Over 7K-strong, migrant caravan pushes on; still far from US
TAPACHULA, Mexico (AP) — Thousands of Central American migrants resumed an arduous trek toward the U.S. border Monday, with many bristling at suggestions there could be terrorists among them and saying the caravan is being used for political ends by U.S. President Donald Trump.
The caravan’s numbers have continued to grow as they walk and hitch rides through hot and humid weather, and the United Nations estimated that it currently comprises some 7,200 people, “many of whom intend to continue the march north.”
However, they were still at least 1,140 miles (1,830 kilometers) from the nearest border crossing — McAllen, Texas — and the length of their journey could more than double if they go to Tijuana-San Diego, the destination of another caravan earlier this year. That one shrank significantly as it moved through Mexico, and only a tiny fraction — about 200 of the 1,200 in the group — reached the California border.
The same could well happen this time around as some turn back, splinter off on their own or decide to take their chances on asylum in Mexico — as 1,128 have done so far, according to the country’s Interior Department.
While such caravans have occurred semi-regularly over the years, this one has become a particularly hot topic ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections in the U.S., and an immigrant rights activist traveling with the group accused Trump of using it to stir up his Republican base.
Trump blasts caravan, says he’s cutting Central American aid
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared Monday the U.S. will begin cutting aid to three Central American countries he accused of failing to stop thousands of migrants heading for the U.S. border. But across his administration there was no indication of any action in response to what he tweeted was a “National Emergy.”
For hours on Monday, White House officials were unable to provide an explanation for the president’s threats, which reflected both his apparent frustration with the migrant caravan and his determination to transform it into Republican election gains. Federal agencies said they’d received no guidance on the president’s declaration, issued as he attempts to make illegal immigration a focus of next month’s midterm elections.
If Trump should follow through with his threat to end or greatly reduce U.S. aid, that could worsen the poverty and violence that are a root cause of the migration he has been railing against, critics said.
Trump tweeted, “Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States.” He added without evidence that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in.”
“I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy,” he wrote. “Must change laws!”
Trump ‘not satisfied’ with explanations of Khashoggi death
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Monday he’s not satisfied with the explanations he’s heard about the death of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi and is awaiting reports from U.S. personnel returning from the region.
Khashoggi, who lived in the United States and wrote critically about the Saudi royal family, died earlier this month at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia said he was killed in a fistfight, but Turkish officials said the 59-year-old Washington Post columnist was attacked and killed by a 15-man Saudi team.
Asked if he believed Saudi Arabia’s explanation, Trump said, “I am not satisfied with what I’ve heard.”
“We’re going to get to the bottom of it. We have people over in Saudi Arabia now. We have top intelligence people in Turkey. They’re coming back either tonight or tomorrow,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before leaving for a political rally in Texas.
“We’re going to know a lot over the next two days about the Saudi situation,” said Trump. “It’s a very sad thing.”
Category 4 Hurricane Willa threatens Mexico’s Pacific coast
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A potential catastrophic Hurricane Willa swept toward Mexico’s Pacific coast with winds of 145 mph (230 kph) Monday night, threatening a stretch of high-rise resort hotels, surfing beaches and fishing villages.
Farther south, Mexican officials reported 12 deaths related to heavy rains from Tropical Storm Vicente.
After briefly reaching Category 5 strength, Willa’s maximum sustained winds weakened some. But it remained “extremely dangerous” and was forecast to bring “life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall” to parts of west-central and southwestern Mexico ahead of an expected Tuesday landfall, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Hotel workers started taping up windows, and officials began evacuating people and shuttered schools in a low-lying landscape where towns sit amid farmland tucked between the sea and lagoons. A decree of “extraordinary emergency” was issued for 19 municipalities in Nayarit and Sinaloa states, the federal Interior Department announced.
Officials said 7,000 to 8,000 people were being evacuated from low-lying areas, mostly in Sinaloa state.
Trump escalates immigration rhetoric at rally to boost Cruz
HOUSTON (AP) — President Donald Trump escalated his immigration rhetoric at a midterm rally in Texas on Monday, falsely accusing Democrats of “encouraging millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders and overwhelm our nation.”
With weeks to go before Election Day, Trump is seeking to drive Republican turnout with his hard-line immigration policies. He cast the November choice in stark terms before the Houston rally for Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, saying Democrats “have launched an assault on the sovereignty of our country.”
Trump spoke before a massive crowd on behalf of his former foe, who faces a strong challenge from Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke. When the two competed in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Trump would frequently deride his rival as “Lyin’ Ted” but said in Texas that their relationship had come a long way.
