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Update August, 2019

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Hong Kong descends into chaos again as protesters defy ban

A protester sets fire to a Bank of China branch in Hong Kong, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. Hong Kong protesters again flooded streets on Sunday, ignoring a police ban on the rally and demanding the government meet their demands for accountability and political rights. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

A protester prepares to throw a Molotov cocktail at a police station in Hong Kong, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Police arrive to chase away protestors in Hong Kong, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)


HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong streets descended into chaotic scenes following an unauthorized pro-democracy rally Sunday as protesters set up roadblocks and torched businesses and police responded with tear gas and a water cannon.

Protesters tossed firebombs and took their anger out on shops with mainland Chinese ties as they skirmished late into the evening with riot police, who unleashed numerous tear gas rounds on short notice, angering residents and passers-by.

Police had beefed up security measures ahead of the rally, for which they refused to give permission, the latest chapter in the unrest that has disrupted life in the financial hub since early June.

Some 24 people were hurt and treated at hospitals, including six with serious injuries, the Hospital Authority said.

Police did not give an arrest figure. One person was seen being handcuffed and taken away to a police van.

As the rally march set off, protest leaders carried a black banner that read, "Five main demands, not one less," as they pressed their calls for police accountability and political rights in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Supporters sang the protest movement's anthem, waved colonial and U.S. flags, and held up placards depicting the Chinese flag as a Nazi swastika.

Many protesters wore masks in defiance of a recently introduced ban on face coverings at public gatherings, and volunteers handed more out to the crowd.

Matthew Lee, a university student, said he was determined to keep protesting even after more than four months.

"I can see some people want to give up, but I don't want to do this because Hong Kong is my home, we want to protect this place, protect Hong Kong," he said. "You can't give up because Hong Kong is your home."

Some front-line protesters barricaded streets at multiple locations in Kowloon, where the city's subway operator restricted passenger access.

They tore up stones from the sidewalk and scattered them on the road, commandeered plastic safety barriers and unscrewed metal railings to form makeshift roadblocks.

A water cannon truck and armored car led a column of dozens of police vans up and down Nathan Road, a major artery lined with shops, to spray a stinging blue-dyed liquid as police moved to clear the road of protesters and barricades.

At one point, the water cannon sprayed a handful of people standing outside a mosque. Local broadcaster RTHK reported that the people hit were guarding the mosque and few protesters were nearby. The Hong Kong police force said it was an "unintended impact" of its operation to disperse protesters and later sent a representative to meet the mosque's imam.

As night fell, protesters returned to the streets, setting trash on fire at intersections.

Residents jeered at riot police, cursing at them and telling them to leave. The officers, in turn, warned people that they were part of an illegal assembly and told them to leave, and unleashed tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Along the way, protesters trashed discount grocery shops and a restaurant chain because of what they say is the pro-Beijing ownership of the companies. They also set fire to ATMs and branches of mainland Chinese banks, setting off sprinklers in at least two, as well as a shop selling products from Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi.

The police used a bomb disposal robot to blow up a cardboard box with protruding wires that they suspected was a bomb.

Organizers said ahead of the march that they wanted to use their right to protest as guaranteed by Hong Kong's constitution despite the risk of arrest.

"We're using peaceful, rational, nonviolent ways to voice our demands," Figo Chan, vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, told reporters. "We're not afraid of being arrested. What I'm most scared of is everyone giving up on our principles."

The group has organized some of the movement's biggest protest marches. One of its leaders, Jimmy Sham, was attacked on Wednesday by assailants wielding hammers.

On Saturday, Hong Kong police arrested a 22-year-old man on suspicion of stabbing a teenage activist who was distributing leaflets near a wall plastered with pro-democracy messages. A witness told RTHK that the assailant shouted afterward that Hong Kong is "a part of China" and other pro-Beijing messages.

The protest movement sprang out of opposition to a government proposal for an extradition bill that would have sent suspects to mainland China to stand trial, and then ballooned into broader demands for full democracy and an inquiry into alleged police brutality.

Milan seeks US apology for WWII bomb that killed children

Flowers lie in front of a bronze ossuary monument entitled 'Ecco La Guerra', (Here is War) dedicated to the 'Little Martyrs of Gorla', in memory of a World War II bombing raid on Oct. 20 1944 is pictured in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

MILAN (AP) — Milan's mayor appealed Sunday to U.S. authorities to apologize for a World War II bombing raid that killed 184 elementary school children.

Mayor Giuseppe Sala made the request following a Mass marking the 75th anniversary of the Gorla massacre, named for the quarter in the city that was struck, the news agency ANSA reported.

"I think it's necessary that the American government apologizes, knowing that we are here to forgive," Sala said, adding that he would formalize the request with the U.S. consul in Milan this week.

The air raid on Oct. 20, 1944, targeted an industrial complex near the city, but a second wave of bombers went off course and released their bombs southeast of the target to lighten their loads as they returned to base.

One bomb struck the Francesco Crispi elementary school as children raced for shelter.

"It was a very serious error resulting, as history tells us, from an incredible superficiality and inexperience," Sala said.

Caught up in Trump impeachment, US diplomats fight back

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, arrives on Capitol Hill, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, in Washington, as she is scheduled to testify before congressional lawmakers on Friday as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


WASHINGTON (AP) — Three years of simmering frustration inside the State Department is boiling over on Capitol Hill as a parade of current and former diplomats testify to their concerns about the Trump administration's unorthodox policy toward Ukraine.

Over White House objections, the diplomats are appearing before impeachment investigators looking into President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine and they're recounting stories of possible impropriety, misconduct and mistreatment by their superiors.

To Trump and his allies, the diplomats are evidence of a "deep state" within the government that has been out to get him from the start. But to the employees of a department demoralized by the administration's repeated attempts to slash its budget and staff, cooperating with the inquiry is seen as a moment of catharsis, an opportunity to reassert the foreign policy norms they believe Trump has blown past.

"It's taken a while to understand just how weird the policy process has become but it was inevitable," said Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy. The group wrote a letter last month calling for the administration to support career diplomats and protect them from politicization.

The State Department officials parading through Capitol Hill include high-ranking diplomats with decades of experience serving both Republican and Democratic administrations. Among them: Kurt Volker , who resigned as the administration's special envoy to Ukraine after being named in the whistleblower complaint that jumpstarted the impeachment inquiry.

Others who have testified behind closed doors include Marie Yovanovitch , the former ambassador to Ukraine who was pushed out of the post after a concerted campaign by Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani; Michael McKinley , who resigned after 37 years in the foreign service in part over treatment of Yovanovitch; and Fiona Hill , a National Security Council staffer who worked closely with the former Ukrainian ambassador.

Volker told investigators he did not believe there was anything improper in his dealings in Ukraine. But the others have all spoken of their unease and concern about Trump's approach to Ukraine and their testimony has largely corroborated the whistleblower's complaint, which centered on a July phone call between Trump and Ukraine's leader, as well as Giuliani's dealings in the former Soviet republic.

