The Daily Astorian | The Daily Astorian Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:27:59 -0400 en The Daily Astorian | Catalan leader says Spanish PM Rajoy's attempt to "humiliate" Catalonia is an "attack on democracy" Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:20:23 -0400 BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Catalan leader says Spanish PM Rajoy's attempt to "humiliate" Catalonia is an "attack on democracy"

AP Top News at 3:18 p.m. EDT Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:20:24 -0400 54 Egyptian police killed in ambush, say officialsAfter Raqqa, Trump says US shifts to 'new phase' in SyriaCourt, for now, blocks immigrant teen's access to abortionSpanish PM aims to take over Catalan govt; residents aghastThis week in odd news: Bathtub gator; Too fat for prison?UK paper sorry for airbrushing out Solange Knowles's braids]]> After Raqqa, Trump says US shifts to 'new phase' in Syria Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:20:34 -0400 STERLING, Va. (AP) President Donald Trump is portraying the Islamic State group's ouster from its Syrian stronghold as a milestone in the U.S. fight against terrorism and a step toward a political transition and lasting peace in Syria.

That assessment, in a statement released Saturday, runs counter to warnings in recent days from his national security aides that the militants remain fully capable of striking American interests. And there are no signs of an impending political transition, with Syrian President Bashar Assad's government newly strengthened.

Kurdish-led forces on Friday declared victory in Raqqa, the extremists' self-declared capital, where they had terrorized the population for four years.

Trump called it "a critical breakthrough in our worldwide campaign to defeat ISIS and its wicked ideology" and said "the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight."

He cited his efforts to empower U.S. military forces on the ground, and repeated his claim that more had been done to defeat the group in recent months "than in the past several years."

The U.S. "will soon transition into a new phase" in Syria, Trump said, and offer support to local security forces. He said the U.S. will back diplomatic negotiations to end the violence, allow refugees to return safely home, and "yield a political transition that honors the will of the Syrian people."

There is no indication, however, that a political transition will come any time soon.

U.N.-led talks have shown no serious signs of picking up steam. The ouster of IS forces from Raqqa and other parts of Syria has overlapped with the increased influence of Iran and Russia in the country and a stronger hand for Assad, dimming prospects even further for the type of political solution the U.S. has long wanted to see.

Most Raqqa residents fled long ago and are now scattered across refugee camps or abroad, and there is little for them to return to. The once vibrant metropolis on the Euphrates River has largely been reduced to rubble and is littered with land mines and booby traps.

So far, the Trump administration has shown little appetite for longer-term engagement or involvement in nation-building in Iraq and Syria. While it will work to clear Raqqa of mines and restore basic services like water and electricity, Washington has made it evidence that it has no intention of playing the leading role in rebuilding the city.

National security officials, including CIA director Mike Pompeo, have warned that just because IS has been evicted from Raqqa, it doesn't mean the group won't be able to carry out attacks against the United State.

The U.S. military this past week estimated that 6,500 IS fighters remain in eastern Syria and western Iraq, many concentrated along the Euphrates River valley straddling the border. Those fighters pose an insurgent threat in both countries and an ideological threat globally.


Associated Press writer Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.

AP Top Sports News at 3:16 p.m. EDT Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:20:42 -0400 Super Bowl rematch doesn't have a real super lookRaiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving officialNets' national anthem singer kneels to finish performanceDevils fans help young anthem singer who forgets the wordsTruex confident as NASCAR's dominant driver hits KansasVenus Williams returns to WTA Finals for 1st time since 2009]]> Trump has no plans to block scheduled release of JFK records Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:20:29 -0400 WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump says he doesn't plan to block the scheduled release of thousands of never publicly seen government documents related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

"Subject to the receipt of further information," he wrote in a Saturday morning tweet, "I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened."

The National Archives has until Thursday to disclose the remaining files related to Kennedy's 1963 assassination. The trove is expected to include more than 3,000 documents that have never been seen by the public and more than 30,000 that have been previously released but with redactions.

Congress mandated in 1992 that all assassination documents be released within 25 years, but Trump has the power to block them on the grounds that making them public would harm intelligence or military operations, law enforcement or foreign relations.

"Thank you. This is the correct decision. Please do not allow exceptions for any agency of government," tweeted Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics and author of a book about Kennedy, who has urged the president to release the files. "JFK files have been hidden too long."

The anticipated release has had scholars and armchair detectives buzzing. But it's unlikely the documents will contain any big revelations on a tragedy that has stirred conspiracy theories for decades, Judge John Tunheim told The Associated Press last month. Tunheim was chairman of the independent agency in the 1990s that made public many assassination records and decided how long others could remain secret.

Sabato and other JFK scholars believe the trove of files may, however, provide insight into assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's trip to Mexico City weeks before the killing, during which he visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies. Oswald's stated reason for going was to get visas that would allow him to enter Cuba and the Soviet Union, according to the Warren Commission, the investigative body established by President Lyndon B. Johnson, but much about the trip remains unknown.

Longtime Trump friend Roger Stone, who wrote a book alleging that Johnson was the driving force behind Kennedy's assassination, had personally urged the president to make the files public, he told far-right conspiracy theorist and radio show host Alex Jones this past week.

"Yesterday, I had the opportunity to make the case directly to the president of the United States by phone as to why I believe it is essential that he release the balance of the currently redacted and classified JFK assassination documents," Stone said, adding that "a very good White House source," but not the president, had told him the Central Intelligence Agency, "specifically CIA director Mike Pompeo, has been lobbying the president furiously not to release these documents."

"Why? Because I believe they show that Oswald was trained, nurtured and put in place by the Central Intelligence Agency. It sheds very bad light on the deep state," he said.

After the president announced his decision, Stone tweeted: "Yes ! victory !"

The files that were withheld in full were those the Assassination Records Review Board deemed "not believed relevant," Tunheim said. Its members sought to ensure they weren't hiding any information directly related to Kennedy's assassination, but there may be nuggets of information in the files that they didn't realize were important two decades ago, he said.

"There could be some jewels in there because in our level of knowledge in the 1990s is maybe different from today," Tunheim said.

The National Archives in July published online more than 440 never-before-seen assassination documents and thousands of others that had been released previously with redactions.

Among those documents was a 1975 internal CIA memo that questioned whether Oswald became motivated to kill Kennedy after reading an AP article in a newspaper that quoted Fidel Castro as saying "U.S. leaders would be in danger if they helped in any attempt to do away with leaders of Cuba."

Truex confident as NASCAR's dominant driver hits Kansas Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:21:09 -0400 KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) Martin Truex Jr. already looks like the coolest cat at the club, with his shades and scruff and disarming smile, yet he has even more reason to be relaxed and confident at Kansas Speedway this weekend.

