American Press: Your Best News And Advertising Source - World American Press: The Only Local Daily Newspaper In Southwest Louisiana. en-US Copyright (c) October, 2016 American Press. All rights reserved <![CDATA[UK to pardon thousands convicted under past anti-gay laws]]> By The Associated Press

LONDON -- Thousands of men who were convicted under now-abolished British laws against homosexuality are to receive posthumous pardons, the government announced Thursday. Those who are still alive can will be eligible to have their criminal records wiped clean.

The Ministry of Justice said the pardons apply to men convicted for consensual same-sex sexual relations before homosexuality was decriminalized several decades ago. Men living with convictions can apply to the government to have their names cleared.

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said the government was trying "to put right these wrongs."

"It is hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offenses who would be innocent of any crime today," he said.

Calls for a general pardon have been building since World War II codebreaker Alan Turing was awarded a posthumous royal pardon in 2013.

The computer science pioneer helped crack Nazi Germany's secret codes by creating the "Turing bombe," a forerunner of modern computers. His work helped shorten World War II, and he was an innovator of artificial intelligence.

After the war, Turing was prosecuted for having sex with a man, stripped of his security clearance and forcibly treated with female hormones. He died in 1954 at age 41 after eating an apple laced with cyanide.

Sex between men remained illegal in England until 1967 — and even later in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The age of consent for gay people was not lowered to 16, the same as for heterosexuals, until 2001.

Many gay rights campaigners welcomed Thursday's announcement. But some said the government should go further and issue a blanket pardon, rather than making men apply individually to have their criminal records vacated.

Others said they wanted an apology, not a pardon.

"To accept a pardon means to accept that you were guilty. I was not guilty of anything," said 94-year-old writer George Montague, who was convicted of gross indecency — then a commonly used charge for sex between men — in 1974.

"I think it was wrong to give Alan Turing, one of the heroes of my life, wrong to give him a pardon," Montague told the BBC. "What was he guilty of? Being born only able to fall in love with another man."

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 15:43:24 CST 13371264 at
<![CDATA[European Mars lander's fate unclear, 'not good signs']]> By The Associated Press

DARMSTADT, Germany -- A senior European Space Agency official says that the signal from the experimental Schiaparelli probe cut off before its landing on Mars, which he says isn't a good sign.

Paolo Ferri, ESA's head of operations, said the signal "stopped shortly before landing."

He cautioned that more analysis of the data was needed to understand what had happened to the experimental lander during Wednesday's descent.

He says it is too soon to jump to conclusions but "it's clear that these are not good signs."

He said that an update is expected on Thursday.

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 13:55:14 CST 13365572 at
<![CDATA[Mars probe enters atmosphere; word on landing awaited]]> By The Associated Press

BERLIN -- The European Space Agency's experimental Schiaparelli probe entered the atmosphere of Mars on Wednesday, and scientists awaited confirmation that the craft had touched down safely. Its mother ship, which will analyze the atmosphere, went into orbit around the red planet.

Schiaparelli was released from the mother ship, the Trace Gas Orbiter, on Sunday. Scientists said the gentle approach would turn into a six-minute hell ride when the probe plunged into the hot, dusty Martian atmosphere and hurtled toward the surface at 21,000 kilometers an hour (13,050 mph).

If all went to plan, Schiaparelli would deploy a parachute and then thrusters to slow down to 10 kph (6.2 mph) before hitting the surface.

Don McCoy, the manager of the ExoMars project of which the two craft are part, said some data had been received from the lander confirming its entry and the deployment of its parachute. More information was expected later Wednesday.

"We can't conclude the real status of (Schiaparelli) at the moment but indeed it did enter the atmosphere," McCoy said at mission control in Darmstadt, Germany.

Landing a spacecraft on Mars is notoriously difficult and several past missions have failed, including the European Space Agency's previous attempt in 2003 with the rover Beagle 2. It made it to Mars but its solar panels didn't unfold properly, preventing it from communicating.