Yovanovitch, who remains a State Department employee, said she was "incredulous" at being recalled early from her post despite having been told she did nothing wrong. She lamented that her experience is evidence that American diplomats can no longer count on support from their government if they are attacked by foreign interests.

"That basic understanding no longer holds true," she said according to the text of her opening statement to lawmakers. "Today, we see the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within."

McKinley said he was "disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents."

Trump has long cast career government officials as part of the "deep state" out to undermine him, associating the officials' service under Democratic administrations as signs of their political leanings. That's despite the fact that most longtime career officials have served under both Republicans and Democrats.

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, argued last week that the diplomats were disparaging Trump because they were upset that he was imposing his political priorities on their work. He singled out in particular McKinley, who entered the foreign service while Republican Ronald Reagan was in the White House and had served under both presidents of both parties.

"Elections have consequences and foreign policy is going to change from the Obama administration to the Trump administration," Mulvaney said. "And what you're seeing now, I believe, is a group of mostly career bureaucrats who are saying, 'You know what? I don't like President Trump's politics, so I'm going to participate in this witch hunt that they're undertaking on the Hill'."

Former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns called Mulvaney's assertion "offensive."

"For them to be dismissed unfairly and accused of acting out of some political motive I think is just wrong," said Burns, who is now president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"They are demonstrating that they are responsible, decent public servants and that they have an obligation to tell the truth even when it isn't convenient for the administration," he said. "It gives a lie to the deep state caricature. These aren't people plotting behind anyone's back. They are stepping up to do their jobs."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an interview Sunday with ABC's "This Week," joked, "I think Bill Burns must be auditioning to be Elizabeth Warren's secretary of state." Warren, a Massachusetts senator, is a Democratic presidential candidate.

The White House has insisted the administration, including career officials, would not participate in the impeachment investigation. Democrats have compelled the testimony of most of the officials through subpoenas and the State Department has so far not retaliated against those who have appeared.

Neumann, the American Academy of Diplomacy president, urged Pompeo to back up his staff if there are calls for them to be punished.

"So far, Pompeo has failed to show loyalty to the people who work for him," he said. "But, he has another test. Does anything happen to those who testify? If nothing happens, I would give Pompeo credit for having blocked it."

Pompeo has not spoken frequently about the inquiry except to say it is unfair to the people who work for him because they are not allowed to bring State Department lawyers with them to testify.

"My view is that each of us has a solemn responsibility to defend the Constitution and to speak the truth. ... I hope those officers who go to Capitol Hill will speak truthfully, that they'll speak completely," he said Sunday.

Two more diplomats get their turn to talk this week: William Taylor, currently the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for Europe.

Pakistanis hoist miles-long Kashmir flag in solidarity march

People carry a five kilometer, or about three mile, long representation of a Kashmiri flag during a rally to express solidarity with Indian Kashmiris, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. Tensions between Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed countries, has increased since Aug. 5, when India downgraded the autonomy of its side of Kashmir and imposed tighter controls on the area. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A giant Kashmiri flag has been unfurled by thousands of Pakistani demonstrators, stretching five kilometers (three miles) through the streets of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

The solidarity protest is meant to draw attention to Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan region that remains divided between India and Pakistan but is claimed by both in its entirety.

Sunday's demonstration drew around 3,000 people. They chanted slogans in support of Kashmiris facing an ongoing lockdown by India, which stripped the region of its semi-autonomy in early August.

The Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami also organized a pro-Kashmir rally in the garrison city of Abbottabad, which was attended by thousands.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

World's 1st female spacewalking team makes history

In this photo provided by NASA, astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir exit the International Space Station on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The world’s first female spacewalking team is making history high above Earth. This is the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that a woman floated out without a male crewmate. Their job is to fix a broken part of the station’s solar power network. (NASA via AP)

 In this photo released by NASA on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, U.S. astronauts Jessica Meir, left, and Christina Koch pose for a photo in the International Space Station. (NASA via AP)

by Marcia Dunn

Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP) — The world's first female spacewalking team made history high above Earth on Friday, floating out of the International Space Station to fix a broken part of the power network.

As NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir emerged one by one, it marked the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that a woman floated out without a male crewmate.

America's first female spacewalker from 35 years ago, Kathy Sullivan, was delighted. She said it's good to finally have enough women in the astronaut corps and trained for spacewalking for this to happen.

NASA leaders — along with women and others around the world — cheered Koch and Meir on. At the same time, many noted that this will hopefully become routine in the future.

"We've got qualified women running the control, running space centers, commanding the station, commanding spaceships and doing spacewalks," Sullivan told The Associated Press earlier this week. "And golly, gee whiz, every now and then there's more than one woman in the same place."

Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a three-time spacewalker who watched from Mission Control, added: "Hopefully, this will now be considered normal."

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine watched the big event unfold from NASA headquarters in Washington.

"We have the right people doing the right job at the right time," he said. "They are an inspiration to people all over the world including me. And we're very excited to get this mission underway."

NASA originally wanted to conduct an all-female spacewalk last spring, but did not have enough medium-size suits ready to go. Koch and Meir were supposed to install more new batteries in a spacewalk next week, but had to venture out three days earlier to deal with an equipment failure that occurred over the weekend. They need to replace an old battery charger for one of the three new batteries that was installed last week by Koch and Andrew Morgan.

"Jessica and Christina, we are so proud of you. You're going to do great today," Morgan radioed from inside as the women exited the hatch.

Meir, making her spacewalking debut, became the 228th person in the world to conduct a spacewalk and the 15th woman.

It was the fourth spacewalk for Koch, who is seven months into an 11-month mission that will be the longest ever by a woman.

Mexican president defends retreat in face of cartel violence

Smoke from burning cars rises due in Culiacan, Mexico, Thursday, Oct. 17. An intense gunfight with heavy weapons and burning vehicles blocking roads raged in the capital of Mexico’s Sinaloa state Thursday after security forces located one of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s sons who is wanted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges. (AP Photo/Hector Parra)

In this Feb. 22, 2014 file photo, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the head of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, is escorted to a helicopter in Mexico City following his capture in the beach resort town of Mazatlan, Mexico. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

People take cover during a shoutout in Culiacan, Mexico, Thursday, Oct. 17. (AP Photo/Augusto Zurita)

A car's rearview window is pierced with bullet holes amid a gunfight in Culiacan, Mexico, Thursday, Oct. 17. (AP Photo/Hector Parra)

 Unidentified gunmen block a street in Culiacan, Mexico, Thursday, Oct. 17. (AP Photo/Augusto Zurita)

by Andrés Villarreal & María Verza

Culiacan, Mexico (AP) — Mexican authorities say they backed off an attempt to capture a son of drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman after cartel gunmen unleashed a gunfight with heavy weapons and burning vehicles that paralyzed the capital of Mexico's Sinaloa state — apparently outgunning lawmen.

Twenty-one people were wounded, state public security secretary Cristóbal Castañeda said late Thursday, and 27 inmates escaped a prison.

