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Officials say clashes in southern Yemen kill 10

Officials say clashes in southern Yemen kill 10

Yemeni officials say clashes between separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates and a rival splinter group in the southern port city of Aden killed at least 10 people including four civilians

By AHMED AL-HAJ Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 8:10 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

SANAA, Yemen — Clashes between Yemeni separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates and a rival splinter group in the southern port city of Aden killed at least 10 people including four civilians on Saturday, security officials said.

The fighting has taken place in Aden’s residential neighborhood of Crater, where the presidential palace and other government buildings are located, they said. It pits forces of the of the secessionist Southern Transitional Council against an armed religious group that was once part of the council, according to the officials.

The armed group is led by Brig. Imam al-Noubi, a Salafi officer who commanded a faction of the separatist militia known as the Security Belt. He became a dissent two years ago after he fell out with the council leader, according to one official.

The officials said a dozen fighters were also wounded in the clashes, which had subsided by Saturday evening after the Security Belt deployed reinforcements, including armored vehicles, to the neighborhood.

The Security Belt called for Crater’s residents to remain at their homes, as “Aden’s security forces and counter-terrorism forces clear the area from some groups and terrorist hotbeds.”

Residents reported hearing heavy gunfire and shelling that hit apartment buildings.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media, and the residents did so for fear of reprisals.

The Southern Transitional Council is an umbrella group of heavily armed and well- financed militias propped up by the UAE since 2015. It hopes to restore an independent southern Yemen, which existed from 1967-1990.

The council controls large swathes in southern Yemen, including Aden, which serves as an interim capital of the internationally recognized government of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The clashes in Crater have come two weeks after protests in Aden and other southern cities over dire living conditions amid an unprecedented drop in the value of the local currency, the Rial.

The rial lost 36% of its value in July, according to the U.N. humanitarian agency. One U.S. dollar trades at more than 1,000 rials in the black market.

A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015, backed by the United States, to try restore Hadi to power, and threw its support behind his internationally backed government. The conflict has deteriorated largely into a stalemate and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis live in famine-like conditions. More than 20 million of the country’s some 30 million people need some form of humanitarian aid, according to the U.N.

Dubai Expo 2020 offers conflicting figures on worker deaths

Dubai Expo 2020 offers conflicting figures on worker deaths

Dubai’s Expo 2020 has offered conflicting figures for how many workers had been killed on site during construction of the massive world’s fair, first saying five and then later three

By ISABEL DEBRE Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 7:50 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressMarchers wave the French and Emirati flags during the French ceremonial day at the Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Oct, 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai’s Expo 2020 on Saturday offered conflicting figures for how many workers had been killed on site during construction of the massive world’s fair, first saying five and then later three.

In a later statement, Expo apologized and described the initial figure as a “mistake.” Authorities had refused for months to publicly provide any figures for construction-related casualties in the run-up to the $7 billion fair rising from the desert outside Dubai, designed the burnish the city’s reputation abroad and draw millions of visitors.

The inconsistent statements came as the event and the United Arab Emirates as a whole long has faced criticism from human rights activists over poor treatment of the low-paid migrant laborers from Africa, Asia and the Middle East who keep the country’s economy humming.

When pressed to provide a number for worker deaths at a news conference Saturday morning, Expo spokesperson Sconaid McGeachin said without hesitation that “we have had five fatalities now,” adding, “you know, that is obviously a tragedy that anybody would die.”

But just after 5 p.m. Saturday and hours after an Associated Press report quoted McGeachin, Expo put out a statement that said: “Unfortunately, there have been three work-related fatalities (and) 72 serious injuries to date.” Just after 7 p.m., Expo issued another statement apologizing for “the inaccuracy.”

The admission comes after the European Parliament urged nations not to take part in Expo, citing the UAE’s “inhumane practices against foreign workers” that it said worsened during the pandemic. Ahead of Expo, businesses and construction companies are “coercing workers into signing untranslated documents, confiscating their passports, exposing them to extreme working hours in unsafe weather conditions and providing them with unsanitary housing,” the resolution last month said.

McGeachin also acknowledged that authorities were aware of cases involving contractors “withholding passports,” engaging in suspect “recruitment practices” and violating workplace safety codes.

“We have taken steps to ensure those have been addressed and very much intervened in cases on that,” she said, without elaborating.

Laborers in the UAE are barred from unionization and have few protections, often working long hours for little pay and living in substandard conditions. Most foreign workers, hoping to earn more than they would at home, come to the UAE and other oil-rich Arab states through recruitment agencies, part of a sponsorship system that ties their residency status to their jobs and lends their employers outsized power.

Dubai’s searing early autumn heat proved hazardous even for those visiting the site on its opening day Friday, with some tourists fainting in the 40 degree Celsius (104 degree Fahrenheit) humid weather.

On the fairgrounds Saturday to mark France’s National Day at Expo, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a news conference that his government was “not part” of the European Parliament resolution urging the boycott of Dubai’s world’s fair.

“Our relation with the United Arab Emirates is a strategic one, it’s very close,” Le Drian said when asked about concerns over labor abuses on site. “If we need to say something to the United Arab Emirates’ government we do so behind closed doors.”

There was no Emirati official present at the press conference.

Protesters denounce Bosnian Serb leaders, claim corruption

Protesters denounce Bosnian Serb leaders, claim corruption

Several thousand people have rallied in Bosnia against the government in the Serb-dominated part of the Balkan nation

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 7:36 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressPeople gather for a protest against the government in Banja Luka, in Serb-dominated part of Bosnia, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Several thousand people have rallied against the government in Serb-dominated part of Bosnia. The protesters on Saturday accused the ruling party of nationalist leader Milorad Dodik of crime and corruption and called for its ouster. (AP Photo/Radivoje Pavicic)

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Several thousand people rallied Saturday in Bosnia against the government in Serb-dominated part of the Balkan nation.

No incidents were reported at the rally held at the central square in the northwest town of Banja Luka.

The town’s mayor, Drasko Stanivukovic, who is an opposition leader, said “we are launching a struggle against the private state!”

“This is not a protest, this is an uprising!” he said.

The Bosnian Serb entity, called Republika Srpska, and the Bosniak-Croat one were formed after the 1992-95 war that left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced.

Dodik has insisted on trying to separate the Serb-run part of Bosnia from the rest of the country. The pro-Russian Serb leader is also a member of the multi-ethnic Bosnian presidency.

In modest step, Qatar holds its 1st legislative council vote

In modest step, Qatar holds its 1st legislative council vote

Qatari citizens have voted for the first time in elections for an advisory council

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 7:20 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressQataris arrive to vote in legislative elections in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. For the first time citizens will elect two-thirds of Shura council while emir will appoint the remaining 15 members. (AP Photo/Hussein Sayed)

The “experiment,” as Qatari officials have described the vote, comes as the 2022 World Cup casts a global spotlight on the hereditarily ruled nation and generates pressure for reform. Qatar first introduced plans for the legislative elections in its 2003 constitution, but authorities repeatedly postponed the vote.

