Washington, Oct 13 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump declared Friday the U.S. will uncover the truth about what happened to journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, whose possible murder at Saudi hands after disappearing in Istanbul has captured worldwide attention. Trump promised to personally call Saudi Arabia's King Salman soon about "the terrible situation in Turkey."
"We're going to find out what happened," Trump pledged when questioned by reporters in Cincinnati where he was headlining a political rally.
Khashoggi, a forceful critic of the Saudi government, went missing more than a week ago after entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and Turkish officials have said they believe he was murdered there. U.S. officials say they are seeking answers from the Saudi government and are not yet accepting the Turkish government's conclusions.
The Saudis have called accusations that they are responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance "baseless." Widely broadcast video shows the 59-year-old writer and Washington Post contributor entering the consulate on Tuesday of last week, but there is none showing him leaving.
Separately, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, the State Department said Friday. No details of the conversation were released.
In an interview Friday with The Associated Press, Cengiz said Khashoggi was not nervous when he entered the Saudi consulate to obtain paperwork required for their marriage.
"He said, 'See you later my darling,' and went in," she told the AP.
Citing anonymous sources, the Post reported Friday that Turkey's government has told U.S. officials it has audio and video proof that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered. The AP has not been able to confirm that report. In written responses to questions by the AP, Cengiz said Turkish authorities had not told her about any recordings and Khashoggi was officially "still missing."
She said investigators were examining his cellphones, which he had left with her.
Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi left the consulate. He hasn't been seen since, though his fiancee was waiting outside.
Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia are important U.S. allies in the region. Trump said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will evaluate whether to attend a Saudi investor conference later this month. Mnuchin had indicated earlier Friday he still planned to attend.
On Thursday, Trump had said U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia were "excellent" and he was reluctant to scuttle highly lucrative U.S. weapons deals with Riyadh. A number of members of Congress have pressed the Trump administration to impose sanctions on the country in response to the Khashoggi affair.
A delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey on Friday as part of an investigation into the writer's disappearance. In a statement posted on Twitter, the Saudis welcomed the joint effort and said the kingdom was keen "to sustain the security and safety of its citizenry, wherever they might happen to be."
Cengiz said she and the journalist would have been married this week and had planned a life together split between Istanbul and the United States, where Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile since last year.
She had appealed for help to Trump, who earlier this week said he would invite her to the White House.
Cengiz didn't respond to a question about that, but earlier on Friday she urged Trump on Twitter to use his clout to find out what happened.
"What about Jamal Khashoggi?" she wrote in response to a tweet by Trump in which he said he said he had been "working very hard" to free an American evangelical pastor who has been held for two years in Turkey. Andrew Brunson was released late Friday.
Amid growing concern over Khashoggi's fate, French President Emmanuel Macron said his country wanted to know "the whole truth" about the writer's disappearance, calling the early details about the case "very worrying."
Macron said "I'm waiting for the truth and complete clarity to be made" since the matter is "very serious." He spoke Friday in Yerevan, Armenia, to French broadcasters RFI and France 24.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Berlin was also "very concerned" about the writer's disappearance and called on Saudi Arabia to "participate fully" in clearing up reports that he had been killed.
Global business leaders began reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia, stoking pressure on the Gulf kingdom to explain what happened to Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, who was considered close to the Saudi royal family, had become a critic of the current government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old heir apparent who has introduced reforms but has shown little tolerance for criticism.
As a contributor to The Washington Post, Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticism of its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.
Those policies are all seen as initiatives of the crown prince, who has also presided over a roundup of activists and businessmen.
Mexico Beach, Oct 13 (AP/UNB) — Tom Garcia watched in terror as fingers of water pushed inland across the beach and began filling up his home.
His wife handed him a drill and Garcia used screws to pin his front and back door shut. But soon the storm surge from Hurricane Michael was up to his chest. His dogs sat on his bed as it floated. He said it took all of his strength to hold his sliding door shut as the waters outside the glass rose higher than those flooding the house.
"It was life or death," Garcia said through tears Friday as he walked amid the destruction in Mexico Beach.
