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Update August, 2019


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Afghanistan vows to crush Islamic State havens after attack

In this photo released by the Afghan Presidential Palace, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inspects the honor guard during Independence Day celebrations at Defense Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. (Afghan Presidential Palace via AP)

By RAHIM FAIEZ

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's president on Monday vowed to "eliminate" all safe havens of the Islamic State group as the country marked a subdued 100th Independence Day after a horrific wedding attack claimed by the local IS affiliate.

President Ashraf Ghani's comments came as Afghanistan mourns at least 63 people, including children, killed in the Kabul bombing at a wedding hall late Saturday night. Close to 200 others were wounded. Fresh violence was reported Monday as an Afghan official said at least 66 people were wounded in a series of explosions in the eastern city of Jalalabad. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Many outraged Afghans are asking whether an approaching deal between the United States and the Taliban to end nearly 18 years of fighting — America's longest war — will bring peace to long-suffering civilians. The wedding hall bomber detonated his explosives in the middle of a dancing crowd, and the IS affiliate later said he had targeted a gathering of minority Shiites, whom it views as apostates deserving of death.

Both the bride and groom survived, and in an emotional interview with local broadcaster TOLOnews the distraught groom, Mirwais Alani, said their lives were devastated within seconds. Even as victims' loved ones mourned, there were fears that funerals and memorials could also be targeted.

A sharply worded Taliban statement questioned why the U.S. failed to identify Saturday's attacker in advance. Another Taliban statement marking the independence day said to "leave Afghanistan to the Afghans."

More than anything in their nearly year-long negotiations with the U.S., the Taliban want some 20,000 U.S. and allied forces to withdraw from the country. The U.S. for its part wants Taliban assurances that Afghanistan — which hosted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden before 9/11 — will not be a launching pad for global terror attacks.

The U.S. envoy in talks with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Sunday said the peace process should be accelerated to help Afghanistan defeat the IS affiliate. That would include intra-Afghan talks on the country's future, a fraught process that could take years.

But Ghani on Monday asserted that the Taliban, whom the U.S. now hopes will help to curb the IS affiliate's rise, are just as much to blame for the wedding attack. His government is openly frustrated at being sidelined from the U.S. talks with the insurgent group, which regards the Afghan government as a U.S. puppet.

The Taliban "have created the platform for terrorists" with their own brutal assaults on schools, mosques and other public places over the years, the president said.

More than 32,000 civilians in Afghanistan have been killed in the past decade, the United Nations said earlier this year. More children were killed last year — 927 — than in any other over the past decade by all actors, the U.N. said, including in operations against insurgent hideouts carried out by international forces.

Details have yet to emerge on Monday's blasts in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, where both the Taliban and the IS affiliate are active. Noor Ahmad Habibi, deputy spokesman for the provincial governor, said some 10 explosions took place and that most people had minor injuries. And in the capital of neighboring Laghman province, Miterlam, governor's spokesman Asadullah Dawlatzai said a mortar attack by the Taliban slightly wounded six people.

"We will take revenge for every civilian drop of blood," Afghanistan's president declared. "Our struggle will continue against (IS), we will take revenge and will root them out." He urged the international community to join those efforts.

Ghani asserted that safe havens for militants are across the border in Pakistan, whose intelligence service has long been accused of supporting the Taliban. The IS affiliate's claim of the wedding attack said it was carried out by a Pakistani fighter seeking martyrdom.

Ghani also called on people in Pakistan "who very much want peace" to help identify militant safe havens there.

Last month after meeting with President Donald Trump, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan insisted he will do his best to persuade the Taliban to open negotiations with the Afghan government to resolve the war.

Trump on Sunday told reporters he doesn't want Afghanistan to be a "laboratory for terror" and he described discussions with the Taliban as "good." He was briefed on Friday on the progress of the U.S.-Taliban talks, of which few details have emerged.

Some analysts have warned that Trump's eagerness to bring at least some troops home ahead of next year's election could be weakening the U.S. stance in the negotiations as the Taliban might see little need to make significant concessions.

In a message marking Afghanistan's independence and "century of resilience," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the weekend wedding bombing "an attack against humanity." It was one of many international expressions of condemnation pouring in following the attack.


US extends 90 days limited reprieve on Huawei technology ban

In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross attends a meeting of the 17th Latin American Infrastructure Leadership Forum, in Brasilia, Brazil. The U.S. government gave chipmakers and technology companies a 90-day extension to sell products to technology giant Huawei. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday that the United States will extend by 90 days a limited reprieve on U.S. technology sales to Huawei.

The U.S. government blacklisted the Chinese technology giant in May, deeming it a national security risk and restricting sales of U.S. technology to it.

But it granted a limited temporary reprieve to support existing equipment and ease the burden on U.S. rural internet and wireless companies. That reprieve would have expired Monday, had Ross not issued the extension.

The extension was announced a day after President Donald Trump said the U.S. shouldn't be doing business with Huawei.

Ross' comments Monday morning sent shares of U.S. computer chip makers higher.

But Ross also announced that the U.S. was adding 46 Huawei affiliates to the list of 69 already affected by sanctions. He also said the U.S. has granted no special licenses that would let any U.S. supplier sell technology to Huawei not affected by the limited reprieve.

Huawei is China's biggest phone maker, and sales to the company account for a significant portion of revenues for some U.S. suppliers.

Ross said the main aim of Monday's announcement is to give the U.S. companies that rely on Huawei more time to transition away from reliance on its products.

"Some of the rural companies are dependent on Huawei, so we're giving them a little more time to wean themselves off," Ross said during an interview with Fox Business Network.


Thousands flee from 'monster' wildfire on Canary Islands

A helicopter operates over a wildfire in Canary Islands, Spain, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Arturo Jimenez)

By BARRY HATTON

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — An out-of-control wildfire in Spain's Canary Islands was throwing flames 50 meters (160 feet) into the air on Monday, forcing emergency workers to evacuate more than 9,000 people, authorities said.

The blaze — described by the local fire department as "a monster" — was racing across parched woodlands into Tamadaba Natural Park, regarded as one of the jewels on Gran Canaria, a mountainous volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago off northwest Africa.

Famous for its beaches and mountains, Gran Canaria and its capital, Las Palmas, are popular European vacation destinations but the blaze was in a rugged inland area. No hotels were reported evacuated.

Canary Islands President ┴ngel VÝctor Torres said 1,100 firefighters were being deployed in shifts along with 16 water-dropping aircraft to battle the blaze that started Saturday afternoon. The local government said around 6,000 hectares (14,800 acres) had been charred in just 48 hours, villages were evacuated and two dozen roads were closed.

Emergency workers faced huge flames and gusting winds that blew embers into the air, starting secondary fires, local fire officials said. Summer temperatures Monday were expected to hit 36 degrees Celsius (nearly 97 degrees Fahrenheit) and build to 38 C (100 F) later this week.

The Spanish caretaker government's farm minister, Luis Planas, told a news conference in Las Palmas that Madrid sent a "cutting-edge" drone to the island that can livestream images of the fire at night. One aircraft on Gran Canaria also coordinated aviation movements to prevent an accident in the busy skies, he said.

Planas said the official response to the fire on Gran Canaria was one of the greatest firefighting deployments recently in all of Spain.

Gran Canaria is the third-largest island in the Canary Islands archipelago, which is 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Africa. About 50 kilometers (31 miles) in diameter, Gran Canaria has a population of 850,000.

Wildfires are common in southern Europe during the parched summer months but changing lifestyles and the emptying out of rural areas have made woodlands more vulnerable, experts say.

Gran Canaria emergency chief Frederico Grillo said recent blazes on the island are much worse now than when families worked in the countryside and kept the forests more orderly, private news agency Europa Press reported.

He said if the island's entire annual budget was used for forest fire prevention, it would only be possible to clear brush from 30% of its woodlands and there would still be large amounts of inaccessible areas due to the island's steep mountains and deep ravines.


Florida's iconic palm trees threatened by invasive disease

In this July 1, 2015 file photo, Marvin Hernandez, right, and Kelly Vera sit in the shade of a palm tree, in Key Biscayne, Fla.  (AP Photo/J Pat Carter, File)

By TERRY SPENCER Associated Press

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Florida's iconic palm trees are under attack from a fatal disease that turns them to dried crisps in months, with no chance for recovery once they become ill.

Spread by a rice-sized, plant-hopping insect, lethal bronzing has gone from a small infestation on Florida's Gulf Coast to a nearly statewide problem in just over a decade. Tens of thousands of palm trees have died from the bacterial disease, and the pace of its spread is increasing, adding to environmental woes of a state already struggling to save its other arboreal icon, citrus trees, from two other diseases.

Florida's official state tree — the tall, broad-leafed sabal palm — is especially susceptible and Florida nurseries, businesses and homeowners are taking a financial hit as they scrap infected palms. Some preventive measures can be taken, but once infected, uprooting the tree is the only practical solution.

"Getting this disease under control is essential because it has the potential to drastically modify our landscape," said Brian Bahder, an entomologist who studies insect-borne plant diseases and is a leader in the state's battle against lethal bronzing.

If nothing is done, Bahder said, "I don't think all the palm trees will die, but the issue we see will get a lot worse before it gets better."

Lethal bronzing, which experts say likely originated in Mexico, also is found in parts of Texas and throughout the Caribbean. Some worry it will migrate to California and Arizona, infecting date palms and damaging that fruit crop. The disease has already heavily damaged Jamaica's coconut plantations, and Brazil is taking preventive measures to avoid invasion.

Coincidentally — but conveniently — lethal bronzing is attacking palms right outside Bahder's office at the University of Florida's agriculture research station near Fort Lauderdale. Some are dying, some are dead. This gives him a lab to test ideas and make presentations, so he is not removing infected trees as recommended.

"To understand the disease, I need to watch it spread and see what it is doing," said Bahder, an assistant professor with UF.

Lethal bronzing's first Florida appearance came near Tampa in 2006, but it's now found from the Keys in the south to Jacksonville in the north. The disease is transmitted solely by the haplaxius crudus, a tiny winged insect sometimes called the American palm cixiid or, generically, a treehopper. These specific treehoppers (there are other kinds) inject the bacteria through their saliva when feasting on the sap from a palm's leaves. Any palm cixiid that later feeds from the tree will pick up the infection and pass the bacteria to more palms.

Once inside a tree, the bacteria migrate to its base, multiplying until they clog the circulatory system — much like human arteries getting blocked by fat and cholesterol. The blockage makes it impossible for the tree's cells to get sufficient nutrients and sugars, starving them. As an infected tree dies, its fronds and central spear leaf transform from green to a tell-tale shade of bronze as it succumbs in about six months. The disease doesn't infect humans or animals.

Genetic testing shows lethal bronzing likely originated in Mexico's Yucatan region. Bahder's hypothesis is that 2005's Hurricane Wilma, which tracked from the Yucatan to Florida, or a storm with a similar path carried infected treehoppers across the gulf to Tampa. Those insects infected area palms, which infected native treehoppers. The disease spread when winds blew infected bugs to new territories or they hitched rides on vehicles. Bahder said the palm cixiid is particularly attracted to white cars.

To check the spread, the state agriculture department regularly inspects palm nurseries and certifies those found free of the disease. If infected trees are discovered, they're destroyed and the nursery's remaining trees are quarantined for at least six weeks. Calls to about a dozen palm tree farms around the state weren't returned — Bahder said it is a problem owners don't like to discuss publicly, fearing it will hurt business.

Eric Muecke, Tampa's urban forestry manager, said the city has had success containing the disease by keeping its palms healthy and surrounding more susceptible palm varieties with trees that don't attract the bacteria-spreading bugs.

"It's not like it marches through a tree population — you don't see one dead tree after another," Muecke said. "It hops around; it's pretty sporadic."

Brent Gaffney, a Gainesville landscaper, said Bahder's research is the state's best hope for containing the disease, but only if he gets enough funding. Studies are underway on whether massive doses of antibiotics can save trees in the infection's early stages.

After infected trees are removed, nearby palms need preventive antibiotic injections to halt the spread. Each injection costs $50 and loses effectiveness after three months: that makes injections before the disease is present too costly for most homeowners, businesses and municipal governments, Bahder said. Only high-end resorts that use mature palms to enhance ambience might consider injecting trees without a nearby infection, he said.

Lethal bronzing is sometimes called "Texas Phoenix palm decline" because it appeared in that state in the late 1970s, killing trees in the Rio Grande Valley around Brownsville. That state's agriculture department says outbreaks today are infrequent and isolated. But Bahder said global warming is widening the threat.

"With increased human movement around the region and, especially, stronger weather patterns in regards to climate change, there are more possible routes for invasive insects," Bahder said.


Where was Woodstock held? 5 myths about the famous festival

 

In this Aug. 15, 1969 file photo, concert goers abandon their trucks, cars and buses as thousands try to reach the Woodstock Music and Art Festival at White Lake in Bethel, N.Y. (AP Photo)

By Michael Hill Associated Press

Woodstock is surrounded by myths, legends and misperceptions. Here's the real story about five of them.

1. WOODSTOCK WAS NOT HELD AT WOODSTOCK

It made sense that co-organizer Michael Lang wanted to have the concert in Woodstock. The Catskill Mountains town was already known for being an artists' colony and Bob Dylan's rural hideaway. But key people in the town wanted no part of the concert. The festival was going to be held a bit south of Woodstock at an old industrial site in Wallkill, New York. But those plans fell through about a month before the show, sending Lang scrambling to find a new site. He was driving through farm country in Bethel, New York, when he spied a gently sloping alfalfa field. He struck a deal with the farmer, Max Yasgur.

2. THE NEW YORK STATE THRUWAY STAYED OPEN

"The New York State Thruway is closed, man," Arlo Guthrie famously announced from the festival stage. Not exactly. Police closed at least one thruway exit east of the festival to stem the source of a blockbuster traffic jam around the site. How bad were the roads? The New York Daily News reported on Aug. 16, 1969, that cars were being delayed by as much as eight hours between New York City and the concert site — a distance of less than 100 miles.

3. BABIES WERE (SORT OF) BORN AT WOODSTOCK

This one could be true depending on how you define "at Woodstock." The concert's medical director told reporters at the scene of the festival that there were two births: one at a local hospital after the mother was flown out by helicopter; the other in a car caught in traffic. Wade Lawrence, the director of what is now the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts at the festival site, recently confirmed the helicopter story with the medevac pilot, who said the mother gave birth at the hospital.

4. MAX YASGUR WAS NOT A COUNTRY BUMPKIN

Yasgur told the young crowd massed on his field he was a farmer not used to speaking to groups. Self-deprecation aside, he ran a large dairy operation with a large herd, trucks and its own plant. Nephew Marty Miller said that he warned his uncle months earlier that Woodstock's organizers might come knocking, and that Yasgur was ready when it happened. Lang in his memoir describes Yasgur as a "sharp guy." Miller said that beyond rent money, Yasgur benefited from improvements to the field, such as wells.  "Max was an astute businessman, very sharp. He was nobody's fool," Miller said.

5. WOODSTOCK WAS NOT EXACTLY THREE DAYS OF PEACE AND MUSIC

The famous concert poster with a bird perched on a guitar neck advertised "three days of peace and music," spanning from Aug. 15-17. There was undisputedly music at Woodstock, and many attendees reportedly spent the weekend blissed out. But Woodstock lasted more than three days. Thanks to delays, it bled into the morning of Aug. 18. Jimi Hendrix came on stage after the sun came up, after a large portion of the crowd had left.


India sees once-off-limits Kashmir as investment frontier

In this March 10, 2015 file photo, the sun peeks through a gap between clouds and a mountain as Kashmiri fishermen row their boats on their way home after working in Dal Lake in Srinagar, in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Kashmir’s pristine Alpine landscape, ski resorts, lake houseboat stays and uninterrupted acres of apple orchards have long made it a global tourist draw. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin, File)

By Emily Schmall Associated Press

New Delhi (AP) — Indian authorities have characterized their surprise move to strip Jammu and Kashmir's special constitutional status as freeing the disputed Himalayan territory from the bonds that kept it from realizing its economic potential.

But the argument is flawed. The region already outperforms India on measures such as life expectancy, literacy and poverty, and its economy has been growing steadily this decade, despite frequent skirmishes between militants and security forces that have temporarily halted commercial activity.

Where the restive region has fallen behind other Indian states is with private investment, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders of his Hindu nationalist government have made it clear that at least one of their goals in asserting more control over Kashmir is in making it a new frontier for growth as India's overall economy experiences a slowdown.

For decades, a separatist movement has fought Indian rule in Kashmir, which is split between Pakistan and India and claimed by both in its entirety. Some 70,000 people have died in clashes between militants and civilian protesters and Indian security forces since 1989. Most Kashmiris want either independence or a merger with Pakistan, which is India's bitter rival.

Modi's government last week revoked Article 370 of India's Constitution, which dates to shortly after independence from British rule. It gave Kashmir a greater degree of legislative autonomy and kept outsiders from buying land or holding public sector jobs. Indian lawmakers also stripped Kashmir's statehood, splitting it into two federal territories: Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The authorities argued that Kashmir's special status had cultivated a sense of separatism that was easy for Pakistan to exploit but made investing difficult. Home Minister Amit Shah said doing away with the special provisions would "kick start" regional development.

Shah and others have said the central government has given $44 billion to the region for economic development in recent years, but that much of it has been squandered by corrupt politicians.

"The revocation helps break the monopoly that was set by the previous lawmakers of Kashmir," he said. "Industry, health care and education in Kashmir was stalled due to Article 370," Shah said.

Whether a majority of Kashmiris agreed remained unclear Monday, the eighth consecutive day of an unprecedented security lockdown and near-total communications blackout in the predominantly Muslim valley of 4 million people. Schools and businesses are closed and public assembly is banned, conditions that are expected to last through India's independence day on Friday.

