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Teen’s Parents Fly to US Hoping to Meet Driver Who killed Him

Parents of the British teen killed when his motorcycle collided with car allegedly driven by an American diplomat’s wife are on their way to the U.S. hoping to seek justice.Harry Dunn, 19, died in August in near the Croughton Royal Air Force base in Northhamptonshire, which is used by the U.S. Air Force as a communications center.Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told the BBC the family hopes to meet with the suspected driver, identified by British police and Prime Minister Boris Johnson as Anne Sacoolas, wife of an American intelligence officer based at Croughton.Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to the United States while the case was still being investigated. She has since written a letter of apology to Dunn’s family.But Charles said Sunday, “It’s nearly seven weeks now since we lost our boy, sorry just doesn’t cut it.”That’s not really quite enough,” she told Sky News. “But I’m still really open to meeting her, as are the rest of us. I can’t promise what I would or wouldn’t say, but I certainly wouldn’t be aggressive.”Charles also said the family was thankful to receive a letter Saturday from the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab that said since Sacoolas had left Britain, “immunity is no longer pertinent”.The family is hoping Sacoolas will return to Britain.  They have even called on U.S. President Donald Trump to intervene on their behalf.But Trump told a news conference Wednesday that Sacoolas would not return. Harry Dunn’s death was a “terrible accident,” the president said but he noted that driving on the worn side of the road “happens”.  

California Becomes First US State to Ban Fur Products

California has become the first U.S. state to ban all production and sale of animal fur products.Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill that will make it illegal to make, sell and even donate any new item made using animal fur starting in 2023.The bill excludes used items, taxidemy products, fur taken with a hunting license and fur used by Native American tribes for religious purposes.Violators of the ban will face fines of up to $500, or even $1,000 for repeat offenses.“The signing of AB44 underscores the point that today’s consumers simply don’t want wild animals to suffer extreme pain and fear for the sake of fashion,” Kitty Block, the head of the Humane Society of the United States said in a statement.But the Fur Information Council of America condemned the ban as being part of a “radical vegan agenda” and has threatened a court challenge.Along with the fur ban, Newsom also approved a ban on the use of most animals in circuses. Exceptions will be made for dogs and horses.“California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare, and today that leadership includes banning the sale of fur,” Newsom said in a statement. “But we are doing more than that. We are making a statement to the world that beautiful wild animals like bears and tigers have no place on trapeze wires or jumping through flames.”

Trump Pulls out Remaining Troops from N. Syria; Warns of ‘Powerful Sanctions’ on Turkey

Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.WASHINGTON –  The U.S. is withdrawing all remaining troops from northern Syria, as President Donald Trump said Sunday it was “very smart… for a change” to not be involved in the fighting sparked by Turkey’s onslaught against the U.S.’s long-time battlefield ally, Kurdish fighters.Trump said he was working with congressional leaders, including opposition Democrats, to impose “powerful” economic sanctions against Turkey for its cross-border attacks, even though Ankara has voiced objections in advance. He said on Twitter there is “great consensus” to act against Turkey, a NATO member alongside the U.S.Dealing with Jelal Ayaf, co-chair of the Ayn Issa Camp, estimated 850 foreigners linked to IS escaped and had help from sleeper cells that infiltrated part of the camp. Escaped IS family members and supporters are thought to include those from Britain, Ireland, Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia.The Save the Children charity said it was deeply troubled by the reports, warning of “a danger that children of foreign nationals could now be lost in the chaos.”It said the camp was empty of foreign women and that “foreign masked men on motorbikes are circling” it.FILE – In this photo taken from Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke billows from fires on targets in Ras al-Ayn, Syria, caused by bombardment by Turkish forces, Oct. 13, 2019.Turkey launched its long-planned military operation last Wednesday aimed at taking out the Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The military operation began days after a surprise and widely criticized White House announcement that U.S. forces would withdraw from the region.Speaking to VOA Persian, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces Mustafa Bali said people in northern Syria were “frustrated and disappointed” that Trump initially withdrew dozens of U.S. troops that had been stationed in northern Syria, shortly before Turkey launched the offensive. The troops were part of a U.S. military deployment that has partnered with the SDF in the fight against IS.The United Nations office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs estimates that more than 130,000 people have been displaced so far by the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, with many of them staying with relatives and host communities, but a growing number living in collective shelters. 

