Monthly Archives: October 2016

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Iraqi special forces poised on eastern edge of Mosul

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BAZWAYA, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi special forces stood poised to enter Mosul in an offensive to drive out Islamic State militants after sweeping into the last village on the city’s eastern edge Monday while fending off suicide car bombs without losing a soldier.

Armored vehicles, including Abrams tanks, drew fire from mortars and small arms as they moved on the village of Bazwaya in an assault that began at dawn, while artillery and airstrikes hit IS positions.

By evening, the fighting had stopped and units took up positions less than a mile from Mosul’s eastern border and about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the center, two weeks into the offensive to retake Iraq’s second-largest city.

“We will enter the city of Mosul soon and liberate it from Daesh,” said Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of Iraq’s special forces, using an Arabic acronym for the extremists. He added that more than 20 militants had been killed while his forces suffered only one light injury from a fall.

Three suicide car bombers had tried to stop the advance before the army took control of Bazwaya, but the troops destroyed them, he said. The army said another unit, its 9th Division, had moved toward Mosul and was about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from its eastern outskirts, the neighborhood of Gogjali.

At one point, a Humvee packed with explosives raced ahead and tried to ram the approaching forces, but Iraqi troops opened fire, blowing it up. Plumes of smoke rose from IS positions hit by artillery and airstrikes that the army said came from the U.S.-led coalition.

State TV described the operation as a “battle of honor” to liberate the city, which was captured by IS from a superior yet neglected Iraqi force in 2014.

Some residents hung white flags on buildings and windows in a sign they would not resist government troops, said Maj. Salam al-Obeidi, a member of the special forces operation in Bazwaya. He said troops asked villagers to stay in their homes as Iraqi forces moved through the streets — a precaution against possible suicide bombers.

As night fell, broken glass in the streets glistened from the light of some burning houses, with several buildings suffering collapsed roofs from airstrikes. The army estimates hundreds of families are in the village, but few ventured out.

Since Oct. 17, Iraqi forces and their Kurdish allies, Sunni tribesmen and Shiite militias have been converging on Mosul from all directions. Entering Gogjali could be the start of a new slog for the troops, as they’ll be forced to engage in difficult, house-to-house fighting in more urban areas. The operation is expected to take weeks, if not months.

Iraqi forces have made uneven progress. Advances have been slower south of the city, with government troops still 20 miles (35 kilometers) away.

The U.S. military estimates IS has 3,000-5,000 fighters in Mosul and another 1,500-2,500 in its outer defensive belt. The total includes about 1,000 foreign fighters.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appeared on state TV in combat fatigues and urged IS fighters in Mosul to surrender.

“We will close in on Daesh from all angles and, God willing, we will cut the snake’s head,” he said while visiting troops in the town of Shura, south of Mosul.

“They will have no way out, and no way to escape,” he said. “Either they die, or surrender.”

On Sunday, thousands of fighters flocked to join Iraq’s state-sanctioned, Iran-backed Shiite militias who aim to cut off Mosul from the west. In a series of apparent retaliatory attacks, bombs exploded in five of Baghdad’s mostly Shiite neighborhoods, killing at least 17 people.

The deadliest — a parked car bomb — hit a popular fruit and vegetable market near a school in the northwestern Hurriyah area, killing at least 10 people and wounding 34. IS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Separate attacks Monday in and around Baghdad killed at least 16 people and wounded about 50, police said. The deadliest was in the northwestern Shalla neighborhood when a car bomb ripped through a popular market area, killing at least eight civilians and wounding 23, police said.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information.


A man rides his bike on a street as smoke rises from burning oil fields in Qayara, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq, Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. For two weeks, Iraqi forces and their Kurdish allies, Sunni tribesmen and Shiite militias have been converging on Mosul from multiple directions to drive Islamic State militants from Iraq’s second largest city. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Associated Press writers Brian Rohan and Sinan Salah in Baghdad, and Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.

Upset at being sidelined in talks, Pakistan warns Taliban

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ISLAMABAD (AP) — Two senior Taliban figures said that Pakistan issued a stark warning to the militant group, apparently surprised and angered over being excluded from the insurgents’ secret talks with the Afghan government.

They said the Pakistani government warned the Taliban that unless they consult with Islamabad during the negotiations all top Taliban leaders will be forced to leave Pakistan along with their families.

The Islamabad ultimatum was given last week to a three-person Taliban delegation visiting Pakistan from Qatar, where the militant group’s political office is located, said the two Taliban figures. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the talks.

Pakistan’s government declined to comment on Monday. It denies Afghan accusations that Islamabad is providing a safe haven to the Taliban.

“We won’t communicate with the Taliban through the media. I have no comment to make,” said Sartaj Aziz, a government adviser on foreign affairs.

The three members of the Taliban delegation are Mullah Salam Hanifi and Mullah Jan Mohammed, both former ministers in the Taliban government, and Maulvi Shahabuddin Dilawar, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan . They arrived from Qatar two weeks ago, apparently aiming to smooth Pakistan’s ruffled feathers after it was revealed that the Taliban held secret talks with the Afghan government in September and October.

Under pressure from both Washington and Kabul to get the Taliban to the negotiating table, Islamabad has been frustrated by the refusal of Taliban leaders living in Pakistan to participate in talks.

The three Taliban representatives are now in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan province, to brief other leaders of the group about their discussions with Pakistani officials, said the two Taliban figures.

Many of the Taliban leaders living in Pakistan are accompanied by their children, who attend school in the country. Several also own property and businesses in Pakistan. Some of them trace their association with Pakistan back three decades. Although the Taliban have carved out some areas in Afghanistan where they can live in relative safety, it would be difficult for them to move there with their families, especially with children, who would have no access to school.

While Pakistan provides health care to wounded Taliban fighters and shelter to many of its leaders, the relationship between the two is often quarrelsome and tainted with mistrust on both sides.

In one of several official Taliban What’s App groups, an app that the insurgent group uses to chat, as well as for issuing claims of responsibility for attacks and sharing pictures, the militants recently accused Pakistan of helping the United States kill Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who died in May in a U.S.-drone strike in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province.

Several senior Taliban are in jail in Pakistan, either for refusing Pakistan’s demands to open peace talks or for talking to Afghan government officials without involving Pakistan. During their meetings, the Taliban delegation wanted information on group members currently in jail, the two Taliban officials told The Associated Press.

Among those in jail is Mullah Nanai, a former intelligence chief during Mansour’s rule. Nanai was arrested earlier this month after he reportedly refused to take part in the quadrilateral talks involving the United States, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, said the Taliban officials.

Pakistan also tried to arrest Amir Khan Muttaqi, who was one of the most senior ministers in the Taliban’s government and opposed talks. He was not home at the time of the raid in Quetta, officials said.

Further complicating efforts to forge ahead with talks aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan are the divisions within the Taliban over whether to participate in negotiations. Many of the militant group’s foot soldiers have balked at talks, particularly given their recent battlefield successes. Nanai and Muttaqi are also flatly opposed to Afghanistan peace negotiations, yet the Taliban’s Doha office has held talks.

Earlier this month, the former head of the Taliban’s Doha political office, Tayyab Aga, wrote a letter addressed to the Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada in which he called for Islamabad to be excluded from talks with the Afghan government and urged all Taliban leaders to leave Pakistan. He also urged the Taliban to drop its name, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, a longstanding demand of the Afghan government, and instead refer to themselves as a movement.

The letter was released to Radio Free Europe’s Pashto-language Mashaal Radio.


FILE – In this May 27, 2016 file photo, Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan. Two senior Taliban figures said that Pakistan has issued a stark warning to the militant group, apparently surprised over being excluded from the insurgents’ secret talks with the Afghan government. (AP Photos/Allauddin Khan, File)

Third phase of Flint water line replacement program starts

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FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Lead and galvanized steel service lines are being replaced in dozens of Flint homes as the city moves into the third phase of a plan to stop lead-tainted water from coming out of residential taps.

Crews from one company already started switching out some lines, while a second firm on Tuesday will begin replacing lines that lead from water mains to residential meters, Mayor Karen Weaver said Monday.

Lines to 33 Flint homes were replaced earlier this year under the first phase of Weaver’s FAST Start initiative. Another 218 had new lines installed under phase two. Weaver said service lines to 788 Flint homes will be replaced under the third phase.

“It’s my goal that 1,000 homes have new service lines by the end of the year, and that thousands more residents get safer, cleaner drinking water next year as we continue to ramp up the pipe replacement program,” Weaver said.

Flint was under state financial control in 2014 when it switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River to save money. Officials failed to treat the river water with corrosion-control chemicals which allowed lead to leach from pipes.

Tests later showed high lead levels in some Flint children.

Flint has since returned to Detroit’s water system.

Weaver’s FAST Start initiative is being paid with $25 million from the state.

Flint is located in Genesee County, northwest of Detroit. More than half of the city’s 100,000 residents are black.

Weaver’s office says at least 30,000 homes in the city may have service lines that need to be replaced.

Work is being concentrated in neighborhoods where a significant number of young children and senior citizens live.

“We want to protect our most vulnerable citizens as we prioritize where crews focus their efforts,” said retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel. McDaniel is coordinating the FAST Start initiative.

“We know many residents are eager to get their service lines replaced, but we must be strategic,” McDaniel said. “The good news is that many more neighborhoods will get their pipes replaced next year.”

FBI review involves thousands of newly discovered emails

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI will have to sort through thousands of newly discovered emails in its renewed examination of the practices of Hillary Clinton and her aides, a U.S. official said Monday, raising questions about whether any findings might be released before Election Day.

The Justice Department, moving to address concerns over the timing of the revelation of the emails and a potential post-election spillover, said Monday it would “dedicate all necessary resources” to concluding the review promptly.

The timing matters because Donald Trump has been assailing Clinton ever more vigorously since FBI Director James Comey revealed the existence of the emails in a remarkable and ambiguous letter to Congress last Friday. He said agents would take steps to review the messages, which were found on a computer seized during an unrelated investigation involving the estranged husband of a Clinton aide.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former New York congressman, is being investigated in connection with online communications with a teenage girl. He was separated this year from Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s closest advisers.

At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest said he would neither defend nor criticize the timing of Comey’s disclosure. But he also said President Barack Obama does not believe Comey was trying to influence the election, or strategizing to benefit one candidate or party.

“He’s in a tough spot, and he’s the one who will be in a position to defend his actions in the face of significant criticism from a variety of legal experts, including individuals who served in senior Department of Justice positions in administrations that were led by presidents in both parties,” Earnest said.

It was not immediately clear exactly how many emails have been recovered or what significance, if any, they might have. But the U.S. official who spoke to The Associated Press said the trove numbers in the thousands and the FBI, which had a warrant to begin the review, would be focusing on those deemed pertinent to its earlier Clinton email server investigation.

In its letter to lawmakers, the department promised to “continue to work closely with the FBI and together dedicate all necessary resources and appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible.”

The FBI and Justice Department closed that investigation, which looked into whether Clinton and her aides had mishandled classified information, without charges in July.

The official who spoke to the AP was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The fact that another cache of emails potentially important to the investigation has only recently been discovered raises an immediate question: How could Abedin have been unaware of their existence.

The answer is not yet clear, but it’s possible that either she did not know about the emails on the computer of her estranged husband, forgot about them or for some other reason did not turn them over.

In a sworn deposition taken in June as part of a lawsuit filed by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, Abedin was asked about what devices she had used to send or receive messages from her account on the clintonemail.com server. As part of the process in 2015 of returning her work-related emails to the State Department, Abedin said she “looked for all the devices that may have any of my State Department” work and provided two laptops and a Blackberry to her lawyers for review.

Abedin made no mention of there being additional devices where her emails might have been saved.

“I was not involved in the process,” Abedin said. “I provided them with the devices and the materials and asked them to find whatever they thought was relevant and appropriate, whatever was their determination as to what was a federal record, and they did. They turned materials in, and I know they did so. I couldn’t tell you from what device.”

Abedin went on to say that she also provided her lawyers with her login and password to access her account on the Clinton server, which she said she used for all work-related matters while serving at the State Department.

