing traffic cones, metal
barricades and rods. Hong Kong media also reported a brawl in a different
district where men with knives slashed at protesters.
In another neighborhood, demonstrators besieged police
headquarters in what they called a "flash mob." They threw bricks and
flaming bottles at the building before rapidly retreating.
The violence followed a day of striking that sparked
bedlam throughout the city. Protesters started early, with the aim of
hampering the morning rush hour. In the subway, they blocked train and
platform doors, activated emergency alarms and threw objects onto the
A high number of strikers in the airline industry also
led to more than 77 flight cancellations, according to the airport
"Too much," said 52-year-old John Chan, whose flight to
Singapore was cancelled. "Why do they have to create trouble for people not
involved in their cause? Hong Kong is sinking. The government, police and
protest people have to stop fighting and give us a break."
The strike was the latest action in a summer of fiery
demonstrations that began in response to proposed extradition legislation
that would have allowed some suspects to be sent to mainland China for
While the government has since suspended the bill,
protesters have pressed on with broader calls for it to be scrapped
entirely, along with demands for democratic reforms including the
dissolution of the current legislature and an investigation into alleged
police brutality. In recent weeks, footage has shown police officers beating
protesters and ignoring calls for help during a mob attack that left 44
injured in a commuter rail station.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to
China in 1997 under a framework of "one country, two systems," which
promised the city certain democratic freedoms not afforded to the mainland.
With the arrests of booksellers and activists in recent years, however, some
Hong Kong residents feel that Beijing has been eroding their rights.
The Communist Party-led central government in Beijing
has condemned what it calls violent and radical protesters who have
vandalized the Chinese national emblem and more recently thrown the
country's flag into the iconic Victoria Harbour. China has accused unnamed
"foreign forces" of inflaming the demonstrations out of a desire to contain
the country's development.
CCTV, China's state broadcaster, warned Monday that the
"maniacs and thugs" will "pay a price."
"Please become aware of your errors, turn back from
your incorrect path and set down the butcher's knives," said an editorial
read aloud on the noon news program.
A slick publicity video released last week by the
Chinese army garrison regularly stationed in Hong Kong fed speculation that
Beijing will deploy the military to quell the mass demonstrations. But Kong
Wing-cheung, a police spokesman, said the city's officers are fully
supported by the government and there will be no need to deploy the
More than 400 protesters have been arrested since June
9, when a massive march drew more than 1 million people and launched the
protest movement. Those being held, who range in age from 14 to 76, face
charges including rioting, unlawful assembly, possessing offensive weapons
and assaulting officers and obstructing police operations, said spokeswoman
Yolanda Yu Hoi-kwan.
Yu said police have used 1,000 tear gas grenades and
fired more than 300 non-lethal bullets. More than 100 officers have been
injured. Yu added that violence has been escalating, with protesters using
gasoline bombs and fire.
"If we continue to tolerate and turn a blind eye to
lawless behavior, the consequences will be undesirable for our citizens,"
As demonstrators were marching through a business
district Monday afternoon, some separated from the line and stopped to
heckle a police officer in a watchtower. One person in a balaclava started
throwing bricks at the lookout.
A man on his way home from work peered at the scene
with a look of anguish.
The 40-year-old I.T. worker named Edward Chan said he
couldn't go on strike because he feared judgment from his superiors. He
added he's tormented by thoughts of the kind of Hong Kong his 12-year-old
daughter will inherit.
Tears welled as he watched the ragtag young protesters
stream past in their gas masks and helmets. "If we put them all in jail, how
will their parents feel?" he asked. "Where will our future go?"
Malaysian police looking for missing 15-year-old London girl
General Operations Force arrive to join a search operation for a missing
15-year-old London schoolgirl at The Dusun resort in Seremban, Negeri
Sembilan, Malaysia, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
Kuala Lumpur (AP) — Police in Malaysia said
Monday they are investigating the disappearance of a 15-year-old London
girl, but there were no initial indications of foul play.
The family of Nora Quoirin says her father discovered
her missing from her bedroom Sunday morning at a resort hotel in a nature
reserve 63 kilometers (39 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur, with the window left
The Lucie Blackman Trust, a British charity supporting
people during a crisis overseas, quoted the girl's aunt as saying the family
considers her disappearance a criminal matter.
The girl's parents are an Irish-French couple, but have
been living in London for about 20 years, the group said in a statement
posted on its Facebook page. It is dealing with the media on behalf of the
The aunt, Aisling Agnew, said from Belfast that the
15-year old was especially vulnerable because she has learning and
"Nora would not know how to get help and would never
leave her family voluntarily," said Agnew. "We now consider this a criminal
matter. We are appealing to everyone to assist the local police in any way
they can and to pass on any information that would help locate our beloved
Nora without delay."
Che Zakaria Bin Othman, the deputy police chief for
Negeri Sembilan, the state the girl's family was visiting, said "So far,
there's no indication of foul play; however, the investigation is still
He said he and the police chief met Sunday and Monday
with the missing girl's family and officials from the embassies of Ireland
"All officials are still up there at the hotel, we
discussed with them all, and God willing, we will continue the search until
it is successful," he said.
The Lucie Blackman Trust gave a somewhat different
account of the police evaluation of the disappearance.
Citing information that it said came from Nora's
family, it stated on its Facebook page that "Contrary to several reports
that police are NOT treating Nora's disappearance as an abduction, the
family have been told directly by police that they are treating it as both
an abduction and missing persons case."
British Airways flight evacuated after filling with smoke
emergency services say that they have responded to a British Airways flight
that filled with smoke while landing at Valencia airport, (AP Photo/Frank
Madrid (AP) — Spanish emergency services say
they have responded to a British Airways flight that filled with smoke while
landing and had to evacuate its passengers.
News agency Europa Press said Monday that local
government officials reported that three people have been treated for smoke
inhalation and another 10 to 12 were treated for knocks received when they
slid down inflatable emergency slides after arriving at the airport in the
eastern city of Valencia.
Emergency services for the regional government of
Valencia say they received an alert that one of the plane's engines had
caught fire. Responders only saw smoke when they got to the airport.
An airline spokesman said: "We can confirm that British
Airways flight BA422 from Heathrow to Valencia has been involved in an
9 killed in Ohio in second US mass shooting within 24 hours
piled outside the scene of a mass shooting including Ned Peppers bar,
Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Dan Sewell and John Minchillo
Dayton, Ohio (AP) — A shooter in body armor and
carrying extra magazines opened fire early Sunday in a popular nightlife
area of Dayton, Ohio, killing nine and injuring dozens before being slain by
police, authorities say, in the second U.S. mass shooting in less than 24
Police patrolling the area responded in less than a
minute to the shooting, which unfolded around 1 a.m. on the streets of
downtown Dayton's Oregon District, Mayor Nan Whaley said.
Had police not responded so quickly, "hundreds of
people in the Oregon District could be dead today," Whaley said.
The historic neighborhood that police Lt. Col. Matt
Carper described as "a safe part of downtown," is home to bars, restaurants
The suspected shooter, who has not been identified, was
shot to death by responding officers. Whaley said the shooter was carrying a
.223-caliber rifle and had additional high-capacity magazines. Police
believe there was only one shooter, and also have not yet given a motive for
Whaley said at least 27 people were treated for
injuries, and at least 15 of those have been released. Several more remain
in serious or critical condition, local hospital officials said at a news
They said some people suffered multiple gunshot wounds,
and others suffered injuries as they fled.
Nikita Papillon, 23, was across the street at Newcom's
Tavern when the shooting started. She said she saw a girl she had talked to
earlier lying outside Ned Peppers Bar.
"She had told me she liked my outfit and thought I was
cute, and I told her I liked her outfit and I thought she was cute,"
Papillon said. She herself had been to Ned Peppers the night before,
describing it as the kind of place "where you don't have to worry about
someone shooting up the place."
"People my age, we don't think something like this is
going to happen," she said. "And when it happens, words can't describe it."
Tianycia Leonard, 28, was in the back, smoking, at
Newcom's. She heard "loud thumps" that she initially thought was someone
pounding on a dumpster.
"It was so noisy, but then you could tell it was
gunshots and there was a lot of rounds," Leonard said.
Staff of an Oregon District bar called Ned Peppers said
in a Facebook post that they were left shaken and confused by the shooting.
The bar said a bouncer was treated for shrapnel wounds.
A message seeking further comment was left with staff.
President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting and
praised law enforcement's speedy response in a tweet Sunday.
Gov. Mike DeWine issued his own statement, announcing
that he ordered flags in Ohio remain at half-staff and offering assistance
to Whaley and prayers for the victims.