Modi, in his first address to the nation after the sudden act, played up the economic opportunities for Kashmir, saying that the two newly formed federal territories "have the potential to become the biggest tourist destination in the world. The reforms required for this are being done."

But Kashmir's pristine Alpine landscape, ski resorts, lake houseboat stays and uninterrupted acres of apple orchards have long made it a global tourist attraction.

Its rich soil produces some of India's most famous exports, including handwoven Pashmina shawls, basmati rice and saffron.

And Kashmir's gross domestic product, the value of all the goods and services in the state, has risen from $16.7 billion in 2012 to an estimated $21.9 billion in 2018, according to state statistics data. The economy was expected to expand by another 11 percent this year, according to a state budget document.

By contrast, the Asian Development Bank recently reduced its India growth forecast for 2019 to 7%, from 8.2% in 2015, crediting the slowdown to lower consumption and investment.

India needs to grow by at least 9% per year to reach Modi's aim of making it a $5 trillion economy by 2025.

With the law prohibiting outsiders from buying property in Jammu and Kashmir now lifted, Indians from the rest of the country are poised to purchase real estate and apply for government jobs there. Some fear this may lead to a demographic and cultural change in the Muslim-majority region.

The move neatly sets up an international investment summit the New Delhi-appointed governor of Jammu and Kashmir has planned for October.

Gov. Satya Pal Malik told reporters in Srinagar last month that interest in Kashmir was great, but that the special constitutional provisions had put off investors.

"The problem is people can't buy land," he said.

Though the provision precluded outsiders from buying land, they were able to lease it for up to 90 years, with the ability to renew.

"There was no constitutional regulation which was hampering investment or setting up business in Jammu and Kashmir. It was more the peace that wasn't there," said Afaq Hussain, director of the New Delhi-based Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals.

"Peace is the imperative," he said.

Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma contributed.


South Korea to remove Japan from preferred trade list

People pass by a banner with an image of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to denounce Japan's trade restrictions on South Korea on a street in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Aug 12, 2019. South Korea said Monday that it has decided to remove Japan from a list of nations receiving preferential treatment in trade in what was seen as a countermeasure to Tokyo's recent decision to downgrade Seoul's trade status amid a diplomatic row. The sign reads "No Abe." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

By Kim Tong-Hyung

Seoul, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Monday that it has decided to remove Japan from a list of nations receiving preferential treatment in trade in what was seen as a tit-for-tat move following Tokyo's recent decision to downgrade Seoul's trade status amid a diplomatic row.

It wasn't immediately clear how South Korea's tightened export controls would impact bilateral trade. Seoul said some South Korean companies exporting to Japan will be able to receive exceptions from case-by-case inspections that are normally applied on sensitive shipments to nations with lower trade status and go through the same fast-track approval process that they currently enjoy.

Masahisa Sato, Japan's vice minister for foreign affairs, said he believes the impact of Seoul's move would likely be limited as Japan doesn't import much sensitive materials from South Korea.

Japan provided similar exceptions while removing South Korea as a favored trade partner, which eased some of the fears in Seoul about a possible blow to its export-dependent economy, where many manufacturers heavily rely on parts and materials imported from Japan.

After spending weeks berating Tokyo for allegedly weaponizing trade and vowing retaliation, South Korean President Moon Jae-in struck a more conciliatory tone on Monday, saying that his government will refrain from "emotional" reactions to Japan over the trade dispute.

"While maintaining unwavering resolve and calmness, we need a long-term approach to look for fundamental countermeasures," Moon said in a meeting with senior aides.

South Korea's trade minister, Sung Yun-mo, said Seoul decided to remove Japan from a 29-member "white list" of countries that enjoy minimum restrictions in trade because it has failed to uphold international principles while managing its export controls on sensitive materials. Sung and other South Korean officials did not specify what they saw as Tokyo's problems in export controls.

Sato said South Korea would be violating World Trade Organization rules if it was retaliating against Japan's earlier measures. Park Tae-sung, a South Korean trade official, said that South Korea is making a legitimate effort under domestic and international laws to improve its export controls.

South Korea currently divides its trade partners into two groups while managing the exports of sensitive materials that can be used both for civilian and military purposes. Seoul will create a new in-between bracket where it plans to place only Japan, which "in principle" will receive the same treatment as the non-favored nations in what's now the second group, Sung said.

South Korea's government currently requires companies to go through case-by-case approvals to export sensitive items to non-favored nations, which typically take 15 days. However, Seoul also plans to grant exceptions to South Korean companies exporting to Japanese partners under long-term deals and allow them to continue using a fast-track approval process that takes about five days.

South Korean officials didn't clearly explain why they created a special bracket for Japan instead of grouping it with other non-favored nations. They said Seoul will work to minimize negative impact on South Korean exporters and bilateral trade.

Sung said the changes are expected to enter effect sometime in September, following a 20-day period for gathering public opinion on the issue and further regulatory and legal reviews. He said Seoul is willing to accept any request by Tokyo for consultation over the issue during the opinion-gathering period, but officials didn't say whether Seoul's decision will be negotiable.

South Korea's announcement came weeks after Japan's Cabinet approved the removal from South Korea from a list of countries with preferential trade status, citing an erosion of trust and unspecified security concerns surrounding Seoul's export controls.

Seoul says Tokyo is using trade to retaliate over South Korean court rulings that called for Japanese companies to compensate aging South Korean plaintiffs for forced labor during World War II and plans to file a complaint with the WTO.

Japan's move came weeks after it imposed stricter controls on certain technology exports to South Korean companies that rely on Japanese materials to produce semiconductors and displays for TVs and smartphones, which are key South Korean export items.

Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

 


US-China trade war leaves Europe as collateral damage

Raindrops on the camera lens reflect the lights of the Mainfest event at the river Main in Frankfurt, Germany, late Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

By DAVID Mchugh

Frankfurt, Germany (AP) — Like a sleek Mercedes crunched between two freight trucks, Europe's economy is being knocked off course by the conflict between the U.S. and China over trade.

The bill for damages from the U.S-China collision will likely be reflected in new growth figures due Wednesday that could show Europe's economic motor, Germany, is stalled or shrinking. Beyond that, economists say there are signs that years of declining unemployment since the depths of the Great Recession and the eurozone debt crisis may be ending.

And if the trade wars escalate to include higher U.S. tariffs on cars made in Europe, the picture could look even worse.

The heart of the matter is Germany, Europe's largest economy and a key trade partner of both the U.S. and China.

Exports amount to almost half the German economy - 47%, according to the World Bank — as its companies play a dominant role in global markets for luxury autos and complex industrial machinery. Supply chains from Germany extend into neighboring eurozone countries as well, while German profits are often invested in factories in places like Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. Great when trade is booming — but it means Germany remains more vulnerable than less open economies such as Portugal or France to a slowdown in global trade in goods and services.

And that is what's happening.

German has spewed wretched economic data for weeks: an 8% annual fall in exports in June, a 1.5% drop in industrial production in June from the month before, three times bigger than expected. Surveys of executives suggest the industrial sector is in recession, with consumer demand and services propping up the economy.

But the damage from trade uncertainty may be spreading to consumers and companies that do business only at home.

While German unemployment remains low at 3.1%, job gains have stalled recently. Growth in the eurozone as a whole halved to 0.2% in the second quarter compared with the first. Italy, the third largest economy in the eurozone, was another weak spot, with zero growth after only 0.1% in the first quarter.

One unsettling sign is that investment in new plants and equipment across the eurozone has weakened this year even as factory capacity utilization remains relatively strong . That is a departure from the longer term pattern, and suggests that managers don't see stronger sales and profits ahead.

Ironically, trade between Germany and the U.S. and between Germany and China is holding up pretty well. It's mainly the uncertainty about the outcome of the clash between U.S. President Donald Trump and the Chinese Communist leadership that has been weighing on business confidence and deterring decisions to invest and buy across global markets. Last week, Trump imposed a 10% tariff on an additional $300 billion in Chinese goods effective Sept. 1.

As a result, research firm Oxford Economics forecasts world trade growth of just 1.2% this year, far below last year's 4.9% rise.

There are a few small benefits for Europe. While the U.S. and China ramped up barriers against each other, the U.S. has largely kept tariffs on European products the same, except for introducing charges on steel and aluminum imports. China has actually lowered charges on exports from the 19 European countries that use the euro.

"That mildly positive effect for the eurozone has been, however, more than offset by the hit to business sentiment and demand," says economist Florian Hense at Berenberg bank. "As uncertainty about the future trading regime is pervasive, businesses have cut their outlook and their investment plans. The slowdown in Chinese actual and potential growth, which the trade tensions have exacerbated, also weighs on demand for eurozone exports." Hense thinks the U.S. and China will eventually cut a deal and remove the uncertainty.

But for now the drawn-out trade discussion continues to corrode optimism.

Top companies have issued cautious outlooks along with their earnings for the most recent quarter, even those that are doing relatively well. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess warned that "growing protectionism also poses major challenges for the globally integrated auto industry." Siemens AG CEO Joe Kaeser said that "geopolitics and geo-economics are harming an otherwise positive investment sentiment."

The auto industry in particular, with its dependence on demand from operations in China, looks less healthy. Daimler, maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, has issued four profit warnings over 18 months and saw its first quarterly loss since 2009. BMW lost money on its autos business in the first quarter for the first time in a decade. Trump has recently repeated a willingness to increase tariffs on imported autos if he does not get a satisfactory new trade deal with the EU.

Some of Europe's troubles can't be blamed on the trade dispute. The auto industry is under pressure to meet lower greenhouse gas emissions limits imposed by the European Union. Automakers had expected to rely on more fuel-efficient diesels to help meet the requirements, but saw diesel sales plunge after Volkswagen was caught in 2015 cheating on diesel emissions tests.

Another source of uncertainty is Britain's impending departure from the EU, currently set for Oct. 31. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants to leave without an extension even if that means no divorce deal to smooth trade.

In an effort to ward off a steeper slowdown or possible recession, the European Central Bank has signaled it could provide more monetary stimulus at its Sept. 12 meeting, including new purchases of bonds, which pump newly created money into the economy. It's a measure of Europe's reversal of fortune that a four-year, 2.6 trillion-euro ($2.9 trillion) bond purchase program was halted only in December.

"What is hurting German exports currently is the uncertainty which has spread across the globe and has also paralyzed many European economies," said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist for Germany at ING. "Looking ahead, the outlook for German exporters is clearly in the hands of the U.S. and China."


Muslim hajj pilgrims ascend Mount Arafat for day of worship

 

Pilgrims walk outside Namira Mosque in Arafat, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira Mosque in Arafat during the annual hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Muslim pilgrims pray in front of a pillar, where Islam's Prophet Muhammad is believed to have delivered his last sermon to tens of thousands of followers, on a rocky hill known as Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual hajj pilgrimage, ahead of sunrise near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

By Bassam Hatoum and Amr Nabil Associated Press

Mount Arafat, Saudi Arabia (AP) — More than 2 million Muslims gathered Saturday at the sacred hill of Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia for an intense day of worship and reflection on what's considered the climax of the Islamic hajj pilgrimage.

Many had tears streaming down their faces as they raised their hands in worship on the slopes of the rocky hill where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon some 1,400 years ago, calling for equality and unity among Muslims. Thousands had walked there through the pre-dawn darkness.

As one of the largest religious gatherings on earth, this second day of the hajj on Mount Arafat, or the hill of mercy as it's also known, is often the most memorable for pilgrims. They stand shoulder to shoulder with Muslims from around the world, all considered equal in Islam before God, seeking mercy, blessings, good health, bounty and healing.

This year, more than 1.8 million people from more than 160 countries came to Saudi Arabia to perform the hajj, according to Saudi officials. Some 20,000 are U.S. citizens and residents. Around 200,000 additional pilgrims are Saudi residents or citizens.

The five-day hajj pilgrimage is required of all Muslims once in their lifetime, if they are financially and physically able to make the demanding pilgrimage. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar one, the time of year when the hajj takes place varies, and when it falls in the hot summer months, temperatures can soar to over 100 F (38 C).

Most pilgrims also save up money for years to afford the trip, which takes them to Islam's holiest sites to perform a series of ancient rituals that date back thousands of years.

While following a route the Prophet Muhammad once walked, Muslims trace the rites of hajj back to the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, or Abraham and Ishmael as they are named in the Bible.

The oldest pilgrim this year is 103-year-old Noah Lanai from Thailand, according to Saudi Arabia's state-run media. The woman came to the hajj with her son and was quoted in local media saying she'd long dreamt of performing the hajj and praying in Mecca.

Muslims believe the hajj is a chance at atonement and an opportunity to erase past sins. It's also a chance to pray for unity and peace among Muslims as conflicts rage in Syria, Yemen and Libya, and Muslim minorities face increased threats around the world.

"I wish the best for all people, and hope Syria will return to normal and hope all people will be good," said Syrian pilgrim Ahmad Wahid as he ascended Mount Arafat for prayer and worship.

Yemeni pilgrim Mohammad Vardan also said he was praying for his country, ravaged by more than four years of civil war that's created the world's worst humanitarian disaster.

"We thank God of his blessings, and we pray for Yemen's peace and stability," he said.

During the hajj, male pilgrims wear simple, white terry cloth garments, while women forgo makeup and perfume and wear loose-fitting clothing and a head covering. This state of "ihram," or spiritual purity, is intended for pilgrims to focus on the inner self over their outward appearance.

The white garments worn by men are forbidden to contain any stitching — a restriction meant to emphasize the equality of all Muslims and prevent wealthier pilgrims from differentiating themselves with more elaborate garments.

After spending the day in prayer on Mount Arafat, pilgrims will head toward an area called Muzdalifa, about 5.5 miles (9 kilometers) west of Mount Arafat. Many walk, while others use buses.

In Muzdalifa, pilgrims will rest and pick up pebbles that will be used for a symbolic stoning of the devil and casting away of evil. This takes place over three days in Mina, an area about 12 miles (20 kilometers) east of Mecca. The final days of hajj coincide with Eid al-Adha, or the festival of sacrifice, celebrated by Muslims.


Khmer Rouge ideologue cremated, appeal may be stopped

 

Relatives carry a portrait of former Khmer Rouge's chief ideologist and No. 2 leader, Nuon Chea, during his funeral procession in Pailin in northwestern Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. Nuon Chea, known as Brother No. 2 and the right-hand man of Pol Pot, the leader of the brutal Communist regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, died Sunday at age 93. (AP Photo/Chorn Chanren)

By Sopheng Cheang Associated Press

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (AP) — The death of the Khmer Rouge's top ideologue may end criminal proceedings against him even though his appeal against convictions for genocide and other crimes is still pending, a spokesman for Cambodia's U.N.-assisted tribunal trying leaders of the defunct communist group said Friday.

Nuon Chea, the second-highest official after Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot when the group held power in the late 1970s, died Sunday at age 93. He was cremated Friday at a Buddhist temple in Pailin in northwestern Cambodia, which was a Khmer Rouge stronghold as it fought a guerrilla war after being ousted from power in 1979. Their movement collapsed entirely in 1998.

Spokesman Neth Pheaktra said under Cambodian law, judicial action is terminated on the death of the accused, and the tribunal's Supreme Court chamber would rule on its application.

It will not be clear until the court rules whether the convictions under appeal will stand or be vacated, leaving them legally undecided.

The death leaves a single former top Khmer Rouge leader to proceed with an appeal against his convictions for genocide and other crimes: Khieu Samphan, 88, who was the regime's head of state.

Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were also convicted in an earlier trial of crimes against humanity and other offenses, and their life sentences in that case were upheld after appeal.

The tribunal, which has cost hundreds of millions of dollars, has convicted only one other defendant, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, who as head of the Khmer Rouge prison system ran the infamous Tuol Sleng torture center in Phnom Penh.

The tribunal, formally known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC, was set up as a hybrid court, meaning every international prosecutor and judge was paired with a Cambodian counterpart. While the international prosecutors have worked to indict more suspects, the rules of the tribunal have allowed their Cambodian counterparts to block further action.

Australian Doreen Chen, who was the internationally appointed lawyer for Nuon Chea, said her team believes that according to law, their late client "is presumed innocent until a final appeal judgment is delivered."

"Since the Supreme Court Chamber hasn't issued the appeal judgment, he is now considered innocent and that trial judgment against him is effectively vacated. We have asked the Supreme Court Chamber to confirm this view and let us know what should happen next," she said in an interview over the internet.

She also said they are seeking to have his appeal continue despite his death "so that there can be a final judgment and confirmation of the truth, not only for Nuon Chea but for the Cambodian people."

Chen said she understood that that the Supreme Court Chamber is currently considering the issue, but that on Friday, the tribunal administration informed her and her colleagues that their team have all been fired, even while awaiting a court ruling.

"Unfortunately, it appears that the budget may be more important than the law and the ECCC's ultimate legacy," she said.

Liv Sovanna, a Cambodian lawyer for Nuon Chea's defense, said by telephone from the cremation site that about 200 people attended the ceremony, with 50 monks chanting as family members and friends paid their last respects.

Nuon Chea is survived by his 85-year-old wife and three daughters, he said. He and his wife lived in a small wooden house very close to the border with Thailand from his 1998 surrender until his 2007 arrest by the tribunal.

Many former Khmer Rouge also live in the area. By one estimate, almost 70% of the area's older men were fighters for the communist group.

The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly insisted that the tribunal's work would cease with the convictions of its last two surviving leaders.


