Bombing at Nigeria mosque kills at least 50
This image taken shows the interior of a mosque
after a deadly attack by a suicide bomber, in Mubi, Adamawa State, Nigeria,
Tuesday Nov. 21. (AP Photo)
Lagos, Nigeria (AP) — A teenage
suicide bomber attacked worshippers as they gathered for morning prayers
Tuesday at a mosque in northeastern Nigeria, killing at least 50 people,
police said, in one of the region's deadliest assaults in years.
Bloody debris covered the floor inside
the mosque in Mubi town in Adamawa state where worshippers had arrived
around 5 a.m. Outside, people gathered around the dead.
President Muhammadu Buhari tweeted that
he was "saddened by the very cruel and dastardly suicide bombing attack."
"May the souls of the dead rest in
peace," he added.
Police spokesman Othman Abubakar told
The Associated Press they were "still trying to ascertain the number of
injured because they are in various hospitals."
While there was no immediate claim of
responsibility for the bombing, suspicion immediately fell on the Boko Haram
extremist group. The group is based in neighboring Borno state and has been
blamed for scores of similar attacks over the years.
Tuesday's attack was the first since
Mubi town was liberated from Boko Haram insurgents in 2014.
Boko Haram increasingly has been using
teenagers or young women as bombers, many of whom have been abducted.
The police spokesman said the young man
detonated his explosives Tuesday while mingling among the worshippers.
While Nigeria's military in recent
months has flushed Boko Haram from its forest stronghold, President
Muhammadu Buhari's claim late last year that the extremist group had been
"crushed" has proven to be premature.
Boko Haram has been blamed for more
than 20,000 deaths during its eight-year-old insurgency. The attacks have
spilled into neighboring countries and displaced more than 2.4 million
people in the Lake Chad region, creating a vast humanitarian crisis.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
condemned the suicide attack and reiterated "the solidarity of the United
Nations with the Government of Nigeria in its fight against terrorism and
violent extremism," U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
The U.N. chief called for those
responsible "for these heinous acts to be swiftly brought to justice," he
The United States condemned the attack.
A statement by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said "that
the victims were targeted and killed in a place of worship demonstrates yet
again the brutal nature of the terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten the
peace and security of Nigerian citizens."
Nauert said the attack only strengthens
the resolve of the U.S. to work with Nigerian and regional partners in
countering such threats.
Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe's president after 37 years
outside the parliament building immediately after hearing the news that
President Robert Mugabe had resigned, in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe
Tuesday, Nov. 21. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Christopher Torchia and Farai Mutsaka
Harare, Zimbabwe (AP) —
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who once vowed to rule for life,
resigned on Tuesday, succumbing to a week of overwhelming pressure from
the military that put him under house arrest, lawmakers from the ruling
party and opposition who started impeachment proceedings and a
population that surged into the streets to say 37 years in power was
The capital, Harare, erupted in
jubilation after news spread that the 93-year-old leader's resignation
letter had been read out by the speaker of parliament, whose members had
gathered to impeach Mugabe after he ignored escalating calls to quit
since a military takeover. Well into the night, cars honked and people
danced and sang in a spectacle of free expression that would have been
impossible during his years in power, whose early promise after the end
of white minority rule in 1980 was overtaken by economic collapse,
government dysfunction and human rights violations.
"Welcome to the new Zimbabwe!"
people chanted outside the conference center where the lawmakers had
met. "This is the best day of my life," one man declared as euphoric
citizens celebrated on top of cars, clustered around a tank and shook
hands with soldiers who were hailed as saviors for their role in
dislodging Mugabe, a once-formidable politician who crushed dissent or
sidelined opponents but, in the end, was a lonely figure abandoned by
virtually all his allies.
"Change was overdue. ... Maybe
this change will bring jobs," said 23-year-old Thomas Manase, an
unemployed university graduate.
It was a call echoed by many, and
which pointed to the challenges ahead for Zimbabwe, which used to be a
regional breadbasket but has since suffered hyperinflation, cash
shortages, chronic mismanagement and massive joblessness. And, while
Zimbabweans seemed almost universally united in their wish to see an end
to the Mugabe era, the hard work of building institutions and preparing
for what they hope are free and fair elections scheduled for next year
has yet to begin.
Mugabe, who was the world's oldest
head of state, said in his resignation letter that legal procedures
should be followed to install a new president "no later than tomorrow."
"My decision to resign is voluntary
on my part and arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of
Zimbabwe and my desire for a smooth, non-violent transfer of power,"
Mugabe said in the message read out by parliamentary speaker Jacob
Recently ousted Vice President
Emmerson Mnangagwa was to take over as the country's leader within 48
hours so that he can move "with speed to work for the country," said a
ruling party official, Lovemore Matuke. Mnangagwa, who fled the country
after his Nov. 6 firing, "is not far from here," Matuke added.
Mugabe's resignation ended
impeachment proceedings brought by the ruling ZANU-PF party after its
Central Committee voted to oust him as party leader and replace him with
Mnangagwa, a former justice and defense minister who served for decades
as Mugabe's enforcer, a role that earned him the moniker, "Crocodile."
Many opposition supporters detest Mnangagwa and believe he was
instrumental in the army killings of thousands of people when Mugabe
moved against a political rival in the 1980s.
So far, Mnangagwa has used
inclusive language, saying in a statement before Mugabe's resignation
that all Zimbabweans should work together to advance their nation.
"Never should the nation be held at
ransom by one person ever again, whose desire is to die in office at
whatever cost to the nation," Mnangagwa said.
Zimbabwe's military commander, Gen.
Constantino Chiwenga, warned people not to target old adversaries
following Mugabe's resignation. "Acts of vengeful retribution or trying
to settle scores will be dealt with severely," he said.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio
Guterres urged Zimbabweans to maintain calm. The U.S. Embassy in
Zimbabwe said Mugabe's resignation "marks an historic moment" and that
"the path forward" should lead to free and fair elections. British
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Mugabe was "a despot who
impoverished his country" and his exit is a "moment of joy" for
The end for Mugabe came when his
wife, Grace Mugabe, positioned herself to succeed her husband, leading a
party faction that engineered Mnangagwa's ouster. The prospect of a
dynastic succession alarmed the military, which confined Mugabe to his
home last week and targeted what it called "criminals" around him who
allegedly were looting state resources — a reference to associates of
the first lady.
In his early days as leader, after
a long war between black guerrillas and the white rulers of Rhodesia, as
Zimbabwe was known before independence, Mugabe stressed education and
built new schools. Tourism and mining flourished. But in 2000, violent
seizures of thousands of white-owned farms began, causing agricultural
production to plunge. A land reform program was supposed to take much of
the country's most fertile land and redistribute it to poor blacks, but
Mugabe instead gave prime farms to ZANU-PF leaders and loyalists,
relatives and cronies.
As the years went by, Mugabe was
widely accused of hanging onto power through violence and vote fraud,
notably in a 2008 election that led to a troubled coalition government
after regional mediators intervened. Still, he cast himself as a voice
of pride and defiance in modern Africa, a message that resonated in many
countries that had experienced Western colonialism or intervention.
Mugabe once said he wanted to rule
for life, expressing a desire to live until he is 100 years old. He also
said he was ready to retire if asked to do so by his supporters.
A year ago, he said: "If I am to
retire, let me retire properly."
Macron takes Europe's center stage while Merkel falters
President Emmanuel Macron, center, shakes hands with local residents after
visiting a branch of French charitable organization 'Les Restos du Coeur'
(Restaurants of the Heart) in Paris, France, Tuesday, Nov. 21. (Ian
Langsdon/Pool Photo via AP)
Paris (AP) — French President
Emmanuel Macron looks like the last, best hope to salvage a unified Europe,
as Britain drifts away and Germany bogs down.
The role of knight in shining armor is
one Macron relishes, whether he's standing up to U.S. President Donald Trump
on climate change, mediating in Mideast crises or crusading to make Paris
the world's newest financial capital.
Yet pitfalls await.
The inexperienced 39-year-old must
surmount many hurdles to transform France into the kind of superpower
economy that could drive the rest of Europe toward prosperity.
And instead of leaving Macron alone in
the spotlight as Europe's superstar, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's
troubles in forming a coalition at home may in fact drag him down with her.
"Macron can only really lead Europe if
he is in full cooperation with Germany," said Simon Tilford, deputy director
of the Centre for European Reform. "France needs an engaged, cooperative
A divided, inward-looking Germany
hobbles Macron's ambitious hopes of revitalizing the European Union and its
shared currency through things like a banking union and harmonizing taxes.
These ideas were always a hard sell in Germany, and Merkel is now too
weakened to push them through.
The mood was somber in Macron's office
the morning after Merkel's failure to form a coalition Sunday night. France
wants "its principal partner to be stable and strong," a presidential
But Macron isn't giving up, and instead
sees Merkel's difficulties as "reinforcing" the need for France to take
initiatives to strengthen the EU, the official said.
In a Europe looking for direction, many
see Macron as a much-needed captain.
He's energetic, telegenic and
forward-looking. He has a big head and big ideas, and doesn't apologize or
flinch when critics target his "Jupiter-like" tendencies.
In just six months in power, he's
secured support for a more robust European defense operation and rules
cracking down on cheap labor, and pushed multinationals to pay more taxes.
At European summits, he commands attention, and other leaders seek audiences
with him — rivals and supporters alike.
"Along with Merkel, they are the only
two leaders of any real stature in Europe at present," notably with Britain,
Italy and Spain mired in other troubles, Tilford said.
Macron also vaunts French grandeur —
hosting Vladimir Putin in Versailles and inviting Trump to dine in the
Eiffel Tower. And Macron's administration has openly lobbied to leech
financial activity away from London when Britain quits the EU.
Macron cried victory when the EU voted
Monday to move the European Banking Authority from Britain to Paris. "It's
the recognition of France's attractiveness and commitment to Europe," he
It was based on luck as much as
anything — Paris beat Dublin based on a paper draw from a bowl to break
their tie. But it was a clear boost to Macron's efforts to make Paris into
a post-Brexit financial capital. It also fits his vision for a more
simplified, concentrated EU, since Paris already hosts the European
Securities and Markets Authority.
Foreign companies welcomed the move,
even if it remains to be seen which European city — if any — is first in
line to replace the City of London as the continent's financial hub.
Macron's status as leader of a united
Europe will depend heavily on whether France's economic recovery picks up
speed and joblessness goes down at last. He's just beginning to dismantle
labor laws that have long scared investors away — and is already angering
much of the French electorate in the process.
But Macron's success also depends
heavily on Germany.
In recent years, "the German engine was
spinning at full speed while the French engine was practically at a halt.
Now, there is uncertainty about the German engine just at the moment when
the French engine is ignited again with President Macron," European
Parliament member Alain Lamassoure said on Europe-1 radio.
"It is in all of Europe's interest that
Germany comes out of this political crisis as soon as possible."
Myanmar treatment of Rohingya called apartheid in new report
Rohingya people push a cart loaded with
fire-wood in Thet Kabyin village, close to Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar.
Bangkok (AP) — Myanmar has
subjected Rohingya Muslims to long-term discrimination and persecution that
amounts to "dehumanizing apartheid," Amnesty International said Tuesday in a
report that raises questions about what those who have fled a violent
military crackdown would face if they returned home.
Since late August, more than 620,000
Rohingya have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state into neighboring Bangladesh,
seeking safety from what the military described as "clearance operations."
The United Nations and others have said the military's actions appeared to
be a campaign of "ethnic cleansing," using acts of violence and intimidation
and burning down homes to force the Rohingya to leave their communities.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
said earlier this month that the world body considered it "an absolutely
essential priority" to stop all violence against the Rohingya and allow them
to return to their homes. They are now living in teeming refugee camps in a
Bangladesh border district, and officials in Dhaka have also urged that
Myanmar allow them to return with their safety assured.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said
Tuesday the government would follow a formula set in a 1992-93 repatriation
agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar, which are holding bilateral
negotiations on the new refugee crisis.
Amnesty International compiled two
years' worth of interviews and evidence in its report, detailing how
Rohingya lived within Myanmar, where they were subjected to a "vicious
system of state-sponsored, institutionalized discrimination that amounts to
apartheid," meeting the international legal definition of a crime against
Rohingya Muslims have faced
state-supported discrimination in the predominantly Buddhist country for
decades. Though members of the ethnic minority first arrived generations
ago, Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship in 1982, denying them
almost all rights and rendering them stateless. They cannot travel freely,
practice their religion, or work as teachers or doctors, and they have
little access to medical care, food or education.
Amnesty's report said the
discrimination had worsened considerably in the last five years.
"I wanted to go to Sittwe hospital for
medical treatment, but it's forbidden," Abul Kadir, 36, was quoted as
telling the human rights group. "The hospital staff told me I couldn't go
there for my own safety and said I needed to go to Bangladesh for treatment.
It cost a lot of money."
Rohingya have fled en masse to escape
persecution before. Hundreds of thousands left in 1978 and again in the
early 1990s, though policies subsequently allowed many to return. Communal
violence in 2012, as the country was transitioning from a half-century of
dictatorship to democracy, sent another 100,000 fleeing by boat. Some
120,000 remain trapped in camps outside Rakhine's capital, Sittwe.
Rohingya were thought to number around
1 million people in Myanmar until late last year. That October, a Rohingya
militant group killed several officers in attacks on police posts, and the
military retaliation sent 87,000 Rohingya fleeing. A larger militant attack
on Aug. 25 killed dozens of security forces, and the military response was
swift and comprehensive.
By the tens of thousands, Rohingya
began fleeing, their villages set aflame, some of the survivors bearing
wounds from gunshots and land mines. Though the waves of refugees are now
thinner, people are still crossing the Myanmar border nearly three month
Suu Kyi in her remarks Tuesday was
hopeful a memorandum of understanding could be agreed upon soon to allow for
the safe, voluntary return of people who fled to Bangladesh. She did not
call them Rohingya, a name shunned by many in Myanmar who believe they are
Amnesty International's report
cautioned that economic development of Rakhine should not be a tool of
further discrimination. Myanmar has supported an international expert
panel's recommendations on developing the impoverished state, but the same
report urged Myanmar to grant citizenship and ensure that other rights of
Rohingya were protected.
Foreign ministers and representatives
of 51 countries began a meeting in Naypyitaw, Myanmar's capital, on Monday
in a forum that aims to further political and economic cooperation but takes
place against the backdrop of the refugee crisis.
"The international community must wake
up to this daily nightmare and face the reality of what has been happening
in Rakhine State for years," said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International's
Senior Director for Research. "While development is an important part of the
solution, it cannot be done in a way which further entrenches
discrimination. The international community, and in particular donors, must
ensure that their engagement does not make them complicit in these
Giant swastika unearthed in Germany
A giant Swastika-shaped foundation sits on a
construction site in Hamburg, northern Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 21. The
foundation was the base of a statue during Nazi times and remained
undiscovered for more than 70 years. (Christian Charisius/dpa via AP)
Berlin (AP) — Construction workers in Germany have unearthed a giant
concrete swastika on a sports field in the northern city of Hamburg.
The German news agency dpa reported
Tuesday workers were digging in the ground with an excavator to build
changing rooms when they suddenly hit the four-by-four meter (13-by-13 foot)
Members of the sports club at the
Hein-Kling stadium in the city's Billstedt district told dpa the swastika
served as a foundation for a monument that was torn down decades ago.
City officials say they want the
swastika, which was buried 40 centimeters (1.3 feet) below the ground, gone
as quickly as possible. Because it's too heavy to be transported away, they
are planning to destroy it with jackhammers..
Charles Manson, whose brutality made him face of evil, dead
In this 1969 file photo, Charles Manson is
escorted to court in Los Angeles during an arraignment phase. Manson, cult
leader and mastermind behind 1969 deaths of actress Sharon Tate and several
others, died on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. He was 83. (AP Photo, File)
Los Angeles (AP) — Charles
Manson, the hippie cult leader who became the hypnotic-eyed face of evil
across America after masterminding the gruesome murders of pregnant actress
Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles during the summer of 1969, died
Sunday night after nearly a half-century in prison. He was 83.
Manson died of natural causes at a
California hospital while serving a life sentence, his name synonymous to
this day with unspeakable violence and depravity.
Michele Hanisee, president of the
Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County, reacted to
the death by quoting the late Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who put
Manson behind bars. Bugliosi said: "Manson was an evil, sophisticated con
man with twisted and warped moral values."
"Today, Manson's victims are the ones
who should be remembered and mourned on the occasion of his death," Hanisee
A petty criminal who had been in and
out of jail since childhood, the charismatic, guru-like Manson surrounded
himself in the 1960s with runaways and other lost souls and then sent his
disciples to butcher some of L.A.'s rich and famous in what prosecutors said
was a bid to trigger a race war — an idea he got from a twisted reading of
the Beatles song "Helter Skelter."
The slayings horrified the world and,
together with the deadly violence that erupted later in 1969 during a
Rolling Stones concert at California's Altamont Speedway, exposed the
dangerous, drugged-out underside of the counterculture movement and seemed
to mark the death of the era of peace and love.
Despite the overwhelming evidence
against him, Manson maintained during his tumultuous trial in 1970 that he
was innocent and that society itself was guilty.
"These children that come at you with
knives, they are your children. You taught them; I didn't teach them. I just
tried to help them stand up," he said in a courtroom soliloquy.
Linda Deutsch, the longtime courts
reporter for The Associated Press who covered the Manson case, said he "left
a legacy of evil and hate and murder."
"He was able to take young people who
were impressionable and convince them he had the answer to everything and he
turned them into killers," she said. "It was beyond anything we had ever
seen before in this country."
California Corrections Department
spokeswoman Vicky Waters said it has yet to be determined what happens to
Manson's body. It was also unclear if Manson requested funeral services of
Prison officials previously said Manson
had no known next of kin, and state law says that if no relative or legal
representative surfaces within 10 days, then it's up to the department to
determine whether the body is cremated or buried.
The Manson Family, as his followers
were called, slaughtered five of its victims on Aug. 9, 1969, at Tate's
home: the actress, who was 8½ months pregnant, coffee heiress Abigail
Folger, celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, Polish movie director Voityck
Frykowski and Steven Parent, a friend of the estate's caretaker. Tate's
husband, "Rosemary's Baby" director Roman Polanski, was out of the country
at the time.
The next night, a wealthy grocer and
his wife, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, were stabbed to death in their home
The killers scrawled such phrases as
"Pigs" and a misspelled "Healter Skelter" in blood at the crime scenes.
Manson was arrested three months later.
In the annals of American crime, he became the personification of evil, a
short, shaggy-haired, bearded figure with a demonic stare and an "X'' —
later turned into a swastika — carved into his forehead.
"Many people I know in Los Angeles
believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969," author Joan
Didion wrote in her 1979 book "The White Album."
