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Update August 2017


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Update August 31, 2017

Myanmar Buddhists seek tougher action against Rohingya

Supporters of nationalist Buddhist monks display banners during a protest rally demanding to give wider powers to Myanmar military to crackdown on Muslim Rohingya militants in Yangon, Myanmar, Wednesday, Aug. 30,2017. (AP Photo)

BANGKOK (AP) — Several hundred Buddhist nationalists, including monks, rallied in Myanmar's largest city on Wednesday to urge stronger action against insurgents from the Muslim Rohingya minority for attacks on police last week.

The attacks in Rakhine state in western Myanmar have spiraled into chaotic violence, with more than 100 dead and villages torched.

At least 18,000 Rohingya have fled the violence and crossed into Bangladesh in less than a week, with hundreds stranded in a no man's land at the countries' border, the International Organization for Migration said.

The army, responding to last Thursday's attacks, launched what it called clearance operations against the insurgents, but advocates for the Rohingya say they are attacking and burning Rohingya villages, shooting civilians and causing others to flee.

The government blames Rohingya insurgents and their sympathizers for the continuing violence. Government figures put the death toll since last week at a minimum of 103, including 12 members of security forces, 77 people described as insurgents and 14 civilians. There were reports of additional deaths Wednesday.

Rohingya advocates fear the death toll for civilians is much higher.

Most of Myanmar's estimated 1 million Rohingya live in northern Rakhine state. They face severe persecution in the Buddhist-majority country, which refuses to recognize them as a legitimate native ethnic minority, leaving them without citizenship and basic rights.

Longstanding tension between the Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists erupted in bloody rioting in 2012. That set off a surge of anti-Muslim feeling throughout the country.

Wirathu, a Buddhist monk and leader of the anti-Muslim movement who is known for virulent sermons, told Wednesday's protesters in Yangon that only the military can control the situation in northern Rakhine.

He criticized the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi for not responding quickly to the army's call Tuesday for a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council, which could declare a state of emergency in Rakhine and give the military absolute authority to enforce it. The military holds a majority on the council, which was created by the 2008 military-drafted constitution.

"Only the military's commander in chief can protect the lives and the properties of the people," Wirathu said. "The military is the only one that can give a lesson to tame the Bengali terrorists."

Myanmar nationalists use the term Bengali for Rohingya because of a belief they migrated illegally from Bangladesh, even though many families have been in Myanmar for generations.

Wirathu also denounced international aid groups that the government has accused, without evidence, of giving assistance to the Rohingya insurgents. The allegations have circulated widely on social media.

The Information Ministry said Wednesday that 45 homemade bombs were detonated and seven villages, one security post and two neighborhoods in the township of Maungdaw were burned down on Sunday and Monday.

Maungdaw, in the northern part of Rakhine state, is a center of the violence, though villages over a much wider area were also hit.

Sanjukta Sahany, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, on the border with Myanmar, said the Rohingya crisis was not just an issue between Myanmar and Bangladesh but of international concern.

At the United Nations, the Security Council got an emergency, closed-door update Wednesday on Myanmar, at Britain's request. The council didn't issue any statement as a whole, but British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said members condemned the violence and called on all the parties involved to de-escalate tensions.

The U.N. refugee organization on Tuesday urged Bangladesh to continue to allow Rohingya fleeing violence to seek safety. It said it was ready to help Bangladesh with assistance for the refugees.

Ali Hossain, Cox's Bazar district's top government official, told The Associated Press that its resources were under huge stress after some 87,000 Rohingya entered Bangladesh since October last year and another 18,000 since last Friday.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the United States on Wednesday to pressure Myanmar so its government would stop pushing Rohingya toward Bangladesh, her spokesman said.

Hasina made the request during talks with Alice Wells, U.S. acting assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, said Ihsanul Karim, Hasina's press secretary.

The insurgent raids last Thursday were deadlier than an attack by the militants on three border posts last October that killed nine policemen and set off months of brutal counterinsurgency operations against Rohingya communities.

Human rights groups accused the army of carrying out massive abuses, including killing, rape and burning down more than 1,000 homes and other buildings.

Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz at the United Nations contributed to this report.


Will North Korea make missiles over Japan the new normal?

People fill the square of the main railway station to watch a televised news broadcast of the test-fire of an inter-continental ballistic rocket Hwasong-12, Wednesday, August 30, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.(AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

 By Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The language from North Korea on Wednesday is as familiar as it is chilling, a declaration to the world to expect more missile tests. But there are important clues about North Korea's ambitious push to send its missiles farther into the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to make them an accepted part of life in the region, as leader Kim Jong Un expands the weapons program he sees as his country's best chance of survival against encircling enemies.

By firing a missile over Japan and putting the Asia-Pacific, including Guam and its major U.S. military base, on notice for more tests, North Korea may have won itself greater military space in a region dominated by enemies. It's still too early to see if Kim can create new rules without crossing a line that the United States won't tolerate.

Here's a look at the possible meaning of Kim's comments carried by state media after North Korea sent a missile potentially capable of carrying a nuclear bomb over Japan on Tuesday:

WHAT NORTH KOREA SAID

Because North Korea's "current ballistic rocket launching drill ... is the first step of the military operation ... in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam, (which is an) advanced base of invasion, he (Kim) said that it is necessary to positively push forward the work for putting the strategic force on a modern basis by conducting more ballistic rocket launching drills with the Pacific as a target in the future."

WHAT IT MAY MEAN

This refers to North Korea's attempt to strengthen its weapons capabilities and use them to test its bargaining power against the United States. To this end, North Korea is signaling that it may soon turn the Pacific Ocean into its own ballistic missile training ground and make its launches over Japan an accepted norm.

This might have been Kim's plan all along as he sought what to do next after North Korea's weapons development reached a point where it could test intercontinental ballistic missiles meant to reach deep into the U.S. mainland. North Korea threatened earlier this month to fire a salvo of Hwasong-12s — the same missile it sent over Japan on Tuesday — to create "enveloping fire" near Guam.

The U.S. territory of Guam is home to key military bases and strategic long-range bombers that North Korea finds threatening. Still, it's unclear whether the North will ever act on its threat to fire missiles at the "advanced base of invasion." This could risk triggering a military retaliation from the United States if something goes wrong. But the threat and the subsequent launch Tuesday may have won North Korea space to stage more weapons tests because anything less than targeting Guam would draw a sigh of relief from the United States.

"There were times when even a short-range ballistic missile launch drew a heated response and sanctions from the international community, but the world didn't do anything about North Korea's short-range ballistic missile launches on Saturday" ahead of Tuesday's longer launch, said Du Hyeogn Cha, a visiting scholar at Seoul's Asan Institute for Policy Studies. "North Korea will try to do the same with midrange ballistic missile launches in the Pacific, making them part of the new normal."

WHAT NORTH KOREA SAID

Kim Jong Un "sternly" said that "the drill conducted by the (North's) Strategic Force is a curtain-raiser of its resolute countermeasures" against joint military exercises being conducted by the U.S. and South Korea.

WHAT IT MAY MEAN

Before Tuesday's launch, it appeared North Korea was backing away from its threat to fire missiles toward Guam. Some took this as a sign that it was willing to talk and wouldn't let things get too tense during the annual joint military drills between Washington and Seoul that run through Thursday.

Tuesday's events killed such optimism. Most experts now say North Korea will likely continue its torrid pace of weapons tests until it perfects ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missile systems, and that it probably won't show serious interest in talks before then.

Kim is clearly seeking a real nuclear deterrent against the United States and likely believes that will strengthen his negotiating position when North Korea returns to talks. And if it does, North Korea will likely demand a halt of the U.S.-South Korean drills and perhaps the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula in any talks involving a moratorium on its missile launches, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert from Seoul's Dongguk University.

North Korea condemns the annual U.S.-South Korea war games as rehearsals for an invasion, and Washington and Seoul faced calls to postpone or downsize this year's drills to ease tensions.

There might also be a simpler reason Kim attributed Tuesday's launch to the drills.

China, North Korea's only major ally, has been calling for a "dual suspension" in which the North stops its nuclear and missile tests and Washington and Seoul halt their military exercises to lower tensions and lead to talks. By publicly linking the launch to the drills, Kim is attempting reduce the possibility that Beijing supports more punitive measures against North Korea at the United Nations over the launch, Cha said.

WHAT NORTH KOREA SAID

Kim Jong Un said his nation has drawn a lesson "again that it should show action, not talk, to the U.S. imprudently denying the (North's) initiative measure for easing the extreme tension" and stressed that it will continue to watch America's demeanor toward the North and decide its future actions accordingly.

WHAT IT MAY MEAN

The problem here is that Washington won't be very interested in displaying the kind of "demeanor" that North Korea is likely to want.

A U.S. military solution to North Korea's missile tests is also unlikely. Making a highly difficult intercept of North Korean missiles would be a tough call because failure would seriously dent the credibility of the expensive U.S. missile defense system.

So the question is whether North Korea will put some checks on itself as it seeks to expand its weapons tests in the Pacific. Some experts believe the next North Korean launches will be bolder unless Washington makes serious concessions.

But Hwang Ildo, a professor at Seoul's Korea National Diplomatic Academy, disagrees, saying North Korea probably won't risk infuriating the United States. He says the North Korean threat toward Guam is more about winning greater freedom of military action than about deterring flyovers of U.S. bombers or stopping the U.S.-South Korean war games.

"The North's intention was to push the boundaries of its military presence farther from the Korean Peninsula and Japan and into the wider Pacific, and they practically drew the line at Guam with their missile threat," he said.


Motorists, gawkers line up to see new bridge in Scotland

 

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Motorists and gawkers jammed onto Scotland's new bridge over the Firth of Forth, anxious to see the new expanse on its first full day of operation.

Cars began trying out the Queensferry Crossing beginning at 2 a.m. By rush hour Wednesday, delays in both directions hampered movement on the new 1.35 billion pound ($1.74 billion) bridge that links the Lothians and Fife. The bridge is 2,700 meters (8,858 feet) long.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown says travelers won't miss the "absence of the 'slap, slap, slap' that you get on the existing bridge."

The new crossing — the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world — will be closed again Friday so some 50,000 pedestrians can cross it over the weekend. Queen Elizabeth II will visit the new expanse on Monday.


Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation gives $1M to Harvey relief

In this Feb. 28, 2016 file photo, actor Leonardo DiCaprio arrives at the Vanity Fair Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has donated $1 million to the newly established United Way Harvey Recovery Fund which will go toward short and long term relief and recovery efforts.

United Way Worldwide said Wednesday that the national fund will distribute 100 percent of donations to recovery efforts for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

"We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of Leonardo DiCaprio and his foundation," said United Way Worldwide President and CEO Brian Gallagher in a statement. "Responding to Hurricane Harvey requires the best of all of us — and that's what this gift represents."

United Way is the world's largest privately-funded non-profit and anticipates Harvey recovery efforts will take several years.

The $1 million from DiCaprio's foundation represents the inaugural donation to the fund. It is the latest disaster relief support from the Oscar-winner's namesake foundation. DiCaprio and his foundation have previously donated to recovery efforts following the 2004 tsunami, the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Sandy.

"We hope others will step up and support the United Way and other organizations," foundation CEO Terry Tamminen said in the press release.

Many celebrities have pulled out their pocketbooks to help Harvey victims in recent days including Sandra Bullock, who on Tuesday donated $1 million to the American Red Cross.
___
Online: www.unitedway.org


Today in History - Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Aug. 31, the 243rd day of 2017. There are 122 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 31, 1997, Prince Charles brought Princess Diana home for the last time, escorting the body of his former wife to a Britain that was shocked, grief-stricken and angered by her death in a Paris traffic accident earlier that day.

On this date:

In 1867, French poet Charles Baudelaire, 46, died in Paris.

In 1886, an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.3 devastated Charleston, South Carolina, killing at least 60 people, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In 1916, the musical revue "The Big Show," featuring the song "Poor Butterfly" by Raymond Hubbell and John Golden, opened at New York's Hippodrome.

In 1939, the first issue of Marvel Comics, featuring the Human Torch, was published by Timely Publications in New York.

In 1941, the radio program "The Great Gildersleeve," a spinoff from "Fibber McGee and Molly" starring Harold Peary, debuted on NBC.

In 1954, Hurricane Carol hit the northeastern Atlantic states; Connecticut, Rhode Island and part of Massachusetts bore the brunt of the storm, which resulted in some 70 deaths.

In 1965, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in voting to establish the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In 1972, at the Munich Summer Olympics, American swimmer Mark Spitz won his fourth and fifth gold medals in the 100-meter butterfly and 800-meter freestyle relay; Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut won gold medals in floor exercise and the balance beam.

In 1986, 82 people were killed when an Aeromexico jetliner and a small private plane collided over Cerritos, California. The Soviet passenger ship Admiral Nakhimov collided with a merchant vessel in the Black Sea, causing both to sink; up to 448 people reportedly died.

In 1987, the Michael Jackson album "Bad" was released by Epic Records.

In 1991, Uzbekistan (ooz-bek-ih-STAHN') and Kyrgyzstan (keer-gih-STAHN') declared their independence, raising to ten the number of republics seeking to secede from the Soviet Union.

In 1992, white separatist Randy Weaver surrendered to authorities in Naples, Idaho, ending an 11-day siege by federal agents that had claimed the lives of Weaver's wife, son and a deputy U.S. marshal. (Weaver was acquitted of murder and all other charges in connection with the confrontation; he was convicted of failing to appear for trial on firearms charges and was sentenced to 18 months in prison but given credit for 14 months he'd already served.)

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush met privately at the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who conveyed their concern about a growing strain on troops and their families from long and repeated combat tours in Iraq. President Bush announced a set of modest proposals to deal with an alarming rise in mortgage defaults. Mike Nifong, the disgraced former district attorney of Durham County, North Carolina, was sentenced to a day in jail after being held in criminal contempt of court for lying to a judge when pursuing rape charges against three falsely accused Duke University lacrosse players.

Five years ago: In a speech to an annual Federal Reserve conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Chairman Ben Bernanke sent a clear message that the Fed would do more to help the still-struggling U.S. economy, but did not specify exactly what, or when. Writer Richard Bach, author of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," was seriously hurt after his small plane went down in Washington state.

One year ago: On Mexican soil for the first time as the Republican presidential nominee, a firm, but measured Donald Trump defended the right of the United States to build a massive border wall along its southern flank, standing up for the centerpiece of his immigration plan during a joint press conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The first commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in more than a half century, a JetBlue Airbus A320, landed in the central city of Santa Clara, re-establishing regular air service severed at the height of the Cold War. Brazil's Senate voted to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office (Rousseff was accused of breaking fiscal laws in her management of the federal budget).

Today's Birthdays: Japanese monster movie actor Katsumi Tezuka ("Godzilla") is 105. Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson is 82. Actor Warren Berlinger is 80. Rock musician Jerry Allison (Buddy Holly and the Crickets) is 78. Actor Jack Thompson is 77. Violinist Itzhak Perlman is 72. Singer Van Morrison is 72. Rock musician Rudolf Schenker (The Scorpions) is 69. Actor Richard Gere is 68. Actor Stephen Henderson is 68. Olympic gold medal track and field athlete Edwin Moses is 62. Rock singer Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze) is 60. Rock musician Gina Schock (The Go-Go's) is 60. Singer Tony DeFranco (The DeFranco Family) is 58. Rhythm-and-blues musician Larry Waddell (Mint Condition) is 54. Actor Jaime P. Gomez is 52. Baseball pitcher Hideo Nomo is 49. Rock musician Jeff Russo (Tonic) is 48. Singer-composer Deborah Gibson is 47. Rock musician Greg Richling (Wallflowers) is 47. Actor Zack Ward is 47. Golfer Padraig Harrington is 46. Actor Chris Tucker is 45. Actress Sara Ramirez is 42.
Rhythm-and-blues singer Tamara (Trina & Tamara) is 40.

Thought for Today: "Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess." — Edna Woolman Chase, American fashion editor (1877-1957).
 


Update August 30, 2017

UN Security Council 'strongly condemns' North Korea missile test

The United Nations Security Council hold a meeting on North Korea, Tuesday Aug. 29, 2017 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

By Jennifer Peltz, Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned North Korea's launch of a ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday, reiterating demands that Pyongyang halt its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

After an emergency meeting on the missile test, the U.N.'s most powerful body called North Korea's actions "outrageous," saying it was deliberately undermining peace and stability in the region. The council called for North Korea to take "immediate, concrete actions" to "reduce tensions in the Korean Peninsula and beyond."

The missile flight came less than a month after the council imposed its toughest-yet sanctions on North Korea, and it's not immediately clear whether any further actions could follow.

"We'll be talking about next steps starting now," Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho said after the meeting.

For now, he said, the statement sends the North a strong message "that the international community will not accept its reckless behavior."

North Korea isn't on the 15-member council. While the was meeting was underway in New York, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said leader Kim Jong Un expressed "great satisfaction" with the launch and called for more ballistic missile tests targeting the Pacific Ocean.

Going into a closed session that evolved into an open meeting, ambassadors from several countries said they wanted to discuss how to respond, but first of all to show that the international community was united in firmly rebuking the missile test. The missile — designed to carry a nuclear payload — traveled almost 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers) into the Pacific and triggered alert warnings as it soared over northern Japan.

"It is time for the North Korean regime to recognize the danger they are putting themselves in," said U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, whose country has traded threats with North Korea in recent weeks. "The United States will not allow their lawlessness to continue, and the rest of the world is with us."

Still, the discussion was a reminder that members have different approaches to the issue.

Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi called on all parties to "avoid any rhetoric or action that might exacerbate tension" on the Korean Peninsula.