Australia plans to set date to ban exporting plastic waste

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, third left, holds a press conference with the heads of state following the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Cairns, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (Marc McCormack/AAP Image via AP)

By Rod Mcguirk Associated Press

Canberra, Australia (AP) — Australian government leaders on Friday agreed to set a timetable for banning exports of waste plastic, which is now shipped to regional neighbours including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Federal, state and territory leaders agreed at a meeting at the Great Barrier Reef city of Cairns to task their environment ministers with setting a timetable to end the cross-border disposal of waste plastic, paper, glass and tires. Waste disposal has become an increasingly pressing problem since 2017 when China, previously its main destination, barred imports of almost all foreign plastic waste.

Australian leaders agreed their strategy must seek to reduce waste, especially plastics, decrease the amount of waste going to landfill and maximize the capability of Australia's waste management and recycling sector to collect, recycle, reuse, convert and recover waste, the meeting's communique said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said only 12% of waste that Australians place in recycling bins was recycled.

"There will be no exports of plastics and paper and glass to other countries where it runs the risk of ending up floating around in our oceans whether off the Great Barrier Reef — which we know there's strong evidence of that — or anywhere else," Morrison said.

Morrison said he wanted the export ban implemented as soon as practicable and did not expect the change to take years.

Australia spends 2.8 billion Australian dollars ($1.9 billion) a year exporting 4.5 million metric tons (5 million US tons) of recyclable waste, 80% of which is shipped to Asian ports.

Environmentalists have protested outside the Australian consulate in the Indonesia city of Surabaya against tons of Australian waste plastic and paper that they say is shipped to Indonesia, burnt and dumped in waterways.


Walloped by heat wave, Greenland sees massive ice melt

In this image taken on Thursday Aug.1, 2019 large rivers of melting water form on an ice sheet in western Greenland and drain into moulin holes that empty into the ocean from underneath the ice. The heat wave that smashed high temperature records in five European countries a week ago is now over Greenland, accelerating the melting of the island's ice sheet and causing massive ice loss in the Arctic. (Photo via Caspar Haarl°v, Into the Ice via AP)

In this image taken on June 13, 2019 small pieces of ice float in the water off the shore in Nuuk, Greenland. Milder weather than normal since the start of summer in Greenland, led to the UN's weather agency voicing concern that the hot air which produced the recent extreme heat wave in Europe could be headed toward Greenland where it could contribute to increased melting of ice. (AP Photo/Sandy Virgo)

By David Rising Associated Press Writer

Berlin (AP) — The heat wave that smashed high temperature records in five European countries a week ago is now over Greenland, accelerating the melting of the island's ice sheet and causing massive ice loss in the Arctic.

Greenland, the world's largest island, is a semi-autonomous Danish territory between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans that has 82% of its surface covered in ice.

The area of the Greenland ice sheet that is showing indications of melt has been growing daily, and hit a record 56.5% for this year on Wednesday, said Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with the Danish Meteorological Institute. She says that's expected to expand and peak on Thursday before cooler temperatures slow the pace of the melt.

More than 10 billion tons (11 billion U.S. tons) of ice was lost to the oceans by surface melt on Wednesday alone, creating a net mass ice loss of some 197 billion tons (217 billion U.S. tons) from Greenland in July, she said.

"It looks like the peak will be today. But the long-term forecast is for continuing warm and sunny weather in Greenland, so that means the amount of the ice loss will continue," she said Thursday in a telephone interview from Copenhagen.

The scope of Wednesday's ice melt is a number difficult to grasp. To understand just how much ice is being lost, a mere 1 billion tons — or 1 gigaton — of ice loss is equivalent to about 400,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, the Danish Meteorological Institute said .  And 100 billion tons (110 billion U.S. tons) corresponds to a 0.28 mm (0.01 inch) rise in global sea levels.

Mottram said since June 1 — roughly the start of the ice-loss season — the Greenland ice sheet has lost 240 gigatons (240 billion metric tons) this year. That compares with 290 gigatons lost overall in the 2012 melt season, which usually goes through the end of August.

A June 2019 study by scientists in the U.S. and Denmark said melting ice in Greenland alone will add between 5 and 33 centimeters (2 to 13 inches) to rising global sea levels by the year 2100. If all the ice in Greenland melted — which would take centuries — the world's oceans would rise by 7.2 meters (23 feet, 7 inches), the study found.

The current melting has been brought on by the arrival of the same warm air from North Africa and Spain that melted European cities and towns last week, setting national temperature records in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Britain.

In Russia, meanwhile, forest fires caused by hot, dry weather and spread by high winds are raging over nearly 30,000 square kilometers (11,580 sq. miles) of territory in Siberia and the Russian Far East — an area the size of Belgium. The smoke from these fires, some of them in Arctic territory, is so heavy it can easily be seen in satellite photos and is causing air quality problems in towns and some cities, including Russia's third-largest city, Novosibirsk. Residents want the Russian government to do more to fight the blazes.

Greenland has also been battling a slew of Arctic wildfires, something that Mottram said was uncommon in the past.

In Greenland, the melt area this year is the second-biggest in terms of ice area affected, behind more than 90% in 2012, said Mark Serreze, director of the Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, which monitors ice sheets globally. Records go back to 1981.

A lot of what melts can later refreeze onto the ice sheet, but because of the conditions ahead of this summer's heat wave, the amount of ice lost for good this year might be the same as in 2012 or more, according to scientists.  They noted a long build up to this summer's ice melt — including higher overall temperatures for months — and a very dry winter with little snow in many places, which would normally offer some protection to glacier ice.

"This is certainly a weather event superimposed on this overall trend of warmer conditions" that have increasingly melted Greenland ice over the long term, Serreze said.

Compounding the melt, the Greenland ice sheet started out behind this year because of the low ice and snow accumulation, said Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Twila Moon.

With man-made climate change, "there's a potential for these kind of rates to become more common 50 years from now," Moon said.

Heat waves have always occurred, but Mike Sparrow, a spokesman for the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, noted that as global temperatures have risen, extreme heat waves are now occurring at least 10 times more frequently than a century ago. This year, the world saw its hottest month of June ever .

"These kind of heat waves are weather events and can occur naturally but studies have shown that both the frequency and intensity of these heat waves have increased due to global warming," Sparrow said in a telephone interview from Geneva.

He noted that sea ice spread in the Arctic and Antarctic are both currently at record lows.

"When people talk about the average global temperature increasing by a little more than 1 degree (Celsius), that's not a huge amount to notice if you're sitting in Hamburg or London, but that's a global average and it's much greater in the polar regions," he said.

Even though temperatures will be going down in Greenland by the end of this week, the ice melt is not likely to stop anytime soon, Mottram said.

"Over the last couple of days, you could see the warm wave passing over Greenland," she said. "That peak of warm air has passed over the summit of the ice sheet, but the clear skies are almost as important, or maybe even more important, for the total melt of the ice sheet."

She added that clear skies are likely to continue in Greenland "so we can still get a lot of ice melt even if the temperature is not spectacularly high."

Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report from Southern Pines, North Carolina


Fans recreate Beatles' Abbey Road cover shot 50 years on

Beatles lookalikes are joined by thousands of fans gathered to walk across the Abbey Road zebra crossing, on the 50th anniversary of British pop musicians The Beatles doing it for the cover of their album 'Abbey Road' in St Johns Wood in London, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. They aimed to cross 50 years to the minute since the 'Fab Four' were photographed for the album.(Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

London (AP) — It was 50 years ago today, that The Beatles caused a traffic delay.

And hundreds of fans of the Fab Four gathered Thursday at a crosswalk in London's St. John's Wood neighborhood immortalized on the "Abbey Road" album to recreate the cover photo half a century after it was taken.

At 11:35 a.m. on Aug. 8, 1969, Iain Macmillan photographed John, Paul, George and Ringo striding single-file across the black-and-white "zebra" crossing outside Abbey Road Studios while a police officer stopped traffic.

Used as the cover of the band's penultimate studio album, it became one of the most famous images in music history.

On Thursday spectators snapped photos on cellphones and lookalikes from a Beatles cover band crossed the street in tribute to the original image.

The spot remains a place of pilgrimage for Beatles fans from around the world.

"Every hour of every day there are fans on the crossing," said Beatles tour guide Richard Porter, who organized Thursday's commemoration. "I've seen lots of different sights on the crossing, too, from couples having their wedding photos taken to people going across naked."


Woodstock photos are displayed for 1st time, 50 years later

This August, 1969 photo shows Richie Havens as he performs during Woodstock in Bethel, N.Y. The photo is only one of hundreds made by photographer Mark Goff who, at the time, worked for an underground newspaper in Milwaukee, Wis. (Mark Goff Photography, Leah Demarco/Allison Goff via AP)

This August, 1969 photo shows Jerry Garcia as he performs during Woodstock in Bethel, N.Y. (Mark Goff Photography, Leah Demarco/Allison Goff via AP)

This August, 1969 photo shows Janis Joplin as she performs during Woodstock in Bethel, N.Y. Mark Goff Photography, Leah Demarco/Allison Goff via AP)

This undated 1969 photo shows a self portrait of Mark Goff who was a credentialed photographer covering Woodstock in 1969. (Mark Goff Photography, Leah Demarco/Allison Goff via AP)

 

By Michael Hill Associated Press

As Jerry Garcia jammed and Janis Joplin wailed, Mark Goff captured images at Woodstock that no one ever saw.

The 22-year-old photographer for an underground paper took hundreds of pictures of the performers and the crowd that weekend. Some were published, and the negatives from that weekend were filed away at his Milwaukee home and barely mentioned as Goff raised two daughters, changed careers and, last November, died of cancer.

Dozens of Goff's Woodstock shots are being displayed 50 years later thanks to efforts by artist Nick Clemente, who wants to shine a light on the little-known photographer. For the daughters, the photos are a window into what their father saw during that chaotic summer weekend in 1969.

"Seeing these photos is a really interesting way to see who he was outside of being our father," said 34-year-old Alli Goff. "Because that's the only way we really know him."

Mark Goff was in a group of credentialed photographers for the festival that included the biggest names in rock photography and a high school newspaper journalist. The long-haired Navy veteran shot for the Milwaukee underground newspaper Kaleidoscope. Over the weekend of Aug. 15-18, he trained his lens on Arlo Guthrie, the Band and Richie Havens. And he sloshed around the muddy farm land to photograph the beatific, scruffy crowd.

It was part of his work documenting the counter-cultural movement, heavy on rockers like Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen, mostly in his hometown of Milwaukee. One famous photo, still all over the internet, shows comedian George Carlin being escorted by police during his 1972 arrest over offensive language.

"My whole life was associated with my dad carrying a camera," said Leah DeMarco, 47. She remembers her father working as a freelance photographer for local newspapers and monitoring police frequencies in his car. If he heard a call, he'd hide her under a blanket to get through the police line.

Goff stored 225 Woodstock images in a cabinet, along with more from Milwaukee and his stint in the Navy. His ex-wife Barbara Reminga said maybe 60 were printed at the time, including a Janis Joplin picture displayed in their foyer. A smaller number were published. Most of the film remained in the cabinet as he moved on to other jobs that included being an aide to a liberal congressman, an activist and a political consultant.

It seems like his memories of Woodstock were mostly packed away too. He would tell his daughters stories about, say, the George Carlin photo. But he spoke little of Woodstock.

"He was like, 'Yeah, it kind of became this phenomenon later. But at the time, it was kind of like one more thing. Everything was groundbreaking,'" Alli Goff recalled. "And he would kind of complain, 'It was raining a lot.'"

Still, some of his Woodstock images are in circulation. He posted 20 of his festival shots on Facebook as Woodstock's 40th anniversary loomed in 2009. And he contributed his press pass and a handful of pictures to the Newseum in Washington, D.C. for an exhibit that year. At the time, he told a local news outlet that he previously had "not thought about Woodstock for more than five minutes" in decades.

Mark Goff continued to work and ride his beloved Harley motorcycle as he battled pancreatic cancer, dying Nov. 30 at age 71. He died weeks after Clemente began searching for him.

Clemente is a graphic designer and wanted to use an unattributed image of Swami Satchidananda on the Woodstock stage for a poster. It took some sleuthing to find it was shot by Goff. By the time Clemente was finally able to search the photographer's name online, he turned up the recently published obituary.

Clemente eventually reached out to Goff's daughters, who shipped him hundreds of negatives for scanning. They believe most of the images have not been seen in 50 years. Clemente printed about 70. He is starting to display the pictures and list them for sale at a half-dozen Hudson Valley galleries this month.

Clemente, 68, said calls it a labor of love. He finds the images striking and admires a man he calls the "opposite of self-aggrandizing."

"I'm fairly confident that he's going to have a little slot in the history of photography," Clemente said.

Though Mark Goff didn't focus on promoting his work too much in his life, his daughters think he'd be proud about getting exposure five decades after Woodstock.

"I'm excited for other people to be able to see them," DeMarco said, "and see what a wonderful photographer he was."


UN climate report: Change land use to avoid a hungry future

This Monday, July 30, 2018 file photo shows rows of soybean plants in a field near Bennington, Neb. A report by the United Nations released on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019 says that human-caused climate change is dramatically degrading the planet’s land, while the way people use the Earth is making global warming worse. AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

BY Seth Borenstein and Jamey Keaten Associated Press

Geneva (AP) — Human-caused climate change is dramatically degrading the Earth's land and the way people use the land is making global warming worse, a new United Nations scientific report says. That creates a vicious cycle which is already making food more expensive, scarcer and less nutritious.

"The cycle is accelerating," said NASA climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, a co-author of the report. "The threat of climate change affecting people's food on their dinner table is increasing."

But if people change the way they eat, grow food and manage forests, it could help save the planet from a far warmer future, scientists said.

Earth's land masses, which are only 30% of the globe, are warming twice as fast as the planet as a whole. While heat-trapping gases are causing problems in the atmosphere, the land has been less talked about as part of climate change. A special report, written by more than 100 scientists and unanimously approved by diplomats from nations around the world Thursday at a meeting in Geneva, proposed possible fixes and made more dire warnings.

"The way we use land is both part of the problem and also part of the solution," said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, a French climate scientist who co-chairs one of the panel's working groups. "Sustainable land management can help secure a future that is comfortable."

Scientists at Thursday's press conference emphasized both the seriousness of the problem and the need to make societal changes soon.

"We don't want a message of despair," said science panel official Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London. "We want to get across the message that every action makes a difference."

Still the stark message hit home hard for some of the authors.

"I've lost a lot of sleep about what the science is saying. As a person, it's pretty scary," Koko Warner, a manager in the U.N. Climate Change secretariat who helped write a report chapter on risk management and decision-making, told The Associated Press after the report was presented at the World Meteorological Organization headquarters in Geneva. "We need to act urgently."

The report said climate change already has worsened land degradation, caused deserts to grow, permafrost to thaw and made forests more vulnerable to drought, fire, pests and disease. That's happened even as much of the globe has gotten greener because of extra carbon dioxide in the air. Climate change has also added to the forces that have reduced the number of species on Earth.

"Climate change is really slamming the land," said World Resources Institute researcher Kelly Levin, who wasn't part of the study.

And the future could be worse.

"The stability of food supply is projected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events that disrupt food chains increases," the report said.

In the worst-case scenario, food security problems change from moderate to high risk with just a few more tenths of a degree of warming from now. They go from high to "very high" risk with just another 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) of warming from now.

"The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is increasing," NASA's Rosenzweig said. "Just to give examples, the crop yields were effected in Europe just in the last two weeks."

Scientists had long thought one of the few benefits of higher levels of carbon dioxide, the major heat-trapping gas, was that it made plants grow more and the world greener, Rosenzweig said. But numerous studies show that the high levels of carbon dioxide reduce protein and nutrients in many crops.

For example, high levels of carbon in the air in experiments show wheat has 6% to 13% less protein, 4% to 7% less zinc and 5% to 8% less iron, she said.

But better farming practices — such as no-till agricultural and better targeted fertilizer applications — have the potential to fight global warming too, reducing carbon pollution up to 18% of current emissions levels by 2050, the report said.

If people change their diets, reducing red meat and increasing plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and seeds, the world can save as much as another 15% of current emissions by mid-century. It would also make people more healthy, Rosenzweig said.

The science panel said they aren't telling people what to eat because that's a personal choice.

Still, Hans-Otto P÷rtner, a panel leader from Germany who said he lost weight and felt better after reducing his meat consumption, told a reporter that if she ate less ribs and more vegetables "that's a good decision and you will help the planet reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Reducing food waste can fight climate change even more. The report said that between 2010 and 2016, global food waste accounted for 8% to 10% of heat-trapping emissions.

"Currently 25%-30% of total food produced is lost or wasted," the report said. Fixing that would free up millions of square miles of land.

With just another 0.9 degrees F of warming (0.5 degrees C), which could happen in the next 10 to 30 years, the risk of unstable food supplies, wildfire damage, thawing permafrost and water shortages in dry areas "are projected to be high," the report said.

At another 1.8 degrees F of warming (1 degree C) from now, which could happen in about 50 years, it said those risks "are projected to be very high."

Most scenarios predict the world's tropical regions will have "unprecedented climatic conditions by the mid-to-late 21st century," the report noted.

Agriculture and forestry together account for about 23% of the heat-trapping gases that are warming the Earth, slightly less than from cars, trucks, boats and planes. Add in transporting food, energy costs, packaging and that grows to 37%, the report said.

But the land is also a great carbon "sink," which sucks heat-trapping gases out of the air.

From about 2007 to 2016, agriculture and forestry every year put 5.7 billion tons (5.2 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide into the air, but pulled 12.3 billion tons (11.2 billion metric tons) of it out.

"This additional gift from nature is limited. It's not going to continue forever," said study co-author Luis Verchot, a scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia. "If we continue to degrade ecosystems, if we continue to convert natural ecosystems, we continue to deforest and we continue to destroy our soils, we're going to lose this natural subsidy."