While Schiaparelli has some scientific instruments on board, its main purpose is to rehearse the landing and test technology for a European rover mission to Mars in 2020. NASA has successfully placed several robotic vehicles on the planet, including the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers.

Schiaparelli left for Mars in March aboard a Russian rocket together with the Trace Gas Orbiter.

The orbiter, which also has NASA-made instruments on board, will analyze methane and other gases in the atmosphere.

Methane is created by biological or geological activity and breaks down within a few hundred years once it reaches the atmosphere, suggesting there is biological or geological activity on Mars now or in the recent past.

The prospect of finding even microscopic organisms on Mars has excited scientists for some time, but so far none has been discovered.

The ExoMars program, which comprises the current and 2020 mission, is ESA's first interplanetary mission jointly undertaken with the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 12:40:48 CST 13365443 at
<![CDATA[Iran sentences Iranian-American, his father each to 10 years]]> By Amir Vahdat and Jon Gambrell / Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran -- An Iranian-American businessman and his father have been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran, a state-run judicial news agency reported Tuesday, the latest dual nationals imprisoned since the nuclear deal.

The announcement by the Mizan news agency came a day after it released footage of businessman Siamak Namazi. The video highlighted recent tensions between Iran and the U.S. and was a sign of the power still wielded by hard-liners in the Islamic Republic.

The Mizan report said Namazi and his 80-year-old father Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF representative who once served as governor of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province under the U.S.-backed shah, were convicted of "cooperating with the hostile American government." It did not elaborate.

A Namazi family statement posted online described the sentences as "beyond comprehension."

"My father has been handed practically a death sentence and it will be a criminal act by me, his only able son, not to fight for my father's life and freedom as well as that (of) my brother," wrote another son, Babak Namazi.

The U.S. State Department said it was "deeply concerned" by reports of the sentencing.

"We join recent calls by international organizations and UN human rights experts for the immediate release of all U.S. citizens unjustly detained in Iran, including Siamak and Baquer Namazi, so that they can return to their families," said a State Department spokesman, Mark Toner.

UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, expressed "deep sadness and personal concern" over the sentence of Baquer Namazi.

"The entire UNICEF family are deeply concerned for his health and well-being," UNICEF said. "Baquer has been a humanitarian all his life. We appeal for his release on humanitarian grounds."

The Mizan report said Nizar Zakka, a U.S. permanent resident from Lebanon, also received a 10-year prison sentence. His supporters had earlier told The Associated Press about the sentence, though the Mizan report was the first official Iranian confirmation of it.

It said two others had been convicted as well, without naming them or identifying their nationalities.

Later Tuesday, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying three Iranians were sentenced to 10-years imprisonment for "espionage and cooperating with the U.S. government." He named them as Farhad Abdesaleh, Kamran Ghaderi and Alireza Omidvar, without elaborating. It was unclear if they had lawyers or if they were among the two previously mentioned by Mizan.

The Namazi family fled after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but appears to have kept business ties in Iran, and the younger Namazi traveled back several times. He also wrote several articles calling for improved ties between Iran and the U.S., and urging Iranian-Americans to act as a bridge between the rival governments.

Still, Siamak Namazi's efforts raised suspicions among hard-liners in Iran. In May 2015, a hard-line Iranian website called Fardanews specifically pointed to him in a highly critical article, accusing him of being part of efforts to allow the West to infiltrate Iran.

On Monday, Mizan released a video of the younger Namazi, the first images of him since his detention in October 2015. The montage of clips included an Iranian drone flying over a U.S. aircraft carrier and American sailors on their knees after being briefly detained by Iran in January.

It showed Namazi's U.S. passport, his United Arab Emirates ID card and a clip of him in a conference room, his arms raised at his sides.

At the end of the video, it also showed a still image of U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican who chairs the House's Foreign Affairs Committee, quoting him describing Namazi's arrest as a "latest show of contempt for America."

Iran does not recognize dual nationalities, meaning those detained cannot receive consular assistance. In most cases, dual nationals have faced secret charges in closed-door hearings in Iran's Revolutionary Court, which handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.

