Guam's Catholics reckon with decades of 'horrific' sex abuse
AGAT, Guam (AP) — Walter Denton wanted to grow up to be just like Father Tony Apuron, until the night he says the parish priest raped him in a church rectory. The pastor sent the sobbing 13-year-old altar boy away with a warning: "If you say anything to anybody, no one will believe you."
Denton told his mother, but says she accused him of making it up. He told another priest, but that man did nothing and later turned out to be an abuser himself. And Denton watched helplessly as Pope John Paul II named his alleged rapist Archbishop of Agaña, the voice of divine authority in the small, overwhelmingly Catholic U.S. territory of Guam.
For decades, Apuron oversaw a culture of impunity where abusers went unpunished. Long after it erupted into scandal on the mainland, clergy sexual abuse remained a secret on Guam. On this island where four out of five people are Catholic, the abusers held the power.
Now, thousands of pages of court documents reviewed by The Associated Press, along with extensive interviews, tell a story of systemic abuse dating from the 1950s to as recently as 2013. They show a pattern of repeated collusion by predator priests, with abuse that spanned generations and reached all the way to the very top of the church hierarchy.
The archbishop used his power to stymie a lawmaker's efforts to allow victims to sue the church, which could have exposed his past. It wasn't until Denton and other victims spoke out in 2016 that the Vatican finally suspended Apuron, nearly 40 years after Denton first reported his rape. Apuron still denies the allegations.
Weakened but unbowed, NRA head digs in against gun control
In the aftermath of the back-to-back massacres in Texas and Ohio, the debate over gun control has returned to the National Rifle Association and its immense power to stymie any significant legislation on the issue.
The man largely responsible for the NRA's uncompromising stance is its decades-long CEO, Wayne LaPierre, who has been engulfed in turmoil and legal issues as he orchestrates the group's latest effort to push back against gun-control measures.
Law enforcement authorities are investigating the NRA's finances, and the gun group has ousted top officials and traded lawsuits with the longtime marketing firm credited with helping to shape LaPierre's and the NRA's image.
LaPierre's seven-figure salary, penchant for luxury clothing shopping sprees and reports that he sought to have the NRA buy him a $6 million mansion at an exclusive golf community have drawn considerable scrutiny amid allegations of rampant misspending.
Ardent gun-rights supporters have turned on LaPierre in recent months, taking to Twitter and Facebook with the hashtags #changethenra and #savethe2a. Some are calling for his resignation and questioning how he can turn the tide against the push for more robust gun-control measures after the Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, rampages, given all the scandals.
McConnell says Senate will consider gun background checks
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he wants Congress to consider legislation to expand federal background checks and other gun violence measures when lawmakers return in the fall.
The Republican leader told a Kentucky radio station that President Donald Trump called him Thursday morning and they talked about several ideas. The president, he said, is "anxious to get an outcome and so am I."
Republicans have resisted expanding background checks, but face enormous pressure to do something in the aftermath of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend that killed 31 people.
"Background checks and red flags will probably lead the discussion," the Senate leader said, referring to legislation that allows authorities to seize firearms from someone deemed a threat to themselves or others.
The Republican leader has been under pressure to call senators back to Washington from their summer recess to work on gun measures. He rejected that idea, saying it would just lead to senators "scoring points and nothing would happen."
Indian PM: Changes in Kashmir will free it from 'terrorism'
NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the nation Thursday night that he stripped Kashmir of its statehood and special constitutional status in order to free the disputed Himalayan region of "terrorism and separatism."
Modi's Hindu-led nationalist government imposed an unprecedented security lockdown and a near-total communications blackout in the Muslim-majority region since Sunday night, arresting more than 500 people.
Kashmir is claimed in full by both India and its archrival Pakistan, although each controls only a part of it and rebels have been fighting Indian rule in the portion it administers for decades. This week, India downgraded the divided region from statehood to a territory, limited its decision-making power and eliminated its right to its own constitution.
In his first nationally broadcast speech on the decision, Modi described the changes for Jammu and Kashmir, as the region is formally known, as historic. He assured its residents that the situation will soon "return to normal gradually," although he gave no specifics.
Modi said the "mainstreaming" of the Kashmiri people with the rest of the nation would expedite development and create new jobs with investment from public and private companies.
UN climate report: Change land use to avoid a hungry future
GENEVA (AP) — Human-caused climate change is dramatically degrading the Earth's land and the way people use the land is making global warming worse, a new United Nations scientific report says. That creates a vicious cycle which is already making food more expensive, scarcer and less nutritious.
"The cycle is accelerating," said NASA climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, a co-author of the report. "The threat of climate change affecting people's food on their dinner table is increasing."
But if people change the way they eat, grow food and manage forests, it could help save the planet from a far warmer future, scientists said.
Earth's land masses, which are only 30% of the globe, are warming twice as fast as the planet as a whole. While heat-trapping gases are causing problems in the atmosphere, the land has been less talked about as part of climate change. A special report, written by more than 100 scientists and unanimously approved by diplomats from nations around the world Thursday at a meeting in Geneva, proposed possible fixes and made more dire warnings.
