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World

    Several thousand people have taken to the streets across northwest Russia to protest a controversial plan to build a major waste plant there. Police in the regional capital of Arkhangelsk said Sunday that about 1,000 people attended a rally there while local media reported that more than 2,000 protesters showed up. Protesters also rallied in more than a dozen towns in the area against the dump. Local media reported three activists have been detained at Arkhangelsk rally on charges related to their participation in unsanctioned gatherings earlier this year. The outcry against plans for the waste plant in a pristine Russian forest gained national prominence earlier this year. Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked local officials to heed public concerns but the construction project has not been shelved.
  • Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain's main opposition Labour Party, insists he would serve a full term as prime minister if his party wins the next general election, which is widely expected to take place in the next few months. Countering speculation that the 70-year-old is considering standing down, Corbyn told the BBC on Sunday that he would lead Labour into the next election. Asked if he would serve a full term, Corbyn said: 'Of course.' Corbyn is at Labour's annual conference in the southern English city of Brighton. The gathering has been overshadowed by an attempt by a close ally of Corbyn's to oust his deputy Tom Watson, a move that was abandoned after Corbyn intervened. Watson has upset many of Corbyn's left-wing supporters by seeking to make Labour an anti-Brexit party.
  • A humanitarian ship with 182 rescued migrants is sailing back and forth Sunday in international waters between Italy and Malta as it awaits permission from some European government to dock. The Ocean Viking, a Norwegian-flagged ship operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, rescued four groups of migrants fleeing Libya on human traffickers' unseaworthy boats last week. On Friday it disembarked 35 people it had rescued under Maltese orders because their migrant boat was in a Mediterranean Sea region under Malta's search-and-rescue responsibility. But the remaining 182 people, including 13 children under age 15 and a newborn, have so far been rejected by Malta and Italy, which contend that charity boats help Libyan-based human traffickers. Italy is demanding that other European nations take many of those rescued.
  • The World Health Organization has issued an unusual statement raising questions about whether Tanzania is covering up possible cases of the deadly Ebola virus, a significant cause for concern during a regional outbreak that has been declared a rare global health emergency. The statement Saturday says Tanzania's government 'despite several requests' is refusing to share the results of its investigations into a number of patients with Ebola-like symptoms and is refusing to ship patient samples to an outside WHO partner lab. Tanzania's government, which has said it has no Ebola cases, could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday. The cases would be the first-ever Ebola infections confirmed in the East African country. The United Nations health agency says it was made aware on Sept. 10 of the death in Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, of a patient suspected to have Ebola. A day later, it received unofficial reports that an Ebola test had come back positive. On Thursday, it received unofficial reports that a contact of the patient, who had traveled widely in the country, was sick and hospitalized. A rapid response is crucial in containing Ebola, which can be fatal in up to 90% of cases and is most often spread by close contact with bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms or with contaminated objects. The WHO statement said the lack of information from Tanzania made it difficult to assess potential risks. The Ebola outbreak based in neighboring Congo has infected over 3,000 people and killed nearly 2,000 of them. A few cases have been confirmed in neighboring Uganda as well, and other neighboring countries have been preparing for the outbreak's possible spread. This is not the first time health officials have raised serious questions about the suspected Tanzania cases. On Monday, the U.S. health and human services secretary, Alex Azar, told reporters in Uganda that he and others were 'very concerned about the lack of transparency' in Tanzania. Critics have shown increasing alarm as Tanzanian President John Magufuli's government has restricted access to key information and cracked down on perceived dissent. Lawmakers recently approved an amendment to a statistics law to make it a crime to distribute information not sanctioned by the government or which contradicts the government. The World Bank was among those expressing concern at that amendment. ___ Associated Press writer Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda contributed. ___ Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa
  • The European Union will insist that border controls be put up along the Irish border if Britain leaves the bloc without a deal and the British government will be responsible for that, a top EU official said. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, told Sky News in an interview broadcast Sunday that the blame for that would rest squarely on Britain. Border controls could in theory go up soon after Oct. 31, Britain's scheduled departure date. Brussels was 'in no way responsible' for the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, Juncker told Sky News. 'We have to make sure that the interests of the European Union and of the internal market will be preserved,' he said. How to maintain a frictionless border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, is the thorniest issue in the Brexit discussions. An invisible border is a key component of 1998's Good Friday peace accord that brought peace in Northern Ireland after decades of sectarian violence. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is insisting that the Irish border provision in the Brexit deal negotiated by his predecessor, Theresa May, be scrapped. The so-called Irish backstop is effectively a guarantee that no border will go up on the island of Ireland by requiring that Britain stick to EU trade rules — even though it won't have any say in the formulation of those rules after Brexit — until the two sides have negotiated a comprehensive trade deal. That would leave Britain locked into the EU's orbit for years. British lawmakers rejected May's deal three times this year, with many doing so because of their opposition to the backstop. Johnson is trying to get the EU to agree to replace the backstop with 'alternative arrangements' — a mix of technology to replace border checks and a common area for agricultural products and animals covering the whole island of Ireland. Juncker said he is open to alternative arrangements, but noted that in a no-deal Brexit, an animal entering Northern Ireland could then enter the EU via Ireland if there are no border controls. 'This will not happen,' he said. 'We have to preserve the health and the safety of our citizens.' Under the rules of the EU's single market, goods and people can move across the 28 countries seamlessly. Johnson got elected by Conservative Party members in July on the promise that the country will leave the EU on Oct. 31 come what may. British lawmakers, however, have passed a law that says the prime minister has to request an extension to the Brexit date if Parliament does not back a deal or a no-deal departure by Oct. 19. That law has raised questions on exactly when the country will leave. Parliament is now suspended until Oct. 14, just over two weeks before the U.K. is due to leave the EU. However, it may be forced to return if the Supreme Court decides this week that Johnson's request broke the law when he suspended Parliament. The Supreme Court is deciding whether Johnson unlawfully shut Parliament to prevent lawmakers from scrutinizing his plan to leave the EU with or without a divorce deal. Opponents also accuse him of misleading Queen Elizabeth II, whose formal approval was needed to suspend the legislature. The government says that Johnson acted lawfully and the issue of suspending parliament is one for politicians, not the courts. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government will respect the Supreme Court's ruling on Johnson's move to suspend Parliament. 'Of course, we will respect whatever the legal ruling is from the Supreme Court,' he told the BBC on Sunday. Pressed on whether Northern Ireland could have different EU customs arrangements than the rest of the UK, Raab said: 'No, of course, that would be wrong.' ___ Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and British politics at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
  • More than 600,000 travelers with Thomas Cook were on edge Sunday wondering if they will be able to get home as one of the world's oldest and largest travel companies teetered on the edge of collapse. The company, which confirmed Friday it was seeking 200 million pounds ($250 million) in extra funding to avoid going bust, was in last-ditch talks with shareholders and creditors to stave off a collapse. Sky News reported that discussions were taking place Sunday at the London-based headquarters of law firm Slaughter & May. Thomas Cook would not comment on that report but said it has sought to reassure customers that their flights are continuing to operate as normal. It said most package holidays for British travelers are protected by the ATOL insurance scheme. The financial difficulties were also raising questions about the jobs of the 22,000 staff employed by Thomas Cook around the world, including 9,000 in Britain. The tour operator recently raised 900 million pounds ($1.12 billion) in new capital, including from its leading Chinese shareholder Fosun. Unions and the main opposition Labour Party have urged the British government to intervene financially to save jobs if the company cannot raise the necessary funds. A collapse could leave around 150,000 travelers from Britain stranded, along with hundreds of thousands of travelers from other countries. In that scenario, Britain's Civil Aviation Authority would likely be ordered by the government to launch a major repatriation operation to fly stranded vacationers home, much like it did when Monarch Airlines went bust nearly two years ago. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said British holidaymakers will not be left stranded and that contingency planning was underway. 'I don't want to give all the details of it because it depends on the nature of how people are out there,' he told the BBC. 'But I can reassure people that, in the worst-case scenario, the contingency planning is there to avoid people being stranded.' Thomas Cook, which first started operating in 1841 with a one-day train excursion in England, has been struggling over the past few years for a variety of reasons. In May, the company reported in half-year results that it had a net debt burden of 1.25 billion pounds and cautioned that political uncertainty related to Britain's departure from the European Union had led to softer demand for summer holiday travel. Heatwaves over the past couple of summers in Europe have prompted many potential vacationers to stay at home, while higher fuel and hotel costs have weighed on the travel business. The company's troubles appear to be already afflicting those travelling under the Thomas Cook banner. One British vacationer told BBC radio that the Les Orangers beach resort in the Tunisian town of Hammamet, near Tunis, was demanding that visitors pay extra money for fear it won't be paid what it is owed by Thomas Cook. Ryan Farmer from Leicestershire told the BBC early Sunday that the hotel had summoned guests who were due to leave to go to its reception and 'pay additional fees, obviously because of the situation with Thomas Cook.' He said many tourists refused the demand since they had already paid Thomas Cook, so the hotel's security guards shut the hotel's gates and 'were not allowing anyone to leave.' It was like 'being held hostage,' said Farmer, who is due to leave Tuesday. He said he would also refuse to pay if the hotel asked him. The Associated Press called the hotel, as well as the British embassy in Tunis, but no officials or managers were available for comment.
