As US warns of Cuba attacks, tourists ask: Were we hit, too?

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Chris Allen's sudden loss of sensation on a private visit to Cuba three years ago puts him on of a growing list of Americans asking if they, too, were victims of mysterious, invisible attacks.

The South Carolina native got into bed on his first night in the same Havana hotel where the U.S. says embassy workers have been attacked. Within minutes the tingling spread to all four limbs. He rushed back to the U.S., but the numbness persisted for months as doctors tried and failed to find a cause.

There's no conclusive proof that Allen's symptoms are connected to the 22 "medically confirmed" cases. But Allen's case illustrates the essential paradox of the Havana mystery: If you can't say what the attacks are, how can you say what they're not?


Trump remarks on Kelly contrast with quiet tribute to son

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's known as some of the saddest ground in America, a 14-acre plot of Arlington National Cemetery called Section 60 where many U.S. personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are interred. On Memorial Day this year, President Donald Trump and the man who would be his chief of staff visited Grave 9480, the final resting place of Robert Kelly, a Marine killed Nov. 9, 2010, in Afghanistan.

"We grieve with you. We honor you. And we pledge to you that we will always remember Robert and what he did for all of us," Trump said, singling out the Kelly family during his remarks to the nation that day. Turning to Robert's father, then the secretary of homeland security, Trump added, "Thank you, John."

The quiet tribute contrasts with Trump's messy brawl this week with critics of his handling of condolences to Gold Star families who, like Kelly, have lost people to recent warfare. Trump brought up the loss of Kelly's son as part of an attack on former President Barack Obama, dragging the family's searing loss into a political fight over who has consoled grieving families better. Kelly has not commented on the controversy, but it was exactly the sort of public attention to a personal tragedy that the reserved, retired Marine general would abhor.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged Kelly was "disgusted" that the condolence calls had been politicized, but said she was not certain if the chief of staff knew Trump was going to talk about his son publicly.

Trump sparked the controversy during an interview Tuesday with Fox News Radio. Asked whether he'd called the families of Americans killed in Niger nearly two weeks before, Trump replied, "You could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?"


Spain ready to revoke Catalan autonomy amid independence bid

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spain's government on Thursday immediately rejected a threat by Catalonia's leader to explicitly declare independence unless talks are held, calling a special Cabinet session for the weekend to activate measures to take control of the region's semi-autonomous powers.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont's warning came in a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with minutes to spare before the expiration of a deadline set by the central government for him to backtrack on his calls for secession.

"If the central government persists in impeding dialogue and continuing its repression, Catalonia's parliament will proceed ... with a vote to formally declare independence," Puigdemont's letter said.

Spain's government quickly responded with a statement saying it was calling a special Cabinet session for Saturday in which it would trigger the process to activate Article 155 of Spain's 1978 Constitution. It allows for central authorities to take over the semi-autonomous powers of any of the country's 17 regions, including Catalonia.

The Cabinet meeting will "approve the measures that will be sent to the Senate to protect the general interest of all Spaniards," the statement said.


Police capture shooter they say targeted 6 people he knew

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A sweeping multistate manhunt that kept the Mid-Atlantic region on high alert for more than 10 hours ended when law enforcement officers on foot chased down a man they say shot six people, killing three, in two separate shootings.

Radee Prince, 37, of Elkton, Maryland, shot five co-workers early Wednesday at a granite company in Maryland, then drove to Wilmington, Delaware, and shot an acquaintance in the head at a used car lot, police in Maryland and Delaware said.

Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy said at a news conference Wednesday night that police and federal agents arrested Prince after they spotted him in the Glasgow neighborhood. He'd left his SUV near a high school and a civilian notified authorities. Officers found him nearby, and he ran about 75 feet (23 meters), throwing away a gun, before being arrested. No one was hurt in the capture.

"I even get chills talking about it because I know what it's like when we do hunt individuals that are desperate," Tracy said.

Tracy said the attacks were targeted and Prince knew each of his victims.


More conflicts loom after Islamic State defeat in Raqqa

BEIRUT (AP) — The Middle East may have turned a page with the defeat of the Islamic State group in its self-declared capital of Raqqa, but the future is looking even more tangled, and potentially as violent.

The downfall of a common enemy could open up cracks in temporary alliances created to fight the extremists, and rivalries for influence are now likely to take center stage.

Already, a multitude of players in the crowded theaters of Iraq and Syria are racing for the spoils of war. And while the group fights its last battles in what remains of its self-styled caliphate, world powers and smaller players alike are vying to create new facts on the ground.


With the pivotal capture of east Aleppo in late 2016, President Bashar Assad's government effectively neutralized its most threatening armed opposition, allowing it to train its full attention on IS.


Trump kicks issues to Congress, is erratic trading partner

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is proving to be an erratic trading partner as he kicks thorny policy issues to Congress and then sends conflicting signals about what he really wants.

