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    The strike against General Motors by 49,000 United Auto Workers entered its second week Monday with progress reported in negotiations but no clear end in sight. Bargainers met all weekend and returned to talks Monday morning as the strike entered its eighth day. A person briefed on the negotiations says they're haggling about wages and profit sharing, new product for factories that GM wants to close, a faster route to full wages for new hires, and use of temporary workers. The person didn't want to be identified because details of the bargaining are confidential. Workers walked off their jobs early on Sept. 16, paralyzing production at about 30 manufacturing sites in nine states. Already the strike forced GM to shut down two Canadian factories that make engines, older-model pickup trucks and two car models. If the strike drags on much longer, GM likely will have to close more factories in Mexico and Canada because engines, transmissions and other components are built in the United States. Companies that supply parts to GM also will have to start cutting production. Consumers this week will start to see fewer trucks, SUVs and cars on dealer lots. Cox Automotive said that GM had stocked up before the strike with a 77-day supply of vehicles. But before the strike, the supply of larger SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe already was below the industry average 61 days' worth of vehicles. Workers also will feel pressure. They got their last GM paycheck last week and will have to start living on $250 per week in strike pay starting this week. The union wants a bigger share of GM's more than $30 billion in profits during the past five years. But the company sees a global auto sales decline ahead and wants to bring its labor costs in line with U.S. plants owned by foreign automakers. The top production worker wage is about $30 per hour, and GM's total labor costs including benefits are about $63 per hour compared with an average of $50 at factories run by foreign-based automakers mainly in the South. Issues that are snagging the talks include the formula for profit sharing, which the union wants to improve. Currently workers get $1,000 for every $1 billion the company makes before taxes in North America. This year workers got checks for $10,750 each, less than last year's $11,500. Wages also are an issue with the company seeking to shift compensation more to lump sums that depend on earnings and workers wanting hourly increases that will be there if the economy goes south. They're also bargaining over use of temporary workers and a path to make them full-time, as well as a faster track for getting newly hired workers to the top UAW wage. GM has offered products in two of four locations where it wants to close factories. It's proposed an electric pickup truck for the Detroit-Hamtramck plant and a battery factory in the Lordstown, Ohio, area, where it is closing a small-car assembly plant. The factory would be run by a joint venture, and although it would have UAW workers, GM is proposing they work for pay that's lower than the company pays at assembly plants. This is the first national strike by the UAW since 2007, when the union shut down General Motors for two days.
  • Spanish prosecutors called for rebellion and terrorism charges to be leveled against nine activists linked to pro-Catalan independence groups who were arrested Monday on suspicion they may have been preparing to commit violent acts, possibly with explosives. A Civil Guard police statement said the operation in Barcelona province was part of an investigation into the self-proclaimed Committees for the Defense of the Republic, a grassroots organization that favors northeastern Catalonia's independence from Spain. In the past, the group has organized street protests and blocked road and rail lines. It is known by its initials, CDR. Police said they carried out 10 raids and seized an abundance of material and substances they believe could be used to make explosives. If confirmed, it would be a considerable blow to Catalonia's mainstream independence movement, which is proud of its overwhelmingly pacific nature since it began gathering momentum in 2011. National Court prosecutors said the raids were aimed at gathering evidence to demonstrate the CDR's 'advanced preparation for terrorist acts in connection with their secessionist aims.' The police statement gave few details, saying there was a judicial secrecy blanket on the case. And police did not say when the group may have been planning the acts of violence, major protests in Catalonia are expected in the coming weeks when Spain's Supreme Court issues its verdict in the trial of 12 ex-Catalan officials and activists charged for attempting to establish an independent Catalan republic in 2017. The prosecutors said the operation was aimed at aborting expected CDR activities around the anniversary of the Oct. 1, 2017, illegal independence referendum in Catalonia and publication of the trial verdict. They said the CDR's activities could have caused 'irreparable damage given the advanced state of their preparations.' The CDR issued a statement saying the arrests and raids were a bid to 'silence' them and called for protests against what they described as Spanish state repression. In response, more than 100 people gathered in the Catalan town of Sabadell and shouted insults at police carrying out one of the raids. Spain's two main center-right parties welcomed the police operation while two Catalan pro-independence parties demanded that caretaker Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska appear in parliament to explain the operation.