Both he and his Russian counterpart noted their countries had previously proposed a suspension of both North Korean nuclear and missile development and of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which are currently underway.

"The exercises being conducted must be scaled down," Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said. "There is an urgent need to create an atmosphere of trust among states in the region."

The Pyongyang news agency said Tuesday's missile launch was a "muscle-flexing" response to the war games, which the North views as rehearsals for an invasion. North Korea had requested a Security Council meeting about the exercises last week.

The U.S. says the decades-old drills' only purpose is to improve readiness to defend South Korea and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula.

This year, the exercises come weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump warned he could unleash "fire and fury" if North Korea continued threatening the United States, and the North then said it was considering firing missiles into waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.

The Security Council said Tuesday it was committed to a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation and called for strict implementation of its existing sanctions.

The latest sanctions include a ban on North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood products, together worth over $1 billion for a country with total exports valued at just $3 billion last year. The U.S. had suggested in July that the council could do more, including restricting oil to the North Korean military and boosting air and maritime restrictions.


Former loyalists lose faith in Myanmar's democracy icon

In this Oct. 17, 2015 photo, Aung San Suu Kyi speaks during a campaign rally for her National League for Democracy party in Thandwe, western Rakhine state, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

By DENIS D. GRAY, Associated Press

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — As Aung San Suu Kyi launched a national struggle against decades of harsh military rule, one medical student worked tirelessly at her side, facing down gun-wielding soldiers trying to crush the surging pro-democracy movement. For her activism and loyalty, Ma Thida suffered six years of mostly solitary imprisonment and nearly died of illnesses.

Now a medical doctor, novelist and recipient of international human rights awards, Ma Thida has few kind words for the former mentor she once called "my sister who always remained in my heart."

The criticism by Ma Thida and other formerly ardent supporters is manifold: they accuse Suu Kyi of ignoring state violence against ethnic minorities and Muslims, continuing to jail journalists and activists, cowing to Myanmar's still-powerful generals, and failing to nurture democratic leaders who could step in when she, now 72, exits the scene. Instead, they say her government is creating a power vacuum that could be filled again by the military.

Some conclude that Suu Kyi, who espoused democracy with such passion, always possessed an authoritarian streak which only emerged once she gained power.

"We can't expect her to change the whole country in one-and-a-half years, but we expect a strong human rights-based approach," Ma Thida says of the Nobel Peace Prize winner once hailed as "Myanmar's Joan of Arc" and spoken of in the same breath as South Africa's Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi of India.

International criticism has focused on Suu Kyi's lack of action or condemnation of violence targeting the country's approximately 1 million Rohingya Muslims, who have been brutalized since 2012 by security forces and zealots among the Buddhist majority in western Myanmar.

More than 1,000 Rohingya have been killed, while some 320,000 are living in squalid camps in Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh, according to estimates by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch and the United Nations. Thousands more embarked on perilous sea voyages to other Southeast Asian countries.

After a new wave of violence and humanitarian crisis erupted last week, with ethnic Rohingya militants attacking police posts and leaving 12 security personnel and 77 Rohingya Muslims dead, her office said military and border police had launched "clearance operations." She herself condemned the militants for what she called "a calculated attempt to undermine the efforts of those seeking to build peace and harmony in Rakhine state."

As usual, she did not address the insurgents' counter-allegations — that the attacks were aimed at protecting Rohingya villagers from "intensified atrocities" perpetrated by "brutal soldiers."

"The violence against the Rohingya is not an isolated event," says Stella Naw, an analyst from the ethnic Kachin minority focusing on national reconciliation. "We know the game the army is playing. But as a politician elected by the people, she is accountable for her inaction and failure to condemn the army."

Suu Kyi's government has banned a U.N. investigation team from entering the afflicted region, and earlier this month rejected the world body's assertion that the regime's actions "very likely" amounted to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The February report alleged security forces had perpetrated mass killings, hurled children into fires and gang-raped Muslim women. The government has mostly blamed the latest round of blood-letting on Islamist militants. Suu Kyi's official Facebook page last year flashed a message reading "Fake Rape."

"We don't have a second choice. People still support her party and government. People must lower their expectations because the problems are so deeply rooted," says Thant Thaw Kaung, executive director of the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation, an initiative to improve the country's woeful education system.

For years, Suu Kyi had courageously defied the military, suffering 15 years of house arrest and separation from her British husband and two sons to helm her National League for Democracy to a landslide victory in 2015 elections.

Often referred to as "The Lady," she retains popularity among the general public as the liberator from half a century of military oppression.

"When she was in the opposition she was so articulate, so vocal, but suddenly now we are faced with silence. Now that Myanmar is back on the democratic path, everyone expects that there should be more openness, but this has not happened," says Khin Zaw Win, a political prisoner for 11 years who now heads the Tampadipa Institute, a civil society think tank.

Since assuming office in April 2016, Suu Kyi has earned a reputation for being aloof and controlling of information.

Explanations for why she's changed, or faltered in upholding previously avowed goals, are starkly disparate: she is variously cast as a tragic heroine fighting impossible odds, and a closet authoritarian with a soft spot for the military.

Suu Kyi herself has often said she inherited an affinity for the armed forces from her father Gen. Aung San, a military hero who fought for independence from Britain.

Reflecting this puzzlement, a satirical Internet site called Burma Tha Din Network joked that the Suu Kyi in office now was a clone created by Russian geneticists hired by Myanmar's generals to remove her democratic genes, and that the real Suu Kyi was being held by the military and wondering, "How the hell can people believe I'd do that?"
Perhaps the most widespread view is that she simply can't push her democratic agenda or human rights demands, lest the military oust her from power. Although her post as government leader places her above the president, the military retains its grip on three key ministries controlling law enforcement, local administration and embattled frontier areas as well as a mandated 25 percent of seats in Parliament.

"She may shake hands with the military across a table, but under it they are kicking her," says That Thaw Kaung.

Some disagree, and say her popular mandate gives her the force to challenge the generals who are unlikely to upset an arrangement that still allows them to wield power with seeming impunity while also being able to blame problems on Suu Kyi's civilian government.

"The litany, the excuse that is repeated, 'Oh, the military is still in politics, still dominates the Constitution ... so we are hamstrung.' I don't buy that argument," says Khin Zaw Win. "She is not a prisoner of the military." What is lacking, he says, is moral courage in addressing human rights and the ability to tackle other problems outside the power grid of the military, such as the economy. Meanwhile, the military is preparing itself for the 2020 elections.

Mark Farmaner of the human rights group Burma Campaign UK says that while Suu Kyi may be constrained by the political situation, there are many areas where she has the freedom to act and has not done so.

"There are problems which will take years to resolve, but freeing political prisoners, repealing repressive laws and ending aid restrictions to displaced Rohingya can be done now," he says. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reported that 225 persons were still in prison or awaiting trial last month for political activities.

Suu Kyi has often stressed that her highest priority is ending decades of warfare between the central government and a welter of ethnic minorities. Last week, her government welcomed a report from a commission led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommending rapid economic development and social justice to counter the deadly violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

But Suu Kyi has also publicly ignored the army's continuing attacks and atrocities against ethnic groups in the Kachin and Shan states, further eroding their trust in her government.

"Her concept of national reconciliation seems to focus mostly on the relationship between the military and her party, with the ethnic minorities being an inconvenient side-issue," says Ashley South, an expert on Myanmar's ethnic minorities. Farmaner contends Suu Kyi views Myanmar principally as a country of the ethnic Burman Buddhist majority, rather than a multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation.

Some critics say Suu Kyi is trapped not by the generals, but by her own history and that of Myanmar, which has endured centuries of kings, British colonials and military dictators. By contrast, the country has experienced a mere 15 years of democracy.

Suu Kyi has expelled dissident party members, neglected to groom successors, spoken rarely to the press and apparently made command decisions rather than seeking help from capable advisers.

Khin Zaw Win notes that Gen. Ne Win, who ruled with an iron fist for 26 years, initially enjoyed some connection with the populace but grew increasingly remote and autocratic, surrounding himself with "yes men."

"She seems to be following almost exactly in his footsteps," he says. "I call it the 'courtier mentality' and that is exactly what is happening now." Having reached the pinnacle of power, he says, Suu Kyi believes she can go it alone.

"It is such a tragedy," says Naw, the Kachin analyst. "She has lost so much, her family, her years under arrest, and to have come to a stage where she has disconnected herself from people who went to prison for her, who would have given their lives for her — it breaks their hearts to see what she has become."
___
Denis D. Gray has covered Thailand and Southeast Asia for The Associated Press for more than 40 years.


Deputies visit relative of 6 presumed dead in Harvey floods

This undated photo provided by Virginia Saldivar shows her mother- and father-in-law, Belia and Manuel Saldivar, presumed dead after their van sank into Greens Bayou on Houston's eastside. (Virginia Saldivar via AP)

By Emily Schmall, Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — When two Harris County Sheriff's deputies found him clinging to a tree branch, water up to his neck, Samuel Saldivar was distraught and in tears, describing how he watched a van carrying his elderly parents and his brother's grandchildren sink into Greens Bayou, a relative said.

Saldivar's sister-in-law, Virginia, told The Associated Press Tuesday that the same deputies came to the suburban Houston home where she and her husband have stayed since volunteers evacuated them Monday for information about the children, aged 6 to 16, and her in-laws.

"They wanted to make sure that we understood how they found Sammy," she said.

After his parents' northeast Houston home began to flood early Sunday, Samuel Saldivar borrowed his brother's van and drove to pick up the relatives. He told deputies that while crossing a bridge, a strong current lifted the van and pitched it forward into a drainage channel.

Saldivar climbed out of the driver-side window but the van's sliding door was partially submerged and would not open, Virginia Saldivar said. He yelled at the children to try to escape out the back, but they were unable. Virginia Saldivar said her brother-in-law could only watch as the van disappeared underwater.

Saldivar believes her husband's parents, Manuel Saldivar, 84, and Belia Saldivar, 81, drowned along with her grandchildren: Daisy, Xavier, Dominic and Devy.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office could not confirm the deaths because no bodies had been recovered, Deputy Thomas Gilliland said.

"The water levels are so high, we can't find anything," he said.

Virginia Saldivar said she lives in the same neighborhood as her relatives, but she and her husband left during a calm spell Saturday to watch the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. The children's mother had left the four at home, she said. The widespread flooding prevented them from getting home until Sunday afternoon.

Virginia and her husband fled their home Monday evening when water rose to about 8 feet (2.44 meters) outside their front door. Volunteers helped get the couple to dry land.

Twice since Sunday, the children's mother went to the site where Samuel Saldivar told deputies the van disappeared, but the Coast Guard wouldn't let people through, Saldivar said. The children's father, her son, who she said is in prison for violating parole, first heard about the incident Tuesday. She told him during an allotted 10-minute phone call.

As soon as it is safe to return to Houston, Saldivar said, she and her family will go looking for the bodies themselves. She said the sheriff's deputies told her the strength and direction of the current meant that the van could have been carried as far as the Port of Houston, about 8 miles (12.87 kilometers) southwest.

"The hope is that we find the bodies," she said. "It's the last thing I can do for them."


John Steinbeck's relatives by marriage in copyright dispute

This undated file photo shows American author John Steinbeck, winner of the 1940 Pulitzer Prize for his novel "The Grapes of Wrath."(AP Photo, File)

By Brian Melley, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Film remakes of "The Grapes of Wrath" and "East of Eden" fell apart because John Steinbeck's son and daughter-in-law impeded the projects, the writer's stepdaughter told jurors in federal court Tuesday.

Waverly Scott Kaffaga alleges that long-running litigation over the author's estate has prevented her from making the most of Steinbeck's copyrights at a time when marquee names such as Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Lawrence were interested in bringing some his masterpieces back to the screen.

"The catalog has been dirtied by these legalities," Kaffaga said. "The whole Steinbeck canon has been put into doubt."

Kaffaga, daughter of the late author's third wife, Elaine, is suing the estate of stepbrother Thomas Steinbeck, who died last year, and his widow and their company.

The lawsuit follows a decades-long dispute between Thomas Steinbeck and Kaffaga's mother over control of the author's works.

Thomas Steinbeck has lost most rounds in court, including a lawsuit he and the daughter of his late brother, John Steinbeck IV, brought that spurred Kaffaga to countersue in the current case.

A judge already ruled the couple breached a contract with Kaffaga. Jurors must decide if Thomas and Gail Steinbeck interfered with deals and should pay up.

Attorneys for Kaffaga did not name a price in court, but Gail Steinbeck said they previously asked the judge for $6.5 million plus punitive damages.

Gail Steinbeck's lawyer said she never intentionally interfered in deals she and her husband would have benefited from and that would have served their interest promoting the Nobel Prize winner's legacy.

An attorney for Kaffaga said Gail Steinbeck caught wind of projects and then threatened movie makers that she and her husband had legal rights to the work and also cut secret side deals without notifying Kaffaga.

In one instance, Thomas Steinbeck secretly signed a $650,000 deal with DreamWorks to be an executive producer on a film remake of "The Grapes of Wrath," the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that starred Henry Fonda on the silver screen that won two Oscars.

Producers and directors later dropped the remakes because they feared litigation by the Steinbecks, Kaffaga's attorney Susan Kohlmann said in her opening statement.

Kohlmann put Gail Steinbeck on the witness stand early in the case and displayed emails that she wrote suggesting that a reported remake of "East of Eden" starring Lawrence would be "litigation city."

Another email Gail Steinbeck wrote after her husband lost a related court case in New York suggested litigation wouldn't end until "I draw my last breath."

Steinbeck laughed off that comment in testimony, saying, "Oh, that was silly."

Defense attorney Matthew Berger noted that Kaffaga was never adopted by John Steinbeck and was not one of his heirs. He said Thomas Steinbeck was a co-owner of his father's copyright and received royalties.

Gail Steinbeck estimated conservatively that her husband received $120,000 a year in publishing royalties from the author's work — and as much as $200,000 in some years.

Berger said Kaffaga's claim had no merit and she wasn't entitled to any damages because most movies optioned are never made and that estimated revenue from unproduced projects was pure speculation.

Berger suggested Kaffaga was using Thomas' inheritance to sue his widow.


Today in History - Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017

 The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, Aug. 30, the 242nd day of 2017. There are 123 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 30, 1997, Americans received word of the car crash in Paris that claimed the lives of Princess Diana, her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and their driver, Henri Paul. (Because of the time difference, it was August 31 where the crash occurred.)

On this date:

In 1861, Union Gen. John C. Fremont instituted martial law in Missouri and declared slaves there to be free. (However, Fremont's emancipation order was countermanded by President Abraham Lincoln).

In 1862, Confederate forces won victories against the Union at the Second Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Virginia, and the Battle of Richmond in Kentucky.

In 1905, Ty Cobb made his major-league debut as a player for the Detroit Tigers, hitting a double in his first at-bat in a game against the New York Highlanders. (The Tigers won, 5-3.)

In 1945, U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur arrived in Japan to set up Allied occupation headquarters.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which was intended to promote private development of nuclear energy.

In 1963, the "Hot Line" communications link between Washington and Moscow went into operation.

In 1967, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Thurgood Marshall as the first black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1983, Guion S. Bluford Jr. became the first black American astronaut to travel in space as he blasted off aboard the Challenger.

In 1984, the space shuttle Discovery was launched on its inaugural flight.

In 1986, Soviet authorities arrested Nicholas Daniloff, a correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, as a spy a week after American officials arrested Gennadiy Zakharov, a Soviet employee of the United Nations, on espionage charges in New York. (Both men were later released.)

In 1989, a federal jury in New York found "hotel queen" Leona Helmsley guilty of income tax evasion, but acquitted her of extortion. (Helmsley ended up serving 18 months behind bars, a month at a halfway house and two months under house arrest.)

In 1991, Azerbaijan (ah-zur-by-JAHN') declared its independence, joining the stampede of republics seeking to secede from the Soviet Union.

Ten years ago: In a serious breach of nuclear security, a B-52 bomber mistakenly armed with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles took off from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and flew to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana; the Air Force later punished 70 people. Taliban militants in Afghanistan released the last seven of its South Korean hostages.

Five years ago: Mitt Romney launched his fall campaign for the White House with a rousing, personal speech to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, proclaiming that America needs "jobs, lots of jobs." Earlier in the evening, actor-director Clint Eastwood offered an endorsement of Romney that entailed using an empty chair to represent President Barack Obama. The U.S. Justice Department announced it had ended its investigation into CIA interrogations of terrorist detainees without bringing criminal charges. Twin satellites were launched by NASA on a quest to explore Earth's treacherous radiation belts and protect the planet from solar outbursts.

One year ago: Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy each easily won their Florida Senate primaries; Rubio won the election the following November. U.S. Sen. John McCain beat back an Arizona primary challenge from a Republican tea party activist, Kelli Ward, to win the right to seek a sixth Senate term in November (McCain went on to defeat Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick and Green Party candidate Gary Swing). The European Union ordered Apple to pay nearly $15 billion in back taxes to Ireland, plus billions more in interest (both Apple and Ireland are fighting the ruling).

