The AP Interview: Kerry says climate talks may miss target
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is tempering expectations for a U.N. climate summit sometimes billed as make-or-break for the Earth's future, conceding next month's talks likely will end with nations still short of the target of cuts in coal and petroleum emissions that are needed to stave off increasingly devastating levels of global warming.
But in an interview with The Associated Press, Kerry also credited efforts by the United States, European Union, Japan and other allies ahead of next month's climate negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland with getting the world much closer to the scale of big, fast fossil fuel cuts needed. He expressed hope enough nations would join in over the next couple of years. "By the time Glasgow's over, we're going to know who is doing their fair share, and who isn't," he said.
Kerry also spoke of the impact if the U.S. Congress – under a slim Democratic majority – fails to pass legislation for significant action on climate by the United States itself, as the Biden administration aims to regain leadership on climate action. "It would be like President Trump pulling out of the Paris agreement, again," Kerry said.
Kerry spoke to the AP Wednesday in a conference room down the hall from his office at the State Department, its upper corridors still eerily shy of people in the coronavirus pandemic. Kerry's comments came after nine months of intensive climate diplomacy by plane, phone and computer screen aimed at nailing down the most global commitments of action on climate possible ahead of the U.N. climate summit, which opens Oct. 31 in Scotland.
Kerry plans final stops in Mexico, and in Saudi Arabia, where he expected new, last-minute climate pledges ahead of the summit, before settling in Glasgow for two weeks of talks. READ MORE.
Norway bow-and-arrow suspect was flagged for radicalization
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Danish man suspected of a bow-and-arrow attack on a small Norwegian town that killed five people and wounded two others is a Muslim convert who had previously been flagged as having being radicalized, police said Thursday.
The man is suspected of having shot at people in a number of locations in the town of Kongsberg on Wednesday evening. Several of the victims were in a supermarket, police said.
"There earlier had been worries of the man having been radicalized," Police chief Ole B. Saeverud told a news conference. He added that there were "complicated assessments related to the motive, and it will take time before this is clarified." He didn't elaborate on what was meant by being radicalized.
Saeverud added that the last report of concern was last year.
The victims were four women and one man between the ages of 50 and 70, Saeverud said.
Fire at southern Taiwan building leaves 46 dead, dozens hurt
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The death toll from a fire in southern Taiwan that engulfed a building overnight has further risen to 46, according to officials Thursday who said at least another 41 people were injured.
The 13-story building caught fire around 3 a.m. Thursday, fire officials in the city of Kaohsiung said. A fire department statement said the blaze was "extremely fierce" and destroyed many floors.
Authorities say that 32 bodies were sent straight to the morgue from the site of the blaze. Another 14 people who showed no signs of life were among 55 taken to hospital. In Taiwan, official confirmation of a death can only be made in the hospital.
Another search of the building was planned before sunset, according to officials.
Video shown on Taiwanese television showed orange flames and smoke billowing out of the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water at it from the street. One woman, who was not identified, said her 60-to-70 year old parents were inside.
Many Afghans pack their bags, hoping for the chance to leave
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — As their flight to Islamabad was finally about to take off, Somaya took her husband Ali's hand, lay her head back and closed her eyes. Tension had been building in her for weeks. Now it was happening: They were leaving Afghanistan, their homeland.
The couple had been trying to go ever since the Taliban took over in mid-August, for multiple reasons. Ali is journalist and Somaya a civil engineer who has worked on United Nations development programs. They worry how the Taliban will treat anyone with those jobs. Both are members of the mainly Shiite Hazara minority, which fears the Sunni militants.
Most important of all: Somaya is five months pregnant with their daughter, whom they've already named Negar.
"I will not allow my daughter to step in Afghanistan if the Taliban are in charge," Somaya told The Associated Press on the flight with them. Like others leaving or trying to leave, the couple asked that their full names not be used for their protection. They don't know if they'll ever return.
Armed clash erupts in Beirut in protest against blast judge
BEIRUT (AP) — Armed clashes broke out in Beirut Thursday during a protest against the lead judge investigating last year's massive blast in the city's port, as tensions over the domestic probe boiled over.
Gunfire echoed in the capital, and ambulances rushed to the scene, sirens wailing, amid reports of casualties. A Beirut hospital said it received the body of one person who had died and eight who were injured, according to a local television channel.
The protest outside the Justice Palace was called for by the powerful Hezbollah group and its allies who are demanding the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the gunfire, but tensions were high along a former civil war front-line between Muslim Shiite and Christian areas.
The right wing Christian Lebanese Forces mobilized supporters Wednesday evening after Hezbollah and its allies called for the protest at the Justice Palace, located in a Christian area. Videos circulating on social media showed supporters of the Christian Lebanese Forces marching in the streets, carrying large crosses.
'We have to be heard': Texas women travel to seek abortions
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — The 33-year-old Texas woman drove alone four hours through the night to get to the Louisiana abortion clinic for a consultation. She initially planned to sleep in her car, but an advocacy group helped arrange a hotel room.
