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    The Democratic Unionist Party is a small Northern Irish political grouping with an outsized Brexit role. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson most likely needs the 10 votes the party has in Parliament if he is going to have any chance in getting any Brexit deal he negotiates with the European Union over the line. Johnson's Conservative Party does not have a working majority in Parliament. As well as getting those 10 votes, DUP support for any Brexit deal would unlock hard-line Brexit supporters within the Conservative Party, many of whom have said they will be influenced by what the Northern Irish party thinks. Little wonder then, that the party is being courted intensely by Johnson. As things stand, it's not clear whether the party will support any deal that emerges. ___ WHAT IS THE DUP? The DUP was founded in the 1970s by the late firebrand preacher Ian Paisley. It is a socially conservative, pro-British Protestant group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage and once appointed an environment minister who believes human-driven climate change is a myth. The DUP opposed the 1998 Good Friday peace accord that helped end decades of violence, but became the biggest party in the power-sharing Northern Ireland assembly established under the peace process. DUP leader Arlene Foster was Northern Ireland's first minister until the government collapsed in January 2017 over a botched green-energy project. The rift soon widened to broader cultural and political issues separating Northern Ireland's British unionists and Irish nationalists, and power-sharing has yet to be restored. ___ WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT? The DUP has just 10 seats in Britain's 650-seat Parliament. But after Johnson's predecessor as prime minister, Theresa May, lost the Conservative Party's majority in Parliament in a 2017 election, she signed a deal with the DUP to prop up her minority government. That greatly raised the group's profile and also brought a windfall in government funding for Northern Ireland. ___ WHY IS IT SO HARD TO GET THEIR BACKING? As staunch unionists committed to keeping Northern Ireland in the U.K., DUP politicians are opposed to any Brexit deal that could weaken the bonds between their region and the rest of the country. This is why they are wary of Johnson's proposal to keep Northern Ireland in a customs arrangement with the EU after Brexit in order to eliminate the need for new checks along the border with the Republic of Ireland. That view is not universally shared in Northern Ireland, which voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum. Many Northern Irish businesses rely on an open border, and desperately want to avoid any new barriers to trade. ___ Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
  • The Latest on Turkey's invasion of northern Syria (all times local): 4:15 p.m. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey won't be affected by 'sanctions and threats' against Turkey over its military incursion into northeast Syria. In a speech to Parliament on Wednesday, Cavusoglu also said that Turkey would retaliate against sanctions imposed on the country. He said: 'No sanctions or threats are acceptable and will not affect our resolve.' 'We will give the appropriate answer to these sanctions. We will take the necessary steps,' he added. The United States has announced a limited set of sanctions on Turkey and U.S. President Donald Trump warned he could obliterate Turkey's economy. Several European nations have announced they are halting arms sales to Turkey. ___ 2:20 p.m. The U.N. Special Envoy for Syria says there must be a cessation of hostilities between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters as the world is 'extremely alarmed by the humanitarian consequences of the crisis.' Geir Pedersen spoke to reporters after meeting Wednesday with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem saying that he wants to make sure that the fighting in the north is not threatening 'the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.' Pedersen said there is only a political solution also to the crisis in the northeast and 'we are appealing on all parties to participate in this.' The U.N. envoy said he is very optimistic that the committee that will draft a new constitution for Syria will start meeting at the end of the month. He said it will work 'as a door opener for the broader political process that is necessary to find a solution for the crisis in Syria.' ___ 1:30 p.m. The Kremlin says it expects Turkey's military action in Syria to be proportionate to its declared goal. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that Russia respects 'Turkey's right to take measures to ensure its security' but also expected it be 'proportionate to the task.' He wouldn't comment on how long Moscow believes the Turkish offensive should last. Russia moved quickly Tuesday to fill the void left by the U.S. troops' withdrawal from northern Syria, deploying its military to act as a buffer as Syrian government forces moved north under a deal with the Kurds, who have sought protection from the Turkish offensive. In Tuesday's call, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit Russia to discuss Syria. ___ 1:15 p.m. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Syrian Kurdish fighters must leave a designated border area in northeast Syria 'as of tonight' for Turkey to stop its military offensive. Erdogan made the comments in Parliament on Wednesday amid pressure for him to call a cease-fire and halt its incursion into Syria, now into its eighth day. Erdogan made clear Turkey would not bow to pressure and would press ahead with the military operation until Turkish troops reach a depth of some 30 or 35 kilometer inside Syria. He also called on the world to support Turkey's battle against Kurdish groups it considers to be 'terrorists' for links to an insurgency within its own borders. ___ 12:40 p.m. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that Russia is committed to mediating between the Syrian government and Turkey in order to ensure security in the region, as a Turkish offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria enters its eighth day. Lavrov said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies on Wednesday that Moscow will also continue to encourage Syria's Kurds and government to seek rapprochement after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the northern border area. Lavrov also blamed the United States and Western nations for undermining the Syrian state, thus 'pushing the Kurds toward separatism and confrontation with Arab tribes.' Lavrov during his visit to Iraq last week met with the leaders of the Kurdish autonomous region and said that Moscow is sympathetic to their need for autonomy. Russia has been the most powerful backer of Syria's President Bashar Assad in the eight-year-old civil Syrian war. ___ 11:05 France is calling on European and other members of the coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria to regroup as the U.S. abdicates its leadership role in the region. French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian said in an interview on French television channel BFM Wednesday that France is notably now looking to Russia, given their 'common interests' in defeating IS in Syria. He said the American military withdrawal from northeastern Syria is forcing European leaders to re-examine their alliance with the U.S. in the region. Le Drian said France's 'own security is at stake' amid the Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters. He said that 'to accept this invasion' was giving IS 'an open door' to return, as the chaos could allow thousands of Islamic State fighters detained in Kurdish-run prisons to escape. Russia has moved to fill the void left by the U.S. in the conflict, deploying its forces toward Syria's border with Turkey. ___ 10:25 a.m. Turkey's president says he won't halt its military offensive in northeast Syria, despite growing pressure and sanctions from NATO allies. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's comments came as Washington, which has announced limited sanctions on Turkey, said U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Ankara Wednesday to try and reach a cease-fire deal. Speaking to a group of journalists, Erdogan said he told President Donald Trump: 'We could never declare a ceasefire,' adding that Turkey wouldn't negotiate with 'terrorists.' Erdogan said he was 'not concerned' by sanctions imposed on Turkey. Turkey launched its offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters it considers terrorists after Trump announced he was withdrawing U.S. troops. Russia has signaled its role as de facto power broker in the conflict, deploying forces near the border following America's pullout.
  • The Latest on unrest in Spain's Catalonia region (all times local): ___ 3:30 p.m. The regional leader of restive Catalonia is participating in one of five large marches by separatists that plan to cross Spain's northeast corner in the coming days in protest of the Supreme Court's guilty verdict for a dozen separatist leaders. Quim Torra, a fervent separatist, said Wednesday that 'nobody doubt that this president is beside his people' while walking with the stream of people down a highway between Girona and Barcelona. The marches from different Catalan towns aim to reach the Catalan capital by Friday. Catalonia is reeling from two days of violent protests over the Supreme Court's verdict. Torra has yet to condemn the violence that has left more than 200 people injured. Torra's office says he plans to only do a part of Wednesday's march. ___ 3:15 p.m. The Spanish government says that isn't ruling out any means to guarantee security in Catalonia following three days of major protests over the imprisonment of separatist leaders. Clashes between angry crowds of mostly young protesters and riot police across the northeastern region have eclipsed largely peaceful demonstrations since Monday's conviction of those who led the 2017 bid for Catalan independence. Spain's caretaker government has blamed violence on 'coordinated groups' and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is discussing the issue in meetings on Wednesday with leaders of opposition parties. Sánchez has told the conservative Popular Party leader Pablo Casado that 'he doesn't rule out any scenario,' a government statement said. It added: 'Everything is prepared and (the government) will act, if needed, with firmness, proportionality and unity.' ___ 2:55 p.m. The Spanish soccer league wants Barcelona's game against Real Madrid to be moved out of the Catalan capital to avoid coinciding with a planned separatist rally. Separatist groups in Catalonia have called for supporters to rally in Barcelona on Oct. 26 when Barcelona is scheduled to host Madrid in the 'El Clásico' match. The league runs the