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Update October, 2019


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More victims, more damage found in Japan typhoon aftermath

Utility workers survey damages in a neighborhood devastated by Typhoon Hagibis Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Nagano, Japan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man surveys damages at an apple orchard devastated by Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Yoshiki Yoshimura, 17, cleans up mud at his home after Typhoon Hagibis passed through the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man surveys a home damaged by Typhoon Hagibis Tuesday in Nagano. More victims and more damage have been found in typhoon-hit areas of central and northern Japan, where rescue crews are searching for people still missing. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

 A residential area is flooded after an embankment of the Chikuma River broke due to Typhoon Hagibis, in Nagano, central Japan. (Kyodo News via AP)

By Haruka Nuga & Mari Yamaguchi

Nagano, Japan (AP) — The toll of death and destruction from a typhoon that tore through central and northern Japan climbed Tuesday, as the government said it was considering approving a special budget for the disaster response and eventual reconstruction.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary session that the number of deaths tied to Typhoon Hagibis had climbed to 53 and was expected to rise, as at least another nine people are presumed dead. Japan's Kyodo News agency, citing its own tally, put the death toll at 69.

Abe pledged to do the utmost for the safety and rescue of those missing or those who had to evacuate.

"We put the people's lives first," he said.

Hagibis hit Japan's main island on Saturday with strong winds and historic rainfall that caused more than 200 rivers to overflow, leaving thousands of homes flooded, damaged or without power. Rescue crews on Tuesday were still searching for those missing, thought to number about 20.

Some 34,000 homes were without power and 110,000 lacked running water. More than 30,000 people were still at shelters as of late Monday, according to the Cabinet Office's latest tally.

Business appeared nearly back to normal in central Tokyo, and residents in areas where floodwater subsided started cleaning up. Lives, however, remained paralyzed in Nagano, Fukushima and other hard-hit areas that were still inundated.

Some residents in Nagano returned to their homes, only to find they may not be habitable.

Retired carpenter Toshitaka Yoshimura, who grew up in the Tsuno district of Nagano, was stunned when he returned to his home after staying at an evacuation center during the storm. His house was a mess. Doors were knocked out, his handmade furniture was tossed around and damaged, and everything from a futon to electronics were broken and covered with mud.

"I put a lot of effort in this house. I made all the furniture with my wife. Now look what happened in one day," he said, with his voice trembling with emotion. "Now this makes me want to cry."

At least some of his memorable photos with his family and relatives were intact, along with toys and games that his younger relatives played when they gathered at his house.

"I'm glad they survived at least," said his nephew Kazuki Yoshimura. "Perhaps we can still do something about the house, but nothing can be more precious than life."

In Fukushima, 11 bags containing possibly radioactive soil and debris removed as part of decontamination efforts from the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant were washed from two outdoor temporary storage sites and found downstream, the Environment Ministry said. Most of the remaining 5,000 bags stacked up at the two sites — one in Tamura city and another in Iitate — remained in place.

There was no risk to the environment because the waterproof bags were intact and hadn't leaked, the ministry said. It said, however, officials will take preventive measures ahead of future rainstorms.

A massive number of such bags are still being kept at 760 similar sites across Fukushima. Their transfer to a longer-term storage facility near the plant is expected to be completed by March 2022.

Speaking in parliament, Abe said there are concerns of lasting effects of the storm in hard-hit areas. He pledged speedy support for residents.

Abe said the government is funding the disaster response from the 500 billion yen ($4.6 billion) special reserve from the fiscal 2019 budget and may compile a supplementary budget if needed.

East Japan Railway Co. said its Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train services connecting Tokyo and Kanazawa were reduced because of flooding of six trains at its railyard in Nagano. The trains sat in a pool of muddy water that was up to their windows.

Questions have been raised about the site of the railyard, which sits in an area noted on a prefectural hazard map as a flood area. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the operator's preparedness should be investigated later but the priority is to get the trains out of the water. Some water has been pumped out, but more than half of the railyard is still underwater.

Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo. Follow her on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi


EU: Brexit deal still possible this week, UK must act now

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of EU General Affairs ministers, Article 50, at the European Convention Center in Luxembourg, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is in Luxembourg on Tuesday to brief ministers on the state of play for Brexit. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

By Raf Casert

Luxembourg (AP) — A Brexit divorce deal is still possible ahead of Thursday's European Union summit but the British government needs to move ahead with more compromises to seal an agreement in the next few hours, the bloc said Tuesday.

Even though many open questions remain, diplomats made it clear that both sides were for the first time within touching distance since an earlier EU-U.K. Brexit withdrawal plan fell apart in the British House of Commons in March.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said at a meeting of EU ministers that the main challenge now is to turn the new British proposals on the complex Irish border issue into something binding. EU member Ireland has a land border with the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and both want to keep that border invisible, for economic and peace treaty reasons. But once Britain leaves the bloc, that Irish border turns into an external EU border that the bloc wants to keep secure.

Barnier said it's "high time to turn good intentions into a legal text." He wants a clear answer by Wednesday morning to tell EU capitals what should be decided once the bloc's two-day summit kicks off on Thursday.

"Even if an agreement will be difficult — more and more difficult, we think — it is still possible this week," Barnier said.

To further boost the momentum, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss where more movement could be found.

Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on Oct. 31, and the EU summit this week was long considered one of the last possible chances to approve a divorce agreement to accommodate that deadline. Johnson insists his country will leave at the end of the month with or without a divorce deal, but British lawmakers have been adamant on avoiding a no-deal Brexit.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, who had a long, intense talk with Barnier early Tuesday, said the EU believes "this is difficult, but it is doable." He said Barnier addressed EU ministers and "did point to progress in the last number of days where the gaps have been narrowed."

A senior German official wouldn't rule out a Brexit agreement in principle by Wednesday afternoon, but stressed the importance of time-consuming specifications.

"The basis for our decisions are legal texts in which the details are settled," the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity in line with department rules, said in Berlin. "But there has been progress, and as always in these negotiations the biggest progress happens over the final meters."

Late Monday, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the British proposals to keep the Irish border protected from smuggling and fraud once it leaves the bloc were insufficient.

"The U.K. proposal contained some steps forward but not enough to guarantee that the internal market will be protected," Blok said.

One EU diplomat said for things to work, technical negotiators would need to finish their text and make it available by 10 a.m. Wednesday so European governments have time to assess them.

EU ministers insisted it was time for Johnson to make the next move — and he seemed to be listening. Besides the call with Macron, Johnson shifted Britain's weekly Cabinet meeting from Tuesday to Wednesday so he could give his ministers a better idea of Brexit progress.

If talks fail or stumble ahead of the EU summit, there could always be an extraordinary meeting just ahead of the Oct. 31 Brexit departure — or the Brexit deadline could be extended again.

"There will be progress tomorrow, the question is how big this progress will be," the German official said. "Is this progress so great that work is still needed, but this work can be done in the next few days? Or is the progress such that two more months' work is needed?"

Brexit negotiators, politicians and ordinary Europeans were all waiting for the answers to those questions.

Geir Moulson in Berlin and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed.


Turkish, Kurdish forces battle for key Syrian border town

In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke and dust billows from targets in Ras al-Ayn, Syria, caused by bombardment by Turkish forces, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. Turkish artillery on Tuesday pounded suspected Syrian Kurdish positions near the town in northeast Syria amid reports that Kurdish fighters had retaken the town as Turkey pressed ahead with a military incursion that has drawn widespread condemnation. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

By Lefteris Pitarakis & Bassem Mroue

Ceylanpinar, Turkey (AP) — Turkey defied growing condemnation from its NATO allies to press ahead with its invasion of northern Syria on Tuesday, shelling suspected Kurdish positions near the border amid reports that Syrian Kurds had retaken a key town.

Targeting Turkey's economy, U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday announced sanctions aimed at restraining the Turks' assault against Kurdish fighters and civilians in Syria — an assault Turkey began after Trump announced he was moving U.S. troops out of the way.

The United States also called on Turkey to stop the offensive and declare a cease-fire, while European Union countries moved to broaden an arms sale embargo against their easternmost ally.

Now in its seventh day, Turkey's offensive has sowed fear and chaos in an already war-weary region — and upended alliances amid Syria's eight-year conflict.

An Associated Press journalist reported heavy bombardment of targets in the countryside of Ras al-Ayn early on Tuesday, days after Turkey announced that it had captured the border town. Turkish jets also carried out at least one airstrike.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, reported that Syrian Kurdish fighters had retaken the town.

Turkish media reports said Turkey's military was responding to attempts by the Kurdish fighters to infiltrate Ras al-Ayn.

The renewed battle for the border town follows the deployment of Syria's army near the Turkish border, after Syrian Kurdish forces — saying they had been abandoned by their U.S. ally — reached a deal with President Bashar Assad's government to help them fend off Turkey's invasion.

Assad's return to the region his troops abandoned in 2012 at the height of the Syrian civil war is a turning point in the conflict, giving yet another major boost to his government and its Russian backers and is like to endanger, if not altogether crush, the brief experiment in self-rule set up by Syria's Kurds since the conflict began.

Washington said Trump was sending Vice President Mike Pence and national security adviser Robert O'Brien to Ankara as soon as possible in an attempt to begin negotiations over a stop to the fighting. Pence said Trump spoke directly to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who promised not to attack the border town of Kobani, which in 2015 witnessed the Islamic State group's first defeat in a battle by U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters.

A Turkish military official, meanwhile denied reports that Turkey had begun an assault on the Kurdish-held town of Manbij, without giving further detail.

The Manbij region is home to U.S. outposts that were set up in 2017 to patrol the tense frontiers between Turkish-controlled areas and the Kurdish-held side of northern Syria. A U.S. official said troops are still in the town, preparing to leave.

On Monday Syrian fighters backed by Turkey had said they had started an offensive to capture Manbij, which is on the western flank of the Euphrates River, broadening their campaign east of the river.

Erdogan for his part defended Turkey's offensive in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, calling on the international community to support Turkey's effort to create what it calls a resettlement "safe zone" for refugees in northeast Syria, or "begin admitting refugees."

"Turkey reached its limit," Erdogan wrote in reference to 3.6 million Syrian refugees in his country.  He said Turkey's warnings that it would not be able to stop refugee floods into the West without international support "fell on deaf ears."

Mroue reported from Beirut. Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser contributed from Ankara, Turkey.


Legendary Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov buried in Russia

In this Tuesday, July 20, 2010 file photo, former Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov speaks to the media before a reception at the U.S. Ambassador's Spaso House residence in Moscow, Russia. Russia's space agency says Alexei Leonov, the first human to walk in space 54 years ago, has died in Moscow. He was 85. Roscosmos says in a statement on its website that Leonov died on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

Associated Press

Mytishchi, Russia (AP) — Alexei Leonov, the first person to walk in space, has been laid to rest at a memorial cemetery outside the Russian capital of Moscow.

The legendary cosmonaut, who died Friday at 85, was buried Tuesday in a lavish ceremony, attended by hundreds of well-wishers and other celebrated cosmonauts.

Leonov staked his place in history on March 18, 1965, when he exited his space capsule to spend 12 minutes in outer space.

Ten years later, he was the commander of the Soviet section at the Apollo-Soyuz flight, the first joint Soviet-U.S. space mission.

Tom Stafford, commander of the U.S. section in the Apollo-Soyuz mission, came to the cemetery Tuesday to pay his last respects to Leonov, calling him a "colleague and friend."



Japan looks for missing after typhoon kills dozens

 

Typhoon-damaged cars sit on the street covered with mud Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Hoyasu, Japan. Rescue crews in Japan dug through mudslides and searched near swollen rivers Monday as they looked for those missing from typhoon Hagibis that left as many as 36 dead and caused serious damage in central and northern Japan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Two vehicles are submerged in floodwaters Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Hoyasu, Japan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Search and rescue team members wade through floodwaters Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Hoyasu, Japan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Residents are rescued in Marumori town, Miyagi prefecture, Japan Monday, Oct. 14, 2019 following Typhoon Hagibis. (Kyodo News via AP)

Residents clean a house damaged by Typhoon Hagibis, in Marumori town, Miyagi prefecture, Japan Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. (Kyodo News via AP)

By Jae C. Hong & Yuri Kageyama

Nagano, Japan (AP) — Rescue crews dug through mudslides and searched near swollen rivers Monday as they looked for those missing from a typhoon that left dozens dead and caused serious damage in central and northern Japan.

Typhoon Hagibis unleashed torrents of rain and strong winds Saturday, leaving thousands of homes on Japan's main island flooded, damaged or without power.

A riverside section of Nagano, northwest of Tokyo, was covered with mud, its apple orchards completely flooded and homes still without electricity.

Japan's Kyodo News agency reported that 48 people died from the typhoon, 17 were missing and some 100 were injured.

The government's Fire and Disaster Management Agency, which is generally more conservative in assessing its numbers, said 24 people were dead and nine were missing.

Experts said it would take time to accurately assess the extent of damage, and the casualty count has been growing daily.

Hagibis dropped record amounts of rain for a period in some spots, according to meteorological officials, causing more than 20 rivers to overflow. In Kanagawa prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, 100 centimeters (39 inches) of rain was recorded over 48 hours.

Some of the muddy waters in streets, fields and residential areas have subsided. But many places remained flooded Monday, with homes and surrounding roads covered in mud and littered with broken wooden pieces and debris. Some places normally dry still looked like giant rivers.

Some who lined up for morning soup at evacuation shelters, which are housing 30,000 people, expressed concern about the homes they left behind. Survivors and rescuers will also face colder weather, with northern Japan turning chilly this week.

Soldiers and firefighters from throughout Japan were deployed to assist with rescue efforts. Helicopters could be seen plucking some of the stranded from higher floors and rooftops of submerged homes.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government would set up a special disaster team, including officials from various ministries, to deal with the fallout from the typhoon, including helping those in evacuation centers and boosting efforts to restore water and electricity to homes.

"Our response must be rapid and appropriate," Abe said, stressing that many people remained missing and damage was extensive.

Damage was especially serious in Nagano prefecture, where an embankment of the Chikuma River broke.

In one area, a few vehicles in used car lots were flipped over by the waters that had gushed in, covering everything with mud. Apples swept from the flooded orchards lay scattered in the mud.

Areas in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures in northern Japan were also badly flooded.

In such places, rescue crew paddled in boats to reach half-submerged homes, calling out to anyone left stranded.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said 35,100 homes were still without electricity early Monday evening in Tokyo and nearby prefectures that the utility serves. That was down from nearly 57,000 earlier in the day.

East Japan Railway Co. said Hokuriku bullet trains were running Monday but were reduced in frequency and limited to the Nagano city and Tokyo routes.

Mimori Domoto, who works at Nagano craft beer-maker Yoho Brewing Co., said all 40 employees at her company were confirmed safe, though deliveries were halted.

"My heart aches when I think of the damage that happened in Nagano. Who would have thought it would get this bad?" she said.

Tama River in Tokyo overflowed, but the damage was not as great in the capital as in other areas. Areas surrounding Tokyo, such as Tochigi, also suffered damage.

Much of life in Tokyo returned to normal on Monday. People were out and about in the city, trains were running, and store shelves left bare when people were stockpiling were replenished.

Kageyama reported from Tokyo.


Pomp in London, talks in Brussels as Brexit deadline looms

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, with Prince Charles, delivers the Queen's Speech at the official State Opening of Parliament in London, Monday Oct. 14, 2019. (Victoria Jones/Pool via AP)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II travels in a carriage to parliament for the official State Opening of Parliament in London, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Guests in the House of Lords attend the official State Opening of Parliament in London, Monday Oct. 14, 2019. (Toby Melville/Pool via AP)

By Jill Lawless & Raf Casert

London (AP) — Britain and the European Union said Monday that divorce talks were making slow progress, as the U.K. government tried to look beyond Brexit with a wide-ranging policy platform read by Queen Elizabeth II in a pomp-filled ceremony.

In terms of historical importance, the painstaking paragraph-by-paragraph talks at the EU's glass-and-steel Berlaymont headquarters outweighed the regal ritual in which an ermine-draped monarch delivered a speech on the priorities of a Conservative government that could be out of office within weeks.

But the spectacle, complete with horse-drawn coaches, lords in scarlet robes and a diamond-studded crown, did provide a diversion from the long Brexit grind.

Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on Oct. 31, and an EU summit on Thursday or Friday is considered one of the last possible chances to approve a divorce agreement to accommodate that timeframe.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists the country will leave at the end of the month with or without a deal.

"My government's priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union on the 31st of October," the queen said in a speech to Parliament, written for her by the government.

It remains to be seen whether Johnson will achieve that goal.

Brexit negotiations have intensified over recent days after the British and Irish leaders said they could see a "pathway" to a deal. Technical teams from Britain and the EU worked through the weekend, but both sides said Monday that significant gaps remained between their positions.

Johnson's spokesman, James Slack, said "the talks remain constructive but there is still a lot of work to do."

Discussions centered on the difficult issue of the future border arrangements between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. Johnson has put forward a complex proposal to eliminate the need for customs checks, but EU officials say more work is needed.

An EU diplomat familiar with the talks said there would likely need to be a three-month extension to Brexit to turn the proposals into a legally binding deal.

"There are big problems remaining to counter smuggling and fraud because the British outlines are still that vague," said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing. "There is momentum but there is still little movement."

Arriving for a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said "a deal is possible, and it is possible this month.  May be possible this week. But we are not there yet."

In London, the queen delivered a speech outlining an ambitious — and critics say undeliverable — legislative program for Johnson's government.

The 10-minute speech, read by the 93-year-old monarch from a gilded throne in the House of Lords, included more than 20 bills, including a law to implement an EU withdrawal agreement, should one be reached.

It also contained plans for post-Brexit reforms to agriculture, fishing and immigration that will include the ending of the automatic right of EU citizens to live and work in Britain in 2021. The speech also included a long list of domestic policies, from longer sentences for violent criminals to no-fault divorce, tougher air pollution rules and new building-safety rules.

The government's critics called the speech a stunt, because Johnson's Conservative administration lacks a majority in Parliament and an election looks likely within the next few months, whether or not Britain leaves the EU as scheduled on Oct. 31.

"The Queen's Speech was an election broadcast for the Tory Party more than anything else," tweeted Scottish National Party leader in Parliament Ian Blackford.

The speech was part of the State Opening of Parliament, a ceremony steeped in centuries-old symbolism of the power struggle between Parliament and the British monarchy. Lawmakers are summoned to listen to the queen by a security official named Black Rod — but only comply after slamming the House of Commons door in their face to symbolize the chamber's independence from the monarch.

The state opening is usually an annual event, but amid the country's Brexit chaos there has been no queen's speech for more than two years — the longest gap for more than three centuries.

Lawmakers will hold several days of debate on the speech, culminating in a vote, which the government could well lose. That would heap even more pressure on Johnson's embattled administration.

The speech forms part of the run-up to the summit of EU leaders, including Johnson, in Brussels Thursday and Friday to see whether a Brexit deal is possible before Oct. 31.

The challenge of maintaining an invisible border on the island of Ireland — something that underpins both the local economy and the region's peace deal — has dominated Brexit discussions for three years since U.K. voters chose in 2016 to leave the EU.

Britain's Parliament is due to hold a Saturday sitting this week, for the first time since the Falklands War of 1982, to decide on the next steps after the summit.

If a Brexit deal is reached, it still needs to be approved by both the British and European parliaments. Many British lawmakers — on both pro-Brexit and pro-EU sides of the debate — remain unconvinced.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Sunday that his party was unlikely to support any deal agreed upon by Johnson.

Whether or not he secures a deal, Johnson is likely to face a move by parliament to hold a new referendum on whether to leave the bloc or remain. If there is no deal, lawmakers will try to ensure that the government seeks a delay to Brexit rather than crash out without an agreement on Oct. 31.

Casert reported from Luxembourg.


Ecuador indigenous, president strike deal to end protests

Indigenous leaders attend negotiations with President Lenin Moreno in Quito, Ecuador, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. The government and indigenous protesters started negotiations aimed at defusing more than a week of demonstrations that have paralyzed the nation's economy. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, left, speaks during negotiations with anti-government protesters as Arnaud Peral Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System and UNDP Representative in Ecuador, right, listen in Quito, Ecuador, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Anti-government protesters stand behind their burning roadblock as they face off with police near the National Assembly during a military curfew in Quito, Ecuador, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

Pedestrians walk among the debris of barricades set by anti-government protesters in Quito, Ecuador, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. President Lenin Moreno ordered the army onto the streets of Ecuador's capital Saturday after a week and a half of protests over fuel prices devolved into violent incidents. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

By Michael Weissenstein & Gonzalo Solano

Quito, Ecuador (AP) — President Lenín Moreno and leaders of Ecuador's indigenous peoples struck a deal late Sunday to cancel a disputed austerity package and end nearly two weeks of protests that have paralyzed the economy and left seven dead.