Start with the fact that he's already clinched a spot in the next round of NASCAR's playoffs with his win at Charlotte. Brad Keselowski is also assured of advancing through the round of 12 after Sunday's race, but former champs such as Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch are on the bubble.

Then consider the fact that Truex always runs well at intermediate tracks, finishing in the top 10 in his last five starts with a trio of victories. He's especially good at Kansas, where he routinely runs up front and exorcised some bad luck with a victory in May.

Finally, there's the fact that Truex was fast the moment he unloaded Friday, winning the pole and earning not only a prime pit stall for Sunday but also the first pick next week at Martinsville.

That all led to this admission from Johnson, who is chasing his record-setting eighth Cup title: "The 78 has sort of controlled the year. We're all jealous of the situation they're in."

It's not as if Truex and his Furniture Row Racing team have lucked into this situation.

The only NASCAR team headquartered west of the Mississippi River went through years of fits and starts, with team owner Barney Visser often pouring gobs of his own money into the project. And things didn't look as if they were getting much better when Truex came aboard for the 2014 season.

He managed five top-10 finishes, led a single lap all year and finished 24th in the standings.

But the team kept grinding and the following year dominated the spring race at Kansas before a poor pit stop shuffled him back. The result nevertheless sent confidence soaring, and the team broke its 69-race winless drought at Pocono that summer and quite simply never looked back.

With a new manufacturer in Toyota and a new alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, the team won four times last season and cruised into the playoffs. That number has soared to six this season, and Truex needs to lead just 23 laps at Kansas on Sunday to break the 2,000 mark for the year.

"It's just racing. You never know," Truex said. "We'll go race hard and I know we'll have what it takes to win, and hopefully we can get it done this time around."

All his success has quite literally paid off, too. The team announced last week it filled out its sponsorship for next season, which is never a guarantee even for top drivers these days. Bass Pro Shops and 5-hour Energy are sharing primary sponsorship, with Auto Owners Insurance helping out.

"For me, it's terrific," Visser said during the announcement. "You don't see me dancing in the aisles, but inside I am. Martin has just delivered. It's just been remarkable what he and the guys have been able to accomplish. So, we have to attribute it to that."

Yet there are more, bigger goals still on the horizon, and that is why Truex has been pushing so hard during the playoffs. Every point matters in the race to Homestead and the series finale.

"You can't just turn it off, turn it on," Truex said. "We said coming into the playoffs that we have to try to just be who we are, play to our strengths, do things the way we know how to do them. I feel like if you try to lay back or if you try to step it up at certain points of time, you open yourself up for mistakes. You have to just push right on that edge that you're used to, comfortable with.

"Kansas has been an awesome track for us over the years in general," he said, "but really the last couple years we've been strong here. I feel like we understand this track really well."

Seems like most of the playoff contenders have figured it out.

Truex will start alongside Kevin Harvick on Sunday, while Kenseth and Denny Hamlin make up the second round. Busch and Jamie McMurray will make up Row 4, with Keselowski and Johnson are in the next couple rows. Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will start side by side in Row 7.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. struggled in qualifying and will start 24th, while Ryan Blaney's car failed post-qualifying inspection, forcing him to start at the back of the field.

Johnson is in the eighth and final spot to advance to the next round, but his cushion over Busch is just seven points. Kenseth is another point back, making for a crowded playoff bubble.

"You got to execute," Kenseth said. "You got to figure out how to be fast on restarts and fast at the end of the run as well. And then of course we've got to do good on pit road, so hopefully I keep that track position or improve a few spots actually and stay up there the whole race."

That's the only way for Kenseth and several other contenders to advance to the next round.

It's also something Truex doesn't have to worry about.


More AP Auto Racing:

Valencia nets fifth in a row, pressures Barcelona in La Liga Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:11:43 -0400 BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Valencia closed within a point of Spanish league leader Barcelona after dispatching visiting Sevilla 4-0 on Saturday.

Barcelona faced last-placed Malaga at home in the closing match of the day, with added pressure from second-placed Valencia.

Surging Valencia has won five in a row. It can't be overtaken for now. Third-placed Real Madrid hosts Eibar on Sunday.

Sevilla has lost three in a row in all competitions, including 5-1 to Spartak Moscow in the Europa League.

Managed by Eduardo Berizzo, the team started off red-hot in La Liga but has floundered lately, ranking fifth in the standings.


Gonzalo Guedes opened the scoring for Valencia near halftime with a majestic strike from outside the box after deftly outmaneuvering two defenders on the chase.

Simone Zaza added his eighth league goal after the break with a spin and low cross shot. Santi Mina came off the bench and scored the third with just five minutes to go, finishing off a speedy counterattack for the hosts.

But the show was all Guedes, and the Portuguese midfielder rounded off his great game with the closer, subtly poking the ball over goalkeeper Sergio Rico in added time.


Real Betis rebounded from its demoralizing home loss to Valencia by defeating struggling Alaves 2-0.

The result put Betis in sixth place, tied with neighbor Sevilla.

Antonio Sanabria scored early in the first half to lead the hosts to victory a week after losing to Valencia 6-3 at Benito Villamarin Stadium in Seville.

Betis added to the lead with an own goal by Alaves defender Alexis Ruano midway through the second half.

Sanabria scored the first goal with a header after a right-side cross by Victor Camarasa, and Ruano found his own net while trying to clear a low cross by Cristian Tello in a breakaway.

Sanabria has scored at least once in each of his last five league games. The Paraguay striker has seven goals in the last seven matches with club and country.

It was the eighth loss for Alaves in nine league matches. It remains second-to-last in the standings with three points, two more than Malaga.


Levante and Getafe played to 1-1 and both teams stayed near the middle of the table.

Faycal Fajr put Getafe ahead in the 58th and Jose Luis Morales equalized for the hosts four minutes later.

Levante lost striker Alexander "Nano" Mesa early in the second half because of a ligament injury in his right knee.


Tales Azzoni contributed from Barcelona.

AP Top International News at 3:08 p.m. EDT Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:11:07 -0400 The Latest: Catalan official: Spanish move is 'coup d'etat'WHO chief now 'rethinking' Mugabe 'goodwill ambassador' postMalta offers $1.18 million to discover who killed reporterSomalia readies for 'state of war' as death toll up to 358Populist billionaire's party wins big in Czech RepublicUK paper sorry for airbrushing out Solange Knowles's braids]]> Spanish PM aims to take over Catalan govt; residents aghast Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:10:38 -0400 BARCELONA, Spain (AP) The Spanish government announced an unprecedented plan Saturday to sack Catalonia's separatist leaders, install its own people in their place and call a new local election, using previously untapped constitutional powers to take control of the prosperous region that is threatening to secede.