The Namazis were not released as part of a January deal that freed detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and three other Iranian-Americans in exchange for pardons or charges being dropped against seven Iranians.

That deal also saw the U.S. make a $400 million cash delivery to Iran.

Analysts and family members of those detained in Iran have suggested Iran wants to negotiate another deal with the West to free those held. In September, Iran freed a retired Canadian-Iranian university professor amid negotiations to reopen embassies in the two nations.

Others with Western ties recently detained in Iran include Robin Shahini, an Iranian-American detained while visiting family who previously had made online comments criticizing Iran's human rights record, and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman sentenced to five years in prison on allegations of planning the "soft toppling" of Iran's government while traveling with her young daughter.

Still missing is former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran in 2007 while on an unauthorized CIA mission.

"We also respectfully underscore the importance of Iran cooperating with the United States to determine the whereabouts of Mr. Robert Levinson, who went missing on Iran's Kish Island," said Toner, the State Department spokesman. "As President Obama stated last January, we will not rest until the Levinson family is whole again."

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 11:47:56 CST 13361770 at
<![CDATA[Retaking Mosul: Iraq's most complex anti-IS operation]]> By Susannah George / Associated Press

IRBIL, Iraq -- Iraqi forces have launched their most complex anti-Islamic State operation to date: retaking the country's second-largest city of Mosul.

While the country's military has won a string of territorial victories that have pushed the Islamic State group out of more than half the territory the group once held, some Iraqi officials worry that the Mosul fight has been rushed and if the city is retaken without a plan to broker a peace, it could lead to more violence.


Mosul fell to IS in June 2014, when the extremist group blitzed across northern and western Iraq, overrunning nearly a third of the country.

Over the last year, Iraqi forces have steadily pushed IS out of most of the western Anbar province, including the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, and cut many of its supply routes to Syria. But Iraqi forces have never attempted to retake a city the size of Mosul.


Iraqi forces began moving into Nineveh province to surround Mosul in July, when ground troops led by the country's elite special forces retook Qayara air base south of the city. Thousands of Iraqi troops are now massing there ahead of the planned operation. Iraqi troops also deployed east of Mosul in the Khazer area, along with Kurdish peshmerga forces, and to the north of the city near the Mosul Dam and Bashiqa areas.


In addition to the Iraqi army, Kurdish peshmerga forces, Iraqi special forces and Sunni tribal fighters, Shiite militias are also expected to play a role in the Mosul operation. The role of the Shiite militias has been particularly sensitive, as Nineveh is a majority Sunni province and the militias have been accused of carrying out abuses against civilians in other operations in majority Sunni parts of Iraq.

A very small number of Turkish troops deployed for over a year in Iraqi territory at a base north of Mosul have caused a recent spike in tensions between Iraq and Turkey. Iraq has repeatedly called for the Turkish forces to withdraw, claiming they entered the country without the permission of the central government. Shiite militia fighters have said they are violating Iraqi sovereignty and have vowed to expel them.


The fight to retake Mosul was largely launched from the north and east. The Kurdish peshmerga forces say they will push IS out of a cluster of mostly Christian and Yazidi villages northeast of Mosul along the Nineveh plain, while Iraqi military troops try to cut the main supply line northwest of Mosul that links IS territory in Iraq to its strongholds in Syria. A large number of Iraqi military forces are also expected to push up from Qayara air base.

Once villages around Mosul have been cleared of IS fighters, Iraq's special forces — also called the counterterrorism forces — are expected to lead the push into the city of Mosul itself. The special forces were trained for more than a decade by the United States and are now some of Iraq's most competent ground forces. They have led the ground assault in a number of battles against IS in the past, including the operations to retake Tikrit, Ramadi, Fallujah and the Beiji oil refinery.


Mosul is Iraq's second-largest city and still home to more than a million civilians. Both in terms of geography and population, it's a much larger task than Iraq's military has ever undertaken previously in the fight against IS.