Qataris on Saturday headed to the polls to choose two-thirds of the 45-member Shura Council, which drafts laws, approves state budges, debates major issues and provides advice to ruling emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The body does not have sway, however, over matters of defense, security and the economy.

The vast majority of the nearly 300 candidates are men, with nearly all hailing from the same family or tribe in several districts.

The country’s electoral law, which distinguishes between born and naturalized Qatari citizens, and bars the latter from electoral participation, has drawn criticism from rights groups. In a report last month, Human Rights Watch described the system as “discriminatory,” excluding thousands of Qataris from running or voting. The disqualifications have sparked minor tribal protests that led to several arrests.

Sheikh Tamim, who previously elected all the council members, will handpick the remaining 15 members of the body and retain ultimate authority over decision-making in the energy-rich country. Like other Gulf Arab states, Qatar bans political parties. Foreign workers outnumber Qatari citizens in the tiny country of 2.8 million nearly nine to one.

Among the sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf, only Kuwait’s parliament has genuine sway over the government, with lawmakers empowered to introduce laws and question ministers. The elected body, however, clashes frequently and raucously with the emir-appointed Cabinet, blocking major initiatives and hampering economic development.

The move brings Qatar more in line with the United Arab Emirates, where citizens vote for a limited number of seats in a consultative parliament that advises the government.

Philippine leader Duterte announces retirement from politics

Philippine leader Duterte announces retirement from politics

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he is backing out of an announced plan to run for vice president in next year’s elections and will retire from politics after his term ends

By JIM GOMEZ and JOEAL CALUPITAN Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 6:40 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressFILE – In this Sept. 15, 2021, file photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he meets members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines. Duterte announces he is retiring from politics, backs out of election. (Karl Alonzo/Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP, File)

Speaking before reporters, Duterte said many Filipinos have expressed their opposition to his vice-presidential bid in surveys and public forums.

“The overwhelming sentiment of the Filipino is that I’m not qualified, and it would be a violation of the constitution,” Duterte said. “I will follow what you wish, and today I announce my retirement from politics.”

The 76-year-old leader, known for his deadly anti-drugs crackdown, brash rhetoric and unorthodox political style, earlier accepted the ruling party’s nomination for him to seek the vice presidency in the May 9 elections. The decision outraged many of his opponents, who have described him as a human rights calamity in an Asian bastion of democracy.

Duterte announced his surprise withdrawal from the election after accompanying his former longtime aide, Sen. Bong Go, who registered his vice presidential candidacy instead under the ruling party at a Commission on Elections center.

Philippine presidents are limited by the constitution to a single six-year term, and opponents had said they would question the legality of Duterte’s announced vice presidential run before the Supreme Court if he pursued it.

While two past presidents have run for lower elected positions and won after their terms ended in recent history, Duterte was the first to consider running for the vice presidency. If he did pursue the candidacy and win, that could elevate him back to the presidency if the elected leader dies or is incapacitated for any reason.

Duterte’s withdrawal could pave the way for the possible presidential run of his daughter Sara Duterte, who is currently the mayor of southern Davao city. She has been prodded by many supporters to make a bid to succeed her father and has topped independent public opinion surveys on who should lead the country next.

But after her father initially declared that he would seek the vice presidency, Sara Duterte announced she would not run for president, saying she and her father have agreed that only one Duterte would run for a national office next year.

Shortly after Duterte announced he was backing out from the vice-presidential run, his daughter filed her papers for reelection in Davao city, although speculation remains rife that she will eventually withdraw from her mayoral reelection bid and seek the presidency.

President Duterte took office in 2016 and immediately launched a crackdown on illegal drugs that has left more than 6,000 mostly petty suspects dead and alarmed Western governments and human rights groups. The International Criminal Court has launched an investigation of the killings, but he has vowed never to cooperate with the inquiry and allow ICC investigators into the country.

Duterte was a former longtime Davao city mayor, government prosecutor and legislator in a colorful political career that spanned more than three decades. He will be remembered by many for his extra-tough approach to criminality that earned him monikers such as “Duterte Harry,” after Clint Eastwood’s police character who had little regard for the law.

When he exits from politics, he would likely be hounded by lawsuits arising from his violent anti-criminality campaign. He cited that concern in July as one of the reasons he accepted the ruling PDP-Laban party’s nomination for him to be its vice-presidential aspirant.

A U.S.-based human rights group said Duterte would do everything in his power to support a friendly successor and would harness his lingering influence in retirement to shield himself from an array of potential criminal charges.

Duterte will back a candidate “who can give him that protection,” said Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch. “Eluding accountability for human rights abuses is Duterte’s primary concern as his presidency winds down.”

———

Associated Press journalists Kiko Rosario and Aaron Favila in Manila contributed to this report.

Pakistan army says militants kill 5 troops near Afghanistan

Pakistan army says militants kill 5 troops near Afghanistan

Pakistan’s military says militants have targeted security forces in a vehicle travelling near the Afghan border, killing four soldiers and one policeman

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 6:15 PM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani Taliban targeted security forces in a vehicle travelling near the Afghan border on Saturday, killing four soldiers and one policeman, the military said Saturday.

In a statement, they said the attack took place in the Spinwam area of North Waziristan, and that an operation was underway to strike back against the militants.

Pakistani Taliban, known as TTP or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, operate in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

The group claimed responsibility in a statement, saying it had ambushed a “raiding party” in the area on Friday. The military did not specify when the attack took place.

North Waziristan and other tribal regions were once militant safe havens, though less so after many government operations to clear the areas. Most groups operate on both sides of the porous border with Afghanistan, and strike against security forces sporadically.

AP PHOTOS: Life in a madrassa as Afghanistan enters new era

AP PHOTOS: Life in a madrassa as Afghanistan enters new era

Attention is turning to the future of education in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, with calls among urban educated Afghans and the international community for equal access to education for girls and women

By FELIPE DANA Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 5:52 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressAfghan students read the Quran, Islam’s holy book, at a madrasa in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

KABUL, Afghanistan — In a school in a remote corner of the Afghan capital, a cacophony of children’s voices recite Islam’s holiest book.

Sunshine streams through the windows of the Khatamul Anbiya madrassa, where a dozen young boys sit in a circle under the tutelage of their teacher, Ismatullah Mudaqiq.

The students are awake by 4:30 a.m. and start the day with prayers. They spend class time memorizing the Quran, chanting verses until the words are ingrained. At any moment, Mudaqiq might test them by asking that a verse be recited from memory.

Attention is turning to the future of education in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, with calls among urban educated Afghans and the international community for equal access to education for girls and women. The madrassas — Islamic religious schools for elementary and higher learning, attended only by boys — represent another segment of Afghan society, poorer and more conservative.

And they too are uncertain what the future will hold under the Taliban.

Most of the students hail from poor families. For them, madrassas are an important institution; it is sometimes the only way for their children to get an education, and the children are also sheltered, fed and clothed. At night they lie on thin mattresses, preferring the ground over rickety bunk-beds, until sleep comes. Like most institutions in Afghanistan, madrassas have struggled in the decline of the country’s economy, which has accelerated since the Taliban takeover on Aug. 15.

