Seoul, Oct 8 (AP/UNB) – U.S. and North Korean officials are offering positive reviews for the latest meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
In Washington, President Donald Trump tweeted that he looked forward to meeting Kim again in the near future. The state-run Korean Central News Agency is calling the talks between Pompeo and Kim "productive and wonderful."
Pompeo spent several hours in Pyongyang on his fourth visit to North Korea, saying Sunday he had a "good trip" and that he and Kim "continue to make progress on agreements made at the Singapore summit."
Neither Pompeo nor North Korea offered details.
Pompeo is on the third stop of a four-leg Asia tour that began in Japan and is scheduled to end in China on Monday.
Port-De-Paix, Oct 8 (AP/UNB) — A magnitude 5.2 aftershock struck Haiti on Sunday, even as survivors of the previous day's temblor were sifting through the rubble of their cinderblock homes. The death toll stood at 12, with fears it could rise.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of the aftershock was located 9.8 miles (15.8 kilometers) north-northwest of Port-de-Paix, the city hard hit by Saturday night's 5.9 magnitude earthquake. Sunday's aftershock had a depth of 10 kilometers.
"I don't feel save even inside my house," said Gary Joseph as he put various mattresses for himself and his two sons to sleep on under a tree outside the house in Port-de-Paix.
He pointed to cracks left by the quake and aftershock in a wall and said: "I have to protect myself and my sons."
The aftershock caused panic on streets where emergency teams were providing relief to victims of Saturday's quake, which toppled cinderblock homes and rickety buildings in several cities.
Haiti's civil protection agency said at least eight people died in the coastal city of Port-de-Paix and three people died in the nearby community of Gros-Morne in Artibonite province. Another person died in Saint-Louis du Nord, Communication Minister Eddy Jackson Alexis tweeted.
Among the dead from Saturday night's quake were a 5-year-old boy crushed by his collapsing house and a man killed in a falling auditorium. Authorities said 188 people were injured.
Impoverished Haiti, where many live in tenuous circumstances, is vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricanes. A vastly larger magnitude 7.1 quake damaged much of the capital in 2010 and killed an estimated 300,000 people.
"I feel like my life is not safe here," said nun Maryse Alsaint, director of the San Gabriel National School in Gros-Morne, where several classrooms were severely damaged.
She said that about 500 students would not be able to return to school on Monday.
President Jovenel Moise urged people to donate blood and asked international aid agencies to coordinate with local agencies to avoid duplicated efforts. By Sunday evening the government didn't provide an estimate of the damages.
The USGS said Saturday's quake was centered 12 miles (19 kilometers) northwest of Port-de-Paix, which is about 136 miles (219 kilometers) from the capital of Port-au-Prince.
It was felt lightly in the capital, as well as in the neighboring Dominican Republic and in eastern Cuba, where no damage was reported.
In Haiti, officials have struggled to shore up buildings despite the two major fault lines along Hispaniola, which is the island shared with the Dominican Republic.
The damage from the temblors was visible. In Gros-Morne, one bed was covered in rubble, while the exterior walls of some homes were visibly cracked. Others tilted at precarious angles.
Pierre Jacques Baudre, a farmer and father of seven, said he was afraid to return to his home after one wall built with rocks and cement crumbled.
"The house can fall at any time," he said.
Meanwhile, dozens of people could be seen sifting through debris before hauling away rebar to recycle and sell.
The civil protection agency issued a statement saying that houses were destroyed in Port-de-Paix, Gros-Morne, Chansolme and Turtle Island.
Damage was also reported at the Saint-Michel church in Plaisance and the police station in Port-de-Paix. Parts of a hospital and an auditorium collapsed in Gros-Morne, where parliamentarian Alcide Audne told The Associated Press that two of the deaths occurred.
Haiti President Jovenel Moise said on his Twitter account Sunday that civil protection brigades were working to clear debris. He also said the government had sent water and food.
Schoharie, Oct 7 (AP/UNB) — A crash involving a limousine at a popular upstate New York tourist spot killed 20 people, officials said Sunday.
Local officials told the Times Union of Albany that a limo speeding down a hill hit bystanders Saturday afternoon at the Apple Barrel Country Store in Schoharie, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) north of New York City. State police confirmed Sunday that the death toll was 20 and said the crash involved two vehicles.
The store is a popular stop for tourists on fall foliage trips.
Authorities on Sunday didn't release names of victims or other specifics, but state police set up a hotline for family members. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
An afternoon news conference is planned.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, the Apple Barrel Country Store thanked emergency responders for their actions in the aftermath of the "horrific" accident. On Sunday, the store posted that it was open "and could use your hugs."
Witnesses on Saturday described chaos, with a massive turnout of ambulances and other responders.
"I heard some screaming. It looked serious because people were running back and forth," Bridey Finegan of Schoharie told WNYT NewsChannel 13.
