Update September 21, 2017
Mexico quake rescuers race to free girl, other survivors
Rescue personnel work on the Enrique Rebsamen
primary school, that collapsed after an earthquake, in Mexico City, Sept.
20, 2017. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
By Chritopher Sherman, Peter Orsi, Mark Stevenson, Associated Press
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The wiggling fingers of a young girl trapped in
the rubble of her collapsed school in Mexico City raised hopes among
hundreds of rescuers working furiously Wednesday to try to free her — a
drama that played out at dozens of buildings toppled by the powerful
earthquake that killed at least 230 people.
But it was the rescue operation at the Enrique Rebsamen school, where 25
people including 21 children perished, that was seen as emblematic of
Mexicans' rush to save survivors before time runs out.
Helmeted workers spotted the girl buried in the debris early Wednesday and
shouted to her to move her hand if she could hear. She did, and a rescue dog
was sent inside to confirm she was alive.
Hours later the crews were still laboring to free her, as images of the
rescue effort were broadcast on TV screens nationwide. Workers in neon vests
and helmets used ropes, pry-bars and other tools, frequently calling on the
anxious parents and others gathered around to be silent while they listened
for any other voices from beneath the school.
At one point, the workers lowered a sensitive microphone inside the rubble
to scan for any noise or movement. A rescuer said they thought they had
located someone, but it wasn't clear who.
"It would appear they are continuing to find children," said Carlos Licona,
a burly sledge-hammer wielding volunteer who came to help in any way he
could. Asked if that made him optimistic, he said, "I hope so."
While optimism ran strong, by Wednesday night no living survivors had been
found all day, but four corpses were found in the school, volunteer rescue
worker Hector Mendez said. Mendez said cameras lowered into the rubble
suggested there might be four people still inside, but it wasn't clear if
anyone beside the girl was alive.
It was part of similar efforts at the scenes of dozens of collapsed
buildings, where firefighters, police, soldiers and civilians wore
themselves out hammering, shoveling, pushing and pulling debris aside to try
to reach the living and the dead.
By mid-afternoon, 52 people had been pulled out alive since Tuesday's
magnitude 7.1 quake, Mexico City's Social Development Department said,
adding in a tweet: "We won't stop." Among them were 11 people rescued at the
Enrique Rebsamen school, where three people remained missing, two children
and an adult. Earlier, journalists saw rescuers pull two small bodies from
the rubble, covered in sheets.
More than 24 hours after the collapse, the debris being removed from the
school began to change as crews worked their way inside: from huge chunks of
brick and concrete, to pieces of wood that looked like remnants of desks and
paneling, to a final load that contained a half dozen sparkly hula-hoops.
Even as stunning rescues of people continued, such as a man pulled alive
from the rubble of a partly collapsed apartment building in northern Mexico
City, there was also a rescue of animals Wednesday.
Mexico City police said rescue workers clearing wreckage from a collapsed
medical laboratory in the Roma neighborhood found and removed 40 lab rabbits
and 13 lab rats used by the firm that had occupied the building, now a pile
of beams and rubble.
City authorities also announced that quake victims staying at city shelters
would be allowed to bring their pets with them, and several community groups
have started to collect donations of animal food for affected pets.
A helicopter overflight of some of the worst-hit buildings revealed the
extent of the damage wrought by the quake: three mid-rise apartment
buildings on the same street pancaked and toppled in one Mexico City
neighborhood; dozens of streets in the town of Jojutla, in Morelos state,
where nearly every home was flattened or severely damaged and a ruined
church where 12 people died inside.
The death toll included 100 people killed in Mexico City, 69 in Morelos
state just south of the capital and 43 in Puebla state to the southeast,
where the quake was centered. The rest were in Mexico State, which borders
Mexico City on three sides, Guerrero and Oaxaca states, according to the
official Twitter feed of civil defense agency head Luis Felipe Puente.
President Enrique Pena Nieto declared three days of national mourning even
as authorities made rescuing the trapped and treating the wounded their
priority. "Every minute counts to save lives," Pena Nieto tweeted.
In the town of Jojutla, dozens of buildings collapsed, including the town
hall. One building was rocked off its foundations and part way into a river.
Town residents who had spent Tuesday night on the streets next to homes that
were severely damaged or flattened outright, wrapped in blankets or on
mattresses, walked past shattered buildings and picked through what was left
when daylight came
"It was an ugly and horrible experience. Our house used to be two floors and
it ended up ... a total loss. I thank God that my 83-year-old mother, my
daughter-in-law with her baby, we all escaped with scratches," said a
tearful Maria Elena Vargas, 54, adding that everything they had was in the
"I hope that the government helps us because this block is destroyed, that
they do not just profit from others' pain. ... Now we have to lift ourselves
up, with or without the government," Vargas added.
At a wake for Daniel Novoa, a toddler killed when his home collapsed, family
members bent over a white child-size coffin surrounded by a crucifix and
images of Mexico's patron, the Virgin of Guadalupe. Alongside was a larger
open coffin for the child's aunt, Marta Cruz.
Pena Nieto visited Jojutla and said brigades would be going door-to-door to
make sure homes are safe.
In Atzala in Puebla state, villagers mourned 11 family members who died
inside a church when it crumbled during a baptism for a 2-month-old girl.
People at the wake said the only ones to survive were the baby's father, the
priest and the priest's assistant.
Power was being restored in some Mexico City neighborhoods that had been
left in darkness overnight, and officials reported that the sprawling Metro
system was running at near-normal capacity. Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said
there were 38 collapsed buildings in the capital alone, down from the 44 he
had announced previously.
People rallied to help their neighbors in a huge volunteer effort that
included people from all walks of life in Mexico City, where social classes
seldom mix. Doctors, dentists and lawyers stood alongside construction
workers and street sweepers, handing buckets of debris or chunks of concrete
hand-to-hand down the line.
Even Mexico City's normally raucous motorcycle clubs swung into action,
using motorcades to open lanes for emergency vehicles on avenues crammed
with cars largely immobilized by street closures and malfunctioning
Economist Alfredo Coutino, Latin America director for Moody's Analytics
warned Wednesday of economic disruption to several central states and the
capital in particular.
"Though it is too early for authorities to have an estimate of the damage as
rescue work continues, it is certain that economic activity ... will
continue to be disrupted for some time," Coutino wrote.
Associated Press writer Carlos Rodriguez in Jojutla contributed to this
Myanmar tries to reassure the world over refugee crisis
Myanmar's second Vice President Henry Van Thio
addresses the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, at
the United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
By Matthew Pennington, Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Myanmar tried to reassure the world Wednesday
about its handling of the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh and
said it is committed to resolving sectarian tensions in the strife-hit
The Southeast Asian nation is facing accusations of ethnic cleansing and
"savagery" by its security forces. More than 420,000 Rohingya have fled to
Bangladesh since Aug. 25 when Rohingya insurgent attacks on security forces
prompted a military crackdown and reprisals by majority Buddhists.
Vice President Henry Van Thio spoke to the U.N. General Assembly in the
absence of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar's civilian government who
has been criticized for failing to protect the minority group.
Van Thio echoed Suu Kyi's speech to diplomats in Myanmar on Tuesday, that
"the great majority" of the Muslim population decided to remain in their
villages and that the situation has improved. But he also voiced concern
over reports that the numbers of Muslims crossing into Bangladesh "remain
He said the government is committed to ensuring aid reaches those who need
it without discrimination and implementing recommendations of a commission
on resolving the tensions in Rakhine State led by former U.N. chief Kofi
"Deep mistrust developed over decades has to be slowly chiseled away," Van
The conflict is overshadowing Myanmar's historic shift from five decades of
direct military rule after Suu Kyi's elected government took office last
year. She does not, however, control the military, which retains much of its
power under the country's constitution.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday lamented the "terrible savagery"
of Myanmar's security forces. He warned the violence against the Rohingya
will "sows seeds of hatred" that could consume the region and threaten
"While we welcome Suu Kyi's comments that returning refugees have nothing to
fear, the U.S. renews our call on Burma's security forces to end their
violence immediately and support diplomatic efforts for a long-term
solution," Pence said.
He urged the Security Council, the U.N.'s most powerful body, to take
"strong and swift action" and "to give hope and help to the Rohingya people
in their hour of need." He did not specify what kind of action he was
On Tuesday, Britain announced it had suspended aid to Myanmar's military
until the current situation was resolved.
Some 24 U.S. lawmakers are urging the Trump administration to follow suit
and suspend all U.S. training, which is already heavily restricted.
However, the U.S. announced Wednesday nearly $32 million in humanitarian aid
to help Rohingya refugees. It was the Trump administration's first major
response to the mass exodus that has left Bangladesh struggling to cope.
Iranian president: Trump's UN comments 'ignorant, absurd'
Iranian President Hassan
Rouhani addresses the United Nations General Assembly at U.N.
headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
By Jennifer Peltz,Edith M. Lederer, Associated
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Iran's president warned Wednesday that his
country will "respond decisively" to any violation of the agreement that
reins in its nuclear program and called President Donald Trump's
"ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric" about Iran unfit for the United
In remarks clearly directed at Trump's 8-month-old administration,
Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani told the U.N. General Assembly: "It will
be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue
newcomers to the world of politics."
"The world will have lost a great opportunity, but such unfortunate
behavior will never impede Iran's course of progress and advancement,"
As he spoke to the assembly, other nations began signing the first
treaty to ban nuclear weapons, a pact spurned by nuclear powers.
Fifty states put their names on the nuclear weapons pact by the end of
the day. Guyana, the Vatican and Thailand also have already ratified the
treaty, which would take effect if 50 nations take that step.
The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, approved a resolution supporting
efforts to reform the world body's far-flung peacekeeping operations.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence joined the discussion on a Trump
administration priority, applauding the resolution and saying all
peacekeeping missions should have an exit strategy.
"When a mission succeeds, we must not prolong it. When a mission
underperforms, we should restructure it. And when a mission consistently
fails to fulfill a mandate of this council, we should end it," he said.
While Iran dominated the second day of the assembly's annual ministerial
meeting, plenty of other issues were on the agenda of world leaders.
British Prime Minister Theresa May called for stronger steps to rein in
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's nuclear weapons buildup, and Japan's
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged international unity in pressuring
Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned Israel not to turn
the Middle East's decades-long conflict into a religious one. And
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko renewed calls for a U.N.
peacekeeping mission to his country amid what he describes as "blatant"
violations of its sovereignty by Russia.
Myanmar's Vice President Henry Van Thio, said his government is
committed to long-term solutions to the tensions in Rakhine state, from
which more than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled a military crackdown
to neighboring Bangladesh.
He spoke at the U.N. late Wednesday in the absence of Aung San Suu Kyi,
the leader of Myanmar's civilian government who has been criticized for
failing to protect the minority group.
The crackdown has been described by the U.N. and others — including
Rouhani — as ethnic cleansing. Van Thio said "deep mistrust developed
over decades has to be slowly chiseled away."
Rouhani's speech came a day after Trump, in his own address to the
assembly, called the U.N.-backed Iran nuclear deal "an embarrassment" to
the United States. He also called the Iranian government "a corrupt
dictatorship" and "a murderous regime" that funds terrorists.
Rouhani retorted that "the ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric, filled
with ridiculously baseless allegations, that was uttered before this
august body yesterday" didn't befit an organization established to
promote peace and respect among nations.
In a later tweet, he made clear that the comments were directed at
Trump hinted that his administration, which has accused Tehran of aiding
terrorism in the Middle East, could soon declare Iran out of compliance
with the deal. That could unravel it.
Ministers from the seven parties to the agreement met at U.N.
headquarters late Wednesday and agreed that all sides are fully
implementing the deal, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.
She said the deal's preservation is important at a critical time in the
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iran is in "technical
compliance" with the deal, but he said it's failing to live up to the
expectation that the agreement would remove a "serious threat" to the
Tillerson said it's a political discussion now about whether to remain
in the deal.
Rouhani said his country would not be the first to
breach the nuclear agreement, "but it will respond decisively to its
violation by any party."
He told a news conference later that if the U.S. decides to break the
agreement, "any choice and any option" are open for Iran — but he
dismissed Trump's "baseless accusation" that the nuclear deal may be
providing cover for Iran's eventual construction of nuclear weapons.
"The options that we say we have at our disposal ... will never be going
towards nuclear weapons," Rouhani said. "Iran has never sought nuclear
weapons, will never seek nuclear weapons, is not now seeking nuclear
Rouhani repeatedly invoked moderation as Iran's goal and said its
missiles — which have been strongly criticized by the Trump
administration — "are solely defensive deterrents."
Associated Press writer Alexandra Olson contributed to this report.
Ambitious Boris Johnson rattles May, shakes up Brexit debate
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attends
a meeting during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N.
headquarters.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
By Jill Lawless, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Theresa May must be asking herself: How
do you solve a problem like Boris Johnson?
Britain's undiplomatic chief diplomat has thrown British politics into
turmoil by thrusting himself to the front of the Brexit debate at the worst
possible time for the country's leader.
The insurrection has left friends and foes scrambling to determine his
motives. Is he about to resign, get fired, mount a coup? Is he trying to
push May into adopting his free-market vision of life outside the European
The one certainty is that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is exactly
where he likes to be: at the center of attention.
"Everyone asking, 'What the hell is going on with Boris?' is sort of the end
goal for Boris," Manchester University political science professor Rob Ford
said. "He wants people to be talking about Boris. So mission accomplished."
Johnson is one of Britain's best-known politicians, a Conservative whose
rumpled exterior — affable, flaxen-haired upper-class eccentric — covers a
core of steely ambition.
His latest political move came in a 4,000-word Daily Telegraph article on
Saturday outlining his vision of a "glorious Brexit." It was published days
before the prime minister travels to Florence, Italy on Friday to make a
speech intended to unblock log-jammed divorce talks with the EU.
Johnson's article called for the U.K. to adopt a low-tax, low-regulation
economy outside the EU's single market and customs union. Seemingly written
without consulting May, it was widely seen as an act of insubordination that
would get most ministers fired.
But pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Ken Clarke said that May, weakened after
losing her parliamentary majority in June's snap election, "is not in the
position easily to sack him."
Political scientist Ford said Johnson's actions could be interpreted as a
dare for May to fire him.
"It's almost like he is saying to Theresa May: 'Go ahead, punk, make my
day,'" he said.
The response from May and her allies was noticeably muted.
"Boris is Boris," May said, insisting that "the U.K. government is driven
from the front, and we all have the same destination in our sights."
Johnson, meanwhile, denied planning to quit or maneuvering to oust May.
Cornered — in his jogging clothes — by British reporters in a New York hotel
lobby on Tuesday, he insisted that the government was a harmonious "nest of
That's unlikely. The Cabinet is split between Brexit true believers,
including Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Trade Secretary Liam Fox,
who want a sharp break with the EU, and those such as Treasury chief Philip
Hammond who want to soften the economic impact through a long status-quo
May is trying to keep the warring sides from tearing her government apart.
Johnson's article helps position him as figurehead of the "hard Brexit"
"He is trying to create an alternative base for himself in the Conservative
Party and portray Theresa May as a lame duck — which in essence she is,"
said Victoria Honeyman, a lecturer in politics at the University of Leeds.
Honeyman said becoming prime minister is Johnson's ultimate goal, "though I
think Boris Johnson generally is someone who travels in zigzags, rather than
in a straight line."
His career bears out that description. The 53-year-old has been a journalist
(and was once fired for fabricating a quote), a magazine editor, a member of
Parliament, the mayor of London between 2008 and 2016 and a leading
campaigner to quit the EU during last year's referendum campaign.
When David Cameron resigned as prime minister after the referendum, Johnson
planned to run to replace him. But he was abandoned by a key Conservative
ally and outmaneuvered by May.
She made him foreign secretary, one of the most important posts in
government. But Johnson's remit does not include Brexit, which is consuming
most of the government's time and energy — and getting most of the
In March, Britain triggered a two-year countdown to departure from the
28-nation EU. Since then, negotiations have made little progress on key
issues including the status of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border and the
amount Britain must pay to settle its financial commitments to the bloc.
Increasingly frustrated EU officials insist the talks can't move on to a
future trade deal with Britain until those key divorce terms have been
agreed upon. Some speculate May will make a multi-billion pound offer to the
bloc in her Florence speech to break the stalemate.
That would annoy hard-core euroskeptics, who insist Britain doesn't owe a
penny — a sentiment echoed by Johnson in July, when he said the bloc could
"go whistle" if it made extortionate financial demands.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, who is from Ireland, said Johnson's
statements suggested "that he is completely out of the loop" about the hard
realities of exit negotiations.
"Mr. Johnson is behaving and acting and speaking strangely," Hogan told the
Evening Standard newspaper. "It's clear that his reputation is not good and
he is a diminished figure in the government."
Follow Jill Lawless on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless
Today in History - Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017
Today is Thursday, Sept. 21, the 264th day of 2017. There are 101 days left
in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On September 21, 1897, responding to a letter from 8-year-old Virginia
O'Hanlon, the New York Sun ran its famous editorial by Francis P. Church
that declared, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as
certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they
abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy."
On this date:
In 1792, the French National Convention voted to abolish the monarchy.
In 1925, the Rudolf Friml operetta "The Vagabond King" opened on Broadway.
In 1937, "The Hobbit," by J.R.R. Tolkien, was first published by George
Allen & Unwin, Ltd. of London.
In 1938, a hurricane struck parts of New York and New England, causing
widespread damage and claiming some 700 lives.
In 1948, Milton Berle made his debut as permanent host of "The Texaco Star
Theater" on NBC-TV.
In 1957, Norway's King Haakon VII died in Oslo at age 85. The legal
mystery-drama "Perry Mason," starring Raymond Burr, premiered on CBS-TV.
In 1964, Malta gained independence from Britain.
In 1970, "NFL Monday Night Football" made its debut on ABC-TV as the
Cleveland Browns defeated the visiting New York Jets, 31-21.
In 1977, after weeks of controversy over past business and banking
practices, President Jimmy Carter's embattled budget director, Bert Lance,
In 1987, NFL players called a strike, mainly over the issue of free agency.
(The 24-day walkout prompted football owners to hire replacement players.)
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo crashed into Charleston, South Carolina (the storm
was blamed for 56 deaths in the Caribbean and 29 in the United States).
Twenty-one students in Alton, Texas, died when their school bus, hit by a
soft-drink delivery truck, careened into a water-filled pit.
In 1996, John F. Kennedy Jr. married Carolyn Bessette in a secret ceremony
on Cumberland Island, Georgia. The board of all-male Virginia Military
Institute voted to admit women.
Ten years ago: One student was mortally wounded, another injured, at
Delaware State University. (A suspected gunman was indicted for
second-degree murder, but the case was dismissed by a judge because
prosecutors withheld evidence.) The Rev. Rex Humbard, whose televangelism
ministry once spanned the globe, died in Atlantis, Florida, at age 88. Tony
Award-winning actress Alice Ghostley died in Los Angeles at age 83.
Five years ago: A plane carrying Ann Romney from Omaha, Nebraska, to Los
Angeles made an emergency landing in Denver after smoke filled the cabin;
there were no injuries. A man was bitten multiple times after leaping from a
monorail into a tiger exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. People lined up to buy
Apple's iPhone5 as it went on sale in the United States and several other
One year ago: Outraged Republican and Democratic lawmakers grilled Heather
Bresch, the CEO of pharmaceutical company Mylan, about the significant cost
increase of its life-saving EpiPens; defending her company's business
practices, Bresch told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
she wished the company had "better anticipated the magnitude and
acceleration" of the rising prices for some families.
Today's Birthdays: Author-comedian Fannie Flagg is 76. Producer Jerry
Bruckheimer is 74. Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is 73. Musician Don
Felder is 70. Author Stephen King is 70. Basketball Hall of Famer Artis
Gilmore is 68. Actor-comedian Bill Murray is 67. Hall of Fame jockey Eddie
Delahoussaye is 66. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is 60. Movie
producer-writer Ethan Coen is 60. Actor-comedian Dave Coulier is 58. Actor
David James Elliott is 57. Actress Serena Scott-Thomas is 56. Actress Nancy
Travis is 56. Actor Rob Morrow is 55. Actor Angus Macfadyen is 54. Retired
MLB All-Star Cecil Fielder is 54. Actress Cheryl Hines is 52. Country singer
Faith Hill is 50. Rock musician Tyler Stewart (Barenaked Ladies) is 50.
Country singer Ronna Reeves is 49. Actress-talk show host Ricki Lake is 49.
Rapper Dave (De La Soul) is 49. Actor Rob Benedict is 47. Actor James Lesure
is 46. Actor Alfonso Ribeiro is 46. Actor Luke Wilson is 46. Actor Paulo
Costanzo is 39. Actor Bradford Anderson is 38.
