US and World News

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Barack and Michelle Obama are expected to attend a celebratory groundbreaking on Chicago's South Side for the Obama Presidential Center. Tuesday's event follows years of legal battles, concerns about gentrification and a federal review. Construction officially began last month in Jackson Park along Lake Michigan. Barack Obama told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in an interview broadcast Tuesday that he hopes the center will bring an economic boost to Chicago’s South Side and inspire the area’s young people. The site is near the Obama family home and where the former president started his political career. The roughly $830 million center will feature a museum, public library branch and children’s play area. The groundbreaking will be streamed online to limit crowds amid the pandemic. Read more

The OPEC cartel is laying out the future of oil _ and saying crude will still be the world's leading source of energy for decades to come. The Vienna-based organization said that it inherently supports efforts to reduce the amount of carbon from fossil fuels used in the energy mix. And it says energy use in rich countries will likely decline due to increasing efficiency, lower growth and aging populations. But growing populations and new middle classes in the rest of the world will demand more energy. It cautions that governments' ambitious plans to reduce fossil fuel emissions remain just that _ plans.  Read more

The authoritarian leader of Belarus has announced a referendum on a new constitution to be held in February 2022 and promised not to let the opposition come to power. President Alexander Lukashenko told a government meeting Tuesday he had drafted a new constitution that redistributes powers between the main branches of the government and establishes a new governing body — the All-Belarus People’s Assembly. Lukashenko has said earlier that he would step down as president — a post he has occupied for over a quarter century — once the new constitution is adopted. But in recent months he has stopped mentioning that. The opposition and the West say the August 2020 presidential vote that kept him in office was a sham.  Read more

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A panel commissioned by the World Health Organization has identified more than 80 alleged cases of sex abuse during the U.N. health agency’s response to an Ebola outbreak in Congo. The cases include allegations implicating 20 WHO staff members. The panel released its findings on Tuesday, months after an Associated Press investigation found senior WHO management was informed of multiple abuse claims in 2019 but failed to stop the harassment and even promoted one of the managers involved.  WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appointed the panel’s co-chairs to investigate the claims last October, after media reports claimed unnamed humanitarian officials sexually abused women during the Ebola outbreak that began in Congo in 2018.  Read more

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The European Council has approved a 5 billion-euro ($5.8 billion) reserve aimed at helping EU businesses tackle the short-term effects of Brexit. The council represents the national government of every EU member nation. It said on Tuesday that the reserve money will cover extra costs and compensate the losses from the U.K.’s withdrawal from the 27-nation trade bloc. Britain’s departure has affected many parts of the EU economy, with the fishing sector particularly at risk. EU fisheries face a 25% reduction of their catch value from UK waters, according to the bloc’s executive commission. Despite a trade deal struck in December to ensure tariff-free trade, Britain’s trade with the EU has fallen sharply.  Read more

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A 911 call over the weekend about an Amtrak train that derailed in rural Montana, killing three people and injuring dozens of others, set off a chain reaction of help from residents in nearby towns. People jumped into action to get passengers off the train and care for those who were stunned and had suffered bumps, bruises and other less serious injuries. The regional response of volunteer emergency responders, firefighters, law enforcement, medical providers and regular citizens all working together to help embodied the spirit of a rural part of Montana near the Canadian border. Investigators still don’t know what caused the crash. Read more

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A rusty and overloaded fishing boat carrying 686 migrants has arrived at an Italian island port. It's the biggest single arrival in Italy in years, since most migrants cross the Mediterranean in smaller flimsy vessels and are rescued at sea. Italian coast guard ships escorted the boat to port at Lampedusa in Sicily late Monday. Most of those onboard were young men. Lampedusa is an island closer to Africa than the Italian mainland and is one of the main destinations for migrant smugglers. The passengers disembarked and were taken to a reception center where they were to be processed. Recently Italy began a program to vaccinate newly arrived migrants in Lampedusa against COVID-19. Read more

