Update September 18, 2018
Kim, Moon start possibly most challenging Korean summit yet
image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), South
Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, poses with North Korean leader Kim Jong
Un for a photo on the podium upon arrival in Pyongyang, North Korea,
Tuesday, Sept. 18. (Korea Broadcasting System via AP)
Eric Talmadge and Hyung-Jin Kim
Pyongyang, North Korea (AP) —
South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrived in North Korea on Tuesday for his
third and possibly most challenging summit yet with leader Kim Jong Un in
which he hopes to break an impasse in talks with the United States over the
North's denuclearization and breathe energy into his own efforts to expand
and improve relations between the Koreas.
In what are by now familiar images of
the two Korean leaders hugging and exchanging warm smiles, Kim greeted Moon
at Pyongyang's airport. They walked together past cheering crowds and a
military honor guard then took a drive into the city, where security was
higher than usual.
Traveling with Moon are business
tycoons including Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong, underscoring Moon's hopes to
expand cross-border business projects. Currently, all major joint projects
between the Koreas are stalled because of U.S.-led sanctions.
Moon was expected to have talks with
Kim on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Moon's chief of staff. Moon and
Kim were also expected to hold a joint news conference on Wednesday if their
two sets of summit meetings go smoothly. Moon is to return to Seoul on
North Korea's state-run media reported
early Tuesday that Moon was to begin a visit, but said little else. It said
the two will reaffirm their previous commitments to "peace, prosperity and
the reunification of the Korean Peninsula."
Security was tight. Requests by The
Associated Press to go to the airport or to drive around the city were
This is Moon's first trip to the North
Korean capital, though he has met Kim twice at the border village of
He is under intense pressure from
Washington to advance the denuclearization process. Before his departure he
said he intends to push for "irreversible, permanent peace" and for better
dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington.
"This summit would be very meaningful
if it yielded a resumption of North Korea-U.S. talks," Moon said Tuesday
morning just before his departure. "It's very important for South and North
Korea to meet frequently, and we are turning to a phase where we can meet
anytime we want."
But his chief of staff tried to lower
expectations of major progress on the future of Kim's nuclear arsenal.
Kim, meanwhile, is seemingly riding a
wave of success.
The North just completed an elaborate
celebration replete with a military parade and huge rallies across the
country to mark North Korea's 70th anniversary. China, signaling its support
for Kim's recent diplomatic moves, sent its third-highest party official to
those festivities. That's important because China is the North's biggest
economic partner and is an important political counterbalance to the United
North Korea maintains that it has
developed its nuclear weapons to the point that it can now defend itself
against a potential U.S. attack, and can now shift its focus to economic
development and improved ties with the South. While signaling his
willingness to talk with Washington, Kim's strategy has been to try to elbow
the U.S. away from Seoul so that the two Koreas can take the lead in
deciding how to bring peace and stability to their peninsula.
Talks between the United States and
North Korea, which Moon brokered through his April and May summits with Kim,
have stalled since Kim's meeting with President Donald Trump in Singapore in
North Korea has taken some steps, like
dismantling its nuclear and rocket-engine testing sites, but U.S. officials
have said it must take more serious disarmament steps before receiving
outside concessions. Trump has indicated he may be open to holding another
summit to resuscitate the talks, however.
To keep expectations from getting too
high, Moon's chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, said it's "difficult to have any
optimistic outlook" for progress on denuclearization during the summit.
But he said he still expects the summit
to produce meaningful agreements that "fundamentally remove the danger of
armed clashes and ease fears of war" between the two Koreas.
South Korea last week opened a liaison
office in the North's city of Kaesong, near the Demilitarized Zone. Another
possible area of progress could be on a formal agreement ending the Korean
War, which was halted in 1953 by what was intended to be a temporary
armistice. Military officials have discussed possibly disarming a jointly
controlled area at the Koreas' shared border village, removing front-line
guard posts and halting hostile acts along their sea boundary.
Moon is the third South Korean leader
to visit North Korea's capital for summits. Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun
went to Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007 respectively to meet Kim's father, Kim
Jong Il. Those trips produced a slew of inter-Korean rapprochement projects,
which were suspended after conservatives took power in Seoul.
Hope fades in Philippines for dozens buried in landslides
carry a body recovered from a landslide caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in
Itogon, Benguet province, northern Philippines on Monday, Sept. 17. (AP
Joeal Calupitan and Aaron Favila
Itogon, Philippines (AP) —
Dozens of people believed buried in a landslide unleashed by Typhoon
Mangkhut in the Philippines probably did not survive, a mayor said Monday,
although rescuers kept digging through mud and debris covering a chapel
where they had taken shelter.
Of the 40 to 50 miners and their
families believed inside the chapel, there is a "99 percent" chance that
they all were killed, said Mayor Victorio Palangdan of Itogon, the Benguet
province town that was among the hardest hit by the typhoon that struck
Mangkhut already is confirmed to have
killed 66 people in the Philippines and four in China, where it weakened to
a tropical storm as it churned inland Monday.
Palangdan said rescuers have recovered
11 bodies from the muddy avalanche, which covered a former bunkhouse for the
miners that had been turned into a chapel. Dozens of people sought shelter
there during the storm despite warnings it was dangerous.
"They laughed at our policemen," he
said. "They were resisting when our police tried to pull them away. What can
Police and soldiers were among the
hundreds of rescuers with shovels and picks searching for the missing along
a mountainside as grief-stricken relatives waited nearby, many of them
praying quietly. Bodies in black bags were laid side by side. Those
identified were carried away by relatives, some using crude bamboo slings.
Jonalyn Felipe said she had called her
husband, Dennis, a small-scale gold miner in Itogon, and told him to return
to their home in northern Quirino province as the powerful typhoon
"I was insisting because the storm was
strong but he told me not to worry because he said they're safe there," said
a weeping Felipe, adding that her husband was last seen chatting with fellow
miners in the chapel before it was hit by the collapsing mountainside.
She said she screamed after hearing the
news about her husband, and their 4-year-old son sensed what had happened
and cried too.
Palangdan said authorities "will not
stop until we recover all the bodies."
Itogon resident Roel Ullani helped
search for the missing, including several of his cousins and other
relatives. "For me, it will just be retrievals," he said.
Many of those who sought cover in the
two-story building thought it was sturdy but the storm was just too severe,
with the avalanche covering it "in just a few seconds," Ullani said.
Environmental Secretary Roy Cimatu said
the government will deploy soldiers and police to stop illegal mining in six
mountainous northern provinces, including Benguet, to prevent such
Philippine officials say that gold
mines tunneled by big mining companies and by unauthorized small miners have
made the hillsides unstable and more prone to landslides. Tens of thousands
of small-time miners have come in recent years to the mountain provinces
from the lowlands and established communities in high-risk areas such as the
mountain foothills of Itogon.
On Monday, Mangkhut was still affecting
southern China's coast and the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan,
and rain and strong winds were expected to continue through Tuesday.
The storm was about 200 kilometers (124
miles) west of the city of Nanning in Guangxi region on Monday afternoon,
moving in a northwesterly direction and weakening as it progressed. There
were no new reports of deaths or serious damage.
Life was gradually returning to normal
along the hard-hit southern China coast, where high-rise buildings swayed,
coastal hotels flooded and windows were blown out. Rail, airline and ferry
services were restored and casinos in the gambling enclave of Macau
In Hong Kong, crews cleared fallen
trees and other wreckage left from when the financial hub felt the full
brunt of the storm Sunday.
"This typhoon really was super strong
... but overall, I feel we can say we got through it safely," Carrie Lam,
the territory's chief executive, told reporters.
The Hong Kong Observatory said Mangkhut
was the most powerful storm to hit the city since 1979, packing winds of 195
kph (121 mph).
The typhoon struck Asian population
centers as Hurricane Florence caused catastrophic flooding in parts of North
Carolina in the United States.
Russia: Missile that shot down flight MH17 was Ukrainian
Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov speaks to the media during a
press conference, in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Sept. 17. (Kirill Zykov/Moscow
News Agency via AP)
Moscow (AP) — The Russian
military said on Monday that the missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines
Flight 17, killing all 298 people on board, came from the arsenals of the
Ukrainian army, not from Russia.
The jet was shot down by a Soviet-made
missile over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in July 2014, about 40 kilometers
(25 miles) from the Russian border, where fighting had been raging for
months between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.
The Netherlands and Australia announced
in May that they believe the missile was transported to Ukraine from a
military unit in the Russian city of Kursk.
Russia has vehemently denied
involvement and has over the years come up with various theories as to the
cause of the crash, generally laying the blame on the Ukrainian side.
Lt. Gen. Nikolai Parshin, chief of the
Missile and Artillery Directorate at the Russian Defense Ministry, told
reporters on Monday that the military had studied and declassified archives
at the research center outside Moscow that produced the Buk missiles after
the Dutch investigators displayed parts of the missile and their serial
numbers. Parshin said the Russian archives show that the missile that was
made of these parts was transported to a military unit in western Ukraine in
1986, and to Russia's knowledge never left Ukraine.
Asked about the possibility that the
separatists may have seized the missile system during fighting in 2014,
Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov conceded that Russia
does not have any documents proving otherwise but pointed to the statements
of Ukrainian officials who have denied that separatists seized any of their
The Joint Investigation Team, set up by
nations that lost citizens in the MH17 crash, said in a statement that it
has "taken note" of the information that the Russian military made public on
Monday. The investigators said they had asked Russia for information
regarding the serial numbers before but had not received a reply.
The separatists in the weeks prior to
the plane crash bragged on social media about shooting down Ukrainian
military aircraft. On the day that MH17 crashed, a rebel commander posted
that his troops had shot down a Ukrainian military plane. He later said his
account has been hacked and that the rebels did not shoot down any aircraft
A highly placed rebel, speaking to the
AP shortly after the crash, admitted that rebels were responsible. The
rebels believed they were targeting a Ukrainian military plane, the person
said. He did not speculate, however, on a possible role of the Russian
military in the attack.
The Russian military did provide
material assistance to the rebels, and journalists sighted sophisticated
weapons in the separatist-controlled areas that were never in Ukraine's
Oleksandr Turchynov, secretary of
Ukraine's Security and Defense Council, said on Monday that Russia's claim
is "yet another failed fake report that the Kremlin made up in order to
cover up their crime that has been proven by the official investigation as
well as independent experts."
Argentina's Fernandez charged, arrest sought
this Aug. 13, 2018 file photo, Argentina's former President Cristina
Fernandez gets into a car to go to a court hearing in Buenos Aires,
Argentina. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Debora Rey and Almudena Calatrava
Buenos Aires, Argentina (AP) — A
federal judge indicted former President Cristina Fernandez on Monday and
asked for her arrest for allegedly heading a corruption scheme that
collected bribes from business leaders in exchange for public work
The decision by Judge Claudio Bonadio
published by Argentina's official judicial news agency asked that Fernandez
be taken into custody and for authorities to seize about $100 million from
the former leader.
Bonadio said Fernandez committed crimes
that included "being the boss of an illegal association" and taking bribes
between 2003 and 2015. The period includes her two terms as president as
well as the presidency of her late husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner.
Fernandez's office said she had no
immediate comment, but she has previously denied any wrongdoing. She calls
Bonadio "an enemy judge" who she says is working with the administration of
conservative President Mauricio Macri to persecute opponents and distract
from Argentina's economic crisis.
Fernandez, 65, is currently a senator,
a post that grants her immunity from arrest but not from prosecution. That
immunity could be lifted only by a vote of two-thirds of the country's
The judge also indicted more than 40
former business leaders and former government officials, including
ex-Planning Minister Julio de Vido.
"There was a collusion of officials and
businessmen who made this scheme work, which took out with rigged
proceedings money from the national state to the detriment of education,
health, pensioners, which left the people poorer without sewage, services,
safe transportation," Bonadio wrote. "And all of this was done to distribute
bribes to corrupt officials."
More than a dozen people have been
arrested in the case. They include business leaders and former officials who
served in Fernandez's 2007-2015 administration.
Known as the "notebooks case," the
investigation is based on a probe by the newspaper La Nacion into alleged
corruption over more than a decade during the governments of Fernandez and
Kirchner. The notebooks kept detailed records of bags of cash that were
allegedly delivered to several addresses, including Fernandez's apartment in
It began after authorities received
copies of notebooks with detailed information, photographs and video taken
by a chauffeur of the planning ministry who is thought to have testified as
part of a plea bargain.
Several former business leaders and
ex-government officials have also spoken under plea bargains, but the
details have not been made public.
Since leaving office in 2015, Fernandez
has also been accused of money laundering, possible illegal enrichment and
Last December, Bonadio asked lawmakers
to remove her immunity to allow her arrest on a charge of treason for
allegedly covering up the role of Iranians in a 1994 bomb attack on a Jewish
center — Argentina's worst terrorist attack.
Still, polls say Fernandez remains the
most popular opposition leader and is its best chance for winning if she
runs in next year's presidential election.
Update September 17, 2018
Typhoon pounds China after mud buries dozens in Philippines
Rescuers work on the site where victims were
believed to have been buried by a landslide after Typhoon Mangkhut barreled
across Itogon, Benguet province, northern Philippines, Monday, Sept. 17. (AP
Vincent Yu and Jim Gomez
Hong Kong (AP) — Typhoon
Mangkhut barreled into southern China after lashing the Philippines with
strong winds and heavy rain that caused landslides feared to have buried
More than 2.4 million people had been
evacuated in southern China's Guangdong province by Sunday evening to flee
the typhoon, state media said. "Prepare for the worst," Hong Kong Security
Minister John Lee Ka-chiu urged residents.