After a trial that lasted nearly a
year, Manson and three followers — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and
Leslie Van Houten — were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.
Another defendant, Charles "Tex" Watson, was convicted later. All were
spared execution and given life sentences after the California Supreme Court
struck down the death penalty in 1972.
Atkins died behind bars in 2009.
Krenwinkel, Van Houten and Watson remain in prison.
Another Manson devotee, Lynette
"Squeaky" Fromme, tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975, but
her gun jammed. She served 34 years in prison.
Manson was born in Cincinnati on Nov.
12, 1934, to a teenager, possibly a prostitute, and was in reform school by
the time he was 8. After serving a 10-year sentence for check forgery in the
1960s, Manson was said to have pleaded with authorities not to release him
because he considered prison home.
"My father is the jailhouse. My father
is your system," he would later say in a monologue on the witness stand. "I
am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you."
He was set free in San Francisco during
the heyday of the hippie movement in the city's Haight-Ashbury section, and
though he was in his mid-30s by then, he began collecting followers — mostly
women — who likened him to Jesus Christ. Most were teenagers; many came from
good homes but were at odds with their parents.
The "family" eventually established a
commune-like base at the Spahn Ranch, a ramshackle former movie location
outside Los Angeles, where Manson manipulated his followers with drugs,
oversaw orgies and subjected them to bizarre lectures.
He had musical ambitions and befriended
rock stars, including Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. He also met Terry Melcher, a
music producer who had lived in the same house that Polanski and Tate later
By the summer of 1969, Manson had
failed to sell his songs, and the rejection was later seen as a trigger for
the violence. He complained that Wilson took a Manson song called "Cease to
Exist," revised it into "Never Learn Not to Love" and recorded it with the
Beach Boys without giving Manson credit.
Manson was obsessed with Beatles music,
particularly "Piggies" and "Helter Skelter," a hard-rocking song that he
interpreted as forecasting the end of the world. He told his followers that
"Helter Skelter is coming down" and predicted a race war would destroy the
"Everybody attached themselves to us,
whether it was our fault or not," the Beatles' George Harrison, who wrote
"Piggies," later said of the murders. "It was upsetting to be associated
with something so sleazy as Charles Manson."
According to testimony, Manson sent his
devotees out on the night of Tate's murder with instructions to "do
something witchy." The state's star witness, Linda Kasabian, who was granted
immunity, testified that Manson tied up the LaBiancas, then ordered his
followers to kill. But Manson insisted: "I have killed no one, and I have
ordered no one to be killed."
His trial was nearly scuttled when
President Richard Nixon said Manson was "guilty, directly or indirectly."
Manson grabbed a newspaper and held up the front-page headline for jurors to
read: "Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares." Attorneys demanded a mistrial but
were turned down.
From then on, jurors, sequestered at a
hotel for 10 months, traveled to and from the courtroom in buses with
blacked-out windows so they could not read the headlines on newsstands.
Manson was also later convicted of the
slayings of a musician and a stuntman.
Over the decades, Manson and his
followers appeared sporadically at parole hearings, where their bids for
freedom were repeatedly rejected. The women suggested they had been
rehabilitated, but Manson himself stopped attending, saying prison had
become his home.
The killings inspired movies and TV
shows, and Bugliosi, the prosecutor, wrote a best-selling book about the
murders, "Helter Skelter." The macabre rock star Marilyn Manson borrowed
part of his stage name from the killer.
"The Manson case, to this day, remains
one of the most chilling in crime history," veteran crime reporter Theo
Wilson wrote in her 1998 memoir, "Headline Justice: Inside the Courtroom —
The Country's Most Controversial Trials." ''Even people who were not yet
born when the murders took place know the name Charles Manson, and shudder."
Bounty offered for beheadings of Bollywood director, actress
Members of India's Rajput community shout
slogans as they protest against the release of Bollywood film "Padmavati" in
Mumbai, India, Monday, Nov. 20. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
New Delhi (AP) — A member of
India's Hindu nationalist ruling party offered 100 million rupees ($1.5
million) to anyone who beheads the lead actress and the director of an
unreleased Bollywood film "Padmavati" rumored to depict a relationship
between a Hindu queen and a Muslim ruler.
Suraj Pal Amu, a Bharatiya Janata Party
leader from the northern state of Haryana, offered the bounty against
actress Deepika Padukone and filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Sunday. The
film's producers postponed the release of the film, which was set to be in
theaters Dec. 1, and Amu was reported by local media to have said at a
public rally that the film would not be allowed to be released at all.
"Padmavati" is based on a 16th century
Sufi epic poem, "Padmavat," in which a brave and beautiful Rajput queen
chose to kill herself rather than be captured by the Muslim sultan of Delhi,
Allaudin Khilji. Over centuries of its retelling, the epic has come to be
seen as history, despite little evidence.
Padukone plays Padmini, the legendary
queen who committed "jauhar," the medieval Rajput practice in which female
royals walked into funeral fires to embrace death over the dishonor of being
"Padmavati" has been in trouble since
the beginning of the year, with fringe groups in the western state of
Rajasthan attacking the film's set, threatening to burn down theaters that
show it and even physically attacking Bhansali in January.
Most of the anger appears to stem from
allegations that Bhansali filmed a romantic dream sequence between the
protagonists, which Bhansali has denied.
Earlier this month, the head of the
Rajput Karni Sena in Rajasthan said Padukone should have her nose cut — a
symbol of public humiliation — for being part of a film that allegedly
insulted the famed queen.
India's 1.3 billion-strong democracy is
the largest in the world and has made great economic strides, but its
politics are held hostage by a complex mix of religion and caste. Books and
movies have been banned or received threats of violence because they either
offend one religious or caste group, or are deemed offensive to Indian
culture in general.
Hollywood movies are routinely scrubbed
of sex scenes, and India's film censor board rejected "Fifty Shades of
Grey." ''The Da Vinci Code" was banned in Goa state, which has a large
In 2014, the publishing house Penguin
India pulled from shelves and destroyed all copies of American historian
Wendy Doniger's "The Hindus: An Alternative History" after a Hindu
right-wing group protested, mainly because they said the book described
Hindu mythological texts as fictional.
Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses"
has been banned since 1998, since many Muslims consider it blasphemous. The
Indian-born Rushdie was forced to cancel a 2012 appearance at the Jaipur
Literary Festival amid protests and threats by prominent Muslim clerics.
Argentina's navy says sounds didn't come from missing sub
A ship leaves a naval base
to join the search for missing submarine ARA San Juan, in Mar del Plata,
Argentina, Monday, Nov. 20. (AP Photo/Marina Devo)
Paul Byrne and Luis Andres Henao
Mar del Plata, Argentina (AP) —
Sounds detected by probes deep in the South Atlantic on Monday did not
come from an Argentine submarine that has been lost for five days, the
country's navy said Monday, dashing newfound hope among relatives of the
44 sailors aboard.
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told
reporters that the "noise" was analyzed and experts determined it was
likely "biological." He said the sounds did not come from tools being
banged against the hull of a submarine as was previously reported by
"We all had hope, but unfortunately
this comes from believing sources that are not trustworthy," Balbi said.
"Some sources were saying that this was banging on the hull in Morse
The noise was heard by two
Argentine navy ships about 220 miles (360 kilometers) from the Argentine
coast and at a depth of about 650 feet (200 meters). A U.S. Navy P-8
Poseidon aircraft was sent to help in the effort to isolate the source
of the sounds.
The ARA San Juan went missing
Wednesday as it sailed from the extreme southern port of Ushuaia to the
coastal city of Mar del Plata. More than a dozen international vessels
and aircraft have joined the search, which has been hindered by stormy
weather that has caused waves up to 20 feet (6 meters).
In the first confirmation of a
malfunction, an Argentine navy official said earlier Monday that the
submarine reported a battery failure Wednesday and was returning to base
when it went missing.
Brief satellite calls over the
weekend had originally been thought to indicate the crew was trying to
re-establish contact, prompting emotional celebrations by family members
and officials. But Balbi said earlier Monday that officials analyzed the
seven low-frequency satellite signals and determined they were not
received from the submarine.
Although the German-built
diesel-electric vessel carried enough food, oxygen and fuel for the crew
to survive about 90 days on the sea's surface, the sub had only enough
oxygen to last seven days submerged, Balbi said.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis, a
native of Argentina, said he was sending "fervent prayers" for the crew.
The U.S. Navy ordered its Undersea
Rescue Command based in San Diego, California, to deploy to Argentina to
support the search for the submarine. The command includes a remotely
operated vehicle and vessels capable of rescuing people from bottomed
Pledges of help also came from
Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil and Britain, the latter sending a polar
exploration vessel, HMS Protector.
Some relatives of the missing crew
members took to social media Monday to ask for support during the
"Pray so that my husband, Fernando
Santilli can return home," Jesica Gopar wrote. "He's in the San Juan
The submarine was originally
scheduled to arrive Monday at the navy's base in Mar del Plata, which is
about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Buenos Aires. Argentine
President Mauricio Macri met with family members at the base as they
waited anxiously for news about their loved ones.
"We can make up a thousand movies
with happy and sad endings, but the reality is that the days pass by and
not knowing anything kills you," Carlos Mendoza, the brother of
submarine officer Fernando Ariel Mendoza, told the AP.
"Every minute is oxygen that's
EU takes tough approach to Brexit as talks enter key weeks
European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel
Barnier arrives for a conference to mark the launch of the Centre for
European Reform's new office in Brussels, Monday, Nov. 20. (AP Photo/Geert
Raf Casert and Jill Lawless
Brussels (AP) — The European
Union's top Brexit negotiator on Monday took an uncompromising approach to
the Brexit talks over the next few crucial weeks, saying it's up to Britain
to offer solutions on outstanding issues and insisting other EU
decision-makers could be more unyielding than he has been.
Michel Barnier told a conference in
Brussels that London needs to provide clear proposals soon to find a way for
the U.K. to leave the EU in 2019 but still have a transparent, open border
between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.
"Those who wanted Brexit must offer
solutions," Barnier told a gathering at the Center for European Reform.
Britain is hoping EU leaders will agree
at a Dec. 14-15 summit to start talking about post-Brexit relations and
trade. But the EU is demanding "sufficient progress" first on the Irish
border, the rights of citizens affected by Brexit and the bill Britain must
pay to settle its commitments to the bloc.
Barnier has said Britain has until the
end of November to demonstrate that progress.
On Monday, he dashed British hopes that
the EU is prepared to make big compromises, saying the bloc's legal rules
and commitments had to be respected. And he said there was no point in him
being lenient, since EU nations, their legislators and the European
Parliament will have to approve any deal, too.
Barnier warned that Britain would not
get the close free-trade deal it seeks with the EU unless it stuck to a
"European model" of the economy. Some British advocates of Brexit want the
U.K. to adopt a low-tax, light-regulation free-market economic model once it
leaves the bloc.
"Does it want to stay close to the
European model or does it want to gradually move away from it?" Barnier
asked. He said Britain's answer could be decisive since it will "shape also
the conditions for ratification of that partnership in many national
parliaments and obviously in the European Parliament."
"I do not say this to create problems
but to avoid problems," he said. A late rejection of a divorce agreement in
the fall of 2018 by European legislators could create immense problems when
Britain leaves on March 29, 2019.
He also dashed hopes for a compromise
in which Britain could still use some of the EU's single market of free
movement of goods, services, capital and labor.
Since Britain wants to end the free
movement of people, Barnier said, "this means that the U.K. will lose the
benefits of the single market. This is a legal reality."
Barnier also has been steadfast in
insisting Britain should settle its outgoing bill before leaving. Britain
has offered some 20 billion pounds (22.5 billion euros, $26 billion), but
the EU is seeking more than double that.
The British government's Brexit
committee is meeting Monday to discuss negotiations. Prime Minister Theresa
May's spokesman would not confirm reports that Britain is preparing to
increase its offer on the Brexit bill by as much as 20 billion pounds.
"The PM has been clear — the U.K. will
honor commitments we have made during the period of our membership," said
spokesman James Slack.
But he said "specific-figure scenarios
are all subject to negotiation."
Suu Kyi blames world conflicts partly on illegal immigration
Myanmar Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi,
right, speaks during the Asia Europe Foreign Ministers (ASEM) meeting at
Myanmar International Convention Centre Monday, Nov. 20, in Naypyitaw,
Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)
Naypyitaw, Myanmar (AP) —
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Monday that the world is facing
instability and conflict in part because illegal immigration spreads
terrorism, as her country faces accusations of violently pushing out
hundreds of thousands of unwanted Rohingya Muslims.
Suu Kyi did not directly mention the
refugee exodus in a speech to European and Asian foreign ministers in
Myanmar's capital, Naypyitaw. But her speech highlighted the views of many
in the country who see the Rohingya as illegal immigrants and accuse them of
The ongoing Rohingya exodus is sure to
be raised by the visitors at the meetings Monday and Tuesday.
Suu Kyi said the world is in a new
period of instability as conflicts around the world give rise to new threats
and emergencies, citing "Illegal immigration's spread of terrorism and
violent extremism, social disharmony and even the threat of nuclear war.
Conflicts take away peace from societies, leaving behind underdevelopment
and poverty, pushing peoples and even countries away from one another."
Myanmar has been widely criticized for
the military crackdown that has driven more than 620,000 Rohingya to flee
Rakhine state into neighboring Bangladesh. The United Nations has said the
crackdown appears to be a campaign of "ethnic cleansing," and some have
called for re-imposing international sanctions that were lifted as Myanmar
transitioned from military rule to elected government.
Foreign ministers and representatives
of 51 countries are meeting in Naypyitaw in a forum that aims to further
political and economic cooperation but takes place against the backdrop of
the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis.
A flurry of diplomatic activity
preceded Monday's opening, with the foreign ministers of Germany and Sweden
joining the EU's foreign policy chief in a visit to the teeming refugee
camps in Bangladesh. China's Wang Yi was also in Bangladesh and met
privately with Suu Kyi on Sunday in Myanmar following that trip.
Suu Kyi is Myanmar's foreign minister
and state councilor, a title created for the country's once-leading voice
for democracy since she is constitutionally banned from the presidency. She
does not command the military and cannot direct its operations in northern
Rakhine state, but her remarks in seeming support of the brutal crackdown
have damaged her global reputation.
In her speech to the visiting foreign
ministers, Suu Kyi also cited natural disasters caused by climate change as
compounding the world's problems. She said mutual understanding of problems
like terrorism would be crucial for peace and economic development.
"I believe that if policymakers develop
a true understanding on each of those constraints and difficulties, the
process of addressing global problems will become easier and more
effective," she said. "It is only through mutual understanding that strong
bonds of partnership can be forged."
The European Union's top diplomat said
earlier Monday that she is encouraging Suu Kyi to implement the
recommendations of an expert panel on ensuring stability in Rakhine state
and work was still needed on that.
The commission, led by former U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, called for promoting investment and
community-directed growth to alleviate poverty in Rakhine, which Myanmar
officials have supported. But it also called for Myanmar to grant
citizenship and ensure other rights to the Rohingya, which are hotly
disputed and effectively render most of them stateless.
The commission, established last year
at Suu Kyi's behest, issued its report the day before a Rohingya insurgent
group killed dozens in attacks on multiple police posts on Aug. 25. The
military's response has been called disproportionate and a textbook example
of ethnic cleansing. Rohingya now in Bangladesh have described
indiscriminate shootings, rapes and arsons that wiped out whole villages.
Some survivors bear wounds from gunshots and land mines.
"Stopping the violence, stopping the
flow of refugees and (guaranteeing) full humanitarian access to Rakhine
state and safe, sustainable repatriation of the refugees is going to be
needed," said Federica Mogherini, the high representative for EU foreign
She said the EU was encouraging
Bangladesh and Myanmar to work on that issue.
German government talks collapse; Merkel seeks to reassure
Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the media during a news conference in
Berlin, Germany, Monday, Nov. 20. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Berlin (AP) — German Chancellor
Angela Merkel pledged early Monday to maintain stability after the Free
Democratic Party pulled out of talks on forming a new government with her
conservative bloc and the left-leaning Greens, raising the possibility of
Merkel told reporters that the parties
had been close to reaching a consensus on how to proceed with formal
coalition talks but that the Free Democrats decided abruptly to pull out
just before midnight Sunday — a move she said she respected, but found
She said she would consult with
Germany's president later in the day to brief him on the negotiations and
discuss what comes next.
Without bringing the Free Democrats
back to the table, Merkel will be forced to try to continue her current
governing coalition with the Social Democrats, although that center-left
party has said it will not do so, or she could try to form a minority
government, which was seen as unlikely. Otherwise Germany will have to hold
"It is at least a day of deep
reflection on how to go forward in Germany," Merkel said. "But I will do
everything possible to ensure that this country will be well led through
these difficult weeks."
Merkel's conservative Christian
Democrats and sister Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, the pro-business
Free Democrats and the left-leaning Greens had already blown past Merkel's
own deadline of Thursday to agree on a basis for opening formal negotiations
on a coalition of all four parties, a configuration that has never been
tried at a national level in Germany.
Key sticking points were the issues of
migration and climate change.
Among other things the Greens were
pushing for Germany to end its use of coal and combustion engines by 2030,
though they had signaled they were open to some compromise.
The other parties are also committed to
reducing carbon emissions, but Merkel's bloc hadn't put a date on when to
phase out coal. The Free Democrats also expressed concern about what the
moves would mean for jobs and Germany's economic competitiveness.
On migration, the Christian Social
Union wanted an annual cap on refugees, while the Greens sought to allow
more categories of recent migrants to bring their closest relatives to join
Merkel said that "we thought we were on
a path where we could have reached agreement," when that the Free Democrats
decided to pull out.
Free Democrat leader Christian Lindner
told reporters that his party decided to withdraw rather than further
compromise its principles and sign on to policies the party was not
"It is better not to govern, than to
govern falsely," he said.
Greens politician Reinhard Buetikofer
criticized Lindner's decision, saying on Twitter that the Free Democrat had
chosen "a kind of populist agitation instead of governmental
Looking ahead, if it comes to a new
election, polls currently suggest it would produce a very similar parliament
to the current one, which would make efforts to form a new government
Though Merkel could also abandon the
Free Democrats and the Greens and instead form a coalition with the
center-left Social Democrats, her current partners in the outgoing
government, the Social Democrats have been adamant about going into
opposition following its disastrous result in the Sept. 24 election.
Party leader Martin Schulz as recently
as Sunday again ruled out the possibility of pairing up with Merkel's bloc
to form a new government.
Zimbabwe president defies mounting pressure to leave office
President Robert Mugabe delivers his speech during a live broadcast at State
House in Harare, Sunday, Nov, 19. (AP Photo)
Christopher Torchia and Farai
Harare, Zimbabwe (AP) —
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe defied calls to quit Sunday, saying he
will preside over a ruling party congress in December in an announcement
that could trigger impeachment proceedings this week and more protests
demanding his ouster.