Sao Paulo, Oct 7 (AP/UNB) — Brazilians are choosing their leaders Sunday in an election marked by intense anger at the ruling class following years of political and economic turmoil, including what may be the largest corruption scandal in Latin American history.
Many had thought that "throw-the-bums-out" rage would buoy the chances of an outsider and end the hegemony of the center-left Workers' Party and the center-right Brazilian Social Democracy Party, which have for years battled it out for the presidency.
Like much in this election, it hasn't turned out as predicted. The man who has benefited most from the anger is a 27-year veteran of Congress — Jair Bolsonaro — whose outsider status is based largely on hard-right positions that have alienated as many as they have attracted — nostalgia for a military dictatorship, insults to women and gay people and calls to fight crime by loosening controls on already deadly police forces.
In second place is former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad of the Workers' Party, which has won the last four presidential elections.
Bolsonaro garnered 36 percent in the latest Datafolha poll, with Haddad 14 points behind. The poll interviewed 19,552 people Friday and Saturday and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points. If no one gets a majority on Sunday, a runoff will be held Oct. 28.
"In general, these are the strangest elections I've ever seen," said Monica de Bolle, director of Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins University. "It's shaping up to be a contest between the two weakest candidates possible."
The campaign to run Latin America's largest economy, which is a major trade partner for countries in the region and a diplomatic heavyweight, has been unpredictable and tense. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva led initial polls by a wide margin, but was banned from running after a corruption conviction. Bolsonaro was stabbed at a rally in early September and campaigned from a hospital bed in recent weeks. And all along, Brazilians have said their faith in their leaders and their hopes for the future are waning.
This election was once seen as the great hope for ending a turbulent era in which many politicians and business executives were jailed on corruption charges, a president was impeached and removed from office in controversial proceedings, and the economy suffered a protracted recession.
Instead, the two front-runners merely reflect the rabid divisions that have opened up in Brazilian politics following Dilma Rousseff's impeachment and the revelations emerging from the "Car Wash" graft probe.
Bolsonaro, whose base tends to be middle class, has painted a nation in collapse, where drug traffickers and politicians steal with equal impunity, and a moral rot has set in. He has advocated loosening gun ownership laws so individuals could fight off criminals, giving police a freer hand to use force and restoring "traditional" Brazilian values — though some take issue with his definition of those values in light of his approving allusions to the past military dictatorship and his repeated derisive comments about women, blacks and gay people.
"There is a strong desire for change," said Andre Portela, an economics professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a leading university and think tank. "Bolsonaro has been able to channel that and present himself as the bearer of change, though it's not clear if he really would be."
Haddad and the Workers' Party, meanwhile, have portrayed a country hijacked by an elite that will protect its privileges at all costs and can't bear to see the lives of poor and working class Brazilians improve.
Haddad has promised to roll back President Michel Temer's economic reforms that he says eroded workers' rights, to increase investment in social programs and to bring back the boom years Brazil experienced under his mentor, da Silva.
Caught in the middle are Brazilians who dislike both candidates and see them as symbols of a broken system.
Perhaps nothing has demonstrated the dysfunction more than the Car Wash investigation. Prosecutors alleged that Brazil's government was run like a cartel for years, handing out billions of dollars in public contracts in exchange for kickbacks and bribes. Revelations of suitcases of cash, leaked recordings of incriminating exchanges between powerbrokers and the jailing of some of the of the country's most powerful people unfolded like a Hollywood script — and then became one: Netflix released a (barely) fictionalized account of the probe this year.
Yet it's not clear that voters will reject the many politicians implicated in the scandal because the electoral system heavily favors incumbents and big parties.
The election has seen large increases in the numbers of candidates from marginalized groups, including black, indigenous and transgender Brazilians, and some think the anti-establishment feelings could translate into a more representative ruling class.
Washington, Oct 7 (AP/UNB) — Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in Saturday night as the 114th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, after a wrenching debate over sexual misconduct and judicial temperament that shattered the Senate, captivated the nation and ushered in an acrimonious new level of polarization — now encroaching on the court that the 53-year-old judge may well swing rightward for decades to come.
Even as Kavanaugh took his oath of office in a quiet private ceremony, not long after the narrowest Senate confirmation in nearly a century and a half, protesters chanted outside the court building across the street from the Capitol.
The climactic 50-48 roll call capped a fight that seized the national conversation after claims emerged that he had sexually assaulted women three decades ago — allegations he emphatically denied. Those accusations transformed the clash from a routine struggle over judicial ideology into an angry jumble of questions about victims' rights, the presumption of innocence and personal attacks on nominees.
His confirmation provides a defining accomplishment for President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, which found a unifying force in the cause of putting a new conservative majority on the court. Before the sexual accusations grabbed the Senate's and the nation's attention, Democrats had argued that Kavanaugh's rulings and writings as an appeals court judge had raised serious concerns about his views on abortion rights and a president's right to bat away legal probes.
