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    The U.S.-based Egyptian activist whose Facebook page helped ignite the 2011 pro-democracy uprising said authorities have arrested his brother in Cairo. Wael Ghonim, a computer engineer, said his recent criticism of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi prompted authorities to retaliate by detaining his brother. Ghonim alleged that the Egyptian Embassy in Washington warned him the day before the arrest. 'They told me if I did not stop speaking, something will happen,' Ghonim said in a video posted on Twitter late Thursday. He said authorities arrested his brother Hazem during a raid on his parents' home. Authorities confiscated his parents' passports and phones, Ghonim said. Meanwhile, dozens of people on Friday held a rare protest in Cairo during which they called on el-Sissi to quit. Security forces dispersed the protesters and no casualties were reported. The protest occurred near Tahir Square, the epicenter of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Egypt outlawed all unauthorized protests in 2013. That's when el-Sissi, as defense minister, led the military's overthrow of an Islamist president amid mass protests against his brief rule. The government crackdown that followed has rolled back the freedoms won in 2011. Tens of thousands of Egyptians have been arrested since 2013, and many have fled the country. Wael Ghonim was among those who left. He had used social media to mobilize widespread protests against Mubarak.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged Friday that he let down his supporters — and all Canadians of color — by appearing years ago in brownface and blackface. Yet the scandal's fallout may be limited in a country without the harsh and still-divisive racial history of the neighboring United States. 'I hurt people who in many cases consider me an ally,' Trudeau told a news conference. 'I let a lot of people down.' Trudeau, 47, is seeking a second term as prime minister in an Oct. 21 election. His leading opponent, Andrew Scheer of the Conservative Party, has assailed him as 'not fit to govern' because of the revelations. But key figures in the prime minister's Liberal Party have stuck by him, including Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who would be a favorite to replace Trudeau as Liberal leader if he lost the election. Many minority Canadians, increasingly active in politics and government, seem ready to forgive Trudeau. 'As I have gotten to know Justin, I know these photos do not represent the person he is now, and I know how much he regrets it,' Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, a Sikh, said on Twitter. Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, predicted Trudeau would easily weather the scandal. 'Indeed, I think he is drawing some sympathy,' Wiseman said. 'This affair is a media bombshell that is bombing with the public ... The international media love this story because it goes against type.' Wiseman also disputed the assertion that Trudeau is a hypocrite when it comes to race and diversity, noting that his cabinet is the most diverse in Canadian history in terms of gender and ethnic background. Trudeau's brownface controversy has drawn some comparisons with developments earlier this year in the U.S., where Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam withstood intense pressure to resign after a racist picture surfaced from his 1984 medical school yearbook. Quentin Kidd, a political science professor at Virginia's Christopher Newport University, said the revelations were 'a shock and disappointment' to supporters of both Trudeau and Northam, whom they viewed as compassionate politicians. However, Kidd sees big differences in how the two politicians handled the situation. 'Trudeau has expressed genuine contrition and willingness to accept what he did as racist,' Kidd said. 'We haven't seen that from Ralph Northam.' Kidd also cited the divergent racial histories of the two countries. 'Canada has its issues dealing with racial inequities, but nothing like the American South. There's no legacy of slavery, of Jim Crow or huge gaps in wealth and poverty,' he said. 'Northam has to carry the baggage of that history, whereas Trudeau doesn't have to carry similar baggage.' According to recent census figures, Canada's population is about 73% white, compared with 77% in the U.S. Many of the nonwhites in Canada are from Asia. Only about 3.5 percent of the population is black. In Trudeau's multiethnic parliamentary district in Montreal, some residents questioned about the scandal offered a collective shrug. 'It was no big deal, it was a long time ago,' said Zahid Nassar, an immigrant from Pakistan. 'When we're young, we all do stupid things.' Nassar said he voted for Trudeau in 2015 and will likely do the same next month. If he does not, he said, it will be because he's worried about safety in his neighborhood. The brownface controversy surfaced Wednesday when Time magazine published a photo from a yearbook from the West Point Grey Academy, a private school in British Columbia where Trudeau worked as a teacher. It shows the then-29-year-old Trudeau at an 'Arabian Nights' party in 2001 wearing a turban and robe with dark makeup on his hands, face and neck. Trudeau said he was dressed as a character from 'Aladdin.' Trudeau said he also once darkened his face for a performance of a Harry Belafonte song during a talent show when he was in high school. In a third incident, a brief video surfaced of Trudeau in blackface. He said it was taken on a costume day while he was working as guide for a river rafting company. 'I have been forthright about the incidents that I remembered,' he said Friday. 'I did not realize at the time how much this hurt minority Canadians, racialized Canadians.' Sunny Khurana, who was photographed with Trudeau for the 2001 yearbook, said no one had a problem with Trudeau's get-up at the event. 'It was a costume party, Arabian nights, Aladdin,' said Khurana, a Sikh Indian who had two children at the school at the time. 'That's it. People dress up. It was a party. It was never meant to put down anybody.' In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump was asked by a reporter about the Trudeau controversy. 'I was hoping I wouldn't be asked that question,' Trump replied. 'I'm surprised. And I was more surprised when I saw the number of times.' Trudeau later asked if his standing internationally is damaged. 'My focus is Canadians who face discrimination every day,' he replied. 'I'm going to work very hard to demonstrate as an individual and as a leader I will continue to stand against intolerance and racism.' Trudeau said he would call the leader of the opposition New Democrat party, Jagmeet Singh, and apologize for wearing brownface. Singh is also a Sikh. As for Trudeau's main election rival, his denunciation of the prime minister was undercut by comments he made shortly before the brownface photo surfaced. Scheer said he would stand by other Conservative candidates who had made racist or anti-gay comments in the past, as long as they apologized and took responsibility for those remarks. 'I accept the fact that people make mistakes in the past and can own up to that and accept that,' Scheer said. 'I believe many Canadians, most Canadians, recognize that people can say things in the past, when they're younger, at a different time in their life, that they would not say today.' ___ Crary reported from New York.