Overall land emissions are increasing, especially because of cutting down forests in the Amazon in places such as Brazil, Colombia and Peru, Verchot said.

Recent forest management changes in Brazil "contradicts all the messages that are coming out of the report," P÷rtner said.

Saying "our current way of living and our economic system risks our future and the future of our children," Germany's environment minister, Svenja Schulze, questioned whether it makes sense for a country like Germany to import large amounts of soy from Latin America, where forests are being destroyed to plant the crop, to feed unsustainable numbers of livestock in Germany.

"We ought to recognize that we have profound limits on the amount of land available and we have to be careful about how we utilize it," said Stanford University environmental sciences chief Chris Field, who wasn't part of the report.

AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein reported from Washington. Frank Jordans contributed from Berlin.


Modi's vision of a Hindu India advanced by Kashmir changes

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he speaks during an election campaign rally of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Hyderabad, India April 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A., File)

By Amrit Dhillon Associated Press

New Delhi (AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a Hindu India has leaped forward with his government's decision to subsume Muslim-majority Kashmir into the federal government by eliminating its special status and allowing anyone to buy property and move into the state, raising fears among residents that they will lose their distinct identity.

He did so by pushing his agenda through a Parliament that has no united opposition, presenting him with no obstacles and suggesting that his entire Hindu nationalist agenda will enjoy a smooth passage.

This situation favoring Modi is likely to intensify next year when one third of the seats in the upper house of Parliament, where his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party doesn't hold a majority, are up for grabs. Most of the new members are expected to come from the BJP or its allies.

"The opposition is demoralized and hasn't got the will to put up a fight. There is no leader in Parliament to create a united opposition. The BJP is taking advantage of that. Once it has total control of Parliament next year, it will face no obstacles at all to its Hindu nationalist goals," said political analyst Arati Jerath.

Indian policemen stand guard during a curfew in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin, File)

Even the Congress party, which ruled India for nearly half a century after independence from Britain in 1947, is rudderless and disjointed.

Former Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, who resigned as party chief after losing to Modi in May elections, criticized the "abuse of executive power" by the ruling party and said the move would have grave implications for national security.

But such is the drift in the party that several Congress lawmakers tweeted their support for the BJP's maneuver on Kashmir, flouting the party line. Members of both Congress and other parties are deserting them for the BJP.

Analysts say the opposition has been spooked by Modi's spectacular victory in the May general election, when he won a gigantic mandate. The smaller parties, they say, have become timid and reluctant to oppose the BJP.

Modi's home minister, Amit Shah, who is considered the architect of the government's aggressive agenda to convert India from a secular, multicultural democracy into a distinctly Hindu, culturally and politically homogenous state, sold the new policy on Muslim-majority Kashmir to Parliament by equating it with Pakistan, India's staunch foe.

"They don't want to be seen on the wrong side of public sentiment, which is nationalistic at the moment. In my neighborhood, people were celebrating on the street on Monday over Jammu and Kashmir. The buildup of nationalist sentiment over the past five years peaked in the general election and the opposition is nervous about opposing it," Jerath said.

In a nationally broadcast speech Thursday evening, Modi said Kashmir's special status was being used by Pakistan to incite anti-India sentiment in the Jammu and Kashmir region.

"I have complete faith, under this new system we all will be able to free Jammu and Kashmir of terrorism and separatism," he said.

The BJP's changes in Kashmir, without any prior debate or consultation, sailed through Parliament, suggesting Modi and Shah will be able to roll out other controversial measures promised in their party's election manifesto, including creating a national register of citizens that critics say will make it easier for the government to deport Muslims of Bangladeshi descent, and to build a Hindu temple on a site where a 500-year-old mosque was torn down by Hindu hardliners.

The Hindustan Times, one of India's largest daily newspapers, carried an editorial on Wednesday with the headline "The Abdication of the Opposition."

"The opposition parties failed to put up a democratic fight even in a chamber where they collectively outnumber the BJP," it said.

Even regional parties from south India who have long resisted tinkering from New Delhi supported the BJP bid to consolidate federal control in Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir was downgraded into two territories which will have limited decision-making power and no longer be permitted to have their own constitution and flag.    

Supporters of separatist People's Political Party (PPP) leader Hilal Ahmad War hold banners and shout slogans during a protest against the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir May 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin, File)

The parties' reasons for voting to strip Kashmir of its special status varied. Vijay Sai Reddy, a member of Parliament for the YSR Congress party from the state of Andhra Pradesh, explained his vote for the measure by asking "How one country can have two constitutions? We can't support that," he said.

Ravindra Kumar, a Telegu Desam Party MP from the same state, said that Kashmir having its own constitution and flag gave it "special powers that are discriminatory."

"Our party believes that all the people in the country should have equal rights," Kumar said.

Apart from fear of bucking the mood of nationalism sweeping some parts of India, another reason for so few opposition parties putting up any resistance is the fear of antagonizing a strong federal government in New Delhi, and losing out on money for their states, said Mihir Sharma, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.

"It is the federal government's purse strings they're interested in loosening," Sharma said.

Indian Paramilitary soldiers stand guard near a temporary barbwire check post set up on a bridge during curfew in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/ Dar Yasin)


Paris child at risk of lead poisoning after Notre Dame fire

Environmental groups and unionists attend a news conference to warn against lead particles polluting the air in the area, and ask for a regularly updated chart showing pollution levels in Paris, France, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. Hundreds of tons of toxic lead in Notre Dame's spire and roof melted during the April fire. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — Health officials in Paris said Wednesday that a young boy needs medical monitoring because tests conducted after the Notre Dame Cathedral fire showed that he was at risk of lead poisoning.

The child, who was tested last week, doesn't need treatment yet, the Regional Health Authority said in a statement late Tuesday. Checks are being conducted to determine whether the lead came from the April 15 fire or another source.

The child's school, near the cathedral, was closed in July due to high lead levels found on its grounds.

A total of 162 children have been tested for lead in Paris after hundreds of tons of lead in Notre Dame's spire and roof melted in the blaze. Sixteen of those were deemed to be just short of being "at risk" and will also be monitored as a precaution.

The results "show, on the one hand, the need to keep cleaning to limit the risk of exposure of the children to lead and, on the other hand, the importance of extending blood tests," the health authority said.

Authorities in June recommended blood tests for children under 7 and pregnant women who live near Notre Dame as they are especially vulnerable to health problems from lead poisoning and exposure.

Critics say authorities didn't move fast enough to protect workers and residents from lead pollution.

Decontamination work at Notre Dame, the square in front of the cathedral and adjacent streets was suspended last month under pressure from labor inspectors concerned about lead risks.

The culture minister, who's in charge of Notre Dame, said work will resume next week with tougher new decontamination measures.

One technique involves spreading a gel on the ground to absorb the lead. It will need to dry for at least three days before being removed. Another method will feature high pressure water jets with chemical agents to clean the soil, the culture ministry said.

Authorities said last month the main focus was ensuring that the work doesn't generate any pollution outside the work zone.

Levels of lead remain exceptionally high at some spots inside the cathedral and in the soil of the adjacent streets, park and forecourt, according to the regional health agency. Those areas have been closed to the public since April 15.

However, no dangerous levels have been registered in other nearby streets, where tourists and residents continue to gather and souvenir shops and restaurants have reopened.


Russia's military drone makes successful maiden flight

In this video grab made available on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019 by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Russia's military drone Okhotnik is seen taking off at an unidentified location in Russia. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Associated Press

Moscow (AP) — The Russian military says a heavy drone it's developing has made a successful maiden flight.

The Defense Ministry on Wednesday released a video showing the Okhotnik (Hunter) taking off, performing maneuvers and landing. The ministry has said that the drone, which has advanced reconnaissance and stealth capabilities, first flew for 20 minutes Saturday.

The wedge-shaped heavy drone developed by the Sukhoi company is a major leap compared to other unmanned aerial vehicles previously developed in Russia. The project has been veiled in secrecy, but Russian media reports claimed that the new drone weighs 20 tons loaded and has a range of up to 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles).

The single-engine Okhotnik bears a visual resemblance to Lockheed Martin U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel drone.


German production drops in June in latest sign of weakness

A cleaning machine is seen behind rain drops on a car window is it cleans the Roemerberg square in Frankfurt, Germany, on a rainy Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Berlin (AP) — German industrial production dropped significantly for the second time in three months in June, the latest sign of weakness from Europe's biggest economy. Wednesday's report fueled expectations of an overall decline in the second quarter.

Production was down 1.5% compared with the previous month. That followed a 2% decline in April and a 0.1% gain in May, and was a worse performance that the 0.6% drop economists had expected.

Second-quarter economic growth figures are due on Aug. 14. Germany's economy is believed to have turned in a feeble performance in the March-June period after returning to growth in the winter, and recent data have underscored that — even though official data showed that factory orders increased by an unexpectedly strong 2.5% in June thanks to bulk orders from outside the eurozone.

For the second quarter as a whole, industrial production was 1.8% lower than in the January-March period, with the key auto and machinery sectors contributing to the decline. Factory orders also dropped by 1% on a quarter-on-quarter basis, though that was better than the 4.2% slide in the first quarter.

ING economist Carsten Brzeski described the latest production report as "devastating, with no silver lining" and a sign that gross domestic product likely contracted in the second quarter — unless exports turn out to have been better than expected.

"The combination of high inventories and few orders at hand does not bode well for industrial production in the months ahead," he said. "Add to this a further escalation of the current trade conflicts, Brexit and an ongoing structural transformation in the automotive sector and the outlook doesn't look any better."


Hundreds of poor migrant workers flee Kashmir under lockdown

 

Indian migrant laborers carry their luggage and prepare to leave the region, at a railway station in Jammu, India, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

By Channi Anand Associated Press

Jammu, India (AP) — Hit by a complete security lockdown in Kashmir, hundreds of poor migrant workers have begun fleeing the Himalayan region to return to their far-away villages in northern and eastern India.

Some complained on Wednesday that their Kashmiri employers didn't pay them any salary as security forces began imposing tight travel restrictions over the weekend and asked them to leave their jobs.

Authorities in Hindu-majority India clamped a complete shutdown on Kashmir as they scrapped the Muslim-majority state's special status, including exclusive hereditary rights and a separate constitution, and divided it into two territories.

The Kashmir region is divided between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both. The two nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars, two of them over control of Kashmir, since they won independence from British colonialists in 1947.

Pakistan announced Wednesday that it is downgrading its diplomatic ties with India and suspending bilateral trade in response to New Delhi's decision to reduce Kashmir's special status.

On Wednesday, workers crowded the railroad station at Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir state, as they waited for trains bound for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. They carried their belongings on their heads and under their arms, tied in bedsheets.

Jagdish Mathur, a worker, said many people walked for miles (kilometers) on a highway and hitched rides on army trucks and buses from Srinagar to Jammu, a distance of 260 kilometers (160 miles).

"We haven't eaten properly for the past four days," said Mathur, adding that he doesn't have money to buy a rail ticket to take him to his village in eastern Bihar state. "The government should help me."

Surjit Singh, a carpenter, told the New Delhi television channel that he was returning home because of Kashmir's security lockdown.

Every year, tens of thousands of people travel to Kashmir from various Indian states looking for work, mainly masonry, carpentry and agriculture. Whenever the security situation deteriorates, they return homes.

Insurgent groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Pakistan denies.


Troops lock down Kashmir as India votes to strip its status

An Indian paramilitary soldier guards during security lockdown in Jammu, India, Tuesday, Aug.6, 2019. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

Emily Schmall

New Delhi (AP) — Indian lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that strips the statehood from the Indian-administered portion of Muslim-majority Kashmir amid an indefinite security lockdown in the disputed Himalayan territory, actions that neighboring Pakistan warned could lead to war.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government submitted the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill for a vote by the lower house of Parliament a day after the surprise measure was introduced alongside a presidential order. That order dissolved a constitutional provision, known as Article 370, which gave Kashmiris exclusive hereditary rights and a separate constitution.

"After five years, seeing development in J&K (Jammu and Kashmir) under the leadership of PM Modi, people of the valley will understand drawbacks of Article 370," Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said just before the bill was passed.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim the region in its entirety, although each of them controls only parts of it. Two of the three wars the nuclear-armed neighbors have fought since their independence from British rule were over Kashmir.

How the 7 million people in the Kashmir Valley were reacting was unclear, because the Indian government shut off most communication with it, including internet, cellphone and landline networks. Thousands of troops were deployed to the restive region amid fears that the government's steps could spark unrest.

Tensions also have soared along the Line of Control, the volatile, highly militarized frontier that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

Hundreds of people in various parts of Pakistan and in its part of Kashmir rallied against Modi, burning him in effigy and torching Indian flags to condemn India's moves.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an address to Parliament on Tuesday night that he feared the Kashmiri people, angered over India's decision to strip the region of its special status, could attack Indian security forces and that New Delhi could blame Pakistan for it.

"If India attacks us, we will respond," Khan said. "We will fight until the last drop of blood."

In February, a bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed 40 Indian troops. India responded with an airstrike inside Pakistan, blaming a Pakistani group for the attack.

On Tuesday, the Pakistani military was on high alert following reports that New Delhi was continuing to send additional troops to the region. Pakistan's top military commanders met in the garrison city of Rawalpindi to discuss the changes in Kashmir.

China, which also lays claim to a portion of Kashmir, is "seriously concerned" about the situation, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

"China's position on the Kashmir issue is clear and consistent. It is also an international consensus that the Kashmir issue is an issue left from the past between India and Pakistan. The relevant sides need to exercise restraint and act prudently. In particular, they should refrain from taking actions that will unilaterally change the status quo and escalate tensions," she said.

India's lower house ratified the bill, which strips the status of Jammu and Kashmir from a state to a union territory with a legislature, and carves out Buddhist-majority Ladakh, a pristine, sparsely populated area that stretches from the Siachen Glacier to the Himalayas, as a separate union territory without a legislature.

The upper house approved the bill by a two-thirds majority, with many opposition lawmakers voting with the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Indian TV news channels in Srinagar, Kashmir's main city, showed security personnel including armed soldiers in camouflage standing near barbed wire barricades in the otherwise empty streets.

Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said Srinagar was "totally peaceful," the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all parties to show restraint, said spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

"We are following with concern the tense situation in the region," Dujarric said. "We're also aware of reports of restrictions on the Indian side of Kashmir, and we urge all parties to exercise restraint."


US carrier sails into disputed waters amid new flare-ups

A U.S. fighter jet takes off from the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the South China Sea Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Jim Gomez

South China Sea (AP) — A U.S. aircraft carrier sailed through the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday in the latest show of America's military might amid new territorial flare-ups involving China and three rival claimant states.

The U.S. Navy flew a small group of Philippine generals, officials and journalists to the USS Ronald Reagan, where they watched fighter jets landing and taking off by catapult with thunderous blasts. The nuclear-powered carrier, carrying about 70 supersonic F/A-18 jets, spy planes and helicopters, was en route to Manila for a port visit.

Armed cruisers kept watch a few miles (kilometers) away from the carrier.

"The motto of this carrier is peace through strength," Rear Adm. Karl Thomas told journalists.

He said the American military presence helps provide security and stability that foster diplomatic talks among rival claimant nations. He made the comment when asked what message the warship's presence was sending amid new tensions involving China and rival claimants Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines over long-contested territories.

"We just think that folks should follow the international law and our presence allows us to provide that security and stability in the background for these discussions to take place," Thomas said.

China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have been locked in on-and-off territorial conflicts over the strategic waters, where a bulk of Asian and world commerce transits, for decades. Tensions rose to new highs when China transformed seven disputed reefs in the Spratly chain into islands and then installed a missile-defense system, runways and hangars.

Last month, Washington expressed concerns over China's "repeated provocative actions aimed at the offshore oil and gas development of other claimant states."

Vietnam has demanded that China remove a survey ship from Vanguard Bank, which it says lies within Vietnam's 200-mile exclusive economic zone. China has had a dispute with Malaysia over Luconia Shoal and Manila protested after a Chinese fishing vessel hit a fishing boat with 22 Filipinos at Reed Bank and left as it sank at night in June. The Filipinos were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.

Greg Poling, director of the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, which tracks actions by rival states in the disputed waters, said China is using its artificial islands to bolster its vast claims and allow its navy, coast guard and militia vessels "to operate over every inch of the South China Sea in a way they never could before."

China's assertive actions will also undermine negotiations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a so-called code of conduct to check aggressive actions in the disputed waters, according to Carl Thayer, another South China Sea expert.

The 10-nation ASEAN bloc includes four nations contesting China's territorial claims. Chinese President Xi Jinping has expressed hope the proposed code may be concluded in three years.

"One must ask what will be left for ASEAN claimant states to negotiate if China continues to control access to fishing grounds and hydrocarbon exploration," Thayer said.


Philippines declares dengue outbreak a national epidemic

Philippine Health Secretary Dr. Francisco Duque III is shown in this April 30, 2019 file photo. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Associated Press

Manila, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' Department of Health on Tuesday declared the country's outbreak of dengue to be a national epidemic.

The agency said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III made the declaration to improve the response to the outbreak by allowing local governments to draw on a special Quick Response Fund.

It said the Philippines recorded 146,062 cases of dengue from January through July 20 this year, 98% more than the same period in 2018. It said the outbreak caused 622 deaths.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection found in tropical countries worldwide. It can cause joint pain, nausea, vomiting and a rash, and can cause breathing problems, hemorrhaging and organ failure in severe cases. While there is no specific treatment for the illness, medical care to maintain a person's fluid levels is seen as critical.

The Department of Health said that starting Tuesday, it was conducting a campaign to focus on finding and destroying mosquito breeding sites, which is a primary means of containing dengue. Other government agencies, local government units, schools, offices and communities will join in the effort, it said.