That warning followed Mangkhut's
devastating march through the northern Philippines on Saturday with
sustained winds of 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour. National police said
64 people had died there as of Sunday, mostly due to landslides and
collapsed houses, with two additional deaths reported in China.
Landslides caused by the pounding storm
hit two villages in Itogon town in the Philippine mountain province of
Benguet. Police Superintendent Pelita Tacio said 34 villagers had died and
36 were missing.
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan told
The Associated Press by phone that at the height of the typhoon's onslaught
Saturday afternoon, dozens of people, mostly miners and their families,
rushed into an old three-story building in the village of Ucab.
The building — a former mining
bunkhouse that had been transformed into a chapel — was obliterated when
part of a mountain slope collapsed. Three villagers who managed to escape
told authorities what happened.
"They thought they were really safe
there," the mayor said Sunday. He expressed sadness that the villagers, many
of them poor, had few options to survive in a region where big corporations
have profited immensely from gold mines.
The rescue work halted for the night
before resuming Monday morning. Men used pikes and shovels to dig into the
mud since the soaked ground was unstable and limited the use of heavy
equipment on site.
The typhoon was occurring as tropical
weather also was devastating the southern U.S. Florence has dumped
historical levels of rain on North Carolina.
Mangkhut made landfall in the Guangdong
city of Taishan at 5 p.m. Sunday, packing wind speeds of 162 kilometers (100
miles) per hour. State television broadcaster CGTN reported that surging
waves flooded a seaside hotel in the city of Shenzhen.
The storm shattered glass windows on
commercial skyscrapers in Hong Kong, sending sheets of paper pouring out of
the buildings, fluttering and spiraling as they headed for the debris-strewn
ground, according to videos on social media.
Mangkhut also felled trees, tore
scaffolding off buildings under construction and flooded some areas of Hong
Kong with waist-high waters, according to the South China Morning Post.
Casinos on Macau were ordered closed
for the first time due to the typhoon. A red alert, the most severe warning,
was issued for densely populated southern China, which the national
meteorological center said would face a "severe test caused by wind and
Flights over the weekend and into
Monday were canceled in Hong Kong and the mainland cities of Shenzhen,
Haikou, Sanya, Guangzhou and Zhuhai. All high-speed and some normal rail
services in Guangdong and Hainan provinces were also halted, the China
Railway Guangzhou Group Co. said.
Roads shut after 2 fall ill in UK city where ex-spy poisoned
services personnel stage outside Prezzo restaurant, Sunday, Sept. 16, in
Salisbury, United Kingdom, where police have closed streets as a
"precautionary measure" after two people were taken ill from the restaurant,
amid heightened tensions after the Novichok poisonings earlier in the year.
(Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)
London (AP) — Police closed
roads and called a hazardous response team Sunday night after two people
became ill at a restaurant in the English city where a Russian ex-spy and
his daughter were poisoned with a chemical nerve agent.
Wiltshire Police described the
emergency steps taken in response to "a medical incident" in Salisbury as a
precaution. Authorities later lifted the alert and said no evidence of the
nerve agent Novichok involved in the earlier case was found when the two ill
people were examined at a hospital.
Salisbury spent months with quarantine
tents and investigators in full-body protective gear combing for evidence
after Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter were found unconscious on a
bench in March.
Its residents were put back on edge in
June when a man and a woman living in a nearby town were hospitalized with
signs of exposure to the same Soviet-made Novichok. The woman, 44-year-old
Dawn Sturgess, died.
Britain's counter-terrorism police said
this month they think Sturgess' boyfriend found a counterfeit perfume bottle
containing remnants of the substance originally applied on the front door of
Skripals home in Salisbury.
The man and woman who got sick at the
Prezzo restaurant in Salisbury remained in the hospital under observation
but "we can now confirm that there is nothing to suggest that Novicho" was
involved, Wiltshire Police said in a statement.
"A cordon will remain in place around
Prezzo at this time as part of ongoing routine enquiries. All other areas
that were cordoned off will now be reopened," the statement added.
British prosecutors have charged two
Russian men in absentia with poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter,
Yulia. They have alleged Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were Russian
intelligence agents, which they and Moscow have denied.
Thousands march to promote vote for Macedonia name deal
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, center, takes a part in a march named "For
European Macedonia", through a street in Skopje, Macedonia, Sunday, Sept.
16. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Skopje, Macedonia (AP) —
Thousands of people marched in Macedonia's capital Sunday to promote support
for changing the country's name in an upcoming referendum that also could
clear the way for NATO membership.
The referendum scheduled for Sept 30
will seek voter approval of an agreement with Greece to rename the small
Balkan nation "North Macedonia."
The deal is designed to end a bitter
27-year dispute over rights to the Macedonia title and to remove Greek
objections to its northern neighbor becoming a member of NATO and the
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev,
who reached the agreement with Greece's prime minister in June, addressed
the marchers in front of the EU's office in Skopje. He urged citizens to
grasp a historic opportunity and back the name deal, which he described as
"The message is: We want the future, we
want a European Macedonia! It is our responsibility to secure a future for
our children and their children," Zaev said.
Opposition party VMRO-DPMNE staged its
own rally Sunday in the eastern town of Stip to encourage voters to reject
the name change.
Opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski,
who has criticized the government for accepting a deal that in his view
prioritizes Greek interests, said, "Citizens have the right to fight until
the last breath".
Despite the forceful words, VMRO-DPMNE
and the rest of Macedonia's political opposition have advised supporters to
vote according to their consciences.
Voter turnout will be a crucial factor
in the referendum: 50 percent plus one of Macedonia's 1.8 million registered
voters must cast ballots for the referendum vote to be valid.
Opinion polls indicate the name change
would be approved, but turnout could fall just short of the required
Palestinian stabs American-Israeli man to death in West Bank
police investigate at the scene of a stabbing attack in the West Bank
settlement of Gush Etzion Sunday, Sept. 16. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Jerusalem (AP) — A Palestinian
assailant on Sunday fatally stabbed an Israeli settler outside a busy mall
in the West Bank.
The victim was identified as Ari Fuld,
a U.S.-born activist who was well-known in the local settler community and
an outspoken Israel advocate on social media platforms.
The military said the attacker arrived
at the mall near a major junction in the southern West Bank, close to the
Gush Etzion settlement bloc, and stabbed the Fuld before fleeing.
Video footage showed Fuld giving chase
and firing at his assailant before collapsing. Other civilians shot the
attacker, whom Israeli media identified as a 17-year-old from a nearby
Palestinian village. He was reportedly in moderate condition.
Fuld, a 45-year-old father of four who
lived in the nearby settlement of Efrat, was evacuated to a hospital, where
he was pronounced dead.
Fuld was a well-known English-language
internet commenter on current affairs and the weekly Torah lesson. He was
known for his hard-line nationalist ideology and strong support for the
Settler spokesman Josh Hasten, who said
he had known Fuld for about a decade, said his friend traveled widely to
showcase "the beauty and reality of life" in the country.
He delivered care packages to Israeli
soldiers and would go on solidarity trips to communities near the Gaza Strip
during times of fighting with the Hamas militant group, Hasten said.
"When the rockets were falling, that's
when he would get in his car and go down to Sderot," Hasten said.
Fuld also was known for an outspoken
manner that included verbal clashes with Palestinians and critics of Israel
that could land him in trouble. At times, his Facebook account was
"He did not hold back on his opinions,"
Hasten said. "If that meant 30 days of Facebook jail, so be it."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
lauded Fuld on Facebook for fighting his attacker "heroically" and
remembered him as "an advocate for Israel who fought to spread the truth."
On Twitter, David Friedman, the U.S.
ambassador to Israel and a strong supporter of the settlements, called him
"a passionate defender of Israel & an American patriot."
Since 2015, Palestinians have killed
over 50 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist in stabbings,
shootings and car-ramming attacks. Israeli forces killed over 260
Palestinians in that period, of which Israel says most were attackers.
Update September 15-16, 2018
Florence rolls ashore in Carolinas, tears buildings apart
provided by Angie Propst, shows a boat wedged in trees during Hurricane
Florence in Oriental, N.C, one of nine incorporated municipalities in
Pamlico County, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (Angie Propst via AP)
truck drives on Hwy 24 as the wind from Hurricane Florence blows palm trees
in Swansboro N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)
By Jonathan Drew, Associated
Wilmington, N.C. (AP) —
Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore in North Carolina with howling 90 mph
winds and terrifying storm surge early Friday, ripping apart buildings and
knocking out power to a half-million homes and businesses as it settled in
for what could be a long and extraordinarily destructive drenching.
More than 60 people had to be pulled
from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm. Hundreds more had to be
rescued elsewhere from rising waters, and others could only hold out hope
someone would come for them.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU," the city of
New Bern tweeted around 2 a.m. "You may need to move up to the second story,
or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU."
More ominously, forecasters said the
onslaught on the coast would last for hours and hours because Florence had
come almost to a dead halt at just 3 mph (6 kph) as of midday.
There were no immediate reports of any
Florence made landfall as a Category 1
hurricane at 7:15 a.m. at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of
Wilmington, not far from the South Carolina line, coming ashore along a
mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.
Its storm surge and the prospect of 1
to 3½ feet of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which
dropped off from an alarming 140 mph — Category 4 — earlier in the week.
Forecasters said catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected well inland
over the next few days as Florence crawls westward across the Carolinas all
The area is expected to get about as
much rain in three days as Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd dropped in two weeks
Preparing for the worst, about 9,700
National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles,
helicopters and boats that could be used to pluck people from the
Florence was seen as a major test for
the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as
slow and unprepared last year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the
storm was blamed for nearly 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath.
The National Hurricane Center said
Florence will eventually make a right hook to the northeast over the
southern Appalachians, moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England
as a tropical depression by the middle of next week.
For people living inland in the
Carolinas, the moment of maximum peril from flash flooding could arrive days
later, because it takes time for rainwater to drain into rivers and for
those streams to crest. Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides
and the risk of environmental havoc from floodwaters washing over industrial
waste sites and hog farms.
On Friday, coastal streets in the
Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, pieces of torn-apart buildings
flew through the air, and at least 525,000 homes and businesses were without
power, nearly all of them in North Carolina.
The few cars out on a main street in
Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power
lines. Traffic lights out of order because of power failures swayed in the
gusty wind. Roof shingles were peeled off a hotel.
At 11 a.m., the center of Florence was
about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Wilmington, its winds down to 80
mph (130 kmh), according to the hurricane center. Hurricane-force winds
extended 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force
winds reached out 195 miles (315 kilometers).
The Wilmington airport had a wind gust
clocked at 105 mph (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958,
the weather service said.
Sheets of rain splattered against
windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of
Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the electricity went
"Very eerie, the wind howling, the rain
blowing sideways, debris flying," said Orsa, who lives nearby and feared
splintering trees would pummel her house.
Forecasters said Florence's surge could
cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4
meters) of sea water.
The rising sea crept toward the
two-story home of Tom Copeland, who lives on a spit of land surrounded by
water in Swansboro.
The water "is as high as it's ever
been, and waves are breaking on my point, which is normally grass," said
Copeland, a freelance photographer for The Associated Press. "Trees are
blowing down in the wind. Nothing's hit the house yet, but it's still
In Jacksonville, next to Camp Lejeune,
firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to
pull people out of the Triangle Motor Inn after the cinderblock structure
began to crumble and the roof started to collapse.
Farther up the coast, in New Bern,
about 150 people waited to be rescued from flooding on the Neuse River,
WXII-TV reported. New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Charlotte Observer
about 200 people already had been rescued by 5 a.m.
The worst of the storm's fury had yet
to reach coastal South Carolina, where emergency managers said it was not
too late for people to get out.
"There is still time, but not a lot of
time," said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency
More than 12,000 people were in
shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less
dire. Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia
were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did. More than 3,000
inmates at North Carolina prisons and juvenile detention centers were moved
out of the storm's path.
Associated Press writers Seth
Borenstein in Washington; Jeffrey Collins in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina;
Jennifer Kay in Miami; Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina; Sarah
Rankin and Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Meg Kinnard in Columbia,
South Carolina; Skip Foreman in Charlotte, North Carolina; Jeff Martin in
Hampton, Georgia; David Koenig in Dallas; Gerry Broome at Nags Head, North
Carolina; and Jay Reeves in Atlanta contributed to this report.
SpaceX changes plans to send tourists around the moon
Feb. 6, 2018 file photo, Elon Musk, founder, CEO, and lead designer of
SpaceX, speaks at a news conference after the Falcon 9 SpaceX heavy rocket
launched successfully from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
SpaceX says it’s signed the first private moon traveler. The big reveal on
who it is _ and when the flight to the moon will be _ is scheduled for
Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace
Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX said
it has signed the first private moon traveler, with some changes to its
original game plan.
The big reveal on who it is — and when
the flight to the moon will be — will be announced Monday at the company's
headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
It's not the same mission SpaceX
founder Elon Musk outlined last year. The original plan called for two
paying passengers to fly around the moon this year, using a Falcon Heavy
rocket and a Dragon crew capsule.
At the time, Musk said the pair
approached SpaceX about sending them on a weeklong flight and paid a
"significant" deposit for the trip.
The new strategy is to still fly around
the moon, but using an even bigger SpaceX rocket still in development that
has its own dedicated passenger ship. And now, it appears there will be
only one person aboard.
Given that this new BFR rocket, as it's
dubbed, has yet to be built, the flight presumably is at least a few years
SpaceX put out the teaser via Twitter
late Thursday, and Musk also tweeted out the news. Company representatives
declined to offer additional details Friday.
