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The Latest Headlines From Around the World

    Chile is one of the richest countries in the region. Haiti is the poorest. Ecuador has a centrist government. Bolivia's is socialist. Yet, from Port-au-Prince to Santiago, furious demonstrators were marching this week to demand fundamental change, part of a wave of often-violent protests that has set tires, government offices, trains and metro stations ablaze across Latin America and the Caribbean. What's driving the protests thousands of miles apart, across countries with profoundly different politics, economies, cultures and histories? One important factor: Despite their differences, the countries hit by fiery protests this month saw often-dizzying commodity-driven growth in the first decade of this century, followed by a slump or stall as prices dropped for key exports. Even Haiti , its own economy largely stagnant, saw billions in aid from oil-rich Venezuela flood in, then disappear. That pattern of boom then slackening is a dangerous one for less-than-agile leaders. It expands the middle class, creating citizens who feel entitled to receive more from their governments, and empowered to demand it. And it sharpens the sense of unfairness for those left out of the boom, who see neighbors prospering while they stand still or slide backward. Chile, the world's largest copper producer, boomed from 2000 to 2014 before growth dropped off. The average Chilean still earns roughly $560 to $700 a month, income that makes it hard for many to pay their bills. Then, last week, an independent panel implemented a 4-cent subway fare increase that the Chilean government initially said was needed to cope with rising oil prices and a weaker local currency. For thousands of Chileans, it was a final indignity after years of struggling as the country prospered. Clashes wracked Chile for a sixth day Wednesday, with the death toll at 18 in an upheaval that has almost paralyzed a country long seen as an oasis of stability. 'People went out to protest because they feel the government cares more about the wealthy, and that social programs help the very poor but the rest of the population is left to care for themselves,' said Patricio Navia, an adjunct assistant professor at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University. 'They are not poor enough to get government subsidies, nor rich enough to get government tax credits. They revolted to make their voice heard.' Marta Lagos, the Santiago, Chile-based director of the polling firm Latinobarometro, said Chile's growth rates hid the over-concentration of wealth in the hands of the elite. Like Chile, oil-rich Ecuador saw a steep rise in GDP as oil topped $100 a barrel and President Rafael Correa built multi-lane highways, airports and universities. Then oil slumped, leaving Ecuador with billions in debt and a steep annual budget shortfall. Correa's successor, Lenín Moreno, took out a three-year $4.2 billion IMF credit line and this month announced a $1.3 billion austerity package that included the elimination of fuel subsidies and a resulting sharp rise in gasoline and diesel prices. That sent Ecuadorians to the streets, led by the country's well-organized, mostly rural indigenous peoples, many of whom are subsistence farmers who saw little to no benefit from the boom years. As a law professor, Mariana Yumbay is better off than most people in Ecuador's mountainous Bolivar province, who raise corn and potato or herds of cattle, pigs and sheep. Even as Ecuador prospered under Correa, indigenous farmers in Bolivar depended on rainfall because they have no irrigation networks, she said. More than 40 percent of children are malnourished and many people live on about $30 a month. 'Unfortunately the state hasn't had a policy of steering economic resources to pull indigenous people and farmers out of poverty,' Yumbay, 46, said this month as she protested outside Ecuador's National Assembly. Moreno ended the protests by agreeing to restore the subsidies, a solution that analysts said left him weakened and facing the same economic troubles that loomed before nearly two weeks of often-violent protests. Haiti was worse off than any other country in the region at the start of the new century but saw an infusion of billions of dollars in highly subsidized oil from Venezuela starting in 2009. Another factor: the flood of international aid after the country's devastating 2010 earthquake. When oil slumped and Venezuela's economy collapsed, the subsidized fuel ended, and the already-impoverished island suffered regular gasoline shortages. Investigations by Haiti's Senate and a federal auditor alleged that government officials had embezzled and misappropriated billions in proceeds from the Venezuelan program known as Petrocaribe. Fueled partly by a group of internet-savvy young Haitians known as the Petrocaribe Challengers, street protests erupted that organizers say won't stop until President Jovenel Moise leaves office. In Bolivia, President Evo Morales has had 14 years of low inflation and strong GDP growth of 4% a year on average, thanks largely to earnings during the commodities-boom years. In recent years, the country's income from natural gas sales has been dropping due to falling prices, drops in reserves and less demand from Brazil and Argentina. Experts say the economy