Michael was one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever make landfall in the U.S., and this Gulf Coast community of about 1,000 people was in its bullseye Wednesday. While most residents fled ahead of the storm's arrival, others stayed to face the hurricane.
They barely escaped as homes were smashed from their foundations, neighborhoods got submerged, and broken boards, sheet metal and other debris flew through the air.
Hector Morales, a 57-year-old restaurant cook, never even thought about evacuating. He grew up in Puerto Rico, where he said "you learn how to survive a storm."
His mobile home isn't on the beach. But the canal lined with boat docks behind his home quickly overflowed as the hurricane came inland. Soon, Morales said, his mobile home started floating.
"The water kept coming so fast, it started coming in from everywhere," he said as he sat outside on a broken set of stairs lying atop a mattress and other storm debris. "I had about 3 feet of water in my house. That's when I decided to jump."
He got through a window of his home on to the top of his car outside when Morales saw two neighbors wading through the rushing surge. He swam out and grabbed a utility pole, then reached out and helped steady the wading couple. They fought their way onto a fishing boat that had been tied to a palm tree and climbed inside.
Morales left his neighbors in a bathroom below the boat's deck, while he sat in the captain's chair. He said they stayed in the boat for six hours before the winds calmed and the surge receded.
"I lost everything — my clothes, wallet, credit cards," he said. "But I made it."
Bill Shockey, 86, refused when his daughter pleaded with him to leave Mexico Beach. He said he didn't want to leave behind his collection of "Gone with the Wind" dishes and antique dolls. So he stashed those valuables up high in a closet before heading to his daughter's newly built two-story home next door.
With a pocket full of cigars and his cat named Andy, Shockey watched the hurricane roll in from an upstairs bedroom. The wind shredded the roof of his single-story home. Water rose nearly to the top of his garage door. A neighbor's home across the street got shoved off its foundation.
Was he scared? "Worried, I think, is more like it," Shockey said.
His daughter's home took in some floodwaters downstairs, but was otherwise unscathed. Shockey's own home of 24 years didn't fare so well, though his collectibles survived.
"It's a wipe out," he said, adding that he plans to sell his property rather than rebuild. "Whenever they want, I'm going to move in with my son in Georgia."
For years, Hal Summers has managed Killer Seafood, a Mexico Beach restaurant known for its tuna tacos. Michael destroyed the eatery as well as Summers' townhome on the beach. Summers rode out the storm at his parent's house nearby. They had evacuated, but an elderly friend was staying there and Summers promised to watch him.
Summers knew they had to get out when, about 30 minutes after the storm made landfall, water surging into the home's kitchen rose up to his neck. He opened the front door and fell in deeper when he tried to step onto front stairs that had washed away.
Summers said his parents recently added a large, outdoor bathroom onto their home and he saw the door was open. The large sink was still above the water. He grabbed a bench that was floating by, and shoved it into the open bathroom to give them something to stand on. Then he helped the elderly man inside.
"I knew we could sit on the sink or we could stand on the sink if we had to," Summers said. "I had to hold the door shut or it would just keep flooding. There was a little crack and I could just see everything flying. I thought, 'Oh my God.'"
They never had to stand on the bathroom sink. Finally, the flooding receded.
While Garcia and his wife survived the hurricane's wrath, he was out Friday searching for his daughter and mother. Kristen Garcia, 32, and her 90-year-old grandmother, Jadwiga Garcia, were staying in a second-floor beachfront apartment Wednesday as the storm came ashore.
Garcia said his daughter called him to say the apartment was flooding and they had taken shelter in the bathroom. He hadn't seen them in the two days since the storm passed, and hadn't been able to gain access to their apartment.
He had tears in his eyes recalling their last conversation.
"She said, 'Dad, get down here,'" Garcia said. "I said, 'It's too late.'"
Port Dickson, Oct 13 (AP/UNB) — Voting opened Saturday in a by-election that is expected to see charismatic Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim win a parliamentary seat and return to active politics as he prepare for his eventual takeover from Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Anwar was designated the successor to Mahathir, his former foe turned ally, after they set aside a bitter political feud and joined hands to win a stunning victory in May's general elections. Anwar couldn't participate in the polls due to a 2015 conviction for sodomy — a charge he alleged was politically motivated — but he was freed after receiving a royal pardon days after the polls.