Under the agreement announced just before 10 p.m., Moreno will withdraw the International Monetary Fund-backed package known as Decree 883 that included a sharp rise in fuels. Indigenous leaders, in turn, will call on their followers to end protests and street blockades.

"Comrades, a deal is compromise on both sides," Moreno said. "The indigenous mobilization will end and Decree 883 will be lifted."

The two sides will work together to develop a new package of measures to cut government spending, increase revenues and reduce Ecuador's unsustainable budget deficits and public debt.

"The moment of peace, of agreement, has come for Ecuador," said Arnaud Peral, the United Nations' resident coordinator in Ecuador and one of the mediators of the nationally televised talks, which started about 6 p.m. "This deal is an extraordinary step."

Wearing the feathered headdress and face paint of the Achuar people of the Amazon rain forest, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations, Jaime Vargas, thanked Moreno and demanded improved long-term conditions for indigenous Ecuadorians.

"We want peace for our brothers and sisters in this country," Vargas said. "We don't want more repression."

Protests over the austerity package have blocked roads, shuttered businesses from dairies to flower farms and halved Ecuador's oil production, forcing a temporary halt to the country's most important export.

In a shift from the heated language of the last 10 days of protests, each side at the negotiations praised the other's willingness to talk as they outlined their positions in the first hour before a short break.

Other indigenous demands included higher taxes on the wealthy and the firing of the interior and defense ministers over their handling of the protests.

"From our heart, we declare that we, the peoples and nations, have risen up in search of liberty," Vargas said. "We recognize the bravery of the men and women who rose up."

Earlier in the day, hundreds of black-clad riot police drove protesters out of north-central Quito's Arbolito Park, the epicenter of the protests, and into surrounding streets.

The park had filled Friday with mostly peaceful protesters chanting against the government. But by Sunday afternoon the air was white with smoke from burning tires and tear gas after more than 24 hours of clashes between police and hard-core protesters armed with sharpened sticks and shields improvised out of satellite dishes or plywood. Adjoining streets were piled high with burned tires, tree branches and paving stones.

Volunteer medics from the fire department and medical schools waved white sheets on poles as they led downcast protesters out of the area to safety. Young men from Ecuador's indigenous minority and mixed race, or mestizo, majority, milled about on streets under the watch of police and a few dozen soldiers.

The public ombudsman's office said Sunday that seven people had died in the protests, 1,340 had been hurt and 1,152 arrested. The government loosened a 24-hour curfew imposed Saturday, allowing people to move freely around the capital between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The protests have drawn thousands of Ecuadorians from outside the indigenous minority.

Michael Limaico, an unemployed sign-maker, stood on a corner in the Carcelen neighborhood Saturday near a line of burned tires that blocked one of the Quito's main thoroughfares. Limaico said that he and his wife had struggled for years to feed and house their three children, ages 9 to 15, with their earnings of about $600 a month from odd jobs around northern Quito.

Then, prices of food and other basic goods rose sharply after Moreno removed fuel subsidies Oct. 2. Limaico said it had become impossible to make ends meet, and he had been protesting for days with neighbors who have blocked Diego de Vazquez Avenue as it passes through Carcelen.

"This isn't a protest of thieves, of gangsters," he said. "This is the people, and we're fed up."

Moreno said the masked protesters had nothing to do with the thousands of indigenous Ecuadorians who have protested for more than a week over the sudden rise in fuel prices, following on the heels of demonstrations by transport workers. Moreno blamed the violence on drug traffickers, organized crime and followers of former President Rafael Correa, who has denied allegations that he is trying to topple Moreno's government.

Moreno served Correa as vice president before he become president and the two men went through a bitter split as Moreno pushed to curb public debt amassed on Correa's watch.

Foreign Minister José Valencia told The Associated Press on Sunday that the Moreno administration believed Correa, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Colombia's far-left FARC and ELN guerrillas are working to destabilize Ecuador. He offered no proof beyond the fact that a handful of Correa loyalists and some Venezuelan nationals had been detained during the protests.

"They have a political agenda and the violence and chaos that they sowed yesterday in the city, a coordinated chaos, lets us see this political agenda," Valencia said.

Correa and Maduro have denied involvement in the protests.

Ecuador, a former OPEC member, was left deeply in debt by a decade of high spending by Correa's government and the international decline in oil prices. Moreno is raising taxes, liberalizing labor laws and cutting public spending in order to get more than $4 billion in emergency financing from the IMF.

As part of that plan, Moreno's elimination of subsidies drove the most popular variety of gasoline from $1.85 to $2.39 a gallon and diesel from $1.03 to $2.30. Panic and speculation sent prices soaring, with costs of some products doubling or more.

In the country's Amazon oil fields, protests at installations, described by some government officials as attacks, have halted or slowed production.

Ecuador had been producing 430,000 barrels a day, but that had dropped to 176,029 barrels by Sunday, said an official at state oil producer Petroamazonas, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information. The drop in output has led to a loss of about $14 million a day, the official said.

Associated Press writer Raisa Avila contributed to this report.


Protests erupt as Spain convicts leading Catalan separatists

Young people hold up signs in Catalan reading "Everybody to the airport" during protests in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. Spain's Supreme Court on Monday convicted 12 former Catalan politicians and activists for their roles in a secession bid in 2017, a ruling that immediately inflamed independence supporters in the wealthy northeastern region. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Riot policemen clash with protestors outside El Prat airport in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

By Aritz Parra & Ciaran Giles

Madrid (AP) — Riot police charged at protesters outside Barcelona's airport Monday after the Supreme Court sentenced 12 prominent Catalan separatists to lengthy prison terms for their roles in a 2017 push for the wealthy Spanish region's independence.

Police used batons against the protesters who converged on El Prat airport after a call by the grassroots group Democratic Tsunami, which supports Catalan secession. An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw police fire projectiles. Spanish media said police had used foam-type bullets.

A dozen people were treated for minor injuries at the scene, Catalan emergency service SEM said.

Spain's airport operator, AENA, said at least 67 flights were canceled.

The heavy prison sentences rallied the separatist cause, which is going through its most difficult period in years as its most charismatic leaders are behind bars or abroad, before Spain's Nov. 10 general election.

The Catalan separatist movement's two main political parties have been at odds over strategy, and the grassroots organizations that have driven the movement have voiced criticism about the lack of political progress.

Spain's caretaker prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said he hoped the sentence would mark a watershed in the long standoff between national authorities in Madrid and separatists in the Catalan capital Barcelona. Sánchez said the court's verdict proved the 2017 secession attempt had become "a shipwreck."

He urged people to "set aside extremist positions" and "embark on a new phase" for Catalonia.

But secessionists were defiant and took to the streets in a show of force.

Protesters also halted some Catalan train services by placing burning tires and wood on tracks. They also blocked some roads in the region. Further marches and protests were scheduled for Monday evening.

The convicted Catalan leaders — jailed for nearly two years while their case was heard — have grown into powerful symbols for the separatists. Many sympathizers wear yellow ribbons pinned to their clothes as a sign of protest.

Separatist politicians said they would give no ground.

Catalan regional president Quim Torra described the court's verdict as "an act of vengeance." He said it "will not stop us from acting on our determination to build an independent state."

Ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who with several others fled to Belgium in October 2017 when they were summoned to appear in court, said the general election is an opportunity to show "a massive response of rejection, as well as dignity and firmness" of Catalan separatism.

His comments came hours after a Spanish Supreme Court judge issued an international warrant for his arrest.

Andrew Dowling, an expert on contemporary Spanish politics at Cardiff University in Wales, said the sentences are "very harsh" and are "going to make a bad situation worse."

"It's going to create a terrible wound in Catalan society until these people are released," he said by telephone. "I think it's going to be the single most important issue for Catalans for the foreseeable future."

Catalan identity is a passionate issue in the northeastern region bordering France, but elsewhere it has failed to capture the public imagination and, crucially, lacked international support.

At the center of the prosecutors' case was the Oct. 1, 2017 independence referendum that the Catalan government held even though the country's highest court had disallowed it.

The "Yes" vote won, but because it was an illegal ballot most voters didn't turn out and the vote count was considered of dubious value. The Catalan Parliament, however, unilaterally declared independence three weeks later, triggering Spain's worst political crisis in decades.

The Spanish government stepped in and fired the Catalan regional government, with prosecutors later bringing charges.

Nine of the Catalans on trial for their efforts to achieve independence received between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition. Four of them were additionally convicted for misuse of public funds, and three more were fined for disobedience. The Spanish Constitution says the country can't be divided.

All of them were barred from holding public office.

"Today, they have violated all their rights. It is horrible that Europe doesn't act," 60-year-old civil servant Beni Saball said at a Barcelona street protest, referring to those convicted.

But retired 73-year-old bank clerk Jordi Casares said he wasn't surprised by the verdict.

"It is fair because they went outside the law," he said, walking out of his home on a Barcelona street. "I hope that after a few days of tumult by the separatists the situation can improve."

Spain's caretaker foreign minister Josep Borrell, soon due to become the European Union's top diplomat, urged an effort at political and social healing because the independence effort is doomed.

"There is no single constitution of Europe that provides the possibility of creating unilaterally the independence of a part of the territory," he told The Associated Press.

In their ruling, the seven Supreme Court judges wrote that what the Catalan leaders presented as a legitimate exercise of the right to decide was in fact "bait" to mobilize citizens and place pressure on the Spanish government to grant a referendum on independence.

The trial featured more than 500 witnesses, including former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and 50 nationally televised hearings.

Defense lawyers argued that the leaders of the secessionist movement were carrying out the will of roughly half of the 7.5 million residents of Catalonia who, opinion polls indicate, would like the region to be a separate country.

Associated Press writers Joseph Wilson and Renata Brito in Barcelona and Barry Hatton in Lisbon contributed to this report.



Brexit divorce talks between UK and EU go down to the wire

 

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he participates in an art class with Scarlet Fickling aged 4, in at St Mary's and All Saints Primary School in Beaconsfield, England, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool)

By Jill Lawless

London (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to brief his Cabinet Sunday on the progress of last-minute Brexit talks with the European Union, amid signs of progress but also deep-seated skepticism about the chances of a deal.

Britain is due to leave the 28-nation bloc on Oct. 31, and attempts to find a deal have foundered over plans for keeping an open border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland.

The challenge of maintaining an invisible border — something that underpinned both the local economy and the region's peace deal — has dominated Brexit discussions for three years, ever since U.K. voters chose in 2016 to leave the EU.

But negotiations intensified last week after Johnson and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said they could see a "pathway" to a divorce agreement that avoids a no-deal Brexit, something economists say would hurt both the U.K. and EU economies.

Both sides say substantial gaps remain and it's unclear whether they can be bridged in time for an orderly British departure at the end of this month. A crucial EU summit, the last scheduled chance to strike a deal, begins Thursday.

If a Brexit deal is reached, it still needs to be approved by both British and European parliaments. Many British lawmakers — on both pro-Brexit and pro-EU sides of the debate — remain unconvinced.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Sunday that his party was unlikely to support any deal agreed upon by Johnson.

Lawmaker Nigel Dodds of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party — which props up Johnson's Conservative minority government — has rejected one suggested compromise, in which Northern Ireland stayed in a customs partnership with the EU in order to remove the need for border checks. The DUP strongly opposes any measures that would treat Northern Ireland differently than the rest of the U.K.

But other Brexit supporters signaled they could back such a deal. House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, a strong Brexiteer, said a "compromise will inevitably be needed, something even the staunchest Leavers recognize, albeit unwillingly."

Rees-Mogg told Sky News that the chances of a Brexit agreement were rising.

"I think it's always difficult to put specific odds on things, but it certainly looks a lot more positive this week than it did last week," he said.


IS supporters escape as Turkish troops near key Syrian town

 

A child stands across from a building damaged by a mortar fired from inside Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. Incoming shells fired from northeastern Syria hit the house earlier on Sunday. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke billows from fires on targets in Tel Abyad, Syria, caused by bombardment by Turkish forces, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. The United Nations says at least 130,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in northeastern Syria with many more likely on the move as a Turkish offensive in the area enters its fifth day. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

In this Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 photo, Turkey-backed Syrian fighters enter Ras al-Yan, Syria. Turkey's military says it has captured a key Syrian border town Ras al-Ayn under heavy bombardment in its most significant gain as its offensive against Kurdish fighters presses into its fourth day. (AP Photo)

A person inspects the damage on a building hit by a mortar fired from inside Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. Two residents were at the house and were evacuated. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

By Lefteris Pitarakis & Sarah El Deeb

Akcakale, Turkey (AP) — Turkish forces approached a key Kurdish-held town in northern Syria on Sunday, setting off clashes that allowed hundreds of Islamic State supporters to escape from a camp for displaced people and prompted U.S. soldiers to withdraw from a nearby base.

A U.S. military official said the situation across northeastern Syria was "deteriorating rapidly" and that American forces were cut off from the Syrian Kurdish fighters they had previously partnered with. The official, who was not authorized to disclose operational details and spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. troops on the ground are at risk of being "isolated" and cannot travel overland without a "high risk" of armed confrontation with Turkey-backed forces.

The camp in Ein Eissa, some 35 kilometers (20 miles) south of the border, is home to some 12,000 people, including 1,000 wives and widows of Islamic State fighters and their children. The Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria said in a statement that 950 IS supporters escaped after attacking guards and storming the gates. It was not immediately possible to confirm that figure.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish warplanes struck villages near the camp on Sunday. It said camp residents fled as clashes broke out between Turkey-backed Syrian fighters and Kurdish forces, without providing an exact number.

Jelal Ayaf, a senior official at the camp, told local media that 859 people successfully escaped from the section housing foreigners. He said a few were recaptured but that supporters inside the other section of the camp also escaped and were carrying out attacks. He described the situation as "very volatile."

The U.S. official said a "small group" of American troops withdrew from a base in the town because of the threat posed by Syrian fighters allied with Turkey, but that U.S. forces were still present in larger bases nearby.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces were a key U.S. ally in the war against the Islamic State group and drove the extremists from most of the territory they once held in northeastern Syria. The force swept up thousands of Islamic State fighters and their family members in the campaign, and has warned it may not be able to maintain its various detention centers as it struggles to repel the Turkish advance.

NATO member Turkey views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists because of their links to the insurgency in its southeast and has vowed to carve out a "safe zone" along the border. It launched the operation earlier this week after President Donald Trump moved U.S. forces aside, saying he was committed to getting out of America's "endless" wars.

The United Nations says more than 130,000 Syrians have fled since the operation began five days ago, including many who had taken refuge from previous rounds of fighting in the country's eight-year civil war. The fighting reached the main highway that runs between Hassakeh, a major town and logistical hub, and Ein Eissa, the administrative center of the Kurdish-held areas.

Heavy fighting was also underway Sunday in the town of Suluk, northeast of Ein Eissa. Turkey's official news agency said Syrian fighters allied with Ankara had captured the town, while Kurdish officials said they were still battling to hold onto it. The Anadolu news agency said Turkey-backed forces had cleared the town center of Suluk, which is located at a strategic crossroads about 10 kilometers (six miles) south of the border.

Turkish troops and their Syrian allies have made steady gains since launching the operation, capturing several northern villages in fighting and bombardment that has killed and wounded dozens of people. The military said it captured the center of the sizable town of Ras al-Ayn Saturday. Turkey continued shelling around the town and sporadic clashes could be heard.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says 440 Kurdish fighters have been killed since the operation began Wednesday. The SDF says 56 of its fighters have been killed since the operation began. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the two accounts. Turkey says four of its soldiers and 16 allied Syrian fighters have been killed since the operation began.

The clashes have spilled across the border, with shells fired from Syria hitting the Turkish border towns of Akcakale and Suruc. Anadolu says one person was wounded in Suruc on Sunday. Cross-border fire has killed 18 civilians in Turkey since the operation began.

Heavy outgoing shelling could be heard in Akcakale early Sunday and at least one incoming projectile hit a house, leaving a gaping hole in the exterior wall and rubble inside. It was not immediately clear if anyone was wounded. Police collected evidence as a crowd gathered outside.

The U.N. meanwhile said a pumping station in the town of Hassakeh was damaged by shelling, affecting the water supply for 400,000 people, including 82,000 residents of camps for displaced people.

El Deeb reported from Beirut. Associated Press writer Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul contributed.


'Be water:' Police swoop as Hong Kong protests shift tactics

An anti-government protester is detained by police at Tseun Wan, Hong Kong, Sunday, Oct.13, 2019. The semi-autonomous Chinese city is in its fifth month of a movement that initially began in response to a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be tried for crimes in mainland China. The protests have since ballooned to encompass broader demands for electoral reforms and an inquiry into alleged police abuse. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

By John Leicester

Hong Kong (AP) — Tearing a page out of ancient Chinese military philosophy, black-clad protesters in Hong Kong changed tactics and wreaked havoc by popping up in small groups in multiple locations across the city Sunday, pursued by but also often eluding police who made scores of muscular arrests.

Violence spiraled as protests stretched from Sunday afternoon into the night, with police struggling to restore order.

A savage beating after dark by a group of masked protesters left a man bleeding profusely. Police said an officer was attacked from behind with a sharp weapon earlier in the day and was left with a bleeding neck wound.

Video broadcast on Hong Kong television also showed a masked, black-clad protester dropping a riot officer with a flying high kick, followed by two other protesters who beat the officer on the ground and tried unsuccessfully to snatch his gun.

The guerrilla-like tactics sought to maximize the disruption and visibility of protests at a time when anti-government demonstrations have, as a whole, been showing signs of flagging as they stretch into a fifth month. Pressure from a government ban on the face masks worn by many protesters and extreme violence earlier this month appear to have cooled the ardor of some demonstrators and whittled down protest numbers.

Online calls for gatherings to start at 2 p.m. in dozens of malls, parks, sports grounds and other locations triggered an afternoon of mayhem and marked a shift from earlier more concentrated rallies in fewer spots.

"We're going to be more fluid and flexible," said Amanda Sin, 23, an office worker who joined a peaceful protest outside police headquarters in central Hong Kong. "We are interchanging different tactics."

Roaming clumps of hardcore protesters — too numerous, elusive and fast-moving to be policed — popped up out of nowhere, vandalizing stores, blocking traffic with makeshift barricades and spraying protest graffiti, often holding up umbrellas to shield their activities from view.

Masked protesters wielding hammers wrecked a Huawei store that was apparently targeted because of the brand's links to mainland China. On another store broken into and trashed, protesters sprayed, "We are not stealing." The words "black heart" were sprayed in black inside a vandalized Starbucks, another frequent target of the anti-government and anti-China protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese territory since June.

Changing strategies to adapt to shifting circumstances is a notion deeply engrained in Chinese thinking, notably detailed in the ancient military treatise "The Art of War," and inspiring Mao Zedong's Communist revolutionaries on their route to seizing power in China in 1949.

In Hong Kong, protesters speak of being "like water," fluid and adaptable.

"It's a guerilla-kind of demonstration," said Edmund Tang, 59, who slept overnight at the rally outside police headquarters that started Saturday and was still going strong Sunday with about 200 people, many of them retirees.

He said the week-old ban that makes the wearing of masks at rallies punishable by one year in jail dissuaded some demonstrators who had taken part in larger previous demonstrations.

"It's no longer possible to get 100,000 people to come out," he said. The idea of protesting in small, diffuse groups was in part aimed at complicating policing efforts, Tang added.

"Keep the hunt dogs running everywhere, getting crazier and crazier, without catching the prey. That's best," he said.

Police adapted, too, fanning out in multiple locations and quickly making arrests. Speeding police vans were on the scene within minutes after black-clad protesters set up a makeshift roadblock in a shopping district in Kowloon. One van rammed through a barricade of piled-up bamboo poles and officers sprinted off in pursuit of suspects.

Police pinned detainees to the floor and hauled them away. They held aloft blue banners ordering people to disperse. In one incident, officers fired tear gas rounds from a van before speeding away. Other patrols pointed riot-control guns and cans of pepper spray to keep crowds at bay and hammered on their plastic riot shields as they cleared streets. Bystanders responded with torrents of abuse.

As police hared after suspects in one area, protesters sprang up in others like the "Whac-A-Mole" arcade game, overwhelming the spread-out policing effort.

