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

September 16, 2017 - 8:05 PM

Cuba mystery: What theories US investigators are pursuing

WASHINGTON (AP) — There must be an answer.

Whatever is harming U.S. diplomats in Havana, it's eluded the doctors, scientists and intelligence analysts scouring for answers. Investigators have chased many theories, including a sonic attack, electromagnetic weapon or flawed spying device.

Each explanation seems to fit parts of what's happened, conflicting with others.

The United States doesn't even know what to call it. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used the phrase "health attacks." The State Department prefers "incidents."

Either way, suspicion has fallen on Cuba. But investigators also are examining whether a rogue faction of its security services, another country such as Russia, or some combination is to blame, more than a dozen U.S. officials familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press.

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US coastal growth continues despite lessons of past storms

Rising sea levels and fierce storms have failed to stop relentless population growth along U.S. coasts in recent years, a new Associated Press analysis shows. The latest punishing hurricanes scored bull's-eyes on two of the country's fastest growing regions: coastal Texas around Houston and resort areas of southwest Florida.

Nothing seems to curb America's appetite for life near the sea, especially in the warmer climates of the South. Coastal development destroys natural barriers such as islands and wetlands, promotes erosion and flooding, and positions more buildings and people in the path of future destruction, according to researchers and policy advisers who study hurricanes.

"History gives us a lesson, but we don't always learn from it," said Graham Tobin, a disaster researcher at the University of South Florida in Tampa. That city took a glancing hit from Hurricane Irma — one of the most intense U.S. hurricanes in years — but suffered less flooding and damage than some other parts of the state.

In 2005, coastal communities took heed of more than 1,800 deaths and $108 billion in damages from Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst disasters in U.S. history. Images of New Orleans under water elicited solemn resolutions that such a thing should never happen again — until Superstorm Sandy inundated lower Manhattan in 2012. Last year, Hurricane Matthew spread more deaths, flooding and blackouts across Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. From 2010-2016, major hurricanes and tropical storms are blamed for more than 280 deaths and $100 billion in damages, according to data from the federal National Centers for Environmental Information.

Harvey, another historically big hurricane, flooded sections of Houston in recent weeks. Four counties around Houston, where growth has been buoyed by the oil business, took the full force of the storm. The population of those counties expanded by 12 per cent from 2010 to 2016, to a total of 5.3 million people, the AP analysis shows.

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Pro-Trump rally draws hundreds, not thousands to Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) — Organizers had dubbed it the Mother of All Rallies and hoped to bring out thousands to pack the National Mall on Saturday in support of President Donald Trump. In the end, hundreds of flag-waving demonstrators did their best to make some noise in support of the president, who had skipped town for the weekend.

The pro-Trump rally was part of a day of diverse political demonstrations in the nation's capital that highlighted the stark political divisions in the United States. It was preceded Saturday morning by a small anti-Trump protest near the White House, where about two dozen people demanded tougher action against Russian President Vladimir Putin in retaliation for Moscow's interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Wearing T-shirts that read, "We're not PUTIN up with this anymore," the demonstrators staged a brief rally before marching to the nearby home of the Russian ambassador.

While the pro-Trump demonstrators clearly outnumbered the anti-Trump contingent, both sides were dwarfed by the juggalos, as supporters of the rap group Insane Clown Posse are known. In front of the Lincoln Memorial, about 1,500 juggalos staged an all-day rally and concert to protest what they say is class-based discrimination by law enforcement.

A 2011 report by the Justice Department's Gang Task Force labeled the juggalos, who favour extensive tattoos and outlandish face paint, a "loosely organized hybrid gang." It's the same classification used for overtly violent gangs such as the Bloods and the Crips.

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UK makes 'significant' bomb arrest but attack seen imminent

LONDON (AP) — British police made an apparent breakthrough Saturday in the race-against-time subway bombing investigation with what they called a "very significant" arrest, but the country remained on a "critical" alert, meaning that another attack is judged imminent.

Police arrested an 18-year-old man in the port of Dover — the main ferry link to France — and then launched a massive armed search in the southwestern London suburb of Sunbury in which they evacuated residents, established a huge cordon and imposed a no-fly zone above the property being searched.

Police did not say that they had nabbed the man believed to have planted the bomb that partially exploded on a crowded London subway train Friday morning, but Home Secretary Amber Rudd and others said the arrest was of major importance.

The man is being held under the Terrorism Act and has been brought to London for questioning. His identity is a closely guarded secret and police have implored the press not to speculate while the inquiry unfolds. Authorities would not say if they thought the man was trying to flee to France on a Dover ferry.

It's clear that Britain's police and security services are still worried. Hundreds of soldiers patrolled public areas Saturday, freeing up police for the bombing investigation. Rudd said the country's terror threat level — which was raised Friday night to the highest possible level — will stay there until the independent Joint Terrorism Analysis Center is convinced the threat of imminent attack has eased.

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St. Louis protests peaceful at malls, shopping district

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Noisy demonstrators disrupted shopping at upscale suburban St. Louis shopping malls and marched through a popular district of bars and restaurants Saturday in peaceful protests over the acquittal of a white St. Louis police officer who fatally shot a black man, and there was no sign of the sporadic vandalism and violence that marred the rallies a night earlier.

A few hundred people shouted slogans such as "black lives matter" and "it is our duty to fight for our freedom" as they marched through West County Center mall in Des Peres to decry the judge's verdict Friday clearing ex-officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith.

A short time later, a group demonstrated at Chesterfield Mall and a regional food festival.