is looking increasingly fragile. Against that backdrop, the popularity he won for his economic management and infrastructure investment has been weakened by corruption scandals in his administration and his insistence on seeking re-election despite losing a referendum on the issue. After allegations of fraud in the Sunday election, protests multiplied across Bolivia outside vote-counting centers this week. Rioting was reported in at least six of Bolivia's nine regions and in the national capital of La Paz, police used tear gas in attempts to quell fighting between supporters of Morales and opponent Carlos Mesa outside a vote-counting center. Protesters threw firecrackers and stones. Morales' opponents burned election offices and ballots in several cities and called for a strike on Wednesday, Morales said his opponents are trying to stage a coup. ___ Associated Press writer Michael Weissenstein reported this story from Havana and AP writer Luis Andres Henao reported from Buenos Aires, Argentina. AP writers Eva Vergara in Santiago, Chile, and Carlos Valdez and Paola Flores in La Paz, Bolivia, contributed to this report. ___ Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein
  • Once again, Syrian President Bashar Assad has snapped up a prize from world powers that have been maneuvering in his country's multifront wars. Without firing a shot, his forces are returning to towns and villages in northeastern Syria where they haven't set foot for years. Assad was handed one victory first by U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw American troops from northeastern Syria, analysts said. Then he got another from a deal struck between Turkey and Russia, Damascus' ally. Abandoned by U.S. forces and staring down the barrel of a Turkish invasion, Kurdish fighters had no option but to turn to Assad's government and to Russia for protection from their No. 1 enemy. For once, the interests of Damascus, Moscow and Ankara came into alignment. Turkey decided it was better having Assad's forces along the border, being helped by Russia, than to have the frontier populated by Kurdish-led fighters, whom it considers to be terrorists. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan struck a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin that allows Syrian troops to move back into a large part of the territory and ensure Kurdish fighters stay out. The Kurds once hoped an alliance with Washington would strengthen their ambitions for autonomy, but now they are left hoping they can extract concessions from Moscow and Damascus to keep at least some aspects of their self-rule. Turkey, which had backed rebels trying to oust Assad, has now implicitly given the Syrian leader 'de facto recognition,' said Lina Khatib, head of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House. 'Assad and Russia see this recognition as the beginning of international community normalization with the Assad regime, and as such an indication of their victory in the war,' she said. It's a method that Assad has used successfully before, positioning himself as the lesser of two evils in the eyes of those who might want him gone. Throughout Syria's civil war, he has presented the conflict as a choice between him and jihadis. Fear of the extremists watered down enthusiasm in Washington and other Western governments for fully backing the rebels. 'Assad has been benefiting from two narratives: shaping the Syrian uprising as a regional war and reminding that there is no viable alternative to his rule,' said Joe Macaron, a resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington D.C. Trump's 'America First' policy, with its sometimes chaotic and impulsive shifts, has been a godsend for Assad. Last year, Trump called Assad an 'animal' following a suspected chemical weapons attack near Damascus, carrying out limited airstrikes as punishment. But the U.S. president has repeatedly said he's not interested in removing Assad from power or keeping American troops involved in 'endless wars' in the region's 'blood-soaked sands.' He has welcomed having Russia and Assad's government fill the void. Backing from Russia and Iran also has enabled Assad to simply outlast his opponents. With the help of Russian airstrikes since 2015, the Syrian military has recaptured town after town from the rebels. Abandoned and exhausted, the insurgents have repeatedly submitted to deals with Assad that allowed them to leave their besieged enclaves with safe passage to the north. But the Russian-Turkish agreement is not all good news for Assad. It allows Turkey to keep control over a significant chunk of northeastern Syria, a belt of land 120 kilometers (75 miles) wide and 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep that it captured in its invasion. Turkey already holds a larger piece of the border in the northwest, captured in previous incursions. Syrian forces will move into the rest of the border zone. But in a strip immediately at the border, Russian and Turkish forces will hold joint patrols, with only Syrian 'border guards' in place, suggesting a presence in limited numbers. Elsewhere, a large wedge of eastern Syria remains in the hands of the Kurdish-led fighters. That includes the bulk of Syria's oil fields, depriving Damascus of control over a crucial resource and giving the Kurds a major bargaining chip. Trump has said some U.S. troops will remain there to help Kurds 'secure' the oil fields. 