  • A perpetually overcrowded refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos can't accommodate any more newly arrived asylum-seekers after the number of people already housed exceeded the camp's intended capacity by 400%, authorities said Friday. Migrants who made it to Lesbos were sleeping in the open or in tents outside the Moria refugee camp, and the population inside has reached 12,000, two regional officials told The Associated Press. Some newcomers were being taken to a small transit camp run by the United Nations' refugee agency on the island's north coast. The Moria camp was built to host 3,000 refugees. The island authorities said at least 410 migrants coming in boats from Turkey reached Lesbos on Friday. The officials asked not to be identified pending official announcements about the camp. Greece has again become the busiest point of entry for migrants in the European Union, surpassing Spain and Italy, according to figures published by EU border protection agency Frontex. Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, many fleeing wars in Iraq and Syria, traveled from Turkey to nearby Lesbos and on to mainland Europe during 2015-16, fueling political tensions and a humanitarian crisis. But the number of people arriving dropped sharply after the European Union reached agreements to close off Balkan borders and for Turkey to serve more migrants and prevent them from embarking for Europe.. On Monday, officials from Greece's army, coast guard, local governments and various agencies plan to meet on Lesbos to consider emergency housing options Lesbos is one of five Greek islands off the Turkish coast with large camps and where the movement for migrants to the Greek mainland is restricted. ___ Follow Gatopoulos at http://www.twitter.com/dgatopoulos
  • Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said Friday that the U.S. expulsion of two Cuban diplomats and energy shortages across the island are part of a Trump administration offensive that will fail to force concessions by his government. Rodríguez told reporters that Cuba was weighing its response to the expulsion of two diplomats posted to Cuba's permanent mission to the United Nations. He also said energy shortages and long gas lines in Cuba are due to a Trump administration campaign of pressuring Cuba's energy suppliers across the world not to send petroleum products to the island. During his annual press conference enumerating the effects of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, Rodríguez said the Trump administration was waging a campaign to pressure Cuba's fuel suppliers and shippers in South America, Europe and North Africa. 'These actions include direct threats, persecution of transport companies, pressure against governments where tankers are flagged or registered and actions against insurance companies, he said. 'This is an escalation seeking to dissuade and intimidate, and to create additional difficulties for the Cuban people.' Fuel shortages are leading to hours-long lines at gas station around Cuba this week, along with cutbacks of public services and activities throughout Cuba's centrally planned state-run economy. Rodríguez said Cuba would not drop its support for the Venezuelan government, the stated goal of the Trump policy. 'They will not force any concession from our people,' he said. 'They will not force any political concession from our government. They have failed for 60 years and they'll keep failing.' Adding to tensions, the U.S. announced Thursday that it was expelling two Cuban diplomats and restricting travel of members of Cuba's permanent U.N. mission as leaders gather from around the world for the annual U.N. General Assembly. The Cuban diplomats who are being expelled are attached to the U.N. mission and tried to 'conduct influence operations against the United States,' State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. She provided no details on the allegations and the diplomats' names weren't released. All members of the Cuban mission are being restricted to the island of Manhattan. 'Cuba will deliver an appropriate, timely response to these actions by the U.S. government,' Rodríguez said Friday, without offering details. 'They are totally unjustified and illegitimate actions aimed at escalating bilateral tensions, provoking the closure of embassies and the rupture of diplomatic relations.' ______ Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein
  • Hameeda Begum explained her arduous journey from the Himalayan region of disputed Kashmir to the hot and humid room in the Agra Central Jail where the exhausted 70-year-old was waiting to see her son. A man in his early twenties offered her a bottle of water, saying, 'Don't lose hope. You are not alone.' Hameeda drew a long sigh. She placed her hand on the man's hand and spoke in a barely audible voice. 'May God give us patience,' she said, as other Kashmiri families watched as they sat on a steel bench, waiting to see their own jailed relatives. After waiting patiently for hours, Hameeda's name was announced and she was called inside a room. Some 20 minutes later, she emerged a different person. Restive and tense earlier, she said she was now happy and relieved. 'Seeing my son was like celebrating the Eid festival,' she said. 'After all, I am a mother.' Hameeda and the man, Gowhar Malla, traveled together about 600 miles (965 kilometers) from Kashmir over two days to reach the Indian city of Agra. Unknown to each other before their journey started, the two pursued a common goal: To see family members arrested by Indian authorities and held in the city's largest prison. Many Kashmiris are being held in Agra Central Jail after the government of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed an unprecedented security clampdown in Indian-held Kashmir, cutting virtually all communications and scrapping the region's semi-autonomy on Aug. 5. Thousands of Indian troops were sent to the region, already one of the most heavily militarized in the world. At least 4,000 people, mostly young men, have been arrested there since then, according to police officials and records reviewed by AP. Officials say at least 3,000 have since been released and that fixed telephone line service has been restored. About 250 of those still being held have been moved to various Indian jails outside Kashmir. The records show that nearly 300 of those arrested are being held under the Public Safety Act, which allows authorities to hold people for up to two years without trial. For years, human rights groups have accused Indian troops of controlling the population of Kashmir with physical and sexual abuse and unjustified arrests. Indian government officials deny this, calling the allegations separatist propaganda. The conflict over Kashmir has existed since the late 1940s, when India and Pakistan won independence from the British empire. The countries have fought two wars over Kashmir, and each controls a portion of the region. A full-blown armed rebellion against Indian control began in 1989 seeking a united Kashmir, either independent or under Pakistani rule. Since then, about 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which India sees as a Pakistani proxy war. The latest actions by the Indian government have further worsened the situation in the pristine valley, where most Kashmiris resent the Indian troop presence and support the rebels. Hameeda remembered the morning of Aug. 5 when her son, whom she didn't want to be named for fear of retribution from the authorities, was picked up from his bedroom by the armed forces and put in a Srinagar jail. 