In a televised address, the 93-year-old
Mugabe acknowledged what he said were "a whole range of concerns" of
Zimbabweans about the chaotic state of the government and the economy, but
he stopped short of what many people in the southern African nation were
hoping for — a statement that he was resigning after nearly four decades in
The once-formidable Mugabe is now a
virtually powerless, isolated figure, making his continued incumbency all
the more unusual and extending Zimbabwe's political limbo. He is largely
confined to his private home by the military. The ruling party has fired him
from his leadership post, and huge crowds poured into the streets of Harare,
the capital, on Saturday to demand that he leave office.
Yet the president sought to project
authority in his speech, which he delivered after shaking hands with
security force commanders, one of whom leaned over a couple of times to help
Mugabe find his place on the page he was reading.
The Central Committee of the ruling
ZANU-PF party voted to dismiss Mugabe as party leader at a meeting earlier
Sunday and said impeachment proceedings would begin if he does not resign by
noon Monday. Mugabe made no reference to the party moves against him,
instead saying he would play a leading role in a party congress planned for
"The congress is due in a few weeks
from now," Mugabe said. "I will preside over its processes, which must not
be prepossessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or compromise the
outcomes in the eyes of the public."
Mugabe has discussed his possible
resignation on two occasions with military commanders after they effectively
took over the country on Tuesday. The commanders were troubled by his firing
of his longtime deputy and the positioning of unpopular first lady Grace
Mugabe to succeed him. He referred to the military's concerns about the
state of Zimbabwe, where the economy has deteriorated amid factional battles
within the ruling party.
"Whatever the pros and cons of the way
they went about registering those concerns, I, as the president of Zimbabwe,
as their commander in chief, do acknowledge the issues they have drawn my
attention to, and do believe that these were raised in the spirit of honesty
and out of deep and patriotic concern for the stability of our nation and
for the welfare of our people," Mugabe said.
The deputy whom Mugabe fired, former
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is positioned to become Zimbabwe's next
leader after the party committee made him its nominee to take over from
Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from white minority rule in 1980.
Committee members stood, cheered and
sang after Mugabe was removed from his post as party leader. Meeting chair
Obert Mpofu referred to him as "outgoing president" and called it a "sad
day" for Mugabe after his decades in power.
"He has been our leader for a long
time, and we have all learned a great deal from him," Mpofu said. But
Mugabe, he said, "surrounded himself with a wicked cabal."
The meeting replaced Mugabe as party
chief with Mnangagwa and recalled the first lady as head of the women's
league, in decisions set to be ratified at the party congress next month.
The committee accused the first lady of "preaching hate, divisiveness and
assuming roles and powers not delegated to the office."
Zimbabwean officials never revealed
details of Mugabe's talks with the military, but the military appeared to
favor a voluntary resignation to maintain a veneer of legality in the
political transition. Mugabe, in turn, has likely used whatever leverage he
has left to try to preserve his legacy or even protect himself and his
family from possible prosecution.
Hours before Mugabe spoke on
television, Chris Mutsvangwa, head of the country's liberation war veterans,
said more protests could occur if the president does not step aside. He said
he was concerned that the military could end up opening fire to protect
Mugabe from protesters.
"We would expect that Mugabe would not
have the prospect of the military shooting at people, trying to defend him,"
Mutsvangwa said. "The choice is his."
Indian passenger train hits and kills 2 Asian elephants
inspect the carcasses of two endangered Asian elephants that were hit and
killed by a passenger train near a railway track in Thakur Kuchi village on
the outskirts of Gauhati, Assam state, India, Sunday, Nov. 19. (AP
Gauhati, India (AP) — Two
endangered Asian elephants were hit and killed Sunday by a passenger train
near the city of Gauhati in northeastern India.
Wildlife warden Prodipta Baruah said
the elephants were part of a herd of about 15 that had ventured into the
area in search of food before dawn.
Baruah said the other elephants crossed
the track and the final two were attempting to cross when the train struck
Wildlife workers and veterinarians
arrived to perform autopsies on the elephants before burying them in nearby
There was no major damage to the train
and no passengers were injured.
Gauhati is in Assam state, which is
home to several thousand wild Asian elephants. The animals are revered in
Asia but are considered endangered due to habitat loss and poaching.
Roaming elephants in the region are
struck by trains fairly regularly.
Greece floods death toll rises to 20 with discovery of body
stands at the entrance of his shop as a bulldozer collects debris at Mandra
town, west of Athens, on Saturday, Nov. 18. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Athens, Greece (AP) —
Authorities in Greece say that the body of an 83-year-old man has been found
in the Athens suburb of Mandra that was struck by flash flooding, raising
the overall death toll to 20.
The body was dug out from debris on
Sunday several kilometers from where the man was last seen. He had gone
hunting when the deadly flash flood struck Wednesday.
Two people are still missing. The
government has declared an emergency in areas in central and northern Greece
hit by heavy rains last week. There were no casualties in those areas.
More heavy rain fell Sunday across
Greece and the bad weather is expected to continue Monday.
EU official backs Spain in fight against Catalan secession
European Commission President Jean-Claude
Juncker, center, arrives for an EU summit in Goteborg, Sweden on Friday,
Nov. 17. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Barcelona, Spain (AP) —
Catalonia's secessionist push is nothing short of a "disaster" that the
European Union will work to impede in support of a unified Spain, the
European Commission's president said in comments published Sunday.
Spain is facing its worst national
crisis in nearly four decades after Catalonia's regional parliament violated
the Spanish Constitution by voting to declare independence Oct. 27. Prime
Minister Mariano Rajoy responded by firing its government, dissolving the
Catalan parliament and calling a regional election for Dec. 21.
"Catalonia is an enormous concern,"
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told the Spanish newspaper
El Pais. "I don't like the situation it has provoked. It is a disaster in
several ways. It has charged the political atmosphere, it has fractured
Spanish and Catalan society, it has caused problems inside families, between
friends. It's sad."
Juncker sent a message to Carles
Puigdemont, the ex-Catalan president who fled to Belgium, that Catalan
secessionists "must not underestimate the wide support that Mariano Rajoy
has throughout Europe."
The threat to shatter the EU's
fifth-largest economy comes while the 28-nation bloc is handling its divorce
with Britain and the impact it will have on the continent's economy and
fragile common political project.
"I am in favor of a Europe of regions,
of respecting their identity, of what makes them different," he said. "But
that does not mean that we are going to support these regions in all their
adventures, which sometimes are a tremendous error, and even more so if one
declares independence unilaterally based on a referendum that lacked in
Puigdemont and Catalonia's separatists
claim a mandate for independence from a referendum on secession held against
the will of Spanish authorities on Oct. 1. The ballot had been banned by
Spain's top court, was boycotted by parties opposed to independence, and
failed to meet international standards. Less than half the electorate
participated in the poll, which the separatists won in a landslide despite
violent police raids. Spain's government has defended the police response,
saying it was proportionate to the aggression officers met.
"The (Spanish) government and the
(Catalan government) can argue about the degree of its self-rule, but Europe
is a club of nations, and I cannot accept that regions go against the
nations. Especially when they are outside the law," Juncker said.
Spain's Constitution deems the nation
Puigdemont and four former regional
ministers are currently fugitives from Spain and facing extradition from
Belgium after they fled to Brussels almost three weeks ago.
Polls forecast a tight race for the
December vote between parties in favor of secession and those who want
Catalonia to remain a part of Spain.
Juncker said that Catalonia's election
next month "could, should improve" the situation.
Update November 18-19, 2017
Argentine navy loses contact with submarine carrying 44
photo shows the ARA San Juan submarine near Buenos Aires in Argentina.
(Argentina Navy via AP )
Almudena Calatrava and Paul Byrne
Buenos Aires, Argentina (AP) —
Argentina's Navy said Friday it has lost contact with a submarine carrying
44 crew members off the country's southern coast and has mounted an
The Navy said that ships and aircraft
were searching near the last known location of the ARA San Juan, a
German-built diesel-electric vessel, which had not been heard from since
The Navy said it was scanning all
possible radio transmission frequencies for a sign of the San Juan.
Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told The
Associated Press that it is possible that the submarine had an electrical
issue and said it could not yet be termed lost.
"The last position (registered) was two
days ago. Without wanting to be alarmist or overdramatic, the facts are that
there no form of communications could be established between the vessel and
its command, even with the alternative methods that the submarine has,"
"What we interpret is that there must
have been a serious problem with the communications (infrastructure) or with
the electrical supply, cables, antennae or other (onboard) equipment."
Adm. Gabriel Gonzalez, chief of the Mar
del Plata base that was the submarine's destination, said the vessel had
sufficient food and oxygen.
"We have a loss of communications; we
are not talking of an emergency," he said.
Still, relatives of some of the
crewmembers were at the base awaiting word of the search.
"We are praying to God and asking that
all Argentines help us to pray that they keep navigating and that they can
be found," Claudio Rodriguez, the brother of one of the crewmembers, told
the local Todo Noticias TV channel.
"We have faith that it's only a loss of
communications," he added.
Balbi said the sub was headed from the
naval base at Ushuaia in Argentina's extreme south to Mar del Plata, about
250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of Buenos Aires. He asked for patience
while the search is carried out and said that the sub must surface so visual
or radar contact can be made.
The Argentine Foreign Ministry said in
a statement that the governments of Britain, Chile and the United States had
offered "logistical help and an exchange of information for this
humanitarian search." The statement also said that Argentina is also working
with authorities in neighboring countries in case it needs support to locate
The San Juan was commissioned in 1985
and was most recently refit in 2014.
Mugabe emerges from house arrest amid pressure to exit
President Robert Mugabe sits for formal photographs after presiding over a
student graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University on the outskirts of
Harare, Zimbabwe Friday, Nov. 17. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Farai Mutsaka and Christopher
Harare, Zimbabwe (AP) —
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe emerged for the first time Friday from
military-imposed house arrest, presiding at a university graduation ceremony
in a fragile show of normalcy even as former loyalists across the country
demanded that he resign after nearly four decades in power.
In an extraordinary evening newscast,
state broadcaster ZBC — for decades, a mouthpiece for the Mugabe government
— reported on the surging campaign for his ouster and showed video of ruling
party members saying he should resign.
Clad in a blue academic gown, the
93-year-old leader earlier joined academics on a red carpet and sat in a
high-backed chair in front of several thousand students and guests, a
routine he has conducted for many years as the official chancellor of
This time, however, the spectacle was
jarring because the authority of the world's oldest head of state, once seen
as impregnable, is evaporating daily.
That Mugabe was permitted to go to the
Zimbabwe Open University event possibly reflected a degree of respect by the
military for the president, a former rebel leader who took power after
independence from white minority rule in 1980. The armed forces are in a
delicate position, sending tanks and troops into Harare's streets this week
to effectively end the Mugabe era, while refraining from more heavy-handed
measures that would heighten accusations that they staged a coup and
violated the constitution.
Meanwhile, the ruling ZANU-PF party
signaled impatience with Mugabe amid negotiations on his exit. Party
branches passed no-confidence votes in all 10 Zimbabwean provinces, and the
state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper said all called for the resignation of
Mugabe and his wife. They seek a special meeting within two days of the
party's Central Committee.
Demonstrations were called for Saturday
in Harare to support the military's move against Mugabe, who drew applause
from the graduating students on the outskirts of the capital only when he
made brief, perfunctory remarks, usually to bestow degrees on delighted
graduates. The military said it supports plans for a march, as long as the
demonstration is orderly and peaceful.
"It was a long struggle," graduate
Arthur Chipra said of the years of effort that went into his master's degree
in conflict resolution. He declined to say anything when asked what he
thought about Mugabe's presence at the ceremony, highlighting the lingering
caution of many in a country where people have been prosecuted for
criticizing the president.
Discontent with Mugabe has been growing
because of the dire state of the economy, concerns about corruption and
mismanagement, a sense that he is no longer physically capable of leading
the country due to advanced age and the ambitions of his wife, Grace Mugabe,
to succeed him.
The military stepped into the factional
battles of the ruling party on Wednesday after the firing of Vice President
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is close to the armed forces and was heavily
criticized by both Mugabes.
Mnangagwa, who fled Zimbabwe after his
dismissal, will return only after the process to remove Mugabe is complete,
high-level supporters told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of
anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters about the
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson called for a return to civilian rule in Zimbabwe, urged any
new leader to respect democracy and human rights, and said the country has a
chance to put itself on a "new path."
China said it hopes Zimbabwe's
political situation can be resolved "under the legal framework" and that
stability can be restored.
Questions have been raised about
China's possible role in Zimbabwe's affairs because Zimbabwe's army
commander was in Beijing last week. China said the visit by Gen. Constantino
Chiwenga was a "normal military exchange."
As Mugabe tries to hang on in
negotiations over his departure from office, he has asked for "a few more
days, a few more months," the chairman of the influential war veterans'
association in Zimbabwe told reporters.
Chris Mutsvangwa, a Mnangagwa ally,
said there is little tolerance for Mugabe to extend his presidency.
Several ruling party figures linked to
Grace Mugabe — Jonathan Moyo, the higher education minister; Saviour
Kasukuwere, the local government minister; and Ignatious Chombo, the finance
minister — were detained during military operations, according to
Mutsvangwa. Moyo was not at the graduation ceremony, even though he had been
scheduled to attend.
The military said "significant progress
has been made in their operation to weed out criminals around President
Mugabe," saying they had committed "crimes that were causing social and
economic suffering in Zimbabwe."
Photographs of talks at Mugabe's
official residence show the president, Defense Minister Sydney Sekeramayi,
Intelligence Minister Kembo Mohadi, South African Cabinet ministers who are
acting as mediators and a local Catholic priest, the Rev. Fidelis Mukonori,
whom Mugabe has used as a mediator before. Grace Mugabe was not pictured.
Negotiations on Mugabe's exit come ahead of a key ruling party congress next
month, and elections next year.
There was no obvious military presence
at the university graduation that Mugabe attended. His security was handled
by presidential guards. Burly men in suits surrounded him as he walked
slowly out of the graduation tent after declaring — to applause — an end to
Greece: Search continues for 6 still missing in flash floods
A dog sits
on a flooded beach in Nea Peramos west of Athens on Friday, Nov. 17. (AP
Athens, Greece (AP) — Hopes were
diminishing as darkness fell Friday for six people reported missing in
deadly flash floods that struck near Athens, killing 16.
The fire department said search and
rescue efforts continued to locate the six, all reported missing in the
Mandra district on the western outskirts of the Greek capital, which was the
area hardest hit.
They included two hunters, three
motorists and one person who was reported missing from outside a canteen
Wednesday's flash floods, which came
after an overnight storm, turned roads into raging torrents of mud that
flung cars against buildings, inundated homes and businesses and submerged
part of a major highway.
Hundreds of homes and businesses were
destroyed, and residents struggled with brooms and hoses to clear their
properties of tons of mud, water and debris. Cranes were called in to remove
smashed cars from atop walls and porches.
The flooding is one of the worst
disasters to have hit the Athens area in decades. Several of those who died
drowned trapped in flooded homes and stores, while others were motorists
carried away by the floodwater. Two were men whose bodies were recovered by
the coast guard after having been swept out to sea.
More bad weather, with heavy rainfall
and storms, lashed the capital Friday, flooding a central road in the
Keratsini area west of Athens, cutting off traffic.
The fire department said it had
received 910 calls for help in the western areas of the capital since
Wednesday morning to pump water from flooded buildings and transport people
to safety. It said its crews rescued 96 people trapped in vehicles and
The repeated storms led to another 70
calls for help to the fire department in other areas of the Greek capital
and the nearby island of Aegina on Friday, and hundreds more from towns in
The Athens municipality said it was
providing 2.5 tons of food and hygiene items, as well as clothing, bedding
and medicine to those affected. Parliament announced it was giving 1 million
euros to help residents in the flooded areas, while the Merchant Marine
Ministry said it had arranged for a cruise ship docked in the nearby port of
Piraeus to provide housing for those left homeless.
Climate talks wrap up with progress on Paris rulebook
A replica of
the Statue of Liberty by Danish artist Jens Galschiot emits smoke in a park
outside the 23rd UN Conference of the Parties (COP) climate talks in Bonn,
Germany, Friday, Nov. 17. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Bonn, Germany (AP) — Global
talks on curbing climate change wrapped up Friday, with delegates and
observers claiming progress on several key details of the 2015 Paris accord.
The two-week negotiations focused on a
range of issues including transparency, financial assistance for poor
nations and how to keep raising countries' targets for cutting carbon
"We are making good progress on the
Paris agreement work program, and we are on track to complete that work by
the deadline," Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told diplomats hours
before the meeting in Bonn, Germany, was due to conclude.
Bainimarama, who presided over the
talks, faced the challenging task of reconciling the often conflicting
positions of rich and poor countries, especially when it comes to what each
side needs to do to curb climate change.
By late Friday, two main issues
remained unresolved: the question of how far in advance rich countries need
to commit billions in funding to help developing nations, and a dispute over
whether Turkey should have access to financial aid meant for poor countries.
Signatories of the Paris agreement want
to keep global warming significantly below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6
Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. That goal won't be achieved unless
countries make further efforts to sharply reduce carbon emissions caused
mainly by the burning of fossil fuels.
Observers say the U.S. delegation
played a largely constructive role during the talks, despite the Trump
administration's threat to pull out of the Paris accord.
While one group of American officials
led by White House adviser George David Banks raised eyebrows by hosting a
pro-coal event during the talks, a second group consisting of seasoned U.S.
negotiators quietly got on with the painstaking job of refining the
international climate rulebook, said Elliot Diringer, a veteran of such U.N.
"It's a smaller team but a strong
team," said Diringer, who is the executive vice president of the Center for
Climate and Energy Solutions, a Washington think tank. "From all accounts
they have been playing a constructive role in the room advancing largely the
same positions as before."
Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at
the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, cautioned that while the
Bonn talks might be considered a diplomatic success, little concrete
progress has been made on tackling what he called the "coal trap."
"We are being pressured by the mass of
available coal: it's very cheap on the market but it's very expensive for
society because of air pollution and climate change," he said, noting that
Japan, Turkey, Egypt and Indonesia plan to keep investing in coal-fired
power plants — a major source of carbon emissions.
Environmental groups voiced
disappointment at German Chancellor Angela Merkel's failure to announce a
deadline for her country to stop using coal, even as other nations such as
Canada, Britain and France committed to a phase-out during the talks.
Leadership hopes are now being pinned
on President Emmanuel Macron of France, who is hosting a climate summit in
Paris next month to mark the second anniversary of the landmark accord.
Further low-level talks will take place
over the next year in order to present leaders with final drafts for
approval at the next climate meeting in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018.