top two tiers of Spanish soccer. It has called on the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) — which controls regulations and fixtures for professional and amateur games — to shift the match to Madrid. The league has also requested for the return match to be switched from Madrid to Barcelona. The league said Wednesday it has 'requested the competitions committee of the RFEF to meet and change the location of El Clásico because of exceptional circumstances beyond our control.' Catalonia has seen violent protests for the last two days with police clashing with protesters angered by the Supreme Court's decision to sentence nine separatist leaders to prison. The federation said the clubs have until Monday to respond to the request to change venues. Catalan independence flags are a regular feature at Barcelona's home games at the Camp Nou Stadium. ___ 12:05 p.m. Thousands of people have set out on foot from several towns in Catalonia to protest the sentencing of nine leaders of the region's separatist movement to lengthy prison terms. Organizers have urged the marchers to be peaceful, after two nights of rioting in Barcelona against the Supreme Court's ruling. The five marches set off Wednesday and aim to converge on the Catalan capital on Friday. Also Wednesday, protests continued to clog traffic in Barcelona and students in the restive region went on strike. Rallies by the Catalan separatist movement have traditionally been non-violent. But two nights of violent clashes between police and protesters have injured more than 200 people. Catalan and national officials were meeting separately Wednesday to discuss events. ___ 9:50 a.m. Spain is on edge after two straight days of violent clashes in northeastern Catalonia between police and protesters at over the Supreme Court's sentencing of nine leaders of the region's separatist movement to prison. Protest marches are starting in several Catalan towns on Wednesday with the goal of reaching Barcelona by Friday. Spain's Interior Ministry says that 54 members of Catalonia's regional police force and 18 National Police officers were hurt when they engaged with protesters on Tuesday. Police made 29 arrests in Barcelona, the Catalan capital, during a raging street battle Tuesday night. Protesters set light to over 150 barricades they erected in the streets, according to the ministry. Health authorities say they treated 125 people, both police and protesters, on Tuesday.
  • Turkey's invasion of northern Syria — along with the criticism and threats of sanctions brandished by fellow NATO members at Ankara over the offensive — is close to sparking a crisis at the world's biggest military alliance. But despite the high political-military tensions, Turkey is very unlikely to be ejected from the 29-member alliance, for NATO has seen tense times and survived them before. From the Suez Canal crisis in 1956 to France leaving its military command structure in 1967 — which forced the alliance to move its headquarters to Brussels in Belgium — to the deep split among allies over the Iraq war in 2003, NATO bonds have been tested. But no country has left the alliance or been forced out. Beyond that, Turkey is of great strategic importance to NATO. The large, mainly Muslim country straddles the Bosporus Strait, making it vital bridge between Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. It's also the only waterway in and out of the Black Sea, where Russia's naval fleet is based. Turkey has NATO's second biggest army, after the United States, and keeping the country inside NATO helps keep a lid on Turkey's historic tensions with its neighbor Greece. NATO allies also rely on the Incirlik air base in southeast Turkey as a staging point for access to the Middle East. The alliance runs aerial surveillance operations from Incirlik and the United States has nuclear weapons stationed there. 'I think it's better to have Turkey inside NATO than outside NATO, to be honest. I think it's important to have them in our family and discussion. I think it's easier to work with them that way, but we cannot behave as if this had not happened,' Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said Tuesday. Turkey has been testing fellow NATO members' patience for a while. Its military offensive in Syria comes on top of tensions over Turkey's purchase of Russian-made S400 missiles, which threaten NATO security and the F-35 stealth jet. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also purged thousands of military officers following the failed coup in Turkey in 2016 and some have sought, and been granted, asylum in NATO countries. 'At the moment, this is the greatest political-military challenge the alliance faces,' Ian O. Lesser, vice president at the German Marshall Fund think-tank, said Wednesday. 