A defense lawyer says a man charged with the murder of a 28-year-old school teacher in London plans to plead not guilty. Delivery driver Koci Selamaj is accused of killing Sabina Nessa, who disappeared while walking to meet a friend at a pub a few minutes from her home in southeast London on Sept. 17. Nessa’s body was found in a local park the next day. Her killing has renewed concerns that women aren’t safe on the streets of Britain’s capital. Selamaj made his first court appearance Tuesday at Willesden Magistrates’ Court in London. His lawyer, Aiden Harvey, told the court his client intended to plead not guilty. The court remanded Selamaj into custody. Read more

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Lava flowing from an erupting volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma has picked up its pace on its way to the sea. Officials say it is now within 800 meters (875 yards) of the shoreline. The island now has two rivers of lava flowing downhill. While one has slowed, the other was hotter and more fluid. That one was bearing down on a small town Tuesday. For days, officials have been nervously awaiting the time when the lava reaches the Atlantic Ocean, but the eruption has been erratic. After calming down on Monday, the volcano became more explosive again overnight. When the molten rock eventually meets the sea, it could trigger explosions and toxic gases. Read more

Oprah Winfrey’s new book club pick is Richard Powers’ “Bewilderment.” It's his first novel since the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Overstory.” “Bewilderment” is already on the fiction longlist for the National Book Awards. The 64-year-old Powers' other books include “Orfeo” and “The Echo Maker," which won the National Book Award in 2006. Powers said in a statement that he is honored and moved to be named an “Oprah Book Club” selection. Winfrey’s interview with Powers will air October 22 on Apple TV Plus. Powers writes often about science, technology and the environment. “Bewilderment,” which was published last week, centers on a widowed astrobiologist. Read more

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Accusers and others demanding accountability for R&B superstar R. Kelly over allegations that he was abusing young women and girls for decades say it took so long to get to a guilty verdict in part because his targets were Black. Kelly was convicted Monday in his sex trafficking trial. Those who work against sexual violence say Black women and girls who want to speak out face a society that hypersexualizes them from a young age. Monday’s conviction came after several weeks of disturbing testimony and now carries the possibility that Kelly will spend decades in prison. Read more

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The European Union's home affairs commissioner says the 27-member bloc stands firm on its regime of sanctions against Belarus' authoritarian president who's “pushing" migrants into the EU out of “desperation." EU commissioner Ylva  Johansson said Tuesday that President Alexander Lukashenko “can't really deal” with the sanctions and is bringing migrants into his country “for the only purpose" of sending them into the EU in retaliation. Johannson said after talks on Tuesday with Cypriot Interior Minister Nicos Nouris that Lukashenkno “is not a partner we are ready to cooperate with.” Poland and Lithuania have been receiving an unusual number of Middle Eastern and African migrants and refugees arriving from neighboring Belarus in recent months. Read more

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Japanese automaker Toyota is revving up acquisitions in mobility technology, adding Renovo Motors, a Silicon Valley software developer, to its Woven Planet team, which is working on automated driving. Earlier, Toyota bought CARMERA Inc., a U.S. venture that specializes in sophisticated road mapping updates. It has not disclosed the value of either deal. Renovo develops automotive operating systems. Toyota sees that as essential for developing programmed vehicles so it can transition to “a mobility company” that includes more than just cars. Renovo means “new life” in Latin.  Woven Planet is Toyota’s wholly owned subsidiary.  Read more

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Police suspect an apartment building explosion in Sweden's second-largest city might have been caused by a device of some kind. The explosion took place just before 5 a.m. Tuesday in central Goteborg. A hospital spokesperson said 16 people were brought in for treatment, including four with serious injuries. A police spokesperson tells Swedish broadcaster TV4 that investigators think foul play may have been involved. They suspect someone put a device in or outside the building. Police are looking into whether any tenants were being targeted. A building resident told the daily newspaper Goteborg Tidning Hulten he saw desperate people who “hung from balconies, climbing over balconies. There was one who fell." Read more

