Skip to main content

The AP Interview: Ex-Interpol wife takes on China government

LYON, France (AP) — In China, she enjoyed the privileges that flowed from being married to a senior member of the governing elite. Her husband was a top police official in the security apparatus that keeps the Communist Party in power, so trusted that China sent him to France to take up a prestigious role at Interpol.

But Meng Hongwei, the former Interpol president, has now vanished into China's sprawling penal system, purged in a stunning fall from grace. And his wife is alone with their twin boys in France, a political refugee under round-the-clock French police protection following what she suspects was an attempt by Chinese agents to kidnap and deliver them to an uncertain fate. 

From being an insider, Grace Meng has become an outsider looking in — and says she is horrified by what she sees. 

So much so that she is now shedding her anonymity, potentially putting herself and her family at additional risk, to speak out against China's authoritarian government that her husband — a vice minister of public security — served before disappearing in 2018. He was later tried and imprisoned. 

"The monster" is how Meng now speaks of the government he worked for. "Because they eat their children." 

___

Hate speech in Myanmar continues to thrive on Facebook

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Years after coming under scrutiny for contributing to ethnic and religious violence in Myanmar, Facebook still has problems detecting and moderating hate speech and misinformation on its platform in the Southeast Asian nation, internal documents viewed by The Associated Press show. 

Three years ago, the company commissioned a report that found Facebook was used to "foment division and incite offline violence" in the country. It pledged to do better and developed several tools and policies to deal with hate speech. 

But the breaches have persisted -- and even been exploited by hostile actors -- since the Feb. 1 military takeover this year that resulted in gruesome human rights abuses across the country.

Scrolling through Facebook today, it's not hard to find posts threatening murder and rape in Myanmar.

One 2 1/2 minute video posted on Oct. 24 of a supporter of the military calling for violence against opposition groups has garnered over 56,000 views.

___

Call to remove Black pastors adds to agony in Arbery's town

BRUNSWICK. Ga. (AP) — Race was always going to be at the forefront of the trial of three white men charged with chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, in a coastal Georgia neighborhood. 

But a defense attorney's quickly rejected call to kick out Black pastors, including Jesse Jackson, from the Glynn County courtroom intensified frustrations and added fresh agony to a lingering wound that many in the community had hoped the trial could start healing.

About a mile from the courthouse in the majority Black city of Brunswick, Tony Bryant has been following the proceedings. 

Sitting outside the front door of his apartment with peeling teal paint and a view of cranes at the state of Georgia's port along the East River, he said the way race has seeped into the trial has been discouraging but not surprising — from seating an almost all-white jury when 27 percent of Glynn County's 85,000 people are Black to trying to kick out Jackson and other pastors.

"Three white men killed a Black guy. Come on, man. Who did they think was going to be there to support his family?" Bryant said.

___

Rittenhouse jury to resume after fresh mistrial request

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The jury in Kyle Rittenhouse's trial was to move into a third day of deliberations Thursday, even as its request to re-watch video in the case sparked a fresh bid from his attorneys for a mistrial.

Judge Bruce Schroeder did not immediately rule on the request, which stemmed from the defense team's assertion that it received an inferior copy of a potentially critical video from prosecutors. It was the second mistrial motion from the defense in a week. 

At issue Wednesday was a piece of drone video that prosecutors showed the jury during closing arguments in an attempt to undermine Rittenhouse's self-defense claim and portray him as the instigator of the bloodshed in Kenosha in the summer of 2020. Prosecutors said the footage showed him pointing his rifle at protesters before the shooting erupted.

Rittenhouse attorney Corey Chirafisi said the defense initially received a smaller compressed version of the video and didn't get the higher-quality larger one used by the prosecution until the evidence portion of the case was over.

He said that the defense would have approached things differently if it had received the better footage earlier and that it is now asking for "a level, fair playing field."

___

Rittenhouse trial arguments worry mental health advocates

The first man Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was "irrational and crazy," Rittenhouse's attorney told jurors at his murder trial.

Joseph Rosenbaum had been on medication for bipolar disorder and depression, and he was trying to take Rittenhouse's rifle, attorney Mark Richards said, suggesting there could have been more bloodshed if Rittenhouse hadn't acted. 

"I'm glad he shot him because if Joseph Rosenbaum got that gun I don't for a minute believe he wouldn't have used it against somebody else," Richards said during closing arguments in the 18-year-old Illinois man's trial for killing Rosenbaum and another man and wounding a third during a chaotic night of protests in August 2020.

To some legal experts and other observers, Richards' remarks were a smart courtroom strategy and an accurate depiction of the threat faced by Rittenhouse, who says he shot the men in self-defense. But mental health advocates heard something different: a dangerous assumption that people living with mental illness are homicidal and need to be killed, and terminology such as "crazy" that they say is pejorative and adds to the stigma surrounding mental health issues. 

Studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder and depression are more likely to hurt themselves than hurt others, said Sue Abderholden, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota. That's why NAMI's work includes training police officers to use de-escalation strategies when dealing with people who have a mental illness.

___

Differences endure as Biden brings back North America summit

WASHINGTON (AP) — North America's leaders are reviving three-way summitry after a Trump-era break.