'They entered his room forcibly and dragged him out of his bed,' she said. Hameeda spent the next 10 days trying to find her son in various jails in Kashmir. She even traveled to far northern districts bordering Pakistan but found no information about her son's whereabouts. Then one day the news came. A stranger knocked at her door and gave her a message. Her son was in Agra. 'I hadn't even heard the name of this place before. If it weren't for these people, I would have lost myself in this big city,' she said, pointing to other Kashmiri families waiting at the jail to see their relatives. In interviews conducted by the AP, the Kashmiri families spoke about the arrests that followed Aug. 5 and how they struggled to find their loved ones. For Gowhar Malla, the trip from Kashmir to Agra to see his sister's husband cost his family almost $1,000. He said he borrowed the money from his relatives. 'Seeing him means the world to me. I don't care about the debt I am in,' Gowhar said. His brother-in-law, Aamir Parviaz Rather, was picked up by the armed forces on the morning of Aug. 6 and held in various jails in Kashmir before being moved to Agra. The family was seeing him for the first time in 48 days. Aamir's wife, Maryam Rasool, spoke about how her husband's health was worsening in jail because of the extreme humidity and heat. 'We hugged each other and cried. His face was swollen because of the heat. If they keep him for long, he won't survive,' Maryam said, tugging her 5-year-old son closely to her. Her mother-in-law grabbed her loosely hanging scarf and wiped her tears as she heard Maryam speak. 'We are living under oppression,' Maryam said. Agra's deputy inspector general for prisons, Sanjeev Tripathi, refused to give any information about the Kashmiri prisoners in Agra Central Jail. 'I have been specifically told by the government not to give any details to the media,' Tripathi said. Fear of the authorities made the families rush hurriedly from the prison compound after their visits. One man said he was told by police officers stationed outside the prison gate not to talk to anyone because the fate of their loved ones was 'hanging by a thread.' As the dusty narrow lane leading to the jail compound filled with vehicles carrying worried family members, an exhausted Mohammad Ashraf Malik of southern Shopian district in Kashmir ran to get prison documents copied at a local shop. His son, Aasif Ashraf, is still recovering from three bullet wounds in his abdomen which he received during protests in March, Malik said. Arrested months before the day that Kashmir's semi-autonomy was withdrawn, Aasif was moved to the jail in Agra after being rearrested by police in August. Malik said he managed to finally see his son after days of struggle. 'Police arrested him from his hospital bed in Srinagar when he was being treated. They arrested and rearrested him so many times and then finally jailed him here,' Mohammad said. 'Which country in the world jails an injured person who is recovering from bullet wounds?' ___ Follow Sheikh Saaliq at twitter.com/sheikh_saaliq
  • The United States on Friday signed an agreement that paves the way for the U.S. to send many asylum-seekers to one of the world's most violent countries, El Salvador. But both countries must first take necessary legal actions and implement major border security and asylum procedures before it would go into effect, according to a draft copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press. The deal is the latest ambitious step taken by the Trump administration to lean on other nations — many of them notoriously violent — to take in immigrants to stop the flow of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. immigration officials also are forcing more than 42,000 people to remain in Mexico as their cases play out and have changed policy to deny asylum to anyone who transited through a third country en route to the southern border of the U.S. Curbing immigration is a signature political issue for Trump and one that thrills his supporters. But the U.S. is also managing a crush of migrants at the border that has strained the system. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and El Salvador's foreign minister, Alexandra Hill Tinoco, signed the 'cooperative asylum agreement' in a live-streamed press conference on Friday. They lauded the two countries for working together to stem migration to the U.S. but provided few details about the agreement. Condemnation from migrant and refugee advocates was swift. 'Where will they declare a haven for asylum seekers next? Syria? North Korea? This is cynical and absurd. El Salvador is in no way safe for asylum seekers,' said Refugees International President Eric Schwartz. Meghan Lopez, country director for El Salvador at the International Rescue Committee, said the U.S. government is 'attempting once more to turn its back on extremely vulnerable people.' 'El Salvador is not safe for many of its own nationals and is struggling to meet their needs, which is why many seek asylum in the United States. It is unrealistic to expect El Salvador to be able to offer protection to asylum-seekers fleeing conditions comparable to those in El Salvador.' El Salvadorans are excluded from the agreement, according to the draft. McAleenan, who called the agreement 'a big step forward,' and Hill Tinoco discussed U.S. assistance in making El Salvador a safer and more prosperous place for its citizens. Hill Tinoco talked about ending gang violence. 'I mean, those individuals threaten people, those individuals kill people, those individuals request for the poorest and most vulnerable population to pay just to cross the street,' she said, adding that her country needs more investment from the U.S. and other nations. The agreement, first reported by The Associated Press, could lead to migrants from third countries obtaining refuge in El Salvador if they pass through that country on their way to the U.S., Hill Tinoco said in an interview with the AP. But she said most migrants who travel north don't pass through El Salvador, which is on the western edge of Central America and is much smaller geographically than its neighbor to the east, Honduras. She told The AP the details would need to be hammered out, including border security, asylum procedures and potential aid from the U.S. She said the agreement is a starting point, and they expected negotiations on possible aid to continue. 'It has to be a real partnership,' she said, which means the U.S. would have to give something. The country's new president, Nayib Bukele, has made clear he wishes to be an ally to the U.S., Hill Tinoco said. 'It is a complete 180 in terms of foreign policy,' she said. McAleenan said the agreement advanced El Salvador's commitment to developing an asylum framework, with help from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. 