Wed, 26 Oct 2016 21:14:05 UTCARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Anti-government protesters jammed the streets of Venezuela's capital on Wednesday on the heels of a decision by congress to open a political trial against President Nicolas Maduro, whose allies have blocked moves for a recall election. Tens of thousands of demonstrators shut down Caracas' main highway, and schools and shops were closed as protesters occupied other key points around the city to demand the ouster of Maduro, who many Venezuelans blame for triple-digit inflation and shortages of food, medicines and other basic goods. The protests come after electoral authorities blocked a recall campaign against the deeply unpopular president last week. The faceoff escalated on Tuesday when the opposition-led legislature voted to put Maduro on trial, accusing him of effectively staging a coup. The opposition has not been allowed to protest in front of the presidential palace since a massive march there helped precipitate a short-lived coup against former President Hugo Chavez in 2002. Local news media reported the use of tear gas and clashes with police in provincial capitals that left several wounded. Despite the crisis gripping the country, the protest had a generally light, carnival-like atmosphere, with young people playing instruments, and sitting causally on the city's main highway.
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 21:09:40 UTROME (AP) — A pair of strong aftershocks shook central Italy late Wednesday, crumbling churches and buildings, knocking out power and sending panicked residents into the rain-drenched streets just two months after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 people. [...] the Civil Protection agency, which initially reported two injured, had no other immediate reports of injuries or deaths. The first quake carried a magnitude of 5.4, but the second one was eight times stronger at 6.1, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Because many residents had already left their homes after the first one struck at 7:10 p.m., with plans to spend the night in their cars or elsewhere, they weren't home when the second one hit two hours later, possibly saving lives, news reports said. Experts say even relatively modest quakes that have shallow depths can cause significant damage because the seismic waves are closer to the surface. A section of a major state highway north of Rome, the Salaria, was closed near Arquata del Tronto as a precaution because of a quake-induced landslide, said a spokeswoman for the civil protection agency, Ornella De Luca. The quakes were actually aftershocks of the magnitude 6.2 earthquake from two months ago. Because they were so close to the surface, they have the potential to cause more shaking and more damage, "coupled with infrastructure that's vulnerable to shaking," said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle.
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 21:07:20 UT(AP) — Days after Hurricane Matthew sent floodwaters surging through historic St. Augustine, the county's director of homeless services was panicked. Homes in many coastal counties in the Southeast sustained flood damage, but the loss of homeless facilities used by dozens of working poor appears to have hit this vulnerable population much harder here than in other areas. Besides the loss of shelter, the hurricane also knocked out businesses where some homeless people worked, leaving them even poorer. A few blocks from City Hall, outside the multicolored Victorian-style St. Francis House that serves as the city's homeless crisis center, dozens of people gathered recently at a makeshift kitchen for lunch. The county boasts the state's second-highest median income, but before the storm, St. Augustine also had a busy homeless shelter used predominantly by people who rely on the city and county for lodging and food while working low-wage jobs in the tourist industry. Tiffany Jordan, 34, a mother of five who lives in a neighboring bungalow that was unscathed, said the loss of such housing is devastating for families on the edge of extreme poverty. Without the jobs those businesses provide, some homeless people have lost income as well as shelter, said Debi Redding, executive director of the Homeless Coalition, which manages the transitional family homes.
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 20:58:15 UTCALAIS, France (AP) — The grim camp known as "the jungle," a symbol of Europe's failure to come to grips with its crisis over asylum seekers, is no more. French authorities declared Wednesday they had cleared out the camp after most of its thousands of residents were driven away on buses — an evacuation accelerated because some of the frustrated, departing migrants set fire to parts of the burgeoning slum. Smoke hung in the air as dusk fell, its stench a reminder of how one of the world's wealthiest nations was unable to create order at the camp, where those fleeing war and poverty have lived in squalor for months or longer. Most of the camp's former residents, foiled in their bid to enter Britain despite reaching the edge of the English Channel, are being relocated to communities throughout France, where authorities vow to give them decent shelter and advice about how to seek asylum so they can stay in Europe rather than return to trouble spots in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Some refused the offer, however, preferring to take their chances on the speeding Eurostar trains that connect France to Britain via the nearby Eurotunnel or the trucks that make the trip. Crews were moving in Wednesday night with heavy equipment to clear the charred ruins and remove any tents and shelters that remained standing. Despite the pronouncement, migrants were seen milling around the edges of the camp, although officials said they would stop processing people by Wednesday evening.
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 20:48:11 UTOKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma man who has been on the run since Sunday, wanted in a string of killings, shootings and carjackings, likely intends to attack several people linked to a sexual assault case against him, authorities said Wednesday. Vance, 38, of Chandler, referenced some potential targets in videos he posted live on Facebook on Sunday, while on the run from police shortly before two of his relatives were found nearly decapitated at a mobile home in Luther, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel told The Associated Press on Wednesday. At one time, we was actually standing up facing each other, shooting at each other. Because there haven't been any confirmed sightings of Vance since early Monday morning, Whetsel told the AP that Vance "could be anywhere from California to Mexico to Florida." Vance is suspected of later shooting a woman and stealing her vehicle at a mobile home park near Wellston, then driving about 8 miles to his relatives' mobile home and killing Robert Everett Wilkson, 55, and Valeri Kay Wilkson, 54, said Oklahoma County sheriff's spokesman Mark Opgrande.
