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World News

    Britain and the European Union appeared to be inching toward agreement on Brexit on Monday, but British Prime Minister Theresa May faced intensifying pressure from her divided Conservative government that could yet scuttle a deal. Britain leaves the EU on March 29 — the first country ever to do so — but a deal must be sealed in the coming weeks to leave enough time for the U.K. and European Parliaments to sign off. May faces increasing domestic pressure over her proposals for an agreement following the resignation of another government minister last week. The British leader had been hoping to present a draft deal to her Cabinet this week. But no Brexit breakthrough was announced Monday after talks between European affairs ministers. The two sides are locked in technical negotiations to try to bridge the final gaps in a move laden with heavy political and economic consequences. May said talks were in their 'endgame' but that negotiating a divorce agreement after more than four decades of British EU membership was 'immensely difficult.' May told an audience at the Lord Mayor's Banquet in London that 'we are working extremely hard, through the night, to make progress on the remaining issues in the Withdrawal Agreement, which are significant. 'Both sides want to reach an agreement,' May said, though she added she wouldn't sign up to 'agreement at any cost.' The main obstacle to a deal is how to keep goods flowing smoothly across the border between EU country Ireland and Northern Ireland in the U.K. Both sides have committed to avoid a hard border with costly and time-consuming checks that would hamper business. Any new customs posts on the border could also re-ignite lingering sectarian tensions. But Britain and the EU haven't agreed on how to achieve that goal. 'Clearly this is a very important week for Brexit negotiations,' Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told reporters after the meeting in Brussels. 'The two negotiating teams have really intensified their engagement ... There is still clearly work to do.' And Martin Callanan, a minister in Britain's Brexit department, said all involved were 'straining every sinew to make sure that we get a deal but we have to get a deal that is right for the U.K., right for the EU and one that would be acceptable to the U.K. Parliament.' EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier didn't speak to reporters Monday and a planned news conference with him was canceled. Instead, EU headquarters issued a short statement saying that Barnier explained to the ministers that 'intense negotiating efforts continue, but an agreement has not been reached yet.' Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the two sides 'are getting closer to each other.' 'But in negotiations there is only a deal if there is full agreement,' Blok said. 'There is only a 100-percent deal. There is not a 90-percent deal or a 95-percent deal.' Earlier, France's EU affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, stepped up pressure on May. 'The ball is in the British court. It is a question of a British political decision,' she said. The EU is awaiting Barnier's signal as to whether sufficient progress has been made to call an EU summit to seal a deal. Rumors have swirled of a possible top-level meeting at the end of November. But Austrian EU affairs minister Gernot Bluemel, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said 'so far progress is not sufficient to call in and set up another (summit).' In recent days there have been signs of progress behind the scenes, but all parties have remained tight-lipped about the developments, given the politically charged atmosphere. In Britain, pro-Brexit and pro-EU politicians alike warned May that the deal she seeks is likely to be shot down by Parliament. Boris Johnson, a staunch Brexit supporter, wrote in a column for Monday's Daily Telegraph that May's plan to adhere closely to EU regulations in return for a trade deal and an open Irish border amounts to 'total surrender' to the bloc. The proposed terms are scarcely more popular with advocates of continued EU membership. Former Education Secretary Justine Greening on Monday called May's proposals the 'worst of all worlds,' and said the public should be allowed to vote on Britain's departure again. 'We should be planning as to how we can put this final say on Brexit in the hands of the British people,' Greening told the BBC. Johnson's younger brother, Jo Johnson, resigned last week backing calls for a second referendum on whether the country should leave the EU. May has consistently rejected the idea of another nationwide vote on Brexit. ___ Jill Lawless reported from London.