Actress Autumn Reeser is 37. TV personality Nicole Richie is 36. Actress
Maggie Grace is 34. Actor Joseph Mazzello is 34. Actress Ahna O'Reilly is
33. Rapper Wale (WAH'-lay) is 33. Actor Ryan Guzman is 30. Actors Lorenzo
and Nikolas Brino are 19.
Thought for Today: "I found more joy in sorrow / Than you could find in
joy." — Sara Teasdale, American author and poet (1884-1933).
Update September 20, 2017
7.1 magnitude quake kills 139 as buildings crumble in Mexico
By Mark Stevenson, Christopher
Sherman, Peter Orsi, Associated Press
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico
on Tuesday, killing at least 139 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of
dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help
rescue those trapped.
Dozens of buildings tumbled into mounds of rubble or were severely damaged
in densely populated parts of Mexico City and nearby states. Mayor Miguel
Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 places in the capital alone as
high-rises across the city swayed sickeningly.
Hours after the quake, rescue workers were still clawing through the
wreckage of a primary school that partly collapsed in the city's south
looking for any children who might be trapped. Some relatives said they had
received Whatsapp message from two girls inside.
The quake is the deadliest in Mexico since a 1985 quake on the same date
killed thousands. It came less than two weeks after another powerful quake
caused 90 deaths in the country's south.
Luis Felipe Puente, head of the national Civil Defense agency, tweeted
Tuesday night that the confirmed death toll had risen to 139.
His tweet said 64 people died in Morelos state, just south of Mexico City,
though local officials reported only 54. In addition, 36 were killed in the
capital, 29 in Puebla state, nine in the State of Mexico and one in Guerrero
state, he said.
The count did not include one death that officials in the southern state of
Oaxaca reported earlier as quake-related.
The federal government declared a state
of disaster in Mexico City, freeing up emergency funds. President Enrique
Pena Nieto said he had ordered all hospitals to open their doors to the
Mancera, the Mexico City mayor, said 50
to 60 people were rescued alive by citizens and emergency workers in the
capital. Authorities said at least 70 people in the capital had been
hospitalized for injuries.
The federal interior minister, Miguel
Angel Osorio Chong, said authorities had reports of people possibly still
being trapped in collapsed buildings. He said search efforts were slow
because of the fragility of rubble.
"It has to be done very carefully," he
said. And "time is against us."
A woman is
comforted after the earthquake.
(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
At one site, reporters saw onlookers
cheer as a woman was pulled from the rubble. Rescuers immediately called for
silence so they could listen for others who might be trapped.
Mariana Morales, a 26-year-old nutritionist, was one of many who
spontaneously participated in rescue efforts.
She wore a paper face mask and her hands were still dusty from having joined
a rescue brigade to clear rubble from a building that fell in a cloud of
dust before her eyes, about 15 minutes after the quake.
Morales said she was in a taxi when the quake struck, and she got out and
sat on a sidewalk to try to recover from the scare. Then, just a few yards
away, the three-story building fell.
A dust-covered Carlos Mendoza, 30, said that he and other volunteers had
been able to pull two people alive from the ruins of a collapsed apartment
building after three hours of effort.
"We saw this and came to help," he said. "It's ugly, very ugly."
Alma Gonzalez was in her fourth floor apartment in the Roma neighborhood
when the quake pancaked the ground floor of her building, leaving her no way
out — until neighbors set up a ladder on their roof and helped her slide out
a side window.
Gala Dluzhynska was taking a class with 11 other women on the second floor
of a building on trendy Alvaro Obregon street when the quake struck and
window and ceiling panels fell as the building began to tear apart.
She said she fell in the stairs and people began to walk over her, before
someone finally pulled her up.
"There were no stairs anymore. There were rocks," she said.
They reached the bottom only to find it barred. A security guard finally
came and unlocked it.
The quake sent people throughout the city fleeing from homes and offices,
and many people remained in the streets for hours, fearful of returning to
Alarms blared and traffic stopped around the Angel of Independence monument
on the iconic Reforma Avenue.
Electricity and cellphone service was interrupted in many areas and traffic
was snarled as signal lights went dark.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.1 quake hit at 1:14 p.m.
(2:15 p.m. EDT) and was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, about
76 miles (123 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City.
Puebla Gov. Tony Gali tweeted there were damaged buildings in the city of
Cholula, including collapsed church steeples.
Earlier in the day, workplaces across Mexico City held earthquake readiness
drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake, a magnitude 8.0 shake that
killed thousands of people and devastated large parts of the capital.
In that tragedy, too, ordinary citizens played a crucial role in rescue
efforts that overwhelmed officials.
Market stall vendor Edith Lopez, 25, said she was in a taxi a few blocks
away when the quake struck Tuesday. She said she saw glass bursting out of
the windows of some buildings. She was anxiously trying to locate her
children, whom she had left in the care of her disabled mother.
Local media broadcast video of whitecap waves churning the city's normally
placid canals of Xochimilco as boats bobbed up and down.
Mexico City's international airport suspended operations and was checking
facilities for damage.
Much of Mexico City is built on former lakebed, and the soil can amplify the
effects of earthquakes centered hundreds of miles away.
The new quake appeared to be unrelated to the magnitude 8.1 temblor that hit
Sept. 7 off Mexico's southern coast and also was felt strongly in the
U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle noted the epicenters of the
two quakes were 400 miles (650 kilometers) apart and said most aftershocks
are within (60 miles) 100 kilometers.
There have been 19 earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 or larger within 150 miles
(250 kilometers) of Tuesday's quake over the past century, Earle said.
Earth usually has about 15 to 20 earthquakes this size or larger each year,
Initial calculations showed that more than 30 million people would have felt
moderate shaking from Tuesday's quake.
French police evacuate 557 migrants from makeshift camp
police officers evacuate migrants from a makeshift camp in Grand-Synthe. (AP
By Elsine Ganley, Associated
PARIS (AP) — French police encircled a makeshift migrant camp in a
wooded area near Dunkirk on Tuesday, evacuating 557 people, the prefecture
of the Nord region said.
It was the second such operation in two days in northern France, where
asylum-seekers and migrants gather in hopes of making it across the English
Channel to Britain.
Sixty children were among the hundreds of people removed from the camp,
which was located in a clearing in the Grande-Synthe region outside Dunkirk.
Seven of them had been living on their own and were turned over to a youth
association, the prefecture said.
Police detained 16 other people, the prefecture said in a statement without
Migrants have been staying in the Puythouck area since an official camp of
wooden shelters housing some 1,500 migrants burned to the ground in April.
Aid groups and journalists at the scene were not allowed to enter the
clearing during the eight or so hours police were removing people.
Claire Millot, a member of the aid group Salam, which has been bringing food
to the migrants, said at least 400 migrants were staying in the camp before
the clearing operation.
Many are Afghans and Iraqi Kurds, but there are also Iranians, Pakistanis
and Sudanese. Millot said by telephone that with no toilets and only four
water faucets, conditions in the camp were deplorable. But she predicted
that "they'll come back."
"They're living in mud, (with) some people in situations of extreme
fragility, children, elderly," said Eric Etienne, a Dunkirk official. "We
can't leave them in this situation."
Grande-Synthe Mayor Damien Careme has said the region needed another
official shelter to prevent migrants from living in the degrading conditions
of the Puythouck camp.
But Interior Minister Gerard Collomb rejected the opening of a new camp
after meeting with Careme in Paris Monday. In a statement, Collomb said such
a move would feed the hope of getting to Britain, promoted "by smugglers who
must be fought with utmost firmness."
President Emmanuel Macron has said ending the migrant crisis was a priority
and that he wants migrants off France's streets and byways by the end of the
Some 85 Eritrean migrants were evacuated on Monday from a camp in the nearby
town of Norrent-Fontes "under the control of smugglers," a statement by the
prefect of the Pas-de-Calais region said.
A huge makeshift camp in Calais, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of
Dunkirk, was emptied of at least 7,000 migrants in a mass operation in
Norway's massive wealth fund hits $1 trillion in value
photo dated June 8 2006, The Troll, a gas platform run by the Norwegian oil
giant Statoil company, standing above the North Sea, about 70 kilometers off
the coast of Norway.(Marit Hommedal / Scanpix via AP, File)
HELSINKI (AP) — Norway's
sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest of its kind, has hit a milestone
value of $1 trillion, beating all expectations since its creation over 20
The fund, which reached its record value early Tuesday, has been boosted
lately by a rise in stock markets and a weaker U.S. dollar, which increases
the dollar value of its holdings in other currencies.
Norway first deposited oil and gas profits into the fund in May 1996 and CEO
Yngve Slyngstad said nobody at the time had expected it to hit the trillion
dollar mark, calling the growth "stunning."
The fund invests proceeds from the country's oil and gas industry to secure
pensions for future generations in Norway, a country of merely 5.3 million
Because of its sheer size, the fund does not reinvest all its money in
Norway, or it would overheat the economy. So it places it worldwide, with
some 42 percent in North America, 36 percent in Europe and 18 percent in
Of the total, 65 percent is in stocks — including a $7.4 billion stake in
Apple and $5.5 billion in Alphabet. It puts 32 percent in fixed-income like
bonds, and 2.5 percent in unlisted real estate, according to data from the
company that handles the fund, the Norges Bank Investment Management.
While there are bigger investment funds around the world, Norway's is the
biggest sovereign wealth fund, specifically meant to invest the wealth of a
Norwegian lawmakers passed a law in 1990 to establish a government-owned oil
and gas fund. In 1998, its management was transferred from the Norwegian
finance ministry over to the Norges Bank Investment Management, a unit of
the Norwegian central bank.
Czech zoo burns rhino horns, condemns auction in South Africa
kilograms of rhino horns are being burned at the zoo.(AP Photo/Petr David
By Karel Janicek, Associated
DVUR KRALOVE, Czech Republic (AP) — A Czech zoo burned some 33.5
kilograms (74 pounds) of rhino horns with an estimated black market value of
more than $2 million on Tuesday in a protest against a controversial rhino
horn auction in South Africa.
The Dvur Kralove Zoo, 110 kilometers (70 miles) northeast of Prague, is home
to 19 rhinos, the largest group of its kind in Europe. Dozens of visitors
applauded Tuesday's ceremonial burning, which took place under the presence
of heavily armed customs officials.
Earlier this year, the zoo removed the horns from some of their animals as a
precaution to prevent criminals from stealing them for sale after assailants
broke into a wildlife park near Paris in March, killing a rhino and stealing
A kilogram of rhino horn is sold for some $65,000 on the black market with
rhino horns considered a cure in Asia for everything from cancer, colds and
fevers to high blood pressure, hangovers, impotence and other ailments.
Poachers have decimated rhino populations in Africa and elsewhere.
Zoo director Premysl Rabas criticized the South African auction, which took
place online in August. Another auction was planned for Wednesday.
He called "a huge mistake" a claim by the organizer that a legal trade in
rhino horns will undercut poaching that has occurred at record levels in
"We won't stop the killing by legalizing the trade," Rabas said. "It only
means it will spur demand."
A South African court ruling opened the way to a domestic trade in rhino
horn, though South Africa says it remains party to an international ban in
place since 1977.
Richard Leakey, chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service and a renowned
paleoanthropologist and conservationist who was at the Czech zoo Tuesday,
said the burning is "one of the best things that a country can do."
"It sends a very, very clear message to African countries and I hope that
South Africa is listening. Selling rhino horn makes no sense today," he
Countries and zoos around the world have been burning and destroying illegal
wildlife products to send a message that such products cannot be traded and
poaching animals for their horns must stop.
Today in History - Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017
Today is Wednesday, Sept. 20, the 263rd day of 2017. There are 102 days left
in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On September 20, 1967, the Cunard liner RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 was christened
by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in Clydebank, Scotland.
On this date:
In 1519, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew set out from
Spain on five ships to find a western passage to the Spice Islands.
(Magellan was killed enroute, but one of his ships eventually circled the
In 1870, Italian troops took control of the Papal States, leading to the
unification of Italy.
In 1884, the National Equal Rights Party was formed during a convention of
suffragists in San Francisco; the convention nominated Belva Ann Bennett
Lockwood for president.
In 1911, the British liner RMS Olympic collided with the Royal Navy cruiser
HMS Hawke off the Isle of Wight; although seriously damaged, the Olympic was
able to return to Southampton under its own power.
In 1947, former New York City Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia died at age 64.
In 1957, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, 91, died. The police drama "M
Squad," starring Lee Marvin, premiered on NBC-TV.
In 1958, Martin Luther King Jr. was seriously wounded during a book signing
at a New York City department store when he was stabbed in the chest by
Izola Curry. (Curry was later found mentally incompetent; she died at a
Queens, New York, nursing home in 2015 at age 98.)
In 1962, James Meredith, a black student, was blocked from enrolling at the
University of Mississippi by Democratic Gov. Ross R. Barnett. (Meredith was
In 1973, in their so-called "battle of the sexes," tennis star Billie Jean
King defeated Bobby Riggs in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, at the Houston
Astrodome. Singer-songwriter Jim Croce, 30, died in a plane crash near
In 1984, a suicide car bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy annex in north
Beirut, killing at least 14 people, including two Americans and 12 Lebanese.
The family sitcoms "The Cosby Show" and "Who's the Boss?" premiered on NBC
and ABC, respectively.
In 1999, Lawrence Russell Brewer became the second white supremacist to be
convicted in the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas. (Brewer
was executed on September 21, 2011.) Raisa Gorbachev, wife of the last
Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, died at a German hospital after a battle
with leukemia; she was 67.
In 2000, Independent Counsel Robert Ray announced the end of the Whitewater
investigation, saying there was insufficient evidence to warrant charges
against President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton. Former Soviet
cosmonaut Gherman Titov died at age 65.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush declined to criticize Blackwater
USA, a security company in Iraq accused in a shooting that resulted in
civilian deaths, saying investigators needed to determine whether the guards
violated rules governing their operations. Thousands of chanting
demonstrators filled the streets of Jena (JEE'-nuh), Louisiana, in support
of six black teenagers, five of whom were initially charged with attempted
murder in the beating of a white classmate (the charges were later reduced).
Floyd Landis lost his doping case when two of three arbitrators upheld the
results of a test that showed the 2006 Tour de France champion had used
synthetic testosterone to fuel his spectacular comeback victory. (Landis
forfeited his Tour title and was subject to a two-year ban, retroactive to
January 30, 2007.)
Five years ago: On a day when thousands of angry Pakistanis tried to make
their way to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, the embassy aired an ad on
Pakistani TV showing President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton denouncing an anti-Islamic video produced in the United
States. Space shuttle Endeavour, riding atop a Boeing 747, landed at Edwards
Air Force Base in California en route to its eventual retirement home, the
California Science Center in Los Angeles.
One year ago: In their final speeches at the annual gathering of world
leaders, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon railed against leaders who kept
"feeding the war machine" in Syria, while U.S. President Barack Obama said
there was no military solution to the five-year conflict. A black police
officer fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott, a black man, at a Charlotte, North
Carolina, apartment complex, prompting days of civil unrest
(Charlotte-Mecklenburg police later said that the shooting was justified).
Movie director and screenwriter Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential") died in
Los Angeles at age 71.
Today's Birthdays: Actress Sophia Loren is 83. Pro Football Hall of Famer
Jim Taylor is 82. Rock musician Chuck Panozzo is 69. Actor Tony Denison is
68. Hockey Hall of Famer Guy LaFleur is 66. Actress Debbi Morgan is 66. Jazz
musician Peter White is 63. Actress Betsy Brantley is 62. Actor Gary Cole is
61. TV news correspondent Deborah Roberts is 57. Country-rock musician
Joseph Shreve (Flynnville Train) is 56. Rock musician Randy Bradbury
(Pennywise) is 53. Actress Kristen Johnston is 50. Rock singers Gunnar and
Matthew Nelson are 50. Rock musician Ben Shepherd is 49. Actress Enuka Okuma
is 45. Actress-model Moon Bloodgood is 42. Actor Jon Bernthal is 41. Singer
The Dream is 40. Actor Charlie Weber is 39. Rock musician Rick Woolstenhulme
(WOOL'-sten-hyoolm) (Lifehouse) is 38. Actress Crystle Stewart is 36. Rapper
Yung Joc is 35. Actor Aldis Hodge is 31. Actor Malachi (MAL'-ah-ky) Kirby is
Thought for Today: "History must stay open, it is all humanity." — William
Carlos Williams, American author and poet (1883-1963).
Update September 19, 2017
Rohingya Muslims being wiped off Myanmar's map
Sept. 14, 2017 file photo, a Rohingya man carries two children to shore in
Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, after they arrived on a boat from Myanmar.(AP
Photo/Dar Yasin, File)
By Robin McDowell, Associated
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — For generations, Rohingya Muslims have called
Myanmar home. Now, in what appears to be a systematic purge, they are, quite
literally, being wiped off the map.
After a series of attacks by Muslim militants last month, security forces
and allied mobs retaliated by burning down thousands of homes in the
enclaves of the predominantly Buddhist nation where the Rohingya live.
That has sent some 417,000 people fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh,
according to U.N. estimates. There they have joined tens of thousands of
others who have fled over the past year.
And they are still leaving, piling into wooden boats that take them to
sprawling, monsoon-drenched refugee camps in Bangladesh. Their plight has
been decried as ethnic cleansing by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres,
and few believe they will ever be welcomed back to Myanmar.
"This is the worst crisis in Rohingya history," said Chris Lewa, founder of
the Arakan Project, which works to improve conditions for the ethnic
minority, citing the monumental size and speed of the exodus. "Security
forces have been burning villages one by one, in a very systematic way. And
it's still ongoing."
Using a network of monitors, Lewa and her agency are meticulously
documenting tracts of villages that have been partially or completely burned
down in three townships in northern Rakhine state, where the vast majority
of Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya once lived. It's a painstaking task
because there are hundreds of them, and information is almost impossible to
verify because the army has blocked access to the area. Satellite imagery
released by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, limited at times
because of heavy cloud coverage, shows massive swaths of scorched landscape.
The Arakan Project has found that almost every tract of villages in Maungdaw
township suffered some burning, and that all of Maungdaw has been almost
completely abandoned by Rohingya.
Of the 21 Rohingya villages in Rathedaung, to the north, only five were not
targeted. Three camps for Rohingya who were displaced in communal riots five
years ago also were torched.
Buthidaung, to the east, so far has been largely spared. It is the only
township where security operations appear limited to areas where attacks by
Rohingya militants, which triggered the ongoing crackdown, occurred.
The Rohingya have had a long and troubled history in Myanmar, where many in
the country's 60 million people look on them with disdain.
Though members of the ethnic minority first arrived generations ago, they
were stripped of their citizenship in 1982, denying them almost all rights
and rendering them stateless. They cannot travel freely, practice their
religion, or work as teachers or doctors, and they have little access to
medical care, food or education.
The U.N. has labeled the Rohingya one of the world's most persecuted
Still, if it weren't for their safety, many would rather live in Myanmar
than be forced to another country that doesn't want them.
"Now we can't even buy plastic to make a shelter," said 32-year-old Kefayet
Ullah of the camp in Bangladesh where he and his family are struggling to
get from one day to the next.
In Rakhine, they had land for farming and a small shop. Now they have
"Our heart is crying for our home," he said, tears streaming down his face.
"Even the father of my grandfather was born in Myanmar."
This is not the first time the Rohingya have fled en masse.
Hundreds of thousands left in 1978 and again in the early 1990s, fleeing
military and government oppression, though policies were later put in place
that allowed many to return. Communal violence in 2012, as the country was
transitioning from a half-century of dictatorship to democracy, sent another
100,000 fleeing by boat. Some 120,000 remain trapped in camps under
apartheid-like conditions outside Rakhine's capital, Sittwe.
But no exodus has been as massive and swift as the one taking place now.
The military crackdown came in retaliation for a series of coordinated
attacks by Rohingya militants led by Attaullah Abu Ammar Jununi, who was
born in Pakistan and raised in Saudi Arabia.
Last October, the militants struck police posts, killing several officers
and triggering a brutal military response that sent 87,000 Rohingya fleeing.
Then on Aug. 25, a day after a state-appointed commission of inquiry headed
by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan released a report about the earlier
bloodshed, the militants struck again.
This time they attacked more than 30 police and army posts.
It was the excuse security forces were looking for. They hit back and hard.
Together with Buddhist mobs, they burned down villages, killed, looted and
"The military crackdown resembles a cynical ploy to forcibly transfer large
numbers of people without possibility of return," Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the
U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said earlier this month in Geneva,
calling it a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."
It could be months before the extent of the devastation is clear because the
army has blocked access to the affected areas. Yanghee Lee, the U.N. Special
Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, said at least 1,000
civilians were killed. The government claims more than 400 died, the vast
majority Rohingya militants. They put the number of civilians killed at 30.
The Myanmar government says 176 of Northern Rakhine's 471 villages have been
abandoned, but it has provided few details and no names.
