American Press: Your Best News And Advertising Source - World American Press: The Only Local Daily Newspaper In Southwest Louisiana. en-US Copyright (c) September, 2016 American Press. All rights reserved <![CDATA[World leaders rage against neighbors on 2nd day of UN debate]]> By The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS -- World leaders from Pakistan to Ukraine unleashed their regional grievances Wednesday, taking the stage of the U.N. General Assembly to rage against their neighbors and presenting a picture of a chaotic world consumed by intractable conflicts.

A few paces from the General Assembly hall, the United States and Russia bitterly attacked each other during a Security Council meeting meant to salvage Syria's faltering cease-fire. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon implored Syria's warring parties to lay down their arms.

In the midst of the anger, a few bright spots emerged on the second day of the annual U.N. gathering of heads of states. Colombia basked in world praise when it presented its newly reached peace agreement with leftist rebels to the Security Council. Former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi made her first General Assembly speech since she formed a democratically elected government in Myanmar.

But on the International Day of Peace, tensions on all corners of the planet filled the halls of the United Nations.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang voiced his country's mounting frustration with ally North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons, highlighting the urgency of reaching "a comprehensive political solution on the Korean nuclear issue."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe devoted about half of his address to North Korea, which earlier this month conducted its fifth nuclear test in defiance of repeated Security Council resolutions intended to constrain its weapons development.

Abe said North Korea this year fired three missiles into Japan's exclusive economic zone and it was a matter of luck that no ships or aircraft were damaged. He urged unity in the Security Council to confront the North Korean threat.

"We must concentrate our strengths and thwart North Korea's plans," Abe said.

Some of the angriest words came from the rivalries between Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif delivered a blistering attack on neighboring India while, across the world, gunbattles raged for a second day between Indian soldiers and suspected rebels in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Sharif demanded a U.N. investigation against "brutalities perpetrated by the Indian occupying forces," saying "innocent Kashmiri children, women and men" have been killed, blinded and injured.

Moments earlier, Pakistan came under attack from Afghanistan.

Vice President Sarwar Danese said "merciless attacks from terrorist groups" against its civilians are being planned and organized on Pakistani territory. He said Afghanistan has repeatedly asked Pakistan to destroy known terrorist safe havens but there has been no change in the situation.

Sharif shot back that Pakistan has suffered from spillover of Afghanistan's internal conflicts for more than three decades and "progress will be assured only when the Afghan parties themselves conclude that there is no military solution to the Afghan war."

There was positive news in Ukraine, where the government and separatist rebels agreed Wednesday to pull back troops and weapons from several areas in eastern Ukraine in an attempt to uphold a fragile peace agreement reached last year.

But at the United Nations, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lambasted Russia for being "the instigator and major participant" in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

"The terrorist component of the undeclared hybrid war that Russia wages against Ukraine is evident," Poroshenko said.

Respite from the invective came from Colombia, which appeared at the annual U.N. gathering as a country in peace for the first time in five decades.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos devoted almost his entire speech to the peace deal reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which will be signed in Cartagena later this month and must be submitted to a national referendum on Oct. 2.

"A new Colombia greets the international community today," Santos said. "A Colombia full of hope. A Colombia that, without a war, is ready to reach its highest potential and to be a positive factor in the global context."

He later met with President Barack Obama, who praised the peace accord as an "achievement of historic proportions."

Ban commended Santos for his "vision and determination."

"In a time of armed conflicts in many other paces, peace in Colombia sends a powerful message of hope in the world," Ban said.


Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:14:15 CST 13303067 at
<![CDATA[Police declare evacuated Prince Edward Island schools safe]]> By The Associated Press

TORONTO -- More than 19,000 students on the small Canadian province of Prince Edward Island were evacuated Wednesday after police received a threat that bombs were placed at a number of schools. Police said nothing suspicious was found after officers searched all of the schools in the province.