Hunter Biden Defends His Ukraine, China Business Deals

Hunter Biden, the son of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, on Sunday defended his work in Ukraine and China after calls by President Donald Trump that the two countries investigate his business dealings, pleas that have engulfed Trump in an impeachment inquiry.The younger Biden, whose father is one of the leading Democratic candidates seeking to face Trump in the 2020 presidential election, said in a statement issued by his lawyer that despite Trump’s accusations of improprieties while he was a board member of the Burisma energy company in Ukraine for five years, no foreign or domestic law enforcement agency has accused him of any wrongdoing.Hunter Biden left the Burisma board last April and said, without giving an explanation, that he would leave the board of China’s BHR (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Company at the end of October.Published accounts say that he was paid as much as $50,000 a month to serve on the Burisma board, although his Sunday statement did not mention the salary he received. The younger Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, said the position with the Chinese investment firm was unpaid, but that Hunter Biden two years ago invested $420,000 for a 10% equity stake in the firm, which he still holds, although has not received any return on his investment.”Hunter undertook these business activities independently,” Mesires said. “He did not believe it appropriate to discuss them with his father, nor did he.”But Trump in a late July call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked for “a favor,” that Ukraine investigate the younger Biden’s business activities there and Joe Biden’s efforts while he was President Barack Obama’s second in command to get a Ukrainian prosecutor dismissed, a demand that by numerous accounts did not relate to Burisma’s activities and at the time was supported by other Western countries. Trump subsequently publicly asked China to investigate the younger Biden.With disclosure of Trump’s demands by an U.S. intelligence community whistleblower, and the White House’s subsequent release of a rough account of the Trump-Zelenskiy call confirming the U.S. leader’s call for a Ukrainian investigation, Democrats in the House of Representatives opened an impeachment inquiry against Trump. The elder Biden says Trump “has convicted himself,” and “should be impeached.”Mesires said that when Hunter Biden “engaged in his business pursuits, he believed that he was acting appropriately and in good faith. He never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the president of the United States.”The lawyer said that if Joe Biden is elected president, Hunter Biden “will readily comply” with any White House strictures on “purported conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such conflicts,” along with refraining from serving on any boards of foreign companies or working for them.Until Sunday, the younger Biden had remained silent as Trump called him “a loser” with few business skills and assailed him at a political rally last week for being kicked out of the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2013 for cocaine use.”Hunter, you know nothing about energy,” Trump said. “You know nothing about China. You know nothing about anything, frankly. Hunter, you’re a loser.”On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Where’s Hunter? He has totally disappeared! Now looks like he has raided and scammed even more countries!”Where’s Hunter? He has totally disappeared! Now looks like he has raided and scammed even more countries! Media is AWOL.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2019 

Firefighters Make Slow Progress in Containing California Wildfires

Firefighters have made progress containing wind-driven wildfires in the western U.S. state of California that has claimed one life, destroyed or damaged dozens of structures, and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.Los Angeles Fire Department Captain Branden Silverman said Saturday morning the blaze in Los Angeles County, named the Saddleridge fire, had been 19-percent contained overnight, thanks to slightly cooler temperatures and lighter winds. The blaze damaged or destroyed at least 31 structures, including homes.The fire, located in the San Fernando Valley in Northwestern Los Angeles County, was only 13-percent contained on Friday, after burning more than 3,000 hectares, officials said.Authorities ordered mandatory evacuations Saturday of some 23,000 homes in an area covering about 100,000 residents.The cause of the Saddleridge fire has not been determined, but investigators said they were following up on a report of flames from a power line when the fire started Thursday night.To the east of the Saddleridge fire, another blaze swept through a Riverside County mobile home park, destroying dozens of homes. Authorities said that fire, which has burned about 330 hectares, had been 25 percent contained Saturday.Flames from a backfire, lit by firefighters to stop the Saddleridge Fire from spreading, burn a hillside in Newhall, Calif., Oct. 11, 2019Red flag warnings remain in effect until 6 p.m. local time Saturday, even though the dry Santa Ana winds from nearby mountains that fueled the fires have died down and were expected to continue to weaken throughout Saturday.Officials said one man died of a heart attack while speaking with firefighters who were battling the Riverside fire early Friday.In Northern California, electricity has been restored to 98-percent of the nearly 2 million customers who had their power cut off earlier this week by Pacific Gas & Electric in an effort to prevent wildfires.California Governor Gavin Newsom declared emergencies Friday for Los Angeles and Riverside counties because of the fires. The governor’s office said it has received a federal grant to help with firefighting costs.More than 1,000 firefighters from numerous departments were battling the fires from the air and ground.