Mexican security secretary Alfonso Durazo said 30 members of the National Guard and army were patrolling in Culiacan when they were fired on from a house Thursday. They repelled the attack and inside the house found Ovidio Guzmán López, son of the convicted Sinaloa cartel boss.

The house was then surrounded by heavily armed gunmen who had "a greater force" and authorities decided to suspend the operation, Durazo said. He did not say if Ovidio Guzmán had been arrested or went free, but Durazo told Televisa late at night that security forces entered the house but left without him.

"With the goal of safeguarding the well-being and tranquility of Culiacan society, officials in the security cabinet decided to suspend the actions," Durazo said.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Friday that he backed the decisions of his security officials, and added that the army operation was based on an arrest warrant.

"The capture of one criminal cannot be worth more than the lives of people," López Obrador said, calling the response to the operation "very violent" and saying many lives were put at risk.

"This decision was made to protect citizens. ... You cannot fight fire with fire," he added. "We do not want deaths. We do not want war."

José Luis González Meza, a lawyer for "El Chapo's" family, told The Associated Press that Guzmán's family has said "Ovidio is alive and free" but that he had no more details about what had happened.

Ovidio was not one of the jailed Mexican drug lord's best-known sons — Iván Archivaldo Guzmán and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán are known as "los Chapitos," or "the little Chapos," and are believed to currently run their father's Sinaloa Cartel together with Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada.

But Ovidio Guzmán was indicted in 2018 by a grand jury in Washington, along with a fourth brother, for the alleged trafficking of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

Following Thursday's localization of Ovidio Guzmán, Culiacan exploded in violence with armed civilians in trucks roaring through the city's center shooting what appeared to be .50-caliber sniper rifles and machine guns.

Videos published on social media showed a scene resembling a war zone, with gunmen, some wearing black ski masks over their faces, riding in the back of trucks firing mounted machine guns as vehicles burned. People could be seen running for cover as machine gun fire rattled around them. Drivers drove in reverse frantically to get away from the clashes.

"Nothing is working," said Ricardo González, a worker in the state's congress who shut himself up in his house after picking up his 15-year-old son from school. "There is a psychosis. No one knows what is going on but everyone is afraid and they have told us to not come in to work tomorrow."

Sinaloa public safety director Cristóbal Castañeda told Milenio television that there were people wounded but did not provide a casualty figure. He did not rule out that there were deaths.

Castañeda said gunmen blocked streets with burning vehicles, a common tactic to make it difficult for security forces to maneuver. Simultaneously, some 20 to 30 prisoners escaped though some were quickly recaptured, he said.

State officials asked residents to avoid going out in parts of city.

Sinaloa's soccer club Dorados announced that it had cancelled its game Thursday due to security concerns.

Gov. Quirino Ordaz confirmed that school classes had been suspended but that businesses would open on Friday.

González, however, doubted this.

"There is no public transportation, no taxis, people outside the city remain blocked outside and tomorrow will be the same," he said, adding that Culiacan had not seen such a scene for almost a decade, when the Sinaloa Cartel was experiencing an internal war.

Sinaloa is home to the cartel by the same name, which was led by "El Chapo" Guzmán. Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison in the United States in July. He has many children.

After Guzmán's third arrest in 2016, an internal battle for succession began playing out. The battle was resolved with the arrest of Damaso López Nunez and his son Dámaso López Serrano, who led a rival faction.

Maria Verza reported from Mexico City.

Lebanon paralyzed by nationwide protests over proposed taxes

Lebanese riot police fire tear gas during a protest against government's plans to impose new taxes in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Lebanon erupted in protests Thursday over the government's plans to impose new taxes amid a severe economic crisis, taking their anger on politicians they accuse of widespread corruption and decades of mismanagement. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Anti-government protesters set fire to tires to block a road during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 18. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

An anti-government protester makes victory sign, as he holds a Lebanese national flag and walks amid the fire of tires that sits to block a road during a protest against government's plans to impose new taxes in Beirut. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

by Zeina Karam

Beirut (AP) — Nationwide protests paralyzed Lebanon on Friday as demonstrators blocked major roads in a second day of rallies against the government's handling of a severe economic crisis and the entire country's political class.

The protests were the largest since 2015 and could further destabilize a country whose economy is already on the verge of collapse and with one of the highest debt loads in the world.

The protests could plunge Lebanon into a political crisis with unpredictable repercussions for the economy, which has been in steady decline for the past few years. Some of the protesters said they would stay in the streets until the government resigns.

Time and again, the protesters shouted "Revolution!" and "The people want to bring down the regime," echoing a refrain chanted by demonstrators during Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region in 2011.

"We are here today to ask for our rights. The country is corrupt, the garbage is all over the streets and we are fed up with all this," said Loris Obeid, a protester in downtown Beirut.

Schools, banks and businesses shut down as the protests escalated and widened in scope to reach almost every city and province. Hundreds of people burned tires on highways and intersections in suburbs of the capital, Beirut, and in northern and southern cities, sending up clouds of black smoke in scattered protests. The road to Beirut's international airport was blocked by protesters, stranding passengers who in some cases were seen dragging suitcases on foot to reach the airport.

"We are here for the future of our kids. There's no future for us, no jobs at all and this is not acceptable any more. We have shut up for a long time and now it is time to talk," Obeid added.

The tension has been building for months, as the government searched for new ways to levy taxes to manage the country's economic crisis and soaring debt.

The trigger, in the end, was the news Thursday that the government was planning, among other measures, to impose a tax on Whatsapp calls — a decision it later withdrew as people began taking to the streets.

In some cases the demonstrations evolved into riots, as protesters set fire to buildings and smashed window fronts, taking their anger out on politicians they accuse of corruption and decades of mismanagement.

Two Syrian workers died Thursday when they were trapped in a shop that was set on fire by rioters. Dozens of people were injured.

Some protesters threw stones, shoes and water bottles at security forces and scuffled with police. Security forces said at least 60 of its members were injured in the clashes. Protesters were also injured.

The government is discussing the 2020 budget, and new taxes have been proposed, including on tobacco, gasoline and some social media communication software such as WhatsApp.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri canceled a cabinet meeting scheduled for Friday to resume discussions. He was expected to address the nation later in the day.

Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan insisted Hariri would not resign, saying that could spark a national crisis more dangerous than the current economic crisis.

Years of regional turmoil — worsened by an influx of 1.5 million Syrian refugees since 2011 — are catching up with Lebanon. The small Arab country on the Mediterranean has the third-highest debt level in the world, currently standing at about $86 billion, or 150% of its gross domestic product.

International donors have been demanding that Lebanon implement economic changes in order to get loans and grants pledged at the CEDRE economic conference in Paris in April 2018. International donors pledged $11 billion for Lebanon but they sought to ensure the money is well spent in the corruption-plagued country.

Despite tens of billions of dollars spent since the 15-year civil war ended in 1990, Lebanon still has crumbling infrastructure including daily electricity cuts, trash piles in the streets and often sporadic, limited water supplies from the state-owned water company.

