Records show slow response to report of California oil spill
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard received the first report of a possible oil spill off the Southern California coast more than 12 hours before a company reported the major leak in its pipeline and a cleanup effort was launched, records show.
Oil spill reports reviewed Monday by The Associated Press raise questions about the Coast Guard's response to one of the state's largest recent oil spills as well as how quickly Amplify Energy, the company operating three offshore platforms and the pipeline, recognized it had a problem and notified authorities.
Two early calls about the spill came into the National Response Center, which is staffed by the Coast Guard and notifies other agencies of disasters for quick response. The first was from an anchored ship that noticed a sheen on the water and the second, six hours later, from a federal agency that said a possible oil slick was spotted on satellite imagery, according to reports by the California Office of Emergency Services.
The spill sent up to 126,000 gallons (572,807 liters) of heavy crude into the ocean off Huntington Beach and it then washed onto miles of beaches and a protected marshland. The beaches could remain closed for weeks or longer, a major hit to the local economy. Coastal fisheries in the area are closed to commercial and recreational fishing.
Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency in Orange County, directing state agencies "to undertake immediate and aggressive action to clean up and mitigate the effects" of the spill.
Biden eager to get out of DC, push benefits of spending plan
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is shifting strategy to sell his ambitious social spending plans by traveling outside Washington and courting Democrats who have complained they felt left out of the process.
With his agenda in jeopardy on Capitol Hill, Biden on Tuesday will visit the Michigan district of a moderate Democratic lawmaker who has urged him to promote his proposals more aggressively to the public. Back in Washington, negotiations continue on a pair of bills to boost spending on safety net, health and environmental programs and infrastructure projects.
While there is cautious optimism about recent progress, no deal had been struck to bridge stark divides between moderates and progressives in the Democratic Party on the size and scope of the package. In recent weeks, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi worked unsuccessfully to secure passage of the bills, Biden stayed in Washington to cajole lawmakers and work phones.
Now, he's trying to put the public focus on popular components of the bills rather than the inside-the-Beltway debate over their price tag.
The president will appear with Democratic Rep. Elise Slotkin when he visits a union training center in Howell, Michigan, a reflection of the importance of securing moderates' votes. Next to Biden, the Democrats with the most on the line over the shape and success of his spending plans are House members from swing districts whose reelections are essential if his party is to retain control of Congress.
Ex-Facebook employee bringing sharp criticisms to Congress
WASHINGTON (AP) — A former Facebook data scientist has stunned lawmakers and the public with revelations of the company's awareness of apparent harm to some teens from Instagram and her accusations of dishonesty in its fight against hate and misinformation. Now she is coming before Congress.
Frances Haugen has come forward with a wide-ranging condemnation of Facebook, buttressed with tens of thousands of pages of internal research documents she secretly copied before leaving her job in Facebook's civic integrity unit. Haugen also has filed complaints with federal authorities alleging that Facebook's own research shows that it amplifies hate, misinformation and political unrest, but the company hides what it knows.
After recent reports in The Wall Street Journal based on documents she leaked to the newspaper raised a public outcry, Haugen revealed her identity in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview aired Sunday night. She insisted that "Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety."
The ex-employee challenging the social network giant with 2.8 billion users worldwide and nearly $1 trillion in market value is a 37-year-old data expert from Iowa with a degree in computer engineering and a master's degree in business from Harvard. She worked for 15 years prior to being recruited by Facebook in 2019 at companies including Google and Pinterest.
Haugen is set to testify to the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection at a hearing Tuesday.
Nobel physics prize goes to 3 for climate discoveries
STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Nobel Prize for physics has been awarded to scientists from Japan, Germany and Italy.
Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann were cited for their work in "the physical modeling of Earth's climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming".
The second half of the prize was awarded to Giorgio Parisi for "the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales."
The winners were announced Tuesday by Goran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP's earlier story follows below.
French child kidnap plot shows global sway of QAnon style
PARIS (AP) — The old music box factory had been abandoned for years on the outskirts of the Swiss mountain town, with paint curling at the edges of its dingy grey and yellow walls.
It was the perfect hiding place for the young French mother and her 8-year-old daughter at the heart of Operation Lima, an international child abduction plot planned and funded by a French group with echoes of the far-right extremist movement QAnon.
Lola Montemaggi had lost custody of her daughter, Mia, to her own mother months earlier because French government child protective services feared the young woman was unstable. Montemaggi found people online who shared the QAnon belief that government workers themselves were running a child trafficking ring. Then she turned to her network to do what she needed to do: Extract Mia.
The April 13 kidnapping of the girl from her grandmother's home marked what is believed to be the first time that conspiracy theorists in Europe have committed a crime linked to the QAnon-style web of false beliefs that sent hundreds to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. It shows how what was once a strictly U.S. movement has metastasized around the world, with Europol, the European umbrella policing agency, adding QAnon to its list of threats in June. QAnon influence has now been tracked to 85 countries, and its beliefs have been adapted to local contexts and languages from Hindi to Hebrew.
