Hundreds of thousands stranded as travel agency collapses

LONDON (AP) — Families stranded, honeymoons and vacations canceled, thousands of workers laid off: The sudden collapse of British tour company Thomas Cook and its network of airlines and hotels sowed chaos for hundreds of thousands of travelers and businesses around the world Monday.

Brought down by a variety of factors, including crushing debts and online competition, the 178-year-old travel agency that helped pioneer the package tour ceased operating in the middle of the night. Its four airlines stopped carrying customers, and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries lost their jobs.

The company's failure rippled across the tourism industry, particularly around the Mediterranean, with travelers uncertain how they would get home, hotels worried they wouldn't get paid, guests afraid they wouldn't be allowed to check out without settling their bills, and resorts hit with cancellations.

Overall, about 600,000 people were traveling with Thomas Cook as of Sunday, though it was unclear how many would be left stranded, as some regional subsidiaries were in talks with local authorities to continue operating.

The British government swung into action, lining up flights to bring an estimated 150,000 Britain-based customers back home from vacation spots around the globe in what was called the biggest peacetime repatriation effort in the country's history.


Trump insists he never pressed Ukraine to dig for Biden dirt

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Democrats on Monday pressed their demands for full disclosure of a whistleblower's complaint about President Donald Trump and intensified calls for impeachment. Trump insisted anew he did nothing wrong in his conversation with Ukraine's leader that is at the center of the complaint.

Republican lawmakers remained largely silent amid the reports that the president pressured Ukraine's leader to help investigate political rival Joe Biden at the same time the White House was withholding $250 million in aid to the Eastern European nation.

Trump acknowledged the phone call and said he didn't want to give money to Ukraine - if there were corruption issues. Trump's comments raised further questions about whether he improperly used his office to pressure the country into investigating the former vice president and his family as a way of helping his own reelection prospects.

"It's very important to talk about corruption," Trump told reporters as he opened meetings at the United Nations. "If you don't talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is, is corrupt?"

Later Monday, Trump denied telling the Ukraine president that his country would only get U.S. aid if it investigated Biden's son. "I didn't do it," he said.


Analysis: Trump's tactics leave Dems looking for answers

WASHINGTON (AP) — In 2016, Donald Trump blew through the guardrails of American politics. In his bid for reelection, he's poised to blow them up.

This time around, he's aided by the power of the presidency, with its unmatched megaphone and resources. And his latest provocation — prodding a foreign leader to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden — suggests he sees little issue using his office for his personal political interests.

His actions foreshadow a no-holds-barred 2020 campaign, regardless of who Democrats select as their nominee in the coming months. If the lesson of Trump's 2016 victory was that deeply personal attacks and factually inaccurate innuendo are a pathway to victory, his 2020 playbook appears to include more of the same.

Democrats are more clear-eyed about the effectiveness of those tactics, but still deeply uncertain over the best approach — and the best candidate — to blunt them. Fight back against Trump and risk running a campaign on his terms and elevating his baseless attacks. Ignore him and allow his arguments to percolate unchecked through the conservative media ecosystem.

Democrats concede he is jarringly effective at dictating the terms of the political debate and throwing his opponents off stride.


At UN, Trump focuses on religious freedom, not climate

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — President Donald Trump made his political priorities clear Monday within an hour of arriving at the United Nations for a three-day visit: He breezed by a major climate change summit to focus instead on religious persecution, an issue that resonates with his evangelical supporters.

The climate summit, a centerpiece of this year's U.N. schedule, was not on Trump's agenda at all. But he stopped in to observe for about 15 minutes before heading to what he saw as the main event, a meeting on protecting religious freedom.

Trump said it was an "urgent moral duty" for world leaders to stop crimes against faith, release prisoners of conscience and repeal laws restricting religious liberty.

"Approximately 80% of the world's population live in countries where religious liberty is threatened, restricted or even banned," Trump said, adding that when he first heard the statistic, he didn't believe it and asked for verification.

Trump's speech on Monday extends a long-running focus on international religious freedom that speaks to a key priority of his evangelical base. His administration has hosted annual meetings on the topic in Washington, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced during this year's event that he would create an international alliance dedicated to the issue.


UK, France Germany blame Iran for Saudi oil attacks

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Britain, France and Germany joined the United States on Monday in blaming Iran for attacks on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, but the Iranian foreign minister pointed to claims of responsibility by Yemeni rebels and said: "If Iran were behind this attack, nothing would have been left of this refinery."

Fallout from the Sept. 14 attacks is still reverberating as world leaders gather for their annual meeting at the U.N. General Assembly and international experts continue, at Saudi Arabia's request, to investigate what happened and who was responsible.

The leaders of the U.K., France and Germany — who remain parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — said in a statement that "there is no other plausible explanation" than that "Iran bears responsibility for this attack."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said late Sunday while flying to New York that the U.K. is now "attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran" for the attacks by drones and cruise missiles on the world's largest oil processor and an oil field. He said the U.K. would consider taking part in a U.S.-led military effort to bolster Saudi Arabia's defenses.