Associated Press writers Fadi Tawil, Hassan Ammar and Bassam Hatoum in Beirut contributed reporting.

Pakistan avoids terror financing blacklist - for now

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) President Xiangmin Liu speaks during a media conference at the OECD headquarters in Paris, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. FATF an international monitoring agency has given Pakistan four months to prove it is fighting terrorism financing and money laundering or it could be put on a damaging global blacklist. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

by Angela Charlton & Asim Taveer

Paris (AP) — An international monitoring agency has given Pakistan four months to prove it is fighting terrorism financing and money laundering — or it could be put on a damaging global blacklist.

The Financial Action Task Force also threatened Iran, which is already blacklisted, with even tougher restrictions on its international financial activity.

Pakistan's government on Friday hailed the FATF's decision, which offers a reprieve to Prime Minister Imran Khan as he works to shore up his country's faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans.

"Thank God, we have been successful," Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, told The Associated Press.

But the agency's assessment remained grim, expressing "serious concerns with the overall lack of progress by Pakistan" to stop terrorism financing.

In a statement after meetings this week at its Paris headquarters, the FATF said Pakistan has addressed only five of 27 measures required to avoid being blacklisted.

If Pakistan doesn't act by February, FATF president Xiangmin Lui said the agency could put the country on its blacklist, which currently includes only Iran and North Korea.

Experts say the move means every international financial transaction with Pakistan will be closely scrutinized and doing business in Pakistan will become costly and cumbersome. International agencies could place restrictions on lending money to Pakistan, including key creditors such as the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

"Pakistan has not done enough," Xiangmin told a news conference.

Pakistan should do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism financiers, among other steps, the FATF said.

Qureshi insisted that Pakistan has "taken maximum steps against terror financing."

"We will continue to take all the required steps, and all conspiracies against us have failed," he told The AP.

Meanwhile, the watchdog expressed "disappointment" that Iran isn't taking the necessary steps to be removed from the blacklist, and said it's asking all member countries to tighten scrutiny of any financial transactions involving Iran.

Virtual currencies such as bitcoin and Facebook's Libra are also prompting concern from the FATF, which warned of "new risks" from such products. It said they're being "closely monitored" to ensure they're not used to finance terrorism or launder money.

Taveer reported from Islamabad. Kathy Gannon and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad also contributed.

UK, EU reach tentative Brexit deal; still needs ratification

Britain's Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, from left, pose for a photo during a press point at EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Britain and the European Union reached a new tentative Brexit deal on Thursday, hoping to finally escape the acrimony, divisions and frustration of their three-year divorce battle. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

by Raf Casert & Jill Lawless

Brussels (AP) — Britain and the European Union finally reached a new tentative Brexit deal on Thursday, hoping to escape the acrimony, divisions and frustration of their three-year divorce battle. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson now faces the Herculean task of selling the accord to his recalcitrant parliament — including his allies in Northern Ireland.

Only hours before Brussels hosted a summit of the bloc's 28 national leaders, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted: "We have one! It's a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions."

Johnson tweeted that the two sides had struck a "great new deal" and urged U.K. lawmakers to ratify it in a special session being held Saturday — only the first time since 1982 that British lawmakers have been at work on that day.

"This is a deal which allows us to get Brexit done and leave the EU in two weeks' time," Johnson tweeted.

The pound hit a five-month high against the U.S. dollar on the news.

Yet immediately complicating matters was Johnson's Northern Irish government allies, which didn't waste a minute before announcing they could not back the tentative Brexit deal because of the way it handled the Irish border.

Johnson, however, needs all the support he can get to push any Brexit deal past a deeply divided Parliament and that knowledge tempered jubilation at the EU summit. The U.K. Parliament already rejected a previous Brexit deal crafted by former British Prime Minister Theresa May three times.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has been through this scenario before.

"We have this history. That is why my mountaineering temperament keeps me careful and cautious," said Barnier, who hails from the French Alps and organized the 1992 Olympic Winter Games there.

Barnier was in the room when the leaders called each other and said Johnson "told President Juncker this morning that he believed he was able to get the deal approved," adding Johnson said he was "confident about his capacity to convince a majority."

The agreement must still be formally approved by the bloc and ratified by the European Parliament.

The key hurdle to a Brexit deal was finding a way to keep goods and people flowing freely across the border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland after Brexit. That invisible, open border has underpinned the region's peace accord and allowed the economies of both Ireland and Northern Ireland to grow.

Johnson insists that all of the U.K. — including Northern Ireland — must leave the bloc's customs union, which would seem to make border checks and tariffs inevitable.

But Barnier said the deal "squares this circle" by leaving Northern Ireland inside the EU single market for goods — so border checks are not needed — and also eliminating customs checks at the Irish border. Instead, customs checks will be carried out and tariffs levied on goods entering Northern Ireland that are destined for the EU.

That effectively means a customs border in the Irish Sea — something the British government long said it would not allow and something Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party vehemently opposes.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and the party's parliamentary chief Nigel Dodds said they "could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues," referring to a say the Northern Irish authorities might have in future developments on the border.

The party said their position was unchanged after the announcement of the provisional deal.

But the EU has compromised, too, by allowing Northern Ireland special access to its single market. And the deal gives Northern Ireland a say over the rules, something that was missing from May's previous rejected agreement. After four years, the Northern Ireland Assembly will vote on whether to continue the arrangement or end it.

Johnson — who took office in July vowing that Britain would finally leave the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal — on Wednesday likened Brexit to climbing Mount Everest.

Legislator Bim Afolami quoted the prime minister as saying "the summit is in sight, but it is shrouded in cloud. But we can get there."

Lorne Cook and Sam Petrequin contributed from Brussels and Mike Corder from London

US delegation seeking a cease-fire with Turkey and Kurds

Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, as they depart en route to Turkey. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

by Zeke Miller & Robert Burns

Ankara, Turkey (AP) — A senior U.S. delegation faces the herculean task of pressuring Turkey to accept a cease-fire in Northern Syria, hours after President Donald Trump declared the U.S. has no stake in defending Kurdish fighters who died by the thousands as America's partners against Islamic State extremists.

Vice President Mike Pence, heading a U.S. delegation that includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien, arrived in Turkey on Thursday, a day after Trump dismissed the very crisis he sent his aides on an emergency mission to douse.

Trump suggested Wednesday that a Kurdish group was a greater terror threat than the Islamic State group, and he welcomed the efforts of Russia and the Assad government to fill the void left after he ordered the removal of nearly all U.S. troops from Syria amid a Turkish assault on the Kurds.

"Syria may have some help with Russia, and that's fine," Trump said. "They've got a lot of sand over there. So, there's a lot of sand that they can play with."

He added: "Let them fight their own wars."

The split-screen foreign policy moment proved difficult to reconcile and came during perhaps the darkest moment for the modern U.S.-Turkey relationship and a time of trial for Trump and his Republican Party allies. Severe condemnation of Trump's failure to deter Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's assault on the Kurds, and his subsequent embrace of Turkish talking points about the former U.S. allies, sparked bipartisan outrage in the U.S. and calls for swift punishment for the NATO ally.