A California father this summer took his two children to Mexico and killed them under the influence of "QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories," federal authorities say. QAnon supporters also have been linked to at least six attempted kidnappings in the United States, convinced that children are falling victim to pedophiles, according to Mia Bloom, who documented the abductions for her book on QAnon published this summer.
'Pandora papers' show London is a key hub for tax avoidance
LONDON (AP) — Transparency advocates are calling on Britain to tighten the country's defenses against money laundering and tax avoidance after a massive leak of financial data showed how London is a key destination of choice for some of the world's richest and most powerful people to conceal their cash.
The cache of almost 12 million files shows how wealthy people around the world reportedly set up offshore companies to buy property and avoid taxes.
Foreign individuals identified as beneficiaries of these types of offshore accounts in London include Jordanian King Abdullah II, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and associates of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Abdullah has denied any impropriety and Khan tweeted that his government would investigate anyone mentioned and take appropriate action if wrongdoing is found. Aliyev hasn't commented.
The leaked financial data, dubbed the "Pandora Papers," was published Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its media partners, including Britain's Guardian newspaper and the BBC.
Though the purchases are legal under British law, they highlight the complicated — and often anonymous — financial practices wealthy individuals use to avoid tax, far removed from the everyday experience of most of the British population.
Rights group: Taliban unlawfully killed 13 ethnic Hazaras
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban forces unlawfully killed 13 ethnic Hazaras, most of them Afghan soldiers who had surrendered to the insurgents, a prominent rights group said Tuesday.
The killings took place in the village of Kahor in Daykundi province in central Afghanistan on Aug. 30, according to an investigation by Amnesty International. Eleven of the victims were members of the Afghan national security forces and two were civilians, among them a 17-year-old girl.
The reported killings took place about two weeks after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in a blitz campaign, culminating in their takeover of Kabul. At the time, Taliban leaders sought to reassure Afghans that they had changed from their previous harsh rule of the country in the late 1990s.
Meanwhile in Kabul, the Taliban said Tuesday they arrested 11 members of the Islamic State group, a rival and bitter enemy of the insurgents. The Islamic State group's affiliate — based in eastern Nangarhar province — has claimed responsibility for a spate of recent attacks targeting Taliban forces in eastern Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi posted on Twitter that the raid was carried out on Sunday night in the Afghan capital's Fifth Police District. He provided no further details. The raid came just hours after a bombing that targeted the Eid Gah Mosque in Kabul, killing at least five people.
French report: 330,000 children victims of church sex abuse
PARIS (AP) — An estimated 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse within France's Catholic Church over the past 70 years, according to a major report released Thursday that is France's first major reckoning with the devastating phenomenon.
The figure includes abuses committed by some 3,000 priests and other people involved in the church — wrongdoing that Catholic authorities covered up over decades in a "systemic manner," according to the president of the commission that issued the report, Jean-Marc Sauvé.
The head of the French bishops conference asked forgiveness from the victims. The group is meeting Tuesday to discuss next steps.
The commission urged the church to take strong action, denouncing "faults" and "silence." It also called on the French state to help compensate the victims, notably in cases that are too old to prosecute via the courts.
About 80% of the victims were boys.
Australia won't welcome international tourists until 2022
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — International tourists won't be welcomed back to Australia until next year, with the return of skilled migrants and students given higher priority, the prime minister said on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was expected to reach the vaccination benchmark on Tuesday at which the country could begin to open up: 80% of the population aged 16 and older having a second shot.
Last week, he outlined plans to allow vaccinated citizens and permanent residents to fly overseas from November for the first time since an extraordinarily tough travel ban took effect in March last year.
But Morrison on Tuesday said that after Australians, the next priority would be skilled migrants and international students entering Australia before tourists.
Australian immigration has been at its lowest since World War II because of pandemic restrictions. The pandemic has also had a disastrous effect on Australian universities that rely heavily on fees paid by international students. The education sector fears that students will enroll in other countries unless Australia opens its border to them soon.
Russian film crew blasts off to make first movie in space
MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian actor and a film director rocketed to space Tuesday on a mission to make the world's first movie in orbit.
Actor Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko blasted off for the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft together with cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran of three space missions. Their Soyuz MS-19 lifted off as scheduled at 1:55 p.m. (0855 GMT) from the Russian space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan and successfully reached the designated orbit.
Space officials reported that the crew was feeling fine and all spacecraft systems were functioning normally.
Peresild and Klimenko are to film segments of a new movie titled "Challenge," in which a surgeon played by Peresild rushes to the space station to save a crew member who suffers a heart condition. After 12 days on the space outpost, they are set to return to Earth with another Russian cosmonaut.
Speaking at a pre-flight news conference Monday, 37-year-old Peresild acknowledged that it was challenging for her to adapt to the strict discipline and rigorous demands during the training.