Today's Birthdays: Actor Bill Daily is 90. Actress Elizabeth Ashley is 78. Actor Ben Jones is 76. Cartoonist R. Crumb is 74. Olympic gold medal skier Jean-Claude Killy is 74. Actress Peggy Lipton is 71. Comedian Lewis Black is 69. Actor Timothy Bottoms is 66. Actor David Paymer is 63. Jazz musician Gerald Albright is 60. Actor Michael Chiklis is 54. Music producer Robert Clivilles is 53. Actress Michael Michele is 51. Country musician Geoff Firebaugh is 49. Country singer Sherrie Austin is 46. Rock singer-musician Lars Frederiksen (Rancid) is 46. Actress Cameron Diaz is 45. Rock musician Leon Caffrey (Space) is 44. TV personality Lisa Ling is 44. Rock singer-musician Aaron Barrett (Reel Big Fish) is 43. Actor Raul Castillo is 40. Actor Michael Gladis is 40. Rock musician Matt Taul (Tantric; Days of the New) is 39. Tennis player Andy Roddick is 35. Singer Rachael Price (Lake Street Dive) is 32. Rock musician Ryan Ross is 31. Actress Johanna Braddy is 30. Actor Cameron Finley is 30.

Thought for Today: "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." — Proverbs 1:10.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Update August 29, 2017

North Korea fires missile over Japan in aggressive test

People watch a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korea's missile launch, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

By Foster Klug and Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired a ballistic missile from its capital Pyongyang that flew over Japan before plunging into the northern Pacific Ocean, officials said Tuesday, an aggressive test-flight over the territory of a close U.S. ally that sends a clear message of defiance as Washington and Seoul conduct war games nearby.

Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile traveled around 2,700 kilometers (1,677 miles) and reached a maximum height of 550 kilometers (341 miles) as it flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The launch, which appears to be the first to cross over Japan since 2009, will rattle a region worried that each new missile test puts the North a step closer toward its goal of an arsenal of nuclear missiles that can reliably target the United States.

It appeared to be the North's longest-ever missile test, but South Korean officials couldn't immediately confirm.

North Korean missile launches have been happening at an unusually fast pace this year, and some analysts believe the North could have viable long-range nuclear missiles before the end of President Donald Trump's first term in early 2021.

The South Korean military said it is analyzing the launch with the United States and has strengthened its monitoring and preparation in case of further actions from North Korea. Analysts speculate the North may have tested a new intermediate-range missile that Pyongyang recently threatened to fire toward the U.S. territory of Guam, which hosts a major military base. This missile landed nowhere near Guam, which is about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) south of Tokyo, but the length of Tuesday's launch may have been designed for the North to show it could follow through on its threat. Seoul says the missile was launched from Sunan, which is where Pyongyang's international airport is, opening the possibility that North Korea launched a road-mobile missile from an airport runway.

It was North Korea's 13th launch of ballistic missiles this year, said Roh Jae-cheon, spokesman of Seoul's JCS.
North Korea will no doubt be watching the world's reaction to see if it can use Tuesday's flight over Japan as a precedent for future launches. Japanese officials said there was no damage to ships or anything else reported.

Japan's NHK TV said the missile separated into three parts. "We will do our utmost to protect people's lives," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters. "This reckless act of launching a missile that flies over our country is an unprecedented, serious and important threat."

Tuesday's launch comes days after the North fired what was assessed as three short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and a month after its second flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts say could reach deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry warned that the North will face a "strong response" from the U.S.-South Korean alliance if what it called nuclear and missile provocations continue. The ministry also urged Pyongyang to accept talks over its nuclear program and acknowledge that abandoning its nuclear ambitions is the only way to guarantee its security and economic development.

South Korea also said its air force also conducted a live-fire drill involving four F-15 fighters dropping eight MK-84 bombs that accurately hit targets at a military field near the country's eastern coast. Park Su-hyun, spokesman of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said the exercise was conducted after Moon directed the military to "display a strong capability to punish" the North.

Park also said Moon's national security director Chung Eui-yong and Seoul's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa called Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, respectively, to discuss the launch.

The launch over Japan isn't a total surprise. Earlier this month, when threatening to lob four Hwasong-12s, which are new intermediate-range missiles, into the waters near Guam, North Korea specifically said they would fly over Japanese territory. North Korea in June also angrily reacted to the launch of a Japanese satellite it said was aimed at spying on the North and said Tokyo was no longer entitled to fault Pyongyang "no matter what it launches or whether that crosses the sky above Japan."

North Korea typically reacts with anger to U.S.-South Korean military drills, which are happening now, often testing weapons and threatening Seoul and Washington in its state-controlled media. But animosity is higher than usual following threats by Trump to unleash "fire and fury" on the North, and Pyongyang's stated plan to consider firing some of its missiles near Guam.

Kim Dong-yub, a former South Korean military official who is now an analyst at Seoul's Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said the early flight data suggests the North Korean missile was likely a Hwasong-12. Other possibilities, he said, include a midrange Musudan, a missile with a potential 3,500-kilometer (2,180-mile) range that puts much of the Asia-Pacific region within reach, or a Pukguksong-2, a solid-fuel missile that can be fired faster and more secretly than weapons using liquid fuel.

South Korea's military didn't immediately confirm whether the North Korean missile was fired from Pyongyang's airport. Moon Seong Mook, a former South Korean military official and current analyst for the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, said the airport's runways could provide the ideal space to launch a road-mobile missile like the Hwasong-12. By launching from its capital, the North might have been trying to demonstrate the ability to launch its missiles from anywhere, Moon said.

"The launch doubled as a threat to Washington, not only because of the U.S. military bases in Japan, but also that the North showed it has the real capability to fire missiles to waters near Guam if it chose to shoot them in that direction," Moon said.

North Korea first fired a rocket over Japanese territory in August of 1998 when a multistage rocket that outside experts called "Taepodong-1" flew about 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) before landing in the Pacific Ocean. The North later said it launched a satellite.

North Korea flew another rocket over Japan again in April 2009 and said that, too, was carrying a satellite. The North claimed success, but the U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command says no satellite reached orbit. The United Nations has repeatedly condemned North Korean satellite launches as covers meant to test banned long-range missile technology. Some parts of a space launch vehicle reportedly flew over Okinawa last year after separating from the rocket.

Pyongyang regularly claims the U.S.-South Korean military exercises are an invasion rehearsal, although analysts say the North's anger is partly because the impoverished country must react with its own expensive drills and weapons tests. The allies say the war games are defensive and meant to counter North Korean aggression.

North Korea's U.N. ambassador, Ja Song Nam, wrote recently that the exercises are "provocative and aggressive" at a time when the Korean Peninsula is "like a time bomb."

Associated Press journalist Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.


Activists blame Mexican government for near-loss of porpoise

In this July 8, 2017 file photo, a young woman with the World Wildlife Fund carries a papier mache replica of the critically endangered porpoise known as the vaquita marina, during an event in front of the National Palace calling on the Mexican government to take additional steps to protect the world's smallest marine mammal, in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

By Mark Stevenson, Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Conservation groups said Monday that the Mexican government's lack of action is to blame for the near-extinction of the critically endangered vaquita marina porpoise.

The groups said the National Fisheries Commission didn't supervise fishing season rules and improperly increased catch quotas in the upper Gulf of California. They said the commission also failed to provide fishermen with better nets to avoid trapping vaquitas.

The head of the fisheries body disputed the report's contentions.

The vaquita is the world's smallest porpoise and is found only in the gulf, which is also known as the Sea of Cortez.

Mexico has banned most gill net fishing in the upper gulf, but the actions appear to have been too little, too late.

Experts say there are probably fewer than 30 of the porpoises remaining. Vaquitas are often killed in nets set for totoaba fish, whose swim bladders are prized in China.

Monday's report by Greenpeace, the Defenders of Wildlife and others came one day after Mexico said it had reached agreements with China and the United States to combat totoaba fishing.

But the groups said the fisheries council has increased catch limits for corvina, another species frequently caught in nets that can trap vaquitas. Corvina boats may also provide cover for fishermen who illegally fish for totoaba.

The report claimed the commission had not carried out supervision of fishing bans on several protected species in the upper gulf. The report also said the council had improperly increased corvina catch limits by 86 percent between 2012 and 2017.

Finally, the report said authorities had not fulfilled promises to provide fishermen with safer nets, saying "the fishery authorities have not implemented alternatives for these communities."

The head of the fisheries council, Mario Aguilar, denied his agency hadn't done enough, saying that no permits at all were issued for corvina this season. Aguilar also said work had been done on small cast nets that were safer for vaquitas.

The council said any lack of fishing-season enforcement was due to budgetary constraints.

Aguilar said Mexico was taking the unusual step of requiring even small boats to carry location devices that work somewhat like cellphones, to allow authorities to keep tabs on them.

He said the council was actively working with environmental agencies to enforce the rules and paying fishermen affected by the bans.

Those payments have also come in for criticism. The Center for Biological Diversity has found there has been a grossly unequal distribution of the government compensation funds for not setting out gillnets. Most of the 2,700 local fishermen received just $220 to $440 a month while a handful got as much as $63,000, according to documents obtained through a freedom of information request.

Aguilar said that was a problem dating back to the number of permits each fisherman holds and that the system is being reviewed in a bid to ensure more equity in payments.

Over the weekend, Mexico, China and the United States agreed to create a tri-national task force to combat the illegal trafficking of totoaba bladders. The fish are caught in Mexico and usually trafficked through the United States before reaching markets in China. The cooperation agreement aims to identify trafficking routes and modalities.

Experts and the Mexican government have announced a plan to catch the few remaining vaquitas and enclose them in floating pens for protection and possible breeding. That effort is expected to begin in October.

Breeding in captivity has successfully saved species such as the red wolf and California condor, but the vaquita has only been scientifically described since the 1950s and has never been bred or even held in captivity. There are worries the few remaining vaquita females could die during capture, dooming the species, but experts say the plan is the best option.


Scores treated after mystery 'chemical haze' hits UK coast

LONDON (AP) — A mysterious chemical haze that left scores of people on the English coast with streaming eyes, sore throats and breathing problems has dissipated, but its cause remains a mystery, police and emergency services said Monday.

The gas cloud appeared Sunday, sending people fleeing from the beach and cliffs at Birling Gap, a popular coastal spot 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of London.

Life boats were dispatched to help clear people from the beaches there. Eastbourne District General Hospital said it had treated more than 130 people. Sussex Police said the injuries were mostly minor.

"Whatever it was, it smelled like burnt plastic," said Bob Jefferey of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's Eastbourne division. "It hung about and didn't move yesterday because there was no wind. The cloud seems to have dispersed today, though."

Pollution has been known to drift to Britain from industrial plants in France, but police said the wind direction made that unlikely in this case.

"Neither the gas nor its source have been established, but agencies are continuing to investigate and have not ruled out either on-shore or off-shore locations," Sussex Police said.

Meteorological Office weather forecaster Jay Merrell said a ship in the English Channel may have been responsible, but stressed nothing conclusive had been proven yet.

Toxicologist John Hopkins said the haze might have been photochemical smog caused by sunshine reacting with vehicle pollution.

"It's just a function of we've got too much traffic on the roads and too much sunshine," he told Sky News.


Europe-Africa summit yields new approach to asylum claims

Rescuers from NGO Open Arms conduct a rescue operation in the waters some 25 Nautical miles (29 miles, 46 kilometers) north of the Libyan coast, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. Some 120 migrants were rescued during the operation. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

By Sylvie Corbet, Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain agreed Monday on a new policy to grant asylum to vulnerable migrants who apply for protection while in Africa instead of their destination countries.

At a Europe-Africa summit in Paris aimed at finding long-elusive solutions to illegal migration, the European leaders also agreed to help the African countries through which Europe-bound migrants usually pass with border controls.

French President Emmanuel Macron, the summit's host, called it the most effective and far-reaching migration meeting in months, though he didn't say how much the new measures would cost and many specifics remained unclear.

In a joint statement, the four leaders acknowledged the need to initiate a process in Chad and Niger that would lead to the resettlement of "particularly vulnerable migrants" in Europe.

They announced they plan to carry out "protection missions" in the African nations in cooperation with the United Nations' refugee and migration agencies.

The process would allow migrants to immigrate legally to Europe if they are on an eligibility list provided by the UN refugee agency and registered with authorities in Niger and Chad.

The pre-asylum centers would receive European financing, according to a top French diplomat. The official, in keeping with French presidential policy, requested anonymity and would not provide details on the precise locations and procedures for the missions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European countries must clearly define which asylum-seekers have legitimate humanitarian needs and who is fleeing poverty. She called it "very, very important" that the possibility of resettlement is coupled "with an end to illegal migration."

The African leaders at the summit — the prime minister of Libya's U.N.-backed government, Fayez Serraj, Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno and Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou — stressed that fighting poverty must be a central part of any migration strategy. They asked for Europe's help in giving human smugglers legal ways of making money.

Issoufou said that poverty is what drives people to emigrate to Europe and into trafficking, and that it's important "to find alternatives for the smugglers to leave criminal activity," such as commerce or farming.

Helping chaotic Libya was a key part of Monday's meetings, and Serraj asked for more support to fight migrant trafficking and in monitoring his country's southern border.

Merkel said Europe also needs to "urgently" rethink its asylum system, which requires migrants to seek refugee status in the first country they reach. The requirement has put a burden on Greece and Italy, where waves of rickety boats carrying smuggled migrants have arrived in recent years.

The seven world leaders also discussed security cooperation before the Europeans held separate talks focused on European Union matters.

The interior ministers from Libya, Chad, Niger and Mali, who were meeting with Italy's interior minister in Rome on Monday, said the Paris summit's agenda "can constitute the beginning of a new relationship between Europe and Africa."

The ministers also renewed a pledge to back peace accords among Libya's southern tribes and to stress the importance of backing Libya in the creation of a border guard force.

Angela Charlton in Paris, Frances D'Emilio in Rome and David Rising in Berlin contributed


Today in History - Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, Aug. 29, the 241st day of 2017. There are 124 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 29, 1967, the series finale of "The Fugitive," starring David Janssen as a doctor on the run after being wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, aired on ABC-TV, drawing an estimated 78 million viewers.

On this date:

In 1533, the last Incan King of Peru, Atahualpa (ah-tuh-WAHL'-puh), was executed on orders of Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro.

In 1877, the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Brigham Young, died in Salt Lake City, Utah, at age 76.

In 1910, Korean Emperor Sunjong abdicated as the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty went into effect.

In 1944, 15,000 American troops of the 28th Infantry Division marched down the Champs Elysees (shahms ay-lee-ZAY') in Paris as the French capital continued to celebrate its liberation from the Nazis.

In 1952, the composition 4'33" ("Four Minutes, Thirty-three Seconds") by avant-garde composer John Cage premiered in Woodstock, New York, as David Tudor sat down at a piano, and, for four minutes and 33 seconds, played ... nothing.

In 1957, the Senate gave final congressional approval to a Civil Rights Act after South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond (then a Democrat) ended a filibuster that had lasted 24 hours.

In 1958, pop superstar Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana.

In 1965, Gemini 5, carrying astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles "Pete" Conrad, splashed down in the Atlantic after 8 days in space.

In 1972, swimmer Mark Spitz of the United States won the third of his seven gold medals at the Munich Olympics, finishing first in the 200-meter freestyle.

In 1987, Academy Award-winning actor Lee Marvin died in Tucson, Arizona, at age 63.

In 1996, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago nominated Al Gore for a second term as vice president. Earlier in the day, President Bill Clinton's chief political strategist, Dick Morris, resigned amid a scandal over his relationship with a prostitute.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast near Buras, Louisiana, bringing floods that devastated New Orleans. More than 1,800 people in the region died.

Ten years ago: Fellow Republicans called on Idaho Sen. Larry Craig to resign and party leaders pushed him from senior committee posts as fallout continued over his arrest at a Minneapolis airport restroom and guilty plea to disorderly conduct. Prayers, protests and a lingering disgust with the government's response to Hurricane Katrina marked the disaster's second anniversary in New Orleans. Taliban militants in Afghanistan released 12 South Korean captives, part of a deal with Seoul to free all 19 hostages. Richard Jewell, the former security guard who was wrongly linked to the 1996 Olympic bombing, was found dead in his west Georgia home; he was 44.

Five years ago: Seizing the Republican National Convention spotlight in Tampa, Florida, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan promised Mitt Romney would "not duck the tough issues" if he were to win the White House and that their party would move forcefully to solve the nation's economic woes. Hurricane Isaac sidestepped New Orleans, sending the worst of its howling wind and heavy rain into a cluster of rural fishing villages. The NFL announced it would open the regular season with replacement officials.

One year ago: Huma Abedin (HOO'-muh AB'-uh-deen), a top aide to Hillary Clinton, announced she was separating from her husband, Anthony Weiner, after the former congressman was accused in yet another sexting scandal. Actor Gene Wilder, the frizzy-haired actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such unforgettable roles as the neurotic accountant in "The Producers" and the deranged animator of "Young Frankenstein," died in Stamford, Connecticut, at age 83.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Betty Lynn (TV: "The Andy Griffith Show") is 91. Movie director William Friedkin is 82. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is 81. Actor Elliott Gould is 79. Movie director Joel Schumacher is 78. TV personality Robin Leach is 76. Actress Deborah Van Valkenburgh is 65. Former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is 62. Dancer-choreographer Mark Morris is 61. Country musician Dan Truman (Diamond Rio) is 61. Actress Rebecca DeMornay is 58. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is 50. Singer Me'Shell NdegeOcello (n-DAY'-gay-OH'-chehl-oh) is 49. Rhythm-and-blues singer Carl Martin (Shai) is 47. Actress Carla Gugino is 46. Rock musician Kyle Cook (Matchbox Twenty) is 42. Actor John Hensley is 40. Actress Kate Simses is 38. Rock musician David Desrosiers (Simple Plan) is 37. Rapper A+ is 35. Actress Jennifer Landon is 34. Actor Jeffrey Licon is 32. Actress-singer Lea Michele is 31. Actress Charlotte Ritchie is 28. Actress Nicole Gale Anderson is 27. Rock singer Liam Payne (One Direction) is 24.

Thought for Today: "Don't be 'consistent,' but be simply true." — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., American author (1809-1894).