  • Jailed Tunisian media magnate Nabil Karoui said he's 'reasonably optimistic' about winning Tunisia's presidential runoff, where he is facing independent law professor Kais Saied. They beat out two dozen other candidates in the first-round of voting on Sept. 15. No date has been set yet for the presidential runoff in the North African nation but Tunisia's electoral body says it will take place by Oct. 13. The 56-year-old Karoui, co-owner of private TV station Nessma TV, was jailed Aug. 23 pending an investigation into alleged money laundering and tax evasion charges. He has said he's the victim of a smear campaign. He was allowed to remain in the race because he has not been convicted but he said he felt being in jail cost him many votes. The Associated Press sent questions to his lawyer, Kamel Ben Messaoud, who responded Saturday night with Karoui's comments. In those written answers, Karoui said 'of course we have a chance, because it's a second round and both candidates will restart from scratch.' Karoui said he celebrated his qualification for the runoff last week with his cellmates. Karoui, who has positioned himself as an advocate for the poor, said he wants to be released to be able to campaign on an equal footing with his adversary. He denounced a 'serious denial of justice and democracy' and said it is 'against the will' of the people who voted for him. Considered very conservative, the 61-year-old Saied, who is not affiliated with any political party, emerged as the outsider of the vote. 'I'm not in competition or in a race with anyone,' Saied told The Associated Press earlier this week. '(Tunisians) are free to choose who they want.' The election was called early after the death in office in July of President Beji Caid Essebsi. It is Tunisia's second democratic presidential election since the 2011 revolution that toppled autocratic leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, unleashing the Arab Spring uprisings across the region. Ben Ali died Thursday at age 83 in Saudi Arabia.
  • Many residents in Albania's capital of Tirana and the port city of Durres have not gone back to their homes after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake injured 105 people and damaged hundreds of buildings. Authorities say the Saturday afternoon quake was followed by more than 100 aftershocks. It also damaged about 600 homes and temporarily knocked out power and water facilities in Tirana, Durres and some other western and central districts. Many people fled their homes when the quake hit at 4:04 p.m., with at least 500 spending the night in temporary shelters. Experts on Sunday inspected damaged homes and buildings and raised more emergency tents. Defense Minister Olta Xhacka, speaking at a Cabinet meeting, said 'luckily oil wells were not damaged.' Prime Minister Edi Rama said he had phone calls from his Italian, French, German and other European counterparts offering assistance. Johannes Hahn, European Union's budget and administration commissioner and former enlargement one, tweeted that '#EU immediately offered assistance.' Located along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Albania is earthquake-prone and registers seismic activity every few days.
