Investigators dig for bomb motive, warn more could be found
WASHINGTON (AP) — Investigators searched coast-to-coast Thursday for the culprit and motives behind the bizarre mail-bomb plot aimed at critics of the president, analyzing the innards of the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply sow fear two weeks before Election Day.
Three more devices were linked to the plot — two addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden and one to actor Robert De Niro — bringing the total to 10 in an outbreak of politically loaded menace with little if any precedent. Authorities warned there might well be more.
Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged like booby-trapped package bombs that would explode upon opening. But they were still uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm. A search of a postal database suggested at least some may have been mailed from Florida, one official said. Investigators are homing in on a postal facility in Opa-locka, Florida, where they believe some of the packages originated, another official said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation by name.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in an interview Thursday night with Fox News Channel, acknowledged that some of packages originated in Florida.
A short-lived call for unity shelved for political barbs
WASHINGTON (AP) — It didn’t last.
With the country on edge over a widening pipe-bomb scare, talk of national unity quickly gave way to finger-pointing. President Donald Trump cast blame on the media for fomenting anger in society, while candidates across the country traded partisan broadsides.
Less than two weeks before midterm elections, the discovery of pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats — an episode that might have prompted national reflection in another era — hardly made a ripple on the campaign trail. Attack ads remained on the air. Attack lines stayed in stump speeches. The president did not deliver a speech from the Oval Office or reach out to his predecessor, one of the targets of the threat. He did return to his favorite punching bag.
“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
The reaction was more evidence of the new politics of the Trump era, where unity is overrated, a news cycle moves on fast and there seems to be little incentive for either party to seize the high road. Instead, what might have been a moment for a deeply divided country to come together becomes the latest fodder for Democrats and Republicans to blame each other for America’s shortcomings.
Saudi Arabia again changes its story on Khashoggi killing
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Signaling a major pivot in its narrative, Saudi Arabia on Thursday said evidence shows that the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was premeditated, an apparent effort to ease international outrage over the death of a prominent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Saudi prosecutors cited Turkish evidence that the slaying was planned, contradicting a Saudi assertion just days ago that rogue officials from the kingdom killed him by mistake in a brawl inside their Istanbul consulate. That earlier assertion, in turn, backtracked from an initial statement that Saudi authorities knew nothing about what happened to the columnist for The Washington Post, who vanished after entering the consulate Oct. 2.
The shifting explanations indicate Saudi Arabia is scrambling for a way out of the crisis that has enveloped the world’s largest oil exporter and a major U.S. ally in the Middle East. But a solution seems a long way off, partly because of deepening skepticism in Turkey and elsewhere that the brazen crime could have been carried out without the knowledge of Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s heir apparent.
At a conference in Riyadh on Wednesday, the crown prince said the killing was a “heinous crime that cannot be justified” and warned against any efforts to “manipulate” the crisis and drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which are regional rivals but also diplomatic and business partners.
On Thursday, Prince Mohammed attended the first meeting of a committee aiming to restructure the kingdom’s intelligence services after the killing of Khashoggi, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.
Typhoon crumbles homes, kills 1 in Northern Mariana Islands
The strongest storm to hit any part of the United States this year crumbled concrete houses, smashed cars and killed at least one person in the Northern Mariana Islands, shocking residents and officials used to riding out monster storms in the U.S. territory in the Pacific.
A day after Super Typhoon Yutu slammed into the territory home to 50,000 people, residents on Friday picked through destruction ranging from collapsed houses — including some built to withstand typhoon winds — to snapped utility poles blocking waterlogged roads. They braced for months without power or running water.
Maximum sustained winds of 180 mph (290 kph) were recorded around the eye of the storm, which passed over the islands of Tinian and Saipan early Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
A 44-year-old woman taking shelter in an abandoned building died when it collapsed in the storm, the governor’s office Facebook page said. Officials couldn’t immediately be reached for additional details.
The territory’s only hospital in Saipan, the most populated island, said it received 133 people in the emergency room Thursday, and three patients had severe injuries that needed surgery.
Mexican towns rally for migrants, who try to be good guests
MAPASTEPEC, Mexico (AP) — As long lines of migrants shuffled past his cheese shop Thursday on the far-distant journey north, Cesar Cabuqui was ready, handing out scores of homemade bean and cheese sandwiches and bags of water.
He was far from the only one moved to help the masses of women, men and children as they made their way on foot between the far southern Mexican towns of Mapastepec and Pijijiapan — a 30-mile trek.
“They are human beings,” Cabuqui said. “You have to do something to help them.”
Southern Mexico’s Chiapas state is home to some of the country’s most impoverished communities. Yet towns suddenly faced with an influx of thousands of people bedding down in overflowing plazas and parks have organized to offer them shelter, medical treatment and donations as best they can.
When an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 migrants walked into Mapastepec on Wednesday, the municipality of 45,000 residents was ready. They had been following the caravan’s progress for days.