'Obviously as an existential matter, it's not on a par with deterring Russia in places like the Baltics or around the Black Sea. But in terms of a political crisis within the alliance, and potentially a security crisis, it's very, very high on the agenda.' So far, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has urged Turkey to show restraint and to be wary of provoking yet another humanitarian disaster, particularly as well over a million Syrians have already fled to Europe in recent years. Stoltenberg has exhorted Ankara to focus on NATO's common enemy; the Islamic State group, some of whose fighters are reported to have escaped jail during the Turkish offensive. But he has not, at least not in public, called for a ceasefire. Indeed, Stoltenberg has shied away from any public criticism of Turkey — or of any other NATO member — and recalled that the alliance plays no role in Syria, beyond helping with the surveillance of air traffic over the country from abroad. NATO ambassadors debated the Turkish invasion again Wednesday, NATO headquarters said without elaborating. One option open to Turkey's partners is to request consultations through Article 4 of NATO's founding treaty, which is possible when 'in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.' Turkey has done this in the past, in 2015 after a series of extremist attacks on its territory and in 2012 when a fighter jet was shot down over Syria. Poland did so in 2014, when tensions in Ukraine were at their height. So far, no country has officially requested such consultations, but some European allies have called for a ministerial-level meeting of the international coalition fighting IS. NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels next week and are certain to discuss the Turkish invasion. Some countries will also seek clarification at that Oct.24-25 meeting from the United States about what exactly its plans are in Syria, after Turkey took the departure of U.S. troops from there as a green-light to launch its offensive. But whatever happens, the chances of Turkey being evicted from NATO are slim. Lesser said, as far as he understands, 'there is no mechanism to remove a member.' That doesn't mean relations can't break down. 'There are ways in which a membership can become dysfunctional, either because there's no political consensus around the member's concerns,' he said, or if Turkey's frustration grew to a point where it would 'consider options like withdrawing from the military command structure.' ___ AP Writer Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP's full coverage of the war in Syria and the Turkish military operation at https://www.apnews.com/Syria
  • Since Turkey announced its incursion into neighboring Syria to clear out Kurdish fighters last week, patriotic sentiment has run high — as has bewilderment and anger at the overwhelmingly negative international reaction to Ankara's actions. 'At times of this kind of Turkish operation, we as Turkish people feel prouder about our nation,' said Cuma Gunay, a 47-year-old supermarket owner in the border town of Akcakale. Ankara has long argued the Kurdish fighters are nothing more than an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has waged a guerrilla campaign inside Turkey since the 1980s and which Turkey, as well as the U.S. and European Union, designate a terrorist organization. But the offensive has led to an international outcry, causing tens of thousands to flee their homes and upending alliances in Syria's eight-year war.
  • Vote counting continues Wednesday in Mozambique's presidential and parliamentary elections, after isolated incidents of vandalism and violence tainted a generally peaceful night of tallying the ballots. One person was killed by police dispersing a crowd at a voting station after the polls had closed in the northern port city of Nacala, according to local reports. Leading opposition figures had urged their supporters to stay and monitor the vote counting, despite official announcements that only accredited observers and polling station staff could remain at the premises after hours. Another crowd refused to leave a polling station in Maniamba, in northern Niassa province, leading to a scuffle with police in which ballot papers were destroyed, according to local radio reports. Pre-marked ballot papers were discovered in several incidents up and down the country, according to the civic group, the Center for Public Integrity. In all cases the ballots were marked in favor of the ruling Frelimo party, it said. A senior opposition politician, Renamo's national spokesman Jose Manteigas, was arrested in Inhambane, in southern Mozambique, in an apparent dispute over his accreditation to observe the voting process, according to local reports. Results could take days to be announced. The National Election Commission will not release partial results during the counting process as it had done in the past, said commission head Sheik Abdul Carimo, according to the newspaper, Canal de Mocambique. In the previous elections in 2014, the election commission held press conferences every few hours to announce the results as they came in. The commission decided announcing preliminary results in this election, Carimo said, because they 'can create various negative interpretations.' ___ Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa
  • Pope Francis is calling for lifestyle and dietary changes to address the paradox of a world in which people suffer from malnutrition in some areas and obesity in others. In a message Wednesday for the U.N.'s World Food Day, Francis lamented the 'distorted relationship between food and nutrition' that he blamed on the world economy's profit-at-all-cost mentality. Francis noted that while obesity used to be a problem of the developed world, it is increasingly wreaking havoc in poorer countries, leading to increased cases of diabetes, heart problems and even eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. He said: 'Nutritional disorders can only be combatted by the cultivation of lifestyles inspired by gratitude for the gifts we have received and the adoption of a spirit of temperance, moderation, abstinence, self-control and solidarity.