'This will build on the good work we have accomplished already with El Salvador's neighbor, Guatemala, in building protection capacity to try to further our efforts to provide opportunities to seek protection for political, racial, religious or social group persecution as close as possible to the origin of individuals that need it,' he said. Guatemala officials are still working on how to implement a 'safe third country' agreement with the U.S. signed earlier this summer. The arrangement with El Salvador was not described as a safe third country agreement, under which nations agree that their respective countries are safe enough and have robust enough asylum systems, so that if migrants transit through one of the countries they must remain there instead of moving on to another country. The U.S. officially has only one such agreement in place, with Canada. The Trump administration this year threatened to withhold all federal assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras unless they did more to end the migrant crisis. The move was met by stiff resistance in Congress as experts had said the cuts would likely only exacerbate the number of migrants seeking to make the hazardous journey to the U.S. because of a further lack of resources. On Thursday, the U.S. announced a plan to promote economic development in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — as long as fewer migrants end up at the U.S. border. Mauricio Claver-Clarone, national security adviser in charge of Latin America, said U.S. investment would occur soon but it was contingent on a continued reduction in the number of migrants. He didn't specify how much Washington plans to give to promote economic growth in those countries. In June, the State Department announced that the Trump administration was reversing some of the cuts but would not approve future aid to those nations. The State Department said then that some $370 million from the 2018 budget will not be spent and instead will be moved to other projects. El Salvador is plagued by gangs and is among the world's deadliest countries, with one of the highest homicide rates on the globe. According to a 2018 State Department report, human rights issues included allegations of 'unlawful killings of suspected gang members and others by security forces; forced disappearances by military personnel; torture by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of government respect for judicial independence.' ___ Associated Press writers Elliot Spagat in San Diego, and Michael Balsamo, Luis Alonzo Lugo and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on tensions in the Persian Gulf (all times local): 9:30 p.m. Yemen's Houthi rebels say they are halting all drone and ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and are waiting for a 'positive response.' The Iran-backed Houthis have claimed recent attacks on key Saudi oil facilities. These attacks have further raised tensions in the region between the U.S. and Iran. The decision was announced Friday night by Mahdi al-Mashat, head of the Houthi's supreme political council, which runs rebel-held areas in Yemen. His comments were carried by the Houthi-run al-Masirah satellite TV. A Saudi-led military coalition has been fighting the Houthis in Yemen since 2015. That conflict has killed tens of thousands of people. The U.S. alleges Iran carried out Sept. 14 attack. Saudi Arabia claims the assault was 'unquestionably sponsored by Iran.' But Iran denies being involved. It warns that any retaliatory strike on it by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will result in 'an all-out war.' ___ 6:20 p.m. The leader of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has called on Saudi Arabia to stop its war in Yemen, or else it will face more attacks on its soil. In a televised speech Friday, Hassan Nasrallah warned Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates not to incite war 'because your houses are made of glass.' Nasrallah says one strike on Saudi Arabia knocked out half of the country's oil production, so 'what will another strike do?' He says buying more air defenses from the U.S. will not help the kingdom defend itself, and adds that Yemen's Houthi rebels have sophisticated missiles and drones. He says Saudi Arabia 'should think well, as a war with Iran will mean their destruction.' ___ 6:10 p.m. As he weighs his options on Iran, President Donald Trump is stressing restraint as he prepares to meet with military leaders. Trump said Friday that during the 2016 presidential campaign, some of his critics warned that he would get the United States into war. Trump says he could have easily ordered military strikes against Iran, but doesn't want to have to do that. Trump has been stepping up financial sanctions on Iran in the wake of attacks on key Saudi oil installations. Iran denies being involved in the attack and its foreign minister warns any retaliatory strike on it by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will result in 'an all-out war.' Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence have condemned the attack on Saudi oil facilities as an 'act of war.' Trump's comments come as he spoke with reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. ___ 5:45 p.m. President Donald Trump says his administration is imposing additional sanctions on Iran following last weekend's attack on Saudi oil facilities, which the administration has blamed on the Islamic Republic. Speaking in the Oval Office Friday during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Trump said: 'We have just sanctioned the Iranian national bank.' Iran denies being involved in the attack. The attacks and recriminations are increasing fears of an escalation in the region. The U.S. has already applied an arsenal of sanctions on Iran since the administration withdrew in November from the 2015 nuclear deal. Still, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the latest sanctions demonstrate the U.S. is continuing a maximum pressure campaign, asserting 'we have now cut off all funds to Iran.' ___ 3:50 p.m. Saudi Arabia has taken journalists to the site of a missile-and-drone attack on a facility at the heart of the kingdom's oil industry. Journalists arrived Friday to Buqayq in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, home to the Abqaiq oil processing facility. That facility was hit in an attack Sept. 14 that halved the kingdom's oil production and has disrupted global energy supplies. The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the attack. Saudi Arabia says the assault was 'unquestionably sponsored by Iran.' Iran denies being involved in the attack and warns any retaliatory strike on it by the U.S. or the kingdom will result in 'an all-out war.' Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels claimed the assault, but analysts say the missiles used wouldn't have enough range to reach the site from Yemen. ___ 1:55 p.m. Kuwait says it has raised security levels at its ports given ongoing regional tensions following an attack on Saudi Arabia. The state-run KUNA news agency reported the decision Friday, quoting Kuwait's minister of commerce and industry as making the announcement. Khaled al-Roudhan said it affected both commercial ports and oil facilities. Small, oil-rich Kuwait separately has told its military to be on heightened alert since the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Arabia. That attack halved the kingdom's oil production and has disrupted global energy supplies. The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the attack. Saudi Arabia says the assault was 'unquestionably sponsored by Iran.' Iran denies being involved in the attack and warns any retaliatory strike on it by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia will result in 'an all-out war.