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, denied any part in the attacks. He said Yemen's Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility, "have every reason to retaliate" for the Saudi-led coalition's aerial attacks on their country.


US soldier arrested on charge of sharing bomb instructions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities said Monday they arrested an Army soldier who they accused of discussing with an FBI informant a possible bomb attack within the United States as well as the targeting of left-leaning activists and a media organization.

Jarrett William Smith, a 24-year-old private first class infantry soldier from South Carolina stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, was arrested Saturday and later charged with one count of sharing bomb-making instructions online. During his first court appearance on Monday, the magistrate ordered that he remain in custody pending a detention hearing on Thursday.

His defense attorney, Thomas Bartee, did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

A criminal complaint alleges that Smith discussed his plan to kill far-left-leaning "antifa" activists and described how to build a bomb that could be triggered by calling a cellphone. They accuse him of posting on Facebook that he was interested in traveling to Ukraine to fight with a paramilitary group known as Azov Batallion.

Court papers say Smith also suggested targeting a major news network with a car bomb. The news network was not identified.


At 87, Joe Arpaio is running for his old job as sheriff

FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz. (AP) — In a memorabilia-packed office that could serve as a museum to his career, Joe Arpaio plots how he might, at the age of 87, get back his old job as the sheriff of metro Phoenix.

The man who became a national lightning rod for immigration, loved by some and loathed by others, spends his days at an office in a strip mall in the affluent suburb of Fountain Hills. He talks to reporters, takes calls from supporters on his flip phone and pecks out self-promotional blurbs on a Smith Corona typewriter that an assistant later transcribes and posts on social media.

He rejects suggestions that he's running to stroke his ego, quench a thirst for publicity or lessen any boredom since getting booted from office. A criminal conviction — contempt of court for disobeying a judge's 2011 order in a racial profiling case to stop his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants — remains stuck in his craw, though he insists he's not out to clear his name.

Instead, he says he wants to do whatever he can to support President Donald Trump, whose pardon of the lawman hangs prominently on a wall next to Arpaio's desk.

He also vows to bring back the things that garnered notoriety during his 24 years as Maricopa County's top law enforcer: immigration crackdowns, a complex of jail tents and other now-discarded trademarks that courts have deemed illegal or his successor has done away with.


Trial begins for former Dallas cop who fatally shot neighbor

DALLAS (AP) — A white Dallas police officer who fatally shot a black neighbor in his own home was distracted by a phone call with a colleague with whom she had been romantically involved, a prosecutor said Monday at the start of the officer's trial.

Attorneys for Amber Guyger, 31, argued that she fired in self-defense based on the mistaken belief that she was in her own apartment and that Botham Jean was a burglar.

Jean, a 26-year-old accountant from the Caribbean nation of St. Lucia, "was doing no harm to anyone, which was his way," Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus said in an opening statement.

Jean was in his living room eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream on Sept. 6, 2018, when Guyger entered the apartment, which was one floor directly above her apartment, Hermus said.

Hermus said Guyger had worked overtime that day, mostly involving office work that was not strenuous. He said jurors will see sexually explicit messages that Guyger exchanged that evening with a co-worker that discussed meeting up after her shift ended. He said some messages had been deleted from Guyger's phone after the shooting.


Israeli election rivals meet as deadlock still looms

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's president summoned the leaders of the country's two largest political parties to his official residence late Monday, hoping to break a political deadlock that threatens to push the nation into months of limbo and potentially force a third election in less than a year.

Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his challenger, former military chief Benny Gantz, commented as President Reuven Rivlin brought them together for a photo at the beginning of the meeting. The two men looked tense and uncomfortable as Rivlin forced a smile.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the sides said that negotiators would continue the talks Tuesday and that Rivlin had invited the two leaders back to meet with him on Wednesday evening.

The Israeli president is responsible for choosing a candidate for prime minister after national elections. That task is usually a formality, given to the leader who has the best chance of forming a stable majority coalition in the 120-seat parliament.

But last week's election ended in deadlock, with neither Netanyahu, who has ruled the country for the past decade, nor Gantz able to put together a coalition with smaller allied political parties. That has greatly complicated Rivlin's task. A unity deal between the large parties is seen as perhaps the only way out of the impasse.


Can a new space race connect the world to the internet?

NEW YORK (AP) — It's a 21st century space race: Amazon, SpaceX and others are competing to get into orbit and provide internet to the Earth's most remote places.

And like the last century's battle for space supremacy that was triggered by the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik 1, this one involves satellites. Thousands of them.

More than a dozen companies have asked U.S. regulators for permission to operate constellations of satellites that provide internet service. Not all are aimed at connecting consumers, but some have grand and global ambitions.

"The goal here is broadband everywhere," Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said at a conference in June.

With half the world's population — more than 3 billion people — not using the internet , it's a huge potential market. And there's the obvious benefit on the ground: Not having internet access makes it difficult or impossible to apply for many jobs, for kids to do homework, for people in remote areas to get medical care, and to participate in the global economy.