Whether it's the end game for the Rohingya in Myanmar remains to be seen,
said Richard Horsey, a political analyst in Yangon. It depends in part on
whether arrangements will be made by Bangladesh and Myanmar for their
eventual return and the extent of the destruction.
"We are still waiting for a full picture of how many villages are
depopulated versus how many were destroyed," he said.
Associated Press writer Muneeza Naqvi contributed to this report from
World Wildlife Fund sues over Greece oil spill from tanker
A man takes
a shower on a beach polluted by an oil spillage in Glyfada, suburb of
Athens, on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The World
Wildlife Fund filed a lawsuit Monday over extensive pollution to the
coastline outside Athens following the sinking of a tanker near Greece's
The environmental group's Greek branch filed the lawsuit in the port city of
Piraeus against "anyone found responsible," a common practice when a party
that could be held legally accountable has not been identified formally.
The Agia Zoni II tanker sank Sept. 10
while anchored in calm seas and carrying 2,200 tons of fuel oil and 370 tons
of marine gas oil. The ship's cargo spilled into waters where dolphins,
turtles, seals and a variety of fish and sea birds feed and live. Oil slicks
have extended from the island of Salamina, near where the tanker went down,
to the entire length of the Athens coast.
The World Wildlife Fund said it considered the case to be "an environmental
crime deserving exemplary punishment."
The Greek government has faced criticism for what many observers said was a
slow, inadequate response that allowed leaking oil to spread along the
greater Athens area's coastline. The tanker sank very near Piraeus, the
country's largest and best-equipped port.
The government has rejected the criticism, insisting it did everything
possible to contain and clean up the slick.
"The effort to tackle the pollution is
a difficult affair that requires the immediate mobilization of all the
responsible bodies," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told his Cabinet
ministers in televised comments Monday. "Already, all available
counter-pollution means have been mobilized and great efforts are being
Demetres Karavellas, chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund's Greece
office, said it was essential to identify where responsibility lies.
"Through a thorough analysis of the causes, we will emerge better prepared
to avert or control similar accidents in the future," Karavellas said.
De Niro: Help rebuild Barbuda paradise destroyed by Irma
De Niro, right, address a high-level meeting on Hurricane Irma at the United
Nations headquarters, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
By Edith M.Lederer, Associated
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Two-time Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro
came to the United Nations on Monday to appeal to all countries and
organizations to help rebuild the devastated Caribbean island of Barbuda and
ensure that "paradise is not lost."
De Niro spoke at a hastily called meeting on Hurricane Irma, the most
powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane on record. The meeting of top U.N.
officials and government leaders from several hard-hit Caribbean countries
came ahead of the annual global gathering of the world's leaders at the U.N.
General Assembly which opens Tuesday.
Irma wreaked havoc in the Caribbean, including damaging or destroying an
estimated 90 percent of the structures on the small island of Barbuda, which
is home to about 1,400 people and the site of a resort co-owned by the
De Niro recalled Barbuda as an "unspoiled beauty, a paradise found" on his
first visit years ago. Now, he said, "we have a humanitarian crisis, an
entire island destroyed."
"We must act together to help the most vulnerable," De Niro said. "The
recovery process will be a long, hard road. Barbudans must be a part of it,
their homes repaired stronger, rebuilt stronger, new homes stronger. The
immediate needs — power, water, food, medical care, animals sheltered — must
De Niro and James Packer, son of the late Australian media mogul Kerry
Packer, bought the K Club Resort last year and renamed it the Paradise Found
De Niro spoke of all the "warm and friendly" people he has gotten to know on
Barbuda who were "looking forward to a new resort and jobs and future for
them and their children." He did not say how the hurricane affected the
The governor general of Antigua and Barbuda, Rodney Williams, told the
meeting that when Irma thundered through, "immediately Barbuda was rendered
"Its ferocity forever changed the landscape of Barbuda, and as the sun rose
the next day the destruction was horrific," he said.
He noted that the entire population has been moved to nearby Antigua. "For
the first time in over 300 years, there is today not a single human being
living on Barbuda."
Williams said the preliminary estimate for rebuilding Barbuda is $300
million, which represents more than 20 percent of the country's GDP.
"Barbuda is not a lost cause," Williams said. "We can re-establish the
island, better and more secure as a productive tourism center and as a safe
homeland with which its inhabitants are desperate to reunite."
But he said Antigua can't rebuild Barbuda alone and he echoed De Niro in
urging governments, international financial institutions and development
agencies "to help us in this virtuous and vital cause."
Andrea Bocelli prays at Jordan River site of Jesus' baptism
tenor Andrea Bocelli, 58, a Catholic, makes the sign of the cross at the
edge of the Jordan River.
By Karin Laub, Associated Press
AL-MAGHTAS, Jordan (AP) — Italian star tenor Andrea Bocelli made a
pilgrimage to the traditional site of Jesus' baptism Monday, praying for
peace as he stood on the edge of the River Jordan.
Bocelli, 58, who is blind, was guided by a priest who scooped up river water
and poured it over the singer's hands. The artist, a Roman Catholic, made a
sign of the cross and the priest recited the Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayer.
The spot represents the "roots of my faith," Bocelli told The Associated
Press. "For this reason, it is a very special place. I am very happy to be
here. I prayed for peace in the world."
Bocelli performed later Monday at a Roman amphitheater in Jordan's northern
city of Jerash. He sang popular arias as well as pop music standards.
Bocelli wrapped up his performance with his hit "It's Time To Say Good-bye,"
wearing a red-and-white checkered scarf, a national symbol of Jordan, draped
over his shoulders.
Jordan hopes headliners like Bocelli will help revive a tourism industry
that has been flagging in recent years amid regional turmoil. The kingdom
portrays itself as an oasis of stability.
Tourism Minister Lina Annab earlier told the AP that the baptism site is as
important to Jordan tourism as the ancient city of Petra.
"It is very nice to see devout people, especially of the stature of a great
artist like Andrea Bocelli, to be coming to this site, and I think it brings
a very nice vibe to the place," she said.
Annab said the spot is "full of harmony, full of peace, full of
spirituality." Having someone like Bocelli visit "only adds to the beauty of
it," she said.
Today in History -Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017
Today is Tuesday, Sept. 19, the 262nd day of 2017. There are 103 days left
in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On September 19, 1777, the first Battle of Saratoga was fought during the
Revolutionary War; although British forces succeeded in driving out the
American troops, the Americans prevailed in a second battle the following
On this date:
In 1796, President George Washington's farewell address was published. In
it, America's first chief executive advised, "Observe good faith and justice
toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all."
In 1881, the 20th president of the United States, James A. Garfield, died 2ฝ
months after being shot by Charles Guiteau; Chester Alan Arthur became
In 1915, vaudeville performer W.C. Fields made his movie debut as "Pool
Sharks," a one-reel silent comedy, was released.
In 1934, Bruno Hauptmann was arrested in New York and charged with the
kidnap-murder of Charles A. Lindbergh Jr.
In 1945, Nazi radio propagandist William Joyce, known as "Lord Haw-Haw," was
convicted of treason and sentenced to death by a British court.
In 1957, the United States conducted its first contained underground nuclear
test, code-named "Rainier," in the Nevada desert.
In 1959, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, in Los Angeles as part of his U.S.
tour, reacted angrily upon being told that, for security reasons, he
wouldn't get to visit Disneyland.
In 1960, Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in New York to visit the United Nations,
angrily checked out of the Shelburne Hotel in a dispute with the management;
Castro ended up staying at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem.
In 1970, the "Mary Tyler Moore" show debuted on CBS-TV.
In 1982, the smiley emoticon was invented by Carnegie Mellon University
professor Scott E. Fahlman, who suggested punctuating humorously intended
computer messages with a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis as a
horizontal "smiley face." :-)
In 1985, the Mexico City area was struck by a devastating earthquake that
killed at least 9,500 people.
In 1997, in his first public comments since the death of Princess Diana,
Prince Charles told the British people he would always feel the loss of his
former wife, and thanked them for their support. Six people were killed when
an express passenger train and a freight train collided in west London. The
crime drama "L.A. Confidential" was released by Warner Bros.
Ten years ago: The Senate blocked legislation that would have regulated the
amount of time troops spent in combat, a blow for Democrats struggling to
challenge President George W. Bush's Iraq policies. A powerful bomb killed
anti-Syria lawmaker Antoine Ghanem and six others in Beirut, Lebanon.
Five years ago: Members of Congress presented the Congressional Gold Medal
to Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (ahng sahn soo chee) in a
ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. The Justice Department's internal watchdog
found fault with the agency's handling of a gun-trafficking probe in Arizona
that resulted in hundreds of weapons turning up at crime scenes in the U.S.
and Mexico; the inspector general's report referred more than a dozen people
for possible disciplinary action for their roles in Operation Fast and
Furious. The Windseeker ride at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park,
California, broke down, leaving about 20 riders dangling 300 feet over the
amusement park for nearly four hours. Fred Couples was elected into the
World Golf Hall of Fame.
One year ago: President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider
al-Abadi (HY'-dahr ahl ah-BAH'-dee), meeting on the sidelines of a United
Nations summit, put the Islamic State group on notice that they planned to
recapture the city of Mosul within months. World leaders meeting at the
United Nations approved a declaration aimed at providing a more coordinated
and humane response to the refugee crisis that was straining resources and
stoking divisions around the world. Angelina Jolie Pitt filed for divorce
from Brad Pitt, citing irreconcilable differences.
Today's Birthdays: Author Roger Angell is 97. Host James Lipton (TV: "Inside
the Actors Studio") is 91. Actress Rosemary Harris is 90. Former Defense
Secretary Harold Brown is 90. Actor David McCallum is 84. Singer-songwriter
Paul Williams is 77. Singer Bill Medley is 77. Singer Sylvia Tyson (Ian and
Sylvia) is 77. R&B singer Freda Payne is 75. Golfer Jane Blalock is 72.
Singer David Bromberg is 72. Actor Randolph Mantooth is 72. Rock
singer-musician Lol Creme (10cc) is 70. Former NFL running back Larry Brown
is 70. Actor Jeremy Irons is 69. Actress Twiggy Lawson is 68. TV personality
Joan Lunden is 67. Singer-producer Daniel Lanois (lan-WAH') is 66. Actor
Scott Colomby is 65.
Musician-producer Nile Rodgers is 65. College Football Hall of Famer and
former NFL player Reggie Williams is 63. Singer-actor Rex Smith is 62. Rock
singer Lita Ford is 59. Actor Kevin Hooks is 59. Actress Carolyn McCormick
is 58. Celebrity chef Mario Batali is 57. Actress-comedian Cheri Oteri is
55. Country singer Jeff Bates is 54.
Country singer Trisha Yearwood is 53. News anchor Soledad O'Brien is 51.
Rhythm-and-blues singer Espraronza Griffin (Society of Soul) is 48.
Celebrity chef Michael Symon is 48. Actress Sanaa Lathan (suh-NAH'
LAY'-thun) is 46. Actress Stephanie J. Block is 45. Rock singer A. Jay
Popoff (Lit) is 44. "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon is 43. TV personality
Carter Oosterhouse is 41. Actress-TV host Alison Sweeney is 41. Rock
musician Ryan Dusick is 40. Folk-rock singers-musicians Sara and Tegan
(TEE'-gan) Quin are 37. Actor Columbus Short is 35. Rapper Eamon is 34.
Christian rock musician JD Frazier is 34. Actor Kevin Zegers is 33. Actress
Danielle Panabaker is 30.
Thought for Today: "If you are losing your leisure, look out; you may be
losing your soul." — Logan Pearsall Smith, Anglo-American author
Update September 18, 2017
UK lowers terror threat level as subway bomb probe advances
By Gregory Katz, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — British police made progress Sunday in their frantic
pursuit of suspects and evidence connected to the bomb that partially
exploded on a packed London subway, leading counter-terrorism officials to
lower the country's threat level because they no longer considered a fresh
attack to be imminent.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the downgraded terror threat level hours
after London police said a second suspect was in custody and a second
property was being searched in connection with Friday's attack that injured
Rudd cautioned that the investigation was ongoing and that Britain still
faced a substantial threat even though the terror level had been reset to
"severe" from "critical."
"Severe still means that an attack is highly likely, so I would urge
everybody to be vigilant but not alarmed," she said.
The advancing investigation was welcome news for London commuters who had
anticipated heading to work Monday morning while suspects remained at large
and police were racing to round them up before they could hit the city
Mark Rowley, who heads the police counter-terrorism operation, said the
traveling public still would see an increased police and military presence
in the coming days.
"For practical and precautionary reasons, we made the decision that the
increased resources will continue for the beginning of this week," Rowley
said. "So the public will still see that high level of policing presence;
some armed, some unarmed."
He said two properties were being searched and that police had "much more to
The fact that a second person — a 21-year-old man — was arrested under the
Terrorism Act offered the clearest proof yet that police and security
services believe the subway bombing was not just the work of one person.
The first suspect, an 18-year-old man, was arrested early Saturday in the
departure area of the port of Dover, where ferries leave for France on a
regular basis. The second was arrested in Hounslow in west London shortly
before midnight Saturday.
Both were questioned Sunday at a south London police station. They have not
been charged or identified.
The subway bomb caused limited casualties because it failed to completely
explode. Officials say 30 people were injured, including some hurt in the
panic that ensued, and all but one have been released from the hospital.
Most of the injured suffered burns.
The two searches were taking place at a suburban home in Sunbury, southwest
of London, and in Stanwell, another suburb close to London Heathrow Airport.
The first search, linked to the first subject, started in Sunbury Saturday
afternoon at a house that belongs to an elderly couple who have for years
taken in foster children, including refugees from conflict zones in Syria
The pair — Ronald Jones, 88, and his wife, Penelope Jones, 71 — have been
honored by Queen Elizabeth II for their work with children in need of a
A friend, Alison Griffiths, said the Joneses are "great pillars of the
community" who have taken in several hundred children in the last 40 years.
Neighbors said two young men had been staying with them recently.
The second search started Sunday afternoon and was linked to the second
The Islamic State extremist group has said Friday's subway attack was
carried out by one of its affiliated units.
Britain has endured four other attacks this year, which have killed a total
of 36 people. The other attacks in London — near Parliament, on London
Bridge and near a mosque in Finsbury Park in north London — used vehicles
and knives to kill and wound.
The official terrorist threat level is set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis
Center, which consists of senior police and intelligence figures. The level
has been set at "severe" for most of the past year, but was briefly raised
to "critical" on Friday and after the bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in
Manchester in May.
Acid attack on 4 US students in France not seen as terror act
taken from video shows passengers inside Marseille-Saint-Charles railway
station in Marseille, France on Sunday Sept. 17, 2017.(AP Photo)
BY Philippe Sotto, Associated
PARIS (AP) — Four American college students were attacked with acid
Sunday at a train station in France, but French authorities so far do not
think extremist views motivated the 41-year-old woman who was arrested as
the alleged assailant, the local prosecutor's office and the students'
Boston College, a private Jesuit university in Massachusetts, said in a
statement Sunday that the four female students were treated at a hospital
for burns after they were sprayed in the face with acid in the city of
Marseille. The statement said the four all were juniors studying abroad,
three of them at the college's Paris program.
"It appears that the students are fine, considering the circumstances,
though they may require additional treatment for burns," Nick Gozik, who
directs Boston College's Office of International Programs. "We have been in
contact with the students and their parents and remain in touch with French
officials and the U.S. Embassy regarding the incident."
Police in France described the suspect as "disturbed" and said the attack
was not thought at this point to be terror-related, according the
The Paris prosecutor's office said earlier Sunday that its counter-terrorism
division had decided for the time being not to assume jurisdiction for
investigating the attack. The prosecutor's office in the capital, which has
responsibility for all terror-related cases in France, did not explain the
reasoning behind the decision.
A spokeswoman for the Marseille prosecutor's office told The Associated
Press in a telephone call that the suspect did not make any extremist
threats or declarations during the late morning attack at the city's Saint
Charles train station. She said there were no obvious indications that the
woman's actions were terror-related.
The spokeswoman spoke on condition of anonymity, per the custom of the
French judicial system. She said all four of the victims were in their 20s
and treated at a hospital, two of them for shock. The suspect was taken into
Boston College identified the students as Courtney Siverling, Charlotte
Kaufman, Michelle Krug and Kelsey Kosten.
The Marseille fire department was alerted just after 11 a.m. and dispatched
four vehicles and 14 firefighters to the train station, a department
Two of the Americans were "slightly injured" with acid but did not require
emergency medical treatment from medics at the scene, the spokeswoman said.
She requested anonymity in keeping with fire department protocol.
A person with knowledge of the investigation said the suspect had a history
of mental health problems but no apparent past links to extremism. The
person was not authorized to be publicly named speaking about the
Regional newspaper La Provence said the assailant remained at the site of
the attack without trying to flee.
France has seen scattered attacks by unstable individuals as well as
extremist violence in recent years, including in Marseille, a port city in
southern France that is closer to Barcelona than Paris.
A driver deliberately rammed into two bus stops in Marseille last month,
killing a woman, but officials said it wasn't terror-related.
In April, French police said they thwarted an imminent "terror attack" and
arrested two suspected radicals in Marseille just days before the first
round of France's presidential election. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins
told reporters the two suspects "were getting ready to carry out an
imminent, violent action." In January 2016, a 15-year-old Turkish Kurd was
arrested after attacking a Jewish teacher on a Marseille street. He told
police he acted in the name of the Islamic State group.
Angela Charlton in Paris and Crystal Hill in Boston contributed to the
Angelina Jolie condemns Myanmar violence
Muslim, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, walks towards the
nearest refugee camps carrying his belongings at Teknaf, Bangladesh,
Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP)
Hollywood star Angelina Jolie has condemned the violence against Rohingya
Muslims in Myanmar and called on the country's government and its leader,
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, to no longer remain silent.
Jolie on Sunday told weekly Welt am Sonntag: "It's absolutely clear that the
violence by the army needs to stop and that the return of the refugees has
to be permitted — and that the Rohingya should be given civil rights."
Jolie added: "We all wish that Aung San Suu Kyi will in this situation be
the voice of human rights."
Suu Kyi has been harshly criticized for not condemning the violence.
Rohingya have faced decades of persecution by the majority Buddhist
population in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship. The current crisis
that has led more than 400,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh in the past
Hard to spot: criminals find new ways to smuggle rhino horns
Tuesday Nov. 15, 2011 file photo, customs officers stand guard besides the
smuggled ivory bracelets at the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department in
Hong Kong, inside a container shipped to Hong Kong from Cape Town, South
Africa. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
Torchia, Associated Press
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — International traffickers have tried many ways to
smuggle African rhino horns to Asia, concealing them inside wooden Buddha
statues, stashing horn pieces in lobster heads kept in a refrigerated
container and disguising horn portions as the bases of painted statues.
Now, conservationists say, some criminal groups are processing rhino horns
into powder and trinkets in South Africa before export, a trend that could
reflect changing consumer tastes and make it harder for law enforcement to
intercept the illegal cargo.
The development highlights the difficulty of countering criminal syndicates,
some of which include Chinese nationals, which show versatility in the face
of periodic anti-poaching successes by security officials, who have reported
confiscations of intact rhino horns at the main international airport in
Johannesburg in past months. South Africa, which has about 80 percent of the
continent's rhinos, has experienced record levels of poaching in the past
Recent investigations by South African police discovered small, home-based
workshops where rhino horns were cut into small pieces, beads and bracelets,
or packaged as powder, TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, said in
an analysis released Monday. The development will test overstretched law
enforcement agencies if traffickers expand such operations, and growing
evidence that swindlers are making fake rhino horn products out of cow horns
adds to the challenge, the report said.
"If someone walks through an airport wearing a necklace made of rhino horn,
who's going to stop them?" said Julian Rademeyer, who co-wrote the report
and is the author of "Killing for Profit," a book about the illegal rhino
Rademeyer said he had been aware of the increasing phenomenon of locally
manufactured rhino horn products destined for export since last year.
Similarly, elephant ivory products have also been produced in Africa before
shipment to illegal markets elsewhere.
The TRAFFIC report cites a June case in which police raided a house east of
Johannesburg and found a workshop containing large rhino horn beads, some of
them polished, and horn pieces cut into cylindrical shapes. Two Chinese
nationals and a Thai woman were arrested. In a 2016 case, the report said,
police conducting a raid in a Johannesburg suburb with a large Chinese
community seized a bag of rhino horn powder, a large number of ivory bangles
and carvings, pangolin scales and other illegal items. Two suspects were
Vietnam and China have the main illegal markets for rhino horn, which is
viewed by consumers as a treatment for cancer, hangovers and other ailments,
even though it is made from the same substance has human fingernails and
there is no evidence that it has medicinal value. Wealthy consumers perceive
a horn as a status symbol and there is also a growing market for rhino horn
jewelry and other trinkets of the kind being produced in South Africa before
A researcher in South Africa who was not involved in the TRAFFIC study said
the local manufacture of rhino horn products was a "fairly new" development
because horn processing usually occurred in Asia.