Musk's ultimate goal is to colonize
Mars. This lunar mission — a flyby, not a landing — represents "an important
step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to
space," SpaceX said in a tweet.
On its website, SpaceX is touting the
"first passenger on lunar BFR mission," implying there will be more.
It would be humanity's first lunar
visit since 1972. Twenty-four NASA astronauts flew to the moon from 1968
through 1972, and only 12 of them strolled its dusty surface. Next July will
mark the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing by Apollo 11's
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
The Associated Press Health &
Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible
for all content.
As Trump threatens election meddlers, Russia says 'so what?'
In this file
photo taken on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, People walk past a caricature
picture of U.S. President Donald Trump on sale in a shopping mall in Moscow,
Russia. US President Trump's new executive sanctions order signed Wednesday
Sept. 12, 2018, authorizing sanctions on foreigners who mess with American
elections could herald new headaches for Moscow. (AP Photo/Alexander
By Angela Charlton, Associated
Paris (AP) — President Donald
Trump is finally making moves against foreign election meddling — and Russia
says it couldn't care less.
Trump's executive order this week
authorizing sanctions on foreigners who mess with American elections could
herald new headaches for Moscow.
But Russian officialdom shrugged it off
as internal U.S. politicking and analysts say it would barely bruise
Russia's economy and do little to deter interference in November's midterms,
since Russia denies meddling anyway.
A Russian PR agent who runs a
provocative U.S. website says the executive order isn't denting his resolve
to expand in the next few months.
"There's such a huge quantity of
sanctions, everyone's getting them confused," said Alexander Malkevich,
editor of news site USAReally, which is funded by the sponsors of the
Russian "troll factory" accused of interference in the 2016 U.S. vote.
"We are not planning to do agitation or
propaganda for one candidate (in the midterms) or another," Malkevich told
The Associated Press.
However he said the site will focus on
coverage of immigration, and policies that he say coddle immigrants. He
displays Trump paraphernalia in his Moscow office, and harbors deep disdain
A series of sanctions on Russian
officials, oligarchs and companies by the U.S. have progressively deepened
Russian resentment, and Russians see Trump's new order as further reducing
any remaining chances for detente.
"It's about how we can build any kind
of partnership, including on those issues where it is still potentially
possible," said Russian senator Oleg Morozov, who sits on the foreign
affairs committee, told news agency RIA Novosti after Trump signed the
sanctions order Wednesday
"This window of opportunity is turning
into a little slit."
Trump's executive order came amid
bipartisan criticism of his refusal to confront Putin at a joint news
conference in Helsinki in July about accusations of Russian hacking,
trolling and manipulation during the 2016 presidential campaign.
With a sweeping investigation underway
into what Russia did and whether it colluded with the Trump campaign, the
White House has imposed some sanctions against Russia and expelled Russian
spies. But domestic critics say Trump isn't going far enough.
His new order authorizes sanctions
against any individual, company or country that interferes with things like
voter databases or tabulation equipment; it also targets activities such as
distributing disinformation or propaganda to influence or damage confidence
in U.S. elections.
In theory, it could be used to punish
those meddling in the midterms. U.S. intelligence officials say they're not
seeing the intensity of Russian intervention registered in 2016 but are
particularly concerned about potential midterm-related activity by Russia,
China, Iran and North Korea.
Microsoft said it uncovered new Russian
hacking efforts targeting U.S. political groups ahead of the November vote.
Google told a senatorial candidate that he might have been the target of
hackers tied to a "nation-state." And Facebook recently banned hundreds of
pages, groups or accounts linked to Russia and Iran for misleading political
Trump's executive order is vague and
doesn't name any particular target, however.
"It's rather lightweight," said
independent Russian political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin. "It doesn't bring a
serious blow to Putin's position."
If Russia has a structure in place to
interfere in the midterms, Oreshkin said the executive order could prompt
this structure to "create an extra layer of isolation to ensure that it will
be very hard to follow the path (of hacking or disinformation) to its
Russia's leaders are also worried about
heavier sanctions already in place over Moscow's interference abroad that
are squeezing whole economic sectors — and the potential for more. Some
speculate that Trump's order was aimed not at scaring Russia but at
deflating support for broader sanctions under discussion in Congress.
A bill by Republican and Democratic
senators would target entire economic sectors of a country that interferes,
and prohibit foreign governments from purchasing election ads or using
social media to spread false information.
Separately, the U.S. energy secretary,
visiting Moscow this week, threatened energy-related sanctions on Russia
that could do deep damage to the oil- and gas-rich country.
Analyst Chris Weafer of consultancy
Macro-Advisory said Trump's election meddling sanctions would be too narrow
to have much economic impact and would not "themselves cause a crisis in
However, he said, the "salami-slice
approach "reinforces the perception of risk, particularly for foreign
"As the sanctions get tougher, what we
see is companies are delaying investment decisions."
Meanwhile, Russian-run website
USAReally — which purports to cover news "hushed up" by the mainstream
media, but in fact carries a mix of repackaged articles from freak accidents
to recent teachers' strikes in Washington state — is gradually building its
Malkevich said it currently has 11,000
unique readers a day, even though it's banned from leading American social
networks and is still in a "test version."
Asked when the full-scale site will
launch, he said, "by Christmas," at the latest.
James Ellingworth in Moscow
AP Interview: Poland seeks EU 'empathy' for US sanctions
Poland's Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz says
that President Andrzej Duda will discuss boosting the U.S. military presence
in Poland and greater U.S. economic involvement when he is hosted by
President Donald Trump at the White House next week, during an interview for
the Associated Press in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP
By Monika Scislowska, Associated Press
Warsaw, Poland (AP) — Poland
sees itself as a bridge in trans-Atlantic rifts between the European Union
and the Trump administration and wants the EU to show "greater empathy" for
U.S. sanctions on Iran, the country's foreign minister said Friday.
Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told The
Associated Press in an interview that Washington was "right" to announce
renewed sanctions while withdrawing from the international Iran nuclear
deal. Poland is making that argument with the EU, Czaputowicz said.
Polish President Andrzej Duda is
scheduled to visit the White House for talks with President Donald Trump on
Tuesday. Defense, Central Europe's energy security and economic cooperation
are among the topics on the leaders' agenda.
Trump withdrew from 2015 nuclear accord
in May and re-imposed some sanctions on Iran. More sanctions are to be
imposed in November. Britain, France and Germany were parties to the nuclear
accord, and the EU created a financial support package to bolster the
"We do not want to have the EU acting
against American policy, meaning against these sanctions," Czaputowicz said,
adding that Poland is seeking "greater empathy and understanding toward the
American policy" and wants to "reconcile, unite" the positions of Washington
During Duda's trip next week, an
announcement is expected on improving Poland's defense capability in the
face of Russia's increased military activity, Czaputowicz told the AP.
Poland also is lobbying for the 3,000
U.S. troops now deployed in Poland on a rotating basis to be upgraded to a
larger, permanent presence, a decision from the U.S. could come early next
year, he said.
"It is our goal to raise the security
of the people in Poland," Czaputowicz said. "Only the U.S. has a sufficient
military force today that Russia" would recognize as a constraint.
Separately, Czaputowicz said Poland
would defend its ally Hungary with the European Union. The EU's lawmaking
body decided Thursday to pursue action against the Hungarian government for
allegedly undermining the bloc's democratic values.
Czaputowicz said Poland would "veto for
sure" any proposed punishments for Hungary. The EU is also pursuing a
sanctioning procedure against Poland over the right-wing government's
alleged rule of law violations.
Clashes with Brussels have raised
questions about Poland's attachment to the 28-member EU.
"We are for a strong European Union in
the area of its economy, its institutions and democracy that takes into
account various points of view," Czaputowicz said in the interview.
Update September 14, 2018
Philippines starts massive evacuations as huge typhoon nears
Filipino forecaster Meno Mendoza illustrates the path of
Typhoon Mangkhut, locally named "Typhoon Ompong" as it approaches the
Philippines with sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (127 miles per
hour) and gusts of up to 255 kph (158 mph), at the Philippine Atmospheric,
Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration in metropolitan Manila,
Philippines on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Philippines (AP) — Philippine officials have
begun evacuating thousands of people in the path of the most powerful
typhoon this year, closing schools and readying bulldozers for landslides.
considered as the strongest and most massive so far this season, could hit
northeastern Cagayan province on Saturday. It was tracked on Thursday about
725 kilometers (450 miles) away in the Pacific with sustained winds of 205
kilometers (127 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 255 kph (158 mph).
Cagayan Gov. Manuel
Mamba tells The Associated Press by telephone that evacuations of residents
from risky coastal villages and island municipalities north of the province
have started and classes in all levels have been canceled.
have been placed on full alert.
Meno Mendoza illustrates the path of Typhoon Mangkhut, locally named
"Typhoon Ompong" as it approaches the Philippines with sustained winds of
205 kilometers per hour (127 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 255 kph (158
mph), at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services
Administration in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, Sept. 12,
2018. Philippine officials say they plan to evacuate thousands of villagers,
shut down schools and offices and scramble to harvest rice and corn as the
most powerful typhoon so far this year menacingly roars toward the country's
north. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
UK says Brexit could mean less warning of falling space junk
Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European
Union Dominic Raab, right, and EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier
walk in the hallway prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)
Lawless, Associated Press
London (AP) — It
turns out the consequences of Brexit may not be confined to Earth.
government said Thursday that the U.K. may get less warning of falling space
debris if the country leaves the bloc without a divorce agreement.
The news was one of
the more eye-catching items in a government assessment of the disruption to
Britain's economy and daily life that would be caused by a "no deal" Brexit.
Britain is due to
leave the 28-nation EU on March 29, but divorce negotiations have become
bogged down amid divisions within Britain's Conservative government over how
close an economic relationship to seek with the bloc.
government says it is confident the two sides will reach a deal, but has
recently stepped up preparations for leaving without an agreement.
On Thursday it
published the second batch in a trove of more than 70 papers looking at the
potential impact on various sectors of the economy.
disclosed that, without a deal, Britain will no longer receive data from the
EU Space Surveillance and Tracking Program, set up to protect satellites and
people on Earth from space debris.
The U.K. would no
longer be part of the organization or receive its warnings about space
objects or debris falling to earth, the government said — though "the U.K.
will continue to receive space, surveillance and tracking data from the
United States of America."
lawmaker Jo Stevens, a supporter of the anti-Brexit group Best for Britain,
said "it is deeply worrying that the U.K. will be shut out of some of the
most cutting-edge research in the world."
Theresa May "used to say Brexit wouldn't be the end of the world — but
actually it could be!" she said.
The papers also said
British drivers traveling to the continent might need to get International
Driving Permits if the EU did not agree to recognize U.K. licenses. British
cell phone users might have to pay roaming charges, abolished in the EU.
The assessments also
warned of major disruption for tech firms. The government said British firms
won't be able to bid for work on the EU's Galileo satellite navigation
program if there is no deal, and "may face difficulty carrying out and
completing existing contracts."
A no-deal Brexit
would also disrupt the transfer of personal data between Britain and the EU.
The government said Britain would "continue to allow the free flow of
personal data from the U.K. to the EU," but there is no guarantee the EU
would allow data to be transferred in the other direction.
Business groups said
the papers showed that no-deal Brexit would mean a mountain of red tape.
Carolyn Fairbairn of
the Confederation of British Industry said that "extra costs, duplication of
certification and interruptions to data flows would damage the economy, with
a knock-on impact for living standards."
The first batch of
papers, released last month, said businesses could face red tape at the
border, while customers could see higher credit card fees and patients could
endure delays to medical treatment. There was even a warning that there
could be a shortage of donor sperm if Britain crashes out of the bloc
without a deal.
Dominic Raab said the government was being honest with the public.
"In the event of a
no-deal scenario, which is not what we want, we would face short-term risks
and short-term disruption," he said.
But he added that
the government had plans in place "to manage those risks, avoid them where
possible, or mitigate them."
Raab also warned the
EU that Britain would withhold billions of euros (dollars) of a promised
divorce payment if there is no Brexit deal. Raab said in that event the U.K.
would pay "significantly, substantially" less than the agreed-upon 39
billion pounds ($51 billion).
"It's not a threat
and it's not an ultimatum, it's a statement of fact," he said.
David Hockney painting expected to break auction records
A Christie's employee approaches David Hockney's
"Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)," Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018,
in New York. One of the British artist's famous "pool paintings" will be
auctioned at Christie's in November, and is considered one of his premier
works. Christie's has estimated the work at about $80 million, but says it
expects it to sell for more. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Noveck, AP National Writer
New York (AP)
— One of David Hockney's famous "pool paintings" is coming to auction and is
expected to sell in the $80 million range, easily breaking the record for a
work by a living artist sold at auction.
The British artist's
"Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)," to be auctioned at
Christie's in November, is considered one of his premier works. Christie's
has estimated the work at about $80 million, but says it expects it to sell
The previous record
for a work by a living artist was set by Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog," which
sold for $58.4 million in 2013.
The 1972 painting by
Hockney, now 81, is "the holy grail of his paintings, from both the
historical and the market perspectives," said Alex Rotter, co-chairman of
post-war and contemporary art at Christie's. He noted that it reflects both
the European and the American perspectives of an artist who came to live in
California in the '60s, and saw himself as living on both continents.
