South Korea begins removing mines, expects North to do same
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Seoul says South Korea has begun clearing mines from two sites inside the heavily fortified border with North Korea under a package of tension-reduction deal between the rivals.
Seoul’s Defense Ministry says North Korea is expected to do the same on Monday.
Ministry officials say South Korean troops entered the Demilitarized Zone on Monday morning to remove mines around the border village of Panmunjom and another frontline area where they plan their first joint searches with North Korea for soldiers during the 1950-53 Korean War.
The Koreas’ militaries agreed on a range of deals aimed at lowering their decades-long military animosities on the sidelines of a summit between their leaders in Pyongyang.
The move comes amid renewed international diplomacy on North Korea’s nuclear program.
FBI interviews accuser; Yale friend remembers heavy drinker
WASHINGTON (AP) – FBI agents on Sunday interviewed one of the three women who have accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct as Republicans and Democrats quarreled over whether the bureau would have enough time and freedom to conduct a thorough investigation before a high-stakes vote on his nomination to the nation’s highest court.
The White House insisted it was not “micromanaging” the new one-week review of Kavanaugh’s background but some Democratic lawmakers claimed the White House was keeping investigators from interviewing certain witnesses. President Donald Trump, for his part, tweeted that no matter how much time and discretion the FBI was given, “it will never be enough” for Democrats trying to keep Kavanaugh off the bench.
And even as the FBI explored the past allegations that have surfaced against Kavanaugh, another Yale classmate came forward to accuse the federal appellate judge of being untruthful in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the extent of his drinking in college.
In speaking to FBI agents, Deborah Ramirez detailed her allegation that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party in the early 1980s when they were students at Yale University, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to publicly discuss details of a confidential investigation.
Kavanaugh has denied Ramirez’s allegation.
Burials begin in quake- and tsunami-hit Indonesian region
PALU, Indonesia (AP) – A mass burial of earthquake and tsunami victims was being prepared in a hard-hit city Monday as the need for heavy equipment to dig for survivors of the disaster that struck a central Indonesian island three days ago grows desperate.
The toll of more than 800 dead is largely from the city of Palu and is expected to rise as areas cut off by the damage are reached. The magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck at dusk Friday and spawned a tsunami said to have been as high as 6 meters (20 feet) in places.
The grave being dug in Palu for 300 victims will be 10 meters by 100 meters (33 feet by 330 feet) in size and can be enlarged if needed, said Willem Rampangilei, chief of Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
“This must be done as soon as possible for health and religious reasons,” he said. Indonesia is majority Muslim, and religious custom calls for burials soon after death, typically within one day.
Military and commercial aircraft were delivering some aid and supplies to the region. But there was a desperate need for heavy equipment to reach possible survivors buried in collapsed buildings, including an eight-story hotel in Palu where voices were heard in the rubble. A 25-year-old woman was found alive Sunday evening in the ruins of the Roa-Roa Hotel, according to the National Search and Rescue Agency, which released photos of the her lying on a stretcher covered in a blanket.
String of disasters exacts heavy damage, human toll in Asia
BANGKOK (AP) – A recent string of natural disasters, the latest a deadly earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, have exacted a severe toll both in economic damage and human lives throughout Asia. The U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, or UNISDR, says up to 1.6 million people could be affected by the magnitude 7.5 earthquake and the tsunami it created Friday in a central region of Sulawesi island.
Such disasters tend to hurt the poorest people in the poorest countries most severely, even if the economic toll can be highest in more affluent countries like Japan. Annual losses from disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons average $250 billion to $300 billion, according to UNISDR, with the largest share in Asia. Indirect losses over time can be worse than the immediate costs.
A look at the costs for the region for just a handful of the worst calamities in the past several months:
EARTHQUAKE, TSUNAMI – SULAWESI, INDONESIA
California’s tough net neutrality bill prompts US lawsuit
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation’s toughest net neutrality measure Sunday, requiring internet providers to maintain a level playing field online. The move prompted an immediate lawsuit by the Trump administration.
Advocates of net neutrality hope the new law in the home of the global technology industry will have national implications by pushing Congress to enact national net neutrality rules or encouraging other states to follow suit.
But the U.S. Department of Justice wants to stop the law, arguing that it creates burdensome, anti-consumer requirements that go against the federal government’s approach of deregulating the internet.