If the FBI finds emails Abedin sent or received through the clintonemail.com server archived on the device recently recovered from her home, that would appear to conflict with what she told the FBI earlier this year.

In an April interview, Abedin told FBI agents she had turned over two laptops and the Blackberry she used while at the State Department to her lawyers in 2015, and that she was not involved in their review of what to provide.

However, Abedin added that after she left the State Department in 2013, Clinton’s staff transitioned to a different email sever and she “lost most of her old emails as a result.” Abedin said she had only accessed her clintonemail.com account through a web portal and that she “did not have a method for archiving her old emails prior to the transition.”

A person familiar with the investigation said the device that appears to be at the center of the new review belonged only to Weiner and was not a computer he shared with Abedin. As a result, it was not a device Abedin searched for work-related emails at the time of the initial investigation, according to the person, who said of Abedin that it was “news to her” that her emails would be on a computer belonging to her husband.

Even if the recovered emails are found to contain classified information, it’s not clear what impact that would have on the investigation. Comey has already described Clinton and her aides as “extremely careless” and has said agents found scores of classified emails on Clinton’s server. But he also said there was no evidence that they intended to mishandle classified email or obstructed justice, elements he suggested would be necessary for a prosecution.


Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker contributed to this report.

Business: US indexes waver as traders use caution ahead of election

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were mostly unchanged on Monday, despite some positive economic data and a raft of big new merger announcements over the weekend.

Hesitant traders continue to watch the day-to-day developments of the U.S. presidential election, which is slightly more than a week away.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 18.77 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,142.42. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.26 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,126.15 and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.97 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 5,189.13.

With Monday’s close the major indexes ended the month of October broadly lower. The Dow fell 0.9 percent, the S&P 500 fell 1.94 percent and the Nasdaq fell 2.3 percent. It was the third-straight month of declines.

The news out late last week regarding newly found emails related to Hillary Clinton’s email practices threw the election’s results into more uncertainty, which investors typically don’t like. Over the weekend, the FBI obtained a warrant to begin reviewing newly discovered emails that may be relevant to the Hillary Clinton email investigation, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

“The reopening of the email investigation into Hillary Clinton certainly throws a wrench into the Presidential election now just eight days away,” said John Briggs, head of fixed income strategy for the Americas at RBS, in a note to investors.

Along with the election, investors have two heavyweight events on the economic front this week: a meeting of the Federal Reserve and the October jobs report. It’s widely expected that the Fed’s policymakers will not raise interest rates so close to the election and will wait until the December meeting to raise rates. However, any economic observations from the bank will be important to investors. The jobs report will be the last major piece of economic data out before the Nov. 8 election.

It’s also a busy week for corporate earnings, with more than one-fifth of S&P 500 companies reporting their quarterly results.

Wall Street got another wave of mega mergers over the weekend. General Electric announced it would merge its oil and gas division with Baker Hughes, creating a new company with $32 billion in annual revenue. GE rose fell 12 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $29.10 while Baker Hughes fell $3.72, or 6.3 percent, to $55.40.

Separately, telecommunications company CenturyLink announced it was purchasing competitor Level 3 Communications for $24 billion. CenturyLink fell $3.81, or 12.5 percent, to $26.58 and Level 3 rose $2.10, or 4 percent, to $56.15. Earlier this month AT&T announced it would buy Time Warner for $80 billion.

The wave of mergers was not limited to the U.S. On Monday three of Japan’s largest shipping companies announced they would merge their shipping container operations.

U.S. government bond prices rose slightly. The yield on 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.83 percent from 1.85 percent on Friday. The dollar rose against the euro, British pound and the Japanese yen.

U.S. benchmark oil futures extended their losses after falling last week to their lowest price this month. Crude fell $1.84 to $46.86 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.41 to $48.30 a barrel.

In other energy commodities, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.45 a gallon and heating oil fell 5 cents to $1.496 a gallon. Natural gas fell 8 cents to $3.026 per thousand cubic feet.

METALS: The price of gold fell $3.70 to $1,273.10 an ounce, silver was unchanged at $17.80 an ounce and copper edged up 1 cent to $2.21 a pound.


AP reporter Eric Tucker contributed to this report from Washington.

Why FBI director James B. Comey was able to defy Justice bosses on Clinton email announcement

(PhatzNewsRoom / WP)    —-   Justice Department officials could have overruled FBI Director James B. Comey’s surprising decision to notify Congress about the renewed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, but they stopped short of ordering him to back down.

Their decision partly reflected the institutional power of the FBI director, Comey’s personality and the political realities they were facing, according to current and former Justice officials. In this case, officials said Comey put the department in an untenable position by informing them that he was sending a letter to Congress because he had an obligation to lawmakers or they would feel misled.

“At the end of the day, if you have the FBI director telling Justice that he has an obligation to tell Congress, there is no way you can direct the FBI to do otherwise,” said one official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.“That’s too fraught. You can’t direct someone to withhold information from Congress. That’s not a prudent way to do things.”

Comey, a veteran federal prosecutor and former deputy attorney general, has long prided himself on being fiercely independent and making decisions on principle. Comey, a Republican, was appointed by President Obama three years ago, and his nomination was seen by some as a bipartisan effort at a time that the president was being criticized relentlessly by GOP lawmakers. At the time, Obama praised Comey’s “fierce independence and his deep integrity.”

Comey is three years into a 10-year-term as director and is set to continue whether Democratic nominee Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump wins the presidential election. On paper, Comey works for Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and answers to her and Obama. But he has often acted on his own and held an unusual news conference about the Clinton investigation last summer without first consulting Lynch or other senior Justice officials.

At the July news conference, Comey announced that the FBI had completed its investigation of Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state. Comey said he was recommending to the Justice Department that Clinton not be charged, but he added that Clinton and her colleagues had been “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information.”

Justice officials said they were given a heads-up about the news conference just before it started.

Comey gave them more notice this time, they said. FBI staff from Comey’s office contacted senior Justice officials on Thursday to notify them that he was going to send a letter to Congress about the new emails that had been discovered in a separate investigation of former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The Justice officials reminded the FBI of the department’s policy to not comment on ongoing investigations and to not take steps that could be viewed as influencing an election. But officials said they did not believe a direct order would make a difference. Comey had already decided.

Comey sent his letter the next day.

“Comey has made it clear for some time that he doesn’t believe he works for the attorney general,” said Matthew Miller, former Justice Department spokesman for then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. “When your boss tells you what to do, she shouldn’t have to give you a direct order. Comey believes he alone is the paradigm of ethics and judgment. He has a 10-year-term, and he has decided if he wants to violate the rules, he’s going to violate the rules. And if they don’t like it, the president can fire him.”

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sent a letter to Comey on Sunday, saying he thinks the FBI director “may have broken the law” by violating the Hatch Act, which prevents FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election.

“I have been a supporter of yours in the past,” Reid wrote. “When Republicans filibustered your nomination and delayed your confirmation longer than any previous nominee to your position, I led the fight to get you confirmed because I believed you to be a principled public servant. With the deepest regret, I now see that I was wrong.”

Comey has not spoken publicly since he sent his letter to Congress. But he said in a memo to FBI employees that he felt obligated to update lawmakers after testifying under oath in July that the investigation into Clinton’s private email server was complete. Officials familiar with Comey’s decision also said the letter was a very difficult decision for him but he felt the circumstances were “extraordinary” and he believed that word of the newly discovered emails found in the course of an investigation into Weiner would leak to the media and suggest a cover-up. Comey also thought the Justice Department policy on handling sensitive information so close to an election was “guidance,” rather than an ironclad rule.

It wasn’t the first time Comey and his bosses differed publicly. Last October, Comey supported the idea there was a link between the national outcry following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and a spike in crime in some major cities. Lynch, Obama and Holder did not agree with this theory, dubbed “the Ferguson effect.”

Before becoming FBI director, Comey was famously involved in another confrontation with high-ranking government officials. In 2004, he tangled with White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Andrew H. Card Jr., President George W. Bush’s chief of staff, in the hospital room of then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft. Ashcroft was recovering from emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder, and Gonzales and Card wanted to reauthorize a controversial warrantless domestic eavesdropping program.

Comey was acting attorney general while Ashcroft was in the hospital, and he had refused to extend the program. Comey rushed to George Washington University Medical Center when he heard that White House officials were going around him and trying to get the ill Ashcroft to sign off on the extension. When he explained to Ashcroft what was happening, Ashcroft sided with him.

After Comey’s letter Friday, several people who had praised his independence in the past said that this time he had gone too far. When Comey was nominated to be FBI director in 2013, Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, praised him.

But Sunday, in an op-ed piece that she wrote with former deputy attorney Larry Thompson who served from 2001 to 2003 under President George W. Bush, Gorelick said that Comey was “damaging our democracy.”

In dawn assault, Iraqi special forces near Mosul from east

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BAZWAYA, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi special forces advanced on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul from the east on Monday, taking heavy fire but entering the last village before the city limits and clearing a path that was followed by army units.

Armored vehicles, including Abrams tanks, drew mortar and small arms fire as they moved on the village of Bazwaya in the dawn assault, while allied artillery and airstrikes hit IS positions.

Car bombers are trying to stop the advance, but the troops, just 2 miles (3 kilometers) from Mosul’s eastern outskirts, aim to enter it later in the day, Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil said. The army said another unit, its ninth division, had moved up toward Mosul and was now approximately three miles from its eastern outskirts.

At one point, a Humvee packed with explosives raced ahead in an attempt to ram the forces, but Iraqi troops opened fire on it, setting off the charge and blowing up the vehicle. Plumes of smoke rose in the air from IS positions hit by artillery and airstrikes.

State television described the operation as a “battle of honor” to liberate the city, captured by IS from a superior yet neglected Iraqi force in 2014.

For two weeks, Iraqi forces and their Kurdish allies, Sunni tribesmen and Shiite militias have been converging on Mosul from all directions to drive IS from Iraq’s second largest city. The operation is expected to take weeks, if not months.

Since the offensive began on Oct. 17, Iraqi forces moving toward the city have made uneven progress. Advances have been slower in the south, with government forces there still 20 miles (35 kilometers) from the city.

The U.S. military estimates IS has 3,000 to 5,000 fighters inside Mosul and another 1,500-2,500 in the city’s outer defensive belt. The total number includes around 1,000 foreign fighters.

A day earlier, thousands of fighters flocked to join Iraq’s state-sanctioned, Iran-backed Shiite militias who aim to cut off Mosul from the west. In a series of apparent retaliation attacks, bombers on Sunday struck in five of Baghdad’s mostly Shiite neighborhoods, killing at least 17 people.

The deadliest of the explosions, a parked car bomb, hit a popular fruit and vegetable market near a school in the northwestern Hurriyah area, killing at least 10 and wounding 34. On Monday, IS issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack.


IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Thousands of fighters flocked to join Iraq’s state-sanctioned, Iran-backed Shiite militias on Sunday, advancing to cut off Islamic State extremists holed up near Mosul in northern Iraq while bombers killed at least 17 people in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad.

Militia spokesmen said that some 5,000 fighters had joined their push to encircle from the west the country’s second-largest city of Mosul, the IS militants’ last bastion in Iraq, which is linked by road to territory it holds in Syria.

Karim al-Nuri of the militias’ umbrella group, known as the Popular Mobilization Units, and Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for unit member the Hezbollah Brigades, said that a total of some 15,000 Shiite fighters were now participating in the battle.

The Iraqi military confirmed the figures, which, including army units, militarized police, special forces and Kurdish fighters would bring the total number of anti-IS forces in the offensive to over 40,000.

The two-week-old offensive to drive IS from Mosul had been long-anticipated, since the Sunni extremists stormed into the city in 2014 and drove out a much larger Iraqi force, albeit one that was demoralized from neglect and corruption.

Troops are now converging on the city from all directions, although most fighting is still taking place in towns and villages on Mosul’s outskirts. The operation is expected to take weeks, if not months.

The Popular Mobilization Units say they will not enter Mosul itself and will instead focus on retaking Tal Afar, a town to the west that had a Shiite majority before it fell to IS in 2014. They acknowledge having help from Iranian military advisers.