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates' first novel, 'The Water Dancer,' has been a long and eventful journey. Begun a decade ago, his chronicle of a slave with an extraordinary memory who joins the Underground Railroad is the result of countless drafts, a shift from multiple narrators to a single voice, some needed advice from fellow writers and hundreds of thousands of words discarded. Coates' research ranged from reading interviews with ex-slaves and consulting a 19th-century Farmer's Almanac — books duly pictured on his Instagram account — to his numerous and revelatory visits to former plantations. And then came that call from Oprah Winfrey. 'I was just as surprised as anybody. I pretty much write for myself and the only people I think about are my wife and my editor,' says Coates, whose novel is her latest book club pick. 'I was really happy (about the news from Winfrey). But I think the most encouraging part was that she's a reader. It was clear from the conversation that she's a reader. This is not a marketing ploy. There's nothing to be cynical about.' Winfrey announced Monday that she chose 'The Water Dancer' to formally begin her new book club partnership with Apple, for which she plans a selection every other month. In October, she will interview Coates before a live audience at Apple Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C., a conversation that will air Nov. 1 on Apple TV Plus, the new streaming service. During a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press, Winfrey became tearful as she described the novel's emotional impact, how it captured the devastation and resilience of those enslaved. 'I have not felt this way about a book since 'Beloved,'' Winfrey said of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by her friend and literary idol Toni Morrison, who died in August. The 43-year-old Coates spoke to The Associated Press during a recent afternoon at a SoHo cafe, where he drank strong iced coffee and received the occasional greeting from a friend or fellow customer. He said that he began the novel after completing his first book, the memoir 'The Beautiful Struggle,' and acting on editor Chris Jackson's suggestion that he try fiction. Jackson told the AP in a recent statement that 'The Beautiful Struggle' demonstrated Coates' 'ability to dive so deeply and imaginatively into a character's interior life and invent an idiom to tell the story that was more Joyce-ian than journalistic.' Coates, who had been reading extensively about the Civil War at the time, wanted to open readers to the 'inner lives of enslaved black folks,' a 'thriller' that would also dramatize the most profound questions of freedom and identity. He worked off and on over the next few years on 'The Water Dancer,' while honing a literary voice — of realism and poetry, outrage and exploration — that Morrison would liken to James Baldwin's. As a national correspondent for The Atlantic, he wrote a highly influential and debated piece on reparations for blacks. He received a Hugo nomination for his contribution to the newly launched Black Panther comics series, 'A Nation Under Our Feet.' In 2015, he published 'Between the World and Me,' a letter to his son about being black in the United States that won the National Book Award, topped The New York Times best-seller list and helped confirm his status as one of the country's leading social commentators. 'It wasn't really that difficult,' he said of finding time for his novel. 'I really liked writing 'The Water Dancer.' It was like I get to go play again.' Winfrey's original book club was started in 1996. She has since helped turn dozens of books into best-sellers, from novels by William Faulkner to a memoir by Sidney Poitier. For 'The Water Dancer' and her upcoming choices, Apple has pledged that for each copy purchased through Apple Books, it will make a contribution to the American Library Association to support local libraries. Winfrey said she was wary at first of 'The Water Dancer,' if only because she found Coates such a 'beautiful essayist' and wondered if he could move beyond the factual world. Journalists from George Orwell to Tom Wolfe have found success as novelists, but the switch from nonfiction to fiction can frustrate the most gifted writer. Nonfiction doesn't only require adherence to the truth, but a kind of control over the narrative that the fiction writer has to surrender, at least in part. Novelists often speak of their stories becoming so real to them that a given character might lead them in a direction they hadn't otherwise intended. Coates felt that with the protagonist of 'The Water Dancer,' Hiram Walker, who did not start out at the center of the story, or even with the name Hiram. 'I really liked his story, and I said, 'This is it,'' Coates explained. While working on the book, Coates showed early drafts to peers such as novelist Michael Chabon, who suggested he 'paint the whole scene,' Coates recalls, tell everything from how the sunlight looks in the trees to the smell of the air. 'The Water Dancer' combines the most everyday details and the freest stretches of imagination, from the supernatural quality of Hiram's mind to his encounters with historical figures such as the abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Coates' favorite authors include E.L. Doctorow, known for mixing real and fictional people in such historical novels as 'Ragtime,' and Morrison. 'She just had this mastery of the sentence,' Coates said of the late Nobel laureate. 'She had a beautiful economy of words. I don't that mean that in the sense that she was a sparse writer; she filled every sentence with so much emotion and feeling and information — visceral information, literary information. She wrote the way poets write. I took that from her early on.' Coates, who says he has many ideas for another novel, left The Atlantic in 2018 and has no plans to resume his journalistic career. But even while working on fiction, he was reminded of the importance of reporting and the difference between reading about a subject and absorbing it on sight, how 'you have to be there in order to feel it, in a way you can't through books.' Coates cited the importance of actually standing on plantations and Civil War battlefields, notably a trip last year to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, Virginia. 'The house is beautiful, stunning, gorgeous — and it was enslaved people who built it,' he says. 'There's a tunnel under Monticello that enslaved people walked through. When I walked through that tunnel, it was like, 'Man, I get it now.' I could see so much. I could feel my people talking to me at that point. I could feel it. But that was after 10 years of work. I don't know how it happens without that.