Update August 28, 2017

Divers find remains of all missing from USS McCain collision

In this Aug. 22, 2017 file photo. the damaged port aft hull of the USS John S. McCain is visible while docked at Singapore's Changi naval base in Singapore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

SINGAPORE (AP) — Divers have recovered the remains of all 10 sailors who went missing after the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided near Singapore last week, the U.S. Navy said Monday.

Navy and Marine Corps divers had been searching in flooded compartments of the destroyer for days after the damaged ship docked in Singapore. The cause of the Aug. 21 collision is under investigation.

The crash ripped a gash in the McCain's hull, flooding crew berths and machinery and communications rooms.

The commander of the Navy's Japan-based 7th Fleet was fired last week after a series of accidents this year raised questions about its operations. The firing of Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, a three-star admiral, was a rare dismissal of a high-ranking officer for operational reasons.

The Navy also ordered an operational pause for its fleets worldwide to make sure all steps are being taken to ensure safe and effective operations. The Pacific Fleet will also carry out a ship-by-ship review of its vessels, looking at navigation, mechanical systems, bridge resource management and training.

The victims ranged in age from 20 to 39 years old and came from eight U.S. states:

— Charles Nathan Findley, 31, Electronics Technician 1st Class, from Amazonia, Missouri
— Abraham Lopez, 39, Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class, from El Paso, Texas
— Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, Electronics Technician 2nd Class, from Gaithersburg, Maryland
— Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, Electronics Technician 2nd Class, from Cable, Ohio
— Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class, from Manchester, Maryland
— Corey George Ingram, 28, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class, from Poughkeepsie, New York
— Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, Electronics Technician 3rd Class, from Suffield, Connecticut
— John Henry Hoagland III, 20, Electronics Technician 3rd Class, from Killeen, Texas
— Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class, from Decatur, Illinois
— Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, Electronics Technician 3rd Class, from Cherry Hill, New Jersey
 


Ongoing Myanmar clashes leave 96 dead, including 6 civilians

A Rohingya woman cries after being stopped by Bangladeshi border guards at a makeshift shelter at Ghumdhum, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, Sunday, Aug.27, 2017. (AP Photo/Mushfiqul Alam)

BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar's government and advocates for the country's Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority traded charges Sunday of killing civilians, burning down buildings and planting land mines, as clashes that began last week when insurgents launched attacks against police posts continued.

An announcement posted online by the office of the country's leader, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, said the death toll from the violence that started Thursday night had reached 96, mostly alleged Rohingya attackers but also 12 security personnel.

The announcement was the first by the government to list civilians among the dead — six people identified as Hindu said to have been killed by the insurgents.

Myanmar is overwhelmingly Buddhist, but about 1 million Muslim Rohingya live in the northern part of Rakhine, the western state where the violence is taking place.

Advocates for the Rohingya suggest many more civilians have died in army attacks on villages, but they have not given a total. They also say the attacks have caused villagers to flee to the mountains for shelter or to try to cross the border into Bangladesh.

Senior Rakhine state officials who visited the troubled area said Sunday evening that government forces were trying to restore peace.

"We are trying our best to bring stability and now we can see the areas are stabilizing," said Nyi Pu, the state's chief minister. "But anything can happen at any time, so I can't say what will happen."

Dr. Win Myat Aye, union minister of social welfare, relief and resettlement, said: "We are now focusing strongly on the security matters to make the area more secure. And we are also we are increasing our military strength."

The two men spoke to reporters in the state capital, Sittwe, in the southern part of the state, far from the fighting. They also said the government was trying to protect members of international aid organizations in the area, or evacuate them if they desired. The government has allowed only a limited number of foreign aid organizations to work in northern Rakhine state, and due to long-standing communal tensions, some Buddhists resent their helping Rohingya.

Witnesses and refugees on the Bangladesh border said Sunday that the situation there was tense, with thousands of Rohingya trying to flee Myanmar but unable to leave. Witnesses said they heard the sound of gunshots. Bangladeshi villagers said they could see military helicopters hovering in the Myanmar sky.

Several hundred Rohingya got stuck in a "no man's land" at one border point in Bangladesh's Bandarban district, barred from moving farther by Bangladeshi border guards. Lt. Col. Manzurul Hasan Khan of Border Guards Bangladesh said they cordoned off about 1,000 Rohingya after they attempted to enter Bangladesh.

Still, more than 2,000 Rohingya entered Bangladesh overnight through two points at Teknaf in Cox's Bazar district, said Jalal Ahmed, a local government official at the Kharangakhali border point.

A Rohingya insurgent group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA, took responsibility for Thursday night's attacks on more than 25 locations, saying they were in defense of Rohingya communities that had been brutalized by government forces.

Suu Kyi's office accused the insurgents of "torching police outposts and monasteries, killing innocent people and planting mines."

ARSA, meanwhile, accused the army of using civilians as human shields.

Clashes were continuing on Sunday, with witnesses contacted by phone in the northern Rakhine town of Maungdaw saying they could hear gunshots.

Independent confirmation of the situation is difficult because the government bars journalists from the area.

Suu Kyi's office issued an official warning to media on Sunday, saying "some media" have been referring to the group as "insurgents" instead of "terrorists." On Friday, the government declared ARSA a terrorist organization, which means most contacts with it are illegal. Sunday's announcement specifically said "we warn the media to avoid writing in support of the group."

The government refuses to recognize Rohingya as a legitimate native ethnic minority, calling them Bengalis to reflect the position that they are mostly illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. Most Rohingya are denied citizenship and its rights.

The Rohingya have long faced severe discrimination and were the targets of violence in 2012 that killed hundreds and drove about 140,000 people - predominantly Rohingya - from their homes to camps for the internally displaced, where most remain.

Suu Kyi has called Thursday's attacks "a calculated attempt to undermine the efforts of those seeking to build peace and harmony in Rakhine state." The attacks were also generally condemned by Western nations and rights groups, who also warned the government against violent retaliation.

The clashes were deadlier than an attack by the militants on three border posts last October that killed nine policemen and set off months of brutal counterinsurgency operations by Myanmar security forces against Rohingya communities in Rakhine state. Human rights groups accused the army of carrying out massive human rights abuses, including killing, rape and burning down more than 1,000 homes and other buildings.

The army's abuses fueled further resentment toward the government among the Muslim Rohingya. ARSA took advantage of the resentment by stepping up recruitment of members.


Police arrest 2nd man in Buckingham Palace terror incident

A police cordon outside Buckingham Palace where a man has been arrested after an incident, in London, Friday Aug. 25, 2017. (Lauren Hurley/PA via AP)

By Sylvia Hui, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — London police arrested a second man Sunday in connection with a suspect who drove up to a police van not far from Buckingham Palace then reached for a 4-foot (1.2-meter) sword, an incident detectives called a terrorism attempt.

Scotland Yard said three officers were slightly injured when they confronted the 26-year-old man who allegedly drove at the police van then stopped in a restricted area outside the gates of Queen Elizabeth II's London residence Friday night.

The driver reached for the sword in his car and repeatedly shouted "Allahu akbar!" ("God is great" in Arabic) during the incident, police said. The officers used tear gas to incapacitate the man and arrested him at the scene.

No one other than the man and the officers were injured. Two of the officers were treated for minor cuts in the hospital, while the third did not require hospital treatment.

Police said a second suspect, a 30-year-old man, was detained Sunday in west London on suspicion of involvement in terrorism. Officers were searching an address in the area as part of the probe.

Police had said Saturday they believed the first suspect was acting alone and were not looking for potential accomplices. The force has obtained a warrant to detain him until Sept. 1.

"This is a timely reminder that the threat from terrorism in the U.K. remains severe," Metropolitan Police counterterrorism chief Dean Haydon said. "While we cannot speculate on what the man was intending to do — this will be determined during the course of the investigation — it is only right that we investigate this as a terrorist incident at this time."

Palace officials declined to comment. British media reported that no members of the royal family were in Buckingham Palace, one of London's top attractions, at the time. The queen typically spends the month of August at her Balmoral estate in Scotland.


Palm oil kills orangutans in Indonesia peat swamp

a veterinarian of Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) Pandu Wibisono examines a tranquilized male orangutan being rescued from a forest located too close to a palm oil plantation at Tripa peat swamp in Aceh province, Indonesia.(AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

By Binsar Bakkara, Associated Press

TRIPA PEAT SWAMP, Indonesia (AP) — The Tripa peat forest has been called the orangutan capital of the world, but its great apes are under threat by palm oil plantations gobbling up thousands of acres of native vegetation to instead grow the trees that produce the most consumed vegetable oil on the planet.

Palm oil is used in everything from cookies and lipstick to paint, shampoo and instant noodles, and Indonesia is the world's top producer. As demand soars, plantations are expanding. In Tripa, companies drain the swamp, releasing planet-warming carbon into the atmosphere and clear the forest of its native trees, often setting illegal fires.

This robs orangutans and other endangered species of their habitats, leaving the animals marooned on small swaths of forest, boxed-in on all sides by plantations. They starve or they are killed by plantation workers when they emerge from the jungle in search of food. Mothers often die protecting their babies, which are taken and sold as illegal pets.

On Aug. 10, a rescue team from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, accompanied by the Indonesia's Nature Conservation Agency, hiked into the Tripa peatlands to look for a mother and baby orangutan that had been reported in an area being overtaken by oil palms. The plan was to sedate and relocate them, but when the team arrived, there was no sign of the duo. Instead, they encountered a 50-kilogram (110-pound) male orangutan that was about 20 years old.

He too was suffering, and the team managed to tranquilize him and carry him out of the jungle in a stretcher net.

He was named "Black," and driven about eight hours to an orangutan reintroduction center in Jantho, Aceh Besar. He joined about 100 other primates that have been released in the jungle to establish a new wild population. Only an estimated 6,600 critically endangered Sumatran orangutans remain. Less than 200 are believed to be living in the Tripa swamp, but it is still one of the densest concentrations of orangutans. The great apes are only found on two islands, Indonesia's Sumatra and Borneo, which Indonesia shares with Malaysia. Both support separate species.

"Capturing wild orangutans is not something we like to do. It is difficult, highly stressful and risky for all concerned," said the rescue group's director, Ian Singleton, who has been studying Sumatran orangutans since the 1990s. "It really is a last resort, and a reflection of the dire situation many of these animals are in as a result of the ongoing destruction of their habitat."

The Tripa peat swamp is part of the 2.6 million hectare (6.4 million acre) Leuser Ecosystem in northern Sumatra, which is the last place on earth where orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos live together in the wild. The entire area is also under threat from logging, pulp and paper plantations and mining. In 2012, huge fires that were intentionally set to clear the land for palm oil ripped through the swamp, killing wildlife and blanketing surrounding areas in a thick haze.

The Indonesian government filed a lawsuit against palm oil firm P.T. Kallista Alam in 2012 for illegally burning 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of the Tripa swamp. Three years later, it was ordered to pay $26 million in fines and reparation. A manager was sentenced to three years in prison. However, the company filed a lawsuit against the government in July and so far no fines have been paid and no prison time has been served.


Today in History - Monday, Aug. 28, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Monday, Aug. 28, the 240th day of 2017. There are 125 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 28, 1917, ten suffragists demanding that President Woodrow Wilson support a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote were arrested as they picketed outside the White House.

On this date:

In 1609, English sea explorer Henry Hudson and his ship, the Half Moon, reached present-day Delaware Bay.

In 1862, the Second Battle of Bull Run (also known as Second Manassas) began in Prince William County, Virginia, during the Civil War; the result was a Confederate victory.

In 1916, Italy declared war on Germany during World War I.

In 1922, the first-ever radio commercial aired on station WEAF in New York City; the 10-minute advertisement was for the Queensboro Realty Co., which had paid a fee of $100.

In 1947, legendary bullfighter Manolete (man-oh-LEH'-tay) was fatally gored during a fight in Linares, Spain; he died early the next day at age 30.

In 1955, Emmett Till, a black teen-ager from Chicago, was abducted from his uncle's home in Money, Mississippi, by two white men after he had supposedly whistled at a white woman; he was found brutally slain three days later.

In 1963, more than 200,000 people listened as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

In 1968, police and anti-war demonstrators clashed in the streets of Chicago as the Democratic National Convention nominated Hubert H. Humphrey for president.

In 1972, Mark Spitz of the United States won the first two of his seven gold medals at the Munich Olympics, finishing first in the 200-meter butterfly and anchoring the 400-meter freestyle relay. The Soviet women gymnasts won the team all-around.

In 1987, a fire damaged the Arcadia, Florida, home of Ricky, Robert and Randy Ray, three hemophiliac brothers infected with AIDS whose court-ordered school attendance had sparked a local uproar. Academy Award-winning movie director John Huston died in Middletown, Rhode Island, at age 81.

In 1988, 70 people were killed when three Italian stunt planes collided during an air show at the U.S. Air Base in Ramstein (RAHM'-shtyn), West Germany.

In 1996, Democrats nominated President Bill Clinton for a second term at their national convention in Chicago. The troubled 15-year marriage of Britain's Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially ended with the issuing of a divorce decree.

Ten years ago: After reports surfaced of his June arrest at the Minneapolis airport, Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho, told a news conference the only thing he'd done wrong was to plead guilty to disorderly conduct after a police complaint of lewd conduct in a men's room; Craig also declared, "I am not gay. I never have been gay." A military court at Fort Meade, Maryland, acquitted Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan of failing to control U.S. soldiers who'd abused detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but found him guilty of disobeying an order not to discuss the investigation. (That conviction was later thrown out.) Oscar-winning actress Miyoshi Umeki died in Licking, Missouri, at age 78.

Five years ago: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney swept to the Republican presidential nomination at a storm-delayed national convention in Tampa, Florida. Hurricane Isaac spun into the southern Louisiana coast, sending floodwaters surging and unleashing fierce winds, as residents hunkered down behind boarded-up windows.

One year ago: Six scientists completed a yearlong Mars simulation in Hawaii, where they emerged after living in a dome in near isolation on a Mauna Loa mountain. Ryan Harlost led Endwell, New York, to the Little League World Series title, striking out eight and limiting South Korea to five hits in six innings in a 2-1 victory. Beyonce received eight honors at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York. Juan Gabriel, a superstar Mexican songwriter and singer who was an icon in the Latin music world, died at his home in California at age 66.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Sonny Shroyer is 82. Actor Ken Jenkins is 77. Former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen is 77. Actor David Soul is 74. Former pop singer-musician Honey Lantree (The Honeycombs) is 74. Former MLB manager and player Lou Piniella is 74. Actress Barbara Bach is 71. Actress Debra Mooney is 70. Singer Wayne Osmond (The Osmonds) is 66. Actor Daniel Stern is 60. Olympic gold medal figure skater Scott Hamilton is 59. Actor John Allen Nelson is 58. Actress Emma Samms is 57. Actress Jennifer Coolidge is 56. Movie director David Fincher is 55. Actress Amanda Tapping is 52. Country singer Shania (shah-NY'-uh) Twain is 52. Actor Billy Boyd is 49. Actor Jack Black is 48. Actor Jason Priestley is 48. Actor Daniel Goddard (TV: "The Young and the Restless") is 46. Olympic gold medal swimmer Janet Evans is 46. Actor J. August Richards is 44. Rock singer-musician Max Collins (Eve 6) is 39. Actress Carly Pope is 37. Country singer Jake Owen is 36. Country singer LeAnn Rimes is 35.

Actress Kelly Thiebaud is 35. Actor Alfonso Herrera is 34. Actress Sarah Roemer is 33. Actor Armie Hammer is 31. Rock singer Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine) is 31. Actress Shalita Grant is 29. Country-pop singer Cassadee Pope (TV: "The Voice") is 28. Actress Katie Findlay is 27. Actor/singer Samuel Larsen is 26. Actor Kyle Massey is 26.
Actress Quvenzhane (kwuh-VEHN'-zhah-nay) Wallis is 14. Reality TV star Alana Thompson, AKA "Honey Boo Boo," is 12.

Thought for Today: "The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of one's self." — Jane Addams, American social worker and Nobel Peace laureate (1860-1935).


Update August 26 - 27, 2017

Calm returns after 30 die in India riots over guru verdict

A man lifts a motorbike in a vandalized area by Dera Sacha Sauda sect members in Panchkula, India, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

By Shonal Ganguly and Nirmala George, Associated Press

PANCHKULA, India (AP) — Security forces on Saturday patrolled the streets of a north Indian state where rampaging mobs left at least 30 people dead and more than 250 others injured, after a court declared a quasi-religious sect leader guilty of raping two of his followers.

Authorities lifted the curfew in the town of Panchkula, the main trouble spot, after the night passed relatively peacefully and the area was cleared of protesters, said police officer Pradeep Kumar.

On Friday, mobs set fire to government buildings and attacked police and TV journalists in the town, smashing the windshields of news vans and breaking broadcast equipment.

Police initially used tear gas and water cannons and then fired bullets in the air in an attempt to control the surging mobs as they vandalized bus stations and government vehicles.

Haryana state police chief B S Sandhu said 28 people died, six of them due to bullet wounds, and more than 250 others were injured. More than 1,000 of the guru's supporters were detained in on charges of arson and destruction of public property, he said.

The Press Trust of India news agency said another two people were killed in the town of Sirsa, where the headquarters of the sect is located.

The special court announced the guilty verdict after hearing closing arguments in the 15-year-old case against the guru, who calls himself Saint Dr. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insaan.

The guru, who had denied the charges of raping the two women at his ashram in 2002, was flown by helicopter to a jail in the nearby town of Rohtak because district officials feared they would be overrun by his supporters. His sentence will be announced Monday.