Iraqi forces moving toward the city have made uneven progress since the offensive began on Oct. 17. They are four miles (six kilometers) from the edge of Mosul on the eastern front, where Iraq’s special forces are leading the charge. But advances have been slower in the south, with government forces still 20 miles (35 kilometers) from the city.

The U.S. military estimates IS has 3,000 to 5,000 fighters inside Mosul and another 1,500-2,500 in the city’s outer defensive belt. The total number includes around 1,000 foreign fighters.

In the hours following the announcement of Shiite reinforcements, five explosions rocked predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of the capital, Baghdad, killing at least 17 people and wounding over 60, police said.

Police officials said the deadliest of the bombings, a parked car bomb, hit a popular fruit and vegetable market near a school in the northwestern Hurriyah area, killing at least 10 and wounding 34. Other attacks hit the northern Shaab neighborhood, as well as traders’ markets in the Topchi and Zataria areas as well as the poorer Sadr City district.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts. But IS has stepped up its attacks in response to the offensive in Mosul, and it was possible the group was targeting Shiite areas in retaliation for the Mosul offensive.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi air force said it had landed a C-130 transport aircraft at Qayara air base, on the southern approach to Mosul, opening a key resupply route. IS forces had been leaving explosive booby-traps to slow the advance on Mosul, and the announcement suggested the airstrip was now cleared of such danger.

Earlier, Turkey’s president warned that his government will be closely monitoring the Shiite militias’ behavior in northern Iraq and seek to safeguard the rights of ethnic Turkmens there.

In statements carried by the state-run Anadolu agency, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that the militia group could prompt a Turkish response if it “terrorizes” the Iraqi-Turkmen town of Tal Afar, where it is headed in its push around Mosul.

“Tal Afar is an entirely Turkmen town. If Hashd al-Shaabi starts terrorizing it, then our response will certainly be different,” Erdogan said, referring to the militia umbrella group in Arabic.

The involvement of the Iranian-backed Shiite militias has raised concerns that the battle for the Sunni-majority city could aggravate sectarian tensions. Rights groups have accused the militias of abuses against civilians in other Sunni areas retaken from IS, accusations the militia leaders deny.

At a camp on the outskirts of Kirkuk, some 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Mosul, around 600 displaced Sunni Turkmen families from Tal Afar were anxiously hoping IS will be driven from the city so they can head home soon.

“I escaped because of IS,” said Hussna Abbas, 75, who was comforting her grandson as residents reported IS was firing intermittently toward their camp, known as Yahyawa. “They took one of my sons and they killed another one,” she said. “God willing, God will return us to our homes.”


Residents escorted to retrieve belongings after quake

NORCIA, Italy (AP) — Italian authorities say that more than 15,000 people have sought assistance from Italy’s Civil Protection agency and are being housed in hotels and shelters following Sunday’s quake and the one last week.

Civil protection officials said Monday that they expect that number to rise, as it doesn’t count the many people who slept in vehicles or made other arrangements and are likely to seek help.

In the town of Norcia, closest to the epicenter, firefighters were preparing to take people back to their homes early Monday to retrieve belongings.

The Sunday morning quake with a magnitude 6.6 caused no deaths or serious injuries, largely because most fragile city centers had already been closed due to previous damage and many homes have been vacated.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promised Sunday to rebuild after the most powerful earthquake to strike the country in 36 years toppled ancient buildings and left thousands of people seeking assistance and preparing for aftershocks.

Some injuries were reported, but no deaths had been linked to the 6.6-magnitude quake, which struck northeast of Rome at 7:40 a.m. (2:40 a.m. ET).

“We will rebuild everything — the houses, the churches, the shops,” Renzi said at a news conference Sunday, according to The Associated Press. “We are dealing [with] marvelous territories, territories of beauty.”

The jolt rattled a country still recovering from a pair of quakes Wednesday and from August’s temblor that left almost 300 dead. Seismologists in Italy and Britain told the AP that more could be on the way.

“We cannot exclude the possibility of larger magnitude aftershocks,” Margarita Segou of the British Geological Survey said, citing a series of quakes in Japan earlier this year.

On Sunday morning, nuns rushed out of their church in the central town of Norcia as the clock tower appeared about to crumble In Rieti, hospital patients fled into the street and and huddled outside under blankets.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially measured the quake at 7.1 but revised it to 6.6. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center put the magnitude at 6.6 or 6.5, with an epicenter about 100 miles northeast of Rome.

The country’s civil protection agency said the epicenter was between Macerata and Perugia, close to the towns of Castelsantangelo, Norcia and Preci, which were most affected by Wednesday’s quakes.

Monks in Norcia, who have been raising money to fix up their centuries-old monastery by brewing their own beer, said the building — weakened by recent temblors — had finally been destroyed in Sunday’s quake.

“It’s as if the whole city fell down,” Norcia city assessor Giuseppina Perla told the news agency ANSA. The city’s ancient walls suffered damage, as did another famous Norcia church, St. Mary Argentea, known for its 15th-century frescoes.

IMAGE: Italy quake map

© Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC IMAGE: Italy quake map

The mayor of Ussita said 90 percent of houses in the town had been destroyed, La Repubblica reported.

Many residents in affected areas still were sleeping in cars or had been evacuated to shelters or hotels in other areas following last week’s jolts, leaving the most quake-prone historic centers largely empty.

Still, nearly 8,000 people from the region had sought help from the civilian protection agency by Sunday night, the AP reported, and 3,000 more were expected to ask for assistance overnight.

In Rome, cracks appeared and bits of the ceiling fell in the Basilica San Paolo, a historic church and major tourist draw, ANSA reported.

“It is since 1980 that we have had to deal with an earthquake of this magnitude,” said Fabrizio Curcio, head of the civil protection agency.

Curcio was referring to a 6.9-magnitude quake in a different region that includes Naples, which killed 3,000 people and caused extensive damage in November 1980.

Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea

BEIJING (AP) — A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest key developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.



Following Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent visit to China, Malaysia’s prime minister is the latest leader of a nation that claims territory in the South China Sea to travel to Beijing.

Najib Razak arrives in the Chinese capital on Tuesday for a six-day visit to the country whose claims to virtually the entire strategic waterbody overlaps with areas that Malaysia says belong to it.

Malaysia claims a swath of the South China Sea north of Borneo, along with islands and reefs, but has been relatively understated amid feuding among fellow claimants China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

In a Facebook message, Najib said he hoped his visit would strengthen Malaysia’s ties with its largest trading partner, including on “regional and international issues.”

The message did not specifically mention the South China Sea, although Najib recently said Malaysia would not compromise on its claims but wanted them to be hashed out through dialogue and peaceful negotiations. Countries in the region should avoid provocative acts that could create tension, anxiety and suspicion, he was quoted as telling the nation’s Parliament. Peace and stability were of primary importance, he said.

Those comments suggest Najib will be as non-confrontational on the issue as Duterte was during his visit. In Beijing. Duterte repeatedly heaped praise on China and scorn on the United States, winning billions of dollars in deals to boost the Philippine economy and warm years of icy relations between Beijing and Manila.

Malaysian media reported that during his visit Najib will oversee the signing of more than 10 bilateral agreements, including ones on defense and economic cooperation.



The Philippine defense secretary says Philippine aerial surveillance showed Chinese coast guard ships were still present at disputed Scarborough Shoal, but they did not stop Filipinos from fishing there for the first time in years.

Delfin Lorenzana says the fishermen’s return to the shoal, which China effectively seized in 2012, is “a most welcome development” because it restores their main livelihood.

China allowed access to the tiny, uninhabited shoal 123 nautical miles (228 kilometers) from the northern Philippines after President Rodrigo Duterte met with President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders in Beijing. After his trip, Duterte announced without elaborating that Filipinos might be able to return to the shoal soon.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says Beijing made “proper arrangements” regarding Scarborough after Duterte expressed concern about access.

A Philippine navy plane spotted at least four Chinese coast guard ships around the shoal during a surveillance flight on Saturday, Lorenzana said, adding that an earlier report by the Philippine coast guard that the Chinese had left the area was incorrect.

It’s unclear how long China will keep the shoal open to Filipinos or if any conditions were attached.

An international arbitration ruling in July invalidated Beijing’s sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea. It said both Filipinos and Chinese can fish at the shoal, but China ignored it and continued to block and chase away Filipino fishermen until a few days ago.



Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte proposed joint military exercises with Japan during his visit to Tokyo, while reiterating that he will not conduct drills with Americans in his presidency.

Duterte made the proposal during a visit to a coast guard unit to observe an exercise from one of the patrol vessels Japan pledged to provide the Philippines to upgrade Manila’s maritime security capabilities, largely in response to China’s strong assertions of its South China Sea maritime claims.

A statement released by the Philippine presidential palace said Duterte told reporters that he discussed a possibility of the joint exercises “in general terms” when he held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last Wednesday. Duterte also reminded reporters that allowing the American military to stay in his country would be “difficult” and that he planned to review the military cooperation agreement and ask them “one of these days” to leave the country.

He did not elaborate on his comment on joint exercises with Japan, which could have mixed implications because Japan also has tensions with China over East China Sea islands, history and other issues.



Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. and Vietnam share a commitment to the rule of law in the South China Sea.

Kerry was speaking ahead of talks with a top official in Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party, Executive Secretary Dinh The Huynh (din tay hwin).

The meeting came five months after President Barack Obama visited Vietnam and lifted restrictions on arms sales to the former U.S. enemy. It also takes place as longstanding U.S. ally in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, is strengthening ties with China.

Kerry said he and Huynh would also discuss human rights — still a sore point in U.S.-Vietnam relations.


Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.

N.S.A. Appears to Have Missed ‘Big Red Flags’ in Suspect’s Behavior

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WASHINGTON — Year after year, both in his messy personal life and his brazen theft of classified documents from the National Security Agency, Harold T. Martin III put to the test the government’s costly system for protecting secrets.

And year after year, the system failed.

Mr. Martin got and kept a top-secret security clearance despite a record that included drinking problems, a drunken-driving arrest, two divorces, unpaid tax bills, a charge of computer harassment and a bizarre episode in which he posed as a police officer in a traffic dispute. Under clearance rules, such events should have triggered closer scrutiny by the security agencies where he worked as a contractor.

Yet even after extensive leaks by Pfc. Bradley Manning in 2010 and Edward Snowden in 2013 prompted new layers of safeguards, Mr. Martin was able to walk out of the N.S.A. with highly classified material, adding it to the jumbled piles in his house, shed and car.

A federal judge in Baltimore ruled on Friday that Mr. Martin, 51, must remain jailed on charges of stealing government documents and mishandling classified information over two decades. Prosecutors say they will add new charges under the Espionage Act. Mr. Martin, whose arrest in August was disclosed by The New York Times this month, has admitted to taking the material but denies giving secrets to anyone else.

His actions, which prosecutors described in court as “breathtaking,” have already cast a harsh light on the government’s ability to police the 3.1 million employees and 900,000 contractors who hold clearances — or even the much smaller number who work inside the most closely guarded programs, as Mr. Martin did. His case appears to show serious breakdowns in personnel evaluation, technology designed to detect leaks and the basic job of inspecting people leaving secure buildings.

Dennis C. Blair, a former director of national intelligence, said he was “shocked” that Mr. Martin managed to remove classified material in bulk as recently as this year, in part because the government has spent tens of millions of dollars since 2010 on measures to prevent unauthorized activity or downloads.

“If there are breakdowns in your security system, as there clearly were with Snowden and this guy, you have to look at whatever went wrong and fix it,” Mr. Blair said.

Some intelligence officials sounded a defensive note. William R. Evanina, the government’s top counterintelligence official, said it may be infeasible to prevent every breach at an agency like the N.S.A., with 35,000 employees.

“I don’t think it’s possible,” Mr. Evanina said. He credited the government with doing “an amazing job” in tightening security and called the N.S.A. “one of the leaders.” Despite such efforts, he said, “if someone is intent on stealing classified data, it’s very hard to stop them.”