“Nobody has helped me more with your tax cut, with your regulation,” Trump said, also attacking O’Rourke, as a “stone-cold phony.”
With the midterms drawing near, Trump has emphasized immigration, targeting a migrant caravan heading to the U.S. southern border. The president’s focus on immigration politics comes as he seeks to counter Democratic enthusiasm in November. Trump believes that his campaign pledges, including his much vaunted — and still-unfulfilled — promise to quickly build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, are still rallying cries.
$1.6B Mega Millions prize due to simple math, some surprises
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — For all the anticipation about whether someone will finally snag the gigantic Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots, the games come down to two things: simple math — and very long odds.
But there are some quirks and surprises about the math equations that likely will soon vault someone into stratospheric wealth after the jackpots grew for months without a winner.
WHAT ARE THE JACKPOTS?
The biggest quirk starts with this fact: The advertised $1.6 billion Mega Millions prize — the world’s largest ever lottery jackpot — and $620 million Powerball prize aren’t quite real. That is, those are the amount you’d be paid if you chose an annuity, doled out over 29 years. Nearly every winner opts for cash, which is the amount of money the lottery folks actually have in the bank ready to pay out to the company that would fund the annuity.
The cash option is still massive, at $904 million for Mega Millions and $354.3 million for Powerball. But those numbers aren’t splayed across billboards and shown in countless mini marts across America.
US general visits troops fighting Islamic State in Syria
AL-TANF, Syria (AP) — The top U.S. commander for the Middle East made an unannounced visit Monday to a key military outpost in southern Syria, pressing the need for a continued U.S. presence there to root out remaining Islamic State fighters and serve as leverage against growing Iranian activity in the region.
Striding through the rocky and dusty al-Tanf garrison, Army Gen. Joseph Votel said the outpost near the Iraq and Jordan borders still serves an important purpose even though U.S. and coalition troops have “largely eliminated” the Islamic State group from the area. But he said the overall mission has not shifted into a counter-Iran campaign.
“We have a defeat ISIS mission,” said Votel, referring to the Islamic State group. “But I do recognize that our presence, our development of partners and relationships down here does have an indirect effect on some of the malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue down here.”
An Associated Press reporter and journalists from two other media organizations accompanied Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, to the garrison. It was the first time that media members gained access to the garrison, which opened in 2015. For security reasons, his visit couldn’t be disclosed until after he left the country.
Votel’s visit to the base underscored the dual role it plays because of its strategic location.
CNN’s Jim Acosta calls for Trump to halt media attacks
NEW YORK (AP) — CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, whose network is a frequent target of President Donald Trump’s “fake news” barbs, called on him Monday to stop attacking the media because he’s afraid someone will get hurt.
The past week may have signaled a turning point in journalists fighting back against Trump’s attacks, with the White House Correspondents Association issuing a statement condemning him for praising a Montana congressman who body-slammed a reporter last year during a successful congressional campaign.
Acosta, Maggie Haberman and WHCA President Olivier Knox talked about the personal toll the words have taken during a panel Monday at CNN’s “Citizen” conference. Knox said the day after Trump referred to some news organizations as enemies of the people, his child came to him in tears and asked if he was going to prison.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump has been advised that his words against the media have an impact, but “he doesn’t seem to care,” said Haberman, who covered Trump as a New York real estate baron and now in the White House. A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, also said that he was glad Trump broke an agreement to keep a conversation the two men had off the record because it revealed publicly that he had made the same point to the president.
Amy Schumer took long way around to announce she’s pregnant
Amy Schumer took the long way around to announce she’s pregnant with husband Chris Fischer.
The comedian and actress broke her baby news Monday on the Instagram stories of friend and journalist Jessica Yellin . Yellin, of the site NewsNotNoise.org, showed at the end of a list of Schumer’s recommended congressional and gubernatorial candidates the line: “I’m pregnant-Amy Schumer.”
Schumer is known for her liberal politics: She was recently arrested protesting the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 37-year-old made her film debut in the 2015 film “Trainwreck.” She starred this year in the movie “I Feel Pretty.” Schumer married Fischer, a chef, in February.
World Series Game 1 to be cold one for Dodgers, Red Sox
BOSTON (AP) — Hooting and hollering, Chris Taylor and a couple of Dodgers took aim at the Green Monster. With their arms, not bats.
Standing in left field, they kept throwing balls at a small, square space in the scoreboard, shouting every time a miss clanged off the metal letters.
“I’ve got good aim!” Taylor shouted after he finally tossed one through, ending the contest Monday.
A lot of fun for Los Angeles, frolicking at Fenway Park during a World Series workout.
Might not look, sound and feel so friendly come Game 1 on Tuesday night.
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