Thousands of voters flocked to polling stations in the southern coastal town of Port Dickson, where Anwar is vying for a seat along with six other candidates. He is expected to easily win.
Two weeks of campaigning has seen bigwigs rallying for Anwar, including Mahathir and several ministers.
The Election Commission said it expects a 70 percent turnout from more than 75,000 voters in Port Dickson, a popular holiday retreat, and will announce results Saturday night.
Anwar was once a high-flying member of the former ruling coalition but was convicted of homosexual sodomy and corruption after a power struggle in 1998 with Mahathir, who was prime minister for 22 years until 2003. Anwar was freed in 2004 and in 2015 was convicted again of sodomy — charges he said were concocted to destroy his political career.
Angered by a monumental graft scandal at a state investment fund, Mahathir made a political comeback and the two forged a new opposition alliance in a gamble that paid off.
Mahathir, who is the world's oldest leader at 93, has said he expects to be in office for at least two years and will keep his promise to hand over power to Anwar.
Mahathir rooted for his successor at a rally Monday night in Port Dickson, urging voters to support their alliance to fix Malaysia's fiscal woes due to corruption by the previous government. It was the first time that the two men shared the same political stage together in 20 years.
Anwar, in speeches ending his campaign Friday, promised he won't interfere in Mahathir's governance and will focus on parliamentary reforms.
"There will be lots of attention to (his margin of victory) but that is making a story about something that is not really important. The bottom line is that he will win and attention should focus on what he will do in parliament and his relationship with those in government," said Bridget Welsh, political science lecturer at the John Cabot University in Rome.
Panama City, Oct 13 (AP/UNB) — The Internal Revenue Service says victims of Hurricane Michael will get a grace period before having to file some tax returns and payments.
The IRS said Friday it's offering the relief in parts of Florida and other regions that may be added later to the disaster area as designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Individuals who had a valid extension to Oct. 15 for filing their 2017 return now will have until Feb. 28, 2019, to file. Because tax payments related to the 2017 returns were due on April 18, however, those payments don't qualify for relief.
The new Feb. 28 deadline also applies to quarterly estimated income-tax payments normally due on Jan. 15, 2019, and to quarterly payroll and excise tax returns due on Oct. 31, 2018 and Jan. 31, 2019. The IRS says it will automatically provide relief for people with addresses in the counties designated a disaster area.
Taxpayers who qualify for relief but live outside the disaster area can call the IRS at 866-562-5227.
Florida emergency officials say they have rescued nearly 200 people and checked 25,000 structures since Hurricane Michael battered the state this week.
In a briefing at the state emergency operations center in Tallahassee on Friday evening, authorities said they had wrapped up their initial rapid searches and had begun more-intense searches including inspecting collapsed buildings.
The officials say they've completed 40 percent of these "secondary" searches and hope to finish up during daylight hours on Saturday.
Police in Virginia have identified another person who died after Tropical Storm Michael blew through the state on its way out to sea.
Danville police said in a statement on Friday that 60-year-old Jennifer Bjarnesen Mitchell of Danville died Thursday evening. Police said floodwaters had stranded and then overcome her vehicle.
She was the second person to die in Danville during the flooding. Police say that earlier that day, 53-year-old William Lynn Tanksley died after being swept away from his vehicle.
Virginia State Police said Friday that there have been five deaths in the state connected to Michael. They include a firefighter who was struck and killed by a truck outside Richmond.
After moving offshore in recent weeks, a toxic algae bloom has returned to the beaches of the Tampa area, blown in from Hurricane Michael.
Measurements posted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on its red tide website showed high concentrations off some Pinellas County, Florida, beaches on Thursday.
Residents were hoping the hurricane would have the opposite effect and blow it farther offshore.
Red tide in the Gulf of Mexico off southwest Florida began last October after Hurricane Irma ravaged the state.
It has killed massive amounts of marine life and caused respiratory irritations in people. The bloom has spread to Florida's Panhandle and the Miami area.
An official leading search-and-rescue efforts in one of the Florida communities hit hardest by Hurricane Michael says searchers have found at least one body.
