North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives in Russia before an expected meeting with Putin
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Joined by his top military officials handling his nuclear-capable weapons and munitions factories, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia on Tuesday, where he is expected to hold a rare meeting with President Vladimir Putin that has sparked Western concerns about a potential arms deal for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
North Korea’s official news agency said Kim boarded his personal train from the capital, Pyongyang, on Sunday afternoon, and that he was accompanied by unspecified members of the country’s ruling party, government and military.
Jeon Ha Gyu, spokesperson of South Korea’s Defense Ministry, said in a briefing that the South’s military assesses that Kim’s train crossed into Russia sometime early Tuesday. He didn’t elaborate how the military obtained the information.
North Korean state media showed photographs of Kim walking past honor guards and crowds of civilians holding the national flag and flowers, and also of him waving from his green-and-yellow armored train before it left the station. Kim’s delegation likely includes his foreign minister, Choe Sun Hui, and his top military officials, including Korean People’s Army Marshals Ri Pyong Chol and Pak Jong Chon.
A group of senior officials were at the station to give the leader a “hearty send-off,” according to the Korean Central News Agency, which did not specify whether the train had crossed the border. Citing unidentified Russian regional officials, Japanese broadcaster TBS reported that Kim’s train crossed the border and arrived in the border town of Khasan.
US moves to advance prisoner swap deal with Iran and release $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has cleared the way for the release of five American citizens detained in Iran by issuing a blanket waiver for international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian money from South Korea to Qatar without fear of U.S. sanctions. In addition, as part of the deal, the administration has agreed to release five Iranian citizens held in the United States.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed off on the sanctions waivers late last week, a month after U.S. and Iranian officials said an agreement in principle was in place. Congress was not informed of the waiver decision until Monday, according to the notification, which was obtained by The Associated Press.
The outlines of the deal had been previously announced and the waiver was expected. But the notification marked the first time the administration said it was releasing five Iranian prisoners as part of the deal. The prisoners have not been named.
The waiver drew criticism of President Joe Biden from Republicans and others who say the deal will boost the Iranian economy at a time when Iran poses a growing threat to U.S. troops and Mideast allies.
On X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said “it’s ridiculous for US to be blackmailed into paying $6B for hostages which will help indirectly finance the number 1 foreign policy of Iran: terrorism.” Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas accused Biden of “paying ransom to the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.”
US approves updated COVID vaccines to rev up protection this fall
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. approved updated COVID-19 vaccines Monday, hoping to rev up protection against the latest coronavirus strains and blunt any surge this fall and winter.
The Food and Drug Administration decision opens the newest shots from Moderna and Pfizer and its partner BioNTech to most Americans even if they’ve never had a coronavirus vaccination. It’s part of a shift to treat fall updates of the COVID-19 vaccine much like getting a yearly flu shot.
There’s still another step: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must sign off. A CDC advisory panel is set to issue recommendations Tuesday on who most needs the updated shots. Vaccinations could begin later this week, and both the COVID-19 and flu shot can be given at the same visit.
A third vaccine maker, Novavax, said its updated shot is still being reviewed by the FDA.
COVID-19 hospitalizations have been rising since late summer although –- thanks to lasting immunity from prior vaccinations and infections –- not nearly as much as this time last year.
Trump lawyers seek recusal of judge in DC presiding over federal election subversion case
WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for Donald Trump on Monday asked the federal judge presiding over his election subversion case in Washington to recuse herself, saying her past public statements about the former president and his connection to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol call into question whether she can be fair.
The recusal motion from Trump's lawyers takes aim at U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, a former assistant public defender who was nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama and has stood out as one of the toughest punishers of Jan. 6 defendants. The request is a long shot given the high threshold for recusal and because the decision on whether to recuse belongs to Chutkan, who is unlikely to see cause to step aside from the case.
Even so, the request that she give up the high-stakes trial marks the latest flashpoint in already delicate relations between the defense team and the judge, who has repeatedly cautioned against inflammatory public comments from Trump but has nonetheless been lambasted on social media by him. Special counsel Jack Smith's team signaled its own concern about his comments, writing last week that Trump's daily statements — he has derided her as “highly partisan” — could taint a potential jury pool.
Chutkan ordered Smith's team to file any opposition to Trump's recusal bid by Thursday.
Chutkan last month scheduled the trial for March 4, 2024, over the vigorous objections of defense lawyers who said that would not give them enough time to prepare. The case in Washington, charging Trump in a four-count indictment with plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, is one of four criminal cases confronting the former president as he seeks reelection to the White House.
American researcher has been rescued from deep Turkish cave more than a week after he fell ill
TASELI PLATEAU, Turkey (AP) — Rescuers pulled an American researcher out of a Turkish cave early Tuesday, more than a week after he became seriously ill 1,000 meters (more than 3,000 feet) below its entrance, officials said.
Teams from across Europe had rushed to Morca cave in southern Turkey’s Taurus Mountains to aid Mark Dickey, a 40-year-old experienced caver who became seriously ill on Sept. 2 with stomach bleeding. He was on an expedition to map the cave, which is the country’s third deepest.
Dickey was t oo frail to climb out himself, so rescuers carried him with the help of a stretcher, making frequent stops at temporary camps set up along the way before he finally reached the surface early Tuesday.
“Mark Dickey is out of the Morca cave," said a statement from the Speleological Federation of Turkey. It said that Dickey was removed from the last exit of the cave at 12:37 a.m. local time Tuesday, or 9:37 p.m. GMT Monday.