Republicans and Democrats in the House, bitterly divided over the Trump impeachment inquiry, banded together for an overwhelming 354-60 denunciation of the U.S. troop withdrawal. Many lawmakers expressed worry that the withdrawal may lead to revival of the Islamic State group as well as Russian presence and influence in the area, besides the slaughter of many Kurds.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., publicly broke with Trump to call the U.S. relationship with the Kurds "a great alliance."

"I'm sorry that we are where we are. I hope the vice president and the secretary of state can somehow repair the damage," McConnell said Wednesday.

Even among top administration officials, there were concerns that the trip lacked achievable goals and had been undermined by Trump even before it began. While Erdogan faces global condemnation for the invasion, he also sees renewed nationalistic fervor at home, and any pathway to de-escalation likely would need to delicately avoid embarrassing Erdogan domestically. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal thinking.

The White House disclosed that Trump had both cajoled and threatened Erdogan in an unusual letter last week, urging him to act only in "the right and humane way" in Syria. The letter was sent the day Erdogan launched the major offensive against the Kurds.

Trump started on a positive note by suggesting they "work out a good deal," but then talked about crippling economic sanctions and concluded that the world "will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!"

Trump did place some sanctions on Turkey for the offensive. But he appeared to undercut his delegation's negotiating stance, saying the U.S. has no business in the region — and not to worry about the Kurdish fighters.

"If Turkey goes onto Syria, that's between Turkey and Syria, it's not between Turkey and the United States," Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

As he seeks to push Erdogan to agree to a cease-fire, Pence will confront doubts about American credibility and his own, as an emissary of an inconsistent president.

"Given how erratic President Trump's decision-making process and style has been, it's just hard to imagine any country on the receiving end of another interlocutor really being confident that what Pence and Pompeo are delivering reflects Trump's thinking at the moment or what it will be in the future," said Jeffrey Prescott, the Obama administration's senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf states on the National Security Council and a former deputy national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden.

The withdrawal is the worst decision of Trump's presidency, said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who meets often with the president and is one of his strongest and most important supporters in Congress.

"To those who think the Mideast doesn't matter to America, remember 9/11 — we had that same attitude on 9/10/2001," Graham said

Even before Trump's comments, Erdogan had publicly stated that he will be undeterred by the sanctions and resisted calls for a cease-fire Wednesday, saying the fighting would end only if Kurdish fighters abandoned their weapons and retreated from positions near the Turkish border. If Pence can persuade Turkey to agree to a cease-fire, which few U.S. officials believed was likely, experts warn it will not erase the signal Trump's action sent to American allies across the globe or the opening already being exploited by Russia in the region.

"Deterring an action that hasn't yet been taken is almost always easier than trying to coerce someone to reverse an action that they've already committed blood, treasure and honor to," said John Hannah, former national security adviser for former Vice President Dick Cheney and a senior counselor for Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

In public appearances, Trump said he was fulfilling a campaign promise to bring U.S. troops home from "endless wars" in the Middle East — casting aside criticism that a sudden U.S. withdrawal from Syria betrays the Kurdish fighters, stains U.S. credibility around the world and opens an important region to Russia.

"We have a situation where Turkey is taking land from Syria. Syria's not happy about it. Let them work it out," Trump said. "They have a problem at a border. It's not our border. We shouldn't be losing lives over it."

Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters launched their offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria a week ago, two days after Trump suddenly announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from the area. Erdogan has said he wants to create a "safe zone" 30 kilometers (20 miles) deep in Syria.

Ankara has long argued the Kurdish fighters are nothing more than an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has waged a guerrilla campaign inside Turkey since the 1980s and which Turkey, as well as the U.S. and European Union, designate as a terrorist organization.

Burns reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Darlene Superville, Jill Colvin, Kevin Freking and Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this report.

Former Nazi SS guard, 93, goes on trial in Hamburg

The 93-year-old former SS guard in the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig, Bruno Dey is sitting in the regional court in Hamburg, Germany, Oct. 17, 2019. The prosecution accuses the 93-year-old man of aiding and abetting the murder of 5230 people. The defendant was only 17 or 18 years old at the time of the crime. That's why the trial takes place in front of a juvenile delinquency chamber. About 25 survivors of the concentration camp appear as joint plaintiffs. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP)

by David Rising

Hamburg, Germany (AP) — From his post as a teenage SS private in a watchtower in Nazi Germany's Stutthof concentration camp, Bruno Dey could hear the screams of Jews dying in the gas chamber. And, Dey later told investigators, the carting of their lifeless bodies to the camp's crematorium was a daily sight.

More than seven decades later, Dey went on trial Thursday on 5,230 counts of accessory to murder in Hamburg state court. Pushed into the courtroom in a wheelchair, accompanied by one of his daughters, the 93-year-old wore a wide-brimmed hat and held a red folder in front of his face to shield it from the cameras.

After they had gone, he dropped the cover to reveal a full head of neatly combed white hair and a mustache. He answered basic questions from Presiding Judge Anne Meier-Goering, such as his date and place of birth.

As prosecutor Lars Mahnke then detailed how Jews were gassed, shot and starved to death as part of the "systematic killing" in the camp where he stood guard 75 years ago, he showed little expression but appeared to be listening attentively.

While there is no evidence of Dey's direct involvement in a killing in Stutthof, prosecutors argue that as a camp guard from August 1944 to April 1945 he aided in all the killings that took place during that period as a "small wheel in the machinery of murder."

"The accused was no ardent worshipper of Nazi ideology," prosecutors argue in the indictment. "But there is also no doubt that he never actively challenged the persecutions of the Nazi regime."

Dey, a baker by training, does not deny being a guard at Stutthof. He gave wide-ranging statements to investigators about his service, saying that he was deemed unfit for combat in the regular army in 1944 at age 17, so was drafted into an SS guard detachment and sent to Stutthof, not far from his hometown near Danzig, which is today the Polish city of Gdansk.

In deference to his age, trial sessions are being limited to two hours a day, and are scheduled to be held only twice a week.

Because Dey was 17 when he started serving at Stutthof, he is being tried in juvenile court and faces a possible six months to 10 years in prison if convicted. In Germany there are no consecutive sentences.

Dey's attorney, Stefan Waterkamp, questioned why his client was being prosecuted now, saying that before a recent change in German legal reasoning, "nobody was interested in the simple guards."

"Where does responsibility end?" he asked the court in his opening statement. "That is the question this trial must answer."

In recent years, prosecutors have successfully convicted former death camp guards using the argument that by helping to operate camps like Auschwitz and Sobibor, they were accessories to the murders there.

The 2015 conviction of former Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening on such reasoning was upheld by a German federal court, solidifying the precedent.

In Dey's case, the reasoning is being applied to a concentration camp rather than a death camp. Prosecutors have expressed confidence it still pertains, since tens of thousands of people were killed in Stutthof even though — unlike at the death camps — the site's sole purpose wasn't murder.