  • Thomas Cook, one of the world's oldest and largest travel companies, is facing a race against time to stay afloat and ensure that around 150,000 British holidaymakers traveling abroad can get home. The debt-laden tour operator confirmed Friday it was seeking 200 million pounds ($250 million) in extra funding to avoid its collapse. If Thomas Cook goes under, Britain's Civil Aviation Authority would likely be ordered to launch a major repatriation operation to fly stranded vacationer home. The company says it is in talks with stakeholders such as leading Chinese shareholder Fosun to bridge a funding gap. The money required would be a 'seasonal stand-by facility' and come on top of the 900 million pounds of new capital already raised, Thomas Cook said in a statement Friday. 'The recapitalization is expected to result in existing shareholders' interests being significantly diluted, with significant risk of no recovery,' it said. In May, Thomas Cook reported in half-year results that it had a net debt burden of 1.25 billion pounds. It said political uncertainty related to Britain's departure from the European Union had led to softer demand for summer holidays. The company said higher fuel and hotel costs also were weighing on business. A spokesman for Royal Bank of Scotland, one of Thomas Cook's lenders, said the bank 'has provided considerable support' to the tour operator over many years and 'continues to work with all parties in order to try and find a resolution to the funding and liquidity shortfall.' Any failure to raise the required capital would elicit questions about the jobs of the 22,000 staff Thomas Cook employs around the world, including 9,000 in Britain. 'It is appalling that banks that owe their very existence to handouts from the British taxpayer show no allegiance to a great British company, Thomas Cook, when it needs help,' said Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association. 'If Thomas Cook goes into administration it will cost the taxpayer as much to repatriate holidaymakers as it would cost to save Thomas Cook,' Strutton added. Shares in the company dived 19% on Friday.
  • Notre Dame Cathedral has far to go to recover from a destructive fire but a hardy copper rooster that once topped the spire is serving as a reminder that all wasn't lost. Roosters are a symbol of France. The small bird that adorned Notre Dame plunged to the ground in the April fire that collapsed the spire and consumed the roof. High heat and the long fall deformed the cathedral-capping rooster, but it survived and is going on public display this weekend. French Culture Minister Frank Riester says the rooster is a 'witness to what happened in this terrible fire.' Riester said Friday that work to stabilize the cathedral's structure continues and reconstruction isn't expected to start for at least a few months. Notre Dame will be closed to the public for several years.
  • Get ready to hear about global warming — or the 'climate emergency ' as the United Nations is calling it. In the next week, there will be climate strikes, climate summits, climate debates, a dire climate science report, climate pledges by countries and businesses, promises of climate financial help and more between now and next Friday. There will even be a bit of climate poetry, film and music. Much of it is being spurred by the world's youth. 'We're about to start an extraordinary series of events over the next few days,' said Rachel Kyte, special representative on sustainable energy for the United Nations secretary-general. 'The climate emergency is being declared by people, and especially young people on the streets the world over. And this is about an appropriate response to that emergency.' The centerpiece is the U.N. climate summit, called by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The U.N. chief said he will be pressuring countries to promise to reduce carbon pollution even more than they did in the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement. These next steps weren't due until 2020, but Guterres wants them earlier and he wants them to be harsher. Essentially, he's hoping that by midcentury the world will be adding no more heat-trapping gases to Earth's atmosphere. Hundreds of businesses, cities, states and organizations will also be at the meeting to pledge their own pollution cuts and offer financial help to poorer nations trying to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources. He said the idea is to come out of the summit, not with all problems solved 'but with enhanced momentum.' John Reilly, an MIT economist who has been working on global warming issues for about 40 years, says he's never seen a busier or more important time. 'This is a new milestone in trying to move ahead on climate change because we have both attention of international organizations and governments and activism by people,' Reilly said. This burst of events comes as scientists say the world's climate is getting even wilder, hotter and more dangerous. 'We are seeing more impacts of climate disruption, because we are pushing the climate further and further from its natural state,' said Stanford University environmental sciences chief Chris Field. After a two-day presidential candidates' forum Thursday and Friday, the action really gets heated. Activists on Friday were launching a series of climate strikes, with thousands of youths walking out of class in the United States and around the globe. And they plan to strike again on Sept. 27. 'I don't want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists,' Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, who drives the climate strike movement, told a United States House committee this week. 'I want you to unite behind the science and then I want you to take action.' That leads to a first United Nations Youth Climate Summit on Saturday, where young activists will make their demands, including no more construction of new fossil fuel power plants, to world leaders. 'The reality is my generation has been committed to a planet that is collapsing,' said U.S. youth climate activist Jamie Margolin of Seattle. 'Youth climate activism should not have to exist.' On Monday, leaders from across the world gather at the climate summit in New York. The U.N. chief wants the world's carbon pollution to be cut by 45% in the next decade. 'I told leaders not to come with fancy speeches, but with concrete commitments,' Guterres said. 