Threats were also received elsewhere in Canada.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Kevin Baillie said the Prince Edward Island threat came via fax Wednesday morning, and that schools on the normally sleepy island were notified within 10 minutes.

"There's been no threat found. Everybody is safe," he told reporters.

The threat was faxed to Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada's capital of Ottawa, Baillie said.

"The message stated that the bombs been had placed at a number of schools and would be detonated today," he said.

A senior police official said a "swatting" style computer distributed a threat to jurisdictions across Canada and in the U.S. and they are trying to locate the source. Swatting is when someone contacts emergency services to deceive officials and report a bogus threat so that emergency personnel go to a scene. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk publicly about the investigation.

Police in Winnipeg, Manitoba in the central part of Canada are also investigating a threat against the city's largest school division which appears similar to the one in Prince Edward Island. Police say the Winnipeg School Division received a faxed message around 8:30 a.m. that contained a threat to all schools within its jurisdiction. Schools were not evacuated or placed in lockdown.

Students at more than 60 English language and French language schools in Prince Edward Island were taken to safe locations by staff outside the schools, where buses met them.

Baillie said bomb threats are hard to evaluate for credibility, but said authorities like to they err on the side of caution. "This disrupts a lot of lives," he said.

Parents and guardians were asked to wait for further instructions before picking up their children.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he empathized with parents.

"As a parent I know how worrisome this type of situation can be. I know the affected parents must be having a difficult day," Trudeau said.

Parker Grimmer, the island's director of public schools, said police contacted the school system Wednesday morning about "a threat that was of a significant nature" and asked for the evacuation of all schools. He said he expects all students to return to classes on Thursday.

"This is new to us so we are reacting in a new way," Grimmer said. "But we have plans and procedures and I think we followed them."

At Holland College in the provincial capital of Charlottetown, a woman burst into the classroom to tell everyone to pick up their books and evacuate immediately, student Morgan McNeil said. Outside, everyone was in a panic and helicopters were flying overhead, he said.

Baillie said similar threats were made to schools and colleges in the nearby province of Nova Scotia, where the NSCC Marconi Campus, Cape Breton University and the NSCC technology campus in Halifax were evacuated.

At least one school in the United States also was threatened, he said. It wasn't immediately clear which one was involved or if it was evacuated.

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 13:25:39 CST 13302920 at
<![CDATA[Obama calls on wealthier nations to do more for refugees]]> By Darlene Superville / Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS -- President Barack Obama called on wealthier nations Tuesday to do more to help millions of refugees find new homes and asked all leaders to imagine what it would be like "if the unspeakable happened to us."

In his final speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama offered praised for nations "right now that are doing the right thing" to help ease the largest refugee crisis since World War II. But he said many countries, "particularly those blessed with wealth and the benefits of geography," can do more to offer assistance to more than 65 million people who have fled their homes because of war or persecution or to seek a better life.

Obama commented as the White House announced that more than four dozen U.S. businesses have pledged $650 million to help refugees. Obama will also hold a special refugee summit later Tuesday on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders.

Facebook, Twitter, MasterCard, Johnson & Johnson, yogurt maker Chobani are among companies that have pledged financial and in-kind support to help ease access to education, employment and financial services for 6.3 million refugees in more than 20 countries.

Countries participating in a special refugee summit Obama was hosting are announcing individual pledges in line with a U.S. goal of increasing humanitarian aid by $3 billion, doubling resettlement and providing access to jobs and education. Obama was hosting the summit with the leaders of Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico, and Sweden, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Meeting with CEOs of some of the companies and actor George Clooney and his wife, Amal, before the summit, Obama welcomed the pledges as more than an "extraordinary gesture of compassion."

"I want to emphasize that from their perspective this isn't charity. This is part of their overall mission. It makes good business sense," he said.

Lila Ibrahim, chief operating officer of Coursera, an education-focused technology company, echoed Obama's sentiment. She said she was working to bring online college courses to some 10,000 refugees.