  • Spain's government said Wednesday it would do whatever it takes to stamp out violence in Catalonia, where clashes between regional independence supporters and police have injured more than 200 people in two days. 'Everything is prepared and (the government) will act, if needed, with firmness, proportionality and unity,' a government statement said. It said caretaker prime minister Pedro Sánchez was meeting with other national political leaders and 'he doesn't rule out any scenario.' Many people in Catalonia have long fought for it to break away from Spain and become a new European country. Demonstrations have traditionally been peaceful, but not always. Violent clashes erupted in Barcelona and other Catalan towns after Spain's Supreme Court on Monday handed nine separatist Catalan leaders lengthy prison sentences for their part in an October 2017 effort to achieve independence. Rioting broke out Tuesday evening, when Barcelona police said 40,000 protesters packed the streets near the office of Spain's government representative. Protesters turned over metal barriers, set fire to trash cans and threw firecrackers and other objects at police. The outnumbered police used foam bullets, batons and shields to battle the groups amid tense standoffs on Barcelona's streets. An organization representing downtown Barcelona businesses, called Barcelona Abierta, said the violence in the city had caused 'significant losses' and 'deeply damaged' the image abroad of the popular tourist destination. The tumult prompted Sánchez, who is preparing for a general election Nov. 10, to consult with his party and other leading figures, some of whom are urging him to take a firmer hand. Albert Rivera, leader of the Ciudadanos (Citizens) party, traveled to the Catalan capital Barcelona and said the country faced 'a state of emergency.' Popular Party leader Pablo Casado, a conservative, called for a government decree that would allow the central government to take over full control of the Catalan regional police, while the far-right Vox party wanted exceptional measures that would temporarily lift some civil rights. On Wednesday, thousands of people joined five large protest marches across Catalonia that were set to converge on Barcelona on Friday. They included families with children, elderly and young people, and banners reading 'Libertat Presos Politics' (Freedom for political prisoners) — a reference to the prominent Catalan politicians and activists leaders sentenced by the Supreme Court. They have grown into powerful symbols and a rallying point for the separatist movement. Catalan regional president Quim Torra joined one of the marches, saying he wanted to be next to the people. 'These peaceful marches happening across the country (Catalonia) are the Catalan people's best response' to the court's verdict, Torra said. Torra, one of the separatist movement's leaders, didn't criticize the recent street violence. Spain's Interior Ministry said 54 members of Catalonia's regional police force and 18 National Police officers were hurt in the protests Tuesday. Health authorities say they treated 125 people, both police and protesters. Police made 29 arrests in Barcelona, where more than 150 street barricades were set ablaze by protesters, according to the Interior Ministry. Similar protests turned violent in other towns in Catalonia, which has seen a rise in separatist sentiment over the past decade. Roughly half of the region's 7.5 million residents support independence, with the other half opposing a breakaway, according to polls. Students in the restive region went on strike, with organizers urging them to remain peaceful. The marches and sporadic street protests continued to snarl traffic across the wealthy region. Flights and passenger movements at Barcelona airport have also been disrupted by protests. Traffic in downtown Barcelona was also slowed by the massive cleanup effort to remove the debris of burned barricades and trash. Gabriel Rufián, a leading Catalan separatist and member of Spain's parliament, and some other high-profile secessionists, called for calm. 'Nothing can justify violence,' Rufián told Cadena SER radio. Most impromptu protesters have responded to an online campaign by Tsunami Democratic, a shadowy grassroots group that uses encrypted messaging apps to call for peaceful disobedience. Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said authorities were investigating the group. But on Wednesday, the group issued a statement appealing for an end to the violence. The Supreme Court found nine of 12 Catalan politicians and activists guilty of sedition and gave them prison sentences of nine to 13 years. Four of them were additionally convicted of misuse of public funds. The other three were fined for disobeying court orders. ___ Aritz Parra in Madrid, and Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed to this report.