Joseph Zahralban is Miami's fire chief. On Friday, he was in Mexico Beach on the Gulf Coast acting as a task force leader for a search-and-rescue unit. He told The Associated Press that searchers found the storm victim among the devastation in Mexico Beach and surrounding Bay County.
He said he was trying to determine if the deceased individual was alone or part of a family.
Zahralban says teams on their first sweep of Mexico Beach on Thursday rescued some people with minor injuries and helped others who rode out the storm and found themselves with no way to leave.
The death toll across the South from Hurricane Michael stood at 13, not counting any victims in Mexico Beach.
This item has been updated and clarified to show that only one body had been found.
Oil and gas workers are returning to drilling rigs and production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, but oil production remains down by about one-third as operations are restarted.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a report Friday that 32.4 percent of oil production and a little more than 13 percent of natural gas production in the Gulf remained shut down. The agency bases its estimates on daily reports from operators.
The bureau says workers remained evacuated from only nine of the 687 staffed platforms in the Gulf, and that all unmoored rigs that were moved as the storm approached have returned to their drilling spots.
The Walt Disney Co. is donating $1 million for relief efforts to areas devastated by Hurricane Michael.
The company said Friday in a news release that the money will be funneled through the Florida Disaster Fund.
The news release also says contributions from employees to eligible relief groups will be matched dollar-for-dollar through a matching gifts program.
Disney has a 70,000-person workforce in Florida at its Walt Disney World theme park resort in the Orlando area.
President Donald Trump says he'll visit Florida and Georgia early next week to assess damage from Hurricane Michael.
Trump announced his plans on Twitter on Friday but didn't say what day he'll visit the affected areas.
Trump also tweeted that "people have no idea how hard Hurricane Michael has hit the great state of Georgia."
Michael struck the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane earlier this week. One of the hardest-hit spots in Florida is Mexico Beach, where entire blocks of homes have been destroyed. The storm then raced through Georgia, the Carolinas and on to Virginia.
Trump says the administration is "working very hard on every area and every state that was hit."
He adds: "We are with you!"
Gaza City, Oct 13 (AP/UNB) — Israeli forces shot dead six Palestinians Friday, four of them in a single incident, in one of the deadliest days in months of mass protests along the security fence separating Gaza and Israel, Gaza's Health Ministry said.
The ministry said four were killed in one location, where the Israeli military said it opened fire on a crowed of Palestinians who breached the fence and approached an army post. No Israeli troops were harmed, the army added.
Two other Palestinians were killed in other protest locations, the ministry said, adding that at least 140 Palestinians were wounded by live bullets.
The Israeli military said 14,000 Palestinians thronged the border fence areas, burning tires and throwing rocks, firebombs and grenades at soldiers stationed atop earth mounds on the other side of the barrier.
Since March, Hamas has orchestrated near-weekly protests along the fence, pressing for an end to a stifling Israel-Egyptian blockade imposed since the militant group wrested control of Gaza in 2007.
Hamas' chief, Ismail Haniyeh, who attended a protest in east Gaza City, said that "the determination of the Palestinian people will break the siege."
More than 150 Palestinians participating in or present at the marches have been killed since they began. In May, about 60 protesters were killed in a single day, making it one of the deadliest since a 2014 war between the two sides.
The blockade has restricted Hamas' ability to govern and plagued most of Gaza's 2 million residents. Electricity is supplied for roughly four hours a day, unemployment stands at more than 50 percent and tap water is unpotable.
Repeated attempts to reconcile Hamas and the West Bank-based administration of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have all but faltered, increasing the desperation that has in large part fueled the demonstrations.
This week, the United Nations began supervising deliveries of Qatari-donated diesel fuel meant to restart Gaza's only power plant to increase electricity supplies and mitigate the crisis. The station has yet to operate.
Hamas seeks a cease-fire with Israel securing an easing of the blockade but accuses its rivals in the West Bank of thwarting the effort. In recent weeks, it has stepped up its campaign, holding nighttime protests and adding new locations such as along the beach. Hamas says the escalation of protests is a response to the unresolved cease-fire talks.