Blast on bridge to Crimea hurts Russian supply lines, pride
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — An explosion Saturday caused the partial collapse of a bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula with Russia, damaging an important supply artery for the Kremlin’s faltering war effort in southern Ukraine and hitting a towering symbol of Russian power in the region.
Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, which killed three people. The speaker of the Russian-backed regional parliament in Crimea accused Ukraine, but Moscow didn’t apportion blame. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly threatened to strike the bridge, and some lauded the destruction on Saturday. But Kyiv stopped short of claiming responsibility.
The explosion, which Russian authorities said was caused by a truck bomb, risked a sharp escalation in Russia’s eight-month war, with some Russian lawmakers calling for President Vladimir Putin to declare a “counterterrorism operation,” shedding the term “special military operation” that had downplayed the scope of fighting to ordinary Russians.
Putin signed a decree late Saturday tightening security for the bridge and for energy infrastructure between Crimea and Russia, and put Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, in charge of the effort.
Hours after the explosion, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that the air force chief, Gen. Sergei Surovikin, would now command all Russian troops in Ukraine. Surovikin, who this summer was placed in charge of troops in southern Ukraine, had led Russian forces in Syria and was accused of overseeing a bombardment that destroyed much of Aleppo.
‘I love you, mommy’: 4-year-old Thai day care victim mourned
UTHAI SAWAN, Thailand (AP) — The little girl’s nickname was Plai Fon. In Thai, it means “the end of the rainy season” — a time of happiness.
And then in one horrible burst of violence, the happiness that the chubby-cheeked 4-year-old had symbolized for her adoring family was shattered. In its place is an unfathomable agony over what happened to Plai Fon in a massacre that began at her Thai day care center and left 36 people, plus the killer, dead.
“When she woke up, she would say, ‘I love you, mommy and daddy and brother,’” her 28-year-old mother, Tukta Wongsila, recalled of her daughter’s usual morning routine. Tukta’s grief over the memory soon stole her breath away.
At least 24 of the victims of Thursday’s gun and knife attack in northeast Thailand were children, mostly preschoolers. One day after their short lives were snuffed out, their desperate families spent hours outside an administrative office near the day care center, waiting for their children’s bodies to be released.
Authorities had told the families to gather at the office so they could process compensation claims and meet the prime minister. But Tukta didn’t care about forms or formalities. She just wanted her little girl.
In her own words: Justice Jackson speaks volumes from bench
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman on the Supreme Court and its newest justice, said before the term began that she was “ready to work.” She made that clear during arguments in the opening cases.
The tally: 4,568 words spoken over nearly six hours this past week, about 50% more than any of the eight other justices, according to Adam Feldman, the creator of the Empirical SCOTUS blog.
The justices as a whole are generally a talkative bunch, questioning lawyers in rapid succession. For now, Jackson’s approach seems less like Justice Clarence Thomas, who once went 10 years without asking a question, and more like Justice Neil Gorsuch, who in his first year was one of the more active questioners.
On Tuesday, in a case that could weaken the landmark Voting Rights Act, which sought to bar racial discrimination in voting, Jackson was particularly vocal.
At one point, she spoke uninterrupted for more than three and a half minutes to lay out her understanding of the history of the post-Civil War 14th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing formerly enslaved people equal rights. Jackson’s statement ran three transcript pages, the longest Feldman could remember ever seeing.
Town employee quietly lowered fluoride in water for years
RICHMOND, Vt. (AP) — Residents of a small community in Vermont were blindsided last month by news that one official in their water department quietly lowered fluoride levels nearly four years ago, giving rise to worries about their children’s dental health and transparent government — and highlighting the enduring misinformation around water fluoridation.
Katie Mather, who lives in Richmond, a town of about 4,100 in northwestern Vermont, said at a water commission meeting this week that her dentist recently found her two kids’ first cavities. She acknowledged they eat a lot of sugar, but noted that her dentist recommended against supplemental fluoride because the town’s water should be doing the trick.
Her dentist “was operating and making professional recommendations based on state standards we all assumed were being met, which they were not,” Mather said. “It’s the fact that we didn’t have the opportunity to give our informed consent that gets to me.”
The addition of fluoride to public drinking water systems has been routine in communities across the United States since the 1940s and 1950s but still doesn’t sit well with some people, and many countries don’t fluoridate water for various reasons, including feasibility.
Critics argue that the health effects of fluoride aren’t fully known and that its addition to municipal water can amount to an unwanted medication; some communities in recent years have ended the practice. In 2015, the U.S. government lowered its recommended amount in drinking water after some children got too much of it, causing white splotches on their teeth.
Breonna Taylor warrant details deepen mistrust in police
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Recent revelations about the search warrant that led to Breonna Taylor’s death have reopened old wounds in Louisville’s Black community and disrupted the city’s efforts to restore trust in the police department.
Former Louisville officer Kelly Goodlett admitted in federal court that she and another officer falsified information in the warrant. That confirmed to many, including U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, that Taylor never should have been visited by armed officers on March 13, 2020.