But a look at Mr. Martin’s past raises a question: Did his erratic behavior ever prompt a review of his top secret clearance, which allowed him to work on some of the nation’s most sensitive intelligence operations over two decades at eight contractors? His record of personal and legal troubles reads like it might have been drawn from the official list of factors that can be used to deny a clearance.

In 2000, the State of Maryland put an $8,997 lien on Mr. Martin’s property for unpaid taxes that he would not pay off till 2014, a sign of chronic financial difficulties. In 2003, he was charged with misdemeanor computer harassment, a result of pestering a woman with unwanted messages. The charge was eventually dismissed.

Mr. Martin has a history of “binge drinking on a monthly basis,” Judge Richard D. Bennett of Federal District Court said in a detention hearing on Friday. Alcoholism does not automatically block a security clearance, officials say, but the person must acknowledge the issue and seek treatment.

In 2006, Mr. Martin was charged with driving under the influence. In 2008, he cut off another driver and in the ensuing argument, announced that he was a police officer, according to two acquaintances who did not want to be named speaking critically of him. When it turned out the other driver was an off-duty state trooper, Mr. Martin fled. The local police charged him in the incident, but the record of the episode was later expunged.

“Those are all big red flags, and reasons why you wouldn’t get a clearance,” said Ross Schulman, a cybersecurity expert at the Open Technology Institute at New America, a Washington research group. “What seems clear in this case is that they dropped the ball in choosing who to allow access to their material and computers in the first place.”

The year after the episode of police impersonation, Mr. Martin was hired by the contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, for whom he would work at the N.S.A. for the next six years before being moved in 2015 to a Pentagon job involving offensive cyberwarfare.

A routine five-year renewal of his security clearance in 2012 should have covered all his legal tangles and the breakup of his two marriages, in the late 1990s and 2010. Such reviews include a polygraph test, in which a standard question asks about mishandling of classified information. If such a question was asked, Mr. Martin appears to have passed the polygraph.

In recent years, intelligence agencies have begun to bolster the five-year reviews with “continuous evaluation,” said Mr. Evanina, the counterintelligence chief. That means public databases showing criminal or civil cases, unpaid debts and divorces should all be scanned constantly for the names of clearance-holders, he said.

In a major upgrade to the security system after the transfer of military and diplomatic files by the former Army private now known as Chelsea Manning to WikiLeaks in 2010, the N.S.A. and other agencies installed specialized software to detect unusual conduct on agency networks or large downloads of secret data. Agencies also cracked down on removable storage devices like CDs and thumb drives, literally gluing drives shut or disabling the software required to use them.

But one former senior intelligence official suggested that Mr. Martin might have dodged those safeguards because he was assigned to Tailored Access Operations, the N.S.A. hacking unit. Because the unit develops malware to break into foreign computer networks and steal secrets, its machines are segregated from N.S.A.’s main network to avoid the possibility that a rogue program could get loose and do damage.

In the separate network, the electronic alarms that sound for unusual downloads may not operate and the ban on thumb drives does not always apply, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing. “By the nature of the work he’s in, you have to carve that out so as not to do harm to your own system,” he said.

The last chance to stop someone from carrying off secrets is at the gates to N.S.A. facilities. Mr. Martin’s lawyer, James Wyda, said in court that “there was nothing sophisticated Mr. Martin did to remove this information” from the agency. But before the lawyer could elaborate, prosecutors abruptly objected, evidently concerned about the message that security is lax.

Only the most intrusive search would detect papers or a small drive hidden under clothing, and officials fear that universal searches would be impractical and send a message of mistrust.

“You don’t want to create a Stasi-like atmosphere,” said Michael V. Hayden, a former N.S.A. and C.I.A. director, referring to the East German secret police. Instead, N.S.A. guards carry out random searches, which sometimes included the director, he said.

Several former N.S.A. workers said that if Mr. Martin was ever caught with a few classified pages, he might have pleaded absent-mindedness and escaped punishment. But F.B.I. agents who took 50 terabytes of data from his house found it on disks, hard drives and thumb drives. Had security guards found any of those leaving the agency, it would have set off an investigation, Mr. Martin’s former colleagues said.

The N.S.A. is now conducting an internal review to track everything Mr. Martin took to its source to understand the breaches, officials said. But the case has reinforced how technology that makes it easy to store and move huge volumes of data can threaten security, Mr. Hayden said.

As more details on the case emerged last week — including prosecutors’ assertion that the documents Mr. Martin took contain the names of some intelligence officers who worked undercover — Booz Allen Hamilton announced that it had hired the former F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III to review its security and management practices. For Booz Allen, Mr. Martin’s arrest was a second devastating blow: Mr. Snowden was also an employee when he took hundreds of thousands of N.S.A. documents in 2013.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the vice chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she expected the committee to examine the incident, both to review whether recent security upgrades at N.S.A. are sufficient and consider further improvements.

In court on Friday, Judge Bennett concluded that Mr. Martin posed too much of a flight risk to release before trial. Though there is no proof so far that Mr. Martin passed the secrets he took to others, “the harm has already occurred,” the judge said, “in terms of the loss of confidence on the part of the public” in the intelligence agencies.

News Guide: What we know about the FBI’s new email inquiry

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Thought the furor over Hillary Clinton’s private emails was over? Think again.

The FBI dropped what amounts to a political bomb on the Clinton campaign on Friday when it announced it was investigating whether new emails involving the Democratic presidential nominee contain classified information.

The announcement was a surprise considering the FBI had closed its investigation into Clinton’s private email server in July. Turns out, though, this investigation doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Clinton’s homebrew server. A U.S. official with knowledge of the case said the new emails were uncovered recently in an unrelated sexting probe involving the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

What we know:


Shortly after Clinton announced her plans to run for president, the FBI began investigating the handling of classified material involving her server in New York while she was President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

Clinton insisted all along that she never sent or received emails that were marked classified at the time, but some emails on her server were later deemed top secret or included confidential or sensitive information.

Most of the messages have shown how Clinton dealt with a series of foreign policy hurdles, from the Arab Spring in the Middle East to the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It has also offered a more private window into Clinton’s daily life, showing her asking an aide to help her find Showtime’s CIA-focused drama “Homeland,” getting political intelligence from longtime allies and managing a busy schedule and flights around the globe.

Last July, the FBI said it wasn’t recommending criminal charges against Clinton. But FBI Director James Comey delivered a blistering televised statement in which he called Clinton extremely careless with her handling of national secrets and contradicted her past explanations about her emails.



In a letter to Congress on Friday, Comey said the FBI is investigating whether there is classified information in newly discovered emails. Comey says the emails surfaced during an unrelated FBI case, but didn’t say where the new emails came from or who sent them.

A U.S. official with knowledge of the case said the emails were related to a separate sexting probe involving Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The official was not authorized to discuss details publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Federal authorities are investigating illicit text messages Weiner sent a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. The New York Times, which first reported the connection, said the FBI uncovered the new emails after it seized electronic devices belonging to Abedin and Weiner.

Clinton told reporters that she knew no more than they did about Comey’s revelation. “We don’t know the facts, which is why we are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has,” she said at a brief news conference. “Even Director Comey noted that this new information might not be significant, so let’s get it out.”

As far as any connection to Abedin and Weiner, Clinton said: “You know, we’ve heard these rumors. We don’t know what to believe. And I’m sure there will be even more rumors.”



Clinton told the FBI she didn’t pay attention to particular levels of classified information, though she said she treated all classified information the same.

She said she could not give an example of how classification of a document was determined, and told the FBI that she relied on career professionals to handle and mark classified information.

At one point in the interview, she was presented with a 2012 email that included a “c” marking before one of the paragraphs. Though the marking was meant to connote that the material was “confidential” — the lowest level of classification — Clinton said she wasn’t sure.

She speculated that perhaps the “c” referenced the paragraphs being “marked in alphabetical order,” according to the FBI interview.

Either way, Clinton said she regarded the content of the email as a “condolence call” and questioned the classification level.



According to the FBI investigation, Clinton contacted Colin Powell in January 2009 to ask about his use of a BlackBerry when he was secretary of state.

He warned her that if she used a BlackBerry to “do business,” her emails could become official public records.

“Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data,” he advised Clinton, the FBI said.



Yes. Federal authorities began investigating the former New York congressman in late September after an online news outlet, DailyMail.com, published an interview with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl who said she had exchanged sexually explicit messages with him over several months.

Among other things, the girl said that during a Skype chat, Weiner had asked her to undress and touch herself.

Weiner released a statement acknowledging that he’d corresponded with the girl. In it, he apologized, saying he had “repeatedly demonstrated terrible judgment about the people I have communicated with online.”

But he also said he had “likely been the subject of a hoax” and provided an email, written by the girl to a teacher, in which she recanted her story.

Federal prosecutors in both North Carolina and New York were initially involved in the investigation, but agents in New York subsequently took the lead, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 after it was revealed he had been exchanging sexually explicit messages with multiple women. Abedin announced their separation in August following new sexting revelations.



The FBI disclosure isn’t good news for Clinton, who had just begun to pull away from Republican rival Donald Trump in the polls after the release of a 2005 video in which Trump bragged about sexual assault.

The best scenario for Clinton is that the investigation is resolved quickly without charges. But it’s more likely the review will take some time, casting a shadow over the election.

Within minutes of Friday’s FBI announcement, Trump accused Clinton of orchestrating a “criminal scheme” before a boisterous and jubilant crowd.

“Perhaps finally justice will be done,” Trump said.

Parallels seen in protests of Dakota pipeline, Oregon refuge

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — On the same day seven defendants celebrated their acquittal in the armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, law enforcement officers dressed in riot gear and firing bean bag rounds arrested nearly 150 oil pipeline protesters camped out in North Dakota.

The sudden developments in the two protests drew an unsettling contrast for some between the treatment of mostly Native American citizens at an encampment near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the heavily armed occupiers who held the federal government at bay for weeks in the remote Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

“How is it that people who were seen on national media with guns having a standoff with police officials were acquitted … and we’re being treated like we’re terrorists?” said Cody Hall, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and a spokesman for the pipeline protesters.

Yet experts on public land policy who have watched both situations unfold cautioned it is too soon to draw conclusions about either protest’s outcome — and pointed to broad yet important themes that underlie movements otherwise separated by hundreds of miles and an ideological chasm.

Both the Standing Rock Sioux and the Oregon occupiers consider themselves marginalized groups fighting to preserve a way of life.

Both movements feel disenfranchised and are disillusioned with federal land policy, said Gregg Cawley, a University of Wyoming political science professor.

“At that level, even though all the details are different, they’re very similar,” Cawley said. “If you step back far enough … then you can start seeing some parallels here.”

Ammon and Ryan Bundy, neither native to Oregon, seized the refuge in January to a protest the imprisonment of two ranchers convicted of setting fires on public land. More than two dozen others eventually joined the 41-day occupation, which grew into demands for the U.S. government to turn over public lands to local control.

On Thursday, jurors acquitted the brothers and five others on felony charges that included conspiracy and possession of a gun in a federal facility.

In North Dakota, hundreds of Standing Rock Sioux tribal members and their supporters have held a monthslong campaign to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline, which would skirt the reservation’s northern border. The tribe says the 1,200-mile pipeline will damage its water supply and endanger sacred sites.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is building the conduit from western North Dakota to Illinois, and state officials say no sensitive cultural sites have been found on the route.

The North Dakota protesters face misdemeanor charges, including trespassing and engaging in a riot.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault called the action “violence against innocent, prayerful people.”

The scale of the arrests shocked many onlookers, but public land policy experts cautioned it’s too early to make meaningful comparisons between Standing Rock and Oregon.

“These folks on the pipeline have just been arrested, but we don’t even know if any of that is going to hit a trial,” said John Freemuth, of Boise State University. “I certainly think the tribes will have a point if they find themselves arrested and in jail and these Oregon guys get off.”

That’s a possibility that deeply worries James Riding In, interim director and associate professor of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University.

The response to the Standing Rock protest has been racially charged since the beginning, he said.