'Given where the regime was a few months ago, the regime is expanding its control,' Macaron said, but it has to live with its opponents' presence on its soil and with Russia preventing any confrontation with them. Politically, Tuesday's images of the leaders of Turkey and Russia poring over maps and drawing up the future of northern Syria illustrated just how irrelevant Damascus is when it comes to negotiations. Perhaps intentionally, Assad for the first time visited areas captured from rebels in Idlib province, the last enclave they held in Syria. State TV showed Assad greeting military commanders and watching troops fire artillery. He talked of rallying 'popular resistance' against Turkey 'to expel the invader sooner or later.' But the new agreement almost certainly made Syrian military action against Turkish forces impossible. More likely, Assad will wait them out and maneuver for an opportunity to regain the rest of the land. A political bargain that achieves that somewhere down the line is not completely far-fetched. Assad and Erdogan once had a close working relationship. In 2004, Assad became the first Syrian president to visit Ankara, helping overcome decades of animosity over territorial disputes, water resources and Damascus' support at the time for Kurdish separatists in Turkey. Erdogan then switched sides and backed the rebels in Syria's civil war. In recent years, however, he has been more concerned with recruiting rebel factions to fight the Kurds. Last year, Ankara signaled it would consider working with Assad once again if he won free and fair elections. Now Turkey is entrusting the border in part to Assad. Other countries similarly have concluded they have no other choice. Calls have increased from Arab countries to readmit Syria to the Arab League. The United Arab Emirates reopened an embassy in Damascus, the most significant Arab overture yet toward the Assad government, almost certainly coordinated with Saudi Arabia. Bahrain followed suit the next day, The Sunni Muslim Gulf countries hope to curb their Shiite-led foe, Iran, which saw its influence expand rapidly in Syria's war. 'Assad will use the developments in northeast Syria to continue to pursue his strategy of presenting himself as the winning de facto authority in Syria who the international community has no choice but to cooperate with against extremist groups,' Khatib said.
  • Tens of thousands of protesters flooded Chile's capital, setting up flaming barricades and clashing with riot police Wednesday after an apology and promises of economic reforms from President Sebastián Piñera failed to quell unrest and rioting has led to at least 18 deaths. Trade unionists in the world's top copper-producing country joined demonstrators with a general strike in a movement that started with anger at a small rise in subway fares, but expanded into protests against inequality and to demand improvements in education, health care and wages in one of Latin America's wealthiest, but most unequal nations. Many protesters in Santiago waved the national flag and shouted: 'Chile has woken up!' Police responded by spraying water cannons and firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Similar scenes were repeated in towns and cities all along the long, narrow South American country of 18 million people. Millions of students were still unable to attend classes, several subway stations were shut and long lines continued to form outside gas stations and supermarkets after many were torched or destroyed. The unrest erupted last week when students began to jump subway station turnstiles to protest a 4-cent subway fare rise that the Chilean government said was needed to cope with rising oil prices and a weaker currency. Most of the protests have been peaceful with demonstrators of all ages banging pots to demand reforms. But the unrest also involved riots, arson and looting that have wracked Chile for six days, nearly paralyzing a country long seen as an oasis of stability. On Tuesday night, Piñera announced economic reforms including an increase in state pension and a minimum wage hike. But many say the 69-year-old billionaire businessman reacted late and the announcement failed to calm anger in the streets. The protests divided Chileans. 'You don't know what can happen to you,' said retiree Magaly Munoz. 'I understand that people are dissatisfied, but they can't break into your home and loot businesses. I can't support that.' Human rights groups have expressed concerns about how security forces have handled the protests after the government ordered a military curfew. It was first such curfew — other than for natural disasters — imposed since the country returned to democracy in 1990 following a bloody 17-year dictatorship. 'We're worried,' José Miguel Vivanco Americas director at Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press. 