Violence also broke out elsewhere in Haryana and the neighboring state of Punjab, as well as in the capital, New Delhi, police said. Railway stations in the towns of Malout and Balluana were ablaze, and two coaches of an empty train parked in New Delhi's Anand Vihar station were set on fire.

A curfew was imposed in at least four districts of Punjab, said Amrinder Singh, the state's chief minister.

A spokesman for the guru's sect, Dera Sacha Sauda, urged his supporters to remain calm.

"I just want to request everyone to maintain peace at the moment," said Dilawar Insan. "We will explore what legal options are available to us."

The sect claims to have about 50 million followers and campaigns for vegetarianism and against drug addiction. It has also taken up social causes such as organizing the weddings of poor couples. Such sects have huge followings in India. It's not unusual for their leaders to have small, heavily armed private militias protecting them.

Clashes in 2007 between Dera Sacha Sauda followers and members of the Sikh faith left at least three people dead in north India.

In 2014, six people were killed when followers of another religious leader, guru Rampal, fought pitched battles with police who were attempting to arrest him after he repeatedly failed to appear in court in connection with a murder trial.

In a televised appeal on Thursday, Ram Rahim Singh asked his supporters not to resort to violence, but some said they would not tolerate a verdict that went against their leader.

"I consider guru-ji to be only next to God," farmer Malkit Singh said as he squatted on the ground in a park, saying Ram Rahim Singh had cured him of a decadelong addiction to drugs.

"There is a God above," he said. "Our guru-ji follows the path of truth."
___
George reported from New Delhi. Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.


Student charged with assaulting 4 at Australian university

In this image made from video, injured students are attended to at Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A Canberra court has ordered an 18-year-old student to undergo a mental health assessment after he was charged with attacking his teacher and three of his fellow students with a baseball bat at one of Australia's most prestigious universities.

Alex Ophel was charged in the Australian Capital Territory Magistrates Court on Saturday with several violent offenses including intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm, which carries a potential maximum of 20 years in prison, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, which carries a maximum five-year sentence.

Police say Ophel stood up from his seat in an Australian National University classroom armed with a bat and attacked the teacher and three students on Friday.

The four victims were hospitalized with serious but non-life threatening injuries, including broken bones.


US urges Myanmar to avoid reprisals after attacks kills 71

In this image made from video, a man lying on a bed with a bandaged hand is cared for in a hospital in Buthidaung township, Myanmar, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. (DVB via AP)

By Esther Htusan, Associated Press

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — An attack by ethnic Rohingya militants in western Myanmar left 12 security personnel and 59 Rohingya Muslims dead in a dramatic escalation of communal violence that has plagued the region, as the United States urged authorities to avoid a response that would inflame the tensions.

The office of the country's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said Friday that military and border police responded to the attacks by launching "clearance operations."

Police fought off groups of as many as 100 Rohingya attackers armed with guns, machetes and homemade grenades. The captured weapons were shown in photos posted online by the government.

A witness in Maungdaw township in Rakhine state, contacted by phone, said soldiers entered her village at about 10 a.m. Friday, burned homes and property, and shot dead at least 10 people.

The witness, who asked to be identified by her nickname, Emmar, because of fear of retribution, said villagers fled in many directions but mostly to a nearby mountain range. She said gunshots and explosions could be heard and smoke could still be seen Friday evening.

A militant group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA, took responsibility for the Thursday night attacks on more than 25 locations, saying they were in defense of Rohingya communities that had been brutalized by government forces. It issued its statement on Twitter on an account deemed legitimate by advocates of Rohingya rights.

Suu Kyi called the attacks "a calculated attempt to undermine the efforts of those seeking to build peace and harmony in Rakhine state."

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in Washington that as security forces act to prevent further violence and bring the perpetrators to justice, they should respect the rule of law and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

She said the attacks underscored the importance of the government implementing recommendations of a commission chaired by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, which published its final report on Thursday recommending that the government act quickly to improve economic development and social justice in Rakhine state to resolve violence between Buddhists and the Rohingya.

Suu Kyi's office said on its Facebook page that the attacks were intended to coincide with the release of Annan's report.

The clashes were deadlier than an attack by the militants on three border posts last October that killed nine policemen and set off months of brutal counterinsurgency operations by Myanmar security forces against Rohingya communities in Rakhine state. Human rights groups accused the army of carrying out massive human rights abuses including killing, rape and burning down more than 1,000 homes and other buildings.

The army's abuses fueled further resentment toward the government among the Muslim Rohingya, most of whom are considered by Myanmar's Buddhist majority to be illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh and are denied citizenship and its rights. ARSA took advantage of the resentment by stepping up recruitment of members.

The Rohingya have long faced severe discrimination and were the targets of violence in 2012 that killed hundreds and drove about 140,000 people — predominantly Rohingya — from their homes to camps for the internally displaced, where most remain.

According to the United Nations, more than 80,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since last October's clashes.

Annan also condemned the new attacks, saying "no cause can justify such brutality and senseless killing" and urging the government to exercise restraint and "ensure that innocent civilians are not harmed."


Peru discovers in pre-Incan site tomb of 16 Chinese migrants

An archeologist works at the site where 16 tombs belonging to 19th century Chinese immigrants were discovered, at Huaca Bellavista in Lima, Peru. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peruvian archeologists have discovered in a sacred pre-Incan site the bodies of 16 men from China who arrived to South America almost two centuries ago as semi-enslaved workers.

The secret tomb in Lima is the biggest burial site of Chinese migrants ever found in Peru and was presented Thursday to journalists. Found alongside the bony remains were opium pipes and other personal objects used by the migrants.

As many as 100,000 Chinese migrants arrived to Peru in the second half of the 19th century and for little pay performed back-breaking work on farms, building railroads and removing guano, which is bird excrement coveted as fertilizer.

The Chinese were discriminated against even in death, having to be buried in the pre-Incan sites after being barred from cemeteries reserved for Roman Catholics.


Today in History - Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, Aug. 27, the 239th day of 2017. There are 126 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 27, 1967, Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles, was found dead in his London flat from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills; he was 32.

On this date:

In 1776, the Battle of Long Island began during the Revolutionary War as British troops attacked American forces who ended up being forced to retreat two days later.

In 1883, the island volcano Krakatoa erupted with a series of cataclysmic explosions; the resulting tidal waves in Indonesia's Sunda Strait claimed some 36,000 lives in Java and Sumatra.

In 1892, fire seriously damaged New York's original Metropolitan Opera House.

In 1908, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, was born near Stonewall, Texas.

In 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed in Paris, outlawing war and providing for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

In 1939, the first turbojet-powered aircraft, the Heinkel He 178, went on its first full-fledged test flight over Germany.

In 1949, a violent white mob prevented an outdoor concert headlined by Paul Robeson from taking place near Peekskill, New York. (The concert was held eight days later.)

In 1957, the USS Swordfish, the second Skate Class nuclear submarine, was launched from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine.

In 1962, the United States launched the Mariner 2 space probe, which flew past Venus in December 1962.

In 1979, British war hero Lord Louis Mountbatten and three other people, including his 14-year-old grandson Nicholas, were killed off the coast of Ireland in a boat explosion claimed by the Irish Republican Army.

In 1989, the first U.S. commercial satellite rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida — a Delta booster carrying a British communications satellite, the Marcopolo 1.

In 2008, Barack Obama was nominated for president by the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Ten years ago: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced his resignation after a controversy over the firings of nine U.S. attorneys. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick apologized for "using bad judgment and making bad decisions" and vowed to redeem himself after pleading guilty in Richmond, Virginia, to a federal dogfighting charge (Vick ended up serving 19 months in federal prison).

Five years ago: Republicans opened their national convention in Tampa, Florida, a day late, then immediately recessed as Tropical Storm Isaac surged toward New Orleans and the northern Gulf Coast.

One year ago: Republican Donald Trump warned of a "war on the American farmer," telling a crowd in Iowa that rival Hillary Clinton wanted "to shut down family farms" and implement anti-agriculture policies; Trump's speech at the annual "Roast and Ride" fundraiser for GOP Sen. Joni Ernst came just hours after Clinton received her first national security briefing as the Democratic presidential nominee.

Today's Birthdays: Author Lady Antonia Fraser is 85. Actor Tommy Sands is 80. Bluegrass singer-musician J.D. Crowe is 80. Musician Daryl Dragon is 75. Actress Tuesday Weld is 74. Actor G.W. Bailey is 73. Rock singer-musician Tim Bogert is 73. Actress Marianne Sagebrecht is 72. Country musician Jeff Cook is 68. Actor Paul Reubens is 65. Rock musician Alex Lifeson (Rush) is 64. Actor Peter Stormare is 64. Actress Diana Scarwid is 62. Rock musician Glen Matlock (The Sex Pistols) is 61. Golfer Bernhard Langer is 60. Country singer Jeffrey Steele is 56. Gospel singer Yolanda Adams is 56. Movie director Tom Ford (Film: "Nocturnal Animals") is 56. Country musician Matthew Basford (Yankee Grey) is 55.

Writer-producer Dean Devlin is 55. Rock musician Mike Johnson is 52. Rap musician Bobo (Cypress Hill) is 50. Country singer Colt Ford is 48. Actress Chandra Wilson is 48. Rock musician Tony Kanal (No Doubt) is 47. Actress Sarah Chalke is 41. Actor RonReaco (correct) Lee is 41. Rapper Mase is 40.

Actress-singer Demetria McKinney is 39. Actor Aaron Paul is 38. Rock musician Jon Siebels (Eve 6) is 38. Actor Shaun Weiss is 38. Contemporary Christian musician Megan Garrett (Casting Crowns) is 37. Actor Kyle Lowder is 37. Actor Patrick J. Adams is 36. Actress Karla Mosley is 36. Actress Amanda Fuller is 33. Singer Mario is 31. Actress Alexa PenaVega is 29. Actor Ellar Coltrane is 23. Actress Savannah Paige Rae is 14.

Thought for Today: "In order to have wisdom we must have ignorance." — Theodore Dreiser, American author (born this date in 1871, died 1945).


Today in History - Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Saturday, Aug. 26, the 238th day of 2017. There are 127 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing American women's right to vote, was certified in effect by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby.

On this date:

In 1789, France's National Assembly adopted its Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
In 1817, the University of Michigan was founded.

In 1939, the first televised major league baseball games were shown on experimental station W2XBS: a double-header between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. (The Reds won the first game, 5-2, the Dodgers the second, 6-1.)

In 1944, French Gen. Charles de Gaulle braved the threat of German snipers as he led a victory march in Paris, which had just been liberated by the Allies from Nazi occupation.

In 1957, the Soviet Union announced it had successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson was nominated for a term of office in his own right at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In 1968, the Democratic National Convention opened in Chicago; the four-day event that resulted in the nomination of Hubert H. Humphrey for president was marked by a bloody police crackdown on antiwar protesters in the streets.

In 1972, the summer Olympics games opened in Munich, West Germany.

In 1978, Cardinal Albino Luciani (al-BEE'-noh loo-CHYAH'-nee) of Venice was elected pope following the death of Paul VI; the new pontiff took the name Pope John Paul I. (However, he died just over a month later.)

In 1986, in the so-called "preppie murder case," 18-year-old Jennifer Levin was found strangled in New York's Central Park; Robert Chambers later pleaded guilty to manslaughter and served 15 years in prison.

In 1996, Democrats opened their 42nd national convention in Chicago.

In 2015, Alison Parker, a reporter for WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Virginia, and her cameraman, Adam Ward, were shot to death during a live broadcast by a disgruntled former station employee who fatally shot himself while being purused by police.

Ten years ago: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (NOO'-ree ahl-MAHL'-ih-kee) lashed out at American critics, saying Sen. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats who were calling for his ouster should "come to their senses" and stop treating Iraq like "one of their villages." The $95 million Hawaii Superferry made its maiden run from Oahu to Maui, the first passenger ferry service between the islands. (However, the ferry went out of business two years later.) Warner Robins, Georgia, won the Little League World Series title with a 3-2 victory over Tokyo.

Five years ago: In the face of approaching Tropical Storm Isaac, Republicans pushed back the start of their national convention in Tampa, Florida, by a day. Lydia Ko, a 15-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander, won the Canadian Women's Open to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and only the fifth amateur champion. Japan limited Tennessee's potent lineup to two hits in a 12-2 victory in the Little League World Series title game.

One year ago: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem before the Niners played host to the Green Bay Packers in an exhibition game, saying he believed the United States was oppressing African Americans and other minorities. (The Packers won, 21-10.) NBA star Dwayne Wade's 32-year-old cousin, Nykea Aldridge, was shot to death while pushing her baby in a stroller near a Chicago school where she intended to register her children; Wade denounced the killing as an "act of senseless gun violence." (Two brothers were charged with Aldridge's slaying.) A SpaceX Dragon capsule returned to Earth with scientific gifts from the International Space Station, parachuting into the Pacific just off Mexico's Baja California coast loaded with 3,000 pounds of research and equipment.

Today's Birthdays: Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is 72. Rhythm-and-blues singer Valerie Simpson is 72. Pop singer Bob Cowsill is 68. Broadcast journalist Bill Whitaker is 66. Actor Brett Cullen is 61. NBA coach Stan Van Gundy is 58. Jazz musician Branford Marsalis is 57. Country musician Jimmy Olander (Diamond Rio) is 56. Actor Chris Burke is 52. Actress-singer Shirley Manson (Garbage) is 51. Rock musician Dan Vickrey (Counting Crowes) is 51. TV writer-actress Riley Weston is 51. Rock musician Adrian Young (No Doubt) is 48. Actress Melissa McCarthy is 47. Latin pop singer Thalia is 46. Actress Meredith Eaton is 43. Rock singer-musician Tyler Connolly (Theory of a Deadman) is 42. Actor Mike Colter is 41. Actor Macaulay Culkin is 37. Actor Chris Pine is 37. Actor Johnny Ray Gill is 33. Country singer Brian Kelley (Florida Georgia Line) is 32. Rhythm-and-blues singer Cassie Ventura is 31. Actor Evan Ross is 29. Actor Dylan O'Brien is 26. Actress Keke Palmer is 24.

Thought for Today: "Suffering belongs to no language." — Adelia Prado, Brazilian poet.


Update August 25, 2017

South Korean court to rule in Samsung heir bribery case

In this Aug. 7, 2017, file photo, Lee Jae-yong, center, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., arrives for his trial at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, Pool)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A court will rule Friday in a bribery case against the billionaire heir to the Samsung empire that fed public anger leading to the ouster of Park Geun-hye as South Korea's president.

Prosecutors have sought a 12-year prison term for the 49-year-old Lee Jae-yong Lee, princeling of South Korea's richest family and its biggest company, is accused of offering $38 million in bribes to four entities controlled by a friend of Park in exchange for government help with a merger that strengthened Lee's control over Samsung at a crucial time.

Park, who was embroiled in a tumultuous series of scandals, was removed from office in March and is being tried separately. Her friend Choi Soon-sil also is on trial.

Lee has denied the allegations against him.


More than 200 doomed Puerto Rico dogs saved by airlift to US

In this Aug. 22, 2017 photo, a dog sits inside his kennel at the Villa Michelle Animal Shelter in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.(AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

By Ricardo Arduengo, Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — They were a mix of breeds and sizes, ranging from puppies to seniors. All faced a grim future in Puerto Rico animal shelters, where chronic overcrowding results in many dogs being euthanized.

That changed Wednesday for 205 abandoned canines that arrived on the U.S. mainland in an airlift organized by animal welfare advocates working to ease the load.

"The shelters in Puerto Rico have no choice," said Kimberly Alboum, director of policy engagement and shelter outreach for the Humane Society of the United States. "They run out of room and, unfortunately, they have to euthanize for space. It's heartbreaking for the staff and it's devastating because these animals are all highly adoptable."

The island territory has struggled with dog overpopulation for years due to factors such as poorly funded shelters and low spaying and neutering rates.

It's common to see packs of what locals refer to as "satos" roaming through Puerto Rican communities, and one stretch of coast near the town of Yabucoa became so infamous for abandoned and abused pets that it was dubbed Dead Dog Beach.

Activists in Puerto Rico and on the mainland have been working on the problem and say there are signs of improvement.

Christina Beckles, founder of the Puerto Rico-based Sato Project, said fewer dogs are ending up on Dead Dog Beach thanks in part to a campaign to spay and neuter in Yabucoa.

But there have also been setbacks, including a deep economic crisis that led many islanders to decamp for the mainland and leave their pets behind.

"People are leaving the island in droves because they can't afford to live here," Beckles said. "I would never condone someone abandoning an animal, but I understand."

While various organizations have airlifted dogs out of Puerto Rico in recent years, this latest effort is believed to be the largest number in a single trip.

Many of the animals came from two shelters: One in the hills above Mayaguez that has a hard time finding people to adopt its animals because it is so remote, and another in a condemned building with no power or water near Cabo Rojo that had to clear its entire population for a badly needed renovation.

Dellymar Bernal Martinez, president of the Saint Francis of Assis Animal Sanctuary in Cabo Rojo, cried as she hugged a departing beige, medium-sized dog that had been born at the shelter three years earlier. "It's bittersweet. I'm sad she is leaving but she is going to a better place."

The dogs were checked by veterinarians, taken to the San Juan airport and then flown in two planes provided by a group called Wings of Rescue.

They landed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, dogs peeking nervously out of their carriers as volunteers unloaded them and transferred them to waiting vans. One planeload of dogs was destined for shelters around the state. The other aircraft refueled and went on to North Carolina, with its canines continuing on to various shelters including Animal Haven in New York City.

About two dozen ended up at a facility run by the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale.

"They'll all get adopted," shelter director Mary Steffen said. "They will go fast."

