Frustrated travelers are meeting transportation chaos around France for a second day on Friday, as unions dig in for what they hope is a protracted strike against government plans to redesign the national retirement system.
Most French trains were at a halt, including Paris subways, and traffic jams multiplied around the country.
Emboldened by the biggest outpouring of public anger since President Emmanuel Macron took office, unions are holding meetings Friday to plan their next steps.
At least 800,000 people marched nationwide on Thursday, as strikes shuttered schools and some public services and disrupted hospitals and refineries. Police fired repeated volleys of tear gas and protesters set fires in Paris, but most demonstrators were peaceful.
Macron is determined to push through the changes to France's convoluted and relatively generous retirement system, seeing them as central to his plans to transform the French economy.
Opponents fear the changes to how and when workers can retire will threaten the hard-fought French way of life and worry that the plan will push them to work longer, for less retirement pay.
Macron's government has been negotiating with unions and others for months about the plan but won't release the details of the changes until next week.
Four people, including a UPS driver, were killed Thursday after robbers stole the driver's truck and led police on a chase that ended in gunfire at a busy South Florida intersection during rush hour, the FBI said.
Both robbers were shot and killed, and the fourth victim was in a nearby vehicle when shots rang out at a crowded intersection in Miramar, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of where the incident began, FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro said during a news conference Thursday night.
Television news helicopters showed first responders tending to at least one person who fell out of the UPS truck, moments after several shots were fired when the chase ended.
"It's very early in the investigative process," Piro said. "There are a lot of questions that are still unanswered."
In Coral Gables, where the incident began, police said a jewelry store worker was also injured but did not say if she had been shot. There was no immediate update on her condition.
It all started shortly after 4 p.m., when police in Coral Gables received a silent alarm at the Regent Jewelers store in the city's Miracle Mile area, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) west of Miami. Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak said during a news conference that two suspects were at the store and that shots were being fired when police, summoned by a silent alarm from inside the store, arrived.
The suspects fled in a truck, then carjacked the UPS delivery truck and its driver not long afterward to start the chase into the southern portion of Broward County, running red lights and narrowly avoiding some crashes along the way. The UPS truck finally stopped in one of the middle lanes of a busy roadway, caught behind a wall of other vehicles waiting for a red light to turn green. Television footage showed several officers on foot, some with guns drawn, approaching the truck from the rear and the driver's side once it stopped.
Katherine Gonzalez said officers were in front of her vehicle, a few feet away from the UPS truck, when the shootout started "out of nowhere."
"It was shocking," she said.
News helicopters were following the chase and at least one showed the conclusion live, with one person falling out of the vehicle's passenger side after several shots were fired. It was unclear if the shots were fired from inside the truck, from law enforcement who were moving in or some combination thereof. The fourth victim, in another car at the intersection, was "an innocent bystander," Piro said.
"This is what dangerous people do to get away," Hudak said. "And this is what people will do to avoid capture."
Piro was asked if there was a chance that either the driver or the bystander may have been hit by a bullet fired by police.
"It is very, very early on in the investigation and it would be completely inappropriate to discuss that," Piro said. "We have just began to process the crime scene. As you can imagine, this is going to be a very complicated crime scene."
During the robbery, a bullet hit a window at Coral Gables' City Hall, which was locked down, Hudak said. No one inside City Hall was believed to be injured, Hudak said.
Hudak said officers responded within 90 seconds, including one officer on foot who was involved in a nearby traffic stop. It was not immediately clear if anything from the jewelry store was taken, Hudak said.
Hours after the chase ended, medical gauze, wrappers and other debris remained strewn across the Miramar roadway's middle lane, next to the truck which still had its right rear door open. Traffic remained snarled, and it was not clear how long it would take investigators to clear the scene.
There are multiple crime scenes — the jewelry store, the site where the UPS truck was stolen, and the intersection where the incident ended, adding to the challenge investigators will face in piecing together the details.
UPS spokesman David Graves said the company would cooperate with authorities.
"We are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence," Graves said in a statement. "We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employee and the other innocent victims involved in this incident."
Steven Lacchin grew up a fatherless boy, but he knew some very basic facts about the man who was his father.
He knew Lacchin, the name on his Kenyan birth certificate, was his dad's name. He knew that Mario Lacchin abandoned him and his mother.
When he was older, he learned that his father was an Italian missionary priest — and that in leaving, he had chosen the church over his child.
What he did not know is that less than 10 kilometers (6 miles) away, another man was on a quest to prove that Mario Lacchin was his father, too.