Other Southeast Asian countries have also reported an upsurge in dengue cases this year, according to the U.N.'s World Health Organization. The organization said Malaysia had registered 62,421 cases through June 29, including 93 deaths, compared to 32,425 cases with 53 deaths for the same period last year. Vietnam over the same period had 81,132 cases with four deaths reported, compared to 26,201 cases including six deaths in 2018.

In South Asia, Bangladesh has been facing its worst-ever dengue fever outbreak, putting a severe strain on the country's already overwhelmed medical system.


12 injured, 1 missing in Russia's military depot fire

In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, a family watches explosions at a military ammunition depot near the city of Achinsk in eastern Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region, in Achinsk, Russia. (AP Photo/Dmitry Dub)

Associated Press

Moscow (AP) — Powerful explosions at a military depot in Siberia have injured 12 people and left one missing, and forced over 16,500 people to leave their homes, officials said Tuesday.

A fire erupted Monday at an ammunition depot near the city of Achinsk in eastern Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region, triggering massive blasts that continued for about 16 hours.

Russia's Defense Ministry said the explosions ended early Tuesday and 10 heavy-lift transport planes and 8 helicopters began dropping water on the depot.

The Emergencies Ministry said that 9,533 people have been evacuated from the area 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the depot and about 7,000 fled on their own as massive explosions sent plumes of black smoke high into the skies.

Officials said Tuesday that 12 people were injured and one person is missing and feared dead.

The authorities suspended air traffic within 30 kilometers (19 miles) of the munitions site, halted train movement and blocked highways around the area.

They lifted the air traffic ban Tuesday after the explosions ended.

Officials didn't immediately announce the cause of the fire, the latest in a series of blazes at Russian military arsenals over the past few years.


Car bomb collides with vehicles in Egypt capital, killing 20

People survey the aftermath of a fiery car crash outside the National Cancer Institute in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Samy Magdy

Cairo (AP) — A car packed with explosives being driven to carry out an attack collided with other vehicles and exploded in central Cairo, killing at least 20 people, the Interior Ministry said Monday, the deadliest attack in the Egyptian capital in over two years.

The blast went off Sunday night on the busy Corniche boulevard along the Nile River, setting other cars on fire and injuring at least 47. It damaged Egypt's main cancer hospital nearby, shattering parts of the facade and some rooms inside, forcing the evacuation of dozens of patients.

Authorities had initially said the explosion was caused by a multi-vehicle accident. But later Monday, the Interior Ministry acknowledged that a car bomb was involved.

It accused a militant group known as Hasm, which has links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, saying it was moving the car to carry out an attack elsewhere. The ministry did not say what the intended target was. The car had been stolen months earlier in the Nile Delta, it said.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called it a "terrorist incident" in a tweet, expressing condolences for the dead and vowed to "face and root out terrorism."

The attack is the deadliest in Cairo since a bombing at a chapel adjacent to Egypt's main Coptic Christian cathedral killed 30 people during Sunday Mass in December 2016. That attack was claimed by Egypt's affiliate of the Islamic State group.

Smaller bombings, usually by roadside devices, have taken place more often, targeting security forces and in two cases tourists near the Pyramids. Car bombs, however, have been far rarer in the capital.

For years, Egypt has battled Islamic militants, led by an IS affiliate, in the Sinai Peninsula. That insurgency has at times spilled over into other parts of the country.

Militant attacks increased after el-Sissi, as defence minister, led the military's 2013 ouster of then-President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader, after massive protests against his rule. Since then, the government has waged a major crackdown on the Brotherhood, banning it and declaring it a terrorist organization. Morsi collapsed and died in a Cairo courtroom in June.

Sunday's blast damaged the cancer hospital's main gate and several patient rooms and wards, according to a statement from the Cairo University, whose medical school uses the institution as an educational facility. Windows and glass doors on the hospital building were shattered.

"Parts of the ceiling of the hospital were collapsing as I got out of my room," said one patient, Mahmoud el-Sayed. "People were running everywhere and shouting."

At least 78 patients were evacuated to other hospitals. The Health Ministry did not say whether any patients or hospital staff were among the casualties.

Multiple vehicles on the street were damaged, burning those inside, said another witness, Mohamed Ashraf. "People were struggling to get the passengers out," he said.

In its initial account of the explosion, the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, said a vehicle was driving against traffic on the boulevard and collided with up to three other cars, causing an explosion. It didn't elaborate when it later announced the car bomb, and it was not clear which vehicle in that scenario was the vehicle with explosives.

The police quickly cordoned off the area of the crash, as prosecutors began an investigation. Unidentified body parts were being collected in a body bag from the site, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in TV comments.

The hospital is close to Cairo's Tahrir Square, which became known internationally as the scene of mass protests in the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

After the blast, some patients with appointments Monday were left stranded, waiting outside the hospital with their relatives. Ahmed Ramadan, a farmer, had brought his daughter from their home 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of Cairo for chemotherapy.

"We do not know where to go," he said.
 


A day of striking sows chaos across Hong Kong

A protester throws back a tear gas canister in Hong Kong on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Yanan Wang and Christopher Bodeen

Hong Kong (AP) — A general strike in Hong Kong descended into citywide mayhem Monday as defiant protesters started fires outside police stations and hurled bricks and eggs at officers. After disrupting traffic early in the day, they filled public parks and squares in several districts, refusing to disperse even as police repeatedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets from above.

While previous large rallies over the past two months of anti-government protests have generally been held on weekends, Monday's strike paralyzed city operations in an effort to draw more attention to the movement's demands.

Hong Kong is on "the verge of a very dangerous situation," said Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who insisted that she has no plans to resign.

Lam said at a news conference that the protests had "ulterior motives" that threaten Hong Kong's prosperity and security. "I don't think at this point in time, resignation of myself or some of my colleagues would provide a better solution," she said.

Protesters challenged law enforcement in at least eight districts, responding to continuous rounds of tear gas with practiced swiftness. They lobbed the canisters back at police and yelled invectives. When police arrived, the protesters clacked their umbrellas together and pounded on metal street signs, daring the officers to move closer.

"Gangsters!" they jeered at the riot police. "Reclaim Hong Kong, revolution of our time."

In one neighborhood after nightfall, a band of men wielding wooden poles charged protesters from behind a thin road lane divider. The demonstrators fought back by throwing traffic cones, metal barricades and rods. Hong Kong media also reported a brawl in a different district where men with knives slashed at protesters.

In another neighborhood, demonstrators besieged police headquarters in what they called a "flash mob." They threw bricks and flaming bottles at the building before rapidly retreating.

The violence followed a day of striking that sparked bedlam throughout the city. Protesters started early, with the aim of hampering the morning rush hour. In the subway, they blocked train and platform doors, activated emergency alarms and threw objects onto the tracks.

A high number of strikers in the airline industry also led to more than 77 flight cancellations, according to the airport authority.

"Too much," said 52-year-old John Chan, whose flight to Singapore was cancelled. "Why do they have to create trouble for people not involved in their cause? Hong Kong is sinking. The government, police and protest people have to stop fighting and give us a break."

The strike was the latest action in a summer of fiery demonstrations that began in response to proposed extradition legislation that would have allowed some suspects to be sent to mainland China for trials.

While the government has since suspended the bill, protesters have pressed on with broader calls for it to be scrapped entirely, along with demands for democratic reforms including the dissolution of the current legislature and an investigation into alleged police brutality. In recent weeks, footage has shown police officers beating protesters and ignoring calls for help during a mob attack that left 44 injured in a commuter rail station.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997 under a framework of "one country, two systems," which promised the city certain democratic freedoms not afforded to the mainland. With the arrests of booksellers and activists in recent years, however, some Hong Kong residents feel that Beijing has been eroding their rights.

The Communist Party-led central government in Beijing has condemned what it calls violent and radical protesters who have vandalized the Chinese national emblem and more recently thrown the country's flag into the iconic Victoria Harbour. China has accused unnamed "foreign forces" of inflaming the demonstrations out of a desire to contain the country's development.

CCTV, China's state broadcaster, warned Monday that the "maniacs and thugs" will "pay a price."

"Please become aware of your errors, turn back from your incorrect path and set down the butcher's knives," said an editorial read aloud on the noon news program.

A slick publicity video released last week by the Chinese army garrison regularly stationed in Hong Kong fed speculation that Beijing will deploy the military to quell the mass demonstrations. But Kong Wing-cheung, a police spokesman, said the city's officers are fully supported by the government and there will be no need to deploy the military.

More than 400 protesters have been arrested since June 9, when a massive march drew more than 1 million people and launched the protest movement. Those being held, who range in age from 14 to 76, face charges including rioting, unlawful assembly, possessing offensive weapons and assaulting officers and obstructing police operations, said spokeswoman Yolanda Yu Hoi-kwan.

Yu said police have used 1,000 tear gas grenades and fired more than 300 non-lethal bullets. More than 100 officers have been injured. Yu added that violence has been escalating, with protesters using gasoline bombs and fire.

"If we continue to tolerate and turn a blind eye to lawless behavior, the consequences will be undesirable for our citizens," she said.

As demonstrators were marching through a business district Monday afternoon, some separated from the line and stopped to heckle a police officer in a watchtower. One person in a balaclava started throwing bricks at the lookout.

A man on his way home from work peered at the scene with a look of anguish.

The 40-year-old I.T. worker named Edward Chan said he couldn't go on strike because he feared judgment from his superiors. He added he's tormented by thoughts of the kind of Hong Kong his 12-year-old daughter will inherit.

Tears welled as he watched the ragtag young protesters stream past in their gas masks and helmets. "If we put them all in jail, how will their parents feel?" he asked. "Where will our future go?"


Malaysian police looking for missing 15-year-old London girl

Members of General Operations Force arrive to join a search operation for a missing 15-year-old London schoolgirl at The Dusun resort in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Associated Press

Kuala Lumpur (AP) — Police in Malaysia said Monday they are investigating the disappearance of a 15-year-old London girl, but there were no initial indications of foul play.

The family of Nora Quoirin says her father discovered her missing from her bedroom Sunday morning at a resort hotel in a nature reserve 63 kilometers (39 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur, with the window left open.

The Lucie Blackman Trust, a British charity supporting people during a crisis overseas, quoted the girl's aunt as saying the family considers her disappearance a criminal matter.

The girl's parents are an Irish-French couple, but have been living in London for about 20 years, the group said in a statement posted on its Facebook page. It is dealing with the media on behalf of the family.

The aunt, Aisling Agnew, said from Belfast that the 15-year old was especially vulnerable because she has learning and developmental disabilities.

"Nora would not know how to get help and would never leave her family voluntarily," said Agnew. "We now consider this a criminal matter. We are appealing to everyone to assist the local police in any way they can and to pass on any information that would help locate our beloved Nora without delay."

Che Zakaria Bin Othman, the deputy police chief for Negeri Sembilan, the state the girl's family was visiting, said "So far, there's no indication of foul play; however, the investigation is still ongoing."

He said he and the police chief met Sunday and Monday with the missing girl's family and officials from the embassies of Ireland and France.

"All officials are still up there at the hotel, we discussed with them all, and God willing, we will continue the search until it is successful," he said.

The Lucie Blackman Trust gave a somewhat different account of the police evaluation of the disappearance.

Citing information that it said came from Nora's family, it stated on its Facebook page that "Contrary to several reports that police are NOT treating Nora's disappearance as an abduction, the family have been told directly by police that they are treating it as both an abduction and missing persons case."


British Airways flight evacuated after filling with smoke

Spanish emergency services say that they have responded to a British Airways flight that filled with smoke while landing at Valencia airport, (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Associated Press

Madrid (AP) — Spanish emergency services say they have responded to a British Airways flight that filled with smoke while landing and had to evacuate its passengers.

News agency Europa Press said Monday that local government officials reported that three people have been treated for smoke inhalation and another 10 to 12 were treated for knocks received when they slid down inflatable emergency slides after arriving at the airport in the eastern city of Valencia.

Emergency services for the regional government of Valencia say they received an alert that one of the plane's engines had caught fire. Responders only saw smoke when they got to the airport.

An airline spokesman said: "We can confirm that British Airways flight BA422 from Heathrow to Valencia has been involved in an incident today."


9 killed in Ohio in second US mass shooting within 24 hours

Shoes are piled outside the scene of a mass shooting including Ned Peppers bar, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Dan Sewell and John Minchillo

Dayton, Ohio (AP) — A shooter in body armor and carrying extra magazines opened fire early Sunday in a popular nightlife area of Dayton, Ohio, killing nine and injuring dozens before being slain by police, authorities say, in the second U.S. mass shooting in less than 24 hours.

Police patrolling the area responded in less than a minute to the shooting, which unfolded around 1 a.m. on the streets of downtown Dayton's Oregon District, Mayor Nan Whaley said.

Had police not responded so quickly, "hundreds of people in the Oregon District could be dead today," Whaley said.

The historic neighborhood that police Lt. Col. Matt Carper described as "a safe part of downtown," is home to bars, restaurants and theaters.

The suspected shooter, who has not been identified, was shot to death by responding officers. Whaley said the shooter was carrying a .223-caliber rifle and had additional high-capacity magazines. Police believe there was only one shooter, and also have not yet given a motive for the attack.

Whaley said at least 27 people were treated for injuries, and at least 15 of those have been released. Several more remain in serious or critical condition, local hospital officials said at a news conference.

They said some people suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and others suffered injuries as they fled.

Nikita Papillon, 23, was across the street at Newcom's Tavern when the shooting started. She said she saw a girl she had talked to earlier lying outside Ned Peppers Bar.

"She had told me she liked my outfit and thought I was cute, and I told her I liked her outfit and I thought she was cute," Papillon said. She herself had been to Ned Peppers the night before, describing it as the kind of place "where you don't have to worry about someone shooting up the place."

"People my age, we don't think something like this is going to happen," she said. "And when it happens, words can't describe it."

Tianycia Leonard, 28, was in the back, smoking, at Newcom's. She heard "loud thumps" that she initially thought was someone pounding on a dumpster.

"It was so noisy, but then you could tell it was gunshots and there was a lot of rounds," Leonard said.

Staff of an Oregon District bar called Ned Peppers said in a Facebook post that they were left shaken and confused by the shooting. The bar said a bouncer was treated for shrapnel wounds.

A message seeking further comment was left with staff.

President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting and praised law enforcement's speedy response in a tweet Sunday.

Gov. Mike DeWine issued his own statement, announcing that he ordered flags in Ohio remain at half-staff and offering assistance to Whaley and prayers for the victims.

Whaley said she has been in touch with the White House, though not Trump directly, and with DeWine. She said more than 50 other mayors also have reached out to her.

The FBI is assisting with the investigation.

A family assistance center was set up at the Dayton Convention Center, where people seeking information on victims arrived in a steady trickle throughout the morning, many in their Sunday best, others looking bedraggled from a sleepless night. Some local pastors were on hand to offer support, as were comfort dogs.

The Ohio shooting came hours after a young man opened fire in a crowded El Paso, Texas, shopping area, leaving 20 dead and more than two dozen injured. Just days before, on July 28, a 19-year-old shot and killed three people, including two children, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California.

Sunday's shooting in Dayton is the 22nd mass killing of 2019 in the U.S., according to the AP/USA Today/Northeastern University mass murder database that tracks homicides where four or more people were killed — not including the offender. The 20 mass killings in the U.S. in 2019 that preceded this weekend claimed 96 lives.

Whaley said the Oregon District is expected to reopen Sunday afternoon, and a vigil is planned Sunday evening. The minor league Dayton Dragons who play in nearby Fifth Third Field postponed their Sunday afternoon game against the Lake County Captains "due to this morning's tragic event."

The shooting in Dayton comes after the area was heavily damaged when tornadoes swept through western Ohio in late May, destroying or damaging hundreds of homes and businesses.

"Dayton has been through a lot already this year, and I continue to be amazed by the grit and resiliency of our community," Whaley said.


Hong Kong protests disrupt flights, subways as strike called

Protesters with protective gear take a train to the anti-extradition bill protest destination, in Hong Kong on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Associated Press

Hong Kong (AP) — At least 100 flights were cancelled and subway service widely disrupted in Hong Kong on Monday as a pro-democracy movement called for a general strike.

Cathay Pacific and other domestic carriers such as Hong Kong Airlines were the most affected by the flight cancellations, public broadcaster RTHK said. Airport express train service was also suspended.

A citywide strike and demonstrations in seven districts in Hong Kong have been called for Monday afternoon. They follow a weekend of clashes with police on the streets.

Hong Kong has seen protests all summer. A movement against an extradition bill that would have allowed residents to be sent to mainland China to stand trial has expanded into demands for an investigation into alleged police abuse at protests and the dissolution of the legislature. Protesters also want full democracy for the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Protesters snarled the morning rush hour by blocking train and platform doors to prevent trains from leaving stations.

Subway and train operator MTR said Monday that service had been partially suspended on five lines because of a number of door obstruction incidents.

It's the third time in three weeks that protesters have disrupted train service.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam called a morning news conference ahead of what could be a chaotic day in her city.


Nuon Chea, ideologue of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, dies at 93

In this Nov. 16, 2018 file photo, Nuon Chea, who was the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologist and No. 2 leader, sits in a court room before a hearing at the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.(Mark Peters/Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia via AP)

Sopheng Cheang

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (AP) — Nuon Chea, the chief ideologue of the communist Khmer Rouge regime that destroyed a generation of Cambodians, died Sunday, the country's U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal said. He was 93.

Nuon Chea was known as Brother No. 2, the right-hand man of Pol Pot, the leader of the regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The group's fanatical efforts to realize a utopian society led to the death of some 1.7 million people — more than a quarter of the country's population at the time — from starvation, disease, overwork and executions.