Even moderate Catalans were aghast at the scope of the move, and the announcement was met with banging pots and honking cars in the streets of Barcelona. The city's mayor, Ada Colau, who opposes independence without a valid referendum, called Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's measures "a serious attack" on the self-government of Catalonia.

Others went further Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell accused Spain's central authorities of carrying out a coup.

"Mariano Rajoy has announced a de facto coup d'etat with the goal of ousting a democratically elected government," Forcadell said, calling it "an authoritarian blow within a member of the European Union."

After a special Cabinet session, Rajoy said he wants the country's Senate to allow central ministers to take over the jobs of all senior members of the Catalan government, including control over the regional police, finances and the public media.

In an effort to derail the Catalan independence movement, Rajoy is also seeking the Senate's approval next week to assume the power to call a regional election something that only Catalonia's top leader can do now.

In response, protesters wrapped in red-and-yellow Catalan flags flooded the streets of central Barcelona, holding up signs calling for freedom.

About 450,000 people joined the protest, according to police, although an anti-secession group put the number at 85,000. The demonstration had originally been called to protest the detention of two prominent pro-independence activists who are awaiting possible sedition charges, but it turned into an outcry over Rajoy's move.

"We are here because the Spanish government made a coup without weapons against the Catalan people and their government institutions," said Joan Portet, a 58-year-old protester.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who was speaking on television later Saturday, has threatened to call a vote in the regional parliament for an explicit declaration of independence from Spain.

Rajoy said he is using Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution in order to "restore normalcy" in the country, which faces its most grave institutional crisis in decades with Catalonia's independence movement. He said a new regional election in Catalonia should be held in the next six months.

"There is no country in the world ready to allow this kind of situation within its borders," Rajoy said Saturday. "It is my wish to call elections as soon as normality is restored."

Rajoy's party enjoys a majority in the Senate and he has the backing of the main opposition parties to quash independence for Catalonia and maintain Spain's territorial integrity.

Article 155 gives central authorities to intervene when one of Spain's 17 autonomous regions fails to comply with the law. It's never been applied since the 1978 Constitution was adopted, and Rajoy's conservative government called it a move of last resort.

The slow-burning constitutional crisis over secession escalated this month when regional government officials held a disputed independence referendum on Oct. 1. They then declared the result which was strongly in favor of independence gave them a legal basis for separating from Spain even though the vote itself had numerous problems.

The country's Constitutional Court has so far ruled against all moves toward secession, including the Catalan referendum. The court's website appeared to be offline Saturday, and a spokeswoman said it had been affected by vandalism. She requested anonymity in line with internal rules.

Spain's National Security Department said slogans supporting independence for Catalonia had popped up amid cyberattacks on a number of government websites.

Albert Rivera, head of the pro-business Citizens party, said he backed Rajoy's measures because Catalonia needs to restore social unity and legal security so companies can remain in the region. Hundreds of companies have transferred their registered headquarters out of Catalonia to other areas in Spain, fearing the chaos that independence or the fight over it could bring.

Basque nationalists and the far-left Podemos party were among those opposing the government's move.

"We are in shock about the suspension of democracy in Catalonia," said Podemo's Pablo Echenique, vowing to work to oust Rajoy and his conservative Popular Party.

Barcelona resident Rosa Isart said the Spanish government's determination to prevent Catalonia from leaving Spain reminded her of the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco four decades ago.

"It seems unbelievable that I have to see this again, because of the incompetence of these politicians who don't know how to speak to each other," Isart said.

Others were sympathetic to Rajoy's move. Barcelona resident Carlos Assensio said he agreed with Madrid, given the separatists' refusal to abide by Spain's laws.

"For the sake of a good co-existence, if we don't respect the law this could be a total anarchy," said the 65-year-old.


Pietro DeCristofaro and Vicente Marquez in Barcelona contributed.

Venus Williams returns to WTA Finals for 1st time since 2009 Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:21:14 -0400 SINGAPORE (AP) Venus Williams returns to the year-end WTA Finals for the first time since 2009 and will face Karolina Pliskova on Sunday.

The top eight players in the world will play in the round-robin event, which also features No. 1 Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Garcia.

"They're all pretty special," said Williams of her five career appearances in the year-end competition. "Only top eight get here. It's definitely something well-earned."

The 37-year-old Williams is the third-oldest player to qualify for the finals. Billie Jean King was 39 in 1983 and Martina Navratilova was 38 in 1994.

The fifth-ranked Williams reached two Grand Slam finals this season. She lost to her sister Serena at the Australian Open and to Muguruza in the final at Wimbledon.

Williams won the 2008 WTA Finals by defeating Vera Zvonareva of Russia. Since her first full season on the WTA Tour in 1995, Williams says she's seen improvement in the sport.

"The competition is so much greater," said the seven-time Grand Slam winner in singles. "It's a beautiful change, in fact."

Every player but Garcia has a possibility of reaching the year-end No. 1 ranking, depending on their result this week.

Williams is in the White Group, joining big-hitters Muguruza and Pliskova, who were both ranked No. 1 during this season. French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko is also in that group.

Williams and Pliskova are 1-1 in career meetings. Williams is 3-2 against Muguruza and 1-0 against Ostapenko.

"I think my group is more aggressive-style players," Pliskova said. "The other one is more defending.

"I start with Venus tomorrow. I beat her once from match point and once I lost a very close match. This one is open."

Funeral held for US soldier at center of Trump fight Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:00:42 -0400 COOPER CITY, Fla. (AP) Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

Some of the 1,200 mourners exiting the church after Saturday's service said the portrait of Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, was joined on stage by photographs of Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia. The four died Oct. 4 in Niger when they were attacked by militants tied to the Islamic State. Johnson's family asked reporters to remain outside for the service.

"We have to remember that one thing - that it wasn't just one soldier who lost his life," said Berchel Davis, a retired police officer who has six children in the military. He said the preacher and Rep. Frederica Wilson both made that a part of their talks. "That was a good gesture on everyone's part."

He and others said the fight between Trump and Wilson was never mentioned during the service.

Johnson's pregnant widow, Myeshia, had held the arm of an Army officer as she led her two young children and her family, dressed in white, into the Christ the Rock Community Church in suburban Fort Lauderdale. The modern hymn "I'm Yours" could be heard coming from inside.

Johnson's sister, Angela Ghent, said after the service that "it don't feel real" that her brother was killed.

"It hasn't hit me yet, I haven't had time to grieve," said Ghent, who last spoke to her brother a few weeks before he died. She said she was glad mourners got to hear about her brother's love for bikes and cars, not just his military service.