Even in concentration camps, "it was almost a certain death sentence," said Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem who attended the opening of the trial.

Zuroff, who helped locate nearly two dozen Stutthof survivors for the case, rejected Waterkamp's suggestion that Dey should not be prosecuted because higher-ranking Nazis were never brought to trial.

"Just because more senior criminals got away with a crime doesn't mean that the more minor criminals are not guilty," he said.

Stutthof was established by Nazi Germany in 1939 east of Danzig and was initially used as the main collection point for Jews and non-Jewish Poles removed from the city.

From about 1940, it was used as a so-called "work education camp" where forced laborers, primarily Polish and Soviet citizens, were sent to serve sentences and often died. Others incarcerated there included criminals, political prisoners, homosexuals and Jehovah's Witnesses.

From mid-1944, when Dey was posted there, it was filled with tens of thousands of Jews from ghettos being cleared by the Nazis in the Baltics as well as from Auschwitz, and thousands of Polish civilians swept up in the brutal suppression of the Warsaw uprising.

In the end, more than 60,000 people were killed there by being given lethal injections of gasoline or phenol directly to their hearts, shot or starved. Others were forced outside in winter without clothes until they died of exposure, or were put to death in a gas chamber.

About three dozen survivors and their relatives have joined the trial as co-plaintiffs, as allowed under German law, including New York filmmaker Ben Cohen, whose grandmother survived Stutthof but whose great-grandmother died in the camp's gas chamber during the time Dey served as a camp guard.

Attending the opening, Cohen said there could never be full justice for his family, but just the fact that German authorities are pursuing the case is an important signal.

He said his grandmother, Judy Meisel, who was taken to Stutthof at age 15, hoped Dey would testify to help shine some light on how something like the Holocaust could occur. Meisel, 90, now lives in Minneapolis and will not be able to attend the trial herself, Cohen said.

"These were people who were convinced they should murder every Jew. How does a person do that?" Cohen said. "We don't hold him accountable for everything that happened at Stutthof but he could do a lot by talking about what went on there as a guard."

Dey himself told prosecutors his SS comrades talked of the "extermination of the Jews" and said he had "done people wrong" by serving there.

"I did not know why they were there," Dey told prosecutors. "I knew well that they were Jews who had committed no crime, that they were only there because they were Jews. And they have the same right to live and to work like any other person. But it was just that Hitler or his party ... had something against the Jews."

Riots darken Catalan separatist dream of peaceful secession

A car catches fire next to a burning barricade during clashes between protestors and police in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Spain's government said Wednesday it would do whatever it takes to stamp out violence in Catalonia, where clashes between regional independence supporters and police have injured more than 200 people in two days. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Protestors make barricades in the street during clashes with police in Barcelona. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Policemen run as a police van drives over a burning barricade during clashes between protestors and police. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

 Firefighters try to put out fires on the street in Barcelona, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

by Aritz Parra

Madrid (AP) — Catalonia's separatist leader vowed Thursday to hold a new vote to secede from Spain in less than two years as the embattled northeastern region grapples with a wave of violence that has tarnished a movement proud of its peaceful activism.

"We can't remain in this cage that keeps adding bars," Quim Torra told lawmakers. "If we have been condemned to 100 years in prison for putting out the ballot boxes, the response is clear: we'll have to put the ballot boxes out again for self-determination."

Lengthy prison sentences and fines for a dozen leaders that Spain's Supreme Court blames for orchestrating the wealthy region's latest drive for independence have led this week to some of the darkest episodes in a decade of swelling separatist sentiment.

Riots have made central areas of Barcelona, a leading European tourist destination, a no-go zone. On Thursday, cleaning brigades worked to clear charred cars and hundreds of burned trash bins used as improvised barricades from the streets of the regional capital, where confrontations between rioting youths and police the night before led to scenes of panic.

Authorities said 80 people were injured, including 46 police officers, and that 33 people were arrested amid destruction and fires that raged also in other Catalan towns.

Police said the protesters hurled gasoline bombs, stones, firecrackers and bottles at them. Fireworks hit a police helicopter, although no major damage was caused. Regional and national police responded with foam bullets and batons.

Authorities also said that a 17-year-old was recovering from a head injury after online footage showed how he had been caught in front of a trash container that was charged by a speeding police van in the city of Tarragona.

The rioting has put the spotlight again on the self-appointed Committees for the Defense of the Republic, or CDRs, and a new shadowy, leaderless online platform, Tsunami Democratic, that uses encrypted messaging apps to advocate for "peaceful civil disobedience."

The groups, often following the blueprints of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and elsewhere, have become popular among technology-savvy young Catalans since the October 2017 banned referendum that eventually led to the separatist leaders' convictions. That vote was held amid heavy violence from police toward voters refusing to move from polling stations.

Spain has cracked down on the CDRs, jailing some members as it probes them for possible terrorism offenses, while Spain's Interior Minister said Wednesday that its investigation is close to finding out who is behind the Tsunami Democratic.

The new approach has overshadowed the traditional demonstrations that for years had been overwhelmingly peaceful, often organized by ANC and Omnium, two pro-independence civil society groups long rooted in Catalan society.

Under fire for holding back over rejecting the street violence, Torra appeared on television late on Wednesday, blaming the rioting on provocateurs.

On Thursday, at the regional parliament, he used stronger words to reject the riots, specifying that he was against violence coming from "everywhere," including police.

Torra also called the conviction of a dozen fellow separatists "the biggest blow to democracy" in the four decades following Gen. Francisco Franco's regime, and said the sentence was a reason to hold a new vote on independence before his term ends in 2021.

Spain's post-dictatorship 1978 Constitution states that the country's territorial unity is indivisible, and courts have banned previous attempts to hold referendums.

Pedro Sánchez, Spain's Socialist leader who is facing a Nov. 10 election, has blamed "organized groups of extremists" for the rioting in Catalonia, but has ruled out taking drastic measures, despite calls by rival parties to do so. On Thursday he was presiding over a meeting with intelligence officials and security experts to analyze the situation in the northeastern region.

New road and railway blockades were in place on Thursday, including on a main highway leading to France.

Thousands of people have also been marching peacefully since Wednesday toward the regional capital, Barcelona. Students are on strike, and trade unions are planning to join them on Friday.

Brexit ignites fears of renewed violence in Northern Ireland


In this photo dated Monday Oct. 14, 2019 a man walks past an Irish Republican mural depicting scenes of the Battle of the Bogside area of Derry in August 1969. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Danica Kirka

Belfast, Northern Ireland (AP) — Kate Nash says the time known as "The Troubles" never really ended in Northern Ireland.

While the 1998 Good Friday Agreement brought an era of relative peace and prosperity to the U.K. region, paramilitary groups still exist and lower levels of violence continue to plague the community, says the 70-year-old grandmother who lost a brother in the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre.

Brexit may cause the smoldering conflict to flare up once again, she fears, especially if there are renewed customs and passport controls along the now-invisible border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland after Britain leaves the European Union.