His rapid backpedal on a short-term health care fix this week is the latest example to leave Republicans and Democrats alike scratching their heads.

"The president has had six positions on our bill," an exasperated Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Wednesday after Trump offered multiple reads on a bipartisan plan to keep health insurance markets in business, ultimately ending with a thumbs-down.

Nine months into office, Trump has shown a preference for delegating to lawmakers on everything from health care to immigration to foreign policy. Sometimes he creates situations that demand a congressional solution. In other cases, he sets difficult-to-achieve broad policy goals and expects lawmakers to fill in the fine print.

Along the way, he's proven to be an unpredictable force. He encouraged Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to work with Murray on a bipartisan solution on insurer payments, only to announce after some wavering that he wouldn't support it.


China's conflicted goals: Freer markets, more party control

BEIJING (AP) — China's ruling Communist Party is expanding its role in business even as it promises freer markets and support for entrepreneurs on the eve of President Xi Jinping's second five-year term as leader.

Party officials are tightening their control over state-owned enterprises and want a voice in how some foreign companies are run. State companies that dominate energy and other fields are being made even bigger through mergers. Some are forming ties with private sector success stories such as tech giants Alibaba and Tencent to draw on their skills.

Beijing's conflicting goals are raising concerns that leaders might put off changes needed to reinvigorate a cooling economy that faces surging debt and trade tensions with Washington and Europe.

"There is no grand vision. There are parallel goals that are competing with each other," said Andrew Polk, an economist at Trivium/China, a research firm in Beijing. "We are not sure which ones are going to win out at a given moment."

No major policy changes are expected out of the twice-a-decade party congress that is due to re-appoint Xi as general secretary. The party also will name a Standing Committee, the country's ruling inner circle of power, in preparation for installing a new government in early 2018.


5 months of Marawi siege reveals Philippine city in ruins

MARAWI, Philippines (AP) — Smoke wafted from the smoldering carcasses of buildings and houses, with the dome of a mosque blasted out with holes, as Philippine troops battled Thursday to defeat a final stand by the last dozens of pro-Islamic State group militants in a southern city.

The desolate war scene, which was witnessed by Associated Press journalists on board a navy patrol gunboat in Lake Lanao, could herald what the government hopes will be the end of a nearly five-month siege by the militants in Marawi city.

Filipino troops killed 13 more suspected militants Wednesday night, including one believed to be a top Malaysian terror suspect although his body hasn't been recovered yet, military officials said.

"Our troops are continuing their assault," army Col. Romeo Brawner said after his news conference in Marawi was disrupted by loud explosions reverberating from the final area of battle, about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away. About 20 to 30 militants continue to fight back, he said.

While troops pressed their assault with artillery and gunfire, officers used loudspeakers to ask the militants, many of them positioned in a bullet-pocked two-story building, to surrender. The building stands on a pier by the lake near a huge gunfire-scarred welcome sign that says "I (love) Marawi."


Older couples die together or cling to each other in fires

Some had just celebrated marriages of half a century or longer. They spent their time volunteering and playing with grandchildren. A few had lived through both world wars.

The vast majority of the 42 people killed in the wildfires that have ravaged Northern California were in their 70s and 80s. Several were couples who died together, including childhood sweethearts who had grown old together.

A 95-year-old man and his 75-year-old wife spent their final moments huddled in the wine cellar of their home where they had lived for 45 years.

The oldest victim — 100-year-old World War II veteran Charles Rippey, who used a walker — is believed to have been trying to make it to his 98-year-old wife, Sara, who had limited mobility after a stroke. Their caretaker barely escaped alive before the roof collapsed and the blaze engulfed the house.

An 80-year-old man never made it past his driveway after getting his 80-year-old wife into the car to escape. The two were born four days apart and died together.


Recovery, reconstruction go slowly after Mexico earthquake

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Wearing a hardhat, Rodrigo Diaz Mejia steps onto the hood of a crushed car and then gingerly into an apartment cracked open by the Sept. 19 earthquake. Inside he spots a photo of two young boys hanging on a wall spider-webbed with deep cracks. He puts it under his arm to carry it out for the family.

For weeks, the mechanic by trade has been climbing through broken walls and over buckled floors in the increasingly unstable buildings of the Tokio 517 apartment complex in central Mexico City to emerge with prized photos, clothes and documents for grateful residents. But now, he says, rains and further shifts mean he may have to stop taking the risk.

The buildings "have settled a bit more and the walls have opened a bit more. Things have fallen. They are starting to want to collapse at any moment," he said of the complex of three apartment buildings in the Portales Norte neighborhood, two of which collapsed.

Thousands of Mexico City residents have been unable to return to their collapsed or severely damaged buildings one month after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake killed 228 people in the capital and many say they have not yet received promised financial assistance.

Hundreds of buildings were evacuated after the quake and efforts to tear down the ones too damaged to be repaired are only just beginning. Crews will strip buildings of anything that could be a hazard and begin the slow process of low-tech demolition in an urban setting.