It's unclear how many IS fighters remain in Mosul, but even a few hundred could wreak havoc. Iraqi forces advancing on Monday found roads and fields littered with roadside bombs, and IS unleashed a series of suicide car and truck attacks on the advancing troops, a tactic it has used effectively in past battles.

Iraqi officials fear that IS could also use civilians as human shields, and that they may destroy vital infrastructure as they retreat, leaving behind a massive reconstruction challenge and preventing residents from returning.


Iraq's military has been under enormous pressure to launch the operation to retake Mosul before the end of this year as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has repeatedly promised Mosul would be retaken in 2016. Some Iraqi officials are concerned that the military operation is being rushed before the country's politicians have agreed on how the province will be governed after the Islamic State group is pushed out.

Iraq remains deeply divided, and the grievances between the country's Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish populations that allowed IS to rise to power in the first place have not been resolved. Some Iraqi officials have cautioned that even after Mosul is retaken from IS, violence will erupt again in the form of revenge killings or clashes between groups once allied against a common enemy.

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 14:29:04 CST 13359909 at
<![CDATA[Austrian government to demolish house of Hitler's birth]]> By George Jahn / Associated Press

VIENNA -- The house where Adolf Hitler was born will be torn down and replaced with a new building that has no association with the Nazi dictator, Austria's government announced Monday as it moved to eliminate the property's pull as a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis.

The plan still has to be formalized in legislation and voted on in Parliament. But the Interior Ministry said demolition was recommended by a government-appointed commission.

With the Social Democratic and centrist People's Party in the majority, and most opposition parties expected to support the plan, passage was likely no more than a formality.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said that "a thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said that means that except for its foundations, nothing will be left of the house in the western town of Braunau and that a new structure will be erected in its place.

A ministry statement emailed to The Associated Press quoted Sobotka saying he wants to ensure that any association with Hitler is eliminated at the site, adding that he could conceive of it being repurposed to house either government or social agency offices.

The statement said the commission had recommended against leaving the site empty, which could be interpreted as an attempted "denial of Austrian history."

The government this year launched formal legal procedures to dispossess the home's owner after she had repeatedly refused to sell the building or to allow renovations that would reduce its symbolic impact as Hitler's birthplace — and its draw for admirers of the Fuhrer.

The statement said the Interior Ministry planned to finalize a draft law making the house state property before putting it to a vote in Parliament by the end of the year.

Vienna's Jewish community and a government-supported anti-Nazi research center support tearing down the imposing three-story yellow house, where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889.

But some historians argue that the house and the apartment inside where the Hitler family lived briefly should be preserved specifically because they are among the few surviving structures linked to the Nazi leader.

A house in nearby Leonding, where Hitler lived as a teenager, is now used to store coffins for the town cemetery. There, the tombstone marking the grave of Hitler's parents, another pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis, was removed last year at the request of a descendant.

A school that Hitler attended in Fischlham, also near Braunau, displays a plaque condemning his crimes against humanity.

The underground bunker in Berlin where Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, was demolished and the site left vacant until the East German government built an apartment complex around it in the late 1980s.

The apartments overlook the German capital's monument to victims of the Holocaust.

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 13:43:45 CST 13359867 at
<![CDATA[Court hearing on potential Ontario ban of Indians name, logo]]> By Rob Gillies / Associated Press

TORONTO -- A Toronto court will hear arguments Monday on an attempt to bar the Cleveland Indians from using their team name and "Chief Wahoo" logo in Ontario.

The legal challenge by indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal comes on the same day the team plays the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series in Toronto.

The long-standing logo, which appears on some team caps and jerseys, depicts a grinning, red-faced cartoon with a feather headband.

Major League Baseball said it "appreciates the concerns" of those who find the name and logo "offensive."

"We would welcome a thoughtful and inclusive dialogue to address these concerns outside the context of litigation," the league said in a statement. "Given the demands for completing the League Championship Series in a timely manner, MLB will defend Cleveland's right to use their name that has been in existence for more than 100 years."