Associated Press writer Ben Fox in Miami contributed to this report.


Tony Abbott was once too drunk for Parliament

In this Sept. 19, 2014, file photo, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks during a press conference, in Sydney. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister confirmed Friday that his predecessor and intra-party rival Tony Abbott had once been too drunk to vote in Parliament, an incident that's been a poorly kept secret in political circles for eight years.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Melbourne Radio 3AW on Friday that he was opposition leader in 2009 when Abbott was incapable of voting against government legislation to massively increase economic stimulus spending.

Abbott replaced Turnbull as leader of the conservative Liberal Party late in 2009 and became prime minister before Turnbull ousted Abbott in a party ballot in 2015.

"I was disappointed, but you've got to move on with these things," Turnbull told Melbourne Radio 3AW of Abbott's inebriation.

"I can't remember anyone else missing a vote because they were too drunk to get into the chamber," he added.

Turnbull told the truth over the episode after media reported that Abbott had finally confessed in a television interview that will be screened on Sept. 5.

Abbott said he had gone to sleep on his office couch after he'd been drinking wine with two party colleagues.

"The impact was rather greater than it should have been," the Herald Sun newspaper quoted him as saying.

"I lay down, and the next thing knew it was morning," he added.

Turnbull said party officials responsible for making sure lawmakers were available for votes, known as whips, could not wake Abbott.

"There was nothing we could do," Turnbull said.

"The whips tried to rouse him to get him down into the chamber to vote but they were unable to move him," he added.

Turnbull said the need for lawmakers to attend every vote was now even greater, since the ruling coalition has a single-seat majority in the House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to govern.

Abbott previously said he had missed the vote because he was tired after days of working as a volunteer firefighter. He dismissed a journalist's question of whether he had been drunk as "impertinent."

Abbott remains a government lawmaker and retains strong support from his party's hard-right faction. He has become a vocal critic of the Turnbull administration's policy direction, as the government lags behind the center-left opposition Labor Party in successive opinion polls.

Abbott and Turnbull are now on opposite sides of Australia's gay marriage debate. Abbott is campaigning against same-sex marriage ahead of a national postal survey on the subject next month, while Turnbull supports marriage equality.

Abbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.


18 dead in Brazil boat accident, 2nd fatal sinking this week

A rescue worker carries an unconscious 1-year-old to a waiting ambulance. (Xando Pereira/A Tarde/Futura Press via AP)

By Peter Prengaman, Stan Lehman, Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A commuter boat carrying more than 100 passengers flipped and sank Thursday in northeast Brazil, killing at least 18 people and leaving dozens missing in rough ocean waters.

It was the second fatal accident involving passenger boats this week in the South American nation, where aquatic travel of all kinds is common.

Navy Lt. Col. Flavio Almeida told The Associated Press that the vessel went down in the morning while traversing the Bay of All Saints off the coast of the city of Salvador.

Twenty-one people were rescued by naval teams, and private boats also motored in and helped an unknown number of survivors.

"Some passengers were able to swim to shore. Others were picked up," Almeida said. "An investigation into what happened will be launched, but at this point we are still in the middle of the rescue."

Authorities reported earlier that 22 people had died but later lowered the toll to 18.

Globo News showed rescuers pulling people from the bay and anxious family members waiting for news in the Salvador terminal where the boat was expected.

In a statement the Bahia state health department said 34 people were being treated for injuries. An unconscious 1-year-old who initially responded to resuscitation efforts died in an ambulance en route to a hospital, it added.

Survivor Edvaldo Santos de Almeida told the G1 news portal that a large wave tipped the boat during a heavy rainstorm.

"There were a lot of people" on board, he said. "It took a long time to be rescued. We were in the water for two hours."

Authorities said there were 120 people on board when the boat sank.

Matheus Ramos told the daily newspaper Folha de S. Paulo he was sitting down the boat suddenly flipped on top of him, banging his left shoulder.

"When I came up, a tarp was on top of my face," Ramos said. "I had to rip it to breathe."

Salvador, one of Brazil's most famous cities, is located on a peninsula near a handful of islands. Each day thousands of workers, students and other people commute on boats between the city and the

The vessel was traveling between Vera Cruz on Itaparica Island and Salvador, about an 8-mile (13-kilometer) stretch.
The accident took place two days after a passenger boat sank on the Xingu River in the northern state of Para, leaving at least 21 dead.

Authorities initially said more than 70 were on that boat when it sank late Tuesday. But on Thursday, as recovery efforts continued, authorities revised the number of passengers down to 48. Of those, 23 had been rescued, meaning at least four were still missing.
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Associated Press writer Peter Prengaman reported from Rio de Janeiro and Stan Lehman reported from Sao Paulo.


Today in History - Friday, Aug. 25, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Friday, Aug. 25, the 237th day of 2017. There are 128 days left in the year.

Today's Highlights in History:

On August 25, 1967, the Beatles boarded a train in London bound for Bangor, Wales, to attend a conference on transcendental meditation led by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; the visit was cut short two days later when the group got word of the death of their manager, Brian Epstein. George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, was shot to death at a shopping center in Arlington, Virginia; former party member John Patler was convicted of the killing. Actor Paul Muni, 71, died in Montecito, California.

On this date:

In 1718, hundreds of French colonists arrived in Louisiana, with some settling in present-day New Orleans.

In 1825, Uruguay declared independence from Brazil.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an act establishing the National Park Service within the Department of the Interior.

In 1921, the United States signed a peace treaty with Germany.

In 1944, during World War II, Paris was liberated by Allied forces after four years of Nazi occupation. Romania declared war on former ally Germany.

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a measure providing pensions for former U.S. presidents and their widows.

In 1960, opening ceremonies were held for the Summer Olympics in Rome.

In 1975, the Bruce Springsteen album "Born to Run" was released by Columbia Records.

In 1981, the U.S. spacecraft Voyager 2 came within 63,000 miles of Saturn's cloud cover, sending back pictures of and data about the ringed planet.

In 1989, Voyager 2 made its closest approach to Neptune, its final planetary target.

In 1997, former East German leader Egon Krenz was convicted of manslaughter in the deaths of citizens trying to flee to the West during Cold War; he was sentenced to 6 1/2 years' imprisonment. (Krenz was released in 2003 after serving less than four years.)

In 2009, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died at age 77 in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, after a battle with a brain tumor.

Ten years ago: The government of Greece declared a nationwide state of emergency as the death toll from wildfires rose to at least 49. Bombs blamed on Islamic extremists killed at least 43 people at a park and a street-side food stall in Hyderabad, India.

Five years ago: Neil Armstrong, 82, who commanded the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing and was the first man to set foot on the moon in July 1969, died in Cincinnati, Ohio. A huge explosion rocked Venezuela's biggest oil refinery and unleashed a ferocious fire, killing at least 42 people. Alpha and long-shot Golden Ticket finished in a historic dead heat in the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

One year ago: Hillary Clinton said that Donald Trump had unleashed the "radical fringe" within the Republican Party, dubbing the billionaire businessman's campaign as one that will "make America hate again"; Trump rejected Clinton's allegations, defending his hard-line approach to immigration while trying to make the case to minority voters that Democrats had abandoned them. The bodies of two nuns, Sisters Margaret Held and Paula Merrill, both 68, were found in their home in Durant, Mississippi; a suspect has been charged with capital murder. Actor Marvin Kaplan, 89, died in Burbank, California.

Today's Birthdays: Game show host Monty Hall is 96. Actor Sean Connery is 87. Actor Page Johnson is 87. TV personality Regis Philbin is 86. Actor Tom Skerritt is 84. Jazz musician Wayne Shorter is 84. Movie director Hugh Hudson is 81. Author Frederick Forsyth is 79. Movie director John Badham is 78. Filmmaker Marshall Brickman is 78. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is 75. Rhythm-and-blues singer Walter Williams (The O'Jays) is 74. Actor Anthony Heald is 73. Rock singer-actor Gene Simmons is 68. Actor John Savage is 68. Author Martin Amis is 68. Country singer-musician Henry Paul (Outlaws; Blackhawk) is 68. Rock singer Rob Halford is 66. Rock musician Geoff Downes (Asia) is 65. Rock singer Elvis Costello is 63. Movie director Tim Burton is 59. Actor Christian LeBlanc is 59. Actress Ashley Crow is 57. Actress Ally Walker is 56. Country singer Cyrus (AKA Billy Ray Cyrus) is 56. Actress Joanne Whalley is 56. Rock musician Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard) is 55. Actor Blair Underwood is 53. Actor Robert Maschio is 51.

Rap DJ Terminator X (Public Enemy) is 51. Alternative country singer Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) is 50. Actor David Alan Basche (BAYSH) is 49. Television chef Rachael Ray is 49. Actor Cameron Mathison is 48. Country singer Jo Dee Messina is 47. Model Claudia Schiffer is 47. Country singer Brice Long is 46. Actor-writer-director Ben Falcone is 44. Actor Eric Millegan is 43. Actor Alexander Skarsgard is 41. Actor Jonathan Togo is 40. Actor Kel Mitchell is 39. Actress Rachel Bilson is 36. Actress Blake Lively is 30. Actor Josh Flitter is 23.

Thought for Today: "No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helps you." — Althea Gibson, American tennis champion (born this date in 1927, died 2003).


Update August 24, 2017

Swedish journalist's torso found in submarine death mystery

This is a Dec. 28, 2015 file handout photo portrait of the Swedish journalist Kim Wall taken in Trelleborg, Sweeden.(Tom Wall via AP, File)

In this Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 photo, a private submarine sits on a pier in Copenhagen harbor, Denmark.(Jens Dresling/Ritzau Foto via AP)

By Jan M. Olsen, Associated Press

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Journalist Kim Wall had reported on conflicts, crises and natural disasters around the world. Earlier this month, she set out to sea from laid-back Copenhagen for a story about an eccentric Danish inventor and his home-made submarine.

She never returned. On Wednesday, police confirmed that Wall's headless torso had been found on a beach near the Danish capital. The inventor, Peter Madsen, has been arrested on suspicion of killing her.Wall, 30, was last seen alive on the evening of Aug. 10 on Madsen's submarine, named UC3 Nautilus. The freelance journalist's family says she was working on a story about Madsen, 46, a celebrity entrepreneur and engineer who dreamed of launching a manned space mission.

Early the next day, Wall's boyfriend reported her missing. Madsen was rescued from his sinking vessel south of Copenhagen hours later. Wall was nowhere to be found.

Madsen, who remains in police custody on suspicion of manslaughter, initially told police he had let Wall off on an island several hours into the trip. Later, he said she had died accidentally and he had "buried" her at sea.

On Monday, a cyclist discovered a torso on a beach on Copenhagen's southern Amager island, near where Wall was believed to have died. Copenhagen police said Tuesday that the body's head, arms and legs had "deliberately been cut off."

Copenhagen police investigator Jens Moeller Jensen told reporters Wednesday that DNA tests had confirmed the torso was Wall's.

Dried blood found inside the submarine was also a match to DNA obtained from Wall's toothbrush and hairbrush, he said.

Moeller Jensen said the torso "washed ashore after having been at sea for a while," and was attached to a piece of metal "likely with the purpose to make it sink."

The investigator said marks on the torso indicated that someone had tried to press air out of the body so that it wouldn't float.

The cause of the journalist's death is not yet known, police said. They are still looking for the rest of her body.

Madsen's defense lawyer said her client still maintains that Wall died accidentally, and that the discovery of her torso doesn't mean he's guilty of killing her.

"It doesn't change my client's explanation that an accident happened," Betina Hald Engmark told Danish tabloid BT.
"No matter what, we find it very positive that she has been found now," she added.

Wall's boyfriend alerted authorities early on Aug. 11 that the 40-ton, nearly 18-meter-long (60-foot-long) sub hadn't returned from a test run.

The Danish navy launched a rescue operation, scrambling two helicopters and three ships for the search.

The navy said the sub had been seen sailing, but sank shortly afterward. Madsen was picked up by a private boat.

Police say they believe Madsen deliberately scuttled the submarine. Authorities later found it and brought it onto land for investigation.

A self-taught aerospace engineer, Madsen was one of a group of entrepreneurs who founded Copenhagen Suborbitals, a private consortium to develop and construct submarines and manned spacecraft.

Madsen made headlines when he launched the Nautilus — billed as the world's largest privately built sub — on May 3, 2008.

In 2011, Copenhagen Suborbitals launched a homemade 30-foot (nine-meter) rocket five miles (eight kilometers) into the sky over the Baltic Sea, a step toward its unrealized goal of launching a person into space.

The group split in 2014, and Nautilus is currently owned by Madsen's company Rocket Madsen Space Lab, billed on its website as "a place where nothing is impossible and where science and innovation meet practical engineering."

Wall grew up in southern Sweden, just across a strait from Copenhagen. She studied at the Sorbonne university in Paris, the London School of Economics and at Columbia University in New York, graduating with a master's degree in journalism in 2013.

She lived in New York and Beijing, her family said, and had written for The New York Times, The Guardian, the South China Morning Post and Vice Magazine, among other publications. She had reported from Cuba, Sri Lanka, Uganda, China and the Marshall Islands.

Her family said that she had worked in many dangerous places as a journalist, and it was unimaginable "something could happen ... just a few miles from the childhood home."

In an email to The Associated Press, the family said it received the confirmation of her death "with boundless sadness and dismay," adding "the tragedy has hit not only us and other families, but friends and colleagues all over the world."

The Committee to Protect Journalists said it was "shocked and saddened" by Wall's death.

"Wall's death on a seemingly low-risk assignment underscores the dangers that journalists face around the world every day," said the group's Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator, Nina Ognianova.

Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.


10 dead, dozens missing after boat sinks on Brazil river

 

People surround the boat "Comandante Ribeiro" that sank while carrying 70 people during a search and rescue mission in the Xingu River, Para state, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.(Alexandre Cardoso via AP)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A boat carrying 70 people sank on a major river in northern Brazil leaving at least 10 dead and dozens missing, authorities said Wednesday.

The public security office of the state of Para said 15 people made it to the shore and 10 bodies were recovered, while the rest were unaccounted for. Earlier the office had reported that 25 reached the shore.

Authorities said the boat was traveling on the Xingu River when it sank late Tuesday. The cause was not immediately clear.

The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper said the vessel left Monday night from Santarem and was heading to Vitoria do Xingu.

Survivor Bruno Costa, a 29 year-old disc jockey, described a chaotic scene as the boat cracked apart and quickly sank. He told the G1 news portal that a tarpaulin sheltering passengers from a heavy downpour made it escape difficult.

"The tarp prevented many people from leaving. I managed to rescue a child of about 2, but neither I nor the child had a life jacket on," Costa said.

Costa said a man trying to get off the boat suddenly jumped on his back and grabbed the child away from him. He last saw the man sinking in the river and did not know what happened to the child. He told G1 he found a life jacket and used it to stay afloat, but he saw many others in the water who "failed to make it."

Travel by river is common in Brazil's northern states, which include the Amazon rainforest and have relatively fewer major roads.

In early August a cargo vessel collided with a tugboat on the Amazon River, also in the state of Para. Only two people were rescued out of 11 aboard the tugboat.


Study: Arsenic poisoning a risk for 50M in Pakistan

People at a filtration plant fill their bottles with water from a tube well, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

By Kathy Gannon Katy Daigle, Associated Press

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Some 50 million people are at risk of arsenic poisoning from contaminated groundwater in Pakistan's Indus Valley — far more than previously thought, according to a new study.

Pakistan is aware of the growing problem, with arsenic levels rising in some areas as people increasingly and indiscriminately draw from the country's underground aquifers, said Lubna Bukhari, who heads the government's Council for Research in Water Resources.

"It's a real concern," she said. "Because of lack of rules and regulations, people have exploited the groundwater brutally, and it is driving up arsenic levels."

The authors of the study developed a map highlighting areas of likely contamination based on water quality data from nearly 1,200 groundwater pumps tested from 2013 to 2015, and accounting for geological factors including surface slope and soil contents. They determined some 88 million people were living in high-risk areas.

Given that about 60-70 percent of the population relies on groundwater, they calculated that roughly 50 million — maybe even 60 million — were potentially affected. That's equal to at least a third of the 150 million already estimated by the World Health Organization to be drinking, cooking and farming with arsenic-laced water worldwide.

"This is an alarmingly high number, which demonstrates the urgent need to test all drinking water wells in the Indus Plain," with hotspots around the densely populated cities of Lahore and Hyderabad, said the study's lead author, Joel Podgorski, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, known as Eawag.

The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

The high-risk area mapped out in the study broadly covers the middle and lower reaches of the Indus River and its tributaries, before they empty into the Arabian Sea.

Scientists had expected this area might be affected. Similar geographical areas along the Ganges River in neighboring India and Brahmaputra in Bangladesh also contain pockets of arsenic contamination.

Normally, that arsenic would stay in the ground. But in the last few decades, South Asian countries concerned with pathogen-infused surface water have been pumping enormous volumes of groundwater, causing the water tables to drop drastically and tapping into new water pockets tainted by the colorless, odorless toxin.

The WHO considers arsenic concentrations above 10 micrograms per liter to be dangerous. Pakistan's guideline is five times that, and many of its wells test much higher.

Arsenic is naturally occurring and kills human cells — causing skin lesions, organ damage, heart disease and cancer. There is no cure for arsenic poisoning.

"This study is important because it draws attention to an overlooked — yet solvable — problem of vast magnitude affecting the health of millions of villagers," said geochemist Alexander van Geen of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who was not involved in the study. He said the patterns it identifies are broadly consistent with data he and other researchers have collected from some 10,000 well tests in the region.