'The images that we've received from credible sources, trustworthy sources show that there has been an excess of force both by police as well as some soldiers.' About 20,000 soldiers are patrolling the streets, nearly 200 people have injured and some 5,000 have been arrested. Shortly before the rioting broke out last week, Piñera boasted in an interview that Chile 'looks like an oasis' in the region because it has a stable democracy and a balanced and growing economy that has been creating jobs and improving pay. After the protests erupted, Piñera rolled back the subway hike while also declaring a state of emergency. He said this week that Chile is 'at war.' He then took a more conciliatory tone, apologizing and announcing an agenda calling for increasing the lowest monthly pensions from $151 to $181, raising the monthly minimum wage from $413 to $481 and rescinding a 92% rise in electricity rates scheduled to take effect next month. It would also include a tax increase for anyone earning more than $11,000 a month. Chile has long been regarded as the best-managed in Latin America. But like other nations in the region, it has suffered fiery protests in recent weeks after a commodities boom in the 2000s that brought prosperity was followed by lower prices. Education and medicines are costly, water has been privatized since the dictatorship and many Chileans receive miserly pensions while families earn $550 to $700 a month. __ Associated Press journalists Paul Byrne and Luis Andres Henao, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on Israeli efforts to form a government after last month's elections (all times local): 8:10 p.m. Israel's president has tasked former military chief Benny Gantz with forming the next government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to assemble a 61-seat majority coalition. The two rivals were deadlocked following last month's elections, with neither able to easily form a majority coalition, raising the possibility of an unprecedented third election in less than a year. President Reuven Rivlin formally granted the mandate to Gantz late Wednesday, giving him 28 days to form a government. If he fails, another member of parliament could potentially assemble a majority coalition, but that scenario has never happened. Gantz and Netanyahu together have enough seats to easily form a national unity government, but they are divided over who should lead it. ___ 2:15 p.m. Israel's former military chief Benny Gantz is set to receive an official mandate to form the country's next government but has few options after last month's elections left him in a near tie with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu was given the first opportunity to form a government after assembling a large right-wing bloc but announced this week that he failed to build a 61-seat majority. Gantz faces similarly steep odds, raising the possibility that Israel will hold a third election in less than a year. President Reuven Rivlin will formally later on Wednesday grant the mandate to Gantz, who will have 28 days to form a coalition. Both Gantz and Netanyahu say they favor a national unity government but are divided over who should lead it.
  • The first black leader of South Africa's largest opposition party resigned Wednesday in a blow to efforts to shed the liberal party's image as representing the country's white minority. Mmusi Maimane stepped down as the Democratic Alliance's leader shortly after the return of former party leader Helen Zille as its chair. Zille has been criticized over past comments suggesting that colonialism wasn't all bad. South Africans have been closely watching the party's drama this week, as race remains a sensitive issue in a country that is one of the world's most unequal 25 years after the end of the harsh system of white-minority rule known as apartheid. Tensions in the party have risen since the DA saw a loss of support in this year's general elections, winning 20.7% of votes, down from 22.2% in 2014, even as the ruling African National Congress saw its weakest victory in a quarter-century. Some of the DA's more conservative voters opted instead for the right-wing Afrikaner party Freedom Front Plus. A recent internal review heavily criticized Maimane for the poor election performance. He has been accused of pursuing the support of South Africa's black majority at the expense of the DA's traditional, mainly white, base. 'Over the past few months it has become more and more clear to me that there exists those in the DA who do not see eye-to-eye with me, who do not share the vision for the party and the direction it was taking,' Maimane told reporters while announcing his resignation. 'There have been several months of consistent and coordinated attacks on me and my leadership, to ensure that this project failed or I failed,' he added. Earlier this week the DA saw the resignation of Herman Mashaba, the mayor of South Africa's economic hub, Johannesburg, and another of the party's prominent black leaders. Political analyst Prince Mashele said the resignations signal a backward step for the party. 'The DA is going back to its original self, which is a party of white people, focusing on the interests of white, and nothing else,' Mashele said. 'I have no doubt that now that Mmusi is gone we will see an exodus of black leaders and members who will leave the party.' The analyst said the DA appeared to be more worried about 'the white voters who deserted the party and voted for the Freedom Front Plus than about black people not voting for them.' While the ruling ANC won a new low of 57.5% of the vote in this year's elections, hurt badly by public outrage over corruption, it was the populist Economic Freedom Fighters party that picked up ground. It won 10.7% of the vote, up from 6.3% five years ago in its first election showing. ___ Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa
  • A Sri Lankan parliamentary committee that investigated last April's Easter suicide bombings has concluded that the country's spy chief was primarily responsible for the intelligence failure that led to the deaths of 269 people in the attacks. In a report released Wednesday, the committee said State Intelligence Service chief Nilantha Jayawardena received information on possible attacks as early as April 4 — 17 days before the suicide bombings took place — but there were delays on his part in sharing the intelligence with other agencies. The report said Jayawardena's responsibility was compounded by the fact that he had asked higher-level officials nearly a year earlier to bring investigations into the ringleader of the April 21 attacks, Mohamed Zahran, under his sole purview. Sri Lanka's National Security Council met on April 9, with the defense ministry secretary asking Jayawardena for a briefing on Zahran, to which he responded that he would send a note later, the report said. 'If the matter was discussed, steps may have been taken to prevent the Easter Sunday attacks,' it said. Zahran, leader of a local Muslim group, was among the suicide bombers who participated in the attacks on three churches and three hotels. Five of the six attacks took place in and around Colombo, the capital. A total of seven suicide bombers died in the attacks, while another blew himself up later, after his explosives failed in a fourth Colombo hotel. The committee also said an open spat between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that led to a political crisis last year contributed to the security failures. The report said that Sirisena failed on 'numerous occasions to give leadership and also actively undermined government and systems including having ad hoc National Security Council meetings and leaving out key individuals from meetings.' Sirisena and Wickremesinghe are from different parties and formed a cohabitation government in 2015. They fell out and their spat broke into the open in October 2018, when Sirisena dismissed Wickremesinghe as prime minister. A court decision that restored Wickremesinghe as prime minister ended a 52-day government standstill. But from that point on, Sirisena did not involve Wickremesinghe in Security Council meetings. The report said that the State Intelligence Service did not report to the military on possible attacks until April 19. The next day, Jayawardena called the national police chief to say there was a high probability that an attack would occur on April 21. On Easter morning, Jayawardena called the police chief again to say that 'something dangerous would happen on that day,' the report said. He also called the secretary to the defense ministry, Hemasiri Fernando. Fernando was quoted in the report as saying that 'within a few minutes' of speaking to Jayawardena, 'I heard that there had been a bomb explosion at one of the hotels.' The committee recommended reforms in the security and intelligence sectors, improved monitoring of financial transactions, and the monitoring and controlling of religious extremism.
  • The European Parliament on Wednesday blocked a diluted proposal by the 28-nation bloc's executive arm on protecting bees from pesticides, arguing it didn't go far enough.  European lawmakers adopted a resolution urging the European Commission to 'table new legislation based on the latest scientific and technical knowledge.' They said the Commission weakened its initial proposal due to the opposition of 16 member states which did not want provisions in the draft on how pesticides should be tested to protect bees from chronic exposure. European lawmakers said the Commission only kept provisions protecting bees from acute exposure. The Commission's draft, they said, 'remains silent on chronic toxicity to honeybees, as well as on toxicity to bumble bees and solitary bees.' In their resolution adopted by 533 votes to 67 with 100 abstentions, they noted that the Commission's text 'would not change the level of protection' already in place and asked the Commission to come up with new proposals. Over recent years, there's been an alarming drop in bee populations, which has stoked fears of an ensuing impact on crop production given the central role of bees. According to figures released by the European Parliament, about 84% of crop species and 78% of wild flowers across the EU depend to some extent on animal pollination, and almost 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion) of the bloc's annual agricultural output 'is directly attributed to insect pollinators.' Last year, the EU banned three prevalent neonicotinoid pesticides on all crops grown outdoors after scientific evidence showed their risks. Greenpeace praised the vote against the Commission's proposal. 'The new Parliament has shown that it's serious about protecting Europe's threatened pollinators,' said Greenpeace EU food policy director, Franziska Achterberg. She said the incoming European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and her team can, like the Parliament, pass 'their first green test' and 'protect bees from dangerous pesticides.' The Commission decided earlier this week not to renew its approval for a fourth neonicotinoid pesticide known as thiacloprid.