These two men would find each other thanks to an Associated Press story that appeared on the front page of Kenya's main newspaper. All agreed that they bore a marked resemblance, but they underwent genetic testing to be certain.
Were they indeed half-brothers — sons of the same Father?
The Vatican only publicly admitted this year that it had a problem: Priests were fathering children. And it only acknowledged the problem by revealing that it had crafted internal guidelines to deal with it.
"I don't know how many children of priests there are in the world, but I know that they are all over the planet," said Anne-Marie Jarzac, who heads the French group Enfants du Silence (Children of Silence), which recently opened negotiations with French bishops to access church archives so these children of priests can learn their true identities.
Just as clergy sex abuse victims have long suffered the indifference of the Catholic hierarchy, many of these children of priests endure rejection multiple times over: abandoned by their fathers, deprived of their identities and ignored by church superiors when they seek answers or help.
Steven Lacchin's lineage was no secret. Members of Mario Lacchin's order were well aware of it and exerted pressure on him to choose the church over his young family, according to his letters.
His mother, Madeleine, kept a decade worth of correspondence with the priest, as well as meticulous records of her efforts to seek child support from the Consolata leadership and regional bishops after Steven was born June 21, 1980. (Steven Lacchin asked that his mother be identified only by her first name.)
The two had met two years earlier in Nanyuki, about 200 kilometers north of Nairobi, where Madeleine was a school teacher at an all-girls school and Lacchin would celebrate Mass. Madeleine would later tell the Consolata regional superior that she first went to Lacchin with "a spiritual problem," but that they then eased into a "friendly pastor-parishioner" relationship that grew into love.
On July 28, 1979, Mario Lacchin wrote a birthday card to Madeleine in his neat cursive, promising to spend more time with her and her young daughter from a previous relationship, Josephine, despite the risks their union posed.
"I do really love you with all my heart and body," he wrote. "You are the only one who is giving me, not only physical satisfaction, but a lot more. You are telling me and teaching me how beautiful it is to love and be together no matter the sacrifices we have to make for it."
Soon after, Madeleine became pregnant. A few months before Steven was born, Lacchin wrote from Rome about meetings he held with the Consolata leadership at the order's headquarters about his impending fatherhood.
"I had a little trouble in Rome with my superiors," he wrote Madeleine on March 4, 1980. "It is my impression that nobody is going to help me in the way I would like to go," he wrote, adding: "How is the baby?"
By the end of 1981 — with Steven Lacchin a year old — the priest seemed determined to end his "double life" and devote himself to his family.
"I took a courage to meet with my provincial superior about you, about Steven, about my readiness to leave the priesthood," he wrote. "I want you, and I will fight until I will be with you, Steven and Josephine forever."
But in that same letter, Lacchin told Madeleine that his superior wasn't at all on board with the plan. "He told me that he wants to save my priesthood, but I told him that I will never be able to continue in such a life knowing I had a child belong to me," he wrote.
Lacchin never left the Consolatas. His letters over the following years speak of his order's "pressure" to remain a priest, as well as his own feelings of "failure" and his apologies for having promised Madeleine "a future which will never come."
While the Vatican was loath in those years to let a priest abandon his vocation, the Consolata's deputy superior, the Rev. James Lengarin, insists that if a priest formally requested to be released from his vows because he had fathered a child, he would have been allowed to go.
By 1985, Madeleine was increasingly unable to care for the children. She was ill, and shunned by her devout Catholic family because of her liaison with Lacchin.
Lacchin, then stationed in Uganda, had left 1.7 million Ugandan shillings for her in the Ugandan diocese of Tororo that year (the equivalent at the time of $2,500), but in the midst of a civil war, Madeleine couldn't access the money. Due to the upheaval, the money lost nearly all its value.
Two years later, Madeleine wrote to Lacchin's superiors seeking financial and bureaucratic help as she increasingly feared for Steven's future. Who would pay for his education? And the child couldn't get Kenyan citizenship because his father wasn't Kenyan; Steven Lacchin's birth certificate and other identity papers all bore Mario Lacchin's name.
The Consolatas then-regional superior, the Rev. Mario Barbero, replied that he understood Lacchin had left money for Steven's care in Uganda.
"With this I think that Mario has given some contribution towards meeting the expenses for Steven's upbringing, though I know that money is not enough to heal psychological wounds and frustrations you had to go through," Barbero wrote.
A year later, Madeleine took her case directly to Lacchin.
"Even as I write, I find it difficult to believe that you, Mario, could turn me into the helpless beggar I am," she wrote on Jan. 5, 1988.