"The way we use land is both part of the problem and also part of the solution," said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, a French climate scientist who co-chairs one of the panel's working groups. "Sustainable land management can help secure a future that is comfortable."
Experts push for domestic terrorism law after attacks
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Seven days, three mass shootings, 34 dead.
The FBI has labeled two of those attacks , at a Texas Walmart and California food festival, as domestic terrorism — acts meant to intimidate or coerce a civilian population and affect government policy. But the bureau hasn't gone that far with a shooting at an Ohio entertainment district.
Even if there's a domestic terrorism investigation, no such law exists in the federal criminal code. That means the Justice Department must rely on other laws such as hate crimes and weapons offenses in cases of politically motivated shootings.
The legal gap has prompted many survivors, victims' families, law enforcement officials and legal experts to call on lawmakers to create a domestic terrorism law that could aid investigators and punish perpetrators.
"Calling something for what it is is an important first step in combating this problem," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
Shootings prompt other countries to warn about travel to US
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The United States often takes a leading role in calling out the world's most dangerous places, warning its people about the risks of traveling to countries that are at war, under terrorist threats, experiencing civil unrest or displaying significant anti-American sentiment.
The latest mass shootings have triggered a sharp role reversal, with three countries warning their citizens about the risks of traveling to the U.S.
Venezuela, Uruguay and Japan issued warnings to varying degrees following the deaths of 31 people over the weekend in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas. Each warning noted U.S. gun violence, and at least one was laced with a dose of political payback.
Without directly naming President Donald Trump, the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blamed the surge in violence on speeches emanating from Washington that are "impregnated with racial discrimination and hatred against immigrants." It urges Venezuelans to postpone U.S. trips.
The socialist Maduro is ruling over the worst economic crisis in Venezuelan history amid an escalating political battle with the White House, which backs opposition leader Juan Guaidó's bid to oust him.
Ex-FBI official Andrew McCabe sues over his firing
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a frequent target of President Donald Trump's ire, sued the FBI and the Justice Department on Thursday over his firing.
The lawsuit, the second this week from an ex-FBI official challenging the circumstances of his termination, says the firing was part of Trump's plan to rid the bureau of leaders he perceived as disloyal to him. The complaint contends that the two officials responsible for demoting and then firing McCabe — FBI Director Chris Wray and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions — created a pretext to force him out in accordance with the president's wishes.
"Trump demanded Plaintiff's personal allegiance, he sought retaliation when Plaintiff refused to give it, and Sessions, Wray, and others served as Trump's personal enforcers rather than the nation's highest law enforcement officials, catering to Trump's unlawful whims instead of honoring their oaths to uphold the Constitution," the lawsuit says.
The federal complaint also contends the FBI and Justice Department strayed from established policies, with Wray refusing to tell McCabe why he was being fired and a senior Justice Department lawyer telling McCabe's own lawyer that they were "making it up as we go along."
Spokespeople for the FBI and Justice Department declined to comment.
GOP freezes Twitter spending after McConnell account locked
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Republican Party, the Trump campaign and other GOP organizations said Thursday that they are freezing their spending on Twitter to protest the platform's treatment of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Twitter temporarily locked McConnell's campaign account Wednesday after it shared a video in which some protesters spoke of violence outside his Kentucky home, where he is recovering from a shoulder fracture.
The social media platform said in a statement that users were locked out temporarily due to a tweet "that violated our violent threats policy, specifically threats involving physical safety." The statement did not indicate exactly how long the account was frozen, saying only that it was temporary. The account was active Thursday, but no longer contained the tweet.
The Courier-Journal reported one protester said McConnell should have broken his neck instead of fracturing his shoulder; another spoke of violence when responding to a reference about a hypothetical McConnell voodoo doll.
In an interview Thursday on Louisville radio station WHAS, McConnell said the decision to ban his campaign account was indicative of the "left-wing tilt of these big companies," which he said suppress speech on social media they don't agree with but did nothing when people were calling him "Massacre Mitch."
Immigrant community rallies around families of detained
MORTON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi residents rallied around terrified children left with no parents and migrants locked themselves in their homes for fear of being arrested Thursday, a day after the United States' largest immigration raid in a decade.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said 680 people were arrested in Wednesday's raids, but more than 300 had been released by Thursday morning, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said in an email.
Cox said 30 of those who had been released were let go at the plants, while about 270 were released after being taken to a military hangar where they had been brought after the raids. He did not give a reason except to say that those released at the plants were let go due to "humanitarian factors."
"They were placed into proceedings before the federal immigration courts and will have their day in court at a later date," he said. Officials had said Wednesday that they would release detainees who met certain conditions, such as pregnant women or those who hadn't faced immigration proceedings previously.
A small group seeking information about immigrants caught up in the raids gathered Thursday morning outside one of the targeted companies: the Koch Foods Inc. plant in Morton, a small town of roughly 3,000 people about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of the capital of Jackson.