“History has placed the Indian peoples as expendable. And I think that attitude still exists in some circumstances,” he said.

That perception underscores what many at Standing Rock see as the ultimate irony: that although the Oregon occupiers said they were protesting the government’s takeover of public lands, they themselves are descendants of the original American occupiers.

That alone has strengthened the North Dakota protesters’ resolve — particularly when the Burns Paiute Tribe in Oregon spoke out about potential damage the refuge protesters were doing to their sacred sites and to tribal artifacts in storage there, Freemuth said.

“They’re seeing a protest against the government and these lines, ‘We want to take the land back.’ That is wrong historically for the Bundys to say that, but any Native American with any appreciation of their history, when they hear, ‘Take the lands back,’ that really resonates,” he said.

In a separate protest Friday, members of the Black Lives Matter movement in Portland burned an American flag belonging to a supporter of the Oregon occupiers at a gathering near the federal courthouse. The Black Lives Matter demonstrators said they were angered by the disparity between their treatment by Portland police during recent protests and the Bundys’ acquittal.


FILE–In this Oct. 27, 2016, file photo, protesters in the left foreground shield their faces as a line of law enforcement officers holding large canisters with pepper spray shout orders to move back during a standoff in Morton County, N.D. On the same day seven defendants celebrated acquittal in Portland, Ore., for their armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, nearly 150 protesters camped out in North Dakota to protest an oil pipeline were arrested. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, file)

Associated Press Writers Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

Iraq’s Shiite militias say thousands join push in Mosul area

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BAGHDAD (AP) — Spokesmen for Iraq’s state-sanctioned Shiite militias say that some 5,000 fighters have joined their push to encircle the county’s second largest city of Mosul and cut off Islamic State fighters there.

Karim al-Nuri of the umbrella group for the militias, known as the Popular Mobilization Units, and Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for unit member the Hezbollah Brigades, said Sunday that a total of some 15,000 Shiite fighters were participating in the battle.

The Iraqi military confirmed the figures, which, including army units, militarized police, and special forces bring the total number of anti-IS fighters in the offensive to over 40,000.

The U.S. military estimates IS has 3,000 to 5,000 fighters inside Mosul and another 1,500-2,500 in the city’s outer defensive belt. The total number includes around 1,000 foreign fighters.

Other Iraqi forces aided by U.S.-led airstrikes and heavy artillery meanwhile drove IS from the town of Shura, south of Mosul, where the militants had rounded up civilians to be used as human shields.

The twin thrusts come nearly two weeks into the offensive to retake Iraq’s second largest city, but most of the fighting is still taking place in towns and villages far from its outskirts, and the entire operation is expected to take weeks, if not months.

The involvement of the Iranian-backed Shiite militias has raised concerns that the battle for Mosul, a Sunni-majority city, could aggravate sectarian tensions. Rights groups have accused the militias of abuses against civilians in other Sunni areas retaken from IS, accusations the militia leaders deny.

The umbrella group for the militias, known as the Popular Mobilization Units, says they will not enter Mosul itself and will instead focus on retaking Tal Afar, a town to the west that had a Shiite majority before it fell to IS in 2014.

Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for the group, told reporters in Baghdad that the militias had retaken 10 villages since the start of the pre-dawn operation. But there was likely still some fighting underway, and he said forces were removing explosive booby-traps left by IS to slow their advance.

Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the Hezbollah Brigades, said his group and the other militias had advanced 4 miles (7 kilometers) toward Tal Afar and used anti-tank missiles to destroy three suicide car bombs that were heading toward them.

He said the U.S.-led coalition, which is providing airstrikes and ground support to the Iraqi military and Kurdish forces known as the peshmerga, is not playing any role in the Shiite militias’ advance. He said Iranian advisers and Iraqi aircraft were helping them.

Many of the militias were originally formed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to battle American forces and Sunni insurgents. They were mobilized again and endorsed by the state when IS swept through northern and central Iraq in 2014.

Iraqi troops approaching Mosul from the south advanced into Shura after a wave of U.S.-led airstrikes and artillery shelling against militant positions inside the town. Commanders said most of the IS fighters withdrew earlier this week with civilians, but that U.S. airstrikes had disrupted the forced march, allowing some civilians to escape.

“After all this shelling, I don’t think we will face much resistance,” Iraqi army Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jabouri said as the advance got underway. “This is easy, because there are no civilians left,” he added.

But hours later, a few families who had hunkered down during the fighting emerged. The government has urged people to remain in their homes, fearing a mass exodus from Mosul, which is still home to more than 1 million people.

By the afternoon, Brig. Gen. Firas Bashar said his forces were clearing explosives and searching for IS fighters in Shura. The sound of artillery still echoed in the distance.

In Baghdad, meanwhile, an IS suicide bomber targeting an aid station for Shiite pilgrims killed at least seven people and wounded more than 20, police and hospital officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief reporters.

The Sunni extremist group often target Iraq’s Shiite majority, which it views as apostates deserving of death.

The Mosul offensive involves more than 25,000 soldiers, Federal Police, Kurdish fighters, Sunni tribesmen and the Shiite militias.

Iraqi forces moving toward the city from several directions have made uneven progress since the offensive began Oct. 17. They are 4 miles (6 kilometers) from the edge of Mosul on the eastern front, where Iraq’s special forces are leading the charge. But progress has been slower in the south, with Iraqi forces still 20 miles (35 kilometers) from the city.

The U.N. human rights office said Friday that IS has rounded up tens of thousands of civilians in and around Mosul to use as human shields, and has massacred more than 200 Iraqis in recent days, mainly former members of the security forces.

The militants have carried out mass killings of perceived opponents in the past and boasted about them in grisly photos and videos circulated online. The group is now believed to be cracking down on anyone who could rise up against it, focusing on men with military training or past links to the security forces.


Here is a look at Iraq’s special forces:


The CTS was established by the American military shortly after the 2003 invasion as an elite commando unit charged with hunting down top insurgents and carrying out complex raids. They were trained, armed and supplied by U.S. Special Forces, who fought alongside them at the height of the insurgency.

The force proved to be a more reliable partner to the Americans than the mainstream security forces, where corruption was rife and many units were tied to parties or militias. But many Iraqis saw the special forces as the shock troops of an occupying power, and took to referring to them as the “Dirty Division.”


The force grew in size over the years and expanded beyond its commando roots, with some taking part in conventional battles and even mundane tasks like manning checkpoints. Today they number around 12,000 men, including administrators, and up to 2,600 are taking part in the Mosul operation.

The unit was never incorporated into the Defense Ministry and answers directly to the prime minister. In the latter years of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s rule, many feared the special forces had become a praetorian guard that would cement his grip on power, but those fears were laid to rest when al-Maliki peacefully stepped down in 2014.


When the Islamic State group swept across northern and central Iraq in 2014, Iraq’s security forces crumbled. Officers fled and their soldiers beat a humiliating retreat, many stripping off their uniforms and leaving their weapons and Humvees behind.

But not the special forces, who held their ground and became a source of national pride.

The CTS “retained its organizational cohesion and structure in 2014 when many other units of the Iraqi army fell apart,” said David M. Witty, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces colonel and former adviser to the CTS. “The key leaders of CTS have become central figures in the Iraqi public’s perception of the campaign to destroy IS.”

“Dirty” no more, the 1st Brigade is now widely known as the “Golden Division.”


The CTS was designed to be a non-sectarian force, with Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish members who were strictly vetted to ensure they had no ties to political factions or militias. In the early years, the force mainly battled Sunni insurgents, but it also played a lead role in a 2008 offensive against Shiite militias. Maj. Gen. Fadhil al-Barwari, who leads the Golden Brigade, is a Kurd.

The force also has a better human rights record than most of the other participants in the Mosul Offensive. An Amnesty International report released this week documenting abuses in Anbar mainly focused on state-sanctioned Shiite militias, and included only passing mention of the CTS.


The special forces launched their first assault in the Mosul operation early Thursday, pushing into the town of Bartella with the aid of attack helicopters despite stiff resistance from IS, which unleashed nine suicide truck bombs, one of which struck an armored Humvee. The rest were destroyed before hitting their targets.

“We will lead the charge into Mosul as we are specialized in the battles in urban areas and guerrilla war,” said special forces Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil. “We are trained to break into towns and cities with fewer casualties.”

The special forces are expected to help drive IS out of Mosul in the coming weeks or months. But they can’t police the country, and will eventually have to hand things off to Iraq’s army and police, as well as Shiite militias and Sunni tribal fighters. It will be left to them to ensure that IS, which has recovered from past defeats, does not return.


FILE – In this Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016 file photo, a soldier from the 1st Battalion of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces listens to an address by his commander after a training exercise to prepare for the operation to re-take Mosul from Islamic State militants, in Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq’s special forces, which barreled into a town east of Mosul on Thursday despite a wave of suicide attacks, are the country’s most professional and least sectarian fighting force. Officially known as the Counter Terrorism Service, the troops have played a key role in wresting back towns and cities from IS, and are expected to lead the charge in Mosul. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Bartella, Iraq contributed to this report.

Powerful quake rattles Italy; no deaths immediately reported

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ROME (AP) — A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 on Sunday rocked the same area of central and southern Italy hit by quake in August and a pair of aftershocks last week, sending already quake-damaged buildings crumbling after a week of temblors that have left thousands homeless.

The head of Italy’s civil protection agency, Fabrizio Curcio, said there were no immediate reports of deaths, but that some people had suffered injuries as numerous buildings that had resisted the previous temblors collapsed. He said authorities were responding with helicopters as many roads were blocked from rockslides.

Residents already rattled by a constant trembling of the earth rushed into piazzas and streets after being roused from bed by the 7:40 a.m. quake.

Many people still had been sleeping in cars or evacuated to shelters or hotels in other areas after a pair of strong jolts on Wednesday. Curcio said 1,300 had been evacuated to the coast, and more would follow.

The quake struck a cluster of mountain towns, many of historic significance, already reeling from last week’s pair of aftershocks to an August earthquake that killed nearly 300: Norcia, Visso, Castelsantangelo sul Nero and Preci.

The head of the civil protection authority in Italy’s Marche region, Cesare Spuri, said there were reports of buildings collapsing in many cities.

“We are trying to understand if people are under the rubble,” Spuri said.

In the ancient city of Norcia, famed for its Benedictine monastery and its cured meats, witnesses said the 14th century St. Benedict cathedral crumbled, leaving only its facade standing.

Television images in the minutes after the quake showed nuns rushing out of their church and into Norcia’s main piazza as the clock tower appeared ready to fall. One nun had to be carried by firefighters, while another was supported as she walked. Later, priests and nuns prayed in the square amid the rubble.

“It’s as if the whole city fell down,” Norcia city assessor Giuseppina Perla told the ANSA news agency.

The town closest to the quake’s epicenter, Norcia is the birthplace of St. Benedict, the father of monasticism and has suffered a series of earthquakes over its history. The cathedral was built over Benedict’s birthplace.

The monks of Norcia confirmed the collapse of the St. Benedict cathedral in a letter launching an immediate fundraising campaign to rebuild.

The current superior, who signed the letter to supporters as the Rev. Benedict, reported the cathedral was “flattened,” and that monks were combing the city to help where needed.

“May this image serve to illustrate the power of this earthquake, and the urgency we monks feel to seek out those who need the sacraments on this difficult day for Italy,” he wrote.

The deputy mayor of Norcia, Pierluigi Altavilla, said his house remained standing, but everything inside had been toppled.

“It seemed like a bomb exploded inside the house,” he told Sky TG24.

The hilltop town of Camerino, some 60 kilometers from Ancona, suffered new building collapses but no reports of injuries. City spokesman Emmanuele Pironi said the main fire hall had been rendered uninhabitable and that they had transferred to a warehouse.

“An hour and a half after the quake, we can be reassured,” Pironi told The Associated Press.

Pironi said most of the area’s 9,000 university students had left after the town’s historic center was closed due to danger of collapses last week, and some of the 7,000 residents had been moved to hotels near the coast or to shelters nearby. Few remained in their homes.

The mayor of quake-hit Ussita said a huge cloud of smoke erupted from the crumbled buildings.

