UK leader: British hostage’s killing underscores need to defeat Islamic State militants
CAIRO (AP) — The Islamic State extremists who have beheaded another Western hostage are deaf to reason and must be destroyed, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Saturday as Muslims worldwide were urged to pray for the victim on one of Islam’s holiest days.
Cameron, speaking after a security briefing at his rural retreat Chequers, said Friday’s slaying of 47-year-old English aid worker Alan Henning demonstrated that Islamic State militants were committed to inflicting horror for horror’s sake.
Asked whether he believed Islamic State fighters would kill more hostages, Cameron said they would have to be hunted down to be stopped. He declined to say whether Britain would extend its involvement in U.S.-led airstrikes on the Islamic State group to Syria, where the hostage killings are believed to have happened.
“The fact that this was a kind, gentle, compassionate and caring man who had simply gone to help others, the fact they could murder him in the way they did, shows what we are dealing with,” Cameron said. “This is going to be our struggle now. … We must do everything we can to defeat this organization.”
Henning, a taxi driver from the town of Eccles in northwest England, was abducted minutes after his aid convoy entered Syria on Dec. 26. He was the fourth Western hostage to be killed by Islamic State since mid-August, following two American journalists and another British aid worker. In their latest video, Henning’s killers linked their action to a vote Sept. 26 in British Parliament to deploy the Royal Air Force against Islamic State positions in Iraq, but not Syria.
Losing battleground in Syria and Iraq, Islamic State uses beheadings for propaganda war edge
WASHINGTON (AP) — For months, Islamic State militants rampaged across Syria and Iraq, seizing cities, taking hostages and terrorizing all who dared to confront them.
The tide began to turn in mid-August, when U.S. airstrikes pushed them from key Iraqi battlegrounds. Then, on Aug. 19, the group released a video that showed the beheading of American freelance journalist James Foley.
The pattern continued.
Within days of a military defeat, the group would release images of more beheadings — at least nine over six weeks — of Western journalists, aid workers and Muslim soldiers.
The tactic signals that even as the Islamic State group suffers battlefield losses, it is holding on to its edge in the propaganda war. U.S. officials say that’s the only way the militants can continue to maintain support and attract new recruits.
Hospital: Dallas Ebola patient in critical condition; had been listed as serious but stable
DALLAS (AP) — The condition of the lone Ebola patient to be diagnosed in the U.S. has worsened and is now deemed critical, the Dallas hospital that has been treating him reported Saturday.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where Thomas Eric Duncan is being treated, didn’t provide any further details about his condition, and a hospital spokeswoman, Candace White, didn’t immediately respond to emails and phone calls. The hospital previously said Duncan was being kept in isolation and that his condition was serious but stable.
Duncan traveled from disease-ravaged Liberia to Dallas last month before he began showing symptoms of the disease.
Health officials said Saturday that they are monitoring about 50 people who may have had contact with Duncan for signs of the deadly disease. Among those are nine people who are believed to be at a higher risk. Thus far none have shown symptoms.
Included in the group are those people who later rode in the ambulance that took Duncan to the hospital last Sunday, said Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One man’s three-continent journey — Ebola makes its way to America
DALLAS (AP) — His week began thousands of miles away with a frantic bid to save a life.
It was Monday, Sept. 15, and Ebola, a terrifying disease, was ravaging West Africa, filling morgues and hospitals to capacity. In Monrovia, Liberia, the virus was about to claim one more person.
Marthalene Williams, seven months pregnant, had been diagnosed with low blood pressure when she was brought to a clinic, desperately ill.
Soon after coming home, she began convulsing. Thomas Eric Duncan, assisted by her family and others, lifted his neighbor into a taxi that rushed to a hospital maternity ward, where she was turned away. The 19-year-old woman returned to her house, where she died hours later.
That Friday, Sept. 19, Duncan arrived at Roberts International Airport in the capital of Monrovia.
Indiana aid worker’s parents plead for his release, say he’s devoted to aiding Syrian refugees
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The parents of an Indiana man threatened with beheading by the Islamic State group are pleading with his captors to free him, saying in a video statement Saturday that their son has devoted his life to humanitarian work and aiding Syria’s war refugees.
Ed and Paula Kassig’s video was released a day after the Islamic State group’s online video threatened to behead 26-year-old Peter Kassig next — following the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning.
That video was a heartbreaking development for Kassig’s family and friends, who had stayed silent since his capture while working to secure his release.
In the family’s video, Ed Kassig says his son, who now goes by the first name Abdul-Rahman after converting to Islam during his captivity, was captured on Oct. 1, 2013, in Syria, where he was providing aid for refugees fleeing that country’s civil war.
He says his son has grown “to love and admire” the Syrian people, after growing up in an Indianapolis family with a long history of humanitarian work and teaching.
Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, ousted former dictator of Haiti, dies of heart attack at home
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Jean-Claude Duvalier, who presided over what was widely acknowledged as a corrupt and brutal regime as the self-proclaimed “president for life” of Haiti until a popular uprising sent him into a 25-year exile, has died. He was 63.
Duvalier died Saturday from a heart attack at the home of a friend in Port-au-Prince where he had been staying, said his lawyer, Reynold Georges, and several officials in the impoverished nation.
The former leader, known as “Baby Doc,” made a surprise return to Haiti in 2011, allowing victims of his regime to pursue legal claims against him in Haitian courts and prompting some old allies to rally around him. Neither side gained much traction, however, and a frail Duvalier spent his final years quietly in the leafy hills above the Haitian capital.