Disbelief as 'most wanted' Indonesia politician hospitalized
paramedics use a blanket to cover Indonesian House Speaker Setya Novanto,
center, who lies on a stretcher as he is transferred into Cipto Mangunkusumo
Hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Nov. 17. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Niniek Karmini and Stephen Wright
Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — A top
Indonesian politician embroiled in a scandal involving an epic theft of
public money has been hospitalized after a car crash that is being widely
mocked online as another tactic to avoid arrest.
Indonesians were hardly surprised that
their Donald Trump-admiring speaker of parliament Setya Novanto was nowhere
to be found this week when police went to arrest him. But the car crash has
unleashed a wave of incredulity among a public often indifferent to the
slippery moves of Indonesian politicians.
Images swept across social media
Thursday night showing a black SUV with a dented grill resting against a
power pole, and Novanto apparently unconscious in a hospital bed with a
bandage on his head. Jakarta police have yet to reach a conclusion in their
accident investigation, but Novanto's lawyer said the politician was injured
and anyone who calls the incident fake should be reported to police.
Some aren't buying it, calling the
crash Novanto's most outrageous move yet to stymie the investigation and
comparing it to a plot twist in one of the homegrown TV melodramas that
regularly captivate millions.
Novanto, once hailed by Trump as one of
Indonesia's most powerful men, has for months been using every political,
medical and legal maneuver available to avoid questioning after being named
a suspect in the $170 million corruption scandal.
In recent weeks he'd been unable to
respond to summons for questioning, citing a variety of health problems that
required hospital treatment, though earlier this month had apparently
gathered enough strength to be a guest at the wedding of the daughter of
"Setya Novanto and his team of lawyers
must think we Indonesians are all fools," said Rina Amelia, a 29-year-old
barista at a Jakarta cafe. "This accident? Seriously?"
The Corruption Eradication Commission
had said it would declare Novanto a most-wanted fugitive within 24 hours
after he avoided arrest during a Wednesday night raid by commission
officials and paramilitary police on his Jakarta home.
A day later Novanto was being driven to
an appointment in Jakarta when the accident happened.
Novanto's lawyer, Fredrich Yunadi, said
the politician was sitting in the back of the car and the driver was turning
his head to talk to Novanto when he drove into the power pole. The driver, a
reporter from a local TV station, only suffered light injuries but Novanto,
who wasn't wearing a seatbelt, was "badly injured" with symptoms of a
concussion, according to Yunadi.
Officials from the anti-corruption
commission have been at the hospital since Thursday night, Yunadi said.
"I and hospital officials have told
them that such a situation was not good for other patients, but they did not
care," he said.
Mocking memes on social media using a
hashtag that translates as "Save the power pole" quickly went viral.
Some predicted that the next twist in
the drama would be Novanto claiming to have lost his memory and therefore
unable to answer any questions about the corruption scandal.
"Sit back and grab your popcorn, this
ain't over yet," said human rights lawyer Veronica Koman on Twitter.
Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono
said police have not yet reached any conclusion about whether the collision
was purely an accident or otherwise. Yuwono said the MetroTV reporter who
was driving the car would be prosecuted and faces up to three months in
prison if convicted of negligent driving.
Anti-corruption police allege that
Novanto was among about 80 people, mostly officials and legislators, and
several companies used the introduction of a $440 million electronic
identity card system in 2011 and 2012 to steal more than a third of the
Novanto, also chairman of the Golkar
party, which is part of Indonesia's governing coalition, has denied any
A Trump admirer, Novanto made an
unexpected appearance at the future president's news conference at Trump
Tower in New York in September 2015 along with another Indonesian lawmaker,
Fadli Zon. Novanto was introduced by Trump as one of Indonesia's most
powerful men who would do great things for the U.S.
Defying Russia, Serbia holds military drills with Americans
Members of the U.S. Army 173rd Airborne
Brigade and Serbian Army parachutists jump from a US Air Force C-130
transport aircraft during a bilateral Serbian and U.S. airborne exercise at
Lisicji jarak airport, some 15 kilometers north of Belgrade, Serbia, Friday,
Nov. 17. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Belgrade, Serbia (AP) — American
and Serbian paratroopers held joint military exercises Friday in Serbia,
watched with unease by Russia, which is trying to increase its influence in
the Balkans and keep the country within its fold.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic
attended the last day of the four-day drill that included joint jumps by
Serbian and U.S. parachutists from two U.S. Air Force C-130J Hercules
transport planes that flew close to the Serbian capital, Belgrade.
"The joint exercise contributes to the
(military) skills, but also enhances partnership and friendship that was not
always seen in the past," Vucic said. "I'm grateful to our American partners
who have showed that in a short time we could organize these activities."
In 1999, a 78-day U.S.-led NATO
bombardment ended a Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists in
its former province of Kosovo, making the Western military alliance very
unpopular among the Serbs.
John Gronski, the U.S. Army Europe
deputy commanding general, said after the drills that such exercises with
the Serbian forces "build the readiness of both of our militaries and when
you have ready military, a region can be more stable and secure. "
American and NATO-related military
drills in the Balkans regularly trigger anger by the Kremlin, which opposes
its expansion in the former communist Eastern Europe. Serbia is considered
the last remaining Russian ally in the region.
Serbia, which tries to politically
balance between Russia and the West while seeking European Union membership,
claims military neutrality. But Moscow has been arming the country with
fighter jets and other equipment, worrying neighboring states in the region
that saw a bloody civil war in the 1990s.
NATO and Serbia have been improving
cooperation since the country joined its outreach Partnership for Peace
program in 2006.
"I believe that we will improve (our
relations) in the future," Vucic said, adding that "Serbia will,
understandably, jealously preserve its military neutrality."
Gronski, the U.S. general, said whether
Serbia eventually joins NATO depends on politicians.
Cambodia's top court orders opposition party dissolved
stand guard at a blocked street outside the supreme court in Phnom Penh,
Cambodia, Thursday, Nov. 16. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia (AP) —
Cambodia's Supreme Court ordered the country's main opposition party to be
dissolved on Thursday, dealing one of the most crushing blows yet to
democratic aspirations in the increasingly oppressive Southeast Asian state.
The decision means authoritarian leader
Hun Sen, who has held power for more than three decades, will face no
serious challengers in elections due in July — a scenario likely to cement
his rule for years to come.
The verdict was widely expected and
came amid an intense push by Hun Sen's government to neutralize political
opponents and silence critics ahead of the polls.
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue
Party issued a statement saying it would not recognize the ruling and would
maintain its leadership structure. It said the verdict was politically
motivated and deprived millions of their supporters of their right to be
Chief Judge Dith Munty, who is a senior
ruling party member, announced the nine-member court's unanimous ruling in
the capital, Phnom Penh.
He said 118 opposition party members
would also be banned from politics for the next five years, and the verdict
could not be appealed.
The government accuses the CNRP of
plotting a coup and has called for its dissolution for weeks. The opposition
staunchly denies the allegations — a position backed by international rights
groups and independent analysts who say no credible evidence has emerged to
back the claims.
The party had been expected to be a
serious contender in next year's polls. During the last vote in 2013, it
scored major gains in a tense race that saw Hun Sen narrowly retain office.
Since then, the opposition's fortunes
have ebbed dramatically.
Sam Rainsy, who led the party during
that vote, went into exile in 2016 and faces a jail term for a criminal
defamation conviction if he returns. The party's current leader, Kem Sokha,
has been imprisoned since September, charged with treason.
Amid deepening fears over the nation's
fate, more than 20 opposition lawmakers — about half of those with seats in
Parliament — have also fled the country.
Mu Sochua, an opposition party vice
president who is among those who have left, said the struggle for democracy
was not over in Cambodia.
Speaking in London just before the
verdict, she said there were no plans to launch demonstrations immediately.
"But in the heart, in our hearts, in our minds, in our spirits, in our
souls, the fight for democracy will continue. It will not die."
The rights group Amnesty International
blasted the decision, calling it "a blatant act of political repression."
"This is yet more evidence of how the
judiciary in Cambodia is essentially used as an arm of the executive and as
a political tool to silence dissent," said James Gomez, Amnesty
International's director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
"Sadly, this is just the culmination of
several months of threats, rhetoric and outright repression. The authorities
have launched a widespread assault on dissent ... the international
community cannot stand idly — it must send a strong signal that this
crackdown is unacceptable."
The government-led crackdown has
targeted civil society groups and independent media outlets, too. In
September, authorities shut down the English-language Cambodia Daily, and
they have shuttered radio stations that aired programming from U.S.-funded
Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, whose reports they allege are biased.
The government also expelled the U.S.
National Democratic Institute, which helped train political parties and
election monitors, accusing it of colluding with its opponents.
The crackdown reflects a major shift
away from American influence, which has waned for years as Cambodia edges
closer to China. Analysts say Hun Sen has also been emboldened by U.S.
President Donald Trump, who has welcomed Thailand's coup leader to the Oval
Office and praised the Philippine president despite a crackdown on drugs
that has left thousands dead.
Hun Sen has been in office since 1985
and has held a tight grip on power since ousting a co-prime minister in a
bloody 1997 coup.
Although Cambodia is a nominally a
democratic state, its institutions remain fragile and the rule of law weak;
the judiciary is not seen as independent.
Before Thursday's ruling, Hun Sen had
encouraged opposition lawmakers to defect to his ruling party. In a speech
last week to garment workers, he was so confident the court would rule
against the opposition party that he offered anyone 100 to 1 odds if they
were willing to bet it would not happen.
In a speech late Thursday, Hun Sen
called on Cambodians to remain calm and go about their lives. He said the
decision was necessary to maintain peace and political stability in the
Charles Santiago, a Malaysian lawmaker
who chairs the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, slammed the verdict,
calling it "the final nail in the coffin for Cambodian democracy."
"Its decision not only leaves the
country without its only viable opposition party less than a year before
scheduled elections, but also completely undermines Cambodia's institutional
framework and the rule of law," Santiago said. "The CNRP was dissolved not
for breaking any laws, but simply for being too popular and a threat to the
ruling party's dominance."
London police: Final Grenfell fire death toll is 71
workers walk on the roof of the fire-gutted Grenfell Tower in London in this
Friday, June 16, 2017 file photo. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
London (AP) — London police on
Thursday gave a final death toll for the Grenfell Tower high-rise fire,
putting the number killed at 71 including a stillborn baby.
The Metropolitan Police force said the
final two victims were identified this week and they are confident no one
remains missing. The youngest victim was a premature baby who died at birth
to a woman who was hospitalized with smoke injuries from the blaze.
Police say 223 people escaped the June
14 fire that ravaged the building.
For months, police have estimated that
about 80 people died in the fire, which began in a refrigerator in an
apartment before racing through the 24-story tower. There has been
frustration among survivors at how long it has taken to identify the victims
and determine the final toll.
Police say the extreme heat in the
burned-out apartments had made identification a challenge.
Police Commander Stuart Cundy said
Thursday that specialist teams of police, forensic anthropologists,
archaeologists and dental experts "have pushed the boundaries of what was
scientifically possible to identify people."
"After the fire was finally put out I
entered Grenfell Tower and was genuinely concerned that due to the intensity
and duration of the fire, that we may not find, recover and then identify
all those who died," he said. "I know that each and every member of the team
has done absolutely all they can to make this possible."
Police say they are considering
individual and corporate manslaughter charges over the fire.
A public inquiry has begun to find out
how a small fire was able to spread so quickly, becoming Britain's deadliest
blaze in decades.
ASEAN shuns mention of China's new islands, arbitration loss
Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesia President Joko Widodo, Malaysia
Prime Minister Najib Razak and Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha link
arms as they pose for a group photo during the East Asia Summit in Manila,
Philippines on Tuesday Nov. 14. (Erik De Castro/Pool Photo via AP)
Manila, Philippines (AP) —
Southeast Asian nations avoided mention Thursday of China's construction of
islands in the South China Sea and a U.N.-linked arbitration ruling that
invalidated Beijing's claims in the disputed waters in the latest show of
China's regional clout.
President Rodrigo Duterte, speaking on
behalf of fellow heads of state of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations, also expectedly skirted any expression of alarm over serious human
rights concerns in the region, including the plight of Rohingya Muslims in
Myanmar and his deadly anti-drug campaign in a statement following their
annual summit Monday in Manila.
Such statements have been made public
shortly after the annual gatherings of leaders of the 10-nation bloc but
there was no immediate explanation for the three-day delay, which drew the
attention of some Manila-based diplomats. The few instances of delays in the
past were caused by differences over wording on long-thorny issues, like the
China, which wields considerable
influence on ASEAN, has steadfastly opposed criticism of its artificial
islands, where it has reportedly installed a missile defense system despite
widespread concern, including by the United States, Japan and Australia.
Duterte, who took office last year and
assumed ASEAN's rotational chairmanship this year, has openly tried to court
China's friendship, trade, investment and infrastructure financing. He has
toned down sharp rebuke of China's assertive actions in the strategic
waterway, one of the world's busiest, and refused to immediately seek
Chinese compliance with an arbitration ruling last year that invalidated its
vast claims in the South China Sea on historical grounds.
His rapprochement turned the
Philippines from being one of Beijing's sharpest critics in the disputed
In the ASEAN statement, Duterte
repeated previous calls for a peaceful resolution of the disputes, adherence
to the rule of law and welcomed the approval of a framework or outline of a
proposed "code of conduct" aimed at preventing confrontation in the
contested waters. Deadly clashes have erupted in the past between Chinese
and Vietnamese forces.
With an agreed outline, first proposed
15 years ago, negotiations could now start for the regional code, according
to a joint statement by ASEAN and China whose leaders met Monday. Both sides
agreed to start the negotiations early next year and conclude the talks as
soon as possible, with Duterte taking a position that the code should be
legally binding, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
"We further reaffirmed the need to
enhance mutual trust and confidence, emphasized the importance of
non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by
claimants and all other states ... that could further complicate the
situation and escalate tensions in the South China Sea," the statement said.
While ASEAN's decision to adopt a
non-confrontational approach promotes friendly relations with China, it may
not foster the rule of law, said Malcolm Cook, a senior fellow with the
ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.
"It is bad because it clearly places
the political expediency of good relations with China over holding China to
fulfilling its commitments under international law," Cook said. "Short term
expediency trumps long-term principle."
On human rights, ASEAN "welcomed the
commitment by Myanmar authorities to ensure the safety of civilians, take
immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine, restore normal
socio-economic conditions, and address the refugee problem through
verification process" in language devoid of the alarm expressed by some
governments amid deadly conditions threatening the Rohingya.
"They expressed support to the Myanmar
government in its efforts to bring peace, stability, rule of law and to
promote harmony and reconciliation between the various communities, as well
as sustainable and equitable development in Rakhine State," ASEAN said.
There was no mention of concerns
expressed by European Union, U.S. and U.N. officials over Duterte's bloody
crackdown against illegal drugs, which has left thousands of suspects dead
and has been marked by allegations of extrajudicial killings.
Famed London theater receives 20 allegations against Spacey
Spacey. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
London (AP) — London's Old Vic
Theatre said Thursday it has received 20 allegations of inappropriate
behavior by its former artistic director Kevin Spacey, and acknowledged that
a "cult of personality" around the Hollywood star had made it difficult for
people to come forward.
The London theater launched an
investigation into Spacey last month after claims of sexual harassment
emerged in the United States. Spacey, 58, led the Old Vic between 2004 and
The Old Vic said it had received 20
allegations of "a range of inappropriate behavior," from actions that made
people feel uncomfortable to "sexually inappropriate" touching.
All the alleged victims are young men,
none under 18 years old. The reported incidents took place between 1995 and
2013, many of them at the Old Vic, and all but four of the alleged victims
are former staff of the theater.
In all but one case, the complainants
say they didn't report them at the time. One man says he reported an
incident to his manager, who didn't act on the information.
The Old Vic said it had encouraged 14
of the complainants to go to police, but couldn't confirm whether any had
The theater said Spacey's "star power"
contributed to an atmosphere in which staff "didn't feel confident that the
Old Vic would take those allegations seriously, given who he was."
"During his tenure, The Old Vic was in
a unique position of having a Hollywood star at the helm around whom existed
a cult of personality," the theater said in a statement. "The investigation
found that his stardom and status at The Old Vic may have prevented people,
and in particular junior staff or young actors, from feeling that they could
speak up or raise a hand for help."
A two-time Academy Award winner, Spacey
is one of the biggest names to lose work and standing in Hollywood since The
New York Times and The New Yorker detailed sexual harassment and abuse
allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein earlier this year. The
reports sparked a wave of abuse and harassment allegations to surface across
Spacey has been fired from the Netflix
TV series "House of Cards," was dropped by his talent agency and publicist
and is being cut out of Ridley Scott's finished film "All the Money in the
World," replaced by Christopher Plummer.
The Old Vic appointed law firm Lewis
Silkin to investigate in late October, as reports and rumors circulated
about Spacey's behavior while he was at the helm of the 200-year-old theater
Richard Miskella, a partner at Lewis
Silkin who led the investigation, said the firm invited Spacey to
participate in its inquiries "and he didn't respond."
The Old Vic has faced criticism for
failing to act on what some claim were widespread rumors about Spacey's
behavior. But Miskella said he found no evidence that suspicion about
wrongdoing was common. He said the company's board of trustees was
"completely shocked" by the allegations.
"There wasn't widespread knowledge of
this," Miskella said. "Pockets of the business knew, and it didn't get
The Old Vic promised to improve, and
said it would appoint "guardians" whom staff could contact with concerns.
Executive director Kate Varah said this
was "a really dismaying time" for the theater.
"The Old Vic does apologize for what is
alleged to have happened," she said. "We have not slept since this came
After 37 years, Mugabe’s rule of Zimbabwe appears to be over
President Robert Mugabe, left, and his wife Grace are shown in this June, 2,
2017 file photo. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Farai Mutsaka and Andrew Meldrum
Harare, Zimbabwe (AP) —
Zimbabwe's military was in control of the capital and the state broadcaster
on Wednesday and was holding President Robert Mugabe and his wife under
house arrest in what appeared to be a coup against the 93-year-old Mugabe,
the world's oldest head of state.
The military was at pains, however, to
emphasize it had not staged a military takeover, but was instead starting a
process to restore Zimbabwe's democracy.
Still, the military appeared to have
brought an end to Mugabe's long, 37-year reign in what the army's supporters
praised as a "bloodless correction." South Africa and other neighboring
countries were sending in leaders to negotiate with Mugabe and the generals
to encourage the transition.
Citizens in Zimbabwe's tidy capital,
Harare, contributed to the feeling of a smooth transition by carrying on
with their daily lives, walking past the army's armored personnel carriers
to go to work and to shops. Many who have never known any leader but Mugabe
waited in long lines at banks to draw limited amounts of cash, a result of
this once-prosperous country's plummeting economy.