  • Dutch farmers drove their tractors in slow-moving convoys to a massive demonstration Wednesday to protest their treatment by the government as it seeks to rein in carbon and nitrogen emissions. It is the second major protest this month by Dutch farmers who say the government is unfairly targeting them as it seeks to slash emissions. 'They blame agriculture for everything at the moment because of nitrogen emissions,' said farmer Jans de Wilcher. He added that 'we as a sector store far more nitrogen than we produce. So we are actually helping the Dutch problem rather than making it worse — so why do we get the blame?' Hundreds of drivers on tractors gathered in the central town of De Bilt to protest near the headquarters of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, which is responsible for measuring nitrogen emissions. Farmers accuse the institute of inaccurately calculating nitrogen levels as the Dutch government struggles to meet European Union emissions targets in part by offering to buy up farms voluntarily. From De Bilt, the farmers drove to The Hague, where the military parked heavy trucks at strategic junctions to help police block roads leading into the historic town center. Mayor of The Hague Johan Remkes appealed to the farmers to stick to agreements about where they could protest — meaning they had to stay out of the town center. 'Ignoring agreements is unacceptable and dangerous for residents and shoppers,' he said. Farmers drove onto a large grassy field just outside the city center where their demonstration was to begin later. Some even drove along the North Sea beach, parking there and being driven into town on busses, police said. Their lobby is powerful because of the economic significance of agriculture to the Dutch economy. The Dutch farmers' organization, LTO, says exports from the country's nearly 54,000 farms and agriculture businesses were worth 90.3 billion euros ($98.3 billion) last year. But it comes at an environmental cost, with farms emitting carbon and nitrogen. Earlier this month, the Dutch government announced it is planning a raft of measures to rein in nitrogen emissions, including a voluntary program to buy up old and inefficient farms and subsidies to help other farms modernize. Other measures take aim at the construction and transport industries, which also are responsible for emissions. One tractor in The Hague bore a sign saying simply: 'No farmers. No food. No future.' ___ Mike Corder reported from London.