On Saturday evening, hundreds of protesters marched through the Delmar Loop of the St. Louis suburb of University City — known for concert venues, restaurants, shops and bars and including the famous Blueberry Hill where rock legend Chuck Berry played for many years. After three hours, organizers of marching, organizers asked protesters to disband Saturday evening and reconvene Sunday afternoon.

No arrests were reported at any of the events on Saturday.

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World leaders face crises in North Korea and Myanmar at UN

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Facing an escalating nuclear threat from North Korea and the mass flight of minority Muslims from Myanmar, world leaders gather at the United Nations starting Monday to tackle these and other tough challenges — from the spread of terrorism to a warming planet.

The spotlight will be on U.S. President Donald Trump and France's new leader, Emmanuel Macron, who will both be making their first appearance at the General Assembly. They will be joined by more than 100 heads of state and government, including Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders who is said to be bringing a 70-member entourage.

While Trump's speeches and meetings will be closely followed, it will be North Korea, which Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls "the most dangerous crisis that we face today," that will be most carefully watched. No official event addressing Pyongyang's relentless campaign to develop nuclear weapons capable of hitting the United States is on the U.N. agenda, but it is expected to be the No. 1 issue for most leaders.

Not far behind will be the plight of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims, victims of what Guterres calls a campaign of ethnic cleansing that has driven nearly 400,000 to flee to Bangladesh in the past three weeks. The Security Council, in its first statement on Myanmar in nine years, condemned the violence and called for immediate steps to end it. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is hosting a closed meeting on the crisis Monday, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's contact group on the Rohingyas is scheduled to meet Tuesday.

Guterres said leaders would also be focusing on a third major threat — climate change. The number of natural disasters has nearly quadrupled and he pointed to unprecedented weather events in recent weeks from Texas, Florida and the Caribbean to Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sierra Leone.

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Tropical storm warning for Los Cabos, Mexico due to Norma

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Hurricane season roared on as Jose threatened heavy surf along the U.S. East Coast on Saturday, Tropical Storm Norma neared Mexico's resort-studded Baja California Peninsula, and Tropical Storm Maria formed in the Atlantic Ocean and was expected to strengthen into a hurricane, taking aim at some already-battered Caribbean islands.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lee formed in the Atlantic and Tropical Storm Otis in the Pacific. Neither threatened land.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula due to Norma, which weakened into a tropical storm on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Norma was 210 miles (335 kilometres) south of Cabo San Lucas and moving north at 3 mph (6 kph), with forecasters saying it could approach waters southwest of the peninsula late Sunday or early Monday.

The peninsular region that's home to the twin resort cities of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo was hit about two weeks ago by Tropical Storm Lidia, which flooded streets and homes and killed at least four people.

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Child care choices limited for those working outside 9-to-5

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Heather Peele is just like any other mom rushing to pick up her child at day care after work. Except, it's 2:30 a.m., and her 6-year-old daughter has been sleeping for hours at a 24-hour child care centre near the Las Vegas airport.

Parents like Peele, a casino cocktail waitress, who work outside traditional business hours often are lost in the national conversation about access to child care and early education.

"I'm just in survival mode right now," said Peele, who is thankful she found a safe, clean and affordable facility for her daughter while she works, sometimes until 4 a.m. She pays about $40 a day for 10 hours of care.

In many cases, the children of shift workers are cared for by relatives or friends in unofficial capacities. Those without such a support network have few, if any, options.

The National Survey of Early Care and Education said in a 2015 report that just 2 per cent of the child care centres it surveyed offer child care in the evening. Six per cent provide overnight care and 3 per cent have weekend hours.

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Crime draws unwanted attention to remote Virginia mountain

THAXTON, Va. (AP) — The disappearance of two young Maryland sisters shook the suburbs of Washington, and remained an agonizing mystery for more than four decades.

Now another region 250 miles away is linked to the crime. Authorities say convicted sex offender Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. burned at least one of the sisters' bodies in a fire on his cousins' property on Taylors Mountain, in west-central Virginia.

Following Welch's guilty plea this week, the people of Taylors Mountain are hoping to put an end to any association between their home and the slayings of 10-year-old Katherine and 12-year-old Sheila Lyon. The sisters vanished in 1975 after walking to a shopping mall near their home in Kensington, Maryland.

"All of us feel like he stained all of our reputations. We had nothing to do with it. It's something we'd rather have not had happen here. We wouldn't want to see it happen anywhere," said Danny Johnson, who runs an apple orchard and winery on the mountain.

Taylors Mountain is perched in the Blue Ridge Mountains, north of U.S. Route 460, between Bedford and Roanoke. The mountain was settled by Cherokee Indians in the 1700s. Much later, it was known for its thriving tomato canneries, where many of the local residents worked, and its moonshine, including "some of the best brandy in this world," Johnson said.

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Claire Foy tries the scones at BAFTA's pre-Emmy tea party

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — "The Crown" star Claire Foy nibbled on a scone with jam and cream while "Transparent" star Jeffrey Tambor eyed the finger sandwiches, including English cucumber and egg and watercress.

The two Emmy nominees were among the celebrated guests at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' annual pre-show tea party Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The soiree is one of more than half a dozen parties and events competing for nominees' attention in the days leading up to Sunday's Emmy Awards.

One producer said she had been to five parties in the past two days. ABC President of Entertainment Channing Dungey said, "You have to pace yourself."

The various pre-Emmy gatherings are more like networking events than cut-loose parties for guests like Jewerl Ross, an entertainment manager who counts filmmaker Barry Jenkins ("Moonlight") among his clients.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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