Researchers believe Nuon Chea was responsible for the extremist policies of the Khmer Rouge and was directly involved in its purges and executions.

He was serving life in prison after convictions by the U.N.-backed tribunal on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

But Nuon Chea never admitted his guilt.

At the long-awaited Khmer Rouge trials, he told a court that he and his comrades were not "bad people," denying responsibility for any deaths.

For decades after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Nuon Chea lived quietly with his family in a wooden house in Pailin, a former guerrilla stronghold near the border with Thailand.

"I wasn't a war criminal," he said in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press. "I admit that there was a mistake. But I had my ideology. I wanted to free my country. I wanted people to have well-being."

He was arrested in 2007 to face trial along with other surviving but ailing top Khmer Rouge leaders, and charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, religious persecution, homicide and torture.

Three decades after his accused crimes, Nuon Chea took the stand as an old man with white hair and sunken cheeks. Frail from a variety of health problems — including high blood pressure, heart problems and cataracts — he peered over eyeglasses as he defiantly defended the regime he served.

"I don't want the next generation to misunderstand history. I don't want them to believe the Khmer Rouge are bad people, are criminals," Nuon Chea testified in 2011 at the age of 85. "Nothing is true about that."

During his testimony, he insisted that the regime was not responsible for any atrocities and reiterated long-standing Khmer Rouge claims that mass graves found after the Khmer Rouge were ousted from power held the bodies of people killed by Vietnamese troops.

"These war crimes and crimes against humanity were not committed by the Cambodian people," Nuon Chea said. "It was the Vietnamese who killed Cambodians."

Vietnam, a onetime communist ally of the Khmer Rouge, suffered several bloody attacks from them and finally struck back in late 1978, chasing the Khmer Rouge from power in early 1979 and installing a client regime of former members of the Khmer Rouge who had split with the group. One of them was Cambodia's current prime minister, Hun Sen.

Nuon Chea's fellow defendants also denied any wrongdoing: Khieu Samphan, the regime's former head of state, who also told the court he bore no responsibility for atrocities, and Ieng Sary, the regime's former foreign minister. Ieng Sary died before the trials concluded, but Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea were found guilty in the tribunal's final verdicts in November 2018.

At one point before his arrest, Nuon Chea told journalists that he had become an adherent of Buddhism — an irony for the man who served a regime that abolished religion and turned Buddhist monasteries into sites for torture and execution.

Nuon Chea was born on July 7, 1926, to a wealthy Sino-Cambodian family in Battambang province in northwestern Cambodia. He studied law at Thammasat University in Thailand.

In an interview with government agents a year after his surrender in 1998, Nuon Chea said he joined the communist movement in Thailand in 1950. Other sources say he became a communist in 1948 and returned to Cambodia a year later.

That was a time when communist and nationalist groups, struggling to oust French colonialists, were gaining strength in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Nuon Chea said in that interview that he and Saloth Sar, Pol Pot's real name, played key roles in building up a homegrown movement free from the dominance of Vietnam, which was to become the Khmer Rouge's arch-enemy.

In its early stages, that movement was largely in disarray, facing constant threats from authorities and having neither a clear strategy nor adequate resources, according to Nuon Chea.

Nuon Chea said he and Pol Pot worked together in mapping out "a strategic path and tactics" that the party adopted at a clandestine congress at the Phnom Penh railway station in September 1960.

"Marxism-Leninism was the goal of the party, which had to be built from the countryside up. Rural areas were the basis for cities to rely on and ignite" the revolution, Nuon Chea said.

After coming to power in 1975 following a brutal war, the Khmer Rouge evicted people from cities and turned the country into a vast labor camp.

For a movement known for paranoia and secrecy, Nuon Chea was as shadowy as Pol Pot, or even more so, according to historians.

"Except for Nuon Chea, Pol Pot was the least accessible Cambodian leader since World War II," David Chandler, an American scholar on Cambodia, wrote in "Brother Number One," a biography of Pol Pot.

Researchers say he was the chief ideologue responsible for devising the Khmer Rouge's most brutal policies, notably at Tuol Sleng — or S-21 — prison, which is now a genocide museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. Some 16,000 men, women and children passed through the prison's gate before being tortured and executed.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which researches Khmer Rouge crimes, said strong evidence links Nuon Chea to the killings. He said the 800,000 documents about the country's holocaust his center has gathered include many that incriminate Nuon Chea.

"He was born like all of us, but he was driven by power and he later committed crimes against his own people," Youk Chhang said Sunday.

After being ousted from power in 1979, the Khmer Rouge waged guerrilla warfare for another two decades before disintegrating. Pol Pot died in the jungle in 1998, and on Christmas Eve that year, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan surrendered.

Prime Minister Hun Sen welcomed the duo at his home and gave them and family members a beach holiday, providing sports utility vehicles and security escorts.

When asked at the time who was to blame for the massacres under his regime, Nuon Chea told a news conference, "Let's consider that an old issue."


Indonesian capital hit by massive 8-hour power outage

Motorists navigate through traffic during a power outage in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Associated Press

Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's sprawling capital and other parts of Java island were hit by a widespread power outage on Sunday that affected tens of millions of people.

The eight-hour blackout began at around noon and caused disruptions in cellphone services and cash machines. The new mass subway system in Jakarta, the capital, had to shut down.

Muhammad Kamal, the spokesman for the company that operates the subway system, said the company managed to safely evacuate all of the passengers who were stuck in trains during the blackout.

Television footage showed that traffic lights went off in Jakarta and other parts of Java, causing traffic problems.

State-owned electricity company PLN's spokesman Made Suprateka said in a statement that the blackout was caused by problems with a gas turbine at a major power plant and by a disruption at another facility on Java. He said authorities were investigating the cause of the trips in the turbines.

The outage hit not only the Jakarta metropolitan area, but also several other regions on Java.

Jakarta is a congested, polluted and sprawling metropolis of 10 million that swells to three times that number when counting those living in the larger metropolitan area. Java is one of the world's most densely populated islands, home to more than 150 million people — more than half of Indonesia's population of 267 million.


Civil servants join Hong Kong protests as Beijing accuses US

Protesters gather at a demonstration by civil servants in Hong Kong Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Yanan Wang and Christopher Bodeen

Hong Kong (AP) — Hong Kong civil servants and supporters crowded into a public park Friday to join a pro-democracy movement that China's top diplomat accused Western nations of provoking.

Several thousand joined the rally for government workers in solidarity with protesters who have called for greater rights and government accountability over the past two months. As rain hit the umbrella-ready crowd, attendees dispersed willingly, avoiding the police clashes that have increasingly beleaguered demonstrations.

"As civil servants, if we don't stand up, that means we are disloyal," said K. H. Wu, a retiree who worked for the government's Census Department for 40 years. "Our loyalties are not to a particular government, but to the people."

Wu attended the rally with his wife, also a civil servant. He said this was the first time he participated in a rally in which he openly shared his status as a former government worker. He said he did so because he feels "there's nothing to be afraid of."

"Right now the Hong Kong government is blindly leading the people," Wu said. "They disregard the needs of the population. With Hong Kong like this right now, you have to rid yourself of all fear."

Officials had warned civil servants ahead of the rally they could be disciplined if they showed partiality or criticized special officials and polices. The increased risk was written into posters about the event, which cautioned participants against calling for the resignation of government officials, expressing anything related to Hong Kong independence and accepting donations.

As the crowd flooded into the streets, demonstrators held up signs saying "We are civil servants and willing to step up!" and "Political neutrality does not equal conscienceless."

About a thousand medical workers participated in a rally Friday in another part of the city. In recent days, representatives of the financial and medical sectors have also held rallies to show their support for protesters.

More protests are planned for this weekend, fed by anger over the government's refusal to communicate, violent tactics used by police — along with accusations those tactics were in coordination with organized crime figures — and the arrest of 44 people this week on rioting charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

Meanwhile, China's top diplomat was quoted by the state Xinhua News Agency on Friday accusing the U.S. and other Western nations of arranging meetings between high-level officials and protest leaders and encouraging their actions.

"The U.S. and some other Western governments ... are constantly fanning the flames of the situation in Hong Kong," State Councilor Yang Jiechi said.

His remarks follow statements earlier this week by a former Hong Kong official that the U.S. and self-governing democratic Taiwan were behind the unrest, sparked originally by Hong Kong's now-suspended attempt to push through legislation that could allow some criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and other Chinese officials and diplomats have similarly claimed without providing evidence that "Western forces" are behind the protests, while the head of the police union was quoted by Chinese media on Friday as calling for an investigation into the alleged U.S. role in the protests.

Asked for details on the Chinese allegations, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying pointed to what she called "irresponsible statements" by U.S. politicians and meetings between Hong Kong opposition figures and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pompeo this week described the claim of an American guiding hand directing the protests as "ludicrous on its face."

"I think the protests are solely the responsibility of the people of Hong Kong," Pompeo said.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing followed that up with a statement saying, "It is not credible to think millions of people are being manipulated to stand for a free and open society."

However, asked about the protests on Thursday, President Donald Trump echoed Beijing in labeling them "riots" and indicated the U.S. would stay out of a matter he considered to be "between Hong Kong and China."

Beijing has a long history of blaming unrest on shadowy foreign anti-China forces, including in the 1989 pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square that were bloodily suppressed by the military, and during an earlier round of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2014. That feeds into a narrative widely followed by mainland Chinese that the West and especially America is trying to contain and suppress their country's rise to economic and diplomatic prominence by sowing internal social and political discord.


India troop buildup, tourist advisory up Kashmir tension

In this Friday, July 26, 2019, file photo, Indian army soldiers keep guard near a war memorial during Kargil Vijay Diwas, or Kargil Victory Day, in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)

Aijaz Hussain

Srinagar, India (AP) — A government order in Indian-administered Kashmir on Friday asked tourists and Hindu pilgrims visiting a Himalayan cave shrine "to curtail their stay" in the disputed territory, citing security concerns and intensifying tensions following India's announcement it was sending more troops to the region.

Kashmir's home secretary, Shaleen Kabra, said in the order that the pilgrims and tourists should "curtail their stay in the (Kashmir) valley immediately and take necessary measures to return as soon as possible."

The order cited "prevailing security situation" and the "latest intelligence inputs of terror threats with specific targeting" of the annual Hindu pilgrimage as reasons for the advisory. The 45-day annual pilgrimage draws hundreds of thousands of people to the hallowed mountain cave, the Amarnath shrine.

The order comes after officials on Thursday suspended the pilgrimage for four days due to bad weather along the route. The pilgrimage began on July 1 and about 300,000 pilgrims have visited the icy cave so far this year, according to officials.

In the past, dozens of pilgrims have been killed in attacks blamed on rebels. However, hundreds of people have died due to exhaustion and exposure in harsh weather during arduous treks in the icy mountains.

Muslim rebels fighting for decades against Indian rule in Kashmir accuse India's Hindu majority of using the pilgrimage as a political project to bolster its claim on the contested region.

The advisory is likely to escalate the tensions in the region, which has been on edge since last week when India announced it was deploying at least 10,000 more soldiers to one of the world's most militarized areas. The troop buildup has sparked fears that New Delhi is planning to scrap an Indian constitutional provision that disallows Indians from buying land in the Muslim-majority region.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and each claim the divided Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. Most Kashmiris support the rebels' demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

Later Friday, residents in the region's main city of Srinagar and other towns thronged grocery stores and medical shops to stock up on essentials. They lined up at ATMs to take out money and at gas stations to fill up their vehicles.

Kashmir, a region known for lush green valleys, lakes, meadows and dense forested mountains, has become notorious for long hauls of security lockdowns and crackdowns.

Tourist operators called the advisory an attack on the Kashmir economy.

"The advisory is not about hundreds of thousands of Indian migrant laborers who earn their livelihood in Kashmir. It's about tourists who spend in Kashmir," said Sajjad Ahmed, a tourist operator. "The Amarnath pilgrimage has already been suspended and the handful tourists are told to leave Kashmir. How else would you understand it?"

An Indian soldier was killed Friday during a gunbattle with rebels in the region. The fighting erupted after police and soldiers cordoned off a village in southern Shopian area on a tip that militants were hiding there, police said. In the exchange of gunfire, at least one soldier was killed and another wounded.

As the news of the counterinsurgency operation spread, anti-India protests and clashes broke out with villagers trying to reach near the site of fighting and help the trapped militants to escape. At least three civilians were injured in the clashes with government forces, who fired shotgun pellets and tear gas to stop stone-throwing protesters from marching in the streets.

Indian soldiers are ubiquitous in Kashmir and residents make little secret of their fury at their presence in the Himalayan region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in its election manifesto earlier this year promised to do away with special rights for the Kashmiris under India's Constitution.

A top security official said the entire security grid in Kashmir has been directed to be on "alert as major policy revamp in in offing" regarding Kashmir. "We don't know exactly what it's about but it's certainly some kind of decision which has far-reaching security implications," the official said on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.

Omar Abdullah, a top pro-India Kashmiri leader who has criticized Modi government's muscular approach in Kashmir, said in a tweet Friday that the security alert, "if actually issued, would be about something very different" and not about removing special status.

Ordinary Kashmiris fear that the already ongoing crackdown against anti-India dissenters will be intensified.

"The uncertainty makes the situation simply horrific and as frightening as it can be," said Javaid Ahmed, a resident in Srinagar. "People are dead worried about their lives and families."

Kashmir has seen renewed rebel attacks and repeated public protests against Indian rule in last few years as a new generation of Kashmiri rebels, especially in the southern parts of the region, has revived the militancy and challenged New Delhi's rule with guns and effective use of social media.

About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown since 1989.


UK military drafted in to prevent dam collapse

An RAF Chinook helicopter carrying sandbags arrives at the dam at Toddbrook reservoir near the village of Whaley Bridge, central England, Friday Aug. 2, 2019, after it was damaged by heavy rainfall. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

Danica Kirka

London (AP) — A British military helicopter dropped sandbags Friday to shore up a reservoir wall as emergency services worked frantically to prevent a rain-damaged dam from collapsing.

Engineers said they remain "very concerned" about the integrity of the 19th-century Toddbrook Reservoir, which contains around 1.3 million metric tons of water.

As the Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter made continuous runs to dump the sandbags against the reservoir wall, about 150 firefighters used pumps to bring down the water level, lowering it around 8 inches (20 centimeters) overnight.

"It is a critical situation at this point in time," said Julie Sharman, chief operating officer of the Canal and River Trust, which runs the reservoir. "And until we're beyond that critical situation, the risk is a material risk and that's why we've taken the action we have."

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the town of Whaley Bridge on Thursday with police officers going door-to-door to notify residents. People in the town, located 175 miles northwest of London, were advised to stay with friends and family elsewhere if possible, and to take pets and several days of essential medications with them.

A heat wave last week has been followed by heavy rains in many parts of the U.K., causing flash flooding that has inundated homes, roads and train lines. Railway lines near the Whaley Bridge area have been closed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers to chair a meeting of the government's emergency committee, COBRA, to discuss the situation.

Some residents in the Whaley Bridge area were shocked by the sudden turn of events.

"I've lived in Whaley for the best part of 45 years and I've never seen water flood over the dam like that, ever, nor thought that we could possibly be at risk in this way," Carolyn Whittle said.

The Environment Agency has 10 flood alerts, six flood warnings, and one severe flood warning in place in England.


German customs seize 4.5 tons of cocaine, worth $1.1 billion

German customs authorities seized 4.5 tons of cocaine in a container shipped in Hamburg, Germany, from Uruguay. (German Custom via AP)

Associated Press

Berlin (AP) — German customs authorities say they have seized 4.5 tons of cocaine in a container shipped from Uruguay, a haul with an estimated street value of nearly 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

The customs office in Hamburg said Friday that the drugs were seized two weeks ago when it checked the container that was en route from Montevideo to Antwerp, Belgium. The paperwork stated that it was loaded with soya beans, but customs officials could only see black sports bags when they opened it up.

They found more than 4,200 packets of cocaine in the 211 bags. It was Germany's biggest single seizure of cocaine to date.

The customs office said that the drugs have already been destroyed "amid strict secrecy and extensive security precautions."


Rebel missile attack, suicide bombs kill 51 in Yemen's Aden

Civilians gather at the site of a deadly attack in Aden, Yemen, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Maggie Michael and Ahmed Al-Haj

Aden, Yemen (AP) — Rebels in Yemen fired a ballistic missile Thursday at a military parade in the southern port city of Aden and coordinated suicide bombings targeted a police station in another part of the city. The attacks killed at least 51 people and wounded dozens, officials said.

The missile hit in the city's neighborhood of Breiqa where a military parade was underway by forces loyal to the United Arab Emirates, a member of the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2015 in support of Yemen's internationally recognized government.

The missile attack killed at least 40, a health official said.

The parade was taking place at the pro-coalition al-Galaa camp in Aden, said a security official, without giving a breakdown for the casualties. Since the rebels seized the country's capital, Sanaa, in 2014, Aden has served as the temporary seat of the government.

The website of the Houthi rebels, Al-Masirah, quoted spokesman Brig. Gen. Yehia Sarea as saying the rebels had fired a medium-range ballistic missile at the parade, leaving scores of casualties, including military commanders.

The security official told The Associated Press that UAE-backed commander Monier al Yafie, also known by his nickname Aboul Yamama, was among those killed. He was delivering a speech during the parade, the official said.

A short while earlier, a car, a bus and three motorcycles laden with explosives targeted a police station in the city's Omar al-Mokhtar neighborhood during a morning police roll-call, said Abdel Dayem Ahmed, a senior police official.

Four suicide bombers were involved in the attack, which killed 11 and wounded at least 29, Ahmed told the AP.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the police station bombings but both Yemen's al-Qaida branch and an Islamic State group affiliate have exploited the chaos of the country's war between the Houthis and the government forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition.

