News in brief
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House will take a vote this week to formalize Democrats' impeachment inquiry amid President Donald Trump's criticism that the probe is "illegitimate." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the step is being taken "to eliminate any doubt" about the process as the administration tries to block witnesses and withhold documents.
In a letter to colleagues on Monday, Pelosi said the resolution will "affirm the ongoing, existing investigation" and lay out procedures for open hearings and the next steps going forward. She dismissed the White House's argument that impeachment isn't happening without a formal vote, saying that "of course, this argument has no merit."
The Constitution doesn't require a vote to begin impeachment. But Trump and his Republican colleagues have cited the lack of one to say that the probe is not real. Trump used that argument in a lengthy letter to the House earlier this month saying that he wouldn't cooperate.
Many government officials have cooperated with the inquiry despite Trump's orders. But Pelosi's letter comes as a national security official defied a House subpoena Monday, escalating the standoff between Congress and the White House over who will testify.
Charles Kupperman, who was a deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton, failed to show up for a scheduled closed-door deposition after filing a lawsuit asking a federal court in Washington to rule on whether he was legally required to appear. In a statement, Kupperman said he was awaiting "judicial clarity."
Tulane project to aid United Houma Nation
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A $2.1 million research project at Tulane University is aimed at helping members of an American Indian tribe in Louisiana cope with climate change and economic inequality.
In a news release, Tulane says the project aims to benefit the United Houma Nation . Challenges facing the south Louisiana tribe include coastal land loss that threatens fishing, trapping and even some homes.
Part of the project will involve examining how tribal citizens move within and outside the state to manage these and other challenges.
Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine was awarded the project by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine's Gulf Research Program.
IS victims see satisfaction but no closure in leader's death
PARIS (AP) — For Georges Salines, whose 28-year-old daughter Lola was killed when Islamic extremists went on a bloody rampage in Paris in 2015, the death of the man who inspired the attack brought a welcome "sense of satisfaction."
But like other survivors and families of victims of the Islamic State group, Salines stressed that the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, does not mean the fight against terrorism is over.
"It would have been even better if al-Baghdadi could have been captured and sent to trial," Salines told The Associated Press. "That was probably impossible. We knew that for a long time."
Al-Baghdadi was responsible for directing and inspiring attacks by his followers around the world. In Iraq and Syria, he steered his organization into committing acts of brutality on a mass scale: massacres of his opponents; beheadings and stonings that were broadcast to a shocked audience on the internet; and the kidnapping and enslavement of women.
His death was announced Sunday by U.S. President Donald Trump, who said al-Baghdadi detonated an explosive vest while being pursued by U.S. forces in Syria, killing himself and three of his children. It was another major blow to the Islamic State group, which in March was forced by U.S. and Kurdish forces out of the last part of its self-declared "caliphate" that once spanned a swath of Iraq and Syria at its height.
Los Angeles wildfire threatens the homes of the stars
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A wildfire swept through the star-studded hills of Los Angeles early Monday, destroying several large homes and forcing LeBron James and thousands of others to flee in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, a blaze in Northern California wine country exploded in size.
The flames that roared up a steep hillside near the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles' Brentwood section illustrated the unprecedented danger the state faces as high winds batter both ends of California and threaten to turn any spark into a devastating inferno.
No deaths from either blaze were reported, but a firefighter was seriously injured in the wine country fire in Sonoma County.
Some 2.2 million people were without electricity after California's biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, shut off power over the weekend in the northern part of the state to prevent its equipment from sparking blazes. More deliberate blackouts are possible in the coming days because of another round of high winds in the forecast.
The company, which was driven into bankruptcy because of liability from several deadly wildfires in recent years, admitted Monday that despite the outages, its power lines may have started two smaller fires over the weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has also said its transmission lines may have been responsible for the Sonoma County fire.
EU delays Brexit to Jan. 31; Johnson election bid fails
LONDON (AP) — Britain got Brexit breathing space but no clarity on Monday when the European Union granted a three-month delay to the U.K.'s departure from the bloc, postponing it until Jan. 31.
British politicians immediately began using the extra time to do what they have done for more than three years: bicker about Brexit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed for an early election as a way of breaking the political deadlock over the country's stalled departure from the EU, only to be rebuffed by lawmakers.
Legislators voted by 299-70 for Johnson's motion to hold a Dec. 12 election — short of the two-thirds majority of the 650 members of Parliament needed for it to pass.
Still, an election appears inevitable well before the next scheduled one in 2022 if Britain is to move on from the stasis caused by a prime minister who vowed to deliver Brexit "do or die" and a Parliament that has repeatedly thwarted him.
S&P 500 hits all-time high as market extends recent gains
The S&P 500 index closed at an all-time high Monday, extending a recent string of gains in what's mostly been a solid month for the market.
The benchmark index closed at 3,039.42, around 14 points above its previous record set on July 26. The S&P 500 notched its latest milestone after weeks of hovering just below its prior high.
Investors have been balancing worries over the impact that the costly trade war between the U.S. and China is having on corporate profits and the global economy against renewed optimism that negotiations that got underway this month could lead to some kind of resolution in the conflict.
"U.S.-China is not going away any time soon," said Ben Phillips, chief investment officer of EventShares. "The market's sentiment tends to swing from overly fearful to overly exuberant, and we're probably starting to swing a little to the exuberant side right now. There are still a lot of risks out there."
Monday's rally came at the beginning of a busy week of corporate earnings and economic reports and with investors expecting another interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve.