'We expect countries to commit to carbon neutrality in 2050.' Germany's environment minister Svenja Schulze said her country is aiming for 100% renewable energy, phasing out coal by 2038 at the latest and changing how it is heating houses. 'We must act now if we want to avoid climate catastrophe,' Schulze said. 'We are not alone. Every country needs to act.' The German government will present a plan Friday for how it wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Europe's biggest economy more than half by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. At the U.N., all eyes will be on President Donald Trump, who is planning to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement. He has yet to commit to speaking at the climate part of the U.N. meeting, while other leaders such as France's Emmanuel Macron have. On the same day Trump and other leaders are in New York, climate activists plan to try to block intersections in Washington. On Wednesday, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will issue a special science report on climate change's effects on the oceans and the world's ice and the outlook for seas to rise higher than previously thought. These years-in-the-making massive research reports — which have to be unanimously approved by nations across the globe — grab attention and often increase worries about warming. In the next few days, the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the United States will announce that Arctic sea ice either tied for second — or hit second by itself — for the lowest summer ice amount. This is after a record setting melt and heat over Greenland this summer. Summer this year tied for the hottest in the Northern Hemisphere on record, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since the first time global leaders met to discuss climate change and other environmental issues in June 1992, the world has warmed by nearly a degree (0.54 degrees Celsius) and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have gone up 15 percent, according to NOAA data. Three of the four biggest annual increases in heat-trapping carbon dioxide were in 2016, 2015 and 2018. 'Climate change is no longer just unequivocal, it is now ubiquitous,' University of Michigan environment dean Jonathan Overpeck said. 'Record floods and rains, unprecedented heatwaves, countries being devastated by climate supercharged storms, water supplies dwindling due to hotter drought, an Arctic meltdown and coasts being submerged around the globe. All were predicted years ago, and all are now happening.' Said U.N. chief Guterres on Thursday: 'Let's face it. We have no time to lose. We are losing the race against climate change.' ___ Read more stories on climate issues by The Associated Press at https://www.apnews.com/Climate Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears . ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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  • As the city prepares to demolish the Jacksonville Landing, a team is working to salvage some of the items inside. The biggest item Annie Murphy and her team at Eco Relics have salvaged so far from the building is the bar top from Hooters. It's for sale at their shop on Stockton Street.  'We're all about keeping stuff out of landfills, that's our mission,' Murphy said.  They expect to salvage up to 160 items from the iconic landmark before it is torn down, from doors and windows to artwork and lighting.  'It is really cool to see people recognizing certain things, longtime Jacksonville residents,' Murphy said.  She said they were able to salvage some items inside the buildings along the river earlier this month. They can't access the rest of the building until the last tenant moves out in October.  A city spokesperson said over the next couple of weeks, the contractor will be stripping out items not attached to the building structure and then heavy equipment will begin the demolition.  It's expected to be complete by June 2020.  Murphy said the pieces of Jacksonville history her team pulls from the building will be for sale as they're salvaged.
  • A North Carolina sheriff stands accused of urging the murder of a former deputy who had a recording of him using racially offensive language, authorities say. Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday on two counts of felony obstruction of justice, according to court records. Wilkins is accused of trying to get another man to kill former Deputy Joshua Freeman, who he believed was going to expose his racist talk. >> Read more trending news  Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who is prosecuting the case, said Wilkins' Aug. 12, 2014, phone conversation with the 'well-known' man who threatened Joshua Freeman's life was caught on tape, according to The News & Observer in Raleigh. Lorrin Freeman and Joshua Freeman are not related. Joshua Freeman worked for the Sheriff's Office from November 2011 to August 2014 but was let go in the days leading up to Wilkins' alleged crimes, WRAL in Raleigh reported. Wilkins, who was reelected in 2018 for a third four-year term, is accused of advising the unnamed man to kill Joshua Freeman, 'whom the defendant knew to have expressed his intention to soon publicly reveal a purported audio recording of the sheriff using racially offensive language to authorities in Raleigh,' the indictment states. The court records do not detail what Wilkins is alleged to have said, or what ultimately happened to the recording of his words. The indictment against the sheriff alleges Wilkins encouraged the man to 'take care of it' and said, 'The only way you gonna stop him is kill him.' According to the indictment, Wilkins counseled the would-be gunman on how to kill Joshua Freeman in a way to avoid getting caught. He offered two tips, according to the document: Get rid of the murder weapon and keep quiet. 'You ain't got the weapon, you ain't got nothing to go on,' Wilkins allegedly told the man, the court records allege. 'The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can't tell nobody nothin', not a thing.' Wilkins and the individual discussed a time in which to kill Joshua Freeman and a location that would ensure it would be Wilkins' own Granville County Sheriff's Office investigators who would get the case, the indictment says. Wilkins assured the man he would not tell investigators of his prior knowledge of the crime. The indictment accuses Wilkins of failing to prevent harm to Joshua Freeman or warn him of the 'credible threat' to his life. It alleges the sheriff also failed to seize the gun the other man planned to use, despite the person showing him the weapon at one point. 