One of the largest gatherings brought several hundred people together in a shopping mall in Shatin. A masked protester played the saxophone. On the closed metal shutters of a subway station, another protester dressed head-to-toe in black sprayed, "When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes our duty."

Before dawn Sunday, protesters also clambered up a peak and erected a 4-meter- (13-foot-) tall white statue of a demonstrator in a gas mask, dubbed "The Lady Liberty of Hong Kong," that gazed over the restive city.

The protests gripping the international business hub began in response to a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts in mainland China. The movement then ballooned to encompass broader clamors for universal suffrage, an independent inquiry of the policing methods used against protesters and other demands.

Associated Press writer Yanan Wang in Beijing contributed to this report.


President orders army onto streets of Ecuadorian capital

Anti-government demonstrators clash with police in Quito, Ecuador, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Protests, which began when President Lenin Moreno's decision to cut subsidies led to a sharp increase in fuel prices, have persisted for days. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

By Michael Weissenstein & Gonzalo Solano

Quito, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador's army took to the streets after President Lenín Moreno ordered the first 24-hour curfew in decades in response to a day of attacks on government buildings and media offices.

By Saturday night, soldiers had retaken control of the park and streets leading to the National Assembly and the national comptroller's office, which had been broken into by protesters who lit fires inside the building.

Moreno said the military would enforce the round the clock curfew in Quito and around critical infrastructure like power stations and hospitals in response to the day's violence. It was the first such action imposed since a series of coups in the 1960s and '70s.

"We are going to restore order in all of Ecuador," Moreno said.

Late Saturday night, Moreno announced some possible concessions in an economic package that was opposed by many Ecuadorians. But he didn't retract his decision to remove fuel subsidies, a step that triggered the nationwide protests and clashes.

Moreno said his government would address some concerns of protesters, studying ways to ensure resources reach rural areas and offering compensation for those who lost earnings because of the recent upheaval.

"We'll negotiate with those who have decided to do so," Moreno said in remarks broadcast on radio and television. "The process is moving forward and I hope to give you good news soon, because different organizations and sectors have confirmed their willingness to talk."

For many in Ecuador, which had become one of the safest and most stable countries in the region, the day's violence was a terrifying shock.

"Quito had a very hard day, of much tension and fear for its citizens," Interior Minister María Paula Romo said. "What we saw today we haven't seen before."

About two hours after the comptroller's office was attacked, a group of several dozen masked men swarmed the offices of the private Teleamazonas television station in northern Quito, set fires on the grounds and tried to break into the building where about 20 employees were trapped.

The offices of the newspaper El Comercio in southern Quito were also attacked, with the building's security guards seized and briefly bound before police arrived and drove off the assailants.

Following hours of chaos, Moreno appeared on national television alongside his vice president and defense minister to announce that he was ordering people indoors and the army onto the streets.

Moreno said the masked protesters had nothing to do with the thousands of indigenous Ecuadorians who have protested for more than a week over a sudden rise in fuel prices as part of an International Monetary Fund-backed austerity package. He blamed the violence on drug traffickers, organized crime and followers of former President Rafael Correa, who has denied allegations he is trying to topple Moreno's government.

Moreno served Correa as vice president before he become president and the two men went through a bitter split as Moreno pushed to curb public debt amassed on Correa's watch.

The violence and military deployment closely followed the announcement of a possible softening of Ecuador's 10-day standoff. Indigenous leaders of the fuel price protests that have paralyzed Ecuador's economy said they were willing to negotiate with Moreno.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador said it would negotiate with the government but also protest in the streets. Leonidas Iza, a Quechua leader from mountainous Cotopaxi province, appeared to back Moreno's curfew, asking the armed forces to "guarantee peace and bring back the constitutional order."

Iza said the indigenous movement rejected "certain groups' intentions to take advantage of the Ecuadorian indigenous people's movement." He did not offer details.

Romo, the interior minister, said 30 people were arrested in the attack on the auditor's office. Firefighters said they extinguished the blaze in the building, which houses evidence in corruption investigations.

By nightfall, Quito residents were hanging out their windows and banging pots and pans, in what many said was a protest against the day's chaos and a call for stability.

In an unexplained episode, opposition legislator Gabriela Rivadeneira, a close ally of Correa, entered the Mexican embassy, which said it had provided her "safety and protection."

Ecuadorian officials said she had no pending charges or reason to seek political asylum.

Ecuador, a former OPEC member, was left deeply in debt by a decade of high-spending governance and the oil price drop. Moreno is raising taxes, liberalizing labor laws and cutting public spending in order to win more than $4 billion in emergency financing from the IMF.

As part of that plan, Moreno eliminated a subsidy on the price of fuel on Oct. 2, driving the most popular variety of gasoline from $1.85 to $2.39 a gallon and diesel from $1.03 to $2.30. Panic and speculation sent prices soaring, with costs of some products doubling or more.

Ecuador's indigenous people, poor and underserved by government programs, were infuriated. Over the last week, thousands of streamed into Quito from the Amazon rainforest and the Ecuadorian Andes.

The standoff halted Ecuador's oil production, blocked highways and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in loss to industries such as flower-growing to dairy farming.

An indigenous leader and four other people have died during the unrest, according to the public defender's office. The president's office has reported two deaths.

Correspondent Raisa Ávila contributed to this report.
 



2 dead in attack targeting German synagogue on Yom Kippur

Police officers cross a wall at a crime scene in Halle, Germany, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 after a shooting incident. A gunman fired several shots on Wednesday in the German city of Halle. Police say a person has been arrested after a shooting that left two people dead. (Sebastian Willnow/dpa via AP)

By Geir Moulson & Jens Meyer

Halle, Germany (AP) — A heavily armed assailant ranting about Jews tried to force his way into a synagogue in Germany on Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest day, then shot two people to death nearby in an attack Wednesday that was livestreamed on a popular gaming site.

The attacker shot at the door of the synagogue in the eastern city of Halle but did not get in as 70 to 80 people inside were observing the holy day.

The gunman shouted that Jews were "the root" of "problems" such as feminism and "mass immigration," according to a group that tracks online extremism. It said a roughly 36-minute video posted online featured the assailant, who spoke a combination of English and German, denying the Holocaust before he shot a woman in the street after failing to enter the synagogue. He then entered a nearby kebab shop and killed another person before fleeing.

Germany's top security official, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, said authorities must assume that it was an anti-Semitic attack, and said prosecutors believe there may be a right-wing extremist motive. He said several people were hurt.

The attack "strikes the Jewish community, Jewish people not just in Germany but particularly in Germany, to the core," said the country's main Jewish leader, Josef Schuster. "It was, I think, only lucky circumstances that prevented a bigger massacre."

The filming of Wednesday's attack echoed another horrific shooting halfway around the world when a far-right white supremacist in March killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and livestreamed much of the attack on Facebook. That massacre drew strong criticism of social media giants for not immediately finding and blocking such a violent video.

Wednesday's assault followed attacks in the United States over the past year on synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, California.

The head of Halle's Jewish community, Max Privorozki, told news magazine Der Spiegel that a surveillance camera at the entrance of the synagogue showed a person trying to break into the building.

"The assailant shot several times at the door and also threw several Molotov cocktails, firecrackers or grenades to force his way in," he said. "But the door remained closed — God protected us. The whole thing lasted perhaps five to 10 minutes."

A video clip shown on regional public broadcaster MDR showed a man in a helmet and an olive-colored top getting out of a car and firing four shots from behind the vehicle from a long-barreled gun.

Conrad Roessler said he was in the kebab shop when a man with a helmet and a military jacket threw something that looked like a grenade, which bounced off the doorframe. He said the man then shot into the shop.

"All the customers next to me ran, of course I did too. I think there were five or six of us in there," Roessler told n-tv television. "The man behind me probably died."

"I hid in the toilet," he added. "The others looked for the back entrance. I didn't know if there was one. I locked myself quietly in this toilet, and wrote to my family that I love them, and waited for something to happen."

Police then came into the shop, he said.

Schuster offered his condolences to the relatives of "the two completely uninvolved people" who were killed and his sympathy to those were wounded. German authorities didn't give any details on the victims.

The SITE Intelligence Group said the video on livestreaming site Twitch started with the assailant saying "my name is Anon and I think the Holocaust never happened." He mentioned feminism and "mass immigration" and said that "the root of all these problems is the Jew."

The video, which apparently was filmed with a head-mounted camera, showed the perpetrator driving up to the synagogue in a car packed with ammunition and what appeared to be home-made explosives.

He tried two doors and placed a device at the bottom of a gate, then fired at a woman trying to walk past his parked car. The assailant then fired rounds into the synagogue's door, which didn't open. He drove a short distance to park opposite the kebab shop. He fired at what appeared to be an employee, while customers scrambled away.

Twitch said it was "shocked and saddened" by the attack. "We worked with urgency to remove this content and will permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act," it said in an emailed response to a query about Wednesday's events. It wasn't immediately able to confirm who streamed the footage.

Twitch, owned by e-commerce giant Amazon, is best known as a site for watching others play video games, sometimes with commentary and tips for viewers. Wednesday's attack appeared to be the first real-world violence livestreamed on Twitch, said Hannah Bloch-Wehba, a law professor at Drexel University. She said it was hard to guess why Twitch was chosen, although she noted that recent attempts by Facebook and Twitter to crack down on such material may be forcing attackers to look for new outlets.

Federal prosecutors, who in Germany handle cases involving suspected terrorism or national security, took over the investigation into the attack in Halle.

Authorities said shortly after the shooting that a person had been arrested, but advised residents to stay indoors for several hours as they worked to determine whether there were other assailants. They gave no information on the suspect but Der Spiegel and dpa, which cited unidentified security sources, said the suspect is a 27-year-old German citizen from Saxony-Anhalt state, where Halle is located. They identified him only as Stephan B.

Synagogues are often protected by police in Germany and have been for many years amid concerns over far-right and Islamic extremism, but Schuster said that there was no police presence outside the Halle synagogue on Wednesday.

"I am convinced that if there had been police protection there, in all probability the assailant would not have been able to attack a second site," he said.

Security was stepped up at synagogues in other cities after the shooting in Halle.

German officials rushed to condemn the attack. Chancellor Angela Merkel visited a synagogue in Berlin on Wednesday evening in a show of solidarity.

"Shots being fired at a synagogue on Yom Kippur, the festival of reconciliation, hits us in the heart," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter. "We must all act against anti-Semitism in our country."

Anti-Semitism is a top concern in Germany, where reports of anti-Semitic incidents rose 10% last year, according to Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center and where Merkel's government earlier this year reaffirmed its commitment to protecting Jews who wear skullcaps from anti-Semitic threats.

Wednesday's attack drew renewed calls from Jewish groups in the U.S. to step up cooperation in combating anti-Semitism. "We have been saying for several years that anti-Semitism is real, it's resurgent, it's lethal and it's multi-sourced," American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris said.

Noting that the attack in Halle comes on the heels of the one-year anniversary of an anti-Semitic shooting that killed 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue, he said such attacks "should be triggering alarm bells. The question is whether they are."


Knife-wielding man wounds Indonesia's security minister

Indonesian medics wheel Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Wiranto on a stretcher to an ambulance to be evacuated to Jakarta, at a hospital in Pandeglang, Banten province, Indonesia, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo)

In this Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, file photo, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Wiranto gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesian police officials say Wiranto and two other people, including a local police chief, have been wounded by a knife-wielding man and taken to a hospital during a visit to a western province. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File)

By Jim Gomez

Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — A knife-wielding man suspected of belonging to a radical Islamic group wounded Indonesia's security minister, a local police chief and another person in an attack in western Indonesia on Thursday, officials said.

President Joko Widodo called the suspect a terrorist and urged people to help combat radicalism following the stabbing of security minister Wiranto in Banten province, where authorities say Muslim militants have a presence.

The attack came just over a week before Widodo's inauguration for his second five-year term in office.

"He is now being treated and undergoing surgery," Widodo said after visiting Wiranto, a former armed forces chief. Police said he was in stable condition and conscious after the attack.

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said Wiranto was stabbed in the abdomen. Local news reports cited a hospital doctor as saying he was stabbed at least twice.

Wiranto, 72, who uses one name, was airlifted to the capital, Jakarta. Videos showed him being carried on a stretcher, the left side of his abdomen covered with bandages and an oxygen mask strapped to his face.

Wiranto had just stepped out of his car and was being welcomed by the police chief in Pandeglang town when the attacker dashed toward them, wounding both along with a third man. Bodyguards wrestled the attacker to the ground and tied his hands behind his back while others helped Wiranto, who stumbled to the ground.

The motive for the attack was not immediately clear. As coordinating minister for politics, legal, and security affairs, Wiranto supervises several ministries and agencies, including the national police and defense, which have been in charge of the government's counterinsurgency campaign.

Police identified the suspect as Syahril Alamsyah and said they also arrested his wife, Fitri Andriana.

Prasetyo told reporters they may have been radicalized by the Islamic State group's ideology.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the attackers belonged to Jemaah Ansharuf Daulah, a Muslim militant network in Indonesia aligned with the Islamic State group which security officials believe has followers in Banten. The group has been blamed for past bomb attacks in Indonesia.

Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, which closely monitors Muslim militant groups, said the attack shows that supporters of the Islamic State group in Indonesia have not been deterred by its loss of territory in the Middle East.

"While very serious, this attempt should not be over dramatized. No one was killed, the perpetrators were caught alive and can be questioned and Indonesia remains completely stable," she said.

As chief of the armed forces from 1998 to 1999, when the national police force was still under military control, Wiranto oversaw security and defense at a time when student protests erupted nationwide and eventually led to the fall of strongman President Suharto.

In 2003, Wiranto, then already retired from the military, and seven other former military officials were indicted by a U.N. panel for alleged crimes against humanity for atrocities in East Timor after the region voted for independence from Indonesia in a 1999 referendum. He denied the allegations.

Wiranto ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004 and for vice president in 2009. He led a political party in 2014 which threw its support behind Widodo's successful presidential campaign, bringing the retired general back to an influential role in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation with a history of deadly militant attacks.


Turkey makes small advances in 2nd day of Syria invasion

In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke billows from targets inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

By Lefteris Pitarakis & Mehmet Guzel

Akcakale, Turkey (AP) — Turkish ground forces seized at least one village from Kurdish fighters in northern Syria as they pressed ahead with their assault for a second day Thursday, pounding towns and villages along with border with airstrikes and artillery.

Residents of border areas within Syria scrambled in panic as they tried to get out on foot and in cars, pick-up trucks and motorcycle rickshaws piled with mattresses and belongings. More than a dozen columns of heavy black smoke, apparently from fires caused by shelling, rose above one border town.

It was wrenchingly familiar for the many who only a few years ago, had fled the advances on their towns and villages by the Islamic State group.

The Turkish invasion was launched three days after U.S. President Donald Trump opened the way by pulling American troops from their positions near the border alongside their Kurdish allies. At a time when Trump faces an impeachment inquiry, the move drew swift criticism from Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with many national defense experts, who say the move has placed U.S. credibility as well as the Kurds and regional stability at great risk. The Syrian Kurdish militia was the U.S.'s only ally on the ground in the years-long campaign that brought down the Islamic State group in Syria.

After ordering the pull-back, Trump warned Turkey to be moderate in its assault into northern Syria. But the opening barrage showed little sign of holding back: The Turkish Defense Military said its jets and artillery had struck 181 targets so far.

A Kurdish-led group and Syrian activists claimed Thursday that despite the bombardment, Turkish troops had not made much progress on several fronts they had opened over the past hours. But their claims could not be independently verified, and the situation on the ground was difficult to assess.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that so far 109 "terrorists" were killed in the offensive, a reference to the U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters who for the past years were the main force fighting the Islamic State group in Syria.

He did not elaborate, and the reports on the ground did not indicate anything remotely close to such a large number of casualties.

Erdogan also warned the European Union not to call Ankara's incursion into Syria an "invasion," and threatened, as he has in the past, to "open the gates" and let Syrian refugees flood Europe.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish forces on Thursday halted all operations against IS in order to focus on fighting Turkish troops, Kurdish and U.S. officials said.

The Syrian Kurdish fighters along with U.S. troops have been involved in mopping-up operations against IS fighters still holed up in the desert after their territorial hold was toppled earlier this year.

Turkey considers the Kurdish militia "terrorists" because of their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has led an insurgency against Turkey for 35 years, killing tens of thousands. The U.S. and other Western countries consider the PKK a terror group as well.

Turkey considers its operations against the Kurdish militia in Syria a matter of its own survival, and it also insists it won't tolerate the virtual self-rule that the Kurds succeeded in carving out in northern Syria along the border.

The Turkish assault aims to carve out a zone of control the length of the border — a so-called "safe zone" — clearing out the Kurdish militia. Such a zone would end the Kurds' autonomy in the area and put much of their population under Turkish control. Ankara has said it aims to settle some 2 million Syrian refugees, who are mainly Arabs, in the zone.

Turkey began its offensive in northern Syria on Wednesday with airstrikes and artillery shelling, and then ground troops began crossing the border later in the day.

The Observatory, a war monitor that has activists throughout the country, said that since Turkey began its operation, seven civilians have been killed.

Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said their fighters have repelled Turkish forces ground attacks.

"No advance as of now," he tweeted Thursday.

But Maj. Youssef Hammoud, a spokesman for Turkish-backed opposition fighters participating in the operation, said the fighters captured the village of Yabisa, near the one of the main initial targets of the assault, the town of Tal Abyad, a spokesman for the fighters. In a tweet, he called it "the first village to win freedom."

Turkey's state-run news agency said the allied Syrian fighters had also cleared and entered a second village, Tel Fander. It did not provide details. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish commandos entered the village of Beir Asheq.

Trump's decision to have American troops step aside in northeastern Syria was a major shift in U.S. policy and drew opposition from all sides at home. It also marked a stark change in rhetoric by Trump, who during a press conference in New York last year vowed to stand by the Kurds, who have been America's only allies in Syria fighting IS.

Trump said at the time that the Kurds "fought with us" and "died with us," and insisted that America would never forget.

After Erdogan announced the offensive, Trump called the operation "a bad idea." Later Wednesday, he said he didn't want to be involved in "endless, senseless wars."

Turkey's campaign — in which a NATO member rained down bombs on an area where hundreds of U.S. troops had been stationed — drew immediate criticism and calls for restraint from Europe.

Australia on Thursday expressed concerns the Turkish incursion could galvanize a resurgence of the Islamic State group and refused to endorse the close ally U.S. for pulling back its troops from the area. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had been in contact with the Turkish and U.S. governments overnight and admitted to being worried about the situation.

In Washington, officials said Wednesday that two British militants believed to be part of an Islamic State cell that beheaded hostages had been moved out of a detention center in Syria and were in U.S. custody.

The two, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey, along with other British jihadis allegedly made up the IS cell nicknamed "The Beatles" by surviving captives because of their English accents. In 2014 and 2015, the militants held more than 20 Western hostages in Syria and tortured many of them.

The group beheaded seven American, British and Japanese journalists and aid workers and a group of Syrian soldiers, boasting of the butchery in videos released to the world.


Ukraine president: 'No blackmail' in conversation with Trump

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during talks with journalists in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. The Ukrainian President held an all-day "media marathon" in a Kyiv food court amid growing questions about his actions as president. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

By Yuras Karmanau

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's president insisted Thursday that he faced "no blackmail" from President Donald Trump in their phone call that helped spark an impeachment inquiry, distancing himself from the U.S. political drama and trying to claw back his own credibility.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy said for the first time that his country will "happily" investigate the conspiracy theory pushed by Trump that it was Ukrainians, not Russians, who interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And he encouraged U.S. and Ukrainian prosecutors to discuss investigating a gas company linked to the son of Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden.

But Zelenskiy insisted he's not Trump's puppet and his moves appeared to be an attempt to put an end to questions dogging the Ukrainian president since details of his July 25 call with Trump emerged. He said U.S. officials have presented zero evidence of Ukraine's interference in 2016, but it's in his country's interests to find out once and for all what happened.

In an all-day "media marathon" held in a Kyiv food court, Ukraine's president played down suggestions that Trump pressured him in exchange for U.S. military aid to help Ukraine battle Russian-backed separatists. Congressional Democrats believe Trump was holding up the aid to use as leverage to pressure Ukraine and advance his domestic political interests.

Responding to questions from The Associated Press, Zelenskiy said he only learned after their phone call that the U.S. had blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine.

"There was no blackmail," he said.

"We are not servants. We are an independent country."