Trump, flying to Kansas for a political rally, flashed a thumbs-up gesture when the tally was announced and praised Kavanaugh for being "able to withstand this horrible, horrible attack by the Democrats." He later telephoned his congratulations to the new justice, then at the rally returned to his own attack on the Democrats as "an angry left-wing mob."
Like Trump, senators at the Capitol predicted voters would react strongly by defeating the other party's candidates in next month's congressional elections.
"It's turned our base on fire," declared Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. But Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York forecast gains for his party instead: "Change must come from where change in America always begins: the ballot box."
The justices themselves made a quiet show of solidarity. Kavanaugh was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts and the man he's replacing, retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, as fellow Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan looked on — two conservatives and two liberals.
Still, Kagan noted the night before that Kennedy has been "a person who found the center" and 'it's not so clear we'll have that' now.
Noisy to the end, the Senate battle featured a call of the roll that was interrupted several times by protesters shouting in the spectators' gallery before Capitol Police removed them. Vice President Mike Pence presided, his potential tie-breaking vote unnecessary.
Trump has now put his stamp on the court with his second justice in as many years. Yet Kavanaugh is joining under a cloud. Accusations from several women remain under scrutiny, and House Democrats have pledged further investigation if they win the majority in November. Outside groups are culling an unusually long paper trail from his previous government and political work, with the National Archives and Records Administration expected to release a cache of millions of documents later this month.
Kavanaugh, a father of two, strenuously denied the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford, who says he sexually assaulted her when they were teens. An appellate court judge on the District of Columbia circuit for the past 12 years, he pushed for the Senate vote as hard as Republican leaders — not just to reach this capstone of his legal career, but in fighting to clear his name
After Ford's allegations, Democrats and their allies became engaged as seldom before, though there were obvious echoes of Thomas' combative confirmation over the sexual harassment accusations of Anita Hill, who worked for him at two federal agencies. Protesters began swarming Capitol Hill, creating a tense, confrontational atmosphere that put Capitol Police on edge.
As exhausted senators prepared for Saturday's vote, some were flanked by security guards. Hangers and worse have been delivered to their offices, a Roe v. Wade reference.
Some 164 people were arrested, most for demonstrating on the Capitol steps, 14 for disrupting the Senate's roll call vote.
McConnell told The Associated Press in an interview that the "mob" of opposition — confronting senators in the hallways and at their homes — united his narrowly divided GOP majority as Kavanaugh's confirmation teetered and will give momentum to his party chances this fall.
Beyond the sexual misconduct allegations, Democrats raised questions about Kavanaugh's temperament and impartiality after he delivered defiant, emotional, testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee where he denounced their party.
Schumer said Kavanaugh's "partisan screed" showed not only a temperament unfitting for the high court but a lack of objectivity that should make him ineligible to serve. At one point in the hearing, Kavanaugh blamed a Clinton-revenge conspiracy for the accusations against him.
The fight ended up less about judicial views than the sexual assault accusations that riveted the nation and are certain to continue a national debate and #MeToo reckoning that is yet to be resolved.
Republicans argued that a supplemental FBI investigation instigated by wavering GOP senators and ordered by the White House turned up no corroborating witnesses to the claims and that Kavanaugh had sterling credentials for the court. Democrats dismissed the truncated report as insufficient.
In the end, all but one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, lined up behind the judge. She said on the Senate floor late Friday that Kavanaugh is "a good man" but his "appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable."
In a twist, Murkowski voted "present" Saturday as a courtesy to Republican Kavanaugh supporter Steve Daines, who was to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding in Montana. That balanced out the absence without affecting the outcome, and gave Kavanaugh the same two-vote margin he'd have received had both lawmakers voted.
It was the closest roll call to confirm a justice since 1881, when Stanley Matthews was approved by 24-23, according to Senate records.
As the Senate tried to recover from its charged atmosphere, Murkowski's move offered a moment of civility. "I do hope that it reminds us that we can take very small steps to be gracious with one another and maybe those small gracious steps can lead to more," she said.
Republicans control the Senate by a meager 51-49 margin, and announcements of support Friday from Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine, along with Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, locked in the needed votes.
Manchin was the only Democrat to vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation. He expressed empathy for sexual assault victims, but said that after factoring in the FBI report, "I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution."
A procedural vote Friday made Saturday's confirmation a foregone conclusion. White House Counsel Don McGahn, who helped salvage Kavanaugh's nomination as it teetered, sat in the front row of the visitors' gallery for the vote with deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah.
Senators on both sides know they have work to do to put the chamber back together again after a ferocious debate that saw them arguing over the sordid details of high school drinking games, sexual allegations and cryptic yearbook entries.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said, "The Senate has been an embarrassment. We have a lot of work to do."