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Sudan's PM arrested, internet disrupted in apparent coup

CAIRO (AP) — Military forces arrested Sudan's acting prime minister and other senior officials Monday, disrupted internet access and blocked bridges in the capital, the country's information ministry said, describing the actions as a coup.

In response, thousands flooded the streets of Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman to protest the apparent military takeover. Footage shared online appeared to show protesters blocking streets and setting fire to tires as security forces used tear gas to disperse them. 

Protesters could be heard chanting, "The people are stronger, stronger" and "Retreat is not an option!" as plumes of smoke filled the air.

A takeover by the military would be a major setback for Sudan, which has grappled with a stop-and-go transition to democracy since long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was toppled by mass protests two years ago. 

The moves come less than a month before powerful Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan was expected to hand the leadership of the ruling transitional council to a civilian. The Sovereign Council, which has run the country since shortly after al-Bashir's ouster, has military and civilian members who have frequently disagreed over Sudan's course and the pace of the transition to democracy.

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The Latest: Germany urges halt to apparent coup in Sudan

BERLIN — Germany has demanded an immediate halt to the apparent military coup underway in Sudan. 

German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass condemned the attempted takeover in the vast east African country and called the news "dismaying."

"This attempted coup must end immediately," he said, urging "all those who bear responsibility for security and state order in Sudan to continue the peaceful political transition process in Sudan toward democracy." 

The statement Monday was one of several from other nations expressing concern about the arrest of Sudan's interim prime minister and other senior officials. Their whereabouts were not immediately known. 

Thousands of Sudanese protesters have flooded the streets as fears of a military coup grip the country two years after mass protests ousted autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for three decades. Since 2019, Sudan has been navigating a fragile transition to democracy.

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AP source: Manchin agreeable to wealth tax for Biden plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pivotal Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin appears to be on board with White House proposals for new taxes on billionaires and certain corporations to help pay for President Joe Biden's scaled-back social services and climate change package.

Biden huddled with the conservative West Virginia Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at the president's Delaware home on Sunday as they work on resolving the disputes between centrists and progressives that have stalled the Democrats' wide-ranging bill. A person who insisted on anonymity to discuss Manchin's position told The Associated Press the senator is agreeable to the White House's new approach on the tax proposals.

What had been a sweeping $3.5 trillion plan is now being eyed as $1.75 trillion package. That's within a range that could still climb considerably higher, according to a second person who insisted on anonymity to discuss the private talks.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that even at "half" the original $3.5 trillion proposed, Biden's signature domestic initiative would be larger than any other legislative package with big investments in health care, child care and strategies to tackle climate change.

"It is less than what was projected to begin with, but it's still bigger than anything we have ever done in terms of addressing the needs of America's working families," Pelosi said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

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Crew member: Baldwin careful with guns before fatal shooting

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A camera operator told authorities that Alec Baldwin had been careful with weapons on the set of the film "Rust" before the actor shot and killed a cinematographer with a gun he'd been told was safe to use, court records released Sunday show.

Cameraman Reid Russell told a detective that Baldwin was rehearsing a scene Thursday in which he was set to draw his gun while sitting in a church pew and point it at the camera. Russell said he was unsure whether the weapon was checked before it was handed to Baldwin.

The camera wasn't rolling when the gun went off, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, Russell told a detective according to a search warrant affidavit.

Authorities said Friday that the assistant director, Dave Halls, had handed the weapon to Baldwin and announced "cold gun," indicating it was safe to use. When asked about how Baldwin treated firearms on the set, Russell said the actor was very careful, citing an instance when Baldwin made sure a child actor was not near him when a gun was being discharged.

The affidavit released Sunday also includes statements by director Joel Souza, who was standing behind Hutchins and was wounded.

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Africa tries to end vaccine inequity by replicating its own

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — In a pair of Cape Town warehouses converted into a maze of airlocked sterile rooms, young scientists are assembling and calibrating the equipment needed to reverse engineer a coronavirus vaccine that has yet to reach South Africa and most of the world's poorest people.

The energy in the gleaming labs matches the urgency of their mission to narrow vaccine disparities. By working to replicate Moderna's COVID-19 shot, the scientists are effectively making an end run around an industry that has vastly prioritized rich countries over poor in both sales and manufacturing.

And they are doing it with unusual backing from the World Health Organization, which is coordinating a vaccine research, training and production hub in South Africa along with a related supply chain for critical raw materials. It's a last-resort effort to make doses for people going without, and the intellectual property implications are still murky.

"We are doing this for Africa at this moment, and that drives us," said Emile Hendricks, a 22-year-old biotechnologist for Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, the company trying to reproduce the Moderna shot. "We can no longer rely on these big superpowers to come in and save us."

Some experts see reverse engineering — recreating vaccines from fragments of publicly available information — as one of the few remaining ways to redress the power imbalances of the pandemic. Only 0.7% of vaccines have gone to low-income countries so far, while nearly half have gone to wealthy countries, according to an analysis by the People's Vaccine Alliance.

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China to start vaccinating children to age 3 as cases spread

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Children as young as 3 will start receiving COVID-19 vaccines in China, where 76 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated and authorities are maintaining a zero-tolerance policy toward outbreaks. 