Cardinal's lawyers will ask the court Monday to bar the usage of the name and logo by the team, MLB and Toronto team owner Rogers Communications, which broadcasts the game in Canada. Justice Tom McEwen will hear the challenge early Monday afternoon. Michael Swinwood, one of Cardinal's lawyers, said the judge will rule before Monday night's game.

Cardinal believes the team shouldn't be allowed to wear their regular jerseys, the logo shouldn't be broadcast and the team should be referred to as "the Cleveland team."

"It's quite obviously a derogatory, cartoonish representation of an indigenous person," Swinwood said. "The whole concept of how it demeans native people is essentially his concern."

Swinwood said the legal challenge is a high-profile opportunity to bring awareness to the racism aboriginal people face in North America.

Indians spokesman said Curtis Dansburg said the team is focused on the playoffs and "will not comment any further on matters that distract from our pursuit on the field."

Rogers Communications spokesman Aaron Lazarus said his organization understands that the Cleveland name and logo is a concern for a number of Canadians but said the playoff game is important to baseball fans.

"Punishing fans by blocking the broadcast of the games doesn't seem like the right solution and it would be virtually impossible to broadcast the games without seeing the Cleveland team name and logo on the field, in the stands and in the stadium," Lazarus said.

The Indians dropped Wahoo as their primary logo two years ago, switching to a block "C'', and reduced the logo's visibility. However, one of the caps the Indians wear at home has the "Wahoo" logo on its front and Cleveland's jerseys remain adorned with the Wahoo logo on one sleeve.

Mark Shapiro, a former Cleveland Indians president and current Blue Jays president, worked on building up the other logo, the simple C. He said last week the Wahoo logo "personally bothered" him but said the people of Cleveland thought differently. Shapiro was asked about it after Blue Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth said he refuses to use the team name after getting a letter from an aboriginal person saying such terms were deeply offensive.

The NFL's Washington Redskins have received harsh criticism for their nickname, and many universities and high schools have made changes to logos, mascots and nicknames that depict Native Americans, a once common tradition throughout the U.S.

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 11:58:28 CST 13359733 at
<![CDATA[Pope makes Argentina's 'gaucho priest' and 6 others saints]]>

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis canonized Argentina's "gaucho priest" Sunday, bestowing sainthood on the poncho-wearing pastor with whom the first Argentine pope shares many similarities, from a taste for mate tea to a dedication to bringing the ministry to even the most isolated people.

Francis honored Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero along with six others in a Mass before a crowd of 80,000 in St. Peter's Square, saying the new saints, "thanks to prayer, had generous and steadfast hearts."

"The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray and struggle in them," the pope said.

Also made into saints were two Italian priests, Lodovico Pavoni and Alfonso Maria Fusco, French martyr Salomone Leclercq, French nun Elisabeth of the Trinity, Spanish bishop Manuel Gonzalez Garcia and Mexican layman Jose Sanchez del Rio.

Born in 1849 in the province of Cordoba, Brochero was one of the most famous Catholics in the Argentina of Francis' youth. He died in 1914 after living for years with leprosy that he was said to have contracted from one of his faithful.

Brochero was beatified in 2013, after Pope Benedict XVI signed off on a miracle attributed to his intercession. Francis moved Brochero closer to sainthood soon after being elected pope, and cleared him for sainthood earlier this year.

At the time of Brochero's beatification, Francis wrote a letter to Argentina's bishops praising Brochero for having had the "smell of his sheep." That's a phrase Francis has frequently used to describe his ideal pastor: one who accompanies his flock, walking with them through life's ups and downs.

"He never stayed in the parish office. He got on his mule and went out to find people like a priest of the street — to the point of getting leprosy," Francis wrote.

A papal biographer, Austen Ivereigh, says Brochero exemplifies Francis' idea of a priest.