Felix Tsanganyiso, who sells mobile
airtime vouchers in Harare, said he was following the developments on
"But I am still in the dark about what
is happening," he said. "So far so good. We are going about our business
without harassment. My plea is that whoever takes over should sort out the
economy. We are tired of living like this."
The series of whiplash events followed
Mugabe's firing last week of his deputy, which appeared to position the
first lady, Grace Mugabe, to replace Emmerson Mnangagwa as one of the
country's two vice presidents at a party conference next month.
But the 52-year-old first lady is
unpopular among many Zimbabweans for her lavish spending on mansions, cars
and jewels. Last month she went to court to sue a diamond dealer for not
supplying her with a 100-carat diamond that she said she had paid for.
Grace Mugabe has been known as the
leader of the G40, a group of Cabinet ministers and officials in their 40s
and 50s who are too young to have fought in Zimbabwe's war to end
white-minority rule in Rhodesia. When Mnangagwa was fired, the generals and
war veterans felt they were being sidelined and took action to stop that,
Mnangagwa's whereabouts were not clear
Wednesday. He fled the country last week, citing threats to himself and his
Critics of the government urged Mugabe
to go quietly. "The old man should be allowed to rest," former Zimbabwe
finance minister and activist Tendai Biti told South African broadcaster
On Monday, the army commander made an
unprecedented statement criticizing Mugabe for pushing aside veterans of the
liberation war. The following day, the ruling party condemned the army
leader for "treasonable conduct" and that evening the army sent armored
personnel carriers into Harare and seized control of the state broadcaster
and other strategic points, including Mugabe's residence.
In a televised address to the nation
early Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo said the army had "guaranteed" the
safety of Mugabe and his wife, but added the military would target
"criminals" around Mugabe, in an apparent reference to the first lady's G40
South African President Jacob Zuma said
he was sending his ministers of defense and state security to Zimbabwe to
meet with Mugabe and the military there. He said he hopes Zimbabwe's army
will respect the constitution and that the situation "is going to be
In Washington, the U.S. State
Department said the Trump administration was "concerned by recent actions
undertaken by Zimbabwe's military forces" and called on the country's
leaders to exercise restraint. The United States "does not take sides in
matters of internal Zimbabwean politics and does not condone military
intervention in political processes," it said in a statement.
Who will rule Zimbabwe should become
clearer in the coming days.
"There is a soft transition underway,"
said Zimbabwean analyst Alex Rusero.
"The whole idea is that the military
has always been the chief broker" in Mugabe's ruling party, he said. "But
there were attempts to sideline the military by G40 and (the military) are
reasserting their position."
Mnangagwa may well be installed as a
transitional leader to return Zimbabwe to constitutional rule, Rusero said.
Zimbabwe may enter a period of
negotiation to get Mugabe to step down voluntarily, said Piers Pigou,
southern Africa consultant for the International Crisis Group, who also
suggested that Mnangagwa may be an interim leader.
"Zimbabwe could have some kind of
inclusive government and some kind of democratic process, possibly leading
to elections," Pigou said. "It's clearly a coup d'etat, but typical of
Zimbabwe, the military is trying to put a veneer of legality on the process.
... It is part of the theater that Zimbabwe is so good at, to try to make
things look orderly and democratic. South Africa and other neighboring
countries may be brought in to help put some lipstick on the pig."
Greece in mourning as floods kill at least 14 near Athens
man stands in front of a pile of vehicles in the municipality of Madra
western Athens, on Wednesday, Nov. 15. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Elena Becatoros and Petros
Mandra, Greece (AP) — Greece
declared a day of national mourning after floods on the outskirts of Athens
left at least 14 dead Wednesday, flipping over cars, smashing into homes and
cutting off highway traffic.
The flash floods turned roads into
raging torrents of mud and debris inundated houses and businesses. Drivers
scrambled out of their vehicles as cars were washed away. Rescue crews
searched basement homes for residents who may have been trapped.
More torrential rain is expected
"This is a very difficult moment for
our country. We mourn the deaths of 14 people in what is a great disaster.
... It is the wish of all of us that this number does not increase," Prime
Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a televised address, announcing a day of
national mourning Thursday.
Twelve of the people killed — four
women and eight men — were found in or near Mandra, a small town on the
western outskirts of Athens that was hardest-hit by the flood. The coast
guard recovered the bodies of two more men believed to have been swept out
to sea by the flood.
Floodwater carrying debris charged
toward the coast, sinking fishing boats in a small harbor. Several people
were being treated in a hospital for various injuries, including
There were fears the death toll could
rise further as rescue crews searched flooded homes and streets on the
western outskirts of Athens.
The flooding came after a severe
overnight storm brought driving rain to the area. Roads turned into muddy
rivers that carried away vehicles, tossing them into piles on roadsides and
against fences and buildings. Several walls from yards and low buildings
collapsed, filling the streets with rubble.
The fire department said it had
received more than 600 calls for help pumping water out of buildings and had
rescued 86 people trapped in vehicles and homes. It said it had deployed 190
firefighters with 55 vehicles. All fire services across the wider Athens
area had been put on alert as more bad weather was forecast.
A section of the highway between Athens
and Corinth was completely knocked out, with cars, trucks and buses trapped
in an inundated underpass.
Judicial authorities ordered an
immediate investigation into the deaths and material damage. Investigators
would be looking into whether factors such as shoddy or illegal construction
might have contributed to the severity of the flooding.
Local authorities shut schools in the
areas of Mandra, Nea Peramos and Megara, while the fire department appealed
to the public to avoid the area unless absolutely necessary in an effort to
More hazardous weather was predicted
for large swaths of Greece later Wednesday and in coming days, with storms
predicted for western Greece and for parts of the Greek capital.
The deaths came a day after authorities
declared a state of emergency on the small Aegean Sea island of Symi due to
torrential rainfall there that flooded homes and shops, swept vehicles into
the sea and cut power after the local power station was flooded.
Australian Senate debates gays rights in marriage bill
Members of the gay community and their
supporters celebrate the result of a postal survey calling for gay marriage
rights in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 15. The survey ensures
Parliament will consider legalizing same-sex weddings this year. (AP
Canberra, Australia (AP) — A gay
lawmaker on Thursday started the Australian Parliament's debate on legal
recognition for same-sex marriage with an emotional speech in which he
warned against winding back LGBT rights.
Senator Dean Smith has introduced a
bill that would limit who could legally refuse to take part in same-sex
marriage to churches, religious ministers and a new class of religious
But many same-sex marriage opponents
want amendments to broaden the range of businesses and individuals who can
legally refuse to provide services such as cakes, flowers or a venue to
same-sex couples and new free-speech protections for those who denounce gay
marriage. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in
Australia outside religious institutions.
"Let me be clear: Amendments that seek
to address other issues, or which seek to deny gay and lesbian Australians
the full rights, responsibilities and privileges that they already have will
be strenuously opposed," Smith told the Senate.
"Australians did not vote for equality
before the law so that equality before the law that is already gained be
stripped away," he added.
Another Liberal Party senator, James
Paterson, had won the support of lawmakers who oppose marriage reform with a
proposed bill that offered "a limited right of conscientious objection to
ensure no one is forced to participate in a same-sex wedding against their
sincerely held beliefs." It also would safeguard speaking out against gay
marriage and would bar government agencies from acting against people who
hold such views.
The Law Council Of Australia, the
nation's peak lawyers group, said Paterson's bill "would encroach on
Australia's long-established anti-discrimination protections in a dangerous
and unprecedented way."
Paterson decided to not introduce his
bill because senators favored Smith's bill as the starting point for the
debate, but many lawmakers will argue for contentious features of Paterson's
bill to be incorporated in Smith's bill as amendments.
The Senate debate began a day after the
release of a nonbinding postal survey found that 62 percent of Australian
respondents wanted reform. Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull wants gay marriage
legislation rushed through by Dec. 7, the last day Parliament is to sit for
The postal survey result sparked street
parties across Australia overnight and most marriage equality opponents have
accepted that the Parliament now has a clear mandate for change.
Smith came close to tears during his
speech as he said he once thought Australia would never embrace marriage
"I never believed the day would come
when my relationship would be judged by my country to be as meaningful and
valued as any other," Smith said. "The Australian people have proven me
"To those who want and believe in
change and to those who seek to frustrate it, I simply say: Don't
underestimate Australia, don't underestimate the Australian people, don't
underestimate our country's sense of fairness, its sense of decency and its
willingness to be a country for all of us," he added.
Smith's speech was followed a
successions of senators who all spoke in favor of gay marriage and supported
Smith had supported his conservative
Liberal Party's opposition to gay marriage when he joined the Senate five
years ago. He has said he changed his mind after a siege in a Sydney cafe in
2014 in which a gunman killed cafe manager Tori Johnson. Police then killed
the gunman and another hostage was killed in the crossfire. Smith said he
was moved by Johnson's loving same-sex relationship.
Poland slams EU Parliament actions as 'scandalous'
Minister Beata Szydlo speaks during a press conference summarizing two years
of her government, in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Nov. 14. (AP Photo/Alik
Warsaw, Poland (AP) — Poland's
government hit back Wednesday after the European Parliament launched action
over concerns that the right-wing government in Warsaw has compromised the
independence of the judiciary and risks breaching fundamental European
Prime Minister Beata Szydlo described
the events in the Parliament — where a bitter debate preceded the vote — as
"scandalous." The Foreign Ministry called the resolution a "political
instrument of pressure on Poland," describing the document as "one-sided"
and saying it was based on political considerations and not on legal
In a resolution adopted by 438 to 152,
with 71 abstentions, the European lawmakers triggered the first stage of a
so-called rule-of-law procedure against the Polish government on Wednesday.
The procedure could lead to the
suspensions of Poland's EU voting rights.
The assembly's Civil Liberties
Committee must now draw up a legal proposal to formally request that the
mechanism — known as Article 7 — be activated due to a "clear risk of a
serious breach" of EU values.
The EU's executive, the Commission, has
already launched a procedure of its own amid concerns that new laws in
Poland undermine judicial independence and the rule of law.
The vote came after a heated debate
that exposed the bitter feelings between European officials trying to keep
Poland on a democratic course and Polish officials who argue the ruling
party has a democratic mandate to change its own country's court system and
that Brussels has no right to interfere in the affairs of sovereign nations.
Ryszard Legutko, a member of Poland's
ruling party, accused the EU of waging an illegal "crusade against Poland."
He also accused the German media, which have criticized Poland's direction,
of holding an "anti-Polish orgy."
In turn, others sharply criticized
Poland's government, with the parliament's liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt
saying the Polish government "has lost its senses." Gianni Pittella, leader
of an alliance of Socialists and Democrats, accused Warsaw of showing "scorn
for liberal democracy."
Several also criticized a march of
60,000 people in Warsaw that was organized by extremist far-right groups and
included racist banners and slogans on Poland's Independence Day on
Saturday. Poland's president sharply condemned the expressions of extremism,
but the government leaders have praised the event as a celebration of Polish
Frans Timmermans, the vice president of
the European Commission, said that some of "most terrible parts of European
history" were "seen on the streets of Warsaw."
The parliament's resolution called on
Poland to act on several points, including to strongly condemn what it
called a "xenophobic and fascist march."
Janusz Lewandowski, a member of
Poland's opposition Civic Platform party, sharply criticized the ruling
party on several points, saying it was "committing abuse of power" and
tolerating "racism, xenophobia and neo-fascism on Poland's streets." His
words drew an angry retort from Legukto.
Polish Foreign Minister Witold
Waszczykowski said Poland was "shocked" by the language of the debate,
saying it qualified as "hate speech" at times; and the prime minister,
Szydlo, said "politicians who defame their country in an international forum
do not deserve to represent it."
Moroccan migrants in Libya seek return, stage hunger strike
photo provided by Sea-Watch, migrants from a sinking inflatable dinghy try
to board a Libyan coast guard ship during a rescue operation in
international waters off the coast of Libya on Monday, Nov. 6. (Lisa
Hoffmann/Sea-Watch via AP)
Marrakech, Morocco (AP) —
Moroccan authorities said Wednesday that they are working to bring home a
large group of Moroccan migrants who sought to enter Europe illegally but
are stuck in a Libyan detention center.
An official at the ministry in charge
of migration and Moroccans living abroad told The Associated Press that the
"Moroccans will be repatriated."
"The operation takes time and involves
several people, but we are working on it," the official said, adding that
authorities are holding meetings with the migrants' families to reassure
An official at the Foreign Ministry
said several government departments are involved in the effort to bring the
Both officials agreed to discuss the
matter only if not quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the talks.
A U.N. report this week detailed cruel
conditions at Libyan detention centers and revived concerns about European
support for Libya's coast guard to stop migrants from crossing the
A video circulating on Moroccan social
networks and reported widely by Moroccan media Wednesday featured a man
saying that he and 232 other Moroccans have been held for two months in
Tripoli and are on a hunger strike to demand repatriation.
In the video, apparently recorded
Monday, a man identifying himself as a Moroccan national said some of his
fellow countrymen at the center are having medical problems and complained
that migrants of other nationalities had already been sent back to their
homelands. "We are the only ones still here," he said.
Speaking in Darija, the Moroccan
dialect, he said, "No Moroccan official came, nor called ... to inquire
about our situation." The man was not identified.
The video was reportedly recorded in an
immigration detention facility in Tripoli. At the back of the crowded room
where some are sitting, others standing, a flag hanging on the rear wall is
stamped with the name of the Libyan Ministry of Interior's Department for
Combating Illegal Immigration.
Morocco is both a transit country and a
source of many migrants seeking to enter Europe clandestinely. Following the
reinforcement of security measures on the Moroccan-Spanish border in the
north of Morocco, many Moroccans are now trying to enter Europe via Libya.
In August, 190 of them were sent home after being arrested in Libya.
U.N. monitors who visited Libya early
in November found thousands of hungry men, women and children locked inside
packed hangars. Many had been victims of torture, rape, forced labor,
starvation and physical violence during their journeys and in Libyan
detention centers, the team said.
U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al
Hussein called the conditions "an outrage to the conscience of humanity."
Under pressure from anti-immigrant
sentiment across Europe, the European Union has backed the Italy-driven
policy of beefing up Libya's coast guard patrols to prevent migrants from
leaving aboard smugglers' dinghies bound for Europe.
Human rights groups have denounced the
policy, saying it exposes returned migrants to Libya's lawless detention
centers, with no legal recourse.
Egyptian singer faces trial after mocking the Nile
April 21, 2015 file photo, Egyptian fishermen row on the Nile River in
Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Cairo (AP) — A famous Arab
singer will stand trial next month in her native Egypt over a video clip in
which she advises a concert fan against drinking from the Nile River,
officials said Wednesday.
The clip shows Sherine Abdel-Wahab,
widely known by her first name, saying "You are better off drinking Evian,"
a reference to a French brand of mineral water.
The fan had asked her to sing one of
her hit songs, named for an Egyptian saying, that one who drinks from the
Nile is bound to return.
Sherine now faces a host of charges,
including incitement and harming the public interest.
The remark, clearly made in jest, set
social media ablaze, with some users calling it an insult to Egyptian
national pride and others saying the real culprits are those who pollute the
The trial, before a Cairo misdemeanor
court, is due to start on Dec. 23, according to the court officials. The
case arose from a complaint filed by a lawyer after the video surfaced this
week. If convicted, Sherine could face up to three years in prison or a
heavy fine, but she will have recourse to appeal.
The officials spoke on condition of
anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Egypt's government and media have
relentlessly stoked nationalist sentiment since the military overthrew an
elected Islamist president in 2013, portraying nearly all criticism as part
of an international plot to undermine the country's stability.
Activists, artists or writers who dare
speak critically of government policies or the country's
general-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, risk vilification on
popular TV talk shows. Thousands have been jailed in a wide-scale crackdown
"At the time when the government is
working to revive tourism, the singer acted with crude mockery, which drew
laughter from the crowd that amounted to an insult to the Egyptian state,"
Lawyer Hany Gad wrote in his complaint.
Sherine has also been banned from
performing in Egypt by the local musicians union, which said in a statement
that her comment was an "unjustified ridicule and mockery of our dear
Egypt." The agency that runs state TV and radio informally instructed
employees not to broadcast her songs until further notice.
Sherine apologized for her comment in a
"My beloved Egypt and its children: I
apologize from all my heart for any pain I may have caused you," she wrote.
"It was a bad joke that I would never use if I go back in time."
The Musicians Union said the concert
was in Lebanon, but Sherine's statement said she believed it was in the
United Arab Emirates more than a year ago.
The video clip emerged at a sensitive
Egypt fears a soon-to-be-completed
upstream dam in Ethiopia could cut into its share of the river, which
supplies more than 90 percent of the arid country's water.
The Nile's polluted waters must be
treated to be safe for drinking. But critics took Sherine's remarks to imply
that Egypt was not doing enough to protect the river at a time when it is
trying to rally world support in the dispute with Ethiopia.
Ahmed Ramadan and Reda Ragab, board
members of the Egyptian Musicians Union, said the singer must appear before
the union to answer questions on the incident. They did not say when the
questioning would take place, and it was not immediately clear whether
Sherine was in Egypt.
Myanmar military denies atrocities against Rohingya Muslims
A view of
the Hakim Para camp of Rohingya refugees in Ukhiya, Bangladesh, Monday, Nov.
13. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)
Naypyitaw, Myanmar (AP) —
Myanmar's military issued its most forceful denial yet that security forces
committed atrocities during "clearance operations" in the west of the
country, saying an internal investigation had absolved them of any
wrongdoing in a crisis that has triggered the largest refugee exodus in Asia
The report contradicts consistent
statements from ethnic Rohingya Muslim refugees now in Bangladesh — some
with gunshot wounds and severe burns — who have described massacres, rape,
looting and the burning of hundreds of villages by Myanmar's army and
The U.N. humanitarian office said
Tuesday that the number of Rohingya who have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh
since Aug. 25 has risen to 618,000.
In a statement issued late Monday, the
military said it had interviewed thousands of people during a month-long
investigation into the conduct of troops in western Rakhine state after
Rohingya insurgents launched a series of deadly attacks there on Aug. 25.
While the report acknowledged that
battles against militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA,
had left 376 "terrorists" dead, it also claimed security forces had "never
shot at the innocent Bengalis" and "there was no death of innocent people."
Myanmar's government and most of the
Buddhist majority say the members of the Muslim minority are "Bengalis" who
migrated illegally from Bangladesh and do not acknowledge the Rohingya as a
local ethnic group even though they have lived in Myanmar for generations.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said
the military's latest claims were "contrary to a large and growing body of
evidence" documenting severe rights abuses in Myanmar.
"The Burmese military's absurd effort
to absolve itself of mass atrocities underscores why an independent
international investigation is needed to establish the facts and identify
those responsible," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
"The Burmese authorities have once again shown that they can't and won't
credibly investigate themselves."