A Yemeni health official said that along with the 51 killed, as many as 56 were wounded in Thursday's attacks. Both the security and health official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Charred remains of the attackers' vehicles were seen at the scene of the police station attack, next to a meter-deep crater caused by the bombings. Doctors Without Borders tweeted that dozens of wounded were transferred to the aid group's surgical hospital in Aden, where families of the victims had gathered.

Zakarya Ahmed, a senior police officer who was inside the three-story station when the bombings took place, described the attack as "a disaster."

"I felt myself flying in the air and falling down, hitting the floor," Ahmed said. "When I got up on my feet, I saw bodies burning, others torn into pieces."

Thursday's attacks were the deadliest in Aden since November 2017, when the IS affiliate in Yemen targeted the city's security headquarters, leaving 15 dead, mostly policemen.

Deputy Interior Minister Ali Nasser Lakhsha told reporters as he inspected the site of the bombed-out police station that it was unclear who was behind the assault.

"This is a horrific terrorist attack targeting our police," the minister said.

The attackers' motorcycles were still burning as blood pooled on the staircase of the police station and the street outside was littered with shattered glass and debris from blown-out doors and windows.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Houthis, who drove out the internationally recognized government. Months later, in March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched its air campaign to prevent the rebels from overrunning the country's south.

In the relentless campaign, Saudi-led airstrikes have hit schools, hospitals and wedding parties and killed thousands of Yemeni civilians. The Houthis have used drones and missiles to attack Saudi Arabia and have also targeted vessels in the Red Sea.

Thursday's attacks in Aden came just weeks after the UAE began withdrawing thousands of its troops from Yemen, leaving behind what it says are some 90,000 trained local forces. The UAE also has high level commanders and forces in Yemen, but has pulled back 50-75% of its forces, insiders have said.

The UAE pullout came against the backdrop of escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a crisis between Washington and Tehran following the U.S. pullout last year from the nuclear deal with Iran.

For its part, Iran has repeatedly denied supplying the Houthis with drone or ballistic missile technology, both of which the rebels have increasingly used, including to target neighboring Saudi Arabia. The kingdom has claimed that Iran supplied the missiles or at least helped the Houthis manufacture them from parts that were in Yemen before the war.


North Korea fires projectiles in 3rd weapons test in 8 days

This image broadcasted by North Korea's KRT on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, shows a rocket soaring during a test in North Korea. (KRT via AP Video)

Kim Tong-Hyung

Seoul, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired unidentified projectiles twice Friday into the sea off its eastern coast in its third round of weapons tests in just over a week, South Korea's military said.

The increased testing activity is seen as brinkmanship aimed at increasing pressure on Seoul and Washington over the stalled nuclear negotiations. North Korea also has expressed frustration at planned U.S.-South Korea military exercises, and experts say its weapons displays could intensify in the coming months if progress on the nuclear negotiations isn't made.

By test-firing weapons that directly threaten South Korea but not the U.S. mainland or its Pacific territories, North Korea also appears to be dialing up pressure on Seoul and testing how far Washington will tolerate its bellicosity without actually causing the nuclear negotiations to collapse, analysts say.

Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launches were conducted at 2:59 a.m. and 3:23 a.m. from an eastern coastal area but did not immediately confirm how many projectiles were fired or how far they flew. An official from the JCS, who didn't want to be named, citing office rules, said more analysis would be required to determine whether the projectiles were ballistic missiles or rocket artillery.

South Korea's presidential office said chief national security adviser Chung Eui-yong held an emergency meeting with government ministers to discuss the latest launch. Kim Eun-han, a spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry, said the Seoul government expressed "deep regret" over the launches that it believes could negatively affect efforts to stabilize peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Japan's Defense Ministry said it was analyzing the launch and that the projectiles did not reach Japanese territorial waters or its exclusive economic zone.

The North fired short-range ballistic missiles on July 25 and conducted what it described as a test firing of a new multiple rocket launcher system on Wednesday.

Amid the stalemate in nuclear negotiations with the United States, North Korea has significantly slowed diplomatic activity with the South while demanding Seoul turn away from Washington and proceed with joint economic projects that have been held back by U.S.-led sanctions against the North.

The North's new launches came as the United Kingdom, France and Germany — following a closed U.N. Security Council briefing — condemned the North's recent ballistic activity as violations of U.N. sanctions and urged Pyongyang to engage in "meaningful negotiations" with the United States on eliminating its nuclear weapons.

The three countries also urged North Korea "to take concrete steps toward its complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" and said international sanctions should remain in place and be fully enforced until its nuclear and ballistic missile programs are dismantled.

U.S. officials have downplayed the threat of the launches to the United States and its allies.

However, the North's recent weapons demonstrations have dampened the optimism that followed President Donald Trump's impromptu summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 30 at the inter-Korean border. The leaders agreed to resume working-level nuclear talks that stalled since February, but there have been no known meetings between the two sides since then.

The North has claimed the United States would violate an agreement between the leaders if it moves on with its planned military exercises with South Korea and said it will wait to see if the August exercises actually take place to decide on the fate of its diplomacy with Washington.

Trump said on Thursday he wasn't worried about the weapons recently tested by North Korea, calling them "short-range missiles" that were "very standard."

On Thursday, North Korea's state media said leader Kim Jong Un supervised the first test firing of a new multiple rocket launcher system he said would soon serve a "main role" in his military's land combat operations.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff had assessed the activity Wednesday as a short-range ballistic missile launch, saying the missiles flew about 250 kilometers (155 miles), a range that would be enough to cover the metropolitan region surrounding capital Seoul, where about half of South Koreans live, and a major U.S. military base just south of the city.

On July 25, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles that Seoul officials said flew 600 kilometers (370 miles) and as high as 50 kilometers (30 miles) before landing in the sea.

North Korea said those tests were designed to deliver a "solemn warning" to South Korea over its purchase of high-tech, U.S.-made fighter jets and the planned military drills, which Pyongyang calls an invasion rehearsal. The North also tested short-range missiles on May 4 and 9.

Attending an Asian security conference in Bangkok, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday the Trump administration remains ready to resume talks with North Korea now, but said a meeting this week would be unlikely.


Partial Dutch ban on face-covering clothing takes effect

In this Monday Jan. 21, 2013 file photo, a woman wearing a full-face veil known as niqab, pushes a baby stroller on snow-covered streets in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Mike Corder

The Hague, Netherlands (AP) — A new Dutch law took effect Thursday banning face-covering clothing — including the burqa and niqab worn by conservative Muslim women — on public transportation, in government buildings and at health and education institutions.

The Netherlands, long seen as a bastion of tolerance and religious freedom, is the latest European country to introduce such a ban, following the likes of France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Denmark.

Muslim and rights groups have voiced opposition to the law — formally called the "partial ban on face-covering clothing" — and an Islamic political party in Rotterdam has said it will pay the 150-euro ($167) fines for anybody caught breaking it.

There were no immediate reports Thursday morning of anybody being fined under the new law, which was passed despite the fact that very few women in the Netherlands wear a burqa or niqab — estimates put the number at a few hundred in this nation of 17 million.

Anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, whose calls for a total burqa ban ignited more than a decade of debate before parliament approved the law last year, welcomed the introduction of the limited ban as "a historic day" and called for it to be expanded to include Islamic headscarves.

"I believe we should now try to take it to the next step," Wilders told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "The next step to make it sure that the headscarf could be banned in the Netherlands as well."

The Dutch government has insisted that its partial ban doesn't target any religion and that people are free to dress how they want. A government site explaining the new ban says, however, that "this freedom is limited at locations where communication is vital for good quality service or for security in society."

Wilders dismissed that explanation as political correctness.

Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren, who wasn't available for comment Thursday, said earlier this year that the government will evaluate the new law after three years — usually such evaluations follow five years after a new law is implemented.

It remains to be seen how strenuously the law will be enforced in the Netherlands.

The national federation of academic hospitals said in a statement that enforcement is up to police and prosecutors. It added: "We are not aware of any cases in which wearing face-covering clothing or a possible ban has led to problems" in health care.

The head of the umbrella organization of public transport companies also has said that bus drivers and train conductors don't have the power to enforce it and would have to leave it up to police.

The Dutch ban came into force eight years after France became the first European nation to ban the public use of veils, both face-covering niqabs and full-body burqas. A 2004 law also bans Muslim hijab headscarves and other prominent religious symbols from being worn in state schools, but doesn't apply in universities.

France's tough law fell foul of the U.N. Human Rights Committee, which last year ruled that the country violated the human rights of two women by fining them for wearing the niqab.

Professor Tom Zwart of the University of Utrecht, who studies the intersection of law, culture and religion, said that the ban is largely symbolic, but for women who wear a niqab "the ban is still on the books, and if they come across a strict bus driver or tram conductor, they might still be in trouble. This undoubtedly has a chilling effect on their ability to take part in public life."


Wildfires spread in remote Siberia, Russian Far East

Heavy smoke covers the center of the eastern Siberian city of Chita, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (AP Photo)

Associated Press

Moscow (AP) — Hundreds of Russian towns and cities are shrouded in heavy smoke from wildfires in Siberia and the Far East Thursday, and the blazes appear to be spreading in remote terrain.

Avialesookhrana, Russia's aerial forest protection service, said more than 30,000 square kilometers (11,850 square miles) are on fire, with the vast majority in areas that are hard to reach and where potential damage is likely to be less than the cost of fighting them.

Although the fires have not hit populated areas, heavy smoke from them is affecting about 800 communities, officials said, including the large cities of Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk and Chita.

Footage on Russian television showed planes dumping water on fires that were belching smoke amid vast stretches of trees. Firemen on the ground sprayed thin water streams on small fire remnants.

States of emergency have been declared in the regions of Irkutsk, Buryatia, Sakha and Krasnoyarsk.

In Chita, 4,700 kilometers (2,900 miles) east of Moscow, the center of the city was cloaked in heavy gray as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited. Medvedev called for effective use of local resources to fight the fires.

The Russian military has joined the firefighting efforts, sending transport planes and helicopters. But activists believe the government is not taking nearly enough action and plan to protest Thursday evening at the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Meteorologists say rain is expected in some of the burning areas, but not enough to put out the fires, state news agency Tass reported.

Some of the fires are believed to have been started by lightning strikes. Russia's Investigative Committee, the country's main criminal investigative body, said Thursday it was sending representatives to the region to probe the causes.


Bangladesh grapples with country's worst dengue outbreak

A child receives treatment for dengue at Dhaka Shishu Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

Abdur Rahman Jahangir

Dhaka, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh is facing its worst-ever dengue fever outbreak as hospitals are flooded with patients, putting a severe strain on the country's already overwhelmed medical system.

The mosquito-borne viral infection has spread across the country with 61 out of 64 districts reporting dengue cases by late Tuesday.

The government has confirmed 15,369 dengue cases since Jan. 1. Of those, 9,683 patients were diagnosed between July 1 and July 30. As of Tuesday, about 4,400 patients, including many children, were undergoing hospital treatment. There have been 14 deaths.

Officials from Dhaka, the overcrowded megacity that is the epicenter of the outbreak, have struggled to contain it, drawing criticism and spreading panic among some residents.

Dengue is found in tropical areas around the world and is spread by a type of mosquito that mainly lives in urban areas. The virus causes severe flu-like symptoms and while there is no specific treatment for the illness, medical care to maintain a person's fluid levels is seen as critical.

There are fears that the situation in the countryside will worsen as many residents of the city travel to villages to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha next month. Infected humans can serve as a source of the virus for uninfected mosquitoes.

Ayesha Akhter, assistant director at the Directorate General of Health Services under the Ministry of Health, said an outbreak of dengue has accompanied every monsoon since 2000, but this year's situation is the worst.

A DGHS study identified a six-fold increase in the Aedes aegypti mosquito population in four months in Dhaka as the primary cause of the larger-than-average outbreak.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization said the dengue situation in Bangladesh was "alarming but not out of control."

Other countries in Asia are also facing a surge in dengue cases this year, including Thailand, where 53,699 cases and 65 deaths were reported as of July 23.

Nevertheless, with dengue cases soaring in recent weeks, Dhaka hospitals have been running out of room and manpower to treat new patients.

Prof. Abul Kalam Azad, director general of DGHS, said they had asked the hospitals to increase beds for dengue patients and to open dengue wards. The government also halved the charges for diagnosing dengue and directed public and private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centers to do the same.

The Dhaka Medical College Hospital, the largest hospital in the country, opened a special ward for dengue patients, said A.K.M. Nasir Uddin, its director general.

Prof. Uttam Kumar Barua, director of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital, another major public hospital in Dhaka, said they were relying on senior medical students to assist doctors in the face of so many patients.

Barua said they were admitting every dengue patient who entered the hospital but could not provide beds or even seats for everyone, adding that many had been asked to wait in hospital corridors and verandas.

Abul Kalam, a rickshaw puller, said it was quite a task to get his 4-year-old boy admitted to the DMCH.

"My boy is recovering fast. The doctors are taking good care of him," he said.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is now in London on an official visit, on Tuesday called for concerted efforts to fight the illness.

"The government is working to tackle dengue," she told an emergency meeting of her ruling Awami League party from London in a teleconference.

"I urge everyone to keep their houses and surrounding areas clean. That will save us from the disease," she said.

The country's opposition parties and urban planning experts blamed the central and local government's lack of preparedness for the rise in dengue cases. People have taken to Facebook to vent their anger about city authorities' failure to control dengue-carrying mosquitoes.


Bus hit by roadside bomb in Afghanistan, 32 killed

 

Afghans assist a wounded man in a hospital after a roadside bomb on the main highway between the western city of Herat and the southern city of Kandahar, in Herat, Afghanistan, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)

Rahim Faiez

Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) — A roadside bomb tore through a bus in western Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least 32 people, including children, a provincial official said.

Mohibullah Mohib, spokesman for the police chief in Farah province, said the explosion also wounded 15 people. Most of the wounded were said to be in critical condition, indicating the death toll could rise.

The bus was traveling on a main highway between the western city of Herat and the southern city of Kandahar.

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but the Taliban operate in the region and frequently use roadside bombs to target government officials and security forces. The Islamic State group's affiliate in Afghanistan is also known to have been behind attacks in the area. IS militants frequently target civilians, especially the country's minority Shiites.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned Wednesday's attack and reiterated that "international humanitarian law explicitly prohibits indiscriminate attacks and attacks directed against civilians," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The U.N. chief appealed to all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians, Dujarric said.

The Taliban have kept up a steady tempo of attacks even as they have held several rounds of peace talks with the United States aimed at ending the 18-year war.

The attack came a day after the U.N. mission in Afghanistan released a report saying that most civilian deaths in the first half of the year were caused by Afghan forces and their international allies. The report apparently referred to civilians killed during Afghan and U.S. military operations against insurgents.

The U.N. report said 403 civilians were killed by Afghan forces in the first six months of the year and another 314 by international forces, a total of 717. That's compared to 531 killed by the Taliban, an Islamic State affiliate and other militants during the same period. It said 300 of those killed by militants were directly targeted.

The U.N. said the leading cause of civilian deaths and injuries was "ground engagements," which caused one in three casualties. Roadside bombs were a close second, accounting for 28%. Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world — a legacy of decades of war.

A spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday disputed the results and methodology of the U.N. report, saying the government is committed to protecting civilians.

Sediq Sediqqi said the Taliban were the "major cause" of civilian deaths and accused them of deliberately targeting schools, mosques and hospitals. He said "we are sorry" for civilian casualties during Afghan security operations, but accused the Taliban of using civilians as human shields. He also said the U.N. had drastically undercounted the number of civilians killed by the Taliban.

The Taliban, who effectively control half the country, have been meeting with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad since late last year. They appear to be closing in on an agreement whereby American forces would withdraw from Afghanistan in return for guarantees that it would not be used as a launch-pad for international terror attacks.

Khalilzad has been in Kabul for talks with Afghan officials over the past several days and is expected to go to Islamabad next.

The Afghan government has been largely sidelined in the Taliban-U.S. talks, with the insurgents refusing to negotiate with Kabul officials.


North Korea says it tested crucial new rocket launch system

People watch a TV showing an image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Kim Tong-Hyung

Seoul, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Thursday leader Kim Jong Un supervised test firings of a new multiple rocket launcher system that could potentially enhance its ability to strike targets in South Korea and U.S. military bases there.

The report by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on Thursday differed from the assessment by South Korea's military, which had concluded Wednesday's launches were of two short-range ballistic missiles.

The launches from the eastern coastal town of Wonsan were North Korea's second weapons test in less than a week and were seen as a move to keep up pressure on Washington and Seoul amid a stalemate in nuclear negotiations. Pyongyang has also expressed anger over planned U.S.-South Korea military drills.

KCNA said Kim expressed satisfaction over the test firings and said the newly developed rocket system would soon serve a "main role" in his military's land combat operations and create an "inescapable distress to the forces becoming a fat target of the weapon." The report didn't directly mention the United States or South Korea, but experts say the rocket system, along with new short-range missiles the North tested in recent weeks, could potentially pose a serious threat to South Korea's defense.

The agency provided no specific descriptions of how the "large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system" performed during the launches, but said the tests confirmed the system's technical characteristics and "combat effectiveness." North Korea's state media didn't immediately release images of the tests.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday that the weapons it then assessed as missiles flew about 250 kilometers (155 miles) at an apogee of 30 kilometers (19 miles), a range that would be enough to cover the metropolitan area surrounding capital Seoul and a major U.S. military base just south of the city.

When asked whether it failed to distinguish between multiple-rocket launchers and ballistic missiles, Kim Joon-rak, an official from the JCS, said the South Korean and U.S. militaries currently share an assessment that the flight characteristics from Wednesday's launches were similar to North Korea's new short-range missiles tested last week. He said further analysis was needed to identify the weapons.