Zelenskiy invited U.S. and Ukrainian prosecutors to cooperate on an eventual investigation into the Bidens, but insisted he would not interfere.

"I don't want to be pulled into this because I understand that my words could impact the elections of the American people," he said.

Trump has said the United States has an "absolute right" to ask foreign leaders to investigate corruption cases, though no one has produced evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the former U.S. vice president or his son.

Trump also has pushed a long-discredited theory about Ukrainian interference in support of the Democrats in 2016, an attempt to cast doubt on Russia's role in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee. The theory contends, without evidence, that the DNC hack was based on fabricated computer records and designed to cast blame on Russia but was initiated from Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said Thursday that Ukraine would investigate the theory because otherwise we "can't say yes or no" as to whether there was any such interference.

During his July 25 call with Zelenskiy, Trump mentioned CrowdStrike, a security firm hired by the DNC that detected the hack. CrowdStrike has also worked for the Republicans. Trump has claimed the company was based in Ukraine, but it is based in the U.S. and company co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch is a Russian-born U.S. citizen.

The July call is central to the impeachment inquiry, and embarrassed Zelenskiy because it showed him as eager to please Trump and critical of European partners whose support he needs to strengthen Ukraine's economy and to end the conflict with Russia.

Zelenskiy said it was "wrong" of the White House to publish a rough transcript of the call — and said he will not publish the Ukrainian transcript. He said he "didn't even check" whether the Ukrainian transcript of the July call is the same as that of the White House, but says "I think they match."

Zelenskiy appears to be playing to both U.S. political camps to ensure Ukraine has continued support no matter who wins the presidential election next year.

Zelenskiy said he thought the call would lead to an in-person meeting with Trump, and wanted the American leader to come to Ukraine. Zelenskiy said the "key question" for him was to try to persuade the White House to "change its rhetoric" about Ukraine as a corrupt and untrustworthy country.

Trump said the military aid was frozen because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine, but the move prompted congressional outcry and the money was released in September.

Asked what Ukraine did to persuade the U.S. to release the aid, Zelenskiy said: "We have many diplomatic contacts. And in case we need to find a solution to questions of this level, questions about our country's security, we use all our powerful possibilities." He didn't elaborate.

A TV and film comedian, Zelenskiy overwhelmingly won the presidency in April on promises to fight corruption and end the five-year conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. He's treading carefully to ensure continued support from the U.S. while trying to make peace with powerful neighbor Russia.

Most of the questions at Thursday's unusual media event related to the Russia conflict or Ukraine's economic troubles.

Zelenskiy also joked about Trump's Twitter missives, saying he doesn't expect a change in U.S.-Ukrainian relations in the future, "but if there is, we'll learn about it on Twitter."



Irish border residents worry about future if no-deal Brexit

 

A small ferry sails across the calm waters of Carlingford Lough connecting Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019.  (AP Photo/David Keyton)

Shane Horner pilots a small ferry across the calm waters of Carlingford Lough connecting Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019.  The ferry service has run for over two years, as another sign that the border is all but invisible but if the U.K. leaves the European Union on Oct. 31 without a Brexit divorce deal, this local boat could find itself plying an international border. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

Warrenpoint village in the UK, Northern Ireland nestles on the banks of Carlingford Lough with its ferry that connects Northern Ireland, left of photo, with the Republic of Ireland, right. The island of Ireland border issue has been the most intractable issue in the Brexit negotiations.  (AP Photo/David Keyton)

By David Keyton

Greenore, Ireland (AP) — The small ferry moves gently across the calm waters of Carlingford Lough, connecting the picturesque hamlet of Greencastle in Northern Ireland with the village of Greenore, a mile and a half away in the Republic of Ireland.

It began sailing a little more than two years ago, saving farmers, commuters and tourists an hour-long drive inland to the nearest bridge.

The service is another sign that the border has all but vanished since the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, ending decades of sectarian violence and creating a quiet sense of normality that older generations cherish and younger people may take for granted.

But if the U.K. leaves the European Union on Oct. 31 without a Brexit divorce deal, this local boat could find itself plying an international border.

"We don't know what to expect," said Paul O'Sullivan, the ferry company's managing director. "Brexit has resulted in chaos for our company."

With both in the EU, the border barely resonates. As members, both the U.K. and Ireland have to abide by the rules of the club — the free movement of goods, services, capital and people.

In a no-deal Brexit, that all goes and the border — the only land border between the U.K. and the EU — will resonate once again.

Little wonder then that it's been the most intractable issue in the Brexit negotiations over the past three or so years since the U.K. voted to leave the EU in June 2016.

With little more than three weeks to go before the scheduled Brexit date of Oct. 31, the two sides have failed to agree on a plan to ensure the border remains open, without the checkpoints that were magnets for violence during three decades of conflict. More than 3,500 people died during "The Troubles."

"People in their 40s and 50s and older, we remember The Troubles very well," said 51-year-old Patrick Robinson, a member of Border Communities Against Brexit. "What started off as border troubles exactly like what is going to happen now escalated into what became known effectively as the civil war in Northern Ireland."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the U.K. as a whole, including Northern Ireland which voted to remain in the EU during the referendum, has to leave on the scheduled Brexit date — with or without a deal. Not doing so, he says, would undermine faith in democracy.

That stance has raised concerns that a physical border will return and threaten the fragile peace process in Northern Ireland and the economic opportunities it has created.

No one really knows what will happen even though political leaders on all sides keep insisting the border will stay open. People are worried about the long-term impact of the potential changes.

Like many businesses, the Carlingford Lough Ferry has received little guidance: Will farmers carrying hay from the south need to declare their goods? Will there be forms? Customs officers with clipboards? And then there's the question of whether the ferry will be allowed to operate at all.

Back in the days of hard borders, trade between North and South was impeded. It took truck drivers hours to get cleared and cross to the other side. Lush rolling hills were marred by guard towers, soldiers and checkpoints. Crisscrossing the border several times a day was challenging.

The inability to no longer move freely is likely to hurt the smallest operators the most.

"The economic shock will be so great that there is no way to mitigate against the risk," warned Daniel Donnelly, a spokesman in Northern Ireland for the Federation of Small Businesses.

Even low tariffs in the event of a no-deal could wipe out the profits that small businesses with low margins make, he added.

People here just don't see any point in going back to the past. Piloting the ferry across Carlingford Lough, 31-year-old Shane Horner remembered the border checks and troops that were deployed along the border when he was a child. Crossing was slow and intimidating, he said, but "once that stopped it was grand, you could come and go as you pleased."

Today, farmers from the Republic take the new ferry service to sell silage and hay from the lush fields of County Louth to customers north of the border. Wedding parties from the North use it to cross for events in the medieval Carlingford.

It's a bus service on the water — not a stronghold between nations.

"There is a cross-community dimension," said O'Sullivan, who remembers meeting some northerners taking the ferry on their first journey across the border. "If there is a hard Brexit, it almost certainly will have an adverse impact."


China criticizes Apple for app that tracks Hong Kong police

Supporters of Hong Kong activist Edward Leung gather outside the High Court in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Apple became the latest company targeted for Chinese pressure over protests in Hong Kong after the ruling Communist Party's main newspaper criticized the tech giant Wednesday for a smartphone app that allows activists to report police movements. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Associated Press

Hong Kong (AP) — Apple became the latest company targeted for Chinese pressure over protests in Hong Kong after the ruling Communist Party's main newspaper criticized the tech giant Wednesday for a smartphone app that allows activists to report police movements.

HKmap.live, designed by an outside supplier and available on Apple Inc.'s online store, "facilitates illegal behavior," the People's Daily said in a commentary.

"Is Apple guiding Hong Kong thugs?" the newspaper said.

Beijing has pressed companies including Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways to take the government's side against the protests, which are in their fourth month.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The demonstrations began over a proposed extradition law and expanded to include other grievances and demands for greater democracy.

HKmap.live allows users to report police locations, use of tear gas and other details that are added to a regularly updated map. A version is also available for smartphones that use the Android operating system.

The criticism of Apple followed government attacks starting last weekend on the National Basketball Association over a comment by the general manager of the Houston Rockets in support of the protesters. State TV has canceled broadcasts of NBA games.

"Apple jumped into this on its own and mixed together business with politics and commercial activity with illegal activities," the People's Daily said.

The newspaper warned Apple might be damaging its reputation with Chinese consumers.

Brands targeted in the past by Beijing have been subjected to campaigns by the entirely state-controlled press to drive away consumers or disruptive investigations by tax and other regulators.

"This recklessness will cause much trouble for Apple," the People's Daily said. "Apple needs to think deeply."


China's Xi to visit India this week, meet with Modi

In this Oct. 16, 2016, file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the signing ceremony by foreign ministers during the BRICS summit in Goa, India. India’s Ministry of External Affairs said Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, that Xi and Modi would meet for a second informal summit in the southern coast city of Chennai on Oct. 11 and 12 to “exchange views on deepening” the two countries’ development. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

By Emily Schmall & Krithika Varagur

New Delhi (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping is going to India to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, just weeks after China supported Pakistan in raising the issue of India's recent actions in disputed Kashmir at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.

India stripped Kashmir's semi-autonomous status in August, deploying thousands of troops and cutting off internet connectivity to prevent protests. Thousands of people, including mainstream political leaders and young people, have also been detained.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is claimed by both Pakistan and India and split between them.

At the U.N., China said India should not act unilaterally on Kashmir, a portion of which China also controls, and where there have been occasional border skirmishes between India and China.

On Oct. 31, New Delhi will take direct control of Ladakh, the border region famous for its sparsely populated and stunning landscapes, Buddhist monks in mountaintop monasteries and elusive snow leopards prowling rugged terrain.

India's Ministry of External Affairs said Wednesday that Xi and Modi will meet in the southern coastal city of Chennai on Friday and Saturday to "exchange views on deepening" the two countries' development.

They also will visit the nearby temple town of Mamallapuram.

Xi and Modi last met one-on-one at a resort in Wuhan, China, in April 2018.

Indian security forces have detained 10 Tibetan activists, including noted novelist and poet Tenzin Tsundue, near Chennai to stifle any protests during Xi's visit, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Regional police in the southern state of Tamil Nadu also have asked more than a dozen Tibetan students to sign statements promising not to engage in activities that may "commit breach of peace or disturb the public tranquility," according to a photo of the document provided by the Tibetan Students' Association of Madras. Two leaders of the student association were among those detained on Sunday.

Dr. Tenzin Norbu, an English lecturer at Hindustan College in suburban Chennai, was also arrested on Tuesday and remains in custody.

Tenzin Dakpa, a leader of Students for a Free Tibet, said a Tibetan lawyer from Dharamsala, home of the spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and site of the Tibetan government-in-exile, has gone to Chennai to see if the detentions can be contested.

Pre-emptive detentions are not uncommon in India.


South Korean protesters call for ouster of justice minister

 

Thousands of demonstrators gather during a rally in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, for the second consecutive week to call for the ouster of President Moon Jae-in's hand-picked justice minister, whose family is at the center of an investigation into allegations of financial crimes and academic favors. (Kim Seung-doo/Yonhap via AP)

By Kim Tong-Hyung

Seoul, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of protesters rallied Wednesday in South Korea's capital for the second consecutive week to call for the ouster of President Moon Jae-in's hand-picked justice minister, whose family is at the center of an investigation into allegations of financial crimes and academic favors.

The protest near the presidential palace in Seoul followed a weekend demonstration in which a huge crowd of pro-government supporters occupied streets in front of the state prosecutors' offices to show their support for the beleaguered minister, Cho Kuk, whose appointment last month has deepened the nation's political divide.

The city's streets are now divided between pro-Cho and anti-Cho protesters, who for weeks have alternated with protests and counter-protests in areas separated by the Han River that flows through the capital.

Wednesday's protest came amid a highly-publicized investigation of Cho's university professor wife and other relatives over allegations of shady financial investments and fraudulent activities related to his daughter's admission to a top university in Seoul and a medical school in Busan.

Cho, who previously served as Moon's senior secretary for civil affairs, has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to push ahead with plans to reform the country's justice system, including curbing the powers of mighty state prosecutors, even as they conduct a criminal probe into his family.

Carrying the South Korean flag and banners and signs that read "Arrest criminal Cho Kuk," the protesters poured onto a major boulevard near Gwanghwamun gate, the same streets where millions marched for months three years ago in unified anger against Moon's conservative predecessor Park Geun-hye, who was removed from office in March 2017 and is currently serving a decades-long prison term over bribery and abuse of power.

"We need to fight and avenge against a government that has ripped the country in two," Shin Hye-sik, a conservative activist, told the crowd from a stage. "Let's fight! Let's win!"

Hwang Kyo-ahn, leader of the conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party, participated in the protest along with members of the party's leadership, but did not make a comment on the stage.

Police did not release an estimate on the size of Wednesday's crowd, which appeared to be in the tens of thousands. It was clearly a smaller than the previous anti-Cho gathering on Oct. 3, which experts said may have drawn hundreds of thousands.

Cho's supporters are planning to hold another rally on Saturday.

Lawmakers from Moon's Minjoo Party, who have been encouraging the government supporters rallying in streets, claim prosecutors are pushing an excessive probe in a possible attempt to resist Cho's planned reforms. They have accused prosecutors of leaking investigative secrets to their conservative opponents, who have aired detailed allegations against Cho's family in public.

The conservatives say the ruling liberals are pressuring a legitimate probe on a key member of their government, and that the investigation itself is proof of prosecutors' neutrality and independence from political influence.

"To be honest, there were many moments each day that were painful and difficult," Cho said Tuesday during a news conference to announce his planned reforms, apparently referring to the controversy surrounding his family. "But I have been enduring every day thanks to the strength of our people who have given me courage and wisdom to push through and complete the reform of the prosecution."

Cho's plans include reducing the number of criminal investigations directly initiated by prosecutors, who by law have exclusive authority to indict and seek warrants for suspects and exercise control over police investigative activities. Critics say South Korean prosecutors have too much power and this has prompted past governments to use them as a political tool to suppress opponents.

The intense wrangling over Cho has tarnished Moon's reformist image and sank his popularity to the lowest levels since he took office in May 2017, according to recent surveys. Moon also faces pressure over a weakening job market, a messy trade war with Japan and a lack of progress in diplomacy with nuclear-armed North Korea.

A plunge in popularity could be damaging for the liberals ahead of crucial parliamentary elections due in April.



At least 9 dead in migrant boat capsizing off Italian island

Italian Coast Guard officers carry a coffin with the body of a migrant, in the Lampedusa harbor, Italy, early Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. The Italian Coast Guard says at least nine people have died when a migrant boat capsized near the island of Lampedusa as they were about to be rescued. Twenty-two people were saved. (Pasquale Claudio Montana Lampo/ANSA via AP)

By Colleen Barry

Milan (AP) — At least nine people died when an overloaded migrant boat capsized near the island of Lampedusa, the Italian Coast Guard said Monday. Twenty-two people were rescued from the sea.

The smugglers' boat overturned as a patrol boat was preparing to take migrants on board in rough seas some 6 miles (10 kilometers) off Lampedusa just after midnight, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

Twenty-two migrants were rescued from the sea, and nine bodies were recovered — two immediately, and seven during a subsequent search operation.  Italian Coast Guard helicopters and vessels were searching for more of the missing.

Doctors Without Borders says the Ocean Viking ship it operates has been asked by Italian authorities to join the operation.

Initial reports by authorities in Sicily who received the distress call put the number of migrants on board at around 50. Non-governmental organizations say as many as 30 migrants, including eight children, could be missing. The Coast Guard had no additional information on how many might be missing.

The U.N. refugee agency said the deadly shipwreck "highlights once again that urgent action is needed to address the situation on the Mediterranean."

UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley in Geneva called for the EU to resume its search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea, where more than 1,000 migrants have died so far this year, most of them on the dangerous crossing from Libya.

In the absence of an EU search and rescue operation, the job of rescuing migrants has largely been left to humanitarian rescue ships, which both Italy and Malta have consistently refused to allow into port.

Meanwhile, the Spanish aid group Open Arms said Monday it rescued 44 people, including one toddler and a months-old baby, on a wooden boat trying to reach European shores.

Gerard Canals, chief of mission of the Open Arms rescue boat, says the boat was found late on Sunday in Malta's rescue zone, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Canals says that Malta's rescue coordination center told the group not to offer the migrants any assistance. But Open Arms decided to rescue them anyway because the boat wouldn't have made it to land without fuel.

In video remarks distributed by the aid group, Canals says that all 44 rescued — 38 men, 4 women, a 4-year-old boy, and a baby around 6 to 9 months old — are in good condition.


London police arrest 21 climate activists; protests heat up

Environmental protestors gather around the head of a statue confiscated by police on Lambeth Bridge in central London Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. Environmental activists blocked roads leading to Britain's Parliament in an attempt to disrupt the heart of government. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Associated Press

London (AP) — London Police say they've arrested 21 climate change activists over the past few days as the Extinction Rebellion group attempts to draw attention to global warming.

The capital's Metropolitan Police say the arrests on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance took place Saturday and Sunday.

The arrests come as protesters in Berlin and Amsterdam blocked roads ahead of what is being described as widespread demonstrations. Further protests took place Monday in London.

The group's protesters have succeeded before in disrupting life in London in hopes of gaining attention to their cause.

In April, members of the group blocked several London roads and bridges during 10 days of action designed to alert the public and politicians to the "climate emergency."

Extinction Rebellion wants to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2025.


Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea

In this Nov. 21, 2018, file photo, the U.S. Navy's USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier is anchored in Hong Kong. The U.S. 7th Fleet said Sunday the ships and aircraft from the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group staged joint, “high-end warfighting exercises” in the South China Sea. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

By Christopher Bodeen

Beijing (AP) — A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple territorial disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons. The waters are a major shipping route for global commerce and are rich in fish and possible oil and gas reserves.

 US Navy in joint operations in S. China Sea

The U.S. 7th Fleet said Sunday the ships and aircraft from the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group staged joint, "high-end warfighting exercises" in the South China Sea.

"Our operations in the Indo-Pacific are focused on maintaining regional stability and security," Rear Adm. George Wikoff, commander of Task Force 70, was quoted as saying in a news release from the Pacific Fleet.

"Our presence reflects our commitment to the values we share with the many partners and allies in the region, and we stand prepared to deter those who challenge these mutual values with the overwhelming force of our combined carrier and amphibious strike groups," Wikoff said.

The release said exercises included maritime strike operations, search and rescue operations, fast attack craft defense, maritime interdiction operations, small arms and crew-served weapons live-fire drills, air defense and anti-submarine warfare operations.

The USS Ronald Reagan's strike group includes Carrier Air Wing Five, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers, and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers from Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN.

The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group includes a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, a Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Philippines protests Chinese ships' presence near shoal

The Philippines ordered a diplomatic protest against China last week after Chinese coast guard ships reportedly neared a Philippine-occupied shoal in the South China Sea.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., who was accompanying Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on a visit to Russia, issued the normally confidential order on Twitter to officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Relations between the Philippines and China have vastly improved under Duterte, but territorial rifts have remained a thorny issue.

The Philippine military chief and other officials have reported new activities by Chinese coast guard vessels at Second Thomas Shoal, where Filipino marines keep watch aboard a long-grounded navy ship.

Locsin tweeted: "Do I have to fly home to file the goddamned diplomatic protest myself? That's the military speaking. Not some friggin' civilian media outlet. File now!!!"

There was no immediate comment from Chinese Embassy officials in Manila. In the past they have claimed Chinese sovereignty over the shoal.

Under Duterte, Chinese and Philippine officials have held talks to avoid dangerous encounters, which have eased but continue to occur from time to time. A Philippine official told The Associated Press that a Philippine resupply vessel was blocked by a Chinese ship at Second Thomas Shoal in May.

 US, Japan, India navies hold exercises

The Los Angeles-class submarine USS Oklahoma City joined forces Sept. 30 with ships, aircraft and personnel from the U.S., Japanese and Indian navies.

The Malabar 2019 exercise hosted by Japan brings together China's chief rivals in the region in what Beijing likely views as an attempt to stifle its expanding influence and assertions of its territorial claims.

It is the latest in a series of annual maritime drills started in 1992, with Japan a regular participant since 2015. This year's exercise, which started late last month, aims to improve interoperability between Indian, Japanese and U.S. maritime forces and provide an opportunity to conduct engagement highlighting U.S. cooperation with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific, the 7th Fleet said.

Oklahoma City took part in the at-sea phase, which included multiple anti-submarine warfare drills, communication exercises, maneuvering exercises, submarine familiarization, a tracking exercise and a photo exercise, the fleet said.