"I accepted your decision regarding me, and yet I cannot accept your hiding behind the priesthood to refuse to help a child you helped bring into the world," she wrote. "I do not know what you think he will think of you and of your priesthood and other priests when he grows up and learns how you treated him."
By then, Mario Lacchin had been transferred north and was working at the Consolata mission in Archer's Post, a onetime trading station in the Northern Rift Valley. There, he met Sabina Losirkale, a young girl in her final year at Gir Gir Primary School who cleaned the Consolata priests' quarters after classes.
Impregnated at 16 — before the age of legal consent in Kenya — she would give birth to a boy, Gerald Erebon, on March 12, 1989. He was pale complexioned, unlike his black mother or siblings or the black man he was told was his father.
When Sabina became pregnant, the Consolatas transferred Lacchin out of Archer's Post, and he vanished from her life.
Shortly before her death in 2012, family members say, Sabina told them Lacchin was Gerald's father. The priest has denied it, and refused to take a paternity test. The order acknowledged nothing.
The AP told Gerald Erebon's story in October. That article led Steven Lecchin to reach out to Erebon on Facebook.
"I saw your story and I feel for you," he wrote. "I am letting you know, you are not alone."
Intrigued, but sceptical, Erebon responded. What did the writer want to share?
"He is my dad too," Lacchin replied.
A few days later, the two met in Nairobi. It turns out they are practically neighbors, living in adjacent neighborhoods along Nairobi's main Magadi Road. They marvelled at how much they looked alike: two bi-racial men born to black African mothers, soft-spoken and pensive, though Erebon towers over Steven.
Awkwardly, they hugged for the first time and looked over the documentation Steven had brought along detailing the years-long relationship between Lacchin and his mother and her efforts to hold him responsible for Steven's upkeep.
They shared the stories of their lives. Like Erebon, Steven Lacchin was brought up in the church and attended seminary for a time. Steven said he was kicked out once his bishop discovered that his father was a Catholic priest. Eventually he was able to put himself through law school, and now is married with four children.
"I wouldn't need a DNA to tell these two are brothers," said Lacchin's wife, Ruth. "If you look at Mario, you look at Steven, you look at Gerald, it's one person. It's one tree. They are brothers!"
Still, they needed to know. The AP arranged for DNA tests.
Two weeks later, the results were in: The findings were "entirely consistent with a direct male-line biological relationship," the lab said.
In other words, the men are almost certainly half-brothers, said Darren Griffin, a geneticist at the University of Kent who reviewed the lab results for AP.
"The only thing I can say is welcome to the family!" Lacchin told Erebon, shaking his hand.
"This is eternal," Lacchin said. "We can't run away from this. We may go our separate ways, but one thing, you know you have a brother out there."
Erebon said he had thought he was alone, and having "a relative, a family, someone you can call your own, makes it a bit easier for me now."
Mario Lacchin, who has taken a leave from his parish work in Nairobi to see his Italian relatives, didn't respond to a request for comment.
Lengarin, the deputy Consolata superior, said he searched the order's Nairobi archives in 2018 after Erebon came forward and turned up no information about Erebon or Steven Lacchin. But he acknowledged that he only looked into the two years surrounding Erebon's 1989 birth, and that the order doesn't keep complete personnel files.
He said AP's inquiry about Steven Lacchin was the first the order in Rome and Nairobi had heard about a possible second son of Mario Lacchin.
But Steven's mother was in touch with the Consolata superiors in the 1980s. Steven sent letters to Consolata officials in Nairobi in 2010 and 2014, seeking financial assistance (he wanted to buy land to build a home for his family) along with help sorting out his citizenship status.
Getting no response, starting in 2016 he made the same requests of Mario Lacchin's bishop, Virgilio Pante — like Mario Lacchin, an Italian member of the Consolata order.
Pante responded with an Oct. 14, 2017, text: "You look for something big. My diocese of Maralal now financially is suffering. True. Can I send you now a Christmas gift 25,000?" (In Kenyan shillings, the equivalent of around $250.)
Steven still wants the church's help in ironing out his Kenyan and Italian citizenship issues; Erebon wants Mario Lacchin to acknowledge his paternity, so the heritage of his own two children can be recognized and they can obtain Italian citizenship.
"It started very long time ago and our father has to do the right thing, at least once," Erebon said. "He needs to make it right. And the church should not continue with the cover-up. They should just make this right."
A Moscow court on Friday handed a suspended sentence to a student vlogger on charges of inciting protests.
Yegor Zhukov, 21, was arrested in August on accusations of making extremist calls on his YouTube vlog. He is among several dozen people who faced charges for their role in the past summer's protests in Moscow.