“It’s a disaster, a disaster!” Mayor Marco Rinaldi told ANSA. “I was sleeping in the car and I saw hell.”

In Arquata del Tronto, which had been devastated by the Aug. 24 earthquake that killed nearly 300 people, Arquata Mayor Aleandro Petrucci said, “There are no towns left.”

“Everything came down,” he said.

New collapses also were reported in Tolentino, where the news agency ANSA said three people were extracted from the rubble.

The quake was felt throughout the Italian peninsula, with reports as far north as Bolzano near the Austrian border and as far south as Bari in the Puglia region. Residents rushed into the streets in Rome, where ancient palazzi shook, swayed and lurched for a prolonged spell.

Austria’s governmental earthquake monitoring organization said the quake was felt to varying degrees in the east and south of the country and all the way to the city of Salzburg. It says that at its strongest, residents in upper floors noticed a swaying sensation and a slow swinging of hanging objects.

The quake sent boulders raining onto state highways and smaller roads, forcing closures throughout the quake zone that was impeding access to hard-hit cities such as Norcia. Traffic was being diverted to other roads.

The Salaria highway, one of the main highways in the region, was closed at certain points as it was after Wednesday’s quakes.

In addition, Italy’s rail line said some local lines in Umbria and Le Marche were closed as a precaution.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center put the magnitude at 6.6 or 6.5 with an epicenter 132 kilometers northeast of Rome and 67 kilometers east of Perugia, near the epicenter of last week’s temblors. The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.6.

The German Research Centre for Geosciences put the magnitude at 6.5 and said it had a depth of 10 kilometers, a relatively shallow quake near the surface but in the norm for the quake-prone Apennine Mountain region.


Barry reported from Milan.

Justice Department advised FBI against Clinton email letter

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department discouraged the FBI from alerting Congress to the unexpected discovery of emails potentially related to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, given the proximity to the presidential election and the potential for political fallout, a government official said.

Justice Department officials who were advised of the FBI’s intention to notify Congress about the discovery expressed concern that the action would be inconsistent with department protocols designed to avoid the appearance of interference in an election.

In an apparent departure from the wishes of top Justice Department leaders, FBI Director James Comey acted independently when he sent several members of Congress a letter about the emails on Friday, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The move creates the potential for a divide between the Justice Department and Comey, who has served in government under both Democratic and Republican presidents. And it provides political fodder for Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Speaking at a rally in Phoenix on Saturday, where the crowd cheered “Lock her up!” at the mention of Clinton’s name, the billionaire accused the Justice Department of doing everything it can to protect the Democratic nominee in another example of what he claims is a “rigged system.”

“Now it’s reported that the Department of Justice is fighting with the FBI. That’s because the Department of Justice is trying their hardest to protect the criminal activity of Hillary Clinton,” Trump said, offering no evidence for the assertion.

It was not immediately clear what the emails were about or what significance, if any, they carried to the email investigation. Nor was it clear when agents would complete the process of reviewing the recovered emails, and Comey made no guarantees that would happen before Election Day.

The newly discovered emails were on a device seized during a sexting investigation of disgraced former New York congressman, Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s closest aides.

A person familiar with the investigation, who lacked authority to discuss the matter publicly and insisted on anonymity, said the device that appears to be at the center of the new review was a computer that belonged only to Weiner and was not one he shared with Abedin.

As a result, it was not a device searched for work-related emails at the time of the initial investigation. The person said it is “news to (Abedin)” that her emails would be on a computer belonging to her husband.

Abedin told lawyers in June in a deposition that, like millions of internet users who don’t manage their inboxes, she never deleted old emails on her devices, either at work with Clinton or at home with Weiner.

“I didn’t have a practice of managing my mailbox other than leaving what was in there sitting in there,” Abedin said. “I didn’t go into my emails and delete State.gov emails. They just lived on my computer. That was my practice for all my email accounts. I didn’t have a particular form of organizing them. I had a few folders, but they were not deleted. They all stayed in whatever device I was using at the time or whatever desktop I was on at the time.”

In February 2013, Abedin signed a routine State Department document under penalty of perjury in which she promised to “turn over all classified or administratively controlled documents and materials” before she left her government job, and promised that she was not retaining copies, “including any diaries, memorandums of conversation or other documents of a personal nature.”

The document required her to give back all “unclassified documents and papers relating to the official business of the government acquired by me while in the employ of the department.”

Abedin and Weiner separated this year after Weiner was caught in 2011, 2013 and again this year sending numerous woman sexually explicit text messages and photographs of himself undressed. Federal authorities in New York and North Carolina are investigating online communications between Weiner and a 15-year-old girl.

FBI investigating new emails for classified information

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is investigating whether there is classified information in new emails uncovered during the sexting investigation of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of one of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides.

FBI Director James Comey told Congress in a letter that the emails prompted investigators to take another look at whether classified information had been mishandled, which had been the focus of its recently closed, criminal probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server. Comey couldn’t guarantee that the latest focus of the investigation would be finished before Election Day.

Clinton said Friday that “the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. She urged the FBI to “explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay.”

“Let’s get it out,” she said.

Comey did not provide details about the emails, but a U.S. official told The Associated Press that the emails emerged through the FBI’s separate sexting probe of Weiner, who is separated from Clinton confidant Huma Abedin. She served as deputy chief of staff at the State Department and is still a key player in Clinton’s presidential campaign. The two separated earlier this year after Weiner was caught in 2011, 2013 and again in 2016 sending sexually explicit text messages and photographs of himself undressed to numerous women.

Federal authorities in New York and North Carolina are investigating online communications between Weiner and a 15-year-old girl. The U.S. official was familiar with the investigation but was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The disclosure came less than two weeks before the presidential election and thrust a political liability for Clinton back into the headlines that her campaign thought had been resolved and had begun to recede from the minds of voters. The FBI said in July its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server was finished.

Comey stressed in his letter that the FBI could not yet assess “whether or not this material may be significant,” or how long it might take to run down the new investigative leads.

“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote. “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

Clinton, in a brief statement to reporters Friday evening, noted: “The director himself has said he doesn’t know whether the emails referenced in his letter are significant or not. I’m confident whatever they are will not change the conclusion reached in July.”

It was unclear what the emails contained, who sent them, or what connection they might have to the yearlong investigation the FBI closed in July without recommending criminal charges. The FBI probe focused on whether Clinton sent or received classified information using a server in the basement of her New York home, which was not authorized to handle such messages. Abedin was interviewed by the FBI as part of its investigation.

Comey said in July that his agents didn’t find evidence to support a criminal prosecution or direct evidence that Clinton’s private server was hacked.

Matthew Miller, a former chief spokesman for the Justice Department, was dismayed by the timing of Comey’s letter.

“Longstanding DOJ and FBI practice is you don’t say anything publicly close to an election that can possibly influence that election,” Miller said.

Comey, who has talked often about the FBI’s need to be accountable to the public, promised extraordinary transparency about the investigation and during intervening months has authorized the release of investigative files from the case, which are normally kept confidential.

That stance also left Comey, a career federal prosecutor who has served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, open to criticism from leaders in both parties that he was trying to influence the outcome of the presidential race.

Clinton campaign supporters were already suggesting the FBI director was putting a thumb on the scale. Had he waited until after Nov. 8 to announce the discovery of the new emails, however, Comey would surely have faced criticism for sitting on major news until after the new president had been selected.

In an internal email to FBI employees, Comey wrote: “Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.” The Associated Press acquired the email Friday night.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the department learned about the FBI letter from news reports and did not get any notification from the FBI. Toner pledged the department would “cooperate to the full extent that we can.”

Speaking at a Clinton rally in Florida, President Barack Obama also steered clear of the issue. White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined comment beyond reiterating Obama’s continuing support for Clinton.

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said Comey’s letter was particularly troubling because it left so many questions unanswered.

“Without knowing how many emails are involved, who wrote them, when they were written or their subject matter, it’s impossible to make any informed judgment on this development,” said Feinstein, D-Calif. “The FBI has a history of extreme caution near Election Day so as not to influence the results. Today’s break from that tradition is appalling.”

Republicans immediately pounced on the news, hoping to shake up a presidential race where most polls appear to show Republican nominee Donald Trump lagging well behind Clinton.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Clinton has “nobody but herself to blame.”

“She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information,” Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement. “This decision, long overdue, is the result of her reckless use of a private email server, and her refusal to be forthcoming with federal investigators. I renew my call for the Director of National Intelligence to suspend all classified briefings for Secretary Clinton until this matter is fully resolved.”

Speaking to cheering supporters at a rally in New Hampshire, Trump used Comey’s new letter to attack Clinton.

“We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office,” said Trump, who has pledged to “lock up” his political rival if elected. “Perhaps finally justice will be done.”

Prior to seeking public office as a Republican, Trump was a supporter of Clinton’s past campaigns for president and senator. Records show the New York billionaire also contributed at least $4,300 to former Rep. Weiner’s Democratic campaigns.


FILE – In this July 23, 2013 file photo, then-New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner speaks during a news conference alongside his wife Huma Abedin in New York. The FBI informed Congress on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, it is investigating whether there is classified information in new emails that have emerged in its probe of Hillary Clinton’s private server. A U.S. official told The Associated Press the newly discovered emails emerged through the FBI’s separate sexting probe of former congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of close Clinton confidant Huma Abedin. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Associated Press reporter Tami Abdollah contributed from Washington.

Tense oil pipeline protest subsides at least temporarily

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CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) — A tense protest over the Dakota Access pipeline subsided at least temporarily after some protest leaders urged activists to leave a barricade near a state highway bridge.

As many as 50 protesters gathered Friday behind heavy plywood sheets and burned-out vehicles, facing a line of concrete barriers, military vehicles and police in riot gear. But only a handful of people, some of them observers from Amnesty International, remained on the bridge by late afternoon after protest representatives told people to return to the main encampment.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier described the protesters as “non-confrontational but uncooperative” and credited Standing Rock Sioux tribal members for helping to ease tensions on the bridge. Kirchmeier said tribal representatives were allowed onto the private property to remove teepees.

Officers arrested one person, but no details were released.

Standing Rock has waged a protest for months against the four-state, thousand-mile pipeline being developed by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners to carry North Dakota crude to a shipping point in Patoka, Illinois.

The tribe argues it’s a threat to water and cultural sites, and encampments have grown to thousands at times as its cause has drawn support from Native Americans and others from around the country, including environmentalists and some celebrities.

The protest escalated on Sunday when demonstrators set up camp on private land along the pipeline’s path that had recently been acquired by Energy Transfer Partners. On Thursday, more than 140 people were arrested as law enforcement, bolstered by reinforcements from several states, moved in slowly to envelop the protesters.

Following Thursday’s eviction, some protesters worked overnight to create the two roadblocks.

Jolene White Eagle, 56, a lifelong Cannon Ball resident, watched as law enforcement officers massed near Friday’s new blockade and called the police response “nonsense.”

“It reminds me of something like a foreign country, what’s happened here with all the destruction,” she said.

The camp cleared on Thursday was located just to the north of a more permanent, larger encampment on federally owned land that has been the main staging area for hundreds of protesters. Many returned to that site Friday to regroup and reunite with others who had been arrested the day before.

There were no immediate plans to try to reoccupy the private land or to build a new camp elsewhere in the pipeline’s path, protest camp spokesman Cody Hall said.

“That’s something in the air for people to grasp onto, think about, but I don’t know if that will happen today,” he said.

A federal judge in September denied the tribe’s request to block construction on the grounds that the Army Corps of Engineers improperly issued permits, and North Dakota officials say no culturally significant sites have been found in the area. But on the day the judge ruled, three federal agencies stepped in to order construction to halt on Army Corps-owned land around Lake Oahe, a wide spot of the Missouri River, while the Corps reviewed its decision-making.

Meanwhile, construction has been allowed to continue on private land owned by the developer, with a goal of completion by the end of the year.