Whaley said she has been in touch with the White House,
though not Trump directly, and with DeWine. She said more than 50 other
mayors also have reached out to her.
The FBI is assisting with the investigation.
A family assistance center was set up at the Dayton
Convention Center, where people seeking information on victims arrived in a
steady trickle throughout the morning, many in their Sunday best, others
looking bedraggled from a sleepless night. Some local pastors were on hand
to offer support, as were comfort dogs.
The Ohio shooting came hours after a young man opened
fire in a crowded El Paso, Texas, shopping area, leaving 20 dead and more
than two dozen injured. Just days before, on July 28, a 19-year-old shot and
killed three people, including two children, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival
in Northern California.
Sunday's shooting in Dayton is the 22nd mass killing of
2019 in the U.S., according to the AP/USA Today/Northeastern University mass
murder database that tracks homicides where four or more people were killed
— not including the offender. The 20 mass killings in the U.S. in 2019 that
preceded this weekend claimed 96 lives.
Whaley said the Oregon District is expected to reopen
Sunday afternoon, and a vigil is planned Sunday evening. The minor league
Dayton Dragons who play in nearby Fifth Third Field postponed their Sunday
afternoon game against the Lake County Captains "due to this morning's
The shooting in Dayton comes after the area was heavily
damaged when tornadoes swept through western Ohio in late May, destroying or
damaging hundreds of homes and businesses.
"Dayton has been through a lot already this year, and I
continue to be amazed by the grit and resiliency of our community," Whaley
Hong Kong protests disrupt flights, subways as strike called
with protective gear take a train to the anti-extradition bill protest
destination, in Hong Kong on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Hong Kong (AP) — At least 100 flights were
cancelled and subway service widely disrupted in Hong Kong on Monday as a
pro-democracy movement called for a general strike.
Cathay Pacific and other domestic carriers such as Hong
Kong Airlines were the most affected by the flight cancellations, public
broadcaster RTHK said. Airport express train service was also suspended.
A citywide strike and demonstrations in seven districts
in Hong Kong have been called for Monday afternoon. They follow a weekend of
clashes with police on the streets.
Hong Kong has seen protests all summer. A movement
against an extradition bill that would have allowed residents to be sent to
mainland China to stand trial has expanded into demands for an investigation
into alleged police abuse at protests and the dissolution of the
legislature. Protesters also want full democracy for the semi-autonomous
Protesters snarled the morning rush hour by blocking
train and platform doors to prevent trains from leaving stations.
Subway and train operator MTR said Monday that service
had been partially suspended on five lines because of a number of door
It's the third time in three weeks that protesters have
disrupted train service.
Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam called a morning news
conference ahead of what could be a chaotic day in her city.
Nuon Chea, ideologue of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, dies at 93
In this Nov.
16, 2018 file photo, Nuon Chea, who was the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologist
and No. 2 leader, sits in a court room before a hearing at the U.N.-backed
war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.(Mark Peters/Extraordinary
Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia via AP)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia (AP) — Nuon Chea, the chief
ideologue of the communist Khmer Rouge regime that destroyed a generation of
Cambodians, died Sunday, the country's U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal said.
He was 93.
Nuon Chea was known as Brother No. 2, the right-hand
man of Pol Pot, the leader of the regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to
1979. The group's fanatical efforts to realize a utopian society led to the
death of some 1.7 million people — more than a quarter of the country's
population at the time — from starvation, disease, overwork and executions.
Researchers believe Nuon Chea was responsible for the
extremist policies of the Khmer Rouge and was directly involved in its
purges and executions.
He was serving life in prison after convictions by the
U.N.-backed tribunal on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war
But Nuon Chea never admitted his guilt.
At the long-awaited Khmer Rouge trials, he told a court
that he and his comrades were not "bad people," denying responsibility for
For decades after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Nuon
Chea lived quietly with his family in a wooden house in Pailin, a former
guerrilla stronghold near the border with Thailand.
"I wasn't a war criminal," he said in a 2004 interview
with The Associated Press. "I admit that there was a mistake. But I had my
ideology. I wanted to free my country. I wanted people to have well-being."
He was arrested in 2007 to face trial along with other
surviving but ailing top Khmer Rouge leaders, and charged with crimes
against humanity, genocide, religious persecution, homicide and torture.
Three decades after his accused crimes, Nuon Chea took
the stand as an old man with white hair and sunken cheeks. Frail from a
variety of health problems — including high blood pressure, heart problems
and cataracts — he peered over eyeglasses as he defiantly defended the
regime he served.
"I don't want the next generation to misunderstand
history. I don't want them to believe the Khmer Rouge are bad people, are
criminals," Nuon Chea testified in 2011 at the age of 85. "Nothing is true
During his testimony, he insisted that the regime was
not responsible for any atrocities and reiterated long-standing Khmer Rouge
claims that mass graves found after the Khmer Rouge were ousted from power
held the bodies of people killed by Vietnamese troops.
"These war crimes and crimes against humanity were not
committed by the Cambodian people," Nuon Chea said. "It was the Vietnamese
who killed Cambodians."
Vietnam, a onetime communist ally of the Khmer Rouge,
suffered several bloody attacks from them and finally struck back in late
1978, chasing the Khmer Rouge from power in early 1979 and installing a
client regime of former members of the Khmer Rouge who had split with the
group. One of them was Cambodia's current prime minister, Hun Sen.
Nuon Chea's fellow defendants also denied any
wrongdoing: Khieu Samphan, the regime's former head of state, who also told
the court he bore no responsibility for atrocities, and Ieng Sary, the
regime's former foreign minister. Ieng Sary died before the trials
concluded, but Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea were found guilty in the
tribunal's final verdicts in November 2018.
At one point before his arrest, Nuon Chea told
journalists that he had become an adherent of Buddhism — an irony for the
man who served a regime that abolished religion and turned Buddhist
monasteries into sites for torture and execution.
Nuon Chea was born on July 7, 1926, to a wealthy
Sino-Cambodian family in Battambang province in northwestern Cambodia. He
studied law at Thammasat University in Thailand.
In an interview with government agents a year after his
surrender in 1998, Nuon Chea said he joined the communist movement in
Thailand in 1950. Other sources say he became a communist in 1948 and
returned to Cambodia a year later.
That was a time when communist and nationalist groups,
struggling to oust French colonialists, were gaining strength in Cambodia,
Laos and Vietnam.
Nuon Chea said in that interview that he and Saloth
Sar, Pol Pot's real name, played key roles in building up a homegrown
movement free from the dominance of Vietnam, which was to become the Khmer
In its early stages, that movement was largely in
disarray, facing constant threats from authorities and having neither a
clear strategy nor adequate resources, according to Nuon Chea.
Nuon Chea said he and Pol Pot worked together in
mapping out "a strategic path and tactics" that the party adopted at a
clandestine congress at the Phnom Penh railway station in September 1960.
"Marxism-Leninism was the goal of the party, which had
to be built from the countryside up. Rural areas were the basis for cities
to rely on and ignite" the revolution, Nuon Chea said.
After coming to power in 1975 following a brutal war,
the Khmer Rouge evicted people from cities and turned the country into a
vast labor camp.
For a movement known for paranoia and secrecy, Nuon
Chea was as shadowy as Pol Pot, or even more so, according to historians.
"Except for Nuon Chea, Pol Pot was the least accessible
Cambodian leader since World War II," David Chandler, an American scholar on
Cambodia, wrote in "Brother Number One," a biography of Pol Pot.
Researchers say he was the chief ideologue responsible
for devising the Khmer Rouge's most brutal policies, notably at Tuol Sleng —
or S-21 — prison, which is now a genocide museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's
capital. Some 16,000 men, women and children passed through the prison's
gate before being tortured and executed.
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of
Cambodia, which researches Khmer Rouge crimes, said strong evidence links
Nuon Chea to the killings. He said the 800,000 documents about the country's
holocaust his center has gathered include many that incriminate Nuon Chea.
"He was born like all of us, but he was driven by power
and he later committed crimes against his own people," Youk Chhang said
After being ousted from power in 1979, the Khmer Rouge
waged guerrilla warfare for another two decades before disintegrating. Pol
Pot died in the jungle in 1998, and on Christmas Eve that year, Nuon Chea
and Khieu Samphan surrendered.
Prime Minister Hun Sen welcomed the duo at his home and
gave them and family members a beach holiday, providing sports utility
vehicles and security escorts.
When asked at the time who was to blame for the
massacres under his regime, Nuon Chea told a news conference, "Let's
consider that an old issue."
