3 hurt as suicide bomber hits Chinese Embassy in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyz police officers stand outside gates to
the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Tuesday, Aug. 30. (AP Photo/
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — A
suspected suicide bomber on Tuesday crashed a car through the entrance of
the Chinese Embassy in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek, detonating a bomb
that killed the attacker and wounded three embassy employees.
China denounced the attack and appealed
to Kyrgyz authorities to identify and harshly punish anyone involved. No
group claimed responsibility.
The Central Asian nation's interior
ministry said the person who drove the vehicle through the gate died when
the bomb detonated. The three people injured are Kyrgyz nationals: two
17-year-old embassy gardeners and an unidentified woman.
Almaz Kubatbekov, chief physician at
the Bishkek National Trauma and Orthopedics Institute, said the three
victims suffered concussions and multiple bruises.
Photos from the scene showed the inner
courtyard of the embassy compound littered with debris. Windows of one
building were smashed and the plastered walls pockmarked with shrapnel.
The embassy in Bishkek's southern
suburbs neighbors the U.S. embassy.
Kyrgyzstan's interior ministry
described it as a terrorist attack. Deputy Prime Minister Zhenish Razakov
told the Interfax news agency it was a suicide bombing.
Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked former Soviet
republic that borders China, has a predominantly Muslim population that is
considered moderate in outlook.
A Kyrgyz news website, Kloop.kg, quoted
Razakov as saying that he would lead a meeting Tuesday on tightening
security ahead of Kyrgyz Independence Day on Wednesday and a summit of
former Soviet nations in mid-September.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman Hua Chunying described the three victims' injuries as minor but
called for a stern security response.
"China is appalled and strongly
condemns the violent act," Hua told reporters at a daily briefing.
She said China's foreign ministry has
"demanded that Kyrgyz authorities take all necessary measures to ensure the
safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Kyrgyzstan, launch a
thorough investigation to find out the truth of the incident and harshly
punish the perpetrators."
Kyrgyz authorities offered no guidance
on the attacker or a possible motive.
The Chinese regularly have blamed
separatists and religious extremists for attacks in China's northwest region
of Xinjiang, which borders Kyrgyzstan. Al-Qaida and the Islamic State group
also have threatened to attack Chinese targets in retaliation for alleged
repression of Chinese Muslims, particularly those from the Turkic-speaking
Uighur majority native to Xinjiang.
Cambodia nabs 64 from China, Taiwan in alleged internet scam
police officer stands by arrested Taiwanese and Chinese nationals in Phnom
Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Aug. 30. (Cambodian Police via AP)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia (AP) —
Cambodian police arrested 64 people from mainland China and Taiwan on
Tuesday, accusing them of taking part in an internet scam, officials said.
Initial information shows that at least
12 of the suspects are from Taiwan, while the rest are mainland Chinese,
said Gen. Ouk Haiseila, chief of the Cambodian Interior Ministry's
Immigration Investigation Bureau.
The general said the suspects were
arrested in a rented house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. They are
accused of defrauding victims in China using phone calls made over the
internet, he said.
"These suspects are now detained by
immigration police for questioning and then we will deport them back to
China," Gen. Ouk Haiseila said.
In June, Taiwan protested after
Cambodia deported 25 Taiwanese internet scam suspects to rival China in the
latest snub of the self-ruled island. Cambodia regards Taiwan to be part of
Although Taiwan's constitution formally
decrees that it and the mainland are part of a single Chinese nation, Taiwan
functions like an independent country and does not acknowledge Beijing's
claim of authority over it.
Rights activists and Taiwanese
authorities say such deportations reflect the great influence China
exercises over Cambodia through aid and investment.
China is a key ally and economic
partner of impoverished Cambodia. It has provided millions of dollars in aid
and investment over the past decade, agreed to write off debts and granted
it tariff-free status for hundreds of items.
Kenya and Malaysia have also deported
Taiwanese internet scam suspects to China despite protests by Taiwanese
Singer arrested on suspicion of assault with deadly weapon
Rapper Chris Brown is shown in this June 7,
2015, file photo. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)
Derrik J. Lang, Amanda Lee Myers
Los Angeles (AP) — Police
arrested singer Chris Brown on Tuesday on suspicion of assault with a deadly
weapon after a woman called hours earlier from outside his Los Angeles home
and said she needed help.
The arrest followed an hours-long
standoff and lengthy search of Brown's home after police produced a search
Baylee Curran told the Los Angeles
Times that Brown had pointed a gun at her face in his home early
Tuesday. She said Brown and another man at his home became angry with her
when she admired the man's diamond necklace.
Curran said she and her friend ran
outside as one of Brown's associates gave chase and hid under a neighbor's
She hasn't responded to requests for
comment from The Associated Press.
Earlier, Brown sent messages via social
media proclaiming his innocence and rebuffing reports that he had barricaded
himself in his home.
"I don't care. Y'all gonna stop playing
with me like I'm the villain out here, like I'm going crazy," he said in one
Instagram video Tuesday, waving a cigarette and looking at the camera. "When
you get the warrant or whatever you need to do, you're going to walk right
up in here and you're going to see nothing. You idiots."
Officers first responded to his hilltop
estate around 3 a.m. Tuesday after a woman called for help from outside the
residence. Police Lt. Chris Ramirez did not identify the woman or elaborate
on the assistance she needed. He did not know if she was injured.
Brown's attorney, Mark Geragos, arrived
at the house shortly before police served the search warrant. Geragos has
not responded to AP's request for comment.
Brown has been in repeated legal
trouble since his felony conviction in the 2009 assault of his
After several missteps, Brown completed
his probation in that case last year.
In 2013, Brown struck a man outside a
Washington, D.C., hotel and was charged with misdemeanor assault. The singer
was ordered into rehab but was dismissed from the facility for violating its
He spent 2˝ months in custody, with
U.S. marshals shuttling him between Los Angeles and the nation's capital for
In another incident while in treatment,
Brown was accused of throwing a brick at his mother's car following a
counseling session. It came after Brown had completed court-ordered anger
Myanmar to hold historic peace talks with ethnic armies
Myanmar's Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi,
center, sits with members of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) as they pose
for photographs following a meeting of armed ethnic groups in Naypyitaw,
Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo/File)
Yangon (AP) - Peace talks aimed
at ending more than half a century of conflict between Myanmar's army and an
array of armed ethnic rebel groups are due to start in the capital,
Naypyitaw, on Wednesday.
The talks are the first formal peace
negotiations since Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for
Democracy party swept elections last November and took office in April,
vowing that national unity would be its top priority.
Suu Kyi is expected to address the
five-day conference, along with the powerful head of the nation's military,
Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
and representatives of at least 17 of the 20 main armed groups. Hundreds of
delegates are expected to attend.
The rebel armies control a patchwork of
remote territories rich in jade and timber that are located mostly in the
north and east along the borders with China and Thailand. They represent
various ethnic groups that for decades have been fighting for autonomy while
resisting "Burmanization," a push by the Burman ethnic majority to propagate
its language, religion and culture in ethnic minority regions.
A look at why this week's meeting is
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Armed ethnic conflict has plagued
Myanmar for decades. The first uprising — launched by ethnic Karen
insurgents — began shortly after the country gained independence from
Britain in 1948.
Restoring stability nationwide is
crucial to Myanmar's long-term political and economic health. Ethnic
minorities make up about 40 percent of the population, and stability can't
be achieved without their support.
Fighting is not only bad for business,
it's a threat to the fragile democratic reform process that began in earnest
when the military ceded some of its formal power to a nominally civilian
government in 2011.
Skirmishes, particularly in northern
zones where Kachin insurgents are fighting the army, have displaced more
than 100,000 civilians since 2011 alone. At least 100,000 more have sought
refuge in squalid camps in neighboring Thailand, and are unlikely to return
home until true peace takes hold.
Suu Kyi promised that bringing peace
would be her top priority when her government assumed power.
The previous military-backed government
brokered individual truces with various insurgent groups and oversaw a
cease-fire covering eight minor insurgencies last year that fell short of a
Suu Kyi's administration is hoping to
build on those gains, but there are still skirmishes between the army and
rebels, particularly in Kachin and Shan states.
WHO IS TAKING PART, AND WHO ISN'T
Suu Kyi said all ethnic armed groups
would be invited to the talks, and most of the main rebel movements are
taking part, including the Karen, Kachin, Shan and Wa ethnic groups.
At least three smaller groups are not:
the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, the Ta'ang National
Liberation Army, and the Arakan Army. The MNDAA, made up of ethnic Chinese
Kokangs, waged fierce battles with the army in 2015 that displaced tens of
thousands of people.
THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
This week's talks are called the "21st
Century Panglong Conference," a reference to the Panglong Agreement brokered
in 1947 by Suu Kyi's late father, independence hero Gen. Aung San.
The deal granted ethnic minorities
autonomy and the right to secede if they worked with the federal government
to break away from Britain together.
Aung San was assassinated the following
year and the deal fell apart. Since then, ethnic groups have accused
successive, mostly military governments of failing to honor the 1947 pact.
PROSPECTS FOR PEACE IN THE NEAR TERM
The short answer: slim.
Although the formal start of
negotiations is a positive step, this week's meeting is likely to be largely
ceremonial, with discussions of contentious issues delayed until later
That has happened plenty of times
before — including in January, when Suu Kyi met leaders of the ethnic groups
a few months before taking office. An official representing a coalition of
rebel groups, the United Nationalities Federal Council, called those talks
"a meeting that led to constructive intentions for the future meeting."
Some ethnic rebel groups have said they
are not fully prepared for talks yet, and complained the government set the
date without consulting them. It's also not clear whether the handful of
rebel groups not attending will join later; the ethnic minorities believe
that only a comprehensive agreement including all can succeed.
Part of the problem is that distrust
between ethnic groups and the army is profound, and the military has
retained enormous influence even though Suu Kyi's party has assumed nominal
control of the government. Rebel representatives in Naypyitaw also said
Tuesday that Suu Kyi was playing her cards close, and they could not clearly
gauge her government's stance.
Europe hits Apple with a $15 billion-plus tax bill
European Union Competition Commissioner
Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in
Brussels on Tuesday, Aug. 30. The European Union says Ireland has given
illegal tax benefits to Apple Inc. and must now recover the unpaid back
taxes from the U.S. technology company, plus interest. (AP Photo/Virginia
John-Thor Dahlburg, Brandon Bailey, Shawn
San Francisco (AP) — The
European Union ordered Apple on Tuesday to pay nearly $15 billion in back
taxes to Ireland, plus billions more in interest, in a move that
dramatically escalates the fight over whether America's biggest corporations
are paying their fair share around the world.
While Apple could easily afford the
bill, the tech giant said it will challenge the EU decision, which found
that Ireland granted a sweetheart deal that let Apple pay almost no taxes
across the European bloc for 11 years. And Ireland, which has long used low
taxes to attract foreign businesses, said it will stand with Apple.
"We now find ourselves in the unusual
position of being ordered to retroactively pay additional taxes to a
government that says we don't owe them any more than we've already paid,"
Apple CEO Tim Cook complained in a statement.
The White House also blasted the ruling
as unfair and disruptive to its own efforts at tax reform. But the decision
was welcomed by groups that have long criticized the practices used by Apple
and other large companies to legally reduce their tax obligations.
The ruling was the latest in a series
of aggressive moves by European officials to hold U.S. businesses,
particularly big tech companies, accountable under the EU's rules on
taxation, competition and privacy.
"They're going after Apple, which means
a big name and big dollars," said Brad Badertscher, a corporate tax expert
at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. "It's a big
shot across the pond to U.S. companies."
California-based Apple reported over
$53 billion in profit in its last fiscal year on worldwide sales of more
than $233 billion. It says it paid $13 billion in corporate income taxes
But EU Competition Commissioner
Margrethe Vestager said Ireland granted such lavish tax breaks to Apple that
the company's effective corporate tax rate on its European profits dropped
from 1 percent in 2003 to a mere 0.005 percent in 2014.
While Apple disputed her figures,
Vestager argued that Ireland violated EU rules by essentially giving
subsidies to selected companies.
Under its current arrangement, Apple
treats virtually all sales of iPhones and other goods and services in the
EU's 28 nations as revenue generated by its Irish subsidiaries.
Vestager ordered Ireland to recover the
unpaid taxes for the years 2003 to 2014, plus interest, which one analyst
said could amount to an additional 6 billion euros.
For Ireland, a country of barely 4.6
million people, the sum would be a huge windfall — equivalent to over 2,800
euros ($3,150) for every man, woman and child. And yet the government said
it will appeal the decision, arguing it granted no special treatment to
Ireland has for years offered low
corporate tax rates to multinationals, a common strategy among Europe's
smaller countries, including Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Multinationals have such huge revenue
that these countries can reap big gains even from low taxes. They also
benefit from the jobs created. Apple has 5,500 workers in Ireland, making it
one of the biggest private-sector employers.
"It is important that we send a strong
message that Ireland remains an attractive and stable location of choice for
long-term substantive investment," said Irish Finance Minister Michael
Noonan. "Apple has been in Ireland since the 1980s and employs thousands of
people in Cork."
Apple likewise argued that it followed
the law and paid every cent of what it owed.
"We are confident the commission's
order will be overturned," Cook said, while also warning: "Beyond the
obvious targeting of Apple, the most profound and harmful effect of this
ruling will be on investment and job creation in Europe."
Badertscher agreed the ruling could
discourage U.S. companies from investing in Europe. But others applauded the
crackdown on what they described as a "race to the bottom" by individual
nations offering lower tax rates than their neighbors.
"To its credit, the European Union
understands that when member nations act as tax havens, as Ireland has,
there are casualties far beyond the borders of Ireland," said Matthew
Gardner, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic
Policy, a liberal research group in Washington.
"It's not a good economic development
strategy for Ireland in the long run, and it also subverts the tax system of
every other member nation and nations around world," he added.
But the EU's move risks the ire of the
United States. In recent weeks, the Obama administration warned European
officials that their investigations seemed to be unfairly singling out U.S.
U.S. Treasury officials also complained
that imposing European taxes retroactively could hurt American taxpayers,
since U.S. companies can receive a tax credit in this country for taxes paid
Apple, along with other big U.S.
multinationals, has built a vast stockpile of cash from its foreign
operations, but it has left the money overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes
that it would owe if it brought that money home.
The company reported this summer that
it holds nearly $215 billion in cash and securities overseas, much of it
generated by its Irish subsidiaries. Cook has complained that high U.S.
taxes have discouraged the company from bringing those earnings home.
Apple said the EU ruling will have no
immediate effect on its finances. Wall Street analysts agreed, noting the
potential tax bill is a small fraction of the company's cash stockpile.
Apple stock declined by less than 1 percent Tuesday.
Locally transmitted Zika virus infects 41 in Singapore
walks past a travel advisory on the Zika virus infection in Kuala Lumpur
International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, Aug. 28. The Singapore
Ministry of Health and National Environment Agency has informed that a
Malaysian woman living in Singapore became the first patient to be infected
by locally-transmitted Zika virus. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Singapore (AP) — More than 40
people have been infected locally by the Zika virus in Singapore, but most
have fully recovered, officials say.
Singapore announced its first Zika
infection in May, with the virus imported by a 48-year-old man who had
traveled to Brazil. On Sunday, the Ministry of Health confirmed 41 locally
transmitted cases of the virus.
The ministry said in a statement that
the patients were "not known to have traveled to Zika-affected areas
recently, and are thus likely to have been infected in Singapore. This
confirms that local transmission of Zika virus infection has taken place."
Of the group, 34 people have recovered,
while seven remain at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the statement said.
The ministry named two residential
districts of Singapore where the disease was transmitted and said that the
bulk of those infected were foreign construction workers. The virus was
mostly detected through tests on Saturday.
Among those still hospitalized is a
47-year-old Malaysian woman, identified by authorities as the first locally
Zika has mild effects on most people,
but can be fatal for unborn children. Infection during pregnancy can result
in babies with small heads — a condition called microcephaly — and other
Today in History - Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016
The Associated Press
Today is Wednesday, Aug. 31, the 244th day of 2016. There are 122 days left
in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Aug. 31, 1886, an earthquake with an
estimated magnitude of 7.3 devastated Charleston, South Carolina, killing at
least 60 people, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
On this date:
In 1881, the first U.S. tennis
championships (for men only) began in Newport, Rhode Island.
In 1916, the musical revue "The Big
Show," featuring the song "Poor Butterfly" by Raymond Hubbell and John
Golden, opened at New York's Hippodrome.
In 1939, the first issue of Marvel
Comics, featuring the Human Torch, was published by Timely Publications in
In 1941, the radio program "The Great
Gildersleeve," a spinoff from "Fibber McGee and Molly" starring Harold
Peary, debuted on NBC.
In 1954, Hurricane Carol hit the
northeastern Atlantic states; Connecticut, Rhode Island and part of
Massachusetts bore the brunt of the storm, which resulted in some 70
In 1965, the U.S. House of
Representatives joined the Senate in voting to establish the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development.
In 1972, at the Munich Summer Olympics,
American swimmer Mark Spitz won his fourth and fifth gold medals in the
100-meter butterfly and 800-meter freestyle relay; Soviet gymnast Olga
Korbut won gold medals in floor exercise and the balance beam.
In 1980, Poland's Solidarity labor
movement was born with an agreement signed in Gdansk (guh-DANSK') that ended
a 17-day-old strike.
In 1986, 82 people were killed when an
Aeromexico jetliner and a small private plane collided over Cerritos,
California. The Soviet passenger ship Admiral Nakhimov collided with a
merchant vessel in the Black Sea, causing both to sink; up to 448 people
In 1991, Uzbekistan (ooz-bek-ih-STAHN')
and Kyrgyzstan (keer-gih-STAHN') declared their independence, raising to ten
the number of republics seeking to secede from the Soviet Union.