Dakota Access pipeline protesters confront law enforcement on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, near Cannon Ball, N.D. The months-long dispute over the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline reached a crisis point when the protesters set up camp on land owned by pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners. The disputed area is just to the north of a more permanent and larger encampment on federally-owned land where hundreds of protesters have camped for months. (Caroline Grueskin/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

Nicholson reported from Bismarck, North Dakota.

Oregon standoff acquittal sparks fears of new land disputes

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The stunning acquittal of seven people who occupied a federal wildlife sanctuary in Oregon during an armed standoff raised fears Friday that the verdict could embolden other militant groups in a long-running dispute over government-owned Western lands.

Meanwhile, a juror said the decision was a rejection of the prosecution’s conspiracy case, not an endorsement of the defendants’ actions.

Supporters of Ammon Bundy celebrated the verdict and said it could invite more confrontations. The government’s top federal land official, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, issued a statement urging all employees to “remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.”

An activist from Boise, Idaho, who once camped by a memorial to occupier LaVoy Finicum at the site where he was shot dead by police, predicted that the verdict would encourage others to act.

“I think a lot more people will be revolting, rebelling and standing up against what we see as a tyrannical government,” William C. Fisher said in a telephone interview.

The 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last January in remote eastern Oregon was part of a larger debate about the use of federal lands in the West. The militants led by Bundy, a small business owner from Arizona, wanted to hand the refuge over to local officials, saying the federal government should not have dominion over it.

The U.S. government owns nearly half of all land in the West, compared with only 4 percent in other states, according to the Congressional Overview of Federal Land Ownership.

One of the jurors in the case asserted Friday that the panel was not endorsing militancy to resolve those issues.

The juror, identified only as Juror No. 4, wrote in an email to The Oregonian/OregonLive that the verdicts were a “statement” about the prosecution’s failure to prove a conspiracy charge “and not any form of affirmation of the defense’s various beliefs, actions or aspirations.”

The acquittal of the white occupiers came on the same day that officers in riot gear evicted protesters from private land in the path of the Dakota Access oil pipeline in rural North Dakota. Officers fired bean bags and pepper spray as they surrounded demonstrators, many of them Native Americans who have spent months fighting over tribal rights and the project’s environmental effects. At least 117 people were arrested.

“Are we going to look at these protests the same way?” asked John Freemuth, a public land policy expert at Boise State University. “I certainly think the tribes will have a point if they find themselves arrested and in jail and these Oregon guys get off.”

Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five others were charged with conspiring to impede federal workers from their jobs at the refuge.

Chris Rasmussen, a defense lawyer in an armed standoff case that happened two years ago at Bundy’s father’s ranch in Nevada, said it is “obvious” that Oregon prosecutors gambled in seeking convictions on felony conspiracy charges instead of misdemeanor trespassing charges.

But prosecutors had few other options for serious charges because the defendants never attacked anyone, said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a former federal prosecutor.

Rather than attempting to retake the refuge headquarters and risking a gunbattle, authorities took a cautious approach. They closed nearby roads and stayed miles away while urging the occupiers to abandon the land.

“The upside of not confronting them was it was less likely there would be violence,” Levenson said. “The downside was it was less likely that they could use the assault charge.”

The standoff finally ended when the Bundys and other key figures were arrested in a Jan. 26 traffic stop outside the refuge. That’s when Finicum was killed. Most occupiers left after his death, but four holdouts remained until Feb. 11, when they surrendered following lengthy negotiations.

Bundy remains in jail because he still faces charges in the standoff at his father’s Nevada ranch.

Joel Hansen, Cliven Bundy’s attorney, said Friday that he thinks the jury in Oregon “saw through the lies” of a government that “is trying to prove these Bundy brothers and their compatriots were some kind of terrorists.”

For Hansen and some others in the rural West, ownership of public land is a constitutional question that has not been settled.

“There is a seething anger among those who use the land,” he said, citing the feelings of ranchers, loggers, miners and Indians. “It’s all part of tyrannical oppression. Their goal is to manage them out of business to get them off the land.”

The Oregon occupiers had chosen, perhaps inadvertently, a part of Oregon where locals and the feds had a recent history of working together. Few who live near the sanctuary welcomed the occupiers, most of whom were from out of state.

Not long before the takeover began on Jan. 2, locals and federal officials had determined the fate of large swaths of land, Harney County Judge Steve Grasty, the top local administrative official, said last summer in an interview.

The High Desert Partnership in Harney County, a group that includes the Bureau of Land Management, the Nature Conservancy and timber business owners, had been working quietly to determine land stewardship, which Jewell credited in her statement on Friday.


Associated Press writers Ken Ritter in Las Vegas and Martha Bellisle in Seattle contributed to this report.


Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at http://twitter.com/andrewselsky .

Syrian airstrikes on Aleppo amid intense clashes

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BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces launched a counteroffensive Saturday under the cover of airstrikes in an attempt to regain control of areas they had lost to insurgents the day before in the northern city of Aleppo, activists and state media said.

The offensive came a day after Syrian rebels launched a broad ground attack aiming to break a weeks-long government siege on the eastern rebel-held neighborhoods of Syria’s largest city.

The insurgents were able to capture much of the western neighborhood of Assad where Saturday’s fighting was concentrated, according to the Syrian army and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Observatory said the new offensive by Syrian troops and their allies was ongoing under the cover of Russian and Syrian airstrikes. The group said the fighting and airstrikes are mostly on Aleppo’s western and southern edges.

The Syrian army command said troops and their allies are pounding insurgent positions with artillery shells and rockets adding that “all kinds of weapons” are being used in the fighting in the Assad neighborhood.

The Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective, reported airstrikes and artillery shelling of areas near Aleppo.

Syrian state media said rebels shelled government-held western neighborhoods of Aleppo on Saturday morning wounding at least six people, including a young girl.

Rebel shelling of Aleppo on Friday killed 15 and wounded more than 100.

On Friday, insurgents including members of Fatah al-Sham and the ultraconservative Ajnad al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham militias took advantage of cloudy and rainy weather to attack government positions. On Saturday the weather was better, according to residents.

“There are ongoing clashes,” said opposition activist Baraa al-Halaby by telephone from besieged east Aleppo, adding that the fighting is far from them but explosions could be clearly heard in the city.

East Aleppo has been subjected to a ferocious campaign of aerial attacks by Russian and Syrian government warplanes, and hundreds of people have been killed in recent weeks, according to opposition activists and trapped residents.

The new offensive by insurgents is the second attempt to break the government’s siege of Aleppo’s opposition-held eastern districts, where the U.N. estimates 275,000 people are trapped.

U.N. Special Envoy Staffan De Mistura has estimated 8,000 of them are rebel fighters, and no more than 900 of them affiliated with Fatah al-Sham. Syrian and Russian officials have said that no cease fire is possible as long as Fatah al-Sham remains allied and intertwined with other rebel forces.

Aleppo is the current focal point of the war. President Bashar Assad has said he is determined to retake the country’s largest city and former commercial capital.


This frame grab from video provided by Thiqa news agency, a Syrian opposition media outlet that is consistent with independent AP reporting, shows flames rises from an explosive vehicle bomb that attacked a Syrian government position, in southwest of Aleppo, Syria, Friday, Oct, 28, 2016. Rebels detonating three vehicle-borne explosives against government positions to the city’s southwest and attacking with hundreds of rockets, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It said at least one of the vehicles was driven by a suicide bomber for the al-Qaida-linked Fatah al-Sham Front, which also announced the offensive. (Thiqa News Agency, via AP)

Iraqi forces push toward Mosul, Shiite militias join battle

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SHURA, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi forces pushed into a town south of Mosul on Saturday after Islamic State fighters fled with civilians used as human shields, as state-sanctioned Shiite militias joined the offensive by opening up a new front to the west.

Iraqi troops approaching Mosul from the south advanced into Shura after a wave of U.S.-led airstrikes and artillery shelling against militant positions inside the town. Commanders said most of the IS fighters withdrew earlier this week with civilians, but that U.S. airstrikes had disrupted the forced march, allowing some civilians to escape.

“After all this shelling, I don’t think we will face much resistance,” Iraqi army Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jabouri said. “This is easy, because there are no civilians left,” he added. “The big challenge for us is always the civilians.”

Lt. Col. Hussein Nazim of the militarized Federal Police, which is leading the advance from the south, said some civilians, mainly the elderly and infirm, might still be in the city, but that the use of heavy artillery and airstrikes was a standard tactic.

“We must strike like this before we move in or else we will be easy prey for Daesh,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to retake militant-held Mosul last week. The offensive to retake Iraq’s second largest city, which is still home to more than 1 million people, is expected to take weeks, if not months.

State-sanctioned Shiite militias meanwhile launched an assault to the west of Mosul aimed at driving IS from the town of Tel Afar, which had a majority Shiite population before it fell to the militants in the summer of 2014. They will also try to secure the western border with Syria, where IS shuttles fighters, weapons and supplies between Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of its self-styled caliphate.

The involvement of the Iranian-backed Shiite militias has raised concern that the battle for Mosul, a Sunni-majority city, could aggravate sectarian tensions. The militias say they will not enter the city itself.

Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the Hezbollah Brigades, said his group and the other militias were advancing with the aid of Iranian advisers and Iraqi aircraft.

He said the U.S.-led coalition, which is providing airstrikes and ground support to the Iraqi military and Kurdish forces known as the peshmerga, is not playing any role in the Shiite militias’ advance.

In Baghdad, meanwhile, a suicide bomber targeting an aid station for Shiite pilgrims killed at least seven people and wounded more than 20, police and hospital officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief reporters.

IS claimed the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency. The Sunni extremists often target Iraq’s Shiite majority, which they view as apostates deserving of death.

The Mosul offensive involves more than 25,000 soldiers, Federal Police, Kurdish fighters, Sunni tribesmen and the Shiite militias, which operate under an umbrella organization known as the Popular Mobilization Units.

Many of the militias were originally formed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to battle American forces and Sunni insurgents. They were mobilized again and endorsed by the state when IS swept through northern and central Iraq in 2014, capturing Mosul and other towns and cities.

Iraqi forces moving toward Mosul from several directions have made uneven progress since the offensive began Oct. 17. They are 4 miles (6 kilometers) from the edge of Mosul on the eastern front, where Iraq’s special forces are leading the charge. But progress has been slower in the south, with Iraqi forces still 20 miles (35 kilometers) from the city.

The U.N. human rights office said Friday that IS has rounded up tens of thousands of civilians in and around Mosul to use as human shields, and has massacred more than 200 Iraqis in recent days, mainly former members of the security forces.

The militants have carried out mass killings of perceived opponents in the past and boasted about them in grisly photos and videos circulated online. The extremist group is now believed to be cracking down on anyone who could rise up against it, focusing on men with military training or past links to the security forces.

There have been no major advances over the past two days, as Iraqi forces have sought to consolidate their gains by clearing explosive booby-traps left by the extremists and uncovering tunnels they dug to elude airstrikes.


Civilians gather at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad’s western Iskan neighborhood, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Iraqi officials say a suicide bomber targeting Shiite pilgrims has killed several people and wounded more than 20 in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Associated Press writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Irbil, Iraq, Joseph Krauss in Baghdad and Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.

Clinton tries to quell resurgent email issue late in race

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — For more than a year, Hillary Clinton has been a reluctant participant in the email controversy that has dogged her campaign, responding defensively to inquiries — and often only when there’s a political imperative to do so.

On Friday, the imperative was clear.

The email issue flared up unexpectedly just over a week from Election Day, threatening Clinton’s lead over Republican Donald Trump. The FBI announced it was looking into whether there was classified information on a device belonging to Anthony Weiner, the disgraced ex-congressman who is separated from longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

Clinton stepped in swiftly, holding a brief, hastily arranged news conference in a high school choir room in Des Moines, Iowa. She challenged FBI Director James Comey to release the full details of the new investigation, citing the crucial phase of the White House race.

“We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important national election of our lifetimes. Voting is already underway in our country,” Clinton said. “So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. The director himself has said he doesn’t know whether the emails referenced in his letter are significant or not.”

Clinton said neither she nor her advisers had been contacted by the FBI about the new inquiry.