In addition, the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Key West joined in the bilateral exercise Pacific Griffin with Singapore's navy on Sept. 24 to Oct. 10 near Guam.

The biennial exercise is designed to "enhance combined warfighting skills and tactical execution," the 7th Fleet said.

Japan: China using coercion to change status quo

Japan's 2019 Defense White Paper says China has maintained heavy spending on its armed forces "without transparency," while focusing on its nuclear, missile, naval and air forces.

The annual report released late last month said that in the South China Sea, China is "moving forward with militarization, as well as expanding and intensifying its activities in the maritime and aerial domains by deploying aircraft."

"China continues unilateral efforts to change the status quo by coercion to create a fait accompli," said the report, reflecting views held by other U.S. treaty allies such as Australia and the Philippines.

The report said that in the East China Sea, where China claims seas and islands controlled by Japan, China's navy and air force have "expanded and intensified their activities in the surrounding sea areas and airspace of Japan, including the area surrounding the Senkaku Islands," known in Chinese as Diaoyu.

China is "likely planning to make such activities routine," while it "continues to improve the quality of its activities, and efforts can be seen to build practical joint operational capabilities."

Tensions over China's East China Sea claims have flared into anti-Japanese violence in China in recent years, and Beijing has angrily demanded that Japan's navy steer clear of the South China Sea, something it has refused to do.
 


UK leader presses for US diplomat's wife to face charges

Associated Press

London (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will speak with the U.S. ambassador to the U.K. about a case involving an American diplomat's wife who left the country after reportedly becoming a suspect in a fatal crash.

Johnson said Monday he doesn't think it is right to "use the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose." The prime minister says he will raise the issue with the White House if necessary.

Johnson urged the woman to return to the U.K. to face investigation.

The crash on Aug. 27 killed 19-year-old Harry Dunn after his motorcycle collided with a car near RAF Croughton, a British military base near Oxford. The base is home to a signals intelligence station operated by the U.S. Air Force.



Protests, clashes as bid to block Hong Kong mask ban fails

Police detain protestors in Hong Kong, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. Shouting "Wearing mask is not a crime," tens of thousands of protesters braved the rain Sunday to march in central Hong Kong as a court rejected a second legal attempt to block a mask ban aimed at quashing violence during four months of pro-democracy rallies. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

By Eileen Ng & John Leicester

Hong Kong (AP) — Shouting "Wearing a mask is not a crime," tens of thousands of protesters marched in central Hong Kong on Sunday, as a court rejected a second attempt to block a ban on masks aimed at quashing violence at pro-democracy rallies.

The ban, which took effect Saturday, triggered chaos for a third straight day in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. Police fired tear gas in several areas as demonstrators lobbed bricks and gasoline bombs in confrontations that have become a regular occurrence during the 4-month-old protest movement.

Lawmaker Dennis Kwok said the High Court refused to grant an injunction on the mask ban but agreed to hear later this month an application by 24 legislators against Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's use of emergency powers to impose the rule by circumventing the legislature.

The embattled leader has said the ban on masks, which allows radical protesters to conceal their identity, was needed to stop widespread violence that has "semi-paralyzed" Hong Kong. It is also the biggest challenge for Chinese President Xi Jinping since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Many malls, shops and the entire MTR network of subways and trains were shut Saturday following an overnight rampage. About half of the city's 94 subway stations reopened Sunday, but some quickly shut again after protesters vandalized stations, set street fires and thrashed shops and banks linked to China.

Many malls also remained shuttered as streets downtown turned into a sea of umbrellas, with protesters chanting "Hong Kong people, resist." The rally disbanded after police deployed tear gas to break up violence and detained over a dozen young protesters. Tear gas was also used in the city's Mong Kok district.

Critics fear the use of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance that gives Lam broad powers to implement any measures she deems necessary in an emergency could pave the way for more draconian moves. The law was enacted by British colonial rulers in 1922 to quell a seamen's strike and was last used in 1967 to crush riots.

Lam has not ruled out further measures if violence continues.

"This emergency law is so ancient and draconian. Carrie Lam is using it as some sort of weapon of mass destruction to nuke Hong Kong," said legislator Claudia Mo.

Even though the court rejected the legal challenge, Kwok and Mo welcomed the decision to expedite the hearing. The court didn't set a hearing date but indicated it would be at the end of October.

"This is a constitutional case. The court has acknowledged there is controversy involving the use of the emergency law," Mo said.

Lam has said she will seek the backing of the legislature when it resumes Oct. 16. Mo called it a sham because only Lam has the power to repeal the mask ban under the emergency law.

Many protesters who wore masks Sunday said the ban curtailed their freedom of expression. The ban applies to both illegal and police-approved gatherings, and carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine.

"Carrie Lam is not the god of Hong Kong. She can't do anything she likes," said retiree Patricia Anyeung, who wore a mask while marching with her sister, Rebecca.

A police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media said some arrests were made Sunday for violating the ban, but he couldn't give any numbers.

Enforcement proves tricky in a city where masks have often been used since a deadly respiratory disease outbreak in 2003. The government said Saturday that it won't prohibit the public from wearing masks for health reasons amid the current flu season.

"They can't arrest us all. There are thousands of us," said Anyeung. "There is no going back — we are at the point of no return." Anyeung, who holds a British passport, said she may leave Hong Kong if the city's freedoms are extinguished.

Some protesters spray-painted the word "resist" along a sidewalk.

"I'm thinking of my kid's future. For the sake of our freedom, there's nothing we're afraid of," Feng Yiucheng said through his black mask as he handed out bottles of water to marchers from his van, accompanied by his wife and 2-year-old son.

The protests were sparked in early June by a bill that would have sent criminal suspects to stand trial in mainland China, but have since snowballed into an anti-China movement. Many peaceful demonstrators say violence is the only way for young protesters to force the government to bend to clamors for greater democratic rights and other demands.

The shooting of a 14-year-old boy Friday night — the second protest victim of police gunfire — stoked fears of more bloody confrontations. An 18-year-old protester was shot at close range by a riot officer on Tuesday. He was charged with rioting and assaulting police, while the younger teen was arrested.
 


Ginger Baker, Cream's volatile drummer, dies at 80

In this Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008 file photo, British musician Ginger Baker performs at the 'Zildjian Drummers Achievement Awards' at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. The family of drummer Ginger Baker, the volatile and propulsive British musician who was best known for his time with the power trio Cream, says he died, Sunday Oct. 6, 2019. He was 80. (AP Photo/MJ Kim, File)

By Hillel Italie

London (AP) — Ginger Baker, the volatile and propulsive British musician who was best known for his time with the power trio Cream, died Sunday at age 80, his family said.

Baker wielded his blues power and jazz technique to help break open popular music and become one of the world's most admired and feared musicians.

With blazing eyes, orange-red hair and a temperament to match, the London native ranked with The Who's Keith Moon and Led Zeppelin's John Bonham as the embodiment of musical and personal fury. Using twin bass drums, Baker fashioned a pounding, poly-rhythmic style uncommonly swift and heavy that inspired and intimidated countless musicians. But every beat seemed to mirror an offstage eruption — whether his violent dislike of Cream bandmate Jack Bruce or his on-camera assault of a documentary maker, Jay Bulger, whom he smashed in the nose with his walking stick.

Bulger would call the film, released in 2012, "Beware of Mr. Baker."

Baker's family said on Twitter that he died Sunday: "We are very sad to say that Ginger has passed away peacefully in hospital this morning."

His daughter Nettie confirmed that Baker died in Britain but gave no other details. The family had said on Sept. 25 that Baker was critically ill in the hospital.

While Rolling Stone magazine once ranked him the third-greatest rock drummer of all time, behind Moon and Bonham, Baker had contempt for Moon and others he dismissed as "bashers" without style or background. Baker and his many admirers saw him as a rounded, sophisticated musician — an arranger, composer and student of the craft, absorbing sounds from around the world. He had been playing jazz since he was a teenager and spent years in Africa in the 1970s, forming a close friendship with the Nigerian musician-activist Fela Kuti.

"He was so unique and had such a distinctive personality," Stewart Copeland of the Police told www.musicradar.com in 2013. "Nobody else followed in his footsteps. Everybody tried to be John Bonham and copy his licks, but it's rare that you hear anybody doing the Ginger Baker thing."

But many fans thought of Baker as a rock star, who teamed with Eric Clapton and Bruce in the mid-1960s to become Cream — one of the first supergroups and first power trios. All three were known individually in the London blues scene and together they helped make rock history by elevating instrumental prowess above the songs themselves, even as they had hits with "Sunshine of Your Love," ''I Feel Free" and "White Room."

Cream was among the most successful acts of its time, selling more than 10 million records. But by 1968 Baker and Bruce had worn each other out and even Clapton had tired of their deafening, marathon jams, including the Baker showcase "Toad," one of rock's first extended drum solos. Cream split up at the end of the year, departing with two sold-out shows at London's Albert Hall. When told by Bulger that he was a founding father of heavy metal, Baker snarled that the genre "should have been aborted."

To the surprise of many, especially Clapton, he and Baker were soon part of another super group, Blind Faith, which also featured singer-keyboardist Stevie Winwood and bassist Ric Grech.

As Clapton would recall, he and Winwood had been playing informally when Baker turned up (Baker would allege that Clapton invited him). Named Blind Faith by a rueful Clapton, the band was overwhelmed by expectations from the moment it debuted in June 1969 before some 100,000 at a concert in London's Hyde Park. It split up after completing just one, self-titled album, as notable for its cover photo of a topless young girl as for its music. A highlight from the record: Baker's cymbal splashes on Winwood's lyrical ballad "Can't Find My Way Home."

From the 1970s on, Baker was ever more unpredictable. He moved to Nigeria, took up polo, drove a Land Rover across the Sahara, lived on a ranch in South Africa, divorced his first wife and married three more times.

He recorded with Kuti and other Nigerians, jammed with Art Blakey, Elvin Jones and other jazz drummers and played with John Lydon's Public Image Ltd. He founded Ginger Baker's Air Force, which cost a fortune and imploded after two albums. He endured his old enemy, Bruce, when Cream was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and for Cream reunion concerts a decade later. Bruce died in 2014.

Baker continued to perform regularly in his 70s despite arthritis, heart trouble, hearing loss dating from his years with Cream and lung disease from smoking. No strangers to vices and not a fan of modesty, he called his memoir "Hellraiser: The Autobiography of the World's Greatest Drummer."

"John Bonham once made a statement that there were only two drummers in British rock 'n' roll; himself and Ginger Baker," Baker wrote in his book. "My reaction to this was, 'You cheeky little bastard!'"

Born in 1939, Peter Edward Baker was the son of a bricklayer killed during World War II when Ginger was just 4. His father left behind a letter that Ginger Baker would quote from: "Use your fists; they're your best pals so often."

Baker was a drummer from early on, even rapping out rhythms on his school desk as he mimicked the big band music he loved and didn't let the occasional caning from a teacher deter him. As a teenager, he was playing in local groups and was mentored by percussionist Phil Seamen.

"At this party, there was a little band and all the kids chanted at me, 'Play the drums!''', Baker told The Independent in 2009. "I'd never sat behind a kit before, but I sat down — and I could play! One of the musicians turned round and said, 'Bloody hell, we've got a drummer', and I thought, 'Bloody hell, I'm a drummer.'"

Baker came of age just as London was learning the blues, with such future superstars as Clapton, Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page among the pioneers. Baker joined Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, where he met (and soon disliked, for allegedly playing too loud) the Scottish-born bassist Jack Bruce, with whom he was thrown together again as members of the popular British group the Graham Bond Organization.

Clapton, meanwhile, was London's hottest guitarist, thanks to his work with the Yardbirds and John Mayall's Blues Breakers, his extraordinary speed and agility inspiring "Clapton is God" graffiti. Clapton, Baker and Bruce would call their band Cream because they considered themselves the best musicians around.

"Oh for god's sake, I've never played rock," Baker told the blog JazzWax in 2013. "Cream was two jazz players and a blues guitarist playing improvised music. We never played the same thing two nights running. Jack and I had been in jazz bands for years. All that stuff I did on the drums in Cream didn't come from drugs, either. It was from me. It was jazz."


Austrian police: Man kills 5 in Alpine resort of Kitzbuehel

An investigator works on a balcony of a house in Kitzbuehl, Austria, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. Austrian police say a 25-year-old man's in custody after allegedly killing his ex-girlfriend, her family, and her new boyfriend in the Alpine resort town of Kitzbuehel. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Berlin (AP) — A 25-year-old man turned himself in to Austrian police Sunday after allegedly killing his ex-girlfriend, her family and her new boyfriend in the Alpine resort town of Kitzbuehel.

The Austrian news agency APA reported that the 25-year-old suspect, whose name hasn't been released, admitted to the five slayings after turning himself in to police in the town east of Innsbruck, best known for hosting a famous downhill ski race.

Austria's Kurier newspaper said the suspect had broken up with his girlfriend two months ago. He had bumped into her and her new boyfriend while out late Saturday night or early Sunday and had gotten into an argument.

At about 4 a.m. Sunday, he showed up at his ex-girlfriend's family home. After her father opened the door, the suspect's ex-girlfriend joined him and exchanged words with the suspect before he left.

The suspect then went home, retrieved his brother's pistol and returned, according to police.

Police allege he shot the father as he opened the door, then shot his ex-girlfriend's 25-year-old brother in his bedroom.  After killing her mother, he found the door to his ex-girlfriend's separate apartment, attached to the single-family home, locked.

He then went outside and climbed over a balcony into his ex-girlfriend's room and killed the 19-year-old and her 24-year-old boyfriend, police said.


Saudi Arabia eases restrictions on women taking hotel rooms

In this Oct. 24, 2018 file photo, participants attending a conference take a break in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Saudi Arabia's tourism authority has issued new guidelines allowing women to rent hotel rooms without a male guardian's presence and foreign men and women to share a room without proof of marriage. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

In this March 9, 2018, file photo, an aerial view of Riyadh city is seen from Mamlaka tower, a 99-story skyscraper, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

By Elena Becatoros

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia has lifted some restrictions on women traveling in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom, its tourism authority said Sunday, with new guidelines allowing women to rent hotel rooms without a male guardian's presence, and foreign men and women to share a room without proof of marriage.

The easing of stringent regulations governing social interactions comes after Riyadh launched its first tourist visa scheme, as part of efforts to open up the country to foreign visitors and diversify its oil-reliant economy.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage posted the new requirements on Twitter Sunday, confirming a Friday report by the Saudi daily Okaz.

The commission said women will be allowed to rent hotel rooms with proof of identity — an ID card for Saudi women, residency card for foreign residents living in the kingdom or passport for tourists. The same would be required of foreign couples, without the need for them to present a marriage certificate. Previously women needed permission from a male guardian to rent a hotel room.

Women will also be allowed to rent hotel rooms without any form of identification if they have a male guardian present who does have proof of identity, it said.

The move comes amid deep reforms over the past year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman which has lifted a ban on movie theaters in the kingdom and the world's only ban on women driving.

Critics note there are limits to the reforms, and point to last year's killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and the reported torture of several detained women's rights activists.

Saudi announced the new tourist visa scheme last week, saying it was aiming to increase tourism to contribute up to 10% of gross domestic product compared to 3% currently. For the launch of its new visa, the country was highlighting five UNESCO World Heritage sites, contemporary art sites and natural sites including the Red Sea, desert and mountains.

Previously visitor visas were issued only for specific reasons such as for Muslim religious pilgrimages, to visit family or for business.

The one-year, multiple-entry visa scheme allows for stays of up to 90 days at a time and marks the first time the country is allowing foreigners to visit solely for the purpose of tourism. Citizens of 49 eligible countries can apply online or on arrival, while those from other countries will have to apply at their nearest Saudi embassy or consulate.

As part of the drive to attract foreign visitors, the kingdom is easing strict dress codes for tourist women, requiring shoulders and knees to be covered in public but not demanding they wear the full-body abaya, according to guidelines posted on its visa information website.



More Brexit questions than answers as Oct. 31 deadline nears

In this file photo dated Tuesday, March, 12, 2019, a Motorist crosses the Irish border in Middletown, Northern Ireland. The hope of Britain's Brexit split from the European Union depends on finding a political solution to avoid having a hard border across the peaceful green fields that span the seamless border dividing Britain's Northern Ireland from Europe's Republic of Ireland. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, FILE)

By Raf Casert & Gregory Katz

London (AP) — Well over three years after Britain announced it would split from the European Union, everything regarding Brexit is still in limbo and early hopes of an amicable split have turned into the reality of a bitter, battling divorce.

Britain is scheduled to leave on Oct. 31, but much is still uncertain, especially in Ireland.

Here are some of the unresolved questions about Brexit as Britain’s political drama heads into its possible final weeks:

If Britain wants to split so bad why is it taking so long?

The impending divorce has actually split the U.K. to the core, making for vitriolic debates from household dinner tables to the House of Commons. That’s hardly an ideal situation for British negotiators facing an unusually united front among the 27 remaining EU nations. When previous British Prime Minister Theresa May finally came home with a Brexit compromise divorce deal, it was rejected, not once, but three times by the British Parliament.

So, the EU basically has a Brexit deal it respects but one that Britain has failed to pass.

How has Britain’s new leader affected the Brexit talks?

To untangle the knot, in walks new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, using his tempestuous personality to try to change in days what Brexit negotiators have been working on for years. The changes that he is demanding are fundamental, especially on the relationship between the U.K’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. Reactions on the continent to Johnson’s proposals are increasingly negative, especially on Thursday.

What can still be done in four weeks?

Johnson says more than enough. The EU says not much.

On an issue like the border of Ireland, Johnson sought to wipe the slate clean and start afresh. Even if, unlikely as it is, progress is made to meet Johnson’s demands over the coming days, it would be next to impossible to produce it in legally binding texts in time. So on the continent, the most optimistic view is that Britain will need another Brexit extension past Oct. 31 to iron out those details. That, however, goes against Johnson’s promise to take the U.K. out of the EU by that date “do or die.”

 What is so difficult about the Irish border?

The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is as big a stumbling block as one can find.

Neither side wants a hard border. The absence of border checks has been a prime accomplishment of the Good Friday peace agreement that in 1998 helped curtail decades of violence, and the unfettered border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland has helped business development on both sides.

The problem comes when Britain leaves the EU, because Brexit will mean the currently wide-open border on the island of Ireland marks a new dividing line between the EU and the U.K. And the U.K. will no longer abide by EU trading rules, so new ones will be needed.

What is Boris Johnson’s plan to resolve this?

Britain’s new Brexit proposal, given to the EU on Wednesday, calls for Northern Ireland to leave the EU Customs Union, which would mean it would be in a separate customs territory to Ireland.

This means customs checks and customs declarations for trucks crossing the border, for example - which sounds a lot like a physical border. But the British government proposal calls for customs declarations to be made electronically and for only a very small number of physical checks on goods, which would not be made at the border but at warehouses or other designated locations.

Britain says both sides would agree not to make checks at the actual border.

How will this invisible border work?

There would have to be a new system of customs declarations and checks, with the British government hoping technological solutions can be found to streamline the paperwork. The EU has already poured very cold water on this. The new plan also calls on Northern Ireland to keep following the EU’s single market rules, which will no longer apply to the rest of the UK. As a result, there will have to be a new system of checks on goods being transported between Northern Ireland and the British mainland.

Voters in Northern Ireland wanted to stay in the EU. Do they get any say?

Johnson is proposing that the Northern Ireland Assembly be given a chance to approve or reject the Brexit border arrangement, and then have a chance to extend it every four years. This plan depends on Northern Ireland’s power-sharing assembly, which was set up by the Good Friday peace accord, being brought back to life. Power-sharing collapsed two years ago and has not been revived.

This proposal is something the EU, and Ireland in particular, disagrees with, since it gives a regional legislature in a non-EU nation outsized impact on the policies of the EU’s 27 remaining nations.


NZ bishop resigns over ‘unacceptable’ sexual relationship

Pope Francis attends a feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, at the Vatican, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of New Zealand Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan over what church officials said was his “completely unacceptable” sexual behavior with a young woman. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

By Nicole Winfield

Vatican City (AP) — Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of a New Zealand bishop over what church officials said was his “completely unacceptable” sexual behavior with a young woman.

Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan, 59, had offered to resign following an independent investigation into the woman’s complaint, according to a statement from Cardinal John Dew, head of the church in New Zealand.

The Vatican said Friday that the pope had accepted the resignation.