Indonesian capital hit by massive 8-hour power outage
navigate through traffic during a power outage in Jakarta, Indonesia,
Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's sprawling
capital and other parts of Java island were hit by a widespread power outage
on Sunday that affected tens of millions of people.
The eight-hour blackout began at around noon and caused
disruptions in cellphone services and cash machines. The new mass subway
system in Jakarta, the capital, had to shut down.
Muhammad Kamal, the spokesman for the company that
operates the subway system, said the company managed to safely evacuate all
of the passengers who were stuck in trains during the blackout.
Television footage showed that traffic lights went off
in Jakarta and other parts of Java, causing traffic problems.
State-owned electricity company PLN's spokesman Made
Suprateka said in a statement that the blackout was caused by problems with
a gas turbine at a major power plant and by a disruption at another facility
on Java. He said authorities were investigating the cause of the trips in
The outage hit not only the Jakarta metropolitan area,
but also several other regions on Java.
Jakarta is a congested, polluted and sprawling
metropolis of 10 million that swells to three times that number when
counting those living in the larger metropolitan area. Java is one of the
world's most densely populated islands, home to more than 150 million people
— more than half of Indonesia's population of 267 million.
Civil servants join Hong Kong protests as Beijing accuses US
gather at a demonstration by civil servants in Hong Kong Friday, Aug. 2,
2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Yanan Wang and Christopher Bodeen
Hong Kong (AP) — Hong Kong civil servants and
supporters crowded into a public park Friday to join a pro-democracy
movement that China's top diplomat accused Western nations of provoking.
Several thousand joined the rally for government
workers in solidarity with protesters who have called for greater rights and
government accountability over the past two months. As rain hit the
umbrella-ready crowd, attendees dispersed willingly, avoiding the police
clashes that have increasingly beleaguered demonstrations.
"As civil servants, if we don't stand up, that means we
are disloyal," said K. H. Wu, a retiree who worked for the government's
Census Department for 40 years. "Our loyalties are not to a particular
government, but to the people."
Wu attended the rally with his wife, also a civil
servant. He said this was the first time he participated in a rally in which
he openly shared his status as a former government worker. He said he did so
because he feels "there's nothing to be afraid of."
"Right now the Hong Kong government is blindly leading
the people," Wu said. "They disregard the needs of the population. With Hong
Kong like this right now, you have to rid yourself of all fear."
Officials had warned civil servants ahead of the rally
they could be disciplined if they showed partiality or criticized special
officials and polices. The increased risk was written into posters about the
event, which cautioned participants against calling for the resignation of
government officials, expressing anything related to Hong Kong independence
and accepting donations.
As the crowd flooded into the streets, demonstrators
held up signs saying "We are civil servants and willing to step up!" and
"Political neutrality does not equal conscienceless."
About a thousand medical workers participated in a
rally Friday in another part of the city. In recent days, representatives of
the financial and medical sectors have also held rallies to show their
support for protesters.
More protests are planned for this weekend, fed by
anger over the government's refusal to communicate, violent tactics used by
police — along with accusations those tactics were in coordination with
organized crime figures — and the arrest of 44 people this week on rioting
charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
Meanwhile, China's top diplomat was quoted by the state
Xinhua News Agency on Friday accusing the U.S. and other Western nations of
arranging meetings between high-level officials and protest leaders and
encouraging their actions.
"The U.S. and some other Western governments ... are
constantly fanning the flames of the situation in Hong Kong," State
Councilor Yang Jiechi said.
His remarks follow statements earlier this week by a
former Hong Kong official that the U.S. and self-governing democratic Taiwan
were behind the unrest, sparked originally by Hong Kong's now-suspended
attempt to push through legislation that could allow some criminal suspects
to be sent to mainland China.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and other Chinese
officials and diplomats have similarly claimed without providing evidence
that "Western forces" are behind the protests, while the head of the police
union was quoted by Chinese media on Friday as calling for an investigation
into the alleged U.S. role in the protests.
Asked for details on the Chinese allegations, Foreign
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying pointed to what she called "irresponsible
statements" by U.S. politicians and meetings between Hong Kong opposition
figures and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pompeo this week described the claim of an American
guiding hand directing the protests as "ludicrous on its face."
"I think the protests are solely the responsibility of
the people of Hong Kong," Pompeo said.
The U.S. Embassy in Beijing followed that up with a
statement saying, "It is not credible to think millions of people are being
manipulated to stand for a free and open society."
However, asked about the protests on Thursday,
President Donald Trump echoed Beijing in labeling them "riots" and indicated
the U.S. would stay out of a matter he considered to be "between Hong Kong
Beijing has a long history of blaming unrest on shadowy
foreign anti-China forces, including in the 1989 pro-democracy protests
centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square that were bloodily suppressed by the
military, and during an earlier round of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong
in 2014. That feeds into a narrative widely followed by mainland Chinese
that the West and especially America is trying to contain and suppress their
country's rise to economic and diplomatic prominence by sowing internal
social and political discord.
India troop buildup, tourist advisory up Kashmir tension
Friday, July 26, 2019, file photo, Indian army soldiers keep guard near a
war memorial during Kargil Vijay Diwas, or Kargil Victory Day, in Srinagar,
Indian controlled Kashmir. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
Srinagar, India (AP) — A government order in
Indian-administered Kashmir on Friday asked tourists and Hindu pilgrims
visiting a Himalayan cave shrine "to curtail their stay" in the disputed
territory, citing security concerns and intensifying tensions following
India's announcement it was sending more troops to the region.
Kashmir's home secretary, Shaleen Kabra, said in the
order that the pilgrims and tourists should "curtail their stay in the
(Kashmir) valley immediately and take necessary measures to return as soon
The order cited "prevailing security situation" and the
"latest intelligence inputs of terror threats with specific targeting" of
the annual Hindu pilgrimage as reasons for the advisory. The 45-day annual
pilgrimage draws hundreds of thousands of people to the hallowed mountain
cave, the Amarnath shrine.
The order comes after officials on Thursday suspended
the pilgrimage for four days due to bad weather along the route. The
pilgrimage began on July 1 and about 300,000 pilgrims have visited the icy
cave so far this year, according to officials.
In the past, dozens of pilgrims have been killed in
attacks blamed on rebels. However, hundreds of people have died due to
exhaustion and exposure in harsh weather during arduous treks in the icy
Muslim rebels fighting for decades against Indian rule
in Kashmir accuse India's Hindu majority of using the pilgrimage as a
political project to bolster its claim on the contested region.
The advisory is likely to escalate the tensions in the
region, which has been on edge since last week when India announced it was
deploying at least 10,000 more soldiers to one of the world's most
militarized areas. The troop buildup has sparked fears that New Delhi is
planning to scrap an Indian constitutional provision that disallows Indians
from buying land in the Muslim-majority region.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and each
claim the divided Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebels have been
fighting Indian control since 1989. Most Kashmiris support the rebels'
demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an
independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests
against Indian control.
Later Friday, residents in the region's main city of
Srinagar and other towns thronged grocery stores and medical shops to stock
up on essentials. They lined up at ATMs to take out money and at gas
stations to fill up their vehicles.
Kashmir, a region known for lush green valleys, lakes,
meadows and dense forested mountains, has become notorious for long hauls of
security lockdowns and crackdowns.
Tourist operators called the advisory an attack on the
"The advisory is not about hundreds of thousands of
Indian migrant laborers who earn their livelihood in Kashmir. It's about
tourists who spend in Kashmir," said Sajjad Ahmed, a tourist operator. "The
Amarnath pilgrimage has already been suspended and the handful tourists are
told to leave Kashmir. How else would you understand it?"
An Indian soldier was killed Friday during a gunbattle
with rebels in the region. The fighting erupted after police and soldiers
cordoned off a village in southern Shopian area on a tip that militants were
hiding there, police said. In the exchange of gunfire, at least one soldier
was killed and another wounded.
As the news of the counterinsurgency operation spread,
anti-India protests and clashes broke out with villagers trying to reach
near the site of fighting and help the trapped militants to escape. At least
three civilians were injured in the clashes with government forces, who
fired shotgun pellets and tear gas to stop stone-throwing protesters from
marching in the streets.
Indian soldiers are ubiquitous in Kashmir and residents
make little secret of their fury at their presence in the Himalayan region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist
Bharatiya Janata Party in its election manifesto earlier this year promised
to do away with special rights for the Kashmiris under India's Constitution.