"It has all the
elements that you would want in a Hockney painting," Rotter said in an
interview. "The California landscape, the beautiful trees and flowers and
the sky, and then what we know him most for, which is the pool." He noted
that writers have referred to the swimming pool itself as being sort of a
self-portrait of Hockney, though he never confirmed that, just saying he was
fascinated to paint moving water.
The painting has
been held by a private collector, and "we have been trying to get it for a
very long time," Rotter said.
A depiction of two
men — one swimming the breaststroke underwater, the other standing by the
pool looking down — the painting was originally inspired, according to
background provided by Christie's, by two photographs Hockney found
juxtaposed on his studio floor, one of a swimmer in Hollywood in 1966, and
another of a boy staring at something on the ground.
The standing figure
is said to represent Peter Schlesinger, whom the artist met in 1966, when
the younger man was a student in one of Hockney's art classes at UCLA. For
the next five years, according to Christie's, he was both "the great love of
Hockney's life" and one of his favorite models.
ended in 1971. Hockney had already begun the painting and he abandoned it,
starting again the following year.
The upcoming sale,
Rotter said, "will definitely be a record for David Hockney at auction. And
with Mr. Hockney one of the last of his generation still standing, and also
painting, this painting will likely be the most expensive work by a living
artist sold at auction."
But who will buy an
$80 million painting?
"It will be someone
who wants the best painting of an artist," Rotter said, "and the best
painting of an artist with historical relevance."
He added: "Wherever
it ends up, I can tell you it will be surrounded by other top works of the
Poland's Tomasz Ritter wins Chopin contest on period pianos
Swigut, right, applauds Tomasz Ritter, left, of Poland who is declared the
winner of the 1st Chopin Competition on Period Instruments in Warsaw,
Poland, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. The announcement took place after each of
the six finalists played a Chopin concerto accompanied by the
Amsterdam-based Orchestra of the 18th century. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
By Monika Scislowska, Associated
Warsaw, Poland (AP) — Tomasz
Ritter of Poland was announced the winner Thursday of the world's first
Frederic Chopin piano competition performed on instruments from the
Japan's Naruhiko Kawaguci and Poland's
Aleksandar Swigut both won second place. Third place went to Krzysztof
Ksiazek of Poland. Dmitry Ablogin of Russia and France's Antoine de Grolee
won honorable mentions.
The announcement by the 11-member
international jury came after each of the six finalists played a Chopin
concerto accompanied by the Amsterdam-based Orchestra of the 18th Century
with conductor Grzegorz Nowak.
The competition's sponsors, the
National Frederic Chopin Institute and Poland's state Radio and Television,
want to encourage young pianists to explore the original sound of music
written by Poland's best-loved composer and by his contemporaries.
Ritter played on an 1842 Pleyel piano,
Swigut on an 1837 Erard, Kawaguci on an 1842 Pleyel and Ksiazek on an 1849
Erard. One of their characteristics is a softer sound than that of
One of the jury members, Janusz
Olejniczak, told The Associated Press that historical instruments require a
different playing technique but also broaden the pianist's skills and
approach to music.
The winner of the 1st Chopin
Competition on Period Instruments collects a 15,000-euro ($17,400) prize as
well as concert and recording offers. Second prize is 10,000 euros and third
is 5,000 euros.
Special prizes from the orchestra went
to Ksiazek and Swigut. The orchestra's musicians specialize in 18th and
early 19th century music and play on period instruments.
Chopin was born in 1810 in Zelazowa
Wola near Warsaw, to a Polish mother and a French father. He received his
music education in Warsaw and started composing and giving concerts there.
He left Poland at age 20 and settled in Paris, Europe's center of art and
music at the time. He composed mostly for the piano and much of his work was
inspired by Poland's music, such as the polonaise and the mazurka dances.
The competition was part of Poland's
celebrations of 100 years of regained independence. The next one is to be
held in 2023.
German spy chief's future creates new strains in government
Hans-Georg Maassen, head of
the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, arrives
for a public hearing at the parliamentary control committee of the German
federal parliament in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (Bernd von
Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)
— The future of Germany's domestic intelligence chief is creating new
strains in Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government following his
much-criticized comments about recent far-right protests in the eastern city
Horst Seehofer told parliament Thursday that Hans-Georg Maassen retains his
confidence as head of the BfV intelligence agency. Seehofer said Maassen
explained his remarks "convincingly."
Members of the
center-left Social Democrats, the junior partner in Chancellor Angela
Merkel's coalition government, made clear they don't agree.
The killing of a
German man, for which an Iraqi and a Syrian have been arrested, prompted
days of anti-migrant protests in Chemnitz that at times turned violent.
In comments to the
mass-circulation Bild daily last week, Maassen questioned the authenticity
of a video showing protesters chasing down and attacking a foreigner.
Update September 13, 2018
Cambodian prime minister says 'let us fix our own problems'
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, left,
gestures as he talks his vision on the Mekong region as Laos' Prime Minister
Thongloun Sisoulith, center, and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi
listen in the World Economic Forum on ASEAN at the National Convention
Center Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 in Hanoi, Vietnam. (AP Photo/Bullit
By Elaine Kurtenbach and Minh Van Tran, Associated Press
Hanoi, Vietnam (AP) — Cambodian
Prime Minister Hun Sen slammed criticism by outsiders of political issues in
the Mekong region, saying Wednesday that the countries should be allowed to
solve their own problems.
Speaking at a World Economic Forum
gathering in Hanoi, Hun Sen heatedly defended Myanmar against accusations
its security forces have engaged in genocide against its Rohingya minority.
Hun Sen said other countries do not
understand the problems that Myanmar and its neighbors face.
"The situation in Myanmar is more
serious because it has been accused of genocide, but do those who might
accuse them know about Myanmar and do they know how to solve the situation
up there?" he said, as he sat on the stage with Myanmar's leader, Nobel
Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and leaders from Vietnam, Laos and
Cambodia's one-party legislature
confirmed Hun Sen for another five-year term last week, cementing his status
as one of the world's longest-serving leaders.
The 66-year-old Hun Sen has been in
power for 33 years and declared before the election that he intended to
serve two more terms.
Speaking vehemently at the end of a day
of seminars and speeches focused on economic and development issues, he said
Vietnam and Laos, with their communist, one-party governments, and
Thailand's military-led government should be allowed to be "peaceful
politically." Governments in Europe and elsewhere should not try to impose
conditions on them, he said.
"The countries that do not know our
countries, please leave us to solve our problems for ourselves," he said.
Moon rock hunter closes in on tracking down missing stones
Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, photo, shows moon rocks encased in acrylic at the
Clark Planetarium, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
By Lindsay Whitehurst, Associated
Salt Lake City (AP) — A strange
thing happened after Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 crew returned from the
moon with lunar rocks: Many of the mementos given to every U.S. state
vanished. Now, after years of sleuthing, a former NASA investigator is
closing in on his goal of locating the whereabouts of all 50.
In recent weeks, two of the rocks that
disappeared after the 1969 mission were located in Louisiana and Utah,
leaving only New York and Delaware with unaccounted-for souvenirs.
Attorney and moon rock hunter Joseph
Gutheinz says it "blows his mind," that the rocks were not carefully
chronicled and saved by some of the states that received them. But he is
hopeful the last two can be located before the 50th anniversary of the
Apollo 11 mission next summer.
"It's a tangible piece of history," he
said. "Neil Armstrong's first mission ... was to reach down and grab some
rocks and dust in case they needed to make an emergency takeoff."
President Richard Nixon's
administration presented the tiny lunar samples to all 50 states and 135
countries, but few were officially recorded and most disappeared, Gutheinz
Each state got a tiny sample encased in
acrylic and mounted on a wooden plaque, along with the state flag. Some were
placed in museums, while others went on display in state capitols. But
almost no state entered them into archival records, and Gutheinz said many
lost track of them.
When Gutheinz started leading the
effort to find them in 2002, he estimates 40 states had lost track of the
"I think part of it was, we honestly
believed that going back to the moon was going to be a regular occurrence,"
But there were only five more journeys
before the last manned moon landing, Apollo 17, in 1972.
Of the Apollo 11 rocks given to other
countries, about 70 percent remain unaccounted for, he said.
The U.S. government also sent out a
second set of goodwill moon rocks to the states and other nations after the
Apollo 17 mission, and many of those are missing as well, he said.
NASA did not track their whereabouts
after giving them to the Nixon administration for distribution, said chief
historian Bill Barry, but added the space agency would be happy to see them
Gutheinz began his career as an
investigator for NASA, where he found illicit sellers asking millions for
rocks on the black market. Authentic moon rocks are considered national
treasures and cannot legally be sold in the U.S., he said.
He became aware while at NASA that the
gifts to the states were missing, but only began his hunt after leaving the
Now a lawyer in the Houston area, he's
also a college instructor who's enlisted the help of his students. The
record their findings of the whereabouts of the discovered moon gems in a
Many of the Apollo 11 rocks have turned
up in some unexpected places: with ex-governors in West Virginia and
Colorado, in a military-artifact storage building in Minnesota and with a
former crab boat captain from TV's "Deadliest Catch" in Alaska.
In New York, officials that oversee the
state museum have no record of that state's Apollo 11 rock. In Delaware, the
sample was stolen from its state museum on Sept. 22, 1977. Police were
contacted, but it was never found.
The U.S. Virgin Islands territory,
meanwhile, cannot confirm that they ever received a goodwill rock, though
the University of the Virgin Islands later received Apollo 11 rocks for
scientific research, said chief conservator Julio Encarnacion III.
In other states, though Gutheinz has
recently hit paydirt. The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge located
Louisiana's Apollo 11 moon rock in early August after a call from Gutheinz.
In Utah, the division of state history
had no record of the sample, but The Associated Press confirmed it was in
storage at Salt Lake City's Clark Planetarium.
Officials there may bring it out as
part of celebrations recognizing the Apollo 11 anniversary next year,
something Gutheinz hopes to see everywhere.
"The people of the world deserve this,"
he said. "They deserve to see something that our astronauts accomplished and
be a part it."
Leading Brexit supporters deny plot to topple Theresa May
Theresa May, Britain's
Prime Minister (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
By Jill Lawless, Associated Press
London (AP) — Leading
Brexit-supporting lawmakers insisted Wednesday that they aren't about to
topple Prime Minister Theresa May, despite strong opposition to her plan for
taking Britain out of the European Union.
A faction of May's Conservative Party
opposes her proposal to keep the U.K. aligned to EU rules after Brexit in
return for free trade in goods. They say that would keep Britain tethered to
the bloc and unable to strike new trade deals around the world.
Several dozen rebel lawmakers have
discussed attempting to trigger a no-confidence vote in May in hope of
replacing her with a strongly pro-Brexit politician such as former Foreign
Secretary Boris Johnson, a fierce critic of May's Brexit blueprint.
But pro-Brexit Environment Secretary
Michael Gove said Wednesday that speculation about a leadership challenge is
just "loose talk."
He said May is doing a "great job at
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis,
who quit the government in July over differences with May, said she is a
"very good" prime minister who "should stay in place because we need
Britain is due to leave the EU on March
29, but divorce talks have foundered amid Conservative divisions over how
close a relationship to seek with the bloc.
Hopes are fading that Britain and the
EU can strike a deal at an EU summit in October as originally planned, but
there are growing expectations that the EU is planning another meeting for
EU leaders have issued encouraging
statements recently, saying a deal is possible in the next two months if
both sides are realistic.
European Commission President
Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday that EU negotiators "stand ready to work
day and night to reach a deal."
"I welcome Prime Minister May's
proposal to develop an ambitious new partnership for the future after
Brexit," Juncker said during a speech in Strasbourg.
But a deal is far from done, and the
U.K. has stepped up planning for a "no-deal" Brexit, which could disrupt
trade, transport and other sectors of the economy. The chief executive of
automaker Jaguar Land Rover on Tuesday called a no-deal Brexit a
"horrifying" scenario that could cost tens of thousands of jobs.
Conservative opponents of May's
"Chequers" plan — named for the country-house retreat where it was drawn up
— are trying to show they have an alternative proposal for breaking free of
The "hard Brexit"-supporting European
Research Group on Wednesday published its plan for solving one of the
thorniest outstanding issues — the border between the U.K.'s Northern
Ireland and EU member Ireland. Britain and the EU both say there must be no
customs posts or other infrastructure along the currently invisible
frontier, but they have not agreed on how that can happen once the U.K.
leaves the bloc's tariff-free customs union.
The Brexit-backing group said
technology and "trusted trader" programs could remove the need for border
posts, and a U.K-EU agreement on common biosecurity standards would allow
the smooth movement of agricultural products.
"It can all be done electronically,"
said lawmaker Owen Paterson, a former Northern Ireland secretary. "There is
absolutely no need for new physical infrastructure at the border."
Critics said the EU has already
rejected similar measures as inadequate to protect the open border, a
cornerstone of Northern Ireland's peace process.
Josh Hardie, deputy director-general of
business group the Confederation of British Industry, said the proposals
were "too superficial to be of use in practice."
Robert Hannigan, former director of
Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency, said Wednesday that a hard border would
lead to a rise in smuggling, increase tensions between Irish nationalists
and pro-British unionists and "fray around the edges of the peace process."
"So it's a very unhealthy development,"
Hannigan told the BBC.
Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed
to this story.
Myanmar's Suu Kyi to skip UN General Assembly session
leader Aung San Suu Kyi addresses participants during the opening session of
the World Economic Forum on ASEAN Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 in Hanoi,
Vietnam. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Hanoi, Vietnam (AP) — A senior
Myanmar official has confirmed that the country's leader, State Counsellor
Aung San Suu Kyi, will not attend the U.N. General Assembly session this
month in New York.