The removal is significant since the Catholic Church has long considered sexual relationships between clerics and adult women to be sinful and inappropriate, but not criminal or necessarily worthy of permanent sanction.

However, the #MeToo movement and the scandal over ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, an American defrocked by Francis for sexual misconduct, have forced a reckoning about the imbalance of power in relationships between clerics and lay adults, nuns and seminarians - and whether such relationships can ever be consensual.

Drennan was a member of the New Zealand church team of priests and sisters selected to respond to the country’s Royal Commission inquiry into sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults in state and faith-based care between 1950 & 1999. His status on the team wasn’t immediately clear.

Drennan is well under the normal retirement age of 75 for bishops. Ordained a priest in 1996, he worked for seven years in the Vatican’s secretariat of state before being made a bishop in 2011. He took over as the head of the Palmerston North diocese a year later.

More recently, he was elected secretary of the New Zealand bishops’ conference and was a delegate at a 2015 meeting of the world’s bishops on the family.

Dew said the woman made a complaint, and the New Zealand church’s investigative body contracted an outside investigator to evaluate her claim. Both Drennan and the woman participated in the investigation.

Details of their relationship were not released. The woman asked for information from the complaint to remain private, Dew said. He added, however, that “In the eyes of the Catholic Church, Bishop Drennan’s behavior was completely unacceptable.”

Dew praised the woman for coming forward, said she had been told of Drennan’s resignation and is continuing to receive support from the church as well as her family. He urged others to bring reports of clergy misconduct to the church, police or other organizations.

“The Catholic Church has no tolerance for any inappropriate behavior by any of its members,” Dew said.


Thousands protest mask ban as HK leader toughens stance

Protesters wear masks and hold up their hands to represent their five demands in Hong Kong Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters marched in the city center Friday ahead of plans by the city’s embattled leader to deploy emergency powers to ban people from wearing masks in a bid to quash four months of anti-government demonstrations. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

By John Leicester & Eileen Ng

Hong Kong (AP) — Thousands of defiant masked protesters streamed into Hong Kong streets Friday after the city’s embattled leader invoked rarely used emergency powers to ban masks at rallies in a hardening of the government’s stance after four months of anti-government demonstrations.

Challenging the ban set to take effect Saturday, protesters crammed streets in the central business district and other areas, shouting “Hong Kong people, resist.”

Lam said at an afternoon news conference that the mask ban, imposed under a colonial-era Emergency Ordinance that was last used over half a decade ago, targets violent protesters and rioters and “will be an effective deterrent to radical behavior.”

The ban applies to all public gatherings, both unauthorized and those approved by police.

Lam stressed it doesn’t mean the semi-autonomous Chinese territory is in a state of emergency. She said she would go to the legislature later to get legal backing for the rule.

“We must save Hong Kong, the present Hong Kong and the future Hong Kong,” she said. “We must stop the violence ... we can’t just leave the situation to get worse and worse.”

Two activists immediately filed legal challenges in court on grounds that the mask ban will instill fear and curtail freedom of speech and assembly.

The ban makes the wearing of full or partial face coverings, including face paint, at public gatherings punishable by one year in jail. A six-month jail term could be imposed on people who refuse a police officer’s order to remove a face covering for identification.

Masks will be permitted for “legitimate need,” when their wearers can prove that they need them for work, health or religious reasons.

"Will they arrest 100,000 people on the street? The government is trying to intimidate us but at this moment, I don't think the people will be scared," said a protester who gave his surname as Lui.

Lam wouldn’t rule out a further toughening of measures if violence continues. She said she would not resign because “stepping down is not something that will help the situation” when Hong Kong is in “a very critical state of public danger.”

Thousands of masked protesters began marching in the city’s business district and other areas before Lam spoke. The rally grew in the evening as protesters vowed they wouldn’t be intimidated. Some used metal railings to block roads downtown, vandalized two subway stations and set street fires, including burning a Chinese flag.

“The Hong Kong police are also wearing their masks when they're doing their job. And they don't show their pass and their number,” said protester Ernest Ho. “So I will still keep my mask on everywhere."

Face masks have become a hallmark of protesters in Hong Kong, even at peaceful marches, amid fears of retribution at work or of being denied access to schooling, public housing and other government-funded services. Some young protesters also wear full gas masks and goggles to protect against police tear gas.

Many also are concerned their identities could be shared with the massive state-security apparatus that helps keep the Communist Party in power across the border in Mainland China, where high-tech surveillance including facial recognition technology is ubiquitous.

Analysts said the use of the Emergency Ordinance set a dangerous precedent. The law, a relic of British rule enacted in 1922 to quell a seamen’s strike and last used to crush riots in 1967, gives broad powers to the city’s chief executive to implement regulations in an emergency.

“It is a dangerous first step. If the anti-mask legislation proves to be ineffective, it could lead the way to more draconian measures such as a curfew and other infringement of civil liberties,” said Willy Lam, adjunct professor at the Chinese University.

Lam bristled at a suggestion that the ban nudges Hong Kong closer to the authoritarian rule imposed by the Communist Party across the rest of China. She insisted she was not acting under orders from the central government in Beijing, which she visited this week when Communist Party leaders celebrated 70 years in power on Tuesday.

The ban followed widespread violence in the city Tuesday that marred China’s National Day and included a police officer shooting a protester, the first victim of gunfire since the protests started in June over a now-shelved extradition bill. The wounded teenager was charged with attacking police and rioting.

The movement has snowballed into an anti-China campaign amid anger over what many view as Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong’s autonomy. More than 1,750 people have been detained so far.

Activists and many legislators have warned the mask ban could be counterproductive, impractical and difficult to enforce in a city bubbling with anger and where tens of thousands have often defied police bans on rallies.

The government last month withdrew the extradition bill, widely slammed as an example of the erosion of Hong Kong’s freedom, but protesters have widened their demands to include direct elections of the city’s leaders, an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, the unconditional release of protesters and not characterizing the protests as riots.

“Five demands, not one less!” many protesters shouted during Friday’s rallies as they held up five fingers.


What’s in a fatberg? Scientists answer the question

This image released Friday Oct. 4, 2019, by University of Exeter, shows a fatberg in a sewer beneath Sidmouth, England, in January 2019, during scientific analysis conducted by the university to find out exactly what the fatberg was made of. (University of Exeter via AP)

London (AP) — A fatberg, while not terribly pleasant and a big headache for sanitation workers, is not a health or environmental hazard, scientists have found.

An analysis of a giant fatberg longer than the height of the Tower of Pisa found in sewers in western England reveals it to have been comprised of cooking fats, hygiene products and a few random items including false teeth.

University of Exeter scientists said Friday there were no detectible levels of toxic chemicals in the fatberg, which filled 36 tanker loads when it was removed from underneath the seaside town of Sidmouth.

Professor John Love said the team was “rather surprised to find that this Sidmouth fatberg was simply a lump of fat aggregated with wet wipes, sanitary towels and other household products that really should be put in the bin and not down the toilet.”



Employee kills 4 officers in knife attack at Paris police HQ

Police officers stand guard outside the Paris police headquarters, Thursday, Oct.3, 2019 in Paris. An employee armed with a knife attacked officers inside Paris police headquarters Thursday, killing at least four before he was fatally shot, a French police union official said. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

By Sylvie Corbet & Lori Hinnant

Paris (AP) — An administrator armed with a knife attacked officers inside Paris police headquarters Thursday, killing at least four before he was fatally shot, officials said.

Police union official Loic Travers told reporters the attack appeared to have started in an office and continued elsewhere in the large police compound across the street from Notre Dame Cathedral.

The number of people injured was not immediately clear.

Travers said the motive is unknown, but that the 20-year police employee allegedly responsible for the attack worked in the intelligence unit and had not posed known problems until Thursday.

He said he could not remember an attack of this magnitude against officers.

Emery Siamandi, who works at police headquarters, said he was in the stairwell leading to the chief’s office when he heard gunshots.

People stand behind a police tape as they are evacuated nearby the police headquarters after an incident in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. An employee armed with a knife attacked officers inside Paris police headquarters Thursday, killing at least four before he was fatally shot, a French police union official said. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

“I told myself, this isn’t right,” Siamandi said. “Moments later, I saw three policewomen crying. I couldn’t help them in any way, and their colleagues were crying, too, so I figured it must be serious.”

He said he saw one officer on his knees in tears.

"It's the worst scenario possible, an internal attack with colleagues working together," said Philippe Capon of the UNSA police union.

Capon cautioned against jumping to conclusions on the motive and said, "Nothing can be ruled out, including a personal issue."

French media reported a department employee carried out the attack with a ceramic knife in a part of the headquarters building that is not open to the public.

The attack came a day after thousands of officers marched in Paris to protest low wages, long hours and increasing suicides in their ranks.

France’s prime minister, interior minister and the Paris prosecutor were at police headquarters but the government had not issued a statement more than three hours after the rampage. French President Emmanuel Macron stopped by to show solidarity with officers and department employees, his office said.

The neighborhood where the police compound is located, a busy tourist destination, was locked down, the Cite metro stop was closed and the bridge between Notre Dame and the headquarters building was blocked off.

“Paris weeps for its own this afternoon after this terrifying attack in the police headquarters. The toll is heavy, several officers lost their lives,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted.

Extremists have repeatedly targeted French police in France in recent years. In 2017, a gunman opened fire on the Champs-Elysees boulevard, killing one officer before he was shot to death.

In 2016, an attack inspired by the Islamic State group killed a police officer and his companion, an administrator, at their home in front of their child.


Shot teen charged as Hong Kong considers ban on masks

Students fold paper origami cranes on a poster that reads, "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our times," as they march to the Chinese University to show support to those students who were arrested by police in Hong Kong, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Students march to the Chinese University to show support to those students who were arrested by police in Hong Kong, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

By Eileen Ng

Hong Kong (AP) — The teenager who was the first victim of police gunfire in Hong Kong’s months-long pro-democracy protests was charged Thursday with rioting and attacking police, as calls grew for the government to ban the wearing of masks to subdue rising violence in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The shooting of the 18-year-old Tuesday during widespread clashes marred China’s National Day celebration and marked an alarming escalation in violence in the unrest that has rocked one of the world’s top financial hubs since June.

Local media reported that Chief Executive Carrie Lam will hold a special Executive Council meeting on Friday to discuss a ban on masks, which have helped protesters conceal their identities, and other tough measures under a colonial-era emergency law.

Lam’s office said it had no comment. Pro-Beijing legislator Michael Tien confirmed the meeting. Activists and some lawmakers warned that such harsh measures would only further alienate the people and could prompt a more ferocious backlash.

Anger against the government has built up since Tsang Chi-kin was shot at close range after he struck a police officer with a rod.

Tsang was among seven people charged Thursday with rioting, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. He also faces two additional counts of attacking two police officers, punishable by up to six months in prison.

Tsang and two others who were hospitalized did not appear in court. The government said Tsang’s condition is stable. Dozens of supporters, many in black, sat outside the courthouse.

Thousands of people rallied in several areas Thursday night for a second straight day to demand police accountability for the shooting. Dozens stuck anti-police posters and well-wishes for Tsang on fencing outside his school in Tsuen Wan district in the north.

In the Taikoo Shing area, riot police fired volleys of tear gas after some protesters set up road barriers and smashed a surveillance camera at a subway exit. Hundreds of people earlier shouted abuse at riot police, who used pepper spray and detained at least two people.

Earlier Thursday, over 1,000 students marched Thursday at the Chinese University. Many people felt that firing at Tsang's chest, close to his heart, was an attempt to kill him.

Police defended the shooting as “reasonable and lawful” because the officer had feared for his life and those of his colleagues.

Videos on social media of the shooting showed a group of black-clad protesters with bars and umbrellas clashing with police. They closed in on a lone officer, who opened fire as Tsang came at him with a rod. Just as another protester rushed in to try to drag Tsang away but was tackled by an officer, a gasoline bomb landed in the middle of the group of officers in an explosion of flames.

The protests that started in June over a now-shelved extradition bill have since snowballed into an anti-China campaign amid anger over what many view as Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong’s autonomy that was granted when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. More than 1,750 people have been detained so far.

Police associations and some pro-Beijing groups have called for tougher measures.

The Junior Police Officers Association, representing front-line officers, said the force has been stretched thin. In a statement Wednesday, it urged the government to impose a curfew and other emergency measures to maintain public order.

A pro-government group, including lawmakers and lawyers, said Thursday that authorities should use the example of a Canadian law that imposes a jail sentence of up to 10 years on anyone wearing a mask during a riot or unlawful assembly.

Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat said the ban would specifically target rioters and wouldn’t curb citizens’ freedom of assembly. While it wouldn’t bring protests to a halt, she said it would help reduce the violence that has wracked the territory.

But Ip Kin-yuen, a legislator representing the education sector, warned it would be akin to “adding oil to the fire” and could further weaken the government in dealing with the crisis.

Legislator Tien said protesters could challenge a mask ban and any curfew order, just as tens of thousands of people have defied police bans on rallies and taken to the streets in the past months.

But he said it could work if the government also responds to at least the key demand of the protesters, which is to hold an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.

“They need to use carrot and stick at the same time,” Tien said.


Israel swears in new parliament amid political deadlock

Israel's attorney general Avichai Mandelblit arrives at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem for the second day of pre-indictment hearing in the corruption case of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

By Aron Heller

Jerusalem (AP) — Israel swore in its newly elected parliament on Thursday for what could be a very short term after the country’s second inconclusive election of the year left it with no new government on the horizon.

The typically festive event was marked mostly by uncertainty, as the two main candidates for prime minister sniped at each other over who should lead the country.

It also came in parallel to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s high-profile pre-indictment hearing on corruption charges, which have threatened to end his political career and contributed to the current paralysis of the country’s political system.

Neither Netanyahu nor his chief rival Benny Gantz has been able to build a parliamentary majority with their natural allies. They now depend on each other for a unity government as the only likely alternative to an unprecedented third election in less than a year.

Talks between the two sides appear to have stalled, though, with Netanyahu insisting on remaining prime minister and holding on to his ultra-Orthodox and nationalist partners. Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party is sticking to its election campaign vow not to sit with Netanyahu because of his perilous legal standing.

“The right thing for the citizens of Israel, especially at this time, is for the prime minister to be busy working for them and not preoccupied with indictments,” Gantz said at his party faction meeting. “I call upon Netanyahu: Do not barricade yourself in your position. We will take the reins from here and lead the country for the good of the citizens.”

For the sake of unity, Gantz’s deputy, Yair Lapid, announced he was forgoing a previous arrangement to share the premiership should they come to power.

“It’s far more important to me that there’s unity in the country. That there won’t be another election. That this country begins a healing process,” he said.

At his party faction, Netanyahu said he had no intention of stepping down and it was the “will of the people” to form a unity government with him. He accused Gantz of subverting that will.

“We need to go together,” he said. “This is what the voters decided upon and this is what is right at this time.”

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has recommended that Netanyahu be indicted on fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges in three separate cases. Under Israeli law, Netanyahu is entitled to plead his case at a hearing in a last-ditch attempt to persuade prosecutors to drop their case.

For a second day in a row, Netanyahu’s team of lawyers held a marathon session at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem trying to get the looming charges nixed. The first two days so far have focused on the most damaging case against Netanyahu: suspicions that he promoted regulation worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel's Bezeq telecom company in return for favorable coverage in Bezeq's subsidiary news site, Walla.

The other cases include suspicions that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends and offered a critical publisher legislation that would weaken his paper's main rival in return for softer treatment.

Netanyahu has long promised he’d clear his name in the hearing, and his lawyers say they will prove that no quid pro quo was involved. If formal charges are filed, Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing, could come under heavy pressure to step down.

In the meantime, Netanyahu is desperately trying to stay in power. He’s headed a caretaker government for much of the year after failing to build a coalition government following the initial elections in April.

The previous Israeli parliament had the shortest stint in history, lasting just over four months before it was dissolved. There’s no guarantee the current one will be any longer.

The repeat vote last month left Netanyahu even more weakened, with Gantz’s Blue and White finishing first with 33 seats in the 120-seat parliament, just ahead of Netanyahu's Likud with 32 seats. However, Netanyahu edged Gantz 55-54 in the number of lawmakers who recommend him as prime minister and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin therefore tasked him first with trying to form a coalition. A prime minister needs the support of 61 lawmakers to form a government.

Netanyahu has up to six weeks to do so, but he has indicated he will give up before then if he feels he can’t reach a deal with Gantz. The former military chief would then likely be given a chance to try so himself, though his odds of success appear equally slim. After that, Rivlin can either task an alternative lawmaker or, more likely, call new elections again.

Both Netanyahu and Gantz have both expressed general support for a unity government between their parties as a way out of the deadlock but they remain far apart on who should lead it and what smaller parties would join them.

Netanyahu still maintains strong support within his Likud party despite his legal woes. His office suggested he was considering calling a quick internal Likud party primary to solidify his leadership amid opposition calls that he be ousted. In a first sign of potential discord, though, his top Likud rival Gideon Saar said he would be “ready” for such a vote.


Jumping the shark? Kiss will play for them in the ocean

In this Aug. 29, 2019 file photo, KISS performs at the Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati. In front from left are Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Paul Stanley. Eric Singer is in the back on drums. The rock group will play a Nov. 2019 show in Australia for sharks and eight fans in a small submarine. They will listen through underwater speakers as the band remains above board on a boat. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)

By Wayne Parry

Atlantic City, N.J. (AP) — Having played nearly every corner of the Earth in a nearly 50-year career, the rock band Kiss is taking its show to a new place — under the sea, where they will perform for great white sharks and eight fans separated from them by a small submarine.

As part of a promotion by Airbnb, the fans and Kiss will travel Nov. 18 in separate boats off the coast of southern Australia. While Kiss stays above board on one vessel, the fans will be lowered beneath the surface of the water from a second boat into the viewing sub in an area known for shark activity.

Using underwater speakers, Kiss will begin playing, and the sound will be audible to the submerged fans and the sharks.

“I was a little taken aback by it, but they explained that sharks are attracted to low frequencies and so they’re attracted to rock ‘n’ roll,” singer and guitarist Paul Stanley told The Associated Press. “Since we’re going to be in Australia, it gives a whole new meaning to doing a concert down under.”

The first-come, first-served event costs $50, which is half the price of Kiss tickets in even the worst nosebleed seats in the last row at Madison Square Garden. Proceeds will go to charity, the company said. Reservations can be made starting at 6 p.m. EDT on airbnb.com/KISS on Oct. 14.

The event will take place in the Indian Ocean off Port Lincoln, South Australia. Kiss will be in full makeup and costumes for the performance, which will be at least four songs.

“I’m not sure how much of us the sharks can take,” Stanley said. “I’m hoping they know ‘Rock And Roll All Nite.’”

Stanley said Kiss bassist Gene Simmons has recovered after having some kidney stones removed recently, and should be ready to perform well before the shark show.

“I tend to think he just ate gravel,” Stanley joked.

The event is part of Airbnb Animal Experiences, and is designed to have people entertain animals instead of the other way around, the company said in a news release.

As strange as it sounds, underwater concerts are not new. The Underwater Music Festival has been held for the past 35 years in the Florida Keys.

The shark show has untapped potential if they want to do it again sometime. After all, what other concert could potentially bring together Great White and Air Supply?



Hong Kong police slammed as 'trigger-happy' after teen shot

Protestors make a mural depicting a teenage demonstrator shot at close range in the chest by a police officer, in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

A supporter raises a cardboard drawing featuring a protester shot in the chest by police during a strike in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

A supporter holds a printout featuring a protester being shot in the chest by police during a strike in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

A student holds an arm across her chest below her left shoulder — the location of Tsang's gunshot wound. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Residents of Tsuen Wan gather at an open air stadium to protest a teenage demonstrator shot at close range in the chest by a police officer in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

By Eileen Ng & John Leicester

Hong Kong (AP) — Holding up posters saying "Don't shoot our kids," Hong Kong residents and schoolmates of a teenage demonstrator shot in the chest by a police officer rallied Wednesday to condemn police actions and demand accountability.

The shooting Tuesday during widespread anti-government demonstrations on China's National Day was a fearsome escalation of Hong Kong's protest violence. The 18-year-old is the first known victim of police gunfire since the protests began in June. He was hospitalized and the government said his condition was stable.

The officer fired as the teen, Tsang Chi-kin, struck him with a metal rod. The officer's use of lethal weaponry inflamed already widespread public anger against police, who have been condemned as being heavy-handed in quelling the unrest.

"The Hong Kong police have gone trigger-happy and nuts," pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo said.

