Paris, Nov 11 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump canceled a planned visit Saturday to a cemetery for Americans killed in World War I, the White House citing bad weather that grounded his helicopter.
Trump had been scheduled to lay a wreath and observe a moment of silence at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, located adjacent to Belleau Wood and about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Paris.
Instead, Trump spent much of the day following a meeting and lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron at the U.S. ambassador's residence, where he was staying during events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Attending in Trump's place were the White House chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly; the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford; and several members of the White House staff. The Battle of Belleau Wood was a critical conflict in the war and a pivotal encounter in Marine Corps history.
The Secret Service determines when it's safe to fly Marine One, the president's helicopter. Paris was covered in clouds with drizzling rain through most of Saturday.
Trump was scheduled to join dozens of world leaders Sunday at a ceremony in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe marking Armistice Day. He was to deliver remarks at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial, located five miles west of Paris, before returning to Washington.
The cancellation of Saturday's visit drew criticism from those who say the president should have found a way to travel to Aisne-Marne regardless of the weather.
Ben Rhodes, who was deputy national security adviser for President Barack Obama, accused Trump of "blowing off honoring American servicemen who died for us" and said the White House should have had a fallback option.
Savannah, Nov 11(AP/UNB) — The cause of a military plane crash that left nine people dead outside Savannah, Georgia, was pilot error, according to a report by the U.S. Air Force Accident Investigation Board.
Nine airmen from the Puerto Rico National Guard died May 2 when the plane plunged onto Georgia Highway 21 shortly after takeoff from the Savannah airport.
"The purpose of the investigation was to identify the cause and contributing factors that led to this tragic and unfortunate incident," said Accident Investigation Board team leader Brig. Gen. John C. Millard. "By conducting a thorough review and investigation, we hope to provide answers to the families of brave Airmen that lost their lives and prevent future occurrences and tragedies."
Millard's team spent close to a month reviewing an array of evidence including interviews, logs, video, briefing materials, and inspection of aircraft wreckage before assembling a detailed sequence of events surrounding the crash.
According to the report, the left outermost engine experienced problems and investigators found that the crew's mismanagement of the malfunction deviated from standard procedures. Failure to follow those procedures made further action by the pilot result in loss of control of the aircraft, causing it to crash.
The plane was assigned to a crew from the 156th Airlift Wing in Muniz Air Base from Puerto Rico. Their mission was to deliver the C-130 plane from Savannah to an Air Force base in Arizona commonly referred to as the "Boneyard", where it would be decommissioned.
The pilot of the plane was previously identified as Maj. Jose R. Roman Rosado, of Manati, Puerto Rico.
All nine crew members had helped with hurricane recovery efforts as part of the 198th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed the Bucaneros, which flies out of Base Muniz in the northern coastal city of Carolina, said Adjutant Gen. Isabelo Rivera, commander of the Puerto Rico National Guard. The squadron used the plane to rescue Americans from the British Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma, and later supplied food and water to Puerto Ricans desperate for help after Hurricane Maria.
Thousand Oaks, Nov 11 (AP/UNB) — An autopsy determined that the gunman who killed 12 people at a Southern California bar died from a self-inflicted gunshot, police said Saturday.
Ian David Long, a 28-year-old ex-Marine machine-gunner, fatally shot 11 people at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks and a police officer who responded just before midnight Wednesday. The officer exchanged gunfire with Long, who was found dead at the scene.
Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said an autopsy determined Long fatally shot himself.
Authorities have yet to determine a motive and are exploring all possibilities. Among them is whether Long believed a former girlfriend might have been at the bar, which was filled with about 150 people on its popular college night that attracts students from several nearby schools.
Former Sheriff Geoff Dean, whose last day on the job was Friday, said investigators believe Long targeted the bar but don't know why. At least a half-dozen people interviewed by The Associated Press who described themselves as regulars at the bar don't ever recall seeing Long there.