A top security official said the entire security grid
in Kashmir has been directed to be on "alert as major policy revamp in in
offing" regarding Kashmir. "We don't know exactly what it's about but it's
certainly some kind of decision which has far-reaching security
implications," the official said on condition of anonymity in keeping with
Omar Abdullah, a top pro-India Kashmiri leader who has
criticized Modi government's muscular approach in Kashmir, said in a tweet
Friday that the security alert, "if actually issued, would be about
something very different" and not about removing special status.
Ordinary Kashmiris fear that the already ongoing
crackdown against anti-India dissenters will be intensified.
"The uncertainty makes the situation simply horrific
and as frightening as it can be," said Javaid Ahmed, a resident in Srinagar.
"People are dead worried about their lives and families."
Kashmir has seen renewed rebel attacks and repeated
public protests against Indian rule in last few years as a new generation of
Kashmiri rebels, especially in the southern parts of the region, has revived
the militancy and challenged New Delhi's rule with guns and effective use of
About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising
and the ensuing Indian crackdown since 1989.
UK military drafted in to prevent dam collapse
Chinook helicopter carrying sandbags arrives at the dam at Toddbrook
reservoir near the village of Whaley Bridge, central England, Friday Aug. 2,
2019, after it was damaged by heavy rainfall. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)
London (AP) — A British military helicopter
dropped sandbags Friday to shore up a reservoir wall as emergency services
worked frantically to prevent a rain-damaged dam from collapsing.
Engineers said they remain "very concerned" about the
integrity of the 19th-century Toddbrook Reservoir, which contains around 1.3
million metric tons of water.
As the Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter made
continuous runs to dump the sandbags against the reservoir wall, about 150
firefighters used pumps to bring down the water level, lowering it around 8
inches (20 centimeters) overnight.
"It is a critical situation at this point in time,"
said Julie Sharman, chief operating officer of the Canal and River Trust,
which runs the reservoir. "And until we're beyond that critical situation,
the risk is a material risk and that's why we've taken the action we have."
Hundreds of people were evacuated from the town of
Whaley Bridge on Thursday with police officers going door-to-door to notify
residents. People in the town, located 175 miles northwest of London, were
advised to stay with friends and family elsewhere if possible, and to take
pets and several days of essential medications with them.
A heat wave last week has been followed by heavy rains
in many parts of the U.K., causing flash flooding that has inundated homes,
roads and train lines. Railway lines near the Whaley Bridge area have been
Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Environment
Secretary Theresa Villiers to chair a meeting of the government's emergency
committee, COBRA, to discuss the situation.
Some residents in the Whaley Bridge area were shocked
by the sudden turn of events.
"I've lived in Whaley for the best part of 45 years and
I've never seen water flood over the dam like that, ever, nor thought that
we could possibly be at risk in this way," Carolyn Whittle said.
The Environment Agency has 10 flood alerts, six flood
warnings, and one severe flood warning in place in England.
German customs seize 4.5 tons of cocaine, worth $1.1 billion
customs authorities seized 4.5 tons of cocaine in a container shipped in
Hamburg, Germany, from Uruguay. (German Custom via AP)
Berlin (AP) — German customs authorities say
they have seized 4.5 tons of cocaine in a container shipped from Uruguay, a
haul with an estimated street value of nearly 1 billion euros ($1.1
The customs office in Hamburg said Friday that the
drugs were seized two weeks ago when it checked the container that was en
route from Montevideo to Antwerp, Belgium. The paperwork stated that it was
loaded with soya beans, but customs officials could only see black sports
bags when they opened it up.
They found more than 4,200 packets of cocaine in the
211 bags. It was Germany's biggest single seizure of cocaine to date.
The customs office said that the drugs have already
been destroyed "amid strict secrecy and extensive security precautions."
Rebel missile attack, suicide bombs kill 51 in Yemen's Aden
gather at the site of a deadly attack in Aden, Yemen, Thursday, Aug. 1,
2019. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Maggie Michael and Ahmed Al-Haj
Aden, Yemen (AP) — Rebels in Yemen fired a
ballistic missile Thursday at a military parade in the southern port city of
Aden and coordinated suicide bombings targeted a police station in another
part of the city. The attacks killed at least 51 people and wounded dozens,
The missile hit in the city's neighborhood of Breiqa
where a military parade was underway by forces loyal to the United Arab
Emirates, a member of the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the
Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2015 in support of Yemen's internationally
The missile attack killed at least 40, a health
The parade was taking place at the pro-coalition al-Galaa
camp in Aden, said a security official, without giving a breakdown for the
casualties. Since the rebels seized the country's capital, Sanaa, in 2014,
Aden has served as the temporary seat of the government.
The website of the Houthi rebels, Al-Masirah, quoted
spokesman Brig. Gen. Yehia Sarea as saying the rebels had fired a
medium-range ballistic missile at the parade, leaving scores of casualties,
including military commanders.
The security official told The Associated Press that
UAE-backed commander Monier al Yafie, also known by his nickname Aboul
Yamama, was among those killed. He was delivering a speech during the
parade, the official said.
A short while earlier, a car, a bus and three
motorcycles laden with explosives targeted a police station in the city's
Omar al-Mokhtar neighborhood during a morning police roll-call, said Abdel
Dayem Ahmed, a senior police official.
Four suicide bombers were involved in the attack, which
killed 11 and wounded at least 29, Ahmed told the AP.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the
police station bombings but both Yemen's al-Qaida branch and an Islamic
State group affiliate have exploited the chaos of the country's war between
the Houthis and the government forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition.
A Yemeni health official said that along with the 51
killed, as many as 56 were wounded in Thursday's attacks. Both the security
and health official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to talk to reporters.
Charred remains of the attackers' vehicles were seen at
the scene of the police station attack, next to a meter-deep crater caused
by the bombings. Doctors Without Borders tweeted that dozens of wounded were
transferred to the aid group's surgical hospital in Aden, where families of
the victims had gathered.
Zakarya Ahmed, a senior police officer who was inside
the three-story station when the bombings took place, described the attack
as "a disaster."
"I felt myself flying in the air and falling down,
hitting the floor," Ahmed said. "When I got up on my feet, I saw bodies
burning, others torn into pieces."
Thursday's attacks were the deadliest in Aden since
November 2017, when the IS affiliate in Yemen targeted the city's security
headquarters, leaving 15 dead, mostly policemen.
Deputy Interior Minister Ali Nasser Lakhsha told
reporters as he inspected the site of the bombed-out police station that it
was unclear who was behind the assault.
"This is a horrific terrorist attack targeting our
police," the minister said.
The attackers' motorcycles were still burning as blood
pooled on the staircase of the police station and the street outside was
littered with shattered glass and debris from blown-out doors and windows.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of
Sanaa by the Houthis, who drove out the internationally recognized
government. Months later, in March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched its
air campaign to prevent the rebels from overrunning the country's south.
In the relentless campaign, Saudi-led airstrikes have
hit schools, hospitals and wedding parties and killed thousands of Yemeni
civilians. The Houthis have used drones and missiles to attack Saudi Arabia
and have also targeted vessels in the Red Sea.
Thursday's attacks in Aden came just weeks after the
UAE began withdrawing thousands of its troops from Yemen, leaving behind
what it says are some 90,000 trained local forces. The UAE also has high
level commanders and forces in Yemen, but has pulled back 50-75% of its
forces, insiders have said.
The UAE pullout came against the backdrop of escalating
tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a crisis between Washington and Tehran
following the U.S. pullout last year from the nuclear deal with Iran.
For its part, Iran has repeatedly denied supplying the
Houthis with drone or ballistic missile technology, both of which the rebels
have increasingly used, including to target neighboring Saudi Arabia. The
kingdom has claimed that Iran supplied the missiles or at least helped the
Houthis manufacture them from parts that were in Yemen before the war.
North Korea fires projectiles in 3rd weapons test in 8 days
broadcasted by North Korea's KRT on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, shows a rocket
soaring during a test in North Korea. (KRT via AP Video)
Seoul, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired
unidentified projectiles twice Friday into the sea off its eastern coast in
its third round of weapons tests in just over a week, South Korea's military
The increased testing activity is seen as brinkmanship
aimed at increasing pressure on Seoul and Washington over the stalled
nuclear negotiations. North Korea also has expressed frustration at planned
U.S.-South Korea military exercises, and experts say its weapons displays
could intensify in the coming months if progress on the nuclear negotiations
By test-firing weapons that directly threaten South
Korea but not the U.S. mainland or its Pacific territories, North Korea also
appears to be dialing up pressure on Seoul and testing how far Washington
will tolerate its bellicosity without actually causing the nuclear
negotiations to collapse, analysts say.
Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launches were
conducted at 2:59 a.m. and 3:23 a.m. from an eastern coastal area but did
not immediately confirm how many projectiles were fired or how far they
flew. An official from the JCS, who didn't want to be named, citing office
rules, said more analysis would be required to determine whether the
projectiles were ballistic missiles or rocket artillery.
South Korea's presidential office said chief national
security adviser Chung Eui-yong held an emergency meeting with government
ministers to discuss the latest launch. Kim Eun-han, a spokesman for South
Korea's Unification Ministry, said the Seoul government expressed "deep
regret" over the launches that it believes could negatively affect efforts
to stabilize peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Japan's Defense Ministry said it was analyzing the
launch and that the projectiles did not reach Japanese territorial waters or
its exclusive economic zone.
The North fired short-range ballistic missiles on July
25 and conducted what it described as a test firing of a new multiple rocket
launcher system on Wednesday.
Amid the stalemate in nuclear negotiations with the
United States, North Korea has significantly slowed diplomatic activity with
the South while demanding Seoul turn away from Washington and proceed with
joint economic projects that have been held back by U.S.-led sanctions
against the North.
The North's new launches came as the United Kingdom,
France and Germany — following a closed U.N. Security Council briefing —
condemned the North's recent ballistic activity as violations of U.N.
sanctions and urged Pyongyang to engage in "meaningful negotiations" with
the United States on eliminating its nuclear weapons.
The three countries also urged North Korea "to take
concrete steps toward its complete, verifiable and irreversible
denuclearization" and said international sanctions should remain in place
and be fully enforced until its nuclear and ballistic missile programs are
U.S. officials have downplayed the threat of the
launches to the United States and its allies.
However, the North's recent weapons demonstrations have
dampened the optimism that followed President Donald Trump's impromptu
summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 30 at the inter-Korean
border. The leaders agreed to resume working-level nuclear talks that
stalled since February, but there have been no known meetings between the
two sides since then.
The North has claimed the United States would violate
an agreement between the leaders if it moves on with its planned military
exercises with South Korea and said it will wait to see if the August
exercises actually take place to decide on the fate of its diplomacy with
Trump said on Thursday he wasn't worried about the
weapons recently tested by North Korea, calling them "short-range missiles"
that were "very standard."
On Thursday, North Korea's state media said leader Kim
Jong Un supervised the first test firing of a new multiple rocket launcher
system he said would soon serve a "main role" in his military's land combat
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff had assessed the
activity Wednesday as a short-range ballistic missile launch, saying the
missiles flew about 250 kilometers (155 miles), a range that would be enough
to cover the metropolitan region surrounding capital Seoul, where about half
of South Koreans live, and a major U.S. military base just south of the
On July 25, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic
missiles that Seoul officials said flew 600 kilometers (370 miles) and as
high as 50 kilometers (30 miles) before landing in the sea.
North Korea said those tests were designed to deliver a
"solemn warning" to South Korea over its purchase of high-tech, U.S.-made
fighter jets and the planned military drills, which Pyongyang calls an
invasion rehearsal. The North also tested short-range missiles on May 4 and
Attending an Asian security conference in Bangkok, U.S.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday the Trump administration
remains ready to resume talks with North Korea now, but said a meeting this
week would be unlikely.
Partial Dutch ban on face-covering clothing takes effect
Monday Jan. 21, 2013 file photo, a woman wearing a full-face veil known as
niqab, pushes a baby stroller on snow-covered streets in Amsterdam,
Netherlands. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
The Hague, Netherlands (AP) — A new Dutch law
took effect Thursday banning face-covering clothing — including the burqa
and niqab worn by conservative Muslim women — on public transportation, in
government buildings and at health and education institutions.
The Netherlands, long seen as a bastion of tolerance
and religious freedom, is the latest European country to introduce such a
ban, following the likes of France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Denmark.
Muslim and rights groups have voiced opposition to the
law — formally called the "partial ban on face-covering clothing" — and an
Islamic political party in Rotterdam has said it will pay the 150-euro
($167) fines for anybody caught breaking it.
There were no immediate reports Thursday morning of
anybody being fined under the new law, which was passed despite the fact
that very few women in the Netherlands wear a burqa or niqab — estimates put
the number at a few hundred in this nation of 17 million.
Anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, whose calls for a
total burqa ban ignited more than a decade of debate before parliament
approved the law last year, welcomed the introduction of the limited ban as
"a historic day" and called for it to be expanded to include Islamic
"I believe we should now try to take it to the next
step," Wilders told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "The next
step to make it sure that the headscarf could be banned in the Netherlands
The Dutch government has insisted that its partial ban
doesn't target any religion and that people are free to dress how they want.
A government site explaining the new ban says, however, that "this freedom
is limited at locations where communication is vital for good quality
service or for security in society."
Wilders dismissed that explanation as political
Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren, who wasn't available
for comment Thursday, said earlier this year that the government will
evaluate the new law after three years — usually such evaluations follow
five years after a new law is implemented.
It remains to be seen how strenuously the law will be
enforced in the Netherlands.
The national federation of academic hospitals said in a
statement that enforcement is up to police and prosecutors. It added: "We
are not aware of any cases in which wearing face-covering clothing or a
possible ban has led to problems" in health care.
The head of the umbrella organization of public
transport companies also has said that bus drivers and train conductors
don't have the power to enforce it and would have to leave it up to police.
The Dutch ban came into force eight years after France
became the first European nation to ban the public use of veils, both
face-covering niqabs and full-body burqas. A 2004 law also bans Muslim hijab
headscarves and other prominent religious symbols from being worn in state
schools, but doesn't apply in universities.
France's tough law fell foul of the U.N. Human Rights
Committee, which last year ruled that the country violated the human rights
of two women by fining them for wearing the niqab.
Professor Tom Zwart of the University of Utrecht, who
studies the intersection of law, culture and religion, said that the ban is
largely symbolic, but for women who wear a niqab "the ban is still on the
books, and if they come across a strict bus driver or tram conductor, they
might still be in trouble. This undoubtedly has a chilling effect on their
ability to take part in public life."
Wildfires spread in remote Siberia, Russian Far East
covers the center of the eastern Siberian city of Chita, Russia, Thursday,
Aug. 1, 2019. (AP Photo)
Moscow (AP) — Hundreds of Russian towns and
cities are shrouded in heavy smoke from wildfires in Siberia and the Far
East Thursday, and the blazes appear to be spreading in remote terrain.
Avialesookhrana, Russia's aerial forest protection
service, said more than 30,000 square kilometers (11,850 square miles) are
on fire, with the vast majority in areas that are hard to reach and where
potential damage is likely to be less than the cost of fighting them.
Although the fires have not hit populated areas, heavy
smoke from them is affecting about 800 communities, officials said,
including the large cities of Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk and Chita.
Footage on Russian television showed planes dumping
water on fires that were belching smoke amid vast stretches of trees.
Firemen on the ground sprayed thin water streams on small fire remnants.
States of emergency have been declared in the regions
of Irkutsk, Buryatia, Sakha and Krasnoyarsk.
In Chita, 4,700 kilometers (2,900 miles) east of
Moscow, the center of the city was cloaked in heavy gray as Prime Minister
Dmitry Medvedev visited. Medvedev called for effective use of local
resources to fight the fires.
The Russian military has joined the firefighting
efforts, sending transport planes and helicopters. But activists believe the
government is not taking nearly enough action and plan to protest Thursday
evening at the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Meteorologists say rain is expected in some of the
burning areas, but not enough to put out the fires, state news agency Tass
Some of the fires are believed to have been started by
lightning strikes. Russia's Investigative Committee, the country's main
criminal investigative body, said Thursday it was sending representatives to
the region to probe the causes.
Bangladesh grapples with country's worst dengue outbreak
receives treatment for dengue at Dhaka Shishu Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh,
Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)
Abdur Rahman Jahangir
Dhaka, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh is facing
its worst-ever dengue fever outbreak as hospitals are flooded with patients,
putting a severe strain on the country's already overwhelmed medical system.
The mosquito-borne viral infection has spread across
the country with 61 out of 64 districts reporting dengue cases by late
The government has confirmed 15,369 dengue cases since
Jan. 1. Of those, 9,683 patients were diagnosed between July 1 and July 30.
As of Tuesday, about 4,400 patients, including many children, were
undergoing hospital treatment. There have been 14 deaths.
Officials from Dhaka, the overcrowded megacity that is
the epicenter of the outbreak, have struggled to contain it, drawing
criticism and spreading panic among some residents.