  • After two years on the run with the Islamic State group, Um Mahmoud just wanted to return home. When she finally made it to Raqqa with her daughters and grandchildren, she found her home partially burned but livable. She also found a hostile city reluctant to take her back. The 53-year-old seamstress had returned from al-Hol camp, where 73,000 people, most of them families of IS militants, have been kept since the territorial defeat of the group in March. But there is little trust in the returnees in Raqqa, which IS ruled with a brutal hand for years and which suffered massive devastation in the fight to drive it out. Um Mahmoud's neighbors and relatives in Raqqa have shunned her. 'No one asks about us,' said the mother of six. 'Relatives are ... afraid of us.' Her return, in June, is part of an experiment by the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led administration that runs northeastern Syria — an attempt to bring reconciliation to Raqqa after the upheaval that tore apart its social fabric. City administrators have allowed the return of nearly 700 families from al-Hol. The camp includes some 30,000 Syrians, mostly women and children, along with tens of thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of foreigners. Most of those foreigners' home countries have refused to take them back. The administration here argues it's better to bring the families back into the fold rather than leave them stewing in radicalism. The return is coordinated with Arab tribal sheikhs, who vouch for the returnees, acting as guarantors they will not cause trouble. Thousands more Syrians in the camp have applied to return. The results of the experiment are still uncertain, Um Mahmoud's case makes clear. She and her family spoke on condition they not be identified by their full names because of the stigma they face. Um Mahmoud means mother of Mahmoud in Arabic, a common way of addressing women in the Arab and Muslim world that uses the name of their firstborn son. She and her family fled Raqqa in the summer of 2017 when IS ordered their neighborhood evacuated in the face of advances by the U.S.-backed forces and coalition airstrikes. They moved with the retreating militants from town to town over the following months, until the group's final showdown in the eastern village of Baghouz. Two of her sons and a son-in-law were killed while fighting or working for IS. She emerged from Baghouz and was sent to al-Hol along with her three daughters and three grandchildren. Her husband, father, her surviving 14-year-old son and a son-in-law are in detention with the Kurdish-led forces. The son-in-law was sentenced to a year in prison for membership in IS, though it was determined he didn't fight. Without her male relatives, Um Mahmoud returned to a Raqqa that is trying to move on. Streets that were once unidentifiable under piles of debris have been cleared, and municipality workers are keeping them clean. Many tall buildings in the skyline are still bombed-out skeletons, but residents have moved in, rebuilding apartments or opening shops. New restaurants have sprung up, some along the banks of the river running across the city. Billboards rise over busy streets. One advertised a new wedding planning business that commissions singers, banned under IS. Vegetables from nearby farms color street stands. Public parks brim with children and their families. Officials say more than 800,000 people have returned to the city and its suburbs, nearly eight times the number who were still left in the city when IS was finally expelled in October 2017. Local officials said they restored 18 of 24 water pumping stations damaged by fighting. More than 300 schools, out of 800, now operate with tens of thousands of students. The U.S-led coalition has trained more than 7,500 men and women for Raqqa's internal security forces and refurbished 20 bridges destroyed in the fighting. A U.S. State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity to brief reporters, said 'very targeted' spending has been going into newly liberated areas to ensure that IS doesn't return. Washington, which last year froze its own planned funding for stabilization in northeast Syria, has raised more than $325 million from other nations for recovery operations. The official, however, acknowledged that the 'mission is not complete.' IS retreated to desert areas and melted in among the population. It's now waging a counterinsurgency, targeting local officials and security checkpoints. At least six attacks were recorded in Raqqa alone in August, compared to none the month before, according to the Rojava Information Center. The violence only stokes Raqqa residents' suspicions. Osama, who runs a shop selling phone credit in Raqqa, said Kurdish-led authorities are too lenient on IS supporters in court and shouldn't allow them back. 'Who can guarantee they don't return to their old ways?' he said. He refused to share his last name out of fear for his security. During their rule, IS militants threatened to cut his tongue for his vocal criticism. His shop is on al-Naim Square, which became notorious for beheadings, shootings and other public punishments the group carried out there. Now it has been renamed Freedom Square. 'If France and Germany refuse to take their own nationals, it must be for a good reason. Why should we take ours?' he said. Um Mahmoud's sponsor, Sheikh Hweidi al-Shalsh, said that view is short-sighted. Women and children in al-Hol camp are steeped in radical ideology, he said, feeding more radicalism unless they are removed. 'If there is no security, the return of the people of Raqqa will ensure it is restored,' al-Shalsh said. He extolled the benefits of tribal restorative justice. If someone is killed, tribal sheikhs get together to find a resolution. 'We are a tribal Muslim society first and foremost. Our nature is to forgive ... We are a family.' Um Mahmoud scrapes out a living selling second-hand clothes in the market. She sold her gold bracelets to start up the business. Unlike most in the city, she and her daughters still follow the women's dress imposed by IS, covering not only their faces with a veil but also their eyes and hands. 'The State is gone, but we are still implementing God's laws,' she said, defending the choice. She is stunned by how her neighbors have ostracized her. 'Look at this! They have electricity and we don't. This one and that one,' she said pointing at her neighbors' houses. 'They don't feel for us. We are women sitting in the dark alone and they have 24 hours a day electricity. Is this what you call freedom?' Since electricity has not been fully restored, residents rely on generators for power and traditionally share among themselves. Um Mahmoud's neighbors refused to share with her. Um Mahmoud admitted her sons and sons-in-law fought for or were members of IS, but she said her family never hurt the neighbors. She accused them of trying to curry favor with the new authorities. Her family also said they encountered problems with city officials, despite promises of reintegration. When her daughter, Somaiya, asked to visit her imprisoned husband, authorities requested proof of marriage. But the local official refused to issue her the document, declaring her an IS supporter. Somaiya went three times, once removing her face veil to avoid the IS label, to no avail. This means she also can't enroll her son in school. A senior Kurdish official, not familiar with this specific case, denied new returnees are refused documents and said the reason must be procedural. The whole point is reintegration, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The American official said the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and local authorities are leading the reintegration effort, while the U.S.-backed coalition gives indirect support. Once her husband is released from prison, Somaiya wants to move to a new neighborhood where no one recognizes them. For Um Mahmoud, life would change if her husband, father and son return. She said they never carried weapons and should be allowed back. To prove she wants to fit in, she said her son will join the new Kurdish-led forces once he returns. For now, she doesn't know where they are. 'Not a night passes without thinking about them. If we can only learn their news, whether they are well or if they are dead,' she said. 'We are patiently waiting until God resolves it and we return to our normal life.