Mo, who said she repeatedly watched videos of the shooting, echoed what many people expressed.

"The sensible police response should have been to use a police baton or pepper spray, etc., to fight back. It wasn't exactly an extreme situation and the use of a live bullet simply cannot be justified," she said.

More than 2,000 people chanted "No rioters, only tyranny" as they filled an open-air stadium near Tsang's school in Tsuen Wan district in northern Hong Kong on Wednesday night. Many held posters reading, "Don't shoot our kids" and held an arm across their chest below their left shoulder — the location of Tsang's gunshot wound.

Several other peaceful rallies were held elsewhere, with protesters vowing not to give up their fight for more rights including direct elections for the city's leaders and police accountability.

But pockets of protesters vented their anger. Black-clad youths smashed ticket machines and vandalized facilities at two northern subway stations. In Tsuen Wan, hundreds marched along the streets. Some smashed Bank of China teller machines and others removed metal railings and dug up bricks from pavements to build barriers, blocking traffic.

Earlier Wednesday, hundreds of people, including students, sat crossed-legged outside Tsang's school chanting anti-police slogans. One held a hand-written message condemning "thug police."

Schoolmates said Tsang loves basketball and was passionate about the pro-democracy cause. A student who wore a Guy Fawkes mask and declined to be named because of fear of retribution said Tsang was "like a big brother" to him and other junior students.

"During the protests, we would feel safe if he is around because he was always the first to charge forward and would protect us when we were in danger," the student said.

"I vividly remember him saying that he would rather die than be arrested. What an awful twist of fate that it was he of all people who was shot by the police."

Many students felt that firing at Tsang's chest, close to his heart, was an attempt to kill him. Police said Tsang has been arrested despite being hospitalized and that authorities will decide later whether to press charges.

More than 1,000 office workers also skipped their lunch to join an impromptu march in the city's business district against the shooting, which police have defended as "reasonable and lawful."

Police Commissioner Stephen Lo said late Tuesday the officer had feared for his life and made "a split-second" decision to fire a single shot at close range. He denied police had been given permission to shoot to kill.

Responding to questions about why the officer shot at Tsang's chest, instead of his limbs, Deputy Police Commissioner Tang Ping-Keung said Wednesday the officer had fired at an area that could immobilize the youth quickly.

Tang said the officer's action was in line with international procedures, but that police would conduct an in-depth investigation into the shooting.

Videos on social media of the shooting showed a dozen black-clad protesters throwing objects at police and closing in on a lone officer, who opened fire as the masked Tsang came at him with a metal rod. Just as another protester rushed in to try to drag Tsang away but was tackled by an officer, a gasoline bomb landed in the middle of the group of officers in an explosion of flames.

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons Tuesday as usually bustling streets became battlefields. Thumbing their noses at Chinese President Xi Jinping, protesters ignored a security clampdown and fanned across the city armed with gasoline bombs, sticks and bricks.

Hong Kong's government said the widespread rioting Tuesday was orchestrated, echoing Beijing's stance, and called on parents and teachers to help restrain young protesters.

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab criticized the shooting as "disproportionate" and some U.S. lawmakers also joined in the condemnation.

The Chinese foreign ministry office in Hong Kong accused British and American politicians of condoning violence and crime. It called the rioters the "greatest threat to Hong Kong and the common enemy of the international community."


Boris Johnson: UK is offering Brexit 'compromise' to EU

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, talks to European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier during a weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners at EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to send to Brussels what he says is the U.K.'s "final offer" for a Brexit deal, with the date set for Britain's departure less than a month away. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

By Jill Lawless & Danica Kirka

Manchester, England (AP) — The U.K. offered the European Union a proposed Brexit deal on Wednesday that it said represents a compromise for both sides, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the bloc to hold "rapid negotiations towards a solution" after years of wrangling.

In a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Johnson said that not reaching a deal by the U.K.'s scheduled Oct. 31 departure date would be "a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible."

The proposals focus on maintaining an open border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland — the key sticking point to a Brexit deal. The U.K. proposes to do that by keeping Northern Ireland closely aligned to EU rules for trade in goods, possibly for an extended period.

The submission of formal proposals followed a speech by Johnson to Conservative Party members at their annual conference, which had been billed by his office as a take-it-or-leave-it "final offer" to the EU. Yet as delivered, it was more like a plea to the bloc, and to Britons, to end more than three years of acrimonious wrangling over the terms of the U.K.'s exit from the EU.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his Leader's speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Britain's ruling Conservative Party is holding their annual party conference. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

"Let's get Brexit done," was the repeated refrain to delegates at the conference in Manchester, northwest England.

British voters in 2016 narrowly chose to leave the EU but the country remains deeply divided over how to do it. In his speech, Johnson said people who voted for Brexit "are beginning to feel that they are being taken for fools."

"They are beginning to suspect that there are forces in this country that simply don't want Brexit delivered at all," he said in the nationally televised speech. "And if they turn out to be right in that suspicion, then I believe there will be grave consequences for trust in our democracy."

With Britain's delayed departure from the bloc due to take place on Oct. 31, Johnson said the government was sending "constructive and reasonable proposals" to the EU.

He said the plan was "a compromise by the U.K. And I hope very much that our friends understand that and compromise in their turn."

But the plan is likely to face deep skepticism from EU leaders, who doubt the U.K. has a workable proposal to avoid checks on goods or people crossing the Irish border.

A Brexit agreement between the EU and Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, was rejected three times by the U.K. Parliament, largely because of opposition to the "backstop," an insurance policy designed to ensure there is no return to customs posts or other infrastructure on the Irish border.

An open border underpins both the local economy and Northern Ireland's peace process. But Johnson and other British Brexit supporters oppose the backstop because it would keep the U.K. tightly bound to EU trade rules in order to avoid customs checks — limiting the country's ability to strike new trade deals around the world.

Johnson insisted that "we will under no circumstances have checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland."

The British proposal involves "an all-island regulatory zone on the island of Ireland, covering all goods including agrifood." That would keep Northern Ireland in a regulatory zone with the EU for food, agricultural and industrial products, removing the need for checks, but the EU will carefully study the details.

The status has no time limit though it would have to be renewed every four years by the Northern Ireland government, Johnson said.

Under the plan there would still need to be customs checks, but Johnson suggested in his letter that they could be done away from the border at "other points on the supply chain."

The EU said it would give the British proposal serious legal vetting before saying whether it is worthy of being a basis for future talks on the U.K.'s departure.

The European Commission said in a statement that "once received, we will examine (the U.K. text) objectively and in light of well-known criteria," which includes whether it prevents a hard border on the island of Ireland, preserves cooperation between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and respects the EU rules on trade across borders.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is to speak with Johnson in the afternoon and technical talks among both sides are planned.

Johnson has vowed to leave on Oct. 31 with or without a Brexit deal.

In Wednesday's speech he repeated his contention that the U.K. can handle any bumps that come from tumbling out of the bloc without a deal, which would mean the instant imposition of customs checks and other barriers between Britain and the EU, its biggest trading partner.

A no-deal Brexit is "not an outcome we want ... (but) it is an outcome for which we are ready," he said in his speech.

But the U.K. government and businesses both say the disruptions would be substantial, with the flow of goods coming into Britain through the major Channel port of Dover cut in half.

Many lawmakers want to prevent a no-deal exit, and have passed a law that compels the government to seek a delay to Brexit if it can't get an agreement with the EU by Oct. 19. Johnson says he won't do that — although he also insists he will obey the law. He has not explained how doing both those things will be possible.

Johnson, who has had a tumultuous 70 days in office, delivered a speech that was almost Boris-by numbers, peppered with puns, grand claims about Britain's greatness and jokes at the expense of his opponents — chiefly left-wing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, whom he dubbed a "communist cosmonaut."

It was also, pointedly, a pre-election speech, with a grab-bag of promises: more money for hospitals and police, unspecified tax cuts, greener buses and faster internet access.

The brash Brexit champion is popular with many Conservative members, who welcome his energy and optimism after three years of Brexit gridlock under May. Some, though, have qualms about his personal conduct and his divisive tactics, which include using words like "surrender" and "betrayal" about opponents of Brexit.

He has been dogged by allegations that he handed out perks to a female friend's business while he was mayor of London and groped the thigh of a female journalist at a lunch two decades ago. Johnson denies impropriety in both cases.

The claims have not dented his popularity among many Conservatives.

"We don't need Saint Boris, thank you," said Jean Chesworth, a delegate from Newcastle-under-Lyme in central England. "We're none of us saints. We can all look at the skeletons in our cupboards."

She said the speech was "a synthesis of all Boris is ... dynamic, successful outward-looking, optimistic, positive and achieving. That's the person he is."
 


Prince Harry lashes out at UK press for treatment of Meghan

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit a Youth Employment Services Hub in Makhulong, Tembisa, a township near Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday Oct. 2, 2019. The royal couple were on the last of their 10 day Africa tour. (AP Photo/Christiaan Kotze)

By Gregory Katz

London (AP) — Prince Harry has lashed out at the British media for its treatment of his wife, Meghan, accusing it of hounding her the way it did his mother, Princess Diana, who died in a 1997 car crash while trying to elude paparazzi.

"My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces," Harry said.

His rebuke of the press, and a lawsuit filed by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, against the Mail on Sunday newspaper for publishing in February a letter she had written to her estranged father is overshadowing the final day of his family's tour to southern Africa.

Harry and Meghan — with infant son Archie in tow — are scheduled to fly home Wednesday evening from South Africa following their day 10-day trip.

The ginger-haired, bearded prince — often seeming so light of mood in public — said he could no longer be a "silent witness to her private suffering."

Releasing what appears to be years of pent-up anger at the press, he said some newspapers have repeatedly "vilified" Meghan and published "lie after lie" about her.

Harry and his older brother Prince William have long had a strained relationship with the press. They grew up in the spotlight and were young boys when their parents' acrimonious divorce received wall-to-wall coverage.

In the civil lawsuit, Meghan's lawyers accused the newspaper of copyright infringement, misuse of public information and violation of data protection laws.

The Mail on Sunday said it stands by its story and will fight the case in court.

Harry and Meghan enjoyed almost worshipful attention from the press when they married in May, 2018, but the tone has changed in recent months. The couple has been criticized for using taxpayer money to renovate their home and for traveling on a private jet while calling for more action on climate change.

They did receive generally positive coverage on their trip to southern Africa, which also served as a debut in global diplomacy for four-month-old Archie.

Archie's sole public showing was also a rare public appearance by ailing Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who greeted the baby with a gleeful smile and a gentle kiss on the forehead.

Harry and Meghan paid tribute to Diana's legacy throughout the trip, and he visited the former minefield in Angola where she had walked 22 years ago. Clad in body armor, he also visited a partially-cleared minefield, as Diana had done, and set off a controlled explosion.

The royal couple was greeted in southern Africa with interest but nothing like the minute-by-minute coverage that meets them in some other parts of the Commonwealth.

Meghan was praised for her warmth, her quiet visit to a makeshift shrine to a university student whose rape and murder set off national protests over South Africa's high rate of sexual violence, and her heartfelt statement during her first public event that "I am here with you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of color and as your sister."

It was unusual for Meghan, whose mother is black and father white, to talk in public of her racial heritage.

She spoke on many occasions during the tour about the need for the empowerment of women. The couple also drew kudos for jettisoning starchy protocol and hugging people with enthusiasm.

Local coverage was not all welcoming, however. The well-regarded Mail & Guardian weekly in Johannesburg called the couple's visit "a right royal pain."

In an editorial, the paper criticized the "breathless coverage" that had surrounded the royals' visit as a leftover from colonial days.

"South Africa has plenty of kings and queens of its own, with their kids, without having to import others," the Johannesburg newspaper said.

"Why exactly do we care so much about these people?"

With the Africa trip concluded, the couple plans to return home to deal with possible fallout from Meghan's lawsuit and Harry's broader attack on the press.

The Mail on Sunday said it will defend itself "vigorously" against the suit and said it had done nothing wrong.

"Specifically, we categorically deny that the duchess's letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning," the tabloid said in a statement that refuted one of Harry's claims.

Harry had last criticized the press directly in 2016, before he and Meghan became engaged. He said at the time that the press was hounding her viciously and that there was a racist tinge so some of the coverage. The prince said he feared for her safety.


Report: No-deal Brexit could leave UK with medical shortages

 

In this Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 file photo, an employee of Eurotunnel and his dog check trucks on their way to Britain during a day of test in case of no deal Brexit, at the exit of the Channel tunnel in Calais, northern France. Britain’s government watchdog says there is still a “significant amount” of work to do to ensure Britain has an adequate medicines supply in case of a no-deal Brexit. (Denis Charlet, Pool via AP, file)

Maria Cheng

London (AP) — Britain's government watchdog says there's still a "significant amount" of work to do to make sure the country has an adequate supply of licensed drugs in case of a no-deal Brexit.

In a report issued Friday, Britain's National Audit Office said additional shipping capacity chartered by the U.K. for sending goods across the English Channel might not be operational until the end of November — one month after the Oct. 31 deadline for Britain to leave the European Union. Of the more than 12,300 medicines licensed in the U.K., about 7,000 arrive from or via the EU, mostly across the Channel.

Meg Hillier, who chairs a committee overseeing the audit office, called the findings "deeply concerning." She said she had seen "countless examples" of the British government missing deadlines, but that this one was particularly striking.

"If the government gets this wrong, it could have the gravest of consequences," she said.

Alan Boyd of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said people with epilepsy were a particular concern in the event of any drug shortages, noting that "one seizure can have a life-changing impact."

According to the British government's "reasonable worst-case" scenario, the flow of goods could be cut by half on Day One of a no-deal Brexit and could take a year to recover. It said time was "extremely limited" if the shipping issues were to be resolved by the end of October.

Dr. David Nicholl, a neurologist who helped draft the U.K.'s no-deal Brexit planning and went public with his concerns this month, said he felt vindicated by the audit office report. He said during his work consulting for the government, there were fears about adequate supplies for treatments for conditions including epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and certain cancers including leukemia.

"It's incredibly troubling and reckless," he said. "I don't think there's any evidence that we're in any better situation than we were before."

Nicholl said British politicians were still refusing to honestly acknowledge the harm that would be caused to patients in Britain by a no-deal exit. He predicted there would be a spike in illness and deaths if Britain does leave Europe without a divorce deal.

In early September, Nicholl publicly raised the issue of drug shortages on a London radio show when he pointedly asked Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons, what level of excess deaths he would be willing to accept in a no-deal Brexit. Mogg dismissed Nicholl's warnings and later compared him to the disgraced researcher Andrew Wakefield, who published a now-discredited paper linking a childhood vaccine to autism. Mogg later apologized for the comparison.

Nicholl said he was so disillusioned with the lack of action to address his concerns that he has decided to enter politics; he will stand as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats in a district currently held by Sajid Javid, the Conservative chancellor.

"I do not believe for one minute that anyone who voted to leave in 2016 voted to harm themselves and other people, and yet that is where we're heading," he said. "We need some people in Parliament with a brain who are willing to negotiate with other people."

Britain's department of health said it has taken measures to prepare for a no-deal departure, including ordering six weeks of extra medicine stocks and securing specialist courier services to deliver products with a short shelf life.

But not everyone was convinced by the moves.

"One thing is clear about a no-deal Brexit and that is that no amount of preparation can fully eradicate the risks it presents to patient safety," said Donal O'Donoghue of the Royal College of Physicians. "It is impossible for me and my colleagues to reassure patients that their health and care won't be negatively impacted by the U.K. leaving the EU without a deal."

Steve Bates, CEO of U.K.' s Bioindustry Association , said that unlike the last Brexit deadline — March 31 — the government has given companies much less information about alternative routes in case a no-deal Brexit results in jammed ports.

"Last time, we knew which ferry services had been commissioned on alternative routes with pharmaceutical companies encouraged to book space to ship their products," he told reporters last week. "But the same approach has not been adopted this time."

The audit report released Friday also said there was "incomplete information" about the levels of medicine stockpiling but that levels were increasingly daily. As of Sept. 20, suppliers reported that 72% of medicines had a six-week stockpile.

Boyd said drug shortages already happen every month even without Brexit and the department of health typically issues a list of affected medicines and in some cases, suggests possible alternatives. He said the group was also concerned that a no-deal Brexit would mean that Britain would be kicked out of a Europe-wide program to identify counterfeit medicines.

"The department of health will put its own system in place, but that will likely take a few years before it's up and running," he said.


Police shoot protester in Hong Kong day of rage

An injured anti-government protester is attended to by others during a clash with police in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Anti-government protesters set fire to block traffic in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

By Eileen Ng & John Leicester

Hong Kong (AP) — Hong Kong police shot a protester at close range, leaving him bleeding from his shoulder and howling on the ground, in a fearsome escalation of anti-government demonstrations that spread across the semi-autonomous Chinese territory on Tuesday. Tens of thousands marched in a day of rage as Communist leaders in Beijing celebrated 70 years in power.

The protester was shot by an officer who opened fire with his revolver, a police official said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information. While officers have previously fired warning shots in the air on multiple occasions during Hong Kong's months long anti-government protests, this is the first time a protester is known to have been shot.

Video of the shooting that spread quickly on social media appeared to show the officer opening fire as the protester came at him with a baton, striking the officer's shooting arm.

Taken by the City University Student Union, it showed a dozen black-clad protesters hurling objects at a group of riot police and closing in on the lone officer who pointed his revolver and opened fire on the protester who collapsed on the street, bleeding from below his left shoulder.

As another protester rushed in to try to drag away the injured protester and was tackled by an officer, a gasoline bomb landed in the middle of the group of officers in an explosion of flames.

The South China Morning Post reported that the protester, a 17-year-old student, was taken to a hospital and was undergoing surgery.

The shooting marked a dramatic escalation in violence in a city already on edge which saw fierce clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police spreading to multiple areas.

Riot police fired numerous volleys of tear gas in at least six locations and used water cannons in the business district as protesters turned streets into battlefields to spoil the Oct. 1 anniversary of Communist rule.

A security clampdown in the city to thwart violence that would embarrass Chinese President Xi Jinping failed to deter the protests, including a massive march in the city center.

Organizers said at least 100,000 people marched along a broad city thoroughfare in defiance of a police ban, chanting anti-China slogans and some carrying Chinese flags defaced with a black cross. Police didn't provide an estimate of the turnout.

"They are squeezing our necks so we don't breathe the air of freedom," said King Chan, a 57-year-old homemaker who came out to protest with her husband.

Many demonstrators tossed wads of fake "hell" bank notes usually used at funerals into the air. "The leaders who won't listen to our voice, this is for them," said marcher Ray Luk.

Thousands of people confronted police in multiple locations across the city, the largest number of simultaneous protests since the unrest began in early June over a now-shelved extradition bill that activists say was an example of how Hong Kong's freedoms and citizen rights are being eroded.

The movement has since snowballed into an anti-Chinese campaign with demands for direct elections for the city's leaders and police accountability.

The smell of stinging tear gas and smoke from street fires started by protesters engulfed the Wan Chai, Wong Tai Sin, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan and Tsim Sha Tsui areas. Protesters hurled gasoline bombs, bricks and other objects at police, who responded with volleys of tear gas.

Protesters used umbrellas as shields and threw tear gas canisters back at police. Police said protesters used corrosive fluid in Tuen Mun, injuring officers and some reporters.

In Wong Tai Sin, a gasoline bomb that protesters hurled at police exploded near motorcycles parked along a pavement, creating a large blaze that was put out by firefighters. Some protesters placed an emergency water hose down a subway station to try to flood it.

A water cannon truck sprayed blue water, used to identify protesters, to disperse crowds from advancing to government offices in the city. Scores of police officers also stood guard near the Beijing's liaison office as the battles continued across the territory.

"Today we are out to tell the Communist Party that Hong Kong people have nothing to celebrate," said activist Lee Cheuk-yan as he led the downtown march. "We are mourning that in 70 years of Communist Party rule, the democratic rights of people in Hong Kong and China are being denied. We will continue to fight."

Activists carried banners saying, "End dictatorial rule, return power to the people."

Dressed in a black T-shirt and dark jeans, 40-year-old Bob Wong said his clothing expressed "mourning" over "the death of Hong Kong's future."

The popular LIHKG online chat forum used by protesters was inaccessible on cellphones, a move believed to have been made to prevent communication by protesters. More than two dozen subway stations and many shopping malls across the city were shut.

The protests contrasted with Beijing's anniversary festivities marked with a colorful parade and display of new missile technology. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is in Beijing for the ceremony, smiled as a Hong Kong float passed by.