The Taliban — which means “students” — originally emerged in the 1990s in part from among the students of hard-line madrassas in neighboring Pakistan. Over the past two decades, madrassas in Afghanistan have steered clear of militant ideologies, under the eye of the U.S.-backed government fighting the Taliban. Now that government is gone.

Staff at Khatamul Anbiya were cautious when asked if they hoped for greater support from the new Taliban rulers.

“Regardless, with or without the Taliban, madrassas are very important,” explained Mudaqiq. “Without them, people will forget their religious sources … The madrassa should always be there no matter what government is present. It doesn’t matter the cost, it should be kept alive.”

Historically, the Afghan government has lacked the resources to provide education in rural areas, enabling madrassas to grow in influence. The madrassa system has been kept alive largely through community-driven efforts; most of its funding comes from private sources. But with financial shortfalls as a result of U.S. sanctions and freezes from international monetary institutions, public salaries have not been paid. Madrassas are not seeing the same funding they used to.

The young boys who grow up in the madrassa system can qualify to become religious scholars and experts. The schools usually teach a conservative interpretation of Islam and have been criticized for an overreliance on rote-learning over critical thinking.

But for some, the system is just a way to get basic education and stay fed.

Between religious study the young men convene in large seating areas for a meal of bread and hot tea. Before sunset, they play marbles until it’s prayer time — the last before nightfall.

———

This story has been corrected to show the date of the Taliban takeover as August 15, not October 15.

Gunmen kill 2 Taliban, 2 civilians in eastern Afghan city

Gunmen kill 2 Taliban, 2 civilians in eastern Afghan city

A Taliban official says gunmen have shot and killed two Taliban fighters and two civilians in the eastern city of Jalalabad

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 5:19 PM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

Two other civilians were wounded in the attack, said Mohammad Hanif, a cultural official for the city’s surrounding province, Nangarhar.

No one claimed responsibility for the shooting, but the Islamic State group, which has a strong presence in Nangarhar and considers the Taliban an enemy, has previously claimed several attacks against them, including several killings in Jalalabad.

The two civilians killed were Sayed Maroof Sadat, a former spokesman for the Nangarhar department of agriculture, and his cousin, Sharif Sadat told the AP. Sadat’s son was among the two wounded, he added.

Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August, attacks by IS militants against them have increased. The rise has raised the specter of a wider conflict between the two extremist groups.

On Friday, Taliban fighters raided a hideout of the Islamic State group north of Kabul, killing and arresting an unspecified number of militants, a Taliban spokesman said. IS activity in Nangarhar province has also led to Taliban crackdowns there.

Indigenous leader to France’s Macron: Save the Amazon

Indigenous leader to France’s Macron: Save the Amazon

A Brazilian Indigenous leader is appealing to France’s president to use his sway to fight deforestation of the Amazon

By OLEG CETINIC Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 4:51 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article9:50

The indigenous people of the Brazilian Guajajara tribe are taking it upon themselves, risking life and limb, to track and apprehend illegal loggers in their ancestral land.The Associated Press

Ninawa, a leader of the Huni Kui people who uses just one name, delivered a letter on Saturday to the office of French President Emmanuel Macron. He urged the French leader to lean on the whole 27-nation European Union to limit trade linked to deforestation. His appeal also called for pressure on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to halt logging, farming and development projects that are destroying the Amazon rainforest.

In the letter, seen by The Associated Press, Ninawa says: “The current (Brazilian) administration is working to authorize or amnesty the extraction and export of timber, as forest fires devastate flora and fauna, to create fields for monocultures of soybeans and for raising cattle.

“This same administration works to legalize and institutionalize the invasion of the territories of the original peoples, considered as an obstacle to agribusiness and to what is wrongly called ‘development,’” it says.

Ninawa left his letter with a police officer at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris and got a receipt in return. There was no immediate word from Macron’s office on whether the letter would be given to the French president himself.

Speaking to the AP, Ninawa said Indigenous people are “every single day putting our lives at risk so that we can defend nature for all humankind. So it is important that each country, each citizen from each country, do their share and also become guardians of Mother Nature.”

Bolsonaro has recently tried to improve his environmental credibility, but for most of his presidency has encouraged development within the Amazon region He has dismissed global complaints about its destruction as a plot to hold back the nation’s agribusiness. His administration also has weakened environmental authorities and backed legislative measures to loosen land protections, emboldening land grabbers.

Ninawa wants European decision-makers to stop facilitating the trade of products directly linked to deforestation, such as soybeans, meat and wood. He’s in France to attend a peace conference in Normandy, on the invitation from the environmental group Planete Amazone.

Saying Indigenous leaders have been killed for resisting loggers, he noted how Macron drew worldwide attention to forest fires in the Amazon in 2019, by tweeting that “our house is burning” and calling out Bolsonaro’s policies. He also noted that France takes over the rotating EU presidency starting Jan. 1.

He lamented that the global U.N. COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, which start Oct. 31, “are not solving the problem of our planet. COP has turned into a big fair for multinational business, with governments trading our biodiversity.”

“Today we must choose between a few decimal points of France’s and Europe’s GDP, and our own lives,” he wrote.

Bolsonaro has been trying to demonstrate to U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration that he is serious about addressing climate change and curbing illegal deforestation. He’s toned down his rhetoric celebrating Amazon development and demeaning Indigenous populations.

There have been preliminary encouraging signs: the number of deforestation alerts declined year-on-year for two months straight, and the number of forest fires in the first nine months of 2021 has fallen from last year.

But Indigenous leaders and other critics question Bolsonaro’s sincerity and say it’s too early to say that recent data represents a trend.

———

AP journalist Nicolas Garriga contributed.

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Follow all AP stories on climate change at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-change.

UK extends truck driver visa program as fuel crisis persists

UK extends truck driver visa program as fuel crisis persists

The British government has extended an emergency visa program for truck drivers as fuel shortages frustrate motorists lining up at empty pumps

By PAN PYLAS Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 4:01 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressAn employee cleans fuel pumps at a closed petrol station in London, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. Many gas stations around Britain have shut down in the past five days after running out of fuel, a situation exacerbated by panic buying among some motorists. Long lines of vehicles formed at pumps that were still open, blocking roads and causing traffic chaos. Some drivers have had to endure hourslong waits to fill up. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

LONDON — The British government has extended an emergency visa program for truck drivers as fuel shortages showed few signs of abating Saturday, particularly in London and the southeast of England.

The short duration of the program announced last week drew widespread criticism for not being attractive enough to entice foreign drivers.

In another move intended to ease the pressure at Britain’s pumps, around 200 military personnel, including 100 drivers, will be deployed beginning Monday to help to relieve fuel supply shortages that have caused empty pumps and long lines at filling stations.

The government says the situation is already improving.

“U.K. forecourt stock levels are trending up, deliveries of fuel to forecourts are above normal levels, and fuel demand is stabilizing,” Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said. “It’s important to stress there is no national shortage of fuel in the U.K., and people should continue to buy fuel as normal.”

However, the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent filling stations, warned that fuel supplies remain a problem and could be getting worse in places.