The fight between Trump and Wilson had taken the focus off Johnson, whose widow is due to have a daughter in January. Sgt. Johnson told friends she will be named La'Shee. The couple, who were high school sweethearts, already had a 6-year-old daughter, Ah'Leeysa, and 2-year-old son, La David Jr. An online fundraiser has raised more than $600,000 to pay for the children's education.

Johnson's mother died when he was 5; he was raised by his aunt. His family enrolled him in 5000 Role Models, a project Wilson began in 1993 when she was an educator where African-American boys are paired with mentors who prepare them for college, vocational school or the military.

"We teach them to be a good man, a good husband and a good father. Sgt. Johnson typified all of those characteristics," said mourner Carlton Crawl, a public school consultant who is one of the program's mentors.

In 2013, a year before he enlisted, Johnson was featured in a local television newscast for his ability to do bicycle tricks, earning the nickname "Wheelie King." He said he learned his tricks by going slow.

"Once you feel comfortable, you could just ride all day," he told the interviewer.

The war of words between the president and Wilson began Tuesday when the Miami-area Democrat said Trump told Myeshia Johnson in a phone call that her husband "knew what he signed up for" and didn't appear to know his name, a version later backed up by Johnson's aunt. Wilson was riding with Johnson's family to meet the body and heard the call on speakerphone. She was principal of a school Johnson's father attended.

Trump tweeted Wilson "fabricated" his statement and the fight escalated through the week. Trump in other tweets called her "wacky" and accused her of "SECRETLY" listening to the phone call.

Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, entered the fray on Thursday. The retired Marine general asserted that the congresswoman had delivered a 2015 speech at an FBI field office dedication in which she "talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building," rather than keeping the focus on the fallen agents for which it was named. Video of the speech contradicted his recollection.

Wilson, who is black, fired back Friday when she told The New York Times: "The White House itself is full white supremacists."

The retorts persisted on Saturday morning, with Trump tweeting: "I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!"

UK paper sorry for airbrushing out Solange Knowles's braids Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:02:04 -0400 LONDON (AP) Britain's Evening Standard newspaper has apologized to Solange Knowles for digitally altering an image of the singer on the cover of its magazine.

Knowles who had released a song called "Don't Touch My Hair" complained on Instagram that an elaborate braided crown on her head had been digitally removed from the cover photo.

The magazine article featured the singer talking about her experiences spending time at her mother's salon as a child. She also discussed braiding's importance to her and praised it as "its own art form."

The magazine said in a statement Saturday that the photo was altered for "layout purposes" but it was sorry for the offense caused. The statement said: "Plainly we made the wrong call and we have offered our unreserved apologies to Solange."

UK paper sorry for airbrushing out Solange Knowles's braids Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:01:39 -0400 LONDON (AP) Britain's Evening Standard newspaper has apologized to Solange Knowles for digitally altering an image of the singer on the cover of its magazine.

Knowles who had released a song called "Don't Touch My Hair" complained on Instagram that an elaborate braided crown on her head had been digitally removed from the cover photo.

The magazine article featured the singer talking about her experiences spending time at her mother's salon as a child. She also discussed braiding's importance to her and praised it as "its own art form."

The magazine said in a statement Saturday that the photo was altered for "layout purposes" but it was sorry for the offense caused. The statement said: "Plainly we made the wrong call and we have offered our unreserved apologies to Solange."

AP Top Entertainment News at 2:55 p.m. EDT Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:01:59 -0400 The Latest: Lawyer says actress accusing Weinstein is scaredUK paper sorry for airbrushing out Solange Knowles's braidsEx-prosecutor to sue Cosby accuser, alleging personal injury5 living ex-presidents attend Texas hurricane relief concertTrump drawing of Empire State Building sells for $16,000Norman Rockwell's 3 sons seek to halt sale of his artworksTV Academy could boot Weinstein; new allegation revealed]]> Adult, 2 juveniles charged in Seattle stabbing death Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:00:33 -0400 SEATTLE (AP) Two juveniles and an 18-year-old man have all been charged in adult court with first-degree murder following the stabbing death of a 15-year-old boy.

The Seattle Times reports ( that Jonatan Islas-Martinez and the two juveniles were charged Friday.

Authorities say Derek "Peachy" Juarez-Lopez was lured to a West Seattle park to be robbed of marijuana.

Police say he was stabbed by a 16-year-old juvenile when he refused to hand over the marijuana. Police say a 17-year-old girl helped lure Juarez-Lopez to the park.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Brian McDonald says the three suspects left Juarez-Lopez to bleed to death and have shown no remorse.


Information from: The Seattle Times,

Populist billionaire's party wins big in Czech Republic Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:11:32 -0400 PRAGUE (AP) The centrist ANO movement led by populist Andrej Babis decisively won the Czech Republic's parliamentary election Saturday in a vote that shifted the country to the right and paved the way for the euroskeptic billionaire to become its next prime minister.

With virtually all votes counted, the Czech Statistics Office said Saturday that ANO won in a landslide with 29.7 percent of the vote.

"It's a huge success," the 63-year-old Babis told supporters and journalists at his headquarters in Prague.

Although Babis was a finance minister in the outgoing government until May, many Czechs see him as a maverick outsider with the business acumen to shake up the system. With slogans claiming he can easily fix the country's problems, he is, for some, the Czech answer to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Since the leader of the strongest party in Parliament's lower house usually gets to form a new government, Babis could be the country's next leader despite being linked to several scandals including being charged by police with fraud linked to European Union subsidies.

The charges will likely make it difficult for Babis to find the coalition partners he needs to build a majority of parliament's 200 seats. He didn't immediately say which parties he preferred.

Babis is the county's second-richest man, with a media empire including two major newspapers and a popular radio station.

In a blow to the country's traditional political elite, four of the top five vote-getting parties Saturday were ones that have challenged the traditional political mainstream. Some have exploited fears of immigration and Islam and have been attacking the country's memberships in the EU and NATO.

The opposition conservative Civic Democrats came in a distant second, with 11.3 percent of the vote, the strongest mainstream party. The Social Democrats, the senior party in the outgoing government that won the 2013 election, captured only 7.3 percent of the vote Saturday. And the Christian Democrats, part of the ruling coalition, won only 5.8 percent support.

"It's a voting hurricane," analyst Michal Klima told the Czech television, referring to the poor results for mainstream parties.

The Pirate Party won seats for the first time, coming in third with 10.8 percent of the vote while the most radical anti-migration, anti-Muslim, anti-EU party, the Freedom and Direct Democracy, was in fourth place with 10.6 percent support.