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Japan’s government says the coronavirus state of emergency will end Thursday to help rejuvenate the economy as infections slow. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that virus restrictions will be eased gradually. With the lifting, Japan will be free of emergency requirements for the first time in more than six months. The current state of emergency, declared in April, was repeatedly extended and expanded. Despite public weariness and frustration over the measures, Japan has managed to avoid the more restrictive lockdowns imposed elsewhere while recording about 1.69 million cases and 17,500 deaths from COVID-19. Read more

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France and Greece have announced a defense deal worth around 3 billion euros ($3.5 billion) including Athens’ decision to buy three French warships. This is part of a strategy to boost Greek defense capacities in the Eastern Mediterranean amid recurring tensions with longtime foe Turkey. French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a defense and security strategic partnership in a joint news conference in Paris on Tuesday. Greece will purchase three French frigates to be built by defense contractor Naval Group. The deal includes an option for the acquisition of a fourth frigate. The announcement comes at a key time for France after the loss this month of a $66 billion deal this month to sell diesel-electric submarines to Australia. Read more

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MOSCOW — Coronavirus confirmed deaths in Russia hit another record at 852 on Tuesday. Read more

There is a gathering at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum of people from around Europe depicted in more than 100 Renaissance portraits as COVID-19 lockdowns ease and borders reopen. The Dutch national museum’s new exhibition “Remember Me” covers the century 1470-1570. It features portraits from across the continent by masters including Albrecht Duerer, Hans Holbein and Titian that underscore humanity’s enduring desire to be remembered. It also shows the lengths artists went to to portray people, their wealth, jobs, power and love for one another.  The museum’s general director said Tuesday the exhibition has been in the works since before the global pandemic swept the world last year. He said that the wish to be remembered is something that felt more pressing than ever amid lockdowns. Read more

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Pressure is growing for a quick start to talks on Germany’s next government as newly elected lawmakers hold their first meetings and tensions simmer in outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bloc, which declined to its worst-ever result in the country's election. The narrow winners of Sunday’s parliamentary election, the center-left Social Democrats of Olaf Scholz, on Tuesday underlined their hopes of a quick start to talks with the likely kingmakers in a new government. And several prominent figures in Merkel’s Union bloc questioned an initial push by election loser Armin Laschet to lead a new administration.  Read more

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Republican senators have blocked a bill to keep the U.S. government funded and allow borrowing. But Democrats determined to avoid a federal shutdown say they will try again this week. All this as Democrats also press ahead on President Joe Biden’s big domestic policy agenda. The tangled efforts Monday are not necessarily linked. But the fiscal year-end deadline to fund government operations past Thursday is up against the Democrats’ desire to make progress on Biden’s $3.5 trillion federal government overhaul. Republicans reject Biden's package as too big. And they won't vote for more borrowing to pay past debts. Read more

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Hurricane Sam has strengthened again to a powerful Category 4 storm. It's centered well offshore in the Atlantic Ocean but could still send dangerous swells and rip currents later this week to the Bahamas, Bermuda and eventually the northeastern U.S. coast. Sam is located about 610 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands and is traveling northwest at 9 mph. The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said top sustained winds rose again to 130 mph, making it a Category 4 hurricane. Forecasters expect it to remain a major hurricane through late this week as it turns northward on a track that would keep its center well offshore. Read more

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A Texas inmate is facing execution for fatally stabbing two Houston-area brothers during a robbery in their home more than 30 years ago. Rick Rhoades was condemned for the September 1991 killings of 31-year-old Charles Allen and 33-year-old Bradley Allen. The brothers were killed less than a day after Rhoades had been released on parole after serving a sentence for burglary. He is set to be executed by lethal injection Tuesday evening at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. Rhoades’ attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution. They are arguing Rhoades' constitutional right to due process is being violated because he's being prevented from pursuing claims some potential jurors might have been dismissed for racially discriminatory reasons. Rhoades is white. Read more