The military said the investigation —
which was led by Lt. Gen. Aye Win, inspector-general of the defense forces —
showed that security forces did not use excessive force and abided by the
army's rules of engagement.
Myanmar's government does not allow
independent journalists to travel freely to the parts of Rakhine state where
most of the latest violence has taken place.
The report comes just ahead of an
expected visit Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is to
hold talks with senior officials on the crisis.
On Tuesday in Naypyitaw, the capital,
Myanmar authorities began the first of five days of talks with Bangladesh
border guard officials to discuss how to resolve the refugee crisis and
other issues along their common frontier.
The U.N. migration agency reports that
human trafficking and exploitation are rife among Rohingya who have fled to
Bangladesh, not only recently but in past years, U.N. spokesman Stephane
Dujarric told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York.
The International Organization for
Migration reports that "desperate refugees are being recruited with false
offers of paid work and ... are willing to take whatever opportunities they
are presented with, even risky, dangerous ones that involve their children,"
The migration agency is also concerned
about forced and early marriages among the Rohingya, he said.
Military in Zimbabwe's capital after army chief's threat
Armed Zimbabwean soldiers sit on top of a
military tank in Harare, Zimbabwe Wednesday, Nov. 15. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi
Harare, Zimbabwe (AP) — At least
three explosions were heard in Zimbabwe's capital early Wednesday and
military vehicles were seen in the streets after the army commander
threatened to "step in" to calm political tensions over 93-year-old
President Robert Mugabe's possible successor. The ruling party accused the
commander of "treasonable conduct."
The Associated Press saw armed soldiers
assaulting passers-by in the early morning hours in Harare, as well as
soldiers loading ammunition near a group of four military vehicles. The
explosions could be heard near the University of Zimbabwe campus.
Those developments came several hours
after The Associated Press on Tuesday saw three armored personnel carriers
with several soldiers in a convoy heading toward an army barracks just
outside the capital. For the first time, this southern African nation is
seeing an open rift between the military and Mugabe, the world's oldest head
of state who has ruled since independence from white minority rule in 1980.
The military has been a key pillar of his power.
Mugabe last week fired Vice President
Emmerson Mnangagwa and accused him of plotting to take power, including
through witchcraft. Mnangagwa, who enjoyed the military's backing and once
was seen as a potential president, fled the country and said he had been
threatened. Over 100 senior officials allegedly supporting him have been
listed for disciplinary measures by a faction associated with Mugabe's wife,
The first lady now appears positioned
to replace Mnangagwa as one of the country's two vice presidents at a
special conference of the ruling party in December, leading many in Zimbabwe
to suspect that she could succeed her husband. Grace Mugabe is unpopular
with some Zimbabweans because of lavish spending as many struggle, and four
people accused of booing her at a recent rally were arrested.
On Monday, army commander Constantino
Chiwenga issued an unprecedented statement saying purges against senior
ruling ZANU-PF party officials, many of whom like Mnangagwa fought for
liberation, should end "forthwith."
"We must remind those behind the
current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting
our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in," the army
commander said. The state-run broadcaster did not report on his statement.
Showing a generational divide, the
ruling party's youth league, aligned with the 52-year-old first lady, on
Tuesday criticized the army commander's comments, saying youth were "ready
to die for Mugabe."
On Tuesday night the ruling party
issued a statement accusing the army commander of "treasonable conduct,"
saying his comments were "clearly calculated to disturb national peace and
stability" and were "meant to incite insurrection." It was not clear whether
the commander still had his post.
State broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation read out part of the ruling party statement late in the nightly
news, which was led by a report on regional tourism.
The army spokesman was not immediately
available for comment.
"Yes, given the past two weeks'
political events, it is tempting to speculate that there is a connection
between the deployment of military personnel and the comments of the army
chief of staff on an 'intervention' - but there are very real dangers of
violence breaking out as a result of rampant and unfounded speculation,"
African Defence Review analyst Conway Waddington wrote Tuesday evening,
saying there appeared to be no other signs of an "organized coup" and that
it could have been an act of intimidation instead.
Mugabe in the past has warned military
commanders from interfering in succession politics. "Politics shall always
lead the gun, and not the gun politics. Otherwise it will be a coup," he
told supporters in July.
Frustration has been growing in
once-prosperous Zimbabwe as the economy collapses under Mugabe. The country
was shaken last year by the biggest anti-government protests in a decade,
and a once-loyal war veterans association turned on the president, calling
him "dictatorial" and blaming him for the economic crisis.
"Mnangagwa was held out by many as the
best hope within ZANU-PF for piloting an economic recovery," analyst Piers
Pigou with the International Crisis Group wrote Tuesday.
Now, "Mugabe will have to employ all
his guile if he intends to ensure continued accommodation with the armed
Filipino leader calls Trudeau's drug war comments insulting
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, center,
shakes hands with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, left, and
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a photo session of the
ASEAN-Canada 40th Commemorative session in Manila, Philippines, Tuesday,
Nov. 14. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)
Manila, Philippines (AP) —
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he was angered and insulted on
Tuesday by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's comments about the
Philippine government's war on drugs, which has earned widespread
condemnation for leaving thousands of suspects dead.
Trudeau said he raised concerns about
human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings in Duterte's anti-drug
campaign when he met Tuesday with the president ahead of Canada's summit in
the Philippines with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Trudeau was the first leader of the 20
attending this week's ASEAN summit and related meetings who has publicly
said he brought up the touchy issue with the volatile Filipino leader.
"I also mentioned human rights, the
rule of law and specifically extrajudicial killings as being an issue that
Canada is concerned with," Trudeau said at a news conference. "I impressed
on him the need for respect for the rule of law, and as always offered
Canada's support and help as a friend to move forward on what is a real
He said Duterte was receptive to his
comments and their exchange was cordial and positive.
But Duterte later told reporters that
he had refused to provide an explanation for the killings.
"I said I will not explain. It is a
personal and official insult," Duterte said. "It angers me when you are a
foreigner, you do not know what exactly is happening in this country. You
don't even investigate."
Duterte is highly sensitive to such
criticism, and in the past called then U.S. President Barack Obama a "son of
a bitch" after the State Department publicly expressed concern over the
Philippine anti-drug campaign.
President Donald Trump, who also
attended this week's ASEAN summit, did not publicly take Duterte to task for
the drug crackdown. Instead, Trump said he and Duterte "had a great
relationship," and avoided questions about whether he raised human rights
concerns in a meeting with the Philippine leader.
The White House later said they
discussed the Islamic State group, illegal drugs and trade during the
40-minute meeting. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said human rights
came up "briefly" in the context of the Philippines' fight against illegal
drugs. She did not say if Trump was critical of Duterte's program.
Harry Roque, Duterte's spokesman, said
there was no mention of human rights or extralegal killings during the
meeting with Trump, but there was a lengthy discussion of the Philippines'
war on drugs, with Duterte doing most of the explaining.
The two sides later issued a statement
saying they "underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are
essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in
their national programs."
UK lawmakers battle over Brexit amid customs chaos warning
The flags of
the United Kingdom and the European Union fly outside the EU Commission
office in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
London (AP) — A fragile
government, a legislative minefield and a jittery economy are turning up the
tension as Britain tries to turn its vote to leave the European Union into a
Exit negotiations with the bloc are
stalled on divorce terms, and on Tuesday Prime Minister Theresa May's
government battled to push its central piece of Brexit legislation through a
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is
designed to prevent a legal vacuum by converting some 12,000 EU laws into
British statute on the day the U.K. leaves the bloc in March 2019.
But many lawmakers claim the bill gives
the government too much power to amend legislation without parliamentary
scrutiny. And opponents of Brexit — both from the opposition and from May's
Conservative Party — will try to amend it to soften the terms of Britain's
exit from the bloc.
The House of Commons began eight days
of debate on the bill Tuesday, and lawmakers have filed hundreds of proposed
amendments — each one a challenge for a minority government that relies on
support from a small Northern Ireland party to avoid defeat on key votes.
Legislators reviewed the bill in
line-by-line detail Tuesday, starting with wrangling over whether to specify
an exact time for Britain's departure from the EU. The government wants to
set a time of 11 p.m. (2300GMT) on March 29, 2019, but some pro-EU lawmakers
said that degree of specificity could eliminate flexibility Britain might
Labour Party Brexit spokesman Paul
Blomfield said fixing a day in law was "a gimmick" by "a prime minister so
weak she is trying to tie her own hands behind her back."
A group of pro-EU Conservatives is
threatening to defeat the government unless there are concessions to avoid a
"hard Brexit" — that is, an exit without a deal on seamless new trade
relations that many businesses fear will cause economic turmoil.
The government has tried to mollify
rebellious lawmakers by promising Parliament will get a vote on any Brexit
deal agreed on between Britain and the bloc before Britain leaves in March
But Brexit Secretary David Davis said
the vote will be a "take it or leave it" choice: If Parliament rejects the
deal, Britain will crash out of the 28-nation bloc without an agreement.
Many businesses see that as a
worst-case scenario, as it would bring tariffs and red tape that could see
trade with the bloc grind to a halt. A group of lawmakers warned Tuesday
there could be catastrophic consequences if Britain fails to put a new
customs system in place before the U.K. leaves the EU.
Parliament's Public Accounts Committee
said Brexit may lead to a fivefold increase in customs declarations. It said
that could bring "huge disruption" for business, with border delays causing
"massive backups" at the port of Dover and food rotting in trucks if the
system doesn't work properly.
Britain hopes to strike a free-trade
deal with the EU, and wants a two-year transition period after 2019 to ease
into the new arrangements. But negotiations between London and Brussels
remain deadlocked over terms of the U.K.'s withdrawal, including how much
Britain must pay to meet its financial commitments to the bloc and the
status of citizens affected by Brexit.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier says
there must be major progress in divorce talks before the end of November if
EU leaders are to agree at a Dec. 14-15 summit to move on to discussing
trade and future relations.
The rights of 3 million EU citizens in
Britain — and 1 million Britons living elsewhere in the bloc — remains a
sticking point. Britain says EU nationals will be able to stay and enjoy
broadly the same rights as they do now.
But the European Parliament's top
Brexit official has warned that the U.K.'s proposals fall far short of
Guy Verhofstadt wrote in a letter to
Davis — obtained by The Associated Press — that "under your proposals EU
citizens will definitely notice a deterioration of their status as a result
Verhofstadt noted that citizens will
have to register for settled status in the U.K. individually instead of as a
family, that it will be too costly and that there are too many risks of
Any Brexit deal between the 27 EU
nations and Britain needs the approval of the European Parliament.
Indian city rounds up beggars ahead of visit by Ivanka Trump
man is shown seeking alms at a street in Hyderabad, India, Monday, Nov. 13.
(AP Photo /Mahesh Kumar A.)
Hyderabad, India (AP) —
Authorities in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad are rounding up beggars
ahead of a visit by Ivanka Trump for an international conference.
Over the past week, more than 200
beggars have been transported to separate male and female shelter homes
located on the grounds of two city prisons. Authorities have been strictly
enforcing a begging ban on the city's streets and in other public places.
The crackdown seems to be having the
desired effect, with most of Hyderabad's thousands of beggars vanishing from
Trump is a senior adviser to her
father, President Donald Trump. Later this month, she is scheduled to be a
featured speaker at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, which
will also be attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Officials say the drive against begging
was launched because two upcoming international events are taking place in
the city — the entrepreneurship summit and the World Telugu Conference in
Begging is a criminal offense in India
and can be punished by as much as 10 years in prison, although the law is
"We will complete the clearing of
beggars from the city roads by the end of the month," said V.K. Singh, a top
The beggars have been rounded up from
traffic junctions, bus stations and railway stations and transported by van
to the shelters, where they often find themselves separated from their
They are being offered clean clothes, a
shower and a bed. But they're also being fingerprinted before they're
allowed to leave and told they could face jail time if they are found
More than 20 percent of India's 1.3
billion people live on less than 2 dollars a day. For many, begging is
Beggars tend to crowd around cars at
traffic signals, knocking on windows and asking for food and money. They
include children as young as 5, who weave through dangerous traffic and
often perform small acrobatic acts.
A rights group that runs the two
Hyderabad homeless shelters on the grounds of the Chanchalguda and
Charalapally jails where the beggars are being taken estimates the city has
About half of them are begging because
they are living in poverty while the other half want money for alcohol and
drugs, said Gattu Giri, an official with the Amma Nanna Ananda Ashram
The entrepreneurship summit is an
annual event that this year will focus on supporting female entrepreneurs.
Running from Nov. 28-30, the summit is being jointly hosted by the U.S. and
Singh said that next month, after
Ivanka Trump has left, police will start offering cash rewards to people who
inform them of a beggar's location. Police have set up a control room to
receive the information.
This isn't the first time the poor and
homeless have been pushed out of sight as India hosts international
visitors. Ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, slums were
demolished and thousands of beggars pushed to the edge of the city.
North Korea says US carrier groups raise nuclear war threat
12, 2017 photo shows three U.S. aircraft carriers USS Theodore Roosevelt,
top left, USS Ronald Reagan, top center, and USS Nimitz, top right,
participating with South Korean Navy's Aegis destroyer, King Sejong the
Great, bottom, during joint naval exercises in waters off South Korea's
eastern coast. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)
Edith M. Lederer
United Nations (AP) — North
Korea warned Monday that the unprecedented deployment of three U.S. aircraft
carrier groups "taking up a strike posture" around the Korean peninsula is
making it impossible to predict when nuclear war will break out.
North Korea's U.N. ambassador, Ja Song
Nam, said in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres that the joint
military exercises with South Korea are creating "the worst ever situation
prevailing in and around the Korean peninsula."
Along with the three carrier groups, he
said, the U.S. has reactivated round-the-clock sorties with nuclear-capable
B-52 strategic bombers "which existed during the Cold War times."
He also said the U.S. is maintaining "a
surprise strike posture with frequent flights of B-1B and B-2 formations to
the airspace of South Korea."
"The large-scale nuclear war exercises
and blackmails, which the U.S. staged for a whole year without a break in
collaboration with its followers to stifle our republic, make one conclude
that the option we have taken was the right one and we should go along the
way to the last," Ja said.
He didn't elaborate on what "the last"
might be, but North Korea has launched ballistic missiles that have the
potential to strike the U.S. mainland, and it recently conducted its
largest-ever underground nuclear explosion. It has also threatened to
explode another nuclear bomb above the Pacific Ocean.
The four-day joint naval exercises by
the U.S. and South Korea, which began Saturday in waters off the South's
eastern coast, were described by military officials as a clear warning to
North Korea. They involve the carrier battle groups of the USS Ronald
Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and Nimitz, which include 11 U.S. Aegis ships
that can track missiles, and seven South Korean naval vessels.
Seoul's military said in a statement
that the exercises aim to enhance the combined U.S. and South Korean
operational and aerial strike capabilities and to display "strong will and
firm military readiness to defeat any provocation by North Korea with
dominant force in the event of crisis."
According to the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet,
it is the first time since a 2007 exercise near Guam that three U.S. carrier
strike groups have operated together in the western Pacific.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
insisted on Monday that the carrier maneuvers are not extraordinary.
"There's no big message" intended for
North Korea or anyone else, he told reporters in an impromptu exchange in a
Pentagon hallway. "This is what we normally do with allies."
Reminded that it had been 10 years
since the last three-carrier exercise, Mattis noted that the Navy has a
limited number of carriers and can't often put three in the same place.
"It's just a normal operation," he
The military drills come amid U.S.
President Donald Trump's visit to Asia, which has been dominated by
discussions over the North Korean nuclear threat.
Ja accused the U.N. Security Council in
Monday's letter of repeatedly "turning a blind eye to the nuclear war
exercises of the United States, who is hell bent on bringing a catastrophic
disaster to humanity." He said the exercises raise serious concern about
"the double standard" of the U.N.'s most powerful body.
He also referenced Trump's September
speech to the U.N. General Assembly in which the president said that if the
U.S. is "forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but
to totally destroy North Korea."
Trump tweeted soon after making the
speech that Korea's leadership "won't be around much longer" if it continued
its provocations, a declaration that led the North's foreign minister to
assert that Trump had "declared war on our country."
Ja said Monday the U.S. "is now running
amok for war exercises by introducing nuclear war equipment in and around
the Korean peninsula, thereby proving that the U.S. itself is the major
offender of the escalation of tension and undermining of the peace."
Ja asked Guterres to circulate the
letter to the Security Council and the General Assembly, and also asked him
to use his power under Article 99 of the U.N. Charter to bring to the
Security Council's attention "the danger being posed by the U.S. nuclear war
exercises which are clearly threats to international peace and security."
Over 400 dead from earthquake in Iran-Iraq border area
sit in front of apartment buildings damaged by an earthquake in
Sarpol-e-Zahab, western Iran, Monday, Nov. 13. (AP Photo/Omid Salehi)
Nasser Karimi and Amir Vahdat
Tehran, Iran (AP) — Rescuers dug
with their bare hands Monday through the debris of buildings brought down by
a powerful earthquake that killed more than 400 people in the once-contested
mountainous border region between Iraq and Iran, with nearly all of the
victims in an area rebuilt since the end of the ruinous 1980s war.
Sunday night's magnitude 7.3 earthquake
struck about 19 miles (31 kilometers) outside the eastern Iraqi city of
Halabja, according to the most recent measurements from the U.S. Geological
Survey. It hit at 9:48 p.m. Iran time, just as people were going to bed.
The worst damage appeared to be in the
Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in the western Iranian province of
Kermanshah, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq.
Residents fled into the streets as the
quake struck, without time to grab their possessions, as apartment complexes
collapsed into rubble. Outside walls of some complexes were sheared off by
the quake, power and water lines were severed, and telephone service was
Residents dug frantically through
wrecked buildings for survivors as they wailed. Firefighters from Tehran
joined other rescuers in the desperate search, using dogs to inspect the
The hospital in Sarpol-e-Zahab was
heavily damaged, and the army set up field hospitals, although many of the
injured were moved to other cities, including Tehran.
It also damaged an army garrison and
buildings in the border city and killed an unspecified number of soldiers,
according to reports.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei immediately dispatched all government and military forces to aid
Many of the heavily damaged complexes
in Sarpol-e-Zahab were part of construction projects under former hard-line
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The newly homeless slept outside in cold,
huddled around makeshift fires for warmth, wrapped in blankets — as were the
The quake killed 407 people in Iran and
injured 7,156 others, Iran's crisis management headquarters spokesman Behnam
Saeedi told state TV. Most of the injuries were minor, he said, with fewer
than 1,000 still hospitalized.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency
reported 445 dead and 7,370 injured. There was no immediate explanation of
the discrepancy, although double-counting of victims is common during such
disasters in Iran.
The official death toll came from
provincial forensic authorities based on death certificates issued. Some
reports said authorities have warned that unauthorized burials without
certification could mean the death toll was actually higher.