Among the parallels shared by the two Argentines is Brochero's spirituality, which is deeply rooted in the Jesuit spiritual exercises dear to Francis. Francis, who like Brochero adores his mate tea, has exhorted his pastors to travel to far-flung peripheries to minister to the poor, as Brochero did on his trusty mule Malacara.

Argentinians, many waving flags, made the journey themselves to Rome to see Brochero elevated to sainthood, including Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his wife.

"Our saint, he took all that he had off in order to go ahead and in order to help people, in particular the poor ones, especially in the middle of mountains," said Patricia Elena Zabala, from Villa Gobernador Galvez in Argentina. "He went there with a mule. That's why he's represented riding a mule, going along villages and helping people."

Sun, 16 Oct 2016 09:34:59 CST 13358195 at
<![CDATA[Nations seek deal to reduce HFCs; could dent global warming]]> By BRADLEY KLAPPER / Associated Press

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Nations strove Friday for a deal to phase out hydrofluorocarbons from air conditioners and refrigerators as part of efforts to fight climate change. An agreement could put a half-degree Celsius dent in global warming by the end of the century, according to scientists.

At issue are greenhouse gases far more powerful than carbon dioxide. HFCs, as they're known, were introduced in the 1980s as a substitute for ozone-depleting gases. But their danger has grown as air conditioner and refrigerator sales have soared in emerging economies like China and India. HFCs are also found in inhalers and insulating foams.

Major economies were still debating how fast to phase out HFCs, but hoped to reach a compromise by the end of the day. The United States and Western countries want quick action. Nations such as India don't want to face reductions until possibly after 2030, giving their industries time to adjust.

Negotiators from dozens of governments are meeting in Rwanda, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leading the American delegation. An ambitious accord would be "the world's biggest climate protection achievement" since last year's pact in Paris to cut carbon emissions, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Kerry was noncommittal on the chances of an agreement.

"We're here to work for one," Kerry said Friday as he met with Zhai Qing, China's deputy environment minister. "We'll see what happens."

"We're making some progress," he said later, before meeting Pakistani negotiators.

Although less plentiful than carbon dioxide, HFCs are described as the world's fastest-growing climate pollutants. Kerry said last month they currently emit as much pollution as 300 coal-fired power plants each year. But that amount will rise significantly over the coming decades as air conditioning units and refrigerators reach hundreds of millions of new people.

HFCs don't harm the ozone layer like chlorofluorocarbons and similar gases that were eliminated under the 1987 Montreal Protocol. The entire world ratified that agreement, helping to repair holes in the ozone that helps shield the planet from the harmful rays of the sun. The aim of Friday's meeting is to attach an amendment to that treaty dealing specifically with HFCs.

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 11:00:22 CST 13355026 at
<![CDATA[Thai king's body at Grand Palace for people to pay respects]]> By Vijay Joshi and Natnicha Chuwiruch / Associated Press

BANGKOK -- Buddhist funeral ceremonies began Friday in Bangkok's Grand Palace complex for King Bhumibol Adulyadej before his body is displayed for people to pay respects to the monarch revered by many Thais as their father and a demigod.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, dressed in white military finery and a black armband, sat near orange-robed monks as they chanted in the high-ceilinged Phiman Rattaya palace. Once a residential building, the palace is now used as the main venue for state funerals.

Earlier, a royal convoy led by a van carrying Bhumibol's body and monks drove to the Grand Palace complex from Siriraj hospital, where the king died Thursday at age 88. The hospital had been his virtual home for years as doctors treated him for various illnesses afflicting his lungs, liver, kidneys, brain and blood.

The convoy drove the short distance across the Chao Phraya river to the sprawling royal complex, a major tourist attraction replete with resplendent palaces, museums and temples.

Thousands of people sat four to five rows deep on both sides of the road, sobbing openly and bowing deeply as the convoy passed. Most held portraits of the king in regal yellow robes. Some without portraits pulled currency notes from their wallets: all bank notes carry the king's face. Many had camped 24 hours since Thursday.

"I wanted to send off his majesty," said Nateimon Chitrakon, 39, standing on a bridge over the river. "He was the love of all Thais."