Local city and provincial level governments in at least five provinces issued notices in recent days announcing that children ages 3-11 will be required to get their vaccinations. 

The expansion of the vaccination campaign comes as parts of China take new clampdown measures to try to stamp out small outbreaks. Gansu, a northwestern province heavily dependent on tourism, closed all tourist sites Monday after finding new COVID-19 cases. Residents in parts of Inner Mongolia have been ordered to stay indoors due to an outbreak there. 

The National Health Commission reported 35 new cases of local transmission had been detected over the past 24 hours, four of them in Gansu. Another 19 cases were found in the Inner Mongolia region, with others scattered around the country.

China has employed lockdowns, quarantines and compulsory testing for the virus throughout the pandemic and has largely stamped out cases of local infection while fully vaccinating 1.07 billion people in its population of 1.4 billion. 

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Drought-stricken California doused by major storm

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A powerful storm barreled toward Southern California after flooding highways, toppling trees and causing mud flows in areas burned bare by recent fires across the northern part of the state.

Drenching showers and strong winds accompanied the weekend's arrival of an atmospheric river — a long and wide plume of moisture pulled in from the Pacific Ocean. The National Weather Service's Sacramento office warned of "potentially historic rain."

Flooding was reported across the San Francisco Bay Area, closing streets in Berkeley, inundating Oakland's Bay Bridge toll plaza and overflowing rivers in Napa and Sonoma counties. Power poles were downed and tens of thousands of people in the North Bay were without electricity.

By Sunday morning, Mount Tamalpais just north of San Francisco had recorded a half foot (15 centimeters) of rainfall during the previous 12 hours, the weather service said.

"Some of our higher elevation locations could see 6, 7, 8 inches of rain before we're all said and done," weather service meteorologist Sean Miller said.

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Proposed mine tests UK climate efforts ahead of UN meeting

WHITEHAVEN, England (AP) — In the patchwork of hills, lakes and sea that makes up England's northwest corner, most people see beauty. Dave Cradduck sees broken dreams.

The coal mine where Cradduck once worked has long closed. The chemical factory that employed thousands is gone. The nuclear power plant is being decommissioned.

For the 74-year-old Cradduck, a plan for a new coal mine that could bring hundreds of jobs is cause for hope.

But environmentalists view it with horror. They say it sends a disastrous message as the United Kingdom welcomes world leaders, advocates, diplomats and scientists to Glasgow, Scotland, for a United Nations climate conference that starts Oct. 31. The two-week COP26 meeting is considered a last chance to nail down carbon-cutting promises that can keep global warming within manageable limits.

"The U.K. sets itself out as a leader, but it's building a coal mine, which is the most polluting thing that you can do," said Rebecca Willis, professor of energy and climate governance at Lancaster University. "It sends a signal to the rest of the world that the U.K. isn't actually serious."

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Whistleblower Haugen to testify as UK scrutinizes Facebook

LONDON (AP) — Former Facebook data scientist turned whistleblower Frances Haugen plans to answer questions Monday from lawmakers in the United Kingdom who are working on legislation to rein in the power of social media companies. 

Haugen is set to appear before a parliamentary committee scrutinizing the British government's draft legislation to crack down on harmful online content, and her comments could help lawmakers beef up the new rules. She's testifying the same day Facebook is expected to release its latest earnings.

It will be her second appearance before lawmakers after she testified in the U.S. Senate earlier this month about the danger she says the company poses, from harming children to inciting political violence and fueling misinformation. Haugen cited internal research documents she secretly copied before leaving her job in Facebook's civic integrity unit. 

She told U.S. lawmakers that she thinks a federal regulator is needed to oversee digital giants like Facebook, something that officials in Britain and the European Union are already working on. 

The U.K. government's online safety bill calls for setting up a regulator that would hold companies to account when it comes to removing harmful or illegal content from their platforms, such as terrorist material or child sex abuse images. 

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In France, Trump-like TV pundit rocks presidential campaign

PARIS (AP) — A survivor of the terrible journey to Auschwitz remembered how the youngest wailed. There were 99 children squeezed among 751 adults gasping for air, crazed by thirst and hunger, aboard convoy No. 63 that departed Paris at 10 minutes past midday on Dec. 17, 1943. 

The 828 murdered at the death camp from that trainload alone included 3-year-old Francine Baur, her sister Myriam, 9, their brothers Antoine and Pierre, 6 and 10, and their parents Odette and André. 

All born in France, their French citizenship proved worthless under France's wartime Vichy regime that teamed up with the country's Nazi occupiers and their extermination of Jews. 

So when André Baur's great-nephew, a Paris mayor, was catching up on his Twitter feed recently and saw a claim reported in French media that Adolf Hitler's Vichy collaborators safeguarded France's Jews from the Holocaust, he was revolted. Worst still in the eyes of Ariel Weil, mayor of the French capital's city center, was that the debunked assertion came from a pretender for the French presidency who is himself Jewish. 

That person is Eric Zemmour, a rabble-rousing television pundit and author with repeated convictions for hate speech who is finding fervent audiences for his anti-Islam, anti-immigration invective in the early stages of France's presidential race. He is packing auditoriums with paying crowds and filling supporters' heads with visions of a Trump-like leap from small screen to the presidential Elysee Palace when France votes in April.

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