As President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador resume the tradition of the North America Leaders' Summit on Thursday, the three allies face deep differences on migration, climate and trade.

There's "not that much in common between them, at least in their vision for what they want for their countries," said Kenneth Frankel, president of the Canadian Council for the Americas. "Not just what they want for their countries, but what they can deliver for their countries."

Thursday's meetings at the White House will be the first trilateral get-together for North American leaders since a June 2016 gathering of Trudeau, Barack Obama and Enrique Peña Nieto in Ottawa. The gatherings took a hiatus under President Donald Trump, who feuded with Trudeau and Nieto during his tenure.

Biden has made some progress in repairing relations with U.S. neighbors after the turbulent Trump years. But many significant strains remain — and some new ones have emerged. 

___

Migrant camps grow in Mexico amid uncertainty on US policy

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — As darkness fell, about 250 police officers and city workers swept into a squalid camp for migrants hoping to apply for asylum in the United States. Migrants had to register for credentials or leave. Within hours, those who stayed were surrounded by enough chain-link fence to extend twice the height of the Statue of Liberty.

The Oct. 28 operation may have been the beginning of the end for a camp that once held about 2,000 people and blocks a major border crossing to the United States. There may be more camps to come.

First lady Jill Biden sharply criticized a similar camp in Matamoros, bordering Brownsville, Texas, on a 2019 visit, saying, "It's not who we are as Americans." The Biden administration touted its work closing that camp in March, but others sprang up around the same time in nearby Reynosa and in Tijuana.

The camps, full of young children, are a product of policies that force migrants to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court or prohibit them from seeking asylum under pandemic-related public health powers. Uncertainty about U.S. asylum policies has also contributed to growing migrant populations in Mexican border cities, creating conditions for more camps.

Migrants are often out of public view in border cities, but the Tijuana camp is highly visible and disruptive. Tents covered with blue tarps and black plastic bags block entry to a border crossing where an average of about 12,000 people entered the U.S. daily before the pandemic. It is one of three pedestrian crossings to San Diego. 

___

US warns pilots of weapon fire as war nears Ethiopia capital

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The United States is warning pilots that planes operating at one of Africa's busiest airports could be "directly or indirectly exposed to ground weapons fire and/or surface-to-air fire" as Ethiopia's war nears the capital, Addis Ababa.

The Federal Aviation Administration advisory issued Wednesday cites the "ongoing clashes" between Ethiopian forces and fighters from the northern Tigray region, which have killed thousands of people in a year of war. The U.S. this week urged its citizens in Ethiopia to "leave now," saying there should be no expectation of an Afghanistan-style evacuation.

The Addis Ababa international airport is the hub for the state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, a symbol of Ethiopia's former status as one of the world's most rapidly growing economies before the war. The airline in recent years became Africa's largest and best-managed carrier, turning Addis Ababa into the gateway to the continent. Addis Ababa is also the continent's diplomatic capital as home of the African Union.

The FAA advisory notes no reports of disruptions at Bole International Airport and "no indication of an intent to threaten civil aviation," but it says the risk to approaching and departing planes could increase if the Tigray fighters encircle the capital.

The Tigray fighters "likely possess a variety of anti-aircraft capable weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank weapons, low-caliber anti-aircraft artillery, and man-portable air-defense systems," or MANPADS, which could reach up to 25,000 feet above ground level, the FAA advisory says.

___

New Delhi's air still 'very poor' despite emergency measures

NEW DELHI (AP) — Air pollution remained extremely high in the Indian capital on Thursday, a day after authorities closed schools indefinitely and shut some power stations to reduce smog that has blanketed the city for much of the month.

New Delhi's air quality remained "very poor," according to SAFAR, India's main environmental monitoring agency. The concentration of tiny airborne particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter — known as PM 2.5 — neared 300 micrograms per cubic meter in some parts of the city, it said.

The World Health Organization designates the maximum safe level as 25. The tiny particles can lodge in the lungs and other organs, causing long-term health damage. 

New Delhi, a city of 20 million, is one of the world's most polluted cities. Air quality often hits hazardous levels during the winter, when the burning of crop residue in neighboring states coincides with lower temperatures that trap smoke. The smoke travels to New Delhi, obscuring the sky.

Emergency measures went into effect on Wednesday in an attempt to stem the health crisis.

___

Rapper Young Dolph fatally shot at Tennessee cookie shop

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Rapper Young Dolph, widely admired in the hip-hop community for his authenticity and fierce independence, was shot and killed Wednesday inside a beloved local cookie shop in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, authorities said.

Police tweeted they had no information to release about a possible suspect in the shooting, which took place at Makeda's Cookies near Memphis International Airport. 

"The tragic shooting death of rap artist Young Dolph serves as another reminder of the pain that violent crime brings with it," Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement.

The Daily Memphian newspaper reported that Young Dolph's cousin, Mareno Myers, said the 36-year-old rapper had been in town since Monday visiting an aunt who has cancer and was also giving out Thanksgiving turkeys.

"He was inside (Makeda's), and somebody just rolled up on him and took his life," Myers said.

AP Logo little