Trump says new proposal will lower some US drug prices
WASHINGTON (AP) — Less than two weeks before the midterm elections, President Donald Trump on Thursday announced a plan to lower prices for some prescription drugs, saying it would stop unfair practices that force Americans to pay much more than people in other countries for the same medications.
“We are taking aim at the global freeloading that forces American consumers to subsidize lower prices in foreign countries through higher prices in our country,” Trump said in a speech at the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Same company. Same box. Same pill. Made in the exact same location, and you would go to some countries and it would be 20 percent of the cost of what we pay,” said Trump, who predicted the plan will save Americans billions. “We’re fixing it.”
But consumers take note:
— The plan would not apply to medicines people buy at the pharmacy, just ones administered in a doctor’s office, as are many cancer medications and drugs for immune system problems. Physician-administered drugs can be very expensive, but pharmacy drugs account for the vast majority of what consumers buy.
AP Investigation: Hospital patients held hostage for cash
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Kenyatta National Hospital is east Africa’s biggest medical institution, home to more than a dozen donor-funded projects with international partners — a “Center of Excellence,” says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The hospital’s website proudly proclaims its motto — “We Listen … We Care” — along with photos of smiling doctors, a vaccination campaign and staffers holding aloft a gold trophy at an awards ceremony.
But there are no pictures of Robert Wanyonyi, shot and paralyzed in a robbery more than a year ago. Kenyatta will not allow him to leave the hospital because he cannot pay his bill of nearly 4 million Kenyan shillings ($39,570). He is trapped in his fourth-floor bed, unable to go to India, where he believes doctors might help him.
EDITOR’S NOTE: First in a two-part series on hospitals that detain patients if they cannot pay their bills.
2 Yosemite National Park visitors die in fall from overlook
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two visitors died in a fall from a popular overlook at Yosemite National Park that allows people to walk to the cliff’s edge, where there is no railing, an official said Thursday.
Park rangers were trying to recover the bodies of a female visitor and a male visitor spotted by another tourist Wednesday, spokesman Scott Gediman said. Officials are still investigating when the pair fell and from what spot at Taft Point, which is 3,000 feet (900 meters) above the famed Yosemite Valley floor, he said.
Railings only exist at a small portion of the overlook, which is popular for its breathtaking views of the valley, Yosemite Falls and El Capitan and fissures on the granite rock that plunge to the valley floor.
More than 10 people have died at the park this year, some from natural causes and others from falls, Gediman said.
Last month, an Israeli teenager fell hundreds of feet to his death while hiking near the top of 600-foot-tall (180-meter-tall) Nevada Fall. The death of 18-year-old Tomer Frankfurter was considered an accident, the Mariposa County coroner’s office said.
Sex offender lurked for days before killing Utah student
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A sex offender parolee who killed a University of Utah student and track athlete had been lurking on campus for days trying to confront the woman who had broken up with him weeks earlier when she discovered his criminal background, authorities said Thursday.
Melvin Rowland, 37, spent the hours before the fatal shooting Monday in victim Lauren McCluskey’s dorm building socializing with her friends, university police chief Dale Brophy said.
He later confronted the 21-year-old McCluskey in the parking lot, dragged her into a car and shot her multiple times in the back seat, Brophy said at a news conference.
Rowland killed himself hours later in a church as police closed in.
The killing of McCluskey came weeks after she broke off her month-long relationship with Rowland and filed a complaint with campus police alleging he had demanded money in exchange for not posting compromising pictures of the couple online. She had sent $1,000 to an account in hopes of preserving her reputation, Brophy said.
James Karen, ‘Mr. Teague’ of ‘Poltergeist,’ is dead at 94
NEW YORK (AP) — James Karen, a prolific and beloved character actor whose hundreds of credits included memorable appearances in “Poltergeist” and “The Return of the Living Dead,” has died. He was 94.
Karen’s friend Bruce Goldstein told The Associated Press that he died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He had been battling respiratory ailments.
Few actors had so long and diverse a career. He appeared in Elia Kazan’s 1940s stage production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which starred Marlon Brando. He befriended Buster Keaton in the 1950s and had a brief role in one of the silent star’s most unusual projects, “Film,” an experimental short written by Samuel Beckett.
He met Marilyn Monroe at the Actors Studio in New York and filmed a commercial with the Three Stooges. He was directed by Oliver Stone in “Wall Street” and David Lynch in “Mulholland Drive.” His TV credits ranged from “Dallas” and “The Waltons” to “Seinfeld” and “The Larry Sanders Show.”
Millions knew him as the friendly man with the glasses in TV ads for Pathmark. Others remembered him as the foreman in “Return of the Living Dead,” the boss in “The China Syndrome” or the notorious Mr. Teague, the real estate developer who moves the headstones — but not the bodies — in “Poltergeist.”
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