In Iraq, the earthquake killed at least
seven people and injured 535 others, all in the country's northern,
semiautonomous Kurdish region, according to its Interior Ministry.
The disparity in the fatality figures
immediately drew questions from Iranians, especially because so much of the
town was new.
The earthquake struck 14.4 miles (23.2
kilometers) below the surface, a shallow depth that can have broader damage.
Magnitude 7 earthquakes on their own are capable of widespread, heavy
The quake caused Dubai's skyscrapers to
sway and could be felt 1,060 kilometers (660 miles) away on the
Mediterranean coast. Nearly 120 aftershocks followed.
Kokab Fard, a 49-year-old housewife in
Sarpol-e-Zahab, said she could only flee empty-handed when her apartment
"Immediately after I managed to get
out, the building collapsed," Fard said. "I have no access to my
Reza Mohammadi, 51, said he and his
family ran into the alley following the first shock.
"I tried to get back to pick some
stuff, but it totally collapsed in the second wave," Mohammadi said.
Khamenei offered his condolences as
President Hassan Rouhani's office said Iran's elected leader would tour the
damaged areas Tuesday, which was declared a national day of mourning.
Authorities also set up relief camps and hundreds lined up to donate blood
in Tehran, though some on state TV complained about the slowness of aid
Sarpol-e-Zahab fell to the Iraqi troops
of dictator Saddam Hussein during his 1980 invasion of Iran, which sparked
the eight-year war between the two countries that killed 1 million people.
Though clawed back by Iran seven months later, the area remained a war zone
that suffered through Saddam's missile attacks and chemical weapons.
After the war, Iran began rebuilding
the town. It also was part of Ahmadinejad's low-income housing project,
which aided the Holocaust-questioning hard-liner's populist credentials but
also saw cheap construction.
Under the plan dubbed as Mehr or
"kindness" in Farsi, some 2 million units were built in Iran, including
hundreds in Sarpol-e Zahab. Many criticized the plan, warning that the
low-quality construction could lead to a disaster.
"Before its 10-year anniversary, Mehr
buildings have turned into coffins for its inhabitants," the reformist
Fararu news website wrote Monday.
In Iraq, the quake shook buildings from
Irbil to the capital of Baghdad, where people fled into the streets.
Iraqi seismologist Abdul-Karim Abdullah
Taqi, who runs the earthquake monitoring group at the state-run
Meteorological Department, said the main reason for the lower casualty
figure in Iraq was the angle and direction of the fault line in this
particular quake, as well as the nature of the Iraqi geological formations
that could better absorb the shocks.
University of Colorado geological
scientist Roger Bilham said earthquakes in the Zagros range, where there are
more than 20 different faults, have killed more than 100,000 people in the
last 1,000 years.
Because there are so many earthquakes
in the region, proper construction is critical, but it "doesn't trickle down
to the villages," Bilham said.
In Darbandikhan, Iraq, Amina Mohammed
said she and her sons escaped their home as it collapsed around them.
"I think it was only God that saved
us," she said. "I screamed to God and it must have been him to stop the
stairs from entirely collapsing on us."
Residents were clearing the rubble from
the streets of Darbandikhan, about 10 kilometers from the Iranian border.
The quake caused visible damage to a
dam at Darbandikhan that holds back the Diyala River.
"There are horizontal and vertical
cracks on the road and in the body of the dam and parts of the dam sank
lower," said Rahman Hani, the director of the dam.
No dams were damaged in Iran, the
government in Tehran said.
Halabja, closest to the epicenter, is
notorious for the 1988 chemical attack in which Saddam killed some 5,000
people with mustard gas — the deadliest chemical weapons attack ever against
Turkey dispatched emergency aid to
northern Iraq as officials expressed "deep sadness" at the disaster. Prime
Minister Binali Yildirim said his country acted immediately to provide
medical and food aid to northern Iraq.
Kerem Kinik, the Turkish Red Crescent's
vice president, told The Associated Press from the Habur border crossing
that 33 aid trucks were en route to Sulaimaniyah, Iraq, carrying 3,000 tents
and heaters, 10,000 beds and blankets, as well as food.
Relations between Iraq's
semi-autonomous Kurdish region and Turkey were strained following the Iraqi
Kurds' September independence referendum.
Pakistan also extended condolences for
the loss of life and injuries suffered by "our Iranian and Iraqi brethren."
Pope Francis offered prayers for the
dead and urged rescue crews to stay strong.
Iran sits on many major fault lines and
is prone to near-daily quakes. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened
the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people. The last major casualty
earthquake in Iran struck in East Azerbaijan province in August 2012,
killing over 300.
Southern Mexico reports 8 killed, at least 12 bodies found
police officers patrol Caleta beach in Acapulco, Mexico. The city and
Guerrero state in general have experienced a wave of violence attributed to
warring drug gangs. (AP Photo/Enric Marti/file)
Jose Antonio Rivera
Acapulco, Mexico (AP) — Eight
people were killed in Acapulco on a particularly bloody Sunday for Mexico's
violence-plagued Pacific coast resort city, while at least 12 bodies were
found in a clandestine grave elsewhere in southern Guerrero state.
"It was a horrible day," said Roberto
Alvarez, security spokesman for Guerrero state, which is home to Acapulco.
The violence began early when police
were alerted to the bodies of three young men found with tourniquets around
their necks and signs of torture in the San Agustin neighborhood on
Acapulco's northern outskirts.
Later in the morning, a gunbattle broke
out between police and armed men on a central avenue, setting off a chase
that ended with one suspect killed and three arrested.
Still before noon, two gunmen stormed
into a bar and fatally shot a man and a woman who were drinking there.
Police patrolling nearby responded and caught the attackers.
The suspects told police the bar
contained a clandestine grave, and an excavation by authorities turned up
the bodies of four men and one woman. Authorities said they were resuming
the search Monday on the belief that more bodies could be hidden on at least
two adjacent properties.
On Sunday afternoon, gunmen killed two
men two blocks from the same central avenue where the police chase had taken
place earlier. Neighbors found the bodies and notified police.
Elsewhere in Guerrero, state
authorities reported six burned bodies, six skulls and two sets of bones
were found in the municipality of Copanatoyac.
Alvarez, the state security spokesman,
said the remains found in the clandestine body-dumping ground might
represent between 12 and 14 people.
Officials were also working to confirm
reports of killings in the Guerrero cities of Iguala, Taxco and Tlapa.
The state has been among Mexico's worst
hotspots for drug gang violence in recent years. Guerrero recorded 1,726
homicides from January through September, according to federal statistics,
up slightly from 1,654 during the same period last year and well more than
any other state in the country.
Rescuers try to save whales beached off Indonesia's Aceh
attempt to push stranded whales back into the ocean at Ujong Kareng beach in
Aceh province, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 13. (AP Photo/Syahrol Rizal)
Banda Aceh, Indonesia (AP) —
Rescuers are trying to save a small pod of whales that beached Monday off
Indonesia's Aceh province.
The head of Aceh's marine and fisheries
office, Nur Mahdi, said 10 whales were stranded at Ujong Kareng beach and
attracted hundreds of onlookers who posed for pictures with them.
He said five were refloated hours later
and led out to sea with boats. Rescuers are trying to treat two injured
whales and refloat the others, he said.
Mahdi said whale pods follow a group
leader and beach if the leader swims too close to shore due to sickness or
Police are trying to keep people away
while rescuers work with the whales, which are about 15 meters (yards) from
A sperm whale was found dead on an Aceh
beach last year after apparently being washed ashore in stormy weather.
EU launches new era in defence cooperation
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian,
right, speaks with German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen during a
meeting of EU foreign and defence ministers at the Europa building in
Brussels, Monday, Nov. 13. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Brussels (AP) — European Union
countries on Monday officially launched a new era in defence cooperation
with a program of joint military investment and project development aimed at
helping the EU confront its security challenges.
Twenty-three of the EU's 28 member
nations signed up to the process, known as permanent structured cooperation,
or PESCO. Britain, which is leaving the EU in 2019, and Denmark with a
defence opt-out were among those not taking part.
EU foreign policy chief Federica
Mogherini described it as a "historic moment in European defence," and added
that "23 member states engaging booth on capabilities and on operational
steps is something big." Those who didn't sign up can join later.
Mogherini said countries have already
submitted more than 50 joint projects in the fields of defence capabilities
and military operations. Britain can take part in some if they are of
benefit to the entire EU.
She said PESCO, backed by the EU
defence fund, "will enable member states to use the economy of scale of
Europe and in this manner to fulfill the gap of output that we have."
Their signatures are a sign of
political will but the program will only enter force once it's been legally
endorsed, probably in December.
German Foreign Minister Gabriel lauded
the agreement as "a great step toward self-sufficiency and strengthening the
European Union's security and defence policy — really a milestone in
Under the cooperation, member countries
will submit an action plan outlining their defence aims. Mogherini, EU
military chiefs and the European Defence Agency will then evaluate whether
the plans are being respected.
Those not living up to their
commitments could be kicked out of the group.
EU officials insist this is not just
bureaucratic cooperation, but real investment that will help develop
Europe's defence industry and spur research and development in military
capabilities that the bloc needs most.
Mogherini said the move would
complement NATO's security aims. The EU, she said, has tools to fight hybrid
warfare — the use of conventional weapons mixed with things like propaganda
and cyber-attacks — that the military alliance does not have at its
The EU can also bring its political and
financial weight to bear on security challenges, such as the use of
development aid in Africa, where NATO has no real foothold.
Under PESCO, EU countries will commit
to increase military spending, but not to specifically adhere to NATO's
bottom line of moving towards 2 percent of gross domestic product for
defence budgets by 2020. By working together on joint projects, nations will
be able to use their combined spending weight to purchase much needed
capabilities like air transport or drones.
"The real problem is not how much we
spend, it is the fact that we spend in a fragmented manner," Mogherini said.
Gabriel said working together is "more
economical than if everyone does the same. I think that European cooperation
on defence questions will rather contribute to saving money — we have about
50 percent of the United States' defence spending in Europe, but only 15
percent of the efficiency."
Iranians report at least 61 dead, 300 injured from quake
People stand in the street after feeling
aftershocks from an earthquake in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 12. The deadly
earthquake hit the region along the border between Iran and Iraq on Sunday.
(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Tehran, Iran (AP) — A powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the
region along the border between Iran and Iraq on Sunday, killing at least 61
people and injuring 300 in Iran, an Iranian official said.
Iranian state TV said Iraqi officials
had reported six deaths and 200 injuries inside Iraq, though there was no
official comment from Iraq's government.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the
quake was centered 19 miles (31 kilometers) outside the eastern Iraqi city
The Islamic Republic of Iran News
Network quoted the head of the country's emergency medical services,
Pirhossein Koulivand, as saying early Monday that at least 61 had been
killed and 300 injured on Iran's side of the border.
Iranian state TV also said Iraqi
officials reported at least six people dead inside Iraq, along with more
than 50 people injured in Sulaymaniyah province and about 150 in Khanaquin
city. No reports were immediately available from Iraq's government.
Koulivand earlier told a local
television station that the earthquake knocked out electricity in Iran's
western cities of Mehran and Ilam. He also said 35 rescue teams were
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a
phone call with the Interior Ministry emphasized the need for maximum effort
Iranian social media was abuzz Sunday
night with posts of people evacuating their homes, particularly in
Kermanshah and Ghasr-e Shirin.
The semi-official Iranian ILNA news
agency said at least 14 provinces in Iran had been affected by the
Officials announced that schools in
Kermanshah and Ilam provinces would be closed Monday because of the tremor.
Iran sits on many major fault lines and
is prone to near-daily quakes. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened
the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.
Chinese President Xi makes state visit to Vietnam
President Xi Jinping, second left, and Vietnamese Communist Party General
Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, left, review an honor guard during a welcoming
ceremony at the presidential palace in Hanoi, Vietnam Sunday, Nov. 12.
(Hoang Dinh Nam/Pool Photo via AP)
Hanoi, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam
gave Chinese President Xi Jinping the red carpet treatment Sunday at the
start of a state visit, as the two communist neighbors try to broaden their
economic ties and work on resolving territorial disputes in the South China
Xi and Nguyen Phu Trong, general
secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party, reviewed an honor guard and
headed for talks behind closed doors. It was Xi's first overseas trip since
consolidating his power at a party congress last month.
Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump,
among others, just finished an Asia-Pacific economic summit in the
Vietnamese coastal city of Danang.
Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang
said that his country wants to end disputes in the South China Sea through
"It's our policy to settle disputes in
the East Sea through peaceful negotiations and with respect for diplomatic
and legal process in accordance with international law, including the U.N.
Convention on the Law of the Sea," he said, referring to the South China
Quang made the comments Sunday during a
joint news conference with Trump. Trump had offered during a meeting earlier
Sunday with Quang to serve as a mediator on the South China Sea disputes.
Vietnam and China, along with four
other governments, claim all or parts of the South China Sea, which is
believed to sit atop rich natural resources and occupies one of the world's
busiest sea lanes.
China in recent years has built
artificial islands and increased its militarization there, drawing criticism
from Washington, which argues that the U.S. has a national interest in
freedom of navigation in sea lanes critical for world trade.
Vietnam has become the most vocal
opponent of China's moves after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
softened his country's stance on China.
Tran Viet Thai of the Vietnam
Diplomatic Academy said Xi's visit is important to build mutual trust.
"The visit marks a new step forward in
Vietnam-China relations," he said. "Hopefully the relations will continue to
stabilize, because the two sides currently share great interests in
broadening their cooperation and maintaining stability."
Bilateral relations plunged to their
lowest level in years when China in 2014 parked a giant oil rig in an area
claimed by Vietnam. The incident sparked deadly anti-China protests for
The two communist neighbors have in
recent months experienced spats over the South China Sea. In July, Vietnam
had to suspend an oil and gas exploration project conducted by Spain's
Repsol company, under apparent pressure from China. In September, Vietnam
protested live-fire drills by China near the Paracel islands.
Prince Charles stands in for queen at war memorial ceremony
Britain's Prince Charles lays a wreath on behalf
of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during the service of remembrance at the
Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, Sunday, Nov. 12. The annual service is to
remember those who have lost their lives serving in the Armed Forces. (AP
London (AP) — Prince Charles led
Britain's annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony for war dead, taking the role
held for more than six decades by his mother Queen Elizabeth II.
The 91-year-old queen, dressed in
black, watched the service at London's Cenotaph memorial from a nearby
balcony alongside her 96-year-old husband Prince Philip.
The monarch, who is gradually cutting
back on public duties after 65 years on the throne, had asked her
68-year-old son and heir to lay a wreath of poppies on her behalf.
The queen's grandsons, Prince William
and Prince Harry, both military veterans, and other royals also left bright
red wreaths at the foot of the monument.
Britain's political leaders,
representatives of religious faiths and dignitaries from the Commonwealth of
former British colonies also attended the ceremony in central London, laying
wreaths on the simple Portland stone monument inscribed with the words "the
Thousands of service personnel,
veterans and members of the public gathered on a cold, sunny fall day to
honor those killed in World War I and subsequent conflicts.
Whitehall, the wide street lined with
government buildings where the Cenotaph stands, fell silent as Parliament's
Big Ben bell sounded 11 a.m. The two-minute pause was broken by a bugler
sounding "The Last Post."
After the formal wreath-laying,
thousands of veterans, war widows and their families marched past the
monument to the sound of a military band, applauded by well-wishers lining
the sidewalks. Almost everyone wore a red paper poppy — the official symbol
of remembrance — on their lapel.
The ceremony takes place every year on
the nearest Sunday to the anniversary of the end of World War I on Nov. 11,
1918. Similar ceremonies were held in dozens of towns and cities across
Britain and at British military bases overseas.
In the Northern Ireland town of Omagh,
the Remembrance Sunday parade was disrupted when a suspicious device was
found near a war memorial. Police cordoned off the area, and Police Service
of Northern Ireland chief inspector Graham Dodds said it was "a sickening
attempt by cowards to create fear and disruption."
Omagh was the site of the deadliest
bombing of Northern Ireland's decades-long Catholic-Protestant conflict,
where Irish Republican Army dissidents killed 29 people with a car bomb in
UK's May under pressure from 2 sides as Brexit crunch looms
British Prime Minister Theresa May is shown
outside the EU Commission building in Brussels in this Oct. 20, 2017 file
photo. (AP Foto/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
London (AP) — British Prime
Minister Theresa May is caught in a vice of pressure from both sides of the
Brexit debate as she tries to get a key plank in the government's plans for
leaving the EU through Parliament.
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
returns this week to the House of Commons, where it will face a flurry of
amendments from lawmakers.
The bill is designed to prevent a legal
vacuum by converting some 12,000 EU laws into British statute on the day the
U.K. leaves the bloc in 2019. Legislators are scheduled to hold several days
of debate and votes starting Tuesday.
But many lawmakers claim the bill gives
the government too much power to amend legislation without parliamentary
scrutiny. They will try to pass amendments to water down those powers.
And opponents of Brexit — both from the
opposition and from May's Conservative Party — will seek to give Parliament
a binding vote on the final divorce deal between Britain and the EU.
Meanwhile, supporters of Brexit are
pressuring May not to give ground by compromising with the EU or with
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, leading euroskeptics in May's Cabinet,
warned the prime minister in a note to stand firm in the ambition of making
Britain "a fully independent self-governing country by the time of the next
election" in 2022, the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported.
The note published by the newspaper
accused some ministers of not preparing for Brexit with "sufficient energy."
May, weakened by the Conservatives'
poor showing in a snap June election, has little room to maneuver. She
relies on a small Northern Ireland party to prop up her minority government
and is caught between warring factions in her Cabinet.
She also faces a sexual harassment
scandal involving a growing number of politicians and the resignation of two
Cabinet ministers so far this month.
Businesses, meanwhile, are clamoring
for clarity on what the future relationship between Britain and the bloc
will be, as economists warn that the uncertainty is slowing Britain's
The government's negotiations with the
EU have been slowed by a lack of agreement on the terms of the U.K.'s
withdrawal, including how much Britain must pay to meet its financial
commitments to the bloc.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier says
there must be major progress in the next two weeks if EU leaders are to
agree at a December summit to move on to discussing trade and future
U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis said
Sunday that Britain is not about to commit to a firm figure for its Brexit
"It's taking time, and we will take our
time to get to the right answer" he told Sky News.
Davis denied the talks had stalled and
said, "There has actually been a huge amount of progress" on what he called
"the most complex negotiation probably in history."
Trump: 'I'm with our agencies' on Russian election meddling
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a press
conference at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam Sunday, Nov. 12.
(Kham/Pool Photo via AP)
Jill Colvin and Jonathan Lemire
Hanoi, Vietnam (AP) — President
Donald Trump on Sunday said he believes U.S. intelligence agencies, which
have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
But Trump also said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is sincere
when he says Russia didn't interfere.