Those who were unable to get close watched the momentous event on television. At Bangkok's main railway station, a crowd gathered in front of a large public screen. Many wept as they watched the cortege drive slowly.

"I am a bit worried now he's not here," said Wilanya Keawnod, a student. "Past problems have been resolved smoothly because of him."

Railway authorities are expected to run more trains in the coming days to cope with the anticipated surge in travelers wanting to get to Bangkok to join in the mourning.

Most Thais had known no other king. Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch, had been on the throne for 70 years. His son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who is to ascend the throne, followed the king's body in a yellow Mercedes van. Accompanying Vajiralongkorn was his consort, Lt. Gen. Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhaya. Behind them were dozens of cars.

The body will lie at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaew, inside the Grand Palace complex for an undisclosed duration. No date has been set for the cremation.

Friday marked the first day in 70 years that Thailand has been without a king as Vajiralongkorn asked for more time to mourn with the rest of the nation before ascending the throne. The constitution says that in the absence of a king, the head of the Privy Council will become the regent, but it is vague about the situation in which the heir apparent hasn't taken over.

The government declared a public holiday and people across the shaken nation donned black, their eyes swollen and red with hours of weeping. Many were still sobbing — in building halls, elevators, shops — in spontaneous outbursts of emotion that reflected the deep love and respect Bhumibol commanded.

The momentous news of his death, announced in a palace statement, had long been both anticipated and feared. But the nation remained stable and life continued largely as usual with most shops, banks and tourist sites open.

A one-year mourning period for the government has been declared together with a 30-day moratorium on state and official events. But no demands have been made of the private sector. The government has only urged people to refrain from organizing entertainment events for a month, apparently mindful of the need to ensure that the sputtering economy does not suffer. Tourism is one of Thailand's biggest revenue earners, and entertainment remains an integral part of it.

The stock market and banks remained open, as did Thai embassies worldwide. After plunging for days, the Thai stock market opened higher, rising more than 4 percent in morning trading in a sign of renewed confidence.

Television channels were running non-stop programs devoted to the life of the king. Although a constitutional monarch, Bhumibol wielded enormous political power and served as a unifying figure during Thailand's numerous political crises.

But in recent years, he suffered from a variety of illnesses and remained publicly detached from recent political upheavals, including the 2014 coup that brought Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, an army general, to power.

"His death means that the Thai political system must find an alternative focal point around which to unite the country's factionalized population," said Tom Pepinsky, a Southeast Asia expert at Cornell University.

He said one challenge that royalists will face is the possibility that the monarchy's popularity would be undermined by the crowning of Vajiralongkorn, who does not command the same respect his father did.

Bhumibol Adulyadej (pronounced poo-mee-pon ah-dun-yaa-det) became king in 1946. He anchored the Southeast Asian country through violent upheavals at home and communist revolutions next door with a blend of majesty and a common touch.

So revered was Bhumibol that his portraits are displayed in virtually every Thai home and business, generally depicting him in arduous travels to remote villages, where he often went to see the situation of his subjects first hand.

But recently, whenever Bhumibol appeared in public, he was in a wheelchair, waving feebly at his subjects. Even those rare appearances stopped as he became confined to the hospital.

He died a little before 4 p.m. on Thursday, the palace said. It said he passed away peacefully.

"He is now in heaven and may be looking over Thai citizens from there," Prayuth said in a statement. "He was a king that was loved and adored by all. The reign of the king has ended and his kindness cannot be found anywhere else."

Besides Vajiralongkorn, the king is survived by his 84-year-old wife Sirikit who is also ailing and has rarely been seen in public in years. The couple has three daughters — Princess Sirindhorn, the most beloved royal after her father; Princess Ubolratana; and Princess Chulabhorn Walailak. Sirindhorn is unmarried, Ubolratana is divorced from her American husband and their two daughters live in the U.S., Chulabhorn is also divorced and has two daughters.

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 10:58:17 CST 13355024 at