UK threat level raised to "critical" after subway bombing
LONDON (AP) — A homemade bomb planted in a rush-hour subway car exploded in London on Friday, injuring 29 people and prompting authorities to raise Britain's terrorism threat level to "critical," meaning another attack may be imminent.
The early morning blast sparked a huge manhunt for the perpetrators of what police said was the fourth terrorist attack in the British capital this year.
Prime Minister Theresa May, acting on the recommendation of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center, raised the country's threat level from "severe" to "critical" — its highest possible level. May said military troops would augment the police presence in a "proportionate and sensible step."
Earlier, May said the device had been "intended to cause significant harm."
Still, to the relief of authorities and Londoners, experts said the bomb — hidden in a plastic bucket inside a supermarket freezer bag — only partially exploded, sparing the city much worse carnage.
What's changed with NKorea in 5 weeks since 'fire and fury'
WASHINGTON (AP) — How has North Korea responded in the five weeks since President Donald Trump threated Pyongyang with "fire and fury?" A trio of missile launches and a hydrogen bomb test that is the communist nation's most powerful to date.
And what have the U.S. and its allies achieved? A new set of U.N. sanctions that even Trump declared a "small step," extensive talks and a rhetorical two-step that leaves them where they have been for years. While Washington warns of military options, it says it still wants a peaceful solution.
"We will defend our people and our civilization from all who dare to threaten our way of life," Trump said at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Friday after Pyongyang conducted its longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile. "This includes the regime of North Korea, which has once again shown its utter contempt for its neighbors and for the entire world community."
Diplomacy on the North Korean nuclear standoff has been stalled for years. And there's little sign that talks involving the U.S., North Korea and other interested countries can be arranged amid the almost weekly barrage of weapons tests and threats, let alone stop the North's determined nuclear march.
Trump heads to the U.N. General Assembly meeting next week with the same suitcase of bad options as his predecessors. Only now, the threat is heightened. North Korea is closer than ever to its goal of building a military arsenal that can viably target both U.S. troops in Asia and the American homeland.
Still no charity money from leftover Trump inaugural funds
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's inaugural committee raised an unprecedented $107 million for a ceremony that officials promised would be "workmanlike," and the committee pledged to give leftover funds to charity. Nearly eight months later, the group has helped pay for redecorating at the White House and the vice president's residence in Washington.
But nothing has yet gone to charity.
What is left from the massive fundraising is a mystery, clouded by messy and, at times, budget-busting management of a private fund that requires little public disclosure. The Associated Press spoke with eight people — vendors, donors and Trump associates — involved in planning and political fundraising for the celebration, an event that provides an early look at the new president's management style and priorities. The people described a chaotic process marked by last-minute decisions, staffing turnover and little financial oversight.
Among the head-scratching line-items was the pre-inaugural Lincoln Memorial concert, which came with a $25 million price tag, according to four of the people. The price dwarfs a similar event staged eight years earlier for Obama's first inauguration. One person familiar with the committee's thinking said the $25 million included broadcasting costs and other events, complicating an apples-to-apples comparison with past inaugural concert expenses.
Other people familiar with the committee's activities before and after the inauguration said its efforts were hobbled by a shortage of staff with relevant experience.
Michigan doctor believes US ready for first Muslim governor
DETROIT (AP) — Perhaps no state has embraced the political outsider as much as Michigan, where a venture capitalist won the last two governor's elections and a real estate baron carried the presidential vote. Now Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is putting that affinity for newcomers to the test.
El-Sayed, a 32-year-old liberal doctor in Detroit, is mounting a surprisingly robust bid to become the nation's first Muslim governor.
Democratic leaders are stunned by the sudden emergence of the former Rhodes scholar, who served as Detroit public health director, in the primary field after he quickly raised $1 million.
He is one of four viable Democrats and, for now, three Republicans in a race that his party considers a must-win to re-establish itself after eight years of GOP control of state government.
Michigan has one of the largest Arab populations outside the Middle East, but is it ready to elect a Muslim as chief executive? El-Sayed says yes, though he insists the election will be about his qualifications and grassroots movement.
Trump's tough talk on London bomb irks British leader
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's suggestion that London police could have done more to prevent Friday's homemade bomb explosion drew a quick rejoinder from British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said it's never helpful "to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation."
Trump turned the London subway bomb explosion into an opportunity to highlight his tough talk on terror and promote his travel ban.
The president's series of early-morning tweets about the still-unfolding investigation stood in contrast to his delay last month in firmly condemning Neo-Nazis and white supremacists after racial violence broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, and left one person dead. At the time, he said: "When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. ... I don't want to rush into a statement."
The London bomb exploded on a packed train during morning rush hour Friday, leaving at least 29 people injured but no one with life-threatening injuries. Police said the explosion was a terrorist attack, the fifth in Britain this year.