In 1996, three adults and four children
drowned when their vehicle rolled into John D. Long Lake in Union, South
Carolina; they had gone to see a monument to the sons of Susan Smith, who
had drowned the two boys in Oct. 1994.
In 1997, a car crash in Paris claimed
the lives of Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed and their driver, Henri Paul.
Ten years ago: Iran defied a U.N.
deadline to stop enriching uranium. President George W. Bush, addressing an
American Legion convention in Salt Lake City, predicted victory in the war
on terror, likening the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism with the
fight against Nazis and communists. Police in Norway recovered the Edvard
Munch (AYD'-vart moongk) masterpieces "The Scream" and "Madonna" two years
after masked gunmen grabbed the national art treasures in front of stunned
visitors at an Oslo museum.
Five years ago: The Wartime Contracting
Commission issued a report saying the U.S. had lost billions of dollars to
waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan and stood to repeat that in future
wars without big changes in how the government awarded and managed contracts
for battlefield support and reconstruction projects. Betty Skelton Erde
(ur-dee), 85, an aviation and auto racing pioneer once called the fastest
woman on Earth, died in The Villages, Florida.
One year ago: President Barack Obama,
opening a three-day visit to Alaska, painted a doomsday scenario for the
Arctic and beyond if climate change wasn't dealt with fast: entire nations
submerged underwater, cities abandoned and refugees fleeing in droves as
conflict broke out across the globe. The State Department released roughly
7,000 pages of Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails, including about 150 emails
that were censored because they contained information deemed classified.
Frazier Glenn Miller, a white supremacist who admitted killing three people
at two suburban Kansas City Jewish sites, gave jurors in Olathe, Kansas, a
Nazi salute after they convicted him of murder and other charges for the
shootings. (The same jury sentenced Miller to death.)
Today's Birthdays: Japanese monster
movie actor Katsumi Tezuka is 104. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson is
81. Actor Warren Berlinger is 79. Rock musician Jerry Allison (Buddy Holly
and the Crickets) is 77. Actor Jack Thompson is 76. Violinist Itzhak Perlman
is 71. Singer Van Morrison is 71. Rock musician Rudolf Schenker (The
Scorpions) is 68. Actor Richard Gere is 67. Olympic gold medal track and
field athlete Edwin Moses is 61. Rock singer Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze) is 59.
Rock musician Gina Schock (The Go-Go's) is 59. Singer Tony DeFranco (The
DeFranco Family) is 57. Rhythm-and-blues musician Larry Waddell (Mint
Condition) is 53. Actor Jaime P. Gomez is 51. Baseball pitcher Hideo Nomo is
48. Rock musician Jeff Russo (Tonic) is 47. Singer-composer Deborah Gibson
is 46. Rock musician Greg Richling (Wallflowers) is 46. Actor Zack Ward is
46. Golfer Padraig Harrington is 45. Actor Chris Tucker is 44. Actress Sara
Ramirez is 41. Rhythm-and-blues singer Tamara (Trina & Tamara) is 39.
Thought for Today: "Every man in the
world is better than someone else and not as good someone else." — William
Saroyan, American author (1908-1981).
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten or redistributed.
Brazil's president proclaims innocence at impeachment trial
suspended President Dilma Rousseff holds up a chart as she speaks at her own
impeachment trial, in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 29. (AP Photo/Eraldo
Mauricio Savarese, Peter Prengaman
Brasilia, Brazil (AP) — Brazil's
suspended president proclaimed her innocence Monday, branding her vice
president a "usurper" and warning senators that history would judge them
harshly if they ousted a democratically elected leader on false charges.
Dilma Rousseff's much anticipated
speech to the lawmakers who will decide this week whether to permanently
remove her from office was characterized by the same defiance she has shown
throughout an impeachment process that has divided Latin America's most
"I know I will be judged, but my
conscience is clear. I did not commit a crime," Rousseff told senators, who
listened intently in contrast to the chamber's usual raucousness.
In the middle of her second term, the
left-leaning leader has been accused of breaking fiscal rules to hide
problems in the federal budget. She has denied any wrongdoing, accusing her
opponents of a "coup d'état."
Rousseff reminded those in attendance
that she was re-elected in 2014 by more than 54 million votes, asserting
that at every moment since she has followed the constitution and sought to
do what was best for the country.
Brazil's first female president is a
former guerrilla fighter who was jailed and tortured during the country's
dictatorship, and Rousseff drew a connection between her past and the
"I can't help but taste the bitterness
of injustice," she said of the process that will decide not only her fate
but the nation's political future.
During her 30-minite speech, Rousseff
argued that in early 2015 opposition lawmakers began creating a climate of
instability by refusing to negotiate and throwing what she called "fiscal
bombs" in the face of declining revenues.
She said the impeachment process had
exacerbated the recession in Latin America's largest economy, placing the
blame on the opposition, which has argued that she has to be removed for the
financial climate to improve.
Rousseff blasted interim President
Michel Temer as a "usurper." Her vice president turned arch-enemy, Temer
took over when the Senate voted in May to impeach and suspend Rousseff for
up to 180 days while a trial was prepared. He will serve out Rousseff's term
if she is removed.
Referring to Temer, Rousseff said
Brazilians would never have elected a man who named a Cabinet of all white
men in a country that is more than 50 percent non-white. The Cabinet that
Temer put in place in May has been roundly criticized for its lack of
diversity, and three of his ministers were forced to step down within a
month of taking office because of corruption allegations.
Rousseff asserted she had paid a price
for refusing to quash a wide-ranging police investigation into the state oil
company Petrobras, saying that corrupt lawmakers conspired to oust her to
derail the investigation into billions in kickbacks at the oil giant.
The investigation has led to the
jailing of top businessmen and politicians, including in her Workers' Party.
But they have plenty of company: Watchdog groups estimate 60 percent of the
594 lawmakers in both chambers are being investigated for wrongdoing, many
for corruption related to the Petrobras probe.
Rousseff said it was "an irony of
history" that she would be judged for crimes she did not commit, by people
who were accused of serious crimes.
"I ask that you be just with an honest
president," she said, her voice cracking with emotion.
Watching the proceedings, Rousseff's
mentor and predecessor as president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is
himself under investigation, said: "She said what she had to say."
After Rousseff's speech, senators from
both the opposition and her bloc of supporters began questioning her, a
process that was expected to extend late into Monday night. Her appearance
is to be followed by a Senate vote on whether to remove her permanently from
the presidency, expected as early as Tuesday or perhaps Wednesday.
For Rousseff to be removed, at least 54
of the 81 senators need to vote in favor. Counts by local media find that 52
senators have said they plan on voting for removal, while 18 are opposed and
11 have not said one way or another. In May, the same body voted 55-21 to
impeach and suspend her.
One of the sharpest exchanges came with
Sen. Aecio Neves, who narrowly lost the presidential election to Rousseff in
2014. Neves charged that Rousseff won by lying to voters and "committing
illegalities" with the budget maneuvers. While the impeachment measure
focuses only on 2015, many senators accuse Rousseff of fiscal improprieties
Rousseff brushed Neves off, saying that
the day after she was re-elected "several measures were taken to destabilize
As questioning of the suspended leader
wore on Monday night, only a few senators were paying attention to
Rousseff's answers, which tended to be lengthy.
Rousseff's appearance came on the
fourth day of a trial that has seen name-calling, shouting and a declaration
by Senate President Renan Calheiros that "stupidity is limitless."
The process began late last year, with
the Chamber of Deputies approving impeachment charges in April and the
Senate in May.
The drama has consumed Brazil, with the
proceedings continuing even during the Aug. 5-21 Olympic Games in Rio de
Janeiro. On Monday, several hundred supporters demonstrated outside
Congress, cheering when Rousseff arrived. A huge wall was erected to
separate her supporters and pro-impeachment activists.
Before Rousseff spoke, Supreme Court
Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, who is presiding over the trial, warned
senators and spectators to remain silent.
When Rousseff finished speaking, many
senators applauded, prompting Lewandowski to temporarily suspend the
"We are holding a judgment trial here,
not a political debate," he said.
European ships rescue thousands of migrants off Libyan coast
Migrants, most of them from Eritrea, jump into
the water from a crowded wooden boat as they are helped by members of an NGO
during a rescue operation at the Mediterranean Sea, Monday, Aug. 29. (AP
Off the coast of Libya (AP) —
Italian naval ships and vessels from non-government groups rescued thousands
of migrants off the Libyan coast on Monday, the latest surge in desperate
attempts to flee to Europe driven by war, poverty, and human traffickers.
The dramatic operation took place just
21 kilometers north of the town of Sabratha in Libya. Groups such as
Proactiva Open Arms and Doctors Without Borders helped take on some 3,000
people who had been travelling in some 20 small wooden boats.
In images and video by The Associated
Press, migrants from Eritrea and Somalia cheered as the rescue boats
arrived, with some jumping into the water and swimming toward them while
others carefully carried babies onto the rescue ships.
Their boats too weak and technically
unequipped for a voyage across the stretch of the Mediterranean to the
shores of Italy, the migrants had set off with a bit of gasoline in the
overcrowded vessels, hoping to make it at least 15-20 miles out to sea and
reach awaiting rescuers.
Tens of thousands of Africans take the
dangerous Mediterranean Sea route as a gateway to a better life in Europe,
alongside those fleeing wars from Syria to Afghanistan.
Libya's chaos and lack of border
controls have made it into a transit route. Since the 2011 ouster and
killing of longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the country has sunk
into lawlessness, facing a myriad of militias vying for influence and an
emerging Islamic State affiliate.
In June, the European Union expanded
its anti-smuggling operation in the central Mediterranean to include
training Libyan coastal and naval forces, which are intercepting boats and
returning migrants to Libya, where some are being held in abusive
Rights groups and experts estimate that
there are about 3,500 migrants held in roughly 20 official detention
facilities across Libya. Others are held in informal detention centers
controlled by criminal gangs or armed groups.
15 Philippine troops killed in clash with Abu Sayyaf rebels
Philippine army troops have been killed in a fierce gun battle with Abu
Sayyaf rebels in Sulu province, Monday, August 29. (AP Photo/file)
Manila, Philippines (AP) — Abu
Sayyaf extremists killed 15 Philippine army soldiers in fierce fighting
Monday in the country's restive south, dealing the government its largest
single-day combat loss under President Rodrigo Duterte, who ordered the
militants to be crushed for their brutality.
Military officials said five other
soldiers were wounded in the nearly two-hour gun battle that also killed at
least two militants in Sulu province's mountainous Patikul town, where the
Abu Sayyaf have detained many of their kidnap victims.
The estimated 70 militants were led by
Abu Sayyaf commander Radulan Sahiron, a one-armed fighter long wanted by
Philippine and U.S. authorities for his role in bombings, kidnappings and
other acts, according to regional military commander Maj. Filemon Tan and
Duterte ordered troops to hunt down and
destroy the militants in their jungle bases last week after the extremists
beheaded a kidnapped villager whose family was too poor to pay a ransom. The
tough-talking president has pursued peace talks with two larger Muslim rebel
groups, including the Moro National Liberation Front whose fighters have
been suspected of providing sanctuary and combat support to the Abu Sayyaf
in Sulu in the past.
The military's battle setback came
after troops killed at least 21 Abu Sayyaf gunmen, including an influential
commander, in the jungles of Patikul on Friday and Saturday in assaults that
followed the beheading.
The United States and the Philippines
have blacklisted the Abu Sayyaf, which is estimated to have more than 400
armed members, for deadly bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings.
Although the militants have been weakened by years of U.S.
military-supported Philippine offensives, they remain a national security
concern and have been implicated in the recent kidnappings of Indonesian and
Malaysian crewmen of tugboats plying the area around the sea borders of the
Actor Gene Wilder, star of Mel Brooks movies, dies at 83
Actor Gene Wilder is shown during an interview
with Jean Claude Bouis in this Dec. 9, 1977 file photo. Wilder died late
Sunday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, from complications from
Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Los Angeles (AP) — Gene Wilder,
the frizzy-haired actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such
unforgettable roles as the neurotic accountant in "The Producers" and the
mad scientist of "Young Frankenstein," has died. He was 83.
Wilder's nephew said Monday that the
actor and writer died late Sunday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, from
complications from Alzheimer's disease.
Jordan Walker-Pearlman said in a
statement that Wilder was diagnosed with the disease three years ago, but
kept the condition private so as not to disappoint fans.
"He simply couldn't bear the idea of
one less smile in the world," Walker-Pearlman said.
Wilder started his acting career on the
stage, but millions knew him from his work in the movies, especially his
collaborations with Mel Brooks on "The Producers," ''Blazing Saddles" and
"Young Frankenstein." The last film — with Wilder playing a California-born
descendant of the mad scientist, insisting that his name is pronounced
"Frahn-ken-SHTEEN" — was co-written by Brooks and Wilder.
"Gene Wilder, one of the truly great
talents of our time, is gone," Brooks wrote in a statement Monday. "He
blessed every film we did together with his special magic and he blessed my
life with his friendship. He will be so missed."
With his unkempt hair and big, buggy
eyes, Wilder was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in
schemes that only a madman such as Brooks could devise, whether reviving a
monster in "Young Frankenstein" or bilking Broadway in "The Producers."
Brooks would call him "God's perfect prey, the victim in all of us."
But he also knew how to keep it cool as
the boozing gunslinger in "Blazing Saddles" or the charming candy man in the
children's favorite "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." His craziest
role: the therapist having an affair with a sheep in Woody Allen's
"Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex."
"The greatest comedic mind of my
childhood is now gone," actor Josh Gad wrote on Twitter. "#RIP #GeneWilder &
thank you 4 your pure imagination. This one hits hard."
Tweeted Jim Carrey: "Gene Wilder was
one of the funniest and sweetest energies ever to take a human form. If
there's a heaven he has a Golden Ticket."
Wilder was close friends with Richard
Pryor and their contrasting personas — Wilder uptight, Pryor loose — were
ideal for comedy. They co-starred in four films: "Silver Streak," ''Stir
Crazy," ''See No Evil, Hear No Evil" and "Another You." And they created
several memorable scenes, particularly when Pryor provided Wilder with
directions on how to "act black" as they tried to avoid police in "Silver
But Wilder would insist in a 2013
interview that he was no comedian. He told interviewer Robert Osborne it was
the biggest misconception about him.
"What a comic, what a funny guy, all
that stuff! And I'm not. I'm really not. Except in a comedy in films,"
Wilder said. "But I make my wife laugh once or twice in the house, but
nothing special. But when people see me in a movie and it's funny then they
stop and say things to me about 'how funny you were.' But I don't think I'm
that funny. I think I can be in the movies."
In 1968, Wilder received an Oscar
nomination for his work in Brooks' "The Producers." He played the
introverted Leo Bloom, an accountant who discovers the liberating joys of
greed and corruption as he and Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) conceive a
Broadway flop titled "Springtime For Hitler" and plan to flee with the money
raised for the show's production. Matthew Broderick played Wilder's role in
the 2001 Broadway stage revival of the show.
Though they collaborated on film,
Wilder and Brooks met through the theater. Wilder was in a play with Brooks'
then-future wife, Anne Bancroft, who introduced the pair backstage in 1963.
Wilder, a Milwaukee native, was born
Jerome Silberman on June 11, 1933. His father was a Russian emigre, his
mother was of Polish descent. When he was 6, Wilder's mother suffered a
heart attack that left her a semi-invalid. He soon began improvising comedy
skits to entertain her, the first indication of his future career.
He started taking acting classes at age
12 and continued performing and taking lesson through college. In 1961,
Wilder became a member of Lee Strasberg's prestigious Actor's Studio in
That same year, he made both his
off-Broadway and Broadway debuts. He won the Clarence Derwent Award, given
to promising newcomers, for the Broadway work in Graham Greene's comedy "The
He used his new name, Gene Wilder, for
the off-Broadway and Broadway roles. He lifted the first name from the
character Eugene Gant in Thomas Wolfe's "Look Back, Homeward Angel," while
the last name was clipped from playwright Thornton Wilder. A key break came
when he co-starred with Bancroft in Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage," and
met Brooks, her future husband.
"I was having trouble with one little
section of the play, and he gave me tips on how to act. He said, 'That's a
song and dance. He's proselytizing about communism. Just skip over it, sing
and dance over it, and get on to the good stuff.' And he was right," Wilder
Before starring in "The Producers," he
had a small role as the hostage of gangsters in the 1967 classic "Bonnie and
Clyde." He peaked in the mid-1970s with the twin Brooks hits "Blazing
Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein."
He went on to write several screenplays
and direct several films. In 1982, while making the generally forgettable
"Hanky-Panky," he fell in love with co-star Gilda Radner. They were married
in 1984, and co-starred in two Wilder-penned films: "The Woman in Red" and
After Radner died of ovarian cancer in
1989, Wilder spent much of his time after promoting cancer research and
opened a support facility for cancer patients. In 1991, he testified before
Congress about the need for increased testing for cancer.
That same year, he appeared in his
final film role: "Another You" with Pryor.
Wilder worked mostly in television in
recent years, including appearances on "Will & Grace" — including one that
earned him an Emmy Award for outstanding guest actor — and a starring role
in the short-lived sitcom "Something Wilder." In 2015, he was among the
voices in the animated "The Yo Gabba Gabba! Movie 2."
As for why he stopped appearing on the
big screen, Wilder said in 2013 he was turned off by the noise and foul
language in modern movies.
"I didn't want to do the kind of junk I
was seeing," he said in an interview. "I didn't want to do 3D for instance.
I didn't want to do ones where there's just bombing and loud and swearing,
so much swearing... can't they just stop and talk instead of swearing?"
Wilder is survived by his wife, Karen,
whom he married in 1991, and his daughter from a previous marriage,
Katherine, from whom he was estranged.