"It makes business sense because you have generations of people who are trying to begin jobs," Ibrahim said, adding that the company will provide 100 percent financial aid to refugees in hopes that their children and grandchildren will return to Coursera as paying customers in the future.

"I think it's more about how could we work with refugees to build the company we want to build. I think that's really important as a start up," she said.

In his address to the General Assembly, Obama also urged nations to follow through on their pledges "even when the politics are hard."

The millions of refugees leaving war-torn Syria and other countries wracked by conflict have led to a backlash in some countries, including in the U.S., where Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has suggested banning Muslim immigrants.

Last week, the White House announced that the U.S. would resettle 110,000 refugees in the coming year, a 30 percent increase over the 85,000 allowed in this year.

The 85,000 figure included 10,000 Syrian refugees, a figure advocacy groups had criticized as inadequate given the wealth of the U.S. and the fact that other countries, such as Canada and Germany, were welcoming far greater numbers of fleeing Syrians.

The administration has yet to release a country-by-country breakdown of the 110,000 refugee figure.

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 15:05:22 CST 13300450 at
<![CDATA[Obama, in final UN speech, calls for world course correction]]> By Josh Lederman / Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS -- President Barack Obama conceded Tuesday that the United States and other world powers have limited ability to solve the most profound challenges facing the world, while calling for a "course correction" for globalization to ensure that nations don't retreat into a more sharply divided world.

Obama, in his final speech to the U.N. General Assembly, acknowledged that the extremist and sectarian violence wreaking havoc in the Middle East and elsewhere "will not be quickly reversed." Still, he stuck faithfully to his insistence that diplomatic efforts and not military solutions are the key to resolving Syria's civil war and other conflicts.

"If we are honest, we know that no external power is going to be able to force different religious communities or ethnic communities to co-exist for long," Obama said. "Until basic questions are answered about how communities co-exist, the embers of extremism will continue to burn. Countless human beings will suffer."

In a less-than-subtle jab at Donald Trump, the Republican running to replace him, Obama said, "The world is too small for us to simply be able to build a wall and prevent (extremism) from affecting our own societies."

The president was unabashed in his critique of Russia as he laid out his diagnosis of the world's ills. Obama's longstanding differences with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his actions in Ukraine have accompanied intense disagreement over Syria's future and a series of failed attempts by Russia and the U.S. to resolve the civil war there together.

"In a world that left the age of empire behind, we see Russia attempting to recover lost glory through force," Obama said.

The tough talk about Russia illustrated how little progress has been made in reconciling the diverging interests among the two powers that has allowed the Syria crisis to continue to fester. A year ago, Obama stood at the same podium and declared anew that Syrian President Bashar Assad must leave power, while Putin gave a dueling speech warning it would be a mistake to abandon Assad.

In the year since, Moscow's leverage in the conflict has strengthened significantly. Russia's military intervention in Syria has helped bolster Assad's standing without pulling it into the military "quagmire" that Obama had predicted.

Obama sought to use his last appearance before the global body to define how his leadership had put the world on a better trajectory over the last eight years. At the heart of that approach, Obama said, is the notion that the biggest conflicts are best solved when nations cooperate rather than tackle them individually.

It's a theme that Democrat Hillary Clinton has put at the forefront of her campaign for president, casting herself as the natural continuation of Obama's legacy. In another apparent reference to Trump, Obama bemoaned how terrorist networks had spread their ideology on social media, spurring anger toward "innocent immigrants and Muslims."

Obama lamented that the world has become safer and more prosperous as nations are struggling with a devastating refugee crisis, terrorism and a breakdown in basic order in the Middle East. He said governing had become more difficult as people lose faith in public institutions and tensions among nations spiral out of control more rapidly.

"This is the paradox that defines the world today," Obama said. "We must go forward, and not backward."