  • Iran's president called Sunday on Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran, criticizing a new U.S.-led coalition patrolling the region's waterways as nationwide parades showcased the Islamic Republic's military arsenal. President Hassan Rouhani separately promised to unveil a regional peace plan at this week's upcoming high-level meetings at the United Nations, which comes amid heightened Mideast tensions following a series of attacks, including a missile-and-drone assault on Saudi Arabia's oil industry. The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the Sept. 14 attack on the world's largest oil processor in the kingdom and an oil field, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War. While Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels claimed the assault, Saudi Arabia says it was 'unquestionably sponsored by Iran.' For its part, Iran denies being responsible and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an 'all-out war.' That's as it has begun enriching uranium beyond the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from over a year earlier. Rouhani spoke from a riser at the parade in Tehran, with uniformed officers from the country's military and its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard beside him. The cleric later watched as goose-stepping soldiers carrying submachine guns and portable missile launchers drove past as part of 'Holy Defense Week,' which marks the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980. Rouhani said Iran was willing to 'extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood' to Persian Gulf nations and was 'even ready to forgive their past mistakes.' 'Those who want to link the region's incidents to the Islamic Republic of Iran are lying like their past lies that have been revealed,' the president said. 'If they are truthful and really seek security in the region, they must not send weapons, fighter jets, bombs and dangerous arms to the region.' Rouhani added that the U.S. and Western nations should 'distance' themselves from the region. 'Your presence has always been a calamity for this region and the farther you go from our region and our nations, the more security would come for our region,' he said. He said Iran's plan would focus on providing security in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman 'with help from regional countries.' Iran has boosted its naval cooperation with China, India, Oman, Pakistan, and Russia in recent years. The U.S. maintains defense agreements across the Persian Gulf with allied Arab nations and has tens of thousands of troops stationed in the region. Since 1980, it has viewed the region as crucial to its national security, given its energy exports. A fifth of all oil traded passes through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf. The U.S. plans to send additional troops to the region over the tensions. The parades and maneuvers Sunday appeared aimed at projecting Iranian strength with naval vessels, submarines and armed speedboats swarmed across the Persian Gulf and troops showed off land-to-sea missiles capable of targeting the U.S. Navy. Commandos fast-roped down onto the deck of a ship, resembling Iran's July seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker. Iranian ship seizures, as well as oil tanker explosions that the U.S. blames on Iran, saw America create a new coalition to protect Mideast waters. So far, Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to join it. Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani called the U.S-led coalition a 'a new means for plundering the region,' according to Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency. 'We regard the emergence of such coalitions as the start of a new game to make the region insecure,' Larijani said, according to Tasnim. Iran separately displayed its Khordad-3 surface-to-air missile that downed a U.S. military surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz in June. Sunday also marked the one-year anniversary of an attack on a military parade in Ahvaz that killed 25 people. Both separatists and the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the assault, while Iran blamed Saudi Arabia and the UAE for allegedly supporting the attackers. Both nations denied the claim, though a propaganda video published by a semi-official news agency in Iran close to the Guard later circulated threatening them with missile attacks. ___ Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.