Today in History - Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016
Today is Tuesday, Aug. 30, the 243rd day of 2016. There
are 123 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Aug. 30, 1861, Union Gen. John C. Fremont instituted
martial law in Missouri and declared slaves there to be free. (However,
Fremont's emancipation order was countermanded by President Abraham
On this date:
In 1862, Confederate forces won victories against the
Union at the Second Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Virginia, and the Battle
of Richmond in Kentucky.
In 1905, Ty Cobb made his major-league debut as a
player for the Detroit Tigers, hitting a double in his first at-bat in a
game against the New York Highlanders. (The Tigers won, 5-3.)
In 1935, the film "Anna Karenina," MGM's version of the
Tolstoy novel starring Greta Garbo, opened in New York.
In 1945, U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur arrived in Japan
to set up Allied occupation headquarters.
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the
Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which was intended to promote private development
of nuclear energy.
In 1963, the "Hot Line" communications link between
Washington and Moscow went into operation.
In 1967, the Senate confirmed the appointment of
Thurgood Marshall as the first black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1983, Guion S. Bluford Jr. became the first black
American astronaut to travel in space as he blasted off aboard the
In 1984, the space shuttle Discovery was launched on
its inaugural flight.
In 1986, Soviet authorities arrested Nicholas Daniloff,
a correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, as a spy a week after
American officials arrested Gennadiy Zakharov, a Soviet employee of the
United Nations, on espionage charges in New York. (Both men were later
In 1989, a federal jury in New York found "hotel queen"
Leona Helmsley guilty of income tax evasion, but acquitted her of extortion.
(Helmsley ended up serving 18 months behind bars, a month at a halfway house
and two months under house arrest.)
In 1991, Azerbaijan (ah-zur-by-JAHN') declared its
independence, joining the stampede of republics seeking to secede from the
Ten years ago: Hurricane John lashed tourist resorts
with heavy winds and rain as the dangerous Category 4 storm marched up
Mexico's Pacific coast. Actor Glenn Ford died in Beverly Hills, California,
at age 90. Naguib Mahfouz (nuh-GEEB' mah-FOOS'), the first Arab writer to
win the Nobel Prize in literature, died in Cairo, Egypt, at age 94.
Five years ago: National Guard helicopters rushed food
and water to a dozen cut-off Vermont towns after the rainy remnants of
Hurricane Irene washed out roads and bridges in a deluge that had taken many
people in the landlocked New England state by surprise. Libyan rebels said
they were closing in on Moammar Gadhafi and issued an ultimatum to loyalists
in his hometown of Sirte (surt), his main remaining bastion: Surrender, or
One year ago: The White House announced that President
Barack Obama would change the name of North America's tallest mountain peak
from Mount McKinley to Denali, bestowing the traditional Alaska Native name
on the eve of a historic presidential visit to Alaska. Jake Arrieta pitched
the sixth no-hitter of the season and second against the Los Angeles Dodgers
in 10 days, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 2-0 victory. Tokyo won the Little
League World Series, defeating Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, 18-11. Neurologist
Dr. Oliver Sacks, 82, author of "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat,"
died in New York. Movie writer-director Wes Craven, 76, who startled
audiences with suburban slashers like "Nightmare on Elm Street" and
"Scream," died in Los Angeles.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Bill Daily is 89. Actress
Elizabeth Ashley is 77. Actor Ben Jones is 75. Cartoonist R. Crumb is 73.
Olympic gold medal skier Jean-Claude Killy is 73. Actress Peggy Lipton is
70. Comedian Lewis Black is 68. Actor Timothy Bottoms is 65. Actor David
Paymer is 62. Jazz musician Gerald Albright is 59. Actor Michael Chiklis is
53. Music producer Robert Clivilles is 52. Actress Michael Michele is 50.
Country musician Geoff Firebaugh is 48. Country singer Sherrie Austin is 45.
Rock singer-musician Lars Frederiksen (Rancid) is 45. Actress Cameron Diaz
is 44. Rock musician Leon Caffrey (Space) is 43. TV personality Lisa Ling is
43. Rock singer-musician Aaron Barrett (Reel Big Fish) is 42. Actor Raul
Castillo (TV: "Looking") is 39. Actor Michael Gladis is 39. Rock musician
Matt Taul (Tantric; Days of the New) is 38. Tennis player Andy Roddick is
34. Singer Rachael Price (Lake Street Dive) is 31. Rock musician Ryan Ross
is 30. Actress Johanna Braddy (TV: "Quantico") is 29. Actor Cameron Finley
Thought for Today: "If you board the wrong train, it is
no use running along the corridor in the other direction." — Dietrich
Bonhoeffer, German theologian (1906-1945).
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights
reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
Today in History - Monday, Aug. 29, 2016
Today is Monday, Aug. 29, the 242nd day of 2016. There
are 124 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Aug. 29, 1966, the Beatles concluded their fourth
American tour with their last public concert, held at Candlestick Park in
On this date:
In 1533, the last Incan King of Peru, Atahualpa
(ah-tuh-WAHL'-puh), was executed on orders of Spanish conqueror Francisco
In 1877, the second president of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Brigham Young, died in Salt Lake City, Utah, at
In 1910, Korean Emperor Sunjong abdicated as the
Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty went into effect.
In 1935, the film "Top Hat," starring Fred Astaire and
Ginger Rogers, premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
In 1944, 15,000 American troops of the 28th Infantry
Division marched down the Champs Elysees (shahms ay-lee-ZAY') in Paris as
the French capital continued to celebrate its liberation from the Nazis.
In 1952, the composition 4'33" ("Four Minutes,
Thirty-three Seconds") by avant-garde composer John Cage premiered in
Woodstock, New York, as David Tudor sat down at a piano, shut the keyboard
lid, and, for four minutes and 33 seconds, played ... nothing.
In 1958, pop superstar Michael Jackson was born in
In 1965, Gemini 5, carrying astronauts Gordon Cooper
and Charles "Pete" Conrad, splashed down in the Atlantic after 8 days in
In 1972, swimmer Mark Spitz of the United States won
the third of his seven gold medals at the Munich Olympics, finishing first
in the 200-meter freestyle.
In 1981, broadcaster and world traveler Lowell Thomas
died in Pawling, New York, at age 89.
In 1996, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago
nominated Al Gore for a second term as vice president. Earlier in the day,
President Bill Clinton's chief political strategist, Dick Morris, resigned
amid a scandal over his relationship with a prostitute.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast near
Buras, Louisiana, bringing floods that devastated New Orleans. More than
1,800 people in the region died.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush visited New
Orleans one year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region to offer
comfort and hope to residents. Tropical Storm Ernesto's leading edge
drenched Miami and the rest of southern Florida.
Five years ago: In a sign Moammar Gadhafi had lost grip
on his country, his wife and three of his children fled Libya to neighboring
Algeria. Grammy-winning blues musician David "Honey Boy" Edwards, believed
to be the oldest surviving Delta bluesman, died in his Chicago home at age
One year ago: Church bells rang marking the decade
since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast; local and congressional
leaders laid wreaths at a memorial in New Orleans holding the unclaimed and
unidentified bodies from the deadly storm. An Egyptian court sentenced three
journalists for Al-Jazeera English to three years in prison for broadcasting
"false news," sparking an international outcry. Triple Crown winner American
Pharoah lost to Keen Ice in the $1.6 million Travers Stakes before a stunned
crowd at Saratoga Race Course. Author and motivational speaker Wayne W.
Dyer, 75, died in Hawaii.
Today's Birthdays: Actress Betty Lynn (TV: "The Andy
Griffith Show") is 90. Movie director William Friedkin is 81. Sen. John
McCain, R-Ariz., is 80. Actor Elliott Gould is 78. Movie director Joel
Schumacher is 77. TV personality Robin Leach is 75. Actress Deborah Van
Valkenburgh is 64. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is 61. Dancer-choreographer
Mark Morris is 60. Country musician Dan Truman (Diamond Rio) is 60. Actress
Rebecca DeMornay is 57. Singer Me'Shell NdegeOcello
(n-DAY'-gay-OH'-chehl-oh) is 48. Rhythm-and-blues singer Carl Martin (Shai)
is 46. Actress Carla Gugino is 45. Rock musician Kyle Cook (Matchbox Twenty)
is 41. Actor John Hensley is 39. Actress Kate Simses (TV:
"Dr. Ken") is 37. Rock
Plan) is 36. Rapper
A+ is 34. Actress Jennifer Landon is 33. Actor Jeffrey Licon is 31.
Actress-singer Lea Michele is 30. Actress Charlotte Ritchie (TV: "Call the
Midwife") is 27. Actress Nicole Gale Anderson is 26. Rock singer Liam Payne
(One Direction) is 23.
Thought for Today: "Whom the gods wish to destroy they
first call promising." — Cyril Connolly, British journalist-writer
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights
reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
More than 100 arrested, dozens hurt at Notting Hill Carnival
Dancers perform during the Children's Day parade
at the Notting Hill Carnival in west London, Sunday, Aug. 28. (Isabel
Infantes/PA via AP)
London (AP) — London police
arrested more than 100 people amid sporadic violence Sunday at the annual
Notting Hill Carnival, an annual celebration of Caribbean culture in the
British capital that often includes trouble on the sidelines.
The Metropolitan Police reported at
least four knife attacks during the opening day of the two-day festival in
west London. It said four males aged 15 to 20 were wounded, with one
15-year-old boy hospitalized in critical condition.
Sunday's festivities included a
colorful child-oriented parade through west London that attracted tens of
thousands of revelers, many of whom danced in the streets to the sound of
steel drums and reggae bands.
Scores of paramedics were on hand to
provide MASH-style units for carnival-goers injured or unwell from alcohol
or drugs. Medical beds were deployed at roadsides in some locations.
The London Ambulance Service reported
shortly before midnight that 411 people had received medical care at the
carnival, 77 of whom needed to be hospitalized.
Police said 105 people were arrested on
charges that included drug possession, carrying knives, assault, sexual
offenses and theft.
The carnival, founded in 1966 by West
Indian immigrants following the Notting Hill race riots of 1958, has
frequently involved clashes with police. Many local businesses have closed
during the event since 1977, when police stormed the carnival amid looting
of shops. The 2008 festivities ended in a street riot. Last year, police
arrested 407 people, a record for an event where knifings committed by youth
gangs have become a troubling trend. This year police have deployed a
7,000-strong force to keep the peace.
The carnival remains one of Europe's
biggest street parties with hundreds of thousands attending each year. It
takes place at the end of August on the last two days of a three-day
FARC sets permanent cease-fire under Colombia peace deal
Commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia or FARC, Rodrigo Londono, better known as Timochenko or Timoleon
Jimenez talks to the press, accompanied by Ivan Marquez, right, chief
negotiator of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and Pablo
Catatumbo, left, chief of the FARC's western bloc, in Havana, Cuba, Sunday,
August 28. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Havana (AP) — The commander of
Colombia's biggest rebel movement said Sunday its fighters will permanently
cease hostilities with the government beginning with the first minute of
Monday, as a result of their peace accord ending one of the world's
Rodrigo Londono, leader of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, made the announcement in Havana,
where the two sides negotiated for four years before announcing the peace
"Never again will parents be burying
their sons and daughters killed in the war," said Londono, who also known as
Timoshenko. "All rivalries and grudges will remain in the past."
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
announced on Friday that his military would cease attacks on the FARC
Colombia is expected to hold a national
referendum Oct. 2 to give voters the chance to approve the deal for ending a
half-century of political violence that has claimed more than 220,000 lives
and driven more than 5 million people from their homes
Top FARC commanders are planning to
gather one final time in mid-September to ratify the accord.
FARC guerrillas are supposed to turn
over their weapons within six months after the deal is formally signed. In
return, the FARC's still unnamed future political movement will be given a
minimum 10 congressional seats — five in the lower house, five in the Senate
— for two legislative periods.
In addition, 16 lower house seats will
be created for grassroots activists in rural areas traditionally neglected
by the state and in which existing political parties will be banned from
running candidates. Critics of the peace process contend that will further
boost the rebels' post-conflict political power.
After 2026, both arrangements would end
and the former rebels would have to demonstrate their political strength at
the ballot box.
Not all hostilities are ending under
the deal with the FARC. The much-smaller National Liberation Army remains
active in Colombia, although it is pursuing its own peace deal with the
Ganges overflows its banks in Indian holy town
In this Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 photo, boats are
docked at the Manikarnika Ghat, submerged by the flood waters in Varanasi,
India. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
Varanasi, India (AP) — As the
mighty Ganges River overflowed its banks this past week following heavy
monsoon rains, large parts of the Hindu holy town of Varanasi were submerged
by floodwaters, keeping away thousands of devotees.
Varanasi, located in northern India, is
a pilgrim town that Hindus visit to take a dip in the holy Ganges. Devout
Hindus believe that if they are cremated on Varanasi's ghats, or steps
leading to the river, they earn immediate salvation and are freed from the
cycle of birth and death.
The ones most affected by the floods
are those who have come to the town to cremate their loved ones. The
floodwaters have submerged the popular Manikarnika ghat and several others,
forcing local officials to appeal to people not to bring their dead for a
traditional cremation in Varanasi.
On Friday, some funeral pyres were lit
on the roofs of the houses located near the ghats because lower areas were
under water. Groups of people carrying the bodies of their relatives
thronged the single stretch of the river where funerals were still being
held as the Ganges' raging waters swirled nearby.
Meanwhile, local boatmen who ferry
pilgrims and grieving family members to the cremation sites have hiked their
rates, realizing that people could not carry the dead to the ghats. Lumber
traders have upped the price of wood used for the funeral pyres.
More than 200,000 people in Uttar
Pradesh state, where Varanasi is located, have been evacuated and are living
in relief camps, with floodwaters entering homes in about 800 villages
across large swaths of the state. Floods are an annual occurrence in many
parts of northern and eastern India during the June-September monsoon
Would-be bomber's explosives fail in Indonesia church
Indonesian police officers guard a church
compound following an attack during Sunday Mass in Medan, North Sumatra,
Indonesia, Sunday, Aug. 28. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — A
would-be suicide bomber's explosives failed to detonate in a packed church
in western Indonesia during Sunday Mass, and he injured a priest with an axe
before being restrained, police said.
The 18-year-old assailant left a bench
and ran toward the priest at the altar, but a bomb in his backpack only
burned without exploding, said national police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli
Before he was restrained by members of
the congregation, the man managed to take an axe from the backpack and
attacked the Rev. Albert Pandiangan, causing a slight injury to the
60-year-old priest's hand, Amar said.
The motive for the attack at the Roman
Catholic St. Yoseph Church in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province,
was not clear, but the perpetrator carried a symbol indicating support for
the Islamic State group.
Police were interrogating the man, who
told them he was not working alone, Amar said, without providing details.
Indonesia, the world's most populous
Muslim nation, has carried out a sustained crackdown on militant networks
since the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.
Italy probes whether negligence played role in quake toll
Firefighters stand by an excavator in Amatrice, central Italy, Sunday, Aug.
28. Bulldozers with huge claws pulled down dangerously overhanging ledges in
Italy's quake-devastated town of as investigators worked to figure out if
negligence or fraud in building codes had added to the quake's high death
toll. (Roberto Salomone/ANSA via AP)
Vanessa Gera, Frances D'emilio, Hakan Kaplan
Amatrice, Italy (AP) — Italian
authorities are vowing to investigate whether negligence or fraud in
adhering to building codes played a role in the high death toll in last
week's earthquake in Italy.
They also called for efforts to ensure
organized crime doesn't infiltrate lucrative construction contracts to
eventually rebuild much of the picturesque towns leveled in the disaster.
Meanwhile, rescue workers pressed on
with the task of recovering bodies from the rubble, with hopes of finding
any more survivors virtually vanished more than four full days after the
Over the past two days, they found six
more bodies in the rubble of Hotel Roma in Amatrice, the medieval hill town
in mountainous central Italy that bore the brunt of destruction and loss of
life in the powerful quake. They recovered three and by late Sunday were
still working to retrieve others that were hard to reach.
It wasn't clear if those six were
included in the overall 290 death toll given by authorities. The Civil
Protection agency, which combines the figures it receives from different
provinces affected by the quake, said the number is lower than the previous
toll of 291 dead due to a correction in the numbers from the province of
Rieti, where most of the victims died.
The quake that struck before dawn
Wednesday also injured nearly 400 people as it flattened three medieval
towns near the rugged Apennines. Prosecutor Giuseppe Saieva, based in the
nearby provincial capital of Rieti, said the high human death toll "cannot
only be considered the work of fate."
"The fault lines tragically did their
work and this is called destiny, but if the buildings had been built like in
Japan they would not have collapsed," Saieva said in comments carried by
Investigations are focusing on a number
of structures, including an elementary school in Amatrice that crumbled
despite being renovated in 2012 to resist earthquakes at a cost of 700,000
euros ($785,000). With schoolchildren's summer vacations in their final
weeks, the school wasn't yet in use. Many were shocked that it didn't
withstand the 6.2 magnitude quake.
After an entire first-grade class and a
teacher were killed in a 2002 quake in the southern town of San Giuliano di
Puglia, Italian officials had pledged citizens that the safety of schools,
hospitals and other critical public buildings would be guaranteed.
Questions also surround a bell tower in
Accumoli that collapsed, killing a family of four sleeping in a neighboring
house, including a baby of 8 months and a 7-year-old boy. That bell tower
also had been recently restored with special funds allocated after Italy's
last major earthquake, which struck nearby L'Aquila in 2009.
Italy's national anti-Mafia prosecutor,
Franco Roberti, vowed to work to prevent organized crime from infiltrating
public works projects which will be eventually begun to rebuild the
"This risk of infiltration is always
high," he said in comments Sunday in La Repubblica newspaper.