On Twitter, Trump called the explosion another attack "by a loser terrorist." He also offered implied criticism of law enforcement, saying "these are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!"
Cuba mystery: Even Castro baffled by harm to US diplomats
HAVANA (AP) — Raul Castro seemed rattled.
The Cuban president sent for the top American envoy in the country to address grave concerns about a spate of U.S. diplomats harmed in Havana. There was talk of futuristic "sonic attacks" and the subtle threat of repercussions by the United States, until recently Cuba's sworn enemy.
The way Castro responded surprised Washington, several U.S. officials familiar with the exchange told The Associated Press.
In a rare face-to-face conversation, Castro told U.S. diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis that he was equally baffled, and concerned. Predictably, Castro denied any responsibility. But U.S. officials were caught off guard by the way he addressed the matter, devoid of the indignant, how-dare-you-accuse-us attitude the U.S. had come to expect from Cuba's leaders.
The Cubans even offered to let the FBI come down to Havana to investigate. Though U.S.-Cuban cooperation has improved recently — there was a joint "law enforcement dialogue" Friday in Washington — this level of access was extraordinary.
UN takes up North Korea after latest missile launch
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council met in emergency session Friday after North Korea conducted its longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile, to talk about what to do now that Kim Jong Un has ignored its latest round of sanctions.
The intermediate-range weapon, launched early Friday from Sunan, the location of Pyongyang's international airport, hurtled over U.S. ally Japan into the northern Pacific Ocean. It signaled both defiance of North Korea's rivals and a big technological advance.
Japan's U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho told reporters as he headed into the closed-door council meeting that he was certain all 15 members "will be condemning this outrageous act."
"It is, of course, a grave threat to our own security but ... it is a real threat to the peace and security of the world as a whole," he said.
Bessho called on all countries to implement sanctions against North Korea, including measures adopted four days ago in response to Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test, which it said was a hydrogen bomb. The United States said those sanctions, combined with previous sanctions would ban over 90 percent of North Korea's exports reported in 2016.
Former St. Louis officer acquitted in killing of black man
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A white former police officer was acquitted Friday in the 2011 death of a black man who was fatally shot following a high-speed chase, and hundreds of demonstrators streamed into the streets of downtown St. Louis to protest the verdict that had stirred fears of civil unrest for weeks.
Ahead of the acquittal, activists threatened civil disobedience if Jason Stockley were not convicted, including possible efforts to shut down highways. Barricades went up last month around police headquarters, the courthouse where the trial was held and other potential protest sites. Protesters were on the march within hours of the decision. By mid-afternoon, officers had used pepper spray on some demonstrators.
The judge who decided the matter declared that he would not be swayed by "partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism."
The case played out not far from the suburb of Ferguson, which was the scene of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old who was killed by a white police officer in 2014. That officer was never charged but eventually resigned.
Stockley, who was charged with first-degree murder, insisted he saw Anthony Lamar Smith holding a gun and felt he was in imminent danger. Prosecutors said the officer planted a gun in Smith's car after the shooting. The officer asked the case to be decided by a judge instead of a jury.
Judge: Sessions can't deny grant money for sanctuary cities
CHICAGO (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions can't follow through — at least for now — with his threat to withhold public safety grant money to Chicago and other so-called sanctuary cities for refusing to impose new tough immigration policies, a judge ruled Friday in a legal defeat for the Trump administration.
In what is at least a temporary victory for cities that have defied Sessions, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber ruled that the Justice Department could not impose the requirements.
He said the city had shown a "likelihood of success" in arguing that Sessions exceeded his authority with the new conditions. Among them are requirements that cities notify immigration agents when someone in the country illegally is about to be released from local jails and to allow agents access to the jails.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the ruling a victory for cities, counties and states nationwide and "a clear statement that the Trump administration is wrong."
"It means essential resources for public safety will not come with unlawful strings attached, and the Trump justice department cannot continue to coerce us into violating and abandoning our values," Emanuel said.
Aided by Russia, Syrian forces consolidate military gains
OKEIRBAT, Syria (AP) — Government troops and their allies intensified an offensive Friday against Islamic State militants in central Syria, trying to consolidate their control on the area.
The Syrian troops and Russian military police patrolled the dusty and desolate streets of Okeirbat, which was recaptured from the extremists on Sept. 2.
A militant counteroffensive was crushed Thursday amid intense Russian airstrikes. Distant thuds of artillery were heard in Friday afternoon and evening, indicating the persistence of the fighting.
The militants had controlled Okeirbat since 2014, and Russian military officials showed visiting journalists a bombed-out warehouse that was used by the extremists to repair and fortify tanks in the once-thriving town of 10,000 people, the largest held by IS in Hama province.
The fight for Okeirbat, which lies on a strategic route linking western Syria to IS strongholds in the east, reflects the group's desperation to retain its presence in Hama province in central Syria.