Man arrested in Texas shooting that left 2 dead, 12 hurt
GREENVILLE, Texas (AP) — A man suspected of opening fire at an off-campus college party in Texas, killing two people and injuring 12 others, was arrested Monday.
Brandon Ray Gonzales, 23, of Greenville, Texas, was taken into custody less than 48 hours after Saturday's shooting, Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said. Gonzales, who was arrested at the auto dealership where he worked, was booked into the Hunt County jail on a charge of capital murder of multiple persons. Bond was set at $1 million.
The shooting happened around midnight Saturday outside Greenville, 15 miles (24 kilometers) southwest of a satellite campus of the Texas A&M University System. Authorities believe the shooter may have been targeting just one person at the party of about 750 people, and that others may have been shot at random, Meeks has said.
Kevin Berry Jr. of Dallas and Byron Craven Jr. of Arlington, both 23, were killed, authorities said.
The shooting took place at a Halloween and homecoming party for Texas A&M University-Commerce at a facility called The Party Venue, according to Meeks, though officials said it was not a school-sanctioned event.
Students join Iraq protests as clashes kill 3 demonstrators
BAGHDAD (AP) — Thousands of students joined Iraq's anti-government protests on Monday, as clashes with security forces firing tear gas canisters killed at least three demonstrators and wounded more than 100.
The students skipped classes at several universities and secondary schools in Baghdad and across Iraq's majority-Shiite south on Monday to take part in the protests, despite the government ordering schools and universities to operate normally.
One of those killed was a 22-year-old female medical student, the first woman to be killed since the protests began earlier this month. Seventeen students were among the wounded.
Authorities later announced a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. in the capital, as renewed protests there and across the south raged for a fourth day. A senior security official estimated that 25,000 protesters took part in the demonstration in the capital.
In a separate development, three rockets struck a large military base north of Baghdad that houses U.S. and Iraqi forces, according to another senior Iraqi security official. The official said there were no casualties, and that the attack is being investigated. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
Arkansas lawmaker, civil rights attorney John Walker dies
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — John Walker, an Arkansas lawmaker and civil rights attorney who represented black students in a long-running court fight over the desegregation of Little Rock area schools, has died. He was 82.
The Pulaski County coroner said Walker died at his Little Rock home Monday morning but the cause of death was not yet known. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Walker, a Democrat, had represented a Little Rock district in the state House since 2011. He had been involved in some of the state's most high-profile discrimination and civil rights cases, including the desegregation case, which stemmed from a 1982 lawsuit the Little Rock school district filed against the state and neighboring districts over racial disparities that remained decades after the 1957 integration of Central High School.
"What he did in this state made a difference for everyone in this state," state Sen. Joyce Elliott, chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus. "I don't think everyone will realize the full measure of that for quite some time."
Federal judges have ruled Little Rock and North Little Rock schools substantially complied with a 1998 desegregation plan, and the two remaining districts in the case are seeking release.
Stunning wealth, poor services behind massive Chile protests
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — It's not about a 4-cent hike in subway prices.
The decision to add 30 pesos to the cost of a ticket on Latin America's most modern public transportation system this month drew little attention inside or outside Chile, at first. People quietly fumed. A week later, high-school students launched four days of turnstile-jumping protests. Crowds of angry youths built up inside metro stations.
With no warning, on the afternoon of Oct. 18, they set fire to stations, then trains. Then grocery, department stores and pharmacies went up in flames. Hundreds of thousands of people were left stranded at home or on the streets without public transport. But instead of blaming the young protesters, Chileans from almost all walks of life used social media to call for protests against years of government mismanagement.
Santiago exploded into a week of massive street protests that culminated Friday with more than a million people in the heart of the capital and other major cities — the largest demonstrations ever in the country, according to multiple historians.
With the world wondering how modern, prosperous Chile had erupted into chaos, a protest concert drew 15,000 on Sunday to green and shady O'Higgins Park in central Santiago. There, Chileans said the rise in the cost of a metro ticket had been merely the spark that set off years of frustration with the dark underbelly of their country's long drive to be the most market-driven economy in Latin America.
Pope declares Vatican's Secret Archive not so secret anymore
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has declared that the Vatican Secret Archive isn't so secret after all.
Francis on Monday officially changed the name of the Holy See archive to remove what he said were the "negative" connotations of having "secret" in its name.
From now on, the vast trove of documents, manuscripts and papyrus of popes past will be officially known as the "Vatican Apostolic Archive."
In a new law, Francis noted that the archive has long been open to scholars and that he himself has decreed that the archives of World War II-era Pope Pius XII, accused by some of not speaking out enough about the Holocaust, would open to researchers ahead of schedule on March 2, 2020.
He said the name change better reflects the archive's reality and "its service to the church and the world of culture."
NM governor urges probe of immigrant processing center
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's governor is urging federal immigration authorities to open an investigation of conditions at a privately-managed processing center where Cuban migrants reportedly have attempted to kill themselves.
The office of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham released letters Monday calling for an internal investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of conditions at the Otero County Processing Center in southern New Mexico.
Lujan Grisham is requesting a probe by ICE's inspector general and urged acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to intervene. She describes signs of cruel conditions and despair at the processing center 30 miles (20 kilometers) north of the U.S. border with Mexico at El Paso, Texas.
She says ICE's internal watchdog found egregious problems with unannounced visits last year to holding facilities in four other states.