In the morning as the city's government marked the anniversary with a solemn ceremony, police used pepper spray to break up a brief scuffle between Beijing supporters and a small group of pro-democracy protesters.

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung told hundreds of guests at a reception that the city has become "unrecognizable" due to the violence.

Cheung said Beijing fully supports the "one country, two systems" framework that gives Hong Kong freedoms and rights not enjoyed on the mainland. The system was implemented when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.


North Korea: Nuclear talks with US to resume this weekend

In this June 30, 2019, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the North Korean side of the border at the village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone. A senior North Korean diplomat on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, says North Korea and the United States have agreed to resume nuclear negotiations on Oct. 5 following a months-long stalemate over withdrawal of sanctions in exchange for disarmament. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Kim Tong-Hyung

Seoul, South Korea (AP) — North Korea and the United States have agreed to resume nuclear negotiations this weekend following a months-long stalemate over the withdrawal of sanctions in exchange for disarmament, a senior North Korean diplomat said Tuesday.

Choe Son Hui, North Korea's first vice minister of foreign affairs, said the two nations will have preliminary contact on Friday before holding working-level talks on Saturday.

In a statement released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, Choe expressed optimism over the outcome of the meeting but did not say where it would take place.

"It is my expectation that the working-level negotiations would accelerate the positive development of the DPRK-U.S. relations," Choe said in the statement, using an abbreviation for North Korea's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Nuclear negotiations have been at a standstill for months following a February summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam. Those talks broke down after the U.S. rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for partially surrendering its nuclear capabilities.

North Korea followed the summit with belligerent rhetoric and a slew of short-range weapons tests that were widely seen as an attempt to gain leverage ahead of a possible resumption of negotiations.

Choe's announcement came after North Korea praised Trump last month for suggesting that Washington may pursue an unspecified "new method" in nuclear negotiations with the North. North Korea also has welcomed Trump's decision to fire hawkish former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who advocated a "Libya model" of unilateral denuclearization as a template for North Korea.

The 2004 disarmament of Libya is seen by Pyongyang as a deeply provocative comparison because Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed following U.S.-supported military action in his country seven years after giving up a rudimentary nuclear program that was far less advanced than North Korea's.

The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who lobbied hard to set up the first summit between Kim and Trump last year in Singapore, welcomed Choe's announcement and expressed hope that the resumed talks would result in "substantial progress" in denuclearization and stabilization of peace.

That's could be a tall order. Under the high-stakes diplomacy between Trump and Kim, which has been driven chiefly by the personalities of the leaders rather than an established diplomatic process, working-level meetings have been useful for fleshing out the logistics of summits but unproductive in hammering out the details of a nuclear deal that has eluded the countries for decades.

The stalemate of past months has revealed fundamental differences between the two sides. North Korea says it will never unilaterally surrender its nuclear weapons and missiles and insists that U.S.-led sanctions against it should be lifted first before any progress in negotiations.

The Trump administration has vowed to maintain robust economic pressure until the North takes real steps toward fully and verifiably relinquishing its nuclear program.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said progress in working-level negotiations would depend on several factors, including whether Kim empowers his officials to negotiate concrete steps and whether the Trump administration embraces "a phased approach where summits and sanctions relief must be earned, but denuclearization is not decided all at once."

There are doubts about whether Kim would ever voluntarily deal away an arsenal that he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival.

In his first public appearance since his departure from the White House, Bolton on Monday gave a characteristically pessimistic outlook on the prospects for nuclear negotiations with the North and challenged Trump's foreign policy without directly mentioning the president.

At a forum in Washington hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Bolton said Kim has made a "strategic decision" to do whatever he can to keep his country's nuclear weapons and that is an "unacceptable" threat to the world.

"Under current circumstances, he will never give up nuclear weapons voluntarily," Bolton said. "This is a government that has essentially violated every international agreement it has ever made."

After their Singapore summit in June 2018, Trump and Kim issued a vague statement calling for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing how or when it would occur.

The lack of substance and fruitless working-level talks set up the failure in Hanoi, which the Americans blamed on what they said were excessive North Korean demands for sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling an aging nuclear facility in Yongbyon. Trump and Kim met for the third time at the inter-Korean border on June 30 and agreed that working-level talks between the countries should resume.


Tight security as Catalonia marks secession vote date

Pro-independence demonstrators, some of them holding flares, march as they take part in a demonstration in Girona, Spain, Tuesday Oct. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

By Emilio Morenatti & Aritz Parra

Girona, Spain (AP) — A few hundred secession supporters marched early Tuesday in Spain's northeastern city of Girona to mark two years since a banned independence referendum that shook Spanish politics.

Larger protests were scheduled later in the day amid heightened security measures across the wealthy Catalonia region of 7.5 million people, where separatist sentiment has been on the rise for nearly a decade.

They are being watched by all sides as a sign of the independence movement's strength and its capacity to keep troublemakers from tarnishing its reputation of peaceful struggle.

The sensitive anniversary comes as Spain's Supreme Court is set to rule on a rebellion and sedition trial against a dozen Catalan politicians and activists who were key protagonists in Catalonia's Oct. 1, 2017, independence referendum.

Any ruling that doesn't absolve the defendants will be considered "unfair," grassroots pro-secession civil society groups announced Tuesday, calling for protests and "peaceful civil disobedience" if the court rules otherwise.

The arrests last week of seven pro-independence activists who face possible terrorism charges have also angered many in Catalonia, who liken the crackdown to an attempt by Spanish authorities to criminalize their political independence movement.

The activists were linked to the grassroots, self-appointed Committees for the Defense of the Republic, or CDRs, which have called some of Tuesday's protests.

Although the judicial probe is sealed by Spain's National Court, which typically has jurisdiction over terrorism-related cases, details of the interrogations of the activists have been leaked to Spanish media.

They largely paint a picture of a secretive, organized group who allegedly prepared explosives to wreak havoc in communications and key infrastructure and planned to occupy the regional Catalan parliament in Barcelona in response to the upcoming Supreme Court's ruling.

Some of the publications linked the activities of the CDRs to the region's current and former separatist leaders. Carles Puigdemont, the ousted Catalan president who Spain considers a fugitive, denied any links to the activists during an interview Tuesday with Catalan radio in Belgium, where he fled in 2017 after the failed independence bid.

Puigdemont, who has successfully fought off extradition requests by Spain to Belgian and German authorities, accused Spanish authorities of looking for ammunition to make a fresh attempt to arrest him.

"They are trying to push a narrative to accuse me of terrorism," he said.

Spanish politicians and editorials have criticized separatist leaders for not condemning the activists' alleged plans. In a speech Tuesday, Puigdemont's successor Quim Torra, the current regional president, said his cabinet remained focused on establishing a Catalan Republic "without excuses," and to do it "democratically and peacefully."

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who has been in a caretaker capacity since February and faces a repeated general election next month, delivered a stern warning Tuesday to the separatists. If regional separatist leaders break Spanish laws again, he told Cadena Ser radio, central authorities would not hesitate to suspend the region's self-government and apply direct rule again, like they did two years ago after the divisive independence attempt.

"That's why I'm asking separatists not to play with fire, they need to condemn any violent activity," Sánchez said.

Tuesday's referendum anniversary protests took place amid a strong police presence, especially in train stations and on highways.

In Girona, some activists threw eggs filled with red paint at riot police and overturned large trash containers. Marchers holding smoke torches shouted "Out with the occupying forces!" at the gates of the city's Civil Guard barracks, before moving to the Spanish government's provincial delegation to stage a sit-in.

A bigger demonstration is expected in the evening in Barcelona, departing from a central square and touring some of the schools that were stormed by riot police two years ago when they were turned into polling stations for the illegal vote.

Polls and recent elections show that the 5.5 million voters of Catalonia are roughly evenly split on the independence issue.


'You're good-looking': Ukraine's leader woos Tom Cruise

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and American actor, film director and producer Tom Cruise talk to each other during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, late Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. Tom Cruise arrived in Kyiv at the invitation of President of Zelenskiy. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

The Associated Presss

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's leader isn't just trying to charm U.S. President Donald Trump — he's set his sights now on Tom Cruise, too.

Mission impossible? Maybe not — Cruise is studying possible Ukrainian locations for an upcoming film, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office.

Zelenskiy tapped his roots as a TV and film comedian when hosting Cruise in the Ukrainian presidential headquarters Monday night.

As Cruise walked in, he said "You're good-looking!" according to video excerpts released Tuesday by his office. The Hollywood star laughed and said "it pays the bills."

Zelenskiy joked about how exhausting it is to be president, and mentioned the stalled peace process for conflict-ravaged eastern Ukraine.

The video excerpts included no mention of Trump or the U.S. impeachment inquiry in which Ukraine plays a starring role.


Chirac gets full military honors as France bids him farewell

French President Emmanuel Macron follows the flag-draped coffin of late French President Jacques Chirac during a military funeral honors ceremony at the Invalides monument during a national day of mourning in Paris, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019.( Philippe Wojazer/Pool via AP)

By SAM PETREQUIN and CLAIRE PARKER

PARIS (AP) — France bid a final adieu to Jacques Chirac on Monday as the former French president received military honors on a national day of mourning that culminated with a memorial service attended by dozens of past and current world leaders.

Cutting a solemn figure, French President Emmanuel Macron presided over the military ceremony on a mild, sunny morning near the site of Napoleon's tomb in the courtyard of Les Invalides. A military band played the national anthem, "La Marseillaise," before Macron inspected the troops. Chirac's casket, covered with a Tricolor flag, was then carried to the center of the cobbled courtyard.

Macron, who did not speak, later attended the final service at the Church of Saint-Sulpice in downtown Paris alongside family members, French politicians and foreign officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Jordan's King Abdallah II.

Chirac's coffin was driven to Saint-Sulpice, where pianist Daniel Barenboim played a Schubert impromptu, as mourners lined the procession route to his funeral service. When the hearse carrying Chirac drove by, the crowd broke into applause.

Standing outside of the Invalides, Nathalie Kabongo, whose husband worked on Chirac's 1995 and 2002 campaigns, said Chirac reminded her of "a politics closer to the people."

"Apart from being president, he was a man ... a warm man, a man close to people, smiling and with a heart," she said. "We need that sometimes."

Those assembled took pictures, shed tears and held signs reading "Thank you for saying no to the war in Iraq" as they watched the flag-draped coffin onscreen.

Max Mignard, who came to pay his respects, described Chirac as the "kindest man in politics."

A private family church service for Chirac was celebrated prior to the military tribute and a private burial took place later at the Montparnasse cemetery. A minute of silence was held in schools and public buildings across the country on France's national day of mourning for its former leader.

Thousands of miles away from Paris, the French rugby players contesting the rugby World Cup in Japan joined the commemoration with a moment of silence before their training session.

A mainstay of French politics over four decades, Chirac served as Paris mayor, a lawmaker, prime minister and France's president from 1995 to 2007. The last French head of state to complete two terms in office, Chirac died last week at 86.

Known for championing the nation's sense of its own grandeur and opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Chirac is being remembered fondly despite political failures and a 2011 corruption conviction from actions during his nearly two decades as mayor of Paris. As president from 1995-2007, he was a consummate global diplomat but failed to reform the French economy or defuse tensions between police and minority youths, which exploded into riots across France in 2005.

Once nicknamed "Super Liar," Chirac's popularity soared after he left office. Thousands of mourners paid him tribute Sunday at Les Invalides, where his body lay in state on the eve of the memorial service.

"He was a great man who had an absolute fantastic class in all circumstances," said Nadine Prevost, who was among the Saint-Sulpice mourners. "He knew how to speak to everyone with a simplicity and a grandeur. And that's what made for the richness of his contact."


Austria's Kurz faces tricky choices to form next government

 

Former Austrian chancellor and top candidate of the Austrian People's Party, OEVP, Sebastian Kurz waves to his supporters in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

VIENNA (AP) — A day after winning Austria's early election, former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz refused Monday to rule out any options for forming a new government, including courting the far-right Freedom Party that suffered heavy losses following corruption allegations.

Kurz's conservative People's Party finished first with 37.1% of the vote Sunday and he said he planned to honor his pledge to talk to all rivals about the possibility of a coalition.

"Of course we will seek talks with all parties and try to determine which parties there's overlap with, which parties a stable government can be formed with," he told public broadcaster ORF.

The 33-year-old also bristled at calls from German commentators for his party to shun a fresh coalition with far-right partners.

"I don't think we need advice from abroad, including from Germany," he said.

A video showing former Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache offering favors to a purported Russian investor triggered the collapse of Kurz's 17-month government with them in May. Strache also faces an investigation for suspected breach of trust over the alleged billing of private expenses to his party, which contributed to its weak third-place finish Sunday with 16% of the vote.

The Freedom Party has indicated it plans to move into opposition to rebuild itself, leaving Kurz with only two realistic options: joining with the second-placed Social Democrats, whose share of the vote fell to 21.7%, or the environmentalist Greens, who staged a big comeback after failing to enter parliament in 2017 and received 14% support on Sunday.

"I fear (coalition talks) will be a little bit more challenging this time," said Kurz.

Kurz said safeguarding the economy in this Alpine nation of 8.8 million would be the main task for the coming years, citing a looming economic downturn in neighboring Germany, the unsolved issue of Britain's impending departure from the European Union and the bloc's trade tensions with the United States.


Saudi crown prince takes responsibility for journalist death

 

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2019, file photo, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The crown prince said in a television interview that aired Sunday, Sept. 29, that he takes "full responsibility" for the grisly murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but denied allegations that he ordered it. (Mandel Ngan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a television interview that he takes "full responsibility" for the grisly killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he denied allegations that he ordered it.

"This was a heinous crime," Prince Mohammed, 34, told "60 Minutes" in an interview that aired Sunday. "But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government."

Asked if he ordered the killing of Khashoggi, who had criticized him in columns for The Washington Post, Prince Mohammed replied: "Absolutely not."

The slaying was "a mistake," he said.

Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2, 2018, to collect a document that he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee. Agents of the Saudi government killed Khashoggi inside the consulate and apparently dismembered his body, which has never been found. Saudi Arabia has charged 11 people in the slaying and put them on trial, which has been held in secret. As of yet, no one has been convicted.

A U.N. report asserted that Saudi Arabia bore responsibility for the killing and said Prince Mohammed's possible role in it should be investigated. In Washington, Congress has said it believes Prince Mohammed is "responsible for the murder." Saudi Arabia has long insisted the crown prince had no involvement in an operation that included agents who reported directly to him.

"Some think that I should know what 3 million people working for the Saudi government do daily," the powerful heir told "60 Minutes." ''It's impossible that the 3 million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second-highest person in the Saudi government."

In an interview Thursday in New York, Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, told The Associated Press that responsibility for Khashoggi's slaying "was not limited to the perpetrators" and said she wanted Prince Mohammed to tell her: "Why was Jamal killed? Where is his body? What was the motive for this murder?"

Prince Mohammed also addressed the Sept. 14 missile and drone attack on Saudi oil facilities. While Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels claimed the assault, Saudi Arabia has said it was "unquestionably sponsored by Iran."

"There is no strategic goal," Prince Mohammed said of the attack. "Only a fool would attack 5% of global supplies. The only strategic goal is to prove that they are stupid and that is what they did."

He urged "strong and firm action to deter Iran."


China's Xi renews commitment to Hong Kong amid protests

Chinese President Xi Jinping makes a toast after delivering his speech at a dinner marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019.

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese Communist Party leader and President Xi Jinping on Monday renewed his government's commitment to allowing Hong Kong to manage its own affairs amid continuing anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Xi made his remarks at a reception on the eve of a massive celebration of the People's Republic's 70th anniversary that threatens to be marred by clashes between police and anti-government demonstrators in Hong Kong.

Demonstrators and police clashed for a second straight day on Sunday in Hong Kong, sparking further chaos in the city's business and shopping belt and drawing fears of more ugly scenes during the weeklong National Day holiday.

"We will continue to fully and faithfully implement the principles of 'One country, two systems' (and) 'Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong,''' Xi said according to a printed copy of his remarks.

China's approach is to ensure that Hong Kong and its fellow semi-autonomous region of Macao "prosper and progress alongside the mainland and embrace an even brighter future," Xi said.

Earlier Monday, Xi led other top officials in paying respects to the founder of the Communist state, Mao Zedong, ahead of the massive celebrations emphasizing China's rise to global prominence.

The unusual move saw Xi bow three times to Mao's statue at his mausoleum in the center of Beijing's Tiananmen Square and pay his respects to Mao's embalmed corpse, which has lain in state in the hulking chamber since soon after his death in 1976. It was believed to be the first visit to the mausoleum by Xi and other officials since 2013, the 120th anniversary of Mao's birth.

Xi also ascended the nearby Monument to the People's Heroes to pay further tribute on what has been designated Martyr's Day, just ahead of Tuesday's National Day festivities, which will be marked by a massive military parade through the center of the city of 20 million people.

Along with other top party officials, more than 4,000 Chinese, including elderly military veterans and retired senior officials, "relatives of martyrs, honorees of national medals and honorary titles," and members of the party's youth organization visited the monument to lay flowers and wreaths.

Sept. 30 was designated Martyr's Day by China's legislature in 2014, a year after Xi became president and began redoubling propaganda efforts to promote patriotism and glorify the party, as well as to cultivate a cult of personality surrounding himself unseen since the time of Mao.

The nationwide celebrations seek to highlight China's enormous transformation from an impoverished state ravaged by Japan's World War II invasion and a following civil war into the world's second-largest economy. China now sits on the cutting edge of breakthrough technologies such as artificial intelligence and 5G communications and its growing military and diplomatic clout increasingly challenges U.S. leadership.

On Tuesday, Xi is expected to preside from atop iconic Tiananmen Gate over a parade that will display China's rapidly developing arsenal, possibly including the nuclear-capable Dongfeng 41 missile that could reach the United States in 30 minutes. Plans call for 15,000 troops, more than 160 aircraft and 580 pieces of military equipment to take part in the event.

The display of military prowess is seen as a way to underscore Beijing's ambition to enforce claims to self-governing Taiwan, virtually the entire South China Sea and territory held by Japan.

The anniversary comes as China appears more stable than ever, 30 years after the party used its military to crush a pro-democracy movement centered on Tiananmen Square. Xi has revived theatrical expressions of love of party and state that were popular under Mao and has rallied the nation to his call for the attainment of a "Chinese Dream" of global prominence, all while cracking down ruthlessly on any sign of political dissent.

Xi faces no serious political rivals and has brought the party to heel through a wide-ranging anti-corruption drive. Last year, he cemented his role as China's most powerful ruler of the modern era by amending the constitution to remove presidential term limits, sweeping away years of efforts to systematize leadership transitions and prevent the concentration of power in any one individual.

At the same time, Xi faces a slowing economy, an aging population and an ongoing dispute over trade and technology with the U.S. that has restricted China's access to American technology and hit its imports with tariffs. Beijing has responded with duties on American products, and the escalating trade war threatens the global economy.

The protracted unrest in Hong Kong, approaching four months, has meanwhile battered the city's economy, with tourism plunging.

Many people view China as chipping away at the autonomy and freedoms Hong Kong was promised when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, while Beijing has accused the U.S. and other foreign powers of fomenting the unrest in a bid to smear its reputation and weaken its control.

Despite speculation that China may be running out of patience with the protests, Beijing has yet to take radical steps such as sending in military forces to quell unrest.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Xi hailed China's development achievements over the last seven decades, especially its success in largely wiping out absolute poverty. He attributed those successes to the party's leadership and called for absolute unity around the 90 million-member body to write a "more brilliant chapter" toward realizing the "Chinese Dream."

Xi also touched on the issue of Taiwan, which China has vowed to annex by force if necessary.

Taiwan's incorporation into China is "an inevitable trend" and "no one and no force can ever stop it," Xi said.
 


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Jumping the shark? Kiss will play for them in the ocean


Hong Kong police slammed as 'trigger-happy' after teen shot

Boris Johnson: UK is offering Brexit 'compromise' to EU

Prince Harry lashes out at UK press for treatment of Meghan

Report: No-deal Brexit could leave UK with medical shortages


Police shoot protester in Hong Kong day of rage

North Korea: Nuclear talks with US to resume this weekend

Tight security as Catalonia marks secession vote date

'You're good-looking': Ukraine's leader woos Tom Cruise


Chirac gets full military honors as France bids him farewell

Austria's Kurz faces tricky choices to form next government

Saudi crown prince takes responsibility for journalist death

China's Xi renews commitment to Hong Kong amid protests