South Korea's military had said the flight data of the missile launched last week showed similarities to the Russian-made Iskander, a short-range, nuclear-capable missile that is highly maneuverable and travels on lower trajectories compared to conventional ballistic weapons.

Choi Hyun-soo, spokeswoman of Seoul's Defense Ministry, refused to answer when asked whether it's possible that the North might have mixed in a ballistic missile launch while testing its new rocket system.

Kim Dong-yub, an analyst from Seoul's Institute for Far Eastern Studies and a former South Korean military official, said the North might have tested an improved version of its 300-millimeter multiple rocket launcher system or an entirely new system,  such as a 400-millimeter system.

South Korea's military had no immediate comment over the North Korean report. U.S. officials have downplayed the threat of the launches to the United States and its allies.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to discuss the latest launches behind closed doors Thursday at the request of the United Kingdom, France and Germany, council diplomats said.

Analysts say North Korea with its consecutive weapons tests is demonstrating its displeasure with the pace of nuclear diplomacy with Washington. The North's testing activity could intensify if the negotiations do not proceed rapidly over the next few months, said Srinivasan Sitaraman, a North Korea expert at Clark University in Massachusetts.

By firing weapons that directly threaten South Korea but not the U.S. mainland or its Pacific territories, North Korea also appears to be testing how far Washington will tolerate its bellicosity without actually causing the nuclear negotiations to collapse, other experts say.

Since the collapse of a summit between Kim and Trump in February over disagreements in exchanging sanctions relief and disarmament, the North has significantly slowed diplomatic activity with the South while demanding Seoul to break away from Washington and proceed with joint economic projects that have been held back by U.S.-led sanctions against the North.

Last Thursday, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles that Seoul officials said flew 600 kilometers (370 miles) and as high as 50 kilometers (30 miles) before landing in the sea. North Korea's state media said those tests were supervised by Kim and were designed to deliver a "solemn warning" to South Korea over its purchase of high-tech, U.S.-made fighter jets and the planned military drills, which Pyongyang calls an invasion rehearsal. The North also tested short-range missiles on May 4 and 9.

Earlier last week, Kim visited a newly built submarine and expressed his satisfaction with its weapons system. North Korea said its deployment was "near at hand."

In a private briefing to lawmakers Wednesday, South Korean military intelligence officers said they've determined that the submarine likely has three launch tubes for missiles, according to Lee Hye-hoon, head of parliament's intelligence committee. If confirmed, it would be North Korea's first operational submarine with missile launch tubes, some experts said.

North Korea acquiring the ability to launch missiles from submarines would be an alarming development because such missiles are harder to detect in advance.

Wednesday's launches came hours after a senior U.S. official said President Donald Trump sent Kim mementos from his brief visit to an inter-Korean border town late last month.

The official said a top staffer from the National Security Council hand-delivered photographs from the leaders' June meeting at the Korean Demilitarized Zone to a North Korean official last week. The Trump administration official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

The DMZ meeting was the third summit between Trump and Kim. At their second meeting, in Vietnam in February, Trump rejected Kim's demand for widespread sanctions relief in return for dismantling the North's main nuclear complex, a partial disarmament step.

During the DMZ meeting, Trump and Kim agreed to resume nuclear diplomacy in coming weeks, but there hasn't been any known meeting between the countries.


4 more inmates die in Brazil following deadly prison clash

Family members attend the funeral of a prisoner who was killed during a riot at a prison in Altamaria, Para state, Brazil, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Raimundo Pacco)

Diane Jeantet

Rio de Janeiro (AP) — Four inmates allegedly involved in deadly clash between prison gangs have died of asphyxiation while being transferred to a safer lockup, authorities said Wednesday, as families of victims began to bury their relatives.

The Para state public security office said the four were discovered dead when the prison vehicle arrived in the town of Maraba.

They said vehicle had four compartments and was carrying 30 handcuffed inmates who were suspected of involvement in Monday's clash gangs at the Altamira prison.

Authorities said the four who died were from the same gang and said they are investigating.

The prisoners were among 46 being sent to other prisons, including stricter federal ones.

Several holes had been dug in the rust-colored earth at the cemetery of Altamira, where grieving families began to arrive Wednesday to mourn some of the 58 inmates killed by a rival gang in a grisly prison riot.

"We need more security, we need more room (for detainees)," said Gelson Gusmao, whose son died in Monday's clashes. "There's a lot of overcrowding in the prisons, so we want our president to improve the situation inside."

Back at the forensic institute, dozens of grief-stricken, frustrated families were still waiting to identify slain relatives, fighting off the odor of decomposing bodies.

Only 21 bodies had been released to family members by Wednesday morning, a process slowed by the small size of the morgue, lack of staff to deal with the sudden flow of corpses and problems with lighting that meant staff can only work until 6:30 p.m.

In the Amazon heat, the bodies were being kept in a large refrigerated truck. But Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported that for lack of space, corpses were being kept under a makeshift, uncooled tent.

Forensic expert Marcel Ferreira said some passed out when called on the day before to identify the beheaded or burnt bodies of loved ones.

The forensic institute said at least six bodies would undergo DNA testing to be identified.

State officials said clashes erupted in Altamira early Monday when the local Comando Classe A gang attacked a wing of the prison holding members of the rival Comando Vermelho, or Red Command.

In many of Brazil's prisons, badly outnumbered guards struggle to retain control over an ever-growing population of inmates, with jailed gang leaders often able to run their criminal activities from behind bars.

Comando Classe A members allegedly set fire to the temporary containers where inmates belonging to Red Command were being held while construction of another wing was underway. Victims died of burns, asphyxiation and 16 had been decapitated.

"This is clearly a declaration of war on the Red Command," said Jean-Franšois Deluchey, adjunct professor in political science at the Federal University of Para who has been studying the region for 20 years.

Authorities have not yet revealed the exact motive for the clash, only confirming that it was a fight between criminal groups. But several recent prison massacres have been attributed to gangs battling to control drug-trafficking routes in the multibillion-dollar Amazon drug trade.

In May, two days of unrest in the neighboring state of Amazonas left 55 prisoners dead in four different prisons of that state's capital, Manaus. In 2017, more than 120 inmates died in prisons across several northern states.

"It's the same logic, the same movement," Deluchey said. According to him, Red Command has a strong presence in the north and is trying to expand further in the region.

Deluchey said it is hard to confirm with certainty, but initial reports indicated that Comando Classe A, a local gang thought to have been created recently inside the Altamira prison, is linked to another powerful Brazilian gang, First Capital Command.

"The First Capital Command is losing grounds and it looks like Comando Classe A is helping them stop the hegemony of Red Command," he said.

The professor said he had already seen promises of retaliations by members of Red Command for Monday's attack.

Gruesome violence is often used in Brazilian prisons to gain respect and send a strong message to new arrivals, he said. "Violence is to impress, to frighten, so that new (inmates) join the side of those who decapitate, and not the decapitated."

The killings represent a challenge for the far-right administration of President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro ran a tough-on-crime campaign, promising to curb epidemic violence in Brazil, including in its overcrowded and out-of-control prisons.

The president publicly addressed the killings Tuesday in a video published on the online G1 news portal. Asked by journalists whether security should be strengthened at Altamira prison, Bolsonaro replied: "Ask the victims of those who died in there what they think."

Brazil has the world's third-largest prison population, behind the United States and China, with more than 720,000 individuals behind bars, according to official data from 2017. Some Brazilian prisons have more than three times as many inmates as their maximum capacity.

At Altamira, a local judge revealed in a July report examined by The Associated Press that he had counted 343 detainees in a facility authorized for a maximum of 163 people.


Indonesia says British man caught in Bali with drugs, porn

British national Terence Murrell, left, is escorted by immigration officers during a press conference in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Yoan Ari)

Associated Press

Denpasar, Indonesia (AP) — An alleged British fugitive was arrested in Bali with pornography and drugs, Indonesian authorities said Tuesday, after U.K. media reported that the man was selling explicit videos of himself online to fund an extravagant lifestyle on the island.

Immigration official Amran Aris said that based on British media reports, the 31-year-old man, Terrence David Murrell, is wanted by police in the U.K.

Authorities cited a British media report that Murrell, a model and bodybuilder, fled the U.K. to avoid a prison sentence for selling steroids.

Murrell was paraded at a news conference Tuesday where Aris described pornography on the suspect's cellphone as "deviant."

Indonesia, a socially conservative country, has strict laws against narcotics and the production and distribution of pornography.

"About his pornographic content, I did not say that it was made in Bali," Aris said. "I don't know that it was Indonesia or Thailand and the place where the crime was committed needs further police investigation."

Murrell was arrested on Sunday in Bali, the top tourist destination in Indonesia, and had overstayed his Indonesian tourist visa by more than 150 days. He tested positive for drugs, Aris said, and also had various paraphernalia for drug use.

"We are still investigating the porn content, including digital forensic examinations to prove pornography law violation," said Denpasar chief police detective Wayan Artha Ariawan. "At this moment, he could face immigration violation and illegal drugs use (charges)."


Germany says suspected train pusher had psychiatric problems

Flowers and candles lay near the track where an eight-year-old boy was pushed on the rails and died at the train station in Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, July 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Geir Moulson

Berlin (AP) — An Eritrean man suspected of fatally pushing an 8-year-old boy in front of a train at Frankfurt's main station had undergone psychiatric treatment recently and was being sought by Swiss police after threatening a neighbor, authorities said Tuesday.

The 40-year-old, who has lived in Switzerland for over a decade and has three small children, hasn't yet given any explanation for a possible motive for the killing that has horrified Germany, said Nadja Niesen, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in Frankfurt.

The boy's mother and then the 8-year-old were pushed onto the tracks as a high-speed ICE train was pulling into the Frankfurt station, one of Germany's busiest, on Monday morning. The 40-year-old mother managed to get out of the train's path but the boy was run over and killed.

The suspect then apparently tried unsuccessfully to push a third person, a 78-year-old woman, onto the track before fleeing. She fell and suffered a shoulder injury.

The man, whose name has not been released, was chased by passers-by, including an off-duty police officer, and arrested near the station.

A judge ordered him held in custody pending possible charges of murder and attempted murder.

Niesen said the nature of the crime raises the possibility of mental illness and a psychiatric assessment will be conducted. Swiss authorities later told reporters the man had undergone psychiatric treatment this year.

The suspect, who lived in the Zurich region, told German investigators that he took a train from the Swiss city of Basel to Frankfurt a few days ago.

He arrived in Switzerland in 2006 and applied for asylum, which he obtained in 2008, said Dieter Romann, the head of Germany's federal police. He had a long-term residence permit in Switzerland and worked there, and was considered well-integrated.

However, on July 25, he is alleged to have threatened a woman who lived next door with a knife and locked her in her apartment before fleeing, Romann said. Swiss authorities were seeking him, but he was not in German or other European databases, he added.

Zurich regional police chief Werner Schmid said officers called to the scene last week also found the man's wife and three small children locked inside their apartment. He told reporters in Zurich "the outbreak of violence was a surprise to his wife and to his neighbor."

Politicians from the far-right Alternative for Germany party seized on the case to assail the German government's immigration policies. Alternative for Germany has long attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel's welcoming approach to an influx of refugees and other migrants in 2015.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said "we neither exploit nor play down crime by foreigners."

Seehofer, speaking after he interrupted his vacation to meet with German security chiefs, said his ministry, the transport ministry and the German railway will discuss what can be done to improve security at German train stations.


Relatives collapse identifying beheaded inmates in Brazil

 

Relatives of inmates killed during a prison riot wait outside the coroner's office in Altamira, Brazil, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Raimundo Pacco)

Diane Jeantet

Rio de Janeiro (AP) — Relatives of inmates killed during a prison riot in northern Brazil gathered in the coroner's office Tuesday to identify the 58 victims, with some passing out at seeing the beheaded corpse of a loved one.

Seeking to prevent further violence at the Altamira prison in Para state, where gruesome violence Monday included 16 decapitations, authorities designated all 46 inmates accused of being involved for transfer to other prisons, including stricter federal ones. Local officials said at least 33 inmates had been moved on Tuesday to the state capital of Belem for reassignment.

A worker at the forensic institute in Altamira, Marcel Ferreira, described the anxiety among the relatives waiting outside the coroner's office and said the office had asked local authorities, firefighters and anyone present at the scene to bring water, food or medical assistance for the family members.

"Sometimes we think that (they) are in a safe place," said Antonia Vera Santana, a 43-year-old mother looking for news of her son, incarcerated in the Altamira prison. "But it's a lot worse there than it is out here."

Santana turned up at the institute at 7 a.m. Tuesday and was still waiting late in the day.

Forensic experts from neighboring cities in Para arrived to help deal with the flood of corpses. Bodies had to be stored in a large refrigerated truck rushed to Altamira after the news of yet another prison mass killing emerged.

The coroner's office said it had released 15 bodies to families by the close of the work day.

State officials say clashes erupted early Monday when the local Comando Classe A gang attacked a wing of the prison where members of rival gang Comando Vermelho, or Red Command, were held.

Comando Classe A set fire to the temporary containers where inmates belonging to Red Command were being held while construction of another wing was underway. Most of the victims died of asphyxiation.

"This is clearly a declaration of war on the Red Command," said Jean-Franšois Deluchey, adjunct professor in political science at the Federal University of Para who has been studying the region for 20 years.

Authorities have not yet revealed the exact cause of the latest attacks in Altamira, only confirming that it was a fight between criminal groups. But several recent prison massacres have been attributed to gangs clashing over control of drug-trafficking routes in the multibillion-dollar Amazon drug trade.

In many of Brazil's prisons, badly outnumbered guards struggle to retain power over an ever-growing population of inmates, with jailed gang leaders often able to run their criminal activities from behind bars.

In May, two days of unrest in the neighboring state of Amazonas left 55 prisoners dead in four different prisons of the state's capital, Manaus. In 2017, more than 120 inmates died in prisons across several northern states.

"It's the same logic, the same movement," Deluchey said. According to him, Red Command has a strong presence in the north and is trying to expand further in the region.

Deluchey says it is hard to confirm with certainty but initial reports indicated that Comando Classe A, a local gang thought to have been created not long ago inside the Altamira prison, is linked to another powerful Brazilian gang, First Capital Command.

"The First Capital Command is losing grounds and it looks like Comando Classe A is helping them stop the hegemony of Red Command," he said.

The professor said that information he has gathered indicates Red Command is already saying there will be retaliations for Monday's attack.

Gruesome violence is often used in Brazilian prisons to gain respect and send a strong message to new arrivals. "Violence is to impress, to frighten, so that new (inmates) join the side of those who decapitate, and not the decapitated."

The latest killings represent a challenge for the far-right administration of President Jair Bolsonaro. A former army captain, Bolsonaro ran a tough-on-crime campaign, promising to curb epidemic violence in Brazil, including in its overcrowded and out-of-control prisons.

The president publicly addressed the killings for the first time Tuesday, in a video published on the online news portal G1. Asked by journalists about what he thought about strengthening security in the Altamira prison, Bolsonaro replied: "Ask the victims of those who died in there what they think."

Brazil has the world's third-largest prison population, behind the United States and China, with more than 720,000 individuals behind bars, according to official data from 2017. Some Brazilian prisons have more than three times as many inmates as their maximum capacity.

In the Altamira prison, a local judge counted 343 detainees in a facility authorized for a maximum of 163 people, according to a report he filed in July and reviewed by The Associated Press.

State prisons authorities said Monday that the situation there does not meet their requirements to be considered overcrowded.


Congo officials say 2nd Ebola case confirmed in city of Goma

In this Sunday, July 14, 2019 photo, burial workers put on protective gear before carrying the remains of Mussa Kathembo, an Islamic scholar who had prayed over those who were sick, and his wife, Asiya, to their final resting place in Beni, Congo. Both died of Ebola. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Saleh Mwanamilongo

Kinshasa, Congo (AP) — Officials in Congo on Tuesday said a second Ebola case had been confirmed in Goma, the city of more than 2 million people whose first confirmed case in this yearlong outbreak was reported earlier this month.

There appeared to be no link between the man's case and the previous one in Goma, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, a local Ebola response coordinator, told reporters. He arrived on July 13 from a mining area in northeastern Congo's Ituri province and started showing symptoms on July 22. He is now isolated at an Ebola treatment center. Ebola symptoms can start to occur between two and 21 days from infection, health experts say.

Goma is on Congo's heavily traveled border with Rwanda and has an international airport. For months health officials had feared that an Ebola case would be confirmed there. Days after the first Goma case was announced, the World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak a rare global emergency.

This has become the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, with more than 1,700 people killed despite the widespread use of an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine. Containing the outbreak faces unprecedented challenges amid attacks by rebel groups and resistance by wary community residents in a region of Congo that had never experienced an Ebola outbreak before.

Muyembe and other officials on Tuesday sought to reassure both Goma residents and neighboring countries that measures were being taken to strengthen surveillance for Ebola at border posts and elsewhere. Neighboring Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan began vaccinating health workers weeks or months ago. WHO says the risk of regional spread remains "very high."

The declaration of a global health emergency — the fifth in history — brought a surge of millions of dollars in new pledges by international donors but some health workers say a new approach is needed to combat misunderstandings in the community. Far too many people in this outbreak are still dying at home, they say.

There is no licensed treatment for Ebola and survival can depend on seeking treatment as quickly as possible. And yet many people in the region don't believe that Ebola is real, health workers have said.

The first confirmed Ebola case in Goma was a 46-year-old preacher who managed to pass through three health checkpoints on the way from Butembo. The city is one of the communities hardest hit by this outbreak, which is second only to the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa that left more than 11,300 people dead..
 


DAILY UPDATE


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