Minister for International Cooperation
Kyaw Tin, who is accompanying Suu Kyi at a meeting of the World Economic
Forum in Vietnam, said "She has no plan to go there."
He was responding to a report in the
Myanmar newspaper 7 Days citing a Myanmar foreign ministry official as
saying that Suu Kyi would not attend the U.N. meetings. No reason was given.
Suu Kyi, who took office in 2016, also
did not attend last year's General Assembly meeting.
Myanmar is facing international
pressure over human rights abuses allegedly committed by its military
against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
About 700,000 Rohingya fled to
Bangladesh from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine last year after the army
launched a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in response to August 2017
attacks by Rohingya militants on security forces.
The army is accused of committing mass
rape, murder and setting fire to thousands of homes. A report issued two
weeks ago by a specially appointed U.N. human rights team recommended
prosecuting senior Myanmar commanders for genocide and other crimes.
The latest speakers' list for the
General Assembly meeting shows Myanmar represented by a minister and
speaking on Sept. 28. The annual meeting of world leaders, called the
General Debate, starts Sept. 25 and ends Monday Oct. 1. Normally, a
country's foreign minister would speak in the absence of its top leader, but
because Suu Kyi also holds the foreign ministry portfolio, Myanmar's speaker
is likely to one of the two Cabinet ministers who 7 Days said would attend
the meeting, Kyaw Tin and Kyaw Tint Swe.
Last year, Suu Kyi's office said her
reason for not attending the 2017 General Assembly session was because she
had to handle domestic security issues after the attacks that triggered the
Although the violence in Rakhine state
has eased, Myanmar has to deal with its aftermath, especially the
repatriation of the Muslim Rohingya who fled and the underlying causes of
tension that makes them targets of discrimination and repression in
overwhelmingly Buddhist Myanmar.
The 7 Days newspaper article said the
Myanmar delegation to the General Assembly meeting would "explain about
current developments on repatriation and cooperation with international
organizations." U.N. agencies have an agreement with Myanmar's government to
help resettle the Rohingya when they are repatriated.
Associated Press writer Edith M.
Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.
Extradition case of Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya in UK court
India team boss Vijay Mallya smiles as he arrives to attend a hearing at
Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018.
Investigators have accused the 62-year-old of paying $200,000 to a British
firm for displaying his company Kingfisher's logo during the Formula One
World Championships in London and some European countries in the 1990s.(AP
By Gregory Katz, Associated Press
London (AP) — Indian
entrepreneur Vijay Mallya, once a leading figure among India's business
elite, has resumed his long-running fight against extradition to India on
money laundering allegations.
Mallya's lawyer, Clare Montgomery, said
in Westminster Magistrates Court Wednesday that the charges presented by the
Indian government against Mallya are not justified.
The 62-year-old entrepreneur, who wants
to remain in Britain, is accused by India of money laundering and conspiracy
involving hundreds of millions of dollars. He has denied wrongdoing.
After hearing lengthy submissions from
both sides, Judge Emma Arbuthnot said she expects to announce her judgment
on the case on Dec. 10. The losing side will still be able to launch a fresh
appeal, a process that could take months or longer.
Defending the Indian tycoon, Montgomery
provided a detailed rebuttal of the government's case that Mallya had
submitted false information on loan applications involving huge sums.
She denied he had inflated the value of
his holdings and overstated the profitability of his businesses to obtain
loans needed to keep his enterprises afloat.
"The evidence to support the
allegations is nil," she said, adding that Mallya had understated, not
overstated, his net worth on the loan applications.
She called the Indian government case
against Mallya "bizarre" and said the Indian government's own evidence
undercuts the allegations against Mallya, who sat impassively in the dock
during the proceedings.
"It's not just not being honest,
they've made a series of palpably false allegations," she said.
For his part, Mallya told reporters
outside the courtroom that the charges against him were politically
motivated. He also said he had met with India's finance minister, Arun
Jaitley, before leaving the country two years ago, an assertion that made
front page news in India.
Mallya said after the court session he
did not mean to start a new controversy by discussing his dealings with
"I told him I was going to London and
that's it," Mallya said outside the courtroom.
Mallya was once one of the wealthiest
people in India with control of Kingfisher Airlines and other major
businesses. He was also a prominent member of parliament before he resigned
when he was about to be expelled. He now calls Britain his "second home."
Prosecutor Mark Summers challenged the
view that Mallya had been honest and straightforward in his dealings with
Indian banks. He said Mallya had concealed and distorted financial
information and acted in bad faith.
He said there is ample evidence that
Mallya never intended to re-pay the loans and that he had diverted money
that had been earmarked for his creditors.
Mallya remains free on bail until the
judgment is announced.
He said during a lunch-break that the
allegations against him are false.
"I have said before, I am a political
football, and there's nothing I can do about it," he said. "My conscience is
Update September 12, 2018
US marks 9/11 with somber tributes, new monument to victims
By Jennifer Peltz, Associated
New York (AP) — Americans were
commemorating 9/11 with somber tributes, volunteer projects and a new
monument to victims Tuesday, after a year when two attacks demonstrated the
enduring threat of terrorism in the nation's biggest city.
Margie Miller was among the thousands
of 9/11 victims' relatives, survivors, rescuers and others who gathered on a
misty Tuesday morning at the memorial plaza where the World Trade Center's
twin towers once stood. She came to the site from her home in suburban
Baldwin, as she does 10 or so times a year, to remember her husband, Joel
Miller. Only a few fragments of his remains were recovered.
"To me, he is here. This is my holy
place," his widow said before the ceremony began a moment of silence and
tolling bells at 8:46 a.m., the time when the trade center was hit by the
first of two terrorist-piloted planes. Victims' relatives who had brought
signs bearing photos of their loved ones wordlessly held them high.
President Donald Trump and Vice
President Mike Pence headed to the two other places where hijacked planes
crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, in the deadliest terror attack on American soil.
The president and first lady Melania
Trump flew to Pennsylvania to join an observance at the Sept. 11 memorial in
a field near Shanksville, where a new "Tower of Voices" was dedicated
Saturday. Pence is attending a ceremony at the Pentagon. Trump, a Republican
and native New Yorker, took the occasion of last year's anniversary to issue
a stern warning to extremists that "America cannot be intimidated."
Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks
on 9/11, when international terrorism hit home in a way it previously hadn't
for many Americans. Sept. 11 still shapes American policy, politics and
everyday experiences in places from airports to office buildings, even if
it's less of a constant presence in the public consciousness after 17 years.
A stark reminder came not long after
last year's anniversary: A truck mowed down people, killing eight, on a bike
path within a few blocks of the World Trade Center on Halloween.
In December, a would-be suicide bomber
set off a pipe bomb in a subway passageway near Times Square, authorities
said. They said suspects in both attacks were inspired by the Islamic State
The recent attacks in New York, as well
as terror attacks elsewhere, were on Miller's mind as she arrived Tuesday.
"You don't want to live in fear, but
it's very real," she said.
Debra Sinodinos, who lost her
firefighter cousin Peter Carroll and works near the trade center, said she
tries not to let the recent attacks unnerve her.
"You have to move on," she said as she
headed into the anniversary ceremony with her extended family. "Otherwise,
you'd live in fear."
The 9/11 commemorations are by now
familiar rituals, centered on reading the names of the dead. But each year
at ground zero, victims' relatives infuse the ceremony with personal
messages of remembrance, inspiration and concern.
For Nicholas Haros Jr., that concern is
officials who make comparisons to 9/11 or invoke it for political purposes.
"Stop. Stop," pleaded Haros, who lost
his 76-year-old mother, Frances. "Please stop using the bones and ashes of
our loved ones as props in your political theater. Their lives, sacrifices
and deaths are worth so much more. Let's not trivialize them."
This year's anniversary comes as a
heated midterm election cycle kicks into high gear. But there have long been
some efforts to separate the solemn anniversary from politics.
The group 9/11 Day, which promotes
volunteering on an anniversary that was declared a national day of service
in 2009, routinely asks candidates not to campaign or run political ads for
the day. Organizers of the ground zero ceremony allow politicians to attend,
but they've been barred since 2011 from reading names or delivering remarks.
The names are read by victims' loved
ones, some of them not yet born when the attacks happened.
"Even though I never met you, I'll
never forget you," Isabella Del Corral said of her grandfather, Joseph
Hours after the ceremony, two powerful
light beams will soar into the night sky from lower Manhattan in the annual
"Tribute in Light."
Memorials to 9/11 continue to grow at
Shanksville, where the Tower of Voices will eventually include a wind chime
for each of the 40 people killed there, and ground zero, where work is to
begin soon on a pathway honoring rescue and recovery workers.
It will serve as a way to honor those
who became sick or died from exposure to toxins released when the Trade
Center's twin towers collapsed. Researchers have documented elevated rates
of respiratory ailments, post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses
among people who spent time in the rubble.
About 38,500 people have applied to a
compensation fund, and over $3.9 billion in claims have been approved.
Meanwhile, rebuilding continues. A
subway station destroyed on 9/11 finally reopened Saturday. In June, doors
opened at the 80-story 3 World Trade Center, one of several rebuilt office
towers that have been constructed or planned at the site. A performing arts
center is rising.
However, work was suspended in December
on replacing a Greek Orthodox church crushed in the attacks; the project hit
Associated Press writers Stephen
Groves and Karen Matthews contributed to this report.
Report: Chinese building projects narrowing economic gaps
In this May
30, 2017, file photo, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, 3rd left, watches
during the opening of the SGR cargo train runs on a China-backed railway
from the port containers depot in Mombasa Kenya, to Nairobi. A wave of
Chinese-financed railways and other trade links in Africa and Asia that have
prompted worries about debt and Beijing's ambitions is reducing politically
dangerous inequality between regions within countries, a multinational group
of researchers said Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi, File)
By Joe Mcdonald, AP Business
Beijing (AP) — Chinese-financed
railways and other projects in Africa and Asia are helping to reduce
economic inequality between regions in the countries where they are built, a
group of multinational researchers said Tuesday.
China's "Belt and Road" initiative has
prompted complaints about debt and unease about Beijing's ambitions among
governments from the United States to Russia to India. But a study led by
AidData at the College of William & Mary in Virginia strikes a positive
The study of 3,485 projects in 138
nations across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East in 2000-14
found they led to a more equal distribution of economic activity by
improving access to jobs and markets.
"Western pundits and politicians often
claim that Beijing is a reckless, self-serving or sinister actor," said
AidData's executive director, Bradley C. Parks, in an email. But by helping
to spread economic activity more evenly, "Beijing's investments address one
of the root causes of instability around the globe and thus make it easier
for Western powers to tackle other global threats and crises."
The report stressed it focused on only
one aspect of Chinese financing. The overall impact is "a more complex
question," it said, noting other research has found corruption and
environmental damage linked to Chinese projects.
Leaders in Africa, South Asia and other
regions welcome Chinese projects including "Belt and Road," President Xi
Jinping's signature foreign policy initiative, but face complaints about
costs. The initiative calls for expanding trade by building railways, ports
and other infrastructure across a vast arc of 65 countries from the South
Pacific through Asia to Africa and Europe.
Governments including Nepal, Sri Lanka
and Thailand have scrapped or scaled back projects due to high costs or
complaints that too little work goes to local companies. Most projects are
built by Chinese contractors and financed by Chinese bank loans at market
In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta's
government faces protests and a strike by filling station operators after
imposing a 16 percent tax on fuel this month to repay construction costs.
Kenya's payments to Chinese banks are due to triple in 2019 from this year's
Kenya is "gradually sinking deeper"
into "Chinese debt-trap diplomacy," wrote commentator Jaindi Kisero in the
Daily Nation newspaper.
Beijing suffered a public blow last
month when Malaysia canceled Chinese-built projects, including a $20 billion
railway. Its prime minister said the Southeast Asian country couldn't afford
Chinese officials have released few
financial details but deny "Belt and Road" and other projects lead to debt
"People's livelihoods and economic
development have been boosted," said a Cabinet official, Ning Jizhe, at an
Aug. 28 news conference. "No 'debt trap' has been created."
Other governments worry Beijing is
trying to gain strategic influence by creating a trading and financial
network centered on China, the world's second-largest economy.
AidData's first report in 2013 focused
on Chinese financing to Africa. The group includes researchers from Harvard
University, Germany's Heidelberg University and other schools and research
They reported last year China was close
to matching the scale of U.S. grants and loans to developing countries. But
they said Beijing's financing served its own economic interests and provided
little benefit to recipients.
"Belt and Road" was formally launched
in 2012 but also includes Chinese-financed projects begun before that.
For their latest report, researchers
made a list of projects from news reports, government statements and
research by academics and non-government organizations.
Some 43 percent were infrastructure
such as roads, railway, bridges, ports, airports, power grids, cellphone
towers and fiber optic cable lines. Another 42 percent were services
including hospitals, schools and sewers.
To measure economic impact, the
researchers looked at changes in nighttime use of lights across cities and
rural areas. That was based on satellite images from the U.S. National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Those changes "correlate strongly with
traditional measures of welfare down to the village level," the report said.
Projects financed by Beijing might
produce a bigger payoff because Chinese companies work faster and often
complete projects within months, while traditional Western-backed projects
can require years, Parks said.
Also, they often focus on linking
inland areas with ports, which increases export revenue, in contrast to
traditional projects that connect areas within the same country, he said.
The ruling Communist Party has financed
building projects abroad since the 1960s, when it paid for a railway to
carry copper from Zambia in southern Africa across Tanzania to the port of
Lending boomed following rapid Chinese
economic growth in the 1990s.