"Post-earthquake reconstruction is historically a tempting morsel for
criminal groups and colluding business interests."
Deadly quakes that have led to criminal
investigations into alleged misuse of funds or corruption involving awarding
of construction contracts include the 1980 temblor in the Naples area and a
2009 quake in L'Aquila, central Italy.
Roberti noted he wasn't involved in the
local prosecutors' probes into last week's quake. But he added that if
buildings are well-constructed according to regulations for earthquake-prone
zones, "parts of buildings can be damaged and cracked but they don't
pulverize and implode."
Italy's national museums, meanwhile,
embarked on a fundraising campaign, donating their Sunday proceeds to relief
and reconstruction efforts in the quake-stricken areas.
Besides homes and low-rise apartment
buildings, Wednesday's quake badly damaged scores of churches, town halls,
bell towers and other centuries-old cultural treasures. The idea is to use
art for art — harnessing the nation's rich artistic heritage to help repair
and restore other objects of beauty in the hard-hit towns.
"It's a way to rediscover our cultural
heritage, to give our small but significant contribution so that endangered
artwork that was gravely damaged may have a new chance, be restored and
recovered," Cristiana Collu, the director of Rome's National Gallery of
Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, said in an interview with The Associated
Also Sunday, Pope Francis told faithful
in St. Peter's Square he hopes to soon visit people in the quake-ravaged
regions to bring them "the comfort of faith."
Amatrice bore the brunt of earthquake's
destruction, with at least 229 fatalities and its medieval heart nearly
obliterated. Eleven others died in nearby Accumoli and 50 more in Arquata
del Tronto, 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Amatrice.
On Saturday, a state funeral took place
for 35 of the victims in the town of Ascoli Piceno, which escaped the heavy
damage of other towns in the region. That funeral involved most of the dead
from Arquata del Tronto. Some of the dead from Amatrice were still in the
town's makeshift morgue. Identified bodies were being kept in refrigerated
trucks in an airport hangar in Rieti, 65 kilometers (40 miles) away. On
Tuesday, a memorial service — without the bodies — will be held for the dead
of Amatrice on the town's outskirts.
The last survivor was extracted from
rubble on Wednesday evening, and hopes have virtually vanished of finding
any living in the ruins.
The number still missing is uncertain,
due to the many visitors seeking a last taste of summer in the cool hill
towns when the quake struck.
The quake left a few thousand people
without homes, with nearly 2,700 hosted in a total of 58 tent "towns" set up
on the outskirts of the ravaged areas, or improvised shelters, like a gym
with a basketball court in Amatrice.
They continue to be rattled by
aftershocks. There have been more than 2,000 since the initial quake, one
having a magnitude higher than 5 and 12 between 4- and 5-magnitude. A tremor
Saturday afternoon caused further damage to the school in Amatrice.
Countless more who fled damaged homes —
or even the ones without any heavy damage — went to stay with relatives in
Rome and other Italian cities.
Scientists exit Hawaii dome after yearlong Mars simulation
Six scientists celebrate as they exit from their
Mars simulation habitat on slopes of Mauna Loa on the Big Island, Hawaii,
Sunday, Aug. 28. (University of Hawaii via AP)
Hilo, Hawaii (AP) — Six
scientists have completed a yearlong Mars simulation in Hawaii, where they
lived in a dome in near isolation.
For the past year, the group in the
dome on a Mauna Loa mountain could go outside only while wearing spacesuits.
On Sunday, the simulation ended, and
the scientists emerged.
Cyprien Verseux, a crew member from
France, said the simulation shows a mission to Mars can succeed.
"I can give you my personal impression
which is that a mission to Mars in the close future is realistic. I think
the technological and psychological obstacles can be overcome," Verseux
Christiane Heinicke, a crew member from
Germany, said the scientists were able to find their own water in a dry
"Showing that it works, you can
actually get water from the ground that is seemingly dry. It would work on
Mars and the implication is that you would be able to get water on Mars from
this little greenhouse construct," she said.
Tristan Bassingthwaighte, a doctor of
architecture candidate at University of Hawaii, served as the crew's
"The UH research going on up here is
just super vital when it comes to picking crews, figuring out how people are
going to actually work on different kinds of missions, and sort out the
human factor element of space travel, colonization, whatever it is you are
actually looking at," Bassingthwaighte said.
Kim Binsted, principal investigator for
the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS), said the
researchers are looking forward to getting in the ocean and eating fresh
produce and other foods that weren't available in the dome.
"HI-SEAS is an example of international
collaborative research hosted and run by the University of Hawai'i. So it's
really exciting to be able to welcome the crew back to earth and back to
Hawai'i after a year on Mars," Binsted said.
NASA funded the study run through the
University of Hawaii. Binsted said the simulation was the second-longest of
its kind after a mission that lasted 520 days in Russia.
Scientists in the Hawaii simulation
managed limited resources while conducting research and working to avoid
Turkey-backed rebels expel Kurdish forces from Syrian towns
troops head to the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, Saturday, Aug. 27.
(AP Photo/Halit Onur Sandal)
Sarah El Deeb
Beirut (AP) — Rebels backed by
Turkey made major gains Sunday in northern Syria, expelling Kurdish-led
forces from towns and villages as part of a determined campaign by Ankara to
push the militants east of the Euphrates River.
At least 35 civilians were killed,
according to activists. The dramatic escalation of Turkey's involvement in
the Syrian civil war last week aimed to help the Syrian rebels drive the
Islamic State group out of the border town of Jarablus. But it also is aimed
at U.S.-allied Kurdish forces that have gained control in recent months of
most of the territory along the Turkey-Syria border.
The fighting pits Turkey, a NATO ally,
against a U.S.-backed proxy that is the most effective ground force battling
IS militants in Syria in the 5-year-old civil war. It leaves Washington in
the tough spot of having to choose between two of its allied forces, and is
likely to divert resources from the fight against IS.
A Turkish soldier was killed by a
Kurdish rocket attack late Saturday, the first such fatality in Turkey's
ground offensive dubbed Euphrates Shield that began Aug. 24.
Speaking at a rally in the border town
of Gaziantep, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his military is
committed to fighting terrorism in Syria and Iraq.
Turkey, he said, also is determined to
"uproot" the Syrian Kurdish group, calling it a terrorist organization. But
he didn't specify a goal for the fight against the Kurdish forces.
Turkey is part of the U.S.-led
coalition fighting the militants of the Islamic State group, but the
airstrikes that began Saturday marked the first time it has targeted
Kurdish-led forces in Syria.
"We will support all work to clean
Syria and Iraq of Daesh," Erdogan told the rally, using an Arabic acronym
for the IS group. "That's why we are in Jarablus, that's why we are in
Bashiqa (in Iraq). If necessary, we will not shy away from taking
responsibility in the same way in other areas."
Turkey has troops stationed in Bashiqa
in northern Iraq, and it was not clear if his reference to Jarablus means he
intends to base his troops there.
Erdogan then turned his focus to the
main Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, known as the PYD.
"We are as determined about the PYD,
the separatist terror organization's Syrian wing," he said. Ankara views the
PYD and the militia affiliated with it, which forms the backbone of the
U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces, or SDF, as an extension of the Kurdish
insurgency that is raging in southeastern Turkey.
"We will continue until we uproot this
terror organization," Erdogan told the rally.
A spokesman for a Syrian rebel group
said the Turkish-backed offensive will continue south of Jarablus to clear
IS and Kurdish forces from northeastern Aleppo. Turkish leaders have vowed
to drive both IS and the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, away
from the border.
Turkey's military said Sunday its
warplanes killed 25 Kurdish "terrorists" and destroyed five buildings used
by the fighters in response to attacks on advancing Turkish-backed rebels in
the Jarablus area.
Various factions of the Turkey-backed
Syrian rebels said they had seized several villages and towns from
Kurdish-led forces south of Jarablus, including Amarneh, where fighting was
fiercest in recent days.
The Kurdish-led forces "must pull back
to the east of the Euphrates. We will fight all terrorist groups, including
(the Kurdish-led fighters) ... in all of northeast Aleppo," said Capt.
Abdel-Salam Abdel-Razzak, a spokesman for the Nour el-Din el-Zinki group.
Turkish-backed fighters will move south
of Jarablus, toward Manbij and beyond, he said.
Earlier this month, the Kurdish-led SDF
crossed the Euphrates and drove IS militants out of Manbij, a key supply hub
south of Jarablus, after a 10-week campaign. Both Turkey and the United
States have ordered the YPG militia to withdraw to the east bank of the
river. YPG leaders say they have, but their units advise the Syrian
Democratic Forces, and it is not clear if any remain west of the Euphrates.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights said the bombing killed at least 20 civilians and four
Kurdish-led fighters in Beir Koussa, a village about nine miles (15
kilometers) south of Jarablus, and left another 15 dead in a village to the
SDF spokesman Shervan Darwish said the
airstrikes and shelling began overnight and continued Sunday along the front
line, killing many civilians in Beir Koussa and nearby areas. He said the
bombing also targeted the village of Amarneh. He said 50 Turkish tanks were
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party
condemned the attack on the village. It also condemned what it said was
international silence regarding "Turkish occupation" of Syria.
The Syrian state news agency SANA
reported that 20 civilians were killed and 50 wounded by Turkish artillery
and airstrikes, calling it "encroachment" on Syrian sovereignty under the
pretext of fighting IS. Turkey is a leading backer of the rebels fighting to
overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, but both Ankara and Damascus share
concerns over Kurdish ambitions for autonomy.
Syrian warplanes renewed their bombing
of the besieged al-Waer neighborhood in the central city of Homs. An
activist in the neighborhood of Bebars al-Talawy said there were at least a
dozen airstrikes, killing one person.
The neighborhood came under attack
Saturday, including incendiary bombs that killed two children, a brother and
sister. Images of doctors treating other children for their burns were
posted on social media sites. The district's hospital was bombed and taken
out of operation earlier this month.
Human Rights Watch said it had
documented the use of incendiary weapons in at least 18 different instances
between June and August in rebel-held areas. The group blamed Russian and
Syrian joint military operations room for the use of such weapons in
violation of international law.
The al-Waer neighborhood of nearly
75,000 people has been under siege since March and has been one area that
U.N agencies have reported difficult to access. An aid convoy reached the
area Aug. 25.
According to residents, the escalation
followed recent threats by soldiers at checkpoints that the Syrian
government's patience was running out with the district, the last rebel
holdout in the city.
It also follows the evacuation of
Daraya, a Damascus suburb, as part of a deal struck between the government
and rebels after a bombing campaign and siege.
The Homs Local Council appealed to the
U.N. envoy to Syria to negotiate a truce for al-Waer, condemning the
government's "siege policy" that aims to force residents and fighters to
Top French court rules burkini bans violate basic freedoms
A bylaw forbidding women to wear burkini is
posted on an information panel at a public beach in Villeneuve-Loubet,
French Riviera, southern France, Friday, Aug. 26. France's top
administrative court has overturned Villeneuve-Loubet's burkini ban after
some Muslim women were ordered to remove body-concealing garments on French
Riviera beaches. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Paris (AP) — France's top
administrative court on Friday overturned a ban on burkinis in a
Mediterranean beach resort, effectively meaning that towns can no longer
issue bans on the swimsuits that have divided the country and brought world
attention to its fraught relationship with Muslims.
The ruling by the Council of State
specifically concerns a ban on the Muslim garment in the Riviera town of
Villeneuve-Loubet, but the binding decision is expected to impact all the 30
or so French resort municipalities that have issued similar decrees.
The bans grew increasingly
controversial as images circulated online of some Muslim women being ordered
to remove body-concealing garments on French Riviera beaches.
Lawyers for a human rights group and a
Muslim collective challenged the legality of the ban to the top court,
saying the orders infringe on basic freedoms and that mayors have
overstepped their powers by telling women what to wear on beaches.
Despite the court victory, the debate
was unlikely to go away. Prime Minister Manual Valls, who supported the
bans, called the debate "fundamental" for secular France, where religious
displays are unwelcome in the public space.
Valls wrote on his Facebook page that
denouncing the burkini "in no way puts into question individual freedom" and
is really about denouncing "fatal, retrograde Islamism." The burkini, he
wrote, "is the affirmation of political Islam in the public space."
Mayors had cited multiple reasons for
the bans, including security after a string of Islamic extremist attacks,
risk to public order, and France's strict rules on secularism in public
The Council of State ruled that, "The
emotion and concerns arising from the terrorist attacks, notably the one
perpetrated in Nice on July 14, cannot suffice to justify in law the
contested prohibition measure."
It ruled that the mayor of
Villeneuve-Loubet overstepped his powers by enacting measures that are not
justified by "proven risks of disruptions to public order nor, moreover, on
reasons of hygiene or decency."
"The contested decree has thus brought
a serious and manifestly illegal infringement on basic freedoms such as
freedom to come and go, freedom of conscience and personal freedom," the
Lawyer Patrice Spinosi, representing
the Human Rights League, said that women who have already received fines can
protest them based on Friday's decision. He told The Associated Press the
group plans to ask all French mayors who banned burkinis to withdraw their
orders and, if they refuse to do so, he will systematically take each case
"It is a decision that is meant to set
legal precedent," Spinosi said to reporters earlier outside the court.
"Today all the ordinances taken should conform to the decision of the
Council of State. Logically the mayors should withdraw these ordinances. If
not, legal actions could be taken" against those towns.
The head of the Collective Against
Islamophobia in France, the other group that appealed to the top court,
hailed the decision but lamented that the crackdown "will remain engraved in
the history of our country."
"One cannot take back the harm which
was caused, humiliations that were provoked," Marwan Muhammad told reporters
outside the court.
The bans have become a symbol of
tensions around the place of Islam in secular France and the heated debate
has brought about divisions even among cabinet ministers.
While Valls argued that burkinis
oppress women, two ministers in his cabinet, Education Minister Najat
Vallaud-Belkacem and Health Minister Marisol Touraine, have said banning
burkinis is not a good option. Vallaud-Belkacem, a feminist with North
African roots, argued that while she doesn't like the burkini swimsuit,
banning the garment amounted to a politically driven act that encouraged
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve,
who is also in charge of faiths, said that "it is now up to everyone to seek
The conservative mayor of
Villeneuve-Loubet, Lionnel Luca, said that "far from calming, this decision
can only heighten passions and tensions, with the risk of trouble we wanted
Luca, also a lawmaker, said that now
only a law can stop troubles. He denounced a "rampant Islamization" in the
country and said that, with Friday's ruling, "they've gained a small
While addressing only one local ban,
the Council of State sets general principles in its ruling that any mayors
will now have to abide by when using their powers in the future.
Technically, other local bans are still
in effect until mayors revoke them or groups contest them in courts. But de
facto the town decrees are hollow because burkini fines can be contested.
Nevertheless, the mayor of the Corsican
town of Sisco said he wouldn't lift the ban he imposed after an Aug. 13
clash on a beach. "Here the tension is very, very, very high and I won't
withdraw it," Ange-Pierre Vivoni said on BFM-TV.
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who
announced this week he's seeking the conservative nomination for the 2017
race, said at a rally Thursday night in southern France that he wants a law
banning the burkini "on the entire territory of the Republic."
Far-right National Front leader Marine
Le Pen said the battle is not over. She said in a statement that lawmakers
must vote "as quickly as possible" to extend a 2004 law that bans Muslim
headscarves and other ostentatious religious symbols in classrooms to
include all public spaces.
"The burkini would obviously be part of
it," said Le Pen, who is running for president in the 2017 race.
President Francois Hollande has
remained neutral on the issue, arguing that society "presumes that each
person conforms to the rules, and that there is neither provocation nor
But critics said the bans had been
feeding a racist political agenda.
Amnesty International praised the court
decision Friday, calling the local decrees "invasive and discriminatory" and
saying their enforcement has led to "abuses and the degrading treatment of
Muslim women and girls."
Today in History - Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016
is Sunday, Aug. 28, the 241st day of 2016. There are 125 days left in the
Today's Highlight in History:
On Aug. 28, 1963, as more than
200,000 people listened, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I
Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
On this date:
In 1609, English sea explorer Henry
Hudson and his ship, the Half Moon, reached present-day Delaware Bay.
In 1862, the Second Battle of Bull
Run (also known as Second Manassas) began in Prince William County,
Virginia, during the Civil War; the result was a Confederate victory.
In 1916, Italy declared war on
Germany during World War I.
In 1922, the first-ever radio
commercial aired on station WEAF in New York City; the 10-minute
advertisement was for the Queensboro Realty Co., which had paid a fee of
In 1941, Japan's ambassador to the
U.S., Kichisaburo Nomura, presented a note to President Franklin D.
Roosevelt from the Japanese prime minister, Prince Fumimaro Konoye,
expressing a desire for improved relations; Roosevelt responded that he
considered the note a step forward.
In 1945, the Allies began occupying
Japan at the end of World War II.
In 1955, Emmett Till, a black
teen-ager from Chicago, was abducted from his uncle's home in Money,
Mississippi, by two white men after he had supposedly whistled at a white
woman; he was found brutally slain three days later.
In 1968, police and anti-war
demonstrators clashed in the streets of Chicago as the Democratic National
Convention nominated Hubert H. Humphrey for president.
In 1972, Mark Spitz of the United
States won the first two of his seven gold medals at the Munich Olympics,
finishing first in the 200-meter butterfly and anchoring the 400-meter
freestyle relay. The Soviet women gymnasts won the team all-around.
In 1988, 70 people were killed when
three Italian stunt planes collided during an air show at the U.S. Air Base
in Ramstein (RAHM'-shtyn), West Germany.
In 1990, an F5 tornado struck the
Chicago area, killing 29 people.
