Diplomat: Trump linked Ukraine aid to demand for probe
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. Ambassador William Taylor provided lawmakers Tuesday with a vivid, detailed and what some lawmakers called "disturbing" account of the way President Donald Trump wanted to put the new Ukraine president "in a public box" by demanding a quid pro quo at the center of the impeachment probe.
In a lengthy opening statement to House investigators, Taylor described the way Trump's demand that "everything" Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wanted, including vital military aid to counter Russia, hinged on making a public vow that he would investigate Democrats going back to the 2016 U.S. election as well as a company linked to the family of Trump's potential 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Taylor testified that what he discovered in Kyiv was the Trump administration's back channel to foreign policy, led by the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and a "weird combination" of "ultimately alarming circumstances" that threaten to erode the United States' relationship with a budding Eastern European ally.
Lawmakers emerging after hours of the private deposition said Taylor relayed a "disturbing" account, including establishing a "direct line" to the quid pro quo at the center of the impeachment probe .
Lawmakers said Taylor recalled events that filled in gaps from the testimony of other witnesses, particularly Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who testified last week and whose statements now are being called into question by Taylor's account. They said Taylor kept records of conversations and documents.
Trump likens House impeachment inquiry to 'a lynching'
WASHINGTON (AP) — Stirring up painful memories of America's racist past, President Donald Trump on Tuesday compared the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry to a lynching, a practice once widespread across the South in which angry mobs killed thousands of black people.
The use of such inflammatory imagery to lash out at the House investigation into Trump's dealings with Ukraine triggered an outcry from Democratic legislators, some mild rebukes but also some agreement from the president's Republican allies and condemnation from outside the Washington Beltway.
A woman whose father was killed by Ku Klux Klansmen in Alabama in 1957 called the comment "unbelievable."
Trump has spent recent days pressuring Republicans to give him stronger support in countering the impeachment investigation.
His tweeted suggestion that they "remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching" came a day after Trump said the GOP needs to "get tougher and fight" against the fast-moving inquiry into whether he tried to withhold U.S. military aid until Ukraine's government agreed to investigate Democrat Joe Biden and his son.
Russia, Turkey seal power in northeast Syria with new accord
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Russia and Turkey reached an agreement Tuesday that would cement their power in Syria, deploying their forces across nearly its entire northeastern border to fill the void left by President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces.
The accord caps a dramatic and swift transformation of the Syrian map unleashed by Trump's decision two weeks ago to remove the American soldiers.
U.S. troops in Syria fought five years alongside Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria and succeeded in bringing down the rule of the Islamic State group there at the cost of thousands of Kurdish fighters' lives. Now much of that territory would be handed over to U.S. rivals.
The biggest winners are Turkey and Russia. Turkey would get sole control over areas of the Syrian border captured in its invasion, while Turkish, Russian and Syria government forces would oversee the rest of the border region. America's former U.S. allies, the Kurdish fighters, are left hoping Moscow and Damascus will preserve some pieces of their autonomy dreams.
Meanwhile, the Americans are stumbling out of Syria in a withdrawal that has proved chaotic, its extent and goals seeming to shift on the fly as they grasp to keep some influence on the ground.
Trump finds no simple fix in Syria, other world hotspots
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's plan to reverse America's involvement in "endless wars" has run up against a difficult truth: When it comes to national security, rarely can a simple solution solve a complex problem.
After abruptly announcing last week that he would "bring our soldiers home" from Syria, Trump recalibrated and his administration said it would instead redeploy more than 700 to western Iraq to help counter the Islamic State group.
And now his latest plan faces another wrinkle: The Iraqi military said Tuesday those U.S. troops don't have permission to stay in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Turkey and Russia announced Tuesday that they would jointly patrol most of the northeastern Syrian border with Turkey, underscoring the effects of the U.S. creating a power vacuum the Russians have been quick to fill.
In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, typically a strong Trump supporter, introduced legislation prodding the president to halt the withdrawal. But he counseled against economic sanctions on Turkey, lest the U.S. "further drive a NATO ally into the arms of the Russians."
Boris Johnson inches toward securing Brexit but delay likely
LONDON (AP) — For a brief moment Tuesday, Brexit was within a British prime minister's grasp.
Boris Johnson won Parliament's backing for the substance of his exit deal but lost a key vote on its timing, a result that inches him closer to his goal of leading his country out of the European Union — but effectively guarantees it won't happen on the scheduled date of Oct. 31.
European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that because of the vote he would recommend that the other 27 EU nations grant Britain a delay in its departure to avoid a chaotic no-deal exit in just nine days.
The good news for the prime minister was that lawmakers — for the first time since Britons chose in 2016 to leave the EU — voted in principle for a Brexit plan, backing by 329-299 a bill to implement the agreement Johnson struck with the EU last week.