"I believe that he feels that he and
Russia did not meddle in the election," Trump said of Putin at a news
conference with Vietnam's president in Hanoi. "As to whether I believe it,
I'm with our agencies."
He added, "As currently led by fine
people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies."
Top U.S. intelligence officials,
including those at the CIA, have concluded that Russia interfered in the
election to help the Republican Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. A
special counsel and multiple Congressional committees are also investigating
potential collusion between Moscow and Trump campaign aides. That probe has
so far led to the indictments of Trump's former campaign chairman and
another top aide for financial and other crimes unrelated to the campaign,
as well as a guilty plea from a Trump foreign policy adviser.
It's a question that has followed Trump
since January, when he said for the first time at a press conference in
Trump Tower shortly before taking office that he accepted Russia was behind
the election year hacking of Democrats that roiled the White House race.
"As far as hacking, I think it was
Russia," Trump said then, quickly adding that "other countries and other
people" also hack U.S. interests.
But the issue wasn't settled.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force
One on Saturday on his way to Hanoi, Trump had said that Putin again
vehemently denied the allegations — this time on the sidelines of an
economic conference in the seaside city of Danang. Trump danced around
questions of whether he believed Putin, but stressed Putin's denials. He
also accused Democrats of using the issue to try to sabotage relations
between the two countries, putting lives at risk.
"Every time he sees me, he said: 'I
didn't do that.' And I believe — I really believe — that when he tells me
that, he means it," Trump said, arguing that it made no sense for him to
belabor the issue.
"I'd rather have him get out of Syria,
to be honest with you. I'd rather have him, you know, work with him on the
Ukraine than standing and arguing," he said.
Trump also lashed out at the former
heads of the nation's intelligence agencies, claiming there were plenty of
reasons to be suspicious of their findings. "I mean, give me a break.
They're political hacks," Trump said, citing by name James Clapper, the
former director of national intelligence, John Brennan, the former CIA
director and his ousted ex-FBI director James Comey, whom Trump said was
"proven now to be a liar and he's proven to be a leaker."
In a tweet sent Sunday from Hanoi,
Trump bashed the "haters and fools" he said were questioning his efforts to
improve relations with Russia and accused critics of "playing politics" and
hurting the country.
Trump's Saturday comments sparked
criticism from lawmakers with ties to the intelligence community. Rep. Adam
Schiff, the California Democrat who is his party's top member on the House's
intelligence committee, said in a statement that Trump "fools no one" and
that the president understands how the Russians intervened in the election
through hacking, social media and television coverage of the presidential
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the party's
presidential nominee in 2008, said in a statement that Trump's faith in
Putin's denial was "naive."
"There's nothing 'America First' about
taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence
community," McCain wrote, referring to Putin's former career in Soviet
intelligence. "Vladimir Putin does not have America's interests at heart."
Trump was in Hanoi for a brief state
visit. He was traveling to the Philippines later Sunday — the last stop of
his five country trip — for a pair of summits.
In brief remarks after his arrival at
Hanoi's presidential palace, Trump offered Vietnam help negotiating with
China on disputes over the South China Sea. Beijing's island-building there
has drawn criticism from Washington, which argues the U.S. has a national
interest in freedom of navigation in sea lanes critical for world trade.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this month said China's
"provocative actions" challenged international law and norms.
"If I can help mediate or arbitrate,
please let me know," Trump offered. "I'm a very good mediator and a very
good arbitrator. I've done plenty of it from both sides."
Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang
said he preferred to settle the dispute through "peaceful negotiations" and
"with respect for diplomatic and legal process in accordance with
Trump also said he hoped to have more
help from Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as Russia, when it comes to
isolating North Korea, in an effort to pressure the country to abandon its
nuclear weapons program. "President Xi I think is going to be a tremendous
help. I hope Russia likewise will be a tremendous help," Trump said. "I
think they can make a big difference."
Earlier, Trump had exchanged schools
yard taunts with the country's leader Kim Jong-un. "Why would Kim Jong-un
insult me by calling me "old," when I would NEVER call him "short and fat?"
Trump tweeted from Vietnam, adding: "Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend
- and maybe someday that will happen!"
Asked whether he could really be
friends with Kim, Trump said, "I think anything's a possibility. Strange
things happen in life."
Trump and Putin did not have a formal
meeting while they were in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
summit, but the two spoke informally several times and reached an agreement
on a number of principles for the future of war-torn Syria.
Trump's comments made clear that Trump
still does not take the meddling seriously and sees little benefit in
punishing a nation accused of undermining the most fundamental tenet of
American democracy: free and fair elections. They also suggest that Trump is
unlikely to work aggressively to try to prevent future meddling despite
repeated warnings from senior intelligence officials that Russia is likely
to try to interfere again.
Update November 11 - 12, 2017
Anger rises as toxic air chokes India's capital
Indian commuters wait for
transport amid thick blanket of smog on the outskirts of New Delhi, India,
Friday, Nov. 10. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
New Delhi (AP) — As thick smog
crept over India's capital this week and smudged landmarks from view, Nikunj
Pandey could feel his eyes and throat burning.
Pandey stopped doing his regular
workouts and said he felt tightness in his lungs. He started wearing a
triple layer of pollution masks over his mouth. And he became angry that he
couldn't safely breathe the air.
"This is a basic right," he said. "A
basic right of humanity."
Pandey is among many people in New
Delhi who have become more aware of the toxic air in recent years and are
increasingly frustrated at the lack of meaningful action by authorities.
This week the air was the worst it's
been all year in the capital, with microscopic particles that can affect
breathing and health spiking to 75 times the level considered safe by the
World Health Organization.
Experts have compared breathing the air
to smoking a couple of packs of cigarettes a day. The Lancet medical journal
recently estimated some 2.5 million Indians die each year from pollution.
Pandey said the millions of rural folk
who have moved to the city understand the problem better than they once did,
and are trying everything from tying scarves over their faces to eating
"jaggery," a sugar cane product that some people believe offers a range of
Masks once considered an affectation of
hypochondriac tourists are these days routinely worn by government workers
and regular people on the street.
Volunteers handed out thousands of
green surgical masks this week to make a point about the pollution, but such
masks likely have a limited impact on keeping out the tiny particles from
"This is truly a health emergency,"
said Anumita Roychowdhury, the executive director of research and advocacy
at New Delhi's Centre for Science and Environment.
She said doctors in recent days have
been dealing with a 20 percent spike in emergency hospital admissions from
people suffering heart and lung problems. And that's in a city, she said,
where one in every three children already has compromised lungs.
Seema Upadhyaya, who heads a primary
school, said she has never before witnessed so many children suffering from
respiratory illnesses as she has this year. That has prompted changes to the
"It's impacting everybody," she said.
Authorities have been taking
extraordinary measures to try to mitigate the immediate crisis. They have
temporarily closed schools and stopped most trucks from entering the city.
Next week they are considering rationing car usage.
But everyone agrees such measures don't
address the root causes, which remain hard to solve.
Roychowdhury said the city's pollution
has been trapped this week by a lack of wind at ground level, colliding
winds in the upper atmosphere, and cooling temperatures.
Air quality typically gets worse at
this time of year as nearby farmers burn fields and people build street
fires to keep warm. The conditions this week prompted the capital's top
elected official, Arvind Kejriwal, to describe his city as a "gas chamber."
While crop burning has been banned in
and around the capital, officials say it's hard to punish impoverished
farmers for continuing traditional methods that have been handed down
through the generations.
Pandey said it's part of a broader
problem in India.
"Your water is not healthy, your food
is not healthy, your vegetables are polluted, they are poisoned," he said.
"I mean, everything is polluted right now."
Roychowdhury said she is encouraged
there is rising awareness of the air quality problem, both among residents
and the medical community. But she says authorities need to do more.
She said officials have been asking
people this week to use more public transport, but at the same time the city
doesn't have enough buses and hasn't bought any new ones in recent years.
"What we are saying, and the Supreme
Court has already asked for it, is that there should be a comprehensive plan
for all sources of pollution," she said.
Meanwhile, people like Pandey say they
are going to have to suffer through, because New Delhi is where they need to
be based for work opportunities and their families.
"We are India, right?" he said. "We
just try to survive in whatever condition we are in. That is how it is."
Talking tough on trade, Trump pushes 'America first' in Asia
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the final
day of the APEC CEO Summit on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in Danang, Vietnam, Friday, Nov. 10.
(Anthony Wallance/Pool Photo via AP)
Jill Colvin and Jonathan Lemire
Danang, Vietnam (AP) — President
Donald Trump stood before a summit of Asian leaders keen on regional trade
pacts and delivered a roaring "America first" message Friday, denouncing
China for unfair trade practices just a day after he had heaped praise on
President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
"We are not going to let the United
States be taken advantage of anymore," Trump told CEOs on the sidelines of
the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. "I am always going to put
America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put
your countries first."
The president — who pulled the United
States out of the Pacific Rim trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific
Partnership — said the U.S. would no longer join "large agreements that tie
our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement
Instead, he said, the U.S. will pursue
one-on-one trade deals with other nations that pledge fair and reciprocal
As for China, Trump said he'd spoken
"openly and directly" with Xi about the nation's abusive trade practices and
"the enormous trade deficits they have produced with the United States."
It was a stark change in tone from the
day before, when Trump was Xi's guest of honor during a state visit in
Beijing. There, Trump opted for flattering Xi and blaming past U.S.
presidents for the trade deficit.
Trump said China's trade surplus, which
stood at $223 billion for the first 10 months of the year, was unacceptable.
He repeated his language from Thursday, when he said he did "not blame
China" or any other country "for taking advantage of the United States on
But Trump added forceful complaints
about "the audacious theft of intellectual property," ''massive subsidizing
of industries through colossal state-owned enterprises," and American
companies being targeted by "state-affiliated actors for economic gain."
U.S. officials have raised similar
concerns in the past about China, especially with regard to intellectual
Behind the scenes, White House
officials quietly negotiated with the Kremlin over whether Trump and Russian
President Vladimir Putin would hold a formal meeting on the sidelines in
Danang, with the Russians raising expectations for such a session.
As speculation built, the two sides
tried to craft the framework of a deal that Trump and Putin could announce
in a formal bilateral meeting, according to two administration officials not
authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.
Though North Korea and the Ukraine had
been discussed, the two sides focused on trying to strike an agreement about
a path to resolve Syria's civil war once the Islamic State group is
defeated, according to officials. But the talks stalled and, just minutes
before Air Force One touched down in Vietnam, White House Press Secretary
Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the meeting was off.
When asked about the outcome, Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later snapped at reporters: "Why are you
asking me? Ask the Americans."
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that
even without a formal meeting, "Both presidents are in town, and their paths
will cross one way or another."
That they did Friday night during the
summit's welcome gala: The two men, each wearing traditional Vietnamese
shifts, shook hands and greeted one another as they stood side-by-side for
the group photo of world leaders.
Russia named as likely source of Europe radioactivity spike
This photo provided Friday Nov. 10, by the INRS,
Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, shows a map of the
detection of Ruthenium 106 in France and Europe. (INRS via AP)
Paris (AP) — An apparent
accident at a Russian facility is suspected of causing a recent spike in
radioactivity in the air over much of Europe, according to a report by
France's nuclear safety agency.
The Institute for Radiological
Protection and Nuclear Safety says the release of the isotope Ruthenium-106
posed no health or environmental risks to European countries. It said the
"plausible zone of release" was between the Volga River and the Ural
Mountains, and suggested random checks on food imports from the region as a
In a report released Thursday based on
monitoring in multiple European countries, IRSN said the Ruthenium appeared
to come from an accident in late September involving nuclear fuel or the
production of radioactive material. The French agency said the Ruthenium
didn't appear to come from an accident in a nuclear reactor because that
would have released other elements.
Germany's Federal Office for Radiation
Protection said last week that elevated levels of Ruthenium were reported in
Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France since Sept. 29, but posed no
threat to public health.
After reports of a Ruthenium-106 leak
from a plant in the southern Urals first appeared, Russia's state-controlled
Rosatom corporation said in a statement last month that it hadn't come from
"The claim that the contamination had a
Russian origin is unfounded," it said.
The French report says the
radioactivity peaked in late September and early October and affected a
"majority of European countries" but is no longer detected in the atmosphere
over Europe. However it said if such an accident had happened in France,
authorities would set up a perimeter around the accident site to monitor
health, safety and food quality.
Ruthenium-106 is used for radiation
therapy to treat eye tumors, and sometimes as a source of energy to power
The French agency also said Ruthenium
releases could come from the re-entry of a satellite into the Earth's
atmosphere, but that the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that no
satellites powered by Ruthenium re-entered the atmosphere during the time
France, which has an extensive nuclear
energy industry, has reported a series of low-level nuclear incidents
recently but none involving Ruthenium or threats to public health.
Tensions as Paris suburb tries to stop Muslim street prayers
Clichy la Garenne's mayor Remi Muzueau, center
right, and President of the Regional Council of the Ile-de-France region
Valerie Pecresse, center left, join a demonstration against Muslim street
prayers, in the Paris suburb of Clichy la Garenne, Friday, Nov. 10. (AP
Jeffrey Schaeffer and Nicolas Garriga
Clichy-la-Garenne, France (AP) —
Tensions erupted Friday as French officials and residents of a Paris suburb
tried to block Muslims from praying in the street — a dispute that reflects
nationwide problems with mosque shortages.
No one was hurt in the skirmishes in
Clichy-la-Garenne, but both sides appeared to be digging in their heels in
the dispute over prayer space in the town.
Carrying a large banner reading "Stop
Illegal Street Prayers," Mayor Remi Muzeau led more than 100 demonstrators
Friday in a show of force to dissuade Muslims from praying on the town's
market square. Worshippers have been praying there every Friday for months
to protest the closure of a prayer room.
A few dozen worshippers tried to pray
anyway but sought to avoid confrontation with the protesters and retreated
to a less visible spot. But the demonstrators squeezed them toward a wooden
As worshippers chanted "Allahu akbar,"
or "God is great" in Arabic, the larger group of demonstrators loudly sang
the French national anthem. Some held French flags and a crucifix aloft.
Amid pushing and shoving, a banner the
worshippers were carrying reading "United for a Grand Mosque of Clichy" was
Police with shields then formed a human
barricade between the groups and Muslims eventually unrolled their rugs on
the pavement, took off their shoes and held their prayers.
When the incident was over, the
worshippers clapped, and the mayor pledged to come back again next week — as
did the Muslim worshippers.
"We'll do it every Friday if
necessary," said Muzeau.
"I must assure the tranquility and
freedom of the people in my city," he said. "We must not allow this to
happen in our country. Our country, the French Republic is tarnished."
Hamid Kazed, president of the Union of
Muslim Associations of Clichy, who led the prayers, said, "We are going to
continue until there's a dialogue for a definitive venue."
"That's what they want. To divide the
citizens," he said. "We are not fundamentalists. We are for Islam of
The demonstrators were joined by the
president of the Paris region, Valerie Pecresse, and officials and residents
of other Paris suburbs
While Islam has long been France's No.
2 religion, the country has a chronic shortage of mosques for its estimated
5 million Muslims. Muslims in several towns have resorted to praying in the
streets, fueling the anti-immigrant sentiment of far-right National Front
leader Marine Le Pen.
Clichy Muslims had been renting a
prayer hall from City Hall. But the town's mayor decided to turn that space
into a library for the town's 60,000 residents, and the prayer hall was shut
down in March following a court battle.
City Hall says Muslims can worship at a
new Islamic cultural and prayer center, already used by hundreds that the
town inaugurated last year. However some Muslims say the new facility is too
small, remote and doesn't meet safety standards.
Indonesia selfie museum stirs outrage with Nazi display
In this Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 photo, a visitor
walks past the wax figure of Adolf Hitler displayed against the backdrop of
an image of Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau at the De Mata Museum in
Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Slamet Riyadi)
Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) —
The teenagers smile as they take selfies with a heroically posed Hitler,
apparently unaware that the giant backdrop to their happy moment is the
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp where more than a million people
were exterminated by the Nazi dictator's regime.
It's a scene that plays out every
day at a waxwork and visual effects museum in Yogyakarta, an Indonesian
city better known for its universities, Javanese culture and as the seat
of a historic sultanate. The infotainment-style museum, De Mata, is
defending the display as "fun" for teenagers.
Human Rights Watch denounced the
exhibit as "sickening" and the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal
Center, which campaigns against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism,
demanded its immediate removal.
"Everything about it is wrong. It's
hard to find words for how contemptible it is," said Rabbi Abraham
Cooper, associate dean of the center. "The background is disgusting. It
mocks the victims who went in and never came out."
The waxwork portrays Hitler as an
imposing and dominant figure, a far cry from the drug-addled physical
wreck who committed suicide on April 30, 1945, as Russian forces
overwhelmed the German capital, Berlin.
Behind the waxwork is a giant image
of Auschwitz and the slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" — work sets you free —
that appeared over the entrance to Auschwitz and other camps where
millions of Jews and others were systematically killed during Germany's
wartime occupation of much of Europe.
To one side of Hitler there's Darth
Vader and directly opposite is Indonesia's current president, Joko
It's not the first time Nazism and
its symbols have been normalized or even idealized in Indonesia, the
world's most populous Muslim nation and home to a tiny Jewish community.
A Nazi-themed cafe in the city of
Bandung where waiters wore SS uniforms caused anger abroad for several
years until reportedly closing its doors at the beginning of this year.
In 2014, a music video made by Indonesian pop stars as a tribute to
presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto stirred outrage with its Nazi
The latest episode has surfaced
during an upsurge in nationalistic rhetoric in Indonesia.
Warli, the marketing officer for
the museum who goes by one name, said he was aware Hitler was
responsible for mass murder but defended the waxwork, on display since
2014, as "one of the favorite figures for our visitors to take selfies
"No visitors complained about it.
Most of our visitors are having fun because they know this is just an
entertainment museum," he said.
Warli hadn't heard of the Simon
Wiesenthal Center but said he'd discuss its demand to remove the display
with De Mata's owner, businessman Peter Kusuma, and management.
"We will follow the best advice and
the response from the public," he said. "Let people judge whether the
character is good or bad."
Cooper said it was inexcusable that
a business would intentionally use Nazism and the Holocaust to make
money and deplored the "disconnect" with history.
"When Hitler was finished with
Europe he was going to come after the folks in Asia," he said.
Human Rights Watch's Indonesia
researcher, Andreas Harsono, said the waxwork and its concentration camp
backdrop was "sickening" and a reflection that anti-Jewish sentiment in
Indonesia is more widespread than generally appreciated.
He said the conflict between Israel
and Palestine has fed anti-Semitism in Indonesia for decades but the
prejudice has deeper roots in narrow interpretations of the Koran..