In 1996, Democrats nominated
President Bill Clinton for a second term at their national convention in
Chicago. The troubled 15-year marriage of Britain's Prince Charles and
Princess Diana officially ended with the issuing of a divorce decree.
Ten years ago: Prosecutors in
Colorado abruptly dropped their case against John Mark Karr in the slaying
of JonBenet Ramsey, saying DNA tests had failed to put him at the crime
scene despite his insistence that he killed the 6-year-old beauty queen in
1996. President George W. Bush visited the Gulf Coast on the eve of the
one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Columbus, Georgia, beat Kawaguchi
City, Japan, 2-1 to win the Little League World Series championship game.
Five years ago: A suicide bomber
blew himself up inside Baghdad's largest Sunni mosque, killing 29 people
during prayers. California returned the Little League World Series title to
the United States with a 2-1 victory over Hamamatsu City, Japan. Katy Perry
won three MTV Video Music Awards, including video of the year for the
inspirational clip "Firework"; during the broadcast, Beyonce announced she
was pregnant with her first child (Blue Ivy Carter was born in Jan. 2012).
One year ago: President Barack Obama
compared tensions between the U.S. and Israel over the Iranian nuclear deal
to a family feud, and said in a webcast with Jewish Americans that he
expected quick improvements in ties between the longtime allies once the
accord was implemented. A jury in Concord, New Hampshire, acquitted Owen
Labrie, a prep school graduate, of rape but convicted him of committing
lesser sex offenses against a 15-year-old freshman girl in a case that
exposed a tradition in which seniors competed to see how many younger
students they could have sex with.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Sonny
Shroyer is 81. Actor Ken Jenkins is 76. Former Defense Secretary William S.
Cohen is 76. Actor David Soul is 73. Former pop singer-musician Honey
Lantree (The Honeycombs) is 73. Former MLB manager and player Lou Piniella
is 73. Actress Barbara Bach is 70. Actress Debra Mooney is 69. Singer Wayne
Osmond (The Osmonds) is 65. Actor Daniel Stern is 59. Olympic gold medal
figure skater Scott Hamilton is 58. Actor John Allen Nelson is 57. Actress
Emma Samms is 56. Actress Jennifer Coolidge is 55. Movie director David
Fincher is 54. Actress Amanda
is 51. Country
singer Shania (shah-NY'-uh) Twain is 51. Actor
Billy Boyd is 48. Actor Jack Black is 47. Actor Jason Priestley is 47.
Janet Evans is 45. Actor J. August Richards is 43. Rock singer-musician Max
Collins (Eve 6) is 38. Actress Carly Pope is 36. Country singer Jake Owen is
35. Country singer LeAnn Rimes is 34. Actress Kelly Thiebaud (TV: "General
Hospital") is 34. Actor Alfonso Herrera (TV: "The Exorcist") is 33. Actress
Sarah Roemer is 32. Actor Armie Hammer is 30. Rock singer Florence Welch
(Florence and the Machine) is 30. Actress Shalita Grant (TV: "NCIS: New
Orleans") is 28. Country-pop singer Cassadee Pope (TV: "The Voice") is 27.
Actress Katie Findlay is 26. Actor/singer Samuel Larsen is 25. Actor Kyle
Massey is 25. Actress Quvenzhane (kwuh-VEHN'-zhah-nay) Wallis is 13. Reality
TV star Alana Thompson, AKA "Honey Boo Boo," is 11.
Thought for Today: "One starts to
get young at the age of 60 and then it is too late." — Pablo Picasso,
Spanish artist (1881-1973).
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten or redistributed.
Clinton says controversies behind her; Trump begs to differ
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton pauses as she speaks at a campaign event at Truckee Meadows
Community College, in Reno, Nev., Thursday, Aug. 25. (AP Photo/Carolyn
Lisa Lerer, Ken Thomas
New York (AP) — Hillary Clinton
vigorously defended her family's foundation against Donald Trump's criticism
on Friday and declared she's confident there will be no major further
accusations involving the foundation, her emails or anything else that could
undermine her chances of defeating him in November.
She said the private Clinton
Foundation's charitable programs would continue if she's elected, even as
Trump and other critics argue they would present a conflict of interest.
In an interview on MSNBC's "Morning
Joe," the Democratic presidential nominee kept up her verbal assault on
Trump's campaign, asserting it is built on "prejudice and paranoia" and
caters to a radical fringe of the Republican Party.
Clinton is looking to counter Trump's
attempts to win over moderate voters who have been unsettled by some of his
remarks and policy proposals. In the meantime, he has been softening his
tone on immigration and reaching out to African-Americans, a traditional
Clinton is also targeting moderate
voters — and especially Republicans — by depicting Trump and his supporters
as extremists, and casting the race as "not a normal choice between a
Republican and a Democrat." She has contrasted Trump with former Republican
presidential candidates John McCain and Bob Dole, and former President
George W. Bush, praising their decisive steps to counter racism and
In turn, Trump is trying to paint
Clinton as the racist.
He has released an online video that
includes footage of the former first lady referring to some young criminals
as "super predators" in the 1990s. The video also shows Clinton's former
Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, denouncing the phrase as "a racist term."
Clinton has since apologized.
Trump tweeted Friday: "How quickly
people forget that Crooked Hillary called African-American youth "SUPER
PREDATORS" - Has she apologized?"
Trump says Clinton is trying to
distract from questions swirling around donations to the Clinton Foundation
and her use of her private email servers for official business while
secretary of state. On Friday, he also continued his recent push to broaden
his base of support among minority voters, convening a roundtable with
Latino backers at his hotel in Las Vegas.
But his new outreach comes amid his own
mixed signals on his immigration plan, including whether or not he would
stick with a primary campaign promise to deport 11 million immigrants living
in the United States illegally.
In her phone interview with MSNBC,
Clinton was asked if she was certain there are no emails or Clinton
Foundation ties to foreign entities that would affect her presidential
prospects. She replied, "I am sure," and mentioned her strong understanding
about the foundation's work.
But neither that issue nor her emails
appears to be going away soon.
The State Department now says it
doesn't expect to publicly produce all the detailed daily schedules showing
meetings by Clinton covering her time as secretary of state before Election
The agency told The Associated Press it
expects to release the last of the files around Dec. 30. The AP's lawyers
asked the department late Friday to hasten its efforts and provide all of
her minute-by-minute schedules by Oct. 15. The department did not
The schedules took on new importance
this week after the AP analyzed the ones released so far and found that more
than half the people outside the government who met or spoke by telephone
with Clinton during the first half of her time as secretary of state had
given money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the
Clinton Foundation. The AP's analysis focused on people with private
interests and excluded her meetings or calls with federal employees or
foreign government representatives.
On Friday, Clinton promised to put in
place additional safeguards to prevent conflicts of interest with her
foundation should she win the White House.
"I appreciate the concerns that people
have expressed, and that's why I have made it clear that if I'm successful
in November we are going to be taking additional steps," she said. She said
the foundation's charitable programs has been "in line with American
interests and values" and must continue, perhaps through partnerships with
Top Republicans have found common
ground with Trump in his criticism of the Clinton Foundation and her use of
the email server. But they have been noticeably quiet in defending Trump
against Clinton's charges of racism in his campaign.
Hungarian PM Orban urges EU to build an army of its own
Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, right, welcomes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor
Orban, left, before the Visegrad Group Prime Ministers' meeting with German
Chancellor Angela Merkel in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, Aug. 26. (AP
Warsaw, Poland (AP) — Hungary's
prime minister urged the European Union on Friday to make security a
priority and build an army of its own.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban spoke in
Warsaw before heading into talks on EU's future with German Chancellor
Angela Merkel and leaders of three other central European nations. The
talks, in preparation for an EU summit next month, focused on security
concerns and migrants.
"We must give priority to security and
so let's start setting up a joint European army," Orban said.
He was seconded by Czech Prime Minister
Bohuslav Sobotka, who said building a joint army will not be an "easy
project" but added that the 28-nation EU needed better cooperation on
defense issues and border protections.
Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo,
meanwhile, called for setting up a European border guard to protect the
Merkel said many security projects have
been neglected, like registering travelers into and out of the visa-free
Earlier in the day, Orban told
Hungarian state radio that Hungary will build a new, "more massive" fence on
its southern border to defend against a possible surge in the number of
migrants. He has previously called migrants "poison."
Merkel's meeting in Warsaw with the
leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary came ahead of an
EU summit in Bratislava, Slovakia, next month without Britain. One of the
main topics was to discuss Britain's vote to leave the group.
The four central European nations have
been critical of many EU policies, including ones pressing for nations to
accept more migrants. They are also pushing for changes that would give
individual EU members more leeway, saying that the EU's rigid policies have
led to the British departure.
Merkel said holding a summit at a place
different than Brussels will give EU leaders a better feeling for "what
Indonesia steps up fire response as haze blankets Singapore
A river taxi
is dwarfed against the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort on a hazy day,
Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Singapore.
(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Niniek Karmini, Stephen Wright
Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — Six
Indonesian provinces have declared states of emergency as forest fires
blanketed a swath of Southeast Asia in a smoky haze.
Singapore's air quality deteriorated to
unhealthy levels on Friday as winds blew smoke from fires on Sumatra, where
millions of people are already affected by haze, across the city-state and
into southern Malaysia.
The number of hotspots detected in
Sumatra and Borneo by weather satellites has increased in the past month
though they are below levels last year when massive fires in Indonesia
caused a regional crisis.
Singapore's three-hour air pollution
index was at 157 by late afternoon, after peaking at 215. Its environment
agency doesn't give a health warning with the limited duration index, but on
a 24-hour basis it says levels above 100 are unhealthy and above 200 very
"The smell of smoke woke me up. I
thought something was burning outside," said Singaporean copywriter Lim Jia
Ying, who put on a mask for her commute to work. "I'm having a cough and
it's getting worse. Luckily, I found a face mask at home," she said.
Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency
said six provinces which have a combined population of more than 23 million
people have declared emergencies, allowing firefighting measures to go into
full effect including aerial water drops.
The haze is an annual problem for
Southeast Asia, but last year's fires were the worst since 1997, straining
relations between Indonesia and its neighbors. About 261,000 hectares
(644,931 acres) burned, causing billions of dollars in economic losses for
Many of the fires are deliberately set
by agricultural conglomerates and small-time farmers to clear forests and
peatland for plantations.
National police chief Tito Karnavian
said Friday that 85 people have been arrested this year for starting fires.
About 2,800 hectares (6,918 acres) have
burned so far this year, according to Indonesia's Forestry Ministry.
Separately, Indonesia's Supreme Court
has rejected an appeal by a palm oil company PT Kallista Alam that was
ordered to pay compensation of 366 billion rupiah ($28 million) for burning
peatlands, according to a decision published this month on the court's
Quake damaged roads threaten access to Italy town
carry away a body of a woman found in a collapsed house, in Amatrice,
central Italy, Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. Strong aftershocks rattled residents
and rescue crews alike Friday as hopes began to dim that firefighters would
find any more survivors from Wednesday's earthquake. (AP Photo/Andrew
Paolo Santalucia, Nicole Winfield
Amatrice, Italy (AP) — Rescue
workers acknowledged Friday they might not find any more survivors from
Italy's earthquake as they confronted a new obstacle to their recovery work:
a powerful aftershock that damaged two key access bridges to hard-hit
Amatrice, threatening to isolate it.
Mayor Sergio Pirozzi, warned that if
new roads weren't quickly cleared to bypass the damaged ones, Amatrice
risked being cut off at a time it needs as many transport options as
possible to bring emergency crews in and some of the 281 dead out.
"With the aftershocks yesterday but
especially this morning the situation has worsened considerably," Pirozzi
told reporters. "We have to make sure Amatrice does not become isolated, or
risk further help being unable to get through."
The biggest aftershock struck at 6:28
a.m., one of the more than 1,000 that have hit the area since Wednesday's
quake. The U.S. Geological Service said it had a magnitude of 4.7, while the
Italian geophysics institute measured it at 4.8.
It left one key access bridge to
Amatrice unusable, and damaged another one. Crews began clearing trees to
create an alternate bypass road to avoid the nearly 40-kilometer (25-mile)
detour up and down mountain roads that they were forced to use Friday,
slowing the rescue effort.
Even before the roads were shut down,
traffic into and out of Amatrice was horribly congested with emergency
vehicles and dump trucks carrying tons of concrete, rocks and metal down the
Multiple ambulances were also bringing
the dead to an airport hangar in the provincial capital of Rieti, where four
big white refrigerated trucks created a makeshift morgue to which relatives
came in a steady stream Friday.
Premier Matteo Renzi declared a state
of emergency and authorized 50 million euros ($56 million) for immediate
quake relief. The Italian government also declared Saturday a day of
national mourning and scheduled a state funeral to be attended by President
Thirty-four caskets were lined up in a
gym in Ascoli Piceno ahead of Saturday's Mass. A memorial service for the
Amatrice victims is scheduled for next week.
The first private funeral took place in
Rome on Friday for the son of a provincial police chief who was honored at
one of Rome's most important basilicas. One of Pope Francis' top advisers
celebrated a funeral Mass for seven other victims south of Rome.
Rescue efforts continued, but by
nightfall, two full days had passed since the last person was extracted
alive from the rubble.
"There is still hope to find survivors
under the rubble, even in these hours," Walter Milan, a rescue worker, said
Friday. But he conceded: "Certainly, it will be very unlikely."
The head of the firefighting squad,
Bruno Frattasi, said there was always hope of finding someone alive. But by
Friday he was talking more about time running out and recovery efforts.
"We hope to recover all the bodies," he
said. "It's necessary because even if they didn't make it, they must be
returned to their families."
He said the toll had stabilized in the
Arquata area of eastern Le Marche region, with 49 dead and no one else
unaccounted for. In Amatrice, the situation was more uncertain; Mayor
Pirozzi has estimated there could still be 15 people unaccounted for.
The vast majority of the dead were
found in leveled Amatrice, the medieval hilltop town famous for its bacon
and tomato pasta sauce. On Friday, three more bodies were pulled from the
rubble in Amatrice, bringing the death toll there to 221.
On Friday, Pirozzi insisted the
historic center of the town would be rebuilt as it was — not left to rubble
and a "New Town" built. That was the strategy used in L'Aquila in nearby
Abruzzo, where the historic center was demolished in the 2009 quake and
modern housing built miles away for residents.
"I don't want — and this is shared by
everyone — a ghetto," Pirozzi said of the widely criticized "New Town"
model. "Each community must remain where it is because what is needed is a
sense of belonging."
He said local and regional leaders also
agreed that temporary housing for the homeless will involve pre-fab
Alpine-style villas in the places where existing communities were, complete
with schools, saying the important thing was to give residents hope and keep
their sense of community.
"I'm convinced Amatrice will be reborn,
because no night is long enough to prevent the sun from rising," he
US, Russia fall short on deal to restore Syria truce
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, brief the media after their
meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, Aug. 26. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone
Matthew Lee, Jamey Keaten
Geneva (AP) — The United States
and Russia said Friday they had resolved a number of issues standing in the
way of restoring a nationwide truce to Syria and opening up aid deliveries,
but were unable once again to forge a comprehensive agreement on stepping up
cooperation to end the brutal war that has killed hundreds of thousands.
After meeting off-and-on for nearly 10
hours in Geneva on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov could point to only incremental progress in
filling in details of a broad understanding to boost joint efforts that was
reached last month in Moscow.
Their failure to reach an overall deal
highlighted the increasingly complex situation on the ground in Syria —
including new Russian-backed Syrian government attacks on opposition forces,
the intermingling of some of those opposition forces with an al-Qaida
affiliate not covered by the truce and the surrender of a rebel-held suburb
of Damascus — as well as deep divisions and mistrust dividing Washington and
The complexities have also grown with
the increasing internationalization of what has largely become a proxy war
between regional and world powers, highlighted by a move by Turkish troops
across the Syrian border against Islamic State fighters this week.
Kerry said he and Lavrov had agreed on
the "vast majority" of technical discussions on steps to reinstate a
cease-fire and improve humanitarian access. But critical sticking points
remain unresolved and experts will remain in Geneva with an eye toward
finalizing those in the coming days, he said.
"We are close," Kerry said. "But we are
not going to rush to an agreement until it satisfies fully the needs of the
Lavrov echoed that, saying "we still
need to finalize a few issues" and pointed to the need to separate fighters
from the al-Nusra Front, which has ties to al-Qaida, from U.S.-backed
fighters who hold parts of northwest Syria.
"We have continued our efforts to
reduce the areas where we lack understanding and trust, which is an
achievement," Lavrov said. "The mutual trust is growing with every meeting."
Yet, it was clear that neither side
believes an overall agreement is imminent or even achievable after numerous
previous disappointments shattered a brief period of relative calm earlier
The inability to wrest an agreement
between Russia and the U.S. — as the major sponsors of the opposing sides in
the stalled Syria peace talks — all but spells another missed deadline for
the U.N. Syria envoy to get the Syrian government and "moderate" opposition
back to the table.
The U.N. envoy, Staffan de Mistura,
briefly sat in Friday with Kerry and Lavrov. After missing an initial target
date of Aug. 1, de Mistura had hoped to restart the intra-Syrian discussions
toward political transition in late August. He suspended the talks in late
April after a resurgence in the fighting.
Friday's meeting came a month after the
Kerry and Lavrov met in Moscow and agreed on a number of unspecified actions
to get the all-but-ignored truce back in force. However, as in Moscow,
neither Kerry nor Lavrov would describe them in detail.
In a nod to previous failed attempts to
resurrect the cessation of hostilities, Kerry stressed the importance of
keeping the details secret.
"We do not want to make an announcement
... that is not enforceable, that doesn't have details worked out, that
winds up in the place that the last two announcements have wound up," Kerry
said. "Until we have, neither of us are prepared to make an announcement
that is predicated for failure. We don't want a deal for the sake of the
deal, we want a deal that is effective."