  • In a decision with wide-ranging political ramifications, Britain's Supreme Court plans to give its verdict Tuesday on the legality of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's five-week suspension of Parliament. Britain's highest court plans to announce the decision Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. after holding three days of testimony last week before 11 judges. The court is deciding whether Johnson acted improperly by shutting down Parliament this month for five weeks before Britain's Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, when the country is scheduled to leave the European Union. The topic has deeply divided British politicians as well as the public. The government says the decision to suspend Parliament until Oct. 14 was routine and is not subject to review by the courts. It claims that under Britain's unwritten constitution, it is a matter for politicians, not judges, to decide. The government's opponents argued that Johnson illegally shut down Parliament just weeks before the country is due to leave the 28-nation bloc for the 'improper purpose' of dodging lawmakers' scrutiny of his Brexit plans. They also accused Johnson of misleading Queen Elizabeth II, whose formal approval was needed to suspend the legislature. Johnson, an outspoken Brexit advocate who is willing to leave the EU without a deal if necessary, has been at odds with Parliament, which has passed a law requiring the government to seek an extension to the Brexit deadline if no Brexit deal is reached by Oct. 19. Johnson has said he will not seek a Brexit delay under any circumstances, but it is not clear how he will deal with the new law if no Brexit deal is reached with EU leaders. The suspension of Parliament sparked several legal challenges, to which lower courts have given contradictory rulings. England's High Court said the move was a political rather than a legal matter, but Scottish court judges ruled that Johnson acted illegally 'to avoid democratic scrutiny.
  • Two French women who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group went on trial Monday for trying to blow up a car near Notre Dame Cathedral in 2016, in a case that authorities hope sheds light on the wave of extremism that has hit France. The trial is also highlighting the role of women in recruiting and violence by IS extremists. The Notre Dame terrorist plot fell apart after the gas canisters doused with fuel failed to explode, and no one was hurt. But the women had been recruited by one of France's most notorious jihadists, and prosecutors say the attempted explosion — in September 2016, long before the fire that ravaged the medieval cathedral this year — could have killed dozens of people in one of the French capital's most-beloved, tourist-friendly neighborhoods. The two main suspects, who face life in prison if convicted, were subdued as the trial opened in a special Paris terrorism court. Six other people are also on trial for related charges. Lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, representing French police and a terrorism victims association, described Monday's action in court as the first significant trial related to the 2015-2016 attacks in France, which deeply shook the country and hardened its security posture. He said the trial also 'puts in the forefront the role, often unknown, underestimated and sometimes even negated by some, of women in radicalization, fanaticism, and their ability to execute a terrorist act.' Ines Madani, now 22, is considered the key player. She was just a teenager when she and Ornella Gilligmann joined a channel on the social network Telegram run by French jihadist Rachid Kassim, according to court documents. Kassim was central to French recruiting efforts for IS, prosecutors say, and was believed linked to a gruesome attack on a French priest inside his Normandy church and the killing of a French police couple at home in front of their child. Kassim moved to Syria in 2015, and during the summer of 2016 he multiplied his threats against France on social networks and released a guide detailing how followers should commit attacks. Among his suggested methods were group stabbings or 'filling a vehicle with gas cylinders and spraying them with fuel.' Madani and Gilligmann tried to do just that, after sending Kassim videos pledging allegiance to IS, court documents say. On Sept. 4, 2016, they parked a Peugeot carrying six gas canisters near Notre Dame, doused them with diesel fuel and tried to set them alight. But they failed, and then fled. Police quickly found their trail. The car belonged to Madani's father, and the two women's fingerprints and DNA were found on the gas canisters. Gilligmann, who was already known to intelligence services for trying to reach Syria in 2014, was arrested two days later in southern France. Madani then tried to plot a new attack with help from Kassim and other women extremists. On Sept. 8, three of them took kitchen knives and attempted a rampage as police closed in. Madani 'acknowledges responsibility' for plotting the Notre Dame attack and is expecting a conviction, her lawyer Laurent Pasquet Marinacce told The Associated Press. The lawyer said Madani was manipulated by Kassim and is 'no longer radicalized at all. She has done a lot of self-examination.' Kassim is being tried in absentia. An international arrest warrant was issued for him, but he was believed killed by a drone strike in 2017 around the Iraqi city of Mosul. U.S. authorities confirmed his death, but no proof of death was officially reported to the French courts. ___ Masha Macpherson in Paris contributed.