“In London and the southeast, and possibly parts of eastern England, if anything, it had got worse,” the group’s chairman, Brian Madderson, told BBC radio.

Madderson welcomed the deployment of military drivers next week but warned it would have a limited impact.

“This isn’t going to be the major panacea,” he said. “It’s a large help, but in terms of the volume, they are not going to be able to carry that much.”

Opposition parties are urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to recall parliament next week to address the wider situation of labor shortages and disruptions to supply chains. In recent months, many companies have reported shortages, including fast-food chains KFC, McDonald’s and Nando’s. Supermarket shelves have also looked barren, and fears have grown that they will not be stocked as usual in the run-up to Christmas.

In an attempt to stave off a shortage of Christmas turkeys, the government also announced that 5,500 foreign poultry workers will be allowed into the U.K. beginning in late October and can stay until the end of the year.

Johnson’s pro-Brexit government is keen to downplay talk that the driver shortage is a result of Britain’s departure from the European Union.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem, prompting thousands of EU drivers to return to their home countries. The U.K.’s tough lockdowns also led to difficulties in training and testing new domestic drivers to replace those who left.

In addition, the pandemic accelerated the number of British truck drivers choosing to retire. Relatively low pay, changes in the way that truck drivers’ incomes are taxed and a paucity of facilities — toilets and showers, for example — have also diminished the job’s appeal to younger workers.

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Follow all AP stories on post-Brexit developments at https://apnews.com/hub/Brexit.

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Follow all AP stories on the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

US private equity firm wins auction for Britain’s Morrisons

US private equity firm wins auction for Britain’s Morrisons

An American private equity group has narrowly won the battle to buy British supermarket chain Morrisons following a dramatic auction for the company

By PAN PYLAS Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 3:47 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressFILE – This Aug. 22, 2021 file photo shows a store sign at a branch of Morrisons supermarket in London. An American private equity group saw off a rival to narrowly win the battle to buy British supermarket chain Morrisons following a dramatic auction for the company. Britain’s Takeover Panel said Saturday Oct. 2, 2021, that New York-based Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) offered 287 pence for each Morrisons share, just a penny more than the offer from Fortress, which is backed by Japanese bank Softbank. (Ian West/PA via AP, File)

LONDON — An American private equity group saw off a rival to narrowly win the battle to buy British supermarket chain Morrisons following a dramatic auction Saturday for the company.

Britain’s Takeover Panel said New York-based Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) offered 287 pence for each Morrisons share, just a penny more than the offer from Fortress, which is backed by Japanese bank Softbank.

The winning offer values Morrisons at almost 7 billion pounds ($9.5 billion) and will be voted on by shareholders on Oct. 19.

Morrisons is Britain’s fourth-largest food retailer, employing about 110,000 people in nearly 500 stores and over 300 gas stations.

CD&R is one of the most firmly established investors in the sector and has been advised by Terry Leahy, the former boss of Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, over the past 10 years.

It first made an approach for the supermarket in June, leading to speculation the sector was ripe for private equity takeovers. Fortress then made an offer of 6.3 billion pounds in July, revising it up to 6.7 billion a month later, which the Morrisons board accepted. Later in August, CD&R returned with an increased bid of 7 billion pounds, which led to the board withdrawing its support for the Fortress bid and throwing its weight behind the higher offer.

But because neither side made a formal bid, the Takeover Panel launched an auction process. Both sides agreed beforehand that all bids would be at a fixed cash price and could not include stakes in other businesses or dividends to shareholders.

Both sides were keen to stress they want to uphold the supermarket’s values and attempted to ward off suggestions they will start selling off vast swathes of the company’s property assets.

Private equity firms typically acquire undervalued companies and then look for ways to cut costs and boost profits before selling them at a profit. British assets are widely considered to be cheaper than they otherwise would have been as a result of Britain’s departure from the European Union and the coronavirus pandemic.

The Usdaw union, which represents many workers at Morrisons, is seeking discussions with the prospective owners over their plans.

“We have heard the assurances already given and welcome the constructive working relationship that Usdaw has experienced so far,” said Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw national officer.

Morrisons was founded in 1899 as an egg and butter stall in a market in the north England city of Bradford. It steadily expanded and became a publicly listed business in 1967. It expanded further in 2004 with the acquisition of rival Safeway, a move that grew its presence in the south of England.

The firm is now largely owned by a raft of institutional shareholders, including Silchester International, Columbia, Blackrock and Schroders.

US envoy says climate summit can yield ‘enormous progress’

US envoy says climate summit can yield ‘enormous progress’

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry says he thinks “enormous progress” can be made at upcoming U.N. climate talks in Scotland but more governments must come up with concrete commitments in the next 30 days

By COLLEEN BARRY Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 3:38 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article4:22

ABC correspondents around the world offer up-close looks at how disasters are impacting everyday life across the globe.The Associated Press

Kerry attended a preparatory meeting in Milan where delegates from around the world sought to identify where progress can be made before the U.N. climate change starts in Glasgow on Oct. 31.

The 12-day summit aims to secure more ambitious commitments to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius with a goal of keeping it to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. The event also is focused on mobilizing financing and protecting vulnerable communities and natural habitats.

“The bottom line is, folks, as we stand here today, we believe we can make enormous progress in Glasgow, moving rapidly towards the new goals that the science is telling us we must achieve,’’ Kerry said. That means achieving a 45% reduction in carbon emissions in the next 10 years.

“This is the decisive decade,’’ Kerry said.

Kerry, a former U.S. senator and secretary of state, said that countries representing 55% of the world’s gross domestic product — Britain, Canada, Japan, the United States and the 27 European Union members — have submitted plans that hit the 1.5 degrees target by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But the American diplomat also noted that the 89 new national submissions ahead of the summit would only cut emissions by 12%, and that the sum of all 191 submissions as they are currently written would increase emissions between now and 2030 by 16%.

Kerry declined to single out any country but said there are ways to achieve lower emissions that aren’t that expensive, including organizing power grids and making transmissions more efficient.

China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and the United States is second. Kerry said U.S. President Joe Biden has had “constructive” talks on the subject with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Kerry also highlighted commitments by India’s leader to install 450 gigawatts of renewable power over the next decade.

“Glasgow, my friends, is around the corner. It is the starting line of the race of centuries and the race of this decade,” he said. “All countries have to sprint and join together to understand that we are all in this together.’’

Kerry added ”This is the test of collective multilateralism to the highest level that I have seen in my public career.”

The European commissioner for climate action, Frans Timmermans, separately underlined the importance of meeting the $100 billion annual funding commitment to help vulnerable countries fight climate change during 2020-2025, as demanded by youth activists who met earlier in Milan.

Timmermans said the financing needs going forward would be much greater than that amount and that public funding alone would not be able to cover the anticipated price tag, which runs in the trillions.

Already the Earth has seen a 1 degree Celsius temperature change and unpredictable weather patterns that have destroyed harvests and killed livelihoods around the world, Timmermans said.

“So there can be no doubt in anybody’s mind that we are fighting for the survival of humanity, and that the climate crisis and the threatening ecocide are the biggest threat humanity faces,” Timmermans said. “We need to change, and we need to change radically and we need to change fast. That’s going to be bloody hard. That’s the bad news.”

Alok Sharma, Britain’s president for COP26, said “delivering on (the) $100 billion is absolutely a matter of trust.” He also said the presence of youth delegates and activists, including Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate, ahead of the climate summit preparatory meetings had energized the process.

“As we go forward of the next few weeks and into COP, we must always keep the voices of the young people foremost in our minds and think about what their response would be to the outcomes that we reach,” Sharma said.

———

Follow all AP stories on climate change at https://apnews.com/hub/Climate-change.

Ethiopia’s Oromo protest, demand freedom for jailed leaders

Ethiopia’s Oromo protest, demand freedom for jailed leaders

Members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, are protesting against the government and have called for the release of jailed opposition figures as they gathered for their annual Thanksgiving festival of Irreecha

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 2:12 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressOromos protest against the government and call for the release of prominent opposition figure Jawar Mohammed and others, during the annual Irreecha festival in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, on Saturday celebrated the annual Thanksgiving festival of Irreecha, marking the end of winter where people thank God for the blessings of the past year and wish prosperity for the coming year. (AP Photo)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, protested Saturday against the government and called for the release of jailed opposition figures as they gathered in the capital for their annual Thanksgiving festival of Irreecha.

Scores of people in the center of Addis Ababa chanted slogans such as “Down, down Abiy!” a reference to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, after performing ritual ceremonies to mark the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the harvest in Oromia state.

They also chanted support for Oromo opposition politician Jawar Mohammed, who was arrested last year following an outbreak of deadly violence sparked by the death of a popular Oromo singer. He remains behind bars along with several others, accused of terrorism. Activists claim their detention is politically motivated.

Hundreds of thousands of people attended Saturday’s celebrations, which proceeded peacefully despite the protests and amid a heavy security presence. A police spokesman would not comment on any arrests of protesters.

The Oromos have historically expressed frustration at their perceived economic and political marginalisation. Abiy is the country’s first Oromo leader, but he faces growing criticism by some Oromo that he hasn’t done enough for them.

Parts of Oromia have experienced outbreaks of violence in recent years as regional security forces battle a secessionist insurgency there. They have been accused of committing human rights abuses against civilians, including summary executions.

Ahead of last year’s celebrations, hundreds of people were arrested on suspicion of plotting attacks and causing unrest. During the festival in 2016, several dozen worshippers were killed in a crush after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at anti-government protesters.

Prominent Pakistani comedian dies on way to US for treatment

Prominent Pakistani comedian dies on way to US for treatment

One of Pakistan’s most beloved comedians, Umar Sharif, has passed away in Germany on the way to the United States for treatment on Saturday

By ADIL JAWAD Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 1:55 PM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

KARACHI, Pakistan — One of Pakistan’s most beloved comedians, Umar Sharif, passed away in Germany on the way to the United States for treatment on Saturday, his son said. He was 66.

Sharif, known for his satire, stand-up and live performances, was suffering from heart and kidney illness, Jawad Umar told The Associated Press. Doctors had advised him to travel to the U.S. for treatment, and he was headed to Virginia when his condition deteriorated on the plane.

The flight diverted to Germany on Tuesday and he was treated in a Nuremburg hospital. He died briefly before a planned departure Saturday, his son said. Sharif’s second wife was with him during the journey, and he left behind two sons.

Born on April 19, 1955 in Karachi, Sharif began his career as comedian on stage, but also performed in films and television dramas in the Urdu language.

Pakistan’s show business industry and politicians took to social media to express condolences ahead of the funeral in Pakistan.

NATO troops patrol Kosovo-Serbia border after truck blockade

NATO troops patrol Kosovo-Serbia border after truck blockade

Soldiers with a NATO-led peacekeeping mission are keeping watch at the Kosovo-Serbia border after the two countries reached a deal to deescalate a dispute over vehicle license plates

By FLORENT BAJRAMI and LLAZAR SEMINI Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 1:42 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressPolish soldiers, part of the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo KFOR, pass through barricades as they patrol near the northern Kosovo border crossing of Jarinje, along the Kosovo-Serbia border, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. A NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo took over the area near two Kosovo-Serbia border crossings following the deal reached by the two countries to deescalate tensions triggered by a dispute over vehicle license plates. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

JARINJE, Kosovo — Soldiers with a NATO-led peacekeeping mission are keeping watch at the Kosovo-Serbia border after the two countries reached a deal to deescalate tensions triggered by a dispute over vehicle license plates.

Kosovar special police forces also pulled back from the border, where they were deployed two weeks ago to remove the license plates from entering cars and to replace them with temporary registration in Kosovo.

The government in Pristina said they were replicating what Serbia had done to Kosovar motorists for a decade. Kosovo was a Serbian province before it declared independence in 2008, and Serbian troops and ethnic Albanian separatists fought a bloody war in Kosovo during the 1990s.

European Union mediator Miroslav Lajcak persuaded representatives from the neighboring Balkan nations this week to let the Kosovo Force (KFOR) troops take over the areas for the next 14 days.

“As from this weekend and for the next two weeks, KFOR will maintain a temporary robust and agile presence in the area,” a statement from the NATO mission said.

As part of the agreement, both countries will put stickers over the other’s name and emblem on license plates of vehicles entering their territory.

KFOR, made up of around 4,000 troops from 28 countries, is led by NATO with support from the United Nations, the European Union and others. Its aim is to stave off lingering ethnic tensions between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority and minority ethnic Serbs.

The United States and most of the West recognize Kosovo’s independence, but, Serbia, supported by its allies Russia and China, does not.

EU-facilitated negotiations to normalize relations between Pristina and Belgrade started in 2011 and have produced more than 30 agreements, which are either observed poorly or not at all.

——-

Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.

Libya’s migrant roundup reaches 4,000 amid major crackdown

Libya’s migrant roundup reaches 4,000 amid major crackdown

Officials say a major crackdown in western Libya has resulted in the detention of 4,000 migrants, including hundreds of women and children

By SAMY MAGDY Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 12:12 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressMigrants pray on the deck of the Geo Barents, a rescue vessel operated by MSF (Doctors Without Borders) off Libya, in the central Mediterranean route, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ahmed Hatem)

CAIRO — A major crackdown in western Libya resulted in the detention of 4,000 migrants, including hundreds of women and children, officials said Saturday.

The raids took place Friday in the western town of Gargaresh as part of what authorities described as a security campaign against illegal migration and drug trafficking. The Interior Ministry, which led the crackdown, made no mention of any traffickers or smugglers being arrested.

Officials said Friday that 500 illegal migrants had been detained but on Saturday reported that number had reached 4,000.

Since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, hoping for a better life in Europe. Human traffickers have benefited from the chaos in the oil-rich nation and smuggled migrants through the country’s lengthy border with six nations. They then pack desperate migrants into ill-equipped rubber boats in risky voyages through the perilous Central Mediterranean Sea route.

The detained were gathered in a facility in Tripoli called the Collection and Return Center, said police Col. Nouri al-Grettli, head of the center.

He said the migrants have been distributed to detention centers in Tripoli and surrounding towns. Libya’s detention facilities are miserable places where migrants have suffered from abuses and severe ill-treatment, according to rights activists.

A government official said authorities would “deport as many as possible” of the migrants to their home countries. He said many of the detained had lived illegally in Libya for years. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

Tarik Lamloum, a Libyan activist working with the Belaady Organization for Human Rights, said the raids involved human rights violations against the migrants, especially in the way some women and children were detained. He did not elaborate.

Lamloum said many detained migrants have been registered with the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, as refugees or asylum-seekers. The UNHCR did not immediate respond to a request for comment.

Hundreds of migrants were seen in images posted on social media Friday by the Interior Ministry sitting clustered together in a yard with the banner of the Collection and Return Center in the background.

Other images from Gargaresh purporting to show migrants show them with their hands tied behind their backs. An aerial photo showed men lying face down on the ground at a crossroads, with military trucks and guards around them.

Car falls into river amid heavy rains in Pakistan killing 7

Car falls into river amid heavy rains in Pakistan killing 7

Police say a family of seven, including two children, died when their car fell into a river amid heavy rains in the suburbs of Pakistan’s capital

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 12:08 PM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

ISLAMABAD — A family of seven, including two children, died when their car fell into a river amid heavy rains in the suburbs of Pakistan’s capital early Saturday, police said.

Officer Ali Raza said the family was returning home after attending a wedding ceremony in a nearby village. He said the driver apparently failed to realize he was driving off the road and the car fell into the water after hitting a fence on a small bridge spanning the river.

Raza said the car sank in the river’s waters and people only saw it in the morning when the water receded. The victims included four women, two children and a man.

Recent monsoon rains in much of Pakistan have made some roads dangerous. Many of the country’s roads lack safety signs and motorists largely ignore safety regulations.

German Greens leadership steel party for government

German Greens leadership steel party for government

The leaders of Germany’s environmentalist Green party are urging their members to seize the chance to join the country’s next government

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 11:40 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressAnnalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, federal leaders of the Greens party arrive for a party convention in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Focus of the small party conference is the evaluation of the federal election and the formation of a government. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

BERLIN — The leaders of Germany’s environmentalist Green party urged their members Saturday to seize the chance to join the country’s next government so they can help tackle the challenge of climate change.

A coalition between the Greens, the Free Democrats and outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc is also possible, but currently regarded as less likely. Merkel’s party placed second in the parliamentary election with 24.1% of the vote, its worst-ever result.

One hitch for either coalition is the left-leaning Greens’ long-standing animosity toward the Free Democrats’ free-market ideology. Some commentators have described an alliance of the two parties as one between hippies and yuppies.

Robert Habeck, co-leader of the Greens, sought to sweep away delegates’ concerns Saturday at a post-election congress in Berlin. Habeck told them that alliances should be possible even between parties that don’t “think the same, feel the same, eat the same and sing the same songs.”

He acknowledged that debates in the coming months would strain the Greens but insisted it was worth the effort if the party ends up with a share of power.

“If we don’t act in a really dumb way, then we won’t just help carry the government in the next four years but have a decisive say in it,” said Habeck.

Annalena Baerbock, who ran as the Greens’ first candidate for chancellor in the Sept. 26 election, urged the party to be disciplined if its wants to join a government for the second time after its first stint with the Social Democrats from 1998 to 2005.

Back in 1998, the party was a “small partner” with a share of just 6.7% of the vote, she said. This time, Baerbock continued, the Greens are in a better position and will aim to “renew society” and help put Europe on course to become the first climate-neutral continent.

Germany’s four leading parties plan to hold a flurry of bilateral meetings over the weekend to sound out their respective positions before deciding which potential partners they want to begin formal coalition talks with.

AP PHOTOS: In Kenya, ex-accountant now protects sea turtles

AP PHOTOS: In Kenya, ex-accountant now protects sea turtles

Kenya has five species of sea turtles

By BRIAN INGANGA Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 11:25 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article3:17

Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press

WATAMU, Kenya — As soon as he gets a call from a fisherman who’s accidentally caught a turtle off Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastline, Local Ocean Conservation’s Fikiri Kiponda jumps into his car to save it.

The work is far removed from the 44-year-old’s previous career as an accountant. He now dedicates himself to protecting endangered turtles that face multiple threats — from pollution to being sold for food, traditional medicinal purposes or the making of jewelry.

When Kiponda gets a call for help, he hurries to check the turtle for injuries that need to be treated in the organization’s rehabilitation center. Then it is released back into Watamu National Marine Park.

“The moment I tag a healthy turtle and release it back to the ocean where it is supposed to be, the feeling is just overwhelming,” he said.

Kenya has five species of sea turtles. All are internationally recognized as endangered, and protected under local law with a penalty of life imprisonment.

Local Ocean Conservation works on grassroots solutions with local communities. Kiponda and others regularly visit to speak about the importance of a healthy ocean to livelihoods.

Over 350 fishermen in Watamu have collaborated with the group for years. Previously, when they caught turtles in their nets, they often would kill them for food, traditional medicinal purposes or to keep their shells as trophies.

The ingestion of plastics in the ocean remains another threat to the turtles, causing internal blockages that can be fatal.

Officials say Libya’s migrant roundup reaches 4,000 amid major crackdown

Officials say Libya’s migrant roundup reaches 4,000 amid major crackdown

Officials say Libya’s migrant roundup reaches 4,000 amid major crackdown

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 10:45 AM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

CAIRO — Officials say Libya’s migrant roundup reaches 4,000 amid major crackdown.

China investigates ex-official who led major corruption case

China investigates ex-official who led major corruption case

A former Chinese justice minister has become a target of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 7:58 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article3:17

Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.ABCNews.com

BEIJING — A former Chinese justice minister has become a target of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.

Fu Zhenghua, who was also a former vice minister of public security, is under investigation for severe violations of party discipline and law, the ruling Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Saturday. It did not provide any details in a one-sentence statement posted online.

It’s unclear why Fu, 66, would become a target of the campaign. He was the longtime head of public security for Beijing and vice minister of public security from 2013 to 2018. He then served as justice minister from 2018 to 2020.

When he was vice minister for public security, Fu led the probe of Zhou Yongkang, one of the most senior officials convicted in the anti-corruption campaign. Zhou, a former public security minster, was one of nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the Communist Party’s top body, under Xi’s predecessor, President Hu Jintao.

Zhou was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 on charges of taking bribes, abusing power and leaking state secrets.

Xi has been accused of using the anti-corruption drive to drive out political adversaries, and Zhou’s downfall was seen as burying a once-powerful faction in the Communist Party.

The announcement of the investigation into Fu comes two days after the party’s discipline commission said it had expelled another former vice minister of public security, Sun Lijun, citing accusations of corruption and abandoning his post during the COVID-19 outbreak.

IS claims responsibility for gunning down Sikh in Pakistan

IS claims responsibility for gunning down Sikh in Pakistan

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for killing a member of Pakistan’s minority Sikh community earlier in the week in the northwestern city of Peshawar

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 7:52 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

ISLAMABAD — The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for killing a member of Pakistan’s minority Sikh community earlier in the week in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

An IS statement issued late Friday described Satnam Singh, 45, as “polytheist” and said he was shot dead by IS members.

Pakistani officials have denied any organized IS presence in the country but the extremist group has claimed a number of attacks on security forces, mosques, political rallies and religious minorities in recent years.

Police said Singh was gunned down Thursday in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. The gunmen fled the scene.

Singh, an herbalist, had lived in the city for the past 20 years and ran a small clinic selling herbal medicine.

The assailants opened fire at Singh inside the clinic, according to Sardar Harpal Singh, a local community leader. He denounced the incident and demanded the arrest of those involved in the killing. The two are not related.

The majority of Sikhs migrated from what is now Pakistan to neighboring India in 1947, the year British rule of the subcontinent ended and Pakistan was created as a homeland for Muslims in the region. Thousands of them stayed in Pakistan, where they generally live peacefully. But isolated attacks on religious minorities including Sikhs have continued.

Police: Air ambulance crashes in UAE, killing 4

Police: Air ambulance crashes in UAE, killing 4

An Abu Dhabi air ambulance flown by the emirate’s police has crashed, killing four people

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 7:49 AM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article3:17

Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.ABCNews.com

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Abu Dhabi air ambulance flown by the emirate’s police crashed Saturday, killing four people.

The Abu Dhabi police gave no details on the location or cause of the crash.

Police said the dead included two pilots, a civilian doctor and a nurse.

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces he is retiring from politics, backs out of election

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces he is retiring from politics, backs out of election

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces he is retiring from politics, backs out of election

ByThe Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 7:48 AM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

N Korea says it fired anti-aircraft missile, 4th recent test

N Korea says it fired anti-aircraft missile, 4th recent test

North Korea says it has test-fired a new anti-aircraft missile

By HYUNG-JIN KIM Associated PressOctober 2, 2021, 4:06 AM• 5 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article3:17

Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Friday it test-fired a new anti-aircraft missile, its fourth weapons launch in recent weeks, which experts say is part of a strategy to receive relief from economic sanctions and win other concessions.

South Korea, Japan and the United States typically publicly confirm North Korean ballistic missile launches, which are banned by U.N. resolutions, soon after they occur. But they did not do so for Thursday’s launch, indicating the weapon tested may have been a different kind. Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday that South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities monitored moves by North Korea but didn’t elaborate.

Three weeks ago, North Korea resumed missile tests after a six-month lull. As it has sometimes done before, North Korea combined the show of force with a more conciliatory gesture, offering earlier this week to reactivate hotlines that North and South Korea use to set up meetings, arrange border crossings and avoid accidental clashes.

On Friday, the North’s Korean Central News Agency said the anti-aircraft missile test was “of very practical significance in studying and developing various prospective anti-aircraft missile system.”

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the launch appears to be the primitive stage of a test to develop a missile designed to shoot down incoming enemy missiles and aircraft. He said the missile resembles the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, which he said has a maximum range of 400 kilometers (250 miles) and is reportedly capable of intercepting stealth jets.

The U.N. Security Council received a briefing on the recent launches and the humanitarian and COVID-19 situations in North Korea at an emergency closed-door meeting Friday but took no action.

France later circulated a proposed statement that the diplomats said expresses concern over the missile launches and calls on North Korea to fully implement U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban its ballistic missile firings. But Russia and China didn’t consider a council statement timely, the diplomats said, so its approval remains uncertain.

Earlier this week, in his government’s latest mixed signal, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un expressed his willingness to restore the communication hotlines with South Korea in the coming days, but he also shrugged off U.S. offers for dialogue as a “cunning” concealment of its hostility against North Korea. He also insisted that South Korea abandon its “double-dealing attitude” if it wants to see an improvement in Korean relations. His comments largely echoed demands from his powerful sister Kim Yo Jong, who has taken the lead in the North’s ongoing pressure campaign.

South Korea has said it would prepare for the restoration of the cross-border phone and fax lines, which have been largely dormant for more than a year. But as of Friday afternoon, North Korea remained unresponsive to South Korea’s attempt to exchange messages through the channels, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North.

During an Armed Forces Day ceremony on Friday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in vowed to repel any attempt to threaten his people’s lives and strive to achieve lasting peace. He didn’t mention North Korea’s recent tests in a possible effort to keep alive the possibility of talks between the Koreas.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that U.S. officials were still assessing the most recent missile launch. She said Biden administration officials have made efforts to reach out to North Korea to spur talks but have not received a response.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Thursday that Washington “certainly supports” inter-Korean dialogue in principle. But he said the U.S. was concerned about North Korea’s recent launches, which he noted were in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and created “greater prospects for instability and insecurity.”

Among the weapons North Korea tested in September were a hypersonic missile, a newly developed cruise missile and a ballistic missile launched from a train. South Korea’s military assessed the hypersonic missile to be at an early stage of development, but experts say the other weapons displayed North Korea’s ability to attack targets in South Korea and Japan, key U.S. allies that host American troops. Earlier this week, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said its commitment to the defense of South Korea and Japan “remains ironclad.”

North Korea has not tested a long-range missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland for about four years — what experts see as an indication it is carefully calibrating its provocations to keep alive its chances for diplomacy.

———

This article corrects that it is a U.S. and U.K. deal to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, not U.S. and U.N.

———

Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard agrees to US extradition

Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard agrees to US extradition

On the same day former Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard agreed to be extradited to the United States to face a charge of sex trafficking, police in Toronto announced their own charges

ByThe Associated PressOctober 1, 2021, 9:14 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — On the same day former Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard agreed to be extradited to the United States to face a charge of sex trafficking, police in Toronto announced their own charges.

The charges were announced Friday as Nygard was in a Winnipeg court for an extradition hearing related to the U.S. charges that allege he sexually abused women and girls he lured with promises of opportunities in fashion and modeling over the last 25 years.

“Mr. Nygard denies any allegations of criminal conduct,″ his lawyer Brian Greenspan said outside the courthouse.

Earlier, Nygard appeared via videolink and consented to his extradition.

He was arrested in Winnipeg last year under the Extradition Act and faces nine counts in the Southern District of New York.

The extradition request from the U.S. details accounts from seven alleged victims who are expected to testify in a criminal trial in that country that their livelihoods and movements became dependent on having sex with Nygard.

Nygard has denied all allegations. He consented only to be extradited on the charge of sex trafficking.

His lawyers said Nygard is looking forward to addressing the allegations against him in the U.S.

“The only place you can be vindicated is in a trial,″ said Greenspan.

Canada’s justice minister will have to choose whether Nygard faces charges in Canada first, or if a condition of the extradition is that he will be returned after the U.S. trial, Greenspan said.

Nygard’s lawyers said they expect the extradition to be completed by the end of the year.

Court has heard that Nygard is kept alone in a cell meant for three prisoners at Headingley Correction Centre outside Winnipeg. There is a television and phone in the cell and he has access to a diet for diabetics.

Nygard applied for bail in January, but it was denied by a judge who cited concerns that Nygard would contact witnesses if released. Nygard appealed that decision and was again denied release in March.

Justice Jennifer Pfuetzner of the Manitoba Court of Appeal said at that time that Nygard’s detention was necessary to maintain confidence in the justice system, given the enormity of the allegations. She said the allegations “paint a picture of criminal conduct that was planned, financed and executed on a staggering scale.”

The Supreme Court of Canada denied Nygard’s request to challenge the two lower court decisions.

He is also the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. involving 57 women with similar allegations.

Nygard founded his fashion company in Winnipeg in 1967. It grew from a partial stake in a women’s garment manufacturer to a brand name sold in stores around the world.

He stepped down as chairman of his company after the FBI and police raided his offices in New York City in February 2020.

Nygard International has since filed for bankruptcy.

US official in Haiti apologizes for treatment of migrants

US official in Haiti apologizes for treatment of migrants

A top U.S. official has apologized for how Haitian migrants were treated along the U.S.-Mexico border, saying it’s not how border officials or the Department of Homeland Security behave

By EVENS SANON Associated PressOctober 1, 2021, 8:28 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe Associated PressAssistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols and U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Michele Sison, arrive for a press conference at the U.S. Embassy, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The U.S. officials, who arrived in Haiti on Thursday, have meetings planned with Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Foreign Minister Claude Joseph to discuss future elections, migration, security and US support. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

The comments from Juan Gonzalez, the U.S. National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere, came during a two-day official visit to Haiti to talk with local leaders about migration and other issues.

“I want to say that it was an injustice, that it was wrong,” he said. “The proud people of Haiti and any migrant deserve to be treated with dignity.”

The U.S. government recently came under fire for its treatment of Haitian migrants, with images showing men on horseback, corralling Haitian asylum seekers.

Gonzalez was visiting with Brian Nichols, U.S. assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, amid ongoing expulsions of Haitians from the U.S. to their homeland. Since Sept. 19, the U.S. has expelled some 4,600 Haitian migrants from Del Rio, Texas on 43 flights, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

“The danger is too great,” he said.

Gonzalez and Nichols previously met with Haitian Americans and Cuban Americans in Miami on Wednesday and with Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, members of the civil society and political leaders in Haiti on Thursday to talk about migration, public safety, the pandemic and efforts to help those affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the country’s southern region in mid-August.

Nichols said that during their visit, they heard many people talk about the challenges that Haiti faces, noting that there’s a “surprising” amount of agreement on potential solutions.

“There is no solution that will work for Haiti and its people that will be imposed from the outside,” he said, referring to recent criticism about the involvement of the U.S. and other countries in Haitian affairs as it tries to recover from the earthquake and from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse at his private home. “However, we in the United States are committed to providing the Haitian people the support they need to succeed and implement their own vision.”

Nichols said the conversation with the prime minister was constructive, adding that the U.S. is encouraging consensus and a holistic vision.

“The future of Haiti depends on its own people,” he said. “The United States is committed to working with the people of Haiti to support as they work to bring prosperity and security back to their country.”

Nichols said a technical team from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement will visit next week as Haiti struggles with a spike in gang-related violence, with the bureau’s assistant secretary visiting in upcoming weeks. He said later this month, the undersecretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights will visit with other senior officials to talk about police and security issues.

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Russia lists topics that other states shouldn’t know about

Russia lists topics that other states shouldn’t know about

Russia’s main domestic security agency has released an extensive list of topics that could trigger the designation of “foreign agent” for someone who provides information about them to other countries even though they are not state secrets

ByThe Associated PressOctober 1, 2021, 8:03 PM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

MOSCOW — Russia’s main domestic security agency has released an extensive list of topics that could trigger the designation of “foreign agent” for someone who provides information about them to other countries even though they are not state secrets.

An order by the Federal Security Service released Friday on a government information portal lists an array of topics connected to the military and space programs, including morale in the armed forces. It says such information if provided to foreign governments, institutions or individuals could be used against Russia’s security.

Compiling such a list was called for in an amended version of the law that also provides for organizations receiving foreign funding to be classified as foreign agents. That designation has been applied to some civil organizations and media that are critical of the authorities.

The head of the state sovereignty protection committee in the upper house of parliament, Andrei Klimov, said that “these provisions of the law have nothing to do with freedom of speech.”

“We are talking about the constant, systematic collection of information for transmission to a foreign state or foreign structures,” he added.

El Salvador police arrest 30 in child pornography case

El Salvador police arrest 30 in child pornography case

Police in El Salvador have arrested 30 suspects who allegedly shared child pornography photos on the messaging platform WhatsApp

ByThe Associated PressOctober 1, 2021, 7:59 PM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

An inspection of the suspects’ phones revealed sexual images of children, adolescents and disabled people.

Henri Gutiérrez, the head prosecutor for the township of Zaragoza, said the investigation started in 2018. Gutiérrez said the search extended across much of the country and netted two ringleaders who allegedly used WhatsApp accounts registered to Mexican numbers to share the images.

Mexico asks Israel for extradition in missing students case

Mexico asks Israel for extradition in missing students case

Mexico’s president has revealed he sent a letter to the Israeli government asking for the extradition of a former top security official, Tomás Zerón

ByThe Associated PressOctober 1, 2021, 7:47 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s president has revealed he sent a letter to the Israeli government asking for the extradition of a former top security official, Tomás Zerón.

Zerón fled to Israel in August 2019, where he may have connections to an Israeli firm that sold the Mexican government spyware during his time in office.

The students from a radical teachers’ college were abducted by local police in southern Guerrero state who presumably killed them and burned their bodies.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador showed a copy of a letter he sent in September to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, asking him for help.

“I write you to ask for your valuable attention on this extradition process, which is a priority for our country,” the letter reads.

Despite reports that Israel had expressed disinterest in extraditing Zerón, Israel’s Ambassador to Mexico, Zvi Tal, wrote in July that the process was moving forward.

“Israel does not take political considerations into account in extradition proceedings,” Tal wrote. “The goal of the dialogue between the respective Israeli and Mexican authorities is to ensure that the extradition request is properly submitted and considered. There has been no delay on the part of Israel.”

Zerón oversaw the criminal investigation agency of the Attorney General’s Office and also its forensic work in the 2014 case. Most of the students’ bodies have never been found, though burned bone fragments have been matched to three students.

Zerón’s investigation had long been criticized by the families of the 43 students who disappeared in September 2014 after they were detained by local police in Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero. They were allegedly handed over to a drug gang and slain, and have not been heard from since.

Zerón was at the center of the government’s widely criticized investigation, which has failed to definitively determine what happened to the students. Two independent teams of experts have cast doubt on the insistence of Mexican officials that the students bodies were incinerated in a huge fire at a trash dump.

Many of the suspects arrested in the case were later released, and many claimed they had been tortured by police or the military.

The supposition is that Zerón and others tortured witnesses, illegally detained suspects and mishandled evidence to try to bring the investigation to a quick conclusion or cover up what really happened.