  • An accord reunifying ethnically split Cyprus could unlock a deal to convey gas discovered in fields off Israel, Egypt and Cyprus to markets through neighboring Turkey's existing pipeline network, the leader of the island's breakaway Turkish Cypriots said Monday. Mustafa Akinci said Turkey is the cheaper, faster 'logical' route to markets for east Mediterranean gas, but that a Cyprus peace deal must precede any such plans. 'Everybody could win from this,' he told a televised news conference. Akinci made the remark in response to an ambitious pipeline project linking east Mediterranean gas deposits and conveying them directly to Europe. The European Union has funded a feasibility study on the proposed East Med pipeline that has the backing of Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy. ExxonMobil is scheduled to begin exploratory drilling off Cyprus later this month. Turkey vehemently opposes a gas search by the Cypriot government in the internationally recognized south, saying it infringes on it rights and those of Turkish Cypriots to the island's natural resources. The Cypriot government says drilling is its sovereign right and any potential mineral wealth will be shared equitably with all Cypriot citizens after reunification. Akinci said he's open to discussing a proposal by the island nation's Greek Cypriot president for a more decentralized federal government in a peace agreement that would grant more authority to the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot zones. President Nicos Anastasiades said last week his proposal could make a peace deal more workable by reducing the number of federal responsibilities where disagreement could lead to deadlock. But Akinci said Turkish Cypriots would never accept domination by the majority Greek Cypriots and are demanding 'effective participation' in federal decision-making which he insisted wasn't veto power. U.N. envoy Jane Holl Lute is expected to return Cyprus for more contacts to determine whether stalled peace talks can resume. Earlier Monday, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots walked through a newly opened crossing point in the southeastern village of Dherynia in what peace activists are hailing as further breaking down barriers. Dherynia, and another crossing point in the country's northwest, bring the total of crossing points to open since travel restrictions across the United Nations-controlled buffer zone were relaxed 2003 to nine. Last month, Anastasiades and Akinci designated Nov. 12 as the crossings' official opening in a bid to help build momentum toward restarting peace talks. But a number of demonstrators at the crossing point voiced their opposition to the openings which they said help to entrench ethnic division.
  • Macedonian police sought the country's former prime minister late Monday, looking to arrest him to begin serving a two-year prison term following his conviction on corruption-related charges. Interior Ministry spokesman Toni Angelovski told The Associated Press that police issued a warrant for Nikola Gruevski's arrest on instructions from Macedonia's criminal court. On Friday, judges rejected Gruevski's final appeal against serving the sentence. But several attempts by court clerks to locate Gruevski and personally hand him the order to present himself at prison proved fruitless. Live TV broadcasts late Monday from Gruevski's home showed plainclothes police knocking on his door, with nobody answering. Gruevski's passport had been confiscated, and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he did not believe his predecessor and major political opponent would flee the country. 'I do not believe that Mr. Gruevski would allow that, at least according to what he has already stated,' Zaev said in an interview with state TV. The 48-year-old Gruevski was prime minister in 2006-2016. He is the former leader of the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, which is the main opposition party. it claims he is being politically persecuted. He was convicted in May of unlawfully influencing officials to purchase a luxury car for government use. Gruevski also faces trial in four other cases that emerged from a wiretapping scandal which erupted in 2015 and plunged the country into a deep political crisis. He has been charged with abuse of office, electoral fraud, criminal association and incitement to violence. He remains a VMRO lawmaker, after a vote in parliament last week failed to produce a big enough majority for his formal expulsion.
