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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

October 01, 2017 - 8:05 PM

"Yes" side wins Catalonia independence vote marred by chaos

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Catalonia's regional government declared a landslide win for the "yes" side in a disputed referendum on independence from Spain that degenerated into mayhem Sunday, with more than 800 people injured as riot police attacked peaceful protesters and unarmed civilians trying to cast their ballots.

Catalonia has "won the right to become an independent state," Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said after the polls closed, adding that he would keep his pledge to declare independence unilaterally if the "yes" side wins.

"Today the Spanish state wrote another shameful page in its history with Catalonia," Puigdemont added, saying he would appeal to the European Union to look into alleged human rights violations during the vote.

Catalan regional government spokesman Jordi Turull told reporters early Monday that 90 per cent of the 2.26 million Catalans who voted chose the "yes" side in favour of independence. He said nearly 8 per cent of voters rejected independence and the rest of the ballots were blank or void. He said 15,000 votes were still being counted.

The region has 5.3 million registered voters, and Turull said the number of ballots didn't include those confiscated by Spanish police during violent raids that aimed to stop the vote.

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OJ Simpson freed; parole official says he'll live in Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Officials at a remote Nevada prison where O.J. Simpson was set free early Sunday after nine years for armed robbery arranged the former football and Hollywood star's dead-of-night departure to avoid public scrutiny.

It worked. Simpson signed release paperwork just before midnight and disappeared into the darkness minutes into the first day he was eligible for release. Through efforts by prison officials to keep the time and place secret, there were no journalists outside the prison gates to capture the moment.

Though publicity-prone in the past, Simpson apparently took the advice of people in his inner circle that he avoid the spotlight. He was neither heard from nor seen publicly, except when a television news crew found him in a car at a gas station on the way to Las Vegas and he declined to be interviewed.

State Division of Parole and Probation Capt. Shawn Arruti told The Associated Press that the former football hero and celebrity criminal defendant plans to live at a home in the Las Vegas area for the foreseeable future. Arruti declined for what he said were security and privacy reasons to disclose the exact location of the house.

Simpson was released at 12:08 a.m. PDT from Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada, state prisons spokeswoman Brooke Keast told AP. She said she didn't know the name of the driver who met him and took him to an undisclosed location.

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10 Things to Know for Monday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:

1. WHAT TRUMP CALLS TILLERSON'S NKOREA TALKS

The U.S. secretary of state is "wasting his time" trying to negotiate with Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs, the president says.

2. TRUMP SLAMS CRITICS OF PUERTO RICO RESPONSE

The president brushes off "politically motivated ingrates" after he's blamed for providing insufficient aid to Puerto Rico, which is suffering from widespread devastation after Hurricane Maria.

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2 women plead not guilty in N. Korean scion's assassination

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia (AP) — Two women accused of fatally poisoning the estranged half brother of North Korea's ruler pleaded not guilty as their trial began Monday in Malaysia's High Court, nearly eight months after the brazen airport assassination.

Siti Aisyah of Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam are suspected of smearing Kim Jong Nam's face with the banned VX nerve agent on Feb. 13 at a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur, killing him within about 20 minutes. The women say they thought they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden-camera show.

After asking for the charges to be read in their native languages, the women shook their heads when asked if they were guilty.

The women are the only suspects in custody in a killing that South Korea's spy agency said was part of a five-year plot by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to kill a brother he reportedly never met. Police say several North Koreans suspected of involvement left the country on the day of the attack and others were allowed to leave later in a diplomatic deal with Pyongyang.

Lawyers for two women, who face the death penalty if convicted, asked the court to compel prosecutors to identify four people still at large mentioned in the charge sheet as having a common intention to kill Kim.

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Trump says envoy 'wasting his time' talking to North Korea

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Sunday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was "wasting his time" trying to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs, raising speculation about whether Trump could be undermining efforts to maintain channels of communication or somehow bolstering the diplomat's hand in possible future talks.

It was not immediately clear what prompted Trump's tweets, among a series of weekend posts that ranged from hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico to NFL players' allegiance to the national anthem, and at whom they were aimed: Tillerson, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, those pushing for continued diplomacy, those favouring a military response to repeated provocations.

Tillerson had acknowledged on Saturday, after meetings in Beijing with Chinese leaders, that the Trump administration was keeping open direct channels of communications with North Korea and probing the North's willingness to talk.

He provided no elaboration about those channels or the substance of any discussions. After he left China, his spokeswoman issued a statement saying that North Korean officials "have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization."

And then Trump weighed in the next day with tweets that included his usual personal dig at Kim.

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Trump attends golf tournament, defends hurricane response.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump spent Sunday afternoon attending a high-profile golf tournament, signalling that he will not be cowed by critics of his response to Hurricane Maria.