And, underscoring deep differences over
developments on the ground, Kerry noted that Russia disputes the U.S.
"narrative" of recent attacks on heavily populated areas being conducted by
Syrian forces, Russia itself and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia.
Russia maintains the attacks it has been involved in have targeted
legitimate terrorist targets, while the U.S. says they have hit moderate
Expectations had been low for the
talks, particularly given how efforts to forge a new U.S.-Russia
understanding have fallen short virtually every month for the past five
At the same time, the Obama
administration is not of one mind regarding the Russians. The Pentagon has
publicly complained about getting drawn into greater cooperation with Russia
even though it has been forced recently to expand communication with Moscow.
Last week, the U.S. had to call for Russian help when Syrian warplanes
struck an area not far from where U.S. troops were operating.
U.S. officials say it is imperative
that Russia use its influence with Syrian President Bashar Assad to halt all
attacks on moderate opposition forces, open humanitarian aid corridors, and
concentrate any offensive action on the Islamic State group and other
extremists not covered by what has become a largely ignored truce.
For their part, U.S. officials say they
are willing to press rebels groups they support harder on separating
themselves from the Islamic State and al-Nusra, which despite a recent name
change is still viewed as al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria.
Those goals are not new, but recent
developments have made achieving them even more urgent and important,
according to U.S. officials. Recent developments include military operations
around the city of Aleppo, the entry of Turkey into the ground war, Turkish
hostility toward U.S.-backed Kurdish rebel groups and the presence of
American military advisers in widening conflict zones.
Meanwhile, in a blow to the opposition,
rebel forces and civilians in the besieged Damascus suburb of Daraya were to
be evacuated on Friday after agreeing to surrender the town late Thursday
after four years of grueling bombardment and a crippling siege that left the
sprawling area in ruins.
The surrender of Daraya, which became
an early symbol of the nascent uprising against Assad, marks a success for
his government, removing a persistent threat only a few miles from his seat
Referring to Daraya, Lavrov said: "This
is an example I think will get some following." He said the Russian
military's reconciliation center in Syria has received a request from
another area to organize a similar operation — with Russian mediation.
Today in History - Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016
is Saturday, Aug. 27, the 240th day of 2016. There are 126 days left in the
Today's Highlight in History:
On Aug. 27, 1883, the island volcano
Krakatoa erupted with a series of cataclysmic explosions; the resulting
tidal waves in Indonesia's Sunda Strait claimed some 36,000 lives in Java
On this date:
In 1776, the Battle of Long Island
began during the Revolutionary War as British troops attacked American
forces, who ended up being forced to retreat two days later.
In 1908, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the
36th president of the United States, was born near Stonewall, Texas.
In 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Pact was
signed in Paris, outlawing war and providing for the peaceful settlement of
In 1939, the first turbojet-powered
aircraft, the Heinkel He 178, went on its first full-fledged test flight
In 1949, a violent white mob prevented
an outdoor concert headlined by Paul Robeson from taking place near
Peekskill, New York. (The concert was held eight days later.)
In 1957, the USS Swordfish, the second
Skate Class nuclear submarine, was launched from the Portsmouth Naval
Shipyard in Maine.
In 1962, the United States launched the
Mariner 2 space probe, which flew past Venus in December 1962.
In 1965, influential Swiss-born
architect Le Corbusier, 77, died in Cap Martin, France.
In 1975, Haile Selassie (HY'-lee
sehl-AH'-see), the last emperor of Ethiopia's 3,000-year-old monarchy, died
in Addis Ababa at age 83 almost a year after being overthrown.
In 1979, British war hero Lord Louis
Mountbatten and three other people, including his 14-year-old grandson
Nicholas, were killed off the coast of Ireland in a boat explosion claimed
by the Irish Republican Army.
In 1989, the first U.S. commercial
satellite rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida — a Delta booster
carrying a British communications satellite, the Marcopolo 1.
In 2008, Barack Obama was nominated for
president by the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Ten years ago: A Comair CRJ-100 crashed
after trying to take off from the wrong runway in Lexington, Kentucky,
killing 49 people and leaving the co-pilot the sole survivor. Two Fox News
journalists, Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig, were freed by militants
nearly two weeks after being kidnapped in Gaza City. The action series "24"
won Emmys for best drama series and best actor for Kiefer Sutherland; "The
Office" was honored as best comedy.
Five years ago: Hurricane Irene, after
striking Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, pushed up the U.S east coast,
prompting evacuations in New York City and leaving major flood damage in
Vermont. Hundreds of soldiers and federal agents raided a casino in
Monterrey in northern Mexico, two days after an arson attack on a gambling
house killed 52 people.
One year ago: Visiting residents on
tidy porch stoops and sampling the fried chicken at a corner restaurant,
President Barack Obama held out the people of New Orleans as an
extraordinary example of renewal and resilience 10 years after the
devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Ex-NBA star Darryl Dawkins, 58, whose
board-shattering dunks earned him the moniker "Chocolate Thunder" and helped
pave the way for breakaway rims, died in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Today's Birthdays: Author Lady Antonia
Fraser is 84. Actor Tommy Sands is 79. Bluegrass singer-musician J.D. Crowe
is 79. Musician Daryl Dragon is 74. Actress Tuesday Weld is 73. Actor G.W.
Bailey is 72. Rock singer-musician Tim Bogert is 72. Actress Marianne
Sagebrecht is 71. Country musician Jeff Cook is 67. Actor Paul Reubens is
64. Rock musician Alex Lifeson (Rush) is 63. Actor Peter Stormare is 63.
Actress Diana Scarwid is 61. Rock musician Glen Matlock (The Sex Pistols) is
60. Golfer Bernhard Langer is 59. Country singer Jeffrey Steele is 55.
Gospel singer Yolanda Adams is 55. Country musician Matthew Basford (Yankee
Grey) is 54. Writer-producer Dean Devlin is 54. Rock musician Mike Johnson
is 51. Rap musician Bobo (Cypress Hill) is 48. Country singer Colt Ford is
47. Actress Chandra Wilson is 47. Rock musician Tony Kanal (No Doubt) is 46.
Actress Sarah Chalke is 40. Actor RonReaco (correct) Lee is 40. Rapper Mase
is 39. Actress-singer Demetria McKinney is 38. Actor Aaron Paul is 37. Rock
musician Jon Siebels (Eve 6) is 37. Actor Shaun Weiss is 37. Contemporary
Christian musician Megan Garrett (Casting Crowns) is 36. Actor Kyle Lowder
is 36. Actor Patrick J. Adams is 35. Actress Karla Mosley is 35. Actress
Amanda Fuller is 32. Singer Mario is 30. Actress Alexa PenaVega is 28. Actor
Ellar Coltrane is 22. Actress Savannah Paige Rae is 13.
Thought for Today: "Doing what's right
isn't the problem. It is knowing what's right." — Lyndon Baines Johnson,
36th President of the United States (1908-1973).
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten or redistributed.
Aftershocks rattle Italian quake zone; toll rises to 250
Rescuers make their way through destroyed houses
following Wednesday's earthquake in Pescara Del Tronto, Italy, Thursday,
Aug. 25. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Trisha Thomas, Frances D'emilio, Nicole Winfield
Pescara del Tronto, Italy (AP) —
As the search for survivors ground on, Premier Matteo Renzi pledged new
money and measures Thursday to rebuild quake-devastated central Italy amid
mounting soul-searching over why the seismic-prone country has continually
failed to ensure its buildings can withstand such catastrophes.
A day after the deadly quake killed 250
people, a 4.3 magnitude aftershock sent up plumes of thick gray dust in the
hard-hit town of Amatrice. The aftershock crumbled already cracked
buildings, rattled residents and closed already clogged roads.
It was only one of the more than 470
temblors that have followed Wednesday's pre-dawn quake.
Firefighters and rescue crews using
sniffer dogs worked in teams around the hard-hit areas in central Italy,
pulling chunks of cement, rock and metal from mounds of rubble where homes
once stood. Rescuers refused to say when their work would shift from saving
lives to recovering bodies, noting that one person was pulled alive from the
rubble 72 hours after the 2009 quake in the nearby town of L'Aquila.
"We will work relentlessly until the
last person is found, and make sure no one is trapped," said Lorenzo Botti,
a rescue team spokesman.
Worst affected by the quake were the
tiny towns of Amatrice and Accumoli near Rieti, 100 kilometers (60 miles)
northeast of Rome, and Pescara del Tronto, 25 kilometers (15 miles) further
to the east.
Many were left homeless by the scale of
the destruction, their homes and apartments declared uninhabitable. Some
survivors, escorted by firefighters were allowed to go back inside homes
briefly Thursday to get essential necessities for what will surely be an
"Last night we slept in the car.
Tonight, I don't know," said Nello Caffini as he carried his sister-in-law's
belongings on his head after being allowed to go quickly into her home in
Pescara del Tronto.
Caffini has a house in nearby Ascoli,
but said his sister-in-law was too terrified by the aftershocks to go inside
"When she is more tranquil, we will go
to Ascoli," he said.
Charitable assistance began pouring
into the earthquake zone in traffic-clogging droves Thursday. Church groups
from a variety of Christian denominations, along with farmers offering
donated peaches, pumpkins and plums, sent vans along the one-way road into
Amatrice that was already packed with emergency vehicles and trucks carrying
Other assistance was spiritual.
"When we learned that the hardest hit
place was here, we spoke to our bishop and he encouraged us to come here to
comfort the families of the victims," said a priest who gave his name only
as Father Marco as he walked through Pescara del Tronto. "They have given us
a beautiful example, because their pain did not take away their dignity."
Italy's civil protection agency said
the death toll had risen to 250 by Thursday afternoon, with more than 180 of
the fatalities in Amatrice. At least 365 others were hospitalized, and 215
people were pulled from the rubble alive since the quake struck. A Spaniard
and five Romanians were among the dead, according to their governments.
There was no clear estimate of how many
people might still be missing, since the rustic area was packed with summer
vacationers. The Romanian government alone said 11 of its citizens were
As the search effort continued, the
Premier Renzi authorized a preliminary
50 million euros in emergency funding and the government cancelled taxes for
residents, pro-forma measures that are just the start of what will be a long
and costly rebuilding campaign. He announced a new initiative, "Italian
Homes," to answer years of criticism over shoddy construction across the
country, which has the highest seismic hazard in Western Europe.
But he also said that it was "absurd"
to think that Italy could build completely quake-proof buildings.
"It's illusory to think you can control
everything," he told a news conference. "It's difficult to imagine it could
have been avoided simply using different building technology. We're talking
about medieval-era towns."
Those old towns do not have to conform
to the country's anti-seismic building codes. Making matters worse, those
codes often aren't applied even when new buildings are built.
Armando Zambrano, the head of Italy's
National Council of Engineers, said the technology exists to reinforce old
buildings and prevent such high death tolls when quakes strike every few
years. While he estimated that it would cost up to 93 billion euros ($105
billion) to reinforce all of the historic structures across the country, he
said targeted efforts in the riskiest areas could be done for less.
"We are able to prevent all these
deaths. The problem is actually doing it," he told The Associated Press.
"These tragedies keep happening because we don't intervene. After each
tragedy we say we will act but then the weeks go by and nothing happens."
Some experts estimate that 70 percent
of Italy's buildings aren't built to anti-seismic standards, though not all
are in high-risk areas.
Funding shortfalls and bureaucracy are
obstacles to making the country's buildings quake-resistant. A new law tries
to encourage homeowners to make their homes earthquake-proof by reimbursing
65 percent of the cost over 10 years, but it isn't enough to push Italians,
who are facing years of economic stagnation, to put up the cash to make the
Compounding the problem, many of the
oldest and most vulnerable structures are in remote villages inhabited
mostly by retired Italians getting by on pensions with no cash to spare. In
the cities, upgrades are stifled by the condominium-style rules of buildings
requiring the agreement of multiple owners for such investments.
"We're among the best in the world in
managing emergencies," Renzi said, praising the men and women, many of them
volunteers, who jump into action when crises hit. "But it's not enough to be
in the vanguard in emergencies."
Geologists surveyed the damage Thursday
to determine which buildings were still inhabitable, while Culture Ministry
teams were fanning out to assess the damage to some of the region's cultural
treasures, especially its medieval-era churches.
Italian news reports said prosecutors
investigating the quake were looking in particular into the collapse of
Amatrice's "Romolo Capranica" school, which was restored in 2012 using funds
set aside after the last major quake in 2009.
In recent Italian quakes, some modern
buildings — many of them public institutions — have been the deadliest.
Those included the university dormitory that collapsed in the 2009 L'Aquila
quake, killing 11 students, and the elementary school that crumbled in San
Giuliano di Puglia in 2002, killing 27 children — the town's entire
first-grade class — while surrounding buildings survived unscathed.
Major quakes in Italy are often
followed by criminal charges being filed against architects, builders and
officials responsible for public works. In the case of the L'Aquila quake,
prosecutors also put six geologists on trial for allegedly failing to
adequately warn residents about the temblor. Their convictions were
overturned on appeal.
In Pescara del Tronto, rescue crews
were looking Thursday for three people believed crushed in a hard-to-reach
"The dogs from our dog rescue unit make
us think there could be something," said Danilo Dionisi, a spokesman for the
Emergency services set up tent cities
around the quake-devastated towns to accommodate the homeless, housing about
1,200 people overnight. In Amatrice, 50 elderly people and children spent
the night inside a local sports facility.
"It's not easy for them," said civil
protection volunteer Tiziano De Carolis, who was helping to care for the
homeless in Amatrice. "They have lost everything: the work of an entire
life, like those who have a business, a shop, a pharmacy, a grocery store."
NKorea missile test adds to 'Military First' celebration
undated photo distributed on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, by the North Korean
government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, visits the site of a
submarine-launched missile test at an undisclosed location in North Korea.
(Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
Pyongyang, North Korea (AP) —
North Korea marked its "Military First" holiday on Thursday with mass
dancing, outdoor concerts and boasts of a successful — and potentially
game-changing — submarine-launched ballistic missile test it hopes will
serve as a warning to Washington and Seoul to stop holding joint military
exercises Pyongyang sees as a dress rehearsal for invasion.
Television news broadcasts and the
front pages of morning newspapers Thursday showed images of the launch,
conducted in the early hours the day before. The test, which brought
immediate condemnation from the United States and North Korea's neighbors,
sent a "Pukguksong" missile soaring from a submerged position off the
North's port city of Sinpo. It flew an estimated 500 kilometers (310 miles)
toward the seas around Japan, the longest distance North Korea has yet
achieved in a submarine launch.
Kim was shown smiling and hugging
officials after watching the test from an observation deck. He was quoted by
state media as calling it the "success of all successes."
Launching long-range ballistic missiles
from submarines is stealthier than land launching. Having that capability
could significantly strengthen North Korea's ability to conduct strikes on
U.S. positions in South Korea, and possibly on U.S. bases in Japan as well.
The North has attempted two such
launches before, but neither was seen as successful by outside experts.
As the news of the missile test was
broadcast on a large screen outside Pyongyang's main train station Thursday,
dozens of people stood in the rain to watch.
"This shows that our national defense
strength has reached a new level," said Choe Kum Chol, a 42-year-old factory
worker. "We are a nuclear power and everything is ready, so we have nothing
The test came as the U.S. and South
Korea are conducting their annual, 12-day Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises
south of the Demilitarized Zone.
Though North Korea has protested such
exercises for decades, prompting regular spikes in tensions on the divided
peninsula, it has been particularly alarmed by reports that the maneuvers
have recently started to include training for an invasion of the North and
precision strikes, or "beheading operations," against its top leaders.
North Korea's missile and nuclear
weapons development programs have brought heavy international sanctions down
on its head, but it says they are justified because of the threat posed by
the U.S. and South Korea.
"They are not military exercises, but
war preparations to invade our country," said Kim Kyong Ik, a 44-year-old
Pyongyang resident. "Our country is getting more prosperous and they don't
like that, so they are stepping up their moves to stifle us."
He said South Korea should "wake up and
kick the Americans out."
The United Nations Security Council
agreed at an emergency meeting late Wednesday requested by the United States
and Japan to consider issuing a statement on the missile launch.
Malaysian counselor Johan Ariff Abd
Razak, whose country holds the council presidency, said Thursday the United
States circulated a draft statement to members and China asked for more time
to consider it.
Peter Wilson, Britain's deputy U.N.
ambassador, said this was the fourth missile launch where "something has not
been agreed" to by the Security Council in response. "We want to see a press
statement agreed," he said.
Diplomats say China, which has close
ties to North Korea, has blocked council action or insisted on changes in
previous proposed texts that were unacceptable to other members.
State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth
Trudeau said in a statement that the U.S. strongly condemned the launch and
called on North Korea to "refrain from actions and rhetoric that further
raise tensions in the region." She said the missile launch marked the latest
in an "accelerating campaign" of missile tests that violate multiple U.N.
Security Council resolutions.
South Korea's military condemned the
launch but acknowledged it was an improvement over previous tests of similar
Washington and Seoul say the military
exercises North Korea opposes are defensive in nature.
Thursday marks the anniversary of the
"Military First" policy initiated by Kim Jong Un's father, the late Kim Jong
Il, and the priority position the military continues to enjoy in North Korea
was on full display.
Mass dancing demonstrations — a holiday
staple in North Korea — were to be held on Kim Il Sung Square and other
places around the country. Though the atmosphere in Pyongyang was more
festive than tense, convoys carrying troops to various gatherings have been
speeding through the broad avenues of the capital all week.
Television air time has been dominated
by military footage even more than usual, with soldiers seen advancing
through chest-deep mud, braving ice-covered lakes and staging fight scenes
featuring taekwondo moves atop a moving train.