Babis' centrist movement stormed Czech politics four years ago, finishing a surprising second with an anti-corruption message. Babis has also been been critical of the EU and opposes setting a date for adopting the shared euro currency.

Like most Czech parties, ANO also rejects accepting refugees under the EU's quota system.

Babis played down his euroskeptic views after his victory.

"We're oriented on Europe," he said. "We're not a threat for democracy. I'm ready to fight for our interests in Brussels. We're a firm part of the European Union, we're a firm part of NATO."

Still, some experts saw a strong shift to the right if Babis worked out a coalition with Tomio Okamura, head of the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, who wants to ban Islam and organize a referendum to exit the EU.

"Should (Babis) join forces with Okamura, the Czech Republic would be facing difficult times," said Klima.

A record nine parties and groupings made it into Parliament, some just barely over the 5 percent threshold. Those included the Communists, who got 7.8 percent of the vote, the pro-EU conservatives with 5.3 percent and a group of mayors who won 5.2 percent support.

Bayern exploits Dortmund slump to move level in Bundesliga Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:01:42 -0400 BERLIN (AP) Bayern Munich took advantage of Borussia Dortmund's faltering campaign to move level on points with the Bundesliga leader on Saturday.

Dortmund's mini-slump continued as it wasted a two-goal lead and drew at Eintracht Frankfurt 2-2, before Bayern edged 10-man Hamburger SV 1-0 in the late game.

Dortmund still leads on goal difference after nine rounds but the pressure is building after its fourth game without a win from five matches across all competitions.

Nuri Sahin scored inside the first 20 minutes and Maximilian Philipp put Dortmund in a comfortable position on a counterattack before the hour mark. It was the former Freiburg forward's fifth Bundesliga goal of the season.

But Sebastien Haller pulled one back with a coolly taken penalty minutes later - conceded when goalkeeper Roman Buerki brought down Ante Rebic - then Marius Wolf equalized with a shot inside the far corner for his first Bundesliga goal.

"It shouldn't happen," Sahin said after the side let slip a two-goal lead for the first time since November 2014.

Dortmund missed good chances, notably through Philipp, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Christian Pulisic, while Buerki had to be alert to deny Frankfurt as the game swung from end-to-end.

Buerki was criticized for his mistake in Dortmund's 1-1 draw at Cypriot team APOEL in the Champions League group stage on Tuesday, and Sahin ran the length of the pitch after scoring to show the goalkeeper support.

"Every player is part of something bigger. I've always said that. I wanted to just show him that everyone can make mistakes and that we're a team," Sahin said.

Jadon Sancho came on for his Bundesliga debut but the 17-year-old English prospect was denied in the final minute by Frankfurt goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, before Sahin's effort from the rebound was cleared off the line.

Coach Peter Bosz reshuffled his defense with Neven Subotic coming in for the suspended Sokratis. It was the Serbian's first game for Dortmund since March 2016.

Bosz will also face questions after making changes with the side 2-0 up.

Dortmund has conceded in six games across all competitions - after starting the league clean in its first five games.


Bayern is yet to concede a goal after three games under Jupp Heynckes but the side's win in Hamburg was the least impressive since he returned.

Arjen Robben had the visiting side's only real chance in the first half as committed defense from Hamburg frustrated the defending champions.

But Hamburg's hopes took a blow five minutes before the break when Gideon Jung was sent off for bringing down Kingsley Coman.

Heynckes sent on Thomas Mueller for the ineffective James Rodriguez at the interval and the Germany forward helped make the breakthrough, spotting Corentin Tolisso to score from close range in the 57th.

Bayern kept pushing for the goal that would seal it: Thiago Alcantara hit the post with 20 minutes remaining, and Tolisso struck it again late on.


Bayer Leverkusen stunned Borussia Moenchengladbach with five second-half goals to recover from a halftime deficit in its 5-1 win.

American Fabian Johnson fired the home side into an early lead but Sven Bender equalized after the break. Leon Baily and Julian Brandt scored in quick succession and Kevin Volland added another.

Joel Pohjanpalo completed an afternoon to forget for Dieter Hecking's side.

Also, Leipzig defeated Stuttgart 1-0 at home to move one point behind the league leaders, and Hannover won at Augsburg 2-1.

Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, other staffers Sat, 21 Oct 2017 11:50:34 -0400 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The San Francisco Giants have reassigned longtime pitching coach Dave Righetti from manager Bruce Bochy's field staff to special assistant to the general manager, working under Bobby Evans.

The club announced Righetti's role change to the front office Saturday, along with bullpen coach Mark Gardner moving into a special assignment job assisting in pitching evaluations. Assistant hitting coach Steve Decker is now a special assistant in baseball operations.

San Francisco went 64-98 for a last-place finish in the NL West and avoided the franchise's first 100-loss season since 1985 during the final weekend of the regular season. The Giants, long defined by dominant pitching, had a 16th-ranked 4.50 team ERA and missed ace Madison Bumgarner for nearly three months after a dirt bike accident in Colorado. Right-hander Johnny Cueto also missed significant time on the disabled list with various injuries.


More AP baseball:

City only unbeaten EPL side after Man U lose at Huddersfield Sat, 21 Oct 2017 11:40:39 -0400 LONDON (AP) Manchester City comfortably beat Burnley 3-0 to remain the only unbeaten side in the English Premier League after Manchester United lost at Huddersfield 2-1 on Saturday.

It was the first time in 65 years that Huddersfield beat United, which was made to pay dearly for defensive errors.

Chelsea came from behind to beat Watford 4-2 thanks to two late goals, and avoided a third straight league defeat.

City stretched its lead to five points more than its fellow Manchester club. Third-placed Tottenham can draw level with United if it beats Liverpool on Sunday.

Sergio Aguero set City on its way to victory with a first-half penalty before goals from Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sane ensured their side equaled the club record of 11 consecutive victories in all competitions.

Here's a look at the action:


Sergio Aguero became City's joint top goal-scorer with Eric Brook, whose record of 177 has stood for 78 years.

Aguero, back in the starting lineup after breaking a rib in a car crash three weeks ago, converted a penalty kick in the 30th minute at Etihad Stadium. Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope was controversially adjudged to have brought down Bernardo Silva.

That brought Aguero level with Brook, who scored for City from 1927-39. Aguero has made 262 appearances for City in all competitions to reach the record mark, compared to Brook's 493.


First-half goals from Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre helped Huddersfield to its first win over Man United since March 1952.

The match turned when Phil Jones went off with injury midway through the first half.

Mooy robbed Juan Mata of possession near the halfway line, raced towards goal, and played through Thomas Ince. The winger turned Jones' replacement, Victor Lindelof, inside out to get away a shot that David De Gea could parry only into path of Mooy to rifle home.