Earlier Sunday, Trump had scoffed at "politically motivated ingrates" who had questioned his administration's commitment to rebuilding Puerto Rico after the pulverizing storm and assured Americans there had been "tremendous progress."

The remarks, in tweets and from the manicured green, demonstrated Trump's defiance in the face of charges that he has been distracted and his administration slow to respond to the U.S. territory's struggle to restore power and basic services in the two weeks after the storm. Neither those charges, nor his past criticism of his predecessor for golfing during a crisis, kept him from attending The Presidents Cup.

After staying Saturday at his own New Jersey golf club, Trump travelled Sunday to Jersey City, where he spent the afternoon in the hospitality suite perched above the Liberty National Golf Club's 14th hole. He was on hand to present the tournament's trophy to Team U.S.A., which he dedicated to the people of Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida still recovering from hurricane devastation.

"I want to just remember them and we're going to dedicate this trophy to all of those people that went through so much, that we love," he said, adding of Puerto Rico: "We have it under really great control."

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San Juan mayor in hurricane spotlight after Trump tweets

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — In Puerto Rico's hurricane-ravaged capital, it seems Carmen Yulin Cruz is everywhere these days: handing out bags of ice, wading through chest-deep floodwaters, hugging people in need of comfort.

Cruz has long won attention across the island for her hands-on style of leadership in San Juan. But this week she rose to international prominence as a target of Twitter attacks by U.S. President Donald Trump — including one tweet Sunday calling her and others "politically motivated ingrates."

The insult came hours after "Saturday Night Live" portrayed Cruz in a skit highlighting the latest controversy for the 54-year-old former human resources executive, who occupies one of Puerto Rico's most powerful posts and has become something of a divisive figure on the island of 3.4 million residents.

Some of Puerto Rico's mayors have praised federal hurricane relief efforts, while others have joined Cruz in saying they have been insufficient and slow-moving.

In a U.S. territory whose relationship with the mainland is usually the single most prominent political issue, Cruz backs independence but is a member of the Popular Democratic Party, which supports maintaining the territorial status quo. A graduate of Boston University and Carnegie Mellon, she is also a former member of the island's House of Representatives.

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Supreme Court opens pivotal term with Trump nominee in place

WASHINGTON (AP) — Disputes over a wedding cake for a same-sex couple and partisan electoral maps top the Supreme Court's agenda in the first full term of the Trump presidency. Conservatives will look for a boost from the newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, in a year that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said will be momentous.

President Donald Trump's travel ban appears likely to disappear from the court's docket, at least for now.

But plenty of high-profile cases remain.

The justices will hear important cases that touch on gay rights and religious freedoms, the polarized American electorate, the government's ability to track people without search warrants, employees' rights to band together over workplace disputes and states' rights to allow betting on professional and college sporting events.

Last year, "they didn't take a lot of major cases because they didn't want to be deadlocked 4-to-4," said Eric Kasper, director of the Center for constitutional Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. "This year, that problem doesn't present itself."

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How a 2012 attack ushered in an era of terror for France

PARIS (AP) — Soon after Mohammed Merah's life ended in a torrent of explosions and bullets, the mother of his first victim swore she would devote her life to ensuring that no other parents would suffer as she had.

But since the 2012 assault on a Jewish school and soldiers left seven people dead, France has endured a seemingly endless series of attacks and near-misses from extremists with the same background. Merah was the model they hoped to imitate and surpass.

Beginning with that attack, Islamic extremists — most of them homegrown — have killed nearly 250 people in France, far more than anywhere else in Western Europe. The death toll might have increased on Sunday when two women were killed in a knife attack in Marseille by a man whose motives were not yet known.

"I said, 'Watch out, there are Merahs everywhere! You have to do something,'" said Latifa Ibn Ziaten, whose son, Imad, was a French paratrooper when Merah shot and killed him on March 11, 2012. "But, unfortunately, no one heard me at first. I think they believed it was just a mother's grief."

Within eight days, Merah attacked other French soldiers and a Jewish school in Toulouse. In all, he killed seven people, including three children in France's first Islamic extremist attack in 17 years.

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Saints kneel before, not during, anthem as NFL Week 4 begins

New Orleans Saints players, coaches and staff knelt before the start of the national anthem but stood in unison once it began ahead of their game against the Miami Dolphins at London's Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

A week ago, demonstrations were organized across the NFL in response to President Donald Trump's criticism of players who kneel during the national anthem. The Jacksonville Jaguars' Shad Khan was the first owner to join his players before the game, standing arm-in-arm with them.

Some on the Saints' sideline stood arm-in-arm on Sunday, and others had their hands over their hearts. On the Dolphins' sideline, only tight end Julius Thomas, safety Michael Thomas and wide receiver Kenny Stills remained on one knee while Darius Rucker sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."

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For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
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