  • Hanni Lévy, who survived the Holocaust hiding out in Berlin, has died. She was 95. Claus Raefle, a German movie director who knew Lévy, said Wednesday that Lévy's family informed him she had died overnight at her home in Paris. Her death was first reported by Jewish weekly Juedische Allgemeine. Raefle's 2017 film 'The Invisibles' tells the story of four Jews, including Lévy, trying to avoid deportation in the capital of Nazi Germany. Born Hanni Weißenberg in 1924, Lévy later recounted how she colored her hair blond and assumed the name Hannelore Winkler to evade suspicion. With the Nazis searching for her, Lévy managed to find shelter with non-Jewish Berliners who Israel honored after the war as Righteous Among the Nations. About 1,700 Jews survived the Holocaust in Berlin. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the German leader was mourning Lévy, an 'impressive woman' whom she met last year. 'The story of her life moved many people,' Seibert tweeted.
  • Israel's former military chief Benny Gantz was tasked Wednesday with forming the next government, but he has few options after last month's elections left him in a near tie with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu was given the first opportunity to form a government after assembling a large right-wing bloc but announced this week that he had failed to build a 61-seat majority. Gantz faces similarly steep odds, raising the possibility that Israel will hold a third election in less than a year. President Reuven Rivlin formally granted the mandate to Gantz, who will have 28 days to form a coalition. It is the first time in over a decade that anyone besides Netanyahu has been given the task. Gantz vowed to form a 'functioning' unity government that would 'strive for peace but know how to defeat every enemy.' A lifelong military man, Gantz has presented himself as a practical leader who can bridge Israel's many divisions and address the various security threats it faces. His low-key campaign was in sharp contrast to Netanyahu's, which was marked by breathless announcements about a suspected Iranian nuclear site and plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank. Gantz also presents himself as a more trustworthy alternative to the scandal-plagued Netanyahu and may hope to evoke past generals who became statesmen, including Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon. But he faces steep odds in every possible path to forming a government. He has been endorsed by just 54 lawmakers representing an array of parties that are unlikely to sit together in a coalition. Both Gantz and Netanyahu say they favor a national unity government. Together, Netanyahu's Likud and Gantz's Blue and White control a solid 65-seat majority. But the two men are divided over who should lead any new government. Netanyahu has insisted he head the government, at least for the first two years, and that it include his right-wing allies, conditions that Gantz has repeatedly rejected. Netanyahu is likely to be indicted on corruption charges in the coming weeks, and Gantz has said Netanyahu should resolve his legal troubles before returning to the top post. Blue and White nevertheless invited Likud negotiators to a meeting planned for Thursday. Addressing Netanyahu on Wednesday, Gantz called him a 'patriot' and said he hoped he could resolve his legal issues. 'It is clear to both of us that the elections outcome and the legal situation demand a change. Together with you and with the other good people at the Likud we must act with responsibility.' One path for Gantz would be to try and break up Netanyahu's right-wing alliance and recruit some of the smaller parties to his coalition. But that might be seen as a major betrayal by those parties' voters. Another option would be to form a minority government with Avigdor Lieberman, who emerged as kingmaker after his party won eight seats and has refused to endorse either Gantz or Netanyahu. Gantz might be able to convince the Arab Joint List, which won 13 seats, to support the coalition from the outside. That would bring down Netanyahu but result in a highly unstable government. It's also far from clear that Lieberman, a nationalist with a history of harsh rhetoric toward the Arab minority, would support such a scheme. No Arab party has ever sat in an Israeli government. The political deadlock dates back to April, when Lieberman refused to join a right-wing coalition under Netanyahu, denying him a majority. In response, parliament voted to dissolve itself, leading to an unprecedented repeat election in September. A similar scenario could play out again. The political deadlock has delayed the Trump administration's release of its long-awaited peace plan. The Palestinians have already rejected the plan, accusing the administration of extreme and unfair bias toward Israel. In giving Gantz the mandate, Rivlin once again implored Israel's political leaders to come together, saying there is 'no justification' to impose a third election on the country. 'If a government is formed, it is true that everyone will pay a price,' he said. 'But if such a government is not formed, Israeli citizens will pay the heaviest price.' ___ Associated Press writer Isaac Scharf in Jerusalem contributed.