Haitian President Michel Martelly expressed his condolences to the former dictator’s family, making no mention of the widespread human rights abuses that occurred under Duvalier and his more notorious predecessor and father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier.
“On behalf of the entire government and people of Haiti, I take this sad occasion to extend my sincere sympathies to his family, his relatives and his supporters across the country,” Martelly said.
Hong Kong protesters stage massive, defiant rally despite attacks, warnings to clear streets
HONG KONG (AP) — Pro-democracy protesters were defiant in the face of attacks by opponents and warnings by the Hong Kong government to clear the streets, staging a massive rally Saturday evening in the downtown business district they’ve occupied for a week.
“Democracy now! Democracy in Hong Kong!” thousands chanted as speakers from the movement seeking wider political reforms for this former British colony urged them to persist in their campaign. The rally lasted hours, with participants at times clapping and cheering as a stream of speakers and singers addressed them and performed popular songs.
“We are not seeking revolution. We just want democracy!” said Joshua Wong, a 17-year-old student leader. “We hope there will be no violence,” he said. “It would be unfortunate if this movement ended with bloodshed and violence.”
After the rally ended, people grew nervous due to rumors that police would act to clear out the protesters in the middle of the night. But big crowds still filled the protest area after midnight.
Standoffs between the protesters and their antagonists grew ugly during the day, as the two sides traded insults and at times taunted police. The city’s leader said streets occupied by the protest must be opened back up by Monday.
AP PHOTOS: Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur coincide this weekend
Major holidays for both Muslims and Jews are both being marked this Saturday across the Middle East, the first time this has happened since 1981.
The Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur coincide once every 33 years, as Judaism and Islam rely on lunar calendars.
Yom Kippur is Judaism’s Day of Atonement, when devout Jews ask God to forgive them for their transgressions and refrain from eating and drinking, attending intense prayer services in synagogues. Businesses and airports in Israel shut down as television and radio stations go silent and highway stand empty. That holiday began at sunset Friday and ends Saturday night.
Muslims are marking Eid al-Adha, a three-day holiday that started Saturday across much of the Middle East. It commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim — or Abraham as he is known in the Bible — to sacrifice his son in accordance with God’s will, though in the end God provides him a sheep to sacrifice instead. On the start of Eid al-Adha, Muslims slaughter sheep, cattle and other livestock, and give part of the meat to the poor. Parents often buy new clothes for their children for the holiday.
Here are a series of Associated Press images from across the world showing Muslims and Jews marking their respective holidays.
With vast area of Indian Ocean finally mapped, ships prepare to resume search for Flight 370
SYDNEY (AP) — After a four-month hiatus, the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is about to resume in a desolate stretch of the Indian Ocean, with searchers lowering new equipment deep beneath the waves in a bid to finally solve one of the world’s most perplexing aviation mysteries.
The GO Phoenix, the first of three ships that will spend up to a year hunting for the wreckage far off Australia’s west coast, is expected to arrive in the search zone Sunday, though weather could delay its progress. Crews will use sonar, video cameras and jet fuel sensors to scour the water for any trace of the Boeing 777, which disappeared March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
The search has been on hold for months so crews could map the seabed in the search zone, about 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) west of Australia. The 60,000-square kilometer (23,000-square mile) search area lies along what is known as the “seventh arc” — a stretch of ocean where investigators believe the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed, based largely on an analysis of transmissions between the plane and a satellite.
Given that the hunt has already been peppered with false alarms — from underwater signals wrongly thought to be from the plane’s black boxes to possible debris fields that turned out to be trash — officials are keen to temper expectations.
“We’re cautiously optimistic; cautious because of all the technical and other challenges we’ve got, but optimistic because we’re confident in the analysis,” said Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the agency leading the search. “But it’s just a very big area that we’re looking at.”
North Korea’s No. 2 official visits South for highest level face-to-face talks in 5 years
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s presumptive No. 2 and other members of Pyongyang’s inner circle met with South Korean officials Saturday in the rivals’ highest level face-to-face talks in five years, a possible indication that both sides are interested in pursuing better ties after months of animosity.
There appeared to be no major breakthrough from the meeting that came as the North’s delegation made a surprise visit to the close of the Asian Games in the South Korean port city of Incheon. But the countries agreed to hold another round of talks between the end of October and the beginning of November, according to a South Korean statement. The specific topics of Saturday’s discussions weren’t immediately known.
Still, just the fact that North Koreans at the highest levels visited the South was significant, allowing valuable contact between confidants of North Korea’s authoritarian leader and senior South Korean officials after a year that has seen a steady stream of insults between the divided neighbors and an unusual number of North Korean missile and rocket test firings.
One analyst called it a “golden opportunity” for South Korean President Park Geun-hye to test North Korea’s willingness to improve shaky ties. The South Korean statement said Park had been willing to meet with the Pyongyang officials, but the North Koreans were running out of time because they had to attend the Asian Games’ closing ceremonies. South Korea said its prime minister, largely a figurehead but technically the No. 2 position, met with the delegation later Saturday before the North Koreans left South Korea late in the evening to return home.
The North Koreans were led by Hwang Pyong So, the top political officer for the Korean People’s Army and considered by outside analysts to be North Korea’s second most important official after supreme leader Kim Jong Un. Hwang is also a vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission and a vice marshal of the army.
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