Five minutes later, Lindelof embarrassingly misread goalkeeper Jonas Lossl's long ball to gift it to Depoitre, who rounded De Gea and slotted into the empty net.

Marcus Rashford headed home Romelu Lukaku's cross 12 minutes from time to halve the deficit but United couldn't find the equalizer and a remarkable roar greeted the final whistle.


Substitute Michy Batshuayi scored twice as Chelsea fought back from behind to win a six-goal thriller against Watford.

Pedro's superb strike put the home side in front after they were wrongly awarded a corner, but Abdoulaye Doucoure and Roberto Pereyra scored either side of halftime for visiting Chelsea.

Watford wasted chances to extend its advantage before Batshuayi headed in the equalizer.

Cesar Azpilicueta gave Chelsea the lead again three minutes from time and Batshuayi doubled his tally in stoppage time to secure victory for the defending champion.


Leicester moved out of the relegation zone as the post-Craig Shakespeare era began with a win.

Michael Appleton was in caretaker command after Shakespeare's midweek sacking, and Leicester fully merited the three points handed to them by Federico Fernandez's first-half own goal and Shinji Okazaki's fifth of the season just after the interval.

Alfie Mawson reduced the deficit for Swansea from a 56th-minute corner.

Shakespeare paid the price for a winless run of six games and just one league victory all season.

Stoke replaced Leicester in the bottom three after losing at Bournemouth 2-1.

Last-placed Crystal Palace lost at Newcastle 1-0 after substitute Mikel Merino netted four minutes from time.

A late goal from a substitute also saw Southampton win against West Bromwich Albion 1-0. Sofiane Boufal scored a sublime individual effort five minutes from time.


More AP Premier League coverage:

SeaWorld sends manatees to Ohio zoos for rehab stints Sat, 21 Oct 2017 11:30:28 -0400 CINCINNATI (AP) Orphaned manatees from SeaWorld Orlando have been sent to two Ohio Zoos to receive care before they're eventually released into the wild.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden received three manatees this week and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium received one. Both zoos are part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership.

Two Cincinnati manatees, meanwhile, have been flown back to Florida. BamBam will receive care at SeaWorld before his release next year. Betsy, in Cincinnati since 2010, isn't a candidate for release and now lives at her new permanent home in a Florida state park.

Pippen, Miles and Mathew in Cincinnati and Goober in Columbus will be part of manatee exhibits while they gain weight in preparation for their return to the wild.

St. Louis college prof grabbed, arrested at board meeting Sat, 21 Oct 2017 11:30:29 -0400 ST. LOUIS (AP) A St. Louis Community College professor was grabbed from behind by an officer, pulled to the ground, handcuffed and arrested at a college system board meeting after trying to object out of turn to rules laid out for the meeting.

The college released video of the incident involving adjunct math professor Steve Taylor, who says he spoke out of turn after the board threatened to kick out anyone who clapped. An arrest report said Taylor "aggressively forced his way" toward board members during the public comment period at Thursday night's meeting, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Taylor denied charging the board members.

Taylor teaches on the community college system's Wildwood campus and said that after his arrest he received a letter saying he would no longer be allowed there. He said he views receiving the letter as a firing.

"It was shocking and it all happened so fast," he said. Later, he added, "I would've been willing to leave but I was approached from behind and pulled violently without indication as to who was doing it or why."

Robert Hertel, president of the National Education Association union for the college, said Taylor sought treatment at a hospital afterward for bruised ribs and injuries to his face and shoulder.

A college police officer tackled Taylor. Local police issued two municipal court summonses against him, alleging he disturbed the peace and resisted arrest.

In a statement, college leaders said that "disruptive outbursts undermine the process of conducting business in a transparent and respectful manner."

Taylor has been involved in faculty negotiations with administrators over pay raises and other issues. He said attendees had applauded after a union member's remarks when the board issued its warning. He said the board has never issued a similar warning when people applauded members or administrators.

Park hikers may have died in 'sympathetic murder-suicide' Sat, 21 Oct 2017 11:30:30 -0400 SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) The family of a young woman who died in a murder-suicide in Joshua Tree National Park says they hold no grudges against her hiking companion who is believed to be the gunman.

Rachel Nguyen, 20, and Joseph Orbeso, 22, had been missing for nearly three months after going hiking in the sprawling desert park in late July. Their disappearance launched an exhaustive search crews spent more than 2,100 hours scouring the rugged terrain but their bodies were not found until Oct. 15.

Autopsies found both had gunshot wounds and evidence at the scene led detectives to believe Orbeso shot Nguyen and then himself, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said Friday. The stunning announcement came days after Orbeso's father, who was with searchers who made the discovery, said the bodies were locked in an embrace.

Authorities told the Orange County Register that there was evidence the pair had been battling the elements: The bodies were under a tree, with items of clothing covering their legs to protect them from the blazing sun. They appeared to have been rationing food and had no water.

Nguyen's family said investigators told them that based on the circumstances and positioning of the bodies, they believed the two died in a "sympathetic murder-suicide."

"We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Orbeso family, and that they will remain in our prayers," they said in a statement.

"We thank God that we'll be able to give Rachel a proper burial and lay her to rest."

Orbeso and Nguyen had once dated and he took her to Joshua Tree to celebrate her birthday, his best friend Austin Young told the newspaper.

Orbeso may have had a gun because he worked as a security guard, and was carrying it to protect her.

"I think they got lost and were suffering in 100-degree heat," Young said.

"They had a choice of a slow and painful death or a quick death," he said. "And they made the choice of a quick death."

Orbeso's actions remained under investigation, though his motive may never be known.

"There is nothing left behind to give the investigators or the family any indication of why this happened," sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said.

WHO chief now 'rethinking' Mugabe 'goodwill ambassador' post Sat, 21 Oct 2017 11:20:42 -0400 GENEVA (AP) After widespread shock and condemnation, the head of the World Health Organization said Saturday he is "rethinking" his appointment of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a "goodwill ambassador."

In a new tweet, WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus said that "I'm listening. I hear your concerns. Rethinking the approach in light of WHO values. I will issue a statement as soon as possible."

The 93-year-old Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, has long been criticized at home for going overseas for medical treatment as Zimbabwe's once-prosperous economy falls apart. Mugabe also faces U.S. sanctions over his government's human rights abuses.

The United States called the appointment of Mugabe by WHO's first African leader "disappointing."

"This appointment clearly contradicts the United Nations ideals of respect for human rights and human dignity," the State Department said.

Health and human rights leaders chimed in. "The decision to appoint Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador is deeply disappointing and wrong," said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, a major British charitable foundation. "Robert Mugabe fails in every way to represent the values WHO should stand for."