The president cited his administration's outreach to former adversaries Cuba and Myanmar as key examples of progress, along with global cooperation to cut emissions blamed for global warming. At the same time, he said he sought not to "whitewash" challenges across the globe, some of which he attributed to deepening anxieties about the profound shifts inflicted by technology and growing international interdependence.

"In order to move forward though, we do have to acknowledge that the existing path to global integration requires a course correction," Obama said.

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 12:10:47 CST 13300185 at
<![CDATA[Paris deal to receive boost at UN event]]> By Karl Ritter / Associated Press

STOCKHOLM -- At least 20 countries are expected to formally join the Paris Agreement on climate change this week, greatly improving the pact's chances of coming into force just a year after it was negotiated in the French capital, U.N. officials say.

That's considered a blistering pace in the world of international diplomacy, reflecting a sense of urgency in the fight against global warming and a desire to seal the deal before the Obama administration leaves office.

Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Morocco are expected to hand over documents at the U.N. in New York on Wednesday to formally complete the ratification process. At least half a dozen small island nations including Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Kiribati will also follow suit.

"We are ready. We will announce it in New York," Moroccan Environment Minister Hakima el-Haite told The Associated Press.

After years of negotiations, governments agreed in Paris last December to curb the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that scientists say are warming the planet.

More than 170 world leaders have signed the deal, but it won't take effect until 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions have ratified or accepted it through their domestic procedures. That was initially expected to take several years, but 28 countries accounting for 39 percent of emissions are already done, including China and the United States, the world's top two greenhouse gas emitters.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged world leaders to bring the Paris Agreement into force by the end of the year.

"The Earth assails us with rising seas, record heat and extreme storms," Ban told the U.N. General Assembly. "With the Paris Agreement on climate change, we are tackling the defining challenge of our time."

U.S. diplomats are also pushing other countries to accelerate their ratification efforts so that the deal can enter into force this year. The White House says President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry plan to corner foreign leaders in the hallways during the U.N. gathering to personally pressure them to join this week.

"We're very anxious to have it move forward quickly," U.S. climate envoy Jonathan Pershing told the AP. "We are talking to everybody about the urgency."

It's possible that more than 55 countries will have joined by the end of Wednesday. It will likely take a bit longer to reach 55 percent of world emissions.

Pershing said the haste comes down to the fact that "this is a problem that can't wait."

Others say another factor is the potential of a shift in U.S. climate policy depending on the outcome of the presidential election in November. Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton has said the U.S. must implement the Paris Agreement, but Republican candidate Donald Trump has said he will cancel the deal.

"The Obama administration clearly would like to see this done before they leave office," said Alden Meyer, a veteran observer of the U.N. climate talks at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"That doesn't guarantee that the next president will fully implement Paris," Meyer said. "But it would take at least four years for the U.S. to formally withdraw."

The Paris Agreement asks both rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns across the globe. It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions, though the targets themselves aren't internationally binding.

The European Union, which considers itself as one of the architects of the Paris deal, is trying to fast-track its ratification process to avoid the embarrassment of sitting on the sidelines when it comes into force.

The EU, which accounts for 12 percent of global emissions, originally planned to wait for its 28 member states to approve the deal domestically, but now wants to ratify it on their behalf.

"It's technically possible," said Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, a spokeswoman for EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete. "But politically it's a decision of the member states."

With or without the EU, there's a chance that the deal can enter into force as early as the next U.N. climate conference, which starts Nov. 7 in Marrakech, Morocco.

U.N. officials said last week that at least 20 countries had indicated they would join on Wednesday and that they were "absolutely certain" that the deal will come into force this year.

For some the timing is mostly symbolic, because the first round of emissions targets doesn't start until 2020. For others, like the island nations who face an existential risk from rising seas, it's imperative that countries prepare to implement — and improve — their targets as soon as possible.

"We cannot wait," said Maldives Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim, who chairs an alliance of small island states. "We are at the forefront of climate change and we are the people who will suffer if there is no action taken early."