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 20:45:25 UTWASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — Donald Trump may be spending most of his days inside the frantic hurricane of the presidential campaign, but inside his new hotel in Washington, calm and luxury prevail. Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., says he's confident the Trump International Hotel fronting Pennsylvania Avenue a few blocks from the White House will be a place for both Democrats and Republicans — no matter who wins. The hotel staff appears as diverse as any workforce in America — despite Trump's divisive remarks about immigrants, Muslims and other ethnic groups. A note atop the Gideon Bible in every guest room states that Qurans and other holy books are available upon request, a standard amenity at luxury hotels. Trump's inflammatory rhetoric led two celebrity chefs, Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian, to back out of running restaurants in the hotel, but David Burke's Prime BLT is open in the lobby. The hotel's renovation has been criticized for an excess of glitz and gold leaf — signature Trump decor — while covering up marble floors with carpets and walls with drapes. John Cullinane, an architect who worked on the project early on but left, had been among its critics, but declined to comment when reached by phone, saying the Trumps had sent him a letter threatening legal action.
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 20:44:53 UTWASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon worked Wednesday to stave off a public relations nightmare, suspending efforts to force California National Guard troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to repay their enlistment bonuses that may have been improperly awarded. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama was pleased with the decision, but said it was important for the Pentagon "to follow through" by finding a long-term solution. Obama had warned the Defense Department earlier this week not to "nickel and dime" service members who were victims of wrongdoing by overzealous recruiters. In a statement issued during a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels, Carter said efforts to collect reimbursement from Guard members should stop "as soon as is practical." Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, called the measure "a weak and ham-handed attempt to shift the focus away from the Obama administration's shameful treatment of service members and veterans." House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., also welcomed the development, saying he spoke with Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work Tuesday night and vowed to work with other members of Congress to provide a legislative solution so the repayment issue does not recur.
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 20:22:47 UTStanding under glittering chandeliers, top company executives, including his daughter, touted the hotel. [...] after his brief speech, Trump and his family headed to the hotel's grand lobby where they cut a wide red ribbon with golden scissors before he flew to North Carolina for what his campaign billed as an urban policy speech. Trump's unusual travel schedule, coming amid signs that the controversy surrounding his campaign has hurt his corporate brand, raises questions about whether the GOP nominee has begun to turn some of his focus to postelection plans. Deep in transition planning, she's also begun expanding the scope of her campaign to help down-ballot Democrats — her party sees an opportunity to win control of the Senate and reduce its deficit in the House — and retool her campaign message to emphasize unifying the country after a divisive race. Wednesday was the candidate's 69th birthday, a milestone she started celebrating a day early on Univision's entertainment news show "El Gordo y La Flaca," where she was feted with a bottle of tequila and a large cake featuring her face. Trump, meanwhile, dispatched his running mate, Mike Pence, to play political defense in Utah — a state that hasn't backed a Democrat for president in 52 years. Besides Utah, Pence also was stopping in the swing states of Nevada and Colorado before heading Thursday to solidly Republican Nebraska, a state that awards some of its electoral votes by congressional district.
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 20:08:50 UT(AP) — Berta Delgado told the Spanish-speaking conservative activists at her door that she is "100 por ciento" Republican, and agreed with their assessment that Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is too liberal. When it comes to connecting with and motivating Hispanic voters, GOP candidates across the country face an exceptional obstacle: their own presidential nominee. Trump's harsh words about immigrants in the country illegally and his vows to deport them and build a border wall have turned off many of the estimated 27 million Latinos eligible to vote. Of more than 6,800 Democratic general election ads that had aired on broadcast stations by last week, about 70 percent featured Trump, an Associated Press analysis of Kantar Media's political ad data found. In Nevada, where more than one-quarter of the population is Hispanic, Democratic Senate hopeful Catherine Cortez Masto tethers her Republican opponent, Rep. Joe Heck, to the presidential nominee in a bonanza of Spanish-language TV ads about "Heck y Trump." Supporters of Democrat Patricio Moreno's uphill bid to unseat Rep. Carlos Trujillo in a district that includes Doral, Florida, have tagged the Republican "Trumpillo." [...] in a competitive Texas congressional race in a heavily Hispanic district, Republican Rep. Will Hurd has disavowed Trump and begun running ads saying he'd stand up to either Trump or Clinton. Rubio was part of a core group working on immigration legislation that included a path to citizenship for those here illegally; he abandoned the effort as he geared up for a presidential bid. On a recent afternoon, Jairo Rivera, Miami-Dade field director for Americans for Prosperity, knocked on dozens of doors in Hialeah, striking up conversations in Spanish as he reminded Republican-leaning people to go vote — and not for the Democrat.
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 19:13:39 UTWASHINGTON (AP) — While the world was watching America's gay rights transformation, the Obama administration was pursuing a quieter mission to try to export the same freedoms overseas to places like sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and eastern Europe. The U.S. has deployed its diplomats and spent tens of millions of dollars to try to block anti-gay laws, punish countries that enacted them, and tie financial assistance to respect for LGBT rights. The growing focus on gay rights in diplomacy mirrored the shift in attitudes in the U.S. toward LGBT people, illustrated by seismic changes like gay marriage and gays serving openly in the military. The U.S. in 2010 started issuing passports to transgender people that reflected their current gender identity, and the White House started sending openly gay athletes as part of its delegation to Olympics ceremonies — including the 2014 Winter Games in Russia. Warned in no uncertain terms ahead of his visits to keep quiet about gay rights, Obama called for equal legal treatment for gays while standing next to President Uhuru Kenyatta, who brushed it off and insisted it was "not really an issue." Bisi Alimi, a Nigerian gay rights activist, said that advocacy was critical to helping dissolve what for many Africans has been a persuasive argument against gay rights: that the U.S. and other rich nations are engaging in paternalism and cultural colonialism.