"If they're going to man the border ... that's really something that will start violence again," she said. "They'll be targets, you know, for the IRA or whoever."

Fears about a return to the violence that killed more than 3,500 people over three decades have made Northern Ireland the biggest hurdle for U.K. and EU officials who are trying to hammer out a Brexit divorce deal. Besides securing the Irish border from fraud and smuggling, they must tiptoe around anything that will inflame the tensions between those who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the U.K. and those who want it to be reunited with the Republic of Ireland.

"Brexit has been the greatest existential threat to the peace process in 25 years," said Eamon Phoenix, a historian at Queen's University Belfast. "The island of Ireland has enjoyed really unbroken peace for 25 years after violence in which 3,500 people died ... and suddenly in the last three years, we have the risk to all that."

The EU underpinned the Good Friday peace deal, negotiated with the help of the U.S., because both Britain and Ireland were members of the bloc. That meant people and goods could flow freely across the frontier and allowed authorities to tear down the hated border posts that were once a flashpoint for violence.

Over the past 20 years, the Irish land border has vanished, marked only by changing speed limits and signs targeted by vandals who obscure the word "Northern" with spray paint.

Yet after Brexit — which U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to happen on Oct. 31 — the Irish land border will become an external EU border. Negotiators are struggling to find a way to regulate trade without rebuilding checkpoints and destroying the cross-border links that have spurred economic growth on both sides.

The conflict was born almost a century ago when the Republic of Ireland, dominated by Catholics, won its independence but Northern Ireland, which had a Protestant majority, remained part of the U.K. In the 1960s, divisions over whether Northern Ireland should be part of Britain or Ireland flared into what became known as The Troubles.

The Good Friday peace deal, which includes a power-sharing unity government in Northern Ireland, let people identify as British or Irish or both regardless of where they lived, Phoenix said, allowing them to cooperate and put aside long-held political aspirations.

But Brexit, driven by English voters, has hardened those divisions. While 52% of U.K. voters backed leaving the EU in the 2016 referendum, a majority in Northern Ireland — 56% — voted to remain in the bloc. Phoenix says the Brexit vote unleashed a political Pandora's box.

"Suddenly those aspirations have been sort of prioritized," Phoenix said. "And that is a factor that is leading to instability."

While the peace deal ended daily mayhem, it didn't bring about reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Communities remain divided, and so-called "peace walls" that sometimes glorify gun-wielding masked men are a backdrop of daily life.

On West Belfast's Shankill Road, the Union flag bunting crisscrosses the working-class neighborhood. Murals celebrate loyalist paramilitary fighters, with one proclaiming "We seek nothing but the elementary right implanted in every man: The right if you are attacked to defend yourself."

People here are worried that Johnson will sacrifice their interests in hopes of securing a Brexit deal and say anything that treats Northern Ireland differently than the rest of the U.K. is unacceptable.

"There would be an organic explosion of anger and people would take to the streets. And obviously any sensible person would be urging people ... to do so peacefully," said Jamie Bryson, editor of the Unionist Voice. "But we all have to live in the real world and know that once mass amounts of people take to the streets, and once something happens and that genie gets out of the bottle, it's going to be difficult to put it back in."

Others think the genie has already escaped.

Jack Duffin leans on a walking stick as he leads guided tours through the still battle-scarred neighborhoods of Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. A former member of the Irish Republican Army, Duffin still wants to reunite the island of Ireland and thinks Brexit may help achieve that goal.

"We have been trying to put the border to the forefront of the international community for years," Duffin said. "Brexit has done that for us."

Some didn't need Brexit to be reminded of these long-standing issues. In her lap, Kate Nash cradled a picture of her late brother Willy, a tall, lanky 19-year-old leaning against a wall, guitar in his lap.

"He used to strum," his sister says, thinking of 1972, when Willy played a Marty Robbins album nightly.

"You know 'Out in the West Texas town of El Paso’," she said, breaking into a tune.

Her brother, a dock worker, went to a demonstration near his home in Londonderry on Jan. 30, 1972, because it was a local happening — not because he was involved with the IRA. Thousands had gathered to protest internment, but things went badly wrong. British soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians, killing 13.

William Nash was shot dead in the chest near a barricade. His father saw him and went to help, only to end up being shot himself. The father lived, but his wife never forgave him for their son's death.

Kate Nash received some solace in the official inquiry that found the British soldiers had opened fire without justification at unarmed civilians and then lied about it for decades.

"The pain of it never really goes away," she said. "You know only the injustice of it."

Kim rides horse on sacred peak, vows to fight US sanctions

 In this undated photo provided on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rides a white horse to climb Mount Paektu, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

by Hyung-Jin Kim

Seoul, South Korea (AP) — North Korea released a series of photos Wednesday showing leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse to a sacred mountain he has often climbed before making key decisions. Near the mountain, Kim reportedly vowed to overcome U.S.-led sanctions that he said had both pained and infuriated his people.

The images and Kim's rhetoric appeared aimed at bolstering his leadership at home as the North tries to pressure the United States into making concessions in nuclear diplomacy.

The photos showed a bespectacled Kim wearing a long, light-brown coat and riding on horseback up snow-covered Mount Paektu. The mountain, the highest point on the Korean Peninsula, is sacred to North Koreans, and both it and the white horse are symbols associated with the Kim family's dynastic rule.

Kim previously visited Mount Paektu before executing his powerful uncle in 2013 and entering into diplomacy with South Korea and the U.S. in 2018.

The photos were released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA, days after North Korea's first nuclear talks with the U.S. in more than seven months fell apart.

South Korean media quickly speculated that Kim may be considering a new strategy in his dealings with the U.S. because he's previously demanded that Washington come up with new proposals to salvage the stalemated diplomacy by the end of December.

"He, sitting on the horseback atop Mt Paektu, recollected with deep emotion the road of arduous struggle he covered for the great cause of building the most powerful country with faith and will as firm as Mt Paektu," KCNA said.

North Korean documents say Kim's grandfather and national founder Kim Il Sung had an anti-Japan guerrilla base on Paektu's slopes during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. The official biography of Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il, says the second-generation leader was born on Paektu when a double rainbow filled the skies.

The white horse is also a propaganda symbol for the Kim family, which has ruled North Korea for seven decades with a strong personality cult surrounding family members. State media have occasionally shown Kim, his sister and his father riding white horses. The symbolism goes back to Kim Il Sung, who according to the North's official narrative rode a white horse while fighting Japanese colonial rulers.

There have been other horse-riding leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was photographed riding a horse bare-chested, and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, who took part in horse races and erected a massive monument featuring his likeness atop a golden horse.

KCNA said Kim also visited nearby construction sites in Samjiyon County and complained about U.S.-led U.N. sanctions imposed on his country because of its nuclear and missile programs.

"The situation of the country is difficult owing to the ceaseless sanctions and pressure by the hostile forces and there are many hardships and trials facing us," Kim was quoted as saying. "But our people grew stronger through the trials and found their own way of development and learned how to always win in the face of trials."