  • The Latest on Britain's plans to leave the European Union (all times local): 1:50 p.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to meet again with members of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party to discuss his Brexit plan. Johnson's spokesman James Slack says the prime minister will meet the DUP 'in the next few hours.' It would be the third such meeting in as many days as the border between European Union member state Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, proves a continuing sticking point in negotiations on an EU-UK divorce deal. Johnson needs the support of the DUP to win parliamentary approval for any Brexit deal. Slack said 'I would certainly expect there to be ongoing dialogue between the prime minister, the prime minister's team and the DUP throughout the course of today.' ___ 12:35 p.m. The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator says talks between the EU and Britain on the country's departure from the bloc are continuing after running through the night but that obstacles remain. Michel Barnier briefed members of the European Commission — which is supervising the negotiations — on the latest developments and is set to update key EU lawmakers later Wednesday. EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, who was at the briefing, says that 'talks have been constructive but there still remains a number of significant issues to resolve.' The aim is to secure a legally watertight agreement on a new divorce deal before a crunch two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels starting Thursday. Britain is set to leave the EU on Oct. 31. ___ 12:25 p.m. As Brexit negotiations continue, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says there is a pathway to a deal 'but there are many issues that still need to be resolved.' Varadkar, who spoke by phone Wednesday morning to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the European Commission, says he hopes the issues can be resolved in the course of the day. That would allow European Union leaders to consider them at a two-day summit starting Thursday in Brussels, which would clear the way for a vote by British lawmakers at a special sitting of Parliament scheduled for Saturday. However, Varadkar says that even if that does not happen, the Oct. 31 deadline for the UK to leave the EU 'is still a few weeks away and there is a possibility of another summit before that if we need one.' ___ 12:20 p.m. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has told a parliamentary committee that the British government plans to comply with the law as it enters a delicate phase in the Brexit process. Barclay told the Exiting the European Union Committee Wednesday that the government headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson will comply with 'undertakings given to the court in respect of the law.' He was apparently referring to the government's commitment in a Scottish court to follow a law requiring Johnson to seek a Brexit extension from the European Union if no agreement is approved by Saturday. Barclay maintained, however, that the government is still committed to leaving the EU by Oct. 31. He did not explain how this would be possible given the law's intent to prevent a 'no-deal' Brexit. ___ 10 a.m. The British government says talks with the European Union are making progress, despite the lack of a breakthrough overnight. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office says talks are resuming Wednesday after a 'constructive' session that lasted late into the night in Brussels. Johnson is eager to strike a deal at an EU summit starting Thursday so the U.K. can leave the bloc in good order on the scheduled date of Oct. 31. But both sides say gaps remain over plans for maintaining an open Irish border. Even if there is a deal, it must be passed by Britain's Parliament, which rejected — three times — the agreement struck by Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May. Pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker David Davis said Wednesday that success rests on the stance of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, the ally of Johnson's Conservative government. He said that 'if the DUP says 'this is intolerable to us' that will be quite important.' ___ 7:10 a.m. European Union and British negotiators have failed to get a breakthrough in the Brexit talks during a frantic all-night session and will continue seeking a compromise on the eve of Thursday's crucial EU summit. An EU official, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations were still ongoing, says 'discussions continued until late in the night and will continue today.' Both sides were hoping that after more than three years of false starts and sudden reversals, a clean divorce deal for Britain leaving the bloc might be sketched out within the coming hours. Thursday's EU leaders' summit comes just two weeks before the U.K's scheduled departure date of Oct. 31.

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  • In a shocking video that may be difficult for some to watch, a WSOC-TV viewer captured footage of hundreds of birds scattered across the ground near the entrance of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, after flying into the side of the building. >> Read more trending news  Hollie Cameron's disturbing cellphone video shows dozens of birds lying on the ground outside the building and captures other birds crashing into the large windows. WSOC reporter Gina Esposito spoke with the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, who said their rehab team responded to the NASCAR Hall of Fame around 11 p.m. and treated hundreds of birds. They said a total of 310 birds hit the windows of the building. Roughly one-third of those birds were dead when they arrived, and another third was seriously injured. The rest appeared to be stunned but will be OK, the organization said. >> Watch the clip here (WARNING: Some viewers may find the video below disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.) In the video, Cameron watched as a bird crashed into the window and then fell to the ground, joining dozens of others. Cameron told WSOC that she was working in the area when she started recording on her phone around 9 p.m. You can hear her talking with a security guard who claims the phenomenon had been going on for about an hour. 'Oh my God, look at them all,' Cameron says in the video. 'There's something wrong with them. This is not OK.' Carolina Waterfowl Rescue posted more video on Facebook of the birds at their facility. About 100 of the surviving birds are being treated for broken wings and fractures. The rescue group said the birds are chimney swifts and that the colony lives in a roost. They think something disturbed the colony Tuesday night, causing the birds to fly into the windows at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Carolina Waterfowl Rescue officials told WSOC that this was not a naturally occurring event and the birds' migration could not have been a factor because the swifts only migrate during the day. They plan to investigate more on Wednesday. CMPD reportedly responded to the scene to begin cleaning up the birds. Carolina Waterfowl Rescue said rehabbing the injured birds is expensive, and they desperately need volunteers since the birds will need to be hand-fed. Visit their Facebook page for more details on how you can help.