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 11:20:20 CST 13300074 at
<![CDATA[At least 17 dead amid opposition protests in Congo's capital]]> By Saleh Mwanamilongo / Associated Press

KINSHASA, Congo --Street clashes between security forces and demonstrators opposed to President Joseph Kabila left at least 17 dead in Congo's capital Monday in a dramatic sign of mounting tensions after officials sought to delay the upcoming election until next year.

Some view a delay as a way for Kabila to prolong his rule beyond the end of his mandate in late December, as he is able to stay in power if there is no election to choose a successor.

"Today is a warning. He must leave by December," protester Salomon Kaba said.

Protesters threw stones and set tires and vehicles ablaze, according to witnesses. Interior Minister Evariste Boshab confirmed that three police officers were among the dead, including one who was burned alive.

An Associated Press photographer saw at least four civilian bodies with gunshot wounds in the streets.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende called the demonstrations a pre-meditated criminal act.

"This wasn't a demonstration at all but an attempt to unleash civil war in the city of Kinshasa," he said. "The authorities decided to put an end to the protest and disperse it."

Eva Mwakasa, a member of the opposition coalition La Dynamique, said it was difficult to give a death toll as protesters had been dispersed by tear gas.

For months, observers have questioned whether Congo could hold the presidential vote as scheduled on Nov. 27. The country's electoral commission had indicated that the voter list would not be formalized before July 2017.

Over the weekend, the commission made an official request to the country's constitutional court for a delay of the vote.

Kabila, who came to power after his father's assassination in 2001, has yet to announce whether he will pursue another term in office, though the constitution prohibits it.

The violence comes amid growing fears that the delay could lead to prolonged unrest in Congo, a nation as vast in size as Western Europe. The mineral-rich but largely impoverished country suffered back-to-back civil wars until 2003, and previous instability has drawn in armies from neighboring countries.

While the ruling party has held talks as part of a national dialogue, many of the top opposition figures have not taken part. In recent days, the ruling party has floated the idea of a unity government with opposition members until the next elections, though the proposal would keep Kabila in charge during that period.

Demonstrations also have erupted outside the capital. Human Rights Watch said police fired live bullets Friday in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi. Their report released Sunday also described a series of arrests targeting members of the opposition in recent days.

"The decisions President Kabila and his government will make in the coming weeks can make all the difference for Congo's future," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "This is a critical opportunity for the country to strengthen democracy, the rule of law and human rights for its own future and for the entire region."

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 13:51:23 CST 13297802 at
<![CDATA[Court to rule on same-sex marriage in conservative Romania]]> By Alison Mutler / Associated Press

BUCHAREST, Romania -- They met in Central Park, fell in love, and now are happily married. But there's a catch. The same-sex marriage of Adrian Coman and Claibourn Robert Hamilton is not recognized in Coman's native Romania.

They have petitioned Romania's Constitutional Court to recognize them as married, which would be a landmark— and surprising— ruling. Commentators predict the court will reject their case on Tuesday.

The couple's lawyer, Iustina Ionescu, said Monday that she hoped the court would "put an end to homophobic sentiments and apply the constitution equally." She said the ruling had implications for non-traditional families such as cohabiting couples and one-parent families. "Not allowing them to be a family goes against the right to a family."

Romania's constitution defines marriage as a union between "partners," but a church-backed group is campaigning for a referendum to change that to "a man and a woman."

The case comes as European Union member Romania tries to balance European norms and the demands of the conservative and influential Romanian Orthodox Church.

Cristian Parvulescu, dean of the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, predicted Monday that "the court will make a political rather than a judicial ruling." Journalist and commentator Dan Turturica says it would be "revolutionary" for the court to recognize the union.

Yet U.S. graphic designer Hamilton, 44, has told The Associated Press that his experience in Romania had been "nothing less than compassion, friendliness and warmth and I'm grateful for that."

