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A stunned Puerto Rico seeks to rebuild after Hurricane Maria
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans stunned by a hurricane that crushed concrete balconies, twisted metal gates and paralyzed the island with landslides, flooding and downed trees vowed to slowly rebuild amid an economic crisis as rescue crews fanned out across the U.S. territory Thursday. The extent of the damage is unknown given that dozens of municipalities remained isolated and without communication after Maria hit the island Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years. Uprooted trees and widespread flooding blocked many highways and streets across the island, creating a maze that forced drivers to go against traffic and past police cars that used loudspeakers to warn people they must respect a 6 p.m.


Trapped girl a symbol for Mexico's quake rescue efforts
MEXICO CITY (AP) - A delicate effort to reach a young girl buried in the rubble of her school stretched into a daylong vigil for Mexico, much of it broadcast across the nation as rescue workers still struggled in rain and darkness early Thursday trying to pick away unstable debris and reach her. The sight of her wiggling fingers early Wednesday became a symbol for the hope that drove thousands of professionals and volunteers to work frantically at dozens of wrecked buildings across the capital and nearby states looking for survivors of the magnitude 7.1 quake that killed at least 245 people in central Mexico and injured over 2,000.


UN mission in Congo forces reckoning over sex abuse scandal
BUNIA, Congo (AP) - She had been orphaned by a brutal conflict, but the 14-year-old girl found refuge in a camp protected by U.N. peacekeepers. The camp should have been safe that day: A delegation from the United Nations was paying a visit, and her grandmother had left her in charge of her siblings. That was the day, the girl says, that a Pakistani peacekeeper slipped inside their home and raped her in front of the other children. It was an attack so brazen it still haunts the U.N.'s top human rights official more than a decade after hearing the girl's story.


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Ex-prosecutors unsure if nursing home deaths involved crimes
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) - Nine elderly patients died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital. From the perspective of Florida Gov. Rick Scott and relatives of those at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, criminal charges are warranted. But under Florida law, a prosecution might be difficult. Two of three ex-state prosecutors contacted by The Associated Press had doubts as to whether Dr. Jack Michel, the home's owner, or any of his employees will be charged.


Emails point to Manafort offer to brief Russian in campaign
WASHINGTON (AP) - In the middle of Donald Trump's presidential run, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort said he was willing to provide "private briefings" about the campaign to a Russian billionaire the U.S. government considers close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Manafort's offer was memorialized in an email exchange with a former employee of his political consulting firm in July 2016. It was first reported by The Washington Post, which said portions of Manafort's emails were read to reporters. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni confirmed to The Associated Press that the email exchanges were legitimate but said no briefings ever occurred. The email involved an offer for Oleg Deripaska, a wealthy Russian who made his money in the aluminum business.


NKorea minister calls Trump's threat 'sound of dog barking'
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea's foreign minister has described as "the sound of a dog barking" President Donald Trump's threat to destroy his country. The comments are the North's first response to Trump's debut speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, during which he vowed to "totally destroy North Korea" if provoked. Trump also called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "Rocket man." The North's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters in New York late Wednesday that "It would be a dog's dream if he intended to scare us with the sound of a dog barking." South Korean TV footage also showed Ri saying he feels "sorry for his aides" when he was asked about Trump's "Rocket man" comments.


Business ties complicate Muslim states' response to Rohingya
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - When Rohingya Muslims fled persecution and slaughter in Myanmar in past decades, tens of thousands found refuge in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites. This time around, Muslim leaders from the Persian Gulf to Pakistan have offered little more than condemnation and urgently needed humanitarian aid. The lack of a stronger response by Muslim-majority countries partly comes down to their lucrative business interests in Southeast Asia, experts say. Much of the Middle East is also buckling under its own refugee crisis sparked by years of upheaval in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan. More than 500,000 people - roughly half the Rohingya Muslim population in Myanmar - have fled to neighboring Bangladesh over the past year, mostly in the last month.


Bet on Trump or challenge Israel? Palestinians mull strategy
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - After more than two decades of failures, Palestinians are increasingly questioning their leaders' strategy of reaching statehood through negotiations with Israel. A majority believes that the "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer possible, despite pledges by President Donald Trump that he would try to broker a deal and a new round of Mideast meetings on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly this week. Such skepticism largely stems from continued Israeli settlement in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which some believe has passed the point of no return. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in the past said he does not want to rule the Palestinians, recently declared that Israel cannot give up control over the West Bank.


SEC reveals 2016 hack that breached its filing system
NEW YORK (AP) - The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that a cyber breach of a filing system it uses may have provided the basis for some illegal trading in 2016. In a statement posted on the SEC's website, Chairman Jay Clayton said a review of the agency's cybersecurity risk profile determined that the previously detected "incident" was caused by "a software vulnerability" in its EDGAR filing system. The statement said the software was patched quickly after the hack was uncovered in 2016, although the possibility that some may have used it to make illegal profits was only discovered last month.


THE NEXT ONE? 13-year-old hoops phenom invites AP on journey
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Emoni Bates walks out a front door of Clague Middle School with just inches to spare. A wide smile tops his 6-foot-7, extra-lean frame. He's holding a seventh-grade honor society certificate in his right hand. His braces gleam in the afternoon sun. Meet the best 13-year-old basketball player in America, according to some recruiting services. One of his highlight reels on YouTube has been viewed about 1 million times. "I don't really pay attention to it," Emoni insists in a voice just louder than a whisper, "because if I pay attention to it, it's just going to get to my head.