Ireland's health minister, Simon Harris, called the appointment "offensive, bizarre." ''Mugabe corruption decimates Zimbabwe health care," tweeted the head of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth.

With Mugabe on hand, Tedros announced the appointment at a conference in Uruguay this week on non-communicable diseases.

Tedros, a former Ethiopian official who became WHO's first African director-general this year, said Mugabe could use the role "to influence his peers in his region" on the issue. He described Zimbabwe as "a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the center of its policies." A WHO spokeswoman confirmed the comments to The Associated Press.

Two dozen organizations including the World Heart Federation and Cancer Research U.K. released a statement slamming the appointment, saying health officials were "shocked and deeply concerned" and citing his "long track record of human rights violations."

The groups said they had raised their concerns with Tedros on the sidelines of the conference, to no avail.

The heads of U.N. agencies and the U.N. secretary-general typically choose celebrities and other prominent people as ambassadors to draw attention to global issues of concern, such as refugees (Angelina Jolie) and education (Malala Yousafzai). The choices are not subject to approval.

The ambassadors hold little actual power. They also can be fired. The comic book heroine Wonder Woman was removed from her honorary U.N. ambassador job in December following protests that a white, skimpily dressed American prone to violence wasn't the best role model for girls.

Zimbabwe's government has not commented on Mugabe's appointment, but a state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper headline called it a "new feather in president's cap."

The southern African nation once was known as the region's prosperous breadbasket. But in 2008, the charity Physicians for Human Rights released a report documenting failures in Zimbabwe's health system, saying Mugabe's policies had led to a man-made crisis.

"The government of Robert Mugabe presided over the dramatic reversal of its population's access to food, clean water, basic sanitation and health care," the group concluded. Mugabe's policies led directly to "the shuttering of hospitals and clinics, the closing of its medical school and the beatings of health workers."

The 93-year-old Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, has come under criticism at home for his frequent overseas travels that have cost impoverished Zimbabwe millions of dollars. His repeated visits to Singapore have heightened concerns over his health, even as he pursues re-election next year.

The U.S. in 2003 imposed targeted sanctions, a travel ban and an asset freeze against Mugabe and close associates, citing his government's rights abuses and evidence of electoral fraud.

The Latest: Catalan official: Spanish move is 'coup d'etat' Sat, 21 Oct 2017 11:20:35 -0400 BARCELONA, Spain (AP) The Latest on Catalonia's effort to break away from Spain and the Spanish government's response (all times local):

8 p.m.

The speaker of the Catalan parliament says Spain's central authorities have made an effective "coup d'etat" in what she called an "authoritarian" attempt to take control of the northeastern region.

Legislator Carme Forcadell says in Barcelona that Spanish Prime Minister "Mariano Rajoy has announced a de facto coup d'etat with the goal of ousting a democratically elected government."

Forcadell said the move is "an authoritarian blow within a member of the European Union."

Rajoy's conservative government is likely to obtain the national Senate's backing next week for extraordinary powers that will allow him to dissolve the Catalan parliament and call an early election. The measures include the sacking of Catalonia's separatist leaders.

Rajoy said the regional parliament will have its powers limited, but will remain in place until new lawmakers are elected in less than six months.


6:50 p.m.

Representatives of Catalan civil society groups are calling for the release of two prominent pro-independence activists held in a Madrid jail while awaiting possible sedition charges.

Speaking to hundreds of thousands of protesters who marched in downtown Barcelona on Saturday, Omnium Cultural spokesman Marcel Mauri said a plan by central Spanish authorities to take control of the regional powers "has destroyed democracy."

Mauri also made a call in English for international support: "Help Catalonia, save Spain, save Europe." Protesters shouted "Freedom, freedom."

Assemblea Nacional Catalana vice president Agusti Alcoberro calls the Spanish government's move a "repressive escalation" aimed at "wiping out Catalonia as a political nation."


6:30 p.m.

Catalan regional authorities are joining hundreds of thousands protesting in Barcelona in a massive show of support for independence. They are also calling for the release of two prominent activists who have been jailed while awaiting possible sedition charges.

The march was initially called by Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural to press for their leaders' release but it has become a collective rejection of the Spanish government's move to take over Catalonia's regional powers.

The Spanish government wants to sack Catalonia's separatist leaders and call a new election using previously untapped constitutional powers to take control of the prosperous region.

A banner reading "Freedom for Jordi Sanchez! Freedom for Jordi Cuixart!" opened the march. Regional leader Carles Puigdemont is to deliver a televised address later Saturday.

5:55 p.m.

The vice president of the Spanish Senate says a session next Friday will vote on measures proposed by Spain's government to take control of the northeastern Catalonia region.

Conservative senator Pedro Blanco told reporters the governing body of the top legislative chamber is setting up a special commission of 27 senators to make the first assessment of the measures on Tuesday.

Regional Catalan President Carles Puigdemont can make an appeal of the measures by appearing before the commission before Thursday at noon or by sending an envoy.

The special commission is then expected to approve a final proposal that will be taken to the plenary session on Friday for final approval. The ruling Popular Party has an absolute majority in the chamber and is expected to receive wide support from opposition senators for measures to keep Spain unified.


5:15 p.m.

FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu says the famed soccer club is backing the leaders of Catalonia in response to the Spanish government's decision to take over the regional government.

Bartomeu said Saturday that "the fact that people have been imprisoned for their political ideas is unacceptable in the 21st century. No one can question Barcelona's commitment to Catalan society and its democratic institutions."

To block the Catalan independence push, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy wants the Senate to give him direct power to dissolve the regional Catalan government and call an early election.

Bartomeu says Barcelona sides with those who defend the Catalan people's right to vote in a referendum for independence. He also said the club aims to remain in the Spanish league.

He says "we demand respect for Barcelona and the plurality of its members. We can't allow ourselves to become a tool manipulated for political interests."

Barcelona leads the Spanish LaLiga and hosts Malaga later tonight.


3:00 p.m.

Catalonia's vice president was one of the first regional cabinet members to react to the announcement that Spanish authorities are seeking to dissolve the cabinet and take control of the prosperous territory.

Oriol Junqueras promised to meet supporters at a protest scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Barcelona to take a stand "against totalitarianism"

He tweeted: "Today more than ever, let's defend democracy and civil and political rights."

Marta Rovira, the general secretary of the Junqueras' separatist ERC party, said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's actions are a "coup d'etat" designed to crush Catalonia's self-rule and aspirations of breaking away from Spain.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau has opposed a declaration of independence in Catalonia based on an the Oct. 1 referendum that Spain's Constitutional Court had suspended.