'The defendant failed to properly execute his duties because of his personal animosity towards Joshua Freeman,' the indictment states. Joshua Freeman was never harmed, though the indictment offers no indication why the alleged plot failed. Wilkins went before a magistrate Monday and was released on $20,000 unsecured bond. Court records show he was ordered to have no contact with anyone named in the indictment. He was also ordered to surrender his passport, if he has one. Read the indictment against Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins below.  Brindell Wilkins Indictment by National Content Desk on Scribd 'No one is above the law,' Lorrin Freeman said Monday, according to WRAL. 'It is always painful when someone who has the public trust faces these types of allegations for voters who put them in that place. 'Any time you have someone who is sworn to uphold the public trust, to protect their community, to investigate and report crimes, allegedly engage in this type of conduct, it is something that needs to be brought to justice, and so we will continue to follow the evidence in this case.' Several followers of Wilkins' public Facebook page offered support in the wake of the indictment. 'You will always have our support,' one woman wrote. 'Praying for you and your family.' 'Our friendship goes back 30 years or more and you have always been a great friend to me,' another woman wrote. 'You were there for me many times. I believe in you and you have my support, always.' Lorrin Freeman said Wake County is handling the case because Mike Waters, her counterpart in Granville County, could potentially become an important witness at trial. Waters, who addressed the case in a statement on his office's Facebook page, wrote to Lorrin Freeman in November to ask her to look into the case. Watch Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman discuss the case below, courtesy of the News & Observer. WRAL reported that Joshua Freeman, who Waters represented in 2014 while in private practice, gave the future prosecutor the tape recording of Wilkins' conversation with the man who talked of killing the former deputy. It was not clear Friday how Freeman obtained the recording. Waters said he immediately turned the tape over to the FBI. The Washington Post reported that Waters met with North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agents about the recording in January 2017, but nothing happened. 'Quite frankly, it did not get to the top of their investigative list,' Lorrin Freeman told WRAL about SBI agents. Waters gave the recording to a different SBI agent in October 2018, but still, no investigation was initiated, the Post reported. That is when Waters turned to Lorrin Freeman to initiate a probe into the sheriff. She agreed. 'I have reviewed this recording,' Lorrin Freeman wrote to SBI agents, according to the Post. 'It contains a conversation between two individuals, one of whom appears to be the Granville County sheriff, about a former deputy sheriff and culminates in a discussion about committing a homicide.' In his Facebook statement, Waters expressed frustration at the amount of time it took to get an investigation going. 'At all times since (turning over the recording), I have provided assistance to investigators, and once Ms. Freeman opened a criminal investigation, have urged that this matter be given investigative priority,' Waters wrote. 'I understand it is a matter of great importance to the people of Granville County, and it has been a point of frustration that the investigative process has not been more expeditious.' He wrote that any allegations of wrongdoing by law enforcement are troubling, particularly when they involve a sheriff elected by the community. 'Over the next few months, my office will continue to lend assistance to the ongoing investigation as requested, while we continue to do our daily work of protecting victims, prosecuting those who violate the law and seeing that justice is administered,' Waters said. WRAL reported Lorrin Freeman said she worked to obtain obstruction charges against Wilkins because obstruction would be easier to prove in the five-year old case than solicitation of murder or conspiracy. The Granville County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to discuss the indictment, but County Attorney Jim Wrenn said the board has no authority to remove Wilkins, an elected official, from office as his criminal case winds its way through the court system, WRAL reported. Lorrin Freeman confirmed that fact to the News & Observer. 'Technically, he can continue to serve if he chooses, until convicted,' Freeman told the newspaper. Spectrum News' Charlotte bureau reported that Wilkins has indicated he will not step down. Wrenn said he is considering trying to get Wilkins out of office through the courts but wants to hear the recording himself before making that decision. Gerry Cohen, former special counsel to the North Carolina General Assembly, said state law has a provision allowing a judge to suspend a sheriff and allow a county commission to appoint a temporary replacement pending the outcome of a criminal case. 'The statute is there to allow removal of sheriff,' Cohen told Spectrum News. 'One of six causes is, in fact, conviction of felony. Others are some of the things in his indictment, like willful misconduct, corruption, willful neglect or refusal to perform duties of his office. Some of them match the charges in his indictment.' The News & Observer reported that the probe into Wilkins' alleged actions against Joshua Freeman has led to investigations of the Granville County Sheriff's Office's accounting practices, as well as the operations of its drug unit. Freeman was a member of the drug unit when he was with the agency. 'Part of this investigation has centered on why this sort of conversation would have occurred, what the underlying motivation would have been,' Lorrin Freeman said Tuesday, according to the newspaper. 'Additional information has come to light regarding operations and accounting practices of the Granville County narcotics interdiction team.' Those investigations remain ongoing.