But minutes later, legislators rejected his fast-track timetable to pass the bill, saying they needed more time to scrutinize it. The vote went 322-308 against the government.
One of Europe's last untamed rivers is threatened by dams
ALONG THE VJOSA RIVER (AP) — Under a broad plane tree near Albania's border with Greece, Jorgji Ilia fills a battered flask from one of the Vjosa River's many springs.
"There is nothing else better than the river," the retired schoolteacher says. "The Vjosa gives beauty to our village."
The Vjosa is temperamental and fickle, changing from translucent cobalt blue to sludge brown to emerald green, from a steady flow to a raging torrent. Nothing holds it back for more than 270 kilometers (170 miles) in its course through the forest-covered slopes of Greece's Pindus mountains to Albania's Adriatic coast.
This is one of Europe's last wild rivers. But for how long?
Albania's government has set in motion plans to dam the Vjosa and its tributaries to generate much-needed electricity for one of Europe's poorest countries, with the intent to build eight dams along the main river.
Lori Loughlin, other parents charged again in college scheme
BOSTON (AP) — "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and nine other parents faced new federal charges Tuesday as prosecutors pressured them to acknowledge their guilt in a scheme involving dozens of wealthy parents accused of bribing their children into elite universities or cheating on college entrance exams.
A grand jury in Boston indicted the parents on charges of trying to bribe officials at an organization that receives at least $10,000 in federal funding. In this case, they're accused of paying to get their children admitted to the University of Southern California.
The charge of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
A total of 35 wealthy and celebrity parents have been charged in the scheme that showed how far some will go to get their children into top universities like Stanford and Yale.
Some parents are accused of paying admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer to falsely portray their children as star athletes and then bribe college sports officials to get them admitted as recruited athletes. Others are accused of paying Singer to help cheat on their children's SAT and ACT exams.
Canada's Trudeau wins re-election but faces a divided nation
TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau begins his second term facing an increasingly divided Parliament and country, with his rock-star appeal from four years ago diminished by scandal and unmet expectations.
Trudeau was re-elected in a stronger-than-expected showing in Monday's national elections. But while his Liberal Party took the most seats in Parliament, it lost its majority and will have to rely on an opposition party to get anything passed.
The prime minister struck a conciliatory note in an early morning address that forced the TV networks to break away from covering his Conservative rival, Andrew Scheer, who had just begun speaking to his own supporters.
"To those who did not vote for us, know that we will work every single day for you, we will govern for everyone," Trudeau said.
With results still trickling in, the Liberals had 157 seats — 13 short of the 170 needed for a majority in the 338-seat House of Commons — while the Conservatives had 121.
2 students charged with slur at University of Connecticut
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Two University of Connecticut students have been charged with shouting a racial slur outside a campus apartment complex in an episode that was caught on video and has led to protests at the school.
Jarred Karal, of Plainville, and Ryan Mucaj, of Granby, both identified by police as 21-year-old white men, were charged Monday with ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race.
The charge is a misdemeanor that carries a possible sentence of up to a year in prison. Phone and email messages were left for the two students, who are due in court Oct. 30. It was not clear Tuesday whether they had lawyers to speak for them.
Police said the young men were among three people seen on the video walking through the parking lot of UConn's Charter Oak Apartment complex Oct. 11. Two of the three use the racial slur several times and laugh, police said.
"The investigation showed that the males walked back through the apartment complex after leaving a local business and played a game in which they yelled vulgar words," according to the police report. "As they walked through the parking lot, Mucaj and Karal switched to saying a racial epithet that was heard by witnesses. The investigation revealed the third male did not participate."
Jimmy Carter hospitalized after fall at Georgia home
ATLANTA (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter had another fall at his home in Plains, Georgia, fracturing his pelvis and going to the hospital for treatment and observation, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Carter Center spokeswoman Deanna Congileo described the fracture as minor. Her statement said that the 95-year-old was in good spirits at the Phoebe Sumter Medical Center after falling on Monday evening, and that he was looking forward to recovering at home.
This is the third time Carter has fallen in recent months. He first fell in the spring and required hip replacement surgery. Carter fell again Oct. 6 and despite receiving 14 stitches, traveled the same day to Nashville, Tennessee, to rally volunteers and, later, to help build a Habitat for Humanity home.
Carter is the oldest living former president in U.S. history. He and 92-year-old Rosalynn recently became the longest married first couple, surpassing George and Barbara Bush, with more than 73 years of marriage.
The 39th president survived a dire cancer diagnosis in 2015, and last month, he matter-of-factly told an audience that they might be hearing his last annual Carter Center address. But even then, he was forward-thinking, expressing hopes that the center will become a more forceful advocate against armed conflicts, including "wars by the United States."