Dengue is found in tropical areas around the world and
is spread by a type of mosquito that mainly lives in urban areas. The virus
causes severe flu-like symptoms and while there is no specific treatment for
the illness, medical care to maintain a person's fluid levels is seen as
There are fears that the situation in the countryside
will worsen as many residents of the city travel to villages to celebrate
Eid-ul-Adha next month. Infected humans can serve as a source of the virus
for uninfected mosquitoes.
Ayesha Akhter, assistant director at the Directorate
General of Health Services under the Ministry of Health, said an outbreak of
dengue has accompanied every monsoon since 2000, but this year's situation
is the worst.
A DGHS study identified a six-fold increase in the
Aedes aegypti mosquito population in four months in Dhaka as the primary
cause of the larger-than-average outbreak.
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization said
the dengue situation in Bangladesh was "alarming but not out of control."
Other countries in Asia are also facing a surge in
dengue cases this year, including Thailand, where 53,699 cases and 65 deaths
were reported as of July 23.
Nevertheless, with dengue cases soaring in recent
weeks, Dhaka hospitals have been running out of room and manpower to treat
Prof. Abul Kalam Azad, director general of DGHS, said
they had asked the hospitals to increase beds for dengue patients and to
open dengue wards. The government also halved the charges for diagnosing
dengue and directed public and private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic
centers to do the same.
The Dhaka Medical College Hospital, the largest
hospital in the country, opened a special ward for dengue patients, said
A.K.M. Nasir Uddin, its director general.
Prof. Uttam Kumar Barua, director of Shaheed Suhrawardy
Medical College and Hospital, another major public hospital in Dhaka, said
they were relying on senior medical students to assist doctors in the face
of so many patients.
Barua said they were admitting every dengue patient who
entered the hospital but could not provide beds or even seats for everyone,
adding that many had been asked to wait in hospital corridors and verandas.
Abul Kalam, a rickshaw puller, said it was quite a task
to get his 4-year-old boy admitted to the DMCH.
"My boy is recovering fast. The doctors are taking good
care of him," he said.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is now in
London on an official visit, on Tuesday called for concerted efforts to
fight the illness.
"The government is working to tackle dengue," she told
an emergency meeting of her ruling Awami League party from London in a
"I urge everyone to keep their houses and surrounding
areas clean. That will save us from the disease," she said.
The country's opposition parties and urban planning
experts blamed the central and local government's lack of preparedness for
the rise in dengue cases. People have taken to Facebook to vent their anger
about city authorities' failure to control dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
Bus hit by roadside bomb in Afghanistan, 32 killed
assist a wounded man in a hospital after a roadside bomb on the main highway
between the western city of Herat and the southern city of Kandahar, in
Herat, Afghanistan, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) — A roadside bomb tore
through a bus in western Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least 32
people, including children, a provincial official said.
Mohibullah Mohib, spokesman for the police chief in
Farah province, said the explosion also wounded 15 people. Most of the
wounded were said to be in critical condition, indicating the death toll
The bus was traveling on a main highway between the
western city of Herat and the southern city of Kandahar.
No one immediately claimed responsibility, but the
Taliban operate in the region and frequently use roadside bombs to target
government officials and security forces. The Islamic State group's
affiliate in Afghanistan is also known to have been behind attacks in the
area. IS militants frequently target civilians, especially the country's
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly
condemned Wednesday's attack and reiterated that "international humanitarian
law explicitly prohibits indiscriminate attacks and attacks directed against
civilians," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
The U.N. chief appealed to all parties to the conflict
to uphold their obligations to protect civilians, Dujarric said.
The Taliban have kept up a steady tempo of attacks even
as they have held several rounds of peace talks with the United States aimed
at ending the 18-year war.
The attack came a day after the U.N. mission in
Afghanistan released a report saying that most civilian deaths in the first
half of the year were caused by Afghan forces and their international
allies. The report apparently referred to civilians killed during Afghan and
U.S. military operations against insurgents.
The U.N. report said 403 civilians were killed by
Afghan forces in the first six months of the year and another 314 by
international forces, a total of 717. That's compared to 531 killed by the
Taliban, an Islamic State affiliate and other militants during the same
period. It said 300 of those killed by militants were directly targeted.
The U.N. said the leading cause of civilian deaths and
injuries was "ground engagements," which caused one in three casualties.
Roadside bombs were a close second, accounting for 28%. Afghanistan is one
of the most heavily mined countries in the world — a legacy of decades of
A spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday
disputed the results and methodology of the U.N. report, saying the
government is committed to protecting civilians.
Sediq Sediqqi said the Taliban were the "major cause"
of civilian deaths and accused them of deliberately targeting schools,
mosques and hospitals. He said "we are sorry" for civilian casualties during
Afghan security operations, but accused the Taliban of using civilians as
human shields. He also said the U.N. had drastically undercounted the number
of civilians killed by the Taliban.
The Taliban, who effectively control half the country,
have been meeting with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad since late last year.
They appear to be closing in on an agreement whereby American forces would
withdraw from Afghanistan in return for guarantees that it would not be used
as a launch-pad for international terror attacks.
Khalilzad has been in Kabul for talks with Afghan
officials over the past several days and is expected to go to Islamabad
The Afghan government has been largely sidelined in the
Taliban-U.S. talks, with the insurgents refusing to negotiate with Kabul
North Korea says it tested crucial new rocket launch system
watch a TV showing an image of North Korea's missile launch during a news
program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, July
31, 2019. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Seoul, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said
Thursday leader Kim Jong Un supervised test firings of a new multiple rocket
launcher system that could potentially enhance its ability to strike targets
in South Korea and U.S. military bases there.
The report by North Korea's official Korean Central
News Agency on Thursday differed from the assessment by South Korea's
military, which had concluded Wednesday's launches were of two short-range
The launches from the eastern coastal town of Wonsan
were North Korea's second weapons test in less than a week and were seen as
a move to keep up pressure on Washington and Seoul amid a stalemate in
nuclear negotiations. Pyongyang has also expressed anger over planned
U.S.-South Korea military drills.
KCNA said Kim expressed satisfaction over the test
firings and said the newly developed rocket system would soon serve a "main
role" in his military's land combat operations and create an "inescapable
distress to the forces becoming a fat target of the weapon." The report
didn't directly mention the United States or South Korea, but experts say
the rocket system, along with new short-range missiles the North tested in
recent weeks, could potentially pose a serious threat to South Korea's
The agency provided no specific descriptions of how the
"large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system" performed during the
launches, but said the tests confirmed the system's technical
characteristics and "combat effectiveness." North Korea's state media didn't
immediately release images of the tests.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday that
the weapons it then assessed as missiles flew about 250 kilometers (155
miles) at an apogee of 30 kilometers (19 miles), a range that would be
enough to cover the metropolitan area surrounding capital Seoul and a major
U.S. military base just south of the city.
When asked whether it failed to distinguish between
multiple-rocket launchers and ballistic missiles, Kim Joon-rak, an official
from the JCS, said the South Korean and U.S. militaries currently share an
assessment that the flight characteristics from Wednesday's launches were
similar to North Korea's new short-range missiles tested last week. He said
further analysis was needed to identify the weapons.
South Korea's military had said the flight data of the
missile launched last week showed similarities to the Russian-made Iskander,
a short-range, nuclear-capable missile that is highly maneuverable and
travels on lower trajectories compared to conventional ballistic weapons.
Choi Hyun-soo, spokeswoman of Seoul's Defense Ministry,
refused to answer when asked whether it's possible that the North might have
mixed in a ballistic missile launch while testing its new rocket system.
Kim Dong-yub, an analyst from Seoul's Institute for Far
Eastern Studies and a former South Korean military official, said the North
might have tested an improved version of its 300-millimeter multiple rocket
launcher system or an entirely new system, such as a 400-millimeter system.
South Korea's military had no immediate comment over
the North Korean report. U.S. officials have downplayed the threat of the
launches to the United States and its allies.
The U.N. Security Council is expected to discuss the
latest launches behind closed doors Thursday at the request of the United
Kingdom, France and Germany, council diplomats said.