  • Norwegian authorities have recorded six new cases of a mysterious and potentially fatal canine disease that has now affected at least 173 dogs across the country, killing 43 of them. Norway's Food Safety Authority says it's still investigating the cause of the disease, whose symptoms include vomiting and bloody diarrhea. The agency said Monday a conclusion on the disease is still pending and so far nearly 90 different breeds have had similar symptoms. It also has recommended that dogs should be held on a leash, avoid close contact with other animals and not be allowed to sniff areas or eat anything where other dogs might have been. As a precaution, dogs from Norway have been temporarily banned from canine shows in neighboring countries. No cases have been reported outside Norway.
  • The German government is defending a decision to have Chancellor Angela Merkel and her defense minister fly to the United States almost simultaneously on separate government planes, two days after Merkel's coalition presented a policy package aiming to combat climate change. German newspapers on Monday mocked the back-to-back departures Sunday of Merkel to New York for a U.N. climate summit and Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to Washington for meetings with U.S. officials. Media reported that Kramp-Karrenbauer originally was supposed to fly out in Merkel's Airbus A340 and take a commercial flight home. Merkel spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said the separate flights were down to 'purely organizational' reasons, stemming from the fact Merkel and Kramp-Karrenbauer were heading to separate destinations with different delegations, and the government has offset emissions since 2014.
  • Authorities say nine people have been injured in an explosion at a supermarket in southern Austria. The Austria Press Agency reported that the blast Monday at the supermarket in St. Jodok am Brenner, between Innsbruck and the Italian border, set off a fire. The local rescue service said no one sustained life-threatening injuries. The Tiroler Tageszeitung newspaper said initial reports indicate that a worker may have drilled into a gas pipe.
  • As coach travel gets more cramped, airlines have added 'premium economy' sections that promise more space and comfort — often at a substantially higher price. Air carriers have discovered many travelers are willing to pay two or even three times the prevailing economy fare to escape the crowded confines of coach. The extra money is mostly profit for the airlines, which is why so many now offer this class of service. But what you get can vary dramatically by airline. A little buyer-beware knowledge next time you plan a trip can help you avoid wasting your money on an upgrade that isn't worth it. MORE SPACE, BUT NOT NECESSARILY MORE COMFORT Premium economy's big selling point is more space. The seats are an inch or two wider on average than the typical coach seat, and the rows are farther apart, offering several more inches of legroom. Most premium economy seats recline, and many have footrests. How much space you actually get depends on the airline. According to airline seat review site SeatGuru, Japan Airlines offers about 10 inches more leg space than you typically find in coach, while most other carriers offer just 5 or 6 inches more. And not all the seats are equally comfortable. Many reviewers dislike the 'fixed shell' design used by Air France and Aeroflo t, where the seat slides forward rather than reclining. What premium economy doesn't offer: lie-flat beds, which are now the standard for long-haul business and first-class cabins. Then again, fares for those flights are typically thousands of dollars more than you'd pay for premium economy. WHAT ABOUT THE EXTRAS? The amenities and customer service you get in premium economy are all over the map. Some, including premium economy pioneer Virgin Atlantic, offer priority check-in counters, cushy seats, amenity kits, plenty of good-quality food and expedited baggage handling. Others, such as discount carrier Norwegian Air, skimp on the extras, offering less to its premium economy customers than other airlines provide in coach. For example: Free snacks and meals are pretty standard on international flights, even in economy. Norwegian, however, offers no free food other than small meals served in boxes to premium economy passengers. The carrier also reduced the weight limit for free checked bags from the industry standard of 23 kilos (50 pounds) to just 20 kilos (44 pounds), and puts a weight limit on carry-ons (10 kilos, or 22 pounds). Its check-in counters do a brisk business in charging extra fees to those who failed to read the fine print. SeatGuru can give you some idea of the space you can expect, and the airline's site usually details what's included with your fare. Don't rely too much on travel site reviews, since those may be out of date and the airline's policies could have changed. ARE YOU PAYING MORE FOR LESS? The airfare you pay doesn't necessarily reflect what you get. For an April trip from Los Angeles to London, for example, Kayak shows a $1,698 premium economy fare for Virgin Atlantic versus $1,747 charged by Norwegian. (Air New Zealand, winner of TripAdvisor's 2019 Travelers' Choice Awards for best premium economy, charges $1,612.) The lowest economy fares for the same route: $638 for Virgin Atlantic, $556 for Norwegian and $576 for Air New Zealand. Which means that the