"This obviously creates a different problem for us to detect it and to stop
the trade," said Melville Saayman, a professor in tourism management and
economics at South Africa's North-West University who led a survey of rhino
horn consumers in Vietnam.
"A large number of people prefer the powder, but there are those who use it
for lucky charms. So they would like a piece of the horn," Saayman said. He
added that Asian distributors and sellers traditionally prefer to receive
intact horns from Africa because then they can chop them into whatever form
to meet consumer needs.
TRAFFIC's China team have noted rhino horn beads and bracelets for sale on
the internet, indicating that rhino horn is "morphing into a luxury product
trade" in addition to its use in traditional medicine, said Tom Milliken, a
rhino expert at the wildlife trade monitoring network.
"Also, no one along the trade chain from Africa to Asia is really looking
for rhino horn products, the law enforcement focus is completely on horns or
pieces of horns," Milliken said. "Thus, the production in Africa probably
achieves a dual purpose: It's cheaper to produce the products and the
products are more likely than horns to be smuggled with impunity."
Follow Christopher Torchia on Twitter at www.twitter.com/torchiachris
Today in History - Monday, Sept. 18, 2017
Today is Monday, Sept. 18, the 261st day of 2017. There are 104 days left in
Today's Highlight in History:
On September 18, 1947, the National Security Act, which created a National
Military Establishment and the position of Secretary of Defense, went into
On this date:
In A.D. 14, the Roman Senate officially confirmed Tiberius as the second
emperor of the Roman Empire, succeeding the late Augustus.
In 1793, President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S.
In 1810, Chile made its initial declaration of independence from Spain with
the forming of a national junta.
In 1927, the Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System (later CBS) made its
on-air debut with a basic network of 16 radio stations.
In 1931, an explosion in the Chinese city of Mukden damaged a section of
Japanese-owned railway track; Japan, blaming Chinese nationalists, invaded
Manchuria the next day.
In 1959, during his U.S. tour, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visited Wall
Street, the Empire State Building and the grave of President Franklin D.
Roosevelt; in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Khrushchev called on
all countries to disarm.
In 1961, United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold (dahg
HAWM'-ahr-shoold) was killed in a plane crash in northern Rhodesia.
In 1970, rock star Jimi Hendrix died in London at age 27.
In 1975, newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst was captured by the FBI in San
Francisco, 19 months after being kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation
In 1981, a museum honoring former President Gerald R. Ford was dedicated in
Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In 1987, the psychological thriller "Fatal Attraction," starring Michael
Douglas and Glenn Close, was released by Paramount Pictures.
In 1990, the city of Atlanta was named the site of the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, cheered on by Iraq war veterans and
their families on the White House's South Lawn, urged lawmakers to back his
plan to withdraw some troops from Iraq but keep at least 130,000 through the
summer of 2008 or longer. O.J. Simpson was charged with seven felonies,
including kidnapping, in the alleged armed robbery of sports memorabilia
collectors in a Las Vegas casino-hotel room. (Simpson, sentenced to nine to
33 years in prison, is scheduled to be released on parole in October 2017.)
Five years ago: Chicago teachers voted to suspend their strike and return to
the classroom after more than a week on picket lines, ending a combative
stalemate with Mayor Rahm Emanuel over evaluations and job security. NFL
Films President Steve Sabol, 69, died in Moorestown, New Jersey.
One year ago: At the United Nations, the United States, Japan and South
Korea roundly condemned North Korea's latest nuclear test and called for
tough new measures to further isolate the communist state. The Los Angeles
Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks 9-3 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
in a game that marked the return of pro football to the nation's
second-largest market for the first time in nearly 22 years. In Gee Chun of
South Korea won the Evian Championship with the lowest 72-hole score in
major championship history, finishing at 21-under 263 for a four-stroke
victory. "Game of Thrones" was honored at the Emmy Awards as top drama for
the second consecutive year; "Veep" repeated as best comedy series.
Today's Birthdays: Singer Jimmie Rodgers is 84. Actor Robert Blake is 84.
Actor Fred Willard is 84. Actor Eddie Jones is 83. Gospel singer Bobby Jones
is 79. Singer Frankie Avalon is 77. Actress Beth Grant is 68. Rock musician
Kerry Livgren is 68. Actress Anna Deavere Smith is 67. The U.S. Secretary of
Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, is 66. Basketball Hall of Fame
coach Rick Pitino is 65. College Football Hall of Famer and retired NFL
player Billy Sims is 62. Movie director Mark Romanek is 58. Baseball Hall of
Famer Ryne Sandberg is 58. Alt-country-rock musician Mark Olson is 56.
Singer Joanne Catherall (Human League) is 55. Actress Holly Robinson Peete
is 53. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ricky Bell (Bell Biv Devoe and New Edition)
is 50. Actress Aisha Tyler is 47. Former racing cyclist Lance Armstrong is
46. Opera singer Anna Netrebko is 46. Actress Jada Pinkett Smith is 46.
Actor James Marsden is 44. Actress Emily Rutherfurd is 43. Actor Travis
Schuldt is 43. Rapper Xzibit is 43.
Comedian-actor Jason Sudeikis is 42. Actress Sophina Brown is 41. Actor
Barrett Foa is 40. Talk show co-host Sara Haines (TV: "The View") is 40.
Actress Alison Lohman is 38. Designer Brandon Maxwell is 33. Actors Brandon
and Taylor Porter are 24. Country singer Tae Dye (Maddie and Tae) is 22.
Actor C.J. Sanders is 21.
Thought for Today: "Don't think of retiring from the world until the world
will be sorry that you retire. I hate a fellow whom pride or cowardice or
laziness drives into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit
and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark." — Samuel Johnson, English
author, critic and lexicographer (1709-1784).
Update September 16-17, 2017
Defiant N. Korea leader says he will complete nuke program
undated photo distributed on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, by the North Korean
government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, celebrates what was
said to be the test launch of an intermediate range Hwasong-12 missile at an
undisclosed location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News
Service via AP)
By Kim Tong-Hyung, Edith
M.Lederer, Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea leader Kim Jong Un said his
country is nearing its goal of "equilibrium" in military force with the
United States, as the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the
North's "highly provocative" ballistic missile launch over Japan on Friday.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency carried Kim's comments on
Saturday — a day after U.S. and South Korean militaries detected the missile
launch from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
It traveled 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) as it passed over the Japanese
island of Hokkaido before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean. It was the
country's longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile.
The North has confirmed the missile as an intermediate range Hwasong-12, the
same model launched over Japan on Aug. 29.
Under Kim's watch, North Korea has maintained a torrid pace in weapons
tests, including its most powerful nuclear test to date on Sept. 3 and two
July flight tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could strike
deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected.
The increasingly frequent and aggressive tests have added to outside fears
that the North is closer than ever to building a military arsenal that could
viably target the U.S. and its allies in Asia. The tests, which could
potentially make launches over Japan an accepted norm, are also seen as
North Korea's attempt to win greater military freedom in the region and
raise doubts in Seoul and Tokyo that Washington would risk the annihilation
of a U.S. city to protect them.
The KCNA said Kim expressed great satisfaction over the launch, which he
said verified the "combat efficiency and reliability" of the missile and the
success of efforts to increase its power.
While the English version of the report was less straightforward, the Korean
version quoted Kim as declaring the missile as operationally ready. He vowed
to complete his nuclear weapons program in the face of strengthening
international sanctions, the agency said.
Photos published by North Korea's state media showed the missile being
launched from a truck-mounted launcher and a smiling Kim clapping and
raising his fist while celebrating from an observation point.
The U.N. Security Council accused North Korea of undermining regional peace
and security by launching its latest missile over Japan and said its nuclear
and missile tests "have caused grave security concerns around the world" and
threaten all 193 U.N. member states.
Kim also said the country, despite "limitless" international sanctions, has
nearly completed the building of its nuclear weapons force and called for
"all-state efforts" to reach the goal and obtain a "capacity for nuclear
counterattack the U.S. cannot cope with."
"As recognized by the whole world, we have made all these achievements
despite the U.N. sanctions that have lasted for decades," the agency quoted
Kim as saying.
Kim said the country's final goal "is to establish the equilibrium of real
force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military
option for the DPRK," referring to North Korea's official name, the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
He indicated that more missile tests would be forthcoming, saying that all
future drills should be "meaningful and practical ones for increasing the
combat power of the nuclear force" to establish an order in the deployment
of nuclear warheads for "actual war."
Prior to the launches over Japan, North Korean had threatened to fire a
salvo of Hwasong-12s toward Guam, the U.S. Pacific island territory and
military hub the North has called an "advanced base of invasion."
The Security Council stressed in a statement after a closed-door emergency
meeting that all countries must "fully, comprehensively and immediately"
implement all U.N. sanctions.
Japan's U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho called the missile launch an "outrageous
act" that is not only a threat to Japan's security but a threat to the whole
Bessho and the British, French and Swedish ambassadors demanded that all
sanctions be implemented.
Calling the latest launch a "terrible, egregious, illegal, provocative
reckless act," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said North Korea's
largest trading partners and closest links — a clear reference to China —
must "demonstrate that they are doing everything in their power to implement
the sanctions of the Security Council and to encourage the North Korean
regime to change course."
France's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country is ready to
work on tougher U.N. and EU measures to convince Pyongyang that there is no
interest in an escalation, and to bring it to the negotiating table.
Friday's launch followed North Korea's sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 in what
it described as a detonation of a thermonuclear weapon built for its
The Hwasong-12 and the Hwasong-14 were initially fired at highly lofted
angles to reduce their range and avoid neighboring countries. The two
Hwasong-12 launches over Japan indicate North Korea is moving toward using
angles close to operational to evaluate whether its warheads can survive the
harsh conditions of atmospheric re-entry and detonate properly.
While some experts believe North Korea would need to conduct more tests to
confirm Hwasong-12's accuracy and reliability, Kim Jong Un's latest comments
indicate the country would soon move toward mass producing the missiles for
operational deployment, said Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Seoul's Institute
for Far Eastern Studies. He also said that the North is likely planning
similar test launches of its Hwasong-14 ICBM.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a liberal who initially pushed for talks
with North Korea, said its tests currently make dialogue "impossible."
"If North Korea provokes us or our allies, we have the strength to smash the
attempt at an early stage and inflict a level of damage it would be
impossible to recover from," said Moon, who ordered his military to conduct
a live-fire ballistic missile drill in response to the North Korean launch.
Lederer reported from the United Nations.
Crocodile suspected in death of UK reporter in Sri Lanka
undated image issued Friday Sept. 15, 2017, by The Financial Times, showing
British journalist Paul McClean.(Charlie Bibby/Financial Times via AP)
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri
Lankan navy divers on Friday found the body of a British journalist who is
believed to have been attacked by a crocodile while holidaying with friends
on a beach.
Police said Paul Stewart McClean, a reporter for the Financial Times, went
missing in a lagoon near the city of Panama on Thursday.
They said McClean, 24, was reported missing after he had walked some
distance from his friends. The Financial Times said on its website that
officials told his friends he was believed to have been attacked by a
The cause of death is yet to be established. Officials in the British
Embassy in Colombo have been informed, police said.
Panama beach, about 300 kilometers (190 miles) southeast of the capital,
Colombo, is famous for surfing and other beach sports.
James Lamont, the Financial Times' managing editor, described McClean as "a
talented, energetic and dedicated young journalist" who had "a great career
ahead of him."
21 boys who died in school fire buried in Malaysia
Relative cry during a mass funeral for victims
of a school fire outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday, Sept. 15,
2017.(AP Photo/Daniel Chan)
By Eileen Ng, Associated Press
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Twenty-one young boys who died in a
fire at a private Islamic boarding school were buried in Malaysia on Friday
amid renewed calls for better regulation of religious schools.
The charred bodies were released to family members after being identified
through DNA testing. Islamic authorities and grieving family members held
prayers for the victims at the hospital mosque before the bodies were taken
Eleven of the boys were buried outside Kuala Lumpur, where hundreds of
relatives and well-wishers mourned as the bodies, wrapped in white shrouds,
were lowered into the graves. In another cemetery about a half hour away,
two siblings and their cousin were laid to rest in the same grave, the Star
newspaper said. Others were taken to their hometowns. The burials were
sponsored and arranged by state Islamic authorities.
The pre-dawn blaze Thursday at a three-story "tahfiz" school, where Muslim
boys study and memorize the Quran, blocked the lone exit to the dormitory,
trapping students behind barred windows. Officials said the school was
operating without a fire safety permit and license, and that a dividing wall
was illegally built on the top floor that blocked the victims from a second
A list released by the national news agency Bernama said the victims were 21
boys aged between 6 and 16 and two teachers. Police had put the boys' ages
at between 13 and 17 on Thursday, and couldn't be reached to explain the
Religious schools, mostly privately run, are not supervised by the Education
Ministry because they come under the purview of state religious authorities.
Local media reported there are more than 500 registered tahfiz schools
nationwide but many more are believed to be unregistered.
Data from the Fire Department showed that 1,083 fires struck religious
schools in the past two years, of which 211 were burned to the ground. The
worst disaster occurred in 1989 when 27 female students at an Islamic school
in Kedah state died when fire gutted the school and eight wooden hostels.
Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said his department has proposed
that a special committee be set up to obtain state government consent to
place all tahfiz schools under the ministry's supervision to ensure they get
safety approvals and have operating permits. He said the ministry had
previously urged religious schools to register, but that was on a voluntary
"This is a good opportunity for us to make it a compulsory requirement for
religious schools to register with the Education Ministry. Our main concern
is safety," he told The Associated Press. "We have no intention to change or
interfere with their teachings."
Religion is a sensitive matter in Malaysia, where ethnic Malay Muslims make
up about 60 percent of the country's 31 million people.
Firefighters and witnesses have described scenes of horror — first of boys
screaming for help behind barred windows as neighbors watched helplessly,
and later of burned bodies huddled in corners of the room. Officials
initially said they suspected the fire was caused by an electrical
short-circuit but later said this wasn't the case. Police said they are
still investigating the cause as well as the presence of two gas tanks
outside the dormitory.
School principal Mohamad Zahid Mahmod has told local media the students were
being housed in a temporary building because of renovation work at the main
school building. He said they were due to move back at the end of this
month. He said the school has been operating for 15 years and registered
with the state Islamic religious council. But an official with the state
religious council said it had no record of the school.
Many grieving parents and family members described the tragedy as fate.
Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, the wife of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad,
blamed human error. She said she was briefed by a police officer and was
told the dormitory was overcrowded.
"We say that it is God or fate but God does not err ... the ugly and the bad
are from us. We have to take that responsibility. Do not say it was God or
fate," she said after visiting the school Friday.
UK threat level raised to "critical" after subway bombing
forensic officers walk within a cordon near where an incident happened, that
police say they are investigating as a terrorist attack, at Parsons Green
subway station in London, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Kirsty
By Jill Lawless, Gregory
Katz, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — A homemade bomb planted in a rush-hour subway car
exploded in London on Friday, injuring 29 people and prompting authorities
to raise Britain's terrorism threat level to "critical," meaning another
attack may be imminent.
The early morning blast sparked a huge manhunt for the perpetrators of what
police said was the fourth terrorist attack in the British capital this
Prime Minister Theresa May, acting on the recommendation of the Joint
Terrorism Analysis Center, raised the country's threat level from "severe"
to "critical" — its highest possible level. May said military troops would
augment the police presence in a "proportionate and sensible step."
Earlier, May said the device had been "intended to cause significant harm."
Still, to the relief of authorities and Londoners, experts said the bomb —
hidden in a plastic bucket inside a supermarket freezer bag — only partially
exploded, sparing the city much worse carnage.
"I would say this was a failed high-explosive device," Chris Hunter, a
former British army bomb expert, said of the blast, which caused no serious
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said
was carried out by an affiliated unit.
The bomb went off around 8:20 a.m. as the train, carrying commuters from the
suburbs — including many school children — was at Parsons Green station in
the southwest of the city.
Witness Chris Wildish told Sky News that he saw "out of the corner of my
eye, a massive flash of flames that went up the side of the train," followed
by "an acrid chemical smell."
Commuter Lauren Hubbard said she was on the train when she heard a loud
"I looked around and this wall of fire was just coming toward us," Hubbard
said. She said her instinct was "just run," and she fled the above-ground
station with her boyfriend.
Chaos ensued as hundreds of people, some of them suffering burns, poured
from the train, which can hold up to 800 people.
"I ended up squashed on the staircase. People were falling over, people
fainting, crying. There were little kids clinging onto the back of me," said
another commuter, Ryan Barnett.
Passenger Luke Walmsley said it was "like every man for himself to get down
"People were just pushing," he added. "There were nannies or mums asking
where their children were."
Police and health officials said 29 people were treated in London hospitals,
most of them for flash burns. None of the injuries were serious or
life-threatening, the emergency services said.
Trains were suspended along a stretch of the Underground's District Line,
and several homes were evacuated as police set up a 50-meter (150-foot)
cordon around the scene while they secured the device and launched a search
for those who planted it.
The Metropolitan Police said hundreds of detectives, along with agents of
the domestic spy agency MI5, were looking at surveillance camera footage,
carrying out forensic work and speaking to witnesses.
Speaking to reporters late Friday, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said
police were making "good progress" and that the public should be reassured
that more police and troops will be on the streets.
"We are only aware of one device," he said. "We have remnants of that
device. We are chasing down suspects." He refused to provide further
details, except to say the bomb involved the "detonation of an improvised
Among the questions authorities were seeking to answer: What was the device
made from, and was it meant to go off when it did, in a leafy, affluent part
of the city far from London's top tourist sites?
British media reported that the bomb included a timer. Lewis Herrington, a
terrorism expert at Loughborough University, said that would set it apart
from suicide attacks like those on the London subway in 2005 or at
Manchester Arena in May, in which the attackers "all wanted to die."
Photos taken inside the train showed a white plastic bucket inside a
foil-lined shopping bag, with flames and what appeared to be wires emerging
from the top.
Terrorism analyst Magnus Ranstorp of the Swedish Defense University said
that from the photos it appeared the bomb did not fully detonate, as much of
the device and its casing remained intact.
"They were really lucky with this one, it could have really become much
worse," he said.
Hunter, the explosives expert, said it appeared that "there was a bang, a
bit of a flash, and that would suggest that, potentially, some of the
explosive detonated, the detonator detonated, but much of the explosive was
Police and ambulances were on the scene within minutes of the blast, a
testament to their experience at responding to violent attacks in London.
The city has been a target for decades: from Irish Republican Army bombers,
right-wing extremists and, more recently, attackers inspired by al-Qaida or
the Islamic State group.
Britain has seen four other terrorist attacks this year, which killed a
total of 36 people. The other attacks in London — near Parliament, on London
Bridge and near a mosque in Finsbury Park in north London — used vehicles
and knives. Similar methods have been used in attacks across Europe,
including in Nice, Stockholm, Berlin and Barcelona.
The last time the country's threat level was raised to critical, was after
the May 22 suicide bombing at Manchester Arena that killed 22 people.
British authorities say they have foiled 19 plots since the middle of 2013,
six of them since the van and knife attack on Westminster Bridge and
Parliament in March, which killed five people. Police and MI5 say that at
any given time they are running about 500 counterterrorism investigations
involving 3,000 individuals.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said there had been a "shift" in the terrorism
threat, with attackers using a wide range of methods to try to inflict
carnage. Khan, who belongs to the opposition Labour Party, said London
police needed more resources to fight the threat. Police budgets have been
cut since 2010 by Britain's Conservative government.
The London Underground, which handles 5 million journeys a day, has been
targeted several times in the past. In July 2005, suicide bombers blew
themselves up on three subway trains and a bus, killing 52 people and
themselves. Four more bombers tried a similar attack two weeks later, but
their devices failed to fully explode.
Last year Damon Smith, a student with an interest in weapons and Islamic
extremism, left a knapsack filled with explosives and ball bearings on a
London subway train. It failed to explode.
U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in on Friday's attack, tweeting that it
was carried out "by a loser terrorist," and adding that "these are sick and
demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard."
The British prime minister gently rebuked the president for his tweets. "I
never think it's helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing
investigation," May said.
Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.
Today in History - Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017
Today is Sunday, Sept. 17, the 260th day of 2017. There are 105 days left in
Today's Highlight in History:
On September 17, 1967, The Doors appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on
CBS-TV for the first — and last — time. The group was banned from the
program after Jim Morrison ignored a producer's request to change the line,
"Girl, we couldn't get much higher" to "Girl, we couldn't get much better"
while singing "Light My Fire" during the live broadcast.