The pair appeared in Romanian media during their visit in July and their upbeat, eloquent and relaxed manner generally attracted positive attention. One restaurant owner recognized them, gave them a bottle of champagne on the house and wished them success.

Success may elude them yet. On July 20, the Constitutional Court ruled that a church-backed group could seek to amend the constitution to limit marriage to male-female couples. If parliament agrees in a vote that may come later this year, there would be a referendum.

Coman, 45, and San Antonio native Hamilton are used to battles.

They married in Belgium in 2010, eight years after meeting in New York, and Coman went to Romania's consulate in Brussels hoping to get the marriage legally recognized. He remembers consular staff huddled in discussion as they pored over the marriage certificate, before telling him the marriage would not be recognized.

"It was not my home that day," he told AP in a July interview in Bucharest. "I was very sad and humiliated."

The legal fight for recognition in Romania began in 2012. As things stand, they could not easily move to the country. Hamilton can get only a 90-day visa to be in Romania and would have difficulty getting permission to work.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 2001 and attitudes to have relaxed, but aversion to same-sex relationships remains.

The New York-based couple refrains from holding hands in Romania, a society in which public expression of affection is common.

"I am afraid it would attract hostility perhaps," said Coman. "An act of love and affection (can be seen) as defiance." In private, they are very demonstrative.

Coman's mother, Camelia Coman, a draftswoman and newspaper copy editor, is supportive. She recalls how her son, then 24, told her he wanted to tell her something, which she intuitively guessed. They both burst into tears. Coman's father also supports him.

"I want mothers to know that it is enough to love and know your child," she said. "Society has a mentality that is close to medieval at times."

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 09:33:04 CST 13297467 at
<![CDATA[Woman allegedly lured on FB and gang-raped near Eiffel Tower]]> By The Associated Press

PARIS -- French officials say three men have been charged and jailed after a woman was allegedly lured on Facebook by one of them and then gang-raped near the Eiffel Tower.

A police official said Friday that three Algerian men were arrested earlier this week in a Paris hotel under suspicion of taking part in the rape of the French woman in the Champ-de-Mars garden, close to the famous tower.

The official says one of the men is suspected of chatting with the woman on Facebook before the alleged rape and then arranging a date with her in Paris.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

The Paris prosecutor's office confirmed that three men have been given preliminary charges in the case and jailed. It wouldn't elaborate.

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 14:47:50 CST 13291582 at
<![CDATA[Canadian jailed in China over spying allegations freed]]> By The Associated Press

TORONTO -- A Canadian citizen who was detained in China for two years over accusations of spying has been freed and has returned to Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday he's delighted Kevin Garratt is back in Canada with his family. His return comes just over a week after Trudeau visited China in a bid to improve relations.

Garratt had been indicted by prosecutors in Dandong, a city on the North Korean border where he and his wife ran a popular coffee shop and conducted Christian aid work for North Koreans. He and his wife Julia were arrested in August 2014 by the state security bureau. His wife was later released on bail.

Trudeau says his government had made the case a priority at the highest levels.

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 17:40:50 CST 13289365 at
<![CDATA[Brazilian ex-President Silva charged in corruption probe]]> By The Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian federal investigators have charged former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with money laundering and corruption.

The charges announced Wednesday are in connection with a sprawling corruption investigation at state-run oil giant Petrobras.

Silva, his wife and five others are accused of illegally benefiting from renovations at a beachfront apartment in the coastal city of Guaruja, in Sao Paulo state. The improvements were made by constructors involved in the kickback scheme emanating from Petrobras.

Silva acknowledges having visited the penthouse but says he never owned it.

Police recommended the charges last month. Judge Sergio Moro must now decide whether Silva will stand trial.

In a separate case related to Petrobras, Silva will go on trial charged with obstruction of justice.

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 15:25:54 CST 13286222 at