Authorities described an attack of military efficiency. When Long shot his .45-caliber pistol, he killed. All of the injured suffered cuts, bruises and other minor injuries in frantic attempts to escape the gunfire. Some smashed windows and jumped out.
Based on time stamps, investigators say, Long posted to Instagram during the attack. The post involved his mental state and whether people would believe he was sane.
His social media accounts have been taken down but a law enforcement official said Long posted about his mental state and whether people would believe he was sane. The official, who was briefed on the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Long grew up in Thousand Oaks and several people who knew him described him in disturbing terms. Long made others feel uncomfortable going back to his teens.
Dominique Colell, who coached girls' track and field at the high school where Long was a sprinter, remembers an angry young man who could be verbally and physically combative.
In one instance, Colell said Long used his fingers to mimic shooting her in the back of the head as she talked to another athlete. In another, he grabbed her rear and midsection after she refused to return a cellphone he said was his.
"I literally feared for myself around him," Colell said in an interview Friday. "He was the only athlete that I was scared of."
Police said Long had no criminal record. However, last April, yelling and loud banging noises coming from the home Long shared with his mother prompted a next-door neighbor to call authorities.
Deputies responded and a mental health specialist who assessed Long worried he might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder but found no grounds to hospitalize him.
Paradise, Nov 11 (AP/UNB) — The air thick with smoke from a ferocious wildfire that was still burning homes Saturday, residents who stayed behind to try to save their property or who managed to get back to their neighborhoods in this Northern California town found cars incinerated and homes reduced to rubble.
People surveyed the damage and struggled to cope with what they had lost. Entire neighborhoods were leveled and the business district was destroyed by a blaze that threatened to explode again with the same fury that largely incinerated the foothill town.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Saturday 14 additional bodies were found, bringing the death toll to 23. The victims have not been identified. Two people were found dead in a wildfire in Southern California, bringing the total number of fatalities for the state to 25.
The fire became California's third deadliest since record-keeping began, with the death toll surpassing that from a blaze last year that ravaged the city of Santa Rosa.
An additional search and recovery team on top of the four already on the ground was being brought in to search for remains, Honea said. An anthropology team from California State University, Chico was helping with that effort, he said.
The sheriff's office still has 110 outstanding reports of missing people, Honea said.
In some cases, investigators have only been able to recover bones and bone fragments, he said. He encouraged family members of the missing to submit DNA samples that could be compared with remains that are recovered.
"This weighs heavy on all of us," he said. "Myself and especially those staff members who are out there doing what is important work but certainly difficult work."
Honea added that he's hopeful that more of those missing people will be found. The department initially had more than 500 calls about citizens who were unable to reach loved ones.
But they have been able to help locate many, he said.
The flames burned down more than 6,700 buildings, almost all of them homes, making it California's most destructive wildfire since record-keeping began. There were 35 people still missing.
More firefighters headed to the area Saturday, with wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour expected, raising the risk of conditions similar to those when the fire started Thursday, said Alex Hoon with the National Weather Service.
The blaze grew to 164 square miles (425 square kilometers), but crews made gains and it was partially contained, officials said. It has cost $8.1 million to fight so far, said Steve Kaufmann, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
People sidestepped metal that melted off cars and Jet-Skis and donned masks as they surveyed ravaged neighborhoods despite an evacuation order for all of Paradise, a town of 27,000 founded in the 1800s. Some cried when they saw nothing was left.
Jan MacGregor, 81, got back to his small two-bedroom home in Paradise with the help of his firefighter grandson. He found his home leveled — a large metal safe and some pipe work from his septic system the only recognizable traces. The safe was punctured with bullet holes from guns inside that went off in the scorching heat.
He has lived in Paradise for nearly 80 years, moving there in 1939 when he said the town had just 3,000 people and was nicknamed Poverty Ridge. The fire was not a complete surprise, he said.
"We knew Paradise was a prime target for forest fire over the years," he said. "We've had 'em come right up to the city limits — oh yeah — but nothing like this," he said.
MacGregor said he probably would not rebuild: "I have nothing here to go back to."