Analysts say North Korea with its consecutive weapons
tests is demonstrating its displeasure with the pace of nuclear diplomacy
with Washington. The North's testing activity could intensify if the
negotiations do not proceed rapidly over the next few months, said
Srinivasan Sitaraman, a North Korea expert at Clark University in
By firing weapons that directly threaten South Korea
but not the U.S. mainland or its Pacific territories, North Korea also
appears to be testing how far Washington will tolerate its bellicosity
without actually causing the nuclear negotiations to collapse, other experts
Since the collapse of a summit between Kim and Trump in
February over disagreements in exchanging sanctions relief and disarmament,
the North has significantly slowed diplomatic activity with the South while
demanding Seoul to break away from Washington and proceed with joint
economic projects that have been held back by U.S.-led sanctions against the
Last Thursday, North Korea fired two short-range
ballistic missiles that Seoul officials said flew 600 kilometers (370 miles)
and as high as 50 kilometers (30 miles) before landing in the sea. North
Korea's state media said those tests were supervised by Kim and were
designed to deliver a "solemn warning" to South Korea over its purchase of
high-tech, U.S.-made fighter jets and the planned military drills, which
Pyongyang calls an invasion rehearsal. The North also tested short-range
missiles on May 4 and 9.
Earlier last week, Kim visited a newly built submarine
and expressed his satisfaction with its weapons system. North Korea said its
deployment was "near at hand."
In a private briefing to lawmakers Wednesday, South
Korean military intelligence officers said they've determined that the
submarine likely has three launch tubes for missiles, according to Lee
Hye-hoon, head of parliament's intelligence committee. If confirmed, it
would be North Korea's first operational submarine with missile launch
tubes, some experts said.
North Korea acquiring the ability to launch missiles
from submarines would be an alarming development because such missiles are
harder to detect in advance.
Wednesday's launches came hours after a senior U.S.
official said President Donald Trump sent Kim mementos from his brief visit
to an inter-Korean border town late last month.
The official said a top staffer from the National
Security Council hand-delivered photographs from the leaders' June meeting
at the Korean Demilitarized Zone to a North Korean official last week. The
Trump administration official spoke on the condition of anonymity because
the official wasn't authorized to speak publicly.
The DMZ meeting was the third summit between Trump and
Kim. At their second meeting, in Vietnam in February, Trump rejected Kim's
demand for widespread sanctions relief in return for dismantling the North's
main nuclear complex, a partial disarmament step.
During the DMZ meeting, Trump and Kim agreed to resume
nuclear diplomacy in coming weeks, but there hasn't been any known meeting
between the countries.
4 more inmates die in Brazil following deadly prison clash
members attend the funeral of a prisoner who was killed during a riot at a
prison in Altamaria, Para state, Brazil, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP
Rio de Janeiro (AP) — Four inmates allegedly
involved in deadly clash between prison gangs have died of asphyxiation
while being transferred to a safer lockup, authorities said Wednesday, as
families of victims began to bury their relatives.
The Para state public security office said the four
were discovered dead when the prison vehicle arrived in the town of Maraba.
They said vehicle had four compartments and was
carrying 30 handcuffed inmates who were suspected of involvement in Monday's
clash gangs at the Altamira prison.
Authorities said the four who died were from the same
gang and said they are investigating.
The prisoners were among 46 being sent to other
prisons, including stricter federal ones.
Several holes had been dug in the rust-colored earth at
the cemetery of Altamira, where grieving families began to arrive Wednesday
to mourn some of the 58 inmates killed by a rival gang in a grisly prison
"We need more security, we need more room (for
detainees)," said Gelson Gusmao, whose son died in Monday's clashes.
"There's a lot of overcrowding in the prisons, so we want our president to
improve the situation inside."
Back at the forensic institute, dozens of
grief-stricken, frustrated families were still waiting to identify slain
relatives, fighting off the odor of decomposing bodies.
Only 21 bodies had been released to family members by
Wednesday morning, a process slowed by the small size of the morgue, lack of
staff to deal with the sudden flow of corpses and problems with lighting
that meant staff can only work until 6:30 p.m.
In the Amazon heat, the bodies were being kept in a
large refrigerated truck. But Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported
that for lack of space, corpses were being kept under a makeshift, uncooled
Forensic expert Marcel Ferreira said some passed out
when called on the day before to identify the beheaded or burnt bodies of
The forensic institute said at least six bodies would
undergo DNA testing to be identified.
State officials said clashes erupted in Altamira early
Monday when the local Comando Classe A gang attacked a wing of the prison
holding members of the rival Comando Vermelho, or Red Command.
In many of Brazil's prisons, badly outnumbered guards
struggle to retain control over an ever-growing population of inmates, with
jailed gang leaders often able to run their criminal activities from behind
Comando Classe A members allegedly set fire to the
temporary containers where inmates belonging to Red Command were being held
while construction of another wing was underway. Victims died of burns,
asphyxiation and 16 had been decapitated.
"This is clearly a declaration of war on the Red
Command," said Jean-Franšois Deluchey, adjunct professor in political
science at the Federal University of Para who has been studying the region
for 20 years.
Authorities have not yet revealed the exact motive for
the clash, only confirming that it was a fight between criminal groups. But
several recent prison massacres have been attributed to gangs battling to
control drug-trafficking routes in the multibillion-dollar Amazon drug
In May, two days of unrest in the neighboring state of
Amazonas left 55 prisoners dead in four different prisons of that state's
capital, Manaus. In 2017, more than 120 inmates died in prisons across
several northern states.
"It's the same logic, the same movement," Deluchey
said. According to him, Red Command has a strong presence in the north and
is trying to expand further in the region.
Deluchey said it is hard to confirm with certainty, but
initial reports indicated that Comando Classe A, a local gang thought to
have been created recently inside the Altamira prison, is linked to another
powerful Brazilian gang, First Capital Command.
"The First Capital Command is losing grounds and it
looks like Comando Classe A is helping them stop the hegemony of Red
Command," he said.
The professor said he had already seen promises of
retaliations by members of Red Command for Monday's attack.
Gruesome violence is often used in Brazilian prisons to
gain respect and send a strong message to new arrivals, he said. "Violence
is to impress, to frighten, so that new (inmates) join the side of those who
decapitate, and not the decapitated."
The killings represent a challenge for the far-right
administration of President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro ran a tough-on-crime
campaign, promising to curb epidemic violence in Brazil, including in its
overcrowded and out-of-control prisons.
The president publicly addressed the killings Tuesday
in a video published on the online G1 news portal. Asked by journalists
whether security should be strengthened at Altamira prison, Bolsonaro
replied: "Ask the victims of those who died in there what they think."
Brazil has the world's third-largest prison population,
behind the United States and China, with more than 720,000 individuals
behind bars, according to official data from 2017. Some Brazilian prisons
have more than three times as many inmates as their maximum capacity.
At Altamira, a local judge revealed in a July report
examined by The Associated Press that he had counted 343 detainees in a
facility authorized for a maximum of 163 people.
Indonesia says British man caught in Bali with drugs, porn
national Terence Murrell, left, is escorted by immigration officers during a
press conference in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Yoan
Denpasar, Indonesia (AP) — An alleged British
fugitive was arrested in Bali with pornography and drugs, Indonesian
authorities said Tuesday, after U.K. media reported that the man was selling
explicit videos of himself online to fund an extravagant lifestyle on the
Immigration official Amran Aris said that based on
British media reports, the 31-year-old man, Terrence David Murrell, is
wanted by police in the U.K.
Authorities cited a British media report that Murrell,
a model and bodybuilder, fled the U.K. to avoid a prison sentence for
Murrell was paraded at a news conference Tuesday where
Aris described pornography on the suspect's cellphone as "deviant."
Indonesia, a socially conservative country, has strict
laws against narcotics and the production and distribution of pornography.
"About his pornographic content, I did not say that it
was made in Bali," Aris said. "I don't know that it was Indonesia or
Thailand and the place where the crime was committed needs further police
Murrell was arrested on Sunday in Bali, the top tourist
destination in Indonesia, and had overstayed his Indonesian tourist visa by
more than 150 days. He tested positive for drugs, Aris said, and also had
various paraphernalia for drug use.
"We are still investigating the porn content, including
digital forensic examinations to prove pornography law violation," said
Denpasar chief police detective Wayan Artha Ariawan. "At this moment, he
could face immigration violation and illegal drugs use (charges)."
Germany says suspected train pusher had psychiatric problems
candles lay near the track where an eight-year-old boy was pushed on the
rails and died at the train station in Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, July 29,
2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Berlin (AP) — An Eritrean man suspected of
fatally pushing an 8-year-old boy in front of a train at Frankfurt's main
station had undergone psychiatric treatment recently and was being sought by
Swiss police after threatening a neighbor, authorities said Tuesday.
The 40-year-old, who has lived in Switzerland for over
a decade and has three small children, hasn't yet given any explanation for
a possible motive for the killing that has horrified Germany, said Nadja
Niesen, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in Frankfurt.
