High-stakes gamble: Iranian envoy gets surprise G-7 invite
BIARRITZ, France (AP) — A top Iranian official paid an unannounced visit Sunday to the G-7 summit and headed straight toward the heart of the city where leaders of the world’s major democracies have been debating how to handle the country’s nuclear ambitions.
France’s surprise invitation of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was a high-stakes gamble for French President Emmanuel Macron, who is the host of the Group of Seven gathering in Biarritz.
Zarif spent about five hours in Biarritz after his plane touched down at the airport, which has been closed since Friday to all flights unrelated to the official G-7 delegations.
A senior French official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks, said Macron personally informed U.S. President Donald Trump about the invitation to Zarif.
The official noted that Macron and Trump met for two hours Saturday and discussed Iran at length, as well as at the informal group dinner Saturday night.
Trump sends mixed messages to China on trade war
BIARRITZ, France (AP) — Injecting fresh uncertainty at a time of global economic jitters, President Donald Trump sent mixed messages Sunday on the U.S.-China trade war as leaders at a global summit pushed the unpredictable American president to ease frictions over tariffs and cooperate on other geopolitical challenges.
Trump’s head-snapping comments at the Group of Seven summit about his escalating trade fight with China — first expressing regret, then amping up tariff threats — represented just the latest manifestation of the hazards of the president’s go-it-alone mantra. Allies fault his turbulent trade agenda for contributing to a global economic slowdown.
Despite Trump’s insistence that reports of U.S. tensions with allies are overblown, fissures between the U.S. and six of the world’s other advanced economies were apparent on trade policy, Russia and Iran as the leaders gathered at a picturesque French beach resort.
Two days after the U.S. and China traded a fresh round of retaliatory tariffs and Trump threatened to force U.S. businesses to cut ties with China, the president appeared to harbor qualms about the trade war, which has sent financial markets tumbling.
Asked during a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson if he had any second thoughts about escalating the trade conflict, Trump told reporters, “Yeah. For sure.”
Hong Kong police draw guns, arrest 36 from latest protest
HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong police drew their guns and fired a warning shot after protesters attacked officers with sticks and rods, and brought out water cannon trucks for the first time, in an escalation in the summerlong protests that have shaken the city’s government and residents.
Sunday’s main showdown took place on a major drag in the outlying Tsuen Wan district following a protest march that ended in a nearby park. While a large crowd rallied in the park, a group of hard-line protesters took over a main street, strewing bamboo poles on the pavement and lining up orange and white traffic barriers and cones to obstruct police.
After hoisting warning flags, police used tear gas to try to disperse the crowd. Protesters responded by throwing bricks and gasoline bombs toward the police. The result was a surreal scene of small fires and scattered paving bricks on the street between the two sides, rising clouds of tear gas and green and blue laser lights pointed by the protesters at the police.
The protesters eventually decided to abandon their position. Two water cannon trucks and a phalanx of police vehicles with flashing lights joined riot police on foot as they advanced up the street. They met little resistance. Television footage showed a water cannon being fired once, but perhaps more as a test, as it didn’t appear to reach the retreating protesters.
Officers pulled their guns after a group of remaining protesters chased them down a street with sticks and rods, calling them “gangsters.” The officers held up their shields to defend themselves as they retreated. Police said that one officer fell to the ground and six drew their pistols after they were surrounded, with one firing the warning shot.
US exports to lobster-loving China go off cliff amid tariffs
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — U.S. lobster exports to China have fallen off a cliff this year as new retaliatory tariffs shift the seafood business farther north.
China, a huge and growing customer for lobster, placed heavy tariffs on U.S. lobsters — and many other food products — in July 2018 amid rising trade hostilities between the Chinese and the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, business is booming in Canada, where cargo planes are coming to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick, to handle a growing bump in exports. Canadian fishermen catch the same species of lobster as American lobstermen, who are based mostly in Maine.
The loss of business has brought layoffs to some Maine businesses, such as The Lobster Co., of Arundel, where owner Stephanie Nadeau has laid off half the 14 people she once had working in wholesale.
“They picked winners, and they picked losers, and they picked me a loser,” Nadeau said. “There is no market that’s going to replace China.”
Asian shares tumble as US-China trade war renews uncertainty
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares tumbled Monday after the latest escalation in the U.S.-China trade war renewed uncertainties about global economies, as well as questions over what President Donald Trump might say next.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 started plummeting as soon as trading began and stood at 20,234.87 in the morning session, down 2.3%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 1.5% to 6,427.20. South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.7% to 1,916.14. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 3.3% to 25,309.37, while the Shanghai Composite was down 1.2% at 2,862.87.
Stephen Innes, managing partner at Valour Markets in Singapore, compared the difficulty of assessing the volatile market situation to reading tea leaves.
“Nobody understands where the president is coming from,” he said, adding that the best thing Trump can do for market stability is to “keep quiet.”
“The problem that we’re faced right now is that we are making a lot of assumptions ahead of the economic realities.”
