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AP Top News at 11:13 p.m. EDT

October 18, 2021 GMT

Gang with past abductions blamed for kidnapping missionaries

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A notorious Haitian gang known for brazen kidnappings and killings was accused by police Sunday of abducting 17 missionaries from a U.S.-based organization. Five children were believed to be among those kidnapped, including a 2-year-old. The 400 Mawozo gang kidnapped the group in Ganthier, a community that lies east of the capital of Port-au-Prince, Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne told The Associated Press. The gang was blamed for kidnapping five priests and two nuns earlier this year in Haiti. The gang, whose name roughly translates to 400 “inexperienced men,” controls the Croix-des-Bouquets area that includes Ganthier, where they carry out kidnappings and carjackings and extort business owners, according to authorities.

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Risky business: Some Capitol riot defendants forgo lawyers

Some of the defendants charged in the storming of the U.S. Capitol are turning away defense lawyers and electing to represent themselves, undeterred by their lack of legal training or repeated warnings from judges. That choice already has led to some curious legal maneuvers and awkward exchanges in court. A New York man charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection wants to bill the government for working on his own case. A Pennsylvania restaurant owner is trying to defend herself from jail. A judge told another New Yorker that he may have incriminated himself during courtroom arguments. The right to self-representation is a bedrock principle of the Constitution.

Coast Guard: 1,200-foot ship dragged California oil pipeline

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Investigators believe a 1,200-foot (366-meter) cargo ship dragging anchor in rough seas caught an underwater oil pipeline and pulled it across the seafloor, months before a leak from the line fouled the Southern California coastline with crude. A team of federal investigators trying to chase down the cause of the spill boarded the Panama-registered MSC DANIT just hours after the massive ship arrived this weekend off the Port of Long Beach, the same area where the leak was discovered in early October. During a prior visit by the ship during a heavy storm in January, investigators believe its anchor dragged for an unknown distance before striking the 16-inch (40-centimeter) steel pipe, Coast Guard Lt.

Volunteers in the sky watch over migrant rescues by sea

ABOARD THE SEABIRD (AP) — As dozens of African migrants traversed the Mediterranean Sea on a flimsy white rubber boat, a small aircraft circling 1,000 feet above closely monitored their attempt to reach Europe. The twin-engine Seabird, owned by the German non-governmental organization Sea-Watch, is tasked with documenting human rights violations committed against migrants at sea and relaying distress cases to nearby ships and authorities who have increasingly ignored their pleas. On this cloudy October afternoon, an approaching thunderstorm heightened the dangers for the overcrowded boat. Nearly 23,000 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe since 2014, according to the United Nations’ migration agency.

Nun imprisoned over peace activism, Megan Rice, dies at 91

ROSEMONT, Penn. (AP) — Megan Rice, a nun and Catholic peace activist who spent two years in federal prison while in her 80s after breaking into a government security complex to protest nuclear weapons, has died. She was 91. Rice died of congestive heart failure Oct. 10 at Holy Child Center in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, according to her order, the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. “Sister Megan lived her life with love full of action and zeal,” said Carroll Juliano, American Province Leader for the order. “Her commitment to build a peaceful and just world was unwavering and selfless.” Rice was born in New York to activist parents who would meet with well-known Catholic writer Dorothy Day during the Great Depression to craft solutions for societal problems, she said in a 2013 interview with the Catholic Agitator.

Gambian Toufah Jallow tells of surviving rape by dictator

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Toufah Jallow’s name resonates deeply in Gambia as one of the few women who has taken a public stand against sexual assault in the small West African state. She gained fame at the age of 18 when she won a university scholarship in a national talent competition for young women. But in 2015 she fled Gambia, fearing for her life, after dictator Yahya Jammeh allegedly drugged and raped her, angry that she had turned down his marriage proposal. She lived quietly in Canada, worried that Jammeh would persecute family members in Gambia. After Jammeh fell from power she later found the strength to go public with her story, despite Gambia’s culture of silence over sexual assault, she told The Associated Press.

Bill Clinton back home after hospitalization from infection

ORANGE, Calif. (AP) — Bill Clinton arrived Sunday at his home in New York to continue recovering from an infection that left him in treatment for six days at a Southern California hospital, officials said. The former president left the University of California Irvine Medical Center around 8 a.m. with Hillary Clinton on his arm. Dressed in jeans and a sports coat and wearing a face mask, he made his way out of the hospital slowly and stopped to shake hands with doctors and nurses lined up on the sidewalk. He gave a thumbs-up when a reporter asked how he was feeling, and he and Hillary Clinton then boarded a black SUV.

China’s economic growth weakens amid construction slowdown

BEIJING (AP) — China’s economic growth sank in the latest quarter as a construction slowdown and official curbs on energy use by factories weighed on the nation’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The world’s second-largest economy grew 4.9% over a year earlier in July-September, down from the previous quarter’s 7.9%, government data showed Monday. Factory output, retail sales and investment in construction and other fixed assets all weakened. Growth is under pressure from government controls aimed at making the energy-hungry economy more efficient and at reducing reliance on debt that Chinese leaders worry is dangerously high and could cause financial problems.

Fire crews make big gains against Southern California blaze

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — Fire crews made significant progress overnight against a wildfire burning for nearly a week in Southern California coastal mountains, officials said Sunday. More than 1,600 firefighters were battling the blaze in the Santa Ynez Mountains west of Santa Barbara on land and by air. They were able to stop its forward growth, and the blaze was 78% contained, federal officials said. The Alisal Fire started last Monday and has scorched nearly 27 square miles (69 square kilometers). It is threatening about 400 structures. A 1 1/2-acre (0.6 hectare) spot fire that ignited outside a retardant line on the blaze’s northwestern corner was quickly contained by firefighters who used bulldozer and hand lines on the ground and doused the flames with water from the air.

Chicago wins first WNBA title with 80-74 win over Phoenix

CHICAGO (AP) — Candace Parker returned home to bring Chicago a championship. She did just that, leading the Sky to the franchise’s first title. Allie Quigley scored 26 points and Parker added 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists and Chicago beat the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 on Sunday in Game 4. “This one is so sweet,” a champagne-soaked Parker said. “To do it with this group. I love this group, I love this team. And to do it here at home, it was just supposed to be.” The Phoenix players declined to come to the postgame press conference. The door to their locker room was broken and a person familiar with the incident said at least one of the team’s players was responsible.