Moscow's Kuntsevo District Court gave Zhukov a three-year suspended sentence and banned him from administering websites for two years.
A series of protests in Moscow were sparked by the authorities' refusal to register a dozen opposition and independent candidates for September's city council vote. They attracted crowds of up to 60,000, the largest show of discontent against President Vladimir Putin's rule in seven years.
Ask voters in this picturesque university town in eastern Scotland how they're voting in next week's election, and they're likely to transition seamlessly from talking about which candidate they want to send to Parliament to discussing whether or not they want another bite at voting for Scottish independence, which voters rejected in 2014.
The question of Scotland's independence from the rest of the United Kingdom is not on the ballot, but it's uppermost in the minds of many voters in St. Andrews, and elsewhere in Scotland, as they make their final choices.
That's because the decision to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union — known as Brexit — has upended the political landscape and exposed old divisions among England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, fraying the ties that bind the U.K. In Scotland, that means talk of independence. In Northern Ireland, it means fears that the sectarian violence that plagued it for decades could return.
These issues, and Brexit itself, are just below the surface in the Dec. 12 general election. Rarely has an election been so fraught with implications for the future of the United Kingdom, a structure often taken for granted because of its familiar symbols — the queen who has reigned for more than six decades, the Parliament that is centuries old — but is vulnerable as it engineers a radical change in its relations with the rest of Europe.
Voters in Scotland overwhelmingly chose to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, so it's fair to say Scotland is being dragged through Brexit against its will.
The North East Fife district that is home to St. Andrews was the tightest in the United Kingdom's last general election — only two votes meant victory for the Scottish Nationalists over the Liberal Democrats in 2017 — and the foes are grappling again. While they are united in their rejection of Brexit, they are divided over whether Scotland should vote, again, on its own independence.
The Scottish Nationalists say yes, that Brexit is so dire it merits another vote on whether Scotland, an economic player in its own right, blessed with ample energy resources, natural beauty, and a rich tradition of self-sufficiency, should forge its own way as an independent nation. The Liberals, meanwhile, remain committed to remaining inside the U.K., even if Britain extricates itself from the European Union as scheduled on Jan. 31.
Retired boxer Chris Honess has no doubt where he stands: He's going to vote against the Scottish Nationalists with the hope of quelling talk of another independence referendum. He thinks the whole structure of European defense would be threatened if Scotland breaks away.
"I am 100% against the breakup of the United Kingdom," said Honess, 69. "I think we're very good at complaining, actually the U.K. works very, very well. If the SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party) were to succeed in breaking up the United Kingdom that would definitely weaken NATO, and I'm a huge supporter of NATO."
If no party gets an outright majority in the upcoming vote, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon had made clear that any party looking for her backing in a coalition government will have to agree to authorize Scotland to hold another independence referendum — and to accept the results.
John Curtice, a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, said the debate over independence and Brexit are now closely "interlaced" in Scotland. He says the results in North East Fife and many Scottish districts in the coming election are extremely hard to predict.
"When you're talking about Brexit, you're also tending to talk about independence," he said. "Änd when you're talking about independence, you're also talking about Brexit."
It's not just in Scotland. In Northern Ireland, some believe the election, if it brings the current Brexit deal to reality, could nudge Northern Ireland away from the U.K. and closer to the Republic of Ireland. That's a fraught issue.
The current Brexit plan, which is expected to win swift approval if Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives win a majority, would keep Northern Ireland bound more closely to EU trade rules than the rest of the U.K. in order to avoid border checks with EU member Ireland. That, in turn, could mean new checks on trade between Northern Ireland and other parts of the U.K.
Some who fervently want — or fear— a united Ireland believe that might be a fateful first step toward that end. And any changes, even small ones, to the delicate balance that defines Northern Ireland's status could have big consequences.
Back in Scotland, heavily tattooed hairstylist Craig Boyd, who runs a small salon, says he's backing the Scottish Nationalists next week with hopes of getting a chance to vote on independence again. He says that's far more important to him than the Brexit issue.
"I voted for independence the first time around, and I'll vote for it the second time around," he said. "Whether that is under remaining in the (European) single market and the union, who knows? But either way I'd like to see independence for Scotland."
But Johnnie Balfour, whose family has operated Balbirnie Farm since 1642, is tired of all the back and forth over independence. He remembers that voters were told ahead of the 2014 vote that this was a "once in a generation" decision — he doesn't want to revisit it just five years later.
"It's another form of uncertainty," he said. "The fact that we are still going on about it…. Let's run this country in the way that we voted to do it in 2014 and let's not muck about anymore."