The news arrived with Clinton holding a solid advantage in the presidential race. Early voting has been underway for weeks, and she has a steady lead in preference polls, both nationally and in key battleground states.

The development all but ensures that, even should she win the White House, the Democrat and several of her closest aides would celebrate a victory a under a cloud of investigation.

Trump leapt on the FBI’s disclosure, accusing Clinton of corruption “on a scale we have never seen before.”

“We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office,” Trump said during a rally in New Hampshire.

Clinton’s campaign was enraged by Comey’s decision to disclose the existence of the fresh investigation in a vaguely worded letter to several congressional leaders. It wasn’t until hours later that word emerged that the source of the new emails was Weiner, who is under investigation for sending sexually explicit text messages to a teenage girl.

“It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election,” said John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Congressional Republicans have already promised years of investigations into Clinton’s private email system. And that’s only one of the email-related controversies facing her in the campaign’s closing days. The tens of thousands of confidential emails from Clinton campaign insiders that were hacked — her campaign blames Russia — and then released by WikiLeaks have provided a steady stream of questions about her policy positions, personnel choices and ties with her husband’s sprawling charitable network and post-presidential pursuits.

In his Friday letter to congressional leaders, Comey wrote only that new emails have emerged, prompting the agency to “take appropriate investigative steps” to review the information that may be pertinent to its previously closed investigation into Clinton private email system.

The FBI ended that investigation in July without filing charges, although Comey said at the time that Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless” in using the system for communications about government business.

The agency, which did not respond to questions about Comey’s letter and did not lay out a timeline for the review, is also investigating the recent hacks of Podesta’s emails.

The swirling controversies have clouded what had looked to be a strong finish for Clinton’s campaign. Moments before the FBI inquiry became public, her campaign announced plans to hold a rally in Arizona, a traditionally red state put in play by Trump’s deep unpopularity among minority voters, Mormons and business leaders.

To the frustration of many in his party, Trump has struggled to consistently drive an attack against Clinton, often turning to personal denunciations of private citizens he feels have wronged him, like the Gold Star family of Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American soldier killed in action.

But he quickly pounced on the email news, seeing an opportunity to press the argument he’s long tried to make against Clinton: that she thinks she’s above the law and that she put U.S. security at risk by using her personal email.

After weeks of declaring the race “rigged” in favor of his opponent, he declared Friday he has “great respect” for the FBI and the Justice Department, now that they are “willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made” in concluding the investigation earlier.

As Clinton wrapped up her short comments to reporters Friday, she was asked whether she thought the new investigation would sink her campaign.

She walked away, responding only with a hearty laugh.


Associated Press writers Julie Pace, Steve Peoples, Julie Bykowicz, Jill Colvin, Will Weissert and Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

Business: Stocks wilt after FBI inquiry into new Clinton emails

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NEW YORK (AP) — A midday advance on the stock market wilted in afternoon trading Friday after the FBI notified Congress that it will investigate new emails linked to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The market had started out on a strong note after the government reported that the economy broke out of a slump in the third quarter and grew at the fastest pace in two years.

The early climb was led by industrial, energy and technology companies, which would stand to benefit most from a pickup in economy, but the gains disappeared after the FBI made its announcement at about 1 p.m. Eastern. Clinton has led in recent polls, and the surprise development added new uncertainty just a week and a half before the presidential election.

“I think the betting has to be that there’s nothing too damning, but we don’t know,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 8.49 points, less than 0.1 percent, at 18,161.19. The index was 80 points higher shortly before the new inquiry was disclosed, then went down as much as 74 points in the minutes that followed.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dipped 6.63 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,126.41. The Nasdaq composite slid 25.87 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,190.10.

Health care companies took the biggest losses by far. Prescription drug distributor McKesson plunged to a three-year low after its revenue fell about $1.5 billion short of estimates. The company slashed its annual outlook because of weaker drug prices, and investors worried that McKesson and its rivals will compete by making bigger cuts in prices.

McKesson tumbled $36.39, or 22.7 percent, to $124.11 and competitor AmerisourceBergen lost $10.36, or 13 percent, to $69.14 while Cardinal Health shed $7.30, or 9.8 percent, to $67.50.

Drugmakers were pummeled on weak earnings. Amgen, the world’s largest biotech drug company, reported solid results for the third quarter and raised its guidance. However the company also disclosed flat sales of the anti-inflammatory medication Enbrel, its top-selling drug. Enbrel will soon face more competition, which could hurt sales.

Amgen gave up $15.39, or 9.6 percent, to $145.18. It was the stock’s worst one-day loss since October 2000. Drugmaker AbbVie disclosed weak sales and lost $3.86, or 6.3 percent, to $57.60.

Health care stocks are the worst performing part of the market this year. They’re down 6 percent while the S&P 500 is up 4 percent. Their performance compared to the rest of the market has gotten even worse over the last few months.

Earlier, stocks rose after the economy grew faster than expected during the third quarter. The Commerce Department said exports grew and more businesses restocked their shelves. In total, gross domestic product grew 2.9 percent, which was better than economists expected. Growth had slowed down late last year, causing worry among investors.

McMillan said he thinks the economy should keep growing at a similar pace for the next few quarters.

“We’re already seeing business and consumer confidence come back,” he said.

General Electric and oil and gas drilling services company Baker Hughes rose as they discussed a possible deal. GE said the discussions concern a partnership and that it doesn’t intend to buy Baker Hughes outright. Baker Hughes tried to merge with competitor Halliburton two years ago, but the companies walked away from the combination after the federal government sued to block it. GE added 59 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $29.22 and Baker Hughes gained $4.57, or 8.4 percent, to $59.12.

Other industrial stocks including United Technologies, which makes products including jet engines and elevators, and manufacturer Honeywell also traded higher.

Amazon sank after its profit came up short of analysts’ estimates. The company also released a weak outlook. The stock is trading at all-time highs and has surged more than 30 percent over the last 12 months. It fell $42.04, or 5.1 percent, to $776.32.

AB InBev cut its annual revenue forecast following weak results from its business in Brazil. The world’s largest beer maker fell $4.62, or 3.8 percent, to $116.84.

U.S. crude fell $1.02, or 2.1 percent, to $48.70 a barrel in New York. That was its lowest price this month. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 76 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $49.71 a barrel in London.

Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.84 percent from 1.85 percent.

The dollar slipped to 104.78 yen from 105.29 yen. The euro rose to $1.0982 from $1.0898.

Metals turned higher. The price of gold picked up $7.30 to $1,276.80 an ounce. Silver rose 16 cents to $17.80 an ounce. Copper added 3 cents to $2.19 a pound.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline lost 2 cents to $1.47 a gallon. Heating oil gave up 3 cents to $1.54 a gallon and natural gas rose 4 cents to $3.11 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Overseas, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent and the FTSE 100 in Britain picked up 0.1 percent. Germany’s DAX edged down 0.2 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.6 percent and South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.2 percent. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng lost 0.8 percent.


AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay

Supreme Court to rule in Virginia transgender case / Sex offender’s challenge to Facebook ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will take up transgender rights for the first time in the case of a Virginia school board that wants to prevent a transgender teenager from using the boys’ bathroom at his high school.

The justices said Friday they will hear the appeal from the Gloucester County school board sometime next year. The high court’s order means that student Gavin Grimm will not be able to use the boys’ bathroom in the meantime.

A lower court had ordered the school board to accommodate Grimm, but the justices in August put that order on hold while they considered whether to hear the appeal.

Grimm, a 17-year-old high school senior, was born female but identifies as male. He was allowed to use the boys’ restroom at his high school for several weeks in 2014. But after some parents complained, the school board adopted a policy requiring students to use either the restroom that corresponds with their biological gender or a private, single-stall restroom. Grimm is backed by the Obama administration in his argument that the policy violates Title IX, a federal law that bars sex discrimination in schools.

“I never thought that my restroom use would ever turn into any kind of national debate,” Grimm said in a statement issued after the court announced it will hear his case. “The only thing I ever asked for was the right to be treated like everyone else. While I’m disappointed that I will have to spend my final school year being singled out and treated differently from every other guy, I will do everything I can to make sure that other transgender students don’t have to go through the same experience.”

The Education Department says transgender students should be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identities. Among the issues in the case is whether the department’s guidance should have the force of law.

Similar lawsuits are pending around the country. The Obama administration has sued North Carolina over a state law aimed at restricting transgender students to bathrooms that correspond to their biological genders.

A federal judge in Texas has sided with Texas and 12 other states in issuing a nationwide hold on the administration’s directive to public schools, issued in May. The directive tells schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room consistent with their gender identity.

The case probably will be heard in the winter, and it is by no means certain that there will be a ninth justice to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Senate Republicans have refused to act on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the high court. A tie vote would be a victory for Grimm, who won in the lower courts, but would leave the issue unresolved nationally.

The Supreme Court split 5 to 3 in August to put the court order in Grimm’s case on hold. At the time, Justice Stephen Breyer said he was providing a fifth vote to go along with the four more conservative justices to “preserve the status quo” until the court decided whether to weigh in. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

Grimm had urged the court not to take up his case.

The school board asked the court to settle the matter now. It said that allowing Grimm to use the boys restroom raises privacy concerns and may cause some parents to pull their children out of school.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond sided with Grimm in April, saying the federal judge who previously dismissed Grimm’s Title IX discrimination claim ignored the Education Department’s guidance on bathroom use.

The appeals court reinstated Grimm’s Title IX claim and sent it back to the district court for further consideration. The judge then issued the order in favor of Grimm.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will take up a free-speech challenge to a North Carolina law banning registered sex offenders from using Facebook and other social networking sites that minors can join.

The justices on Friday agreed to review a North Carolina Supreme Court ruling that upheld the law. The high court acted on an appeal from Lester Packingham, who was convicted of violating the law after maintaining a Facebook account under a different name.

A lower state court had found the law violated free-speech rights by preventing a wide range of communication.

Packingham initially was convicted in 2002 of taking indecent liberties with a child in Carbarrus County near Charlotte. He was convicted in 2012 of violating the social networking law after police in Durham found his Facebook page.

His posting was innocuous, celebrating the dismissal of a traffic ticket and declaring, ‘God is good.'”

The case, Packingham v. North Carolina, 15-1194, will be argued in the winter.

Breaking: New Emails in Clinton Case Came From Anthony Weiner’s Electronic Devices

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(PhatzNewsRoom / NYT)   —–   WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, an aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner.

The F.B.I. told Congress that it had uncovered new emails related to the closed investigation into whether Mrs. Clinton or her aides had mishandled classified information, potentially reigniting an issue that has weighed on the presidential campaign and offering a lifeline to Donald J. Trump less than two weeks before the election.

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, and that they “appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. was taking steps to “determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” He said he did not know how long it would take to review the emails, or whether the new information was significant.

The announcement comes as Mr. Trump has fallen behind Mrs. Clinton in most national polls and in many battleground states. Polls have been tightening in recent days, however, amid the daily release of hacked Clinton campaign emails published by WikiLeaks.

Mr. Trump seized on the F.B.I. action on Friday at a rally in New Hampshire. To cheers of “lock her up” from his supporters, Mr. Trump said: “Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.”

After deriding the F.B.I. for weeks as inept and corrupt, Mr. Trump went on to praise the law enforcement agency.

“I have great respect for the fact that the F.B.I. and the D.O.J. are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made,” Mr. Trump said. “This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understand. It is everybody’s hope that it is about to be corrected.”

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to the development. As Mrs. Clinton arrived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she waved at the press gathered on the tarmac but ignored shouted questions.

The Republican National Committee also cheered the new attention on Mrs. Clinton’s emails as a potential turning point in the race.

“The F.B.I.’s decision to reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server just 11 days before the election shows how serious this discovery must be,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the R.N.C., said in a statement. “This stunning development raises serious questions about what records may not have been turned over and why, and whether they show intent to violate the law.”

In September, Mr. Comey announced that the F.B.I. had closed the investigation after determining that no one should face criminal charges. But Mr. Comey did criticize Mrs. Clinton and her aides for what he termed the “extremely careless” handling of sensitive information.

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