In the 15 years through 2014, Beijing
lent or gave $354.4 billion in Africa, Asia and elsewhere, equal to nearly
90 percent of the $394.6 billion from the United States, according to
AidData. But it said only 23 percent of Chinese spending counted as aid by
international standards, compared with 93 percent of U.S. spending.
Associated Press writer Tom Odula in
Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.
UN chief: World must prevent runaway climate change by 2020
United Nations Secretary General Antonio
Guterres. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press
United Nations (AP) —
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday that the world is facing "a
direct existential threat" and must rapidly shift from dependence on fossil
fuels by 2020 to prevent "runaway climate change."
The U.N. chief called the crisis urgent
and decried the lack of global leadership to address global warming.
"Climate change is moving faster than
we are," Guterres said. "We need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas
emissions and drive climate action."
He said people everywhere are
experiencing record-breaking temperatures — and extreme heatwaves,
wildfires, storms and floods "are leaving a trail of death and devastation."
As examples, Guterres pointed to
Kerala, India's worst monsoon flooding in recent history, almost 3,000
deaths from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year, disappearing Arctic
sea ice, some wildfires so big that they send ash around the world, oceans
becoming more acidic threatening food chains, and high carbon dioxide levels
in the atmosphere threatening food security for billions of people.
Guterres said scientists have been
warning about global warming for decades, but "far too many leaders have
refused to listen — far too few have acted with the vision the science
When some 190 nations signed the 2015
Paris agreement on climate change they agreed to limit the global
temperature increase by 2100 to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees
Fahrenheit) and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.
"These targets were the bare minimum to
avoid the worst impacts of climate change," Guterres said. "But scientists
tell us that we are far off track."
"According to a U.N. study, the
commitments made so far by parties to the Paris agreement represent just
one-third of what is needed," the secretary-general said.
Guterres said the mountain that needs
to be climbed is very high — but not insurmountable.
"We need to rapidly shift away from our
dependence on fossil fuels," he said. "We need to replace them with clean
energy from water, wind and sun. We must halt deforestation, restore
degraded forests and change the way we farm."
He appealed for leadership — "from
politicians and leaders, from business and scientists, and from the public
everywhere" — to break what he called the current "paralysis" and act now.
"If we do not change course by 2020, we
risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with
disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain
us," Guterres warned.
The alternative to moving to green
energy, he said, "is a dark and dangerous future."
Guterres said that when he addresses
world leaders at their annual General Assembly gathering in two weeks, he
will tell them "that climate change is the great challenge of our time" and
what is missing is leadership and a sense of urgency to respond.
He said an international meeting in
Bangkok that ended Sunday made some progress on negotiations to help reach
an agreement in December in Poland on guidelines for implementing the 2015
Paris accord — "but far from enough."
"Nothing less than our future and the
fate of humankind depends on how we rise to the climate challenge," Guterres
said. "Keeping our planet's warming to well below 2 degrees (Celsius) is
essential for global prosperity, people's well-being and the security of
He said that is why he will convoke a
climate summit for world leaders in September 2019 "to bring climate action
to the top of the international agenda."
Guterres said technology is on the side
of those seeking to tackle climate change.
He cited the rising use of renewable
energy, saying "today, it is competitive with — and even cheaper — than coal
and oil, especially if one factors in the cost of pollution." And he singled
out innovative programs in China, Sweden, Morocco, Scotland and Thailand.
Guterres also pointed to other signs of
hope including oil-rich Saudi Arabia investing heavily in renewable energy
and oil-rich Norway's sovereign wealth fund — the largest in the world —
moving away from investments in coal as well as in palm and pulp paper
companies because of the forests they destroy.
Los Angeles, Paris mayors talk climate, homeless, Olympics
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Los Angeles Mayor
Eric Garcetti help pack lunches for the needy following a ceremony marking
the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America, at
the Los Angeles Fire Department's training center Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018.
(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
By Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press
Los Angeles (AP) — The mayors of
Paris and Los Angeles met Tuesday ahead of a global climate summit to
memorialize the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. and to talk about
the commonalities between the two cities in an increasingly divided world.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo attended a 9/11 memorial ceremony in Los Angeles
and then helped pack lunches for the hungry.
Afterward, they spoke of how much Paris
and Los Angeles have in common: an affordable housing crisis, increasing
homelessness, a commitment to combat climate change, experience with terror
attacks and preparations to host the Olympics next decade — Paris in 2024
and Los Angeles in 2028.
"We always learn from each other,"
Garcetti also announced Los Angeles
will send a group of community college students from poor backgrounds to
Paris next summer.
"At a moment when we're so divided in
the world we hope that this will breathe some strength and some friendship
back into the world," Garcetti said.
Hidalgo said Paris and Los Angeles also
share the same core values and similar visions for the future, and both are
planning for their Olympic games to help improve homelessness and increase
opportunities for young people.
"In Paris, the Olympic games, I saw
that fight as very important because I am convinced that we need to help the
poor neighborhoods in northern Paris a little more," she said in Spanish at
a trilingual question-and-answer session with reporters. "We have to help
accelerate the transformation in these neighborhoods."
Garcetti said homelessness "is the
great moral crisis of this city and many cities."
While "some people run away from these
problems," Garcetti said he and Hidalgo run toward them, "even in the face
of people saying, 'I don't want this in my neighborhood.'"
"We already have homelessness in our
neighborhoods," he said. "The decision is, 'Will we solve it or will we
avert our eyes and walk away?' To me that is an easy decision."
Both mayors will join scientists,
activists, celebrities and other politicians Wednesday at a global summit on
climate change in San Francisco, where they plan to announce pledges from
cities for more spending on cleaner energy.
Hidalgo said climate change and
homelessness "are not two different issues," and both boil down to the
greater good for humanity.
Update September 11, 2018
'Wake-up call': 9/11 prompted some to move away to new lives
Feuerman poses for a photo in front of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High
School sign in Parkland, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. On 9/11, Stephen
Feuerman saw the World Trade Center aflame through the window of his Empire
State Building office and watched, transfixed, as a second fireball burst
from the twin towers. Feuerman had always seen himself as a New Yorker, but
“everything changed that day,” he says. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Margery Koveleski, with their daughter Lillian, sit for a photograph at
their store Design Sleep in Yellow Springs, Ohio on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018.
New York and church had brought the couple together in the 1980s: she a
Haitian-American from Brooklyn, he a white art student from Massachusetts.
By 2001, he was a furniture designer for a platform-bed shop, she a mom and
frequent school volunteer. They had a small house and a full life. After
9/11, though, Michael sensed emotional burnout surrounding him at his lower
Manhattan workplace. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Tom LaGarde are seen at their home near Saxapahaw, N.C., on Wednesday, Aug.
29, 2018. The LaGardes left New York following the events of 9/11. “We try
to echo some of what we loved” in New York, Heather says, “but living in an
easier, simpler, more natural place.” (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Heather LaGarde are seen on Tom's tractor at their home near Saxapahaw,
N.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. The LaGardes left New York following the
events of 9/11. "I can't believe how lucky we are to have landed where we
did," Heather says. "I think we were really unmoored by 9/11 ... It changes
your perspective on everything. Your priorities change." (AP Photo/Gerry
By Jennifer Peltz, Associated
New York (AP) — On 9/11, Stephen
Feuerman saw the World Trade Center aflame through the window of his Empire
State Building office and watched, transfixed, as a second fireball burst
from the twin towers.
He ran through the 78th floor urging
everyone to get out, thinking their skyscraper could be next. With transit
hubs shut down, he couldn't get home to his family in suburban Westchester
for hours. Among the dead were someone he knew from college and people he
recognized from his commuter train.
Feuerman had always seen himself as a
New Yorker, but "everything changed that day," he says.
Shaken by the experience, the apparel
broker and his wife put their home on the market weeks later. Within four
months, they and their two small children moved to a gracious South Florida
suburb they figured would be safer than New York.
So it was until this past Valentine's
Day, when mass violence tore into Parkland, Florida, too.
"There really is no safe place," says
Feuerman, whose children survived but lost friends in the massacre that
killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks
prompted the Feuermans and an uncounted number of others to quietly move
away from their lives near the hijacked-plane strikes that killed nearly
3,000 people in New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.
Some sought a place where they could
feel safe. Some placed a new importance on living near family. Others simply
re-evaluated what they wanted from life.
As the attacks' 17th anniversary
approaches, The Associated Press caught up with several people who left and
asked: Have they found what they were looking for?
"IT REALLY MADE US HAVE A WAKE-UP CALL"
About 30 weeks a year, Scott Dacey
drives from his home near New Bern, North Carolina, to Washington for a few
days. The 350-mile (563-kilometer) trips are a price the federal lobbyist
pays for peace of mind after Sept. 11.
He and his wife, Jennifer, were rooted
in Washington before the attacks. He was a former federal official lobbying
on Native American and gaming issues. She'd grown up nearby, though her
parents had moved to North Carolina.
Then came the strike on the Pentagon,
the paralyzing feeling of not knowing what might happen next, the weeks of
watching military aircraft patrol around their suburban Virginia home.
"It really made us have a wake-up call:
'How do we want to live our lives?'" Scott says. "Do we want to be up here
in this rat race of Washington, D.C.?" Or raising kids somewhere that didn't
feel so on-guard, somewhere closer to family in times of crisis?
The choice wasn't simple, particularly
for a lobbyist. The couple's 2002 move to the New Bern suburb of Trent Woods
meant extra costs, including a Washington apartment and a then-advanced
phone system to make sure Scott wouldn't miss clients' calls to his office
there. Jennifer, already a lawyer, had to take a second bar exam in North
Friends suggested the Daceys were
overreacting. And it was an adjustment, going from career-focused, on-the-go
Washington to the gentler pace of eastern North Carolina.
But it also opened unexpected
opportunities. Scott is a county commissioner and ran for Congress; a
Republican, he never considered seeking office in Democratic-leaning
northern Virginia. Jennifer is a community college trustee and serves on
other local boards.
And their children, 17 and 15, grew up
in a town repeatedly ranked among the state's safest.
"It would not be for everybody, but for
us, it's been the right fit," Jennifer says. "We're outside the bubble, and
this is how America really lives."
"YOU'RE ONLY GOING TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE
WHEN THINGS ARE BAD"
Michael Koveleski isn't afraid of
taking risks. His Christian faith gives him confidence he'll be OK if he
does what's right, and he's a motivational-book reader who thrives on
He needed plenty of it after he and his
wife, Margery, left New York in the wake of 9/11 with four children and no
work lined up.
New York and church had brought the
couple together in the 1980s: she a Haitian-American from Brooklyn, he a
white art student from Massachusetts. By 2001, he was a furniture designer
for a platform-bed shop, she a mom and frequent school volunteer. They had a
small house and a full life.
After 9/11, though, Michael sensed
emotional burnout surrounding him at his lower Manhattan workplace, while
security measures lengthened his commute from Queens and devoured his time
with the children. Two months later, American Airlines Flight 587 crashed
near the Koveleskis' home, killing 265 people. There had to be a better way
to live, the couple thought.
The next spring they moved to
Springfield, Ohio, where they had church friends.
If a better way, it wasn't always
smooth. It was initially a challenge for the Koveleskis' children to be the
new, mixed-race kids in an area less diverse than Queens. And Michael
struggled to find work in the shaky post-9/11 economy. A man who'd adhered
to healthy eating, he found himself grateful for $5 pizzas that could feed
the family, which now includes five children. It took eight years or so
before he made what he had in New York.
But when he did, he made it at his own
business, Design Sleep, a shop selling natural latex mattresses and platform
beds. His wife and older children sometimes help out at the shop, which has
quadrupled in size during its 14 years.
"You're only going to change your life
when things are bad — or terrible," Michael says. "Our thing was 9/11,
starting over with nothing. ... I am thrilled at the way it came out to be."
"THIS IS THE PLACE I HAD THE DREAM TO
Georgios Takos rides through northern
Wyoming in his Greek-food truck with a souvenir New York license plate on
the wall, a reminder of the place he once thought would bring his American
dream to life.
Growing up in Greece, Takos longed to
live in the America he saw in movies, the America where everyone wanted to
go. He was elated when he arrived in New York City in 1986.
There were tears in his eyes as he left
15 years later, days after 9/11 shattered his sense of safety and his
impression of his adopted hometown.
"This wasn't the America I remember
when watching those John Wayne movies back home ... the place it was when I
first arrived," he thought.
He headed for restaurant work in
Arizona, then California, where he met his wife, Karine, a teacher. She
persuaded him one summer to visit her home state of Montana.
There, and now in the couple's new
hometown of Powell, Wyoming, he found the America he'd imagined — the
wide-open West, the feeling of freedom.
As Takos launched his food truck, the
Greek Station, Westerners largely embraced "the New York Greek guy." And
Takos embraced Wyoming — "the real America," he says, where he finds life
less rushed and people more caring.
"This is the place I had the dream to
come to 40 years ago," he says.
"WE TRY TO ECHO SOME OF WHAT WE LOVED"
Heather and Tom LaGarde loved New York
and didn't want to leave, even after she watched the twin towers burn from
They felt at home living on Manhattan's
then gritty-artsy Lower East Side. She worked at a human rights organization
and he, a former player with the Denver Nuggets and other NBA teams, ditched
a Wall Street job to found a roller basketball program for neighborhood
So at first, the ramshackle North
Carolina farm they spotted online in 2002 was only an occasional getaway.