One of those researchers, Abida Farooqui, assistant professor of environmental sciences at Islamabad's Qaid-e-Azam University, said the new study's sample size may be too small to draw clear conclusions.

"The study revealed very important and an emerging problem of arsenic in the country," Farooqui said. But "only 1,193 samples have been used to predict the situation in the whole Indus Valley, which is unrealistic."

In any case, no map can tell villagers whether a specific well is contaminated. Arsenic concentration varies widely from pump to pump, and the only way to know for certain is to test each one.

Shallow wells are less likely to be tainted. Deeper ones, such as those run by the government's Drinking Water Filtration sites, may be more at risk.

This makes the problem especially acute for thousands of city-dwellers who have no access to clean water and rely on what the government supplies. At one Islamabad neighborhood filtration site on Wednesday, resident Ali Hasan said the struggle was real.

"It's the government's job to provide us with clean drinking water, but everywhere we have to travel to find clean water," Hasan said while filling a large plastic jug to take home to his neighborhood.

A survey submitted to Pakistan's parliament last year suggested nearly 80 percent of water sources in 2,807 villages across 24 districts were contaminated with bacteria or other pollutants, to levels that were unsafe to drink.

Now, "the presence of arsenic in drinking water is becoming a widespread health problem," said Luis Rodríguez-Lado, a chemist with the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain who was not involved in the study. Yet "there is a general lack of information" about which areas in Asia are most at risk.

For Pakistan, Bukhari said, the problem is now urgent. Her department is already working with the U.N. Children's Fund to provide cheap anti-arsenic water filters to poor villagers in the worst-affected areas.

"We should immediately discourage the indiscriminate ground water exploitation," she said, noting that even city-dwellers with municipal water access were digging tube wells "to have a lavish supply of water."

But the country also needs to test countless tube wells and identify which have tapped into arsenic, possibly determining which depths might be safer, she said.

If researchers can find a depth at which "there is no arsenic, we can dig wells that stop before the water is contaminated," Bukhari said.
___
Daigle reported from Bangkok.
___
Follow Kathy Gannon at www.twitter.com/kathygannon and Katy Daigle at www.twitter.com/katydaigle
___
A map of the study's projections for arsenic contamination in Pakistan can be found here , along with other maps on groundwater quality generated by Eawag research.


Rod Stewart to perform remotely on MTV Video Music Awards

In this July 12, 2017 file photo, Rod Stewart performs in Camden, N.J(Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Rod Stewart will perform a reworked version of his hit "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" remotely from Las Vegas at the MTV Video Music Awards, to be held in California.

MTV announced Wednesday that Stewart will perform the 1978 song with pop band DNCE on Sunday. The network said Demi Lovato will also perform remotely from Vegas.

The 2017 VMAs will take place at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Performers include Kendrick Lamar, Ed Sheeran, Pink, Miley Cyrus, the Weeknd, Lorde, Shawn Mendes, Fifth Harmony and host Katy Perry.

On Tuesday, MTV announced an additional award — song of summer. Luis Fonsi's "Despacito" earned a nomination in the late-added category, but the record-breaking video wasn't included in other VMA categories because it hasn't been played on MTV or MTV2.


Today in History - Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Aug. 24, the 236th day of 2017. There are 129 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew smashed into Florida, causing $30 billion in damage; 43 U.S. deaths were blamed on the storm.

On this date:

In A.D. 79, long-dormant Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in volcanic ash; an estimated 20,000 people died.

In 1572, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of French Protestants at the hands of Catholics began in Paris.

In 1814, during the War of 1812, British forces invaded Washington, D.C., setting fire to the Capitol (which was still under construction) and the White House, as well as other public buildings.

In 1912, Congress passed a measure creating the Alaska Territory. Congress approved legislation establishing Parcel Post delivery by the U.S. Post Office Department, slated to begin on January 1, 1913.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart embarked on a 19-hour flight from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, making her the first woman to fly solo, non-stop, from coast to coast.

In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty came into force.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Communist Control Act, outlawing the Communist Party in the United States.

In 1967, a group of demonstrators led by Abbie Hoffman caused a disruption at the New York Stock Exchange by tossing dollar bills onto the trading floor. American industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, 85, died in Honolulu.

In 1970, an explosives-laden van left by anti-war extremists blew up outside the University of Wisconsin's Sterling Hall in Madison, killing 33-year-old researcher Robert Fassnacht.

In 1981, Mark David Chapman was sentenced in New York to 20 years to life in prison for murdering John Lennon. (Chapman remains imprisoned.)

In 1989, Baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti (juh-MAH'-tee) banned Pete Rose from the game for betting on his own team, the Cincinnati Reds.

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union declared that Pluto was no longer a full-fledged planet, demoting it to the status of a "dwarf planet."

Ten years ago: A judge in Inverness, Florida, sentenced John Evander Couey to death for kidnapping 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, raping her and burying her alive. (Couey died of natural causes in 2009.) James Ford Seale, a reputed Ku Klux Klansman, was sentenced to three life terms for his role in the 1964 abduction and murder of two black teenagers in southwestern Mississippi. (Seale died in 2011.) Major wildfires broke out in Greece, burning half a million acres and claiming 65 lives in 11 days.

Five years ago: A suit-clad gunman opened fire outside New York's Empire State Building, killing a former co-worker before being gunned down by police. A Norwegian court found Anders Behring Breivik guilty of terrorism and premeditated murder for twin attacks on July 22, 2011 that killed 77 people; he received a 21-year prison sentence that can be extended as long as he is considered dangerous to society. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency wiped out 14 years of Lance Armstrong's cycling career — including his record seven Tour de France titles — and barred him for life from the sport after concluding he'd used banned substances.

One year ago: A 6.2 magnitude earthquake reduced three central Italian towns to rubble and killed nearly 300 people. Astronaut Jeffrey Williams, commander of the International Space Station, marked a U.S. recording-breaking 521st day in orbit, a number accumulated over four flights (upon his return to earth 13 days later, Williams had logged a grand total of 534 days in space).

Today's Birthdays: Composer-musician Mason Williams is 79. Rhythm-and-blues singer Marshall Thompson (The Chi-Lites) is 75. Rock musician Ken Hensley is 72. Actress Anne Archer is 70. Actor Joe Regalbuto is 68. Actor Kevin Dunn is 62. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is 62. Actor-writer Stephen Fry is 60. Actor Steve Guttenberg is 59. Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. is 57. Actor Jared Harris is 56. Talk show host Craig Kilborn is 55. CBS News correspondent Major Garrett is 55. Rock singer John Bush is 54. Actress Marlee Matlin is 52. Basketball Hall of Famer Reggie Miller is 52. Broadcast journalist David Gregory is 47. Country singer Kristyn Osborn (SHeDaisy) is 47. Movie director Ava DuVernay is 45. Actor-comedian Dave Chappelle is 44. Actor James D'Arcy is 44. Actor Carmine Giovinazzo is 44. Actor Alex O'Loughlin is 41. Actress Beth Riesgraf is 39. Actor Chad Michael Murray is 36. Christian rock musician Jeffrey Gilbert (Kutless) is 34. Singer Mika is 34. Actor Blake Berris is 33.
Actor Rupert Grint ("Harry Potter" films) is 29.

Thought for Today: "Life begins when a person first realizes how soon it will end." — Marcelene Cox, American writer.


Update August 23, 2017

S. Korea says no to US request to discuss renegotiating FTA

South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyung-chong speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

By Youkyung Lee, AP Business Writer

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's top trade negotiator said Tuesday that Seoul will not discuss renegotiation of the free trade agreement with the U.S. without first looking into what is really causing the U.S. trade imbalance.

Speaking after a video conference with U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyung-chong said Seoul proposed a joint study with Washington to evaluate the impact of the 5-year-old bilateral trade deal and the cause of the U.S. trade deficit.

"We did not agree to the unilateral proposal from the U.S. to amend the Korea-U.S. FTA," Kim told reporters in a briefing after a talk with U.S. trade representatives. "We made our position clear that investigation, analysis and evaluation of the impact of the Korea-U.S. FTA must be preceded."

The two sides found they had different views on the impact of the free trade deal and could not reach any agreement during the talks, he added. Kim said Seoul will be waiting for Washington's response to its proposal for the joint study.

The countries' trade officials held their first talks in Seoul, in what Washington hoped would lead to discussing amendment or modification of the trade deal that took effect five years ago under President Barack Obama.

The U.S. trade official said discussions will continue.

"Unfortunately, too many American workers have not benefited from the agreement," Ambassador Lighthizer said in a statement posted on the USTR website. "President Trump is committed to substantial improvements in the Korean agreement that address the trade imbalance and ensure that the deal is fully implemented."

The Trump administration criticized the pact with its ally, saying that the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea had doubled since the deal went into effect. The U.S. trade deficit with South Korea widened from $13.2 billion in 2011 to $27.6 billion last year.

But South Korea said the deal has been beneficial to both countries. The U.S. runs a trade surplus with South Korea in services such as banking and tourism, estimated at $10.7 billion in 2016. South Korea also believes that the FTA is not the cause of the U.S. trade imbalance, and that other, complex factors in the global economy are to blame.

The Trump administration is seeking to renegotiate the trade deal with South Korea as part of its broader efforts to reduce the U.S. trade deficit. It has begun an effort to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.

South Korea is the sixth-largest trading partner for the U.S., while the U.S. is South Korea's second-largest trading partner.


Italian boy credited with helping save brother after quake

Rescuers pull out 7-month boy Pasquale from the rubble of a collapsed building in Casamicciola, on the island of Ischia, near Naples.

By Colleen Barry, Associated Press

MILAN (AP) — An Italian family of five was "reborn" after all three children buried in the rubble of their home by a 4.0-magnitude quake were pulled to safety Tuesday in a painstaking 16-hour rescue operation on the popular Mediterranean resort island of Ischia.

The Toscano family's happy ending brought cheers from the dozens of firefighters who worked through the night to extricate the two boys and their infant brother, trapped alone for hours after their father was rescued and their pregnant mother managed to free herself from their collapsed apartment in the hard-hit town of Casamicciola.

"I don't know how to define it if not a miracle," the boys' grandmother, Erasma De Simone, said after the family was reunited at a hospital. "We were all dead, and we are reborn."

Though relatively minor in magnitude, the quake Monday night killed two people, injured another 39 and displaced some 2,600 people in Casamicciola and the neighboring town of Lacco Ameno on the northern end of the island.

The damage in Ischia focused attention on two recurring themes in quake-prone Italy: seismically outdated old buildings and illegal new construction with shoddy materials. One woman was killed by falling masonry from a church that had suffered damage in a quake centered in Casamicciola in 1883 that killed more than 2,000 people. Another died in the same apartment complex where the family was saved.

Rescuers hailed the courage of the older boys, who spent 14 and 16 hours respectively waiting to be freed, talking with firefighters all the while, eventually receiving water and a flashlight. One official credited the older boy, 11-year-old Ciro, with helping save his 8-year-old brother, Mattias, by pushing him out of harm's way under a bed.

The boys' grandmother described Ciro as shaken by the ordeal. While Mattias was scared, he also "was sorry because he lost the money in his piggy bank, and lost his toys," she told the ANSA news agency.

When the quake struck just before 9 p.m. Monday, the boys' father, Alessandro Toscano, said he was in the kitchen while his wife, Alessia, was in the bathroom and his two older sons in their bedroom.

His wife managed to free herself through the bathroom window, Toscano told RAI state television, while he was rescued soon afterward by firefighters. But the three boys remained trapped when the upper story of the building collapsed.
In their bedroom, 11-year-old Ciro pushing Mattias under the bed.

"The gesture surely saved them both," said Andrea Gentile of the Italian police. "Then with the handle of a broom he knocked against the rubble, making them heard by rescuers."

The baby, 7-month-old Pasquale, was in the kitchen in a playpen, and the first to be rescued around 4 a.m., seven hours after the quake struck. He cried as rescuers passed him to safety, but looked alert in his still-white onesie.

Firefighters said reaching the two older boys was more delicate, requiring them to create a hole in the collapsed ceiling without destabilizing the structure.

Mattias was extricated first, emerging seven hours after his baby brother, covered in cement dust in his underwear as he clung to firefighters. He was quickly strapped onto a stretcher and whisked into an ambulance.

Finally came Ciro, who rescuers said kept the conversation going throughout the ordeal even though one of his legs was immobilized by the rubble. At the hospital emergency room entrance, his parents awaited his arrival, his mother, who is five months pregnant, sitting in a wheel chair alongside his father, whose hand was bandaged from a fracture.
"It was a terrible night. I don't have words to explain it," Alessandro Toscano told RAI television.

Despite their ordeal, hospital officials say the three children were in remarkably good condition. The two older boys were being treated for dehydration and Ciro for a fracture to his right foot. They were expected to be discharged from the hospital Wednesday.

"For three children saved from the rubble, we have witnessed a true miracle. They are miraculously healthy," said Virginia Scafarto, director of the island's Rizzoli hospital.

The quake struck just two days shy of the one-year anniversary of a powerful 6.2-magnitude earthquake that devastated several towns in central Italy, killing more than 250.

The Ischia quake hit the resort island famed for its thermal waters during the height of the tourist season, with its population of 64,000 swelled by another 150,000. Many visitors took refuge in parks, sleeping under blankets in the aftermath while authorities began organizing ferries to bring tourists back to the mainland. By late Tuesday, some 11,000 had left for Naples.

Tourism officials said that the damage was localized to Casamicciola and Lacco Ameno, with much of the island business as usual by Tuesday. According to Ermanno Mennella of the Federablberghi hoteliers association in Ischia, just 10 of the island's 310 hotels were impacted by the quake and only three or four were closed for inspection.

Together with the nearby island of Capri, Ischia is a favorite island getaway for the European jet set and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been known to visit at Easter.

The extent of the damage for a relatively light quake raised questions about the prevalence of illegally built structures, often with shoddy materials, on the island in the seismically active area off Naples and the active volcano Vesuvius.

Fabrizio Pistolesi, the head of Italy's national architecture advisory board, told SKY television that many buildings on the island were built before seismic codes were adopted. He also cited the high incidence of illegal construction on Ischia and generally in the Campagna region that includes both the resort island and Naples.

"We know well that in Campagna, more than 200,000 homes were illegally constructed We are talking about homes constructed in absolute scorn of seismic norms," he told Sky TG24.

Former Naples prosecutor Aldo De Chiara said most of the recently constructed buildings on Ischia were built without necessary permits, and many with poor quality cement.

"We warned about the risk of collapses also in the case of not particularly serious temblors," De Chiara told Corriere della Sera newspaper. "Unfortunately, what we had denounced happened last night."


Attack victims came from around world to celebrate Barcelona

 

A policeman hugs a boy and his family that he helped during the terrorist attack, at a memorial to the victims on Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The victims of last week's attacks in Barcelona and a nearby resort town came from around the world and across generations. The latest to be identified by name Tuesday were a Portuguese grandmother and her granddaughter.

Fifteen people were killed and more than 120 others wounded in Barcelona and the nearby town of Cambrils on Thursday and Friday. The dead and injured represented nearly three dozen countries, places where loved ones are in mourning or experiencing a new kinship with the people of Spain.

Here are some details about the victims:

Pau Perez, 34, Spain

Perez was parking his car in Barcelona when the alleged Barcelona van attack driver attacked and stabbed him while fleeing police after mowing down dozens of people on Las Ramblas.

The attacker then dumped Perez' in the back seat and drove away, later crashing through a police barrier and injuring an officer before ditching the vehicle containing the body in a town outside the Catalan capital.

The confirmation Monday ended days of uncertainty over Perez's exact fate, although it seems police had already told his family and neighbors in his hometown of Vilafranca de Penedes he was dead, without giving the full details during investigations.

Spanish media said Perez was an NGO worker and keen soccer fan.

The town Twitter account announced it deeply lamented his death, declaring three days of mourning.

Julian Cadman, 7, Australia and Britain

The British and Australian governments and Catalan emergency services announced the death of 7-year-old Julian Cadman on Sunday. The boy, a dual citizen of Australia and Britain, had been missing since the attack that seriously injured his mother.

Julian and his mother, Jom Cadman, were in Barcelona for a family wedding and enjoying the sights when a van sped down the Las Ramblas promenade targeting pedestrians. His mother, a 43-year-old from the Philippines who had been living in Australia, was hospitalized.

"He was so energetic, funny and cheeky, always bringing a smile to our faces," the child's family said in a statement released by the Australian department for foreign affairs after his death was announced.

On Friday, Julian's grandfather posted an appeal on Facebook with Julian's photo asking for help finding him. The Australian prime minister asked people to pray for him, and the British prime minister said the government was urgently looking into his situation.

The family statement extended sympathy to others coping with losses and thanked all those who helped search for Julian, saying "Your kindness was incredible during a difficult time."
"We are so blessed to have had him in our lives and will remember his smiles and hold his memory dear to our hearts."

Pepita Codina, 75, Spain

Pepita Codina is being honored with a makeshift memorial in Hipolit de Voldrega, her hometown of 3,000 people near Barcelona.

Mayor Xavier Vilamala tweeted that he was "very sad and distressed" by the news of her death.

Local media reported that Codina's daughter, Elisabet, was injured in the attack, but is currently out of danger at Hospital del Marin Barcelona.

Neighbor Enriqueta Ordeig described Codina as a "very good woman" who moved to the town when her husband retired, according to El Pais newspaper.

Maria de Lurdes Ribeiro, 74, and Maria Correia, 20, Portugal

The granddaughter and grandmother were in Barcelona to celebrate the grandmother's birthday when they were caught up in the horror on Las Ramblas, according to Portuguese media reports.