Homes and other buildings in Paradise were still burning, and fire crews were trying to extinguish those blazes, said Scott McLean, a captain with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Officials warned firefighters to wear their helmets and be careful of falling trees.
Abandoned, charred vehicles cluttered the main thoroughfare, evidence of the panicked evacuation as the wildfire tore through Thursday. The dead were found mostly inside their cars or and outside vehicles and homes.
Five of the dead panicked when they couldn't escape by car because their route was cut off by a wall of fire, said Gabriel Fallon, who rode out the blaze with his parents to care for the horses, cows and livestock on their 10-acre farm in Paradise.
The group turned the other way and dashed down the paved street until it turned into dirt and passed the Fallons' farm, he said. One of the drivers stopped and asked Fallon if the direction they were going would lead them to safety. Fallon said he shook his head as the fire roared closer.
The motorists parked at the end of the road. On Saturday, the charred shells of the five cars remained where they had been parked.
Fallon went back to his property, where he, and his parents and their animals weathered the fire with a garden hose. The fire consumed their home, but left the barn intact.
"I was scared as hell," said Fallon, 42. "I didn't know if I was going to die."
His mother, Cathy Fallon, said she tries not to think of what she lost when her house burned to the ground. Two of her dogs and nine cats died. She also lost her great-grandmother's mandolin and end table.
"I just can't think about it," she said, beginning to cry. "The thing that hurts the most is that I lost my cats."
Elinor "Jeannie" Williams, 86, was not among the nine victims of the blaze but died as she waited to be airlifted from an evacuated hospital where she was being treated for a head injury.
She was dying, and the family expected to lose her in a few days, said her stepdaughter, Lisa. Still, her death has been hard on her 84-year-old father, Robert, who also may have lost his home, she said.
"He's lost, he's confused, he's trying to hang in there," she said. "It's hitting him hard. Everything is gone, including his wife."
Two destructive wildfires also burned in Southern California , tearing through Malibu mansions and working-class suburban homes and killing two people.
State officials put the total number of people forced from their homes by California's fires at more than 200,000. Evacuation orders included the entire city of Malibu that is home to some of Hollywood's biggest stars.
President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration providing federal funding for fires on both ends of the state. He later threatened to withhold payments to California, claiming its forest management is "so poor."
Trump tweeted Saturday that "there is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly fires in California." Trump said "billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"
California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom responded on Twitter that this was "not a time for partisanship."
"This is a time for coordinating relief and response and lifting those in need up," he said.
Trump took a more empathetic tone later in the day, tweeting sympathies for firefighters, people who have fled their homes and the families of those killed by the flames.
Drought, warmer weather attributed to climate change and home construction deeper into forests have led to more destructive wildfire seasons that have been starting earlier and lasting longer.
California emerged from a five-year drought last year but has had a very dry 2018. Much of the northern two-thirds of the state, including where the fire is burning, is abnormally dry, according to a U.S. government analysis.
Just 100 miles (160 kilometers) north, the Carr Fire near Redding that burned this summer was the sixth-most-destructive wildfire in California history and one of the earliest. It killed eight people in July and August and burned about 1,100 homes.
"The fact is that we are saturated with these kind of fires," safety officer Jack Piccinini told firefighters in Chico.
He warned of "emotional fatigue" among crews from the devastation, death and injuries.
"We need to make sure we take care of one another, we look out for our brothers and sisters out there," he said.
London, Nov 10 (AP/UNB) — A former U.K. minister says others may step down from the government to protest Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan.
Jo Johnson told BBC radio Saturday it is up to members of Parliament to take a stand.
He said that if others decide to resign, "good on them."
Johnson, the younger brother of Boris Johnson, stepped down as a transport minister Friday and called for a second Brexit referendum. He said May's Brexit plan would damage Britain's national interest.
He said the plan is so different from what had been promised during the 2016 referendum that a second vote is needed.
May has rejected all demands for another vote, saying the 2016 vote in favor of leaving the European Union is definitive.
Difficult negotiations between Britain and the EU continue.