  • President Donald Trump called reports that a U.S. intelligence official filed a whistleblower complaint against him last month 'a ridiculous story' while speaking Friday to reporters in the Oval Office. >> Read more trending news  According to the Washington Post, the president made an unspecified 'promise' to an unidentified foreign leader that concerned the intelligence official. The official filed a complaint Aug. 12, two anonymous former U.S. officials told the newspaper, though lawmakers said Thursday they had yet to see the complaint. The intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to reveal the substance of the complaint. Update 7:40 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: Former Vice President Joe Biden has released a statement on the whistleblower's complaint against President Trump. In it, Biden describes Trump's alleged behavior as 'abhorrent' and calls on him to release a full transcript of the call 'so that the American people can be judged for themselves.' The entire statement reads: Update 4:40 p.m. EDT Sept 20: The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The Journal reported Trump asked Zelensky to work with Rudy Giuliani to determine whether Biden 'worked to shield from investigation a Ukrainian gas company with ties to his son, Hunter Biden.'  Trump made the request about eight times during a phone call in July, according to the Journal. Trump was asked Friday if be brought up Biden in the call with Zelenskiy, and he answered, 'It doesn't matter what I discussed.' But then he used the moment to urge the media 'to look into' Biden's background with Ukraine. Trump and Zelenskiy are to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations next week. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the person behind the complaint filed against him was a 'partisan whistleblower' who 'shouldn't even have information,' though he added that he did not know the person's identity. 'I don't even know exactly who you're talking about,' Trump said. 'I don't know the identity of the whistleblower. I just hear it's a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party.' Trump said Friday that he's spoken with several world leaders and that his conversations with them were 'always appropriate.' Details surrounding the complaint remained unclear Friday afternoon, though The Washington Post and The New York Times reported at least some of the allegations centered on Ukraine. Both newspapers cited unidentified sources. Asked if he knew if the whistleblower's complaint centered on a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the president responded 'I really don't know' but continued to insist any phone call he made with a head of state was 'perfectly fine and respectful.' Update 9:50 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: The whistleblower complaint against Donald Trump centers around Ukraine, two anonymous sources confirmed to The Washington Post Thursday evening. The New York Times and ABC News are also citing anonymous sources, saying the complaint involves Ukraine. It's not clear exactly how Ukraine fits into the allegations. However, Trump spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, the Post reported. That call was already under investigation by House Democrats, who are looking into whether Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, tried to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping with Trump's re-election campaign, according to The Post. Update 1:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 19:  The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee suggested Thursday that lawmakers could ask a judge to compel White House officials to share with Congress a whistleblower complaint allegedly filed last month against Trump. The complaint was filed Aug. 12 and involved an undisclosed 'promise' made by the president to an unidentified foreign leader, CNN reported Atkinson declined to share details of the complaint during a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, citing a lack of authorization. 'We do know that the Department of Justice has been involved in the decision to withhold that information from Congress,' Schiff told reporters Thursday. 'We do not know -- because we cannot get an answer to the question -- about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress.' He said lawmakers had yet to see the complaint by Thursday afternoon. 'We do not know whether press reports are accurate or inaccurate about the contents of the complaint,' he said. Earlier Thursday, the president denied having done anything inappropriate. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: Trump on Thursday denied any wrongdoing after reports claimed a whistleblower had come forward with a complaint about the president making an unspecified promise to a foreign leader. 'Another Fake News story out there - it never ends!' Trump wrote Thursday in a tweet. 'Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. 'Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially 'heavily populated' call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!' Original report: The promise occurred during a phone conversation with the leader, one source told the Post. Details about the alleged pledge and the leader's identity was not immediately available. Although Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general, believed that the whistleblower complaint warranted 'urgent concern,' acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire so far has declined to provide information about the communication to the House Intelligence Committee, the Post reported. A closed hearing with Atkinson is slated for Thursday, the committee said. Maguire is expected to testify publicly Sept. 26, according to the committee's chairman, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A Massachusetts man in his 70s has died after contracting Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, state health officials said Friday. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said the man was a resident of Freetown, a town about 50 miles south of Boston, according to WFXT. 'Our most sincere sympathy, thoughts and prayers go out to the victim, to their family and their loved ones,' town officials said in a news release. The man was identified as having the 10th confirmed human case of EEE in the state. Officials said eight other cases of EEE have been confirmed in animals, including seven horses and a goat. The man's death was the second reported in the state from EEE. At least two other EEE-related deaths have been reported in recent weeks in Rhode Island and Michigan. 'We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites,' Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said Friday in a news release. “The unusually warm weather expected this weekend will increase outdoor activity among people and mosquitoes. It is absolutely essential that people take steps to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.” Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said several cases of EEE are reported each year, most often in states along the Gulf Coast. The mosquito-borne virus is rare, but serious, and can affect people of all ages, Massachusetts health officials said. Boston25News.com contributed to this report.
  • Here is a look at what impeachment is and why it doesn’t necessarily mean removal from office. How does impeachment work? Impeachment was established by the framers of the Constitution as a way to accuse a president of a crime and to hold a trial to determine if he is guilty of that crime. The Constitution lays out two specific actions, treason and bribery, that could lead to impeachment and removal of a president from office. The system also allows for a broader category to accuse a president of crime, although that category is more vague. A president can also be charged with and found guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” What exactly constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors is not defined in the Constitution, making impeachment on that basis more difficult. By design, it is not easy to get rid of a president. Here are the steps in the process for impeaching a president: First, an impeachment resolution must be introduced by a member of the House of Representatives. The speaker of the House must then direct the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary (or a special committee) to hold a hearing on the resolution to decide whether to put the measure to a vote by the full chamber and when to hold such a vote. A simple majority of the Judiciary Committee must approve the resolution. If the Judiciary Committee approves the resolution, it moves to a full vote on the House floor. If a simple majority of the those present and voting in the House approve an article of impeachment, then the president is impeached. The procedure then moves to the Senate where a “trial” is held to determine if the president committed a crime. There is no set procedure for the trial. How it is conducted would be set by the Senate leadership. Members of the House serve as “managers” in the Senate trial. Managers serve a similar role as prosecutors do in a criminal trial, they present evidence during the procedure. The president would have counsel to represent him at the Senate process. The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides over the trial. Senators listen to the evidence presented, including closing arguments from each side and retire to deliberate. Senators then reconvene and vote on whether the president is guilty or not guilty of the crimes he is accused of. It takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict. If the president is found guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president is sworn-in as president. The hearing in the Senate, along with a charge in the House that the president has committed a crime is not a legal one. No penalty, other than removal from office, is brought against a president in an impeachment hearing. Impeachment trials have been held twice in the country’s history -- for President Andrew Johnson and for President Bill Clinton -- and both ended in acquittals: meaning the presidents were impeached by the House, but not convicted and removed from office by the Senate. One vote kept Johnson from being convicted of firing the secretary of war in 1868, which went against a tenure act. In 1999, the Senate was 22 votes shy of convicting Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by Paula Jones.

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