1 Dead, 2 Missing After New Orleans Hotel Collapse

A large section of a Hard Rock Hotel under construction at the edge of New Orleans’ historic French Quarter collapsed Saturday amid blinding dust and flying debris, killing one person, injuring more than 20 and leaving two unaccounted as rescue workers hastened to enter what was left of the largely unstable building.Nearby buildings were evacuated and a 270-foot (82-meter) construction crane — one of two still looming over the multi-story building — also was dangerously unstable, Fire Chief Tim McConnell said.”There is a very strong possibility of further collapse of this crane right now,” McConnell said.  McConnell said urban search and rescue teams on Saturday afternoon were entering a section of the building in hopes of finding the two missing people alive. Neither of the missing people had been spotted, but McConnell said authorities believe they know their approximate locations based on talks with other survivors of the collapse. Camera-equipped drones were used to get closer views of the wreckage from the air but did not capture any sign of the missing.One man who had been unaccounted for turned out to have gone to a local hospital, authorities said.Officials said 18 other people were transported to the hospital from the scene and “several” others reported to hospitals on their own. No life-threatening injuries were reported among the known survivors. McConnell said one of the missing is believed to be in a relatively stable part of the wrecked building. Another was believed to be in a less stable area.As search and rescue efforts unfolded, police stood sentry around a group of people on the Canal Street median who were believed to be loved ones of the missing.One woman nearby said she was trying to find out the status of her brother, a worker at the site. She declined to give her name, wiping tears from her eyes as she walked away.Removal of the damaged crane and cleanup of massive piles of debris promised to be a massive undertaking and it was unclear how long it would tie up traffic and commerce. The site is at a meeting point of major bus and streetcar lines and two major traffic arteries near the heart of the tourism-dependent city’s most popular draw for visitor — the French Quarter. Included in the evacuated area was the Saenger Theatre, where traveling companies perform Broadway Shows regularly.WWL-TV aired and tweeted a viewer’s dramatic video of the collapse , showing upper floors falling on top of each other before one side of the building crashed to the ground.
Another video on social media was taken by someone aboard one of the city’s famous streetcars as it approached the site while the building was collapsing. It showed what looked like a metal structure — part of the building or a piece of construction equipment —  tumbling to the ground and people running from the scene as clouds of dust billowed up, obscuring the view like a thick fog.Evacuees included guests at a hostel across the street from the damaged building. “I heard a huge noise and thought it was a plane crashing. Then, the hostel shook,” guest Sue Hurley, 68, told The Associated Press. She said she was reminded of news accounts of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Another hostel guest, Michael Arbeiter, 30, from Munich, Germany, said he was just getting out of the shower when the room shook. “I’m not sure what happened but they told us to get out of here,” he said. “I’m supposed to stay until Monday. Thank God it was not another 9-11.”The building was under construction at the corner of Rampart Street and Canal Street, a broad boulevard just outside the Quarter, lined with restaurants hotels and retailers.
 Canal, which carries six lanes of traffic divided by a wide median where streetcars roll, separates the Quarter from the city’s main business district.Authorities said 18 people were taken to a hospital for treatment. All were considered stable. Gov. John Bel Edwards visited the scene and urged people to stay away from the area. As dust settled following the morning collapse, twisted metal, concrete pilings and other wreckage covered part of Rampart Street.”It was a deep rumbling sound,” Matt Worges, who saw the collapse from a nearby building, told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. “Like an airplane maybe. It drew my head immediately.”
 

US Hails FIFA Ban on Ex-Afghan Soccer Official

The United States has hailed FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, for slapping a five-year ban on a former senior official of the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) for failing to act on sexual abuse allegations brought by the country’s female players.“Survivors of sexual abuse deserve justice & we look to Afghan authorities to ensure accused officials are held accountable,” Alice Wells, acting U.S. assistant secretary for south and central Asia, tweeted Saturday.We welcome @FIFAcom’s Ethics Committee’s suspension of an official who failed to act on allegations brought by the @AfghanistanWNT. Survivors of sexual abuse deserve justice & we look to Afghan authorities to ensure accused officials are held accountable. AGW— State_SCA (@State_SCA) October 12, 2019FIFA announced a day earlier its ongoing investigation into complaints, lodged by several female Afghan football players, has found Sayed Aghazada, the former AFF general secretary, guilty of breaching the world body’s code of ethics.The complainants accused the former AFF president, Keramuudin Karim, of “repeated” sexual abuse between 2013 and 2018 when Aghazada was the general secretary. The players went public with the allegations last year, prompting FIFA to investigate and ban Karim for life in June. It also imposed a $1 million penalty on the former AFF president.FIFA said Friday that Aghazada was aware of the abuse and had the duty to report and prevent it. Consequently, he has been banned from all football-related activity at both national and international level for five years. A financial penalty of about $10,000 was also imposed on him.Aghazada was also serving as a member of the FIFA standing committee and as Asian Football Confederation (AFC) executive committee. 