On this date:
In 1787, the Constitution of the United States was completed and signed by a
majority of delegates attending the Constitutional Convention in
In 1862, more than 3,600 men were killed in the Civil War Battle of Antietam
(an-TEE'-tum) in Maryland.
In 1937, the likeness of President Abraham Lincoln's head was dedicated at
In 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland during World War II, more than two
weeks after Nazi Germany had launched its assault.
In 1947, James V. Forrestal was sworn in as the first U.S. Secretary of
In 1957, two male attorneys "stood in" as actress Sophia Loren and producer
Carlo Ponti were married by proxy in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (Legal issues
later forced an annulment; the couple wed in Sevres, France, in 1966.)
In 1971, citing health reasons, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, 85,
retired. (Black, who was succeeded by Lewis F. Powell Jr., died eight days
after making his announcement.)
In 1978, after meeting at Camp David, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin
(men-AH'-kem BAY'-gihn) and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed a
framework for a peace treaty.
In 1987, the city of Philadelphia, birthplace of the U.S. Constitution,
threw a big party to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the historic
document; in a speech at Independence Hall, President Ronald Reagan
acclaimed the framing of the Constitution as a milestone "that would
profoundly and forever alter not just these United States but the world."
In 1996, former Vice President Spiro T. Agnew died in Berlin, Maryland, at
In 1997, a U.N. helicopter slammed into a fog-shrouded mountain in central
Bosnia and burst into flames, killing German diplomat Gerd Wagner, five
Americans and six others. President Bill Clinton rejected a ban on land
mines endorsed by 89 countries, saying the accord would jeopardize "the
safety and security of our men in uniform." Comedian Red Skelton died in
Rancho Mirage, California, at age 84.
In 2011, a demonstration calling itself Occupy Wall Street began in New
York, prompting similar protests around the U.S. and the world.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush nominated former federal judge
Michael Mukasey to become attorney general. The Iraqi government revoked the
license of Blackwater USA security firm a day after a shooting incident that
had claimed the lives of civilians. During a forum at the University of
Florida, Andrew Meyer, a student with a history of taping his own practical
jokes, was Tasered by campus police and arrested after loudly and repeatedly
trying to question Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
Five years ago: Republican Mitt Romney tried to head off a new distraction
for his presidential campaign after a video surfaced showing him telling
wealthy donors that 47 percent of all Americans "believe they are victims"
entitled to help from the government that permeated their lives; Romney
offered no apologies, but conceded his comments were not "elegantly stated"
and were spoken "off the cuff."
One year ago: An explosion rocked Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, injuring
30 people; an Afghan-born New Jersey resident is facing trial in the
bombing. A Somali-American went on a stabbing rampage at Crossroads Center
mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, wounding 10 people before an off-duty officer
fatally shot him. Rapper Snoop Dogg received the "I Am Hip Hop" award at the
11th annual BET Hip-Hop Awards near Atlanta. Actress Charmian Carr, best
known for playing Liesl von Trapp in the 1965 movie musical "The Sound of
Music," died in Los Angeles at age 73.
Today's Birthdays: Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, is 84. Retired Supreme
Court Justice David H. Souter is 78. Singer LaMonte McLemore (The Fifth
Dimension) is 82. Retired U.S. Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni is 74. Basketball
Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson is 72. Singer Fee Waybill is 67. Actress
Cassandra Peterson ("Elvira, Mistress of the Dark") is 66. Comedian Rita
Rudner is 64. Muppeteer Kevin Clash (former voice of Elmo on "Sesame
Street") is 57. Director-actor Paul Feig is 55. Movie director Baz Luhrmann
is 55. Singer BeBe Winans is 55. TV personality/businessman Robert Herjavec
(TV: "Shark Tank") is 54. Actor Kyle Chandler is 52. Director-producer Bryan
Singer is 52. Rapper Doug E. Fresh is 51. Actor Malik Yoba is 50. Rock
singer Anastacia is 49. Rock musician Keith Flint (Prodigy) is 48. Actor
Matthew Settle is 48. Rapper Vinnie (Naughty By Nature) is 47.
Actor-comedian Bobby Lee is 46. Actor Felix Solis is 46. Rhythm-and-blues
singer Marcus Sanders (Hi-Five) is 44. Actress-singer Nona Gaye is 43.
Singer-actor Constantine Maroulis is 42. NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson is 42.
Pop singer Maile Misajon (Eden's Crush) is 41. Country singer-songwriter
Stephen Cochran is 38. Rock musician Chuck Comeau (Simple Plan) is 38. Actor
Billy Miller is 38. Country singer Desi Wasdin (3 of Hearts) is 34. Rock
musician Jon Walker is 32. Actress Danielle Brooks is 28. Actress-singer
Denyse Tontz is 23.
Thought for Today: "I personally believe that each of us was put here for a
purpose to build, not to destroy. If I can make people smile, then I have
served my purpose for God." — Red Skelton (1913-1997).
Today in History - Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017
Today is Saturday, Sept. 16, the 259th day of 2017. There are 106 days left
in the year.
Today's Highlights in History:
On September 16, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective
Training and Service Act. Samuel T. Rayburn of Texas was elected Speaker of
the U.S. House of Representatives.
On this date:
In 1498, Tomas de Torquemada, notorious for his role in the Spanish
Inquisition, died in Avila, Spain.
In 1857, the song "Jingle Bells" by James Pierpont was copyrighted under its
original title, "One Horse Open Sleigh." (The song, while considered a
Christmastime classic, was actually written for Thanksgiving.)
In 1893, more than 100,000 settlers swarmed onto a section of land in
Oklahoma known as the "Cherokee Strip."
In 1908, General Motors was founded in Flint, Michigan, by William C.
In 1919, the American Legion received a national charter from Congress.
In 1925, the Irving Berlin song "Always" (written for his future wife, Ellin
Mackay) was published.
In 1953, "The Robe," the first movie presented in the widescreen process
CinemaScope, had its world premiere at the Roxy Theater in New York.
In 1967, the TV series "Mannix," starring Mike Connors as a private
investigator, premiered on CBS.
In 1977, Maria Callas, the American-born prima donna famed for her lyric
soprano and fiery temperament, died in Paris at age 53.
In 1982, the massacre of between 1,200 and 1,400 Palestinian men, women and
children at the hands of Israeli-allied Christian Phalange militiamen began
in west Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
In 1987, two dozen countries signed the Montreal Protocol, a treaty designed
to save the Earth's ozone layer by calling on nations to reduce emissions of
harmful chemicals by the year 2000.
In 1994, a federal jury in Anchorage, Alaska, ordered Exxon Corp. to pay $5
billion in punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez (val-DEEZ') oil spill
(the U.S Supreme Court later reduced that amount to $507.5 million). Two
astronauts from the space shuttle Discovery went on the first untethered
spacewalk in ten years.
Ten years ago: Contractors for the U.S. security firm Blackwater USA
guarding a U.S. State Department convoy in Baghdad opened fire on civilian
vehicles, mistakenly believing they were under attack; 14 Iraqis died. A
One-Two-Go Airlines passenger plane crashed on the island of Phuket
(poo-KET'), Thailand, killing 90 people. O.J. Simpson was arrested in the
alleged armed robbery of sports memorabilia collectors in Las Vegas.
(Simpson was later convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery and sentenced
to nine to 33 years in prison; he's due to be released on parole in October
2017.) The Phoenix Mercury beat the Detroit Shock 108-92 to win their first
WNBA title. "The Sopranos" claimed its final Emmy award as best dramatic
series; "30 Rock" won best comedy series.
Five years ago: In appearances on Sunday news shows, the U.S. ambassador to
the United Nations, Susan Rice, said there was no evidence that the attack
on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, was premeditated. But
Libya's interim president, Mohammed el-Megarif, told CBS he had no doubt
attackers spent months planning the assault and purposely chose the date,
One year ago: After five years of promoting a false conspiracy theory about
Barack Obama's birthplace, Republican Donald Trump abruptly reversed course,
acknowledging that the president was born in America, but then claiming the
"birther movement" was begun by his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
(While the question of Obama's birthplace was raised by some backers of
Clinton's primary campaign against Obama eight years earlier, Clinton had
long denounced it as a "racist lie.") Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning
playwright Edward Albee, 88, died in Montauk, New York. Author W.P.
Kinsella, 81, died in Hope, British Columbia, Canada.
Today's Birthdays: Actress Janis Paige is 95. Actor George Chakiris is 85.
Bluesman Billy Boy Arnold is 82. Movie director Jim McBride is 76. Actress
Linda Miller is 75. Rhythm-and-blues singer Betty Kelley (Martha & the
Vandellas) is 73. Musician Kenney Jones (Small Faces; Faces; The Who) is 69.
Actress Susan Ruttan is 69. Rock musician Ron Blair (Tom Petty & the
Heartbreakers; Mudcrutch) is 69. Actor Ed Begley Jr. is 68. Country singer
David Bellamy (The Bellamy Brothers) is 67. Country singer-songwriter Phil
Lee is 66. Actor-comedian Lenny Clarke is 64. Actor Kurt Fuller is 64. Jazz
musician Earl Klugh is 64. Actor Christopher Rich is 64. Singer Frank Reed
(The Chi-Lites) is 63. TV personality Mark McEwen is 63. Baseball Hall of
Famer Robin Yount is 62. Actor Mickey Rourke is 61. Magician David
Copperfield is 61. Country singer-songwriter Terry McBride is 59. Actress
Jennifer Tilly is 59. Retired MLB All-Star pitcher Orel Hershiser is 59.
Baseball Hall of Famer Tim Raines is 58. Actress Jayne Brook is 57. Singer
Richard Marx is 54. Comedian Molly Shannon is 53. Singer Marc Anthony is 49.
Comedian-actress Amy Poehler is 46. Actress Toks Olagundoye is 42. Country
singer Matt Stillwell is 42. Singer Musiq is 40. Actor Michael Mosley is 39.
Rapper Flo Rida is 38. Actress Alexis Bledel is 36. Actress Sabrina Bryan is
33. Actress Madeline Zima is 32. Actor Ian Harding is 31. Actress Kyla Pratt
is 31. Actor Daren Kagasoff is 30. Rock singer Teddy Geiger is 29.
Actress-dancer Bailey Buntain is 28. Rock singer-musician Nick Jonas (The
Jonas Brothers) is 25. Actress Elena Kampouris is 20.
Thought for Today: "Stoicism is the wisdom of madness and cynicism the
madness of wisdom." — Bergen Evans, American lexicographer (1904-1978).
Update September 15, 2017
North Korea fires missile over Japan in longest-ever flight
watch a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korea's missile launch, at
the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. (AP
By Kim Tong-Hyung, Foster Klug, Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired an intermediate-range
missile over Japan into the northern Pacific Ocean on Friday, U.S. and South
Korean militaries said, its longest-ever such flight and a clear message of
defiance to its rivals.
Since President Donald Trump threatened the North with "fire and fury" in
August, Pyongyang has conducted its most powerful nuclear test and launched
two missiles of increasing range over U.S. ally Japan. It tested its
first-ever intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.
The growing frequency, power and confidence displayed by these tests seems
to confirm what governments and outside experts have long feared: North
Korea is closer than ever to its goal of building a military arsenal that
can viably target both U.S. troops in Asia and the U.S. homeland. This, in
turn, is meant to allow North Korea greater military freedom in the region
by raising doubts in Seoul and Tokyo that Washington would risk the
annihilation of a U.S. city to protect its Asian allies.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile traveled about 3,700
kilometers (2,300 miles) and reached a maximum height of 770 kilometers (478
North Korea has repeatedly vowed to continue these tests amid what it calls
U.S. hostility — by which it means the presence of tens of thousands of U.S.
troops in Japan and South Korea. Robust diplomacy on the issue has been
stalled for years, and there's little sign that senior officials from
Pyongyang and Washington might sit down to discuss ways to slow the North's
determined march toward inclusion among the world's nuclear weapons powers.
Friday's missile, which triggered sirens and warning messages in northern
Japan but caused no apparent damage to aircraft or ships, was the second
fired over Japan in less than a month. North Korea conducted its sixth and
most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3.
The missile was launched from Sunan, the location of Pyongyang's
international airport and the origin of the earlier missile that flew over
Japan. Analysts have speculated the new test was of the same
intermediate-range missile launched in that earlier flight, the Hwasong-12.
That missile is linked to North Korea's declaration that it means to contain
the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam, which is the home of important
U.S. military assets and appears well within the Hwasong-12's range.
Friday's missile test was met with the usual outrage. South Korean President
Moon Jae-in ordered his military to conduct a live-fire ballistic missile
drill in response to the North Korean launch and instructed government
officials to pursue "stern" measures to discourage Pyongyang from further
provocations. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Defense Secretary
Jim Mattis both called the launch a reckless act.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency closed-door meeting to be
held Friday afternoon in New York. Trump has not commented.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command and the U.S. Pacific Command
said the missile posed no threat to North America or to Guam.
South Korean experts have said North Korea wants to make missiles flying
over Japan an accepted norm as it seeks to win more military space in a
region dominated by its enemies.
North Korea initially flight-tested the Hwasong-12 and the ICBM model
Hwasong-14 at highly lofted angles to reduce their range and avoid
The two launches over Japan indicate North Korea is moving toward using
angles close to operational to determine whether its warheads can survive
the harsh conditions of atmospheric re-entry and detonate properly.
North Korea has been accelerating its nuclear weapons development under
leader Kim Jong Un, a third-generation dictator who has conducted four of
North Korea's six nuclear tests since taking power in 2011. The weapons are
being tested at a torrid pace and include solid-fuel missiles designed to be
launched from road mobile launchers or submarines and are thus less
North Korea claimed its latest nuclear test was a detonation of a
thermonuclear weapon built for its ICBMs, which could potentially reach deep
into the U.S. mainland when perfected.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions earlier this
week over the nuclear test. They ban all textile exports and prohibit any
country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers — two key
sources of hard currency. They also prohibit North Korea from importing all
natural gas liquids and condensates, and cap Pyongyang's imports of crude
oil and refined petroleum products.
North Korea's Foreign Ministry denounced the U.N. sanctions and said the
North will "redouble its efforts to increase its strength to safeguard the
country's sovereignty and right to existence."
AP writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
Cambodia retaliates for visa ban, suspends US MIA searches
In this April 2, 2014 file photo, U.S. military
personnel drape the U.S. national flag over a coffin containing possible
remains of a U.S. serviceman during a repatriation ceremony at Phnom Penh
International Airport, Cambodia. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)
By Sopheng Cheang, Associated
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said
Thursday he will retaliate against a U.S. halt on the issuing of most visas
to senior foreign ministry officials and their families by suspending
missions by U.S. military-led teams searching for the remains of Americans
missing in action from the Vietnam War.
Cambodia's pro-government Fresh News website reported that Hun Sen said
cooperation with the United States on the MIA search would be suspended
until the two countries resolve several issues, especially the visa ban.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan confirmed the report.
The U.S. government lists 48 Americans still unaccounted for in Cambodia.
The dispute comes at a time of sharp tensions between Hun Sen's government
and Washington. As part of a general crackdown on critics ahead of next
year's general election, Cambodian authorities recently arrested the head of
the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and accused
the United States of colluding with him to overthrow the government.
The United States has rejected the accusation and criticized the arrest,
along with a crackdown on the media that shut an independent
English-language newspaper and about a dozen radio stations that broadcast
opposition voices or programming by the U.S. government-financed Voice of
America and Radio Free Asia.
The U.S. Embassy instituted the visa ban on Wednesday, saying that Cambodia
had refused or delayed accepting Cambodian nationals being deported by the
United States after being convicted of crimes. Similar measures were taken
against the African nations of Eritrea, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Hun Sen said in an interview with Fresh News that the foreign ministry would
send a notification of the MIA search suspension to the U.S. in the near
future. Earlier Thursday, the ministry denied that Cambodia had halted or
delayed the acceptance of deportees, saying its main interest was amending a
2002 agreement under which it agreed to take them.
Hun Sen described the repatriation of convicts from the United States to
Cambodia as an action that "breaks apart parents and children" and is "bad
and inhumane." He said some of the repatriated Cambodians had committed
Some human rights groups agree and note
that some convicts had spent little time in Cambodia, going to the United
States as children.
Nearly 3 weeks into Rohingya crisis, refugees still fleeing
A Rohingya Muslim man Naseer Ud Din holds his
infant son Abdul Masood, who drowned when the boat they were traveling in
capsized just before reaching the shore, as his wife Hanida Begum cries upon
reaching the Bay of Bengal shore in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, Thursday,
Sept. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
By Julhas Alam,Dar Yasin, Associated Press
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — Nearly three weeks into a mass exodus
of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar, thousands were still
flooding across the border Thursday in search of help and safety in teeming
refugee settlements in Bangladesh.
The crisis has drawn global condemnation, with U.N. officials demanding
Myanmar halt what they described as a campaign of ethnic cleansing that has
driven nearly 400,000 Rohingya to flee Rakhine state.
One of the dozens of boats carrying Rohingya to the Bangladeshi border town
of Teknaf capsized Thursday and at least two people drowned, police said.
That brought known drownings in the Naf River to 88 since the crisis began.
Those who arrived Wednesday in wooden boats on beaches near Shah Porir Dwip
fishing village described ongoing violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar,
where smoke could be seen billowing from a burning village — suggesting more
Rohingya homes had been set alight.
One Rohingya man said his village of Rashidong had been attacked six days
earlier by Myanmar soldiers and police.
"When military and police surrounded our village and attacked us with rocket
launchers to set fire, we got away from our village and fled away to any
direction we could manage," Abdul Goffar said.
Myanmar presidential office spokesman Zaw Htay said that out of 471
"Bengali" villages in three Rakhine townships, 176 were now completely empty
while at least 34 more were partially abandoned. Many in Myanmar use that
term as part of the long-standing refusal to accept Rohingya as citizens of
Myanmar has accused the Rohingya of burning their own homes and villages — a
claim the U.N. human rights chief criticized as a "complete denial of
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at U.N. headquarters on
Thursday that 10,000 people reportedly crossed the border that in the last
Combined with the Rohingyas who fled during the last round of violence in
Rakhine state last October, Dujarric said "it's estimated that some 40
percent of the total Rohingya population have now fled into Bangladesh."
An estimated 60 percent of the Rohingyas arriving in Bangladesh are
children, Dujarric said.
The crisis and refugee exodus began on Aug. 25, when Rohingya insurgents
attacked police posts. Myanmar's military retaliated with "clearance
operations" to root out the rebels, but the fleeing Rohingya say Myanmar
soldiers shot indiscriminately, burned their homes and warned them to leave
or die. Others have said they were attacked by Buddhist mobs. Hundreds have
died, mostly Rohingya, and some of the refugees have needed treatment for
Facing growing condemnation globally, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi will
not attend U.N. General Assembly meetings Sept. 19-25 to instead deal with
what the government said were domestic security issues.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters Wednesday that ethnic
cleansing was taking place against Rohingya in Rakhine state. The term
"ethnic cleansing" is defined as an effort to rid an area of an unwanted
ethnic group — by displacement, deportation or even killing.
And Amnesty International said Thursday that it has turned up evidence of an
"orchestrated campaign of systematic burnings" by Myanmar security forces
targeting dozens of Rohingya villages over the last three weeks.
The U.N. Security Council has called for "immediate steps to end the
violence" and ensure civilian protections.
Rohingya have faced decades of persecution in Myanmar, and are denied
citizenship despite centuries-old roots in the Rakhine region.
The thousands of Rohingya flooding into Bangladesh every day have arrived
hungry and traumatized. Many need urgent medical care for violence-related
injuries, severe infections or childbirth.
"The women who are coming for check-ups all have a terrified and exhausted
look," said Sumaya, a midwife at the Nayapara refugee camp working in
association with the U.N. population fund. "We keep hearing stories from
them of walking through jungles and across hills for days without food,
their children carried over their shoulders. They've lost their homes."
Two existing refugee camps were packed beyond capacity, and Bangladesh has
said it would free land to build a third. Many of the new arrivals were
huddling in makeshift shelters along roads or in open fields. Near the camp
of Balukhali, some were setting up tents made of bamboo and plastic along
hillsides muddy from days of rain. Children walked uphill to capture
rainwater before it spilled into the teeming settlements below.
Food, clean water and other necessities were scarce.
Panic erupted Thursday along roadsides where local volunteers were
distributing food, water and other supplies haphazardly from parked
vehicles. Local officials shouted through bullhorns for volunteers to
coordinate their efforts with aid agencies to avoid spreading chaos.
"There are acute shortages of everything, most critically shelter, food and
clean water," UNICEF country representative Edouard Beigbeder said.
The U.N. children's agency said it needed $7.3 million to help just the
hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children now at high risk of contracting
On Thursday afternoon, a scuffle broke out at a makeshift relief center at
Kutupalong, where some refugees tried to break into the center and were
beaten back by at least four security guards wielding sticks.