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Bowing — if only for a moment — to pressure from lawmakers, critics, the media and child development experts, Facebook said Monday it will “pause" its work on a kids' version of its photo-oriented Instagram app. The move follows an explosive report by The Wall Street Journal showing that Facebook knew from its own research that Instagram was harming some teems, especially girls, affecting their mental health and body image issues and in some cases leading to eating disorders and suicidal thoughts. In public, though, Facebook has consistently played down the app's negative side and until now has barreled ahead with the kids' version. Read more

French President Emmanuel Macron says Europeans must boost their defense plans and make themselves “respected,” as France opens talks with the United States to try to restore confidence after a submarine dispute led to a major diplomatic crisis. Macron said Tuesday that “Europeans must come out of their naivety." It was the first time he had spoken about the new Indo-Pacific defense deal announced this month by the U.S., Australia and Britain. As part of the pact, Australia will cancel a multibillion-dollar contract to buy diesel-electric French submarines and acquire U.S. nuclear-powered vessels instead. In an unprecedented move, France recalled its ambassador to the U.S. in response. Read more

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Nearly nine months have passed since the riot at the U.S. Capitol, and federal agents have arrested more than 600 people across the country believed to have joined in the Jan. 6 attack. Getting those cases swiftly to trial is turning out to be an even more difficult task. Investigators have collected a mountain of evidence and are working to organize it and share it with defense attorneys. And that mountain keeps growing with new arrests still happening practically every week. Meanwhile, Washington’s federal court is clogged with Jan. 6 cases. A further complication is limitations on trials because of the coronavirus pandemic. Read more

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President Joe Biden is nominating nine lawyers to run U.S. attorney’s offices across the country. It's a diverse group of candidates in the latest round of picks for the top law enforcement positions. The nominations are announced by the White House on Tuesday. The nominees are expected to run the federal prosecutors’ offices in Hawaii, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Colorado, Ohio, Vermont and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The slate would include several historic firsts, including the first Black female attorneys to lead their districts. The Justice Department’s 93 U.S. attorneys are responsible for federal criminal prosecutions in their respective districts and are central to Biden's efforts to combat violent crime. Read more

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Global shares are mostly lower as concerns about China chip away at investor optimism. Benchmarks fell in Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo but rose in Hong Kong and Shanghai. U.S. futures are also down. A power crunch in some areas of China has shut down factories and left some households without electricity under an effort to meet official energy use targets. Another lingering market is the possible collapse of one of China’s biggest real estate developers Evergrande. Investors were taking a wait-and-see stance in Tokyo ahead of Wednesday's vote for the leader of Japan’s ruling party.   Read more

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A military drone whose manufacturer says it can cruise for 20 hours at 15,000 meters (50,000 feet) is among Chinese warplanes, missiles and other weapons technology shown in public for the first time at the country’s biggest air show. An official newspaper said the Chinese space program planned to unveil a rocket for crewed space flight capable of carrying a 25-ton payload to lunar orbit at the 13th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition. The ruling Communist Party is pouring billions of dollars into developing fighter jets, stealth technology, drones and other hardware for its military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, as it presses claims to disputed seas and other territory. Read more

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As Europe’s economic powerhouse Germany embarks on the task of piecing together a new ruling coalition after Sunday’s knife-edge election, observers need only look to its neighbors, Belgium and the Netherlands, to see how tricky the process can be. Parties in the Netherlands have been negotiating on and off for more than six months since an election in March and still no coalition is in sight. Across the border in Belgium, Alexander De Croo’s government was formed a year ago, ending almost 500 days of talks, caretaker cabinets and a minority coalition to see the country through the start of the COVID pandemic. And after four inconclusive elections in two years, Israel’s current eight-party government is unlike anything seen before. Read more

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North Korea fired a short-range missile into the sea at nearly the same moment its U.N. diplomat was decrying the U.S.’s “hostile policy” against it. The actions were an apparent return to its pattern of mixing weapons displays with peace overtures to wrest concessions. The launch early Tuesday was its third round of weapons firings this month and came only three days after North Korea repeated its offer for conditional talks with South Korea. Some experts say the latest missile launch was likely meant to test how South Korea would respond as North Korea needs Seoul to persuade Washington to ease economic sanctions and make other concessions. Read more