Single and with three children ranging from 5 to 13, she worried that adding a baby now would take time, food, money and space away from her three children. She doesn't have a job, and without help from groups offering a safe abortion, she said, she probably would have sought another way to end her pregnancy.
"If you can't get rid of the baby, what's the next thing you're going to do? You're going to try to get rid of it yourself. So I'm thinking: 'What could I do? What are some home remedies that I could do to get rid of this baby, to have a miscarriage, to abort it?' And it shouldn't be like that. I shouldn't have to do that. I shouldn't have to think like that, feel like that, none of that.
"We have to be heard. This has got to change. It's not right."
She was one of more than a dozen women who arrived Saturday at the Hope Medical Group for Women, a single-story brick building with covered windows just south of downtown Shreveport. Some came alone. Others were accompanied by a friend or a partner. Some brought their children because they were unable to get child care.
Republicans report record fundraising for House campaigns
NEW YORK (AP) — The Republican fundraising committee dedicated to flipping the House in next year's midterm elections said Thursday it raised more than $105 million this year through September.
The record haul for the nine-month period marks a 74% increase over last cycle and includes $25.8 million raised in the third quarter of the year. The group said it now has $65 million cash on hand, nearly triple what it had at this time four years ago.
"House Democrats are sprinting toward the exits because they know their days in the majority are numbered and we look forward to keeping up the pressure," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer said in a statement.
The numbers are the latest sign that Republicans are energized heading into the midterms, as President Joe Biden's popularity wanes and with history on their side. The president's party almost always loses seats in midterm elections, and Democrats currently hold only a narrow majority.
The Democrats' congressional fundraising arm has not yet released its total through September. But last month, the group announced it had raised $10 million in August — besting the Republican House campaign committee's $6.5 million.
Women left behind: Gender gap emerges in Africa's vaccines
SARE GIBEL, Gambia (AP) — The health outreach workers who drove past Lama Mballow's village with a megaphone handed out T-shirts emblazoned with the words: "I GOT MY COVID-19 VACCINE!"
By then, the women in Sare Gibel already had heard the rumors on social media: The vaccines could make your blood stop or cause you to miscarry. Women who took it wouldn't get pregnant again.
Lama Mballow and her sister-in-law, Fatoumata Mballow, never made the 3.4-mile trip (5.5 kilometers) to town for their vaccines, but the family kept the free shirt. Its lettering is now well-worn from washing, but the women's resolve has not softened. They share much — meal preparation duties, child care, trips to the well with plastic jugs, and their outlook on the vaccine.
"I definitely need a lot of children," said Lama Mballow, 24, who has a 4-year-old son, another child on the way and no plans to get vaccinated after giving birth. And Fatoumata Mballow, 29, struggling to get pregnant for a third time in a village where some women have as many as 10 children, quietly insists: "I don't want to make it worse and destroy my womb."
As health officials in Gambia and across Africa urge women to be vaccinated, they've confronted unwillingness among those of childbearing age. Many women worry that current or future pregnancies will be threatened, and in Africa, the success of a woman's marriage often depends on the number of children she bears. Other women say they're simply more afraid of the vaccine than the virus: As breadwinners, they can't miss a day of work if side effects such as fatigue and fever briefly sideline them.
Bali reopens to foreign travelers as COVID-19 surge subsides
DENPASAR, Indonesia (AP) — The Indonesian resort island of Bali reopened for international travelers to visit its shops and white-sand beaches for the first time in more than a year Thursday — if they're vaccinated, test negative, hail from certain countries, quarantine and heed restrictions in public.
However, foreign visitors may be slow to arrive. No international flights to Bali were scheduled on the first day of the reopening and a tourism official forecast travel would pick up in November.
Bali's airport will welcome new foreign arrivals from 19 countries that meet World Health Organization's criteria such as having their COVID-19 cases under control, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister who leads the COVID-19 response in Java and Bali, said in a statement late Wednesday.
He said all international flight passengers must have proof they've been vaccinated two times, test negative for the coronavirus upon arrival in Bali and undergo a 5-day quarantine at designated hotels at their own expense. They'll also have to follow stringent rules at hotels, in restaurants and on beaches.
"We have to do this with caution because we need to stay alert," Pandjaitan said.
What's the latest advice on the type of mask I should wear?
NEW YORK (AP) — What's the latest advice on the type of mask I should wear?
It depends on your situation, but health officials say it should cover your nose and mouth, and fit snugly so there aren't any gaps on the sides of your face.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also says to pick masks with two or more layers and a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out the top. It suggests holding your mask up to check if it blocks light, which means the fabric will probably filter out more particles.
If you want added protection, experts also suggest wearing two masks or pairing them with a mask fitter to ensure they don't leave any gaps.
It's also important to find a mask that's comfortable so you actually wear it, says Laura Kwong, an assistant professor in environmental health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.