They'd started to want one after worrying about their 1-year-old daughter's
health in the 9/11 smoke. They had no intention of moving back to North
Carolina, where Heather had grown up and her 6-foot-10-inch (2.1-meter)
husband had been a UNC basketball star.
But over time, "we were very unmoored
by 9/11," Heather says. "Even though I wasn't physically harmed, just to see
it that close changes your perspective. ... Your priorities change."
So in 2004 the LaGardes moved into
their farm near small-town Saxapahaw with two children, a few months'
consulting work for Heather and no more of a plan than to keep their eyes
One day they saw someone tearing down a
nearby barn. That led to starting an architectural salvage company, which
led to starting a popular free music series and farmers' market at an old
mill that was being renovated. Which led to starting the Haw River Ballroom,
a music venue in a mill building, and founding a humanitarian innovation
conference held in the ballroom.
"We try to echo some of what we loved"
in New York, Heather says, "but living in an easier, simpler, more natural
"THIS COULD HAVE HAPPENED ANYWHERE"
Fresh from dropping off his 16-year-old
daughter last month for the first day of her junior year at Marjory Stoneman
Douglas, Stephen Feuerman still thinks his family made a good move after
He's sensitive to what his daughter and
18-year-old son, now a college freshman, have been through. But he also
appreciates the community where they got to grow up.
"We've had a good life here," he says.
"And again, this could have happened anywhere."
In fact, he appreciates Parkland all
the more since the tragedy. It introduced him to neighbors he'd never met
and plunged him into a whirlwind of events and advocacy on gun laws and
other issues. He marvels at the support that has poured into his hometown,
and he's proud of its residents' activism.
The Feuermans have no plans to move
Mass rally wraps up North Korea's 70th anniversary events
North Korean students take part in a torch light
march held in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of North Korea's
founding day celebrations in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018.
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
By Eric Talmadge, Associated Press
Pyongyang, North Korea (AP) —
Tens of thousands of North Korean students rallied in Pyongyang's Kim Il
Sung Square in the final major event of the country's 70th anniversary, an
elaborate celebration that has showcased the nation's aspirations for
economic growth and Korean unity.
The rally Monday night featured a sea
of university and high school students carrying torches that spelled out
giant slogans and words when seen from above the square. Leader Kim Jong Un
did not attend.
This year's anniversary downplayed the
missiles and nuclear weapons that brought the country to the brink of
conflict with the United States just one year ago.
It highlighted what has been a series
of stunning recent changes for North Korea, beginning with Kim's
announcement on New Year's Day that he would seek better relations with the
South and that the North was willing to participate in the Winter Olympics
held in South Korea.
He followed that up with an
announcement in April that he would stop nuclear tests and long-range
missile launches and claimed that, having perfected his nuclear arsenal, he
was ready to pursue talks with Washington on easing tensions on the Korean
Peninsula. That in turn led to a flurry of summits with Beijing and Seoul
and an unprecedented summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore three
Kim's effort to present a more
diplomatic and less-belligerent image was reflected throughout this
weekend's 70th anniversary events.
In a sharp contrast to its previous two
parades — in April last year and just before the Olympics began in February
this year — North Korea refrained from displaying its long-range missiles at
the military parade it held on Sunday.
It also revived its iconic mass games
after a five-year hiatus with a spectacular and decidedly peaceful and
forward-looking performance. At one point, the show featured giant images of
Kim shaking hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at their first
summit, in April, in the Demilitarized Zone that divides their two
The image of the two Korean leaders was
met by loud applause and cheers from the audience at the 150,000-seat May
Kim himself has kept publicly quiet
during the anniversary. He made no speech at the parade or at the mass
games' opening performance.
Senior North Korean officials,
meanwhile, have stressed the country's confidence in its ability to both
maintain a strong military and build up its domestic economy. They have
studiously avoided bragging about their nuclear weapons, but at the same
time haven't referred to any plans for denuclearization.
Kim's moves seem to be paying off.
Trump quickly tweeted his satisfaction
that no ICBMs were rolled out for the parade, which he called a "big and
very positive statement from North Korea."
"Thank you To Chairman Kim," he added.
"We will both prove everyone wrong! There is nothing like good dialogue from
two people that like each other!"
Last year, Trump and Kim were trading
insults and threats and Kim was launching his missiles at a record pace.
There hasn't been a North Korean launch this year, and Kim unilaterally
ordered the destruction of his country's underground nuclear test site in
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sent
the ruling Communist Party's third-highest official to attend as his special
envoy, issued a statement saying he is willing to work with Kim to develop
healthy relations and promote regional peace and stability. "I sincerely
hope that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will prosper and the
people enjoy a happy and healthy life," Xi said.
With the anniversary now behind him,
Kim is to host Moon later this month in Pyongyang to further discuss ways to
improve North-South relations, including the establishment of a liaison
office in the North's city of Kaesong, and how to move the peace process
with Washington forward.
That process has stalled since the
Trump summit, with Kim insisting on security guarantees and a formal end to
the Korean War as the first steps, while the U.S. wants irreversible moves
toward denuclearization before it will agree to ease up its policy of
sanctions and "maximum pressure."
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was
to visit Pyongyang just ahead of the anniversary, but Trump nixed that at
the last minute because he said the prospect of making any significant
agreements was too low.
Japan proposes end to commercial whaling ban, faces pushback
In this Oct. 11, 2017 file photo, a Southern
right whale glides in the waters off El Doradillo Beach, Patagonia,
Argentina, during the annual whale migration from Antarctica to Argentina's
Patagonia to give birth and feed their offspring. (AP Photo/Maxi Jonas,
By SARAH Dilorenzo, Associated Press
Florianopolis, Brazil (AP) — Japan
proposed an end to a decades-old ban on commercial whaling at an
international conference Monday, arguing there is no longer a scientific
reason for what was supposed to be a temporary measure.
But the proposal faces stiff opposition
from countries that argue that many whale populations are still vulnerable
or, even more broadly, that the killing of whales is increasingly seen as
unacceptable. Japan currently kills whales under a provision that allows
hunting for research purposes.
"Science is clear: there are certain
species of whales whose population is healthy enough to be harvested
sustainably," reads the Japanese proposal, presented Monday at the biannual
International Whaling Commission meetings taking place this week in
Florianopolis, Brazil. "Japan proposes to establish a Committee dedicated to
sustainable whaling (including commercial whaling and aboriginal subsistence
Japan's proposal would also change how
the international body operates, reflecting its frustration with an
organization that it says has become "intolerant" and a "mere forum for
It says it hopes that new rules —
including allowing measures to be adopted by simple, rather than super,
majority — would break longstanding deadlocks and allow the countries who
prize conservation and those who push for sustainable use of whales to
While Japan argues that whale stocks
have recovered sufficiently to allow for commercial hunting,
conservationists contend whaling on the high seas has proven difficult to
"Time and again, species after species
has been driven to near extinction," said Patrick Ramage, director of marine
conservation at the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
If the ban on commercial whaling were
to be lifted, it would then be up to the commission to set catch limits.
It's not clear when the vote will
happen; the meeting lasts until Friday. It's also possible that the Japanese
could pull back the proposal — or attempt to negotiate the inclusion of
parts of it in other proposals.
Japan has hunted whales for centuries
as a traditionally cheaper alternative source of protein. Its catch has
fallen in recent years in part due to declining domestic demand for whale
meat and challenges to its hunt.
Its quota is now 333, about a third the
number it used to kill before the International Court of Justice ruled in
2014 that its program wasn't scientific in nature. It revised the program
and resumed the hunt in 2016.
Some, however, contend the research
program remains a cover for commercial whaling because the whale meat is
sold for food.
The attempt to reintroduce commercial
whaling could be even more contentious. Brazil has submitted a proposal that
says such whaling "is no longer a necessary economic activity, has
systematically reduced whale populations to dangerously low levels." The
United States agrees that the ban is necessary for conservation.
"The Australian people have clearly
made a decision that they don't believe that whaling is something that we
should be undertaking in the 21st century," said Anne Ruston, Australia's
assistant minister for international development and the Pacific, on the
sidelines of Monday's meetings. "The argument that we put forward from
Australia is that we don't want to see any whales killed, whether they're
killed because (of) commercial whaling or whether it's so-called scientific
The commission declared a "pause" to
commercial whaling beginning in the 1985-1986 season, but it remains in
place today. The killing of whales is allowed for research purposes, as in
Japan's program, and for indigenous communities who practice subsistence
Australia says that non-lethal research
techniques actually reveal more information about whales than can be learned
through killing them. The United States also opposes lethal research hunts,
but both countries support the exception for subsistence whalers.
Japan says that it uses both lethal and
non-lethal methods, but that some information can only be gleaned after
Associated Press video journalist
Mario Lobao in Florianopolis, Brazil, and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo
contributed to this report.
Colombian rebels reject conditions for resuming peace talks
In this Aug. 14, 2018 file photo, Colombia's
President Ivan Duque reviews the troops, accompanied by his military staff
during a ceremony in Bogota, Colombia. The rebel National Liberation Army
said Monday, Sept. 10, that it was willing to "liberate" a group of
policemen and civilians it captured in August. But the rebels also accused
President Ivan Duque of breaking promises made by his predecessor and said
they will not accept his "unilateral" conditions. (AP Photo/Fernando
By Manuel Rueda, Associated Press
Bogota, Colombia (AP) —
Prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Colombia's government
and the country's last remaining rebel group were dimming Monday even as the
group reaffirmed its willingness to release six captives.
The National Liberation Army said it
was willing to free a group of policemen and civilians it captured in
August. But the rebels also accused President Ivan Duque of breaking
promises made by his predecessor and said they will not accept his
"unilateral" conditions for negotiations.
Duque suspended peace talks with the
rebel group, known as the ELN after its Spanish initials, after he was sworn
into office a month ago, saying he would not resume negotiations until the
rebels ceased all criminal activities, including kidnappings and attacks on
The ELN has said it will only cease
attacks if the government stops pursuing its fighters in remote pockets of
Colombia's countryside and agrees to a bilateral ceasefire.
"We are ready to continue working
toward a political solution," Israel Ramirez, the rebels' lead negotiator
told Colombian newspaper El Pais Sunday. "But both sides have to make
efforts to turn the page of war, not just one."
The ELN was created in 1964 by a group
of Catholic priests and activists inspired by the Cuban revolution. It has
approximately 1,500 fighters and it became the country's last remaining
guerrilla group after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC,
signed a peace deal in 2016.
In February 2017, Colombia's government
began peace talks with the ELN that have yielded few commitments so far. The
talks were suspended at the beginning of this year after the rebel group
broke a bilateral ceasefire that had lasted for three months, but they
resumed in May even while fighting between the government and the ELN
During his inauguration speech in
August, Duque said he would take 30 days to review the negotiations and
would not restart until the rebels ceased "all criminal activities."
According to Colombia's government, ELN
rebels have kidnapped 16 people and conducted more than 140 attacks against
the country's oil infrastructure since peace talks started in 2017.
Colombian Peace Commissioner Miguel
Ceballos said Monday that the ELN's plans to release six captives was
"important" but the rebel group still did not meet "the basic conditions"
required to restart peace talks. Ceballos said the rebels still have 10 more
"They are accusing us of making
unacceptable demands," Ceballos told Colombia's Blu Radio. "But we are only
asking them to abide by the law."
As peace talks with the ELN fail to
resume, the implementation of the 2016 peace deal with the FARC is also
Last week the United Nations said six
FARC leaders had abandoned their transition camps in Colombia and left up to
1,500 former guerrilla fighters without a leader, breaking with commitments
made under the peace accords.
On Monday, Fabian Ramirez, one of the
FARC leaders who was reported as missing, sent a letter to Colombia's senate
in which he acknowledged that he had left his transition camp, but said he
was still committed to the peace process and was doing political work with
The whereabouts of Luciano Marin, the
FARC's lead negotiator during peace talks, are still unknown. Marin gave up
a senate seat granted to him by the peace deal and fled to a remote area of
Southern Colombia after one of his close allies was arrested on drug
trafficking charges on a U.S. warrant.
Update September 10, 2018
Obama to campaign for congressional candidates in California
Former President Barack Obama talks with Caffe
Paradiso owner Young Jeon during a surprise campaign stop with Illinois
Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and his running mate, state
Rep. Juliana Stratton Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, after speaking on the
University of Illinois campus in Urbana, Ill. (Stephen Haas/The News-Gazette
By Elliot Spagat, Associated Press
Anaheim, Calif. (AP) — Former President Barack
Obama is in California to campaign for Democratic congressional candidates
one day after issuing a stinging rebuke of his successor in the White House.
Obama is set to appear later Saturday at the Anaheim
Convention Center in the heart of Orange County, a once-solid Republican
stronghold that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election
that Donald Trump won.
Obama will share the billing with seven Democratic
candidates in competitive U.S. House districts across California. Those
races are considered crucial to the party's efforts to retake control of the
House from Republican. Four of those districts are at least partly in Orange
Obama issued a scorching critique of President Donald
Trump on Friday in a speech at the University of Illinois at
Alibaba's Jack Ma to step down as chairman in September 2019
In this June 25, 2018, photo,
Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group attends the ceremony to launch a
blockchain-base remittance solution in Hong Kong. (Chinatopix via AP)
By JOE Mcdonald, AP Business Writer
— Jack Ma, who founded e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and helped launch
China's e-commerce boom, announced Monday he will step down as the company's
chairman next September.
In a letter released
by Alibaba, Ma said he will be succeeded by CEO Daniel Zhang, an 11-year
veteran of the company. Ma handed over the CEO post to Zhang in 2013 as part
of what he said was a long-planned succession process.