Drone war takes flight, raising stakes in Iran, US tensions
From the vast deserts of Saudi Arabia to the crowded neighborhoods of Beirut, a drone war has taken flight across the wider Middle East, raising the stakes in the ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
Since the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last year, there has been an increasing tempo of attacks and alleged threats, notably this weekend, from unmanned aircraft flown by Tehran’s and Washington’s allies in the region.
The appeal of the aircraft — they risk no pilots and can be small enough to evade air-defense systems — fueled their rapid use amid the maximum pressure campaigns of Iran and the U.S. As these strikes become more frequent, the risk of unwanted escalation becomes greater.
The U.S. military nearly launched airstrikes against Iran after a U.S. military surveillance drone was shot down in June. Meanwhile, Israeli fighter jets attack targets in Syria on an almost weekly basis, including on Saturday night. Israel’s reason for the latest bombing: To thwart what it called a planned Iranian drone strike.
Israeli aircraft then buzzed over Beirut on Sunday after allegedly losing two drones hours earlier, raising the risk of a wider conflict between it and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. On Sunday evening, another drone strike hit an Iran-backed paramilitary force in Iraq, killing one commander and wounding another, members of the group said. It was not immediately clear who carried out the strike.
Tropical Storm Dorian strengthens as it moves west
MIAMI (AP) — Forecasters say the fourth tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is maintaining its strength as it moves toward the Windward Islands.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Sunday that Tropical Storm Dorian could intensify to near hurricane strength over the eastern Caribbean Sea by Tuesday.
As of 8 p.m. EDT Sunday, Dorian’s center was located about 335 miles (540 kilometers) east-southeast of Barbados and was moving west at 14 mph (23 kph). Maximum sustained winds are at 50 mph (85 kph).
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm watch was issued for Grenada and Martinique.
Forecasters say Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Virgin Islands should monitor Dorian’s progress.
G7 leaders vow to help Brazil fight fires, repair damage
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Leaders of the Group of Seven nations said Sunday they are preparing to help Brazil battle fires burning across the Amazon region and repair the damage as tens of thousands of soldiers got ready to join the fight against blazes that have caused global alarm.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the summit leaders were nearing an agreement on how to support Brazil and said the agreement would involve both technical and financial mechanisms “so that we can help them in the most effective way possible.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country and others will talk with Brazil about reforestation in the Amazon once fires there have been extinguished.
“Of course (this is) Brazilian territory, but we have a question here of the rainforests that is really a global question,” she said. “The lung of our whole Earth is affected, and so we must find common solutions.”
Pope Francis also added his voice to the chorus of concern over the fires in Brazil, which borders his homeland of Argentina, and urged people to pray so that “they are controlled as quickly as possible.” He told a crowd in St. Peter’s Square that “we’re all worried” about the Amazon fires. He warned that that green “lung of forest is vital for our planet.”
Employees of Big Tech are speaking out like never before
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — When Liz O’Sullivan was hired at the New York City-based artificial intelligence company Clarifai in 2017, she felt lucky to find work at the intersection of two of her main interests: technology and ethics. Two years later, she found herself facing a moral dilemma.
Clarifai was developing aerial photography and object detection tools as one of several companies working on Project Maven, a Pentagon drone surveillance program. After several conversations with friends and colleagues, O’Sullivan realized this type of technology eventually could be used for autonomous weapons.
In January, she wrote to Clarifai CEO Matt Zeiler on behalf of a group of employees, seeking clarification on whether the technology would be used to create weapons and asking him to commit to a series of ethical measures. Zeiler later explained at a meeting that Clarifai likely would provide tech for autonomous weapons. O’Sullivan quit the next day.
“I was very surprised and had to follow my conscience,” she said. Zeiler and Clarifai didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press, though Zeiler has previously said the company’s Project Maven involvement aligns with its mission of accelerating human progress with continually improving AI.
O’Sullivan, 34, considers herself part of a “growing backlash against unethical tech,” a groundswell in the past two years in which U.S. tech employees have tried to remake the industry from the inside out — pushing for more control over how their work is used and urging better conditions, job security and wages for affiliated workers.
Hawaii or Spain? Telescope experts say it may not matter
HONOLULU (AP) — When starlight from billions of years ago zips across the universe and finally comes into focus on Earth, astronomers want their telescopes to be in the best locations possible to see what’s out there.
Despite years of legal battles and months of protests by Native Hawaiian opponents, the international coalition that wants to build the world’s largest telescope in Hawaii insists that the islands’ highest peak — Mauna Kea — is the best place for their $1.4 billion instrument.
But just barely.
Thirty Meter Telescope officials acknowledge that their backup site atop a peak on the Spanish Canary island of La Palma is a comparable observatory location, and that it wouldn’t cost more money or take extra time to build it there.
There’s also no significant opposition to putting the telescope on La Palma like there is in Hawaii, where some Native Hawaiians consider the mountain sacred and have blocked trucks from hauling construction equipment to Mauna Kea’s summit for more than a month.
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