  • The president of Afghanistan told a U.S. audience Monday that his country is not losing the war to the Taliban and is not at risk of collapse amid escalating attacks by the militant group and an expansion of the territory it controls. President Ashraf Ghani said his administration is intent on seeking a negotiated peace with the Taliban, which have shown no interest in direct talks with a government they see as illegitimate. 'The Taliban are not in a winning position,' Ghani said by video to an audience at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington as a suicide bombing in Kabul and a deadly militant assault on districts in eastern Afghanistan suggested government control was slipping further. Ghani said that more than 28,000 Afghan forces have been killed in the past four years but that the military will be able to retake territory as long as it has an air force and commando troops. He said most of the losses incurred by its security forces were in defending static positions, so the government was rethinking how it deploys its forces. Speaking on Veterans Day, the Afghan leader paid tribute to American sacrifices in Afghanistan, including the death of Brent Taylor, a Utah mayor serving as a major in the state's Army National Guard who was training Afghan commandos. Taylor, 39, was fatally shot a week ago by one of his Afghan trainees. But Ghani also offered a rare public accounting of the scale of the Afghan losses. He described how their casualties have risen sharply while U.S.-led coalition casualties have declined after Afghan forces assumed responsibility for combat operations in the country. He said that since 2015, 58 American forces have died in Afghanistan. 'In the same period, 28,529 of our security forces have lost their lives and become martyrs,' he said. U.S. military officials have previously indicated that Afghan casualties have been increasing, but they have avoided giving hard figures, apparently because of political sensitivities. In its most recent report to Congress, in October, the special inspector general for Afghanistan said Afghan casualty numbers had been reported only in classified form since September 2017 because the U.S. military command in Kabul said it had stopped making them public at the request of the Afghan government. However, the report said that the average number of casualties between May and October this year was the greatest it has ever been during similar periods. On Oct. 30, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Afghan forces had more than 1,000 dead and wounded during August and September alone, 'and they stayed in the field fighting.' The Trump administration has marginally increased U.S. troop numbers to train Afghan forces and intensify military pressure on the Taliban in hopes of forcing the insurgents to negotiate an end to the 17-year conflict. Successes on the battlefield have been elusive. The inspector general report said the number of districts under Afghan government control and influence has declined and stands at just 55 percent — down 16 percentage points in the past three years. U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is on his second tour of the region in a month, seeking to kick-start a peace process. The diplomatic veteran is making stops in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office. The insurgents say they met Khalilzad in Qatar last month. The Taliban have so far refused direct negotiations with Kabul, which they view as a U.S. puppet. On the sensitive topic of the U.S. role in talks, Ghani said there was 'total agreement' between the U.S. and Afghan governments on moving the peace process forward. 'U.S. engagement is to ensure that talks with the Taliban result not in negotiations with Taliban but with talks, direct talks, between the Afghan government and the Taliban,' he said. He insisted that the Afghan government was seeking a negotiated peace but would not do so 'from a position of weakness.' In a possible sign of America's efforts, Pakistan released two Taliban officials on Monday, members of the militant group said. Abdul Samad Sani, a U.S.-designated terrorist who served as the Afghan Central Bank governor during the militants' rule in the late 1990s, and a lower-ranking commander named Salahuddin, were freed, according to two Taliban officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media. Ghani, however, said Pakistan has yet to demonstrate a 'sense of urgency' in seeking an end to the Afghan conflict and a change in its policies. Kabul has long protested that Afghan Taliban leaders and fighters enjoy sanctuary inside Pakistan, which Islamabad denies. ___ Associated Press writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.
  • Pakistan released two Taliban officials on Monday during U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad's latest visit to the region, in what could be part of American efforts to revive peace talks with the insurgent group, which now controls nearly half of Afghanistan. Abdul Samad Sani, a U.S.-designated terrorist who served as the Afghan Central Bank governor during the militants' rule in the late 1990s, and a lower-ranking commander named Salahuddin, were released Monday, according to two Taliban officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media. There was no immediate comment from the Pakistani government. Khalilzad is on his second regional tour since being appointed, with stops in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates as well as Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office. The insurgents say they met Khalilzad in Qatar last month. Khalilzad arrived in the region last Thursday and will return to Washington on Nov. 20. When Khalilzad was last in the region Pakistan released another Taliban leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the founders of the radical religious movement. Baradar was arrested in 2010 in a joint U.S. and Pakistani operation. At the time, it was reported Baradar was taken into custody by Pakistan after he tried to open independent peace talks with Afghanistan's then-president, Hamid Karzai. In a recent interview, Karzai told The Associated Press he had repeatedly tried to secure Baradar's release but he was thwarted by both Pakistan and the U.S., who wanted him detained because of his stature within the Taliban. Baradar's release has been a long-standing demand of the Taliban. Efforts to find a peaceful end to Afghanistan's protracted war have accelerated in recent months, as a troop surge announced by President Donald Trump last August has done little to change conditions on the ground. In recent months the Taliban have carried out near-daily attacks on Afghan security forces as well as coordinated assaults on major cities. The Taliban have long demanded direct talks with the United States, referring to the Kabul government as puppets. Washington has neither confirmed nor denied a meeting between Khalilzad and the Taliban took place last month. Taliban officials present at the meeting characterized those talks as productive. They said they pressed to have their office in Qatar recognized and agreed to meet again, although no date was set. Afghanistan's fractious government, which is jointly headed by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, has been prickly about direct talks between Washington and the Taliban. In addition to the three Taliban figures recently freed by Pakistan, five senior members of the Taliban who were freed from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in 2014 in exchange for captured U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have joined the insurgent group's political office in Qatar. The induction of the five has significantly strengthened the ability of the Taliban's Qatar office to sell a peace deal to insurgents on the battlefield. Sani's release further reconstitutes the Taliban leadership. Sani was placed on the U.S. terrorist list in January, accused of supplying the Taliban with weapons as well as being a major financier travelling to the Gulf to obtain both money and supplies for the insurgent movement.
  • Several thousand Central American migrants heading for the U.S. border arrived in the western Mexico city of Guadalajara with help from truckers and other motorists Monday, marking a month since their trek began. Many of the migrants boarded waiting buses at the Jalisco state line that carried them to a shelter prepared for them in the city's Benito Juarez Auditorium. Guadalajara municipal police shuttled others in patrol vehicles. The migrants are mostly families from Honduras. At the shelter, officials had the migrants form two lines — one for families and one for men traveling alone. They were offered food and told where to go for donated clothing and free internet to contact their families. Most appear intent on taking the Pacific coast route northward to the border city of Tijuana, which is still about 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers) away. The migrants have come about 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) since they started out in Honduras around Oct. 13. While they previously suffered from the heat on their journey through Honduras, Guatemala and southern Mexico, they now trek along highways wrapped in blankets to fend off the morning chill. Karen Martinez of Copan, Honduras, and her three children bundled up with jackets, scarves and a blanket. 'Sometimes we go along laughing, sometimes crying, but we keep on going,' she said. By late afternoon, the first migrants arrived on the outskirts of Guadalajara. While the caravan previously averaged only about 30 miles (50 kilometers) a day, the migrants are now covering daily distances of 185 miles (300 kilometers) or more, partly because they are relying on hitchhiking rather than walking. On Monday morning, migrants gathered on a highway leading out of the central city of Irapuato looking for rides to Guadalajara about 150 miles (242 kilometers) away. 'Now the route is less complicated,' Martinez said. Indeed, migrants have hopped aboard so many different kinds of trucks that they are no longer surprised by anything. Some have stacked themselves four levels high on a truck intended for pigs. On Monday, a few boarded a truck carrying a shipment of coffins, while yet others squeezed into a truck with narrow cages used for transporting chickens. Many, especially men, travel on open platform trailers used to transport steel and cars, or get in the freight containers of 18-wheelers and ride with one of the back doors open to provide air flow. The practice is not without dangers. Earlier, a Honduran man in the caravan died when he fell from a platform truck in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Jose Alejandro Caray, 17, of Yoro, Honduras, fell a week ago and injured his knee. 'I can't bend it,' Caray said as he watched other migrants swarm aboard tractor-trailers. 'Now I'm afraid to get on,' he said. 'I prefer to wait for a pickup truck.' After several groups got lost after clambering on semi-trailers, caravan coordinators began encouraging migrants to ask drivers first or have someone ride in the cab so they could tell the driver where to turn off. Over the weekend, the central state of Queretaro reported 6,531 migrants moving through the state. Another group was farther behind and was arriving in Mexico City on Monday. The caravan became a campaign issue in U.S. midterm elections and U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered the deployment of over 5,000 military troops to the border to fend off the migrants. Trump has insinuated without proof that there are criminals or even terrorists in the group. Many say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence and political instability primarily in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Mexico has offered refuge, asylum or work visas, and its government said 2,697 temporary visas had been issued to individuals and families to cover them during the 45-day application process for more permanent status. But most migrants vow to continue to the United States. Jose Tulio Rodriguez, 30, of Siguatepeque, Honduras, celebrated his 30th birthday at a migrant shelter in Mexico City last week before setting out with the rest of the caravan. 'The distance between cities is longer' than it was at the start, Rodriguez noted,' but thanks to the people of Mexico, we haven't suffered.' Those distances will get longer the farther they travel into northern Mexico, where towns of any size are often 250 miles (400 kilometers) apart.
  • Ethiopia has arrested 63 intelligence officials, military personnel and businesspeople on allegations of rights violations and corruption, the country's attorney general announced Monday. The sweeping high-profile arrests carried out in recent days are a result of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's order for a months-long investigation into misdoings under the previous government. Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye told the media that some of those arrested are suspected of abuses of prisoners including 'beatings, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution and even killings.' Some of those arrested are accused of mismanaging a state-owned military corporation, the Metal and Engineering Corporation, that was looted in a multi-billion dollar corruption scheme, he said. Berhanu also said that Ethiopia's former spy chief is suspected of involvement in an attempt to assassinate the new prime minster at a rally on June 23. While other officials implicated in the plot have fled the country, the former intelligence chief is now residing in northern Ethiopia and should turn himself in to authorities, he said. Yilikal Getnet, an opposition figure, told The Associated Press the public had demanded the arrests of the former officials. 'These have been issues that we in the opposition have long been calling for, too,' he said, adding that Ethiopia needs a truth and reconciliation process to investigate past misdoings. 'The ruling party alone can't bring justice for all these atrocities committed in the past.' Under the previous government, Ethiopia, a close security ally of the West, used to be accused of rights violations by human rights activists. Since Abiy, 42, came to power in April his new government has released several thousand political prisoners, permitted exiled opposition groups to return home, dropped terror charges against prominent opposition politicians and permitted the media to operate more freely. Despite the reforms, ethnic-based clashes are continuing in some parts of Ethiopia and pose the most serious threat to Abiy's leadership of this East African nation of 100 million people. Amnesty International welcomed the arrests. 'These arrests are an important first step toward ensuring full accountability for the abuses that have dogged the country for several decades,' said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International's East Africa Director. 'Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations, such as torture and the arbitrary detention of people including in secret facilities. We urge the government of Prime Minister Abiy to take further steps to ensure justice and accountability for all past human rights violations and abuses, while at the same time ensuring all the individuals arrested receive fair trials.
  • Congo's two leading opposition parties withdrew from a pact to support a single presidential contender on Monday, significantly weakening efforts to defeat the ruling party candidate backed by long-time President Joseph Kabila. The dramatic development came less than 24 hours after representatives of the Central African nation's opposition parties announced in Geneva that they had collectively chosen Martin Fayulu Madidi to face ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary in the Dec. 23 vote. Among the three top contenders not chosen was Felix Tshisekedi, son of the late opposition icon Etienne Tshisekedi. The elder Tshisekedi helped found the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, known as the UDPS, and led political efforts against Kabila until dying in February 2017. Sunday's announcement of Fayulu's candidacy has prompted uproar in the UDPS ranks, even prompting some to set tires ablaze in the capital, Kinshasa. 'I have realized that the action we took in Geneva was not understood by the party base,' he announced on Top Congo FM radio Monday evening. 'As a result I am removing my signature in the name of UDPS from this agreement we have signed in Geneva.' Fayulu, a 62-year-old legislator, had supported Etienne Tshisekedi in the 2011 presidential election. Another prominent opposition party, the UNC led by Vital Kamerhe, also said it was withdrawing from the pact. The moves mark a serious setback for opposition efforts to unify before the election. Kabila has been in power since 2001 and his mandate expired in late 2016. But he has remained in office while organizing elections, a move his critics say was aimed at maintaining his grip on power. ___ Krista Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal.
  • The Latest on Europe's migration crisis (all times local): 6:50 p.m. Bulgarian officials are signaling the country will not sign a global pact to promote safe and orderly migration, saying that it would harm national interests. The floor leader of the main ruling center-right GERB party in parliament, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said after a meeting of the ruling coalition that 'the position of the Bulgarian government will be not to join the United Nations' global pact on migration.' GERB's coalition partner, the United Patriots, strongly opposes the U.N. pact, saying it poses a threat to national interests. Bulgaria's parliament will debate the pact on Wednesday. The ruling coalition holds a thin majority of 122 legislators in the 240-seat chamber. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which won't be legally binding, was finalized under U.N. auspices in July. It is due to be formally approved at a Dec. 11-12 meeting in Marrakech, Morocco. Bulgaria's government has adopted a tough stance against mass migration to Europe. The Balkan country has sealed off its border with Turkey with a barbed wire fence to halt the influx of illegal crossings. ___ 10:30 a.m. Turkey's state-run news agency says the country's coast guard has launched a search-and-rescue mission to locate 10 migrants who are reported missing after their boat sank in the Aegean Sea. Anadolu Agency says the boat went down on Monday off the coast of Dikili, in Izmir province, close to the Greek island of Lesbos. It said authorities launched the rescue operation after two of the migrants managed to swim to shore to seek help. There was no immediate detail on the nationalities of the migrants. Although their numbers have decreased in recent years, migrants still try to cross into Greece from nearby Turkey in the hopes of making their way to other European countries.
  • Romania's president said Monday his country isn't ready to take over the European Union's rotating presidency on Jan. 1 and called for the government to step down. President Klaus Iohannis said 'things have gone off the rails,' and that there was 'a political necessity to replace the government,' which he called 'an accident of Romanian democracy.' Viorica Dancila, a little-known politician became premier in January, but has little executive power as Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party, basically runs the government. Dragnea can't be prime minister because of a conviction for vote-rigging. 'It's the 12th hour (and) we are totally unprepared,' Iohannis said. 'There's no chance of a good government ... or proper involvement in European affairs.' European Affairs Minister Victor Negrescu, tasked with preparing Romania to take over the EU presidency, unexpectedly resigned last week. Romania government officials were apparently dissatisfied with Negrescu's performance in building good relations within the EU's executive branch. 'It's unclear at the government who the responsible people are, 'Iohannis said. 'People who should be dealing with the EU presidency resign or they're dismissed.' Dragnea called the president's comments 'a major disservice to Romania.' Romania is already facing censure from the EU over a contentious judicial overhaul last year that the bloc says undermines the fight against corruption. Last month, EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova voiced concern about Romania potentially struggling to manage the presidency while it was weighed down by domestic concerns, in particular corruption. The EU on Tuesday will present its latest report on the judicial systems of Romania and Bulgaria. The bloc monitors the countries, amid concerns about corruption, their justice systems and organized crime. ___ Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.

News

  • Walmart announced Monday it will start giving military spouses a hiring preference. >> Read more trending news  There are more than 500,000 active duty military spouses nationwide, according to a company statement. While the U.S. unemployment rate is around 4 percent, the same rate among military spouses is 26 percent, with a 25 percent wage gap compared to their civilian counterparts. “Military spouses are unsung heroes,” said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon. “They serve in partnership with their uniformed spouses, and we want to honor them and help them find a job or build an amazing career.” The new Military Spouse Career Connection builds on the plans to hire 250,000 military veterans by 2020. So far, Walmart stores nationwide have hired 212,000, according to a company statement. “Walmart has offered me amazing career opportunities after I completed my military service. I honestly did not know what career direction I was going to take once I came home,” said Ed Gregorek, store manager at a Cleveland Walmart who served 13 years in the Army. >> Trending: Double homicide haunts family, police 33 years later Candidates must meet hiring criteria. Jobs can be found at at walmartspouseswithamission.com.
  • The wedding band has been in his family for more than a hundred years. So, when he noticed it was no longer on his finger at Saturday's Georgia football game, Stuart Howell said his heart dropped.
  • Two-way star Shohei Ohtani was a singular sensation in voting for AL Rookie of the Year. A standout on the mound and at the plate for the Los Angeles Angels, Ohtani was an overwhelming pick for American League Rookie of the Year after becoming the first player since Babe Ruth a century ago with 10 homers and four pitching wins in the same season. Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. was a runaway pick for the NL honor over Washington outfielder Juan Soto in a contest between 20-year-olds. A 24-year-old right-hander who joined the Angels last winter after five seasons with Japan's Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani received 25 first-place votes and four seconds for 137 points from the Baseball Writers' Association of America in balloting announced Monday. A pair of New York Yankees infielders followed. Miguel Andujar was second with five firsts and 89 points, and Gleyber Torres was next with 25 points. Ohtani was 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts over 51 2/3 innings in 10 starts, limited by a torn elbow ligament that required surgery on Oct. 1 and likely will prevent him from pitching next year. As a designated hitter, he batted .285 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs and a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances. He became the first player with 15 homers as a batter and 50 strikeouts as a pitcher in the same season. Ohtani is the first Japanese player to win the honor since Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 and the fourth overall. Andujar hit .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBIs in 149 games. The 23-year-old third baseman set a Yankees rookie record with 47 doubles, three more than Joe DiMaggio in 1936, and tied the AL rookie mark for doubles set by Boston's Fred Lynn in 1975. Torres, 21, began the season at Triple-A after missing the second half of 2017 with a torn ligament in his non-throwing arm. The second baseman made his big league debut April 22 and hit .271 with 24 homers and 77 RBIs. The 20-year-old Acuna received 27 first-place votes and three seconds for 144 points. Soto got two firsts and 89 points, and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler was next with one first and 28 points. Acuna started the season at Triple-A and made his debut on April 25, the youngest player in the majors then at 20 years, 128 days. The Venezuelan hit .293 with 26 homers, 64 RBIs and 16 steals with a .917 OPS. He set a Braves record with eight leadoff homers this season and tied a franchise mark by homering in five straight games from Aug. 11-14. Soto debuted on May 20 at 19 years, 207 days, although in a quirk the Dominican is credited with a home run from five days before his debut — he went deep on June 18 against the New York Yankees in the completion of the May 15 suspended game. Soto hit .292 with 22 homers, 70 RBIs and a .923 OPS. He was two shy of Tony Conigliaro's big league record for home runs by a teenager. Buehler, a 23-year-old right-hander, was 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA in 23 starts and one relief appearance. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Congratulations to Atlanta Braves superstar Ronald Acuña, Jr. on winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award! Acuña finished 2018 with 26 home runs, a .293 batting average and 64 runs batted in. Ronnie ROY. Your 2018 NL Rookie of the Year: @ronaldacunajr24. pic.twitter.com/7b6UX7EIR9 — MLB (@MLB) November 12, 2018 The 20-year-old beat out Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler. Acuña is the first Braves player to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award award since Craig Kimbrel in 2011. Before that, Rafael Furcal won in 2000. 
  • A woman who owns land near where a deadly wildfire started in Northern California said Monday that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. sought access to her property just before the blaze started because the utility's power lines were causing sparks. It's still not clear what caused the massive fire that started Thursday, killing at least 29 people and destroying the Sierra Nevada foothill town of Paradise. PG&E has said it experienced a problem on an electrical transmission line near the site of the massive fire, minutes before the blaze broke out. The fire started on 64 acres of land in Pulga, California, owned by Betsy Ann Cowley. Cowley told The Associated Press she received an email from the utility on Wednesday telling her that crews needed to come to her property to work on the high-power lines because 'they were having problems with sparks.' PG&E declined to discuss the email when contacted by AP. Two days before the fire started, PG&E told customers in nine counties, including Butte County, that it might shut off their power Nov. 8 because of extreme fire danger. The fire started about 6:30 a.m. that morning. Later that day, PG&E said it had decided against a power cut because weather conditions did not warrant one.
  • The deadly wildfires whipping through California have killed more than 30 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. Officials are calling the fires the worst in state history. >> Read more trending news  Celebrities, such as Miley Cyrus, Martin Sheen, Gerard Butler and others, are not immune to the flames and have lost homes and property alongside average citizens.  One couple in particular, well-known car enthusiasts and collectors Gary and Diane Cerveny, reportedly lost an irreplaceable collection of classic and rare vehicles worth millions, according to Autoweek. Hotrod.com described the couple as “the best kind of car collectors” and called their collection “eclectic.”  There was a Ferrari Dino, a ’65 Pontiac GTO gasser, a ’66 Dodge Dart, a Marty Robbins NASCAR, a ’66 Dodge Charger, a ’71 Plymouth Barracuda, a ’97 Dodge Viper, a Studebaker kart hauler and perhaps the rarest car in the collection, the one-of-a-kind 1948 Norman Timbs Special. >> Related: Photos: California wildfires kill dozens, destroy entire town The dramatic streamliner was created in the 1940s by mechanical engineer Norman Timbs, according to Conceptcarz.com. The elegant, swooping custom car took over three years to build, then eventually disappeared. It was rediscovered in the desert in 2002 and restored. >> Related: Actor Martin Sheen flees Malibu wildfire; says little chance home survived The Cervenys kept their collection at a shop in Malibu, which has been ravaged by the wildfires.