Ma, a former English
teacher, founded Alibaba in 1999 in an apartment in the eastern city of
Hangzhou to connect Chinese exporters with foreign retailers. It expanded
into consumer retailing, online finance, cloud computing and other services,
becoming the world's biggest e-commerce company by total value of goods sold
across all its platforms.
Ma, who turned 54 on
Monday, became one of the world's richest entrepreneurs and one of China's
best-known business figures. The Hurun Run report, which follows China's
wealthy, estimates his net worth at $37 billion.
Alibaba said Ma will
remain a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a group of 36 people that has
the right to nominate a majority of the company's board of directors.
demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up to the next level of corporate
governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on
systems of organizational excellence and a culture of talent development,"
Ma said in his letter.
Ma said he wants to
"return to education" but gave no details of his plans.
Alibaba is one of a
group of companies including Tencent Holding Ltd., a games and social media
giant, search engine Baidu.com Inc. and e-commerce rival JD.com that have
revolutionized shopping, entertainment and consumer services in China.
Alibaba was founded
at a time when few Chinese used the internet. As internet use spread, the
company expanded into consumer-focused retailing and services. Few Chinese
used credit cards, so Alibaba created its own online payments system,
Ma, known in Chinese
as Ma Yun, has become one of China's best-known public figures. He appears
regularly on television. At an annual Alibaba employee festival in Hanzhou,
he has sung pop songs in costumes that have included blonde wigs and leather
jackets. He pokes fun at his own appearance, saying his oversize head and
angular features make him look like the alien in director Steven Spielberg's
movie "E.T. The Extraterrestrial."
Ma also became one
of the best-known Chinese businesspeople abroad.
The company's $25
billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in September
2014 was the biggest to date by a Chinese company.
Zhang, Ma's planned
successor, is a former accountant who joined Alibaba in 2007 after working
at Shanda Entertainment, an online games company. Zhang served as president
of Alibaba's consumer-focused Tmall.com business unit.
business spans multiple platforms including business-to-business
Alibaba.com, which links foreign buyers with Chinese suppliers of goods from
furniture to medical technology, and Tmall, with online shops for popular
Alipay became a
freestanding financial company, Ant Financial, in 2014. Alibaba also has
expanded into entertainment, set up its own film studio and invested in
logistics and delivery services.
profit last year of $9.8 billion.
The total value of
goods sold on all of its platforms rose 28 percent over 2016 to 4.8 trillion
yuan ($768 billion), according to the company.
Ma has faced
controversy, including when it was disclosed in 2011 that Alibaba had
transferred control over Alipay to a company controlled by Ma without
immediately informing shareholders including Yahoo Inc. and Japan's
Alibaba said the
move was required to comply with Chinese regulations, but some financial
analysts said the company was paid too little for a valuable asset. The
dispute was later resolved by Alibaba, Yahoo and Softbank.
specialists also questioned the unusual structure of the Alibaba
Partnership, which gives Ma and a group of executives more control over the
company than shareholders.
Ma defended the
arrangement as necessary to ensure Alibaba focuses on long-term development
instead of responding to pressure from financial markets.
Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin wins Miss America pageant
Miss New York Nia Franklin
reacts after being named Miss America 2019, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in
Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)
By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press
N.J. (AP) — Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin
was named Miss America 2019 in Atlantic City.
Her victory Sunday
night resurrected a string of successes the Empire State has had in the
pageant in recent years. Mallory Hagan, Nina Davuluri and Kira Kazantsev won
the title from 2013 to 2015 competing as Miss New York.
A classical vocalist
whose pageant platform is "advocating for the arts," Franklin sang an
operatic selection from the opera La Boheme on Sunday night.
She wrote her first
song at age 6. It went "Love, love, love, love, is the only thing that
matters to me, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey."
She won a $50,000
scholarship along with the crown in the first Miss America pageant to be
held without a swimsuit competition.
Franklin said during
her onstage interview that she was one of only a small number of minority
students in school growing up, but used her love for music and the arts to
grow and fit in.
The fourth runner up
was Miss Massachusetts Gabriela Taveras; third runner up was Miss Florida
Taylor Tyson; second runner up was Miss Louisiana Holli' Conway, and the
first runner up was Miss Connecticut Bridget Oei.
The judges narrowed
the field of 51 candidates during the pageant Sunday night from Jim Whelan
The decision to drop
the swimsuit competition created a good deal of controversy and criticism of
current Miss America leadership. Minutes before the nationally televised
broadcast began, a comedian warming up the crowd mentioned that there would
be no swimsuit competition this year, and was met with loud boos in the
The swimsuits have
been replaced by onstage interviews, which have generated attention-grabbing
remarks from contestants regarding President Trump, and NFL player protests,
among other topics.
In her onstage
interview Sunday, Miss Massachusetts Gabriela Taveras said people should put
their social media devices down for a while.
"We're starting to
look at people as Democrat or Republican, black or white. We're not just one
kind of people. We are a multi-faceted people."
Behind the scenes, a
revolt is underway among most of the Miss America state organizations who
demand that national chairwoman Gretchen Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper
The outgoing Miss
America, Cara Mund, says the two have bullied and silenced her, claims that
the women deny.
Upon taking over at
the helm of the Miss America Organization last winter following an email
scandal in which former top leaders denigrated the appearance, intellect and
sex lives of former Miss Americas, Carlson and Hopper set out to transform
the organization, dubbing it "Miss America 2.0."
consequential decision was to drop the swimsuit competition and give the
candidates more time to talk onstage about themselves, their platforms and
how they would do the job of Miss America. Supporters welcomed it as a
long-overdue attempt to make Miss America more relevant to contemporary
society, while others mourn the loss of what they consider an integral part
of what made Miss America an enduring part of Americana.
Unhappy with how the
decision was reached, as well as with other aspects of Carlson and Hopper's
performance, 46 of the 51 state pageant organizations (the District of
Columbia is included) have called on the two to resign.
Adding to the
intrigue was a remarkable letter released by Mund, the outgoing Miss
America, who said Carlson and Hopper had bullied, silenced and marginalized
her. They deny doing any of that, saying they have been working tirelessly
to move the organization into the future.
Mund only appeared
at the very end of the pageant before the next winner was crowned. She was
not allowed to speak live; instead a 30-second taped segment of her speaking
Sweden's ruling party hits election low as far right grows
An Electoral counselor posts
an election envelope in a polling station in Malmo, Sweden, Sunday Sept. 9,
2018. Polls have opened in Sweden's general election in what is expected to
be one of the most unpredictable and thrilling political races in
Scandinavian country for decades amid heated discussion around top issue
immigration. (Johan Nilsson/TT via AP)
By Pietro Decristofaro and Jan M. Olsen, Associated
— Voters handed Sweden's ruling party its worst-ever election result Sunday
and delivered a parallel lift to a far-right party with white supremacist
roots, leaving the ideological outline of the Scandinavian country's next
After a campaign
dominated by debates over immigration, the center-left Social Democratic
Party emerged with the greatest share of the vote — 28.4 percent as the
count neared completion — yet looking at holding fewer parliament seats and
having its mandate to govern questioned.
The potential for an
immigration backlash to result in a big boost for the far-right Sweden
Democrats inspired fear among many Swedes before the election. It received a
little more than one in six votes, or 17.6 percent. Its showing was not as
strong as the one-in-five polls had predicted, but good for a third-place
finish that had the party's leader telling supporters, "We won."
Stefan Lofven, who brought the Social Democrats to power in 2014, said he
intended to remain in the job. The leader of the Moderates party that came
in second, Ulf Kristersson, already had called on Lofven to resign and
claimed the right to form Sweden's next government.
Sounding somber and
firm, Lofven told his supporters the election presented "a situation that
all responsible parties must deal with," adding that "a party with roots in
Nazism" would "never ever offer anything responsible, but hatred."
"We have a moral
responsibility. We must gather all good forces. We won't mourn, we will
organize ourselves," he said.
returns were expected later in the week. The preliminary results made it
unlikely any party would secure a majority of 175 seats in the 349-seat
Riksdag, Sweden's parliament. It could take weeks or months of coalition
talks before the next government is formed.
left-leaning bloc led by the Social Democrats and the center-right bloc in
which the Moderates is largest of four parties have said they would refuse
to consider the Sweden Democrats as a coalition partner.
Sweden — home to the
Nobel prizes and militarily neutral for the better part of two centuries —
has been known for its comparatively open doors to migrants and refugees.
Sunday's general election was the first since the country of 10 million took
in a record 163,000 refugees in 2015 as mass migration to Europe rose
said Sweden no longer could cope with the influx and immigration laws were
Like other far-right
parties in Europe, the Sweden Democrats worked to soften its neo-Nazi image
in the lead-up to the election. The party symbol was switched from a flame
thrower to a flower. Members known for making pro-Third Reich statements
were pushed out.
It made its first
mark in politics with municipal council seats in 2006, and since then slowly
helped revise long-accepted social norms for what Swedes could say openly
about foreigners and integration without being considered racist.
At the Swedish
Democrat's election eve rally Saturday, party leader Jimmie Akesson
criticized Lofven's government for "prioritizing" the needs of new
immigrants the ones of Swedish citizens.
Akesson was jubilant
as he addressed supporters a day later, declaring the estimated 14
parliament seats the Social Democrats picked up a victory other parties
could not ignore in coalition negotiations.
"This party has
increased and made the biggest gains. Everything is about us," Akesson said.
"I am ready to talk with others"
Turnout in the
election was reported at 84.4 percent, up from 83 percent in 2014.
from Copenhagen, Denmark. Jeff Schaeffer and Philipp Jenne in Stockholm,
Jari Tanner in Helsinki and Vanessa Gera in Warsaw contributed.
Pence: I'm confident no one on my staff wrote the NYT column
FILE - In this Aug. 23, 2018,
file photo, Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a visit to NASA's
Johnson Space Center in Houston. Pence says he's "100 percent confident"
that no one on his staff was involved with the anonymous New York Times
column criticizing President Donald Trump's leadership. (AP Photo/David J.
By Darlene Superville, Associated Press
(AP) — Vice President Mike Pence says he's
"100 percent confident" that no one on his staff was involved with the
anonymous New York Times column criticizing President Donald Trump's
"I know them. I
know their character," Pence said in a taped interview aired Sunday by
CBS' "Face the Nation."
Some pundits had
speculated that Pence could be the "senior administration official" who
wrote the opinion piece because it included language Pence has been
known to use, like the unusual word "lodestar." The op-ed writer claimed
to be part of a "resistance" movement within the Trump administration
that was working quietly behind the scenes to thwart the president's
most dangerous impulses.
More than two
dozen high-ranking administration officials have denied writing the
column. And Pence said his staff has nothing to do with it.
"Let me be very
clear. I'm 100 percent confident that no one on the vice president's
staff was involved in this anonymous editorial. I know my people," Pence
said on "Face the Nation." ''They get up every day and are dedicated,
just as much as I am, to advancing the president's agenda and supporting
everything ... President Trump is doing for the people of this country."
Asked whether he
had asked his staff about the op-ed, Pence said, "I don't have to ask
them because I know them. I know their character. I know their
dedication and I am absolutely confident that no one on the vice
president's staff had anything to do with this."
He restated that
he thinks the essay writer should do the "honorable thing and resign."
the op-ed followed the release of stunning details from an upcoming book
by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward in which current and former aides
referred to Trump as an "idiot" and "liar" and depicted him as prone to
rash policy decisions that some aides either work to stall or derail
are said to have infuriated Trump, who unleashed a string of attacks on
Woodward's credibility and dismissed the celebrated author's book as a
"work of fiction." Some of the officials featured in the book's
anecdotes about the president, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
and White House chief of staff John Kelly, issued statements denying the
comments attributed to them by Woodward.
said he stands by his reporting. The book, "Fear: Trump in the White
House," is scheduled to be formally released Tuesday, all but ensuring
that the debate over Trump's leadership ability and style will extend
into a second straight week.
meanwhile, has denounced the Times opinion piece as "gutless" and its
publication as a "disgrace" bordering on treason.
Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Trump ally, has said the president would be
justified in using lie detectors to ferret out the anonymous writer. The
president has yet to say whether he'd go that far, but Pence says he'd
be willing to submit to such an examination.
"I would agree
to take it in a heartbeat and would submit to any review the
administration wanted to do," he said in a taped "Fox News Sunday"
Both Pence and
Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to Trump, pushed back during separate
television appearances Sunday on the portrayals of Trump as anything but
a thoughtful leader. Both also said they had no idea who wrote the
piece; Trump has said he can name up to five people who could have
"What I see is a
tough leader, a demanding leader, someone who gets all the options on
the table," Pence said on Fox News. "But he makes the decisions, and
that's why we've made the progress we've made."
Trump has said
the Justice Department should investigate and unmask the anonymous
author. He cited national security concerns as grounds for what would
amount to an extraordinary criminal probe should Attorney General Jeff
Sessions decide to pursue one.
nor Conway answered directly when asked if Sessions should treat Trump's
comments as an order. The Justice Department is supposed to make
investigative decisions free of political pressure from the White House
and the president.
Sen. Mark Warner
of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee,
disagreed that the opinion piece amounted to a national security threat
and attributed Trump's musing about a Justice Department investigation
"to a president who's lashing out."
On an unrelated
matter, Pence said on CBS that he has not been called for an interview
by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible
coordination between Russia and Trump's Republican presidential campaign
as well as Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Pence said he's
willing to sit down with Mueller if he is asked and added that he so far
has cooperated with all requests for information from the special
counsel and will continue to do so.