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump and Syria (all times local): 11:45 a.m. President Donald Trump says Turkey has informed the U.S. it will make 'permanent' a five-day cease-fire in Syria. In response, he says he's directing the lifting of economic sanctions on Turkey. Claiming success at the U.S.-brokered effort, Trump said Wednesday, 'this was an outcome created by us.' The cease-fire required Kurdish forces formerly allied with the U.S. against the Islamic State group to move out of a roughly 20-mile (32-kilometer) zone on the Turkish border. Trump says, 'We've saved the lives of many, many Kurds.' Trump says nearly all U.S. troops will be leaving Syria but some will remain to safeguard oil fields in Syria. Russian forces have since begun joint patrols with Kurdish forces along the Turkish-Syrian border. Trump says if Turkey breaches the cease-fire the sanctions could be reimposed. ___ 10:10 a.m. President Donald Trump says he'll make a statement from the White House later Wednesday morning on what he's calling the 'big success' along the Turkey-Syria border. Trump tweets that he'll discuss the cease-fire between Turkey and Syrian Kurdish forces. According to Trump, the Kurds are 'safe,' and he says captured Islamic State fighters are 'secured' in detention centers. But since Turkey invaded northern Syria, several hundred IS fighters have escaped from prison, U.S. troops have withdrawn from the area and America has lost influence in the region. Turkey and Russia reached an agreement Tuesday that would transform the map of northeast Syria, installing their forces along the border and filling the void left by the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • President Donald Trump said Wednesday in 'a major breakthrough' he is lifting all sanctions against Turkey. >> Read more trending news  The sanctions were imposed last week. Turkey will stop combat and the ceasefire will be permanent, the President said. 'We have saved the lives of many, many Kurds,' Trump said. 'We've done something that is very, very special.' Trump said Turkey and Syria must keep the peace.  'It's their neighborhood. They need to take care of it,' Trump said. 'Let someone else fight over this long bloodstained sand.' The president said a small number of troops would remain in Syria to protect oil interests. Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted there was 'Big success on the Turkey/Syria border.' 'Safe Zone created! Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended,' Trump tweeted. Turkey and Russia reached an agreement Tuesday, installing their forces along the border of northeast Syria after U.S. troops that were withdrawn from the area, The Associated Press reported. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Sochi, Russia, and revealed a 10-point memorandum about Syria, CNN reported. According to the memorandum, Turkish military and Russian military police will patrol the border. The United States was not included in the negotiations.
  • A Missouri man recently fired from his job at Arby’s for allegedly setting fires returned Saturday to the restaurant, where police allege he mutilated and decapitated a cat in the men’s restroom. Tanner Maggard, 19, of Lee’s Summit, is charged with second-degree animal abuse and second-degree property damage, according to online Jackson County court records. The animal abuse charge, which involves abuse by torture and/or mutilation while the animal was alive, is a felony. >> Read more trending news  WDAF in Kansas City obtained the court documents, including police reports that allege Maggard went to Arby’s on Saturday and placed an order before going into the restroom. When he came out, the records show, he asked the manager, “Oh, I see you remodeled the bathroom, huh?” Maggard went back into the restroom a short time later and was still in there when the manager went in to clean it. The manager told police he could hear Maggard in a stall, coughing and gagging. The manager left the restroom, followed by Maggard a short time later. Maggard went outside, the court documents say, according to WDAF. When the manager returned to finish his cleaning, he found a mutilated and decapitated cat on the diaper changing table in the stall where Maggard had been, the news station reported. Blood covered the walls, door and toilet. The manager told officers he went outside, where he spotted Maggard sitting in his truck, waiting to see his former boss’ reaction to the scene he had left behind, the court documents allege. Maggard then drove away. The records show that responding officers who processed the scene in the restroom did not detect the odor of decomposition, which indicated that the cat was recently killed, WDAF reported. Maggard repeatedly denied knowledge of the cat’s demise when questioned by detectives, the news station said. The restaurant did not have security cameras in place.  The restaurant had to replace the changing table and toilet in the stall and repaint the walls, the documents say. Online court records show Maggard was booked into the Jackson County Jail with bail set at $10,000. Maggard appeared to have bonded out as of Wednesday, according to jail records. Maggard is not allowed within 1,000 feet of the Arby’s. He is also not allowed to have contact with domesticated animals, the records show.
  • We told you about the Kitty Beautiful Cat Cafe earlier this month, now they're looking to hire young adults on the Autism spectrum. This new Orlando cafe is looking to give Autistic adults a big step towards independence. Heather Strauss is a co-owner of the cafe and a mom to two Autistic kids.  “I want to help take care of other people’s kids, kind of like how I want to take care of my own.” Strauss told me about the Autistic employee she just hired. “His parents started to cry, same way I would’ve. It just means the world because as a parent of kids on the Autism spectrum you’re always fighting for your kid, you’re always fighting for opportunities.” Autism disorders specialist, Kimberly Snoeblen, describes what makes Autistic people such great assets to the workforce.  “They have great abilities. They will be the person that’s always on time. They will be the person that follows the rules to the nth degree.” The Kitty Beautiful Cat Cafe will be having its grand opening the weekend of November 1st. Until then, Strauss plans to set up more young Autistic adults for success.
  • The search goes on for the man who a woman said grabbed her while she was jogging along the Northlake Parkway Trail in Lake Nona. According to the Orlando Police Department, the woman was on a run around 6:30 a.m. Sept. 23, when a man came behind her and touched her buttocks and her shoulder.  Police released a composite sketch Wednesday. They said detectives worked with the woman to create it.  Investigators said the man is described as Hispanic and in his early 20s. He stands 5 feet, 8 inches and has black spiky hair.  Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.  No other details were released.

Washington Insider

  • Denouncing the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump undertaken by Democrats in the House, several dozen GOP lawmakers stormed into a secure hearing room in the bowels of the Capitol on Wednesday, demanding that the proceedings be made public, and delaying a scheduled deposition involving a Pentagon official for a little over five hours. 'We're going to go, and see if we can get inside,' said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), as a group of several dozen Republicans pushed their way into the room, unhappy with how Democrats are handling this investigation. 'This is very unfair to the President,' said Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ). 'The American people deserve a public and open process,' said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), as Republicans prevented three different committees from moving ahead with Wednesday's hearing. Those interrupting the proceedings included Republican lawmakers who are allowed into the secure hearing room - because they are on one of the three committees involved in these closed door depositions - Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs. Democrats labeled the sit-in a political stunt that smacked of desperation. 'Trump wanted a foreign government to investigate his political opponent,' said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). 'That is a crime.' “Today's circus-like stunt will delay but it will not prevent our search for the truth about the president’s stunning misconduct,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). 'GOP 'storming' a classified deposition was a ridiculous stunt,' said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Democrats also criticized the GOP effort for violating rules on security, as a number of Republican lawmakers brought cell phones into the secure facility, which is prohibited.  It resulted in officials having to conduct a sweep of the rooms, to make sure no electronic devices had been left behind. 'You may wonder why is it happening now?” asked Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA).  “Because Bill Taylor gave a devastating opening statement yesterday. They're freaked out. They're trying to stop this investigation.” Taylor is the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine - he testified Tuesday before investigators, making the case that President Trump was withholding military aid for Ukraine in a bid to get the Ukraine government to publicly announce investigations which might help Mr. Trump's re-election bid. In a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, the President took direct aim at Taylor. Reports indicated the President may have been told by allies in the U.S. House of their Wednesday plans. “This looks awfully like obstruction,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). After ordering some pizza and refusing to leave the room known as a SCIF - Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility - GOP lawmakers moved on after about five hours, as Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant Secretary of Defense began her testimony around 3:15 pm.