"He is fine and is being tended to by emergency medical workers in the encampment above,” the statement said.
Aaron Rodgers hurts ankle in first series for Jets, is carted off sideline and ruled out of game
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers' debut with the New York Jets lasted just four snaps.
And now the four-time MVP and a shell-shocked fanbase will have to see how long he might be sidelined.
Rodgers injured his left ankle when he was sacked by Buffalo's Leonard Floyd and fell awkwardly on the leg Monday night. He was ruled out for the rest of the game, the Jets announced midway through the second quarter. X-rays were negative, the team added.
NFL Network reported Rodgers' left foot was in a black walking boot as he was carted to the X-ray room.
After a 26-yard run by Breece Hall on the Jets' opening play, Rodgers threw his first pass away after getting heavy pressure from Gregg Rousseau. Rodgers threw incomplete on the next play, but Terrel Bernard was called for defensive holding.
The US marks 22 years since 9/11 with tributes and tears, from ground zero to Alaska
NEW YORK (AP) — Americans looked back Monday on 9/11 with moments of silence, tearful words and appeals to teach younger generations about the terror attacks 22 years ago.
“For those of us who lost people on that day, that day is still happening. Everybody else moves on. And you find a way to go forward, but that day is always happening for you,” Edward Edelman said as he arrived at New York's World Trade Center to honor his slain brother-in-law, Daniel McGinley.
President Joe Biden, speaking at a military base in Anchorage, Alaska, urged Americans to rally around protecting democracy. His visit, en route to Washington from a trip to India and Vietnam, is a reminder that the impact of 9/11 was felt in every corner of the nation, however remote.
“We know that on this day, every American’s heart was wounded,” Biden said. "Yet every big city, small town, suburb, rural town, tribal community — American hands went up, ready to help where they could.”
Nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijacked planes crashed into the trade center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, in an attack that reshaped American foreign policy and domestic fears.
Earthquake robbed Moroccan villagers of almost everything — loved ones, homes and possessions
TAFEGHAGHTE, Morocco (AP) — His dead relatives have been dug out and buried, but the remnants of Musa Bouissirfane's former life are still trapped under rubble and dust in the ruins of the mud-brick Moroccan village of Tafeghaghte.
“It’s incredibly challenging to lose your entire family and all your possessions,” Bouissirfane said as tears welled in his eyes in the community less than a two-hour drive from Marrakech. “We have lost everything — our homes, our livestock and all our possessions.”
Less than a week ago, he was excited about his daughter starting second grade. Now he’s mourning her death. Far from ambulances and authorities, villagers could not retrieve her body for more than 14 hours, until Saturday afternoon. The earthquake also killed Bouissirfane's mother and father and a niece. His wife is hospitalized in an intensive care unit.
The toll of the massive earthquake that killed more than 2,800 people was on stark display Monday in remote villages such as Tafeghaghte, where more than half of the 160 inhabitants are thought to have died, including the four in Bouissirfane’s family.
Bouissirfane joined with other survivors as they worked to clear debris and recover the dead. They toiled in a scene of horror: Bulldozers dug through dust and rubble hoping to find a body. The air in parts of the village was filled with the stench of dead cattle. People warned each other not to walk near the few buildings that remained standing because they looked like they could topple at any moment.
Spicy food challenges have a long history. Have they become too extreme?
NEW YORK (AP) — A tortilla chip maker's decision to pull its extremely spicy product sold as a “One Chip Challenge” from store shelves following the death of a Massachusetts teen has renewed attention on the popularity — and risks — of similar dares marketed by brands and spread widely online.
Spicy food challenges have been around for years. From local chile pepper eating contests to restaurant walls of fame for those who finished extra hot dishes, people around the world have been daring each other to eat especially fiery foods, with some experts pointing to the internal rush of competition and risk-taking.
But extremely spicy products created and marketed solely for the challenges — and possible internet fame — is a more recent phenomenon, and teens are particularly exposed to them because of social media, associate professor of psychology at Florida International University Elisa Trucco says.
There's a “glamorization of these challenges on social media,” Trucco said. “You see a lot of ‘likes’ or comments (indicating) social status or popularity from these challenges, but you don’t see a lot of the negative consequences — like the trips to the E.R. or other injuries.”
Alexander DePaoli, an associate teaching professor of marketing at Northeastern University, added that people may put themselves through discomfort and share it online for a sense of “in-group belonging," similar to offline challenges as a game of truth or dare.
Over 100 VIPs attend UN screening of documentary on Russia's siege of Ukrainian city of Mariupol
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — More than a hundred ambassadors, journalists and representatives of a broad spectrum of society watched a U.N. screening Monday evening of the award-winning documentary “20 Days in Mariupol,” which follows a trio of Associated Press journalists during Russia’s relentless siege of the Ukrainian port city in the early days of the war.
U.K. Ambassador Barbara Woodward, who co-hosted the screening, said the film is important because “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens what the U.N. stands for: an international order where the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries is fundamental.”
“We want to reaffirm our commitment to U.N. values, and that’s why we’ve chosen to show this very important documentary,” she said in welcoming the the audience at U.N. headquarters in New York.
The screening comes at the start of the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly and a week before world leaders arrive for their annual meeting, where the more than 18-month war in Ukraine is expected to be in the spotlight — especially with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy scheduled to speak in person for the first time.
The harrowing documentary, which was produced by the AP and the PBS series “Frontline,” is culled from 30 hours of footage AP journalist Mstyslav Chernov and his colleagues shot in Mariupol following Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine and its siege of the city.
The Associated Press