Those who managed to receive some aid after waiting hours in line were
dismayed by the meager hand-out.
"I have just got a tarpaulin sheet but no food," said 55-year-old Osman, who
gave only one name. "I need rice to eat, I need to feed my family. They said
they can't give us anything else. What will I eat now?"
The head of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees said humanitarian
assistance would increase "very, very quickly." Asked why the response has
been slow, Filippo Grandi alluded to difficulties working in Bangladesh, but
said he hoped this will change as the scale of the crisis becomes more
It is the Myanmar government's "responsibility to ensure that security
returns to Rakhine," Grandi told The Associated Press at the Stockholm
Security Conference in Sweden.
Bangladesh already was housing some 500,000 Rohingya who fled earlier
flashes of violence including anti-Muslim riots in 2012. Rakhine state had
up to 1 million Rohingya before the latest violence.
Yasin reported from Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh. Associated Press writers
David Keyton in Stockholm, Sweden, and Edith M. Lederer at the United
Nations contributed to this report.
Jitters in Europe as Russia-Belarus war games get underway
photo taken on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, Belarusian army vehicles drive
preparing for war games at an undisclosed location in Belarus.(Vayar
Military Agency photo via AP)
By Yuras Karmanau, Associated
MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Russia and Belarus began major war games
Thursday, an operation involving thousands of troops, tanks and aircraft on
NATO's eastern edge practicing how to hunt down and destroy armed spies,
among other maneuvers.
The Zapad (West) 2017 maneuvers, which are mainly taking place in Belarus
this year, have caused concern among members of the Western military
alliance and in neighboring countries. Some NATO members, including the
Baltic states and Poland, have criticized a lack of transparency about the
exercises and questioned Moscow's real intentions.
Russia and Belarus say the exercises, which run until Sept. 20, involve
5,500 Russian and 7,200 Belarusian troops.
Russian military officials have said up to 70 aircraft and about 250 tanks,
200 artillery systems and 10 navy ships will also be involved.
Estonian Defense Minister Juri Liuk, however, says Moscow could deploy up to
"Leaving weapons in Belarus means the Russian army could prepare bases for a
sudden broad attack ... right at the NATO border," Lithuanian officer Darius
While the Baltic nations fear the Zapad maneuvers may lead to a surprise
Russian attack, the exercises have also been criticized by Belarusian
opposition leaders. They say Russia could use the occasion to position a
large, permanent contingent of troops in Belarus, leaving the country at the
mercy of any armed confrontation involving Moscow.
The exercises began Thursday night with units simulating hunting down and
destroying reconnaissance agents belonging to illegal armed groups,
according to Oleg Belokonev, the Belarusian Deputy Defense Minister.
"Command points have been set up and fully-functioning command systems
created," Belokonev told journalists at a press conference in Minsk, the
Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed
forces, formally notified NATO of the beginning of the exercises on Thursday
evening, according to Russian media. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
told NATO troops in Estonia last week that the alliance will be closely
monitoring Zapad exercises.
Russia-West relations nosedived to their lowest level since the Cold War in
recent years after Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula
and its support of separatists fighting the Ukrainian government in eastern
Ukraine, clashes that have left over 10,000 people dead.
Russia's Defense Ministry said Thursday that elite parachute units in
several Russian cities had been placed on alert to be deployed during the
Organizers have invented three "aggressor countries" — Veishnoriya, Lubeniya
and Vesbasriya — to whose attacks the Russian and Belarusian militaries will
simulate a response. The Baltic States and Poland fear that these monikers
are just poorly disguised terms for their own countries.
Poland's National Security Bureau head, Pawel Soloch, said Thursday the
exercises were a demonstration "of the Russian state's capacity to hold
full-scale war action."
"The degree of mobilization is really impressive," Soloch said on private
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, who often criticizes Russian
leaders, said the war games are a sign the Kremlin is preparing for conflict
"We are anxious about this drill ... it is an open preparation for war with
the West," Grybauskaite told reporters.
There is also unease in Kiev, and
Ukraine is currently conducting its own military exercises. Ukrainian
President Petro Poroshenko has said that Zapad 2017 appears to be a
"preparation for an offensive war on a continental scale."
Both Moscow and Minsk have said repeatedly that the exercises are not a
danger for neighboring countries.
"We are not threatening anyone," Oleg Voinov, an adviser to the Belarusian
Defense Minister, told journalists Thursday. "We have chosen military bases
that are significantly removed from the borders with Ukraine, Poland,
Lithuania and Latvia."
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said
Thursday that Russia had been completely open and transparent about its
military's involvement in the exercises.
The most recent Zapad exercises, which occur every few years, took place in
2013, just before Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. Russia had leased a
naval base in Crimea from Ukraine prior to its seizure, and used troops
deployed there to quickly take over the Black Sea peninsula.
Some people think fears of Russian aggression are being blown out of
"Worries over Zapad are overkill. Russians will not seek confrontation,
because they know that NATO will be watching this event closely and is
certainly ready to react," said Kestutis Girnius, a Vilnius University
Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Howard Amos in Moscow and Liudas Dapkus in
Vilnius, Lithuania, contributed to this report.
Today in History - Friday, Sept. 15, 2017
Today is Friday, Sept. 15, the 258th day of 2017. There are 107 days left in
Today's Highlight in History:
On September 15, 1940, during the World War II Battle of Britain, the tide
turned as the Royal Air Force inflicted heavy losses upon the Luftwaffe.
On this date:
In 1789, the U.S. Department of Foreign Affairs was renamed the Department
In 1807, former Vice President Aaron Burr was acquitted of a misdemeanor
charge two weeks after he was found not guilty of treason.
In 1857, William Howard Taft — who served as President of the United States
and as U.S. chief justice — was born in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In 1917, the first issue of Forbes magazine was published.
In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws deprived German Jews of their citizenship.
In 1942, during World War II, the aircraft carrier USS Wasp was torpedoed by
a Japanese submarine; the U.S. Navy ended up sinking the badly damaged
In 1950, during the Korean conflict, United Nations forces landed at Incheon
in the south and began their drive toward Seoul (sohl).
In 1963, four black girls were killed when a bomb went off during Sunday
services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. (Three Ku
Klux Klansmen were eventually convicted for their roles in the blast.)
In 1972, a federal grand jury in Washington indicted seven men in connection
with the Watergate break-in.
In 1981, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to approve the
Supreme Court nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor.
In 1997, two of the nation's most popular diet drugs — dexfenfluramine and
fenfluramine — were pulled off the market because of new evidence they could
seriously damage patients' hearts.
In 2000, the 2000 Summer Olympics opened in Sydney, Australia, with a
seemingly endless parade of athletes and coaches and a spectacular display;
Aborigine runner Cathy Freeman ignited an Olympic ring of fire.
Ten years ago: In his Saturday radio address, President George W. Bush said
while "formidable challenges" remained in Iraq, the United States would
start shifting more troops into support roles in addition to troop
withdrawals announced earlier. Several thousand protesters marched from the
White House to the Capitol to demand an end to the Iraq war. Sarah Thomas
became the first female official to work a game in the Football Bowl
Subdivision, formerly I-A, serving as the line judge in the Jacksonville
State-Memphis game (which Memphis won, 35-14). Actress-comedian Brett Somers
died in Westport, Connecticut, at age 83.
Five years ago: Four days after the deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic
outpost in Benghazi, Libya, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula called for
more attacks on U.S. embassies. The State Department ordered non-essential
government personnel and family members to leave its embassies in Sudan and
Tunisia and warned U.S. citizens against traveling to the two countries. The
National Hockey League locked out its players at 11:59 p.m. EDT; it was the
league's fourth shutdown in a decade and one that would cost the league
nearly half its season.
One year ago: A report issued by the Republican-led House intelligence
committee condemned Edward Snowden, saying the National Security Agency
leaker was not a whistleblower and that the vast majority of the documents
he stole were defense secrets that had nothing to do with privacy; Snowden's
attorney blasted the report, saying it was an attempt to discredit a
"genuine American hero." Arizona's first female governor, Democrat Rose
Mofford, died in Phoenix at age 94.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Forrest Compton is 92. Comedian Norm Crosby is 90.
Actor Henry Darrow is 84. Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry is 79.
Actress Carmen Maura is 72. Opera singer Jessye Norman is 72.
Writer-director Ron Shelton is 72. Actor Tommy Lee Jones is 71. Movie
director Oliver Stone is 71. Rock musician Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger) is 65.
Rock musician Mitch Dorge (Crash Test Dummies) is 57. Football Hall of Famer
Dan Marino is 56. Actor Danny Nucci is 49. Rap DJ Kay Gee is 48. Actor Josh
Charles is 46. Singer Ivette Sosa (Eden's Crush) is 41. Actor Tom Hardy is
40. Actress Marisa Ramirez is 40. Pop-rock musician Zach Filkins
(OneRepublic) is 39. Actor Dave Annable is 38. Actress Amy Davidson is 38.
Britain's Prince Harry is 33. TV personality Heidi Montag is 31. Actress
Kate Mansi is 30.
Thought for Today: "The lack of a sense of history is the damnation of the
modern world." — Robert Penn Warren, American poet (born 1905, died this
date in 1989).
Update September 14, 2017
Woman arrested near Prince George's London school
Prince William, left, accompanies Prince George and Helen Haslem - the head
of the lower school on arrival for his first day of school at Thomas's
school in Battersea, London, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. (Richard Pohle/Pool
Photo via AP)
LONDON (AP) — London police say
a woman has been arrested on suspicion of attempted burglary near the London
school attended by four-year-old Prince George after a security incident at
Police said Wednesday the 40-year-old woman was arrested after an individual
gained access to Thomas' Battersea School in south London on Tuesday. Police
did not provide more details.
The woman is being questioned and has not been charged or identified.
George, son of Prince William and his wife Kate, started school last week.
London's Metropolitan Police say the force is working with the school to
review its security arrangements.
Police are part of the security measure in place to protect George, who is
third in line to the throne behind William and Prince Charles.
As Rohingya flee Myanmar, leader Suu Kyi skips UN meeting
Muslim boy, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, stands near a
newly built shelter at Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Sept.
13, 2017. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
By Julas Alam, Associated Press
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — With Myanmar drawing condemnation for
violence that has driven nearly 380,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee the
country, the government said its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will skip this
month's U.N. General Assembly meetings.
Suu Kyi will miss the assembly's ministerial session, which opens Sept. 19
and runs through Sept. 25, to address domestic security issues, according to
presidential office spokesman Zaw Htay.
The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday condemned the violence in Myanmar's
Rakhine state that sparked the mass exodus. Members called for "immediate
steps to end the violence" and efforts to de-escalate the situation, ensure
protection of civilians and resolve the refugee problem.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said the council's press
statement, which followed closed-door consultations, was the first statement
the U.N.'s most powerful body has made in nine years on the situation in
Myanmar. He called it "an important first step."
While the Security Council was meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio
Guterres told reporters that ethnic cleansing was taking place against the
Rohingya. He urged Myanmar's government to suspend military action, end the
violence, uphold the rule of law and allow the Rohingyas, who were stripped
of citizenship years ago, to return home.
Suu Kyi's appearance at last year's General Assembly was a landmark: her
first since her party won elections in 2015 and replaced a
military-dominated government. Even then, however, she faced criticism over
Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya Muslims, whose name she did not utter. Many
in Buddhist-majority Myanmar instead use the term "Bengalis" and insist they
are people who migrated illegally from Bangladesh.
Suu Kyi is not Myanmar's president — her official titles are state counselor
and foreign minister — but she effectively serves as leader of the Southeast
Asian nation though she does not control the military.
Zaw Htay said that, with President Htin Kyaw hospitalized, second Vice
President Henry Van Tio would attend the U.N. meeting.
"The first reason (Suu Kyi cannot attend) is because of the Rakhine
terrorist attacks," Zaw Htay said. "The state counselor is focusing to calm
the situation in Rakhine state. There are circumstances. The second reason
is, there are people inciting riots in some areas. We are trying to take
care of the security issue in many other places. The third is that we are
hearing that there will be terrorist attacks and we are trying to address
Instead, Zaw Htay said, Suu Kyi will give a speech in Myanmar next week that
will cover the same topics that she would have addressed at the United
The crisis erupted on Aug. 25, when an insurgent Rohingya group attacked
police outposts in Rakhine and Myanmar's military responded with "clearance
operations" against the rebels. The ensuing violence has left hundreds dead
and set off the refugee exodus, with new arrivals crossing the border into
Bangladesh each day.
Zaw Htay said of 471 "Bengali" villages in three townships, 176 are now
completely empty and at least 34 others are partially abandoned.
He said at least 86 clashes occurred through Sept. 5, but none since. "What
that means is, when the security forces are trying to stabilize the region,
they have succeeded to a point," he said.
The government blames Rohingya for the violence, but journalists who visited
the region found evidence that raises doubts about its claims that Rohingya
set fire to their own homes.
Many of the Rohingya who flooded into refugee camps in Bangladesh told of
Myanmar soldiers shooting indiscriminately, burning their homes and warning
them to leave or die. Others said they were attacked by Buddhist mobs.
Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who lived under house arrest for many
years under a military junta that ultimately gave way to an elected
government, has faced a torrent of criticism since the crisis erupted. At a
march in India's capital on Wednesday, protesters asked whether Suu Kyi had
received her Nobel for promoting peace or for persecuting Rohingya.
Bangladesh has been overwhelmed with the massive influx of Rohingya, many of
whom arrived hungry and traumatized after walking for days through jungles
or being packed into rickety wooden boats.
Thousands lined up on Wednesday outside a makeshift relief center in Cox's
Bazar district that was distributing rice, sugar and other relief materials.
Mamunur Rashid of the International Organization for Migration said the
supplies would be enough to help about 5,000 people.
The head of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees said humanitarian
assistance to the fleeing Rohingya will increase "very, very quickly."
Asked why the response has been so slow, Filippo Grandi alluded to
difficulties working in Bangladesh, but said he hoped this will change as
the scale of the crisis becomes more apparent.
It is the government's "responsibility to ensure that security returns to
Rakhine," Grandi told The Associated Press in Sweden at the opening of the
Stockholm Security Conference.
Bangladesh already was housing some 500,000 Rohingya who fled earlier
flashes of violence including anti-Muslim riots in 2012. Many newcomers were
staying in schools or were huddling under tarps in makeshift settlements
along roads and in open fields. Basic resources were scarce, including food,
clean water and medical aid.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has pledged to help the new
arrivals, but demanded that Myanmar "take their nationals back."
Associated Press journalists Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and
David Keyton in Stockholm, Sweden, contributed to this report.
Scientists hope to restore extinct Galapagos tortoise
released by Galapagos National Park on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2017 shows a
turtle with genes from an extinct species of turtles that disappeared about
167 years ago, in Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. (Galapagos
National Park via AP)
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Scientists
in Ecuador's Galapagos islands are hoping to restore a tortoise species
believed extinct since the 1800s.
The Chelonoidis elephantopus lived on Floreana Island and was captured by
seamen in large numbers for food during long journeys across the Pacific.
The species is thought to have disappeared shortly after Charles Darwin's
celebrated visit to the treasured archipelago.
But a group of international scientists who collected 1,700 blood samples
from tortoises on Isabel Island farther north during a research expedition
in 2012 made a surprising discovery: 80 had genetic traces of the lost
"This is a species that was considered extinct for 160 years," Washington
Tapia, one of the scientists studying the tortoises, told The Associated
Press. "We didn't imagine what we would find."
Researchers with the Galapagos Conservancy and the Galapagos National Park
are now trying to restore the species by selecting 20 specimens with higher
amounts of the Floreana tortoise in its DNA to reproduce.
"We are not going to have a perfect species, genetically 100 percent like
the one that was in Floreana," said Linda Cayot, a scientific consultant
with the Galapagos Conservancy. "But we will have a tortoise population with
many of the same genes as the original."
Scientists believe sailors who caught Floreana tortoises for food sometimes
dropped them off on Isabel Island in order to lighten a ship's load before
crossing the ocean. Isabel Island was typically the last stop before setting
The scientists traveling to Isabel Island five years ago didn't originally
set out to research the Floreana species and were surprised when their
samples revealed such high quantities of the extinct tortoise's DNA.
The 20 tortoises identified as having the highest amounts of Floreana DNA
have been placed in corrals containing three females and two males each in
hopes of one day repopulating the island with close copies of the extinct
"We hear about extinctions and the damage humans can cause a species," said
Ecuadorean Minister for the Environment Tarsicio Granizo. "But today, with
the results of this investigation, we can tell the world that it is possible
to reverse negative effects on the environment. We are going to recover an
Jaime Chaves, an evolutionary biology professor at San Francisco University
in Quito, described the study as an important example of how advancements in
molecular science can potentially help reintroduce a bygone species.
"It's very exciting to witness the reach of these genetic studies,
identifying individuals with the potential to be a starting point for the
recovery of a unique lineage believed extinct," he said.
'Sopranos' mobster, veteran actor Frank Vincent dies at 80
Vincent Pastore, left, and Frank Vincent rough around for photographers at
the fifth season premiere of the HBO series "The Sopranos," at New York's
Radio City Music Hall. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
By Frazier Moore, AP Television
NEW YORK (AP) — Frank Vincent, a veteran character actor who often
played tough guys, including mob boss Phil Leotardo on "The Sopranos," has
died. He was 80.
Vincent died peacefully on Wednesday, a statement from his family said. No
cause of death was given.
Besides Leotardo, the ruthless New York mob boss who frequently clashed with
Tony Soprano on the popular HBO drama and who was memorably whacked at a
service station, Vincent portrayed gangsters for director Martin Scorsese.
He appeared in "Raging Bull," ''Goodfellas" — where he played Billy Batts, a
made man in the Gambino crime family — and "Casino," playing Frank Marino,
based on real-life gangster Frank Cullotta.
Vincent had small roles in two Spike Lee films, "Do the Right Thing" and
"Jungle Fever," and also was in "The Pope of Greenwich Village," ''Last Exit
to Brooklyn," ''Night Falls on Manhattan" and "Shark Tale," among his more
than 50 movies.
Raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, he acted in school plays and learned
piano, trumpet and drums. As an adult, he became a session drummer for such
singers as Paul Anka, Del Shannon, Trini Lopez and The Belmonts.
In 1975, he made his feature film acting debut in Ralph DeVito's "Death
Collector," where he was spotted by Scorsese.
In 2006, Vincent published "A Guy's
Guide to Being a Man's Man."
Today in History - Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017
Today is Thursday, Sept. 14, the 257th day of 2017. There are 108 days left
in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poem
"Defence of Fort McHenry" (later "The Star-Spangled Banner") after
witnessing the American flag flying over the Maryland fort following a night
of British naval bombardment during the War of 1812.
On this date:
In 1829, the Treaty of Adrianople was signed, ending war between Russia and
the Ottoman Empire.
In 1861, the first naval engagement of the Civil War took place as the USS
Colorado attacked and sank the Confederate private schooner Judah off
In 1867, the first volume of "Das Kapital" by Karl Marx was published in
In 1901, President William McKinley died in Buffalo, New York, of gunshot
wounds inflicted by an assassin; Vice President Theodore Roosevelt succeeded
In 1927, modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan died in Nice (nees), France,
when her scarf became entangled in a wheel of the sports car she was riding
In 1941, Vermont passed a resolution enabling its servicemen to receive
wartime bonuses by declaring the U.S. to be in a state of armed conflict,
giving rise to headlines that Vermont had "declared war on Germany."
In 1954, the Soviet Union detonated a 40-kiloton atomic test weapon.
In 1964, Pope Paul VI opened the third session of the Second Ecumenical
Council of the Vatican, also known as "Vatican II." (The session closed two
In 1975, Pope Paul VI declared Mother Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton the first
In 1982, Princess Grace of Monaco, formerly actress Grace Kelly, died at age
52 of injuries from a car crash the day before; Lebanon's president-elect,
Bashir Gemayel (bah-SHEER' jeh-MAY'-el), was killed by a bomb.
In 1986, President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, appeared together on
radio and television to appeal for a "national crusade" against drug abuse.
In 1991, the government of South Africa, the African National Congress and
the Inkatha (in-KAH'-tah) Freedom Party signed a national peace pact.
Ten years ago: Defense Secretary Robert Gates raised the possibility of
cutting U.S. troop levels in Iraq to 100,000 by the end of 2008, well beyond
the cuts President George W. Bush had approved. In Iraq, some 1,500 mourners
called for revenge as they buried the leader of the Sunni revolt against
al-Qaida, Adbul-Sattar Abu Risha, who had been assassinated in a bombing
claimed by an al-Qaida front.
Five years ago: Fury over an anti-Muslim film ridiculing the Prophet
Muhammad spread across the Muslim world, with deadly clashes near Western
embassies in Tunisia and Sudan, an American fast-food restaurant set ablaze
in Lebanon, and international peacekeepers attacked in the Sinai. A French
gossip magazine's publication of topless photos of Prince William's wife,
Kate, prompted an immediate (and still pending) lawsuit from the royal
couple and statements of outrage from palace officials.
One year ago: Hillary Clinton's campaign released a letter from her doctor
saying the Democratic presidential nominee was "recovering well" from
pneumonia and remained "fit to serve as President of the United States."
President Barack Obama said the U.S. was lifting economic sanctions and
restoring trade benefits to former pariah state Myanmar as he met with
former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi (ahng sahn soo chee), the
nation's de facto leader. Tyre King, a 13-year-old boy, was fatally shot by
Columbus, Ohio, police after authorities said he pulled a BB gun from his
Today's Birthdays: Actress Zoe Caldwell is 84. Feminist author Kate Millett
is 83. Actor Walter Koenig is 81.
Basketball Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown is 77. Singer-actress Joey
Heatherton is 73. Actor Sam Neill is 70. Singer Jon "Bowzer" Bauman (Sha Na
Na) is 70. Rock musician Ed King is 68. Actor Robert Wisdom is 64. Rock
musician Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) is 62. Country singer-songwriter Beth
Nielsen Chapman is 61. Actress Mary Crosby is 58. Singer Morten Harket
(a-ha) is 58. Country singer John Berry is 58. Actress Melissa Leo is 57.
Actress Faith Ford is 53. Actor Jamie Kaler is 53. Actress Michelle Stafford
is 52. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is 52. Rock musician Mike
Cooley (Drive-By Truckers) is 51. Actor Dan Cortese is 50. Contemporary
Christian singer Mark Hall is 48. Actor-writer-director-producer Tyler Perry
is 48. Actor Ben Garant is 47. Rock musician Craig Montoya (Tri Polar) is
47. Actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley is 46. Actor Andrew Lincoln is 44.
Rapper Nas is 44.
Actor Austin Basis is 41. Country singer Danielle Peck is 39. Pop singer Ayo
is 37. Actor Sebastian Sozzi is 35. Actor Adam Lamberg is 33. Singer Alex
Clare is 32. Actor Chad Duell (TV: "General Hospital") is 30. Actress
Jessica Brown Findlay is 30. Actor-singer Logan Henderson is 28.
Thought for Today: "America has been called a melting pot, but it seems
better to call it a mosaic, for in it each nation, people or race which has
come to its shores has been privileged to keep its individuality,
contributing at the same time its share to the unified pattern of a new
nation." — King Baudouin I of Belgium (1930-1993).
Update September 13, 2017
FEMA estimates 25 percent of Florida Keys homes are gone
Damaged homes sit in the aftermath of Hurricane
Irma on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, in Key West, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
By Jason Dearen, Martha Mendoza, Associated Press
LOWER MATECUMBE KEY, Fla. (AP) — With 25 percent of the homes in the
Florida Keys feared destroyed, emergency workers Tuesday rushed to find
Hurricane Irma's victims — dead or alive — and deliver food and water to the
stricken island chain.
As crews labored to repair the lone highway connecting the Keys, residents
of some of the islands closest to Florida's mainland were allowed to return
and get their first look at the devastation.
"It's going to be pretty hard for those coming home," said Petrona
Hernandez, whose concrete home on Plantation Key with 35-foot walls was
unscathed, unlike others a few blocks away. "It's going to be devastating to
But because of disrupted phone service and other damage, the full extent of
the destruction was still a question mark, more than two days after Irma
roared into the Keys with 130 mph (209 kph) winds.
Elsewhere in Florida, life inched closer to normal, with some flights again
taking off, many curfews lifted and major theme parks reopening. Cruise
ships that extended their voyages and rode out the storm at sea began
returning to port with thousands of passengers.
The number of people without electricity in the steamy late-summer heat
dropped to 9.5 million — just under half of Florida's population. Utility
officials warned it could take 10 days or more for power to be fully
restored. About 110,000 people remained in shelters across Florida.
The number of deaths blamed on Irma in Florida climbed to 12, in addition to
four in South Carolina and two in Georgia. At least 37 people were killed in
"We've got a lot of work to do, but everybody's going to come together,"
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said. "We're going to get this state rebuilt."
In hard-hit Naples, on Florida's southwest coast, more than 300 people stood
outside a Publix grocery store in the morning, waiting for it to open.
A manager came to the store's sliding door with occasional progress reports.
Once he said that workers were throwing out produce that had gone bad;
another time, that they were trying to get the cash registers working.
One man complained loudly that the line had too many gaps. Others shook
their heads in frustration at word of another delay.
At the front of the line after a more than two-hour wait, Phill
Chirchirillo, 57, said days without electricity and other basics were
beginning to wear on people.
"At first it's like, 'We're safe, thank God.' Now they're testy," he said.
"The order of the day is to keep people calm."
Irma's rainy remnants, meanwhile, pushed through Alabama and Mississippi
after drenching Georgia. Flash-flood watches and warnings were issued across
While nearly all of Florida was engulfed by the 400-mile-wide
(645-kilometer) storm, the Keys — home to about 70,000 people — appeared to
be the hardest hit. Drinking water and power were cut off, all three of the
islands' hospitals were closed, and the supply of gasoline was extremely
Search-and-rescue teams made their way into the more distant reaches of the
Keys, and an aircraft carrier was positioned off Key West to help. Officials
said it was not known how many people ignored evacuation orders and stayed
behind in the Keys.
Monroe County began setting up shelters and food-and-water distribution
points for Irma's victims in the Keys.
Crews also worked to repair two washed-out, 300-foot (90-meter) sections of
U.S. 1, the highway that runs through the Keys, and check the safety of the
42 bridges linking the islands.
Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long said
preliminary estimates suggested that 25 percent of the homes in the Keys
were destroyed and 65 percent sustained major damage.
"Basically, every house in the Keys was impacted," he said.
In Islamorada, a trailer park was devastated, the homes ripped apart as if
by a giant claw. A sewage-like stench hung over the place.
Debris was scattered everywhere, including refrigerators, washers and
dryers, a 25-foot (8-meter) fishing boat and a Jacuzzi. Homes were torn open
to give a glimpse of their contents, including a bedroom with a small
Christmas tree decorated with starfish.
One man and his family came to check on a weekend home and found it
destroyed. The sight was too much to bear. The man told his family to get
back in the car, and they drove off toward Miami.
In Key Largo, Lisa Storey and her husband said they had yet to be contacted
by the power company or by city, county or state officials. As she spoke to
a reporter, a helicopter passed overhead.
"That's a beautiful sound, a rescue sound," she said.
Authorities stopped people and checked for documentation such as proof of
residency or business ownership before allowing them back into the Upper
Keys, including Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada.
The Lower Keys — including the chain's most distant and most populous
island, Key West, with 27,000 people — were still off-limits, with a
roadblock in place where the highway was washed out.
In Lower Matecumbe Key, just south of Islamorada, 57-year-old Donald Garner
checked on his houseboat, which had only minor damage. Nearby, three other
houseboats were partially sunk. Garner had tied his to mangroves.
"That's the only way to make it," said Garner, who works for a shrimp
Although the Keys are studded with mansions and beachfront resorts, about 13
percent of the people live in poverty and could face big obstacles as the
"People who bag your groceries when you're on vacation — the bus drivers,
hotel cleaners, cooks and dishwashers — they're already living beyond
paycheck to paycheck," said Stephanie Kaple, who runs an organization that
helps the homeless in the Keys.
Corey Smith, a UPS driver who rode out the hurricane in Key Largo, said it
was a relief that many buildings on the island escaped major damage. But he
said conditions were still not good, with branches blocking roads and
"They're shoving people back to a place with no resources," he said by
telephone. "It's just going to get crazy pretty quick."
Mendoza reported from Atlanta. Associated Press writers Terry Spencer in
Palm Beach County; Gary Fineout and Joe Reedy in Tallahassee; Jay Reeves in
Immokalee; Terrance Harris in Orlando; Claire Galofaro in Jacksonville; and
Freida Frisaro, Jennifer Kay, Curt Anderson and David Fischer in Miami
contributed to this report.
HURRICANE NEWSLETTER — Get the best of the AP's all-formats reporting on
Irma and Harvey in your inbox: http://apne.ws/ahYQGtb
2 Americans, Russian dock with International Space Station
cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, bottom, U.S. astronauts Joseph Acaba, centre,
and Mark Vande Hei, crew members of the mission to the International Space
Station, ISS, wave near the rocket prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at
the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Sept. 13,
2017. (Maxim Shipenkov, Pool via AP)
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) — A
Soyuz space capsule with two Americans and a Russian aboard has docked with
the International Space Station.
The capsule blasted off from the Russian manned space launch facility in
Kazakhstan and docked with the orbiting laboratory about five and a half
hours later at 0255 GMT Wednesday.
Tests and opening of the hatches was expected to take about 90 minutes
before the capsule can enter the space station.
Joe Acaba of NASA is making his third trip into space and Russian Alexander
Misurkin his second. It's the first voyage for American Mark Vande Hei. All
are to stay on the space station about 5 1/2 months.
They will join Russia's Sergey Ryazanskiy, American Randy Bresnik and
Italy's Paolo Nespoli, who have been aboard the station since late July.
Bangladesh leader visits Rohingya refugees, assures help
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,
center, meets with a Rohingya Muslim child at Kutupalong refugee camp, near
the border town of Ukhia, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017.(AP
By Al-Emrun Garjon, Tofayel Ahmed, Associated Press
UKHIYA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh's leader demanded that Myanmar
allow the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled
recent violence in the Buddhist-majority nation — a crisis she said left her
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh would offer the refugees
temporary shelter and aid, but that Myanmar should soon "take their
"We will not tolerate injustice," she said Tuesday at the Kutupalong refugee
camp, near the border town of Ukhiya in Cox's Bazar district.
At least 370,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when
Myanmar's military responded to a major insurgent attack with what it called
"clearance operations" to root out the rebels. Many of the fleeing Rohingya
have said Myanmar soldiers shot indiscriminately, burned their homes and
warned them to leave or die. Others said they were attacked by Buddhist
The crisis has drawn sharp criticism of Myanmar's government and its leader,
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi. On Tuesday, Iran's Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the killing of Muslims a political
disaster and called Suu Kyi a "brutal woman." U.N. human rights chief Zeid
Ra'ad al-Hussein said the Rohingya were victims of what "seems a textbook
example of ethnic cleansing."
Two human rights groups on Tuesday accused the U.N. Security Council of
ignoring the crisis. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International spoke at
U.N. headquarters ahead of closed council discussions Wednesday about the
Louis Charbonneau, the U.N. director for Human Rights Watch, said, "This is
an international peace and security crisis" and there is no excuse for the
Security Council "sitting on its hands."
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the world's largest Muslim body, is
urging Myanmar to allow in U.N. monitors so they can investigate what it
alleges is systematic brutality against the Rohingya. The U.N. Human Rights
Council approved an investigative mission earlier this year, but Myanmar in
June refused to allow it to enter. An envoy's visit in July was met with
In Myanmar, a Rohingya man said security forces arrived Monday in the
village of Pa Din, firing guns, setting new fires to homes and driving out
hundreds of Rohingya. "People were scared and running out of the village,"
the villager said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear for his
Myanmar police, however, said the houses were burned by terrorists they
called Bengalis, a term used derisively in Myanmar against Rohingya.
Myanmar's military said Rohingya villagers helped them arrest six suspected
insurgents armed with swords and slingshots on Monday. The military
commander in chief's office posted on Facebook that the six were detained as
they entered Ka Nyin Tan village in Maungdaw township.
In Bangladesh, Kutupalong and another existing Rohingya camp were already
beyond capacity. Bangladesh has said it would provide 2,000 acres (810
hectares) for a new camp in Cox's Bazar district to help shelter new
arrivals. Some were staying in schools or huddling in makeshift settlements
along roads and in open fields. Basic resources were scarce, including food,
clean water and medical aid.
Aid agencies have been overwhelmed by the influx of Rohingya, many of whom
are arriving hungry and traumatized after walking for days through jungles
or being packed into rickety wooden boats in search of safety in Bangladesh.
The government hospital in Cox's Bazar has been overwhelmed by Rohingya
patients, with 80 arriving with gunshot wounds as well as bad infections.
At least three Rohingya were wounded by land mines amid accusations that
Myanmar's government had planted new mines along the routes Rohingya are
using to flee. Dozens also have drowned when boats capsized during sea and
Myanmar's authorities said more than a week ago that some 400 people —
mostly described as insurgents — had died in clashes with troops, but it has
offered no updated death toll since.
Rohingya have faced decades of discrimination and persecution in Myanmar and
are denied citizenship despite centuries-olds roots there.
Before Aug. 25, Bangladesh had already been housing some 500,000 Rohingya
who arrived after bloody anti-Muslim rioting in 2012 or amid earlier
persecution drives in Myanmar.
The OIC, in its statement issued Tuesday, called on Muslim countries to work
together to help the Rohingya refugees. It made its decision after an
emergency meeting on the sidelines of a technology conference in Astana,
Associated Press writer Julhas Alam in Dhaka, Bangladesh, contributed to
Aleppo still badly scarred by war, months after rebel defeat
Two officers of the Russian military police
guard in the yard of Aleppo's oldest Umayyad mosque, Syria, Tuesday, Sept.
12, 2017. (AP Photo/Nataliya Vasilyeva)
By Nataliya Vasilyeva, Associated Press
ALEPPO, Syria (AP) — "Aleppo is in my eyes," says a billboard
depicting President Bashar Assad looking out over two men and a boy repaving
the main Saadallah al-Jabiri Square — once a front line in one of the
deadliest episodes of the Syrian civil war.
The recapture of eastern Aleppo in December 2016 was a landmark victory for
Assad's forces in the conflict, now in its seventh year, but it left the
area in ruins.
Eight months later, neighborhood after neighborhood in the formerly
rebel-held sector still look like ghost towns. Only rarely is a family seen
sitting on white plastic chairs outside the rubble.
Life is slowly returning to the desolate streets where shop signs are
covered with dust, where men hawk cigarettes on a street corner and
teenagers sell bananas off a picnic table.
Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights, says thousands of people have returned to their homes in Aleppo —
once Syria's largest city — from camps for the displaced.
Russian troops mediating between the Syrian government and various
opposition factions have helped. The task force's chief in the province,
Maj. Gen. Igor Yemelyanov, said it has helped 3,500 people return to nearby
Although Syrian government-controlled neighborhoods did not see the
destruction and loss of life on a scale comparable to what eastern Aleppo
endured, the seemingly quiet neighborhoods in the west also bear the scars
The third floor of a school in southwestern Aleppo still has no glass after
its window was blown out when a missile landed in a classroom in November
2016. Two students were killed in the classroom, and four died in a
playground under the windows, principal Nakhlya Deri told reporters Tuesday
during a visit arranged by the Russian Defense Ministry.
Residents have been resilient throughout, Deri insisted, describing how the
school kept operating.
"After the attack, we closed down. On the following day, we cleared out the
debris; and on the third day we started working," she said.
Even though the siege of Aleppo ended eight months ago, municipal services
fully restored the electricity supply only last week, said provincial Gov.
Most of the city's power plants were in eastern Aleppo, which was captured
by rebels in 2012 and suffered catastrophic destruction during the battle to
recapture it. For weeks after the fighting ended, electricity was cut off
across the entire city, even in government-held neighborhood.
Moscow intervened in Syria two years ago to help Assad, its longtime ally.
On Tuesday, the Russia military said Syrian troops have liberated about 85
percent of the country's territory from militants.
Russian warplanes have changed the tide of the war, giving Syrian troops and
allied forces an advantage over opposition fighters and militants from the
Islamic State group.
Speaking to reporters at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's Latakia province,
Lt. Gen. Alexander Lapin said the Syrian government still must clear the
militants from the remaining 15 percent — approximately 27,000 square
kilometers (10,425 square miles).
The Syrian troops, with strong support from Iranian-backed ground forces,
have in recent weeks pushed the IS militants out of central Homs province,
near the border with Lebanon, and are now fighting them in the oil-rich Deir
el-Zour province in the east.
Deir el-Zour is the last major IS holdout in Syria. Assad's forces, backed
by Russians air power, broke a nearly 3-year-old siege on the provincial
capital where troops had been encircled by the militants.
Activists said civilians are bearing the brunt of the offensive amid the
intense airstrikes, with IS using them as human shields. A recent overnight
airstrike hit displaced Syrians from Deir el-Zour on the western side of the
Euphrates River, killing at least eight civilians.
The Observatory and Omar Abu Laila, who runs a group that monitors
developments in Deir el-Zour, said Russian airstrikes were suspected.
Russian officials have denied targeting civilians there.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met Tuesday with Assad in the capital
of Damascus and discussed measures to eliminate IS, the Russian Defense
Russia and Syria agreed in August 2015 for Moscow to deploy an air force
contingent and other military assets at the Hemeimeem base, in the heartland
of Assad's Alawite religious minority.
In a matter of weeks, Russia built up the base so it could host dozens of
its warplanes. It delivered thousands of tons of military equipment and
supplies by sea and cargo planes in an operation dubbed the "Syrian
Express." A month later, Russia announced the launch of its air campaign in
Syria, its first military action outside its borders since the collapse of
the former Soviet Union.
Senior Russian military officers and special forces were deployed alongside
Syrian troops, providing training, planning offensives and coordinating
airstrikes. Russia has also deployed its latest weapons to the Syrian
conflict, including state-of-the art Kalibr cruise missiles launched by
Russian strategic bombers, surface ships and submarines, most recently in
Deir el-Zour province last week.
Russia never said how many troops it sent, but turnout figures in voting
from abroad in the 2016 parliamentary elections indicated Russian military
personnel in Syria at the time likely exceeded 4,300. The Russian military
said last week that 34 of its servicemen have been killed in Syria.
Associated Press writers Howard Amos in Moscow and Sarah El Deeb and Bassem
Mroue in Beirut contributed.
Today in History - Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017
Today is Wednesday, Sept. 13, the 256th day of 2017. There are 109 days left
in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On September 13, 1788, the Congress of the Confederation authorized the
first national election, and declared New York City the temporary national
On this date:
In 1759, during the French and Indian War, the British defeated the French
on the Plains of Abraham overlooking Quebec City.
In 1814, during the War of 1812, British naval forces began bombarding Fort
McHenry in Baltimore but were driven back by American defenders in a battle
that lasted until the following morning.
In 1911, the song "Oh, You Beautiful Doll," a romantic rag by Nat D. Ayer
and Seymour Brown, was first published by Jerome H. Remick & Co.
In 1923, Miguel Primo de Rivera, the captain general of Catalonia, seized
power in Spain.
In 1948, Republican Margaret Chase Smith of Maine was elected to the U.S.
Senate; she became the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.
In 1959, Elvis Presley first met his future wife, 14-year-old Priscilla
Beaulieu, while stationed in West Germany with the U.S. Army. (They married
in 1967, but divorced in 1973.)
In 1962, Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett rejected the U.S. Supreme Court's
order for the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith, a black
student, declaring in a televised address, "We will not drink from the cup
In 1971, a four-day inmates' rebellion at the Attica Correctional Facility
in western New York ended as police and guards stormed the prison; the
ordeal and final assault claimed the lives of 32 inmates and 11 hostages.
In 1977, conductor Leopold Stokowski died in Hampshire, England, at age 95.
In 1989, Fay Vincent was elected commissioner of Major League Baseball,
succeeding the late A. Bartlett Giamatti (juh-MAH'-tee).
In 1997, funeral services were held in Calcutta, India, for Nobel peace
laureate Mother Teresa.
In 2002, the earliest known online use of the term "selfie" (a photographic
self-portrait, usually taken with a smartphone) occurred on an Australian
Broadcasting Corp. website forum; it came from a man named Nathan Hope, who
denied coining the term, saying it was "common slang."
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, defending an unpopular war, ordered
gradual reductions in U.S. forces in Iraq and said in a televised address,
"The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home."
Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, the most prominent figure in a U.S.-backed revolt of
Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed by a bomb planted near his
home in Anbar province. The NFL fined New England Patriots coach Bill
Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 for spying on the New York Jets
during a game.
Five years ago: Chanting "death to America," hundreds of protesters angered
by an anti-Islam film stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen's capital
and burned the American flag. New York City's Board of Health passed a ban
on the sale of big sodas and other sugary drinks, limiting the size sold at
restaurants, concession stands and other eateries to 16 ounces.
One year ago: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump rolled out a plan
aimed at making child care more affordable, guaranteeing new mothers six
weeks of paid maternity leave and suggesting new incentives for employees to
provide their workers childcare during a speech in Aston, Pennsylvania.
Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, 93, suffered a major stroke (he died
15 days later).
