Haiti starting to gauge full damage from Matthew's rampage
LES CAYES, Haiti (AP) — Two days after Hurricane Matthew rampaged across Haiti's remote southwestern peninsula with roaring winds and flooding rains, local authorities and international aid workers still lack a clear picture of the storm's destruction. But as the weather began calming and a way was found around a key bridge that was washed away, convoys and helicopters have begun venturing to marooned corners to assess the damage and determine how to help thousands of people who lost homes, livestock and crops. At least 16 deaths in the Caribbean have been blamed on the storm. The death toll in Haiti alone was raised to 10 by the country's civil protection agency Wednesday evening, but the number was expected to tick upward as more hard-hit rural areas are reached Thursday and people tell their stories.
While people flee, others in Matthew's path stay put
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — With Hurricane Matthew bearing down on the southeastern U.S., many coastal residents packed up and headed inland. But for some, the dangers posed by the life-threatening Category 3 storm and its 115 mph winds are exaggerated if it stays on its current path. They plan to spend the storm in their homes, ignoring evacuation orders and government warnings. Matthew killed at least 16 people in the Caribbean as it cut through Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas. The storm was forecast to scrape much of the Florida coast Thursday night, potentially as a Category 4 storm with 130 mph (210 kph) winds.
Explosion in Syria near Turkey border; activists say 16 dead
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian opposition activists say an explosion in a village in northwestern Syria near the border with Turkey has killed at least 16 people. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the blast in Atmeh on Thursday morning was either caused by a suicide bomber or a remotely detonated bomb that that there are rebels among the casualties. The Observatory also says there are many wounded. Another group, the Local Coordination Committees, says the blast was caused by a bag filled with explosives that went off on the Syrian side of a border crossing. Both groups had no further details about the blast.
Once lauded as a peacemaker, Obama's tenure fraught with war
WASHINGTON (AP) — Seven years ago this week, when a young American president learned he'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize barely nine months into his first term — arguably before he'd made any peace — a somewhat embarrassed Barack Obama asked his aides to write an acceptance speech that addressed the awkwardness of the award. But by the time his speechwriters delivered a draft, Obama's focus had shifted to another source of tension in his upcoming moment in Oslo: He would deliver this speech about peace just days after he planned to order 30,000 more American troops into battle in Afghanistan.
Portugal's Guterres, likely UN chief, wants to build bridges
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Portugal's former prime minister Antonio Guterres, who is virtually certain to be the next U.N. secretary-general, says he wants to be "an honest broker, a bridge-builder and someone who tries to create conditions for consensus." The veteran politician and diplomat, who won unanimous backing from the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, said in an interview with The Associated Press and two other news organizations during his campaign that if he got the job his aim would be to work with all countries to help solve the myriad problems on the global agenda. The Security Council is scheduled to meet behind closed doors Thursday morning for a formal vote on Guterres' candidacy.
Trump, once a data skeptic, spending millions on data
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump once called data "overrated" in politics. But with Election Day swiftly approaching, the Republican presidential nominee is spending millions of dollars on data and digital services in an effort to land donations and win over voters. Ushering Trump toward a more analytical approach are Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and adviser, and Brad Parscale, the campaign's digital director and a veteran Trump Organization consultant. Both men — friends — are new to politics and have built a team largely without Washington operatives, whom they dismiss as overpaid and overrated. "People underestimate our data and digital because we haven't been outspoken about what we're doing," Parscale said in an interview.
Husband fights for evidence to help US wife accused in China
BEIJING (AP) — Nine days had passed since Jeff Gillis, at home in Houston, Texas, had last heard from his wife. During that phone call, she told Gillis she was extending her business trip in China, but he grew anxious. He filed a missing person's report with U.S. consular officials whose response left him flabbergasted: His wife, a business consultant, had been detained by Chinese state security agents almost two weeks earlier. Now, 18 months later, Phan Phan-Gillis is still detained, charged with spying and awaiting trial in China, consigned to an unknown fate in a highly opaque and impenetrable legal system in which even the charges brought against her remain cloudy.
Government to pick plans for displaced health law customers
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is worried that insurers bailing out of the health care law's markets may prompt their customers to drop out, too. So administration officials have come up with a strategy to steer affected consumers to plans from remaining insurance companies. Insurers worry that policyholders could get an unwelcome surprise if their new government-recommended plan isn't what they're used to. The backstop is outlined in an administration document circulating among insurers and state regulators. It also calls for reaching consumers with a constant stream of reminders as the health law's 2017 sign-up season goes into full swing.
Malaysian court lets off Aussies who partied in swimsuits
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Nine Australians charged after stripping down to skimpy swimsuits at the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix walked free Thursday without a conviction after pleading guilty to causing a public nuisance and apologizing. The nine were detained Sunday after they partied in Budgy Smuggler-brand swimsuits decorated with the Malaysian flag and drank beer from shoes in full view of thousands of spectators at the Sepang track after Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo won the race. Budgy smuggler is Australian slang for a tight swimsuit worn by men, and the drinking out of a shoe was done to honor Ricciardo, who drinks out of his shoes to celebrate winning.
Activists blast 'O'Reilly Factor' Chinatown piece as racist
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Watchdog and activist groups are outraged by a Fox News Channel segment in which an interviewer asked people in New York'sChinatown if he was supposed to bow to greet them, if they were selling stolen goods and if they could "take care of North Korea for us." Several organizations condemned humorist Jesse Watters' piece on "The O'Reilly Factor," calling it racist and demeaning to Asian-Americans. "It's 2016. We should be far beyond tired, racist stereotypes and targeting an ethnic group for humiliation and objectification on the basis of their race," Asian American Journalists Association President Paul Cheung said in a letter to Fox and posted online.