  • Plan to drive through times of scattered showers today ahead of a cool front that will bring drier, more refreshing air to end the week.  Action News Jax Meteorologist Garrett Bedenbaugh says some rain may be heavy at times with a few rumbles of thunder.  Overall rainfall totals are not expected to be great, but the rainfall is needed.  By Thursday morning you’ll begin to feel a change with drier air and high temperatures only in the upper 70’s.  Friday morning lows may fall into the upper 50’s in some neighborhoods, and high temperatures will only be in the upper 70’s.  The weekend is looking a little warmer and wetter at times with a few showers on Saturday and scattered showers on Sunday. 
  • Four separate shootings over a 24-hour period in Jacksonville has left at least six people wounded and, so far, no arrests have been announced by police.  Early this morning a man was shot on W. 17th Street, near RV Daniels Elementary School.  He was taken to a local hospital with a single gunshot wound to the leg. JSO had no suspect description and was asking for tips to Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.  Just after 10 pm on Tuesday, two young men between the ages of 17 and 20 were shot while sitting in a vehicle on Timmerman Lane. Both shooting victims had non-life-threatening injuries. JSO had no evidence to confirm if this was a drive-by shooting.  Around 5:20 pm on Tuesday, police were called to a shooting on Orton Street, where two men were treated and transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. No suspect information was given at the scene by detectives.  On Miss Muffet Lane on the westside just after 6 pm on Tuesday, police responded to reports of shots fired. An off-duty officer was called about a gunshot wound victim at Park West ER. He was taken to Orange Park Medical Center in critical condition.  According to JSO, two groups of people in two separate cars that left the area were being questioned by detectives.  
  • A Pennsylvania mom is in critical condition after police said she killed her children and husband, then shot herself, Philadelphia police said. >> Read more trending news  Here are the latest updates: Update 5:49 a.m. EDT Oct. 16: Authorities have identified the woman accused of killing her children and husband late Monday in Philadelphia's Tacony neighborhood, multiple news outlets are reporting. According to WPVI-TV, Damyrra Jones Alcindor, 28, also shot herself, police said. As she was rushed to a nearby hospital, she reportedly told officials she did not want to be resuscitated. Philadelphia police Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said Alcindor admitted to fatally shooting her two daughters, ages 10 months and 4 years, as well as their father, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday afternoon. Although police did not release the victims' names, a family member identified them as Max Alcindor, 38; Maxilla, 4; and Damaya, 10 months, WCAU-TV reported. Investigators said Alcindor, who legally bought the handgun earlier Monday, is facing murder charges in the case, according to WCAU. Original report: According to KYW-TV and the Philadelphia Inquirer, the deadly shooting occurred just before 10 p.m. Monday at a home in Philadelphia's Tacony neighborhood. Police said the 29-year-old woman fatally shot her two daughters, ages 10 months and 4 years, as well as their 35-year-old father. All three victims suffered gunshot wounds to the head, authorities said. When police arrived at the Hegerman Street home, they discovered the woman outside 'lying on top of a gun,' the Inquirer reported. Authorities said the woman, who apparently shot herself, was taken to a nearby hospital. Philadelphia police have not released the names of the woman or the victims, the news outlets reported. Read more here or here.
  • Authorities in Indiana said a baby is alive and well after someone discovered the child inside a plastic bag near a fence in Seymour. >> Read more trending news  According to the Tribune and WAVE-TV, police responded to a call about the infant just before 4 p.m. Tuesday. A resident, who had been walking a dog off South Jackson Park Drive, found the child about 60 feet away from the street, investigators said. Crews rushed the baby to a nearby hospital, the news outlets reported. Doctors said the child is healthy, according to WAVE. Seymour police have not yet made any arrests in connection with the incident, the Tribune reported. Read more here or here.

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