North Korea is one of the most
militarized countries in the world, with a million-man army in a nation of
only 25 million people.
Military service is mandatory — along
with being long and arduous — and maintaining such a large number of troops
is a major draw on the North's very limited economic resources. Its nuclear
program is also costly, especially given the sanctions that result.
North Korean strategists believe that
developing nuclear weapons and a reliable arsenal of long-range missiles is
necessary and, in the end, a more cost-effective means of keeping Washington
at bay and the ruling regime secure than maintaining a large conventional
Despite the price they pay in
sanctions, officials sometimes cite the example of Libya, and the killing of
strongman Moammar Gadhafi, as what happens to leaders who cave in to
international pressure to give up their nuclear ambitions.
North Koreans are also quick to point
out that, although their country has received military assistance in the
past from the Soviet Union and China, which helped it stave off the U.S.
during the 1950-53 Korean War, it no longer has any foreign troops based on
There are about 28,000 U.S. troops
based in South Korea, and tens of thousands more in Japan, including the
U.S. 7th Fleet and two major fighter bases that could be used as staging
areas for attacks on the North if hostilities broke out.
Quake damages scores of Myanmar's heritage Bagan temples
Military personnel examine the Htilominlo Pagoda in Bagan, Myanmar,
Thursday, Aug. 25. Using brooms and their hands, soldiers and residents of
the ancient Myanmar city began cleaning up the debris Thursday from a
powerful earthquake that shook the region and damaged nearly 200 temples.
(AP Photo/Hkun Lat)
Min Kyi Thein, Grant Peck
Bagan, Myanmar (AP) — It was a
time of conquest and conversions. Above all, it was a time of construction,
on a scale never seen before. Over 250 years, from the 11th century onwards,
the rulers of Bagan built more than 10,000 magnificent religious monuments.
The stupas, temples and monasteries
became the defining emblems of Bagan, the capital of the Pagan (pronounced
PUH'-gahn) empire that ruled Myanmar from roughly 1044 to 1287.
On Wednesday, scores of the monuments —
of which only about 2,200 remain — were damaged in a powerful 6.8 magnitude
earthquake. Yet much of what fell was modern material, sanctioned by
Myanmar's former army rulers who had put top priority on restoring the
temples with little regard for the original architectural styles.
King Anawratha, who unified the country
formerly known as Burma, and his successors built the temples in a frenzy,
believing they would gain spiritual merit. Still, piety didn't stop them
from making war or killing to gain power.
One king, Narathu, slew his father,
elder brother, and one of his wives. He also killed the architect of the
magnificent Dhammayangi temple so he couldn't repeat the feat, and chopped
off the hands of sloppy workmen.
As more and more monuments rose in the
dusty plains of central Myanmar, Bagan became the political, economic and
cultural center of the empire, promoting religious as well as secular
studies, including philosophy, astrology, medicine, law and Pali, the
language of Buddhist scriptures. The city became an educational destination
for monks from as far away as India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.
But Bagan declined as rapidly as it
It was abandoned around 1287 for
reasons not entirely clear, and the city — once home to up to 200,000 people
— was reduced to the status of a small town. Some historical accounts cite
Mongol invasions but others dispute that, saying the Mongol armies may not
have reached the city.
But the dead city left a legacy that
future generations are benefiting from.
Bagan covers more than 80 square
kilometers (32 square miles) of a flat plain. It is the country's biggest
tourist attraction, and along with Cambodia's Angkor Wat and Indonesia's
Borobudur temple, the temples of Bagan are considered one of Southeast
Asia's major historical landmarks.
Yet unlike those Southeast Asian
archaeological cousins, Bagan is not listed as a World Heritage Site by
UNESCO due to a tangled modern tale of neglect followed by a fervid if
misguided effort at renovation in the 1990s, partly to restore damage from a
As the ground shook on Wednesday, the
tremors dislodged spires, loosened bricks and cracked the mortar, revealing
modern material that was the result of haphazard restoration by the former
These efforts drew widespread
international condemnation and forced UNESCO to deny Bagan the World
Heritage Site stamp, even though it acknowledged that "these monuments
represent the outstanding artistic and technical achievement of an original
and innovative Buddhist school of art."
Much of the blame lies with the junta
that took power in 1988, after crushing a pro-democracy movement. By 1995,
restoration was in full swing to complete the work before the Visit Myanmar
Year in 1996, which the generals of this once-pariah nation hoped would
bring in much-needed tourist income.
The plan was a limited success, due to
still underdeveloped infrastructure and a boycott call by human rights
groups against the military regime, which had placed pro-democracy leader
Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. The country emerged from military rule
this year after Suu Kyi's party won to become the country's de facto leader.
Pierre Pichard, a UNESCO consultant who
had long been associated with Bagan, said impressing visiting generals
rather than cultural priorities dictated restoration while military-ordered
excavation has been done "hastily, without proper preparation and without
the requested scientific methodology and records."
UNESCO was even more disturbed when a
60-meter (198-feet) -high viewing tower opened in 2005, saying it's out of
scale and detracts visually from the historical monuments.
State tourism authorities responded
that the tower would prevent tourists from climbing on fragile pagodas and
stupas and damaging them.
Study: Man-made warming may have started decades earlier
Oliver Grah measures the speed of a melt water stream from Sholes Glacier on
one of the slopes on Mount Baker in Washington to study the effects of
global warming. A new study suggests man-made global warming may have
started earlier than previously thought. (AP Photo/Manuel Valdes)
Washington (AP) — Man-made
global warming may have started a few decades earlier than scientists
previously figured, a new study suggests.
Instead of the late 1800s, a slight
almost imperceptible warming can now be tracked to around the 1850 in North
America, Europe and Asia, according to a new study based on coral,
microscopic organisms, ice cores, cave samples, tree rings and computer
And that happened when heat-trapping
gases from burning fossil fuels were tiny compared to now, which means "the
speed at which the climate responds to even a small change in greenhouse
gases appears to be quite fast," said study lead author Nerilie Abram, a
paleoclimate scientist at the Australian National University.
From about 1850 to 1880, Earth probably
warmed around a third of a degree Fahrenheit (about 0.2 degrees Celsius).
Still, that pales compared to about nine-tenths of a degree (half a degree
Celsius) in the last 30 years or so, Abram said.
Determining when warming started is
more than just a historical question. An early heating could mean either
worse future climate than previously predicted if heat trapping gases aren't
controlled or, more optimistically, faster recovery by Earth if
international efforts to cut greenhouse gases succeed, Abram said.
Abram's results differ from past
studies, including the iconic "hockey
stick" , that didn't show a dramatic spike in warming until
around the start of the 20th century, and other studies that even showed
unusual cooling around the late 1800s. Abram said computer simulations are
better and go back centuries longer in their calculations than they used to,
and she uses more proxy data — tree rings, coral and the like — to get
temperatures before historical temperature records started being kept
regularly in the 1880s.
But Pennsylvania State University
climate scientist Michael Mann, who is credited with the hockey stick
concept, said Abram makes unsupported claims. In an email, he wrote that the
Abram team misinterprets the cooling of the early 1800s from two giant
as a cooler baseline instead of something unusual. That makes it look like
human-forced warming started earlier than it did instead of climate
naturally recovering from volcanoes putting cooling particles in the air,
Mann wrote. John Fasullo, a climate scientist at the National Center for
Atmospheric Research, agreed.
Abram said her team initially thought
they saw a bounce back from the volcanic eruptions, but their reconstruction
and computer simulations showed that wasn't the case. The only way the
computer model simulated the proper temperature was with the man-made
greenhouse gas effect, she said.
Jonathan Overpeck, a University of
Arizona climate scientist who wasn't part of the Abram team, said he found
the study's combination of proxy data and computer simulations convincing
and the concept of an early start to warming intriguing and significant.
Today in History - Friday, Aug. 26, 2016
Today is Friday,
Aug. 26, the 239th day of 2016. There are 127 days left in the year.
On Aug. 26, 1968,
the Democratic National Convention opened in Chicago; the four-day event was
marked by a bloody police crackdown on anti-war protesters in the streets
and a tumultuous nominating process that resulted in the choice of Hubert H.
Humphrey for president.
On this date:
In 1789, France's
National Assembly adopted its Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the
In 1883, the island
volcano Krakatoa began cataclysmic eruptions, leading to a massive explosion
the following day.
In 1920, the 19th
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing American women's right to
vote, was certified in effect by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby.
In 1939, the first
televised major league baseball games were shown on experimental station
W2XBS: a double-header between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers
at Ebbets Field. (The Reds won the first game, 5-2, the Dodgers the second,
In 1944, French Gen.
Charles de Gaulle braved the threat of German snipers as he led a victory
march in Paris, which had just been liberated by the Allies from Nazi
In 1958, Alaskans
went to the polls to overwhelmingly vote in favor of statehood.
In 1964, President
Lyndon B. Johnson was nominated for a term of office in his own right at the
Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
In 1972, the summer
Olympics games opened in Munich, West Germany.
In 1978, Cardinal
Albino Luciani (al-BEE'-noh loo-CHYAH'-nee) of Venice was elected pope
following the death of Paul VI; the new pontiff took the name Pope John Paul
I. (However, he died just over a month later.)
In 1986, in the
so-called "preppie murder case," 18-year-old Jennifer Levin was found
strangled in New York's Central Park; Robert Chambers later pleaded guilty
to manslaughter and served 15 years in prison.
In 1996, Democrats
opened their 42nd national convention in Chicago.
In 2009, authorities
in California solved the 18-year disappearance of Jaycee Lee Dugard after
she appeared at a parole office with her children and the Antioch couple
who'd kidnapped her when she was 11.
Ten years ago:
Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (mahk-MOOD'
ah-muh-DEE'-neh-zhahd), inaugurated a heavy-water production plant, a
facility the West feared would be used to develop a nuclear bomb. Chad's
President Idriss Deby ordered California-based Chevron Corp. and Malaysian
company Petronas to leave the country, saying neither had paid taxes. (The
dispute over taxes was later resolved, with the two companies agreeing to
pay $289 million.)
Five years ago: More
than 2 million people along the Eastern Seaboard were ordered to move to
safer ground as Hurricane Irene approached the coast. A Boko Haram sect
member detonated a car loaded with explosives at the United Nations
headquarters in Nigeria's capital Abuja, killing 25 people and wounding more
than 100 others.
One year ago: Alison
Parker, a reporter for WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Virginia, and her cameraman, Adam
Ward, were shot to death during a live outdoor interview with Vicki Gardner,
executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce, by Vester
Lee Flanagan, a disgruntled former station employee who then fatally shot
himself while being pursued by police. (Gardner was seriously wounded in the
attack.) Amelia Boynton Robinson, 104, who was widely considered the mother
of the American civil rights movement, died in Montgomery, Alabama.
Actress Francine York is 80. Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is
71. Rhythm-and-blues singer Valerie Simpson is 71. Pop singer Bob Cowsill is
67. Broadcast journalist Bill Whitaker is 65. Actor Brett Cullen is 60. NBA
coach Stan Van Gundy is 57. Jazz musician Branford Marsalis is 56. Country
musician Jimmy Olander (Diamond Rio) is 55. Actor Chris Burke is 51.
Actress-singer Shirley Manson (Garbage) is 50. Rock musician Dan Vickrey
(Counting Crowes) is 50. TV writer-actress Riley Weston is 50. Rock musician
Adrian Young (No Doubt) is 47. Actress Melissa McCarthy is 46. Latin pop
singer Thalia is 45. Rock singer-musician Tyler Connolly (Theory of a
Deadman) is 41. Actor Mike Colter is 40. Actor Macaulay Culkin is 36. Actor
Chris Pine is 36. Country singer Brian Kelley (Florida Georgia Line) is 31.
Rhythm-and-blues singer Cassie Ventura is 30. Actor Evan Ross is 28. Actor
Dylan O'Brien is 25. Actress Keke Palmer is 23.
Thought for Today:
"When the political columnists say 'Every thinking man' they mean
themselves, and when candidates appeal to 'Every intelligent voter' they
mean everybody who is going to vote for them."
- Franklin P. Adams, American journalist-humorist
The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Italy earthquake kills at least 159, reduces towns to rubble
A victim is carried on a stretcher from a
collapsed building caused by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in Amatrice, central
Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Paolo Santalucia, Frances D'emilio, Nicole
Amatrice, Italy (AP) — Rescue
crews using bulldozers and their bare hands raced to dig out survivors from
a strong earthquake that reduced three central Italian towns to rubble
Wednesday. The death toll stood at 159, but the number of dead and missing
was uncertain given the thousands of vacationers in the area for summer's
Residents wakened before dawn by the
temblor emerged from their crumbled homes to find what they described as
apocalyptic scenes "like Dante's Inferno," with entire blocks of buildings
turned into piles of sand and rock, thick dust choking the air and a putrid
smell of gas.
"The town isn't here anymore," said
Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of the hardest-hit town, Amatrice. "I believe the
toll will rise."
The magnitude 6.2 quake struck at 3:36
a.m. and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome,
where residents woke to a long swaying followed by aftershocks. The temblor
shook the Lazio region and Umbria and Le Marche on the Adriatic coast, a
highly seismic area that has witnessed major quakes in the past.
Dozens of people were pulled out alive
by rescue teams and volunteers that poured in from around Italy.
In the evening, about 17 hours after
the quake struck, firefighters pulled a 10-year-old girl alive from the
rubble in Pescara del Tronto.
"You can hear something under here.
Quiet, quiet," one rescue worker said, before soon urging her on: "Come on,
Giulia, come on, Giulia. ... Watch your head."
Cheers broke out when she was pulled
And there were wails when bodies
"Unfortunately, 90 percent we pull out
are dead, but some make it, that's why we are here," said Christian
Bianchetti, a volunteer from Rieti who was working in devastated Amatrice
where flood lights were set up so the rescue could continue through the
Premier Matteo Renzi visited the zone
Wednesday, greeted rescue teams and survivors, and pledged that "No family,
no city, no hamlet will be left behind." Italy's civil protection agency
reported the death toll had risen to 159 by late Wednesday; at least 368
others were injured.
Worst affected were the tiny towns of
Amatrice and Accumoli near Rieti, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast
of Rome, and Pescara del Tronto, some 25 kilometers further east. Italy's
civil protection agency set up tent cities around each hamlet to accommodate
the thousands of homeless.
Italy's health minister, Beatrice
Lorenzin, visiting the devastated area, said many of the victims were
children: The quake zone is a popular spot for Romans with second homes, and
the population swells in August when most Italians take their summer holiday
before school resumes.
The medieval center of Amatrice was
devastated, with the hardest-hit half of the city cut off by rescue crews
digging by hand to get to trapped residents.
The birthplace of the famed spaghetti
all'amatriciana bacon and tomato sauce, the city was full for this weekend's
planned festival honoring its native dish. Some 70 guests filled its top
Hotel Roma, famed for its amatriciana, where five bodies were pulled from
the rubble before the operation was suspended when conditions became too
dangerous late Wednesday. Among those killed was an 11-year-old boy who had
initially shown signs of life. The fate of the dozens of other guests wasn't
Amatrice is made up of 69 hamlets that
teams from around Italy were working to reach with sniffer dogs, earth
movers and other heavy equipment. In the city center, rocks and metal
tumbled onto the streets and dazed residents huddled in piazzas as more than
200 aftershocks jolted the region throughout the day, some as strong as
"The whole ceiling fell but did not hit
me," marveled resident Maria Gianni. "I just managed to put a pillow on my
head and I wasn't hit, luckily, just slightly injured my leg."
Another woman, sitting in front of her
destroyed home with a blanket over her shoulders, said she didn't know what
had become of her loved ones.
"It was one of the most beautiful towns
of Italy and now there's nothing left," she said, too distraught to give her
name. "I don't know what we'll do."
As the August sun turned into a
nighttime chill, residents, civil protection workers and even priests dug
with shovels, bulldozers and their bare hands to reach survivors. A steady
column of dump trucks brought tons of twisted metal, rock and cement down
the hill and onto the highway toward Rome, along with a handful of
ambulances bringing the injured to Rome hospitals.
"We need chain saws, shears to cut iron
bars and jacks to remove beams. Everything, we need everything," civil
protection worker Andrea Gentili told The Associated Press in the early
hours of the recovery. Italy's national blood drive association appealed for
donations to Rieti's hospital.
Despite a massive rescue and relief
effort — with army, Alpine crews, carabineri, firefighters, Red Cross crews
and volunteers, it wasn't enough: A few miles (kilometers) north of
Amatrice, in Illica, residents complained that rescue workers were slow to
arrive and that loved ones were trapped.
"We are waiting for the military," said
resident Alessandra Cappellanti. "There is a base in Ascoli, one in Rieti,
and in L'Aquila. And we have not seen a single soldier. We pay! It's
Agostino Severo, a Rome resident
visiting Illica, said workers eventually arrived after an hour or so. "We
came out to the piazza, and it looked like Dante's Inferno," he said.
"People crying for help, help."
The U.S. Geological Survey reported the
quake's magnitude was 6.2, while the Italian geological service put it at 6
and the European Mediterranean Seismological Center at 6.1. The quake had a
shallow depth of between four and 10 kilometers, the agencies said.
Generally, shallow earthquakes pack a bigger punch and tend to be more
damaging than deeper quakes.
"The Apennine mountains in central
Italy have the highest seismic hazard in Western Europe and earthquakes of
this magnitude are common," noted Richard Walters, a lecturer in Earth
sciences at Durham University in Britain.
The devastation harked back to the 2009
quake that killed more than 300 people in and around L'Aquila, about 90
kilometers (55 miles) south of the latest quake. The town, which still
hasn't fully recovered, sent emergency teams Wednesday to help with the
rescue and set up tent camps for residents unwilling to stay indoors because
"I don't know what to say. We are
living this immense tragedy," said a tearful Rev. Savino D'Amelio, a parish
priest in Amatrice. "We are only hoping there will be the least number of
victims possible and that we all have the courage to move on."