The boy's mother and then the 8-year-old were pushed
onto the tracks as a high-speed ICE train was pulling into the Frankfurt
station, one of Germany's busiest, on Monday morning. The 40-year-old mother
managed to get out of the train's path but the boy was run over and killed.
The suspect then apparently tried unsuccessfully to
push a third person, a 78-year-old woman, onto the track before fleeing. She
fell and suffered a shoulder injury.
The man, whose name has not been released, was chased
by passers-by, including an off-duty police officer, and arrested near the
A judge ordered him held in custody pending possible
charges of murder and attempted murder.
Niesen said the nature of the crime raises the
possibility of mental illness and a psychiatric assessment will be
conducted. Swiss authorities later told reporters the man had undergone
psychiatric treatment this year.
The suspect, who lived in the Zurich region, told
German investigators that he took a train from the Swiss city of Basel to
Frankfurt a few days ago.
He arrived in Switzerland in 2006 and applied for
asylum, which he obtained in 2008, said Dieter Romann, the head of Germany's
federal police. He had a long-term residence permit in Switzerland and
worked there, and was considered well-integrated.
However, on July 25, he is alleged to have threatened a
woman who lived next door with a knife and locked her in her apartment
before fleeing, Romann said. Swiss authorities were seeking him, but he was
not in German or other European databases, he added.
Zurich regional police chief Werner Schmid said
officers called to the scene last week also found the man's wife and three
small children locked inside their apartment. He told reporters in Zurich
"the outbreak of violence was a surprise to his wife and to his neighbor."
Politicians from the far-right Alternative for Germany
party seized on the case to assail the German government's immigration
policies. Alternative for Germany has long attacked Chancellor Angela
Merkel's welcoming approach to an influx of refugees and other migrants in
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said "we neither
exploit nor play down crime by foreigners."
Seehofer, speaking after he interrupted his vacation to
meet with German security chiefs, said his ministry, the transport ministry
and the German railway will discuss what can be done to improve security at
German train stations.
Relatives collapse identifying beheaded inmates in Brazil
Relatives of inmates killed during a prison riot
wait outside the coroner's office in Altamira, Brazil, Tuesday, July 30,
2019. (AP Photo/Raimundo Pacco)
Rio de Janeiro (AP) — Relatives of inmates
killed during a prison riot in northern Brazil gathered in the coroner's
office Tuesday to identify the 58 victims, with some passing out at seeing
the beheaded corpse of a loved one.
Seeking to prevent further violence at the Altamira
prison in Para state, where gruesome violence Monday included 16
decapitations, authorities designated all 46 inmates accused of being
involved for transfer to other prisons, including stricter federal ones.
Local officials said at least 33 inmates had been moved on Tuesday to the
state capital of Belem for reassignment.
A worker at the forensic institute in Altamira, Marcel
Ferreira, described the anxiety among the relatives waiting outside the
coroner's office and said the office had asked local authorities,
firefighters and anyone present at the scene to bring water, food or medical
assistance for the family members.
"Sometimes we think that (they) are in a safe place,"
said Antonia Vera Santana, a 43-year-old mother looking for news of her son,
incarcerated in the Altamira prison. "But it's a lot worse there than it is
Santana turned up at the institute at 7 a.m. Tuesday
and was still waiting late in the day.
Forensic experts from neighboring cities in Para
arrived to help deal with the flood of corpses. Bodies had to be stored in a
large refrigerated truck rushed to Altamira after the news of yet another
prison mass killing emerged.
The coroner's office said it had released 15 bodies to
families by the close of the work day.
State officials say clashes erupted early Monday when
the local Comando Classe A gang attacked a wing of the prison where members
of rival gang Comando Vermelho, or Red Command, were held.
Comando Classe A set fire to the temporary containers
where inmates belonging to Red Command were being held while construction of
another wing was underway. Most of the victims died of asphyxiation.
"This is clearly a declaration of war on the Red
Command," said Jean-Franšois Deluchey, adjunct professor in political
science at the Federal University of Para who has been studying the region
for 20 years.
Authorities have not yet revealed the exact cause of
the latest attacks in Altamira, only confirming that it was a fight between
criminal groups. But several recent prison massacres have been attributed to
gangs clashing over control of drug-trafficking routes in the
multibillion-dollar Amazon drug trade.
In many of Brazil's prisons, badly outnumbered guards
struggle to retain power over an ever-growing population of inmates, with
jailed gang leaders often able to run their criminal activities from behind
In May, two days of unrest in the neighboring state of
Amazonas left 55 prisoners dead in four different prisons of the state's
capital, Manaus. In 2017, more than 120 inmates died in prisons across
several northern states.
"It's the same logic, the same movement," Deluchey
said. According to him, Red Command has a strong presence in the north and
is trying to expand further in the region.
Deluchey says it is hard to confirm with certainty but
initial reports indicated that Comando Classe A, a local gang thought to
have been created not long ago inside the Altamira prison, is linked to
another powerful Brazilian gang, First Capital Command.
"The First Capital Command is losing grounds and it
looks like Comando Classe A is helping them stop the hegemony of Red
Command," he said.
The professor said that information he has gathered
indicates Red Command is already saying there will be retaliations for
Gruesome violence is often used in Brazilian prisons to
gain respect and send a strong message to new arrivals. "Violence is to
impress, to frighten, so that new (inmates) join the side of those who
decapitate, and not the decapitated."
The latest killings represent a challenge for the
far-right administration of President Jair Bolsonaro. A former army captain,
Bolsonaro ran a tough-on-crime campaign, promising to curb epidemic violence
in Brazil, including in its overcrowded and out-of-control prisons.
The president publicly addressed the killings for the
first time Tuesday, in a video published on the online news portal G1. Asked
by journalists about what he thought about strengthening security in the
Altamira prison, Bolsonaro replied: "Ask the victims of those who died in
there what they think."
Brazil has the world's third-largest prison population,
behind the United States and China, with more than 720,000 individuals
behind bars, according to official data from 2017. Some Brazilian prisons
have more than three times as many inmates as their maximum capacity.
In the Altamira prison, a local judge counted 343
detainees in a facility authorized for a maximum of 163 people, according to
a report he filed in July and reviewed by The Associated Press.
State prisons authorities said Monday that the
situation there does not meet their requirements to be considered
Congo officials say 2nd Ebola case confirmed in city of Goma
Sunday, July 14, 2019 photo, burial workers put on protective gear
before carrying the remains of Mussa Kathembo, an Islamic scholar who
had prayed over those who were sick, and his wife, Asiya, to their final
resting place in Beni, Congo. Both died of Ebola. (AP Photo/Jerome
Kinshasa, Congo (AP) — Officials in Congo on
Tuesday said a second Ebola case had been confirmed in Goma, the city of
more than 2 million people whose first confirmed case in this yearlong
outbreak was reported earlier this month.
There appeared to be no link between the man's case
and the previous one in Goma, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, a local Ebola
response coordinator, told reporters. He arrived on July 13 from a
mining area in northeastern Congo's Ituri province and started showing
symptoms on July 22. He is now isolated at an Ebola treatment center.
Ebola symptoms can start to occur between two and 21 days from
infection, health experts say.
Goma is on Congo's heavily traveled border with
Rwanda and has an international airport. For months health officials had
feared that an Ebola case would be confirmed there. Days after the first
Goma case was announced, the World Health Organization declared the
Ebola outbreak a rare global emergency.
This has become the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak
in history, with more than 1,700 people killed despite the widespread
use of an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine. Containing the
outbreak faces unprecedented challenges amid attacks by rebel groups and
resistance by wary community residents in a region of Congo that had
never experienced an Ebola outbreak before.
Muyembe and other officials on Tuesday sought to
reassure both Goma residents and neighboring countries that measures
were being taken to strengthen surveillance for Ebola at border posts
and elsewhere. Neighboring Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan began
vaccinating health workers weeks or months ago. WHO says the risk of
regional spread remains "very high."
The declaration of a global health emergency — the
fifth in history — brought a surge of millions of dollars in new pledges
by international donors but some health workers say a new approach is
needed to combat misunderstandings in the community. Far too many people
in this outbreak are still dying at home, they say.
There is no licensed treatment for Ebola and
survival can depend on seeking treatment as quickly as possible. And yet
many people in the region don't believe that Ebola is real, health
workers have said.
The first confirmed Ebola case in Goma was a
46-year-old preacher who managed to pass through three health
checkpoints on the way from Butembo. The city is one of the communities
hardest hit by this outbreak, which is second only to the 2014-16 Ebola
epidemic in West Africa that left more than 11,300 people dead..