“Once again the California Legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
The law is the latest example of the nation’s most populous state seeking to drive public policy outside its borders and rebuff President Donald Trump’s agenda.
New Tesla chair must rein in CEO Musk at key moment
WASHINGTON (AP) – It won’t be an easy job.
Whoever becomes the new chairman of Tesla Motors will face the formidable task of reining in Elon Musk, the charismatic, visionary chief executive with an impulsive streak, while also helping Musk achieve his dream of turning Tesla into a profitable, mass-market producer of environmentally-friendly electric cars.
Musk is giving up the chairman’s role under a settlement announced Saturday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Besides a new chairman, Tesla was also ordered to appoint two new, independent members to its board. A more assertive board could provide the kind of tighter oversight that many legal experts, and Tesla investors, say is overdue for a company of Tesla’s market value.
The settlement stemmed from a lawsuit the SEC filed charging Musk with misleading investors in August with a tweet that said he had “funding secured” for taking the company private.
Yet a more forceful board, coupled with a domineering CEO like Musk, could create conflicts at a risky time for the company. Visionary CEOs such as Apple’s Steve Jobs and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey have been forced out by strong boards of directors, though both eventually returned to their companies.
Kavanaugh case unfolds as DeVos readies sexual assault rule
WASHINGTON (AP) – Choking back tears, she testified that he sexually assaulted her. Defensive and angry and choking back tears, he swore that he did not.
The dramatic Senate testimony last week by Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh came as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos considers new guidelines that could drastically change the way allegations of sexual violence are investigated on college campuses.
Brett Sokolow, a lawyer who heads an association of sexual harassment investigators on campuses, said his colleagues closely watched the hearing and may use it for future trainings.
“If this was a student, would I believe them, would I not?” Sokolow said. “Who comes out being credible?”
DeVos has argued that the policy put in place under President Barack Obama is skewed against the accused. She is expected to issue new rules in the near future.
Problems for Pentagon’s immigrant recruit program
WASHINGTON (AP) – Stricter Trump administration immigration policies have stymied Pentagon plans to restart a program that allowed thousands of people with critical medical or Asian and African language skills to join the military and become American citizens, according to several U.S. officials.
The decade-old program has been on hold since 2016 amid concerns that immigrant recruits were not being screened well enough, and security threats were slipping through the system. Defense officials shored up the vetting process, and planned to relaunch the program earlier this month.
But there was an unexpected barrier when Homeland Security officials said they would not be able to protect new immigrant recruits from being deported when their temporary visas expired after they signed a contract to join the military, the U.S. officials said. They were not authorized to publicly describe internal discussions and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The program is called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, or MAVNI. The plan to restart it was backed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who believes that noncitizens can bring key skills, language abilities, and cultural knowledge to the military.
Mattis, a combat veteran of multiple war tours, has fought with and commanded foreign nationals, and he believes their service adds to the lethality of America’s fighting force, according to the officials.
One and not done: Brews-Cubs, Rockies-Dodgers in tiebreakers
Triple Crown contender Christian Yelich and the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Nolan Arenado and the big-hitting Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium.
October baseball is about to begin with Game No. 163 on Monday.
Two tiebreakers on the same day for the first time in major league history. Both to divvy up divisions, too.
“It’s interesting that baseball is such a perfect game in some ways that it takes 162 to not decide anything,” Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs begin the doubleheader drama when they host Milwaukee for the NL Central crown. Later in the afternoon, Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler is set to start when Los Angeles faces Colorado for the NL West title.
Trudeau calls meeting as Canada, US near free trade deal
TORONTO (AP) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a meeting with his Cabinet late Sunday after Canada and the U.S. made substantial progress in free trade talks.
Two senior government officials confirmed the meeting. One of the officials said the discussions between Canada and the U.S. were ongoing, but progress was being made. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Trudeau arrived at his office Sunday night but did not comment as he walked by reporters ahead of the unusual late meeting with his ministers.
David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to Washington, said earlier that the U.S. and Canada had made a lot of progress, but there was no deal yet.
MacNaughton said Sunday evening in Ottawa there were a couple of tough issues left to resolve. MacNaughton said he wasn’t sure if they would reach an agreement by Monday but said he was cautiously optimistic.