Another hard-hit town was Pescara del
Tronto, in the Le Marche region, where the main road was covered in debris.
Residents were digging their neighbors
out by hand before emergency crews arrived. Aerial photos taken by regional
firefighters showed the town essentially flattened and under a thick gray
coat of dust; Italy requested EU satellite images of the whole area to get
the scope of the damage.
The mayor of Accumoli, Stefano
Petrucci, said a family of four had died there, one of the few young
families who had decided to stay in the area. He wept as he noted that the
tiny hamlet of 700 swells to 2,000 in the summer months, and that he feared
for the future of the town.
"I hope they don't forget us," he told
President Barack Obama, speaking by
telephone to Italian President Sergio Mattarella, said the U.S. sent its
thoughts and prayers to the quake victims and saluted the "quick action" by
first responders, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
A 1997 quake killed a dozen people in
central Italy and severely damaged one of the jewels of Umbria, the Basilica
of St. Francis in Assisi, filled with Giotto frescoes. The Franciscan friars
who are the custodians of the basilica reported no immediate damage from
Pope Francis skipped his traditional
catechism for his Wednesday general audience and instead invited the
thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square to recite the rosary with him.
He also sent a six-man squad from the Vatican's fire department to help with
Powerful earthquake shakes central Myanmar
A powerful earthquake in central Myanmar on
Wednesday, Aug. 24 killed at least 4 people and damaged scores of ancient
Buddhist pagodas in the former capital of Bagan. (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof)
Esther Htusan, Min Kyi Thein
Yangon, Myanmar (AP) — Rescue
workers surveyed the damage Thursday after a powerful earthquake shook
Myanmar, killing at least four people and damaging 185 ancient Buddhist
pagodas in the former capital of Bagan, a major tourist site.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the
magnitude 6.8 quake on Wednesday was centered about 25 kilometers (15 miles)
west of Chauk, a town south of Bagan. It was located fairly far below the
Earth's surface at a depth of about 84 kilometers (52 miles), it said. Deep
earthquakes generally cause less surface damage.
At least 185 brick pagodas in Bagan
were damaged, the state newspaper reported. Bagan, also known as Pagan, has
more than 2,200 structures, including pagodas and temples constructed from
the 10th to the 14th centuries. Many are in disrepair while others have been
restored in recent years, aided by the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO.
The vast site is the country's premier
attraction for tourists, who can view a panorama of temples stretching to
the horizon flanked by the mighty Irrawaddy River, an especially impressive
experience at sunset.
Dr. Myo Thant, general secretary of the
Myanmar Earthquake Committee, said other areas apparently were not badly
Police officer Htay Win in Pakokku,
about 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the epicenter, said one person there had
been killed and one injured. "The person was killed by falling bricks from a
building," he said.
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief
and Resettlement reported two other deaths in nearby Thitapwe village.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "saddened" by the loss of life and damage
from the earthquake and expressed his condolences to the "people and
government" of Myanmar.
He said the U.N. Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs was in contact with authorities in
Myanmar and along with its partners stands ready to support the government
and local organizations.
Vincent Panzani, a staff member in
Pakokku for the aid agency Save the Children, said several of his colleagues
from the area described the earthquake as the strongest they have
"We felt quite heavy shaking for about
10 seconds and started to evacuate the building when there was another
strong tremor," he said in comments sent by email. "Most of the reports of
damage have been to the pagodas in the area with dozens impacted. There have
also been reports of damage to smaller, more basic buildings, including a
collapsed wall and a destroyed roof."
Worried residents of Yangon, the
country's main city, rushed out of tall buildings, and objects toppled from
tables and from Buddhist shrines in homes. However, there were no reports of
serious damage in the city.
The quake was felt in a half dozen
states in neighboring India, where people rushed out of offices and homes at
several places. It caused buildings to sway in Bangkok, Thailand's capital,
several hundred kilometers (miles) to the east. There were no reports of
damage in either country.
The last major quake in the area —
which is often affected by smaller tremors — occurred in April about 300
kilometers (180 miles) further north, and measured magnitude 6.9. It caused
no reported casualties and only minor damage.
Duterte: 'It will be bloody' if Philippine territory breached
President Rodrigo Duterte addresses troops during his visit to the
Philippine Army's Camp Mateo Capinpin at Tanay township, Rizal province east
of Manila,Philippines Wednesday, Aug. 24. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Tanay, Philippines (AP) — The
tough-talking Philippine president said Wednesday he will walk the extra
mile for peace but warned China "it will be bloody" if the militarily
superior Asian neighbor infringes on his country's territory.
President Rodrigo Duterte issued the
warning in comments on his country's territorial disputes with China in a
speech before troops at an army camp east of Manila. He has been seeking
talks with China on the long-unresolved conflict.
Duterte said China has been
conciliatory and he did not want any fight.
"We do not want a quarrel," he said. "I
would walk the extra mile to ask for peace for everybody."
He expressed fears, however, about what
will happen if the peaceful efforts fail, saying Filipino troops are ready
to defend their country's sovereignty despite its weak military.
"I guarantee to (China), if you enter
here, it will be bloody," he said. "And we will not give it to them easily.
It will be the bones of our soldiers, you can include mine."
An international arbitration tribunal
ruled last month that China's extensive territorial claims in the South
China Sea were invalid under a 1982 U.N. treaty, in a major setback for
Beijing, which has ignored the decision.
Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino
III, initiated the arbitration case against China. Duterte has not pressed
for Chinese compliance and does not plan to raise the decision at an annual
summit of Southeast Asian leaders with his Chinese counterpart in Laos next
Duterte said, however, that "whether we
like it or not, that arbitral judgment will be insisted not only by the
Philippines" but by other countries in Southeast Asia, suggesting China
should take steps to resolve the territorial issues now while conditions are
"We will not raise hell now because of
the judgment, but there will come a time that we have to do some reckoning
about this," Duterte said.
France's Sarkozy brands burkinis a 'provocation'
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, poses prior to a TV interviews at French
TV station TF1 in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris, Wednesday, Aug. 24.
(AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Paris (AP) — France's former
conservative president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has branded the full-body burkini
swimsuits worn by some Muslim women a "provocation" that he says supports
A series of local town bans on burkinis
in France has set off a heated debate in the strictly secular country.
Sarkozy said in a TV interview Wednesday night that "we don't imprison women
As a leading opposition figure, Sarkozy
announced this week that he is running for the presidency again in next
spring's election. He must first win the primaries organized by the French
right in November, where he's expected to face tough competition.
Sarkozy says if he wins, he will ban
every visible religious sign in French universities.
Sarkozy, 61, is expected to campaign on
a hard-line platform on immigration and security issues in a country marked
by recent attacks carried out by Islamist extremists.
In the TF1 channel interview, Sarkozy
insisted that Muslims in France are French people "exactly like any other
ones" but, when living in the country, they must "assimilate" the French
language and way of life, the French regions and the history of France.
Muslim people shouldn't "impose their
differences on the majority," he said.
Regarding his social and economic
platform, Sarkozy said he wants to set up decreasing unemployment benefits
but assured at the same time that the "French social model" will remain
intact if he is elected.
"Here, it's not the United States where
people end up living in a mobile home when they lose their jobs", he said.
Recently, Sarkozy has said that, in the
name of France's secularism, he opposes pork-free options proposed by many
school canteens for Muslim and Jewish children. He has also suggested that
children born in France to parents staying illegally in the country
shouldn't be granted French nationality.
Turkey makes first major foray into Syria with assault on IS
Turkish artillery is shown stationed near the
Syrian border in Karkamis, Turkey, Wednesday, Aug. 24. Turkey's military
launched an operation before dawn Wednesday to clear the Syrian border town
of Jarablus from Islamic State militants. (AP Photo)
Suzan Fraser, Zeina Karam
Ankara, Turkey (AP) — Turkey on
Wednesday launched its first major ground assault into Syria since the
country's civil war began, sending in tanks and special forces backed by
U.S. airstrikes to help Syrian rebels retake a border town from Islamic
The surprise incursion to capture the
town of Jarablus was a dramatic escalation of Turkey's role in Syria's war.
But its objective went beyond fighting extremists. Turkey is also aiming to
contain expansion by Syria's Kurds, who are also backed by the United States
and have used the fight against IS and the chaos of the civil war to seize
nearly the entire stretch of the border with Turkey in northern Syria.
That raises the potential for explosive
frictions between two American allies. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden flew
into Ankara hours after the offensive, and he backed Turkey with a stern
warning to the Kurds to stay east of the Euphrates River, which crosses from
Turkey into Syria at Jarablus.
Kurdish forces "must move back across
the Euphrates River. They cannot, will not, under any circumstance get
American support if they do not keep that commitment," he said.
The Turkish assault, launched in
retaliation after a string of militant bombings in Turkey, adds yet another
powerhouse force on the ground in an already complicated war.
It appeared Turkish forces would remain
for at least the near term. A senior Turkish official told journalists that
operations would continue until "we are convinced" imminent threats to
Turkey are neutralized. He said the aim is to create a "terror-free zone" in
northern Syria to prevent militants from entering Turkey. The official spoke
on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations.
The Turkish assault began around 4 a.m.
with a furious barrage by artillery and warplanes. Then around 20 Turkish
tanks, a team of Turkish special forces, and hundreds of Syrian rebels
surged across the border, according to Turkish media and Syrian opposition
Only hours later, the rebels burst into
Jarablus, posting photos from the town's center. IS militants withdrew
apparently without a fight, retreating to the IS-held town of al-Bab further
In the evening, Turkish President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan announced that rebels had retaken the city, saying they
seized "government and official residences." He spoke alongside Biden, who
said Washington backed the offensive with airstrikes, adding, "We believe
very strongly that the Turkish border should be controlled by Turkey."
Much of what happens next depends on
whether the Turkish offensive goes deeper and what they move against:
IS-held towns or nearby Kurdish-controlled areas, including the town of
Manbij which Kurdish forces retook from IS earlier this month. Manbij lies
west of the Euphrates, and Ankara has demanded the Kurds hand it over to
Syrian rebels and withdraw.
Turkey has been deeply concerned by the
advances along the border of the main U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia,
known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, fearing it is setting up a
Kurdish entity. The YPG is also linked to Kurdish rebels waging an
insurgency in southeastern Turkey.
Jennifer Cafarella, an analyst with the
Institute for the Study of War, said Turkey is trying to "block the ultimate
creation of a contiguous zone of territorial control under the authority of
the PYD," using the acronym for the Democratic Union Party, the YPG's
Earlier, Erdogan said the military
operation aims to prevent threats from "terror" groups, pointing
specifically to the Islamic State group and the PYD. He said the operation
was in response to a string of attacks in Turkey, including an IS suicide
bombing at a wedding party near the border which killed 54 people.
Saleh Muslim, the co-president of the
PYD, warned that Turkey will pay the price, tweeting that "Turkey is in
Syrian Quagmire. Will be defeated as Daesh" will be. He used the Arabic
language acronym for IS.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut
Cavusoglu shot back saying Muslim's opposition to the operations proved the
PYD's "secret agenda" to form a Kurdish state.
Despite the tough talk, the Kurds may
decide to pull back from Manbij to appease their U.S. allies, handing it
over to the so-called Manbij Military Council. The predominantly Kurdish
Syria Democratic Forces created the council to lead the battle for Manbij,
giving it an Arab and local membership to assuage Ankara's concerns.
Jarablus is a key lynchpin in the
Turkish-Kurdish rivalry. The town lies on the western bank of the Euphrates
River at the Turkish border in a pocket controlled by the Islamic State
The YPG and other Syrian Kurds stand on
the east bank of the river, and from there they hold the entire border with
Turkey all the way to Iraq. They also hold parts of the border further west,
so if they ever took control of Jarablus, they would control almost the
Pointedly, Turkey codenamed its
cross-border assault "Euphrates Shield," suggesting the aim was to keep the
YPG east of the Euphrates River.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim
said that in Biden's talks in Ankara, the two sides reached agreement that
that the Syrian Kurdish forces "should never spread west of the Euphrates
and not enter any kind of activity there."
Cavusoglu said Syrian Kurdish forces
must cross back to the east side of the Euphrates as soon as possible.
"Otherwise, and I say this clearly, we will do what is necessary."
Turkey has backed rebels against Syrian
President Bashar Assad throughout Syria's civil war. It has carried out some
airstrikes and artillery barrages against militants in the past.
But Wednesday's assault was its first
major ground incursion.
Some 1,500 Syrian opposition fighters
were involved, said Ahmad al-Khatib, an activist embedded with the rebels.
The fighters came from the U.S.-backed Hamza brigade, as well as rebel
groups fighting government forces in Aleppo, such as the Nour el-Din el
Zinki brigade, the Levant Front, and Failaq al-Sham.
Fighters from the powerful and
ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham brigade are also present, he said.
The Syrian government denounced the
Turkish military incursion and called for an immediate end to what it
described as a "blatant violation" of Syrian sovereignty.
But there is little potential for
friction between the Turkish forces and Assad's troops, which are not in the
immediate area. Moreover, Assad shares Turkey's goals of pushing back the
Islamic State group and the Kurds.
With Syria's civil war now in its sixth
year, Turkey's foray adds another item in a list of combatants that already
includes Assad's military and his allies — Revolutionary Guard troops from
Iran and Hezbollah guerrillas from Lebanon, Russian military experts and
airstrikes — Syrian rebels, Kurdish fighters and jihadi militants from
around the world in the Islamic State group.
Today in History - Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016
The Associated Press
Today is Thursday, Aug. 25, the 238th day of 2016. There
are 128 days left in the year.
Highlight in History:
On Aug. 25,
1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an act establishing the National
Park Service within the Department of the Interior.
hundreds of French colonists arrived in Louisiana, with some settling in
present-day New Orleans.
In 1825, Uruguay
declared independence from Brazil.
In 1921, the
United States signed a peace treaty with Germany.
In 1944, during
World War II, Paris was liberated by Allied forces after four years of
Nazi occupation. Romania declared war on former ally Germany.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a measure providing pensions for
former U.S. presidents and their widows.
In 1960, opening
ceremonies were held for the Summer Olympics in Rome.
In 1975, the
Bruce Springsteen album "Born to Run" was released by Columbia Records.
In 1981, the
U.S. spacecraft Voyager 2 came within 63,000 miles of Saturn's cloud
cover, sending back pictures of and data about the ringed planet.
In 1989, Voyager
2 made its closest approach to Neptune, its final planetary target.
In 1998, retired
Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell died in Richmond, Virginia, at age
Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby (meh-tay mar-it shes-em hoy-bee), a single
mother and former waitress, married Norway's Crown Prince Haakon
(hoh-uh-kahn) in Oslo. Rhythm-and-blues singer Aaliyah (ah-LEE'-yah) was
killed with eight others in a plane crash in the Bahamas; she was 22.
In 2009, Sen.
Edward M. Kennedy died at age 77 in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, after a
battle with a brain tumor.
Ten years ago: A
college student's checked luggage on a Continental Airlines flight that
had arrived in Houston from Buenos Aires, Argentina, was found to
contain a stick of dynamite, one of six security incidents that day that
caused U.S. flights to be diverted, evacuated or searched. Joseph
Stefano, who wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," died
in Thousand Oaks, California, at age 84.
Five years ago:
Fifty-two people were killed in a fire at a casino in the northern
Mexican city of Monterrey that was allegedly targeted by a drug cartel.
The New York Yankees became the first team in major league history to
hit three grand slams in a game, with Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and
Curtis Granderson connecting in a 22-9 romp over the Oakland Athletics.
One year ago:
French authorities formally opened a terrorism investigation into a
foiled attack four days earlier; a prosecutor said minutes before he
slung an assault rifle across his chest and walked through a high-speed
train, suspect Ayoub El-Khazzani of Morocco watched a jihadi video on
Birthdays: Game show host Monty Hall is 95. Actor Sean Connery is 86.
Actor Page Johnson is 86. TV personality Regis Philbin is 85. Actor Tom
Skerritt is 83. Jazz musician Wayne Shorter is 83. Movie director Hugh
Hudson is 80. Author Frederick Forsyth is 78. Movie director John Badham
is 77. Filmmaker Marshall Brickman is 77. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is
74. Rhythm-and-blues singer Walter Williams (The O'Jays) is 73. Actor
Anthony Heald is 72. Rock singer-actor Gene Simmons is 67. Actor John
Savage is 67. Country singer-musician Henry Paul (Outlaws; Blackhawk) is
67. Rock singer Rob Halford is 65. Rock musician Geoff Downes (Asia) is
64. Rock singer Elvis Costello is 62. Movie director Tim Burton is 58.
Actor Christian LeBlanc is 58. Actress Ashley Crow is 56. Actress Ally
Walker is 55. Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus is 55. Actress Joanne
Whalley is 55. Rock musician Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard) is 54. Actor
Blair Underwood is 52. Actor Robert Maschio is 50. Rap DJ Terminator X
(Public Enemy) is 50. Alternative country singer Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) is
49. Actor David Alan Basche (BAYSH) is 48. Television chef Rachael Ray
is 48. Actor Cameron Mathison is 47. Country singer Jo Dee Messina is
46. Model Claudia Schiffer is 46. Country singer Brice Long is 45. Actor
Eric Millegan is 42. Actor Alexander Skarsgard is 40. Actor Jonathan
Togo is 39. Actor Kel Mitchell is 38. Actress Rachel Bilson is 35.
Actress Blake Lively is 29. Actor Josh Flitter is 22.
Today: "History is the sum total of the things that could have been
avoided." — Konrad Adenauer, German statesman (1876-1967).
2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.