Chinese Fans Miffed at NBA, But Not Enough to Skip a Game

Thousands of Chinese basketball fans cheered on the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets at an NBA exhibition game in the city of Shenzhen on Saturday night – but some warned the organization to stay out of politics.Daryl Morey, general manager of another team, the Houston Rockets, voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in a tweet last week, prompting Chinese sponsors and partners to cut ties with the NBA.China is estimated to be worth more than $4 billion for the NBA, so the stakes are high.Outside the arena on Saturday, some protesters waved Chinese flags and others held admonitory red signs. “Morey must apologize to China,” read one. Another said: “Violations of national sovereignty will not be tolerated”.China has accused the West of stirring up anti-Beijing sentiment in Hong Kong, where large and at times violent anti-government protesters have gained momentum over the past four months.State media characterized Morey’s tweet – which read “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” – as meddling in China’s affairs. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver defended it on Tuesday, further angering Beijing.A 20-year-old Chinese university student at Saturday’s game, who would only give his English name, Andy, was unfazed by the controversy and blamed foreign media for stirring things up.”Sport is a pure thing and I’m not going to stop going because Morey spoke about things he doesn’t understand,” he said.”If the NBA became harmful to China’s interests, we would reject it. But this wouldn’t be such a big deal if you foreign media would shut up about it.”The protests in the former British colony began in opposition to a bill allowing extradition to mainland China but have since evolved into broader calls for democracy.Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula guaranteeing it wide-ranging autonomy.One man with a sign in Chinese saying “NBA get out of China” had it ripped up by police.”Take care of your safety and belongings, please don’t display any banners or signs inside,” organizers broadcast as people entered.As game time approached, Phoebe, a 22-year-old chemistry student in a Lakers jersey, said she would not have come if she didn’t already have a ticket. “The U.S. needs to understand it can’t meddle in other country’s politics. If the NBA does this again I’d rather it would leave the country.”Jin, a 26-year-old property manager who came across the border from Hong Kong with a friend to attend the game, felt a bit nervous. Asked if he had considered not coming because of the controversy, he paused as police strolled by.”Well, it’s the Lakers and the Nets, they’ve got strong lineups this year, so…” 