They had arrived in the city for a week's vacation just a few hours before they were killed, Jose Luis Carneiro, a Lisbon official, told reporters.

The older woman was reported dead Friday, while the younger woman was initially reported as missing before finally being identified Saturday. Those hours left her parents in a painful limbo, Carneiro said.

The parents are "broken-hearted," Carneiro said. "Firstly, because they were caught by surprise by the death of the man's mother and then spent hours not knowing what had happened to their daughter."

They were due to be buried near Lisbon on Wednesday.

Bruno Gulotta, 35, Italy

A father from Legnano in northern Italy is being praised as a hero who protected his children during the Barcelona attack.

One of Gulotta's work colleagues, Pino Bruno, told the Italian news agency ANSA that he saved the life of his two young children — Alessandro, 6, and Aria, 7 months — by throwing himself between them and the van that mowed people down.

Bruno said he spoke to Gulotta's wife, Martina, and she told him her husband had been holding the 6-year-old's hand on the tourist-thronged avenue in Barcelona when "the van appeared suddenly."

"Everyone knelt down, instinctively, as if to protect themselves," Bruno said, adding that Gulotta put himself in front of his children and was fatally struck.

Gulotta was a sales manager for Tom's Hardware Italia, an online publication about technology. "Rest in peace, Bruno, and protect your loved ones from up high," read one tribute on the company's website.

Carmen Lopardo, 80, Italy

Lopardo, apparently the oldest person to die in the attack, was among three Italians killed in Barcelona, according to Italy's foreign ministry.

In a statement, it said Lopardo was killed in the "vile terrorist attack in Barcelona," without providing details.
News reports said Lopardo was an Italian who had immigrated to Argentina in 1950 and was visiting Barcelona.


Silvina Alejandra Pereyra, 40, Argentina and Spain

Argentina's Foreign Ministry says Pereyra, an Argentine-Spanish dual citizen who resided in Barcelona for the last 10 years, is among those who died.

It says in a statement that her death was confirmed through family members living in Bolivia after a cousin identified her body at a morgue in Barcelona.

The Argentine government expressed its deep regret over the pain caused to Pereyra's family and friends and said its diplomatic missions in Barcelona and Madrid are working to assist.


Francisco Lopez Rodriguez, 57, and Javier Martinez, 3, Spain

Francisco Lopez Rodriguez was killed with his 3-year-old grand-nephew, Javier Martinez, while walking along Las Ramblas.

Lopez was accompanied by his wife, Roser — who is recovering from her wounds in a hospital — her niece and the niece's two children, one of them Javier.

"He was a lovely man, kind and charitable" and always telling jokes, said 81-year-old Natalia Moreno Perez from Lopez's native Lanteira, a town of 700 inhabitants outside Granada in southern Spain.

Lopez left the town with his family in the 1960s to seek work and was a metal worker living in Rubi, a migrant town of 75,000 people northwest of Barcelona.

"We are a broken family," niece Raquel Baron Lopez posted on Twitter.

Luca Russo, 25, Italy

One of Italy's three victims in the Barcelona van attack is being mourned as a brilliant young engineer dragged to his death before his girlfriend's eyes.

A determined Luca Russo, 25, already had a job in electronic engineering, no easy feat in Italy, where youth unemployment runs stubbornly high.

"We were investing in him. We wanted to make him grow professionally," the Italian news agency ANSA quoted Stefano Facchinello, one of the partners in the Padua-area company where Russo had worked for a year, as saying.

The girlfriend, Marta Scomazzon, who was hospitalized with a fractured foot and elbow, told an aunt that "we were walking together, then the van came on top of us."


Ana Maria Suarez, 67, Spain

The Spanish royal family sent condolences to Ana Maria Suarez's family via Twitter after she died in the attack in the resort town of Cambrils.

According to local media, Suarez was originally from the city of Zaragoza, and was on vacation with her family. Suarez's husband and one of her sisters were injured and being treated at a hospital.

They had just eaten dinner and were celebrating the husband's 69th birthday, walking in the crowded port area of Cambrils hours after the Barcelona attack, according to El Mundo newspaper.

Suarez is the only fatal victim in the attack in Cambrils, where five attackers wearing fake explosives belts were shot dead by police.


Jared Tucker, 42, United States

California resident Jared Tucker, 42, and his wife were ending their European vacation in Barcelona and on their way to a beach when they decided to stop at a cafe on Las Ramblas.

Shortly after her husband left to use the restroom, chaos broke out, Heidi Nunes-Tucker, 40, told The Associated Press.

She said people were running, screaming and crying, and that she never saw her husband again.

Later, she learned he was among those killed in the truck attack in Barcelona, the only known American among the 13 people who died.

Nunes-Tucker called her husband the love of her life and says she's struggling to make sense of the violence.
She said the pair met at an annual art and wine festival in 2012, spent the night talking and dancing, "and we were pretty much inseparable after that."

"It was an instant connection," she said.

Tucker's father, Daniel Tucker, said the couple had saved for the European vacation to celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary. They also visited Paris and Venice.

Jared Tucker, who worked with his father in a family business remodeling swimming pools, also leaves behind three daughters.

Elke Vanbockrijck, Belgium

Vanbockrijck was at the KFC Heur Tongeren soccer club "nearly every day" ferrying her 10- and 14-year-old boys back and forth to training and matches, team president Arnould Partoens said.

The family was on vacation in Barcelona. The boys and their father, a policeman, were unhurt, he said.

Team vice president Herwig Dessers said coaches and players would stand in silence to remember her over the next few days "and talk to the children about what happened."

A picture of Vanbockrijck now rests on the bar inside the clubhouse.

Ian Moore Wilson, 53, Canada

Ian Moore Wilson's daughter Fiona described him as an adventurous traveler and "much-loved husband, father, brother and grandfather."

The Vancouver police department issued a statement from Fiona, a staff sergeant in the force, saying that Wilson had been killed and his wife, Valerie, had been injured in the attack.

Fiona Wilson and the Vancouver police thanked the emergency workers and others who helped her father in his final moments and got medical assistance for her mother.

"In the midst of this tragedy, my dad would want those around him to focus on the extraordinary acts of human kindness that our family has experienced over the past several days, and that is exactly what we intend to do," she wrote.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said four other Canadians were injured in the extremist attacks.

Ciaran Giles in Madrid; Danica Kirka in London; Barry Hatton and Helena Alves in Lisbon, Portugal; Jocelyn Gecker in Walnut Creek, California; Lorne Cook in Brussels; Nicole Winfield in Rome; Kristen Gelineau in Sydney; Amanda Lee Myers in Los Angeles; and Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this report.


US says some remains of sailors found on USS John McCain

 

Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Scott Swift answers questions during a press conference with the USS John S. McCain and USS America docked in the background at Singapore's Changi naval base on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

By Annabelle Liang, Associated Press

SINGAPORE (AP) — Navy divers searching a flooded compartment of the USS John S. McCain found remains of some of the 10 sailors missing in a collision between the warship and an oil tanker, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander said Tuesday as he promised a full investigation.

Adm. Scott Swift also said at a news conference in Singapore, where the McCain is now docked, that Malaysian officials had found one body, but it had yet to be identified and it was unknown whether it was a crew member.

The collision before dawn on Monday near Singapore tore a gaping hole in the McCain's left rear hull and flooded adjacent compartments including crew berths and machinery and communication rooms. Five sailors were injured.

"The divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today," Swift said, adding that it was "premature to say how many and what the status of recovery of those bodies is."

"We will continue the search and rescue operations until the probability of discovering sailors is exhausted," Swift said.

He would not say where in the destroyer the bodies were found.

It was the second major collision in two months involving the Pacific-based 7th Fleet, and the Navy has ordered a broad investigation into its performance and readiness. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan. There were two lesser-known incidents in the first half of the year. In January, the USS Antietam guided missile cruiser ran aground near Yokosuka base, the home port of the 7th Fleet, and in May another cruiser, the USS Lake Champlain from the Navy's 3rd Fleet, had a minor collision with a South Korean fishing boat.

"While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation," Swift said.

He said the Navy would conduct an investigation "to find out if there is a common cause ... and if so, how do we solve that."

He said he had heard some reports speculating that the Navy could have been a victim of a cyberattack. "We've seen no indications of that as yet, but ... we are not taking any consideration off the table," he said.

Earlier Tuesday, the 7th Fleet said the sea search by aircraft and ships from the U.S., Singapore and Malaysian navies would continue east of Singapore where the McCain and the tanker collided.

Megan Partlow of Ohio, who said her fiance was on board the McCain, told The Associated Press in a Facebook message that they last communicated on Sunday and she was losing hope of seeing him again.

"My last text to him was 'be safe,' which is the same way we end every conversation. I'm just ready for answers," she said. The identities of the missing have not been disclosed but Partlow said her fiance's parents were in touch with the Navy's family assistance center.

April Brandon of Michigan said her son, Ken Smith, 22, is among the missing sailors. Brandon told Detroit-area TV stations that she was visited by two officers Monday at her home.

Navy Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, on Monday ordered a pause in 7th Fleet operations for the next few days to allow commanders to get together with leaders, sailors and command officials and identify any immediate steps that need to be taken to ensure safety.

A broader U.S. Navy review will look at the 7th Fleet's performance, including personnel, navigation capabilities, maintenance, equipment, surface warfare training, munitions, certifications and how sailors move through their careers. Richardson said the review will be conducted with the help of the Navy's office of the inspector general, the safety center and private companies that make equipment used by sailors.

"Make no mistake," Swift said Tuesday, "our sailors on these ships are doing critical work at sea. And for more than 70 years, the U.S. Navy has helped guarantee the security and stability of the western Pacific. ... We owe it to the sailors that man the 7th Fleet and their families to answer the questions that flow from the uncertainty of what happened, how could it happen, and what can be done to prevent such occurrences in the future."

Swift also lauded the crew for righting the listing ship quickly as they tended to the injured. He said sailors set up watertight boundaries and shored up the ship's internal structure, and were able to begin evacuating sailors by helicopter within an hour or two of the collision.

He said it was "quite extraordinary" for the McCain to be "up and running as an operational ship almost immediately after the collision."

The McCain had been heading to Singapore on a routine port visit after conducting a sensitive freedom-of-navigation operation last week by sailing near one of China's man-made islands in the South China Sea.

China, Washington's main rival for influence in the Asia-Pacific, seized on the McCain collision to accuse the Navy of endangering maritime navigation in the region. This year's string of accidents shows the U.S. Navy "is becoming a dangerous obstacle in Asian waters," the official China Daily newspaper said in its online edition.

The McCain and the Alnic MC oil tanker collided about 4.5 nautical miles (8.3 kilometers) from Malaysia's coast at the start of a designated sea lane for ships sailing into the busy Singapore Strait.

There was no immediate explanation for the collision. Singapore, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, is one of the world's busiest ports and a U.S. ally, with its naval base regularly visited by American warships.

The Singapore government said no crew were injured on the Liberian-flagged Alnic, which sustained damage to a compartment at the starboard, or right, side at the front of the ship some 7 meters (23 feet) above its waterline.

The ship had a partial load of fuel oil, according to the Greek owner of the tanker, Stealth Maritime Corp. S.A., but no apparent spill.

Several safety violations were recorded for the oil tanker at its last port inspection in July, one fire safety deficiency and two safety-of-navigation problems. The official database for ports in Asia doesn't go into details and the problems apparently were not serious enough for the tanker to be detained.

AP writers Lolita C. Baldor in Muscat, Oman, Stephen Wright in Bangkok, Deb Riechmann in Washington, Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo contributed to this report.


Today in History - Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017

The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, Aug. 23, the 235th day of 2017. There are 130 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On August 23, 1927, amid worldwide protests, Italian-born anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed in Boston for the murders of two men during a 1920 robbery.

On this date:

In 1305, Scottish rebel leader Sir William Wallace was executed by the English for treason.

In 1775, Britain's King George III proclaimed the American colonies to be in a state of "open and avowed rebellion."

In 1858, "Ten Nights in a Bar-room," a play by Timothy Shay Arthur about the perils of alcohol, opened in New York.

In 1913, Copenhagen's Little Mermaid statue, inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story, was unveiled in the harbor of the Danish capital.

In 1914, Japan declared war against Germany in World War I.

In 1926, silent film star Rudolph Valentino died in New York at age 31.

In 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to a non-aggression treaty, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in Moscow.

In 1947, an audience at the Hollywood Bowl heard President Harry S. Truman's daughter, Margaret, give her first public concert as a singer (she had previously peformed on the radio).

In 1960, Broadway librettist Oscar Hammerstein (HAM'-ur-STYN') II, 65, died in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

In 1973, a bank robbery-turned-hostage-taking began in Stockholm, Sweden; the four hostages ended up empathizing with their captors, a psychological condition now referred to as "Stockholm Syndrome."

In 1982, Lebanon's parliament elected Christian militia leader Bashir Gemayel president. (However, Gemayel was assassinated some three weeks later.)

In 1989, in a case that inflamed racial tensions in New York, Yusuf Hawkins, a 16-year-old black youth, was shot dead after he and his friends were confronted by a group of white youths in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. (Gunman Joey Fama was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison; he will be eligible for parole in 2022.)

Ten years ago: A report by top U.S. spy analysts concluded the Iraqi government was strained by rampant violence, deep sectarian differences among its political parties and stymied leadership. Reality TV star Nicole Richie spent 82 minutes in a Los Angeles County jail to complete a four-day sentence for driving under the influence of drugs.

Five years ago: First lady Michelle Obama consoled relatives of worshippers gunned down at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee. Lance Armstrong chose not to pursue arbitration in the drug case brought against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, setting the stage for his Tour de France titles to be stripped and his name to be all but wiped from the record books of the sport he once ruled.

One year ago: Standing amid piles of waterlogged debris, President Barack Obama promised a sustained national effort to rebuild flood-ravaged southern Louisiana "even after the TV cameras leave" on a visit aimed in part at stemming campaign-season criticism that he was slow to respond to the disaster. Prosecutors charged a Tulsa man with first-degree murder and committing a hate crime in the killing of his Lebanese Christian neighbor — a culmination of what authorities said was the man's violent feud with the family that spanned several years and included a regular barrage of racial insults and personal confrontations. Actor Steven Hill, 94, died in New York City.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Vera Miles is 87. Actress Barbara Eden is 86. Political satirist Mark Russell is 85. Pro Football Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen is 83. Actor Richard Sanders is 77. Ballet dancer Patricia McBride is 75. Former Surgeon General Antonia Novello is 73. Pro Football Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright is 72. Country singer Rex Allen Jr. is 70. Actor David Robb is 70. Singer Linda Thompson is 70. Actress Shelley Long is 68. Actor-singer Rick Springfield is 68. Country singer-musician Woody Paul (Riders in the Sky) is 68. Queen Noor of Jordan is 66. Actor-producer Mark Hudson is 66. Actor Skipp Sudduth is 61. Retired MLB All-Star pitcher Mike Boddicker is 60. Rock musician Dean DeLeo (Army of Anyone; Stone Temple Pilots) is 56. Country musician Ira Dean (Trick Pony) is 48. Actor Jay Mohr is 47. Actor Ray Park is 43. Actor Scott Caan is 41. Country singer Shelly Fairchild is 40. Figure skater Nicole Bobek is 40. Rock singer Julian Casablancas (The Strokes) is 39.

Retired NBA player Kobe Bryant is 39. Actress Joanne Froggatt is 37. Neo-soul musician Andy Wild is 36. Actress Annie Ilonzeh is 34. Dance musician Sky Blu is 31. Actress Kimberly Matula is 29. NBA player Jeremy Lin is 29.

Thought for Today: "The chains which cramp us most are those which weigh on us least." — Anne Sophie Swetchine, Russian-French author (1782-1857).


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Myanmar Buddhists seek tougher action against Rohingya

Will North Korea make missiles over Japan the new normal?

Motorists, gawkers line up to see new bridge in Scotland

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation gives $1M to Harvey relief

Today in History - Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017


UN Security Council 'strongly condemns' North Korea missile test

Former loyalists lose faith in Myanmar's democracy icon

Deputies visit relative of 6 presumed dead in Harvey floods

John Steinbeck's relatives by marriage in copyright dispute

Today in History - Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017


North Korea fires missile over Japan in aggressive test

Activists blame Mexican government for near-loss of porpoise

Scores treated after mystery 'chemical haze' hits UK coast

Europe-Africa summit yields new approach to asylum claims

Today in History - Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017


Divers find remains of all missing from USS McCain collision

Ongoing Myanmar clashes leave 96 dead, including 6 civilians

Police arrest 2nd man in Buckingham Palace terror incident

Palm oil kills orangutans in Indonesia peat swamp

Today in History - Monday, Aug. 28, 2017


Calm returns after 30 die in India riots over guru verdict

Student charged with assaulting 4 at Australian university

US urges Myanmar to avoid reprisals after attacks kills 71

Peru discovers in pre-Incan site tomb of 16 Chinese migrants

Today in History - Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017

Today in History - Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017


South Korean court to rule in Samsung heir bribery case

More than 200 doomed Puerto Rico dogs saved by airlift to US

Tony Abbott was once too drunk for Parliament

18 dead in Brazil boat accident, 2nd fatal sinking this week

Today in History - Friday, Aug. 25, 2017


Swedish journalist's torso found in submarine death mystery

10 dead, dozens missing after boat sinks on Brazil river

Study: Arsenic poisoning a risk for 50M in Pakistan

Rod Stewart to perform remotely on MTV Video Music Awards

Today in History - Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017


S. Korea says no to US request to discuss renegotiating FTA

Italian boy credited with helping save brother after quake

Attack victims came from around world to celebrate Barcelona

US says some remains of sailors found on USS John McCain

Today in History - Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017

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