Protest leaders who took to the streets of Kentucky’s largest city after she was fatally shot by police say Goodlett’s confession confirms their suspicions that Louisville police can’t be trusted and that systemic issues run deep. They say officers abused demonstrators after the botched raid, and that her fatal shooting is just one of many reasons why the community remains wary.
“What bothers me so incredibly is that so many lives were lost because of this lie,” said Hannah Drake, a Louisville poet and leader in a push for justice after Taylor’s death. “They don’t even understand the far-reaching tentacles of what they did.”
More than once during that long, hot summer, individual officers escalated rather than calmed a situation.
Serial ‘jogger rapist’ to be released from Oregon prison
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon serial rapist is set to be released from prison in mid-December after serving nearly 36 years behind bars, almost all of his maximum sentence.
Richard Gillmore, arrested in 1986 and called the “jogger rapist” because he staked out victims as he ran by their homes, admitted to raping nine girls in the Portland area in the 1970s and 80s but was only convicted in one case because of the statute of limitations. In 1987, a jury found him guilty of raping 13-year-old Tiffany Edens, his last known victim, in December 1986.
The Associated Press generally does not name people who have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly. Edens has spoken out about the assault and recently wrote on social media that she received a voicemail in August from the state’s Victim Information and Notification Service telling her of his impending release.
“I have been slowly processing the reality of it all,” she wrote.
The Oregonian, citing prison officials, reported that Gillmore was transferred in August from Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla to the minimum-security Columbia River Correctional Institution in Portland to help him prepare for his re-entry into the community. He will be 63 at the time of his release in December.
NKorea launches 2 missiles toward sea after US-SKorea drills
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Sunday, the latest of its recent barrage of weapons tests, a day after the North warned the redeployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula was inflaming regional tensions.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it detected two missile launches Sunday between 1:48 a.m. and 1:58 a.m. from the North’s eastern coastal city of Munchon. It added that South Korea’s military has boosted its surveillance posture and maintains a readiness in close coordination with the United States.
Japanese Vice Defense Minister Toshiro Ino also confirmed the launches, saying the North’s testing activities are “absolutely unacceptable” as they threaten regional and international peace and security.
Ino said the weapons could be submarine-launched ballistic missiles. “We are continuing to analyze details of the missiles, including a possibility that they might have been launched from the sea,” Ino said.
North Korea’s pursuit of an ability to fire missiles from a submarine would constitute an alarming development for its rivals because it’s harder to detect such launches in advance. North Korea was believed to have last tested a missile launch from a submarine in May.
Harvey Weinstein goes on trial in LA, where he once reigned
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Five years after women’s stories about him made the #MeToo movement explode, Harvey Weinstein is going on trial in the city where he once was a colossus at the Oscars.
Already serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault in New York, the 70-year-old former movie mogul faces different allegations including several that prosecutors say occurred during a pivotal Oscar week in Los Angeles. Jury selection for an eight-week trial begins Monday.
Weinstein has been indicted on four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault counts involving five women, who will appear in court as Jane Does to tell their stories. He has pleaded not guilty.
Four more women will be allowed to take the stand to give accounts of Weinstein sexual assaults that did not lead to charges, but which prosecutors hope will show jurors he had a propensity for committing such acts.
Starting in the 1990s, Weinstein, through the company Miramax that he ran with his brother, was an innovator in running broad and aggressive campaigns promoting Academy Award nominees. He had unmatched success, pushing films like “Shakespeare in Love” and “The Artist” to best picture wins and becoming among the most thanked men ever during Oscar acceptance speeches.
UN: Ukraine nuclear power plant loses external power link
BERLIN (AP) — Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe, has lost its last remaining external power source as a result of renewed shelling and is now relying on emergency diesel generators, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Saturday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said the plant’s link to a 750-kilovolt line was cut at around 1 a.m. Saturday. It cited official information from Ukraine as well as reports from IAEA experts at the site, which is held by Russian forces.
All six reactors at the plant are shut down but they still require electricity for cooling and other safety functions. Plant engineers have begun work to repair the damaged power line and the plant’s generators — not all of which are currently being used — each have sufficient fuel for at least 10 days, the IAEA said.
“The resumption of shelling, hitting the plant’s sole source of external power, is tremendously irresponsible,” IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said.
Grossi visited Kyiv on Thursday. He said he will soon travel to Russia, then make another trip to Ukraine, to further his effort to set up a “nuclear safety and security protection zone” around the plant, which he has advocated for weeks.
Rays, Guardians have longest scoreless postseason game
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Guardians and Tampa Bay Rays set a record Saturday for the longest scoreless postseason game in major league history at 15 innings.
The previous high was set two years ago, when Atlanta beat Cincinnati 1-0 in the NL Wild Card Series opener on Freddie Freeman’s walk-off single in the 13th inning.
Tampa got just four hits through 14 innings and used eight pitchers, including Corey Kluber, who made his first relief appearance in more than nine years.
Cleveland had four hits and also used eight pitchers. It was the longest postseason game in the team’s history.
There were 36 strikeouts through 14 innings.