premium you would pay for premium economy — the amount above the airline's economy fare — is substantially more for Norwegian than the other two carriers. (For reference, business class fares on the same route start at $3,033 for Virgin Atlantic and $2,842 for Air New Zealand. Norwegian doesn't have a business class.) WHEN TO SPRING FOR PREMIUM ECONOMY The gap between economy and premium economy fares tends to narrow as the date of travel nears, airline experts say. If you book a ticket within three months of departure, for example, you may pay only a few hundred dollars more to get premium economy, which could be a good deal. Airlines may also give you the opportunity to upgrade — again, for a few hundred bucks, and sometimes less — when you check in, if all the premium economy seats haven't been sold. Paying the full price for premium economy can make sense in some circumstances. Enduring five or more hours in a cramped coach seat may be hard for older or taller travelers. A good premium economy cabin also can enhance special occasions, such as a honeymoon, or a business trip where you need to arrive in fairly good shape. You just need to do some research to make sure that what you get will be worth the additional money. ______________________________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of 'Your Credit Score.' Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Travel deals http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-travel-deals
  • The World Anti-Doping Agency is giving Russia three weeks to explain possible signs of tampering with data from its doping laboratory, an accusation which Russian officials fear could lead to a ban from next year's Olympics. WADA heard about the possible tampering at its executive committee meeting Monday in Tokyo. Turning over the data was a key requirement for the reinstatement of Russia's anti-doping agency, and WADA has formally opened a compliance procedure that could lead to a new ban if the data was manipulated. The computer files were critical to prosecuting cases against athletes alleged to have cheated at the 2014 Olympics and other major events. 'The situation is very serious,' Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdnyakov said in a statement. He added that if Russia can't either refute the claim or identify potential suspects, 'then the Russian Olympic team's prospects of taking part in the Games in Tokyo next year could be under threat.' Russia was already required to send an officially neutral, smaller-than-usual squad of 'Olympic Athletes from Russia' to last year's Winter Olympics as a punishment from the International Olympic Committee for doping offenses. However, the IOC has since signaled that it considers the matter closed. The data was handed over to WADA in January after Russia breached an earlier deadline of Dec. 31, 2018. Before then, it was stored in a sealed-off area of the laboratory under the control of Russian law enforcement. The data has been used to support suspensions against 12 Russian weightlifters, including 10 former world or European championship medalists, and cases in the winter sport of biathlon. WADA said it would continue to pursue cases while this latest review is ongoing. The International Weightlifting Federation said it will 'urgently liaise with WADA' about how to continue its cases. WADA has been criticized for reinstating RUSADA under terms less stringent than the original roadmap. But director general Olivier Niggli told The Associated Press he stood by the decision. 'I believe it was actually a very important decision and absolutely the right decision,' Niggli said. 'I'm convinced that we would not have the data if we had not taken that decision, so we would not even be talking about it today. There would still be a cloud of suspicion and nothing would have gone forward.' Niggli conceded the tampering could force WADA to drop some of the cases, 'but there will be a good number of cases which can still move forward.' WADA would not set a firm timetable on a decision. The case is heating up a few days before the start of the track world championships in Doha, where 30 Russians will compete as neutral athletes while Russia's track federation remains under suspension by the sport's governing body. Russia's sports minister Pavel Kolobkov said his office had been told about the discrepancies between the data turned over by a whistleblower and data from the lab, which was being used to corroborate the whistleblower information. He indicated that Russian technical specialists will have access to the review. 'What, exactly, these inconsistencies are and what they are related to, that will be cleared up by experts in the field of digital technology from both sides, who are already cooperating,' Kolobkov said. 'From our side, we will continue to offer all possible assistance.' The Russian track federation said Monday it knows of 14 open investigations against its athletes, including the former Olympic gold medalists Anna Chicherova and Elena Lashmanova. The federation said it found out during failed attempts to secure neutral status, which would have allowed them to compete at the world championships. Both Chicherova and Lashmanova have already served doping bans for other offenses and would likely have been refused the status regardless. ___ AP Sports Writer James Ellingworth reported from Duesseldorf, Germany. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports