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AP PHOTOS: 10 days on the Turkish border with Syria
Sat, October 19, 2019 03:59 EDT
CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s 10-day incursion into Syria, aiming to rid the border area of Kurdish fighters, caused deaths and destruction on both sides and sent tens of thousands of civilians fleeing their homes.
As Turkish and Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces battled the Kurdish-led fighters, Associated Press photographers worked to get images out to the world despite obstacles including disruption of communications networks, hostility to international media and sporadic shelling.
They provided powerful visual coverage of the military buildup on the Turkish side of the border, early scenes of troops crossing into Syria and the chaotic scene of a mortar attack in the Turkish town of Akcakale.
Elsewhere, AP pictures showed the reality for families forced to flee the region, the funerals of civilians killed by shelling and children witnessing fighting close to their homes.
According to the Kurdish Red Crescent, 44 civilians were killed and 171 wounded since the attack began on Oct. 9. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human puts the death toll higher, saying 86 people have been killed, including 21 children. Turkey says a total of 20 civilians were killed by shelling inside Turkey, while six Turkish soldiers and 74 Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters were killed in the fighting.
An agreement was reached Thursday night to halt the fighting for five days, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that unless Kurdish-led fighters withdraw “without exception” from a zone 30 kilometers (20 miles) deep in Syria running the entire 440-kilometer (260-mile) length of the border, Turkish forces will resume fighting on Tuesday.
There has been no immediate sign of any pullout by the Kurdish-led forces, who say the deal covers a smaller section of the border, about 125 kilometers (75 miles) and that they haven’t committed to a pullout.
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The Latest: UK minister: No-deal Brexit preparations gear up
Sun, October 20, 2019 08:30 EDT
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s impending departure from the European Union (all times local):
The British minister in charge of Brexit preparations says contingency plans are being “triggered” to cope with the disruptions expected if the country crashes out of the European Union without a divorce deal.
Michael Gove tells Sky News that “we are preparing to ensure that, if no extension is granted, we have done everything possible in order to prepare to leave without a deal.”
His comments Sunday come after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reluctantly asked for an extension to Britain’s scheduled Oct. 31 departure from the EU.
Gove’s move could be designed to pressure British lawmakers into supporting Johnson’s Brexit deal.
The U.K. government warned earlier this year that in a worst-case scenario, a no-deal Brexit could lead to disruptions including long traffic jams at ports, shortages of food and medicines and problems for travelers.
The prime minister of Finland, whose country holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, says “it makes sense to allow extra time” for London to deal with the negotiated Brexit agreement to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union late Saturday seeking a delay to Britain’s impending Oct. 31 departure from the bloc, as required by British law, to Jan. 31, 2020. But he followed it with a signed letter indicating that he does not favor another Brexit extension, which he says would be against the interests of EU and British citizens as well as businesses.
Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne says Sunday that “Finland, along with other EU nations, attaches great importance to the approval of the departure agreement negotiated with Britain.”
Rinne said the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, will talk with the EU’s 27 leaders about the British request to delay Brexit.
The opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman has re-emphasized his party’s support for a second referendum on Britain’s divorce deal with the European Union.
Keir Starmer told the BBC on Sunday that “whatever deal gets through, it should be subject to a referendum.”
His comments come a day after Parliament forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek an extension to the Oct. 31 deadline for Britain to leave the EU. That came after the postponement Saturday of a vote on Johnson’s Brexit deal, which he agreed on with EU leaders on Thursday.
Starmer says what Labour is seeking now is that “this deal in particular but any deal is put up against remain in a referendum.”
Hundreds of thousands of people marched through London on Saturday demanding a “people’s vote” on Brexit.
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has met with EU ambassadors to discuss the consequences of the letter sent by British Prime minister Boris Johnson asking for a Brexit extension.
Asked Sunday after the meeting in Brussels whether EU leaders would be open to granting a new Brexit delay, Barnier just said EU Council President Donald Tusk would hold consultations “in the next days.”
Barnier said it was “a very short and normal meeting” to “launch the next steps of the EU ratification of the agreement.”
Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union late Saturday seeking a delay to Britain’s impending Oct. 31 departure from the bloc, as required by British law. But he followed it with a signed letter indicating that he does not favor another Brexit extension.
Johnson very much wants Britain to leave the bloc on Oct. 31 but British lawmakers have not yet voted on his new Brexit plan.
A German minister is calling on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek a cross-party solution to the Brexit standoff and says he wouldn’t have a problem with delaying Britain’s departure from the European Union for a few weeks.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, was Quote: d Sunday as telling German daily Bild that “a good and orderly solution is still possible if Boris Johnson now reaches out to Parliament and seeks a cross-party solution.”
He says Britain’s continued political “power poker” game over Brexit endangers jobs and prosperity, and “if an extension by a few weeks is necessary, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.”
The European Union has not yet responded to Johnson’s grudging request late Saturday to extend the looming Oct. 31 deadline for Britain to leave the bloc.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a legal challenge from opponents over his Brexit plan.
Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union late Saturday seeking a delay to Britain’s impending departure from the bloc, as required by law. But he followed it with a signed letter indicating that he does not favor another Brexit extension.
EU officials have not responded to the request and say consultations are underway.
Opponents feel that sending the second letter was done specifically to frustrate the will of Parliament, which has not approved Johnson’s Brexit plan but does want a Brexit deal.
The Court of Session in Scotland is already considering the matter, and it may end up being decided in the British Supreme Court, which in September ruled that Johnson had acted unlawfully when he suspended Parliament for five weeks as the Brexit deadline crept closer.
Scottish National Party legislator Joanna Cherry said the legal battle over Brexit resumes Monday to see “if the prime minister has flouted the law and the promises he gave to the court.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pressing ahead to try to win parliamentary backing for his new Brexit deal even as the European Union considers his grudging request to extend the looming Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.
Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the EU late Saturday seeking a delay to Britain’s impending departure from the bloc, as required by law. But he followed it with a signed letter indicating that he does not favor another Brexit extension.
EU officials have not responded to the request and say consultations are underway. The formal granting or denial of an extension by the bloc may not be made until the Brexit deadline is just a few days away, but most signs indicate the EU would prefer an extension to an abrupt U.K. departure from the bloc without a deal in place.
Johnson has been determined to take the country out of the 28-nation bloc on Oct. 31, but lawmakers are trying to avoid a no-deal Brexit, which economists say would wreak damage on the U.K. economy.
Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
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Bolivians pick between Evo Morales and change in tight vote
By PAOLA FLORES and CARLOS VALDEZ | Sun, October 20, 2019 08:39 EDT
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — South America’s longest-serving leader was seeking an unprecedented fourth term in Bolivian elections on Sunday, but polls suggested Evo Morales is in the tightest race of his career.
The 59-year-old leftist, who cast his vote shortly after polls opened, was favored to win the first round vote, but he was likely to be forced into a December runoff where he could be vulnerable to a united opposition.
The son of impoverished Aymara shepherds, Morales came to prominence leading social protests and won election as Bolivia’s first indigenous president in 2006.
He allied himself with a leftist bloc of Latin American leaders and used revenues from the Andean country’s natural gas and minerals to redistribute wealth among the masses and lift millions out of poverty in the region’s poorest country. The economy has grown by an annual average of about 4.5%, well above the regional average.
The son of Aymara Indian shepherds has also been credited for battling racial inequalities.
Many Bolivians, such as Celestino Aguirre, a 64-year-old vendor, still identify with Morales, saying people shouldn’t criticize him so much. “It’s not against Evo, it’s against me, against the poor people, against the humble.”
But Morales also has faced growing dissatisfaction even among his indigenous supporters. Some are frustrated by corruption scandals linked to his administration — though not Morales himself — and many by his refusal to accept a referendum on limiting presidential terms. While Bolivians voted to maintain term limits in 2016, the country’s top court — seen by critics as friendly to the president — ruled that limits would violate Morales’ political rights as a citizen.
“I’m thinking of a real change because I think that Evo Morales has done what he had to do and should leave by the front door,” said Nicolás Choque, a 27-year-old car washer.
Mauricio Parra, 40, who administers a building in downtown La Paz, said he voted for Morales in 2006 as a reaction against previous center-right governments.
“He did very well those four years. … (But) in his second term there were problems of corruption, drug trafficking, nepotism and other strange things” that led Parra to vote against repealing term limits in the 2016 referendum. “He hasn’t respected that. That is the principle reason that I’m not going to vote for Evo Morales.”
He said he was backing Morales’ closest rival, former President Carlos Mesa, a 66-year-old journalist and historian who, as vice president, rose to the nation’s top post when his predecessor resigned in 2003 amid widespread protests. He then stepped aside himself in 2005 amid renewed demonstrations led by Morales, who was then leader of the coca growers’ union.
An Oct. 4-6 poll by the San Andres Higher University and other institutions showed Morales apparently leading Mesa, 32% to 27% heading into the first round of voting, with the rest split among other candidates.
That would set up a runoff, and the poll showed Morales and Mesa practically tied at just under 36% each in a two-way race — with the rest of those surveyed saying they were undecided, would cast a null ballot or declining to state a preference. The poll surveyed 14,420 people and the margin of error was 2.82 percentage points.
Bolivians will also elect all of the 166 congressional seats. Polls project that no party would have a majority in Congress, which could lead to an impasse for the upcoming administration.
EarthLink – News
After delay, New Orleans to demolish cranes at hotel site
By REBECCA SANTANA | Sun, October 20, 2019 01:27 EDT
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — After two days of delays, New Orleans officials are hoping to use a series of controlled explosions Sunday to take down two cranes that have been leaning precariously over the remains of a partially collapsed hotel.
Officials had originally planned to topple the cranes Friday, then pushed back the demolition to Saturday and then to Sunday when officials said the cranes were more damaged than previously thought. Workers have been going up in a basket to place explosives on the crane and assess the situation.
“As they got up and got closer they found out some things about it that have changed the way they are going to take it down … and that’s going to take a little longer for them to accomplish,” he said. “The cranes are more damaged than they thought.”
The demolition will take place no earlier than noon Sunday.
The Hard Rock Hotel under construction at the edge of the historic French Quarter partially collapsed on Oct. 12, killing three workers and sending debris into the street. Clouds of dust billowed up as workers inside ran from the building that day.
While the rest of the building will also have to be dealt with, the cranes — one around 270 feet (82 meters) high, the other about 300 feet (91 meters) — have been the more immediate point of concern. Experts, including engineers who worked on demolitions following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, were called in to try to come up with a plan to clear the site and prevent the cranes falling on their own, at risk of further injury and damage.
On Thursday, officials announced plans to attach explosives to the cranes. If the plans succeed, the towers will drop vertically and spare nearby buildings such as the Saenger Theatre and the New Orleans Athletic Club, both built in the 1920s, and a key gas line that runs under the street.
“We’ve told you that this is a very dangerous building. The cranes are still in a precarious situation,” McConnell said.
McConnell said at least one of the cranes on Saturday was leaning more than the day before.
“It shifted and didn’t come back, which tells me it’s weakening,” he said.
Two bodies remain in the hotel’s unstable wreckage and Mayor LaToya Cantrell said recovering the remains would be a priority once the cranes are down.
Officials said Saturday that they would give residents who needed to evacuate four hours’ notice ahead of Sunday’s planned demolition. They will also have a wider exclusion zone in which people must remain indoors.
Officials have repeatedly stressed that fluidity of the situation and that they are adjusting as necessary, depending on the information they are getting from experts on the scene.
On Saturday, workers suspended in a basket held by a crane could be seen high over the wreckage, working on the cranes. Down below, streets in one of the busiest parts of town were closed off and tents were set up in the center of Canal Street, where the city’s famous red streetcars usually roll back and forth.
Tourists, employees and residents milled about taking photos, but officials stressed that they do not want people approaching the site to watch the demolition.
“We prefer people to not be out here when this thing happens,” McConnell said. “It’s a dangerous operation.”
The cause of the collapse remains unknown. Cantrell and McConnell said evidence gathering began soon after the collapse, and lawsuits have already been filed against the project’s owners and contractors.
EarthLink – News
Nestor heads into Georgia after tornados damage Florida
By BRENDAN FARRINGTON and TERRY SPENCER | Sat, October 19, 2019 09:22 EDT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Nestor raced across Georgia as a post-tropical cyclone late Saturday, hours after the former tropical storm spawned a tornado that damaged homes and a school in central Florida while sparing areas of the Florida Panhandle devastated one year earlier by Hurricane Michael.
The storm made landfall Saturday on St. Vincent Island, a nature preserve off Florida’s northern Gulf Coast in a lightly populated area of the state, the National Hurricane Center said.
Nestor was expected to bring 1 to 3 inches of rain to drought-stricken inland areas on its march across a swath of the U.S. Southeast. Forecasters said it also was raising an overnight threat of severe weather in the Carolinas as it continued to speed toward the Atlantic Ocean.
While all tropical storm and surge warnings had been canceled by Saturday afternoon in Florida, the storm escalated weekend threats of possible twisters and severe thunderstorms elsewhere in the South.
The storm spun off at least three tornadoes in Florida as it moved north through the Gulf that caused damage.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said several homes were damaged and Kathleen Middle School had a large section of its roof torn off when the tornado hit late Friday near Lakeland, about an hour’s drive southwest of Orlando.
Photos posted by The Ledger newspaper showed a home with a destroyed roof, downed trees, a large recreational vehicle thrown onto its side and vehicles buried under debris. About 10,000 homes were without power Saturday.
“Thankfully, we have not had any reported serious injuries,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a Saturday statement. “However, there are many people dealing with damage to their homes and property this morning, some of it severe.”
Another suspected tornado in southwest Florida damaged at least a dozen homes in Cape Coral, some severely, the police department said in a statement. No injuries were reported. Another tornado was reported in Pinellas County, producing minor damage at a mobile home park.
In Georgia, remnants of the storm spread heavy rains and triggered two National Weather Service warnings of potential twisters in the state’s south on Saturday evening. Radar indicated possible tornados separately in areas around Rhine and Vienna, Georgia. But there was no immediate confirmation of any tornadoes and no injuries or damages were reported.
Elsewhere, news outlets reported some downed trees and power lines in metro Atlanta as heavy rains spread across Georgia. Photographs showed downed trees blocking some roadways.
In Mexico Beach, Florida, where a powerful October 2018 storm nearly wiped out that Panhandle town and left thousands homeless, the mayor said Saturday that Nestor brought some needed rain to a portion of the state suffering from drought. But there was no damage there.
“There have been no issues,” said Mayor Al Cathey, whose city is still recovering from Michael. “I would call us fortunate.”
Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.