Winds Calming, Crews Fighting Flames in Southern California

Edwin Bernard, 73, is no stranger to flames that have frequently menaced his sunburned corner of Los Angeles, but they never arrived as quickly or came as close to his home before.Fire swept down the hill across the street and spit embers over his home of 30 years, sizzling through dry grass and igniting trees and bushes. He and his wife scrambled to go, leaving behind medication, photo albums and their four cats.“It was a whole curtain of fire,” Bernard said. “There was fire on all sides. We had to leave.”Bernard’s home and the cats left inside survived — barely. His backyard was charred.Bernard and his wife were among some 100,000 residents ordered out of their homes because of a wind-driven wildfire that broke out Thursday evening in the San Fernando Valley. It spread westward through tinder-dry brush in hilly subdivisions on the outskirts of the nation’s second-largest city and was only 13% contained Friday night.Los Angeles City firefighters battle the Saddleridge fire near homes in Sylmar, Calif., Oct. 10, 2019.Fire officials said 13 buildings were destroyed, many probably homes. Another 18 were damaged. A middle-aged man who was near the fire went into cardiac arrest and died after apparently trying to fight the fire himself, authorities said.Those under mandatory evacuation orders packed shelters. On Friday, police allowed some to return to their homes for five minutes to gather precious items.They won’t be allowed to return permanently until the danger had passed.“It’s not the fire itself but the danger of wind taking an ember, blowing it someplace, and seeing entire neighborhoods overnight get lit,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday.Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph M. Terrazas said he flew over the fire Friday and saw “hundreds, if not thousands of homes” with charred backyards where firefighters had just managed to halt the flames.“Be patient with us,” he urged evacuees. “We want to make sure you’re safe.”Eyed Jarjour, left, comforts a neighbor who lost her Jolette Avenue home to the Saddleridge Fire, Oct. 11, 2019, in Granada Hills, Calif.About 450 police were deployed in the area, and Police Chief Michel Moore said there would be “no tolerance” for looters.Smoke belching from the burning chaparral covered some neighborhoods in gray haze. Interstate 5, the main north-to-south corridor in the state, was shut down for much of the day, choking traffic until finally reopening.The region has been on high alert as notoriously powerful Santa Ana winds brought dry desert air to a desiccated landscape that only needed a spark to erupt. Fire officials have warned that they expect more intense and devastating California wildfires due, in part, to climate change.By late Friday, the winds had subsided but the National Weather Service still warned of extreme fire danger in some Southern California areas because of very low humidity.The cause of the Los Angeles blaze wasn’t immediately known, though arson investigators said a witness reported seeing sparks or flames coming from a power line near where the fire is believed to have started, said Peter Sanders, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.Flames from a backfire, lit by firefighters to stop the Saddleridge Fire from spreading, burn a hillside in Newhall, Calif., Oct. 11, 2019. An aggressive wildfire in Southern California seared its way through dry vegetation and spread quickly.A Sylmar man, Robert Delgado, said he saw flames under a high-voltage electrical transmission tower near his home at around the time the fire broke out.“We had just finished praying the rosary, like we do every night” when his wife looked out a window and saw fire at the bottom of the tower, Delgado told KABC-TV.“We immediately ran downstairs, went to the backyard, pulled out the hoses,” he said, but the wind-whipped flames moved with terrifying speed.“There were flames and embers flying over those bushes at the back of our house and over our house,” Delgado said. “I was overwhelmed at the sight.” He called it a miracle that his home survived.Southern California Edison said it owns the transmission tower shown on KABC-TV, but a spokeswoman would not confirm that was where the fire began. The utility said it could take a long time to determine the cause and origin of the fire.Jonathan Stahl, 41, of Valencia, Calif., and his 91-year-old grandmother Beverly Stahl of the Sylmar area of Los Angeles, pose at the evacuation center at the Sylmar Recreation Center after the Saddleridge wildfire, Oct. 11, 2019.Jonathan Stahl was driving home to Valencia when he saw the smoke and immediately diverted to a mobile home park in Sylmar where his grandmother and aunt live together.The park had been nearly wiped out in 2008 when one of the city’s most destructive fires leveled 500 homes.“Oh my God, it’s coming this way,” his aunt said when Stahl called to alert them and she looked out the window, he said.Stahl helped his grandmother, Beverly Stahl, 91, who was in her pajamas, and his aunt to pack clothing, medication and take their two dogs. They saw flames in the distance as they drove away.“We just packed up what we could as fast as we could,” Stahl said at an evacuation center at the Sylmar Recreation Center, massaging his grandmother’s shoulders as she sat in a wheelchair with a Red Cross blanket on her lap. “If we’d stuck around, we would have been in trouble. Real big trouble.”The Los Angeles fire broke out hours after flaming garbage in a trash truck sparked another blaze when the driver dumped his load to keep the rig from catching fire. But the dry grass quickly ignited and powerful winds blew the flames into a mobile park in Calimesa, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of downtown Los Angeles.Seventy-four buildings were destroyed and 16 others were damaged. Several residents of the park were unaccounted for.The family of 89-year-old Lois Arvickson feared she died in the blaze that destroyed her home.Arvickson had called her son to say she was evacuating.“She said she’s getting her purse and she’s getting out, and the line went dead,” Don Turner said.He said neighbors saw his mother in her garage as flames approached. They later saw the garage on fire. Her car was still parked in the driveway.

Report: Giuliani Under Investigation for Possible Lobbying Violations

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, is being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York for possible lobbying violations.That’s according to a report Friday in The New York Times, citing two anonymous people familiar with the inquiry.One of the Times’ sources says the investigation is related to Giuliani’s efforts to undermine former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.Two Florida businessmen tied to Giuliani were charged Thursday with federal campaign finance violations. The men had key roles in Giuliani’s efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter. A whistleblower complaint about Trump’s involvement with Ukraine has led to an impeachment investigation.The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment Friday night on the Times report.