Kim also said "the pain the U.S.-led anti-(North Korea) hostile forces inflicted upon the Korean people ... turned into their anger," according to KCNA. "No matter what persistent efforts the enemy make, we can live well with our own efforts and pave the avenue to development and prosperity in our own way."

North Korea has been slapped with 11 rounds of sanctions since 2006. The sanctions have been toughened since 2016, when Kim began conducting a series of high-profile nuclear and missile tests, and they include a full ban on key exports such as coal, textiles and seafood and a significant curtailing of oil imports.

During his second summit with President Donald Trump in Vietnam in February, Kim demanded the United States lift the newer and more biting sanctions in return for dismantling his main nuclear complex, a limited denuclearization step. Trump rejected that, and the summit collapsed without reaching any deal. The two leaders held a brief, impromptu meeting at the Korean border in late June and agreed to resume talks.

Their negotiators met in Sweden earlier this month for the first time since the Vietnam summit, but the talks broke down again. North Korea blamed the U.S. for the breakdown and threatened to resume nuclear and long-range missile tests.

North Korea's lifting of its self-imposed moratorium on major weapons tests would be a blow to Trump's reelection campaign, as the president has boasted that the moratorium is a big foreign policy achievement.

Some experts say North Korea is not likely to carry out its threat to restart nuclear and long-range missile tests because that could scuttle diplomacy with Trump and dim the chances of winning sanctions relief.

Trump has downplayed the significance of North Korea's recent series of short-range missile tests. But the European members of the U.N. Security Council earlier this month urged Pyongyang to abandon all weapons of mass destruction and engage in "meaningful negotiations" with the United States.

Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.

Pakistan, India trade fire in Kashmir; 4 civilians killed

Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami rally to express solidarity with Indian Kashmiris, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Pakistani and Indian troops traded fire in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Wednesday, killing four civilians and wounding nearly a dozen others, officials from both sides said, as tensions remain high between the two South Asian countries. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

by Roshan Mughal & Aijaz Hussain

Islamabad (AP) — Pakistani and Indian troops traded fire in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Wednesday, killing four civilians and wounding nearly a dozen others, officials from both sides said, as tensions remain high between the two South Asian countries.

Kashmir is split between Pakistan and India and claimed by both countries in its entirety. They have fought two wars over the province.

India sparked a new round of tensions in August, when it downgraded the autonomy of its side of Kashmir and imposed tighter controls on the area.

On Wednesday, Pakistan's foreign ministry said it summoned an Indian diplomat to lodge its protest over the previous day's "ceasefire violations" that killed three civilians, including two children on the Pakistani side of the contested Kashmir border.

In neighboring India, Lt. Col. Devender Anand, an army spokesman, said Pakistan fired at two dozen Indian army posts along the highly militarized Poonch sector Monday and Tuesday. He said Pakistani troops used mortar and machine-guns and targeted several villages as well.

Anand blamed Pakistan for initiating the fire and said their troops "befittingly" responded to what he called a series of unprovoked cease-fire violations. Earlier, an Indian civil administrator, Rahul Yadav, said that a young woman and several cattle were killed due to Pakistani firing in the Poonch sector Tuesday.

Also Wednesday, Indian police officer Parvaiz Ahmed said Indian security forces killed three militants in an exchange of gunfire in southern Kashmir, following intelligence that a group of militants was hiding in the town Bijbehara town.

Indian-administered Kashmir has experienced unrest and sporadic anti-government protests since New Delhi revoked its special status.

Hussain reported rom Srinagar, India

Catalans march on Barcelona after 2 nights of violence

Policemen in riot gear move past a burning barricade during clashes with protestors in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

by Joseph Wilson

Barcelona, Spain (AP) — Thousands of people on Wednesday joined five large protest marches across Catalonia that were set to converge on Barcelona, as the restive region reeled from two straight days of violent clashes between police and protesters.

The marches set off from several Catalan towns and aimed to reach the Catalan capital by Friday.

They included families with children, elderly and young people, and banners reading "Libertat Presos Politics" (Freedom for political prisoners) — a reference to nine separatist Catalan leaders given to lengthy prison sentences by the Supreme Court on Monday, which ignited the protests.

Catalan regional president Quim Torra left Barcelona, the seat of the regional government, to join one of the marches, saying he wanted to be next to the people.

"These peaceful marches happening across the country (Catalonia) are the Catalan people's best response" to the court's verdict, Torra said.

Torra, one of the leaders of Catalonia's separatist movement which wants the wealthy northeastern region to be independent from Spain, didn't criticize the recent street violence, which national political leaders have condemned.

Peaceful protests turned ugly in Barcelona and other towns after Monday's verdict. Barcelona's police said 40,000 protesters packed the streets near the office of Spain's government representative Tuesday evening and a running melee broke out when they turned over metal barriers and threw objects at police.

The outnumbered police used foam bullets, batons and shields to battle groups that rained down rocks, firecrackers and other objects on them.

An organization representing downtown Barcelona businesses, called Barcelona Abierta, said the violence in the city had caused "significant losses" and "deeply damaged" its image abroad.

Spain's Interior Ministry said 54 members of Catalonia's regional police force and 18 National Police officers were hurt in the protests Tuesday. Health authorities say they treated 125 people, both police and protesters.

Police made 29 arrests in Barcelona, the Catalan capital. More than 150 barricades in the streets were set ablaze by protesters, according to the ministry.

Similar protests turned toward violence in other towns in Catalonia, which has seen a rise in separatist sentiment for the past decade. Roughly half of the region's 7.5 million residents support independence, with the other half opposing a breakaway, according to polls.

Students in the restive region went on strike Wednesday, with organizers urging them to remain peaceful, like the majority of separatist rallies have been before this week.

The marches and sporadic street protests continued to snarl traffic across the wealthy region. Flights and passenger movements at Barcelona airport have also been disrupted by protests.

Traffic in downtown Barcelona was also slowed by the massive cleanup effort to remove the debris of burned barricades and trash.

Spanish acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who is facing a national election on Nov. 10, began to meet with the leaders of the main opposition parties to discuss the situation in Catalonia.

"(I want to issue) my firmest and complete condemnation of the violence that is trying to shatter the social harmony in Catalonia," Sánchez wrote on Twitter. "All support for the forces of security."

Gabriel Rufián, a leading Catalan separatist and member of Spain's parliament, and some other high-profile secessionists, called for calm.

"Nothing can justify violence," Rufián told Cadena SER radio.

Most impromptu protesters have responded to an online campaign by Tsunami Democratic, a shadowy grassroots group that uses encrypted messaging apps to call for peaceful disobedience.

Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said authorities were investigating the group.

But on Wednesday, the group issued a statement appealing for an end to the violence.

The Supreme Court found nine of 12 Catalan politicians and activists guilty of sedition and gave them prison sentences of nine to 13 years. Four of them were additionally convicted of misuse of public funds. The other three were fined for disobeying court orders.

Aritz Parra in Madrid, and Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed to this report.



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