Colau nonetheless criticized the central government on Saturday and called its moves "a serious attack" on Catalonia's regional autonomy.


2:20 p.m.

Officials in Catalonia says regional leader Carles Puigdemont plans to join an afternoon protest before delivering a speech in response to the Spanish government's decision to take over the regional cabinet's functions.

In the streets of Barcelona, banging pots and pans and honking cars greeted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's announcement Saturday that the central government wants to replace the regional cabinet to block its bid to break away from Spain.

At the national level, Pablo Echenique, a secretary in the far-left Podemos party, vowed to work to oust Rajoy and his conservative Popular Party.

Pro-business Ciudadanos (Citizens) party president Albert Rivera says he supports the announced measures to heal divisions created by the Catalan independence movement and to provide the security companies need to remain in Catalonia.


1:50 p.m.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says he wants the Senate to give him direct power to dissolve the regional Catalan government and to call an early election as soon as possible.

Rajoy said after meeting with his Cabinet on Saturday that the central government needs to take the unprecedented step of assuming control of Catalonia to "restore order" in the face of a secession effort backed by the regional government.

He is proposing that the powers of Catalan officials be taken over by central government ministers.

Rajoy's government is activating a previously untapped constitutional article to take control of Catalonia.

The move is aimed at blocking the independence movement that has gained pace since a disputed Oct. 1 referendum on separating Catalonia from Spain.


11:50 a.m.

A spokeswoman for Spain's Constitutional Court says the court's website has been affected by a cyberattack of unknown origin.

The attack on Saturday came as social media accounts linked to the Anonymous hacktivist group had launched a campaign to "free Catalonia."

The spokeswoman says it only affected the court's website and no internal information was compromised. She requested anonymity in line with internal rules.

Spain's National Security Department said late on Friday that an undisclosed number of government websites had been hit in recent weeks with slogans supporting independence for the country's Catalonia region.

In a YouTube video posted by an account linked to Anonymous, the group announced actions that would be rolled out on Saturday as part of an "Operation Free Catalonia."


10.30 a.m.

A Cabinet meeting is underway in Madrid to outline government measures for taking control of the Catalonia region to stop regional authorities from breaking away from Spain.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is chairing the meeting at the Moncloa palace on Saturday.

The measures could include stripping some or all of the top Catalan officials of their authority and laying out a roadmap to an early regional election for as early as January.

Rajoy said Friday that the goal of revoking Catalan self-governance is "the return to legality and the recovery of institutional normalcy."

Members of the ruling separatist coalition in Catalonia have rejected the idea of fresh regional elections as a way out to the crisis.

Instead, they are threatening to make an explicit declaration of independence if central authorities go ahead with the intervention in the region's autonomous powers.


10:10 a.m.

The Spanish government is activating a previously untapped constitutional article to take control of the Catalonia region in a bid to stop a rebellion from separatist politicians.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Cabinet is meeting Saturday to outline the scope and timing of the measures the government plans to take under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

The article allows central authorities to intervene when one of Spain's 17 autonomous regions fails to comply with the law.

Rajoy could force the removal of Catalan officials and call early regional elections for as soon as January.

Opposition parties have agreed to support him in revoking Catalonia's autonomy. The specific measures need approval from the country's Senate.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has threatened to call a vote in the regional parliament for an explicit declaration of independence from Spain.

Laimbeer excited for chance to build Las Vegas franchise Sat, 21 Oct 2017 11:10:40 -0400 NEW YORK (AP) Bill Laimbeer found himself at a crossroad.

His contract with the New York Liberty was up and he wasn't sure if he wanted to stay or move on. He had spent the last few years grooming Katie Smith to be the team's next head coach and felt the time was right for her to take over the team, which lost in the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

The 60-year-old Laimbeer could stay with New York as the team's general manager or find employment elsewhere.

His decision was made a bit easier when his phone rang a few weeks ago. An executive at MGM Resorts International asked him to be the coach and president of the new WNBA team that was moving from San Antonio to Las Vegas.

"I said I'd talk to my wife," Laimbeer said. "At the end of the day, I like challenge and I think this would be a great experience."

Laimbeer accepted the new position, which he will start Nov. 1.

"I'm looking at a huge task in front of me," Laimbeer said. "First I have to build a staff from everything from video coordinator and interns to my assistants to basketball ops people. I've been making lists and lists and lists."

His task is a little easier than other startup franchises because MGM has been in the entertainment business for years.

"I think it's new to them. They understand arenas, they understand all that goes into the logistics and selling tickets," Laimbeer said. "The basketball part they are into, but it's not something they've really done before. I have the experience that I can navigate and explain what this is and how it works and what the opportunities are. I know all the infrastructure and the how-to. My job is to set everything up."

Finding those people won't be so hard, as Laimbeer said his phone has been ringing nonstop since it was announced that he took the job.

MGM will not be the first company with casino holdings to own a WNBA team. The Mohegan Sun owns the team in Connecticut. The blueprint for Nevada is somewhat similar.

"While other teams are restocking their cupboards, we have to order things from scratch like basketballs, athletic tape, nearly everything," Laimbeer said.

This will be the first professional basketball team in Las Vegas, which has become a coveted target for sports franchises over the past few years.

The expansion Vegas Golden Knights began their first NHL season this month. In March, the NFL formally approved the Oakland Raiders' relocation to Las Vegas by the 2020 season to occupy a proposed new stadium on the Las Vegas Strip, although the deal wasn't approved until casino mogul Sheldon Adelson pulled out of the financing plan.

The Golden Knights play at MGM's T-Mobile Arena, but the casino doesn't own the team.

"This is the first pro sports team that MGM resorts owns and it's a great alignment frankly with the DNA of our company," said Lilian Tomovich, MGM's chief experience and marketing officer.

Laimbeer inherits a team that finished last for the second straight year. San Antonio has a talented young nucleus with Kayla McBride, Moriah Jefferson and Kelsey Plum. The team also has the top chance to get the No. 1 pick in next year's draft.

"They need a change of culture," Laimbeer said. "Any time you get a team that's beat down record-wise, you have to have a catalyst for a change. This is a tremendous catalyst. Going to an exciting venue and situation where there's resources. I have been successful creating a team that can compete. We can break out of this thing."

Laimbeer also thinks being in Las Vegas will be attractive to free agents.

"Players will want to come here," he said. "All the signs point to a great opportunity. We have to pick up the pieces and make it happen."

This is the second move for the franchise. It came to San Antonio from Utah in 2003. Led by Becky Hammon, the Stars reached the WNBA Finals in 2008. The team has finished with the league's worst record each of the past three seasons.


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