Today's Birthdays: Actress Barbara Bain is 86. Actress Eileen Fulton (TV:
"As the World Turns") is 84. Actor Joe E. Tata is 81. TV producer Fred
Silverman is 80. Rock singer David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat & Tears) is
76. Actress Jacqueline Bisset is 73. Singer Peter Cetera is 73. Actress
Christine Estabrook is 67. Actress Jean Smart is 66. Singer Randy Jones (The
Village People) is 65. Record producer Don Was is 65. Actor Isiah Whitlock
Jr. is 63.
Actress-comedian Geri Jewell is 61. Country singer Bobbie Cryner is 56. Rock
singer-musician Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) is 56. Radio-TV personality Tavis
Smiley is 53. Rock musician Zak Starkey is 52. Actor Louis Mandylor is 51.
Olympic gold medal runner Michael Johnson is 50. Rock musician Steve Perkins
is 50. Actor Roger Howarth is 49. Actor Dominic Fumusa is 48. Actress Louise
Lombard is 47. Tennis player Goran Ivanisevic is 46. Country singer Aaron
Benward (Blue County) is 44. Country musician Joe Don Rooney (Rascal Flatts)
is 42. Actor Scott Vickaryous is 42. Singer Fiona Apple is 40. Contemporary
Christian musician Hector Cervantes (Casting Crowns) is 37. Former MLB
pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is 37. Actor Ben Savage is 37. Rock singer Niall
Horan (One Direction) is 24. Actor Mitch Holleman is 22. Actress Lili
Reinhart (TV: "Riverdale") is 21.
Thought for Today: "Better to be without logic than without feeling." —
Charlotte Bronte (BRAWN'-tee), English author (1816-1855).
Update September 12, 2017
UN approves watered-down new sanctions against North Korea
Members of Korea Freedom Federation shout
slogans during a rally to denounce North Korea's nuclear test in Seoul,
South Korea, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Monday unanimously
approved new sanctions on North Korea but not the toughest-ever measures
sought by the Trump administration to ban all oil imports and freeze
international assets of the government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.
The resolution, responding to Pyongyang's sixth and strongest nuclear test
explosion on Sept. 3, does ban North Korea from importing all natural gas
liquids and condensates. It also bans all textile exports and prohibits any
country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers — two key
sources of hard currency for the northeast Asian nation.
As for energy, it caps Pyongyang's imports of crude oil at the level of the
last 12 months, and it limits the import of refined petroleum products to 2
million barrels a year.
The watered-down resolution does not include sanctions that the U.S. wanted
on North Korea's national airline and the army.
Nonetheless, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council after the vote
that "these are by far the strongest measures ever imposed on North Korea."
But she stressed that "these steps only work if all nations implement them
completely and aggressively."
Haley noted that the council was meeting on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11
terrorist attack. In a clear message to North Korean threats to attack the
U.S., she said: "We will never forget the lesson that those who have evil
intentions must be confronted."
"Today we are saying the world will never accept a nuclear armed North
Korea," she said. "We are done trying to prod the regime to do the right
thing" and instead are taking steps to prevent it "from doing the wrong
Haley said the U.S. doesn't take pleasure in strengthening sanctions and
reiterated that the U.S. does not want war.
"The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return," she
said. "If it agrees to stop its nuclear program it can reclaim its future.
If it proves it can live in peace, the world will live in peace with it. ...
If North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further
The final agreement was reached after negotiations between the U.S. and
China, the North's ally and major trading partner. Haley said the resolution
never would have happened without the "strong relationship" between
President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
But its provisions are a significant climb-down from the very tough
sanctions the Trump administration proposed last Tuesday, especially on oil,
where a complete ban could have crippled North Korea's economy.
The cap on the import of petroleum products could have an impact, but North
Korea will still be able to import the same amount of crude oil that it has
The textile ban is significant. Textiles are North Korea's main source of
export revenue after coal, iron, seafood and other minerals that have
already been severely restricted by previous U.N. resolutions. North Korean
textile exports in 2016 totaled $752.5 million, accounting for about
one-fourth of its total $3 billion in merchandise exports, according to
South Korean government figures.
Haley said the Trump administration believes the new sanctions combined with
previous measures would ban over 90 percent of North Korea's exports
reported in 2016.
As for North Koreans working overseas, the U.S. mission said a cutoff on new
work permits will eventually cost North Korea about $500 million a year once
current work permits expire. The U.S. estimates about 93,000 North Koreans
are working abroad, the U.S. official said.
The original U.S. draft would have ordered all countries to impose an asset
freeze and travel ban on Kim Jong Un and four other top party and government
officials. The resolution adopted Monday adds only one person to the
sanctions list — Pak Yong Sik, a member of the Workers' Party of Korea
Central Military Commission, which controls the country's military and helps
direct its military industries.
The original U.S. draft would also have frozen the assets of North Korea's
state-owned airline Air Koryo, the Korean People's Army and five other
powerful military and party entities. The resolution adds only the Central
Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea and the party's powerful
Organization and Guidance Department and its Propaganda and Agitation
Department to the sanctions blacklist.
North Korea's Foreign Ministry issued a statement early Monday saying it was
watching the United States' moves closely and warned that it was "ready and
willing" to respond with measures of its own. It said the U.S. would pay a
heavy price if the sanctions proposed by Washington are adopted.
Britain's U.N. ambassador, Matthew Rycroft, told reporters who questioned
the watering down of the initial U.S. text that "there is a significant
prize in keeping the whole of the Security Council united."
Rycroft called the resolution "a very significant set of additional
sanctions," declaring that "we are tightening the screw, and we stand
prepared to tighten it further."
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said, "We are facing not a regional but
a global threat, not a virtual but an immediate threat, not a serious but an
"Make no mistake about it," he said, "our firmness today is our best
antidote to the risk of war, to the risk of confrontation, and our firmness
today is our best tool for a political solution tomorrow."
China and Russia had called for a resolution focused on a political solution
to the escalating crisis over North Koreas nuclear program. They have
proposed a freeze-for-freeze that would halt North Korean nuclear and
missile tests in exchange for the U.S. and South Korea stopping their joint
military exercises — but the Trump administration has rejected that.
China's U.N. ambassador, Liu Jieyi, said Beijing has been making
"unremitting efforts" to denuclearize and maintain peace and stability on
the Korean Peninsula.
Liu again urged the council to adopt the freeze-for-freeze proposal and said
talks with North Korea are needed "sooner rather than later." He expressed
hope that the United States will pledge not to seek regime change or North
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia went further, making clear that while
Russia supported the resolution, it wasn't entirely satisfied with the
He said the "unwillingness" of the U.S. to reaffirm pledges not to seek
regime change or war in North Korea or to include the idea of having U.N.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres use his good offices to try to resolve
the dispute "gives rise to very serious questions in our minds."
"We're convinced that diverting the gathering menace from the Korean
Peninsula could be done not through further and further sanctions, but by
political means," he said.
The resolution does add new language urging "further work to reduce tensions
so as to advance the prospects for a comprehensive settlement." It retains
language reaffirming support for long-stalled six-party talks with that goal
involving North Korea, the U.S., Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the council's "firm action"
to send a clear message to North Korea that it must comply with its
international obligations, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Guterres also reaffirmed his commitment to work with all parties to reduce
tensions and promote a peaceful political solution "and to strengthening
communications channels," Dujarric said.
Associated Press writers Christopher Bodeen in Beijing, Matthew Pennington
in Washington and Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this report.
UK lawmakers back key Brexit bill, but fight still looms
A pro-remain supporter of Britain staying in the
EU, wears an EU flag mask whilst taking part in an anti-Brexit protest
outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (AP
By Jill Lawless, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers voted a key Brexit bill past its first
big hurdle in Parliament early Tuesday. But many legislators branded the
bill a government power grab, and vowed to change it before it becomes law.
After a debate that stretched past midnight, the House of Commons backed the
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill by a vote of 326 to 290. That means
lawmakers approve the bill in principle, but the government will now face
attempts to amend it before a final vote later this year.
A key plank in the Conservative government's Brexit plans, the bill aims to
convert thousands of EU laws and regulations into U.K. domestic laws on the
day Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the measure provides "certainty and clarity"
ahead of the divorce. Brexit Secretary David Davis said that without it, the
U.K. faces "a chaotic exit from the European Union."
But the opposition says it would give the government dangerous new powers to
amend laws without parliamentary scrutiny.
Since Britain joined the EU in 1973, thousands of EU laws and regulations
have come to operate in the U.K., covering everything from environmental
protection to employment rules.
Justice Secretary David Lidington told lawmakers that the bill is needed to
ensure Britain has "a functioning and coherent statute book and regulatory
system the day we leave."
It calls for incorporating all EU laws into U.K. statutes so they can then
be kept, amended or scrapped by Britain's Parliament. The government says
that will fulfill the promise of anti-EU campaigners during last year's
referendum to "take back control" of the country from Brussels to London.
Critics say the bill gives the government too much power, because it allows
ministers to fix "deficiencies" in EU law without the parliamentary scrutiny
usually needed to make or amend legislation. Such measures are often
referred to as "Henry VIII powers" after the 16th century king's bid to
legislate by proclamation.
Opponents worry the government could use the powers to water down
environmental standards, employment regulations or human rights protections.
Labour Party lawmaker Chris Bryant said the bill "pretends to bring back
power to this country, but it actually represents the biggest peacetime
power grab by the executive over the legislature, by the government over
Parliament, in 100 years."
Members of Labour, the main opposition party, were ordered by their leader
to vote against the bill. A few rebelled or abstained, wary of being seen as
trying to frustrate voters' decision to leave the EU.
Pro-EU lawmakers from the governing Conservatives largely backed the bill,
saying they would try to amend it at the forthcoming committee stage.
The government needs to pass the bill to keep its Brexit plans on track. It
has been almost 15 months since Britain voted to leave the 28-nation bloc,
and nearly six months since the government triggered the two-year countdown
Since then, negotiations between Britain and the EU have made little
progress on key issues including the status of the Ireland-Northern Ireland
border and the amount Britain must pay to settle its financial commitments
to the bloc.
May's authority took a battering when she called a snap election in June
seeking to increase her majority in Parliament and strengthen her
negotiating hand. The move backfired when voters stripped the Conservatives
of their majority, leaving May reliant on support from a small Northern
Ireland party to govern.
Opposition lawmakers, backed by some Conservatives, say they will try to
amend the bill at the next stage, when it receives line-by-line scrutiny
before a final vote.
Conservative lawmakers signaled that the government would likely agree to
water down the contentious Henry VIII powers.
Edward Leigh, a Conservative who backs Brexit, said the government should
"be generous ... accept some of the amendments" proposed by lawmakers.
Rogue Korean child-monitoring app is back, researchers say
In this May 15, 2015 file photo, a promotional
banner of mobile apps that block harmful contents, is posted on the door at
a mobile store in Seoul, South Korea. The banner reads: "Young smartphone
users, you must install apps that block harmful content."(AP Photo/Lee
By Youkyung Lee, Raphael Satter, Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean child-monitoring smartphone
app that was removed from the market in 2015 after it was found to be
riddled with security flaws has been reissued under a new name and still
puts children at risk, researchers said Monday.
The app "Cyber Security Zone" is part of government efforts to curb what
authorities consider excessive cellphone use by young people. Parents are
required by law to install monitoring software on smartphones for all
children 18 and under.
The app is almost identical to a previous system, "Smart Sheriff," which
left children's private information vulnerable to hackers, according to
internet watchdog Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. Both were
developed under the auspices of MOIBA, the industry association for South
Korean cellphone service providers.
"The flaws in the apps open the door to possible breaches of sensitive
information including passwords, phone numbers, and other user data,"
Citizen Lab said in a statement.
"Smart Sheriff" was one of a family of apps intended to monitor children's
online behavior. Some, like Smart Sheriff, act as filtering or blocking
tools, while others send alerts to parents if children swear or talk about
sex or bullying.
The apps have raised privacy activists' hackles, but experts have also been
scathing about their lack of security. Cure53, a German auditing firm, said
in 2015 that Smart Sheriff was "fundamentally broken."
Citizen Lab and Cure53 now say the app appears to have been rebranded as
"Cyber Security Zone" — the equivalent of putting a fresh coat of paint on a
dangerous old clunker.
"Users are being misled," said the Citizen Lab report.
MOIBA denied the two systems were the same and an official of the group said
a review by the government's Korean Internet & Security Agency found
security for "Cyber Security Zone" satisfactory.
"We cannot agree to the opinion that the application was not developed with
security in mind," said the official, Noh Yong-lae.
Noh said MOIBA cut ties with the developer of "Smart Sheriff" and hired
another company to update and develop apps.
KISA officials who looked at the Citizen Lab report said their agency's
audit failed to catch at least one security lapse: the app's developer had
not encrypted a key to the password. That stemmed from the app's design.
"They should not have built the app this way," said Kim Chan-il, a KISA
manager. He said the government and MOIBA should make sure to hire
developers who pay attention to security and have enough time to build an
An audit by KISA "does not guarantee security against all weaknesses," Kim
Rates of smartphone and internet use in South Korea are among the world's
highest. The government operates filters to block access to pro-North Korean
websites and material deemed pornographic.
South Korean authorities believe monitoring and censoring children's
smartphone use is part of the state's duty to protect teenagers against
harmful content such as pornography.
There is broad public support for the government to stop online behavior
that is deemed to be an addiction. The government spends public money to
help users break habits of excessive computer gaming and internet use.
The backlash to "Smart Sheriff" prompted the government to ease enforcement
by proposing a bill in parliament that would allow parents to opt out of
installing a monitoring device.
The proposal "shows the government acknowledges its original position was
wrong, but it's not enough," said Kelly Kim, general counsel at OpenNet
Korea, a civic group, who co-authored the Citizen Lab report. "The mandate
is unconstitutional and should be abolished."
The child surveillance apps are part of a "clean internet" campaign launched
by the government with MOIBA since 2013. MOIBA received nearly 963 million
won ($853,000) this year for the campaign.
The South Korean telecom regulator, Korea Communications Commission, has
promoted the two apps developed by MOIBA among teachers, parents and
Despite that, the app has received many negative reviews. The children's
version has been downloaded about 6,000 times and the parent version about
A commission official, Kwon Man-sub, said if new security risks are found,
the government is willing to review them.
"By law, we have a duty to protect juveniles," Kwon said.
Satter reported from Paris.
Citizen Lab's report: https://netalert.me/safer-without.html
Australian to soon post ballots in gay marriage survey
A sample of the postal ballot on legalizing gay
marriage is shown in Sydney, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick
By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australians begin receiving their postal
ballots on legalizing gay marriage from Tuesday as a new opinion poll showed
that most of those who intend to vote are in favor of marriage equality.
More than 16 million registered voters among Australia's population of 24
million will receive ballots in the coming days requesting their opinion on
whether same-sex couples should be allowed to wed.
An Ipsos poll published in Fairfax Media newspapers on Tuesday found 65
percent of respondents said they were certain to take part in the survey.
Of those certain to post their ballot papers back, 70 percent said they
would support gay marriage.
If the postal survey finds most Australians want gay marriage, the
Parliament will vote by December on legislation to lift the prohibition on
gay marriage. But several lawmakers have said they would vote against gay
marriage regardless of public opinion.
The Ipsos poll was based on a survey of 1,400 voters between Wednesday and
Saturday last week. It had a 2.6 percentage point margin of error.
The result was consistent with previous polls in recent years which have
shown around two-thirds of Australians support gay marriage.
But a similar proportion also want legal protections for churches' rights to
refuse to marry same-sex couples and to teach that marriage should be
between a man and woman.
Critics of the government's approach have argued that the public should see
how these rights would be protected in proposed legislation before they
decide whether gay marriage should go ahead.
But the government refuses to release a draft bill until after the survey
decides whether the Parliament will consider any bill.
Conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and center-left Labor Party
opposition leader Bill Shorten are both campaigning for law reform.
But two past conservative prime ministers, Tony Abbott, who remains a
government lawmaker, and John Howard, both oppose the change.
Today in History - Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017
Today is Tuesday, Sept. 12, the 255th day of 2017. There are 110 days left
in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On September 12, 1942, during World War II, a German U-boat off West Africa
torpedoed the RMS Laconia, which was carrying Italian prisoners of war,
British soldiers and civilians; it's estimated more than 1,600 people died
while some 1,100 survived after the ship sank. The German crew, joined by
other U-boats, began rescue operations. (On September 16, the rescue effort
came to an abrupt halt when the Germans were attacked by a U.S. Army bomber;
as a result, U-boat commanders were ordered to no longer rescue civilian
survivors of submarine attacks.)
On this date:
In 1814, the Battle of North Point took place in Maryland during the War of
1812 as American forces slowed British troops advancing on Baltimore.
In 1846, Elizabeth Barrett secretly married Robert Browning at St.
Marylebone Church in London.
In 1914, during World War I, the First Battle of the Marne ended in an
Allied victory against Germany.
In 1938, Adolf Hitler demanded the right of self-determination for the
Sudeten (soo-DAYT'-un) Germans in Czechoslovakia.
In 1944, the Second Quebec Conference opened with President Franklin D.
Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in attendance.
In 1953, Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier
(boo-vee-AY') in Newport, Rhode Island.
In 1960, Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy addressed
questions about his Roman Catholic faith, telling the Greater Houston
Ministerial Association, "I do not speak for my church on public matters,
and the church does not speak for me."
In 1974, Emperor Haile Selassie (HY'-lee sehl-AH'-see) was deposed by
Ethiopia's military after ruling for 58 years.
In 1977, South African black student leader and anti-apartheid activist
Steve Biko (BEE'-koh), 30, died while in police custody, triggering an
In 1986, Joseph Cicippio (sih-SIHP'-ee-oh), the acting comptroller at the
American University in Beirut, was kidnapped (he was released in December
In 1987, reports surfaced that Democratic presidential candidate Joseph
Biden had borrowed, without attribution, passages of a speech by British
Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock (KIHN'-ik) for one of his own campaign
speeches. (The Kinnock report, along with other damaging revelations,
prompted Biden to drop his White House bid.)
In 1992, the space shuttle Endeavour blasted off, carrying with it Mark Lee
and Jan Davis, the first married couple in space; Mae Jemison, the first
black woman in space; and Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese national to fly
on a U.S. spaceship. Police in Peru captured Shining Path founder Abimael
Guzman. Actor Anthony Perkins died in Hollywood at age 60.
Ten years ago: Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced long-serving Prime
Minister Mikhail Fradkov with an obscure Cabinet official, Viktor Zubkov.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh ah-bay) announced his
Five years ago: The U.S. dispatched an elite group of Marines to Tripoli,
Libya, after the mob attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and
three other Americans. President Barack Obama strongly condemned the
violence, and vowed to bring the killers to justice; Republican challenger
Mitt Romney accused the administration of showing weakness in the face of
tumultuous events in the Middle East.
One year ago: Striking a conciliatory tone after an Oval Office sitdown,
President Barack Obama and the top Senate Republican declared themselves
hopeful that an agreement could be reached to keep the government running
and to provide money to take care of the worsening Zika crisis. Two men
disrupted a live broadcast of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" by rushing onto
the stage to protest Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte's presence on the show.
(Lochte and his swimming teammates faced criticism since they were involved
in an early-morning drunken encounter at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro,
Today's Birthdays: Actor Freddie Jones is 90. Composer Harvey Schmidt ("The
Fantasticks") is 88. Actor Ian Holm is 86. Former U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman,
D-Calif., is 78. Actress Linda Gray is 77. Singer Maria Muldaur is 75. Actor
Joe Pantoliano is 66. Singer-musician Gerry Beckley (America) is 65.
Original MTV VJ Nina Blackwood is 65. Rock musician Neil Peart (Rush) is 65.
Actor Peter Scolari is 62. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is 61. Actress Rachel
Ward is 60. Actress Amy Yasbeck is 55. Rock musician Norwood Fisher
(Fishbone) is 52. Actor Darren E. Burrows is 51. Rock singer-musician Ben
Folds (Ben Folds Five) is 51. Actor-comedian Louis C.K. is 50. Rock musician
Larry LaLonde (Primus) is 49. Golfer Angel Cabrera is 48. Actor-singer Will
Chase is 47.
Actor Josh Hopkins is 47. Country singer Jennifer Nettles is 43. Actress
Lauren Stamile (stuh'-MEE'-lay) is 41. Rapper 2 Chainz is 40. Actor Ben
McKenzie is 39. Singer Ruben Studdard is 39. Basketball Hall of Fame player
Yao Ming is 37. Singer-actress Jennifer Hudson is 36. Actor Alfie Allen is
31. Actress Emmy Rossum is 31. Country singer Kelsea Ballerini is 24. Actor
Colin Ford is 21.
Thought for Today: "Find the good. It's all around you. Find it, showcase it
and you'll start believing it." — Jesse Owens, Olympic gold medal track and
field athlete (born this date in 1913, died in 1980).